hello, sugar fiend. er, friend.

I let go of a lifelong heavy sugar habit about two years ago.

That may sound like it was instantaneous. (it was not.)

And it may sound like I never eat sugar any more. (I do. and, it’s just not possible to ‘never eat sugar’ if you’re, say, a human who eats food ever.)

Over a period of three or four months I eliminated about 85-90% of the excess sugar in my diet, the majority of it refined, but a surprising amount “natural.”

As you can imagine there were some pretty sweet (see what I did there?) benefits: my moods stabilized, I lost weight. My immune system could support me better because I was supporting it better. Unexpected and oh-so-welcome results were the calm-focused-centered states that became my new normal.

But this ain’t gonna be all “This Is How I Did It So You Do It This Way Too”.

And it definitely ain’t gonna be “Sugar is the Evil Demon and We Must Battle It to Extinction!”

‘Cause, well.. NO. Surprising, maybe, but there it is… and if you love waving that battle flag, you’ll be wanting to slip out the side door right about now. (you’re welcome.)

I’m writing this as an honorarium of sorts, feeling strangely grateful.

A far lesser version of my sugar habit, without tentacles and hooks, has circled back to pay me a visit.

There’s been plenty-much discomfort, in psyche and in body.

I’m learning a lot during this visit (“hello, sugar, my old fiend friend, you’ve come to talk with me again.” Nod to Simon & Garfunkel.) I’m seeing how numbing out and self-medicating with sweets was a pretty savvy option for many years, sometimes the only one I knew to try. And I’m seeing how my judgment of myself for doing that, later (known as “hindsight bias”) turned into the bigger detriment to my health.

I’m even starting to grok that I may’ve been a wee bit invested in my roller-coastering mood states, conveniently held in place by my roller-coastering blood sugar levels and body chemistry. (Yeah, that’s a weird one to contemplate. And yet, as I simply acknowledge that investment, recognize it ever existed… I can feel it ceasing to exist. Farewell!)

I wasn’t ready for this stuff two years ago. So it’s back.

Thank goodness for that.
I was unable to see this front view of the mountain while I was still standing ON the mountain.

The wisdom goes that any habit we have – lotsa sugar, or smoking, excessive reading of words – exists because it is serving us somehow. It has something to teach us, or is there to help us/ protect us/ allow us to cope or function in some way.

When its work is done, it will go. Far, far away.

(If we will allow it to go.)

For now: no rush. A little gratitude. Glad to know that the parts I still need will come back when it is time. “That which is For Me, is never lost.”

Leaving the door open for this visiting teacher to slip out when it is time.

It really is that simple.


the only way to fix the world is:

.. to stop trying to fix the world.

Tell me if this rings a bell: most of my life, especially during my growing-up years, I knew an insatiable need to fix others’ hurts, stop their pain, and generally make it all better. The closer they were to me, the more I felt their pain and thought it my duty – my purpose on earth! – to relieve them of it.

I was certainly right about the part where I “felt their pain” because – I know now – I was taking something onboard that didn’t belong to me. I was feeling their pain, without any of the rich detail of their context, their experience, their life-view. Just, the pain.

The part I never understood: once I took it into myself, it wasn’t their pain anymore. It was mine, and I’d feed it like I’d found a starving stray animal… and by feeding the pain, I was flowing all my attention to it – insolently forgetting that whatever we give our attention to is amplified. Still, I’d think this existential discomfort was theirs. And I’d try to make it all better, y’know, for them.

So there they were, having their own experience and getting whatever they needed to get out of itbeing in their own business, doin’ their thang. Perhaps having some major life-crisis or mid-level growing pain, or (most often) the little misunderstandings between people who love, but do not understand, each other.

I was. not. okay. with. that. Here I’d come, watch what was happening, and put myself in their place and imagine how painful it must be. How painful it would be for me.

Then I’d assign myself the duty of – fixing it! (Hear that bell ringing again? welcome, friend!)

The simple truth: the real reason I’d try to fix someone else’s pain was to alleviate my own discomfort.

(I cringe, thinking of it. Even the memories sting. But stinging truth always feels better in the long run than cushy lies.)

I caught myself doing this again a few days ago with someone I’ve danced this particular dance with for a very very long time. (Details are their biz and not important here. Which I get. now.)

The great kindness of experience is that it shortens the frequency and duration of visits to our old hells, and when we remember to breathe back into calm and simply observe ourselves, it’s possible to See. With a measure of compassion.

So when my old hell returned as a new fresh one, I could See, first, that the level of pain I was experiencing “on someone else’s behalf” was completely under my control.

[interesting aside, here: in this case, observing myself, I noticed that the more I tried to “solve the problem” and mentally referee for the players involved, the more actual physical pain I felt. “I’ll be the diplomat, though you never asked, though you don’t even know I know what’s going on, and get a skull-splitting headache in the process.” Now, THAT got my attention!]

I’d put myself into their business, after all. I could take myself out! (and, lordylordy – they could .. have their own experience! how nice for them!)

And. and.

By letting them have their own experience, and refusing to take their pain and make it mine, I stopped hurting… and gave them space to do the same.

Instantly, and once and for all, I saw it: I’d been increasing their pain, and my own pain, by pouring the fuel of my attention on it.

The very opposite of my heart’s kindest wish.

Now I know. And when I perceive a dear one’s pain or struggle or discomfort and feel the old tug to insert myself, to “fix” it, I ask myself this question: is my desire to help born of discomfort?

Or compassion?

love to hear your thoughts on this… please share in the comments, or private message me. thanks for being here! Kathleen.

no more “survival badges.”

So much value is ascribed to being able to “out-survive” others – and ourselves:
“oh, you lived through that?
Well, I can live through.. THIS!”
We award big points for getting through it, ’cause life can be just so damn hard.

And then, because life is – in fact – ridiculously accomodating and convenient here in the 21st century, we have to create or attract or construct the very “just so damn hard” scenarios we are to overcome.

Is this way of doing things a throwback from times when war and deprivation were front and center, and people-still-living-now cultivated tough skills for tough times?

Perhaps it’s leftover, outdated cultural programming from the 80’s and 90’s, when “pushing ourselves” (read: “punishing ourselves”) as far as we could go – 168-hour workweeks, no sleep, and little use for subtle or simple joys – would win the badges of honor.

Or, maybe this a newer competiton, pervasive in our reality-TV culture, where snark, shame, and “there-is-one-winner-only” are the new norm (“it gets viewers!”) and calm, reflective stability is just not considered good television at all.

What if..?
What if we are now living through the time when the primal, reptilian brain that exists in all of us – the amygdala on constant Defcon-1 alarm – is sensing that its time of being center stage and running our shows through fear is coming to an end?

Could it be that the current collective need to out-angst, out-pain, and “out-survive” each other (and ourselves) is evidence that this way of doing things is making its final death-throes gasp for – survival? (ooh, chills!)

Imagine a new time – and I do feel it coming – when we set aside the need to collect “survival” badges –

and, instead, collect the rewards for simply living.. well, and with kindness.

I can imagine that.