Monthly Archives: May 2013

Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Exercise (with Eric)

fivequestionsonExercise

with Eric Hall

1) Describe your relationship to/experience with exercise. If it has changed over time, describe the change.

I started exercising when I was a sophomore in high school.  I think I mainly started to become more attractive to women and to feel better about my physical appearance.  My exercise habits have changed over time depending on how busy I have been.  In 2007 I exercised for around 3 hours a day, 5 days a week.  In 2009 I ran 7 days a week.  I still exercise but it usually last around 1 hour each time and it happens around 3 times a week.

2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?

It has helped my self-confidence when it comes to my looks.  I have had compliments about my muscles.  That always makes me feel good.  Right now I am still in pretty good shape but I am very aware of unwanted fat on my body.  At times that fat makes me feel less secure about my appearance (I know this is unhealthy).

3) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you relate to others?

It has given me conversations with others that exercise.  I know to some girls it has made me more attractive.  At least from their comments that is what it sounded like.  It has also taken me away from spending more time with people (I will talk about this more in questions 4).

4) How has that relationship/experience affected your spiritual life?

At times my exercising habits have become an obsession.  I refused to spend time with others because I HAD to get my exercise routine done.  I, one time, made my family wait an hour after they had driven 6 hours to come see me because I HAD to exercise.  This was extremely unloving and very selfish.  This was a sin, so obsession with exercise negativity affected my spiritual life.  But…I do believe that as a follower of Christ I am to be a holistic person.  This means I should try and be as healthy as I can be spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I do believe it honors the gift that God gave us, our bodies, when we exercise.  But as I mentioned, exercise can sometimes become an obsession, which is unhealthy and sinful.

5) What word of wisdom or encouragement would you offer other people on a similar journey?

Exercise, but within reason.  Don’t let it become an obsession.  I do believe that it can be a way to honor God, which is great.  I also do not believe that it is wrong to also do it to make yourself more attractive to yourself and others.
 
Ocean Me 

What about you?

Have your own answers to these questions? Why not share them? Email your responses and a recent picture to bodytheologyblog at gmail dot com.  You can also post anonymously if you wish.

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Eve Ensler: Suddenly, my body

Today I’d like to share with you the beautiful, honest story Eve Ensler shares of her journey with her body.  (Fair warning, you’ll hear the words vagina and rape.)

Poet, writer, activist Eve Ensler lived in her head. In this powerful talk from TEDWomen, she talks about her lifelong disconnection from her body — and how two shocking events helped her to connect with the reality, the physicality of being human.

To improve is to change…

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. – Winston Churchill

There have been a number of changes here at HBTB over the last few months, which some of you may have noticed.  The most recent change is the new web address.  Welcome, dear readers, to HolisticBodyTheology.com!

I’ve been spending a lot of time getting my new spiritual direction website, lauraknowlescavanaugh.com, up and running and updating my social media accounts in the last few days.  Now it’s time to give HBTB a new look worthy of the .com upgrade.

Due to the makeover, I won’t be posting much this week, but please be sure to stop by and browse around to see what’s changed.  I may also be enlisting your opinions on Twitter and Facebook, so be sure to share your thoughts along the way.

 

 

Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Dating/Singleness (with Anonymous Girl)

fivequestionsonDating/Singleness

with Anonymous Girl

The post below is a deeply vulnerable and honest response to the five questions.  Because it is a little longer, I included an excerpt here with a link to the remaining questions. You won’t want to miss the end!

1) Describe your relationship to/experience with dating/singleness.  If it has changed over time, describe the change.

In high school, I fell in with the “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “True Love Waits” crowd, of my own volition.  I dated a boy for 6 months, but we never kissed.  (Years later, he came out as gay, but that wasn’t a shock.)  In college, my idea was that I wanted to be friends with a guy before I started dating him.  I had serious crushes on a few guys, but they never seemed interested in me, and I wasn’t too concerned about dating.  Dating was only for when you were actually interested in getting married and had time to invest in such a relationship, and I knew I wasn’t ready for that in college.  
 
Post college, my time opened up dramatically, and I was really mad at God that I wasn’t dating anyone.  I thought that was a perfect time to meet someone, date them, and then get married.  Nothing else in my life was working, so couldn’t God at least throw me a bone on that front and let me meet my husband?!  I went through some serious depression (due to a lot of issues), and eventually started my life moving in a better direction, with more hope.  Still no one worth dating came across my path.  From time to time, someone VERY interesting to me would appear, reminding me that somewhere out there, there IS someone interesting whom I will meet and marry, at least I hoped so!
 
