Earlier this summer, I wrote about the deal I made with my husband in order to get him to grow a beard. I’m here to tell you that I wore that dang string bikini all summer. Well, not exactly that one. See, it turns out that I bought the wrong sized bottoms and it took me 3 tries to get it right. Apparently, I was trying to wear bottoms that looked more like Depends underwear than a string bikini bottom (Don’t let that Lisa Rinna gal fool you – they are diapers, no matter how great your ass looks on the red carpet.) If you read this blog often at all, you know I live with a serious case of body dysmorphia and have for all of my adult life. I honestly have no idea what the hell I look like truthfully and so I am always buying and returning clothes because I never buy the correct size. My husband calls it shopping bulemia. Whatever. Anyway, when I finally got the right size, I ended up buying 3 different correctly fitting bikinis. I even started wearing shorts for the first time in years and years and years. Yep, shorts. SHORT shorts. With cowboy boots (always with the cowboy boots.) I’ll not lie – I’m ready for the bikinis to be put away and out of the light of day until my next trip to Mexico in February, but that doesn’t mean that their influences will be hidden away as well.
See, this whole beards and bikinis thing has led to a revolution in my house and in my life. It has given me (and my husband – more about that in a minute) permission to be ourselves. REALLY be ourselves. I cannot speak too much for him, but I have almost always struggled with just being me regardless of what other people think. If you know me, that might be hard to believe, but it’s true. It’s a daily battle that was born when I was very young, the child of a prominent minister and was, thus, forced to behave like a member of the Cleaver family when things were really closer to the Manson family at home. Okay, Manson is a stretch, but it was not remotely good at home. I have always put on a face, an act, because I always felt my truth was never good enough.
Part of the reason I got into yoga all those years ago was to combat this and it has helped more than you can ever imagine. Through yoga, I have learned to accept myself the way that I am. It took a long time to get rid of the shoulds and ought tos and competition and judgement and expectations on the mat, but when you’re upside down or twisted like a pretzel, there really is no room to pretend to be someone or something other than who you are. I wish I could say that I have that mindset of totally acceptance every hour of every day, but I don’t. I’m getting better at it, certainly, and my hours of acceptance are longer, but I can most definitely say that I don’t hear those harsh messages while I’m on my mat (probably explains why I’m on my mat all the time.)
That said, the influence of the deal has spread much further than my mat. My husband has never ever done yoga. It’s been a journey for me to stop riding his ass as if it had a saddle on it about starting a practice, but I’m proud to say that I have stopped beating that dead horse. This little fact, however, hasn’t stopped the benefits of my practice from impacting him. I was able to pull on that bikini because I have been able to roll out a mat. He is going to grow that beard because I pulled on a bikini because I roll out a mat. And it goes further: my husband used to have really long hair but it’s been short for about 8 years now. He decided that if he’s growing a beard because I pulled on a bikini because I roll out a mat, he’s going to give himself permission to grow his hair back out, too, and finally start getting the tattoos he’s always wanted. And if my yoga practice brought this openness to both of us, he says he might check it out, too! It’s a full circle, yo! Yoga -> Bikini -> Shorts -> Beard -> Long Hair -> Tattoos -> Yoga.
It goes even further! I am allowing myself to be myself and getting the joy out of seeing my husband give himself permission to be himself, and it is easier and easier to allow other people and other issues in my life be themselves. That crazy habit someone I know has of repeating everything I say the second I say it? Doesn’t drive me as apeshit as it once did. The people in who continue to do things incorrectly because that’s the way they “were taught?” Well, it’s easier now for me to explain why what they were taught is wrong, but let them go on being wrong if they think they are right! My dog, Hank, won’t eat his food unless he dumps it out of his dish and all over the floor. Used to drive me insane, but now I let it go because who am I to say he doesn’t have a valid reason. His food on the floor might very well be his string bikini!
It all starts with my yoga practice. Breathing in, Breathing out, letting go, taking chances, and loving – or at least not fighting – the process. They are all important steps on the path. Yours might not be a Redneck path to enlightenment, but you have a path. What does it look like? Where can you take the next step? Enlightment – catch the fever!