How I Lost 25 Pounds Without Trying

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We must celebrate life where we can.  Today I celebrate a milestone.

I reached a number on the scale that means my BMI (body-mass index) is out of the Obese range and into the top of the Overweight range.  It may not sound like “Yay, I’m overweight” is celebration to some, but it is for me.  

I want to describe how this transformation happened without my focus on it.

Usually I avoid weighing my body more than a few times a year.  I refuse to carry around a number as a silent source of shame or red letter.

Since New Year’s Day 2014 I have lost 25 pounds.  Slow enough to mean real change.  What shifts did I make?

  • I placed my focus on being healthy.
  • I was already vegetarian, but I stopped eating dairy.  (This may not work for your body, but it almost immediately helped me feel less congested, allergic, and more energetic).
  • I sat grounded with conscious connection to my body each and every day for about 15-30 minutes.  Meditation or “body scanning” can help with this.  I found this made me more aware of not being hungry when my body really wasn’t hungry.
  • I continued to do what I have always done:  Walk daily, drink water, and eat no more than 1500 calories a day, but focus more than calories on assuring a minimum of 40 mg plant-based protein each day.

I am currently training to walk a full marathon, including grueling hills that raise my heart rate.  That should increase my metabolism.  But to compensate for 25 years at a desk job most of my waking hours, what I have found over time is endurance walking does little to impact my weight.  Instead it tends to make me stronger and feel happier.   So I intend to spend the remainder of my life endurance walking, just as I have always done starting with walking to and from school as long as I can remember.

One foot in front of the other.  One mile at a time.

Let the celebration continue.

 

Food for thought:

More Than Enough

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(thanks to Molly Hahn of www.buddhadoodles.com)

I am not a victim of life.  Life does not owe me anything.

Consider for a moment all the forces weighing in against your very existence.  Truly all of us are living miracles.

I am writing to celebrate a transition from 20 years of earning just enough to earning more than enough.  As a single parent for 14 of those 20, I always felt intensely appreciative to be earning “just enough.”  One bill at a time, like walking across stones in a river.  I had a skill that allowed me to work from home, be present for my child, and be in a better position than many women I met who left destructive marriages without having a means of earning or stayed in toxic relationships for fear of being financially lost.

I worked 60 hours a week for much of the 14 years, with the exception of “burnout breaks” where I chose to live with gracious food bank assistance in order to breathe.   My focus was laser sharp on doing what I had to do to support two people and I went without more than a single day off for 5 full years.  I made repeated attempts to change my job situation, but nothing changed.  Perhaps I did not invest the energy or have the wherewithal to make change with such little wiggle room of time away from what was directly in front of me.  So instead, I practiced “balance moments” throughout.  Took bits and pieces of rest, rejuvenation, and meditation where I could and was definitely buoyed by the joy my child brings to my life.

I was showered with many gifts and generosity during the course of this time, and was kept afloat by kindness during a period when I was briefly homeless and helping my child fight for her life.  In truth, I’ve been fighting for my own life in the aftermath.

Waves of emotion bubbles come and go.  I’m taking the reminder from Molly (above) and practicing Keep Letting Go.  Molly is someone who faced significant traumas with hard inner work and compassion and transformed them into gifts for the world.

I have changed HOW I use my skill, not the skill itself (transcription) and it feels great to know all the time and learning curves I put in over 20+ years at this work have not gone to waste.  I continue to work 6 days a week but have been able to reduce my hours from 60 to 45-50, and the work is for the most part fascinating and far reaching in scope.

Now as a new dawn approaches, I praise be that I can work toward my priorities of paying off debt, joining groups doing things that bring me joy (being active outdoors), and not have my first thoughts be, “Can I afford transportation?  Can I afford group dues?  Can I afford a day off work?  Can I afford a meal out if someone invites me?”

I wish I could write an instruction manual for how this shift is happening for me for others to benefit, but I really don’t know how all the variables came together.  I’m just thrilled to have the freedom of living with a little more than just enough.

School of Solo vs. Partner University

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This is a post that’s been working on me, rather than me on it.  It wants to be written.  Anytime anyone talks about relationships we walk a fine line between saying something we regret or wish to delete and painting an honest picture.  To that end, my intention is to focus on what I am learning on my path, rather than reveal anything which may be hurtful to anyone else.

SCHOOL OF SOLO

Much depth exists in the journey of learning one’s own self reliance, self love, self care.  In fact, so much depth I have questioned whether partnership is necessary to a healthful, loving life.  I have pondered what I would want young women to know, a younger me even, and it boils down to this:  I want you to know it is okay to be alone and have nothing but your wits about you inside a culture that tends to value coupling and status above all else.  (Wits and clothing.  Clothing is nice to have along with wits).  The numbers tell us a bit under half (44%) of all Americans are single at any given point in time.  So clearly, walking around feeling bad about being solo is a weight we need not carry.

