Photo by: Lindsey Smallwood

Don't Miss Out on Memories Because You Don't Like your Muffin Top

Photo by: Lindsey Smallwood

Last week we took a family trip to Moab, Utah. Moab is a tiny tourist town nestled between two epic National Parks – Arches and Canyonlands. The landscape is like something out of a science fiction movie: enormous, red, earth temples carved by natural erosion in the rocks; land bridges and rock tunnels appearing out of nowhere, sweeping views of canyons larger than the eye can see dotted with rivers, rocks and dirt roads. It’s like no place I’ve ever been.

After spending our first night in the cabin we rented at a local campground, we woke early to beat the desert heat and get to the park for some kids-in-backpacks-and-frontpacks hiking. I packed our lunches and made sure we had enough water while the boys investigated the large ant colony by our picnic table. Cleaning up the breakfast dishes, I surveyed our tiny home-away-from-home and surmised that we were ready to go.

Then I looked in the mirror.

Instead of seeing a happy mother of two in a tailored top and carefully selected jeans, I found arm-flab and jiggly thighs competing for attention with my tank top and running shorts. It’s been a cold spring in Boulder and this was the first time I saw myself in summer clothes. It wasn’t pretty.

The embarrassment was tight in my chest. Is this really what I look like? The shame began to whisper. This is what I get for snacking my way through nap time.

I threw off the outfit and changed into a different shirt and shorts combination, realizing, as I looked back to the mirror that the clothes were not the problem. I briefly considered wearing jeans, even pulled them out of my suitcase, longing to hide myself in the dark forgiving fabric.

Really, Linds? You’d rather hide in your jeans and get heatstroke hiking in 100 degrees than let those hefty gams see some sunlight?

I put my shorts back on.

The hike to Delicate Arch was incredible. Chris carried the water and we each wore a baby as we made our way up the steep mountain trail without shade. It was hard work but the payoff was the incomparable views of surrounding canyons. I kept stopping just to say “Wow”.

At the top, we found a fellow hiker willing to snap our picture.

We sat down after we took the photo, getting out water and snacks for the boys. As I held out the straw for Tommy to take a drink, a woman stopped, watching us feed our sweaty babies. She looked me in the eye.

“Beautiful,” she said. “Just beautiful.” She kept walking.

Her words landed like an arrow, quick and sharp. She wasn’t complimenting the way I looked in my shorts or how my tank top accentuated my curves. When she looked at us, enjoying the view and making a memory, she saw beauty. Beauty in being together.

And I saw it too.

So often there’s beauty if only you look in the right place.

We’re home now, with a camera full of pictures and hearts full of sweet memories. I’m tracking calories on my phone in hopes of feeling better in my shorts, while trying to ignore the voice. The voice that says my body isn’t what it should be. The voice has been there for as long as I can remember. It tells me the same stories of shame and failure over and over again. There is some truth to its claims, but it would have me believe that it is the only thing that matters.

It’s not.

Family matters more. Adventure matters more. Trying something new matters more. My marriage matters more. Enjoying the once in a lifetime chance to climb red earth canyons to sky high rock towers matters more.

I choose what matters more.

So if you need me, I’ll be rocking some shorts to play with my babies in the Boulder summer sun. And looking for beauty in all the right places. Even in pictures I told Chris to delete.

Friends – are you choosing what matters more? How do you quiet “the voice”? Here’s hoping you’re finding ways to make the most of your one wild and precious life.

Lindsey Smallwood lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband Chris and their two sons. You can usually find her chatting at the park, walking by the creek or writing on the couch. Read more by Lindsey at her blog Songbird & a Nerd, or find her on Facebook.

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