A few months ago, I was listening to A Prairie Home Companion which is a public radio program most widely known for their Lake Wobegon bit where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” I catch this show occasionally on NPR when I am driving on the weekends, but I never got around to finding out specifically when it aired. I enjoy the happenstance of it because I love the show and I am always entertained, so it’s like a fun surprise when I find it. My favorite bit is when they tell a story and pair it with sound effects that are incredible to listen to. Really makes the story unfold before your very….ears. One of the funniest I’ve heard is titled “Rhubarb” which ruthlessly makes fun of Californians, our bizarre eating habits and food allergies. I know my mother-in-law will enjoy that one a little too much. ;) You definitely have to listen to it rather than read it.
One prose poem series struck a deep chord with me though and I haven’t been able to shake it since I heard it in November. It was a four poem series read aloud by the author, Louis Jenkins, and they were each incredible. The final poem resonated with me so much that I have since found myself approaching my self-image in a completely different way.
If you would indulge me and watch the video….rather, if you would click on the video, then close your eyes or turn the image off somehow and just listen to the poems, it will be much more powerful. The video is distracting of where your mind can take it. All of them are great, but I am going to reference the last one. So if you can’t spare 5 minutes to hear the whole thing, then you can start at 4:10…..I would suggest you do yourself a favor and listen to them all. :) Here are the poems:
I love these. Each of them is funny and thought provoking. However, while I was listening to these real time in my car and heard the line “I was never happy with the way I looked” I was immediately overcome with tears and sadness. How many people go through life this way? And for what? I think it’s not exclusively women, either. I think for most of us, self-image is intricately tied to our self-worth. And the negative crap we pour on ourselves day in and day out is exhausting. I don’t like my thighs or my hair is too oily or my face is so covered in acne that no one will want to look at it. I’ve recently watched videos of myself when I was 10 years old and while watching, I started having negative self-talk about how I looked in the video! At age 10! What kind of sickness is that??
I don’t know where this overly critical negative self-talk started or how I got so sucked into it, but ever since I heard that line from Louis Jenkins, I have been seriously reconsidering how I consider myself. I cannot think of anything more sad than never liking how I looked, ever. To have that as a final reflection on my life…..I don’t know, the thought kills me.
It is a practice to look in the mirror with clothes on, clothes off, whatever and directly say “I like how I look today”. It’s a strange feeling being okay with yourself. I’ve felt it emotionally before, and even felt it physically (on the inside) by being “okay” with my colitis. Trying it on with external physical beauty was a whole new and awesome feeling.
Okay, of course, you also don’t want to go around like “Gosh, I’m the prettiest thing ever and I am so much better than everyone since I’m SO gorgeous.” Obviously there’s a balance. It’s like yoga: a non-judgmental look at yourself with zero expectations. You don’t have to hate yourself or how you look; that’s not a pre-requisite for being a good person. Here’s a kooky idea: try on being happy with how you look, even for five minutes. Just as an experiment. Then maybe you’re happy with it for an hour. Then for a few hours. Then maybe, one whole day goes by where you are happy with how you look! Now that’s crazy talk.
At any rate, I still struggle with this concept but whenever I am feeling particularly scathing toward myself, I think if this poem and it puts me back in a better frame of mind. Now if I could only remember what it is I came down to the basement for….
ALISA’S RECIPE CORNER
Instead of music, I’ll mix it up today with a recipe for plant-based lasagna. Plus Vegetable Lasagna always makes me think of Seinfeld and laugh. I made this the other day for a potluck and it was actually good! Took a lot of time; this is not a “quick and easy” recipe because you have to create the noodles by hand from the squash. But it was delicious. FYI, the “cheese” recipe makes way too much for this lasagna. Do not pour all the extra cheese on the dish…I did that and it overwhelmed everything. Use the directed amount and I’m sure you’ll be fine. There’s a lot of other fun, less time-consuming recipes on the YumUniverse website you can check out too. :)