Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Life Behind Bars: Solitude



The sound of the road fades into the rhythm of pedal strokes. It's been three hours on a November afternoon since I've said a word to anyone. Three group rides went by and today I am happy to not be among them. Not today.

People ride for speed, for competition, for companionship. People ride for endless reasons and it's easy to lose sight of what it means to each of us. It's racing, it's climbing insane hills, it's following the unwritten rule of matching a saddle to bar tape. To me, riding my bike is all about saving lives.

My friends and family have helped me raise over $5,000 for AIDS/Lifecycle so far, blowing right past target goals that I had set when I first decided to participate. This money along with the fundraising efforts of other cyclists will go directly to HIV/AIDS research, treatment and prevention. I ride for the comfort of habit, the fitness, the speed, the sense of belonging or a place I can go to alone depending on the day. But most importantly, the reason is ride is for every beautiful soul who has been infected by AIDS/HIV and for the millions of new infections that will occur if I chose to sit around and do nothing. 

This afternoon feels arctic compared to the warmer weather we had only a week ago. My son is in school and today I am out cycling. I stop when I want to. I talk when I want to. Turn around or keep going...it doesn't matter. A rider passes me in a full sprint on a straight away. The reflex is to gear up and pedal harder but I shut it down.

As much as I enjoy group rides, I enjoy the solitude of being alone just as much. I ride to be my own companion, my own friend, my own enemy. I break down the walls in my head and heart that I have spent years building. How come I am always a better person, in my head at least, when I'm riding?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

My Life Behind Bars: The Group Ride

Up before the sun
When I started cycling, a ride was simple. I'd get ready when I wanted to, leave when I wanted to and head toward the bicycle path to avoid as much traffic as possible. At the time I didn't go very far, had few friends who cycled and I was learning the ropes so being alone saved me from embarrassment. Fortunately, times have changed.

It's 6:00AM and I'm awake, feeding the dogs, getting some coffee and checking email. There are thoughts running through my head: I need 30 minutes to get to the location of the ride. It will take me double that to shower, apply sunscreen, apply chamois butter and suit up. I forgot to check the air pressure in my tires but I did it a few days ago and there is now no time. No more time for distractions. I can't be late.

Luckily when I arrive I have time to spare to check my tire pressure. There's a lot of banter and I am offered a donut. I eat my energy bar instead and stuff another one into my pocket. I stand around while other people check their air pressure, someone else fixes a cleat and another finishes their coffee.


It is funny that now I can spend as much time getting ready to ride as I actually spend doing it. Maybe cycling was a lot simpler when I first started but maybe this AIDS/Lifecycle community is becoming the real reason I ride my bike....for the shared donuts, the pointless chatter and the friendships I have forged along the way. These are things to truly be thankful for.

Route map failed so it's time to check our phone's GPS

Hydrate and selfies at Noah's Bagels



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When One Has Filthy Hair, a Hat is a Good Accessory


This is probably the biggest take-away since breaking my right wrist. My mom is coming for a visit starting next week and she has no idea yet her job will be blow drying my hair...but this is not what this post is about. 
What it is about is because of the generous donations of my AIDS/Lifecycle sponsors for pushing my fundraising over $500 in August, I qualified for one of these three cool cycling caps! I don’t think ever in my life have so many people been directly responsible for me being so very, very grateful.

Even though I will be wearing this cap, this cap is not mine. This cap belongs to the nine individuals and couples who have dedicated their financial resources and shared in such an important cause. They are also the ones who are helping me achieve this lofty goal of cycling 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. All cyclists are required to have a minimum of $3,000 in their fundraising account by Orientation Day in order to ride in AIDS/Lifecycle so thank you for bringing me over 30% of the way there but obviously I still have a ways to go! 
I ask you to give what you can by making a tax-deductible donation today. Any amount helps! You can make your donation in instalments or make it all at once. They make giving easy!
Once again, thank you for your contributions!



Monday, July 20, 2015

Learning Beyond the Book



(My dominant hand still remains in a great deal of pain and rather useless so I am resurrecting an old blog post with some new updates. It is also that time of year where even unschoolers are gearing up for the new school year so it also seems fitting to bring this one back....)
 
Bome Bell's at Tinkering School.
Alternative education must be catching on. A few weeks ago we were asked to submit our re-enrollment packet to Cedar Life Academy (the Private School Satellite Program that we "hire" to provide paperwork assistance and homeschool mentoring) early because they are wait listed!

Part of the enrollment process is submitting a Course of Study for the school year. Different from a curriculum written by someone who doesn't know my child and knows nothing of the kind of parent I want to be, Bome Bell and I collectively design a description using our local requirements based on natural learning.

In a discussion between celebrity unschooler mom, Pam Sorooshian and educator and activist, Marion Brady, Brady said that a school curriculum:
A. has no clear, overarching aim 
B. does not respect the brain's need for order and organization 
C. neglects important fields of study 
D. disregards the inherent seamlessness of knowledge 
E. fails to move students through ever-increasing levels of complexity 
F does not distinguish between degrees of importance of content 
G. insufficiently relates to real-world experience 
H. neglects higher-order thought processes 
J. unduly emphasizes symbol manipulation skills 
K. has no built-in self-renewing capability 
L. is overly dependent on extrinsic motivation 
M. makes unreasonable demands on memory 
N. lacks a comprehensive vocabulary shared by all educators 
O. assigns students an unnatural, passive role 
P. fails to put specialized studies in holistic perspective 
Q. does not encourage novel, creative thought 
R. penalizes rather than capitalizes on student variability 
S. encourages simplistic methods of evaluation 
T. neglects the basic knowledge-creating process 
U. fails to address ethical and moral issues
Pam responded by saying;
"all of this matters a lot for designing a curriculum that is going to be "used on" students who are required to be "in school". What a great world it would be, if this kind of thinking about schooling was pervasive. But the only one that really matters to unschoolers is "O"...assigns students an unnatural, passive role. Unschooling could almost be defined as the opposite of that...it is allowing children their "natural, active roll" in their own learning. If we do that well, all the rest of Brady's points would take care of themselves."
At Chez Collier, we believe that life is not compartmentalized into subjects and neither should education be. All subjects overlap and are inherently intertwined, however, for the purpose of California State Department of Education, we have included ten subjects below and how we believe they will be learned as The Feral Child enters eighth (GASP!) grade!

