Onward!

happy Birthday to Me!

Image found via Pinterest.

I don’t know what this coming years holds and I am learning to get comfortable with that.

I don’t know if I will drink alcohol or not. I don’t know if I will make peace with drinking or not drinking or not.

I don’t know if I will finally say “Fuck it” to all the diets and food rules and truly mean it or if I will still be stuck on this crazy rollercoaster of restricting and judging and trying to find peace instead of actually finding it.

I don’t know if I will find an agent or be published or land that writing residency.

What I do know is that I will keep showing up to all of those areas and all the nooks and crannies of my life.

I do know that I will let myself down, feel ashamed and guilty when I do and then I will find the compassion to pick myself back up and continue onward.

I do know that writing every day has become so intricately woven into who I am that I will continue to write under all circumstances—a lesson from Natalie Goldberg that I have finally absorbed deep into my bones.

I do know that showing up is non-negotiable.

Showing up to my relationships.

Showing up to my writing.

Showing up to my creativity.

Showing up to my body.

Showing up to my yoga practice, and teaching practice and students.

Showing up up my meditation practice.

Showing up to my Self.

I do know that not knowing and continuing on is part of this human experience.

So, I may not know what this 55th cycle around the sun has in store but I do know that I plan to dive deep into the juicy, messy, perfectly imperfect, beautifully rich and complicated heart of this life I am so grateful to be living.

Onward!

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Birthday Reflection #7: F*ck It.

Birthday Reflection 7Warning: Shit-ton of profanity ahead.

I am 96 pages into this book by Caroline Dooner that arrived in the mail yesterday and I can tell that it is a game-fucking-changer.

The gist of it is that diets don’t work. They just don’t. Sure, our bodies can be tricked into losing weight for a while but our bodies are brilliant and all they want is to survive. When we diet and restrict food our body thinks we are experiencing a famine. Which we are. So, they go into survival mode. Which means slowing down our metabolism and storing fat.

As I read, I was flooded with memories of all the ways I having been fucking enmeshed in a battle with my body, food and body image for decades. Fucking decades.

Here are some in no particular order:

  1. Dancing to the Locomotion in a friend’s basement with boys and my friend yells at me in exasperation to stop stomping around like an elephant.
  2. Staying at a friend’s house I saw that they poured more cereal into their bowls after they finished so they could finish the milk. I thought that was genius. When I tried it at home, I was told I didn’t need to eat more cereal.
  3. I was 12 or younger when I wrote in my diary a confession about eating a Hostess Apple Pie and some Oreos.
  4. As a cheerleader in high school I heard some guy in the bleachers call me Thunder Thighs.
  5. I’m always afraid and ashamed of being weighed at the doctor’s office.
  6. I believe that gaining weight is a weakness and losing it is a strength.
  7. I judge every body I encounter. Mine, family, friends, strangers.
  8. I have so many food rules that I’ve attempted to follow over the years: eat “healthy” 80 percent of the time, “cheat” the other 20 percent; don’t eat past 7  at night; try not to eat for a full 12 hours, 16 is even better; limit bread and other starches; don’t eat processed food; the less ingredients the better and on and on and on.
  9. Holding my 10-week old baby a stranger the airport asked me when I am due.
  10. People feel free to comment on my weight loss but never weight gain. It’s crazy when you think about it. When we do that we are basically saying: “Congrats on taking up less space in the world!
  11. The first thing I do in the morning is stand in front of the mirror, lift up my shirt, turn sideways to see how flat or bloated my belly is. And that sets the tone for the day.
  12. I’ve tried the South Beach diet, calorie counting, hormone diets, sugar-free diets, intuitive eating, mindful eating

My most recent foray into weight loss has been using Spark People again to track my food. And it works. I hate doing it, but it works. In 3 weeks I lost 7 pounds. I did it by starving myself. My calories intake was between 1200-1500. I stayed within that range and usually at the lower end. But then I also exercised but didn’t track the calories burned. So, say I ate 1300 calories one day, burned 400 on the elliptical at the gym which means I ate 900 calories that day. Nine. Hundred. That’s insane. Especially when you read about the “The Minnesota Starvation Experiment” in Dooner’s book. Whcih you should. Every person, especially every woman, needs to read this book.

