Lenses

As most of you know, I am in love with JH and have been for several years.  But as my mother taught me, love isn’t enough.  And she’s right.  As much as I want the Beatles song to be true, love isn’t all I need.  I need love, honesty, trust, communication, connection, vulnerability, space, time, attention, affection, respect, autonomy, listening, and a whole host of other things.  And I get those things in my relationship most of the time.  Still… in 4+ years it hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns.  Well, it has, but the unicorns get grumpy.

As happens in most relationships, annoyance set in for me recently.  JH used to worry when I said I was annoyed because she DOES NOT like feeling annoyed AT ALL.  It is high on the list of feelings she would prefer not to have.  I don’t love being annoyed (okay, maybe in some sick way I do), but I don’t mind it.  I do not strive to live an annoyance free life.  I’d trade mild annoyance on a daily basis for never having to feel anxiety ever again (if you are a genie or fairy reading this, please consult with me before granting this wish.  I haven’t really thought it through).

I didn’t realize how much I was letting annoyance take the lead until one day I felt drastically different.  When I looked at her, no matter what she was doing, saying, or not doing or saying… all I saw was THE MOST ADORABLE PERSON EVER.  I was so grateful!  What would have been mildly annoying last week, was SO CUTE!  SQUEE!  Nothing she could do would annoy me.  I saw her through a lens of gratitude and appreciation. And through this lens, everything was coming up rainbows and unicorns (as it should).

The shift happened in a moment when I was frustrated and reached out for comfort instead of pushing away.  I cried, let myself be seen and heard, and then listened when she talked instead of dismissing her words as unwanted advice or criticism.  I received what she was offering me in the way she intended (and almost always intends it): as an act of love.  I’d get into specifics, but that’s not really the point.  The point is about the lenses.

My apologies to anyone who has never worn glasses or contacts…  I hope you still get this.

You know when you go to an optometrist and put your face up against that contraption with the interchangeable lenses?  Image for reference.

Photo lovingly borrowed from http://www.mccsmiramar.com/optometrist/ Great photo, folks!

Photo lovingly borrowed from http://www.mccsmiramar.com/optometrist/ Great photo, folks!

The optometrist, quickly cycles through different lenses and asks you to compare your experience.

One.  Or Two?

If you wait too long to answer because you’re squinting to try to see if you can see better through two or not which is not the point at all, they repeat.

One.  Or Two?

Two (for sake of argument)

Two.  Or Three?

and so on and so on it goes until you’ve compared several different lenses and land on one that helps you see most clearly.  Nowadays, a modern optometrists office has a machine you can stare into ahead of time that measures your eyes, guesses your prescription, and the whole lens comparing process takes just a few moments compared to whatever it took before when it was based on a human’s best guess instead of a machine’s.

That was what it was like to notice my lens shift with JH.

To be clear, the experience between the lenses isn’t that different in a literal sense.  One will be a little bit brighter, the other a bit sharper.  There probably isn’t a “right” or “wrong,” there’s just the one that you see through in the way that you feel most comfortable and satisfied seeing.

And isn’t that just the way of things, eh?

It’s easy to grow comfortable seeing through a lens of annoyance, or judgement, or fear.  And then amazing to realize how much more joyous life can be when seeing through a lens of appreciation.  And although it happened to me totally by accident, I am clear that this is a choice I can make.

Just a few days after I noticed I was seeing through a rosey-er lens, I felt the annoyance lens start to creep back in.  I nodded at it slightly, thanked it for its noble service, and sent it on it’s way.  I’m choosing a lens of appreciation (and the adorableness it yields) on purpose.

Perspective is a fascinating thing.  If social media really is to be the death of us (no one I know has said this, I’m just being dramatic) I suspect it’s because we don’t realize that what we see on our feeds has been tailor made to reinforce the lenses we’re wearing.  We are all seeing something completely different.  Where my feed is filled with videos of cops dancing with children of color at block parties, rational explanations for why #blacklivesmatter isn’t actually divisive at all, puppies, kittens, and articles about emotional intelligence…  my police officer friends’ are filled with stories about officers being shot at, protests restricting access for ambulances carrying sick children, new weapon technology, and puppies & kittens.  And I think (this is just a hunch) we don’t realize that we’re not seeing the same things.  And I don’t even mean perspective wise.

We could each look at the same kitten video and come to wildly different conclusions.  When the way we get our information about the world is through a vehicle like Facebook, we are LITERALLY seeing different things.  And we don’t realize we’re seeing different things, which is why it makes it even more difficult to understand how someone else could come to such a radically different conclusion than we did.

Turns out, they (the people with the other lenses) are not idiots.  They, like you and me, have simply set up their life in a way that they receive information that validates their beliefs.  They are looking at their version of the world through their lens.  And their lens is not bad or wrong, and your lens is not good or right.  Each lens simply represents a way that each of us feels most comfortable seeing.

