Peaceful Reflection

Sitting outside by the light of the moon,
All is still, quiet, and I know very soon,
As I breathe deep, crisp air fills my lungs,
And the magical journey has just begun;
The Universe without, reflects the divine within,
Such beauty and awe to experience time and again,
All is ever changing, an end is simply the start,
A chance for Love and Peace to reside in my Heart.
Entering into a new dimension,
Free from strife, worry, and tension,
No longer a mere will to survive,
A renewed purpose and space to thrive.
~Kellie Kamryn, 2015
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The Art of Imperfection

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Once upon a time, I was a competitive gymnast…

These days my inner gymnast is disguised as a mom of four, author, narrator, and all round good person. I can still perform cartwheels, handstands, round offs, flips on trampoline, and the splits, which make the guys at the training gym groan. (Mostly because I think they have to learn something they find difficult that I learned a long time ago. Or perhaps they’re thinking that whoever the man sleeping in my bed is—he’s a lucky bastard. And really, most nights it’s my youngest son whom has woken from a nightmare, so no hanky panky there. But I digress…)

During a conversation with a friend, I told him that I wasn’t interested in achieving physical perfection. He said I balked at the very idea because of the experiences I had as a gymnast. And you know what? He was right.

While I never developed an eating disorder as some of my comrades did, I had experiences that shaped the way I negatively saw my body, and exercise in general. When I was thirteen, a coach told me and my parents that I needed to grow my hair long and get contact lenses so I would look “pretty” and this would help boost my career as a gymnast. Notice how none of this had anything to do with my physical abilities or gymnastic talent. I received the message that in order to be successful, I had to be beautiful, and clearly, according to others, I did not measure up. I judged myself by the standards of others, and found myself lacking.

At the age of thirteen – well see picture above.  In the span of a year, I transformed myself by growing my hair long, and getting rid of the glasses. And it worked. Suddenly, I had all sorts of validation from friends, to fellow gymnasts, coaches, and boys at school. I was beautiful, therefore, I would be successful. Right?

Fast forward a few years to when my career ended. I didn’t make the Olympic team as most thought I might, even though I worked hard. Plagued with injuries, I wondered if I’d even aspired to that.  So many wanted me to “make it”, I lost sight of what I wanted. At that point, I felt I’d let down everyone in my life who had tried to make that dream a reality. Talk about carrying guilt.

In university, most of my gymnast friends became fitness competitors, and some girls joined our ranks because they wanted to be like the “beautiful gymnastics girls.” I kind of feel sorry for the image we portrayed, as if by being “one of us” you were automatically cool. An image is just that—a fantasy we portray to the world because our inner world doesn’t measure up. And that’s how I felt for many years.

Upon graduation, you’d think that with my physical education and kinesiology background, and my overachieving ways, I would once again strive to be the epitome of physical perfection. The fact now I have cover models and fitness industry professionals for friends, perhaps I should strive to achieve the outward appearance of physical fitness I feel modern society is obsessed with. To be honest, I used to. After the birth of my first and second children, I did manage to get back to a good weight for me. I worked out hard and ate right. When I found out I was pregnant with our third, while elated at the news, a part of me was upset that I would have to go through this all again, only to achieve my goal weight afterward. Talk about pressure, guilt, and anxiety all rolled into what should have been a beautiful experience. (This is covered in another article.)

After being diagnosed with post-partum depression at the same time as being told I was pregnant with my fourth child, I decided to give up the quest for physical perfection. After a life time of seeking validation outside of myself, I chose to go inward and love myself exactly the way I was.

After the birth of my son, I stopped exercising as if I was exorcising the Devil himself from my body. I chose to start loving every inch of me just the way it was, even though according to my doctor, I was thirty pounds overweight. I carried that weight for a reason. I was insecure, I wanted people to love me, I was anxious, and most importantly—I didn’t love myself.

Over time and with emotional healing, I learned to love me—every stretch-marked inch, both lopsided small breasts, my great calves and muscular shoulders, my soft belly my youngest calls my “squishy”, the roll of skin left over from the C-section, the near-sightedness of my green-hazel eyes, my smile, cute feet, jiggly thighs, curvy hips, and flat butt.

This isn’t to say I didn’t exercise at all. Over the past few years, instead of being obsessed with physical perfection, I learned to listen to myself. I found exercises that were gentle yet effective, I took up martial arts, I stretch every day, and I cut out all sugar from my diet for a few months. I learned that I didn’t have to kill myself through exercise to be healthy, and that physical perfection doesn’t mean you’re healthy in mind, body or spirit. And if loving myself means that I eat better, exercise more, and I happen to achieve what the outside world deems as a “nice body”, then so be it. A “perfect body” isn’t something I’m striving for. Being healthy is.

Once I stopped seeking validation for myself from other people, I learned to love ME. In fact, I like that my body is not “perfect”. From time to time, I put on a bit of weight, but this is usually at a time in my life when I’m feeling insecure or anxious about something. I know that with time, and when I go inside to discover the source of my insecurity, the weight will drop when I no longer need my “squishy armor” of protection.

Earlier this year, I was asked to “play up the pretty” in order to sell my books. I had mixed feelings on this because I want readers to read my material because they like it, not because of the way I look. I realize that a “package” sells a product, which is obvious from companies who mass market products from supplements, exercise equipment, teeth whitening agents, to romance books. Sexy to me is a state of mind, not necessarily what I−or anyone else−look like on the outside. Sexy is an attitude. While I choose to post nice pictures of myself for covers and social media, I also portray the real “me” as much as possible in my articles, and through what I post in public forums.

