I live in Arizona, where the summers are indescribably hot. Novelties like cups and t-shirts with this sentiment are common:
This is how that sentiment makes me feel:
Suffice to say, I am ecstatic to see September finally arrive. It’s been a long, hot summer. To make it worse, I’ve been experiencing the internal hell of perimenopausal hot flashes. Half the time I feel like I’m filled with red-hot lava. The other half of the time, I’m picking myself up from where I collapsed, due to the lava.
Anyway, enough with the silliness. Yesterday, Labor Day, I gave the house a good fall cleaning and saw my face in the mirror, as if for the first time in months. I was shocked by how old and tired I looked. It reminded me of a summer, years ago, when I experienced something similar. I wrote about it in my book, Shape Shifting–reclaiming your perfect body. Here is an excerpt:
I happen to have an example of shape shifting from real life to show what I’m talking about.
A recent summer was a rough one, one that made me look and feel really old. On top of our everyday lives, with their everyday stressors, my husband Jeff and I experienced several explosive events, the kinds that individually would have been enough to make anybody cry out to the heavens, “God, why do you hate me?” In addition, we were physically exhausted after, due to those events, living for three months in the Florida summer with no air conditioning and moving from one house to another twice! I also had a job that brought me to tears on a fairly regular basis because it was so disgusting and loathsome. You wouldn’t believe the details if I told you, but take my word for it: this was an exceedingly painful few months—one of the hardest periods of my entire life.
After we moved for the final time, and things seemed to have settled down, I finished unpacking and finally breathed a sigh of relief in our new, air-conditioned place. With a fresh perspective and newly reopened eyes, I caught my reflection in the mirror and was horrified by what I saw. There were deep lines in my face that looked as though they had been etched in with a chisel and a heavy hand. I was pale and wan, and had dark circles under my eyes. My hair was dull and frizzy and I was all hunched over, like a beaten dog. In addition, my body ached all over. I was actually frightened by how much I had aged in such a brief time.
It suddenly occurred to me what had happened. I had allowed all of the “external” events and circumstances to take their toll on my physical body. Honestly, in retrospect, I don’t think I could have prevented it because I was so deeply immersed in the hell that had become my life—I felt very distant from my soul that summer. However, I realized that, in that brief period of time, I had packed years worth of living and learning into a concentrated package. I had previously, and impatiently, asked for accelerated spiritual growth and I got it! I may have matured ten years mentally, emotionally and spiritually, but I didn’t have to let it show physically! So I decided to see if I could erase it from my face, just for fun. No harm in trying, right?
I didn’t really expect it to work. I was mostly just goofing around. I was feeling good, with all of the drama behind me, and was finally comfortable, safe and able to relax. It was more of a lighthearted effort with no real process. I simply decided to relax my muscles and let go of all the stress. I reminded myself to smile and to rejoice in the fact that all was well again. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply, allowing the inner me to come forth.
Much to my amazement, it worked! As I opened my eyes and watched my face in the mirror, the lines went away and my color returned to normal. The hag in the mirror was magically transformed into the youthful and energetic person that I remembered being, a long time ago (three months ago). Lest you think it was just my imagination, Jeff even noticed the difference, when he came home later. He agreed that it looked like ten years had been removed. He had good reason for saying that—it had been removed!
“Big deal,” you say? It was a big deal. Remember how, when you were little, your mom told you not to make faces because your face might stick that way? She didn’t realize how right she was. If I hadn’t released the stress, and had continued to carry it around with me, my face would have indeed frozen that way and carried that age with it for the rest of my life—or at least until such time as I chose to release it.
This may seem like an elementary example, but it’s a perfect one. The point is, this is what I’m talking about—our thoughts, worries, actions and lives in general do have an affect on our bodies! Maybe it’s time we started to pay attention to what we’re creating in every moment!
I was surprised to discover that the same thing had happened, again. The details of this past summer were different from the one I wrote about, but I still saw myself in the mirror looking old and wretched.
So what I decided to do, as I cleaned that mirror, was to imagine that my Windex/rag combo was wiping away all of the damage done to my face. I allowed myself to relax and let go of the stress of the summer. I reminded myself that cooler weather is on its way, and I watched some of the age and worry drain fade away.
It really does work. Give it a try sometimes.