DAY THIRTEEN


value of a moment

When I began my cleanse and committed to blogging about it every day, I had no idea how difficult it would be to not seem redundant and mundane each day. Despite what seems like a roller coaster ride, my life has not changed all that dramatically in the past two weeks and my days are actually quite normal and kinda boring. Trying to connect dots and find meaningful ways to share my experience has been one of the more challenging aspects. I suspect, from the outside, reading each blog post may be just a recitation of what I ate, if I worked out and how much angst I could drive to the surface and neurotically analyze. I often wonder why we share these experiences the way we do and why others decide to voyeuristically join us for the ride. But, alas, we are all here so let’s see how today went….

What I consumed:

  • Cleanse Shake with strawberries, pineapple and banana
  • Salmon sashimi with sesame oil, ginger and lemongrass
  • Steamed cauliflower
  • Chicken with lemon, olive oil and shallots
  • Sauteed spinach
  • Steamed brussel sprouts
  • Quinoa
  • 19 gigantic supplement capsules
  • 64 oz water

It feels like the world has opened up to me now that protein is a part of the plan. Lots of wonderful options and delicious flavors tantalizing my taste buds

How I felt:

I felt great today. I woke up before my alarm at 5:30 this morning and I suspect my sleep patterns have shifted. Definitely feeling the difference in my body. There is no debating it at this point.

Physical Activity:

No gym for me today because I had meetings starting at 7:30am.

Today presented some new challenges and, ultimately, some wonderful opportunities to try on my new skills. I had my first lunch in a restaurant today. Being committed to sticking with my plan, I looked online at menus to see which places might have options for me. I am not afraid to ask for special preparation of my meals when I go out but I knew today would present a variety of challenges. Fortunately, a local restaurant had a great option of salmon sashimi that turned out to be incredibly delicious and completely on the plan. I was very pleased with myself because I was laser focused on staying true to my cleanse and did not even think about wandering off course. There was bread on the table throughout the meal and, even though it looked delicious, it never tempted me.

The second challenge came late in the afternoon when I dropped by a friend’s for a happy hour jewelry party. I knew there would be lots of yummy treats along with wine. Having not had a drink in weeks, the wine was the riskiest threat for me. Yet, I went to the party and stood in the dining room as food was passed and everyone was drinking and eating. Again, not once did I even think about the food and I even got some of the other guests excited about doing the cleanse when I shared my experience and told them of my results. The energy that came from sharing my story was so intoxicating that even a bottle of wine could not have made me feel better.

One of the things that I have found noteworthy in the past few weeks is how I have used my blog and my own writing as a support mechanism. Not being on Facebook and feeling somewhat isolated because of the lack of the social interaction that Facebook fabricates for me, I decided to turn to myself as a friend. As I sometimes do, I sought out advice from myself by reading my old blogs and seeing what wisdom was transmitted. I’m fascinated when I read my old writings because it is a living documentary of my evolution. I can typically place myself back in the head space I was in at the time of the writing and sometimes I feel a little embarrassed at how foolish I sound or how trite some of my thought processes are. And, sometimes, I am amazed as the level of insight I possess and how powerfully my own words still resonate with me. I love to archive anything I can for later viewing. As a child, I kept journals. Sometimes they were sheets and sheets of loose leaf paper with my most personal thoughts – my crushes, my hopes and dreams, my disappointments. Sometimes they were cute spiral bound notebooks with pictures of kittens and puppy dogs and the pages were filled with fictional stories that depicted the life I wish I had. Year after year I would fill my notebooks and then go back and read to visit with myself from an earlier time. I found it comforting then and still do today. It’s like the scratch marks you put in the doorway as you measure your children’s height year after year. In order to truly appreciate their growth you need to look at how far they have come.

Today, I decided to find solace in another document I have archived. Last year my phone ran out of storage space and I went about the task of deleting apps and photos in order to make room for new content. In the process, I noticed that my text messages were taking up a huge chunk of inventory on my phone. Upon further investigation, I found that I had saved over 19,000 text messages that were exchanged between me and my best friend in the past 2 years. No, I am not a teenager and yes, my friend and I text A LOT. In June, I shared the story about my experience of trying to let go of the text messages in my blog. I knew that I could not just let them go for there had to be some reason why I had saved them for so long. My friend and I were going through a rough patch at the time so I was not able to see clearly enough what the texts represented and why I needed to preserve them. So, I found a compromise for myself and was able to download them into an app and save them into a PDF. An 1800-page PDF! Earlier this week I was thinking about the text messages and felt the need to glimpse back into those days to see if they would reveal anything to me. In the height of the emotional turmoil that resulted from the intensity of my detox, I was seeking out any messages that would help to shed light on my path. And, because my friend has been out of town and out of touch, I thought it might be a nice way to visit with him as I took a walk down memory lane.

