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Month: February 2015

The ME Incentive

Utmost incentive for outer transformations is inner change. Altering the body summons internal renovations within the mind, heart, and way of being. Life purpose translates into these new avenues. Directionals waver in the wind of change, implementing a different destiny unfolding. Establishing a “right” path, the one intended since birth, seems suddenly conscious to breathe itself, hidden initially beneath the weight, insecurities, and uncertainties. Who we are reveals itself with immediate intention, concrete dimension, and required actions. Hence, becoming who we were meant to be may be the greatest incentive for change.

Many grapple with discovering life’s path and purpose, unclear of the road destined. Swishing and swashing hesitantly, fearfully, and unknowingly through the muck of wrong actions lead to dead ends. Exploration and delving through archives and stories we tell ourselves, travelling along detours deterred from central purpose, and aiming but not reaching our sole contribution in life, puzzle, confuse, and foil the masses, spinning wheels and awaiting clarity. Obstacles, excuses, and reasons not to follow innate passion swirl repeatedly like a dog chasing its tail, preventing new direction that leads to life’s intended path.

Uncovering the layers physically like peeling an onion reveal the core, its agenda and authentic self. With life purpose exposed, revealing destiny, nakedly aware of the journey ahead, certainty, love, and gratitude replace indecision, fear, and forsaking internal gifts intended to enhance the world. As I forgive, unleash, and relinquish my demons and exterior cushion, embrace my God-given gifts, I soar with a freedom unfelt, unrealized, and unreachable until now. Filled by purpose, love, and direction, I am whole. Finding myself within the void, the emptiness, and in the missing piece I protected, needs no guard, mask, or fillers as food, fat, or fluff. The “me” I am meant to be, flies like an eagle, soars free, finds its calling, and reaches for a limitless sky.

Motivation for transformation is discovering the ME within, inner truth heard, authenticity exposed, and old wounds healed. Filling the void, eliminating external protection is a healing process for finding life purpose. Without uncovering the core, the insides find incentive to remain hidden, unrevealed, and continue to search for meaning, unknowingly filling a void with alternatives. Healing the brokenness, sealing the shards that cut deeply, and relieving the wounds are the foreground for freedom from the past, enabling the future to unfold with limitless possibility. Finding meaning in our lives is a healing step away, illuminating the ME within and waiting to be weaned from captivity. Incentive to transform, accessing the authentic self, allows destiny to take flight.

Vanity Vanishing

Believing oneself average-looking is widespread while growing up in a world-watching, hollywood-highlighted, magazine-modeled America. Vanity runs rampant, causing most to question their physical magnificence. Being the ugly duckling is congruent with feeling ordinary. Janis Ian’s lyrics chime true, “I learned the truth at seventeen, that love was meant for beauty queens … and ugly duckling girls like me.” Equating physical beauty to accessing love brings fantasies and fairy tales to reality. The “Plain Jane” population struggles along a path of feeling average, unspectacular, and “extra ordinary.”

The subjective nature of beauty navigates toward objective belief into what constitutes beauty, with energy that perpetuates these perceptions. Combine feeling ugly with self-loathing by slim self confidence, lack of unconditional love, and an increased waist size, and a lifetime story of being “extra ordinary” commences. Gravity towards physical beauty weighs down the masses whose internal attractiveness sits dormant, unrecognized, and unaccessed. Altering these perceptions initiates healthy healing.

When beauty sits within the vision we have of ourselves, it occupies all crevices of our being. Knowing one’s true beauty deletes a “Plain Jane” mentality; one’s magnificence shines from the heart. Accessing the recesses of self-love beautifies our total being and vanity vanishes. Therefore, beauty is no longer the beast or burden that beautifies the world, but a self-held belief that occupies the soul. Knowing one’s inner and outer beauty is the source of love, the access to extraordinary, and the ticket to vanity vanishing.

Going George Costanza

Doing the radical alternative seems sensible when choices lose effectiveness. A return from vacation, limited food supply and preparation, and a rebellious reaction to an “eat more” message from my mentor has given me pause to question my gut instinct. “Eating down the pantry and freezer,” a way of eating food stored for considerable time has resulted, a George Costanza “opposite” approach. The theory of altering food selections, varying exercise routines, and changing daily routines, releases the rut of a weight plateau, jarring the body to readjust from its comfort zone.

Avoiding perceived risk has not proved effective lately. Clean food and exercise remain, yet daringly different choices take the stage. Frozen spinach tucked away in the deep freeze of the freezer, boot camp class exchanged for cardio interval training, and vacation-swapped stress for peace, challenge the norms. Paleo waffles on the verge of freezer burn reach the surface for consumption. Thawing highlander beef, wild boar, and organic chicken sausage emerge. The lonely, dusty treadmill awaits movement.

Playing it safe resulted in a 0.4 pound loss this week, the same 0.4 pounds I gained last week. The scales of justice have been out of favor in the past five weeks, wreaking havoc psychologically. Questioning my process establishes new action. Swinging high calories to low, alternating carbohydrate levels, and jump starting the heart rate with sprints, push me to walk the line, live on the edge, take control where uncontrollable rules. Does slow and steady win the race? Could highlighting the “should not’s,” and taking action support momentum? Applying new principles by playing a new game may catapult results. The worst and best that happens is nothing or something. Nothing changes physically, or everything changes in the reverse direction.

Questioning status quo is innately my protocol. My success contains years of challenging norms, raising havoc upon the “usual,” and raising an eyebrow toward societal rules. By considering an alternative, I option in a different path to my goals. Safe, expected, and perfected routes have lost optimization. The law of diminishing returns states that when one variable increases, there is a point when the marginal increase in output begins to decrease, holding all other inputs constant. Therefore, if I continue to do what I have always done and assume my results will be constant, I have erred greatly. Eventually when maximum results are achieved, they start to diminish. Changing the unvaried inputs is necessary for new optimization.

Going George Costanza is necessary action to shake the scale, eliminate perfection of the macro numbers, and thwart the psychological and physical stagnation. Justifying change, altering paths, while staying true to clean eating, is not making up new rules; it is embracing the parameters and stirring the settled pot. By reallocating choices that deny the usual reaction, success is possible. Change the habitual approach. Consider the default behavior; attempt the opposite. Surprise the predictable with new results. Change is only a thought and leap outside of the box. Jump ship and results appear; drowning is not an option. Yet if you do not walk the plank, you will never see what is in the water.

Flatlining

You awaken to realize results are slower than anticipated, moving at an unremarkable rate of zero to a half pound per week. Hope rises weekly, only to fall short of expectations. A flatlining, the stagnant momentum, and the deadened journey approach central station far from the final destination. No longer able to take the bullet train to the intended juncture, you exit the railway car lost, tattered, worn, and in search of direction. At a crossroads, wandering aimlessly while still towing the line of faith, persistence, and burning desire to reach the intended target, you stagger forward intuitively knowing the path.

As a perpetual student, fatigued by the process of documenting each morsel, prepping for all occasions, and helping others leap hurdles toward health and healing, courage is deeply tested. Weight upon my shoulders slouches my posture, yet I heave forward with every breath, eliminate the past, and lurch further in the direction of my dreams, present to engage another day. Wanting the dead weight lifted, the fat dissolved, and maintenance to begin, I wade through open waters, certain my destiny lies ahead. Gears twist and turn, plagued by the weight of unwanted pounds; I expect their release, plummeting from a plume of protection and purgatory.

A status quo existence at my current weight correlates with stagnation, inactive duty from “gettin’ it done.” Yet slim progress persists at a tortoise’s pace, while watching hares whisk swiftly by with ease. Weekly I wish for speed, agility, and strength to run faster, dig deeper, and dial down greater numbers. Certainly knowledge, persistence, and desire for change produces momentum, movement, and a magnitude of decreased mass, while dedication, follow-through, and daring greatly in the face of past failures constitute struggles worth victory? Has anything been left undone, an education unfinished, or a derailed dietary need gone undetected?

Within the slow I require sits a pivotal shift. The embedded lifestyle, engrained for these plateau pauses, a vast education of information, a richness received regularly, and the strengthening wisdom, a wealth worth wading through, enrich and ready the mind and body for a healthy lifelong existence. Time to embrace, rehearse, and face adversity during the struggle of transformation and routine practice, enhance long term success. Guidance, grit, and grace on the weight loss road less travelled prevent fatal errors when arriving at the gate of maintenance.

When the heartbeat distinctively flatlines, deadened by the exhaustive process, the imperative jumpstart of the heart pumping blood to the veins of our journey in need of nutrients for the lifelong track ahead is life saving. Jumping from the train early forges detoured, alternate paths collecting rich wisdom and encouraging strength, bravery, and longevity for the final destination. Flatlining is a prerequisite, preventing fatal, flawed, and diminished success. Awakened, my heart beats steadily. Yet skipping a beat every now and then to take a breath for a pause is a flat line worth traveling.

