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Intuitive Eating

Recently, I touted an article on Facebook from a hot young author named Jessica Knoll (author of the best selling book “Luckiest Girl Alive“) who wrote about smart women falling for the pseudoscientific claims of the “wellness” industry. She wrapped up everything I’ve been feeling and saying for the past couple years in a wonderful op-ed piece in the New York Times. That all these trends – keto, Paleo, the Whole 30, you name it – are eating disorders in prettier boxes. All of them espouse a comparative model of eating, claiming certain foods are ‘bad’ for you while others are ‘good’. And while we could all use a kick start plan to eat healthier every once and a while as bad habits can be difficult to break without a good strong dose of discipline, the diet as lifestyle has been the norm since the 80s.

I wholeheartedly agree with almost everything Ms. Knoll wrote, but something keeps nagging at me: the idea that we still label what is women’s inherent nature (because, as Ms. Knoll points out, not many guys are sitting around the table talking about their thighs as they scarf down their burgers) as yet another methodology called “Intuitive Eating.”

Intuitive eating implies we need to learn a specific way to eat. We don’t need to learn anything else about food. We need to forget about everything that society has told us is right or wrong with our bodies. We need to un-learn all the ways we’ve dishonored, shamed and hurt our bodies whether that be through diets or abusive language or comparing ourselves to other women. We simply need to return to the inherent wisdom that was granted us at conception. The wisdom of our Divine Feminine. She knows why she eats. She knows what her body likes. She knows how to nurture and nourish herself whether that is with a kale salad or a chocolate chip cookie.

Women, we’ve been brainwashed. By advertising, magazines, celebrity culture and heaven help us, social media. And while it’s all around us, it’s been a covert operation, as Ms. Knoll points out, hiding under the alias of ‘wellness’ and ‘balance’. Slowly but surely, our patriarchal society has turned us against ourselves. Convinced us that we need products and expensive tonics and potions to live a fulfilling life and convinced men that we’re not worthy of praise, attention or love unless we look a certain way. Our capitalistic and consumer driven culture has made us question and distrust ourselves.

As I’ve written before, I’ve struggled with being in the ‘wellness’ industry, as I promote and write about workouts and food and nutritional supplements. I’ve done the best I can to strike a chord of balance between what’s absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle and what could be considered indulgent luxuries. Before I put anything out to the public I try to assess why I am doing so and will it help someone more than it will harm them?

I’ll be the first to tell you I got into this industry because I didn’t feel ‘enough’. Pretty enough. Thin enough. Successful enough. I was able to hide my insecurities in the name of health. I learned a lot on this journey, but my biggest lessons have come from unlearning everything I thought I knew about who I was. It has come from tearing down the facade I built to make myself okay. It came from questioning and continuing to question everything I know to be ‘true’ or ‘good’ or ‘right’.

While the wellness industry has done an amazing job convincing us we can never eat gluten again and be happy, we must not abdicate personal responsibility. As women, we need to take back our power and stop being so willing to buy whatever anyone is selling us. We must do whatever we need to return to that inexhaustible well of confidence, grace, trust, compassion, tenderness and yes, strength, that we were endowed with when we were conceived as females. And we must continue to fill it over and over and over and over again. With food. With friendships. With intimacy. With laughter. With joy. With vulnerability. With whatever fills up not only our bellies but our hearts as well. We must feed our souls.

We can begin this process by asking ourselves one simple question not only with food, but with all of our decisions. Why? Why am I eating this donut or this piece of fish or this broccoli? Why am I buying this potion or supplement? Why am I getting botox? (A question, yes, I recently asked myself.) And then, be brutally honest in our answers. Sometimes we may like what we hear, sometimes not. Decide accordingly.

Your answers may lead you down a rabbit hole that may uncover a root unresolved issue for you. While not always pleasant, these moments can be transformative and healing. If you have the resources and feel you need to, seek outside help like a therapist. Counseling can be helpful, but so can writing, reading, talking with trusted friends and committing to our own happiness and well being.

I don’t need L’Oreal to tell me I’m worth it. And neither do you.

And Jessica Knoll, if you read this – I’d love to lunch with you and discuss how to take up more space.

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Free Falling

As seems to be my theme for 2019, last week requested I, yet again, be flexible – demanded I let go of plans, even as I’m making them. I was all set to begin my new job with Square Organics, an amazing company making its mark not only in the health and wellness space but also exemplifying the generosity and heart of a company doing the right thing in the world – the kind of company I’ve been craving to work with for a long time. In today’s day and age, it’s been challenging for me to find the right fit, especially given my aversion to the nine to five gigs.

