To Live and Love - A Journey of Surrender Through Joy and Pain

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Does life ever seem to just slow down, for a second, like you are watching life happen in slow motion? For me this happens from time to time and the sound is internal. The noises become like white noise or even quite in my mind and my eyes see different. Today I see people at Whole Foods hustling. They are eating and packing their groceries and texting. Some people are smiling while others look tired and others heavy with grief.

Where are they going? What are they cooking for dinner? What are they thinking about? When is the last time they were held or heard the words “I love you?” How are they feeling with the dynamics of the world lately? Are they hurting with the loss of the fires? Have they lost a good friend or lover recently? Have they found joy in something special?

I think these questions and more. Are these people that are going about life connected or numb? Or perhaps a little of both? Do they know their purpose? Do they even contemplate this question? Are they running on fumes or rested?

The answers to these questions and more are unknown to me yet available to each person.. All I know is what I can see, feel, hear, taste and touch.

Today I sense that life is delicate and bold and beautiful. When these moments happen it is hard for me to fully articulate what this feels like. The closest thing I can compare it to is looking at a meteor shower. Have you ever watched a lot of shooting stars in a dark night? As you are outside the rest of the life simple stops and you can so clearly feel and know that there is something out there that is bigger than you. Something so grand and complex that everything works together. The sun rises and sets. The seasons change. The birds chirp as the sun rises. The list goes on and on. Nature is perfect and somehow this life things works, despite my ability to sometimes comprehend how.

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So today, I sit with headphones in, I pause in this moment. I am in awe of simply being a human. I am in awe of experiencing all of life: the joy, the pain, the sorrow, the worry and the love. All of it. It is intense and amazing and hard all at the same time.

Can you relate? Are you someone that feels intensely or worries? For those of you that know me, I am a worrier and a feeler. I can feel all of the feelings so strong that sometimes it overwhelms me and I cannot breathe deep or understand the depth of life. And in these moments I allow myself to take it in and pause. And then get back to being grounded and find room and moments to breathe and be grateful. The other thing I will honest with is my fear of loss. My worry has been very intense since I was young. I feel like since I have been young, I have been waiting for the call that something bad has happened. In fact, even today, my dad called me and the slightest pause in the “Hello Kitten” made my heart drop. My heart was pounding in my chest and I thought/felt “what is wrong? What happened?” Oh, dear. That isn’t fun or necessary, but sometimes is my reality.

I mean, that doesn’t seem productive or even normal. As I’ve been working with my therapist on this, I have trained my mind to think the chance of something bad to happen to be heavily skewed to a higher percentage of it to happen.

Why I am sharing this with you? Well, for starters, I want to be clear that this thought pattern of being on high alert has not been valuable to my mental or physical health. It can through my rhythm in a moments notice.

However, it is my reality. It is my work in progress. It is the story behind me trying my best in life. It is the story behind my smile and showing up in life. It is my battle of letting go fully and surrendering enough to say, “I am living; I am loving.”

But then again, what does it mean to live? Does it mean going through the motions and hustle? Or does it does it mean to connect? Does it mean to be at ease in the good times and soft and open to healing and hurt in the not so pretty times?

Honestly, I truly am thinking a lot about life. I am clear if one thing, that when I am connected to source, and I take time to pause, and breathe I have a better life. I am kinder to those I love. I am kinder to myself, I have more patience, resilience, joy, and faith. And so I strive to do more of this in the form of gratitude, meditation, and honoring life by taking care of myself.

What I am not so clear on is this whole loss thing. The pain of life is so intense. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of our dear friend Erik who left us on August 7, 2018. Why Erik? Why did a man that had such a positive impact and love have to leave us so soon? Will any of this every make any sense at all? What about his beautiful wife and three kiddos? Why them? And then how do we surrender to bad shit like this happening?

Honestly, I don’t understand nor do I pretend to know if I will ever comprehend. But what I know is that to honor Erik and all those that have passed or are living and experienced grief, I will do my best to honor the life I do have. And I will take it a day at a time. I know it is cheesy and hard all at the same time.

I want to prevent the hurt and pain. For me, for James, for my kids and my mom and dad and sisters and brothers. I want to avoid pain at all costs. I want to never have to get that call again and I want the pain in the world to go away. But what if my job isn’t to do everything I can to avoid that? What if my job, rather, is to surrender to it all. What if my job is to trust that no matter the crappy things that happen, there will also be joy and peace within. To know and own in my journey that there will be light and joy along the way.

Maybe the point is to give so much thanks to our blessings that we spread even more? What if we do even more good? And instead of waste precious moments worrying about would or could happen should there be tragedy, what it we simply surrender to the blessings now? And then know that this is a choice to surrender each and every day. It isn’t something you buy at Target or Amazon, rather, it is a choice that we make each and every day and moments through the day. I think I can even get on board with that (and am trying, I promise).

