What do you want to do?

We are born knowing what we want.  As babies, those wants are pretty simple: food, comfort, clean butts and sleep.  As we grow up, we learn about the difference between wants and needs.  Our ‘needs’ stay pretty much the same but our wants get more complicated.  Social mores come in and tell us what we should and should not want.  Parents, religious organizations, media, social networks… They all have something to say.

Somewhere along the line, we lose touch with who we really are because it becomes clouded by the voices of others.  Getting what we want becomes more complicated than learning how to emotionally manipulate the people around us with a good tantrum. Few parents know how to turn that tantrum into a emotional processing learning experience and instead teach us to shut it down.

I distinctly remember knowing at 5 years of age exactly what I wanted and how the world worked (Robert Fulghum nailed it with “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindgergarden”).  At 25, I hadn’t a clue.

Now in my mid thirties, beyond anything I do or say, I aim to be true to myself and encourage everyone around me to do the same.  The most common response when I ask “What do you want to do?” is “I don’t know what I want” but THAT IS A LIE.  Not a malicious, intentional lie, but no more true than a lie.  

The truth is, somewhere, sometime along the line, it was decided (consciously or unconsciously) that what they wanted was not possible.  “You shouldn’t want that”, “you can’t have that”, “forget about it”…  And they did.  It was determined that pretending they don’t know what they want and coping with mediocrity was preferred to the anguish of knowing what they want but not having it yet.  Anyone can bring it back though, if they’ve got the guts.  

The road to your heart’s purest desire is not without a few rocks and pointy objects but it’s worth traveling.  Please hear me, it’s WORTH TRAVELING. 

Trying to figure out what I want to do “for the rest of my life” is too big of a chunk to process.  So I start with what I want to do this year, this month, this week and if that still seems to big, I start with this day, this hour, this minute, this second.  I found a safe place where I can just ‘be’ without judgment.  If judgment comes in, I don’t judge the judgment, I just let it be.  Observe it, acknowledge it, but detach from it.  Feelings are not facts.  I’ve have nothing to fear but fear itself.

My latest endeavor is expressing my emotions with a drawing journal.  Sometimes I draw, sometimes I write, but it is a safe place where I can put down what is on my heart.  It’s not always pretty and I accept that.  Sometimes I am surprised by what comes out but it’s liberating to have a safe place where nothing I do is ever wrong.  

How do I know if the trials and tribulations I experience are because I am getting closer to my fountain of truth or because I am off track?  I ask myself a few questions: What am I afraid of? Am I clinging to a belief/something/someone that is causing this pain?  (If yes, I’m bringing the heartache on myself.  If no, I’m about to learn an important life lesson.)  Do I unconditionally love and accept myself right now? (If yes, I’m about to learn an important life lesson and this pain will not last long.  If no, I gotta start now.)

 

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

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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

If I’m not my thoughts, what am I?

My husband and I recently started seeing a marriage counselor.  We don’t want just a marriage, we want a GREAT marriage.  There were some warning signs of trouble that surfaced and we decided to face them while they were small.

In the last session my husband and I had with our counselor, I remembered how hard it used to be to identify what I want.  I remember the first counselor I ever saw asking me “How are you?” and all I could do was tell him about my friend’s problems, my husband, my son, my parents, my cat, my job… While describing how impossible my family’s belief system was, he asked me “What kind of Jehovah Witness do you want to be?”.  I had nothing to say.  My mind, usually quick with responses, was utterly blank.  This was a forgein concept.  I hadn’t given myself permission to be anything just because it’s who I wanted to be.  The people I was drawn to were artists, musicians, writers, philosophical thinkers…  All things I had denied myself because they weren’t appreciated by those closest to me at the time.  It blew my mind this fellow was suggesting I could do anything “my way”.

I felt messed up, defective, and wanted a set of steps, tasks, to check off a list to get an “A” in recovery.  He suggested turning my life over to God.  He said, if I did, I would be in for a wild ride.  As he nodded and smiled at me, I saw peace.  What I was doing wasn’t working, I was completely miserable to my core and I couldn’t even answer the simplest questions of “How are you?” and “What do you want?”.  So, I opened my heart and I gave some new concepts a spin around the block.

Fast forward 7 years… I stopped overeating June 4, 2009.  At that time, I’d had around 3 years practicing “letting go and letting God” seeking “progress not perfection” and attempting to just “be”.  My cat had gone from being dangerously overweight to a healthy weight just by me measuring his food and not feeding him every time he meowed.  My vet told me it was like a person going from 200lbs down to 150lbs (I was around 200lbs at the time).  There was an upscale gym with lots of beautiful people working out on the skywalk level near work.  I had often walked by and wished I could be “good enough” to be one of those people.

July 10, 2009, I walked in that fancy gym and asked for a tour.  The manager gave me one and made an appointment to meet with my husband and me the following day.  During our appointment, the manager asked me a set of questions about eating, exercise and family history.  To my horror, he showed me that on my current path, I was biologically 10 YEARS older than my chronological age.  A decade. Double digits.  He showed me I could lose 30lbs and go from high risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes to low risk or… I could die approximately 10 years earlier, my choice.

I surrendered right then and there.  I asked for help and I did what my trainer said to do.  I went from one small meal to the next, one day at a time, sticking to the plan (With some initial resistance as my first trainer, now friend, can tell you!).  As results came and I talked through roadblocks with the trainer, good habits got easier.  I was honest with myself, shared my struggles, and worked to develop plans to succeed in situations I knew were going to be difficult.  As I approached my goal weight, I refused to beat myself up about my choices.  I learned I am more than my thoughts.

Fast forward to this week.  The marriage counselor shared another client had said to him “if I’m not my thoughts, what I am I?” and he confessed he didn’t have a good answer.  I knew the answer but I didn’t have words.  I had only a picture in my mind which I drew right then and there in the office.  It was powerful enough, I couldn’t keep from letting it out right away.

I see myself as a semi-transparent cylinder with forms reaching above and below.  There are thoughts, temptations, desires, that flutter about but that isn’t really me.  I am centered. I am whole.  I am connected.  Nothing nor anyone can ever take that from me because it is “me”.  Thoughts are just thoughts, feelings are just feelings, my center can decide what to do about them.

Growing is not comfortable.  I believe there’s always an answer, usually several to choose from, and have peace in my heart that what I need will present itself if I remain open to it.  I’m not perfect. I’m practicing being okay knowing that.