Truth That Serves

Land of Broken Wings by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

Land of Broken Wings by h.koppdelaney from Flickr Creative Commons

The truth is important, of course, and the search and recognition of it has always been important to me. These days I feel the need to get on with it, really live my life, tie up loose ends and do what I can with what I have. When we pay enough attention, life doesn’t always have to amp up the warning signals that change is needed, yet too much navel gazing and waiting for perfection in answers can slow us down and keep us stuck.

The “truth” at age 20 can be very different than at age 40. Your “truth” is likely very different than mine. It’s a huge subjective area and I want to focus on one part of it today. Giving a nod to the truth that our attitudes, beliefs, words, habits, actions and perceptions can help shape our reality, I want to briefly address the notion that when bad things happen it’s somehow our own damn fault. We created our reality, as they’re fond of repeating like parrots in some circles and usually for a huge fee. How is that helpful? How is that kind? Is it a truth that serves in the moment, where someone is at, with what they have to work with?

It can be truth on some huge, metaphysical plane but as we’re here to be living and learning in a human lifetime, how does listening to the beating drum of “you created your illness; you can create something different” truly serve us?

Recently the self-help author Debbie Ford died after a long battle with cancer. She helped many people with her work, knew and worked with Deepak Chopra and knew a lot of those folks at Hay House, which is a large New Age publishing company. Louis Hay wrote a little blue pamphlet decades ago that matched particular diseases with “wrong thoughts, attitudes and emotions”. While the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of our lives are connected, it isn’t that simple and formulaic.

Like many people, I’ve subscribed to e-zines and such for topics that I have a deep or passing interest in. Most of them I never open. One of them is a weekly e-mail from life coach, author and speaker Cheryl Richardson, which this week mentioned Debbie Ford in the subject line. I opened this one.

Richardson got to spend some time with Debbie Ford in the last few days of her life. This quote is taken from the newsletter:

“Death is a doorway to the next stage of our spiritual lives and when we approach this doorway together, hearts and hands aligned, it becomes a profoundly healing experience for all parties involved. I’m so grateful to have had this adventure with her.

Before I left, there was one thing, in particular, that Debbie asked me to share with people as I continue to travel and teach.

‘Please tell people that they do not cause their own illness – it’s a ridiculous notion that creates so much needless pain. All illness, including my cancer, is an invitation to love ourselves more,” she insisted. And then with her signature shadow laugh, she added, “The truth is, in the end, that’s what life is all about anyway – learning to love ourselves more’.”

There’s a truth that I’m choosing and it’ll serve me better than the misinformation circulating around in some segments of our culture.

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Roasting a Duck

photo by adactio from flickr creative commons

photo by adactio from flickr creative commons

On Saturday I roasted a duckling, the second time I’ve ever done that and the first time in a decade. The first duck had so much fat and was so difficult to clean up after, that I swore never again. That was back when I believed all I read about how fat is so terrible for us.

It had taken a lot to get me to the point where I could even consider roasting a duck since I’d had one for a pet as a child. My siblings and I had named him Duckess, somehow thinking he was female when he was a baby. He was the only duck we had amongst chickens and geese and he became mean when he grew up.

I love animals and believe they ought to be treated well. My physical body will not tolerate a vegetarian lifestyle and I’ve learned to walk away quickly from those judgmental people who don’t know me, don’t care to know me, don’t care what happens to me or why I choose the things I choose.

Anyway, my roast duckling didn’t look as pretty as the one in the photo here. Usually I need to eat only organic food because of high-maintenance health circumstances. In this case though I chose a $13 duckling from a regular grocery store instead of a $30 plus one from Whole Foods or the local co-op.

I tossed out the orange sauce packet and partially followed the directions on the wrapping, partially following the instructions for obtaining and saving the fat from an excellent blog post I found online. I’ll use the fat for roasting root vegetables and will be making bone broth with the carcass today.

Because I research about health online quite a lot, I’d heard of the GAPS diet. It usually seemed to be presented as a diet to help children with autism. Being a grown-up with other life long health issues, I didn’t pay it much attention.

