“What I am really saying is that you don’t need to do anything, because if you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomenon of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of the galaxy. You are all just like that, and there is nothing wrong with you at all.”
~ Alan Watts
I spent an amazing weekend with a group of women who were willing to really look closely at the stories that they tell themselves…. stories we ALL have– of our flaws, of our brokenness, of our mistakes and quirks and imperfections. Stories of shoulds and shouldn’ts, of roles we squeeze into that we’ve outgrown, of haunting curses, of deep judgments made by others that have somehow become part of our identity.
In all of my circle work, it’s grown more obvious that “not-enough-ness” is a chronic disease these days… spreading into the marrow of who we are, depleting us of hope for our own futures, keeping us blind to our own worthiness, tempting us to hate our own bodies.
There’s a strange twist of irony out there in the world right now, one that frustrates me to no end. The message is that we’re supposed to keep having a vision of who we want to be, keep striving, keep reaching for bigger and bigger and more and more… and yet, in so doing, we are coaxed into believing and are constantly reminded that we need to be fixed, embellished, enlightened, improved upon… and that there’s something inherently wrong or lacking with who we are right now.
When the truth is, right now is all we have.
No wonder the World Health Organization estimates that about 121 million people worldwide have some form of depression, and that an already ginormous number of people affected by anxiety is steadily growing by the minute.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot…. and wondering if the visions born from the empty places within us are likely not going to thrive, because they have become just something to live up to, rather than something to live within. We’re too busy trying to be something we’re not, rather than owning the gifts and strengths we already possess. We’re too busy looking for quick fixes rather than enjoying and celebrating the journey of simply being planted in all that we have going for us.
Yes, there will always be kinks. There will always be wounds that take longer to heal than others; embarrassing times when we fall flat on our faces or put our feet in our mouths; days when overwhelmed by life, we eat an entire plate of brownies; tragedies that crumble us; occasions when we (gasp!) expose our humanness for all to see.
These things are not the end of us…. they are not good or bad or right or wrong… those words are just the stories we tell ourselves to try and make sense of the mystery… of something that truly can’t be made sense of.
The kinks are what makes us holy. Whole. Complete. Enough.
And they supply the raw material we need in order to write a different story if we choose to….
…One of how we live each day, gobble up each experience, and fully inhabit who we are in this very moment.
Going into this cleanse that I’m now nearing the end of, I thought I knew what my body needed. Comparing it to the last time I did this, I thought I knew what to expect.
Well, that turned out to be a big bunch of hooey.
Because I’m a different person in a different body than I was a year and a half ago. And oh my goodness, has the detox these last couple of days thrown me for a loop.
Zero energy. Nausea. Headaches. Weepiness. Crankiness.
Yesterday, in some of my weaker moments, I found myself wondering…. am I making myself sick in order to become well?
It’s a curious question really… because I do trust that my body is being nutritionally supported by my medical food smoothies, and that everything I’m experiencing is quite normal when it comes to releasing toxins from one’s body…
I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I spoke to my nutritionist and she and others, especially those of us who had done this before, were experiencing similar things…
Could it be that we’re peeling back another layer of the onion and letting go in a deeper way this time?
And, well, gee, I considered myself pretty healthy before this thing– what the hell is being released?
And then that wild, intuitive me chimed in, and I was reminded… the cells within our bodies aren’t only nourished by the food we eat and the exercise that we do… they are affected by the joy we feel in our lives AND the stress we feel in our lives. They are influenced by how fully we show up for ourselves, AND how much we take for granted. They are transformed by how much of our power we give away to others, AND how much of our power we proudly own and give a voice to.
And so now I’m left wondering… in what ways can I stand to nourish my body more, knowing (or maybe not knowing) that I have the food and exercise part pretty much covered?
All good questions only lead to more questions…. in Indian philosophy, this process of inquiry is called Pariprasna, which in Sanskrit means “unceasing quest, unfolding perspectives.”
