What we do here:

Work on our stuff. Dissolve stuck. Play. Experiment. Rewrite patterns. We take sometimes-heavy things* and we make them more fun, playful, manageable.

I also write about my conversations with walls and monsters, and what it's like to work on a pirate ship. Good times.

* Sometimes-heavy things include: mindfulness and presence, pain and trauma, business-growing, that problematic word which rhymes with flaweductivity

 

Category Archives: my personal practice

Wish 277: join the resistance!


very personal adsPersonal ads. They’re … personal! Very.

I write a Very Personal Ad each week to practice wanting, and get clarity about my desires. The point isn’t getting my wish (though cool things have emerged from wishing), the point is learning about my relationship with what I want, and accessing the qualities. Wanting can be hard, it is easy to feel conflicted about it, and the reasons for that make this a surprisingly subversive practice…

EDIT! A thing I want to say first.

{It occurred to me somewhat belatedly that this post might attract different eyes than some of our other weekly wishes, so I’m glowing warmth to anyone visiting. If you are drawn to comment, take a look at the section at the very end on how we do things here, because this is a pretty unique (and wonderfully safe) space, and you can help us keep it that way. Thank you!}

Weightiness.

I find the entire concept of “weight” to be problematic (ha, understatement!) in every possible way.

For one thing, it isn’t actually real. At least not in any meaningful way.

Except we live in this painfully distorted culture in which everyone has been duped into believing it is.

People walk around thinking they need to “lose” weight, or, for that matter, do anything related to weight. Somehow we’ve been brainwashed into thinking how high or low a number is on a scale or a chart is an actual thing that translates to how you look or feel or are in your body.

Otherwise wise and intelligent people pay attention to these numbers, and some even care about even more invisible and not-real things, like calories, and “burning” them, and yes, the whole world is batshit psycho crazy, as far as I’m concerned.

I keep myself as far away as possible from that entire mindset. I don’t even want to breathe the same air.

What does that look like?

When people start talking about weight loss, I exit the conversation.

If a dance instructor says ohmygod I ate a calzone and now we have to work hard, I fill my heart with love for her and wish her all the support she needs healing her disordered eating, and I never take a class from her again, because I’m not interested in sharing my space with that kind of poisonous thinking.

I don’t read magazines. I don’t step on scales or frequent places where that’s an option. I have effectively removed myself from a world where the mindset of weight lives.

You might be wondering why I go to all this effort, if I’m so clear on what I believe, and I’ll get to that. For now, all I want to say it that I keep my life beautifully peaceful through conscious choices that keep the broader culture from filtering into my life.

Something about me.

I’m a thin, lean person. That’s partly genetics, and partly because I am a person who likes body things, I’m a kinesthetic learner, happiest in gazelle state.

And it’s partly because I have PTSD. I need plenty of movement on a regular basis — ideally a combination of high impact jumping and bouncing with more steady things (yoga, dancing, long walks) — to keep me calm and stable.

I like being able to more or less pass as a functioning person on most days, so I move my body a lot.

Being thin means I have an insane amount of magic beans in the flavor of body privilege. I could easily drop a few thousand words just naming examples of how that plays out in my life, so here are just a few

Just some of the crap I don’t deal with as a thin person:

  • When I take an aerobics class, for example, no one does anything to imply that I don’t belong.
  • No one condescends to me by acting as if there’s something amazing and special about me doing a physical activity, way to go!
  • No one implies (or states) that I might not be able to do a particular activity.
  • No one comments on my body at all in that kind of environment. The magic beans of that, my god. The buffer of sweet invisibility that this gives me.
  • When the instructor thinks it would be fun to do a bunch of crunches, and I don’t think that would be fun at all so I recline on the floor and stretch instead, no one comments on this. And if they did, it wouldn’t be due to judgments based on my appearance.
  • If I go into a store and try on clothing designed for working out, there will be a plentiful selection of options in my size because work-out clothing is made for people who look like me. I will not have to ask for other sizes, which may not even exist. The people who work there will look like me. No one will make assumptions about me or my “fitness level”.
  • When I am involved in any situation involving physical activity, I don’t need to wonder whether or not interactions with others are negatively influenced by my size.
  • I can eat whatever I want, in public, and no one feels the need to share an opinion on it.

