Reconnaissance and Renascence

Limestone pavement - - 1471141Finding my way back to these pages is a challenge.  I want to be here with you. My intention is clear: to suppport recovery and the new more fulfilled life when recovery begins to be established. My intention and committment is the same as it ever was.

Yet, I've had so many experiences since my last post I discover I don't fit into the perspective I had before.  My vision changed, expanded, deepened. I've come through pain, medical crisis, relationship clarity, romance, adventure, change in body chemistry and creative inspiration.  I'm more alive than I have been in a long time and didn't even know this kind of life force energy was available to me.

The main guiding principle I've learned is this:

Withdraw from what shuts me down. Step into what opens me up. Stay aware so I have the choice.

* Pix info

So I'm not picking up where I left off, although I may come around again to elaborating on the gifts of pain that create new and needed awakenings.  For now I'll share bits of my ongoing journey coming back to you.

My mantra and teaching lesson to myself and the children in my family is, "If you can't find it, clean up."  That means, if you can't find your sock, stop looking.  Put your attention to cleaning up your room. Do that and you will find your sock, and other things lost or forgotten too.

It also means, if you can't find clarity in your thinking, stop trying.  Clean up your thoughts.  Journal, make lists, write descriptions of what's in your mind.  Eventually, over time, maybe days, or weeks or months, your elemental themes will become clear.

So now, in wondering how to come back to my site, to you, to writing this blog on a regular basis I'm clearing more of my bookshelves behind my main computer, where I'm writing now.  Since this clearing actually brings me to the page I thought I'd share some of this process and let you discover what I discover as I discover it.

Ninety five percent of my marketing books are in bags, going to the Thrift Shop.  When Facebook and Twitter got established, when I was preparing for my book launch, when blogging was the new big thing, I did what I always do:  gather up books by professionals to learn what I could.  Now, with this reawakened heart and soul I want to write what's meaningful to me and set it free.  If what I say has value to you, you'll read it, perhaps talk about it, perhaps pass it on.  That's been the path for writing and art throughout time.  My marketing books collect dust, take up space and seem to be a loud echo to the noise of the marketing voices that pour through my inbox every day.

I like hearing what my friends and colleagues are dong.  I like hearing what writers and creatives are doing.  I like hearing about what past patients are doing. I like what's personal and meaningful to the sender and might be for me.  But I'm happy to part with marketing lessons.  I know enough to reach you who want to be reached. That's all I need. My time needs to go into writing what Ithink is valuable, what fills a gap in the world, a story that needs to be told, a thought that needs to be shared. Perhaps it's not out there for you to see, and that's what needs to be written.  That's where my time and energy need to go.

Clearing out the marketing books gives me lots more space on my shelves. That feels good.  Then I hit the notebooks.  Clearing them is not as simple as putting books in bags and carrying them to the trunk of my car.  (I almost wrote, "car boot" which shows my recent visit to the UK). Notes from old classes, papers from old study groups, phone numbers and notes from old conversations can mostly get tossed.

But what about notes in a scriblle I can barely make out that I gleaned from my zen teachers when I studied at the Buddhist Temple?  So I thought I would go through these and other notes I thought were valuable at the time and which maybe still are. I'll copy or translate or mistranslate them here so we can look together at teachings and musings that were critical in early formation of what has become a beautiful way of life.

Here's something from Ram Das:  Regarding bad LSD trips, you go out facing eternity and come back facing limiations.  My notes, not sure if it's him or me or a combination read:

Leting go is meeting the infinite.
We are all journeying to the infinite for ourselves and each other. That's me.
We fear that we will be swallowed up by the other who is entering the infinite.  That's Ram Das.

Question:  Where are you going to and from where?

I love this question.  In Bali villagers shout this question across the road as people, local or foreign, pass by.  It's an ongoing conversation. "Where are you going?"  "Where do you come from?"  "How long in Bali?"

