I was rooting around in my photo files for something interesting or entertaining to post when I ran across this photo. YIKES! The quite fat woman in the green top is ME back in April of this year. This was taken at a pow wow and the gal in white dancing behind me is my BFF Jeanne.
Holy freakin' crap -- it's hard to believe that I was actually THAT fat not too long ago. If you ever need a reference as to what 70 inch hips look like -- here ya go! See how red my face is? That's not sunburn, it's from the exertion of "walking" around the dance circle-- about all I could muster as a native dance at that time.
I almost didn't post this. I am not so far removed from this as I would like to be, so looking at it is hard. We all know how easily I could be this again if I allowed it. It scares me. In the end, that is WHY I decided to post this.
Besides, as I was MIA for two weeks, I owe you something juicy! LOL
Seriously, I have been very thoughtful these past few days and have been wanting to sit down and make a good post about everything I've been thinking. Then I had this really amazing experience yesterday-- and I'll get to that in a minute.
Before I got sick, I reached a point where (in terms of the fitness) I was not acting out of passion but just going through the motions. I wasn't "cheating," as I was doing the exercise and walking and eating as I should-- but there was no enthusiasm.
I do not know how realistic it is for me to not only succeed, but to do it with joy and passion, to feel enthusiasm about my commitment. I was starting to approach exercise like doing the laundry or the dishes --- something I had to do.
Then I got sick and that brought me even farther away from the "me" that I was a few months ago who was on fire with joy, determination and enthusiasm for losing weight and getting fit. I was finally recovered from the flu when we got the bad news that a friend has cancer and has no more than 6 months to live.
And so these past few days I have been thinking a lot and trying to steer myself back into a good place (inwardly), to be able to keep moving forward on my fitness journey from a place of power and enthusiasm. Two days ago, I sat quietly, almost meditatively, and thought about how I felt when I made my trip out to the Sun dance this past July.
I recalled how difficult it was to walk around the airport and to wait in line at 400 pounds. I relived the humiliation of having to purchase two seats and to have to ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender. I revisited all the memories of that trip that were difficult and caused by my weight.
I didn't do this to depress myself, but to remind myself of how committed I was to change when I came back from that trip. This week, I put myself back on the sort of carb/calorie/fat controlled way I was eating back in the beginning; and really threw myself into the exercise. I can feel my focus returning more each day, thank heavens.
Then yesterday, I took a walk around my neighborhood and thought about the rez again, but this time, the more positive and empowering aspects of it. I will explain it more fully another time, but, at sun dance, the dancers are isolated from family and friends for four days. They sleep outside and they do not eat or drink.
From sun up to sun down, they dance and pray. They pray for everyone except themselves. This is not something one does for themselves, but for others. Their sacrifices are not "punishment" but offerings to the Great Spirit from the only thing we really have-our own body, heart and soul.
I was one of the supporters, there for my Lakota nephew, Bernie, and sat under the arbor around the dance circle with my friend Jeanne and the locals. As a supporter, you bear witness to the sacrifices of the dancers . The only thing you can give them is the gift of your presence.
One transforms in this atmosphere. There are not words to describe it. Every day I sat there praying for a way back to health and fitness, for myself. (The dancers don't pray for themselves, but the supporters do). Every day I cried and cried. For my own suffering, and for the suffering of the Lakota people, which is very evident while you are there. Everyday, I felt the spiritual power around me growing, as 30 dancers went without food and water, and danced their prayers all day in the intense July heat.
On the fourth day, something happened that let me know my prayers had been heard. Those who do not believe in spiritual things will think I am crazy, but I don't care. Each dancer has a prayer pipe or a medicine pipe (what some would call, in error, a "peace pipe"). Sometimes the dancers wish to honor particular people sitting under the arbors. They send one of the helpers to fetch you at the end of a dance cycle. The helper escorts you to an opening in the dance circle and you and the others who have been chosen, stand across from the dancer who has chosen you. After the drummers and singers do a particular song, the dancer hands you his pipe, which has been packed with prayers in the tobacco. You bring the pipe back to your area and share it with the people around you, releasing the prayers. Afterwards, there is another ceremony to return the pipe.
First of all, it is an honor to be picked for this, so I was in a state of shock that it was happening. When I was standing across from the dancers waiting to be handed the pipe, the energy I felt coming from and around the dancers was nothing short of staggering. There was a woman there from England who had come the year before and was healed of uterine cancer. There were many people and stories there like that, and standing there across from the man holding out his pipe to me, feeling what was in the air, I understood how anything could be possible.
Later, sharing the pipe with those around me, I understood that my prayers had been answered and that the strength and courage and faith of the dancers was available for me as long as I wanted it and acknowledged it and respected it. I KNEW that I had been sent spiritual aid and that NOW is the time to change. I could not reject that blessing and got into serious work on myself the minute I got home.
Right before I got sick two weeks ago, I was starting to forget how I felt at that sun dance. I MUST do this, not only for myself, but for them. I want to return there in July as a new person and be able to say "Look how your prayers helped me!" I want them to know that their sacrifices matter and make a difference.
In any case, I was out walking yesterday and thinking about fitting on the airplane in July so I PUSHED myself like you wouldn't believe. When I got home--- my phone rings and, OMG, it was the holy man who runs the Sun dance that I attend. He was calling to check up on me and give me the dates for this coming summer's dance.
Coincidence? I choose to believe that timing like that is rarely a coincidence. It really blew my mind to hear his voice when I was just out walking and thinking about the sun dance and how much it has meant to me.
Bottom line is that I am on fire again and it's great! I am working my ass off with enthusiasm! My goal is to return to Sun Dance in 2010 as a fit person and I intend to do so!
Anyway. I have a busy day that I must get back to but just felt compelled to share all of this hoping some of you will understand. Be good to you!