"Do the thing that feeds your soul, not your ego, and you will be happy!"
About six weeks ago, I found myself tired of eating, tired of never feeling satisfied after I ate and generally, sick of struggling with my weight!
I needed something to change!
It just so happened, that my daughter, Sarah, had started a 3-week liver cleanse for medical reasons and I asked her to tell me more about it.
She explained the cleanse in detail, which meant giving up all sugar, dairy, flour, corn, alcohol, caffeine, and anything processed. There were supplements to take and 2 shakes, morning and noon. And, lots and lots of water!
There was a long list of foods I could eat, which consisted of a variety of vegetables, 2 fruits a day, brown rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes, and chicken or fish. Everything had to be organic.
Most of the foods on the list were already a part of my eating habits. Of course, there were many food items that I consumed, that didn't make the list. Those were the ones I wanted and needed to cleanse out of my system!
I was about to leave town, so I told Sarah that I'd start the cleanse when I got home. I knew it was going to be difficult. I also knew it wasn’t going to solve my weight problem, but it would give me a clean slate to begin eating more consciously, eating more healthily, and would give me the boost I needed to begin some weight loss.
Having struggled with my weight for many years – losing 25 pounds and within months, gaining it all back, plus some, I knew it was now or never! Each year, it gets harder to lose and my desire gets less. So, when I returned from visiting my son and daughter, over Easter week, I began the cleanse!
The first day was really rather easy and I felt great!
But, day 2 and 3 were awful!! I was hungry from the time I got up until I went to bed. I had a horrible withdrawal headache, that wouldn’t go away. I hadn’t even completely given up coffee, although it was advised. I made the decision to have a ½ cup of black coffee in the mornings so it would keep the headache at bay, but I it didn't work!
The afternoon coffee I was used to, along with the sugar my body craved, left me without much energy and a headache that had me laid out on the couch. Thankfully, my daughter reminded me that the cleanse allowed for organic green tea, so I pulled myself up and made a cup. It definitely helped.
I went to bed extra early that night and woke up feeling like a new woman! My head didn’t hurt, my body didn’t ache, and my energy level was through the roof!
It took 3 days for my body to leach out the build-up of toxins in my system and after that, I felt wonderful. I’ve always had good energy, but this was so much more. My body felt great, I didn’t have any cravings, and I felt clearer-headed.
I decided that during the 3 weeks, along with cleansing my body, I’d do some soul searching, as well.
First, I took an assessment of my diet and my personal lifestyle. I spent time working to understand where food, plus my lack of self-discipline, has affected my life. How food is and had always been, a source of comfort in good times and in bad. It has been a companion when I was lonely, and a friend when I needed to stuff my thoughts, feelings, and my words!
I discovered that allowing myself to feel all of my feelings is necessary for stopping the need to eat for comfort. I also realized that I often hide behind food, so the real me couldn’t be seen. It sounds strange, as I say those words, but it’s true.
I have been hiding in many ways,
to protect myself.
My second revelation concerned my children and grandchildren.
I’ve always loved being with my family, but through this time of deeper self-understanding, it became clear to me that all 14 of these people mean more to me than anything else in my life.
Each one has played a part in who I have become as a Mom, Mama, Mama Vicki, and Gaga. They have and do, make me a better woman. Each time I’m with one of them or talk with one of them, I feel connected, loved, and deeply grateful.
It is important for me, as a 65-year-old woman, to never stop learning! And, there is no greater way to continue to be present than to listen and learn from my children and grandchildren. Each one of them is at a different stage in life, so there is time for deep conversation, sharing of ourselves, and of course, playing – lots of playing! Hopefully, they feel that I impart some loving wisdom and teaching from my own experiences. I had an opportunity during the cleanse, to do just that with 3 of my grandchildren.
A couple of weeks ago, Sarah’s kids, Lane, Cody, and Charley, spent the day with me and we put in a small raised-bed vegetable garden. The joy I got out of teaching them about the seeds, the starter plants, and how to arrange the rows, is still with me. Watching them plant the marigolds around the perimeter of the bed, making the rows for the seeds, and digging the holes for the plants, made all the back-breaking work preparing the soil for planting worthwhile.
I made sure that I was patient and understanding, along with my usual expectation of listening, and the kids rose to the occasion! They listened, they participated with enthusiasm, and only occasionally, did I have to correct or get their attention. I was so proud of them and I made sure they knew it.
The next day it rained and has barely stopped, but that little garden is growing and will produce radishes, carrots, lettuce, and onions, for us to enjoy all summer. The kids were over recently and were jumping for joy at how the garden was growing! It fed my soul!
That is what life is all about!
Another area I looked at was the friendships in my life. As a single woman, friends play an important role, so I spent time reflecting on each of the relationships that I hold dear.
Looking back over the past year, I suffered from the loss of someone that I thought was my friend. That unfortunate situation taught me a great deal about what makes a close friend and what keeps friendships alive. I began to see that deep friendships come from attention, common interests and being authentic.
The friendship I lost was inevitable. The attention was one-sided, the common interests were few, and I personally, wasn’t being authentic. I was trying to be what I felt was expected of me, not who I truly am. There were glimpses of me, but I hid one of the most important parts of myself – my deep faith. Why? So I could fit in and be accepted.
That admission to myself led me to question the relationships I had with all of my friends. Questions like:
- Am I being the kind of friend that they could turn to?
- Am I being authentic in our relationship?
- Did we continue to have common interests that keep our friendship interesting?
- Is the friendship toxic and unpleasant to deal with? If so, what was I going to do about it?
I can say that for the most part,
my friendships are strong!
I make sure that I reach out to stay connected, knowing how much we all need someone to reach out to us. I’m more honest and open with who I am, and I work hard to find the common ground between us, so we both benefit from our time together.
I do have one relationship that has proven to be toxic and unpleasant for me, but I’ve attempted to address the situation. I’m not sure what will happen in the future but hopefully, with honest dialogue and boundaries, our friendship will be able to continue.
The last area of discovery, yet the one that actually gives authenticity to all the others, is my spiritual life.
I’ve been a Christian for more than five decades. There have been times when I walked away from church, turned away from God, and even tried to fit into groups that didn’t believe in His existence. With all that outward denial, deep down inside, I’ve always known that God was with me. It was time for me to stop the outward denial, and embrace what my heart and soul truly held.
So, when I was asked to put on a retreat for 30 Christian women, I knew God was answering my heart’s desire.
As I’ve been preparing for the upcoming weekend, the planning, the ideas, and creativity have come easily to me. There have been times in the past when I struggled to put together a strong retreat that had the kind of emotional depth that I knew was needed. The depth that only comes from bringing God into the mix!
By leaving my faith out, I was also leaving out a major part of me. Why? Just like in the failed friendship, I wanted to fit in with all women and I didn't want to offend anyone.
But, in doing so, I was being an imposter. I was leaving out the most significant part of who I am! A child of God. A believer in Jesus. A woman in need of a savior.
And, the funny thing is, nearly all of the women who have attended my local retreats are Christian. So obviously, I’m not fooling anyone, except myself.
The 3 weeks of cleansing did more than cleanse my body. It was an opportunity to re-discover what truly nurtures my body, my mind, and my soul.
I’m not suggesting that a 3 week cleanse will change your life, but it can certainly give you a different perspective if you are struggling with food. From my experience, there is usually more to the issue than just food.
I’m grateful I spent the time. I did the cleanse for my body and learned so much more about myself.
That is what self-care is all about!
"Know the difference between those who feed your ego and those who feed your soul."