Learning to Love the Body Authentic

When I was first starting to blog a couple years ago, I read a post from another Lokean Blogger about a meditation/journey she had.  She remarked about how every time she transformed her form in the journey, Loki had pushed her back into the same exact form that she had in life.  She talked about being extremely mad at him for doing so, because she hated her figure so much.  But Loki insisted, saying he wanted her as comfortable with her body in the physical form as she was with her mental form and abilities of shape changing.

When I read that, I remembered thinking, ‘yep, I’m going to have to do that someday too.’  Well, that day has come. But learning to love my form is happening in a much different way than what this blogger had to go through.  For me, there are additional facets of this that I must face.

As most who read this know, I have Fibromyalgia.  When I was first diagnosed, I thought I could handle the disease by simply decreasing the quantity of my activity, and taking longer rest periods.

Boy was I wrong!

It’s a lot more complicated than that.  Sometimes you can  push yourself, but more often doing activities becomes dependent on variables that must be considered before you do an activity.  Further, the more you push to do something, the more you can make the disease worse. That means the little bit of extra work you did in a martial arts class might mean you have permanently shortened the amount of energy you have every day for the rest of your life.

So my being comfortable with my body doesn’t just include the body issues (which also thanks to the fibro are on the forefront again).  It also includes becoming comfortable with what I can and cannot do.  I need to learn how to listen to my body more deeply than I ever have before to better understand what I can do, when I can push to do more and when I need to take time to rest more deeply.

It doesn’t stop there.  Fibromyalgia also messes with digestion and exacerbates other conditions.  This now means what is going into my body is just as important as what I do.  Eat the wrong thing, and the balance of the whole system can take weeks and even months to recover.

So in short, instead of just being comfortable with my body, I now must also be mindful of my movement, my eating, my rest and how I think and feel in order to deal with this disease properly and make the most out of what activities I can do.

I am not writing this to whine.  This is a challenge.  It’s one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever had to take on in my life.  I also know I don’t need to accept this challenge if I don’t want to.  I could simply go with what I can do at any given moment.  But if I want to lead a life that is the most authentic to my spirit, my morals and my beliefs, and if I want to become the best person I can or pursue any activity that needs any sort of training, and to fulfill my obligations, it is work I must do.  This to me, is what my Gods would want me to do.

 

So, what does being authentic to my body mean to me?

  • It means bowing out of my last martial arts class, for now.   But that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to read up on the arts I have trained on and practice the techniques when my body allows me to.  Sure, I won’t be in a sparring ring as an opponent anytime soon; but perhaps with patience I can be there as a referee.  Or at the very least, I can support my husband and help him with forms and technique as he prepares for his own black belt boards in late summer.
  • Running slower, or doing a running/walking practice instead of straight running needs to be considered if I ever want to race again.  I could still complete races, but it may be much more walking than running depending on how my body feels that day, and I must be OK with that and not push anyway.
  • My sword practice needs to be equal amounts of reading about fencing and drills I can do alone; and I must not get upset about missing opportunities to cross blades with my sword brothers and sisters.  I have already beat myself up enough for the significant number of practices I’ve missed.   Even though historical fencing is lower impact than my other martial arts studies, it still takes a significant amount of energy to engage an opponent. I need to remember that.
  • I need to reconsider a personal eating plan.  Foods I once had no issue eating now bring stomach pain and days of being uncomfortable, which then eats into the stamina of the day.  My beloved two cups of coffee in the morning are in jeopardy as I find I am still having discomfort from drinking it even after switching to a lactose free creamer, and then to a non-dairy creamer.  Carb-laden foods like the gluten free pizza my husband and I both love are now on the chopping block once again, along with the infrequent serving of bacon we occasionally have with a weekend breakfast.  And as a caveat to this; I cannot just depend on a diet someone else puts together for me: Diets like Paleo, or FODMAP are good starting points, but they are not one size fits all with conditions like I have.
  • Finally, I need to become comfortable with my figure.  I have a ‘lovely’ area around my stomach that reacts like a natural ‘muffin top’. (when you wear tighter jeans and your skin pops over the top of your jeans like the top of a muffin – that’s a muffin top.  By the way, whomever decided to name a flap of skin after a calorie-laden baked good needs a right and proper curse.) It doesn’t matter if I am wearing tight pants or not; my body has made this natural hideousness on its own; and instead of pushing myself to lose weight and attempt to hide that area with slimmers and tops that flare out; I need to be comfortable with it.  This is the part that I think is going to be the hardest.

