It has been almost two years since my brush with death changed everything about how I live my life. The difference in myself was very stark this past weekend at the annual family reunion with my mom’s extended family. All the cousins who were my best friends growing up – and still are – plus their spouses and kids all gather at a resort with a water park and spend the weekend playing in the sun together. It is always a blast and I always have a fabulous time but usually it is accompanied with lots of internal stress and dialogue about having to be in a bathing suit around others who are more “-er” than me… younger, thinner, prettier. You get the picture.
This year was different. This year I never once looked in the mirror with a critical eye – or at all come to think about it. Nor did I constantly look for strategic ways of sitting so I looked better (as if that way even exists since your body is your body regardless of how you sit). I just had fun with my kids without a care in the world. No cover-up included!
We spent hours – literally – walking back up the hill and the stairs to the top of the water slides, all the adults taking turns sliding with all the different kids – my own, my nieces and nephews and my cousin’s kids whatever they would be called in the genealogical sense. Several times I thought with gratitude about how far I’d come in a year – from being physically incapable of it to rocking all the cardio without losing my breath in the process.
It made me think about all the people I’d ever compared myself to in the past to make myself feel better and wonder what things they could say they had overcome to just be where they were. Kind of humbling when you think about it…
A month ago I had my yoga world rocked to the very foundation. Weeks later, I’m still discovering things in my practice that are transforming and growing from that one ah-ha moment when I realized that I don’t use my entire foot for anything. It occurred to me this morning, while my 147 pound yoga instructor sat on my sacrum to illustrate how to stretch my straddle deeper, that if you’d told me three years ago that yoga could still be fresh and new every week that I wouldn’t have believed a word. And that the old Terra might have given up after that ah-ha moment because the inner voice would have convinced me that I was no good at yoga. Instead I’ve left all expectations of everything at the door and find joy in the newness of re-learning every pose differently. As I always say, yoga is a journey not a destination. I’m consciously having to take my own advice not to judge myself against anything – including myself from four weeks ago when I never used my heels. Now I know how people can practice yoga for a lifetime and I love how every trip to the mat brings new insights about myself – all because I leave the judgement out of it.
The biggest hope I have is that my girls will see me just as their mom and remember only how much fun they had doing things with me. I already know they don’t see me as I see myself. Once I called myself fat and my oldest looked at me funny and said “you’re not fat, Mom.” Which stopped me in my tracks. If you haven’t read this article about When Your Mother Says She’s Fat , or watched this ad about doing things “like a girl”, check them out. They both helped me see where I was my own worst enemy in putting myself down because I didn’t measure up in the areas society focuses on.
In the grand scheme of things it is more important to live every moment regardless of how we feel about ourselves – especially when faced with the reality that every day might be your last. If you wait to enjoy life until you’ve lost that last 20 pounds (or fill in the blank with your own demons) it might be too late to make the memories you are putting off. Your kids could be too old, you could be too old, or the opportunities could have passed you by. Make every moment of every day count, no matter what. And leave the judgement out of it!
August 4th, 2014 at 11:02 pm
Terra I agree completely. I know I don't look as good or pretty or thin as others. But I feel like I am finally at a place where I don't care. I am proud of the things I can do. Instead of thinking of the things I can't do. MS used to be more of a detriment than it really should have been. I do know I have limitations that others don't. But I also know I can do other things that others can't. I did things this summer that really amazed me. At girls camp I shot a gun 10 times. I am sure everyone did it better than me but I DID it. That made me happy I also did archery. Same thing probably didn't do it as well as everyone else but again. I honestly didn't care. I just felt so happy that I did it. The other thing was the rock wall. I have watched all my kids do it numerous times through the years. Always secretly wanting to do it but never courageous enough to even say I wanted to try. Let alone actually try. But I decided I was going to do it. I didn't care how huge my backside would look. I just wanted to do it. So I did, but after getting up only a little ways up. I honestly couldn't go any farther. I wasn't scared but I literally couldn't lift my right leg up high enough to get to the next stone. I knew I could if I could let go and use both hands to pick it up for me. But as I am sure you know you can't let go with your hands. So I told the instructors that I couldn't go any further. I made sure Donna got a picture of me doing it first. Then I let go and dropped. I didn't feel bad. When the instructors told me I could try again and go up the middle of the rock because it's easier. I said no thanks. I have MS and I do know my limitations. I can't do it. But I tried and that was enough for me. Now whenever one of my kids or grandkids does it I can watch and cheer them on. Knowing I tried it once and know what it feels like.
I love your attitude and your confidence. Knowing you I have always thought you are such a beautiful girl inside and out. I am so happy you are realizing it too. Nut not in a proud cocky way. Just a confident strong woman way. Oh and I am a great walker. Beat everyone on the hike at girls camp. Also did great on Trek. So I can do some things pretty good too. I am grateful for that every day. I too have almost lost my life more than once. It sure does make you appreciate everything just a little bit more. Thanks for writing this. I am going to use part of it for a YW lesson on self worth. I hope that is ok with you!
August 5th, 2014 at 12:14 am
Lisa, I'm so glad this post resonated with you. Of course you can use it to inspire others. I highly recommend the two links – they are both very powerful and emotional messages that stuck with me for months. I'm proud of you for trying so many things this summer, regardless of your limitations. Way to live life to the fullest!