Archives

All posts for the month January, 2014

Grace

Published January 30, 2014 by Crystal

I’m wondering how to word this. I’m struggling to put how I’m feeling. But it’s good! And it’s been a slow time burning.
I first met God when I was 11, at a Cheltenham YFC event. And it was amazing. I had felt so alone as a child, and this turned around with meeting some wonderful people, and discovering a faith where someone believed in me and wanted to be there for me. I then joined a youth group, and started going to church. At 13 I was baptised, and I continued going to church, and got involved with a lot. After my A Levels I went to work with a charity called Careforce, and became a youth leader for a year, and decided to continue that after.
For some reason I never felt I truly fit in to the churches I went to. Things weren’t easy at home as a young person, and maybe it was hard for the church elders to find a place for me, or give me the support I needed.
When I had my children I went to church and believed it the place to be. But I left when a situation occurred and I felt let down and isolated. Depression had struck and the church I was attending could or would not support me.
It was at this time, about 65 years ago I discovered paganism. A beautiful way to express a faith in the Divine, without the constraints of a man run church, with their ideals and expectations. I loved that I could worship in my way, that I could embrace the creator in all aspects of creation, and discovered much about myself. It amazed me that here were healers, and givers of love and light, that one or two of the churches I had attended had warned me against. There is a lot of confusion and mistrust in the church around healers and seers. A misguided (I believe) belief that their power come from the devil to misguide mere mortals into the way of darkness.
I learnt that God shows himself through so many other paths of faith, and I realised that there really are many paths to a life with God/Goddess/Divine. One thing I truly loved on my personal path of paganism was the feminine aspects of God. It is something that I felt I had missed. The mother heart of God. The loving, nurturing kindness of the feminine. And I embraced this ability to connect with this aspect.

There were aspects I couldn’t get to grips with. Spellcasting was something I tried, admittedly halfheartedly. The rituals I experienced were wonderful, but full of rules to me. I was used to praying, sending up my wishes and intentions up that way, and I appreciated the simplicity of prayer.

I became a Reiki practitioner. But as time went on, I came to the belief that it’s no different to the healing that goes on in churches throughout the world. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s from God/Creator/Divine.

The last year something changed. I realised more and more, that for all the issues with people in the church, there is a truly beautiful thing that occurs when people come together to serve and worship. It’s not about witnessing and convincing others to adhere to our belief system. It’s not about the Bible being 100% accurate. It’s about a shared faith in a God and creator, and wanting to give that God honour and praise and thanks, and also to know there is someone there helping in our darkest hour.

The last six years have also taught me about my expectations of others. Personal issues and realisations have brought me to a place where I understand people are so very full of flaws, and they’re doing the best they can at any given time, even if it looks to us like they really aren’t trying at all.
And I won’t get on with everyone, but I can love people where they are, even if I don’t much like them.

So I come to the crux of this post, and the changes I’ve felt in this last year. I realised I was missing something. The very, very personal relationship that I’d found when I met Jesus 22 years ago. The faith that he was walking next to me day by day. A God found in all of creation was great, but somehow he’d become distant.
And as happens sometimes, synchronicities started to stir. The message from a distant friend, the story shared by a college friend, the turning on of a certain channel at a specific moment and hearing something that spoke to me. I started to feel very much called back to a relationship I had missed for many years. And two days ago during a quiet time at home, I felt something. It’s not something I can put into words at this time, or even want to. But I feel that it was Grace. A calling home. The message that even with all my flaws I’m loved and valued. And a closeness again. Yesterday I walked miles and miles listening to worship songs I hadn’t touched in years. It was honestly the easiest 9 miles I think I have ever done!

But I am so grateful to God who let me wander off on my path and discover a new world, and new experiences. I have made some absolutely amazing friends, all with loving, giving hearts, who are wanting to serve others with love and kindness. I have learnt truly that faith should not divide us. We don’t need to be insular and stick to our own crowds for fear of disappointing God. We all have our own paths on this earth and in this lifetime. And I hope to keep those friends I’ve discovered, because they’re great, and in themselves are a gift from God, and have opened my eyes to a broader world, where we are all showing love in some way or other.

(So to you, you know who you are, yes, I guess you could now call me a Jesus loving, sandal wearing fecking vegan hippy! ūüėÄ And I love it!)

Advertisements

Diets don’t work, we do.

Published January 16, 2014 by Crystal

After reading yet another blog about how diets don’t work, and how the success rates are pitifully low, and that most people end up fatter than they were to begin with, and those successful people probably weren’t fat anyway, and quite frankly feeling utterly deflated, I felt compelled to write.

I used to be encouraged by that sort of article. ¬†It wasn’t me failing the diet, it was the diet failing me. ¬†Putting expectations and ideals upon me, that were humanly impossible. ¬†Every time I lost, the inevitable gain would follow, and I would be bigger each time.

Because I was pinning all my hopes onto a diet to permanently change me.  I was hoping for the miracle weight loss maintenance.  Suddenly I would no longer desire all the fattening food.  I would forever live on lettuce and jacket potatoes.  Because I would want to.  Because being slim was such a wonderful thing, and the diet was so easy.

Stepping off the dieting treadmill, I learnt some valuable things. ¬†Self love and self worth, for instance, are far bigger motivators than any diet guru. ¬† “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” is a great big ball of crap. ¬†A bottle of red wine and a big bowl of chips taste far better than skinny feels, when you’ve had a crap day and want to unwind. ¬†But food doesn’t heal the crap day, or remove the feelings weighing me down. ¬†Acknowledging the feelings, ¬†wondering about the feelings, and doing practical things to deal with them, is far far more effective than food. ¬†It’s something I’m still working on, like when my house becomes such an overwhelming mess, making small steps to tidy the areas I can is far more effective than sitting and wallowing. ¬†(Even getting up and going for a work can work its magic, at least I’m away from the house, and moving, it’s a win win).

