Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sweaty

Getting sweaty with a dozen or so half-naked individuals was exactly what I needed today. I earned it.

After one month of avoiding the scale, even when it found its way into my bathroom (thanks Nana), I earned it. Even when I was weighed at the doctor's office twice, I faced backwards and asked not to be told. Those obnoxious, defeating, destructive magazine racks called my name, everywhere, at the grocery store, the gas station, waiting rooms, the gym, but alas I earned it. After voicing a loud and firm "No" in the direction of these threatening and useless habits, I earned it. When Gisele Buchenden dared teach me the 4 easy steps to abdominals just like hers, I passed it up for peace of mind.

I stretched, breathed, centered, reached, and relaxed my way to harmonious bliss this afternoon when I rewarded myself with a 90 minute Bikram yoga class. Yoga proved to be the most healing and restorative way to honor my month of healthy decisions. I will admit watching Ms. Pixie in the front row with her toned arms and bendy legs made me slightly jealous, but only long enough to remind myself, I am exactly who I need to be.

My body is strong, durable, capable, and healthy, not easily broken over someone's leg. Take that Ms. Pixie. See, I'm not even thinking about her at all...

5:45 this morning began a day of important events for me. Waking up earlier than any college student should in the summer, I drove my shivering behind to Perkins where I met with a small, men's Bible study group. My friend Kevin had asked if I would come share my story. What? Talk about Cambodia and what I learned? Okay. Why even ask?

The 50-something aged men gathered over steaming cups of coffee at their table in the back. After 8 years running, they still meet every Wednesday morning and I gladly joined them. I told them my story, or as much as I could fit into an hour. They were kind and asked questions. I was pleasantly surprised when instead of getting confused looks and "You are so shallow" comments, one man said, "Eating disorders are about control, right? Seeking control when life seems to lack it?" I could have hugged him. Dang, I should have. Oh well. They welcomed my story with generosity and respect.

Ear check-up appointment. No tumors (benign clausteotoma's) growing inside my head. Always a good thing. Going four years strong. Wahoo!

Called good 40-something friend Janelle.

She said, "Hey thanks for including me in your day even though you're busy and headed off for the summer."

She has no idea. I tried to explain it to her, but this woman has no idea how incredible she is. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than sipping a chai with her on this warm Colorado morning. We talk honestly about struggles as women, spirituality, crazy Adventists, and life. Man, she's good.

We discuss whether eating disorders are a life-long battle or if healing really is possible. I'm not sure that I will ever be completely content with myself, but that is not classified as an eating disorder. If dissatisfaction over appearance means you have an eating disorder, than I've never met a woman without one.

In a nutshell, beating an eating disorder means no longer engaging in potentially life-threatening behaviors. I tell her that while I am on my way to that kind of recovery, I am not okay with hating who I am for the rest of my life either.

I want to grow into an old, beautiful woman, like how I picture Maya Angelou. Wise, content, peace-giving. Yup, that's my goal. I want people to feel at rest and whole around me. I want to give that gift to others.

Later I said, "Talking to you helps confirm the lessons I've learned and the lessons I'm learning." There's just something about saying it outloud. Healing.

Dental appointment. Mom cleaned my teeth. Thanks mom.

Ran some errands.

Ah, Bikram.

This is not the end. Oh no. I have many, many more months of learning self-love ahead of me. Since the alternative is a life of self-hate, what mildly sane girl would choose the latter, again? My magazine/scale fast is reaching to the end of the summer.

Good things.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Him

Lily my dear. Good singing, good writing. I'm intrigued.

Look up the song. Worth a listen I'd say.


