I am exhausted. Clearly the story I am telling myself about my health needs rewriting as I have another cold. Over the three years that I got no more than two hours of sleep at a time, I hardly ever got sick. Well, other than the broken leg and dead baby situation. But a cold? Ha – not me. Now I’m getting more sleep, doing all this work on myself and I have yet to feel 100% healthy this year. It’s been a funky year.

I set myself up. 2010 was hard and I desperately wanted that one digit shift at midnight on December 31st to usher out challenges and open the door for ease. I’m in a place of transition on many levels and while there are moments of grace, moments that feel easy, moments of complete alignment, there is also a massive struggle to let go of old habits and thoughts that no longer serve. I am keenly aware of every step backward, every missed opportunity, every time I circle back around to something I thought I’d dealt with.

I am working hard.

Maybe that’s the problem.

Hard work and ease don’t hold hands and play nicely.

Now that I’m coming out from under the shadow of intense grief, my expectations of my ability to be productive and accomplish Shera-like feats have risen dramatically. I want to be making money now, to be skinny now, to have boundless energy and no fear NOW. The baby steps no longer feel like enough. Which makes me miserable and the whole point – the whole point – is to enjoy the journey. To treasure the moments. Because we do not know when life as we know it will vanish into the ether of yesterday.

Buddhism tells us that life is suffering. It also says there is an end to suffering. I believe this with my whole heart. It’s not that life suddenly gets easy and there is no more pain. It’s that we stop being so attached – to our thoughts, to our outcomes, to our stories. I’ve been working with Byron Katie’s four questions in my head, if not on paper, and I can see that 90% the thoughts I think are not true. When I imagine who I would be without a particular thought, it’s as though a world of freedom opens up. I can feel myself stepping into it, and then wham! Another thought hits and I am knocked backward into comparison, expectation, and attachment to outcome. I keep picking myself up, dusting myself off and trying again.

If I weren’t aware of all this going on, I think I’d feel better on some level. While not exactly bliss, ignorance can make life easier. If I were further along in the process I think I’d feel better. But here I am, in the thick of it. Learning. Growing. Painfully stretching into my new skin. And there is so much good, when I remember to take it in and celebrate it instead of barreling through and focusing on work still to be done.

So tonight, I celebrate the steps I have taken, the ease I have found. I celebrate 20 pounds lost and a sense of purpose rediscovered. I celebrate this cold as an opportunity to practice additional self-care. I celebrate the unknown, the questions that I live in, for they will lead me to the next step and the next. I celebrate sharing my journey here, for my willingness to be vulnerable has connected me to brilliant shining souls all over the world. I celebrate the mediocre stories I tell my daughter before she falls asleep because while I judge, she delights. I celebrate my husband, who has not had an easy wife this last year and who continues to love and support me without hesitation.

Here at my desk, having forgotten to put my glasses on again, I raise my cup of tea to us all.

To life. In all its glorious mess.

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5 Responses to Messy

  1. Lindsey says:

    Oh, bravo … I needed this tonight. So, so badly. xoxo

  2. Christa says:

    And to you, Alana. In a big way.


  3. Christa says:

    P.S. Messy is good.

  4. Pamela says:

    I loved reading this. Thank you for your honestly. I am SO with you. I have been trying to transform my relationship with food and I just want it to be fixed already. I want to lose 12 pounds. I want to not eat chocolate when I am sad. I want to be there already dammit!!!

    So thank you.

    Then tonight at yoga the teacher talked about patience, faith, and devotion. Be patient with your own precious self.


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