Tag Archives: Spring

The Skinny on Good

Thursday I had my weekly yoga for singing/songwriting lesson swap with Lisa Linehan. She posted about it afterwards in a blog called “So Many Good Things”. I know exactly how she feels. Because it’s exactly how I feel. There have just been SO MANY GOOD THINGS lately. And quite frankly, it’s starting to freak my ass out just a little bit.

Here’s the link to Lisa’s blog: Project Husband

OMG. I FINALLY figured out how to make links happen on here. Another good thing! So what’s so bad about good anyways? Isn’t good good? Sure. But here’s the rub: The soul train doesn’t ditch its schedule and stay in the station, just cause you’re ready to party. The need for personal work and growth continues, regardless of how good you feel right now. We have this tendency when things go wrong to get serious, buckle down, and really work on things to improve our plight. Nobody wants to suffer. But, what happens when we think we’ve gotten what we want? Party time. Excellent. Then what? We wake up one day to find we’ve no longer got what we want anymore.

I’ve been a weight yo-yoer almost my entire life. Weight control issues and obesity run deep on both sides of my family. I was told by my Grandmother at a very young age that I’d never be able to eat what I wanted, would always have to watch it, or that I’d be fat my whole life. I’m 5’2 1/2″, and in my adult life have weighed anywhere from 110 – 145, neither of which were healthy.  To put it in perspective for the taller ladies – that equates to  2-12 dress sizes. For the men – a 26″ to a 31″ pants size.

One such round of yo-yo is shown below.  The shot on the left is me, with my adorable baby brother, circa Spring of 2000. The one to the right is me, with my dive computer, circa Summer of 2001.

Circa March 2000Circa Summer 2001

I started working out in a gym regularly at the age of 12 (not accidentally the same age that I discovered boys). I had tried sports in school (volleyball, track, basketball, soccer), but always seemed to suck at them. So began my love/hate relationship with the gym. Basically, I love being in shape, but hate working out. I’m pretty sure the gym is indifferent on the subject. The pattern that emerged, starting in high school around 1993, and lasting through the end of 2007 went as follows:

  1. Gain weight.
  2. Freak out about gaining of said weight. Stew over it for some indeterminate amount of time.
  3. Go to gym every day for months. Treadmill. Stair climb. Weight Lift. Spin. Step. Kick. Punch. CRUNCH.
  4. Beat self up if miss a day. Or two.
  5. Simultaneously eat nothing but grilled chicken, salad, yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
  6. Try not to drink. It’s fattening and helped us get into this mess in the first place. Thanks a lot, beer.
  7. Pre-2005: Try not to smoke.
  8. Get skinny. And bitchy. Working out incessantly, not eating and not having fun sucks.
  9. Resume eating. Drinking. Being Merry.
  10. Return to step 1. Repeat.

What finally broke this turbulent 15 year cycle is, in hindsight (of course), simple. It was consciousness. Presence to what I was doing. I started watching “The Biggest Loser”. I began tracking what I was doing on Weight Watchers Online. I read LOTS on food and nutrition. I joined a yoga studio and started studying yoga philosophy. One component of that philosophy is self-observation or study. So I started investigating why I ate, exercised and thought the way I did. I started listening to my body regarding what types of foods it wanted, when it wanted them, and how much it wanted.

I finally found a recipe that worked – paying attention. And my happiness level increased noticeably. Out with the days of self-torture and doubt, in with the days of deliciously enjoyable yoga practices, long walks outside and eating and drinking whatever I wanted – with presence. This simple recipe has kept me at my high school “skinny weight” since early 2009. Which is great. So what am I freaking out about now? Well, the recognition that life is always a practice, and that if we stop practicing when things get good, we’re likely to wind up back towards where we started at. Put another way: “Lack of introspection is a thief; it slinks behind when mindfulness abates. And all the merit we have gathered in it steals; and down we go to the lower realms” – Shantideva from “The Way of the Bodhisattva”

So I was stressed out in December, and sick in January. By the time I was healthy again in mid-February it seemed my whole world had withered. My career had shifted and was in a state of uncertainty and my social and dating lives had vanished. But then, just like my yoga teacher and friend Leanne Hall said would happen during class one day, my world blossomed once again, right along with the coming of Spring. The yoga studio I’m a partner of opened, old friends returned, new and amazing people arrived and I began writing and singing.

When I felt like poop I was taking uber good care of myself: eating stupid healthy, reading tons on life, spirituality and philosophy, doing lots of yoga and meditating twice daily. Now that I wake up wanting to hug life daily, I’m: eating stupid a lot, not doing lots of yoga and not meditating twice daily. The difference this time is that I don’t have to go through the pleasure of gaining 20 or 30 pounds to tune-in to the frequency. Work on balance. Ok. Got it.

Why do we have the tendency to get so carried away when we’re passionate about a new project, job, romantic interest or otherwise? Buddhist Philosophy would say it’s because our nature is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Let’s face it, doing something you like and are good at and then being recognized for it feels amazing. So too does falling for someone new. Or landing that new dream job. Whatever the case may be. But just like the highs of these types of pleasures are really high, so too are the lows really low. Being fired is devastating. Being dumped, heartbreaking. So Buddhist wisdom says: Any pleasure that is capable of also bringing about pain can’t be a true source of happiness, with happiness being the meaning of life. Another principle in Buddhism is the practice of “non-attachment”. So they say it’s not about going without. It’s about enjoying what you have, with the recognition and appreciation that the only thing constant in life is change. It’s about living in the present.

