My Body as My Home

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This afternoon (writing Thursday, publishing later) I pose topless. Yvonne, my friend and photographer, will chronicle the experience as we continue the Body Catalog Project. (This is my way to manage the unmanageable. I wrote about it here.) Carrie will film the shoot for a documentary.

Today’s shoot marks my one-month post-thymectomy surgery milestone. Yay!

I feel wobbly and full of butterflies.

Butterflies about the shoot — not because of Yvonne. She put me at ease on our first shoot. I love working with her; she is professional, wise, fun & compassionate. And she gives the BEST hugs.YvonneShoot/RobeNot because of Carrie. She brings a sense of calm to the process along with years of professional production experience. She also appreciates medical misadventures and body issues. One more safe person.

Photo Credit: Yvonne Polk

Photo Credit: Yvonne Polk

Why the Butterflies?

Because I’m still figuring out how to move as my body, mind, and soul find their way back into sync.

Because it’s been weeks since I’ve practiced yoga — and my muscles know it and show it. I just started my period. I’ve tried to cancel my monthly subscription, but no luck! So hormones have me sensitive and bloated. And, oh yeah, I’m over fifty. Top that off with feeling like a Woman In Pieces as I wrote here. Yes, butterflies swell to the size of bats that might burst out through my still-healing chest.

Butterflies most of all because I’m still in the trenches of a personal campaign to celebrate and honor my body. As it is. Celebrate and honor my body As It Is. (Yes, I wrote that twice.) This is tough slogging because culturally, a woman’s body is discussed in two broad categories:

  1. As a morality measure: to be seen/objectified, or not seen/kept secret, approved, shamed, used sexually (and judged), criticized, and always to be fixed.
  2. As a clinical specimen: to be regulated, examined**, diagnosed, treated, and often to be fixed. **For interesting reading on this idea, read more here.

Without thought I absorbed these views early in life. Someone in my family of origin cemented them with frequent comments about appearances — mine, or any other female — positive or negative. It was always open season for visual critique.

I spent years feeling self-conscious, self-critical, body-hating, fleetingly pretty, or ashamed.

Or I related to my physical self like one more impersonal responsibility — similar to a car that required fuel, cleaning, maintenance, and the occasional major repair.

Body as Home

Somewhere around 40 I began longing for more — a new category, a different kind of relationship with my body. Something beyond moral or clinical. Something holistic, more whole, even holy.

I didn’t recognize the longing at first, and didn’t have a word or phrase for it. But now, as I speak the word H O M E, I know. This is what I’ve been seeking.

My body is my home.” ~ R. Waring-Crane

Yes, you may quote me. 😀

My body plays a vital role in how I show up in the world as me. I see my body — scarred, healing, strong, fragile, bloated, responsive, aging, surprising — as a place of safety, a form of expression, a vehicle of wholeness, the location of my mind and soul, a trusted source of communication — informing me about how I feel as well as expressing who I am to others.

In the process of helping myself come into sync & building my relationship with my body as H O M E, I rely on the natural body-mind connection. Yogis get the body-mind connection. But in case that’s too woo-woo for you, meet Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School. Cuddy argues that Our bodies change our minds. She supports this claim with fascinating findings about the relationship between the body and mind in a TED Talk she gave in 2012. She’s especially interested in power dynamics. Those who feel powerful & empowered — confident, optimistic, apt to think more abstractly — take up space like this:

a might girl :)

and like this:

arms flung wide in joy

Those who feel powerless — unworthy, helpless, vulnerable — shrink like this:

IMG_9096

or like this — me two days after successful thymectomy surgery:

hands over heart

These physical expressions don’t only indicate how powerful or powerless you feel. By choosing how you pose, how you move your body, you can alter your sense of power. (Cuddy proves this by measuring hormone levels — testosterone and cortisol.) The body changes the mind.

I am the Butterfly

For this afternoon’s photo shoot, I’m taking up space. I’m using my body to nurture my mind. Claiming my body, my home, as my own, I tap into my own quiet power. I am the butterfly emerging from my post-surgery cocoon, unfurling my wings. My still-tender scar highlights the midline right over my heart.

As Yvonne’s camera catalogues my body and Carrie’s camera captures both of us, I honor the still-healing, sometime-hurting miracle I call H O M E. I celebrate My Body as My Home. My movements may be grand gestures of celebration, or small, intimate poses of appreciation. All of them nurturing. All of them empowering. All of them ways of saying to myself, Welcome Home


Do you feel at home in your body? Would you like a small guide or ebook to help you find your way H O M E? Let me know in the comments or by email. I’d love to create something for you!

 

5 Responses to My Body as My Home

  1. wilabea94 August 22, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    Curious about the study’s cortisol levels; trying to remember if that was the hormone making weight loss difficult. So an increase in cortisol in a shrinking space holder mindset continue s a poor self image weight gain loop, while a decrease in cortisol in a powerful mindset breaks the negative self image cycle?

    • Rebecca Waring-Crane August 22, 2015 at 10:33 am #

      I’m still learning about cortisol. Here’s a site that helps: https://www.adrenalfatigue.org/cortisol-adrenal-function
      With a chicken or egg question — which comes first — I appreciate Cuddy’s argument that we can intentionally step into the cycle, choose how we show up/stand/pose, and change our body chemistry. Very cool!

      So happy the body as home idea resonates with you! xo

  2. wilabea94 August 22, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    Also, I like the idea of thinking of my body as home!

  3. Bridget Tucker August 22, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    I’m in tears as I read the Truth about this body we call home. Thank you for expressing so honestly and beautifully what is so important for all of us to know. Love the photo of the young girl who knows that Truth!

    • Rebecca Waring-Crane August 22, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

      You are so welcome, Bridget. Thank YOU for letting me know these words found a safe place to rest in you.

      The young girl on the rocks — I love that pictures too! I took several shots of her as she struck poses, totally at ease in her own skin. She stirred my heart with delight. We all started there. Finding the way back, that’s our calling. <3

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