Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh My God, What Does It Mean?

We got our first real spring shower today (that I count, anyway, since it didn't turn to snow).  I saw a rainbow over our house afterward - a full rainbow, all the colours.

It wasn't double but I smiled as I thought of the guy from the video who was so overwhelmed by his rainbow that he didn't know whether to laugh or cry, and sounded like he did both at once.

Rainbows are kind of overwhelming.  They're beautiful and ethereal and while I understand the science behind them they kind of defy logic to me as well.

That's kind of all I have to say.  Not a long post, but it wasn't a terribly deep thought.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Spoke Too Soon

Remember when I wrote about sugar a few weeks ago?  And I said that while I definitely had physical reactions to sugar (congestion, sore throat, etc.) I appeared not to react emotionally?


I spoke too soon.

I’ve since discovered that sugar gives me a flash of a good mood and then, the next day, turns me into an irritable bitch.


I told my mother this, and she laughed.  It’s bizarre to be able to relate about an addiction.

Yes, I said it.

I’m addicted to sugar.

I drink pop like an alcoholic drinks booze.  I crave chocolate to the point of distraction.  I sneak candy like a boozer would sneak a gulp of vodka.

I would say I hate it, but I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s even true.

I’d say that it’s different from alcoholism in that it’s a biochemical addiction, not an emotional addiction, but I don’t know enough about it to know if that’s true or not.  Talking to my mom, it sounds like once you get the biochemistry balanced the rest falls into place.  As she put it - “I just forgot to eat sugar.”  I can hardly believe it - forgot to eat sugar?  Seriously?


The upside is that if my mom - who is a recovering alcoholic and a recovering sugar addict - can kick two addictions, I sure as hell can kick one.

The sugar addicts program only has 7 steps too.

My problem is that I want to do all 7 steps at once.  I asked my mom how long it took her to do all 7.  She said, “About a year and a half.”


She said I’m not the first one to look at the list and say, “I can do all that starting next week!”

She also said not to cut sugar cold turkey; to start by reading The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Plan; and to be gentle with myself.  Heaping judgement on my head won’t help me heal my body.

So that’s what I’m going to do.

Starting today.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Unpleasant Revelations

Last September I went to an Arbonne training conference known as CNTC.  One of the speakers there was a man named John C. Maxwell.  He's a leadership expert and does a lot of speaking engagements where he teaches people how to become better leaders.

What he had to say intrigued me enough to ask for a few of his books for Christmas.  It's taken me ages to actually start reading them but I am reading "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" now and I'm both encouraged and disheartened by what I'm learning.

The encouraging part?  I see that I have a lot of innate leadership potential.

The disheartening part is to see how clearly I have not used it.  Any of it.  At all.  Ever.

That's a bit of an exaggeration.  I do use some of it - my ability to read people, for example, which is a strength of mine.  However, I have not trained myself to think like a leader.  I've been very unaware of areas in which I could grow personally to become a better leader.

For example, my character is not nearly as strong as I thought it was; at least not when you measure it by integrity, authenticity, and discipline (especially discipline); and respect, potential and consistency (especially consistency).

And let's be honest - who wants to read a book where they are continually learning things about themselves such as:

I have no concrete plan for personal growth.
I haven't learnt how to analyze failures and then learn from them (I analyze well enough if brooding counts...).
I don't know what all of the people closest to me value most.
I don't feel like I live in a way that builds trustworthiness, nor do I feel that I help create an environment of trust around me.
I have not been aware of my need to be a leader, even when I owned my own business.
I have been unaware of what to look for in a leader and what to emulate.
I have been expecting results on inspiration, not on practice and process.
I can create the dream and plan the course but I do not take action on either so what's the point?
So this quote cuts from Jerry West me to the core: "You can't get too much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good."  Goddammit.

