A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘self-compassion’ Category

Fat Shaming

There is a very strong movement out there that I think is wonderful and way overdue. It seems to be popping up everywhere on the Intranet. There are many web groups that are devoted to the principals of stopping Fat Shaming and Body Acceptance. It’s about time.

See, it isn’t just about just other people accepting a person of size. It is about how you accept yourself and that is the basic principal for most of these groups. They know to change society’s  point of view will include fighting the fashion and medical-insurance worlds. They have to take on the giant media world. But at least they are starting the awareness. This will start with the individual saying “no more guilt and shame.”

This is not about  eating whatever you want. It is about being healthy at any weight. And the first thing that most people say is that if you are overweight you are not healthy. That is not true. The degree of being overweight and the abilities of the person are factors that need to be included in the overall health of a person. But to judge someone by a statistic is unfair and bias. It is how the insurance companies do it. It is how the medical profession where trained. And it is darn near impossible to change those minds.

Most of these programs work with the primary concept that people have to accept and love who they are. If you have self-compassion for yourself, you will naturally take care of yourself. Taking care of you includes eating better. It means dealing timely with health issues. It means getting the care that you need when you need it. It means dealing with stress. It means, and I think this is the most important concept, not letting people make you feel guilty and bad about being you. Do not let people define who you are.

Living in a world where being Fat has only a negative connotation is difficult. You are discriminated, ridiculed and harassed. Up to now, it has been generally accepted that it is ok to pick on the fat person. We see it in our media. Look at the characters who are the bunglers and pathetic ones in movies and TV. They are fat. Fat equals dumb.

Fat shamming will probably never go away. But I am glad that it has a foothold and people are becoming more aware. I think of all the young girls who put themselves through torture to starve themselves and end up with an eating disorder. Being overweight can be an eating disorder too, but you do not see the same empathy for someone who struggles with compulsive eating. I think about how many women think they are grossly overweight and therefore an abomination and they really are not. What do you think would happen if these women were not riddled with guilt and shame?

Getting rid of the guilt and shame to me is the most important part about this new movement. Women are easily boxed in by trying to meet society’s rules. If people are free of guilt and shame, they are able to dream and be creative and do amazing things. I know many women I work with who are so focused on everything they put in their mouths. They count calories or points and perseverate on every morsel and are bound up with such guilt that it limits them to enjoy life. There is little joy for those who are so worried about every point and calorie. Enjoying one piece of cake does not make you a horrible person. It is like being tied to bully. And organizations like Weight Watchers feed that mentality. I know this to be true as I have done WW many times only to end up frustrated and shamed. Nothing says guilt like getting on a scale in front of everyone in a group, being weighed and although they don’t say it out loud…. Failing because you did not lose a pound. OMG, I think of the subjective oppression that brought on.

Being free of food shame is very liberating. And if you really listen to your body, you will eat what you need and when you need to. But that is a hard process to learn in our world. That’s another blog.

Pay attention to this change. It is everywhere. It makes me hopeful for the next generations. It has to be a better world where every individual is important and is allowed to be free from shame and guilt. Join in this fight for freedom of guilt. A healthy body can be at any size.

Here are a couple of organization’s I am involved with:

https://benourished.org/

https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/index.asp

 

 

 

Let there be cake!

I saw the bright reflection from down the hall. The light glimmered off the protective covering as my boss walked towards me. It was time for our weekly staff meeting and we met and turned to enter the room together. It was like walking with one of the three kings from the Orient to present the holy child with frankincense or myrrh. She had the gift of the Magi. She had birthday cake.

If I was abandoned on a dessert island and could only have one food, it would be chocolate birthday cake covered in butter cream frosting with tons of roses and flowers. And there is one store here that makes the best. My boss was carrying one of those exact cakes into our meeting as a surprise for one of staff. I had to decide at that point if it was the best day or the worst.

I have been going through an on-line course call “Be Nourished.” It is a series of six modules that offer lessons and inspiration to learn to become an intuitive eater. No diet, no starvation and definitely no deprivation. It takes practice and training to quiet the mind and really feel what the body is saying. Instead of eating from emotion, you eat when and what your body says it wants. Believe it or not, when you really pay attention, the body does not crave sugar. I was surprised to see how easy that has been. I also noticed that I do not crave carbs and salty things as much.

