Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Through Thick and Thin" Kicks Off, "Women, Food and God" Weekly Support Group

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

Hello Community,

May 12th, 2010 will go down as a very pivotal moment in history for the non-diet movement. It was on this day that Oprah had Geneen Roth on her show to discuss her new book, "Women, Food and God". Many of us have been waiting for Oprah to pick up the baton and spread the message to the global community as only she can. As I watched the interview, it felt like a victory for all of us.

I'm glad that Oprah has decided to give up her battle of the bulge and instead learn how to deeply care for herself. This was quite a leap in her rather public struggle. I know it took a great deal of courage, self-reflection, and honesty for her to come out and announce to the world at large that she will never diet again.

I enjoyed the show very much. I do wish that Geneen had more of the floor. I feel that Oprah did most of the talking and I really wanted to hear more of what Geneen had to say. Talking to many other people who saw this interview I have come to discover that this was the general consensus. I also was disappointed that the show did seem to have overtones of the diet mentality peppered throughout. Hey, I get it. Americans want to see results. It's all about the numbers. However, images of before and after shots seemed to run completely counterintuitive to the message that was being shared. It reminded me of something very pertinent that Linda Bacon said in her book, "Health at Every Size". I'm paraphrasing here, but quintessentially Linda expressed that intuitive eating approached like a diet is nothing more than a diet. I couldn't agree with her more.

With splashy images of now thin women who had used the approach outlined in Geneen's books and workshops, the general message conveyed was, "Follow this path and you too can be skinny. You can have the body you've always wanted." Sadly, I feel this does a great disservice. I would have appreciated a more well-rounded view of what this process really entails.

I heard no discussion whatsoever about the anxiety that is encountered when making the choice to never diet again. The illusion was painted that this is a seamless transition free of complication. Those of us who have spent any length of time using this approach know that it is anything but. I heard nothing of the struggle, the confusion, the emotional upheaval, or the fact that where your body chooses to happily settle may not even be in the ballpark of the fantasy view you covet of your body's natural size.

This is not a quick fix. It is the road less traveled and a long, winding road at that. However, despite the ups and downs, it is worth every step taken on the road back to you. That's what we are doing here. We are finding our way back to ourselves... our sacred selves. We are excavating our authentic life. A life that has become buried under the rubble of food and body obsession. Food and body obsession has served as a distraction in our lives. It has prevented us from feeling our emotions, owning our truth, being in contact with our true needs, and discovering the source of our passion and purpose. This is a process of reclaiming. If you think it has anything to do with the size of your dress or the silly little number on a scale, you are missing the point... big time.

Of course we all desire to be our best self. We all want health and vitality but this reality is never obtained by fixating on our weight, stepping on the scale each morning, or having our lives amount to nothing more than the pursuit of thinness. Ironically, health and well-being become the natural result when you nurture self-love and respect. When you have high regard for yourself, you want to take the very best care of you. There is no need for coercion. No dangling carrot that needs to be chased after. When you accept yourself through and through in this moment, you move from reacting, to responding. Reaction is based in fear and response in love. When you get up each morning and greet the day with excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead, you are responding. When you can look at your reflection in the mirror and smile because you know that in this moment, you are more than enough, in fact, you are quite wonderful... you are responding. When you feed your body nourishing foods and move in a way that infuses your life with pleasure and fun, you are responding. Love is the movement and from this momentum all self-care takes root and flourishes.

Diets are based on reaction. You feel crappy about yourself and your life so you react by blaming your body for all of your woes rather than tuning in and feeling out what is really going on. You feel there is no meaning and purpose in your life. Instead of getting in touch with this sense of lack and gaining understanding into your needs and how they can be met, you cling to the illusion that if you only weighed 20 lbs. less everything in your life would be perfect. It's not that carrying around a lot of excess physical baggage can't compromise your sense of wellness. As Geneen Roth states in, "Women, Food and God", if the size of your body has created a scenario where your entire life revolves around your sense of limitation, it's time to think of taking better care of yourself. If you are huffing and puffing to get up a flight of stairs, if you can't tie your own shoes, if getting up out of a chair takes a monumental effort, it is time to consider how well you are showing up for yourself. But... even in these cases, focusing on the weight will not free you from your gilded cage because you never get to the heart of the matter. You never really figure out the ways your current behavior is serving you. That emptiness inside never gets addressed and you remain in a self-perpetuating cycle of abuse. Moving toward self-love, respect, and acceptance is the path to freedom.

