My body has been through a lot over the past six years, over my lifetime really. Two C-sections to give birth to my three sons, between those another surgery to fix a birth defect so I could have more children, many other "exploratory" procedures to find out why I was not conceiving after the birth of Sterling. My stomach is no longer taut, it’s lumpy, jiggly and bares the scars of those surgeries and pregnancies. Over my lifetime it has been starved, binged, purged, battered and abused, but I am now at peace with this body. I accept this stage of my life and development; the stretch marks and scars might not be my favorite accessories, but I recognize the trials that this body has been through and love it in spite of its perceived flaws. Through diet and exercise maybe over time it will resemble something of its former self, but I know I can never go back- nor do I want to. As women, our bodies are life-sustaining and giving forces, and while this gift comes with some physical drawbacks, we all need to stop and remember the awesome power that carrying another human life inside of us is and be gracious to our bodies. Don’t forsake your journey, embrace the body you have and rejoice in the here and now. Things don't always follow the plan and maybe your body has been bruised by infertility, addiction, abuse, children or any other number of things. The first step in moving beyond anything that is holding you back is letting go. In the past I allowed my disdain for my appearance to stifle my joy. We took my oldest son to the beach when he was 18 months old. There are countless photos and videos of him splashing and playing in and out of the water with reckless abandon, his father and grandfather are right there with him. The joy is palpable in those photos, but what is missing is me. I am not in a single picture because I was too embarrassed. Where is the logic in that? As if the body police were going to write me a citation right then and there for having a post-baby body that wasn't a perfect 10? No, the only one who cared was me; not a single another human on that beach cared what I looked like in my swimsuit. I missed out on a wonderful time making memories with my son because of my pride. I refused to make that same mistake ever again. Here we are at the beach again, and my body is now a “post-traumatic twin pregnancy” body, and I didn’t allow myself to feel bad about it or let myself to poison my thoughts with negativity. This body is amazing! I made it through the hell of infertility, sustained twins and kept them in for as long as I possibly could, even when my body had other plans. I stayed on bedrest for months to keep my precious boys safe and thriving, and I am cognizant of this when I look at my self in the mirror. I look at myself now with compassion, kindness, and acceptance; This is the stage my body is in, and I love it for the gifts it has given me. I think about it this way, do you look around at other people having fun and judge their appearance? If you do, go ahead and get some compassion in your life. I don’t judge these people, if I see someone playing with their kids or just living their best life it makes me smile! I am happy for them, and it inspires me to do the same. Childhood is fleeting, these tiny people will be grownups all too soon, and life is fleeting. We can't allow ourselves to be swallowed up by the flaws and insecurities that we think everyone else can see, life is too short to worry about what other people think. Now that vacation has come and gone and all we have are the memories, I know my boys won’t remember that I was a little lumpy in my swimsuit, they will remember the fun. The photos may reveal that my figure isn’t perfect, but those photos won’t reveal my heart and the hardships I endured to have all my sons, but they will show the joy if I surrender to the moment and accept myself and I am. Love yourself, be kind to yourself and be kind to your body. Remember that you are beautiful and worthy of happiness and joy. Don’t let pride, fear, regret or anything else steal precious moments. Wear the swimsuit, run around and play with your kids, dance, and live a life of joy. In the end, we will all just be memories and photographs, leave behind a legacy of unbridled joy for everyone around you to cherish.