To Be “Weird” is to Be Real

While watching the sun rise today I met two amazing guys…pretty sure it was spiritually orchestrated by God. One guy shared a song by Jason Mraz called “Sunshine”. We listened to it and shared stories about ourselves as the sun came up. The other guy apologized for being “weird.” We all smiled and agreed how nice it is to be at a place where we are not considered “weird”, but instead appreciated for our unique individuality. He then shared a quote from St. Paul:

“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.” -1 Corinthians 4:3-5

Wow! I was not at all expecting this guy to quote a verse from the Bible. If that’s not God giving me a little message this morning, then I don’t know what else is. Love how He uses people to speak light and love to me in places where I least expect it. I am so grateful for Kripalu and am so grateful for my quiet solo retreats where I can just go within and rediscover who I am and who I’m made to be.

To be weird is to be real. To be weird is to be genuine. To be weird is to be authentic. I love “weird” people!

Check out the song:

@ Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health

Advertisements

Making Wise Mind Decisions

Fear and guilt come from the human part of the psyche called the emotional mind. They incorporate emotion and compassion, but lack logic and reason. They feel overwhelming and urgent and seek immediate gratification. When our decisions come from a place of fear or guilt rather than a place of inner wisdom, then we risk harming ourselves or another human being, therefore disrupting God’s greater plan. Fear and guilt are not love. 

Opinion and judgment come from the human part of the psyche called the reasonable mind. They incorporate logic and reason, but lack emotion and compassion. They feel shameful and critical and cause rejection and divide. When our decisions come from a place of opinion and judgment rather than a place of inner wisdom, then we risk harming ourselves or another human being, therefore disrupting God’s greater plan. Opinion and judgment are not love.

When we bring both the emotional mind and the reasonable mind together, we meet at the heart and encounter wise mind or inner wisdom. True love comes from inner wisdom. Inner wisdom comes from God and God is love.

Learning to Dance in the Rain

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

I used to feel like a victim. I walked through life feeling exhausted and crippled by my own perception of a situation. Exhaustion led me to become vulnerable to darkness. It led me to focus on all the ways I’d been mistreated, misunderstood, rejected or abandoned. It led me to see all the flaws in everyone around me. But as I grew closer to God, I realized that just the opposite is true. The only thing I’m a victim of is God’s mercy, grace and love. I have a Defender on my side and that Defender chose me on purpose to fight these battles. He chose me to walk into these storms because He knows that I can.

We have one life and one universal purpose in this life. Our purpose is simple. It’s to be a speck of light in a whole lot of dark. It’s to be the love in the hate. This does not mean that we should dismiss our feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, or any other yucky feelings. It simply means that we can feel our ugly feelings without becoming crippled by them. It means that we can choose to walk right into a black storm and see it as an opportunity to be the eye; the calm and the light.

Today I choose to be the joy in my storms. I finally learned to dance in the rain and I am free. You can be free too!

The Hardcore Truth About Intuitive Eating and Weight Loss

I started my journey about 4 and a half years ago with intuitive eating. I actually started with Geneen Roth’s work and attended her workshop on Women, Food, and God. I learned a lot about self-compassion at this workshop and was introduced to the idea about being intuitive, eating when you are hungry and stopping when full. Her focus was on mindful eating. Shortly after attending this workshop I discovered Elyse and Evelyn’s book, “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.” So I bought it with the hope that it would reinforce the ideas that Geneen had taught me. Intuitive Eating felt right to me, but did not help me to lose the weight I wanted to lose. It actually helped me to gain more. It allowed me unconditional permission to eat all the foods I had restricted in my life for so long. Those foods were my “binge” foods. My binge foods were foods I was not allowed to have, but eventually caved in and ate because I wanted them so badly and just couldn’t take it anymore. So when I did allow myself to eat them, it became “The Last Supper” mentality and I binged them. As I slowly started allowing these foods back into my life, my brain became confused because I was used to binging on them. I felt like I had no control and could not stop. I gained about 15 lbs that year. I had also just opened private practice and made some other significant changes in my life. So between emotional/stress eating and trying to figure out how to allow these restricted foods back into my life, my brain was simply a mess. I grew discouraged and frustrated and I ended up putting the book away for about a year. My struggle with food became more challenging because for the first time in my life I had learned that there was another way to eating. I had the knowledge because I read the book and attended Geneen’s workshop. My brain was so confused when it came to eating. One part was telling me that I could eat what I wanted and the other part still wanted to restrict, telling me that certain foods were “bad”. I was in the readiness stage of Intuitive Eating, but I just didn’t know it then.

