Real Can Be Messy

Do you know why I create a roller coaster? Do you know why I withdrawal and tune out when someone is trying to be close? Do you know why I sabotage myself?

I do.

I say I want real and authentic. I do. Because anything less than isn’t satisfying.

But…..

I want “real and authentic” packaged in a pretty little box with a perfectly tied ribbon. I want just the good, sweet, fun parts. I want sunshine and rainbows and kittens to be real all the time.

But it’s not.

Sometimes life sucks. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes all of us are less than stellar in our thoughts/behavior…and that’s real too.

Real isn’t ever going to be as convenient as plastic. Real isn’t predictable. Real isn’t controllable.

I don’t get to pick which parts of real I want to feel any more than I get to pick which feelings I feel. It’s an “all in” or “missing out” proposition. Any attempts to numb the uncomfortable or prune away the inconvenient, comes at a steep price… it also numbs the good.

Same as I don’t get to feel happy all the way unless I feel sad all the way….. I can’t get the rewarding, euphoric,
wonderful parts of real unless I am willing to experience the messy, hard, painful, miserable parts of real. Denying the latter doesn’t make it go away, it just blocks me from the bliss that’s possible.

Much of what I thought needed to be fixed isn’t actually broken. It just isn’t fun or convenient. Much of what I question if I can live with are things I am going to experience with anyone being real…. at some point, anyone being authentic and true to himself/herself is going to do something I am not happy about. The parts I don’t like in others are parts I don’t like in myself. I can break up relationships but I still have to live with myself.

If my last husband couldn’t figure out how to make me happy all the time, no one can. He learned how I operated so intimately, he could side step conflicts before they could even start. He knew exactly what to do so I always felt safe. His only mission in life was to support me and make me a happy wife. And you know what? That wasn’t enough for me…. it wasn’t satisfying any more than aspartame gum.

Shit……

That’s why I want catch phrases and “rules”. That’s why I try to dissect meaning out of every little thing…. I want to try to figure REAL out so I can genetically modify it into just the part that’s pleasurable to experience. But then all I get is the equivalent of a Stepford husband. It’s not real anymore.

(Sigh) ……..

I want to learn how to speak up for myself when responses aren’t guaranteed. I want to learn how to be unconditionally loving and accepting. I want to give wholeheartedly from a pure place.

It ain’t always going to be easy…but I believe it’s worth it.

 

From my heart to yours,

thanks for reading

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Out of Crisis

Most of my life has been in some sort of crisis mode. Sometimes personal, sometimes relational, sometimes professional. It’s been something almost continuously since I was around 8 years old.

Today, there are many unknowns in my life but no crises. Everything is working out and falling into place. So many things I worried about in the past are either resolved or no longer a concern.

The few times in my life when someone’s life has been on the line in my hands, I was calm and rational until help showed up and then I completely fell apart. Every emotion, every fear, every pain, came flooding through all at once. As mentioned in previous posts, I have historically been better at thinking about my feelings than feeling them. Now that I am on the other side of crisis, I have space to feel fully and it’s intense.

Unresolved issues from many stages of my life are getting triggered in one form or another for processing. I am practicing all the things I encourage other people to do in my coaching and workshop practice and uncovering my own hang ups. I can easily say to myself “I love you” “I approve of you” “Everything I touch is a success” but…… If I try to say “I am a success” in the mirror or looking at another person, waterworks fall. And I am not talking about trickling tears, I am talking about tears big enough to form a puddle in my lap. So much of my life has been merit based. “Notice me!” “See how good I am doing?!”…. But inside, feeling completely insufficient and inadequate.

I share my struggles because there is something therapeutic about saying it aloud and to encourage others who are facing similar challenges but keeping it bottled up inside, feeling alone. My drive to heal the world stems from my desire to heal myself. Maybe when the whole world is healed, I will be too….. But that’s a bit backwards. The more I deal with and process my own junk, the more powerful I can be in the world helping others do the same.

We are all connected. No one suffers alone. No one rejoices alone. We all feed into and pull from the collective energy force we all share.

There is nothing wrong with feelings. They are what they are. There is shadow whenever there is light. Every experience has a lesson and a blessing, whether joyous or painful. May we all be open to learning the lessons and receiving the blessings.

From my heart to yours,
Thanks for reading

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.

