Category: Aging & the Inner Life

Successful Weight Loss is Not About the Diet

Successful Weight Loss is Not About the Diet

“Why are You so Damn Fat!?” ~ Martha Beck Tells It Like It Is!

Our diet is an important issue for all of us. Weight loss, particularly as we get older, becomes increasingly difficult. We need all the help we can get, not only to lose weight but to maintain it.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve asked myself this question more than once!  The first time I heard these words, however,  were spoken to me by a “friend”, when I was nine years old — minus the expletive. Prior to that, the idea of being too fat, too thin, or anything other than just me, never crossed my mind. After that, it never left. And, I wasn’t even “fat”.

At the time I picked up Martha Beck’s book, The Four Day Win, End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace, I was unaware that my self-talk was a problem. I became a fan of Beck after reading Finding Your Own North Star.  She’s straight forward, honest, intelligent, well-educated and very funny. Most importantly, she knows what she’s talking about, as much from her first hand experience as her vast education.

I downloaded the audio version of The Four Day Win, slipped on my walking shoes and headphones and headed out the  door to walk the dog and find my way to thinner peace.  The first words I heard after hitting “play” were, “Why are you so damn fat!?”  What??  I swallowed hard and out of respect for the woman, I listened on.

Beck no doubt used this opening for shock value and she certainly got my attention. After all, who would say such a thing, beside mean girls and siblings?  She went on to make her point and it was a good one. What we say to ourselves is far worse than anything anyone else says to us.  We use words just like this over and over, day after day, year in and year out, not only about our appearance, but a vast array of things. We are not our own best friend. In fact, we’re our worst enemy! Why wouldn’t we want to soothe our wounds with a half gal of ice cream! (Incidentally, did you know ice cream doesn’t even come in half gallons anymore! That was not nice of the manufactures at all! ~ Yes, I am an addict. <— See? I just did it!)

SELF-TALK MATTERS

Our daily stream of mental gibber jabber is far less helpful than it could be.  After all,  Beck writes,  when it comes to diet, “who

Not me, but it could be!

doesn’t know the basics of weight loss? Eat less. Move more. That’s all there is to it!” So, it’s not about the “perfect diet”. It’s not about the “right exercise routine”.  They can be  helpful tools, but what really affects our ability to achieve our goals, no matter what they are, is the way we think and what we tell ourselves, both consciously and unconsciously.

If we want to lose weight, or overcome any obstacle we face, our first step must be to figure out what we are thinking.  When we bringing our self-talk into conscious awareness, we can choose self-talk that supports our diet efforts, rather than sabotaging them.

The Four Day Win is not just a diet book. It’s far more and it’s worth the read before beginning any preplanned life change.  If we’re going to succeed at anything we set out to do, it behooves us to become our own cheerleader.

First published June, 2010

© Dorothy Sander


NOTE: Before beginning any weight loss program be sure and consult with your physician. A BMI calculator will help you determine if you are carrying excess weight and how much.

MOTHER OF THE GROOM

MOTHER OF THE GROOM

mother of the groom cartoonA year ago May, the opportunity arose for me to step into the shoes of the “mother of the groom”. Up until the day I started shopping, I assumed I was too young to play that role! When I began searching for something suitable to wear, I was stymied. Nothing I saw reflected me! They styles were all too old fashioned, too “mother of the bride”, too something my mother would wear!

Clearly I was out of touch with reality.  I was, in fact, ten years older than the bride’s parents! I was the right age for a mother of the groom, and in some cases the grandmother of the groom!  Still, shopping for a dress stirred up a hornet’s nest of conflict. Who was I? Suddenly, a fun and exciting process was morphing into a nightmare of epic proportions, and it was all going on inside of me! (Well, except the part the spilled out on my husband, poor man. I am so blessed.)

