self-care

Self-Care and its Slippery Shadow

Art by noell oszvald
Art by noell oszvald

When does the self-nurturing act of nesting and withdrawing from the world turn into debilitating isolation?

How does self-care turn into self-sabotage?

When do our once-effective practices for self-care become self-destructive?

When does the sacred pause become a stuckness, viscous and muddy, and seemingly impossible to break out of?

If only there were a clear line we could see, “Ah there it is! This retreating to my bed as soon as humanly possible is starting to feel unhealthy, I better fix this now, before it gets really hard to.” If only there was a definitive marker, a brightly colored delineation, between there and here, where we can see, and know, those practices, those choices and decisions we made in our best interest are no longer serving us.

Sometimes there is. More often, instead, I think, it’s far more subtle, inch by inch, we sink into the mud that once was fertile soil, until one day we look at the circumstances we have created and realize they’re just not working anymore. And we feel stuck in the mud we have created. We’re in the dark and we can’t find the light switch.

We are so wise, so self-protective sometimes, knowing when we need to stop. Knowing when we need to withdraw, to fold inward from the noise of the world, cancel plans, hole up, Netflix and chill for a few weekends in a row.

I’m learning to spot pending burn-out a mile away, and I get into gear to steer away from it with more ease and grace lately. (Yay, me!) I’m developing a knowing for what I need, I’m attentive to myself. My needs. To the clues and the signs.

I change course. I politely cancel plans. I hole up. I withdraw. I nurture and nest. I put on my invisibility cloak.

Yet, where I still find challenge is the knowing when I don’t need it anymore, before my inner retreat and period of rest and respite goes dark, very dark. I fumble around for the light switch. I want to take off the invisibility cloak but its laces around my neck are knotted.

A few years ago, for example, during a chronic pain meltdown, I was exhausted and frustrated and at the end of my rope. “Rest,” my body kept telling me. “Stop.” And I tuned in. I canceled my life and stayed in bed for a month.

Little did I realize, this sedentary prone position physically worked against me, causing more physical pain, causing the intense cycle of misery to last longer than it needed to. Yes, I was right in that I needed to slow down. I needed rest. But I also needed physical therapy and stretching and less bed.

More recently, I’ve done some withdrawing when I decided I would do my best to try and live a sober life nearly two years ago. My dance card hasn’t been quite as full. Parties, frankly, just weren’t as much fun. I made up the story that certain people preferred me lit up like a Christmas tree, a story that might actually be true, and that’s okay. I found out that I wasn’t as social as I thought I was, in fact, enter social anxiety, something I’d never known before. I hated feeling like I had to “fake” having a better time than I was so that people thought I was still cool… silly, I know. Then the second year, it’s gotten way easier to be in the world as a sober person. It’s not a struggle, it’s just the way it is. I’m not just “okay” with it. I love it.

I’ve been realizing it’s okay to leave the party early. It’s okay to even skip it. And I can have hella fun sober now. About a month ago, on a bar rooftop doing karaoke with a bunch of awesome ladies, I remember thinking “Remember this moment. It’s one of the very best moments of your life.” I was lit up like a Christmas tree, but it was pure joy, endorphins, connection, love.

I still have some social anxiety that usually dissipates, and if it doesn’t, I know how to take care of myself. I leave. And in the right environments, with the right people, I’m even engaging and fun.

Having come pretty close to burning out this summer, I withdrew more. Became a homebody. Spent a lot of weekends on the couch, nestled under blankets with my love, getting my head rubbed, and it felt good. I decided it was what I needed. But when it was no longer what I needed, my downtime, my withdrawal from activities and plans and people didn’t just shift into “okay! I’m back!”

First, it needed to go sour. It turned into isolation, loneliness, restlessness, boredom, depression. I was becoming an unpleasant person to live with. Hostile and judgmental. (Poor Matt.) And lots of feeling sorry for myself and the state of my affairs I’d created. I felt like the ugly troll living under the bridge, threatening billy goats from the shadows.

Somewhere I know, there is a middle ground, a happier balance between doing and being, between weekends on the couch and engagement with the world that feeds me well, and sustains me properly, as an ambivert. For me, it can’t be all or nothing. That’s toxic and draining for me, in either direction.

“Figuring ourselves out” is the most challenging assignment, because the questions keep on changing. And so do the answers.

