Erika on People Who Do. Photo by Sara Haile

A few weeks ago, I did a photo shoot with my friend Sara, who has a fascinating project called People Who Do. She asked if she could feature me on her site, and we had a fantastic time shooting and talking. Sara emailed me last night with the link to the final product, and I sort of had a meltdown. My mind immediately went to the mean place.

I look fat.
I look old.
I shouldn’t have worn that.
My Broadway friends are going to see this and think “ooooh, girl has lost it.”

I went to bed discouraged, even though I knew that it wasn’t the photos… it was how I saw myself. This morning at the breakfast table, I showed the feature to my husband, who promptly told me I’m too hard on myself. In the middle of our discussion, my two year old picked up my phone, scrolled through the pictures with her sticky little waffle hands… and what she said next made me stop in my tracks (and, a few minutes later, in the solitude of my own room, burst into tears).

“Mommy, you beauuuuutiful!”

Everything stopped. The churning mind, the insecurity, the self judgment. My daughter, completely unsolicited and in her sweet innocent toddler voice, told me I am beautiful. And I believed her. I believe her. At the end of the day, what else matters? My daughter loves me and thinks I’m beautiful. So who freaking cares about what my old theatre friends think? Not me, not anymore. Not as of that very moment. I am raising a girl. She watches everything I do and say. Why should I show her discomfort about my appearance? I want to teach her to be loving with herself and her body, not to be hyper critical and mean.

Shortly after this happened, a mantra popped into my mind that I haven’t thought about for a long time: “Today I am willing to accept the things I cannot change, and change the things I cannot accept.” (tweet that). It just raises the simple question- What is in my control? What is not?

I cannot change the fact that I am, indeed, getting older. So I accept it. I’m going to get lines on my face, grey hairs, and my metabolism will slow down. This is fact. I release any negative feelings around this, because it’s a total waste of energy to lament what happens when you are an adult!

Which leads me to ask the tougher question: What can I not accept? Well, I cannot accept feeling bad about myself, for my sake and Anna’s. I cannot accept the feeling of having to hide my body. I made a deal with myself today: If I love the way I FEEL in my body, I am free to stay that way. If I don’t love it, I change it. Funnily enough, I had already put this into practice just a few weeks ago, but hadn’t declared it. Declaring it helps. Makes it clear.

Today, I am willing to accept what I cannot change, and change what I cannot accept. I release the weight of trying to change what is out of my control. And I take on the responsibility of ACTIVELY working on my life so I feel a little happier every day. I’m excited about it!

So what, then, do you really need to accept? What do you want to change? No amount of Botox can make you love your life if you treat yourself like crap. No number of Instagram followers is going to fill your heart with overflowing joy (but you can still follow me here, LOL). Who do you want to be, for yourself and as the example?

By the way, here’s the feature on People Who Do. It’s a lovely piece, and I really did have a blast shooting it.

In the words of my precious Anna, “You beauuuuutiful.”

xo, E

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