A Season of Change

The quote below has always been one of my favorites, but until recently I never really put it much into practice.

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path” ~ coehlo

This is where I tell you if you’re here for grocery cart drama or drunk nuns, you should probably skip over this post, as I’m going to philosophize a bit. If you choose to stick around, buckle up (and quit rolling your eyes.)

I’m making changes—not just empty, sweeping declarations — and it all comes down to one word:

Why?

Why am I doing what I’m doing? Why am I living a life that is full of disconnect between my authentic beliefs and the seemingly contradictory actions that follow? Why is my mind full of things that really don’t matter to me, but that I tell myself still do? 

555704_4426353217087_1577550058_n Insecurity can lead me to look outside of myself for guidance, validation and the way things have to be done. Heck, even when I look inside myself at times, I often smother the rational voice in favor of familiarity, distraction and ease.

Needless to say, this struggle is stressful and damaging. It’s been more than a decade of severe depression, exercise addiction and living each day waiting for the one answer that would change things, make things right, make me happy and content with my life.

It’s been a decade of survival, of “retreating into intellectualizing everything and just being a quiet observer of life rather than fully immersing myself in it,” as a wise woman once shared.

The problem is that through all my searching, I never found that “one” answer I needed, but rather the answers for somebody else. Trying to hold myself up to some conflicting standard I’ve imposed is really the source of my struggle and imbalance.

So I come back to the question of “Why?”

Why haven’t I let go of false assumptions, limiting beliefs and habits that don’t serve me? Why can’t I forget who I was yesterday, last year or a decade ago? Why can’t I let myself be the person I feel I should be? Well, I can and I will.

But in order for a new beginning, there needs to be an ending.

The old behavior —we all know what that is — must be faced and renounced. I have to cut ties with what no longer serves me other than causing me (self-inflicted) imbalance. But before I can let go completely, the way has to be paved for a new one. I want to feel relief at releasing that burden and experience it as the start of something new, not the loss of something important.

That all sounds fine and dandy, now doesn’t it?

Well, don’t kid yourself. Sure, the whole, “enlightenment and peace” package sounds great, but the “release the chains of exercise, mindless computer time, comfortable routines, isolation and basically everything you’ve come to know as an adult” thing sounds like a pain in the ass. As maladaptive as it is, I’ve become extremely comfortable with being uncomfortable.

But you know what?

My answers will always be out of sync until I start living an authentic life, until I surround myself with like-minded people and things that honor my (true) interests and not those of my ego. I’ve dipped my toe in in the past, but it’s time to jump in with both feet. 

And no, this isn’t going to suddenly become a vegan Buddhist blog completely void of sarcastic rambles and snark. I like to keep things lighter here, and plus, I’m a smartass. But there will be some changes on my end and I’m refocusing the time that I spend to align with the things I want healing and filling my body and mind.

I have a lot to say, and this is the place I can say it (not this post though, as it’s already ridiculously long.) I will still be here blogging as I forge this path of change, bastard groundhogs, vegan lifestyle, Buddha and spending the day watching nuns and seniors in wheelchairs dirty dance with an Elvis impersonator (spoiler alert: that’s my next post.)

Why?

Because what we resist persists, and I don’t want to resist anymore. Plus, I have issues. We all do.

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55 responses to “A Season of Change

  1. Wow, you surely waxed philosophical that time! I try to avoid thinking that deeply; gives me a headache.

    • Well, I often do as well, but sometimes you get to a point where avoidance is much more unhealthy than finally getting it out. I promise I won’t always be so deep–and that I’ll avoid being shallow, as well ;)

  2. Do what makes you happy. And doesn’t make you dependent on having it. Good luck!

    • Exactly. A lot of it is tied into blogging itself, to some extent. Why chase something that I don’t really want? I am much more at peace when I let go of those expectations and the chase for what others might have. I don’t want what they have. I want something uniquely my own. If that means less readers or “attention” of sorts, then so be it. That’s not what it’s really about ;)

  3. I know what you mean about being comfortable with being uncomfortable – good for you for thinking about what would truly make you happy and having the courage to choose it.

