Through my own eyes

Good morning everyone!

Do you think when you look at yourself you see yourself through the eyes of someone else? When you make your decisions, do you subconsciously let others weigh in?

I’ve always said if it wasn’t for my mother being who she was, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. She was always in my corner boosting me up and letting me know that I could do anything. Sure, there were times when her advice was misguided because she feared for me and my well-being. Our opinions differed only because as a mother she wanted to protect me and I wanted to take risks. Now that I am a mother myself, I get that. She always let me know that I was smart, she let me know that I was beautiful and that I had many things to offer. She let me know that I was worth something and that I was a prize. Hearing that all through my life gave me confidence, it gave me strength, it made me stand up for myself and it also made others treat me the way she saw me.

You teach people how to treat you.

It’s only now, when she is no longer here, I see the fact that for a long time, I had been looking at myself through her eyes. My kindness and gentleness, my sense of fairness and generosity, my loyalty and honesty are all things that she wanted me to be, what she thought me to be and I manifested that and became all those things. Over the years, I had become that woman.

Interestingly enough, while I had a voice in my heart telling me how to be a good person, there were also other voices creeping in with disparaging words; words that told me that I am other things too. In the past, there was someone in my life through whose eyes I also saw myself and the Vikera I saw was not so good. The Vikera I saw was lazy, loud, aggressive, overly talkative, too smart, a mediocre mother, cheap, naive, a little bit stupid and overly ambitious. I saw myself through that person’s eyes for a long time and it took its toll on me.

Over time, I started to believe those things, in varying degrees. My mother had created such a strong foundation that this other stuff couldn’t possibly be true, but for pockets of time, I did question if I talked too much, I did think that I could be a better mother, I did wonder if I should dampen my rambunctious, vivacious personality. I realized that I started looking at myself through that person’s eyes.

Isn’t that strange?

Luckily for me, though, over time, I started looking at myself through my own eyes: a skill that took A LONG TIME to get a handle on. It took a long time to start looking at myself objectively and judging myself and my actions based on the person I wanted to be not who someone else thought I was.

I do not judge my actions based on what others think about me. I judge my actions based on what is right and fair to others.

This circles back to how strongly I feel about the media and body image and all of that stuff. This comes back to all these forces in our lives telling us things about ourselves that we may not necessarily buy into but before you know it, we start believing it and repeating it. We start looking at ourselves through others’ eyes – others who do not have our best interest at heart, others who don’t know who we are, others who try to hurt us, others who are not trying to build us up. We have to be vigilant, we have to be aware. We have to think if our opinions are actually our opinions or if we are voicing or thinking someone else’s.

I do like my rambunctious personality, I am hella smart, I am definitely loud and funny, I can be lazy. I am a wonderful mother. I hate doing dishes and laundry. I can do anything. I have thick thighs. I am a procrastinator. My wit is everything! I can be too generous sometimes. I am loyal. I love hard. I snore.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not squirrel off with it without asking first.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not squirrel off with it without asking first.

All in all, I’m not perfect, but I’m fucking awesome and will only get better! <— That’s me looking at myself through my own eyes and I look goooooood!

Have a great day guys! ❤

V

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Yeah, it’s not flat…and?

Monday? Again? Seriously? Well, if we must, we must.

I haven’t posted about body image in a while. I guess it’s been winter and every body has been under 14 layers of clothes. Okay, so despite not trying (and much to my friend’s annoyance), I have trimmed down a bit. Not sure how it happened or when, but it did. I notice it in the way my clothes fit. I notice it in the smaller clothes I buy these days.

As I’ve said before, I don’t exercise. I am not interested in going to the gym or any of that stuff. I did give it a go though. Last summer, I was a bit more active: getting out on my bike and generally being busy. Now, I drive to work, so there’s minimal walking and it’s been cold, so I’ve been indoors way more, yet, I’ve trimmed down. I’m not going to lie, I do feel healthier and less jiggly.

We were invited to a house party for New Year’s at a friend’s house and on a whim, I bought a dress to wear. It wasn’t something I would EVER wear, let’s say, two years ago. I would never expose my stomach because it wasn’t flat and toned and with nary an ab in sight. These days though, I’ve really gotten used to my new old body. In the end, I never did wear the dress. I thought it might have been too fancy to wear to a house party and opted for something a bit more casual. Flashforward three months and I had to attend a dance festival social and I thought, “Hell yeah!”

One night last week, one of my besties came over and I tried on the dress and she gave her stamp of approval. My stomach still wasn’t flat and it was still going to be exposed, but I was stoked. I asked Kidlet, “This looks great, right?” Here he comes with, “Yes, but your belly is a little big-ish!” What came next was the gasp heard around the world! My wee kidlet had an opinion on my body? What? Um…

Right there and then, I thought, this world is F**KED UP. At first, I thought, “Wow, prior to that comment, I felt good about myself and my non-flat stomach and now there’s this cold bucket of water poured unceremoniously over my self-confidence.” The second thought was “What does this boy know about flat stomachs?” Though not actually flat, this is the flattest my stomach has ever been, so what’s he comparing my body to? The third thought was, “Thank goodness I don’t have a girl because right about now, I’d be even more PISSED!”

