Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 90: The Loneliness at the Peak

Well, that's not the title you expected, was it? Yesterday marked 90 days for me. I guess now I get a big "COMPLETE" stamp on my blog header (I've told Patrick I'd prefer updated pictures since the me of 90 days ago looks a little different than the me of today). This is what I've taken out of the project. If you've watched and wondered for the past three months, this is it.

Last night, as I climbed for the second time, I tensed up. I could feel the tension start in my climbing shoes, at the base of my body. It worked its way up my spine. It ended in my forehead where I furrowed my brow at the wall. Shit, I thought. I'm up here at the top. I can't figure out which hold to reach for. I could back down, but I'll be damned if I do that. So I have to push forward. But where. "Gwen," the instructor (pictured below) called up, "don't get frustrated up there!"

How did she know?! I thought. How did she sense my frustration? I'm, what, twenty feet up here? Alone. Facing a wall. Talking to myself. Gritting my teeth. I let go of the wall and floated in mid-air. Went back to the wall, refocused, relaxed and kept climbing. When I got to the top I said, "release." You're supposed to say, "lower." Throwback to too many years of yoga. I think in terms of releasing - breathing and releasing. Letting the body unlock itself.

So this is my last post. And I do feel great. But it was a lonely 90 days. Attending birthday parties, watching people eat cake. Going to Happy Hour and having a virgin drink. Karaoke, sober? Forget it. Workouts? Lonely. I even felt lonely when I missed workouts. And I got frustrated with myself. Pursuing health is a lonely path. Nobody will be there 100% of the time to soothe you when you're having a chocolate craving. You aren't always going to have someone shouting from the ground, "don't get frustrated up there!"

But there's this other truth, too. Disease is just as lonely, or lonelier, than health. Life is full of loneliness. The loneliest I ever saw my mom was in the months before she died - she spent hours, days, alone. Perhaps the project has taught me to come to better grips with my loneliness. I realize I still have a long way to go (ask those closest to me - I can be hangy onny in the worst ways when I'm feeling insecure).

Here are a few things I've tackled (some on my own, some with help from others) since I started the project 90 days ago:

- financial mastery - I've taken steps like meeting with a financial planner, working with a coach that is a master at the sales process, I've set up systems for managing my money flow, the flow of wealth in my life (in all areas) has improved dramatically since the start of the project

- negotiation - I've read more than half a dozen books since the start of the project. Several on the art of negotiation. I also held a yard sale, in part to try out my skills

- food - I've tried out new recipes and developed an affinity for balsamic dressings

- housing - put in an offer on a house. Got a counter. Accepted the counter. Close on the house this month.

- travel - I've added dates to the calendar and figured out ways to stay healthy on the road (resistance bands, jump rope and in-hotel chairs are really all you need)

- "no" - I've mastered the art of saying no to foods, drinks and other things that don't serve my well-being. Without qualification. Simply, no, thank you for the offer

- sobriety - being completely sober for 90 days. I can do it. I didn't love it, but I did it. There were definitely times when I wanted to numb out/relax with a beer or 3. I didn't. And I'm happy to say I feel pretty awesome for it

- greek yogurt - are you kidding me? I'm so hot for this stuff. I will never go back to "normal" yogurt. 0% fat, 100% rock party in your mouth, y'all

- new consulting, speaking, writing and party projects

- site - the new gwenbell.com went live during this 90 day period

- protein shakes - big fan. Huge fan. Embarrassing truth

- sex life - let's just say being fit makes you want to get it on

- the skinny - I dig my body. I dig my lanky frame and long fingers. I don't want to exchange it out and that's what matters. The next person to call me a skinny bitch will be responded to with a smile. It's me, it's not going anywhere as long as I can cultivate this body/mind

Here's the thing. You have to make the decision to take care of yourself. You know, instinctively, how to do it. You have a thousand reasons not to do it. You have a thousand temptations on a daily basis. You have a thousand road blocks to health. It's a lonely, solitary path. It's a tough decision. And guess what? When you get to the top, reach out with all five of your fingers and grab hold of something, you don't hang out there to savor it. You catch and release. Then you come down and help the ones that go after you. You show them the way to the peak. It is my hope that sharing my journey to the top with you has helped you make the decision to embark on your own journey. It is lonely, but that can't stop you from reaching out.


  1. Gwen -- you are such a rockstar and inspiration!

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the blogosphere, I look forward to reading the other posts from this journey.

    Rock on sister!

  2. Awesome work done and in progress! And ditto on the Greek yogurt. Besides eating it for itself, we use it as a sub for sour cream. YUM.

  3. I've seen her arms. In person. She even let me feel one of her biceps. When I grow up, I wanna be like PCP Gwen.

  4. W00t! Congratulations lady - you are an inspiration!

  5. Congratulations Gwendolyn, I know it's been tough for you without fellow PCPers. Let's create a community in which not binge drinking and consuming nasty food doesn't result in loneliness, but in acceptance and appreciation.

    As for the photo. All I can say is, "Welcome to the gun show!"

    Nice work. Let's keep rocking it to day 19,000!

  6. Great job Gwen! You look awesome!

  7. Wow, I could relate to everything in this post. This is actually why I love Zen is Stupid; You and Patrick never say anything that's unfamiliar or unrelateable.

    And sobriety is a bitch. I don't think I could numb out - I had a shot of 101 proof SoCo early on in the project. I didn't get buzzed, but I felt a slight impairment. The opposite, though, I miss like hell. Even though weed isn't physically addictive (trust me, it isn't) I've totally craved it.

    After the project, I'll stick to pure sobriety until I figure out how I feel about such substances.