it's a new year, in more ways than one.
yes, the calendar rolled over. but beyond that, my personal calendar rolled over (41, thankyouverymuch), my mindset rolled over, things in our household have been rolling and tumbling and trying to figure out where to click into place.
as with every year, i started january 1st with the best of best intentions: i made my planner, wrote down my list of things that needed to get done, wrote down my list of things i wanted to get done, made a menu plan and a grocery list, filled out the calendar with all of the swimming dates and times, appointment dates and times, marc's travel schedule, etc.
and then it all went to hell.
we're 13 days into the new year, and pfft. just like that.
i'm not going to go into detail, but suffice it to say we're dealing with some major stress in our house right now, and it has gotten me off my game completely. the schedule is gone, all of the planning was for nothing, my mood sucks, i'm turning to ben & jerry for comfort when i had planned very carefully to have time for exercise and clean food.
but you know what? a whisper in the back of my mind reminded of the philosophy that i would tell clients when they wanted to book a photo session, then stressed over their coordinated outfifts and perfect location. i would say, "this is real life. come as you are. i just want to see YOU! and how YOU are together."
and then i realize: i'm not 29 anymore. i have wrinkles on my forehead and am no longer a size 8. there are days when i literally want to run away. my husband is no longer muscled and fine, and has become a voice of criticism when what i really need is appreciation and patience. my daughter is a handful of stress and anxiety and frustration. (and also joy and laughter and love. but right now? the other stuff.) my son ... well, he's actually doing well. except he's going to be gone in three and a half years and that is too hard for me to accept most days.
there are all these things that could push me over the edge and depress me daily. instead? i need to remember: this is real life. this is US. this is who we are right now, in this moment.
we had made tentative plans last fall to head to southern california for spring break this year. i didn't care where we went or what we planned; my only requirement was: family photos with tara whitney. she just GETS people, and i want that. need that. we haven't had family photos taken since henry was three, and that was just a posed portrait in a studio. as much of an advocate as i am for getting the photos and being in them, i have failed my own family. so: california. tara. and i thought, i have seven months to get in shape, look better. if we're going to finally do this, i want to look like ME again.
except? i've done nothing toward that goal. life has been way too intrusive, and i've been way too tired. but also? i do look like me. maybe not the me in my memory, but the me who i am right now. and i need to learn to love her again.
on my birthday, i had more than 100 well-wishes and beautiful messages on facebook from dear friends who took time out of their day to send me a message. and i realized, i am loved. no matter how i am feeling or how hard days can be, or how long i can go without actually seeing friends in person and being present in our friendship, i am loved. and it isn't because i'm a size 8 or have a successful career or perfect children. it's because of my flaws. they make me who i am. and the trick is to remember that no one is perfect, and we love each other because of those imperfections, not in spite of them. they are the things that make us real to each other, and real in our friendships.
and then i was thinking of our family photos and remembered something i had seen on tara's blog awhile back. something that spoke so loudly to me:
Well your body shows up every day, every breath and tries. Really hard.
Despite donuts, pop, chips, coffee or pie.
It shows up and puts out effort for you.
And if after every heartbeat, step, every breath, and grocery bag lifted, you have the nerve to say
“Why aren’t you thinner, or rounder or longer, or lusher, or more radiant?” then I think you need to take a long look at the way you treat the best friend you have, your body.
Your legs are shorter than a supermodel? But they carry you?
You have 50 bones in your feet, paint those toes!
You have hips that sway and a belly that houses the mechanical miracles that ensure that the odd carrot or glass of milk turns into what you need to keep going.
Give your lungs a walk in the air.
Give your hair a shake.
Stop being a bitch to your best, best, only best friend.
Be grateful, be mindful, show some friendship to your parts of your partner.
It is not your body’s responsibility to decorate the world for the gaze of others. It is not a guarantee of love or an advertisement of your worth.
You are not your ass, your hair or your dress size
Take care what you put in it, where you run it or walk it, and treat it with the love you’d give to a helpless baby.
No one else is going to do it if you don’t.
-The Speech From The Crone
i mean, really. right?
and extrapolating more deeply: we are not our current situation. we are not the stress in our home. we are not the frustrations and ugly cry and ben & jerry's and swearing and hiding away. we give and give and give, and sometimes good things come back. sometimes not. and that's life. but it's LIFE. there will always be bad and ugly and stressful and sad. but there is also joy and beauty and laughter. and that's what gets us through the other stuff. so we need to embrace it.
i need to embrace the current environment, because right now it needs an embrace. it needs to be told that it will all be okay. and even if it isn't okay, that's okay, too. i need to look at myself in the mirror not with a critical and disappointed eye, but an eye that says, "who cares. you are healthy and smart and loved and who the fuck cares if you are no longer built like an athlete? that only matters to YOU. no one else cares."
and if life isn't run like a neat checklist, with schedules and plans and tick marks beside all of the things i accomplished in a 12-hour period, then so be it.
life is dynamic. we have to roll with it, not contain and control it. embrace it rather than smother it. "it is what it is" may be a philosphy, but so is "peace."