Him
by Lily Allen

Would you please take me away from this place
I cannot bear to see the look upon your faces
And if there is some kind of god do you think he's pleased
When he looks down on us I wonder what he sees
Do you think he'd think the things we do are a waste of time
Maybe he'd think we are getting on just fine
Do you think he's skint or financially secure
And come election time I wonder who he'd vote for

Ever since he can remember people have died in his good name
Long before that September
Long before hijacking planes
He's lost the will he can't decide
He doesn't know who's right or wrong
But there's one thing that he's sure of
this has been going on too long

Do you think he'd drive in his car without insurance
Now is he interesting or do you think he'd bore us
Do you think his favourite type of human is Caucasian
Do you reckon he's ever been done for tax evasion
Do you think he's any good at remembering people's names
Do you think he's ever taken smack or cocaine
I don't imagine he's ever been suicidal
His favourite band is Creedence Clearwater Revival

Ever since he can remember people have died in his good name
Long before that September
Long before hijacking planes
He's lost the will he can't decide
He doesn't know who's right or wrong
But there's one thing that he's sure of
this has been going on too long

Ever since he can remember people have died in his good name
Long before that September
Long before hijacking planes
He's lost the will he can't decide
He doesn't know who's right or wrong
But there's one thing that he's sure of
this has been going on too long

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

by Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

Advice from a Tree

Advice from a Tree

by Ilan Shamir


"Dear Friend,

Stand Tall and Proud
Sink your roots deeply into the Earth
Reflect the light of a greater source
Think long term
Go out on a limb
Remember your place among all living beings
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
For each yields its own abundance
The Energy and Birth of Spring
The Growth and Contentment of Summer
The Wisdom to let go of leaves in the Fall
The Rest and Quiet Renewal of Winter

Feel the wind and the sun
And delight in their presence
Look up at the moon that shines down upon you
And the mystery of the stars at night.
Seek nourishment from the good things in life
Simple pleasures
Earth, fresh air, light

Be content with your natural beauty
Drink plenty of water
Let your limbs sway and dance in the breezes
Be flexible
Remember your roots

Enjoy the view!"


I soaked up this prayer when I read it this week. So many good things. I bolded the mantras that I needed to hear today.

Starting with, "Embrace with joy the changing seasons." Ehh, I'm not a big fan of change, spontaneity, or unpredictability. I'm learning, but most of my life I've been stunted and challenged by the idea of change. So I picked up quickly that if I could control my environment, people, or my situation, life would be easier. Anorexics and bulimics are not addicted to food, they are addicted to control. I'm a perfectionist in recovery. It hasn't served me well yet and never will. There is joy in the changing seasons and intend on finding it.

Second, "Seek nourishment from the good things in life." Ahh, how I've sought nourishment from every where else. I've sought nourishment from toxic relationships, striving for perfection, making a complete fool of myself, and hurting others. I've sought nourishment from pretending to be someone I'm not and trying to impress other people instead of speaking my own truth. I'm learning to seek nourishment in good things.

Yesterday I met with my dietician/counselor who continues to set me straight and help me through this. She walked me through the ABC's of recovery. First we made a list of all of the Antecedents or triggers that regularly slip me up. Such as: comparing myself to others, negative self-talk, being around a large group of people I don't know very well, being lonely, or overwhelmed, to name a few. After the A of Antecedents, the B or Behavior that I usually engage in to try unsucessfully to solve the problem is binging and purging or restricting the food I eat. Obviously, this is not working, but for the C in Consequences we made a list of positive and negative consequences associated with my destructive behaviors. The positives of ED behavior: temporary distraction and avoidance or numbing the feeling. The negatives of ED behavior: disappearing and existing in my own life, beating myself up, abusing my body, feeling sick and tired of hating myself this way.

I dare you to identify the Antecedents, Behaviors, and Consequences of whatever your addiction is. We all have 'em, so if we can all stop pretending that'd be swell. Now get to work.

Lastly, from Advice from a Tree, "Be content with your natural beauty." Ah yes. If only I could accept myself as I am right now, at this second at 12:01 pm on a Thursday afternoon. The thought hit me a week ago, What if I am at my absolute best right now? What if I will never be thinner, prettier, stronger, more organized, or peaceful than I am at this moment? What if I will only get fatter, uglier, weaker, more dysfunctional, and chaotic for the rest of my life? If that is true, I want to be happy and gracious with what I have in front of me.

