Day 97: If the jeans fit: A love letter to my abs.

I’m happy to report (in case anyone was keeping track) that today was much better than yesterday. That shouldn’t have been difficult– but let’s go ahead and celebrate the small things.

There was rain on and off but we had some time outside and of course there was play doh and legos and all the normal shenanigans.

It was however the third day this week that as a result of some unexpected thing, I did not get outside for my morning walk.

Yesterday I felt jumpy the whole morning. Kind of agitated–Like I’d had too much caffeine. Today I had the same thing. I put two and two together and realized: Maybe I have energy that needs to get out of me each day and if it doesn’t find its productive pathway out, it just bounces around inside, making me feel uneasy and question my life choices. For a second or two I started to beat myself up about it. Why should I have to exercise every day to feel good? I complained. But then I answered myself, Well some people take pills everyday to feel good, at least all you have to do is go outside and walk. And then I got over it.

I’ve shared many benefits of my daily walks but today I want to report on the more practical aspects: 97 days of walks and pilates exercises will help your clothes to fit better.

I didn’t take before and after photos and I never got on a scale. I still drank some bubbly cocktail or had a scoop of ice cream nearly everyday but my jeans fit now. My favorite pair of summer jeans from when I was still a ballerina and I wasn’t anyone’s Mama. That’s the photo I wish I had taken—the smile on my face when I pulled them on and closed the button.

Admittedly, I have a belly button hernia from my 2 adorable baby bellies and I have that irritating abdominal muscle separation. But three months of consistent exercise have made a huge improvement–Like when I flex the muscles my stomach is flat again. I’m more flexible and it’s easy to move like it once was.

I ask myself though: Should my belly look like it once did? It isn’t the belly it once was.

Don’t get too excited, my belly doesn’t look like it used to. I have two little stretch marks. Just two. They are tiny but they have names: Big Sister and Little Bean. I don’t resent them. I would not trade the girls in for my old stomach…but I do miss it.

It was originally trained to hold me together. To keep me upright and centered for endless turns on the tops of my toes, to help me land high jumps. To make the illusion of height for a person so diminutive. Those muscles helped me to bend and twist, to support myself and my partners.

And it was pretty for a stomach. I did not appreciate its beauty nearly enough. I didn’t admire my 25, even 35-year-old ab muscles the way I might have. I didn’t take even one gratuitous, naked stomach selfie, and boy do I regret it now!

Although she was trained for something else entirely, in the last six years she took on a new assignment: To shelter, nourish and hold lives–to expand, grow, stretch and somehow remain strong. She was equally as diligent and absolutely a natural at this new work but the results of this kind of work look different than the job before and I’m not 35 anymore–like it or not.

Still, the walks have done something else for me, they’ve made me feel like it’s ok that I’ve transformed into something else, that I’m not a ballerina anymore.

I have carried this bizarre hope mixed with an irrational fear that I’ll find the time to get back into my pointe shoes, into the studio to rehearse some pas de deux with a partner (who of course in this fantasy/nightmare hasn’t aged at all) and I won’t be what I was. I’ve carried this around for nearly 10 years. I’ve always felt this pressure to get back into ballerina shape. I haven’t been able to shake it…until now.

This might be something my mom likes to call Acceptance. I’m pretty sure it is. But I hope it’s even more than that, not simply accepting things as they are but intentionally contributing to the creation of what they will be, without judgement. Looking, not back but forward with seeing eyes of kindness.

Stay strong until tomorrow,