Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Resistance, Relinquishment, and Acceptance

Buddhists have a term -- dukkha -- that often gets translated as "suffering." But the term dukkha is much more complex than just the sensation of suffering:  Dukkha is the dissonance between what is (the present moment) and that which was (the past) and/or that which we want (the next moment).  Quite often the dukkha comes from the desire to control what happens in the next moment -- controlling a situation, an outcome, and even our own self.  Buddhists hope to end or mitigate dukkha by focusing on what is true and real in the present moment.

Show me one person trying to lose weight/gain health that hasn't experience dukkha. 

I've yet to find someone looking to lose weight/gain health that isn't suffering.  I see it in their eyes and I hear it in their words.  They suffer the past unhappiness and trauma that lead them to gaining the weight.  They suffer the present moment of having to carry the physical and emotional weight.  They suffer the anxiety and fear of having to live the rest of their life on a diet or in a gym.

Past:  So many people who are looking to lose weight are held back by their feelings about the past (disclaimer:  in the case of trauma, any investigation into the past should be done in a safe and moderated environment such as a psychologist's office so as to not cause further trauma).   In my opinion, it is next to impossible to change your life until you address the past and untangle yourself from its influence.  It's not about denying that your past happened, it's about saying that you're no longer going to let it dictate your present and future. Understanding one's past is much different than being held hostage by it.

Present:  The present is the only part in your timeline where you have any control, any say, any choice. In order to truly be in the present moment, you need to forgive yourself for any missteps that you may have made in the past and then let it metamorphose into the love you have for yourself today. Believe it or not, this is the way to enjoy the weight loss/health gain process.  Transformation cannot come from a place of shame, deprivation, anger, fear, or outside influence. It comes with having your mind and heart connected to your body in this very moment. You will have good days and bad, and moments that are hard, but you will find the strength to endure because this is a process of love.  Be a part of the the process; not apart from it.

Future:  The future is anything that has not already occurred and is not happening at the present moment. It's a place of endless possibilities.  When we try to control situations, outcomes, people, we restrict those possibilities of what could be.  Who knows, maybe the universe has something better for us than we could have ever imagined with our limited point of view.  The magic happens here.  When we learn to let go of our anxiety and fear in the present, we open a door to the future.  It's the ultimate act of relinquishment -- to give in to the process and say "let this path take me on a journey" versus "I know where I am going."

Now... just because I understand these concepts doesn't mean I'm a good practitioner of these things all the time.  I know that I hold on to the past; a past defined in loss. I find myself so focused on trying to get through things in the future that I have blinders to the present moment.  I forget that I can make healthy choices even while I feel inundated.  And I'm so very bad at trusting a future based on present actions.

BUT, I'm able to practice awareness of these things. I can catch myself in moments where I'm stuck in the past, or where I'm trying to architect a future. I feel the dissonance in my body when I'm trying too hard to control things that are not within my purview to control.

Shotover River, South Island, NZ
Sometimes I just close my eyes and imagine myself in a stream, and instead of trying to swim upstream, I just accept the flow, relinquish control, stop resisting, and enjoy being a part of the flow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

You can't spell team without BACON.

So, I play this game called Ingress (it's a geocaching game, an always-
changing worldwide game of capture the flags where there are many flags).  I belong to the Resistance (we are nicknamed Smurfs, and we believe that our minds should be free from alien influence (okay, some weird backstory stuff...)). It has enabled me to meet people from all across the U.S. as well as across the world (*waves to her new friends*).

A very wide range of people play (all different ages and fitness levels), and the game is flexible to allow for all sorts of gameplay. We have people who play 10 minutes a day, we have people who play for much longer. People play on foot and by bike (and sometimes by car, but I think that is silly).  And it's a great way to learn about your local area cause there are portals EVERYWHERE (even in Ukiah, CA, Chris!).
Richmond Resistance
Quite often we get together and do these things called anomalies (large scale cross-faction events with rapid, real-time gameplay). My first anomaly was in Asheville, NC on June 7 (Resistance won!).  After that it was Gettysburg on June 21 (Resistance won the city, the day (multiple cities across the globe) and the whole Interitus series!), Richmond on August 9 (Resistance lost the city), and most recently Baltimore on August 23 (Resistance won Helios 6!).  

In Baltimore, I took my first turn as a team lead -- and my team did AWESOMELY.  Super proud of all of them.  There's no I in team, but "team" is an anagram for meat.  And well, bacon is awesome.  And just like bacon, my team was awesome.  Not only did we play well, but we had a lot of fun doing it.  My team was silly, supportive, and I'd work with them again any time.

Okay, so why am I talking about Ingress in my fitness/weightloss blog?  Well... I started playing Ingress in December 2013.  It helped get me out of the house during some of the worst weather DC had to offer (ahem, ice storms!?).  But most importantly it helped stave off a large part of my depression/isolationism after injuring my lower back in February and again in May (one of my Ingress buddies visited me in the hospital). It kept me moving.  There were days I could only walk around my block, and there were days I spent 3 hours walking.  When I was most depressed about not being able to run or go to the gym, I knew I could at least walk.

