Hello world, I have gained weight. I know I have gained weight. I'm okay with it. It seems however, the rest of you aren't.
The other day, I bumped into an old acquaintance at a shopping mall and within 30 seconds, she had looked me up and down, waggled her eyebrows, made several gestures at my evident weight gain and asked, "What happened?"
This isn't the first time I've been asked this; not the first time someone has extended this grimace of condescending pity as if something terrible had befallen me, like I'd just been declared bankrupt, accidentally threw up on the Queen's' shoes or been viciously attacked by a flock of geese.
So this is a memo, dear world, an explanatory editor's note in the Book of Life to inform you that when someone loses weight or puts on weight, when their bodies change, when pimples appear on their faces, when they look different than the last time you say them it doesn't have to mean that something bad happened.
(I know, such a revolutionary idea. Bear with me.)
Even if something did happen, it's not really for you to monitor. My body is not your business and not for you to police. It's mine. I don't go into your home and criticise how you've decorated it, sneer at the peeling paint or inspect the way you clean, do I? Well exactly. My body is my home, and I'd really rather you didn't leave the grubby footprints of your judgment all over it.
Still, after that recent encounter, I was struck most by that question -- What happened? - and realised, heck, a helluvalot actually. For the first time ever, I allowed myself to sit with that question for a long while and think about all the things that had happened (to me) while I was gaining weight.
What happened was that I reconnected with old friends and made a whole bunch of new ones - with whom I would go out for meals and coffees and wine, where we'd fill up our bellies with delicious plates of food and laughing, stories and plans and dreams.
What happened was that I got an offer for every job I applied to. So I chose the best one - with one of the biggest brands in the world, where I was invited to dine and drink champagne, and went on trips abroad to eat, drink, live, play in the name of work.
What happened was that through this job, I had the opportunity of working with some of the best people I've ever worked with - kind, gracious, intelligent women who taught me so much not just at work but in living, laughing and loving.
What happened was that I've also had my writing published in some of my favourite websites, where I was able to write in the freest, most empowered voice I have in a long time; where I've had the privilege of reaching hundreds of thousands of people with my words; and where I've met some kickass talented writers, passionate activists and all-round incredible human beings.
What happened was that I started exercising four to five times a week; where I run and weightlift, dance and do yoga not for some weight-loss regime but because I love it, and have learnt to adore and respect the movement my body allows.
What happened was that I travelled to old and new places, felt the sun on my face and sweat down my back, walked for miles in search of adventures, saw things I'd not seen before, made friends with strangers in markets and fell in love with the world.
What happened was that I found this rare balancing act of calm so that I am as filled up on joy and peace when I'm all alone in my bedroom as when I am when out at 2 in the morning drinking gin surrounded by old, loud friends; what happened was me discovering how to be happy anywhere, doing anything.
What happened was that I eventually decided to return to further study, received offers from each university I applied to and was offered a full research scholarship for a PhD, in an area of work I'm hugely passionate and excited about.
What happened was that I rediscovered what it meant to live freely and fully, with centredness and love and all good things.
What happened was that I remembered there was a whole wide world of amazing things to think about that are way more important and awesome than the size of my body and the way I look.
What happened is that I'm now the happiest and healthiest I've ever been in my life.
What happened was that I filled up on life -- and if that also meant I literally, physically filled out, I would celebrate that too.
So yes, I have gained weight. I'm bigger and rounder and fleshier than I've ever been. But I've gained so many other things in the process too; the extra pounds of flesh and fat are just a tiny part of all the other abundances.
And when I meet you (and you and you), I'd love to tell you all about it, tell you what's been happening -- that's if you really want to know.