I did not love my body because the body I was living in was not the one created for me. It was the product of addiction and secrecy and shame. The perfection storm.

I started loving my body when my husband visited during Family Week, on our first anniversary, and whispered, tears shining in his eyes, “You are so beautiful.” Henry the feeding tube and all.

I loved my body when I bravely acquired a motorcycle license, and traded in my exercise bike for a new set of wheels.

I loved my body as it lay prone on an examining table, listening to new bone density results, learning that my body was responding to my hard work in recovery.

I loved my body when I pushed it too hard, suffering several fractures: my body told me I was on a slippery slope and set me back on track.

I loved my body when it rejected several infertility treatments…for I was in denial of my poor health.

I loved my body when, during a break from the stress of trying to conceive, I chose to rest and eat well…and became pregnant.

I loved my body when it naturally traveled through the stages of pregnancy and labour, delivering Ward Keller’s namesake, Holden Keller, born on Ward’s birthday.

I loved my body when I chose to respond to my infant son’s cries for mommy instead of rushing out the door to the gym.

I loved my body as I took scuba lessons and lounged by the pool, celebrating ten years of marriage to my husband.

I loved my body when I signed my name to the registration form for my son and I to take hip hop together.

I loved my body when it chose to challenge its fear of heights, and conquered it several times over.

I loved my body when I chose rest, awaking with renewed passion for life.

I loved my body as I sat alongside hospital beds, watching people suffer, realizing how much I had taken for granted, how much time I had wasted.

I loved my body when I learned to let down my guard, and allowed my arms to learn how to hug and receive hugs from others.

I even loved my body when I stood boldly naked in front of a mirror.

I loved my body when I learned that my body is a vessel, and that what is important is what I do with that vessel. I was created for a purpose, and that purpose has nothing to do with a number on a scale, or a size of clothing, or even a grade on a paper, or an assessment from an employer. The only size I measure is how large my heart can expand as it serves others.

The truth is, I learned to love my body yesterday. And I learned today, in a new way, to love my body. I will learn tomorrow to love my body anew. My body will not stay the same, but that thought comforts me. I can give up control, for it is a futile effort.

Like an empty vase, my body without purpose is just an empty shell. Once I am filled with meaningful thoughts and actions, I can bring joy to others….and what will be noticed in the end is not the vase but the bouquets of kindness, the seeds of hope I have sprinkled around me.

I am forgiven, and free. And I love my body, the way it moves, the way it rests, the way it guides me to the opportunities available to encourage others. My husband often looks at my body, and whispers, “Thank you, The Meadows Ranch.”

I am thankful for my body.