Life is certainly unpredictable. As soon as we think we really know something, we’re stumped again. And as I’m always, ALWAYS reminding myself, there’s no fancy finish line where all of the answers are waiting for me in a silver bucket. There will always be more questions, more paths to explore, more mysteries that make us go hmmmm.
Today is the final day of this phase of the cleanse. Tonight I can have a few steamed veggies of my choosing, and tomorrow, I can begin to ever-so-slowly add things back in…. a bowl a fresh fruit, perhaps a little bit of rice… and on Sunday, I’ll plan to have a piece of salmon or mahi mahi. However, this won’t be the last day I ask myself these three questions, for they are beautiful prompts for my story to keep unfolding as I marvel at whatever’s around the next corner…
~ What can I do today to truly take care of my body? Yesterday, my nutritionist told me that it might be a good idea have a small, simple green salad, ’cause it was very clear that my body needed something a little different. I have never been so present eating a bowl of only mixed greens and sliced cucumber. It felt so good to be putting fresh, raw things into my mouth again, and had I not just taken these things out of the refrigerator, I would’ve sworn that they were just plucked from the garden. I had a brand new appreciation of the flavor and the texture, and my mind felt a little clearer after eating it. Tonight when I have my steamed veggies, I will have the same respect, patience, gratitude, and acute awareness in regards to what I put into my mouth. In the meantime, I will rest, rest, and rest some more.
~ What can I do today to truly take care of my spirit? I can simply marinate in the questions…. and forget what I think I know. And I will trust that my body AND spirit are healing in more ways that I can even imagine.
~ And what toxic food/idea/behavior can I do without today? I’m letting go of the voices that say I’m being lazy. And that I should’ve worked on my painting or done this or that this week. And of course, I’m letting go of the need for solid, perfect answers.
I guess I forgot to knock on wood…
Boom! Wham! Slam! Kapow!
Yesterday afternoon, the big crash (that I was no longer expecting) came roaring in.
Be forewarned… I’m about to share waaaaay too much information…
It began with a little spotting and mild cramping… I knew that my cycle was due to start any day, but it doesn’t usually begin so timidly.
Then there was the gas that sent my family fleeing to the furthest part of the house from wherever I sat. And no kidding, my armpits could be smelled from miles away I’m sure. (Yup, I told you, T.M.I.)
Then there were the grumpies (it was unfortunate that my kids had a half day of school yesterday, as I had very little patience- it was like a week’s worth of PMS squeezed into a four hours!).
Then, the most peculiar part to me… my taste buds went completely bipolar on me, and the broth that I was raving about just hours before became the bane of my existence. I’m not talking about just-a-little-bit-blechy-but-oh-well. I’m talking about having to persuade myself through mild nausea in order to eat it. And it took every ounce of strength I possessed to make dinner for the kids last night and not sneak a finger-full of egg salad.
Add to that a sprinkle of cloudy, chilly mistiness, a splash of nine-year-old panic as my son Noah realized that he had to have all of his lines for a play he’s in memorized by today, and a hefty dose of drama from Deena’s side of the family….
Let’s just say that when I got into the tub last night, I squooshed into my way-too-small bathtub, took deep breaths of lavender steam, and dipped my ears under the water so that all I could hear was my heart beating… and I remembered… Ah yes. You’re detoxing. All sorts of weird and uncomfortable things are bound to show up out of nowhere. Just be gentle with yourself. All is well.
I’m unsure of what today will bring. There’s no telling how much hormones are adding to the mix, as this morning, my cycle finally began, and I’m feeling sluggy and vulnerable. I’m dreading the alkaline broth, and am hoping that my produce delivery comes early, so that I can make more Immune Power Soup.
But a thought hit me this morning that made everything seem a little more tolerable.
I remembered about a year ago, when I was curled up in a bathtub just outside of Atlanta, weeping and telling Deena the million reasons why there was no way in hell I was going to be able pull off the triathlon the next morning. I’ve never done anything like this. I’m way out of my league. I’m not an athelete. And WOW, did you SEE those hills?
