Wednesday, September 7, 2016

I'm in LOVE!!!

I was preparing an absolutely enormous spinach salad for dinner when I had this revelation: I'm in love, and it's changed everything.

I spent my teens and twenties at war with my body... stressing about it, crying about it, trying to shrink it, hide it, living in fear of it. I felt most confident and most accomplished when I succeeded at starving or training it into a smaller size.

As I neared 30, mercifully, that self-hatred began to wane. The concept that my appearance had to change for me to accept myself and be accepted started to fray and unravel. As the flimsy veil fell, something better blossomed: forgiveness, confidence, a deeper understanding that our lives are not the surface things they seem to be. There is a universe outside of us, and within us, and the most astonishing part is that they're one.

But what motivates us to be our best selves (our healthiest, most productive, creative, truest selves) when our inner drill sergeant puts down the bullhorn? My inner trainer, The Punisher, had berated me until I'd cried, until I'd vowed to set a determined goal and achieve it. The means were healthy, and the achievements were positive, but my mind was not. The cycle always repeated.

I was fixed to the outcomes. I had never acted to improve my health purely out of unapologetic, unbridled, overwhelming LOVE for my precious life. My actions had been inextricably bound to the results, and when I achieved them, I proclaimed, "I have arrived. I'm one of the beautiful people. I can rest easy."

And sure enough, whiskey, french fries and fun would take over, and I'd have to do it all over again. What I lacked was LOVE for the journey and the genuine LOVE it takes to give your body what it actually wants and needs.

Do you love yourself enough to take excellent care of yourself? I finally do.

I've finally answered what feels like my life-long question: what will motivate me if not self-hate? Self-love, baby. REAL love. It's been so stunningly simple all along.

I thought love meant giving into the brain's every desire: sit idle, stay asleep, french fries, french fries, french fries. But get a daily taste of what the SOUL desires, and you won't soon forget the glory of a sunrise, sunset, how it feels to breathe and sweat. How much better is an overflowing bowl of juicy berries than a greasy burger and its energy-sapping aftermath? How wonderful is it to look at your dinner plate and say, "nobody suffered for this; nobody died."

Is it the transition to a plant-based diet? Is it growing up? Maybe there's no one reason why compassion has flooded my veins, but LOVE is a drug I want to stay hooked on. When you love yourself, you give yourself what you need. When you love yourself, you take care of your mind and body. When you love yourself, you don't let everything stress and upset you. When you love yourself, you know that you're whole... just you and nothing else... no need to mask it, stuff it, shrink it, paint it, or pull up the covers and sleep.

I'm in love with myself, and it's changed everything.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Give Yourself A Power Hour!

At 7:15am, with sun streaming through gaps in the bedroom curtains, I set feet to floor without groan or grimace.

Step 1: Drink the 8oz glass of water, ready and waiting on my nightstand.
Step 2: Throw on shorts and a T-shirt (the beauty of summer). Brush teeth, wash face. Slip into shoes, and go outside.

I set my phone's timer for 10 minutes and put in earbuds, no music -- just waiting for the 10-minute chime to sound. For the first 10 minutes, firm feet and strong body taking me higher up the hills of my neighborhood, and I declare my gratitude. I am grateful to live in a safe and beautiful place. I am grateful to have the drive and determination to be active. I am grateful that my heart and soul are able to absorb and appreciate goodness and beauty all around me. I'm grateful for my health, my friends, my family.

Delicate chimes twinkle in my earbuds, and I restart the timer. Choosing which streets to go down as I please, perhaps heading for a nice view, a good hill, a soft path, or just following a rabbit. For this 10 minutes, I turn my mind to my goals. I visualize myself achieving them. I integrate goals and gratefulness. I am grateful that it is within my power to live an extraordinary life. I am grateful for the ability to control how I react to the events of my life through such simple tools as deep breaths, fun and restorative exercise, proud posture, daily patience, and good food. I must continue to nourish my body and mind every day. I must continue to live life with purposeful intention -- as if it matters, because it matters. I can achieve whatever I focus on. These are my goals. I focus on the future as I move forward physically, through space and time, across the sun-streaked streets of my quiet neighborhood, which is beginning to stir.

Good morning, good morning. I see the friendly faces of families and their dogs. We smile or wave and say "good morning." What a simple joy I'd been sleeping through, tossing and turning at 7am instead of greeting the day. I love this healthy habit. I want to teach it to my muscles until they do it reflexively. The morning is for sun, movement, breathing, smiling, and embracing this day of life.

The chimes sound, and I reset my timer once more. In this last 10-minute interval, I decide what I want to achieve today. I reflect on my schedule and obligations, looking for ways to find joy in each task, deciding what attitude I intend to bring to each event. I notice the plans that make me smile automatically, like yoga, dance, and dinner. I make an action plan to do at least one thing I've been meaning to do. I want nothing weighing on me. (Procrastination creates a heavy burden.) I'm determined to make progress every day. Setting beautiful goals for health, wealth, peace, and joy... putting my energy toward them every day... that's the recipe.

Be prolific. Just do it. Put it out there. Don't wait. We're not guaranteed another day, nor do we thrive when our days are filled with put off things -- and carrying the burden of all those obligations, all that excess guilt and literal weight. I want to be light, efficient, minimalistic; compassionate, ethical, cruelty-free. I want to take in the very minutes of this life given to me. To quote Steven Tyler, I don't want to miss a thing.

A lot has changed in the past year and a half. I lost my dad. I stopped eating meat. I stopped simply asking myself what I really wanted, and I started finding ways to really go for it. Traversing the grief of losing someone who feels like a part of me was a painful and beautiful awakening to spiritual interconnectedness, eternal energy, the sanctity of life, the mystery and majesty of the universe around us -- which we too often ignore and take for granted. I want to live my life in full appreciation, synchronicity, and peace. I will not give ultimate power to my egoic mind and its lying chatter... It tells me I'm separate -- contained in my body, that my body is separate from yours, and unlike yours, and even inferior to yours. It says I should worry, and live in fear of new situations and other human beings. It says my past failures have the power to haunt me and limit my future choices. It's a liar.

I am infinite. I absorb the sun. I connect to every bit of matter within me and beyond me. We are the same. I swim through a sea of choices. I reach for the most beautiful, twinkling bits of star-stuff I see. There is no need to drown in darkness. Swim toward the light.

The final chime. Turn keys in door, say "good morning" once more. Make a blender full of healthy smoothie, and share it. Send my love on his way with nutrition I prepared. Reflect on those plans I set while I was out there pounding feet to pavement. Take a seat at my desk, with my smoothie, and smile. Redetermine the intention to make progress, make a difference, succeed. Breathe. Be.

This is my power hour. Sending love, purpose, and strength to you, too. Xx