There is Spaciousness in the Gray

There is Spaciousness in the Gray
A Love Letter to my Beloved Clients (and to a younger me)

Good Morning Beautiful,

Yes you. Even during the holiday season, eating all the foods on your “mustn’t eat” list. Guess what? Black and white eating (and thinking) doesn’t serve you, anymore.

There is spaciousness in the gray.

You see, when you beat yourself up for not being perfect at this food thing; when you set standards for your eating (and probably your life) that no healthy woman should live up to, you’re entering that black and white place again.

That’s a rather constrictive place to live. And guess what? All this work you’re doing to get it “right.” All this work you’re doing to…

wrestle your body into health?

It actually takes you further away from your goal because the body doesn’t respond well to wrestling.

It wants to be gently guided

And nourished
And loved

It needs to be gently guided

And nourished
And loved

You can’t hate yourself into health.

Your body has a deeper wisdom than your head.

I promise.

Every pound of weight (notice I did not say fat), every pound of weight on that gorgeous body of yours is there to teach you something.

I’m convinced it’s there to teach you all about the

spaciousness in the gray.

That’s where you can eat beautiful food

and enjoy it

even when it isn’t on your “A List.”

That’s where you can eat grandma’s cookies and watch her face light up when she hears you say, “These cookies are absolutely delicious!”

And mean it.

Gray is a place where you go away on vacation and look at a menu and order whatever you like. Not because you are going to come home and cleanse it all away in whatever form that takes for you:

Punishing exercise.

Extreme dietary measures.

Drinking nothing but green juice for a week and wreaking havoc on your metabolism.

Or perhaps shaming yourself into a place where you dread holidays for the rest of your life.

You needn’t do any of this. You simply need to  enjoy yourself.

And your family.

And Grandma’s cookies.

Because those cookies may nourish you at a much deeper level than you realize.

And there may come a day when Grandma isn’t there anymore saying, “I baked these cookies

just for YOU.”

The more relaxed you become around food and your body, the more relaxed IT will become.

And a relaxed body finds balance. A relaxed body releases weight when there is weight to be released. A relaxed body is simply much more fun to be around, don’t you think?

Gray is a place where you

embrace your body, even your belly.

Your belly??

Uh huh. Your belly. That beautiful belly that has worked so hard to digest your food, give birth to your children, tell you when you are hungry or perhaps, a little too full.

Gray is a place where you can choose to “upgrade” the cookies at the annual cookie exchange.

Or not.

You simply don’t have to be so very “good” all the time. You might even start cultivating the Inner Rascal.

Remember, there is spaciousness in the gray.

Oh I know, you’re simply not buying this. You can’t hear it yet. That’s okay. We all have a process and you may be here in this black and white place a while longer. You might choose

perfection over self-love

angst over ease

contraction over grace

worry over sweet surrender.

But I just wanted to whisper in your ear that there is a softer way to be in the world.

And it’s pretty spectacular.

And you don’t have to wait until your body breaks down from all that stress

and all that angst

and all that worry.

You can lean into a more nourishing place

one day at a time.

You can enjoy the holiday season in all its flourish

and keep coming back to center. I’ll meet you there

with tea and chocolate.

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31 Responses to There is Spaciousness in the Gray

  1. Claudia Gold December 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Thank you for putting into words the subtle forces that can go into loving or being down on ourselves through eating. I’m going for the loving.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

      I’m so glad, Claudia!

  2. Tracey December 3, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    This is beautiful, Sue Ann. The key is to love ourselves, to be gentle with ourselves and you convey this so beautifully. I’ve been living in the gray in other areas of my life (as you know), and I’ve been taking that in stride, too, and not beating myself up that life isn’t perfect right now. “Keep coming back to center.” I agree, and I’ll see you there! xo

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

      I think of you often, Tracey. I love the luscious legacy you are leaving your daughter. And yes, there is spaciousness in the gray.

  3. Kathleen Prophet December 3, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    ohhhhhhhhhhh thank YOU, my love Sue Ann! Thank you for honoring my Grandmothers and my Mother, who at the age of 92 sent out hundreds of gingerbread cookies to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren around the world at Christmas time. The nourishment of those cookies ran deep… deep into their souls, infusing their blood and bones with the love-wisdom of this woman.