  4. Looking forward to reading your future posts Abby! :-)

  5. Good luck on your journey. It takes guts. And can I just say that I cannot wait for your next post?

    • I know. I need some time to recover from the hip-shaking and sideburns before I can write out that post. Plus, “Hunka Hunka Burning Love” is still stuck in my head.

  6. One other thing – I don’t really know you well so this is just spit-balling. But if you’ve always had eating issues – isn’t becoming a vegan just another way to “control” your eating while pretending it isn’t OCD based because it has a name? Again, TOTALLY don’t know you well enough to say that with any true basis – just a thought that went through my head and I care enough about you just knowing you the bit that I do to throw it into the mix for something to think about.

    Plus I love food. :).

    • That’s a common assumption, but it’s completely incorrect, as I’ve always been a strict vegetarian and it really has nothing to do with restriction. I have a separate post I will write about it, but my friend/mentor Gena at Choosing Raw sums it up perfectly here: “Conventional thinking about recovery never seemed to do me much good. Nor, for that matter, did conventional food. Veganism showed me food that was quite unlike the “healthy” fare I was used to, or the caloric, highly refined food I’d sometimes eaten to put on weight. It showed me aesthetically beautiful, nourishing, and wholesome dishes, created from colorful, varied plants. It allowed me to fall in love with food for the first time in my life.

      Of course that might have happened if I had simply discovered a largely unprocessed, mostly plant-based diet, too. But veganism contributed to my recovery in ways that went beyond presenting me with delicious and healthy cuisine. It also instilled in me a sense of responsibility to the creatures I share the planet with; it helped me to connect with stores of compassion I didn’t actually know I had. It gave me a sense of purpose, and inspired me to help others—both animals who suffer for human consumption, and human beings who suffer from illness or disordered eating. In short, it pulled me out of the isolation of my ED, and taught me to direct my energy toward others, rather than constantly using it to fuel my obsession with fitness.”

      Bingo. We still love food, it’s just that we view it in a much bigger lens than ourselves ;)

      • Well, I don’t think eating not being vegan means you’re viewing food through a “selfish lens” but it does seem like you gave your decision thought. (though I doubted you hadn’t in the first place!)

        • I didn’t mean non-vegans were selfish at all. I meant that my choices in the past were selfish because they were used to justify a certain restriction and control in my mind. I was selfish with how I viewed food in that I used it as a form of control. To each their own and I couldn’t care less what you eat, but for me, I am branching out and doing new things in with the thought that my choices aren’t only about me and what serves me (and my old patterns) the best. It’s complicated if you don’t have the experience and I won’t debate it here, but thinking outside of myself with my food is a catalyst for change and a shift in perspective that makes food a tool for recovery, not restriction.

          • Totally makes sense. Believe me – I wouldn’t argue veganism any more than I would argue religion or politics. To each their own. Walk a mile, shoes, yaddah yaddah. :)

          • Agree with Kidfreeliving on this. You need to find what food/ way of eating works for you – your body tells you if it’s working or not. Body chemistry is different for each individual – so ways of eating should differ. It’s just like individualized medical treatment for disease based on genetic code/body chemistry – so why do people go bonkers and argue so much about food choices?
            Ditto to the lack of arguing – and that walk a mile.
            Only add, nothing is a waste of time: so there are problems and errors or bad choices – you have to know what you don’t want before you recognize what you really do want.

            • The food has never been an issue for me in that I’ve always been educated about the topic and have a great community of resources. It’s other people that don’t really get it ;) But I love your last line in this comment–spot on.

  7. I’ve struggled with how to answer this amazing post. My wife always says “I choose to be happy” (referring to herself) and “choose to be better for yourself (referring to me).

    Outwardly, I’m a smartass like you. I seem “okay”. Internally I’m morose and dark, and kind of an a-hole. Finding the balance between your true self and the person your mental illness wants yout o be is almost impossible, but that’s your mission should you choose to accept.

    I, like you, should accept.

    wonderful column, abs

    • I’m also an a-hole, but that’s okay. ;) But it’s both empowering and embarrassing to realize that we do honestly have the power to be happy if we so choose. Yes, there are physical things that can are HUGE roadblocks and we can’t change our environment, up and quit our jobs, etc. However, we can acknowledge the negative things we do to keep ourselves stuck and make changes, not excuses. We’ll see. Day to day ;)

  8. “until I start living an authentic life, until I surround myself with like-minded people and things that honor my (true) interests” why do we do that? Live without authenticity? Or surround ourselves by people and things that do not honor what we love?