PARTNERSHIP UNIVERSITY

My education in this school has been challenging.  I never got a diploma, but I did learn a great deal from every person.  I made commitments I thought were positive at the time with the understanding I had in a moment in time, and later realized for the sake of self preservation, soul preservation, I needed to break.  Other people have done the same with me.  So I have seen the view from both sides of the equation – being left and leaving.  Neither feels good.

What I have learned is any time we are bringing our highest self into anything we do, we are better off.  I have also learned I tend to be better able to access my highest self solo.  At least thus far.  I would like to learn how to do the same inside partnership, but instead I have seemed to attract partnerships that involve drama and even tragedy, often multiplying pain rather than joy.

I have also seen “healthy” masquerading as competition and learned that life is not a Win/Lose proposition.  If it is important for anyone to consistently be a winner, what does that make their partner?  Competing only with ourselves to go the extra mile further than we have is the best option.  And even though our legal framework is Win/Lose, there are no winners in divorce or family court.  Zero.

I have learned we need to embody what we want.  Like attracts like.  I continue to work on this.  I would like to experience primarily joy and peace inside partnership.  I visit these two pillars daily for myself.

Sometimes I question whether it is a direction equation.  Let’s say we want to attract someone healthy, so we place our focus solidly on being financially, spiritually, emotionally and physically healthy.  I don’t know about you, but when I attempt this, as I often do, I find not enough hours in a day to even begin to imagine anything left over for a partner.  Put in more concrete terms, if I’m spending 2 hours a day on physical health (nutrition + exercise), 8 hours a day on financial health, meditating and spiritual development 1 hour a day, and creative space/self-care for my emotions, what time is left over for someone that is not me?

Meditating, Dating, Possibility

Breathing in, I am love.
True nature rises, you are
Enough, enough, you.

Online dating says
Too fat, too smart, too slow, too
Short, too old, too me.

I want to know what
It feels like to be enough
In relationship.

There are no less than a gazillion and a half relationship “experts” out there, but here’s one man’s 2 cents I find refreshing and worth a look:

Bracing for Happiness

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When people go through traumas, as all of us do at some point, it may become easy for us to associate being happy with the other shoe dropping.  Waiting for all things supporting us to drop away like legs of a pier rotted into the ocean, through illness, abuse, or heart-shattering loss.  So we can start to feel scared of being happy.  And numb ourselves from our feelings in any number of ways while bracing ourselves against happiness.

We can also make poor decisions following a huge change or trauma, which raises our chances for a wash in happiness followed quickly by a rinse cycle of collapse.

This bracing for happiness is something I observe in myself on my road and have recently noticed street signs showing me a different way to be.

One sign says, “You can do something at any moment to facilitate the way you feel.”

Another says, “Go outside your four walls.”  That single act any time of day or night has proven 100% more effective than antidepressants for me.  Connecting to my birthright as a part of nature is everything.  No loneliness or loss exists in the field.  It’s all whole.  I feel whole.

Another asks, “If I work toward things supporting my happiness and they fall apart, can I still be happy?”

My answer now is yes.  Because if I’m walking on that pier and it buckles, I know how to swim.  I can go inside myself and reach a place that is connected to a great joyful calm in less than 60 seconds.  I can be patient with myself instead of hard on myself.  I can cry if that’s what needs to happen, but I can also smile and laugh.  Neither are going to change my capacity for happiness.

Happiness is knocking on my door just now.  Gotta run.

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Remarkable Moments

I started this blog in October 2011 and wrote a final post in April 2015.

Staring at the Domain Expiration button, I couldn’t click on it.  Holding on and letting go, right?   Something wants this to stay around taking up server space.

I wanted to let go of the blog because it felt like a lot of the posts needed to be private rather than public journaling.  It began to feel like spinning wheels rather than growth and moving forward.

I want to create something going forward with fewer posts but content that may help others.

My intention now is to focus on posting: 1) Items related to transformation at any level, 2) space to post poems as I create new ones, 3) insights from working with nature’s wisdom.   ~ July 2015

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By Erin W

Last Post From The 3-1/2-Year Time Capsule

Synchronous with my domain expiring, I have decided to make this my final post on this blog.  The blog will be completely deleted by May 2015.  I will focus instead on private journaling for a while to remind myself I can still write with pen on paper.

I will happily make available any of my piano/harpsichord recordings since that person doesn’t exist anymore, and she would love to share the talent that was.   Just contact me to receive an mp3 by Google Drive or Dropbox.  Great background music for mowing the lawn, brushing your teeth, reading a book, or thinking something.

