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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

30 Days of Kindness to My Husband And More

I wrote my memoir Starving Girl in 30 days.  I didn’t think it could be done, after all, I’d spent years and years writing my other books, many of which were still unfinished.  What was different about Starving Girl?  I created an exciting dramatic experience in my own life and the story line followed.  

The bottom line was I needed a challenge, presented in my day-to-day living.  Something big enough to inspire me into a new exciting reality.  With that in mind, I started on my next 30-day challenge.  Why 30 days?  Because 30 days is a good base number to form a new habit. (Read here for more ideas about that). 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband was born. 

Like my first 30 days of fasting, 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband was thrilling, but the story behind it was more subtle than 30 days of fasting.  It started first with intention and in a beautiful dance of will, my actions followed.  From day one, I say my husband Derek different.  He was my focus and like a flame in the darkness, I became more aware of his presence.  My every day actions became more narrowed on him.  Before, I’d rush through conversations, a sort of “Get to the point,” perspective.  After all, I’m a busy girl and if I allowed it, our dialogue could be all business:  What are the kid’s schedules?  Who’s picking which kid up where?  Did you call the plumber?  Did you see where I put my shoes?  A marriage should not be a business partnership, even if only for moments at a time.

My husband is such a gift.  In a world full of ill intended, even arrogant men, he is a serving, loving, adorable gem.  I didn’t mean to take him for granted, but I did.  So how did writing keep me on task to change my habits?

It started with my wedding photos.  I pulled out my wedding album and randomly started looking at us.  This was going to be fun.

During my 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband, I found clues everywhere suggesting I could do better as a wife and kept mental notes.  So many aspects of me had slipped, including my patience.  Quick wit could be one of my literal gifts, but over the years it had turned into unintended insults and my tongue snapped like fingers at a jazz concert.  I didn’t mean to be so opinionated, but wasn’t it obvious I knew better.  Small tasks like driving turned into me offering suggestions and pointing out discrepancies.  Just wanting to help was an unnecessary evil.  If I had not set my goal to put kindness first, I’m not sure I would have noticed Derek’s larger-the-life patience, his awareness of my needs, the children’s needs and the purposeful way he provides for our family.    

            I started to see the story everywhere because Derek and I were the story.  His voice became more pronounced and I noticed his deep tones.  One night, when he reached for my hand, I actually had butterflies in my stomach and it reminded me of the romance we’d experience while dating.  I started sending him texts like “I love you” and “Hurry home.”  Always full of compliments, Derek would tell me I’m beautiful and I actually started listening to him.  His words meant something and if he spoke it, I respected him.  After a week of this, I finally felt the pure joy of his compliments.  The words “You’re beautiful,” entered my mind with such love, I could feel my perspective shift.  I was becoming how he saw me.  

With little effort, but a great big thing called intention, I had changed so much.  I loved who I’d become.  My need to be heard and be right all the time had gone away.  In its place was more trust, patience and love. I was surrounded by goodness and practically tripping over my blessings.  Derek’s love for me was life-changing and it was about time I took notice.

The last weekend of the 30-day challenge, Derek was out of town and I missed him terribly.  I thought of those who have long-distance relationships or couples who live apart because of military service.  How did they do it?  Like while fasting, I kept myself busy with the baby and household projects.  That night, I put the baby on my bed to change him into his pajamas when I noticed it – a yellow rose on my pillow.  My story unfolded again and the depth of love in my life was almost more than I could handle.  Derek’s presence was everywhere and I took this beautiful symbol of love to heart.  I would never go back to who I was before the 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband.  Kindness was the gift that kept giving.  How was I going to keep up with all the love coming back to me?  Now that was a challenge I could handle. 

The last day of the 30 Days of Kindness to My Husband, I did something I hadn’t expected.  I said to Derek, “I’m sorry.”  With tears in my eyes, I asked for his forgiveness.  Like a giant teddy bear, he wrapped me up in his arms and told me that was unnecessary.  He didn’t need me to apologize.  I was his perfect wife and he saw me for all the good I was.  Even still, I needed to say it and now, I’m on a new, fresh path in my relationship with my man.  

