Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Women have amazing stories

I'm wrapping up a great week in Florida and heading home to Portland today. Karen Casey, author of Each Day A New Beginning and a gazillion other books, and I led a 2-day workshop for women called Women Writing, Women Healing here in Karen's winter home of Naples. We had 27 wonderful women in the workshop and heard some amazing stories.

Women wrote of their grief around loss, their anger around personal and impersonal violence, their healing relationships with family members, and their shoes. :) We did a lot of deep looking into personal space and we did some fun assignments (shoes, handbags) as well.

I was so impressed by the stories and even more impressed by the courage of women to speak of their deepest feelings, both joys and fears, when they got up and read to us! The writing was clear, honest, and heartfelt. I was deeply moved and deeply inspired. May all women write their stories!

Friday, January 18, 2013

chocolate relapse

Okay, I have to say it. I've been in chocolate bar relapse for about three weeks. As many of you know, I moved off desserts and sweet treats on Feb 14, 2010. I didn't worry about tiny amounts of sugar in food and I'd have a spoonful of brown sugar on oatmeal or occasional jam on toast. After the initial withdrawal, it didn't seem too hard and I felt better for it and even lost a few pounds.

Then last fall I had a piece of birthday cake. It wasn't all that great and I didn't eat anything more until Thanksgiving, when I had two bites of berry pie. Again that didn't seem to set me off. But just after Christmas, I went to Trader Joe's and on a whim I bought two very small chocolate caramel candy bars and took them on retreat. I didn't even think about them again until the third day on retreat and found them in a bag of books I'd brought with me. But then I promptly ate them. Both. In a matter of a few minutes. I told no one.

The next day I drove into town and bought enough big chocolate bars that I could eat one a day for the retreat. Which I did. And told no one.

And in the two weeks I've been home, I've eaten another half-dozen, sometimes two in a day. Wow! What an old, old story this is for me! I don't feel a lot of shame around this. It's what an addict does. Eat compulsively, in secret, too much. And a couple of you may even have seen this coming. And maybe I did too. But there it is. Or rather here it is. I just got back from the store. I put three bars in my cart and then I put them back. It has to stop.

I have no illusions that I can do sweets in moderation. I can't. I'm just hoping I can find the willingness again to not do them at all.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Embracing 70%

Some weeks back, I posted in passing about a class I was taking called 18 Therapies, a mixture of tai chi and qi gong. It was a gentle class of "shapes," not stretches or movements or activities, though all of those were involved. The shapes stimulate the meridians in the body, another Chinese idea.

Our teacher encouraged us to give 70% to the shapes, to the class. "No need to do 100%," she said. "70 will keep you from injury and work just fine." And I got to thinking about the American way of striving always to be the best, where even 100% effort isn't enough but has to be 110%, which of course doesn't really exist, not with effort anyway, as 100% is all you've got to give.

I've been talking in my groups the last few weeks about this idea of doing 70%. At the base of the Chinese idea is reserving chi, or life energy, for later. Instead of burning the candle at both ends, as we tend to do, the traditional Chinese assume they will need and want energy for a vigorous old age and so they consciously work less to save energy for the future.

I'm curious what this might mean for me. I can't imagine giving my editing jobs 70% of my attention but I could work 70% of what I'm working now. Or take 70% of the projects that come my way. Or say yes to 70% of the social invitations. Or eat 70% of the food on my plate. I would certainly like to weigh 70% of what I do now. And I would like to give up striving.

How might 70% show up in your life?


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

So glad it wasn't me

I'm on a writing retreat this week, working on new poems. On my list of things to write about was this experience returning from Florida last winter.


Staying out of It
“Don’t let me order a drink”
The woman says to the girl between us
“I’m on medication for panic
And I can’t have alcohol”
But when the cart reaches us
And we’ve learned more than we need to know about her fears
She orders double vodka with orange juice
Hands the girl between us a zipper bag
And asks for two Oxycontin
In a voice laced with Atlanta helplessness

What’s the girl to do
The woman has 30 years on her
And the girl has Asian obedience written in the
Bowing of her head and the neatness of her jeans

It’s a long flight and when the cart comes around again
The woman  orders more vodka and hands the girl the bag
And asks for two of the little blue ones
Her makeup is impeccable for all this and her clothes expensive
The zipper bag holds a pharmacy of relief
And if it were mine, I wouldn’t be handing it over
To a stranger but it isn’t mine and neither is the vodka
And I am both relieved and envious

It’s a long flight and she starts in again
I want to ignore all this
I want the girl to say no but I know she can’t
So  I get up and speak to the flight attendant
Who speaks to the girl
who puts in earphones and buries herself
In her Kindle and the addict in the window seat
Finds the call button all by herself
but the attendant doesn’t come
And she rummages in the zipper bag herself and
Whatever she takes then does the trick
And puts her out of our misery

And I think of flights years ago
When I needed a bourbon chaser for my own demons
And I don’t envy whoever is meeting this woman in Portland