Category Archives: Begin

Don’t Wait

Becoming-Who-We-Know-We-AreI wrote a guest post for Laura Simms at Create as Folk, Becoming Who We Know We Are. The picture above is the one she created to go with the post. I’ve been thinking (and writing and talking) a lot about this lately, how important it is to just begin, to give yourself permission and make space, to go ahead and start.

The prompt this morning from my 5 year journal was, “If you didn’t have any responsibilities for the day, what would you do?” The list I made was exactly what how I plan on spending my time when we get to Oregon in a few weeks: Sleep in. Write and meditate. Do yoga. Eat good food. Nap. Read. Watch TV. Sit in the backyard. Take a walk.

This reminded me of an article I read over 15 years ago on Escape from America, a magazine dedicated to helping people relocate to other countries, live as expatriates. I was reading it at that time because Eric and I used to fantasize about moving to another country, specifically Australia. In an article about making a big move, a huge change in your life, the author recommended that you live as closely as you can now to the life you dream of, rather than waiting. Don’t wait until you retire or move to Australia. Start living as close as you can to your dream life now.

The argument the author made was if you do this, you’ll be happier now, rather than later — and we all know that none of us are guaranteed a later. The author explained that maybe you’ll find out that you don’t really like what you’ve imagined and save yourself from waking up on an island somewhere with no electricity having sold and changed everything only to find yourself missing your old life, still unsatisfied with where you find yourself. Or you might make some changes and live that dream life now, realizing you don’t have to move or retire or make any other drastic change to have what you want.

It’s a good lesson, one that I encounter over and over: don’t wait. In my own words from my guest post, “Stop thinking about it, stop wishing for it, and start.” I also wrote a piece for Mabel Magazine about beginning (the issue comes out in June), and said something similar:

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Image by Mabel Magazine

What tiny step can you take today, right now, towards your dream? What can you do to begin to live a life that reflects what matters to you, what you love? It can be the smallest thing, but that action is like a prayer, a promise, medicine and magic. Give yourself permission, kind and gentle reader. Stop waiting for something to happen and happen.

Not Knowing Where to Start

This is one of those posts, kind and gentle reader, that is at this moment as much of a mystery to me as it is to you. All day I have been thinking about what I wanted to tell you, what I had to say, to share, without being sure exactly what I would write. There is a big shift happening in my life right now but it’s not entirely clear to me how this is going to work out so I haven’t formed a neat and tidy way of communicating it. All I know for sure is that I want to tell you the truth.

I finally had an appointment with my new doctor. I have been struggling with fatigue for the past few years, have hypothyroidism and a family history of diabetes, (all kinds, on both sides), am most likely perimenopausal, and don’t get enough rest. I am a highly functioning food addict who has struggled with disordered eating for 30+ years, having gained, lost, and regained the same 20 pounds at least that many times. I want to be free of it, this struggle and dis-ease. I want to be strong, healthy, and whole, with the energy and stamina necessary to do the work I long to do, to live a full life.

Things have to to change. A series of unfortunate incidents with my previous doctors made me realize that I wasn’t being cared for as well as I should be, that I needed to seek out a new perspective, someone who would view me as a whole person (not just a body) and consider all the potential healing modalities available. I chose someone who practices Integrative Medicine, which according to her, “evaluates the patient as a whole. It does not view the patient as a chronic disease, an illness, a list of medications, or a recent hospitalization–but rather as a complex being made up of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual parts all interdependent and woven together. All of these elements are respectfully addressed in developing strategies to treat illness and more aggressively prevent disease.” Sounds great, doesn’t it?

It was good. But, we have some work to do. I have something to teach her about dealing with people who have a history of dis-ordered eating and self-loathing. For starters: don’t call them obese, no matter what the BMI chart says. And for heaven’s sake, don’t call them obese repeatedly. Call them curvy, solid, voluptuous, thick, full, well-rounded, sturdy, slightly heavier than optimal, weighted down–but don’t call them obese.

