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September Resolutions

Most people wait until New Year's Eve to make resolutions, but I've always been drawn to make changes in my favorite season, fall. I think it's because for years, I started school in the Fall and I remember fondly all the newness and excitement of that - of wearing my new plaid wool jumper to the first day of third grade, totally uncomfortable, since it was still summer and 85 degrees, roasting and sweating as I played dodge ball, but blissful and not caring, because I was playing and seeing all my friends after a long lazy summer. Fall to me is such a natural and easy ending of lazybones summer and a magical beginning of a most mysterious season to me, winter.

I have always spent some thoughtful time at the beginning of September, when the nights turn cold and the aspens turn yellow and their leaves fall and the garden shuts down. I rummage around the closet trying to find my turtlenecks to wash for winter wear and at the same time I dive into my mind unearthing unnecessary habits and thoughts to throw in the wash, to cleanse myself for the new season. What do I want this next 12 months to look like regarding health, food, finances, friends, family, travel, spiritual life. It's a thoughtful time for me, this fall season. I write things down, things I want to change, then I save my list, referring to it most days and at the end of the year I spend some time evaluating how well I have done.

It's important to put the intention or resolution out there in the shared consciousness of the Universe. Then, like a new software program, its starts running, not just by itself, but along with the collective intelligence of the Universe. So I don't feel alone in my endeavors, I have help from all over. Though the all-important intention is there the moment the decision is made to change and/or the resolution is written down.

I started the Whole 30 again September 1st which is a wonderful way to cleanse. To remind you, on the W30, you eliminate all grains, all dairy, all soy, all alcohol and all sugar for one month. It's basically uber-Paleo. Like you, I can easily be trapped by my sweet tooth. I was starting to think about the gluten-free ½ peanut butter cookie I would have after dinner even as I was drinking my cup of tea at 6AM. I don't do the W30 to lose weight, but to slice away bad habits. Ten days into it, I still would love to have my peanut butter cookie after dinner, but now the desire is not quite so strong.

It's all very exciting in the beginning  maybe the first week or so when the pride of purpose and the self-regard starts kicking in. Then eventually I find that my baser, ego-driven nature starts to be bored and to snarl and beg and threaten sabotage after the honeymoon of the month of September is over. ("Well, I did the Whole 30 so now I want my PB cookie, just a tiny bite, after dinner.") That's de debil talking. But now is the time to strengthen resolve and maybe edit the resolution to make it more bearable. ("I will have ½ of a PB cookie after dinner on Sunday nights only.")

Caution: Do not EVER put yourself down if you find that you blew an agreement with yourself. Say, one of your resolutions is to eliminate alcohol in your life, not because you are an alcoholic (That's a different and more serious story and requires AA or therapy.) but because you want to amp up your spiritual life or you want to lose a few pounds or maybe you have designated September as Detox Month.

But what about that Sushi Party on the 20th? You find yourself in a fugue state at the restaurant with an unknown weak-willed person inhabiting your body as you stare at the menu. So, you decide to have sushi (grains) and dip it in tamari (soy) then you have a glass of wine (alcohol) and then you top it off with green tea ice cream for dessert. (dairy and sugar.) Whups. You just blew it.

Here's the key. It's not a big deal. Do not use your momentary back-sliding as an excuse to indulge in self-loathing because that's just what your pitiless ego wants you to do. Get back into the quiet witness that is your true self and leave that nattering idiot of an ego alone. Don't listen. Forgive yourself and pat yourself on the back for understanding and accepting what you just did, then "pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start all over again."

And, I find this to be true as well: If you find yourself not adhering to one specific resolution, that's probably the one which will offer you the most valuable lesson and it begs to be looked at deeply. "Oh, so I am that addicted to sugar that I can't stop it for 30 days. ("What a loser!" Now stop that!) or "Why can't I have a drink?" Or "Why do I still blow up at my kids?" Or, "Why can't I spend just 20 minutes twice a day meditating?" Or, "Why can't I lose weight?"

One of two things could be happening here: 1) Perhaps your resolution or agreement with yourself is not appropriate at this time. For example, "I want to start eating only raw foods," is not a good resolution to agree to when it is 10 degrees outside with a wind chill factor of 20 below. Put that one on the back burner and resolve to look at it when the weather is warmer or when you move to Florida. 2) Perhaps your resolution needs some help from an outside source, like a therapist or a 12-step program or a group, like a weight-loss group or one of the many addiction groups.

I will leave you with one of my favorite stories, which incongruously I first found a few years ago as a handout at my Subaru repair shop. Ah, yes, living in Boulder is a wonderful thing.

"One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between the two wolves' inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, feelings of inferiority or superiority, lies, false pride, and feelings of entitlement.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, hope ,serenity, humility, kindness, non-violence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, respect and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins.?

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

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