Lotion. 


For decades, I have had a deep loathing for my body, with a few, brief interludes of positive feeling for it. Even when I felt a bit more at ease in my own skin, it wasn’t really deep, not really lasting.  I was still very focused on the love I would have for myself being completely dependent on what number was on the scale. It didn’t do much for my self esteem and I often felt like I was on a roller coaster about my own appearance.


However, one ritual that has been a constant for me, no matter how large my skin mass from one year to the next, has been using lotion every day.  After every shower or bath, I have been applying lotion to my entire body for as long as I can remember. I can’t remember what prompted me to begin this way of interacting with myself, maybe simply dry skin. But, now, no matter what season of the year, lotion is still part of my daily living. 



Although lotion, by its texture and smell, seems like a loving practice to give to myself, I have often felt pretty unloving toward myself as I would apply it.  Feeling the details, rolls, and curves of my body has been a pretty negative experience for me.  I would put my lotion on, and scrutinize how much larger or smaller a part of my body felt.  I would look down at my stomach as I would put it on and feel deep shame. At times, it felt as if I would never be able to be accepting of my body, as it is, and embrace the ritual as a loving practice to give to my vessel, every single day.


And then, over time, just in the last few months, something magical happened.  My thoughts about my body started to shift, in solid ways. I stopped judging myself by my size. I stopped scrutinizing my wrinkles and rolls and curves. I started to really, deeply appreciate the body that I am in, and lotion became a whole different gift to give to my skin.


This morning, as I put lotion on my arms, my legs, my stomach and torso, I felt love. I felt peace. I felt the sensation and it felt so deeply caring and gentle, and I realized that I saw my body, my self, that way, too. 


What a miracle.  



The Persistence of Grief. 

There is no time that I can recollect in my memory quite like the time that we are in right now.  These days, on the rare occasion that I turn on the news, there is a ticker no matter what network, showing how many deaths have happened.  The day before. The month before. In the last year.  What a real and raw way to remind us of the ever present reality of death and impermanence, and to remind us of our grief.
  

So many loved ones over the years have died; so many people that I have admired but not known; so many hearts broken, including my own.  No matter how much I practice Presence, no matter how prepared I feel at times to manage the death of someone, grief still comes.  And, at times comes when I don’t expect it.

Holidays, of course, are a poignant and painful reminder of those that have died. Anniversaries. Momentos or photos. Pieces of the people that are still with us, but not here to touch. They poke at our pain, even if we have put it away for a period of time. That brings with it an assortment of emotions, ranging from sadness to anger to hopelessness.

I am always grateful for the remembrance, for sure. But there was a time in my life that believed that grief was something that we experience immediately after a loss, and that it would ease with time. And, it does. Yet it is also persistent, comes around when we may not expect it. Lasts for years, decades even, and at times feels as fresh as when we first experienced the loss.

There could be many reasons for that.  One being that loss doesn’t fully leave us; that it creates an imprint on us and we carry that with us for the rest of our days.  It could be that we process loss years later, then at the time of experiencing it, so that refreshes the pain and sorrow within us.  It could be that we are longing to wrap our arms around that being, just one more time, in order to feel connected and whole. 

However, a dear friend of mine, whose sister died just yesterday, posted this brilliant quote about grief from writer Jamie Anderson: 

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, in the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”


So, if that is grief, love in action, reminding us of itself, then so be it.  
I am loving the persistence of Grief. 

Bourbon.

During the pandemic, I discovered in myself a curiosity and a love of  bourbon. For some of you, that might not seem like any big deal.  For me, I have spent much of my adult life deciding if I was an alcoholic or not. So, for me, bourbon is not just a decision about taste. It is a decision about, what is it for?

I have enjoyed drinking alcohol, in various forms and amounts, for the last forty years of my life, to be honest. Since I was a teenager, even a drinking age was not enough to keep me from trying out beers, shots, and various types of alcohol. Most recently in my life, wine has been the favorite.  

I was completely sober for two years and made an identity around that, too.

So, the decision for bourbon wasn’t about my dabbling with addiction, or trying to cope with a pandemic. Or even peer pressure.  It was plain, and simple, curiosity.

Curious, mostly, about what it would be like to have a curious relationship with spirits, without it being loaded with too much vs. not enough; or any other historic story that I had built in my life around alcohol.

The truth is, I am growing up. Not is years, which is unstoppable. But growing up in my awareness of what my life really means. Why it is that I do what I do.  Or, don’t. To have my steps, my choices, my breaths, more present, more conscious. 

So, bourbon is an experiment in presence. In taste. In fun and delight. In being here, and in not checking out.
Sometimes, bourbon is simply, bourbon. 

Shedding Skin.

I gifted myself with some new ink last weekend.  And, as with every other tattoo that I have received, there is a pretty predictable healing process.  The first couple of days it is sensitive to the touch, and then it starts to shed the dead, surface skin. For the next few days, the dead skin will fall away, and the new skin will be exposed and vulnerable. 
This morning I was thinking about the relevance of shedding skin, in relation to my tattoos, and in relation to Life and how we see it.  How we experience it.  What I relate this to is Surrender, the process of letting go of that which no longer serves us.  This could be a person, a job, a housing situation, or a perception about the world.  It is shedding of the old, and allowance for the new.  
Just like our bodies, we intrinsically know how to shed that which we no longer need, or no longer desire, and to allow the healing to begin. To allow the fresh, new, rejuvinated skin to protect and sustain us.  Sometimes, those shedding moments may not be something we anticipated or asked for.  I find my deepest lessons to be those kind: the ones that I didn’t think that I wanted.
Yet, after we shed the old, allow it to pass away, we are left with the brilliant, new opportunity to see things differently, for colors to look brighter, to lean into the joy of Life. 
The joy of truly living.