When the opportunity to sign on as their Field Marketing Director came my way, I jumped on it. I received everything I wanted – freedom to work from wherever I chose. Opportunity to contribute to the creative direction of the company. A nice salary. Health benefits.

Despite all the pros of the job, the one con is that I was not particularly enthusiastic about the actual work I would be doing. Could I manage a team of brand ambassadors in Whole Foods across the country? Yes. Could I pimp the product in stores? Yes. Is this what my soul is crying out to do? No.

This is the year life is demanding I start walking my talk. The year I make the seemingly crazy decisions that will drop me deep into the unknown. The year I say no to the opportunities that I pro/con to death until I justify saying yes, even if that decision doesn’t move me forward along my path or towards fulfilling my purpose in life.

If it’s not a fuck yes, it’s a no.

Trust your gut.

Just because you’re good at something doesn’t means you have to do it.

Say no to the imperfect opportunities so the perfect ones have room to appear. (This one I made up myself. I think. Maybe not.)

I’ve espoused all these catchphrases and paradigms at some point in my life. However, I wonder how much have I lived them? What kind of teacher would I be if couldn’t serve as my own example?

Yet again (and again and again), I am being asked to trust, to surrender, to just let go. To risk safety for growth and expansion. I’m recognizing this is easier said than done.

When the founder of Square Organics and myself came to the mutual conclusion that turning down the role would be best for everyone, we began devising a new role that would better align with my passions and talents. I am not sure if that will come to fruition or not. I feel like I should be more anxious, more worried than I am. Some days the fear of the unknown wins and I find myself spiraling in a vortex of Oh Shit. What did I do? Other days I have full faith that by saying no to a job that would keep me small, I’m saying yes to an opportunity that will demand I be as big as I know myself to be.

In the meantime, I’m writing through the discomfort.

Intimacy

Usually, when something in my life needs to be healed or resolved, it hits me from all angles. Everything around me becomes a reflection of living life under the influence of the particular wound or deficiency. The people in my life, the conversations, the shows or movies or books I’m drawn to – even what pops up in my web browser from the black hole of Google searches. Eventually I see it. Someone is not so gently nudging me. Hey you. Yeah, you. You need to look at this. If I don’t get the picture, then a little bit of pain, a tad of heartache will usually be invoked.

Recently, everything in my field of awareness is leading me to one of my most challenging obstacles – Intimacy.

I’m not sure whether intimacy is an innate or learned skill. Are we born with this ability to connect to another sentient being in the most vulnerable way? Or is intimacy something taught to us (or not) by our parents and our environment? I imagine in utero, we get our first taste of intimacy. We rely on another human for our very life. We have no choice. It’s either stay connected or die. I think the fact that women have the ability to physically tether themselves to another life may explain why we seem to crave intimacy more than men.

I also believe that if this inherent quality isn’t nurtured and reinforced through behaviors and surroundings from the day we are born, then we easily forget how to use it. Life sweeps in and hurts us. People break our hearts. We begin to erect barriers that thwart intimacy.

I can not speak definitively on this topic because it is an area in which I am blaringly flawed, especially when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. Sex is not the equivalent of intimacy. Just because you’re naked it does not mean you’re vulnerable. I should know. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced sex and intimacy at the same time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried after having sex with a man. Something gets touched, busted open – but I quickly shut it down. While I’m comfortable with men seeing my body, I’m not comfortable with men seeing ME.

The three most intimate words in the English language are not “I love you.” They are “I see you.”

I see you. You with your flaws and your fuck ups and your haven’t-quite-nailed-it yet. You with your wounds and your scars and your dis-ease that may never go away or be healed. You with your insecurities and your ugliness and your beauty and your light. All of it. I see you. AND I love you.

That scares the shit out of me. Intimacy doesn’t have room for judgment or blame. It doesn’t tolerate guilt or shame. It looks these in the eye and says “PFFFFT!” Swats them away like a fly.

I think when I’m able to look at myself without judgment or guilt or shame, then I’ll find someone who will do the same. And I’ll know what true intimacy is.

Until then, I practice. I practice with friends I trust. I practice with my kitty. (This one is easy!) I practice with dance. I practice with strangers now and again.

This is the good stuff. This is where it’s at. It scares me, but only because, like anything else scary, it’s unknown. Once I know it I imagine it will be sublime. And I’ll wonder why I waited so long to be anything but intimate.