Despite my disappointment with certain aspects of the interview, every time that Geneen spoke I hung on every word. I was so moved by Geneen's offerings that I promptly went out that very evening and purchased a copy of, "Women, Food and God". It was the best $16.48 I ever spent. I devoured the book in a day and a half and actually felt sad when I reached the final page. Every single word in that book rang true as if it was written upon my heart. Every word on each page could have been spoken from my own lips.

This was one of those books that came to me at the perfect time in my life. Much of the information contained in its pages had begun to formulate in my mind over the past few months. For this reason, I found it an extremely validating read. I also gained some incredible insights about myself. Things that had flown under my radar and escaped my knowing but were such a pivotal part of my recovery process.

I attend weekly ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) meetings. I call, "Women, Food and God" my portable support group because much of the information was familiar to me. We work with a lot of the techniques Geneen covers in my ANAD group. As a result, this book has been a tremendous source of support for me.

I also think that Geneen addresses a lot of topics that frequently come up on any intuitively-based path. I feel this is an extremely important read for everyone struggling with food and body image issues, no matter your history. I also think it contains a wealth of information for those who have never had to contend with such issues. There is wisdom in this book for everyone.

"Through Thick and Thin", our sister community, has decided to launch a, "Women, Food and God" support group. Beginning in June 2010, this group will meet weekly at the, "Through Thick and Thin" community forum...

The intention is to work, as a group, chapter by chapter through Geneen's book. Each week will feature a chapter and focus discussion. There will also be opportunity for individuals to discuss challenges they may be facing with this approach so they can gain the support they need. Questions will also be welcomed... encouraged even. Additionally, each week will have a group exercise that can be done in between meetings in order to embody the path in each of our lives, making it more real.

This group is open to anyone who is interested. Don't let the title of the book fool you. Men are more than welcomed to participate. This book has a lot to offer the fellas too. Meetings will take place every Thursday throughout the day beginning June 3rd. There is no need to check in at any specific time. The discussion will be on-going throughout the day. Pop in as your schedule allows and contribute to the conversation. We look forward to sharing this experience with each and every one of you.

You can obtain a copy of Geneen Roth's, "Women, Food and God" by following this link...

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Project Me" Update


Remember how I promised to share my experience with this project honestly? Well, here I am, coming clean. My decluttering efforts have been coming along slowly and this is mostly because I have been distracted. Since starting this project, I have experienced a subsequent upswing in my eating disorder behavior.

Last Saturday in ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) group I shared the recent eating disorder challenges I have been wading through. I noticed that ED's acting up coincided with the start of this project I created for myself. Barbara, the therapist who leads the ANAD group, gave me some valuable guidance. While she supported my intention to enjoy more homemade meals, she felt I needed to give myself some breathing room with this and back off from making it such an absolute condition of having to cook all my meals at home for 30 days straight. She believes this delves into an area of rigidity that can lead me back into patterns of restriction, deprivation, and starvation, fueling the eating disorder.

I heard her loud and clear. I have been cooking the majority of my meals at home. Some aspects of this have felt very supportive. My home-cooked meals feel more nurturing to my body. However, I have decided to lighten up around this because I think Barbara makes a valid point. After all, I cannot deny the correlation between the launch of, "Project Me" and subsequent rise in my eating disorder behavior.

I did share in group that I noticed the way I create back door scenarios that let my ED behavior creep in. I have been doing a lot of heavy emotional work. For the first time in my life, I am being fully present with my feelings. It has been a lot for me to deal with emotionally. There have been moments I have felt wrung out and drained. The thought, "I wish I could just make this stop" has danced through my head. Only problem is, I haven't been able to stop the flow of feeling. It just keeps coming... like a floodgate has been opened. It's OK. I understand all of this needs to be cleared in order for me to move forward. At the same time, understanding the necessity of this emotional work doesn't make it any easier to deal with the intolerable feelings that can arise. Throughout my life, I have used eating disorder as a way to disconnect and disassociate from my intolerable emotions. As you can see, the increased volume of my painful feelings has created a scenario akin to a dog chasing its own tail.

