• Embracing Reality Means Embracing Myself and My Body


    Welcome to the Body: AMAZING Carnival!

    This post was written as a part of the Body: AMAZING Carnival co-hosted by Jennifer of True Confessions of a Real Mommy and Amy of Anktangle. Carnival participants were invited to write about how we learn to appreciate the ways our bodies grow and change. Our posts explain some incredible ways our bodies impress and amaze us.

    Please read to the bottom to find a list of submissions from all of today’s carnival participants.


    I used to be Pagan. My Paganism was rooted in the realities of the earth and the body. It was messy and practical and real. It was many things that I still am today, just wrapped up in the language of religion which I no longer prefer to use. Today I call myself an atheist, which is also rooted in the realities of the earth and the body and rests on an uneasy truce with the language of science.

    This post isn’t about religion, though, or science. It’s about body acceptance. I first began to become comfortable with my body because I was Pagan, and it’s one of the things I’m grateful to Paganism for.

    As a Pagan, I sought to accept what is, whether good or bad. Cycles and rhythms and flow. For example, there’s a reason it rains. Whether or not you “enjoy” a rainy day, the rain comes because it does, because it’s necessary, and it belongs in the cycle. Therefore it makes the most sense to embrace (if not enjoy) the coming of the rain. It’s only pain and wasted effort to rail against the stormy skies wishing it were otherwise. This embrace of the rain and sun (and life and death) defined my Paganism.

    I came to notice that for me and many of my female friends, we were generally happy, confident people, but when we would see a picture of ourselves we’d express disgust, displeasure, and denial of the image. This seemed out of line with my desire to embrace reality. I like myself. My image is myself. Therefore I must like my image, in the same way that I like the rain.

    Sure, sometimes a photograph catches us at a particularly awkward moment that doesn’t really capture us. But if I’m just standing there smiling at the camera, that’s me. That’s what I look like.

    To know myself is to know that image. To like myself is to like that image.

    There were many other steps to my body acceptance through the years, but simply accepting the reality in the photograph was the crucial first step. It rains. Seasons pass. I breathe and eat and sleep. The wheel of life and death turns.

    And I look like I do. I have the body I have.

    I haven’t called myself a Pagan for about 7 years, but this is a takeaway message that I continue to treasure.

    “There is really nothing you must be.  And there is nothing you must do.  There is really nothing you must have.  And there is nothing you must know.  There is really nothing you must become.  However it helps to understand that fire burns, and when it rains the earth gets wet…”
    -Robert Fulghum


    More to read and love about honoring our bodies at these other blogs. Please visit them all and leave some comment love!

    Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy is moved to trust her body, even the fuzzy parts. You can also find Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter.

    Amy of Anktangle writes about living with chronic pain and how she appreciates the ways her body functions in spite of its challenges. You can also find Amy on Facebook and Twitter.

    Mari from Honey on the Bum talks a little bit about how her body has changed and how she loves it and what it does for her. You can also find Mari on Twitter.

    Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about why she’s not worried about how her body looks, because it has a much more important job right now.

    Joella from Fine and Fair discusses her love and respect for her body as it grows and changes during pregnancy over. Hear more from Joella on Twitter and Facebook.

    Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow on how Paganism taught her to accept reality and by extension herself and her body. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

    Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work shares about her love/hate relationship with a nose that she saw as ugly . . . until she started to learn to love it. Amy W. can also be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

    Destany at They Are All of Me writes about releasing the negative notions she was taught about her period, and embracing it instead.

    Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children talks about how she had to push through her pre-conditioned comfort level and found herself in a position to naturally be open and honest with her children. More great stuff from Mandy on Facebook.

    Lauren at Hobo Mama is not a runner . . . but she proved herself wrong by completing a race. Keep up with Lauren’s adventures on Twitter and Facebook.

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18 Responsesso far.

  1. Destany says:

    What a lovely sentiment. And I fully understand the what you mean about paganism bringing about self-acceptance. For me this is also true, only with many more feminist aspects involved. This quote is amazing:

    “There’s a reason it rains. Whether or not you “enjoy” a rainy day, the rain comes because it does, because it’s necessary, and it belongs in the cycle. Therefore it makes the most sense to embrace (if not enjoy) the coming of the rain. It’s only pain and wasted effort to rail against the stormy skies wishing it were otherwise.”

    I’m going to take that with me. It made me feel so peaceful to read it and I’m sure that it will again, thank you so much!

