Category Archives: Project ME

Equinox

And just like that, it’s fall. I find myself restarting my fitness plan for the third time in as many weeks. I started to feel bad about that, until I took a hard look at the last three weeks. More workouts, less crappy food, more produce, less stomach issues. So even if I never “follow through”, even if I never finish this the way it was intended to be done, I’m still doing awesome things and maintaining a significantly better lifestyle, much closer to my ideal health and wellness goals.

And what’s better? I’ve got the kid working out with me. She’s six, and she’s happily sweating and stretching and lifting at my side. She likes it. She asks when we’ll do it again. It’s awesome. Although I do, now, feel pressure to make sure she’s not hearing body shame in these videos, which is surprisingly (maybe not?) pervasive. I don’t want her hearing that you need to sweat off the pounds or work off the donut. That’s crap. We move because we’re meant to. We sweat because it helps us live and work and study in better moods, with more energy to give to the tasks at hand. I’m hoping that’s the lesson she’s learning, at least mostly. I know I can’t control outside influences forever, but I can try.

Speaking of the kid, she’s two weeks into the new school year at a new school, and overall she seems to be doing really well, which makes me happy. We really struggled with the decision to take her out of private school, but the cost was breaking us and it meant never being able to do other things–everything from buying much needed new mattresses and school clothes to seeing movies or going on vacation–without guilt and/or further financial distress. So we moved her to a public school…and she’s doing just fine. She’s bored in class, but she was bored at the private school too, so atleast we aren’t paying for her to be bored. And she’s getting the chance to meet a much more diverse group of kids, which can only be good for her. And seriously, the joy this kid finds in buying hot lunch from the cafeteria every day is amazing.

The husband, as always, is traveling a lot for work. He hates being away, but it comes with the job, so we spend a lot of time on Skype and phone calls and email to stay connected, and then we celebrate his very existence every weekend and on the ocassional day that he’s home during the week. It happens now and again.

So we’re doing well, all told. I’m stupid excited for pumpkin season. The kid and I are both looking forward to a repeat of our ComicCon costumes for Halloween, and we’re in the process of researching all sorts of cool after school options for her now that we actually have a tiny bit of money to put toward enrichment programs, karate class, swim lessons, or whatever else strikes her fancy this year.

I’m really glad it’s fall. I’m yearning for the Mid-Atlantic fall weather, with cool breezes and crisp leaves and that smell in the air. Instead, I get more muggy Florida days for at least another month, but I can still enjoy the fall. I know it makes no sense, but it has always felt like a time of renewal for me, and this year it feels particularly apt that it’s happening…because it’s time. It’s time for a sloughing off of old habits and old thoughts, and turning toward some shiny new ones. It’s time to recommit myself to all the love I have around me, to giving and receiving it, to being grateful for it on a regular basis. When I focus on love–for myself, for others…it hardly matters which–everything else tends to fall more simply into place, and the world seems gentler around me. And that’s what I’m aiming for in the end. A life that feels at times thrilling, but more often than not just gentle. At ease with it’s own existence. Full of possibilities but striving for nothing more than simply being in the moment, the here and now.

Writing feels good, particularly now. I’m determined, among the swim lessons and school events and work crazies, to start making a little more time to write again. I have a partially finished, potentially wonderful story sitting on my computer breathlessly awaiting completion, and I have this blog, that has been the portal to so many meaningful connections in my life.

Thanks for being here.

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Push

We must be willing to LET GO of the life we’ve PLANNED, so as to have the life that is WAITING FOR US. — Joseph Campbell

Maybe I need to push myself out of complacency and into embracing belief in myself and commitment to my own joy. Otherwise, I settle for what’s familiar, what keeps me stagnant.

I’ve been having these thoughts for days–weeks?–now and I can’t let them go. I am in a strange space, where my body doesn’t feel good, and my head is foggy more often than not. I’m not fueling myself well, and I’m letting stress and escape trump even the movement I love so much.

