Sunday, January 17, 2021

Different Everyday

The past few years, I've spent the beginning of January setting my path for the coming year. Either as a resolution or intention, or writing a sankalpa.


This past year I've thought a lot about the...misguided attempts at supporting a theoretical future version of myself. 

As you read from here, know that I'm writing from my own unique experience, body, brain, and my own lifestyle, which may be very different than yours. If this resonates with you, I hope it is helpful; if you feel prickly that I'm not not being open enough to your specific life experience (I don't have kids, for example), then this might not be helpful for you other than just understanding other brains, I guess.

Some habits make sense to me -- if you need gas, get it on way way home, so tomorrow-you doesn't have to make a special trip before work. Stay hydrated, sleep enough, these things contribute to supporting long-term-you.

Other things -- meal prepping, food/grocery subscriptions (things where you are pre-selecting items to be delivered at a later date/regular intervals), signing up for daily challenges, pre-planning my workouts for the week...I have a complicated relationship with these things.

On paper, they are great. Sometimes they do fit the bill for a long time! They remove later decision-making and stress. We know what we need to do. We signed up, there is accountability in place, our fridge is/will be full; all we need to do is this up-front admin work and then we're set!

In practice -- I assume a lot of things about later-me that are not always true.

These plans/products function on the assumption I am the same me every day.
The same me that already knows what food I'm going to want,
and what my energy level will be, what my emotional state will be,
what my external environment will be like
today and every day in the future.

When that day arrives and future-me (now current-me) isn't up for past-me's plan, I feel deeply ashamed.

I feel like I've done something wrong, or I'm being lazy,
or I'm BROKEN in some way.

Over time, I stop participating in these things
because I ended up not being that same me
that was so motivated and renewed and ready to go
when I made those big (unrealistic) plans for future-me.

This year, I chose a mantra
"I'm not the same person every day."

This helps me find peace with not feeling like I fit in with challenge/diet culture and other 'grind culture' capitalism things that treat us like we're just robots running the same script every single day.

So I write this for my friends who want to move on from shame-feelings
as you turn your focus inward and tune into the things that are actually helpful to you and your well-being.

You don't have to check things off lists
and meet goals
and eat that fucking soup you prepped
every single day.

We can find joy and flexibility here
having a loose structure of activities and foods and projects we like to do,
and knowing they are available whenever we want them to be.
And knowing we have permission to take each day at a time
and ask today-you what feels right with all this new, current information.

It may even free up your brain-space enough
to find something past-you didn't even know was possible yet!

Just be very well-versed in all your cancellation policies :)

Love,
CMcG

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Going to the Club




Free parking.
No shoes.
Cheap drinks.
Great company.
Safe passage to bed at night.

Love,
Classy McG

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Cleaning the Bookshelf

Greetings! This year certainly...took a turn. 

For purposes of quick summary, things are pretty OK on my side of things. Hubby and I kept our jobs; I've been working mostly at home as of St Patrick's Day. I was able to bring my yoga studio online and have been teaching several classes a week over the Interweb. I finished up my 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in May and then also took a certification course for Accessible Yoga that wrapped up in October. Whew!

Basically, I'm online SO MUCH, but my creative energy has been very yoga-focused. In my downtime, I sleep as much as possible.

--

Anyway, part of my online time has been spent meeting with monthly groups for book clubs and 'stitch n bitch' time. At one of those events, I was set up in our dining room staring at my bookshelf. I started to draw it.



My bookshelf has been my metaphor for the year.

Our bookshelves are living, breathing spaces where the contents shift and grow all the time. 

Eventually the bookshelf is too cluttered, too dusty, too...out of control.

Then we have that day where we clear it off.
We re-organize, 
we decide what we maybe need to donate or re-shelve somewhere else.

At least, that's what I do. 

The pull to just buy more bookshelves is not as strong as it used to be.
I crave my space, my openness.
My availability.

So in these moments, with our bare bookshelf, we decide what still fits,
what we WANT to still fit and are willing to make room for.

