A Balanced Meal - 2014
Some days I still get caught up in old patterns of thought and action. I start thinking it's all about the food, and I contemplate a diet plan or click on an ad for the latest miracle food that will guarantee a flat stomach overnight.
But more than just the old habits of diet, body-image, weight gain or weight loss, I get caught up in thinking that what I do for a living, or how I keep my house, or who thinks I'm a lunatic is really important. I find my jaw clenched, my shoulders up level with my eardrums and my head hurting from frowning in concentration. No, let's be honest, I'm frowning in stress and worry.
It's those days that I need to step back and get a little perspective. It is because of those days that I work hard to keep the truly important things in life at the forefront of my mind. It is my desire to focus on the bigger picture that inspires me to continue to write each week.
I had a friend who, when I would get up on my soap box about something, would let me go on and on and on until I had run out of steam and then ask, “Who are you trying to convince?” It was a very effective way of letting me know I was trying to talk myself into something I didn't fully believe.
Years of believing that everything is physical, that diets are the only way to change body size, and that emotion has nothing to do with it, are hard to overcome. So I acknowledge that weekly writing is my effort to convince myself of my own truth. And it is also a practice, for without practice I will never become proficient. Without practice of a new habit, the old habits win and nothing changes.
Along with writing, I have developed a habit of noticing and listening. Today, I heard something simple and it had an extraordinary effect on me. I'd like to share it here in the hope that my experience might resonate with someone else. So here it is, from me to you, with joy.
The Wind Chime
As I went about my daily chores ticking items off the list and worrying the details down to nubs a wind chime softly sang a smile onto my lips. My shoulders dropped, eased by the sound of that breeze and I found my balance once again.
Dinner Conversations - 2014
Over the past two weeks I have had email, phone, and in-person conversations with friends near and far. We might go weeks or months without any contact and then pick up right where we left off. I don't remember a time when so many of these conversations happened so spontaneously and so close together. It was almost like having a party, with everyone sitting down to share a meal and catch up.
Well, it would have been a chaotic party, because most of them don't know each other. I would have been catching up with each of them. They would have been introducing themselves to each other and telling tales on me!
In these conversations, we have shared the major events in our lives since the last time we spoke. We have shared sorrows, losses, achievements, joys, and all the little everyday happenings in our lives. And at some point in each conversation, or email, or text exchange, we shared a huge belly laugh. Whether it was a shared joke from long ago or some funny comment about what one of us said, we laughed out loud.
That laughter is what I choose to dine on. While I am dealing with physical challenges that drain my energy, I struggle to actually enjoy social activities and my work. I know, in my head, that what I do every day is usually a source of satisfaction and joy for me. Right now, until I get some physical relief, everything feels like a test of my endurance. And that's why the laughter, out-and-out belly laughter, is so welcome.
Feeling the connections with people I love renews my energy in ways that sleep and rest can't begin to do. But the laughter allows me to feel good. The laughter puts me in touch with joy again, not just in my head, but in my whole body and soul. When they say laughter is the best medicine, they are not kidding. I have drugs that manage the pain, sort of. But laughter is getting me through this.
Once again, for the third time in a year and a half, I am looking forward to a treatment that has the potential to bring me long-lasting relief. I feel like I've been down this road before. I am optimistic because the only reality I will accept for myself is to be healed from this pain. In the meantime, I will dine with friends on loving conversations and shared experiences. And we will all have tall glasses of laughter to drink from, deeply and often.
Progressive Dinner – 2014
Back in a former lifetime, or so it seems, I was a member of a women's volunteer organization. One of our annual activities was a progressive dinner. We would start at one member's house for appetizers, then go to the next house for salads, then on to the next house for main course, and on to another house for dessert. There may have been more courses, but you get the idea. There was a fund raising element to it, and I know it was designed to build friendships and closer ties among the group members. We had a lot of fun as we learned to appreciate new dishes and we definitely exchanged recipes.
Those progressive dinners came to mind the other day as I was out walking. My dog and I were making our progress around the apartment complex grounds and I was noticing how good it felt to walk. That's all. It felt so good to walk. I was savoring every movement of my legs and every step I took. I was thinking about how the distance I can walk has progressed every week.
Every step I take toward appreciating the simplest of my abilities, the more progress I make in living a joyful life. It was definitely a hard way to learn gratitude, but it certainly was effective. I went from not believing I could ever really feel good again, to being pain free nearly overnight. And without judgment, it's quite often the fact that I don't seem to learn true gratitude until I have been deprived of something I usually take for granted.
On our progressive dinners, we never looked back to the prior course and wished we had just stayed there, not moving on the next culinary delight. And so in my life, I don't look back with regret. I am not sorry for the past 20 months of my life. I am not sorry that I couldn't have learned to be grateful for my health without losing it. I am moving forward. I have a deeper understanding of my body and my abilities. I have a much deeper appreciation for my physical limits. And I have a deeper gratitude for motion, for forward progress.
Today's main meal is a progressive dinner. Every step I take, no matter the consequences, moves me forward in understanding, compassion, and gratitude. I love the new insights I have gained, the recipes for living. I am nowhere near the final course yet, so I think it's time to move on and see what's in store for me next.