  2. [...] Waters at LoveLiveGrow on how Paganism taught her to accept reality and by extension herself and her body. Find her on [...]

  3. [...] Waters at LoveLiveGrow on how Paganism taught her to accept reality and by extension herself and her body. Find her on [...]

  4. I love your analogy to the rain. As a rain-lover myself, I’m often surprised when others don’t appreciate this miraculous and necessary function of nature. The body, too, is amazing in its complexity and functionality, and I agree that it deserves the same respect and honor as all the other amazing things in this world. Thank you so much for writing this piece!

    • Joshua says:

      I really dislike being out in the rain most of the time, but it always mystifies me when people make small talk about when the rain will end and the sun will return. Go ask the folks in Texas how they feel about rain! Every time it rains in the spring, my garden gets a drink, and so does everything else. Nothing wrong with that.

    • Issa says:

      I used to love being in the rain all the time. As I’ve gotten older and grumpier, I like to stay dry, but I just can’t get around to actually disliking the rain. The sounds, the smells, and the sight of it all amaze me. My bedroom is at the top of my house in a loft, and I lovelovelove sleeping in a rainstorm with the sounds of it beating against my ceiling.

  5. Shannon says:

    I came to a similar realization a few years ago, and I’ve been trying (not so gently) to convince a few friends who insist on total control over which photos are taken (or kept) of them of this. But it’s not really something I can force someone else to be comfortable with, I can only work on being comfortable with my own shit.

    • Issa says:

      Oh, definitely! I can only take care of my own stuff, and as a blogger I talk about my own stuff, but everyone’s got to come at life from their own direction. I think your word “control” is a key component of the picture issue. We desire to control the images of us, and we desire to control our own bodies. Control is sometimes a futile effort, though, and freedom or peace would be more comfortable.

  6. This seems really profound and yet simple to me — I love it. I never thought of it in those terms and will now, but for the past several years I’ve had similar thoughts that, for better or worse, this is my body. It’s not going away; it’s not changing into someone else’s body. So why the heck not love it as it is?

    Honestly, seeing my children and the strong influence of genetics has helped a lot in that regard. Seeing my older son’s body be an exact, smaller duplicate of his dad’s body — oh, my gosh! Clearly we can’t change what we look like; we just are. So embrace it.

    • Issa says:

      I had similar thoughts about genetics when I saw some of my biological family for the first time in a decade last Thanksgiving. Looking at my mom was such strange familiarity and kind of an out-of-body experience. Looking across the room and seeing my own body – the shape, the size, the postures. So fascinating.

  7. Amy W. says:

    What a great post. It really is so simple and yet so HUGE. We are who we are because we are who we are.

    It’s so important to embrace ourselves and love the way we have been created :) I think it’s interesting to read this from a Pagan perspective, because it’s the same as the teachings of the Christian faith on how we were created in God’s image.

    I actually think about this when I’m exercising. Since it’s been a while since I’ve really been in shape, so I struggle sometimes when I’m pushing myself. But when I think “God, you have made me this way, just as I should be. I thank you for my body and my health, and I’m exercising to up-keep your beautiful creation!”

    :) Great Post!

  8. Jennifer W. says:

    I had this thought just the other day! If we are doing what we can to live a healthy life, why can’t we just be happy with our bodies? Even if we aren’t, isn’t that an acceptance of what is, and then we should also accept ourselves? Maybe I make no sense, but I mean to say that we could all do with a healthy dose of “accept the things I cannot change.”

    • Joshua says:

      As someone who is emphatically NOT, “doing all I can to live a healthy life,” I’d like to point out that that’s not a prerequisite for being happy with my body ;-)

    • Joshua says:

      … upon a second reading, I see that you actually covered that. I didn’t put your comment together in the right way the first time I read it. Sorry about that.

    • Issa says:

      Jennifer, you make complete sense to me, and it IS a really hard idea to put into words. Right now I’m thinking that there are a lot of possible conditions to be in, different ways to go – healthy or not, happy or not – but at the center of it can still sit self-acceptance, no matter what. It’s an interesting idea, anyway. As a person-with-depression, self-acceptance is an elusive and seductive idea.

  9. Julieanne says:

    Great wisdom and great writing. Thanks as always, Issa.

  10. This post really spoke to and identified with me. Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Wow. This was really powerful for me. Because, as much as I like and love myself as person, I too often express disgust at my image in photographs. Thank you for the reminder that liking myself means liking all of me. I love the idea of accepting and embrace the reality in the image. <3

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