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Stories of the Body: A Retreat April 25, 2011

Filed under: good things,lessons learned,writing — Susan @ 12:18 am

I’ve already written up an information page about the retreat I’ll be hosting in September, but I really wanted to blog about it, to have the meandering freedom to explain just what this thing is and why I think it’s going to be so incredibly awesome.

First, the place. I’ve been visiting Santa Sabina for hourlong to weeklong retreats for over twenty years now. I stumbled upon it when I first went to a week-long calligraphy retreat (I used to be a calligrapher! Little known fact!) and felt I’d found a piece of paradise. Santa Sabina was once a convent for Dominican nuns and is now a retreat center. But the lovely simple rooms, the chapel, the courtyard meditation garden, the Hermitage (where one can be a “hermit” for a time!) are all a true sanctuary for the soul. Since then, I have spent days there writing, reading, sleeping, dreaming. Just being in this beautiful is deeply healing and soothing. So it is a dream of mine to be able to host a retreat there (where I have attended many).

One of the beautiful things about Santa Sabina is the many opportunities for silence, which is so scarce in our everyday lives. We eat our meals (except for final lunch) in silence. It is truly an amazing experience. Have you ever tried it? We will pass certain parts of each day in quiet contemplation. Some of us might write. Or sleep. Or walk. But it is a gift to spend a part of a day without having to talk (or listen!). It can be astonishingly rich.

I’ve changed the name of this retreat three times now. First, I called it “Body My House: A Retreat” which was symbolic of this poem which I love so much by May Swenson:

Question

Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

I often think about my body – is it my horse, my hound, my house, my prison? Then I realized that perhaps this title was too abstract and people might not have any clue what it was about. So I changed it to “Writing the Body.” Which led to some people being wildly enthusiastic (writers!) and other people feeling maybe somewhat intimidated (“I’m not a writer”).

So I’ve now come to “Stories of the Body: A Retreat.” How many times will this evolve before September? Only time will tell! Because my intention is for the stories to emerge in whatever way we choose. Many of us will choose writing. We will share some poems and prose about the body to prime the pump. But I want to stress that no writing experience is necessary. At all. There will be some writing prompts, and this may inspire some of us in a wordy kind of way. But the lovely thing about Santa Sabina is that it invites so many different forms of expression. There is an absolutely wonderful art basement with separate rooms and nooks for collage making, painting, papermaking, calligraphy, crayons, oil pastels, water painting (it vanishes in a minute!) and more. There are numerous places to just sit and BE. The weekend will be a place to let the stories float to the surface in many forms. A time to just be with these bodies and see what they have to tell us. I’m also planning some lovely opportunities for moving (walking meditation, an optional hike, and maybe some Nia or yoga). People who want to treat their bodies to a massage can do so. There will be times for sharing and times for being alone and quiet.

The reason I’m organizing this event is to turn to another, deeper facet of seeking health and wholeness. I want to go beyond fitness challenges and counting calories – all of which have served me immensely – to a more contemplative place. Because I feel like this is the piece that is most often missing when we are seeking health, weight loss, transformation – really understanding the stories we have been told , the stories that we tell and that we deeply believe about ourselves.

I am currently seeking some event sponsors to see if I can get some kind of scholarship fund together, to lessen the costs or perhaps provide some travel stipends if possible. If there are any event sponsors out there who would like to support this weekend, please let me know!

This is not going to be a huge event. Maximum participation is 35 people and we already have quite a few registrations. There is a deep discount for Early Bird registrants, people who sign up with a buddy and people who spread the word. :-) Full details are available here. Comment here if you have any questions. I am so looking forward to this event, and I am hoping that you will join us.


 

Croissants, Walking, Cheese, Walking… Cheese. April 17, 2011

Filed under: exercise,food,walking — Susan @ 4:36 pm

Last night we returned from a ten-day trip to London and Paris, our very first trip to Europe, made possible by a miraculous and generous turn of events. Mr. McBody’s cousin and family were returning to France for the first time in ten years (he lived there for years, and she is from France) and they invited us to come along. At first it seemed completely impossible, what with our family logistics and everything. But then his completely amazing and wonderful aunt and uncle offered to fly cross-country to take care of Nana and Juniorette in our absence, no small feat, given everyone’s complex schedules, driving requirements and the like. It seemed like an offer we could not refuse.

So we went! I thought long and hard what to do about all the Food I was going to be encountering while I was there. On one hand, I didn’t want this trip to be an excuse for a total free-for-all. On the other hand, I wanted to be able to experience new and wonderful things. So I decided beforehand that I would do a lot of walking, that I would continue my no-sugar #7daychip challenge, and that hopefully it would all work out in the end.

I’d say it did. My Directlife activity monitor was probably stunned by the dramatic uptick in activity, and on a completely new time schedule. I averaged about 120% of my daily target while I was gone, and considering I was averaging around 80% in the weeks before I left, that was great. I managed to eat no sweets in London. In Paris, there were many, many temptations and I decided to forego them, because once that particular domino fell, I knew that was going to be that.

