Today I awoke with a piercing pain on the right side of my forehead, just above and slightly behind my right eye. I awoke to that, plus nausea. I immediately thought to myself “CRAP.” I had the sinking feeling I might be in for a migraine attack. Fear rose and I deliberated between muscling through the day or making the calls to cancel appointments and clients.
As soon as I stood up to go to the bathroom and drink some water I knew it: this one was for real. Sometimes I wake up with a mini-migraine that subsides after going through morning rituals of drinking water and moving around. The quality of pain is different than that of the full on migraine attack. The migraine attack includes the piercing pain traveling down the back of my skull to the top of my neck, that metallic taste in my mouth, and the nausea. These things signal it’s time to slow down and take care.
And what I’m learning, is that these migraines require time and patience. I’ve gotten to know them, to understand the ebbs and flows, the build up to peak pain and nausea, and then the slow descent back to feeling like myself again. Where I notice things like how blue the sky is, how wonderful it feels to move around, and how delicious food tastes.
To provide some background, for the last year I was on a clinical trial drug where I received a monthly injection to prevent migraines. Doubtful as I was, the trial worked and I was nearly migraine free for an entire year. When I say it changed my life, I really mean it. Long gone were the days of regularly canceling work and social events. And the PediaLite that sat in the back of my fridge for nearly a year finally got tossed out as I no longer needed it.
To wake up with this piercing migraine today triggered fear that “the migraines are returning.” I really don’t want to return to the way I was living my life where I would be out of commission for 2-3 days at a time 3-4 times per month. The only places I visited were the couch, the bathroom, and my bed while waiting for the migraine to pass. Needless to say it was a big lesson in impermanence: I constantly reminded myself “this too shall pass.”
As I venture into this new chapter of my experience with migraines, I am vowing to be gentler with myself. I wonder: What can I learn? How can I move more slowly? How can I take better care of myself? This process is sweet, soothing, and softening. Even just by taking this new perspective, I feel more at ease.
I spent an hour this afternoon lying on my floor supported by two bolsters and covered by a cozy white blanket with gongs playing in the background. I was transported out of the pain state. Even though the migraine didn’t totally disappear, the pain lessened and I felt more relaxed.
I felt grateful to surrender to the process of migraine and at the same time to take accountability for my own self healing. After giving myself this mini gong bath, my faith that “everything would be ok” was fully restored.
I made a routine visit to my chiropractor last August, who also happened to be my running coach for Chicago Marathon. We started the visit with the usual: checking out my posture, alignment, palpating my upper hips, shoulders, and ribcage.
My face went flush when he remarked I lost weight as most marathon runners do. Over the previous weeks I noticed my clothes fitting differently but it wasn’t until it was confirmed that I had lost weight that I allowed myself to believe it.
Strangely, what was intended as an innocent observation by my coach became my obsession. I was on such a high from my coach’s innocent observation and inspected subtle changes in my body as mileage piled on each week… 6 miles on Tuesday, 8 miles on Friday, and 18 miles on Sunday. Every mile was like money in the bank: An investment to maintain thin.
With every additional mile it was like money in the bank that I would maintain the weight loss. An investment to maintain thin.
Meanwhile, in the height of summer I was experiencing flu-like symptoms, taking naps daily as my body often crashed half-way through the day. I pushed myself through nearly all my runs to maintain my training schedule and, as much as I hate to admit this, I liked this new thinner version of myself! I was keeping the weight off by running like a maniac.
Bloodwork showed my iron levels were extremely low, and my doctor cautioned me not to proceed with the marathon training as it could jeopardize my health by pushing myself too hard.
My solution was to take supplements and adjust my diet so that I got enough nutrients. Not once did I deprive myself of food while training. I ate, and still can eat, like a horse. But in the back of my mind I knew this “diet” was also beneficial for weight-loss so, in making this diet change I was in a win-win situation: increase my energy / iron AND keep the marathon weight off or, even better, on a steady decline.
I finished Chicago Marathon and had the time of my life. Thanks to the training program specifically designed for me by my coach I felt strong and capable. In the days preceding the race I got the post-race blues and scrambled for “what am I gonna do next?!”
I love the thrill and challenge of a race and I love running. The training is tough but strengthens me in so many ways beyond physical and there is an exhilaration around race day like none other. My foray into endurance sports has not been entirely a means to a weight-loss, body fat deprivation end.
But as I got off my high Chicago Marathon horse I started noticing something: I was terrified of when the weight would come back on. (I know – the amount of weight is negligible and something few people would notice.) Once my body recovered I started running again and tracked how many days per week I was active and constantly questioned myself, “was it enough?”
