Sunday, July 30, 2017

body sacred

I claimed it.  I said, “I am the authority here.”

I held my marshmallowy, post c-section belly in my hand and said, “Thank you. I love you. You are sacred.” I am the authority here. I get to determine if my belly is sacred. I get to send it love. I get to say it is sacred just as it is, without any nipping, without flatness, without a six pack. I get to determine that I love my belly. I get to determine that I show love and gratitude to my belly. Gratitude for my babies. For all the good work digesting my food. For its guidance when I say, “I feel it in my gut.”

(A side note-- I used to think it all was pretty organized, back there behind the skin. I saw the science transparency layovers in a book-- “here’s the digestive system...here’s the reproductive system, here’s the muscles...here’s the nerves….here’s how the blood flows…” Then one day, the doctor doing my diagnostic surgery handed me photos of my innards, explaining all the webbing of the scar tissue. It just looked like a big jumbled stew in there. Not neatly organized. Just a squishy soup of organs.)

After I put my hand on my belly, I put my hands on each other part of my body and said the same. My foot. My shoulder. My ears. My whole body. “Thank you. I love you. You are sacred.”

Do I determine the sacredness and beauty of my body or do I bow the knee and pass my scepter of authority to another?

This authority to determine our own worth, our own sacredness, has been stripped from us. By magazines, by the beauty and diet and fashion industries. And they did it on purpose so that we would feel so terrible that we would spend any amount of money to reclaim what is naturally our right. Our right to say, “I am beautiful. I am sacred.” Instead we compare ourselves to the airbrushing and say, “I am ugly. I am not enough. Here is my money. Please do what you promised.” And they take our money and laugh. And the cycle starts again.

But what if we reclaimed it? What if we looked around, told them all to go to hell, and just said, “I am beautiful. I am sacred.” How would we feel? How would we treat ourselves? What would happen if that were our self-talk all day long, instead of “I am fat. I don’t have a thigh gap. I am ugly. No one tells me I’m beautiful. I am worthless.” Thigh gap. Good grief.

Feel the difference in those words. Beautiful, sacred. Ugly, worthless.

Feel the elevation of the sacred. Feel the devastation, the twisted deception, the starvation, the cruelty of the lies. Feel the light vs. darkness.

And if you haven’t noticed that those dark words are part of your self-talk, just listen. What are those voices saying as you get dressed, as you do your makeup, as you read that magazine? And then, when your awareness dawns, make a new choice.

It was an unconscious choice to give away our authority. But it is a conscious choice to take it back. Choose to see the magnificence. Choose to see the wonder. The wonder of the pores of your skin. The miracle of sensory perception-- we can hug and feel loved! Wiggle your toes. See the sunset. And realize there is so much more than the neon lie arrows pointing at you saying you’re not enough. You are enough because you are sacred. See that you are sacred. You are the authority. Choose that you are sacred. Hold yourself sacred.

This isn’t just for you. This is for all our little girls.

In third grade I listened to a rectangular shaped girl say to the willowy shaped girls, “I weigh 75 pounds!” She owned it, she claimed it. But, instead of saying, “Way to stand up to the man, yo!” my little 8-year old self darkened, thinking… I weigh 85 pounds. That must mean I am fat. That must mean I am less-than. Hide. And the next year when I came back to school as a fourth grader, I bragged about how I had skipped breakfast.

I look back at photos of myself at that age in a swimsuit. And I was just normal. But I thought I was less-than. And so it began.

Instead of waiting around for my particular body type to reach some magazine cover as the body type of the decade, today I choose that I am beautiful. I choose that I am valuable. I choose that I am sacred. I choose that my body is sacred. No one else is the authority here. I am the authority.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

body conversation

What if I could talk to my body and it could talk back? What if all my little cells in my body could get together for a conference and I could ask them questions and they could give me feedback? What would they say to me?

I tried it out. I got out my notebook, meditated to connect to the light, and started writing down questions I had for my body, and the thoughts that came back to me from my body.

I am sharing this with you because the more I say out loud, the more souls I find that feel like I do, that have had similar experiences, but feel that they are alone, like I did, in feeling what they feel. So, just in case you need to know that you’re not alone….


