EMBODY is my "word of the year" for 2018. It's become a pillar for me and came as the culmination of a long, negative "relationship" with my body that I have been vigilantly trying to correct, understand, walk into joy with, and hopefully help any like me along the way.
1. The Realization of The Body (The Literal Embody)
2. Embodying What Is Beautiful
3. Comparing and Contrasting Beauty and Sexual/Physical Desirability
4. Practical Steps
5. The Creativity and Artistry of Bodies
6. The Embodiment of Others
"You will take care of what you value." These words, heard on a podcast, have struck. my. heart. It makes so much sense. Instead of chasing the wind and always coming up short, filled with disgust, there is a way because of "good things" to embody my spirit and wear it joyfully on the outside.
Instead of doing anything out of:
I can change the narrative and, by embodying the good, act out of:
This has been my aim in the practical.
For a few weeks there I was just taking notes on the “Trains of Thought” when they came blasting down my inner tracks. This led me to a fun place. Brain-storming and getting to know “my character.” These are all simple but have brought so much joy in just practical outworking. I feel more connected to and grateful for my body these last months. Not where I want to be eventually, but definitely getting there…
An important note: Don’t ever take someone’s practice of a principal and copy-and-paste it to yourself. Explore the principal, then walk out our own life. Do your research, pace yourself, and find your little joys. All of this started becoming a part of my “weekly routine” bit by bit over six months. In 2016 we really focused on our “soul fire” things, which for me included cooking healthy, delicious food and the feeling after working out. I’m really in a sweet place with both… feeling like my family is fed well, my creative outlet is met with cooking a lot, and losing a lot of negative and yucky stigma over exercise (the way to be skinny or “pay back” eating bad). Every week I do something… on the fullest maybe five times… on the least only once. But it’s been re-trained in my head to be a “hit of happiness” and I’m working for that feeling right afterwards. I feel like my body is strong and healthy, which is absolutely wonderful.
And the years before these were survival mode! We got through the other side, but we had no headspace, energy, or time for “more.” Don’t feel bad if you are there! It is crucial, you will get through, and “the other side” will feel even better than you remembered! It will be fun to get things done, not burdensome. Make it fun, when it's fun. No shame here.
Okay! Here we go:
- Speak Gratitude
I've had to do this verbally and outloud. When the "voices of hate and shame" whisper, I've been striving to re-train my mind to being grateful. I try to find one physical part and notice it, and thank God outloud. When legitimate yet "negative" feelings arise, I'm learning to make the effort and gain the peace. (For example: "I feel sluggish." "Okay, well, go for a run and you WILL feel better. So just do it." or "I feel sad." "Okay, make something delicious... it will bring you joy! Go do it!") There is so much to be grateful for that can compel us to good action.
- Grand Childhood Memories Trip of 2018
Seeking to make the most special, yet simple-expectation-ed, time for us… enjoying the thrill of waiting, letting “the happening” be seen through rose-colored-glasses, and promising a good return on the moments once they’ve become memories. (Details here!)
- Social Media
I saw a quote that said something like “Unfollow anyone who make you feel discontent or jealous.” (Or something like that). I did. I am pretty picky about who I follow anyway, but I went back through. I firmly believe that what we put before our eyes and what we allow to infiltrate and be “normal” (even if it’s NOT!) impacts our souls. I also did a tally of all my followers. I made a list of what “kind” of account they were, and went through one by one.
At the end I had about exactly 50% people who were friends or family. The other 50% were split pretty evenly between “writers” (I decided this was people I follow because of their WRITING), photographers, motherhood, food accounts, body positivity accounts, designers, travel accounts, etc. I only follow one “fashion blogger” and no fitness/weight loss/body goals accounts. For me it brought out more temptation and gave microphones to the negative voices. Instead, my feed now is a place filled with positivity and in general and mostly, I leave being on IG feeling uplifted, not competitive or complaining. This, as you can imagine, was ridiculously helpful.
“Dance like no one is watching”… actually. Just dance with no one watching. Ha! I’ve closed and locked the door, tried to find a fun playlist, and then just move… let however I feel move “out.” No mirrors, no witnesses, no one but me and God. So, if I feel stupid, then I’ll move stupid. If I feel amused, I’ll do whatever I can to express amused. If I wave of passion rushes over, I’ll try to embrace it and stomp it out. A lot of the body positive accounts I follow encourage and do this... so I finally decided to start trying!
- Relaxation Meditation
Not for “spiritual” purposes as much as physical — though I know all are connected. Using these guided relaxation videos Caleb and I both are always so impressed with how much of the body is tense that we didn’t realize… and how much better we feel releasing the tension and being coached how to. It feels refreshing.