IN SUMMATION: So instead of freaking out today, maybe I’ll just go to yoga. I’ve been wanting to check out Virginia Marum’s Balloga Class all week anyhow. =) The Dalai Lama said: “As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery… we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness.”

PS: Dwayne and I were discussing the Live album “Secret Samadhi” yesterday (samadhi = state of bliss in yoga). Thanks to him for reacquainting me with the album (apparently I never gave it much of a shot)! Here’s a video of the track “Century”. Viva the ’90s. Enjoy. =)

The Tao of Jessica Simpson

Here we grow again. Spring. Somehow Dallas managed to get three inches of snow the first day this year. Yet whether snow lay on the ground or not, spring has sprung all the same. Sometimes things don’t happen as quickly as we’d like them to. We feel stuck. We get that feeling that things are never going to change. They’re never going to be the way that we want them to be. Truth is, of course, that we only appear stuck. Everything is always in motion. Just because we can’t see or feel the earth spinning doesn’t mean it’s not. Earlier I was faxing twenty million things for my law practice. I had a fax that just wouldn’t go through. I tried three times. I was stuck. Suddenly, for whatever reason, I decided to look at what I was faxing, instead of continuing to mindlessly feed it through the top loader of my machine repeatedly, wishing I was doing something besides faxing. It was actually the wrong document. I grabbed the right one, put it through my trusty Brother All-in-One, and away it went effortlessly.

Getting unstuck and change are most certainly in the air, seemingly everywhere. That magical prospect yet again. That glisten in your eye – the thought that 2010 could be your year. YUP. It most definitely could. I’ve watched laid-off friends pick themselves up by the bootstraps and form entirely new existences for themselves, coming out the other side not only unscathed, but with freedoms they’d never dreamed imaginable. I’ve watched friends go back to school and seek out the career they never even dared admit to themselves that they even wanted in the first place. I got another email recently from a friend who’s a big company VP that’s days away from embarking on a 2 month spiritual journey to India and Thailand. Another who quit his career all together and took a similar trip last year, recently moving out to LA to follow his passion and try to “make it” as a singer/songwriter. The stories go on and on, all the way to VH1.

I had yet another veggie sandwich last week at Buli on Cedar Springs with my friend Jordann. Although I’m uncertain as to whether or not she is aware of my penchant for a certain brand of reality TV, she all the same mentioned that Jessica Simpson had a new show called “The Price of Beauty” on VH1, when we were talking about my blog (I’d included Jessica in a previous rant entitled “John Mayerhem”).

In her new show, Jessica plans to travel the world with two friends, exploring the price women pay to feel beautiful, and hopes to grow what she considers to be true beauty – the kind on the inside.  In the series premiere, she headed off to Thailand. Rising above the ghosts of chicken of the sea past, the Jessica of 2010 had some considerable insight to share when discussing her inability to meditate with a Buddhist monk: “I couldn’t be at peace with myself, so maybe I have a little bit more work to do”. The recognition that just like true beauty comes from within, so too does inner peace.

It’s funny how sometimes we forget that celebrities are people too and that they’re entitled to inner peace, just like everyone else. Before Jessica Simpson was Jessica Simpson, she was just some junior while my class was ruling the school at JJ Pearce High School. No one would dare dream of ridiculing a co-worker for packing on a couple pounds, yet she’s shredded to the entire planet for it. Now, she’s taken her show on the road and is airing it for all of TV and Web Land to see – beauty is inside life. So, Jessica, I applaud you. You go find yourself your peace of mind, and don’t stop till you get enough.

What is the price of beauty anyways? Maybe it’s the price we pay when we do something in favor of outward appearance, instead of acting in a way that jives with our authentic selves. It may manifest as an eating disorder, shopping addiction, addiction to plastic surgery, relationship addiction, or in some other way all together, but the result is all the same. We make ourselves sick. Jessica’s friend asked the Buddhist monk if inner peace = outer beauty. The monk replied that true beauty comes from within, and explained that “if your mind is deep in meditation, your body, your skin and your health will glow”. Meditation, like yoga, means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. A simple explanation might be that it can simply mean the harnessing of control of the thoughts of the mind, in an effort to be able to simply sit and quietly be with yourself.

So being the music fan that I am, I used to ALWAYS listen to music ALL the time. Alarm clock goes off (cookies to the first person who guesses where I was working when the ringtone was “Blow Up the Outside World”), and I’d head to the bathroom (turn on CD player – now Pandora for Blackberry) to brush my teeth and shower. I’d be out the door and into the car (I think there were about three straight months where the first jam on the ride to work everyday was Pink Floyd’s “Time”) where I’d drive off to sit in a chair at whatever job I’d spend the bulk of my waking hours at. Once rear was in said chair, I’d turn on whatever version of technology I was currently using to feed my habit, and there I would sit. Until it was time to get back in the car for some more tunes, before arriving home. From home, things could go one of two ways:

1. leave home, go out, listen to more music; or
2. stay home, watch TV (not technically music for the most part).

Both ended with falling asleep with the TV on, and then completing the cycle by waking up to the outside world blowing up yet again. How does a girl get a little peace around this joint anyways? Well, you can start by spending some time each day just shutting it down. Shutting it all down. Getting quiet. Whatever that looks like for you. Enjoy the silence.

IN SUMMATION: I was asked recently to give five tips for going from tense to tranquil. In a nutshell: move, breath, learn, dream, share. In my experience, doing these things leads you on the path to the one thing that ultimately leads to tranquility – the ability to just be. Within that ability to just be resides true beauty. Beauty inside life.