    And your home you’ve built for yourself, with your flowers and your cat… isn’t that honoring your true interests? Haven’t you slowly been shaping a life you love by starting with a home in which you can regroup and find yourself?

    I know what you mean and what you’re going through. I guess I’m in the same boat (only I’m really in a boat) and it’s actually kept me from blogging! I struggle with these phases: transitions – bleh!

    Hope you find yourself!

    • Oh yes, of course I love my house and my family/friends, etc. But those are physical things outside of myself. I don’t share everything here, of course, but there are a lot of things I do that don’t honor the way that I want things to be. Time is spent in ways that serve only as distraction or to fulfill some routine checklist that I’ve placed unnecessary importance on. It’s not really about finding myself, but rather letting the “me” actually be more “me” instead of seeing myself through a lens of depression, OCD, comparison to others, etc.

      You should write anyway. Screw it. It’s for you.

  9. I love it. I look forward to following you on your journey to an “authentic life”. I can relate so hard, and wish you all the best, lady. Such an inspiring post!

  10. Abby,
    This is why I love your blog > honesty. While most of the so-called “A-List” bloggers are concerned with SEO, buzzwords, hyperbole & lame book sales, you simple write your truth AND your “audience” keeps tuning in (and caring).

    I’ve enjoyed your “retreating into intellectualizing everything” but can’t wait to see what this newer, sleeker, Abby will have to offer.

    Sending a hug :)

  11. Brava, Abby!

    I applaud you for intuitively sensing what your soul needs right now and going for it.

    I look forward to reading more about your journey.

    The best to you!
    X

  12. i think we search for the one thing that makes us happy yet run circles doing it. The fact is YOU are in charge of YOUR own happiness, yes? Not anyone else. Accepting that and doing what FILLS you, not what makes you FULL. Too deep? LOL. I think letting go and accepting is freaking scary, but worth it. It means less control but more life. Hold on for the ride, its bumpy but oh sooooo good!

    • Agreed. It’s cheesy and cliche and all that crap, but it’s really a matter of asking different questions when we don’t get the answers we need.

  13. “And no, this isn’t going to suddenly become a vegan Buddhist blog completely void of sarcastic rambles and snark.”

    Well that’s good to know.

    On a serious note, I am happy you’ve decided to embrace living an authentic life. That’s really HUGE.

  14. I agree; you can tell someone how bad something is, but if the other person never personally experienced it themselves, they will never truly understand where you’re coming from!

    jonwatersauthor.com

  15. Seems you and I are traveling the same road, except I’m not on Team Buddha…I think I even spelled his name wrong…but you get my drift. I know exactly what you mean Abby. Each day I think will be the day that my eyes will open. I don’t think they ever do open. I think we navigate with our eyes closed and hope we don’t bump into shit.
    I loved this post Abby, one of my faves from you.

  16. I am also a smart-ass Buddhist. Welcome to the team.

    • Ha. It’s funny because even though they’ve been a part of my life, I’ve just never talked about those things on here of fully embraced them. It’s nothing revolutionary, but rather taking out the distractions/negative behaviors I mindlessly throw in and replacing that space with more mindfulness–or silence, and of course, still baseball and “Chopped” and…;)

  17. Wow. Deep breath for that one but…let the journey begin. You can choose it or it happens (like me, as you know) but if you go with it, let go to it, there are moments of deep contentment- even if it is doing things and being things you never thought you would.

    I’d give you a hug but know it would creep you out.

  18. Wow. How shocked am I that you quoted me and called me “wise?” I feel like such a pious fraud. I’m completely clueless and making a big fat mess of my life.

    Well, life is messy. I suppose it’s supposed to be. I’m trying to embrace it. I admire your pursuit of a more authentic life. I was just writing about the pursuit of authenticity earlier today …. still pursuing it. Still conflicted. But glad I’m thinking/writing/trying to do something about it.

    And glad you are too.