Now, in this world of girl-power and modern-day feminism, I’m sure somebody could read about my experience and deem me subservient and passive, but let me assure you this is not the case.  Girl power is wonderful, but not when used to dominate.  Feminism is important, but there is still a certain grace we as women carry that needs to be accentuated, not squandered. 

For the last ten years, Derek has taken me on a date almost every weekend.

The truth is, being a writer I've create worlds and stories in my mind, but living out these experiences, even these challenges is something I’m just now realizing I can be doing all the time.  I have loved the new windows of exploration, the journaling and watching the story unfold.  My next 30-day challenge, 30 Days of Service Toward My Children.  During Christmas time, this is going to be uniquely special.  I can hardly wait to get started.   Who’s with me?  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Where Would I Be If Others Would Not Have Risen

10 ½ months of intermittent fasting, and my life is totally different than it was before.  

Dancing with my nieces at my nephew's wedding.

Three distinct things have changed:

1) I have learned to live in the present.  It’s not a perfect science and there are times I still struggle with procrastination or rush, but if I stray, I recognize it and through gratitude (and sometimes hunger), can bring myself back.  I think of others more.  I have fought the good fight and the pressure to feel sorrow for myself or to think I can’t do something difficult has diminished tremendously.  

2) My inner-voice speaks to me with love and patience. Again, not a perfect science, but no longer do I have a negative inner-dialogue.  It’s as if my soul and physical self are finally in alignment. Yeah, they love me!!  I love me!

3)  Food has fallen down the list of priorities and I’m eating for my physical health, not for my emotional needs.  If it wasn’t for intermittent fasting and prayer, I would still be stuck in a mind and body that was doing its best, but most days found ways to sabotage my success. I’ve recognized food addiction and negative body image and because of prayer, could tackle these huge obstacles with success.  Because of this, I've lost weight.

A key component to my experience has been the words and testimonies of others.  I’ve read the scriptures, talks by my church leaders and personal experience from those who’ve over come all sorts of obstacles.  Between my daily runs/walks and time in the car, I have met some amazing friends through YouTube and other audio sources including authors, motivational speakers, spiritual leaders and entrepreneurs.

So meaningful have these relationships become, so necessary where they to lift me up, so essential to my own personal growth and well-being, I had to finally ask: where would I be if others would not have risen?  What if Oprah Winfrey would have decided, “You know what, it’s just too hard.”  What if Corrie ten Boom, author of The Hiding Place would have thought, “My story isn’t that important.  Who am I to think I can write?”  What about Elizabeth Gilbert?  Had she blocked her creative energy I would have never been able to listen to the incredible Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear.   And Brene Brown, her ability to see how shame and vulnerability co-exist to make us stronger.   Tig Notaro, an incredibly talented comediam, Ann Lamott and her memoir Bird by Bird, and Mary Karr and her book called The Art of Writing Memoir.  Cheryl Strayed wrote her story Wild almost 20 years after she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  What if all these talented people would have given up or not even tried?  My mom has been most influential as well as my author friends.  I had the opportunity to meet Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight and I could have cried.  

Actually, I did cry when she walked out on stage.  Her creativity ability is so inspiring and I’ve listened to her interviews as well.  Mother Teresa, Lila Rose, Martin Luther King, Abby Johnson, Reggie Littlejohn, various people who spoke on TED talks on and on these beautiful people, and others, rose to their creative challenge and came alive. If not for them, I would not have healed.  I needed constant companionship along this journey through stories, personal experiences, music, art work and motivational talks.  Thank you.

If you have something to say, say it.  Be brave.  Share your truth.  Come forward.  Take a stand.  Be more than you ever thought possible.  Take risks.  Be vulnerable because I need it.  I need to hear more, be inspired every day, learn and grow from you.  I love stories.  I need stories.  I need you.

I hope my memoir Starving Girl helps others.  

Availabe on Amazon and Kindle.

I know it’s helped me.  Fasting pushed me out of my comfort zone and onto a path of fulfilling my life’s dreams.  

