Friday, May 31, 2013

The Power of Now, Showers, & This Morning's Emotional Eating Episode

I want to tell you a story.

It's kind of personal. I woke up today feeling kind of low. During my morning journaling, I kept noticing my thoughts returning to food, my go-to comfort/pleasure/numbing instrument.

(I'm going to share a snapshot of my journal with you - yikes! It's from my writing this morning. I'm a little nervous, because I write in total free-flow stream, no censoring, but... I want to show you that this is so real.)

Now, I was rather proud of my awareness of my thoughts and patterns. But do you know what I did next? (Hmm, I still sound frustrated. It seems I haven't fully accepted and forgiven myself yet...) Instead of looking at my "I Love" poem (should I share?) and taking extra-loving care of myself, giving myself the pleasure and comfort I knew I needed, I went right into my morning emails after I finished writing. I don't think I'm alone in this, but when I'm feeling low and I push down my feelings so that I can "get some work done," it doesn't usually help my inner state.

An hour after breakfast, I manifested my own disappointment, my own "permissioning" - the acting out of my "I already know how this goes." While I didn't eat the whole loaf of bread or nearly that much peanut butter, but I did have both, plus some maple syrup and butter, all eaten as quickly as possible, while standing in the kitchen. I checked out. I went for the mouth pleasure, the comfort.

Immediately after, I was furious with myself. The usual flood of guilt ensued - I knew better and I still went to the kitchen and ate it - I even called myself on it this morning! The sinking disappointment, the disgust towards my body, the shame, the isolation (Who was I going to call and tell? I did this to myself and now I had to deal with the consequences myself...)

So I had a pity party. I cried. I seethed. I decided to get in the shower where I could let it all out and let the hot water wash some of the puffiness out of my eyes.
I can't say exactly what snapped me into awareness, perhaps it was that I'd read a few pages of Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now earlier in the morning, but suddenly, hot water spraying on my head, a voice inside of me said: Nothing is actually wrong in this moment. You are making yourself feel wrong and nothing else. 

I stopped mid-sob and just watched the water run over me. I knew deep down it was true. I was projecting my anger and guilt both backwards and forwards in time, and it was taking me out of the present moment, where nothing was wrong, and, in reality, the water and soap were really quite sensual.

I recognized that this was another pattern of mine. To go down a vortex of negativity about myself when the choice I could have made from the get-go was to accept and process the guilt and anger into the place I arrived at now:

There's no such thing as failure, only feedback. What was I going to choose to learn from this? What was the lesson in this experience? To recognize that I knew what I needed, and that my old habit of prioritizing work and "pushing through" needed to make way over this larger priority of attending to my needs.

I do acknowledge that I am evolving - it took me a lot less time to have my epiphany breakthrough - and the awareness I've been developing about myself have become very astute. Now it's time to enact my response-ability to myself (my ability to respond and care for myself) and next time hope for even earlier intervention. Even breakthrough and evolution happen in baby steps.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Redefining Success: Writing & Playing By Your Own Rules

If you're done with the paradigm of "success" that values money and power - the one that's stressing, burning, and tiring you out - you'll be totally inspired and empowered by this:

"Don’t buy society’s definition of success," Arianna Huffington said. "Because it’s not working for anyone. It’s not working for women, it's not working for men, it's not working for polar bears, it's not working for the cicadas that are apparently about to emerge and swarm us. It's only truly working for those who make pharmaceuticals for stress, diabetes, heart disease, sleeplessness and high blood pressure."

Success has largely been determined by money and power, she explains, but we need a third metric, one based on "well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder, and to give back."

I am all about this! I think Huffington is right on. I'm elated that women with the wisdom, well-being, wonder, and ability to give back are the ones giving commencement speeches in 2013. Women are changing the world. Her ideas and vision for the future are right in alignment with mine.

Here's what the third metric of success means to me:

Well-being - taking exceptional care of ourselves, nourishing and doing what best serves ourselves first so that we may then nourish and serve others', practicing and enriching our sense of worthiness, happiness, belonging, love and safety

Wisdom - tuning into and listening to our intuitive common sense, understanding ourselves in relation to the greater whole, awareness and consciousness of ourselves and our ways of being

Wonder - looking at all facets of life, the world, and ourselves, with fascination, curiosity, gratitude, and humbleness, cultivating our beginner's mind, and a child's openness and joy

Giving Back - standing for and in your Truth, which gives others permission to do the same, being generous with what you have, supporting the causes and people you believe in, putting your energy (money, time, attention) towards the things that feed you back

What else do you see here? What defines success and a successful life to you?

Please join the conversation by commenting below! When we engage with these deeper questions, we begin to create the experience of reality that we want. We CAN write our own rules into the mix.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Are You Too Sensitive? + 5 Ways to Wake Up the Senses that DO Serve You!

Have you been told that you are too sensitive? That you cry too much. That you're so emotional. Get over it. Grow up. Put your big girl panties on. Big boys don't cry.