Hungry

Working on building a stronger relationship with my self, I’m learning what drives my appetite.

I lost a considerable amount of weight essentially counting calories and working out. I burned more than I ate.  I learned to eat more nutritious food but mostly because it was low calorie, not really because it was nutritious.  I told myself I would always want too much and I had to control it.

Now, I am telling myself I can be trusted.  I’m practicing asking myself my three questions (see earlier posts).  Last week, I ate more sugar than usual.  I had treats while traveling on business.  I barely worked out.  However, I did not gain any weight and I broke my personal record for a 5K Saturday morning feeling great!  My desire for the things I wanted last week went away.  It’s almost like my inner self was testing to see if I really trusted her or not.  Perhaps she needed something in what I was eating.  She was scared and what I ate helped her feel better.

I only want so much healthy food.  This morning, I substituted a pancake for sauteed kale.  When I eat kale, it feels like my body is saying “yay!!!!!!!” even though I don’t care for the taste much.  I recall times of eating twice as many pancakes and feeling like I still wanted more.

I’m done telling myself I’m fat.  Instead, I’m telling myself that it’s ok to lose the fat I do not need and working to stay in tune with my inner voice.  I’m done comparing myself to other people.  This is my body, this is where I live, no one else.

Instead of controlling my appetite, I’m working with it.  My fat keeps me warm when others are cold.  If it’s fed with non toxic food, it’s there to fuel me when I need it to.  When I was 230lbs, I would have been THRILLED with 168.2 so I choose to be thrilled now.

I deserve to be the best I can be.  Nothing more, nothing less.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

4 Years

Today marks 4 years of successfully addressing my food addiction and maintaining weight loss.

Last night, I attended my first gala.  In 24 hours time I found a dress, shoes, jewelry, the right hairspray and someone to do amazing makeup for me.  When I first had the opportunity to go, I was worried about all of those things but went to a quiet place inside and asked myself if I really wanted to go.  When the answer was “yes”, I had faith everything else would work out.  There was a part of me that was a little concerned.  However, bigger than that worry was faith everything would work out in the end. (If it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end).

I tried on several dresses that were “ok” but not “wow”.  A few pounds ago I felt like I looked good in everything (just some things looked better than others) but now, I wasn’t sure if it was possible to look “wow” anymore.  I went to a quiet place inside and listened for guidance.  I was guided to a store I’d never been before to a style that I’d never tried before and it was ‘the one’!  At the same place, a talented sales professional found me shoes and jewelry to perfectly compliment the dress. I checked out the VERY minute I needed to in order to make my makeup appointment that day.  Makeup took a little longer than I expected and I still needed to get hairspray before getting dressed to go.  After going to a quiet place inside again, I was guided to a store I didn’t know existed, just around the corner from where I had makeup done.   They didn’t have the exact hairspray I was looking for but they DID have ONE more bottle of something that held my hair JUST RIGHT all night!

My husband tells me women are like flavors of ice cream.  Lots of different flavors are good.  The same ice cream over and over gets boring.  Variety is the spice of life!  I’m my own flavor.  It’s not about how other people look.  I can look “wow” in my way.  It’s about me being my best.  I am beautiful.  

Yes, I just typed “I am beautiful” and a little voice said “You can’t say that” but that little voice is wrong.  I am not sure if it’s my ego talking, old tapes or something else but whatever it is, I’m not listening to it anymore.  Everyone’s true self is beautiful.  It is.  Thoughts that come in are nothing more than that, thoughts.  If they don’t suit me, I can change them, reframe them, or just let them go back where they came from.

It’s recently been reinforced to me that when I am true to myself, I give other people permission to be true to themselves.  Everyone who tunes in to their pure, holy, inner voice and develops a strong relationship with themselves, gives others permission to do the same.  Only when operating from that premise is it possible to unconditionally love.  When we unconditionally love, we make the world a better place (less violence, drug addiction, abuse, poverty, greed…).

I used to confuse my inner voice with addiction.  I thought my inner voice could not be trusted.  She’d lead me “astray”.  Now I know better.  She’s brilliant.  Pure, loving, trusting, kind…  My addiction is fed by something that does not want her to be heard.  Busyness distracts me from listening.  I’m practicing being quiet.  The more I practice, the easier I can get to a quiet place inside.  It’s kind of like how it’s easier to get somewhere you’ve been before than it was journeying there for the first time.

