Body Strong: How Do You Celebrate?

Melissa McCarthy, image via Pinterest

Melissa McCarthy, image via Pinterest

 

I love the Body Positive idea that’s taking hold on social media these days, but I’d like to take it one step further.

First, I believe every woman should:

  • be able to smile when she looks in the mirror.
  • feel on top of the world when she dresses for an evening out.
  • feel confident enough to pose for a picture.
  • be happy with who she is and know she’s of infinite worth.

Some women have a heritage of large body types, and no matter how hard they try, they will never be a size 10 or 12 or 14.

Other women have the opposite problem: no matter how much they eat, their bones protrude and outsiders accuse them of being anorexic.

And then there’s aging, when your mirror doesn’t show the body your mind thinks you have. That’s a huge subject on its own, so let’s leave it for a later time – except for some awesome ladies in the pictures.

Our body type is our body type – we need to own it, love it, embrace it! We are beautiful in all our shapes, sizes, and colors of the rainbow.

And look at all the things our bodies can do, no matter our size or age: walk in the woods, dance to the oldies, throw a ball with our kids. Write a letter, watch a sunset, make a snack or cook a gourmet meal. Hug, cuddle, kiss.

Lauren Marie Fleming shared hiking tips at the Huffington Post (image via Pinterest)

Lauren Marie Fleming shared hiking tips at the Huffington Post (image via Pinterest)

Here are some women who aren’t letting their body types stop them from being active:

 

Ernestine Shepherd is a runner and body-builder at age 78! (image from everydayhealth.com via Pinterest)

Ernestine Shepherd is a runner and body-builder at age 78! (image from everydayhealth.com via Pinterest)

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Papez celebrates her body's capabilities through yoga and other activities (image from fatyogini.com via Pinterest).

Lisa Papez celebrates her body’s capabilities through yoga and other activities (image from fatyogini.com via Pinterest).

 

At 100 years old, skydiver Georgina Hartwood is braver than I am - and she goes shark-diving, too! (image from everydayhealth.com via Pinterest)

At 100 years old, skydiver Georgina Hartwood is braver than I am – and she goes shark-diving, too! (image from everydayhealth.com via Pinterest)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But with these amazing bodies in such a variety of shapes and sizes, let’s not let a Body Positive attitude be an excuse for an unhealthy lifestyle.  I like to think of it not only as Body Positive, but as Body Strong – celebrating health as well as beauty.

My husband takes after his mother’s side of the family – stocky, not tall, and holds on to extra weight like it’s gold. He will never be (and should not be) a tall, slim cover model, but he works out each morning to stay fit and I admire him for his dedication.

On the other hand, my extra weight didn’t come from family heritage. If I’m honest with myself, it came completely from overindulgent eating and lack of exercise. I love my body for what it can do and I feel good about myself when I look in the mirror, but I should not be where I was.

Ooh, did you notice I said “was?”

Over the past two years, I’ve been eating healthier and with more control, and adding a good bit of exercise, and I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds.
And you know what? My back is much happier. My knees are much happier.  My brain is happier.

I’ll admit that I do grin when I look in the mirror – it reminds me I’ve reached a hard goal. But what makes me truly ecstatic is when I soap off in the shower and can feel the muscles in my back!

If I listened to the media, I’d be trying to lose another 20 pounds.  I’m not going to – I’m happy where I am and losing the muffin top isn’t worth the obsessive dieting required.  I’m comfortable where my body is meant to be.

I can walk several miles. I can work in my garden longer. I can use the push mower on the lawn. And I can even survive an hour long Spin Class!

I’m not saying everyone needs to get down to a “normal” BMI.  I am saying that while we encourage a self-image of beauty and value, and while we embrace our wonderful variety of body types, let’s not forget to treat them well and be the best we can. These are the bodies God gave us – let’s honor them as we celebrate them!

What are your thoughts on the Body Positive movement? The idea of Body Strong?

Beauty of a Woman Blogfest #BOAW16

This blog is part of August McLaughlin’s annual Beauty of a Woman blogfest (#BOAW16).  Click here to see other posts celebrating women – and maybe even win a prize!

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Gratitude: This Week’s Thankful 3

I’ve started keeping a gratitude journal again. It’s a simple thing, really, just write down three or five things at the end of each day that you’re grateful for.

So every week (hopefully Sundays, but not this time) I’m going to choose three from each week and share them here. The trick will be that nothing on my lists is allowed to repeat soon!

alphabet flash cardsThis week, I’m especially grateful for:

1.  Good men and women of all faith traditions who serve God’s children in a variety of ways. I was in Cincinnati at Time Out for Women this weekend, a conference/retreat for LDS women and friends. As a spare-moments project, we colored alphabet flashcards that will be used by Catholic Charities to teach reading to immigrants. What a great idea!

2.  Sunny days and rolling hills to drive through, instead of the downpours that made things treacherous on the way here.  And much more delightful than the straight, flat roads of Central Indiana.

3.  That things calmed down enough this week so my mind was easy and relaxed and I could write again! I worked on a chapter and a half of RESCUE Through the Shimmer of Time and it felt lovely.

That’s my three.  What are you grateful for this week?

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Spring, Glorious Spring!

