Especially to myself. I'm working on it. The following are some ways I have tried, this last week, to be kinder to myself.
1.) I'm putting on real clothes everyday - at least for part of the day. I might conclude the day in my yoga pants or sweats but I am putting on real clothes, as a way to greet the morning. This is a small gesture that forces me to take time to pick something out that matches, fits and doesn't resemble something a homeless person would wear.
2.) I bought new perfume. Since I started wearing it, Lucy keeps asking to smell my arm. After taking in big whiff of my wrist she said, "ah, you smell so good!" Well, at least it is toddler approved. I've always really liked the idea of having a signature scent. My mom did, and to this day whenever I smell FENDI, it reminds me of her.
3.) I started seeing a therapist. We'll call her Melissa, because her name is Melissa, except I don't think I'm suppose to know that, I really only know it from her website. When I met her for the first time she didn't bother with introductions. I did, of course, I'm a good Midwestern girl! I entered her room with confidently pulled back shoulders, a warm smile and gave her a firm handshake stating, "Hi! I'm Danielle, so nice to meet you." She saw right through it. I was reduced to a snotting, blubbering, sad girl mess 15 minutes into our first visit. It was a very good fit. I trust her, I feel safe in her office and amidst my tears and sorrow I felt a very palpable glimmer of hope before I walked out the door.
4.) I went to a Hot Yoga class. This is the only exercise I do that makes me feel like I am rewarding my body instead of punishing it. It feels indulgent. It feels special and cleansing and good. Hot yoga, Bikram, is exactly what it sounds like, yoga in a hot room, usually somewhere between 101-105 degrees. I am pretty much drenched in sweat 10 seconds after entering the room, I can literally wring my clothes out after class. Kinda gross, kinda awesome. Anyway, the room is large and hot and there are mirrors in the front and on the side (like most exercise studios) and I always try to get a spot upfront as close to the mirror as I can. This is not like 11th grade history class. I'm not doing this to impress the teacher. I do it for myself. The most rewarding and intense, even more intense than the heat, part of class is that for the first 50 minutes of the 90 minute class I am in constant eye contact with myself in the mirror. I'm sure this is by design. And it some brilliant design because think about it... when is the last time you stared at yourself in the mirror for 50 minutes? Uh, probably never. I know I don't. I'm lucky to get 50 seconds in the mirror in the morning to apply some mascara! And whenever else I look at the mirror I'm definitely not looking at my eyes - thick arms, flabby belly, chipped toenail polish. Sorry, there goes the jerk again. The point is, whenever in my day-to-day life I do have a chance to glance in a mirror I'm never thinking anything good. It is different at hot yoga. I'm staring into my eyes, which I've always named as my best feature. But it is very hard to be mean to your body, even in thought, when you are staring directly into your own eyes. Very, very intense.
Every yoga class I've ever been to, hot or not, ends the same way - with hands in prayer, a slight bow and the word Namaste. I didn't know what that meant for a long time. I had an instructor that explained it very well to me once. She said that the gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each one of us. The gesture is an acknowledgement of the most divine in one soul by another. The highest being in me, salutes the highest being in you. Don't you just love that?
So anyway, I'm working on silencing the jerk and recognizing the divine.
A dear friend shared this video with the hubby and I. It made me cry, it reminded me of the power of yoga and self kindness and faith. I hope you love it.