I've been noticing some powerful shifts in how I show up in the world lately. Some of the changes are in how I look when I show up, but it's much more than that. It's really a change in how I make my choices and why, which effects the energy and intention I bring to all I do.
Perhaps I should explain.
Like many of us, my head has led the way for most of my life. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of my intellectual, academic, and professional achievements. But such things are only part of a well-lived, happy and healthy life. The problem was that I'd left my body out of the equation. I'd drug it around behind my head, thinking for years that everything was as it should be. But I knew it wasn't. Deep down, in my bones, I knew. Those achievements weren't bringing me happiness and I was becoming increasingly worn down, burned-out, sick, and anxious.
Then things began to shift as I explored healthier ways to live and be. It started with listening to my body.All That Glitters...
For most of my adult life, I have styled my hair, worn makeup, and chosen my clothing each day to ensure I was "presentable" to the world at large. The further up the food chain I went in my career, the more important this became for client and agency meetings, conferences, and management functions. The exception, of course, was when I was doing field work. But the rest of the time, game on. I colored my hair for years, too. First it was because I liked my hair a darker shade of brown than my sun-lightened hair typically was. Then it became a way to cover the encroaching gray.
Something began shifting about nine months ago. I remember standing in front of the mirror peeking at my gray roots and feeling my gut clench when I thought of coloring my hair even one more bloody time. I'd earned each and every strand of gray. To me, they represented the wisdom and experience I'd gained in my life and reflected my actual age. I was sick of the fumes, the cost, and most of all, I was sick of hiding. That day I was done with it and I haven't colored my hair since. As my gray started growing back in, instead of gut clenches when I looked in the mirror, I started feeling more relaxed and happy with my reflection. I was particularly gleeful about one large gray streak that began to appear (still am, in fact). I felt like freedom. The shackles started coming off.
Then I started letting my hair grow. It was a similar thing. One day as I was coiffing my stylish short do, I realized just how sick I was of the routine. My shoulders were up by my ears with tension and I hadn't been awake more than an hour at that point. For goodness sakes, weren't there better things to do with my time and attention (and money) than this ridiculous cycle of over-styled beauty I'd bought into? In fact, what I really wanted was longer hair. It felt like freedom to me. (There's that word again.) So I cancelled my next hair appointment and decided to let my locks grow. I still get it trimmed up every couple of months now as its growing out (mostly to keep it out of my eyes), but I no longer have the expensive monthly trip to the salon. I suspect that before long, I'll be able to extend those visits to just a few times a year.
As my hair grows out, the most amazing thing has been happening. It's becoming a little wavy and curly. This is coming from a woman who has had stick-straight hair her whole life. Curly. I can't stop grinning about it. Clearly, it's not just my attitude that's shifting. It's happening at a cellular level too. My body knows and is leading the way with the physical nudges on which way I should go next.
The process has continued, inside and out. Next I started reducing the make up I wore even when I was still working in an office. Now that I work for myself from home (hallelujah!), I rarely bother with it at all. My face wants to encounter the world without barriers and I received the message just as clearly as if it had spoken words out loud to me. "Please get this crap off of me NOW. I can't breathe!" When I wear makeup these days it's because I want to adorn myself with a little sparkle and color ~ not for acceptance or approval from others, but for the sheer fun of expressing my own Softly Wild Spirit.
The list goes on and on. My body began rebelling against the structured clothes I wore and insisted on more comfort, simplicity, and ease. My wardrobe shrank accordingly. Suddenly, I wanted to wear skirts (and let me just say, that's a huge departure from the old norm), dangling earrings, and color! This switch from the classic urban black that was my uniform for most of my adult life is freaking amazing. Don't get me wrong, I still love me some black, but this desire to wear more color is a big and welcome shift.Inside and Out
My body also became intolerant to more than just what I was putting on the outside. I stopped being able to eat a variety of foods during "The Stressing Times" of my last years in the corporate world. My body simply couldn't digest my life inside or out anymore, and it made sure I got the message. I've been cleaning up my diet accordingly for two years, but it's been a long chain of hit-and-miss strategies to try and figure out what agreed with me.
Then, an illuminating conversation with a dear friend, Jennifer Strait, turned on the light bulb about another piece of this re-embodiment I was doing. We were talking about my frustrations around not being able to figure out what I could eat, not less start dropping some of the excess weight I'd gained in corporatelandia. It seemed my body was changing what it could tolerate about every other week. Jen said, "Just ask your body what it wants. Ask every day. It's knows." And sure enough, it does. As it turns out, it's even more talkative than I suspected.
Over the past three months, I've asked and listened, asked and listened, over and over again. Chicken breast, avocado, and fruit for breakfast? If that's what my body wants, that's what it gets. Each time I ask, I get a little more information or a new step to take. I've already lost over 10 pounds without really dieting. I just changed what I ate and drank to what my body wanted and the rest took care of itself. If I occasionally stray to what my mind insists we want (hello chocolate, wine, and soy lattes!), my body puts up a fuss. A little treat, no problem. A lot and I get a lecture. And now I listen.
My new way of eating is pretty close to the Paleo Diet or Whole30 approach. I didn't really set out to follow either diet. I'd been curious about them, yes, but mostly I just wanted the food and drink I ingested to nourish me, not make me sick. Turns out, that's the food my body wants - at least for now. So that's what I'm giving it.A New Kind of Makeover: Let Yourself Go
In the past when you heard a woman had "let herself go," it usually meant she became fat, dowdy, and unattractive. It's time that old paradigm got a total makeover. The fact is, when you tune in to your body's inner wisdom, let go, and follow the guidance it provides, there is a whole lot of freedom, authentic beauty, and joy on the other side. The outside starts to gorgeously reflect the inside. That's the best kind of beauty treatment I know.
So have a chat with your Softly Wild Body. Ask what it wants.
And it will never steer you wrong.Do you want to cultivate more embodiment in your life?
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