Alicia Ostriker, "A Young Woman, A Tree"
The life spills over, some days.
She cannot be at rest,
Wishes she could explode
Like that red tree—
The one that bursts into fire
All this week.
Senses her infinite smallness
But can’t seize it,
Recognizes the folly of desire,
The folly of withdrawal—
Kicks at the curb, the pavement,
Just found my poem .
Best day or what?
The goal is to understand your true self before launching an action plan. Deep realizations about yourself don’t come all in one sitting. Be your own ethnographer for a month. One of the people that I admire most in the world is Jane Goodall. Imagine Jane sitting in the forest, looking at those chimpanzees with compassion and curiosity. Take on her kind tone and attitude while observing yourself. Be gentle and curious but never judgmental. This is very hard for us to do because we’re always talking shit to ourselves.
Take a notebook and notice every time you get excited about something. It doesn’t have to be a big moment or work related… Just write it down each time—no judgments. What happens over the course of the month is you start seeing some patterns. It gives you a peek into your authenticity and things that energize you. When your whole body lights up with joy, it’s really trying hard to tell you something—it’s saying, “hey, this is important, please pay attention.”
You need to spend time understanding who you truly are before you forge a path. If you’re making plans based on other people’s perception of you or the perception of yourself that you want to project based on some external force, you’ll always end up in the wrong place.
Who am I?’ is the question that the mind cannot answer. In that impossibility it stops. You know, it’s like computers — when you put something in that they cannot handle, they just crash. It’s the same with the mind. If the mind asks itself ‘Who am I?’, it cannot solve it. It cannot solve it because all that it knows is name and form. That which is the source of the mind is completely beyond name and form, so it cannot put it into a box. In that impossibility, the mind just stops. That which remains as consciousness is the real you. That is the way home, cutting through everything that is there — passion, fear, pain, whatever. The real you is all that remains.
How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.