 

This sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?  It does, until you realize what routine I kept prior to the onset of the fibromyalgia:

  • Two hours of Tae Kwon Do classes a week plus an hour of Hap Ki Do classes per week
  • 1.5 to two hours of yoga per week
  • Running twice a week, with one run being a distance run of 5 miles or more
  • Swimming a half mile to a mile a week
  • Weekday lunch walks done as fast as possible with a minimum of 2 miles completed each walk
  • Eating the bare minimum of calories I could (usually 1500-1800) to continue to lose as much fat as possible (Yep!  Way too little for the activity levels, I know.)

 

Perhaps I should be thankful for the Fibromyalgia in some ways.  It made me realize what I was doing to my body was torture and not healthy.  Sure, I was getting down in size.  But I realize now it wasn’t worth the panic over the calorie or not being able to get a workout in because of sickness.  And it absolutely wasn’t worth the fear that I had every morning of my pants not fitting well because of bloating or because I had gained weight.

It’s amazing what we put ourselves through for reasons like health, pushing through obstacles or to become better at something.  Sometimes in the effort we become taskmasters and beat ourselves down more than anyone else ever could.

And that is why being authentic is so important to me now.  Loki was right about the other blogger needing to be comfortable in her own form, and he’s right about me needing not only to be comfortable, but being able to understand and know my body now more than ever before.  This isn’t work that is going to happen overnight.  And it will probably take many months of understanding and then months trial and error to move my activity levels forward.

But like with any other task, it’s not going to get any easier or take less time until you get started.

Sometimes

Sometimes you hurt so much you cry
But that is the least of what it can do
Instead you push on, through the daily lie
Until you yourself don’t know if it’s true

Sometimes you are so tired you could scream
Simple tasks become unachievable feats
No longer can you do what you dream
A couch and bed now your only domain

Sometimes you get mad enough to push through
Pick up the sword, it’s time to go fight
Overcome the challenge, and create ones anew
Don’t expect anything to be easy

Sometimes you don’t dare speak the truth
Pain?  So what??  I have my own!
You are no different, we are all robbed of youth
You can’t prove you are any worse off

Sometimes I wish for better care
That one magic pill that would set me free
Instead, oil salesmen sell their wares
Sure!  I can help!  For a huge fee

Sometimes I hope and dare to do more
A full-time job, exercise and activity
Fake it till you make it, just one more chore
Push through till it hurts just to breathe

Sometimes I dream for more activity
Close friends, girls nights out, parties and shopping
Instead I get shut down aggressively
How dare you make plans in your condition??

Sometimes I still dare for more
Sometimes I’ll keep trying
Sometimes I get it
Sometimes

Poem: Think About It

 

You never realize how much you damage yourself
Until you take a hard look in a mirror
And finally ask yourself
What do I like?

You never realize how much you hurt yourself
Until you take a hard look in a mirror
And finally ask yourself
Who am I?

You never realize how unkind you are to yourself
Until you take a hard look in a mirror
And finally ask yourself
Am I enough?

Betcha your answers match mine.