Find it on youtube by clicking here.

I could not have down it without the help of others, many I may never have the chance to thank personally. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Loving My Baby Is My Perfect Expression

I know I’m not the only one who sometimes needs someone to hold on to.  Having my baby Canyon in my arms, rocking him to sleep, playing, giggling, comforting him when he’s hurt, all these experiences literally change me physically.  I can feel it.  A part of me grows and stretches yet also feels secure, validated and incredibly loved. 

Sometimes I feel expressions of joy and gratitude to such an extent that I actually need a baby to kiss.  There is this desire to express myself through loving and taking care of him.  Mothering him is my expression.  His perfect head has received too many kisses to count.  His little body, the way he wraps it around my hips when I jolt out the door, how he fits so perfectly into my arms like a jockey ridding a rickety horse, I just love every minute of it. 

He has started kissing me and those kisses are full of drool, but also an innocent passion.  He loves me without words, only through actions.  He kisses me with eyes wide open, his little pouty breath warming my cheeks and we lock lips.  I tend to be a worrier, a bit scatter-brained, overly optimistic, have high expectations of myself, am task minded and on and on.  This little baby makes me be present, grateful and focused on giant moments of split-second heart-warming experiences. 

He’s a baby.  My baby.  I paid such a price for him.  At first, I didn’t think I could take on such a task of another baby, and here’s what I have to say to anyone considering an abortion, please hang on.  I promise, with all the complications and personal obstacles, with all the work and uncertainty, to get one of those kisses from my baby I paid such a high price for, it is worth it.  Even as he sleeps, I watch and wait, ready for more of everything he has to offer.  From his articulate baby babble to the primal way he needs me, if my arms were empty I would be searching my entire life to fill them with something meaningful.  A baby is impossible to replace.

Don’t let the world tell you anything is more important than your baby.  I’ve had more help with this baby than any of my other children.  People step up.  I could never do it alone.  I have teenagers and a baby and everything between. Raising teenagers while raising a baby is like steering a ship while piloting a plane, but each child plays a critical, perfect role in our family.

My husband and my kids are the number one reason this baby is so happy and well-adjusted.  They are constantly reaching out to him.  Each has there own “special”games, songs and experiences.  I could never provide the education, life lessons and personal development to my older kids the way this baby does.  

He’s our family’s peacemaker.  We all strive to be better and do more because of him.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I wondered what type of child I would have, how I would learn and grow from such a life-changing experience.  At times, I was discouraged and didn't see how it would all work out.  I’ve read, re-read and loved Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  If you have not read these books, you need to.  They are so rich with enormous wisdom and highly entertaining.  I have been listening to their on-line lectures and a theme I’m finding is in order to grow, you have to get out of your comfort zone.

I can’t travel to Italy, India and Indonesia.  I can’t hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  Little did I know having Canyon would be my 1,200 mile hike and my year-long international travel.   Canyon would push me out of my comfort zone.

My baby is my Mt. Everest, with all the training, dreams, set-backs, visions, occasional oxygen mask and life-changing accomplishment that comes with it.  At the peak, he is my beautiful view of the world of the world, my breath-taking scenery and the wind blowing through my hair.  He is my PhD, my higher education and confirmed thesis. 

The world tries to convince women they can only do one or the other. Since I’ve had this baby, I’ve written a memoir, taken charge of my health, gone cliff-jumping, signed up for comedy/improv classes and more.  I did not have to choose between my baby and other experiences life has to offer.  I can do both.

A baby is worth it.  A living, breathing, one-of-a-kind baby is more dynamic and diverse than any experience the world has to offer.  My baby makes me better.  My baby is my beautiful teacher.  My baby smiles and I have seen heaven.  When we dance, when we cuddle, when he toddles towards me with an open picture book I feel a love that expands the cells in my body.  Breathing reminds me I’m having a physical experience, but the love I feel insists the experience is much, much bigger.  

Click here to see it on youtube.

Click here to see it you youtube.

Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Finally Here - Jester Z Improv Night

Tuesday, November 8 will be a good day to laugh. 
I've learned how to be more spontaneous, lighten up and think outside the box.  
Thank you Jester Z, it's been so much fun.

