Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lessons from Shania Twain

I remember, years ago, watching Shania Twain on Oprah talking about the intense grief she experienced after her shockingly devastating divorce. Do y'all remember that? When her hubs and best friend ran off together? So sad. For some reason I remember her talking about how her body had such a strong reaction to the intense disruption of her seemingly happy life. She spoke about how she was physically cold all the time and the only way she could get comfortable was to be in a hot bath. And, she stayed there a lot.

I believe firmly in the mind-body-spirit connection. I believe whatever affects one, affects all. There is no separation. They work congruently and harmoniously. It's only been in recent years that I've learned this. It was when I started taking care of my body and quickly saw my mind and soul start to flourish as well. Bingo. This is legit science.

I'm about to make a point.

There has been a situation in my life (one that I can't divulge details to protect others so, excuse me while I try to be vague) that has been extremely difficult. It's been well over 5 years that I lost someone that I love, someone that I love very much (they're not dead, just...gone). When it first came down and I realized I had been nixed, cut-off, discarded...I got a little pissed off and then, out of self-preservation or denial or something, I simply went on with life.

I accepted that I had a role in the relationship dissolving and I went from there. I worked on myself, my attitude, my heart, my spirit, my life. I rarely even thought about it. When the situation came up or was talked about I blew it off. It felt like I was rising above pettiness and being healthy but, I wasn't. Nope, it was good old denial. A few other people that I love DID grieve it. They grieved it terribly and, honestly, it annoyed me. I just didn't have time to waste on a situation I couldn't control and I certainly didn't have time to grieve.

The last 5 years have been amazing. So many things have happened that have molded and shaped me. It's not like I was carrying around this huge weight, it's more like I hid it away in a closet and forgot it was there. I simply forgot it was there.

A few weeks ago, events began to happen that brought the whole thing back up. It actually seemed that the situation was heading down a long and rocky path to what looked like...redemption. I let my heart open up big and wide and expansive to the whole thing again. I was excited and scared and worried and filled with hope. I talked for hours with this loved one. There was laughter and honesty and understanding. It was all so refreshing.

Then, as quickly as they'd come back into my life, they were taken away again. This time, it hurt. I had so much going on in life that I had to keep going and rock on. I figured it would be like before and that I would get a free ticket back into life without having to feel the pain of it.

Not so fast.

I got the news on Friday. Saturday morning I felt uneasy in my body. Just gastrointestinal upset and an overall uncomfortable feeling. We were at a birthday party for our 3-year-old grandson and my body was kind enough to let me get through that. Sunday was a little more iffy. By Monday afternoon, I had a raging fever and was completely locked down. I slept off and on for the next 36 hours and honestly don't remember much of it. I had been having kidney infection symptoms so, that's what I thought it was all stemming from.

Wednesday, which was yesterday, I awoke feeling better and thought the clouds had lifted. I went with my parents to Texarkana so I could get an extra adjustment this week to help with healing. We had fun, went to eat, shopped, and enjoyed each others company. I had been having some minor muscle pain in my neck but as the day pressed on, my neck muscles started to seize completely up. I don't know if it was from all the sleeping or what but it was clear that life wasn't going to let me off the hook just yet. When Mom and Dad dropped me off, I made my way up my sidewalk and could feel everything tighten and constrict. It was almost more than I could bear.

I tried to go about my evening activities in the house as if nothing was wrong but I could not get warm and I could NOT relax. Every muscle and fiber were tense and rigid. The only thing I could think to do was to get in a hot bath. I immediately felt the tension let up when I got in and I laid there just kind of relieved to have a second of feeling somewhat normal.

There comes a point when you encounter a series of unfortunate events that you eventually ask why. Why is this happening to me?? That was where I was in the tub last night. Asking why. The universe is so quick to want to help. Sometimes answers come and sometimes they don't. Last night, I got a very clear answer, "it's because you're grieving." Even then I didn't want to accept that. I thought about Shania Twain and her hot baths and assessed that the only time I've felt unclenched in the past 5 days was sitting in the hot shower or sitting in this tub. What could I possibly be grieving? THAT??

It was at that point where I was so physically worn down that I HAD to surrender to it. I was so broken and exhausted and I wanted out of it so badly that I had to listen and accept it. My body was leading me into that place where my heart and soul were refusing to go. It wasn't too subtle about it either. All those years of repressing the loss, all the time that has been lost, all the love not given, all the injustice, all the grief had to be felt. So, I let it happen.

