Have you read The Good Body by Eve Ensler, of Vagina Monologues fame?
I picked it up a year ago, read it rather cursorily, put it down. This year, last week in fact on the way to New York, I read it again. It packs quite a punch. Short extract:
I'm walking down a New York City street, and I catch a glimpse of this blond, pointy-breasted, raisin-a-day stomached smiling girl on the cover of Cosmo magazine. She is there every minute, somewhere in the world, smiling down on me, on all of us. She's omnipresent. She's the American Dream, my personal nightmare. Pumped straight from the publishing power plant into the bloodstream of our culture and neurosis. She is multiplying on every corner.
She was passed through my mother's milk and so I don't even know that I'm contaminated. Don't get me wrong, I pick up the magazines. No, no, no. It's the possibilty of being skinny good that keeps me buying. Oh, God, I discover a Starbucks maple walnut scone expanding in me, creeping out. Flabby age leaking through the cracks. Big Macs, French fries, Pizza Land, four helpings, can't stop. My stomach is America. I want to drown in the cement. Obviously, I'm missing something. Maybe if I go and find the woman who thought this up she'll reveal the secret."
then follows a fictionalized interview with Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmo magazine.
Eighty years old, one hundred sit-ups twice a day, I'm down to ninety pounds!
Why am I telling you this? inside of every woman who finds her menstrual cycle a nuisance is probably a woman who hates at least part of her body, if not every part. Someone once told me I had nice hands, and I thought, well at least there's something attractive about me! (I was 18)
Thirty-five years later, I like myself a lot better, but the body landscape has been transformed. No longer size 6, or under 120 lbs, no longer being teased for being a toothpick basically. No danger of that today, and the photo of me you see on this blog is probably 15 years old....so you have no idea! And no, I will not be having plastic surgury anytime soon, no matter how many wrinkles creep up on me.
Let's just say, that this good body has been supporting me and my work (as if they were separate, huh!) for 53 years now. In spite of my negligence and lack of care, too busy being in my head to listen to my body. Look, I just had lunch at 4:00 pm - stuff gets in the way of eating, and I'm hypoglycemic. My hubby and daughter finally said, do us all a favour and eat! (crankiness major indicator of hunger).
What is it about this 'inconvenience' called a physical body that our mind doesn't get? One can't live on words alone, on books and newspapers and magazines and blogs and ideas, no matter how fascinating these may be.
Help yourself by grounding once in a while, I tell myself, by getting up off the computer and stretching, by walking the dog, patting the cat, making myself a salad or a bowl of soup, looking out the window and unkinking the neck....and yes, breathing helps too.
Take care of this body, of these emotions, these foreign feelings that take up your/my time. Be kind to yourself/myself. What you bless flourishes, what you criticize or curse falters.
Believe in the body's goodness, and it will be good, to you.