Intentions > Resolutions

intention

So I was listening to a podcast yesterday…

(Random side-note: 90% of my sentences begin with that conversation opener. I have a podcast problem, deal with it).

But I digress…the theme of this podcast episode was all about New Year’s resolutions. Groundbreaking stuff, right? It’s not like we just entered 2018 or anything. And here’s another bombshell—more often than not, resolutions don’t even work.

*Cue the collective gasp track.*

Not that it’s a shock to anyone who’s, oh I don’t know, made a resolution at some point, but the excitement and motivation tend to fizzle out after awhile. Once that novelty of goal-setting wears off, most of us find ourselves back at the status quo with a nagging sense of regret or an “ehhh I tried” kind of attitude. We humans are creatures of habit—we resist change, avoid the uncertain, question the unfamiliar.

It’s our struggle. And it’s real.

But now that we’ve established “resolution” carries an undertone of failure, how about a different approach? What if we used another word instead? Like “intention” maybe.

Does a shift in language matter though? Is there some nugget of nuance to extract between the lines? Umm…I think so anyway.

A resolution is expected or obliged.

An intention feels softer, gentler, more mindful somehow.

A resolution has no margin for error.

An intention creates the space to just learn as we go along.

To accept that mistakes happen but only define us if we give permission.

To honor the process of growth and renewal.

To be transformed with a loving touch on the inside, rather than browbeating ourselves into “doing better” on the outside.

One is a performance. The other is a lifestyle. One confines. The other sustains. One is action-oriented. The other is soul-centered.

I picture intention as a creative force. A conscious, dynamic burst of awakening. The genesis of every dream or desire. This might sound too meta for some, but I believe the human experience is rooted in spirituality. And we need to nourish this corner of the triangle (mind, body, spirit) before the wildest, fiercest, bravest, messiest, rawest, truest, fullest expression of ourselves can break through.

So this year, I’m issuing a new challenge to myself—acknowledge the intent behind the resolve. If my goal is to workout more often, for instance (which is an absurd goal since I already workout like it’s my job), rather than just increasing miles, weights or repetitions, I need to investigate what’s fueling this urgency.

Do I have an impulse to exercise because I want to feel active, energized and healthy?

Or could I be using exercise to “outrun” the fear that who I am will never be enough?

9 times out of 10, it’s the latter. In which case, the most beneficial strides toward self-improvement won’t take place through fitness. Resolving to workout more can medicate the symptom. Yeah, sure…of course it can. But the heart-issue will go untreated. And love, impact, art, service—they won’t sprout from a fissured heart.

Instead of focusing all my efforts on the physical, what if I tried setting my intentions on the spiritual? Choosing to affirm that I am enough without “fixing” my appearance to prove it? Now that would be a radical shift. Downright crazy. Weird and wonderful. A pattern of living disrupted. A comfort zone flipped on its head.

But hey, comfort zones are so 2017. Moving forward, I’d rather be soft and intentional. Not stiff and resolute.

So on that note…hello, 2018!

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What Do I Want?

It seems like the most basic of questions. But to me, it’s loaded. And it’s something I’ve been asking myself on repeat lately.

More like forcing myself to ask. Because the deeper I probe into the motives, rhythms, choices and beliefs that compel my actions, the harder it feels to reckon with the truth of what I’m finding.

The truth inside me.

The truth I’ve been denying. The truth I’ve been suppressing. The truth I’ve been ignoring. The truth of who I’ve become.

Someone who prioritizes a fleeting gratification over an abiding source of fulfillment and purpose. Who gravitates toward selfish, lustful appetites instead of compassionate service to others. Who withdraws behind the security of pretense but misses the beauty, intensity and ferocity of relationships. Who settles for this mediocre “half-life” while rejecting the invitation to come undone and come alive.

These truths are uncomfortable to admit. And downright scary to expose in writing. My hands will freeze over the “publish” button for a solid five minutes before posting this. I guarantee it. So what’s the point? Why bother disclosing the naked underbelly of my soul? Who needs to know? Who’s going to care?

Ahem…the answer is simple. need to know, and need to care. Not just facing the discomfort, but talking it out—that’s how accountability and honesty are learned. It’s the exact same concept as muscle memory during a workout. The more a behavior is perpetuated, the more it distorts into reflex. Second nature. Identity.

When it’s no longer a behavior but a dependence, I can’t skirt around the issue anymore. I have to recognize that a fractured spirit isn’t mended through silence and artifice—but through peeling off the withered husk, so newness can sprout from the rubble. I need a different form of muscle memory built on awkward, clumsy decisions that seem counterintuitive but lead to a strength I never imagined.