Here’s our conversation.

Me: Hello Body. What will it take for you to drop 50 pounds? Sending you so much love and light-- and gratitude. Thank you for bearing the emotional load and the OCD work and still staying alive and trying to heal. I have tried so many different things. There are so many voices telling me to do it their way. What do you need? I am listening.

Body: You have been unkind to us for many, many years. With ugly self -talk and demanding performance without providing rest, rejuvenation, sustenance-- just pushing harder.

Me: You are right. I am sorry.

Body: And yet you would do it again. If we gave you energy, pain-free existence, health, fitness, you would run again, and drive us, aging, into the ground. We are trying to stay alive, and that is why we don’t heal completely. To keep you on a leash. You need to govern your will. You need to learn kindness and compassion and really good self-care before we free you. You are like a little child that hasn’t learned boundaries.

Me: Well that’s hard to hear. I thought I’d made progress.

Body: You have. And thus you see the increase in energy and decrease in pain as a result. But we will not yield until you progress in this area. Be kinder. Sleep earlier. Better food. And better self-talk. While you have also progressed here-- self talk not so ugly, examine it further. You strain at the bit, and long to run without resting-- your frustration is reflected in your self-talk. We feel your frustrated self-talk and we fear death. We know you would run us into the ground, and so we resist you. We bind you. We chain you. You are barely healing, and you expect to run hard, as if this had all never happened. Your unrealistic expectations affect us, hurt us. We fear them. We fear you. And so we won’t cooperate. We will release you by degrees, to the degree that you are patient, kind, wise and are not frustrated with us- no frustrated self-talk. Get zen and accept what is at the moment. Show us this real change, this zen. Show us real love and compassion. And we will learn to not fear you, and set you free. [End conversation.]


Thoughts on the conversation.

I was particularly surprised at the disgruntled nature of the “body-talk” thoughts that came back to me, when I felt like I had made so much progress. Also, at the idea that my body was digging in its heels on my freedom. I have been making progress, feeling significantly better-- more on that later. And so this little revolt, was honestly the last thing I expected. But I mean-- really, what can you actually expect when you do such a weird thing like have a conversation with your body. But I’m really, really glad that I did. Cuz-- wow.

Friday, May 19, 2017

the wisdom of a ten year old

I’ve been having some enlightening conversations with my ten year old. The other day he said,
“Mom, the things people find to insult in other people are actually the things they wish to improve in the themselves.” Wow.

“Where do you learn all this stuff?’

“T.V.”

Huh. Points for TV.

More wisdom came from this ten year old fount...

“Mom, I am glad for the hard things I’ve gone through because they make me stronger.”

“Really? What do you mean by stronger?”

“They make me more powerful.”

I was pretty impressed and continued to inquire…. He let me know:
“When it’s happening I’m like ‘Why??!!’ But later I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s why.’”

Brilliant.

I could relate with the “Why??!!” right in the middle. And the, “Oh, that’s why,” afterwards. In all honesty, I would not trade the last eight years of suffering because it changed me. Pain changed me because my heart became one full of compassion.

I didn’t used to have a heart of compassion. I worked hard and pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and expected everyone else to do the same. And when they didn’t, I judged them. I just thought they were lazy and not trying hard enough if they couldn’t make their life happen. I had to learn. I had to learn that sometimes our life doesn't look like we want it to even when we're doing our very best. And that's okay.

And while the learning has been intensely painful, I wouldn’t trade the process. Now, because of the pain I felt, most of the time I can see into the pain of other people and give them grace.



Friday, May 12, 2017

a modicum of energy

I will own that it is easier to be happy when I have one modicum of energy. Which I didn’t have a few days ago. But let me tell you how I triumphed that day. I was kind to myself.

For the last many years of weariness, when what my body really needed was rest, I pushed harder. I pushed to my limit. Beyond my limit. And when I would finally collapse from bone-breaking exhaustion, I reprimanded myself.

“You suck,” I chastised.
“I know,” I replied.

As my deep fatigue morphed into debilitation, the voice in my head became crueler, more insistent.

