Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

 

Some people are very passionate when it comes to holiday greetings.

You don’t have to look far to hear or read the rantings about the use, or lack thereof, the holiday greeting, “Merry Christmas”. Many become furious when they are greeted with, “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”.

We’ve all heard phrases such as, “This is America, we say Merry Christmas here” or “in our country we celebrate Christmas” and of course there is always this one, “The USA was founded on Christian beliefs, we celebrate Jesus’ birthday here, if they don’t like it, they can go back to their own country!”

Many Americans feel violated in their own country. They feel the beliefs and customs of others are being crammed down their throats with no regard for their own beliefs. Many are angry and rightfully so! Right?

NOPE!

First, unless you have Native American somewhere in your heritage, you are an immigrant whose family migrated to America from overseas hundreds of years ago.

Second, while Christianity is among the top religions in the US, it is not solely a US Religion; nor is it the only religion in the US. In fact, Christianity didn’t even originate in the Americas. Also, Jesus was a Jew and he was NOT a white man! Christ…not his last name. The term Christ, in it’s origin, means “the anointed one”. A term which was coined long before the birth of Jesus and could be used within any religion or spiritual practice that perform anointments.

Speaking of the birth of Jesus…third, Christmas origins pre-date the birth of Jesus. Christmas originated as a Pagan holiday. Christians adapted many Pagan traditions (including the Christmas tree) into what we know as Christmas today. What Christians now refer to as Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ birthday (which is not in December), was originally a celebration of winter solstice, the coming of spring and agriculture, and the sun goddess. There is no mention of Christmas in the Bible, nor that it is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, nor that Jesus was born in December (there is no mention of Jesus’ birth date in the Bible).

While it may sound like I am anti- white Christian America, I can assure you that I am not. Quite the opposite really;  I believe and fully support what America was intended to stand for. I believe in the freedom of religion. I believe in equality. I love the multi-cultural population that makes up the United States of America. I love the diversity of this great nation. I love that so many people are kind, compassionate, supportive, open-minded, open-hearted, and accepting of others.

What I don’t support is intolerance, hate, and the double standard that many Americans have. The US is not a one religion or belief system country. The US is not a one skin tone country, and thank your lucky stars for that; because if it were, white skin tone wouldn’t be here, as we are NOT the natives of this land.

I am a white American female, I am made up of Irish, German, Norwegian, and the list goes on… I consider myself to be spiritual, but I am not religious. I do, however, respect those who are, so long as they are respectful to others. I celebrate Christmas, but not as a Christian holiday. I celebrate the love, time shared with friends and family, connections, and memories. To me, that’s what the holiday season is all about.

There are many holiday celebrations during this time of year other than Christmas; Hanukkah and Kwanzaa to name a couple. Not everyone in America celebrates Christmas. We don’t say “Happy Holidays” because “Merry Christmas” might offend others, we say it because it’s all inclusive. We say it to respect everyone’s beliefs.

Regardless of beliefs, skin color, and country of origin, we are ALL human.

Happy Hanukkah!
Happy Kwanzaa!
Happy Solstice!
Merry Christmas!
Season’s Greetings!
Happy Holidays!

Lots of Love,
Dani

 

This Life is Mine

As of late I’ve been encouraging myself to own my story. To stop talking about it as though it is someone else’s story that I’m telling. To stop dissociating myself from my story. It’s much easier said than done. Having said that, I’m very aware that I will be unable to fully heal until I’m able to own it, to feel it, to mourn for it, to cry for it, and to process it as the reality that it is rather than be so passive and dismissive of it.

I’ve spent a lifetime being someone I thought I was supposed to be. I’ve spent a lifetime creating failure through self-sabotage. I’ve spent a lifetime feeling that I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy enough, I’m not lovable, I’m insignificant, that I have no voice (at least not one worthy of being heard), that my feelings don’t matter, and the list goes on. While I’m now told that these beliefs I’ve had about myself, are in no way true, I still struggle daily to believe otherwise.

