Last Friday night, yeah, we danced on tabletops, and we took too many shots, think we kissed but I forgot… Na, just kidding.
Actually, last Friday night I had dinner with a friend at Tarbouch Lebanese Grill and Hookah in Austin. It’s a cozy, friendly, little place hidden off of Oltorf. Great food! The Lebanese coffee is an acquired taste–very strong, clove aftertaste, but I’d likely order it again.
Then we went to the Austin Shambhala Meditation Center to hear Shastri Jeffrey Stevens talk on The Benevolent Weapon: Unfolding the Strength of the Warrior Mind. Okay, you may be thinking that’s a little out there or maybe that sounds like a snooze fest for a Friday night, right? My friend, Kamishia, and I thought it looked interesting and for some time I’ve thought of beginning a daily meditation practice but haven’t successfully implemented one. I am not a follower of Shambhala Buddhism and neither is my friend; however, both of us do feel drawn to aspects of Buddhist teachings in general. The speaker was funny and warm and the talk really helped me to better understand the need for a proper meditation practice with the simple goal of learning to live more in the present, not in the past or dreaming of the future like I’ve been doing.
A number of attendees at the talk who have developed a daily meditation practice spoke on how it has helped them in their daily lives. Most stated that it helped bring clarity, peace of mind, eased suffering and judgment of one’s self and others, helped open the mind to new perspectives, helped those embody a more authentic life, assisted with developing strong self-discipline, and allowed many to see how fluid thoughts are. How they can move through you yet remain separate from your identity. I’m hoping cultivating a daily meditation practice will do the same for me.
I also recently realized that I haven’t been very good at living by my own, inner compass. I’ve allowed my outer environment, experiences and encounters with others to shape me into a person I don’t recognize. I have visions of the untarnished, healthy, confident, attractive, fit, pretty, sweet, sexy, caring, articulate, creative, happy, vibrant, ever-present, adventure-seeking, strong-willed and free-spirited me–The best expression of me. This is the person I need to discover.
Yes, the Universe has been majorly hitting me over the head with regard to extreme life changes I must make. Here’s a link to an interesting article I read today on MindBodyGreen.com: 10 Signs It’s Time For A Major Life Change by Shannon Kaiser. It completely denotes where I’m at and have been for a while. I keep thinking of the caterpillar in metamorphasis. I’m at that place where I want to remain still and quite. Not to refrain from taking action but to listen, analyze and make sound observations and choices that benefit me fully. I want to remain somewhat isolated for a while during this stage of transformation. I think also to continue processing the grief and other emotions of so many things past and present.
I went for coffee with a friend Friday night and we talked for hours about letting go of negative thoughts and habits and subtle shifts in our perspectives that have been happening recently. Things become more and more clear. I’ve built a life void of close family ties and intimate relationships, and mindlessly clung to bad habits that hurt me and material possessions in a blind attempt to mask the lack of those relationships. I’ve believed for so long I only really deserved the bad in life and none of the good. However, love and stability were the things I desired most, things I didn’t have as a child after my mother passed away. So, I bought a cozy little house by the lake, furnishings, adopted several orphaned pets and settled into mundane life with the hope of more. Yet, it’s all been an illusion–A sad illusion. I built a shell for a life that didn’t exist. I settled for this shell of a life not realizing my true worth, inner strength and capabilities. I’m still struggling to realize these things fully, but at least I am realizing them.
I want my transformation to be so magnificient that in a year’s time no one will recognize me. I won’t even recognize me. No, scratch that. Maybe for the first time in a long time, I WILL recognize myself–my authentic self, and not someone mired in self-destructive addictions that are killing me–food, cigarettes, alcohol, material possessions, chaos. Oprah says it best, “to become the highest or most truthful expression of yourself as a human being.” That’s what I’d like to accomplish. Forever striving for this.
It is crazy how life works. This is exactly what I was talking about in my last post. Lo and behold, the below link leads to the featured article today on Tinybuddha.com. Unlike the natural progression and exciting move of an eager college graduate venturing into the world bravely, as written by the author of the below article; in the here and now, my awakening to this epiphany has been wrought with stubborn resistance and need to stay stuck in old habits that cause more damage than serve any real purpose. Over the past couple of years I’ve learned firsthand that if you’re stuck on the wrong path, life will continue to throw you into misery, bad events and rejection. Doors remain closed or sometimes slam in your face because you are seeking people, things and places on the wrong road. The Universe will tell you, subtly or harshly–at times practically bashing you over the head, me anyway. One way or another, no matter how stubborn you may be, life will let you know when you’re off course.
Saying Goodbye to One Adventure Is Saying Hello to Another, by Alexa Peters
I realized this morning that a large part of my grief and depression lately has been based around certain expectations that I had for my life not coming to fruition for whatever reason. The road is far different than the one I thought I’d be traveling down at this point in my life.
I started my bucket list about 5 years back, before all of my crazy, health stuff. Everyone around me keeps saying ‘health issues.’ “I heard you’ve had some health issues.” Health issues?–So polite, or is it? I don’t know why that term bugs me so much. I had cancer, that’s what I had.
I don’t know what will happen with the surgeries, my body, whether I’ll be facing more ‘health’ scares in the future given my BRCA1 status; but I have to start living again, or maybe for the first time. I decided today that while focusing on losing the weight and preparing for my additional surgeries, I’m going to accept this reality and look forward to taking the road less traveled. I need new things to look forward to. Maybe I’ll sell everything and go out and see the world. All I know is it’s time to pull out that old bucket list and start making plans and set new goals for a new life–an unexpected life–and just see where it takes me. Here’s to hoping new adventures await me, far beyond my expectations.
