Monday, September 08, 2014

Acceptance, body love, and self compassion. Also, I climbed a $%$&#* mountain.

I could write for days about my love/hate relationship with my body. My weight has been an all-consuming aspect of my head space my entire life. Dieting since a single digit age, I learned self judgement was harsh and acceptance by others would be gauged upon if I was a fat kid or not. Whether or not this was true of my external circumstances, it doesn't matter. It's what my mind internally told me.

Beginning as a young adult, I have gained weight, lost weight, gained weight and lost weight, numerous times. I have never been a skinny person. But I have been in the BMI rankings of very obese. Hell, I may be there now. I don't look at those rankings anymore. You name the diet, I have done it. I just know it's a lifelong struggle, and it's tied up in an emotional bundle with lots of strings and bows and tape around it.

A few weeks ago, after training for months, I climbed the third tallest mountain in Oregon. South Sister has an elevation gain of over 4,500 feet, and the 12 mile hike was a beast. But I had trained for the 14 hour hike. The day after the climb, I did some reflection on what I had accomplished, and felt a huge boulder off my shoulders that I had been carrying my whole life. Most of that boulder consisted of shame. Instead, I found myself so proud of my body, my strength, muscles, endurance, and ability to climb a fucking mountain. Did you know I climbed so high I could see to California and to Washington, from the center of Oregon itself? And it was my body that got me there. My. Body. There is no shame in that accomplishment.

A few days after the climb, it was hot, and we went for a run. I chose a snug fitting tank top and shorts. It shows off my curves, but also doesn't leave much to the imagination. I looked at myself in the mirror before I left, and I said to myself, "That is the body of a woman who climbed a mother fucking mountain. Hell yeah." And out the door I went. Air on my skin, sunshine on my shoulders, that was the most confident run (okay, it was part walk too) I've done in some time. I didn't care about what anyone else thought, I just knew I felt good. That outing wasn't full of a mind wondering if my shorts were too short or if my arm fat jiggled or if my stomach was too big for the shirt. I was present in the moment. This, was a huge change.

I've been taking Pilates classes, sessions with a close friend and just the instructor, a woman I've known for over a decade. I absolutely love these workouts. They stretch, lengthen, and use a variety of movements that align the spine and strengthen my core. Some movements I can do like a champ, bending into advanced positions even. Some I can barely do, or not at all, either because my arm length or proportion or body ability or take your pick reason. But you know what? My inner voice on this doesn't give a rat's ass that I can't do all of the movements. If my past self, from a few years ago, were to be in this situation, the self-talk I would berate myself with for not being able to do a position would be so deafening I would have fled and never returned to the class. I would have internally flogged myself for my fat body not able to do what I could do if only I was skinnier. Instead, I recognize it for what it is: not all bodies are the same, and this body climbed a mother fucking mountain and so what if I can't walk my hands down my calves while balancing in a V position on a reformer with my legs up at a 45 degree angle? Check out what I can do:

This change in self talk is me, in my mid-40s finally experiencing body acceptance and self love. There will always be work to do, and being healthy requires self care, time, attention and prioritizing. I'm giving that to my body, and my mind is finally responding. It's coming through positive affirmations, not through shaming or negative self talk.

And by the way? I climbed a mother fucking mountain.

P.S. My upcoming column at PQ Monthly will chronicle my climb, the amazing group of women I trained and climbed with, and the story of getting to the top, despite altitude sickness. I'll share a link here when it's published. The women I train with are the Miss Fits, and we're led by the compassionate super hero, Nikki Becker.

P.P.S. If you're in the Portland area and are interested in exploring Pilates with a wonderful, insightful instructor in a sweet studio, visit Jodi at Bloom Pilates and Wellness.

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Hardy Hibiscus That Could

Five or more years ago, I found myself at a local nursery on Mother's Day. They had a nice selection of Hibiscus hardy to my Zone 8, and I began to swoon.

I had to have one.

It was cool and rainy, not at all yet into the warmth of summer, and the dream of hibiscus swirled all around my head. I had grown up with a giant red hibiscus on our back patio, and the blooms were the quintessential flowers to tuck behind your ear if you'd like to do a hula dance. Mahalo.

You would think I proudly carried that hibiscus home, dug a hole after finding the perfect spot, amended the soil, and planted it carefully. You would be wrong. It sat in its nursery pot on our back patio for two years. It appeared dead. I tried to not look at it. It was a sign of my gardening failure, I was sure of it. It shamed me every time I walked by it, but yet, I didn't trash it.

And then, after two years of looking dead as a doorknob, it showed growth at its base. Oh my god it was alive!

I finally planted it, in a full sun spot right in our front bed. It sat there, dying to the ground every winter, sending up stems in the summer, for two years. Never a bloom. Always a bridesmaid. It wasn't encroaching on anyone, and I let it do its own little thing for three or four years. Pretty leaves. Never big. Meh.

You know what's coming next, right? This year, it bloomed. And it didn't just do a little bloom, it produced massive, giant blooms, multiple times, for several weeks.

The blooms were as big as the plant itself. What a showstopper. It's amazing it didn't flop like those top heavy peonies. These hibiscus stems are strong, and hold their blooms up for all to see. "Pfffftttt to those peonies," I'm sure they say.

I don't know if the plant will get much larger. But I'm sure proud of what it did this year, and that I never gave up on it. Even after all of the neglect I put it through. I just needed to be patient.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

How you doin'?

In the past week Ive had four friends mention this long lost blog to me. Missing stories, asking about recipes, wondering why I havent written here. These mentions have been in person, with friends close and near. Ive asked, What would I write about? as I havent been so much of a hard driving home arts badass this year. Confession time:
  • Ive done zero canning this year.
  • My tomato harvest is minimal.
  • One of my raised vegetable beds in the front consists of zinnias grown for cutting and a volunteer pumpkin. (I did one of those vomiting jack-o-lanterns last Halloween and the plethora of seeds must have made their way into the bed.)
  • I pay a housekeeping service to clean my house these days.
  • I spend more of my time in outdoor adventures and with friends than I do in homemaking. 

But I realize in my conversations with these friends, its just the stories of life that they ask about. And I suppose I still have those. Plenty, Im sure. And I still value the beauty and place of home, and our garden, very much so. I suppose my life view has broadened some, to include more and to adventure more. To risk more, to try new things more. And really, thats where my love of the home arts began. With trying something new and delving into a part of my life that I held at arms length.

I think about the stories I have for you, to share here. From growing my business, to exploring recipes to support weight loss, to learning to love new things like spinning class or dragon boat paddling, to pushing myself to new levels of mountain climbing and running. To losing weight and gaining weight and losing weight and figuring out exactly how I feel about my body and what Im capable of. Did I mention Pilates? Its my new love. And then theres all of the wonderful young people in my life these days. I am indeed, a very proud Nina.

And theres this evenings lovely recipe, completely made up, using roasted cherry tomatoes from the garden, topping chicken breasts stuffed with a mushroom/chèvre/garlic/basil combination. It was delicious, by the way. And super healthy. (For me, these days, super healthy equates low carb. Did you see that NY Times article?)

So I suppose I may have stories to share. I just thought Id check in here, say hello and let you know I miss you.

Getting back to basics, this isnt a blog filled with sponsored posts or sales writing of  items sent to me to review, or fill-in-the-blank any description of so many of todays blogs (ugh, what happened?). Its just a personal blog, begun in 2005, anonymously, and as a personal journey and journal. Hey 2014, nine years later, how you doin? Im doin fine.