That’s just the beginning…

I could add to this list this all day and still neglect to mention ten thousand more injustices that I don’t suffer, or might not even know about, because the magic beans of privilege blind me to the daily aggressions that I don’t encounter.

To me, in a lot of ways, the magic beans of being thin (and especially thin-but-not-skinny, since skinny people also have deal with a ton of crap, albeit without the systematic cultural oppression directed against the fat) mean one main thing:

I don’t need to brace myself against what someone might say in any moment about my body.

I mean, sure, of course as a woman I deal with the appalling (and often terrifying) street harassment that all women get.

What I don’t experience though is criticism of my body, or unsolicited opinions about what completely uninformed strangers (who know nothing about my body and don’t live in my body) think I should be doing to change it.

A story.

While my build is long and lean, if you were to weigh me, you’d discover that I happen to weigh a LOT of pounds. Many, many more than anyone has guessed from looking at me.

Last time I went to see a doctor, she walked in, looking at my chart and not at me, and said, “Hmmm things look good except your weight is pretty high for your height.”

Then she looked at me, and her jaw dropped.

And because I happen to have these magic beans of body privilege, this wasn’t a trigger for me, or yet another traumatic experience of being told I should be thinner than I am, by someone in a position of authority.

Because I am thin, I don’t have to fight with doctors who diagnose me based on my size, are unfamiliar with the principles of Health At Every Size, and prescribe weight loss as the solution to totally unrelated health concerns. I don’t have to defend myself, I don’t have to argue the subtleties of this.

So the incident ended there, with my doctor feeling embarrassed. Except….

Let’s talk about that for a minute.

An actual doctor, intelligent and well-educated, someone who should have the common sense, never mind the scientific background, to understand that BMI is absurd to the point that it would be hilarious if it weren’t so dangerous, was able to think she could tell me something relevant about my body based on some numbers.

Those numbers are misleading.

Because I’m solid muscle. And also: boobs. And also because weight is a meaningless construct that has no use, value, or relevance to appearance. I weigh a lot of pounds? Great. That doesn’t actually tell you anything about my body.

I get the surprise. I mean, everyone is surprised. You should see the face of every single person who has tried to lift me.

When I travel, people look at my driver’s license and say, “Oh wow someone lost a lot of weight!” Nope, just a thin person who has mass.

The numbers are misleading, not real, and yet we base our sense of self-worth on how high or low they are. My world is overflowing with people who think they just need to lose five or ten pounds and then everything will be better. There’s no reason that it should be increments of five either, that’s part of the built-in madness too.

I mean, I was that person for years. Except it was in Israel, so it was five kilos, which is actually more like twelve pounds. That was the first little jolt that cued me into realizing these numbers are pretty damn arbitrary.

We just glom onto them out of the misguided thought that these often completely invisible units are somehow related to our ability to be worthy of love, to belong in our bodies, to be safe in this world.

Numbers for what.

I’ve asked everyone I know who works in the medical profession, and no one has given me a straight answer for why we get measured, like cattle, when we go to a doctor. Why do they need our height and weight?

One friend suggested it could be for prescribing the correct dosage of medication, but even he seemed to think this was an exceptionally weak argument, and not relevant in most situations.

Here’s what I think. I think it’s a COMPLIANCE MANEUVER.

Have you ever called a phone company or the cable company, ready to vent your frustration at all ways they’ve messed up? The first thing they do is start asking you verification questions, the account number, the number on the back of the last bill, your mother’s maiden name, whatever.

The purpose of this is to establish that they are the askers of the questions, and your job is to comply and answer. It puts them in charge of the conversation. A pretty good power move, interrupting someone’s plans to yell at you, and getting them to respond on command. I’d do it too if I were in charge of providing customer service.