Already I look at pictures of myself and think, Dangit girl you should've been happy with what you had! Because honestly I thought I was fat when I was anorexic. There's something horribly wrong here. As Jane Wagner said, "A sobering thought: what if, at this very moment, I am living to my full potential?" While it may come as no surprise to most everyone who reads this blog (that's you Mom!), the media, beauty industry, and our culture's treatment of women, frustrates me to no end. I could spend the rest of my life fighting our destructive, manipulative, perfectionist, and deadly culture until the day I die and be totally and completely fulfilled.

Advice from a Tree. Thanks Mr. Shamir. You've done me world of good, because I believe it's the one-on-one, daily interactions and lessons we share that will change our world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Health

For the sake of writing, I write.

Home can be healing. I'm a creature of habit and so changing my location, my community, my environment tends to throw me for a loop. But I'm home in good 'ol Colorado and I'm doing okay. I was intentional about talking to those closest to me about my fears before I left and upon arriving home I asked my parents for what I needed for help, instead of getting frustrated when I didn't get it. We've been doing pretty well. Nana, my mom's mom is here visiting for a month. She's a feisty Portuguese spit fire with very little tact, a whole lot of complaints, and a horrible memory. Needless to say, we're managing. I've been making a point of getting out of the house when I need room to breathe and remembering she is old (81 but don't tell anyone) and really can't help her poor memory. I get frustrated when I tell her the date 6 times in five minutes or have to yell so she can hear me. I get frustrated when she talks about all the colored people on TV or how fat people are these days. But she's family and someday I'll be old, possibly rude, and most likely absent minded. Have patience with me and I'll try to have patience with Nana.

Being home I went to my home church, The Adventure. It's a good place with good, intentional, honest people. It's intriguing to watch the young kids in my church as they grow up. It's crazy really. But I don't embarass them by saying, "I remember you when you were just two feet tall. Boy, you've grown up haven't you?" I hated it when people said that to me as if we had a relationship or there was anything more I could do than smile and say, "Oh". Either way these kids are growing up and it blows my mind how fast.

I thought I'd feel a lot more cool now than I do. I mean I'm in college. I'm those cool college kids with cars, majors, and a social life (well, sometimes). And growing up I thought, "Yeah, that will be so cool." Eh, it's alright. But really, it just confirms my belief that some people spend their whole lives either dreading the past or anticipating a future that might not turn out as they wish it would. So the best, most nourishing place to live, is now. Yeah, I'll tell you when I master this one.

My scale/magazine fast is going well. I'll admit I've caught myself glancing sneakily over people's shoulders as they pour over People magazine, but no, I stopped and chuckled at how silly I can be. I'm really doing okay not comparing myself to daily to the world of celebritydom that I'll never be. Plus, yesterday at the doctor's office, I went through the usual routine when they weigh me of turning around and saying, "I don't need to know. Please don't tell me how much I weigh." She laughed and said, "Well, if you are that intentional about not wanting to know, you probably already know anyway." To which I proudly said, "Actually I don't. I'm on a scale fast." She just looked at me oddly and walked away. Next week Bikram yoga will find me whole, healthy, and more than what scales and magazines tell me I should be.

When I come home I attend every possible Zumba and yoga class I can. Zumba is good for my inner child and I like that it attracts all kinds: young high schoolers, middle something deprived dancers, mothers of five, and white-haired men from the senior center. It's always a good time and the instructors are really kind and willling to share their choreography and music for my own classes. Yoga has become one of the best spiritual restorations for me. Ahh. The teachers here are pretty good and it intrigues me mucho that because our lives have become so insanely busy, we actually pay for a quite room, meditation lessons, and plate crashing stress relief centers. Oh to always have a life that incorporates room to breathe and time to think.

I'm gearing up for summer camp in Tennessee. I've never done the camp thing and I believe my time has come. I'll be counseling and sports director. Yippee! I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing this summer. I've missed not having kids around, though I can't believe I'm even saying that, I'm thrilled.

