Move your mind, Move your body, Move your soul.
Shame game is on over drive in FaceBook and Instagram worlds. Shocking.
Please remember, Self (and others) that being open to different perspectives encourages our growth and collective evolution. Being open doesn't mean agreeing or being complicit or being wrong or right. Being open means taking a little more into your lens of reality.
It could mean reading/following/listening to people who don't look like you, believe what you believe, of different political persuasion, older or younger, mask wearing or not.
For many years (most of my life), I championed "Being Right." I felt that if I was right, then I was good/accomplished/successful and worthy of love. At one particularly difficult marriage counseling session, our therapist looked at me and asked, "Would you rather be right or open yourself up to feel loved?"
I see the need to be right in members of my family, in my workplace, and on social media. If we let ourselves be wrong - or even simply open to the fact that we *might* be wrong - we could receive a whole new perspective.
Our brain is constantly predicting and sorting our experiences (whether out in the world or inside our bodies) in order to make meaning of our lives, keep us safe, and create order/normalcy. The more we open to wider possibilities, the more concepts we develop, the more our future (perspective) changes.
This is literally true.
It is also true that it's easier to be open (mind) when our internal landscape is working right (nutritious foods, moving the body, and sufficient rest all help in this regard).
And if you feel crappy? Or closed off? The fastest way to re-set that internal landscape is to move your body around. This changes your brains predictions. Second thing you can do? Change your location/environment.
I did this today. I was spiraling down the interweb pathways, reading articles, barraged by emails, feeling "meh." Nearly every day for the last two months, I have taken a walk around my 3 mile block. It's great to move my body, but I felt like today I needed a change of scenery. So I walked somewhere new.
A little thing. A little change-up of my routine. I nearly cried at the beauty I noticed around me. My "after" photo found me positively glowing. I felt giddy and excited.
We can do hard things, as we are often reminded. Sometimes we can do easy things. And it makes all the difference.
A few years ago, I was eating and exercising in a "disordered way." I was so completely cut off from my body. I was living from the neck up. And I found a way to control the seemingly uncontrollable life I was living. Perfectionism is a nice way to say it.
I wrote down everything I ate and drank for almost 3 years. I also wrote down every bit of activity that I achieved. I ran 5 marathons in that time period. I ran so much that I hurt my physical body and my soul. I literally measured and counted not just calories, but how many carrots was I eating? How many almonds?
I am seeing a lot of memes out there about women's fears around eating too much right now. The Quarantine-15. I have also seen what I perceive as peoples' struggles with excessive exercising and/or images of them looking so thin and almost gray. It hits me because I was that. I remember talking with a woman who said she was "afraid" to stop her double-sessions (of working out) because she had just reached the weight she felt was reasonable.
"Is the snack pantry talking to you?" Those were actual words that came out of a yoga/fitness instructors mouth during an online session I took on Friday. I found myself starting to say mean things to me. To ME!! How dare I?!?!?! I have found myself considering writing it all down again. Running even if I don't feel like running. It's just a little push. Just to get me back on track.
Now, maybe that stuff works for you and you are not feeling at-attention right now. If so, cool. But for me? It's a big ole red flag.
Thankfully, I see it as such. I am falling back on the strategies that have worked for me in the past. A regular check-in on how I am feeling physically and emotionally. A sweat sesh that feels right in my body. Ending when I'm done. Asking myself what my body needs right now. Eating nourishing food. Also eating oreos. Reaching out to a trusted friend.
Now, things are different this time around.
I am working at home. I am surrounded by my nuclear family. So many great things about this reality. AND ALSO, I am an introvert surrounded by my nuclear family. As in, all the time. So I have had to update some of my strategies.
When I really need alone time (and I do), I have a fake candle going next to me. It's the signal to my people that I am in my zone. No offense but leave me alone. I have also thrown away the scale. Literally in the bin. Nobody misses it anyway.
I have never actually admitted publicly that I had an eating disorder. I am not saying it for pity. And perhaps I am using this platform because I don't think anyone reads it anyway. But if you are reading it. And if any of this resonates with you, reach out. Fall back on your strategies. Fall back on your support crew. I am here.
It has been more than a month since my last post. I have been writing, but not here. I have been focused on a writing "project" and that has felt good and productive.
Today, though, I am back.
Perhaps it is the full moon energy - the call to release that brings me back to this page.
The grief I am feeling today - and that I have been feeling in waves for the last year - is the grief of the loss of my physical voice. My voice is not (currently) gone completely. It is gravelly, hesitant, sometimes doubled (like blurred vision for the vocal cords).
I have gone to specialists (all claims denied, BTW - another story) and been 'scoped. No answers. I have been put on medications and I have stopped taking said medications. I've been told it's not a tumor. Not my thyroid. But what is it?
My work is predominantly over the phone. And my voice embarrasses me when I speak. I seemingly have no control over the sounds that will emerge. They can be squeaky, gritty, and almost-fine all in the same sentence. I've tried humming, throat chakra cleansing, drinking tea, spoonfuls of honey, cough drops, clearing my throat, singing lying down. Singing, actually sounds pretty good. But it's weird to sing your words all the time.
So I have been avoiding talking. I don't speak up during meetings, workshops, or events because I don't like hearing myself. And too much talking hurts my throat. And that is profoundly sad. The voice in my head still sounds like me. My words on the page - still me.
What am I not giving voice to? Am I energetically strangling myself? I have asked myself these questions. What can I do that I'm not doing?
What is the lesson? What does being voiceless teach me about how I show up in my life? If communication is only 5% verbal, how do I tap into that other 95% in ways that make the world a better place. How do I add value without a physical voice?
