Last night was a community-wide meeting for my Relay — I saw a number of people I’ve grown to know in the last four years, but whom I haven’t seen since last summer. It was a great meeting; we got a great deal accomplished, collected a massive amount of money, answered a great many questions, and realized that we’re well-prepared to be attending the event just two weeks from Friday. (Thanks again to all of you who made a donation to support my participation! I’ve nearly achieved my (revised) goal, and fully expect to reach it by the time event night rolls around.)

But during last night’s activities, one of the sweetest little old men I’ve ever known, Mr. C, who’s been a huge part of relay and a personal fan of mine for several years pulled me away from the table where I was sorting and lifting stacks of swag for a little side conversation.

Mr C: Melissa, you look wonderful!
Me: I…well, thank you.
Mr. C: You’ve gained just a little weight, haven’t you? You look lovely. I mean, you’ve always looked lovely, but a few years ago, you were a little — gaunt is the right word, I think. You were worn down.
Me: Well, yes — my work included a little more manual labor, so I was more fit. But I wasn’t as careful with my health as I would have liked.
Mr. C: Well right now, you look beautiful. Keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing. And keep enjoying that new job.
Me *laughing* I will, Mr. C. You take care, and I’ll see you in a two weeks.
Mr. C: That you will. Save a picture place for me.

Intellectually, I know that I just received one of the most honest, heart-felt compliments possible from a lovely old gentleman whom I respect greatly. But emotionally, I came home and looked in the mirror, and saw the same face and the same body that I’ve been dissatisfied with for the last four months.

I’ve stopped subscribing to fashion magazines. I don’t watch commercial television. The only movies that I’ve watched more than 20 minutes of in the last six months are period pieces with actresses that look like women, rather than walking sticks. So I don’t know where this sudden obsession with having one particular body shape comes into play. Really, I want to look the way I did at my sister’s wedding, with trim little sides, lither legs, and little hollows around my throat and clavicle. But I don’t want to be going to the gym for 75 minutes every morning, and going without sleep because I’m working such long hours, and skipping meals because I forget to eat — all of which I did for the year preceding that occasion. It’s going to be very hard to rearrange my mental frame of an “acceptable” body image for myself — and I’m not really sure where to begin doing that.

What I do know is that I’m going to take Mr. C to heart — I’m going to “keep doing what I’ve been doing” for the last week, since I’ve been sick, and realized just how desperately out of balance my life has become. I’m going to continue to get a real amount of sleep every night, and see how many days of the week I can allow myself to wake up without an alarm. I’m going to cook dinner, and continue to invite people (like Nana) to come over and share with me. I’m going to put limits on the amount of work I’m willing to do in a day. I’m going to take a walk every day. And I’m going to redevelop my hobbies that involve people and that also have nothing to do with work.

I’ve been seeing fliers around for a kickboxing class that looks pretty cool. I think I’ll see if I can attend a single session, and see if I like it. Rather like being ten again, and trying new things because you hear from someone else that it might be cool. Maybe it’ll be a fun hour.

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