English: Improving reading skills through various novels and short stories; types of poetry; biography and autobiography; listening skills; refining dictionary skill; spelling

Social Sciences: Lands and people of the world; yesterday and today current events; contemporary problems and issues; the environment; world geography and map skills

Foreign Language: Hayden will have the opportunity to develop an understanding, speaking, reading and writing skills in Spanish and French.

Physical Education: Swim lessons with the probability of joining a team; continuation of jujitsu with the probability of earning his purple belt; youth workshops at Coach 2 Edify; health and physical education will be fully integrated as part of daily living skills.

Science: Heredity and genetics; effects of weather and climate; rocks, soil and minerals; ecology and environment; conservation; laws of motion; energy

Math: Order of operation; ratios, proportions and percentages; basic geometry concepts and terms; elementary business math; use of calculators and computers; maintaining his own debit card with attached account

Fine Arts: Painting, drawing and creating at home and at classes held at Learn Beyond the Book; attending theater and musical events; attending community events; learning about artists and composers.

Applied Arts: Consumer and homemaker education will be offered in a variety of ways including general business education and agriculture.

Career Technical Education: Game design and programming classes will be offered at Learn Beyond the Book and include such topics as game design, interactive experience design, game design and game play, gaming algorithms, interactive design concepts, logic and representation and game scripting.

Health: Shopping and preparing food, discuss healthy diet and nutrition, participate in emergency preparedness, develop good hygiene.

The above areas of study will be offered yet if Bome Bell chooses to learn something else, that is acceptable. I still will make all subjects available. Understand, this is only a guideline for the school year and things can be added or removed as needed. The Course of Study does not only keep me in compliance but also helps me look at what we want to accomplish. I review this list monthly, as part of my personal homeschooling assessment, and update it at any time I choose.

There are no tests. I am able to assess Bome Bell on a daily basis, as I watch him discover new things, and observe his skills improving. I have the privilege of being “on the spot” when “a light turns on” and he makes a new discovery. I don’t have a timetable for when he will learn each new skill, and trust that he will learn everything he needs for his life in his own time. Consequently, there is no need to assess or compare him to others. I keep this blog about our family’s learning. We also keep nearly everything he produces.

It may not seem as such to the "schooly mind" but Bome Bell's education is very important and I believe he is learning no matter what activity he is engaged in. Therefore, he is learning (or being taught) all his waking hours. It would be very difficult to separate when he is learning, from when he is not. I believe living and learning are inextricably linked. 

Our weeks are filled with interesting activities, which provide an exceptionally rich education. Our days are structured around ordinary routines though there are never two days the same. Every day I am committed to Bome Bell’s well-being and education, and endeavor to provide him with a memorable and excellent foundation for his future.

We are always learning, and have read some excellent resources on home education, and how children learn. We make great use of the internet in learning new information, challenging assumptions, and assessing our course of study.

Our routine is changeable...I see this as a positive thing...being adaptable to the needs of my child. My love for Bome Bell is not, however, and what is best for him is always at the forefront of my mind. I am very proud of this guy. I already have four years of his college tuition saved up and I plan to help him have the very best education he can possibly have doing what he is passionate about.

I sincerely hope this helps those who have asked me questions about homeschooling/unschooling and how we do it. If you reside in California and have more questions, please contact Karen Taylor at Cedar Life Academy (cedarlifeacademy@gmail.com) Karen also provides homeschooling information on FacebookPinterest and her blog.

Friday, July 10, 2015

That's How I Roll

If you've ever experienced a sports related injury, you're probably familiar with that sinking feeling after hearing a POP followed by a sharp pain. Your mind races as you consider recovery time and the impact it will have on your physical goals. The stress and frustration from being a very physical person to not even being able to dress yourself can make you feel like a caged animal resulting in hopelessness and depression. 

Cast Affirmations
This is exactly what I've been feeling since my Rollerblading accident resulting in a fracture of both the radial and ulna bones on my right wrist. When it happened I immediately thought about my commitment to riding in next year's AIDS/Lifecycle charity ride and how much time would it take to recover. As the week and numerous appointments with the orthopedist wore on, I became susceptible to depression, anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks to the accident, feeling like I've let my personal trainer down, irritability and low self-esteem.

I came to exercise as a way of moderating depression. Now that I am injured, I not only have to deal with the pain and stress of being injured but I have lost my primary coping strategy. To couple that with a delay in my ALC training, you can imagine what a blow this is.

The good news is that today I decided the pessimism is getting old and boring and I needed something else to go over. So, I started thinking about what I have to be thankful for. What I came to was that I will recover and even with eight weeks in a cast and six weeks of physical therapy (providing no surgery), I still have plenty of time to train like a badass. I have a husband that worked from home this week to help me all the while taking a heap load of my shit and who still loves and supports me. I have a mom whose care and concern showed through the 7,000 miles that separate us. A personal trainer who sent me affirmations every day and came over with some helpful alternative pain management therapy to the vicodin that makes me sick and several others who offered their support and good vibrations.

For me, the psychological part is the first step to recovery and in a few months I'll be back to being awesome!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

S.O.S. & Rose Yoga Personal Development: The Perfect Pair


"Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open."- B.K.S. Iyengar
Self-Optimization Sanctuary (AKA SOS), is the practice of the mind, body and spirit. It is a path toward the union of the human spirit with the divine consciousness. It can align us with our true self. SOS has the power to change, heal and transform.

Rose Yoga is a system of reviewing, rebalancing and replacing to achieve results so that you can identify, remove and replace any blocks that are holding you back from achieving your goals. Together with SOS, Rose Yoga is transforming my health, body-image and relationships.

