Today as I reflect upon my quote for Writer’s Quote Wednesday, I am reminded of all of the wonderful ways in which my body has served me over the years, even when I was at war with it and didn’t believe it was good enough.
While I never had the kind of talent my niece displays in this photo, I am so thankful for this body of mine. As I grow older and my body continues to change, I will treat my instrument with kindness and love, appreciating all that it has done for me.
“I’m trying really hard to take the veil off the fraud,
to be real, to start with me.”
— Jamie Lee Curtis
Here is an example of Jamie’s pictrue* next to another picture of her that was touched up.
*Pictrue– A word I invented to describe a picture that hasn’t been airbrushed, photoshopped, or altered to create the illusion of perfection.
Thank you Jamie Lee Curtis for being brave enough to show your real self on the cover of More magazine in 2002. It seems like we should have learned something from all this by now, but instead people are using the many digital tools available to perpetuate even more myths of perfection.
Here is a short video clip I found on Youtube that shows what four women thought of pictures of themselves after they were touched up to look like models.
I often wonder why more progress hasn’t been made in developing effective treatments and finding cures for illnesses that fall into the mental health category. For too many years these illnesses have been marginalized and treated more like character flaws than actual health conditions.
I did a web search today to learn about studies that are currently being conducted and found a rather large listing. ClinicalTrials.gov is “a web-based resource that provides patients, their family members, health care professionals, researchers, and the public with easy access to information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies on a wide range of diseases and conditions”.
As a researcher and mental health advocate, I think it is so important to become involved whenever possible and to assert one’s voice in order to accelerate the progress of finding cures and treatments for these illnesses.
“You with the sad eyes, don’t be discouraged Oh, I realize it’s hard to take courage In a world full of people, you can lose sight of it all And the darkness inside you can make you feel so small But I see your true colors shining through I see your true colors, and that’s why I love you So don’t be afraid to let them show – your true colors True colors are beautiful like a rainbow”
During any given day in the United States, we can be exposed to dozens of images of the ideal body type, along with a multitude of dieting ads. Most of the images are airbrushed and digitally enhanced, creating a conflicted perceptions of reality.
I like this video which illustrates the impact this disconnect can have on even the most well-rounded, self-assured person. It has become much harder to find reinforcement not to buy into these myths of perfection, but we must persist in resisting this urge.
Today is a great day to write. It is cold and there is still a lot of snow on the ground. I have gone back to keeping a journal after taking a bit of a break. I usually stop right when I need it the most. It is amazing how much I discover about myself when I maintain a regular practice of journaling. It is hard not to notice what is going on when it is right in front of me in black and white.
Here are some of the benefits I’ve experienced from keeping a journal:
Keeping a journal provides a safe place to deposit some of the blather that goes on in my brain, without censorship.
It helps me to let go of some of my worries so I don’t carry them around during the day.
As the anxiety accumulates again throughout the day, it is nice to know I have a healthy, enjoyable outlet for expressing my stressful thoughts.
Writing in a journal helps keep me from saying hurtful things I may later regret when I am feeling angry or upset.
It helps me to discern when it is important to have a difficult conversation with someone and to figure out the best approach.
Keeping a journal helped me get through tough times:
As a young girl, I wrote in a diary as a way to cope with the impact my mom’s mental illness had on my life. Sometimes I shared some of my journal entries with a close friend, when it was too hard to verbally express what was going on and I needed support.
Keeping a Grief Journal for the first year after my brother died helped me to work through the pain I was experiencing. There are a lot of things I wouldn’t remember about that time if I hadn’t written about it. Every now and then I like to go back and read what I wrote, and I can see clearly my progression through the stages of grief to acceptance, and back to the realization that this journey is never complete. *If you want to start a Grief Journal, I recommend visiting Hellogrief.org. They have some great suggestions for keeping a grief journal for the non-writer.
Here are a couple of tips about keeping a journal:
I used to buy pretty journals that I would keep in a safe hiding place. Now I enjoy typing instead, using various methods to maintain my privacy so that nobody ever has to be subjected to my darkest rants.
A few years ago I discovered morning pages, as suggested by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. I love that book! It has some great ideas for tapping into one’s creativity and daily journaling is part of the process. I don’t always adhere to the morning part of it, which she strongly advocates, but I do make an effort to at least get something down on paper on a regular basis.
One thing I learned in my recovery process is that I cannot diet. As tempting as it may be as I get older, I know that I risk slipping back into my old mentality and obsessive compulsive patterns. I eat well most days, and some days I don’t. That is all I can do. My recovery was based on spiritual principles that taught me to focus on all of the dimensions of my life not just my physical being.
Sometimes I get really annoyed that people talk so much about dieting, as if it is some kind of righteously ordained activity that makes one a better person. I understand that improving one’s diet can be a life-altering improvement for people that struggle with obesity, but there are far too many people that are merely unhappy with their body type who end up in a pattern of dieting that does more harm than good.