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“What Lights You Up?” ….She answered, smugly.

“What makes you light up?” my therapeutic healing yoga instructor asked as we melted into the mat, nothing more than fleeting thoughts and deep breathing. Semi-meditative, we welcomed flashes of feelings instead of the usual focus of a mantra.

Alistair exuberant, Alex laughing, my parents hugging, Weasley’s run in an open park. Susan’s arm link and brisk walk. Fi’s knowing smile on the top deck of a Lothian bus. Walking out to my sister standing in my living room and seeing a missing piece of myself staring back at me. 

These were all people; this was all love.

“Try not to think of relationships,” she’d urged previously. “Try to think of the feeling- the physical feeling of lighting up.”

The acceleration of a plane taking off, cold feet in hot water, walking into a classroom, the opening sequence of a film, the full-body vibration of live music, the initial crack and smell of a new hardback, hands in Alistair’s thick hair, hands on Alex’s rough cheek, being squeezed in a full embrace, the texture of a scone, the tapping flow of the keyboard, the rush of a roller coaster, the reverence of personal prayer. 

As the exercise ended, we took out our journals.What did our feelings tell us? What makes us light up?

I wrote with ease, with the assuredness of being self-aware. Upon reflection, almost smugness. Knowing oneself and knowing oneself well was something I was oh-so good at. I studied philosophy for fun. I’d taken that existentialism class through the Open University just because I’m the type of person who knows what I don’t know or what I’ll never know. You know.

Smug.

I wrote:

1- People with whom I share love — a short list, but whatever, suckers who don’t like me. ( I let them go; see past blog posts. )

2- Travel. Obviously. That’s my thing. Novelty, exploration, adventure, etc. Finding a good airfare- ding- that lights me up big time. Getting lost in big cities- almost as fun as finding the place.

3- Film. Obviously. That’s my other thing. Everyone knows I’m, like, obsessed. 

4- God (He is first, but came to mind fourth — keeping it real here) 

The rest- water, music, reading, writing, physical touch, adrenaline, contemplation. 

Yep, that was me. I wrote in my journal and listened as the instructor told us to seek the things that light us up. It would make us happy.

Doing things you like makes you happy. 

This class, held in a strip mall yoga studio in a new sub-division, sent me all of the good feelings a person likes. Assurance. Hope. Confidence. I even drove away with a certificate when the month was over- hey, I could teach this if I wanted to.

Half a year has passed.

I’m not as smug anymore. I know what lights me up…the same things that lit me up before. I haven’t changed. Because people don’t change, not really, not ever. I’m still working on the same things I started working on when I started blogging. I’ll probably work on them forever. I can make positive change in my circumstances, but changing me, and changing what makes me who I am, will never change. Probably not.

This new chapter, the one where I accept I don’t know it all, is scary. But since I love novelty, it’s also kind of fun.

The same platitudes pass over and over again through my life, on a loop. Maybe everyone hears them.

Changes begins with you.

You’re the only person responsible for your actions. 

You never know unless you try. 

The first step is the hardest.

People never change.

Change is possible, if you really want it. 

One small step in the right direction is better than no step at all.

I have an inkling they’re all true. Just like when my mom used to say to me, “These are the best years of your life but you just don’t know it yet,” when I was a carefree young adult. I dismissed it; my immediate needs outweighed thinking about adulthood. But now I see, it was the truth.  It’s all probably true. The things older people tell us on rotation.

And I…..I  don’t know shit. None of us really do.

We just need to know what lights us up, and keep at it.

We need to do the best we can. 

 

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Mrs. Writer

Sucking every drop of  fading creativity I can muster.
Sucking every drop of creativity I can muster.

There is a quote on the inside of my gigantic Creativity mug. It’s something to do with bravery; I mainly just ignore it while I’m grasping on the mug for dear life, hoping the peppermint tea will magic up some fresh words instead of just a refreshed palate. Maybe I do need to drink more liquids…. but I surely, surely need more words.

When I was languishing away at a red light the other day, listening to my three year old scream for the shoes he’d pulled off and thrown out of reach, I decided to make a  mental list of the things I wanted to change most in my life. My screaming toddler was, surprisingly, not even on the list. I can take his irrational screaming. He’s three and I love him for it. I wouldn’t change a thing; except maybe having the magical ability to reach tossed aside objects with nothing but  willpower.

But my list looked something like this:

1- Finish my novel. THE M.A. project. Or just A Novel in general.

2- Lose enough weight to feel healthy again and enjoy clothes shopping.

3. Make my parents and husband (and others in my life) happy and fulfilled to, selfishly, deviate my worrying away from them and back towards goals 1 and 2.

I can’t do much about 3. It’s something I’m learning in mindfulness therapy. The other week I learned an important mantra regarding others in my life:

“I am not their Higher Power.”

