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The Matrix of Choice

Photo by Taylor Dawn Fortune

In 2012, for health reasons, I needed to eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet.

I needed to, so I chose to. It wasn’t a life or death in the strictest sense–my diagnosis with an auto-immune disease did not require me to make any dietary change–but after trying it out for a brief period, I realized that diet did have an effect on my condition.

But food is controversial. People who omit things from their diet are suspect. Some people point out some research factoid they’ve read that says that diet doesn’t make a difference. Others say, condescendingly, that gluten-free is “just a fad.”

The biggest rub? That giving up certain foods would drain the joy out of life. Since I could continue to eat gluten or dairy and still mostly, basically, pretty-much get through life, then: How could I give up bread? Cheese? Ice-cream?

5 Ways to Find Your True Desire

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We are not meant to be perfect; we are meant to be whole. ~Jane Fonda

It’s the crisis of the modern era: stressed-out, disconnected, working so hard and not knowing what, exactly, we’re working for. Entire lives are planned around promotions and pay raises, or around simply surviving the day-to-day, and then we look around and ask ourselves: Is all this work actually getting me where I want to go?

I’ve found myself in this position–the position of the person who has figured out how to work hard and achieve things, but has realized with a sudden and startling clarity that she doesn’t actually know that they are things she wanted.

What do you do when you’ve pursued the things you’ve been conditioned to want, and find that once you’ve got them–they weren’t what you really wanted?

Perhaps what you’ve sought was some outward measure of perfection, and now the journey is towards wholeness.

Couples Counseling – 6 Truths

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I’ve seen it happen so many times: In casual conversation, without really thinking about it, I start a sentence off with, “Our couples counselor…” and I’m startled when I see the eyebrows raise.

Amid what has become my utterly ordinary reality–we see a couples counselor–I forget myself. I forget that for most people, working with a couples counselor is the sort of thing you’d only reveal to intimate friends and family (and perhaps not even then).

But this is my truth: my partner of seven-plus years and I work with a couples counselor, and have done so since about the two-year mark of our relationship.

The Dark Side of Self-Help

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You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. ~Mary Oliver

These days, as far as I can tell, some of the world is choosing drugs and distraction over soul-searching.

That’s not, you, though, right? You’re willing to do the work. You’re willing to look at the ugly stuff, and acknowledge the areas where you could use some work—whether it’s emotional, mental, physical, ethical, moral, or any other kind.

But like many things in life, there’s a shadow side to this.

At some point—if you’re not very careful—you may cross the line from personal growth into perfectionism: constantly assessing yourself and your flaws, berating yourself for not doing everything better, and then using the lessons of self-help not for freedom, but as another system for beating yourself up the very same way you would have before you started doing any work at all.

Embracing the Imperfect

Photo by Simón Pais-Thomas
Editor’s Note

I have only one word to summarize how I felt after editing this story from Kate: Wow. Don’t miss this powerful piece. And help me welcome Kate to the TSN family.

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. ~Theodore Rubin

Confession: Lately, for the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been capital-U, “Unhappy.”

Plain. Simple. Unhappy.

Revolutionary insight? This does not need “fixing.”

It’s interesting to notice all the impulses to resist the Unhappy in life, as if the human experience were destined to be one devoid of suffering.

The messages are all around us that if we’re unhappy, we’re “doing it wrong.” So quick! Go buy something, do something different, take some kind of action, to make it all better.

Nope–I’m hunkered down with it, now. Unhappy and I are hanging out, chilling like a villain, asking what’s the haps with the craps.

The Illusion of Control

Photo by Simón Pais-Thomas
Editor’s Note

Don't miss this inspiring and beautifully written article on finding inner peace through our core. Kate eloquently articulated something I’ve been feeling but haven’t quite bubbled up into words. Amazing job.

Undertaking the journey to get some ground under our feet, is completely missing the point. ~Pema Chodron

Things I have tried, in order to reach a state where my life felt like it was all put together, where it was all in order, and to never again feel bad:

  • Meditating
  • Yoga
  • Reading lots of spiritual books
  • Attending workshops
  • Counseling, therapy, coaching
  • Raw foods diets (the books always talk about feeling so “clear” and “mentally alert”)
  • Workshops oriented around catharsis

There are more things that I could list off, but I’ll stop there–you get the picture. All the while, I was searching for something that the searching itself was going to keep me from finding–because all the while, I was “doing stuff” in order to maintain the illusion of control.

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