--

Suddenly existing in a pandemic meant my bookshelf just got tipped over.
Suddenly the whole thing was empty,
and my books were all over the floor.

I let that shelf stay empty for awhile.

Over the course of months, I've started adding books back to it.
"Yoga" obviously is a pretty loud book.
"Being Outside Ever" was another one.
"Connecting with Friends and Family Somehow" pretty important.
"Finding ways to Perform my Humor" came back slowly.

My metaphorical bookshelf is starting to fill up again,
but differently this time.

These books are things I was able to pick from listening to my own self
and my own needs and cravings.

Not the things I did out of habit
or from just being too afraid to say 'no'
or what I thought other people would expect me to be doing.

--

The kicker, of course, is there is going to be a time where the bookshelf will need maintained again.

This cleaning and reorganizing never stops.

I think our challenge is to start clearing it as we feel a shift in the space that it is taking up. 

Rather than waiting until there's TOO much to de-clutter.

Happy Holidays!
Love,

Classy McG

PS. Most of my humor-performing is through my Minnie Driver's Many Mini Drivers sketch group and my Reels on my new yoga Instagram account.


Friday, January 24, 2020

Home to Ourselves

Hello, friends. It's taken me a couple of weeks to get my thoughts and words together on this one. It's definitely the result of lots of FEELINGS that came long before I had any words to explain them.

I don't claim they are GREAT words, or ALL the words I'll ever have, but it's a start. A long start, but a start nonetheless, lol.

--

As I listen to people talk about the new diet they're trying this time
and their new aggressive workout plans they're going to stick to,

as I start to understand the marketing of diets
and how their success rates are studied/reported
(very misleadingly, FYI),
I've started coming back to this thought:

Why do we study and agonize over what diets need of us
but do not even consider what our own bodies and minds need of us?

(I can't even count the times I've heard of starting diets because,
"Oh, that worked for so-and-so," or "This list of foods looks easy enough to get." etc etc)


We need to understand -- we are all so uniquely constructed,
we have very unique requirements for our healthiest being.
Biologically/physiologically/psychologically/culturally/socially


We cannot find our path to our truest, fullest, happiest self
by ONLY following external guidance and expectations.

By ONLY doing what other people have done to support their own uniqueness.

These answers MUST come from within.


But we are so far from ourselves

we don't even know who we are
when we aren't dieting,
or constantly working
or doing everything everyone else asks us to.

Doing ONLY what we think we are expected to do.

--

Now, if you really dig into giant institutions
like religion or capitalism or patriarchy or whatever,
there are some common threads.

They were pretty much all instigated by/supported by/endorsed by
whomever the most well-off people were at the time (dudes, ahem). 
Which, fine. 
They had access to resources, cool cool.

From there, though...

rules determining who is 'deserving/un-deserving'
of success and acceptance 
and entitlement and happiness 
bubble to the surface.

Who is moral/amoral, valid/invalid, worthy/unworthy?


It was decided

we NEED to label each other,
we have to sort everyone into good/bad,
successes/failures,
powerful/weak, etc etc.

I guess to know those things, 

we have to assign good and bad behaviors
to help us know our labels, yeah? 
Maybe not even behaviors, just, like, how someone looks,
or if they are also a man? OK, cool cool.

Religion even goes as far as trying to tell us
how our compliance to our predestined labels
WILL IMPACT US FOR ETERNITY.
Shit, man.

So.


These institutions work as hard as they can to detail these behaviors,
explaining 'good/correct' actions,
or by showing us these 'correct/valid' people via representations in media,

and they just happen to also graciously give us plenty of freedom
to judge the shit out of everyone else who's not playing along
and try to shame them into complying.

The majority of us,
the congregants and participants in these institutions,
we're so busy trying not to fail
that we often cannot see how much the most powerful of us
are just getting more powerful/rich from our fears of judgment, essentially.

We feed their machines,

they control the information that is relayed back to us,
(SOMETIMES CLAIMING THE INFORMATION IS LITERALLY FROM GOD),
they show us heavily curated glimmers of what we could be someday
as long as we follow the rules.

--

Now, you probably know where I'm going with this.