At 25, I moved to California and developed a huge crush on a new acquaintance.  Who two months later started dating my polar-opposite roommate.  And two months after that, they were engaged.  I was hurt and disillusioned, figuring that I obviously didn’t have a clue what kind of man could ever be interested in me.
 
Since then, my perspective on God, on life, and on love has changed drastically.  This helped me to understand better what kind of a man I’m looking for, and that someone who previously I wasn’t interested in could actually fit me well.  I tried eHarmony for 4 months and was bitter and angry that none of the men I was interested in messaged me back, and only men I was clearly NOT interested in messaged me.  A year and a half later, I tried another 4-month stint on eHarmony with a much more open mind.  If the profile interested me at all, I initiated conversation, and anyone who messaged me I replied to, even if I wasn’t the least bit interested in them.  I at least got one coffee date out of it, but nothing more.  
 
At 28, I had my first kiss with a man who was a friend of mine, and I FREAKED OUT.  We remained friends, and 6 months after the kiss, we finally talked about it, and realized that maybe there was something real between us.  I dove head first into that relationship, learning a lot about how relationships work (it was my first since high school, barring a few looking-back-that-was-a-date dates). But just a few weeks in, he got a new job in a city 6 hours away and we knew that was a closed door. It was definitely the right decision.  I know we could have made a relationship work, but it would have been a LOT of work, and we probably aren’t the best complement to each other.  But I learned a lot about myself, and had a lot more confidence in myself that I was actually attractive to someone, and that I could actually be a good girlfriend to someone!
 
And then, 6 months after that, I started dating a very good friend of mine.  We had been pseudo-dating for 6 months, spending a lot of 1-on-1 time together, doing somewhat romantic things.  Most of the time we were hanging out, I looked around and realized that anyone who was watching us would think we were on a date, but we weren’t.  He finally asked me on a “date date”, and I was thrilled. I really liked him, and was excited that something that felt so natural and started with the foundation of a close friendship was actually panning out into a real dating relationship!
 
I was so excited, I told my 20 closest friends.  I had a LOT of confidence in the relationship because we already knew each other so well.  I knew he was a keeper because it would take us at least to the 6-month mark to learn something about each other or the relationship that we didn’t already know.  We even talked about how awesome it was that we started out as such good friends and that was the perfect foundation to build a future together.  A few weeks into the relationship, he asked if I wanted us to be a “couple”, which I readily agreed to.  One week after that, he said he “wasn’t feeling the romance of the relationship”.  I was floored, and we haven’t really spoken since.  He was kind about it, but I’m still very confused why, if he wasn’t actually attracted to me romantically, he asked me out to begin with.  That was several months ago, and while I miss his friendship and the time we spent hanging out, I don’t really miss him.  That’s probably a sign that maybe we weren’t right for each other, anyway, but knowing that doesn’t make me any less lonely.
 
I think the hardest part is that in my life, I have some professional ambition, but the only thing I KNOW I want out of life is to be a wife and mother.  When everything else is confusing, it is really easy to focus on that one aspect of my life, and blame God for my being single.  I don’t necessarily regret the freedom I’ve had, nor do I want to trade places with my friends who are already mothers.  I just wish I were a step or two closer to that being my own reality. I’ve had seasons where I’m very content being single – having the freedom to drop everything and go out of town for the weekend, or extend a business trip for a few days of vacation.  But there are other seasons where all I can think about is finding my husband.  I scan the pews at church, looking for cute men of an appropriate age, then checking out their left hands and being disappointed that “all the good men have been snatched up!”
 
So I don’t really know what to do about all that, except trying to keep an open mind, a grateful heart, and a full schedule so I don’t sit at home and mope about how lonely I am.  🙂
 

2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?

 I’ve never been an overly girly-girl, probably as a reaction to the fact that I’ve never been the “hot” or “cute” girl, and being 5’9″ and 200 pounds, I’m bigger than average.  I’m usually okay with that, I am just acknowledging that it takes a certain kind of man to find someone with my body shape and size attractive.  I don’t believe I’m ugly, I’ve just come to terms with the reality that I’m not a stunner, either, and that looks do matter to men, to probably a greater extent than they do to me.  (Just about any man in the -2/+10 year range who is 6’3″ or taller is attractive in my book!)
 