“Look at you just lying there. There is too much to be done to lie in bed. Your worth is solely based on what you do, and what everyone thinks of what you do, and you are doing nothing, so you are clearly worthless. What if people knew? Hide.”

So I hid. What if people knew? Knew that I wasn’t doing?

Writing this down right now with the intent to share it, unmasking the times that I need to rest, is giving me the feeling of the beginning of a panic attack. But I will breathe deeply and press forward because it is important that I don’t hide anymore, and it is important that you know the end of the story….how I was kind to myself.

So let’s skip to the end.

A few days ago, after several nights of very poor sleep, I came home from dropping off my child at school, and… rested. I got super zen and said this to myself:

“Hey sweetheart, I see that you are really tired. Good job taking care of yourself.”

“Hey honey, I’m so proud of you for honoring your body by resting.”

“Sweetie, your body is going to heal because you are doing this important and worthwhile thing for yourself. Great job.”

The other loud, bossy voice, bold from long habit, tried to butt in. But I cut it off. Over and over I said these kind things to myself. Out loud. No matter how many times the voice interrupted, I returned to my kind words, like a mantra in a meditation. I said them during all the times I needed to rest, or take a break, or take a step back. I did what I could. And I didn’t do what I couldn’t do.

And instead of feeling like I was pond scum all day-- feeling worthless and like I needed to hide my miserable, glaring lack of value-- I felt tranquil. And a little bit delighted that I was so kind to myself.  At peace with the idea that today this was all I could do, recognizing that tomorrow was another day, and believing that perhaps that day I would feel a little better.

Can you feel the difference in those words? Worthless, miserable, ‘you suck’’ vs. honoring, kind, important, worthwhile, sweetie. Enormous difference. A rock-your-world difference when you’re saying them to yourself.

I allowed myself to rest. To reset. I honored my body. Without feeling guilty. Without feeling like a piece of trash. I just said, you will feel better later. And you will be able to do more. Right now, you need to rest. You’re okay. And it’s okay.

And it was.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

unweaving

I am genuinely happy. I have some good friends who really get my soul. I have a family that loves me. I care less about what other humans think about me.

My life is not perfect. I still have really bad days, sometimes. I still deal with physical pain, and the emotional baggage that comes with it, in particular the inability to do, which I think is the thing that turned my pain to hell. That was mostly because my sense of self worth was unequivocally linked to what I could accomplish, and by extension, what other humans thought of what I accomplished.

As my ability to accomplish lessened, the less others praised my accomplishments, and thus, the less I thought of myself. And this created agony. “I can’t do!” the madwoman inside screamed. Really what she was screaming was, “I can’t be! My sense of self does not exist outside of my ability to do. Therefore I am more than miserable. I am in agony.” I could hear her calling, wailing. I couldn’t hear her clarity, I could only hear, “I can’t do.” And I could feel her pain. So to appease her, I tried and tried to do more, even as I grew weaker in body, weaker in spirit, higher in pain. I tried and tried, because the tricky, woven in, pain in my heart was unbearable.

But as I am learning to unweave, I feel relief. As I care less about what others think about me, the madwoman’s pain is eased. As I hear her completely, and can pick apart the strands of her cries, she feels relief. And I feel relief.

And I know this sounds weird, especially after 8+ years of being miserable in physical pain, but presently, I am happy. I’m not happy in the middle of a pain spike. I’m crying then. But when the pain is at a manageable level, my heart feels really light. And I’m getting better at noticing when what I’m doing physically, or emotionally, is leading me towards a pain spike, or a bed day the next day, so I can ease off, honor my body and what it needs. Because the wailing woman inside me needs to wail less often now. I listened. I heard her. I honored her wisdom, and she is more at peace. Less mad, from being honored. And I’m just happy.

The the other weird part is that I can create, and be really productive, from a place of joy, instead of this driven place. “They run as if the whips of their masters are behind them,” says Legolas in Lord of the Rings (love!). That was me. Before. Before the pain. During most of the pain. But now-- it’s just different somehow. I was working so hard to prove that I wasn’t lazy, worthless. The harder it became to do anything, the harder I tried to prove that I wasn’t lazy by over extending almost every moment. So desperately trying to prove my worth to everyone. To myself. To the madwoman.