So what do we do? How do we know? How do we choose? It requires a self-intimacy. A self-closeness. We must stay close to the questions, always, in real-time. Because while I don’t claim to have “figured myself out”, (an arrogant claim, as “myself” is fluid, not static.) I do know that I am a rock solid ambivert. I need people. And I need alone time. I need real connection, with myself, AND with others.

And while couch is a lovely thing, too much couch dulls my spirit and diminishes my inner flame.

Today, this week, in fact, I feel the clouds lifting. Hallelujah, I found the light switch, I’ve taken off my invisibility cloak, I am re-engaging and reconnecting and it feels like I’ve been far away, on a long journey. It feels like coming home.

It is a homecoming, and while I don’t need to figure myself out, I promise to stay closer to the questions, to check in more frequently, to see what’s current, what’s needed, what’s new, what’s now.

Because I deserve that kind of attention.

Do Your Mood Swings Have a Message for You?

nong-tinh-gian-du

I’ve been noticing something interesting lately. I’ve been starting out my days on a high vibration, fiercely grateful, mindfully approaching every task with presence, joy… All ooey-gooey and overflowing with love. And I move through my day, completing tasks. Or not. Bouncing around from one priority to another. One diversion to another.

And then, at some point, BAM. I crash. I don’t just crash. I plummet. My mood shifts dramatically. I go from “joyous bearer of light” to “bitch on wheels”. Just like that. Or so it seems.

I look at my sweet Facebook posts from the morning and roll my eyes at myself. I think bad thoughts. I make careless mistakes. I’m stressed and tired and off-kilter.

All that overflowing, ooey-gooey love has coagulated and turned into something much less appetizing, viscous and dry. I am hard and closed and cranky. I dislike. I complain. I judge. I worry. I feel overwhelmed and feral. Not fit for human interaction.

What is this shift? Why does it happen? So suddenly it seems, yet maybe if I look closely, not so sudden at all.

For a while I thought it was a sugar crash. Or a hormonal imbalance. Or demon possession.  But today, I’m realizing it’s something way more subtle and insidious. And really, quite simple…

I haven’t checked in with myself.

All tangled up in the doing, going, creating, replying, forwarding, posting, planning, I’ve wandered away from myself.

It makes perfect sense. I start my day with ritual. I make my coffee. I light candles. I journal. I read. I pray. It’s no wonder I’m full of love and light!

And then, little by little, I disconnect from myself, from Source. I forget to check in. I ignore the desire to stretch. I hold my pee for ridiculous lengths of time.

I’ve decided here and now to take up a new daily practice. A simple practice called stopping. Remember lunch hours? I used to have them in corporate America. I kinda miss those.

I will check in. Ask myself what I want, feel and need. I will tune in, jump off the grid for a few minutes. Refuel.  Start my midday the way I start my morning. Wow. What a concept. And why not?  I heard a woman say to another woman who was complaining about her back-breaking busy schedule… “Wow… Who on earth is responsible for treating you that way? Who’s the tyrant that manages your schedule?” Yes, it was sarcastic. In a loving sort of way.

“You get out of balance because you aren’t listening to your inner life, because you aren’t meeting your challenges of your life with any input from the inside. you haven’t given yourself enough time
to know what you think or feel.”

– Jennifer Louden, “Comfort Secrets for Busy Women”

I’m ready to try something new. To restore my balance midday in order to experience more joy.  And this epiphany I am gifted with when I stop to check in with myself.

What shifts or changes are you ready to make? What truth is waiting for you, if you simply check in with yourself?

What if during your next mood swing, you took it as a message from your soul to check in with yourself, to step aside, stop, recalibrate, reset, turn inward?

I’m off to restore and renew now… See you on the other side of my day. Most likely, in a much better mood.

 

 

A Real Pain in the Ass

ASS-PAINI woke up this Tuesday morning, stepped out of bed, and within my first couple steps, I was staggering in breath-taking pain. WTF. Sharp, intense, shooting up my back and down my leg, and centralized in my ass, right side, this pain has made a rude and unexpected appearance back in my life.

I am immediately filled with anger, resistance.

NOT NOW. NOT welcome. NOT okay. TOO BUSY. Too much going on. I immediately began my hip and back stretches, Matt helping me, though it hurt like hell and some stretches literally were impossible.

May I repeat, WTF.