I’ve been on this crazy journey, this mission to find myself and settle into my center, to find peace with my body and my head. And I’ve come SO FAR with that. I’m SO proud of the work I’ve done to begin the lifelong process of unraveling so many years of self-hatred. Except that somehow, in the last few months, something has been shifting. I didn’t see it at first, but I’m seeing it now. Little ways that I’m sliding back into old OLD habits…eating ONLY for emotional release, intentionally choosing negatively impactful foods, seeking out all the wrong things. In a time I thought I’d escaped, it was punishment. I found subtle ways to punish myself, in the guise of reward or treat or indulgence, for what I saw as my own lacking. Now…I don’t know what it is now. I don’t know if it’s that, or something new.

In the process of finding a safe space, I needed to be gentle, to sit back, to relax into myself. But now it’s time to push, to not remain in this place, to revisit the edges of my comfort zone and see what comes of stepping outside the boundaries of what I once believed limited me. I don’t know what that means, or what the next step is for me, but it’s time to find something. I’m hoping I can lean on some of you to help me find my way, because I’m feeling a little lost right now.

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In Stillness

I want…space. Space to breathe, to stretch, to create. I want lightness, ease, and more time to cuddle.

I can choose to be aware, or I can cruise through life mostly checked out. Lately, I’ve been checked out. I’ve been telling myself it’s because I’m just so busy…but whether that’s true or not, I can’t afford it anymore.

I’m fighting real anxiety these days, with physical hints of panic attacks just below the surface. I constantly feel like I’m barely holding on, and I can’t keep doing that to myself. I let it spiral in April, and now I’m midway through May and trying to pull it all back together.

I want truth. I want to be honest with myself, for myself.

I want to dress in ways that make me feel lovely instead of invisible. I don’t intend to abandon my nerd shirts, because they’re very much a part of my honest expression of self…but I want to be better about pushing the limits of what I think of as ‘comfort’ when it comes to my appearance, because what I really mean by that is that I’m choosing what’s easy, what’s familiar. It’s like I get dressed every morning and choose between feeling pretty and feeling comfortable, and I don’t think both is an option. It’s confusing and weird. I ordered one last Stitch Fix (that’s a referral link!) even though I haven’t had great luck with that, just because I’m hoping for something that works for me. I’m also considering Gwynnie Bee when our finances improve a bit.

I want to feel like I’m aligned with my own personal truths, with who I really am. I’ve felt aligned before, but right now I’m not even sure how to find that path, let alone get back on it.

I need to feel stable, to feel safe. I need to stop feeling the world unravel around me. I want to stop lying in bed, worried about a thousand things that will never happen. I want to strip away all of the unnecessary things that surround me every day and circle in on the things that matter most.

I want to make and consume food that lights my fires, that excites me again. I want to spend time in the kitchen with the kid, crafting things just because we can.

I want to walk in the sunshine more than I sit under fluorescent lights. I want to meet myself on the yoga mat every day. I want to close my eyes and find stillness, explore the me I don’t always share, and find the touch points that allow me to embrace her entirely, every day.

I want to sleep more, because I’m a better me when I’m rested, and because sleep fuels everything else that happens in my day. Sleep returns me to myself, as I undoubtedly become lost through the course of the daily trudge.

I want to be right here, right now, doing only what I’m doing – not allowing my head to spin off into the other million things I might need or want to do today. I want more play and less work, more love and less tension, more air and less stress.

I want fresh produce and fresh air. I want to lay in the grass, giggle with my kid, and not always feel exhausted.

So it’s time to lay out what that takes for me, at least to start.

  1. In bed by 10pm
  2. No caffeine during the work week
  3. Yoga 4-5 times a week
  4. Meditate every day
  5. Cook one real dinner per work week
  6. Cook two real meals on the weekends
  7. Wear something that makes me feel pretty at least once a week
  8. Document the things that light me up…the foods, the outfits, the moments

(as inspired, so often, by Mara)

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All The Feels

So I signed on for Molly Galbraith’s Love Your Body Challenge. I followed along somewhat halfheartedly for the first few days, reading the emails and following the prompts with minimal commitment. On day 5 I decided the challenge just wasn’t worth my time. It wouldn’t work. It was too hard. It was too easy. It was self-indulgent. I deleted the journal I’d started, got rid of the document where I’d dutifully tracked each day’s mantra and action steps. I was having a hard time filling in the blanks and I had yet to say my mantras at bedtime even once. I’d probably only said them during the action steps on one day. So I wasn’t doing them “right” anyway. And then day 6 arrived in my inbox. I opened the email anyway. I clicked the link. I skimmed the post. I read the prompt.