And then about twelve hours later, I had completed the swim part (it was a miracle in and of itself that I didn’t drown), and was about halfway through the 19 mile bike trek. After tackling quite a few of the hills that I had previously assumed would be impossible, I was on a long, flat stretch of highway, and I burst into tears. Not because I was trailing behind everyone else or I because I wasn’t going fast enough. But because in that moment, I realized… holy crap, I’m doing this. And that was more than I ever had imagined I’d do. It was more than enough.
Well, I’m doing this. And I have no doubt that I’ll make it ’til the very end just like I crossed the finish line that day, but even that is just an aside. I’m doing this. Sure, there are big hills and small hills, but none of them are insurmountable. I’m doing this. Complete with la-la highs and heart-piercing lows. I’M DOING THIS.
I wonder what would happen if we took that perspective to every single part of our lives?
~What can I do today to truly take care of my body? Pay attention to what it needs most… which as of right now might mean a little bit of gentle yoga. I also tried blending up the alkaline broth into a puree, which is making it more palatable to me… let’s hope my taste buds don’t pull another switcharoo on me!
~What can I do today to truly take care of my spirit? Rest. I think I’ll watch Silver Linings Playbook today, and finally work on the painting I’ve been intending to work on all week, and nap. And try not to think so much.
~And what toxic food/idea/behavior can I do without today? Today, I’m letting go of that pesky notion that I have to be anything more or less than what I already am. Quirks and all.
“I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles.”
~Laurie Halse Anderson
Yesterday was a thousand times better than the day before… and this morning, when I ventured out to get an adjustment, I asked my chiropractor what she was noticing about my body, now three days into the detox….
It’s peaceful and open, is what she said. This made me smile, because I know that it’s true. Sure I’m a bit more sleepy today… it’s one of those dark, misty mornings when just about everyone is. And while my body doesn’t have the energy to go for a long walk right now (and under normal circumstances I’d be saying WTF), I can feel that amazing things are happening within me, regardless of my letting go of the effort. This week, I can simply be.
The “alkaline broth” has begun to be really delicious to me, without any embellishments. I played it safe at the beginning… I made a giant pot of Immune Power Soup, which is actually a regular dish at our house… still suitable for the cleanse, but with more flavor with the additions of garlic and ginger… and I swear, that stuff can knock a cold right off the face of the earth. I may or may not have added just a teeny tiny bit of salt, which may or may not have been against the “rules.”
But in the last twenty-four hours, I realized that I didn’t need the salt anymore. And this morning I dared myself to make the broth… I found it just so beautiful. A very simple soup of green beans, spinach, leeks, broccoli, bok choy, asparagus in nothing but plain ole water… so green, so naked, so vibrant, so full of life! And wow, tastier than I could have imagined it to be. My taste buds are certainly changing. I think I’m going to grab a bowl of it right now.
As far as mental clarity goes, on one hand, I’m clumsy, forgetful, and a little bit “out there,” as evidenced by the movie that I finally returned this morning, three days late. Let me tell you, for a Type A Taurus, this is highly unheard of. But on the other hand, I feel like the surface of a still pond, where you wonder, is that the reflection of the sky and the trees, or is there a whole other world down there? I feel really clear about what I want and what I must do to go after it. I feel connected and forgiving and ready.
Back in 2011 when I did this, I crashed right about now. I did NOT feel mentally clear. That came later.
I was a mess… tears, tantrums, you name it. Before the cleanse, I had been technically obese, and after, I had surprisingly moved to the “overweight” category. I had shed a lot more than pounds and fat though… and I remember especially that day of the crash, I released huge expectations I had of myself, I let go self-criticism, and I surrendered to the idea that I was capable of a lot more than I had previously thought… while at the same time grieving the bits and pieces of me that had to go.
It was only two months later that I signed up and began training for my first triathlon, and that my circles and writing and art evolved into something far deeper and more intricate than they had ever been before. I was entranced, invested, and engaged in my life, in more ways than you can count.