See, this sciatica and I have a long history together, but so much time had passed, three or four years, and while I am always in some level of daily pain and soreness in my back and hips, not like this.

NOPE. I’m not having it. I resisted. I complained. I argued. I felt disappointed in my body.

Here’s the worst part. I felt betrayed by my body. As you may know, body acceptance, embodiment practices, body awareness, they’ve been my thing lately, and me and my body, we have a love affair going on. So more WTFs. I’m not pleased with this, not one bit.

All day Tuesday, all day Wednesday, going through the whys, through the questions, What have I done to bring this on? Why now? What’s the lesson? What’s the message? WHY? WHY? WHY?

Thinking of my calendar, my life ahead, remembering how a few years ago, this situation was chronic, for many, many months, and it shut my whole life down, so now, I’m scared on top of everything else. The implications. I can’t stop working. Fear, anger and disappointment, more resistance, all creating a mad, spiraling tail spin.

And then one of my dearest friends, my truth-telling sister Angela chats me up on Facebook. I tell her I might need to cancel her birthday date night tomorrow. It’s too painful to sit, drive, stand, move. She sympathizes, gives me love, asks what she can do and encourages me to ask for prayers and healing energy from my support system. (I’m asking for them now, please. Whatever you’re into, whatever you believe in, I’ll take whatever you can spare!)

Then, she helps me remember how futile resistance is, and how surrender is always a better choice. As a7LdaP9Fzr-8stubborn as I am, as difficult surrender can feel at times, it’s always the best choice. Because here I am, in a vicious, unexpected pain cycle. YOU ARE HERE, the mall map of my life would point with a big red X, right here, in this pain.

Today, in my morning reading of “A Year of Conscious Living” daily meditations book by Gay Hendricks, wouldn’t you know it? The entry for today is about physical pain. About resisting and surrendering, and I’m stunned. I feel held, seen, cared for by the Divine. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Shaking my head at divine perfection and the way we get what we need, exactly when we need it, I read these words…

“I know what to do now. Stop resisting the pain. Flow with it instead of fighting or fleeing from it. Just breathe. Just flow.”

And now, I remind myself, I don’t have to know “WHY.” I can just be with what is.

I have two choices here. I can focus my energy on being with myself, taking care of myself, tending to this uninvited guest like a good host. Or I can resist.

So I treat myself tenderly, giving myself the utmost attention and care. I immediately begin doing the things I’ve learned to do, through trial and error a few years ago. I’ve earned this wisdom through pain. I trust these practices. I do the things that help.  I clear space on my calendar, to make time for rest and recovery, to make a welcoming place for this surprise guest.

I feel the surrender, as it shifts from resistance, and it feels like freedom.

It feels spacious and loving, and I can feel restoration already happening within me.

If there is a lesson for me here, it’s surrender.

If there is a message here, it’s tend to yourself.

There is no need to find fault or blame. My body hasn’t betrayed me. This pain is a set of responses, facts and data, signals. My body is not at fault. She is hurting.

My body is loving me through this. Can I offer her the same?

So with my breath, I return to flow. Even with this pain, I return to my BodyLove Affair. Is this pain an invitation to love my body better? Ohhh… Well then. So shall it be.

I will love my body better.

I will love her through this.

I am on her side.

Hey, Jealousy

jealousy

In my last blog, we talked about the hidden gifts of envy, and I promised to share with you my thoughts on jealousy next time. Next time is here!

Jealousy is one of my least favorite feelings. It can bring out the worst in me.  I also know it comes bearing gifts, when I remember to look for them.

Let’s clarify the difference between envy and jealousy. While both can be equally yucky, envy tells us what we want by pointing at what someone else has or is.

Jealousy is a bit different. Jealousy comes from a sense of feeling threatened, and there are usually three parties involved with jealousy. Here are some examples…

  • Husband hires new assistant. You Facebook-stalked her and she is cute. You suddenly feel uneasy and worry about them spending so much time together at work.
  • Best friend gets new guy, you hardly ever see her anymore, and when you do, he’s usually there, or she’s talking incessantly about him. You feel forgotten and unimportant in her life.
  • Again, you find out that your dad and your sister got together for lunch. You’d sure like to have been invited. It’s always been like that, you’re certain he loves her more.
  • Boyfriend has new job and he is head over heels in love with it. He eats, sleeps and breathes his work, you’ve never seen him so fired up. Except when he first fell in love with you. Would be nice if he was as passionate about you as he is about his job.