I told this story to my oldest daughter who is now sixteen. I want her to love herself for who she is, not for what others think she does or doesn’t look like. I want the world to love her as she is, and that will only happen if she loves herself first. Society in general likes to tell us that if only we did this, or used that, we too could be successful and loved and beautiful! And I’m here to tell you that you already are. Every inch of you. But don’t take my word for it—discover it for yourself, and reach what I call a healthy state of imperfection.

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Pieces

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Old patterns and emotions shatter

scattered pieces

reflect back fragments of self

no order

chaos

confusion

darkness envelopes…

Dawn’s rays bounce off the glass

a new puzzle emerges

solvable

I sift through the wreckage

creating new structure

a masterpiece in the making

One Breath

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Dust

dances in the sunbeam

tiny worlds that are part of this one

and yet their own

traveling through space on their own path

swirling in an endless stream

through the light

With

one breath

their course is altered

chaos, mayhem, confusion until

two collide

creating a new world together

continuing on in their journey

through the light

Kellie Kamryn, Copyright 2013

Getting REAL

My oldest daughter asked me what my New Year’s resolutions are. I told her I didn’t do resolutions, and sent her this pic instead:

1170800_10153650969610128_557012146_nFollowing your dreams, or making a plan to go after what you want is important. Without dreaming, human beings might become soulless shells of ourselves, wandering around with no ability to give our lives meaning or purpose. Over the years, as I’ve pursued my passions, I’ve encouraged others to do so. And now I want to encourage people to do something else: GET REAL.

For a long time, I lived in what I call the Land of Potential. I always saw how things could be, I worked toward my goals, I made plans, I fed my psyche positive affirmations like a drug addict snorts cocaine. (Actually, I don’t know if that analogy is correct as I’ve never done drugs in my life, but I hope you get the idea.) I turned myself into a positive person. I dove into my stories, created other worlds and happy endings, hoping that one day I too would have this elusive happy ending. I mean, if you fake it long enough, eventually it should come true, right?

As my friends and readers know, three years ago, my marriage ended. At the time, I remember going public with it, finally no longer feeling like a fraud by pretending my life was an HEA when it wasn’t.

Skipping over the past three years, I’m going to insert you into my life about a month prior when I discovered a lump in my armpit. Terrified it would be cancer, I sought medical advice and was told it was a cyst. Nothing to worry about, right?

Wrong.

I developed more cysts and boils on the surface of the skin. Turns out I had shingles and a staph infection. It would have been easy for me to delve into the world of my books – write a story, narrate some more, pick up my kindle and read one of the hundreds of books  I never get time to read. Submersing myself in the land of make-believe sounded like a great idea, but I knew I couldn’t do that this time.

I knew for myself, I have a habit of manifesting physical conditions when I’m letting go of things emotionally. These illnesses were information and I needed to listen. I won’t bore anyone with the details of my healing, but I will say that I took this opportunity to listen to myself, and figure out what I needed to do to heal.

Well-meaning friends told me to “envision the life I wanted” once I was well. While I sincerely appreciate their well wishes and sentiments, as I’m sure I’ve said this to others on occasion, I knew that envisioning my future life illness free was not what I needed to do. I had to “get real” with myself, look at the life I had and live in reality.

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“Getting real” for me meant taking a look back at the past and seeing my life for what it was, not what I would have liked it to have been like. I had to come to terms with the fact that in any given situation, I did the best I could with the knowledge and awareness I had at the time. I had to stop eating myself up inside (and quite literally with the infection I had) over things I could not change.

Being real with myself also meant, I had to deal with the current situation. I put on hold all work projects until the New Year, a situation I’m blessed to be able to do. A lot of people might not have this “luxury”. I meditated a lot, I slept A LOT, I made outings short if I had to venture out, and did what was best for me in the moment. While the Christmas season can be blessed with joy, it’s also a time when others place expectations on you for visitation, outings, etc. I made sure to do what was best for me and while I made apologies for not being able to attend some events, I did not allow myself to feel guilty in the least for not living up to the expectations of others.

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I took the opportunity to see how different my life, and all the wonderful people I’ve brought into it by changing my life one step at a time. I realized how much love and support I had in various forms which I did not have three years ago. Accepting that the hard work I’ve done inwardly, as well as outwardly, has paid off was a wonderful realization.

 So, here’s my long-winded point: Make your vision boards, set your goals, dream big about how you’d like your life to be. But don’t get so caught up in the fantasy, you forget to live your life for real.

Your goals will only be met if you put the work into it, if you deal with your life on a daily basis and live in the moment. Is that always fun or pleasant? No. Is it necessary? I believe so. It is for me.

Keep your day dreams where you can see them, just don’t make them all you see. Some times we want something so bad, we try to force it or create a reality that isn’t there. Be open to the journey and let things unfold as they should. It’s easy for us to stay with the familiar because it’s…well, familiar. This quote from Jeremy Wade of River Monsters fame, summed up how I feel about any new venture in life, whether it’s career, relationships or what have you:

“Dejected, I stared at the water and pondered the strange mechanics of perception – the perplexing fact that you can only see something properly if you already know what you’re looking for.” (Jeremy Wade, River Monsters, 2011) It’s difficult for us to perceive of anything new when we’ve never seen it before. But isn’t that half the fun of life – to venture into uncharted territory and see what happens?

In conclusion, dream big and create the reality you want, but I think Jean-Luc says it better:

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