I can remember this one night, about a year and a half after taking Geneen’s class and reading the Intuitive Eating book by Evelyn and Elyse, I laid crying on the bathroom floor, desperate for help, fearing that I would gain more and more weight as each year went on. I had gone on and off a few more diets that year and nothing helped. I just kept slowly putting on more and more weight. I remember praying for God to show me something more as I knew in my heart that a diet was not going to be my answer. About a half hour after pleading with God, I opened my Facebook and scrolled down to find an advertisement for the book “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.” This advertisement was not just for the book, it was actually for the certification program to become an Intuitive Eating Counselor. I clicked on the link and read all of the requirements. I immediately knew that I wanted to study with Elyse and Evelyn, not only to help my clients, but to help myself. I signed up and began the process of becoming a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. I knew deep inside that Intuitive Eating was my answer and I knew that signing up for this commitment would push me to work through it instead of running away from it.

I started exploring and learning more about the principles. I learned that I had met criteria for principle one: reject the diet mentality. I was more than ready to face my fears of gaining more weight and decided once and for all to just do it. I decided that I was going to submit to the program and start listening to my body, even if I gained 20 more pounds. In that moment I decided to let go of the number on the scale and the size of my clothing. I began to let go of all restricted foods. I began to honor my hunger and fullness. But I gained more weight and I was devastated.

I was another year into the program and fully certified. I was 30 lbs overweight and ashamed of myself, yet in my heart I knew I was healthier than I had been when I was a normal weight. My body was not physically healthier, but my mind was. I had gained weight, but I had also gained freedom from restrictive eating and dieting. There were so many times that I wanted to run back to another diet. What kept me focused on the program were the first 4 chapters in the book, specifically the one on the stages of Intuitive Eating. I can remember reading through stage two: the exploration stage. This stage explains to us that as we desensitize our brains to the old patterns and restrictive behaviors, we may overindulge in the foods we used to restrict. We may gain weight, but eventually we would reach a plateau where the weight gain would stop. At first I would binge on the foods I was reintroducing, but that slowed down rather quickly and I just simply ate those restricted foods every day and maybe even a little past full. Now looking back I can see the pattern. I was working through principle one and struggling with most of the other principles. But stage two reminded me that it is okay and that I needed to explore these foods and new behaviors and that I cannot judge how long that process is to last.

For me the exploration stage lasted about 2 years. And it was really scary. Two years feels like a lifetime. There were many doubts in my head and many thoughts of shame as I was sitting up in front of my clients teaching them about how I believed in intuitive eating, yet I knew and still do know in my heart that my body is not at it’s normal body weight like the book says it will end up. I started running small groups teaching Intuitive Eating and sharing my journey through the program. I began to focus on the progress not the perfection of my journey. The progress was that I was free from dieting and my relationship with food was healed completely. I no longer had a love/hate relationship with food. I finally had freedom to love and appreciate all foods with my whole heart. And I was no longer binging my restricted foods. I was no longer overeating them either. Over much time and exploration, I began to hone in on the skills of honoring my hunger, stopping when I am full and eating foods that are satisfying. The satisfying part was a bit of a struggle because for a good couple of years all I wanted were the foods I restricted because they were what satisfied me.

I am obviously being super honest here, knowing that my story may completely deter people from hopping on the Intuitive Eating self-discovery journey. But I promised myself that I would always be truthful to people. I do not believe in candy coating things. Intuitive Eating has been the hardest thing I’ve ever followed through with. And for 4 years, the reward was mental, not physical. But looking back, I can see that it was the mental part of me that needed healing first. This is not the same for everyone. Some people get the physical first, some people the emotional and some the mental.