Get the idea? As you see in the last example, the three parties don’t even have to be all human. In fact, I’ve heard of (and maybe/maybe not, even personally felt) jealousy over a business, a pet, a car, sports, anything that feels like “there’s less/not enough fill-in the-blank for me.”

What is your fill-in-the-blank? What are you afraid of getting less of?

Could be time, attention, affection, validation, love…  no matter what the details, here’s what jealousy really boils down to. Under the details, stories and reasons, there’s fear.

Jealousy is fear.

Fear of what? Losing who or what you love? Being forgotten? Change? Being unsafe? Being alone? Being unloved? All of the above? You decide. Investigate your jealousy.

And if you dig a little deeper, underneath the fear, you’ll find a core belief that is so common, so prevalent, yet most of us are barely aware of its existence.

The core belief is this: I am not enough.

Here’s a step-by-step process, to put into immediate practice, the next time you feel triggered with feelings of jealousy.

  1. Notice and name.“What is this yucky feeling? Why did I suddenly get bitchy and want to lash out? Oh… I’m feeling jealous.” Locate the feeling in your body. Notice the sensations… “Ah there it is. It feels like a rock in my chest. My face feels hot and my ears are prickly.”
  2. Open. “I know that jealousy is informative. Okay, I’ll open myself up to experiencing something different with this feeling. What gift do you have for me, jealousy?”
  3. Listen. Your jealousy wants to tell you something. Jealousy is fear. What are you afraid of? Identify your fear(s). Then, go deeper. Under the fear, what is a core belief that this fear is rooted in?
  4. Brainstorm. “What can I do today/this week/this month that will help ME feel safer, more grounded, that will plant me in my own enoughness?”
  5. Reach out. If you need to reach out to that person, be specific, own your shit and be direct. “When I hear you talk so much about your new friend, I’m finding myself feeling jealous. I know that’s mine, it’s rooted in a fear that maybe I’m not enough for you. I’m working on that fear, will you help me by reminding me of why you choose to be with me? Sometimes, it’s just really helpful to hear it.” Being direct with our desires and needs requires vulnerability, and it’s not the “easiest” thing to do, but on the other side is deeper intimacy.
  6. Do. Jealousy is rooted in a feeling of being unsafe. You are a safe place for every feeling. What can you do to feel safe? How can you be reassuring friend to yourself? Affirmations like “I am safe. I am enough.” “I will be okay, no matter what.” are helpful and simple and cost nothing to practice daily. Meditate. Talk to a friend. Stand barefoot in the grass to ground with the earth, make a list of all the brave things you’ve accomplished, because you’re capable, smart, you’re enough. Baby yourself. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket and put on sweet music. Nurture yourself.

You are enough. You are always enough. You have no idea how enough you are.

We so often rely on the outside world, external circumstances and other people for our sense of safety, when in actuality, we alone are the safest place.

Yes, we need each other. Yet, when we understand that we, ourselves, are enough, jealousy doesn’t have much power. We know that we are the most reliable, trustworthy, solid and steady sources of safety available, and that nothing can threaten that. Fears lose their charge, because we can trust ourselves to see us through anything.

We will be okay no matter what. Jealousy can lead us home, when we turn to it with tenderness and curiosity.

It can lead us to our enoughness. And returned to our enoughness, we come home, again and again.

So, next time you feel jealousy rearing its head, think this: Jealousy is an invitation to love myself better.

Save some you for you.

Pie
I hate this stupid meme and I’ll tell you why.

Somewhere along the line, we learned that putting ourselves first was bad. Somewhere along the line, we began believing that the needs and wants of others without regard of our own. Somewhere along the line, we gave and we gave and we gave, until one day, we realized, we had nothing left for ourselves.

Moms get the messages perhaps more pervasively. Take the dumb meme above for example. I hate it. Here’s what its saying:

–          A good mother sacrifices her own desires for the desires of others.

–          A good mother willingly misses out on sweetness and pleasure, because she’s a good mother.

–          A good mother will lie to deny her own longings.

–          A good mother matters less than her family matters.

All a bunch of hooey. But it’s not just moms that get this message. We women have been hearing it our whole lives. The mark of a good woman is sacrifice and selflessness. Maybe men get the message, too. I don’t know, as a woman I can only really speak in the context of what I and so many of the women I know and love have shared with me.

