It’s Day 2 of a 28 Day Challenge to publish daily. I’m doing it through DareMe, where for 28 days I’ll be hosting and cheering other Daily Publishers on. We’re challenging each other to post and publish daily. Whether it’s on your own blog, newsletter, social media, or sites like Medium, Vocal, Wattpad, Substack, TikTok, Instagram or more, it’s a chance to practice in public.
This year, I plan to push myself to publish more. I’m also going to vary it, trying different platforms, and perhaps, even a pen name to practice publishing fiction.
I’m excited to do this!
It’s a reminder that I CAN do hard things. It’s a reminder that I don’t have to be perfect.
Perfectionism and the shame of procrastination as a result of it is what’s been holding me back. Worrying about all the rules, how to be perfect with all the rules, has been holding me back. To hell with rules!
This month, I will “post and ghost” (a term I heard controversial podcast host, Joe Rogan, use as to how he keeps pushing content out there without worrying about other people’s judgements and criticisms). I will not worry if I have zero claps. I will not worry if I actually suck, or made glaring typos.
Yesterday, I listened to one of my favorite writers in the entire world, Jhumpa Lahiri, talk to Sam Fragoso about watching her mother die until she was no longer there, like a flower that had finally withered away.
Then I discovered Weyes Blood, found on the latest podcast episode with Sam Fragoso and watched and listened to the latest song on YouTube: “God Turn Me Into a Flower.” It seems to be a montage of humanity in the last several decades in our country (USA)—anguish, beauty, joy, sadness, sickness, death, and violence.
What bittersweet synchronicity.
We are all flowers.
Delicate, and here for only but a short time.
We are all flowers.
What will we leave behind?
“God Turn Me Into A Flower”
Jhumpa Lahiri on Why She Writes:
“If I want to understand what moves me, what confuses me, what pains me—everything that makes me react, in short—I have to put it into words. Writing is my own way of absorbing and organizing life. Otherwise, it would terrify me, it would upset me too much.
What passes without being put into words, without being transformed and, in a certain sense, purified by the crucible of writing, has no meaning for me. Only words that endure seem real. They have a power, a value superior to us.”
This quote made me weep. It’s why I write, why I journal, a way to process grief, unprocessed emotions, instead of repressing them or acting out in an Incredible Hulk sort of way that consumes yourself and hurts others in your path. Writing is a way to reduce chronic stress, which as I’ve learned recently reading Dr. Gabor Mate’s WHEN THE BODY SAYS NO, is one of the reasons many people fall prey to disease and illnesses such as cancer, ALS, MS and more. As a person who has struggled with people pleasing and being nice for most of my life, I’m learning more each day that when you can’t say no, your body will say no for you.
We are all flowers. We are delicate, we are beautiful, we are strong. We are all flowers. We are destined to fade away.
Sonia Choquette, who I wanna be when I grow up, suggested starting an “I love…” list. There’s something about her, this vibrant and beautiful woman, that makes my heart sing. I love her energy, her frequency, how she makes me feel possibilities and potentials in my own life, for our world. With people like Sonia out there, it gives me hope.
One of her tricks, she says, for vibrating higher, is to start an “I love…” list. Ever since I discovered her existence this year, I started keeping an ongoing list. I don’t do it every day, but when I do, I add it to the one I started in this note-taking app: Obsidian. (It’s now my favorite place to connect the dots and write in. Yes, it just dawned on me to add this to my list — I love Obsidian.)
This is what I wrote today:
Folding laundry – it’s such a comfort when to-dos with deadlines are looming; matching pairs of socks feels like the ultimate mission of humanity, up there in importance as curing cancer or homelessness
Watching Theo sleep curled up in a ball nestled against a pile of folded t-shirts from the clean laundry, his chest rising and falling softly while Pumpkin cleans him with the gentleness of a mother who loves unconditionally. These cats have no cares in the world. They’re not worrying about deadlines or to-dos, about being late and making someone mad, losing their job, their reputation and self-respect. They are just living, being who they are–creatures of this earth who are authentically alive.
The feeling of clarity I get when fasting, in ketosis; it helps me be able to handle everything on my plate right now.
Having gone to the gym, that feel-good feeling afterwards, knowing you are gaining muscles and your bones are becoming more dense, less brittle even as you age.
Reparenting my Inner Rebel Child who needs structure in her life, feeling held, knowing that my Higher Self, my Authoritative Parent within is in charge, not the neglectful Permissive Parent who lets her run amuck and do/eat/drink/spend all the things.
The act of writing, of sharing.
When you write down your “I love…” list, it puts you into this incredible emotional state that makes you feel ready to face your to-dos, the people in your life, and the world.
As someone who often finds herself holding her breath without realizing it, or rigidly breathing in an attempt to “be perfect”, softening into my breath means relaxing into it. Letting go. Letting my breathing, my actions be easy.
