Tag Archives: wisdom

Words that Mean Nothing

Standard

There are so many words that get tossed around in the alternate universe that is called “wellness” that really stick in my craw.  I find that when I share my annoyances, they dissipate a little and I don’t have to obsess over them….as much.  So, join me in the aggravation shall you?

natural: as in “natural foods”, ‘natural flavors”, etc.  This is the most seductive of them right now.  You want stuff to be natural, I’m sure.  However, the dictionary delineates between things we find in their raw state as natural and something manmade as not natural.  So how can any boxed/packaged food claim to be natural?  They can’t.  Not by definition.  Of course, neither can a good chicken soup be considered natural because it’s been processed by your dear sweet grandmother.  On the other side of things, this also seems to imply that whatever man does is not natural.  Why is a beehive natural and a skyscraper not?  Why is a dog snarling when cornered natural and a woman screaming in rage when abused not?  The constructed delineation between what is natural and what is not allows for the madness that a boxed, sugar coated, puffed cereal grain can be marketed as “natural”.  This word means nothing, is what I’m trying unsuccessfully to point out.  Next time you’re walking through the grocery store, just notice what is marketed as natural food.  It’s not the meat and produce and grass-fed butter.  It’s the chips, energy bars, whey powders….in short, it’s just a marketing tool to steer you away from the things that are authentic to your species and to spending more money on a myth.

organic: Ugh, something is organic because it is a carbon-based life form.  Do I need to say more?  Everything you eat is organic.  Every fruit, leaf, slice of steak…a carbon-based life form.  They get you because by saying something is organic, the theory is that its not been sprayed or treated with anything inorganic (not a carbon-based life form).  Which is of course WONDERFUL!  LIfe forms eat other life forms in general until you work your way down the web and something is just absorbing sunlight.  (Thank you chlorophyll!  We love you!)  The problem is this.  A cow eating organic (unsprayed, untreated) grain and not receiving hormones or antibiotics is of greater quality than one that isn’t treated this way is still not getting to be a cow.  What I mean is this.  Cows eat grass.  They want to eat grass.  When they get to eat grass and be out in the sunlight and walk around, they get to be cows.  (This also goes for plants.  Plants do well when they grow with other kinds of plants and not so well when they are mono-cropped, so you vegetarians aren’t in the clear.)  Organic is certainly a higher rung on the ladder but organic in its common usage still doesn’t mean that the animal or plant gets to be itself.

chemical: Everything is chemical.  When you see something advertise itself as chemical free what does that even mean?  It would be a box or bottle of nothing if it were true.  What they mean to say, I’m assuming, is no added chemicals.  You are a chemical being.  So, chemical free doesn’t mean anything at all.  You need to read and find out what chemicals are authentic to us and can be absorbed or come into contact with no harm and what can’t.

spiritual: Here it comes.  Spiritual means something sanctioned by a religion or church.  Yeah, surprising, right?  Contrary to what you’ve been spoon-fed since birth, you do not need a spiritual component to your life in order to be healthy.  What a lot of people call their spiritual practice is just otherwise known as being authentically human.  What I mean by that is that:

We need to go outside.

We need to eat things that are authentic to us and that get to live lives that are authentic to them.

We need quiet time to not think about much of anything.

We need time with others.  We are a primarily social species.

We need to play.

We need to learn new things.

We need to move.

We need to express ourselves and be heard.

We need to sleep in safety.

These are some of our needs.  The different ways that we meet those needs that our culture sanctifies and codifies become what we call “spirituality”.  But, you don’t have to.  It’s…funny?…to me that we are taught to be so afraid of the body’s needs that we can only allow ourselves to meet them by labeling them spiritual.  It’s not.  It’s physical and authentic and not at all mystical.

purity:  On the heels of that last rant.  Purity and “pure” make my bile rise and burns the back of my throat.  Pure water has no nutrition.  Pure oxygen will kill you.  Pure environments will starve your immune system.  Purity of the body is an impossible, deluded fantasy that can easily become an obsession so dangerous that it will kill you.  Purity of the blood is at the heart of every genocide.  This word also means nothing…well, nothing good.  It always gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Purity of thought leads to stasis and lack of creativity.  Pure also means that something else is dirty.  This is also dangerous.  Pure emotions are compassion and happiness and joy.  Dirty is anger and fear?  Except of course, anger is a really good way to know that something has violated you and fear will keep you alive.