I let my heart break.

God meets us where we are and I've never felt more embraced than I did crying like a little girl in my plastic garden tub last night. I was held as I let it all hurt, physically incapable of fighting it anymore. So it hurt. Heart, mind, body, soul grieved it all.

I cried some more when I got in bed and had to try and explain to Rodney what the hell was going on.  Tears flooded my pillow while he listened somewhat perplexed but, compassionately. My neck started to relax and I finally fell asleep. I woke up somewhere in the middle of the night and was sweating and still running a low grade fever but it felt detoxifying. Then I woke up this morning and felt better. A lot better.

I know that grief isn't about crying in the tub and you're done. And, I don't expect it to be over. However, now I am open to it. I'm not blocking it anymore. It stuns me that I ever tried to and that I got away with it for so long. It also amazes me that my body would lead me into it. I thought grief would originate in the heart. I guess since I wouldn't let my heart break over it, my body had to lead me to it.

As for redemption, it's coming. I'll always believe that. Everything will be restored and redeemed. It will be better than anything I can hope for. Grief is just one of those things that teaches us the value of love. I hope I've learned the lesson now.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day Musings

Yesterday was Mother's Day. I spent the day surrounded by the love of my husband and children and one little precious granddaughter. There was cooking and laughter and chaos...three of my favorite things in life. If you're lucky, you'll eventually reach a place where all the little calculations about how life should be disappear into an appreciation for what is. I have found that I can ride the wave of chaos and behold the beauty of it instead of trying to wrangle it in and slather my ridiculous expectations all over it. It's just more fun that way. Besides, I must have missed the book of rules that tells us how any day should look. Whether it's Mother's Day or Christmas or a Tuesday. It is much more enjoyable to let it unfold before you and let the big wide universe reveal its gifts to you.

But seriously.

What I really wanted to write about was that little one peaking at me between her mother and her aunt. She's a big glorious soul toddling around in a teeny little body. As we all are.

She fascinates me.

I would have never thought that one of the most spiritually profound things I would ever witness in my life would be a tiny human shoveling food into their mouth with their chubby little hands. I could watch it endlessly, and she's more than happy to provide.


We were walking through the pasture yesterday trying to find a spot for pictures. As we dodged cow pies in search of good light, I stopped a picked her a flower to entertain her while I took a couple of practice shots with my camera. As I reached down to pluck that little flower from the earth, one among a million, I was struck with how God could grow a field of flowers and know that there would be that one that would get to be carried and crushed by those sweet little fingers. It's one of the things that helps me to let go and allow the unfolding to happen. I'm not in control anyway. If our Creator knows those little details, maybe I don't need to bother so much with them. 

This doesn't mean that I don't have hopes. It means that I allow my life to be messy and confusing because, life IS messy and confusing. Hope, hope I have. 

Being around a new soul creates a whole new set of hopes, not just for you but for them. I was thinking about what I hoped for her and it's something like this. 

I hope that she always loves as fiercely and purely as she does now. 

I hope that she's never ashamed to show her feelings and that she never feels like they are invalid. 

I hope she has to forgive someone that she doesn't want to forgive. 

I hope that if anyone ever makes fun of her, that she will so strongly know her worth that it will only strengthen her. 

I hope that if someone does make fun of her that her daddy is around and that he, at least, unclips his holster. 

I hope that her heart gets broken so that she will know the grace of the universe to mend it. 

I hope that she will listen to the kind of music that moves her soul. 

I hope that she doesn't listen to small minds that tell her God isn't in it. 

I hope she tries lots of things and that she messes it up and tries again and decides what she likes and doesn't like based on her own passion and gifts 

I hope she aways has a cheering section when she does something amazing and... when she does something ridiculous. 

I hope she IS ridiculous and I hope she owns it

I hope she sees the beauty in the fact that she is alive

I hope that when she's 40, she still eats with her hands

I hope she meets someone to show her new things and be her best friend

I hope that when she feels lost and afraid, that she will know she is never alone

I hope that she floats on her back in the river and looks up at the sky and listens to the sound of her own heartbeat 

I hope she laughs so hard she can't catch her breath. I hope she does this a lot. 

I hope that she knows that she came here pure and whole and full of joy and that there is nothing she can ever do to change that. 

