Thursday, March 31, 2011


For those who practice (or even for those of us who don’t) you might snicker and laugh at my late-blooming arrival to this religious pastime. I ask you to bare with me, put on some good instrumental music and read on, because I think this is pretty cool.

There is something so productive about Lent -an honest action based quest for the Higher Power - I’ve been unable to resist the practice. I’ve come through many a winding tunnel on my spiritual quest; down back alleys I’ve wandered, to highest mountain peaks I’ve climbed. I am not Catholic, sometimes I wonder whether I could call myself a Christian, and it makes me giggle to think of myself as “Spiritual”. However, my spiritual quest has taken many twists and turns and indeed dropped me off on the road of Spirituality rather than Religion… whatever THAT means I’m really honestly not sure… But no matter where I journey, no matter where I stop off or what I discover, I forever find myself back here, “Seeking first…” Sometimes we must, irregardless of labels and culture preferences, step outside ourselves and look up.

I began this “seeking first” with thoughts of introducing something positive that would bring me closer to God (I have trouble with any authority that tells me what to do; this is a perfect example of my controlling version of compliance: “Okay I’ll do what you’re telling me to do but I’ll do it backwards…”) but that yielded no good ideas. I asked myself if I wanted to give up Facebook? Nah. TV? Too fun. For some reason, those didn’t seem important enough. Lent is a time to give up a thing that holds you back from the Divine; I’ve had friends who gave up boyfriends for crying out loud! I searched my heart, and this search effort bled over into the actual time line of Lent, yet still I sought. I may have missed the starting fire, but I held fast that I could yet make the finish line! And aha! I discovered an answer.

We mere humans, who think of ourselves more in-souled than the rest of Nature around us (at least we humans in this culture), were ironically created last. Well after the fish of the sea and fowl of flight, after the beasts of the field, even after the grass we walk upon, only then did we cross the mind of God. Did he have us in mind all along? Some would say so. Were we nothing more than a simple after thought? An aesthetic add on? Whichever way you look at it, we weren’t here first. Our entire history on this planet has been that of guest in an occupied territory. As I looked over those texts in the first chapters of the Bible, so elementary are their teachings most of us memorized them in grade school and promptly forgot to give them a second thought. But I paused. Often times it is that which is simplest that lends the most profound insights; what is our first Biblical commandment? To be stewards of this earth. To love it. To care for it. To love it so much we name it. In light of this I looked at my life, and I admit with shame, I saw very little love. And what love I saw, it was in want of some purposeful action.

And so I discussed it with my husband, and we decided that for Lent we would give up our carbon footprint. Well… we would as much as we could. There are substantial rocks blocking our path to peaceful coexistence with nature around us. The first being 1.) My husbands commute to work which ends over 20miles away. 2.) my work is a mere 8.9 miles away, and for sometime last fall I did ride my bike. However I pitifully complain of rain and hop in the car; but rest assured, bike enthusiasts, with the spring will come a milder morning, and an Ashley imbued with adventuring spirit. I’m a pansy, you say? Keep in mind, I’ve been out of practice.

So what does this “giving up our carbon footprint” really mean? A lot of things. It includes a mandatory bike ride if the destination is within 5 miles. It includes a commitment to buy ONLY local and organic foods. It includes a militant effort to save water and dump the saved water into the garden where it can seep into soil, evaporate and make clouds, and come down and bless our land again. And now THAT includes using biodegradable cleaning products, shampoos, dish soaps, body soaps, on and on. And that includes a quest to make those myself.

Does this sound crazy? It feels a little crazy, I’ll give you that. But to be honest, it isn’t that much different than what we were already doing. Only a few locations changed. For example, instead of purchasing our produce at Whole Foods, we bike to the nearest farmers market. We might bike a little longer, and might eat a little differently, but we’re doing it all more consciously, and I do believe that’s the point.

Since we’re on the subject of Lent, perhaps a confession is now in order; there have been more than a few times that I’ve wavered. Driving my car past two stoplights because I was “too tired” to bike to school. Midnight hopping at Winco because Whole Foods was closed and I forgot something at the Farmers Market (or, been too lazy to GO to the Farmers Market in the first place…). But, if I’ve learned anything from Mother Nature, its that everything is a process. No good change is attained over night, and any good change requires work to be sustained. Along the way, especially at my pitfalls, I’m learning how to plan, how to keep myself motivated, and more importantly, how to let things go. Sometimes when you’re sick and its pouring rain and its 50degrees outside, you shouldn’t ride your bike. To summarize, I’m only human. I’m weak. I cave in sometimes. But I’ve learned to accept my humanity; and I think that *He* does too.

So this is my Lent announcement! Better late than never! I will continue to keep you posted, share tips, accept your tips, and post a few pictures along the way. Wish us luck!

