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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

My Calves Are Big

Recently a dear friend suggested that I delete the word “big” to describe my calves from an essay I’d written.    She said that I didn’t need to self-deprecate.  I deleted it, but that got me to thinking, “Wait a minute.  I was not intending to be self-deprecating.  I just wanted to describe my calves.”   They are bigger than some and smaller than others.  I will not need to ask Lloyd’s of London to insure them.  In addition to their size, they are scarred, laced with varicose veins and speckled with brown spots.

I was not using the word big in a good or bad sense.  I was simply using it to describe my calves, as compared to others’.  My granddaughter even commented that I have hefty calves and asked if I’d been working out.  She said that with a sense of amazement, not derogatively.

When I was a younger woman, I was embarrassed by my legs.  My calves were clearly larger than most of my friends.  After childbirth, the varicose veins surfaced.  I seldom went out in public in shorts, regardless of how hot it was.  If I wore a skirt or dress, I always wore stockings to camouflage my legs.  I’ve worked at getting to a place of loving, kindness and acceptance for my body.    Particularly at my age, I celebrate how my body serves me.  Those calves allow me to hike and swim.  They allow me to shop for hours with my daughters.  The support me when I pick up my great-grandchild.

Words like fat or big are only shaming when you believe that fat or big is shameful.   My boobs are large, my ass is flat, my skin is flabby and my calves are big.  Why not love all of me?  I do

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Sometimes fear is not at an awareness level. It’s like those dust mites floating in the air. We don’t notice they are there until the light exposes them. You’re put in an unexpected position that makes you tremble, shake and panic: an intruder, a disaster or a loss. You manage to survive, and sometimes, looking back, you don’t even know how.

But there are also those fears that we are well aware of, so we avoid those situations: rock climbing, flying or public speaking. That fear can define us and we let it.

How we deal with fear can be transformational. Because it’s not what’s happening to you or what you’re experiencing that matters. It’s how you relate to it. In fearful situations, if you shift your focus to what you do have control over, you can reduce fear’s influence.

This is how I diminished fear’s impact in one area of my life – public speaking.

Shift perspective

For years I let my fear of public speaking influence and shape many of my actions and decisions.  Early on, I had decided that public speaking was not something that was possible – at least not for me.  So, the first step was to simply entertain the idea that it might be possible. To consider, ‘What if?’

By spending some time entertaining possibility, instead of being completely opposed to the idea, I could expand rather than contract. I could imagine “worst case scenarios” and better prepare and accept those “what ifs.”

Acknowledge fear

I want to grow and evolve and the fear of making a mistake or looking like a fool in front of people had such control over my life, it was standing in the way of my evolution. So I allowed it to show up every time I just thought about speaking to a group. I accepted it and became the observer. Acceptance and not judging fear as good or bad reduced its power.

Slowly the desire to expand and grow became more powerful than my usual response of avoidance. When faced with the choice to be conquered by fear, or to keep walking, fear can become a comrade of sorts. Almost like a friend who keeps me on my toes.

Get Help

This is an important part of the process. For every public speaker, there is a fan club behind the scenes. I had the help of fellow Toastmasters and actively enlisted friends and family members; people who were open to listening to my message, who gave me feedback and most importantly – who believed in, and celebrated me. They are all there with me, every time I speak.

Own your message

Believing in and committing to my message wholeheartedly, significantly increased my bravery. And accepting that there is no guarantee that I will not make a mistake or say something foolish because I am, after all, imperfect in a perfect way.

Knowing, deep in my bones that my message is an important one….that it has the power to inspire, motivate and induce positive change – if only in one other person – that’s where I tapped into a whole new source of power.

And may it be so for you!

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A – Accept what you can control and dive in knowing you will give your best effort, but aware that you are not always responsible for the outcome.   When my daughter was playing in a sectional basketball game in middle school, they were ahead by one point with only a couple of seconds on the clock.  Just as the buzzer was about to go off, a girl from the opposing team hurled the ball from half court and miracle of miracles it went in.  It was a fluke and even though my daughter’s team had played really well, they lost that game. 

Most times the outcome is out of your hands, but you can always celebrate your personal effort because that is all you have control over.  Your lists, planning and action are all within your control and that is powerful.  If things don’t work out exactly as planned, there may be a lesson in that and opportunity for growth. 

Recently, after careful planning and rehearsal, an event did not go as I had hoped, and the next day my daughter just happened to share this quote by the Dalai Lama:

 “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

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BERKSHIRE ON STAGE

From the Berkshires to Broadway and Beyond

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

www.suffragecentennials.com/

Suffrage Centennials.com

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