Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Sweet Peace #44: Saved by Stickers

Sweet Peace began in January of this year as a 52-week commitment to finding peace with food and body and has gradually expanded to include all aspects of my life. 

Along with it came a small, black journal. I have never been good at journaling and trailing behind me is a long line of unsatisfactory, half-filled journals of various sizes and shapes. 

However, here I was, trying again, filling the early pages with diary entries about food, energy, slips and successes, and starting overs. Boring!

Heart stickers were my first breakthrough. Putting one on a page somehow changed the writing, invited feeling words. Of course, at the same time, I was using the Gratitude Mojo journal, practicing gratitude, answering questions, stretching in new ways. However, it was in this small, black journal that the stickers screamed to life. Soon they were all over the pages.

Next came colored markers for highlighting, color coding, doodling. Suddenly, the journal was safe and journaling was fun. I began to play and even think of my journal as a friend, a friend who listened to whatever I wanted to say, without judgment.

I believe in the past 43 weeks I have truly become a journaler and it is bringing me peace.

Below is a page from a day when I needed a sticker break.

NOTE:  Sweet Peace will be moving to my Substack newsletter soon.

It will still be free and you can subscribe at https://gratitudemojo.substack.com/about.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Love Letter to My Life #52: Pollyanna Skeptic in the Laundry Room

Found on campus

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my joy-filled life.  Joyce Wycoff)    

Occasionally, there is a golden moment when a major project begins to wind down and no other project stands in line demanding attention. It is a sweetly quiet time where possibility stretches to the far horizon and idea waves break gently on the shore. 

Small tasks have moved forward slowly on a long turned-off conveyor belt of shoulds. The printer is finally unboxed, the in-basket of bills and trivia are filed or tossed, the dust-bunnies routed from under the bed, and, yesterday morning, the overdue laundry finally advanced to the laundry room.

It was quiet there, only one other person who seemed as loathe to break the morning silence as I. After pushing all the buttons to start the machinery, I sat down with coffee and journal and began to pick up threads from times gone by. Ideas that came and went; people once here and now not; plans, big and small, some done, some dropped.

In the midst of this quiet reflection, a question plopped into the pool: Why are we here? Followed by: What’s next? Not in the sense of what’s my next project, but in what’s next after this life? I thought about that a lot when I was a kid and concluded that heaven was a good idea although it sounded a bit boring floating around on a cloud, singing hosannahs.

As a lonely, only child, I was attracted to church even though my immediate family did not attend; that’s where the kids were. At a tent revival meeting, I heard a preacher say something that has stuck with me all these years: science and religion are not in conflict; it’s only the interpretation of them that differs. 

Over time, I’ve remained fascinated by the relationship of science and spirituality, however, the question of afterlife slipped to the back of the line, deemed unknowable and not important for now, hovering for some quiet moment in the future. Apparently that moment was yesterday, when nothing else was clamoring for attention. And, as books are wont to do, one showed up just this week: new but waving a flag from before. An update on a story unfinished.

In 2008, a neurosurgeon was struck by a bacterial brain infection and, within hours, was in a deep coma, where he stayed for a week before making a complete recovery. He returned with a tale of a stunning and baffling journey. Dr. Eben Alexander described his story in his best-selling book: Proof of Heaven: a Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.

The story captivated me with its compelling description and promise of unconditional, universal love, and the interconnection of all life. I wound up filing it on the “I wonder?” shelf. Now he’s back with another book with a high-powered array of scientific-sounding cover quotes. So, I plunged into Living in a Mindful Universe, a Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Heart of Consciousness with great hope and anticipation.

Since science hasn’t been able to find a fixed location in the brain for either memory or consciousness, both have been handed off to the less definable category of “mind,” where, of course, things are much fuzzier. Alexander’s journey is an example of walking on the fuzzy side, a beautiful and hopeful side. 

I watched a couple of YouTubes which present the same story with tones of awe and wonder, and then pulled myself into amazon reviews, hoping for more confirmation. I start with the 1-star reviews, as usual, expecting the standard fare of irrelevant issues and sour grapes. Instead, I find serious debunking. Moving to the 5s, I find serious rhapsodies, most pointing to his credibility as a neurosurgeon, a man of science. 

The debunking reviews led me to an Esquire story by Luke Dittrich titled “The Prophet,” (link below) which is where the whole tale fell apart. With the amazon reviews, I began to question the story; with the Esquire story, I began to question myself. 

What I learned about myself through this brief journey was that I have a marked bias toward the positive. I want to believe in goodness and miracles (the everyday type), and that we live in a beneficent Universe. I hold onto these beliefs in good times and challenging ones and believe that, overall, they make my life better. 

Fortunately, I also believe firmly in science and truth and the process of looking into things which seem too good to be true. I want to share and spread good news, but only if it’s true, even if only experientially by a reliable source. 

Perhaps I am a Pollyanna Skeptic.

The Esquire article: https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/interviews/a23248/the-prophet/

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Sweet Peace #43: Results of Low Carb Trial and Another Possibility

I want all of these.

NOTE: This series about finding peace with food and body ... as well as life and spirit ... is moving. This will be the last post here on this blog ... next week it will post to my newsletter on Substack. It will still be free and you can subscribe at https://gratitudemojo.substack.com/about.