The prompt.

“Reason #6 To Love Your Body: Because it’s served you well.”

Betrayal. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my body. It’s small, unfair things: it’s not supposed to look this way, it shouldn’t gain weight so easily, it makes me uncomfortable, my colon sucks and my compartment syndrome keeps me from running. I know all of those things aren’t something I can blame my body for. In fact many would be eased if I loved my body more. But it’s big things too. It’s a baby lost at twenty weeks because my cervix didn’t feel like cooperating, and it couldn’t even malfunction in a normal way but insisted on doing so in such an uncommon manner that the doctors couldn’t see it coming. I’m not gonna lie, I blame it for that and then because on some level I’ve internalized the connection steen my body and myself, I blame myself for that loss. Just sometimes, when it gets dark inside.

So maybe I need this challenge more than ever. Here’s my list. My body:

1. Walked me down the aisle at my wedding.
2. Crossed the finish line at a Warrior Dash.
3. Held a baby we’d already said goodbye to.
4. Carried a second pregnancy through five months of bedrest.
5. Gave birth to a happy, healthy, perfect little girl.
6. Fed that little girl for six months all on its own.
7. Held that little girl through sickness, naps, zoo trips, nights of coughing, and mornings of cuddling.
8. Embraced so many beloved friends and family.
9. Learned to do yoga: planks, forearm and handstands, push-ups, and upward bow.
10. Survived two surgeries.
11. Supported and nourished a mid capable of a bachelors degree with honors.
12. Carries me to and from work every day.
13. Allows me to hike, walk the museums, and wander new cities.
14. Allows me to see, hear, smell, and touch the world around me, to discover all sorts of delights.
15. Walks up and down 15+ flights of stairs on every work day, and at least six of them every morning to walk the dog.
16. Keeps my daughter feeling loved with warm embraces and sniffly cuddles.
17. Lets me kiss my incredible husband.
18. Highlights the incredible DNA I carry from my mother and my father, showing off features that carry on my bloodline.
19. Plays host to a head full of wild, uncontrollable hair.
20. Is home to a beautiful pair of eyes in a delightfully variable color.

So yes, it’s pretty amazing. And it deserves so much love and support. A body this strong, this capable, this full of potential for joy and laughter and knowledge and love… It’s time I give it the respect it needs to really come alive, to carry me through he best years of my life with all of its beautiful potential fully realized.

Now pardon me while I cry softly for a while. This one brought out ALL THE FEELS.

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The Process

blueSelf-love.

It’s an ongoing, ever-changing way of living my life and it requires a lot of reminders. Some are big, like the reminders that I am not a project to be finished or a broken thing to be fixed; I am not incomplete. There’s my mantra, “my body is not a tool or an object; it is a messenger of love.” Those big thoughts and reminders help keep life in perspective… but there are a lot of little things too.

There are small indulgences like cake flavored Chapstick, eggnog in my coffee, morning yoga, and blue mascara. Some, like the yoga, are vital practices that keep me feeling whole. Others, like the mascara, just make me smile. Part of this new way of living is remembering that those little, inconsequential things DO matter and that there’s nothing selfish or wrong or silly about wanting or having them.

A lot of my time, maybe most of it, though is spent now on redirecting my thoughts. In the midst if y daily routine it’s not so tough to do now. I know what to expect out of most days and what I can do to honor my needs, to reduce stress, to feel taken care of. I take long walks at lunch, I read my favorite books, I stay up late to watch a tv show, I go to bed early and ignore the dishes for another day. I side step the candy jar on tired days and limit myself to one coffee but unlimited pumpkin spice tea.

(Side note: as I was typing “day” up there, I accidentally typed “fat” instead, and the phone corrected it to “day.” I thought about that replacement and came up with something cool… I have fat. Or… I have day. I have days. I have time and potential and every day a new moment to live and love and BE. Whoa. Thanks, autocorrect. That’s deep for a Tuesday morning.)

Well there’s a look into my thoughts. They derail like that a lot, and I’m begin into learn to let them. I discover a lot of cool stuff in my head when I let it run free.