If you think by “letting go” there would be the urge to eat everything under the sun. For some, I guess that happens. But then, it is in response to an emotion and not the actual response to hunger. I discovered I eat when I am bored. I eat out of habit. Its noon, it is time for lunch. But now I wait until I am hungry. It is weird also to actually feel hunger. And then I listen to what my body says it wants. I bring my lunch but at dinner, the choice often is salad automatically.

The other part of intuitive eating is knowing when your full. There are studies which say often obese people do not sense full. I stop for the most part when I am full or just know to stop. Sometimes the guilt of throwing food out makes me push past the point where I could stop.

I sat through the meeting eyeing with delight and patience for them to cut the cake. But when they did, I passed on it. It was only 10:00 am and I truly was not in the mood. I did not want the sugar rush that early on in the day only to crash later. I knew the cake would be left in our shared area and others would attack it later as was my plan. But I ate my lunch first. I was not hungry after that, but images of butter cream rosettes danced in my brain. Finally, I gave in and went to cut a chunk for myself. I included a piece of the biggest pink rose. It was only about an inch and a half square piece. I had to carry it back to my office. I knew if someone passed me in the hall I would get “the look.”

I actually set it behind me on a cabinet for a bit and again reassessed how I felt. The biggest hurdle was the guilt. It was so strong. I thought of all the things I have been doing for myself. This was a blatant disrespectful act and lacked self-compassion, I thought.  I spun my chair around to gaze at the loveliness of the rose which just happened to be my favorite color. I spun back to my computer to think how I would feel with all that sugar pulsing through my body after so long a withdrawal from most sugary things. I could feel the cake behind me. Its chocolate goodness filled the air and the pure white of the frosting sat waiting to be enjoyed. I spun around and with fork in hand, slowly and with purpose devoured the piece. I tasted every grain of sugar, every ounce of butter, every essence of dark cocoa.

It was done.

Was it worth you ask….. Hell, Yeah!

How does that look?

This week and a half has been crazy. A week ago Wednesday we had a windstorm of epic proportions. Then this past week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, we received almost three feet of snow with more winds. They did not call it a blizzard, but it sure looked like one.

I do not like to drive in snow, especially blowing snow. I knew the storm was coming. We all did. I prepared. I moved all the classes, prepared my instructors and staff and told them to be safe and stay at home. I and my salaried staff all have access to the work systems from our home computers. I planned on working at home. I am actually very productive at home.

Wednesday morning, I get an email from my boss that if I am staying at home I must take PTO and so must my staff. Her main concern: How did it look?  Four people on the HR team came in, including her, but no one in Education did. How did that look? She said since I was a director, I should have come in because it looks better.

I replied, as a director, I executed an emergency plan that kept people safe. I had spent Monday rescheduling all the Tuesday and Wednesday classes, in case. I told my staff to bring work home in case. They would have been productive at home, as I trust them. I said I am not crossed trained to do anything else at the office. I am not on the Emergency Planning Committee, I cannot triage, and I am not in any manner essential to operations. I cannot even answer the switch board. I asked her, what would you have had me do if I did get in? Her reply only was to say it did not look good.

This is just one more stone in the bucket that makes me want to stop working. Those who came in are twenty and thirty years younger than me, including her. The three HR staff members do not have much in their PTO banks and did not want to waste it and one lives right around the corner from the office. This Momma don’t drive in blizzards anymore. Not for anyone. How would it look if I was somewhere in a ditch? I can’t walk for very long on flat dry land. Where am I going in a blizzard? I told her that from now on, I will take PTO when the weather is bad, so plan on it. I have enough PTO in my banks this year that I may lose it if I do not use it. That is what being faithful and not taking excessive time off does for you.

Maybe this is just her, but I have worked for other people where appearances are tantamount. It does not matter how good you are in your job, but how you make them look. This is not the first time with this boss that she was more worried about how she looked than being judicial. Our CEO is also very preoccupied with appearances. She enacted a dress code right out of the 70’s for in house staff.

I understand that health care providers need to be available and that part of the job is to be there in emergencies. But it was so bad that the visiting clinicians were told by the VP of Clinical to only make essential visits and to remain home….and work on audits. How does that work? The folks who could and should have reported were allowed to stay home and work. Supposedly he made the call before he checked with the CEO and VP of HR who should have made the call.