I need the sunlight to burst my heart into flames. And in that furnace, I need to finally breathe again.

So what do I want…?

The clarity is unmistakable. I want 2018 to be a year of freedom, healing and redemption. I want to start choosing life. And not just from the safe distance of words on a keyboard—although for me, that’s where all the best discoveries begin.

typewriter

The Breakthrough.

flight

I am the raven orbiting in aerospace

Above the earth, above the human race.

My shadow smeared upon the mountain peak

Like a feathered kiss on that snow-white cheek.

Sometimes I wander too close to the sunrise

Enough to feel that fire in its eyes.

Singed by the heat but lost in my reverie

Heedless to pain until it consumes me.

I freefall alone at the edge of the world

Wings thrash the air—wild, frantic, unfurled.

It’s a desperate, feral, impassioned last stand

But solo flights are doomed for a crash-land.

The wind chokes out my voice and strangles my soul

All that remains is a fleck of the whole.

A body deprived of its essence within

A counterfeit creature of bone and skin.

I comb the horizon for my saving grace

Some foothold to grasp, some faith to embrace.

I roam the hinterlands with compass unclear

Direction obscured, sight darkened by fear.

The summit ahead and the valley behind

Keep me hemmed in their resounding divide.

One urges me forward on two broken wings

The other croons, “pause…rest…heal your heartstrings.

The summit proclaims a hero’s arrival

But from the valley dawns a revival.

A hurried ascent leaves you panting for breath

But stillness draws strength from innermost depth.”

So I’m just an arrow in the archer’s hand

Ready to soar at his trusted command.

My feathers catch daylight, my aim flashes true

First comes the waiting—and then the breakthrough.

 

 

 

And then You Feel Alive

Sometimes it seems this wound might never heal. Sometimes it feels this pain could last an eternity and more.

Then other times, you find yourself barefoot and lounging in the bed of a rusted ’99 pickup truck, gazing at the infinite expanse of black, losing count of all the stars. There’s a warm breeze on your face, a pulse in your chest, a world at your fingertips.

It’s those quiet moments—strung together like beads of rain, prisms of light or fractals of snow—that remind you life isn’t over.

While your lungs still draw their treasured breath, while your heart still drums its velvet cadence, you realize there’s a purpose to the cosmos. You sense it’s not through random occurrence or chance encounter that you exist in one minuscule fissure of it all.

And then, you feel alive.

When It Starts to Feel Dark, I Need to Create. So, Here’s a Poem.

This Soul

 this soul of mine.

                                          blinded by the sun.

                                             curtained by the moon.

               this soul of mine.

                                          pierced by tongues.

                                battered by lies.

               this soul of mine.

                                          silenced by fear.

                                    mocked by regret.

               this soul of mine.

                                          drenched by the rain.

                                          hurled by the wind.

               this soul of mine.

                                          roped by the siren.

                                          enticed by the wolf.

               this soul of mine.

                                          taunted by danger.

                                              abandoned by refuge.

               this soul of mine.

                                          scorched by the desert.

                                              jarred by the current.

               this soul of mine.

                                          grazed by the rocks.

                                                  shadowed by the peaks.

               this soul of mine.

                                          inspired by strength.

                                               haunted by weakness.

               this soul of mine.

                                          bewitched by the skies.

                                           upheld by the earth.

               this soul of mine.

                                           pursued by the wilds.

                                                 anointed by renegades.

                 this soul of mine.

                                            compelled by true north.

                                                  urged on by the waves.

                 this soul of mine.

                                             refined by the fire.

                                               baptized by the tears.

                 this soul of mine.

                                              sustained by courage.

                                                    anchored by endurance.

                 this soul of mine.

                                              created by mess.

                                        unfettered by art.

                 this soul of mine.

                                              toughened by the pain.

                                                  softened by the beauty.

                 this soul is mine.

inner peace

 

 

Eating Disorders Hate the Word “Healthy,” So It’s Time for a New Definition

weight is not worth

“You look so healthy!”

It’s a well-intentioned phrase that friends or family members use to express their approval and relief when someone they love begins to heal from an eating disorder.

There’s just one problem though. To those in recovery, “health” is not a compliment. What is meant as sincere affirmation of the positive strides being taken, the eating disordered mentality interprets and internalizes as proof of a changing body that no longer fits the ideal.

From this perspective, “healthy” equals “overweight.” And “overweight” equals “failure.” Eating disorders thrive off a need for control and rigidity. The illness requires an excessive degree of time, effort and self-restraint. It’s demanding, uncompromising, all-consuming work.

