Body Image

My Body Image Story

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I have a confession to make and its a serious one. And, as a women it seems to be quite unique.

My confession is that I do not have any issues with my body image and never have.

Shocked?

Why am I writing about it?

Because I guess I want to explore why.  There is so much in social media either feeding body hate or battling it. When do we hear from people who just don’t think about – as in ever!?

Well that’s me and this is my story of how I came to not have issues with my body.

I’m not sure when my not having a body issue ‘life philosophy’ or ‘way of being’ commenced. I guess maybe its more in the absence of certain things in my life vs the inclusion of anything  specific.

I did not have parents who had body issues.  

Sure my Dad’s weight fluctuated as mine does (I certainly know where I get my genes from) but Dad never said ‘I hate my body’… he was more likely to say ‘I want lose that extra weight, so I’m going out for a bike ride every day until that extra weight is gone’.

Dad had simple health rules  like – ‘you have to keep moving everyday’ or

‘our ancestors got through the potato famine so don’t eat carbs.’ (ahh Dad logic!)

I never grew up in a household where women’s gossip magazines were ever present.

Or as Dad would say:  ‘Don’t read that rot!’

or ‘ Don’t read that !! It will rot your mind!’

or  ‘All that’s good for is fish and chips.’ (or maybe that was the Herald Sun, I digress)

The only magazine that appeared regularly in my house was National Geo or Australian Geographic – the only pictures of men and women were usually naked and these pictures showed ‘real’ men and women naked, there was no photoshopping then.

Some other random memories that come to mind was I remember desperately wanting to grow older and have laugh lines around my eyes because then I knew I would have had a happy life.

There is however one very specific memory that I have that maybe helps explain why I don’t have an issue with my body.

I chose not to. 

Picture this, little Beatrice – 12 years old, end of year 7, puberty rapidly encroaching, breasts ‘blooming’, wearing a pink (slightly see through) leotard, end of year dance concert, standing at the edge of the stage, behind the side curtains, waiting to perform in front of all the parents.

It was my last ballet performance (before I began ballroom dancing) but I remember being very aware that my nipples were almost certainly visible beneath my pink leotard (seriously, why we weren’t allowed to wear black is beyond me) and that I would be performing in front of adult men and women.

And they would be able to see, almost certainly see my NIPPLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I seem to remember taking a breath at the edge of the stage just before the performance begun and thinking something like : “well they’re just going to have to deal with it and I’m am not going to feel embarrassed about this at all, I’m just going to get through this and then it will be over”.

And, so the performance began and I sashayed out  – presumably with nipples blazing – and got through the performance.

Two takeaways – can we please make ballet wear age appropriate for developing girls bodies, and you can chose what hurts you. 

I had a choice – I could have ran off, I could have performed with my arms somehow across my body, I could have been ashamed, I could have hated myself, I could have hated Mum for making me do this stupid routine, I could have hated the Head of the Ballet School for selecting the uniforms, I could have been embarrassed, red faced, ashen faced, I could have thrown up, I could have cried – I could have….

I could have hated my body for developing.

But I decided not to.

Somehow at 12, I knew that it wasn’t my decision to choose those outfits, it wasn’t within my control to decide when my breasts first appeared and I knew I wasn’t in control of what other people thought.

I knew all that I was in control of was how I felt about me and how I performed in that routine.

I made myself control my thoughts and feelings, and focused on performing that routine as best I could.

And, it worked!

I got through the routine, everyone clapped, I’m pretty sure a man in the front row looked red faced and we curtseyed and that was it. End of memory.

Maybe being forced to make a choice at age 12 with no family influences of body hate meant I could make that kind of decision.

Maybe it was just something within me.

And, maybe if I was forced to make that decision later in life when more influences could have crept into my psyche, it would have been harder to make and the decision may have been less powerful.

Maybe because I made that kind of choice so young, something stuck.

I do believe that there is something in how what you surround yourself with – sticks.  

I’ve never bought women’s gossip magazines (ok, when I was 14 I did buy Dolly, CLEO, COSMO and stuck up pictures of Ethan, Johnny, Sean, Jason Preistley (*sigh*),New Kids on the Block – all over my wall) but I’ve never looked at women portrayed in women’s magazines as aspirational.

I think family must be a big influence and friends too.   It wasn’t until university and corporate workplaces when I then and still now meet lots of women who have MASSIVE body issues (hello girls schools and your cult like diet regimes) that I realised how BIG of a problem it is.

That’s why I love – Body Image Movement’s message (https://bodyimagemovement.com) – because it really helps reset our thinking and view of ourselves.

I would love to have a pithy little ending here, a cute instruction on what to do next. I don’t.  I think my story is unusual (sadly).

If there is one thing I would say is – your body is a beautiful gift – it will help you pursue your passions, make love (hopefully lots!), explore the world, remind you if you drunk too much the night before when you had an AWESOME time!, swim in oceans, help you see a night sky anywhere in the world you want to go – its part of you – not a seperate thing.

Love it for what is gives you not hate it for what it can’t.

(And, I love mine for helping me walk for 6 days on The Great Wall in China, crawl through tunnels in Vietnam and wander around Angkor Wat!!)

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I'm Ready Now!

Why I Wrote I’m Ready Now!

I'm Ready Now Available NOW!

I’m Ready Now Available NOW!

I’m Ready Now! is available to purchase for Kindle and Kindle Reader on Amazon.

I always thought keeping a well run, no-surprise team with happy staff members was the way to progress in my career.

All it was, was the way to keep my job.

All I looked was competent.

Without anyone outside my boss knowing my achievements, I never got offered roles. I always had to ask for an opportunity.  Yet, I could see people around me being offered roles. How did that happen? Why were they being offered a role and I wasn’t?