Quite conveniently, as the difficult emotions continued to surface, I decided to launch, "Project Me". During this period of deep emotional upheaval I set out on a challenge to cook all of my meals at home for the next 30 days. ED is a sneaky bastard and is very clever at finding alternate routes to gain control, especially when everything feels so emotionally messy. I totally set myself up by stocking my cupboards full of foods that require an inordinate amount of preparation... dry beans, rice, whole grains, lentil pilafs... you get the picture. While these may be wholesome foods my decision to load my kitchen full of ingredients that would require lengthy preparation is a bit like going from 0-60 MPH overnight. This is all or nothing mentality in full swing. Keep in mind that prior to making this switch I was almost exclusively dining out for all of my meals. I created an impossible scenario and what I want to make clear is that this was not coincidence. It was cunning.

ED is what drove me to set up my environment this way. Essentially, I put out the welcome mat and said, "Come on in ED. Feel free to take over." This gave me a brilliant excuse to fall into eating disorder behavior. My end aim was achieved. I could disconnect from the difficult feelings that have been surfacing within me. ED effectively achieved this desired result. With ED acting up, I have been completely distracted from the emotional work. Instead, my eating disorder challenges have consumed every bit of my attention. It is such a clever form of distraction from the difficult feelings! These past couple of weeks have shown me just how effectively ED helps me turn off the emotions. No wonder I have yet to find full recovery. ED continues to serve me well. I have yet to develop new coping skills to replace ED's role in my life. Until I do, I will remain stuck.

I believe that in the back of my mind I knew I was setting myself up. I created a very high-pressure scenario that made the proposition of cooking, and therefore eating, absolutely inconvenient, if not improbable. I was alerted to this obvious fact when looking around the circle of members at ANAD group on Saturday. Each person knowingly laughed and nodded their heads in recognition, having played out similar scenarios in their own lives. It became pretty damn clear what was going on.

In the interest of my recovery, I have decided to back off from the cooking portion of this challenge. It is too much of a leap for me at this time. Pairing this with the decluttering process is sending me into overdrive. It is causing my feelings of overwhelm to escalate and I believe this is why my eating disorder issues have become exacerbated in the past couple of weeks. It always comes back to this. When the intolerable feelings go up, I want to come in, tamp it down, control the food, and manipulate my body in order to gain a sense of containment for what feels completely unmanageable in my life.

I now understand why my eating disorder issues have been aggravated. In the past month or so, I have placed the focus back on food and my body size the deeper I travel into the emotional healing work. There has additionally been outside triggers fueling the eating disorder. Medical professionals have put me under a lot of pressure to address my health and when they say 'health', what they really mean, in no uncertain terms, is address my body size. This fuels my fear, pits me against my body, and throws me back into the disorder. I may start out with the best of intentions, but any manipulation around eating experiences to achieve a desired physical result, even one medically advised, triggers my eating disorder. No matter how well-meaning doctors believe their admonishments to reduce body size are, they must understand how harmful this focus is for those who struggle with eating disorder.

This experience has made it abundantly clear that I need to secure better support for myself as I go through this deep period of emotional release work. Knowing that I already feed myself in a very balanced, nourishing way, and that I enjoy this, I should view any desire to manipulate my eating experiences in the name of 'health' as a red flag. After all, I eat nutritiously. Treats make up a very reasonable part of my lifestyle. I know exactly what foods fuel my body and make me feel my best. I don't need to make any changes in this regard. The ED mentality found a clever way to manipulate my food experiences with this challenge in order to contain and control the painful emotions that have been surfacing in me. This is how ED serves me. This is the role eating disorder is playing in my life. 

Do I need to cook more of my meals at home? Yes. Would this help improve my health? Absolutely. Will it also save me money? Most certainly. Can I only guarantee true food quality when preparing meals with my own two hands? Sure. Do I need to be so controlled with it that I never let myself eat out? Not by a long shot!

