Nothing is Magic

This title has been rolling around for a number of days.  Because I can’t decide if everything is magic or nothing.  I’m thinking about the changes I’ve made since my acupuncture appointment, and what it means to have your mind, body, and spirit all working in harmony.

Aside from the projects getting completed over that first weekend, I have connected with a PhD student who wants to support me in my vision for Mixed Race community space; I’ve experienced some really affirming and beautiful feedback about who I am as a person and what I contribute to my environments; work has gone very well; I was part of an incredible trauma training; and I’ve finally made a commitment to getting my body back where I want to be – bad coping habits are under control and I’m re-connecting with my love for exercise and the feeling of being strong and fit.  Aside from the things I can name concretely, my overall mood and energy are better, and I’m beginning to see small things appear in my life that are in line with the hopes and intentions I’ve been cultivating.

Last year my mantra was “Better feeling thoughts.”  I played around with that all year through the ups and downs of events that came my way.  The mantra was inspired by things I’ve been hearing from Abraham-Hicks.  I listen to these videos often to get my intention back in line with my best good.  They’re teachings about the Law of Attraction, but in a practical way.  Which sounds funny because basically it’s an old White woman channeling a set of ghosts/energies.  If you can get past that, it’s practical information.  But over the past year especially of listening to this stuff, it’s really just CBT+ (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and then some).

CBT is like the most standard form of change therapy.  As therapists, we’re taught about it from day one, it’s the basis of a lot of curriculum for clients, it’s standard.  It’s the idea that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interrelated.  Law of Attraction says that Like Attracts Like.  Whatever you practice (thoughts, feelings, beliefs, habits), you bring into your experience (behaviors and relationships).  The hook is that most people don’t want to think they have that much control.  But if you make a commitment to observe this interrelationship, you can see the way you’re contributing to your own joy or misery.

The + in CBT+ for me is taking the additional leap to say you can create your own reality once you have a really good understanding and take control of the thoughts you think, which make you feel good (or bad), which make you think other thoughts that align with feeling good (or bad) which strengthens the feeling, and so on… which brings the experiences and relationships that match your feelings.  For me, part of the key has been that my feelings are the real indicator of where I’m at and where I’m headed.  I think part of where I was stuck was thinking I would get magical results quickly based on good intentions and feelings, rather than realizing it takes some time to get some momentum going in the direction I’m headed.  And I would give up too soon.

However, I think sometimes, there is a blockage or stuckness where you can’t get control over your thoughts and feelings.  This can be depression, grief, trauma, blocked energy, whatever you want to call it.  When I touch on the idea of medication with very depressed people, I talk about the idea of being in water.  When you’re at the surface of the water, you can tread, you can get a breathe, you can swim, you have choices.  When you’re depressed, it’s like you’re underwater and you don’t have those choices available to you, you can’t even see them.  Sometimes medications can help you get to sea level.  Medication is not going to swim you or breathe you, but it gets you up to a level where you’re able to make those choices.  And that’s what I feel like happened for me with the acupuncture.  All of these things that are happening now were in the works, but I couldn’t access them.  I was stuck.

I don’t think medication is magic.  And I don’t think acupuncture is magic.  I don’t fully understand what happened, but I know that something shifted and I became able to jump the dead battery of my life.  And with that, I’ve been able to see things start working out for me in ways that I’ve intended for ages and I’m creating now.  I’m very grateful for that!

extending the olive branch

so i’m trying to come to peace with my body.

i’ve struggled with my weight since i was very young. pretty much every woman on my mom’s side of the family has. my mom began making comments about my “woman arms” when i was 8 or 9, encouraging me to do sit-ups and leg exercises when i was small as my chubbiness increased. she wasn’t trying to be abusive, she was trying to help me avoid what she and my aunt went through as fat teenagers. struggling/fighting/accepting having some sort of fat prophecy to fulfill runs in my family. that and eating for comfort, joy, punishment, or withholding for the same reasons. being little, love was shown through food, treats. grama especially would always have my favorite treats on hand. my mom always cooked wonderful meals, typically with meat, potatoes, some kind of vegetable, and dessert. “balanced” but also cooked with lots of butters, creams, deep frying – whatever tasted good. it has to taste good or why eat it? seemed to be her philosophy.

so learning to eat healthy and exercise was an undertaking i did on my own. when i was around 20, i read that book, making the connection by oprah and bob greene. i decided to stop smoking and start running on the same day. there was some crazy diet to go along with that, eating less than 20 grams of fat a day? or was it carbs? i don’t know. but, over the next few months i did lose around 40lbs. and it scared the shit out of me. it was my lowest weight, i was still seeing myself as fat sometimes. so i went up and down a little bit around that time as i was getting used to it. one of the funny things that terrified me most about being smaller was being noticed by men. that’s another blog in and of itself but i was terrified of being taken advantage of or liked only for my looks so i was totally hypervigilant, and determined to be cool rather than hot.

at 24 when i went to a medical checkup, it was determined that i had graves disease, hyper-thyroidism. which meant i was producing too much thyroid hormone causing an enlarged thyroid gland, a racing heartbeat, high body temperature, irritability, and my left eye began to bulge a little bit. i was put on a lot of medication and told that i should watch what i eat after that because it would be much easier for me to gain weight. and i did gain weight, about 15-20lbs. that made me really frustrated and angry, but my health was more important. luckily, after 3 years of medication, my thyroid corrected itself and stabilized. i still have it checked regularly and my levels are always on the low side of normal, but at least i didn’t have to have surgery or radiation treatments.

in my late twenties and now into my mid-thirties, my weight has fluctuated with my emotional health and lifestyle. i’ve been a fat drunk, felt healthy on weight watchers, worked out with a mindset that bordered obsessive/abusive, ate my depression, and run marathons while unable to lose weight. over the past couple of years, i’ve really been trying to do what feels healthy, sustainable, and kind. i stopped weighing myself altogether about a year ago, because it was detrimental to my motivation. recently i decided to buy more organic. as i’m reading and watching documentaries on genetically modified food and farm conditions, i’ve been moving toward a “mostly vegan” diet. losing weight as a nice side effect was definitely a part of this choice, but over and above that were the health, environmental, and humane treatment of animal benefits. and i say “mostly vegan” because i will still eat meat and dairy occasionally. if it’s served to me i won’t deny it. i ate a little of my mom’s beef roast at easter. but at home and given the choice, i’ll choose to mainly eat vegan.

so. over all of these years of struggle, trial and error, learning different diets, nutrition, portion control, learning about the benefits of exercise, it has slowly been sinking in to create a wealth of experience. when i went to get a physical last week after a couple of months on this mostly vegan diet, doing sustainable yet challenging, regular exercise, and overall feeling really great and confident… i was shocked to find my weight much higher than i imagined. i talked with my doctor who told me not to worry, that more and more he thought bmi and the number of your weight really didn’t matter, and that i was truly a very healthy person. and he mentioned that my weight may have something to do with my thyroid levels hovering around the low side of normal. that was good to hear, very affirming. but that number still really threw me. badly. i got knocked off my game. and i’ve been feeling sad. it’s like, i work so diligently on being healthy. of the people i know socially and through work, i lead one of the healthiest lifestyles i know. yet my work does not pay off. i’m still, by medical definition, obese. it broke my heart. why do i try so hard if it’s not gonna pay off? if this is what i weigh, why not eat the garbage??

yesterday morning i was feeling especially sad. not just about this, but about the deaths and work stress and other things. but i was listening to some abraham hicks video on youtube about changing your feelings and letting your feelings guide you toward what’s best for you and i felt compelled to journal. i get a lot of good wisdom from journaling and free-writing. what i came to understand was this:

this may be my healthy weight. this may be it. can i accept that? can i know that number and still love myself, be proud of myself and my body? when i didn’t know the number and was eating well, and exercising in a way that felt positive, challenging, and empowering, i felt awesome! i felt beautiful, healthy, sexy. then the number came and threw me back into devastation, and i started looking at my body and seeing something different, ugly, fat, horrible. like literally i saw something different. but my physical body was no different before i saw the number than after. when i’m frustrated by the number, i eat worse, stop exercising, and feel bad. within the course of a day. nothing morphed but a day’s behavior and my body image.

so. what’s it gonna be? obviously it’s possible for me to feel really beautiful and attractive at this weight. and the epiphany comes here: if i physically look no different, then it’s about what i’m doing to feel good. these years of trial and error – what they have really shown me is that i feel beautiful when i’m taking good care of myself. when i eat in a way i believe to be healthy, in reasonable amounts, on a reasonable schedule… when i’m getting regular exercise for endorphins, strength, and endurance… when i’m taking the time to make my body beautiful with good hygiene, flattering clothes, good hair care… that’s when i feel great! and i’ve felt that way at this number even when i didn’t know i was this number. this number, a future number that i’m hoping for… it’s irrelevant. what i’m chasing is my confidence. and confidence comes with the way i take care of myself on a daily basis. so that’s what i have to connect with. it may sound very simple, but the head games i play with myself, the years of struggling, the connections i have made between putting in work today with future pay-offs… that’s the crazymaking shit. i cannot connect my confidence to what i will look like tomorrow if i work really hard today. i must connect with the positive, healthy choices i’m making today and let that be my confidence. i feel beautiful and attractive when i take good care of myself and present myself well and that’s that.

and that’s how i am committing today to make peace with my beautiful body.