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A warrior. A poet. An encourager. A light. A woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, was she.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying I am grateful for the words and work of Dr. Maya Angelou. Few words have touched me the way hers have and I’ve shared them here often. Searching for the “best” quote to post to honor her memory proved an enriching, but impossible task (how DOES one pick a favorite? Truthbombs galore). These are just a few of my favs.

But one particular poem has always held a special place in my heart. Even now it’s hard to deny how powerful it feels to read it aloud. If you’ve read it before, you know what I mean. If not, try it now.

A life phenomenally lived and such beautiful, inspiring lessons left for us all. Rest in peace.

*** Phenomenal Woman ***
(by Maya Angelou)

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size.
But when I start to tell them, they think I’m telling lies.

I say…

It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman. Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, that’s me.

I walk into a room just as cool as you please,
And to a man, the fellows stand or fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me, a hive of honey bees.

I say…

It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman. Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, that’s me.

Men themselves have wondered what they see in me.
They try so much but they can’t touch my inner mystery.
When I try to show them, they say they still can’t see.

I say…

It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman. Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, That’s me.

Now you understand just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing, it ought to make you proud.

I say…

It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.

’Cause I’m a woman. Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,

That’s me.

You can NEVER have too much awesome. ,:)

Body Peace, Six Packs, Weightloss Loss And Feeling Good

Something that helped me when I first started feeling worn down by the pressure to lose weight (before I was ready to let go entirely) was giving up the idea that weight gain or loss was “bad” or “good”. I’d already given up the scale because it wasn’t helpful or healthy for me to have it around, but I needed to work on gaining acceptance of my body in all states.

That meant finding joy in jiggles. And shimmies in shakes. And magic in muffin tops. And celebration in cellulite. Because my body was and is gonna change. But how much energy I spent perfecting it or fighting that change the was up to me. And I was TIRED. And I needed that energy elsewhere.

At the time, illness had given me a wake up call that there were more important things in life: it had forced me to re-evaluate why being as small as possible took up such a big part of my life. At first, I decided to call weight changes “feedback”. That worked for awhile. Weight gain was no longer failure or something I had to urgently address. It was the result of my life at the moment, which included periods where I couldn’t move like I wanted to, didn’t have the energy or motivation to eat how I wanted to eat (or, many times, was eating more after a period of restriction). It gave me freedom and wiggle room. I’d never felt those things before.

I repeatedly told myself “it ain’t a big deal”. I’d been heavier before, I’d been smaller before and in my head I decided that’s how life goes. I got rid of the “wagon”. I knew I felt good when I could move and I ate tons of veggies. Putting my energy into that goal instead (feel good), replaced the “I suck at life because I’m fat” guilt trips I used to have that never, ever, served me. Ever. So much energy had gone into feeling bad about myself. I decided that was enough for one lifetime.

The idea that “old Chichi” would have thought “current Chichi” was too fat to…

- Have a fitness page
- Be a trainer
- Share anything with the world
- Be inspiring
- Be herself
- Be happy
- Call herself sexy, beautiful or awesome
- Take pics of herself
- Live freely
- Eat what she wanted and do what she likes.

… seems freaking crazy to me. Cray cray all the way.

Getting to a place of peace with my bod took lots of little steps and changes in my thinking. And time. Each small step lead to bigger ones, and soon the whole idea of having to mold my body into perfection seemed dumb, dumb, dumb. But when I look back on my journey, I realize that for me, it wasn’t just ONE lightbulb moment, but a series of them. And daily effort to keep my environment and headspace clear. Others might feel the same way; if you are struggling with having a “lightbulb” moment and the mantras aren’t working, start smaller. One step at a time. Some people have massive “a-ha” moments. The rest of us have to work at it a bit. All you need is the desire to want to change your narrative. And some guts.

I gave up magazines and blogs I was obsessed with, but we’re making it hard to love myself. I started questioning marketing, specifically in fitness. I shared my thoughts and found others who felt the same way. I dug. I looked for the root of where and why I was dissatisfied with my body, and opened up to seeing how I’d been taught to hate it. I decided the only “rule” that served me was “it should feel good”. And obsessing over my bod didn’t feel good.

This meant giving up working constantly towards six pack abs and living my life to be as lean as possible. But it also meant giving up the idea that anyone else should feel that pressure either. I gained an appreciation for my love of physical fitness, but as a marker of individuality not superiority. I like what I do. But not everyone has to. I hate the notion that some people would consider that “lucky”. It’s not luck, just my thing. I like burpees. She might like knitting. We’re both awesome.

All this to say, I never found body peace in abs or weight loss. I found it in being okay with OR without those things. I found/find pleasure in eating well and moving, but never in thinking those things made me better than anyone else. I found love for myself when I ditched the rules on how, when and what I needed to be allowed to feel that way. For the first time in my life, I feel confident that I’d be just as awesome in a body 100lbs heavier because my priorities are straight. I’m grateful for what my bod can do, but if for any reason it can’t do it any longer, I know I’ll be okay. I’m not sure the same can be said for a lot of weight loss enthusiasts: take away their abs, guns and ability to do what they do, and they might not be able to identify themselves.

Just some things to think about. Baby steps and end game are very different, but my end game would not have been possible without a TON of baby steps and effort.

What’s your end game? If it’s body peace, six packs and weight loss might not cut it.

Tip of the day. :)

Don’t settle. Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.
Chris Brogan (via joliesauvage)

(via allmylifeivehadroses)

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