When Libido is Back, Sexy Returns

When weight plummets, the physique transforms and muscles illuminate as fat dissipates. A svelte, sculpted, and strong body arises to the surface, welcoming “sexy” back to the forefront. Acknowledging one’s physical body via increased strength, contours from a caress, and libido peeking from the insides, expressions of touch are undeniable. Suddenly natural desire surfaces and seduces the mind and body to amorously leap into action, need and want satisfaction, and peak with primal performance. As “sexy” flips a switch to the “on” position and burning desire sparks, needing to be lit, we transform to sexier days when physical and emotional connection are in high demand. When “Sexy” returns, the libido shines, sustained by “comfort in one’s skin,” parading the physique for attention, satisfaction, and exhilaration.

Sexual relations have an aptitude to flow continuously. Yet when inner and outer confidence deteriorate, energy diminishes, and sexual priority plummets, libidos may lie dormant. Sexual desire may retract, deteriorate, and disappear by child-rearing and work-related priorities or discomfort in one’s skin from weight gain, exhaustion, and/or hormonal imbalances. Rebounding with weight loss, an energy surplus, and hormonal balance through “clean” food, libido is back and “sexy” returns. As offspring grow, attention reverts back to one’s partner, priorities deepen by increased desire, and sexual rumblings resume. With a shift of what takes precedence, sexual gratification has a thirst that may be quenched.

We, as humans, are hardwired for connection. “To touch can be to give life,” Michelangelo said. The science of touch convincingly proves our basic need to physically connect. Physical starvation deprives us of life’s deepest comforts and joys. Touch is the primary expression of compassion and spreading it. Studies show its foundation of human communication, bonding, and health, signaling safety and trust. Warm touch calms cardiovascular stress, activates the compassion response through the body’s vagus nerve, and simple touch produces oxytocin, “the love hormone.” Research has discovered that touch establishes clear communication between the genders about love, gratitude and compassion, where facial and verbal communication were unable.¹ Since we live in a documented touch-deprived society, reacquainting physically fosters greater well being.

My experience and exposure to “clean” eating, exercise, and reshaping my body encompasses the libido coming back and “sexy” officially returning. With added touch, life’s innate joys are enhanced, embodied, and comforted. Dormant nurturing and physical needs can replenish, restore, and recycle as health transforms externally via priorities and internally as the body readies itself for greater pleasure. An enhanced life needs enriching benefits that replenish the soul physically, mentally, and spiritually. Robust, sexual relations are but one upgrade for a well lived life. When libido is back, “sexy” returns, and all hands are on deck.

 

 

¹Keltner, Dasher. September 29, 2010. Hands on Research: The Science of Touch. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley

Body Souled as Is

Falling in love is a splendid, beautiful, and insurmountable feeling, but falling in love with your body is often deterred by the self-deprecating world of women.  Recognizing, analyzing, and comparing our precious body parts to magazine models and the magnitude of Hollywood mavens is unfair scrutiny. Airbrushed, makeup, hair styling, and obsessive lifestyles to create and maintain the smoothest, fittest, and healthiest-looking contours cannot constitute a fair comparison. By releasing ourselves from the fan fair, surrendering to reality, and reissuing perspectives on what defines beauty, the normal, natural body represents the ultimate physique. Imperative is feeling the love for your body, as is.

The vital basics, breathing, the internal organs, cognition, and the five senses, deserve to feel the love, but typically they function without thought, until something breaks down causing pause for resuscitation, sometimes literally, but mainly figuratively. Appreciating one’s bodily mechanics, walking, running, and functioning in the basic world is a gratitude worth feeling. Loving your body’s abilities through mindfulness requires noticing, attention, and acknowledging thankfulness for all these systems entail.

Beyond the vital internal physical and mental pieces of ourselves, the external, aesthetic, and visual body remains. From hair to face, arms to stomach, and legs to buttocks, we critique our physical traits, determine fine or foul. With careful consideration, we determine beauty or beast, ugly and ostracized, or stunning and celebrated. No matter the circumstance, the eye of the beholder assesses and determines self-beauty. Whether wanting to love or leave, our physical, exterior assets may be enhanced or destroyed by diet and fitness, or perhaps polished or refined by cosmetics, surgery, or elixirs promising to delay, decrease, or disperse the lines of time.

When we observe our image in the mirror, do we reflect with kind reaction, positive emotion, or loving response? Does our reflection empower or deflate our emotional strength? Joyful with our observation, containing pride and comfort within our skin, conjure the inner love correlated to an openhearted, happy existence. Without the love within and an acceptance, appreciation, and gratitude for the external parts, a void continues to plague our existence. This hole exacerbates self-deprecating inner thoughts that hurt our emotional well being.

The body to fall in love with is the one we embody, the God-given one, one sold to us as is. There is no trading up, down, or with others, only natural enhancements by personal treatment, whether good or bad.  Perhaps a fitness journey can unleash its flow, a healthy food lifestyle may unravel the broken down parts and fill the void, but mostly an internal voice must be heard that not only am I okay as I am, but beautiful beyond measure, perfect before any action required. No external transition can change who I am, and therefore, the love within existed all along. Finding this love is the essence of falling in love, completely in body, mind and spirit. Falling in love with your body is falling in love with your soul; they connect as one. You might as well take care of the body you’re with, as in “Love the one you’re with.” Gratitude and love for the one body  you receive is a gift not to be taken lightly, or weighed down. Fall in love with your body and soul; there are no returns. All bodies are souled as is.

 

Memory of a Different Palette

Recollecting past travel experiences, often fond memories contain food related highlights. A warm, freshly cooked waffle cone served at the San Diego Zoo, my initial introduction to whipped cream chocolate mousse at the Coronado Hotel, and cotton candy, popcorn, fried-dough, and ice cream delectable creations at theme parks, all serve up a culinary vision of gorging on the unhealthy as a child. Travelling to these locations again, now occupying an adult body, these tasty memories cast a shadow, recognizing that consuming crap creates a catastrophic result leaving depression, fat, and low self-esteem in their wake.

Yet was it the fantasy-filled memory of food or some other aspect that correlated with the palette? Vacation contains magic that transforms our senses, replenishes the relaxation drought, reintroduces joy where depleted, and exposes our day-to-day to different experiences that spark and jar us away from the settling in of comfort. Happiness can easily wash away when we stay within the comfortable lines of life. Crossing into new territory is necessary to charge deadened, lazy, low energy batteries. Removing ourselves from our environments, taking a different route from any norms, and challenging oneself with new endeavors, help relinquish same-old, same-old, and light fires within our hearts and souls.

Therefore, vacation fits these elements of change, enabling one to experience new horizons with heightened senses. When the taste palette is exposed to novel experiences, even first bites, and last bites of food have a greater excitement consciously or subconsciously. New foods that sweeten the sensations can carry a memory long-term heightened by the awareness of exquisite ecstasy, illuminating the experience beyond recurrence. Attempting to recreate that palpable moment is typically disappointing. The parameters that set the stage for the tasting experience cannot be replicated, as the people, timing, do-over actions are not repeatable.

Hence, a memory is just a memory, living its life of fortitude, happily within one’s mind and heart.  Food memories, although dauntingly delectable cannot replace the feelings that correlate with the experience, the where and when, the who and how, often greater than the what. The repercussions of attempting to establish repeatable food memories is futile, and may impede the initial grandeur of its origin. Each food experience contains a different palette from which to paint. Recognizing, this will paint many happen returns only when expecting new results. “It’s a horse of a different color.” (Wizard of Oz)

Seeking Normal

“I just want to be normal” -a shout heard around the world!

People with food issues, eating for purposes other than fuel, seek normalcy. Eating until comfortably full, wearing clothes for decades without size fluctuation, and living without contemplation of every morsel consumed, are worthy goals. Seemingly unattainable even with concerted efforts by much of the American Population and lofty contributions from corporate conglomerates collecting profits within the diet industry should support successful endeavors. Seeking a healthy relationship with food, often a lifelong battle, the search for the Holy Grail, with the relentless gain and loss proposition, continues. Unreachable goal weights, fitness levels, and being comfortable in our skin, are denied after trial upon trial. Searching for the magic pill, solutions, and alternatives to achieve a certain, sustainable composition continues.

Yet what happens when we acquiesce, surrender, and alter our mindset, recognizing eating, food, and weight are not all the offenders? Stemming possibly from childhood and long ago lessons establishing awful food habits, we also birthed emotional voids, were denied unconditional love, and did not cultivate self-love. Food as a numbing agent to endure pain, soothe discomfort, and react to emotional needs fostered intensely engrained lessons for its recipients of weightful woes. The treadmill of dieting and “loss and gain,” cycles repeat until significant change occurs and we jump off the diet wagon.

