It was only a week ago that I was sitting in a grocery store parking lot, zestfully shoving cookie after cookie into my voracious, salivating mouth. The shoving, crunching and compulsion were familiar, yet the cookies came from a hand I didn’t recognize. I saw my hand, my body, my physicality in the third person. This isn’t my hand. This isn’t what I do. This isn’t me. THIS ISN’T ME. This is what OTHER people do. I’m stronger than this. Yet the unfamiliar, indifferent hand persisted. With each eager shove; with each sweet, firm, plump chocolate chip crushed between my honed teeth, I silently repeated… “Fuck you, Hollye. Fuck you, Hollye. Fuck you, Hollye…”
And then at once the cookies were gone. There was a moment of relief: it was over. A desolate cellophane wrapper sat shotgun, hazed with oil and exhaustion. Cookie crumbs graced my lap, like seeds of a viscous aftermath soon to sprout. There was silence. And then came the loathing.
In the past several months, I’ve developed what I now identify as compulsive overeating, or binge eating disorder. It’s been hard. I’ve gained weight. I’ve talked a lot of shit to myself. I’ve felt terrible about my body, my gastro-indulgences, my perceived lack of willpower, my imperfections. And I’ve had moments of relief, love, and pure acceptance. But mostly: loathing; self hate; body shaming; fear of “what other people will think”; a frustratingly persistent obsession with my body; a disconnect from my feelings and emotions; exhaustion from the broken-record cycle of binge, loathe, body shame, sadness… binge, loathe, body shame, sadness….
And so, this morning I went to a yoga class. I take classes often. I teach classes often. Sometimes things click physically. Sometimes things click mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Sometimes a nugget of insight or wisdom from a teacher has an impact. This morning was one of those days. There was an excerpt read from the following post by Glennon Doyle Melton:
Your body is not your masterpiece — your life is.
It is suggested to us a million times a day that our BODIES are PROJECTS. They aren’t. Our lives are. Our spirituality is. Our relationships are. Our work is.
Stop spending all day obsessing, cursing, perfecting your body like it’s all you’ve got to offer the world. Your body is not your art, it’s your paintbrush. Whether your paintbrush is a tall paintbrush or a thin paintbrush or a stocky paintbrush or a scratched up paintbrush is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that YOU HAVE A PAINTBRUSH which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life — where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.
Your body is not your offering. It’s just a really amazing instrument which you can use to create your offering each day. Don’t curse your paintbrush. Don’t sit in a corner wishing you had a different paintbrush. You’re wasting time. You’ve got the one you got. Be grateful, because without it you’d have nothing with which to paint your life’s work. Your life’s work is the love you give and receive — and your body is the instrument you use to accept and offer love on your soul’s behalf. It’s a system.
We are encouraged to obsess over our instrument’s SHAPE — but our body’s shape has no effect on it’s ability to accept and offer love for us. Just none. Maybe we continue to obsess because as long we keep wringing our hands about our paintbrush shape, we don’t have to get to work painting our lives. Stop fretting. The truth is that all paintbrush shapes work just fine -and anybody who tells you different is trying to sell you something. Don’t buy. Just paint.
No, wait. First, stop what you are doing and say THANK YOU to your body. Right now. Say THANK YOU to your eyes for taking in the beauty of sunsets and storms and children blowing out birthday candles and say THANK YOU to your hands for writing love letters and opening doors and stirring soup and waving to strangers and say THANK YOU to your legs for walking you from danger to safety and climbing so many mountains for you.
Then pick up your instrument and start painting this day beautiful and bold and wild and free and YOU.
- – -
I’ve thanked my body in the past. I’ve asked my students to thank their bodies. But today, it was different. I thought about my body, sitting in the car, shoveling cookies and repeating the words “Fuck you, Hollye.” I thought about my body, lying on my yoga mat. I wiggled my fingers. I felt my hands. MY hands. What a gift, these hands. What a gift, these arms. What a gift, this whole body and it’s health, vitality and wellness. And with all of my heart, with compassion and gratitude, I said thank you. “Thank you, Hollye. Thank you, Hollye. Thank you, Hollye…”
Every day is a gift. I am not healed, but I am healing. The fuck you will return. The thank you will return. And I am grateful for both.
From fuck you to thank you, I am blessed to have this life, this body, this paintbrush, this humanity, this Hollye.
