If you have been following My Body My Image then you are well aware that the basic principles of the philosophy we hold are based in Acceptance, Appreciation, and Respect for our bodies. Our bodies and the perspectives we have of them are deeply personal and subjective, what we see when we regard ourselves (or others) and how we feel may make no sense to outsiders but it is for better or worse our personal truth, and very real. There is a saying “It’s a fact that you feel but feelings aren’t facts” Others see us and make assumptions about who we are and how we “must feel” about ourselves based on how we look, dress, our comportment and our actions. What you see is never all that you get, there is always something more, deeper, that personal truth.
This what I discovered when I met Lynne Greenberg the author of The Body Broken a memoir that tells of tale of a life of broken bones, a matrix of doctors, specialists, tests, and surgeries that to this day have not eradicated the chronic pain in her head. Through her physical ordeal which began with a car crash when she was 19 years old that left her with a broken neck, the results of which revisited her later in life with an unabated searing pain down the center of her head, she has not merely learned, but has become the embodiment of acceptance, appreciation and respect, for the body, both it’s fragility, it’s resilience, and it’s endurance. This is why she is our BODY HERO of the Week
One of the other things By Body My Image strives to do is to elasticize the concepts of the way we think about our bodies, not only in their size and shape, or beauty but in the respect for the wonder of the functionality of the body as an organism. Involuntarily our hearts beat, our lungs expand and contract oxygenating our blood, we have an internal healing system of white blood cells, we have senses that take in information and inform, warn and give us the ability to experience pleasure and yes pain too. We take such things for granted as we move through our lives until something goes awry. Instead we get caught up in the way we look, the type of clothes we wear and their size, the length of our hair, the size of our hips, noses, or lips. We lose sight of how blessed we actually are to have our health (the rest is mud). This is not an admonishment, not at all, it’s more of a reminder for us all, myself included. When we can put things into perspective, and prioritize what is of importance we can be kinder, gentler, and more compassionate with ourselves and empathetic towards others. This is what Lynne’s story did for me, it grounded me.
I came to know Lynne through the Ailey School 3 years ago where her son Ben was a student in my class. I quickly dubbed him “Prince Ben” as he put me in mind of an animated Disney prince, with his classic handsome features not yet matured, wavy sun-streaked blond hair, chiseled jaw, and easy going surfer dude demeanor. He’s the boy the girls secretly swoon over. He had a lightness about him, there was no gravity to his person, he wore the air of a young boy who had lived a charmed life, where birds tweeted and landed gently on your shoulder. Birds don’t poop boys like Ben. When I met his mother for the first time it was during a parent observation week. I was delighted to meet her, After all I just had to meet the Queen of this fair Prince. She is a petite woman with the same sun-streaked hair and classic features, she was surprisingly young and cool I could hardly believe she was old enough to have a 13 year old son. I could see where Ben got it from. In my mind it confirmed what I thought I knew, he was charmed boy from a charmed family, who led a charmed life, but I was only half right, there is always more to the story, you just have to keep reading.
Just last week I was speaking with Ben about dance stuff when he told me about his mother’s book and her story. I was awed. I had seen this woman numerous times and never had a clue that all the while we were speaking this smiling engaging woman was in pain. She is always in pain. When he told me about her physical journey, of how she used to be a dancer and even after the car crash she danced in college (it was in fact a part of her rehabilitation). He spoke of the year she was interned to her bed unable to work (she is an associate professor of English at Hunter College) or mother her children (Ben and his younger sister Lilly). He told me of the surgery that stabilized her neck but left her with limited mobility, yet did not alleviate the pain, and how in spite of that she loves to surf, and mix it up with her kids. There was no question in my mind that this woman’s story was something that needed to be a part of this forum. I am humbled and honored to make Lynne Greenberg MBMI’s Body Hero of the week and her memoir The Body Broken (Random House) our Must Read for this summer!