Friday, February 26, 2010

Cleansing Body, Mind, and Spirit

It's been awhile since I've been prompted to write. But it makes sense, since I've gone into a type of February-esque end-of-winter hibernation. So much has been on my mind with the kidney episode and the resulting hospital bills that I felt something had to change. I suppose it's the state of our Healthcare here in the U.S. and hope I don't offend anyone, but frankly, it needs help. Because even though I have health insurance, and they have done their part in making it somewhat reasonable, it's still astronomical. And nowhere in the process was I told how to prevent the episode again.

So, mindful that the responsibility of my health care ultimately lies with me, I somehow landed in a cleanse and...Warning: about to get graphic, leave now if bodily things make you squeamish....colon hydrotherapy. And from there am finally ready for a transition--easing into a healthier, mostly raw food lifestyle, which frankly I have missed, but because of my addiction to food (yes, I am one of those people) have not been able to manage.

Also, because organic raw foods seem cost prohibitive. But reflecting on my past raw food experience, I actually ate less because my body was more nourished, cravings disappeared (woohoo!), and just wasn't as hungry as long as I made sure to eat regularly. Which, with my usual Standard American Diet habits, I tend to graze all day. And usually sugar is involved. In great quantities. Eating a highly processed diet, I never seem to be giving my body the nourishment it craves. So by taking that kind of care now, I'm hoping to save in preventative health care down the road, because as recent hospital bills attest, it's too outrageously expensive to afford long term.

The nice thing about this cleanse is that it is supervised; I'm working with a homeopathic practitioner who advises and provides me with nutritional support, as well as guidelines (and holding me accountable). Because of her, I have been remarkably detox  free--other than occasional tiredness/testiness, which is astonishing because in previous cleanses I endured high levels of detox symptoms (body releasing stored toxins) like headaches, skin outbreaks, etc. Thanks to my practitioner, the only symptoms are emotional; the effects of emotional withdrawal basically, from leaving a food addiction. Having the herbal supports are a lifesaver, because even though I don't currently work out of the home, as a single mom I have my children and our home and the day-to-day management and caretaking to tend to not to mention my farm(Ville)...

So 10 days in, with still more to go, I have some idea of where I will land, but will post about the results when in maintenance mode. Because for the first time in a long time I'm motivated again. And hopeful and inspired, and can picture finding quality work before long as necessity requires, and finally feeling confident that I can actually do it. I'm also feeling happier in my body again, a feeling I've missed since my raw food days. I feel stronger, healthier, more peaceful, and more clear. And clarity I have missed most. Underlying it all, there's an excitement brewing, that I'm getting back into the game of life.

Now, one of my sticky wickets is...exercise. Unlike my Ironman girlfriend from Massachusetts who astounds me with her discipline, and my ex who LOVED to go to the gym (probably to get away from me), I prefer a more lazy laid-back approach. I loved taking Tai Chi, bellydance, and yoga classes. But my favorite standbys (since I am more bookworm-ish than athletic) are yoga and Oxycise, in the comfort of my home (maybe I'm just comfort addicted). Since I also love hiking (and snowshoeing) hopefully I'll be healthy enough to climb a few local mountains--one of the more wonderful byproducts of living in Utah--by summer.

I'm excited to share this process with you; including photos (silly people, that's not actually me in the top photo), because the changes--inner as well as outer--are monumental. Oddly, the inner ones--feeling joyful and happy with whatever part of me I get to bring to life--are exciting me as much as the outer, more obvious ones.

Dare I say it? I'm a having a blast partying with myself. Come mealtime, I don't mind not eating the food my kids are eating, but drive them crazy by smelling it (the addiction part). Hopefully with time that will no longer be an issue. And don't tell them, but I'm hoping they will feel more like picking up some veggies and fruits themselves as this process continues. Healthy mom, healthy kids, who could ask for more?

Meanwhile, I look forward to the day when this fasting/cleansing stage is done and I can dine on green smoothies, salads, and fresh whole foods! I'm already salivating over a raw food pea casserole which another dear friend shared years ago (maybe she'll let me share the recipe with you) and is to-die-for (it has mushrooms, people!). And that's what I'm craving; fresh, crisp, savory flavors of whole foods again, instead of needing to medicate with old sugar/caffeine comforts.

It makes a body smile.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Virtual Valentine

I can't tell you how excited I am this week, and getting more agitated the closer we get to the western world's love culture--known even in kindergarten circles as--St. Valentine's Day. Heralded in the stores with love tokens right after New Year's, it gives retailers an early boost and the rest of us something to celebrate. We Utahns get through our winters honoring all the celebrations we can dig up out of the snow. And of course nothing says love more eloquently than the holiday venerated around the world. But I digress.

My excitement stems not from the fact that I am in a relationship with a boyfriend/lover/husband. No, if I focused on my divorced singlehood with any energy I might actually get a little depressed. But you see, the virtual world has given those of us without significant others a lifeline to capture our hearts within the labyrinth of cybergames. Yes folks, I'm talking about FarmVille. Again. You do know that's where I am when I'm not here with you (which probably explains why there is no significant other)?

