wisdom (nourishment) from dear sugar.

there have been two books in my life where i've said, if i had all the money in the world (or even just enough) i'd buy this for everyone i know.

for every woman i've ever known (for every woman everywhere, actually): what french women know: about love, sex, and other matters of the heart

and for every person ever (men and women alike): tiny beautiful things

tiny beautiful things is a compilation of many of cheryl strayed's columns as dear sugar writing for the rumpus. {i've posted some of those columns/ letters here before.}

last week and the week before when i was thinking about this idea of to nourish i was reading tiny beautiful things for the second time when i happened upon a letter by a woman in her mid-fifties who had just ended her marriage with her husband and was venturing into that terrifying world of meeting men and making love and forging real connections (a difficult thing for anyone, at any age).

much of her letter revealed a certain level of disease with her body. all women, all ages, we all have it, don't we?

and so i wanted to share some of what sugar//ms. strayed wrote. (to nourish).

(please note: what follows can be found in its entirety on page 178 of tiny beautiful things. what follows are just bits and pieces i wanted to share. all words are by the unparalleled cheryl strayed.)

"I've advised people to set healthy boundaries and communicate mindfully and take risks and work hard on what actually matters and confront contradictory truths and trust the inner voice that speaks with love and shut out the inner voice that speaks with hate. But the things is--the thing so many of us forget--is that those values and principles don't only apply to our emotional lives. We've got to live them out in our bodies too. 

Yours. Mine. Droopy and ugly and fat and thin and marred and wretched as they are. We have to be as fearless about our bellies as we are with our hearts. 

Real change happens on the level of the gesture. It's one person doing one thing differently than he or she did before...It's you and me standing naked before our lovers, even if it makes us feel kind of squirmy in a bad way when we do. The work is there. It's our task. Doing it will give us strength and clarity. It will bring us closer to who we hope to be. 

You don't have to be young. You don't have to be thin. You don't have to be "hot" in  a way that some dumbfuckedly narrow mindset has construed that word. You don't have to have taut flesh or a tight ass or an eternally upright set of tits.

You have to find a way to inhabit your body while enacting your deepest desires. You have to be brave enough to build the intimacy you deserve. You have to take off all your clothes and say, "I'm right here."

There are so many tiny revolutions in a life, a million ways we have to circle around ourselves to grow and change and be okay. And perhaps the body is our final frontier. It's the one place we can't leave. We're there till it goes. Most women and some men spend their lives trying to alter it, hide it, prettify it, make it what it isn't, or conceal it for what it is. But what if we didn't do that?

We don't know--as a culture, as a gender, as individuals, you and I. The fact that we don't know is feminism's one true failure. We claimed agency, we granted ourselves the authority, we gathered the accolades, but we never stopped worrying about how our asses looked in our jeans. There are a lot of reasons for this, a whole bunch of Big Sexist Things We Can Rightfully Blame. But ultimately, like anything, the change is up to us. 

The culture isn't going to give you permission to have "robust, adventurous sex" with your droopy and aging body, so you're going to have to be brave enough to take it for yourself. 

I know as women we're constantly being scorched by the relentless porno/Hollywood beauty blowtorch, but in my real life I've found that the men worth fucking are far more good-natured about the female body in its varied forms than is generally acknowledged. "Naked and smiling" is one male friend's only requirement for a lover. Perhaps it's because men are people with bodies full of fears and insecurities and short-comings of their own. Find one of them. One who makes you think and laugh and come. Invite him into the tiny revolution in your beautiful new world.