Until the last night. After five days of perusing all the sweet offerings to be had in Paris, I decided that what I really wanted to try was some famous Berthillon ice cream. After having a nice dinner for our final evening, we walked to a tiny island where all the ice creameries are. They sell ice cream by the “ball” and we chose vanilla, dark chocolate and coffee.

I was very excited for this moment.


I had a small spoonful of each flavor. It was very, very yummy. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have felt deprived if I hadn’t eaten it. But I was glad that I had. I did notice that after eating that ice cream I suddenly felt more “curious” about other sweets. But I stayed away.

The best, most awesome and wonderful thing that I ate in Paris (other than the cheese of course) was the crazy delicious falafel I discovered in the Marais (Jewish) neighborhood. This even beat the nice, white-tablecloth dinner we had.  It was so good, we even went back the 2nd night in a row and ate more falafel. YUM YUM YUM.

It was a long time to be eating out every single meal. In spite of all the walking (basically from morning until night) I did gain a few pounds. But it’s no more than I’ve gained (sometimes in a weekend) on other vacations and I know it’s manageable.

EDITED TO ADD: After 24 hours post-flight, the weight gain is ALL GONE! I am down to my pre-vacation weight! YAHOOO!

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I am so grateful that we had this opportunity. But you know, there’s no place like home. I was so happy to wake up in my own bed today, and to go to our very own farmer’s market. The food in France is truly mind boggling, but so is the fresh beauty of a California farmer’s market. We took Aunt J there this morning and she was ECSTATIC to be eating raw oysters on the street, just like she remembered growing up as a little girl in New Orleans.

I’m just relieved and happy to be home. I am excited to get back into a workout routine. I want to lose my vacation pounds before Fitbloggin, and I want to be nice and ready for the 100th Bay to Breakers coming up. It was so awesome to get away, but even more awesome to come back.

I want to thank JackSh*t, Karen, Tracey and Tara for keeping the home fires burning by guest-blogging for me in my absence. I hope you’ll go back and read their fabulous posts and leave them some comment love.

 

Prisoner: A Guest Post by Tara April 14, 2011

I am so unbelievably honored and thrilled to introduce you all to Tara of Life Changing Journey, who is one of my person heroes. Her honesty and determination and sheer willingness to do WHATEVER IT TAKES (physically, emotionally, spiritually) to find health and wholeness  – just blows me away. Tara, thank you for being here. Okay readers, are you ready?? Have Kleenex at hand.

—————————————–

For the first 40 years of my life, I abused my body. I used it to hide my emotions. I used it to comfort my fears and frustrations. I used it to shield me from the hurt and pain that I longed to stop feeling. I didn’t move it. I didn’t take care of it. I didn’t love it one bit. In fact, I hated it. I hated my body and I made damn sure my body knew it.

I became a prisoner in my own skin.

I locked myself in and threw away the key. Every year I had fleeting thoughts that maybe this would be the year that I changed. This would be the year I would learn to love and care for myself. This would be the year I would free myself from the prison I had lived in for so long….

Then the year would pass I would still hate myself. Still couldn’t stand to look at the person in the mirror. Still couldn’t bring myself to have a little faith that I deserved to live a better life. I resigned myself to living the life of a morbidly obese woman that found very little enjoyment out of life except for when I was playing video games or indulging in an emotional eating episode…

Funny thing about my body…

It never gave up on me. It would open up that cage door and give me the opportunity to stand up and walk out of my emotional prison. Every time I turned it down, my body would wait patiently. Again it would open the door ever so slightly and wait for me to finally believe…

I’m free of my prison now. Life on the outside is more beautiful than I ever imagined. I’m so far away from that prison cell that I have a hard time remembering what it was like being there. Locked away. Slowly dying, emotionally and physically, and not really caring. Now I care. I care more than I ever thought possible. I will fight tooth and nail and to my death to never return to that prison. I’m still scared, frustrated and learning to live in my emotions but can I let you in on a little secret?

The view is so much better out here.

I don’t know where you are on your journey. Maybe you’ve locked yourself in and thrown away the key. Maybe the years have come and gone and you too wonder if you’ll ever stand up and leave the confines of you cell. Maybe you’ve abused your body and you think that there is no way it’s going to do what you ask what you ask it to do. Maybe you’re afraid to unlock your cell door and see what’s out here. Listen, you get to unlock that door. Do you hear me: You get to unlock the heavy door that you thought would never move. You get to push it wide open, you get to step across the threshold and embark on the journey of a lifetime.

One slow step at a time.

Until you realize that you deserve this.

Your body already knows that.

Let it prove it to you.

~ Tara

 

What I’m Not Eating In Paris (A Feast for the Eyes) April 13, 2011

Filed under: food — Susan @ 2:17 am

Day 8 of the no-sugar #7daychip, going strong.

merengues bigger than my hand (Whole Foods, London)

Lebanese sweets, Paris

teeny tiny muffiny donut things, Paris

macaroons, Paris

Easter chocolate, Paris

Too pretty to eat - right??

more chocolate

 

Healthy Beef Stroganoff – YUM! A Guest Post by TJ! April 12, 2011


me and TJ!