Tomorrow's the big day. Tuesday, November 8th will go down in history as the day I did my first stand-up comedy act. I know, I know, nothing else is going on, so come to my FREE event at Jester Z. 7:00pm. No excuses.

Jester Z is located at Mesa Riverview, 1061 N Dobson Rd #114, Mesa, AZ 85201 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Day I Wore A Belt

When we were in Flagstaff this summer, I did something I never thought I’d do again.  I wore a belt. 

The “belt-wearing experience” was one of the many celebrations I’ve had on my journey of intermittent fasting.  It’s symbolic of a much greater blessing. 

In my book Starving Girl – my 30-day experience with the miracle of intermittent fasting and prayer, I write about the moment I realized my belly fat was taking over my life. 

My baby was about six months old and I was in the place where I could still make excuses to myself.  Yes, I was unhappy, unhealthy and living in denial, but I’d just had a baby.  Deep down, I knew there was nothing I could or would ever do about my belly fat.  Nothing in my closet fit, except if it was stretchy.  I sang praises to the yoga waistband, the clothing that made me feel like I was going to work out at any minute, even if I didn’t. 

It was during this time I had an encounter with my belly fat.  It was heartbreaking to realize how out of control I was.  It’s no surprise this experience started at Goodwill.  I wrote: 

At Goodwill, I walked over to the jeans rack.  With high hopes, I scanned through the jeans.  I was looking for specific qualities.  The jeans had to be stretchy, low rise and fabulously trendy.  I found three pair that looked like they should fit, and purchased them.  Later that night when everyone had gone to bed, I went into the bathroom and tried on the jeans.  In the mirror I stared, horrified the first pair didn’t even fit over my hips.  It was like my stomach and rear end were having a battle of the bulge contest.  Sure, I was aware my stomach had issues but my backside too?  Ok, I could handle this.  Sometimes sizes ran small, and I convinced myself this was the problem.  I tried on the second pair and wiggled, stretching and pulling, until they barely moved past my hips.  The button and buttonhole were nearly a foot apart.  I thought of the construction equipment that dug up and rebuilt roads.  It would take the chains and hook of such equipment to bring the zipper and button together.  Another hit and miss, but the last pair, the biggest pair I’d found, had the best stretch in the fabric. I pulled the tight material up my thighs.  I sucked in air and postured my body straight and stiff, pulling at the zipper as it reluctantly inched up.  Although I felt my back jar out of alignment, I continued.  I was going to win this battle or lose my mind.  The button dug into my thumb and forefinger as I manipulated it into the buttonhole. I’d done it.  The jeans fit.  Never mind the enormous fat and skin from my belly that hung over the jeans like an udder from under a cow’s belly.  With the jeans forcing my belly fat “up and out,” I lifted it with my hands, amazed it moved, pliable like stretched taffy.  My belly fat—why was it there?  Why did it need to be there?  How had I acquired it?  Should I name it?  Was it always going to be there?  Every other part of my body had purpose, but the belly fat had absolutely no purpose.  Yet there it sat, overflowing out of my hands like an Italian chef kneading pizza dough.  How many shabby chic dressers would I need to sell to pay for a tummy tuck?  Out of my peripheral vision, my rear end waved. “What about me?” it seemed to say.      
These were the three jeans that had been taunting me ever since.  Of course I’d never worn them, and I was too unorganized to take them back to Goodwill, but it was more than that.  I wasn’t going to let them win.  I had not known how or when, but the jeans were going down, so I’d kept them.   

I’m happy to say after just a couple of weeks of intermittent fasting, all the jeans from this horrible experience fit. After three months of intermittent fasting, the same jeans (and many more) were donated to the thrift store because they were too big. 

Donated jeans.

Going through my closet, giving away clothes that don't fit anymore.

Now, every time I wear a belt, I feel an enormous amount of gratitude.  

Well, there's that belt again!

My journey with intermittent fasting is far from over. but this small victory means my belly fat didn't win.

Here's my before and after picture of my journey, so far.