I had a season in the post-college stage where I thought my gender was invisible. Read the rest of this entry

6 Ways to Recharge

Yesterday, my wise husband posted 6 Ways for Leaders to Recharge on his new leadership blog Beyond the Pinnacle. (If you’re interested in leadership, you’ll find a lot of great stuff on his site.)

Today, he has graciously allowed me to re-blog his post for all of you.  It’s important to take care of our bodies, minds, and spirits on a regular basis.  Self-care is essential, no matter who you are or how you occupy your time.  Whether you identify yourself as a leader or not, these are great ways for anyone to recharge.

6 Ways to Recharge

1. Laugh!  The best leaders laugh at situations and themselves, as President Obama aptly did here. Laughing lightens the mood and can de-escalate many situations. Learn to laugh.

2. Take a siesta.  Every week I try to go for at least one long hike, bike ride, or other exhilarating outdoor adventure. I always go with close, drama-free friends or by myself. After every trip, I come back feeling detoxed and ready to conquer the world again. Rest is essential to a leader.

3. Boundaries.  A siesta is one thing. There is also something to be said for punching the “off” button on the time clock, however. When your shift is over at work, let it be over. This does not make you a bad employee or non-committed; instead, it means that you will maintain a healthy work-life balance and you will be that much more of a superstar when you are on the clock!

4. Find happy vices.  I love foot massages. They’re not overly expensive if you go to the right places. However, that’s my stress-relieving vice. Maybe watching a series on Netflix or Hulu is your vice. Maybe eating some sweet Chicago-style pizza is your vice. Whatever. Know your healthy vice and reward yourself with it sometimes.

5. Sleep.  Sleep is incredibly important and yet, as a busy Western culture, it is our first thing that we compromise. Get your 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night to recharge yourself. Do not compromise this! It is essential to continued success and wellness!

6. Proactively recharge.  The best leaders never run out of battery power. Think of a car battery: It puts out a lot of power, but it has an alternator to simultaneously recharge. Leaders need an alternator! Find the things that intrinsically motivate you – growth opportunities, little successes, rewards, whatever – and hold onto those things! Enjoy what you do, and it’ll be that much harder to run out of batteries!

So…what say you? What is missing from this list? What else helps you recharge?  Share your favorite self-care strategy in the comment box below.

A Year in Review

I’m proud to guest post today for my good friend Tammy over at Live, Laugh, Love. She asked me a few questions about what life has been like recently compared to the previous year.  Thanks, Tammy, for the opportunity to reflect and share!

Here’s a little excerpt below. Be sure to click on through to read the rest at Live, Laugh, Love.

1. Where were you one year ago from today? And how did you see yourself in a year?

A year ago today, I was married just over a year and living in Santa Barbara less than a year. My husband and I were still looking for a church community, and I had been unsuccessfully applying for jobs in the area to supplement the part-time work I was already doing from home.  I was still recovering from an intense season of burnout and had just undergone a series of medical tests to rule out any medical contribution to my extreme and prolonged fatigue.  I would have described myself as tired and isolated but also as a happy newlywed.
At that point, I couldn’t summon the energy to project into the future very far and could not imagine what would come a year from then.  I knew I would still be married, and I hoped we would be moving on to a different area of the country–preferably one with a lower cost of living and a different community/church environment.  The energy I did have I put into building my blog platform and shaping my voice at Holistic Body Theology Blog. I alternated between feeling invested and successful at blogging and feeling drained and like I was wasting my time.  Sometimes I felt ready to close it down altogether because I wasn’t getting the return I wanted for all the energy I invested in writing.

2. Where are you today? What has actually changed from where you saw yourself?

Today I am in a very different place… Read the rest at Live, Laugh, Love!

Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Food (with Jenn)

fivequestionsonFood

with Jenn

1) Describe your relationship to/experience with food.  If it has changed over time, describe the change.

I have always loved food…the variety, the possibility, and the flavor.  However, my experience of eating food has not always been pleasant.  Ever since I was a baby, I have had digestive issues–meaning I had pain and discomfort often after eating.  Until I was 25, I thought there was nothing I could do to change my digestive issues besides medication remedies, and they often didn’t work.  
 
When I was 25 I began dating my husband who was gluten free.  As we often shared food on dinners out or I cooked gluten free to accommodate his dietary restrictions, something funny happened… I began to feel better! This began a journey of learning that what I eat, affects how I feel.  Five years later, I found  and have stuck to a diet that has brought me complete healing–the Paleo Diet.  No longer do I fear pain when I eat–and that is an amazing gift.  Some might say being on a such restricted diet would be too hard but it has opened my world in learning how to cook well and understanding the relationship between my health and food.
 

