Monday, October 10, 2011

State of Grace, or, Once Upon a Pair of Pants...


About ten years ago now, I lost a lot of weight. Enough that I could fit down about three sizes of clothes. To celebrate my newly unwearable wardrobe, my sister, one of my best friends Lori and I went shopping. I was excited and tried on some pants I normally would never even consider wearing - leather pants. I walked out of the dressing room and my sister and friend teared up. They told me how beautiful I looked. How sexy. They told me they had never seen me look so hot.

I went back into the dressing room, took off the pants and started to cry. I kind of shattered into tiny pieces. I wasn't ready. I was terrified. My sister came back and asked if I was okay. I lied and said I was. Within a month I gained back all the weight I lost and then some.

I haven't really tried to lose weight since then. I've played around with the idea, but haven't really been willing to put myself out there and make it happen. My weight was comfortable. I felt safe. I felt... fine. But starting this blog last year was a step in a new direction, and this summer? Was in many ways the destination.

This summer, parts of me shifted. You can read about my summer here, but it was a wonderful, complex, difficult, insightful experience. I learned more about myself this summer than perhaps years of therapy could have ever taught me. (Not to knock therapy, I had some very meaningful insight in that process and highly recommend it.) This summer I learned about grace.

Grace sort of snuck up on me. Having lived my life thus far thinking I could control everything in my life, grace showed up and laughed at me. If I learned *anything* this summer,  I learned that I can't control everything. Heck, I can't control 'anything'. I realized I can't fix my friend's cancer, I can't make this experience 'okay' for her, her daughter or the rest of her family. One night, exhausted, unable to make myself drive that RV for one more day, full of grief and barely able to find one ounce of patience or compassion for myself or my friends, I had a breakdown in the hotel parking lot outside of Disneyland. I couldn't stand up and I couldn't stop crying. I sat on the slowly cooling asphalt and couldn't get my act together. Just like all those years ago in the dressing room, I felt all that anxiety and panic and fear overwhelm me.

But this time? When I put myself back together, I think I might have put the pieces back better. Instead of wrapping myself back into my weight, driven by my fear, I let go. Instead of grasping at the shore after the paralyzing wave of emotion washed over me, I let go. I moved away from the the idea that grasping onto the detritus along the shore was safer than moving through the current of my life. I let go of believing  that the shore was safer than 'swimming with god'. I let go of holding on to all the crap and allowed myself to be carried into the water away from shore. I felt liberated and I felt something inside me move out of the shadows and step into the light. I found the strong core of who I am step forward and act as a rudder in my life.

From that emotional low in the parking lot, I moved into what I can only call a 'state of grace'.  I wish I could explain it better. I wish I had the words to tell someone else what this feel like. Where I am in my life. But I feel... different. (I kinda want to break into the Westside Story classic, 'I Feel Pretty') I feel this sort of peace in my life. I realize I can't 'control' anything, but I can move with the flow of the water. I've been told that the only thing that moves with the flow of the water is a dead fish, but I disagree. I think that moving with the flow of the water is the best way not to drown. Learning to swim with the current is a heck of a lot less exhausting and much more fulfilling.

I started weight watchers again. I'm glad I did. The even nicer part is doing the program with someone. It's nice to cook for two and share the experience. There are three of us doing it together. God knows I have done WW probably 5 or 6 times, but this time? It feels like it is only an accessory to an already changed perspective on how and when and why I eat. I don't feel that desperation I felt before and I feel like I have a different relationship with food, with myself and with others. We are just doing the online part, not going to meetings, but so far I haven't missed them. I'm combining WW with the 12 step philosophy of taking things one moment at a time. Mostly, I'm just trying to remember to breathe.

This new space doesn't mean I didn't overeat this weekend. Doesn't mean I'm perfect by any means. But I do feel excited this time and letting go of ten pounds in the first week felt AWESOME. I don't expect those kind of results to continue, but I feel like this time if I follow the program, I'll see the results quickly.

This time, I'm going to come out of the dressing room happy and confident in who I am, no matter what shape or size.



Sunday, October 02, 2011

Reflections on Writing: Musings at the Edmonds Write on the Sound Author Conference.


October 1, 2011
(I wrote this yesterday while attending a writing conference. I think it is a good 'getting back into the groove of blogging', post)

I lasted 30 minutes in my first Writing Class today. After such gems as "The Internet is 'interactive'..."  and "You deserve the things you need to succeed..." I knew I might try to take the woman down... another big piece of insight? "Daily achievement comes from daily attention." Really? Bah. I walked out. I came outside to sit and look out at the water. Much better way to spend the morning. I wonder sometimes why in the world I don't do this more often. Just wake up, grab my computer, drive somewhere and just be. No agenda, no *need* to do anything or go anywhere. Just be outside near the water or the October leaves or whatever and just... be. Note to self... stop wasting the chances to make moments.