With my body, which when I really think about it, has been tense and constricted for much of my life, softening into my body would also mean letting go. Not holding onto muscles, ligaments, tensely as if bracing for a car accident. Now that’s not an easy way to live! Instead, how can I relax into my body? To breathe into a tight chest, a constricted belly, to relieve the weight of my heightened shoulders? Softening my body means taking myself for a walk. It’s putting my warm hand on my tender heart and holding my emotional pain, whether it’s fear, grief, anger, envy or shame. Seeing it, holding it with tenderness like a loving parent without any judgement. Just pure unconditional love.
Softening into life means not “should-ing” myself to death about work, health, finances, parenting or anything. Softening into life is letting go of perfectionism. Letting go of rigidity. Softening is about trusting in life. Trusting that things will work out. Trusting that you will figure it out. Softening into life is slowing your pace, not rushing yourself, not pressuring yourself. Not blaming or shaming yourself for where you are now. Softening into life is focusing on the Now. Just this beautiful moment you are here, reading or writing. It’s me listening to the ocean beach waves on my “llama life” timer, where I had written “Write blog post” for 15 minutes, feeling held by the gentle structure I have given myself before diving back into client work.
Softening into life is me showing up to do the things I say I want to do, like practicing publishing. Like practicing the craft of writing. It’s submitting to a Medium publication (note: I got accepted!) even though I’m scared as hell but doing it anyway, practicing self-soothing techniques like tapping or havening. Or just plain slow walking.
Like I did earlier this morning after I went to the 6am Warrior Sculpt class at the gym. I knew I still needed more before facing all of the big client deadlines today, so I took myself out for a long slow walk past the beautiful Central Austin Library, along Ladybird Lake, where I strolled pass other walkers, joggers, kayakers, dogs, turtles and squirrels. As I listened to sad songs (my favorite!) I came across my favorite green leaves. Past the pull-up bars and before you get to the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue facing the new Google sailboat-shaped building are little trees, almost shrubs, filled with tiny fern-like leaves. These leaves just make me happy. The world could turn to sh%t and if I just softened my gaze onto these perfect green leaves, my heart would sing with bliss.
This is what softening into life feels like to me. Just you gazing at verdant green leaves, enjoying your morning walk before the hot sun arrives overhead.
Today is also Day 30 of my 30-Day Challenge to show up here everyday on my blog to publish and write. I’m really proud of myself for doing this for myself. It’s a gift to show up for yourself, to do the things you say you’re going to do without beating yourself up. To soften your heavy gavel, your rigid ways, and just let yourself be.
Softening into your life is a matter of intention. It’s you deciding to soften your gaze, to soften your stance, your usual negativity and put on a different pair of glasses. To stop making life be so hard.
As I meditated just now, the phrase –“Low Stakes Writing” — floated into my head. That’s what my blog is. This practice I’ve developed recently when I decided I was going to publish everyday, for 30 days, a blog post as a way to teach my nervous system that it isn’t so high-stakes to write, finish and publish. Now on Day 29 out of this 30-Day Challenge (using Austin Kleon’s printed template), I have taught myself that showing up to write daily IS possible. Even when you think you don’t have anything to say or share. Even when you don’t feel like showing up. Even when that voice tells you to *just F&ck it — you can skip a day.
That voice is that bad friend who whispers for you to cut school, to go buy that ecourse you can’t afford, to go down an endless doom scroll of nonstop bad news. To skip your workout class, to forget about the novel, to stay up just a little longer. To drink several nights in a row even though wine makes you wake up in the middle of the night sweating.
Of course, there are times when you do need to listen to that “f&ck it” voice especially when you’re driving yourself too hard and need to relax and restore. Or if you’re listening to all the voices out there telling you who or what you ought to be or do. The art is finding that right balance of productivity and restoration time. Finding your authentic self.
Structure and Accountability
It helps so much to have structure and accountability. I feel so much gratitude for all my sources of accountability in my life. I meet writing friends to write and meditate (some daily, some weekly, some monthly via Zoom). I meet a friend regularly to go to the gym. I go with my partner daily to strength train. I’m also grateful for resources such as Jia Jiang’s Sisyphi camps, to work on cultivating good habits.
And beginning today, I decided to bring back structure around my mental and metabolic health by starting a 30-Day Fasting Reset, following Dr. Mindy Pelz’s book, Fast Like a Girl. Today is Day 1 and I just feel so held knowing I’m now under the umbrella of a more structured plan. Because I am postmenopausal now at age 51, I decided to mix the 30-Day Fasting Reset, the advanced version (since I’m pretty familiar with fasting) with the brain health version that helps with mood regulation such as anxiety and depression, as well as memory loss).