I hope she does some stuff that makes us all uncomfortable 

I hope she demands her way and I hope she realizes that her way may not be the best

I hope she does life big and crazy and hysterical

I hope her spirit is never crushed by the expectations of others...even mine 

I hope she always finds fascination in things like 



mooing cows


and big floppy dog cheeks

I hope she is ALWAYS excited that it's time to eat

and, I hope we get to eat together A LOT

I hope I do all of these things too. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ugly Dog

My beloved Ugly Dog gave up his life last night. We think his big old heart just finally gave out. It was a good heart. Here is his story. 

July 14, 2015 I got a call from my friend who told me there was an old abandoned dog out on a county road near me that was in need of rescue. I'll never forget her description of him including the phrase "he is so beautiful!" I didn't hesitate to go help the poor dude out but, when I got to him I was quite certain that my friend wasn't sure about what beautiful really meant. He was scrawny, old, flea-infested, bug-eyed, dirty, and scared. Despite his fear, he seemed to know I was there to help and allowed me to lift him into the backseat of my truck and we headed home.

My plan was to re-home him. I bathed him. I bathed him a lot. Then I bathed him some more. We gave him something to rid him of fleas and ticks, fed him lots of food and gave him a place to crash until we decided what to do with him. 

He made himself comfortable and, despite our efforts to find him a new home, he became a permanent resident. We didn't initially have a name for him and, since we weren't really planning on keeping him, I started referring to him as Ugly Dog...and, it stuck. 

It wasn't long until he had worked his way into my heart. There was something so peaceful about him. He just seemed so happy to be here, happy to be alive, fed, loved. 

He really liked when I brought quilts outside to sit on. 

Always a joiner when it came to early morning sunrise watching.

And sunset watching...and selfies.

And smooches

He was down for campfires. 

He frequently practiced meditation

and was a boss at naps. 

Then, he gave us puppies!! 

and more puppies! 

He totally took responsibility, too. More than a lot of humans, he was a dad. He was a good dad. 

He was quite proud of his accomplishments. 

 He even helped raised pups that weren't his own. 

or even his species...

He pretty much loved every creature. 

I bet he walked a hundred thousand miles around this farm. Considering that he could barely climb the stairs the first day I brought him home, I was always impressed with his cinderella story. 

He peed on everything. Every. Thing. Even a few people.

 He made us laugh with his old-man antics and how he knew how to enjoy life's little pleasures. Like the warm sun on your belly (and balls) after a cold night. How he scampered and played with us, even in his old age. He would emerge from his dog house (that I put an old quilt in because I knew how much he loved them) on cold, rainy mornings, smell the air, stretch and then immediately send a big "nope" to the universe as he climbed back into his warm, quilted abode. 

I don't know what his life was like before he came to be with me. He was afraid when I would pick up rakes and shovels and the like which always made my heart wrench to think of how he must have been treated, especially since he was abandoned by his previous owners. Maybe they just didn't see the value in keeping an old, raggedy dog around that peed on every blessed thing. Maybe they didn't really see him for the super fly, zen, poetic, big-hearted dude he was. 

I have no way of knowing how old he was. I wasn't there when he was a puppy, I didn't get to watch him grow into that big frame, I simply picked up what was left after he was considered useless to someone else. And, what was left was one of the most beautiful souls I've ever known. I'm sure that he even loved his previous owner. He was just that kinda guy. 

He proved to me that age doesn't really have much to do with vitality. Love, however...that makes a life. 

C.S. Lewis says that to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. I knew I was in for it when I decided to love him. I knew our time together would probably be short but I also knew that time really doesn't play that big of a roll in value. I knew that I wouldn't get the bulk of his life, but that I could give him the best of his life. And, that is what I did. I loved all his weird ridiculousness. He could have died 20 months ago, alone and abandoned but he didn't. He died in my backyard very well loved with a big full heart. He could have been just another old dog that was forgotten but, instead, he left a legacy. 

 You're free now you big, beautiful boy. 

Mark me a spot. ❤️

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Life Loves Me

I've been hesitant to publish this blog for a while. Not because I don't believe every word of it but, because I don't want to come off as superior or that I'm looking down on ANYBODY. Sometimes, when we rejoice in our freedom and happiness, it comes off that way to those who haven't found it yet. Please keep in mind that this is about the joy I've found and not about shaming anybody for doing life different than me. With that, here goes: 

One of Louise Hay's best loved affirmations is "life loves you". I only heard it recently for the first time and I literally gasped and had hot tears fill my eyes. It's only been in the past few years that I've started to understand this concept and, that was as succinct as anything I've ever heard. Life loves you. Profound.

