This past week I’ve been staring at my round belly in awe. I used to look away from it, unhappy with its fullness. Now, I’ve learned to rejoice in it. If you possess a soft curved belly, you can delight in it too. I fell in love with my belly, and I can teach you to fall in love with your tummy, your toes, your nose, your hair and all your bits and pieces. Today is Juneteenth, a perfect day to celebrate loving our whole selves no matter who may have told us we are unlovable.
Over the years I’ve learned to live in a place of deep appreciation. I started a gratitude journal many years ago. I write the things I’m thankful for: my family, my work, my health and far too many pleasures to count. (The sun, the moon, India Arie, Oprah, Trevor Noah, harem pants, matcha lattes, hot yoga… The list is endless.) Every morning I rise with an affirmation of gratitude. (It’s the foundation of my e-book, Mind-Blowing Happiness™ Guide to Self-Care.) I waded deep in my gratitude, but when it came to my body, it was hard to always be thankful. I compared my grown-up breasts, arms, legs and hips to my young adult body and photoshopped celebrity images. It wasn’t a fair comparison; it was like racing the Jetson’s fantasy flying car in my 2015 Beetle convertible. One wasn’t even real. I realized I had to learn to love this body of mine all the way. Not just the parts that got attention, but all the corners, including my belly.
I do my best to take care of my physical health. I work out regularly, drink plenty of water, meditate and eat a mostly whole-food plant-based diet. But I didn’t want to only love old pictures of myself or crafty camera angles.
Then it happened.
A few months back I thought about how well my body has served me and how much I take it for granted. I got in the shower and as I lathered each part of my body, I spoke out loud thanking my body part for all it does for me. I call this a “gratitude shower.” As I washed my face, I thanked my cheeks for holding my laughter, my nose for allowing me breath and smell and my mouth for tasting both food and kisses. I thanked my shoulders for carrying my daughter, my laptop, my sweet puppy and my groceries. I thanked my breasts for being feminine, beautiful and healthy. I thanked my arms for all the hugging and loving they’ve done. I thanked my heart for its necessary rhythm and nourishment. I looked down and lathered my belly. I paused. “Thank you belly for processing all my delicious food. For absorbing all my nutrients. For being a good and healthy belly.” That wasn’t so bad. I thanked my butt for supporting me as I worked for hours on end sitting in chairs and for looking cute in my jeans and leggings over the years. I thanked my beautiful feminine genitals for bringing the profound experiences of both life and pleasure into this world. I thanked my legs for taking me wherever I wanted to go. I looked at my feet in awe. Those two little appendages managed to balance and serve my entire body. I looked at each toe, such brilliant design. Then I looked again at my belly, this time with respect and admiration. I looked at my whole body. I looked at myself in a new way taking in each element and imagining what it would be like to design such an amazing machine. How had I overlooked the profound gift of my body for so long?
For years I had been wanting to buy waist beads. I did a visualization exercise during my yoga teacher training and saw an image of myself sitting on a bench in the sun, smiling in a beautiful green wilderness. I wore a crop top and had a small waist adorned with waist beads. When I came out of my visualization, I decided when I lost some weight I would buy the beads. After falling in love with my belly, I decided to adorn my waist no matter its size. Now whenever I change my clothes or take a shower, there she is, bejeweled and lovely. My belly is smiling at me, and I smile back. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a 28” waist again. I’m sure it doesn’t matter. I know what does matter to me.
I want to be strong.
I want to be healthy.
I want to love all of me, including my beautiful, bejeweled belly, the spaces between my toes and the very tip of my nose.
I want you to know that no matter the scars, the stretch marks, the cellulite, the veins, the moles or whatever “wisdom marks” are sprinkled along your body, they tell a story. That story is unique, Divine, beautiful and all yours. Make sure to love every inch of it.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The photo is me and my decorated belly. If you are looking to blast through self-doubt and run headfirst into self-love, let’s talk about how I can support you on your journey to a juicier life. Schedule a free call at the link below.