Step Six - deeply personal me . . .

When all is said and done, make-a-(green) plan is all about me. Last week I heard a researcher speaking about self-esteem. According to him, the best indicator of self-esteem is not one’s attitude or belief. It is how one treats oneself. Well, for some time – most of this year – I was seemingly in an all out attack on myself. At the most basic level I simply stopped. I stopped moving and lived from my brain, my mind. I've sat at my computer all day every day. In the last 3 months I started abusing myself with junk food. I haven’t done this for five years (except for a couple months living with my son during construction). I know how to eat well for energy and how to build my strength. I also know how to begin each day with a cardio vascular walk in nature. This year is about that very self esteem that turns away from this period of habits that stymie me.

My birthday was a week ago and this is the real present I give myself. This is Act III in my life. At 60 I should be ready to stop fucking around and be able to live what matters. And, I have had the exhilarating experience of giving up smoking 5 years ago – something that I never thought I could do. I smoked for 39 years and I was rabid about smoking. That same year I also took on a barter project where I sewed curtains for my friends’ whole house. In exchange the husband gave me free personal coaching for 9 months at his club. I grew strong and felt so energized. He also helped me by introducing me to a way of feeding myself that stimulated my hormones. I had visions of becoming svelte and that didn’t happen. What did happen was I got healthy, strong and energized. I have resilience still to sickness and disease. I learned how to live without needing to have to drink beer every night. All of these things empowered me and showed me that I could indeed change patterns.

Why did I drift? I think it was a pile up of too many negatives and not enough to reinforce the positive. For one thing, I found that in the last few years I kept expecting to be thin. But, this year I have discovered through FA (fat acceptance) writers, in particular Kate Harding of Shapely Prose who writes about the Fantasy of Being Thin and at Shakesville she writes that I can be really healthy and still be fat. I am now an older woman with the iconoclastic body of a female goddess, ahem. The thick waist, thighs and breasts may be here to stay. Oh well.

Overcoming The Fantasy of Being Thin might be the hardest part of making it all the way into fat acceptance-land. And that might just be why I’d pushed that part of the process out of my memory: it fucking sucked. Because I didn’t just have to accept the size of my thighs; I had to accept who I am, rather than continuing to wait until I magically became the person I’d always imagined being. Ouch.

That is, of course, a pretty normal part of getting older. You start to realize that yeah, this actually is it, and although you can still try enough new things to keep anyone busy for two lifetimes, you’re pretty much stuck with a basic context. There are skills, experiences, and material things you will almost certainly never have, period. It’s a challenge for all of us to understand that accepting this fact of life does not necessarily mean cutting off options or giving up dreams, but simply — as in the proverbial story about the creation of the David — chipping away all that is not you. But for a fat person, it can be even harder, because so many fucking sources encourage us to believe that inside every one of us is “a thin person waiting to get out” — and that thin person is SO MUCH COOLER.

Another aspect of this deeply personal step will be to experience acceptance. In this judgmental society I not only practice disapproving scripts about others and myself, I am guilty of approving language. This is very subtle. Approval casts judgment, whereas acceptance doesn’t. Yes, indeedy, there is so much to do. Teaspoon at a time – baby steps – or one day at time. Pick a cliché that says it best.