I’m in the process of changing my story in a world of chaos that longs for new perspectives – new pathways to write our future. I believe these kinds of change need to begin at the personal level and that we need to trust that the change will ripple out.
As you know, I consider story to be the most vital (and available) tool for re-creating our world into a more loving, sustainable and easy reality. I’ve danced around it, because well it feels so darn personal, but it’s time for me to take the leap, dive in, and openly share my story. It’s clear to me that it is part of my promise to myself – no more hiding.
(excerpt from an earlier post)
I am a large woman. I started putting on weight in grad school, then stayed steady and at menopause gained more weight. The reality is that I’ve been a large woman only half of my life, but I’ve been called fat since before I was a small child. My mother has lots of body image issues and also seems to find her sense of acceptance and being loved in feeding people. As a result, what I felt and saw in the mirror never matched what my family and the world seemed to be telling me. When it came to physicality, I didn’t know what to trust.
I need to say that my size has not been a stumbling block in my life. I was often told I was pretty; I’ve always known that I’m smart, witty and creative. I’ve had a good life. I’ve been happy. But I have not been truly connected to my body – my physicality has always been less significant to me.
In the last few years, I’ve experienced inflammation, significant joint pain, teeth issues and low energy. The truth is, I have limited mobility and that scares me.
I’ve been playing a shame and blame game around my body for the last couple years and in my anxiety as I searched for the right foods and answers to my body’s issues – I’ve gotten worse. Then Spider Woman came to me in a journey and taught me a few things about being an empath. Because we’re so sensitive to those around us, empaths often lose track of themselves, of who they are. As a result, we’re often on a lifetime quest to find home.
After chatting, Spider Woman challenged me to find the guideposts upon which to build the web of my life. These guideposts are constant – even when we shed old webs and stop onto new ones. She suggested that my anxiety about not knowing home was directly linked to not identifying my guideposts – and to my physical health. When you find your guideposts, you will immediately know how to trust them. Your work between the worlds is beautiful, she told me, but you must learn to return to and honor your physical structure.
My first guidepost: I am a sensual nature being. I know the absolute truth of this, immediately. But where is this guidepost? It feels like it’s in an overgrown and neglected garden. Like in the Secret Garden movie, it seems walled off, full of dead things and locked. But I know it has wick; it is alive.
My quest then is to unlock the garden of my first guidepost and tend to it. I commit to this and to sharing the journey as part of my sacred story. It feels raw and vulnerable to make this commitment. Voices in my head are asking all sorts of questions – like, what if they think you’re ridiculous or crazy, …
But another voice is telling me that this part of storytelling is not about the listeners; it’s about the person living the story and watching it unravel. And another voice is smiling and simply asking me if I’m going to walk my talk. Yes, I choose to risk sharing my story so that you may know my heart.
This photo is from when I participated in Mellissae Lucia’s Painted Body Initiation. I realize now that the experience was a ritual engagement with this guidepost – but I didn’t understand its significance. The link will take you to a post about that experience. Can you sense the guidepost in the experience?
I wrote that back in October. I’ve been making small shifts that are feeling very significant. They really seem to be about my relationships – to myself, my work, … I keep coming up on this one particular theme/lesson; I need to stop looking for what might harm me.
It’s so easy in our world to lose our sense of hope and connection, our sense of personal power. Our culture focuses around war, competition, and antagonistic relationships at every level. Even heart-centered campaigns to promote goodness in our world are often offered as a “Fight Against (fill in the blank)”. Our language is full of warlike words.
My relationship with my body, and specifically my diet, as been a campaign to stop bad habits, avoid the poisonous additives, get rid of inflammation, fight off free radicals,… Is it any wonder that I’ve been struggling? All of these put me in opposition.
In December, I gave up. It was actually a surrender, an acknowledgment that I couldn’t keep up the fight. Since then, I’ve been hearing voices that tell me to rest, to enjoy, to savor. I paid no attention to what foods were good or bad. In fact, I refused to judge them. I ate what I wanted, but in a pretty conscious way. I gained no weight, my pain and inflammation actually calmed and I found an ease that I can’t ever remember having in my relationship with my body. This act of surrender was enough to get me out of my rut.
Two weeks ago, I felt ready to shift things – not because I should; or because if I didn’t I might die or get some horrible disease; or because I needed to look or act in some expected ways. I felt ready to shift because I want to walk the hills in the springtime and I want to dance and play out in nature without worrying about losing my balance. These desires emerged somewhere deep in my being and I chose to join with those desires – to resurrect and reconnect with my sensual nature being.
I re-read a book that I’d found a year ago about the Abascal diet. I’m on the first stage of resetting my body’s baseline needs (my words, they call it the elimination diet, but I am choosing a different frame of reference). I’m doing beautifully and noticing all kinds of little shifts. I was really tired the first few days, but didn’t judge it. I just noticed and let myself sleep. I’m using this stage to rediscover my body and it’s needs. I’m using it to help my body learn to trust me so that we become integrated rather than separate. It’s not optimal to experience my body as something separate, so I’m talking to each part and we’re becoming team mates. I am not separate from nature or from myself.
Today, I got really excited when reading about the intestinal flora. The book talks about how different foods support different bacteria. Their perspective is to feed the friendlies (those bacteria that really help us be more vital). Again, I felt this sense of joining hands for a common purpose. “I have to eat more vegetables.” has shifted to “OK, friendlies, I’m sending you what you need to be vital and I graciously wait for the goodies you will send me to help me be vital.” I am becoming the “hostess with the mostest” – providing well for my guests and reaping the rewards of their generosity in return.
I am carrying such a different story about my physicality. I’m finding the wick in my secret garden and tending tenderly to new shoots as I gratefully clear away and compost what has died.
I am enjoying this process of rediscovery and having fun learning to become more and more in harmony with myself and the world around me. I’ll tell you more about conversations with my body in the next post.
Thank you for witnessing my story. ~ Coleen