Eh-hem. Eh-hem. Not sure how to start this one, so I’ll just clear my throat for a while. It’s like when I’m on the radio or speaking in front of a live audience, and someone asks a tough question; I always say, “That’s a great question” to stall and give me a second to figure out what to do with that bomb dropped before me. So, dead give away here… eh-hem, eh-hem, sip water. I don’t know how to bring this up, how to start it in a way that you and I won’t judge me. So, I think I’ll just dive in.
I’m vain. Very vain. Always have been. And now, now that I’m 25 pounds lighter and in amazing toned body, now that I have 20 year old men checking me out; it’s definitely not getting better. I’m spiritual. Very spiritual. Always have been going there. And now, now that I’m living in Buddhist countries and studying, teaching Clean Your Soul three times a week, and writing tons of this blog; spirituality is seeping into my actions, speech, thoughts, and my being. They don’t fit so easily together.
Spirituality means non-self, non-ego. Looking hot and feeling sexier than I ever have in my life is the opposite. And, damn it, I don’t want to give up on my ego. I like my ego. I worked hard for it, earned it. I’ve worked on it from two angles:
First off, emotionally, I used to hate myself. I was uncomfortable to be in the skin that held my soul. I was trapped in my own inferno of discomfort and uneasy as to who I was. I worked long and hard, with many a great therapists to reach the following: I can stand myself, I can understand myself, I can appreciate my journey, I like myself in spite of all of who I am, I like myself a lot, I can forgive myself, I love and adore and admire myself. So, that’s huge. Why would I want to drop being my own greatest fan?
Second off, physically. I’ve spent the last year and a half losing 25 pounds, changing my emotionally-charged relationship with food, muscle-training and toning my body firmer than I knew was possible. I have gone from rejecting my body and hiding it behind layers and layers of clothing to loving every ounce of it. I have gone from not wearing a bathing suit for years to buying a bikini for the first time in my life. I am drinking tons of water, swallowing ginger most mornings, and sleeping 8 hours a night. I dance and move in ways that lots of very attractive young men, and my very attractive husband, pay me lots of attention. Huge is not the word. Why would I want to drop any of this ecstatic feeling?
OK, point in case, right now. I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Siem Reap,Cambodia. As I write, this adorably hot 20-something year old Argentinian just smiled at me, and sat down to talk for ten minutes. We chatted about our family’s travels around the world. Am I disgusting for enjoying this attention? Do I pretend like I don’t like it, so as not to sound egocentric and petty? Shouldn’t I be involved in loftier, holier thoughts and interests other than how much attention I get when I wear this tight blouse and my first ever pair of short shorts? At almost 38, is this really what I am occupied with?
So, when the judging myself stops, I smile, and this is what I have to say to you (ok, to me, to me):
“I love you Gabi. You are amazing. You have done an unreal job and feeling and realizing your sexuality, also reflected off others, is fun and amazing. You deserve that! Enjoy! And Gabi, you can be spiritual at the exact same time. You can, and you are.
You always smile at people when you pass them. You never take your looks as an excuse to look down upon or make anyone else feel less attractive or less important. You see the beauty in others, and in loving yourself, only have more love to give the world. When you are at peace with yourself, in love with yourself, celebrating yourself; you have more peace, love and celebration to share and inspire others with.
And, even you feeling so hot is a spiritual lesson in and of itself, dear Gabi. For all things pass, all things change, all things evolve and become what they weren’t again. And again, you will face accepting that change, processing that change, loving yourself as you continue to firm your body, and as it flaps and wears and wrinkles in your 40’s and 50’s and on. And, you going through this journey allows you to further help others on their path to a healthier, fuller, lighter them.
Gabi. Dear, dear Gabi. Your soul is contained in your body. Your body houses your soul. You are obligated to live in that body, and make decisions on behalf of that body that will enable your soul to live as long as it can, as healthily as it can in its home. Taking care of my physical body has miraculously healed it of many of the dis-eases that were plaguing it for years. Now that you eat a mostly raw food diet, exercise regularly, and on and on; now that you are doing all of that, you are allowing your soul more room to shine. You are less weighed down (literally and figuratively) by the burdens of an unhealthy body, and now, you are blessed with more space to look into your soul.
Gabi, you are so blessed. So lucky. So God-damn lucky to have the spouse who supported you all these years, to have teachers enter your path who have guided you, to have the wisdom and good fortune to manage your money in a way that has enabled open-ended world travel. Not a minute goes by that you would grant yourself full credit for your life. You remain blessed, humble, and utterly, speechlessly grateful for the gifts you’ve been bestowed in your life.
Gabi, you are blessed. You are amazing. You have done the work, and continue to do the work. You have been blessed with the path of light shining as your guide every step of the way. And this combination of pride, self-struggle, modesty, gratefulness, vulnerability, openness, and grace are what make you who are you, exactly as you are, exactly as you should be. “
And that is the letter I would write to myself right now. I would laugh (I am, out loud- which is something I am working on doing more these days) for it feels right. And what am I going to do with that, what has this inspired me to realize?
Eh-hem. Eh-hem again.
And so, I had a list here of things I want to do. And I’ve deleted it all.
I don’t want to do anything. I want to be. I want to continue living this vanity/spirituality dance and observe it. See where I want to put in more ying or more yang; note where it is and how it dances and how that dance does or does not sway to the rhythm of who I want to be.
As I continue to change, so will my dance; so will yours.
So, “Let’s all take a bow for the dance is done.” It’s the last line of Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton, a book we put our kids to sleep with for years. I bow to you, and to me, and my body, and my soul, and all the amazing grey stuff in between.
If you want to share your thoughts on the vanity/spirituality balance in your life, on how you struggle to love your body and/or your soul, on whatever this has pushed in your; you know I’m here. If you want to call me an egotistical bitch, a selfish pseudo-guru, or just a woman on her journey; do so. If you find it impossible or more welcoming to speak to someone who rolls spiritual murmurs and curse words in the same sentence; tell me. If you don’t speak at all, know I’ll find the nearest mirror and talk to it for hours. I still have much to say to that girl in the mirror. How did Michael Jackson say it, “Be the change you want to see. The man in the mirror.”
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