New Fears Are Creeping In

Yesterday I sipped on sips of soup and smoothie just to see what it was like. My mouth believed it to be glorious. My stomach disagreed. For hours it cried foul, moaning a long laborious Fuuuuuuuuuck Yooooooooouuuuu. Today I repeated the behavior to see if I fared better. Stomach did, brain didn’t.

Those few gulps of sustenance opened the floodgates to a whole new set of fears. They moved in quickly, trying to take up residency in my heart. They whisper of failure because I had the gall to take a sip of something other than juice. Loser! They chide me with barbs aimed at my lifelong struggles with moderation and forgiveness.  What if I fail right out of the gate, regain all the weight and go back to being bloated and frustrated? Don’t worry, they say, just give up and eat! You know you want to. No one would know anyway. Just do it.

They sound like those immature bastards at parties who always convince you to have one more shot of tequila.

I’m really good at going balls out and I’m really good at absolute restraint. It’s all that livin’ in between stuff that I find so complicated. In my youth I believed my extremist tendencies set me apart, made me interesting and, let’s face it, better than everyone else. As I got older they became more difficult to maintain until I reached a magical point of no longer finding them helpful and a true desire to explore moderation. But giving them up was no easy picnic. (And really, did i? I’m pretty sure I’m still in the midst of a 40 day fast for crying out loud.)

Moderation is something I’ve really had to work on. I always find a thing, a food, a drink, a person, a feeling, whatever and focus an inordinate amount of my attention on it. I feel empty without it. Sometimes it’s necessary focus; often it’s borderline OCD. Inside my head I engage in epic warfare over whether I should commit to my resolve or let myself off the hook, but if I’m lenient with myself I have to deal with forgiveness and be sure to not get lazy in the future and what if and who’s right and on and on. Exhausting.

Life shouldn’t be a constant struggle. It’s only a struggle when we let our ego cloud us and talk louder than what’s underneath.

That’s what’s going on right now. Eat, Eat, Eat, Eat, Eat is just about all I can hear in there. Yet more than ever I’m aware of the little consistent voice under it saying Drink, Drink, Drink, Drink, Drink. My heart is honestly still telling me to finish. It’s still whispering We don’t know what’s going to happen.

So I think about Bono singing Don’t let the bastards grind you down in my favorite U2 song Acrobat. I think about yesterday’s horoscope and my friend’s thoughtful comment. Most of all I think about the Tao:

People often fail when they are on the verge of success.

So pay as much attention to the end as you did to the beginning.

I stand here in my kitchen on this 38th day, making yet another batch of this godforsaken lemonade. I hereby reaffirm my resolve to see this through to the end and raise my glass to Lao Tsu. No more soup. No more smoothies. Just juice and lemonade.

Thanks for everything you’ve taught me. This one’s for you, man.

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The Come Down

What is this sense of let down I’m feeling today? Is it the onset of the Portland rains? My dog being sick? Slow sales at the cart? Is it something simple or is it larger than that?

I’m disappointed about my leg hurting again and considering my plans to get x-rays and see doctors. Doctors feel like defeat, as if something I worked really hard for is dying in front of me.

It could be that I’m mellow because I’m low energy because I’ve been drinking less lemonade because I’m giving up because I haven’t been sleeping well because I’m letting my disappointment creep in and take over.

Today’s horoscope helps me re-think it all:

More often than not, emotional situations don’t work out the way they should — like they do in the movies, that is — but now, thanks to something that happened recently under highly unusual circumstances, a magical ending could actually be on the agenda. Your job is to refuse to make an opera out of anything that could ruin that happy ending — anything you might be tempted to get involved with that isn’t worth the effort. Do your part. Dreams do come true.

So what’s my part? Is it still to keep shutting up and keep drinking lemonade? I mean it’s only three more days.  And while we’re at it what’s my dream? Oh yah, peace in the uncertainty.

So many questions today and very few answers. Tonight I choose to sleep on it.

