The sun was hot on my skin, but the air was cool and I was sitting on a beach with a good friend. It was one of those rare days when I had chosen to ignore what I should have been doing. A little mental vacation for me. We were lazily staring out at the rippling water, allowing our conversation to drift from one topic to the next and back again, loosely weaving the individual wanderings of our minds together the way old friends tend to do. She said, “I wish I could be that woman who gets up early, walks down to the beach in her fluffy white robe, throws it off and dives into the cool water for an early morning swim every day.”
I knew exactly what my friend meant. I know “that woman.” I want to be her too.
What makes that woman so serene and peaceful? How does she pull herself out of bed early every day? What makes her leave the comfort of that cozy robe to dive into cool water? How does she find the time to wash and dry her hair every single day?
I can give myself excuses for not being that woman. I don’t happen to live on the water. Or own a fluffy white robe. Or have time to do my hair everyday. But that doesn’t mean I can’t capture the essence of what I admire about that woman and bring some of it into my own life.
The feeling of expansiveness. Freedom of movement. Safety in nature. Self-determination.
Sometimes, creating change in ourselves is easier if we can imagine who we want to be. Conjuring up an idealized version of ourselves in great detail can help us see where to make the small adjustments needed to get closer to the goal.
I am all for self-acceptance, but not if it means giving up. Trying to come to peace with the incremental wrinkles and sags of a middle-aged body seems to be the best course. Giving ourselves excuses for not doing or feeling what we want to be doing or feeling seems like a cop-out. If you look closely, there are many different ways to be “that woman” who is idealized in your mind.
You can even be “that woman” if you really want to be. It just depends on how much you want to be her.
I have been trying to get to bed earlier so I can wake up earlier. I love opening the doors and windows to that early morning coolness, and wearing a shawl over my shoulders while I drink my warm tea, nestled in my favorite chair. I love hearing the birds and sitting and thinking in my quiet house before the day begins. I wish I were that woman who swims or runs several miles before the sun is up, but I haven’t been able to get myself to leave my cozy house in the morning. Clearly, I do not want it enough. Yet. So instead, I incent myself to do lunges and sit-ups in my living room with the reward of a cozy chair, writing in my journal, and warm tea. I am not “that woman” yet, but I have found ways to be my own plenty perfect version of her.
What qualities do you want to incorporate into your life?