To alter the childhood lessons that shape outcome is a heavy task, but attainable. Recognizing the past’s engrained messages that affect today’s actions is a healing step. Yet habitual behavior towards food is a monumental roadblock to overcome as the body and mind have adjusted to years of programming. Changing limiting beliefs allows transformation independent of the past, enabling us to move forward, forever forming new relationships with food. The repeated cycle dissipates, new attitudes are born, and lifestyle changes have a fighting chance of carrying forward.

When healing progresses, we change our relationship with food, and find fitness that strengthens and motivates the lifelong process of welling being is possible. Utilizing food for energy and nutrition, optimizing the body’s engine, is a vital step. When the mind finds clarity through clean eating, it can examine the emotional needs, clear the cobwebs of the past, and push toward healing. Strengthening the body simultaneously also affects the entire physical and mental system for change and enhances optimal well being.

Whether or not the direct concentration about our weight, food, and fitness continues for a lifetime, I am willing to travel that road. Perhaps that prevents normalcy, as normal behavior may not constitute such intense focus, deliberate effort, or need of community support. Self-care depends on these focused channels, an avenue that brings self satisfaction, clarity of mind, and overall well being. If this prevents me from joining the “Normal” club, I am willing to remain different. A lifelong happiness is sure to follow me.

Rewriting HerStory

At six pounds, nine ounces, I was pulled to life by a medical vacuum, as my mother lay asleep, medicated beyond consciousness. Whether my troubles began at birth, remains uncertain. The story my mother tells is that my independent ways and means committee of one for survival began early, refusing to take her hand to cross the street. My, “I can do it, myself” attitude precluded her from controlling me, and the battles began. I fought defiantly, arguing with intention to knock down the opposition, keying my position with an independent voice that simply had to be heard. In our home, I cried, yelled, screamed often no matter the cost, constantly punished, depleted from exhaustive disputes and angry tirades that left me alone, sad, and despondent.

The catastrophic conflicts created isolation; my father’s role as referee, indirectly and passively declaring my mother the victor was mainly to separate us from irrational fights over control. My two sisters remained hidden from our mother’s wrath, as I drew all the negative attention. Seventeen years of arguments and anger left me with disdain, contempt, and rage toward the woman that bore me. Her meanness, limitations, and condescension that I poured out as much as she, dug scars that lined my heart as I escaped to college.

Yet having reviewed my childhood woes and weary beginnings, oddly there were sparks of joy, happiness, and exceptional optimism that lay between battlegrounds of destructive behavior. Leaving home for any reason was incredibly uplifting, a respite from the malaise. School, sports, playing basketball in the driveway, riding my bike as far from home as possible, and traveling parentless to summer overnight camp, a teen tour, or an international high school exchange program, I escaped regularly. These breaks were the highlight of establishing friendships, athletic team opportunities, a hard work ethic within an academic foundation, and an optimistic attitude towards life.

My spin of any negative situation to a positive was typical, and evident to friends as unusual. In retrospect, anything or anywhere was an improvement from home. My happiness and unique perspective about life made me different from peers. The rewarding release from the stress at home were reprieves. Therefore, other’s opinions of me rarely had any effect upon me, declaring me somewhat a freak of nature. As a teenager, that rare sentiment kept those with great insecurity at bay. Unaffected by emotional drama, made me a good listener, objective, and impartial to the normal human melodrama that plays out in life.

Alternatively my mother’s opinion jarred great resentment; I lashed out with fury. As a result, my self-esteem deeply was affected, and by age eleven, food as fuel became a foreign concept. Utilizing food to numb the pain and control the uncontrollable, I began the dieting roller coaster. Active summers away from home enabled normalcy with food; the weight issues vanished until my return.

Additionally, there were uplifting, calm, sublime moments in my childhood. My mother’s compassion, empathy and love for me when I was ill was notable. Truce-filled travels during vacations as a family were memorably peaceful. Those moments encompassed some building blocks of love beneath the surface that would later prove imperative for a positive, future, mother-daughter relationship. Her uncanny ability to forget the past quickly diminished punishments she ordered. Pretending the arguments had not occurred resurrected immediate peace soon after. Her optimism lay like fresh clouds, free from the turmoil, happy to relinquish any of yesterdays anguish for today’s new possibility. The sun seemed to brighten every day as if the prior hours vanished as the clock ticked forward.

I recall her morning routine, arriving in my bedroom announcing, “Good morning, Morning Glory. Time to rise and shine.” She would raise the windowshade without warning with a chipper attitude, and smile as if the turmoil hours before never occurred. Her ability to forget the past, begin again, or pretend it did not happen, was unusual. I recently researched the morning glory flower, to discover that it is a flower that rises each day anew, only to die by the setting sun. From its root, another newly fresh Morning Glory flower appears for its turn to live for the day. My mother emulates this peculiar flower, each day independent from the next. Her own optimistic outlook was contagious, and perhaps we each died a little each day, only to resurface anew the next.

Also moments existed when her assumed hatred of me reversed, periodically blossoming. I recall meeting a boyfriend’s parents, and excitedly sharing with my mother, “I think they really loved me.” Her response still echoes loudly, “What’s not to love?” That phrase was spoken on several occasions, ensuring that she loved me deeply, somewhere in a convoluted heart that needed mending as much as my own. That message furthermore raised hope that love between us lay dormant, ready for a future awakening.

Lacking self-worth from a shortage of unconditional love, translated into lousy relationships with men, promoted a series of poor choices. Food consumed purposely for numbing emotions, resulted in a weight, yo-yo effect, arriving into a relationship thin, and fat by the time I was heading for the door. Relationships included the ex-con, the abusive partner, the law student whose priorities did not include me, and the man who was married to his mother. The common theme was I did not deem myself worthy of better, or to be prioritized as number one.

My story I had written, lived and languished with lacking self-worth, self-love, and self-acceptance; I dumped myself into those relationships. To release the shame, the guilt of allowing myself into those doomful, unhealthy affiliations, and forgiving myself and those from my history, I worked incessantly to clear the dark clouds from my heart, accepting the past as it was, and resign myself to a new, uncluttered future. Yet the repetition of dreadful, ghastly partner choices accumulated over a dozen years, until one fateful evening I rewrote my life story.

Months from reaching thirty years old, my fiancé moves into my apartment and our wedding invitations find their way into guests’ mailboxes. Within two weeks, a thunderstorm at night eliminates the lights, the air conditioner is silent and unresponsive, and sweat pours from my brow as the temperature reaches 85 degrees inside. A slight breeze eases through the open windows, flashlights and candles provide dim lighting enough to see one another, and battery-operated fans sputter in a few corners.

A laundry basket of clothes sits by the bed, awaits reorganization; clothes lay in a chaotic, unfolded, unraveled, and wrinkled existence, representative of their owners. I begin folding the awaiting garments, my shoulders lifted, neck muscles clenched, back aching, thinking about how my life had become hopeless, unhappy, and hectic, yet again. I contemplate the many hands in the pot, planning our approaching nuptials, the continuing arguments with my new roommate, soon-to-be lifelong partner, and the answering machine message from his mother, “…HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY NOW! I was in a car accident because of you, from all this stress. And I hope you’ll be calling your dying cousin, Milton, during his last dying breath, to tell him why he wasn’t invited to your wedding…”

My insides unfold, unravel, and wrinkle, unable to imagine continuing to live like this. When did my life take such a turn, deteriorating to now? Then I see it, the lonely, white, silk blouse, looking shattered, damaged, and destroyed. Although I had purposefully not placed the delicate, graceful, gentle beauty with the rest of the dirty laundry, here it sits wilted, crumpled, and tattered. My heart sinks inside, relentlessly saddened by not one, but now, the second silk blouse destroyed by the man who claims to love me, care for me, but shows consistent disrespect and inconsideration for all that I am.

The greatest heartache is his persistence to defend the woman who gave him life, yet who tortures him emotionally with daily, phone calls. Her crass comments, sarcastic bellowing, and snide remarks, are symptomatic of her latest voicemail, sticking the metaphoric knife deeper than usual into us.

Looking at the disintegrated garment in my hands, sadness flows into disbelief, then into anger and resentment. My life feels like a made-for-TV movie where a monstrous mother-in-law aims to destroy her son and the woman who took him away from her. Yet he agrees, in his words, “It’s all for the best; she means well.” I am not sure anyone would believe the true story, but it would be entertaining enough for ratings.

My anger is boiling; words bubble at the mouth, foam begins to spew as the first letters of words form, “Chuck! You did it again!” Tears begin to tumble to the floor. I am exasperated that we are about to have the same argument over a blouse, about the money wasted, his lack of consideration, his disrespect towards me through his actions. Feeling irritated, I wonder why a repeat performance is in play. The scene, lit up by candles mysteriously dims my ability to see him well.

An angry, I-have-been-interrupted-again voice echoes from the other room. “Whaaaat?” This is not an inquiry, but a what-now, what-have-I-done-now, I-hate-my-life-too response.