These are a couple of things that keep me up at night.  And, because language is important.

Reader Question: Rejection?

Standard

Kristeen writes: Can you talk about how to handle rejection?

Disclaimer: I’m not a psychologist.  What follows are my opinions based on my own experience.  What you do with this information is your responsibility.  

My mother didn’t love me.  Not in a horrid, dramatic throw me down the outhouse hole at birth sort of way, but in a steady, corrosive, no idea what to do with me sort of way.  I learned about rejection very early on.  I became quite intimate with its jagged edge.

The first 39 years of life has been all about striving to figure out why.  What was wrong with me that she had to reject me?  How was I so different from her?  How was I so the same that she couldn’t bear it?  What was it?  I plumbed the depths.  

In so many ways, that rejection formed who I am today.  

I was able to set it down as I am preparing to enter my 40th year.  It had jack-all to do with me.  Rejection is a lot of things: it’s perception, it’s real, it’s mostly about the one who’s doing the rejecting, it’s a gift.

I know what doesn’t work when trying to deal with rejection.  They are as follows:

1. Try to nail down the exact reason you’ve been rejected.  You’re not going to be able to and the amount of energy this consumes will never be returned by the answer.  You may never know.  It may be as simple as that the person had a really bad experience with someone wearing a yellow sweater when they were a kid and you are wearing a yellow sweater.  It may be as complex as you remind them of someone who rejected them once.

2. Believe that this one rejection will destroy you.  It won’t.  It is just another event that you will use to shape your life and your self-perception.  More times than not, it has nothing to do with anything that is in your control.  All it is is information about that person. 

3.  Act like it doesn’t hurt.  It really, really does sometimes.  Be authentic.  Be with the hurt of it.  The rejections that hurt the most probably raise up the self-rejections you already believe.  Meaning, when someone tells you that you really suck at ice hockey and it hurts, maybe you already believe that you suck at ice hockey and just didn’t want it to be so obvious.  When it really hurts, that’s excellent information.  It can uncover what is really important to you.  Maybe being really good at ice hockey is really important to you.

4.  Make someone’s rejection of you their problem.  it’s not.  The person may have no clue that what they did was perceived as rejection by you.  Depending on the intimacy of the relationship, this may never even need to be broached with the person who had rejected you.  If it is a relationship of intimacy, let the person know that you feel rejected.  Let them know specifically what your experience of rejection was with them.  Then, do some detective work and figure out what rejection earlier in your life triggered this reaction.  Let them know what that was, depending on the intimacy of the relationship, so that it’s clear to both people that something older is happening there.

5. Insist that rejection with commonality has nothing to do with you.  I think of this in more of a professional way, but it can be applied to personal relationships, as well.  If you keep going for a certain type of job and keep being denied, it’s time to recuperate.  Maybe it’s not the right domain for you.  Maybe your resume needs work.  Maybe it’s because you’re projecting that it’s not what you really want.  

This is what does work with rejection:

1. View it as a gift.  Something is being told to you.  If you see rejection everywhere, do some thinking.  Why is that?  What part of you believes that you deserve it?  If rejection comes from the same person over and over, take the hint.  There are other people on the planet.  Lots of them.  If rejection is professional, rejoice!  Another avenue is waiting for you.

I hope this helps!

 

 

 

Let’s talk about stress. Again.

Standard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple weeks ago, I offered up an idea that maybe a lot of the problem with stress is our perception of it.  We live in a both/and universe which means that two (seemingly) contradictory ideas can coexist.  What that means is that although your perception of what is stressing you out goes a very long way it the way it affects you, stress and the hormones that cascade through you are very real, and very physical.

 

Here are some things to think about:

 

1. Stress requires a response.  That’s pretty inherent in the way we’ve defined it.  Stress is anything that requires/promotes/stimulates a response from the body.  

 

2. Get rid of the unnecessary conversations.  This both metaphorical and literal.  There are so many things that we do that we think we have to, but that we really don’t.  You don’t have to work so hard to afford a bigger house.  You don’t have to exercise 7 days a week. You don’t have to have people in your life that bring you down.  You don’t have to be on Facebook. (BLASPHEMY!) You don’t have to always be reachable.  