I spent the first 40 years of my life believing that life, well... hated me. It was out to get me. It was something to get through until I got cancer or hit by a bus and then I could evacuate this cruel, broken earth. But, I better hope I hadn't said too many cuss words or worn my shorts to tight or not prayed enough or read my bible enough because, then, that bus would just send me to burn in hell forever. Life most certainly did NOT love me. 

I believed that my best years were probably before I hit 30 and it was all just a giant countdown to awful after that. People would even tell me when I would pipe up with some optimism about health (or something equally ridiculous), "just wait till you get my age". Right? Anybody else but me have that tape on repeat? Whatever awaited me, it wasn't that life was going to get BETTER. Yeah, you get to have grandkids and, I'd heard that was a pretty cool gig. Maybe you'll retire and, if you're lucky, take a trip to the Bahamas or to see the Grand Canyon. But, ultimately, you're going to end up in the hospital at some point while doctors and surgeons whittle away at your poor body and then you're going to whither away and die. It's just how it is. 

Except that it's not just how it is. 

Not even a little. 

It's only that way if you BELIEVE it's that way. 

And, guess what? You can change your beliefs. 

Incidentally (and this is one of my favorite things to tell people about my newfound belief system), it used to be a scientific fact that the earth was flat. It wasn't just an opinion. It was a "fact". 

Here is the brass tacks and the facts of a brand new set of beliefs about life, and health. I'm not here to blow sunshine up your patootie, I have hard core evidence. First of all, when I stopped looking at life like it was out to get me, I started to get really happy. I thought happiness was bad (one of the reasons I was hesitant to publish this blog). I mean, you can be happy but, in an orderly fashion and, not too much, and not around those people. Keep a lid on it and don't be outwardly emotional, either "too" sad or "too" happy. Changing my beliefs about what that abundant life is really all about freed me up to actually live a life that includes actually feeling alllll my glorious emotions, including joy. 

Exhibit a) authentic joy! 

Then, I started to take care of myself. I began to really give a shit about what I was eating and how I took care of my body. I wanted to educate myself on what would energize me and give me the best life. It wasn't even about deprivation or counting freaking calories. Food became a magical, life-giving, offering of nourishment into my really happy body. And, I'm pretty sure that is what food is for. I started to love and appreciate things like kale and cucumbers and mushrooms and avocados and cashews! And, it's delicious and my body naturally found a healthy weight. 

Exhibit b) Sustained healthy weight for 3 years. 

I was also taking medication for arthritis pain and hypertension. I took a Benadryl EVERY NIGHT for about 10 years so I could sleep. I took a myriad of supplements and other pills to try and aid in my constant gastric upset. I also had been on several different drugs for attention deficit, depression and had dabbled in diet pills to curb my appetite. I was definitely in the mindset of "a pill for every ill". When you have symptoms, you go to the doctor and get a prescription or rummage through the over-the-counter drugs for annoying symptoms (like allergies, headache, pain, diarrhea, constipation, stuffy nose, itchy eyes etc...) That's just how it works. Wrong again. When I cleaned up my diet and started nourishing my cells, yep...all that chemical garbage took a hike. Now that I really understand how a human body works, it is completely asinine to me to think that I could have continually fed myself processed products and taken all of those chemicals and thought that my body would love me in return. Dude, I was ready to get hit by that bus. 

I just wanted to throw in a very significant "side note" here. Rodney was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 5 years ago and was told that he would die if he didn't take very specific, very expensive drugs for the rest of his life. He changed his diet and lifestyle right along with me and hasn't even had a symptom in 2 years and zero expensive, stupid drugs. I mean, do I really need to say anything more? 

