Monthly Archives: February 2018

I Knew This Day Would Come

IMG_0640For the first couple of weeks on keto, I felt like a pile of dirty clothes, left on the floor to fester and rot. Well, maybe that’s a little exaggeration. I just remember the transition from being a carb-burner to a fat-burner was not without its struggles.

For the next couple of months, I started feeling better and better, and I knew I was feeling on top of the world (cue Karen Carpenter’s voice here). I also knew that no one ever stays feeling that way forever. Gradually, though, I have become a little less ecstatic and a little more realistic.

I’ve been cheating on myself a little bit lately with food. Still no carbs, but a little bit extra here and there. I managed to keep this fact from myself as I simply didn’t write down all the transgressions on my food tracking app. For all intents and purposes, if you looked at my food diary, I was rocking this diet!

Hi my name is Siouxsie and I’m an alcoholic. That’s what they say at AA meetings, even if your drug of choice is something else. I’m far, far from an alcoholic, laughably so, but I still possess addictive thinking and behaviors. And what I’m addicted to is anything (legal) that I think will make me feel better. My drug of choice used to be carbs. How often I turned to junk food and sugar when I sensed dissatisfaction within. And, just like any addict (I think), when you get rid of the main source of feeling “good,” a bunch of feelings you have been avoiding rush in and vie for attention. Surely these feelings contribute to relapses.

And for an addict, occasionally there will be some other substance which will quell that dissatisfaction and those uncomfortable feelings. Which brings me to today.

I turn to social media now hoping it will make me feel better. More connected, heard, witnessed. I turn to meaningless television shows I can binge on Hulu and Netflix and Amazon prime. I turn to the carb equivalent of literature — easy to take in, non-nutritious, digested quickly and I am left wanting more.

So what if there is a “keto equivalent” for information? What if there is a portion that is similar to these good fats I am eating every day? Well, if you have read anything I have written you may know I love a good analogy. Therefore, for me there is definitely a keto equivalent.

The good “fats” are writing, creating, reading non-fiction, drawing, reading classical or deeper literature, listening to podcasts with some depth and meaning. 75% of the time I am using my brain these are the activities I want to be doing. The protein is connecting with people in real life.  (In some cases, that may mean FaceTime if the person lives in California.) 20% of the time I am using my brain, I will be nourished by connecting with people in real life. The “carbs” could be empty or near-empty like scrolling through Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, or slightly more nutritious like (TBD – to be determined – any ideas?) and I would allot 3% of my brain space to these activities.

I drew the onion illustration for my post. Normally, I just google an image, which is fine, but I like drawing, even though I’m a primitive beginner. Actual food was the outer layer of my onion. I see that information processing is the next layer. The parable of the two wolves has caught my attention today. I want to feed my good wolf so I’m taking in more goodness, kindness, compassion, truth, beauty.

I still have to work out what going “keto” on information looks like. I know a few things it doesn’t look like. I have a hunch that shifting my information “macros” will lead to a more satisfying, meaningful experience. What about you? How do you find a good balance in how you take in information and create things? What tips do you have for managing the information that is available and coming at us full speed ahead 24/7/365? What are your good “fats” relating to information?

 

Because I Want to Remember This Day

Grumpy Moody Boy.

Yesterday, I picked Kepler up from school as I do each day. He walks down the hall into the lobby where I wait and he hides under his hood, tricking me into thinking that I’m not going to be able to find him. We play our little game where I finally find him and we start to walk to the car.

Some days he’s relaxed and happy, and some days he comes out of school with some unresolved feelings. Maybe he’s tired, or had words with a friend, or is hungry. When he comes out this way, no matter what I say, it’s the wrong thing. Usually, that’s no big deal. Yesterday, I was at the end of a relatively stressful week, and I wanted not to engage in a conversation which was going nowhere fast. So, I stayed quiet.

