Summertime is an excellent opportunity to grab a book and enjoy some reading. I often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life and forget how much I enjoy a good book. It’s very calming for me to find a shade tree in our backyard or sit on our patio for even 20 minutes and enjoy the calming effects of reading for enjoyment.
This summer, I chose the book, Beautiful Hope. It’s a collaboration between Pope Francis, Archbishop Jose’ Gomez, Matthew Kelly and several others. I enjoyed many of the short stories shared in this book, but the one that really resonated with me was from Paul Hess, a retired farmer, and a veteran of WWII. He had 7 children, many grandchildren and was married to his wife for seventy years. Let me share some of what he wrote:
“I have the hands of a Midwestern farm boy. They are weathered and course, tired and bruised. They look every bit of the ninety-three years of life I’ve lived.
I have the hands of a husband. They have fixed cars and changed lightbulbs. They have stained the fence and changed the oil. They have held the hand of my bride for seventy years.
I have the hands of a father. They have dried tears, played catch, wrapped presents and tickled toes. They have fed each child with love.
I have the hands of a son. They shook my father’s hand as I left for WWII and held my mother tight when I returned home.”
I couldn’t help but think of my own life, my own changing body. I am 49 years old and am proud of it!!! But, along with age comes changes. Menopause is now a part of my life and it’s thrown me for a bit of a loop. The scale isn’t as low as it recently was, recovery from exercise takes a little longer and making healthy food choices is becoming increasingly more important. I know that these changes are part of my life’s journey so I’ve learned to embrace them. They weren’t easy to accept at first, but I’ve come around with self-care and inward thinking.
So, when I notice my fuller thighs and wish they were smaller, I remember that I earned these strong legs from many years of challenging workouts. My legs have allowed me to run a full marathon, bike ride with my kids to the ice cream shop and walk up and down the stairs to do laundry for my family. I embrace my body!
When I look in the mirror and see the lines on my face getting deeper, I know that I earned every single line. I have laughed more than I deserve, enjoyed afternoons in the sun with my kids and smiled at my husband every morning as he leaves for work and every evening when he comes home. I am thankful for each and every one of those moments.
My invitation to you is:
- Accept your changing body as a gift
- Treat yourself well with self-care, including daily exercise and nutritious foods
- Take time for yourself to enjoy what you love
- Be kind to yourself with positive self-talk and awareness that you are not expected to be perfect
- Enjoy your journey by being kind to your body and embracing it’s changes
When I look at my belly and think it’s not as flat as I want, I remember that this belly carried my 2 children. It’s where they grew inside me, and that is a true miracle. Having a belly as flat as my teenage self is not realistic nor as important to me as I once thought. I’m a Mom...a healthy Mom!
- Nikki Kennedy