Thursday, July 05, 2007

We Are Stardust.....

I've really been into this "love your body" thing lately.

Yeah. I know. Boring as hell....

But I found an interesting twist on it. At least for me, I've really had to get beyond the cultural claptrap and nonsense that basically boils down to "if you love your body, you will look a certain way, you will do certain things", all of which come back to following cultural edicts.

When I was in Thailand, the women were lovely... and I don't necessarily mean they were "thin". Some were rotund and heavyset. Some were thin. Some were short. Some were tall.

Here's what they had in common. They all looked comfortable in their bodies. They didn't primp or polish. They didn't seem at all concerned about irrelevant things. They just... loved their bodies and respected them. They often worked hard and that created a look of usefulness. They were not self-conscious and vain. They simply existed in their bodies.

I took a look at my body today when I got out of the shower. Stripped of the Thai clothes which have become so much a part of my image. I need a haircut. I look puffy and unkempt in a way that finally sunk past my rebellion against an enforced body image to an ultimate realization:

If this person before me was my friend, my child, my aunt, my grandmother or my mother, I would do something about it! I would make sure she gets to the dentist a bit sooner. I would make sure she ate better food. I would make sure she understood that the outside can often reflect the inside.

I would recognize what I have not wanted to recognize. I would recognize that this is a person who has been neglected for far too long! And I would want to participate in getting her better.

And I have no one to blame for this condition but myself!

We are given these bodies for a reason. We come with them not only as shelters for our souls, but as functioning machines. They are designed perfectly, right down to our toenails. Our eyes, our arms, our legs, our ears, our fingers.... Our bodies come from Source, just as much as our souls.

Somewhere I read this: We all come from stardust.

And mistreating our bodies is a sign of spiritual sickness.

In my case, it originated with self-loathing and was further fueled by a fierce rebellion against a body image that was developed, no doubt, by white males in advertising companies who come up with it for their own pleasure.

More objectification of women. And, yes, I do believe that is what it's all about. It has nothing to do with our health or our well-being. It has to do with what men want women to look like.

I rebelled against that so strongly that I lost sight of the forest for the trees.

This body has to carry me through until the end of my life, whenever that will be.

I resolve here, today, to take better care of my body in the future. It doesn't need to be overly thin... but another 50 pounds of lost fat won't hurt me any. I'm going to take care of my hair.. and my muscles with more exercise. And what foods I consume. All of these things I am going to do because...

... We are stardust. We are a part of everything else ... and to neglect ourselves is to neglect everyone and everything else.

And I promise that eventually I'll get off of all this self-centered posting. I hope you all will stick with me through it. It's just something I have to walk through right now to get to the other side of it. There's light over there... I can almost feel the heat from it... and I have to keep walking toward it. Believe me, I am not being intentionally annoying. For now, I appreciate all the encouragement and support you've been to me so far.. and hopefully for a while longer.

Also, I'd like to publicly thank Cecileaux for his email this morning. He summarized some things that I really needed to hear. In my next life, I'm going to have a brain like his! :)




Anvilcloud said...

Life is about learning, so I don't find you self-centered. We do take our bodies for granted and mistreat them. But I did do some resistance training today, and I did go for a walk. Yay for me. (I refuse to say how long it's been since the last time.)

Julie Pippert said...

I believe this Chani. It's why I joined WW and MILFs and worked really hard to get my body as healthy as I could.

The why in the why I was so motivated is, because, I think I hit a adult developmental leap (as I am now calling them) in which my mind and spirit matured and wished my body to reflect that.

I lost 40 pounds and got better about my eating and exercise.

I tried to convey this, especially to the critics of the MILF stuff, but failed.

This, however, succeeded, I think.

Thank you.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I love this post! If you are ever going to make a have to do it for yourself.

Like Julie, I joined the MILF movement and have made efforts to improve my health and my feelings of self worth. I have done it for myself. I want to feel better about me...not to fit into some idealic, objectified stereotype, but to feel good about me!

The added benefit is Mr. Mayhem is LOVING it! :)

Good luck!

KC said...

This is so inspiring! Yes, do this for you. You deserve it.

ellie bee said...