“You did it again. How could you do this to me again? It’s ruined. My silk blouse is ruined. You threw it in the laundry and then in the dryer. Why don’t you have any respect for my things? I hate this. I hate this!” I even know in an instant, this is not about the blouse. So much deeper within the wrinkles of our lives are the creases that bury our true feelings, our childhood baggage, and the interference of our mothers, hidden beneath the folds of a crumpled, silk garment.

Yet the yelling, shouting, arguing begins, as if a repeat chorus takes hold of our prior night’s conversation. This time, it is set among the dark, open-windowed apartment, where our eyes cannot meet nor see the truth beneath the insults, the anger, the sadness, and the tension. We know not how to stop this freight train from running through our living room. The shouts are loud, enormously edged near violence, threatening, demented. Words fly like sticks of dynamite, “I hate you. I hate your mother. Fuck You! I don’t want to marry you. You look like you are mad enough to hit me. Do it! Get it over with! Make me leave you! Just get it over with!”

A tirade of words, exchanged under a foundation of aggressive, disturbing, and violent emotions, I sink to the floor, my feelings reverberating throughout my entire being. Adjusting into a fetal position, I sob uncontrollably, sadness pouring from my pores. My heart literally aches, heaving cries of disbelief that my life experience is repeating itself. Recurring, anguish-filled words exit my mouth, picturing the prior dozen years pass before my eyes: “I hate my life. Why is this happening to me again? Why me? I cannot go on like this. I must make a change.” Yet as quickly as the words leave my mouth, I realize there is no escape clause for the painful life I have chosen. I have gotten myself into this broken-record, like a song scheduled to replay itself repeatedly. Again I feel stuck, uncertain how to change the course of my history that feels written in stone. There is no bright light to guide me away from here.

As my mother always said, “You made your bed, and now you have to lie in it.” I see the disrespect, the lack of self worth, the anger, the sadness, and the dysfunctional mess at each relationship’s finale. I hear my voice whispering, “How do I get out of this one? Help me. Please help me. Help.” But my body feels disconnected from the source of the sound. Not a soul hears my pleas; I sound crazy whispering the words aloud within the empty room. Chuck has retreated to the bedroom. Each of us is alone to sink within our sorrows from our relationship gone awry.

Then the shift hits the fan.

Knock, knock, knock! A heavy pounding comes from the door. Disrupted by the sudden loud sound, my sobs, my whispers in the silence, and my despair take an immediate break. Chuck returns to the room, hearing the loud, intentionally wanting-to-be-heard pounding upon our apartment door. We both look at each other with uncertainty. “You better answer it; I cannot,” I whimper.

“Who is it?” Chuck checks the peephole, as I hear the answer.

“It’s the police. Open this door immediately. We received a call about a domestic disturbance coming from this apartment.” The loud, masculine voice is stern, heavy, demanding, and startling.

My heart is racing now, aware that our loud words had listening spectators, and someone has called the cops to investigate the alarming sounds, the disturbing words, and the potential violence one would suspect. I whisper to Chuck that I will be in the other room. Behind the bedroom door, I listen closely to the conversation.

“We got a call saying there was a disturbance from this apartment.”

“Yes,” Chuck confirms. ”We had an argument. We are fine now.”

“We have to see that she is okay. Where is she?” From the inquiry and his concerned, dutiful words, I know I must make my feet move. My limbs are heavy, but my courage pushes them forward, making my appearance in front of the vocal officer. Another male policeman walks behind him, motioning Chuck to another side of the room.

I walk with my head down, appearing disheveled I suspect. His expressive eyebrows furrowed with lips pierced closed, my reddened eyes perhaps reveal my pain, anguish, and distress as I look up and our souls connect. He pauses possibly to reflect and contemplate the situation at hand, sizing me up. His broad shoulders exhibit a strong physique, but his eyes reveal a compassion I crave desperately.

“Are you okay?” he asks with concern.

Shakily and trembling, I softly and slowly speak, “I am okay. We just moved in together. We are supposed to get married in six weeks.”

“Hmmm.” His deep-set eyes seem to connect for just seconds with mine, when the following words come at me like a wave of wisdom. There is a moment of silence, stillness, a stoppage of time when, “You may want to rethink that” drops from his lips like a revelation. They reverberate, as if hanging in the air, resting upon my heart, as if the disordered, jumbled letters of my life have untangled into “You may want to rethink that.”

As the door shuts behind the short visit, I sit down, descending deeply into the couch, and cry, conscious of the severity of our argument, dirty laundry aired to the world, shame of my life leading to this miserable moment, and attune to “You may want to rethink that.” The deep, concerned, compassionate voice echoes repeatedly, simply, yet wisely. In the form of a uniformed officer, a messenger of strength, protection, and authority, arrives to help when I called, needed, and requested it. In search of an exit strategy, a superhero wearing a blue uniform, a messenger, spoke words from his heart that I hear intimately now.

His visit feels timely; I sense a shift occurring. The fan sputters in the corner. Slow motion emanates throughout the room, an energy coursing through the train wreck, healing its passengers, and bringing everyone to safety. Suddenly, I know that everything is going to be okay. Like a domino hitting its rectangular, black neighbor with white dots knocking into the next, words quickly connect through my mind, “cancel the wedding, escape this relationship, shift your life, release the pain, free yourself, unconditionally love yourself.”

Until now, cancelling the wedding seemed insurmountable like a freight train venturing off the tracks, momentum too strong to reverse direction. This is a messy proposition, hundreds of guests receiving their invitations within days of the police visit, and deposits paid to caterers, cake makers, photographers, videographers, florists, a band, and a location reserved. An expensive mess to meddle with, no simple solution to execute reversal, and yet, my life is on the line. Spending it with the wrong man constitutes an extremely, poor choice. Like the many errors in judgment, again I needed to right the wrong.

This vision of rethinking my life felt God-sent, my mind suddenly at ease. Relief unravels the tension as Operation Wedding Cancellation, I declare it, aligns itself with my life. My parents, experiencing the greatest financial sacrifice, support my decision, loving me more than I ever recalled prior. Suddenly everything shifts, like a lever lifting the veil that blinded my vision. The wedding train needs immediate work stoppage, retiring it from the tracks indefinitely. I board the next train to find a new direction in life, worthy of unconditional love. Revealed in the wedding clearing is a destiny calling me to fresh horizons and finer, peaceful pastures.

I see my life unfolding after this warped train is removed from its tracks, informing the guests, sending back engagement gifts, the ring, and the quintessential details related to this life-changing SNAFU (situation normal all fouled up). Suddenly I feel free, yet wondering how I led myself upon this unsteady, relentlessly painful path. How unworthy have I felt repeatedly in all the years of my life?

Weeks later after the silence, stillness, and safety return within, and the work to terminate the wedding completed, Chuck removing himself from my life entirely, I recall driving down Route 290 on my way to my aunt’s for a Rosh Hashanah celebration. I decide to skip the traditional services at the synagogue, figuring anything I have to say to God can be said anywhere, anytime. Yet as I drive, I contemplate my life, the new beginnings, and opportunities for change. A full life shift needs action, a change from the way I view my life and myself. Cancelling the wedding felt like dodging a bullet. Feeling relieved, saved, and reborn, a reinvention of “me” seems necessary.

Then something happens quite curiously, giving me time to pause. Although I know my gas meter appears empty, I typically wait to fill up the tank when its level is just below the given line. The phrase, “E is for enough,” my father’s expression, comes to mind, his running joke that there exists enough gas to reach the gas station. Yet the engine sputters, I press the gas pedal with greater gusto, but no acceleratory reaction occurs. In disbelief, I pull onto the shoulder of the highway. Taking stock, I realize I am safe, happy, and content while contemplating my predicament. Necessary cell phone calls made to AAA and my aunt’s to share my plight are complete. My mother’s response, “That used to happen to my father all the time … Be safe … I guess we’ll see you when you get here.”

I could imagine my grandfather sitting as I am now, waiting for help to arrive. Without cell phones years ago, a slightly different scenario must have played out, but the metaphor, “I’m out of gas” still rings true. Imagining my grandfather watching over me, keeping me safe, I wonder what he would think of me now.

“I’m out of gas,” I state the obvious aloud, aware at how accurate this statement equated to my life. I was running on empty, looking to fill the tank. Yet as I contemplated more, the message came into full view. I was living without a full tank of love, for myself, for others, for the world at large. Without self-love, self-care, self-exploration for healing, forgiveness for the past, I was struggling to live in the present. As I am discovering and understanding the “sign,” I feel the stillness, the mind chatter floating away, and a space of peace full of love descend upon me. Then intuitively I suddenly know the right action. Everything is clearly at ease, flowing, gentle, and kind.

All relationships seem resigned to befall the effects of my unstable childhood should I choose not to change. I instantly recall one relationship at seventeen where one man shared with me a glimpse of unconditional love, but without loving myself, running on empty, I was out of gas then, too. Twelve years later since that beautiful connection, I sit in the shade of the freeway and realize that love must be unconditional for myself before I can reciprocate to others.