  19. It’s a difficult thing… in theory, we all know we should do and be what makes us happy…. yet somehow in practice it can become so difficult.
    This summer I lost my balance like woah. Last fall I became so out of sorts mentally my doctor thought I had a brain tumour, and I had worked hard to change my life to be a better me and not have to spend the rest of my life on medication… And then this summer I lost that balance again and the insomnia is back, and I am irritable and headachy and not a person I want to be around. Which is troublesome. Not easy to not being around oneself. I didn’t slip right back into old habits, but I slipped back into enough of them to do some damage…

    I actually have spent a big part of this weekend discussing with some good friends about having negative people in our lives, and I think actually the biggest imbalance in my life these last few months was a friend who had become demanding and bossy and was requiring the lot of us to bend over backwards to keep her happy… we were focused on someone else’s happiness to the expense of our own. Not healthy.

    “My answers will always be out of sync until I start living an authentic life, until I surround myself with like-minded people and things that honor my (true) interests and not those of my ego. ”

    That pretty much sums up where I’m at in my life. It’s been almost a year since I first started walking away from unhealthy relationships, stepping down from commitments I made because I thought I should, not because I really wanted to… and I have found some like-minded people to help keep me focused, and I have focused on participating in activities that I truly enjoy… and I was better for it. And still I slipped backwards. But I like to believe I recognized the signs a bit sooner. Now I’m picking back up the knitting, getting back into the blogging, and walking away from another unhealthy relationship and looking to find that balance again. I am hopeful that I won’t always be finding this an uphill struggle, and that being a balanced happy maggie will one day come naturally to me. Realistically, mental illness runs deep in my blood and I’ll be satisfied if I just never go more crazy than I did last fall. ;)

    Anyhow. I’ve erased and rewritten this response a few times and I’m still not sure I’ve said what I meant to say. But it’s 1130pm and I’ve been trying really hard to get back into the internet without getting back into the habit of staying up online until I can’t keep my eyes open….

    wishing you all of the luck on your journey, and admittedly relieved the snark will still be around ;)

    • I can relate to so much of this comment, and despite your claim that you’re rambling, I love it. While we can’t always change our physical environment (or job, etc.) we can change who we choose to spend “our” time with–online or off–and those toxic relationships are, well, toxic. It’s hard to cut them off, but sometimes it’s completely necessary. Not selfish, but self-care.

      When you have a history of mental imbalance, you have to be more aware of these things. It can be a pain, but it can also be a blessing ;)

  20. I love every single thing you wrote in this post.

    I believe that it takes a certain type of person, someone with great strength, determination, self-awareness and bravery, to be empowered to make life changes that will, at times, be an incredibly uncomfortable process.

    I’m so proud of you, Abby.

    “Your possibilities are unlimited, but it all begins with the deliberate choice to think differently”.

    — Chris Guillebeau

  21. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to find attainable goals and contentment that doesn’t rely on the bigger things I’ve put on an arbitrary list of what’s needed for me to be happy (you know, cause I’m currently living in my mom’s house and my life is trapped in jello). I really want to find an honest but more positive approach to my woes. I’ll be eagerly awaiting all of those answers from your insights. Just kidding! But really, I wish you happiness and comfortableness while still holding on to your humor.

    • Oh, trust me. Humor is key. There are no answers, or at least nothing simple (as we all know.) It’s not like I’m suddenly trying to be a guru either. But I know I fill my mind with a lot of unnecessary things–that arbitrary list you mentioned, focus on distractions, etc.–and even if that space was left vacant, it would be much healthier for me. But always snark and sarcasm…and shell sculptures and uninspirational posters from you. Always ;)

  22. Things do get better. I was depressed for 15 years for various reasons. It wasn’t an uncontrollable random I don’t know why I want to kill myself depression, it was a holy s#!t does my life ever suck depression. I made a lot of significant changes, and opened myself up to new experiences. I tried anti-depressants but had massive side effects. In the end I cheered up because of effort. Lots of effort. My life still sucks but now I focus on the positive and let go of the things that I can not change.

    http://vortexian.wordpress.com

    • Thanks for sharing! I know my life doesn’t suck, but I also know I’m not happy with the way that I handle some things. Depression sucks, but it doesn’t have to suck the life out of you unless you let it. Sometimes I think I forget this, and shifting my focus has helped.