    The Wisdom School of Facebook counsels us this morning in words from Joseph Campbell:

“Nietzsche was the one who did the job for me. 

At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called 'the love of your fate.' Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, 'This is what I need.' 

It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment - not discouragement - you will find strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. 

What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.” 

    Seems like wise advice. If my genetics had not put me on this path of trying to resist the tendency toward diabetes, I would not have learned as much about health as I have. I've  monitored my blood sugar for almost 30 years and it has been a far from perfect path, however, it has been a path and I am healthier for it.

The results of the 30 days of Low Carb Challenge are in. 

    While my adherence was not perfect, it was as perfect as I’ll ever get. I tracked net carbs every day and five days were over 22 grams, with the high being one day of 36, still pretty reasonable. However, the results weren’t worth the effort involved.

    Testing showed I was in mild ketosis after the first five days and yet I still had 13 days with blood glucose above 110. The last week's trend showed some promise with 4 days under 100 indicating that continuing might have some benefits. Weight bounced around but wound up exactly where I started.

    The problem was the food. I primarily prefer plant-based foods and protein was an issue. Normally, beans are a significant protein source for me; however, on low-carb, beans are ruled out. Keto is interesting because it leans heavily on eggs and cheese, two foods I enjoy; however, with veggies in such limited quantities, those foods lost their appeal. (The day that I found out a yellow pepper was 8 carbs (over a third on my daily allotment), was a dark day food wise.)

    I was trying to decide whether to continue for another 30 days when another possibility appeared: a combined focus on fiber and intermittent fasting, which, reportedly, also creates ketones. So, I’m off to contemplate another challenge or opportunity, as Joseph Campbell calls it. 

    More next week.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Sweet Peace #42: When does the caterpillar know it is something new?

New newsletter - details at end

    I have spent my life being a bad journaler. I could blame my mother, but then she gets too much blame for too many things. It was my own fear of her reaction that made me write in code in my tiny, lockable, 5-year journal. I knew the lock wouldn’t keep her out; I didn’t realize how much it kept me out, since I couldn’t decipher my own code.

    I am older now … much older … still slowly releasing that fear of speaking truth to myself, being found out, perceiving my thoughts and life path as too uninteresting to put into words, on paper. That self-doubt and belief in my unworthiness as a life witness left behind me a broken path littered with journal starts and stops.

    Something has changed. Somewhere along the twisting path of the last three years since I suddenly left Mexico, a place I intended to live forever, in a country I loved and enjoyed exploring, where I had already established permanent residency, I changed.

    In the summer of 2019, on a typical morning walk while visiting family in Reno, where I had never lived, confusing tears began to drip. As I searched for why, the only answer that came was, “I want to come home.” While I didn't understand why, I knew it was a demand not an invitation, and within three weeks I was moving into an RV on the banks of the Truckee River in Reno.

    The artsy quirkiness of Reno and spending time with family delighted me. However, the journey demanded more change, leading me to two years spent in two RVs, one on the stunning Lake Almanor in Northern California and one in a peaceful oak woodland in the mountains east of Julian. I now look back on that time as a cocoon where I gestated, turning into an imaginal goo unknowingly morphing into a different being.

    It almost makes me laugh: when I emerged, I brought with me a journal, a journal co-created with a life-long friend, a journal of self-discovery based on gratitude, a journal that offered a safe place to explore myself as well as an endless supply of courage and inspiration from over two hundred wisdom keepers.

    When I moved to Santa Barbara, it seemed as though the journey was complete, that I was on the shores of home with gentle waves washing the sands at my feet. Interesting that someone can spend her whole life missing the point. The waves never end and sometimes they are less than gentle.

    This past weekend, a dear friend invited me to a retreat at her church. It’s not an environment I feel comfortable in, but I wanted to have the experience with her. So I went, arguing with my resistance the whole time, forcing myself to explore the edges and open the door to new thinking. 

    Lo and behold! I brought home gifts which I’m still unwrapping. The word that seems to be attached to this bright package reads: Heartfulness. For this in-my-head person, this was a jolt and I have a sense that this is part of that “coming home" message; however, it’s going to take more time to glean the insights.

    In the meantime, this is Day 25 of the 30-day, Low Carb Challenge which continues with less than spectacular results but with continued motivation for better health. I know this is a long-haul process.

About Sweet peace:

Opening page of Sweet Peace journal

    The Sweet Peace journal was begun with the commitment to write a post every Tuesday for a year focused on finding peace with food and my body. Gradually, that focus has expanded to finding peace within myself and my life.

    With this 42nd post, Sweet Peace will become a part of my free newsletter on Substack and will no longer appear on this blog. Why? The main reason is that Substack creates more of a community and makes commenting easier. I live a relatively solitary life and hearing from readers, you, brings me connection and wisdom ... the purposes I noted on the opening page of Sweet Peace, which is where all of these writings begin ... and, fortunately, not in code.

    Hearing from you also brings me joy and hope that, together, we might create more peace in our world. If you're interested in the journaling journey toward inner peace, please join me at https://gratitudemojo.substack.com/s/sweet-peace.