Guess who lowered her cholesterol 100 points in 4 months? Yeah, take that stress and poor eating! Ha. That took a lot of oatmeal, walnuts, fish oil, and red yeast rice, trust me. Cambodia you've got nothing on me. Well, not "nothing" but less. Apparently there is still yeast, candida, and parasite eggs growing in my tummy, but they'll be gone soon, oh I hope soon...No longer anemic. No more sluggish thyroid. Ahh, good health. Good.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Riding the Waves

When I was five years-old I knew for sure that I had a family, a home, and love, though I didn't know why or how. I knew that Glenmere park and Grandpa's farm were my two favorite places on earth. I knew that boys were weird, siblings were a necessary evil, and that I liked school and strawberry ice cream.

When I was ten years-old I knew for sure that boys liked pretty girls, God should be my best friend, and sometimes life isn't fair. Moving was rough on me and I learned I was stubborn and outspoken. I knew for sure that five was long gone and fifteen couldn't come too soon.

At fifteen I knew for sure that life had the potential to be fickle and unpredictable, so I sought to control it. Planning, schedules, efficiency, and perfection trickled into my life as naturally as autumn winds. I knew for sure that I was pretty, perfection was my end goal, and I had confidence that I could handle life just fine on my own. I knew I was somewhat smart, good at sports and music, but it all paled in comparison to being skinny and pretty.

At twenty years-old I knew for sure that I was tired, exhausted, confused, and lost. Everything I thought I knew for sure had been ripped out from under me like a rug, and I landed on my butt--hard. I knew for sure that home was far away and so were the family and friends I so desperately needed. Life threw me a curve ball and I was struggling to stay upright. Alone was the scariest place to be, nonetheless, alone in Cambodia with bulimia, doubting everything I had once been so sure of, everything I had believed in. Fighting to comprehend, analyze, and make sense of the foreign reality surrounding me proved...hopeless.

And now, here I sit at twenty-one and a half years-old. What do I know for sure? I know for sure that I'll never know anything for sure. Life is fluid, constantly changing, unpredictable, and impossible to contain. Why would I try to control the expanse of the ocean? I can ride the waves instead of fighting them. Life is a journey. It's the getting there, the detours, the lessons, and the bumpy roads that keep me alive. My friend Kevin told me last night about snooping for his Christmas presents a month early and finding them. When Mom found out they had found the gifts, they had Christmas then and there. He said it was the worst Christmas ever because there was no anticipation, no surprises. Not knowing just might be okay.

I know for sure that the truth has set me free and will continue to. I want to be honest, transparent, and authentic until I take my dying breath because being in touch with my humanness and the humanity of others makes life entirely worth living.

I know for sure that this life is my own and I need to show up every single day. My personal best will change from day-to-day, I can't promise a 3.9 GPA and beaming smile every day, but I had to keep living my balanced best. If showing up means enduring and fighting for what I believe in, so be it. If showing up means allowing myself to change course, make mistakes, remove myself from a painful situation, or say a solid, "No", so be it. Never again will my pride make my decisions for me. Life is just too sacred.

I know for sure that the single greatest battle I'll ever fight is the one inside my head. The mind is a powerful thing, but there is always support, hope, and the road less traveled by.

I know for sure that there is something greater, bigger, wiser, and more powerful than myself in the universe. I cannot prove God, no one can. But I can choose to believe. Everyone may call it something else, but the more I learn, the more I realize how little I actually know. The complexities, intricacies, and details of a pecan are intriguing to me, nonetheless why people love, how the seasons change, or how every morning, without fail, I take a deep breath, my heart continues beating, and I am alive and well. Spirituality is constant amazement and I am amazed.

I know for sure that a year from now or ten years from now I will read this and think, Wow, that girl had so much to learn, and that's fine by me because if I know anything for sure in my short twenty-one and a half years on planet earth, it is this: I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me and I'm going to ride the waves one day at a time.