There’s no “quiet space” GPS for purchase (unless you count a good therapist).  I learned how to get there from other people who had found that place within themselves.  When I didn’t know where to find those people, I prayed for them to show up.  They did…out of nowhere.  All I did was believe something different was possible and asked for help getting there.

Once I found my little girl, my inner voice, she was quite upset with me for ignoring her.  She was tired of being hushed.  She is still indignant.  She just wants everyone to LOVE each other, be LOVING!!!  She can be trusted and we’re continuing to build that trust now.  I’m grateful she’s also very forgiving and understands that I never intentionally hurt her.  Going into year 5, I have promised her to listen and do my best.  I’ve vowed not to put her down because she doesn’t deserve that.  I know how to treat other people.  I know how to be a cheerleader and encourage others, she needs to be treated the same way.  She deserves my love, respect and protection.

I am working on feeding myself wholesome food instead of focusing on calories.  She helps with choosing those foods if I let her.  She wants a variety of healthy, whole food.  Yesterday, we tried wheatgrass juice for the first time and liked it!  Sometimes she wants sweet things but not too much, just a little.  I’m practicing asking myself the 3 questions from Jon Gabriel:

What is the food made of?

With what spirit was the food made? (kind, happy, loving people or something else)

What is my intention of eating the food?

I’m practicing visualizing the person I want to be and am looking forward to what I learn this next year!

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

My Truth About Relationships

At a few times in my life, I felt like I only had one friend.  Looking back, it was not as much of a friendship as a desperate plea to be accepted.  I didn’t accept myself.  I looked to someone else for that and it made me an extremely possessive, jealous person who couldn’t maintain a friendship.  Thankfully, most of those people are now true friends I am extremely grateful to have in my life!

I am continually amazed at how easily connections come when I am grounded and at peace with myself.  When I look into someone’s eyes, I see a heart, a soul, a spiritual person having a human experience.  Sometimes they seem to glow with white light, those are the ones I connect with the most.

Last night, I was at a party with a lot of people I had not interacted with before.  The environment was one of unconditional acceptance (a lot of genuine theater people).  At first, I felt uncomfortable, not quite sure what to do with myself.  I didn’t want to gorge on the food a few feet away but I didn’t really know what to do either.  So, I asked my higher power what I should do.  I stood around until the answers started coming.  A conversation here, an interaction there, a photo, a game, a song, a dance… It all summed up into a GREAT night!

I think I may have made some new friends!

Relationships are not static.  They change over time.  People change. If people change at a rate or direction beyond what the relationship can adapt to, it ends.  Recognizing this fact liberates one from agonizing disappointment if a relationship does not last “forever”.  It makes me be able to cherish the individual moments of connection with other people, no matter how long I have known them.

I am married to a wonderfully sweet and supportive man.  Our relationship now is not the same as when we got together.  It’s deeper, more trusting, and we do not spend as much time together as we did early on.  Both of us need “alone” time in a quiet space to hear our own thoughts or we go insane.   Thankfully, almost 8 years into our partnership, our relationship has been able to adapt at the pace of our changes as individuals.

I was married once before and as I changed, my husband stayed the same.  The relationship could not withstand our differences.  I wanted it to work out, I tried to do my part, but when I realized I did not like him when he was being true to himself  (not trying to please me), it was time to go.  That was one of the most painful and best decisions I have made to date.

My son is now a teenager.  Our relationship has changed over time too.  I used to be his primary caregiver and now I am more of a cheerleader and guide.  He can pretty much take care of himself and I am proud of the man I see him becoming.

I worry about whether or not he will be able to make friends but then I realize I’m trying to define what friends are to me for him.  He interacts with people he has never met easily.  I’m embarrassed at times but his “autistic quirks” but he does not seem to be.  I am continually touched by how kind people are to him and how they honor his tender heart, deeper than his differences.

One of my favorite times of the year is coming.  Winter…. A time to go inward, reflect on the year behind and look forward to the year ahead.  In this blog, I will continue to share what’s in my mind and on my heart.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

My Body Is Designed To Be Healthy

Watching “Hungry for Change” on Netflix, wearing clothing that could not clash more, I realized why I never lost the last 8lbs I “wanted” to lose.  The author of “The Gabriel Method” said, “You will not lose weight if your body does not want to.”.