I had a dream last night that hit me like a ton of bricks within the first 5 minutes of waking this morning. I’m unsure if there were 3 separate dreams or if they are all part of the same dream. What I do know is that several of the same emotions connected all of it.

*Names have been changed*

The first thing I remember about my dream is Steve. He was back in my life,
we were sexually active, and I was back on birth control. I felt a sort of
numbness about this and what little emotion I was feeling was shame and
guilt. I was going against my own wants and needs, against the person I
strive to be; I had no explanation for why I was doing this to myself.

End of that segment of the dream. Steve is no longer part of the dream in
anyway (again, I’m not sure if it is all one dream or 3 separate dreams)

I am at some house waiting outside with a woman whom I am in a relationship
with (at no point does this woman ever have a name). She is younger than me
(at least in real life, but I’m not sure how old I am in the dream), she is
shorter than me, slightly darker skin than me, she has dark hair, she is
thin and in good shape. We seem happy together.

While we are waiting outside a truck pulls up and a couple of guys get out.
They seem a bit like some “good ole boys”, which has me a bit unsettled, but
the unknown woman and I seem to know them and are friendly with them. It
wasn’t until they arrived and got out of the truck that I had an awareness
that we were waiting for them to arrive to tell us the gender of the baby
the unknown woman was carrying. It was like I knew what we were waiting for
the whole time, but it wasn’t clear until they got there.

The guys reported that she was going to have a baby girl. We were both so
elated. We embraced each other and cried tears of joy. She already had a son
and now we were about to have a baby girl. The situation in the dream was
that she had her son with her ex and the baby girl was also her ex’s, but
he was no longer part of the picture at all. So the kids were our.

Note: In the Steve segment, I was on birth control. In this segment I was
elated to be having another child with this unknown woman whom I seemed to
have deep feelings for. End of this segment of the dream

Now I’m at a wedding (I don’t know whose wedding it is, but I’m a member
of the wedding party. I never discover who the couple is during the dream.)
The venue is a huge beautiful mansion. Most of which seems to go unused.
At the wedding are some people I know. My mom, one of my sisters, the
Unknown Woman (not pregnant and we have no children in this segment. We are
in a relationship though), Stephanie (an ex in real life), Tina (a real life
co-worker), Carol (another real life co-worker), and Dave (a real life guy
I’ve known for several years). There are also several people that I don’t
know at this wedding.

At one point, I see my sister talking with someone. She is on a level about
5 steps up from where I am standing. I can’t see who she is talking with
but she looks to be talking to someone who is on a level below her. To my
left there are a set of about 5 steps going down. She is talking with
someone standing down there (it is a loft like set up, hard to explain).
Then I hear the voice of the person she is talking to. It’s my mom. I peak
down the steps, but I can’t see her. I stood there for a moment, completely
unnoticed. I walked up the steps to where my sister was standing, then we
were all on the same level.

In this segment of the dream it seems I have relations with the Unknown
Woman whom I have real feelings for, Stephanie, and Tina. In the dream
I have no feelings for Stephanie or Tina, but I am still having relations
with them. At no point in my dream are there acts of intimacy with them,
but I have an awareness throughout this segment that there are things
between us.

While waiting for the Unknown Woman to finish in the rest room, David
appears in a stairwell off of the area I am waiting. I feel uneasy with his
presence and it feels like I am betraying a friend by conversing with him.
The conversation doesn’t last long with David and he never appears in the
dream again.

I wander into a room; it is mostly empty. There is a chair, an over-sized
chair I think. There are also some boxes in various places throughout the
room. Otherwise it is a large empty room. The Unknown Woman appears in the
chair (I can’t say if she was there when I walked in or not). I walk over to
her and say, “we should find an air mattress or something and sleep in here
tonight. The room is empty, we should be undisturbed in here. We could talk
and get to know each other better.” We both laughed a little at the idea,
I sat down next to her in the chair, she leaned into me and I wrapped my
arms around her. We sat talking for a moment about how we wish we had more
time alone together (I’m not sure why we didn’t and I don’t discover why
during the dream). After what seems like only minutes people enter the room,
it’s time for photo’s of the wedding party. The Unknown Woman and I make
our way to the patio with reluctance of having to leave that moment we had
together (that is the last time I see the Unknown Woman).