I am happy to say that this past summer I had another Intuitive Eating “ah ha” moment. I was teaching an intensive 11 week summer program and when we got to principle 7: Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. It hit me that this is where I was stuck and this is exactly why I was still overweight. I started keeping a food diary for a few weeks. Sometimes it was just a mental note. Point being that I put my mind to being self-aware of when I was eating, what I was eating and why. I became extremely mindful and payed attention to my hunger and fullness. The “ah ha” moment came when I noticed the pattern that I was eating every single night, especially nights after work. As I came home from work, kids practices and games, etc, I would immediately go to the fridge or cupboards and eat something. Sometimes I was stressed and sometimes I wasn’t. The food choices were not “bad” and they were not “too much”, but the reason behind my eating was not hunger, it was stress and habit. And the foods I was choosing were foods that numb emotions. This helped me to realize that I had a stress problem, not a food problem. Now that I could recognize the pattern, I put my mind to not using food to cope. It was very difficult and I remember going back to the group I was teaching and sharing with them that I was only able to make it through two nights straight, then on the third night I just couldn’t take it anymore and would stress eat. But I kept noticing and being compassionate with myself and two nights, turned into three, then four then five. Now a side note is that in the month of August I rung up a rather large credit card bill, but was not stress eating as much. You see, I numbed out with shopping instead. I quickly noticed this pattern and decided to incorporate some relaxation techniques into my evening. I also assessed my workload at home, work and personal and set some boundaries. I also noticed that transitioning home and upstairs to the shower and bed were difficult for me. I was tired and just wanted to go straight to comfort. Anyhow, there are a number of things I have implemented into my nightly routine and I am happy to say that while this is rather the newest part of my journey, my clothes are looser and my body shape and size is noticeably different from just 6-7 weeks of managing my stress and not using food to cope. I am putting my energy into this principle right now and really being mindful of my feelings and patterns and utilizing a multitude of coping skills and setting boundaries. I am also staying true to my Intuitive Eating journey and mindfully making sure that weight loss and numbers are not my focus. There is no number goal or even expectation of where this journey will lead to. My hope continues to be freedom and peace.

Here is my point to this very long story. Intuitive Eating is a process that takes time. There are 10 principles and I had 35+ years of behavior and patterns to undo. I have been practicing Intuitive Eating for about 4-5 years now and very slowly I have watched my brain patterns and my behaviors change. I cannot diet anymore. It’s like my mind doesn’t know how to do it. My brain would have to relearn it all. My brain has rewired itself to practice honoring my hunger, stopping when I am full, honoring my satisfaction, honoring my exercise, etc. And finally, I am in the exploration stage of honoring my feelings without using food, shopping, etc. I am being compassionate with myself by reminding myself that I could be in this stage for the next year of my life. I am super excited that the physical is finally starting to be healed.

My best advice to you. Stay with it. It does work. It is a long-term process, but the reward is a long-term change. You will never go back to your old ways because your brain literally changes neuropathways. Going back would take just the amount of work that it takes to relearn how to be intuitive. Continue to learn and explore this program one day at a time, one principle at a time and one stage at a time. You will go through the 5 stages with each principle. Be mindful of your expectations of yourself and of this program. Remember that the first stage is readiness, the second is exploration. You cannot get to crystallization without going through the first two stages. It is scary. It is humbling. It is spiritual. Most of all, it is worth every single struggle I’ve had to go through to get to where I am today. If I can do it, then you too can do it!

To Believe or Not to Believe

This morning I got to share my faith with another human being. An opportunity within our work together allowed me to share these words. I asked for wisdom and courage and this is what came out. I share here that maybe it will resonate with someone else.

“The spiritual self-care. This is one of my favorite topics to talk with people about. I will share a little of my story here and you can take what resonates with you and feel free to dig deeper.

I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school 1st-8th grade. I was brought up with a faith in God, His Son and the Holy Spirit. But growing up I did not understand this faith because it was confusing as all hell. All I felt I was taught was to know all the things I should and should not do. And I was taught that God sees all and will punish me if I “sin”. Again, I had no idea what the heck that meant, so I learned to associate God with fear and shame.

But I remember as a child feeling God and knowing that what I was being taught contradicted the feeling I felt in my body and in my mind and in my soul. I remember questioning many parts of what I was being taught. I remember wanting to explore my faith deeper. But I was afraid and did not have the support. Most people thought it was crazy that I even cared.

So I went about my life without exploring this part of me. In my twenties I sought out therapy after almost dying from alcohol poisoning on my 21st birthday. Between counseling and my college classes in dysfunctional family therapy I came to learn that I was an “adult child”. So I started going to ALANON which is for family members of addicts. It was there that I began to rediscover God as my “Higher Power”. I studied the steps and grew to understand God in a much different way, as someone who could help me by leading and guiding me if I learned how to let go of the control I was trying to have over my life.

In my thirties I went through a huge mental breakdown and will not go into all the details because it is written in a book that you are welcome to read if you want (RENEWED: A Mind, Body, Spirit Approach to Self-Renewal). But anyhow, after this breakdown I began to turn to God even more and realized that the church I was attending was not where I belonged. I decided to explore churches because I wanted to get more involved and also wanted my children to know God. We found a non-denomenational church that we have been going to ever since and it has changed my life and my relationship with God completely.

