Today I'd like to veer off the foodie path to talk about physical, mental, and spiritual wholeness. I know, more hippie talk. I see some doubters out there rolling eyes...it's OK. You can look at the pretty food picture. ;-) (FYI...that lovely fruit salad is simply cantaloup, blueberries, walnuts, and mint. Try some. It's yummy!)
Now, let me begin with a confession. My name is Julie Lynn and I hate my body.
Not the strongest of children and teens, at 16 the doctor informed my father than my swollen, painful, fluid-fill knees were the result of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I spent years living in denial. Somehow I convinced myself that if I ignored the disorder it would go away. Mind you, we didn't know as much about RA back then as we do now (at my ripe old age of 47). My only "complaints" were painful, swelling joints that limited athletic activities and made me sport-shy. Little did I know that my tendency to wear out easily was part of the disorder.
As it does in so many young women anger, pain, and denial manifested in eating disorders . Starving or binging...it made no difference which...became a way for me to control my situation, my body, and myself (or so I thought). Of course, this was never successful. My body was never perfect, which only led to more self-loathing. A cycle of physical, mental, and spiritual self-torture set in - until I sought advice from elders who helped me to see that tormenting oneself would never lead to a positive outcome.
Over time I was able to stop plaguing myself with physical abuse, but never dealt with the issue of despising my physical body.
Later in life I tried to become Wonder Woman - giving birth to 5 very large babies (ranging from 10+ -12+ pounds each) at home with a midwife (wonderful experiences all...but physically taxing). Unable (and frankly, unwilling) to deliver the 6th at home and having bizarre complications, I ended up having an emergency c-section. Some of you may think it crazy...but I actually cried because I felt I had somehow failed. I even apologized to the Hubs, who smiled, wrapped me in his arms and told me that it was absolutely not my fault. Even so, upon returning home, I looked in the mirror and expressed anger and indignation to my reflection. My body had betrayed its owner once again. I cursed it, called it names, and labeled it a traitor. My flesh was disloyal. I knew it and everyone around me knew it. Never mind that I had 5 children under the age of 7, an 11 year old, and was homeschooling the lot of them. I believed I should have been able to "do it all" and was angry with myself when I felt worn out and inadequate.
As most of my loyal readers know, I eventually became fat and very sick, suffering from an assortment of ailments I felt powerless to fight. It was in some very dark physical and emotional days that I turned to a gluten-free vegan diet and began to heal. Losing weight and feeling pretty darned great, I was beginning to like this body. My energy was up for the first time in years. My face was clear and I actually liked that woman staring back at me in the mirror.
Then it happened. The Rheumatoid Arthritis, which has been in a state of near remission, kicked in again. The accusations against my fickle flesh began all over. Nodules began to appear on my hands and feet. New pains arose. I was mad as hell!
Through much research it became clear almost all of the ailments I'd suffered over the years were RA related. I simply had not know. Conventional treatment options and overall prognosis scared me. How could my body do this to me?
It was in the shower (where I do my best thinking) that I had an epiphany. I will never be physically or mentally healthy or spiritually whole as long as I hate my body. If I were to constantly berate another human being the way that I do myself that person would be devastated. What I thought of as only self-deprecation was really desecration of the holy temple in which my spirit is housed. And, let's face it, there is no peace of mind for anyone who hates...no matter where that hate is directed. In order become whole, I must love myself too.
When I came to this realization I knew it was important to share with all of you. I know there are some of you out there dealing with self-loathing, illness, and a general lack of peace. So, my friends, let's walk this path to wholeness together.
Here are the steps to wholeness that I am taking 1) Daily prayer and meditation 2) Nourishing the body with a green juice feast for 90 days - followed by a live raw food, gluten-free vegan diet 3) Practicing gratitude 4) Verbalizing something positive about my physical self every day 5) Gentle movement - Pilates, Yoga, walking, etc. 6) Creating a peaceful environment 7) Creating opportunities for laughter every day 8) Giving and receiving love and physical touch daily 9) Reaching out to help others in need
What are you doing to create wholeness in your life? Any suggestions for things to add to my list?