It started with some pickle juice; an attempt to ease a headache that was going on 30 hours… I was exhausted, I hadn’t been able to remember things for hours and was even forgetting the conversation I was having mid sentence before finally excusing myself for bed by 7:30pm.
Once I drank a sip though, I was soon eating a pickle, and then some blackberries… Before I knew it I didn’t have a headache, but I was definitely not fasting anymore either. My evening binging monster got me again the moment my willpower had run out.
Offering Myself Forgiveness and Understanding
I have felt a lot of things today about what happened last night. A part of me wanted to give up this morning, feeling amazing until the realization of why I didn’t have a headache anymore sank in, truly for the first time.
I felt like a complete failure. I felt sad and frustrated with myself. I was angry too – I had been working so hard, just to blow it?!
I let the discomfort come and go, deciding to resume my fast, noting that a mistake is only a failure if you let it stop you. So, I forgave myself and then started looking for clues to my behavior, trying to understand what happened and why so that I can be more prepared to handle the same situation in the future.
Finding Unlikely Allies Amidst the Disappointment
I began to think over the incident with curiosity instead of judgement and was surprised by what I found. Despite “disobeying,” my body and compulsion really tried to keep to my commitment in their own subtle way. Somehow, I managed to stay under 500 calories during my binge, which, given that it was all I ate yesterday, still left me in a caloric deficit sufficiently low enough to still encourage the cellular and metabolic benefits of “fasting.”
How? Why? I’ve been pondering this all day. I believe I was asking too much, too fast, and this was my body and mind’s way of letting me know that.
Yet, given the lack of conscious control I displayed last night, I can’t help but believe that they don’t want to stop the fast either. Somehow, by finding that moderation between my extreme ideals and completely giving up subconsciously last night, I now feel more encouraged to continue than ever!
Redefining Success… Again
I can see now just how much my ego wanted to be calling the shots for my fast. It created an almost impossible regimen, probably to trap me in failure and give me a reason to return to feeling sorry for myself. Well, not this time.
I’m adjusting my regimen accordingly, allowing for some watered down bone broth when I feel overwhelmed by detox symptoms. I may find other supplementation as well, but I am still beginning every day fasting and will not be exceeding the 500 calorie mark for the remainder of my water fast (the juices I will start consuming on Tuesday will bring me out of this extreme fasted state, and I will continue supplementing as needed but without calorie restrictions).
The point of this process isn’t to prove myself perfect at fasting, it’s to learn and discover things about myself. Therefore, last night’s “mistake” has been just as essential to this experience as any other one will be.
Extending My New Conceptions of Moderation
This experience actually helped me to release attachments of my ego in another respect as well. I have been trying to abstain from making purchases of “things” since October 2019 but have found myself breaking that commitment to buy presents for international friends at Christmas time and now considering purchases as I will be exploring alternative housing options in the second half of 2020.
I will be taking my cats and living as a nomad from my van for at least 3 months, traveling through many western states and even British Columbia – so I ordered pet IDs and Passports for both my cats. I also bought a bike and am looking at a trailer/stroller combo for my cats so that they can accompany me when I leave the van too. Despite these things becoming necessary as upcoming changes in my life have become apparent, I have felt incredibly guilty too (oh ego, can’t you just leave me be! I’M TRYING).
This recent experience has helped me to cement a growing suspicion I’ve had lately: it’s not about buying nothing, it’s about buying the right things. That’s why I bought a bike: I love riding but have never owned my own bike as an adult, I also believe it is one of the most efficient modes of personal transportation, and essentially it’s a purchase that will bring me enjoyment, improve my quality of life and expand my sustainable independence.
Learning, Adapting and Growing in Love
The peice of my personal New Year’s Divination in which I was told what would help me achieve my goals this year is making more and more sense: “balance and moderation.” I have always been an extremist, and it’s always fed my ego’s proclivity to self-sabotage. Well, not any more.
Sure, I’m me – I will probably never stop trying to challenge myself – but, I’m starting to realize that doesn’t always have to include extremes. I can still learn from this fast, even with a more practical regimen. I can still be a mindful consumer and make smart purchases.
What’s important is that my goals are actually benefiting me. Adhering strictly to extreme ideals might be appropriate for a professional athlete who sacrifices their body for their sport, but I’m seeking an optimal and masterful lifestyle for myself. Which I’m beginning to find also means I am seeking a more balanced and moderate lifestyle.
Accepting My Own Grace and Appreciation
I just finished sipping a cup of warm broth. I have a slight detox headache but have managed to subdue the light-headedness I had as a result of trying to do too much today. I’m feeling silly about it, but appreciative that I am committed to providing myself with what I need – even if my ego has to step aside.
I’m sure I will find new ways to make mistakes on this fasting journey, but I am determined to offer myself grace again and again in order to continue and overcome. After all, there really is no ultimate that I am trying to achieve. Optimization and mastery are never ending – they are a way of succeeding as well as a way of failing.
In these ways, I’m finally learning to trust myself at 31 years old. Yes, I have traumas to heal, bad habits to overcome and good ones to create, but I’m also an incredible soul, mind and body that have chosen to align for the betterment of this world. I can’t do everything, but I can do the work of healing and use it to encourage others by sharing what I learn. And you know what? I think I’m happy to be just that, that I am.
