I’m not sure if you believe in a Higher Power, but I do. Some people call Her/Him the Universe, Allah, Vishnu, or Steve. I call Him: God, Father, Daddy-O, or whatever term of endearment a child calls their Dad. So when the idea of 12 in 12 popped into my head, I checked in with Pops. “Are you sure you want me to do this?” “Who do you think gave you the idea?” I heard inside. Hmm, I guess if He spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus, yakking it up with me as I plodded along on the treadmill on the road to nowhere, wasn’t too far-fetched.
So what do I do when He asks me to do something? I ask for a sign. I typically ask for a feather – if I see one after prayer, I feel reassured. Years ago, while I was in the midst of a personal crisis, I asked God for a feather. Actually, I pleaded with Him as I scurried towards the grocery store on a windy day, “Please, PLEASE, send me a sign that everything is going to be okay. I need a feather, PLEEEE…” Before I could finish my sentence, I felt something plunk on my head and fall at my feet. I stopped in my tracks and looked down. It wasn’t a feather, it was an entire severed wing with a multitude of feathers. I know, gross, but amazing at the same time. Needless to say, after I disinfected my head, I felt reassured that God was going to lead me through the crisis, and He did.
Now what does this have to do with writing a blog about my battle with the bulge and my struggle to get out of this mental maze of self-sabotage? Everything. If you know me personally, you know I’m not a risk-taker so taking on a project like this is out of character. If I was going to do this, I needed reassurance I was on the right path. I asked God for all the tools I needed for this journey. He said, “You bring the brave, and I’ll bring everything else.” So, I laced up my hiking boots, strapped on my metaphoric backpack, and from the very moment I took that leap of faith, He has been bringing wonderful people into my life I otherwise would not have met. They’re coming along my path offering the necessary provisions for my journey – advice, contacts, granola bars, and the like. And He’s also been showering me with perfectly timed and aligned opportunities. Two such opportunities presented themselves this past weekend.
On Saturday, I participated in a writing workshop run by the pint-sized, yet hugely talented author and editor, Rona Maynard. http://ronamaynard.com/
Honestly, the woman is the size of my right leg, but her gifts are enormous! Look at her… if she took off her glasses, she’d go from mild-mannered journalist to Wonder Woman. She was sporting elegant superhero couture, complete with a red flowy sweater and black tights that complimented her petite frame – all that was missing was a giant “R” on her chest.
The workshop was held at Verity, a private, chichi, members-only club for women in Toronto. http://www.verity.ca/default_index.asp I didn’t know places like this existed – at least for women – and I certainly didn’t know what to expect when I got there. Was there a dress code? Would I have to curtsy? Was there a secret handshake? I practiced my best Mrs. Thurston Howell III, “How doooooo you do?” as I found my way to the venue. Once I stepped through the doors and into the boardroom with the tangerine coloured walls, I knew this experience was part of His plan. There, written on a flipchart was the following quote:
If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. –Barry Lopez
Yup! Yup! I’m in the right place. And thankfully, no bird had to sacrifice an appendage to confirm it. I need to tell my story, and I need to say it more than the binge food I scarf down to suppress the truth.
It was a small workshop, just five aspiring writers and Rona. Each participant submitted a memoir piece, which we discussed and dissected. We knew going in our stories needed work, and with Rona’s hands-on attention, they began to take shape. Through a series of methodical questions she executed as both inquisitive journalist and nurturing therapist, she drew out the real story.
When it was my turn, Rona quickly discerned the story I submitted, despite having “charm and swagger” was not the story I really wanted to tell. Damn, she’s good! I confessed that I was currently in love with my blog, and what I really wanted to write about was my hips. We all had a good chuckle and Rona encouraged me to pursue my cellulite confessions, but cautioned, “Don’t write a story with a padlock on your tongue”. Well Rona, if I had a padlock on my tongue, I wouldn’t be writing this blog now would I?!
I left the workshop with a signed copy of Rona’s book, My Mother’s Daughter, business cards from my new friends, and most importantly, a greater conviction that I’m on the right path.
Then on Sunday, my church facilitated the first of a three part workshop using Donald Miller’s Storyline curriculum. http://storylineblog.com/ I fell in love with Donald Miller a dozen years ago when I read his book, Blue Like Jazz and have been a fan ever since. He also struggled with weight and won his battle – yay Don! He’s raw, honest, and funny as heck! Watch this clip and I dare you to tell me he’s not awesome: http://storylineblog.com/book-don/
Once again, just like the day before, I was given a featherless sign. The following quote was projected on the screen:
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with the song still in them.” –Henry David Thoreau
This is especially relevant to me as I have just come back from my sixth funeral in two months. Funerals make you reflect not only on your mortality, but on your purpose while you’re here.
When I complete the Storyline modules, Don claims I’ll have a life plan that will give me clarity and direction for living a great story. DIRECTION, that’s another tool I’ll need to get out of this maze and into my healthy ever after!
It is true what they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. It’s not a coincidence that Rona and Don are both memoirists who are teaching others how to tell their story in an authentic way. I believe they have been divinely appointed to serve as lampposts to illuminate my path, as they know firsthand what it feels like to be vulnerable by sharing their story. And perhaps, one day my story will cozy up next to theirs – until then, this will have to do.
Humble-Pie: I didn’t binge this past weekend, except when I ate M&Ms for breakfast before I left for the first workshop. I guess if you’re feeding your soul, your body is satisfied too.