I’m excited that Tracey (aka TJ) is sharing one of her awesome healthy recipes on my blog today! Her blog is full of fantastic, easy recipes that are super WW-friendly. Check out her fantastic progress – inspiring isn’t it?? One of her greatest strategies is coming up with wonderful recipes to keep her satisfied and on track. Take it away, Tracey!
——————–
Hi guys! Tracey here from tj’s test kitchen! Special thanks to Foodie McBody for allowing me to post a recipe over here today. :) I made this just this past weekend with my Mom and the whole family loved it. Beef Stroganoff SCREAMS comfort food if you ask me but sometimes with comfort comes calories. My mission along this weight loss journey is to make the foods I love…. HEALTHIER!
Beef Stroganoff
serves 8
4PointsPlus
*add additional PointsPlus for noodles
1 lb package lean ground beef 90/10
1 can Campbells Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Campbells HR Cream of chicken soup
1 Cup Fat Free Sour Cream
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 1/2 Cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 Cup water
pepper to taste
First brown beef over medium heat until fully cooked; drain any fat after cooked.
In separate pan- even at the same time the beef is cooking saute mushrooms in a small pan sprayed with PAM.
Ingredients all lined up….
These are the noodles I used 1 cup for 5 PointsPlus
1 Cup Sour Cream
After draining any fat, add onion soup mix, sour cream, water, and both soups to the pan. This looks weird, I know, but wait! haha!
Give it a stir….then toss in the cooked mushrooms.
stir again…mmmm nice and creamy! Add in pepper if you like!
Serve on top of cooked noodles. YUM! After I took this picture I tossed in some peas. It was delicious!
Easy and tasty! My two favorite words to hear when I am cooking dinner! Hope you all liked my recipe! Make sure you stop by my blog to let me know if you decided to make it! I would love to hear all about it! :) ENJOY!  tj
 

The Book I Was Going to Write: Guest Post by Karen! April 10, 2011

I’m thrilled to host author and blogger Karen CL Anderson here at my blog. She was one of my first friends in the blogosphere, and we “clicked” right away because of our love of writing and our desire to tell the “inner stories” of our bodies, our weight journeys. I think she’s awesome and so excited about her new book!

Ten years ago, if you were to ask me which would be the greater accomplishment – being thin or writing a book – I would have said being thin. No question about it. At the time I weighed ~230 pounds and even though I actually was a writer (at the time I was a plastics industry trade magazine reporter and editor), I had no confidence in my ability to write. In my mind, I wasn’t a “real” writer.

And very much like I used say, “someday I’ll lose weight,” I also used to say “some day I’ll write a book.”

Five years ago, I was the thinnest I’d been in my entire adult life. I had really worked for it, too. Not only was I was counting calories and exercising regularly, I was working on the emotional stuff. I was fully aware that this was a “lifestyle change” and that figuring out the “why’s” was just as important as the calories in/calories out equation.

I was also a weight-loss “success story” with my picture on the cover of a weekly women’s magazine and I appeared in a national commercial for a popular weight loss web site. I thought I had it all figured out and wanted to share my secrets with the world. That is the book I was going to write.

But.

But there was something holding me back…even though I had achieved something I never thought possible, I still had doubts and no real confidence in myself. And the biggest problem of all was that I hadn’t reached my goal weight…I was still 20 pounds away. Deep down inside I didn’t feel worthy.

What happened next was predictable: over the course of a year or so, I regained half the weight I had lost. Along with the pounds came panic, shame, frustration, and anger. I wallowed in self-pity a bit, I punished myself a lot, and I was desperate. I hated my body.

And that’s when I started to really write. My best writing was born out of pain and frustration, not success. At first, I did it for myself. Then I started blogging. It didn’t take long before I realized that I had found my voice, and along with it came a bit of confidence. Then came self-acceptance and the realization that if I could just love and accept myself enough, my body might just respond in kind. And it did.

And that’s when I realized that I truly had something of value to say. And so I took what I had written, edited it, added to it and published a book. It seemed like the right thing to do…a natural progression of the love and acceptance I was finally allowing myself to feel.

I can honestly say now that I am glad I regained that weight. It gave me an opportunity to really know and understand myself in a way that I never had before. I am more than just a number on a scale. My value does not depend on whether or not I’ve lost weight. And because I know that, my body does too.

Karen’s book, AFTER (the before & after) is the result of her belief that having a healthy body (mind and spirit) shouldn’t be a life-long struggle. It is NOT just another book about how to lose weight. It’s about the power of self-acceptance, and it’s about realizing that it takes as long as it needs to take. And that’s okay.

Her blog, “Before & After: A Real Life Story” (http://kclanderson.com/before-and-after) chronicles the lessons she continues to learn.

To learn more about AFTER (the before & after) and to read excerpts from the book, please visit: http://booklocker.com/books/5321.html

 

Where In the World Is… April 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 5:07 pm

Foodie Mcbody?

 

 
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