When we got home, instead of coming around to his side of the car and opening his door, I went on into the house and let him come in in his own time. He was quite offended that I had gone in and closed the door, even though it’s unlocked, easy to open, and I’m right inside.

It had been about 10 minutes since I had picked him up and he was still expressing his displeasure with everything. So I asked him if I could give him a hug. He folded himself into me and just rested. He said, “Thanks, Mom.” He asked me to sing the Ho’o Pono Pono song that I sing to him every night at bedtime.

Ho’o Pono Pono, Ho’o Pono Pono

I’m so sorry; I love you.

Please forgive me; I thank you.

This song can be repeated over and over and is lovely to sing in a group. I felt him relax. He had a way to deal with the feelings. He felt heard. He felt loved.

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I could see visible changes in his body as he processed his feelings. And when we finished the song, he said, “lovely Mom.”

There was a time in my life when I would have doubled down on insisting that he not be grumpy, which would of course have just exacerbated the problem. And all I can say is I am grateful that in this case, I recognized that he needed kindness and gentleness.

Here is a recording I made on Noteflight, as well as the music with lyrics below. Try singing it a few times. Let it heal you.. (First time I’ve ever used Noteflight, so it’s a bit rough, but it does get the melody and harmonies across.)

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Forgiveness

I had the quote in mind, but didn’t know who had said it. Anaïs Nin said this:

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“We see things not as they are, but as we are.”

The Soundtrack of my Youth

Keith Green was a Christian musician who enjoyed a brief, intense life before perishing with two of his young children (ages 3 and 2) in a plane crash at the age of 28. I remember exactly where and when I found out he had died. I was at Honey Rock Camp and had just finished my 18-day wilderness trip. On the bulletin board was a short article about Keith and his death. I did not know at that time that also on the plane were a married couple with their six children. All were killed.

Keith’s music reflected his intensity. I loved his music. His music became the soundtrack of my life from 1977-1982. Today, even though I no longer believe in God and am no longer a Christian, I still love “Until Your Love Broke Through.”

The chorus:

Like waking up from the longest dream, how real it seemed
Until your love broke through
I’ve been lost in a fantasy, that blinded me
Until your love broke through

I loved that song when he sang it, and later when Phil Keaggy covered it. But “we don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” I think Keith couldn’t not sing. He had been making music since he was a tiny boy, and Jesus made a lot of sense to him. Indeed, he felt like everything made sense now because Jesus’ love had broken through his blindness.

Life is Difficult

Being in a post-Christian state, I find interesting the stories of others who have left the faith they grew up in. Plenty of people seem to leave because they were hurt by Christians and/or disappointed by God. The teachings I received as a child and young person indicated that being disappointed by God was antithetical to actually trusting him. That if you really trusted, you would believe that “all things work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” The sense of letting God down can be strong in someone who struggles with their life.

As these concepts are inculcated into small children, they are quite often toxic. Children have strong abilities to perceive, without the matching strength of ability to interpret. A child may detect tension between her parents, but will very often interpret the tension to be something that is due to the child’s failure in some way. Sadly, I saw the world and the things I heard at church as evidence for my defective nature. And every time I heard anything related to the idea that we are capable of no good things on our own, that reinforced my belief.

I place no blame on the adults in my life who taught me that I should be a good girl or I would go to hell. I truly believe they believed what they were saying. That man who stood on the platform, striding back and forth in the little Baptist church, bellowing about hellfire and damnation — I figure he really did believe that. And I suppose there was less understanding 50 years ago about how children thrive and how they suffer. So, hindsight is 20-20 as we know, but that’s also why I do not point fingers at them in a judging kind of way.

Every day with Jesus

When I got my “fire insurance” at that little Baptist church, I finally breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t going to have to go to hell because I had finally put together the right combination of words and “asked jesus into my heart.” But nobody’s love broke through to me. I “came to Jesus” completely out of terror. Madeline L’Engle said, “Begin as you mean to continue.” In my childish way, I meant to continue to be good, to do whatever it took to keep myself out of that lake of fire, where I would be burning eternally with no relief.