Exhibit c) No more prescription or otc drugs. None. Nada. Zilch 

This is where I may lose you but this is important to me and, it's my blog. Almost 3 years ago, I started seeing a chiropractor. This was really the pivoting point for everything I wrote above. The first visit to see this chiropractor, I basically had everything I had ever believed about my health challenged. I went in armed with all my baggage of limiting beliefs and was going to tell that doctor what was wrong with me so he could, maybe, try and "fix" me. I simply said to him, "we have really bad joints and arthritis in my family." He simply smiled and said, "it's probably not a genetic thing but a lifestyle problem." My first reaction was "NUH UH!!" But, I had gone in with a semi-opened mind and decided to sit with that for a while. And, I did. I considered his crazy notion that maybe my pain and problems weren't something I inherited. Because, as uncomfortable as it was to think I was wrong, it was even more liberating to think that I could actually be free from something I thought was an inevitable decline into decrepitude. Oh, yes. Please keep challenging my thinking, good sir. 

I started going to his workshops and finding out all kinds of new things. Things that were really hard to hear. Things that kept making me terribly uncomfortable. I got gut-checked over and over and, for some crazy reason, I kept going back. I kept letting him make me squirm in my seat. Because, with every unbearable new piece of information, I also let one more limiting belief go. It was like I had been carrying a load of heavy bricks on my shoulders and, while I had grown to accept them, leaving them behind and letting go of all that weight became one of my favorite things. 

He explained over and over about how vital the health of my spine is. Something I'd never even thought about. I was born into a gene pool of people who have an propensity for degenerative disks and figured, at some point, I'd be right there with them. I didn't think you could improve the health of your spine. I thought you were at the mercy of gravity and your DNA. He described the spine in such a way that I began to see just how important it is. Your spinal cord in encased in all that beautiful bone because it is so crucial to the rest of your body. God designed us pretty incredibly. The nervous system reigns supreme and, if it gets kinked, misaligned or wonky, your whole body will suffer. Its THE power that has authority over every organ, muscle, tissue and cell in your bod.

This is what I really want to share. That curved green line is where a normal healthy neck should be. When I started chiro care, mine was quickly moving in the opposite direction...a typical synopsis of a lethargic person with poor posture and a crappy diet. I have gone from a reverse curve to a fairly straight line which means that I am REVERSING damage and headed back to a perfect curve. There is MORE space between my vertebrae. THERE IS MORE SPACE BETWEEN MY VERTEBRAE!!! I didn't achieve that deteriorating, degenerative spine in just a year or two so, I don't expect it to jump back into it's healthy state in just a few years either. What I do know is that, if I had stayed on the path I was on, that degeneration would have very quickly become out of control and led to problems I don't even want to think about. 

I'd also like to point out that I have been just terrible about doing my at-home rehab. That correction is with once-a-week visits to the chiropractor and minimum rehab. After seeing these results, I have amped up my homework and hope to improve by leaps and bounds by this time next year. 

exhibit D) there you have it folks, in black and white...improved spine and nervous system function. 

I'm just now realizing that I haven't even touched on the fitness aspect of my newfound belief but, in brief; I used to think that having a really fit body meant spending hours at the gym and living some completely indulgent lifestyle where you have a personal trainer and a chef and only think about your abs 24 hours a day. Man, my head was seriously messed up. Most of my workouts are no longer than 30 minutes a day, I do them at home, I occasionally check my abs in the mirror aanndd yeah, that's about it. I'm not downplaying the importance of that 30 minutes at all. If I don't get my workout done, I seriously start to fall apart. Like, imma cut you if you mess with me. It isn't about biceps and quads and abs and shoulders, I have to do it for my sanity. It is more about mental agility and balancing my emotions and strengthening my spirit than anything physical that may come from it. Although, not having to squish a bunch of flab into my jeans is a really nice bonus. 

exhibit E) strong spirit, less flab #winning 

Look, life loves you right now, right where you are. I wish I could lift the veil from every set of eyes that sees their life as unimportant. I wish that I could gift the world with vitality and enthusiasm and joy. The beautiful and cruel truth of it is that we have to free ourselves. I can show you what has happened to my life. I can tell you how happy I am now. I can be excited about my own journey and share it and I can tell you how I managed to break my own chains (and, incidentally, I still have A LOT of freeing up to do) but, it is ultimately up to you to do it. You can believe that you are stuck in your circumstances and, that will become your truth. Or, you can believe that you have the power to live any life you want and...just watch what starts to happen. Your beliefs about life will ultimately become your reality. Get some good ones. Start saying some nice things about yourself and others. Start believing in a God that loves you. Start believing that you are capable of more than you know. Start believing that you are loved, infinitely, wholly, unconditionally loved. Try some of those beliefs on for a little while and watch what starts to happen. You'll start to see tangible evidence of just how much life loves you and we all need a little more of that. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Twenty Six Years

I asked him this morning if it was all worth it and he assured me that it was. As we stood there in our kitchen, waiting for coffee to brew, planning the day and listening to our grandson jabber in the background...we both agreed that arriving at this place was worth the struggle to get here. 

