I'm sitting on the balcony of our coastal condo and I'm staring out at the sparkling blue waters of the sea. Pelicans are chattering noisily to one another as they take turns nose-diving into the water. Small boats laze by, and the lap of the water is lulling me into a quiet, open-eyed meditation.
All is well.
At least it should be.
But I am not completely present. I keep glancing down at the rolls of belly beneath my thin blue tank top, and my mind jumps back and forth between the beer I'd like to have and the exercising I think I probably should be doing. It's a constant assault, and today it's been particularly exhausting.
My husband and I set out to slow travel with our daughter exactly a year ago. We sold almost everything we owned and packed the rest in a small U-Haul trailer in the name of freedom and joy and living life to the fullest.
And for the most part it's been pretty great. It's had its highs and lows of course, but on the whole I feel zero regret about our decision.
But what I'm learning about myself because of this choice is that no matter where we are, there I am too. And along with me come my pains, my obsessive thoughts, my limiting beliefs, my sorrows, my insecurities. I didn't see them get all packed up when we left, but I'm seeing how they're always right there with me.
It's a million things. The way I guilt myself about C having too much screen time so I can have a break to write or talk on the phone. The anxieties about money and whether we are or aren't eating out too much. The pressure I put on myself to be living in some grand purpose and reaching more people. And of course the schizophrenic love-hate relationship I have with my body. This body.
About two years ago I started unexplainably losing weight. (Well, it would be unexplainable if I wasn't such a big believer in the power of meditation and miracles.) For a year the pounds leapt from my body with glee and ease, and healthy decisions became effortless and soothing. Before I knew it I was running several times a week, drinking way less alcohol than I had in the past and legitimately preferring whole foods to processed ones. I was thin, fit and healthier than I'd been in a decade.
By the time we left for our big slow-travel journey, I was twenty pounds lighter and a million percent happier with my physique. But when we hit the road I noticed a swell of new desires. Slowly I watched myself indulging in more decadent foods, drinking more of the novel craft beers we discovered, and basically slipping back into a lifestyle that supports a, well, curvier frame.
I was enjoying myself. Immensely. And just as naturally as the pounds dissolved, they began to reappear, each earned in the spirit of joy and fun and newness and indulgence.
And the truth is that I so deeply desire to be okay with that. I keep asking myself, "Why is this not okay with me? Why can't this reality be good enough? Why can't I drink beer and eat bean tacos and love every damn cell of this bod while enjoying this fabulous beach life I created?"
I desire to look at my body and see only beauty. I desire to relax and just go with the flow of my ever-changing form. I desire the feeling of total self-acceptance no matter what my shape.
And if I know anything about me and my desires, I know that I'm a master-creator when it comes to fulfilling them.
I owe it to myself to be completely present amongst all this beauty I've created. I crafted this amazing life I'm living. I'm a published writer sitting on a balcony overlooking the ocean just like I've always dreamed. And that is enough. Perfectly enough.
Even if it's a moment-by-moment journey back to center. Even it's back to square one of affirmations and practiced loving thoughts about my body. Even if it's one-piece swimsuits and big flowy tops for eternity. I just refuse to let ridiculous, outdated, untrue beliefs spoil all the goodness.
Because in truth it's all just make believe. We all live within the freedom or prison of our own minds, and I don't think I'd much like prison food.