Brain Fog: It Might Not Begin In Your Brain

“Brain fog.” I have it bad.

Fog is the right word, too…a feeling that clarity, memory, and focus are just out of reach, beyond a misty veil in my brain. I know the good stuff is there because I can glimpse it — but not very well or for very long.

I find this to be one of the most frustrating symptoms of this time in my life. Investigating why brain fog is so prevalent in today’s society (and particularly for women at midlife) has led me to some interesting theories about the second brain — our gut.

The more I read and research, the more I’m coming to believe that the health of our bodies AND our minds begins with the complex biome of our bellies.

Turns out, what we put into our bodies might be one of the most important things we can do for healthy bodies and our minds.

There are many foods that trigger brain fog and chances are, you already know what those are. It can differ for everyone, but I know that gluten and dairy are big “foggers” for me. Stress and sugar are also nasty culprits.

All added together, you’ll find me staring off into space, struggling to find the right words, forgetting what someone just said to me, or wondering WHY DID I WALK INTO THIS FRIGGIN’ ROOM and WHY IS MY PHONE IN THE BUTTER COMPARTMENT OF THE FRIDGE??!

Exercise, good sleep, and stress reduction are vital to great brain function, but what if I told you that our health is actually 80% what we put into our body and 20% physical movement? Turns the 80/20 health thinking on its head, right?

I had to ask myself: Am I willing to give up foods that I love in order to sweep away the fog? What’s it worth to me to be able to think clearly, focus for longer periods of time, and be more creative and innovative?

What’s it worth to you?

When I did my 90-Day reset, I eliminated my food culprits and noticed a HUGE difference in my thinking and productivity! I’m now wishing I’d made those changes permanent. In fact, I’m coming to believe that my quality of life and the quality of the work that’s so important to me depend on me doing so.

In Which I Have The Audacity To Edit Thomas Merton

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Thomas Merton

And then acting on that. <– There. See? Better. But still not quite right.

Upon further contemplation, I want to rewrite this statement altogether. Sometimes, you do have to rearrange the circumstances of your life in order to find peace.

Working backward, it seems to me that:

If you realize who you are at the deepest level, then change your circumstances to reflect that truth, you will find peace. – Tracy Clark

Go ahead, quote me on that.

I’m not just navel-gazing here. I lived this process a few months back and changed and rearranged things from every segment of my life. I called it my Total Life Course and it radically changed my life. Now I’m working hard to build a community for others to do the same.

For example, things that were at the bottom of my “Soul/spirit” list had to be moved and prioritized at the top. Meditation, for example.

In my “Emotional” area, I had to commit to not numbing out uncomfortable feelings. Instead of diffusing the fire with my compassionate attention, I’d douse it with food, shopping, sex, or alcohol. Of course those things didn’t make my difficult feelings go away, they only fueled the blaze. I had to rearrange my thinking and get brave enough to walk into the fire. I had therapists tell me about this superhero move, but I didn’t believe in it…until it worked.

Of course, the changes in what I put into my body affected my “Health” sector as well. It’s all connected.

Rearranging my life by…

  1. Listening to who I really was, and
  2. Acting on that inner truth

…had a ripple effect that flowed throughout my entire life.

I call Total Life Course a “whole life makeover” because that’s what it’s been for me. I believe that if you don’t realize the truth of who you are, then take the steps to BE that person, you will be stuck in a pattern of conflict within yourself. Peace will come when you stop the infighting and surrender to the wisdom that’s already inside of you. No one has your back like your Highest Self.

You might have to do some metaphorical furniture moving, but your space will be so much cleaner, clearer, and peaceful.

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Total Life Course – The 90-Day Plan That Changed My Life!

I want to talk about getting real honest about the course you’re on in your life.

Are you headed in the direction you sincerely want to go?

I promise you that you’re going somewhere, it just might not be a destination you’ll like very much.

We all go through phases that cause us to rethink and reevaluate our lives. Life’s not meant to be a mundane continuum. Nor should it always feel like an uphill climb where your Highest Self sits on the mountaintop waving frantically while you spin in circles, lost or stuck, with no idea how you’ll reach the peak.

For some of us, these phases of reexamination can be periods of major upheaval and change—a radical shift from who we were toward who we are meant to be. A rebirth. Not to over employ the caterpillar/butterfly metaphor but c’mon…they’re badass when it comes to transformation.

Metamorphosis is a messy, stunning business.

Two months shy of my 47th birthday, I got honest and sat (and cried) with the uncomfortable truth that I felt pressed and contorted and irreversibly breech in nearly all aspects of my life. I felt like every limb was employed in the effort to stay exactly where I was—a nice little psychic hidey-hole of my own making. The rub was, despite my obstinacy on staying put, I didn’t like where I was.

