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Beating Kevin

Monday, October 19, 2015

Leaning in

I survived the High Holidays! With a little bit of distance and reflection I can say that there was something different this year.  There was an dynamic energy in the room, a rhythm, a different vibe. Even my own prayers were more deeply expressed and felt. 

With my 30th birthday falling out on Yom Kippur, I would have expected the opposite. Fasting is enough to bring your energy down, but celebrating a birthday without cake or the usual fan fare can get you depressed.  As I've expressed before in this blog, this birthday also comes with tension. These big milestones cause us to not only celebrate, but also to grieve years behind us we will never be able to revisit and ask big questions. This tension really challenged me to do a deeper cheshbon hanefesh, soul searching. Elul, the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah, we are charged with confronting the decisions we have made. Couple that with another decade behind me and my cheshbon hanefesh was in full force, asking: What have I accomplished? Who have I become? What do I want the future to look like? I was living the tension, breathing it and running full force into it.

Coincidentally or not coincidentally,  I am also at my lowest weight (not just because of the fast, ladies and gentlemen!) This got me wondering, what is the relationship (if there is any) between "leaning in" (thank you Sheryl Sandberg) instead of ignoring tension and success at the scale?

This question really gets at how we deal with hard emotions in general: panic, anxiety, frustration, disappointment and boredom.You know what I'm talking about. Let's pretend you just wrote an entire blog entry (ahem) and it got lost (ahem) twice... (ahem), and you instinctively pop a brownie in your mouth without even realizing it. I can remember preparing for a big presentation the night before and getting so worked up that I began rummaging through my pantry and consumed the remains of a delicious eggy Zomicks Challah. Mmmmm..... Sweet sweet pillowy challah. Focus. This quick mindless snack soothes, distracts, and allows us to momentarily get our minds off of what is causing us tension. The issue is that we are left with the same problem after we're done chewing and we're making it harder for ourselves to control our eating.
So, what do you do? Lately I have been naming the emotion, literally saying out loud, "I am panicked because..." Naming the feeling doesn't remove the pain but it does allow it to settle with less frenzy.

I think of it like Adam in Genesis 2.  God needed a gardener and a zoo keeper for Eden so God makes Adam. What is Adam's first task? He names the animals. Naming something gives you some ownership over it, not to subdue it like Bereishit 1, but to be able to interact with it and call it to you. You become its master. Call the tension towards you instead of dodging it.

Weight loss is not only about food management and exercise. It's about the inner world of the individual. I know how many points are in a bagel. I don't need my meeting leader or friends for that. But each week, new challenges are sent my way and each week I need new inspiration, a different perspective, and refreshed commitment to help navigate the tension in my inner and outer life. Sometimes, when we lean into the tension, call it to us and don't let it wander our way, we not only feel more in control, but we feel more satisfied and we're willing to challenge ourselves and grow. 

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