Whoosh! What a couple of weeks it’s been! The holidays, the brand New Year, followed closely by a power-full moon in Cancer. I had some big feelings movin’ on through and I know I wasn’t alone in that.
I was eating some ice cream the other night just before a session with my coach and as I was putting the pint back in the freezer, I had a little miracle moment. I was having some big feelings, yes. And I had eaten some ice cream, yes. And the two had nothing to do with each other. There I was, putting the ice cream back into the freezer and moving on with my night. Getting support.
This is an everyday moment now that food is about nourishment and pleasure. But that night, time opened up, as it sometimes does, and I remembered clearly the torture and obsession that weighted my life. I felt acutely the freedom I’ve dared to claim and the commitment that freedom has required. Continue reading
Some time ago, I put a post-it on my fridge that drew some curious glances. It read, simply:
GIVE UP HOPE
It had been a particularly difficult stretch with my son. By difficult, I mean that I sometimes considered that we would be better off apart; I entertained elaborate fantasies of joining some monastic order or retreating to an ashram in the Himalayas for a few years.
Things were just superhuman-ly hard.
And the hardest part, I came to see, was the belief that things should be or were about to be different. And that it was up to ME to figure out some way to fix them.
The hardest part was the schizophrenic swinging between fear and desolation: “This is horrible, horrible, horrible! Worst situation ever. Something is seriously wrong with me! Something is seriously wrong with him!” Or manic hope for the magic bullet: “I’ve figured it out now! It’s about to get better! I have a great new plan!” Continue reading
Let’s talk about feelings. Specifically, let’s talk about what my son and I call “big feelings“, the ones that knock you off your rocker.
It’s one of my favorite subjects, not just because I’m a life coach, but because I am a human being who has spent much of my life totally baffled, overwhelmed, blocked, frustrated, and sometimes victimized by my emotional experience.
I know I’m not alone in this.
The word itself, “emotion” has it’s roots in movement. Emotions are designed to move, to touch, to enliven. And truly, it is their nature to move through us, to come and go with ease, like clouds turn to rain turn to sun.
Yet most of us have a less than fluid relationship with our emotional selves. Continue reading
I have practiced yoga on and off for over a decade. Like most things, I would go when I felt like it, which meant when I was being “good” and then when life seemed shitty, I felt like smoking cigarettes and drinking red wine.
If you’ve ever been to a vigorous heated yoga class with a hangover, you know it’s enough to make you swear off for a couple of months.
The yoga, of course. Continue reading
“Forgiveness is realizing that what you thought happened, didn’t.” -Byron Katie
It’s high-ho holiday time!
In psychiatry, this is our super-busy season. People struggle hard at this time of year.
Memories seem to pop up, unbidden, of difficult or wonderful holidays gone by. We think about who we miss. We get together with our families and it doesn’t feel like it looks in the movies. Or maybe we are estranged from our families and we feel alone and ashamed.
Even if we are graced with a connected and (mostly) functional family and friends, this time of year can have it’s challenges. Obligation and hyper-scheduling, I’m told, are at an all-time high. Expectations can soar through the roof. Continue reading
As a culture, we worship at the twin alters of striving and acquiring.
It’s an addictive religion, and there is no peace in a mind that believes fulfillment is right over the next hill.
Keep climbing. Keep improving. Keep buying.
Fear and exhaustion are related in so many ways. We are so conditioned to move faster, be busier, do/be/get/accomplish more. Ask someone how they are and there is a very good chance the answer will be “busy” or “stressed”.
In a twisted way, busy has become a merit badge. This springs from fear of inadequacy and deep identification with what we do and produce. There’s a collective unconscious agreement that if we take on too much, no one can accuse us of not trying hard enough. Of not being enough. Continue reading
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” -Eckhart Tolle
There’s a story that’s been often repeated in my family about my cousin Devin’s fourth or fifth birthday. His parents had hosted a party with neighbors and friends and when the time came to open gifts, little Dev was likely overstimulated and tired and caked out. Devin opened his first gift, took a cursory glance and complained “This isn’t what I wanted!”, tossing the present aside. And so, much to his mother’s chagrin, it went with each present.
At a certain point in my healing, it occurred to me that this story is the perfect metaphor for a pattern I was enacting time and again.
I thought it was my job to be good enough, to prove myself, to earn and keep love, to fix, to please, to manipulate (physically and emotionally) myself into a better version, to solve your problems, to solve my problems, to make it happen. I thought if I just did it all right, life would reward me. I would arrive at a place where I felt secure and confident, happy and at peace.
But there were so many moving parts to wrangle and I could never get them to line up to my satisfaction. Even in those brief moments when everything was going according to plan, I couldn’t stop and take it in because I had to keep it all moving along. I made myself sick, quite literally, trying to get and keep it all together.
Ruling the Universe is fucking exhausting.
When I’m working with someone around food and body dissatisfaction, inevitably there comes a conversation about an upcoming social gathering with food. Potlucks and buffet tables conjure all manner of anxious anticipation.
Will there be enough? What will there be? Is there anything I can eat? I’m going to binge, I always do; I can’t help it with all those baked goods. I’m going to take only enough to not be noticed because I can’t possibly eat that food.
It feels overwhelming to be face all of that abundance and choice (or, depending on your perception, powerlessness and limitation)in a social setting to boot.
If food is a primary way that you communicate desire and pain, you can gather a lot of information about your relationship to life by how you behave at a potluck or buffet. How you eat, as Geneen Roth says, tells all. Continue reading
You know those times when everything feels like too much? When there are a hundred thousand people and things calling for your attention and it feels like you are moving through mud? When sadness or anger that feels like it’s been stored up for a lifetime comes knocking and you don’t feel safe with yourself? When people you rely on disappoint you and you can’t find a soft space to land?
Those times when the going gets tough and you are right in the thick of it?
Here’s what helps: Continue reading
Ever since I went to this remarkable event, summer camp for “makers and world shakers”, I have been mulling the subject of belonging. Come to think of it, as long as I can remember, belonging has been the organizing theme of my life.
Looking for it. Yearning for it. Struggling for it. Working for it.
I think there’s a core wound in most of us around belonging. I sure feel it deeply.
I have sweet moments where I think maybe the medicine for the yearning is right there is the yearning. The medicine of knowing that this is a shared experience, this hunger to belong.
Maybe it comes from forgetting the capital “T” Truth of our oneness, our connectedness, our fundamental belonging to each other.
And maybe it’s good that it hurts, because the pain wakes us up so we remember the bigger truer thing. Continue reading