Julie, sorry for the ignorance, but OK, I need an explanation..."MILF" here is a compliment, to be sure, but not one you would admit you wanted to be called..."MOM I'D LOVE TO F**K"...maybe because I have teenagers---is there another meaning or club?

thailandchani said...

Ellie, I can pipe in here. Initially, when I signed up for MILF, I thought it stood for "melting inches, losing fat." It's been a source of comedy for many of us because I truly knew of no other meaning.

Personally, I had to back away from it, once I found out what it actually meant.

But that's just me. :)


liv said...

And I just add that (I think) one doesn't have to do anything but simply be one's self in order to be a MILF. I think the notion of MILF in training or whatever is a little silly. I'd like to think that if you're a man observing the woman with whom you've procreated, she'd naturally be a MILF.

For me, it's about honoring the body, observing what goes in, and seeing that it can still support me and take me where I want to go. The body has to be strong to support myself and my family. It's less about what we choose to believe that "white males" are telling us, and more about what we decide our bodies mean to us. BKS Iyengar talks extensively about our bodies relative to our feet--what do we need to do for our bodies in order that our feet can keep us on the path?

jen said...

you aren't being annoying in the fact, i felt like someone was holding up a mirror to my face and tapping me on the shoulder. because it should be so easy, so obvious, and we sabotage it over and over.

good for you. i can't wait to see what you continue to discover about yourself and your skin.

painted maypole said...

What a great way to view our bodies, as useful. After giving birth I was just so amazed at what my body could do... and the breastfeeding was incredible. What I learned about how my body would take my babies illness into it and then create the antibodies she needs to fight it... we've been given such gifts, these bodies. We do need to take care of them. For US.

By the way, i love that you sign all of your posts. And "Peace" is how I sign most of my e-mails and letters as well.

thailandchani said...

Anvil, what is resistance training? I do weight lifting... and walking. Some floor exercises and yoga. That's it so far.

I flubbed on Tai Chi because I am just totally uncoordinated :)


Julie, I tried to get a support group together here in Sacramento. Put an ad on Craigslist and heard from people who wanted to do this, too, and then they disappeared. That totally ticked me off.. so I might join WW, too.


QM, I am still on the MILF list and I might check out some of the posts this weekend. There will probably be plenty of helpful information in them.

I tried for a while to keep up all of them but at that point, trying to comment on 100+ blogs just made me feel defeated. :) I just have to keep in mind that I don't have to comment on all of them.


KC, thank you for saying so. I think I'm finally beginning to get that.


Liv, I am going to have to look up BKS Lyengar. I know you know a lot about all of this so I take your suggestions very seriously.


Jen, that sabotage is part of what I got from C's email this morning. He'd been reading for a while.. and wrote me a note saying, basically, why do you continue to punish yourself?

Talk about cold water in my face!

He was so, so right! More than he knew!

Sometimes the things we think should be obvious simply are not.


Maypole, it really is, when you think about it. Your body was able to nourish your child, create a safe spot for him/her to grow, to protect him/her from disease. It's amazing. Really!

I've never had children but my body has also done many things for me over the years. It has sustained long periods of no exercise and junk food, smoking, and all sorts of neglect/abuse.. and still, it keeps working!

Thanks for the validation on signing. I do that because these posts aren't really "posts". They are letters to the people who come by to read. I value you. All of you. Very much!





meno said...

Looking at all the wonderful things my body does, i do love it. maybe not always the way it looks, but it is an amazing body.

Yours too?

Mary-LUE said...

I think you have the right outlook. It is one I am trying to hold for myself, also.

Snoskred said...

One of my must read posts that I put aside for this week's wrap up is a post about drinking more water - 9 Great Reasons to Drink Water, and How to Form the Water Habit. I am implementing this change in my life. I have to admit, I have struggled with this in the past, but I've taken their advice on board and am giving it a go. It's been a few days now and I can already see benefits.

Don't take this the wrong way but I think the diet coke is bad. I did a bit of research into it when Sephy told me he was drinking it. The thing that scared me was they have linked it to depression and after he googled he decided he would give it up entirely. The first few days he was really cranky - he suffered withdrawal symptoms. From diet soda. Isn't that scary?