 

 

Finding My Feminine

I was gladly traveling in London and Paris while the debacle of the Kavanaugh hearings were unfolding. I did not hear or see much of anything until one day I opened Facebook to a slew of posts referencing Kavanaugh’s impulsive and juvenile responses to the accusations from Dr. Ford. And in contrast, her cool, collected posture in the face of what was likely a pressure cooker. Watching just a half hour of the shit show was enough to bring me back to the reality of what’s happening in our society – at home and abroad.

Over the past year or so, I have chosen to, for the most part, stay silent concerning the #MeToo movement. With exception, when the movement began, I posted one blog about my own sexual assault while in college – a memory I had blocked until May of 2017. I have been marinating in the up and down emotions of that trauma ever since, attempting to shield myself from the outside influences from the hashtag movement. I wanted to go through my own healing process and come to my own understandings of how my story shaped my life and how I could learn and grow from the incident.

At first, I thought resurrecting and coming to terms with the events of the night of my assault was my solution – my key to freedom from a heaviness that weighed on my heart for over twenty years. And while I did feel a not insignificant load lift, the truth of what happened so many years ago simply nudged the door open, allowing a sliver of light in. It turned out to be just the beginning of what has been a consistent and growing understanding of the contrasting Masculine and the Feminine energies – in myself and the world.

Let me come clean – I am not a feminist. I have struggled with the #MeToo movement since it began. Something just hasn’t sat well with me. It seems to put women in the role of victim, taking men to task and retaliating at them for all the wrong they have done. Frankly, it feels like a lynching of the Masculine. The I am woman hear me roar voice stronger than ever, castrating anyone with a penis. “Time’s up” seems to be a masculine response to a masculine issue. In my opinion, women have far more to gain from an I am woman, watch me love and forgive battle cry.

I am by no means suggesting that women stay silent. We need to keep exposing all the dirty, ugly reality of the massive disrespect for the Feminine. But maybe we can focus less on the stories of what happened to us as women and more on what those stories are teaching us and how to heal and move forward.

I don’t believe we can simply stand on our Goddess podiums and point fingers. We need to turn some of this scrutiny on ourselves. When I realized how much I myself contributed to a society that values, above all, the shadow masculine qualities of power, achievement, prestige and social status, I cried for days.

I am the queen of take control of the situation and kick ass. Get it done because you can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you. But for the past 18 months or so, more and more, I’ve been forced to surrender. To find my strength not in fighting but in faith. To turn it over to something bigger than me. To find fluidity and dance with grace. To embrace my mercurial moods and shifts. To sit with myself – my Feminine self – over and over again and watch my own resistance to it. In a world that doesn’t seem to honor this way of operating, I continue to learn to embrace everything fluid and divinely Feminine about me. For She is a part of my essence, more than I could have ever imagined.

Yet everything I learned growing up became a shield to protect the sensitive, feminine, highly intuitive woman that’s always been inside me. I learned to play in the sandbox with the men – I was the ‘guy’s girl’. I drank beer. I watched football. I thought it was the only way to succeed. I wanted men’s attention, their praise. Simultaneously, I shunned women that were too ‘girly’. I dismissed many women as petty and jealous. I always ‘just got along better with the guys.’ This worked for a long time. Except in romantic relationships. Because I was a wounded female, I attracted wounded males, with a couple of exceptions. I tried to play the games these men would play but wasn’t very good at it. Mostly I got my heart broke.

As I began to dismantle the masks of masculinity that I wore, I uncovered more of who I truly was. Returning to my most authentic Feminine form has been and continues to be a lot of work. A lot of reprogramming. But I’m finding the more I honor and respect my Feminine the more I meet men willing to do the same. I’m learning not to hate men and expect the worse from them. I’ve begun to cut them some slack and allow them the space to heal, as I have needed to do the same for myself. At the same time I’m raising the bar a little higher than what previously has been acceptable in all of my relationships.

We need men and their ‘dude’ ways. The strength, stability, confidence and purpose a self realized man brings to the table is attractive. It’s valuable and it’s necessary. We need more of these ‘real men’ in the world and we need to help them get there by encouraging them to heal themselves and embracing them as they go through their own grieving process. The more we shame and degrade them, the more they will feel the need to ‘man up’ and defend themselves with the shadow side of the Masculine. The side that puts the accumulation of power, prestige and wealth on a pedestal.

Yes, men need to take responsibility for assaults and abuse they’ve perpetrated. Especially those that have taken advantage of their rank and position. However, women, so do we. How have we diminished the most beautiful and sacred Feminine qualities of ourselves to fit into this society? How have we stepped aside, stepped down and allowed it? How have we given away our power? And most importantly, where have we failed at honoring ourselves?

We don’t need to change the rules, ladies. We need to change the game. We can start with changing ourselves.

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