While out on the patio, Carol calls me over to talk with her about a
co-worker that sits 2 desks down from her at work. At this point I notice
that Tina is standing by my side while I’m talking with Carol. I don’t
recall what Carol was saying, but it had a negative vibe. While Tina is
present during our conversation, I pay her no mind.

End of Segment

I’m in my bedroom (my dream version of it anyways). I notice there is a TV
on a table or dresser in my room and it sits atop a DVD or Blu-Ray player.
My first thought is that I can use it for my Yoga DVD’s. The following
thought was that Stephanie would be so happy that we can lie in bed together
and watch TV. In this segment I’m in relationship with Stephanie. My aim is
to make her happy regardless of what I feel, which was not much of anything.

End of Segment

I’m in my shower, alone. I close my eyes and lather them with soap, just
my eyes, not the rest of my face. With my eyes lathered a feeling of fear
comes over me. A feeling like I’m not alone. I rinse my eyes and open them
as quickly as I can. The room is darker than it was before I closed my eyes.
I peak my head out from behind the shower curtain to see if anyone is
standing there. A feeling of relief washes over me at the realization that
there is no one there. As I turn to resume my shower, I catch a glimpse of
the mirror out of the corner of my eye. I pause with fear and stare at the
reflection looking back at me. It was monstrous and terrifying. I leapt out
of the shower to run, but it was then that I realized the monster looking
back at me was, me.

I was fear stricken. I looked so terrifying. My hair was long, black, and
gnarled. The bones in my face seemed larger and looked as though they would
pop through my skin at any moment. My eyes were dark and deep. My skin was
rough, splitting, and colored with areas of dark blue, dark purple, and
grey. The more I stared the less afraid I became. “No! This is not real.
This is not me. This is a dream. You’re dreaming. Wake up!”, I said to the
hideous face in the mirror. I began to wipe my face with my hands in an
almost slapping manner, “This is not who you are. This is not you.”, I said
again, to myself, as I frantically wiped the hideous mask off of my face.
Once I had cleared my face of most of the monstrous mask, I fell to the
floor. I sat leaned against the outside of the tub/shower. The water was
still running. I was spent, exhausted, overwhelmed by what had just taken
place. I placed my hands under the running water. I noticed I was wearing
what looked like work gloves. I was confused as to why I had them on and
where they came from. I also noticed that I was wearing my work fleece.
My gloves and fleece were getting soaked. I didn’t care, I kept splashing
water on my face. I needed to cleanse myself of all of what I had just
seen. I felt like I needed to completely submerge myself in water to free
myself of that horrible mask and image. While I could’ve climbed into the
tub and done just that, I didn’t, I sat outside of it and continued to
splash water on my face.

I wake up. End of dream

Upon waking up, while the dream lingered, I didn’t give it much thought. I tried to shrug it off, but was mindful of the uneasy emotions I was feeling from it.

My typical morning routine is to wake up and check Facebook. This morning was no different than any other, or so it seemed.

This was the first thing I came across on Facebook this morning:

screenshot_20171126-114442.png

Could The Universe have sent me a clearer sign? Probably not!

After I read this, I took a moment of silence, to close my eyes, and to reflect on the dream I had just awoke from.

I felt deeply for the Unknown Woman, but I betrayed her and myself by being involved with Stephanie and Tina, whom I had no feelings for, but they were both happy.

I betrayed myself with Steve in the first segment of my dream. I didn’t want to be with him, but he was happy.

While I could hear my mom, I couldn’t see her. I could only see my sister. My presence went unnoticed. I felt invisible, set apart, I didn’t belong. It wasn’t until I sought out my mom, from where my sister stood that we were all on the same level (I haven’t worked all of this part of the dream out yet, but it feels like something runs very deep there).