   Dad digging a poop spot

The medical center we are connected with sent an email saying essential staff only. That means staff who work in support areas such as HR and Ed were not to report. Our CEO over ruled that and said she was not calling an Essential Only Staff emergency. She was concerned more about the almighty dollar. She was also very upset because none of the switchboard operators came in. How did that look? One of the HR staff who used to answer the phones was in so she was sent down there. This is the gist of why everyone was so pissy.

We have triage nurses who are set up to answer incoming calls by switching over the system to their home phones. HELLO??? Why did they not do that? We do it every day from 5pm to 7 am. Pay them the frigging overtime.

My loyalty for this agency is dwindling rapidly. My desire to participate in crazy behavior in pursuit of the almighty dollar is gone. It is just not that important to me. I did the right thing and my team all agreed. They too were ordered to take PTO. I had gotten up at 5:30 on Wednesday and called my paraprofessional educator as we still had not formally cancelled a Health Aide training class. But we were prepared. We had warned them we may and would text them if we cancelled.  We texted everyone by 6:30 and they were grateful. They are not even employees and I offered a better situation for them. How does that look?

Just for an understanding of how bad it was out there, our governor called a State of Emergency for the whole state on Monday in preparation. By Tuesday, the county was under a travel ban and no unessential travel. All the malls, schools, and town and county offices were closed. The plows could not keep up. This picture below is my husband’s car. I could not have gotten out of the garage let alone the drive way. Our plow guy did not even come until almost 2PM.

But I shut off my computer. I did laundry and I actually sorted out my sock drawer. How does it look? It looks amazing.

Everyday hero

Cubid

There are few instances of people nowadays that are in my life that I would say are heroes or at least the bravest people I know. But I have been blessed to have someone in my life right now who I would call a hero. She works with me and at first; we did not hit it off. But as time has gone on, we have become work friends.

This woman does not see herself as anything but just getting along in life. Many years ago, when her three boys were little, her husband made a left turn into an intersection on his motorcycle. He died because someone did not see him. She rarely talks about it. I did not find out the whole story until recently when she was telling me it would have been her 40th wedding anniversary. She never remarried. She dated rarely and only after her boys were grown and on their own.

She is our recruiter for professional staff. I was not hired by her. She was out having surgery on her leg. A few years back she had been trying to open her garage door manually when the power was out and the rope gave way and sent her flying. She shattered her leg and hip. She was out having the pins redone as they had worked loose and were hurting her. When she came back, she was a bit cold to me. I did not realize that she feels possessive over her hires like a mother but I was not part of her flock. It took a while to break down the wall.

I found out that she also has ovarian cancer. I took great effort to make time every day to see how she was doing. As we got to know each other, she would inquire about my health. Turns out one of her sons has rheumatoid arthritis as did her husband. She was very concerned about the drugs I was on and the reactions I was having. She listened authentically to my concerns. She would always say, “Well, hang in there.”

I am not sure what or when, but we became pretty close. She would come to me when work was getting to her. Not much really got to her, but the pettiness of work really did. She does not like everyone in the HR department and shares her feelings about the inequities she sees. She has been doing her job for many years and is very good at what she does.

But then she would tell me of her journey with her cancer. She bravely faced infusions of chemo last year every four and then two weeks. It was killing her. She never wavered though and other than sharing with me and two other girls who were cancer survivors, she kept it to herself. Her doctor wanted her out of work but she persevered and kept working. There were days when she would walk all the way downstairs, back and forth with candidates who she was interviewing. She told me her bones hurt her so bad from the chemo that the first thing she did when she got home was take an oxycodone. She lives alone with her dog Jethro who she cherishes.

Every day she could make it in, she was as pleasant and helpful to new people as she always is. To look at her, you would never know the severe pain and misery she was going through. She would always ask how I was and I stopped complaining about anything. What I face is nothing in comparison to her journey.

About a month ago, they stopped the chemo. Her doctor told her it is going to kill her faster than the cancer. They also discover new cancer cells in her chest. The doctor feels he can surgically remove what they see. From then, they will start a new program with her of less aggressive chemo. She goes under the knife next week. We took her out for lunch this Friday as a treat and to bolster her. I think it was more for us.