2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?

As I have experienced physically healing, my body image has become more positive.  My body looks completely healthy now.  I rejoice in that and thank God!
 

3) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you relate to others?

I find myself more passionate to educate and help others learn the importance of diet and nutrition.  As others in my life have come to realize a specific diet would help their health issues, I share my story and resources that I’ve gathered.  And while I once began my recipe blog simply to keep my recipes organized, I now write to give encouragement to others that eating Paleo is possible and yummy!
 

4) How has that relationship/experience affected your spiritual life?

I attribute my physical healing to God.  I prayed for years to be healthy and He has answered those prayers. 
 

5) What word of wisdom or encouragement would you offer other people on a similar journey?

Reach out to others going through similar journeys, search online for support and resources, and seek the Lord’s strength and encouragement through it all.  Also, if you are interested in the Paleo Diet, check out my blog at: jennsartofeating.wordpress.org.
 
 

What about you?

Have your own answers to these questions? Why not share them? Email your responses and a recent picture to bodytheologyblog at gmail dot com.  You can also post anonymously if you wish.

Rohr on silence in a culture of noise

We live in a noisy world.

We surround ourselves with entertainment and news and music and talking and texting and constant accessibility to internet.  We immerse ourselves in the many messages we hear from culture, family, church, school, and work.  We are loud and wordy and flashy and full of so much swirling around that it often feels impossible to shhhhhhh… into a place of quiet, stillness, and rest.

Richard Rohr writes about the place of silence in this excerpt below from his recent article “Finding God in the Depths of Silence” in Sojourners (March 2013):

At the less mature levels, religion is mostly noise, entertainment, and words.  Catholics and Orthodox Christians prefer theater and wordy symbols; Protestants prefer music and endless sermons.

Probably more than ever, because of iPads, cell phones, billboards, TVs, and iPods, we are a toxically overstimulated people.  Only time will tell the deep effects of this on emotional maturity, relationship, communication, conversation, and religion itself.  Silence now seems like a luxury, but it is not so much a luxury as it is a choice and decision at the heart of every spiritual discipline and growth.  Without it, most liturgies, Bible studies, devotions, “holy” practices, sermons, and religious conversations might be good and fine, but they will never be truly great or life-changing — for ourselves or for others. They can only represent the surface; God is always found at the depths, even the depths of our sin and brokenness. And in the depths, it is silent.

Thoughts? Comments? Reactions? Share in the comment box below.

 

Rilke on the connection of spiritual and physical through sexuality

Well, lovely readers, I am back in California and getting back into regular life after my second and final session of training in spiritual direction.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the last three weeks of guest posts as much as I have! We will continue to have Five Questions on… every Friday for as long as we still have willing participants.  Everyone is welcome, so please feel free to share your responses and add your voice to the conversation.

I had some grand ideas for launching back into regular posting here at HBTB, but I’m afraid I’ve suffered from technical difficulties (three laptops in three weeks!).  For today, let’s enjoy this little snippet from the ever-wise Rainer Maria Rilke on the connection of the spiritual and the physical through experiencing our sexuality.

In the Fourth Letter of Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke writes:

We can recall that all beauty in animals and plants is a silent and enduring form of love and longing.  We can see the animal just as we perceive the plant, patiently and willingly uniting, multiplying, and growing, not from physical desire, not from physical grief, rather from adapting to what has to be.  That existing order transcends desire and grief and is mightier than will and resistance.  The earth is full of this secret down to her smallest things.  Oh, that we would only receive this secret more humbly, bear it more earnestly, endure it, and feel how awesomely difficult it is, rather than to take it lightly.

Oh, that we might hold in reverence our fertility, which is but one, even if it seems to be either spiritual or physical. Spiritual creativity originates from the physical. They are of the same essence — only spiritual creativity is a gentler, more blissful, and more enduring repetition of physical desire and satisfaction.  The desire to be a  creator, to give birth, to guide the growth process is nothing without its constant materialization in the world, nothing without the thousandfold consent of things and animals.  Its enjoyment is so indescribably beautiful and rich only because it is filled with inherited memories of millions of instances of procreation and births. In one thought of procreation a thousand forgotten nights of love are resurrected and that thought is fulfilled in grandeur and sublimity…

Perhaps the sexes are more closely related than one would think.  Perhaps the great renewal of the world will consist of this, that man and woman, freed of all confused feelings and desires, shall no longer seek each other as opposites, but simply as members of a family and neighbors, and will unite as human beings, in order to simply, earnestly, patiently, and jointly bear the heavy responsibility of sexuality that has been entrusted to them.

