Trust, Love, Show Up, Repeat

My yoga practice is teaching me that I tend to distrust life. I have not trusted the natural flow of life events and the result is tension and pain. As I learn to surrender to what is naturally occurring, wonderful things happen. Progress gets made. Not because I fought something, forced it or thought a lot about it but simply because I showed up.

When trying to explain this transformation to my husband, I likened it to learning to float. If you thrash about, afraid of drowning, you can drown. If you are too stiff and rigid, you can drown. However, if you just relax…let your limbs hang and work with the water, it holds you up and you FLOAT. You have to float before you can learn to move in such a way to make progress.

The feeling of letting go is not comfortable for me but I am learning it is necessary to experience the peace I seek. So… I’m practicing learning to float in the water of life.

Guess what?!…it’s holding me up! I’m experiencing my emotions instead of getting consumed by them. I’m having fun AND getting my work done. Say what?! I didn’t even know that was possible.

I want to do more than just “not drown” in life. I want to float, swim, glide with ease. I want to fly. I’ve experienced it enough now, I know it’s possible. However, just like air or water, I can’t hold it in my hand. I can’t clutch it or grasp for it. I have to relax into it.

Trust. Love. Show up. Repeat.

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

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Choosing to Not Return to the Burning Barn

During a recent gathering of great minds who help me keep perspective, one of my closest friends shared an intriguing observation.  If you remove cattle from a burning barn, they have to be restrained in a safe location or they will return to the burning building.  Why? Because they associate the barn with safety.  Even though the barn is no longer safe, their instinctual brains are driving them back to what they associate with comfort.

When I first heard this account, my mouth dropped open and I stared blankly.  The group thought that I was worried about the cows.  I wasn’t thinking about cattle.  I was thinking about how often I have returned to unhealthy behaviors because they are associated with comfort in my instinctual mind.  Somewhere along the line, ice cream, chocolate and milk gave me comfort.  Somewhere, I got the idea that life is about suffering and hard work.  My rational mind thinks that’s insane but my cow brain still desires to go back to the burning barn.

I started to think about how many people I have watched go back to their burning barns.  Addictions of various forms: food, money, sex, work, religion, exercise…  All of those things can be harmful in the extreme (in either direction… too little or too much).

I am practicing living in the moment, here and now.  Feeling my feelings as they happen, being in control of my actions but not which emotions I let myself feel.  It gives way to spontaneous tears, incredible joy and occasional anxiety.  But, you know what?  I’m still here!  My feelings aren’t fatal but continuing to go back to the burning barn is.

True West: True to Life Stuff

My husband and I attended Tallgrass Theatre three times in the past two weeks. Never before have I been moved to buy tickets for more than one night of a performance. However, “True West” was more than a performance.  It was a touching, emotional, powerful display of the complicated realm of human emotion.  Especially within dysfunctional families.

The first night, I was in shock.  The story felt so real I needed to make sure Shawn Wilson, the actor who played Lee that night, was okay.  As he turned bright red with a telephone cord around his neck, I believed his brother had killed him.  When Lee jumped up to close the show, I was certain he had still sustained some kind of injury. He was okay, thankfully, but I needed to check.

The second night, with Michael Davenport as Lee, I felt insanity oozing from the stage.  Michael was brilliant at playing a crazy, dangerous drunk who deep down just wanted something to work out.  I felt Austin’s angst (played by Shawn this time) as he tried to make everything okay, all the time.

Last night was best experience of them all.  Lee, played by Shawn again, started his lines sounding like a little boy that just wanted to be included in his brother’s life.  He also wanted merit of his own. The only way he knew to get it was by intimidation.  Isn’t that where insanity and violence usually stem from?  People just wanting to be loved and appreciated but not knowing how else to get it? Austin, played by Michael, started his lines as a man focused on his work, less afraid than in the first show.  The audience was completely sucked in, gasping, laughing, and making involuntary comments as the actors emoted their lines.

