A Different Body


MP900402316This is a share of a post I wrote for a new blog I have created called Fitness for Real Girls, but the conversation fits just as easily here on Spiritual Tea, as it gives us reason to stop and think about how we perceive our own bodies.

For me, one of the big ruts is that of inertia. Once I stop, it is so hard to get started again. It’s part of a routine that is probably familiar to many of you. I get sick, or hurt myself, or feel tired and achy, and I don’t exercise.

Then of course, since I work at my computer all day, I feel tired and achy and blah because I’m sitting at my desk and not exercising. And I don’t exercise so I feel blah, and I feel blah, so I don’t exercise, and on and on, you get the picture!

I realized that some of my aches and pains were most likely due to being overweight, and if I was going to sit here and feel achy, I might as well exercise and have a good reason to be achy! Interestingly, the muscle aches from biking and hiking are a different kind of pain, maybe one might even call it a good pain? Ok, yeah, that might be pushing it. But at any rate, it feels better than just feeling achy and crummy from sitting inside all day!

Around the same time I was contemplating all of this, I came across an interview on Slate.com with photographer Jen Davis.  The article by David Rosenberg is entitled In Revealing Self-Portraits, Body Image Is Front and Center, and is well worth the read. Jen spent many years taking self-portraits that centered around her body image and the thoughts, emotions and fantasies that shaped it.

The interview and the photos really touched and inspired me, and led me to think about my own image. Perhaps her self image and reasoning were not necessarily positive, and many people may not agree with her process, but there was a line in the interview that struck me:

“It was kind of shocking, kind of painful to look at myself and to see myself evolving and growing and understanding a deeper sense of myself but my body not being able to change after nine years’ time. I was shocked and thought ‘why can’t I take control of my life?’ and I realized I didn’t want to wake up at 40 and be in this body—I wanted to know what it would be like to be in a different body, and that was a painful realization,” Davis explained.

I wanted to know what it would be like to be in a different body… Very simple, but somehow it struck me as very profound. Again, maybe it’s not the best philosophy in the world, but it has become something of a mantra for me. For years I have felt stuck in this rut of being overweight and feeling unhealthy, most of my motivation for exercising and losing weight was for all those same “rut” reasons; feeling bad about myself, my body and disappointed in my own inability to get out of the rut.

So, I have put a curiosity spin on it. This body is fine, it’s served its purpose, but what would it be like to be in a fit body? Even if I am not skinny by today’s marketing standards, feeling stronger and healthier would be a GOOD thing, and looking at it this way has helped me feel empowered and keep moving. While the process is slower than I might like it to be, I can feel the difference, just a little hint of what’s to come in this different body.

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[Recommended Reading]: Life Was Never Meant To Be A Struggle by Stewart Wilde


My schedule the last few weeks has been kind of insane and I of course feel bad that I haven’t really had the time to contribute a nice blog post. So, I thought I would start adding some of my favorite books to the blog, to give you something thoughtful and enlightening to read when I am not being so myself. 🙂

"Life Was Never Meant to Be a Struggle" is one of those books I love to go back to every now and then. It’s a nice book that helps you identify the causes of struggle in your life and how you can get past them and learn to live life more “in the flow”. A really good reminder for those of us who tend to get caught up in the rush and struggle of life, and need to remember to stop and take a moment to reset ourselves and stop struggling and trying and just “do” and “be”.

Getting to Know You


Winter TreeSometimes people reach a point in their lives where they feel alone and neglected. Perhaps people they have always relied on are no longer with them. Close friends or family members have crazy schedules and life troubles that draw them away. Kids grow up, relationships end, and they find themselves feeling lonely and abandoned.

It is easy to build a life that is surrounded by other people. Many people grow up with close friends and family, move on to college and marry young, always surrounded by people; always depending on and being depended on for support, entertainment, love and attention.

Sometimes we spend such a huge chunk of our lives surrounded by people and responsibilities that we lose track of ourselves; that sense of what it is like to be one single, solitary person. It can be hard to find yourself suddenly alone and dependent upon no one but yourself. Mentally and emotionally it can be like suddenly being locked alone in a room with a complete stranger.

It doesn’t mean that you’re in as extreme a situation as being stranded alone on a deserted island, but perhaps a long term relationship has ended, a close friend or mentor has passed away. You may feel like you have been alone for a long time; trying and failing at relationship after relationship.

Redwing Blackbird SilhouetteChances are you are not destined to spend your life alone, but sometimes God, the Universe, Great Spirit, whomever you like to imagine is out there, intends for you to get to know yourself again. Learn about this stranger you spend more time with than anyone else. Get to know “I”, and become comfortable in your own company.