Her formula of eating what you want, when you want, as much as you want scares the crap out of me. But I am SO fucking exhausted from hauling around this baggage about my weight and body. I remember entering my 30’s, then 40’s then 50’s determined that I would finally be done with this obsession, this constant battle I wage against myself.

Well, I turn 54 tomorrow and I am apparently still deep in the battle. But with this book I see the possibility of freedom at on the other side. Before I went to bed last night, I took Spark People off my phone. Before I went to bed last night I ate a bowl of granola with blueberries and almond milk which freaked me out. But I was hungry so I ate. Novel idea. But it broke my rule of not eating past 7. And I didn’t measure anything. I just ate what I wanted, when I wanted in a quantity I wanted. Again, what a novel idea.

This morning I did not gauge the size and shape of belly. I ate what I wanted without measuring anything and I feel full.

I feel satiated.

I feel my body softening into gratitude for finally beginning to listen to her.

(I think I may have what Brené Brown calls a vulnerability hangover but I am going to press publish anyway. My motto as I turn 54 is: “Fuck it, I am who I am.”)

Birthday Reflection #6: Second Act.

Birthday #6

I firmly believe this.

This perspective changes everything.

It’s no longer “it’s all downhill from here.” That’s bullshit.

This is a second act. I have more freedom now. Freedom from hands-on parenting, from caring so much what others think of me, from my own incessant self-crticism. Why squander that freedom?

I am stronger now than I was in my twenties.

I am more confident.I am getting more and more comfortable in why own skin.

I started yoga in my forties and became a yoga teacher in my late forties.

Although I have been a writer for over 30 years, I believe I will be published in my fifties.

I’ve gathered an amazing tribe of women who offer fun and support and encouragement.

My marriage (thankfully) has continued to evolve as we have evolved individually.

So, how does your life change if you imagine this is the beginning rather than the end?

Birthday Reflection #5: Energy Over Age.

Birthday reflection #5

I love this quote from this amazing woman!

Age not energy dictates the quality of my life.

After our 16-day trip through Europe, my daughter pointed out that I probably couldn’t have done this five or six years ago, which coincides perfectly with when I committed to a yoga practice.

Since then, my practice has helped me to heal from and come back stronger than ever after hurting my low back. It has given me strength in my body but also in my mind and spirit.

Before yoga, when I would be away from home, I’d often find myself having anxiety attacks in the middle of the night. I was worried about that on our trip. I had one, but barely. I think it was mostly due to sheer exhaustion by that point but I slept a solid 10 hours , took it easy the next day, kept up with my writing, meditation and yoga and was fine.

My energy comes from within.

It comes from living my yoga off the mat, practicing all eight limbs.

It comes from taking care of my body and listening to it.

It comes from stoking the light within me and using it to help others find their own light.

It comes from being true to myself.

It comes from, as Liz Gilbert says, embracing the glorious mess that I am.

glorious mess

Birthday Reflection #4: All I Don’t Know.

Birthday #4

Photo from my walk this morning.

So much of growing older for me is getting comfortable with not knowing.

I don’t know when or how loss will shake the very foundation of my life. But I do know that it will come, as it comes to all of us.

I don’t know how I will respond to that inevitable loss and grief but I do know that I have the tools and the most amazing support system to get me through anything that comes my way.

I don’t know how my body and mind will age in spite of all the care I give to both. I do know that I feel immense gratitude for this body that allows me to experience the world and this mind that allows me to process and wonder and dream.

I don’t know when or if I will have a drink again. I do know that I feel my best when I don’t drink.

I don’t know if I will be published. I do know that I continue to write something every single day and even if I knew that I would never be published, I would continue to write.

