All in a Day's Words

Tag: challenge

Cookie for a Skinned Knee

Whether a cookie, ice cream, or brownie grace the table with each bee sting, academic or athletic achievement, food rewards are a challenging habit to break. Skinned knees, A’s on report cards, holidays, hurt feelings, achievements, and pain rewarded by food is a common response, fostering the “I can fix, heal, remove, celebrate that feeling” with food. Reeling us into the pantry for a sugar-laden medal and eating sweet honors, goodies celebrate the victories, or ease the pain of falling down, burning a finger on a stove, or triggered hurt feelings. Junk food consumption for regular relief from feeling uncomfortable or emotionally hurt pack on the pastries and pounds. Reframing food’s purpose and releasing the connection between food and emotion is vital for change, successful weight loss and maintenance.

Food as fuel negates food reward needs, and fosters respect for healthy choices and the body. If food’s sole purpose is energy, emotional responses must reroute elsewhere. Gathering alternatives for discomfort, emotional releases, and successes is imperative to reframe food’s function. Not an easy transition, but it changes the way we look at things; therefore, the response alters course. Exercising and building the muscle to modify eating behavior, takes practice, perseverance, and motivation. As a repeated reminder, food’s function as optimal energy, fueling muscles, and sending nutrition to the brain, is essential. Physically feeling good is the prime goal, while cravings dissipate, energy resumes, and mental clarity returns. Imbalanced sugar levels cloud judgment, energy levels, and fool the appetite by misguided hunger.

Proper nutrition provides a balanced chemical response that enhances quality of life. By rewarding emotion with unhealthy foods, we threaten the body’s optimal functioning. Equilibrium, the natural response, causes the body to eliminate the incoming threat of toxicity or unrecognizable ingredients within processed foods, by becoming inflamed, digestively distressed, or eventually diseased. Treating ourselves respectfully with healthy, edible options, and utilizing “food as fuel” circumnavigates this problem. Anything that bandaids rather than cures is counterintuitive to healing. Treating feelings with food addresses symptoms of discomfort and emotional celebration; it misses the damage it does. A cookie for a skinned knee eventually causes additional pain, sometimes irrevocable. Healthy food as fuel can temper this future predicament.

When the Shift Hits the Fan

External transformation causes an internal stirring of emotions. On the periphery we alter our bodies and environment: reduce inflammation, cleanse the closets, release toxic friends, clear the clutter, and eliminate consumption of artificial ingredients. Inevitably an emotional shift occurs when we lose significant weight. Clean food choices, exercise, and community support change our energy, physically and psychologically. Deadened, dormant pieces of ourselves arise from their slumber and shift our awareness. Deep-seated, internal, heartfelt secrets emerge from the soul, awaken for healing, retrieval, and release. Speaking our truth, illuminating the untold stories and guarded spaces of ourselves, ultimately sets us free to live an enlightened existence of self-love, peace, and happiness.

When we physically change, the sacredness of secrets hidden within awaken our senses. Releasing imprisoned emotions requires courage to bare the bones of our hurt, alleviate our pain from the past, and shed the stale crusts of our core, ignored, buried, and shut out from the light. These shadows deter life’s full potential, limit possibilities, and diminish self-worth. Shielding ourselves from truth, we fear its existence and the vulnerability that lurks with possible exposure. Yet that vulnerability is the exact necessity for strength and healing. The hidden pieces of ourselves must find light, awareness, and visibility in order to heal, mend, and alleviate buried pain. Without this nakedness of being, we lay injured, in disrepair, and immobile. Love, worthiness, and healing are the precepts for change, strength, and connection.

Hardwired for connection, vulnerability, truth, and empathy are its foothold. To have a sense of belonging, we must feel worthy, illuminate our authentic selves through truth, and access the deepest depths of our hearts. Mutual exposure with others forms human bonds where empathy lives. Accessing “me also” from another strengthens vulnerability, an empowered feeling and weaving of connection. Even if our experiences are different, we walk in the other’s shoes in our mind’s eye to share the sacred space. Taking the risk to reveal our inner selves to entrusted friends, therapists, or relatives, has rewards. Exposure to those who do not have our backs, may warrant some falls in the process. While failed connection may occur, entrusted confidantes holding your story and pain with safety, empathy, and love is worth the risk.

As the body transforms into a stronger, thinner, and exposed version of our old selves, so, too, will our insides shift. A supportive network of people is necessary to carry our truth, healing, and pain. Aloneness, independence, and sole survival were never meant for humankind. Delving into our past reveals our true selves, alleviates the wounds, and stirs inner change. Although an internal process, community rises up in support. When the shift hits the fan, life happens. It spins, sputters, and spits out the dust of life experiences, awaiting cleanup. Should we allow the dust to settle upon the sills of our lives, it remains untouched until stirred by the winds of change. Body transformation is the ultimate in unsettling our dust. Worth exploration, worth risk, and worth pain to heal the inner wounds, we enable true worth of our existence to rise from the ashes with the support of community. We are worthy of this greatness!