 

3. It’s physical.  Even “mental”stress is physical stress.  You body releases the same hormones thinking about something stressful as when you’re experiencing something stressful.  

 

4. Be physical.  Move the locus of control from your “mind” to your body.  That fatigue you power through?  The holidays that you buy your way through even though you can’t afford it and most of the stuff you buy people don’t want?  (Put down that CVS stuffed animal with the stupid plastic flower it’s holding.  Nobody REALLY wants it.)  Get a massage instead or go for a walk.  Sleep.  Listen to what your body is telling you it needs.  Stop trying to convince it that it’s wrong.  

 

5. Respond.  If you have eliminated all the unnecessary, respond with authority to the necessary.  Take back your power.  Find a solution.  Run away fast if it’s dangerous.  Do.

 

6.  Nourish yourself, nourish yourself, nourish yourself.  When we are responding to stressors, our bodies will deplete of certain essential vitamins and minerals.  Keep yourself well fed, well rested, etc.

 

 

7.  Find other ways than food to nourish yourself.  On that last note, when you are in a chronically stressed state, don’t eat so much.  The digestive system pretty much shuts down when we are acutely stressed.  Forcing food down is a bad idea.  Food is there to feed you, not take care of your feelings.  It is okay to skip breakfast.  It is okay to have just some bone broth for dinner.  It’s okay to skip a meal or two.  This is natural.  This is also much easier to do when you are really feeding yourself with nutrient density the rest of the time.  A well nourished body is one that can handle stress far better than a malnourished one.

 

8.  Play.  You can do this physically by going outside and climbing a tree or making mud pies or snow forts.  You can also do this with attitude.  The vast majority of the things that stress us out now are not a life and death situation like they were for our ancestors.  We still behave as it they are.  Release the clench you have on the stressors defining you.  It will not KILL you to be 10 minutes late.  It may kill you when you chronically freak out about traffic, weakening your heart and immune system.  It may kill you when you speed to make up for it.  

 

9.  Give it 30 seconds.  Jump up and down, shake your hands furiously, move.  But, not for long, when you are acutely stressed.  Your body is expecting that.  The chemicals that flood your blood stream are not meant to be there for long.  You evolved from the survivors.  And the survivors ran.  They ran hard.  Or they fought.  They fought hard.  But, they did neither for long.  Just enough to get to safety.  

10.  Your body is not wrong.  We have designed a lifestyle that didn’t really consult the body.  We erroneously allow the lifestyle to take precedence.  Then, we get angry when the body can’t keep up.  The body is not wrong.  It’s more than possible that the lifestyle is.  You have the power to recreate a lifestyle that honors the body.  This is how to have freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about stress, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. (Part One)

Standard

Let’s talk about all the good things and that bad things it may be.  Let’s talk about stress.

Thank you Salt n’ Peppah.

How tired are you of thinking about stress?  Hearing about it?  Managing it?  Eliminating it?  Yada yada, blah blah.

One of the most difficult aspects of our modern, technologically driven life is that we tend to believe that everything functions the way our devices do.  Binary code.  Something is either one thing or it’s the other.  

So, the story you’ve probably heard is that stress bad.  No stress good.

The truth of the universe in which we are gloriously enmeshed is that it is a both/and place.  Stress is both good and bad.  

It’s been years since massage school.  More than a decade in human years and I haven’t thought about the actual Hans Selye created word of “eustress” since then.  But, the concept has been on my mind quite a bit.  When I created Nourishing Freedom’s basic aspects of health, I deliberately designated one of them to the “appropriate level of stress” for the individual.  

“Eu-” is the prefix used in Science to designate “true or good”.  Your cells are eukaryotic because they have a nucleus.  So, they’re “true” cells.  Sorry, prokaryotes.  You’re such posers.  (JK!  You’re awesome and my mitochondria remembers when we used to chill together in the primordial soup!)  With that little tangent, “eustress” is the good stress that we experience.  

Whoa. Good stress?  Of course.  When you get back to the actual understanding that stress is pretty much anything that requires a response from the body, you see that you are constantly experiencing stressors.  A drop in temperature is a stressor, having to get out of bed in the morning is a stressor, exercise is a stressor (yeah, I said it!), someone saying your name in a crowd is a stressor, ad infinitum.  “Stress” is the conversation, constant and uninterrupted, that you are having with your environment.

