We all know the adage “The only constant in life is change.” But there’s a difference between intellectually understanding a concept and living it. The pandemic is causing most if not all of us to live with uncertainty. From our health to our jobs, our daily lives are a figurative walk on eggshells.
There’s a paradox in nature: the more we try to control things, the more out of control they tend to become. Whether it’s a diet or a habit, the more we challenge something, the worse it seems to become.
So what can we do when we are so hungry for certainty? When there’s so little in our control? When the obstacles seem to only get higher and more challenging when we try to climb them? When the flames of injustice only grow stronger despite peaceful protests attempt to extinguish them? When we hunger for government leadership as we starve in the angry stew of dissention?
We can take a deep breath. We can go inward. We can take comfort in noting that the sun rises each morning and sets each evening. We can grow grateful for even the smallest of things (if you can read this, your eyes are working—a miracle in itself).
We can surrender to wherever we are and know that good or bad, this too shall pass.
We can be kind to ourselves and pay attention more—catching ourselves whenever our inner thoughts sound like the evil villain of a movie;-)
We can cultivate a shift in our perception that stimulates acceptance and appreciation over judgement.
So that maybe the next time we see the sunrise, our spiritual bellies might just feel a little less hungry.
The Friendship Diet launched on July 7th, and with it, all of the emotions that come with giving birth to something you worked so hard to see manifest: excitement and elation, yes—but also anxiety and uncertainty.
Launching a book is so much like giving birth: there is so much anticipation but also so much out of one’s control. And while surrendering in both cases sounds great in theory, the reality (at least in my case–regarding both experiences) makes the mere idea of surrendering laughable at best.
So, I ignored my racing heart and got on Facebook live to announce the launch during a pandemic. I abandoned the idea of eating as it felt much more important to spread the word about The Friendship Diet; I focused on marketing and marketing and marketing my book, pushing aside the growing tap dance of pain throbbing on the top of my head.
(Don’t think the irony of The Friendship Diet launch wasn’t lost on me. My book is all about growing aware of the connection between our edible and emotional nutrition and there I was, ignoring the very beliefs my book espouses!)
The Universe continues to speak to us; it’s up to us to listen. Once my head felt like a stampede of horses was freely galloping across the top of my head, I finally bid my stubbornness adieu and grew still.
I grabbed my journal, closed my eyes and surrendered.
A question emerged beneath the darkness of my eyelids:
“What do you need?”
I surrendered deeper.
“What do you need?”
My eyes opened and I wrote an answer in my journal, the pen forming words as if on its own.
“Exercise. More water.”
I closed my journal and went to bed.
For the first time in cyber-eons, I woke up and didn’t look at my phone or check my emails. Instead, I drank several glasses of water. I had a light breakfast. I drank more water. I exercised.
No surprise, my body thanked me with a headache-free morning.
Since this morning, I have needed (as most of do) to return to the double-edged sword of the smartphone. Each time the invisible tap dancers start to emerge on the top of my head, I grab another glass of water and do some stretches. Small actions but they make such a world of difference, keeping the galloping equines in their figurative stable.
Our bodies are always speaking to us, letting us know what they need. When we hit the pause button, we are in a better place to receive our inner knowing.
Today my book, The Friendship Diet: Clean out Your Fridge, Get Real with Yourself, and Fill Your Life with Meaningful Relationships that Last, launches! And while there were many beautiful miracles along the path to reaching this birth-of-a-book day, none of it would be possible without Elizabeth Gilbert’s wisdom shared in Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
In an earlier blog post, I shared the magic-like impact of the smallest moments (“The Hidden Power of Action”). My friends, while wonderfully supportive of my idea to create a book about personal relationships and its deep connection to food, were only one significant part of the book’s manifestation. They were the fuel, the sustenance I needed to keep my creative tank full.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC book was the reason I found the courage to craft my idea into reality—the trigger to get that creative tank pumping.
Popsugar’s review on Gilbert’s colorful BIG MAGIC book cover says it all: “A must-read for anyone hoping to live a creative life.”