About one month out from the race, my jeans tightened around my waistline. I stared at myself in the mirror and said FUCK. It was too late. While I was busy getting my social life back in order, those pounds piled right back on and I said hello to a familiar friend: the bulge around my belly and my expanding, softening love-handles.
I turned to more yoga classes, meditation, and in the hopes that I would find salvation and solution to my “problem” I pinpointed my next race: a half-marathon trail race in mid-Spring.
Meditation took up more of the time that I once filled with running and with the help of that practice I realized how obsessive I became about my body’s softer, post-marathon shape. A trail race is something I have wanted to do for a long time but now I found myself posing the question: is this the healthiest thing for me to do? Is this really the answer?
Once you have an eating disorder you are never wholly “cured” from it. Yoga healed me and pulled me out of a deep, dark hole but I always knew I was never immune to bulimia residue surfacing as I got older and here I saw I was absolutely right. Running and a packed training schedule took the role of purging.
So as I enter into 2016 and consider my “race calendar,” I proceed with caution and curiosity.
Call it a resolution, an intention, or a goal – this year I will mindfully approach the endurance athlete within me. As I visit a race page I will pause and ask myself what are the motivating factors compelling me to click “Register” and hand over the following 4 months of my free time to training.
My body has settled into what feels like my normal shape and size (but then again, what is normal?) and I have voluntarily taken an indefinite break from running and excessive exercise. I’m listening to my triggers and when my boyfriend tells me he likes the softness of my love-handles I do my best to believe him and see my body from a much kinder place.
For any endurance athlete out there, I am not writing this to discount or discourage your sport. I am merely noticing my own experience and how my love of running combined with a “never give up” attitude took me far beyond my limits and into dangerous territory that was no longer serving me. It’s time I take a few steps back and recalibrate in the hopes that I can revisit my running shoes while maintaining a deep love and respect for the shape of my body.
All in due time.
I went bouldering last night at Rock Climb Fairfield – putting my Bowspring form to the test. I tackled the first climb thinking oh man I’ve so got this, I’m gonna fly right up that wall. Only to make it past maybe the 3rd hold before falling onto the crash pad.
We spent well over an hour at the gym and each time I approached the wall I realized it wasn’t about tackling the wall head on, full throttle – it was about slowing down, calming down, and – dare I say – NOT trying so hard.
When I reminded myself not to try so hard, my body started working more efficiently. Miracles didn’t happen, I did not skyrocket to the top, I was humbled each time I attempted the easiest climbs as I maybe only made it to the top twice. I noticed though that I was able to use my body to my advantage as I shifted my feet and my hips from side to side, tapping into the power in my legs rather than gripping for dear life.
You don’t have to try so hard, I kept reminding myself. Each time I gave myself permission to do that, I made small gains and started to get more of an understanding of how this bouldering stuff works.
I have gone climbing (indoors and ONCE outdoor!) a handful of times and confronted my fears of heights, falling, and failing. It was not until yesterday that I started to see how I could work WITH my body rather than against it. I could work WITH the wall rather than fight it.
I wasn’t just reaching with my arms but with the power in my legs and the desire in my heart to not get down on myself for falling but instead to just keep going. Even when I fell, I did not get discouraged: instead I rested, recovered, and hopped back up to try the next climb. And when I tried again I moved slowly, calmly, efficiently, and trusted my body.
There was already a palpable tension as I walked in, like the feeling of seeing a someone hold a knife over someone’s chest the moment before a major surgery…you just don’t know what might happen.
A soft sobbing shape quietly whimpered. Women filtered in to do yoga with heads hung low. The crook in their torsos and abdomens hinted at a deep dark secret concealed below the layers of uncomfortable skin and shame.
Arranging the women so everyone had their space, pillows, blocks, etc., I placed a kind hand on the shoulder of the crying woman. A gesture to ask “are you alright?”, and let her know “you’re going to be okay”.
As I settled in to teach, I had an urge to spill my guts to these these women.
Read the full piece on Elephant Journal by clicking here.
“Forgiveness clears out the old weeds and lets the sunlight in.”
– from friend and soul teacher, Josh Kane
My friend was sharing with me about his recent reconnection with an ex-girlfriend, or in his words a “past love.” I prefer his term past love as it holds more reverence and respect.
His experience was such that he felt a genuine joy from talking to this woman who I am sure at one point or another hurt him in some way. But he expressed that because of his ability to forgive her, he was finally able to derive joy and learning from the simple experience of reconnecting and hearing that she was on a much better path. He felt happy not only for his past love, but also for himself.
