Paradise is Sharing...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Taking off your skates ...

As a child, I was fortunate enough to have a pond in my back yard.  On the winters when the cold air arrived early, and the snow arrived late, it was a skaters paradise.  My brother, sister, parents and a bunch of neighborhood kids would make a day of playing hockey, "crack the whip" and zooming around on our skates pretending to be Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton.  We would only stop to warm ourselves by the fire, drink some cocoa, and rest our feet.  The sun would set low in the sky, and we would finally sit on the banks of the pond and remove our skates.  I will always remember the sensation that followed - because I had been wearing my skates for so long, even after I had taken them off, it still felt like they were on my feet. The unmoving, non-slippery surface of the ground felt foreign.  Even though I was standing perfectly still, in my head I was still gliding.  I would shuffle along awkwardly back to the farm where more cocoa and cookies awaited. Depending on how long I had worn my skates, determined how long that sensation would last.  Skates are great fun to wear while you are on ice, but don't serve you when you have to start walking.  You need solid footing to walk home.

This past week, a classmate of mine lost her husband unexpectedly.  It's shocking to think that at our age, she is now a widow.  She and her husband remained in our hometown, and he was a pillar of the community. 

The events that have followed have touched me in an unexpected way.  My classmates have rallied on Facebook - created a group to coordinate donations, food, and other needs the family may have.  The ones who can attend the service have decided to arrive early so our class of 1991 can be a "united front of support" for our classmate.  As I posted on Facebook "What is touching to me is that even as awkward teenagers trying to find our way in the world, we managed to build a strong community we can count on as adults"

I now have a new story about the community I grew up in and the classmates who journeyed with me during my formative years.  But I carried my old story of being bullied, tormented and shunned for so long, that even though I can take that story off, I still feel the sensation of my past.  After all, who am I without that story?  Quite frankly, I like my new story of coming from a supportive community that offered top notch education and opportunities FAR better than my old story of being a lonely, overweight teenager who was bullied into thinking she was inferior.  I know the more I wear my new story, the sensation of having worn my old story for so long will eventually wear off.   I might shuffle along and feel awkward for a while, but soon my footing will feel more solid, and my steps will be made with more confidence.

"People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.
Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar."
~Thich Nhat Hanh~ 
As I am reflecting on old stories, I realize how many other pairs of skates I wore for way too long.  My relationship with my parents has often been strained and tense over the years... but in the last few years, we have been reconciled, they have been supportive, and I can actually say, I enjoy their company.  I have been able to take off the old story of not getting along with my parents, and put on a new story of being good friends with my parents.  But, for some reason, I still feel the old skates on my feet every time I am with them - old tension rises in my chest, I wait for someone to say the wrong thing, I walk on thin ice.... but, every time, as I am driving home, I am pleasantly surprised how well our visit went.  Why am I surprised?  Because I still feel like I am wearing my old skates.  The sensation of my old story remains with me.  But, the more I wear my new story, the less I feel the effects of my old one.

"I don't let go of concepts - I meet them with understanding.
Then they let go of me."
~Byron Katie~

Have you taken off your skates yet still feel wobbly on your feet? 

Paradise is here, Paradise is now .... Paradise is taking off your skates and feeling the ground beneath your feet.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Spirit...

Paradise is in a martini glass...
Digging my spoon into my creme brulee, and taking a sip from my amazing peanut butter martini, I sat at the Bar of Chocolate, flirting unashamedly with MyHoney as he savored his chocolate torte. 

Not wanting this evening to end, I decided I would extend the invitation ... "Wanna walk around after and see the Holiday decorations?" I asked in hopeful anticipation that he would say yes.   With whipped cream on his lip, he agreed that my suggestion was positively the most awesome idea he had ever heard and I was sheer genius for thinking of it.  My my .... touche MyDear... you are most definitely on your flirtatious game as well sir. Well played... well played.

Full of chocolate and spirits, we strolled out onto the streets of the Old Port, and walked hand-in-hand down the cobble stone sidewalks to Monument Square to check out this year's Yule Tree.  The air was crisp, cold and clean, and the moon gleamed with Jupiter shining like a diamond drop.  The holiday lights of the Old Port sparkled, the shop windows gleamed with their winter scenes, and the city was quiet.  Thomas Kinkade, eat your heart out.

Holiday Tree, Monument Square
Wasn't I just muttering just a few hours before that I wasn't in the Holiday Spirit?  Wasn't I just bemoaning about having to get all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping and holiday festivities done like a chore list?  The Scrooge really had nothing on me and my attitude earlier that day, so how is it I am walking though the streets of our beloved city, snapping pictures of holiday lights, and excitedly chatting with MyHoney about our Holiday plans?  Maybe I wasn't in the Holiday Spirit, because I wasn't supposed to be.  You don't get in the spirit, the spirit is in YOU.

