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I have a confession.  I am an addict.  I deeply crave sugar.  White, refined, sweet, toxic sugar.  This addiction is fed by a multitude of sources, from breads and pastries, to sweet treats and chocolate.  Even my store-bought pasta sauce and soups contain more sugar than I should be consuming on a daily basis!  My body suffers from this addiction, as does my mental health.  And equally, my relationships.  I have been unkind and impatient when I am without this addictive substance.

Kathryn and I have committed ourselves this year to one goal: working towards physical, emotional and financial health.  My addiction to sugar directly contradicts each of these three facets of my life.  My body is unhealthy, my emotions are easily triggered, and we waste far too much money on junk that we simply do not need.

And yet we claim we don’t have enough money to buy wholesome, organic or local veggies and fruit.  Today at the grocery store we felt the need to limit the fresh produce we put in our cart in order to stay on budget.  And yet I bought an Iced Capp on the way home.  An Iced Capp Supreme!  With whipped cream and a shot of (sugar-filled) mint flavouring.

But this is not my only addiction.  I am also addicted to self-criticism.  I fill my body with these processed junk foods and then loathe my appearance.  My skin is frequently irritated because it does not receive enough hydration or proper nutrients from healthy fats.  My joints ache from carrying excess weight.  I am still young and yet at times I feel old.  And I fear the future for Kathryn and I (and our children) if we cannot learn to love ourselves and love our bodies.

I also berate myself for the choices I make on a daily basis, from letting the laundry pile up to reacting negatively to stress and emotional triggers.  I judge myself by harsh, impossible standards.  If I spoke to any of my friends the way I regularly speak to myself, our friendship would likely dissolve.

I know I am not alone in these weaknesses.  At the recommendation of my therapist, Kathryn and I have been reading Self Compassion, in which Kristen Neff explores the causes of our society’s unhealthy addiction to self-criticism and outlines an alternative path.  In order to learn to love ourselves, and our bodies, we do not first need to change our appearance, physical health or financial status.  First, we must learn to respond to our inner critics with self-kindness, mindfulness of our pain, and acceptance.

And so Kathryn and I have taken a step towards a new journey.  We have decided to finally invest in our health and our local agricultural community by purchasing a CSA-Share from Plan B Organic Farm, located in Flamborough.  We have committed ourselves to replacing the items we crave with other equally delicious and far more satisfying options (like the coconut Kathryn just cracked open with her drill).

And we have agreed to begin and end each day with our own self-compassion mantra, “I accept myself just as I am today, full of strength and weakness, beauty and brokenness.”  We have discovered that the key to unlocking our hoped-for future is in the way we treat ourselves right now, including the thoughts we dwell on and the foods we consume.  Today we choose to journey away from addiction and towards wholeness.

If a genie could grant you one wish, what would it be?

My first thought – the house to be clean!  All the laundry washed, folded and neatly stored in the appropriate drawers, the fridge full of fresh wholesome food, the carpets steam cleaned, and the last few shreds of disorganization in the spare room (that have lingered since we moved here over a year ago) finally unpacked and sorted and stored.

How minuscule, this wish – I should dream bigger.  And so I wish for money! Of course, everyone knows you should wish for money.  With money you could… you could hire a maid to do the laundry, and move to a nicer building, and buy your parents lovely gifts and be generous without worrying about bills, and finally stop stressing about finances with your partner.  But how much money?  Oh just a thousand, okay maybe more.  Maybe hundreds of thousands, even millions.  The dream of financial abundance draws us to buy lottery tickets and we hear the Sirens calling to us from the casino.

But this too, this is not my dream.  I don’t crave financial abundance.  Financial health, yes.  But we can manage that. We can learn to live within our means and to be wise and intentional about the purchases we make.

Being granted money, or a clean house, will not make us happier.

So I dream again.  This time there are young children, a dog and a backyard garden. There is old age, and her hand to hold.  There is laughter.  Hope and joy. There is peace and bliss in ordinary moments.  There is earth connection and spirit connection between us and our family and out into Vast Universe.  The things we have set as goals – physical, emotional and financial health – these attained. Time to invest in relationship and play, work and rest. Rhythm and music and movement. Time to build towards our future together.

And for this wish, we need no genie.  We have each other and we are learning to build this hoped-for-future into our today, into this very moment, this one deep breath.

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