Mojo Monday ~ For Keeps

“With everything the world throws at us, imagine how wonderful it would be if we women could stop struggling with negative feelings about ourselves. This book takes a big step in that direction. Every one of these authors has reminded us that we can be positive, we can face illness, injury, and the sometimes insidious signs of aging, and feel wonderful about ourselves.
And therein lies the heart of this book.”
For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance emerged from editor Victoria Zackheim’s belief that “our bodies and souls are woven into one beautiful and often bewildering pattern, and that life for many women would be less stressful and more fulfilling if we knew how to live in our bodies, accept our bodies, and stop viewing ourselves through an out-of-focus lens.” She writes that “It was my wish to create a book in which women of all ages could write about courage and dignity, about overcoming physical and emotional hardship, including injury and illness, depression and age, and share with you their insights hard-won through that battle we call life.”
She adds in her introduction “Too many of us go through life worrying more about taut stomachs than about healthy aging; we fret more about society’s expectations than our own personal growth. Perhaps this is because, whether we’re young girls or elderly women, we are bombarded by the media’s idea of perfection: lithe young models with perfect skin and smooth bodies too often achieved through eating disorders and fad diets, or older women maintaining that illusion through plastic surgery and Botox treatments. No matter what product a manufacturer is trying to sell, the substance of that message remains the same: Women are imperfect, and, unless we succumb to the hype, that imperfection will thwart our chances for happiness.”
In the book For Keeps you have the opportunity to meet twenty-seven women who share their stories about living through physical, emotional and spiritual challenges. There is great honesty and courage in their tales, which will at times make you laugh and in some instances might make you feel uncomfortable or touch a nerve with you.
One reviewer described the book in this way: “For Keeps is not an easy book to read. It is not about pretty women with perfect bodies who find easy acceptance in a beauty-obsessed culture. It is an impolite, impertinent, irreverent collection of essays written by twenty-seven much-published and gifted writers who are not afraid to tell the truth about the imperfect bodies they have learned to live in–and learned to love.”
Sara Nelson shares her belief in “My Mother’s Body Image, My Self” that our obsessions about the size and shape and appearance of our bodies are often taught to us by our mothers–who may have been obsessed with their own bodies. She writes “I was not angry, at least not then—I loved my mother, I wanted to be close to her, and if that meant worrying, obsessing over how we both looked, how alike we were, well, to my mind that was okay. Our weight and body obsession was what connected us.”
Aimee Liu
“Dead Bone” is written by Aimee Liu who shares how she first became an anorexic, then an “exercise zealot” for whom physical suffering was a path to perfection. She writes “The more my body hurt, the more my willpower gloated. A war was underway, my physical constitution its battleground. Health was no more my real goal than cheap tea was the object of the American Revolution.” A series of disabling injuries at least teaches her a necessary lesson. “My body finally, definitively, forced the message over my perverse will: I could no longer afford the fallacy that pain would make me better.”
Ellen Sussman
 Ellen Sussman shares in her essay entitled “What I Gave Up” how at the excessive encouragement of her father she went from being a “killer tennis player” to being a compulsive competitive runner to the practice of yoga–each transition accompanied by the rupture of a spinal disk. Now facing her third spinal fusion, Sussman can say, “What I hope for is this: that I can live in this body without pain; that I can use it as well as I’m able to; and that my mind can accept these changes with the grace of an athlete.”
“It’s a new experience, living in a body that feels old,” writes Joy Price in “Making Love and Joy in Seasoned Bodies.” “My body surprises me every day: What parts will and won’t work today?” She also shares fun tales about taking on a sixty-three-year-old lover when she is fifty-seven. “How joyful and thrilling it was to cascade into love and exhilarating sex at our age! We were as giddy and frisky as a couple of teenagers but with the added richness of decades of experience and self-knowledge. In fact, it was, and continues to be, the best sex I have ever experienced.”

Do you struggle with self-acceptance?  Acceptance of your body?
Do you think that your views and thoughts about yourself have been affected by your mother or the media?

What is beauty to you?
Who or what has most defined for you how you view beauty? 
Do you still want to embrace this definition?  Or do you want to create your own?

Do you find that your happiness is connected to your appearance?

What do you love about yourself?

What do you love best about your body?
Do you believe that you are beautiful? Why or why not?