There was no filter, no ulterior motive, no agenda. What existed in its most pure and powerful form was forgiveness.
It got me thinking about my own experience with past loves. About how I can’t reach out with an open heart until all has been forgiven. And it’s not that I feel compelled to remain best buds with my exes (believe me, I have tried and failed), but should the occasion occur where we are prompted to engage in casual conversation, or perhaps call upon one another for a family tragedy, it’s nice to know you can interact with integrity and respect. No agenda. No ulterior motives.
I want you to think about how it feels to hold a grudge. Come on – we’ve all been there, I know you’ve done it. I have! When we hold a grudge, when we hold onto the way someone hurt us, when we hold onto the OLD STORY, we perpetuate and live in the old patterns and habits. Even if we have found a new partner, new friends, or a new career. When we hold a grudge we are doing ourselves the greatest disservice: we are depleting our own energy (and time!) by festering on what might have been instead of relishing in what is.
How can we appreciate the person, the love, the compassion that is presented right in front of us when we are stuck churning over past pain?
I don’t want to discount experiencing feelings to their fullest. In fact, I realize the necessity to feel our full spectrum of feelings in order to be able to forgive. When we suffocate the hurt and pretend we are hunky dory, that’s when forgiveness can seem to be eons away. We build ourselves the proverbial “wall.”
Every forgiveness will not lead to a restored friendship or even an amicable relationship between past loves. Sometimes all it means is that you forgive someone in your heart and let live. You let them live their life and you go on living yours.
The big difference however is that when you live your life you no longer carry the old story, the resentment, the anger, or perhaps even the fear that a wrong-doing will happen to you again.
You are OK with the fact, with the plain and simple truth, that it’s highly probable someone in your life will hurt you again. And again, and again, and again.
Forgiveness benefits the other person, absolutely. But when we forgive we are actually giving ourselves a beautiful gift. We are giving ourselves permission to proceed forward. It is not that we forget those who have crossed our paths, loved us and hurt us – no, they stay with us like a dear old shoe. But we can move forward with grace, so that we can approach that person with respect and truth. And so that we can treat ourselves with utmost respect and truth.
It is in this way that when we enter into new relationships and friendships we recognize what our values are. So that we can surround ourselves with the best possible people.
For some reason I keep thinking back to a particular past love. Let’s call him Tyler.
Tyler and I had what you would call a whirlwind romance. We fell in love hard and quickly. The relationship lasted about two years and seemed to crumble just as fast as it was built. Of course in retrospect, I see that it was built on very dissimilar values and a lack of truthful communication.
In the end there was so much hurt. This was the first time I really felt that sensation of my heart being ripped out of my chest. Torn into shreds. And then stomped on by angry elephants.
Tyler and I reconnected about a year after our break up and of course we hurt each other again. Or really, I hurt him. Why? Because I had never forgiven him. What followed was a slew of who could hurt the other person more, with him finally coming out “on top” with a mean email to beat all mean emails in life. An email that made me feel like a worthless piece of shit. The communication stopped there. Right in its tracks. I realized that responding to him in a similar manner would do me no good. Would only perpetuate the hurt. But then what? What was next?
It has taken me nearly three years to realize that what is next is the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness that can happen even though Tyler is no longer in my life. We no longer communicate in any form or function. We haven’t in three years.
I will sometimes sit at my computer, compelled to write him an email letting him know “I forgive you.” But I realize that’s not what is important. I am not looking for a response. I am not looking for an explanation. I am looking for a sense of relief, of letting go of the hurt that has rested and made a home in my heart.
As the hurt is let go and as I continue my process of forgiving Tyler, I start to open new opportunities, new doors for love in so many different ways. I also realize how I can start to forgive in other relationships and friendships. I notice the price we pay when we hold onto our hurt.
If it happens to be a past love – or present – allow yourself to feel the hurt. To get angry. Maybe even write it all down – as if you would present this in a letter to that person. But find your way to release it and to enter the process of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is power. Forgiveness is freedom. Forgiveness is a gesture of absolute love.
It is the magic potion that clears out the weeds and lets the sun shine in.
Check out Josh Kane and incredible yoga teacher Jennifer Buckman at Pop Up Yoga CT this summer – Yoga + Live Music = LOVE!
I pay a lot of attention (ok probably way too much attention) to the unsubscribes from my email list. And I noticed that yesterday, someone marked my most recent email as “abuse.” My immediate reaction was a combination of expletives, anger, and a lot of complaining and attempting to explain why this had happened. (What had I done? I asked myself.)