I didn't have to get in the Holiday Spirit... the Holiday Spirit is in ME.

It's not like at the end of the Holidays we take off our Holiday Spirits like our winter coats and store it away for the Spring.  No... instead it simply lies dormant until we rekindle it with a memory, an awareness, or a childlike wonder ...  and then it springs forth like a burning inferno.
Paradise is Holiday Lights, Old Port, Maine

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  ~Charles Dickens

How about you?  What rekindles your Holiday Spirit?  Looking at holiday lights?  Decorating the tree?  Playing Holiday music?  Let your Spirit shine.

Paradise is Here, Paradise is Now..... Paradise is Holiday Spirit .... 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

End the War on Obesity.... Declare Peace.

Sitting down with my coffee this morning, I read through my blogs, scanned the headlines, and sadly my eyes turned to the phrase "War on Obesity".... followed by an article chastising Americans for tipping the scales, and pictures of headless overweight people to exemplify how our waistlines and butts are expanding to astronomical sizes.  All I could think of is I would be horrified if I saw my headless body on the pages of Yahoo News waddling down the streets on an otherwise ordinary day. 

While I understand that America is getting larger and larger, and very real diseases are consequences of our hefty appetites, I still feel the words "war" are harsh, especially when you take the glorified news headlines and whittle them down to the specific individuals they have set their sights on.  That individual is me.  I am in medical terms - obese.  I may not be the image that comes to mind when you hear the word - after all, I am an active, productive member of society.  I hike, kayak, bike, walk.  I eat things like kale, quinoa and tofu.   I am happy and for the most part - healthy.   So why is there a war waged on me?  What crimes against society have I committed?

When I hear people talk about their weight in war terms "Battling my weight, struggling with my weight, wrestling with my weight"  ... I cringe.  Then there are the Boot Camps that treat the overweight like insignificant underlings that need to be punished for being fat slackers and slobs of society.  It makes me angry.... and eventually, the anger subsides to deep sadness.  Sad for the teenage girl that I once was that I constantly battled with.  The personal battle I waged against myself at such a young age nearly conquered me.  As I grew into my twenties - the battle raged on - the battlefield was my dinner plate, base camp was the gym, and the Commander in Chief was whomever I had deemed the expert that day - whether it be Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, or Susan Powter.  I often went AWOL - binging on bags of chips, bags of cookies, quarts of ice cream, loaves of bread.  Punishment was full on battles at the gym, or worse, head in the toilet to purge myself of all my sins.

The war waged on into my thirties.... this seemingly never ending battle took its toll on my self esteem, relationships and productivity.  It consumed everything I did, every decision I made, and every event to which I was invited.  I had to strategize and make "battle plans" to divide and conquer buffet tables at family events.  I planned and plotted the days leading up to going out with friends - starving myself for days so I could participate "normally" with my comrades.  Surprises such as my husband wanting to take me out to dinner, or being presented with a gift of chocolates, cakes or baked goods were sneak attacks of friendly fire- and I would have to retreat from the battle lines to re-arm. 

If you are thinking to yourself  "that sounds exhausting".... it was.  I trudged myself to the gym, and through my workouts.  There was no joy - it was all militant and with purpose.  I measured my progress of inflitrating the battle lines with tape measures and scales. I lived on rations of diet shakes, pills, powders and supplements. I suffered battle scars and wounds.  Some friendships became collateral damage.  But I was a soldier - I had to win this battle of the bulge.  I even went as far as to become a Weight Watchers leader so I could lead other soldiers into battle. 

Battle weary, I sat down at my computer - meaning to strategize a new battle plan to combat my binging attacks, I stumbled upon a group that met on the Weight Watchers chat boards.... but they were not discussing WW - quite the opposite, they were talking about being victims of war - the war they had declared on themselves, and they had found peace.  The peace treaty they signed was a pledge to themselves to never diet again.  I read the materials they suggested, the books they recommended, and their stories of victory.  I waved my white flag - I surrendered.  I will never diet again.  I entered peace time for the first time in my adult life.  The war was over, I was allowed to come home.

Since then, I no longer fight with myself.  Instead, I have peaceful negotiations on eating consciously, being active and enjoying my life.  Peace time has consisted of enjoying meals, looking forward to dining out with friends and family, and not being stressed out when presented with tokens of love or gratitude in the form of food.  Walking my dogs has become an activity of love and joy, taking note of my surroundings, nature, and enjoying the fact my body can power me up mountains. I still have scars of old battles such as stretch marks, sagging skin, cellulite and age marks, but I look at them as medals of honor. 

So have a  A very merry Christmas, And a happy New Year ~ Let's hope it's a good one, Without any fear.  War is over over ~ If you want it ~ War is over ... now....