Learn who you are without a second, third or fourth person involved. Find out what makes you tick. Rediscover what brings you joy; what skills or hobbies you forgot you loved; try new things; learn what new adventures you can have.

Have a conversation with yourself. A journal is a great way to have a running dialog with yourself; writing it by hand encourages you to ramble on without worrying about spelling and grammar checks. Start simply; discuss the weather. Then perhaps talk to yourself about what has happened to get you where you are today. Ask yourself how you got there, what you’d like to do now. Grow bolder and ask yourself what you would do if you knew you could not fail.

ZenOnce you discover that you’re not so scary to spend time alone with, begin to understand who you are and how you work, and become comfortable with who you are on your own, you are opening yourself up to new and positive changes. Along the way, you are increasing your chances of finding new relationships, or perhaps rekindling old ones, that are happier and healthier, and will grow along with you.

Time to Fly


“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them… and they flew.” ~Guillaume Apollinaire

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

FlightHere’s a mini post to get you asking yourself, is there a little something that you’ve always wanted to do, but have been afraid to try? Consider this your little push off the edge. Spring is in the air, and it’s a perfect time to try something new.

Have you considered changing your job or learning a new skill? Even if you can’t make a giant life change, take a couple of baby steps towards that cliff in the form of a college class. Sign up for a painting class or a music lesson, look for a group that shares the same interest.

When we build up a fear of failing at something, we also build up the consequences of failure. Most of the time the consequence might just be a little embarrassment, but somewhere in the back of our mind, we create visions of horrible death or dismemberment.

Our overactive imaginations can be our greatest gift and our biggest pitfall. Now it’s time to use your imagination to find your wings and step off the edge!

What Do You Do With Your Anger?


MP900385327Anger, while generally labeled a “negative” emotion, does have its place in our repertoire of emotional responses. But, how productive is it to use your anger against others, even if it is for a just cause?

Without delving into a mound of research on emotions and psychology, the basic purpose of anger seems to be to drive us to respond to situations that we perceive as unjust, cruel or harmful; perhaps also feeding our sense of self preservation.

It’s good to have this emotion give us a sense of moral outrage, drive us to react, press us to defend ourselves. On the flip side, it can cause us to lash out at people, say things without thinking, even lead to violence. Perhaps it is a good idea to think about the difference between acting because of anger and reacting in anger.

As a child, if you misbehaved and were shouted at in anger, you might have cried and even felt fear. You probably learned not to do the misbehavior again, but perhaps only because you were frightened and not necessarily because the interaction was positive and educational.

Angry shouting in the workplace creates tension and anxiety. Employees work hard out of fear of eliciting an angry reaction rather than because they love their work or because they simply want to do the best work they can.

MP900399201 Social injustices around the world, from slavery to women’s rights, to Apartheid and more, were positively affected by people who were angry about the cruelty and injustice. Were these problems solved because these angry people shouted in the streets, took shovels to the heads of the offenders, or otherwise reacted in anger to the situation? Some of this no doubt happened, but it is likely what eventually solved the problem.

It was the intelligent, thoughtful, angry person – who was spurred into positive action by their anger, that likely made the biggest difference. These people educated the masses, debated the laws and got involved on the grassroots level, rather than in defensive, reactive ways.

Shouting, bullying and berating, and certainly violence, do not win people over to your cause. It prevents them from interacting with you about it at all. They don’t hear what you are saying over your shouting. Perhaps they even avoid a cause they might have otherwise supported, simply because of a bad interaction with someone reacting in anger.

Whatever your political, religious, or social beliefs, whatever makes you angry; stop. Think first. Is this angry response really going to have the effect that you are hoping for? Or is just going to alienate your cause and drive away potential supporters? Or, worse, hurt someone?

MP900430643 Find positive ways to approach what makes you angry. Accept that there might be people that you simply cannot change, let them go and move on to the people you can. Publically flogging transgressors went out with the dark ages. Private (or calm public) discussions and negotiations are likely to be much more meaningful and effective. Treat them with respect and they will respect you, and your cause.

While it is by no means easy to always remember to stop and think before reacting in anger, it can help to keep the simple Serenity Prayer in mind (insert favorite deity as desired):

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Welcome to the Present


Time is an invention. Now is a reality. So much creativity is happening for the simple reason that we have withdrawn ourselves from the past and future. Our whole energy remains blocked, either in the past or in the future.

