Monthly Archives: October 2012

Trickster or Treatment

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First of all, I am so sorry for my absence.  I’ve missed writing here.  My mother, who has been ill for a few months from pancreatic cancer, passed away.  My sisters and I were there in the room with her, holding her hand when she went.  It was very peaceful.  Then, we got to plan the memorial service according to her wishes, held at the beach.  It was really quite lovely…even in the midst of a hurricane.  The waves were the largest I’d ever seen them here.  The water is usually mirror still.  I’ve spent the past couple of days sleeping..finally.  So, that’s pretty much where I’ve been.  It’s good to be back.

I love Halloween.  Even better is the Day of the Dead tomorrow or All Saints Day, whatevs.

When this time of the year rolls around, I generally turn my thoughts to death.  I’ve spent a lot of time cultivating what I consider to be a healthy attitude towards it.  My own death doesn’t frighten me.  I don’t hold many things to be True, unchangeable and steadfast, but this I do: facing and accepting the inevitability of my death is the most important work that one can undertake to set oneself free.  The inevitability of everyone’s death should also nurture in us a deep respect for their fragility.  This is more true than True because somehow my own death is far easier to accept than the inevitable death of those I love.  Their death makes me feel clingy to them instead.  But, lately, I’ve done my duty with death.

Here’s what I really wanted to talk to you about.  In all mythologies, there is a trickster.  In the mythology of my country, we have the gede (hard “g”).  Tricksters are generally given high status in human stories because tricksters dare to see things and push us to see things that can be uncomfortable but are ultimately to our own betterment.  In essence, they are the archetype of dangerous play (and if you’re playing doesn’t have even a touch of danger, you may not be doing it right.  🙂 )  The danger come from pushing the guidelines of society to their breaking point and often past it.

When I think of health (held up as a nearly impossible ‘holy grail’ these days) and society’s role upon it, I see that we can take one of two approaches to it.  There is the treatment of the ‘condition’.  The treatment is sanctioned by society, does not mess with the status quo, often creates a dependence of some kind, and generally doesn’t demand anything of the person undergoing the treatment.  It is all quite passive, prescriptive…..and, gulp, dull.

Enter the trickster.  With the trickster comes the game.  For a game to be well played, there needs to be knowledge of the rules.  This helps you look the rules in the eye as you break them.  With the trickster, you need to engage fully in the process with awareness.  The trickster will get you question everything.  She will get you to play with the issue.  The trickster will urge you to detach yourself from the social ramifications of a situation.  He will get you to laugh at the constraints you’ve placed on yourself.  The trickster shatters preconceptions.

Let’s look at the same “problem” from the two points of view.  We’ll look at weight loss.

First the treatment:

The very first assumption that the treatment subjects you to is that you have to lose weight at all.  You really might now have to, but the societal prescription to be ultra-thin is already assumed.  With treatment, you get very clear markers of progress that may have absolutely nothing to do with you.

Next, to maintain its own…integrity?…society will make sure that you understand that this problem is somehow all on your shoulders.  These are some of the things you will hear: you have no willpower, you have no self-love, you have no merit, you have no intelligence, you have less worth.  You will NOT hear: this culture that we humans made up a while ago has failed you.

Then, you will be given the party line.  Watch your portion intake.  Eat everything in moderation.  Exercise 3x a week for 30 minutes.

If you fail (and according to this treatment, you WILL), you can repeat the whole cycle for the rest of your life with a never questioned dependence on the treatment.

Enter the trickster.  Enter a little insecurity.  Like I said before, with the trickster you must engage.

The first question the trickster may ask might be along the lines of this:  Do you really need to lose weight or are all your girlfriends just really jealous of your public speaking ability?  Do you really need to lose weight or are you really just wanting to get a divorce?  Do you really need to lose weight or do you feel weighted down by this job that is stripping all the joy from your life?  Is your weight the issue or do you wish you knew how to fly a plane? (Really, the treatment finds safety in attributing your malaise to something visible that they can point to.  The trickster loves to play with dreams.)  If you decide that you do really want to lose weight, the trickster won’t be satisfied with that.  She’ll want to know why.  He’ll want to know what that MEANS to you.

Then, and this is the fun part, comes the process.  The trickster will not be satisfied with pat answers to anything.  Your journey will depend on your ability to question the answers that you’ve been given.