I agree with Barbara. She is a smart cookie. I'm glad I was willing to open myself up to the group and share the challenges I have been struggling with. Barbara helped me own the scenario I was creating... a situation where it would be easy to fall back into ED patterns.

I'm done focusing on food. I eat in a very balanced way when I am eating and that is the key. Simply because my body has yet to physically reflect this balanced relationship with food in a way that doctors or the world at large view as an indication of success doesn't mean squat. Maybe my body will never fit within the confines of society's view of what a 'healthy' body looks like. In our culture, thinness has been equated with health. This is a gross distortion of fact. All I do know for certain is that eating disorder breeds so much suffering in my life. If being out of the disorder means I need to be a thick mama... then so be it. I will not let doctors, or anyone else for that matter, continue to pressure me to look a certain way so they can be more comfortable with me. What is important is that I am comfortable with myself. It is time for me to stand up and be a personal advocate for my recovery.

I can allow room for flexibility in my approach. I am choosing to view eating out as a treat. As Barbara advised me, I should be able to look forward to going out to eat once or twice a week. Dining out cannot provide the foundation of a solid practice of self-care, but it does give me pleasure and enjoyment. I shouldn't have to go without.

I swear, I am always learning new things on this path. At least now when I hit snags, the duration I stay stuck lessens each go around. I'm also able to see what is blocking my path to recovery and switch things up so I feel better supported. For the time being, my focus with, "Project Me" will be on cooking at home more often, rather than making homemade meals an absolute condition. I will also continue in my decluttering efforts and give room for understanding that it is a process. I do not need to overhaul my entire life in one fell swoop. Lesson learned! 

Monday, May 3, 2010

"The Big Fat Lie" May 2010 Community Focus


This month our community focus is about clearing the clutter to allow more room for personal fulfillment. Clutter comes in many forms and it's not just about the extra stuff filling up your home. It is also about all the unnecessary things we cling to that are taking up residence in our minds, bodies and spirits, preventing us from moving forward. This month, take out the trash. Toss all that junk that is getting in between you and the life you deserve to live.


Sometimes our minds can become so full of clutter. We find it hard to let go of our thoughts about all the things still needing to be crossed off our to-do lists. Stress is created when we flood our minds with concern about what tomorrow will bring, or continually mentally go over events that happened to us earlier in the day. In the stillness, we find peace and relief.

Begin a nightly practice of emptying your mind of cares and concerns by starting a, "Take Out The Trash" journal. Let this journal become the space where you deposit all the garbage at the end of the day. Let it all go. Whatever worries, concerns, or stresses are occupying your thoughts can be emptied in the journal. It's easy to become entangled in the stress to the extent that it almost feels like a part of you. It can become difficult to hear your own voice above all the noise of mental chatter. It helps to get it out of your system and onto paper. It allows a fresh perspective to come in.

Write in your journal in a free-form style. This isn't about composing a compelling writing piece. It is literally about allowing your stream of thought to be emptied so you can find some solace at the end of the day. Gripe, bitch, moan and groan all you want. No one is going to judge you. Let it come out raw and uncensored. This is your private space to clear out the trash so you can let it go and get back in touch with you. Make a deal with yourself that once you have finished writing in your journal you are done stressing for the day. Signal this to your subconscious with a symbolic act. After you've had a chance to take out all the mental trash and have read your entry, rip the page out of your journal, crumple it up or tear it to shreds and throw it in the garbage bin. You'll be amazed at the en-lightening effect this has.


What is getting in the way of providing yourself with consistent self-care? When we notice imbalanced behaviors developing it is time to engage in the most basic self-care. This is particularly relevant for those in recovery from eating disorder. What is basic self-care? What does this look like?

Basic Self-Care Is...

  • Making sure you get enough quality sleep.
  • Feeding yourself a variety of nourishing foods, consistently.
  • Tending to personal hygiene and grooming, i.e., bathing, combing hair, brushing teeth, etc.
  • Managing stress with meditation, yoga, time spent outdoors in the fresh air, therapy sessions, listening to music that soothes you, connecting with a friend for a walk, journaling, etc.
  • Getting daily exercise that you enjoy.
  • Making sure you have support from others and in your environment through, support groups, social connection, and spirituality.
How do we recognize that we are dancing close to the edge, about to lose our balance? By paying attention to the warning signs and clearing the way to engage in a practice of the most basic self-care. What signs show up when we are letting our needs slip?

