Three Kinds of Business

Are you guys familiar with Byron Katie?  She teaches “The Work”, which is a method of questioning the stressful thoughts that cause us to suffer.

When I found “The Work” in my early twenties, I’d walk for hours through the big trees of western Washington with “Loving What Is” playing on my gigantic walkman.

Katie, as she’s called, is one of a small handful of teachers who have impacted my life and my perspective profoundly.

I was over the moon to attend her workshop last month with my mom.  We had a great time on the six hour drive, drinking in the blue skies and eating cherries from a farm stand.  We arrived at the Omega Institute in high spirits but as we pulled into the parking lot, my stomach dropped into my feet like a broken elevator. Continue reading

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Nothing to Fix, Not Broken

When I was really in the weeds with screwed up eating and body image, I remember how desperate I felt to find someone, anyone, who could say that they had been where I was and found a way through.

I just wanted someone to tell me exactly what to eat and not eat.  As things got worse, I fantasized about being locked up.  I couldn’t be trusted within a ten mile radius of cookies or ice cream or steamed broccoli if that was all that was around.

Part of the trouble was that my beliefs about what it meant to be free of food and body obsession were as rigid and disordered as my behaviors.

When I was twenty, I went to a therapist who disclosed that she herself was in recovery from a history of eating disorders.  I asked what her recovery was like and she shared that she felt really normal about food.  She then said that had emotionally eaten a pint of Ben & Jerry’s a few weeks back and she hadn’t felt bad about it.  She’d gotten to the heart of what was bothering her and moved on.

I was horrified.  I didn’t go back.

Never mind that I was so anxious on my way to the appointment that I had stopped at the donut shop to wolf six donuts and purge in the bathroomI was not about to take advice from someone who ate an entire pint of ice cream.  Ever.

As much as I would have told you(and meant it!)that I would do anything to stop the obsession, the truth was that I wasn’t looking for a way through.

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The Gift of Obsession

big cloud

 

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how food and weight are not the problem.

Food, weight and body obsession can become a problem, for sure, but if we mistake them for the root cause, we are barking up the wrong tree.

Food and weight craziness are an attempt at a solution to the problem of self-abandonment.

Our dilemma is that life, by its very nature, is ever changing and rife with uncertainty.  To be human is to continually have the rug pulled out from under us. There are no guarantees and there is no getting it together.

Instead of looking squarely at the nature of things, we walk around believing that there is something fundamentally wrong with us.

Otherwise, we wouldn’t feel so unhappy, inadequate and disconnected. Otherwise, we would have gotten it together by now.

Obsessing about how to fix the problem of “me” offers temporary relief from the very human experience of wobbliness and insecurity.  Of nothing to hold onto. 

There is no getting it together.  There is no figuring it out.  Life is not a problem to be solved.  You are not a problem to be solved.   Continue reading

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Food and Weight Are Not the Problem

orange flowersI started down this path of coaching with the intention of helping women heal their relationship with food and weight, which is ultimately and always a reflection of one’s relationship to life itself.  When I was stuck beyond stuckness in that particular realm of hell, I promised myself that if I ever found a way through, I would dedicate myself to helping others.

The underlying theme of my work with all of my clients is returning home to oneself, to one’s inner wisdom.

Self-abandonment is certainly not limited to food craziness but if you’re a woman in this culture without any history of food or body “issues”, you’re sort of like a unicorn.  I believe you might be out there but I haven’t run into too many of you yet.

I keep talking with women-powerful, smart, capable, beautiful, spiritual women-who tell me this desire to lose ten pounds spins like a broken record in the back of her mind, nagging and whining.  She hasn’t gone swimming in years because she’d have to put on a bathing suit.

Or maybe she eats “clean” all day without a problem and then finds herself in the kitchen at two in the morning eating bowl after bowl of sugar cereal.  She is consumed by thoughts of what she will eat next and what she will avoid and when and where and how.  She can’t bring herself to wear shorts, even when it’s 90 degrees because she is convinced that everyone would be repulsed by her legs. 

She keeps the running tally in her mind—was she “good” today?  Better make up for those cookies.  Maybe she’s a sugar addict?  Maybe she should go Paleo or vegan or do a juice cleanse…starting tomorrow.

It gets more subtle too—comparing herself to every woman’s ass in line ahead of her at Starbucks, alternating envy and relief.  The persistent belief that something is wrong with her:  shouldn’t have eaten that, shouldn’t wear that, shouldn’t be hungry.  

Does this sound familiar?

You want to eat like a normal person.  You want to feel vibrant and sexy and alive. You want to trust yourself around food.  You don’t want to live in fear of work potlucks and dinner parties.  You want to feel at home in your body.  You want to stop working so fucking hard.

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You Don’t Need More Time

dandelions

Recently, my friend Natalia and I led a conference call on time management for the coaches in training with CCTP.  We are at the mid-way point in the training, where the pressure is on to keep up with reading and assignments while gathering client hours. These women have full lives, many with children and/or full time jobs and grown up responsibilities.  People tend to get a little panicky and overwhelmed about now.

Not enough time.  Not enough time.

It’s a story that is very much supported culturally.  “How are you?”  “Busy!  You?”  “I’m okay…for a Monday.”