EXCITEMENT TURNED TUMULTUOUS

I was blissfully happy and over the top excited about the wedding until the day arrived when I had to decide what to wear, and  I was not loving the unresolved issue  I was facing.  After several tumultuous and agonizing weeks, I began to wake up to the unresolved issues beneath this simple decision. It was not about the choice of a dress at all. (I know you know that!)

Unable to step back from the situation, I could not love the questions and embrace the process of discovery. Instead, I went to war with myself. Precipitated by a family gathering, old conflicts brought my tribal insecurities to the surface. I didn’t like it one bit, but it was exactly what I needed. My goal was to show up as my authentic self, and this is what was required.

So I began to slow things down.  I took time to breathe and meditate, and to live with the unanswered questions.  I let go of my need to know the answers before I even knew the questions. The cause of my conflict slowly rose to the surface.

EXPECTATIONS OF THE MOTHER OF THE GROOM

I was not looking for a dress, I was looking for an expression of my authentic self.  Conflict arose because I was unconsciously trying to live up to the expectations of my childhood tribe. And, they were in conflict with who I am now.  The intensity caught me off guard, but it was a new opportunity for growth and self-actualization.  Even though I believed these issues were resolved, another layer was about to be peeled away.

Choosing a dress for my son’s wedding was a much bigger decision than I understood at first. The decision was a symbolic one, an act of self-expression and an excellent opportunity for me to bring forth another piece of myself.  In order to show up as myself, it was necessary to dispense with any concern I had, both conscious and unconscious, of what I believed others expected of me.  This included, most especially, my big sister and my deceased mother! That’s where the real healing needed to take place.

REDUCE RESISTANCE

Mother of the Groom
Much ado about nothing. . . on the outside!

As I reduced my resistance, the details of the conflict became clearer and my choice of a dress was then a breeze! I knew exactly what I wanted, I just had to let go of all the history that was keeping me locked in indecision. What I chose was not what either my mother or sister would have chosen. It was not what I had perceived initially as appropriate attire for the “mother of the groom”.   What I chose, however, was exactly what I wanted to wear. Poof. The conflict vanished!

I walked out of the store giggling with self-satisfaction, dress slung over my shoulder. I truly did not care what anyone thought of my decision. To me this was proof positive that I had made the right decision and had chosen from the very center of me. It was a lovely feeling and one that continues to bear fruit. Resolving conflicts such as the one that still lived in me prior to this time, doesn’t just make a dress buying decision easier, it gives us back a piece of ourselves. And, it’s ours to keep.

Each time we make a choice from our authentic self we take a step toward inner peace. It is not the absence of problems, but the growing ability to trust the process and our inner guidance with each challenge we face.  Being patient with the process of self-discovery is essential when traveling the path of authentic living. We will never resolve all of our issues, but what we can learn to love the questions and trust the process a little more each day.

Dorothy Sander © 2016

 

Accepting the Unresolved In Your Life

Accepting the Unresolved In Your Life

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet  

 

Holly Sierra
HollySierraArt
in Stowe, Vermont

Kim Gorman, fellow blogger at Midlife Awakenings, reminded me of this quote in her blog post. It is a very timely quote. Thank you, Kim.

Much of my life I have not been a patient person . . . with myself that is. With others, I have endless patience. Raised with a typical Western mindset, I believed that if I was suffering, then I was doing something wrong. The fix then is figure out what I am doing wrong and change it! Easy peasy.

After five decades of employing this method with only a modicum of results, I encountered a challenge that was too big for such a fruitless approach. Allowing time to assist me in healing my wounds was not something I understood until I had no other choice.

The longer I lived and the more unanswered questions piled up the weightier my world became. Rilke’s wise words hold a valuable reminder for those of us still learning to let go of the need to know why things happen as they do. We will drive ourselves crazy trying to find all of the answers.

Instead, love the questions. Embrace the uncertainty. Go with the flow of life. Allow life to unfold in a natural progression. This is not indifference, or laissez-faire. In fact it’s the opposite. It’s an active questioning and allowing each question to unfold one after the other. The answers we need to know will unfold naturally in this way.

