The Space at Center Stage


For those of you unfamiliar with me, body image has been a fairly constant struggle of mine for most of my life. This struggle has intensified at several different point in my life, the most recent being with the up and down weight bouncing I experienced post-baby. Almost three years later, my weight seems to have settled for now, I work out just about every day, I’m adjusting my eating habits bit by bit, and, this past week, I felt pretty darn amazing. I can now see the changes in my body, feel the differences as I develop more muscle and strength. It’s a relief, in a way, to see that almost eight months’ worth of consistent hard work is paying off. That might not seem like much to some, but it is quite a big deal to me. I hated doing conventional exercises, I hated the very idea of running, and the gym? Yeah, no thanks. But I made a decision and have pushed myself to stick with it, constantly reminding myself to be patient and keep working.

“It takes time,” I would and still say to myself, “It takes time. Be patient with yourself and keep working.”

A good many things in life, we work at for a long while before we see any results, and we are told that the best things do not come with instant gratification. Instead, we must work and work and work some more and wait to see what comes to fruition, if it comes to fruition. I have stuck with this and worked and worked and worked and I am seeing the fruit of my labor, not only in curves and tone and heavying dumbells but also in finding satisfaction in the work itself. It’s an odd, odd feeling to actually crave working out, to crave the heightened heart rate, the burn in my muscles, the sweat on my brow. It’s not just odd, it’s downright weird sometimes. But it is also beautiful.

It is beautiful to see the changes in myself, not just in my body. It’s beautiful to again feel the desire to be me, fully and boldly, and to do something about it. It’s beautiful to not be afraid of being beautiful and acting like it. It’s not just body image, it’s a sense of self that I am regaining. For a long time (longer than I would like to admit), I have felt like I needed to tone myself down, step back out of the spotlight, stick to my corner, etc. As if, if I were too much ‘me’, then there wouldn’t be space for someone else to be ‘them’. I don’t understand that idea; I didn’t then and I don’t now. And, honestly, I am damn tired of it. Me being me does not threaten anyone, nor should it. Each and every one of us is completely different. We are unique and glorious all on our own. Me being me does not mean that someone else has to be any less them or vice versa.

This does not mean that we need to shove everyone else out of the way. It doesn’t mean that we cannot work behind the scenes to help someone better their own sense of self and their own lives. It doesn’t mean that we cannot wear the roles of mother, daughter, sister, girlfriend, or wife and be a support and helpmeet to someone else. What it means it that we can do all those of things, but that we mustn’t forget ourselves and the role that we play for us. Your first role: you. Don’t forget you. Don’t forget your strength. Don’t forget your spirit. Don’t forget your glorious. Don’t forget your beautiful.

A friend once said to me: “I think you could leave yourself a bit more space in the center of the stage.”

And you know what? I think they are right. It’s time for me to reclaim my space. Maybe we all could leave ourselves a bit more space in the center of the stage.

I Don’t Exercise to be Healthy…


Author’s Note: This is a post about my weight, self-esteem, etc. This is entirely personal and more than a little of what people would call vain. Just be warned, in case you aren’t interested in reading about it.

A few nights ago, a dear friend posted a version of that picture (*points off to the side*) on her Facebook page and I had to be brutally honest with myself and admit, “Yep. That’s right.” It may be totally vain or selfish or whatnot but it’s the total truth. I eat as well as I can to be healthy, but I can do better. Always. I exercise, I bellydance, walk, etc., however, to look good, to feel beautiful and proud about how my body looks. Yes, only one person is going to see me naked but I want to look good nevertheless.

I have fallen away from my normal habits of exercise of late, with the change in the weather and the holidays and all that. But I cannot only blame those circumstances as that would be unfair and lazy on my part. I haven’t been as disciplined as I should be and that is on me. I have gained enough weight since the summer to now rate as overweight on the BMI scale. I don’t like that. I don’t like feeling like I don’t look well in my clothes. I miss the curve in my waist that I envied in my mother as a teenager and worked hard to get. I miss the tone that bellydance and daily walks pushing Elizabeth’s stroller uphill gave me. I miss the feeling of being beautiful as I danced, with pride in my technique and stage performance. I want that all back.

So call me vain if you so wish. It’s your opinion and that’s fine. It’s also fine that I want to look the way I want to look and feel the way I want to feel. That is my goal for this new year and I am looking forward to it. I know it will be hard, I know I will have to give up some of the things I really like. I will have to make time to get to Planet Fitness and bellydance class, even if it is inconvenient or I am tired after a day with Elizabeth. It will be worth it. I will be able to fit comfortably into the dresses and skirts that I love, and, hopefully, I will come to enjoy the exercise again, find a new happy spot in my soul, and give my daughter a run for her money in the energy department. Maybe I will even start performing again. And, just maybe, my heart – with all its little vanities – will once again smile to hear shouted across a room “I hate you, Ben!”