Tag Archives: Learning

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.

#Reverb12: Day 10

reverb12There are a few extra prompts from over the weekend from Besottment that I’m catching up with here, and other ones that are on the wrong days because I can’t seem to keep them organized–but I like how no matter how I approach them, the right ones seem to come to me just when I’m ready to answer them, trusting in the process, the practice, the magic.

Funniest Story

The full prompt: What was your funniest story from 2012? This is a great prompt to have some fun with! Think of a funny story you were involved in, heard of, saw happen, etc. Describe what happened – is there any back story to it? What were the circumstances? Do you still chuckle when you think about it now?

For me, no one story stands out as memorable, as THE funniest. However, there are relationships where laughter happened on a regular basis–in my Writing for the Web class (I made them laugh, they made me and each other laugh), between Eric and I (we are always cracking each other up, over sometimes the dumbest things, stuff that would make no sense to anyone else), with my trainer (we both have a sense of humor equivalent to that of a 14 year old boy), and with the dogs (I don’t know if the dogs laugh or think things are funny, but they are constantly making me laugh).

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why the backyard needs grass: for running, rolling, lounging, and peeing on

This year I’ve became increasingly aware of my sensitivity to what I watch on TV–it has to be either funny without being too mean (no pranks of taking advantage of those who can’t defend themselves, no humor that is dependent on hurting someone), or a “feel good” story. I typically watch short episode comedies, with the occasional movie, when I watch TV. Shows like 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, The Mindy Project, Ben & Kate, New Girl, or The Office. On Netflix this year, I worked my way through How I Met Your Mother and then started My Name is Earl. (I really don’t watch as much TV as that all makes it sound like I do!)

Quote

The full post: What was the quote or saying that most resonated with you this past year? Was there any quote, mantra or saying that really spoke to you? Helped you through something? Made you smile?

The most significant quotes for me this year were:

Confidence is the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment. ~Susan Piver

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön

I have a hundred other favorites, but it was these two that came up, over and over–so often that I practically memorized them.

Nostalgia

The full prompt: Was there anything you were feeling nostalgic for in 2012? Anything that you were feeling nostalgic for? Something you were yearning for from your past? A memory that wouldn’t leave you, or tradition that you wish you could continue?

I felt this longing for something past first when we went to the beach this summer. We have stayed in the same house in Waldport three times now, and one of those times was Obi’s final trip there. The second time in that house, the next trip we took to the beach, we brought some of Obi’s ashes with us to scatter in our favorite spot, and this last time, I brought a little bit more. When we visited the place on Driftwood Beach, scattered more of his ashes, letting him go little by little, there were yellow wild irises blooming.

obisirisesThen right after we got back from our trip, Dexter was diagnosed with a fatal cancer. We’d only lost Obi to his three years before. This made me again feel nostalgic for the days when Obi and Dexter were together and so in love, both young and healthy. Three years out, I had finally felt as if I’d released most of the pain surrounding Obi’s loss, that it had softened to gentle sadness and happy memory. And just as that ease occurred, the grief began with Dexter. If only I could know for sure that Dexter would get to be with Obi when he left us, it would be so much easier to let him go.

Obi and Dexter

Accomplish

The full prompt: What are the 10 things I’m most proud of accomplishing this year? What are 10 things on the to do list for next year? (Author: Lee Currie)

10 things I’m most proud of accomplishing this year

  1. My continued commitment to this blog, the ease and joy of this practice.
  2. Attending the World Domination Summit.
  3. Meeting so many women I admire and not throwing up on any of their shoes.
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  4. Hosting a Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop, led by Rachel Cole.
  5. The poem I was brave enough to write and share at the Fearless Creativity Writing and Meditation retreat with Susan Piver.
  6. The way I’ve handled Dexter’s cancer, his care.
  7. Teaching.
  8. All the classes I’ve taken, the engagement and the learning.
  9. Connections I’ve made, so many amazing and like-minded, like-hearted people.
  10. 20 years with Eric, in a relationship that is functioning and workable, happy and loving.

10 things on the to do list for next year

  1. Take a lettering class, such as this one.
  2. Do a massive decluttering of our house.
  3. Send some things out to get published, both in print and online.
  4. Increase my HTML and CSS knowledge, specifically learn to set up and maintain a WordPress site on my own server.
  5. Heal my body, my relationship with it.
  6. Cultivate my meditation practice so it rivals my writing practice.
  7. Another retreat with Susan Piver.
  8. Explore and learn what it might mean, be like to teach an ecourse, (consult the experts).
  9. Catch up the home repair and improvement project list.
  10. Determine what a “balanced” like looks like and live it.

Soul Food

The full prompt: How do you nourish your soul? What activities are essential nutrients for your soul’s well-being?

buddhafeatherPractice: yoga, meditation, word, and dog.

Study: reading, reading and more reading, responding to prompts, taking classes, attending workshops and retreats, watching video and listening to podcasts, showing up and doing the work.

Connection: consulting with teachers and other open-hearted, wise beings, being open to whatever arises, synchronizing body and mind, connecting with nature and reality and myself.

Creation: art, space, and love.

Greatest Risk

The full prompt: What was the greatest risk you took in 2012? What was the outcome?

Being myself. Maybe I wouldn’t like her, maybe she’d be boring or insane, maybe Eric wouldn’t like her, maybe I’d have to choose between her and him, maybe she’d ruin my life, maybe she’d have nothing to say, no skill, nothing to offer, maybe she’d be less than I imagined, small, maybe she’d have something to say but no one would want to hear it, maybe she’d be hated, unlikeable, maybe she wouldn’t like who liked her, maybe she’d be impulsive, reckless, so selfish that she’d end up alone and unloved, maybe she’d fail, ruin my life.

