Category Archives: perspective

Brownie’s Point

While I was putting myself through college, I worked at a local diner where I met people from all walks of life.  Most people were congenial, except for one customer, an older man, whom the servers dubbed “the grouch.” And grouchy he was.  Plus intolerant, unforgiving, and a terrible tipper, if he tipped at all.  No one wanted to wait on him. He brought many a server to tears with his abrasive attitude and harsh comments.

Well, wouldn’t you know it. He hobbled in one evening and sat in my section. I heard the other servers snickering.  I took a deep breath and sauntered his way with a smile.  I offered him a menu and a hello which he disregarded.

“Gimme the meatloaf special,” he growled.

“Great,” I said.  “What would you like to drink?”

“If I wanted anything to drink, I woulda told you!” he snapped.  All heads in the restaurant turned our way.  His hostility stabbed me.  My first impulse was to launch an attack and conquer this angry, bitter man, but I had to heed our “customer is always right” policy if I wanted to keep my job.  I turned to storm away but stopped and returned to his table.  I could hear one of my co-workers behind the counter, “Don’t do it, Mac, don’t do it.” I stood, mustering up the courage to confront (and defeat) him.

“Why are you still here? Get outta here, and get me my damn food!”

I remained.

And then he looked up at me.  What I “saw” was a scared, sad, lonely, hurting soul.  It arrested me.

This is not about you.  He’s in pain.  The anger I felt lifted, and compassion rushed in to fill the void.  Without thinking, I sat down next to him, kissed him on the cheek, and whispered, “I don’t know you or what you’re going through, but you don’t have to be so mean.  I am not the enemy here.”  With those words, I kissed him on the cheek again, and walked away.

He left me a 100% tip that day.

From then on, Brownie refused to sit in anyone else’s section.  He still gave the other servers a hard time when I wasn’t there, and I’d lecture him about it the next time I saw him, but over time he softened. We grew to become friends over the next year or so, until his passing.

I’ve often thought about Brownie over the years.  I valued his wisdom and knowledge, especially as a struggling college student, trying to find her way in a world that seemed so confrontational and confounding.  Any time an event unfolded unfavorably, it was my habit to take it personally and to take it out on others, just as Brownie did.

I came face-to-face with myself the day I met Brownie.  His lashing out was not about me, yet on a deeper level it was. If I had attacked him, then I would have been attacking myself. I would have perpetuated unkindness.  And I probably would have lost my job.

Rather than approach things with a desire to conquer, I approach them now with curiosity.  Well, I try…I’m still a work in progress. Instead of a compulsion to take things (or people) down, I try the path of quiet exploration, of seeing things from another perspective.  I’m willing to pause and observe, to consider options and possibilities beyond that instinctual desire to attack.

I’d say that’s progress.

Thank you, Brownie.  Your lessons remain with me.

Holy Cow! A Lesson In Bovine Beauty

Study an animal long enough, and it may provide you insight to carry into your own experiences. We usually associate certain qualities with certain animals.  Dogs are loyal, and cats are curious.

I took a lesson from a herd of cows today.

Nothing seems to bother them.

They graze.

They laze.

They are sociable, staying in the same part of whatever field they are in.

They are a happy lot. They are content no matter where they are.

In India, the cow is a provider of milk. It is also equated to one’s mother. Cows are sacred for many reasons in Hindu mythologies and tradition. Kamadhenu, for example, is a divine bovine-goddess described as the mother of all cows. She is the wish-fulfilling cow and is honored through the veneration of all cows in general throughout the observant Hindu population. Because they are sacred, it’s not unusual to see them roaming the streets, completely unharmed.

When I was sojourning in Kathmandu, Nepal, on my way to the Himalayas, I remember watching a cow striding down the middle of a highway without a care in the world. Cars slowed down to move around her. People even threw vegetables toward her to honor her spirit. The experience touched me in a very deep place.

She was one happy cow.  It was as if she knew she had the endorsement of the entire universe behind her existence.

Looking at the cows in the field today reminded me of that experience in Nepal. I saw them not as walking hamburgers or receptacles of milk, but as symbols of the Earth; they give so much of themselves without expecting anything in return. . .such innocent creatures who are comfortable just being themselves.

That’s something to be happy about.

A Spiritual Approach To Weight Loss

When I was a personal trainer, I worked with many people who hoped to lose unwanted weight (or perceived excess weight). Women, in particular, struggled with their body perception. They constantly compared their bodies to others, and they could not understand why they weren’t losing weight.

More often than not their reasons to lose weight had to do with vanity rather than health. They wanted the flat tummies they had pre-children. They didn’t want their husbands straying from the marriage because they had gained weight. They were the ugly ducklings in high school who had an upcoming reunion and they wanted to exact their revenge. The list could go on and on.