I’ve worked with women who cannot even answer the question “what do you want?” because it’s been so long since they’ve considered themselves and their desires. (At least when we FIRST start our work together.)

For the last couple of months, I’ve been sharing with you what I believe to be the biggest, deadliest blocks to our ultimate expression, our joyous radiance.  We’ve discussed a bunch of them, like negative self-talk, shame, blame and old stories.

The final and seventh in this series is what I’m talking about now. Giving it all away.

We are spread too thin. We say yes to things that scream no inside. We obligate ourselves to the point of emptiness. It’s no wonder you don’t have energy to create the life of your dreams. You have saved nothing for yourself. Your resources and reserve are depleted.

It’s time to become self-centered.

Many of you have heard me say “You say self-centered like it’s a bad thing. Well, who else am I supposed to be centered in?”

I’m not saying that a certain amount of sacrifice, generosity and commitment are required by us in our work, our relationships, our families. But what I am saying is the amount and degree to which we extend ourselves is often self-destructive.

When there is no time and energy left in us to tend to our own dreams and desires, we burn out. We become zombies. Walking among the living, but completely disconnected from our own life-force. Like a sack of motion and duty.

Brene Brown in her beautiful book “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” says “Most of us have shame triggers around being perceived as self-indulgent or self-focused. We don’t want our authenticity to be perceived as selfish or narcissistic.”

So we give away all the pieces of pie, metaphorically, and claim we don’t really like pie anyway.

Save some pie for yourself. Count yourself in the slicing and dividing.

Save some YOU for YOU.

And trust me when I say this: When you save some you for you, everyone wins. You’ll find yourself a more present, patient and engaged lover, wife, mother, boss, employee… whatever it is you do in the world, you’ll do it better.

How do you start? How do you go from being spread too thin and others-focused to centered, grounded and a self-care pro?

Like any other change: one choice at a time. It feels uncomfortable at first, I’m not gonna lie. I have coaching clients who have to struggle with some guilt and discomfort just to attend their coaching sessions, as it takes them away from where they think they should be focused, and seems so self-indulgent.

It’s like a muscle. There will be some soreness at first, but eventually it gets stronger.

What choice can you make today? How will you slice your pie?

Boundaries, Baby!

Boundaries1I have a saying about boundaries: You usually don’t know what one is until it’s been crossed.

I have a new boundary that I’d like to declare, based on some recent not-so-pleasant experiences. Without going into details, and keeping in mind that there are two parts to every story, I will give you the condensed version of mine.

I’d been working with an individual for the last few months on some important projects. He has thing called “his way” that seems to be justified by the people in his circle…“Oh that’s just his way,”  a euphemism that was somehow supposed to excuse his behavior.

I found his communication style unpleasant, completely lacking in warmth or kindness, even rude.

I felt uncomfortable approaching him with any questions, his responses were always short and curt, I didn’t like the way I felt, when I was dealing with him.

I am a huge proponent of kindness as a business skill.

I believe that the two seconds it takes to type a “hello” or a “thanks!” is worth more than some people realize.

I also believe that I get to choose who I work with and who I don’t.

I respect myself enough to not align with people who have shitty attitudes. Just that simple.

My fiancé and I had a great discussion recently, where he inspired me to create a business boundary around mutual respect and kindness.

As the creator of my destiny, and my business, I don’t need or want to do business (or anything, for that matter) with someone who is not going to treat me with the same respect and kindness I extend.

I know people are drawn into our lives for a reason. He has definitely been a teacher, revealing to me a new standard, a new criteria for anyone I align with: Simple kindness. Reciprocal respect. Warmth.

Yes, I only want to work with warm, kind people.

It feels good to declare this, and I hope you will consider your life, your interactions, your tolerances. What are you done with? What are you ready to declare? Is there a new boundary coming forth that you will commit to, today?

It’s always a little scary to draw a line, to close a door. Especially for recovering people-pleasers like me. But I trust in a universe that responds to my acts of self-respect. And I know that this shift will create a ripple effect that will attract people into my life and my business that I enjoy working with.

It is not too much to ask to enjoy working with the people I work with. I am the CEO of my life. I love and respect myself enough to choose with care.

I decide who gets in and who doesn’t and I am the boss of me.

That might mean I need to sever relationships that feel ugly and unrewarding.

I’m proud to say I’m okay with that.