My 30-Day Fasting Reset Schedule
So this means I’ll be following this schedule that I adapted:
POWER PHASE 1 – Ketobiotic Food Day 1-5: Autophagy Fasting (17 hours) Days 6-7: Dopamine Fasting (48 hour fast) Days 8-10: Autophagy Fasting (17 hours)
Got hungry and broke fast at 16 hours (11am first meal, dinner last night around 7pm). Ate arugula salad with leftover chicken thighs with skin, whole avocado, olive oil, pumpkin seeds, saurkraut and leftover low carb dressing made with olive oil, soy sauce, wasabi.
Felt extremely nourished and satisfied!
I love the reminder Dr. Mindy Pelz says in her book as she prepares you to undergo her 30-Day Fasting Reset:
Have compassion for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for making a mistake or slipping one day. That sort of negative walk will only discourage you. This should be fun. Be curious about what your body will do during each fasting length…Experiment with what you like to break your fast with the most. The body will heal more quickly when you approach this process with joy and excitement for the journey.
Reparenting My Inner Rebel Child: An Act of Self-Love
I’m really excited to get back on track again. Even though I’ve been eating different versions of low-carb keto, more or less, since 2014 (when I first discovered it when my partner got cancer, now in remission) when stress increases in my life and I start to feel overwhelmed, I can easily fall back into unhealthy eating and too much drinking, so having structure, like following a plan like Dr Mindy’s book is like self-love and self-care, basically me reparenting my rebel child self who wants to stay up all night, spend money and eat and drink all the things.
But mental and metabolic health is my top priority in life, so I’m gonna do what it takes to make sure health is my biggest wealth as I move towards the finish line that we all will face. I want to live to my full potential while on this earth, be a better human, and do the things I want to do, like write.
When I focus on protein, I tend to feel better mentally. It’s also a great way to help lose excess weight. But most importantly, it’s how I feel that I mostly focus on. My brain has more clarity and I tend to feel more satiated, less prone to snack or crave high carby junk foods that shoot up my blood sugar and insulin sky-high.
What are some easy protein sources?
Eggs – Eggs are fast and easy. You can eat them hard-boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled, fried, made into an omelette, dropped into a broth, made into an easy frittata with whatever leftovers you have (ex. spinach, ground beef, cheese), poached to eat for a delicious Eggs Benedict made on top of Canadian Bacon or just slices of avocado with Hollandaise Sauce
Nuts – Walnuts, almonds, macademia, pecans, pistachios, nut flours (mixed with eggs you can make low-carb keto-ish paleo breads or muffins)
Chicken – we like to buy chicken thighs with skin-on and bake in a hot oven with salt and spices like garlic powder, paprika; drumsticks are delicious too. Also rotisserie chicken is an easy way to fix a meal such as chicken salad with mayo or you can, like my good friend, an elementary school teacher who will sometimes just eat an entire rotisserie chicken for lunch
Beef – ground beef is affordable and easy; we love adding Siete taco seasonings to make an easy burrito bowl with guac or fresh avocado slices, salsa; we also enjoy eating rib-eye and NY strips. And of course, brisket from Terry Black’s in Austin, walkable from our apartment
Tofu – we love making my dad’s favorite Chinese dish: Mapo Doufu
Beans – Black beans, chickpeas (great for making hummus!), kidney beans add to a salad
Protein powder (available: collagen, dairy, dairy-free/vegan, pea protein, vegetarian) – I add collagen into my coffee or smoothies with some MCT oil.
Bone broth – you can easily make with bones from chicken, beef, fish. Just add water and cook in a slow cooker, and a dash of apple cider vinegar to pull out the minerals from the bones. Great paired with one or two eggs beaten in a bowl and poured into a roiling broth. Add some sliced shallots, white pepper, salt and a dash of sesame oil, and you have yourself a healthy delicious Asian soup to eat for breakfast or dinner!
Around 4am this morning, I awoke in a panic. My chest, my belly, my entire torso, was constricted and tight. Throbbing. Like a boa constrictor squeezing a mouse that was my torso. Emotional pain had now, as it always did, transformed into physical pain.
2) I still felt some constriction. So I practiced Dr Brad’s 4/6 breaths (i.e., inhale regularly out of your nose for four seconds, exhale through pursed lips for six seconds) over and over until I just felt ease. Expansion. A shimmering coolness come over my torso, chest, belly. Easy breathing 😮💨
Miraculously, I was able to fall back asleep! 💤
But I should note: this was not a one and done thing. I did have to repeat this a few times. And when I awoke for good later this morning, I felt more anxiety about all the things I said I would do, all the things on my plate. I repeated this above and like a magic incantation: it worked!
I’m parking this recipe here to help, the next time you awake in a panic in the middle of the night, or honestly anytime, for my future self (who easily forgets tools for bliss) or for anyone who happens across this page and finds it helpful.