Why should my portions be the same size every day when some days I’m hardly hungry and other days I’m famished?  Why should I eat everything in moderation if some things just aren’t good for me?  Why should I exercise 3x a week for 30 minutes a pop when I would rather hike for three hours on a Saturday and deadlift my bodyweight for 5 minutes on a Wednesday?  Why should my culture dictate to me that I should be 5’11 and 110 pounds when I’m 5’3 and feel ill when I drop below 130?

Most of all, the trickster will get you to play.  Concepts become toys and regulations become malleable.  You become your own authority.

Following the treatment is easier.  Being passive is always easier than being engaged.  But, it sure isn’t nearly as much fun.
Speaking of fun, here’s a video from my favorite Haitian roots band.  I’ll be at their Gede Ball tomorrow night.

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Inspiration or perspiration?

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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do 

with your one wild and precious life?” 

-Mary Oliver

I’m sure you’ve seen this question posted on all sorts of inspirational sites.  I’ve used it in my writing before.  I finally looked up the rest of the poem.  The sublime Ms. Oliver begins the poem asking who made the world.  Then this happens:

“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

Yeah, I know.  Me, too.  Moved!  Inspired.  It’s that flush in your chest, a little fullness in the throat, maybe a little moisture in the eye.  Five minutes from now, if you’re anything like me, the inspiration passes and life continues as it had been before all that feel good/fuzzy stuff just happened.

Inspiration changes nothing.  It changes no one.  Inspiration is a benign breeze that rustles the leaves but acts in no way to knock them loose.

There is the inspiration, the prayer..and then, there is life.  The being in the grass, the strolling through the fields….the movement that punctuates the day, the nourishing of the belly, the sprinting up a hill because you can.

If you want to change your life, yes, inspiration is wonderful.  It is the nice initial blush that the view of the possible puts into your cheeks.  I’ve seen this question about what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life countless times.  It took a long time to actually answer the question.  Then, even longer still to start living the answer.

There is only one life, however wild and precious it is to you is up to you to decide, but then comes the perspiration.  The skin sweats out of the answer.  The salty sheen is what is real.

It can be very easy to get stuck chasing the inspiration.  Mostly because it feels really good to have those lofty thoughts.  It feels amazing to aspire.  The daily chores and the constant care of the body feels a little less euphoric.  But, that is where life is.  Life is in the sweat.

Like us on facebook…if you feel so inspired.

same but different

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I like to get feedback from my clients.  Yesterday, I found this waiting in my inbox.  I have the best clients in the whole wide world.  I currently have a couple open slots for distance coaching (Skype!).  Together, we can have the same results as far as your satisfaction but totally different because you are a different person with your own unique life.  

“Thursday 1:00 pm.  Every week for 3 months, I would rush to my computer for my precious Coaching appointment.  This week, instead, I’m having lunch : carrot soup cooked with homemade broth, coconut milk and cultured butter,  plantain chips, cooked in palm oil and no chemicals added, and trying cod liver.  I am also admiring the beautiful yellow flower that blossomed this morning in my room, close to my bed.

It started in my backyard.  We were seating on a colorful warm blanket, on the grass.  I was asked to briefly connect with my 5 senses.  Then, we moved to skype appointments to shorten the distance.

My feedback: Life changing and down-to-earth. Health and Connection.  Empowering, personalized, logical.  Really Nourishing Freedom !!!

I come from 20 more years of therapy, coaching and personal development workshops.  Anorexia, anxiety, depression, burn-outs, workaholism, perfectionism, control, isolation….are all in my resume.  And all the professionals that I had paid before had told me that the real remedy is to “practice self-love, connect with my inner child and take care of my self”.  Okay, I always responded.  But in my head the question remained “HOW do I f….g do  that” ?

It is so concrete, simple and natural!!!! Sleep well, eat well, have fun, breathe, relax, spend time with people that you love or that you can have fun with, spend time outside close to trees, water, the sky and the sun.  Yes, that is Self-Love-inner-child-care.  Taking care of my physical body, of my real needs as an animal-human-being.

And that answer to me IS life changing.  Nobody had taught me that before Nourishing Freedom.  And nobody had taught me the concepts of Freedom, Connection and Power in a way that I could understand and experience.