 

Throw Out Your Raggedy Underwear!

… And other ways to feel sexier, right MEOW.

My 99 cent makeover!
My 99 cent makeover!
Frumpiness…
It happens to all of us. One of the first things I tell students when they come to my Unleash Your Inner Bombshell workshop is that none of us feels like a bombshell all the time. Even Marilyn Monroe, the bombshell of bombshells knew her “bombshell self” (Marilyn) was something she (Norma Jean) could turn on and off; it came and went. This is real life, after all.
In fact, it’s safer to say, as a work-from-home entrepreneur who spends most of her time sans makeup, in yoga pants, it’s more common that I feel… comfortable.
And when comfortable, it’s quite easy for me to fall into frumpiness. And it’s a strange coincidence, when I’m feeling frumpy, I’m also likely to be feeling funky.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Yes, self-esteem is an inside job. No, your appearance does not determine your worth.
I work hard on cultivating my inner world… But I will make no apologies for being a sensual, feminine woman, who enjoys lipstick, lingerie, and smelling pretty.
We cannot deny there is a direct and strong connection here: When we take the time to take care of our outer appearance, we feel better on the inside. Yet, when we get comfortable, we can get lazy, and when we get lazy, we succumb to the frumps.
These are the most common excuses women give me for letting their physical care go, and quitting on themselves, when it comes to the care, adornment and decorating of their temples…
  1. I don’t have the money. To that I say: Phooey! I just bought a 93 cent lipstick, “Retro Red” fact, and put it on in the parking lot, while running errands. And just like that, I felt more alive, more magnetic… more me. That’s me in my Retro Red up there in that picture, check it. It’s the only makeup I’m wearing and it had an instant effect on me.
  2. I’m too old. You are never too old to enjoy being a woman.
  3. I’m too busy. It takes ten seconds to apply lipstick. It takes ten seconds to put on a lacy pair or pretty panties. Next!
  4. No one (but the kids… the pets… the walls…) will see, so why bother? YOU will see. You will know. But mostly, you will feel.
I tell you these things because I love you. And because I get it.
I’d been feeling so unattractive lately. And guess what? I haven’t been bothering with makeup. With pretty undergarments. With keeping up with my grey roots. You should SEE the raggedy old strapless bra I’d been wearing because I hadn’t made the effort to find new ones. (Why is finding strapless bras that fit well so daunting?)
I get lazy. I forget how good it feels to feel sexy, just for me. Not for sexy-time, not for the world, not for my partner. Just for me.
So today, I treated myself to some lovely new panties, nothing crazy expensive, just enough to give me a little thrill. I’m wearing the yellow lace ones now. They make me happy and feel like a wearing a secret smile. I put on some lipstick. I’m about to go dye these crazy roots. I finally threw out the raggedy strapless bra! I’m doing little things to feel better, because how I look on the outside DOES affect the inside. And vice versa of course.
I’m in charge! I no longer hand over responsibility for how I feel about myself to others. But that… comes with responsibility.
I’m worth it. So are you.
Married or single, sexually active or not, young, old or somewhere in between, you are worth the effort. You deserve to feel good. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to take up too much of your time. It doesn’t have to be extravagant.
Do what makes you feel good.
Here are four things you can do today to immediately feel lovelier:
  • Go through your undergarment drawer and clear out the raggedy panties! Let them go! Sure save a couple of the ratty “granny” panties for that time of the month, if you must… but lose the other nasty old things! I just did.
  • Treat yourself to a 99 cent makeover. Buy yourself a fun, bright, bold cheap lipstick and put it on, right now, I don’t care what you’re doing. To really be adventurous, go outside your normal range of shades… For example, if you say “I never wear pinks,” buy a pink! Wet & Wild is a fun and super cheap way to play with new colors. See if that doesn’t immediately shift things for ya a little. If you have more to spend, spend more! The point is, treat yourself.
  • Put on some sexy music and use it as your background noise while working, cooking, being… and if you’re feeling really adventurous… dance around to it.
  • Do something sensual with your glorious body. Take a skinny dip tonight. Moon bathe naked. Rub yourself with luscious body butter, from your neck to the soles of your feet. Or just rub yourself. Be in your body. Enjoy it.
Experiment. Take a chance. Play. Enjoy the flesh and texture and shape of your body, as it is right now, and the senses you have been gifted with. Revel in the soft, sexy, fleshliness that carries your gorgeous soul around day after day, likely with very little thanks…
What’s the point?
YOU are the point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Never-Ending Conversation: There’s Got to Be Another Weigh

feet-on-scaleI’m going to talk about something I very rarely discuss in this forum. I’m uncomfortable with what’s about to come spilling from my fingertips.