Highlights of the 3-1/2-year journey:

  • My favorite post:   Oh, The People You Meet
  • My favorite recipe:  Persian Ratatouille
  • Most magazine-like blog post:  7 Tips on Preserving Health and Sanity While Working From Home
  • First post: Double Rainbow.  Shows me how little and how much has changed in about four years.  My neuroses have remarkable integrity across time : )  But it is reassuring to know I now partake daily in all the joys mentioned in the post (knitting, music, reading and writing).
  • Conversations with Trees, October 2013:  Almost daily writeup and research about a tree in my neighborhood for a month
  • Daily blog post challenge, November 2013 on BlogHer.com:  NaBloPoMo
  • Most of my poems stored in this blog were published into a book available on Amazon in 2014 with assistance of Alex Mill.  Gratitude!
  • Special thanks to my most consistent blog fan (you know who you are Tom) who is an admired writer in his own right and a great encourager of fellow bloggers.

You can find me at http://www.healingoutdoors.org where, despite being unable to obtain further hands-on training in ecopsychology at the moment, I intend to keep walking the walk and reading nature-connection resources.

I will never give up my dream to walk West to East Coast someday to raise funds for childhood cancer research.  With any luck, that journey will be the next blog I publish.  Maybe at age 55.  I want to know what it is to live life on my own two feet.

Possibly the biggest change over this time capsule is my child was an adoring 10-year-old when I started posting and is now 14.  Life with a teen snapshot:

Monday:  “Do we have to eat dinner together again?”

Tuesday:  “I don’t want to have conversations with you anymore, because all you want to talk about is thoughtful stuff.”

Wednesday:  “Mom, what do you think consciousness is?”

Thanks for reading, adios amigos, and take care of yourselves.

 

 

 

By Erin W

Reaching Nirvana

Ta da!

Ta da!

The metaphysical description:

First I wanted to reach Nirvana ever since I learned of it.  Then I found it.

I lost all sense of time.  I did not eat or drink, only moved forward.

“Let me know if you find it,” said a man on the path– a man I would never see again.

I did not have a map, and after several hours started to fatigue.  Will I reach it?  Surely I will.  The moment I trusted I would, a map appeared.  Nirvana was closer than I thought.

In order to reach Nirvana I had to pass Something, but signs for Something had become nothing.  I never found them at either end of that path.  In order to know I reached Nirvana, I had to focus all my attention above eye level, above the crown.  And then I was there!

Nirvana was like a steep climb and a patch of dank, dark tunnel until suddenly all manner of color and light appeared.

After reaching Nirvana, I came out upon a magical sunlit space called Limbo.  I could have stayed there forever.

Suddenly I was hungry and knew I should head home.  Six hours into my journey, I returned.

The physical description:

What is Strong

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What does strong mean?

Dictionary definition:

  • able to withstand great force or pressure.
  • having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.

Because I have been told I am strong at many points in life, I started to meditate on what strength is.  In what ways have I been strong?  When people see strength, what are they seeing?  Do we need to have the rug pulled out from under us to know our own strength?

Quite soon, my mind went to the paradoxes of Strength/Weakness.

And that led to awareness of the paradoxes present in every single piece of being human.  Fear/No Fear, Intimacy/Separation, Clarity/Confusion, Action/Inertia.

All aspects require both to exist.

Just ask Brene Brown, and she will tell you vulnerability is a person’s greatest strength.  And consider the martial arts wisdom that flowing with an adversary’s energy rather than resisting it can overcome them.

Some qualities I experience as strength:

  • Endurance
  • Focus
  • Physical stamina
  • Acceptance of what is
  • Living from inner (heart) wisdom
  • Quiet sustained power (as opposed to aggressive domination power)

I believe my greatest natural strength is ability to focus.  Focus is what I use every day in my job, listening intently to capture spoken words accurately. Centuries past, I might have been a scribe to famous or infamous story-makers, processing their wisdom through my body and out on a page.  I also use this strength in focusing my awareness and creating anything from complex knitting structures to making music to continually learning.

It occurs to me what others see as “being strong” in me is often opposite what I admire as strength in others.  For example, I have been viewed as strong by many because I have lived all but 5 years of my adult life going solo – outside intimate relationship.  And I have been viewed as strong because I was tested by some dramatic life experiences and survived.  (I don’t think anyone has the luxury of escaping this, and there are as many variations on the theme of surviving challenging experiences as there are humans).

YET I view friendships and intimate relationships as entities that require great strength.  To sustain them one needs to accept that all the goodies involved (vulnerability, catharsis of shared emotional burdens, physical intimacy, day-to-day practical support, acceptance, shared joys) come hand-in-glove with serious juju (potential for deep heart wounds, guaranteed miscommunications and misunderstandings, psychological minefields from attempting to connect any two people’s inner worlds).