Challenge the Mundane

Opportunity knocks at the most interesting, inspirational, and even during the dry, does-not-seem-like-anything-is-really-happening-at-all-moments.  Sitting around a kitchen island while my children eat organic macaroni and cheese is hardly an exciting experience in one’s life, yet my inventive spirit often challenges the mundane.  Today is no different. 

As they eat their food with child-fun utensils, a yellow fork in my son’s hand that looks like a bulldozer scooping out his food, and my daughter with a fork shaped like a train, I make a protein shake in the blender.  Experience has taught me that my two-year-old does not welcome abrupt noises; creative approaches are a necessity.  As I am about to hit the On button to the blender, I announce lift off will occur in minus ten seconds, and the count down begins.  Within a 10, 9, 8, my eyes widen to communicate that their participation is necessary to continue.  Then in unison, the count down meets shouts of excitement, “7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.” “Blast off,” I yell, as the blender takes off, pulverizing ice cubes, swishing water in every direction, and combining protein powder until no longer a dry, fine particle exists.  Within seconds, the mixture is compounded by the release of turbo boosters, and “Boom”, with the flip of a button, the high position goes on, as the noise level rises.  A few moments later, the air is silent as the off button is engaged, but the smiles of this trio continue to unite and glow.  Our spirits like to pretend, and the energy that is moved from such moments brings a carpe diem attitude. 

Within a few minutes, my six-year old daughter looks down at the floor beneath her dangling feet, and announces quite nervously, “Look mom, ANTS!” Then without provoking him, my son joins in, “ANTS! ANTS! ANTS!”  I run to their side of the island to see a swarm of hundreds of ants, mainly crawling upon cereal that had fallen aimlessly from the counter earlier, from my son’s breakfast spoon.   My smirk and bewildered look show amusement and amazement at the scene upon me.  The ants are attacking Mighty Bites, gingerbread man-shaped cereal.  It looks like killer ants are attacking people, a scene from a horror film.  My eyes dart back at my children; I see expressions that are neither amused, nor amazed, only bewildered and interested on what my next step may be.  I look up with a gentle smile, a curious look to show my mind wandering freely, and then state matter-of-factly that an opportunity is upon us.  I grab a napkin and kneel down to push the ants towards a circular pile.  My words loudly pierce their ears,”An opportunity is upon me to be brave in the face of the ants that are marching one by one, hurrah.” 

As I begin wiping the ants to the center, I am repeating the words, “Gross, gross, gross, I am really grossed out, but this is an opportunity to be brave.  See? This is what it means to be scared of something, but do it anyway.”  I then go underneath the sink to retrieve some type of ant-killing spray.  Gathering ants to a circle, as they try to escape, is not helpful for disposing of ants.  I did not find any ant-killer anywhere, since potent, toxic spray of such sort is kept in the garage.  Not wanting to leave my children, I searched for an alternative insect destroyer.  This was no time for collecting ants and setting them free outside, as we had done countless times. 

I found a can of Lysol, anti-bacterial cleaning spray.  My knowledge about its toxicity is that it is enough to keep under the sink in a locked, childproof cabinet.  With lemon freshness, I spray the ants with vigor, as my children question my technique; “What’s that, mom?  Will they die?” I speak the truth when I say, “I don’t know.”  Sure enough, the spray sends out a glorious lemon-fresh scent while ants seemed to be stopped in their tracks. 

In celebration, I wipe up the ants and leftover Mighty Bites with a paper towel and begin to march while singing, “The ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah.  The ants go marching ….”  My youngsters, thinking that this looks like fun, join in harmony and we march together around the kitchen, hands raised, and with a rhythm in our step. 

The opportunity to seize the day adds energy to our spirits.  We are uplifted, engaged in life’s music, and we find a shared connection between us.  The contagious laughter that spreads throughout the kitchen, the smiles that emanate across our faces, and the joy that fills our hearts to make the most of every situation that arises, is a strong boost to the mood of the day.  Bringing the dull, uneventful day-to-day experiences into energetic, musical adventures full of gusto, rocket ships, cleaning with Lysol the ants that attacked the fallen Mighty Bites, add such exuberance to our lives.  My only hope is that my children entertain the thrills that the ordinary offers them, to see them as opportunities of entertainment, problem-solving, facing one’s fears with bravery and action.  With a blender, some ants, Lysol, and with song, anything is possible.

As I start to ponder the incredible energy that entered our realm so inconspicuously, my daughter says, “Can we go outside and play now?” as if we were not playing already.  May non-playing always be fun opportunities to seize the moments of the ordinary, transforming them into the extraordinary adventures they potentially possess.  May our inventive creativity always challenge the mundane.

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