Where the magic happens, is when we seek to change our lens.  To try on the lens of another.  And to realize that each lens we wear is a choice.

On Being White…

There may be a time in my life when I am embarrassed by the choice to write this, but right now I’m embarrassed about not having written it sooner, so here we go.

The ancestral makeup that generates my skin tone is one half Irish/Scottish (there was some debate among family members) and one half Mexican/Hungarian.  I have a fair, sometimes ruddy complexion that burns quickly, freckles, and generally doesn’t get along well with the sun.  And for years I’ve avoiding identifying with this, the largest organ in (on?) my body, because of the story I assume you think it tells about me.

this white baby is me

this white baby is me

I grew up in a medium sized suburban city (Orange) in the middle of a very conservative county (Orange) in Southern California.  And it was there that I learned to dislike “white people.”  Now, let me be clear… my dislike of “white people” has little to nothing to do with an entire race of people (and much more to do with the mainstream culture of my town) and has even less to do with my beliefs about whiteness now (we’ll get to that).  It was instead, just a good ol’ cognitive distortion, assembled with experiences to create a series of beliefs like:

  • I don’t like “white people” because they value sameness, and I feel different
  • I don’t like “white people” because they keep their emotions tucked behind a firm layer of social nicety, and I want to shout everything I feel aloud
  • I don’t like “white people” because they go to church where – based on the few times I was dragged along – the main event was sitting still for an hour and hearing about being unworthy, and I… well, I just don’t like that
  • I don’t like “white people” because they vote republican, want to keep all the money they make, and are quick to judge others as lazy, and I see systemic inequities (I didn’t know those words then) and want to help
  • I don’t like “white people” because they’re boring, and I (even though I am) don’t want to be

In other words…  I don’t like “white people” because I don’t think they like me, and I’m all for pushing others away before they can leave me.

My two sets of grandparents, all living at the time (and now down to just one of four), were the embodiment of this division I saw in the world and felt within me.

this adorable white family is mine (and everyone in this photo is a lovely individual)

this adorable white family is mine (and everyone in this photo is a lovely individual)

My white grandparents lived in a 2 bedroom, manufactured home in the Joshua Tree Desert.  They had a huge satellite dish on the side of the house that brought in, what felt like, 3 channels.  There was also a shuffleboard court and a swing outside, a remote control toy General Lee, an organ, and an autoharp.  And it was quiet.  Both of my grandparents were soft spoken.  I never heard either of them raise their voice.  They went to bed early and woke early.  My grandma made us pancakes with club soda in them which made them light and fluffy.  They had Corelle dishware. They wanted to hear me play the organ (or my clarinet, or saxophone).  They wanted to play a card game with us.  They wanted to hear about our days.  They showed up to all of our performances.  They came to be with us for all the holidays.  They are what I know now to be idyllic grandparents, and I would do anything to go back in time to be with them and appreciate them, but I was bored.

The other side of my family is where the action was.  My Hungarian grandmother’s Mexican husband had died years before, but the 6 half breed children they’d had who were now adults are where I identified with my Mexican roots.  My grammy and her husband (a retired police detective with some loose genealogical ties to Edgar Allen Poe, white – but famous) lived in San Clemente in a 2 story house just a couple blocks from the beach.  There wasn’t much of a yard, but inside the house was a maze of rooms, nooks, crannies, and places where treasures were stored.  There were pink depression glass dishes we weren’t really supposed to use, but did anyway.  Up the dark, carpeted, floating stairs my grandpa had a collection of clown paintings and figurines that were classically creepy.  And there were always people around.  Loud people.  Arguments.  Food.  Drink.  Drama.  Showing up for and being concerned about me was limited at best.  There was plenty to want for.  It was dramatic.  It was, in retrospect – not particularly healthy, awesome.

And so my beliefs about race, including my own, were cemented.  “White people” were boring and I didn’t want to be one. “Brown people” were exciting and I wanted to be seen as one.

The issue with this is that I didn’t have much brown people cred.  First, my skin wasn’t brown.  To get a tan I would have to diligently avoid burning by religiously applying 80 spf sunscreen multiple times a day while spending at least 8 hours in the direct sun daily for at least two weeks.  I also didn’t speak Spanish.  Not even Spanglish, which I’ve since picked up.

Then in Jr. High, Stephanie Knecht, whose blond bangs were sprayed to an impressive 5″ height, furrowed her overdrawn brows at me as she shoved me into a locker and accused me of “mad dogging” her.  Stephanie, the resident white girl that hung with the cholas, was my lily white ass’ only potential in with the crowd I supposedly identified with… and that didn’t work out.  So, I just gave up figuring out who I was, or what I was and stopped thinking about it.