On Monday I looked around my office for the thumb drive that stored the PDF. I couldn’t locate it. I thought, perhaps, that I did not actually store it on a thumb drive and, instead, kept it saved on my hard drive. Then I remembered that I had gotten a new desktop computer in my office and had erased the hard drive on my old computer and gave it to my husband. My heart sunk when it seemed apparent that my memories were lost. I thought to text my friend on his vacation and ask him if he had saved the thumb drive I gave him with the text messages (he is less nostalgic than me and generously humored me by taking a copy at my request) but then chose not to bother him with such a minor matter. I would wait for him to return and hope that he still had a copy of the file. This weighed heavy on my mind all week because I felt like I had lost an important piece of my history – a critical component of our story. Like the boxes that my husband and I each have of letter and mementos from our early days of dating and the crates that I have filled with pregnancy tests, ultrasound photos, baby clothes and special memories from each of my children’s early days, this PDF was a marker of the beginning of something important. As each day progressed without me finding the file, I felt heartbroken. It reminded of me of the time I flew to Florida when I was 8 years old and left my photo album on the airplane, never to be recovered. I lost memories that could never be replaced.

Then today, I was on a conference call and was digging through my laptop bag sitting next to me, in search of a pen. I felt something in one of the pockets and dug up a thumb drive tucked deep inside. My heart raced as I pulled it out and shoved the drive into the USB port on my laptop. I could no longer hear what anyone was saying on the phone because all I could hear was my heart beating in my chest as I pulled up the drive and looked to see the contents.

And there it was!

After dinner, when I had some quiet time, I opened up the PDF and decided to read through some of the exchanges. I have done this before and it makes me smile to see the silliness of our chatter. It comforts me to revisit so many important experiences that we shared via text message. As I shared last week in my blog, because of the geographic distance between us, our friendship is heavily centered around texts. It is how we do so much of our communication which is both good and sometimes really not so good. Today, I was warmed once again and found myself smiling as I read through them but I also had a different reaction. This time, I was reading the exchanges a little differently. I was trying to feel the tenor of my comments. Memories flashed through my head as I remembered experiences and had visions of where I was as I typed many of these messages. Even though the correspondence transpired over the past three years, many of the messages seemed like I was reading something from twenty years ago. Despite believing that I was in tune with myself, my dialogue clearly indicated how much I was hiding from the truth about myself. The clarity today was about how much I have changed – and how much the relationship with my friend has evolved. While fun and silly and absolutely adorable, our texts lacked dimension and depth. On the surface, there were revelatory conversations with me acknowledging issues that I struggle with (some that still ring true today like my challenge to ask others for help), yet I was dancing around the deeper matters that were the roots of my difficulties. And, as I was able to recall the experiences that were not captured in the texts but surrounded the discussions, I was able to make out the foundations of behaviors and expectations that were being established. When I fast forward the tape and look at how my friend and I communicate today and the depth and veracity of the conversations, I can really see the complexity and volume that the years have provided. And, I can also see how I got to where I am today as a result of some of the things I said and did all those years ago.

After a short while, I had to stop reading because I felt like I was watching an accident about to occur – like watching a movie and you know exactly when the villain is going to jump out and grab the victim. While I cherish those memories, I also am disturbed to see how much pain I was in and how destructive my behavior was, despite the subtlety of it. I can see, by reading my own words, the patterns of my own behavior that resulted in turmoil for me. Although, at the same time, I am buoyed by the fact that my relationship with my friend is so incredibly strong and powerful that it miraculously withstood my own annihilative tendencies. Back then, my demons were well masked, dressed beautifully, decorated with makeup and jewelry and hiding the sadness and pain that I was not prepared to reveal. I do believe that one of the remarkable aspects of my relationship with my friend is that he helped to create a safe space for me to let my darkness out. And, I know that some of our difficulties resulted from my inability to continue to camouflage my agony. So, once again, those messages take on a new meaning for me and my relentless memorialization proves immeasurably valuable.

