This I Believe

Annabelle - Moab, Utah
Entered on September 17, 2007

This I believe

I believe that we need to be kinder to ourselves. We need to treat ourselves with the compassion we share with friends and the gentleness we show to children. This spring I became particularly aware of how hard I can sometimes be on myself and how so many people I know share this trait.

A close friend and I used to take walks together, often bemoaning the five pounds we eternally wanted to lose, but never did. This Spring, we finally lost that weight.

My two-year-old son was diagnosed with an aggressive non-metastic tumor; her husband with stomach cancer. In essence, we lost our appetites.

Neither of us was overweight. On the contrary, we are healthy women who never really exceeded the recommended weight limit for our 5’3″ frames. Yet, like so many women, we were constantly critical of ourselves, most notably, our physical selves. This eternal drive to lose “the last five pounds” was simply a manifestation of that endless quest for perfection, and with that, an underlying dissatisfaction with our naturally flawed selves.

Our bodies got lighter as our hearts became heavier. I attained that desirable number on the scale, but what I really wanted was to roll back time.

I wish I had worried less about those five pounds. Here are some of the numbers that were more worth focusing on: the pound of butter on her husband’s homemade perogies in the winter; the liters of champagne we drank for each New Year; the traditional 4-pound Prime Rib we used to celebrate every birthday; the 25 pounds of pregnancy weight I gained that yielded 7 lbs of perfect joy-not once, but twice.

I want to give thanks for all the pleasure I took during those moments that nurtured me into the extra five pounds I used to own. They represented happiness and peace.

By the end of the summer, our stories were resolved. We all avoided the dreaded chemotherapy that loomed in the possible future for us. For my son, his tumor went into spontaneous remission. For our friend, his tumor killed him.

I believe we should be kinder to ourselves, less critical of our flaws and more thankful for the ability we have to create and enjoy pleasure in our uncertain lives. Every scar tells a story, every pound bears witness to a meal well savored and shared, every wrinkle reminds us that we are living a long life.