Red Flags...

  • Staying up into the wee hours of the night. Inevitably, this causes the quality and quantity of sleep to decline.
  • Depression: Feelings of hopelessness or despair. Can't even muster the energy or desire to provide yourself with the most basic self-care.
  • Popping Pills: Sleeping pills, laxatives, diuretics, weight-loss supplements, excessive intake of stimulants like caffeine from coffee and soda, abusing alcohol or drugs, taking meal replacement shakes instead of providing yourself with a real meal.
  • Feeling resentful because all of your energy is going out and nothing is coming back in. The surfacing of issues such as, co-dependency and caretaking of others to the extent that your own needs go unmet.
  • Irritability, moodiness, and hostility.
  • Isolation and withdrawal from social interaction.
Take an honest look at the physical state your life and health are in. Do you feel supported? Do you have a solid practice of self-care in place? If not, what's getting in the way and what do you need to do to better support yourself? Maybe there is so much chaos in your home that it acts as a distraction and prevents you from focusing on what needs to be addressed in your life. Perhaps you are over-extended with obligations and are so exhausted at the end of the day that you feel there is no time left for you to take care of yourself. Then again, if you are dealing with an issue like eating disorder, depression, or anxiety, you may be lacking the help you need from therapy or support groups. Be truthful with yourself. Acknowledge where you are stuck so you can begin to move forward. Take the steps you need to take to declutter your life so your basic self-care is non-negotiable. Immediately get back to addressing your needs so the imbalance does not take on a life of its own. Show up and act on your own behalf.


Work with the, "When One Door Closes, Another Opens" exercise to clear the emotional clutter that is blocking you from living your authentic life.

Feel Your Connection to Nature:

With all of this clearing work, it is important to refill your cup. Nature, nurtures. The natural world is such a powerful healer. Allow yourself to receive the healing, grounding energy of the natural world that is all around you. This month, make it a daily practice to spend some time outdoors in contemplation. Perhaps you could go to a private spot and watch the sunset or sunrise each day. Commune with nature. Think about your life and the issues before you. Ask from your heart for nature to renew you... to give you clarity, guidance, healing energy, direction... whatever you feel you are in most need of at this time. Then sit and allow yourself to receive. Be open to the experience and honor whatever comes forward. Allow yourself to feel the healing power of nature.

When we were children, we weren't so questioning. We didn't require so many explanations. See if you can let go of the reasoning mind for this moment in time. Allow your wild, intuitive nature to take over when you come into contact with the natural world. Keep your judgments in check and give yourself the opportunity to receive whatever gift nature has to offer you. It can be a deeply enriching experience.

When One Door Closes, Another Opens... An Exercise to Manifest Your Authentic Life


The following exercise is a result of a collaborative effort between Joe and myself. Considering that you are all familiar with me, I thought I'd introduce you to Joe. Joe is a member of our community. He is actively involved both here at, "The Big Fat Lie" and at, "Through Thick and Thin". Through an awakening, Joe has been called to be of service and to bring his healing contribution forward in the world. He has started a wonderful blog to chronicle his experiences...

A few days ago, Joe posted an intriguing exercise on the, "Through Thick and Thin" community forum. I will share Joe's post with you now...

"I have come up with something that has really helped me not just with eating but with many areas of life. See, the subconscious mind really likes stories and metaphor. It will really start to feel like what you are telling it is the truth. So much so, that as you continue to tell yourself the same story over and over again it literally becomes fused into your mind. There is also a metaphysical and scientific idea that whatever you think about and focus on becomes your life. Basically, that we are creating our own reality. So, what's the point of telling you all of this?

Well, I have an idea for you to try to help keep your mind focused on what you want to create. Simply write a story about you. Write it in the 3rd person. Write it as though you are telling some one else your story. The key is to not focus on the dramas of the past. You have to let go of all of the crap you have been living with thus far when you are writing this story. It should be about exactly who you want to be and how you see your life.