I love Edmonds. I would live here again if I could. I forgot how much I resonate with this part of the area. I may have lived in the rattiest shack with barely any indoor plumbing and no heat, but it was by far the best place I have ever lived. And I miss it. I miss smelling the water in the morning. Hearing the ocean roar in and out. Fishing out of my living room window - or at least being able to. Walking up and down the beach at any hour when the tide was low. Hearing the sea otters play outside my living room window. I miss all of it. I think I miss how I felt in the morning most of all. That feeling of waking up and knowing I was in exactly the right place in exactly the right moment. I feel that way when I wake up now, but there was something about waking up to the play of the water reflecting onto the roof of my bedroom that made it all seem almost surreal. I suppose I had to move on from the boathouse, but of all places I could have found to do some healing, it was certainly the most powerful.

There was one thing the woman said in the class I just walked out of that stuck with me - "Don't let anyone diminish your enthusiasm." I have a history of doing the opposite. In love, in life... it can be easy to set aside what makes my heart sing. I don't want to do that. What makes me passionate is my delight in living. As I sit here on this chilly Autumn afternoon, I sort of realize I haven't been able to really share that side of myself before with a partner. My friends delight in it and actually seek it out, but for the most part, my partners have not. Oh they've wanted *some* of me, but all of me? No. In fact, what I find interesting, is that I feel like in many of the relationships I've been in, it seems like my partner enjoyed making small cuts about that part of me. Like paper cuts to my heart that hurt like hell and bled for days. Tiny little comments. Tiny little digs to remind me that life *isn't* all that great and I'm juvenile to think that it is. After all, magic is nothing more than tricks of light and special boxes designed to deceive. Thinking I hear the voice of the Sound is romantic nonsense. I can remember apologizing for laughing too loud... or singing too loud... Or feeling happy. I sit here with my nose freezing, feeling the cold breeze off the Sound, staring out at the cloudy mountains and I realize in the last two years or so I have effectively eliminated those people from my life. And I feel good about that. I don't feel this connected to my world every day, but when I do? I want to be embraced for it, not belittled. It's this side of me that allows me to have an open heart. It's this side of me that nursed me through 'bitter' and 'angry'. It's the Tao of me. The part of me that is connected to the flow of everything. And it the part of me that I think has the most value. It's the part of me that loves. And while I might not be in this space all the time (which is clearly a good thing), when I am feeling like everything is right in the world, I want to be able to share it. :). 

Frankly, I can't even *blame* the people in my past. How angry can I be? We teach people how to treat us, and after all, *I* stayed. No one forced me to get chipped away at, and frankly most of my friends told me to get out. But, I wasn't strong enough to protect that fragile part of myself. I didn't stand up and say, "You know what? Don't talk to me like that." I just ate it. ALL of it. All the anxiety and fear that something was wrong with *me*. That somehow loving life was a negative thing. And too juvenile. But now? I'm not willing to do that anymore. Maybe that is a big part of why I am enjoying where I am in my life. Time for new patterns and new ways of being. One of which is going back to Weight Watchers. I've danced a few times with the program, and frankly? I kind of feel like I am in my groove about things without it, but it is always good to have accountability. So, I signed up and am looking forward to seeing the program from a new perspective.

I feel so connected today, so fully present. When I close my eyes... I hear the leaves making their crinkly autumn crunching. When I open my eyes, I see the bees making their last furious attempt at gathering pollen. The lavender behind me sways in the breeze. If I had to design a perfect day, I couldn't color it or scent it or craft it any more beautifully. More than anything, I want to bottle how I feel right now. I want to hold it and not let go. I want to taste each of these moments and remember what it is to be alive. Life isn't like that though, and what makes these moments beautiful is the letting go part. The not holding on. The trusting that there will be more moments... and each one will hand me its own secret. Maybe in my life, I really am learning not to hold on so tightly to that which I love...

I want to curl up in a cafe by the beach with my little mac laptop and write. I want you to sit next to me and just be there. I promise you don't have to say anything. Bring your favorite book, or a book you have to read for school, or pens to color your world. Just come share this moment with me. I think, today... I could sit and write and say nothing at all for hours, I hope you don't mind I don't feel like talking.

Thank god for my summer. Thank god for shattering into tiny little pieces. Because I am enjoying how I have put myself back together. I'm enjoying who I am. And I'm enjoying sharing it with you.