When I got home I wanted to shout out those questions to people walking by in my Los Angeles neighborhood.  It seemed isolating not to have that conversation going 24/7.  

But I see that it's an ongoing question to ask yourself too.  It can get profound.  In fact, I think it might be a provocative series of journal questions to answer every morning for a few weeks.  Those questions can take you to new understanding of your current reality.

1.       Where am you going?

Look at this deeply and discover how you feel about your destination if you follow the path you are on.  Do you need to tweak or change? If so, how?

2.      Where do you come from?

You can answer this by geography, philosophy, heritage, personal history, ethnicity, religion.  It might be an eye opener to answer the quetion in all those ways and more that you can think of.

3.      How long have you been in this present condition?

You might be in your present mode of living for a short time or years or most of your life. If you have an eating disorder, that's part of your present condition. Often we have to really see clearly where we are before we can make any more toward being in a new, different and more fulfillingy place.

Please let me know if this thinking and experiencing trail is interesting or useful to you.  I see pages of scribbles to sort through.  Shall I continue?

Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay 

(This is a heartfelt reading of Millay's poem on youtube. My mother read  this aloud often as we children tried to learn it by heart.  I can do a lot but not all.  My sister and I together can put it together.  I highly recommend that you find it written and read it aloud. Find your own emotional emphasis and tone. If you don't know this poem, I delight in your discovery.)

* Creative Commons Picture is of the limestone fields in Ireland.  The cracks between the stone vary from a few inches to many feet.  Some seemed to go to great depths. Arctic and tropical flowers grow side by side here in the niches of the stones. When I was methodically picking my way through these stones with my walking stick, the stones suddenly spoke to me .... in wisdom poetry. :)


0 # Amazing!shh 2013-10-15 03:21


I'm so glad your trip to Ireland was everything you wanted it to be and so much more! Bizarrely I read this on my phone sat in my car in the supermarket car park, I hardly ever use my phone to go online, unless I'm on a train journey, or staying away from home for a few days, so I have no idea how or why I ended up here, but I'm glad I did - I ended up with tears streaming down my face, and feeling like, "I don't want to do the shopping, I want to go home and respond to this"...and unlike my usual sensible self who would've said "just do the food shopping, you can respond later", I followed my heart, my inner energy and came home to reflect and to respond.

I needed to read what you wrote, I needed to feel the amazing positive energy that it exudes.

It's no great secret that I've had a difficult year, and I relapsed quite badly into my ED - not ED ways of thinking, but ED ways of eating, and what I learned was that whilst psychologically I felt everything relating to my recovery was very much in tact, in fact continuing to grow and flourish in many ways, that eating-wise, my ED ways, are my natural defence mechanism, the way of coping that I fall into without even being aware of it until I'm completely immersed in it. I knew that tackling my eating meant tackling at least some of the stressors that were driving it, and I actually made a conscious choice to allow my ED ways of eating to continue for several months until what I believed would be a less stressful time, after my uni exam, when I would have the time and energy to get myself back into recovery. I had my last exam on Friday, and so (as I posted on the forum), that time is now here.

Over the last few days as I've been thinking about what I need to do, I realised that I no longer felt how I felt when I finished with my therapist last November, or how I felt earlier in the year when I felt amazed that I was going it alone and like I was just going from strength to strength, especially in terms of self-care and self-awareness, and the way I felt inside. I realised that I'd lost her, she'd gone, buried under everything else that's taken precedence in the last 6-8 months, and buried under the mountain of food that I've consumed in that time too. I wanted "her" to come back, I wanted to feel like that again, but I didn't know how to find her fact I spent last night reading over my old journals, looking for her, for a sense of her, for something to reignite a spark or flicker that would help me to find her again...

... reading your blog post today Joanna, has done it!

It's hard to describe and convey this, but I have 3 people who I credit with helping me become the person I am today, that I have so much gratitude for, and you are one of them. All were very different in the things you imparted to me, I took different things from each of you - and you were kind of "the sensible one", your advice and questioning was warm,yet firm, and I knew if I followed your advice, and asked myself about the things you raised, searched for the answers, that it would help me - I always felt that your advice was reliable and dependable.

