Sometimes I look back with awe – and, frankly, horror – to remember all the years I spent “waiting.”
I was waiting to recover later (after the eating disorder had delivered on all of its [false] promises).
I was waiting until I had more friends, a better personality, more money, a boyfriend.
I used to go out shopping, buying clothes for a person I wasn’t who had a life I didn’t have.
I would think “Well, I’d better buy this bikini/party dress/lingerie set – just in case.”
Finally, one day I asked myself, “Just in case of WHAT?”
Last year my boyfriend and I watched a very sad (but good) movie.
It was called “Now is Good.”
One scene featured some kind of flying contraption – you went inside a clear tube, and somehow it made you float in the air.
Of course, I thought the filmmakers just made it up – something cool you can only do in movies.
When I found out the flying contraption is a real thing called ‘iFly,’ and that the newest one had just been built in the city of Houston where I live, I signed us right up!
Being a parrot mommy and all, I assumed I would be a natural.
Plus, I was so eager to discover if real-life flying would feel like the flying I do in my dreams (which feels very floaty yet controlled, and so wonderful!)
When we got to iFly, we quickly got all oriented and suited up (our ensemble included a full “flight suit,” goggles, ear plugs, AND helmet).
Then we entered the flying chamber, where we discovered the way we would fly is to be hit from below by 170 mph gusts of artificial “wind.”
When the instructors did it, they looked graceful and confident, like human birds.
When my boyfriend did it, he was a pure natural – he said it was so relaxing he nearly fell asleep in the chamber.
When I did it, I felt like a giant (and really pissed off) bird had just chewed me up, swallowed me, and then spit me back out again.
I emerged shaking and sweating, drool coating my chin and the top of my neck (the wind blew my mouth open and my saliva took its chance and made a break for it).
So we are well into the first month of January 2015!
How is it going so far?
For me, it is quite exciting!
But then again, that is because these days, I find the unknown, the unexpected, the un-plannable, energizing and fun.
When I was sick with an eating disorder, this was NOT the case.
I have had to learn that (as one of my favorite mentors, Byron Katie, often says):
“This is a friendly universe.”
But her words alone didn’t convince me – oh no.
Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.
As my mentor, Lynn, often likes to remind me, the moment I set an intention towards achieving something, what comes up first are all the obstacles in between me and the full manifestation of that intention.
Speaking of which, one ongoing intention I’ve been working towards for the last few years is learning to love unconditionally – myself and others.
So far, I am finding this very, very difficult.
There are several challenges (and here, I also have to mention that these challenges are just the ones I know of thus far!):
So yesterday morning was New Year’s Day….my FAVORITE day of each new year.
Even though, technically, January 1 is just one day in a year full of days, for me, it always feels reliably fresh and special.
This particular New Year’s Day feels especially fresh and special because it ushers in some big changes in my life (more about that in my next post!)
To celebrate, I decided to sleep in and meditate for as long as I felt moved to do so – no rushing myself through it so I could rise and do “more important things.”
I’m so glad I did, because my New Year’s Intention was right there and waiting for me.
My meditation revealed that, for me, 2015 is “The Year of Living Intuitively.”
This makes perfect sense, because I am stepping out of some long-term career commitments and into new unknown beginnings.
Well here we are – once again, it is nearly time for a brand new year to launch!
I always get so excited when a new year arrives.
It feels like encountering a giant blank chalkboard, complete with the most marvelous array of colored chalk.
The chalkboard is all mine – as is the chalk. Whatever I draw on the chalkboard is what will unfold in the year to come.
(By the way, I actually do this at home – I have a big wall-sized chalkboard and lots of colored chalk, and all year long I continue editing and adding new dreams to my chalk board).
I can thank my ongoing recovery journey for this wonderful way of welcoming a new year.
I used to dread the month of November.
And not just because of all the scary F.O.O.D.
I dreaded it because November is the “month of gratitude.”
I so wanted to be grateful – to feel grateful – to feel _genuinely_ grateful (as opposed to “faking it until you make it” grateful).
I wanted to be that kind of good person who could feel totally, deeply grateful for life’s blessings….without simultaneously wishing for so much more than what I had.
For instance – I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to have friends (besides my eating disorder, that is!).
I wanted to be able to sit down and enjoy a festive meal with loved ones free from fear.
I wanted to like what I saw in the mirror.
I wanted to love and be loved – to fall in love – to have romance and peace and joy and fulfillment in my life.
So I would start listing out the things I was grateful for, only to be confronted by this other list of all the things I felt I desperately wanted and needed that would never be mine.
In a word….PAIN.
I recently returned from our family’s annual pilgrimage to Cape Cod.
Cape Cod is my favorite place on Earth.
I can learn more there, unwind more there, rest more there, restore more there, in just 24 hours than in 24 days back in my hometown of Houston, Texas (or anyplace else, for that matter).
This year – my fourth year of visiting the Cape – I have finally begun to detect the reason why.
Here at the Cape, and especially in the small town of Truro where we stay (Truro is the most remote town on the Cape itself), the ratio of nature to humanity is much more balanced.
In other words, here, human beings are in the distinct minority.
There are 100 trees to every one human, and nearly as many wild turkeys, dogs, and assorted wild birds in similar ratios.
Same holds true for sea life.
In fact, much of the Cape is made up of national parks and reserves – places where wildlife merit much stricter protections than man.
For this same reason, Park Rangers are a big fixture here – and yes, they do wear the traditional green and khaki outfits, complete with hats that would make Smoky the Bear proud.
During tourist season, the Park Rangers lead all kinds of nature walks and talks. During these events, they like to tell tourists, “when you enter the sea, you enter the food chain.”
The older I get, the more perspective I gain about what works for me – and also what doesn’t.
For instance, trying to manage the stressors of life by using eating disordered behaviors doesn’t work.
Drinking caffeine all day to keep my energy level at a consistent “high” doesn’t work.
Ruminating excessively on all possible “worst case scenario” outcomes doesn’t work.
Taking handfuls of over-the-counter mood management supplements doesn’t work.
These are just a few examples.
What works for me is quite simple: medication + meditation.
Specifically in that order.
Meditation without medication offers some benefits, as does medication without meditation.
But together, they have forged an alliance that has given me a quality of life I had no thought possible.
Recently, I happened across a post on marine ecologist and author Carl Safina’s website called “How to Be Important After Graduation (Anytime Really).”
I wish I could remember anything – even a single word – our commencement speaker shared the day I graduated.
If any of the words had been these words, I know I would still remember them.
Carl begins his speech by saying “graduation is always a joyful time.”
It wasn’t joyful for me.
It was scary, and strange, and artificial.
I felt lonely and very much unprepared.
I wasn’t ready for any of it, but it wouldn’t wait any longer. I could hear it in the background stamping its increasingly impatient little foot, telling me I’d better hurry up and get ready….”or else.”