Musings

Crocodiles of Fear

In a morning meditation, I envisioned a crocodile as fear. The crocodile gripped the light of me. Its hold was not vicious, but it was firm and limiting; my light restricted. When I looked at the crocodile, I realized that it was not bad or mean or evil. It had been the lines to my life’s coloring book, setting boundaries, until my boundless self could be appreciated. My gaze prompted the crocodile to release its grip. I thanked it for a job well done with a kiss on its closed chompers. I didn’t need it anymore, so it swam away. As the reptile of fear serpentined to the oceanic horizon, I saw my soul’s light shine brighter than ever before with endless possibilities.

This vision appeared the week Marianne Williamson’s famous quote resurfaced in my mind.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ― Marianne Williamson

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This got me to thinking about some of my playing-it-small fear based behaviors. I’ve spent my life cautiously navigating croc infested waters while in the clutches of societal and self imposed fears dulling my shine. The vision illustrates the lesson of me seeing these aquatic vice grips not as negatives but as teachers, teaching me deep gratitude for limitless possibilities. Freedom is ne’er as sweet as for those whom have been imprisoned.

One huge constrictor has been a negative body image. For the sake of a few centimeters, I’ve recently become aware that I have sucked in my stomach most all of my life. From a young age I bought into the “thin is in” approach to happiness. Even when I was scary thin adhering to a calorie restricted diet with my hair falling out in clumps, I sucked in my stomach.

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Except, it was a myth. I wasn’t happier. I was starving. Starving for nourishment and acceptance. My recently found study and practice of Qigong teaches me that the lower dantian, the tummy area, is the energy storage center. My life-long tummy restriction limited my energy. Now breathing my tummy in and out while focusing on the energy of the lower dantian brings me great joy.

A negative body image seems superficial but touches on deeper feelings involving worth. For me it wasn’t just a physical sucking-in, but an emotional one too. I spent a lifetime sucking in my emotions, giving them grave discredit. At the risk of spreading the “Let It Go” earworm, I spent most of my life being Elsa.

“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.” – Frozen

My tears are real. My laughter (okay, cackle) is real. We are all meant to feel. We are all meant to shine. When you’ve learned the lessons of your crocodiles, they too swim away!

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Musings

I Love Boobs!

I love my boobs and boobs in general! I’m not a lesbian (not that there’s anything wrong with being a lesbian) and I love boobs! Whew! There, I said it. My naïve bubble that all women love their boobs (and boobs in general) popped a few days ago when a woman pointed out that women have different relationships with their boobs. What, not all women love their boobs or boobs in general?

I certainly have a different relationship with my stretch-marks-in-plaid tummy. It has been a source of concern for many years. I posted the below pic on Facebook to make peace with my squishy mom belly and it worked, mostly. Some days I still hold my hands at my hips pulling taut my rippled skin, much like my mom frequently lifted her skin up at her temples simulating a facelift throughout my childhood. Most days though, I forget to be obsessed about it. And on good days, I thank my tummy for a job well done (love my kiddos!) and call it beautiful.

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It turns out that upon reflection, I haven’t always loved my boobs or boobs in general. I just have a short memory, one downside to living in the moment and another side effect of a lifetime of discrediting my feelings. I started binding my boobs with bras when I was in sixth grade. As a pretty colored ribbon runner during adolescence, winning the pinks, purples, and if I was lucky white awards, I wore sports bras that bound me as tight as Mulan. Yes, it is possible for a small boobed gal like me to be even flatter. Somehow it was wrong if my boobs bounced, even when my whole body was bounding like a graceful gazelle through gorgeous grasslands. No wait, that’s my runner’s high imagery. In reality, I was the one often struggling with the beet red face, static boobs, and 80’s bloomers. Okay, everyone else was wearing the same unattractive polyester uniform bottoms.

My first boyfriend (FYI high school friends, I never dated an Eagle) told me to “get over it” when I said it felt “weird” when he touched my boobs for the first time. I spent a good portion of my life not only out of touch with my feelings, but also out of touch with my body. The “Our Bodies, Ourselves” instruction manual that my college friends handed to me along with a mirror and a flashlight helped, but could not work miracles. Truth be told, my boobs physically hurt for much of my life. PMS was painful. My boobs hurt with or without a bra. But being true to not being true to my feelings, I called my boobs “sensitive”. I did not wince when putting on clothes because my boobs were sensitive. I winced because they were painful.

My boobs no longer hurt since starting to heal with the GAPS™ (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) protocol. I hope my two daughters never experience boob pain. By eating nutrient dense, gut healing foods they stand a good chance at having happy boobs. But more than being pain free, I hope they love their boobs. My oldest daughter is rather uptight about her boobs and boobs in general. She didn’t want me leaving the house to go to a middle school track meet dressed in the below pictured shirt because it showed too much cleavage. Really? What cleavage? If I had cleavage, I might want to show it. Needless to say, when writing this blog post, I derived much joy from sharing its content with my oldest daughter and scoring an eye roll or two. Hey, don’t knock it. After parenting for almost 16 years, eliciting eye rolls from my kiddos is one of life’s simple pleasures.

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I hope my daughters never bind their boobs with bras. On October 13, 2013, I removed my bra in front of a group of female holistic nutrition students (now practitioners) to encourage participation in the bra-free day of the pink movement. Not one other woman in the room set her boobs free, not even the one singing “Who let the girls out?” to the tune of “Who let the dogs out?” with me. These are knowledgeable women who understand that without a free flowing lymphatic system, toxins accumulate and lead to disease. It must be because women have different relationships with their boobs and/or because they believe in the support myth. The support myth is that boobs will sag if you don’t wear a bra. Elizabeth Vaughan, M.D., explains, “Sorry, bras might make your breasts sag more. You have ligaments in your breasts. They are designed to hold your breasts up. If you wear a bra for years – or, worse yet, wear a bra 24 hours a day for years – these ligaments will atrophy (get weaker and smaller). The good news: If you stop wearing a bra these ligaments should get stronger and you should find your breasts perkier within about three months.”

Sadly, even the head holistic nutrition instructor expressed disdain for her boobs. Women DO have different (and complicated and changing) relationships with their boobs. For all of you who have lost part or all of your boobs due to cancer, I’m so glad you are alive! As for me, I am 2 ½ months of being bra free, emphasis on free. When the lymphatic system is flowing, the spirit sours. I am happier now than ever. Of course, it’s easy to work the layered look in the cold weather months in Minnesota. I’ll let you know how I fare with layers in the summertime. Why layers? Because as much as I love my boobs and my nips, I don’t want my nips to show. Funny, eh?

I hope you will consider your relationship with your boobs and show them some love. And if you love your boobs, in the words of Sting, “Free, free, set them free!”

Note: I chose to use the word “boobs” when referring to breasts in this post because “boobs” is such a fun word. I initially started calling my boobs “the girls” at home, but this only confused my family. I constantly had to clarify when I meant boobs and when I meant my daughters. Ha!