More…..about scars on the human body

images-55Nikki wrote me about my last blog post. She said she was pondering the scar conversation we had, and about how scars point to some other things:

She said, isn’t it amazing how the autonomic nervous system does things like breathing, creating white blood cells to fight infection, starting self-healing processes immediately upon being wounded.  We don’t have to think about these processes or fill out forms to get them done.  Or even will it.

Nikki reminded me of the conversation we had with Doug and Andrea, who manufacture our protein powder in San Diego. We’d just had lunch with them. Doug was telling us how, as a nutrition aficionado, he points out to all his friends and co-workers that what they’re eating is going to kill them. I told him that I haven’t ever commented on what somebody is eating—and gave him some heck: “So have you been wondering why you eat alone a lot?”

images-56We soapboxed, preached to the choir, talked about our astonishment not that people die of heart disease or cancer—but that most of us are still walking around at all. Nikki said: how marvelous the coping mechanism is of the body! We fuel it with crap, we don’t give it enough rest, we subject it to stress and pollution, alcohol, and . . . it copes.  It extracts what it can use, it filters the bad stuff, it shifts energy to areas of immediate need, and just. keeps. going.

What a gift it is to interface with the world in such a sophisticated organism, Nikki says to me. I agree. Sometimes I’m on my knees with awe, that God keeps letting us do this.

And isn’t it cool, she says, the way that scars heal from injury with skin that is tougher.  We won’t get hair or sweat glands on a scar, but that place of thickened skin is also less susceptible to re-injury. Isn’t it interesting how muscles can’t grow unless they are torn first, but the result is a larger, stronger muscle.

Nikki and Kristin and I were raised in a religious tradition that believes we are resurrected, on the other side of death, in perfected bodies. About that, Nikki says to me,

“I was thinking about perfected bodies, and I wonder which version of me is ‘perfect.’  I don’t even know what my real hair color is.”

images-47Kristin (who happens to be Nikki’s sister) joins the conversation saying, this makes me think about the metaphysical life scars we carry with us, too. The bad stuff that happens to us. “If they were manifest on our bodies,” she says, “some of us might walk around looking like a disfigured burn victim. I’ve got to learn to love those scars, too.”

And she suggests that all the GSG employees undertake a Post-It Love Bomb Campaign in public bathrooms everywhere. I’m in.

Let’s work on this. Adoring our scarred selves. Let’s be a work in progress, emphasis on “progress.’

(p.s. Aren’t I lucky that I get to work with people so thoughtful and intuitive and funny?)

I’m buying some Post-It Notes.

And what to do about SCARS?

On the long drive home from Tijuana to Utah earlier this month, I stopped at a McD’s because they have the cleanest bathrooms. And, well, because I’d drunk the 32 oz green juice I swerved off the freeway to get, at the Henderson Whole Foods Market.

images-48Inside the stall, a pink Post-It Note was taped to the door. It said,

“You are beautiful and unique, just the way you are!”

Who knew bathroom graffiti could make me cry? I was so moved that someone has the sweet mission of writing notes with Sharpies to help women love themselves better and posting them everywhere. And on top of it all, show the business owner the respect of not writing on the walls. Weird and cute and classy, all at the same time.

Nikki and I were in a San Diego hotel and had the sweetest conversation. Nikki is our product developer and my cancer research assistant. But she’s just been trained to run the Green Smoothie show when Kristin can’t come with me. (Kristin is burning out on my never-ending speaking tour–a lot of work for her!) Nikki worked alongside Kristin in St. George and Vegas, and then ran the show herself in Riverside and San Diego.

I told Nik about Cheryl and the wrinkles, which I blogged about yesterday. About how I decided at some point to shift some energy from self-loathing, to choosing to accept and love my body, my wrinkles, my flaws. How I figured out somewhere along the line that’s a better use of my energy.

Nikki said,

images-51“I’ve been thinking about scars lately.”

She showed me a prominent white scar on her arm and told me the story. Nikki was three years old, held in her mother’s arms. Her mother was talking to a friend, who also held her two-year old in her arms. For no discernible reason, the boy bent his head over and….bit into Nikki’s irresistibly luscious arm.

Nikki said, “If God perfects my body someday, I want Him to leave this scar. Some scars I don’t love as much, but this one I do.”

Nikki loves to scold the grown-up boy, Justin Holbrook, with proof of his toddler misdeed, when he comes to their mutual hometown of Burley, Idaho. And I imagine, as I said to her,

“Yeah, it’s a memory you have of your mama, too, right?”

Nikki’s mother died in a car accident when Nikki was only 7 years old.

I sit down on the hotel bed and show Nikki……The Worm. It’s a keloid scar on the back of my ankle. You know, those big, raised, white ones?

Obtaining the scar wasn’t particularly interesting. At my old house, I installed a screen door on my front porch so the kids could bang in and out. So I didn’t have to be Vigilante Mom, yelling about leaving the door open with the air conditioning on.

(My dad did that as I was growing up. He’d bellow, “I’M PAYING TO AIR CONDITION THE GREAT OUTDOORS!”)

One day, I’m barefoot, and the corner of that screen door caught me just wrong and slit two inches up the back of my heel. When you walk, your foot constantly flexes, so the thing didn’t heal. It would scab over, and then the simple act of walking would break the scab open. Many times.

Consequently, when it finally healed, it was a fat scar with an uncanny resemblance to an earthworm.

images-52So at church, or anywhere that we might be bored, when my kids were little, I’d say, “Oh no, LOOK! The worm is grooooowing!” I’d start with the scar as small as possible by Barbie-pointing my toes. Then I slowly flexed my foot so that the scar grew longer and longer and LONGER AND LONGER!!! “AAAAAH! BE VERY SCARED, THE WORM IS TAKING OVER THE WORLD!” I’d fake a panicked look, as if the worm was growing without me having any control over my foot.

It used to make my kids laugh when they were little. Now they roll their eyes at stuff like this, of course, because it really is stupid. But they thought it was great fun, once upon a time. Happy memories of ridiculously simple entertainment. Simpler times.

Nikki said, “Even Jesus, whose perfect life entitled him to a perfect, restored body, chose to keep his magnificent scars.” They are emblems of his experience, his grace.

Our scars show who we are, tell our own magnificent, quirky, unique story.

What, then, is “perfection?”

Maybe the lady with the Sharpie and the Post-It Notes has it right.

“You are beautiful and unique, just the way you are!”