Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Brick Wall

Day 230 - Facing the brick wall.   After a strong run, the brick wall has found me... Somewhat.  No, I haven't fallen off the vegan bandwagon and with enthusiastic strength, I am confident I shall remain vegan for the rest of my days.   I am however, human with human emotions, feelings, and actions.  My number one challenge has always been comfort eating.  I used food as a cushion to soften blows of hurt.  I would just treat myself to some decadent “thing” and gorge.  It was the one thing I could control at times when I was not able to control that which hindered me.  I was so swept up in my new vegan world that when I opened my eyes and ears to my former world, I received a heartfelt blow that caused me to revert to old seek comfort in the very foods I had to get away from.  I ran head first into that wall and gave up eating raw for about a week.  I stopped sharing with my vegan friends, and just ate things not good for me:  white potatoes, breads, beans, rice, pastas, peanut butter.  All the while, I was able to give advice to others, I did not seek any for myself.  I let the brick wall crush me. 

Poisonous words - another set of bricks

You may ask, after all this time, what happened?  I realize now that the wall had been slowly building a brick at time.   It’s no secret that over the past seven months, I have experienced a great amount of weight loss.  I don’t know how much because I refused to be a slave to a scale as the objective of this journey was not about losing weight.  Never considered “obese”, my last check-up two years ago revealed that , I was at the top of my weight range for my height.  At 5’9”, my weight was always distributed evenly and people always thought of me as slender.  Despite this, I easily fit double-digit sized clothing.  As I mentioned in, "Sad vs Glad", the purpose of this shift is to improve the quality of life, to avoid "death by diet".  If a little weight loss due to purging of animal products occurred, then so be it. 

Unfortunately, all do not see this as I do.  Now that I wear single-digit clothing, people who physically “see” me (family, friends, associates)  have begun to make remarks about my weight loss and it feels negative.   Some consider this a “hobby” and fear I am becoming obsessed, some have called me puny, skinny, a few have poked me or placed their hands around my arms or legs as if to “measure” how small I have become.  No one notices or mentions that I am strong as an ox, that I have energy, that I am… happy.  As my body transitions, and as I learn, I realize that I must continue to build muscle and healthy tissue.  But, alas, no one sees the finish line as I do.   Outside of my vegan world, in my physical world, all I seem to hear is remarks about the juices  and the raw dishes and “I don’t know how you eat that stuff”.

Bunk the “stick and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt” adage.  Words do hurt and we must be mindful of them for each word becomes another brick in the walls we build for ourselves or others.

Soulmates and Sledgehammers

 I paid the price of my week of eating badly.  Lethargy, skin breakouts, no desire to work out, and depression.   I kept it to myself.  With a big sigh, I slowly started over and decided to do what was right for me not other people.  Funny thing happens when you hit the brick wall, most of those who drove you to it don’t even realize their part in helping to create it and that you are carrying your bricks "around your neck like an albatross* (from the poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”©1798,Samuel Taylor Coleridge) .  In the poem, an old mariner is forced to see, deal, and profess his indiscretion.   It is only after he confesses, that he is given a chance of hope.  This same rang true for me.  On my own, I confided that I had not eaten well and that I would start anew by completing a detoxifying 5-day juice fast. 

Soulmates are the sledgehammer
needed to break down walls.
On day three of the fast, a friend from the other side of the world, Jo Hazelhurst, spoke of similar food experiences, unbeknownst of my own transgression.  Speechless, I realized just at that moment, we were soulmates.  I was at the same place in the same time as she.  This isn’t the first time we’ve been parallel.  In, "Breaking Fast", I mentioned that she was “Vegan Girl goes Yoga”.  We use the same quote by Gandhi as our personal motto, and we’re both on the path of raw living,  positive coaching, to give more than we receive, to practice yoga, to live peacefully.    While words that hurt build brick walls, the strength of soulmates become the sledgehammer needed to break them down.  I realize that no matter what, I really am not alone.  My physical world is only one aspect of many.  I learned not to be afraid to reveal my wall, my vulnerabilities, and to ask for help.

Trying Again  (if at first you don’t succeed)

Kale, snow peas, squash, tomato, granny smith apple, sprouted raw beans
Topped with nutritional yeast and a splash of Bragg's amino acid
I know what I had to do, I had to pick myself up, dust off and try again.  I looked to the foods that were successful and realized that I have learned a lot from beans.  I learned take it slow and to practice patience. Now, I have learned to try again. A month or so ago, I attempted to sprout raw garbanzo beans with dismal results.  After a great start, they decayed and went foul.  I walked away from it.  Two weeks ago, I tried again with fantastic results.  The beans were delicious and I made this salad with them.

The lesson here is that like me, sometimes, you too will soar, but “sometimes you won’t...sadly, it’s true that Bang-Ups and Hang-Ups can happen to you... when you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done…yet, somehow, you will escape..” (from the book: Oh the Places You’ll GO” ©1990 Dr. Suess aka Theodore Geisel)  

So, discover a new way to comfort yourself:  find a soulmate,  grab a sledgehammer, break down your wall, and try again.

Yoga: Tadasana -  Mountain Pose

The starting pose in most yoga practice.  The purpose of mountain pose is to strengthen or improve posture, to signify that is time to begin.  You can stand in mountain pose in meditation, as long as you need to.  According to The Expanding Light, the mountain pose “has a very special purpose, it sets the tone for all that will follow.  It is the neutral pose between other poses.”  

