by Nancy Casey
One thing that is certain about having a life in the world is that from start to finish, you do it in a body. Your body. It was issued to you at the start, and it’s yours throughout. So many heartbeats. So many breaths. So many steps taken and meals digested.
Your body grows, changes and ages. When it gets ill or injured, you call yourself “sick” or “hurt.” When it heals, you call yourself “better.”
The most common way to discuss your body with others is to complain about it. Maybe your thighs aren’t skinny enough, or your hairline is in the wrong place. Then there are the aches and pains! Or more dramatic events that require medical intervention. When our bodies go haywire, we notice—and we have a lot to say.
But your body is you. All those thoughts about how your body is inadequate or wrong go inside of you somewhere and affect you somehow. We all know we’re not perfect. You probably also know how hard it is to get through a day if somebody is constantly listing your imperfections for you. No matter how much we criticize our bodies, they don’t quit. Despite all the ways we talk bad about them, our bodies keep working for us.
You can say that you ought to quit saying derogatory things about your body, but really that’s just another way to add something to the list of what’s wrong with you.
This week, use your writing practice to notice what’s good about your body. More specifically, you will ask yourself how your body is useful.
Begin with a clean sheet of paper and draw the outline of a body on it. Your body. You don’t have to strive for artistic perfection. Just draw it well enough that you can tell it’s a human body—and not a dog or a tree. Then label the parts. If a body part doesn’t appear in the drawing, simply make an arrow that points to the spot where it is.
For each body part that you label, add a short explanation of what that body part does for you. Label as many body parts as you can, telling how each part makes your life better—or possible! Don’t stop until you have run out of room. Then add the date to the page and give it a title.
Throughout the week, do this several times. You might want to do it once for “outside parts” and another time for “inside parts.” Each time you do it, you might be surprised by how many pieces and parts your body has and how absolutely useful they are to you. Here is an example of what such a drawing could look like.
Some parts of your body aren’t “parts” at all, but they are in there somehow. Where is your memory? Where does the ability to try harder live in your body? What about anxiety and calmness? Or emotions like sadness, anger, or joy? What parts of your body give kindness? Which parts receive it? If you can’t exactly draw an arrow to something, try shading in an area with an appropriate color and label that instead.
After you have made the drawings and labeled them, if you are inspired to write sentences and paragraphs about how useful your body is, go for it!
Nancy Casey is a writer and teacher who has lived in rural Latah County for many years. You can see more of her work here.
If you like the idea of writing every week, but want to do it with others in a class setting, you are welcome to attend “Writing Journeys” with Ginger Rankin on Wednesdays from 4-5 at the Latah Recovery Center. The class does exercises from this blog and other things as well. The class will meet two more times – on February 22. All are welcome. If you haven’t attended the class before, you are doubly welcome to attend.
A new series of writing classes will start up at the Recovery Center in April.