When it finally came onto my radar a few months ago, after sincerely transitioning to an extremely healthy diet and still feeling like crap, it seemed to make some sense and when I transitioned to it cautiously, I began to heal. It will take some time since I have decades of damage. I crave the cultured vegetables, coconut kefir and other probiotic foods that are part of the diet but understand I need to use caution as the detoxing and die-off of bad bacteria can be awful. While the point is to heal, it’s also important to be able to function in life with some degree of comfort while doing so.

I didn’t have any butchers twine to tie the legs together and my motor skills were such that I couldn’t really carve the duckling in any decent manner–it was more like hacking it up. There was surprising little meat on it but I got a reasonable amount of fat and have gotten through the clean-up part of the process, except for the oven.

We are all so different and the GAPS diet is not for everyone. It would have saved me decades of suffering and missed opportunities had I understood this before, but it was certainly never suggested by the health professionals I consulted with. All the information being presented was pointing me in other directions. Much of what the health food industry was offering was better for me than the standard American diet, but it too caused me challenges and suffering in the long run.

Some people do very well on raw foods, or mostly raw foods but many of us don’t have the digestive fire to deal with a raw diet in a healthy way. Others seem to do well with a vegetarian diet. We’re all different and some of us have to do quite a bit of research and take a lot of responsibility for finding what works for us. Often without support, understanding or interest from those around us.

Other people’s life journeys involve things that aren’t so focused on health and food and they can seemingly get by without giving it much thought. I’m not one of those people.

Comforts Against Cabin Fever

Evening Warm-up; photo by owlpacino from flickr creative commons

Evening Warm-up; photo by owlpacino from flickr creative commons

January has been a good month and I’ve much to appreciate. One thing that I’m longing for now is a closer connection with nature. It’s been unusually cold for longer stretches of time, the sidewalks have been too icy for me, flu has been rampant and I didn’t have to go out so I stayed in with my well-planned stash of necessities. Even opening the windows a crack for a few minutes every few days has helped but I’m really looking forward to the first walk along the river and the first spring flower I notice.

Hydration is important in the winter as well and I believe I’ll feel better with drinking less coffee and more water this week. If it’s warm drinks that comfort, some honey and cinnamon in water is great. I’ve taken the time to make some this past weekend as well as hot chocolate made with coconut milk and good quality cocoa. Why would I think I’m too busy to stand there and stir the chocolate in for a moment? Actually that’s just an habitual, unconscious thought and something that I’ve picked up from the culture around me that considers being crazy-busy as an honorable thing.

It’s tempting to stay up late and stare at something on the flickering screen of laptop–Pinterest and hulu–but I’m being mindful of the healing benefits of being in bed by 10:00. Stretching too, especially when I’ve been sitting in the recliner for about an hour, makes a difference in how I feel.

Last week I wrote about my enjoyment of Downton Abbey. I’m also reading a book by Charles Finch called A Death in the Small Hours. I quite enjoy reading novels set in Victorian times and I’ve read all his previous work. It doesn’t seem to be as easy to sit down and focus on a book as it used to be but winter is an excellent time to coax myself into it.

I guess what I’m going for is to make the most of the opportunities I have in this season so that I’ll be ready for spring in reasonably good shape while giving myself some comfort and stimulation now instead of feeling deprived and focusing on what I can’t do.

January Evenings and Indulgences

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

The third season of Downton Abbey is finally here. (The photo of Highclere Castle, where it’s filmed, is by Jonathan Rieke.)

Sometimes I almost feel as though I’m part of the family. Maggie Smith’s character is a delight to watch, although I wouldn’t want to deal with her in real life. There’s an online quiz, “Which Downton Abbey Job is Right for You”, and I scored Isobel Crawley.

It’s been unusually cold here and the sidewalks are icy or slippery in many places, depending on what has or hasn’t been done. Some people are boring with their struggles regarding New Year’s Resolutions and I’m as interested and supportive as I can be, depending on my energy level among other things. It’s been years since I’ve made resolutions, although I have goals and choose several areas of focus.

I’ve done well with having a “word of the year”. This year my word is “refresh”. I didn’t pick it; it persistently and insistently made itself noticed and while I’m not up for explaining what it might mean, the word seems appropriate and I’ve accepted it.

