I went on a wellness retreat this past weekend. Took some time out to relax and focus on yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
The experience was emotional and painful. But it was also restorative, relaxing and healing. We embraced nature, clean eating, and a complete lack of judgment. It was a safe place to both laugh and cry. And I have made a new circle of friends that give me strength and encouragement.
Our sessions focused on mapping out the successes and challenges in our lives. We talked openly about what we thought of our bodies and challenged society’s ideas of “perfection”. We shared our fears. We set goals and reminded each other of how we were all beautiful people.
We also explored personal affirmations. Positive statements to repeat to ourselves going forward that would start to re-wire our brains. To believe in ourselves. And we created special bracelets to remind us of that affirmation. A token from the weekend, packed with positive energy to support us going forward.
Let me tell you about mine …
I love my body.
My body is over 40 now, and goes through the inevitable aging and wrinkles that come with time. I compare myself too often with people who are younger … “perfect” … and worry that the people I love won’t see me as beautiful.
I have 7 scars on my abdomen. Three from a surgery I had as a child. One from having my appendix out. And three more from bringing two girls and a boy into the world by cesarean section. I have no “core” muscles left to speak of. But my tummy still works. I love food … making and sharing beautiful dishes with friends. And I wouldn’t trade my beautiful children for anything.
I am six feet tall. I love how this brings me confidence and presence when I walk into a room. My height is all in my legs, so I accept that I will always have to buy trousers at a specialty shop.
I love my hair. It’s long and it’s one of my defining features. A few years ago I felt that it was starting to lose it’s brightness though. Not going grey (yet!). But not as vibrant as it used to be. So I started dying it. Just a shade lighter … to feel more like me.
But I was in the supermarket about six months ago, and my son saw me pick up a package of hair dye. He had a major negative reaction. You see he has red-blonde hair … in the UK it’s called “ginger” and although I think it’s stunning, most teenagers disagree. He’s had to deal with a lot of bullying over it, and my husband and I have always tried to reinforce that it’s a beautiful part of him. That he should try to accept it and come to love it.
He reminded me of this in the grocery store. Why wasn’t I accepting myself just as I am? He asked if everything I had taught him growing up was a lie. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that.
We did a handshake deal that day in the supermarket. I would stop dying my hair and accept myself as I am. And he would try to manage the negative thoughts in his head about his hair colour. We would try to do it together. I do find it hard though. Six months on … it’s growing out, and I’m trying to ignore those roots. I told myself that I will stay strong and honour my commitment.
My body is in a lot of pain. I injured my elbow a few years back and it has never properly healed. I cannot hold anything heavier than a cup of tea in my right hand. This has a big impact on daily tasks such as getting dressed (ever try to fasten a bra with one hand?), stirring a pot for dinner, or making ID bracelets as part of my business.
I’ve had steroid injections, physical therapy, deep tissue manipulation, and am now going through shock wave therapy … one of the most painful treatments you can have in a bony area. I went in for my 3rd treatment yesterday and sat with tears streaming down my face while they administered 2500 electric shocks to my elbow.
But it hasn’t beaten me yet. I still feed and care for my family, have amazing friends, and have a successful business despite this limitation.
I made an important decision at the wellness retreat. It's time to stop focusing on the negatives, and start loving my body. I am who I am. It gives me challenges but it also transports me through life and facilitates great experiences along the way.
I have put this on my affirmation bracelet as a daily reminder that I am strong and beautiful. That I am okay just as I am. I am enough!
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