Normally I’d never admit this on the net, but here goes because of your generous vulnerability. A couple years ago, I purchased a bra created and marketed to “folks like me” and it kinda changed my life. A part of my body that I grew up loathing suddenly became a celebration, something beautiful. I looked in the mirror for the first time, like, whoa. I’m kinda cute! The irony is that I threw out all the bras from a widely recognized chain that’s supposed to make you feel like a sexual goddess, but all that pomp and pump just made me feel fake. Now I feel real, like I’m finally cherishing the self I was born with after almost three decades of shaming her. It’s wild how easily we turn on our bodies, but it’s awesomely radical to *choose* instead to embrace these precious, intricate, scientifically near-impossible masterpieces.

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Feb 23Liked by Mari Andrew

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and thinking about how so many of the world’s problems (and my own personal problems) spring from the fact that we forget that we are also animals, not just walking brains. I grew up with the idea of mind over body, mind dominating and conquering and torturing body in the name of discipline, and now I’m trying to transition to something closer to what Mary Oliver describes in one of my favorite poems:

“You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Love what it loves. “

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Feb 25Liked by Mari Andrew

I really resonated with the idea of asking why my soul chose this body.

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I’ve also recently been noticing some extra body on my beautiful body, and with therapy I’ve come to realize I’m trying to “keep up” with my partner (who’s a 6ft male that LOVES to run…meanwhile running is only ever something I do if I’m late to work). He can eat and drink as much and as fast he wants and seemingly doesn’t show it. And for many childhood trauma reasons, I subconsciously follow everything he does (except the running) and have learned that my body can’t take the things his can. And what’s great to realize is that I don’t want to be able to! I want to eat as slow as I please, and save the rest for later. Plus, with your beautiful insights, I’m learning my body is someone I get to thank and treat with respect, which only further helps my need to find my own perfectly imperfect regimen.

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I always think of my bones and my skeleton whenever I am feeling like my body isn't "good enough". I like to remind myself of the muscles underneath the skin, to the organs to the bones and then zoom into each little cell. What really prompted me to think about my body this way was a college professor who made the class learn to draw the skeleton before he brought in real life models. He said it would help us be better at drawing the actual form. He was right. I never forgot it and have used it as my own ever since!

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Feb 24Liked by Mari Andrew

When I was seven months pregnant with my firstborn, my father in law basically called me fat and questioned if I was gaining a “healthy” amount of weight (I was).

This really angered me but it was also freeing in a way. It made me realize how deeply rooted the objectification of women’s bodies is. How, even when I was creating life (a miracle!) I was being judged by my body’s appearance.

All this to say, I am a goddess, my body is amazing, and I am no longer listening to anyone’s opinions but mine on this precious being that belongs to my soul in this lifetime.

Thank you, Mari for the reminders!

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This newsletter made me cry happy tears--the last several paragraphs in particular. You have such a gift!

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Feb 24·edited Feb 24

Oh, Mari. This is the newsletter that finally made me create a Substack account to be able to write a comment. I don't know how you do it, but the topic of your newsletters just magically reflects what's on my mind like 99% of the time! (Or is this like, a horoscope psychology thing?)

I appreciate that so much, and I'm always so excited to see what you're going to be writing about each week!

And when I saw the email subject "To be a body"... oh boy.

Maybe this is oversharing for a first comment, but here it goes: last Wednesday I went to the emergency room with horrible belly pain. After hours of testing (and fainting twice, a new experience for me), I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and major internal bleeding and got emergency surgery on the same day (also a first). I left the hospital on Saturday, but my haemoglobin levels had dropped so low that I was told it could take me up to 2 months to go back to my normal energy levels.

All of this was, obviously, pretty shocking, and I feel like there are several sides of the experience that I haven't really processed yet. It's very hard not to feel like "my body has betrayed me", especially since I don't want to have children and was on contraception (IUD), which was removed during the surgery, and now I have to start taking the pill (another first, I never wanted it) since they apparently also found evidence of endometriosis, so on top of everything else, my contraception plan and choices have been taken away from me.

Then there's the almost-dying, of course.

And then, the prospect of low energy levels for weeks. I had things to do (job interviews, a trip to Paris, volunteering to plant trees, going jogging in the almost-spring weather)! How dare you, silly body, ruin all of that?!

And at the same time.... one week ago I was still lying on a hospital bed with various tubes poking out of my body. Now I'm back home, and my biggest "problems" are getting a bit dizzy when I wash my hair or getting frustrated that I have to let others cook for me and take care of me. I'm recovering pretty fast, everyone who comes visit me expects to see me looking much worse and is surprised that I'm basically normal, and there's a lot I could be thankful for to my body. It's stronger than I expected! (I hear Adriene Mishler's voice in my head often: "I am strong".) I should probably be kinder to it, take it easy, give it what it needs. Why is it so hard to convince my brain to do that?

