For decades I acted “as if.” My night stand was piled with legal pads filled with scribbled affirmations suggesting I was happy and grateful for everything in my life: from waking and appreciating my first conscious breath of the day, to experiencing my teetering moods and ongoing adversities.
In my early thirties I began writing morning pages, repeating the same slogan twenty six times: “I love myself exactly as I am;” or “I am healthy, happy and wise.” Being ritualistic by nature, this positive addiction eventually created new grooves in the record of my life, which had worn thin by my negativity needle. New healthier tracks eventually were heard through the speakers.
Fast-forward twenty years. The obsolete records have been discarded, my mind no longer polluted by worn out mantras. The turntable has been replaced with state-of-the-art tools and digital devices for changing patterns fast. Still, some habits are harder to identify and change.
Being a chef, my food disorder was disguised for decades. I would graze throughout the day eating raw vegetables as I prepped for the dinner crowd. Even after I moved into management, my workday began with the chef preparing my breakfast. At home, my refrigerator sat barren as the tundra, jars of condiments dotted the door, and white boxes like snowdrifts lined the shelves. Back in those days I did not eat leftovers.
After completing the 12 steps in AA, I was asked to lead a group of adults with food addictions. At the time I was smug, after all I was a CHEF, what did I know about food disorders? Eating was my life not my adversary. After two years of facilitating the group, my distorted relationship to food revealed the dried out food in the cardboard and styrofoam containers.
Still, it took many years to realize the relationship between the inside of my refrigerator and the state of my spirit. While it was easy to share my recipes when I had an audience or dinner party, cooking for myself was a burden. Many years passed before I fully grasped the notion that feeding myself was essentially showing myself that I care about myself.
Affirming actions have replaced the written word. The refrigerator is stocked with leafy greens and garden vegetables, some of which I grow. And there is not one single take-out box on the shelf. Most meals are cooked from scratch. Since returning from Peru in April, I have gone deeper into the “take-out boxes” in my life. For the past two months, I have been going through all the hidden corners, the closets, cabinets, tool shed, and dresser drawers, determining what still fits.
The summer solstice is upon us. Next week is the longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. This is a great time to shine light into all the dark corners of your life. Look in your refrigerator; is it a lush garden or a stark glacier? Then visit your closets. Are your spaces an accurate reflection of your insides? Make a list of affirming actions you can take right now in your life.
Make a commitment to do one simple thing every day this week to align your inner and outer worlds. By the end of the week you will be singing a new summer song.