  23. I remember you leaving that quote on my blog and feeling like that it is so how I feel about life. This post totally resonated with me. I am constantly going back and forth between trying to diet and lose weight, and realizing I need to just focus on being healthy. It’s so hard. I have worked on a lot of my OCD stuff but there are a few things I had to decide, “I need to hold on to this one, at least for now.”

    It’s hard to break out of your comfort zone. Routines are so very important for us. It is a constant and daily strugge for me but one I’m finding worth it. More than worth it. I am so different than the person I was even last year. I am glad for that. I have slips and bad days, but I recover far more quickly.

    I adore you and I wish you luck. And of course you know I’m here if you ever need to talk.

  24. That’s such a worthy endeavor. I find it’s an ongoing process for me, and I’m guessing it will always be that way, but it’s the best way to real happiness that I’ve seen so far. I hope it goes really well for you!

  25. This is an amazing post. And, it really hits home for me. You say so many things that I ponder as well these days.
    I’m so proud of you for wanting more and being brave to look for change. I know that feeling of being comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s so much easier to just stay locked in old habits and find excuses to not make things better. I know what a huge struggle this is and I’m there supporting you all the way!

  26. Whatever you have for us, I want to read it! You are a wonderful person that I know I’d love to hang out with in real life. I’m glad you are refocusing. It sounds healthy!

  27. I totally know what you mean. I’ve been trying to learn how to stop letting things/people/thoughts take up space in my life that aren’t, as you so perfectly stating, “serving me.” its sonhard to break old patterns and habits, but we all have to be open to growth and that’s never easy. I think you have great things ahead of you :)

  28. StoriesAndSweetPotatoes

    I’m so proud of you. Everything you wrote is step one. Contrary actions feel like shit. That’s how you know you’re doing it right. Then eventually they get less shitty. That means you’re winning. This I have learned.

  29. Oh my, you made me cry! It’s so comforting to know there is someone else going through life with similar difficulties. Thank you MUCH!!

  30. Oh dude, I thought I was the only one oh so extremely comfortable in the uncomfortable!

  31. Thank you for sharing this, so glad I found it today. Lately almost every day I manage to stumble upon, or get linked to a blog post that speaks directly to the thoughts foremost in my mind, and this is no exception. I was talking to my girlfriend last night about how just yesterday I was having a mini-crisis internally, struggling with the person I feel I’ve become, because of hopw happy I am these days, and yet acting in ways we’ll call “unbecoming” of someone who feels happy, strong his is Faith, and just generally good.

    This line, “Why am I living a life that is full of disconnect between my authentic beliefs and the seemingly contradictory actions that follow?” is the summation of my feelings from that conversation. Good to know we’re all making changes and striving towards balance. We’ll all be glad we did :)

    • Thank you so much for this comment. I often struggle with how many of these types of posts I should publish, as I often feel like I’m the only one who struggles with these things (or at least will admit that I do.) I’m glad you were able to relate, as this selfishly gives me the confidence to continue to (occasionally) publish more similar posts. ;)

  32. Honesty can be so very painful.

    Why I LOVE, and depend on each and every one of Brene Brown\’s books, and her lectures on TED, and youtube.

    Yes.

    She is that wonderful and integral to me.

    I rely on her, and keep a copy of her books in my purse, car, next to the computer, on the sofa, and next to my bed.

    Because she talks of the pain of vulnerability from facing ourselves, warts and all: and crying about who we are, sometimes.

    Then, fighting for ourselves. Accepting and fighting and working hard to sometimes see that that can mean being alone.

    But that with patience and so much effort, we will find people who understand what we mean when we put our words out there.

    People like you, Abby. Finding people like you is what makes all the hard work worth it.

  33. Even when you writhing on the horns of some dilemma, because I’m a quite a fan of yours I find myself smiling at your expressions of unease as if they were symtoms of the interesting and engrossing character I think you are. After thinking aout it a bit more I worry that you might actually be distressed by all this and that is another matter. I would hate for you to be distressed.

  34. Pingback: When Multitasking Goes Wrong « Melinda's Been Musing

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