With the new year comes reflection, letting go, and intention. It’s a time to look back on the last year and beyond, ruminate on what worked, what didn’t, where we began, how we’ve grown. It’s a time to love ourselves and to move forward in ways that support our growth. An area in which women (and men!) have struggled to find love for ourselves is in our appearance, our weight, meeting society’s standards. How many years have you or someone you know made your resolution about losing weight? I think it’s time that we make new New Year’s resolutions, ones that push us forward in healthy, purposeful ways.

One Richmond woman who has done just that is Joni Advent Maher. She is the founder of Revolutionary Heart, where she guides women in finding the resources and support to cultivate greater ease and empowerment in their lives and businesses. She composed an article speaking to her own struggle in appearance and self-love; a journey that took her from anxiously self-critical to full of self-love, appreciation, and fullness.

 

“You are and ever will be evolving in the full radiance of your wisdom, power and beauty.”

-Joni Advent Maher

Read her story:

This is what my fullness looks like. That’s what I realize when I look at my new photos for my website.

When I had the photos taken in July I was well aware I had inched up and over the number on the scale I’m most comfortable at. I was also aware it being summer time more of me would be exposed.

I was okay with that prospect. And yet when the photos returned and I saw the reality looking back at me it took some adjustment.

“This is what my fullness looks like.”

Okay. So what’s the problem?

The problem is I was raised in a culture that worships flat abs, tight butts and sculptured, toned, youthful bodies. Unless you’ve been living in a remote village in the Amazon you probably were too.  

I was raised to believe the image and form were the most important thing. And my value as a woman was linked to looking good, sexy and attractive. Coupled with my sexuality, attractiveness was my real source of power.

That’s what I came to believe and what shaped my relationship with my body since hitting puberty just over 40 years ago.

Now that’s just sad. And wrong.

But, it’s what I really believed. For years.

So naturally, the drive to keep my body looking a certain way was quite strong – including a very intense inner critic to point out my flaws and keep me in line. After all, on some level I believed my survival depended on it.

Transforming all that has been one long walk out of the woods.

I have been on a conscious path of growth for the last 30 years and the distorted thinking can still arise within me from time to time.

But collectively – especially as women – we are under siege about our bodies on a daily basis – it’s everywhere. Those messages about needing gorgeous hair, white teeth, younger looking skin, the newest thing to get your abs flat and butt tight – so no wonder it still comes up for me or any of us.

I used to hold in my stomach chronically as a girl and young woman, part of it was my anxiety but some of it was trying to improve my silhouette. It affected my ability to take a full breath and I wasn’t living fully living in my body. I was cut off from my true power source – my embodied essence.

To open to our fullness we must first and foremost live in our body. And give ourselves the space and freedom to breath, taste and touch life.

Fitness is fine and well when it comes from a place of fullness and not our lack. When we can lavish our body with love and care and honor her as our Sacred home. Rather than see her as something that must be controlled, shaped, perfected.

Fullness is about finding the joy in moving your body in ways that bring you alive.

Opening to our full range of emotions we experience in our body.

Daring to claim your space and speak your truth even if your voice shakes.

Owning and sharing your wisdom and gifts.

Cultivating your depth and connection to life.

Recognizing all of the ways you are a leader in your family, community and life.

Celebrating how far you’ve come even as you continue to grow and evolve.

We are not two-dimensional creatures. We are living, breathing, vital and powerfully alive women. And we have real bodies that shift and change as we age.

And this new form serves us as we embody our wise woman years – just as our earlier shape served us in our childbearing years.

And there is a distinctive beauty that comes with inhabiting our full feminine form with Grace and dignity.

As we live from our fullness we become the medicine we are all seeking.

We become the antidote to the viral beliefs fueling our collective fear we’re not enough – or too much.

We do this each time we remember we are more than enough and embody our fullness even as we swim through a collective that tells us otherwise. We do it as we reflect the power and beauty we see in our wise sisters inhabiting their fullness. We do it as we celebrate and support each other. We do it as we show the way for the generations of women and girls who are coming behind us.

I celebrate you in your fullness today!

 

I frequently see these struggles in my line of work. Many people are fearful of having their photos taken, afraid to see the person smiling back at them. Many express wanting to lose X number of pounds before stepping in front of the camera, hoping that happiness and self-acceptance will come only when a certain number has been reached on the scale. I’ve had my own struggles in this area and bring these experiences to my work, where I can deeply relate and guide my clients over those hurdles. I urge you to find love for yourself in places that aren’t reliant on your outward appearance and how we measure up to society’s standards. I urge you to, instead, find love for yourself in your intellect, your resilience, your professional accomplishments, your humanity, and beyond.

This year, rather than making the overdone resolution to lose weight or change ourselves in emotionally unhealthy and strictly superficial ways, let’s put our intentions in a place of love, comfort, and acceptance! Begin 2018 strong, knowing your worth, and with the drive to spread this message of self-love, beginning with practicing it yourself. I would love to hear your new New Year’s Resolutions. Please share them in the comments below!