And it also isn’t saying that to surrender doesn’t mean to show up for you and those around you. For example, do you care about animal rights? Go after it. Channel it and do good things. Do you worry about guns in schools and pretty much everywhere these days? Try your best to surrender and be at ease and then channel your frustration to volunteer or raise money to change laws.

That is the balance. That is the gift we get to choose. And then we take a deep breath again and again to connect, to believe in something and to keep showing up.

What do you choose? How do you show up for you and life? How do you surrender and let go, yet fight for something you believe in. How do you hold those close to you but not grip and worry so much that aren’t able to live or feel the feelings of love and joy?

That is my deep question for you as we enter this holiday week. There isn’t an answer that is right or wrong. The quote in the bathroom today at mXe said “Be Where You Are.”

My wish for you is to do just that. Be right where you are. Be aware and kind. Contemplate the gift of life and how it can be beautiful and divine and so many things. And honor all of your feelings today. And know that you are loved and not alone.

Peace, love, and healing to all of you beautiful humans.

Kristin

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Be Where You Are

Wine country, you healed me again

Just two weekends ago I was drinking expensive wine and eating delicious freshly cooked food. It was an amazing weekend surrounded by beautiful scenery, awesome people, and with the love of my life. Being away from "real life" helped me to connect with a part of myself that I forget. As I have briefly shared I have had challenges with disordered eating on and off for years (8th grade to be specific). Each time it seems to come on is typically during a time of change, whether it be something that is going on in my life (for example when I had a baby or when I got laid off from my job) or something as simple as the season changing or the holidays. All things 'change' are a trigger for me, and now that I have had time to reflect and be curious over the years I am learning a lot! 

Prior to our trip to Sonoma I was feeling some of the "food stuff" (for lack of a better way to explain it) come up. I was thinking so much about what I ate and the amount and is it the right food and will I feel okay? The thoughts were frequent and consumed a lot of my thinking—is it what I am eating or when I am eating or how much caffeine I am having that is making my clothes continue to feel tight? What is the deal? Was I worried about looking a particular way or to feel good and even sexy since I would be around my hubby? I wasn't sure, but what I can tell you is that it was a bit of a challenge prior to leaving and I had to keep telling myself one moment and day at a time. 

Today I am curious as I think about our trip to wine country. It was a unique opportunity to go to different events where everything was provided for us—food, drink, and transportation. I didn't have to think about food as much as I do when I am feeding my kiddos constantly (and when it is my job to decide, buy and cook food for the family). I did notice that one big worry that sometimes comes up when we aren't at home is, "will I get enough to eat." This almost sounds silly because of the abundance of food I have access too in reality, but in recent years my food sensitivities have provided it difficult to find something to eat in social settings. It has been a challenge for me and I think a part of why I have a bit of social apprehension. When you aren't sure if you will have food you can eat sometimes you don't even want to go out and you have one more thing to think about. Should I eat or should I pack something or will there be food? And often times I just try not to care, but it is a real variable in social situations and cannot be overlooked.

In fact, last year when I went on the same trip to Sonoma, I was so afraid that they wouldn't have food that I could eat that I packed a lot of food in my suitcase. I had brown rice tortillas and peanut butter and bars and seeds and more. It was a bit excessive. However, after last year's trip I healed in a unique way with my eating-disorder issues. I realized that I would have enough to eat and that trying to have a very restrictive diet was just TOO MUCH for me. And in fact, being restricted was and still can be a huge trigger for me. 

To continue on last year's healing for a moment, I came back from the last year's trip realizing how free and able I was to be present with my body and food; I actually enjoyed food again and it was fun. Unfortunately, and fortunately shortly after our trip I completed a food sensitivities test called the LEAP MRT Food Sensitivities test; the diet required me to eat a very restrictive diet. The main focus of the diet was to eliminate foods that I reacted to in order to create healing in my gut. The theory of this test and the reintroduction protocol is that it isn't the food that is causing you to react to the food; rather, it is the state of your gut that matters. Thus, if you eliminate these foods for a while and then strategically reintroduce them you have time to heal and the end result: eat more foods and feel good! I was all about it when I received my initial results and was very dedicated until the holidays rolled around. Once the holidays hit and I had been going strong for weeks it got SO HARD. In short it was a mind F, and I kept feeling like a failure. Each time I would retry to strategically introduce a food I would fail or not be perfect, I would feel so much shame. My nutritionist worked closely with me and basically pulled me from the protocol sometime in January or early February. The message that she helped me understand was I had done enough healing and worrying so much about the process of "testing" foods was actually causing me more harm than the actual food. I was shocked and concerned and worried. How is stopping now a good idea?