Blessed be darlings! May you all offer yourselves the grace to find balance in your own lives as well.
This article was originally written by mayryanna foran online project called Naturally Subversive three years ago.
What does it mean to be fundementally revolutionary? How can this exist safely in a world so properly versed when it inherently represents subtext and innuendo? How does it survive when its very existence is considered an act of violence against the reigning standard?
A Tradition of Lies
We’re all familiar: turn on the television, glance at your smart phone or in a shop window and the “ideal” is readily available to be seen. It looks sleek, it looks put together and successful, it seems desirable (after all people are literally lining up to to try and emulate the latest trends like they’ll never go out of style), but what’s really going on here? Our world isn’t so cookie-cutter-esque when you think about it, at least, not naturally.
The Ugly, Imperfect and Unique Truths
Long before the iPhone or Apple’s crazed die-hard followers, back before even Amazon and Ebay allowed you to get your hands on anything you thought you could want, and even further still to before print media and advertisements, people existed and were found to be desirable, even valuable to one another. But how could this be? We know from being inundated with flashy images and panic inducing FOMO (fear of missing out) that you can’t possible be a worthwhile individual without being in on (read: buying into) the latest trends right!? When we look at modern culture through any lens other than that of lack and consumerism we begin to notice the cracks in it’s meticulously painted frame; could it really be that we’re all just humans trying our best to adapt and survive?
What persists in nature is what ultimately changes and grows to meet evolutionary demand. We’re not alone in the existence stuff, even if we’ve forgotten that as of late, and in reality, life is only possible because of the diversity is boasts. Sure, we like to think we could live without plants or animals (at least we act like it), and we like to think that humans are the greatest thing to ever evolve, but really we’re a bit disillusional. The truth is, we didn’t get this far on our own and we won’t make it much further if we insist on going solo now. How does this relate to the so-called “successes” of our modern age? Well, what good is Steve Jobs without the Apple army? How much business would Amazon and Ebay do without the online shopping addicts? In reality, we’re all involved in a symbiotic relationship with the rest of existence and the choices we make will always contribute to our experiences. So, responsibility being ours, how exactly did we find ourselves in this mess of inauthenticity?
Taking Back Our True Value
This is what being Naturally Subversive is all about, remembering our own innate revolutionary power. It’s about looking at an advertisement of a whole bunch of different individuals who’ve been blacked out and seeing that the shiny little device they’re holding and dancing around with is what’s truly invaluable. Those people had to be muted because they have individual power, they are unique, they have stories to tell even if they never say a word. Those devices however? They’ll be replaced in 6 months and there will be a new advertising campaign geared directly at making people feel once again somehow “less than” without this new “totally improved” and totally replaceable device. Are you starting to see the cracks yet?
Being a revolutionary is as much about defending yourself and your own value as it is defending the value of truth. In order to subvert the norm, you have to have a confidence and strength that too many are just too manipulated to see. I know because I was one of these indoctrinated people. I was indoctrinated by my father, made to believe that his authority and truth were somehow more worthy and valuable than my own. I was indoctrinated by Christianity, made to believe that my behaviors could make me more or less valuable. I was indoctrinated by America, made to believe that I wasn’t worthy unless I was proud of this country I call home. I was indoctrinated by society, made to believe that a degree and a job would finally make me feel the fulfillment that had always slipped out of my unworthy reach. I had to find out the hard way that I was very, very wrong.
If your story is anything like mine, than the idea of being rebellious and going against tradition is tied up in ideas of shame, guilt and “sin.” It is not easy to stand up for yourself, but that doesn’t make it wrong. My personal journey has been ongoing my entire life, and the vast majority of it I’ve been “loosing;” believing the lies, convinced that I just need “this or that” to finally be happy. The steps I had to take pushed back each and every time, but the desire for more, the desire for true and free living kept me going. Along the way I made choices, some “good” and others “bad,” but over time I stopped classifying and began to understand that any “ideal” is an illusion itself. The past is ours to build from and the future ours to build towards, but all we really have is the present moment. I was sacrificing my moments for the sake of meeting standards I didn’t create for myself or understand, and by doing so I was sacrificing my own value for these illusions. It wasn’t until I started taking back my time that things really started to change.
Defending your time is a violent act in our current society where “time is money” and money is god. Still, after asserting myself and taking back the time I spent (and paid big bucks for) at university and learning to govern my own education, I had become addicted. After college, I managed to land a great job with office, benefits and perks, but – I’d already tasted the freedom and I couldn’t ignore the calling I felt deep within to GO! So, I left. I took back not just a day or two a week but ALL OF IT. I had less than 1500$ to my name and no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I couldn’t stay there and just play along any more; I had a sneaking suspicion that I was worth more.