So your reflections really resonated today, Mari. I hope I can (re)learn alongside you. Thank you.

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I recently started befriending my body as well. I realized it wouldn’t be much longer till it would turn to dirt so I should do my best to love and show my gratitude for all she’s done. I’ve take her so much for granted and she has been nothing but an amazing friend.

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I’ve been thinking about my nervous system so much, too. This was really helpful to read- thank you.

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I gained enough weight where I had to buy new clothes and at first I felt awful about it. Over time, through therapy, through a nutritionist, I learned that I don't have to "reverse" myself small again, I only have to work on my thinking about why I'm uncomfortable with myself in a bigger size.

Two years later I'm still working on it but it's getting better. I try to think about it as "taking up more space" in the sense that I was trying to "make myself small" for so, so, long. Now I am boldly stating to the world that I'm taking a damn bite out of it.

Love your writing here, as always! We are always rooting for Enlightened Being Mari Andrew!!!!!

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“To summarize Western history, then the Enlightenment happened, which was great in some ways but really threw the baby out with the bathwater when it came to care and attentiveness to the body.”

Ha! This line made me cackle. Belongs in the “Cunk on Earth” mockumentary.

On a real note, I appreciated this reflection a lot. I’m looking forward to downward dogging it tomorrow so I can picture pelvis moving around. My relationship with my body had two pivotal moments. The first came when I allowed myself to start taking long baths as an adult. It was something about sitting with my naked body in silence that made me confront what a beautiful miracle it was. The second moment came as I watched my mom’s body collapse as a result of ALS. Seeing someone senselessly stripped of their ability to walk, talk, eat, and function really forced me to examine just how magnificent my fully functioning hunk of flesh is.

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I related so much to this essay! I’ve been on weight-gaining medication for sudden and severe neuropathic pain for the last two years. I’m now slowly coming off it as I learn other ways to manage my pain and I think I’m finding losing the weight harder than gaining it. When I was gaining weight I knew it was a side-effect of the medication that was allowing me to get up in the morning. I never judged myself, and I did think of my body as a friend I needed to support in return for the pain she was bearing for me. Now that I’m returning to a more familiar body, it’s easy to forget that she’s been through a lot and still deserves kind and gentle treatment. I’m also living in a new country where my friends and colleagues don’t know my body’s history - but I still do. This was a good reminder to continue to be a caring and accepting friend to her!

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I have Dissociative Fugue so I probably appear as though I am transcending my body when I have actually just popped out of my skin for a little while. I used to be a big Meditator until I realised that between the Meditating me and the Dissociating me I was spending very little time ‘at home’ so to speak. I realised how deeply ungrounded I was, despite any amount of Chakra work and no matter how often I visualised myself connected to our lovely Mother Earth with a big tendrilly anchored root system. I am currently working on being more present, more ‘in the now’, no longer grieving my past or fearing the future but getting to know who I am and what I need or want even. Your Newsletters speak to me. Thank you 🙏🏻

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I have always called my body it and never ‘her’. And since I had been fat-shamed as a kid, I have grown up to loathe myself and my body as soon as I start to gain weight (which is my current situation).

Since I don’t live in the US, I can’t come to your retreat (I wish I could), do you have any recommendations (books/ podcasts/ programs) that might help me become friendlier towards my body.

Also, thank you for this post. I needed this! ❤️

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Apr 5·edited Apr 5

I have to tell you that I’m sure it’s not some mystical thing but I found your article about the Best Breakup Advice a while back and thought it was so different that I’d better hang onto it for when I need it. I have since shared it with so many people who have gratefully thanked me and whom I guess found it helpful during a heartache. It’s like my break up Bible. You are always credited of course as I share it like it is seen on the actual page.

Well yesterday someone was going through a breakup and I sent it and it didn’t work. Today it did (phew) and I realized I’ve never read anything else you’ve written. Now this winter I went from being the girl everyone gushed over being very thin while eating any amount of food my whole 48 years to suddenly becoming well, overweight. I realized I’d been a big girl in a skinny girls body all along and so much has changed. I never felt flesh like this and no clothes fit, even larger ones I think will be baggy are not! I want to not let it bother me but this body is a whole new ball game in every way. I go one way and it goes another! Did you know if you don’t dry both thighs off at once they will never get dry as they are star crossed lovers who can’t be separated? I did not. I am really struggling to accept this and I was fully prepared to embrace all of life’s changes. That’s what I thought. I was thinking just how badly I want to go online and scream in all caps ISNT ANYONE ELSE AS ANGRY ABOUT THIS AGING BUSINESS AS I AM? Why is no one talking about how life changing this is?!?

And that’s when I decided for no specific reason to check out your blog and this is what came up first. Cosmic perhaps?

Im going to say thanks for your wisdom and lucky for me I crossed your path. Oh and I have no expectations about your other work. No one can be this good every time. Right? I guess I’ll find out.

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