This morning, just as I was about to head out the door to jog my daughter to school, I glanced at myself in the mirror. Generally, not an event that I would do much writing about -- I've actually felt pretty at peace with my body, excited that it's finally become more of a vessel for me in my life as opposed to my entire identity. However, my experience this morning kicked up some dust and I'm feeling inspired to share.
Things had been going amazingly well all morning, and both Kaya and I were in amazing spirits. She had gotten up early, surprised me with 25 minutes of piano practice, feeding the dog, setting the table, and allowing me some space to finish a short meditation. She was beaming with pride, and excited to get out the door to be the first one to school. Dressed on her own, boots and jacket on, helmet in hand, she was headed down the stairs with her bike to surprise me yet again. And then, I caught the light.
We have a window next to the mirror in our living room, and somehow, between the clothes I was wearing, the angle I was standing, and perhaps the momentary memory of the ice cream I ate last night, I went into 'self-bash'. My mind began to spin, dishing all sorts of judgments about me and this particular part of my body, worrying frantically that I'd finally crossed the line.
But we had to go. She wanted to be the first one to school. So, grabbing my things, I run out the door, acting directly from my new frame of mind: Must change. Must fix. Must improve.
The next ten minutes are some of those that Mama wishes she could erase and do over. Determined to head up to Forest Park for a longer run than I know I'll do in the neighborhood, I change plans on Kaya and decide to drive. Disappointment ensues, as does wet sock, impatience, and mini-tantrum based on a concern that she'll no longer be first. And, of course, spinning in my self-doubt and criticism, I have nothing left in the way of love and compassion to offer.
After hugs, kisses, and apologies attempting to mend my mistakes, I begin to drive south, headed for the hill. But then, a new plan begins to form in my mind, recalling that I'll be down by the river. Surely an afternoon run in the sun would be quite nice. If I did that, I could dive right into my long list for the day, getting more done, faster. As I pull up to my house, I pause momentarily. Am I just procrastinating? Do I really want to run later on the river, or do I really just not want to run now? The answer was clear, and I knew in my heart of hearts that Forest Park would heal, as would a run.
My instinct wasn't validated until halfway up the hill, after my lungs started burning and my muscles began to scream. I began to feel better, despite, or likely because of, the pain. With my ultimate decision to follow my heart, I'd forced myself back into my body, out of my judging mind, and allowed myself once again to feel connected to my place in the world, dwarfed among the trees.
Such resistance!?! Granted, I know we don't always know what is 'best', what is 'good for us' in the moment. There are plenty of moments, esp. when it comes to chocolate and what I like to do with it when I feel stressed, where I feel completely lost, confused as to what to do and where to turn. But on some level, I know. And I think a lot of us do. And yet, resistance arises. Don't run. Run less. Stay home. Get shit done. Power through the list. Forest Park is too far...
Standing at the top of the hill, meditating momentarily on my new perspective and peace of mind and body, I hear a cacophony of validation in my mind. The body talks and meditation helps, says Nahko Bear. Stay mindful...stay mindful, his lyrics echo.
I needed to get out of my own way, move the 'me' that was blocking access to inspiration, inner peace, and even productivity. But why is staying so tempting? It's crazy how comfortable it is to 'stay', and how it feels like such a huge effort sometimes to take actions around those things that are best for our overall well-being. I know that the forest is healing, and that going on an early run in the forest inspires my day. I know that being outside and away from civilization (even just across the bridge by 5 minutes) allows me a perspective that is hard to access otherwise. I'm clear that getting into my body, either through action or stillness, does the same. And yet I forget. And resist. Even after years of training.
It is from this place that I feel so committed to crafting something for the world, transforming my prototype into a reality. Something that reminds us, that supports us in getting out and back into it, so that from that place, we can make the difference that needs to be made. Because clearly, there's no way we'll be changing the world from a place of self-doubt in front of the mirror...