I’d love to tell you that as soon as I left my job everything came together and life just made sense, but that’s not how it works. Instead, there I was, newly divorced, unemployed and soon enough “homeless.” I had gone from being the friend all my college peers were envious of to the girl everyone talked about to the tune of “she lost her marbles.” Yet, I was happier than I had ever been. Somehow, even though there was no “magic solution” that made everything possible, I made it through each and every month and not only could I pay my bills, I was delighted to find that I was spending less and less money. Rent was now gone, utilities were also gone, I sold my car and got rid of insurance payments and before I knew it I had managed to get myself down to exactly 0$ in monthly bills. I lived with friends and family, depending on where and when I was needed, and somehow by focusing on contributing to the lives of people I cared about, my needs were also met. Minimalism became important for survival and I was no longer forcing myself to fit into modes of productivity and worth that required endless buy-ins and one-ups. I eventually even gave up my phone network, learning new ways to utilize my devices without having a tethered leash. I was finally happy, and I was as poor as I’ve ever been.
Defending Your Inherent Value
In a world that’s constantly telling you how you’re not good enough, what you don’t have and how you’re failing, being confident in your own value and worth is a revolutionary act. It won’t be easy and people who are still hedging their bets on the matrix will tell you again and again that you are wrong, but you won’t care anymore because you’ll be able to see yourself clearly for once: as a valuable and worthy human being. Of course, this also changes the way you see everyone else, especially those who are still miserable slaves to the system. Instead of the pride and ego attained by “doing everything right” and “playing by the rules,” you’ll have intrinsic confidence that overflows into compassion because you no longer feel like your success is dependent or could be threatened by anyone else. You’ll stop asking permission and start taking chances. You’ll find the ways you never new existed but always felt must be possible – you will change your whole life, and that my friend will change the entire world.
On “Columbus Day” I celebrate Indigenous Peoples, on Christmas I celebrate Yule, and while others give thanks today I will be joining in, but with my awareness on the Displaced People around the world. That’s the true meaning of Thanksgiving to me, both with regard to the pilgrims when they came to America, and now as well with the Natives who have subsequently been displaced as a result of those settlements and my nation’s sordid history.
It’s not as simple as just giving thanks though, at least not for me. This holiday is one of the most gruesome and difficult, because this awareness of truth I soulfully maintain thrusts my consciousness into acceptance of all the evil humanity is capable of (as well as the good).
Does it lift people’s spirits? Does it make for great conversations? Is it trendy, popular or fun? No, it is none of those things we’ve been groomed to expect from our Holy Days, but it is a Holy Day none the less.
My grandmother was taken from her childhood home at just 9 years old. Sent to live in a “starvation camp” with her grandmother, brother and cousin, none of them would ever make it back to that house again.
My great grandmother Anna did indeed starve to death in that camp. My grandmother waking in her cold, stiff arms one day when she was just 12. Anna had been holding the tiny, malnourished girl as she had slept, and my grandmother had to cry out for someone to help her escape her own grandmother’s rigor mortis.
My own fortune began long before my birth or even my mother’s birth, when that brave, malnourished little girl dared to escape that camp – and did. She made it out alive, and this began her official journey as a displaced person, eventually leading her and her remaining family to seek refuge in America when she was 17.
Honoring the Pain
My grandmother is my hero. Her grandmother too, and I am so proud to bare her namesake as a part of my own (why I prefer MayryANNA to just Mayry).
I come from an incredible lineage of strong, caring and brave women. My great grandmother would serve the little bit of moldy bread they recieved in the camp as a gruel to the children before herself, and that sacrifice alone enabled my grandmother’s survival. To this day my grandmother recalls her innocence of not knowing what was happening when her own grandmother “scraped out the bowl” in order to feed herself after serving the kids.
My own grandmother has since gone on to make Anna so proud: making it through the hiding and unknowns of her displacement, coming to a new country and learning a new language, building a life and a family in North America, overcoming again and again. Yet, my grandma, in all her strength and success, is still displaced.
She will never return home. The trauma and great loss of her young life has scarred and scared her. One of my sister’s is now a missionary in Northern Macedonia (used to be Yugoslavia when my grandmother was a child) and has visited the town where my grandmother grew up – but my grandma is worried that if she ever went back to Eastern Europe they won’t let her leave (given her experiences, that of course makes sense, even despite the actual probabilities), so she refuses to visit.
It hurts me to see the repercussions of humanity’s evil still affecting my grandmother decades after her traumatic displacement. Yet, in honoring her, I must also be grateful.
I have never been displaced myself. I have grown up strong and proud as an United States Citizen, and I have enjoyed the perks of that designation my entire life.
Here in Colorado, I live on land once claimed by the Ute peoples and feel their lingering presence daily. I’ve found a rough carving of a bear that is somehow attuned to stand only when looking at a neighboring mountain (a highly charged site I suspect was considered holy or sacred), taking notice of hobbled trees and trying to find the ancient paths they once marked.
This is my home, now, but it is not only my home. It is and has been so much more, to so many more – and it will always be more. In a way, we humans are all displaced, we are all seeking a safe home and the opportunity to flourish on land stolen from our ancestors and borrowed from our children.
The land remains, yes, but so do the crimes. The memories, the traumas and the pain – all of that gets passed on too. Which is why I choose to remember, especially on this day: freedom isn’t free, true love does the tough thing and peace is hard won (often by heros in grandmother’s clothing).