An Understanding of Ourselves

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

This quote came up on the Random Quotes Page yesterday and I REALLY needed to see it.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. Carl Jung from The Quotations Page

It reads:

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

  • Carl Jung

This is the concept of The Mirror. The idea is that the people in our lives are here to TEACH us something. There is something in everyone that is there to teach us. Some people are open, humble and teachable. Those people just see the beautiful in people, learn from it and emulate it.

Then there are the jerks like me…

I don’t see the the beautiful in people. I just see the ugly. I just see the hypocrisy. I just see the controlling nature. I just see the beautiful and feel envious instead of grasping onto it and making it my own. For me, the people are still there to teach me. Whenever I see the hypocrisy in someone, I need to look for the hypocrisy in myself. When was the last time I was a hypocrite? When I see someone who is controlling, I do the same. When was the last time I tried to control something I should just keep out of? Umm… Two minutes ago? Yeah…

If you spot it, you've got it. If it makes you mad, you've got it bad. from Starling Fitness

If you spot it, you’ve got it.

If it makes you mad, you got it bad.

That’s what my sponsor said to me and though I had learned of the concept of The Mirror, it had never been said to me so clearly and succinctly. Plus, it must be true, because it rhymes.

So, the next time someone really bugs you, get excited! This is one of those rare opportunities to find a problem with yourself and FIX it. You can’t fix that other person, but you can sure as heck fix yourself. The next time you see an ugly face in the mirror, don’t turn away from it. FIX IT within yourself and the face that reflects back to you will be more beautiful.


It’s All Salt Water Like Us

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

At La Jolla Beach, back in 2007, I found this bit of graffiti attached to a sign.

It's All Salt Water Like Us from Starling Fitness

It reads:

It’s all salt water like us

It reminds me of the quote from Seven Gothic Tales, written by Isak Dinesen in 1934:

The cure for anything is salt water... tears, sweat or the sea. Isak Dinesen from The Quotations Page

The cure for anything is the sea… tears, sweat or the sea.

When she wrote that phrase, I’m sure she had some connection with the sea that we, desert dwellers, just don’t understand. Sure, we are awed by the sea, but it has never healed us. We just don’t spend enough time around it.

The coral sands of the desert are more like a sand blaster, wearing us down until we desiccate.

As far as tears and sweat they have healed me more than I can say.


Slow Progress Is Progress

By Laura Moncur @ 12:00 pm — Filed under:

I saw this motivational poster on MotiveWeight today and I wanted to share it.

Slow Progress Is Still Progress from Starling Fitness

It reads:

Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.

Sometimes it’s hard to notice progress because you’re looking at it too closely. I know the scale isn’t the best way to look at your physical progress, but it’s the one we use most regularly. When you look at the Lose It! graph of my weight over the last month, it doesn’t look that good.

Weight Progress One Month from Starling Fitness

In fact, the weight frustratingly goes up and down. I was down to 179.0 and then it popped up to 181.4. Then it went even higher up to 181.9. Up and down. Up and down. When I look at my weight from the distance of just one month, I can see hardly any progress.

When I look at the graph of every weight I’ve logged since October 2011, however, it tells a different story.

Weight Progress for for Three Years from Starling Fitness

Sure, there are ups and downs, but that graph is pretty dramatically headed in the DOWN direction and has been since January of this year, when I joined Overeater’s Anonymous. You can pretty much tell the DATE I joined OA based on this graph alone. You can also see every time I tried and failed. Tried and failed.

It’s hard to see progress when you’re so close to it. Let yourself step away, get some perspective, and then you will see it. Slow progress might be slow, but it’s the kind that sticks around a lot longer than fast progress. Most importantly, slow progress is still progress.


Manifest Plainness

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

I found this quote the other day and it seemed like the opposite of what I was told my whole life:

Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires. by Lao-tzu from The Quotations Page

It reads:

Manifest plainness,

Embrace simplicity,

Reduce selfishness,

Have few desires.

- Lao-tzu

“Manifest plainness,” in particular, was something that was NEVER taught me, either by my family or society in general. Instead of suggesting that I manifest plainness, I was told that I should stand out. Buy this and you will stand out. Excel in school and you will stand out. Get a prestigious job and you will stand out.

I never once in my life thought that “standing out” might be bad for me.

But that desire to stand out has HARMED me. I have sacrificed money, emotion and time to it with no change in my feelings about myself. I thought that if I went to a prestigious school that I would feel better about myself. I didn’t. I thought that if I bought these cool clothes that I would feel better about myself. I didn’t. I thought that if I got that cool job I would would feel better about myself. I didn’t.

No matter what I sacrificed on the altar of “Standing Out,” it didn’t help me. No Coach purse. No fancy degree. No prestigious job. NOTHING helped make me feel worthy. It was never enough. No matter how many degrees, fashionable clothes or jobs I had, there was always someone with MORE.

