What Can’t You Do?

I was thinking today about my great grandmother and the story my mother used to tell about her. In her later years she’d complain “I used to be able to lift my arm to here but now I can only lift it to here.” The funny part was she would lift her arm up over her head to show how far she “used to” be able to lift it, and then she’d lower it to about shoulder level which was as far as she could lift it now. Never mind trying to call her out on it for having just lifted her arm beyond the “now” limit, she’d just show you that she couldn’t lift it above shoulder level any more. Unless, of course, she was showing you how far she used to be able to lift it.

It was always a running joke in our family but today it really got me thinking, how many things are we telling ourselves we “can’t” do just because we believe we can’t? It’s like the story of the sixty-something year old grandma who lifted a car off her grandson when he got pinned under it. I’m sure before that day she’d insist she could never lift a car, but lift it she did! Yes, that’s an extreme case and she was pumped with adrenaline, but still, what are we not doing because we think we can’t?

As I said, this got me thinking. What have I been believing about myself and what I “can’t” do that’s holding me back? Maybe I can hike that volcano in Hawaii. Or maybe I can start that business I’ve always dreamed of. Maybe I really could write a book. Or maybe, just maybe, I could find my willpower and finally get in shape. Once you start thinking about it, the possibilities really are endless!

So the next time I decide I “can’t” do something, I’m going to picture my great grandmother showing us how far she “used to” be able to lift her arm and ask myself, “Who says I can’t?”


Coming Full Circle – Is That the End of the Journey?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of “coming full circle” and how it relates to my life. When I was born I was a pretty big baby, being 4 weeks late that’s not too surprising! However, all throughout my childhood I was skinny. I mean really skinny. I looked like my parents rarely fed me but believe me, I ate all the time! The problem was I was never fit. I was always clumsy and awkward, whereas all my friends were athletic. They all had toned muscles and I didn’t. So when we all sat together in our shorts their thighs didn’t spread out across the chair like mine did.

Being the insecure child I was I looked at that and figured I was just fat and they weren’t. I developed the same distorted perception of my body that drives so many girls to starve themselves or binge & purge. I was fat and that’s all there was to it. But I’ve never done things the “normal” way. Rather than trying to get even thinner, I subconsciously set out to prove to the world just how fat I really was!

Well, fast forward about 30 years and mission accomplished. By my 50th birthday I was more than 50 pounds overweight and had reached the point of “coming full circle.” I started out fat and it looked like I was going to end up fat too. That skinny kid was just a phase I’d outgrown and now I just had to settle into my adult body.

But recently I started wondering if that was really the case? Just because I had completed the circle, did that mean my journey was complete? Did I really have to stop at the point where I’d started? After all, a circle has no real beginning or end, so why do I have to stop at any particular point? Why can’t I keep going until I reach the skinny part again? So I made some changes in my life and am continuing to make changes because I realized that I can decide to keep going and not stop where I started. I can choose my own end point and what that looks like.

A Follow-up Note:

I originally wrote this from the perspective of losing weight & getting healthier, but since then I’ve realized that “coming full circle” is about a lot more than physical health. I don’t know when, or if, I’ll decide I’ve truly come full circle, but I know it won’t be decided by a number on a scale or the size of my jeans. Yes, I’ve lost a bunch of weight and I feel much better, but I’ve also realized my happiness is not determined by any number. In fact, it can’t be measured by any tangible means. I’ve learned to love myself the way I am, just exactly how I look right now, and that’s all that’s important. And by learning to love me just the way I am I’ve found that I can love others more deeply and genuinely. It’s hard to love others unconditionally, but even harder to love ourselves unconditionally. I’m not talking about conceit or vanity, I mean being able to look in the mirror and see the beauty within, not the physical flaws. After all, the body is just packaging. The true self is something that can’t be seen, it can only be perceived through how we live our lives. So take a good look in the mirror, way past the outer packaging, and take a look at the true you within. If you don’t see something beautiful then you’re not seeing what I see.

You are beautiful, you are valuable, and you are worthy of being loved.