Diet culture is one of those institutions. 

Diet culture says, 

"Hey, here's what deserving bodies/accepted bodies look like,
and here's how you can achieve it.

Just surrender your money and your lives to our cause, and we'll help you."

And goddamn it if we don't go balls to the wall convinced they're right.

[Sidebar, 'dieting' ALSO kinda became a thing as an attempt to control women; if their food was restricted/they ate these specialty products, men thought they'd stay complacent. This idea invented by religious men who happened to also be the people who produced those specific food products. I don't think it was even about thinness, so cool on you, ever-shifting definitions of good bodies. These institutions are SO intertwined; it's ridiculous.]


--

In my yoga studies, in this particular mental state in my life,
I'm reading about this sense of Self.
What is Self? Who is Self? How is Self?

And I know we are not ourselves when we are dieting.
We are not ourselves 

when we just blindly accept what big institutions tell us we should be doing.

The day I realized that, I was just shocked.
The dieting version of me was not Real Me, 

that me that kept food journals
and cried about caving and eating the french fries
and declined invitations
where thought I might be tempted by all the foods I couldn't eat.

The me that is STILL avoiding LIVING my life
because I'm afraid of how I will be judged
for stopping dieting and gaining weight, etc etc.

The me that's now afraid I will be laughed at on airplanes,
the me that doesn't know how to dress myself well anymore.

The me that doesn't feel like she deserves to be a leader or a teacher.


It's not just dieting that really fucks up our sense of self.

Hell, we aren't even living our own authentic life
if we just insist on doing what our friends are doing
so we can say we did that cool thing, too.

Even if we just wanted to stay home.
Even if we didn't have the money to do it.


--

A big part of yoga philosophy is Self-Study.
Really digging into who we are,

and practicing those things that bring us closer to our most truthful being,
our most authentic self.

In our culture, though,

it's a radical act of courage to see what other people are doing and say,
"That's nice for you, but that's not my path."

To see a marketing pitch and say,
"Uh, no way that's for me."

And it's an even greater act of courage and compassion 

to see someone else's path
and recognize that it's THEIR path, not yours,
and finding peace with not following it or judging it.

[No FOMO, OK?!]


--

See, diets are so appealing, though,
because the path to success is very laid out,
easy to read
easy to follow.

Eat these rations of food/nutrients.

Do this amount of exercise.

Here, we'll even send you the food, don't worry about it.

It feels so much easier to default to hating ourselves

and just use these helpful guides to change ourselves.

Much easier than sitting with ourselves and really digging into what we need.
Digging into the truth of why we really are feeling badly about ourselves.

To assign the labels of 'valid' and 'worthy' and 'accepted' to ourselves

on our own terms.

To ask the hard questions,

to come accept the self that likes to be home
and not traveling
and not helping people sometimes
and eating food we like
and...resting.

Because...there's not a book for that, you know?

We can't send a link to a resource that says,
"This path/book/guide details the steps to MY SPECIFIC happiness!"


Because it looks different for everyone.

And those differences defy labels.

Defy the binary.
Defy expectations.

So, we just have to sit with ourselves and figure it out.
We have to figure out without the guidance of pre-determined actions and meals.


And gosh, sometimes that means* 
we are a little bigger than we want to be
and a little less active than we thought we needed to be
and the activity we DO want isn't these dreadful kickboxing classes
and our job is making us miserable
and we actually don't like our friends or family or spouse all that much
and we don't actually like going out drinking that much
or going out at all for that matter
and we don't want kids/actually want kids
and and and

And then it's up to us to proclaim

what will be our path,
what will be our guide.

To say 'yes' to our own Self.


To be our own guide to exist authentically as ourselves

in a world that wants us all in little molds.
In a world that wants us to constantly check in
to make sure we're doing everything the right way,
in a way that can be easily tracked/measured/Instagrammed.

--

Today, I offer to you two assignments:


1) Spend that time with yourself, really assessing how you are spending this existence and see if any of it is FOR yourself. What do you truly want in your heart of hearts?