The Purging Process Has Slowed

First this was a process of removal, of purging. As I near the end I’m starting to think about the beginning of the next process, deciding what I want to bring back.

It’s hard to believe I’m so close. When I started this it felt like a completely daunting, almost unattainable goal. Now that it’s almost done it seems kind of small. I’m already feeling my focus switch to my business and National Novel Writing Month which begins next Monday. I’m certainly a taskmaster at heart. How I love checklists!

Hopefully this means I’ll coast through this last week. Friday will officially mark forty days. I’ll break the fast on Saturday with soup and solid fruit, then be back to normal by Sunday. Oh but normal is going to prove to be quite different, isn’t it? I can’t wait! Mostly I’m excited to eat smaller portions of better food and lose the general feeling of being bloated that I had come to accept.

This has been a huge process of redefining for me. It confirmed everything I already liked about myself and my life and showed me how easily I can discard or shift the things I don’t. Naturally there are things in life we can do nothing about because they don’t really have anything to do with us. I think I’ve learned a lot about how to better deal with, handle and accept those things.

Keeping it mellow tonight, lots of work for the cart to attend to…

One More Slice of Holy Cow!

Going without anything for an extended period of time usually gives us a better appreciation for the thing once we get it back. For me it’s those relished moments when my leg doesn’t hurt and the joyful exclamations I’ll make when I start eating food again. For some of us though, things that are taken away are never given back.

Acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert lost his jaw to cancer four years ago. This New York Times interview with him is a stunning look at what he has accomplished since jaw removal surgery took away his ability to eat or speak. Aside from the struggle to go on living with his newfound condition, he took his lifelong love of food, started a blog and ended up writing an entire cookbook from memory. It’s called The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker.

Bravo Mr. Ebert! Thank you for sharing your joy and showing us what you’re capable of.

I’m Starting To Feel Fragile

I was all set to enjoy being super skinny this week but I gotta tell you, it’s weird. I feel very exposed and vulnerable. I feel weak, not as if I’m going to pass out from malnourishment, but fragile, breakable. This morning I weighed in at 121.8 pounds. I haven’t weighed this little since I was a pre-teen with a lot of growing left to do. My spine juts out from my back and I can see my ribs on the front of my chest.

In a way I suppose it’s very feminine. If I had a boyfriend to appreciate it and in turn offer me protection I might not be so concerned. Instead I find myself worrying that I won’t be able to take anybody down if they start with me. My leg is still too screwy to run and my physical stature is getting smaller by the day. (Then I remind myself that I left Brooklyn and moved to Portland and I calm down again.)

Tonight I hit up a dance club with some girlfriends. It was Michael Jackson vs. Prince, how could we not? Fitting into a pair of pants I’ve never worn because they have always been too small gave me a nice shot of confidence as I walked out the door and my expectation upon leaving the house was that I’d be struttin’ my stuff all over that dance floor. Something else entirely happened.

Even though I don’t drink at dance clubs, my tendency on the floor is to be that crazy chick who keeps screaming and gyrating up and down anyone within a 10’ radius. I love dancing and I love that I love dancing and it’s just the most fun thing ever. My arms flail, I jump, I shake, I grind, you name it. Tonight though I was rather conserved and introverted. My tendency was to guard myself by hunching forward and inward. I kept my arms down almost the entire time and often wrapped in around myself for safety.

It felt like I was in the wrong body. This is someone else’s. This body is for the skinny girl who wears the skinny jeans with the high heels and the baggy tank tops. It’s for the delicate ballerinas and the beanpole models. Those women are beautiful and awesome, but those women are not me. I have curves built into my bones and right now those bones are sticking too far out. They want their padding back. Good thing I’m guaranteed to gain at least ten pounds back by the end of next week when I start eating again.

True Story

You know that feeling you get when you’re in your car heading out of town on a road trip, when all you see before you is freedom and the open road? It’s the way you feel when you’re on the dance floor fully absorbed by your favorite song, twirling and twirling without a care. Like when you’ve just climbed a mountain and you’re on top of the world or you’re rockin’ out at a wicked concert and the band is playing perfectly, the crowd utterly engrossed.