I intentionally distanced myself from the community I grew up in (by the way, my parents were totally lefty liberals… I guess they just thought suburbia was safer) and sought out a feeling of belonging elsewhere.  A bunch of other dramatic stuff happened that is irrelevant at the moment, but I’ll write a book some day.

When I started working in Diversity & Inclusion a few years ago, the question of my racial identity came up again.  No one asked me outright, but I assumed it was the question on everyone’s mind (for the record, I have NO idea if it actually is/was).  In response to the fear of in-credibility (<– if that word does not exist, it should) I played up my most “diverse” dimensions.  I got an asymmetrical haircut with a shaved side to be more visibly queer.  I started wearing an Our Lady of Guadalupe and darker lipstick any time I was facilitating a diversity training to give hints at my Latin/Catholic heritage.  I stopped wearing cardigans over my flabby arms to make sure everyone knew (who didn’t) that I was also a fat person.  I debated changing my last name to my mother’s maiden name (which I won’t tell you because it’s the answer to so many security questions).

still white. even with this badass haircut.

still white. even with this badass haircut.

It turned out all of my worries were for naught.  I’m good at my job because I’m good at being in a state of learning and moderate discomfort.  And the diversity cred I perceived I needed to be taken seriously hasn’t been an issue partly because I work within a framework that heavily emphasizes honoring ALL dimensions of diversity (beyond race, ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation) and expects/allows for self identification of all dimensions.  I still worry, though, but mostly about other things.

And then Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were shot.

And instead of turning away, I looked.  I watched.  I read.  I listened.  I did not push away the hurt.  I did not push away the discomfort.  I dove in and I learned something important: I am white.

In the 30+ years I spent trying to distance myself from my perceived  (insert: actual) race I was missing a BIG piece of the puzzle.

While I still, and will likely always, value the dignity that comes with inviting someone to self identify, and I still struggle with the reality that race (a mere social construct) has so much weight, I will never again discount the truth that race matters and perception is reality.  I may not feel like a “white person” (based on the beliefs I had about white people when I was child which have since been discredited through the process of maturity), I LOOK like a white person, and that’s what matters.  Because looking like a white person is a privilege.

White privilege is likely, at least in part, why I have been offered jobs, been approved for rentals, been able to shop in peace, been able to sass the police without any harm befalling me, been granted social niceties, and generally been kept safe, lifted up, encouraged, and celebrated by the communities I engage with.  Everything I wrote about in this piece, and likely more than I have even realized, is a function of white privilege.  Wondering about my race is a privilege that people of color do not have the option to do – the world gives them PLENTY of information about their race and what it means about them.  Changing my appearance to convey different messages about myself is a function of my privilege – my skin color, the foundation of my physical appearance ensures I will convey “safe” to most people who cross my path no matter what my hair or makeup look like.  Even writing this, expecting it will be read, and the likely reality that no harm will befall me because of it is a function of my privilege.

And I didn’t realize until all too recently… that by trying to distance myself from my whiteness, what I was really trying to distance myself from was feeling guilty for my privilege.

I am sensitive to inequity.  I can’t help but see it and I want it to go away.  And somehow within my childlike mind I was successful in doing the mental gymnastics I needed to do to safely distance myself from taking responsibility for the parts I play in maintaining the systemic inequity society is entrenched in.

White guilt is an easy next step once you’ve stumbled upon the truth of white privilege.  I am hoping to skip over it, but the truth is I’m on shaky ground and I don’t know what will happen.  The first feeling I had when I truly allowed myself to witness the depth of the injustice people of color live with daily was anger.  I am not comfortable with anger, but I knew it had a message for me so I sat with it.  And what anger taught/reminded me is that I am not effective when I am angry.  My gifts are compassion, forgiveness, humility, and kindness.  When presented with the question: what gifts do you have that you are not using?  My answer was: all of them.  Time to change that up.

Right now, I believe that the most important thing I can do as a person of privilege is use my privilege to create safety and space for people of color.  I can close my mouth and listen to people of color.  I can use the safety my privileged appearance inspires in other white people to gently influence perspectives and behavior change.

When I see inequity, I do something.
When I witness a microagression, I do something.
When I hear racism, systemic or individual, I do something.
When I have an opportunity to educate, I do something.
When I am asked to help, I do something.

Even when I am not asked…  I do something.

—–

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu

Moving on an Empty Stomach

I just did the final pre-move move. You know, that trip from the old place to the new one with your car jam packed with things that don’t fit in boxes. Maybe you heard (from JH’s HuffPo piece!) that we’re moving. And we are. And it didn’t seem that monumental until this last drive from here to there.

It occurred to me as I was arguing with JH about whether or not I needed to make this trip (I said yes, she said no and I am the boss of moving related things) that I was taking a very strong stance and that it was for no other reason than I believed this trip was necessary to make tomorrow’s move go smoothly. And this is important because in the not too distant past my urgent need to get in my car and go out into the night alone would have been motivated by something else completely.