Curiously, I keep wondering when the crash is going to hit me this time.
And yet, I’m a different person now. These days, our monthly budget revolves around fresh produce and healthy food, and weekend priorities consist of walks and hikes, rather than movies and shopping. I no longer own a bathroom scale… I don’t measure myself with numbers anymore… instead I measure myself by how alive I feel, how deeply I experience things, and how many belly laughs I’ve had in a single day.
~What can I do today to truly take care of my body? I’m going to rest today… walk when I am called to, but allow my movement to be as simple and as nourishing as alkaline broth.
~What can I do today to truly take care of my spirit? I’m going to keep reminding myself that life has a lot more flavor than we often think… and if we try it without the salt, if we simplify and pare down to what really matters to us, we’ll be able to taste the richness that much more.
~And what toxic food/idea/behavior can I do without today? I’m going to stop waiting for or expecting the big crash. It may or may not come… and if it does, it’s just more stuff that needs to be released.
Just yesterday, I published my “going on retreat” sign.. to give myself a week away from my blog while I focused on painting, detoxing, and other “retreaty” kinds of things.
I should have known that wouldn’t last long. As I’m cleansing, I’m finding that the only way to stay somewhat grounded is to write. Whether it’s to you or me or the space in between doesn’t even matter. It’s the same stuff that needs to be said. So… of course… here I am. I love breaking my own rules.
Today is day 2 of the “Intensive Clearing Phase.” Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like, and quite frankly, I’m finding it a lot harder than I did the last time I did this back in the fall of 2011.
Yesterday, I felt starved all day long… and several times throughout the day, I questioned myself… why exactly are you doing this, Lisa? Isn’t this kind of torture the opposite of self-love, which is what you’re teaching your Wellness Tribe afterall?
These questions may have been partially influenced by the worried looks my circle gave me as we sat down to a veritable feast of healthy snacks this past Saturday to embark on, of all things, an exploration of mindful eating. I did not eat the soup that smelled so delicious, or the gluten-free corn flatbread, or the dip made out of beans and chocolate, or even the fruit salad for pete’s sake. I drank a smoothie and nibbled on a few almonds. No wonder they seemed worried.
So I thought it best that I return to the questions that are meant to open us up during this time… the same ones I answered every day of the cleanse starting HERE a year and a half ago. Because let’s be honest… the ones that I was asking myself yesterday were intended to give me a handy dandy excuse to join the kids in eating pizza for dinner (thankfully, I knew better).
~What can I do today to truly take care of my body?
Well, today, I will listen to it, hunger and all. I will be present with whatever it’s experiencing, and be grateful for the chance to do so. I will gently move when it wants to move, and I’ll be still when it craves stillness. I think that yesterday it slipped my mind that this week is a week all about pampering and nourishing myself… it was pretty much life as usual (without the food of course) until I sank into a long, steamy bath with epsom salts and lavendar oil last night and let Deena put my socks on afterward for me (sometimes it’s the smallest acts that are filled with the BIGGEST love).
~What can I do today to truly take care of my spirit?
I will work on a painting that’s been waiting oh-so-patiently for me to get back to it, and maybe curl up in my leopard chair and read some books I’ve been wanting to dive into. Above else, though, I will trust that this process is not self-torture… and that this is self-love in its highest form, born from wisdom and curiosity and the desire to refocus and gather myself up again after a tough winter of stress fractures, strange illnesses, and more cold, dark days than usual.
~And what toxic food/idea/behavior can I do without today?
I posted this for the Wellness Tribe just this morning… I suspect that I shared it more for me than for them:
Need I say more? I can exist without the voice in me that says I should be a certain way this week…. that I ought to perfectly execute the perfect detox, that I ought to be absolutely head-over-heels-in-love with the currently not-so-tasty smoothies that are providing me nourishment, that I ought to lose x amount of pounds, and that I ought to have all of my food issues cured… all by Friday.
Instead, I will be naked.