Over the weekend I went to a workshop with the incredibly talented Maryann Russell. Her reminder for us was to sit in our heart space - in the feels zone. Stop thinking and simply sit with the emotions. Then respond from that seat. So today I let the lump in my throat escape through tears. I cried and cried. I let it happen. I breathed through it. I recognized the struggle in myself and held me in compassion.
There is nothing more to this story for me today other than that I faced it. I faced the sadness and it didn't swallow me up.
Spoiler Alert: I have no idea.
I don't feel like I'm very good at making friends. I think this is true because I am not good at small talk. I don't like how disingenuous it feels. And sounds. I butcher through phrases about the weather or the upcoming holidays. I hold myself back, often, from saying what is really on my mind.
Sometimes this is a good move.
Lately, though, I've been feeling that sting of loneliness. Of wanting "a friend." Someone who gets me. Someone who I can share all those thoughts with without fear of judgement. Does such a thing exist? I hear judgement all around me. I feel judgement in my own heart.
So. I've been reaching out. Just a little bit at a time. Trying to reach out to people to share a little, to be somewhat vulnerable with them. And here's what I'm learning. They can't save me.
Not that I need saving. I don't know. Sometimes I'm just looking for a friend, you know? Someone to say: "Yeah. Bummer. Wow. I don't know, but you are doing ok! You are making it! You will make it!"
Let me tell you my loneliness story from a couple weeks ago. In a rush of emotion (adrenaline, love, compassion, joy), I decided I wanted to get a group of women together to celebrate the New Moon. The New Moon is ripe with possibilities, creativity, awesomeness. I thought this would be a good chance to reach out, make friends with likeminded soul sisters, and get our manifesting on!
I was so scared. Scared of putting myself out there in this way. Scared because I'd never BEEN to one of these circles before, much less created one and prepared to facilitate one. So I put my thoughts on paper, I did some research, I went to the store and bought flowers and soy candles and sage for clearing the space. And I thought: "Just show up, and the universe will help things fall into place."
And you know what happened?
No one came.
I sat alone in my cirlce. I lit candles and cleared the space. I sat in silent meditation. I let the tears come. I tried to quiet the voice making kind excuses. And I tried to quiet the voice being mean, telling me it's just another reminder that I am unloveable and un-friendable.
I sat as the emotions rose and fell. I worked through the ritual I had planned for the group. I journalled and then spoke my intention into the space. I meditated on my words. And then I went home.
I'm still processing that evening. I am contemplating loneliness. And how we can be there for ourselves. I am proud that I did the ritual, and proud that I let myself be sad and work through it, and not die from the sadness. I also feel that it's a gift to be able to discern "thinking" from reality, and to not make that story - that anecdote - be another proof point in my greatest fear: that I am unloveable.
So here's where I am today. Was I lonely that night? I was sad that no one came. I wanted a witness (or two) to the intentions. And I wanted to feel community around me. I wanted support. I wanted to hear from others. I wanted to share a little of myself with the world.
But was I lonely? No.
While I missed feeling connected with others, I did note a connection within myself. I stayed with me. I showed up.
We are living in a culture of "not enough."
Not pretty enough.
Not smart enough.
Not skinny enough.
Not enough sleep.
Not enough time.
Not enough money.
So naturally, I'm wondering what's up with that?
When did it start?
Some may argue that it has always been. I mean, look at Adam & Eve in the Garden. Talk about lacking from the very beginning! Our cultural foundations (myths and religions) have rooted us in a culture of deficiency. There was always a divide between gods and "mere" mortals.
While I recognize our underpinnings, I still felt called to search. Maybe it is because I hear so many folks (and the voice in my own head) thinking that they aren't enough. That "if only" fill in the blank, they would be happy. They would be ok. They would be loved. The would be worthy of love.
My search led me in two different directions - or maybe hues of the same. The first concept being that of "self esteem" and the second being the beginning of emotional advertising.
A Short History of Self-Esteem
While the first mention of "self-esteem" was delivered in David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature, Vol 2 in the 18th century, the concept was further developed by William James in the late 1800s.
William James then explained the concept of self-esteem as a capacity to develop the self. He said that if one had low expectations and high degrees of success, the person would have higher self esteem than someone with high expectations/low success.
The Baby Boomer generation founded the self-esteem "movement" with leaders Stanley Coppersmith and Nathaniel Branden. In the 1980s, a Californian politician first blamed self-esteem for societal woes such as teenage pregnancy and crime.
In the last decade, researchers and psychologists have questioned whether America's obsession with self-esteem has resulted in increased narcissistic personality disorder and increased rates of depression among our youth.
Feel Good Advertising
While David Hume was waxing philosophical and the industrialization of America in full swing, packaging became "a thing". As a society, we were moving away from locally sourced and purchased items. In fact, 1879 brought us the "folding box" - for cereal!
Mass production meant, well, more products. A lot more. And the we needed to create demand.
And the themes and words used in order to promote demand was around our feelings.
Feel BETTER with this soap, this clothing, this car.
Better than.... what?
I think this is a big piece of the puzzle. Bigger than what? It was also during this time, remember, that we first got television. A chance to see how other families, moms, dads, professionals, pick-a-label got to live in the world.
New definitions of achievement (part of the "self-esteem" equation) and needs (to improve our feelings) were sitting in our living rooms for the first time. Ever.
"Why don't we have what that family has?"
And subliminally, if not overtly we think, "She looks so relaxed. I want that."
Sometimes we don't get the things. Sometimes we do. And sometimes, we get the things, but we don't have the feelings we were trying to buy... What's wrong with me?
Not pretty enough.
Not smart enough.
Not skinny enough.
Not enough sleep.
Not enough time.
Not enough money.
You gotta feel it to heal it.