Time and space to digest

“How’s Whole30 going? What day is it for you?” my girlfriend texted me. I interpreted my having to stop to count on my fingers to be a very good sign. It’s true though, eating sans sugar, alcohol, legumes, grains and dairy has gotten to be much less time and energy consuming. I’m getting the hang of this. I say that, though I keep catching hidden sugar in items that I believed to be sugar-free, like the wild caught smoked salmon I’d been eating with scrambled eggs and scallions the past three mornings. There it was on the package, in plain view, “evaporated cane juice”. You can’t really assume anything that comes in a package is sugar-free, unless you read said package. Lesson learned. Again.

Another slip-up came when TJ made taco meat while I was away at a yoga class. He normally spices the meat himself, so I didn’t even ask while loading up my salad with it. I gobbled it up and remarked jealously about how creamy and tasty it was. Mine always seems to be way too spicy or else missing something. Later that day, while wearing mala beads on my wrist I noticed that they were again leaving welts. Darn it! Being able to wear them without issue the last week had been such a nice treat. I sighed and resigned myself to the fact that maybe this crazy diet wouldn’t be able to pinpoint why I swell so much. It wasn’t until the next day that I noticed the open Organic Garden of Eatin’ taco-seasoning packet in the cupboard. TJ had added some to his own seasonings. First item listed in the ingredients (not on the package itself, but the information is available on the internet): organic rice flour, third item: evaporated cane juice. This little discovery about the rice flour both gives me hope and discourages me. For now I’m just adding it to my field notes.

I’m obviously scrutinizing my food quite myopically, but believe it or not, I feel like this radical program is broadening my vision and creating space in my life. This reminds me of when I started to carve out time to practice daily sitting meditation. How could adding another to-do give me more time? But it’s true. Despite the fact that I’m teaching two more classes than I did before Christmas, writing a blog post every 3-4 days and incessantly planning meals, there seems to be a cushion of space around my activities. My duties are not all up in my face. I’ve got two theories to explain this phenomenon. One is that because of my commitment to Whole30 and to sharing this experience publicly, I am trying incredibly hard, harder than usual, to be mindful. The other is that due to my diet and life-style, I’m experiencing life with much less fog and thus am better able to focus on my tasks at hand and respond to life instead of react. Either way, I’m appreciative of the gap I’m experiencing, and I’m seeing more clearly the connection between cultivating mindfulness and cultivating a life-style that will support mindfulness.

The increased space of which I write is not just a matter of the clock. Yes, I’m awaking earlier and staying up a bit later, but I also feel space around my relationships. Max has had a couple of pre-teen meltdowns in the last week, and instead of being sucked into the drama in a completely useless and exhausting way, I am able to be empathetic yet firm and confident that all is okay in the world and this too shall pass. The same goes with his brothers’ shenanigans. I’m seeing more clearly what is mine to take on and what is not. I see it in my marital relationship too. TJ and I had a loud disagreement the other night, and though it was as painful as always, I believe I did a better job standing up for myself assertively. I have a habit of getting so fearful of his ability to rapidly and loudly construct an argument that I shut down. I didn’t shut down and I didn’t search for solace in a glass of wine or a bowl of chocolate covered almonds. I didn’t take one problem and load another one (poor sleep and a foggy a.m.) right on top. And I believe the night ended with both of us feeling heard.

Whole30 and the reflection that comes with writing about the experience is giving me time and space to digest what is happening in my world and in my gut, and things are looking good. Life seems more sparkly today than it did a month ago, more hopeful, curious and playful. Though it’s still January, Spring is in the air.

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