As a child, I couldn’t distinguish between concrete and abstract. To me, it was a literal lake of fire — I can still remember the mental picture I had of it — people writhing, burning, agonizing, and shit out of luck because they had their chance on earth and they had missed it.

Soon after I got fire insured, I was introduced to the lovely “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” To wit:

Life was filled with guns and war
And all of us got trampled on the floor
I wish wed all been ready
The children died, the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we’d all been ready
There’s no time to change your mind
The son has come and you’ve been left behind

For an anxious child, this terrified me further.

The father spoke, the demons dined
How could you have been so blind?
There’s no time to change your mind
The son has come and you’ve been left behind

Well, I thought, I’ll just have to make sure I’m ready because I sure as HELL do not want to get left behind. I memorized bible verses, learned the books of the Bible for a crisp $1 bill, sang the “hymns and songs and spiritual songs,” and generally had a lot of fun with our friends from church. Then we moved on to a different church where exciting things were happening but where we didn’t have nearly as much fun with our friends.

Anaïs Nin was onto something

Fast forward a lot of years and experiences later, and I saw more and more how the truth of “we see the world as we are, not as it is” meant we do christianity in the subjective world of our own experiences, assigned meanings, wounds, and temperaments. Just like we do everything else, we assign meaning to the story of our lives.

I had long ago internalized the belief that I was defective, unable to do good, unworthy of anything, unrighteous, unclean, un, un, un. Not enough. Never ever enough. The years of pain from feelings like I wasn’t a good enough daughter, sister, cousin, friend, student, wife, mother, and of course, Christian. When I first was introduced to the idea that I might actually be ok just the way I am, I rejected the idea. But there came a day when I heard the right person at the right time talk about it in a way that made sense to me. It was possible, it is possible, to see myself as something other than a broken thing that doesn’t deserve to take up space.

And that’s when I started to understand forgiveness. When I forgave myself. I started to understand love, when I began to love myself. I became compassionate when I gave compassion to myself. Grace made sense when I was able to extend it to myself.

All the years of praying. All the years of bargaining. All the years of trying, trying, trying to believe that God loved me were fruitless, as in, literally devoid of fruit.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

And speaking of prayer, I heard many sermons, read books, had discussions, read articles, journaled, and listened to teaching about what prayer was, what it was for. I believed the lyrics, “Sometimes He calms the storm; sometimes He calms the child.” That meant to me that sometimes God would answer the prayer about stopping the unpleasant thing with a yes and it would stop, and sometimes he would answer the prayer with a no, but would be kind enough to comfort me in the midst of it. But, the only way we feel calm is if we believe that we can.

I’m sure (if anyone is still reading at this point) plenty of people have experiences that seem to be supernatural. That they have experiences where they can’t explain why they were able to be ok in the midst of a loved one dying, or losing a beloved pet, or facing devastating news. Everybody is I, and we all have our own experience. To me, it makes the utmost sense that my experience of religion was simply one more facet of my experience of life.

So, yeah, I too woke up from the longest dream. I was lost in this belief system that started in my first minutes of life. And what broke through to me was true love. Or should I say, what broke through in me was true love.

Until Love Broke Through

I’m a much more loving person now because I love myself. My shackles are gone. As I often say, I think the “fruit of the spirit” is da bomb. I say yes to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. And there is no law against any of those things. But I don’t have to worry about The Law anymore. Because I don’t have to do things in light of eternity. I get to live now. I get to love now.

It’s a big world out there and a really, really big universe. Religion makes sense as a way we try to explain the fundamental questions we have about how we got here, where we’re going, and what to do along the way. But what if, just what if, there are other options? What if we can love others? What if we do deserve to forgive ourselves? What if we love be present to others with nothing other than being human?

Can you imagine a world where there’s no promise of heaven, nor threat of hell? Can you imagine what might happen if people could love each other because we are all one unified whole? Can you imagine?

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