We celebrate this day every year, almost more than our wedding anniversary. It is the anniversary of the day we met and, today marks 26 years. The wedding was simply a formality. The real magic happened 7 months earlier on that cold December night when the stars aligned and we saw each other for the first time. As I stood there hugging him this morning, all of it came flooding back into my mind. 26 years. It's never been boring, that's for sure and the hard times have only made us love each other more. 

This past year has been the hardest. The. Hardest. But, it has also been filled with the most growth, the most hope, and the most love. Forgiveness opens up so many avenues to the real stuff, the good stuff. Love on a whole other level. We've had to get to know each other all over again and are finding out that we really really like each other. Like total bff's. The legit kind that don't leave each other when things get tough. The kind that stay through all the ugly things. The kind that know on the other side of all that struggle and pain is something worth fighting for. 

Before we even said our marriage vows, we promised each other that we were in it for the long haul. We sat in an old beat-up Chevy truck out on a back country road and pledged our eternal devotion. I mean, things don't get much more devout and serious than that. There's hardly a more sacred space than the cab of an old truck. Believe me, I know. 

I have learned so much this year about life. I've lost and grieved and wept more than I thought was humanly possible and, I'm a crier.  I've let go of things that I thought I couldn't live without and, here I am...still living. It occurs to me over and over what Dorothy said, "“If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with." 

We may have gotten lost along the way but we found our way back. We found our way back to the most beautiful place. I don't think either of us would choose to go through the suffering part again but, we are aware of the growth that happened because of it. We both acknowledge that the pain is what made us stronger (I could insert a fitness metaphor here but, I'll spare you). 

I don't know what the future holds for us but, I know that we can handle whatever comes our way...together. 

Today won't be filled with wine and roses. It's more of a farm-work, puppy-play, grand baby, book-reading, maybe-we'll-take-a-nap kind of thing going on around here and, I can't think of anything more sweet. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Fast Epiphany

My intention in writing this blog entry is simply to reveal an epiphany I had last night that was too long to microblog about on Facebook. We'll see how brief I keep it.

Last night I had a meal at Jason's Deli. We eat there almost every Monday night with friends. We make the 90 minute drive to Texarkana to our chiropractor, get our adjustments, then we eat at Jason's Deli and then shop for food. It has become the norm on Mondays and I really really like it. However, this Monday's meal was a bit different. It was the first meal any of us had eaten since Friday evening.

You can google "3 day fast" and learn a lot about the benefit of doing one and how to safely go about doing it. It's an amazing way to boost your immune system and reset your metabolism by promoting stem cell growth and a myriad of other proven biological miracles. They are also, very very, very, very difficult to get through. Which is why we all did it as a group. I've done many 24 hour fasts but I was nowhere near prepared for what was ahead of me.

The places your brain will go when you haven't eaten any food for 24, 36, 48, 49, 50....hours! I thought about food in ways I didn't think possible. Eating clean has been so life changing for me and I really believed that I had killed all my sugar addiction demons but did they every come screaming back with flaming vengeance. Gnashing teeth and whatnot. At one point, my caffeine headache was so bad and my craving for chewy sweet tarts was so intense that all I could do was sit on the couch and hold myself together. Full-on, complete, unadulterated withdrawal. I haven't eaten chewy sweet tarts or anything of the nature in over a year and haven't even thought about wanting them. I accepted the craving as a lesson. That lesson is too complex to write about in what is supposed to be a brief blog, but in a nutshell, no matter how tough you think you are always susceptible to fall back into addiction at any given point.

I was relieved that I also had the most intense craving I've ever had for an apple. I kept imagining biting down into the flesh. Cold, crisp, sweet, juiciness flooding my parched mouth. Oh I wanted it so bad. So so so bad. I wanted cashews, roasted cauliflower, cabbage, butternut squash soup, tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, olive oil drizzled on all the things, and every single thing I saw posted on Instagram and Facebook that was food-related. I became alarmed several times about my state of mind. The most alarming thing was thinking that as soon as the fast ended, I was going to eat and never stop. I was going to gain all my weight back in a DAY. I couldn't imagine that I would ever be satiated again. It was a trip. Uncharted territory. And it was very very good for me to go there.