Thoughts? Questions? Reactions? Share in the comment box below.

Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Exercise (with Megan)

fivequestionsonExercise

with Megan Gahan

1) Describe your relationship to/experience with exercise.  If it has changed over time, describe the change.

I started out working in gyms, where I trained women of all ages and abilities. Everything was very focused on pounds lost and inches trimmed. My clients would stare at themselves in the mirror, pinching ‘fat’(actually skin) and moaning about their need to lose 20 or more pounds. I remember being stunned at how disconnected they were with their bodies. Losing 20 pounds would have put many of them in the underweight range. Not surprisingly, I critiqued myself harshly during those years. Clients often choose their personal trainer based primarily on appearance, not qualifications (kind of like how you wouldn’t choose a hairdresser whose hair you didn’t like). I would emotionally tear myself apart when the buffest and fittest trainer got chosen over me again. It made me feel very inadequate.  My relationship with exercise was one of necessity.
 
But I wanted so much more. I wanted to help women see themselves and dig into their emotional issues. I wanted to talk to them about self-worth and body image and Jesus’ view of His precious daughters– not just perfect push-up technique (which, incidentally, is also very important).
 
Eventually God led me to a position with Mercy Ministries, a residential faith-based program for young women wanting to overcome life-controlling issues: eating disorders, self-harm, addiction, and abuse. I ran the fitness department and delighted in putting together a well-rounded fitness curriculum. One that incorporated the physical, emotional, and spiritual elements of exercise.
 
My relationship with exercise changed as I worked with the young women in the program. I began to show myself more grace. I started giving thanks to God before my workouts. I was grateful for my body’s abilities and capacity. I also asked God to keep my mind free from comparisons and harsh self-criticism. I wanted my workout to be an offering to Him. That’s what it’s meant to be.
 

2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?

Working with women who struggled deeply with their body image forced me to be very conscientious of my own. I became aware of how often I allowed negative self-talk to narrate my day-to-day life. I began calling myself out on it, because I needed to walk the talk. In modeling a healthy example for the girls, I also stopped working out for the wrong reasons. If I was having a bad day, or I felt fat, or I felt I needed to work out because I had just inhaled a Costco sized bag in Mini Eggs, I didn’t compulsively reach for my cross trainers. I went to God first. He became my first line of defense, my healthy coping mechanism. I am the first to admit that fitness is a great stress release. But it shouldn’t be your only one. It definitely isn’t the most essential one.
 
My relationship with my body took another turn when I wrote A Love Letter to My Body, where I confronted all the dark, ugly words I had spoken over myself throughout the years. It was extremely difficult, but deep wounds began to heal as my fingers flew over the keyboard. I knew I was much closer to seeing myself as my Creator saw me. 
 

3) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you relate to others?

I will not tolerate ‘fat talk’ in any conversation – not from myself or my friends. I address it right away because I know how damaging it is. 
 

4) How has that relationship/experience affected your spiritual life?

I used to speak such hate over my body that God couldn’t get a word in edgewise. When I finally allowed His still voice to speak love and beauty over me, it changed my spiritual life drastically. I wasn’t calling God a liar anymore. I wasn’t calling his workmanship junk. It’s hard to have a relationship with the One who created you, a relationship built on trust and gratitude, when you’re railing against Him for making your thighs too big.
 

5) What word of wisdom or encouragement would you offer other people on a similar journey?

Don’t hold yourself to a standard that doesn’t exist. If you feel like you have to work out, or you feel guilty when you don’t exercise, that’s a flashing neon sign that you’re headed down a dangerous path. It’s very easy to slip into obsession with fitness and pass it off as ‘getting healthy’ in this day and age. They are not the same thing.
 
For those wanting to begin creating a better relationship with their body, I would highly recommend writing a letter to yours. It is the most transformative exercise I have ever done. After I wrote mine, hundreds of women joined me.  To read through some of their journeys, go to www.shelovesmagazine.com and click ‘A Love Letter to My Body’ at the top right hand side of the page.
 
meganphoto
 

What about you?

Have your own answers to these questions? Why not share them? Email your responses and a recent picture to bodytheologyblog at gmail dot com.  You can also post anonymously if you wish.

 

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