Putting us on a scale, marking down our weight and height is a compliance maneuver: We are the ones in charge of this interaction.

It isn’t about numbers at all.

This is where people who haven’t taken the red pill like to argue that some people really do need to lose or gain weight for health.

And this is where the culture of distortions wins, by convincing us that numbers matter, that gaining or losing numbers is the thing that impacts the well-being of the person involved.

When I was in university and not getting exercises, I was much larger than I am now and the clothing I wore was much larger than I wear now, but me-now weighs the same number of pounds as me-then.

How stupid and depressing would it have been to focus on making a number go down, it never would have happened!

Sure, we can imagine an extreme situation where someone’s size is preventing them from functioning, and they could find it beneficial to reduce mass for increased mobility. That still isn’t a reason to measure the before and after numbers though, because People Vary.

Or, at the other end of the spectrum, when my mother was dying, everyone was freaking out because she weighed 102 pounds, and was wasting away. They said she had to gain weight, but what they really meant was something more like, we need you well-nourished, sweetie, so you can have more strength to cope with what is happening.

The numbers are where the distortions are, where the distractions are.

I didn’t know what I weighed for ten years.

It was blissful.

I learned a great line once, I think it was from Ealasaid:

“Oh, I don’t get weighed!”

You say this at the doctor’s office, or a variation of this: “I skip the measuring part and just go in to see the doctor”. You say this with a smile and with conviction.

Except the last time I went to the doctor I was feeling anxious about a thing, and I didn’t want to come in tense, and the nurse looked like the kind of person who was going to fight me on this, and I just thought, whatever, I don’t have to look at the number, I’ll just comply.

And then the doctor said the number out loud, and it was on the printout she gave me. It was alarming, even for someone who already knew she weighs a lot of pounds, even though it shouldn’t negate my lived experience in this body.

The truth is, I like my magic beans. I enjoy the societal perks that come from the genetic luck of the draw, combined with more genetic luck which is that my body reacts speedily to exercise, something not true for many people. I like perceiving that I am slender, even as I know in my head and in my heart that THE NUMBERS AREN’T REAL.

Even as I know TRUTH: My body could look a lot of different ways in a lot of different circumstances, and it would still be an honor to care for it, treasure it, glow love for this container that houses me.

Meaningless and yet….

As Agent Annabelle and I have discussed many times, WE FEEL CRAPPY WHEN WE KNOW THE NUMBER.

Why is that, when we know that it is meaningless?

Here’s my theory. It has to do with the water we swim in, the air we breathe. How am I supposed to remember that the obsession with weight (loss or gain) is just cultural mindfuckery if I swim in the water of everyone who believes in it?

For ten years, I didn’t know the number and I didn’t give a thought to it. My body is my body, it’s the amazing place where I live, home to my beautiful lungs that breathe each thank-you in my thank-you heart.

Suddenly I knew the number and things changed.

My monsters started saying things like, “Really? Do you really want to eat another spoonful of peanut butter? You weigh ALL THOSE POUNDS, what if it starts showing on you?”

Suddenly I felt anxious when my jeans came out of the dryer a little tighter than before. All the self-critical thoughts I hadn’t been thinking came flooding back in.

I started second-guessing everything. I was buying a dress online, and there were reviews from women my height who weigh thirty pounds less than me, at least, saying the small/medium is too tight and to order up. So I did and it was enormous on me, because NUMBERS ARE NOT RELATED TO HOW BODIES ACTUALLY LOOK, because this poisonous way of being gets into your head.

The number isn’t real. The impact on how you look and feel isn’t real. None of it is real. And yet we comply. We play along. We say, oh sure put me on this scale like an object, even though you have no medical reason to require this information.

What do I want?

I’m going in for a physical (Operation Lacy Hips, best anagram ever) this week, and I want to be calm, bold and steady in my refusal to get weighed.

I want this to be simple, easy and clear. Wearing my crown. Glowing boldly.