 

 

 

 

New Poem: Originality

Originality

I look around, at this world that’s yet so unknown

A frightened child, horrified at things that have been done

I don’t know why it hurts so much, I’m tired of this pain

All I wanted was to belong, to fit in once again

 

Symbols earned, vows spoken, the blood of ancestry

All tied together, yet don’t quench the ache in me

I fought so hard to get here, for my authenticity

Yet now that I’ve achieved it, I don’t know who to be

 

Hurt rolls inside me, spilling from my eyes

Yet no way to quench the pain, none I recognize

Why do they all turn away from what I have become

Because parts of me are different, I’m whole but not just one

 

Yet still I try to find that place where I fit in

Knowing deep in my heart it will never be again

I wonder why I pushed myself, why I did all this work

When there is no one around who knows what I’m truly worth

 

So now I go forth mindlessly, in this world of pain

Watching how I interact, learning to understand again

Everything is so difficult, everything’s so new

Unsure of where to go, I simply push through.

 

 

Photo from Deviant Art

The Next Steps

Yesterday I talked about how I realized that I was falling into the polarized mess that became this election.  Today, I still feel just as upset about who it was that won, but not because of that polarization.

The path of polarization has only brought hate and fear.  I learned that lesson from my own upbringing, and I learned it again yesterday.   We can no longer afford to automatically assume that someone who looks or thinks different than ourselves is the enemy.  We can no longer afford to get into the same arguments over and over, and have elections be ‘us v them’ like they have been for the past 20 years. We need to find a better way, and I believe that part of that way is trying to understand each other, to teach and educate, and not respond so harshly to one another.

That being said, we still have to stand for our own values, and ensure that everyone…EVERYONE has the same basic human rights.

Today, now more than ever, I fear for those who look, think and act differently. I fear for those who were just starting to feel safe loving someone that society says they should not. I fear for those who choose to be what society says not to.   We, who look more like we ‘fit in’, need to do what we can to help.  We need to say some thing when we see injustice, and be prepared to act if necessary.

I remember a bumper sticker I saw once, “If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.”  Yes, I am outraged.  And yes, I’m upset.  It’s going to be a long, hard 4 years.  And that’s why my next steps are still going to have to include backing off of my intake of media attention.  And I’m backing off and filtering my social media feeds as well.  With the exception of National Public Radio (NPR), which is the least biased media I can find, I need to do this.  And my best is that I’m not the only one who should consider this.  We are only going to burn ourselves out if we start scrutinizing every move our government makes from this point on.  There will be plenty to be outraged about.  But we sill need to live our lives as well.  We still need to give ourselves rest and allow ourselves to heal.  What good will we be to others if we are burnt out from hearing story after story that induces frustration and anger?  We have to choose our battles now, and choose wisely.

There will be people out there with a better constitution than I who will be more active than I.  That doesn’t mean what I’m doing isn’t enough.  It means they will do what it is that they can, and I will do what I can.  I’m already thinking about what I can change in my budget to allow for more money to go to organizations like the ACLU, and other organizations that support LGBT rights.  Where others cannot afford to help monetarily, perhaps I can.

Finally, and what perhaps may be the hardest, we still have to reach out to those who think differently than we do.  We still should not judge others immediately by what we think they mean.  We need to be respectful, and we need to let their actions tell us what they truly feel and believe.  If they don’t believe in the basic premise of human decency, of basic human rights, THEN we need to get to work.  But until then, we need to see more people as potential allies, because we are going to need every one of them we can get to step forward together.

They Stand With Us

I see you looking at me
Your face, expressionless
You don’t want to give away
What you feel
I’m truly a distraught mess
I’m in pain, in anguish
I’m going through my trials
In my head
Those like you don’t interfere
At least, usually
You know that I want you to
But you can’t
My anxieties are my own
My trials are all my own
My pain and fatigue are my own
All caused by what is wrong with this world
You will stand strong beside me
But cannot take this from me
Proud that I will keep fighting
I will heal

When the Spiritual Obstacles get Real

darkness_by_alexkatana.jpg

I have been away from my blog for the past two weeks, but it wasn’t because I wanted to be.  Instead, I got hit by the current round of the flu.  And this wasn’t just any flu.  This was the ‘not-keeping-anything-down-or-up-my-head-is-going-to-explode-wow-does-this-hurt’ flu.

