When I had my first daughter, my body changed.

I was never an Elle MacPherson girl, but after years of hiking and mountaineering, I was feeling confident about my body. The arrival of my daughter made me grateful for its wisdom and its capacities.

However, people were thinking otherwise. Well-wishers often told me that with time I would get “even better than before”. I didn’t get what was wrong with my “before”, but my husband was happy with the prospect, so I didn’t ask. I only said “Thank You, I will”, noblesse oblige. My sensitive hormones, the tiredness that comes with a new baby, and the chit-chat, had the opposite effect. So, I was not looking good, after all! Oh well, there was no point in trying. I couldn’t do everything at once. I wanted to be a mum, I was good at it and I loved it.

When my second daughter came, the bet of fitness was lost. With two babies in three years, a move to my husband’s hometown, and a new business on the way, there was not much space for self-questioning, let alone doing anything about something you cannot bother with. This is how it went on, with the occasional dieting which was met with “God, you look sick!”, in retrospect, a way of pulling me back to my overweight self and the “poor little young mom” conversation stereotype. And the scales would go up again. After 15 years of running a successful interior design business, continuing my pre-wedding work as a journalist, part-time, and raising three children (my son came a few years later) I had a plate full of life, but I could not enjoy it. The same tape played again and again in my mind. People who “cared” always found the means to express their concern about the one thing I did not have the stamina to care about: my weight.

With a major dramatic upheaval in our lives and tons of stress, my weight climbed out of control. I was not present or conscious of my body anymore. No diet, no fitness program, no machine could get me to my “ideal weight”. My homeopath and my energy worker could find nothing wrong to speak of, about what I was eating. Moving was adequate, though DH would not consider “allowing” me to do any exercise. To him, I was now OK the way I was and besides, I had enough on my plate-no question of taking anything off it himself.

Then, it dawned on me. The problem was not my eating habits. What was wrong was that what people wanted, or forced upon me in order to make me feel better, was what made them feel better or superior, but it was not what I wanted. I was trying to apply the wrong connections, and my body refused to cooperate.

As if from another lifetime, my academic experience as an archaeologist surfaced. It was nestled deep inside me and it was not just knowledge, it was not plain experience on the field. It was empathy. Those Neolithic figurines from the Greek islands, the Cyclades, worshiped women’s bodies, not in the classical ideal way but as real-life women depicted post-childbirth. Their tummies were loose and folded and their breasts were hanging from the pristine white Cycladic marble. These were goddesses of fertility, and they were adored. Were they used as talismans or tributes to women who had died in childbirth, those Mother Goddess statuettes were talking to me.

So, then, my body had not betrayed me by getting “out of shape”. It took new plasticity to get me from the virgin Artemis to the expansive Mother Goddess that birthed children, business, artistic work, writing, partnerships, and friendships. That was my path. That was me.

That was when things began shifting. Through the process I developed I began finding my way back to me. Being the best version of myself became my target to this day. I realized that what I am here to do, is help other women through the mental, spiritual, and physical embodiment of Ancient Greek Female Archetypes, reach inside to their own goddess of female power, whichever form she takes for them at that stage of their life.

Does my journey speak to you? How do you perceive your body? How do others perceive you, and how does that influence your vision, your life, and how you use your power? I’d love you to let me know!

(Image credit: Marble female figure from the Cyclades, Greece. Final Neolithic, c. 4500–4000 B.C. Museum number 1972.118.104, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States).