The difficulty in making this a part of our life, is not in the difficulty of the process itself, but in the strength of our resistance to it. Once, however, we are get a taste of the freedom and energy this change in our mindset creates, it becomes easier to do. In fact, it is the most natural thing in the world and the way we were created.

Asking questions is second nature to me. As I let go of the need to pass the test, or have the answer to every question, a quiet joy arises and the world opens up exactly as it should.

The Masks We Wear

Beneath the Mask of Depression

 

 

 

How to Be Authentic and the Mother-of-the-Groom

How to Be Authentic and the Mother-of-the-Groom

Authenticity
Carnaval de Venise, Carnevale de Venezia, Venice Carnival Photo by David Pin on FlickrBeing authentic.

BEING AUTHENTIC.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what this really means for you? A thousand times each day, with each action, decision, choice or lack thereof that we make, we are called upon somewhere deep inside of ourselves to show up authentically. It’s an energetic, biochemical necessity. Research keeps supporting what many spiritual teachers and healers have known for eons and that is that if we are living a lie our body is going to reveal its dissatisfaction through illness, discomfort or worse.

When we act from a place that is not in alignment with our heart we experience stress in one way or another. It takes effort to live in confusion and it is exhausting. We may experience it as depression or anxiety or actual illness. We may become irritable, angry or confused. Decisions are hard to make and nothing feels right.

I have been in the process of shopping for a dress to wear to my son’s wedding in May. You’d think that would be reasonably doable. Every other woman I know who is attending the wedding has already happily purchased their attire. I find that almost comical! I’ve gone to numerous stores in the area and shopped online until my eyes crossed. Nothing. I’m down to two weeks.

This may appear to be a rather mundane example, but my confusion and disconnect from yet another part of me, is simply another step in my healing and growth process; in my search for my authentic self. It’s also evidence that I”m not quite there yet! 🙂 I have gone through enormous changes over the last decade – enormous interior changes. I am much more in touch with who I am than I was at fifty … or even sixty. What I am facing now in this superficial decision of what to wear to my son’s wedding, is a continuation of my attempt to bring forth the real me in external form. I want to wear something that reflects who I am now, for myself … not anyone else.  Nothing I have found so far does that. What started out as a very unconscious struggle – frustration with my choices and endless shopping – is now coming to the surface in a deeper understanding of the nature of my growing, evolving self.  I have kept my true self buried for so long, have dressed it in a thousand masks, that the excavation has taken numerous iterations and now this is one more.

[tweetthis]”The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something our hearts know is a lie” Karen Marie Moning..[/tweetthis]

When I step back from my ridiculous, over-analytical, crazed self in this moment I realize how internal this struggle really is. In those moments when I can get outside of myself I just have to laugh and think, wow, this really isn’t all that important! True. It is not. My son’s happiness on that day is what’s important. My showing up is what’s important. I know that and I have great confidence that I will show up in whatever form it takes as a proud, excited, loving Mom and I will forget all this pre-wedding chaos. In the meantime, I have to take on this conflict as it presents itself and learn what I can about myself in the process. Finding the truth, finding our truth is never easy, but it’s always worth it.

Have you had a recent experience where your mind was telling you to do something your heart didn’t want to do?

Authenticity

Wisdom Wednesday – Being Authentic

Wisdom Wednesday – Being Authentic

Being Authentic

Being authentic requires us to change…

and change doesn’t come easily for any of us. In fact, it becomes more difficult with age. Decades of buried hurts and confusion have clouded our vision, damped our courage and our ability to be authentic. We no longer even know where to begin.

We must remind ourselves, however, that we have gained strength along the way. Strength and endurance are beneficial characteristics for digging deep.