But it’s my reality, and my commitment to you, and to myself, is to stay current with my writing.  To be a faithful member of “the Church of What’s Happening Now” (great song, by the way.)

It was a harsh in-your-face reality check. Renewing my license at the DMV last week, there it was. The employee asked me my current weight. When I said it, she looked at me with an eyebrow raised, comparing it to the weight stated on my expired card, issued six years ago. “Yeah, I’ve gained some weight since last time”, I chuckled nervously.

Six years ago, my weight was twenty-five pounds less than it is now. Over the last few years, I’ve gained and lost and gained and lost, then gained again, this same twenty to twenty-five pounds.

The amusing (or sad, depending on your mood) thing is, the me that was twenty-five pounds lighter hated her body. Wanted to be twenty pounds lighter. Would look at pictures of herself and cringe. Now I look at pictures of her and wish I would have been happy at that weight, that I could be her now. She is my goal weight. And at the time, I just wanted to be smaller.

If you go through my journals over the years, (which I hope you never do, until I’m dead and the anthology is published…) you’ll find that although my life has gone through so many changes, internally and externally, there is that same sad, boring common thread woven throughout the story of my life. Year after year after year, “I feel fat.” “I want to lose weight.” “If I could just lose 10… 15…20… then I could be happy.”

Talking with a bestie over dinner last night, we realized we’ve been having the same conversation for ten years. Even though we’ll talk about dozens of other things too, we somehow always seem to come back to the never-ending conversation. Our weight. Food. Our lack of control or will power. Our endless struggle between choosing what we really want to eat, versus what we are “supposed to be” eating.

And this is a conversation that has been going on for decades, among women  all over western society at thousands of tables, emails, in journals, at coffee, at lunch, in locker rooms, in break rooms, and the cruelest conversations of all: the ones that go on privately, in our heads.

We’re so sick of it, we both agreed.

“If I was to be this size, for the rest of my life, could I love myself? Could I be happy?” I asked. The answer is I am happy… for the most part. I do love myself… most of the time. Until I can’t squeeze into a sexy dress I wore last year. Or until I see a picture of myself and I look eight months pregnant (to myself) or notice that my double chin seems to have grown its own chin. And then my spirit crashes and burns.

I want to be healthy. I want to be happy. But what I absolutely have no interest in is a life of restrictions, deprivation and rules that keep me from savoring the deliciousness and pleasures that life has to offer, including food.  I’m done dieting.

Most diets are cruel forms of self-condemnation and self-distrust.

“Self-condemnation and self-distrust are grievous errors.” spiritual teacher and philosopher of Advaita (Non-dualism), Sri Nisargadatta Majaraj said. “Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of love you bear for your self, all I plead with you is this: make love of your self perfect. Deny yourself nothing.”

I’ve done so much inner and outer work around body-image. I’ve led workshops even, helping other women to heal their body loathing… “Once and for all”…

I’m beginning to realize there is no “Once and for all.” The way of perfect self-love is a path, a path with starts and stops and peaks and valleys, and I am in it, deep in it.

I’ve made a lot of progress. But I’m still having that cursed twenty-pound conversation. How redundant. How boring.

Are you sick of that same conversation? Are you ready for a more loving way? What would your life be like if you made love of yourself perfect.

Those words, so exquisite. I want to “make love of myself perfect.” To love my imperfect self perfectly. And something tells me this perfect love does not include the mean and ugly things I’m still sometimes saying to myself.

This is my new plan.

  • I will minimize the “white stuff” flour, sugar, starch.
  • I will avoid packaged and processed foods and eat mostly whole and clean and nourishing foods.
  • I will eat when I’m hungry, savoring each bite.
  • I will stop when I’m full.
  • When I do indulge in what I used to call a “bad” food, I will eat it slowly, mindfully, savoring each bite.
  • I will move my body daily, in ways that feel good.

Sounds easy enough. I really do think it can be easy. I just have to work at it. Yeah… irony.