There is a Higher Power at work. But it’s not me. It can’t be me. I need to let go of the weight of everyone else’s burdens. Even when they are people I love.

So, people I love:

I am not your Higher Power.

The other mantra I learned was this:

“It’s okay to walk in the sun.”

Even when other’s lives are cloudy, grey, uncertain. Sad, lonely or  full of regret. My natural tendency is to carry others’ sorrows.. To make them my own. To try to FIX  EVERYTHING. And when I can’t, I take on other’s pain. I feel like it’s not okay to be happy. To be productive. I self-sabotage myself to remain stagnant. I don’t know why; if you have a good psychotherapist, send her my way.

But this doesn’t need to be the case.

It is OKAY for me to walk in the sun.

I can work on my novel, without guilt. I can aim for success in the thing I most passionate about.

I CAN lose weight, for myself. I can devote the time and energy it takes, without falling into emotional sand pits.

There’s this thing that’s common with anxious people: we think the status quo will keep us safe.  Will keep others safe. It’s a lie our brains tell us. Part of the Magical Thinking we anxious people are so blessed with.

I believe that my goal of  losing weight is tied to my desire to finish my novel. I need to nourish my soul, my creativity, and not just my body.

I love the journey my soul is on.

I just need to remember to invite my body and talents on the journey, too.

I’m sitting on a pile of short stories I’ve been afraid to submit anywhere. Stories written during my degree in Creative Writing.

Perhaps those will be the weight I shed this week. You never know unless you submit.

And It’s okay to walk in the sun.

The Struggle is Real

ILOVEYOUWhen I was studying creative writing, we learned about something called ‘tonal lurching.’ It’s pretty self-explanatory. If the tone of your writing is inconsistent, and you fall into the trap of tonal lurches, you quickly confuse the reader.

This blog doesn’t have a set tone yet. It hasn’t quite developed it’s identity. It’s a baby blog, if you will.

Just as I’m in the baby stages of making so many major lifestyle changes.

Ahh, synchronicity.

So What is this blog?

The aims of this blog are to:

– Empower others while sharing my own struggles and successes
– Provide meaningful dialogue in the areas of diet, nutrition, lifestyle and mind/body health
– Entertain and engage the reader and myself with light-hearted anecdotes, recipes, etc.

From this point on I’m going to stop numbering my posts in the titles (just tags). I will weigh-in every Thursday as promised. I won’t post every day unless I have something good to write (and I will be taking a two week vacation while I go receive my diploma in Scotland)

The brings me to the meat of this post:

The Struggle is Real

Last weekend I struggled with expectations of myself compared to others. I was honest about it in my blog.

But then the week started and I realized it wasn’t any different than the weekend, just busier. Monday I had my mindfulness group, then I had an exam to do for my freelance analyst job. I had homework and doctor’s appointments and on top of it all, my two year old, Alistair, was sick the entire week off and on. As is usual for me, I overthought it, and I kept him home under quarantine instead of taking him to the doctor. When I finally brought him in last night, I learned he had strep throat! And he was suffering all week with it while I had no idea and was busy calibrating body fat percentage and trying to book plane tickets and hotels for segments of our trip.

I’d been with Alistair all week (with help from his father, of course). I watched countless episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and made him all of his go-to foods and liquids. I snuggled with him, kept watch of his fever, and at one point slept on the floor of his room. Another night it was the two of us on the couch for many hours. And then finally one night he and I were awake in my bed from 3 to 6 am, just tossing and turning and snuggling and talking. That’s when it dawned on me. I was so busy wanting to AVOID germs, I hadn’t brought him to the doctor. But what if he had an ear infection? I mean, he was sick for five days.
So I brought him, and I’m so glad I did.

But the point is that my mind was in so many different places, it took ages for me to realize something obvious. While I was sacrificing sleep and doing intricate things like get-well-tea-parties, I could have just gotten him to the doctor.

My heart was in the right place, but my brain was just all over the place.

And that sums me up pretty well! Haha.

So.

I have had a lot of positive messages and feedback from this blog. I’ve had a lot of people ask questions about long-term strategy. And I just don’t have one. Yet.

Right now my plan is the same as stated before:

-Eat 1500 calories and chart them on My Fitness Pal
-Go to Zumba once a week and Yoga once a week an another class once a week. Walk Weasley, our dog.
-Drink 100 oz of water a day
-Do mindfulness and meditation every day, as part of prayer or separately
– Weigh in on my blog every Thursday

But I think I need to add some caveats.

-When family is sick, or you’re sick, be kind to yourself and take care of yourself
-Understand it’s all change, and even the simplest plan won’t be easy right away
-Taking breaks, like for graduation, is okay, because life is short

Some readers may think my approach is too relaxed. If I find that this relaxed approach doesn’t heed results, I will do something more strict. It’s all part of the journey. The struggle. And while I still do not advocate fat- acceptance movements, I AM going to  try to love myself as a person a little more.