Brave Belly

I get it. I need to lose some weight. It’s the same weight I’ve been losing and gaining for years. I already knew that. I get it. It’s there, in part, because I am an incredibly sensitive and porous person, without natural thick skin or any other kind of protective barrier between myself and the energy of my environment, the suffering of every person I encounter, the meanness and brutality of life. I am easily hurt, and I eat my feelings. This in turn makes me bigger, more stable and substantial, heavier, harder to knock down, safer, calmer (at least in theory).

What she said hurt me. I’m pretty sure she thought I was confused about my situation, didn’t realize it was serious, and that this “truth” would motivate me to change. In reality, it sent me into a shame spiral. Thank goodness that same afternoon I was leaving for a retreat with Susan Piver, had a safe, supportive space to go in which to process what she’d said. I truly believe that without my practices, the support and wisdom I have access to, she would have only made things worse with that one word. I’m hoping the next time we meet, I can effectively and kindly communicate this to her so that she is better able to help the next person like me, a person who might not have the support, the tools I do to process and cope.

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For now, I get back to the work of educating myself. Along with Susan Piver, her support and wisdom and our shared practice, I am so grateful for the work and friendship of Rachel Cole. Both of these amazing women, (along with such writers and healers as Geneen Roth and Tara Brach), remind me to always approach myself, my struggles, with gentleness, to give myself space and compassion. In this way I can face this transition, which is going to be so difficult, with wisdom and lovingkindness–because this is so much more about loving myself than about what I do or don’t eat.

I can also count on the people in my life who love me to support me, encourage and help me, to make me smile, to laugh. Like my trainer, who after hearing what my doctor had said was extra encouraging to me when we worked out, telling me much more often than normal what a great job I was doing, (seriously, it was adorable). And my husband, who told me “we’ll figure this out, you’ll know what to do, and I’ll help you,” who loves me, is more concerned with the size of my heart and how much I love him back than a set of numbers anyway, who won’t judge me when I eat a cinnamon roll the size of my head. And my courage circle and other friends who reminded me of how much I am loved, of my real value, my truth worth. And my friends who gave me recommendations when I asked them for a kind and gentle therapist who works with dis-ordered eaters.

I can find and accept help, but more importantly I can trust myself.

Z is for Zero Hour

Zero hour: the scheduled or planned time for the start of an operation or action, the moment at which it is set to begin, the exact time something will start.

It’s a very real possibility that yesterday I stumbled on the first line of the book I’m writing. When it arose in my mind, as I was falling back asleep after Eric and the dogs left for an early morning hike, that may have been the zero hour.

Or maybe it was later, when I wrote it down in my notebook, let myself follow that beginning for the length of a whole page.

Or maybe it was eleven years ago when the moment I was writing about actually happened.

Or was it that night almost 25 years ago when I stood over my first husband in the dark of the bedroom that had been ours, the night before our apartment was supposed to be vacated, when I’d already been gone for a month and I’d come back to do a final cleaning only to find him still living there, asleep in what had been our bed, and he told me he didn’t want a divorce, “please don’t leave me,” and I felt such compassion for him, knew I’d promised, made that exact vow, but also knew that by leaving I was saving my own life, so answered “it’s too late, I’m already gone.”

Or was it when I married Eric, my true partner, my only real husband? Was it when I went back to school, or when I finished my graduate degree? Was it when I first saw Obi, or was it when he was diagnosed with a treatable but incurable cancer, or was it when he died? Was it the moment Kelly passed, or was it later, in the moment I knew she was gone? Was it when I started Warrior training? Was it when I started this blog? Was it the moment when I made my first Mondo Beyondo list and I added this book to it? Was it on my meditation cushion or writing morning pages in the Rigden Shrine Room at the Shambhala Mountain Center during the Fearless Creativity retreat with Susan Piver?

Or maybe it was earlier still, in the second grade, when I first made the wish to be a writer when I grew up, the year Mrs. Heilbronner took to calling me “my little author.” Or maybe it was when I first learned to talk, to use language and words to communicate my experience, to name what I needed, what I loved.

Or maybe the true zero hour for this book was the day I was born.

It’s so strange to me still, how you can just start, simply begin, not even realizing until later, and even then not be entirely sure which exact moment was your zero hour.