As I laid silently in my bed with eyes closed, I realized that throughout every segment of my dream I carried with me guilt and shame. I realized the hurt and fear that came with wiping off that face/mask in my dream. I laid there in my bed sobbing at the realization that I matter, that I’ve been hiding behind some hideous mask/face that is not mine. I sobbed because this life I’ve lived for 38 years hasn’t really been mine at all. I sobbed because of the freedom that comes from finally having this awareness.

It’s time I take off the mask that was given me. It’s time I start owning my story. It’s time I stop running madly and stand still instead. It’s time I stand still and allow myself to “feel my own weight and density”. It’s time I wear my own face. It’s time I start living from my heart rather than from the false thoughts I’ve believed about myself for so many years.

Now is the time I become myself without regret, without hesitation, with pride, with courage, with determination, with an open heart and an open mind.

I see you and I hear you.

This life, this life is mine.

Goodbye

I had 20 minutes left of a movie I was watching on my phone when my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, I was mildly annoyed that the call stopped my movie, and thought to myself, “if it’s important they’ll leave a message.”

I finished my movie and then listened to the the voicemail left by the unknown caller:

Hey Dani, this is JC, W’s sister. Can you call me back as soon as you get this message. Thank you.

As soon as she said her name, I had a terrible feeling. I immediately called JC back:

Me: J?

JC: Hey Dani

Me: What’s up?

JC: W passed away yesterday

Me: No! (takes off glasses and slides them across table)

JC kept talking through her tears, but I for the life of me can’t remember what she said after she told me. I remember trying so hard to pay attention to what she was saying, but I couldn’t. My mind was in such disbelief. After what seemed like an eternity I was able to pull my attention back to the words JC was speaking; I’m sure only seconds had passed. It’s amazing how many thoughts can travel through our minds in a matter of seconds.

I felt numb and completely disconnected emotionally. I refused to feel the reality of what JC just told me. It felt so unreal. Like this couldn’t be true; we haven’t seen each other in a few years; we need to get together and catch up; she can’t be gone.

I’ve known W for about 26 years. Our friendship was the kind that could stand the test of time and all of what life had to throw our way. We had our ups and downs and in and outs. We had gone days, weeks, months, and years at times without seeing or speaking to one another and we had those same time spans when we were inseparable. No matter what happened between us we knew that in time we would always forgive one another because our friendship was so much more important that all the shit. We also both knew that if at any time we needed the other we would be there in a heart beat, no matter what.

She always had my back. I remember one time there was this woman who was all up in my face and trying to intimidate me. She talked about how she was a black belt in karate. She asked me if that scared me. W was standing right next to me, I looked at W, then looked back at this woman and I said, “if you touch me, she’s going to hurt you. So no, I’m not scared of your black belt.” That was the end of that exchange.

We weren’t fighters by any means, but we were protectors and if that meant we had to fight to protect our friends then we would. I don’t ever recall a time it came to that though (a few close calls).

The two of us were driving around one night. She was driving and I was riding shotgun. We were on some back road somewhere; we crossed over an old rickety bridge and it was as though our minds had been communicating because both of us began talking about “The Lost Boys” movie, which lead to the assumption that there were probably vampires hanging out under the bridge, literally hanging under the bridge. We may have had wild imaginations, but we had a lot of fun together.

I have so many memories of the times we spent together. This still seems so unreal. I struggle to wrap my head around the reality of this. Tonight is a Celebration of Life ceremony for her. I suppose this will make it a reality for me.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for the laughs;

Thank you for the tears;

Thank you for sharing in good times and in bad;

Thank you for your unwavering  love and support;

Thank you for all you taught me;

Thank you for the many, many memories;

Thank you for your friendship.

I hope my words reach you; I wish I had said this so much sooner:

I have always admired your strength, your courage, your kind heart, your resilience, your ability to forgive, and your ability to always get back up.

I am so happy you found love and happiness. You’re so deserving of it.

I’m sorry we never found the time to get together like we’d talked about. I’m really wishing we had.

