Friday, December 29, 2017

Anne Lamott's New Year's Non Diet Missive

From Anne Lamott:  I so needed to read this today.

We need—I need— to have the same little talk we have every year at this time:
I know you are planning to start a diet on Monday, January 1st, I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, " Oh, that's great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?"
I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.
Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, to friendship with my own heart, to a glade that had always existed deep inside me, to mostly healthy eating, but that I'd avoided all those years by achieving, dieting, binging, people-pleasing, and so on.
Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: "Great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?" Here is what's true: diets make you fat. 95% of the time. We gain it back, plus 5 lbs.
I may have mentioned several hundred times that I have had the tiniest, tiniest struggle with food and body image for the last--well, life time. Hardly worth mentioning. It is a long story, having to do with childhood injuries to my sense of self, terrible anxiety, and the inability of my parents to nurture my soul: so starving and chastising myself cannot possibly heal this. I hate to say it, but only profound self-love will work, union with that scared breath-holding self, and not a diet that forbids apples, or avocado. Horribly, but as usual, only kindness and grace--spiritual WD-40--can save us.
Can you put the scale away for a week? Okay, then how about 4 days? I have been addicted to the scale, too, which is like needing Dick Cheney to weigh in every morning on my value as a human being. Can you put away your tight pants, that don't actually hurt you? Wear forgiving pants! The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act, with random thoughts about my butt.
By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor's care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won't work. You will lose tons of weight quickly, and gain it all back, plus five. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious problem with sugar: if I start eating it, I sometimes can't stop. I don't have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat Raisinets until the cows come home--and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.
But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with very little sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don't eat peanuts. Have an apple! Have some avocado.
It's really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It's okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and to pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. Unfortunately, it's yet another inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and peace of mind you long for is not out there. It's within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it's true.
Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to all problems. Doing a three minute meditation every day will change your life. Naps are nice.
I'll leave you with this: I've helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn't say, "Here Pastor--let's eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. i have my own." And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container. No, they'd get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That's what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or on the 1st. Wow!
Join me in not starting a diet January 1st. And God bless you all real good, as my pastor always says.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Divine Dance in the Donut Shop

I was having a hard time emotionally yesterday.  I went to Mallory's school in the morning for a program and then I had to return in the afternoon for another program.  On occasion, I have been blindsided by feelings that come up when I go to campus as Riley is no longer there.  When I see high school uniforms, I immediately think, oh, where is she? And then I remember... she's across town.

Anger, resentment and sadness bubble up and sit on my chest.  With ten years under our belt, I never planned to change schools but it was an absolute necessity.  I am resentful that it did not work out. I am sad that she felt like she didn't belong.  (And on a deeper level, it's about me feeling like I didn't belong)  She and I have discussed it any amount of times to understand it just wasn't a good fit for her.  Her personality didn't mesh with her particular grade.  Yet I want this energy of anger and sadness to GO AWAY but I know I have to allow them to flow through and not fight it.  I asked one of my bests friends, to please tell me that I'm not crazy for feeling this way.  (Even when I know, feelings are just energy and they will flow through)  I was lucky that she happens to have a friend in a similar position that has expressed similar sentiments to mine.  But the unwelcomed energy still sat there.  I broached the subject with Riley on our ride home and she, of course, knew where I was coming from.  She at fifteen is growing up, maturing and now that she is in a better place, our relationship is more mature and we can communicate better. (of course it still has it's moments!!)

That afternoon, I walked with my neighbor and the movement and conversation helped my spirits but heaviness still sat on my chest.  It is grief, not as deep as losing a loved one but it is grief nonetheless and as the case with grieving, it shows up in waves when you least expect it.

This morning before school, Mallory and I took a very last minute detour to the donut shop to bring some for a school party.  It was very off the cuff last minute decision.  We ran into several school acquaintances who were doing the same.  I asked one friendly acquaintance how she was doing.  And then she inquired how Riley was doing at the new school.  I answered that she was doing well and it was working out so far. She said some schools are just not a fit for everyone. And then, I took a big risk and mentioned my resentful feelings.

And this is where the God wink begins.

My risk of vulnerability paid off, and she acknowledged my feelings. I don't even remember exactly what was said, but I  felt heard and she understood the quagmire of one child leaving a school and one child remaining there.

It was music to my heart.

Side Note: It is very important to save heartfelt emotions to share with someone who deserves the right to hear it. Otherwise, you walk away feeling worse. All people need and want to be heard and have their feelings acknowledged. 

After I dropped Mallory off at school, I texted this friend  to thank her for her insight and understanding.  And the God wink continued when she texted back and said that anyone should understand the situation and that she missed seeing Riley's smiling face on campus.

Whoa. Cue the really ugly cry which I needed to have so very much.  I cried immediately and deeply and the energy moved through for the most part.  It was the right timing. It was divine timing.  It was the right moment, right person to show a bit of compassion for it to flow.

