In My Own Skin: Women, Bodies and Beauty

by Chrysula on August 12, 2011 in listening,women,work life balance

Blogger Stephanie Nielson and her husband Christian crashed in the Utah desert in a small aircraft in 2008. Both were badly burned, Stephanie sustained injuries to 80% of her body and to date has endured innumberable surgeries in her healing journey.

She and fellow bloggers held a panel discussion on Saturday at BlogHer, a gathering of 3,600 people (95% women) to talk about women, writing, media and the business of blogging.

I had some phenomenal moments during my time at the event–rich conversations with women I love and respect, professional connections, and inspiration at many turns. But the take away that is compelling me today is one moment in Stephanie’s panel about “Owning Your Body” and changing the conversation and culture around beauty.

In her soft voice, her battle scars anchoring her message, Stephanie challenged us to stop obsessing about ourselves and look outwards to serve and to give.

I think we worry too much about ourselves. I think we spend too much time talking about our problems… we need to look out to other people…that’s where it all starts…once you have love for other people, you have love for yourself.

Most often we are told the exact opposite, because women do give so much to others, and often forget to fill their own wells. That selflessness to the point of personal suffering is not what Stephanie was saying.

Let me illustrate. My dear friend and inspiration, April Perry, Co-Founder of the www.powerofmoms.com and I shared a hotel room on Friday night. We had an exhausting day. April is gifted at listening to her body and knowing how to renew and rejuvenate. Instead of checking email or unpacking or calling or worrying, she dumped her bags and immediately lay on the bed for about 15 mins to breathe, relax and rest. She gently chided me as I did all the other things listed above!

Finally I paid attention and followed suit. After she had breathed from her proverbial oxygen mask, April plopped down on the end of my bed to give me a foot massage. Surprised and perhaps even a little uncomfortable at being attended to in this way, I started to protest, but realized April wanted to give and I needed to receive. As we talked and shared and both in our own ways, relaxed, I gave thanks.

We later readied ourselves for our evening events, strangely nonplussed over the fashion frenzy brewing around us. We felt rested, renewed and confident. April’s gift to me, combined with having just attended a gathering of ONEMoms to see the ABC news broadcast about their trip to Kenya had placed me firmly outside of myself and focused on others.

I was at peace, completely comfortable in my own skin. That’s real beauty. And true power.

When You Wake Up A Mother… You Wake Up the World is the name of my (in progress) first book and new blog launching in September 2011. More to come. Your first time here? Please subscribe (options top left of the page) or follow me here to keep in touch. Thrilled to have you stop by, please visit again

{ 1 comment }

Anonymous August 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Chrysula, you are so sweet.  It was an absolute pleasure to be with you.  You honestly made my experience at BlogHer wonderful.  I love how well you remember people’s names, how easily you befriend others, and how genuinely kind you are.  I will give you a foot massage any time :)

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