You’ve been my rock so many times in my life. There are no words to express how much appreciation I have for you; it was an honor to have you in my life.

You will definitely be missed. I will forever keep you in my heart and thoughts.

Goodbye, my friend. I’ll see you when the time is right.

With Love,

Dani

But Who Am I?

My name is Danielle. But who am I?

I was born in Faribault, Mn and grew up in Delano, MN. But who am I?

My job title is Mfg Inspection Lead. But who am I?

I’m love women but keep my heart open to all. But who am I?

I’m Irish, German, Norwegian, and a plethora of other things. But who am I?

I have dark bluish eyes, brown hair, I’m 5’4.5″, I weigh…(I’m average weight, we’ll leave it at that), I’m 38 years old, my shoe size is 6.5-7 depending on the shoe. But who am I?

I’m not a religious person. I consider myself to be spiritual. But who am I?

I don’t consider myself to be part of any political party. I want what makes sense and what’s best for the people. But who am I?


All of the above tells you something about me, but none of it tells you who I am. Hell, most day’s I’m not entirely sure of who I am, but this is what I do know:

I am an open book. Ask me anything and I will answer the best I can.

I am open-minded and continue to practice open-mindedness.

I am a helper, a healer, a caretaker. I will do my best to do what I can to help others. Not out of obligation, but out of the kindness of my heart.

I am empathetic. If you hurt, I hurt. If you’re happy, I’m happy for you.

I have few convictions, but I’m very passionate about the ones I do have. I have no tolerance for bullying, discrimination, or abusive behavior of any kind. We don’t all have to like each other, but we do all have to live in this world together. Just be respectful of others. It really is not that hard.

I have a deep love for dogs and more recently horses, but I am a lover of all animals. I’m the person watching the movie who is more concerned about the animal’s welfare than  I am the human’s…DO NOT HURT THE ANIMALS!

I say I’m not really a people person, but I feel most alive when I am with people. I’m not a big fan of large crowds. I have some anxiety around meeting new people.

While I am no longer being actively victimized, I have been the victim of sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual advances, physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, and discrimination. Many of which have happened on separate occasions with separate abusers at various times throughout my childhood and into my young adult life. It has been many years since I’ve endured any of the listed types of abuse. What some may not realize though, is that not validating the victim and their story, is a continuation of victimizing the victim. Victims often feel even more victimized than they did during the initial act of abuse if there is no support, belief, and/or acknowledgement of the trauma they’ve endured; when no one will validate what victims have been through we are left to feel alone, insignificant, unworthy, not good enough, and unloved/unlovable. All victims, whether validated or not, are at a much higher risk to suffer with mental health issues. Which leads me to my next piece of who I am…

…I struggle with some mental health issues, which should not come as a surprise at this point (especially if you’ve read previous posts on my blog). Depression was the one I noticed first. I found myself in a very dark and ugly place that I could not get myself out of. I was seeing my wonderful therapist when depression hit like a ton of bricks. Through therapy it was discovered that I also suffer with developmental trauma (C-PTSD), anxiety, and adult ADHD. Thanks to my wonderful therapist and my amazing one-of-a-kind psychiatrist I am a helluva lot more balanced than I’ve ever been.

In spite of all of that, I have an incredible amount of love in my heart. Sometimes it feels like it could explode out of me at any second.

I feel every emotion, that I allow myself to feel, very deeply. Having said that, due to all of the trauma in my past, I have the ability to disconnect from just about every feeling I don’t want to feel. I also have the ability to disconnect from myself as well as others. When I’m in that place of disconnect there is a feeling of nothingness. I know it’s not healthy, but it’s been a great protector many times throughout my life.

I’ve learned to carry hurt, heartache, and pain very well. Because of this I wish that I could take all of those feelings away from people I care about and carry the weight of those feelings for them.

I often have very little regard for my own self-care, if I have any at all. I would much rather help others. I can wait.

