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My church has been using a theme-based approach this year, and this month our theme is Embodiment. This is appropriate for me, since today is my birthday, the day I first experienced my body in the world.

Me as a baby

It’s also appropriate because I’ve been paying extra close attention to my body lately. I wish I could say it’s for some thoughtful, inspiring reason, but it’s not. I got a deer tick bite two weeks ago, and as with most in Maine these days, I worry about Lyme disease.

It’s very disconcerting to think about something so tiny causing so much havoc, or, in the case of the Powassan virus, even death. This has made me hyper-aware of my body, for two reasons.

One, I need to be on alert for any possible symptom. As my doctor said, I should pay attention to anything unusual. This assumes I know what “usual” is. These days, that’s true, but it wasn’t always.

It made me wonder what would happen in an alternate universe, one where I still hated my body and pretended it wasn’t me. Would I know what seemed unusual? Would I even be able to make myself focus on my physical form when it had brought me so much anguish?

Also, if I was still fat, would I even go to the doctor for a tick bite? Or would I be so worried about weight stigma and judgment that I would wait to see if I got any symptoms, rather than go proactively? I have a strong suspicion it would be the latter.

This brings me to the second reason I’ve been focusing on my body: appreciation.

I am so grateful to have this physical form. Without it, it’s true I never would have felt pain, but then, I never would have felt or experienced anything. Certainly not the heady scent of lilacs in the spring, the taste of my dad’s rich and moist chocolate birthday cake with creamy vanilla frosting, the sound of mom’s laughter, or warm hugs from family and friends. I wouldn’t know the joy of writing or reading, music or birdsong or cat purrs, artwork or mountain vistas or the delightful, awkward grace of baby rabbits.

I am so grateful to have come into this world, something I want to focus on and remember more often. And here’s to having many more years to celebrate and enjoy it.

Note: Please take precautions and check for deer ticks if you live in an area where they’re around, and especially if they’re typically Lyme carriers.

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