A body in pictures

Last night, my brother emailed us photos from Easter weekend. I watched the slide show before heading for bed, smiling at the way his youngest reminds me so much of him and wishing we didn’t live so far apart. This morning I pulled Ada on my lap and we looked at them together. She loves all of her cousins and has a special bond with my brother’s oldest, who is 3 months younger than she is.

At the end of the slideshow, I clicked on another photo album from when the girls were little and gasped when I saw this photo.

Ada and I in 2009

Ada and I in 2009

I think it was taken before I was pregnant with Ben. Before I put on the additional weight from a broken leg and bed rest. Even so, I hardly recognized myself. Steve and I looked at each other as Ada piped up, “You look different mama.” He asked her what seemed different about me. She paused for half a second and replied, “Your nose!” I burst into tears and laughter at the same moment, kissing her on the head, holding her tight.

Sometimes change is so gradual we don’t see how far we’ve come in our daily lived moments. I don’t have many pictures of me from that time. I hated how I looked, how I felt, how big and tired I was all the time. After Ben died and I was 203 pounds of pain and grief, I realized accepting myself – loving myself – exactly how I was, was my path to health. But I still didn’t want any pictures taken. I wanted to remember those years with words, not photos.

In my head I know I’ve lost over 65 pounds and have kept it off for more than a year. At 41 I feel better than I have since I stopped dancing professionally at 21. When I stand in front of the mirror at Zumba or Nia class, my jaw sometimes drops at the me that looks back. Seeing myself in this picture, it was as though I traveled through time, re-experiencing the grief and healing of the last years in the space of a second.

Tonight I send a whispered, tear-stained thank you to my son, for being my biggest teacher, to my body, for thriving in spite of the scars, and to my daughter for seeing me with eyes of love. I am blessed.

Ada and I in 2013

Ada and I in 2013

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6 Responses to A body in pictures

  1. Roos says:

    Yes you are blessed. And you know what, I don’t think it’s about the weight – at least not the physical weight, the pounds, the numbers. I have gone through the same thing: shedding the weight, feeling better than ever ironically at a point in my life where everything is upside down, not being able to believe that it is actually Me who stares back from that mirror. I think it’s about letting go. Not holding, not clinging, but releasing. Thát is what shows in the end (and your nose of course ;-)).

    • Alana says:

      Roos – you’re so right. The weight loss was a nice side benefit but it was never about that. For me, it was a desire to be healthy and I think I was finally ready to stop protecting myself from the world. xoxo

  2. Our bodies do hold grief and pain in their own way. Congratulations on the weight loss, and most especially for smiling when you look in the mirror.

    • Alana says:

      Our bodies hold everything. I think that’s one reason why returning to dance has been so important for me. It feels funny to share photos of the weight loss because I had to learn to love myself where I was first, and focusing on the weight feels like I’m judging it. And I was, but only because my body didn’t feel good carrying it. I truly believe bodies are beautiful at any size when the person inside feels beautiful. So thank you…my proudest accomplishment is that smile. xoxo

  3. pamela says:

    Wow. I knew you lost weight but that’s amazing!! I left Ventura in 2010 so I remember you as the first picture. I always thought you were incredibly beautiful and that hasn’t changed. I see your “you”-ness in both photos and that is also what I find so beautiful. Your soul has always shown, but now in a smaller package:)

    I so appreciate this because as you know I am behind you, gasping to catch up but grateful to have your footprints to follow. xoxo

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