I’m close to expert level when it comes to putting up a front. While I may appear like all is good and I’ve got my shit together, there is often a lot of chaos going on inside. I’ve just learned to manage it in such a way that it doesn’t reflect on others. My chaos is my chaos, I try not to invite too many people into it.

I have a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature. Sunsets and sunrises; all of the beautiful colors nature provides for us; the serenity found in the woods; the music created for us by the wind, rain, thunder, the birds, squirrels, and other creatures bustling around and living there lives; the moon in all it’s many phases, the stars and all their wonder; the mountains, rivers, lakes, oceans; the stillness of a cold winter morning.

My dream is to open a wellness center where I will be a therapist/life coach. I would provide space for yoga, Reiki sessions, chiropractic care, acupuncture, guided meditation as well as silent meditation. The center would be focused on holistic methods of healing.

While I often feel like my world is in constant unraveling mode, I continue to fight for myself and that’s a fight I will never give up.

I am not just a name; I am not my job; I am not what has been done to me; I am not my sexuality; I am not a religion or political party; I am not the town I was born in nor am I the town I grew up in; I’m not just Irish, German, Norwegian, or stereotypes that go with them; I am not my appearance. These are part of what makes me, me; I’m proud of all of the many parts of me, but these don’t express the essence of who I am.

I am a beautiful complicated loving soul; I am a helper, a healer, a caretaker; I am connected to nature; I feel emotions very deeply; I’m a constant work in progress; I’m a survivor; I am passionate and compassionate; and while I don’t really hold much regard for myself, I refuse to give up on me.

This is a glimpse of what I know to be who I am. I will continue seeking out more of the who that is me.

Do you know who you are?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home

Until recently I’ve thought of home as being where I live, where my parents live, or the town I grew up in. While I still consider those to be a version of home, I’ve been gaining more of an awareness that home isn’t necessarily a place. For me, home is an emotion; it’s a deep connection, a feeling of comfort, safety and security, familiarity, belonging, and love.

The other day I was trying to find words to describe to someone how I feel in their presence. I was at a loss. None of the words I thought of could fully encompass what I feel in this person’s presence. Then it hit me; being in their presence feels like home! There is no other word that could better describe that feeling.

Last night I was watching the movie Country Strong. There is a song in the movie that I absolutely love “Give In To Me” by Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester, the song is the reason I watched the movie…again. Faith Hill sings a version too, but I prefer the movie version. But that song is neither here nor there in regards to this post.

The reason I mention the movie has to do with a  different song, “Coming Home”. As mentioned, I’ve seen the movie before but didn’t pay much mind to this song the first time. The premise of the movie is that country star Kelly (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) is struggling to overcome addiction while on a comeback tour that her husband (Tim McGraw) has scheduled her for. There is so much more to the story line (addiction, an affair, a love story, empowerment, survival, strength, and courage). If you haven’t seen it check it out, it’s a pretty good movie, worth the watch. But I digress.

The song “Coming Home” is about running from life, losing your way, and finding your path back home. It’s no secret that I’ve found myself running from life, and that I’ve lost my way more times than I can count and I know it will happen several more times throughout my life. While I was listening to the song, I wondered what “coming home” looked like for me? Where would my path back home lead me? The answer I came up with was this:

Coming home, for me, is returning to my authentic self; returning to the essence of who I truly am and not who I’ve believed I am for so many years; it’s living my life on my terms regardless of what others think; it’s being true to myself. Home is internal, home is a feeling, an emotion. Home is not a place, it has no address. Home can be felt anywhere and at anytime. Home can be everywhere I go, as long as I can stay true to myself. Home can be with anyone, as long I feel safe and secure, comfortable, welcomed, loved, and accepted for who I truly am without judgement. There are very few people I feel “home” with and it’s not very often I feel “home” with myself. As I learn to surround myself with like-minded people and continue to seek out my tribe, I know there will be more people I feel home with. Likewise, as I learn to fearlessly and courageously live from the essence of who I am regardless of what others might think and in spite of who I’ve believed I am, I know I will feel home with myself everywhere I go.