I don’t know where life will take my daughters. I do know that we have given them deep roots so that may fly.

I may not know what is around the next bend in my day or life but I do know that I try to live my life in this moment which I know is the only moment that truly exists.

 

Birthday Reflection #3: Caring for this Body of Mine.

Birthday 3

I am learning to take care of my body.

Not to make it look a certain way but to feel good in it.

I care for my body by moving it daily.

I care for my body by showing up to my yoga mat daily.

I care for my body by eating vegan, eating whole foods as much as possible, drinking a ton of water and currently by not consuming any alcohol.

I care for my body because who else will?

I care for my body so that it will carry me exuberantly into the second half of my life.

 

Birthday Reflection #2: A Woman Who.

Megan RAPINO

Birthday Reflection #2

I love this photo of Megan Rapinoe.

She is a woman who is unapologetic about who she is.

A woman who is unafraid to take up space in the world.

A woman who uses her voice.

A woman who stands in her truth.

A woman who stands in her power.

A woman who owns her victories.

She is a woman who lifts other women up.

She is woman who stands firmly and fiercely in her light and invites everyone around her to do the same.

As I continue to grow older and to grow + heal and I hope to be as fierce as Megan Rapinoe.

 

 

Birthday Reflection #1: With Each Passing Year.

Birthday 1

In honor of my birthday week, I am going to post something for the next seven days. I don’t know if there will be a theme or if a theme will emerge. (One probably will.) I just want to write what I am drawn to as I end this particular journey around the sun.

With each passing year I feel layers of who I used to be crumbling into ashes at my feet. I step into and through those ashes, leaving footprints of where I have been, where I am and where I am going.

With each passing year, I find myself getting more and more comfortable with my own company, so different from the girl and young woman I used to be, never wanting to be alone with myself, with my thoughts, never really clear on who I was or who I wanted to be.

With each passing year I find more clarity on who I am as all these pages and words and images and stories spill from my fingertips, from my heart, from my breath, allowing me to unearth what lies beneath the shame, the pain, the fear, the false stories that have taken up residence in my mind.

With each passing year, it is easier to discern truth from those false stories. It is easier to catch myself when those lies begin to take shape. It is easier to then let them go before they take root.

With each passing year, I find myself more at peace no matter what is going on around me or what chaos is swirling within me. I am able to find a path in between both spaces so I am not swept away.

With each passing year, I find myself standing more firmly in my truth, more firmly in voice. I find myself more comfortable taking up space in the world.

With each passing year, I am able to hold my heart with a fierce tenderness that allows me to step out into the world and hold space for more women to do the same.

 

 

Learning to Lean into Joy.

content me

I posted this photo today on-line describing how content I am feeling.

Almost immediately this little voice popped up: Who do you think you are? Stop bragging. Enjoy it now cuz it’s all gonna come crashing down. How dare you be this happy when there are children locked in cages in our country.

And on and on and on.

The first time I heard Brené Brown talk about foreboding joy, every cell in my body vibrated with recognition. Foreboding Joy

It’s that space of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Or think you don’t deserve this happiness so it will soon be taken away.

2019 has been a good year for my family. Both of our daughters have graduated with their Bachelor Degrees. One is headed back for her Master’s on a full scholarship plus stipend as a Graduate Assistant. The other is getting ready to apply to an accelerated nursing program.

My daughters and I enjoyed an amazing 16-day adventure traveling to 4 different countries across Europe in May.

I came home to find my husband had bought me the perfect car.

We adopted a sweet puppy from Good Karma puppy rescue and her transition into our lives has been pretty seamless considering her background and how we were expecting it to go.

My BFF has almost completely recovered amazingly well from heart surgery.

I have stepped back into my role as yoga teacher after a month-long sabbatical in May and I feel even more at home in that role, connected to my purpose to create and hold space for my students to meet themselves where they are on any given day. A lovely student recently shared with me how much she has enjoyed watching me blossom into this amazing teacher and how much she loves my classes.

My heart is full with joy and gratitude.