It’s Friday night. I wanted to see Mumford & Sons at the Crystal Ballroom but didn’t get a ticket before they sold out. I hoped to see the cute guy at the dog park (new crush!) but he was a no show. I could have stayed out to celebrate a friend’s birthday all night and instead I drove to Staples to buy a printer. This should come as no surprise seeing as I am quite possibly the world’s most boring person and office supply stores rank high on my list of favorite things. But here’s the kicker: not only was there no let down or regret in my reality, I got that feeling in the car on the way home.

Didn’t even buy a printer. All I ended up with was a paper cutter.

But that feeling, it’s right there. I don’t have to look for it anymore. I don’t have to hope or pine for it. I don’t have to work for it or drink myself into oblivion in search of it. It’s just sitting there ripe for the plucking whenever I want it. I cranked Green Day on the car stereo, rolled the windows down and cruised home at a whopping 40 mph (oh Oregon and your safe drivers!) free as a bird, happy as a clam, and all those fine things in between.

Lingering sciatica pain aside, I feel better than I‘ve ever felt in my life. This cleanse is undoubtedly the coolest thing I’ve ever done and the best gift I could possibly give myself. I love today because I’m officially off the rollercoaster of emotions that usually clouds my days. I’m coasting on a wave of endless possibility and it is completely beautiful.

Much love to you all.

Past Failures

At some point in every conversation I’ve had about fasting the other person talking says, “I could never do that. I tried and it was awful.” Forty days is an extremely long time, but if I’m inspiring anyone out there to try a shorter master cleanse, please rest assured that you actually can do it and the awfulness goes away quickly. All you need is lemonade and motivation.

I tried and failed many times before I had any success. My first attempt went something like this:

Boyfriend, who suggested cleanse and was simultaneously quitting smoking, in a calm and supportive tone: “I know it’s gross but you just need to keep drinking the lemonade. It’s only day one, we’ve got a long way to go.”

Me in a blind rage: “What the hell do you think I’m doing?!! But it’s disgusting. It’s not gross, it’s disgusting! And I feel like shit! We’re not supposed to make ourselves feel this way. That’s it! I can’t do this. I quit!” Munch munch munch munch munch…

Ten days later, after he succeeded at both fasting and quitting smoking, I consoled myself. Clearly some people’s bodies just aren’t made for this, I thought. I didn’t quit because of my lack of resolve. I quit because my body told me to. (Yah, right.)

My second attempt was a three-day fruit fast. I made it halfway into day two until everyone at work wanted to kill me and I ate a slice of pizza. Attempts three through six lasted about twenty minutes each. Then I succeeded.

I realized after I succeeded that the difference that time was clear motivation to be healthier. Motivation came from having multiple flues, a blood clot, debilitating allergic asthma and Lyme disease right in a row. I was sick non-stop for two years with conditions that seemed to have nothing to do with each other. The last one, Lyme disease, put me over the edge of what I could handle. I’ve complained a lot about how much sciatica has hurt me in this blog but really it’s just pain on my right side. Lyme disease was the same intensity of pain in every joint and muscle in my body, plus a flu, plus severe headaches, plus nausea from the doxycycline. Feeling like that gives you a lot of motivation to do something drastic in order to feel better.

A year after my first successful ten-day master cleanse I tried again and it took me three failures before I committed. Even this time around, I thought about fasting right after I fell.  I bought supplies and thought about it all through August. The lemons rotted and I threw them away. It wasn’t until the middle of September that I started to do it for real.

All I’m saying is it’s normal to feel scared. It’s normal to be overwhelmed by a fear of starvation. It’s normal to have headaches and a hard time with it in the first few days. This isn’t an easy thing to do. And why should it be? The benefits you ultimately receive are worthy of the work you have to put in. The time you succeed is the time you convince yourself to shut up and drink more lemonade.