Friday, July 4, 2014

Breaking The Cycle- Freeing The Next Generation To Soar

"This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions." Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

"I am spinning the silk threads of my story, weaving the fabric of my world...I spun out of control. Eating was hard. Breathing was hard. Living was hardest.
I wanted to swallow the bitter seeds of forgetfulness...Somehow, I dragged myself out of the dark and asked for help.
I spin and weave and knit my words and visions until a life starts to take shape.
There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore.
I am thawing.”

― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls 

Today we set aside hours to celebrate, as a country, the freedoms available to us, as citizens of this great nation.  As a child, it was one of my favorite holidays, and one that holds many special memories for me: trashbags of homemade popcorn on a blanket, with friends, at a local park, sparklers (until they were illegal, in the state of Maryland, where I grew up), fireworks on the National Mall after the Beach Boys concert.  My own children, now, have the same fondness for the 4th of July, and anticipating enjoying the sky, all lit up tonight, with them, never ceases to excite me.

My husband, daughter, and I, spent the bulk of our morning, at Crossfit Mt. Lebanon.  As I worked my way through a (modified) WOD, and some a la carte exercises, which I added on my own, I began contemplating freedom, and the significance of the term, for me, today.  I thought about the freedoms I have gained, thus far, this year- recovery from thirty years of disordered eating, or all of the healing that is taking place on my journey, away from body dysmorphia, but my greatest joy is this:

Doing the dreaded burpees, last Saturday,
while Tom and I finished required singles
Cooking a paleo breakfast for her
parents, this morning, after
open studio at the box.
See this girl, here? She is my daughter- the product of all of my good intentions.  From the moment she entered the world, I fought to make her life better than my own. Despite struggling with the demons of  constant weight gain/weight loss, I worked to shelter her from language and habits that teach self-loathing and disordered eating.  I never, ever discussed my feelings, as they related to my body, in front of her.  If I had nothing positive to add, I said nothing.  We pleaded with family members, who had issues of their own, to refrain from using words like "diet" and other self-deprecating dialog, when she was in their presence (family members who considered me a complete nutcase for worrying about such pettiness).  I knew, in the very core of my being, that when you are a child, surrounded by women who  express hatred toward themselves, that you begin to believe that you, also, must be terribly flawed and unworthy.  I knew,firsthand, that a good percentage of eating disorders (though not all) are learned from the behavior of care givers- and I didn't want one more kid to grow up in the hell that is numbers driven, weight obsessed, and filled with nothing but agony and disgust.  Lily is 16 years old, and she has broken the cycle that at least two generations of women, before her, were enslaved by.  She has never dieted, has no eating disorders, and spends most every day, now, actively pursuing her own fitness goals- through Crossfit- goals which she is killing, on a daily basis.  In addition to the WODs, she spends time to practicing moves which she struggles with, or needs to improve, and two days a week, she completes a second workout, in the evening, with Crossfit Teens.  This week, she began a serious overhaul of her nutrition, and has chosen, on her own, with zero input from her parents, to begin eating 'paleo',
Lily, post work-out,
July 3rd
being cognizant of food labels, sugar content, and the quality of the ingredients she is consuming- in an effort to strengthen her body and increase her potential for mastering difficult exercises. 
I am not a perfect parent.  Far from it.  My children experience my mistakes and will, no doubt, fight to overcome some less than beneficial habits that they may have inherited from me.  But my daughter, who stood to profit the most dysfunction, statistically speaking, from my battle with eating and body dysmorphia, is free from both, and headed in a very empowering direction, with health and fitness.  Life is a process..and there are no guarantees.
Though, there are always going to be obstacles that our children must learn to overcome, on their own... by mirroring, to your children, loving self-talk and acceptance, you are then freeing them to focus on all of the other aspects, in their daily journey, which can absorb that positive energy, and, inevitably, allow them to soar.

Are you a parent (or a role model) to a young girl, or boy, who needs to hear you speak loving kindness about your body?  How are you breaking cycles, in your life, that sought to hold you in bondage away from joy and happiness? How are you free, today?

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