Nourish Thyself, Warrior Girl

I began the following post two months ago, in February, at a time when I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained. I didn’t finish the piece then, because I wasn’t up to embracing a 28 day makeover program, at least not one of someone else’s design. I like the piece though, and what I realize now is that I actually did embrace a makeover program of sorts: I got from the Ugly There to the Balanced Happy Here. This is how it happened:

It’s February, and I am laying on my back on the bedroom floor, slowly putting my body through a gentle exercise my yoga instructor shared, dish-ragging my body to one side, then the other. I am gripped by a fierce headache, the worst I’d had in years, and it isn’t letting go.

I feel toxic, I think. I need rehab.

I am drinking too much coffee, not getting out of the house enough, and yesterday, something in my apparently fragile mind snapped, and I flew into a rage. Well, I didn’t fly anywhere. I sat stone still in my office chair clenching and unclenching my jaw while rage flew inside of me like a mad crow locked in a cage, flitting, crashing, railing, screaming. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

Before long, I had to drop it, close the laptop and walk away from my desk because my daughter and I had a riding lesson. That fit of rage left me feeling weak, though, and tired, too tired even to speak. My very astute younger daughter picked up on this because she asked me on the way out to the barn:

“Are you excited about riding today?”  her tone saying, maybe this will cheer you up.

It was all I could do to answer. I wasn’t excited, not about anything. I felt completely wasted, lacking even the energy required to fake feeling okay. I was not feeling okay.

“I’m just tired,” I answered finally.

“You’re always tired on the way out,” she said. “And you’re always glad you went.”

She was right, and though it took a few minutes more for that truth to sink in, for the image of Ginger, my equine partner to take root in my mind, it did cheer me a little.

“What are you going to work on?” she asked a few minutes later.

“Not being stressed,” I answered.

“You mean on the horse or in general?”

“On the horse,” I said. And after a pause, “Wait do you think I’m stressed a lot?”

She just looked at me.

“Uh, yeah, mom. You are stressed a lot.”

Right.

We rode for an hour that night, and though it certainly helped raise my spirits and my energy, the low-burning anger returned later on, one thought circling around my brain: my life is so small.

I feel so stuck; so trapped. I’d read The Alchemist recently and Paulo Coehlo’s words had stuck in my mind like a splinter:

“The crystal merchant awoke with the day, and felt the same anxiety he felt every morning. He had been in the same place for thirty years: a shop at the top of a hilly street where few customers passed. Now it was too late to change anything. The only thing he’d learned to do was to buy and sell crystal glassware… the crystal merchant had no choice. He had spent thirty years of his life buying and selling crystal pieces, and now it was too late to do anything else.”

I felt sick to my stomach every time those words crossed my mind.  Is that what I’ve done? Entrapped myself? Enslaved myself? Is it too late to change?

And the next day, by the end of the day, I was flattened, literally flatted by this headache. The only thing that gave me any relief was to go to bed, turn the lights off and sleep, and when I didn’t actually sleep, I was grateful just to lay still because it kept the pain mostly at bay. When I woke, it started again.

You got shit to sort out, dear.

And that’s when I remembered what I’d noticed while I was dish-ragging on the floor. At the very moment I’d been thinking, I need Rehab I happened to glance at my bookshelf and one title caught my eye: Yogalosophy 28 Days to the Ultimate Mind-Body-Makeover.

So there it was, right on my shelf. A way out, or a start at least. All laid out for me. All I have to do is read one short chapter a day and do what I’m told. For exactly 28 days.  Isn’t that what it takes? Just starting?  A way out that is, if I choose to take it. 

And no, I didn’t choose to take it, at least not the Yogalosophy path, specifically. I did pull that book off the shelf and burrow into its pages. I did drink in its ideas, its energy and inspiration. I was also inspired by my beloved,  Book Club girlfriends (women who know how to nourish themselves), my health-minded, athletic and driven older daughter, and my writerly, horse-riding, wise and witty younger daughter. Nutritionista Meghan Telpner, and her book Undiet were the last straw that pushed me completely over the edge.

Bit by bit, I embraced a Mind-Body-Makeover all my own. Not one deliberately planned, and not one that has an end in sight, but a path of my own that I’ve picked out among the rocks. Here’s a few highlights

  •  I’ve embraced kale, beet greens and all things green and leafy, not to mention nuts, seeds, hemp hearts, chia seeds and a long list of other good-for-you stuff.
  • I embraced drinking water, and a lot of it.
  • I perused all of the canned, bottled and boxed goods in my refrigerator and cupboards and tossed everyone that had MSG, unnatural colours or chemicals whose names I could not pronounce.
  • I’ve finally gotten the hang of going into the health food store without feeling like a weirdo, and I’ve discovered the miracle of the local farmer’s market.
  • I’ve embraced the idea of passing on any beauty products that aren’t actually edible, and I have a whole shelf devoted to pure oils and essences for this purpose. I’m learning to mix together into skin-and-soul nurturing scrubs and oils. And though I’m a novice at these home-made health product arts, I can’t see going back.
  • I have lost my taste for shampoo and conditioner, having discovered that baking soda and apple cider vinegar do a better job and far more kindly. (Yes, I do still highlight my hair chemically; I’m not a saint, people).
  • I attend meditation class and book club always, period, save for family commitments or travel. Every member of my family knows and respects this.

And that’s just part of the picture.

I don’t feel toxic anymore. I’m not riding the coffee roller coaster up and down nearly so much. I feel much more energetic and confident. Am I up to facing The Alchemist’s challenge of un-enslaving myself? You bet, even if it takes the rest of my life to do it. Step One, I’ve realized, is Nourish Thyself, Warrior Girl. How else can we be up to the task?

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