I have found reading this book to be a constant struggle between facing my stark reality and being absolutely discouraged and trapped in despair, and seeing my own potential for improvement and being completely reenergized and encouraged - and I'm only on Law 9.  The good news is that I can see growth in myself from a year ago - a year ago I would have stopped at discouraged and quit reading.  I would have placed myself in a downward spiral of despair that I would have had to fight out of over the course of weeks or months, and I probably would have never gone back to the book.  Today I'm recognizing that feeling of unhappiness, of disappointment in myself, taking a deep breath and getting over it.  Learning from it.  Allowing it to be the wound that spurs healing, the wound of the spirit that makes me notice where I have to grow.  Then I pick the book up and keep reading.

As John says in the part about developing leadership skills, there are three types of people: those who naturally understand leadership, those who can be nurtured to understand leadership, and those who will never understand leadership.  I know the last one isn't me, "because these people never pick up a leadership book."

So there is encouragement to be found, and part of that is the fact that I can see these unpleasant revelations about myself and instead of stagnating in them I'm being intentional about improving myself in those specific areas.

But it's not easy to face down.

I shared some of this with S. yesterday and he just nodded.  It made sense to him and he could see it in my life.  That sucked too - when the person you love most, who loves you most, who knows you best, nods when you say that you can create a dream, plan out a course of action, but then you stop and so what does it matter really? and they nod because that's not a surprise to them because they've said so, in essence, to you many times over the last two years...argh.  That cuts like a knife.  Like a knife of truth that you just want to shut your eyes and ignore, but I can't do that if I actually want to change, and I do.

So I'll keep reading, learning the other 12 Laws of Leadership, and then I'll go on and ingest more stuff that makes me think, that challenges my status quo, that forces me to see the good, the bad, and the downright ugly truths about myself.

As long as I can see both the unpleasant and the pleasant revelations, I think I'll be able to keep doing that until I die.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Lend Me Some Sugar

A few years ago my mother's health took a dive.  Doctors told her she had a couple years at the most and they had no idea what was wrong with her.  She did a lot of hard work, both emotional through rehab and therapy/counselling and physical with diet and lifestyle changes, and has brought herself back to a place of health.  She's also outlived the doctor's best guess and shows no signs of stopping now.

Part of her journey was food related.  When your heart won't allow you to exercise your only option for improved health is to change how, and what, you eat.  As part of her journey she discovered that she has several food sensitivities and that one of those foods is sugar.  She discovered that her body responds to sugar the way it responds to alcohol (she's a recovering alcoholic), thanks in no small part to the work Kathleen DesMaisons has done.  I'm not entirely certain what part of her physical recovery is due to cutting sugar from her diet, but she found that without sugar she enjoys more emotional stability.  A diet that stabilizes blood sugars and beta-endorphin release makes for a happier life.

Who woulda thunk it.

For the last few months I've been on my own food journey.  My mom gave me one of her food journals, a neatly laid out book where I can track what I eat, when I eat it, and how it makes me feel physically and emotionally.  I can also track physical exercise and include that in the equation - naturally occurring beta-endorphins are highly encouraged.  I haven't noticed a close relationship between food and my emotional state.  I'm sure my mom would be happy to hear that - I know she has worried about how her own relationship with food and weight may have influenced me growing up.

I have however noticed a direct relationship between what I eat and my physical health.  What are the odds?  What you eat directly impacts how your body feels.  I know, it's not rocket science, but it has been extremely eye opening.

It hasn't been what I expected, either.  I thought perhaps I'd find that bread and cheese had a negative impact - gluten and dairy sensitivities are common, after all - but I can eat gluten and dairy all I want and nothing happens, nothing I'm aware of anyway.  I thought I might find I was sensitive to tomatoes or oranges, like my mom.  But I can eat pasta sauces and eat citrus and again, I have no noticeable reaction.

Sugar, on the other hand…

I eat one Rocket candy and my throat gets sore.  I drink a can of cola and I can feel the fluids being retained in my ear (weird, huh?  But soda pop gives me an almost instant earache).  Down a double chocolate muffin, and my sinuses clog up.  Swollen glands and sniffles, you'd think I had a cold.  All of my chronic health complaints - except joint pain - are directly tied to the sugar in my diet.