We’ve confused productivity with self-worth and are thus locked in a perpetual race against time.  Always behind that eight ball, in a hurry, hopped up on cortisol and adrenaline, another cup of coffee.  Got to keep going.

It’s entirely normal to endure the work week, waiting  to live it up on the weekend.  To live for the weekend and for little pockets of vacation.  (It’s worth considering: is this how you agree to spend your life?)

Not enough time.

This topic is close to my heart because I lived steeped in this scarcity mentality for a loooooong time.  Whatever I was doing, I felt behind.  Should be doing more.  Not enough.  I quite literally could not sit still. Continue reading

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Whatever This Is…

underwater

 

My sister gave birth to a baby boy last night.  He’s a tiny perfect human and this is his first day breathing air.  He looks like a cross between an angel and an old man.

The older I get, it seems, the more astonished I feel by this whole business of being born, and living, and dying.  The baffling, stunning mystery of it all.

“Gabe!”, I say to my own son, “Can you BELIEVE that you grew inside my body?  And now you’re sitting in this kitchen, with this whole life of your own?  I mean, think about that!  What is going on around here?”

He is, understandably, more interested in seeing if he can roast his green bean in the candle’s flame.  He hasn’t been here long enough; he still thinks the grown ups know something about how this whole place works.

As I edge toward thirty-five, which seems solidly adultish, I can say with great confidence that this is not the case.

This being human is such a clumsy endeavor.  Despite my best intentions to stay awake, I am routinely confused, lazy, sleepy, hooked.  I contradict myself. Continue reading

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Looking After Yourself

Tea on table                                                                                                                                                                       Many years ago and many miles from here, I had a wonderful therapist.  Sitting down across from her, when I could drag myself in, was nearly unbearable.  Shame and depression had me in a vice grip and I believed I was stuck, beyond help.  I was desperate for this woman to fix me or scream at me or tell me to leave.  Instead, I could very much feel that she saw me whole, even loved me.

The contrast was excruciating.

Elizabeth could see that I could scarcely hold my seat, so we would walk her dog together.  Side by side and moving, it was easier to find words.  We would walk down to the water and breathe the air.

At some point, she gave me an assignment.  I was to keep my journal nearby and every hour, I was to jot the answers to the following questions: Continue reading

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Thoughts on Eating Disorders: Be the Change

attic windowNote: This post was heavily inspired by this piece by the fabulous Rachel W. Cole.  I hope you’ll read them both.

It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  As one who lived in the vice grip of anorexia and bulimia for over a decade, I’m sometimes amazed that I don’t burst into song every morning at the sheer joy of being free from those chains.

It would be difficult to overstate the torture of addiction, the way it suffocates from within, noxious weed tentacles strangling light, air, joy.

On good days, my best hope was that I could just stop binging and throwing up, stop being insane about food.  I  didn’t know freedom was even an option.  I needed to hear it.

If you or someone you love is suffering, I’m here to tell you that real freedom is possible.  100%.

It will likely require a hundred times more courage and a thousand times more support than you wish it did AND it is available.  It is yours to claim.

Recovery is the central miracle of my life.  And though I only break out in musical theater occasionally, I am very, very grateful.

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Public Service Announcement

 

boardwalk

Photo by Aleksandra Bogulslawska

I want to tell you something.  It’s important.

You are a good person.  Yes, you.

You don’t have to eat clean, meditate, be nicer, work more, work less, be conscious about your spending or your parenting to be good.  You don’t have to work to be worthy.

You don’t have to BE good because you already ARE good.

Goodness is the ground of your being.  

I know some of us got confused about this along the way.  I sure did.

So many women come to me paralyzed by indecision or compulsively trying to figure life out.  They really, really want to do it right.

I understand.  Been there.  Go there.  When we swallow the truth long enough, our intuitive voice gets (whisper voice) very very quiet. Continue reading

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Things

 

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I have wanted a Sara Silvio necklace since I saw my friend Staci wearing one two years ago.  This year it felt exactly right; I bought myself a gorgeous piece, wrapped it up and gifted it to myself on New Year’s Day.

It was a meaningful purchase, Sara’s work carries the divine feminine in a way that feels powerful.  2014 was a big year.  More than any other year, I feel that I have responded to the call of my soul.  I feel more shaky-kneed alive and on purpose than ever and this beautifully crafted adornment, aptly called the “journey” necklace was emblematic of saying yes to mySelf.

I wore it everywhere for a couple of weeks.  And then last week, as I packed to get ready for my trip to California, to help facilitate the next group of CCTP life coaches, I put my hand to my throat and felt immediately sick to my stomach.

Necklace gone.

Gabriel was sweet and sympathetic and looked fervently for at least three minutes before declaring it, sadly, lost forever.  I didn’t give up so fast and looked everywhere and called every place I’d been, sent emails to my coworkers and called to my mother.  St. Anthony was petitioned (he always comes through).  I emailed Sara who graciously said she would offer me half price on a replacement.

I didn’t really want a replacement though, I wanted that necklace, my necklace.

It was not lost on me that Gabe’s bedtime story that night included a parable about a king who was hyper-attached to a particular scroll, which was embossed with magic ink that could only be read under the light of a rare moon.  When the special moon comes and the scroll can be deciphered, it reads:

You only loose what you cling to.”

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