Friday, September 27, 2013

Dear Vanity

Dear Vanity,

Oh goodness, you are a confusing one. I never thought of myself as a vain person, but anyone who knows me, would probably give a polite balk. I like most people enjoy a good selfie, and can appreciate a good "look at me" moment.  But I'm pretty sure I have been doing those things out of trying to prove myself to others and looking to others to validate what I couldn't validate for myself.

I actually think having a certain element of vanity is important, and believe there is a fine line between self respect/love + willingness to take care of oneself and trying to prove yourself.  However, I have learned that like your bestie the "ego," you are often times driven by fear. And if there is one awareness touch point on this entire journey thus far, it's that fear is just another form of love, or rather unwillingness to let love in.  And when it comes to my healing journey, love + gratitude are the guides. With that in mind, I am learning to love and embrace all aspects of myself and that includes the ego as a driver to bring me to my personal edges and provide those moments to choose fear or love - simply.

From day 1 of this journey, I have wanted to understand cellularly what is happening in my body. What does the disease look like? How does it want to grow? What is the chemo doing?  As a result I am able to understand things at a much more visceral level and it has been a great gift.  It has flipped my intention around doing most things in my life from what I think I "should" be doing to what will provide the most support, nourishment, and love to my body, mind and spirit. And so as we navigate our new relationship with this awareness, I wanted to thank you for some of the gifts and lessons you have taught me along the way.

Working out/Exercise: When I was a pilates teacher, I was surrounded by mirrors all day and with clients that primarily concerned and complaining about their bodies. It was a breeding ground for self criticism. While I always was very disciplined in my workouts, I think I was doing it out of  fear of gaining weight or just something I was supposed to do.
BUT NOW, I GET IT: It's about providing movement in my body so my cells get oxygenation, so my muscles can get strong and in turn provide a welcome environment for the chemo to move through, do it's job and get on its way.  I do it because it makes me feel strong and appreciate how my body is working with me and from a place of love. And when someone compliments me on how I look, I simply say THANK YOU and try to take pause and receive it (well, I'm trying to at least:-)

Nutrition and Nourishment: Similar to working out, I was always a disciplined eater, again, primarily driven out of a fear of either gaining weight, following the latest fads or doing just what I was supposed to do.
BUT NOW, I GET IT: I understand nourishment on an entirely visceral level. I notice the difference when I'm eating the things that I know nourish my cells so they can do their job and have  learned to appreciate the food that wants to enter my body.  Ironically, it's not just about eating the healthy foods which I do enjoy, but savoring the cravings of the comfort food and sweets for they are coming from a nurturing place for me. The nausea and now losing my taste buds has been one of the greatest challenges for me thus far, so when there are periods of time when it seems impossible to ingest, I find a greater appreciation for doing what I can to eat because I understand how important my body needs the nourishment. And on the upside when I'm not nauseous, I can enjoy food on an entirely new level. 
Hydration: To be honest, I never even thought about hydration as something to do. I just naturally drank alot of water. But when water took on an indescribable taste after my first chemo session, I realized that I had taken water for granted.
BUT NOW, I GET IT: Water is they key to flushing the system.  Due to the challenge of the taste factor I have tried every possible iteration of water. Water at room temperature no ice in a glass. Sparkling water with ice no glass. Ice cold water no ice in water bottle. Only ice in a glass. No ice in a water bottle.  I am still constantly exploring and the only thing I have found that helps is drinking from a straw.  And I'm committed to getting the stuff down. And let me just say, YOWZA my skin looks good. Another huge gift has been that of moisturizing. The artistry of nourishing my skin has become such a sweet nightly ritual for me as I my skin is simply craving the attention to stay hydrated, soft and smooth after being put through the ringer with treatment. 
Embracing my inner fashionista: Before the "Big C," I think I always knew I had an appreciation for fashion and girly things like makeup and shopping, but I was maybe a little ashamed of it for I think I feared it made me superficial or maybe I just wasn't confident in my own sense of personal style.
BUT NOW, I GET IT: Whereas I think many people use this journey to feel comfortable in the stripped down moments which you are simply forced to do, I have also embraced that putting on make up, following trends, and even shopping is a real creative expression of beauty that I have never let shine. I mean, who knew the gift I had with scarves:-) I have great role models in this space who I think I fully never appreciated, and see this as a new way to spend time appreciating myself. I too have discovered a deep and profound love for myself in the stripped down moments - because at the end of the day, I'm pretty sure for me that is my greatest hurdle. Seeing that light shine in both the beautified moments and the stripped down ones - literally. Looking in the mirror and loving myself as my few eyebrows and eyelashes struggle to claim their space as well as finding the joy and artistry of being able to use just a little bit of eye pencil/shadow to simply work wonders.
So vanity - I look forward to building our new relationship from one of fear to one of love. Doing things together because it brings us joy, nourishment and creativity. You most recently taught me this lesson when I attended an event in LA - surrounded by fashion mavens of which I would need to present and speak in front of. I was feeling conflicted because in many ways I feel more beautiful on the inside now than I ever have before, but I also wanted to feel fashion forward and to simply feel like my bald head and thinning eyebrows and eyelashes wouldn't be a factor.  So on the great advice of so many friends, I invested to have my makeup done - and what a difference it made. Who knew just a few additional eyelashes and some great foundation could enhance my inner shine even more.  And most importantly make me feel beautiful, confident and radiant.

I trust this is the beginning of a new and profoundly joyful relationship as I will continue to share the "look at me" moments not for anyone else, but for the pride and love I feel in taking care of myself and wanting to share this with other people I love .

As always, with love and gratitude ~ Paige