My Self-Optimization Sanctuary (SOS)
In my private training sessions with SOS focus at Coach 2 Edify along with one-on-one sessions with my Rose Yoga mentor, Carly, I have begun to notice changes not just physically but also in my thought patterns. Both have freed me from the chains of depression and pain, transforming me into the Phoenix rising from the ashes. Improvement in my self-esteem has been my reward. SOS and Rose Yoga have lifted me out of darkness and delivered me into the light. They have liberated me from fears and revealed a new world of freedom and possibility. They allow me to transcend the limits of the physical mind, to access higher levels of consciousness and awareness. They have energetically shifted my life forever and allowed me to step into my true self.

Simply put, SOS and Rose Yoga are changing everything.

I feel my life unfolding. New opportunities have risen. I accept more challenges. I cry through meditation as I feel my estranged sister's hand in mine, healing from the wounds we have inflicted upon each other.

My eating disorder has become something that I can work through with breath, consciousness and the new-found courage that my SOS practice gives me.

Here I am, 1 1/2 months into my SOS training and two weeks into my apprenticeship with Rose Yoga Personal Development, already with the hope, strength, love and power that only these two could have given me. I have the tools to not only face life with my head up but also to carve the life I choose to live. I can recover, I can heal. I can connect. I am capable of anything.


These are the lessons my SOS practice and coaching continue to teach me every day:

1. Every Day is an Opportunity for a New Beginning: My SOS practice is different every day. Weights and movements that are hard one day are manageable or even easy on another. I just have to accept what is happening on the mat for me that day. I appreciate what I have on each given day...and I know I can start again tomorrow.

2. The Value of Pause: A friend once described me as a mosquito....quick thinking, fast talking, having a million-miles-an-hour-mind. It has had its perks but when that chatter becomes destructive, it's hard to stop the snowball effect. Both SOS and Rose Yoga have taught me to pause and be still. I appreciate nothing more than those golden moments when I am moving, fluidly, in a dream-like state, aware only of the flow of my own breath. Finally, my mind gives it a rest and I become free from its bondage.

3. Expression of My Soul: The OmGym "cocoon" has become an amazing opportunity for an encounter with my true self. Seated meditation is still a challenge for me but in the cocoon I connect with my soul. I don't think but things come to me...insights into myself and I am left in awe of what is in my heart.

4. Fear Paralyzes: Challenging movements teach me that my fears and doubts paralyze me. When I doubt, I fall out and when I'm scared to fall, fail or get hurt, I just don't do anything. It's my strategy in life, too. So now I fall, I get hurt and I get up...because it's SO important to DO something and when it doesn't work out the way I planned, It's never as significant as I thought it would be.

5. Love Thy Body: The way my SOS time has me seeing my body is that we're a team. All my organs, cells, glands and me....we have a little support group going on. I look after them and they look after me. We chat and listen and I learn so much from all of them because this "God Pod" knows endlessly more than I could ever fathom. We heal each other every day.

6. Acceptance: My SOS practice and Rose Yoga coaching teaches me to be at peace with what is even if it's not how I had envisioned it. I will be on a mission to conquer an Animal Flow movement, without progress to get excited about, when suddenly, without warning, I will get another movement down. Just like that! For every movement that has eluded me, I am given another just as lovely instead.

7. My Endless Potential: I have expanded my mind and body in ways that have me realize how much more there is to me. It's a journey during which I am expanding my potential and my understanding of the limitlessness of being human.

8. Physical Body Improvements: I will be 45 in November but I'm in better physical shape than I was in my 20's. I am strong and healthy! No diet, no starvation, no extremes...just me and my "tribe" doing the work as a team!

9. Happiness: SOS time has made me happy. I get an intense sense of joy when I roll out my purple mat, write down my intentions for this workout and get into my first downward facing dog. When I am finished, I am centered and peaceful...and happy. I am being with what is. I am.

My personal trainer, Mayra. (photo courtesy of Deborah Kolb Photography)
My Rose Yoga Personal Development Coach, Carly. (Photo courtesy of Takahiro Watanabe Photography)
I've learned a lot of amazing things on my mat with incredible teachers such as Mayra and Carly. These women are inspiring, sharing and being authentic in the quest for wholeheartedness and vulnerability. Yes, vulnerability....it's something most people let shame them, yet on our mats we sweat out more than just toxic substances in our bodies. We sweat them out of our hearts and minds.

OmGym Time!!!
As Carly says, "Imagine what your life would feel like two years from now if you did nothing and stayed the same". I wonder what would have happened had I fallen in love with yoga, weight training, OmGym, Animal Flow and cycling instead of an eating disorder or codependent relationships? Is this why I crave my SOS time? Even when it makes me want to puke or cry, it can also make me laugh, depending on the day. It's accountability at its finest, most physical reminder. Binging and purging does not get along well with planking but when I don't do it, planking feels fantastic!! I guess I've been asleep in my core for a long time and this waking up is a sort of deliciousness that has nothing to do with chips and guacamole.

...and I love it!

"I feel a shyness and a building of confidence. After the cleanse you will step into a place where you feel more powerful and confident. Because letting go of that critical voice shadow, you will stop striving for perfection but remember again you are perfect." - Reading from intuitive, Malika Love
I AM authentic, strong and healthy. What are you?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Having My Cake But Not Stuffing My Face with It


(source)
Veganism is a health-conscious diet that requires discipline and nutritional knowledge but for me, it took a turn toward an obsession. After a thirteen year struggle with bulimia and seven years of anorexia prior, I used the vegan diet as an excuse that drove me to an even greater unhealthy relationship with food and an increasingly restrictive diet. 

No matter how hard I tried to be *perfect*, I would ultimately fail, either by having some *toxic* non-dairy creamer in my *anti-Christ* coffee or by polishing off the last of Bome Bell's *evil* Kraft macaroni and cheese. This lead me to self-loathing, purging and unhealthy attitudes toward food. 

I confided about my latest binge last week to my personal trainer. I had never felt so relieved and so terrified about something at the same time. I had already known that I had developed many fears surrounding food and it was clear to me after our discussions that by my ever-growing list of restricted foods, my habits and binging around it worsened. It was the breakthrough I had been looking for!

