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Love Yourself
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athlete spacer I have a t-shirt that I wear that reads I'mperfect across my chest. I love the double entendre. To me, it's saying 'to be imperfect' is to be perfect.

It turns perfection on its head and shakes it out kind of like an old boyfriend used to do with me whenever I got obsessed with how I look.

He would shake me upside down until I got my giggles on every time because he loved me for who I am and wanted to dump any other false notions I might have out of my brain. He was a great teacher for me.

Self-acceptance is not only a loving message in this day and age, it's a smart one. Hating our bodies and obsessing about our looks eats up a significant amount of our energy and attention. This renders our intelligence contracted up in rote, conditioned patterns of behavior that not only cause us to suffer, but inhibit and impede us from blooming our deeply needed voices into the world. Only when I reconciled the crappy conversation I was having with my body could I open and offer my panache to the world.

It was my Mom, the first great feminist to grace my life (even if she is a control freak :-))who suggested that I become an activist. This was how low and behold at the tender age of 18 I found myself standing up in front of all 500 of the girls in my school beside a kick-ass speaker on women's health issues, Carolyn Bray, telling my story and demystifying popular representations of women in the media.

By age 25 I had been sponsored by TD Canada Trust and Manulife Financial, delivering my own campaign for body and self love to thousands of young women across Canada. Freedom to Blossom I called it. By 26, Royal Bank of Canada jumped aboard.

This outer momentum was none other than a reflection of a deep resolve to unlock the entrenched, embittering patterns of suffering that has girls hurting inside, and hurting one another, and share that freedom with the world.

My search was for truth. I finally broke down and began practicing Zen. That's right. During a period of residential training in a Soto Zen monastery it was 4:30 am mornings for me as I sat on the four-inch-high cushion and stared down a white wall. I remember crying to my teacher as the pain coursed through the muscle beside my collarbone. She smoothly responded by clearly telling me to sit up straight and feel the breath and the body, her eyes twinkling. Somehow, when I left the interview I felt as light as a feather.

Light as a feather. Isn't that what I was really after all along? Turned out that mindfulness practice was the best gift I've ever been given. Why? I got over myself. I wasn't lighter physically. I was heavier than I had ever been. But I had recognized that the only reconciling of the crappy conversation I was having with my body was to see that thoughts and feelings, no matter what they are – and even bodies, no matter how they are – come and go. Meaning is created, ideals invented. In the case of our current socio-economic climate to support the interests of the beauty, dieting, and cosmetic surgery industry. Our only constant amidst the insanity is the awareness in which it all arises. 

What I learned:  the pursuit of being any different than how nature would have me was a colossal waste of energy.  It didn't work.  It made me miserable.  It shrank my passion and my world. My vision is to offer other girls and women a skill set that enables them to shirk off all that crazy pressure and recognize the beauty of reality: their bodies as they are.  We can have way more fun here if we do!

Which brings me back to the vision that has me typing my little heart out. I know you're out there. I know you're scared. And I promise this is gonna be FUN! In my book you will be given options for dealing directly with the cold prickly feelings that can come over us. This is much healthier than using food – or the lack of it – to cope. Let this book be a touchstone for checking in with yourself emotionally and for feeding difficult emotions with the emotional medicine they need which is usually attention, loving-kindness, and creative expression. We are surrounded by a socio-cultural milieu whose agenda is to promise us that freedom can be purchased in a product and discovered in a smaller dress size.  Seductive and compelling though this may be, it is a leap away from the truth: Freedom is what we already are, inherently, brilliantly, before the conditioning, no touch-ups needed. Shine on.

My Ingredients for our Recipe for Embracing Your Body and Your Life:

  1. Let yourself be seen. Trust yourself. Your path is unique.

  2. Have more fun. Take your thoughts and feelings less seriously. There are no rules.

  3. Pay more attention to the quality of what you put into your body than you do clothes you put on your body. Notice how you respond emotionally in the 24 hours after eating. In order to trust your gut, you've got to learn how to take care of it.

  4. Remember always: I Am Lovable and Capable (Thanks Dad!). The word 'heart' is derived from the Latin root 'coeur' meaning courage. Be vulnerable and bold.

  5. Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha. They're pre-digested and full of enzymes. Half of what you consume needs to be raw to be able to digest the rest.

  6. Know that what's best for your body is probably different than anyone else.

  7. Get your groove on.

  8. Meditate.

  9. Practice gratitude. Give your energy to life-affirming thoughts. Become your own best friend.

  10. Feel your breath. It could be your last. My mentor whom I mentioned earlier drowned tragically last year. Anything can happen. Start with now. This one's for you, Carolyn.

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