I have met a few physical challenges to prove strength to myself.  They make great stories (“I slayed the dragon!”), and are the most important to society’s definition of strength.  YET they are the least important to me personally.

In this way, each person may need to define strength for themselves.

We all find ourselves as little droplets suspended inside a solution of circumstance.   The paradox is we can choose what to focus on inside that circumstance.

The strongest I have felt recently is in working with my own insights and habit energies to embrace the life I have.  To go deep into appreciation of being alive.

Walking to Being Okay

My go-to way of nurturing myself is to walk.  I was rewarded for my climb of steep hills yesterday by finding these great quotes posted by other walkers on a bulletin board in the woods.   Too good not to share.

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All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

IMG_3966 Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.  Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.

~ Soren Kierkegaard

And here’s a personal favorite, while we’re at it:

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.

~ Steven Wright

Walking is the one place I can go where I feel okay in my body.  I have been doing everything in my power to lose weight these past months and the scale has not budged a hair after an initial 7-pound drop.  So I decided to walk and smile at my 35 extra pounds (50 if I consider a standardized health chart rather than my internal compass of health).  There must be some reason you are staying with me.  I am doing everything I know how to let go of you (no temporary starvation or fad diets), so all I will do is smile and wave.  It will have to be okay.  I cannot leave you, my body, and therein lies the “wisdom of no escape.”  I can either hate you and my discomfort of being inside you every waking moment or I can walk and sit with you.

The past six weeks, I have been working my way through these books.  Walking every mile of the Pacific Crest Trail in my mind, practicing being free where I am, reminding myself over and over the benefits of self-care, grounding of meditation, and “inviting the bell” of the moment.  (Medicine Cards found their way to a relative in ill health, but they are a beautiful way to remind ourselves of our connection to the natural world).

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And then I was loaned the book pictured below.  I cannot recommend this highly enough and will gladly write a review on Amazon.  It is the clearest instruction manual on working with boundaries I have ever seen.  Being the good English major I am, I will list insights I could not have arrived at without this book.

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1)  Sensitive people and people who are keenly aware of others can tend to have the most difficulties setting boundaries.

2)  Boundaries take care of us.

3)  Self-care is the path to teach us where our boundaries lie.

4)  Setting boundaries can bring up strong emotions, but boundaries themselves are Yes and No.  They are not emotions.

5)  If you have an “extreme challenger” in your life, you can learn specific extra super-power tools to maintain your boundaries.

6)  Only you can know what is Yes and No for you.  Therefore, you are only responsible for setting your boundaries, not the boundaries of others.

7)  I recognize the Sacrificer, a bit of the Workaholic (though I work more than I’d like because I need to meet basic needs for two people, not the definition I have always associated with a Workaholic where the go-to escape is working), a bit of the Caregiver.

8)  The period I lived through a few years back I like to coin “PTDS” (Post-Traumatic Dating Syndrome) makes perfect sense when I learned how after trauma or dramatic life change, boundaries are at their weakest.  It would have helped me tremendously to have had this clarity at that time.

In general, absorbing this fabulous book shows me I have learned a ton about what I need to nurture my being over the past few years and I am living in a balanced way more than ever before.  Right hand on left shoulder.  Left hand on right shoulder.  Pats on back.

7 Days of Happiness, 6, 7

These are extraordinary days for Planet Earth and therefore probably for its residents.  Total solar eclipse.  Vernal Equinox.  Strong solar storms.

No wonder the cashiers at the grocery store yesterday told me everyone coming through their lines complained of exhaustion.  And stories of freaking out pets at night were common.  (Possibly they were taking in the aurora borealis while I slept).

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Now for pursuit of Happiness on International Day of Happiness that prompted this 7-day challenge I completed.  I like it so much, I plan to use each of these 7 themes over and over as a practice.

Day 6:  Focus on your three most positive attributes.  And the ways you use these attributes now and can in the future.  I gotta say, this was tough for me.

First I tried using humor.  Only 3?  Are you kidding me?  How can I limit it to 3?

Then I realized in an average day, I probably spend about 90% of my waking hours focused on my worst attributes.  No wonder I have self-esteem issues!  So I decided to focus on how a friend described me for an entire day.  And by the end of the day, I was on Planet EuphoriaFuture’sSoBrightIOughtaWearShades.

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Either my friend is as perceptive as a rock or some of the descriptors are true.  But either way, focusing on positive attributes does improve one’s inner sphere of influence. : )

Day 7:  Practice an act of kindness and share the happiness.  

Done.  Aside from completing a hand-knit sweater for my kid, I am surprising her with something unexpected.  Reminders and nagging to clean room and pet cage and finish homework replaced by only kind comments for 24 hours.  Perhaps she will think an alien abducted her mom. : )