Workshop Addicts

This post is also available in: Spanish

Lori and Isabel have been in New York for the last week. I have missed them both very much. I have so many things to blog about right now it is an embarrassment of riches as they say. I wanted to know all about the workshop they attended and I asked Isabel to tell me about it, this is what I got (I was eating a cinnamon roll wearing a new shirt when I read this, the end made me cry! OH, and note, she even remembered to put an “h” on my name!):

Dear Sarah,

Lori and I had such a good time at the Omega Women’s Conference in New York (April 1-3) that we decided to go back every year. We may become workshop addicts. We had three enlightening (and very entertaining) workshops, one with Geneen Roth about the way we handle food and we spend money, and two about resilience with Joan Borysenko. There you have two wise spiritual women who also look great!

With Roth I learned a lot about food and money. I had never seen the connection between them but the truth is that the way one does something is the way one does everything. That means, for example, that if one overeats without paying attention, trying to compensate for loneliness, anxiety or any other negative feeling, most probably one buys unnecessary stuff with the same compulsion and for the same reasons. Eating and shopping can never satisfy the perpetual hunger of the soul. What do I really want?  What would feel good in my body? We live in a mad culture that emphasizes body image and consumerism. The mark of our madness is when we accumulate more than we need.

I came out of the workshop determined to never weigh myself again, eat only when I am hungry, and think before putting anything in my mouth. The same for shopping: buy what I need and think before I do it. My closet is full of several identical black skirts and tops, absurd dressy stuff that I never wear, and high heels in which I couldn’t possibly walk. I keep buying make-up with the fantasy that a particular shade of lipstick will give me Julia Roberts sex-appeal.

Borysenko taught about resilience and strength. She said that resilient people are not pessimistic or overly optimistic, they are realists. Pessimists take everything personally, they are paranoid or they blame themselves. Optimists tend toward magical thinking and usually end up very disappointed. Realists, however, evaluate the problem and look for ways to optimize their possibilities. Resilient people can think outside the box, they have a sense of humor, they reach out for support, and they are not afraid of change, because for them difficulties are challenges. They hang in there when the temptation is to bolt away from scary situations.

Part of the workshop was about faith but not religious faith only. In one of the exercises we had to get in pairs—terrified, I clung to Lori—and each person had five minutes to talk about faith from the heart, without thinking much. I discovered that I have faith in my capacity to get back on my feet and my intuition; I have faith in Willie, my current husband, Nico, my permanent son, and Lori my blessed daughter-in-law. I also have faith that everything in the immense universe and beyond is connected, we are all particles of the same spirit, unlimited, indestructible, divine, so I don’t have to worry about my minuscule self or my minuscule (albeit wonderful) life.

Joan Borysenko talked a lot about forgiveness because, how can you be resilient if your energy is wasted in grudges and you live in the past? The first step is to forgive oneself, then to dispute one’s negative story. People often play the victim in their own life stories. I don’t have that problem: I am always Zorro in the narration of my epic life. As a writer, I know that if I change three adjectives in a paragraph I can change the tone and the mood of a scene. Here’s an example: It was a cold and rainy day when the maiden met the bulky stranger who would change her life. Now change three adjectives: It was a crisp and luminous day when the maiden met the handsome stranger who would change her life. Personally, I have chosen carefully the adjectives to create my own Technicolor legend. Try it. Don’t worry if it digresses a little from the truth, nobody is checking.

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