I did the unthinkable today.
I stood in front of a full-length mirror, naked, and I noted the changes. I’ve known for a long time that this landscape was shifting. It’s like a slow slide down a mountain. You can’t reverse what’s happening you can only watch the inevitable falling of things. And it is with a mix of horror and fascination that we view it.
When people guess my age they are always on the high side. Conventional wisdom says that if you are to do this aloud, you should be conservative. Maybe even intentionally error on the side of youngest guess. It’s then that I know my years are catching up to me.
I am roughly the same weight I was in high school. In fact, I’ve never strayed far, before this past year. 20 months ago I was at my peak, around 149 pounds. I had inexplicably blown up over that summer and I was uncomfortable to say the least. 15 months ago, the weight started falling off. A combination of better eating and the onset of disease. Today I weigh 125 but the distribution has changed. My muscle tone is diminishing. I see it in the mirror. My once fit frame is showing the signs of age and wear. This body has been through a lot.
Jann Arden wrote a beautiful post about this a few weeks ago; I hesitated to do it for myself because I’m not sure I’m in such a loving and gracious place with the changes. I see the woman in the mirror and I am flooded with feelings.
I think I notice it most in my legs. I kick myself for not properly rehabilitating my knee injuries and letting my quads go soft. I know the science of healthy knees and they rely on strength in other places. I wonder to myself if I am too old to build that muscle again. I tighten up the trainer that holds my bike and promise myself I will try.
Last year, my experiment was my stomach. My doctor started me on Prednisone for my RA and I was determined to avoid the bloating that can happen. I started doing sit-ups. 20. Then 40. Then 80 a night. I made the committment and it worked. Will the same hold true for my wimpy legs ?
I kept looking in that mirror. I’ve never really had curves, but now my shape is changing like melting wax. There are folds in places that used to be taut. My hair is thinner and whiter. And are my ears growing ?? My posture could be better. In fact, if it were, it might raise my breasts up closer to the place where they used to rest firm on my chest. My knees are scarred from injury and surgery. My feet are distorted in a way that one might expect from walking 50 miles a week for 28 years. Am I okay with that ? Does it matter ?
I would venture to say that there are obvious benefits to a diminishing physical self. Gone are the days of comparisons and measuring attributes as though they were within our control to alter. I am more direct in sharing what I want and more vocal in my objections to what I do not want. My yardstick has changed. So have the lines I’ve drawn in the sand. I see people differently and am drawn to people differently. I want different things, in and from, my life.
I think that these small revelations can frame a story. And they can inform a life.
I took a hot bath after my examination of self and got to thinking. I really am okay with the natural progression of things. Or rather, I am learning to be. I find that I can marvel at everything I’m still capable of doing in spite of all these changes. The important things remain: I can still walk. One foot in front of the other, though sometimes with discomfort. It is better than not at all. On the really good days, I can climb mountains and scale drifts of snow. I can load up my backpack and spend a full day alone in the woods. I can still write and do art with these hands. I can envision a thing and trust my hand and eye to make it happen on the page. I am a slower talker, an easier listener and a better hugger than I’ve ever been. I grow more curious about the world and people around me every day.
This body, in all of its shifting sands, has been quite good to me. I’ll cut myself some slack for the thinning hair and looser skin. I’ll continue to marvel at how age can bless us as we move into other phases of our lives. Maybe the body has done the heavy lifting all these years and now it is the season of the heart. Maybe the heart is in the midst of its greatest awakening and its greatest growth.
It may be a dreary winter for the body right about now, but the heart is waking to do some heavy lifting of its own. It can carry more than we could ever quantify. Using it, will not diminish its strength but will increase it. Maybe there is a reason why our physical selves dim as our spiritual and emotional selves light up.
To everything there is a season …
I am welcoming my season of light ♡