And in my recent need to find myself again, I actually didn't need, that kind of level, sensible, reliability...I needed something that I realise from reading your blog, was an element of my old therapist - I saw in your blog, a thing she used to see in me, and point out to me. Sometimes she would say, "look at you...gosh, look at the energy that is just pouring out of you talking about this ("this" being something that meant something to me, that I felt enthused, and passionate about), your face is radiant, your eyes, your smile and laughter - it's contagious, when you come in here in this mood and talk like this, I love it, you make me feel energised and full of life too"...and she basically made me see that that was "it", the things that made me behave that way and impart so much positive energy, they were the things that were key to the life I was looking for. She absolutely filled me with the confidence that no matter how crazy or unconventional those things were - that I should find the courage to value them and go with them. And towards the end of my time with her, I was able to connect the things that appeared that way outwardly, with an inner sensation, an inner energy. And part of it is around, I can't remember how you described it Joanna, but a feeling of having things you want to get out and share with the world ...for me I feel there are things deep inside, within that inner energy that I need to utilise to make a useful contribution to the world (my therapist would call them, my "gifts")...and I'm still not fully aware of what direction I need to go in to do that, but I do believe that if I just follow that energy and go wherever it takes me, that the answers will be revealed.

Joanna - I am so grateful, that your blog has reconnected me with all of that, as it was so deeply buried again after months of relapsed eating... it's the thing I've been looking for, the thing that I'd "lost".

I just love feeling that amazing, fuzzy, "aliveness" inside me - I don't care that people might think I'm fact it is this feeling and perspective that I had to book a therapy session for, just to check I wasn't seriously mentally ill, for feeling and believing this! I'm so grateful to have it back... and yes, please do translate your scribblings Joanna, I for one would really appreciate that!






0 # stay awareJackie 2013-10-15 18:06
Shh you are awesome.

Joanna I have been to many of the sites you visited in Ireland. Coole Park is one of my favorite places. It is only ten minutes from my mother-in-law's house. There is something about walking among the ancient trees that grounds me. The quality of light and air are different in Ireland. It's healing and restful. It's beautiful and spiritual. I'm glad you had a wonderful trip.

My therapist likes to tell me that the "inside matches the outside". Getting rid of physical clutter and following through on household tasks would be beneficial to my state of mind and health. When I have the urge to organize and let go of clutter, then I know that I am moving in the right direction. However, I often start and then quickly become overwhelmed and stop. I do this with my eating habits too. I do this with relationships. 

With my job change, I have had to focus all of my mental energy on learning new information. I've dropped into extreme survival mode. Whatever it takes to make it through was my motto the first month. This is not healthy or helpful. I ended up in the hospital last week with kidney stones as a result. My body said "enough". I have to take care of myself no matter what circumstance I find myself in.   

However, I really am just trying to survive. It's been so long since I have felt remotely like myself that I don't even know who that person is. I can imagine that she is someone from my past, but that is not who I am anymore. I'm caught somewhere in between.                       
0 # Fabulous welcome back, Shhpinkjoanna 2013-10-15 22:41
Dear Shh,

Thank you for your moving post. I can't imagine a more welcome back message than yours.  I'm so glad my experiences are reaching you in life affirming ways.  

It's pretty clear that eating disorder recovery is not about controlling food.  It's about nurturing our lives and the life force within us.  When we do that our life unfolds in a way that is meaningful to us plus our health and weight improves.  We are a complete package and need to be alert and respectful to our genuine needs.

Thank you for telling me about your tears in the car. They sound like healing tears, tears that cleanse, tears that are a sign of something hard melting.  I'm so glad you honored them.

