Friday, February 3, 2012

Trying Not To Die

I've decided that 2012 is going to be a year of ACTION.  I spent the last few months of 2011 in deep contemplation about motivation, action and compassion.  I have felt a coming change within me for a long time.  It's been growing, as growth happens, slowly.  But the end of last year came with a certain KNOWING that I could no longer deny.  And the knowing left me with a deep angst, a weight on my soul, a nagging feeling.  Then I spent January in denial.  I think I knew that I was going to be making radical changes and had to eat and drink and process what it would mean to go without those things.  I've often been someone who is impulsive and swings from one extreme (strict diets, chastisement) to the other (total self indulgence).  But, over the past few years, I've been gradually finding my path to The Middle Way.  And I don't want the decisions that I make this year, to be impulsive or unsustainable.  But I knew they might have to be radical.  So, maybe I wasn't in denial, maybe I was just planning.  Maybe both.  What resulted was this ache for change.

"We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.  Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change."
-- Henry Cloud

Ever before in my life, I was motivated out of shame.  I felt deep shame for being fat, so I dieted.  I felt deep shame for being a failure, so I sought out physical affection.  I felt deep shame for being promiscuous, so I drank.  I felt deep shame for excessive drinking, so cried.  I felt deep shame for being emotional, so I ate.  And round and round I went.  I hated who I was, so I would try to do radical changes to make myself better, in hopes of feeling worthy of love, of being good enough.

But sometime in the last year, after years of struggling to believe it, I came to know a deep, sacred, marrow-nourishing, hip-swinging, foot-stomping love.  I just found it.  It had been there all along.  But it wasn't where I thought I'd left it.  And it certainly wasn't where I was looking.  It wasn't in Marco's embrace.  It wasn't in my mother's voice.  It wasn't in my sister's phone calls.  It wasn't in my friends' words of praise.  It wasn't in any books.  It wasn't even in my kids' faces.  It turned out it was where I least expected it.  Love was dwelling in my scattered mind, my stretch-marked belly, my large calloused feet, my ugly knees, my wide hips, my flat chest, and buried deep in my bruised heart.  It was as if all those other people had been shouting at me, through the din of my hateful thoughts, telling me to look down, saying, "It's right there!  You have it!"  And finally, when I got really quiet, I heard it.  I felt it.  I knew.

I hesitate to name it.  You know I'm skittish about such things.  I like to leave a little room for the mysterious.  I like to leave a chair in my mind empty for knew knowledge.  But love is what it is.

And out of this love has come immense change.  Love for myself, a deep friendship with myself, a kindness and compassion for my wily ways has led to a care and concern for my well-being that I never had before.  I've fallen in love with life and want to enjoy, extend and partake of it, drink it in, savor it.  Recently, Maya asked me, "Why do we live on a planet?"  I waxed philosophical and poetic about the miracle of the goldilocks conditions of Earth.  We're not too hot.  We're not too cold.  Life grew and changed.  It's amazing, no matter what way you view it, that we exist here at all.  I was leading up to this big teaching moment about how precious life is.  At the end, I proclaimed very boldly, "That's why we..." and Maya finished with, "Gotta try not to die!"  Yes!  That's it!  Exactly!  It's more than "living in the moment".  It's fighting to stay fully alive.  It's doing all I can to get the most out of this one, blessed life I have got (that I know of at least).  Every day I'm trying not to die.

Trying not to die means not settling for complacency.  Trying not to die means doing life-sustaining things like eating healthy and exercising and resting.  It means dancing and laughing and spending time with great friends and reading great books and having stimulating, challenging conversations.  Trying not to die means giving just a little bit more when I think I want to quit.  And, trying not to die means helping others try not to die as well.  They only have one ride on this blue boat.  That means being kind, above all else, to everyone, especially those I love.  With those I love I have the grace and space to be nasty and really let my cranky hair down, and I love that I have that freedom.  But how much more blessed is the relationship when I speak with tenderness, knowing they too are a crumpled up, tattered old being of love too.

In an effort to try not to die, I've begun what I'm calling my Action Initiative.  Inspired by Matt Cutts in this TED video, I'm going to attempt to do a different challenge each month this year.  Each challenge is something that I have wanted to be part of my life but have lacked the self-love, bravery and discipline to implement.  I have a lot of work to do.  And I know that my feelings will waver and that some days will be harder than others.  I'm going to write posts about how these changes are impacting my life and what I am learning along the way.

February the focus is on health.  I have known for a long time that I need to figure out what is causing digestion problems, but I just haven't felt like it.  Well, the pain of staying became too great.  I want to feel better.  I want to be lighter.  I want to move with agility and strength and feel lean and mean.  My goal is to exercise every day this month.  I have also given up animal products including dairy.  I'm focusing on expanding my healthy diet, feeding my body nourishing food and treating my old self with the love and respect I deserve because I AM ENOUGH.  I AM LOVED.

I'm three days in to February, and I'll tell you how I feel.  I feel satisfied.  Last night, as I climbed into bed, and I said to Marco, "You know, that nagging feeling is gone.  I did everything I said I was going to do today."

Let's see how tomorrow goes.

Will you join me?  Let's start a movement of change based on love.  Let's help each other try not to die.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A good read! I think you have touched on something that many woman struggle with, The all encompassing job of what it means to be a woman. We are a product of how we are socialized. The changes you are making are important for our own daughters as we conntribute to a generation of woman, who embrace the power that comes with making time for self! We are enough. Thanks for sharing!

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