Speaker after speaker in the documentary described better living by working with nature and natural laws.  One person said, ‘As long as you are taking in more toxins than you are eliminating, your body will not allow you get rid of the weight that is keeping you safe from the toxins you are ingesting.’  Whoa… say what?!  

Another said as you seek to improve your health, you will want to ADD vegetables and fruits instead of taking out food groups.  Not because they are “low calorie” but because they are so full of nutrients (I knew they were high in nutrients but the motivation was they were ‘low calorie’ and ‘high chew’).  I heard over and over again, “Most people are overfed and under nourished.”  I’ve come a long way… I really have, but I have so much further to go.  I traded one type of processed food for another.  Out candy bars and muffins, in protein bars and protein powder.

A nutrition counselor and friend posted on her company Facebook page a challenge to go “whole foods only” for one full day.  Do you know my response?  I commented, “tomorrow”.

That was several weeks ago and I have yet to actually do it. The biggest lesson of marathon training for me has been learning that when something feels impossible, it’s not, it’s just bigger than anything you’ve done before.  My 4 year anniversary of weightloss is coming up in just over a week.  Days are getting colder and the year is coming to an end.  Those circumstances make me reflect on where I’ve been and where I want to go.

Other sage advice from “Hungry for Change”:  It’s not just what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you.  Obesity is a “solution” to dealing with stress. Look at where you are not satisfied. If you are upset, don’t eat.

Easier said than done.

Exercise increases the feel good hormones that I’ve previously gone to sugar for.   Hence why when I have not been running, I sign up for over 5 races… in 2 weeks.  Just like other drugs, I end up needing more and more to feel the same “feel good” effect.

My body is not my enemy, it is my friend.  Loving myself is the key.  My parents want to love me, they just don’t know how.  If I am honest with myself, I have maintained the size I am now on a roller coaster of healthy and unhealthy eating.  I have not trusted myself.  I have not truly let go of the concept I am a “fat person” who lost weight.  As if my true self is meant to be fat and I have to fight it every day.

Jon Gabriel described losing 10, gaining 15 (reminding me of my losing 3, gaining 5 a few times over).  I read part of his book many years ago, in a previous life, and remembered thinking “I don’t have time to visualize in a quiet space”.  I have the ability to do better about that now. I do!

In closing, the documentary recommended 3 questions to ask before eating:

Where does my food come from?

What went into my food? (attitude, spirit, process)

What is my intention of eating my food?

My body is designed to be healthy.  I can trust it and I can build its trust in me.

I am ready for the next phase of my journey and I accept myself unconditionally, right now.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

It’s about the journey, not the destination…

This morning, I watched some TED videos, surfed Facebook and spent some quality time with my husband.  I was explaining to him, with tear filled eyes, how touched I was by a few people who have recently told me I matter to them.  They call me “inspiring” for being me. For doing what I love. For trying to eat more healthy than unhealthy, aiming to be kind and taking care of myself the best I can each day.  He told me I should write about it so here I am…

Last Sunday, I heard a speaker John Cacioppo share the results of his research on loneliness.  He shared that it isn’t a ‘disease’ or a ‘condition’, it’s a survival mechanism for social species.  The same way hunger motivates us to eat and thirst motivates us to drink, loneliness is natural response to motivate us to do something different to meet our social needs.   His speech spoke to me.  Most of my life I have been extremely lonely, no matter how many people were around.  The majority of my time has been spent in “survival mode”, watching for the next thing that is going to ‘get me’ and feeling like if I did not watch out for myself, no one else would.  It was comforting to learn that was not a defect in me but a instinctual response as a social creature in a particular environment.  I am human.

It is only recently, the last few years, that I have begun to feel part of society.  This year, I attempted to mentor others in running and it wasn’t as much about my race, my time, my fitness as it was their’s.  By doing so, I am feeling like I belong. They are motivating me and encouraging me in ways beyond words.  I am extremely grateful for the experience.