Amen.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fasting for Bikram

I am fasting. It's the only thing I can think to do to save my health. I'm fasting for a month. I started April 22nd and I will at least go until May 22nd, a good solid month. When I get inundated with stuff, all the "should"s and "ought to"s, the only thing I can think to do is avoid it entirely. My fast is two-fold, let me explain.

First of all, I am on a magazine fast. Have you ever looked at what they call "Women's Interest" magazines? Apparently, looking at the covers, "Women's Interests" are constant dieting, the lives of celebrities, and looking hot and sexy. Those are not any of my interests. If I'm not interested, am I still a woman? Gosh, I hope so.

Frankly, I don't need any help tearing myself apart, comparing myself to others, or wishing I was someone else. Without even thinking, I often find myself sucked towards the magazine rack pouring over Brad and Angelina's latest adoption plans or what Jennifer Anniston eats for breakfast. That's weird. No really, this is strange to be fascinated reading about what complete strangers talk about, read, and eat. In addition to such craziness as People magazine, are Glamour, Self, and Shape, who regularly feature perfect, flawless, thin, beautiful women on their covers, women I will never be.

PROs of reading magazines=
some useful information
boredom fixer in airports

CON's of reading magazines=
suddenly feel ugly, worthless, fat, not enough, overwhelmed
unimportant information
time waster
money waster
contributing to the problem

I am not talking about fasting from ALL magazines, just the destructive, life-sapping ones that make me feel like a worthless human being. This does not include O, Real Simple, or Newsweek magazines. Thanks guys.

Secondly, I am on a scale fast. Now is a "fast" or a "vow". Eh, we'll call it a fast for now. Gimme a month first, then we'll see. I've gone a month before, but if I want positive change in myself, I need to be intentional about it. I've probably only weighed myself a hand full of times in the last 3 years, but each time is a negative experience and a broken promise to myself and all those girls in the eating disorder group I attended freshman year.

Last week, sitting in the TJ Maxx dressing room, I wished for a microphone to record the conversations that take place there. What escapes the mouths of females in dressing rooms, would make other people cry, but it's accepted, normal because they are saying it to themselves. "Ugh, I'm such a fat cow. This gives me cankles."
"I hate shopping. Everything makes me look disgusting."
"Ugggghh, why didn't God give me even a fighting chance?"
"Damn boobs!"

Or even worse, an abrasive mother to her young daughters.
"Oh sweety, you're too fat to wear something that pretty."
"Eww gross, take it off right now!"

Cringing at every blow, I wanted to somehow help or end the attacks, but I had just spent an hour internally hating myself too, and knew exactly what they were talking about.

Really, the only reason many women, including rail-thin, 100 pound teenagers, weigh themselves, is to find out if they are a "good" person or a "bad" person. How did we ever start assigning numbers to determine value? We do it with age, weight, clothing size, income. So I want to invent a scale that does just that. It gives a person their value when they step onto it, except there would only be one option and it would always, always read: Perfect.

PROs of weighing myself=
....ummmm?

CONs of weighing myself=
feel worse, ALWAYS
reducing myself to a number
following a destructive culture I don't want to endorse
only part of the problem

So while I began 2 weeks ago, I'm going until May 22nd, one month. I'm starting small as not to overwhelm myself. We'll start with one month, then 3 months, a year, a lifetime. As a reward for avoiding destructive magazines and scales, I will treat myself to a Bikram hot yoga class, a $15 investment for this poor college student. It's worth it. Ahh, good stuff.

Yesterday, walking through airports, I had to walk the long way around magazine racks calling my name, "Heaaatttthhhheerrr, you know you want it..." But no. Then a woman sitting next to me on the plane had 3 different celeb magazines and offered me one. I stayed strong. I said, "No thank you." Then she put it in front of me and said, "Well, just in case you change your mind." After sitting at least 15 minutes contemplating if I wanted to look at it or not, I picked it up and put it back in front of her, saying, "I really don't need the temptation. You keep it, but thanks really."

On my way Bikram. Save me a spot.