I see a God wink as the holy spirit doing it's thing.  I have learned to attribute these types of interactions as a divine interaction.  I understand the "dance" of the Trinity.  Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  I acknowledge a divine flow.  It's the practice of continually learning to let go, and things will not necessarily happen as I want them to, but my needs are answered in unexpected ways in their own time and I feel a peace for a short time that is indescribable.  And I work again, to let go.  It's a continual progression.

I am so very grateful for that Divine flow and these God winks.

(Another side note: I was able to hear Father Richard Rohr discuss this very topic in New Orleans two weekends ago.  His book is the Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your  Transformation) It was an incredible talk.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Welcome Home True Self by Joyce Rupp

In preparing for the Joyce Rupp book study I facilitated in the fall I found this beauty that she wrote.  I have found that this type of spiritual poetry is a balm to my soul.  This one is so very truthful of my journey inward.  Hope that it resonates with you as well.

the persistent voice of midlife
wooed and wailed, wept and whined,
nagged like an endless toothache,
seduced like an insistent lover, 
promised a guide to protect me
as I turned intently toward my soul.
as I stood at the door of "Go Deeper"
I heard the ego's howl of resistance,
felt the shivers of my false security
but knew there could be no other way.
inward I traveled, down, down,
drawn further into the truth
than I ever intended to go.
as I moved far and deep and long
eerie things long lain hidden 
jeered at me with shadowy voices,
while love I'd never envisioned
wrapped compassionate ribbons
'round my fearful, anxious heart.
further in I sank, to the depths,
past all my arrogance and confusion,
through all my questions and doubts, 
beyond all I held to be fact.
finally I stood before a new door:
the Hall of Oneness and Freedom.
uncertain and wary, I slowly opened,
discovering a space of welcoming light.
I entered the sacred inner room
where everything sings of Mystery.
no longer could I deny or resist
the decay of clenching control 
and the silent gasps of surrender.
there in that sacred place of my Self
Love of a lasting kind came forth, 
embracing me like a long beloved one
come home for the first time.
much that I thought to be "me"
crept to the corners and died.
in its place a Being named Peace
slipped beside and softly spoke my name:
"Welcome home, True Self,
I've been waiting for you."
---Joyce Rupp

Friday, December 1, 2017

Taking People Off Pedestals

For all of four days, I have been wearing mono vision contact lenses for the first time ever.  I have lost 3 pairs of prescription glasses since 2014.  Something had to give because they are expensive so I'm trying out contacts in a trial period.  It's a new world and my brain is adjusting to seeing up close with my left eye and distance from the right.  I have had a few headaches and my vision is slightly blurry but I know that this could be a really good thing.

I am very squeamish when it comes to eye issues.  But I am plowing ahead and perfecting how to hold the eye open without fail and look directly at my finger while I poke myself in the eye.  And that's the only way it seems to work, is going directly in.

With Sunglasses
Which also means I can't use my regular sunglasses that have readers in them.  I have been trying to use old pairs of George's, the girls, and now a new pair from Target.  Each pair exposes my world in a slightly different hue.  And it seems at this place in time, our South Louisiana trees are changing colors as they very subtlety do. And I have noticed that the red color is much brighter wearing particular pairs of sunglasses.  They are magnificent and bright and flawless.  Even just a touch of yellow to a green tree, can brighten it and make it seem golden.  I love to see a bright red tree.

But what is real?

Just likes these trees, I have had to adjust my vision to see myself, people around me and institutions.  Over the last years, I have had to learn to take people off of pedestals that I placed them on.  They didn't ask to be put on them, they just were.  (In some instances, they might like it though)  Some of these people or institutions had a power over me, which I then had to examine.  I expected perfection from them and from myself. And I was trapped waiting for something that would never happen.  

Without Sunglasses
I had to take the sunglasses off, and see the person or thing for who they are.  I had to look at myself and accept me for who I am, warts and all (and good things I couldn't see.)  I have to hold my eye open and look directly while I poke myself in the eye.  It is uncomfortable and unnerving as I dismantled old belief systems.  When I lost these old systems, I felt rudderless, angry, and discombobulated at times,  but there is such beauty and freedom in acceptance and authenticity.   The divine is there in authenticity or at least that is what I have found, but also what I have read from so many different sources.  Running around trying to be perfect is draining and disappointing and kept me in place not moving forward.  Waiting for people to be whom I wanted them to be, was so disappointing. Accepting what is, allows me to try new things that might actually give me what I was looking for in the first place. The tree without sunglasses may not be as bright, and you see the leaves that have fallen but there is still magnificence.  And in this very moment, I'm just noticing, how bright the sky is, in the picture without sunglasses.  ( I did have to wait for the right lighting though)

Wow, I didn't even plan that. I always thought the sunglass picture was more beautiful because of the brilliant red.  But now with examination,  I see the contrast with the beautiful blue sky instead of dark grey.  The best colors are brought out in authenticity.  The divine is in the very heart of authenticity.  Your light shines the brightest in authenticity.