For clarity, I hope that you understand that EVERYTHING is your environment.  We have tossed the word around so much that with environment we tend to think of trees and dying rivers and little animals that our grandchildren won’t know.  Your environment, though, is everything from the shampoo that you use (or don’t…go no ‘poo, go no ‘poo, GO!) to the paint colors that you choose to cover your walls in to that unfortunate bag of Doritos that  you scarfed last night at midnight after one too many Big Bang Theory downloads on YouTube.  It’s the humming of your refrigerator and the howling of the wind through the pine trees.  It is the uncertainty of a moon-less night and the amount of sunlight you bathe in during the day.  It’s the feeling of the wool sweater on your skin to the loud neighbors that just can’t seem to get along.  Your environment is the people you touch or walk past during your day and the animals that share the park with you on your lunch break.  It is the pace at which you run or the sway with which you dance.  All of these things are your environment and the dialogue between you and it is so intimate that it really should be called by its 19th century name for talking intently: intercourse.

That conversation, for our purposes, is what stress actually is.  If the environment is the call, we are the response.  Since we have the capacity (as does every other living thing) to impact its environment) we are the call and the environment is the response.  And that communion is stress.  

How do you feel about stress now?

Hopefully a little differently.  It doesn’t seem to be quite so….nefarious, does it?

Good.  Because you know what the MAJOR difference between stress (the bad stuff) and eustress (the good stuff)?  Our perception.  That’s it.  

I will grant you this.  The amount of stressors and demands for response that we often have in an average day are inhuman and inhumane.  Our bodies DO struggle to keep up with the constancy of the permeating barrage.  It does overwhelm.  Or, we allow it to. 

There is a lovely path to walk with stress when we take a playful approach to it.  It’s invigorating to find the right thread of conversation with our environment.  As any conversation, it does take two, but all it takes is one person to alter the tone of the conversation, or the topic, and the conversation is now different.  You CAN have a screaming match with your environment.  Of course, you can.  You have that authority.  You also accept the responsibility of the fallout of that.  Some of them might be chronic exhaustion, horrible digestive pain and issues, hair loss, migraines, body pain.  You are also able to speak tenderly with your environment, find mutually beneficial solutions to things.  So, this street is particularly congested at 5:30 so I can take the back road.  Or I really enjoy the buzz I get from working hard on a project or a couple weeks and the decadence that comes with doing nothing for a whole week.  

You may find that some amazing solutions can be found when you stop arguing with your environment.  When you stop and listen, you may hear some things you didn’t even know.  

 

 

the mythology of the happy new you

Standard

Happy New Year everyone!

I have been gone from the blog for a long time.  Of course, after every vacation, I feel that I need a vacation.

During my time away from here, a lot of things have changed.  I took the decision to emphasize speaking as part of my service offerings this year, I found an apartment in a new town, I will be saying goodbye to the sweetest little cabin in the woods ever that my son and I made livable, I ate a lot of cheese, and I realized how very, very much I hate being sick.  I’ve had a cold that just won’t go away but the lack of sleep and the holiday festivities don’t help with that (nor did all that cheese!).

Last night, after downing a healthy dose of magnesium and sleepy herb tea, I had a great night’s sleep.  I woke up this morning knowing what I wanted to talk to you about: the happy new you crap that springs up around this time every year.

I have nothing against changes and the daily habitual movement towards more vibrant health, more rational and expansive thought, ever more profound respect of the bodies that we each are.  In fact, I’ve pretty much devoted my life to this.  HOWEVER, it is the underlying message of the new year/new you mantra that rubs me the very wrong way.

Reading between the lines of this is a very calculated way of getting you to feel a lot of discontent.  Resolve this year, finally, to just not be you anymore.  Because, “you” is not enough.  “You” is not good.  “You” is not flashy, sexy, skinny, stylish, productive, fit, valid enough.  “You” is quite simple, flawed.  Throw it out.  Get a new “You”.

Oh, trust me, I get the allure.  I had the flashing insight a couple years ago that my greatest addiction is “starting over”.  It’s very much part of the diet mentality.  Monday morning I will just START OVER.  By, Friday I was binging on everything in sight because Monday-Thursday I had set up impossible standards.  But, that golden promise of Monday morning, the shiny perfection that would be my life started then.  Amplify that expectation by a gajillion and you have the Happy New Year/Happy New You myth.

