As the new year gets underway, the annual tradition of making resolutions has me wondering what my own resolutions for 2012 should be and thinking generally about self-improvement. Every time I go into a forward fold in yoga lately, I'm reminded that I am overdue for a pedicure. Cancer puts so much of how you look out of your control (although I can't blame my chipped toenail polish on cancer). In a strange twist of irony, I am so much less critical of my appearance now that I'm bald and about to lose my breasts.
I haven't always been easy on myself.
Exhibit A: I have been in a fight with my body hair for as long as I can remember. And for most of my adult life, the hair had been winning by a landslide. This battle has cost me more time and money on waxing and laser hair removal and depilatories than our government has spent on the war in Iraq. Who knew my victory was shrouded in a heavy chemo cocktail? Because I have ZERO body hair at the moment. Take THAT, razor burn. Unfortunately, the one thing I'm most self-conscious about now is that I have no eyebrows.
Exhibit B: The week after Quinn was born, when my belly was still black and purple, bruised and swollen around my c-section incision, I stood naked in front of the full-length mirror in our bedroom and cried. (New mamas, don't do this. Hormones are running rampant through your system and your body has just been beat to shit. Nothing good will come of doing what I did.) In that same bout of self-pity, I asked Chris if he'd ever be attracted to me again. Poor guy.
Fast forward to a few weeks after my diagnosis. I had a quiet moment to soak in a bath for the first time since I'd been pregnant and took a quick inventory. The faint pink scar low on my abdomen is barely visible. My post-nursing boobs are more like a pair of battered and worn-out running shoes than the sparkling new heels you wear to the dance. My hips are wider now than before Quinn, my stomach softer. And all I could think as the warm water pooled around me was that I'm totally okay with it all - the scars, the softness, the imperfections; I just want to be healthy.
So what are my resolutions for the new year? Be less critical, for one. Appreciate my body for what it can DO - give birth, beat cancer, run marathons, hike Camelback a week out from chemo - rather than how it looks; looks are so very fleeting, and so out of my control anymore. And normally, I would resolve to exercise more or eat healthier (both on my list again, actually), but this year my goals are driven so much more by vitality than vanity.