With the help of my brilliant sister, at home exercises, and a few products, I’ve been feeling so much better… it’s amazing to correct posture and feel the instant “better-ness” of standing properly. I have a long way to go to re-train my muscles. This fall Katelyn James posted about her “neck hump” thanks to bad computer/phone posture. I was mortified to feel back behind my neck as I watched… I have “the hump/curve” too! The exercises my sister has given me have improved my flexibility and mobility, and the two “devices” have been a game changer! Caleb can tell the difference… it really is working. (The products are linked here).
- Natural Skin Care
I’m so passionate about food and made the switch to taking care of my skin and hair (almost totally!) with “products I could eat.” It feels like cooking for my face. I did a whole post about the details of that here.
- My Natural Face
My goal is to have supple, glowing, sun-kissed (by the real sun) skin without spending much money, while “killing two or three birds with one stone” (aka: making memories with the kids, moving my body, and getting sun and minerals on the beach), with homemade and local (first) ingredients then chemical-free/toxin-free/paraben-free ingredients (because this is SO MUCH FUN for me! It doesn’t feel like a burden or “another thing to do”… it’s a blast. Wanting to use less make-up overall, even for a "fancy" face. I want my own body to be at it's best and it's fascinating to get to figure out how to do that. No shame for make-up-lovers. That's not the point. I love research and concoctions and experimenting and analyzing results. It brings such joy.) Details in this post!
- My Natural Hair
Comfort in my own skin, at least for this season, meant peeling the layers to my actual naked body as God made it. I found a lot of identity and confidence but also envy, desperation, and toxic mindsets in “being a blonde.” Quickly I realized: Oh my word… my hair is falling out, fried, breaking, and crispy… the embodiment of my internal feelings about myself! Yikes! I wanted my hair to be strong, soft, vibrant, and cared for. Like I wanted my heart. It was a “tangible step” for me to take into this. So, I had my hair dyed back to its natural color, and I have been absolutely babying it! But… it is working! My hair texture and strength has reversed in the last four months. It’s growing faster, too! I had to decide if I wanted to have long healthy hair, or blonde hair… and while both “felt like me” ultimately I swung a little more to the natural health side of the choice. It took a solid three months to even “like” the change. I’m getting close to loving it ;) (The details of what I’m doing are here).
- My Color Story
I love white, black, blue (from navy to pale), and red. Trends are fun, but hello! really distracting at times (and expensive almost always). Realizing: I’m not really a grey person! Why do I keep buying grey things? Or pastel person! Or purple person! has been fun. Even though I enjoy it so much on others, or on Instagram, or or… My spirit is pretty classic, bold, yet simple and happy.
- My Clothing
Honed in the qualities I most wanted to embody, I brainstormed words, created mood boards, and paired through the “pieces of art” that I will dress my form and narrate my spirit. The defining words I came to were: “Classic, merry, and sensible.” Classic both for “standing the test of time” and also “classy-ness and elegance.” Merry, a vintage-sounding word for a mix of happy and whimsical. And sensible: both clothing that is practical for a mother of two who really isn’t going to galas or luxe-anything’s, and also “that makes sense” for a woman in 2018 to be wearing… modern not costume-y. (My post detailing the final line-up and more of the process is here)
- My Artistic Details: (this relates mostly to “how I clothe myself”)
Denim (I love how it’s sturdy)
Silk/silky (I love how it’s soft)
Cotton (I love how it’s functional)
“Womanly”/structure mixed with curve
Piping and trim
Brass Hardware (buttons — also buttons in general, snaps, zippers, etc)
Down + Curled
Love one pop of color against neutrals
Love color-blocking with shades of the same color
Love beads or “crystal” sewn into clothes
Things I noticed: I don’t prefer lace on me, most floral patterns, entirely loose and flowy cuts, stretchy/spandex-y/body-con type fabrics (unless I’m wearing dem yoga pants), graphics/writing on clothes, chevron and buffalo check, geometric or natural stones jewelry, excessively trendy pieces, turtlenecks (but man I love them… they just aren’t my happy place on me. Something for me to admire on others hahah).
Here’s the fun part… everyone will be different. I love people I know who dress in almost all neutrals and those who are like a living rainbow. I love the stories those tell. I love how people and their bodes can embody rain forests, and art museums, and soccer fields, and eras of old, and the quality of mystery, and mermaids, and Boston, and horses. I love the stories in the forms. I love when people do it well with courage and joy. It’s such a worthwhile goal.