I've always thought if you're going to drink soda, drink the real stuff but in moderation, so I have never done the diet drinks. I was limiting myself to one can of coke a day, with dinner, because I used to feel like that was the only drink that went with dinner. Since I started the water change, I'm finding I don't want to drink Coke, and for my drink of choice other than water, I've moved to apple and pineapple juice.

Anyway, it's possibly something to consider with this resolution you've made. And good on you for doing it. :)

Once I get to live near the beach I'm going to be walking an awful lot and the weight will just drop off, I know that from past experience. However I am starting to think I should not wait. I should get walking here and now. So you're inspiring me to do that. ;)

slouching mom said...

This really resonated with me. It's a lesson I need to learn. And water...yes. None of us drinks enough of it.

Anonymous said...

This is NOT boring. Most of us need these reminders. Most of us probably leap out of the shower and into our clothes just to avoid really seeing. Most of us probably eat too much or make poor nutritional choices through out the day. Most of us have excuses. Why should it be so hard to be honest with ourselves?

Tabba said...

I loved this, Chani.
It really got me thinking.

Christine said...

You are not annoying--not at all!

you are so right--our bodies need to be cared for and loved and respected. It is still hard for me, though, to get away from the weight trap. I am very healthy, run regularly, eat well, etc. Yet I am stuck on the 10-15 pounds i think i need to lose. My doc says get over it not necessary, but I feel fat and gross. I NEED to realize that this is just not true. Thanks for reminding me.

Bob said...

I too hate what the media tells me is an attractive woman. As I grow older I have learned that beauty comes from within and is not purchased off of the rack or from a cosmetics counter.

Jamie Curtis has been working on this, publishing pictures of herself that are unretouched, in essence showing her as she really is. Dove has also done a series of shorts that do the same thing.

I wish you the resolve to achieve your goals.

mitzh said...

I agree with you and what is written in this post. We need to love our body not because of what other people may think or say, but most importantly because of ourselves..

I am wishing you all the luck and strength you need to reach your goal...

kaliroz said...

This is far from annoying.

I think many of us disrespect our bodies. Either because of stress or exhaustion or any number of things.

Sometimes, too, from too much navel gazing. I've spent the last few years so deep inside my head that I don't recognize this body. It's not that different than the one I possessed before having my child and descending into Alice's rabbithole ... but it's changed in ways I didn't notice until recently. Not entirely for the better.

I think I was like you that I was rebelling so much to the image of beauty shoved down our throats that I said, "Screw it, I don't need to look like those emaciated women!"

And I don't. But I do need to care for myself. For my body.

We are all stardust.

I've heard that before and just don't remember where.

I need to make a big sign with that on it and hang it where I'll see it everyday.

MsLittlePea said...

Deciding to take better care of one's body is not self-centered at all! We all need to remind ourselves to do that. Should I feel guilty about the KitKat I scarffed down a few minutes ago? They say chocolate is good for lowering blood pressure...right? :O)

capacious said...

This is exactly what I've been thinking. I often think of what I would say to myself if I was my friend. I have to stop hating my poor mistreated body and start taking care of it instead.

I'll gladly go on your journey with you.

Catherine said...

Chani - Its nice to "meet" you! Thanks for your comment - you are welcome to browse my archives anytime. I'm certain I'll be doing the same on your blog. I'm always happy to find fellow "deep thinkers" especially with a cultural twist.

This is a fantastic was your thoughts on Karma.

Again, nice to "meet" you!


Hel said...

I love walking your path with you.

And yes, sometimes we treat ourselves in ways we would never dream of treating a loved one.

So true.

Mike M said...

Another great post!!

Julie Pippert said...

Not to be annoying but I'm not going to enter into the MILF debate again. You can like it or not and that's fair enough. I like and find value in support groups that help me work towards health and well-being, overall (mind, body, spirit). That's what this group did for me. I think I've been pretty clear my goal is for well-being, like the Queen stated, for me.

Chani, you might prefer resistance training---check it out via google.

QT said...

Chani - what a wonderful day for you. I think these are very, very positive steps. It is easy to dive into self-loathing because we are not "perfect" - wherever that vision came from, TV, mags, our moms, etc.