The extreme choices, a la “NO WHITE FLOUR!” don’t work for me. In fact any rule that starts with the word NO just makes me want to rebel like a thirteen year old with an attitude problem.

“Deny yourself nothing.”

I will make loving choices. I will be kind to myself. I will savor my food mindfully.

I will strive to make love of myself perfect.

And it will be delicious.

Well hell, it already is.

Questions for a Nasty, Deep-Blue Funk

sadness_03“Lower vibrating emotion is just information.” 
– Colette Baron-Reid

There was a time in my life when I was afraid of every ‘negative’ feeling, when I believed that feelings just ‘happened’ to us, that we were slaves to our thoughts and beliefs, that our job was to just surrender to whatever notion, mood or shitty feeling that set up camp in our consciousness.

While I DO still believe that resistance to our blue, grey or other feelings and moods can get us into trouble, I also believe that we have far more control over our moods, funks and feelings than we want to admit. That we are the boss of our mind, not the other way around, and that our worst, darkest, scariest moods and feelings are little more than messengers. As Collette says in the quote above: information.

So, the next time you find yourself in a nasty, deep-blue funk, ask yourself these questions:

– Do I want to be here?
– Do I need to be here?
– Am I ready to return to the light?

It’s okay if you’re NOT ready. Sometimes the healthiest thing to do with our funks is to roll around in them and feel them and wallow a spell.

Keep in mind, that in some rare situations, a chemical imbalance is the root of funks that stick, no matter what you do, and may best be addressed with a professional. But in most cases, we are far more powerful over our moods than we think, and the funk is there to inform and heal us, to return us home. If you decide that you are ready to get out of the mud, begin to explore the information being offered to you by your funk.

Be aware, the scariest thing about doing this is that the information you discover may apply to areas of your life that you’ve been trying your damnedest to ignore, numb, or distract yourself from.  In fact, it’s likely that the funk IS THE PRODUCT of you trying your damnedest to ignore, numb or distract yourself from something.

The information may look like one or more of these babies…

– I really need to get out of this relationship…
– I am giving way more than I am getting back in this friendship…
– This job is killing me…
– I need to explore these old wounds and heal them once and for all….
– I’ve been sabotaging my success for far too long…
– I’m terrified of intimacy and would rather shut down than be vulnerable.

In other words, this exploration is not for wimps, but neither is a life fully lived. You may choose to explore these issues with a trusted friend, coach or therapist.

Either way, YOU ARE IN CHARGE, and whenever you’re ready, truly ready, to commit to your joy, to bravely approach your demons, to claim sovereignty over your life, and make it beautiful- whenever you’re ready is the perfect time. Really, it is.

The darkness is necessary but the light is always waiting for you.

Because I am Worth It. And So Are You.

How do you know when it’s time to take a break?

The Universe, in its divine wisdom and wicked sense of humor, has many curious ways of leading me to a resting place. Some more dramatic than others. Last year, around this time, a chronic pain situation became a serious, full-blown shut-everything-down-crisis.

Lately, it’s more subtle. I’m having trouble writing. And focusing. I’m feeling overwhelmed much of the time. I’m forgetting deadlines. Weekends go by too fast, and I’m not as excited as I usually am to start a new week. I’m tired.

Last year, my body made the decision for me. I took August off. This year, I’d like to do the same thing, but not because my body says so. Just because I say so.  Because I am worth it. I feel like it will be a way of honoring myself, of refueling and allowing my ground to lay fallow for a while, to clear, to quiet.

One of the biggest challenges of being me is that I love creating, inventing and facilitating so much that I have a hard time stopping. It feels like “my natural state”. But from a quieter, deeper place, I know my natural state is NOT doing, It is being.

While I will still need to get certain things done, in August, I’m going to take a break from blogging, from creating new things, from networking and from most events and duties.

I’m going to give myself time to be fallow. I’m resting.  And over the next two months, I’ll be doing everything I can in preparation, to ensure that I can take a nice juicy break in August.  Because I want August to be my vacation month, each year, from now on. Last August was a crisis response. This August is a proactive act of self-care. I want to recharge. I want to renew. I want to be able to give you the best I can. And If I never stop, if I’m always going, if I’m spread too thin, I just simply can’t do that.

The world will not stop spinning without me. The Universe supports my self-care.

Let’s join forces and commit to our care together. What decision can you make, on behalf of your self-care, this summer? Because you are worth it.

I feel lighter already,