My 30 Year Manifesto
I turned 30 on June 1st.
Now, I am not one who dreads birthdays. I don't fear growing older. I don't check the mirror frantically for gray hairs and wrinkles. Every day is a blessing, every year is a blessing. I have everything I had ever dreamed to have at this point in my life, and much more. But still, turning 30 felt like a pretty big deal.
I did a lot of thinking and praying leading up to my birthday. I felt a pull to step forward into the next 30 years with more purpose and understanding than I've lived with for the last 30.
I prayed, reflected, and listened. I decided that the themes for my 30 Year Manifesto just HAD to be moderation and intentionality. I won't go as far as to say balance, because there are definitely things in life worth tipping the scales for. There are causes and beliefs that I am passionate about, people I will move mountains for. I believe that is good. But I also know myself well enough to know that I am a "knee jerk reaction" kind of person. I act with my heart more often than my head. Fortunately, I'm a pretty smart girl and that part usually takes care of itself...to say, it usually all turns out okay in spite of my strong emotional motivations.
So, I sat down and wrote up a list of "guidelines". I won't call them rules, because they aren't hard and fast. Just general "good ideas" and "bad ideas" for moving forward and growing in the right direction.
So, without further ado:
My 30 Year Manifesto
~Eat food that makes me feel good after it's swallowed.
I have a list of specifics here, but mostly I am sick of eating something that is supposed to taste amazing, only to be let down by the taste, and later let down further by the headache, nausea, bloat, and general discomfort.
~Record more positives.
Good things are happening all around me all of the time. It is so easy to let them slide by unnoticed. I want to be more intentional about noticing the good things, the little tiny rays of sunshine in the day to day.
~Focus intentional energy in my areas of calling on a regular basis.
For me these have to do with relationship building and self-care. I have set specific intervals for girls nights out, date nights with Snuggs, writing and reflecting time alone, quiet time with God.
~Treat my body as a temple of the Lord. Be healthy and strong for myself and my family.
Countless tiny steps resulted in my first half-marathon less than 2 months before my birthday. I just registered for another one. I don't have big impressive PR goals. I don't have a weight goal, or a size goal. I just want to be healthy, be able to chase my kids for fun without being winded, and feel comfortable and confident in the body God gave me. I want to be a good model for my daughter of how to view and treat her own body. I want to be a good example for my son of what REAL female beauty means. A slightly more complicated part of this has to do with ending the comparisons. God didn't make me tiny, and that doesn't make me any less worthy or beautiful than those who occupy a smaller amount of space than I do.
That's it. That's my 30 Year Manifesto. I may stick with that until I'm 40. I may decide next year that it needs to be changed. But for now, that's where I am, and it feels pretty darn good to be there.
I'll elaborate here a bit on the last tenant of my manifesto. It's definitely the hardest for me. I was never very body-confident in the first place, and then I had two relatively humongous children back to back. Cricket turned one a week after Buttercup was conceived. He weighed 9lbs 4oz, and she weighed 8lbs after 40 weeks of hyperemesis gravidarum. My body did a whole lot of changing in two short years, and will continue to change because I can't, for the life of me, get her to wean. I've been nursing or pregnant (sometimes both) for almost exactly five years. FIVE YEARS.
I could tell you about what that means, specifically. I could tell you about the cup sizes I've gone through, sometimes in one day. I could tell you about the ridiculously large diastasis recti I've worked for almost a year to correct. I could tell you about the pounds, the pants sizes, and how much I HATE to feel hungry. But none of that matters anymore. It did matter. It matterED. Those experiences were all valid and transformative. But none of them define who I am as a child of God.
I made a decision today. I decided that I was going to go to the pool with my friends and our children. I decided that I wasn't going to worry about my body. I decided that other people probably notice and care about my body approximately as much as I do theirs, and that's pretty next to nil. I will say, I was a bit taken aback by a woman in a see through tank and no bra in the pool today. THAT is what it takes to catch my attention. I don't know or care what size suits my friends had on. It doesn't matter that it may take one ounce more or one ounce less to sunscreen me than it does to sunscreen you.
There has been A LOT of hard work done to get to this place. And by that, I don't mean pounds lost. I haven't shred a one since I decided I really needed to reconcile my body issues about six months ago. Exercise is important. It matters if you want to feel good, function well, and honor what God has given you. Good food is important. It matters if you want to feel good, function well, and honor what God has given you. But you know what, neither food nor exercise has changed my body image.
That hard work looked more like this: Long, uncomfortable, embarrassing, revealing conversations with trusted friends trying to wrap my mind around HOW I could POSSIBLY be beautiful.
Tearful prayers of surrendering shame.
Snotty sobs on my husbands' shoulder as I sorted through all of the lies I'd been told for 30 years about who I am and how that just isn't enough...or worse, too much (that's a different post).
Hard conversations with mentors about what I'm teaching my daughter without even trying to.
And yes, the half marathon training and improved nourishment helped. But not in a calories in/calories out, losing weight sort of way. Rather, I got another look at how beautiful it is to be STRONG. I learned that my body can do hard things, really hard things. I learned that I am worth more than the cast off food scraps of my kids, or the leftover junk from a meal out that I would NEVER feed them.
I learned that a big part of the problem is that I was just spending too much time and energy THINKING about it. Guess what, my body, regardless of size, shape, and squishiness, was created by God (which inherently makes it amazing, beautiful, and more than good enough) to do His work (which involves a lot more serving others and a lot less worrying about myself.)
So, I went to the pool today. I went with my saggy boobs that traded perkiness for the nourishment and comfort of two babies. I went with my squishy tummy that traded firmness for life. I went with my cellulite, and my bumps and bruises, and the most absolutely ridiculous tan lines from my orthotic sandals. I went with my hair in a messy bun, and sunscreen in lieu of makeup. And nobody cared, and more importantly, I DIDN'T CARE! And I enjoyed my kids and my friends for WHO they are, not HOW they LOOK, and that love was returned to me. And tomorrow I will put on decent clothes, makeup, and do my hair, and I will feel pretty, because God made me that way. I will wear my invisible crown because I am the daughter of The King. (And I'm considering wearing an ACTUAL crown from time to time, just to reinforce those concepts.)