There are varying degrees of inconvenience and difficulty that you will encounter traveling through life. Some will seem uncomfortable, but at least consistent, and you will learn to ride them like waves that rhythmically pound the shore. Some will capsize your boat. Some, however will be part of a storm of unpredictability. And you will have to decide for yourself how threatening, how likely to sink your whole mission, the storm really is- wave by wave.
The important thing to remember in these scenarios is that so much of our experience is dictated to us by stories we have told ourselves about who we are, what we deserve and how the world works. These stories run like programs in our subconscious, informing our reactions to events and people, and form the basis of much of our emotive reaction. Some of these stories are like weird demonic whisps of smoke that enter our ear and ride us into the ground- they are secret preconceptions, insidious and stealthy. Some are “common sense” handed to us by family or friends or authority figures attempting to “help” us. Regardless of where they come from, they are there, always waiting for the right switch to be flipped, the magic words to be spoken, the planets to align and the storm to hit, at which point, like habits, they surface to fill in for more intentional parts of our brain which may be undergoing too much emotional reaction to properly shoulder the burden of response.
When these stories become the basis for our reactions, we fall into certain patterns, we play our part in the ritual and reinforce these neural pathways, these spirit channels of personal myth , and we manifest them in our lives.
We must be very careful what stories we tell ourselves, and on occasion, if the myth can not be proven false, we must re-write our role in it.
I view the rune poems similarly to zen koans- they are puzzles to unfold, crystals to turn over in the minds eye, observing the shifting kaleidoscope of reality through the forms presented. Laguz is associated with water, and leeks, and struggles. Whether it is an allium pushing itself up through muddy soil after gathering strength there through the brutality of Winter, a waterfall that must be passed through to access adventure and treasure, or the cauldron of the sea, the message is consistent: If you are strong you will grow stronger, If you are unwise, you will never be strong enough to survive.
The Old English version of the poem states:
“Water is to people
If they should venture out
On an unsteady ship
And the sea waves
Frighten them very much,
And the brine stallion
Does not heed it’s bridle.”
Note the emphasis on perception here. If you tell yourself that there is no hope, you have eliminated any opportunity to perceive one. If you do not have control over your reactions, you can never control your outcomes, for outcomes are dictated by reactions. And if you fail to take responsibility for your reactions, you may as well throw yourself into the sea, for it will swallow you anyway, sooner than later.
All systems of the self are inter-related. The body, the spirit, the mind- our gut and our brain chemistry, our brain chemistry and our capacity for spiritual power, our will to power and our sense of competence.
I have been un-weaving many myths in myself this week, and while some of this has left me feeling lighter, some of it has increased the amount of personal responsibility I place on my own shoulders, and my reactions have varied.
One of the greatest myths we tell ourselves as a culture, but specifically that women tell themselves, is that the proper way to handle emotional upset is with “a treat.” We use the pleasure response created by sweets as a go-to emotional balm, and it’s drug addict behavior.
Treats are great, however they are not the solution to your problems, and turning to them helplessly , falling into the warm embrace of hot fudge or the pillow-y oblivion of buttercream, will most likely only serve to further imbalance your brain chemistry, add systemic irritants to your list of problems, and reinforce a crutch that can lead to a snowball effect on your health if your life is particularly unsatisfying or stressful.
However, blood sugar is nothing to ignore either, and often your body is indeed screaming for nourishment when your mind is feeling over taxed. Feeding oneself in a moment of psychological impasse can give a much needed opportunity for reflection and re-centering, both necessary for good judgment and careful self-creation.
May I suggest to you that Steak is perhaps a better solution than ice cream in these moments. Steak is like the methadone to chocolate’s heroin. The issue still exists that you’re leaning on food as a crutch in times of weakness, however you are stepping away from a pattern of blood sugar spikes as a drug like response to emotional upset-and stepping towards some fat and protein to feed your brain and ground you out.
Currently I am working on creating my own list of alternatives to destructive self-soothing patterns, as I simultaneously weed out the useless stories of victimhood and disenfranchisement that I’ve learned to rely on.
Here is how I put together a quick and healthy steak dinner for one, when I need to fuel myself, center, and move forward with strength.
1 steak, preferably cut pretty thick with some nice marbling, I like a ton of fat, but not everyone does.
1 sweet potato
1-2 cups of chopped kale
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of Paprika
Thoroughly scrub down your sweet potato and wrap it snuggly in tinfoil. Don’t bother drying it, as a little water on the outside helps to steam it.
Pop the sweet potato in the oven and turn the heat onto 500f
Take the steak out of the fridge and place it on the counter to allow it to reach room temperature.
Go stretch or make a quick journal entry about whatever is bothering you. Observe your thought patterns in relation to the problem. Eliminate any feelings of victimhood or helplessness as best you can. Figure out the simplest way to cover your ass if nothing works in your favor. Come to terms with this possibility. Try to do this step in 20-30 minutes.
Put a skillet on medium high with at least a tablespoon of butter .
Now that you are at peace with your utter defeat, begin considering your options for the achievement of success. Are you avoiding trifling or obvious options? Is there something you’d rather not do that will lead to an outcome you would prefer?
Thinly slice your clove of garlic as you continue to mull over your next steps. Place it in the pan of hot butter and allow it to infuse the butter with garlic.
When the butter is fragrant but the garlic is not yet cooked, add your steak to the pan and place a cover on the skillet if you have one. Watch the meat carefully. If you like your steak practically alive, observe it for a thoroughly browned bottom side and then flip it over, and do not cover with the lid, but watch it carefully lest it become over-done.
You may want to turn up the heat for a faster, hotter cooking of the outside that doesn’t have time to reach the center of the steak. This technique is awesome on gas stoves.
If you prefer medium rare, after flipping the first time, cover again with a lid and check on it often, pressing with a fork. Degree of bloodiness is personal preference. You can also cut a piece off to check the center, but you’re ruining the presentation. What’s your problem? Why would you do that?
If you like your steak well done you might as well just throw a boneless skinless chicken breast in the microwave, because the flavor is about as nuanced and you obviously don’t care about steak.
During the final moments of cooking time for your steak, pull the sweet potato out of the oven and unwrap it. Slice it open like a baked potato and add a pat of butter or some coconut oil. Sprinkle of salt.
Salt and pepper the steak. Plate the steak with the sweet potato. Do not remove the skillet from the burner.
Grab the kale and throw it into the skillet, sautéing it quickly over high heat in the fat that’s left in the pan.
Put it on the plate with the steak and the sweet potato and sprinkle the kale with some paprika.
Sit down and carefully chew your food. Don’t worry about your problem anymore until you’re done eating and you start doing dishes. You should have a clearer head by this point.