In the days that have followed I have come to terms with the fact that changes in my restrictive diet needed to be made. I have reintroduced fish and chicken back into my diet and have loosened the reigns on dairy and wheat. My friend Gretchen over at Veggie Grettie had death threats from hardcore vegans (some of which I know personally) when she renounced her vegan card but time away from proselytizing veganism may give me a leg up from the death threats. 

How I am Coping After My Breathrough
  1. Avoid categorizing foods as good or safe -vs- bad or dangerous. Balanced diets are key to health
  2. Trash the idea that a particular diet, weight or body size will automatically lead to happiness and fulfillment
  3. Stop judging others and especially YOURSELF based on the types of food they / you eat or body shape or weight they / you are. Negativity only breeds self-hate and insecurity, which lay the foundation for eating disorders

It is definitely strange going against the principles I have so fiercely defended but I feel like a weight has been lifted. I feel strong, healthy and have more endurance not just in my workouts but in day-to-day living. Even carnivores know the way to better health is to eat more plants and less crap!

To be clear, I still love all the plant-based doctors and their studies. I have enjoyed the education I have received in eCornell's Plant-Based Certification Program. It all has a great deal of merit. I also know that this "dogma" doesn't work for me no matter how hard I try.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Life is Better with Friends



It has been nearly 25 years since I parted ways with a very dear high school friend. It wasn't that we stopped speaking. There were no emotional fireworks to mark our demise. We simply moved on and lost touch. 

This relationship has been significant in my life. Through our relationship I not only experienced a fun friendship, I also had a best friend. He was the first person who saw me the way in which I wished I could see myself. Our relationship felt like a safe haven for me...I felt protected. He was someone I could always count on. I felt loved even when I couldn't love myself and I loved him just as much although I didn't realize it until after he was gone.

Over the years, he became a reference point from where I could draw fond memories. (I can never smell patchouli without thinking of him.) Without him knowing, he had something to teach me and it took nearly all this time to pick up what he was throwing down. Unconditional Love......YES, it took a lot of self-observation to get there but all it has taken to begin that journey is the will to turn my attention inward. Unconditional love is the kind of love that emerges naturally once you stop believing all the junk in your head telling you, "you are not enough....you need this and/or that before you can feel peace...you need others to be a certain way before you can let them in...." As I let go of such thought, not by judging or fighting them but by simply releasing my grip, I naturally entered a state of peace and wholeness within. I then felt that unconditional love is not about what others can give you because you feel lack, it's about the love you can share freely because you're already complete.

Love has no opposites, no conditions, no rules, no separations. Such things exist only in our mind as concepts and ideas trying to shape something so immaterial, immeasurable and vast into a compact, solid shape, It may sound normal due to how we are taught relationships should be but love isn't a definition....Love Is.

You would think letting go of controlling, chasing, needing and attaching to others would leave you alone but as I simply begin to live in the present moment without struggling to change others or myself, not only have I began to enjoy my own company, I began to attract more wonderful connections and friendships in to my life....even my long-lost friend. Imagine!?!?! In this blissful state of being, I am now able to enjoy our friendship more fully for what it is because I no longer use it to fulfill a personal agenda.

We meet every so often for lunch and each time I rediscover what I like so much about him. He, in part, has triggered this whole learning experience for me. Ever since I released my expectations, it became so easy to be friends once again. No negativity. No drama. Just simply an unconditional love and gratitude for everything that we were, that we are and that we will become. I am now able to see more clearly the gem that he is and the love that he has always offered; opportunities for growth, to identify my blockages and embody even more freedom within myself. Through the lightness I am now able more than ever before to see him....to truly, truly see him....and embrace my eternal friend. Thank you for showing up!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Arrested Development


(source)
As Brene' Brown says, by giving a voice to your story it can no longer shame you. I was talking about Brown to my therapist a few weeks back when she recommended I start journaling. More specifically, she asked that I journal about the memories I have that are blocking my recovery and progress...the "wounded child" as she calls it. This is when I finally mentioned that I have this here bloggy-woggy. As much praise as I have received for being so transparent and with how easily the words have flowed through my fingers on to the keyboard, blogging about such memories has had me paralyzed with my first case of writers block.

I've written about past relationships, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, parenting this feral child that no school could contain and now I've decided to drop more of my shit story and let go of more shame that I have allowed to hold me back. So here goes even more authenticity for you; "Hi, my name is Nickey and I am a victim of domestic violence."

I have been asked to review, in objective honesty, the years from age 13 to age 17...the determined age of my arrested development...and all the things that were said and done over that period of my life. It has been easy to dismiss and cover up since I have had a difficult time identifying much of it as abuse. I put up with years of, "this doesn't feel right", and blaming myself before I finally identified it as such.

As a child growing up in a small town, it was quite embarrassing going to school the morning after your parent's name has been in the "Basin Records" (police blotter in local newspaper) for domestic violence...AGAIN. I witnessed many disturbing scenes. Scenes where police were called, doors broken down, people hauled off in handcuffs. Me running to the neighbors house with a bloody split lip for refuge. I was often attacked and accused of all the damage going on in the home. The blame was somehow shifted on to me. Neglect, alcoholism, hurtfulness, manipulation somehow was all my fault. I never spoke of it and it couldn't save me from making self-destructive choices in all of my relationships as I got older.

Having thought about what to write and coming out the other side, here is my advice to my ever-enlightening self and for anyone else who is ready to ditch that suitcase full of sad in exchange for a healthier, more hopeful future.

1. There are two ways for me to look at my teen years. In one, I'm a person who is so unloved and unwanted. In the other, I was born, took a look around and said to myself, "I can totally do better than this. Get your shit. We're leaving". In one, I am a victim (which is what I have been all these years). In the other, I'm in power. Guess which viewpoint I am going with today?

2. All these years I have been blaming everyone. Blame is awesome and it feels good! It feels righteous. It feels powerful. It feels like someone is going to pay for what they did to me. The only problem is as long as I'm blaming, nothing will ever change. Why? Because in order for my life to change, I have to want things to be different. If it feels good to blame then I have to admit I like it and if I like it, I have to admit that I don't really want to change. Blame gets you more of the same.