Thinking about such love, and how it presents itself, I imagine the years of not feeling the love within, and a voice instantly infiltrates my heart. I hear it quite loudly, as if the voice enters my soul, “I am love. Love is me. I am the love that has evaded me.” Then as if a memory pervades my thoughts, I hear the words echoing from my mother’s voice loudly, clearly, undeniably, “Good morning, Morning Glory,” said with love, light, and laughter, welcoming me to a new day dawning, the past deadened and a new life awakening. Yet even louder, I hear her kindness deep in the recesses of my heart, audibly connecting with mine, “WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?”

My story rewritten at a three-decade turning point set the pace for my next fifteen years. I discovered forgiveness, a degree of self-love, shame resilience, and that change lies within. Life is not happening to me, but I am happening to it. I have the power to transform my life along any path. When you know that life has directionals that orchestrate from one’s heart, it is easy to play a grand symphony. Rewrite your story, play your tune anyway you choose; it can always be altered by listening to your heart, and changing the course of one’s song.

“Don’t die with your music still in you.” – Wayne Dyer.

 

Alignment

Since its inception, my film series, an educational, cultural program of spiritual film and discussion during monthly Monday evenings has awakened my energy to a connection that is lost on most, but utilized by many. Finding stillness, living in the now, and awakening the core of existence while living alongside a fast, moving world is my objective. Within this presence, a connected web represents a oneness that grows from the origin of the universe, from a divine core, from whence we came, and spreads throughout all creation. Therefore, everything is designed, correlated, and formed from a godly entity and weaving as one.

Seemingly this belief easily forgotten, misunderstood, or unutilized, prevents the wholeness necessary to lead a thoughtful, loving, and meaningful life. On a wellness journey, it holds the key to manifesting the body, mind, and spirit as you deem fit. The theory that everything we think, feel, and do is a reflection of our vibrational energy, enables anything to come to fruition. Reaching a weight loss and fitness goal carries no different opportunity. Goals are realized when we align with optimal vibrational energy to achieve that endpoint. Any diversion is caused by resistance, where a belief, action, or feeling does not correlate with the journey you have set upon. Therefore, clearing the thoughts, centering into stillness, entering into a heart spaced realm of loving, energetic vibration makes anything possible.

Stillness in life is no more than reaching into the senses and feeling the moment to moment sensation of life’s movement, by a sensitive awareness and perception of all within and around us. Like a meditation, it may be experienced at any moment where a pause is present, where no-thing exists, and when the stillness precludes all activity. This can be felt, recognized, or experienced while taking a shower, driving, running, meditation, or when in the zone of any activity that allows the mind to rest and the heart to sing. It is the pause or silence between the sounds, the notes of life between my fingers hitting the keypad, and the stillness that echoes throughout a day; it is the essence between things, but interwoven and connected to all.

Allowing the energetic vibration to align with fitness and health goals is a necessary piece of the weight loss puzzle. As slow deceleration currently defines my weight loss speed, I conclude resistance plays a role, changes my frequency, alters the energetic vibration, and misaligns my goal with current beliefs that impede my progress. Whether fear of reaching maintenance, a lack of certainty of pounds dropping, or my actions or thoughts in some way altering my successful reality, a lower, less effective vibrational frequency exists and causes misalignment. To change limited beliefs, transform into a knowing like no other towards a higher energetic vibration is necessary.

All beliefs must align with achieving one’s goals along the weight loss journey. Believing it is possible, deserved, worthy of the beholder, all contributes to the outcome. Therefore, finding the stillness to meditate upon the knowing of any end result, including a new, lean, vital, strong body is a helpful tool for transformation. No longer needing confusion or uncertainty, relinquishing a slow loser status frees me of the burden to understand how my actions gets me to my goal. Just the knowing, the energetic alignment including the freeing space without fear, enables the increased acceleration to my weight loss and fitness success. The pieces fall inevitably into place, directing the universe to act upon my behalf, and energetically actions are inspired, selected healthy foods are consumed, necessary fitness levels are achieved, and results immediately occur. That is worth knowing along the weight loss journey, ensuring success, and becoming whole in the process. This awakening to stillness, reflection, and manifestation are prerequisites for the journey. Alignment with goals and acting upon intuitive impulse towards them enables a successful path. Be still, be whole, be happy!

Healing Halts Triggers

Although wishing others more peace than I wish for myself may prove a wise stance when individuals present their emotional baggage, facing the masses unarmed makes it virtually impossible. Choosing judgment, frustration, and anger, rather than compassion, empathy, and love misaligns our intentions for a happy, peaceful, openhearted existence. Our indirect, internal conversations from our past lay beneath the surface and blur authentic communication, subjecting us to misunderstandings, complications, and painful interactions. Releasing one’s past, healing old wounds, and establishing independent reactions are possible and enable new responses that correspond with our thinking, heartfelt feelings, and desire for peaceful outcomes. When healing exists, triggers become delinquent.

Yet often words and emotions heard and felt as a child come barreling out of a metaphoric gun to shoot, maim, and injure innocent bystanders of our future. Each experience aligns with the next, affecting our ability to handle social and emotional situations. The past has each of us speaking with mothers, fathers, and a variety of hosts from a person’s past long after their influence was assumed vanquished. Perceptions are made, blame is handed out, and hurt is buried within the masses, affecting current day social behavior.  Anger, resentment, a need for control or to be right may have a ‘meetup’ with current situations and one’s reaction similarly feels and responds with a repeat performance from our pasts.

Triggered by history, harrowing effects felt within the human body, blood pressures may rise, cortisol levels may climb, and numbing agents may be sanctioned to alleviate the discomfort of past trauma. Numbing emotions through eating continue to plague the masses. Wanting to thwart the pain, rather than feel uncomfortable creates self destructive behaviors, undesired pounds accumulated, and narrows the path to optimum health, sometimes squeezing it out entirely.

Changing mindset, acquiring tools alleviating old reactions, and establishing novel approaches to newly define situations are crucial to heal elements that trigger self-sabotage, opponent-based interactions, and emotional upheaval. Recognizing and learning from lessons of the past often is the first step to healing. Freeing oneself from remaining entrenched in the past is step two. Self-respect, self-love, and self-acceptance finalizes the process, eliminating actions that misalign with one’s integrity.

All actions and responses made from a place of love, peace, and harmony alleviate any strikes inflicted by another. Viewing another’s hurt, pain, and struggle, from an understanding, compassionate, empathetic angle alters the outcome. When a fire attempts to spread, the flame is expunged by water created by a peaceful response. When a gun points and aims, the reaction is to defend with a superhero’s shield of love. When a ninja strikes without warning, the defense more powerful is a heartfelt connection of empathy, compassion, and blessing for the attacker, “I wish him more peace than I wish for myself.”

Reaching this poignant place is a process of trial and error, reaching a nirvana of self-love, and continuing to experience meditative, calm, and still surroundings. Fearless, peaceful, loving responses alleviate the triggers that misalign avenues to optimum emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Easy in theory, a lifelong learning process, and a practice perfecting peaceful interactions challenges painful pasts and relinquishes opposition. Releasing that which triggers us, we move with greater consciousness through the world. When we are healed, no longer will we be triggered.

“We will continue to be triggered until we are healed.” – Louise Hay

When Weakness Begins to Peek

It happens. It surprises. It feels like a glitch in the senses. Stamina, staying power, perseverance, and resilience all playing their role efficiently, when unexpectedly a flash of weakness leaks, nudging into a solid foundation. Unsuspecting, its stealth entrance barely announces itself. Reaction time is a crawl, observable, but unavoidable. Motivation, determination, and energy wanes slightly from wintery weather, limited sunlight, and frigid temperatures. Smiles dim, attitudes darken, and shadows brew to slow response time, increasing the weakened state of being, until actions snowball and solidify.

This degradation crept silently, in the form of time gaps between meals, allowing healthy, prepped food to dwindle to scarcity, and laziness to linger abnormally. Generating hunger causes cravings, the discomfort developing into unconscious decision making. Unmeasured and unrecorded food intake breaks a cycle of responsible journaling, emotions withdraw from recognizable discomfort and acknowledgment, yet actions cease to pivot to mindful behavior.

Specifically my healthy, radical craving leads to an over consumption of blueberries, raspberries, and shredded parmesan cheese. Sugar-free gum enables me to chew uncontrollably, wanting, needing, pleading for relief of the internal disorientation. Some argue this response is containable, a recipe of healthy choices, and minimal damage to a healthy lifestyle. Yet a binge of any measure, the unconscious actions and uncontrollable behavior tell otherwise. This tumble has potential to increase in gravity and avalanche with great intensity and destruction. The physical reaction of an imbalance of sugar levels trying to right itself, the psychological ramifications alleviating guilt, disappointment, and failure, and the emotional toll taken from numbed, unexpressed feelings that crave an outlet are ripened responses for falling apart at the seams.

