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"I bet one legend that keeps recurring throughout history is the story of Popeye."
These days there seems to be an universal preoccupation with our bodies that borders on the chaotic. When we go to the beach we see thin bodies, fat bodies, short bodies and tall bodies. There are bodies with lots of hair and smooth as a baby's butt type bodies. There are bodies that have fat folds and bodies that seem to fold up. Strong bodies, weak bodies, young bodies and old bodies and so much more. We become almost dizzy from the aspects of body legend. We wish we looked like Adonis and Venus, but we look like:Oh no! Can this be true!? We look like ourselves! As we age we see our triceps droop, our buttocks broaden, our thighs dimple with cellulite, our abdomen overhang and our breasts downward pointed. Our body gives in to the gravitational pulls of time. Our bodies get weaker and we lose our balance. We fall. Our dignity is bruised. We feel ashamed. Judging ourselves harshly, we attempt to hide our bodies with clothes and cosmetics. We turn over control of our bodies to Madison Avenue adv ertisers, doctors, dieticians, clothes designers, employers, lovers and a variety of other people to whom we look for body acceptability, desirability and attractability. If our friends, family and mates like us the way we are, we are less likely to turn over control of our body to others. Throughout history all societies have had standards of beauty, but never before have we been inundated so thoroughly with attempts to tell us how we should look. Magazines, films, TV shows billboards and store fronts fail to portray the diversity of body types. Businesses are making money hand over fist trying to tell us that we do not look good enough. We want to look good and we want to be strong and able. When we relinquish control of our bodies, we lose the perspective of the importance of our physical mechanism. It is time to figure out how to dismiss the body legends and take personal control of our own bodies. As one of my favorite old philosophers says, "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam!"
If you catch on fire, try to avoid seeing yourself in the mirror, because I bet that's what really throws you into a panic.
As children we are carefree and unaware that our body has any purpose except to let us run, jump and play. Sometimes we even played with our bodies. Depending what message was sent by the people who came upon us in such a pleasurable pastime, we either accepted or rejected our bodily image. Childhood memories and messages, given about our bodies, shape our perceptions and outlooks. Though rarely done, it is most constructive to be able to talk comfortably and honestly to our children about their bodies. So many children grow up with the idea that their bodies are forbidden, dirty and shameful. As we reach adolescence, in the bloom of our unfledged comeliness, we become acutely aware of our bodily changes. As we explore the mystery of our body, we leave the blissfully ignorant world of childhood innocence and start to feel the inklings of adolescent dissatisfaction. We aren't tall enough. We aren't pretty enough. We're too fat or too thin. We check ourselves out in the mirror every hour on the hour , seeing imperfections in our body contours. Our tits are too small or too big if we're female. Our pecs and shoulders are not broad enough if we're male. That's not to say anything about how well hung our dicks are. We see pimples and minute imperfections. Our youth impels us to panic and make changes as fast as possible. We go on crash diets that never seem to work. We use various forms of creams to hide blemishes, calling, more rather than less, attention to our imperfections. We consider nose jobs, phaloplasty and breast enlargement or reduction. We want lyposuction and face lifts. Our teeth need to be perfect, so we spend lots of money on unnecessary braces. We rush to all out physical activity that often leads to stress and fatigue, rather than strength and health. And we wonder if anyone will love us for ourselves. As our hormones rage with the impatient desire to discover, and our minds pursue the persistent tugs that will rip us away from the present into a, if not brighter, more excitin g future, we long for simplicity.
"Don't ever get your speedometer confused with your clock, like I did once, because the faster you go, the later you think you are."
With maturity comes calm. The seeds of integrated stability and a more settling, straightforward look at life plants itself in our fertile mind. We discover that our bodily perceptions of physical perfection were peculiarities of the mind and could not be judged by appearances. What appeared to be life and death issues are replaced by practical needs. How do we earn a living? How do we feed ourselves? How do we do what we have to do, so that we can get where we want to be? How do we maintain our sense of humor, when we slip on life's banana peels? How do we keep our bodies going long enough to do all the things we have to do and everything we dream of doing?
Maturity accepts gradual change. While suffering from extreme youth, we learned our lessons and paid prices for those base short cuts. In the beginning our body seems full of divine covenant, a promising shooting star on its way to fulfillment. As time goes by the vague anticipation of that promise gets muddied and our body seems to loose the ability to meet the ever-growing demands we make of it. Sometimes it seems to fail just when we need it the most. We begin to mistrust and fear our body and forget that the primary function of our body is not its interference with our mind, but its service to our functional betterment. When we are unhappy with our body, we become ashamed and apologetic. We hinder our incentives in transactions with other people. Career opportunities pass us by. People with the power to hire and fire judge you on appearance. If you come off as lacking confidence and control over your physical self, you may, justly or not, turn off the personnel worker. Projecting that you are w eak and out of control can be detrimental to acquiring employment. Relationships with our mates often become affected as we grow older and our body changes. We are apprehensive about new relationships. Does my new acquaintance really find me sexy and alluring? Maybe he's just some pervert who gets off getting a hand job from a woman with hair on her palms. I mean, I thought of shaving, but my palms really itched last time as the hair grew back. Our companions' acceptance or rejection of us due to our looks can strongly influence the way we see ourselves. We are fearful that we will lose our loved ones if they perceive us as "a mud fence" and we fear we will never be able to attract anyone else. Getting our bodies under control, obtaining a body of which we are personally proud and reflecting our own inner spirit, rather than a stencil of perfection, will lead to a more cogent bodily affinity. Body language can express that we are beautiful, athletic, strong, sensual enthusiastic and exciting, rather than lazy, discontented, bored, unhappy, disgusted, ashamed or weak. Sooner or later,we learn to use our mental facilities to control our bodies and gradually establish a satisfying healthy physical perspective as to how we should look.
