I know I’ve been posting like crazy lately, but I’ve been going through a lot of changes and it helps to blog about them. This weekend I was talking to a friend of mine about my posting “The Only Happy FAT Woman in America“. What surprised me is that she didn’t seem to buy my positive attitude toward my body- like I was just putting on a happy face but deep down inside I hated my body. Nothing I said convinced her, so I dropped the subject.
Why is it so hard to believe that a fat woman could be happy with her body? I don’t know the answer, but I do know I have not always felt this way. In fact, one of my great stumbling blocks in life is worrying about what other people think of me. I used to get torn up inside because I wasn’t as pretty, classy or smart as other girls. Even worse than that, sometimes I would hold myself up against this imaginary picture of what I felt a “classy businesswoman should be like”. Trust me- nothing does more damage than trying to live up to an illusion.
What changed, you ask? As you all know 3 years ago I decided to do something crazy and quit my job. I quit a stable job in a family-owned company- a job I was good at and had been with for 3 years. I had wanted to quit for over a year and finally I couldn’t take it any more. For years I knew I was not behaving in an authentic way- I was not living the life I was meant to live. Instead of following these impressions I ignored them as “crazy talk”. I said to myself, “How can I quit my job without something to fall back on?” and yet I knew it was the right thing to do. Following that prompting was one of the hardest and most thrilling things I have ever done. It meant stepping into the unknown. It meant doing something crazy and scary. It meant not giving a “hoot and holler” about what anybody thought about my choice. I was petrified but also at peace, and it turned out to be one of the happiest times of my life. I knew I had done the right thing. I had followed my inner-voice, the spirit, and I knew it would take care of me. Ever since then I have seen door-after-door open. I honestly believe that when you are being your authentic self miracles happen. It was a long lesson to learn, but one I will never forget.
Its amazing I didn’t learn this lesson sooner because growing up I had a terrific example of a man who follows his heart in my father. When talking of self-acceptance, ambition and a genuinely positive attitude my Dad is the first person who comes to mind. Sometimes it would drive me crazy growing up, but now I recognize the value in his example.
His very life story shows an independence and strong spirit. To begin with, my Dad completed all but one class in law school but never finished. He knew inside that he was done and was not going to practice law. He didn’t care what others thought about this decision back then, and he doesn’t care now. I have never heard him utter a moment of regret about his choice.
Moving from there, Dad, became an entrepreneur. Over the years he has tried his hand at a framing store, computer program designer, small business owner, ESL computer lab consultant, chairman of the board at JWA, landlord, and president of Grabber Inc. A number of these businesses were not successful, however, I never recall my Dad being depressed or discouraged. In fact, he frequently extols with pride the great people he met, lessons he learned and experiences that enriched his life with each enterprise. I’m sure he must have felt some negative emotions, but he kept a positive face for his children. I certainly don’t think I could take disappointment and discouragement as well as Dad does.
While flawed like anyone else, my father is a great example of someone who accepts his life and finds the good in himself and others. He is simply comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t need validation from others. Without ever preaching about it, he taught me to accept and love myself. Even now as we work together, he is constantly praising me and helping me be confident in my decisions. This despite the fact that I have definitely given him reasons to ream me out on occasion. He is kind, loving, understanding and has an unfailing belief in my abilities.
When I couldn’t get a job he was the only one who saw my potential. The other day when I was watching that horrible TLC program the parents of the overweight girl said they “were disappointed they had an obese daughter”. I have never felt anything like that from my Dad (or my mom- who is also wonderfully supportive and nurturing). Both my parents knew- when I was ready I’d conquer it. In fact, he was the one who encouraged me to join the swim team in high school. Again- he saw my potential long before I did. Now that I’m ready for this big challenge, he is cheering me on!
My Dad accepts himself, flaws and all, and he does the same for me (and all his children). I’m so grateful for his example and love him very much.