Did you hear any of that growing up? Or do you say any of those things to yourself even now? It's something all of us are familiar with. Our culture is imbued: emotions and sensitivity are deemed as weak, as feminine, unstable and unpredictable. We're told and taught to stuff our emotions and our emotional/mental/energetic needs down. 

I always felt like I was too sensitive for my own good, and that it was something I needed to overcome.

And so I did my best.... I put on my happy face and then went home and wrote heart-wrenching, angry journal entries almost every day. When the feelings were too uncomfortable, I turned to food, I binged on cereal at night, I'd hand around the snack table at parties to feed my insecurity with comfort and pleasure. If someone did something I didn't like, or that disrespected me, rather than make a scene (even more overstimulation and discomfort), I'd turn the other way and shovel my own needs and feelings under the rug. Now, none of that actually served me. And it didn't make the feelings go away.

This past year I read a fascinating book called The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron. It re-framed a lot of experiences and ideas that I'd had about my own sensitivities, showing me that this innate disposition I've been experiencing is not necessarily a curse. It's simply misunderstood and mis-valued in our culture and society. Being sensitive can be a great gift, when we know what it means for us, and know how to honor and respect our own needs and boundaries (more on this later)!

(Click here is a self-test by author Elaine N. Aron if you'd like to see if you are a highly sensitive person!)

I've found that reawakening and engaging my senses and sensitivity has brought me back into greater appreciation for all the simple things in my life, and for my own intuition!

I want to fully taste, touch, feel, smell, hear, and see my life! I want to be engaged and awake with all of my senses! I'm done with a numb, masked way of being. I want to FEEL again.

5 simple ways to wake up your senses
& tune back into your delicious, rich and powerful sensitivity:

1. Get wind chimes and hang them where you will hear them in times of relative quiet.

2. Go on a Smell Walk around your neighborhood. Really, have you ever? Then try a Sound Walk.

3. Savor your first sips and bites of all of your food with as many senses as possible. Put all of your attention on your food or drink for the first few mouthfuls and see how it changes the whole experience. Look at your food, touch your food, smell your food, slowly chew it long and good before you swallow and take your next bite.

4. Look people in the eyes when you are talking. Sounds simple, but you might find it challenging at first. Or you might find it utterly engaging. Start with people you know and trust. Notice what comes up within you, and what changes in your conversations. Feel free to share with them what you are experimenting with so that you both can play with it and see what you see together.

5. Find an essential oil that you like and begin to wear it. I like to have different ones to associate with different things. Lavender oil is soothing and relaxing, I put it on when I'm starting to wind down and get ready for bed. Jasmine or Ylang Ylang are high-note feminine floral essences that I love to put on when I'm getting dressed up or wanting to feel sensual and embodied (Sage and juniper are great for men, though I love to use them too, when I want to feel powerful and confident.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Quality (Or: Why I Spend So Much $ on Food)

Quality matters big time when it comes to my food. Yes, I'd much rather pay more and eat less. Here's why:

1. It Tastes Better
Fresh, organic, local food tastes better. Period. Tell me you don't like carrots and I'll bring you one from the farmers' market. Hard to believe it's related to those watery little nubs you get in a bag at the grocery store. My secret to making vegetables and meals taste good? Start with ingredients you don't have to cover up. Use ingredients that speak for themselves. Then you're just playing with and enhancing them.

2. I Eat & I Vote
As consumers, we vote with our money. So support your friends not your enemies. Educate yourself. Buy fair trade where it's available. Who do you want to be supporting? Local farmers or Monsanto? Yes, it's easier on the conscience (temporarily, at least) to turn a blind eye to the widespread abuse of animals in our food system (google: CAFO), but is your eating in alignment with your values? Pigs are as intelligent and sensitive as dogs. How do you feel about dog abuse? I mean it. You want a better world for all? If you have the money, put it where your mouth is.

3. Healthy
Trust me, I know all the debates and studies (who's funding those again?) but I also have a pretty intelligent head full of common sense. Organic = no toxic chemicals, more diverse nutrients and antioxidants, responsible farming, healthy environment. This is even more important with animal products. If you are what you eat, so is your bacon. Ever notice how you store bad energy, fear and tension in your body (my shoulders and neck sure do), not to mention toxins, steroids, antibiotics? That is what's in your meat, going into YOUR body, unless you're buying organic, grass-fed, or pasture-raised, ethically-farmed animals.

4. Experience
I'm just not into (over)eating massive quantities of things, it doesn't turn me on. In fact, it makes me feel sluggish, fat, and guilty, and it kills my sex drive, my energy, and my confidence - all things I enjoy very much. Basically, I'd prefer to slowly and consciously savor my wild salmon, asparagus risotto, and chocolate truffles, than eat cheap Chinese takeout with my eyes glued to a TV screen, hardly even tasting what's going into my mouth (well, maybe I'd rather not taste that).

At the core of it all, I opt for quality because it is an expression of who I am and how I want to contribute to this world. How you eat is how you live. On many levels.