When we begin the journey toward authenticity, it’s common to feel as though we’re groping in the dark. We have been temporarily blinded us to ourselves and to what we cannot bear to see or feel.  Our subconscious muted it for our survival sake, so that we might continue to live the life we had in front of us. There comes a time to unearth that which has been hidden in order to reconnect with our true selves.

We must go beneath our facade, even when we don’t know what that looks like or how to go about it. All we know is that it’s time to find and bring forth our authentic selves, and to face all that we have buried and denied and abandoned about ourselves. It’s a primary task of aging.

For some the call is so loud we can’t hear ourselves think, until we stop and start paying attention. It’s time to turn around and face it, whatever “it” is. We must answer the call of our deeper selves. It is time.

“Be gentle with yourself for you are living through a major expansion of your faith and how you use it in the world. You are rewiring decades of old beliefs and shifting how you live your life. This is no small feat. It is OK to feel uncomfortable. Great change often brings with it discomfort and second guessing one’s self. Do not shrink back from this mission.”  ~ From The Celtic Christian Tradition

This period of change is ushering in a new beginning, a new opportunity for a deeper, richer life, one that creates abundance of a different sort.  A phase of deep reflection, of wrestling with our shadow self, of learning to once again let in the light, is a time that contains challenges like none we’ve faced before, an inner war perhaps, a straining toward our interior and away from externals. Being authentic requires work, contemplation, an openness to the teaching of others, and learning to listen to our inner world, to show up and be present to ourselves and all that lives within. Above all, we must learn to be still. Be silent. Be open to life itself.  [tweetthis display_mode=”button_link”]Above all, we must learn to be still. Be silent. Be open to life itself.[/tweetthis]

 

EPIPHANY

epiphany quote CM

Epiphany, is a word/concept that comes from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, and refers to a sudden awareness, an awakening of understanding, a striking realization that one’s perception has changed and deepened. The Christian Season of Epiphany, where this word is most often heard, is observed on January 6th and commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the Magus. Epiphany, however, is a rich symbolic word that is open to a wide variety of interpretations. Religious scholars have spent countless hours researching the history, the changes in language and understanding in the context of the words use and still cannot come to any real agreement. As time goes on, the slope becomes slippery. Yet, that is the very nature of symbolic language.

Symbolism is a powerful tool for personal use when delving into spiritual matters. There is no other way to talk about, or describe, that which we know but cannot see. Language is often a stumbling block for conversation as we misinterpret one another simply because we assign a different meaning to a word. I have avoided talking here too much about spiritual matters precisely because the language is so fluid at this point in time. “I had an epiphany” is a statement that means very different things to different people.

In spite of these obstacles, it’s a subject that can’t be overlooked. It’s a subject that is close to my heart. Those who are on the path of personal growth often find themselves at some point along the way here, in the spiritual arena.  One cannot get too far down the road of life without asking a few questions about the nature of life itself.  The spiritual quest is a fundamental thread that has run through my life, a thread that I picked up in earnest a decade ago. I will begin talking more about such things here on Wisdom Wednesday. I hope you’ll join me. I hope you’ll share pieces of your journey and we’ll struggle together with the language issues. Understanding is all I’m after here, growing in faith and wisdom, coming out of the shadows and into awareness of expanded consciousness. I believe, regardless of the words we use, we are all talking about the same thing.

You may also want to join the conversation in my closed group on Facebook:  Aging and the Inner Life

When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe one of two things: either there will be ground to stand on, or you will be given wings to fly. ~ O.R. Melling

————–

You might also enjoy:

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

More on Epiphany:

Epiphany, The Feasts of the Three Kings

The Season of Epiphany

 

 

A Post Went Viral – What It Says About Women Over Fifty

A Post Went Viral – What It Says About Women Over Fifty

A post went viralNo one was more surprised than I….

when I looked at my stats on the Aging Abundantly Facebook page a couple of weeks ago and saw that a post went viral.  I thought I was seeing things. What I was seeing was what going viral looks like in numbers! It made me giggle because I absolutely never advertise on Facebook and I bet if the powers that be happened to notice they’d be really bugged!