So, I started to take a different approach.

I began to…[Read More at I’m Ready Now!]

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Its ok to let go

Holding on can sometimes hold us back.

Recently I let go of a beautiful relationship that had served me well but was not going to serve me going forward. There is a lot of talk about not having expectations in relationships in self-love, self-development circles.  I’ve got to say I’m not a big fan of this approach.
It is ok to have expectations and I think these expectations are essential to have a strong relationship and a happy life. Boundaries and expectations are important to help us understand who we are, what we want and why we want it.  Without this knowledge we run the risk of sleep walking through life and accepting less than we deserve or desire.
My expectations in a romantic relationships are fairly simple :
  • feeling loved – the person I am with needs to be able to express, communicate and act out love in a way that makes me feel loved, cared for and important to them.
  • being their no 1 priority – I need to feel like a no 1 priority in their life. This means phones away at the dinner table, time spent being present, sharing activities that we both enjoy, spending down time together, etc.  Basically this is about time and being able to just be together.  This is of course difficult when we are busy working, studying, progressing our careers, travelling, planning, etc but being present and in the moment is the foundation of a strong relationship.
  • energy and passion – energy and passion need to be at similar levels, whether this is the energy we each put into life, love or a special project. How we approach life matters and needs to compliment each other.
  • shared sense of purpose – there needs to be a ‘glue’ that ties it altogether that surpasses dinners and drinks.  It needs to be an expression of our love. I truly want a partner who I can inspire and who inspires me and a shared vision of what our loves mean to us. To me this creates some magic and mystery around the relationship, something sacred between two people.
  • self-love and development – the person I want to share my life with needs to love them self. Not in any kind of arrogant or egotistic way but in a true and kind way.  I am not good with insecurity, low confidence and pity parties. I believe in strength and resilience. I want this in a partner.  It takes a lot of self-work to love yourself, love your life and really appreciate everyone in it.  I want someone who wants this is as part of their life.
Ok, maybe those things aren’t so simple.  Being able to ‘just be’ and be kind to yourself and your partner takes work (sometimes A LOT  of work) from yoga, to coaching sessions, to climbing a mountain, to a lot of introspection.
Being a strong enough person to say ‘I love you’ to yourself takes enormous amounts of courage, self-empathy, vulnerability and honesty.  I know my journey to self-love has been long, gruelling and largely mystifying.
But this is what I want in my next partner.  So I put it out there to Facebook, the universe, my blog to say this is WHAT I WANT! And, I’m not going to settle for less.

Now, do you agree ?

Are expectations are good thing in a relationship ?

And, if you have them what is your no 1 expectation of a romantic relationship ?

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How self-development got me out of divorce limbo and into my next life ?

I’ve been reading “White Hot Truth” by Danielle La Porte recently. Its been interesting reading views from someone who is on the other side of the journey and critiquing self-development. I think this is a good thing. I also think the only way to learn is to try it and take what works, discontinue what doesn’t.
I attempted to read Danielle’s other book “The Desire Map” three years ago when I was a few months out of a divorce that had irrevocably changed how I saw myself and what I wanted from life. I was confronted with a realisation that I had been living a life of should. I didn’t want to do that anymore.

I had to work out a new path for myself.

What do you want ?

This seems like such an empowering question. For me it is a question that used to spark fear and anxiety. What I had wanted had gone so wrong for so long that the only learning from this was that I had to change what I wanted. That what I wanted was shaped by society, not by me. When I started reading ‘Desire Map’ I just couldn’t clearly answer Danielle’s questions. And, when I could, I didn’t trust the answers.

The Journey

The journey began by participating in an online challenge. Part of this challenge involved a kind of book club which led me to read two books that really created the spark for change :
Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini
Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What I learnt ?

– you can change the story you’re telling yourself about your life
creativity is possible

So I begun. First, with a goal to change my story and then second, to be more creative. This journey started with daily meditation and daily gratitude.

This then grew into a full-scale morning routine of yoga or meditation, journaling (gratitude, goals, intent, celebration), nourishing breakfast, bullet proof coffee.
At night I worked through a schedule of things to do (not involving television) and always ended with a meditation from Headspace.

One of the benefits of this routine has been to create awareness that my usual whole-day routine and habits were stress-creating. Each thing was small – putting pressure on myself to answer all my emails before I had my morning coffee, not taking lunch breaks, listening to aggressive music on my train trips, reading way too many distressing news articles every day. Each small thing done each day trained me into a constant state of stress. By removing each one of these the temperature came down on my life but essentially nothing had changed – my job, where I lived etc hadn’t changed but yet my whole life-vide had shifted. My life became better by simply letting myself be more relaxed and training myself to be calm.

By changing my habits and changing what I listened to I have gradually unfurled myself from a ball of stress into someone who is much more open-minded relaxed and confident.

These new habits also gave me the emotional space to know when to ask for help at work, in my relationships and in life,and to start being confident again to know and ask for what I wanted. I started being creative again, studying, changing my furniture over from pre-divorce to some things that truly reflect me and taking more breaks.

Because I have the emotional and mental space, I am able to focus on what I want and have the energy to go for it!

Whole wellness is a journey and I’m so glad I’ve started it and can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Soon, I will try reading ‘Desire Map’ again, I think this time I’m ready.

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My Experience with Divorce

DSC00295-2-2I will write a longer post in future on divorce, the before – during – after. However, I would like to share this interview I recently did on divorce and keeping positive, moving forward and making your life better not worse because of divorce.

There are a lot of perceptions about divorce, a lot of judgement and a lot of missteps in people’s advice.   I hope this interview helps inspire you.

Life You Choose

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