And yet.

There’s this fear lurking beneath the surface. This fear that it will all change. All be taken away. That some catastrophe has to happen in order to even things out. No one person deserves this much joy, especially me.

That especially me is what Jen Pastiloff calls “my inner asshole.”

I am quite familiar with her. Luckily, I am also able to recognize her when she shows up. She showed up recently when my youngest (who is 22) chose to drive across the state on 4th of July to go to a party. My IA came out in full force. I felt this enormous anxiety about her safety. Drunk drivers on the road. Driving all that way then needing to drive back home. What if something happened to her while swimming? All these worst-case scenarios took up residence in my mind in technicolor details.

Then I recognized it for what it was. My IA and foreboding joy.

Brené Brown suggests using gratitude as an antidote when this happens so that is what I did. I called up everything single thing and person I am grateful for (it’s a long list). The sense of anxiety didn’t completely go away. But what did happen is that it created just enough space between me and that story. Between reality and fantasy.

I know this will never go away. It’s part of being human. But I know that I have the tools to see beneath the surface of the IA, beneath the anxiety and fears.

I have the tools to continue to lean into joy, day by day, moment by moment.

And I am not going to stop sharing my joy.

Or the vulnerability I feel at experiencing it.

Ditching my Usual MO.

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I’ve been having a hard time settling back into my life after 16 days in Europe, my month-long sabbatical from teaching yoga and just being out of my routine.

The daily barrage of horrifying news hasn’t helped..

The gloomy weather hasn’t helped.

What did help?

Writing. Writing always helps. It doesn’t solve every problem immediately but it definitely shifts my energy.

Yoga. Yoga grounds me in my body, in the moment where everything is okay no matter what my head is thinking. In this moment right here I am okay. Yoga reminds me of that over and over.

Meditating. I resist it but it always ends of being of benefit. Just finding that stillness. Or just observing  my mind being yanked around in twelve different directions. It always helps. Always. In all ways.

Feeling crappy. Yep. You read that right. If I am feeling crappy for whatever reason, I need to feel crappy. I can’t immediately go to the thing that will erase that crappy feeling. It’s there for a reason.

Friday night I had zero intention of going to the Summer Solstice ceremony at my studio. I was home alone most of the day. I cleaned the house which felt good. But I kept having this wanting to crawl out of my skin feeling. When I was finally able to pin down what I was feeling it was this: in flux, stuck and like I was unraveling.

Now, a lot of the time I would avoid those feelings. I would drink some wine, eat some chocolate, binge watch Netflix, mindlessly scroll through social media. None of those things help. In fact, they all make it worse.

Somehow, some part of me convinced me to go the ceremony. So, I dragged myself there. I actually felt like I was hauling a hundred pound duffel bag behind me, but I got in the car and I drove there.

There is something magical about being in community. Being in a sacred circle. My whole body just sighed with relief. This was where I was supposed to be.

Now, I’ve attended several of these ceremonies that include journal prompts which I love. I thought I had discovered all I had to discover about this resistance I feel in my writing. No, not the writing itself, but the getting the writing out into the world. How I sabotage myself just when I get in the groove of submitting my work.

I’m not going to go into the specific details but let’s just say I had not discovered everything I needed to know. I discovered something new. Something that had been there this whole time, just staring me in the face but I hadn’t seen it. I thought my resistance was about one thing and it turns out there was this whole other piece I hadn’t even considered. When I saw it I was stunned. But, of course, it made perfect sense.

And that piece I discovered? I also discovered that it was not mine to carry.

So, I let it  go.

I burned it in the ceremony.

I released it.

And I left that ceremony feeling a hundred pounds lighter.

If I had gone into my usual MO for dealing  with feeling crappy I would have missed this.

If I had ignored that voice inside me, nudging me to go to the ceremony when it was the last thing I wanted to do, I would have missed this.

We never know what small movement forward will make a huge impact.

Listen.

Make that move, no matter how small.

Be stunned at what you may discover.