Love: 1. Fear: 0.

If you had told me last November when I wrote Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign I would meet Donald Miller in person, I wouldn’t have believed you. Donald Miller is the author of several critically acclaimed books and I’ve been a fan ever since I read his New York Times Bestseller, Blue Like Jazz over a decade ago.

Don is also the founder of Storyline, an organization that helps people live better stories.  You can work through the modules in the workbook, on online, or attend his yearly conference in the States. I’ve always wanted to attend in person, but the two Fs (fear and finances) have prevented me from taking the plunge. However, this year a small voice within me convinced me to go, and I’m sooooooooo glad I listened, as Don announced this year’s conference would be his last.

The conference was held in Chicago, and before the plane touched down in the Windy City, I knew God’s blessing was all over this venture. The fear dissipated when I saw the city reach above the clouds to greet me – a heavenly sign, indeed!

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Over 2,000 people came to hear Don and his lineup of amazing guest speakers take the stage. Their messages were uplifting and they each planted seeds that have taken root in my spirit. I also met some lovely people who were seeking to live a meaningful life as well, and for a few days our stories intersected making the experience all the more memorable.

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Marty, Kristin C, Me, Kristen F, and Destiny : )

Next to meeting Don, I was excited to hear Bob Goff, a lawyer, philanthropist, Hon. Consul for the Republic of Uganda, and author of Love Does, speak. Boy, is he an original! The only thing bigger than his larger-than-life personality is his generosity! Case in point – 100% of the proceeds from his bestselling book goes to Restore International and The Mentoring Project!  Bob’s message is simple, live a lifestyle that fiercely seeks out ways of showing love and he promises, “when Love Does, life gets interesting!”

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How timely I attend a conference anchored in love, when I’m smack dab in the middle of testing a plan whose “purpose is to root our fear and replace it with inestimable love.” Coincidence? I think not!

Over the three-day conference, I had the opportunity to chat with Don on three separate occasions. The first was when I went all fan-girl and asked to take a photo with him. The second, when I asked him a scriptwriting question during the Q&A. And lastly, when I bumped into him on the final day of the conference.

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The last encounter shouldn’t have happened, we literally bumped into each other during the lunch break. He was hurrying back to the auditorium, but slowed down enough to walk alongside me to say, hello.  I smiled, and he asked if I was enjoying the conference. I told him it was the best investment I ever made. Then that small voice that convinced me to go to the conference urged me to ask him that burning question that none of his books addressed.

“I know you’re in a hurry, but can I ask you a question? It has nothing to do with writing.” I asked.

“Sure,” he replied, still walking toward the auditorium.

“How did you lose your weight?”

He stopped dead in his tracks. I worried I offended him, so I tried to recover, “I mean, as a plus-sized person, I admire that you have been able to reach and maintain a healthy body weight.”

He smiled and faced me, “Good question. Cycling across America helped.”

“Okay, other than riding across the country, do you have any tips or suggestions? I’ve been fighting this battle my entire adult life.”

Don was so kind and sympathetic – he knew exactly what I meant, as he too carried more than half his body weight for many years. He explained he works out three times a week, cut out sugar, and starts his day with a healthy shake. I gave him a brief overview of 12 in 12, and he seemed genuinely interested. I asked if I could feature him on the blog, and get this… he gave me his email address, so we can chat about this sometime!

To think, had I given into my fear, I would have missed out on the remarkable experience of attending a life changing conference, exploring a beautiful city, and meeting wonderful people.  Fear is loud and tries to intimidate. Love whispers and encourages. Fear paralyzes, but love does.

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To view my Week 51 Food Journal, click here.

If These Walls Could Talk

The state-of-the art office building where I work was constructed a dozen years ago right next to our old building, which was built in the 1960s. The new space is stunning, it’s light and airy, and everything we need is under one roof.  We have a cafeteria, a fitness centre, and an auditorium.  Unfortunately, our industry went through a difficult period several years ago, forcing us to downsize by more than 50%. As a result, we could no longer afford to own the building, so we sold it and became tenants in our own home.

A few months ago, the new owners decided to demolish part of the new building, as well as the old office, in order to sell the land. It’s heartbreaking to see this beautiful structure crumble around us.  Day after day, bulldozers, excavators, and other rumbling machines have been tearing it down brick by brick. I can’t help but think of all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into erecting it, and how it’s taking a fraction of the time to demolish it.

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So, what do bricks and mortar have to do with weight loss? According to Marianne Williamson, author of A Course In Weight Loss, each and every one of us suffering with an addiction or compulsion, has subconsciously built a wall around us separating us from the world. The metaphorical bricks used are unprocessed thoughts and feelings, which have been embedded in our flesh.

Marianne claims that each brick has a word etched on it…. Shame. Anger. Fear. Unforgiveness. Judgement… you get the gist.  We’ve barricaded ourselves behind our wall instead of dealing with what these words represent in our life.

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In her first lesson, entitled, Tearing Down The Wall she asks us to write down what each word holds true for us in order to dismantle the barrier.