I end this day feeling proud on so many levels. I look at my three-years-ago-self and know that I was just beginning to take the first steps on what has become a tiresome journey towards peace. Perhaps what has felt like disruptions during this cleanse process were actually the new realities settling in. I no longer hide from what is uncomfortable and, sometimes, my truth is a bitter pill to swallow. I think this intense self-reflection has actually resulted in a moment of getting adjusted to a new way of being that I hadn’t fully acknowledged. Whatever the case, I feel certain that I have come a long way and, while I clearly still am fighting old battles, I have a much deeper understanding of how to win this war. And that feels really good.

CLEANSE


cleanseI started a cleanse today.

30 days to rid my body of all the toxins that seeped back in over the past month or so.  30 days to get rid of the sugar addiction.  30 days to cure me of the bad habits I so easily fell back into.  I am hunkering down, committing myself and detoxing.

I’m excited about my cleanse because I can feel my body craving to be healthier.  I look at healthy food and my mouth waters and the sight of cookies and candy and big heavy meals exhausts me.  I have overdosed and my body is telling me it is time to switch.  This is not a new phenomenon as, every year, after the holidays I go through the same pattern.  My body yells in its loudest voice “STOP!” and, sometimes, I pay attention. Sometimes I am too busy shoving crap into my mouth to hear the screams from within.

As I sit here drinking my first protein shake and fiber supplement, I can’t help but wonder how I could dedicate the same attention to a spiritual cleanse.  I am so ready to break some troubling patterns of behavior and I know it requires the same level of commitment and exercise as this cleanse.  However, it is so much easier for me to strip down my caloric intake and consumption of foods I enjoy.  Sure, I get grumpy and have cravings but I persevere.  How do I apply the same principles to my emotional behaviors?  I am trying to develop a daily practice that will enable me to take a little personal inventory allowing me to maintain an awareness of my behaviors.  I so easily become numb to my feelings and distract myself when I am feeling sad or anxious. Instead, I need to embrace these feelings and work with them, rather than stifling them, shoving them away, rejecting them.  They are just as much a part of me as my feelings of joy and comfort.  They are the yin to my yang.  They are part of my complete picture.

In my coaching group, I led the women in my group through guided journaling with a regular daily practice of acknowledging their feelings of gratitude and disappointment for the day.  This enabled them to understand the highs and lows of each day and use that information to help them with their journeys.  I do the same thing with my children at dinner each night.  Since my older son was in preschool we would ask him, and then his brother as he got older, to share two good and one bad thing from his day.  This is a practice that has become commonplace in our house and when we have dinner guests, we ask them to participate.  We began this ritual to help our children share more detailed information about their days and it has become an important part of our daily routine.  Nowadays, we still use it to gather data that they otherwise might not share and, with their growing maturity, it provides my children with an opportunity to process important information about themselves that might be difficult or confusing.  We get to discuss things together and acknowledge that life is continually filled with ups and down and all of it is critical.

I’m ashamed to admit that I have not engaged in this exercise individually, even as I have led my group or shared with my family.  I have not taken a deeper look at what it guiding me both from a positive and negative standpoint on a daily basis.  It is usually only after I hit a speed bump that I reflect back and try to understand the challenges that I was facing at that time.  In order for me to truly change the behaviors that I am looking to get rid of, I need to be extremely present and conscious of what is happening at all times.  That requires me to feel my feelings when they show up and process them rather than running from them or shooing them away like an annoying pest.  I know myself well enough that when I squash my feelings again and again, they show up in the most unpleasant ways.  It is that behavior that creates emotional reactions.  It is that disrespect for myself that I lash out at and create self-sabotaging behaviors.

So, baby steps.  There is no kit or package I can purchase to cleanse my soul.  It is a much more arduous task but one that I am ready for.  It requires me to tap into some excellent skills that I already possess (but sometimes forget that I have).  For today, I am going to commit myself to start journaling.  I am going to take stock in my gratitude and disappointments daily.  I am going to take that information and work with it.

This is a good first step.  I encourage all of you to do the same!

MISSING


“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brene Brown

I am currently working on a very meaningful project – coaching someone to help them uncover their story.  I love this for so many reasons but mainly because I am helping them find their story to authentically and passionately share with others the importance of the work that they are doing.  It is an exciting journey for them because they are being pushed to explore aspects of themselves in ways they may not have before and it is interesting for me because I am challenging myself to be present on their ride and partake in the same activities.  Part of my role is to provide journal prompts each day to encourage them to write.  The prompts are often benign and are intended to simply get them to explore some thoughts and put them down on paper.  I’m not particularly interested in what they write.  I simply want them to write.  But, of course, the mere exploration of thought creates pathways to information and the act of scribing creates further connections and suddenly stories are unfolding right in front of you.