I’m not saying your answer to life is to find a church, but I am saying that a huge piece to the healing puzzle is finding yourself spiritually. I do not believe all of our paths are the same, but I do believe that we all have a Higher Power that tries to guide us. I believe that God brings people onto my path for me to help with the gifts He has given me. I believe that my eating disorder was not a punishment or something God gave to me, but something God uses to help others and teach others about through me. I believe that God can guide you and has given you many gifts that He can help you to use to and pour into others.

I choose to call my Higher Power God. Maybe it’s because I grew up calling Him God. And to me that is okay. I believe God gave us nature as a gift and I feel closest to God when I am in nature. I see God in people sometimes, certainly not all of the time. I am grateful that I stepped out of my comfort zone and dug deeper into exploring my beliefs and my faith. I now have a relationship with God. I do go to church because I love connecting with God in this way and I learn a lot from it, but today I understand that churches are people and people are human. People are incredibly flawed. And even God’s church will hurt, reject and disappoint.

I share this with you not to convert you to believe in God or anything like that, but more because I want to challenge you to explore your spiritual beliefs. What do you know about God? Have you ever felt His presence? What keeps you from exploring your spirituality? I know mine was due to being hurt many times in a church and by people who claimed to follow God. Do you talk to God, and if not, would you ever ask Him to reveal Himself to you so you can learn about Him for yourself?

Anyhow, I am hoping this is okay that I shared this with you, but as I said, the spiritual self-care has become the biggest part of my healing journey and I find it the most exciting to talk about. I will be praying that you find yourself spiritually because it is awesome!!”

Pressing the Reset Button Now

From the minute I pulled into the parking lot, I could feel you near. I can hear your voice and I can feel your embrace. It’s like it’s just me and you this weekend; like I am your only focus. Being present, connecting with your Spirit in such a deep and powerful way. The silence and the beauty make it easy to hear you, feel you and see you; they make it easy to know you are here. No hair, no make up, no need to look or be a certain way. I am free to just be. My only goal these next 48 hours is to be with you. I embrace it fully. And in turn, I feel a sense of love, peace and safety that I cannot feel outside of here. I watch and listen as you go deeper into the depths of my soul, restoring me to the core. Change me. Heal me. Renew my spirit. I am yours and you are mine.

@kripalucenterforyogaandhealth

#takingtimetobreathe #reset #weekendwithgod

The Journey to Inner Wisdom

I love the challenge of a new climb; the beginning of a new journey.

I got in my car today with the intention of connecting with God through the sights, sounds and smells of this fresh winter blanket of snow. I was longing to explore my inner self in search of deeper meaning, new wisdom and more answers. After going back and forth, it becomes clear to me that I am to travel a new path today; a trail I’ve never been to. And I love the challenge. I love the excitement I feel in seeing something new for the first time. A fresh snow, a new trail, a new sight. It’s like God painted this picture just for me today.

After making my decision, I get into my car and drive to my destination. I pull into the parking area. It’s empty. Fear begins to creep in and I ask myself…Should I be here alone; all by myself? I hear my loved ones in my head telling me it’s dangerous, begging me not to go out there alone. But something inside of me pulls me deeper into the unknown; I want to see more. I want to explore.

I step out of my Jeep and put on my gear, take out my GPS and head out to the trail. There’s that fear again and I begin to question myself once more.

Will this trail be marked or will it be covered with new snow? Will I find my way or will I get lost? Will I get attacked by a wild animal or worse, a human?

I keep walking towards the woods.

As I continue to move forward I see a tall, slender, old woman in the trail walking toward me. The sun is glimmering over her and the reflection from the snow is like diamonds around her face. She is beautiful! I say hello and she smiles and says hi. She has to be at least 80 years old. I tell her it’s my first time and she tells me how much I’m going to enjoy the trail. We say goodbye and continue on our separate ways.

As I begin my journey to the top, I now have a clear path. This woman’s footprints guide my steps and I can see so clear where I need to go. The fear is gone and I say to myself, “If that 80 year old woman can do this alone, then so can I.” It is then that I realize…

The journey I am on is life.

The search is for wisdom.

The fear is the unknown.

And the answer….

It’s the peace and freedom in knowing that I am never alone.

I don’t know where that woman came from as there are no other cars in the parking lot this morning. And there is nothing for miles down the road. I don’t know where she is going as when I turned to look for her, she was gone. What I do know is that she was my reminder today that I do not ever have to be afraid because I am never alone.

Fear nothing.

Embrace the journey.

Grow in wisdom.

You are never alone.

Joshua 1:9

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”