2) Let other people have their path without feeling threatened by them.

--

At the crux of most philosophical/religious texts,

the message is the same:
Do no harm.

The trick is really recognizing what harmful acts truly look like.
They are a lot more subtle than we think.
And we need to include the harm we do to ourselves in this.

Because this existence is...good grief, just eat the french fries, you know?

Our lives aren't meant to be spent in this much pain over such stupid shit.

I think that's it, lol.

Love,
C McG

*The list of things we realize about ourselves is just a list of things that COULD come up in people; not things that have necessarily come up for me. Just in case anyone is getting ready to message me asking me a bunch of 'are you and hubby OK?' things, ha.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A More Joyful Way

[Intro Note: Here's me kicking off what will probably be my next 'phase' of writing topics for the blog. I go through these phases of writing about art and dieting and running and and and, and, so I guess, as I change, my blog content changes, too, so, uh, here we go, I guess!]

I've spent the better part of a year sitting with myself,

asking myself bigger questions.

Maybe not bigger questions,
but
more accurate questions.

I've taken the fullness of my activities
that keep me so busy,
and I've been asking myself "Why, though?"
to most of them.

What's the point?
What's your goal?

Why are you hanging onto this?

And the things that don't have clear answers,

or good enough answers,
or just don't make sense
started falling away.

Something that kept being a recurring part of my identity and energy
was either filling the role of "dieter" or "failure."

And I hit a breaking point,

just yelling "WHY THOUGGGHHHH" into the void.

--

This past year, something finally clicked.

It has clicked so loudly that I'm going to sound like
one of those people who has found religion
or atheism
or veganism
or keto
or paleo
or improv
or or or

and needs to share. this. with. the. world.

It finally dawned on me that dieting is a terrible way to spend my life.
Hating my body is a terrible way to spend my mental energy.
Desperately trying to change one very arbitrary part of my existence
is the most damaging thing I've ever done to myself.

I know I've talked about this in passing before,
but I'm to the point where I'm ready to YELL about it.
FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS ABOUT IT.

And it's gonna sound a lot like I'm going to try to make you join my cult.

--

I finally donated my scale
after not standing on it for a year.

While I'm very aware my body has gotten bigger,
I'm still living a very full life
and I still have people that love me.

All the things that I was afraid this fat body would lose.

The last piece of this puzzle (this very work-in-progress puzzle)

is finally accepting that it's OK
that I'm not meant to be a small person.
Mentally, emotionally, OR physically!

And that being 'skinny' is not actually...better.
It just..is...a body.
Just like my body is a body.


A body that is still loving me anyway,

despite the terrible things I've done to it.

And I need to fix this relationship so I can save it.


--

I've done a lot of reading this year that has pointed me to bigger research into what our bodies do for us, and how GREAT our bodies are at keeping us alive. That our attempts to manually force diets (food restriction) and over-exertion cause our bodies to panic. The same panic that helped us survive famines and other environmental crises in the past.

This is where our binging and weight gain and subsequent damaging psychological responses kick in. This is how we can still manage to be fat even when we're trying not to be. Our bodies know what is best for us. Our bodies will find our most safe, neutral state for us. But we have to just LET IT DO ITS JOB. And it's probably going to be a little fatter than you want it to be. And that is FINE.

Along the way, we have lost this trust in our own body, but we have trusted diet culture and marketing?


We listen to people who think they know what's 'best' for us, when really they are just being judgmental and dumping their own biases on us?

We feel like a failure because we feel hunger?

--


The more I read, and the more I really think about this stuff,
the angrier I am at myself.
For not accepting my body's function to keep me alive
at the weight that is SAFEST for my particular genetic makeup.

No wonder I'm binging and gaining weight back every chance I get.
My body is trying to save me.

The trick is figuring out how to really listen to its cries.


--

As we keep reading and studying and opening our minds,
and actually slowing down and listening,

we see that once we let our bodies just run the show,
once we tune in more to what our BODY might actually be asking of us,
rather than what DIET INDUSTRY is asking of us,
the more beautiful our existence can be.
The less we will obsess about food
because our body will finally understand we aren't in a famine.
Our body will understand that it is safe and OK.