I’ve discussed this before. If your wee kidlet has an opinion of your body, and a negative one at that, what the heck is wrong with the world? What about unconditional love? What about loving yourself? Then the panic set in…does HE have things about himself that he wishes was different? EEEEEEK!

Okay, I may be overreacting here, but still. See? This is why I am a believer in positive body image! This is why I’m always trying to see the beauty in people. This is why I’m always trying to lift people up. This is why I always compliment people, not just women, but people in general. There are all these latent opinions and judgements lurking out there that HAVE to be counterbalanced. Grrrrrr….I know people who don’t like their ankles or their necks or their ears or their knees or whatever! Sigh. I try to tell them it’s okay, it’s good, but I’m only one person. Double sigh.

Inadvertently, though, by even buying that dress, it was to counterbalance the perception that only rock hard abs can be put on display. I wasn’t making a statement when I bought it, but I sure am making one now! By wearing the dress, I’ve said, “Yeah, it’s not flat. And?”

IMG_2716 cropped

We have to make up our minds not to give in to what ‘they’ want us to think about ourselves. We have to push through and accept our bodies as is! It’s the only one we have and if it’s a healthy body, ROCK ON!

My new label

Funny story, well not really funny. More like pathetic.

I was putting back on my belt the other day and I noticed that I had put it on the wrong way. Instead of pulling it to the right to tighten, I had somehow put it on so that I had to pull it to the left. I stood there puzzled for minute or so thinking, “How come I put it on ‘wrong’?” then I thought, “This feels weird!” then I thought, “That’s interesting that I’ve never done that before,” and I kept thinking about it. Then it hit me. I am in a rut. If changing my belt provided all that introspection, heck the fact that I even noticed something so trivial, it means that I don’t have that much on the go! It’s kinda sad, right?

The point of telling you this is to discuss an adjective that was hurled across a dinner table at me the other day: spontaneous. Friends and I went out for dinner and we got to talking about my upcoming trip to the Salsa Congress and I brought up the fact that it’s a few days away and we don’t have the workshop schedule yet. Someone was saying that there’s still time. I was saying, but it’s less than two weeks away! Then my friend says, very innocently and, of course, it was her own personal opinion, “You have to understand. She’s not very spontaneous.” I had never heard that about myself before in all my years. I looked at her and then looked at myself and I thought, “That can’t be true, is it?” How does one get a new label at the age of 36.92?

I took those words home in my mind and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s funny when you see yourself from a new perspective. I know I have control issues, but it’s hard not to when you’re responsible for another person and living your life without a safety net. It’s hard to be frivolous and foolish when you have to take care of two people’s tomorrows. I didn’t see it as a criticism, it’s just something about myself that I have never considered before. I started thinking about situations that might validate this assessment. I found more and more examples of me holding back. I can’t help but laugh, even now, because it seems preposterous that someone as spunky as me could not be spontaneous.

Then it clicked in. While I may not be spontaneous, I am easy going. Wait, that’s not strictly true either. I can get a little high strung. Hmmm…so maybe I don’t know myself at all! hahaha…isn’t this weird? I have always had a perception of myself in a certain way and now I’m questioning everything. I’m definitely not a fuddy duddy and I am definitely adventurous. That I know for sure. I guess I’m not adventurous AND spontaneous. I would think they would go together, but I guess in my case, they don’t. I would definitely travel on my own or go to places I’ve never been before or do things I’ve never done, but not on a whim – I’d have to plan it first. Hmm…I think I’m starting to see who I might actually be here.

Perhaps, the actual adjective is not as important as what it meant to me at this time in my life. Maybe hearing and digesting it is a catalyst for introspection and making a conscious decision to be the person I want to be rather than the person that I HAVE to be. I don’t want to be one of those people in their late 60’s thinking about the things they wanted to do but didn’t. I’m not talking about regret, I’m talking about being the person you WANT to be before the opportunity slips away. Maybe a little spontaneity is just what I need to get out of this funk – to get out of the routine and structure that is my life.

Okay, so this begs the question: how does one plan to be spontaneous?

My new old body

Okay, so let’s discuss my new body. I haven’t discussed body image in a while.

So I’ve sworn off drinks. When I say drinks, I mean juice, definitely pop, smoothies and everything else. The only thing I’ve had to drink for the past few weeks is water and tea.  I started drinking all kinds of tea and even brewing my own iced tea, which is delish, by the way. I make all different kinds and finish two litres in two days, but it’s been mostly water. What started off as an experiment has turned into a lifestyle change, and I’m starting to see changes in my body because of it.

Those of you who read my blog know that I don’t exercise, not on purpose anyway. I started biking, which is fantastic, but I have a flat tyre and since what I know about bikes (and their tyres) could fit in an elf’s thimble, the biking situation has been on hold. I still try to keep active, but it’s not a priority for me. Any weight loss or toning of muscle happens purely by accident. I’m pretty easy going that way. I accept my body for what it is.

