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 need this and/or that before you can feel 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 truly, truly see him....and embrace my eternal friend. Thank you for showing up!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Arrested Development

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 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 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 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?