Wow, this is turning out longer than I expected, so...onto my epiphany.

This was my first meal after the fast. I was a mad woman at the salad bar. I dipped into just about every single container. I usually don't put cheese on my salad but was totally justified in doing it after what I had just come through. Dried cranberries?? Oh YES! TWO croutons?? You betcha! Would you like bacon and cheese on your cup of potato soup? Dang straight! And please gimme a cup of guacamole. 

I drizzled the whole thing with balsamic vinegar and was very generous with the olive oil. I watched it hit the veggies with lust. It was food porn if ever I had seen it and I wasn't even a little sorry for the deep aching desire that was burning in my soul. 

We prayed really fast and dove right in. The bliss. The satisfaction. The quenching of desire. I wanted to taste every little molecule. I wanted to put my hands in it and rub it in my hair. Chewing had never felt quite so satisfying. My taste buds were exploding. I could actually feel my body rejoicing. Every little cell in my person was having a party. There was dancing and laughter and music. 

And then, slowly, it started to happen. I was full. I couldn't eat anymore. My plate was still half full and I couldn't bear to go on. I nibbled on chunks of melon, forced a couple of strawberries and pineapple bits but, I was done. It had come to an end. I was, in fact, completely and totally satisfied. 

It didn't take long, maybe a half hour and my energy was back. Like completely. I thought I was going to crash but the opposite happened. I was ready to take on the world so I went shopping for jeans...and bought 2 pair. That's a big deal for this girl. 

The epiphany came on the ride home. I was talking to Rodney about how odd it was that I became full so quickly. I told him about the fears that I had been having during the fast that I wouldn't ever want to stop eating again in my life. I told him about my fears that my addictions to sugar were sure to come back to nab me. Then I thought about my meal. It was loaded with nutrients. Spinach, dark green leafy lettuces, a myriad of colorful veggies, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats. And, of course, that bowl of Irish potato soup WITH bacon and cheese, thank you very much. It just makes sense that feeding your body at the cellular level is going to fill you...even if you haven't eaten in days. It only takes what it needs. Then I started in on one of my rants about fast food and processed junk and how we had bought into that whole lie for so many years and I thought about McDonalds french fries and I asked this question. Have you EVER eaten enough McDonalds french fries? Even if you order a large? Aren't you always looking for loose ones in the bag and seeing if your buddies are done with theirs? Can I have the rest of your fries? 

The reason you can never eat enough french fries or ever be completely satisfied is that you simply aren't nourishing your body. You are actually starving it. It is a form of psychosis or something. We just put in this conglomeration of chemicals, preservatives and fried, salted goo and are literally starving our poor bodies. We just pack it on in fat and toxins and are never happy or satiated. Just give me more and more and it's never enough. 

I'm only saying this because I was there. I believed cheerios were good for me. I believed McDonalds was a grand American institution that was serving us inexpensive, convenient food that kept us from having to cook and, that was just so wonderful! A salad was something to have on the side but don't forget to pour on the ranch dressing. And don't bother to read the list of ingredients on that couldn't pronounce half of the 25+ in it anyway. 

Rodney refers to our new lifestyle as an "awakening". I love that. Being awake is the most amazing way to live life. It can also be highly unsettling when you are surrounded by people who seem to be sleeping. You have to find other people who are awake to talk to about all of this stuff. You can share it but it generally just annoys people. I remember being annoyed myself. It was because I didn't want some chipper awake person to disturb my slumber. But boy when your eyes do fly open...the world becomes this magical, amazing, astonishing, breathtaking, wondrous place. It is also full of glorious, nourishing FOOD. I'm so excited about every little thing I eat now. 

I read once about a prisoner of war who, when released, was asked what she wanted to do now that she was free. One of the first things she wanted was to taste and eat and lavish in every kind of food there was. She said she had never eaten a mango before she went into captivity and, after years of starvation and being fed only beans and mush she couldn't wait, in her liberation, to taste all the things that God had made. I'm not comparing myself to someone who spent years being abused and starved by radical guerrillas but I do think that I have had the same kind of fire kindled in me. Food has taken on this whole new dimension. It serves to give me energy to think and work and love and live. It brings me joy when I shop for it, prepare it, grow it, wash it, chop it up and cook it. And, it is pure delight to eat it. To partake with so much gratitude that every bite is precious. 

