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Emily Kreiberg

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The Giving Tree

The Tree

I have this feeling lately that I am disappearing.

I feel that as I pour myself into my work, and then my daughter, and then my kitchen, and then my daughter in the bath and in her bedroom, I am completely emptying myself out.

By the time Sadie is asleep and I have the first moments of my day to myself, I am completely empty. I have poured all of my self out and have left not a drip for me.

With this in mind, I spotted a patch of afternoon sunlight on my couch this Sunday on my way to mop my floors, and I headed back from the direction of the mop closet to the couch.

I sat down on it. Closed my eyes. Felt the sun on my face. Tuned out the sounds of Ryan and Sadie and Mika and just enjoyed the feeling of it. Rest. Giving to my self. Sun. Peace.

It felt so good that I whipped out my camera to capture a picture of the moment. Not for anyone else, but to save on my camera roll and remember the last time that I allowed myself a moment of purposeful indulgence.

I felt beautiful in that moment. I took the picture.

And then I looked at it. It scared me. It appalled me, to be honest. I saw things in it that I hadn’t noticed. There are four chins where there used to be one. There are forehead wrinkles far deeper than I remembered them to be. I looked ‘old’.

It got me thinking. I used to take a lot of selfies. I think selfies are the hallmarks of narcissism and vanity for the most part, but I always took my selfies when I was really proud of myself.

When I had finished a 10K. When I had been out hiking. When I had collected beautiful rocks from a river bed. When I had been honouring my body in some way, either by going to the gym or eating well.

I realized it had been a long time since I had wanted to take a selfie. It had been a long time since I have felt proud of myself.

I looked at the photo above and I thought ‘this is an ugly picture. You have too many chins. Too many wrinkles. You’re not wearing makeup and you look too plain. Ew. Delete.’ And then I deleted it. And proceeded to say more mean things to myself like ‘you’ve let yourself go. You’re fat. You’re ugly. No one thinks you’re attractive anymore.’

It was awful. My moment in the sun had turned into a self-bashing parade.

Thankfully, one of my family members took me out of that headspace and I resumed my regular busy-ness.

In the days that followed, my coworker and I launched a New Year’s resolution health plan. It’s great because it’s not punitive. It doesn’t focus on what you aren’t allowed to do; only sets out what you should do.

Since Monday, we’ve been drinking more water, eating more veggies, and doing a 20-minute abs and push-ups workout at lunch hour. It feels So great to be connected to my body again. It feels great to have goals. It feels nice to do the workout and the water-drinking with someone, and to know that we each really value the work that the other person is doing. When I look at her, I see nothing but Beauty. When she looks at me, I’m pretty sure it’s the same.

And that’s why I’m writing this post and putting up this picture. I know in the world of bad pictures I’ve taken of myself, this one doesn’t even come close. There are many photo fails I’ve taken where I’m pretty sure there are at least seven countable chins- but I’m posting this one because it was the first time I can remember myself being so mean to my self. And I think it’s important to recognize every part of the journey. There are days where I’m going to take a selfie and feel really great about it. And there are days when I’m going to be my own worst critic.

If you’re reading this and feel like you have been pouring every last bit of yourself out, I beg you to think of two things you can do each and every day to honour your self. Don’t be so busy giving to everyone else that you forget to give to you. Maybe it’s listening to your audiobook for 20 minutes, maybe it’s walking 2 KM. Maybe it’s drinking less wine and more water. Maybe it’s getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Whatever it is- I beg you to make two things happen each day for your self that are exclusively For You.

The Giving Tree was once beautiful and full of apples and lush leaves. By the end, it was nothing but an old stump for its loved ones to rest their butts upon.

Give as much as you wish to- but save some of your apples for yourself.

Please comment if anything I have said really spoke to you. I quit newspapers becuase they weren't interactive. PLeASE interact. Amen!
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