FOOD.

Things I may have binged on while on this proverbial pre-move move:
Burritos
Mini Donettes
Doritos
Burger & Fries
Orange Bang
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Candy Bars
Ice Cream Bar
Honey buns

Probably not all of those, but pick at least 3…

This time, with a few bites of chicken breast and some swiss chard in my belly, I didn’t think about food AT ALL until I realized I wasn’t thinking about it. And then I only thought about it to think about not thinking about it. In other words, I didn’t want it. It was pretty magical.

So, what’s the fallout to not bingeing while moving?

Well… moving is stressful (yep). And I was kind of a jerk (it’s true). I yelled a few times. I growled. I made demands of others without bothering to sound polite. I stepped fully into my inner control freak and let her fly her flag high.

AND… my family still loves me. They actually don’t seem the slightest bit phased by my less than stellar behavior. Which made me wonder/and subsequently realize: I was a jerk while moving on sugar too. I was! I was probably even more of a jerk. And they knew it. And they felt it. I was the one who couldn’t feel it.

Hmh. Interesting.

Lesson learned: I can be a bit of a jerk and people will still love me.

IMG_5341

this picture is sideways but I’m too tired to fix it.

—–

What I ate today (if anyone is still curious):
1. Scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, and half a stale homemade cassava tortilla
2. Chicken lule kabob, cabbage salad, hummus, and fries
3. Few bites of chicken breast & swiss chard

a lot of chicken apparently…

Hungry for Purpose

I’ve been hungry lately.  And I’ve consumed my weight in nuts and avocado in and effort to quell the hunger.

I hear my doctor’s voice in my head “you need fats.  eat more fats and you won’t be hungry.  you won’t have cravings.”  So I eat the fats, and then I cry when I realized that I forgot to include “Oreo Thins” in my last hurrah and I will never try them.4cd26b013a082db5f453adf2f7452dbb  Have you seen these things?  Have you had them?  Don’t they look like they just fit into your mouth perfectly (whole of course), and snap in half when you close your jaw around them, letting the chocolatey and creamy sweetness melt into your mouth… don’t they?

Apparently my food baggage will continue with me on this journey through life even if I don’t open the suitcase.

In addition to being hungry I’ve also been “fine.”  This is not something I take lightly.  I hear the word come out of my mouth every evening when JH asks me how my day is.

“fine,” I say.  And then inside I cringe.  Why am I just fine?  Fine isn’t where I like to be.  Nothing’s wrong, which is nice, but why doesn’t all that’s right inspire me to feel the joy and gratitude I was feeling just a few short weeks ago.  Are the occasional indulgences I’ve made in french fries, cassava (it’s a root vegetable) flour tortillas, coffee, and chocolate chia pudding (I used homemade almond milk instead of coconut and honey instead of maple syrup) really changing my chemical makeup that much?  Maybe.

But today I realized it was something more.

Today I realized that my hunger… the insatiable, even by nuts and avocado (which ALWAYS work for me), hunger has nothing to do with food and instead has to do with purpose.

I ended my One Spirit Medicine journey with a Vision Quest that showed me VERY CLEARLY how I was to be giving my gifts to the world.  Through writing.  A book about motherhood.  Many books about the lessons nature can teach us.  Books Books Books.  That was all she wrote (pun intended).  She (the Universe) didn’t say anything about going to work, eating my veggies, doing my morning meditation (I’ve been skimping on that too… oops), washing my hair, doing dishes… these things I WANT points for that aren’t actually worth that much.  NOPE.  She just told me to write.  And the week after I did a teeny tiny bit.  And then I stopped.  And then things stopped being great, they weren’t good even (even when they were), they were just fine.

Tonight, even though I had already come to this realization that the hunger wasn’t food related, I made myself a “frosty.”  Which means I put a frozen banana, some dark chocolate, and almond milk into the Vitamix, poured it into a jar, drizzled some coconut milk whipped cream on top, dropped a bit more dark chocolate in the mix, and stuck a spoon in it.  And I ate it.

And then I broke out in hives on the back of my neck.

And then I had to rush to the bathroom.

Alrighty.  I guess the message is clear.  Sugar (even in the most natural of forms) will not longer be an acceptable substitute for living a purposeful life.  My life, while meaningful in so many ways, will not be satisfying or truly purposeful until and unless I follow the path laid out for me by my own connection with the universe.

Damn it.

—–

What I ate today:

  1. 1 scoop of Amazing Grass green powder and the juice of a Meyer lemon in 12 oz of water
  2. 3 over medium eggs, spinach, olive oil
  3. Roasted seaweed snack
  4. Green salad wth steamed broccoli and avocado
  5. Spinach, chicken sausage, avocado
  6. The aforementioned “frosty”

One Spirit Medicine (is over, but not really)

On Saturday, 2/20, on day 42 of my journey towards myself (brought to you by eliminating the following ingestible items: grains, sugar (including fruit and vegetables that grow under the ground) and sugar substitutes, cow dairy, alcohol, caffeine) I gathered with the other members of the One Spirit Medicine group and went on a Vision Question.