And then someone told me I had to be humble and everything changed.

HUMILITY has made it all better. The realization that we are all the same. We all are born. We all die. We all are mere humans on this big, blue, marble. No one is higher than me. No one is below me. We are all on the same level.

That concept made all of the “Standing Out” seem unnecessary. Suddenly, I could see what “Standing Out” meant. Anyone who was trying to show how much better they were was someone who was trying to prove something that just wasn’t true. It was like holding up a huge sign that said, “I don’t think I’m good enough.” THAT is what the tags on designer clothes say. They scream, “I don’t think I’m good enough,” so loudly that I can’t hear a word the person is saying. THAT is what bragging about your alma mater or your job is: chanting, “I don’t think I’m good enough,” over and over.

“Manifest plainness,” isn’t about making yourself purposefully less than others. It’s about NOT screaming your inadequacies out to the world. It’s about not desperately trying to prove that you are better. It’s humility and true humility is far more attractive than anything in a fashion magazine.


Like Threads of Silver

By Laura Moncur @ 11:12 am — Filed under:

I saw this quote today and it really helped me:

Like threads of silver seen through crystal beads Let love through good deeds show. Edwin Arnold from The Quotations Page

It reads:

Like threads of silver seen through crystal beads, let love through good deeds show.

  • Edwin Arnold

They keep telling us that to love ourselves, we need to repeat affirmations into the mirror, but they are WRONG. The way we tell ourselves that we love ourselves is by being NICE to ourselves. Dress in clean and mended clothes. Eat healthy food. Stay active in a fun way. Take a shower. Meditate daily. Doing all of these things will show yourself love far more than anything you could say to yourself in the mirror.


Who Among Us Can Truly Be Said To Be Good?

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

I saw this comic fromThree Panel Soul the other day and it made me cry.

Who Among Us Can Be Truly Said To Be Good from Starling Fitness

It reads:

Owner: Who’s a good dog?

Dog: Whoah, that’s a hell of a question.

Owner: Who’s a good boy?

Dog: Who among us can truly be said to be good? What is goodness?

Owner: You are!

Dog: What?!

Owner: Yes!

Dog: This is amazing!

When I saw this, I felt like I was the dog, contemplating goodness and feeling completely unable to live up to it. When the owner said, “You are!” I felt just like that dog, in denial, yet, hoping it was true. “What?!”

ALL of us are like that dog. We feel that we are not good enough. We feel that true goodness is unattainable with our flawed selves. We just need that owner. We just need to know that someone thinks that we are good. Someone who is better than us thinks we are worth it.

Every one of us has that unseen owner within our own minds. It is the aspect of your mind that you are not able to access at all times, but you see glimpses of it when you are dancing or singing along with the radio. Maybe you can catch it watching you as you meditate or when you are working very hard on a project you care about.

Get in touch with that part of your brain. It thinks you’re good. It wants to tell you that every day, but you can’t hear it because the noise on the television is too loud and the headlines of the newspaper are blocking your vision. If you can teach yourself to listen for it and listen to it, then the appeal of food won’t attract you as much anymore. It will be a dull attraction rather than a siren song.

For more info, I have an entire category of posts to get you in touch with that unused portion of your brain: Starling Fitness – Inner Workouts


A Meditation for When You Want To Binge

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

Imagine yourself in a lush, green park. The grass is perfectly soft and dry. The sun outside is bright, but a light breeze keeps you from getting too warm. You sit in the grass and start thinking.

First, you think about bingeing. You think about that feeling and feel it deep in your chest. That compulsion feels heavy and black and you gather it into your hands, squishing it into a ball.

Then, you scan your body for pain. Anything that hurts and anything that even twinges starts migrating to your chest as well. A black lump of pain congregates near your heart, but you gather it into your hands and add it to the ball you have, smoothing it and compacting it like a black snowball.

Then you think about all the emotional pain you are dealing with right now. Anything that has hurt your feelings in the last few hours or days or even weeks or years, let it come to your chest. Let it gather like another lump of blackness. Remove it from your chest and add it to the ball in your hands, ever smoothing it with your fingertips.

Finally, think about all the pain around you. Loved ones who are in pain. Those who have harmed you. Anything external to you that is affecting you negatively is attracted to the ball in your hands. You can feel it getting quite big from all the pain that is within you and without you.

In your hands, work that ball. Push upon it with your hands, making it more compact and smaller. It is still rather heavy, but you have finally gotten it to the size of an eight ball on a pool table. Shiny, black and firm, you keep compressing this ball until you are unable to make it any smaller.

