When I'm cleaning out my closet, I'm brutal about what I keep and what I don't. I try on "iffy" clothes to see if I still like them. If the clothes don't fit perfectly and if I don't feel great in them, I try to get rid of them. Because who wants to feel blecky in your own clothes?
This time around, it was hard to get rid of clothes that once were my favorites. But my body has changed. I've had a baby. I've had surgeries. I've been working out regularly this year, and I'm getting arm muscles--crazy! Anyway, trying on my clothes, I tried to remember my happiness commandment--to "Forget not the beauty of the in-between." And to try to dress my current body--not the body I used to have, not the body I want to have one day, but the wonderful healthy body I have right now. Because this in-between body--not the body of my youth, or the body I picture having when I'm super-diligent about workouts--is strong. I can race my students across the playground, and sometimes win! I can stand all day washing dishes and folding laundry without my back hurting. I can do pilates and be much less shaky than I was a few months ago. These are all gifts.
I read a poem this week that really inspired me. It's by Anne Sexton, who lived a tough, troubled life, but who had moments of amazing insight and clarity, and wrote this during one such moment. She sometimes called herself Ms. Dog (she loved palindromes and liked that dog was God backwards, both lowly and lofty at once!). Anyway, here's the poem:
"Ms. Dog prefers to sunbathe nude.
Let the indifferent sky look on.
Let Mrs. Sewal pull the curtain back from her second story.
Let United Parcel Service see my parcel.
La de dah.
Sun, you hammer of yellow,
you hat on fire,
you honeysuckle mama,
pour your blonde on me!
Let me laugh for an entire hour
at your supreme being, your Cadillac stuff,
because I've come a long way
from Brussels sprouts.
I've come a long way to peel off my clothes
and lay me down in the grass.
Once only my palms showed.
Once I hung around in my woolly tank suit,
drying my hair in those little meatball curls.
Now I am clothed in gold air with
one dozen halos glistening on my skin.
I am a fortunate lady.
I've gotten out of my pouch
and my teeth are glad
and my heart, that witness,
beats well at the thought.
Oh body, be glad.
You are good goods."
Body, you are good goods, indeed. I am thankful, grateful, glad for the muscles that move me each day to my teaching, my laughing, my dog-petting, my husband-hugging, my dish-washing, my thinking, my living of life. And I think it's high time we looked at our bodies with such gladness. Be they new or withered, strong or weak, broken or mending, or somewhere in-between.
What about you? What about your body do you most appreciate?