I could have called this post so many things:
But the truth of the matter is, I am hopeful that the process I am going through right this minute (and have gone through about 43,200 minutes already) will cease to feel desperate, not remind me of crack addiction, no longer have me mourning, allow me once again to eat meals with my husband, and have me not feeling as though I am being tortured most hours of most days of the week. I’m hopeful that I will, indeed, overcome the sugar addiction that I have been quite happily feeding for over a decade now, which went into overdrive when I met and married another sugar addict (isn’t that how it always goes?) and discovered I needed to drop sugar to heal a damaged gut (more on that later).
Peeling back the layers of an onion. It’s a metaphor for life and growth that might not be perfect but never gets old.
The most poignant part of the metaphor for me is that peeling onions can sting and make you cry. Well, if that’s not a truth about growth and life, I don’t know what is! With every layer we peel back, we can potentially face great pain and lots of tears. But it’s worth it, because onions, like life, are so tasty when they’re peeled and used in a way that is totally different from how they started. Instead of being a thick, protected orb with all sorts of potential (imagine our adult defenses), when the onion has been peeled and chopped, allowing us to cry while we peel and chop it, we make something pretty delicious and wonderful with it.
With life, it seems, it’s only in the unpeeling (discovering), chopping (analyzing), and making us cry (healing) that we learn, grow, and become our true selves.
Is it uncomfortable? Hell yes, just like peeling and chopping an onion.
Is it worth the discomfort?
I’m absolutely terrified to write this post. My brain has wanted to write it, but my body shuts down when I sit down to type. I’m fighting through, though, because I know it’s important. No, it’s crucial—for me, for my joy, for my life.
This post is about my dreams. It’s about the dreams that I left to die a sad and lonely death while I pursued what I had convinced myself were “smarter” goals. In 2009, I walked away from my dreams (a second time) and into what would be the most difficult period of my life, fighting for things I did not believe in, getting farther and farther away from my dreams and from myself in the process.
The funny thing is, many of you know me (or know of me and my work) only after 2009. Many of you have no idea that when you attended my yoga classes or my back-pain workshops, those things were my efforts at a compromise. They were not my dreams. They were certainly closer than other things I tried (like the job that I have now), but they were not my dreams. I left those in 2009, like I said. I never thought I could achieve them. So I never even tried. I mean, I half-assed tried, but I didn’t commit because I didn’t really believe. In my mind, my dreams would never be attainable, so I could not put aside all of the other noise, distraction, and false needs to pursue my authentic dreams. I didn’t. And I suffered. Wow, have I suffered.
I feel the desire to write through all of the things that led to my avoiding and neglecting the pursuit of my dreams, but perhaps not now. Not in this post. I have so many important things to do now, I don’t want to stay stuck dredging up the “how did I get here.”
Looking perfect or feeling good. That struggle has been on my mind a lot lately as I welcome a host of new internal and external conditions that have a direct impact on my identity as a "health and fitness professional":
The items in the above list have undermined the major belief that drove me to exercise obsessively for the first 10 years of my professional fitness career: my body was really messed up from scoliosis and other health issues, and I had to work really hard to make it appear "perfect" or I wouldn't be respected, successful, or loved. I think perhaps a majority of women are led to believe something very similar, and that is what countless "love your body" campaigns and groups are designed to help defuse.
But as anyone who has made a major shift in her life knows, old beliefs and thought patterns die hard. Really hard. It takes more than a simple ad campaign or a support group to change our core beliefs. Especially when every bit of advertising and social conditioning in our society says, "Women are their bodies, nothing more, and we demand that those bodies appear PERFECT!" And as a professional in the fitness and wellness industry (and, sadly, also in "Westernized" yoga)? Forget about it: We are ALL supposed to be perfect icons of bodily perfection: no body fat, no cellulite, no structural malformations, no outward appearance of aging, perfect curves in exactly the right places, and energy so abundant we work out hours a day without a care in the world. Hmph. I don't think anyone can adhere to those expectations without being sick and obsessed.
So here I reveal the strategies that work to ensure that I don't fall into the "trying to appear perfect" trap again. If you recognize yourself struggling with anything I've mentioned so far, maybe one or more of these can help you, too.
When faced with the choice to "look perfect" or "feel good," I'm opting for feeling good from here on out. What about you?
** I had so many wonderful, heartfelt comments to this post on its original Wordpress page. It's too bad I could not preserve them when I moved the site. Perhaps new readers would like to add some helpful comments of their own?
This brilliant TED talk (posted below) by Dr. Brene Brown of the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work reveals such important truths about our world today. Every single point that her research (and personal experience) reveals leads us to the importance of vulnerability in everyday life.
Vulnerability is not honored in our society. In fact, it is condemned. But, as Dr. Brown so beautifully describes, we can't live authentic lives or have truly loving relationships without being vulnerable.
Yoga is the ultimate means for experiencing vulnerability--just think about how insecure and judgmental we feel when we're in any balance pose! Embracing that vulnerability, that uncertainty, and leaning into it opens up whole new worlds of emotion that a controlled, invulnerable, fearful life doesn't allow: Love, Joy, Gratitude, and Worthiness.
I hope you'll join me on the mat for some ecstatic vulnerability soon! Now, enjoy the video.
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