    Your wisdom has so served me in becoming more whole and loving in my relationship to myself through food… and through reclaiming the hidden love relationship that was there, unspoken, passed down through my grandmothers to my mother, and on to me. This is one of the greatest gifts you have given me. And… there are many. Thank YOU!

    and this piece… so beautifully crafted for those you love!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      I love that image of your mother sending out hundreds of gingerbread cookies to her grandchildren and great grandchildren at the age of 92, no less. There’s a lot of “heart” in a cookie, yes?

  4. Sandy Giles December 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    Hi, Sue Ann! That was just beautiful and exactly what myself and many of my friends need to hear right now! Thank you!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      So good to see you here, Sandy and yes, I think this reminder serves us well at this time of year. Thank you for reading my newsletters and visiting my blog. Have a beautiful holiday season.

  5. Alex Hickey December 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Dear Sue Ann, your blog is exactly what I’ve been looking for. These are all the things I need to hear – and learn new ways to think through and behave around. I read your post with tears and smiles. Beautiful! Thank you!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      I am warmed by your words, Alex. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Tears and smiles are good, yes?

  6. Terry Jordan December 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    Sue Ann,

    Thank you so much. Just beautiful. This is my favorite part of your message:

    “Gray is a place where you
    embrace your body, even your belly.
    Your belly??
    Uh huh. Your belly. That beautiful belly that has worked so hard to digest your food, give birth to your children, tell you when you are hungry or perhaps, a little too full.”

    Thank you for your wisdom and passion for food and nourishment.

    Have a wonderful holiday season. Enjoy Grandma’s cookies!


    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      So good to hear your “voice,” Terry! Thank YOU for supporting my efforts and investing in yourself through me. I am thrilled to see you here.

  7. Koren December 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Heading into a big holiday weekend and my tendency is to restrict and control so I don’t “go crazy.” Having read this, taking a breath and stepping into the gray. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

      I am so glad you are leaning into nourishment in a season that triggers restriction and angst, Koren. “Keep the rhythm,” doll!

  8. Denise December 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    All so true…I’m seeking this balance…this ability to be good to myself even when I’m not perfect. So, hard to do but so necessary. Thank you for so beautifully putting into words what we all would benefit from doing.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

      “The ability to be good to myself even when I’m not perfect.” Self-love at its best, Denise. It really is a “practice” isn’t it? Thank you for stopping by. I love following your journey and knowing we are walking side by side.

  9. Taylor December 7, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Nice article, to savor the season in a state of grace (gray). Thank you, Sue Ann. Found you a couple weeks ago, and appreciate your inspiration.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

      Thank you, Taylor. I’m glad you found me and I hope to see you again! Be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already.

  10. Colleen Nolan Armstrong December 7, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Thank you for such a serendipitous gift this morning, Sue. My body says “thank you, oh thank you!!” Throughout my life I have struggled with food. I am a forever recovering bulimic (it never goes away, does it?) Living in black and white never works (though we feel so good trying to do it, perfect it, dear lord!) For me, before I know it, I find my self tromping down to the family room, shutting off the overhead light, turning on HGTV, and voraciously and secretly shoving all those “no-no” foods I hadn’t permitted myself all day without even tasting them. It’s no way to live and care for my beautiful and healthy body

    Sue – keep honoring that true voice. Keep risking – your love letter touched me profoundly. And I am grateful. Will be signing up for your blog now, too. Thank you. Much love and grace to you, as you walk forward . . .

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

      So glad you are here, Colleen and no that is no way to live. In my experience, the more we give ourselves “permission” to enjoy those “no-no foods” consciously, as part of a meal rather than a late night binge, the less we turn to them for comfort followed by a huge dose of shame and regret. Does it go away? Yes, with lots of love and lots of work and lots of support. I hope you’ll give yourself those gifts.

