Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Inspiration Celebration: hello old friend ...

My body has not always been my friend. Or more accurately, I have not been the best of friends to my body.

As a child I had pretty rotten eating habits. I was a picky eater and dinner was often a bowl of cold cereal. Sugar cereal that is. I ate from one of four food groups: carbs, fats, fruits and sugar. And while I rode my bike and ran around the neighborhood, exercise was a foreign concept.

In high school I developed an eating disorder. I did start eating healthier foods - I discovered vegetables, chose salads over carbs, cut out sugar - I just didn't allow myself enough food. I also became a runner and fitness nut.

While I believed I was finally tending to my body, I was really atoning for the crime of having a body. It wasn't something to befriend as much as something to control, tame or subdue.

When I was in graduate school I had an accident and I broke my neck. I had to spend three months in a halo brace and then months in various cervical collars. While I recognized this "accident" was a call for me to stop living mindlessly - to really wake up to what I wanted to be doing with my life - at some level I believed my body had betrayed me.

Soon afterward this upheaval (I dropped out of school one semester before my qualifying exams, moving to our present location for a new job) I discovered yoga. I began a dedicated practice in which I began to heal my relationship with my body. Or so I thought.

While I tended to my body's needs, cultivating deep listening to its wisdom, I believed I was entering into a new relationship defined by respect and trust. Then my body disappointed me yet again.

The dark secret of miscarriage is the shame one assumes; my body's inability to do what it seeming was designed to do left me feeling deficient or defective and angry with its lack of cooperation.

All these stories came tumbling out of me this past weekend as I worked on my art journal spread for Earth, the first topic covered in The Elements of Art Journaling course with Effy Wild. The prompt was to consider the associations I had with the word earth and from there to look at what words or ideas expressed my experience or sense of my body. The phrase I was to consider being "My body is ..."

phase one of my journal spread ... lots of layers, paint and potato stamp

I actually cheated. While I had lots of images/thoughts about earth, I didn't think too much about my body and its connection to earth. As my page evolved it came time to take a photograph of myself to use in the spread. I had just taught my Sunday morning yoga class, so I naturally assumed a favorite pose.

After 17 years of practice, my poses have changed significantly. My body has changed and my relationship with it has softened. Where once I had been strict and disciplined, I am now more gentle and accepting. I am not interested in pushing my body as much as listening to it. As I photographed myself in Warrior I pose it struck me, my body is a map of my journey. It is my compass guiding and directing me. It has never let me down; rather, I was not listening to the wisdom it was trying to impart: open, relax, soften, trust, find contentment within this skin, within this moment, this life.

My Body is the compass for my journey ... it is my guide, my teacher, my friend ... it connects me to all Life

My body has been my best friend on this journey, putting up with a lot of my crap and abuse and still she serves me with patience and tolerance. My body is my friend; she connects me to earth, to life, to my animal nature and is the portal to deeper truths and a wisdom accessible only through living through loss and gain, pleasure and pain, birth, death and rebirth.


  1. So full of beauty and insight. I am having a very proud moment right now. <3

  2. My body is a map of my so deeply lovely, Lis. I miss you but so love continuing to see your creative wisdom.

  3. This was such an amazing post. I also have to say thank you.
    So many quotable phrases I wont begin to list them.
    Much love and gratitude for this.

  4. lis lis lis... so much beauty here. so much love. so much goodness.
    your photos are delicious. your writing stunning. your insights? divine.
    thank you for sharing so much of you today.

  5. SO EFFIN LOVELY - You are one hell of a woman Lis

  6. Thank you so very much for sharing this important part of your path!

  7. Dear sweet Lis-I have been drooling over your Italy absolutely fantastic! Wine and art and pizza making and painting. It looks over the top dreamy!
    I love this post as is very heartfelt. I was shocked to learn that you broke your neck!!! a wake up call from the universe indeed. I think so many of us have such complicated relationships with our bodies.
    Loving this art journaling class tempted to take it...if only I didn't need sleep!
    I also want to thank you for the most delish card I received...officially a Joy Warrior now:) will send you an e-mail re. the matter you talked about. xxx

  8. *sigh*
    Beautiful, Lis....beautiful <3

  9. i love this.

    that's all.

    hope it's enough. i think it will be.


  10. This post really got me... love it :) xx

  11. i think you have described a relationship many women have with their bodies. and a relationship it is: we let each other down, we make up, we love each other again, we grow and learn.

  12. Thank you for sharing this, it's very much a place I can relate to

  13. Liz, what a beautiful post! Heartfelt and poetic, both in images and words. Be well my dear!

  14. Your insights really hit home for me.
    Thank you for sharing them, but most of all thank you for the 'wake up call' I so needed.
    I have recently given up my yoga. I don't understand why, as the practice was great for me. I have fibromyalgia & with yoga I had peace.
    I have had an incredibly difficult last 2 years. The but is, I thought I was fine, dealt with things as they came along etc. I didn't.
    And the Elements class, especially the Earth 'challenge' has been very difficult for me because I believe in 'grounding' using Mother Earth for my source. I am doing my best to work thru The Elements. I love the class, just not the feelings sometimes. So thank you for your beautiful post !!!!!

  15. Lis, I'm not sure how to respond, except to say "thank you" - for laying yourself so bare, for allowing us the honor of witnessing; the process of your own journey. I wonder if sometimes Wisdom doesn't just have to marinate with us for a bit before we can really understand it♥stuff I need to think on♥Thank you

  16. So powerful & lovely.Though it seems our bodies betray us,they are in fact, I believe, the key to the Mystery.What takes us down the perfect path even if does not seem so at the time.Thank you for sharing with us a glimpse of your path -the words & the way to channel art into healing!!

  17. Lovely Lis,
    I love your honesty
    I love your strength.
    I love that you are always on a journey
    And that you reach out in every post.

    Sending you a great big hug, Milena xxx