When you withdraw all your energy from past and future, a tremendous explosion happens.

That explosion is creativity.

~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (From Begin It Now, by Susan Hayward)

Kripalu Sundial - Tricia GriffithFind yourself in a creative rut? Or even just a general “life rut”? It could be that you are worrying too much about the future or the past and not living in the present.

If you are an artist or a writer and you spend a lot of time worrying about how you’ll ever become published or famous in the future, or about dumb mistakes you made in the past that you’re worried you’ll make again, chances are you’re getting little to nothing accomplished in your present.

Perhaps you’re holding out on taking a job that you don’t like very much because you’re waiting for that ideal job to present itself. Maybe you’re not allowing yourself to find a loving relationship because someone did the Mexican Hat Dance on your heart in the past, and you never want that to happen again.

It’s hard to wrap our heads around it, but in reality the present is all that matters. Do what you need to do now, and the future will begin to form and take care of itself without you fussing over it.

chocolate cakeLet’s bake a cake. You decide to use this delicious new cake recipe. You have all these dreams and fantasies about how fabulous this cake is going to be. But, instead of just letting it bake, you keep poking your head in the oven to see how it’s doing, and eventually the whole thing goes flat, and you have to start again.

Neither does your past successes or failures at baking a cake really have much relevance on that cake you’re baking now. You think to yourself oh, I didn’t use enough flour the last time I made that cake, so I better adjust it this time. You don’t say, oh my god, I screwed that cake up so badly I will never make it again. Well, at least you shouldn’t be saying that, anyway.

We make our lives so much more stressful by constantly dwelling on the past and wringing our hands about the future. Redirect your focus to the present. Pick a cake recipe and just bake it. If it comes out, it comes out. If it doesn’t, you note what you have learned and try again.

pen and inkPick up the paint brush or the pen. Make bad art and enjoy it. Write a crappy first draft. Take the job that will put food on the table today and keep yourself in the present so that you will see that new opportunity when it arrives. Go out on a date with someone you’re not sure about. Start a conversation with that person you’ve been admiring.

Nothing at all, good or bad, will change unless you take a step. Taking one small step today is better than planning a thousand steps tomorrow.

Mind Your Own Business?


Sandhenge - Tricia GriffithThis is something that I have personally struggled with a few times in life. When do you cross that line in the sand between minding your own business and speaking up? Speaking up on behalf of others, speaking up for yourself, knowing when to keep your mouth shut and when something needs to be said.

Are we all too well schooled in that “mind your own business” adage? I just finished watching a short video on Upworthy.com that made me think about this subject. A hidden camera show tests out the question “What Would You Do?”, and in this case, the video was testing how people respond to a gay couple with children being harassed by a waitress. You can watch the video here.

One of the people who didn’t speak up casually commented that it was none of her business. It led me to think about how many times you hear about people who are mentally abused, beaten, bullied or otherwise mistreated, and something terrible happens. People comment that the signs were there, but they didn’t think it was any of their business; they didn’t want to get involved.

Where does the line of social privacy end and social responsibility begin?

Misty Tree - Tricia GriffithMany years ago, the couple who lived upstairs from us would have serious fights. And I mean, knock-down, drag-out screaming matches. We would struggle with, okay, it’s their business, they’re fighting. But, when they’re shouting loud enough for the rest of us to hear, it can’t help but start to become our business. Then, they start throwing things and you hear things breaking, and you kind of start to reach out beyond that line of minding your own business to thinking, what if one of them ends up dead and I did nothing?

We called the authorities when things started breaking. We didn’t know the neighbors other than in passing, but they had a pretty good idea who called and were less than thrilled with us. Still, I think that having them hate us was better than having something horrible happen.

For many of us, we don’t think twice about calling in animal neglect or abuse, but we get more nervous when it comes to people. Are we afraid of what happens when we intervene on a human’s behalf? Is it fear of confrontation? Do we really think that someone being publically discriminated against or privately abused is not our business?

Forget-me-nots - Tricia GriffithEven if you can’t quite bring yourself to publically call out someone being discriminatory or abusive, perhaps you should look into other ways to do it. Being an introvert myself, I’m not sure how quickly I would be willing to stand up and defend someone in a public place, it probably depends upon the situation. After watching that video, I think I might be more inclined to do so.

However, if you worry that confronting someone publically is out of your comfort zone or maybe even dangerous, you can still take steps to make a difference. Speak privately to someone in charge. Write a letter to the editor. Call the police, call protective services, just call someone.

Sometimes you just need to speak up.

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