But I am a work in progress, until the day I die, and the things I haven’t grasped from stepping off the dieting treadmill, is eating to satisfaction and stopping, and being able to really tune in to my hunger.

Part of me is aware it’s because it takes a lot of effort, and I’m not willing to put that effort in at the moment.

So I feel I’ve found a happy medium. ¬†Using a weight loss class, following their plan, eating all the foods I absolutely love, but leaving them to work out my portion control. ¬†And it’s fine for me. ¬†I’m not living in hope that all the empty diet promises are real. ¬†My life won’t be miraculously wonderful when I’m slimmer. ¬†I’ll be more comfortable. ¬†I’ll hopefully have improved fitness as I continue to move my body in ways I like. ¬†I will be able to buy clothes off the peg more easily. ¬†But my relationship with my children won’t miraculously improve, they won’t love me any more than they do now because I look different. ¬†I won’t suddenly get a top paid job. etc etc.

The problem I am now having with these “Diets don’t work” articles, is that they can lead to a feeling of hopelessness for those of us who’ve tried dieting and tried not dieting and still want to lose weight. ¬†I need to lose weight. ¬†For me. ¬†Not for anyone else. ¬†Not because society is telling me to, or my dr has recommended it. ¬†It is for me!

But it is very true. ¬†Diets DO NO WORK. ¬†We are the ones who choose where to put our efforts and energies in life. ¬†We are the ones who place value and importance on our decisions in life. ¬†And they can change daily. ¬†But that doesn’t make anything helpless or hopeless. ¬† And we have the power to decide on the best choices for us.

Finally they’re getting it! Obesity won’t be solved by telling us to eat less

Published January 13, 2014 by Crystal

I felt a little bit encouraged today when I watched the BBC Breakfast News.

Doctor Rosemary Leonard is a woman who, to me, is speaking sense. ¬†Finally a doctor is saying that obesity won’t be solved simply by telling a fat person to eat less and move more. ¬†Finally a doctor, on national television, is saying that there are psychological issues involved, and that these need to be addressed when looking at the obesity “crisis”, and she went so far as to say that maybe many cases should be looked at as Eating Disorders.

This, in my opinion, is a huge step forward in the fight against the stigma of obesity.  Maybe, finally, the medical profession are starting to realise the very complex issues surrounding obesity.

Even on the support forums for the people with more than 5 stone to lose, there are the contributors who’ll be saying to others “You really need to eat less and move more, it really is that simple!” ¬†and it saddens me. ¬†These people who have managed to lose weight, have forgotten the very real and damaging psychological issues that they endured when food was so much more than just fuel. ¬†When it brought comfort, and hope, and a silencer to the misery. ¬†And it’s easy to forget how hard things were when you feel a little more control of your world, when food isn’t consuming your thoughts.

But I sincerely hope, even as I follow a weight loss plan to some extent, that I don’t forget the misery I have felt when I have been out of control around food. ¬†When chips brought more joy than a whole day had given. ¬†When pizza, even with the tummy cramps after, was more satisfying than the other events of an evening.

There is too much stigma around obesity, and the last thing we need is newly thin people ruling it over us because they’ve “got it together”!

New Year’s Resolutions? It’s up to you.

Published January 1, 2014 by Crystal

For me, the blank page of a New Year is a beautiful thing.  No, nothing often significantly changes in those moments from the previous December 31st, to the new January 1st.  Life does not miraculously improve with the 12 chimes of the midnight bell.  But it is a different year.  A new calendar, a new diary.  A very blank page.  And a blank page is the chance to write a new story.  To change the outcomes of the same routines.  To try new ways to respond to the same issues.

I can see why New Year’s resolutions are appealing. ¬†The thought that after all the excesses and partying, you can strive to change something. ¬†New patterns, new routines, can start with the New date. ¬†And why shouldn’t we try if we want to? ¬†Why shouldn’t we give January 1st as a date to create new habits?

Of course, for many of us, the string of resolutions we promise ourselves don’t make it past the second week of January. ¬†The enthusiasm and resolve we started with starts to dwindle as we come to the realisation that nothing is really different, and that any change in habit is going to take work and effort, whether it starts on October 1st, January 1st or May 22nd. ¬†The feelings and the passion we had when we set those resolutions have moved away, and we start to question our abilities and our own agenda. ¬†Do I really need to give up smoking? ¬†Right now? ¬†Do I really have to get up an hour earlier each day to fit in yoga? ¬†What is it actually giving me? ¬†And sometimes we conclude that we’re not benefitting from our previous decisions. ¬†We’re not ready to make those changes. ¬†And it’s fine. ¬†It’s ok. ¬†Because it’s our choice.

But sometimes people do keep those resolutions going.  That opportunity to use a date as a time to create new habits, new activities, is enough to motivate the changes to remain.  That decision to join the gym in January and train for a 10k run happens and continues.  That resolution to quite smoking on January 1st is successful and the start of a lifelong change.

Yes, I like January 1st as an opportunity to bring about change.

But I also like Wednesdays.

Or Marches.

Or the 1st Sunday in July.

Or here and now.

If there is something we want to change, setting a date may be just the motivation we need to do it.  Or we might want to start straight away.

We’re not all the same. ¬†And while there are those who will thrive on the idea of NY resolutions, and will make a substantial difference in their life because of them, there are others who prefer to go gently and slowly, and that too is fine.

But don’t quit the idea of resolutions because others are slating it, if it’s something you want to do.

Don’t quit making changes that will benefit you if it’s what you want to do.

Just make sure it’s what you want. ¬†And it will be yours!