There are very few people I know who are as brave as she is. She always is concerned for others. She asks little of her family and of us. But we all are there for her. So if you read this, I am asking that you take a moment and send my friend some healing energy. And then be grateful for your wellbeing.

Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule

creche

I am wishing everyone a bright a cheerful holiday season. So far, this has been one of the bleakest I remember. And I am not speaking just about me. The weather has been horrible. Usually we slide into the heavy snows and treacherous roads in January and February. We have already had school snow days. But I think it is more a residual feeling people have after the election. People are just miserable.

I know I am not feeling the holiday spirit. By now, the house would be decorated and the tree would be jam packed with ornaments. This year, the tree is up but I have not put the ornaments on and I am not sure I am.

This pre-holiday week has offered dinners and parties for us to attend. The feeling is more that it is an imposition than something people are looking forward to. My dinner for my team and human resources got downsized to a luncheon during work this Monday. It changes the feeling completely as we will not be able to have a leisurely meal or for those who do, cocktails.  No one seems to care.

The other day, my office became a refuge for people to come and speak of their worries and troubles. One friend  came into my office and sat down with a heavy sigh. She is one of the most positive people I know. Even she said she felt like she was wearing a heavy shroud of worry and negativity. I explained to her that we all need to go to the dark side once in a while. It is part of the energy swing we all do. We talked for a while and I could feel her energy.  I realized that I too had been wearing the same coat and so have others.

Its all going to be ok. But I think we are going to be experiencing a period of darkness for a while. Without being political, I believe it is residual energy from the election. I think it is similar to the period just before World War II. I hope we do not have the same outcome of a war. I know this is not just in my little corner of the world.

I truly believe that the earth has a population of light workers who are here to get us through this. I also think we will come out of it a better world. For now, I wish everyone a blessed holiday, however you celebrate it. Take time to recharge and refill your oil so you can shine brightly again in the New Year.

 

Transitions

sept-doves-2016

I have been writing about the Doves who have lived with us all summer. They left their spot up on the porch for a long time in August and we figured they were done having babies. We were wrong. A new pair had another set of babies this September. That made three sets of twins and one single baby dove that came into the world in my garden.

We lost one young bird from the first pair that was attacked earlier in the summer.  I found her on the walkway and she died in my hands. She is buried in the garden.

dove-love

This newest pair grew quite large. Yesterday, the nest was empty. But I found one of them on the deck. We knew that one was not doing great from birth. We could see that she breathed a lot faster than the other one. I think she cannot fly because I was able to walk up to her pretty close and all she did was walk away. Throughout the day, I would see her in another spot, often with her nest mate. The bigger one can fly away. I put out seed and I hoped she would be ok.

How frightening it must have been for her to find herself on the deck after being in her nest for so long. Now she is in this huge space and alone, unless her brother/sister comes back. Last seen she had meandered closer to the bird seed I put out, but in the safety of a bush. I worried all night and I am waiting for day break to go out see if she is ok or gone. I pray she flew away, if that is possible.

spet-doves1

There may be a day when we will vaporize and be transported to our next location by breaking apart and reassembling somewhere else. I doubt I will see that in my time. For now, I have to physically move myself and enter into a new arena from the comfort of where I was. For some people like me, it is hard and disruptive. But I have been practicing doing a Soft Landing, one of the new Mindful Self-Compassion skills from the class I am taking.

I am very sensitive to my environment. So much so that I am not even completely aware of all the signals coming into my brain, but I do react. I am still hyper-vigilant, but not as bad as I was years ago. I do not like loud sounds or bright lights. And I can detect emotional distributions or as they say, bad vibes, very easily and it puts me on alert.

The concept of a soft landing is to take a moment every time you go from one spot to the next in your day. When you enter somewhere and find you seat, take a moment to breath. Close your eyes if you can and listen for whatever sounds are in the room. Go inward to your body and scan for discomfort. Much like you would massage a muscle, send soothing energy to the discomfort or simply become aware of it. I find the act of just being aware of pain seems to lessen its grip. I do this now all the time including when I get into my car and drive anywhere. It only takes a moment.

garden-sept-center

My favorite grounding is when I come home from work. I change out of my work clothes into something soft and comforting. I like to sit in the garden and just be there for a moment. Then and only then, my husband and I will share our days. He knows he is not supposed to hit me with drama when I come through the door. It was a hard habit for him to break.

