Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

This is the first blog post I’m writing in my new home. My husband and I moved two and a half weeks ago to a condo we purchased about fifteen minutes away from where we were previously renting an apartment. The past month has been a whirlwind… Not only is moving stressful and labor-intensive, but …

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A lot of attention is given to celebrities who have enviable figures. We’ve all seen the magazine articles with such titles as “The Hottest Hollywood Bodies,” “Body after Baby,” and a multitude of other stories chronicling celebrity weight loss and the body ideals showcased by the stars. Similarly, many of us know “real people” with amazing physiques and we may compare our own bodies to theirs and find ourselves coming up short. Seeing beautiful bodies can either motivate us or deflate our spirits, depending upon our mindsets and how we feel about our chances of achieving our body goals.

While it can be helpful to have body role models, it is even better to have body image role models, especially for those of us who are working to rehabilitate a negative body concept. This post will highlight a few of my personal body image role models and show what I have learned from the women in my life who embody healthy attitudes toward their bodies.

There have been many books written on the topics of eating issues and body image, and I have read a number of them. When a new book in that genre is released these days, it has to be very special in order to catch my attention, if only for the reason that I must have read at least a hundred such books in my lifetime. One book which I can wholeheartedly recommend is “Unbearable Lightness” by Portia de Rossi. Although I have only read half of this book thus far, I have no hesitation in recommending it for the readers of “Body Image Rehab.”

Portia de Rossi is best known for her role on “Ally McBeal” and for being the wife of comedienne and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. Although she looks healthy and vibrant today, what many people didn’t know until recently was that she suffered from severe anorexia and bulimia for many years. She details her struggle in highly open, honest, and poignant terms in her new book.

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa

I have always wanted to make a difference in the world. Over the years, my vision for how I would do this has shifted, but I have maintained my desire to help others. Lately, I have questioned how much of a contribution I’ve been making and have increasingly felt that what I do is not good enough. A recent experience vividly illustrated the powerful truth in Mother Teresa’s simple quote. The focus of this week’s post is on that experience, what it taught me, and how I will proceed in life based upon what I learned.

The following is a journal entry which I made on August 31, 2009. I titled this passage simply, “The Decision,” and have been carrying it in my purse now for over a year. Although I didn’t start my “healing project” until February 2010, I consider “The Decision” to have been the start of my turning my life around. It was when I decided to change my attitude from negative to positive and to take charge of my life.

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I made an important decision today which I know will be life-changing. It happened while on my elliptical machine reading a book which I’ve had for a year but only recently started to read. The book is called “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die.” I was so excited when I bought this book last September, but I was too busy to read it until now, or maybe I wasn’t ready until now…

I turned 43 a few weeks ago, so statistically that puts me right at midlife. Of course, I have no way of knowing if I have 40 or 50 more years to live or only a few months. But even if I assume that I will live until 80 or 90 or more, do I want to live my life in the way I have been living it?

“Fears are merely thoughts, and thoughts can be released.” – Louise L. Hay

The quote above begins Chapter 4 of the “You Can Heal Your Life Companion Book,” the chapter which focuses on fearful emotions. Although I have been diligently working through all of the exercises in this book, I have decided to only post on those that are most impactful to me and which I feel will be most relevant to my readers. In this post, I share some of the exercises and my responses from Chapter 4, as well as some insights for you to use in your own journey to facing and overcoming fear.
The Price of Fear

Fear impacts all of us. We let fear stop us from pursuing our dreams, speaking our minds, sharing our love, and fully living our lives. We experience fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of the future, fear of intimacy, and even fear of success. Some of us literally become paralyzed by our fears.

NOTE:  This post was originally published on my previous blog, Body Image Rehab. Today’s post is dedicated to a topic which some may consider to be frivolous… fashion.  I have always enjoyed clothes and shopping, but it has only been in recent years that I’ve come to learn the power of what we wear to …

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Last week, I watched a repeat broadcast of an episode of “The Tonight Show.” This episode featured a plus-sized model named Ashley Graham (click here to see a clip). The reason she was a guest on the show centered on ABC’s refusal to air her Lane Bryant ad during an episode of “Dancing with the Stars” on the grounds that it was too revealing (see New York Post article on this). Jay Leno had heard this story and felt the ABC decision was ridiculous, especially in light of the numerous Victoria’s Secret ads which are aired during many television broadcasts. Leno wanted to increase awareness of the issue of discrimination toward plus-sized models, so he invited this young model to appear on his show.

Watching Ashley Graham on “The Tonight Show” elicited a strong and unexpected reaction in me, which is why I’ve chosen to write about her in this post. When Jay Leno introduced her, Ashley glided out on the stage dressed entirely in spandex. While she is a very beautiful woman, she is definitely much curvier and voluptuous than most of the models we see in magazines and on the runway. I didn’t feel that the spandex ensemble was the most flattering thing she could have worn (spandex isn’t the most flattering thing for anyone, in my humble opinion), but that isn’t at all what most struck me when I saw this lovely woman.

What I noticed first and foremost was her abundance of … confidence. She carried herself with pride and poise and looked every bit as statuesque, sexy, and elegant as any movie star who might walk onto the Tonight Show stage. I was mesmerized by her magnetism and her evident self-love.

A few weeks ago, I went to see a specialist about the throat discomfort and swallowing problems I’d been experiencing (see my “It’s Always Something” post for more about this). As usual, I had to spend quite a bit of time in the waiting room, and this particular waiting room was more crowded than usual. In addition, the phone was ringing off the hook and the environment was far from peaceful. To combat my internal frustration, I decided to journal about my feelings in that moment. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:

“Waiting to see specialist, room full of people… I don’t want to be here! I don’t want the medical model with all of its procedures and medications. I am tired of identifying as a sick person! I need to heal myself spiritually. I can do it, and I will!”

In that moment, I felt absolute clarity about what I did and did not want. I was clear in my desire to focus on my “healing project” rather than pursue medical procedures and prescription drugs. I didn’t have much time to reflect, however, as I was quickly whisked back into the examining room to see the doctor. Almost immediately, she spoke of my having an endoscopy and taking twice-daily medications. These things were exactly what I didn’t want!

I requested that the endoscopy be postponed for a month. I agreed to take the medication, but I never ended up filling the prescription due to my worries about potential side effects. Instead, I’ve been focusing on lifestyle changes such as eating more digestible foods in smaller portions and chewing my food more thoroughly. I also take small doses of over-the-counter medication, which seems to be sufficient at this point. Although my throat problem (medical term = Laryngopharyngeal Reflux) has not gone away, it’s definitely less severe than it was a month ago.

I had intended to post much earlier in the week, but you know what they say about good intentions… This has been a difficult week for me, which probably means I should have been devoting more attention to my healing project, instead of virtually ignoring it for a number of days. In getting back on track today, I searched for an exercise from “You Can Heal Your Life” to complete and write about. I was quickly drawn to the most appropriate exercise for me at this particularly point in time, the “Mirror Exercise” on page 35.
Simple Yet Not Easy…

The Mirror Exercise is extremely simple, yet not at all easy. The straightforward instructions are: look in a mirror and into your own eyes, speak your name, and say, “I love and accept you exactly as you are.” Louise Hay asks each of her clients to do this exercise during their initial session with her. She states that she has rarely had a calm reaction to her simple request. On the contrary, some clients were brought to tears, while others became angry and refused to do the exercise. One client even threw the mirror across the room! Needless to say, it isn’t easy to proclaim love and acceptance for ourselves.