At the end of Villoldo’s book, the Vision Question is the culmination of the experience, in which one receives One Spirit Medicine.  In other words, this is when/where/how you get divine guidance.  You’ve eaten in a way that removes all barriers from your authentic connection to earth and spirit and as such you are open to receiving what the universe really has in store for you.  Villoldo’s idea of a vision quest is 3 days in the desert with just yourself, some water, a notebook, and a pen.  I’m into the idea (call me crazy), but it wasn’t part of this program.  Our Vision Quest was more of a bourgeois Vision Quest.  3 hours instead of 3 days.  At Descanso Gardens instead of in the desert.  And fasting was optional (I opted for it, but I wasn’t even done digesting the enormous breakfast I’d eaten that morning in preparation by the time we were done).

We were instructed to go find ourselves a place to be (maybe we’d stay there the whole time, maybe we’d move) and then be open to the possibility that more could happen in those three hours than had happened in the last 40+ days.  Okay, sounds reasonable.

I was scared.  And very frantic.  I had forgotten my chap stick, and my totem rock, and some other thing(s) I can’t remember now.  I had done SO well, what was I going to do now?  How was I going to keep from slipping back under?

I’m not going to tell you all about what happened on my Vision Quest.  Either because it’s sacred, or because I’m saving it for a book.  Only time will tell.  But I’ll tell you we were advised to write and journal and let ideas and thoughts come without judgment.  And we were told that the thoughts that came that were the juiciest, so juicy that we could’t imagine coming up with them ourselves, THOSE were the messages from spirit.  That was One Spirit Medicine.  And THAT was the vision the universe had for us, and the one we were destined to follow.

A few tidbits from the universe’s vision for me:

  • Alignment – I cried for most of the first hour because I was overwhelmed by gratitude.  I had never taken such good care of myself in my life and as such I was finding myself (for the first time EVER) completely aligned.  There was no part of me and how I showed up in the world that was not aligned with my values, beliefs, priorities, etc.  I was no longer a wonderful person who pushed her beliefs aside to gorge on McDonald’s, I was just a wonderful person.
  • Children’s Book Author – Then I wrote a children’s book about a daffodil and a lilac
  • Memoir Author – Then I outline a whole other book about being a mother (that I’ve been afraid to write for years because I have this belief that my story will be unwelcomed because my child is far from a model of perfection).
  • Children’s Series Author – Then I outline a whole series of other nature based children’s book characters

I guess I’ll be doing a lot of writing on my destined path.  Sounds like a plan.

So, it’s over… in that the 6 weeks have passed.  I was successful, by my own evaluation.  These are my before and after pictures.  Let me just tell you, the light that appears to be illuminating my face in the 2nd picture, it’s coming from the inside.

FB661EF3-3F8E-46D2-994D-F10CC0328FE3

I plan to continue this way of fueling my body (and being this aligned, because let me tell you — that shit is AMAZING.  Can’t beat it).

The night after the vision quest I “broke the fast” by making these (I didn’t have coconut water so I used 4 TB of water and 1 TB of coconut oil, and I only had sweetened coconut so I opted out of mixing it with the chia and just rolled some in plain chia and saved the coconut for others) and eating 3 of them and having a few parsnip chips.  The energy balls made me a little antsy (caffeine?) and the parsnip chips were sweet (yuck).  I am not missing anything.  How could I miss the suffering that comes from being a victim of my own habits?

I FINALLY understand the “we admit we are powerless” step in AA (et al).  I used to have SO much resistance to that idea… how would feeling powerless inspire or motivate me to change?  That’s not what it’s about at all.  Knowing when you are in over your head is strength.  Knowing how to walk away from what will hurt you is courage.  Being powerless over a substance or behavior isn’t weakness, it’s brain chemistry.  It’s life.  And the choice to realize that truth is when, where, and how you get ALL THE POWER BACK.

—–

What I ate today:

  1. Hot water with lemon (I am over making green juice for the time being)
  2. 2 over medium eggs on a green salad, 1/4 avocado, 2 slices of the Focaccia from the Wheat Belly Cookbook (it’s almond, garbanzo bean, and flax seed)
  3. Green salad with egg salad and another 1/4 avocado
  4. A handful of almonds, pecans, and cashews
  5. Shrimp curry over sautéed kale
  6. (I went a little off book and ate) blueberries with some stevia sweetened/poisoned coconut whipped cream I had made from 1/2 a can of leftover coconut milk
  7. roasted seaweed snack

 

One Spirit Medicine – Day 38

Yesterday was the first time in 36 days that I ate when I wasn’t hungry.  It wasn’t a binge, per se… but I went back to the container of salted cashews for a few more small handfuls knowing that I was not doing it for nourishment, but instead for the entertainment that peanut oil and sea salt provided to my mouth.

