Even if you aren’t going back to school right now, you probably feel the energy of newness that is September. Here in Boston, where the population feels as if it doubles this month when the students come in droves, there is a fresh-start kind of feeling that permeates the air. I can close my eyes and imagine the smell of new text books, the clang of the cafeteria, the crisp autumn evenings that viscerally feel like back-to-school. It’s in my neural pathways to feel the pull of new, creative energy in the fall.
At the same time, I’ll admit that my blogging joints are rusty. My laptop got a lot of rest this summer, rightfully so, and it’s hard to dive back in to my writing practice.
“Diving in” was the theme that came to me when I asked myself and the universe what to write about. I saw two clients yesterday that were diving in to new experiences in their lives: one a new relationship and one a new job. Both experienced a lot of trepidation about the changes before them. Change can be scary. Even though the outcome might be positive, change takes us out of our comfort zones for awhile and makes us feel vulnerable — and maybe even a little lost.
The experiences of fear and trepidation about change in my clients’ love and work lives were not unlike the fear and trepidation that they experienced in their nutrition therapy work. Both came to me for different types of disordered eating: one for anorexia nervosa and one for binge eating disorder. Their deep desire to change, coupled with their fear of change, were nevertheless very similar. Their eating behaviors (restricting or binging) were disturbing to them and harming their health overall, but they both were having a hard time letting go. The eating behaviors were serving a purpose, soothing in some way, and helping them negotiate change and stress in their lives by giving them some relief, comfort, and escape. In the nutrition therapy work, they both learned to listen to their bodies more closely, interrupt the destructive comments that came into their heads about what they should and shouldn’t eat, and trust their intuitions about what is best for them to eat.
This work spilled over into the bigger issues of life. In fact, if I have learned one thing from my work, it’s that food issues are microcosms for larger life issues — as well as an embodiment of pain, stress, and conflict. The client who was entering a new relationship had to learn to ask for what she needed more clearly, negotiating the boundaries of the partnership. The client who was starting a new job needed to really sink into “what is best for me” in his job search, instead of getting lost in the “shoulds.” Both of them negotiated these significant life changes so much better because they were really doing the hard work on their disordered eating. Dancing outside their comfort zones was something that they were starting to become familiar with.
In both of these cases, with food and with life, my clients needed to let go of their fears (acknowledging them first, but not sinking into them) and then just dive in. I like the image of “diving in” because I’m not really ready for summer to be over. So many times this summer I dove head first into water that was just a bit too cold to be comfy. (It’s one of my favorite things to do.) I called it my “reset button.” When I felt stuck, I’d go jump in the lake or the pond or the ocean and suddenly everything was new.
So, as the crisp September air beckons (at least here in New England) and the back-to-school energy encourages a fresh start, think about what it is that you need to dive into — both in your quest to improve your relationship with food and body, and in your greater life. Chances are your practice of listening to and nourishing your body more clearly will also be useful when listening to and nourishing your deepest desires and dreams for your life.
Life is really fairly short. Sometimes shorter than we ever imagine. Nothing lasts forever. We don’t last forever. So why not dive in to what feels (and tastes) delicious right now…?
I look forward to a another year at the blog with you, as you navigate your own particular journey. Thank you for all the sharing — privately and publicly — that you have done with me in the past year since this blog first became a reality. I am deeply grateful for the feedback, comments, and regular reading of the words that come out of me from work that has nourished and transformed so many. In the process, I have become transformed as its witness.
Blessings and gratitude, Heidi