So far,
the more I just exist and just do what I want to do
and eat what I want to eat
and rest when I want to rest,

the more joyful I am.

I can still be productive and loved.

In fact, I may even be MORE productive and loved
when I shift my focus from restriction and stress
to joy and creativity.

--

So, I think this writing today is just a warning.

A notification that I'm no longer interested in diets.
Ways we're restricting our lives to shrink our bodies.
Ways we're trying to overcompensate and abuse and shame ourselves by not letting our bodies be truly nourished,
and forcing ourselves to over-exercise to make up for our 'cheat days.'

A lot of resistence to non-dieting usually comes from assuming

we'll balloon into oblivion
if we just leave it up to our bodies to decide for us.

But again, that's not how bodies work.
We just have to stop, breathe, listen, and let our bodies do its job.

--

As we listen, we may realize sometimes 'hunger' is actually a response to trauma or other psychological circumstances where we feel like we can't fully express our emotions and find healing that way, so we turn to food for comfort and temporary problem-solving. Knowing this can also mean we may end up finding a coach/therapist, too! Huzzah! Tools to help us move forward with our lives!

Our body is always talking to us.

We need to listen.

Anyway, more specific ramblings to come...


Love,
C McG

PS. My main resources that you can join me in reading are: 'Health at Every Size' and 'Body Respect' by Linda Bacon, 'The Fuck It Diet' by Caroline Dooner, and I'm listening to Body Psych podcast with Christy Harrison (she has just published a new book, 'Anti-Diet', that I'm looking forward to meeting soon!).

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Things I Learned - 2019 Version

Hello, everyone! Long time no blog, I know!

It's funny that in my older age I'm learning how to process all of these FEELINGS in other ways than just rambling on my blog.

We watched a Michelle Wolf comedy special this weekend where she says that blogs are the conversations no one wanted to have with you, lol. FINE. I get it, I get it.

But this year was really eventful for me, physically, mentally, philosophically, etc etc etc. So I thought I'd just compile a list (in no particular order) of all the things that I learned from my time in 2019. And by "learned," I mean, "repeatedly got slapped over and over about and am finally starting to internalize as being important to remember and practice." Actual results still TBD on a lot of them:


1. There is so much value in doing nothing sometimes.

2. Quitting something but still investing mental energy in it is not really quitting. Don't kid yourself. Cut those ties.

3. Alcohol is not necessary to be liked/accepted and is actually very expensive when you start crunching numbers. Yikes.

4a. The more you keep fighting your body's natural way of functioning for you, the more miserable you will be. 
4b. Move your body how it WANTS to move. And if it wants to rest, let it rest.

5. Stop and consider WHY you've decided to do/believe something. Evalute stories you have been telling about yourself/the world. Everything starts neutral; it's our human baggage that assigns stories to everything, good/evil, helpful/harmful, etc. **This is my biggest 'just scratching the surface of the work I need to do' one right now.

6. Just research the thing yourself. Be mindful of the emotional labor you cause others. 

7a. Put even the 'maybe' events on your calendar to hold space for them. Always use your calendar. Even for the things you don't think you need on your calendar.
7b. Schedule some unstructured time for yourself if that's what it takes for you to make sure you have some unstructured time ever. Treat yourself like an important meeting.

8. You always THINK you are the best person for the job. You are...wrong about that a lot.

9. Your students trust your leadership. Trust yourself, too.

10. You can't prepare for literally every scenario. Be ready to throw your plans out the window. Meet your audience where they are. Don't blame them for not being open to your plans.

11. Everything takes longer than we think it will. Give yourself time/space to arrive to your destination safely.

12. Find a mentor, invest in a coach, go to therapy, find a support group. Get outside eyes looking at your life. They see the fullness of your journey more than your internal critic does.

13. Sometimes you have to throw some money at a nagging project/issue so you can move on.

--

My journey into 2020 so far is starting my 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training next. I'm in student mode at this point in my life, honing in on my passion (Yeah, I think I'm saying the 'passion' word!) to learn as much about teaching yoga to diverse bodies/populations as I can!