As you run your hands along the black smoothness, you look up to see an eager puppy in front of you. You realize this puppy is your spiritual guide and she misses you so much. She hasn’t seen you since the last time you tried meditating and she is overjoyed to be with you again. She eyes the black ball of your pain and you know that she wants to play fetch.

You throw the ball as far as you can. The weight of it makes a thump on the soft grass, far down the field and the puppy races to get it. She grabs the ball and brings it back to you, dropping it at your feet. When you pick it up, you can feel that it is smaller, lighter and softer than it was before. The puppy is jumping at your hand, begging you to throw it again and you toss it away even further than before.

Let Your Spiritual Guide Take Away Your Pain from Starling Fitness

After many throws, the ball is a small and malleable lump in the puppy’s mouth, but she is tired of fetch. When you try to take the ball from her to throw it again, she dodges away from you. After a few chases, she lies on the grass just out of your reach, chewing on the ball. She keeps chewing until it dissolves into nothing.

Your pain is gone, cleansed by the love of your spiritual guide and the two of you can now walk along the grassy field of the park in the sunshine together, happy and content.

Original Photo via: Ian D. Keating at Flickr


Indiana Jones and the Final Crusade Is A Representation of the First Three Steps

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

I don’t know how to express how much this scene from the end of Indiana Jones and the Final Crusade has helped me. If you have never seen the movie, watch it now, or be spoiled.

In this scene, Indy’s father has been shot by the Nazis and the only way he can save his father is by going through the three trials and finding the Holy Grail. Fortunately, his father kept a detailed Grail Diary documenting the three trials.

The Three Trials from Starling Fitness

Here is what happens:

The Breath of God

The first trial is The Breath of God: Only the penitent man shall pass.

I love how Indy and his father repeat it over and over. Penitent, penitent, penitent. At the last minute, Indy realizes he needs to kneel before God or he will be struck down by very real blades.

“The penitent man is humble before God. The penitent man is humble. He kneels before God!”

The Breath of God - Kneel from Starling Fitness

To me, this trial represents the first step in the Twelve Steps. You MUST be humble for this program to work. You MUST admit that you are not as cool as you thought you were. You have to be so defeated by this disease that you bow your head in humility. God, not required. The razor sharp blades of your disease will cut you down whether there is a god or not.

The Word of God

The second trial is The Word of God: Only in the footsteps of God will he proceed.

Indy reads the Grail Diary and realizes he needs to spell out the name of God, which was easy! Jehovah!

The Word of God - Name from Starling Fitness

And then Indy realizes that in Latin, Jehovah starts with an “i.”

This trial represents the second step in the Twelve Steps. You must recognize that only a power greater than yourself can help you. Once again, no God required. In fact, what you think you know about God might be a liability. That power greater than you can be the group, your sponsor, your FitBit or any other guidance outside your own diseased mind. I’ve talked about this quite a bit here:

I like to think that Indy’s dad translated it wrong. The true meditation should be, “Only in the footsteps of one greater than you shall you proceed.”

The Path of God

The final trial is The Path of God: Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.

A quick look at the Grail Diary tells him all he needs to know.

The Path of God - Leap of Faith from Starling Fitness

“It’s a leap of faith. Oh jeez!” “You must believe, boy. You must believe.”

This is the third step in the Twelve Steps. You must believe that a power greater than you can stop you from killing yourself. You have to hand yourself over to it, whatever it may be. You just close your eyes and step onto that delicate bridge. It will be there under your feet as long as you are careful.

Was It Intentional?

I’ve looked all over the Internet and I can’t see any reference to the Twelve Steps with this movie. In fact, Indy’s dad said he found these clues in the Chronicles of St. Anselm. Most believe that to be St. Anselm of Canterbury, but I did a search through all the works of St. Anselm and found nothing written that is even close to the phrases in the three trials.

I must have watched this movie at a very impressionable time in my teens. I can recite this scene almost verbatim and when I have felt too cocky, I repeat to myself, “Only the penitent shall pass.” When I have felt like I could just skip my meetings and do this alone, I repeat, “Only in the footsteps of one greater than you shall you proceed.” Each time my atheism got in the way of my recovery, I thought about that leap of faith and Indiana Jones standing on the slim and cleverly disguised walkway.

Leap of Faith from Starling Fitness

I didn’t need to believe in God. All I needed to do was believe that it could be done with the help of someone else.

Images via:


Don’t Change Be Yourself Unless You’re A Jerk

By Laura Moncur @ 8:00 am — Filed under:

There is a more vulgar version of this floating around Pinterest, but it wasn’t that pretty and I really wanted one that didn’t swear, so I made one.

Don't Change Unless You're A Jerk from Starling Fitness

It reads:

Don’t change so people will like you.

Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.

Unless you’re a jerk. Then you should change.