I still have a long way to go, but this is progress. Down another 4 lbs in a week (5 lbs actually since I gained one lb at last week’s weigh-in)–down 15 lbs altogether so far. However, I’ve forgotten my gym clothes today, which I’m really unhappy about! The gym has now become routine for me, and as soon as I get a little off track, it breaks the endurance level I’ve been building up. I’ll have to regain a bit of that back.
I’ve become quite accustomed to my food plan and notice if I eat something outside of it (specifically something bad), even though it may taste somewhat good in the moment (surprisingly not as good as I previously thought), I really feel physically awful afterward. My body screams, “no way!” And I have to say my cravings for breads, pasta, sugary and other bad foods have started to dissipate, almost completely. Every single week, there is some sort of brunch or treat at my office, like breakfast tacos, bagels, kolaches or some sort of desert food. I couldn’t resist these foods before getting on this plan, but now I’m not even bothered by seeing them in the kitchen or break room. Happily, my work has gotten significantly better at bringing in weekly, organic fruits and low calorie snacks. The person who orders has since started buying organic, plain, Greek yogurt on my behalf because it’s on my food plan, which is pretty cool!
I can’t say I’ll ever be cured of my addiction to food. Is anyone ever really cured of an addiction? However, I do feel more in control of it than I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve also recently been reading Tiny Buddha’s Guide to Loving Yourself: 40 Ways to Transform Your Inner Critic and Your Life, by Lori Deschene (founder of www.tinybuddha.com, Simple Wisdom for Complex Lives). The way she felt about herself and her life is so similar to what I have struggled with. She had a different eating disorder than I, but the causes and beliefs are all the same. Disorders all stem from the same place, they just manifest differently for everyone. This book is very insightful and I believe it’s helping me on my path of transformation.
The Little Book of Letting Go, by Hugh Prather and Gerald Jampolsky
A couple of posts back I referred to my transformation as having its setbacks, mainly the depression and grief I’ve been going through recently. But I realized this isn’t a setback at all, it’s a ginormous step forward. Progress can be painful, but worth every moment, otherwise we don’t grow. The pain pushes us to face our demons. We can’t do that while stuck in a numbing state. It’s time to let go of these old demons and take back control of my life. I fully admit I hate this stage of the process as being the hardest, loneliest and most mundane–a lot of time being pensive. It’s fully necessary though. I’ve stated this before. At times, you have to be completely broken down before you can be built back up. It is a process of highs and lows, but maybe that’s the beauty of it. I must be like the caterpillar wrapped in its cocoon in metamorphosis, and know this is the biggest part of my journey. I’m grateful to be aware of this, however hard it may be.
I noted about a recent rejection in my last post. I can’t tell you what a powerful catalyst this has been for me. Truthfully, exactly what I needed! I am grateful for this too. Though I felt the full weight of rejection and it still stings a bit, I realized that maybe I liked the idea of this man more than the real thing. Even though part of me tried, I never would let it go further than just an idea, which could possibly be part of the rejection. But it was a nice idea and in truth kept me going through a majority of all my recent cancer stuff. Maybe that was its only real purpose and now it had to come to a natural conclusion.
[picture taken from www.missouribotanicalgarden.org].
It’s taken me a while to think of a title for this post. I feel like, particularly recently, my head space is in up and down, mostly negative states, but also very revealing–So much clarity. This is where I’m at though. I can’t deny that. This is a massive part of my journey. In fact, the most important part, and I’ve been struggling deeply with this pain. I don’t particularly have any friends named George, but I wanted the title to at least present as a little more positive than the rest of the post, so I decided to give my “emotional pain” a name. George is a good name.
This has been a time of serious grief, sadness and overall pain for me; not just for the major events I’ve just faced, but a lifetime of heartache that I haven’t allowed myself the opportunity to really grieve or work through without tearing myself down in the process. I’ve placed so much shame and unworthiness on myself. Instead of knowing how to parent myself through chaotic events, I allowed a side of me, an enabler, to grow stronger. If it felt bad, my enabler would say, “it’s okay, have that piece of pizza or cheesecake, smoke that cigarette or have those 3 or 4 glasses of wine.” How cunning this enabler became.
I’ve had weight issues most of my life. Although I was a thin and athletic as a child, the weight problems started while my mother was in and out of the hospital going through cancer treatments. I guess I was around 10 or 11 when it became noticeable. I was just a little chubbier than the other girls. I was 12 years old when she died. I remember people bringing casserole after casserole to our house. Our fridge overflowed with them. From out of these events my addiction to food was born. I’ve spiraled between thin and fat (mostly fat) ever since. I don’t think I’ve even recognized myself in a mirror, or in pictures (and those are the worst at giving you a reality check), in 10 or 15 years, maybe more.
Throughout that time more life-altering events occurred–hard, heartbreaking events, and George got fed. George grew stronger and gorged himself whenever possible, and my addiction festered. What a lie, a joke I played on myself for so long. As if food was my comforting friend and my fat a wall of protection from everyone around me. What cruel deceivers.
I suffered what I believed to be a fairly major rejection this past week, but one that I needed to happen, and the timing of it was quite perfect. Honestly, I set myself up for it, likely intentionally. I’ve noticed I tend to do that when things in my life are askew, which is all the time. I basically acted like a complete, desperate jackass. I always created an awkward atmosphere around this particular person, which had more to do with everything I’ve been going through; but, it wasn’t something I ever communicated to him. I know my awkwardness made him uneasy. Luckily, the rejection forcefully knocked me back into reality. Though it was a crushing blow to my fragile ego and amplified George’s existence, it ultimately was the exact thing I needed to push me into recovery. I’m not saying I’m cured or have it all figured out, but for me, the past week or so has meant 10 thousand steps in the right direction–extremely painful, yes, but necessary. Adversity truly is our greatest teacher. Everything in life is Teacher, remember that!