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Taking Time To (Re)Treat January 25, 2014

IMG_4834So many things have helped me on my path to health, but one that I have been practicing for over 25 years is the retreat. I love this word. It means to take a step back; it means to take refuge. It also means to re-treat: to treat oneself, again. I first came to Santa Sabina in the mid-eighties, when I was a budding calligrapher (little known fact). I signed up for the Friends of Calligraphy retreat,  not really knowing what I was getting into.

It took my breath away. Silence, and beauty. The scratching of pens on paper in what had been set up as the Scriptorium. Words on paper (or on walls). A great spaciousness. My mind was blown.

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Once I started coming to this place, I felt I craved it like one craves chocolate, or oxygen. Once or twice a year (especially when I had babies and small children), I would slip away for twenty-four hours, to step into the quiet corners. I could climb the steps to the straw-bale Hermitage and “be the hermit” for a brief while.

IMG_1617 IMG_1612 IMG_1611Sometimes I came on my own, or with other writer friends. Sometimes I came with groups- calligraphers or poets. I experienced several amazing poetry weekends – one focusing on the work of Rilke, others with Jane Hirshfield and Naomi Shihab Nye. There is poetry everywhere here, and art. The art basement is a generous space filled with art supplies of all kinds – a calligraphers’ nook, a collage room. It invites gentle creativity.

IMG_1633 IMG_1630Several years ago, I began offering group retreats myself at Santa Sabina. It has been one of my greatest joys. Two years ago, I led a retreat called Stories of the Body. Participants came together to share stories through collage, art, writing, movement, and to be with their own bodies’ stories in silence and reflection and silent, mindful meals. It was so moving and beautiful. I have been trying to book a date for a return visit for years, but the center has been undergoing many renovations and there have not been dates open — until now! I am thrilled to be offering Stories of the Body again at the end of March.

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There’s an early-bird discounting until January 28th, and I’m also offering a discount to YOU, blog readers. (you can take advantage of both!) For readers of this blog, just enter the code FOODFOODBODYBODY and you’ll get an additional reduction in price.  I am also offering a deposit option with extended payments for those who cannot pay all at once.

I am hoping to be able to offer a weekend scholarship for one retreat assistant to this retreat this year. The work involved would be minimal but of great help to me (registration, set-up, logistics). If you feel that you would benefit from this special time away (and into yourself), please email me with the following:

  • Why you feel this retreat would benefit you at this time
  • Your commitment to attend if chosen
  • Experience in dealing with groups (ie your “people skills”)
  • DEADLINE: February 1, 2014

Exercise and eating well have been so elemental in my health journey, but this – THIS- has been an invaluable element that I often forget. Being with myself. Taking time for the quiet. I hope you will join us.

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A Hand Up May 27, 2010

So my little downward spiral continued to have its way with me until I landed with a huge THUNK this morning and ended up sobbing my brains out in my car. I guess you could call that a pretty “rock bottom” point. I really felt unbelievably hopeless, helpless and also shocked that I had gotten into this state, so quickly.

This was set off in part by my taking my blood glucose this morning and finding it HIGHER than it has been since I was even diagnosed. This stunned me. Then I went to the lab to get my blood drawn for my appointment this week. I was mortified. Here my endocrinologist came to my SHOW last week, and I’ll all woo-hoo-look-at-me!! Poster Star Diabetic Patient!! OMG how BOGUS can I be?!?!?

I sent off a flurry of desperate texts to a friend who sent me a ton of support which I could only partially receive given the pit of self-loathing sludge I was drowning in. But I did hear a little bit of it and of course the one thing I heard was, “If this was me you would not be beating me up,” or something along those lines. It was so true.

I made my way to my trainer’s gym. He asked me how I was when I walked in the door. I burst into tears. We spent the entire session stretching out my incredibly tense and misaligned body. Which was necessary. He was also extremely kind to me. Which didn’t hurt either. After I finished there, I felt like I reallllllllly needed to sweat, so I went up to the gym and killed the AMT machine (elliptical-thingie) on level TWENTY (the highest) for 30 minutes. The sweat felt good, really good.

Briefly ran into my spouse. Who had read my blog post from yesterday and offered to 1) support me in going to bed earlier so I am not so freaking EXHAUSTED and 2) take a walk with me early in the morning.  Now that’s what I call spousal support.

Went to work. Brought my new ball which is going to function as my new chair. We’ll see how this goes. Allegedly sitting on a ball is a hundred times better than a chair, and burns a lot more calories. My DirectLife was not WILDLY impressed, but I do think the little green spikes were higher than my chair-sitting hours.

Went to Weight Watchers. I sort of slunk in there, feeling like, WHO THE HECK ARE YOU to be doing this, when you are so completely messed up?!? Well. I’ll tell ya.

A member came in. She had gained (less than me). She burst into tears. Then she told me about the VERY BIG THINGS she has been dealing with lately. I said to her, “If this was one of your dearest friends in this same situation, would you be beating them up and berating them?” (Hmm, sound familiar?) I gave her some Kleenex. I almost started crying myself. It was the biggest mirror ever. In fact, it turned me right around. When she left later on, I felt like she was going to go home and be nicer to herself.

After the meeting, I met with another good friend.  She asked me how I was doing. Amazingly, I did NOT start sobbing my face off. I told her. She listened. It was so good. She told me some stuff back. We pledged to support each other. Once again, honesty (especially in the hardest times) rules.

I am so very very fortunate for my friends and community. The church I (occasionally) go to has a prayer that says “we are weaving a tapestry of love we call community” and that is how I feel about the people who are surrounding me and holding me up on this journey.  Thank you.