Click to purchase

I encourage anyone who is struggling with weight issues to surrender.  This doesn't mean give in, sit on the couch and eat chips.  This means give up the war - declare peace.  Peace equals love, war equals hate... you will never be healthy, fit and vibrant if you hate yourself.  End the war. Do it now. 

I highly recommend reading Geneen Roth's book - Breaking Free from Emotional Eating.  If you would like some coaching to get through the book and end the war, contact me... I'd love to hear from you.

Paradise is here, Paradise is now .... Paradise is being at Peace with Yourself....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Harvesting Memories...

There's a black-top road, a faded yellow centerline
It can take you back to the place, but it can't take you back in time ~ Wynonna Judd

I could drive there in my sleep.... but I point out old landmarks to MyHoney as I steer my Subaru down the road, taking the last long corner where the wooded lane opens up to rolling fields, and on the right, up on a hill... sits the farm. 

I pull slowly into the long driveway, hearing the gravel crunch under the tires, and see the barn come into view despite the heavy cloak of fog lingering over the meadows.  We pull into the door yard, and I take a deep breath as we prepare for a day with my family - at the farm.

I love my parents - I do.  But to fully understand my family dynamic, you would have had to work in the wind, rain and weather -as we all picked together, as we all picked together side by side...(Rutabaga! Rutabaga! Rutabaga! or at least that is how the "Rutabaga Song" goes... the pride song my father made up for us all to sing as we froze our fingers to the bone, pulling the stubborn root vegetables from their deeply mired places in the mud, and cut the roots and leaves off to plunk them in a row.  When you work with family, you become more than just family.  Your father becomes dependent on you.  As a child, the responsibility can be weighty and confusing.  I worked beside my father during "bumper crops" and disappointing crop failures.  I saw worry, stress, and fatigue in my fathers eyes.  I also saw immense pride, joy, and satisfaction.  I was more than just a daughter to my father - I was part of the farm.  Getting out of the car, and walking into the house, I immediately inhaled the scents of being home at the farm.

Pumpkin bread, apple pies, and carrot cake.  As we enter the kitchen, we are greeted heartily by my father and his booming welcome "WWWWEELLLLLLLLLL!!!"  As mom buzzes around the kitchen pulling hot whipped potatoes, carrots and rutabaga souffle out of the oven, Dad offers us beverages and we sit at the table ready to feast on the bounty of this years harvest.  Dad beams with pride - and even though it's obvious, he says "All the vegetables came out of Mom's garden"  Truly, It is Thanksgiving at the farm.

Gratitude feels different when it's hand-picked... 

My friends used to look at the hundred acres I called home, and exclaim "It must be so much FUN to live here!"  At the time, I wouldn't call it fun.  On hot summer days when my friends were at the local swimming hole, I was in the fields laboring stacking hay bales.  We spent days on end with the sun beating on our backs weeding the crops on our hands and knees.  During school days, as my friends participated in after school sports and activities, I had to hurry home to work in the fields and bring in the harvest.  The work was both back breaking, and at times could break your spirit. As a child and teenager tensions ran high as we tried to create our own boundaries and become our own people - people who didn't want to work on the farm, the lifeline, pride and joy of my father.  My father took our resignations personally, as a rejection of him, not of the work.  There was friction.  It was hard - I won't lie, and some of the friction and tension spilled over into our adulthood.  We were born and raised to work as a team, and that didn't always translate into loving like a family.   For many years I resented the farm.

"OK, let's say Grace."  My father folded his gigantic rough hands, and my mother, brother, MyHoney and I bowed our heads.  "Dear Jesus, Thank you for this day and this food that Jean made.  Thank you for letting us all be here together, in your name we pray Amen".... Amen we all repeat, and for the next hour we pass serving dishes around the table, chat about current events, tell old stories and laugh... like old friends.  Once the dinner dishes are cleared, my Dad coaxes my Mom to bring out the pies and cakes - once again repeating the fact the pumpkin and carrots came from the fields of the farm.

As I polished off a generous hunk of my mothers famous carrot cake, I thought about the pride of the finished product my Dad presented to us today.  As a business owner myself now, I realized the accomplishment he must feel.  He's made it - all the work, sweat, blood and tears resulted in feeding his family.  He has raised children and grandchildren.  It all came from the earth, from his hands, and more importantly - it was all made possible because he had a family who through all the wind and weather, we all picked together, we all picked together side by side.... at home, on the farm.

Paradise is Here, Paradise is Now, Paradise will turnip on the farm....

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Believing My Kite Will Take Flight...