Sure, we get a little laugh from this, but the truth is, I am a bit of a jerk. I’m probably a colossal jerk, if certain people are to be believed. When I went through my Twelve Steps, I was brought face to face with exactly how much of a jerk I really am.

And I had to APOLOGIZE!

Not only that, I had to make it right.

There were some people on my amends list whom I couldn’t contact to apologize. They were the hardest people to work through my amends. In the end, my sponsor had me write a letter to them.

Then she made me write ANOTHER letter, because I was STILL a jerk in the first one.

Inside my God Box from Starling FitnessWhen I read her the second draft, she said it was acceptable and to put it in my God Box. I folded it up as small as it would go and it’s still in there, tempting me to pull it back out and read it. But the guilt from all my jerky behavior is gone. I did the best I could to apologize in the situation I was in.

And honestly, I’m still a jerk.

I’ll probably be a jerk for the rest of my life, but I’m doing the best I can to not be a jerk. And I’m apologizing quicker when I am.

What does this have to do with health and fitness?

I haven’t binged since I wrote those letters freeing me from the past. Despite my lack of belief in a god, writing those letters and handing them over to my God Box helped me. I have no idea how the act of folding those letters up into tiny rectangles and hiding them in a discarded Pringles can released me from my past jerkiness, but they did. Not only have they helped me keep my bingeing at bay, they have helped me to be a tad less jerky so I don’t have new situations to apologize for.

So, given the option to be myself and be a jerk or to change, I chose to change as best as I can.

Image via: Hunington Sunset by jonashaffer | Flickr


And This, Too, Shall Pass Away

By Laura Moncur @ 8:01 am — Filed under:

Last night, I painted my nails. I combined two colors, a really dark green creme with an iridescent pink and ended up with this shade.

And This Too Shall Pass Away from Starling Fitness

I don’t know if I like it or not, but then I realized that it doesn’t matter. In two days, it will be chipped and need to be removed, whether I like it or not.

If I adore this shade, it will be gone in two days. If I abhor this shade, it will be gone in two days. My feelings about the color of my fingernails are irrelevant. No matter what happens, it will be gone in two days.

The same is true for EVERYTHING in life.

I literally felt at one with the universe while looking at my fingernails this morning because I knew that all of life is the same. Whether I love my situation or hate it, it will change. I can’t stop that change. No matter what I do, my situation will be different two years from now than it is today. I can’t stop it. I can’t speed it along.

That is incredibly sad…

I am happy now. I have a family. I have a husband I adore. I have a boy in my life who brings me joy and laughter. I have a cute little dog, a cat who hates me and a another cat who follows me around wherever I go. All of this will change and I can’t stop it. I can’t even predict HOW it will change. I just know that two years from now, things will be different.

And this, too, shall pass away.

At the same time, it can be incredibly comforting…

Whenever I am unhappy, I just need to take in a deep breath and remember that in two years, all of this will be different. Just as it is guaranteed that two days from now, my chipped fingernail polish will need to be removed, two years from now, things will be different.

And this, too, shall pass away.

There is a legend that a powerful Persian king asked his wise men to create him a ring that would make him happy when he was sad. They did, but it had a consequence. The ring also made him sad when he was happy. Inscribed on the ring was the phrase, “And this, too, shall pass away.”

The corollary to this is the knowledge that our feelings are irrelevant. Whether they are joyful or grieving, blissful or raging, our feelings will have little effect on the march of time. Whether we like a thing or not, it will change.

I learned this lesson in a fit of pain and agony. I was having a migraine and something misfired in my brain. Suddenly, I was crying. It wasn’t a normal cry, it was a gut-wrenching cry that I hadn’t had since I realized that I had spent four years getting a degree that I didn’t want. But I wasn’t sad. It wasn’t a cry from the pain. The pain was severe enough, but nothing to warrant the horrendous sadness. Logically, I didn’t have a reason to be sad, yet, I felt an utter hopelessness lost in a depression of agony.

All because my brain misfired somewhere during the migraine.

Fortunately, I’ve also had migraines that gave me complete and unwarranted joy. Every touch felt like supreme ecstasy. I was still in pain from the migraine, but at the same time, I experienced an ancient and sublime happiness.

All because my brain misfired somewhere during the migraine.

If my emotions can be hijacked by a misfiring in my brain, then are they real? If there is a question of the reality of my emotions and a relevancy as well, then why did I EAT so many times in response to them? Knowing that how I feel could just be a blip in my brain is POWER. Knowing that how I feel is irrelevant in the march of time is POWER.

When my feelings are proven to be specters, I no longer need to react to them to my detriment. If someone makes me feel stupid, I don’t need to retaliate or prove myself worthy. My feeling stupid is just a misfiring in my brain. My feeling stupid is irrelevant. I am now free to react positively. I am now free.

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