My Body is Softer Now and so is My Heart.

I am softer now.

I use to be hard: chiseled shoulders, impossibly thin, well-defined legs, bony chest, and flat stomach. My body was the epitome of modern female fitness and beauty. The body is to be treated like a temple, right? But to worship the temple is perhaps a misunderstanding of this age-old adage.

“Happiness comes from looking like the girls in magazines.”

This was my religion and I practiced dutifully. I forced my body to be something unnatural, a shape and size not embodied effortlessly since age 13.

My thoughts were hard as well: viciously judgmental of myself and others. My mind incessantly counted things like numbers of pounds gained and lost and calories consumed — I was obsessed. I constantly engaged in internal competition with the women around me: “Am I better, am I thinner, am I prettier?”

This is how I measured success.

I have worn a Size Two pant, and believed this to be salvation.  I spent years chasing this idea of happiness, the perfect body. I was ignorant of my self-created misery, my own personal hell.

Then I met her. We were both new mothers: I, back into my Size Two pants; her, a fuller-figured woman. I, considered beautiful by modern culture’s unhealthy standards; she, a homely new mother.

We worked together, and after a couple of days, I saw that she possessed something so foreign to my superficial values: inner peace and self-acceptance. She glowed from within, the type of glow that can only come from inner tranquility.

True beauty.

She ate food, real food. She loved her new baby and husband. She wore a smile on her lips and laughed often. Maybe she exercised and maybe she did not, but she moved in harmony with life. I was a shadow in comparison: fake, lifeless and empty.

She seemed to know something I did not: how to truly enjoy life. I knew how to manipulate life, constantly struggling, trying to force life to fit my idea of happiness. I was deeply unconscious.

After two days of working with this extraordinary woman, I knew that she had what I desperately wanted. My good looks and fit body were a sham, a lie, and only concealed the hollowness within. I desperately wanted change. I desperately wanted the peace she so effortlessly emanated.

So I changed. I traded in my sharp edges for softer, rounder edges, my well-defined thighs for dimples, bony chest, muscular arms and flat stomach for fleshy fullness.

I gave away my Size Two pants and bathroom scale. I started telling the truth and took time to sit in silence each day. I traded in fit and thin for peace andbalance.

Yes, I look different, but the most profound change is within. My mind is also much softer. My harsh, judgmental thoughts have become kinder, steeped in empathy and understanding. I’m aware of a depth within that seems unfathomably forgiving and tender.

I trust this, I trust myself. For the first time I stand grounded on my own two feet, rooted in my own strength. No longer do I give away my power for someone else’s idea of beauty and happiness. For me, true self-love never came from wearing a Size Two pant, but from something peaceful and gentle within.

My new measure of success is calm in the face of difficulty, joy that leads to laughter and genuine, deeply heartfelt human connection.

I am so much softer now, and for this I am grateful.



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Abby Pingree
Abby Pingree spent the first seven years of her life in a hippie commune. She is currently an author, hospice nurse, mother, and student of life. She has made friends with her own experiences with drug addiction, bulimia, dishonest and dodgy behavior by simply telling the truth. She explores these experiences in a book titled: Completion, by C. Abigail Pingree. She now seeks an authentic life. She writes for Elephant Journal and blogs for Huffington Post. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
Abby Pingree
Abby Pingree

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