Whether the weather, low vitamin D levels, or hormonal reasonings attribute to weakened reactions, they enter in ninja fashion, fast, stealthily, and knowing the opponent’s weakness, drawing upon them with precision. This attack’s defense can only be fought with mindful awareness, something in limited supply when conditions flourish. To counter is to track and journal the consumed, binged food, recognize the mishap and how to respond differently in recurring conditions, and awaken the senses when triggered into submission of silence. Not much has to happen for imbalance to infiltrate and alignment to falter. Resuming control is a matter of mindfulness, eliminating the elements that downgraded energy delineated from the core’s center. Returning to equilibrium matters most when weakness begins to peek.

Looking Through the Lens

Although sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, looking through the lense of life as if everything is a sign, lesson, or message makes ordinary events extraordinary. A week passed before a possible explanation emerged, like the pause in a breath, awaiting the flow of exhalation that breathes out answers. Yet finally a sigh released my understanding of a prior event, its significance coming to light defined by my imagination.

My eyes fluttered open last week to pain and an awareness that something was amiss within my left eye. Sharp ache, blurred vision, and an unmistakable knowing caught my undivided attention. Holding my eye with a hand-covered patch, I hobbled to the bathroom. Aided by the mirror, peaking through the fingers for an explanation, I saw a reddened eye in need of care. Removing my extended wear contact lense, the culprit confessed without coercing. The left lense sat in my hand dry, lacking its normal, supple flexibility. I placed it in a case and removed the other, glancing in the mirror with a self-pitied expression.

“I’ve done it now,” I thought, knowing. Guilty of over-wearing my lenses, injuring my vision, suffering the sore sensation, and dire consequences steering me in the face, I cried with immediate regret. Forewarned repeatedly in the past decade of potential hazards of wearing contact lenses overnight, I ignored the warnings, and walked haphazardly, finally tripping a wire to one of the roadside bombs. The ache dulled as the explosion settled, and I surrendered to my eye doctor for exploration, diagnosis, and a solution.

He appeased my self critic when my ears heard words and phrases as, “an abrasion, eventually heal, and vision will return.” Relief filled my senses and my breath returned to normal frequency. Tension tightly wound released when diagnosis and treatment transferred from his mouth to my ears. My elation celebrated the eventual healing, halted my pity party, and added gratitude for the gift of a second chance. Changing my ways to protect my eyesight’s assets remains vital and present for my future.

In retrospect with the gift of time, I am reevaluating the meaning behind the eyelid. Losing focus, lacking clarity, taking senses for granted, ignoring the rules, dry eye – unrealized emotions, squandering vision, and seeking support for deficiency (eyeglasses). Tampering with these metaphoric explanations, numerous thoughts reveal themselves. Am I losing my vision of my life purpose, taking for granted my talents and valuable senses including intuition? Ignoring any rules subconsciously with my food lifestyle, blocking emotions from reaching the surface, or losing focus in various areas of my life, I ask myself? In an area of limitations, have I sought help plentifully when needed? Am I seeing clearly through the lense of my life or have I blurred my vision from obstinence, recklessness, and/or laziness?

The good news while answering these quandaries is I am healing, experiencing jubilation by the opportunity to receive a do-over, and reestablishing goals within a slew of personal and professional pursuits. Given the chance to evaluate the metaphoric meanings behind experiences is an uncertain venture, but adds a key element to growth, learning, and improvement in life. Yet sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Freud would have had a field day with my lost vision and how to regain it. Looking through life’s lense contains valuable insights.

Vulnerability – A Risk Worth Taking

When revealing more information than you intended sparks inward discomfort, is it time to lay low, hidden from one’s truth that leaked out unexpectedly in a moment of daring greatly? Although empathy enables camaraderie in a world of judgment, isolation, and disconnection, it also heals wounds in the listener and the sharing soul. Yet not everyone is ready for authenticity too soon out of the gate. Perhaps a space of earning the right to hear one’s story necessitates restraint before catapulting deep dark secrets to the masses. Yet how does one know acceptable timing to get naked in front of listeners?

Does a society of excessive information create shock value sharing, where revealing truth purely entertains, draws reaction, and denies authentic connection? How does one draw the line or know the difference? There are no reliable rules that warrant a definitive answer to this quandary. Yet look in the hearts of the speakers and listeners, and truth is revealed. Vulnerability sparks various reactions. Discomfort shows up in the form of silence, rejection, and sometimes detachment. When making real connection, empathy, trust, and bonds form.

Courage is necessary to be the first to reveal one’s truth, feeling vulnerable, stripping oneself of shield and armor. Whether the response is one of empathy or detachment, the brave soul takes the risk. In a brief moment waiting for connection or rejection, intrepidation hangs in the balance. Either way to lay one’s truth into the world seems a first step in healing, revealing, and letting go of challenging emotions that dangle in midair. This shout out to listeners is about gathering support, empathy, and compassion that may lead to healing, acceptance, and releasing emotions from one’s past transgressions and emotional scars.

We are all worthy of healing and therefore, worthy of risking the potential rejection of a despondent listener. When offered sympathy, the result is disconnection; when offered empathy both listener and sharer draw human connection, the heartbeat of an interweb of human need. Regret of placing oneself into the vulnerable space must be replaced by courage to take risks for healing and connection, the cornerstone of growth and the human spirit.

Maintenance without Fear

Fearing what we know not is normal. The road to maintenance, the journey to reach a reduced size or ideal weight is familiar ground. Notches in my belt show extensive experience. Yet weight maintenance has had limited exposure, remains unfamiliar territory, and boasts a reduced success rate. Arrival at a destination, a particular number of pounds I sought to remove, a size flashing a low number on a tag, and a proud view in a mirror have highlighted several successful stints of weight reduction. Goals of completing marathons, Outward Bound courses, and fitness programs all resulted in reaching some pinnacle, and then diving off the peak into an abyss of failure, relinquishing my crown of glory to non-movement uncertain how to maintain ultimate fitness levels. Maintenance remains a mystery.

An unlearned lesson, summed up by my quote is apropos, “When you reach the top of the mountain, you are only half way there.” Although I cognitively recognize this reality, education has eluded full comprehension, experiential practice, and success. When I view that quote literally rather than metaphorically, the irony is that my strength climbing down a mountain exceeds traversing up. On 22 and 30-day Outward Bound courses that took me deep into the High Sierras and Rocky Mountains, my temperament, physical shape, and mental acuity made elevation and ascent the greater challenge, while descending at any rate drew from my strengths in dominant fashion. Perhaps my hips and thighs, my predominant body parts, held greater strength to warrant the side to side, downward dig necessary for descent, whereas cardiovascularly and as the air grew thinner, my strength weakened and challenged my physical response deeply.

Although views from the mountain tops and peaks took my breath away like pieces of heaven clearing the vision, downward slope contained a freedom like flying and soaring towards a final destination. That freedom like an eagle’s flight always lifted my spirits, enabling me to appreciate the views more significantly and experience authentic, deep conversations with fellow hikers, while empowering the physical drive to the bottom.

Yet after every diet and physical feats’ successes, the weight returned, the muscular achievement atrophied, and failure replaced victory. I reached the top of the mountain not to recognize I was only half way there. Post diet, I would eat more and unhealthily; following each marathon, I stopped exercising entirely; and subsequent to Outward Bound trips, I lacked any physical exertion. Like a recoiling to a comfort level, the rubber band snapped back to fat and immobile, large and low-energy, sad and depressed.

Lifelong change required efforts I chose not to commit to, and resulted in relentless abandon, traveling from victory to defeat. Maintenance, approached from a far reaching arm, never received the attention it needed. Therefore, without an embrace, my full comprehension and follow through were short lived. Yet, now is my time and nothing is getting in my way. I am committed to walk that walk, follow the process, and welcome maintenance for the final lifelong descent to fruition. When I reach the top of the mountain this time, I accept that halfway is the perfect place for continuity, a slightly different technique, and energy readied for my lifestyle to continue without reservation, without a break, without atrophy. This is my final ascent to weight loss, where the climb down from that peak awaits maintenance and “the me” I was meant to be. I suspect with maintenance there is a reversal of fortune, where after considerable time in the maintenance quarter, I will feel like I am above peaks, mountain ranges and valleys, soaring high above with a freedom like none other. Fly, Lisa, Fly!

Connection Heals

Within a community of strong, empowered women, there stand common threads of struggle that weave between our lives. No one travels through life unscathed without some childhood scarring, life’s dominoes that topple unaligned from negative human interaction.Where on the timeline each one’s healing exists differs. Incredible struggles people experience daily, surviving, thriving, and altering their circumstances continues to amaze and defy great understanding. Surviving adversity with increasing resilience is a testament to the human heart and its endurance.

As a bystander, observing scores of woes, emotions abound with empathy, gratitude, and inspiration. The survivor’s ability to speak truth, seek solace, and educate us about toughness to withstand darkness, buoyancy to bounce back, and mutual trust to share and exchange personal, painful stories is remarkable. Tremendous, thoughtful, touching responses fill our airways to breathe in connection. The exchange is heavy, but lightens life in ways unfathomable, while words and revelations empty like releasing a capsule of healing between both the giver and receiver.