Stopping in the middle of the process of the food sensitivity test was a challenge for me emotionally and mentally. Had I failed? Am I not as determined as I think I am to get something accomplished? Over time I realized I had to let go of my own critique of how it went. I was not a failure and I actually did great for a while. To give you a little insight, for a good 6-8 weeks I ate mainly cucumber, avocado, buckwheat, brown rice, turkey, cumin, salt and mango. It was a pretty limited list, especially in the vegetable department. 

As I fast forward to right now I ask myself this: did doing the LEAP MRT diet help me heal? I would absolutely say yes. For example, I would get incredibly sick if I would eat oatmeal or an almond a year ago. Now, if I eat a little bit I am okay and my stomach doesn't blow up. Also, the summer of 2015 I couldn't eat a salad without getting very sick and the summer before that everything I ate needed to be either cooked or blended. It was awesome to have your food blended or cooked in the heat of the summer (or maybe not so much). And you wonder why I felt restricted, angry, confused and more. The good news is that this summer (2016) I ate salads without getting sick and it was glorious! It isn't perfect, but each day I am learning more and more. This gut healing is a journey and isn't ever going to be perfect. So I will lean into that  and try to do my best regarding what I need each week. 

Reflecting on these eating issues brings me back to the recent weekend away in wine country. This time I knew there would be food that I could eat and I had a lot better trust and lack of worry that I would actually have food to eat. This freedom and trust led to a heightened awareness of the present moment. I was not thinking about what next for food or if I was eating enough of the right food. I was enjoying each moment that I was presented with. I was also reminded that what feeds me isn't food, but rather being connected—when I am connected to others it is strongly correlated to when I thrive and do well. I absolutely LOVED being with people in an environment where I could be 100% me. I was in a group of people that knew nothing about me. Thus, there weren't any pre-conceived ideas about what I am, what I stand for or anything. And that was amazing. I felt grounded in me. I was confident, present, and so grateful for this space away. In fact, I had no idea at the time how much of an impact being away and in this situation would be for my healing heart. I also think it is important to note, my stomach was a bit off because of the unique food I was eating, but I made it through and having the experience was healing to all of me, my mind body and soul.

When I got home I felt a huge sense of sadness. And yes, it might be the amazing wine or being with my sexy husband that I was missing, but when I look beyond the expensive wine and experience I know in all of my heart these things:

1. CONNECTION is a huge part of my happiness, and truly all of us humans walking this earth. Of course we all need varying degrees of connection and different things work for different people 

2. Not having to think about food is HUGE! As a mama and the chef of the family, sometimes that is all I am thinking about. It feels like there isn't an hour that goes by where I am not planning the next meal. Additionally, I SUCK at meal planning. And I mean really bad. I used to be good at meal planning when it was just the two of us, but with kids and picky eaters I just seem to feel off. If I make something they will like, it is lacking the vegetables that I like and if it is something I would eat, I need to have something in addition that they would eat. You get my point. 

3. Space. Having space for real life was healing. Sometimes being away makes you appreciate all that you have. And for me, spending time with the love of my life helped me realize why I am doing this crazy family-life with him. At the foundation of it all, LOVE!

How are things now that I am back? Well, to say the least, the first week I felt a bit tired and spacey. I was a little scattered with a few things that I am starting in my own work, not to mention we have a lot of fall-calendar fun happening that is keeping us busy. Despite all of this I am trying to fill up my heart with gratitude, faith and love. And most of all I want to keep it all going with curiosity surrounding each of my moments and days.

Yes, the eating stuff seems to be like a light switch. When I am home and back in charge of everything my eating issues are close by, sometimes closer than I would like. I wonder if I need to organize my house differently or why it keeps coming back. But I know deep in my heart that it is because eating issues and thought patterns and even behaviors are what I know. And I also know that CHANGE is hard. When we resit to change we are afraid of hurting and being in pain. This is a lesson I have learned in yoga, and in particular with my studies with Rod Stryker. And because of all of this, when I heal it feels amazing because I am free and feel more like myself than every. However, I think there is something deep inside that knows that change will be hard and is scared and so much more. Thus, I must carry on. I must share this now because maybe, just maybe I will inspire myself and others to keep showing up. To know that your dark side is there to teach you and that you can keep making more and more choices that will align with you and you can and will thrive. I know I can create new patterns that change the old patterns and I know I can and will continue to feel better and heal. 

That is it my friends. I do not have any amazing conclusions from this trip except that I know that I can heal even more. I feel called to share even more and I feel called to keep showing up to my life. There is a lot going on in the world right now, but what we what we can control are the choices we make and how we react to it.

In love, light and so much gratitude,

Kristin