For those caught within its grasp, the eating disorder is an identity, the area they excel in, a “superhuman” strength. Their concept of health has become so distorted, they associate it with mediocrity—a direct violation of the uniqueness they crave.

Reframing the context of healthy:

In the beginning stages of my own recovery process, I encountered the “h-word” constantly which reinforced all the fears and suspicions that my “perfect body” was gone. I had grown accustomed to measuring success based on thinness and didn’t understand the reality of this new message other people were sending me.

I heard, “You’re fat.”

They meant, “Your skin isn’t rough. Your eyes aren’t hollow. Your cheeks aren’t sunken. Your hair isn’t brittle. Your posture isn’t hunched. Your arms aren’t wiry. Your smile isn’t forced. You look more alive.”

So when I reached a state of awareness and receptiveness to the truth behind that word, I began to realize our weight-obsessed culture is in desperate need of a new definition.

First of all…

Health is not a euphemism for “guess what…that ‘thing’ you used to be awesome at—well, you’re not anymore.” 

Health is not a result of losing control over yourself or the behaviors which took you such a long time to cultivate.  

And here’s what else it’s not… 

Health is not spending hours on the treadmill or in the weight-room.

Health is not eating meals that consist of just quinoa, kale and chia seeds.

Health is not allowing a number on the scale to dictate your happiness.

Health is not indulging in dessert then inflicting punishment afterward.

Health is not using exercise for the sole purpose of burning calories.

Health is a holistic fusion of the mind, body and spirit. Health is finding balance. Health is moving because the body is designed to—not because it should conform to an external standard. Health is eating nutritious foods but not being afraid to share Chinese take-out with your friends. Health is not determined by weight or appearance.

Health is wholeness.

Health is vitality.

Let’s Cut the Crap with Some Updates & Real Talk…

Hi. *waves awkwardly* Yeah, that seems like a good place to start.

This morning it occurred to me that I’ve been radio silent on here for almost three months. That’s a new record. One I’m not thrilled about…but the break was necessary.

Here’s a thing you should know: I wasn’t being my authentic self in the posts I was writing. It happens. But that doesn’t make it okay. And it’s not the writer—or person—I want to be.

On this blog, I preach about self-discovery, self-care, self-acceptance, self-love. I get on my virtual soapbox and pound the keyboard with messages like, “You’re more than just a body. And don’t let our culture tell you otherwise. Be unique! Be diverse! Be weird! Society could use more free-spirits like you.”

And yeah…that’s cool and stuff. If you believe it. If you live it out. Which I can admit was not the case for me. After all, what benefit is a motivational speech if my own words never transcend the computer screen and saturate my heart?

They mean nothing. They ring hollow. They sound fake.

So it took awhile, but I realized this. I came face-to-face with the denial and deceit. And it just plain sucked. But I couldn’t maintain the facade anymore, so I made a choice. Until I could write the truth, I wasn’t going to write. Zilch. Nada. Period.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what is true…I am not healthy. I don’t have a balanced, sustainable grasp on fitness and nutrition. I restrict food and workout obsessively. During the past few months, I almost fainted three times. I punished a body I was supposed to be caring for, and it collapsed under the abuse. I was reckless and self-absorbed—with no concern for the ramifications.

But I have to tell you: that’s no way to live. It’s exhausting, isolating, confining, disengaging. There’s no spark of interest, excitement or spontaneity. The world has no color. Only shades of black-and-white. I figured this out…and something had to give.

So I’m trying a different approach. One I flirted with in the past but never surrendered to. I’m choosing to accept my human frailties. To affirm they exist. Not use them as justification to hurt myself. To change what needs changing, but extend grace in the process.

I’m doing hard things. Scary things. Painful things.

Last week, I ate a doughnut—my first since around age 12—and went into panic attack mode right afterward. But I survived the trauma. A few nights ago, I cried when faced with a slice of Domino’s pizza—and I’m talking ugly tears. But I ingested it. Every carb-loaded bite, and I’m still here.

This sounds melodramatic. Oh trust me, I’m aware. But it’s the journey I have to walk in this particular season, and if it seems theatrical, crazy or ridiculous…that’s fine with me. The goal is honesty which sometimes feels more like absurdity. But I’m through pretending and performing. Right now, I just want to be human.

Flawed. Broken. Erratic. Unsure.

But not beyond repair.

eating a doughnut

the infamous doughnut, you guys. smiling on the outside, convulsing on the inside. it’s how I do.