Whose Body Is This?

It was the summer of 2012, I had just turned 46, had been legally divorced for 7 months, and flying high with new-found freedom and a sense of self that I had lost a very long time ago. I had spent most of that summer in yoga pants, as a yoga instructor walking, taking the bus or train, all over the city to teach my classes, and I’ll never forget the day I put on my favorite work pants to transition back to my “professional” life. I couldn’t even finish pulling the pants over my thighs, not to mention my glutes. For me, seemingly there was no transition between “do these pants make my butt look big?” to “whose ass is that?” I had just worn them on my last day of work at the Washington International School not two months earlier and would have never guessed after a swampy summer in Washington DC, teaching yoga nonetheless, that I would have grown out of my work wardrobe. 

I had been so caught up in my new bachelor hood, rediscovering me apart from my ex  after 22 years of marriage, that I hadn’t even noticed that I was officially peri-menopausal. My period had stopped, hot flashes had started, and I continued to eat with the same voracious appetite that I always had. Only suddenly, I had put on 15 pounds.

Rock Bottom

That moment, looking at myself in the mirror with my favorite pinstripe work pants half on, the ones with a hot pink thread making them the coolest pants ever, became not just a moment of shame from the weight gain, but one of surrender and loss to who I was trying to become. I was so fragile in that moment, newly divorced, thinking I was figuring it out on my own and feeling excited about my life for the first time in so many years that when I couldn’t zip my pants up, it was as if the Universe was laughing at me for thinking I thought I knew who I was. “Look at you,” it seemed to say, “you can’t even fit into your pants”. I continued to live out what seemed to be my destiny as an unfulfilled, inauthentic, lesser version of who God had intended me to be for nearly four more years. I gave into the small thinking mind, all of my old limiting beliefs, another toxic relationship, put on even more weight, and comforted myself with the deeply rooted view from generations of women who made similar small choices in their lives because they were told and have inherited this idea that menopause is the end. Not the beginning for sure, not a time for creation, not a time for a re-creation of self, nor certainly a time for weight loss. Rather, what we are more commonly led to believe is, “you’ll never lose the belly fat now” or “who is going to hire someone who is pushing 50?” or “you missed your chance.”

Our Birthright

There was a time in my life, only just a few years earlier, when I was who I wanted to be – a full-time yoga instructor, leading retreats, studying the chakras, and giving the rest of me to my daughter, my dogs, and my garden. But this version of me came without risk, and it came shielded under the lie of what my marriage had become. But because I had tasted it, I now knew it was possible. Just as I believe we all know what is possible and authentic, born with this birth-right, but just as quickly lost with our earliest wounding and traumas, only then to spend the rest of our lives trying to find our way back. For some, they find their way home much sooner than others, but regardless of how long the journey is, I believe we are always exactly where we are supposed to be, and we come home only when it’s time.

Learning to Howl Again

I have always been an avid reader, particularly about health and wellness, and very curious about how women experience life in other cultures, and how we were meant to experience life in this one until our history happened. A few years after I had grown out of my pants, I was reading, “Women Who Run With the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Something she wrote was like a rallying cry for me, it seemed to hail from all of my guardian angels, and gratefully stirred the wild woman archetype in me again. Dr. Pinkola Estés writes, “If you don’t learn how to howl you will never find your pack”. God was holding up a big reflective mirror to confront me with this current version of myself that I really didn’t like very much, at all. I had stopped howling, I had stopped even looking at the moon, that day with my pants pulled up only half-way stripped me of a superficial sense of self, and I tossed any desire to get her back out with those pants. Now it was finally time, I wanted to run with the wolves again, howl at the moon, take back my birthright to be me, and finally come home.

Reclaiming a Sense of Self

I began to envision this image of me that was a blend of what I had once known as myself and who I wanted to be in the future. The blend was equal parts me at birth, that knowing that we all can feel in the perfect stillness and quiet, in the liminal space between waking and right before the rational mind takes hold for the day, the version of me at seven years old ~ whether it’s made from photographs, memories, or feelings it’s all valid, and a much older me when I was in my early 40s, being true to myself regardless of the price I had to pay to be her, and finally future me. Future me embodied everything I wanted, valued, believed, loved, and had been; only this version of me didn’t come at the price of compromise, going small, or losing parts of myself to be her. Can you see her? What does your blend look like, feel like, and sound like? We know for certain, she can howl.

Reclaiming Myself

The path forward started with yoga, good food, and meditation. I started small. On the first day, I couldn’t even do one pushup ~ even though years before my signature class was defined by them. Now I do 65, 5 mornings a week. Through a whole foods diet, plenty of water, yoga, contemplation, healthy boundaries, and music, I have learned how to be me again. I have dropped 20 pounds, finally quit my safe, steady paycheck life, am in a selfless, healthy partnership for the first time ever, and am living my dream as a Holistic Wellness Coach.

``There is freedom waiting for you, on the breezes of the sky, and you ask, ``what if I fall?`` oh but my darling, what if you fly?`` ~ author unknown

About Me:

– Certified Holistic Wellness Coach with the International Association of Wellness Professionals (who will never tell you you have to kick your coffee habit! Maybe just to drink mostly decaf and filtered!)

– Certified Yoga Instructor, Reiki Practitioner, and returned Peace Corps Volunteer

– Survivor of divorce, eczema, secondary school teaching, and motherhood : )

– My partner and I live in Des Plaines with our two rescues who are sort of pictured here. I’m holding Baci and my partner, Mena, has Leo. It was her first day with us when she was very sick and underweight with Heartworm. Happily, she has made a full recovery, and put on a little too much weight!

Some of My Favorite Products and Other Holistic Practitioners:

 

My aging face loves PRIMAL DERMA! And it’s an ancient cure that is also environmentally sustainable. It only has 3 ingredients, all of which are much more bioavailable than your typical skin care cream. Check it out for yourself with the image linked above!