So, I learned the abc’s of sleep.  Quantity and quality.  Then, to eat for nourishment and pleasure.  To know what my body likes and doesn’t.  Sugar makes me tired and depressed, gluten or corn make be bloated, red clover flowers ease my PMS symptoms, broth-soup comforts and nourishes me.   We, focussed on specific herbs and tools to heal the symptoms of chronic stress and to break free from stressful lifestyle habits.  I went from workaholism to working part-time as an aerobic teacher in outside parks.  Gettingg paid to have Fun! Nature! and more time with my kids !

My kids ? The greatest bonus of it all.  Their health was transformed throughout my nourishing freedom journey.  They went from candy eaters to loving eggs, bacon, meat, soups, vegetables, almond butter.  As a result, these cranky-pale kids turned into joyful, energetic thick-colored-skin children.

The greatest transformation for me ? Besides my eating habits which do change EVERYTHING (my thoughts, my mood, how I love my kids) was  discovering my connection with nature and the deep impact on myself.   Walking barefoot in the wild, spending even 20 minutes lying on the grass or working along the river, feeling safe in the middle of nowhere in the mountains …is for me ABUNDANCE.  The real gift of being alive.

Am I now a 24-hour happy and perfect person? NO. Do I now everything about health ? NO. Is the sexual abused part of me healed forever? NO.  I am still this “special-needs-kid” who will always need to take care of herself and make choices to avoid certain uncomfortable symptoms and stay healthy.  I will still go through the gray clouds of life, the storms, rains, earthquakes, ….as well as the sunny days and full moon nights.   The difference lies in the sensation of freedom, connection and power.  Having the tools to take care of my REAL self = my body.  Being able to enjoy this variety of experiences.

Concretely, I am still focussing on decreasing anxiety, building a solid community, playing and nourishing myself every day.  But, now I have enough knowledge to continue the journey by myself.  Some wisdom to choose what I read, to stop believing most of the things people say and to instead trust everything my body says.

I also know that I can contact my favorite inspired Health and Lifestyle Coach if I need to.”  -Larissa G.

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routines as art

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Your health and your life are the same thing.  When you create a life you create the image of your health and vice versa.  The colors you use to paint your health will illuminate your life.

We tend to think of our health as something that we do at the gym and then there’s everything else.  The little decisions that you make during the day ARE your health.  Think of your life/health as a fresco.  Painting a fresco is a creative and ancient technique.  When you paint a fresco, you apply thin layer upon thin layer until the fresco is indistinguishable from the wall itself.  It lasts.  A fresco endures.  The tiny decisions you make throughout your day are the thin layers.  It all matters.  It determines the image.

This is where the routines come in.  I spoke a little about routines as roots in my last post.  Now, I want to switch up the metaphor so that you can think of your routines as the nearly translucent layers that build up to be your life.  Through these daily decisions you create the art of your life, the beauty of your health.  Or not.  Health stripping routines also create an image and become a part of you. The image just may not be what you intend.

If the daily applications of color are only splashed through with 30 minutes or so of health seeking behavior, the image will be inconsistent and distorted.  An image layered with nourishment with a few “bad” decisions can maintain its integrity far more easily. If you nourish your health and your freedom, once a week doing something a little less nurturing to that idea doesn’t have nearly the same impact as if you do the opposite.

What does this look like in practice?

I can show tell you a little about my routines, the thin layers that I use to create the work of art that is my health.

I am in bed by 10-11 every night.  My sleep quality is the base layer.

When I wake, I have a simple routine.  I do my dental health routine, then my neti pot, then I move.  This can be anything from some light stretching to an outdoor hike.  I dry brush and take a cold shower.

Each meal during the day is in keeping with my evolutionary heritage so that every once in a while I can have corn tortilla tacos or coconut milk ice cream or something else that strikes my fancy.

In the evenings, I like to sweep.  (It’s a funny meditative habit I picked up from my dad.)  Depending on the season, I’ll knit, write, collage…something crafty with my hands.  Then, I get my herbal infusion ready for the next day.

I try to laugh whenever I can and value my relationships.  I do something small each day that makes that day special.  Whether it is trying a new tea flavor to inspecting what is currently blooming or take pictures of the sky.

Nothing is particularly flashy.  Nothing stands alone as “the thing I do to be healthy”.  These are the fine layers of habit.  After time, together they create a lasting beauty that is far greater than the sum of the parts.

I would LOVE to hear about any suggestions or any little ways that you paint a beautiful life.

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