“So what is it about our big bellies?” Molly broached the delicate subject bravely to Thea as they relaxed on their elbows on a sunny grassy patch in Thea’s back yard, the objects in question very much in evidence. She was feeling rather coyote-ish today. Wanting to goose herself and thought maybe her new friend was up to the challenge, given all the bellies in Thea’s paintings they’d just been looking at. “Did yours come in menopause or have you always been this shape?”

“Oh definitely menopause,” responded Thea. “I was relatively small breasted ‘til then.”

“Me too. When I was nursing Ethan my breasts were large, of course, but they went back down. I could never figure out why I needed big breasts after the Change. It’s not like I’d be producing any more babies. Do you have food issues too?”

“Some. I’m definitely an emotional eater. There’s nothing like a box of Ritz crackers when I’m feeling blue. Luckily it’s only one box though and mini-binges of cookies when I’m edgy or overwhelmed. Mostly I don’t keep them in the house.”

“It’s Wheat Thins for me. With my Cancerian sun I’ve been told I incline towards emotional eating. So I figured that was my excuse,” Molly laughed. “I use chocolate to keep me going at ReBound. There are always goodies sitting around. People love to bring us treats, often homemade. In low moments I’ve even been known to dig into the instant cocoa, adding a little water to moisten it and eating it straight. Only when nobody is looking, of course!”

“That’s a good one,” Thea laughed. “Chocolate is the only thing I lie about. I still drink coffee too.”

“I had to give that up years ago because it made my breasts sore. I only have it now as a treat or when I really want to get something done. The staff love it when I do: ‘We’ll get work out of Molly today!’”

“But really,” said Thea. “I doubt that either of us eats all that unhealthily or in great quantity. Especially compared to how I ate growing up. I don’t have serious food issues – bulimia or anorexia – like some people I know. Thank goodness. It feels to me like there is something else going on. I get so jealous of people like Ursula. She seems to eat whatever she wants and never shows it. I’m sure she has other issues, of course.”

There was a pause while they both imagined being able to eat without being so conscious of weight gain all the time. What would it be like to live without that guilt?

Molly broke the silence, “I have a theory that it’s about hiding from our power. Either hiding what’s really going on from the outside world – and ourselves – or our flab is protectiveinsulation from the energetic missiles shot (mostly unintentionally) from the people around us. Or just being so empathetic. Probably all of the above.”

“That makes sense. You’re out in the public a lot more than I am and I’ve heard you talk about ReBound as a place where a lot of stale energy is flying around, but I’m definitely shy and protective about my forays into weirdness and woo woo. You seem so self-confident though. Of course, I haven’t known you very long.”

“In some ways I am and I’ve had a lot of experience with the spiritual stuff. But I know I’m not completely in my power. There are frontiers I’ve been afraid to cross though I don’t quite know what they are.”

“Do you feel comfortable in your body?” asked Thea, knowing that she herself wasn’t most of the time.

“Hell, no. I try to see my weight as a normal part of being an older woman. But I look just like my mother did which is most irritating, as I swore I never would be like that.” Molly smiled knowingly, pushing her glasses further up on her nose. “I’d so much rather have gray hair than be fat! The thing that really ticks me off is that I thought I was fat before. Now I look at old pictures and want to weep because I didn’t appreciate how thin I actually was. My mom had me drinking diet shakes when I was a teenager and stressing about it way back then. I sometimes wonder if that way of thinking set me up for this.”

“I keep going back and forth between trying to identify with all those fat, black mamas in my cultural lineage and thinking I could lose weight if I just concentrated on it enough.”

“Exactly. Or knew enough about magic and healing. Do I relax into who I am and what I look like in the now? Or knuckle in and do the healing work necessary to get to a place that’s physically more comfortable for me? I do a lot of yoga and I hate it that my stomach gets in the way in Child’s Pose.”

“I have the same questions. I know regular dieting is not the answer. Nor is guilt tripping myself. I’ve tried both and the weight always comes back. Been there, done that.”

“Avoiding dairy helped me lose weight for a while,” said Molly. “It cleared up some of my gut issues too, but the weight didn’t stay off even though I mostly still avoid dairy…. I think. It’s so hard to be honest with myself about what I actually do and don’t eat. There’s will and there’s surrender and it’s a fine, fine line there where it ought to click.”

“Third chakra stuff.”

“Duh!” Molly stared at Thea and, amazed she’d never made that connection before, bopped herself lightly on the head. “You’re so right. Stomach is third chakra!”

“Sometimes I think the fat mama image is just a black stereotype I’m trying to avoid. And that makes me feel guilty too.”

“For me it’s the Earth Mama stereotype. Which I kind of like. Either way it’s not a shape our dominant culture values. When I think about it that way I feel I should let go of worrying about it just to show that one can be smart and grounded and eat well and be FAT.”

“P.H.A.T.” Thea spelled it out. “Thinking about it with that spelling, makes it a more positive, damn-the-cultural-ideal thing to me.

“That’s cool,” said Molly. “It’s like Ursula and Pia being determined to use the word ‘witch.’ It makes people nervous and calls up all sorts of negative images and they can handle that. Groove on it, actually.”

“For me the bottom line is being healthy.”

“Yes, I don’t ever want to have to give up climbing the Mountain or doing yoga. Those activities ought to be helping me.”

“That’s helping you stay healthy. Just not thin.”

“Well, if I did it more often….”

“Or didn’t eat carrot cake from Angel’s afterwards. I deserve it, you know, after all that good exercise!” They both howled knowingly.

“The intention thing is so tricky,” Thea picked up the thread. “We so often ask for what we want in ways that our bodies and psyches can’t understand. I read somewhere that when we ask to lose weight, all the spirits and our bodies hear is ‘weight’ and they give it to us.”

“Or when I surrender to whatever wants to be,” said Molly, “but then hedge the bet a little by having a stressed image of really wanting the thinner version of the possible future me.”

“Mostly I mind all the energy it takes. It seems like there are so much more important things to focus on.”

“Sure is a good teacher though. An alcoholic or drug addict can drop the addicting substance completely – not that it’s easy but it’s possible. As embodied humans we can’t not eat. We have to sustain ourselves so the issue is always there in front of us.”

“What a journey. I suppose I’d rather have this belly as a teacher than cancer or drug addiction.”

“And I do love the way my belly feels when I give people full body hugs. There’s a lot of good energy there,” Molly said, patting it fondly.

“Your specialty. Nothing quite like a Molly hug. Cures whatever ails ya’.”

Molly grinned and jumped up. “I need to get going. Thanks for the tea and thanks for the talk. Let’s keep in touch about this. I have a feeling it’s a good magical edge for us to both make some shifts. Let’s think about our Third Chakras – liver and gall bladder. Pancreas. Owen would recommend Dandelion and Yellow Dock. Let’s see if he has some essences or tinctures. Maybe Rhea can teach us some belly dance moves so we can celebrate our bellies more.”