An old piece, yet still applicable.

And here, a piece from last year. Written after just such a day as today;


My mind has been occupied with terribly unpoetic thoughts, such as how humorous these bodies of ours are. Our awkward long limbs that fail, our large heads, peculiar sex organs. How silly that we prop up the fatty tissue of breasts and blush them, dress them, deep v-neck them. And what of feet? What about toes? I could burst out laughing looking at them. Don’t even get me started on sex! That ridiculously goofy and beautiful of all human pastimes! And as I turn about in the mirror, as I hold my arms out to examine my fingers with grandeur and the funny flapping lips
that put forth thoughts and emotions and ideas, I chide myself that I ever spent more than two minutes worrying about this body. I roll my eyes to think I wound a measuring tape round my waist and worried about the climbing number. After all, that belly is merely a place to put my vitals. And what a beautiful job its been doing!

Better a body
alive than a wasting bag of bones. This is a feeling to remember and
never forget. Write this on my mirror and sink it into my soul, steep it like
a tea bag on my eyes, till all I see is loveliness.


A funny little thing called an eating disorder

Recovery is a funny word, isn’t it. For something so sought after, one often asks, does it ever truly become part of ones constant vocabulary? For my part, having denied the existence of my disorder for so long and genuinely believing in its non- existence, its difficult to know when disorder ended and where recovery began. I have lots of questions; did it really end? Has it actually begun? I still question whether or not what I had could be really and legitimately classified as “an eating disorder”, or if it was a mere right of passage thing that every teenager goes through. Indeed, whats the difference between what “those girls” have, and what ever person seems to struggle with at some point in their life? No really, I want to know what that difference is.

Should I give a back story? One seems necessary but sounds long and uninteresting. I suppose I’ll try it out and make it as briefly sweet as can be;

It all began innocently enough, when I was diagnosed with a series of food allergies and other health concerns. These diagnoses quite literally saved my life. I who had been bedridden for over six months had new life breathed into my weak and weary bones. I also lost fifteen pounds. I gained a low level anxiety disorder. And thus my fear of food began; at first I was afraid it would make me sick and bind me to the couch yet again. It ended with me afraid to gain a pound or an inch.

I had whispers of realizings, but it wasn’t until a fateful talk with my friend that knocked some much needed honest sense into my brain. I rambled on “I didn’t have full blown eating disorder or anything… but it got pretty bad… I’d go for a long time without eating… then take laxatives…” She looked at me with such niceness in her eyes and said kindly “I’m pretty sure that’s classified as something…”

For something so obvious, how, you ask, did I deny it for so long? I didn’t believe I was skinny enough to be anorexic. And I wasn’t making myself throw up. So obviously I was good to go, right?

The road to recovery is a hard one to describe when you didn’t know you were traveling down its way in the first place. It all began, I suppose, when I took my first nanny job and was awake a full day’s worth of hours; enough to eat three meals a day (its easy to survive on an apple and a piece of toast when you sleep till noon, lay on the couch, work at Luna’s, then go home to sleep somemore. entirely different story unfolds when you must be at work by 7:00AM). I wasn’t eating unhealthy, I was still adhering to my allergy rules, but I was eating. And I gained twenty pounds.

With mere months to go before the wedding I began wearing my husbands shirts in an effort poorly planned to hide my new figure. These were not happy days. However, it was my first move towards a better lifestyle, for as I stared down at those numbers glaring back up at me, I realized I had two choices; I could go back to my old eating habits and loose this weight, or I could choose to be normal and healthy. I chose healthy. It sounds like I did know I had a problem after all.

Times have changed and I am now anxiety free and living in a happy, healthy, luscious body of 150 pounds. I see some things I’d like to introduce to my life, mainly exercise. I’m careful to focus on how I want to alter my lifestyle and not my weight. I’m careful to focus on why, to lock into my carefully chosen reasons and look neither left or right there after. I want to exercise so I can hike half dome. So I ride in a cyclocross race. So I can have muscle tone when I’m fifty and satisfactory bone density all throughout my life.

Why am I telling you this? Because today was a terrible day. Today triggers were firing all over me. Duck and cover. Bob and weave. Today your thinspo’s went too far, leaving my fingers inching towards the tape measure, my mind devising plans to clear the pantry before my husband gets home. I start eyeballing my jump rope in-spite of the hour well past midnight. Snapping me back, I slip further down the tunnel, that tiny light growing tinier still till all my progressive footprints are erased. I’m telling you this because today was a disaster. And I needed to tell someone about this. This has been, I fear, a horribly unpoetic post, full of poorly strung together thoughts, words clashing. Thoughts, fragmenting. If you stuck with me thus far, I feel eternally grateful to you.