With new dietary restrictions at this time–because health is very important to me–my treat of choice now is having a glass or two of red wine some evenings, even though I don’t bother obtaining wine without sulfites. We all have our little escapes and soft addictions; I’ve eliminated some and upgraded others.

Freshly grated ginger for tea in the afternoon is another treat I’ve been looking forward to lately. It isn’t about what I’ve chosen; it’s about my paying attention and making the time and effort to follow through instead of telling myself I’m too busy and that “maybe tomorrow” I’ll take care of myself in this way.

By next month the energies and themes of my life will be different and something else will be available to add a little sparkle and pleasure to my daily existence. Taking responsibility is valued by me and when this life is over I don’t want to look back and see a pattern of self-denial when it came down to appreciating life.

What are you making the time to enjoy these days?

Directions

The Co-op was really busy today, just like a weekend. I walked over to get some organic produce and got the heck out of there rather than looking for replacements for the items on my list I couldn’t find. I have refined my diet so well this past year that there is no need for me to make resolutions in that area.

The past year turned out to be better than I ever expected and I did achieve some of my goals but no way in the linear steps I’d planned. One of the best improvements was my abilities with the specialized diet I need because of a health situation. Another improvement is finally coming up with a budget I can work with, something that has eluded me for decades. The organization of my living space is another long-standing challenge that has become easier this year. I can’t quite say how I got here but it feels good.

However I did it, I’m intending for the same grace to happen this year regarding organizing the information I need to run my life. Yeah, I have a fancy, expensive day-planner but I don’t really use it. I waste a lot of time looking for passwords and other things because I simply don’t take the time to write things down in a manner that I can retrieve later. That sort of information isn’t really meant for the mind to file away when we have all this high and low tech help.

The other two things on my list for decades–once again–exercise and drawing. I will begin with the information organizing first. This past year, it worked better for me to go deep into improving one thing at a time. In fact, overall, uni-tasking is more conducive for my success than multi-tasking.

I know what directions I want to go in and for me it’s enough that I’m accountable to myself.

A Year Later

This blog was started a year ago yesterday on a whim. I don’t recall what I was thinking at the time. It seems I may have been tired of being an eternal feedback machine for people talking at me but never listening. My blog–I could express myself and tune out everyone who wanted to argue with me.

Yeah, I have symptoms of chronic fatigue and one of the things that sinks my energy really fast if for someone to argue with me about something I’ve said. It really does make me want to say, “whatever.”

Also my creativity is messy. I was attracted to producing something that at first, superficial glance appeared to be polished and somewhat professional. I soon found that putting photos in was more work than I wanted to do.

I wanted to add some structure to my life. Not being able to depend on my health from one day to the next, it’s quite a challenge to walk that fine line of putting my health first and being productive and moving forward in my life. Often I’m the only one I’m accountable to and that whole integrity and responsibility and the like is really getting exercised on my part.

It has made a difference although I’m not quite clear as to why. Like today, I’m still not at my best and because I have some structure in place I’m not collapsing into a pile of mush, brain included.

The blog so far seems to be a winter seasonal thing. I’d really rather be outdoors. I still look at the blogs of others when I have time. It’s amazing really for someone who was born way before all this internet stuff happened. And like many other things, it makes a difference how each person finds a place to fit it into their own life. It feels like most of us have even less time than we did last year. I hope that gets flipped back soon.

Egg Nog and Naps

For health reasons I’ve been on a very specialized diet and I’m doing well with that. One of the things which I only recall its existence during this time of the year is egg nog. Plain old supermarket egg nog in a carton. So I decided to allow myself to buy and drink one and I’m doing o.k. with that too. It hasn’t lasted as long as I had hoped but I doubt if I’ll be going on a food chemical-induced binge. The once carton will be enough. Oh, and it wasn’t soy or lite either. It is the stuff I really enjoy.

I also indulged in naps today which my body seemed to really need. I’ve been pushing myself to be more productive for months in some kind of attempt to make up for the time and effort I lost when I was seriously fatigued. Before that all happened, people were making painful demands on me. Like many of us, I guess I internalized some of those expectations. It might be worth it to check it once in awhile to see if all we push ourselves to do is really all that important and if it’s truly expected of us. Maybe no one will notice if we drop some things and give ourselves a break. I’ve found that to be true. If I hadn’t written about my naps right here, no one on the planet would have known.

