A few days ago, C and I were at a wedding and another guest we just met was discussing his family and kids and asked if we were planning on having any kids, then said "jokingly" that if we were, we should probably get started soon (again noting that I am getting closer to 30). Once more I told myself that this perfect stranger only meant well, but why is it okay for anyone, especially someone I just met, to comment on my age and body and life plans like that?
Today I took the day off for my birthday, but made no plans. I puttered around the house a bit, drank too much coffee and spent too much time on the internet, but then I felt called outside. I drove through the city to one of my favorite spots, Sweetwater Creek, for a walk in the woods. I've become birthday spoiled, the past few years I have spent my birthday surrounded by breathtaking beauty in Glacier National Park, and last week I savored the amazing rolling hills and vineyards of N. Cali wine country and the awe-inspiring Redwoods. Today I felt a little snobbish as I approached Sweetwater, noting how small the trees looked and how thick and hot the air felt. But as I started on my trail, under the shade of the oak trees and thick mountain laurel, I felt at home. My walk slowly turned into a run, just because it felt so good to move my body through the familiar forest. My feet hit the ground and seemed to bounce back up from the layer of fallen pine straw atop thick Georgia red clay. My breath and heart beat played louder in my ears as sweat formed along my brow, like condensation on a tall glass of iced tea in the summer heat. The cicadas and crickets sung a soundtrack atop the trickling of the creek. I felt my belly (softer than usual from indulging on a vacation diet made up mostly of red wine, cheese, lemon tarts, cappuccinos, ice cream, and pizzas) come along for the ride of my jog, jiggling gleefully under my t-shirt and running shorts, and for the first time in my life, I was okay with it. Instead of feeling disappointed, my soft belly reminded me of the amazing trip I had just experienced with my love. This body, much like the trail itself has had its ups and downs, highs and lows. I've struggled all of my life with body image and eating issues, and will most likely continue to. But today I am celebrating this body. I am reminded of my years from markings that are linked to memories, like that scar on my thigh from a bug bite in South Africa, or the cut on my second toe from a rock in the lake at Girl Scout camp, or the three tattoos I have that each remind me of a very specific place and time in my life. There are also the markings on my heart, everything from joyful adventures saved to replay, and painful memories that linger and resurface every now and then. This body continues to carry me through life, whatever explorations I get into.
I stopped along the river to lay on a rock and watch the water go by. There are places where water turns white as it rushes over and through rocks in the way. At the same time, in the same body of water, there are places so still you see all the little tiny bugs landing like pin pricks on the surface. Again, I am reminded by nature how varied and amazing our life is. When we can find the beauty whether the water is rapid and exciting, or peaceful and still, our hearts will be full.