However, now he forgets sometimes to tell me I had a phone call. This was the case last week. By the time he remembered, it was too late to call them back. Unfortunately, this was a call that was crucial that I returned. Seems my mammogram is “inconclusive” and I had to reschedule for another series of images and then a consult.

After talking with a few girlfriends, I learned that this was not an uncommon occurrence when you have a mammogram done. But when it happens to you, it is very troubling. I have been having them done since I was 21. My Aunt had breast cancer was diagnosed at a very early age and ended up with a double mastectomy. My mother died of cancer at 56, although her original diagnosis was lung cancer. Every therapy I have taken for my Psoriatic Arthritis has a warning that it can “encourage” lymphoma.

From all the classes I have taken and including this one, the principal of living in the present moment is a basic core truth. I worry way too much about way too much which causes undo stress and physical pain. I have to learn to stay in the present moment. The MSC class is helping me recall many of the strategies that I let go of. Being in the present moment while in this situation is critical for my wellbeing while I wait to hear what is going on. But it is hard to not worry.

So like the little dove, I am in a transition that I am not really happy about. But then that is life. If we do not move forward and face our issues head on, we become stuck. The image that pops into my mind is one from childhood. It is a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit. The outcome is never good.

The Gift of Listening

blue-ball     There are a few things that humans can give and they mean so much and cost so little. One is a smile. Another is to just listen to someone. The act of being quiet and still being present to hear someone’s story is a compassionate gift. This Friday, under a fool moon, my friend and I sat out in the garden and spent the evening just talking. I so desperately needed to just vent all the frustrations that have been building in my heart

I do not share much at work with anyone. I have learned the hard way that what may be said in personal conversation can come back to bite you. However, many people come to me to talk about their issues. I have been told it is because they trust me to keep what is said confidential. But I think it is because I listen with a compassionate ear and fully pay attention to them when they are speaking. I listen. One young girl will sit at my desk and blurt out things and then will pick up her phone and text when she is done speaking.  She just wants to dump and run. I find her rude and self-centered, but I still listen to her.  I absolutely hate people who look at their phone or text when you are talking together.

Most nights, I come home and go out to the garden to ground and relax. I will often recount the day to my husband and try to explain the nuances of issues that have popped up. I know he is not listening. He often is looking everywhere else. He does not comment at all while I am speaking. He is too busy thinking about something else, which he will say once I pause. I can be going on about something as serious as fraud that had been discovered at work and he will reply with “The Yankees won today.” As much as I should not waste my voice, I do need to vent and if nothing else, it gets it out of me and I can relax. Sometimes, however, I just get more frustrated.

Talking with my girlfriend was also difficult. She likes to fix. And as much as I appreciate her thoughts and ideas, I am not asking her to fix my life. I just want someone to listen. I heard her sometimes cruel yet honest replies and felt wounded at times. I listened to her discourse of issues in her life and tied to validate her feelings. We sat out there until the moon was high in the sky and the next day had come.

I was sad because I realized through the conversation that my friendship had been strained and I had not realized how she had felt about me in certain areas. I have known her for over thirty years. But I also had a sense of relief within myself. Like a rock that was in the pit of my gut had left. I realized though venting, I had released much of the angst that has been building in me. I was not looking for a solution; I just needed to be heard.

But I also realized I had listened to myself and had a chance to “soak in” what I had said. I used to journal and I used to blog much more and I realized that was where I went to be heard. I need to go back to writing more. Putting words down on paper is a great method of release. It is why there are so many blogs out there. We love to see those “like” icons piling up because it shows we have been heard.

I feel like I am being taken on a different path in my journey. It is quite bumpy right now and steep and there are lots of rocks to navigate. I also sense a change happening in my life. I do not like change…. I am struggling against it. Part of it is knowing that I am in the sunset of my career and the other part is I have to accept the lower level of energy and pain I am constantly in. It’s not the fear of getting older that is worrying me, either. I am looking forward to not HAVING to work and to live my life on my own schedule when I retire. For right now though, I need to change how I live my life through this transition and be ok with it. I need to let go and just see what happens.