 

Verklempt. December 24, 2009

I got to my evening WW meeting tonight and was surprised to see my BOSS standing there! He had a present for me: THIS, poster sized, in a big frame. I was… overcome. Really.

(no, it’s not a REAL WW magazine cover, he did it in Photoshop! – what talent, right?) But truly I can’t even express what this means to me, on so many freaking levels. And if you don’t know the significance of this image, read this post.

This week I talked a few times about how on Facebook, there’s that “Year in Facebook” collage app, and it sort of summarizes your 2009 FB status updates. One of the very first updates I wrote in 2009 was: Need to lose weight for medical reasons. I’m scared. I need company. I remember what a frightened, sorry state I was in. But I put it out there. I started this blog. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Boy, see what happens when you put it out there? Did I ever get company. I’m truly overwhelmed with gratitude for this year.

Anyway, speaking of The Big Cheese, his blog post for this week is really funny and yet REAL and true, and what makes WW work at its essence. Having a good time. Planning. Making choices. Being intentional about all of it. And not feeling remorse for indulging, when that indulgence is intentional. He really, truly walks the walk as well as talks the talk. I printed out and read this post at several of my meetings this week and not only did members laugh, I think they really GOT IT.

 

Shining A Light into the Darkness December 18, 2009

I got an email recently from one of my blog readers, who was responding to my jacket post. She said,

You (maybe because you are now thin?) are able to speak about things that I (and many) have also experienced, with such shame. It is so awful to be too big to fit into any jacket in the store and I’ve been there!  It’s always moving and fascinating to me that you can put this stuff out into the blogosphere, where I’ve just been mortified.

It really struck me, these words. And I thought, well maybe it is easier to write about these painful experiences because I’m not exactly in that place now (I wouldn’t exactly say “thin” but that’s another point). BUT I also think it is writing exactly about these things that has allowed them to change and heal. I really believe this.

For so long I felt such terrible shame and hatred (for myself) for being overweight, and out of shape, and for using food compulsively, and just ALL of it. I thought I was dealing with it: I went to numerous therapists, but that was very private. I went to a few “groups” and talked about it there, but that somehow didn’t do it either. I really felt resigned to having to live that way forever. It was very painful.

Finally when I decided that I NEEDED TO DO SOMETHING, I was casting about in the dark. I just knew I had to somehow throw myself out there, and be honest about it, or it was never going to change. I had to describe all the angst of it. I somehow knew that this was the only way out.

And it turned out to be true.

Sometimes I think about this blog and it makes me so emotional. I really believe it saved me (along with other things). This blog saved me. And so did the blogging community. And my friends. And my trainer. And eventually my family when I felt safe enough to share with them. And the Twitterers. (Tweeters) Y’all know who you are. But it was all about SHARING stuff that felt massively secretive before.

Now, I have another part of my life that could use a little light. Something that has plagued me as long or longer than the weight stuff: my unending clutter. I know somehow these things are related.

SO since it worked so well here, I’ve decided to start yet another blog to focus on THAT issue. And I am hoping that, like with this blog, I will find a community of both inspiring mentors and also struggling companions who are in the same boat as me. I have a RL (real life) friend who is helping me in a real, physical way. I am very very excited about this. I feel hopeful.  It’s another area that has brought me a lot of shame and upset and mortification. But I’m ready to shine the light.

 

It’s Official!! I’m a WW Leader! November 6, 2009

Whewwwwww… what a DAY.

Got up super early because I couldn’t sleep. I think I was rehearsing/muttering my meeting points all night in my sleep. Showered, got dressed. (same dress/sweater combo as training weekend) Drove to meeting, got there about an hour early. Clipped up my flip-chart pages and then stood around and twiddled thumbs. Went to the bathroom. Paced the meeting room to and fro, loitered at receptionist desk, etc etc etc.  Finally the members began trickling in and the room filled up.  A few of my friends came in and I was so happy to see them: two who are already WW members, and one who decided to join TODAY. Yay! Then it was time to start. SHOW TIME.

All I can say is that it went well. I felt good. I was happy to have an eye on the clock so I was able to pace myself. I got everything in that I had wanted to.  People connected with the topic and with each OTHER, which is a key thing.  One of the things they did at training one day was to have us all stand in a circle and pass this ball of yarn back and forth; eventually it made this big criss-crossy web. Which was to demonstrate what we are supposed to be doing with our members, creating a web of connection between them. I felt like I could visualize this happening throughout the meeting time and it was way cool!

After the meeting, the leaders/manager sat down to give me Feedback. Overall, it was reallllllly positive. They had been taking notes (which they gave me) which said: “Very comfortable in leader role. Warm, enthusiastic, natural smile. Professional demeanor. Excellent approach to meeting topic, well prepared.” YAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

Then they told me a few little “areas of improvement” which I totally agreed with and which were very helpful. But they were teeny tiny and just fine tuning. THEN they said, “So, how’d you like to lead an at-work meeting?” I said, “Sure, that would be great,” and then they said, “Starting today! In an hour?”

WOW. So I zipped out of there, did a quick errand I need to do at home, and zipped over to the office building where the At-Work meeting was. The reason for this incredibly rapid succession of events is that my leader was promoted to Territory Manager LAST NIGHT and now needs to find leadership for his 7 (!!) meetings. This was the first one. Now it’s mine!! So I led the meeting AGAIN, and he introduced me and basically turned it over to me.  It’s a small group and I really liked the people there.  That meeting had a totally different feel but I think it went well.

Then I came home and collapsed. Woweeeee!!!!!!!

I want to thank everyone for the great support you’ve shown me since I began this process. I feel like I’ve been so incredibly buoyed by everyone here and at Twitter. THANK YOU.

 

 
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