3. I have been looking back at my childhood like all those unruly customers I use to deal with while working at Kmart as a teenager. My wounded child will be acting up, moaning and complaining about how hard everything is and how unfair life is. I just have to say to her, "Yes, I see you, Miss. I know you have a problem but right now but I am busy. So please shut up and wait your turn". Then I go out and do something productive that will actually change my situation like go for a run or yoga.

Through my shift in consciousness I am learning to heal myself emotionally and physically but most importantly I am learning to reconnect with and heal my wounded child. My lack of love for myself has run deeper than just an eating disorder....it has been in my very core. I have never known to be kind to myself and be grateful for my body. I am receiving the toolbox that is helping me re-frame and manage my pain. 

I received an email from my personal trainer, "the only enemy is the mindset that shifts the responsibilty from a thing to our choices...our beautiful choices that reveal tons of information for our evolution, the good ones the bad ones and the ugly ones...love apologize, forgive and thank all people that created some very challenging circumstances and realize that without these circumstances we wouldn't be who we are today".

Friday, May 1, 2015

Nutrition Fundamentals Pt. 3

(Needing to catch up? Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

Strategy #3: Focus on the Right Numbers

Today marks Day One of my three month long Transformational Fitness Program. Forget skinny....I am training for my mind, body and spirit to be a badass!!!!

For many years, my self-worth was determined by these numbers...

The number on the scale.

The number of calories.

The number of fat grams.

The number of my clothes size.

Focusing on these numbers has made me a wee bit crazy. I thought if I had rigid control over these numbers I would achieve control and my desired weight. Sure, it makes sense. I mean, when it comes down to it, calories in versus calories out will bring you to a certain weight.

What I have learned on my journey is this...you can focus on the numbers until you are frantic but you will miss the big picture of what living a healthy lifestyle in consciousness is really all about.

My focus was so narrow-minded that I was cheating myself out of knowing what achieving a healthy lifestyle really is. My thoughts were reduced to number crunching and what size I could fit into. Now, don't get me wrong...I do believe that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle you should educate yourself about nutrition and fitness. Learning in depth about micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) and macronutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates, etc.) is not only fascinating, it is extremely important in planning a healthy diet.

In the midst of my mind-gunk, I had surpassed my unhealthy and unrealistic goal weight but I had not achieved health. My mind was so focused on those numbers and because of this I was missing out on opportunities to grow. I was failing to see the big picture. I was so unhappy and did not trust my body to take care of all of the aspects of my mind, body and soul.

My personal trainer / life-style coach knows
my struggles and suggested I have a little affirmation when I check in on the scale. This is mine.
(Click on the photo to enlarge.)
Here are some tips I am learning along the way...

1. Trust yourself. While it is beneficial to educate yourself about calories, nutrition and portion sizes, I don't believe that it is beneficial to continue the strict process of calorie counting. I am learned what proper serving sizes look like and I have been able to break free from counting calories. I am learning to trust myself. I am listening more to my body and my hunger cues. It is amazing the things you can learn when you are not focused on those numbers. Those damn numbers! 

2. Find out what interests you and explore it. I have always had a passion for healthy eating and spiritual wellness and once I started focusing on expanding my knowledge, I became extremely interested in ready books, research articles, news stories and magazine articles pertaining to these. Not all of them are good but they all have taught me something. I have learned to be critical about what I read and to challenge what information is being presented. My advice is to explore your interests and learn more. Knowledge is power. I have read many books on nutrition, spirituality, attachment and free-range parenting, natural living, psychology and others. Each book opens my mind in new ways and excites me to see these interests in a different light.

3. Short term goals are good but long term goals are better. I focused too much on short-term goals. I wanted to look good for this reunion or that vacation or my birthday. I have seen magazine covers enticing women to loose 10 pounds by Friday. Crash diets don't fit into a healthy lifestyle. It simply doesn't. As far as weight loss goes, my trainer says it is healthy and realistic to loose one pound a week. What I have learned is by setting long term goals such as where do I see my health in a year, I have become less focused on the day-to-day aspect and realize that despite having an occasional bad day, I am still on the upward, positive incline toward health and well-being. With Mayra's help, I have started seeing my health as a long-term commitment. I am becoming less and less devastated by those bad days. Thinking about these long-term goals take my focus off the day-to-day.

I would love to hear your own experiences. Have you given up the number crunching and felt a better sense of overall health?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Memories Down, Down Under


Flipping my calendar from April to May, it dawned on me that it has been one year since Bome Bell and I traveled to New Zealand. Seems like only last week we were crossing the Pacific with sights set on racing up the steepest street in the world, touring the Cadbury Chocolate Factory and storming Larnach Castle. 

Here is a trip in pictures down memory lane...

Playing on the Moeraki Boulders.

Otago Farmers Market. Bome Bell less than happy to have another photo taken.

Walking (AKA climbing) the worlds steepest street, Baldwin Street.

Scouring the beach for seashells.

Cows are friends, not food...and oh, so kissable, especially this Highland.
Outside Saint Paul's Cathedral.
  
Dunedin Railway Station. Beautiful!

High atop Signal Hill overlooking Dunedin and the Pacific Ocean. "Mom! I think I see our house from here!"

Maori and the Kiwi Haka.

Bome Bell and his flash new boots in Arrowtown.


An old ore cart we found near the beach.
Needless to say, I miss New Zealand like The Biggest Loser misses high fructose corn syrup but the memories that I have, and that I was able to share them with my son alongside my mom, will never be forgotten. 

Here's to the next adventure!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Importance of a Tribe



It has been six weeks since I decided to get my shit together. I am learning to embrace being me. I've fumbled with finding my voice and with accepting myself as worthy of friendship / love / respect / ________ (fill in the blank). It is difficult for me to connect with others sometimes. I feel awkward and / or intimidated. It's taken me all this time....so much wasted time......to step into the light and allow me to be me. It has taken me years to recognize my power. To stake my claim. To acknowledge my passions. To be vulnerable. To speak confidently. To stop apologizing. To take control. To find courage. 

