Saturday, November 28, 2009

Setting myself up for success...

I bought 14 lbs. of organic bartlett pears today at a cost of $30. Actually I purchased $175 worth of groceries, but the pears were the purchase that triggered an odd mixture of anxiety, frustration, happiness, pride and determination. You see, I want to eat the foods that are optimum fuel for my body (and my baby's). I am tired of waking up every morning with foul-tasting dry mouth, aching hands and feet, and the other myriad of symptoms I suffer from my cooked dinner.

But the problem is bigger than reaching for a plate of rice rather than a delicious smoothie at 6 p.m. The problem starts much earlier. I can only choose from what is available to me. Currently, I simply do not ever have enough ripe good quality fruit available in my home to choose to eat healthfully for a entire day.

Which brings us to the anxiety about buying $30 worth of pears. The thing is, we spend an insane amount of money on food in relation to what we earn. We have financial difficulties, and not just related to our food budget, and relationship difficulties about how to handle our financial difficulties. So you can see why $30 worth of fruit might be a landmine. It was all I could do not to be whisked away in the aisle at the store--spinning into guilt about past choices and into worrying about the future and how I could fix it.

In an attempt to derail the wave of anxiety overtaking me, I suddenly found myself in the midst of frustration instead. My choices are so limited and often low quality for a high price. The organic apples are double in price but bruised. The citrus, both organic and nonorganic, is unripe and sour. The bananas all are shipped and gassed on the same day, every other week, leading to a feast-or-famine cycle. The fantastic grapes I had last week are all gone. I am excited for my dates to arrive, but downhearted at the thought of an entire $30 going to ship them. So much of my money is tied up in things I wouldn't even need if I lived in a climate suited to humans--snow boots and coats for the kids, hundreds of dollars a month on heating, salt and snow removal. Suddenly, it occurs to me that I am whining... a lot!

I begin to feel grateful. Here are these gorgeous pears, my favorite variety, on sale. Instead of buying just a few, I load up on them, taking almost all they had. I am lucky to have a lovely family and a nice warm shelter from the winter weather. And I have $175 (nope, no credit card debt!) to spend on groceries. All of my financial worries aside, I have the money to keep the heat on and my stomach full and boots on my kids feet. And honestly, if I hadn't bought the pears, I would have spent the same amount on junk food or condiments.

Suddenly, I was feeling proud and optimistic. I was consciously choosing to purchase a quantity of quality fruit ahead of time, so I wouldn't find myself stuck with nothing to eat but cooked food. I was staying present with what positive options my life has available at this point. I cannot be in Costa Rica right now, but I can buy pears instead of tater tots. One step at a time. One more frown turned upside down. LOL!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Connie, a fan letter

I have just finished catching up on the last year in the life of Connie, author of several awesome blogs including Naked Food Cafe, and founder and leader of the forum of the same name.

I have been a fan of Connie since way back, when she had blogs that may not even exist in cyberspace anymore... I remember the old Naked Food Cafe with high-fat raw recipes. I remember her blog after that with the blue background with psyfi graphics, although the name escapes me. I remember Banana Island and how upbeat and positive it was, with beautiful pictures and yummy recipes. I loved Connie's writing style; her intelligence, wit, curiousity and magical imagination. I never, ever was bored when I read her entries, and I often felt thoughtful, inspired, and uplifted for hours afterwards. And then of course, there was Connie's kindness, her openness and tolerance, and her interest in others. She always took the time to answer comments, and to read and comment on the blogs of others, including mine. When I moved, Connie sent me a simple hand-made housewarming gift, a gesture which I still treasure.

I always wondered, though, if a person could be "real" in a blog. Certainly in my own blog, I felt that there were times when I was only portraying a part of my feelings, or a fragment of my experience. When Connie abruptly posted that she was leaving Banana Island to follow the McDougall Diet in the interest of family harmony, I felt confused. Huh? What did I miss?

Imagine my delight to catch up Connies most recent blog entries and see a whole person revealed. When Connie shared her moments of fear walking in the park after a young girl in her town was killed, or her moments of shame when she found herself in a fast food drive-thru, in spite of her best intentions, her moments of frustration as she wrestled with her compulsion to battle with the number on the scale, and her triumph when she kicked that scale to the curb, suddenly I realized... Connie is showing me the way. It is safe and ok to live my life out loud in front of others.

In the last year, I have been to the abyss. When my husband and I broke up, I believed I didn't have a single friend to turn to... No one to give me a big hug and listen to me pour my heart out for hours. But the truth was, I probably could have reached out to a number of people. I could have blogged and gotten support and encouragement from those far away. I did not, because I was ashamed. I was ashamed to tell the truth about my feelings. I was afraid to appear vulnerable. I was ashamed to be honest about behavior that I regretted. Paradoxically, obeying my fears created the things I was most afraid of... loneliness, despair, loss. The more Connie shares about her struggles and her regrets, the more she seems to grow in confidence and radiance. Opening ourselves to truly experience our fears and sadness also opens ourselves to truly experience joy and true friendship.

So, a shout-out to Connie, for inspiring me yet again. I will now confess that I have a secret fantasy that I will show up on Connie's doorstep this winter to get a hug and a smoothie. Just not a grapefruit one, 'k? LOL! Love you!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm married to a rock star!

My husband is in a band called The Sound Surround. He's the guy on the left, and that's his "little" brother on the right. I'm thrilled that he can have fun and be creative and live one of his long-time fantasies.

I'm baaaack!

I admit it, I've been a chicken... Since my last post a year and a half ago, I have spent most of my time struggling with myself and hiding from everyone.

So many changes, it would take a book-length post to update you all on them. But here's the highlight reel. I tried to force myself and everyone in my family in a journey of radical self-development, some of which was documented on this very blog. I ran smack-dab into my deep emotional wounds and lack of interpersonal skills. Homeschooling crashed and burned. My family life crashed and burned. I broke up with my husband Jason (meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, we had conceived our lovely baby boy Qian, pictured above). Our children moved with Jason to the small town where he teaches and went back to public school. I began working 50 hours a week at two new jobs, and spent the weekends with the children.

We planned to divorce and give the baby up for adoption, but by the third trimester we could not bear to do either, and chose to reunite and welcome our baby to our family. Meanwhile, Jason had a very serious health crisis which left him insulin-dependent and suffering from severe neuropathy. He has only partially recovered. I have moved back with him and am down to one job, about 10 hours per month. I am just enjoying my family immensely. But the struggles and compulsions that I have wrestled with my entire life are still present daily. I want to engage them with curiousity and compassion, rather than an endless cycle of self-violence.

I have been exploring my emotional health in new ways, and am finally ready to rejoin the world. I missed my community here, and hope to reunite with you all.