The Two Types Of Fasting I Practice

Posted on April 26, 2011

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I was in the checkout line of a my neighborhood store with Easter baskets to be paid for when I saw a little boy in a shopping cart two customers ahead of me. Right now, as I take myself back to those few moments in his presence I’m still moved. He was just hanging out, staring at the goodies at eye-level as he waited for his mom to be done with her purchase. I couldn’t stop staring at him as I realized that he was my five-year old one year ago. In one year my little boy had changed from being quiet and contemplative like the child in front of me, to an energetic, more self-assured person with quite a personality. Where had that year gone? Was I really present for it? I felt a deep love and compassion for both of those young boys, the one in the store and the one I was waking up to every day that lived in my own house.

I went home changed. I felt good about how I was living my life and didn’t feel like anything was wrong. But I noticed I was sort of stuck in habits, not bad ones, that I knew were taking my attention away from really important things. Like taking advantage of the time I’ve been given to deepen and to enjoy my relationships with family and friends, and to share who I am and what I love in meaningful ways. In short, I wasn’t growing. I was just going through the motions and expecting change to find me.

Which brings me to fasting. Once upon a time fasting was equated to starving. Sure, my body was healthier and cleaned out, but that was it. Then it became a way to serve as I could donate the money saved from going without food and water for 24 hrs. to those in need. Finally, thank goodness, it became a vehicle or tool if you will to strengthen myself spiritually and to get some clarity as I focused more on feeding my spirit and not my body for two meals. Now I see it as a combination of all of the above, a very useful and necessary habit that benefits me physically and spiritually as well as others monetarily.

Anyways, that’s one type of fasting. One that I take advantage of at least once a month.

The second form of fasting is new to me, but beneficial in finding out who I am, what drives me, and figuring out whether I’m climbing the right tree in the right jungle. Every few months I get the urge to unplug from Facebook. I love Facebook. I value my friends. I’m amazed that they put up with my on-again, off-again personality! But if I get a prompting to deactivate my account I always follow it. And each time I know I’ll come back refreshed. Why not just stay away without deactivating? I need to make black and white decisions. You may not be that way. I can be self-disciplined, but there’s a real shift for me when there is a clean break. Sort of symbolic I guess. It works for me. What it doesn’t mean is that I’m anti-social or upset. Just working things out….again!

So, this last time I took a few days to figure out how to share my blog with other genealogy enthusiasts. And I found a lot of answers that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.  My concerns about people finding my blog shifted to me offering my attention to what others had to teach me. I started searching for like-minded people. I stumbled into a goldmine! What a concept! Stop thinking about yourself and treat others as you want to be treated.

But writing and family history aren’t my only interests. I called a ton of studios in Nashua and Hudson to take ballet classes. There weren’t any for adults! Light bulb!, said my husband and my mother. There’s a market for me to tap into if I ever wanted to pursue it.

I’m still the same person with the same quirky personality and unpredictable nature. But I feel like I’ve grown a lot from disconnecting  and then reconnecting when I was ready. There are so many side-benefits that I’m enjoying like really seeing how I show up for my husband and children, differentiating between doing things because they are right for me and doing something because I feel pressured or judged for either participating or opting out.

One final thought. The little boy was a gift to me. His presence gave me a choice. At first I believed it was an all-or-nothing decision. Was everything that I was interested in taking away from the things that were most important to me? There was a temptation to believe that. My generation grew up without the internet and there’s a lot of talk about how times have changed and values have shifted. I just don’t believe that. Great minds who dare to dream and create do not make my day-to-day decisions for me. Deep feelings do. I’m a happier person when I’m being myself,  growing and sharing who I am with the people who know me well as well as those whom I’ll never meet in person. That little boy, and every other person I’ll ever interact with is depending on me sharing who I am and feeling and valuing who they are, even if it’s only for a moment.

I thank him for being himself, not even noticing I was there, and making a profound impact in my life.

What did he do? What did I see? I saw someone unplugged and enjoying a quiet moment in his own little world being affected by no one and nothing. His mom didn’t see it, but this mom went home looking at what she’d taken for granted, and found the courage to do something about changing it.

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