Home is about connection, deep connection. I have an incredibly deep connection with the aforementioned person I feel home with. I’ve felt the connection since the first conversation (it was a phone conversation) we had and it’s only continued to grow deeper with time. It’s one of those connections where you feel like you’ve known each other for years, a lifetime and longer…lifetimes. A connection where you know, without question, that you were meant to be part of each other’s lives. The Universe brought us together and timing was everything.

I’ve only felt home like this with one other person. An entirely different connection, but equally as deep and meant to be. Unfortunately that person was just passing through; but oh the growth, lessons, and love that came from that connection is everlasting and will live on in my heart until the end of time.

It’s not often I will talk about or even acknowledge any type of connection I have with myself. Hell, to this point in my life, I’ve seldom even acknowledged myself. I certainly haven’t ever had much regard for myself. Slowly but surely I am learning to care more about myself and to treat myself with the same respect and dignity as I treat others with. What I do know about myself is that in the moments I allow myself to live from the essence of who I truly am, I feel deeply connected to myself and the Universe. I like me so much more during those moments. I love the essence of who I am. I love the person I get glimpses of, the person I know I am at my core, the person I am learning to fearlessly and courageously be.

Well they say it’s where the heart is
and I guess the hardest part is
when your heart is broken
and you’re lost out in the great wide open
looking for a map
finding your way back
to where you belong
well that’s where I belong

Home
The world tried to break me
I found a road to take me
Home
There ain’t nothing but a blue sky now
After all of my running
I’m finally coming
Home

*Lyrics of Coming Home from Country Strong Movie

This is home to me. I hope you feel home, if not, I hope you feel home soon.

-Dani

Sugar: The Heroin of Food

It’s an eyeopening moment when you are struck by the realization that you’re addicted to something and had no idea you were until you’ve been challenged to give it up.

For me this moment came when I realized that I have a sugar addiction.

I never had a reason to really monitor my sugar intake. I am single so I tend to buy and eat whatever I want because I can. I’m not overweight, I have a few lbs I would like to drop, but that’s a personal preference not a health risk. I’ve dieted before, attempted to eat healthier and failed. I wrote the failure off as just not having the time it takes to eat healthy or that the cost of a healthy diet is more expensive, and of course there’s that little nagging part of the mind that would much rather eat pizza and pasta over salads and boneless skinless chicken breasts. It never occurred to me that my failure could be an addiction to sugar. Nor did I realize how many foods contain sugar.

Sugar (food heroin) is hidden in processed foods, like all of them! It’s no wonder it is so damn hard to kick sugar addiction when it is in most everything we eat, with the exception of organic/whole foods (there are foods that contain natural sugars (i.e. fruits), which are much better than added sugars, but they shouldn’t be overindulged in either).

It would be one thing if sugar was easily identifiable so that we could avoid it if we want, but it’s disguised by many different names:

  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • glucose
  • lactose
  • sucrose
  • maltose
  • invert sugar (it’s a given since sugar is in the name, but what is “invert” sugar?)
  • All syrups
    • corn syrup and corn syrup solids
    • malt syrup
    • sugar syrup (seriously!?!)
    • high-fructose corn syrup (wth is the difference between reg. fructose and high-fructose?)
  • Stay away from the canes too:
    • cane crystals
    • cane sugar
    • evaporated cane juice

These are just some of the names companies use to disguise sugars on ingredient labels.

According to a Huffington Post article I read, companies are dividing the sugars in the ingredients under various “sugar” names so that they will be listed lower on the list of ingredients.

some food companies seem to be taking some extreme liberties. Not only are they using some of those tricky sugar synonyms in the ingredient list, but they’re also using several of them, in a single product. Added sugars are added sugars. No matter what you call them, they do pretty much the same thing to food (make it taste sweeter). So by dividing the total amount of added sugars into three or four different sugar names instead of using just one type of sugar, companies are able drop their added sugars further down the list (the less the weight, the lower the rank on the ingredient list).