Love Loudly. You Are Beautiful.
I’ve been fighting with myself for several months surrounding food. I spent (and spend) a fair amount of time thinking about food. I used to love browsing recipes and finding new things to make. About a year ago I started following a vegan lifestyle, and in the past few months I developed an obsessive need to “control” everything I ate, and berated myself for any “slip ups”. It became overbearing and extremely frustrating. I felt dis-empowered, sad and often labeled myself as “fat”. Typically my mornings would feel refreshed and I would feel strong and capable. But by 3pm, I was snacking a lot and typically making excessive choices into the evening hours. I’ve been fed up with these habits for months, and last night I wrote in my journal about how to move forward.
I’ve decided that more than “exact eating” or “controlled eating” (following a particular label or plan or “never eating ____ <enter food here>”), for me, it’s absolutely about MINDFUL eating. Because I TRUST that when I am mindful, I will make GOOD choices for myself.
Tonight I was eating a salad and was struck (stricken?) by how much chewing it takes to eat a dinner-sized salad! It felt incessant! I noticed that when my mind wandered — “I need to text my friend about that thing.” “Oh, I meant to look up that topic on google.” “Ooh, I finally have a chance to open that book that I’ve been neglecting.” — I noticed that my wandering mind created FASTER chewing in my body. But when I returned my attention back to my food, back to my mouth, into “being here now,” that my chewing slowed down. That I actually I smiled and felt peaceful. That I was more aware of my surroundings, more conscious and present. I even began watching a little ant trail nearby, marveling at how every single time two of them crossed paths, they paused and had a brief interaction. In 10 minutes of watching, there were only two ants that didn’t connect. I observed something I probably wouldn’t have, had I not chosen the mindful path to “be here now”.
I guess the point is, I’m excited about mindful eating. I started a food log, not to count calories, but to simply become aware of what I fuel myself with every day. I’m consciously putting my fork down between each bite. I’m consciously swallowing before picking up my fork again. I’m taking time to notice the texture and smells of the food. I’m closing the door to external distractions. And sometimes, I’m even taking a deep breath between bites.
I am mindful.
I am empowered.
I am Hollye.
It’s been a long time, Hello Cozy. Too long. Since last I wrote, it has been an amazing journey full of joy, bliss, confidence; doubt, fear, and fatigue. But mostly, joy.
Someone asked me what it was that instigated a change in my path; in my life — what was it that lead me to take a step onto the path of yoga; the turn toward inner inquiry and sharing my bliss.
My answer: “I met myself, and things changed.”
I don’t even know where to begin. So for now, let me dip my pinky toe into the water by saying hello and carrying on with a few photos from months past.
Chard’n in the Garden.
Fresh ink (yes, it’s true).
Venice beach chick, for awhile.
My favorite fuzz.
Vegan jackfruit tacos from Plant Food for People. So good!
Hydration in fuzzy form.
Poppy fields forever.
Sunset and wellness.
Journaling at Cafe Gratitude.
Hello cozies! It’s been far too long. I miss you. I miss this place of sharing.
On new years day, I wrote a few lines to take with me throughout the year:
I am Hollye Holbrook.
I am beautiful.
I am mindful.
I am strong and compassionate.
I take time to pause; to notice the in-between times; to breathe.
I exude love.
I am love.
Most often, feeling really full feels pretty bad.
I am certainly a culprit of overeating, more often than I’d like to admit. When I eat too much, I feel heavy, sluggish, and usually “guilty” for the over-consumption, perceived mindlessness and lack of discipline.
However, I was in the car the other day and it struck me that I felt really full… in a good way. I felt so full, I wanted to pop. The fullness didn’t come from consumption of food, it came from taking a breath–a gentle pause–and realizing the many things that I am thankful for: so many wonderful people, creatures and things in my life; my body and health; the ability and opportunity to explore; authenticity; growth; change… and, you.
You, just the way you are.
The world can be harsh. Reality can really suck. People can do terrible things. Nature can wreak havoc.
But there is so much space for love, kindness and compassion. There is always a capacity to reach out. To listen. To smile. To hug. To uplift. To give. And, to receive.
So today, let us pause for a moment and remember all of the good things that fill us. Let us smile a little bit brighter, laugh a little bit longer, and… love loudly.