  11. Gwendolyn Grace December 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    As a Health and Wellness coach, I totally agree with this. We love ourselves into a space of compassion with food, with life and find more room for best choices that are not black and white, but intuitively guided as we spiritually nourish our lives in many ways that feed the soul. Thankful for you, Sue Ann, expanding this gentle perspective of hope in a nation of 800,000 types of food (actually true) where most are not nourishing, but the lesser ones that are, are so beautiful we have only begun to discover them! You are making it easier without the guilt of black and white!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Yes, Gwendolyn, thank you. It’s the spiritual nourishment that supersedes the actual food, yes? When we begin to fill the deeper needs around nourishment the food thing gets a little easier to unravel. Here’s to gray. . .

  12. Anne December 9, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Dear Sue Ann, This is so beautiful…I so wish I would have been ready to hear this as a young woman, but I hear it now and it is so very sweet! I found you through the Institute for the Psychology of Eating where I’m enrolled as a student. When I read your blogs your words give voice to my thoughts and I want to thank you for being a mentor in the work you are doing in the world. Happy Holidays!

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

      Thank you for your kind words, Anne. I suspect there are many of us who could have used this message as a young woman, myself included. I’m just grateful the process led me to where I am today, growing pains and all. I’m so glad to hear you are enrolled at IPE. I know you’ll have a deeply provocative year. Thanks for stopping by my blog and taking the time to respond to a post.

  13. Melissa Dinwiddie December 14, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Yes, there is a softer way to be in the world, and the more I allow myself to sink into that softness, the better — and more spectacular! — life becomes. I wish my 16-year old self could have understood this. Instead it’s been a 30-year journey towards softening, but thank god I keep learning to grow softer!

    And thank god for you, Sue Ann, the work you do, the beautiful way you have with words. Bless you for sharing your wisdom and voice, sending out ripples that are changing the world. I’m so grateful for pieces like this. No, it wasn’t around when I was 16, but perhaps some young women (and women of any age) are reading it right now, and becoming inspired to take that first step to a softer way to be…


    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

      Melissa, I ask myself that question every single day. Could I have embraced these words as an adolescent? I don’t know. What I do know is that we simply must continue to work our own relationship to food because the legacy we are leaving is so deep and so profound. Thank you for sharing your story and being such an inspiration to so many.

  14. annie scheppach December 18, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    I have been on the “healing from the inside out” journey for twenty years after a loud wake up call…probably that followed the softer earlier ones that I could not hear. All I know for sure is that only love heals, and I had to start with myself. First, how I nourished myself with foods; then came looking at my beliefs,yoga, and a spiritual awakening. And the story goes on.
    Sue Ann the beauty of your words inspires me…the “softnes”s..ahhh feel it all around, even in the busy-ness..the softness (stillness) is there for us.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 19, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      So good to hear your voice, Annie, and yes, there is a softening. There MUST be a softening. Life is too short to punish ourselves into health. If I have learned anything from this journey, it is simply that I do not want to live this way anymore. Thank you for joining the spaciousness brigade. xxxooo

  15. December 28, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    “You can’t hate yourself into health. Your body has a deeper wisdom than your head. ” Sinking into the wisdom of my body feels like truly embracing the full palate of color that is the world. No more pendulum. No more black or white.

    One day I woke up at dawn just after it had snowed and the world had turned gray. The arms of the trees reached skyward with their frosty feathered branches, the rocks sat huddled under snow covered blankets. The Quaker hymn played in my ears, “Tis a Gift to Be Simple…” and a deep warmth crept into my soul as I allowed the sight of all this gray into my skin.

    I think I want the certainty of choices laid out for me, but that scene reminds me that gray – the color of mystery – is the beauty I seek.

    Thanks for this lovely articulation.

    • Sue Ann Gleason
      Sue Ann Gleason December 29, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      Thank YOU for the lovely articulation, Rebecca. My word this year is, once again, spaciousness, but I am also leaning into “surrender.” I want to find a willingness to live in the mystery because, like you, I believe there is beauty awaiting me there.

  16. cindy lee fearon December 23, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    beautifully said! i tend to pride myself on living in the grey, but yet when i really stop and think about it realize i’m all talk, little truth. this was a great reminder to live in the grey and not beat myself up over perceptions of perfection.

    cindy 🙂

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