And I sure as hell didn’t like where I was going.

I’m self-aware enough to realize that my personal gridlock was a classic preference for the ‘devil we know.’ I resisted change because change is scary, difficult, un-fun, and risky. Who needs that when you can have another glass of wine, another slice of comfort-pie, and binge-watch Outlander so you can numb out from all the unpleasant truths crashing around like bats inside of you?

Despite the fact that people have described me as brave, I didn’t feel courageous in my day-to-day life. I felt gutless, stuck in my own thick quicksand, and was doing nothing to save myself. Deep inside, I knew what I had to do.

Go ahead. Try and tell me you don’t know your own deep inside truths.

For years, I’d heard (and blithely ignored) the calls of my Highest Self. I think she stopped waving and just plopped down on a rock with her chin in her hands, wondering if I’d ever get off my ass or quit putting boulders on my own trail.

I wanted to change but didn’t, if you feel me. I justified, procrastinated, denied, and lied myself out of genuine change. The more I did that, the more frustrated and lost I became.

When I learned to fly, my instructor gave me a great lesson on the importance of regular compass checks. What did she do? She let me get lost. I had no idea where we were and only a vague notion of how long we’d been off course. It can happen very fast. Imagine a compass with the directional lines fanning out from a dot in the center, much like the spokes on a wheel. At the very center, the lines are close together, but as you continue outward on any one line, the lines get farther and farther apart.

The longer it takes you to figure out you’re off course, the more off course you will be.

I realized with the bracing acuity of a dump truck-sized ice-bucket challenge that I needed a major course correction.

Fundamentally unhappy about too many aspects of my life, I was sick and tired of the fact that I’d been sick and tired of the same issues for so long.

Do you ever just get desperately weary of your own bullshit?

The bottom line is that I was suffering because I kept ignoring my Highest Self calling for change; changes only I could make. Changes that I knew intuitively would usher in a radical life shift; spiritually, physically, and energetically.

That Self—the most intuitive, honest, wise part of me—knew what to do.

I spent a weekend writing about everything that wasn’t working in my life and got real honest about why. How had I arrived here? What did I need to do to orient myself? I looked through volumes of my journals and could see that my “HS” had been talking to me for years.

That time was spent doing the most important thing I’ve done for myself since 2008 when I lost 50 pounds and transformed my health.

I created at 90-Day Plan—a whole-life plan—that I called: TOTAL LIFE COURSE.

I assessed the various issues I grappled with, divided my life into 5 sections, and created the “Course Correct Rules” by which I vowed to live for those 90 days.

My thinking was that it would need to be a significant enough amount of time to heal my body from years of carelessness. To shore up areas that were faltering such as work and finances. It would have to be long enough to truly break some self-defeating habits so that I could begin to heal my body and soul. It would need to be long enough to make lasting changes that would become a lifestyle.

Why’d I call it TOTAL LIFE COURSE? Because what I decided I had to do felt utterly radical and across the board. Some of the changes would be extensive departures from how I lived my daily life and would go against some of my very ingrained (and very enjoyable) habits. To commit to 90 days of across the board, sweeping changes felt utterly guerrilla and revolutionary in tactic.

In a very real way, I wanted to boldly wipe the slate clean. My gut told me to brush off the notion that it’s easier to make small, gradual changes because I believe that all aspects of our lives work in concert with one another. You can’t fly just by focusing on the engine of the plane and ignore the wings or the instruments. Everything works together. Every aspect of my life either supports or destabilizes the whole of me.

I knew I needed to shut the door on the old me with the old ways of coping, and gracefully step into this new phase of my life being more wholly authentic and brave.

Getting older and getting better takes guts, y’all.

The results were amazing.

My Total Life Course truly changed my health, my work, and my life!

I began to realize that I couldn’t be the only one grappling with the awareness and frustration of not being who I was truly meant to be…

Reaching out and sharing my journey made me realize how many people felt the same way. An opportunity and a challenge presented itself—to create a positive and supportive community with the goal of helping others overcome their own stalemate and move toward the best in themselves and in their lives.

This isn’t about striving for the “shoulds.”

“Should” is the gnarled stick we beat ourselves with.

It’s about what you deeply want. The core of you.

It’s about the willingness to let go of all that isn’t truly in your best interest.

The litmus test for that is a ‘no’ answer to anything that you can’t honestly say represents your best life or your highest vision you have about who you are.

If you’ve been feeling the same pain and frustration, if you’ve been putting off the necessary changes to reorient yourself on a route that will enable you to cross the gulf between who you are and who you want to be, then it’s time for a Radical Reset.

It’s never too late or too early.

Take my hand. We’ll climb that mountain together.

Our Highest Selves will be so glad.

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