Mojo Monday ~ The Gifts of Imperfection


I am unable to count how many times I have come to learn that a woman who I find to be amazing, beautiful, fabulous, inspirational and talented, will underneath all her obvious strengths, find fault with herself and thinks she is “not enough” in one way or another.


When I recently read a poem by Patricia Lynn Reilly I felt she so amazingly captured in her writing what we go through when we question “What’s Wrong with Me?”


What’s Wrong with Me?


We frequent the therapist’s office,
Hoping the past holds an answer within it.


We fill the churches,
Maybe God knows the answer.


We attend self-help meetings, assured an answer is encoded within the Twelve Steps.


We write “Dear Abby” and every other expert,
Certain that they must know the answer.


We sit at the feet of spirituality gurus,
Believing they will show us the way to an answer.


We buy every self-help book that hits the market,
Confident that a new project will quiet the question.


We consent to outrageous measures
To guarantee our fertility or our attractability,
Convinced that the presence of a child
Or a love in our arms will dissolve the question.


We sign up for diet clubs and plans and spas,
Convinced that our bodies are at the core of the answer,
Whatever it turns out to be.


We spend hundreds of dollars
On new outfits to hide the question
And on new body parts to eradicate the question.


And then at night after the day’s search is over,
We binge on a quart of ice cream or a bottle of wine,
Or we spend hours on the Internet or telephone
In tormented conversations trying to figure out
Why the relationship isn’t working,
Hoping that when we reach the bottom of the quart or bottle,
Or the far reaches of the internet or conversation,
Things will have shifted deep within us
And once and for all we will know the answer
And what to do about it.


Yet no matter what we do in search of an answer:
No matter how much we lose or how slimming the dress,
No matter how expensive or authoritative the expert,
No matter how many babies, relationships,
Possessions we have or don’t’ have,
No matter how spiritual, therapeutic, or recovered we become
We are left with the same question over and over again
As we look into the mirror horrified
That the restructuring of our relationship, our womb,
Or our breasts did not quiet the question
There it is in the morning whispering from the mirror,
“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?’
A mantra that accompanies us the length of our days.

Why are we so critical of ourselves? Why do so many of us attempt to attain some sort of perfection, and perfection being unreachable, then flagellate ourselves for failing.



I am reading a book entitled The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are that has the best definition of perfection I have ever read. According to author Brené Brown, Phd, LMSW, “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.” Embracing perfectionism is about adopting a belief system that “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Healthy striving is self-focused – How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused – What will they think?”


Brown also shares that “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life–paralysis. Life-paralysis refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect. It’s also all of the dreams that we don’t follow because of our deep fear of failing, making mistakes, and disappointing others. It’s terrifying to risk when you’re a perfectionist; your self-worth is on the line.”


Prior to writing this book the author had been a self-described “shame researcher.” She shares incredible wisdom in every point she hits in her book. For example she touches on worthiness. Here is a taste of what she shares: “The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites. So many of us have knowingly created/unknowingly allowed/been handed down a long list of worthiness prerequisites:


I’ll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds.
I’ll be worthy if I can get pregnant.
I’ll be worthy if I get/stay sober.
I’ll be worthy if everyone thinks I’m a good parent.
I’ll be worthy when I can make a living selling my art.
I’ll be worthy if I can hold my marriage together.
I’ll be worthy when I make partner.
I’ll be worthy when my parents finally approve.
I’ll be worthy if he calls back and asks me out.
I’ll be worthy when I can do it all and look like I’m not even trying.


Here’s what is truly at the heart of Wholeheartedness: Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.”




As we sit at the campfire together consider what opportunity you are missing because you are too afraid to put something out in the world because it isn’t perfect.


Consider what you hold over your own head in order to feel worthy.


Share with us at least one such situation in which you hold back because you are seeking perfection.


Share with us if there are ways that questioning your own self-worth holds you back.


After considering the downfalls of perfectionism what might you do differently now?


After hearing that you are worthy now, right this minute, as you are, can you embrace this truth? Can you live it? Does it change anything for you?



The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. ~ Anna Quindlen


If you have a little more time on your hand here is a video of author Brené Brown appearing on a televised PBS interview and she talks about Shame and Perfection. Prior to the actual interview with the author is some information on the class she teaches and how creating art is included in the program, as well as how other organizations are using her research to help women who have spent time incarcerated to relearn how to accept and love themselves.