The caring folks at Zynga have generously given us farmers the expanding mailbox. Lovers/friends/families/total strangers befriended for just such purposes--send you cuddly teddy bears, love letters, heart-shaped chocolate boxes and flowers JUST FOR YOU. Now, from a technical standpoint the gifts give you cash, fuel to run your tractors (how romantic!) experience points to level you up in the game, and sometimes random surprises (here's a horse guys!). The more feverishly you monitor your friend's/families's/stalker's activity feeds, the more you collect these romantic trinkets.

Suddenly your mailbox is brimming over and you are harvesting the fruits of love. See, that's what this does, you start to feel so popular (I know, right?) because they even have some kind of competition thing going, where you are ranked. Just think how loving you feel when you are compared to someone you care about (well, at least, have included in your Facebook enclave), and are told you have more Valentine's gifts than they do and therefore are more loved/loveable than your neighbors! Yeah, because competition always brings out the compassionate side of humanity.

But there is something about the egoic mind structure that gets incredibly excited at the thought that with every gift, someone actually thought about YOU (enough to send you cyber-crap!) and to the mind, that translates to LOVE. And I have fallen for it; wallowing in the deliciousness of my mailbox valentines. I feel shamelessly giddy because my FarmVille mailbox is littered with so much Valentiney-hearts-and-flowers junk that I am practically melting with the thought of all that love. Which kinda makes up for the whole singlehood thing. Because I am obviously that shallow.

Of course, most of the gifts come from my kids and friends, there's no actual romance involved, but it still feels good. And so you have to wonder, how can something that isn't even real mean anything? Especially something so meaningful as L-O-V-E? Yet freakishly, it does. It brings me to a hearty state of gratitude, and that feels--emulating my FarmVille pigs--worth wallowing in.

For some actual heartfelt thoughts on gratitude, join Susan Mazrolle as she talks about experiencing gratitude in grief as well as joy. As she says, "A grateful heart cries; a grateful heart laughs. A grateful heart is open." And that my friends, is real.

Happy Valentine's Day to you. May your hearts be filled with joy and ...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Grace of Wisdom

Last night was another sleepless one. Thanks to a persistent migraine--probably from trying to watch the 3D tribute to Michael Jackson on the Grammy's without 3D glasses--I could not shut my mind up so around six a.m. I gave up, picked up some not-so-light reading, and came across something to share.

In her book Defy Gravity, Caroline Myss asks us to consider what the grace of Wisdom represents, which she defines as "The presence of God unfolding guidance within the events of your life while you seek to respond with wisdom in the midst of the changes."

Earlier she talked about what God is, and I like her view that "Out in the vastness of external space, the only force that exists is a sense of divine, nameless Light--no costumes, no churches, no synagogues, no ashrams, no mosques, nothing. Just Light." That's a pretty bold statement, but at essence it feels as true as anything else. That doesn't mean we can't use the costumes, churches, etc. to bring us closer to the embrace of Light, if that's what it takes.

Throughout her book she quotes Buddha and Jesus and Mohammed and other faiths so I don't think she has a problem with using them as 'pointers', and quoting Eckhart Tolle (I think he might be quoting Buddha here), just be careful not to mistake the pointer for the Truth. I've also heard 'don't mistake the finger pointing to the moon as the moon itself.'

But back to wisdom. Caroline goes on to say--and I so love this--"You cannot ask why did this happen to me? In situations of loss or pain, such a question assumes an injustice has been done that requires an explanation." I can't tell you how many times I've ridden that fruitless merry-go-round.

Then she says something I have begun to suspect; "All crises have more than one level of origin--the level you can see and the many other levels of influence that rise as high as the cosmic plan of evolution and the common destiny of humanity." Halleluja! I can stop blaming the ex, my grandson's adoptive parents, the government, the fill-in-the-blank.

She goes on; the question you must ask yourself then is "How wisely do I want to perceive this? Do I want to see this situation through wisdom or through woe?" Woe is the result of taking events personally, as if all pain and suffering were intended just for you." Well, I wonder how long it will take for this one to sink in--to live it and not just know it--because frankly, this is HUGE.

"Wisdom is the choice that recognizes pain and suffering as part of the human experience. It is inevitable that we will cause each other to suffer in some way." This seems to happen regularly within the circle of people we interact with, and the closer the relationships the more likely--family, friends, co-workers, all of it. "At times these actions will be deliberate and at times they will be unintended. It is wise to recognize yourself in everyone else. (bold highlighting mine).

This perspective is something you find in Byron Katie's Inquiry, what she calls, The Work. What I love about inquiry is that in the end, you really do start to see yourself in everyone, which makes for a more compassionate perspective. Caroline adds, "Wisdom allows you to melt into others, and the more you melt, the more compassion is awakened." Well bingo, I've just connected some dots.

In the heart of her discourse on wisdom, Caroline invites us to "Seek the wise response in all the events of our lives" and some questions she suggests we ask ourselves include:

  • What changes am I fighting that are bringing me pain?
  • If I am in pain, am I taking something personally that has nothing to do with me?
  • Am I blaming someone for something that would have happened anyway?
I left this reading with a deeper appreciation for wisdom and gratitude for the more painful events of my life. Maybe it really is all for our awakening.

I also like Caroline's focus on the good of the whole, or everyone, not just our little speck of self. She adeptly shows the difference between the work of the ego and the work of the soul. And that, my friends, makes for good reading.