It’s no secret that spring is my favorite time of year.  After months of bitter cold or dreary skies, the colors bursting forth bring joy to my soul.

Here’s what’s been happening in my garden:

early spring crocus

These crocus made me smile as we came out of a cold snap in early March.

 

 

Followed by a few sunny daffodils!

Followed by a few sunny daffodils!

 

And then it warmed up, tulips popped, and then froze. But the sun came out again - hallelujah!

The tulips popped and then FROZE – almost solid. But the sun came out again – hallelujah!

 

 

spring weeping cherry blossoms

It’s finally warmed enough to give us a gentle pink haze to our front door, which will turn to soft pink “snowflakes” soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We  topped 80 degrees yesterday, and I suspect that summer will start early.  Spring bulbs will give way to summer flowers (already coming up), but I’ll miss this part of the seasons waking up.

What’s your favorite part of spring? The sun? The scents? The color?

Or are you, like a transplanted Southern friend of mine, still longing for the heat of midsummer?

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The Mirror World of Books

Books let us escape from current life woes.  They let us explore other worlds and other times. But did you ever think about the things we learn without realizing it, the things we can apply (consciously or not) in our own lives?  

Mikey Brooks wrote a great post over at Emblazon about young readers and learning from the “Mirror World” of books, and he very kindly said I could share it with you:

The Most Important Thing a Child Should Be Doing

When a child reads a book they view it as a type of mirror world—as if by magic they become the main characters, living and breathing in that character’s mind. Gender holds no boundaries when it comes to this mirror world. Whether they are a boy or a girl, when they read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, they become Harry Potter. When they read The Lightning Thief, they are Percy Jackson. The mirror world is not only beneficial to children because they get to learn about new places, but they get to experience emotions and situations they otherwise might not get to experience. The mirror world is why reading is the most important thing a child should be doing.

81zdSFzJh+LRecently I read a fantastic middle-grade book entitled, Wonder, by R. J. Palacio. This book is about an eleven-year-old boy named August Pullman (Auggie) who was born with mandibulofacial dysostosis, a very rare facial deformity. The book is written in first person so you really get to see into the mind of Auggie and how much others struggle with his face. People cringe, shy away, even scream when they see him. As I stepped into the mirror world and saw things the way Auggie did, I began to feel things I have never felt before. I was suddenly more aware of how I spoke to others and how I treated them. I wanted everyone to feel important. So often children don’t see how their looks and words can hurt others. One of the best lines from the book is: “… sometimes you don’t have to be mean to hurt someone.” Empathy is learned in the mirror world.

The mirror world can not only help children learn to feel what others go through, it can help children overcome fears and challenges. Bullying is something that happens all the time and there’s not much parents and teachers can do to stop it. The best way to extinguish the problem is the victim empowering themselves. The mirror world can do that. I was ecstatic when two years ago I received an email from one of my readers who had been dealing with a bully issue at school. readingThey said after they read about Kaelyn’s experience in The Dream Keeper they felt they could stand up to their bully. Reading had empowered them and their problems with the bully went away. They learned to stand up for themselves through a book! I think that’s amazing.

As parents, as teachers, as librarians, as human beings, we should be encouraging all children to step into the mirror world and embrace the magic within. Share with them good books that made you “feel” something when you read (yes, that means YOU should be reading too). The more they experience the better they will be able to deal with the world around them and understand the people within it.

Thanks, Mikey, for sharing your insights!  

I’ve lived with this mirror world for more than 50 years – even as an adult, I learn about life situations.  I can even identify with a character so strongly that I pick up his/her speech patterns!  But I’ve learned so much through books that carried over to my real life – empathy, history, coping with my own problems – that I don’t know who I would be without the books that I’ve read.  

I think that the take-away is that a child is never “just” reading – it really is one of the most important things they can do.  

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Guest Blogs, READING | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Snowpocalypse: Take Time for a Text

Feeling alone in a blizzard?

Feeling alone in a blizzard?

Blizzards and ice storms and hurricanes are scary times. If they’re coming our way, we prepare as best we can: food, camp stove, warm blankets, lots of batteries. But sometimes that’s not all we need.

I have a friend back east where “Snowpocalypse” is hitting hard. We’ve talked several times over the last few days, but this morning, as she’s still watching the snow come down, she told me something else.

 

She hasn’t heard from her children at all.

She has no other family – she’s an only child and a widow. Her children are out west now, but they visit and have a good long-distance relationship.

None of them have called, or even texted, to ask how she’s doing.

In a centuries-old house with very little insulation, they didn’t ask how she’d stay warm if the power went out.

She worried about the heat pump freezing up, but they didn’t know that.

She worried about a rickety carport roof, but they didn’t know that.

She was upset that the contractors hadn’t done their work in the last few weeks, but the kids didn’t know that.

She was very uncertain about what would happen, a bit panicked at times (my mechanically-minded hubby walked her though a few things), but got through it all right.  And her children still don’t know.

There’s not much these young adults could have done from far across the country, but an expression of concern and some moral support would have gone a long way to making my friend feel not so alone in the maelstrom.

If someone you love is in the path of a natural disaster, reach out – before and after, if not during.  Call.  Text.  Send a Facebook message.

But don’t let them go through it alone.

 

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