So back to this life I’m living. Again, the everyday is getting easier. I’m falling into better patterns of thought, which in turn are becoming better patterns of behavior.

And then I went on vacation. Oh man. Vacation, bringer of rest and relaxation and log overdue mommy hugs. Changer of routines, demolisher of schedules, arbiter of home cooked meals and roadtrip snacks and pumpkin beer experiments. (And a single shot of Fireball which… no. Just no.)

I did my yoga faithfully. I drank with care and mindfulness, enjoying tasting new brews without ever suffering a hangover. And I ate with disastrous, literally gut-wrenching abandon. My stomach hurt for most of the trip. I had a red velvet milkshake even though I knew ice cream would decimate my GI tract. I had seconds when the first plate was already too much. I ate when I wasn’t hungry. It was a powerful lesson in habits and emotional eating.

So am I guilty? Oddly, thankfully, no. I am spending my time sussing out the reasons. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • home has always been about food for me, and usually about decadent, heavy, fried food too.
  • being off my normal schedule makes me tired, which requires extra attention to avoid destructive food choices. Vacation makes that extra attention hard to manage.
  • my family is loud and busy and rambunctious, which is part and parcel of why I love them. It also, however, creates an initial dissonance as I try to fit back into their lively flow. My daily life now is quiet and calm, which I need it to be to feel my best, and so staying zen during vacation means intentionally seeking out quiet time, me time.
  • my mom looks awesome. I’m owning the terrible habit of comparison here. She’s been KILLING IT at bootcamp for months now and she’s lost almost all the weight she wanted to lose. I inherited her “fat” clothes (my words, not hers) because I’m three sizes and about sixty pounds larger than she is right now. And, despite how happy I am for her and how proud I am of her…despite being really content with my body and habits right now…despite being stronger and more flexible and more at peace every day…it got to me. I felt sad and “fat” and uncomfortable in my own body. I second guessed every outfit even when I wore clothes I loved. Frankly, it sucked.

So that’s what I’ve come up with so far. A cocktail of weird emotional and situational storm clouds that left me without a clear sense of direction. Oddly, as I sit on the train this morning, doggedly typing out this post on my phone (ahoy, typos!) I’m feeling kind of GOOD about the whole thing. I know why I made the choices I did, for the most part, and I know what I need to do to help keep it from happening again. It’s just another lesson in awareness, in always listening closely to my body and mind and heart. If I’d stopped to listen, I’d have heard the calls. Every once in a while I did. I never drank too much. I got a salad at a burger place because my body was requesting produce even in the face of a menu full of unique and delectable burgers. I did yoga almost every day.

So there it is. I’m learning. I’m making significant progress.

I’m kind of awesome.

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I Am Enough

I’ve been working hard. I’ve been paying attention, making notes, and surrounding myself with inspiration. I’ve been doing my homework, working through exercises, and thinking through my life with a new gentleness.