So for example, if a manufacturer wants to sweeten up a certain brand of crackers, it can either do this using 15 grams of “sugar” or, 5 grams of “malt syrup,” 5 grams of “invert sugar” and 5 grams of “glucose”. Some manufacturers seem to be choosing this divide and masquerade method, placing these ingredients lower down on their products’ lists, making us believe that the amount of sugar in the product is smaller than it is.

*Information retrieved from Food Labels: How to Spot Hidden Sugars, by Pooja R. Mottl

I tend to crave the more obvious sugar loaded foods such as frosted sugar cookies, ice cream, chocolate chip or blueberry muffins, any type of dessert really. While the sugar loaded foods I crave are easily avoidable when shopping (easier for some, but not for me. This is a big struggle for me), many other foods are not as easily identifiable.

I will admit that grocery shopping isn’t my favorite thing to do in the first place and if I have to read all of the damn labels of food items before putting them in the cart I’m going to like it even less. It seems this is what needs to be done though, along with eating more organic and whole foods (have an awareness that not all organic foods are healthy).

A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop about mastering habits and unlocking change. The workshop was lead by Personal Habit Coach, The Habit Gal, Sara Brand. Part of what we did in this workshop was to rate various areas of our life on what is called “The Wheel of Life”. There are 8 areas of life listed on this wheel. We were to rate each area from 1-10 and draw a line in each specific area to indicate our level of satisfaction for said area of life. Then we were to pick 1 or 2 areas of life that were low in satisfaction, fill in some questions/answers as to how we could increase our personal satisfaction in the areas of life we chose. The area of life I chose for myself was health.

Two of the questions/answers we were to fill-in, to help guide us, were:

“When your brain tries to stop you, what is an ‘I used to…’ statement you can say to rewrite your neuropathway?” (Remember this workshop was about changing and creating new habits).

As I said earlier, grocery shopping…not my favorite. Having to read ingredient labels before placing items in my cart is going to suck even more.

This would be a great opportunity for me to come up with some “I used to…” statements to change my shopping habits and feelings around grocery shopping.

  • Statement 1: I used to buy whatever I wanted regardless of how it affected my health, but now I am mindful of what I put in my cart and in my body and how my food choices directly affect my health.
  • Statement 2: I used to dislike grocery shopping, but now I look forward to how much better I feel by eating the healthy foods I purchase.
  • Statement 3: I used to go to quick easy processed foods when I was tired but now I know that if I skip processed foods that are loaded with sugar I will feel more energized and not so tired all of the time.

The other question/answer we were to fill-in was to write an “I am” statement to remind us of our commitment: (We only had to select one of these two questions/answers but why not do both?)

  • I am committed to my health, mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, I will take the time to read ingredient labels before placing food items in my cart.

These are statements that I can use to help guide me and keep me focused on my goal to drastically reduce my sugar intake and increase the level of satisfaction I have with my health.

Another eyeopening moment I had was during a session with the therapist I see for my eating habits and nutrition. We were talking about processed foods and she said, “so much of it isn’t even food”. I thought for a moment about the words that she had just spoken. The first thing that came to my mind was instant mashed potatoes. I mean those things have been so incredibly processed that they go from flakes of who knows what to mashed potatoes when liquid is added. That can’t be real food.

Boxed macaroni and cheese…the cheese (much like the potatoes) has been so processed that it is powder, and once again just adding liquid brings it some liquid form of cheese. Think about pasta, what is pasta made of? Usually it’s a shit ton of processed ingredients.

All packaged foods have been so processed, loaded with sugars and preservatives that we can hardly call it food, and certainly not anything that can be good for the human body.

Today begins a new start to my eating habits.

My target goals:

  • Eliminate as much sugar as possible (fruits are the exception and can’t go overboard on those either)
  • Eat little to no processed foods
  • Avoid inside isles in grocery stores when possible
  • Take time to read ingredient labels
  • Eat more organic and whole foods
  • Stay committed to my health, mind, body, and spirit.

I’m gonna kick sugar’s ass and improve my health while doin it!

  • Dani