Grateful for the human condition to enable such grand communication and connection, an intricate web that filters out layer upon layer, I am stupefied by its growth, size, and continuous weaving into the universe. When something as vast in spectrum corners your perspective about human connection, it inspires repeatable experiences to continue what led you there.

The common thread of pain between individuals seeking healing, resolution, and solace where atrophied bodies, obesity, and food related issues resulted, supersedes weight loss and fitness goals. Never about the physical weight, but instead the gravity of emotional weight pressed upon the human soul in need of therapeutic remedy is the common core of fitness and weight loss communities. When that connection filters fully, human empathy abounds, and healing restores the masses.

Dangers of Coasting on Cruise Control

During a time-defined, focused journey (a twelve-week challenge), there is a segment when the gas pedal needs no pressure, our vessel cruises with highway monotony, and attention detaches from acceleration. Although you cannot take your hand off the wheel, your defined actions are habitual, your speed determined, and the miles pass on their own without tremendous concerted effort.

Danger exists when such stagnation occurs. The commencement of repetitive food intake, exercise routines, and easing the motivation into a lull typically serve as a holding pattern, may create plateau results, and confuse the driver with frustrating failure and the slowing process. Concluding the initial plan lacks sustainability explains the slow down, when perhaps the jammed receptors of the body are simply relaxing into equilibrium.

The status quo is the balance the body achieves with great precision. Working to prevent the body of relinquishing its weight, it attempts a balance of systems, recognizing that it has discovered its perfect response to the calories, movement, and various activity it has been given. All systems are functioning, cycling, and cruising, with maintenance as the next leg of the journey, a settling into comfort.

Unfortunately this result is not the desired outcome, but cruise control communicates differently. Changing one’s response is necessary for optimal success: decreasing and increasing calories, fluctuating carbohydrate and fat macros, alternating exercise routines and their amounts, changing food choices to prevent habitual selections, and alleviating the resting state of the pedal to the metal. One must focus energy towards pushing acceleration, rather than relenting into maintenance. Cruising is stagnation while deepening the force is a destination’s dream.

Determination, perseverance, and dedication to shifting routine, awakens the body to dominate the drive towards surrendering the weight, increasing its muscle, and ascending to a successful concentration of movement towards a driving destination of pounds dropping and kettlebells soaring. Coasting in cruise control is a hazard to a worthy weight loss pursuit. Halting the plateau and shifting the comfort level can be as easy as making a few changes in food choices, exercise amount, increasing weights, and/or altering activity levels. Getting out of the comfort zone and releasing cruise control works the body and revs the engine again for sustainable change.

Slow Loser

Although I appreciate the boot camps and clean eating along the healthy avenue, I struggle with the unknown. What works and does not, confuses and causes me to second guess each step. Did I exercise enough, eat enough, drink enough (water), do enough to make my journey successful? Am I digestively sensitive to dairy, egg whites, or an ingredient still unacknowledged? Have I done everything to ensure success in this venture? Slow and steady may win the race, but slow and unsteady, what say you now?

When it all comes to fruition, realizing my weight loss goal, lifetime maintenance, and my primary mission of being comfortable in my skin, I want peace of mind, knowing the healthy path that led me there, and continuing to walk it daily. Much of the struggle is understanding what essentially works and does not. Throughout this process, I struggle with not truly knowing what aspects cumulatively are optimal actions. What parts are pushing the weight loss down while others fight against a tide, attempting to hold on to excess fat and pounds.

This unknown is my challenge, as the weight drops unevenly, slowly, and continues to baffle my intelligence. What I thought I knew for sure in life, is that when I did not know something, I could study it, rely on facts, and act accordingly. Yet with hormones, gut health, metabolism, and other variables affecting my body via a compilation of factors, there is no definite path. Only guidelines and tweaking to guide my journey, attempting to increase my efficiency with successful courses of action may I rely.

When on the slow end of losing weight, acknowledging that some bodies lose faster than others is excruciatingly frustrating. It is another  ‘I am not good enough’ to be as successful as others. Although happy for others’ success and yearning to possess the same superpower of weight loss speed, envy exists. I don’t want to be a “slow loser.”  My due diligence did not pay off this time; my results do not equate to my efforts. The disappointment of possibly not being fast enough causes unrest.

Yet my journey will not be dissuaded, deterred, or denied my eventual vision, a goal set with clear intention. Altering my views, my critical self judgment needs a new route. Some struggles are worthy of time, learning, and patience. The need for the mind to catch up with the body’s transformation, time for habituating the process and discovering how one’s body uniquely functions, validates the theory of a slower journey.

Embracing this slower speed erases my equating it to ‘being less than’ or ‘not enough’. Perhaps the slow I require has benefits I have not fathomed. I am worthy of success, reaching my goals, and being the best version of myself. Accepting a slow loser status lowers my extreme expectations and may alter my speed by adding a new perspective and reducing disappointment. Speed is subjective; my body decides the rate of weight descent. That speed must be perfect for my body or it would act otherwise.

Until my ultimate destination, I continue to alter and correct, delve beneath to find the tricks of the fitness, weight loss trade. Accepting the process and gliding along at whatever rate, will lead me to a victory. The longer I travel, the greater the weight journey. As we know, the essence is about the journey, not the end. As I have repeatedly said,”Everything’s going to be alright. If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.” When I reach the end, a new journey begins. Slow loser, or longer journey? It’s a matter of perspective.

When Life Throws a Curve

Life throws unexpected curve balls while most of us directionally challenged hitters bok while reacting. Personally I swing late, observing the pitch as foreign, unable to explain its strange, arching movement, and wondering why and how the curvature is possible. Several pitches later I start to recognize the true meaning behind the curve when my interpretation adds essence to its meaning. After years of practice, when a ball arcs in my direction, my response time has shortened; I am able to hit a single, after a couple of strikes.

Yesterday my morning started with an excruciating eye opener. Literally I opened one eye and sharp, grinding pain resulted. Though probably a long time coming from contact lense overuse, I still was surprised when it happened. My immediate thought, remove my contact lense (overnight wear) and see if the eye restored pain-free equilibrium as felt the night prior. Without any ease, I put on glasses, aware that my left eye’s vision was blurred, and attempted to distract myself with daily ritual activity, checking email, and writing a blog entry.

The first email catching my eye was from an acquaintance asking if I had sent a Google Doc, and if not, to change my passwords. Next, a private message on my screen showed another asking the same. My response to both was an emphatic “no” and my morning went into reacting to a computer virus that left my entire contact list vulnerable to the corruption. With years of added contacts, sending an immediate email to warn of the potential dangers to all contacts seemed the correct course of action. With the help of a technology-savvy spouse, his morning and mine were tumbled inside out, utilizing much time to rectify this matter. Passwords were deleted and rewritten, emails were sent at lightening speed, and my blog writing time was eliminated.

With painful, blurry vision and a computer virus, my day took a tumble, teetering out of control. Prior to the morning, a snow day had been called, and my kids were now stumbling out of bed, awaiting attention and breakfast preparation. Additionally snow shovel removal awaited at the end of the driveway by our mailbox to ensure the day’s delivery. Ruckus set in as the kids responded negatively wanting attention, my eye pain and blurred vision steadily continued, and my inbox began filling up with mail delivery rejections from all of my contact list that had become obsolete over the years. Over two hundred emails snapped back with a statement of non-delivery. My offspring adjusted eventually to the slow breakfast delivery, yet arguments ensued as each made their way to help with snow removal. Tears streamed from children’s eyes as the frigid temperatures and early morning mishaps gathered steam. None of it a pretty picture, but somehow manageable.

In time, I called the eye doctor and scheduled a “fit-you-in” appointment at noon, ignored my full email inbox, made myself a cup of tea, and told the children to steer clear of me as my top might blow off my head should anything else darken my day. I began to contemplate the blurred vision, the computer virus, the unscheduled snow days trapped inside, and the clarity I could not capture from an array of curve balls thrown my way. I sighed, imagining the metaphor of mishaps in my line of view.

Perhaps I was just being hit by pitches, reacting only upon direct impact. What did it mean to have blurred vision; would I heal and see again through a clear lense? Would I clear the virus or continue to subject others to my fate? My meal plan was set off on a tangent as the events unfolded as well, skewing my success for the day. Did I not just use the phrase on Facebook for another’s consoling, “The ability to succeed is the ability to adjust”?  How resilient could I be in the face of adversity, unscheduled avenues, and the unexpected events thrown my way? I had not seen clearly until now.

By day’s end, I had a diagnosis of ‘abrasion’ to my left eye, and must wear glasses for a week until healed, or if worsened, a virus potentially could be the cause. The computer virus issue I may have fully addressed with a giant send-out to fellow contacts. Mail was delivered by the postal service, my food plan eased back into balance, and I sat aware of a successful comeback after a day of alterations to the ‘norm.’