And creative writing is back on my radar again now that I can write yoga classes a little more quickly than when I started teaching back in May!

Thanks for still being here. The connections to our community are foundational in finding our own personal growth. Our community supports us every step of the way.

Love,

C McG




Monday, September 30, 2019

Expecting

NO, not the baby-related 'expecting,' stop it, haha!

Anyway, hello! It was a really busy summer. I'm not sure if I said this with my last post all the way back in June, but it's been...difficult to make art now that I have my yoga practice. A lot of my creative energy and time is spent reading and planning classes. Which is very FUN, and it IS very creative and art-y, but just not great blog fodder, you know?


This month I got to combine my art and yoga projects into a day-long retreat that I themed "Find Your Flow." There were two yoga classes, and two art-making sessions and a nice walk and lunch break in the middle. It was really fun to blend all my pastimes together and share that with my friends. 


[Image: My really fun basement studio set up for yoga practice.]

Anyway, to get to this particular post, I've been doing a lot of internal work again, like I do when I'm wearing myself out again.

A meme quote thing on the interweb that I saw last month just keeps sticking with me, so I know it's probably some magic key to my health and well-being, yeah:


[Image Text: Stop expecting YOU from people.]

In my day-to-day life, I feel really disappointed in people I care about a lot.

It doesn't feel great. But also know that I'm mad at myself most of all.

I'm doing a lot of work with myself to acknowledge and understand

that not everyone processes things like I do.

I have this very conflicting party happening in my brain all of the time.

I'm an Obliger -- This is the Tendency that tends to only act on things when they feel externally expected/obligated to, but rarely can ever get the motivation to meet their own internal expectations. OBLIGATIONS THAT WE SOMETIMES JUST INVENT OURSELVES, which is SUPER-hilarious.

I'm also an EN/ESFJ -- From my little bit of Myers-Briggs dabbling, we like structure and stability and efficiency in processes, and generally love helping people fix things and move on, AND I get my energy from being social. Oof.


(PS. I also just kinda hate myself a lot of the time, so external validation is worth WAY too much, which is probably its own other blog post and probably what the real problem is, ha.)

So, I perpetually get stuck in a loop where I am very diligent at task-completing and being open and social and communicative, AND my memory/note-keeping skills are pretty OK, so that means I get myself into lots of roles where I oversee things and want to help execute things really well because I can just juggle lots of things on my plate with relatively low effort.


But, when I'm IN the midst of that, no one else seems as communicative and open and diligent and ready to fix things as I am (because, shocker, no one is me), and then I start getting mad.

BUT, because of my people-pleasing social nature, just saying "no" is harder than just being mad and overworked. How can I have any value if I'm not helping? Who am I if I'm not helping? I am a garbage human if I'm not constantly out proving my worth to people.

A lot of the memes about this shit on the Internet say "Stop expecting so much from others, and then you will feel better." And that's...I think that's really unfair to the people I love. I want to expect great things from them because they are great people. That's why I love them so much.


But I also am starting to get better at understanding that their greatness just looks different than just being a tremendously social door mat.

What they offer in this world is different than what I offer, and that's great. We need everyone; we need all kinds of personalities to make things work. The world would probably be less lovely if everyone functioned exactly like me.

So. A work in progress, I guess, just like all things we practice.


I'm sure I post a version of this story about every 6 months or so, because it's a loop. I'll think I have it figured out, and then I fall back into old habits again.

I think what's different now is I'm getting better at catching it ahead of time, sensing it coming, and redirecting before the utter burnout.


My yoga practice is helping me stop and breathe and try to shine a light on all perspectives in a situation before I start melting down. It's helped me find a little more compassion for myself and others.

Really, I think the first step to any sort of change in this regard is recognizing that you have value all on your own. And that you deserve the same care that you give to others. 


If other people can't provide that, what's the saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself."? Treat your self-preservation and love as another priority on your to-do list; you are the one that knows what you need.

Love,
Classy McG