Bit by bit I am getting it together but I am still a new colt learning to balance. The next three months I will be tasked to balance between pushing myself out of my comfort zone and being gentle on myself. I am a faulty person. I am educated on nutrition but suffer from an eating disorder. I am an exerciser who sometimes decides walking is good enough. I am a daughter who sometimes falls short. When this happens I feel guilty and depressed. We all need to remember there is no need to be in it to win it. We need to be in it to do better, to stretch our self-imposed limitations. That, my friends, is more than enough.

Since admitting that my life had become unmanageable and believing that my higher self can restore me to sanity (my version of the first two steps in OA),  I have been fortunate enough to gather a tribe of people. I love that phrase, "tribe", and believe in its power. There are a handful of wonderful and self-assured people who are supporting and encouraging me to live boldly. As someone trying to embrace her identity, the power of others has been compelling. This tribe will carry be through the next phase of my health and healing as I slowly discover myself. There is strength in numbers. There is power in love. When you strip everything away that is all there is....love. This doesn't mean I am starting a peace rally or tie-dying all my shirts. You can still kick ass and love uncontrollably. Trust me.

I believe playfulness is important. So is collaborating and holding each other accountable and celebrating each other and pushing each other to reach further and witnessing each others struggles and accomplishments and fighting sometimes...sometimes it's about creating space that allows us to simply be. To rest. Without judgement. I love my new tribe of souls and can't wait to see where the next quarter of 2015 takes me. 

12 1/2 years ago, I gave birth to my son. Hours after his birth, holding him I nervously thought to myself, "I have no idea what to do with this little boy". I felt enormously ashamed for the way he came into the world. How could I possibly be able to help him find his way in a world when I felt so lost myself? Ultimately, I accepted my son's lead and embraced the idea of simply helping him become who he was intended to be. Nothing more. Nothing less. This is the best gift I have given my son because I am just figuring this all out for myself. Having an unschooled child has changed me. It has made me consider what it means to be in this body and what I want for him and what I might want for myself. Slowly, I began this journey a little over a year ago, looking inward and contemplating those vulnerable and complicated questions. 

My hope for my son is that he realizes the power of a tribe as he grows older. I hope he realizes his inner strength and shares that with me. I hope I am able to help him spread his wings and take flight. I hope he knows how much I love him.

The first quarter of 2014 has been emotionally tiresome for me. To hold my hand to the fire, this tribe will help me concentrate on the positive rather than the negative. Instead of, "I didn't do it right", I will think of all that was accomplished. I will work to ignite my childlike curiosity. Health and happiness are my birthright. As my personal coach for the next three months, Mayra, says, "Loving ourselves as we love others is one of the greatest areas of neglect in our planet. What many view as selfish has become an urgent calling. When we learn to truly love ourselves through daily actions of self-care, then and only then will we be able to truly give something of true value to others."


Thursday, April 23, 2015

doTERRA Discounts


So you love doTERRA but you are hesitating because of the cost? I understand. I also had sticker shock because I was use to paying health food store prices for my essential oils. After using doTERRA, I realized that they are worth every penny and that they actually save me money with my families health and beauty related expenses. I also quickly learned that they are nothing like grocery store oils. They are 100% pure with nothing added. How they are sourced makes all the difference, too. It's like choosing Red Robin over McDonalds. Even so, I never want to pay full price for anything and I won't let you either! I'd love to help you get your essential oils with a discount and even FREE!!!

Here are two pictures. One (with brand carefully obscurred so as not to embarrass them) clearly says, "DO NOT INGEST". The photo at the top, from doTERRA, is labeled as a supplement and say how to use it internally. Both bottles are Peppermint, folks. A food. Something we eat. How can that be unsafe? One is safe. The other is not. It's really that simple. What oil do you trust for your family?
After I help you open your wholesale account, you will receive 25% off everything you order! There is a $35.00 membership fee but think of it like your Costco membership. What's more, is if you choose a started kit with your first order, that $35.00 is waived! You then get to take advantage of all the goodness but you never have to sell a drop of oil if you choose not to.

But once you start using these oils I can almost guarantee that you won't be able to keep it all to yourself! That is why I first chose to just share casually and never turn it into a business. Essential oils can benefit everyone from babies to the elderly. It's so much fun to be able to help others and I know you want to do just that, too!

You do have the opportunity to earn credits towards free oils every month through the Loyalty Rewards Program. This is the cheapest and most intelligent way to re-order after your initial starter purchase. I adore this option and have received so many free oils.

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions:

If I want to sell doTERRA, is there a quota or penalty if I don't sell enough?

No! There is no quota if you want to be a distributor and sell to your circle of friends. However, if you would like to receive a paycheck from doTERRA, then you will have to place a loyalty order of at least 100PV (usually $125.00) per month. I have found this easily attainable because I use these oils as our pharmacy and would spend at least that at Whole Foods or Target on lesser quality items. 

Could I turn this into a job? I'd like to bring more income into our family.

Yes! The possibilities are endless! doTERRA is a wonderful way to bring in extra money and some have even replaced a full-time job. Like any network marketing company, you will make more money by putting in the effort.

What happens when I join doTERRA under you?

You become part of a community that wants to succeed. There are so many resources and training tools available. You can do as much or as little as you want with doTERRA. I am available for free wellness coaching and will help you every step of the way. We have such a beautiful tribe of people who are on this same path and it's pretty fun, too!

Isn't doTERRA a "Pyramid Scheme"?

doTERRA is a network marketing or direct sales company. Big difference! Basically, instead of spending big money on marketing their oils to big box retailers, doTERRA pays their distributors to be the voice of the company. Friend to friend marketing. They do not require huge amounts of money up front and there are no expectations for you to purchase a certain amount. 

Okay, I'm ready to do this! How do I get started?

I'd love to schedule a phone call with you to get you all set up. I've found it's easier to just walk through it together and it takes only 15 to 20 minutes and your oils will be on their way! Just shoot me a message HERE and we'll get started. Can't wait to talk.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reinvent Versus Rediscover



Now is the time in my life when I feel a change of self or direction which is not only desired but required. I think living non-traditionally as an unschooler parent this past year has contributed to this pivotal and significant time of contemplating my current situation.