I’m lucky in that the seasonal stuff rarely puts me down.  The last round of the flu I was hit with was years ago.  But when I do get hit with it, I go down hard.  Even now, two weeks after the initial onset, I’m still not fully back to what I think of as my ‘normal’ physical state.

Now I’ve realized however, that it wasn’t totally the flu that put me down for that long. I mean yes, I did have a virus that I had to get out of my body.  But the recovery time is taking a lot longer because of things that I am doing, or not doing.  In short, I’m not treating myself very well.

Because I’m still trying to cope with my limited amount of activity, my diet has gotten to the point where comfort food is almost always at the top of my choices (and goes without saying that the comfort food of my choosing is always the fat or sugar laden kind).  I’m still trying to do more than my body can handle as my current exercise levels do not take into account the significantly changing Michigan weather, nor do they always take into account the fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.   I’m still not giving myself the significant rest that I need in order to fully recuperate from races and other activities that I push myself to do.   And last but not least, it’s become painfully obvious that I am dealing with another food intolerance that I have yet to figure out what to do about.

One of the biggest obstacles that come up for my clients when doing intuitive readings, or even just in discussion in pagan circles is the fact that we regularly are forced to be face to face with those things that shake us up.  These are things that come up again and again, even though we try to ignore them.  Or perhaps we try to push them away, thinking that we just ‘don’t have time’ to work on them right now.  We don’t even realize we are pushing them away because we don’t want to work on them.  Instead, we rationalize why it’s not a big deal to push it away just a little longer because you have more important things to deal with at the time.

As pagans, one of the biggest things we hear from others is that in order to grow, we must look into that which we are afraid of and overcome those things to the best of our ability.  It’s so common to hear now that it’s joked about a lot, especially when new people come and ask to learn, unaware of what they are truly getting themselves into.  So we go about our day, expecting these hard obstacles to be metaphysical.  Perhaps the challenge from the Gods will be to do a journey, perhaps to learn to build a ritual, or work with a divinatory tool.  No one ever expects the challenge to be something as mundane as dealing with your own shortcomings and weaknesses as a human being.

The Gods want us to look at all facets of our life.  And why wouldn’t they?  To overcome obstacles in every aspect in your life makes you a better tool for the Gods.  It allows you to better hear them and be able to more easily discern what it is that you think you hear vs what you want to hear.  Someone who works on all facets of their lives become more able to raise the energies of those around them.   You become more powerful just by recognizing the shortcoming in the first place and learning to find ways around it when you can.

Most of the time, those challenges and shortcomings that we have in other facets of our lives are HARD.  They are the ones that we try to hide from the most, because they tie to issues so very deep within us that it shakes our foundations to deal with them.  These aren’t the issues that take a week or two to fix.  These are issues that take years to tackle and deal with.  The Gods know this, and don’t expect a quick fix.  This isn’t going to be something a single spell is going to fix.  No one is going to be able to tell you what to do, and no one will take the burden from you.

This is when the spiritual obstacles become real.  This is when you will truly test your strength and your resolve.  Will you fall?  Absolutely.  I know I have.  Will you ever fully win?  Maybe not in this lifetime, but that isn’t the reason for the obstacle in the first place.  This is when you finally have the chance to prove everything that you have vowed to your Gods in the first place.  Do you truly believe you have the strength to overcome obstacles?  Do you truly love yourself and recognize that you are worthy?  Do you practice what you preach to others about tolerance and respect for others?

And the question that arises for me right now – Can I take care of myself just as much as I tell my clients to, and do I accept myself as I truly am in this life, or is all of it lip service?

I’m going to chew on that one for a while as I start making plans for an elimination diet and re-configuring my exercise and rest schedule….

Photo from Deviant Art