I had a week to think about why this experience kept me coming back for more even though it made me uncomfortable.  Typically, when violence comes onto screen, I close my eyes and cover my ears until the music tells me the worst is over.  I can’t stand to see anyone victimized.  Equals battling it out are fine but when it’s clear one has the upper hand and the other is powerless, I can’t handle it. I was the youngest of three and my mom was unpredictable.  I loved her but she was unpredictable. Just like Lee and Austin, she would be one way to me behind closed doors and another when others were around. I couldn’t tell if she loved me or hated me and I’m pretty sure it was both. Just like Austin, more than anything else (success, fame, money), I want to be included.  “What if I come with you Lee?”, Austin pleaded.  I push myself to be something, someone, on the map but, at any moment, could topple into the depths of despair just like he did.

When you love someone insane, they typically are not insane all the time. Sometimes you aren’t sure if they are the problem or you are. Sometimes it feels if you could just be enough, do everything right, make it big enough, their insanity would go away. That thinking is just as insane. “True West” with the set dressing and cast at Tallgrass Theatre SHOWED that to be true.

Thank you cast, crew and especially Tom Perrine for taking the risk and making this experience possible.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

Facing Food Addiction: Part 1

There are different statistics out there about the percentage of people who gain back weight after losing a significant portion of it.  There is scientific evidence suggesting that fat cells do not actually disappear without some kind of extreme intervention, they merely shrink.  The data can be bleak if you pay much attention.

A recent Facebook interaction with a dear friend preceded by an encouraging conversation with a new acquaintance only a few days before, has inspired me to start a series of blog posts about my journey overcoming food addiction.  If you look at the statistics of people successfully overcoming drug or alcohol addiction for the rest of their lives, the data is bleak as well.  That does not mean no one does it, it just means most don’t.

Unlike controlled substances or illegal drugs, you will die without food.  Food is fuel.  You need it for your brain to work, muscles to flex and accomplish your daily business.  Food is also the most socially acceptable substance to abuse.  My experience has been people more hastily criticize someone choosing to not eat certain foods than they will someone gorging past the point of comfort.  My goal here is to simply acknowledge managing food is tough stuff.  It’s not easy, but it is possible.

There are people who argue that everyone carries weight differently and that some people are just made to be fat.  They will claim their metabolisms are slow or that society unnecessarily judges them for being who they are.  If that applies to you, this series of blog posts is likely not your cup of tea.

I hated being fat.  I hated not being able to walk up stairs comfortably…Not able to run a block without feeling like my lungs would collapse…Not able to fit into clothes at Target.  I hated being overlooked, treated like I was invisible while my sexy, skinny friends got all the attention.  I HATED being the project of the “wing man”.  I disliked feeling fatigued…I felt trapped in an ugly, “too big” body and didn’t know what to do about it.  I hated myself because of it.

Now, I can run several miles without feeling the least bit winded.  Last fall, I completed my first marathon.  Stairs are no trouble at all, unless I run up several flights of them at a time, but even then, I can keep going without feeling like my legs will fall off.  I have a full, happy life and have recently been recharged by some new people who have blessed my path.  This was not accomplished just by dieting…. no… just dieting does little long term.

Did I follow a meal and exercise plan to the letter for several months?  Yes. Do I still follow it to the letter now? No.  Did I change my lifestyle?  Yes.  Is it easy?  No. Did I have support?  Yes.  Do all my friends, family and coworkers follow my diet? Not a bloody chance!

In the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about what’s worked for me, what’s set me back and what keeps me going.  I am not a doctor, psychologist or nutritionist but I have successfully kept off 30% of my original body weight for over 3 years now.  I’ve taken the advice of all three classes of professionals and am an expert at being human.  A mom…A wife… A business woman… A friend…

 

SIDE NOTE:  If you have a particular struggle you want to share or a topic you would like me to cover here, please email me  at powerfrominside @ gmail.com.

 

From my hear to yours, thank you for reading.