Turns out it’s a damn slippery slope too.  That night, as I sat in a forward fold during a Yin Yoga practice meant to reveal negative patterns I realized what had happened.  I sort of knew it in the moment, but I REALLY knew it when the backs of my legs screamed at me about it.   That entertainment was a distraction from how I was feeling – which was overloaded.  I had taken The Boy and his friend to the CA Science Center that day and it was loud, and dark, or sometimes bright, and crowded, and loud.  Did I mention loud?  I get overwhelmed very easily in big, crowded, dark or sometime bright, loud places.  And apparently the one hour I spent alone in my room after we got home was not a sufficient recharge.  I was feeling uncomfortable and I tried to mask that discomfort with salted nuts.

And I realized then that I had already made up my mind to have a wedge of goat brie with the fresh crackers I was pulling out of the oven in just a few minutes.  I did some mental gymnastics, sitting still there on the mat until I decided not to eat.  It was 9pm, dinner had been hours ago, and I had not eaten after dinner in 36 days.  Why start now?

Yoga ended and I ate the wedge (albeit a smaller one than I had originally planned) and a few of the crackers.  I didn’t feel any better, fuller (I wasn’t hungry to begin with), more satisfied satisfied… just disappointed.  JH asked me, upon giving voice to my shame (aka confessional), if I was worried about myself.  I wasn’t.  I saw what had happened and I didn’t want to go back to that way of being.  If I was going to eat “off program” it was going to be with intention (more about that in the coming weeks).

This adorable illustration showing mac & cheese's love for each other comes from worldartsme.com

This adorable illustration showing mac & cheese’s love for each other, and meant to get your attention and not really prove any points, comes from worldartsme.com

Apparently whomever runs the Universe thinks I needed another opportunity to see my own behavior and its potential detriments because today…

Today, The Boy (who is both allergic and addicted to dairy like his mama):

  1. took a discarded mac & cheese hot lunch from the Donation bin at school
  2. put it in his backpack
  3. took his backpack into our friends’ house where I was dropping him off to play while I went to an appointment
  4. told me he wanted his backpack because it had a toy in it (<–lie)
  5. and then sat outside (alone) to eat his mac & cheese (<–like the people who go on The Biggest Loser –and me– do with their donuts in the car)

Cue opening of flood gates of shame.

Seriously?  I STOPPED this behavior.  I am 2 fucking days away from being fully engaged in my new relationship to food (and myself, and the earth, and everything in existence) and TODAY I have to see that I somehow taught my child to behave in the same way that was killing me?

Ouch.

I don’t know what to do.  I told him about my experiences with food and my feelings of powerlessness.  I empathized with him about the discomfort of craving (especially when in withdrawal, he had just returned from his dad’s where he ate pizza a couple days before).  I explained my disturbance at the lying/sneaking/hiding.  I expressed my concern about his wellbeing.  He doesn’t care.  It doesn’t matter to him.  It’s not a “big deal.”

Perhaps I am overreacting.  Perhaps any given reaction is as much reaction as is warranted in the moment by the person having the reaction and to say that someone is overreacting is to invalidate their experience as a person with emotions.

It wasn’t a big deal to me either… for let’s say 25 years.  Until it was.  I hope he doesn’t have to wait that long.

So, now I just let it be.  And I don’t eat to cover up the feelings.  And it sucks.  And I’m sad.  And I’m worried.  And I feel ashamed.

And I remember that control is an illusion.

And I search around for hope.  And I find a glimmer of it.

And I keep doing my best.

And that’s all I can do.

 

—–

What I ate today:

  1. Green drink (collards, spinach, celery, cucumber, lemon)
  2. sautéed yellow squash, broccoli, and two over medium eggs
  3. 8 multi “grain” crackers, 2 slices of goat cheddar, slice of roasted chicken, roasted seaweed
  4. 8 multi “grain” crackers, slice of goat cheddar, slice of roasted chicken, 3 walnuts, 3 pecans
  5. quinoa, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chicken sausage from TJ’s, turkey meatball, goat “ranch”

One Spirit Medicine – Day 35

I long for the feeling of having “made it.”

Yes, it’s about the journey I understand.  The destination is fleeting if it exists at all, but there’s something comforting about believing that I have arrived.

Despite having 5 more days in the 40 prescribed days of this detox, I had started to feel (without noticing) that I had made it.  I wasn’t taking risks with food.  The power of my old habits weren’t pushing limits to see what they could get away with.  I just stopped taking care of my feelings.

I wrote a lot less.  I engaged my body in intentional movement (usually yoga) even less than that.  The illusion of process being the same as journey allowed me to believe that I had accomplished a singular task.