Our reaction to the curve balls decides our fate. Should we choose to acquiesce to their aim of striking us out, our vision will remain blurred, out of focus, and deteriorating like an out of control virus, spreading like a contagion let loose into the wild. Instead the downward spiral slowed long enough to hit the ball, allowing me to run freely and access some clarity.

When life throws you a curve, examining the pitch long enough to take aim for a clear reaction is crucial. Today served me well to practice positive response, resilience and recovery. No one travels through life unscathed by the curves that derail each of us from our center. Equilibrium is achieved by reframing the situation, as to recognize it’s valuable lesson internally taught. Learning to achieve resiliency is one’s best bet against the mighty curve ball.

When the Universe Calls, Answer it

I am having one of those days, the kind when the sun doesn’t shine, where the grey weakens your core, and each effort to illuminate the day dims further and deeper into a holding pattern of my own creation. Perhaps it is the thirty inches of snow outside that fell in a heap on Tuesday, blockading me from leaving my home headquarters. Maybe it is the wintry cold outside that weakens my bones, creaking as I move throughout the morning. Certainly the sepia tone that spreads over the view from my home office window, with the exception of a prominent, bright red cardinal upon the twigs of an Oak tree catches my attention of the dreariness that lies just feet from my own.

Regardless, the doomful feeling drones over me, dampening my spirits, and challenges my ability to shake it from my marrow. The morning light did correspond with an early blog entry, like a meditation of the fingers and heart connected to a greater power I can never fully explain to readers. Yet as the words lay across the screen from freshly typed keyboarding, I transfer my attention to children, school lunches, and a movement towards exiting household members to their prospective locations. As the final door shuts, a host of errands listed on a notepad lies dormant like an open door awaiting closure.

I return to my computer, hoping writing might continue from the joy prior, but nothing inspires my fingertips to dance as they’d done earlier. My thoughts turn toward my life, how empty my professional world feels, a second edit of my first memoir waiting for attention and direction, the essays I never published for fear of failure to entertain, and the unread blog that sits before me. I click on the statistics page, examining the lack of visits upon a bar graph, reacting with uncertainty of whether I want an unedited blog read or not. Unable to reach any readership, including friends, spouse, or acquaintances, I wonder if writing is the ‘right’ avenue to pursue. If only I could see the writing on the wall, a sign, or my path revealed.

Hours pass and I contemplate, explore, and navigate building a reader’s platform, forming a stage for future readers. I update my Twitter account, review my Facebook page, and imagine joining Toastmasters to improve my presentation skills. Yet soon restlessness, hopelessness, and overwhelm engage my insides, hours pass without any measurable accomplishment of basic, daily responsibilities, and I relent to sit in the quiet of the day, a darkness setting in like cloud cover. My emotions are relentlessly lowering into dim shadows, refusing to release from a blackened space. I feel alone in this darkened cavity, unable to see my way out.

Tears form recognizing the wastefulness of time, saddened by the nothingness that surrounds me. Alone and sad for my inaction, my resolve weakened into a depressed state of being, I contemplate reaching for help, or in the least, confessing my perceived sin of wasting a day. The number dialed, the receiver held, and a soft voice answers with compassion, love, and encouragement. More emotional waters tumble before I can see any clearing, insight, or retribution.

Still affected by my predicament of despair, I say, “I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I have no direction. I have lost my way.” Tears stream, but I can finally breathe into the day that has worn me down. Feeling my emotions allows freedom to release, a relief after a day of trapped, hidden, fear filled emotions. My energy pushing away the discomfort exhausted me, suddenly surging upward from opening the enclosed capsule.

Interrupted by my cellphone ring tone on my right, I glance at an unrecognizable number and ignore it. Within seconds, a call waiting beep alarms me as to an incoming call on the landline I occupy in my left hand. Again, the same caller ID number does not trigger a call to action. I mention the number to my supportive listener, announcing that although I have seen it pop up prior to today, I know not whom it belongs, nor does he after a quick discussion. When examining the number again, I tap the number which instantly calls back the missed call. Mistakenly returning the call, I immediately end the call with a single tap.

Yet within two minutes, my cellphone is singing its tune again, and the mystery phone number appears again. This time I answer the call, curious who persistently is attempting to reach me in the past and presently. My husband awaits on the line, listening to a one-sided conversation, as I focus my attention to the incoming call.

“Hello?”
“Is this Lisa Edinberg?” an unrecognizable voice asks.
“May I ask who’s calling?” I ask curiously and cautiously, assuming it’s a scam.
“Well, this will sound strange. I found a hard drive to your computer in a hotel room. It has pretty much your whole life on it, and I wanted to return it to you.”
“Ahh, excuse me?” I question, certain he is lying, like the Microsoft scam and call center from India.
“I found your hard drive disk. It has pictures of your family, your kids, your life,” he says confidently, convincingly, and scarily. “I’m in technology and found it, thinking that I’d look at it, figure out whom it belonged to, and return it. If this had happened to me, I would have wanted someone to return it. I’ve had it for a year, but I recently moved, and happened to see it again while unpacking. Finally I looked at it, and can see you’d probably want this back. I would. So I looked you up.”
“And where exactly did you find this?” I ask, fearful of what he is saying, but still skeptical.
“I found it in a hotel at West 57th Street in New York,” he says.
Knowing this hotel is the business hotel my husband uses, and I have stayed at prior, I say,”Can you hold on a moment?” I turn to the phone in my left hand, ear pressed, mind preoccupied with worry and concern.”There is a guy saying that he found my hard drive in a hotel at West 57th Street in New York and wants to return it to me?”
My husband immediately corroborates the possibly explanation with, “Yes, when we wiped the old computer, you gave me the hard drive to store. I had planned to bring it to my office, and threw it in my car. I saw it in my car in New York when I traveled on business, but thought it dropped out of my car. But I probably took it into the hotel thinking I didn’t want to leave it in my car in the New York City. It’s ours.”
“Oh my God, really? That’s unbelievable. So it’s ours?”
” Yeah, can he get it to my New York office?” he asks.
Turning to my right, I ask, still amazed at the possibility of this finding by a random stranger, “Do you know where we live? What else is on it?”
“Well I believe you live…,” and states my street, my husband’s name. “There’s a lot of your life, you’re a writer, so there’s your writing,…”
He may have mentioned more, but I hear nothing but the fact that he has read my writing. I think, what has he read? My writings are the most personal revelations of my life, and therefore, my heart beats with fear, recognizing the gravity of what he is saying. It occupies my truth; it’s personal, vulnerable, and a total revealing of who I am. What has he read, I continue to wonder. Has he read my books I have written, the motherhood essays, my memoir.
“What have you read of mine?” I inquire, amazed at the possibility of what he knows about me, still a bit afraid.
“Well, there are poems, writing, and to find you, I’ve seen your website of your writing. It’s good.” he says casually.
“It’s good?” I say incredulously, as if what he’s saying is much more important than the fact he is holding a decade of photos of my children, knows where I live, and has years of my documents at his fingertips. “You are talking to an insecure writer. You’ve read my writing and it’s good?” I repeat, uncertain and unsure what I think of this fact.
“Yeah, you’re a writer. I have read some of it. It’s good,” he emphasizes.

At least this is what translates in my head, baffled and elated that someone that is not my friend or family member, thinks my writing is good. Waiting all day as to my next step into a writing career, and a stranger calls telling me I am, it is good enough. I give him an address to send the hard drive to, thanking him for finding me and his persistency to return the disk. The writing, the vital declaration of his findings, is the only comment that matters.

What are the chances that on this day, while I discuss my failed future, feeling the lowest of lows, a stranger calls to inform me of his discovery from a hotel room a year earlier, acknowledging my writing, giving me a direction I was seeking. It feels like the universe called to answer my inquiry. Instinctually he must have felt the need to call and took action. The universe was also persistent, calling repeatedly to reach me. Several calls to gather my attention, answering this call was a blessing.

Besides faith in humanity that people inherently do the right thing, I was given a gift. Writing for me is about revealing truth, empathizing with others on journeys similar to mine, and enabling readers to experience my life stories and healing with the possibility of relating them to their own lives. A hard drive of my life is as vulnerable as writing. What I experienced when I realized he knew the depths of my life is the same as exposing my writing to the world. Fear keeping me from “being all in” as a memoirist is about allowing the vulnerability of truth to illuminate through the words. Great strength exists among the warriors known as memoirists. Speaking one’s truth, revealing the deepest aspects of one’s life takes courage. Yet the relationship between the reader and its author is a sacred sharing. Within the writing is a large net that casts connection between its author and reader, establishing a feeling of, “Me, too.” It teaches others how to heal, reveal their truths, and grow as human beings towards greater consciousness.

Therefore, when the universe calls, answer it!

 

 

 

 

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