Post-Thanksgiving Weekend

The little indulgences I’ve had with my diet lately hasn’t seemed to be too harmful At least I don’t have weird cravings like I do with the aftermath of eating restaurant food.

My little burst of consumerism has run its course. One of the items I got (finally) is an e-book reader. My place is overflowing with books and I’d like to use it to read books from the library. Without the strain of staring at my computer screen more than I already do. What made this a bargain is that I wasn’t in that spaced-out, glazed-eyes mode that used to generally allow a salesperson to easily get a lot of add-ons in my cart by checkout time. Extended warranties, a cool looking cover, a charger when I won’t use this for travelling and can charge it through a USB cable through my computer. Nope, didn’t get them.

Most of the shopping energy I have these days goes into grocery buying–an area in which I must be careful for health reasons. These companies that began with organic ingredients and quietly down-graded into using genetically modified foods laced with toxic pesticides while charging the same–they can just go down too along with all the other groups lacking in integrity. Greedy and self-serving.

During financial times like we’re living in, marketers can play on our insecurity and manipulate our inner hoarder into buying what we don’t need and more of it. Stuff does not equate with love. Consumerism isn’t fun and being a consumer is not my identity.

I resent being cheated. Well, I won’t look back but I can certainly make different choices now.

Late Sunday

I almost forgot about this blog today. It was beautiful spring weather and I’ll choose outdoors over indoors on the computer any day.

There were spring flowers in many places and the trees are blooming. And-knock-on-wood, I am not sneezing. It was very warm in my apartment but the fuzzy young birds are hanging out on my window sill and I don’t want to get a screen or have the birds in my apartment.

This morning I got paperwork done and honestly, my mind is very blank and relaxed. I have a private LiveJournal account where I write details so I can keep track of how much better I’m doing. Three years ago I was more dead than alive. It’s incremental improvements in my health and I’ve earned them. And I love it when I have no worries—like right now. Worry doesn’t help anything and I know just stopping is easier said than done.

Clarity

My life, as life is for many other people, is reorganizing organically into some model I never imagined decades ago. Of course some of it’s by design, some experimentation, some reaction and then there’s the blindsiding stuff.

Many times it’s darkest before the dawn and other cliches. My filtering has not been my strongest asset and priorities end up being different than I think they are going to be. Everyone’s on a different part of the spectrum on this one.

Clarity is so important in living a successful life when things aren’t cut out for you any longer. Using myself as an example–I have many interests and it’s my health that is the most important focus for me. The art, writing (and obscure, energetic talent that has been more of a curse than a blessing until I gain some skills) are important for me to develop. They get worked in after the health thing that is on my plate right now, even though I don’t always accept it as cool and worthy.

I realized today that it’s my mindset I need to work with first for the biggest bang for my energy, time and effort and developing my skill set is secondary at this point. This is very useful for me to know as I go about my day and something I didn’t see clearly a few days ago. It used to be that I was overwhelmed with demands and reacting so these are things I’m learning now while my life is unstructured.

I’ve been dealing with my blog by writing about things like ice cream and television shows and birds because this has all been swirling around me in a confusing way. Now I feel all is right again and I make a point of moving through the panic phases as quickly as I can.

There continues to be events and situations in the world that moves other people into fresh panic as well as the underlying anxiety. That’s why I often find it a relief that some people are doing very well. On some level we are all one and we really need a balance of some people having ease to offset the truly crappy times that other people are going through.

Well, what I’m attempting to get at here is that sometimes it feels like the struggle will never end but in a little while things become more clear and then there is an order of a higher level to work with. If you were in the same room with me you could probably hear the wheels in my head creaking and grinding, with steam coming off my skull as I learn these new things. For some reason, what people TELL me is often not accurate for my situation–or maybe the timing is off. It sneaks up on me while I’m puttering.

I’ve committed to blogging everyday which makes my posts all over the place through these cycles I suppose.

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