None of these things turned out to be true. I adore her, and she’s doing really good work, helping people, easing suffering in the world.

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Scars

The full prompt: (this is the one I’m doing out of order, but it’s the right time now). They leave marks, and sometimes you can only take what you can carry. What will you, by choice or by chance, carry into 2013?

I will carry with me the consequences, the karma of mistreating myself, of denying my power, resisting my calling, rejecting my need for love and affection. There is real physical damage, a literal weight I carry with me, but there is also mental and emotional baggage, old habits and ways of being that no longer serve me, but are sticky and deep, patterns of behavior, discursive and destructive thinking, ways of numbing out, resisting and rejecting, running away from the truth. Judgement and criticism, anxiety and depression, practiced for so long, so intently that they don’t fall away in an instant, not even after concentrated effort. There remain faint lines, bumps, jagged raised scar tissue. They ache in the cold and itch in the heat, old hurts, lingering damage that can resurface under certain conditions.

#Reverb12: Day 6

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Change

The full prompt: If you could change one thing that happened this year, what would it be? Why? (Author: Linar Studio)

I am a person who typically doesn’t have regrets. I understand the value of my experiences, good and bad. I don’t spend a lot of time wishing that things were different. I’d rather spend my energy accepting and working with what is. I am usually able to forgive myself for my missteps, be gentle, laugh about it even–eventually.

But, if I really had the power to change one thing, my Dexter wouldn’t have cancer, wouldn’t be dying. And If I couldn’t change that, I’d make sure he at least hadn’t suffered because of it, so no bloody scare, no weeks of belly issues while we adjusted the one medication we could give him, the one thing that might help him feel a little better. And if I couldn’t change that, I’d change the fact that he had to reverse sneeze so much at the beginning, because he’s the sort of dog that runs out of the room when anyone sneezes, gets worried when someone chokes or coughs or gags, and he hated being the one doing it, not being able to stop.

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Intention

The full prompt: What were some of your mantras from 2012 and how did you come by them? Will they remain the same for next year – if not, what new ones will you set?

dreamwithfeathers My message from the Universe, by way of Andrea Scher, the idea that all I needed to do was clear some space and watch the magic unfold.

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha, a sanskrit mantra which invokes Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. I heard someone say that sometimes the obstacle needing removed is yourself, and ever since, it stuck with me. I find myself chanting it silently, spontaneously, trying to get out of my own way.

This from Susan Piver, “Confidence is the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.
~Rumi

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~me

“Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.” ~Osho

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

“We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.” ~Pema Chödrön

mypurpose

All these mantas, prayers, truths will go with me into the new year. There are so many more, collected and contemplated, written on my bones, but these are the main ones.

The one that I will be leaving behind is: “I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I’m so tired.” ~Me

Favorite Gift

The full prompt: What was your favourite gift given and/or received in 2012? Who was the recipient, who was the giver? What was it for (an event, holiday or just because)? Was the gift tangible or something else (i.e. support in a hard situation or laughter when it was most needed)?

My favorite gift I received was a marble from my friend. We were attending a weekend long workshop with Brene’ Brown, and Brene’ told the story of the marble jar. Her daughter’s teacher had a jar in her classroom where she’d put a marble every time the kids did a good thing, and that once the jar was full they got to have a class party. Brene’ had used the example to explain true friendship to her daughter. “Marble jar friends are the kind that keep putting marbles of trust and encouragement, reciprocity and boundaries, and all those good friend type things, into your metaphorical friendship jar,” (description from The Scent of Water: Marble Jar Friends). The next morning, when I went to pick up my friend, she gave me a marble.

My favorite gift I fave was a journal for that same marble jar friend for her birthday. I filled it with pictures, inspiring quotes, and writing prompts. I loved making it, and it made me so happy to see how much she liked it, that she understood it was a gift that was intended to communicate how special and precious she is.

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the journal is the one with the blue cover, with the jar full of white flowers on the front

Ease

The full prompt: What can you do to add ease to 2012?

  • Meditate regularly
  • Get enough rest, sleep and relaxation
  • Eat good food
  • Move more
  • Be less busy, less speedy
  • Spend lots of time in nature, in quiet, in stillness
  • Pay close attention, be mindful
  • Be kind and gentle, to myself and others
  • Let go of judgement and criticism
  • Stop smashing myself to bits
  • Stop struggling, resisting, running away
  • Relax, breathe, let go, surrender
  • Let love and joy in
  • Keep my heart open

Learning, Discovery

The full prompt: Compare the “you” from the beginning of 2012 to the “you” that you are now. What new skills or talents have you learned or discovered this year?

I am braver, am actively practicing and cultivating courage. I ask for help. I make contact, speak up instead of being frozen by my fear or sense of unworthiness. I offer my help. I say what I think, what I feel, what is true. I have a voice, I let it be heard. I love even though I know I will be hurt, I keep my heart open even when it’s hard. I stay with what’s happening instead of numbing out, resisting, or running away.

I reach out and connect with total strangers. I haven’t lost my mind, I don’t leave my front door wide open or anything like that, but I’m not as timid as I used to be. Today when I was walking across campus, I saw a women wearing boots, and carrying a basket with yet another pair of boots. I asked her, “I really have to know: why the extra pair of boots?” That might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it was huge for me. I send emails, make comments, invite interaction, go to a conference with 1000 attendees by myself–where a year ago I would have remained silent, hidden.

I am beginning to honor my own worth, to know that I have value, that I am enough as I am. I don’t have to earn love, I don’t have to change how I am. Who I am is my power: my genuine nature, my gentleness, my generosity, my goofiness. I am weird, but that is exactly what is so awesome about me. I am a beautiful, brilliant mess.

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