For me, it signifies deep cleansing breath, standing still, on strong feet, in alignment, releasing all prior negativity, ready to try again, ready to begin anew. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Letting Go

I just read a powerful  blog entry by my dear friend Susan. In it, she talks about her son's deployment and dealing with change that was not self-initiated.  She talks about letting go and transitioning into a new situation.  The article was very profound for me as I also saw her article as grounding.  It is hard to let go when uncertain that there is solid footing upon which to land.  Her experience is no different from my vegan one or from any adjustment you may be occurring.  The commonality is that when faced with any form of change whether warranted or unwarranted, it is up to each of us to recognize, as she puts it, the "curve balls which force us into the best possible opportunities" or as I like to say, "a chance to grow strong feet".

There are several things we can not change.  There are several surprises thrust upon us that we do not like.  There are several decisions we are forced to make.  What is your coping mechanism? How you do handle change -  Do you dig down deep accept change, or do you fight it?  Whether you do anything or not, change will still occur.  How you handle it, is up to you.

 "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice".  
from the song "Freewill" ©1980, Rush

So make the choice!  It is better to look at yourself and how you handle changes.  Become grounded in who and what you are.  This will equip you to handle anticipated change and those unexpectedly thrust upon you.

Letting go as in above, means acceptance of the departure of a loved one.  Sometimes it means letting go of a way of doing things, and other times, it means letting go of those you need to say goodbye to. We are a selfish society.  When we love something, we think of our personal gratification and tend to hold on to it dearly.  In any relationship, albeit parent:child, friend:friend; partner:partner, caregiver:recipient, or spouse:spouse, many of us have probably heard that  "if you truly love someone, you have to find the strength to let them go".   In these situations, we muster the strength to express our love and do just that - let go.  But let's look at this more intimately - how you have ever applied this to your very being?   Do you love yourself enough to let go, to accept an opportunity for personal growth?  Every chance to change is a chance to exhibit the strength of your grounding and chance to experience progression.


Getting back to Susan.  My friend had to release her loved one, something no one wants to do.  Her love for him, however gave her the strength to liberate him, to accept the change in her life. A funny thing happens when you let go of your own personal desire and place the love of others first - you grow stronger.  This deep-core strength is courage exemplified.  Don't waste it.  Use it to challenge an internal growth and try something new.When you think about it, as you let go of one thing, innate habit naturally forces you to grasp another.  No one floats idly or aimlessly.  We all hold on to some "thing" at different intervals in our lives. As Susan musters the courage to let her son "grow", she also has let go, opening up and providing space for a growth of her own.  She has begun to use her new found courage to do something she always wanted to do:  complete a triathlon.  Growth doesn't have to be large on a global scale for growth is personal.  It can also be a small thing.

Handstands and Cheese

While I've experienced deep growth as a diligent worker towards personal alignment (Beaconing Light), I appreciate the small growth spurt increments along the way.  Prior to Yoga, I suffered from vertigo - an equilibrium imbalance.  Attacks would come and go unannounced.  It's an incapacitating and terrible condition of nausea, dizziness, and headache.  Since I started practicing, I have not experienced a single episode, however, the fear of falling or seriously injuring myself linger and haunt.  For that reason, I mentally shied away from poses that challenge this very thing.  In my comfort zone, I stayed in poses close to the ground.  My coach then challenges me to do a handstand.  I meditated, deciding to love my self enough to release my fear, to accept that I am changing and to become grounded in my growth.  I found the courage to try it. With a little help of the wall behind me, I accomplished this feat.  Sure, I'll need more practice to strengthen my hold, but the realization of being grounded by my hands instead of my feet is the true reward.  It is demonstrative of change.

Now for the cheese...prior to becoming vegan, cheese was the one thing I thought I enjoyed.  I knew it was not good for me but I ate it not caring for the lethargy that accompanied it.  I thought cheese and fermentation was a complex thing.  After transition, I did not like the  "vegan cheese alternatives".  Many contained animal by-products like casein and most of them are commercially processed.  In my new, raw, live-food world - cheese does not exist, or so I thought.  Live foodists eat cheeses made from nuts or seeds.  I decided to try to manufacture my own.  I felt grounded and secure enough in my new "non-cooking" to let go of previous notions.  I purchased some raw sunflowers seeds and "went for it":

Sunflower Seed Cheese
Raw sunflower seeds * nutritional yeast * garlic * sea salt
Soak sunflower seeds overnight, drain.  In a blender or food processor, grind drained seeds until smooth, add yeast, garlic and sea salt to taste.  Place mixture in a cheese cloth, 
squeeze out excess liquid, form into a ball.

It's a small and simple thing this cheese but it represents forward movement, education, and growth.

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Everything.  True love of others allows you to let them go to discover and experience growth of their own.   True non-narcissistic "love of self" allows you to:
  • find the strength and courage to try new things
  • see yourself clearly and where you wish to go
  • accept opportunity to improve and change
  • establish challenge goals and use ability to achieve them
Define your loves, release, and discover your growth opportunities.  Use the strength of your new found courage to move forward, to change, to complete a triathlon, grow strong feet & hands, or just simply find a new way to make cheese.

Yoga:  Virabhadrasana II - Warrior 2

Named for the ancient warrior, Virabhadra, who, when called into battle, is overcome with fear.  The teachings of yoga "liberate" him, allowing him to let go, act with fierce courage and unwavering focus.

Warrior 2 is an anchored, grounded posture.  It is acknowledgement of past, letting go of trepidation, placing weight on feet with forward focus and movement, strong...ready for choice, ready for challenge, ready for change.