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Overwhelmed by Fear?


Source: Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Over the weekend, two different people have used the same word to reflect how they see me: as “light.”  (My skin is the same shade of glaring white it usually is, so it is not a change in melatonin!) I have shed quite a few pounds during the pandemic, so it may be that, but usually people notice and comment more directly on that: “Wow! You’ve lost weight!”  

What does it mean to be light? 

The client who reflected my “lightness” had seen me on my morning walk.  I set different goals every morning: sometimes it’s to do “hills” in my moderately hilly town.  Sometimes it’s to walk briefly and very quickly.  Sometimes to focus on avoiding “stepping on a crack” in the sidewalks, thereby alternating my stride as dictated by the size of the block of concrete, which varies a lot in this old town.  The place where Cindy the client saw me was about midway through, on a flat stretch, and my body felt loose and warm.  A bright sunny morning encouraged me to lift my head toward the sky.  My shoes cushioned my feet; my shirt was just the right weight for the temperature; the breeze floated through my uncharacteristically long hair. 

On that occasion, I was, as my ex-husband would have said, “living in my body.”  I do not remember very many useful things my ex-husband said to me during our short marriage, but that was one thing that stayed with me.  He was tall, physically fit and did live fully in his body.  To me that meant he was seductively sexy—alas! —and it also meant he was healthy and youthful. We walked together a lot in our life together, and I always felt he was comfortable moving through the world.  I am beginning to be more aware of that physical confidence in myself these days, partly because I am literally lighter on my feet and don’t turn away from my shadow because it is too “fat,” but also because I am more attuned to my body, to how it will respond when I ask it to do something.  I know the ache in my lower back will ease if I climb a hill; I know that my thighs will stretch when I head down a hill.  I know I can run with reasonable speed if I need to avoid a speeding car as the traffic light changes and I’m still in the crosswalk.

Part of being light comes from being conscious of my physical incarnation.  In my history, much physical awareness of myself has focused on diabetes.  Diagnosed when I was ten, I learned through my adolescence to focus on the symptoms of high or low blood sugar, which as I matured led me to focus on factors that affect blood sugar, including stress, hunger, fatigue, hormones, physical illness. Vigilant, I became aware of how subtle the factors are.  Not only “bad” stress—anxiety before an exam, an argument with a friend—but also excitement—a first date, the first class I taught—served to elevate my blood sugar significantly.  (I now use the term “intensity” rather than “stress,” when reckoning that factor’s effects, since I typically have more effect from a deeply-moving church service full of poetry, music, love and prayer than I do from driving in bad traffic or paying my bills.)  These days I am better able to manage the intensity to keep my blood sugar closer to normal, and I can focus on other dimensions of physical being: as noted above, on the wind in my hair, the sun on my head, the stretch in my legs, the change in breath as I challenge myself to walk fast up Humphrey Street. Although sex has always been a great physical pleasure, now most physical activity carries a bit of that whole-body joy, release, and lightness.  Who knew that mopping the floor or carrying laundry could feel sexy?  (All right, yes, that is a slight exaggeration.)

Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Source: Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Last night a friend said, when we were having dinner together (outside and distanced), “You’re looking—” she paused to find the exact word— “light.”  I value her mirroring, which is always supportive and often highlights something I haven’t considered about myself.  It was a different context than out alone on my morning walk.   We were in a small group of people.  I had just told a story about my faith in love. Dusk was falling, squirrels were tossing acorns down from the big oak trees that surrounded us.  I was sitting still in a camp chair, sipping zippy ginger beer.  I was floating—not physically, levitation not being a part of my lightness, but my whole self did feel unburdened, liberated, light.

What is that sensation of being suspended in air? 

I feel like a meringue, a blend of two simple ingredients.  Not egg white and sugar, but rather peace and contentment.  I am sitting with people I love; I have revealed my own heart and soul and touched other people’s hearts and souls by doing that.  As with a meringue, a simple effort has allowed us to transform, expand, become light and delicious. 

I want to continue to be light.  The combination of walking and expressing faith and love keeps debilitating anxiety about the world and the future at bay. 

In the days ahead, I urge you to live in your body, share your faith and love.  Cultivate light.   

Ryan McGuire/Gratisography

Source: Ryan McGuire/Gratisography



#Overwhelmed #Fear

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