Housecleaning my soul

photoIt's been a few days since I journaled and my internal alarm system is blaring. Something is building up inside me and I need to slow down, check in, listen to what my still, small voice is trying to tell me. I make myself a strong cup of coffee and settle down with pen and paper. Journaling is my meditation. It helps me go inward. When I journal, I don't think. I just start writing wherever I'm at and write my way to insight. Sometimes it takes a full page, sometimes several. Usually, I have some pre-cleaning to do. My soul gets cluttered with emotional post-it notes, an assortment of mismatched feelings, a thin layer of memory dust.

I have to write through all of that, sort of like cleaning house. I have to pull up the old carpet, remove all the tacks and staples, sweep everything clean. It's not until the floors are swept and the wood polished that the gleaming insight reveals itself. 

Today it wasn't until page three that the idea I was looking for surfaced and spilled itself onto my page.

I sat there for a moment in the still morning quiet and sipped my coffee. I let the insight sink in. I waited for the yes and amen of my spirit.

As I've read your stories and thoughts over the past couple regarding our relationship with food and feeling fat, I've struggled to understand what is driving my self-loathing. I mean, I know where my self-hatred comes from. But I don't know how to change it, how to heal it.

I've tried cutting myself off. Deprivation only makes the desire stronger. I've tried fasting and cleansing and confessing. For me, this leads to self-rejection and deeper feelings of shame. And then I end up falling off the wagon with a huge crash, gobbling up junk food in the parking lot of Taco Bell.

So often I function from a place of scarcity, greedily snarfing up any leftover crumbs because I'm convinced the full meal isn't coming my way. My default mode is to operate from fear--to believe that time is running short, the end is near and there's not enough to go around.

Today, I think I may have found something different.

Healing and recovery isn't about cutting myself off. Lasting change happens in small steps.

If I feed myself well, I won't be tempted to eat junk.

When I am fed and satisfied with good things, the Cool Ranch Doritos just aren't appealing. It's when I wait until I'm hungry! Starved! Stressed! that I reach for the quick-fix.

And this isn't just about food. It's about my spiritual and emotional health as well. So often I'll just dive in headfirst, make 110% commitments, go whole-hog, gung-ho and then wonder why I'm feeling stressed, starved for love and reaching for the quick-emotional-fix.

This is a whole new way of living for me. It's gonna take some practice. I simply don't know how to slow down, listen in, exercise moderation. But I'll start by making a list of Good Things To Feed My Soul. Here's my list so far:

  1. Journaling
  2. Gratitude list
  3. Writing encouraging notes
  4. Teaching faith formation classes to kids
  5. Teaching writing classes
  6. Eucharistic adoration
  7. Lectoring at Mass
  8. Reading aloud to my children
  9. Reading a good book
  10. Baking cookies
  11. Helping my children pursue their dreams (Jewel will be performing a ballet solo this year!)
  12. Tending my roses
  13. Walking my dogs
  14. Making soup
  15. Decorating for the holidays and seasons
  16. Memorizing poetry
  17. Listening to classical music
  18. Contributing to neighborhood get togethers
  19. Participating in book clubs
  20. Volunteer work
  21. Visiting the sick

How about you? What Good Things fill up YOUR soul?