I realized that these women were stuck in a negative body image cycle; there were deeper issues at play. They lacked a spiritual approach to fitness. As part of their physical routine, I’d give them a spiritual prescription to follow.

1. Change your perspective on weight gain or issues. We have been conditioned to believe that weight gain is a negative thing. We want to zap it as quickly as we can. Weight gain is nothing more than your body getting your attention. Are you leading a stressed lifestyle? What is your current relationship with food? Do you need to administer more self-love and less self-judgment? If you are looking at your current weight as something despicable or disgusting, the weight is not the issue. Instead, it is your reaction to the issue that is causing the weight gain. Weight gain usually means you are insulating yourself from something else. From what (or whom) are you protecting yourself? Use this as an opening into showing you what you may need on a deeper level. This calls for you to go inward to examine what changes need to be made on an emotional and spiritual level.

2. Keep a food diary. Tracking our food intake not only tracks what we eat and when we eat, but why we eat. It can also show why we are not eating. Note your emotions when you eat. It will show you what kind of relationship you have with food. Do you find yourself eating whenever you get off the phone with your mother? Or after you’ve had a fight with your spouse? Do you find yourself snacking because you are bored? Do you find yourself not eating because of stress from work or home? Take an honest look at your eating patterns and the emotions behind the eating. These are clues into the bigger issues in your life that need addressing.

3. Use positive affirmations. The best defense you have against failing is to create the right mental attitude. Every time you tell yourself you feel fat, you are reinforcing a negative image and the negative vibration associated with that image. Negative thinking can greatly affect the body’s ability to metabolize food; it stresses the body by releasing “stress hormones” (cortisol) into your system, thus reducing your body’s ability to perform effectively. If you have a negative attitude toward working out, you’re actually causing more stress on your system.

Instead, move forward in your thinking through the use of positive “I AM” statements. These statements will shift your energy and move you toward feeling healthier, lighter, and freer. It’s important to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want, so keep them in the present tense (example: “I am making healthy meal choices,” rather that “I am not eating unhealthy food anymore”). “I AM” statements can be said aloud or written down, but they must be practiced every day to be effective. It takes between 21 – 30 days for new habits to develop.

As we use affirmations, the brain actually creates new neural pathways for these thoughts to travel to help you create a new you. Losing weight is not about running away from your weight; it’s about loving your body and understanding its needs. You created it through your choices. Now it’s a matter of reframing those choices in a more positive light. Weight loss is more than calories in, calories out.

4. Make your mirror your new best friend. Do you find yourself avoiding your image in the mirror? Or, when you do catch a glance of yourself, do you give yourself a critical look? If your best friend were walking down the street, would you ignore him or her? No, of course you wouldn’t. You’d say hello and exchange pleasantries or make plans. Why ignore yourself? Your mirror is not the enemy. Make friends with it. Practice your affirmations in front of it, looking yourself in the eye. Get intimate with the person looking back at you. Notice all of your positive features. See that person as a beautiful creation, a one of a kind design, a once-in-a-lifetime being. Smile back at yourself and show yourself some love.

5. Use the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). EFT is an effective technique to release unconscious blocks, past emotions, or buried traumas. It involves tapping various points of your body and takes only a few minutes. More specifically, it is a form of psychological acupressure based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture, only without the use of needles, while voicing positive affirmations to remove any emotional blocks. You can read more about it on Kathy Hadley’s page, which includes a tutorial video, or you can visit the EFT page for more extensive information. This technique will help you to release any resistance you have toward reaching your goal.  See video below to help you better understand.

6.  Love and accept yourself unconditionally. Believing that life will be better once you lose weight is a trap. Thinking that something is wrong with you because your body doesn’t compare to others robs you of truly living in the moment. Instead, be grateful and truly appreciate what you have. See yourself as the beautiful, deserving, worthy, lovable creation that you are; this is how the Universe created you. Be kind to and gentle with yourself. Read my post on self-love for ways to help you open up to unconditional love.

We all want to live more fully and authentically, and sometimes we think that losing weight is the answer. We think it will make us more confident, more attractive, more loving, or more fun. But we can be those things without losing weight by addressing our emotional and spiritual needs first. As we resolve those issues, we remove unwanted blocks within ourselves, and we find that losing weight simply becomes an added benefit. Taking care of ourselves requires more than just burning fat cells. When we uncover the underlying reasons for wanting to lose weight, most times we will find that vanity (ego in disguise) is the culprit. Shifting our perception about weight and body image from one of dread to one of self-discovery and self-love allows us to approach life from a more holistic and enlightened point of view.

If you have anything to add, please feel free to share your thoughts below.