caught on tape

Now, if you’re a young whipper-snapper who is asking, “what’s tape?”… um, thanks, but I don’t need another reminder that I’m getting older. I’ve got enough grey to keep me from forgetting that bit of news. Back in my day, we had video “tapes”. So, if it helps you, imagine the title is, “caught on DVD”. Shall we continue now? Good!

How many of you absolutely hate seeing photos of yourself? What about catching a glimpse of yourself in a mirror or store window? Heaven forbid someone tags you in a photo on facebook! Oh gosh, what about video? And I don’t know too many people who enjoy listening to their own voice. Well, I am definitely one of those people who cannot watch herself. About 99% of the time I am devastated by what I see. And you know what, this has been true no matter what I’ve weighed. I become so critical of myself, that I can’t remotely see how there is anything, whatsoever, good about me. As we all know, this is absolute “kooky-talk” because surely there is something likeable about me – I mean, I do have friends and I somehow caught me an awesome husband. Unfortunately, like a lot of people, I “can’t see the forest for the trees”.

Well, as I’m in this process of “letting go“, one of the things I’m trying to commit to is finding something good about myself when I realize I’m being overly critical. No, not so I can get all puffed up and vain, but to hopefully accept me for me… and stop beating myself up for things that don’t matter (like a few extra pounds) or that I can’t change anyway (like height).

Last week, my drama class had a performance. I knew I would have to get up in front of the parents… and I knew there would be cameras. I already felt “fat” because my pants were snug… and I was wearing a bulky pull-over (because it’s one of the few winter things that fit me right now)… and I would have to wear my ugly green winter jacket (because my favorite jacket wouldn’t fit over the bulky pull-over)… see, I was soooo down on my appearance before I even got there. I forced myself to find something I liked in the mirror before I left that morning though. I decided that I was having a good hair day (which is shocking considering usually all I see is the grey) and my eyes looked fantastic.

Since some of my own kids were in the play, the Husband came to record it. Normally, I won’t watch the part I might be in, but when we pulled out the video over the weekend, I stayed to see my “thank the audience for coming and congratulate the kids on a job well done” part. I stayed to prove to myself that I could watch it and be ok. I heard my voice before I entered the frame and I cringed. Sure enough, the first thing I noticed was my stomach. I was sick. I instantly thought about diets… about the trip the husband and I want to take for our anniversary and how terrible I’ll look… the upcoming black belt demo/graduation and all those photos… having to see people who will surely think “good gracious, she’s really gotten fatter!” or “How did that fat woman ever earn a black belt?!”

Then, I forced myself to stop staring at the fat & frumpy clothing, or how my image was portrayed from a less than ideal angle, and I actually looked at the woman herself. I remembered the smiling audience faces looking back at me. They weren’t judging me. I decided to look at her as though she wasn’t me, but rather the teacher who had helped my kids pull off that awesome performance. Suddenly I noticed other things. I was impressed by “her” ability to be so calm, relaxed, and professional in front of the audience. I wasn’t even annoyed by “her” voice when I watched without an over critical eye. “She” was clearly having a really good hair day and “her” eyes sparkled too. And then, I realized, “the woman” suddenly didn’t seem as “fat” to me as “she” had before.

These past two weeks, I’ve received some of the sweetest remarks from my students and my own kids. They don’t care what I weigh, what I wear, or what I eat. All they care is that I care about them. If I’m going to “let go”, I have to stop the negative self-talk. It doesn’t motivate me or benefit me (or others) in any way. In fact, it keeps my attention on things that zap energy and resources from doing the things that really matter to me. Does fixating on my size or weight or diet make me a better person? No, it makes me a “kooky-talkin'” person who’s afraid of being caught on tape (or film, or pixels).

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