Last spring, we went to the Leura Garden Festival in the Blue Mountains here in New South Wales, and I’ve been wanting to share with you guys some pictures of this magnificent place and all the other-worldly magical plants and flowers we saw there ever since. I have no words to describe it, so I will leave you with the photos, along with some thoughts I’ve been having lately that have nothing to do with flowers. You should be starting to get used to my randomness by now, no?
Today, just like many other days, I woke up and dragged myself out of bed and began the usual routine. I turned on the shower and stripped down to get in. I faced myself in the mirror and I gave out a big, long sigh, as I started (almost instantly) noticing all my flaws. All I could see was ‘this’ bulge, ‘that’ crease, ‘these’ lines…’that’ scar. I was about to plunge head-first into that all-too-familiar sea of self-loathing and criticism, longing things were different and comparing myself to ridiculous standards that only ever serve to make me feel inadequate and just plain ugly. But then I decided to stop…because today, unlike any other day, I chose love.
I look at the slight bulge of my tummy that annoys me so much. It is softer and rounder than it once was, and I am reminded that it is a clear sign of my disease’s remission. A couple of years ago, this very same stomach may have indeed been as flat as a pancake, but I was utterly miserable. Its flatness was a result of my being so sick that I was unable to keep down/digest/absorb any food whatsoever. What good is a flat stomach when you are in that condition? Now, I would not call myself ‘normal’ (never have been, never will be), but I am able to enjoy and benefit from all this glorious food that I love so much and have been deprived of for so long, and I am thankful.
I see my skin, so full of imperfections, and I realise that it is because of this skin that I have been able to FEEL so much. I’ve felt the warmth of the sun, the coolness of so many seas…the comfort of my mother’s cuddles and the tight squeeze of my father’s hug. I’ve felt my soulmate’s endless kisses, the fleeting brush of my cat’s tail and the softness of my newborn nephew’s feet…and I am thankful.
I look at my hair – or rather what’s left of it – so thin and weak and brittle and not even half of what it used to be pre-illness. I then think to myself, why am I mad at THIS hair? THIS hair is the hair that stayed! THIS hair stuck around and held on for dear life through the endless concoctions of destructive chemicals I drenched my body with in hopes of cure. THIS hair survived…and I am thankful.
HELLO stretch marks! I see you. I remember how you exploded onto my body as I ballooned up (16 kilos in under 2 months!) from the cortisone meds…then I shrunk back down from all the flaring…then ballooned back up again from the immunosuppressives…then- well, you get the picture. I’ve resented you SO deeply for SO long…but how could I have been so blind? You, dear stretch marks, saved me. You accommodated all my ups and all my downs. You allowed me to grow, and hopefully will enable me to grow once more if and when I am destined to carry little humans in the future. I can rest easy, knowing that you will be there for me like you always are. Because of you I am flexible, I am fluid…because of you I am free. And I am thankful.
As I glance down, I glimpse my thick, stubby ankles (or Cankles, as I usually refer to them). I’ve hated them for as long as I can remember, always wishing they were more slim and graceful…but what if I DID have thin, fragile ankles? Would they have endured all the joint-weakening drugs I’ve taken? Would they have stayed strong and kept my feet firmly planted to the ground? Would they have taken me to all those many places others only dream of going to? So…screw the tight boots and the delicate strappy sandals…I choose my Cankles ANY day, and for them I am thankful.
This is my body, for better or for worse…and it’s still standing. I hereby vow to take care of it and cherish it as best I can, with all its flaws, blemishes and idiosyncrasies…after all, it’s the only place I’ve got to live. So starting today, until my very last day, I will try, consciously and deliberately, to continue to choose love.