And yes, I'll look be investigating more of my scribbles and sharing.

warmest regards,

0 # clutter cleansepinkjoanna 2013-10-15 22:53
Dear Jackie,

Nice to hear your descriptions of Ireland.  The air, especially in the Aran Islands, was more light and fresh than I've ever experienced anywhere.

Sounds like you are in the midst of a challenging time that is reaching overwhelm proportions. Such a situation can numb you to your deep and authentic feelings.  Survival mode is a place where you can go on automatic, ignoring through oblivion what's important to you as a human being.  Survival comes first. But, in such a situation, clutter can build.

I suggest, as you've probably already thought of, that you take small, even tiny clutter cleanse steps.  Clutter, which includes unecessary stuff, thoughts and people, can block you from feeling who you are and that can be a kind of self protection.  That's why it's difficult to start clearing.
But it's a false protection that only blocks you from your real life.

If you get overwhelmed quickly then make your clearing steps smaller. Don't do a whole closet. Do one drawer. Or do even less. Stop before you get near overwhelm.

One technique is to get a bag and give yourself a number, for example, eight.  Then fill the bag with eight things you will throw away or donate to a Thrift Shop.  That's it.  If you do this on a regular basis, gradually you lighten your environment and your emotional state.  

Little by little gets you there. 

Thank you for writing, Jackie. I'm glad to know you are actively working toward a better life.

warm regards,

0 # Joanna & Jackieshh 2013-10-16 15:46

 Thank you Jackie & Joanna

Joanna, I think my tears in the car were sheer relief. Relief that after reading your blog article and being reconnected with that sense of inner energy, that I had found "her" again, as I had been starting to worry a little that I wasn't going to be able to do it, knowing full well, that if I don't dig myself out of this relapse then I've got to put myself back into therapy. Whilst on one hand I would love it (I love the depth and the awareness and self development that it produces), my gut feeling is that I don't want to, I don't want to ask for that help unless I truly need it, because I see where I'm at, and where I've been in recent months, as being sort of a continuation of the work in therapy, the part where I have to learn from my experiences, what kind of things tip me back into ED ways, and how to get myself back out of there are back into recovery. And I do believe that once I feel comfortable that I can do that for myself, that I probably will go back into therapy, to carry on working on my self development and exploring my inner self further.

 Jackie, I can totally identify with what you say about getting overwhelmed  it's something I experience too, but I agree with Joanna's advice about breaking things down into smaller tasks - I have learned to use the phrase "just commit one hour of your time to it, that's all" to get started on things that seem too overwhelming to face doing - it really works for me, if you try it I hope it does for you too!




0 # breaking big tasks into many little onespinkjoanna 2013-10-16 18:52
Dear Shh and Jackie,

Yes to small tasks.  Sometimes just a few minutes of clearing is enough to make a difference and start building your way to a more clear life.

One small corner gets cleared.... and the result is that it's clear and you did it and know it.  That matters.  One pile gets smaller.  Every day the pile gets smaller, bit by bit. Those bits matter.

I remember going through and donating dishes I didn't use.  Then I donated serving pieces I didn't use. Then I realized I had too many dessert dishes.  Weeks later I realized that my "good dishes" represented a way of life I didn't live anymore.  So, with some wrenching of heart, I donated them.
After two days I didn't miss them at all.

And then, with all those dishes gone, over a period of months, I realized I didn't need the beautiful credenza that stored and displayed the dishes I no longer owned.  So I donated that.

My dining room became lighter, more spacious and lovely.  And I still have plenty of lovely dishes.
My "every day" dishes are lovely enough for entertaining and I like using quality items for me as an ordinary way of living.

Many little steps of clearing lead to a more spacious inner and outer environment that gives you more freedom and room to feel what you genuinely feel.  
0 # I love declutteringshh 2013-10-17 01:55

I am the kind of person who likes to periodically have a big de-clutter, and it is interesting, that I look at things and think "what exactly am I keeping them for?" and I can be quite ruthless - I have to say I've never missed any of the things I've given or thrown away.