There's also a very strong social aspect to the game.  More than just anomalies, we often get together to work on various operations/initiatives.  For instance, brunch.  In DC we love our brunch.  We'll often plan Ingress activities around brunching. We will go to different neighborhoods for "unique hacks" (i.e., going places we've never been before) and often unique restaurants.

Anyways... I just wanted to introduce you (my health gain/weight loss family) to my other family (my Ingress team).  I'm not sure I've really ever introduced you all before, so play nice! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

(Centered) Self (Centered)

It's been almost a month, I know.  A little birdie reminded me that I'm due for a blog post and that I tend to go radio silent when stressed or overwhelmed or inundated.

I could rehash everything that's been going on and that's ongoing but I'm exasperated with it all.  The endorphin levels of a constant fight-or-flight means I don't get to spend that time and energy taking care of myself, looking forward to new adventures, or even focusing on what I want versus what must be taken care of.

In other words, sometimes when you're underwater all you think about is keeping your head above water and not what it's like on the shore.  I'm getting to the point where I can stop struggling (a large part of that has to do with being in my new apartment), but I'm not quite to the shore.

What's ahead of me?  
September 27, 2014.

The 20-year anniversary of my mom dying. 

I read the book "Letters from Motherless Daughters" women wrote in to say that the pain of losing your mother stays with you, but changes over time and as you grow as a person.  I've found that to be quite true.  I don't feel the sting of it as much anymore, but I feel the pang of it.  

Lately I've been thinking about all those big landmarks in my life that I've yet to experience (love, marriage, kids, etc.) and I can't help but wonder that I'm not running straight at those things because I won'get get to call her up and giggle my way through telling her the details. 

And well... I want this for myself.  

my nephew, AV

What's on my shore?  Love.  Family.  Silliness.  Belonging.
And someone I love kissing me goodnight, saying "Let's do this again tomorrow." 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Put Your Big Kid Underwear On

I find it kinda funny to be known for my strength/resilience because at times I'm a real wimp.

Okay... let me rephrase...

I eventually get around to being strong and resilient, but I either whine a bunch or have to psych myself up to doing it.

For instance, I'm afraid of needles.  They say that most people who are afraid of needles aren't actually afraid of the pain/gross factor, but that they had a bad experience in the past.  Well, that'd be true in my case:  When was young, I had an ingrown toenail that needed to be dealt with.  The doctor injected Novocaine through a very thick callous on my toe and the medication didn't work.  My phobia is so bad that I get dental fillings without Novocaine.

scared primate face
Getting my epidurals (2 for my back, 1 for my neck) were a HUGE deal for me.  My needlephobia manifested in vasovagal responses (I started to faint) each time. During the epidural procedure for my neck, the doctor actually wanted to halt and reschedule the procedure. I very clearly remember telling him something like "I didn't put on my big girl panties for nothing.  We're doing this."

So... back in February, I fell in the shower (I think it was more that I pinched a nerve and lost feeling in my legs).  In May, I went to the ER because I was in excruciating pain (again, while in the shower... I need a bathtub...) and the attending doc at the ER was a dillhole to me.  When I met up with my orthopedic doctor I left with a prescription for a discogram.  Sadly, this is not like a candygram:  It is not a message you send someone you love wherein an actor shows up your door in 70s garb, dances The Hustle, and hands you a bouquet of flowers.

I've procrastinated in making the appointment. Part of the problem was finding someone that does them, the rest of the problem was that I looked up discograms on the internets.  You guessed it -- MORE NEEDLES! But, I bit the bullet and called the neurosurgeon's office today.  It needs to be done.

I've grown too comfortable with saying that I can't do much because I'm injured.

So I'm gonna take a page from Roni and Carla and get my #wycwyc on.  A large part of my What-You-Can/When-You-Can has been walking with Ingress (a real-time, worldwide game of capture the flag -- Join the Resistance! I'm @YoursBluely -- and have walked 1025km since December!).  But there's more that I can do.  I need to get my diet back on point (okay, how many times have I said that?).  I need to use my pool (okay, it's not big, but I can walk laps in it).  I need to do my yearly physicals.

I need to put my big girl underroos on every day.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The sun will still rise.

You don't have to be perfect
You don't have to play well
You don't have to fix everything
All by yourself 

There are some days when I really struggle against myself -- against my injury (who am I if I'm not running, boxing, playing sports?), against my life (stress!), against my identity (am I a loser of weight? or the person that is constantly injured?).  I worry about what I need to be for all my friends/family.  I worry about what I need to be for all of my readers.  

I worry about what I need to be for myself.

This song may be a love song to another person, but sometimes I listen to it just to soften my own judgments against myself. 

There's no doubt that you are mine, babe,
There's no doubt that you are mine


Here, repeat after me, it goes
I won't stop loving
I won't stop loving 

 Now don't laugh 'cause I just might be
The soft curve in your hardline
There's no doubt that you are mine, babe,
There's no doubt that you are mine 

In the end, I realize that sometimes it's enough to just BE and BE KNOWN AS the person that is constantly FIGHTING FOR HERSELF, that is NEVER AFRAID TO TRY, and that FIERCELY LOVES HERSELF.  It helps me from constantly apologizing for what I am not.

I am my body.  I am my life.  I am my struggle.  I am my every moment.