Fitness · Health · Poetry

Pursuit of Beauty

The other day, I posted a poem and some of you may have gotten it already in an email. But the formatting was wrong and so I quickly took it down, meaning to repost it later that day. The weekend sort of got away on me, so finally now, mid-week, I’m posting it again. I wrote the poem after witnessing multiple friends/acquaintances go through diets that resembled eating disorders.

It broke my heart.

What breaks my heart even more is that while there is some pressure on men to look fit, there is far more pressure on women. It’s hard to even find a group of friends these days where the woman will actually eat something other than a salad, or a lettuce wrapped vegan burger, while her husband munches on a triple sized meal complete with appetizers and dessert.

I’ve struggled with it myself; the pressure that my worth is dependant on my waist size. I get tons of smiles and comments when I lose weight. I get judgmental looks when I order the full burger with a side of fries. And so, I wrote this poem a few years back, challenging our thinking about health and weight. What is true beauty?

 

Pursuit of Beauty

By: Heather Dawn

 

She pushes her plate aside, eyes resigned

He feasts like a king, never bothers to mind

He’s never been pushed, never been told

For fat or slim; they still like him

She wakes up before them and paints up her face

Her workout begins, her pulse starts to race

Long past her goal, a new goal is found

Just a little bit more, just another pound

Her face once full of warmth and life, now is cold and hollow

The cheeks once flushed grow ever pale, the eyes once bright grow weary and dull

She forces a smile, flashing perfect white teeth,

that hurt from the treatments if she touches a sweet

All the beauty that masks the beast raging inside

Fixing only what fades, while neglecting her inmost cry

They like her less, even less than before,

Maybe once she’s shed just a little bit more…

Dear Child, fading slowly, you were fine as you were

They tell you otherwise, but what do they know?

They too are lost in a struggle they’ve always known

Their size is the measure for the worth of their soul.

Look up, Beautiful One and seek out the truth,

Outward beauty is common, it’s not hard to find

Breathtaking it is, but it withers like grass

The rare beauty you long for is not found in a store

It can’t be ‘put on’ or bought, it’s worth much much more

It’s in a gentle free heart, so patient and fair

A face full of grace, hands eager to share

It’s in a voice so sweet, full of life bringing words

Or arms strong and tough, but willing to serve

It’s in love that pours out, expecting none in return,

It’s a harsh word held back, and gentleness learned,

It’s in scars that speak volumes of making it through,

In wrinkles that earned the respect they are due,

It’s in the bright stretching lines on a new mother’s skin,

It’s in the way a little child mischievously grins.

True beauty is what the world seems to pass by.

True beauty is what the world try’s hard to hide.

But the rarer it grows, the brighter it shines.

Dear Child, you must choose what you want to pursue.

Will it be true beauty within, or will the outside of you win?

 

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Fitness · Health · Running

Run

Lost in thoughts that swirl like the wind around me, the steady rhythm of my feet keeps the time. The world around moves slowly, as if I’m in some different place entirely – a world far different from mine.

Golden fields stretch out far as the eye can see. Chaos fades into peaceful breaths, left alone to my thoughts and steps. Sometimes in silence, sometimes singing with each gasping breath. Sometimes yelling to the dog because she’s off in the field, nowhere near my side.

Beside me, my dog comes alive. It’s the favourite part of her day. Just us, going nowhere for no reason. When does that happen?

Most days, just before evening.

The sun begins to set.

The stifling heat of summer gives way to the cool of the fall. Leaves turn warm colors as the air grows colder each day. Red, brown, yellow and orange. The perfect skyline bouquet.

Run.

As my breaths become sharper, and my knees begin to ache, I change the tempo and taper my speed. The rhythm is slower, but perfectly in tune with the world around me which is also preparing for rest. My favourite shoes begin to rub and pinch in the all wrong places. The skin beneath my arm feels tender. A sword pierces my side.

But I do not stop.

Perseverance is par for the course. Runners know persistence, they are tenacious and among the stubborn on this Earth.

Because what would we do without this?

Trade real beauty and peace for a screen? Trade true emotional rest for a sitcom or show, that wearies the mind and troubles the soul? Or rush from one event to the next…still running, but without taking a breath. Or make wearisome conversation when all that you crave is stillness and to be alone?

No.

I run. To nowhere at all.

For the Joy. In the pain. Finding God. Shutting out hate. For the peace. For my health. This keeps me sane.

To remind myself that I’m still here, and I still matter.

Keep running.

Fitness · Health · Poetry

Pursuit of Beauty

A while back on Facebook, I shared a poem I had written after having a heavy burden on my heart for quite some time. A few of my friends and acquaintances were falling into eating disorders that they called “healthy diets”.

Now I’m not talking just about eating well, exercising or taking care of their bodies. I’m really encouraged when I see people making healthy lifestyle choices…these dear women were starving themselves. And trend diets began to really bother me. I mean, they’re ALL over the media, speaking to women as if a fine figure is the best thing that they have to offer the world, the best thing they can offer to their families. And so, I began to wonder why this bothered me so much…was it jealousy? Was it guilt? Or was it because there is something very, very wrong with being consumed by fitness? And as I pondered these questions, the words to this poem came pouring out onto the page.

There is SO MUCH talk about healthy attitudes towards food these days. And most of it is geared towards women (although it is increasingly becoming geared towards men as well). The truth is, letting thoughts of food consume your life isn’t having a healthy attitude. Unless you have an allergy, questioning everyone about every single ingredient in the food they make for you is a REALLY unhealthy attitude to have. If you think about food all the time, you’re either eating to much of it or not enough. Both are equally damaging. And so…if you read this poem and see pieces of yourself, I challenge you to ask yourself what is most important to you and what do you want to be known for, your body, or your heart?

Pursuit of Beauty
By: Heather Bergen

She pushes her plate aside, eyes resigned.
He feasts like a king, never bothers to mind,
He's never been pushed, never been told,
For fat or slim; they still like him.
She wakes up before them and paints up her face,
Her workout begins, her pulse starts to race.
Long past her goal, a new goal is found,
Just a little bit more, just another pound.
Her face once full of warmth and life, 
now is hollow and cold.
The cheeks once flushed grow ever pale,
the eyes once bright grow weary and dull.
She forces a smile flashing perfect white teeth, 
that hurt from the treatments if she touches a sweet.
All the beauty that masks the beast raging inside,
Fixing only what fades, while neglecting her inmost cry.
They like her less, even less than before,
Maybe once she's shed just a little bit more...
Dear Child, fading slowly, you were fine as you were.
They tell you otherwise, but what do they know?
They too are lost in a struggle they've always known,
Their size is the measure for the worth of their soul.
Look up, Beautiful one, and seek out the truth,
Outward beauty is common, it's not hard to find,
Breathtaking it is, but it withers like grass.
The rare beauty you long for is not found in a store,
it can't be 'put on' or bought,
it's worth much much more!
It's in a gentle free heart, so patient and fair,
A face full of grace, hands eager to share,
It's in a voice so sweet full of life bringing words,
Or arms strong and tough, but willing to serve.
It's in love that pours out, expecting none in return,
It's a harsh word held back, and gentleness learned.
It's scars that speak volumes of making it through,
In wrinkles that earn the respect they are due,
It's in the bright stretching lines on a new mothers skin,
It's in the way a little child mischievously grins.
True beauty is what the world seems to pass by,
True beauty is what the world tries hard to hide.
But the rarer it grows, the brighter it shines.
Dear Child, you must choose what you want to pursue.
Will it be true beauty within, or will the outside of you win?