And I want company. I want everyone I know to JOIN THE RESISTANCE, and stop agreeing to this narishkeit. I want allies everywhere so that instead of trying to build my own tiny fishbowl, we are all changing the ocean, together.

What is this wish about?

This wish, like all the wishes, is about living my life in a way that is congruent and harmonious with what I believe.

It’s a commitment to Radical Sovereignty, and staying connected to truth-love.

It is about treasuring my body, my mind, my body-mind. About creating experiences of safety for myself.

It is about subverting the larger culture, with love, and with conviction. Not alone, but in companionship.

Ways this could work.

I’m doing it. Join me. In any way you can.

I would love it if we could all warmly, sweetly, lovingly refuse to get measured. All of us, regardless of magic beans. I also recognize that this is asking more than is possible for a lot of people, and we’re all dealing with different stuff in our lives. Safety first, always.

So what I will ask instead is that we share in subversive knowing, and act on that in whatever ways we can right now.

I would love for people to share this post, share these ideas, go to the doctor knowing that this is an option, whether you use it or not. I want us to walk around with clear eyes of truth-love: my body is legitimate, my process is legitimate, these measurements do not actually tell me anything.

Let’s breathe truth-love.

Let’s join the resistance. Like a sit-in, but with tiny sparks the whole world over.

This is everyone’s issue. For the people who face size discrimination or the people who don’t, we are all harmed by the culture of distortion.

This wish is about not agreeing to a culture of distortion. It’s about everything we can do to undo those distortions, and bring in a new culture of presence, awareness and compassion.

Me: Hey, slightly-wiser me, what do you have for me?

She: This is a beautiful continuation of past wishes. For example, the wish to glow boldly. And to trust my yes and trust my no, and act on that trust immediately.
Me: Huh, I hadn’t thought of it that way.
She: Hold onto truth-love. This is about seeing yourself with eyes of truth-love, and nothing is more important than that, so do what you have to do to support that.
Me: Thank you.

Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.

So. Last week, aka 5MX…

5MX was a very good wish, both conceptually and in practice. Sometimes just remembering it was an option was helpful, even if I didn’t do it.

Love more. Trust more. Release more. Receive more. Thank you, writing. Thank you, me who asked.

Attenzione! Attention, AGENTS.

I wish to whisper a whisper about the Monster Manual! It comes paired with the world’s best coloring book, which does so much monster-dissolving magic that even if you wait to try the techniques, you’ll still feel better about everything.

Self-fluency is hard enough, we need ways to to interact with the thoughts-fear-worry-criticism that shuts down creative exploring. And when people get the manual, I am able to me spend more time writing here. So if you don’t need help with monsters, get one for a friend. Or plant a wish that someone gets it for you! And bring people you like to hang out here. The more of us working on our stuff, the better for all of us. ♡

Keep me company?

Commenting culture: This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on permanent vacation from care-taking and advice-giving.

We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We take ownership for our stuff.

This particular topic is a loaded one, for many people. We tread gently with ourselves and with each other. This isn’t a place for fighting, it’s a place for taking care of ourselves with love and with patience. I know the rest of the internet sometimes seems like it’s for playing bumper cars, this space is more like a quiet studio with candles lit where you can do some old turkish lady yoga and rest and breathe. Sometimes yoga and internal processing stirs up big stuff, and we breathe, and give it permission to be whatever it is.

You can share warmth, support, sparks sparked for you, and of course, feel free to deposit your own wishes. In any size/form you like, there’s no right way. Updates on past experiments are welcome too, as is anything sparked for you.

We are here to play and throw things in the pot! With amnesty. Leave a wish any time you want.

Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.

xox

Wish 276: 5MX


very personal adsPersonal ads. They’re … personal! Very.

I write a Very Personal Ad each week to practice wanting, and get clarity about my desires. The point isn’t getting my wish (though cool things have emerged from wishing), the point is learning about my relationship with what I want, and accessing the qualities. Wanting can be hard, it is easy to feel conflicted about it, and the reasons for that make this a surprisingly subversive practice…

One question, many forms.