I default to thinking about all the things that I don’t do well, all my shortcomings.   I project a positive outlook because every day is battle against negativity.   I am practicing acknowledging the heartbreaks, disappointments, anger, I feel without letting any of that own me.  It’s not easy.  Simple, but not easy…

I have not maintained my diet or exercise perfectly. My body composition is not exactly where I want it to be at the moment.  However, I am healthy.  I was able to go 18 miles last Saturday, injury free.  People are different.  My body has certain strengths and limitations that are unique to me.  My husband has certain strengths and limitations that are unique to him.  Everyone has a place.  Everyone deserves to belong.

The scripture about not comparing yourself to others means more and more to me all the time (Galatains 6:3-5… “If you think you are better than others, when you really aren’t, you are wrong. Do your own work well and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself to others.  We each much carry our own load.”).

I am on my own journey but I am not alone.

John’s Cacioppo’s TEDx talk can be found here.  I highly recommend watching:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0hxl03JoA0&feature=youtu.be

Facing Food Addiction: Part 6: Questions I Ask Myself

When I am struggling to determine whether the hunger I feel is a legitimate need for food or just my addiction talking, these are some questions I’ve found helpful to ask myself:

How are you feeling right now?

How are you looking to feel?

What’s troubling you?

What does my body need right now?

Do I need rest?

Do I need water? Do I need something hot?  or cold? What have I done recently to nurture myself?

What have I eaten recently that might be triggering a craving?  Have I been on track?

Does something hurt?

I’ve watched people exercise themselves into a near constant state of injury.  That is not my goal.  I understand that injuries happen and also know that how I respond when they do plays a huge role in how fast and how sure I recover.

Pain indicates that something is wrong.  I’m not talking about discomfort.  Discomfort is when it doesn’t hurt but it doesn’t exactly feel good either.  Discomfort means you are going past where you have gone before, paving the way for growth.  Pain is when it hurts…sensations of “ow” beyond awareness that a certain part is not having “fun” anymore. Ego gets in the way of wellness.  It’s tricky because the EXACT same mental determination that is helps someone get/be fit can take them past balance into the danger zone of over training.  Ego will tell you that if you don’t complete a workout, you are less of a person.  Understand that is a complete lie. Rest is as important to training as strain is.  It’s actually while resting that your body repairs torn muscle tissue, regenerates cells and makes you stronger.  The “strain” does the tearing, the “rest” does the repairing that makes you better.  Stretching, nutrition and “down time” are important elements to wellness.  Fitness is about more than the physical and it’s only in the quiet moments that I can take care of my emotional and spiritual needs.  Answers to my questions come in the stillness. I am currently working on taking time for both challenging myself AND taking time for completely self nourishing activities   It seems that I choose either one or the other any given week but tend not to do a very good job taking time for both. My ultimate goal is:  self care….fitness in all 3 legs of the wellness stool…balance…moderation in all things (including moderation).  As I strive for this goal, blessings have been coming into my life greater than I could imagine!  People cross my path that both challenge and sooth me.  My husband is stepping up and taking a more active role in taking care of family matters.  My son is becoming more self aware and independent.  I’m making new friends and developing deeper relationships with old ones.  In the quiet moments, I sometimes take a look back to be grateful for where I am now.  In many ways, the only thing that really changed was my self talk which made me start making different choices for myself.  The rest has just come together…

Yesterday, I bought a little painting of a colorful bird on a perch that says “trust the journey”.  That is what I am practicing doing.

 

One day at a time…

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

Setting Intentions

I’ve heard people describe how they envision things that come true.  The concept has always intrigued me but I never really believed it was possible for me until very recently.

Most recently, I was in a low spot and felt myself slipping into old patterns.  I wasn’t very motivated to workout.  Struggling not to overeat, wanting all the foods that trigger me to indulge.  I needed a workout partner.  Someone that fit my schedule and could/would do the routines that I wanted to do.  In the 3 years I’ve been physically active, such a person did not exist.  I had a trainer to talk with and friends that were active but our schedules didn’t mesh.

I cried to my husband about how lonely it was working out alone and how I wanted someone who would miss me if I wasn’t there (at the gym).  My heart yearned for this person…  I set the intention (asked) for this individual to come and opened my heart to receiving a connection with a new person in my life (since none of the people currently in my life were meshing the way I needed them to).   2 weeks ago tomorrow, she showed up and I am so eternally grateful.

There’s a part of me that is scared how I will handle it if/when our paths have to part again but I replace that thought with being grateful for what I have now and have faith that if/when our paths part, what I need will show up in another form.

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading.