self love

28 Days

“Food is such an intimate experience, even more so than sex. Everything we put in our mouth touches our insides, affects how we grow, affects how we age, affects how we behave. It defines who we are.” -Monica Bhide

It has been over three years since I first read this quote by Monica Bhide. The first time I read it, a light bulb illuminated in my mind and I thought “hell yeah it is” and “fuck yeah it does”. Now, this idea makes it’s way back to my consciousness as day 10 of a 28 day intensely intimate journey letting food be my guide for healing, comes to a close. When I tell people I am only eating fruits, vegetables (mostly raw) and sprouts and drinking herbal tea and fresh pressed juices for 28 days, I can see the sheer terror in their eyes. And those who really know me say, “wait, you’re not drinking any alcohol for 28 whole days….that’s crazy”. Yup…I have gone coo coo bananas over here! Honestly, when I began this cleanse, I was terrified. I was afraid that I would fail, of what would come up in the space I was about to create. What the hell was to become of my social life?!

The fear of not being able to do it is curious to me because I have spent large chunks of time in my life studying the benefits of raw food, living the raw/vegan lifestyle, teaching it to others and even what feels like lifetimes ago, owned the first raw food cafe juice bar in my little New England town. Yet, over the last 5 years, I have jumped on the paleo band wagon…feeling ok, but not great. I had forgotten, as many of us do, all the knowledge I have tucked away. It is time to listen to the innate wisdom inside of me and it has called me to sit in the pause. To be with myself. No distractions of what to eat or drink, where, and with whom. No distraction of running to the local coffee shop between clients to get a caffeine fix to carry me through the day until I can get home and have a glass of wine to wind down. Not trusting myself is exactly what has led me right here, on the brink of doing what many people around me call drastic, even dangerous. When did consuming raw fruits and veggies become dangerous people?!

My motivation for doing this has many layers. The first being, I needed to check myself and my relationship with alcohol. For me, alcohol became a crutch at a very pivotal point in my life; the end of my marriage, followed by the beginning and devastating end of another significant relationship. Alcohol became my trusted companion. I had convinced myself almost daily that I needed it and I deserved it. It was an escape, a way to hide from feelings of despair, failure, loss, fear, love. Brene Brown says “we can’t selectively numb out. When we numb the dark, we numb the joy”. So, over the past 2+ years, I have had many come to Jesus moments surrounding alcohol and my relationship with it and the truth is, I am tired of not being fully present in my life. I want to feel it all! The good, the bad, the ugly, the achingly beautiful, the devastating blows.

The other layers of motivation are rooted in a longing for physical, spiritual and mental equilibrium; maybe even excellence. Physically I have been placing more demands on my body, training for a half marathon and ramping up weight training in an effort to feel stronger in my body and challenge myself. I began to feel that my diet wasn’t measuring up in supporting what I was asking of my body. My belly was frequently bloated and uncomfortable. I noticed ridges in my fingernails, a sign that I am not absorbing vital nutrients. I’ve developed hormonal acne. No one wants to deal with pimples, especially when you’re in your thirties. Additionally, I have been experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression, floaters in my vision, a white coating on my tongue in the morning, brain fog and extreme fatigue. All of this, a clear sign that something has to change. Spiritually, I have been on a path of intense self discovery; often a gritty and raw process. In an effort to go even deeper into my spiritual practice, to get closer to source (God if you will), and my authentic self, it has become increasingly clear that I must commit to clarity and extreme self care. Which for me meant no more numbing out and extreme mindfulness in regards to how I nourish myself overall.

After 11 days of sobriety and 10 days of feeding my body intense nutrition, coupled with 10+ hours of sleep every night of the first seven days, I am on a bit of a high. I have to be honest, the first week was painful. I was hungry! And tired! Not a good combo really, but I was oh so gentle with myself. I felt very tender and vulnerable in those first few days. Changing patterns and facing attachments to food and alcohol drudges up a lot. Everything that I had been avoiding or didn’t want to face began to bubble up to the surface. I sat with it, meditated, took epsom salt baths and slept as much as I could. Then I moved into a few days of increased energy and a total aversion to food in general. On those days I did what I could to get calories in, any way I could, which basically meant throwing everything into a blender and drinking it. Gratitude shout out to my Vitamix for carrying me through! I also experienced intense lower and mid back pain for a few days. I noticed pain in my tailbone, the site of an old snowboarding injury. After some research, I came to find out that when the body isn’t required to utilize so much energy on digestion, it is able to repair itself. Many people have claimed to experience pain in old injury sites while on a cleanse. A sign that the body is healing itself. Rad! That knowledge made the discomfort more bearable.

Moving toward day 11 I am finding myself more committed with each passing day. My energy has skyrocketed, my mind is clear, I am calm, my belly doesn’t hurt. I am keeping the food simple, eating when I am hungry and paying attention to what my body is calling for. If I want to eat watermelon for dinner….I do it!

Surrender Yourself Wide Open

I’m working on getting comfortable with surrendering to my feelings. The unexpected repercussion being, I cry in public, a lot. And I’m kind of becoming ok with it. There is something truly beautiful about embracing raw emotion and letting it wash over you or even knock you over like a tidal wave. Life is in a tremendous shift for me at the moment. Moving in and out of feeling alive and ready to take on the world-for the first time stepping into my power, to just wanting to stay in bed all day with the covers over my head-to stay safe where I know the outcome. Choosing to grow outside of the comfort zone we create for ourselves is real gritty work. It exposes you. The Ego likes to incessantly chime in. I’ve been getting well acquainted with mine lately. I’m realizing my ego wants me to stay safe, to play small. And my true essence, my Divine Self, has to continuously choose to step forward. To be present. To show up, heart wide open. Willing to break open again and again.

The need to hide is absolutely appropriate in moments when us human beings need to connect with ourselves and process the array of feelings that bubble to the surface, especially in times of loss. Loss cracks us open so we can empty out. Freya Watson said it so eloquently in that “despair takes us deeply into ourselves and therefore far away from others”. I have begun to realize how important moving through these emotions as they arise is for self growth. This process requires hiding or going inward to truly melt into the process. Presence requires solitude. Each moment of despair is an opportunity for self growth and self love. Each opportunity holds within it a lesson. If we can not move into stillness and instead choose to numb out or fill the void, the lesson will inevitably show up down the road and we will once again find ourselves sprawled out in the middle of the living room floor with a bottle of vodka, wondering “how could this happen AGAIN”. Better to really feel it move through you, and move through it!

I am realizing that life is a series of beginning agains. There will always be challenges. And the more we want to grow, the more life throws our way.  I found myself recently saying in a rock bottom moment that I just want to coast for awhile. But behind the idea of mindless coasting was the life I left behind.  Coasting was exactly what I chose to step away from. Those moments when we pull ourselves up out of the coasting and find ourselves in the darkest places, they carry the weight that defines us. It is the beginning again that is the juicy part of life. Making the choice to be happy no matter what. Not so long ago in a moment where I felt wrecked by a love freight train, a friend said to me, “the sun will rise again tomorrow darling”.  And with tears streaming down my face and a heart so heavy, I smiled back at him through sticky wet eyelashes, knowing that tomorrow was mine for the taking if I wanted it. All I have to be is willing to surrender to each moment, stay present and breathe. Just breathe.

Gratitude Brought Me to My Knees

There are moments in life that stand out. Often we move through each day, without any moments truly impacting us, but those that do, help shape us into who we are. I am realizing that most often than not, what we remember in days, weeks, years, is love. I’m not talking solely romantic love, although that surely impacts us beyond measure. But just love in general. It is what people sing about, write about, and turn their worlds upside down, inside out and right side in about.

What brought me to laugh, then to tears and then to my knees tonight was a dear friend’s text to me. This is what she said, “you have no idea how powerful you really are. I dreamt it. You’re observing me coming into my power and you want it too. And as much as I want to give up sometimes, I can’t. Because you are watching. And you are going to be big.” Holy shit balls! That literally stopped me in my tracks, kale in hand at the cutting board. (Yes, I do stop to read texts while cooking….multitasking Mama.) I laughed out loud and then immediately started to cry. A lot. Because I know it’s true and she gave it to me from such a real, loving place.  All of it is real. My observing this powerful woman who was sent to me through yoga, self expansion, truth and in a time when I needed to expand the sisterhood. My knowingness about my untapped power that I am reaching for like a leaf stretching toward the sunlight. But in the same breath of reaching, I am learning to surrender to the opening. To not reaching. To being in the present moment. To sitting in the grit and the discomfort that growth brings. Lately this has meant a lot of crying in public, humbling to say the least. Letting my emotions go. Moving through them. Not running or searching for the next thing to fill the void!

Right now I am just trying to love myself. In a way that I never have before. To sit with what is, being ok with being in the divine storm. For the first time since I can remember, I am alone. Meaning without a partner, spouse, male counterpart in crime. Moving into this space has been startling and terrifying. I crave partnership. I want a teammate. I am a hopeless romantic! But the beauty in being alone, without trying to fill the void, is that I am realizing, I can depend on ME. Self love is true expansion.

Although I believe we all have the capacity to continuously give love, even when we feel we have nothing left in the reserves; self love enables us to reach a higher level of giving and receiving. Which brings to mind the saying “you can’t truly love another until you love yourself”. Yes and no. We all have the capacity to love all the time. But without self love we build a wall around all of the hurt. We close ourselves off to feeling, giving and experiencing connection with other human beings as a self protective mechanism. The synonyms to protection are: barrier, buffer, shield, armor. Can we really let love in if we are self protecting? If we choose to love ourselves deeply and fully, we can also practice non attachment. Meaning, if and when we find ourselves alone….we are still ok! Of course we process the hurt of the loss, sit with it, feel it for as long as we need to, but we also are able to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps knowing that we can keep going. Because we have all that we need within ourselves. And what we need to learn outside of ourselves, is reflected back to us by those around us, if we just let the love in-stay open-and be present.

What is truly resonating with me right now is from Danielle Laporte’s book The Desire Map. In it she writes:

“Decide to rise.

Lean in. Listen up. Closely.

It’s your soul speaking, and she says,

Get UP!

I need you.

I want you.

I am you.

Choose me.

Lean in.

Listen Closely.

Decide to rise.”

With each moment I am doing my best to decide to rise. To rise through the hurt, the loss of a marriage, the BIG job of raising two spirited little girls who help me rise very day, the beginning again, the being vulnerable and the being blissfully alone. And I do so with immense gratitude for so many amazing, powerful, awe inspiring women by my side who truly LOVE me and encourage me to shine in those moments when all I can see and feel are clouds.