11046475764_a5be31184a_oI cleansed my body of toxics

I cleared my mind of habits and patterns

I released deeply held emotions and experiences

I was done, right?  I would keep eating like this and I would just be okay from here on out.  I had a GREAT week this week.  I noticed a shift in the way I do my work from transactional to transformational (which is the goal, so go me).  I heard myself speak clearly and bravely with the voice of an advocate who was still fair and empathetic.  Again, I wore jeans sans muffin top.

And then anxiety started creeping up on me.  I thought to myself, I should probably do yoga… and then I didn’t.  I decided if I pooped I would feel better (not that I have any control over that).

The poop came and the pressure in my chest was still present.  I wasn’t plugged into my thoughts anymore.  Questions were answered with a quick “I don’t know” before I considered what was going on and why.  I threw a tantrum and was (tough) lovingly sent out of the bedroom to do some yoga.  And on the mat, as the deliberate breath acted as a release of fear and tension, the information came.

This ain’t ever going to be over, girl.

Every day in every way, you will be releasing and receiving.

You haven’t received all of the gifts.  You haven’t released all of the burdens.  And even if you had, there is an abundance of new in each day, hour, minute, moment…

I long for the destination, but the destination isn’t meant to be indulged in for more than a moment.  It’s absolutely true that I made it.  I made it to this morning, and yesterday, and the day before.  And those were beautiful destinations.  Now is the next destination.  I’m on my way.

—–

What I’ve eaten today so far (I just woke up 90 minutes ago):

  1. Trader Joe’s Wasabi Roasted Seaweed snack

One Spirit Medicine – Day 29 (4 weeks, 1 day)

I said before that I would write when something was significant.  The last couple weeks have been full of significance, and today isn’t particularly significant in any way…  other than I have enough free time to sit down and put finger to keyboard.  The weeks’ significance hasn’t had a lot to do with food and has come more in the form of needing to move (because the owner of our rental house is selling), exploring shame, safety, and commonalities between my attitude about food and the issue of money (because I managed to accumulate credit card debt again), and having a much smaller (in fact some might argue, none at all) muffin top when wearing jeans.

What’s possibly most significant about where I am here on day 29 is how insignificant my “new” routine feels.  I wake up, I juice, I pack food, I feel hunger, I eat, I taste, I delight in flavors that seem new, sometimes I poop (still not enough!), I sleep, and I repeat.  It isn’t hard, or laborious, or challenging. I don’t find myself wanting or feeling any lack.  I have enough and I am satisfied.

With just two weeks until this “detox” is over and I see some of my peers counting down the days until they can have a piece of bread or scoop of ice cream, I sometimes wonder if I miss sugar (I tend to lump all of the things I’m not eating into the “sugar” category in a grand generalization) and the answer comes quickly… Yes, there is something I’m missing.  A nostalgia for carelessness, or the belief that a discomfort could be easily erased with a snack cake–if only temporarily.  The recovered heroin addict or alcoholic misses the high on some level, and I am the same.  But the truth is If I were to miss sugar I would really be missing:

  • Feeling prisoner to cravings
    • One night a few weeks ago the image of a bean & cheese burrito popped into my head at bedtime.  Oh crap, I thought.  This is it… this is a craving… my first big one.  What am I going to do?  In the past a craving lead to a binge.  I would obsess about a certain food until there was nothing to do but have it.  Often in mass quantities.  AND because the fulfilling of the craving was never all that satisfying it would lead to mass consumption of other things that should have made me feel good. This time.  I closed my eyes, went to sleep, and was not thinking about burritos again when I woke up.  It’s a miracle.
  • Intense anxiety about hunger
    • What if I get hungry and have to wait to eat?!?!?!  I might DIE!!!  Hunger, when it is simply a request for nourishment from the body instead of a desperate fix to fulfill an addictive pattern, feels SO much different.  I can be hungry for a couple hours before hAngry sets in.  And I don’t have to eat past the point of full to feel confident I’ll be satiated for long enough.
  • Pain
    • I lived with it so much I didn’t notice it, but now that it’s gone I can feel what it is like to walk around with joints that work as intended.  I ate Korean BBQ last week for lunch and I’m guessing the meat had some sugar in the marinade…  Not only was I suddenly hungry for most of the rest of the day, but I ached.  Like my bones were made of glass and someone had come through each joint to shatter it with a hammer.
  • Shame
    • Eating in my car what I didn’t want to let others see me eat.  Bingeing before meeting a friend so I could eat minimally and still be full (although I never did, I still overate in front of them).  Looking over my shoulder while shoveling things into my mouth at the kitchen counter hoping not to be caught by a family member.
  • Ignorance, denial, and blindness
    • It felt blissful in the moment, but on the other side I realize I was living without access to my power.  I was a victim of everything, most of all myself.  Everything was “just a little” or “no big deal.”  And because I never bothered to count how many times I said that all those little bits added up to more than a hundred pounds gained and several thousand dollars lost.