Historically I have gained on average 10 followers, give or take, a week since starting my page in 2010.  On February 2nd the page had 7,199 followers, all gathered like a rolling stone gathers moss. Today, a month later the number has nearly doubled.   One single post that I casually posted like every other post made that happen.

Reflecting on the nature of the post and the Aging Abundantly follower’s reactions to it, I began to reflect on what it meant. The post hit a nerve for a reason. It said something about the mindset and self-perception of women over fifty.

This is the post: Be sure to like it! 🙂 AND PLEASE COME BACK and let me know why you think the post went viral. 

WHAT IT REALLY MEANS THAT A POST WENT VIRAL

As of this moment, the post has reached 8,362,751 people. It has been shared 124,542 times. It has received 13 K Likes. I have read every single comment, and with maybe two or three exceptions the sentiment has been a variation of “what mirror, I avoid them!”, or “every day”, or “I hate mirrors”, or “How awful, I look just like my mother!”… or father…or great Aunt Betty. For some there is laughter, for many, many more there is sadness and disappointment, a feeling that they fear they are no longer of value because of the image there mirror reflects.

Mirrors appears in many ancient stories and tales. They symbolize a universal concept – an archetype. Think of the story of Snow White and the wicked witch who was obsessed with the magic mirror – “mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all”?  A mirror shows us something about ourselves that we are not paying attention to, or are not able to accept. A mirror, in this context, reflects to us our shadow selves.

This post went viral because women are experiencing great discomfort with the aging process, despite what the media is saying about us.  We do not like what is happening not only to our bodies or how we appear to the world.  No matter how much we try to make these feelings go away we just can’t seem to find a place of acceptance and love. We go about life either hating what we see in the mirror, not looking at all, or laughing it off hoping against hope that we will morph back to a younger age, the person we used to be.

I believe this is a symptom of both our victimization by a youth obsessed culture and our inability to see the truth about the gifts we now possess.  We continue to have distorted expectations, warped values that all translate into self-loathing and shame. Many of us have been talking about this for a decade or more, but it would seem that there is much work still to be done. I’d like to imagine that one day we could see the aging body as a beautiful symbol of a fully lived life – a body richly decorated with the beauty of life itself and the courage it has taken to survive. I would like to look into the eyes of an old woman and see strength and character, not fear and self-loathing.

Today I saw an article on Huffington Post – 11 Middle-Aged Women Strip Down to Reclaim Sexy On Their Own Terms.  Something about it really bothered me. I admire the women in the article who participated for trying to make sense of it all and for being willing to put themselves out there to do so. However, their unresolved issues around their sexuality caught my attention. The very context and approach of the article and photo shoot was ego-based. Nothing about it spoke to the deeper, more valuable beauty of women over fifty.  It’s as if we’re trying to mix apples and oranges. Why does sexy matter? Why do we talk about it endlessly? Why are we obsessed with sex at every age? Sex, like aging is a natural part of life. Beauty is an inside job at every age. Aging is an inside job as well. Physical beauty is an inside job most especially as we age. We keep talking about this, but keep being drawn back to the mirror provided by the culture.

I don’t think our obsession with mirrors and self-loathing has anything at all to do with our appearance. What it has to do with is what’s behind the eyes that are looking in the mirror – what we see when we look in the mirror tells us how we really feel about ourselves, our life, our value as human beings. It does not reflect the reality of who we are and it’s not about external appearances. I know there have been days I look in the mirror and I like what I see. There are days when I don’t. This can take place when in 24 hours of each other. Did I suddenly undergo an external transformation? I don’t think so. What’s changed is my outlook on myself and my life. It’s about my level of self-esteem. It’s whether I am feeling comfortable in my own skin from the inside out.

The fact that this post  went viral tells me that, ladies, we have work to do! There are masks to be removed, hurts to be healed, and a heavy dose of self-love to be swallowed.