So, I've got some "back-up" challenge posts for days when I might not be feeling so inspired. However, they're sitting each day collecting dust because, as I go through my day with my mind focused on different ways to challenge and change ourselves, I am bombarded with examples and ideas.
Today is no different. I decided on an impulse today to trade my pre-work strength training session in for a yoga class that lined up perfectly with the time I arrived at the gym today and ended just in time for me to get in a quick HIIT session before I had to start getting ready to start working (yes, one of the perks of working at a gym).
I couldn't have picked a better way to spend my time both for my body (which was stiff and sore and in great need of a good stretch) as well as my mind which has been becoming a bit "noisy" and distracted from what's important lately.
Okay, truth time. I am the stereotypical female who compares myself to all other females, both good and bad. "She has better arms than me, I have a better butt than her, her hair is longer, she's more flexible, I'm younger than her, I'm older than her".....it's a constant competition where I sometimes win and often lose. But honestly, when we participate in this competition, everyone loses. We don't connect with others or even with ourselves. We live externally and are never truly "at home" and at peace within ourselves.
The funny thing is that I was never like this when I was obese. I actually embraced what was beautiful about me and what was beautiful about others and never perceived the two as not being able to coexist together. However, between losing weight and recognizing that I didn't turn out to be the perfect, flawless person I'd always imagined I'd be and certain people along the way openly comparing me to others as well and expressing disappointment when I didn't measure up, I have lost that "blind" love and acceptance of my appearance and status in life.
How I feel about myself in any given situation is often directly connected with how I feel about those around me. Especially, because of past experiences, if I'm with my boyfriend. If there's a female anywhere around who I perceive as more attractive than me, I feel like he must be disappointed to be with me instead of her. However, slowly but surely, I realize more and more as time goes on that I don't need to be even nearly the most beautiful woman in the room for him to perceive me that way because, as he always tells me, no one else is ME and I can't help but believe maybe he's being honest because this is how I feel about him as well. For me, it's like comparing apples and oranges. It's doesn't matter who has the biggest biceps or the lowest body fat percentage because there is no other man in this world that has the complex arrangement of thoughts, feelings, ideals, genetics, etc. that make up the man I love so much. Sooooo why can't I perceive myself that way as well? Why can't I love myself because I am so perfectly me? Well, more and more I can. But, many days, I have quite a ways to go.
Today, however, and in a yoga class of all places (one of my usually very insecure places) for some reason I can't quite explain except that it's a notion that has been progressively creeping into my subconscious more and more, I let go. I stopped caring if my arms looked flabby when held straight out to my side. I equally stopped noticing who's were more or less flabby than mine (news flash, ladies, most all of us have fat that hangs under our arms in this position so let's stop hating ourselves for it).
Instead, I started to look around with love and acceptance. I saw beauty everywhere. Every size, every age, everyone had a beautiful light shining within them. The light of God, humanity, life, whatever you choose to call it. As soon as I perceived everyone in that room as beautiful, I instantly perceived myself the same way.
I have carried that throughout my day and life looks so different today compared to just yesterday. Where I saw an elderly lady on a bicycle yesterday who I couldn't possibly relate to, today I see beautiful eyes, a bright, sincerely happy smile and wisdom that I can't help but admire and hope to one day possess myself. Instead of the overweight woman not working hard that I generally get annoyed with, I saw myself a few years ago, literally scared to get out of breath but so desperate to change that I would once again put myself out there and try. What a wonderful way to experience myself and others! If I can only hold onto this feeling each and every day!
But we only have this day. And in this day let's all embrace what's beautiful about everyone and everything. And, in the process, learn to love ourselves exactly where we stand in this moment. This doesn't mean we can't always strive to be better. In fact, it's all the more incentive to improve upon ourselves. Think of those you love the most in this life. Think of how you treat them with gentleness, acceptance, forgiveness and how you want only the best for them in life. What could we do for ourselves if we love US the same?
So go out into your day and recognize beauty everywhere and, most importantly, within yourself.