There were two significant areas of Gilbert’s literary therapy that made me feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand attention (in a great wayJ
She articulates the feeling of an idea tapping one on the shoulder, a whisper from the Universe to follow wherever that idea will take you. She also provides our creative souls with a cautionary tale:
“Sometimes they [ideas] do wait….But others won’t….Would you sit around in a box for two years while your collaborator blew you off? Probably not.”
The idea for The Friendship Diet kept tapping me on the shoulder, a stubborn little fella that wanted me to put aside a Young Adult manuscript that was more than halfway through its plot. When I read Gilbert’s warning words, I could practically hear the Idea for The Friendship Diet clearing his throat, ready to walk out the figurative door.
Gilbert’s second therapeutic moment…well, let’s just say, it felt like a one-on-one session.
“Maybe you fear that you are not original enough.”
Wow. How did she know??Was there a hidden camera in my psyche Elizabeth had access to??
And then, the generous-hearted and insightful Ms. Gilbert continued our private literary therapy session:
“If you are older, trust that the world has been educating you all along….We need you to reveal to us what you know, what you have learned, what you have seen and felt.”
Elizabeth Gilbert had triggered me—in a fantastic way—to heed the creative call.
To top it off, she even offers us a metaphorical Permission Slip to create!
Why did it feel like Elizabeth Gilbert was speaking directly to me? Why did it feel like she had a backstage pass, Being-John-Malkovich-style to the parts of me I keep so hidden from the world, even I don’t know it??
Because, I believe, Elizabeth Gilbert writes from a place of authenticity, from the soft underbelly that’s at the core of humanity, from a sacred space of vulnerability. You cannot read her candid musings on creativity without transforming yourself. The alchemy of her words possesses the potential to alter the inner landscape of one’s heart and mind.
If you are reading this blog piece, from the essence of my creative soul I thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert. Your openhearted sharing of BIG MAGIC provided the impetus to create The Friendship Diet and the courage to keep playing—particularly when an Idea comes to visit.
I encourage every creative soul (and we are ALL creative souls) to grab a copy of BIG MAGIC and listen to what your Ideas are saying.
So there’s this pandemic…it’s literally a matter of life and death these days…and the economy is behaving like someone experimenting behind a dark alley with illegal drugs…unemployment rates are so high they make Mt. Everest look like an anthill…
Yes, it’s bad out there—really bad. No two ways about it. But this tragic state we are experiencing out there is going to pass. I don’t profess to have a crystal ball of when or how, but it willpass.
Author Michael Singer (The Untethered Soul) writes, “Eventually you will see that the real cause of problem is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes the problem.”
We dwell in two realities in this life: the internal and external. Meditation, yoga, long walks, singing, painting, writing—these are some of the conduits to remind us of our inner world.
But too often we dwell and get caught up in the outer world. We get enmeshed and often psychologically stuck on a diet of what is externally present.
Whether we are on the front lines or the food lines, rich or poor, healthy or sick matters little when compared to the internal world we all possess. When we are no longer dependent on the external for sustenance, we will no longer feel the spiritual ache of lack.
Our bodies are miraculous indicators. They are speaking to us all the time—sometimes literally (i.e. a growling stomach) and often figuratively (i.e. We are feeling stressed and we “fall” prey to a cold).
I struggle with TMJ. This past week was a particularly bad bout. When I went inside for answers, I knew the increased pain was from subconscious yet futile attempts to control the external. My pain is a gift—it reminds me to stay present, savoring each moment and surrendering to circumstances I cannot control.
By making a concerted effort to surrender, moment-by- moment, my jaw pain has significantly subsided. It is no longer “eating me.”
The pandemic is an external tragedy that is affecting all of us. I encourage you to take a moment to go within and see what surfaces. If something keeps bubbling to the surface, it just might be what’s eating you.
There are people who are soaring during this worldwide crisis—physically, spiritually and economically healthy. The internal world plays a significant role for these individuals.
Take this time to know your hunger, to go within, exploring and nurturing your soul.