I notice it. The dimpling of my skin underneath my butt cheek. The puckering of the skin around my triceps. The ways in which my belly folds. I see these things more in the mirror now than I ever have, and realize that as I'm going into my 36th year, physical things about me may very well change.
This starts that old familiar scrambling in my brain, the one that falsely believes beauty comes from the outside rather than the inside. I notice how my heart begins to furrow like my brows, because it doesn't want to get lost in that never-winning battle of starving, bingeing, purging, and wishing my body looked like something else — even though when I reached that "something else" point, that image of perfection shifted into another "something else" being wrong with me.
As a culture, we don't much celebrate aging. We don't allow ourselves the grace of getting older. We don't honor the wisdom that's revealed in the folds of our foreheads or in the lines on our faces, these markers of laughter, triumph, joy, heartbreak, mistakes, and redemption. We don't usually look at the scars and think, "Wow, there's an incredible story to be shared!" if only for the one the body tells in being able to heal so beautifully.
I could get lost in the lie of not being enough. I could find myself drowning in envy or insecurity of not looking like those magazine-esque bodies that are indeed a real vision here on this island upon which I live. Or, I could dive into the ocean and play instead.
Everywhere I look on Kauai, people are dressed up in swim attire and vacation gear, shirts and bottoms that are more decoration than any purposeful covering of their skin. But why cover it?
Kauai brings out sensuality like no other place I've lived around the world. The island is lush, fertile, colorful and the energy is absolutely yin. Powerful in her storms, breathtaking when she illuminates the sea and the mountains. As the summer months come around, it'll become too hot to be in anything but a bathing suit.
So, I have a choice.
I can focus my energy on what's supposedly lacking or be afraid of how my body will continue to evolve, or I can love the fact that I'm so blessed to be here. That I get to be barefoot when I go to client meetings. That my sandy just-got-out-of-surf hair drips with saltwater when I step into the market to grab a freshly squeezed juice. That the muddier I am, the more it means that I've been in Kauai's natural embrace.
Where your attention goes, energy flows, so I'm choosing to focus on all the wonderful ways in which my body can play. How strong my heart beats in excitement at meeting a kindred spirit, how my stomach digests the organic foods I get to pick, buy, cook, and share. How my brain is learning new patterns of being that buck convention, so that age becomes nothing more than a number of hopefully many to come.
And, when I have doubt, when the bully within starts to clench her fists and yell super loud for my attention, I gather a more mature maternal energy inspired by the island and ask, "What is it that you really need? What are you really insecure about? How can I help you?"
Usually, the bully (or the ego) quiets. She just wants more love. More attention. More reassurance that everything is OK and that she won't be alone. She wants to know she's perfectly enough just the way she is, and that she doesn't have to be scared about what's to come.
We have the power within us to change the dialogue, both for ourselves and the world in which we're a part of.
What do you find yourself saying right now? Inwardly? Outwardly? In conversations with others?