I'm not suggesting everyone do a 3 day fast, and if you do...make sure you know as much as you can first about how to do it safely. I'm just sharing what happened to me and, if that makes one person consider choosing even one meal with a little more intention and gratitude...then my mission is accomplished. 

You are welcome. 

Peace out.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Embracing the crazy

Does anybody remember when this happened?

If you're my mom, my brother or any of my friends that attended this movie with me the first time I saw it, you remember. I think I was maybe 5 or 6 when we went to see it at the theater. I became inconsolable. I fell apart. Wept!... I. Couldn't. Even. Oh, they all tried to help me pull it together, even when things turned around and the bear wasn't actually dead...but there was no coming back from the pain and anguish in my broken heart. Some of the other kids laughed at me. And sometimes, when I reunite with that group of people, they regale the story of when Jenni lost it during the Jungle Book.

I can laugh about it now but even looking at that image makes my heart catch in my throat just a bit. This is serious stuff. How can a little girl be expected to handle such a thing? Cue the sad music to go along with it and I just don't know how anybody could keep it together.

I was a very dramatic child, teenager, adult... middle-aged woman. Even my kids will, at times, tell me, "Jeeze Mom. Don't you think you're overreacting just a bit?" And, I have to pause and consider the fact that, maybe I am. Just a tad.

Because of a lot of self-doubt and fear, I usually questioned every emotion I had. Like I thought something was really wrong with me for feeling sooooo much. "Do I need meds? Do I need a psychologist? Should I probably be committed? Maybe I should grow up already."

Ah! There was the answer. I needed to grow up. The funny thing is, I had to totally change my idea about what being "grown up" meant. I always thought that maturity meant that you had a clean house, paid your bills on time, maybe had a hobby like needle point, and went to bed at a decent hour. Booorrring!! No wonder it took me so long to want to grow up. I've discovered in the last couple years that maturity really comes when you embrace who you really are. The good and the not so good. Maybe it isn't maturity at all. Maybe it is this other thing. This thing called FREEDOM! It's not growing up at all, it's growing into exactly who you were meant to be. Whether that is a person that needs to keep a lot of rules or an enlightened free spirit, BE IT! Embrace it!

Something miraculous happens when you stop fighting your natural self. God made you the way you are for a reason. If He just so happened to give you a great big, mushy, bleeding heart, you might need to just go ahead and feel that stuff and let it lead you. I read a quote recently that nailed this on the head...

"Being tender and open is beautiful. As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed. Too sensitive. Too mushy. Too wishy washy. Blah blah. Don’t let someone steal your tenderness. Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart. Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep, feel it all – look around you. All of this is for you. Take it and have gratitude. Give it and feel love." -Zooey Deschanel

Gratitude for being vulnerable? Really? YES!! What else on earth are you here for? You're not a mindless drone meant to serve a meaningless purpose. Think about the times you've felt most alive, your best memories, your greatest moments. It probably involved some vulnerability and fear. Our greatest joys, our highest heights just come with a big dose of butterflies. I've learned to welcome it. If I get an overwhelming feeling, I don't ignore it anymore or try to rationalize it. Being rational is way overrated. Recently, someone I love very much sent me a text that made my heart so happy, before I even knew what was happening, I found myself curled up in a ball holding on to my heart to try and keep it inside my chest. I also found myself within the last couple weeks digging under my bed for a T-shirt I couldn't find. Because I'm a grown up. I'm the grown up I was meant to be. I no longer listen to the outside voices that tell me what I should be. I take advice. I am always learning and growing but the core of who I am doesn't change. It never has, I just accept it now.

I remember one time my brother told me a story about listening to the music that all his friends were listening to. He said he was alone and had a lightbulb come on like, "I don't even like this music! Why the heck am I listening to it?" Then he turned on what HE liked. That always kind of stuck with me. Why do we feel like we need to do what everybody else is doing when you have a blazing fire inside you telling you something else? I hope that my friends that read this already know all this and are just shaking your heads going "duh". But, I hope that if you do find yourself a little lost or afraid, that you will have the courage to just step into the life that you know you are meant to lead.

I don't wail during Disney movies anymore...just kidding. Yes I do. Just not to the point where everybody stares and I make an incredible scene that people will talk about for decades. You can be socially cool and still have a big old heart. I think.