Lately whenever I do stone skipping, I have been asking questions that are really all variations on the same question:

What enhances my ability to experience my own light? And what diminishes that ability?

Sometimes I phrase this question in other ways…

The same answer.

It is hilarious (to me!) that I keep asking what is obviously the same question, and I get the exact same answer each time…

What emerges, no matter how I phrase the question, is an identical list of the choices and activities that are good for me, things that fall into the category of DO MORE OF THIS, PLEASE. And then a list of things I would do well to avoid (cough, facebook) if I want to function at my best in this world.

I get clear intel, and then a week later I ask again, and I get the same clear intel, and then I ask again.

Not sure if it’s because I forget, or I need to hear it again, or maybe I think something will change, or maybe this is just part of the process of learning how to take care of myself.

I know what I want.

I know what I want. I know what I need. I know what works.

It’s super clear.

And there is a gap between what I know and what I choose. This is okay. It’s part of the voyage. Like in the line from my favorite sea chantey:

The anchors are weighed / the sails they are set

We are setting sail.

And by anchors I mean presence, and by sails I mean intentions.

Five minutes of X.

Many of the things that are on the list of YES are things I can be doing right now, just not always in large quantities because time does not currently permit.

Actually, time always permits. Or at least in theory. There are previous commitments I’ve made that mean I’m currently making other choices towards other things, and, again, that’s okay too.

What I find interesting is this:

Yeah, okay, I might not have two hours for long, slow, sweet yoga on the floor. For sure I have five minutes though.

Maybe I can’t make a massage happen right now. I could still take five beautiful minutes and rub my feet, or roll things out with the foam roller, or just let my body sink into the floor.

Five minutes are there. Five minutes to do a gazelle thing, five minutes to breathe, five minutes to talk to my heart, five minutes to say thank you.

Five minutes of anything on the list of things that are good for Havi Bell.

What if.

Sam and I have been calling this 5MX. It stands for Five Minutes Of X.

Let X = anything that would be helpful and supportive for me, anything related to how I want to live.

His 5MX sometimes includes things that are not appealing to me. Like pull-ups. My 5MX is often just closing my eyes or staring at the wall.

It helps.

And then I forget again that this is a thing I can do. I find myself feeling frustrated about my desire for the experiences that would be good for me if only I had time.

The truth is, I really do have time for most of them right now if I go with the five minute version. Or even if I can’t have the thing I want, five minutes of something that’s like the thing I want.

While I can’t go to the ocean for five minutes, I can connect to some of the qualities of ocean. And I can look at pictures of the ocean or remember the ocean or watch a surfing video or close my eyes and channel Beach Day me.

I want more 5MX in my life.

Not once or twice a day. All the time.

I want so much 5MX that I can’t forget the reason for the voyage. I want constant reminders of what is important.

What else would I like?

Partners and playmates. People in my life that want to play with this so that at any given moment, I know my friends are also 5MX-ing along with me, even if not at the same time.

Anything else related to this?

I don’t want to think of this as a chore. I want to think of this as a delight.

Like a tryst.

Checking in. How am I doing?

So very tired.

It’s partly the travel, and partly the burnout, and partly having just been through my mother’s funeral. Also today would have been my mother’s 70th birthday. So. And also I got vaccinated for the flu, and apparently HSPs and vaccinations is a complicated combination, because it’s been over 48 hours, and I have barely been able to get off the couch.

What helps with tired? Permission. Rest. Remembering that tired is always legitimate.

Whether or not I remember why.

What do I really want?

Same as the past few weeks. To trust my instincts more. To trust my yes and trust my no, and act on that trust immediately.

Me: Hey, slightly-wiser me, what do you have for me?