It doesn't have to be overly long. It can be a couple of pages. Just be as descriptive and simple as possible. Describe how you see yourself in all aspects, (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually). Talk about what kind of job you are doing. How you are dealing with others and how they are dealing with you. Describe what type of financial or love life etc. that you want. Have fun with it and write it from your heart and spirit. Try to keep your rational mind out of it as much as possible.

Then the task is to read the story every morning. When you wake up read the story to yourself as a ritual. Every time you feel depressed, feel like binging etc, read the story. You can also edit it as circumstances change or as you wish to add more detail to it. I think that you will be surprised at how things start changing around you. At first it will be subtle but as time goes on you may find that your life is more like the story than you thought possible.

Trust me it really works!"

I loved this exercise Joe presented and was eager to implement this practice in my life. I have done plenty of affirmation and intention work for many years. I have seen some benefit from this practice, but always felt a little blocked. It's something I haven't really been able to put my finger on. I thought perhaps writing out the story of the life I wish to create as if it already were, may have a more convincing effect on my subconscious. This sparked an interesting conversation between me and a dear friend. We talked about Joe's exercise and then elaborated on the original concept. What we arrived at is a way to heal the past, while holding the vision for the future. I will now share what I posted in response to Joe on the forum...

"Hi Joe,

I wanted to add something to this discussion. I was talking to a good friend of mine this morning and sharing your exercise with her. It sparked an interesting dialogue between the two of us and we thought of a way to take this exercise a step further that I wanted to share with you and the community.

I think feeding the vision of the life we want to live is essential when it comes to healing and most certainly for those in recovery from ED. In fact, in eating disorder therapy, this is something that is really emphasized... the need to create a vision for the life you want to live. Eating disorder therapy also involves the necessary healing work of clearing the past, and finding a path to forgiveness of self and others.

As my friend and I were discussing your exercise this morning and talking about what an empowering practice we thought it would be, she said, "Now, what if you combine this exercise with a practice of rewriting stories from your past? With the past energy cleared, the new story will more readily take root." That made a lot of sense to me.

She's in human services and shared something she learned in her training where you draw up a timeline of your life, dividing it into 10 year increments beginning from birth, to the age you are presently. For each decade, you mark on the timeline significant life events, both positive and negative/traumatic in nature. Once your timeline is completed, you are able to spot certain patterns... the ways that our history/herstory intertwines with our present. Many patterns are repeated through a lifetime and can relate to past negative experiences and traumas that were not fully grieved, mourned, shed, and released.

She then suggested going through your timeline and picking several very significant events... things that really changed you as a person, or molded your life view. The focus would be on events that are negative/traumatic in nature. She then said, "What if you rewrote those story lines and took a difficult situation but revised it in such a way that would allow you to find peace with the experience so you can release it and let it go?"

I'll give you an example that we discussed. Let's say that you had a falling out with a parent and this created a rift between the two of you that remains unhealed to this day. Surely, there are things that both of you could have handled differently. However, when we feel wounded, often all we can see is our pain... our point of view. Let's say the rift was caused by an argument where the two of you both saw things very differently and you haven't spoken since. In fact, it has been years since the two of you have had a conversation. This has greatly impacted you and created a limiting energy that prevents you from moving forward in certain areas of your life.

I think this happens a lot. I believe that intention is powerful. I believe that it is important to hold a clear vision of the life you want to create. I also believe it is important to clear the clutter of the past so there is room for that new vision to become a reality. Otherwise, our perceptions, beliefs, and deeply ingrained expectations can cloud the waters and make for murky manifestation. It is important to be present and sometimes, being present involves addressing the past in the now so you can be free and clear to move forward unobstructed.

What if you rewrote the story of this argument with your parent that created the rift and really came from the heart and your soul as you described? Describe the situation from a higher vantage point. In this retelling, say the things you wished you had said and hear the things from your parent you wished you had heard. What if in the retelling you wrote a story where you both could come to understand the situation through the other's eyes and came to a place of peace and acceptance with each other? If you read this story to yourself daily, how would that shift your life experience? Would it have a healing effect on this situation that has troubled you for so long, even if it was a sense of peace awakening within your own heart?

