Category Archives: Nourish

Nourish: My One Word End of Year Review

nourish2015The last time I made a New Year’s resolution (the same year I started this blog) it was “to be a better friend to myself.” In the years before that, I was always resolving to lose more weight, exercise more, read more, watch less tv — all the typical ways of improving myself that never worked, and if they did, never stuck because at the heart of those wishes was the belief that I was broken, that something was wrong with me, that I wasn’t good enough already.

In the years since that vow, I have instead picked a word to guide my year. A mantra of sorts, a reminder of what I want most, what I want to cultivate. I have picked retreat, freedom, home, and this past year was nourish. As is usually the case, the year didn’t turn out at all like how I expected.

I picked nourish because of its double meaning: to feed and to cherish. I imagined a year in which I would reach some optimal level of health and well-being. I felt like I had a solid foundation, had done the work and was standing on solid ground. Instead, I spent the year in a cycle of illness and injury, some of which I talked about here and some of which I didn’t. I was laid low.

It was so confusing to me, considering my intention, my wish to cultivate strength and health. Instead, nourish for me meant feeding and cherishing from a much deeper place. Any one of my issues carried the threat of being long-term, even chronic and ongoing. I had to confront the impermanence of my body directly. The year was about strength, but rather than a kind that allowed me to do extraordinary things, it was the kind that enabled me to endure suffering, the kind that kept me from giving up, the kind that cultivated healing.

Winter Joy Retreat: Edible Memories

nourish2015As you may or may not remember, my word for this year is nourish. I don’t blame you if you don’t remember, kind and gentle reader, as it has slipped my mind at times too. I picked it initially because I loved its double meaning: to feed and to cherish. Those were both things I felt I sorely needed.

The last traditional New Year’s resolution I made was to be a better friend to myself. After that year, I heard about the practice of picking a word instead, a single word that would guide me and help me focus on what I really wanted, an intention that would act as a sort of mantra. The first year I picked retreat, then freedom, then home, and this year nourish. Those first few years I was more immediately focused, had a clearer intention, even did mid-year reviews on the blog.

The first part of this year, I thought a lot about what nourish meant to me, what it would mean to have that in my life, to experience it. But then I got sick and was down for a long time, and when I was finally better, my foot was hurt and has taken such a long time to heal. I tried to rest and take care of myself, but I was confused about what was happening and what I really needed, what I was “supposed” to do, how to “fix” it. I got depressed.

Just recently, however, I’ve felt the fog lifting. I’ve been practicing, reading and listening to podcasts, taking part in some ecourses and other experiences that have helped me see truth. Some of the things I’ve learned, in no particular order:

  • I need more rest, and that is NOT a sign of weakness. I am allowed to rest, it’s okay to be tired. Sometimes the wisest, most compassionate thing is to quit, to do nothing.
  • Because I’m sensitive and tender and keep my heart open, the will it takes to just get out of bed or to leave the house on some days is fierce. This can get confusing when I need rest or quiet or to be alone, because that big will wants to say “suck it up, keep going, get out there,” but that only leads to collapse. The trick is to balance the will with gentleness, to know when and where.
  • Heart-centered work isn’t just about what I can offer the world, it’s about supporting and nourishing me too.
  • Discernment and receptivity are essential to my process, to my life, but they also require a lot of effort and therefore a lot of rest.
  • I am driven by what other people need and want. I have to be so careful to not abandon myself in the pursuit of easing the suffering of others.
  • Breaking old habits takes a really, really, really long time, especially under stress or in chaotic conditions.

WJREdibleMemories600x481As the holidays wind up and the year winds down, I am doing a few special things to support myself, to treat myself. One is taking part in the Winter Joy Retreat hosted by Jena Schwartz and Cigdem Kobu. Just to be clear, I’m an affiliate for everything Jena and Cigdem do through The Inky Path because I absolutely and utterly believe in their work and their mission, and want to share it. Separately these women offer amazing things, but together they are a force to be reckoned with.

I’ve done Winter Joy Retreat before and loved it. I am so excited about this year’s focus on writing and food, and the women contributing are some of my favorites. Edible Memories: A Writing Retreat on Food as a Metaphor and a Feast for Memory is described as “a 14-day annual end-of-the year event that combines inspiration, introspection, connection, fun, and creative expression. It is a fabulous way to relax, rekindle your creative spark, and reconnect with yourself and others as one year finishes and a new one comes along with fresh new possibilities.” Yes, please!

To Feed and to Cherish

nourish2015I am currently taking part in a series of challenges: April Love and April Moon, along with Feast and my word for the year, nourish (which means to feed and to cherish). What I love about working with multiple sets of prompts is the magic of how they come together.

Today’s prompt for April Love was “shadows.” The prompt for April Moon was “That’s when I knew that this chapter of my life had ended. And now I was finally free to…” I kept thinking of the two of them together, how they were related, and it didn’t take much time to see the connection.

If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know the story behind the Self-Compassion Saturday series. After struggling for over three years with serious fatigue which had stumped my primary care doctor, I decided to make an appointment with a functional medicine practitioner. Even though I told her that I was a disordered eater, even though at the time I’d been overexercising and restricting what I ate, she told me I was obese, and that I should go on a diet and get more exercise.

“That’s when I knew that this chapter of my life had ended. And now I was finally free to…” I was finally free to stop looking for answers outside myself, to stop studying and researching, consulting with experts and taking opinion polls. I was finally free to listen to my own deep innate wisdom. I was finally free to stop believing that anyone else could fix me, or that I was broken in the first place. I was finally free to be my own authority. I was finally free to honor my hunger. I was finally free to want what I wanted. I was finally free.

April Love, Day Four Prompt, Shadows

April Love, Day Four Prompt, Shadows

Over a year ago, I stopped weighing myself, dieting and overexercising. I started practicing intuitive eating (allowing my body to tell me when it was full, when it was hungry, what it wants and what it needs), and reading a lot about Health at Every Size. I started allowing myself to want what I want, to have what I want. I became a certified yoga instructor. I broke up with my trainer. I took Buddhist refuge vows. I no longer pushed and punished my body. I stopped smashing myself to bits. The fatigue is mostly gone.

April Moon started with an oracle reading. We got the first email and it told us to pick one of the cards — 1, 2, or 3. 3 was the clear choice for me, but when the next email came a few hours later with the results, the archetype you chose that would guide you through the challenge, I resisted at first. “Lover: passion, tenacity; creation, creativity; sensuality; joy; empathy; play; beauty; and tenderness.” I wanted to pick again. The other two archetypes were animals, one powerful and one graceful. I wanted one of those.

After I let it sink in for a minute, I realized it was exactly right. This past summer, Kat (one of the hosts of April Moon), sent me a letter that included a card she’d pulled for me, “Nectar of the Lotus,” the Divine Mother, a Bodhisattva. Kat told me to let her know if it resonated with me. I’ve kept her letter on my desk ever since, not ready to took at it, consider it, but when I saw the archetype I’d picked for April Moon, I knew it was time to take a closer look.

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Card 20 from the Kuan Yin Oracle by Alana Fairchild

The Divine Mother wishes that those who are meant to feed others will be well fed too! Your devotion to helping others has the effect of squeezing the cosmic heart chakra of the Divine Mother. From her heart drips nectar, sweet, sustaining, life-affirming energy that feeds you and allows you to nourish many Souls. Like a sacred chalice that overflows, when you are full, well and vital, the feeding of others happens effortlessly. You are guided to be fed now, fed with Divine Nectar from the Heart of the Mother. ~Alana Fairchild

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And with that, kind and gentle reader, I think I’m going to go take a nap.