She: 5MX is a great idea. And even 2MX. Honestly even thirty seconds is enough to lovingly interrupt an unconscious pattern, and really, that’s what this is about. This is the entire basis of all of your work: the sweet, loving, compassionate interruption of patterns and habits that aren’t working.
Me: You are right, that is the basis of this work.
She: So every time the monsters say that this is taking you away from your Very Important Work and from being of service in the world, let’s remind them that actually this is the work.
Me: This is the work. This is the work. I need to remember that.
She: You know how the monsters basically have two primary doom modes lately? It’s either You’re Wasting Time (Doom!), or This Is The Beginning of the End (Doom!)? Let’s use 5MX to interrupt that.

Clues?

It is the month of trusting the voyage, and it is on the calendar, and here I am, on a voyage. Also, I am getting strong intel that I need to visit the Vicarage soon. So yes. Trust the voyage.

Also I met someone whose nickname is the last name of my favorite cover identity. Clue!

The superpower of trusting the voyage.

October-2014-Embarking
Last month on the calendar was the month of receiving, and gracefully receiving gifts. Gracefully receiving my gifts.

Now we’re in the month of Embarking, with the superpower of trusting the voyage.

So here we are. This is me trying to find my way into a life where I am much, much, much more true to my internal knowing than I have ever dared to even try before. It requires new levels of trust.

Ongoing wishes.

Seeds planted without explanation, a mix of secret agent code and silent retreat. Things to play with someday.
  • Everything is easier than I thought, and look, miracles everywhere.
  • I have the best time dancing in my ballroom.
  • This doesn’t require my input!
  • Ha, it’s so perfect that it turned out like this. Past me is a GENIUS
  • I have what I need, and I appreciate it. There are resources to do this.
  • Trust and steadiness. I can see why this moment is good.
  • I am fearless and confident. I do the brave things, I state my preferences clearly, calmly and easily, and it is not even a big deal, yay.
  • I am ready to come into my superpowers, including the superpowers of knowing that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, I Am Okay With Being Seen, receiving gifts that are winging their way to me. See also: The superpower of Everything Enhances My Superpowers. And adds panache.

Things I find helpful when it comes to wishes…

Set the intention. Nap on it. Dance it, write it, play with it, walk the labyrinth. Take lots of notes. Take deeper breaths, getting quieter and quieter until I hear what is true.

More sweet pauses, yes to the red lights, remember the purple pills, say thank you to the broken pots. Permission. Bright colors. Passion. Costume changes. Stone skipping with incoming me. Dance. Intensity. Writing. Lipstick. My body gets the deciding vote. And, as always, saying thank you in advance.

Give it to the compass: Eight directions, eight qualities, eight breaths.

Trust. Release. Love. Receive. Anchor. Crown. Glow. Boldly.

Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.

So. Last week, aka SMOPL IT…

I still haven’t figured out how exactly I want to SMOPL (Something Meaningful On a Personal Level) the grieving process. I’ve gotten some good clues though, and tried some experiments.

I’ve been wearing my mother’s necklaces. My friend Patrick bought me the DVD of The Tango Lesson, so I can watch her favorite movie, and that was super sweet.

I’ve been eating soup, taking things slow, doing things my own way, and this is good.

Love more. Trust more. Release more. Receive more. Thank you, writing. Thank you, me who asked.

Attenzione! Attention, AGENTS.

I wish to whisper a whisper about the Monster Manual! It comes paired with the world’s best coloring book, which does so much monster-dissolving magic that even if you wait to try the techniques, you’ll still feel better about everything.

Self-fluency is hard enough, we need ways to to interact with the thoughts-fear-worry-criticism that shuts down creative exploring. And when people get the manual, I am able to me spend more time writing here. So if you don’t need help with monsters, get one for a friend. Or plant a wish that someone gets it for you! And bring people you like to hang out here. The more of us working on our stuff, the better for all of us. ♡

Keep me company?

Consider this an open invitation to deposit wishes, gwishes, personal ads. In any size/form you like, there’s no right way. Updates on past experiments are welcome too, as is anything sparked for you.

Commenting culture: This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on permanent vacation from care-taking and advice-giving. We are here to play and throw things in the pot! With amnesty. Leave a wish any time you want.

Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.

xox