I am focusing on what my body can do. Every time I have to step up the running program to the next level, I have noticed I get scared and invent all these reasons why I can't go to the gym or the trail. Not anymore. I set a goal for myself,next summer, of being able to go on a multi-day backpacking trip. I will probably have to carry between 35-40 pounds on my back. Strength & endurance over thin & wasting away.

So proud of you!

thailandchani said...

Meno, mine is rather amazing, too, considering all I've put it through. :)


Mary, it's one that perhaps all of us will hold, comfortably, one day.


Snos, I read that about the water also... and it's right on! I buy the big bottles of Arrowhead and keep it near me at all times. Someone mentioned that we often mistake thirst for hunger.. and the water is a good test of that.


SM, the more water, the better. If nothing else, at least it is filling.


De, I wish I knew the answer to that one! It's funny how honesty with ourselves can be so easy in some areas, and not in others.


Tabba, thanks. :) I know it's been getting me to think, too.


Christine, do you have any idea where that message is coming from? If it defies logic, you know it's got to be wrong. :)

Don't let the culture define you. :)


Bob, I would like to see Camryn Mannheim do something like that... someone who is not reed-thin.


Mitzh, thanks. I'm doing my best.. and most of it is all in our perceptions. It's complicated and simple at the same time.


Roz, there was a song many years ago that said something like "We are stardust, we are golden... dah dah dah." Can't remember the rest.

I've always been one who lives in my head, too. Somehow, I have this need to reconcile my choices with my ethics.. and sometimes that sends me sideways ~ like rebelling against the culture by ruining my body. That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? :)


MsPea, I'm actually not much of a believer in guilt as a motivator anyway. :)

I had rocky road ice cream earlier today. It's hotter than hell and it tasted really good. Now I'll move on to the next thing.


Capacious, I'm glad! Maybe we can all encourage each other in this.


Catherine, that sounds great! My cultural choice naturally influences a lot of the things I say and believe. It's becoming comfortable enough now that I don't have to measure everything against it. It's just ... a natural way to live now.


Hel, I have a thousand ideas on why that might be... none of them friendly to the individualist/consumer way of life.


Mike, thanks.


Julie, I will check out resistance training. With my horrid balance, maybe it will give me something I can do without stumbling around like a drunk!


QT, my logic (buried as it was) was that since no one else seemed to want me, I needn't want myself, either.. and that naturally led to self-destruction. It's unhealthy, certainly, but that's probably the origin of many of my bad choices.




Snoskred said...

One of the other bloggers I read posted a link to this page on JK Rowling's site - the writer of the Harry Potter novels. It's worth a read.

Being Thin

thailandchani said...

Snos, that was a great article! Pink is one of my favorites for the very reason that she will poke a great big stick at some of these issues.




Carla said...

This is a great reminder. Very inspiring. Long term projects, but so worth it.

Anonymous said...

Was is David Crosby who told you the stardust thing?

"We are stardust, we are golden / we are billion year old carbon / and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden..."

thailandchani said...

Carla, I'm going to try to stick with it. The primary thing, at least for me, is to give up the idea of "goals". That is always the most certain road to failure for me. :)


Thomas, you're right. "By the time we get to Woodstock...."





Emily said...

I don't think you are self-centered. I think you are centered.

thailandchani said...

Emily, thanks. :) I need to learn the difference a bit more.



nomad4ever said...

People really have obsessions with their bodies these days. What does it help?

The media is doing its part to support that. Switch off the TV, avoid american blockbuster moovies or series, eat healthy and soon you will love your body again.

Worries will only drain you more! ;-)

Cheers from Bali,


Life is what you make it!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Chani, your brain is quite wonderful, too. And everything you have said here is so true.

I also believed for a long time that I was somehow "above" my own body, that the Real Me was inside it. I finally realized that I was both body and soul, that we all are, and that they are meant to interact perfectly, which means that both must be loved and respected and cared for.

There is so much beauty in you, inner and outer. Neither is there to fear, and both deserve your attention equally.

Rod Sherwin said...

Since your in front of the mirror anyway, you can use this EFT process to not only become accepting of your body as is but also add some self-respect and care as well.

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