Shame and Unforgiveness

This demolition is necessary if we want to free ourselves from our prison. It might be overwhelming at times, but it’s imperative for our healing.

I don’t know much about deconstruction, but just by observing what’s happening at the office, I’ve noticed that there’s special equipment for each step of the process. Like this thingamabob I’ve dubbed the ‘Rock Biter’ which chews up the enormous concrete blocks into itty-bitty rocks, making it easier to remove.

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Maybe that’s what we need to do… bring in special equipment, like a trusted friend, or therapist to help us chip away at our bricks until they’re nothing more than granules.

I’ve just started this lesson and I would be lying if I said it was easy. I would also be lying if I said it wasn’t worth it. The first brick I picked up was ‘unforgiveness’… boy, was it heavy! I’m still chipping away at it, but the smaller it gets, the lighter I get – and I’m not just talking weight wise. My heart feels like it’s full of helium as I let go of past hurts. The next one I tackle will be ‘shame’ – it’ll be a doosey, but I trust it will only get easier with each brick that comes down.

For my Week 50 Food Journal, click here.

Sample Platter

Marianne Williamson’s, A Course In Weight Loss has me digesting more than healthy food, it has me sampling healthy thoughts and beliefs as well.  Below is a short video – an appetizer, if you will – of a few quotes from the book that whet my appetite and is nourishing my soul.

Bon appétit!

The Missing Ingredient

Like most young girls, I learned to cook at my mother’s side.  She’s a wonderful cook, so you would think that I would be too. Wrong. No matter how much I try, my dishes never turn out the same as hers. Mine taste rushed, but hers taste like comfort. I asked her what I’m doing wrong and she explained that I neglect to add the key ingredient… LOVE.

Really? Love?! And where, pray tell do you find ‘love’ in the grocery store? Is it in the spice aisle between the garlic salt and mustard powder? “How do you add ‘love’ to a dish?” I inquire. “Ah! Much to learn, the young generation has”, she replied, sounding much like Yoda’s Nonna.

As I pondered her comment, I began thinking of all the things I do love…. I love God. I love my daughters. I love my family and friends. I love traveling. I love laughing. I love writing. I love going for walks along the lake. I love my church. I love movies. I love seahorses. I love organizing. I love birds. I love sock monkeys. I love my city. I love disco. I love curling up with a good book on a rainy day. I love volunteering. I love the free samples at Costco. I love playing Yahtzee. I love jumping on my mini-trampoline. I love Curious George. I love to give big momma bear hugs. I simply love to love, so when I learned that compulsive overeating was an act of self-hate, it knocked the wind right out of me. All this time I thought I was comforting myself with food, but instead, I was abusing myself.

Wow! This revelation got me asking myself, do I love me? I meditated on that for a long while and came to the sad realization that I don’t.  The more I thought about it, the more it disturbed me… how can I have sooooooooooo much love to give, and not direct an ounce of it toward myself? Messed up, right?!

Addicts experience levels of self-loathing that cut to the very core of our beings, and we punish ourselves with our substance of choice.  We’ve come to believe the lies we tell ourselves… I’m worthless, I’m stupid, I’m not good enough, there’s something wrong with me, etc.

Where did these beliefs come from? For me, I’ve accumulated them throughout the years, ingesting them in the form of binge-foods, and I now carry the consequences, not only on my hips, thighs, and butt, but in my spirit as well.

In order to free my spirit of the weight it carries, the final plan in my yearlong experiment goes to Marianne Williamson’s, A Course In Weight Loss where she guides students through “21 spiritual lessons for surrendering your weight forever”. How’s that for a claim?  I’ve never been on a diet that addressed my spirit!  And get this, the key ingredient to her method is… LOVE!

This course is not about your relationship with food; it is about your relationships with love. For love is your true healer.

-Marianne Williamson, A Course In Weight Loss

Each plan I’ve tested throughout 12 in 12 requires a lot of pre-work, and this month’s plan was no different.  Sometimes, I must read and study a book or guidelines (The Start Here Diet; Eat Right For Your Blood Type; The Mediterranean Diet); attend meetings (Weight Watchers; 12-Step Program for Food Addicts); invest in equipment (The Biggest Loser), or supplements (The Hormone Diet), or purchase specific foods (The Caveman Diet; Whole-Food, Plant Based Diet); create visualization tools (The Gabriel Method); or keep my eye on the clock (The 8-Hour Diet).  A monumental shift in my spirit has already occurred as a result of my reading A Course In Weight Loss, and I haven’t even begun to do the assignments yet! What’s wonderful about the plan is that Marianne tells you exactly where to find the love and how to incorporate it into your life.

This course is not so much about your relationship to food as it is about your relationship to your Creator. In healing your relationship with Him, you heal your relationship to yourself; and in healing your relationship to yourself, you heal your relationship to everything.

– Marianne Williamson, A Course In Weight Loss

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To learn more about the plan I’ll be following for Month 12, click here.

The Results Are In

To find out how much I lost last month when I tested The Gabriel Method, click here.