But now it’s just ok somehow. And I can create beautiful things, at an agreeable pace. Without the whip. Without making it so darn hard.

I have been thinking about this idea, in growing depth and intensity, for years. And I wonder now how I am changing. How the idea went from head to heart. I think the key, somehow, is caring less about what others think. And I’m not sure how that happened for me. Part of it was I just didn’t have the capability to run the hard race anymore. People kept asking me to do more, and when I couldn’t they stopped telling me that I was awesome. That was painful enough to crack me open and make me start examining what I really thought and felt, and I began to see that my worth was not based on what they thought about what I do. Later, I read in the book The Four Agreements (so worth reading!) that what other people think about you is all about them, not about you, and a big shift happened for me with that one. More recently, a friend said to me, “You just care so much about what people think,” pointing out that it was really running me. I knew she was right, was grateful that she said it, and was surprised it was so obvious. And I prayed that God would change my heart into a heart that loved, and didn’t care what people thought.

I’m not saying I’ve arrived, because I haven’t. But I am progressing. It feels different. It feels amazing, frankly.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Pelvic Pain Series: Part 2

We must understand the world around us, and so we make up stories.

People make up stories based on their own experience, on their own pain. I can’t tell you how many people have approached me over the years as I’ve sat in my camp chair in the aisle of some store... “Oh, do you have back pain?” or something similar.

Usually I’d just smile, give some non-descript answer, and they’d move on. Once, though, when I was really trying to get authentic, honest about my feelings, un-shamed. I opened my mouth in a bookstore. And told some brave friends about it.

Ok the craziest thing just happened! You know how I decided to stop lying and just say how I feel?...

I was in a book store. On the counter there was a little yellow book sitting face down. It said "you were meant for a joyful life". It was distinctly different from most of the store. I thought "that sounds like Brave Girls" and I turned it over and it was Melody Ross's book Choose Happy! http://my.bravegirlsclub.com/product/gift-book-choose-happy/  I started smiling. I felt like it was a little message just for me. Then the girl ringing me up asked me how I was doing. Usually I would respond something thoughtlessly positive. But I had decided not to do that, right? And here was a little yellow book giving me courage to not tell lies. And so I actually thought about how I felt and then said "a little tired, but happy". And I sat down in my chair. It was odd, and strangely elating.

She had seen me sitting earlier, and now asked, "do you have pain in your knees?" And RIGHT THERE AT THE COUNTER I SAID,

"No, I have pain in my pelvis."
Blink blink. This was almost an out of body experience for me. No lying, hedging, making up stories. I could tell she flinched inwardly, but then surprisingly she asked,
"How long have you had that?"
"About 7 years."
"Hm."

And that was it. I couldn't believe it. I'm driving home in wonder. I feel so unmasked somehow. And like a layer of shame has lifted from me. Why is talking about your pelvis not acceptable when you can talk about your knee or back or elbow or shoulder pain all day long without flinching? Why is my pelvis this dark, shameful, unspeakable part of my body?

I hardly know what to think about this experience-- that I chose social awkwardness over lies.


As I think back I remember feeling Soaring Freedom.
Freedom to speak my truth. “Yes, this is really what’s going on in my life. This is really how I feel.” To actually speak how I feel. Recognize how I feel. Feel how I feel. Honor how I feel. And make new choices. Smiling if I feel like smiling, rather than smiling to hide what I’m feeling.

Being Real Real Real. Instead of Fake Fake Fake and Hiding. When I am real I deepen into myself. And give others the permission to be Real.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Emergence

in this moment
my Wings touch the water as I fly
the chrysalis stretches and groans
Spent
as I Emerge

in this moment
i Sing
and Dance
and Wonder

in this moment
my heart re fibrilates
my soul re Anchors
and i Suck In Air
Stunned
and Free

in this moment
i begin again
and Weave the Precious Strands
of Agony
into Gold
with deft knowing fingers
though i've never done it before

i sleep the good sleep
i dream the good dream
i breathe the good Breath

and Laugh