This theme of pleasing everyone has come up a lot for me recently. Both for myself and for others very close to me.
I lived for a long time as a people pleaser. You could say I still do to a certain degree, but I am learning to let it go. Growing up and into my twenties I was constantly yearning to please my family, friends, colleagues, people I barely knew. God forbid I ever say something someone did not agree with.
When in the midst of trying to please everybody, or trying to control the outcome it now occurs to me … STOP, Just Stop. Because in no alternate universe do I please everybody, do I control the outcome, do I never offend.
I have always HATED the notion that a given situation might possibly be slightly uncomfortable, or extremely uncomfortable. (That there is MY own shit – and I’m working on being comfortable with discomfort, that this is normal, this is life!)
But then I remember: I am not a mind-reader. And you aren’t either.
And then I remember: there is absolutely no way I can please everyone. I probably can’t even please most of them.
I was at dinner with some friends and a hypothetical and potentially very uncomfortable situation came up. We were playing it out – how the situation might unfold and I chimed in “if they are disrespectful or unkind to you, that’s their shit.”
And oh how I needed to take my own advice!
It occurred to me it’s often as simple as that. If we go as far as we can for someone, through being open and honest and available, and yet there is still a lack of kindness and respect, then what it boils down to is: that’s their shit.
And guess what? It is highly likely that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, no amount of arguing or defending your case that will change that.
What’s funny is that I am writing this to primarily remind myself that …
I am not a mindreader.
I cannot please everyone.
If someone has a problem with me then most likely, that’s their shit.
But I would bet money that many of you reading this are in great need of that reminder as well. When do you find yourself bending over backward to gain acceptance? To please? To attempt controlling the outcome?
Maybe the next time you find yourself in that situation can you simply … let it go. And remember, You Are Not A Mindreader. You Cannot Please Everyone. Sometimes … That’s their shit.
I’m excited to announce a brand new webinar series I am launching this summer – beginning June 16!
Release Body Shame
Experience freedom from the entrapment of body shame.
Why Release Body Shame? And, what is it anyway?
I spent the bulk of my early twenties battling an eating disorder. It was primarily through yoga and a mindfulness practice that I was able to heal myself. My journey continues to this day as I work toward releasing my own body shame (buried deep within my own trenches) through developing a more rich practice that supports me as I get older.
Release Body Shame will be an experience that allows you to begin the self-inquiry pertaining to your own relationship with your body. We will open the conversation about body image as it pertains to our culture and ourselves as human beings.
Throughout the webinar series we will work with the 5 A’s: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing – to better understand how we can change the story that we tell ourselves and how we can begin to better release the shame we hold onto about our bodies.
Click here to learn more and sign up today! XO
My 2nd video blog – it’s up!
And I have a confession: I’m watching The Bachelorette tonight. There, I said it! And I’m letting myself off the hook for this one. No guilt. I’m focusing on the ‘wants,’ not the ‘shoulds.’
What are you going to give yourself a break for? How can you let yourself off the hook? Give yourself permission?
Write it in the comments: what are you letting yourself off the hook for tonight or today?
Because honey you rock.
It’s been a weird, migraine-limbo day. I woke up with that “oh crap I’m getting a migraine” feeling … which wasn’t quite enough to completely dismantle me but WAS enough to have to miss my beloved Bowspring class and although I treated my migraine “naturally” I still felt all screwed up and out of control.
I so wanted my day to go as planned, to follow every step, every appointment I had on my calendar.
I managed to make it to a lululemon goal-setting afternoon but even so felt like I just wasn’t fully there because I had this fog of migraine that so palpably was separating me from the rest of the world.
I could feel it in my interactions with everyone I came across today.
When I came home from goal-setting I was more relieved than ever to slip into my most comfortable of clothes, curl up on the couch, and doze off to the continuation of my Parenthood binge. I felt comforted, sweet, and held.
I let go of needing to control the outcome of my day and held onto “take care of yourself Maggie.” Because sometimes that’s all we can do.
The obligations and need for control get in the way and I’m working, slowly learning, that when my body is giving me clear messages I need to listen. Not only that, I need to honor them.
Not surprisingly, I am starting to feel better as I crawl out of migraine-limbo. I’m so happy to see the sunshine and my newly blossomed orchid sitting so content on the window sill. I am happy that tonight I get to spend time with my guy and that tomorrow is a new day.
So, please go and take care of yourself darling. Lord knows you deserve it.