There are moments when I feel I am no longer the person I once was. I know I was no longer happy being the person I became. I have been taking active steps to emerge as the person I really want to be.
Many questions like,  "who am I?" and "where is life taking me?" started to arise. It was inevitable I had some choices to grapple with.

How I dealt with these questions was considering whether or not this was reinvention and a new forward thinking projecting my identity or looking inward at my core and rediscovering myself from the me of my past.

To decide if what I was seeking was rediscovering or reinvention, I had to consider the options that were presented and what I wanted to eventually achieve.

REINVENTION

When I think about personal reinvention, I think about the 40-year-old man in the throws of a midlife crisis, ditching the minivan for a red Corvette and the wife for a college student. Reinvention represents itself as someone changing their image to appeal to a new "customer".

Given that scenario you would think reinvention is not for me but reinvention is about forward thinking, change, new ideas and doing something different but after trying many incarnations of myself, mostly because of the guy I happened to be with at the time, I have found out everything I need to know about reinvention. Maybe rediscovery was the way to go....

REDISCOVERY

I had become lost and so removed from the person I am that I started to question who I really was and what I really stand for. Life moved at such a fast speed last year and my issues with food persisted for such a significant amount of time that I didn't notice the mistakes I was making until it was nearly too late. 

Rediscovery is about being true to yourself. It's about finding out what makes you, YOU! It's thinking about your core values and what is important to you while looking back at things that were already good and maybe even remembering vital aspects about what makes you happy that may have been forgotten. I could no longer cover up my past or who I really am with what I thought I should be.

I was punishing myself for not being happy until I read research that shows that income and things beyond our basic comforts don't make us happier and may actually make us more unhappy. 

I realized that I had been squishing my real self down all along in order to create this picture-perfect ideal life. Life was falling down around me, or so it seemed, so I started to take my life back by reconnecting with the real me. 

...and it has been like the Universe was just waiting all along for the real me to finally show up and take the stage!

Allow Yourself to be You!

N

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Guess Where I Am?


Click HERE to "Like Us on Facebook"
I have some tickery afoot! In order to stay up to date with the rumblings of Aubergine and Tangerine, you'll need to mozy on over to my brand spankin' new Facebook page with a brand spankin' new cover photo but with all the same look and feel and taste and....and....and....well, I'm getting ahead of myself. This blog is a labor of love and self-expression and with readership growing it feels juuuuust right.

I could tell you all the cool new things I have planned but I think I'll just let you find out on your own. There's not much there yet so bear with me while I iron out the bumps. It's the comments that make this bloggy woggy so totally awesome so let me know what you think and comment....but be gentle. I'm fragile and spent lots of late nights learning about Facebook and blogs and I'm prone to tears when I don't get enough sleep.

So! Go!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Girl Versus Food


It is probably no secret by now that if you and I dine together and there is a bread basket sitting between us, I cannot focus on what you're saying. I'll try but really I'm focused on not consuming the entire basket. After we say our good-byes, I'll go home and thoroughly be haunted by the bread basket. At this point I will either get ready for bed to rid my obsession or I'll jump off the wagon and walk down to my nearest bakery for a muffin followed by anything left in the fridge. 

Yes, my name is Nickey and I am conquered by the bread basket.

Perhaps you, too, are conquered by something. Perhaps you're a boozer or a gambler or a smoker or an over-exerciser or over-worker. Or maybe you drown your problems in a snow pile of blow or have some variation of my food issues. We all have crappy coping mechanisms. At least four nights a week, I would be overtaken with a bodily feeling that I must eat something bad. It felt like a lack in my body that could only be fixed with food. Gluten is my crack!

Like many, I have been saved by the fact that my crappy coping strategies have been invisible. I'm not fat. I have never required rehab. But a few years back, as I started eating again after five years with anorexia, the above has been my life and I reached the point where I couldn't stop eating. I'd like to think that no one knew but I'm well aware of my father with his "passion" for beer and a friend whose marijuana habit long ago passed social. I have been off kilter. The owner of the corner bakery stopped making eye contact.

My therapist reminded me last week that there is a sister program to Alcoholics Anonymous called Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and asked that I attend a meeting. I Googled OA and fell into a vortex of close to 28 meetings a week in West San Fernando Valley alone.  Fourteen daily within three miles of my house.

The thought of saying, "Hello, my name is Nickey and I'm a compulsive overeater", kind of made me want to gag but I went. The Anonymous meetings are free and available around the clock. I found it sort of like Cheers...the place where everyone knows your name. And your sins. 

My first meeting was today, held in the local OA office. I picked this meeting at random from the online schedule and arrived to find a beautiful, thin, blond, dressed in Lululemon workout wear standing next to the door. She looked like she had never had a weight problem in her life. It turns out she has been attending OA for 17 years. Three more women arrived...one overweight, one a bit chunky and one with an athletic build. They, too, were all wearing workout attire. Longtime OA members, I later learned, are very fit people who lost their weight extremely slow on regimented personal food plans, which, along with meeting, they adhere to like a religion for life. 

The first word of the meeting was "God", in the Serenity Prayer, followed by a reading of the 12 Steps. 
Step 3: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Six of the 12 Steps involve God. I was looking to get off cake....

The meeting was very structured with a stopwatch which I imagine is helpful. Someone would read a chapter in the OA book then for precisely three minutes each of us shared. I found sharing perversely soothing because there was someone in the room more fucked up than me. One woman talked of binging and throwing up sometimes twenty times a day!

In my turn, I talked about how I can't remember a time when I wasn't either anorexic, bulimic or a binge eater. That if I eat just one bite of something "bad", it is like pulling the trigger of a gun and I will binge the rest of the day. How I am a vegan and take classes in nutrition and I should know better. The stop watch went off. We read some more and said the Serenity Prayer again. People asked if they could call me. One said she has never asked to call a newbie but she was intrigued by my story. Then it was over. I walked to my car. A guy barely drinking age walked by and said, "Girl, you are fine!" I said, "thanks" sheepishly and went home. 

