You are beautiful.

you_are_beautiful_525

This sign sits on the wall next to my bathroom mirror. It’s the first thing I see when I get out of the shower in the morning and as I dry off I read those words- You are beautiful.

Sometimes a voice in me says, “Ha! Yeah, right.” Other times it makes me smile. Some days, I make a practice of trying it on. What if that were true? What about that feels true? 

When I was 9 years old, I remember my gymnastics coach telling my mother that my legs were chunky and that I needed to lose weight. (I was a competitive gymnast and was as strong + athletic as can be)

I remember a close family member calling me thunder thighs, maybe once, maybe more? And I remember the warm wash of shame that flooded my cheeks and the immediate desire to hide my legs. Like, forever. (Which I mostly did)

I remember when my best friend in high school told me about something revolutionary she discovered - If you eat too much, just throw up! and it’s like it never happened. Then she showed me exactly how to do it in the school bathroom stall. It made me feel relieved, like no matter what, there was an escape hatch. There was no mistake you couldn’t undo.

I used to think that if I was just perfect enough, I could be worthy of love.

Yours truly, photo by Sasha Wizansky

Me, La Paz, Mexico, photo by Sasha Wizansky

My body has changed since the above photo was taken 15  years ago. My washboard tummy has been replaced by something much more smooshy and mama-like. There is an extra layer of flesh that never disappeared after boy #2 and I find myself sucking it in for photos. I even suck it in for myself in the mirror! (How funny to deny my new reality even to myself)

And then there are the disappearing boobs. The ones that were once perky little scoops (a term my friend and I affectionately coined upon discovering we were boob twins) and now are, well, slightly melted scoops.

But here’s the irony.

Those words – you are beautiful- have never felt more true.

How is that even possible? How can I be feeling beautiful for the first time in my life?

At the beginning of last year I had a remarkable angel reading with Laurel Bleadon-Maffei. She shared a lot of wisdom with me, but the thing that stuck was when she said this – If you want something new to come through you, you have to stop looking back at what you’ve done in the past. If you could take the next 6 months as a kind of sabbatical, I would suggest that, although I know that might not feel realistic on this plane. But think of the next 6 months as such – Daydream. Walk in the woods. Sit at the beach. Allow the next thing to find you. What is it that you want to bring to the world? Let your higher self and your knowing speak to you.

For me, this was an entirely new approach to creativity. And it required a kind of trust I wasn’t so sure about. Really? Walk in the woods for the next 6 months? Daydreaming sounded so flaky. The part of me that tends toward Type A felt threatened- everyone is going to get ahead of me! I’m going to fade into obscurity! I’m not going to make any money! I’m going to WASTE. SO. MUCH. TIME.

But here’s what I discovered. Walking in the woods allowed the words to come when I sat at my desk. Going to yoga class made space for great ideas to find me while I relaxed in savasana at the end. Having coffee with friends sparked inspiration + helped me shape my fledgling ideas. Having little adventures made space for delight, rejuvenation + fun stories to share.

There is a way that putting a little yin in my yang helped my creativity find me. I didn’t have to pursue it so much as be awake + alive + ready to receive. It also made space for a deeper knowing to come through. It felt like a distinctly feminine approach to creativity.

andrea_selfie_2013_400

Putting a little yin in my yang helped me to integrate my feminine. I learned to embrace my softer side. The part of me that wants to wear pink. The part that is willing to be vulnerable. The part of me that can hold things with so much more compassion.

It’s compassion that has helped me embrace my imperfect, very  human self. It’s compassion that has turned me from feeling unlovable (broken, damaged goods) into something beautiful + cracked + holy.

Self-compassion (and the wisdom of age) has allowed me to see my own beauty. Not the perfect, magazine kind of beauty, but the real kind. The kind that stays with you a lifetime. The kind that is your essence. Your magic.

 

*In honor of Susannah Conway’s birthday a collection of us have come together to talk about aging in empowering and beautiful ways. So honored to be part of it!

 

 

28 Comments

  1. Posted February 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I have recently been thinking about taking some time away from the need to do more, create more, push myself constantly. It is scary to let go and think that the tiny amounts of progress I have made might disappear. But, the day after I told myself that I could let go a bit a new idea grabbed me. I am excited to work on it but also to try to find balance and contentment with just letting things be.

  2. Posted February 5, 2014 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    P.S. Thanks for sharing your beauty and inspiration!

  3. Posted February 5, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    You are beautiful, Andrea. And you have helped me to see my own beauty – to fucking own it! To see my stretchmarks as a sign of bringing two new souls into the world. To see my surgery scars as a sign of having survived kanswer. To see my short hair as a sign of having chosen to cut my hair before chemo took it away. So much beauty and strength. So much hope and so many good memories – all written and painted and etched into the canvas that is my body. Thank you for this piece and for being your beautiful self.

    And what is it with adults calling kids names??? When I was young, I had an uncle who called me “ugly.” Not Gail, but ugly. Until I was in my 20s, I just took it. Then one day, I said, “My name is not ugly, it is Gail.” Why do they do that? And why did our parents not step in and stop the madness then???

  4. Posted February 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Yes!!!

  5. Posted February 5, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I love your last sentence! :-) Self-love is really all about having compassion for oneself. So beautifully written. I am going to be taking lots of time reading and rereading all of these ‘changing the world’ posts today. Yours is the first I have read, and I am putting this beautiful glowing gem of yours in my imaginary, soft, red velvet satchel, which I will always treasure,and open frequently, turning the gems over and over, holding them up to the light. Thank you!

  6. Posted February 5, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful, Andrea. I’m so glad that you gifted yourself the time off to discover these gorgeously worthy parts of yourself. Thank you for sharing your story. xo

  7. Romanesque
    Posted February 5, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    What a positively beautiful meditation. Thank you, Andrea.