"Run! Run! Keep the string tight"  My friend and I would crane our necks to the sky, the dazzling sun making our eyes squint as we peered into the crystal sky watching the fate of our flying kites at the end of our strings.  Not to sound all "back in the day".... but back in our day, we made our own kites with what ever we could find laying around - duct tape, trash bags, wax paper, tin foil, dowels and string.  We would spend hours, sometimes days, creating the newest contraption, excitedly designing the next flying masterpiece, and run out to the fields as wildly as the Wright Brothers with less knowledge in physics, but just as much heart. 

We would launch our vessels to the wind, watch them dart and shimmy as the wind beat and battered them.  The kites would curtsy and bow - flutter and flirt with the breeze, and eventually would spiral violently and nose dive into the ground.  We would look at each other - laugh like crazy, exclaiming how awesome it was when the kite was airborne for the few brief moments before it's catastrophic fate.  We would run over to the crash site, gather up the crumpled pieces and walk back to the house, chattering about how we would make it better next time. 

Kites at Bug Light, South Portland ME
Glue sticks, glitter, streamers and a few hours later, we would be back at it for another attempt.

Kites at Bug Light, South Portland, ME
Kites at Bug Light, South Portland, ME
Never once do I remember feeling defeated or dismayed when my creation took a nose dive.  It was part of the thrill and fun to see how long we could get our masterpieces airborne.  I loved the creativity and the challenge of it all.  I schemed, designed, and wittingly created the most beautiful kites that were as flight worthy as an ostrich.  It was awesome.

So why do I sit here, in tears and frustrated, ready to call defeat when seeing my latest creation take a dive? Why is it so hard as an adult to pick up the pieces, spackle on some glitter and duct tape and try again?  Where did that sense of adventure and pure joy of seeing my masterpieces fly, even if just for a short time, before they spiral and hit the ground?  Where did the enthusiasm of rebuilding go? 

Remembering how kites challenge the winds of my childhood reminds me that the masterpieces I am working on will take flight, and there is joy to be had in creating them.  Just the excitement of the launch, running like crazy with all the hope and anticipation in the world is exhilarating.   I need to hold on to that string - I need to keep running.  My kite will take flight -I just need to believe.... and a little glitter and duct tape might do the trick. 

Paradise is here, Paradise is now .... Paradise is taking flight....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I am a river...

Wooded Stream, Douglas Mountain
I don't have the money.  I don't have the resources.  I don't have the time.  I don't know how.  I could never pull it off.  I'm too fat, I'm too lazy, I don't have enough energy, I can't keep up.  I'm unsure, I'm not smart enough, I will never fit in.  They won't like me, they won't accept me, I should just give up.

I can make a million excuses to stay mired in mud.  And, if I really want to wallow in self pity - I will believe all the excuses.  But watching MyHoney recover from what could have put many people in the ultimate mud pit has reminded me - "where there is a will, there is a way."  He has had obstacles put in his way, but he flows around them.  He is determined to not remain stagnant - he knows he is strong, powerful and swift, even at first if his recovery starts off as just a trickle.

MyHoney, finding his way around obstacles in his way...
I woke up this morning feeling stuck and stagnant.  Seems like the same old problems keep following me around.  I wanted to call defeat.  I wanted to sit in the mud and wallow in self pity.... While sipping my coffee I kept thinking to myself "I need to get out of this mindset - I need to get unstuck"  I know from coaching, I needed to shift my focus from what I couldn't do, to what I could do.... from what I don't want, to what I do want.  I don't want to be stuck.  I don't want to be mired in the mud - I want to be like a river.

 Be still like a mountain and flow like a great river. ~  Lao Tzu

Swift River, Coos Canyon - Byron M
"I am a river.... " I said to myself.  "I am a river - I go with the flow.  When obstacles get in my way, I find a way around - I find a way up, over and across.  I may start as a trickle ... I may churn and get turbulent, but I am always flowing.  I can wear down the boulders in my way..... I am a river ... I go with the flow.... at first as a trickle, then as I gain momentum, I gain strength." 

Whether you are recovering from surgery, illness, financial set backs, or if you seem to be in a holding pattern of not moving forward, you need to remember you are not a mud puddle - you are not stagnant and mired - you are a river.  When you go with the flow, you can find ways around obstacles.  With enough persistence, you can even cut through the boulders that get in your way.

Swift River, Township E
Everything that we want is downstream...  And you don't have even have to turn the boat and paddle downstream, just let go of the oars, the current will carry you. ~Esther Hicks

Once I finished my mantra, I wrote a list of all the things I can do - things that are within my control, that can get me through this obstacle I am facing.  I kept in mind that I may need to start as a trickle, and once I gain momentum, I can take on more.  With the list of things I can do to change the shape of my landscape in front of me, I felt amazingly unstuck - I will go with the flow.  I am a river.

Paradise is here, Paradise is now ~ Paradise is being in the flow.....