This will be the year that you have the whitest teeth, the sharpest collar bones, the perkiest butt, the best job, the cleanest house, the most romantic relationship and the most fulfilling friendships.  (My resolution was to always have the flattest stomach!  My body shape simply will never allow for that.  I have a broad ribcage and a high waist…literally will never have the flattest stomach!)  I just feel exhausted thinking about all that pressure we’ve just put on ourselves.

1.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  Nothing.  

2. Is having collar bones sharp enough to give paper cuts in the office really one of your cherished values?  Is it possible that it’s important to you because you have been brainwashed by the diet/fashion industry to even want them?

3. How do you really want to spend your time this year?  Depriving yourself of pleasure so you can feel that you are meeting a group of strangers sitting in a board room’s expectations or nourishing yourself into greater and greater freedom?

The difference between the new you myth and the nourishing freedom way of life is that in my way of thinking, you already are the source of your greatest wisdom.  Yep, that old, shabby you that’s knocking around your un-flashy life is the greatest treasure that you have.  Nor did you have to spend a dime for it.  The body that you may find less than: not thin enough, not strong enough, not…enough, has more to teach you than any upper level college course, more than pursuing your doctorate.  It KNOWS.

The secret to empowered change is to honor your body.  Listen to it.  Respect it.  Give it want it needs and what it wants.

It may take some time to accomplish this.  We live in a world that trains us to be deaf to ourselves.  It actively has a vested interest in insuring that you are completely cut off from everything that you really know in your bones to be true and replaces it all with mirages.  My job as a coach is to act as a facilitator, as a guide on the incredibly fascinating and enriching path back to yourself.  Yes, you will most likely change your appearance, you will most likely change how your clothes fit.  You will most definitely change how you feel.  You will change your health.  You will change the way you process things.  Most profoundly, you will change your perspective and all the external noise will no longer apply to you.  You will find an inexhaustible font of joy.  You will find the true source of wealth.  And, it’s right there, in the oldest you.

So…Happy Ancient You!

Like us on facebook.  And leave comments.  I really love to hear from you!

Wisdom and Rebellion

Video

“Life in all its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed.”

                  -Weston A. Price

I’m not big on obedience.  I never have been.  The worst reason to do something is always because someone in authority tells me I have to.  It always makes me bristle.  Suffice it to say that I wasn’t an easy kid.

The society I grew up in in the Caribbean, like nearly all other societies, had some clear guidelines that everyone adhered to in an effort to assure their place in it.  Girls wore their hair long, took ballet classes, wore just the right “feminine” things, spoke quietly, dieted, and did their nails at the salon once a week.

The year that I was twelve, I discovered Billy Idol.  I’m still unclear how, but his poster was suddenly on my wall, my hair was shortened, spiked and bleached and there were deep grooves in the vinyl.  I learned to lift my fist in the air and snarl into the mirror.  I never investigated the lyrics to Rebel Yell and still haven’t in case google shatters the story that I’ve created in my own head about it.  All I knew was that things were far more significant somehow if done with a rebel yell. (More, more, more…..rebellion?  My adult brain has easily captured that there may be something else that she’s crying out for, but I will not cave to facts!)

Wisdom is knowing when to follow the rules.  If I want to cross the border into Canada with my dog, then I have to prove that his rabies vaccine is up to date.  (This example only seems random.)  If I want to be healthy, happy, beautiful, and free, I have to do whatever nature says.  That is a lovely paradox.  To be free is to follow nature’s guidelines.

It is the only accurate measuring stick against we can evaluate and assess anything.  It is the only true one that we’ve ever had, ever.

It’s not always easy to be obedient to nature.  I mean, really, have you had german chocolate cake?  (One summer, at my aunt’s house, we had a five gallon drum of german chocolate cake ice cream in the basement freezer.  My uncle shut that freezer with a padlock and kept the key with him at all times.  He doled out a scoop per person per day to ensure that it would last the whole summer.)

As in all the most delightful things, there is a paradox to which I can still raise a black leather and silver studded fist in the air.  Obedience to nature is the ultimate yell of rebellion towards society.  I really love that.  (Picture me snarling as I say that.)