Now, after doing this healing work, how much more potent would your exercise to call in your highest life vision be? I have a feeling it would be immensely powerful!

My friend and I were talking about how you could take this one past situation at a time, working with the issues that have greatly impacted you, while simultaneously working with the exercise you created Joe. How cool is that?! We thought it was pretty cool and felt it could have a very life-enhancing effect. I think I am going to combine this rewriting of a past story with your approach and see what happens. I already have a few issues in mind that I would like to do some release work around.

I just wanted to share this with you. It would be quite a potent community challenge to combine these two processes together. As you said Joe, our minds respond to story and metaphor. Why would this not have the same effect in rewriting the stories of the past? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. It sparked a really interesting conversation between me and my friend... took us to some wild places. My curiosity is peaked, so I definitely want to explore this."

From the marrying of these two concepts has come a comprehensive healing practice to find peace and closure with the past so space can be freed to allow the new vision of the life you want to live to enter. Sometimes people avoid healing the past and taking steps toward forgiveness. They would rather wipe their hands clean of yesterday and be done with it. I can certainly understand the desire to never look back and keep on, keepin' on. I have spent a lifetime doing just that, figuring that nothing can erase what has been done, so why bother addressing those issues? However, I have come to be aware of what a defense mechanism this has been for me.

We always hear the concept of the present being our point of power. I agree that this holds true. We are either here now, or we are nowhere. However, making peace with the past can be a necessary step in fostering presence. Doing healing work on past situations does not imply that you are stuck, living in yesteryear. Many misunderstand what true presence is really about. It is not about living in denial and putting on blinders. Sometimes, to be present you have to own your past and take steps to heal former issues in the now.

I'm actually excited to work with both aspects of this exercise. In my personal experience with affirmation work I have found marginal success in focusing on the future with positive intention. However, I stress marginal because there always seems to come a point in the process where I hit a brick wall. I believe this wall is built brick by brick with deep-held beliefs, conditioning, and expectations about what we are able to receive out of life based on past experiences. I agree that when it comes to the past, what's done is done. However, you can't just drop the past like a bad habit and think that it has no effect on who you are today. Those past experiences color your present life and indeed, your future. For example, let's say you wanted to create an abundant life, particularly in the area of your career and finances. If you grew up in poverty, how effectively do you think you would be able to call in this abundance? Surely, growing up poor has given you some powerful life experiences that have formulated your view of abundance and your ability to receive. These conditioned beliefs about abundance will act as a limiting factor that does not allow intention work to be completely effective. In order to manifest the life you envision for your future, you have to clear and resolve the energy of the past. The past after all, is foundational in who you are as a person.

The person you are today springs from the past and the experiences you have been through. This includes both positive and limiting aspects of yourself. A great book to read on this topic is, "You Can Heal Your Life", By, Louise L. Hay....

You Can Heal Your Life

Louise was diagnosed with cancer. She was told that she didn't have much time to live and that she would be required to go through extensive chemotherapy if she hoped to have any chance at survival. Something awoke in Louise when she received this dismal diagnoses. She got a solid intuitive hit that the reason she developed cancer was because she was holding onto resentment related to her past. It is interesting to note that many cancer patients have made this connection... that something is eating away at them emotionally and needs to be addressed before the cancer can be healed. This may sound like a rather airy-fairy concept to some, but there has been extensive research into the area of the mind-body connection. What has been established is that there appears to be a link between what the mind believes and how the body responds physically. You can find quite a few powerful stories out there about this.

Louise L. Hay began to work with affirmation, positive intention, and visualization. She went without traditional medical treatment because she firmly believed if she could release the resentment that she was carrying from the past, come to a place of forgiveness, and hold positive intentions of her future self, healed and whole, she would be able to release her condition of cancer. That is exactly what she did. She was considered a medical miracle. However, she remains adamant that her recovery was the direct result of releasing the power the past had over her by making peace with it, while simultaneously holding a firm vision of the life she wanted to live.