Anyway, since I look at my body every day, I started noticing subtle changes: my pants waists started loosening up, my I-can’t-sit-in-these-pants pants can be persuaded to be sat in and the shadow of the stomach overhang is a bit shorter. Thick thighs aren’t as thick, but still good and strong! I thought, “What the heck?! When did that happen?” Then I realized it’s drinking all that water. It’s crazy how that little change brought about these results. How much sugar WAS I ingesting?

I also noticed that I’m not as winded when I walk up the stairs briskly. In fact, now I CAN walk up three flights of stairs briskly. I haven’t weighed myself – my clothes don’t lie and my lungs definitely won’t lie. I don’t need the demo scale at the store to tell me I’m healthier. I can also bike without having to rest after more than five minutes. Maybe because I’m lugging around a few less lbs. I didn’t stop drinking that stuff to lose weight. I just started feeling bloated, so I did it kinda like a cleanse (without any green, bad-tasting stuff) and what do you know, it did clean out some excess bits.

I'm not hiding my face on purpose, but it's convenient!  [Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Do not copy without permission.]

I wasn’t hiding my face on purpose, but it’s convenient!
[Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Do not copy without permission.]

It’s not easy drinking only water, especially when it’s 30 degrees outside. I passed by the smoothie place yesterday and longed for a pina colada iced smoothie goodness, but I fear that it would be SO sweet I wouldn’t be able to choke it down anyway although I had no problem eating half that chocolate bar while I was watching a movie today, but it was dark chocolate, so that may be why. Hmmm….

As you can tell, I still eat the same: no change there! If anything I eat more junk because I know I have calories in the bank  to waste! Just today, I thought, “Hmmm…I could probably get rid of the stomach overhang if I just did a few crunches a day, but then I thought, ‘Naaaaah, you’re good!'” I want to keep my curves, lumps and bumps – it’s what makes me look like a woman.

It’s interesting that now that my body has changed, the clothes I wear has also changed too. I’m wearing closer fitting outfits and showing a little more skin. I have a little pep in my step, I’m not going to lie. My body confidence is pretty high. Am I ready to wear a two-piece bikini to the beach? Not so much. I will wear the bikini top and shorts for now, but I’m getting there…one sip at a time.

Somebody that I used to know

Last week, I reconnected with someone who was really close to me, but who hasn’t been in my life for three years. I found myself explaining things to him that are so normal to me now. I’d forgotten that he doesn’t know the me that I am today. I told him about my blogging, the saga of co-parenting and the drudgery of being single when you don’t want to be. Okay, the co-parenting thing never goes away and the single thing too, apparently, but the point is that the me that I am inside is different. When he knew me I was still grieving Mummy’s loss deeply and going through a divorce. I was shrouded in loss and quite frankly, I was living in a fog. Yes, I had a job. Yes, I was able to get out of bed every day, but I was numb. I didn’t feel things the way I feel them now. That shell of a person was the person he knew. He doesn’t know this person now. Just out of curiosity, I looked up my FB status from June 2011 to try and see who I was then. I wanted to see who was the person he used to know:

“I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be in, for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.” Sometimes I have to remind myself to think not what I have lost, but what I had been lucky enough to have.

Very telling, huh? Funny, looking at those pictures and reading the updates, I do remember feeling like my world was crumbling. I remember feeling lost and hopeless. The journey to where I am today was a long and hard one – I know it sounds cliche, but that’s really how it was! So now I’m here: I look the same, but I’m a new woman or at the very least, a different version of that woman.

What I looked like then….pretty much the same, but I am no longer that woman on the inside.

You know what the major difference is? Before I crumbled, I was a rock. I had NO idea I could be crushed into a pile of pebbles. I had no clue that I could be stripped right down to the very essence of myself and all I would recognize was my sense of being a mother and the responsibility that came with that. I was so sure I knew myself and the things in my life then I lost almost everything: my mother, my marriage, the life I had built for myself, my career. I had to start over, building myself up, but I was no longer the original. I stand here today seeing myself with the tiny fractures, knowing that I’m never going to have that strong sense of self I had before. Now I know I am not perfect, I am not invincible, I am not TOUGH, I am forever changed. Anyway, the point is that three years have gone by and while I’m still the same person: hilarious and loyal, mother and friend, my insides have gone through a bit of a shake-up. It’ll be really interesting to see what differences my friend sees in me. We went back and forth asking the questions: same apartment? same car? All those material things are all the same, but the biggest changes are the ones I don’t have tangible evidence of, changes which is harder to see. I can’t explain them to him, he’ll have to see them himself. I guess it goes to show that life changes us and though it seems like nothing’s changed. Sometimes the biggest change is not what happened or didn’t happen, but it’s just our perception of self that gets overhauled. Just for fun, go on your FB (if you have one) and look at your status updates from 3 years ago and try to remember who you were then. Do you still have some of those clothes? Do you wear your hair the same as now: is it longer, is it shorter, same colour, same style? Do you have the same number of children? Do you have the same partner? Look at the tone of your updates? Do you still feel that way? Do you seem happier or sadder? It’s VERY telling. Let me know what you come up with! :0) V