The Naked Face Project: I Don’t Believe in Coincidence: March 13, 2012

You are not here by accident.  Something brought you here.

First of all, let me give a shout out to my new friends in Iceland, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.  Both Caitlin and I have been amazed by the response and interest in this conversation.  I know that I have been personally moved by the dialogue with my “overseas” sisters.  Thank you for being here…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately…about WHAT this conversation is really about.  There is so much irony in the conversation.  So much of the media coverage has been an attempt to sensationalize the effort. Much ado about the hairy legs, pits and eybrows and while these things are interesting perhaps…they are part of our body and frankly not something in and of itself all that sensational.  I mean, we all have body hair.  🙂

Also…at least for Caitlin and me, there is no “effort”, no “cause”, no “agenda” here.  Caitlin and I are surely not anti-cosmetic or anti-fashion. We are two of the most non-anti-people you will ever meet. (Case in point…the most interesting part of this will be what we add back, when this is over.  I do know that I am really missing my jewelry.  In examining the jewelry I own…I realize that much of it does have meaning for me:  my mother’s engagement ring, a gift from my daughter, a homemade necklacee from a girl in Girls on the Run.)

We are simply examining our own habits.  Intrigued by the rich conversation beneath, we tossed out the idea for folks who, like us, have found the simplicity of this question somehow…not really all that simple.  It’s like the four degrees of why.  We start with Why Do I Wear Makeup and then are pulled into this lengthy series of why’s that eventually lead to this complex conversation about aging, power, self-worth and a whole host of other things I never expected!!

One thing, though, of which I am absolutely certain.  You are not visiting this blog, this conversation, this question by accident.  You are here and so am I…because there is something in it that brought us here, together.

Life is like that.  Nothing ever happens by accident.

In 1993, after just giving birth to my son Hank…someone gave me the book “Reviving Ophelia.”  The author, Mary Pipher, was the first to really examine and research the emotional, mental and physical challenges facing teen girls…not just at the surface level…but how so much of the challenges they were up against really were playing havoc with their self-worth.

At the time this book was given to me, I was only one year sober.  I had just completed my last Ironman triathlon…knowing that it would be my last.

I was also a brand new mother…a bit unsteady and a lot in transition.  Giving birth to my son…it’s as if the world, peered out from behind a corner I had never even seen and shouted at me “Hey you…yeah you the new mother…look over here.  About time you gave me some attention.  I’m struggling over here.  How about you lend me a hand?  It’s not like you’ve ever done anything about me before.” There was a lot I didn’t like about the world but there was also a whole lot about it I was learning to love, especially looking through the new context provided by sober eyes and a brand new baby, and while I couldn’t change all the things I didn’t like about the world, what I could do was change the one I lived in…the little tiny one that surrounded me…the one I saw on my way to the grocery store, along the greenway where I ran and of course, the one that lived inside of me.

And so I did what I could within that eight foot world around me.  I read a few books, daydreamed a lot, journaled, danced to music whenever possible, sang loudly in the car, smiled at strangers, nursed my son, ate chocolate without feeling one ounce of guilt, built fires in the fireplace in the dead of summer, went to bed when I felt like it and woke up when I felt like it too, kept my eyes open and just waited.  I waited because I knew, even then, that something was coming along.  Maybe it was hope or faith or just some kind of clingy-pollyanna-ish, puppy-dog-eye-ish optimism that led me to believe so, but I remember feeling a powerful sense of anticipation…like at any moment I would walk into a room and whatever IT was would jump out from behind the furniture, throw lots of confetti into space and scream “Surprise, I’m here.”

I’m feeling a lot like that right now.  Like something bigger is underway here in this conversation…like maybe, maybe beneath the surface of this small and seemingly unimportant thing we all do, is a chance for women to share love with each other…to understand where we are coming from…that we really are all in this boat together…each of us exploring, yearning, seeking, wondering, hoping, wishing, believing…at our own pace, but all along the very same continnum.

Yesterday, I was in yoga.  I practice yoga probably three times per week.  We were 3/4 of our way through the class, when the teacher offered us the chance to move into the “inversion of your choice.”  An inversion is anything that gets you upside down…shoulder stand, headstand, handstand, happy baby (name of a pose.)  I moved slowly into shoulder stand.

Next to me (and I admit…my yoga practice is better when I keep my attention to myself and what I’m doing, but yesterday for whatever reason, I was drawn to the woman on the mat next to me) a young woman, probably in her mid 20’s, slowly moved into the “prep position” for headstand.

She placed her hands on her mat, her head next and then slowly edged her feet up toward her head.  She then attempted to lift both feet off the ground, but was too unsteady and so she lifted one foot off the ground…then the next.  She held the pose for less than three seconds, dropped back down, trembling, and began again.  The whole time I was steadily holding my shoulder stand, she was attempting to get into her headstand.

I found msyelf secretly cheering her on…hearing me internally shouting “atta girl” and “rock on with your amazing self.”  I was so inspired by her willingness to just keep at it…keep trying…keep staying within the process.  She never held the pose…never made it to headstand, but it was in her attempt that I found her bravery, courage and joy.

I am 51 and have covered much life.  I can look back at the landscape of the experiences offered to me and see that each one, is brilliantly evolving me, growing me, nudging me gently toward something beautiful.  And so my friend, that is what I believe this whole thing is about…really.  Our shared experience in trying to find our center with so many conflicting messages about womanhood, motherhood, our sexuality, our bodies, our lives…the humanness of it.  Whether we lift one foot, both feet, or just go full steam into it, I know that what I do and what you do is perfect…just as it is.

So…what brought you here?  What intrigues you about this conversation?  Why?

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2 Responses to The Naked Face Project: I Don’t Believe in Coincidence: March 13, 2012

  1. Sydney says:

    I am here because I like fashion. While on a fashion website, there was an article supporting the Naked Face Progect. I was intrigued, and I decided to check it out. When I read this blog, I was moved to tears. I was a severly insecure teenager who never felt accepted. I had many doubts about my own appearence, and how others saw me. I wish that someone had told me all of these things. I used makeup almost obsessively to cover any ‘blemish’ or imperfection.
    I feel that after reading your blog, I have been able to feel better about myself. I have embarked on my own “Naked Face” project, with many similarities. This is somewhat hard for me as a young student, because I am constantly interacting with people, and sometimes it’s hard to accept that others are looking at me as I am, and as I was created to look. You have inspired me, and I thank you tremendously for it. 🙂

    • Sydney…thank you so much for writing me. And as far as fashion goes…girl work it! GO WHERE YOUR JOY IS!

      I’ve learned to listen to my heart and do as it leads me…but I’m also a lot older. It took me a while to get here. I just keep thinking if someone had told me when I was so much younger…to know my real strength is in who I am and what I do…not how I look.

      I do promise you that the world will receive you with an open heart…easiest when you are just yourself.

      Big love to you.

      Molly

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