"I don't say that the bird is 'good' or the bat is 'bad.' But I will say this:At least the bird is less nude."
I once had a dream about being in a play. I walked out on stage and started to deliver my first lines. I could hear the audience nervously shuffling their feet and I was aware of titters coming out of the dark faceless crowd watching me. Given that I was saying lines from a Greek tragedy, I stopped and looked down at myself, realizing I was naked as a plucked bird. The utter embarrassment and shame I felt carried into my waking moment. If I ever have that dream again, I hope that I will face my audience with confidence, assurance and pride in my naked body and flip them a tit.
When we look at magazines movies and TV and try to envision ourselves as a good or bad screen image, we do ourselves a disservice. Though we have similarities with many of the media pictures, our own bodies will be unique since no two people are exactly alike. Whatever our body may or may not be, we do not want to anxiously watch over it. We want to set goals that do not exceed our bodies' capacities. Simple considerations, allowing our body to function peacefully, comfortably and smoothly is a valid pursuit Living in an environment that nurtures our bodily morale makes it easier to enjoy our physical distinctiveness. A warm affectionate atmosphere, where hugs, kisses and cuddles abound, encourages us to sanction our bodies as they are. Performing physically and athletically in the early years can engender positive feelings about our bodies. Warm loving relationships and physical activity nurtures confidence and self-esteem. When self-esteem is prevalent a positive body image can prevail.
"The old pool shooter had won many a game in her life. But now it was time to hang up the cue. When she did, all the other cues came crashing to the floor. 'Sorry,' she said with a smile."
As we grow older, our society seems to reject us for our looks. This seems odd, given that with age and experience we have so much more to offer. We believe that our talents and abilities should blind people to our wrinkles, sagging bodies and graying hair. It seems that the society we worked so hard in and gave of our time and intelligence has now betrayed us. The sad thing is this cultural attitude turns around and constricts and defeats the very society that promoted these ageist theories. We search for remedies for what seems to be physical inadequacies. Some of us choose the cosmetic route to remedy these imposed inadequacies of our society. Some of us find the signs of aging make us more interesting and unique. We replace the desire for the smooth beauty of youth for the longer lasting substance, such as strength, endurance and an alert lively glint in our eyes. There is a certain freedom in casting off the youthful lack of confidence. We are less obligated to be girlish/boyish, perky/jerky se x objects. We are free to be honest, outspoken and relaxed. There is a sense of relief in the significance of Popeye's words of wisdom:"I yam what I yam. Toot! Toot!
"If you go through a lot of hammers each month, I don't think it necessarily means you're a hard worker. It may just mean you have a lot to learn about proper hammer maintenance."
Millions of people in this world of ours walk with a limp, use wheelchairs, crutches and walkers. Some of us, especially as we age, have impaired sight, speech abilities and hearing problems. Some of us have lost parts of our bodies due to workplace accidents, wars, domestic or neighborhood violence or disease. Some of us need assistance with simple biological functions and many of us carry the scars of some injurious circumstance. When we lose control of our body, we often choose to hide, avoiding the emotional pain of being stared at, or even worse, being rendered invisible. The solution of hiding one's feelings and giving in to invisible person consciousness makes us very angry. Loving and accepting our bodies is difficult for the average person and is especially hard for the disabled. We can take another direction. We can channel that anger into an I'll show you attitude. We can go for strength, energy and the beauty that comes from self-confidence. We can seek out and nurture what's best in our selves. We can all make changes and maintain bodily control to the best of our abilities. Whether we have health problems or not, we can maintain the energy and vitality that will allow us to happily function with our associates. Hammering ourselves on the head for fuck-ups of the past, instead of letting go of regret and sense of disappointment, can give us a throbbing headache. Although we place a great deal of importance on our mistakes, flagellating and hammering ourselves into better people, the truth is that mistakes are not important in and of themselves. What is important is we learn from our mistakes,change and even start over if we must. If we dwell on our weakness, we cannot gain strength.
"The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw."
The world calls to us in unrelenting tones. It holds up an image of what we should be. This calling often leaves us with feelings of loneliness and separation. Blaming oneself is inefficient and counterproductive. Understanding what has to be done and ridding ourselves of unnecessary baggage is a good first step to helping ourselves control our body. Regular physical activity and exercise will improve energy, strength and endurance. I highly recommend strength training programs. Strength training programs can meet the needs of body control for a wide variety of people. Strength training can improve our physical health, be mentally uplifting, empower our ego and enhance our appearance. In truth we gain body control by understanding the fundamental nature of our body- changeableness. Our body cannot be perfected, but it can be changed. Our existent body is the one we must come to agreement with, if we are to make this part of our nature desirable to abide with. However we choose to feel at ease and in control of our bodies, we can remember we are in this world together. We can work together and change present conceptions of the "body beautiful." We can learn more about our bodies through activity and study. We can hang out with people who promote self-approval and passion for all our dissimilarities. By working together and talking to each other, we can take on the trepidation and stereotypes that create discrimination. If we have the desire to do so, we can be the kind of person we want to be. Take others as they are and expect they will take you in the same light. Appearances are not more important than love, compassion, hopes, dreams and cognitive endeavors. When the voice of society is calling to us, "I can't",we simply change the voice in our head to "I will."
To those of us whose lives have been hidden from
society, from those we love, from ourselves, we join
To those of us who have resisted isolation
and stood up to fear, we give heartfelt affirmation.
In honor of those of us who have courageously,
joyfully, burst into the fullness of our identities, we offer gratitude and blessing.
-Molly Fumia-From the book:A Grateful Heart
Thank you again: Deep Thoughts
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