And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  – Anais Nin

This morning I woke up with the thought, “Today is my Before…”

I was thinking of those makeover shows where they always show a before & after set of pictures of the person or room being transformed, and how it’s always a dramatic juxtaposition.   There are a lot of things about my life that I feel are on the verge of that kind of transformation.  One of those things is my physical body.

I reached my highest weight (ever!) this weekend.  This is after months of losing ten pounds, then gaining it back, then losing it again.  The cycle is maddening.  Some time ago I heard that extra weight is a form of self-protection.   It is a way for us to hide from ourselves and also prevent taking risks.  That thought really resonates with me right now.  I’ve been hiding from myself in a way for the last few years.  In some ways I have grown more aware and more in tune with my intuition, and in other ways I’ve been content to remain stagnant.

When I was in my early 20s  I received a lot of attention from men, much of it unwanted.  I was also doing theater and just starting to play shows and thus was entering into an industry where appearance is often key in judging a person’s “marketability”, even before talent.  I think maybe my rejection of those standards and judgments made me try to “protect” myself by not putting any real thought into my appearance.  While others had personal trainers, nutritionists, dermatologists on call… I just stuck my hair up in a ponytail and threw on jogging pants.  I was comfortable.  I was safe.

Comfort only serves us to a certain point.  It feels good, it is effortless, it sometimes includes drinks with little umbrellas in them.  In our culture, we sometimes need some extra comfort and rest to do our souls good. After a point, though, we just become like the Lotus Eaters, wasting our lives away and hiding from our real purpose.   I’d become apathetic, lounging in comfort and hoping my purpose would forget I was there so I could continue living without awareness.

Strength, by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
Strength, by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Some of the practices I’ve taken up in the last year have brought me back to awareness.  Now that I see more clearly, it has become impossible for me to unsee myself.  I know now that I am living in a body that is not my own, that I have prevented some of my own self-expression because of fear and wanting to remain unseen.   I am not the same girl I was back then, I know myself better and have enough confidence to stand by my beliefs and desires and not be influenced by outside forces.  I want to be like the Strength card in the Tarot.   I love this example from the Shadowscapes Tarot deck, because it is clear that the real strength is in the young woman, not in the lion.  See how she gently holds his mouth and stands confidently?   She carries all of this power with grace.   I’m keeping this image close at hand as I start on a new chapter of my well-being.

Today, I’m beginning a new fitness program.   I’ll be starting a two week boot-camp to see if I like the program, and then hopefully continuing indefinitely.   I know that I’ve been building inner strength these past few months, so it’s time to work on the outer strength now.   At this point, it is more painful to remain comfortable than it is to succeed.