Friends, I’m thrilled to extend this cozy space today for a dear friend. And while the blog sets up a virtual guest room for her today, I’m excited to know we get to prepare for her family’s real life arrival to our space in just a couple of weeks.
Once she was just a blog friend. But then we decided to do this crazy thing where I flew miles across the country with my kids to spend a week with her family. And all those “wouldn’t it be cool if we met in real life?” conversations came to life. My girls kicked up the dust in Montana fields with her girls while Nici and I confirmed what we knew to be true–that we were meant to be friends.
Photo Credit: Logan Castor Parson
Nici lives in Montana with her husband and two girls, and while I could go on about her domestic talents and artsy inspiration, what I really love most about Nici is her heart. This adventurous, nurturing, truth-chasing, love-sharing, kindness-spreading heart.
So happy to have her in our space today.
You Are Awesome
by Nici Holt Cline
I am a runner. Much like declaring that I am a writer or I am an artist, it took me a while to be able to speak that simple, affirmative, true statement instead of saying something like I run or I enjoy writing.
I am a runner.
When I was 16, I squirmed around being a Runner because I didn’t have the runner’s body I thought I needed to be taken seriously. I could run a 5:50 mile but I had big boobs and hips scarred with stretch marks. I fought my body. I ate nothing but carrots for days and ran until I was dizzy. I ate six bowls of Honeycomb cereal and puked it all up in the woods behind my house. And then ran to makeup for the unhealthy binge. I dropped 40 pounds in a month and got praise from my track coach. Imagine how much faster you will be next fall? she said.
The cycle of binging and purging was my identity. By the time I was 19, I thought I’d probably die from it because I couldn’t imagine life without the lies, the obsession, the body hatred. I accepted that sentence flatly. I was miserable and tricked myself into believing I was in control and that there was always room for improvement; each day I could live on five fewer calories than the day before forever until…
I crashed hard my second quarter and landed in the hospital. I didn’t want to be there but I went. For my parents and my friends, who had cried and begged. I wasn’t underweight. I still didn’t have a runner’s body.
Alexis was 14 and on a feeding tube, her cheek bones nearly puncturing her flesh. That’s dedication, I thought. Marisa was my age and there for the third time. Brenda was a compulsive overeater and her twin was anorexic. Mary was a mother of two, so thin and pale that she couldn’t stand, so depressed she couldn’t talk. This was her sixth stay. I shared my soul with these women, all day every day for three months and then I never saw them again.
A few weeks in, I understood my luck in being there. I decided it wasn’t cool that I hadn’t had my period for three years. I didn’t want rotten teeth and failing organs. I didn’t want to be here for a sixth time or a second time. I wondered if maybe the woman who loved her body was actually truthful, that maybe I could be that woman. In one day I went from rolling my eyes at being in the hospital to hugging the opportunity I had been handed. And that was it. I decided and I changed.
I was there for three months. I graduated and left the state against medical advice, making it impossible to get insurance coverage should I ever need hospitalization again. I’ll forever remember that angry doctor’s face. I know he had my best interests at heart but I, for the first time in years, didn’t need someone else with my best interests at heart because I knew my best interests.
Holy shit. I was confident.
I moved back to Montana, the place I always felt most beautiful and successful. The place that raised my parents, my grandparents and great-grandparents. The land is in me.
I started running again. Or, I started running for the first time. I ran to feel good, to inhale, to move over mountains, to clear my head, to feel connected. I was strong. I was brave. With every step, I shoved my eating disorder into the earth. I ran and ran until my former self was a tiny, waving flag on a distant summit. And then I stopped turning around to wave back. And then I started only looking ahead.
That summer, despite my best efforts to avoid a relationship, I fell in love with the man I’d marry. Sixteen years later, we have two daughters. I run with them and for them. I am always honest and they will only ever hear me make positive statements about my body. Even if I feel ugly or chubby I smile and say I look forward to hiking up that hill because I know it will feel so good to feel strong.
Last week I ran, pushing my three year old in the stroller. The sun was at my back and I heaved 34 pounds up hill. I leaned in, breathed hard, barely moving. A tall, willowy man ran down the hill toward us. He was fast and sturdy, each stride gaining him feet of movement. When we were about 10 feet apart, he pumped both hands over his head and yelled YOU ARE AWESOME! YEAH!
It surprised me. I smiled and we passed each other.
Ruby said, “Mama? That man thinks you are awesome?”
“I think you are awesome too.”
I have a runner’s body.
Nici Holt Cline is a fourth generation Montanan raising a fifth with her childhood crush. She is small business-owning creative type who dreams big, believes perspective shapes reality and loves life’s lessons. She likes mothering, running, red lipstick, growing food, martinis and nice people. She writes regularly on her award-winning blog dig this chick and sells her handmades here.
In two weeks, we will hug again and watch our kids play together on the beach. I can’t wait.