Growing up, I always felt like my body was split in two halves.
The top, which I liked and the bottom, which I didn't - in fact, I would go so far as to say I HATED my lower body, my wide hips and big thighs.
I was a skinny lizzy up to the age of 11 in junior school, due to incessant bouts of tonsillitis and also being a gymnastic wannabee, I would often be legs akimbo doing handstands and cartwheels in the school playground.
My sister, who's nearly 4 years old than me, used to say that when she was looking for me she would always look first at all the bums in the air with dark blue compulsory school knickers, as she knew she'd find me there!
Something happened around the age of 12, after having my tonsils out, I suddenly said hello to 'puppy fat'. I still LOVED gymnastics and dancing but as I was becoming healthier, my puppy fat got the upper hand.
I stopped being picked for netball and it took a huge glass of whiskey to get me into a swimming costume (ok, I joke there, but it felt like it).
I hated not being picked for netball because I loved it.
I even felt low when the Ballet Rambert Dance Company visited our school and a group of students were chosen to attend their magical dance workshops. All afternoon dancing in school.
I was not one of them.
Even though I went to dance classes.
I believed that it was because I was not the 'perfect 10'.
Looking back 'here lay the foundations of my Split-Halved Self'. At this young age I feel I anchored all the 'failure' to the lower half of my body.
Of course it wasn't failure but in my young developing mind, that's what I thought.
Of course it wasn't my lower half of my body's fault - I didn't think this through.
This split halved self then went on to dictate what I would do, where I would go, how I would dress and how much of myself I would reveal.
Then enter stage right Wocker-Docker-Thighs.
That would be the delightful (tongue in cheek) guy I was dating around the time of 19. It was he who coined the phrase about my thighs (and I might add here, mum, just so you know, he never saw them naked.)
He used to mock them, they seemed a standing joke with him.
Yet, when I look back at the 19 year old Julia, I don't see any wocker-dockerness, I see a shapely sensual young girl. Not skinny, admittedly, but curvy and lovely.
This then added weight to the whole split-halved-self and travelled with me throughout my 20s and 30s.
And now, in my 40s: I look back over these years and wish I could soothe the younger me and her intense dislike for her lower half.
Last year, in a private group of women I revealed naked photographs of myself - we all did - these photos are the most self healing thing I have every done.
To not acknowledge our lower body or upper body, is like dismissing and ignoring a close member of your family.
It is not recognising the pure potential and beauty of being a woman.
A woman in all her glory.
Hands up if you categorise your body and launch into a tirade of bitchiness?
(I hear you)
'my upper arms are horrendously flabby, I can't possibly show them'
'my calves are so thick and manly, I can't wear anything short'
'my knees are so bulbous and they have a kink in them, I have to cover them'
'my stomach is just one huge hangover mess, I have to wear something big over it'
'my bottom jiggles when I walk, so I'll just stop walking'
'my hips are like tree trunks, I'll have to wear bigger clothes to hide them'
The list really could go on and on.
These are just some of the things I have heard over the years in counselling sessions.
When can we start to see the beautiful vessel we are in?
All that luscious skin that houses all the cosmic atoms to make up our gorgeous self.
When does that happen?
The incessant name calling and devaluing of the split-halved self has to stop.
It's time to fuse the two halves into one gorgeous whole.
Here are 3 gentle ways to begin.
1. Give your body-half, the positive attention she deserves.
Can I have a 'yeah baby to that?!'
Get dressed s-l-o-w-l-y.
Actually LOOK at your body-half in the mirror as you take off/put on your clothes.
I know how you're feeling, usually you want to do this as quick as near damn possible, in the dark, back turned to the mirror, but when you take the time to look, notice how your body is .... and we are seriously all different shapes ... do you really want to ignore you? All those curves and maps of life on your body?
THE JD PRESCRIPTION:
Say: "I see you and all of you is lovely."
Repeat 20 times three times a day.
2. Write positive words on your body.
Write it on there.
Declare your love to your hips, thighs, knees, upper arms and breasts and revel in knowing that when you're out, the word is marked there to work its magic.
This is not new - people have been tattooing words onto their skins for many thousands of years.
Have you read about the research of Dr Masaru Emoto - the water man - go check this out as he shows how molecules of water can change pattern and shape when hearing loving words and when hearing hateful words.
Considering the human body is approximately 70% water, that means this change can impact our hearts and minds too.
THE JD PRESCRIPTION
Grab an eyeliner/lip liner, heck, even a Sharpie and write Words of Love, think of the word that your thighs need to hear, or a word that would soothe your upper arms.
Tattooing is an option but if you're thinking of trying something temporary, visit conscious ink, there are some gorgeous temporary ones there.
3. Photograph your body
We all know the power of the selfie - what began as a fun way of using our smart phones has taken on the world.
What really is the selfie about?
It's a reminder to look in our own eyes and say 'I like you, very much, just exactly as you" as Mark Darcy said to Bridget Jones so eloquently.
Whether you publish them or keep them private, the purpose is to acknowledge who you are and begin to like yourself.
We begin to view ourselves in a different way.
Selfies are where it begins.
You don't have to declare your photos like I did to a bunch of cool wonderful women on Facebook, but in just beginning to do this practice, you will begin to fuse your split-halved-self.
THE JD PRESCRIPTION
Don't rush it, find some time where you're on your own and won't be disturbed.
Start with parts that you love - your finger nails, your neck, ears, hair, feet, and then move gently on to the half that you feel you're ignoring.
This takes time - you will often taken 20+ before you can look and LIKE.
Delight in your reflection - be naked and enjoy it.
Timer Cam is a great App so you can just enjoy the process of bringing both halves together.
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There you have it sweet loves, I hope you feel some gentleness in my 3 ways, I love helping you heal your heart and soul, so let's connect.
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