Currently I am indulging in blueberry bagels with Nutella, Ginger Nut biscuits dipped in Irish Breakfast Tea, and any other food that my body is craving. Having spent years being fastidious about every morsel that passed my lips (I’ve done every fad diet under the sun, and I’ve even done the “sensible” approach of exercise and healthy eating), I’ve reached a point where I care not about how many calories I’ve consumed in a day but about my feelings of good health. Sure, I still have days when I look in the mirror and think eek, lay off the carbs, but then I promptly go out and get some dumplings. Mmm, I do love dumplings …
This reaction, you see, has changed. It used to be an all-out glaring competition with my reflection as I ripped apart every tiny thing that was wrong with my body (the stretch marks, the cellulite, the big hips and small bust … right down to hating the position of certain freckles and the angle of my toes) before starving myself for the day (and then crashing with a binge of chocolate, cheese, wine, and whatever other food I could get my hands on).
In tandem with my changed approach to food and transformed perception of my appearance (I still have the stretch marks, cellulite, big hips and small bust – they haven’t disappeared and aren’t likely to vanish any time soon) has been a changed approach to writing.
When I write, I no longer rip apart every word that appears on the page. I no longer glare at sentences and point out their faults. Like my body, my writing simply is. Instead of criticising it and hating it, I’m accepting it for what it is and making choices based on the fact that right now, everything is great. Right now, my big hips look great in yoga pants. Right now, my extended metaphors aptly describe a character. Right now, my love for Ginger Nuts is being sated. Right now, my long-winded exchanges of dialogue fit the purpose of a draft and they’ll be made snappier when I revise.
Maybe it’s about perspective, but I like to think it’s about love and acceptance.
My body has been around the world. I’ve fed it belgian waffles in Brussels and pizza in Naples (and a few foods I couldn’t quite recognise or name in other countries) – and right now, I’m halfway through a packet of Ginger Nuts and I’m feelinggood.
My writing was abandoned at one point, just as I would have liked to abandon my body for a new one – one with bigger breasts, narrower thighs, and a flat stomach. But writing waited for me to realise how silly I’d been, how thoroughly ridiculous I was to try and disown core parts of who I am.
I’m learning to be kind to myself. I’m giving myself what I want and need, rather than trying to starve and berate my body and writing into submission.
It’s working out. As a consequence, my writing is improving because I’m actually writing rather that convincing myself in the first sentence that I should quit while I’m ahead. Powered by Ginger Nuts and Irish Breakfast Tea, words are pouring out and ideas are flowing.
A friend recently said to me, “Wow, Stef, you look great! You’ve lost so much weight!”
“No,” I laughed, “I haven’t lost anything. I’ve just … gained happiness.”
My writing wish for you this week is for you to indulge. Whether it’s a trip to the day spa for a massage or a triple chocolate fudge cake just for you, enjoy yourself. Write a list of the things you love to do and do them! Then write about it – good things come from being kind to yourself and giving yourself what you want and need.