One of the unexpected gifts the pandemic has brought to me is a new appreciation for my physical self, exactly the way it is. I’ve uncovered a new seam of unconditional love for it, buried under years of conditioning beliefs that my body was an unreliable and untrustworthy object, something to fix, to control, and to deride. The change in the way I regard myself began with the noticeable relaxation of the (unwritten, unspoken) dress code, as we loosened our button pants and kicked off our uncomfortable shoes, taken advantage of by many of us who were suddenly working at home. It is now a priority that the way I dress reflects my own comfort first.

Another aha moment came with the realization of how my schedule was affecting me. Before the lockdown in March, I was out the door daily before 7 to take my younger son to school. He was beginning to learn to drive, so often he would drive and I would be in the passenger seat, and let me just say here, putting your baby into a death machine first thing in the morning is a particular kind of stress that wore me out before I was ever fully awake. Try it~I dare you not to have an argument with yourself about going straight back to bed.

After dropping him off, I’d go immediately to the gym and from there dragged myself relentlessly through the day, exhausted. Pushing myself hard was how I stayed upright. Years I had been living like this and I didn’t even connect it to the clouds of irritability and brain fog that would overwhelm me at a moment’s notice. The thing is, I have always functioned better in the latter part of my day so now being able to wake up at 6 yet use that first hour to walk my dogs and to connect with myself and The Universe, has brokered a monumental change to my energy and sense of well-being. I am one of the few people who is actually feeling more rested than ever before, simply because of the change to my morning routine.

Being home more has also meant that we eat together as a family regularly, and mostly cook from scratch. We bake together too (ok, maybe I’m still doing most of that, but it’s much more fun to do it for a group of clearly adoring fans). I appreciate in a whole new way the experience of sharing in the nourishment and connection that good food provides. As well, because of the supply-chain issues that are now part of daily life, and because of my family’s commitment to racial justice, we shop as much as possible at black-owned, small local businesses or farms, and this has only improved the quality of what we have access to.

I am also sleeping better than ever. (I haven’t figured out that one yet, stay tuned.)

As grateful as I am to be free from the cycle of sleepless nights, stress has figured out a way to command my attention. Historically, stress shows up in my body in the form of pain and inflammation, and this summer has been super hard. After a lot of gentleness and acceptance and of course using my intuition to navigate a way forward, I am overjoyed that it is finally abating. I haven’t spoken with anyone this summer who isn’t also dealing with something physical and stress-related, and I am encouraging all of us to deal with stress differently as the pandemic wears on. Even if you’ve been lucky enough not to absorb it off of the people you love, you may at any point generate distress but ignore it, in an attempt to cope. If you are very empathic (I am constantly working on the tendency to absorb the energy of those around me, an occupational hazard) you might do it reflexively and not realize what’s happening. So thank goodness our bodies can shout at us loud enough until we are honest and direct about the challenges we’re facing.

I see my physical self through a different lens. I will never not appreciate how generous it is to me, how strong it is.

Let me be very clear, my experience is one of privilege. I have been able to experience all that I have because of the way our society positions its resources. My gratitude is immense, but it also connects me to a responsibility to support my Black and Brown siblings in their own flourishing.

Lastly, a toenail revolution has happened to me. I need to celebrate my toenails. I haven’t had a pedicure since January, and I am also someone who’s probably had polish on her toenails for a straight 5 or 6 years consecutively (which is a conservative estimate). Last month I looked down at my feet and saw toes I didn’t even recognize. They were healthy! The nails were so naturally pinked up, the nails so smooth, and the cuticles so soft, I was astonished. I may enjoy getting a pedicure again when it’s safe to do so, but for the foreseeable future (please remember I’m an intuitive, so that’s quite a while) I’m going natural.

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