I've done a bit of research apart from Dr. DesMaison's work, and I've found that (according to some sources anyway) sugar causes inflammation, which reduces the effectiveness of your immune system.  That certainly matches what I've experienced.

I have to be honest.  I have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand I'm glad that sugar doesn't seem to affect my emotions, at least not like it could.  As long as I eat protein with every meal I seem to be pretty stable, emotionally.  On the other hand, I fricken love chocolate and if, as my body seems to be requesting, I give up sugar, all sugar, forever and ever, I will really miss that silky sensation of chocolate melting on my tongue.  (I have also noticed that I do get PMS, contrary to what I thought, and I crave chocolate with I'm PMSing...badly.  Like, stereotype badly.  Giving that up could be dangerous to the survival of those around me, never mind their health, at least for a few days a month.)

All that being said, I'm also glad to find a possible solution to my health.  My immune system has never bounced back to what it was before I got mononucleosis four years ago, and I'm tired of having constant low-level congestion, low energy, post-nasal drip, and a lingering cough as a result of that.  I'm tired of always being on the edge of getting sick.  If giving up sugar means that I'm healthy again, I'll do it.

It won't be easy but I'll do it.

Something else that has been interesting to me as I've been learning this has been what I've been being shown in my meditations.  I use tarot cards as a meditation, which may sound weird but it helps me to locate and hear that little voice, telling me things that I already knew.  And in some cases I have had cards turn up that indicated things that I didn't see coming, that wound up actually happening.  So who knows, maybe there's an element of truth to the whole 'tarot cards tell the future' thing.  All I know is that I find them a helpful element to meditation, and they usually show me things that I already knew but didn't want to admit.  I don't meditate every day, but when I do the tarot is a part of my process.  My deck is bizarre too, but that's another blog post.

So while I've been sorting out this whole sugar thing - and it's been crystallizing mostly in the last few weeks - I've had these cards show up, and in this order:

A card I can't remember
Three of Swords

Keep in mind that I pick one card a day, so this isn't a spread where the cards influence each other.

This is what I got out of them.  Death indicates change is coming, change you can accept or change that is forced.  If I don't make the change in my health, it'll be made for me.  I'm not willing to have it taken to that extreme edge before I do what's best for my body.  Now I have to find out if I'm willing to make the hard decisions to make that change while I'm still in control of the options.

Temperance brings balance, moderation and an element of being tempered.  So this change, which I know will not be easy, will bring balance to my relationship between food and health.  I also have no problem seeing that I'll be 'tempered' into a (hopefully) better person by the experience.

There was another one in there that I didn't write down the name of, just what I saw in it; but it brought a reminder of the strength and focus required to overcome obstacles.  It was an absolutely necessary reminder to renew my focus.  That would be the day I realized I don't like strawberry wafers - although it took me 7 wafers to really figure that out.  :P

The three of swords reminded me that I have a support group to help me, a tightly knit group of people who will root for me, provide accountability and extend mercy when I can't do that for myself, encouraging me as I go along this path.  I need to be reminded that I need that as I bring harmony to my relationship with food.

Not every meditation I do has to do with my health but since that's what 've been thinking about it's an easy direction to meditate in.  And it's been kind of encouraging to be reminded of what it'll take to actually see this through.

There have been other reminders - an article on fear.less about cake, a word from Anne Lamott about the difference between food eaten in happiness and food eaten in misery - reminders that what I'm seeking is worth the struggle I'm going through to find it.

I'm not dumping sugar cold-turkey but I'm working down to nothing.  That in itself has been surprisingly challenging.  Sugar is everywhere.

So be a good neighbour.  Don't lend me some sugar, even if I beg and scream for it.  I'll thank you...

...in the long run, anyway.