11087262115_ac22bd06c3_oNever before in my 35 years have I understood the value of sacrifice.  I lived with the idea that I deserved to have everything I wanted, and as long as I could make that happen without hurting anyone else (too badly), then I should have it.  What refusing to live without drove me towards, however, was an absence of discretion.  I took, consumed, and accumulated all without considering whether I wanted it, it served me, or if it would better serve someone else.  Now, after a simple shift I do not miss having what I want… I get to relish in receiving the things I need:

  • Energy
    • I wake up in the morning ready to be awake and alive.  I breathe easily.  My body moves and bends and twists.  I make it past 3pm without feeling like I need a nap under my desk.  My creative juices flow and flow and flow and flow.  I can turn them on and off at will.
  • Abundant Resources
    • Guess what.  When you do not spend your money carelessly… you may actually have money.  It’s amazing!  I thought that being rich would mean I could buy anything I wanted.  Turns out buying everything I wanted made my poor.  I feel richer having less.
  • Available emotions
    • I feel alive.  When I’m sad I cry, angry I rage (within reason), frustrated I grumble, joyful I sing, grateful my heart swells.  The first few weeks were horribly uncomfortable.  I had been pushing the feelings away for a long time for a lot of reasons.  But they’re really quite amazing.  With enough breath, having these feelings is like laying in a grassy field watching clouds go by in a soft breeze (if every couple of clouds is a total asshole).
  • A heightened connection
    • I am plugged in.  I have found that when in conversation if the other person is trying to think of what to say or how to answer I hear their answer in my head before they say it (super fun!).  I notice smells, sounds, shapes, colors.  I am here, on earth, by choice, and it’s really quite beautiful.

Totally worth it.

—–

What I ate today:

  1. Green drink: kale, ponderosa lemon, cucumber, broccoli stalk, celery
  2. Over medium eggs and broccoli
  3. 12 multi “grain” crackers with 1/4 wheel of goat brie & 1 TB of peanut butter
  4. Green salad with broccoli, over easy egg, avocado, & tzatziki (made with goat yogurt)
  5. Super Bowl Snack Dinner: crispy baked chicken wings, goat yogurt ranch, hummus, celery & cucumber sticks, a few more of those crackers!

 

One Spirit Medicine – Day 14 (two weeks!)

Girl Scout cookie season is hard.

For the most part I have been surprisingly satisfied eating this way… and then I worked a Saturday and it all feel apart.  Or maybe it was just timing: stage 1-physical detox, stage 2-emotional detox, stage 3-stare old habits in the face without other distractions and attempt reprogram the neural pathways that are responsible for them.

It’s probably both.

I worked on Saturday.  Up at 5:30 and out the door by 6:30.  Home around 3:30… earlier than expected. And it was a great day.  I delivered three workshops (two on inclusion and one on mindfulness) to over 150 youth development leaders.  I worked with a strong team to put on a smoothly run event that gave over 300 people an opportunity to develop themselves.  It was great!  It was also really loud in the giant room (not an environment I thrive in) and it was Saturday so instead of being in my robe and slippers on the couch I was up, wearing a bra, and talking to people I don’t live with.

Without sugar my introversion is confirmed.  I NEED alone time.  I NEED to recharge and refresh by being with myself, in quiet doing things that I enjoy.  Midday today that became abundantly clear because:

  1. All I wanted for lunch was cheese
  2. When dropping The Boy off at a birthday party where there were people I actually love, I was unbelievably cranky
  3. When I got back out to my car I immediately started singing made up songs…  I sing when I’m happy
  4. When my family got back home later in the afternoon I felt compelled to run away and hide.

So much of my alone time used to be about eating.  Either bingeing or indulging in something obviously bad for me… OR just being alone so I could eat something reasonably good for me in quiet and private.  What I didn’t realize until today is that I didn’t actually need the eating part to get my needs met.  I just needed the quiet.

I even tried eating the cheese.  And I still didn’t feel better.

NOT the answer to all my problems...

NOT the answer to all my problems…

Totally would have been if we'd had some (I kid. Sorta...)

Totally would have been if we’d had some (I kid. Sorta…)

Quiet it is.  Off to bed!

Stories about funny foodies to come (like the time I thought someone was offering me cake when really they were just trying to help me parallel park, or the other time when I had a panic attack about a burrito).

—–

What I ate today:

  1. Green juice (kale, cucumber, cabbage, celery, lemon)
  2. 2 over medium eggs, smoked salmon, goat cheese, & green salad
  3. Green salad with garbanzo beans and pecans
  4. 1 1/4 wedges of goat brie
  5. The edges of a tray of grain free crackers I made with almond flour