Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Unicorn's Journey Toward Enlightenment

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a R E A L L Y long blog about the Rebel & Muse yoga retreat I attended (you can read that HERE).  I feel like my posts in general lately have been following a new path.  I wanted to talk about my journey and how I ended up where I am today.

I feel like I didn't wake up until I was probably 38 years old -- about three years ago.  I hadn't taken great care of my body, mind or spirit for most of my life, and it was time to start making myself a priority. 

In 2004, I weighed almost 350 pounds and had gastric bypass to lose weight.  Although I got down to 180 pounds, I ended up with a lot of health issues related to mal-absorption.  I also never learned how to deal with my un-diagnosed eating disorder, and losing my ability to self-medicate with food pushed me into a very bad place.  I started taking anti-depressants, started gaining weight, and felt like I was essentially un-doing the surgery.  I started the yo-yo weight loss/gain again.  Up to 220 pounds.  Down to 200.  Back up.  Back down.  The pendulum was really starting to swing.

In 2014, I started working with Ellen on my health issues (my first blog about it can be found HERE).  Working with Ellen has been life changing because she understood my issues (even if she has been frustrated by my snail's pace).  I do have disordered eating issues.  I can't just cut every "bad" food out of my life at once.  It would trigger a binge that would have me gaining weight at a ridiculous rate.  She has been extremely patient and has helped me significantly cut the amount of sugar I ingest, and convinced me to go gluten-free earlier this year to help with my psoriasis (you can read that HERE).  I have gone from 263 pounds (in 2013) to 226 pounds today (I haven't been this weight since 2009).  Although the goal was never to lose weight (it was always about bettering my health), the weight just came off as I made healthier choices.  I also stopped guilting and shaming myself when I made "bad" choices, or for how my body looked (and tried to stop assigning "good" or "bad" descriptions to food in general).  Honestly, that is probably equally as responsible for helping me lose weight as eating better foods.  I never "dieted" or restricted calories.  I never felt hungry.  I just existed, ate higher quality food, and increased my "good fat" intake.  I also take the supplements that Ellen suggested.  I have never felt better.  Step one.

Step two.  I had a bit of a spiritual awakening in probably 2015.  I grew up in a religious household and am not a fan of organized religion.  I have always been open to spirituality, but didn't embrace it until more recently -- as I figured out how to separate spirituality from man-made religion.  I choose to believe that we are all connected in the Universe.  And I believe we get back what we put out into the Universe.  If I am stressing and angry and negative, I feel like I get more negativity back.  But if I use positive thinking, mindfulness, meditation, journaling, yoga, being aware of (and dealing with) my feelings as they happen (instead of stuffing them), I am better able to handle more difficult times.  Jade has been a huge help in this department.  She has helped me keep my shit together (or held my hand as I lost my shit for a period of time) on more occasions than I can count.  I will forever be grateful for her friendship and her love (and her patience, because, honestly, I would have punched me in the face a long time ago). 

Is that a unicorn horn in your pants or are you just happy to see me?!
I make a huge effort every day to wake up and list the things for which I am grateful.  My family.  My friends.  My health.  A fun job.  A place to live.  Food on the table.  Adventures.  All the basics, but really I spend the most time appreciating the blessings in my life -- the awesome people.  I also end each evening this way.  I journal as well.  Sometimes I talk about good things.  Sometimes I talk about frustrations.  I actually have two journals going now.  One is my general go-to journal.  The other is my 108 Day Rituals for Transformation.  I love this journal because it has a theme for the day.  You read it, meditate on it, write an affirmation for the day (which I enter into my calendar on my phone with reminders a few times that day), then you have two journaling sections: one for the morning and the other for the evening (encouraging you to show gratitude for what you learned that day).  I am about half way through and I feel like it truly helps me start (and end) each day right. 

In relationships, I have been a serial monogamist.  I spent six years with someone in my late teens to early 20's.  I spent four and a half years with someone in my late 20's to early 30's.  I then spent six years of my 30's with my third long term boyfriend.  Never once was marriage even a consideration with any of these men.  Each of them was (obviously) the wrong person and there were red flags early on that I ignored.  I could spend time being upset that I "wasted" time with them, but I find it easier to see the lessons I learned and applied to my next relationship.  I have certainly grown with each one.  I can  honestly say that I woke up and the almost year and a half that I spent in my last "relationship" was the happiest and most rewarding, even if he still wasn't "the one."  It actually probably taught me the most of any of my previous relationships -- not just about what I don't want in a relationship, but what I do want.  And that's because I truly allowed myself to feel.  I spent a lot of years stuffing my feelings with food or shopping or other addictions.  I could allow myself to feel anger, but that was about it.  I feel like recognizing what I need out of a relationship, and what I have to offer as a partner, setting boundaries and speaking up about my expectations was step three in my transformation. 

One of my recent journal prompts talked about accepting that we are all perfect.  Ugh.  I have spent so much time telling myself we aren't perfect and that's ok!  No one is perfect.  Life isn't perfect.  But what if that's how it's all supposed to go, which does make it perfect.  Perfectly imperfect if that will help me accept it. 

I'm really in a good place right now.  The pieces of the puzzle are snapping together and, although my puzzle is still being solved, the clues are more clear and I'm finding my pieces faster.  I want to thank everyone who has been part of my journey.  I truly understand now that life IS a journey.  I know it seems so cliche, but it's so true.  I can only move forward from here, there is no reason to move backwards, and I am extremely excited about what the future holds for me.  And you.  We are all in this together. 

Some photos throughout my life (the making of a Unicorn):

1977 - forever a nudist

Approx. 1986

Approx. 1994

Approx. 2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2009

2010

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2017

2017

2017

2017

2017

2017

2017

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