  8. Posted February 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Andrea, for this. I am in a place in my life right now wherein reading this feels like The Universe is really listening and, as always, is being so supportive in infinite ways. To trust where I am, to allow this space to guide me, to love all parts of myself, to heal, to be nourished… “to allow the next thing to find you” :) And then to know myself all over again in ways that I may have forgotten or never learned. ♥

  9. Posted February 5, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful… cracked… holy. Oh, love, this actually brought a tear to my eye. Thank you so much for this! xx

  10. isavoyage
    Posted February 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Yes.
    Something that helps me when i find myself ugly, not good enough, not worth etc is to remember that if i think this way about myself i can think this way about other people. And that is not how i think or approach other people, nor is it how i want to think or approach other people. When i’m ugly in my own thoughts it makes other people be possibly ugly. It helps me to remember this and apply to myself the oppeness i apply to others.
    Not sure this is very clear it’s not so easy to say it in English.
    Oh and to me you are such an amazingly beautiful human and woman Andrea!

  11. Posted February 5, 2014 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Incubation. You are relishing in incubation. I love it. Holy and beautiful you are, my love.

  12. Posted February 5, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful + cracked + holy. Ohhhhh. You are. We all are. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece. It feels like a meditation on love + compassion.

  13. Posted February 5, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    What a truly BEAUTIFUL post. Your words are gorgeous and I have recently decided to follow the path of sweet surrender … AND amazing things have already begun to unfold. Much love to you gorgeous! X

  14. Posted February 6, 2014 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    xo to you, beautiful.

  15. Posted February 6, 2014 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    Love THIS. Love YOU. xoxo

  16. Posted February 6, 2014 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    You are beautiful. Thanks for this post, al you do xx

  17. Posted February 6, 2014 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Very inspiring read. Thanks for sharing this!xo

  18. Posted February 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Good Morning!

    What a great article, it’s interesting how someone else’s perception of reality ( calling us this or that) can effect change far beyond the days it was first spoken.

    “If you want something new to come through you, you have to stop looking back at what you’ve done in the past.”

    I started reading “Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr. Joe Dispenza and in the second chapter he writes about how looking at the past creates thoughts that are inlign with the past and thus manifest in our current reality, literally repeated the past…over…and over…and over again. And with each thought it “re-minds” us and makes that believe stronger, until ( if we don’t change our thoughts) they become a subconscious “program” that runs our life without us even being aware.

    Thank you for this great blog post… and to everyone here… “you are beautiful!”

  19. Posted February 6, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Andrea, that’s such a powerful & beautiful post. I wish 20yr old me understood that. I guess wisdom comes with age. Having just turned 50yrs a couple of weeks ago, I’m more me than I’ve ever been. More grounded, happy, secure, self-confident and beautiful. Thank you for the reminder of what all those things mean. As a side note, I related to your comments about your thighs and throwing up food. I was a gymnast and it was so normal for my teammates and I to do that… I ended up becoming seriously overweight as an adult. Happy to now be healthy and winning my war on losing that weight… for my health and myself ;)

  20. CLH
    Posted February 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    You are thoroughly lovely. And that kind of knowing is magic, no matter when it arrives. I keep an image of a Kintsugi bowl on the wall in front of my desk . . . and your last paragraph sort of sums up why. We were never going to be perfect. We never were perfect, nor have we ever met such a creature (except maybe my dog — he’s darn close). It’s a cultural demand, internalized. And perfection’s got nothing to do with beauty or love. Or *making* beauty, or character, or integrity, or delight, or love. Behold. Beautiful — and interesting — no?http://www.pinterest.com/uberECOcool/kintsugi-saving-broken-ceramics-with-gold/

  21. Elisa Mikiten
    Posted February 7, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Gail. We parents stand up when adults comment on our kids. If I had called my sister fat, I would have been excused from the room, but when my Aunt Rose called me “fffaaattttt” with a hiss, my parents said nothing and bought her lunch.

    Second, your 40 year old eyes look at the pictures of your 25 year old self and see beauty you probably missed at the time. So use older eyes. My 47 year old eyes see my graying hair, and i think “ugh,” but when I fast forward and look at myself today through my 60 year old eyes, I think, “what gorgeous dark hair.” Use older eyes. They’re wiser.

  22. Posted February 9, 2014 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Such a lovely post. The real kind of beautiful. Thanks!

  23. Maryam
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Love this! You are beautiful. Thank you so much xx

  24. Posted February 12, 2014 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    It’s things like this that make me really look forwards to being a decade older than I am now. There seems to be some kind of major inner peace breakthrough that happens… <3

  25. Posted February 14, 2014 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Your growth just shines through in your writing, and it has ever since I started reading this blog many moons ago! I love seeing people like you that take it all in and embrace and accept and LOVE.

  26. M Payne
    Posted February 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    This is so brilliant Andrea! To see how brave you’ve been to step back and just be – its so inspiring, as your posts always are. As I move into a new phase (the boy will be in kindergarten in the fall and my life outside of the home opens up again!), I’m trying to trust that what’s next will present itself when I’m ready to not only hear it but do something about it! Thanks for being so open and honest as always!! And so beautiful too.

  27. Simone
    Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    As often happens with your blog posts, I read this and then something in it stuck with me. The idea of clearing a path for what’s to come, of letting go of the past. It kept coming back to me at odd times. Finally I came back and read the post again, and wrote that part down in my journal. If you ever doubt your own beauty, Andrea, please know that it shines so brightly and we all see it. Thank you for sharing it!

  28. Posted March 19, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I loved your blog! congratulations! I think its very important for people to love themselves, every girl is beautiful. http://behappybecauseyouareworthit.blogspot.mx/

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*