A letter to my body: Thanks for the calluses

Dear Body,

I can't believe that after nearly 30 years together, I've never written you a love letter. I call myself a romantic, but I've never taken the time to acknowledge all you do for me, and how closely our fates are entwined.

You've always been there for me, but I don't think I ever really loved you until that horrible outdoor-education camp in Year 10. Somewhere between the rain and the cold and two-minute noodles, I realised that all I needed in life is you and a backpack. Suddenly, independence beckoned! You could get me up hills and down cliffs, come rain or shine. By the end of that week I knew to a certainty that you would keep going, no matter how far, if only I feed you and tended your blisters. The sense of strength and self-reliance (of what you could do!) was intoxicating. Don't get me wrong, swimming trials and phys. ed. classes were still humiliating experiences that I would do anything to avoid. And the thought of wearing a bathing suit in public, with all that new hair, and all those wobbly bits, was still terrifying. But I had learnt that those things weren't so important, they weren't what you were here to do.

It's a shame we lost that sense of connectedness and that broader perspective. I'm sorry for all the ways I've misused you in the intervening years. I know you gave me gentle reminders, like indigestion and headaches. I don't know how I misread those extra kilos, the visible reminders of what I was doing to you. It's only been the asthma and the migraines that made me sit-up and take notice. Thankyou for the wake-up call. I know that it could have easily been something less treatable and less manageable. And all this time you just keep on doing all the things I need you to do. You help me live my life, do my work, love my husband - and give me the ability to enjoy all the simple physical things that make life sweeter.

I think we're finally getting a good balance of mutual appreciation and respect. I am constantly awed at your ability to adapt to any new challenge I've thrown at you. Bellydancing was scary at first, but I've come to love your tummy, and disregard so many of the things I used to call faults. It's helped me find ways to feel sexy (and you ARE sexy!) with the lights on.

Last year's hiking trip was also a huge learning curve. If only I make time for you to train, and give you all the right food and gear - we can climb mountains! The mental challenge is easy when we've properly prepared for the physical ones.

Finally, the thing I most want to say. I was quite worried when we started rock-climbing, that you wouldn't be up to it. But I'm falling in love with you all over again! When we get stuck, it's almost never because you aren't strong enough - it's because I don't believe in you, or I'm trying to make you do it the wrong way. When I take the time to learn the technique, and put my faith in my fingers and toes - we get there! Sure, it's causing changes, but I'm able to view all the calluses and bruises with love, because they are symbols of what we've achieved. I've accepted that I'll never be size 8, or have a flat tummy. Now if I never have smooth hands again, who cares? Last night you got me up the barrel climb for the first time - and I've never been so proud of what you can do. I trust you know, in so many new ways. I have a courage to jump and stretch and balance, and to push out of our comfort zones and grow.

So thanks, again, for all that you do. Now as we turn thirty, I'm really excited to see what we can achieve next.

When I'm not falling off rocks, or wiggling my belly, I blog about cooking on a budget at I think I have a recipe for that...

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