Facing Stress Without An Eraser

I have had a trying couple of weeks. That is, I am going through a rough patch. Nothing evil or insurmountable. But annoying. Stressful. I’m going through a rough patch that might cause a person to end the day with a well-deserved adult beverage. Or a sleeve of Donettes from the 7-Eleven down the street, chased with a wild cherry Slurpee. Or at least a Diet Coke and some pretzels. These things would erase my stress for a while. For me, avoiding alcohol and drugs is a habit that can certainly be tried, if not exactly tested by the sort of scrape…

Wheat Face

I finally went to the doctor six years ago for the painful breakouts I had been getting on my face. I requested to see a dermatologist. I never had serious acne on my face as a kid, but entering my mid-thirties meant almost daily inflamed skin. My doctor told me to put petroleum jelly on my pimples. I asked if I could please have that referral to a dermatologist. She went into the hall and came back a minute later with another doctor. This is a dermatologist, she said. He happened to be passing through. He looked at my face and told…

Change the Story

We tell ourselves limiting stories that contain no truth. What follows is a pictorial example of exactly what I am talking about. Inner story at the time: “I’m fat. I mean, really, really fat. I have to stop eating for a year or no one will ever love me. The reason why I am alone and a loser is because I am fat and ugly.” Dang, this was Halloween 1988 (hence the glorious fake tattoo). I was eighteen years old, and so careful about my diet and exercise. I was a swimmer and a dancer. I was a sophomore at UC Santa…

Embrace the Healing Crisis

When I’m about five days into a habit of healthy eating (no sugar whatsoever, little or no wheat products), my skin clears, my clothes loosen, my head aches. My head aches so I can taste metal in the back of my mouth. My head aches so that nothing makes it stop all the way. Even with coffee and analgesics, the headache lurks in the shadow. Its eyes are yellow and they glow in the dark. My energy is low. The dimmer switch is turning lower. Everything is getting on my nerves. My sense of humor is missing. I am taking…

Get Out

I was at a party of writers Friday night. It was a great party but one thing about most writers is that we are introverted people. We are more comfortable wandering the inner landscape than meeting new people and making conversation. One of my friends at the party admitted to me that she sometimes had to rally herself to get out. I loved it when she told me that because I am the same way. One function of being an introvert is that I often feel alone. I prefer to be alone until I start feeling lonely. Or disconnected from…

Respect the Messenger

I hate my body. I hate my flaws. I look fat in this. I hate that I’m sick. I’m exhausted. I wish I had energy. I don’t talk this way about myself anymore, but I used to. I hear these exact remarks and others like them all the time from people who are doing great work in all areas of their lives. I’ve learned to appreciate my body’s integrity as I get older. I immediately feel the effects of my choices now. I can hate my body for a weight gain if I want to, I suppose. But it was…

Enough is Enough

When I was young I loved extreme exercise. I loved mile swims for charity. I loved swim practices that began with groundwork lunges while I carried a friend on my back. My favorite weekends were spent at dance seminars in the city involving six intense hour-long classes back-to-back. I danced until I felt like puking and then danced some more. I loved it. In my twenties, I trained for a triathlon. I ran races. I exercised twice a day sometimes. After having my babies, I re-dedicated myself to extreme exercise. I ran in the mornings before work no matter the weather, and…

Go To Sleep

When I am taking the best care of myself, I treat myself like a Waldorf child. I eat fruits and vegetables instead of candy. I read instead of watch television. I spend time in nature. I get enough sleep. I need eight hours a night. I also need a half hour nap in the afternoon but that doesn’t happen very often. I would take one every day except it would be weird for my students if their teacher curled under her desk in the middle of the lesson and tucked herself in. I knew a great high school football coach once…

Meditate

Advice to myself: Meditate while the water for the coffee is boiling. Sit wrapped in a blanket, palms open, eyes closed.  Focus on the breath coming in and out of my nose. Relax my face. Notice I’m thinking of marathon runners from Kenya who have relaxed faces even in the final miles. Wonder how they accomplish such mastery of the self. Let the runners go. Return to breath. Notice I’m thinking of that thing that pisses me off. Return to breath. Notice I’m thinking about Peaky Blinders. Let Alfie Solomon go, crazy as he is. Return to breath. Notice I’m calmer…

Do Yoga

Back when I was finding myself paralyzed in chairs at work, my yoga teacher friends begged me to try a class. They saw I was suffering. They promised yoga would help if only I would give it a chance. I couldn’t do yoga, I said, because I am a hyperactive person and yoga would make me scream. Also, yoga gave me headaches. Also, I couldn’t afford classes. Also, I didn’t want to. At my unhealthiest point, I visited my friend Laura who has been an accidental guru for me since I was seventeen. I magically do whatever she says. Laura said go to…