Yesterday, I offered up a prompt to write about someone that you miss, dead or alive.  I put no parameters around this topic because I wanted them to explore on their own who they missed and why and, perhaps, what it meant to miss someone.  Do you miss someone because they are no longer part of your life?  Do you miss someone because they have passed on?  Do you miss someone at that very moment even if you are going to see them the very next day?  The exercise was intended to allow them to journey along all those lines.  As I am trying to parallel the exercises and simultaneously write on the very same topics, I commissioned myself to tackle the same subject…and fell short.  With each journal prompt, I also ask that we write about something that we are grateful for and/or something we are disappointed about from our day and, last night, I got really hung up on the first part.  I focused on my lack of gratitude, which was, conversely, a source of disappointment for myself.

Ironically enough, I am not someone who enjoys journaling because, for me, it sometimes seems forced and I am often harshly critical of what I write.  Because I typically write with the intention of having others read it, I am extremely focused on my choice of words, the deeper messages and having compelling content.  And, of course, that is exactly what journaling is not and exactly why I should spend more time on that activity.  Journaling is most powerful as a tool to allow for a free stream of thought to enable you to find those pathways to your inner voices.  I recognize that it’s nuts that I resist it and, as a result, I am forcing myself to take advantage of this opportunity to embrace the art of journaling if only to have some connection and authenticity with this project.  What comes from it will only be the icing on the cake.

Last night when I set out to write about someone I miss, I struggled.  I could not really come up with anyone that I missed so much that I wanted to write about it.  There are a lot of people that have been a part of my life that I do not have any connection with anymore because of life circumstances.  I do miss some of them and, sometimes I feel badly about the role I played in our disconnection.  I miss what they used to mean to me and I feel sad about the fact that, in many cases, I allowed the person to slip out of my life.  There are also certainly people who are currently a part of my life who I do not see very often and I surely miss them.  In truth, some of the people that I am closest to live at a great distance from me so I am constantly missing them but that has become a regular, ordinary characteristic of my life.  I don’t like to write about it because it frustrates me and also makes me very sad.  So, ultimately, I avoided the topic entirely and I ended up spending my time writing about my own disappointment in myself for not feeling more grateful and for letting myself continually get caught up in malaise rather than focusing on the positive aspects of my life.  The subconscious thoughts about how missing people makes me feel bad surely inspired a whole lot of negativity towards myself and was a perfect platform to display my deep levels of disappointment in myself.

This morning, as often happens when I am returning from dropping my kids off at school, I took a few minutes for some self-reflection and started thinking about the exercise again (yes, this is how this stuff works.  A simple little prompt can permeate your thinking and just sit with you for days.  It’s pretty awesome).  With a somewhat clear head, the loud and resounding noise was that the person I missed most right now was me.

I’ve gone away.  I have allowed myself to get caught up with the messiness in my life.  I focus on all the things wrong and nothing that is right.  I have become blind to the beauty around me like the rich fall colors and the fragrant aromas of the season that so often make me feel whole and connected.  I feel disappointment in myself in regards to many areas of my life.  I am harshly judging myself and critical of my thinking and endeavors. I am, as the brilliant Brene Brown would say, caught up in a shame spiral.   She says that “shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”  That is a potent message and, when I reflect on my life right now, it truly represents how I feel and why I miss myself.  I miss the person who rises above and feels tremendous gratitude for all the richness and texture that makes up my life.  I miss the strength that I typically exhibit to work through the clutter and chaos and the pride I feel for having muddled through and come out the other end feeling confident and powerful.  I miss waking up every day looking forward to the challenges before me and going to bed at night feeling tired but inspired and excited about what comes next.

I miss me.

The good news, I suppose, is that I can see myself in the distance and know that I am not far away.  And, chances are, it will likely not be too long before I return.  However, in the spirit of honoring this exercise, I will recognize that the person I miss is me and I will pine for myself and encourage myself to find my way back.  I will, like any good friend, extend a hand to help myself back up the hill, shout out directions as I traverse the rocks and catch myself if I slip.  And, until my return, I will keep on missing me and will remember another passage from Brene:

“Shame resilience [is] the ability to practice authenticity when we experience shame, to move through the experience without sacrificing our values, and to come out on the other side of the shame experience with more courage, compassion, and connection than we had going into it.”

She says, “shame derives its power from being unspeakable…language and story bring light to shame and destroy it.”  So, I guess this little exercise, this benign journal prompt is exactly what I need to help myself as only I can.