Letting go of what’s broken

by Karen on April 20, 2015

IMG_5661 - Version 2We’ve been cleaning out some drawers and cabinets lately – a gargantuan task at our house and one that often makes me a bit incredulous.

The weirdest thing we found was a ZipLoc bag full of rumpled napkins I’d written notes on and tucked into our son’s elementary school lunchbox each day. On the plus side, I don’t think he actually ever used a napkin, so they were at least clean. But on the other hand, why did I – or more likely, our now college-age son – save them?

We also found a few things that once had sentimental or monetary value but were now broken. There was the small porcelain box that was the casualty of a loose ball that bounced from the top of the stairs to a chest in our foyer. Sure, I liked that little box, but why did I save the pieces?

I know exactly why I saved the remains of a simple ceramic canister. And I remember vividly the moment – so many years ago – when it slipped from my hands to the kitchen floor. I cried as I picked up the pieces, which had been lovingly adorned with fingerprint animals from my daughter’s kindergarten class.

It got me to thinking about all the other broken things I’ve clung to through the years. I won’t list them all, but as a cancer survivor, here’s one I need to get over: a broken perception of my own healthy, quite capable body.

Like many women, instead of admiring the strength of my body, I seek out the flaws, the broken places. My jiggly, dimpled thighs. The tiny frown line beside my right eyebrow. My duck feet and inconvenient cowlick. The pouch of fat above the surgery scar on my abdomen and those extra 10 pounds I can’t seem to get rid of. The beginnings of – gasp – jowls.

Plus I’m a little bit (OK, a lot bit) clumsy, so I’m forever bumping into stuff and winding up with weird scrapes and bruises.

I used to be proud of my battle wounds. I actually love – and have since I was 14 and water-skied into a pier – the scar that vertically bisects my right shin. But, these days I prefer to hide it, since a roadmap of spider veins has popped up around what used to be a really great story.

My husband and I recently started practicing yoga (and by practicing, I really mean practicing – if there’s a category even less skilled than beginner, we’re in it). Here’s what I love: Even as my jiggly legs tremble as I try to hold a particularly strenuous pose in my uncool, un-yogi-like old T-shirt and loose sweatpants, I feel stronger and even a bit more beautiful for being there. There’s a general attitude of acceptance and calm that is mesmerizing.

Just last week, a friend and I were talking about the unparalleled beauty of older women with their deep wrinkles and speckled hands and baby soft cheeks. Why is it that we can celebrate – only in hindsight, of course, because none of us thinks ourselves beautiful in the moment – our bodies at 20 and our future bodies at 90, but we can’t find much to love about them right now?

Sorry, but I don’t think I’ll ever learn to love my cellulite or my spider veins or even that frown line that was borne more of concentrating on good books in bad light than actual frowning. But maybe I can try to remember the way I sometimes feel right after yoga or a walk with a good friend. Maybe I can focus on the many times I’ve made my family laugh or the way my soon-to-be-husband looked at me as I walked down the chapel aisle.

I put the shards of that pretty little porcelain box in the wastebasket without much thought. It was tougher to throw away the broken pieces of the ceramic kindergarten canister. But I did.

Sometimes, we just have to let go of what is broken and focus on what is whole and healed and good.


Vicki Miller April 20, 2015 at 10:17 am

Thank you for your always insightful words. You nailed my thoughts so beautifully. Too often I concentrate on the flaws or broken pieces – always wishing I
had taken better care of me and “things”
Thank you for your words of wisdom!! I’ll try to get in the spring cleaning of soul and body soon by remembering your words!
Anytime you want a walk partner and Rose Marie isn’t home, call me 336-889-3399

Karen April 20, 2015 at 11:02 am

Thank you, Vickie! It’s so nice to know others feel the same way. Always love seeing you in the neighborhood and would love to take a walk some time.

Donnie West April 21, 2015 at 11:19 am

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