Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year, #Reverb10 catch-up and Weigh-in no. 20

So, today is the second day of 2011.   Happy New Year!  

So far, so good.

My year started in the presence of some of the people I love most in this world: Jim and my close friends, Suzanne and Richard.   Of course, yesterday was also the day that Suz and Richard flew back home to Virginia, which brought a bittersweet beginning to the year.

I have been blessed to have some amazing friends.  I believe God has placed these people in my life to fill the vacuum left by the dysfunction of my family.  For all intents and purposes, I feel and function like an orphan.  My friends are my family, as I've said before.  Long ago, I learned that biology and sharing genes with someone means nothing (unless you're looking for an organ donor, maybe).   It is about the emotional and spiritual bonds you form with people, the commitment and love, who you look to for comfort and challenge, the honesty and ability to be real, and the soul sustenance you're able to give one another by being in each other's presence. 

Anam Cara 
(Gaelic: pronounced ah-num kah-ra)
"soul friend"
originally someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With your Anam Cara, you could share your innermost self, your mind and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an “Anam Cara”, your friendship cut across all convention, morality and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul”.  When you are blessed with an “Anam Cara", the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home. This bond between friends is indissoluble: “This, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what no interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part”.
~ from “Anam Cara…Wisdom from the Celtic World“, by John O’Donohue

Me and Suz this past week while visiting Carrickfergus Castle

My soul has been fed this past week with the presence of my soul friend, Suzanne.  Reflecting with her over the last few days have put my mind and heart in a good place to start the new year.  I start the year with a full tank.  My heart, soul and mind are full, despite the grief I've been feeling since her departure and the return to life as normal.
As a result, I've been thinking about the coming year, what I want out of it and how to achieve it.  She and I were both doing #reverb10 and had some conversations about the experience so far.   I've never been one for New Year's resolutions, even when it came to losing weight.  I always felt that to make a New Year's resolution was to set one's self up for failure.  But when I really think about what it means "to resolve to do something", I find that the new year isn't special.  Resolution means "a firm decision to do or not do something" or "the quality of being determined or resolute."  We resolve to do things throughout the year.  I made a resolution when I started this blog and began this journey of losing weight and finding balance.  So, for me, New Year's resolutions are more of an effort to think about what kind of year I want it to be and who I want to be in it.
As such, I want to finish the #reverb10 posts which help me process 2010 and 2011.  Some of the questions I thought were a waste of time or too big to include here, so I'll indicate which ones I've skipped.  So here goes:

Dec. 19: Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

This weight loss and life changing journey is a process of healing.  It began in August and will continue indefinitely as I don't think we are every completely healed for once and for all.  It is healing by making the decision of letting go - letting go of the past failures, letting go of unrealistic expectations, letting go of fears that kept me from moving on.  This coming year, I would like to continue this process of letting go, continuing to work on gentleness toward myself and those closest to me, and continuing to seek and implement that balance that brings healing.

Dec. 20: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I have no regrets.  I've never really been one to have regrets to be honest.  I think I have to say that I'm pretty good at implementing what I have decided to do (at least for the big stuff).  I have no desire to live otherwise.

Dec. 21:  skipped

Dec. 22:  Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

I took 2 bigger trips last year - one home to Virginia and one back to Bosnia (first time in 5 years) for research and participation in the Peace Academy, participating in a fantastic module related to memory and its role in conflict and conflict transformation.  They were great trips and I was glad I went.  However, I had hoped to have a true vacation this year - somewhere lying on a beach, getting a suntan, drinking wine, seeing the sites, and sampling traditional fare.  It didn't happen.  In fact, I discontinued my subscription to Lonely Planet magazine because it was frustrating me each month with all the new options and my lack of funds to enable such travel to happen.

However, if all things are well and I/we can swing it this year, my preferred possibilities would be Andalucia (southern Spain), Provence (southwestern France) or Morocco.  But we'll see.  If any of those happen, you'll certainly hear about it here.

Dec. 23-25: Skipped  

Dec. 26:  Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth and touched your soul? 

Bosnian pita.   YUM.  YUM.
Funnily, this question excited me but I'm having a difficult time pinpointing it.  I love good food and so I've had some great meals this year.  However, when I think about the emotions that were evoked by eating something in particular, I'd have to go with the tikvinice (pumpkin pita) that I had when I was in Sarajevo.  In Bosnia, you can get these savoury pastry things that are filled with either meat, potatoes, cheese, spinach and cheese, pumpkin and sometimes apples (for a sweet option).  It's an everyday street food and everyone eats it.  I have to admit that although I had lived in Bosnia for 2 years previously, I had never had the pumpkin one.  But dang - there was the BEST place for pumpkin pita/tikvinice right next to where I was staying, so I had one almost every day for the 2 weeks I was there.  Tikvinice with a glass of fresh yogurt to drink - O.M.G.  I know some of you may be thinking it doesn't sound that appetizing, but don't knock it till you've tried it.

The tikvinice was great but it touched my soul because it brought me back to a place that was familiar and almost elemental for me, to be sitting in Bosnia - a land that I love and will always do whatever I can for - eating a new version of one of my favorite foods, surrounded by familiar sights, sounds and smells and reminded of memories that are precious to me.

Dec. 27: skipped

Dec. 28: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

I'm not sure if "achievement" is the right word, but I know what I want out of this next year.

I want:
  • to continue to learn to be more gentle with myself and others
  • to pay more attention and seek out joy, beauty and pleasure where it may be found
  • to continue the quest for achieving balance in my life, physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally
  • to run a 5K
  • to finish my Ph.D dissertation
  • to be proud of who I am, what I've achieved and where I'm headed
I think I'm on the path to all of these things.  I think that 4 of the 6 will be lifetime goals, things that I will be working on way after 2011 has come to an end.  And I think the things I can do and thoughts I can think in order to make them happen are rooted in reflective practice, greater self-awareness, and a resolution to end some habits that keep them from forming more fully in my life.

Dec. 29-30: skipped

Dec. 31:  Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

My core story is about a girl who, despite the odds, is trying her hardest to live into her fullest potential.  It's about breaking free from boundaries that have been placed upon me (or that I've placed on myself - although those are harder to break) - culturally, religiously, physically....even financially, at times.  It's about doing what one dares to dream and finding ways around the "impossible".  On the days I get really down either through my own self-criticism and doubt or other people's perceptions and decisions, I need to remember this core story of me.

And now, since it's Sunday, I should also weigh-in....

Weigh-in no. 20 (-3.2)

Last week:    296.8
This week:    293.6      
Loss of          - 3.2
Total Loss     - 33.4

As I suspected, last week's gain was residual hanging around because of the lack of water and the amount of wine I drank as well as the massive amounts of protein (compared to my normal diet) that sat in my gut for what felt like days.  I'm now back to almost pre-Christmas weight (.2 lbs more).  I think that's a success.  I'm delighted!  I think somewhere in my head this morning, I was half-expecting the big 3 to pop up again, but it seems to be gone forevermore.  Huzzah!

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