I think to be honest, it's about transitional objects isn't it - we keep things to help us cope with moving our lives forwards, but once we've moved on, we don't need them anymore.

0 # declutteringpinkjoanna 2013-10-17 08:04

Yes, Shh.

I remember, years ago, looking at my storage unit and realizing I kept furniture as transitional objects with emotional baggage.  I laughed and asked myself why I couldn't keep a ring or a pen instead of a couch or a recliner!

A long time has passed since then.  Decluttering involves more than objects now.  It involves how I spend my time, organizations, activities, people, thinking processes, lingering debilitating emotions, routine ways of dealing with food and health issues that don't work for me - or don't work any longer.

The zen koan comes to mind:  

Use the raft to cross the river.  When you cross the river, leave the raft and walk into the forest."

One challenge is to divest of something that did work for you in the best but is no longer relevant to your life today and now.

Laura R
0 # Coming BackLaura R 2013-10-19 15:46
Joanna - thank you for coming back. I missed you.

I've been a little "gone" from myself the last couple of months. For a while it felt good to not be as close to my emotions and to not feel so reactive to my environment. However self care suffered as a result. Now there is a part of me starting to try to call the rest of me back and I'm trying to figure out where I've been and why I went there and where I'm going. 

I like how you say, "Often we have to really see clearly where we are before we can make any more toward being in a new, different and more fulfillingy place." I'm finding the "seeing where I am" the most challenging. I go back and forth. I think, oh I'm not taking very good care of myself....oh wait...nothing really bad is happening here....everything is fine, well maybe not fine, but not horrible. 
Am I going to head towards thrive or hang out in survive longer?

Again, good to have you back and see everyone else on the page.
0 # Thank you for the welcome, Laurapinkjoanna 2013-10-19 16:24
It's good to be back and able to be back.  I told myself and friends who could understand that I was not "going" to Ireland.  I was "going through" Ireland as part of a soul passage and would come out on the other side different.

I wanted my experience to be part of a sacred soul journey, a soul cleansing journey with witnesses to commemorate the journey I've been through that leads me to this new place.

Please head towards thrive, Laura.  Survive mode is better than the alternative, of course. Still, as you become more of who you are with more freedom to act based on who you are, survival mode seems narrow and bare.

Not that the new stage is without challenges!  Every stage has challenges. The new challenges are far more preferable than the old ones.

Periodically I ask myself and my patients, especially when I or they are suffering with some kind of delema or hardship, would you trade these problems for your old problems?  How do you answer that question?

My problems and challenges today are far superior to those in my past.  These are the challenges that come with arriving at a new and more quality way of living.

When am I ready to come back to my blog is a lot better than how can I write? or what do I have to do and learn to create a blog? Or back further.... how do i build a practice?  ... or back further .... how to I get, afford and maintain a university education and go for license qualification? .... or back further ... how do I stop binging and throwing up?  ... or back further ..... how do I make a better life without even considering the possibility of recovery.  Recovery was unimaginable and not even a fantasy.

Please do keep going toward thriving, Laura.  It pays off.   :-)

Thank you again, for your welcome back, Laura.  I appreciate your presence very much.

Laura R
0 # today challengesLaura R 2013-10-23 22:17

Yes Joanna! I will gladly take my today challenges over my past challenges. Good way to put things into perspective. Thank you.

BTW - I have an inexpensive but special ring that I bought myself when I was in Ireland 15 years ago. I wear it every day and it reminds me of how free my heart and spirit felt during my journey. Here's to fuschia hedges and sheep in the middle of the roads :-)


0 # challenges todaypinkjoanna 2013-10-25 18:39
Yes, Laura, my challenge today is to get more of this filing done.  Good news, I have a file cabinet and a profession and important papers to file.  That wasn't always true.   :-)

I'm wearing a mood ring I got in Ireland last month. :-)  

Here's to blackberry bushes climbing on limestone walls, glossy happy cows and donkeys, clean light air and the bluest eyes I've ever seen.

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