I was a bit baffled. The program structure seems more related to finding God than addressing my problems. I read that in the 1960's an obese housewife co-opted AA's steps for Overeaters Anonymous, swapping alcoholism for overeating and leaving terms like "abstinence" in place. No nutritionists or mental-health professionals have ever been involved. 

Still, living on potato chips tends to leave a spiritual void. I struggle with this plan and wonder if it is something I want to incorporate in my healing. I wince that I need to have God remove my defects and will my life over to Him. I am not seeking salvation but rather, self-elevation. I also don't like the word, "abstinence". Abstinence makes sense for alcohol but it doesn't for food. We make hundreds of eating choices a day and none of us is going to do it perfectly. I need to be okay with being perfectly imperfect and not throw in the towel with one Thin Mint. I understand there is a benefit but it tends to promote black-or-white, all-or-nothing thinking which is something I am wanting to avoid. 

Even without OA in my life, I have shined high wattage on my flawed coping skills. On those days when I want to crawl through the garbage for a cupcake, it becomes painfully clear that I am reacting to something...perhaps a kid crisis or a generally shitty day. On worse days I eat nothing at all. On my happy days I eat nutrient dense food and I do it with intention.

Many epiphanies I had at this meeting had little to do with OA's structure and everything to do with the longtime members who had an eerily encyclopedic knowledge of exactly how to manage me. One overeater shared that her dieting was the equivalent of being a dry drunk, white-knuckling along without addressing the underlying emotional eating. Me too! Another commented that stress and little sleep always result in a spin-out, so she knows that the battle is always fought the night before. A bulimic announced that her root problem isn't eating buy lying to herself...the"this will be the last time." All very true.

The problem with OA is that it is a substance abuse program used for overeaters. 
Step 8: Make a list of all the persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them.
I can imagine that I have hurt people I have cared about. I know my cruise wasn't all that it could have been if I hadn't had food staring my down at every corner and me either feeling deprived or lacking willpower then retreating to my stateroom, even skipping a formal night, because I felt so disgusted with myself. I know my emotions and actions affected CDeuce and Bome Bell's vacation as well.  

Then there is the OA ideology which deems overeaters powerless over food and in need of God's grace to save them. I find saying I am powerless over something extremely repugnant. 

What OA could provide is a group of people that give friendship and support so I don't feel isolated. I could adopt several OA habits beginning with "sharing" because, as I have found out blogging about it, talking about your feelings for three minutes is kind of great. I often blurt out (or write in this case) exactly what I need to hear. Within the last four days, I haven't binged or purged and am working like hell to eat according to my body's hunger. I look forward to the day when I can once again make eye contact with the corner baker. I don't need to find God. It is always been here. I just needed to open myself up to what was already happening. 

The periodic craving for an IV drip of frosting hasn't disappeared. What is no longer disappearing are periodic jars of frosting intended for someone else's cake...and a few times, the actual cake. Food is everywhere and there will be great freedom in not having to tete-a-tete with with my food issues on an hourly basis. I'm attempting to avoid outright abstinence; a brownie that someone has lovingly prepared is fine but the whole pan is not! Ditto on anything involving potatoes. I'll let you know how it goes.

I see the Anonymous programs as a place you go when your problem is more problematic than 12 Step. It's really a deeply flawed best option and yet I am glad 12 Step is there because there's no doubt it saves a lot of people's lives. Still, I think we need some alternatives because there are people like me who are kind of "meh" or who really don't like it. I would be thrilled to find a nutrition program with the same low-cost and worldwide access as OA but structured by experts. (Actually, I have come close and I can't wait to share but more on that later.)

I will continue on a few more times with this OA adventure. I would have to be a special kind of slow to not give it a try when I have been dealing with my eating disorders for nearly two decades without resolve. It's the only place I have found other urban types who know about the bread basket. Though that problem is fading, too, because I have learned the phrase, "No bread, please."

Friday, April 17, 2015

Take Me to Church


Aside from therapists, nutritionists, personal fitness coaches, counselors, chiropractors and massage therapists (did I miss anybody?), Agape International Spiritual Center is changing me so profoundly. The journey is truly the destination. 

Sunday mornings have transformed from staying in my pajamas until noon to being in a crowd of 1,000 people in Culver City with the air tickling of patchouli. The view swirls with people dressed in everything from dashiki to Armani to Doc Marten's. Hair in every style from Reverend Michael Beckwith's dreadlocks to starlet manes to aged silver buns.    

Once inside, Rev. Michael delivers his empowering sermon proclaiming everyone's "potentiality" while zipping around the pulpit like he just free-based Starbucks. It is not the Jehovah Witness church I was raised around or the Catholic church I became baptized in as an adult. It is never boring or fearful or full of guilt.

I have always claimed that I am spiritual but not religious. I did attempt to assimilate into Christianity by going through R.C.I.A. and being baptized as Catholic but there was much authority and text that I turned away from. Agape seems to meet my longing for connection and celebration without fretting over theological niceties or doctrinal demands on faith or practice. There is no talk of damnation here. 

Agape is a crossroads for a myriad of spiritual experiences. Rev. Michael teaches that we are not born into sin but, instead, born into blessings. While some seek salvation, he calls it "self-elevation". I acknowledge that my Christian friends might call this blasphemy and that these teachings would put most institutional churches out of business. At Agape, it is taught that the kingdom of heaven is within everyone already. That Jesus is not the only access to grace. That we are not here to tell God (Spirit, Source, Divine, Universe, etc.) what to do or to ask God for things but to absolutely be available for what God is already doing. To open ourselves up to catch what is already happening.

I found my way here from recovery from my eating disorder(s) looking for my Higher Power as I work to transform my life. Some of the people I have talked to say that they have maintained their connections to their more traditional denominations. One older lady I met said that she often goes from Agape to the service at her Lutheran church. I have heard a majority of attendees are Jewish and are still active in their synagogue. Muslim, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindu....Agape cuts across all lines to reach what is true. 

Agape's message is of personal empowerment and individual connection with God. It's like a way station in the spiritual journey, a refocusing place where I have come to to get my personal focus back in alignment. This is not "new age" but rather "new thought" combined with wisdom of the ancients. Still, I call Agape by an old, familiar name...

church.