I have unresolved issues from my past. It's true that I can't go back and change what happened, but I can reclaim my power by giving myself a voice. I think it's important that our voice is heard. We all need that validation. We all deserve to say our peace.

Sometimes, we encounter experiences that we feel unable to address. We lack the emotional readiness to delve into certain areas, especially when pain is involved in order to work through the difficulty and find resolution. I personally have encountered situations that were too painful for me to deal with at the time. In reactiveness, I shut down, disconnected, and turned to eating disorder in order to survive and keep going. Above all, in times of crisis we will move toward self-preservation, even if those means of coping are not balanced or truly supportive. Those unresolved issues are like open wounds. I carry them with me to do this day. Those past issues affect me in the now. When past memories surface of times I have been tested to my core I can feel the intensity of the emotion as if it just happened. All the years that have passed do not create distance in terms of my feelings. Emotionally, I'm transported to that still frame in time. Nothing has been released or resolved. Those past experiences continue to play a role in my life to this day.

My past will always be a part of me. It cannot be erased or blotted from my soul. However, I do not need to fall into victimization by playing the blame game and clinging to anger, bitterness, and resentment. I know everything that happened in my past is exactly as it was meant to be. Yes... even the painful moments. My past is the culmination of the woman I am today. However, I believe I will not fully step into my power and reclaim my life until I find a path to peace with yesterday's experiences. I may not have been able to deal with those traumas then, but I am strong enough to face them now. This, in its purest essence, is presence. Presence is when you have the willingness to show up, feel, and consciously engage in your life experience... all of it... past, present, and future.

The forgiveness and release work I am currently doing around my past is a gift I give to myself. It sets me free. It allows me to shed the shackles of the past, redefining my beliefs and expectations about receiving. I believe that as I continue to clear the past, much like Louise L. Hay, I will be able to call in my future because I have created the emotional space to let it in. The way will no longer be blocked and barred by the self-imposed limitations of the beliefs I developed through my past experiences.

For this reason, I am eager to write both the stories of my past and future. Personally, I feel that releasing the past, and coming to a space within of peace and forgiveness will be absolutely key if I hope to create a life that fulfills me. I also know it will be essential in my recovery from eating disorder.

I believe rewriting the story of the past in tandem with creating our story for the future may be the missing link. I have never used these concepts in tandem so I have no idea what the end result will be. I am curious to explore this exercise though and see what comes up.

This month, I encourage you to do the same. As Joe suggested, write up the story of your future life. Set your intention for where you want to go. It is always helpful to have a destination in mind when setting out on any journey. The story of your future self can act as a road map. As Joe said, there is always room for detours too. Often when we begin shifting and evolving, our desires change. Where you are looking to be in this moment may turn into an entirely different arriving point as you go through your healing process. Keep your options open and know that nothing is written in stone. You always have the power to revise your story. Use this story of the future you to reinforce your vision at times in your life when you are struggling, feel insecure, or a dealing with eating disorder issues. This will have an empowering influence and remind you that challenges are temporary. You always have the power to direct your course away from what isn't working for you, toward a future that will fulfill you.

Simultaneously, drawn up your life line and pinpoint those significant life experiences that led you to where you are currently. Notice if you see any patterns. Do certain scenarios seem to crop up consistently throughout your life? This is not a coincidence. This is the direct result of your past conditioning and likely relates to issues where you may need resolution and closure. This doesn't make you a failure or a victim. We all have our stuff and we also have the power to create healing for ourselves. When we are willing to go there, own our lives, and show up on our behalf to do the deeper work, we are present. We reclaim our power and shed the limitations of the past like an old skin.

Pick one story from your past to rewrite. Let your voice be heard. You deserve to have your say in this matter. As a daily ritual, begin first by reading the retelling of your past story. Honor whatever feelings surface through this process. Hold space for the emotions to come. Then read your future story. This is a powerful statement... an extremely affirming act. Quite literally, you are saying, "I am willing to heal the past and let it go so I can welcome in the new and all the good seeking to find me."

I will share my experience with this exercise and the effect it has on my life. I also look forward to connecting with others who take up this challenge. I would love to hear about your experiences working with this exercise. Feel free to share with the community the way this practice creates openings in your life and heart.