I’ve been making time for yoga almost every day, taking walks, remembering and honoring the way my body likes to move. I’ve been paying more attention to myself… hair, makeup, a nighttime and morning care ritual that help start and end my day with a focus on me.
I’ve been slowly eradicating the shame, the blame, the constant analysis of perceived faults. I’ve been embracing all that I am, every aspect of mind and body, working hard to get and stay aware and in the moment.
It is a choice, every single day, every hour, every moment. It isn’t second nature and it may never be. I struggled with that at first, feeling irritated that I was signing up for one more lifelong fight. And then I realized I was thinking about it all wrong. It’s not a fight. It’s a chance, EVERY. DAMN. DAY., to remind myself of all I have, all I can offer, and all the beauty and worth I possess by just existing. What more could I want than a reason to wake up every morning with an ode to my thighs, praise for my smile, pride in my big bushy hair? I get the chance to spend every day reveling in my own particular brand of awesome.
And you know what? It’s working. Evi and I fight less (almost never). Aaron says I’m lighter and brighter. I’m more relaxed. I’m certainly more aware.
And that awareness has brought me to the sharp discovery that in one particular space I’m not yet honoring ME.
It’s food. In all I have going on, I’ve turned back to food for comfort without even realizing it, and as my awareness grows I’ve begun to notice the toll it’s taking. All that sugar (my biggest comfort food) is making me tired. I’m not sleeping well, I’m foggy in the mornings, and more often than not my stomach is unhappy at night.
If nothing else, this is an incredibly powerful exercise in the NO BLAME, NO SHAME arena.
I have not failed. I’ve done the best I could in every moment, and in the slow process of discovering and honoring my own needs I’ve made incredible strides. I love myself a little more every day. I’m proud of my mind AND my body. I am stronger than every hardship and surrounded by unending depths of love and support, reflecting back all that I give to others.
And so this is another step on the journey. It’s time to again turn the focus back to nutrition. This isn’t about counting or tracking or weighing. This is about food as energy, as meditation, as another way to show myself love and care. This is about slowing down, being RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW (it always comes back to that…), and jut listening. This is about simplifying my foods, answering my body’s call for clean energy sources, and respecting my right to be the most breathtaking version of myself.
Today I will continue taking my walks. I will make one for my yoga. I will walk my dog and take out the trash and spend time with my beautiful little girl. I will read my book on the train, work hard and maintain focus, smile at myself in the mirror, and meditate on joy.
Today I will listen… to my body’s cues, to the often subtle differences between physical and emotional cravings, to the quiet bliss of a body well fed and needs met more satisfyingly than in the cold of an open fridge door.
Food is a neutral circumstance (thanks Christie and Mara) and it’s time for me to remember that again. It’s time for me to recognize that I AM ENOUGH, all on my own, just as I am in this and every moment… even the dark ones. Food recharges my batteries so that I can go on being enough, and in its best form it is as appealing and delicious as it is restorative and clean. It won’t make things better if I’m sad, and it can’t make me happy either. I’ve got it all inside already, every resource I need to meet those needs.
When I accept that I am enough, that I am whole and unbroken just as I am in this moment, then (ONLY then) I can turn my focus. Then I can shift my relationship with food, learn what resonates with my happiness, and feed myself with all the love I deserve.
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On Productivity

These podcasts I’ve been listening to? These right here? They’re BLOWING MY MIND. As I listen to them, I take notes about things I want to remember, things that seem really powerful or relevant, and exercises I think would be helpful for me to work through.

I think it was this one (honoring your needs) that brought up productivity. I wrote down the exercise: What does it mean to be productive, and how can we shift it to honor our needs?

I was honestly ready to dismiss this prompt. I didn’t think it would be helpful. I know what productivity means. I know when I’m productive and when I’m not. Or do I? Here’s what happened when I wrote it all out:

What does it mean to be productive?

  • meet deadlines
  • finish tasks
  • feel accomplished
  • get “alot” done
  • solve problems
  • have something to show for my work; tangible results

Then I decided to look up the definition of productivity…

* large amounts

* significant

…where I saw the Latin origins…

[producing or giving rise to]

[brought forth]

…and instead of going back through my bullet list to try and reframe each point, this is what happened:

How can I shift it to honor my needs?

-MIND BLOWN_

As always seems the case lately, the answer is to break it down to its simplest form. It doesn’t have to be about deadlines and tasks. I don’t need to focus on quantifiable, significant in amount results.

Instead, I need to redefine productivity, quite literally, as the bringing forth of significance.

…the bringing forth of significance…

WHOA.

When I give rise to something, when I lift to the light something of meaning, it is then that I am productive.

Now, here, writing in the sun sipping the season’s first pumpkin spice latte… even though it’s still a little too warm for it… this is productive.

The moments I spend curled up with my husband or lying next to Evi as she wakes, smiles, hugs? Those are productive.

The minutes I’ll spend tonight painting my nails blue. The time I spend perfecting the formatting of a document and filling it with my thoughts. The texts and emails checking in on a friend.

Productive. Productive Productive.

Productivity, at it’s heart, is in the moments that matter. It’s in the work that creates meaning, the time devoted to making connections, the passion for a cause.

A hug, a smile, a stolen moment of quiet… these are not the thieves of my productivity. They are the banner carriers, the activists, the ardent representatives of my heart’s truest intentions. They are proof of my productivity, newly redefined for accuracy.

Enough said.

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