Friday, December 31, 2010

The Obligatory New Year's Eve Post

Hey!  It looks like I'm back!  Thanks for being so gracious and supportive about my break-taking.  It is much appreciated, blog friends.  Also, I'm glad that so many people enjoyed my pumpkin caramel oats recipe.  If you haven't tried it yet, do it.  You will not regret it.

It also looks like it's New Year's Eve.  In a handful of hours, not even a drop in the bucket of eternity, 2010 will be gone forever.  And I have to admit -- I'm not all that broken up about it.  2010 has been a rough one for me.  Not that I expect the turning of the calendar year to fix all my problems.  But there is something tantalizing about a freshly hung calendar and the untouched expanse of a new year, as pristine as new-fallen snow reflecting the glimmering moonlight.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions.  While I'm hoping to capitalize off of others' resolutions (incarnating as increased attendance in my fitness hula hoop class), resolutions don't do much for me.  That said, I do have a focus for 2011.  A theme, if you will.  And that theme . . . will be the topic of tomorrow's post (oh, cruel suspense!).

But since I'm not entirely evil, I'll leave you with this video from Jonathan Baxter of the HoopPath.  He talks about hooping as a personal practice, which is something I hope to be running with for the new year:

 

How will you be spending this last day of 2010?  How about the first day of 2011?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pumpkin Caramel Oats

Caramel pumpkin oats

I know, I know.  I'm breaking my self-declared blogging hiatus.  But this breakfast was too good to keep all to myself.

This was an oat-alicious breakfast of moderation.  After doling out about 1/3 cup of oat bran, 1/3 cup of oat meal, and two heaping spoonfuls of pumpkin puree into a mug, I stirred in just a smidge of each of the following:
  • cinnamon 
  • vanilla extract
  • vanilla protein powder
  • sugar free caramel flavor (the kind you put in coffee)
  • caramel macchiato creamer
  • raisins
Then I microwaved the whole mess for just over a minute (until the concoction began to bubble and threaten to overflow the the mug), removed, stirred again, and sprinkled a bit of coconut shavings over the top.

All I can say is yum.  And it was so easy, with no measuring tools required.  Use your eyeballs and your tummy's intuition and you'll be good to go.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gimme a Break

Image source
I really enjoyed reading all of your poopalicious recovery comments on my last post.  Recovery is challenging on so many different levels, and it's time that we start discussing the stuff everyone's afraid to talk about because it's weird, awkward, and/or messy.  It's better that it's out in the open, where its scare-power is lessened, than being shrouded in mystery and fear.  Which is kind of like how the majority of women in labor poop while giving birth -- and don't find out that this is a possibility until it's actually happening.  Can you imagine?  If I'm going to poop in front of other people, I want to at least be prepared!

Okay, enough with the poop talk.  Oddly enough, for all this talk of talk, I've been finding myself without much to say via blog.  So, instead of berating myself for "failing" at blogging, or just taking up blogosphere space with fluffy, not-very-meaningful posts, I'm giving myself permission to take a week off from the blog.  Take that, perfectionism!

Also, maintaining this blog takes major energy, and at least some of that energy I'd rather invest in novels or freelance writing.  I'd rather write creatively each day and blog only a few times a week rather than vice versa.  So I'm taking the week off, giving myself mental space to re-excite myself about blogging, and during that time I'll also be thinking about whether I should cut back the frequency of my posts.  Besides, I think we'd all rather see three really good posts on this blog each week rather than six or seven mediocre ones.

And, just because it's fun, I'll leave you with the latest hooping challenge that I've been working on -- a toss and chest roll that I hope to eventually turn into a behind-the-back toss and roll:

 

What's your take on the post frequency issue?  What would you like to see on this blog in the future?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Joy of Pooping

Image source
That's right -- pooping. 

We tend to be generally familiar with many of the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder in our loved ones -- dramatic weight loss or gain (depending on the disorder), obsession with food and weight, depression, isolation, and so forth.  However, we don't talk much about what happens after a person with an eating disorder starts to get better.  Although I've been mulling over this idea for a post for quite some, Clare's post on her struggle with the physical fallout of her food restriction and compulsive overexercise spurred me to get writing. 

As you may know, although I have struggled with using eating as a way to soothe myself, my most life-threatening battle with disordered eating manifested about five years ago in starvation, food restriction, and overexercise.  I dropped to 112 pounds, which is not much on my 5'7" frame, and for a while would eat only salads (which contained nothing more substantial than veggies and low-cal dressing).  I experienced heart palpitations, thinning hair, dry skin, constant feelings of cold, a non-existent libido, extreme fatigue, and bruising due to my body's lack of fat.  It was, in a word, bad.

By the grace of God I somehow found myself being treated by a loving therapist twice a week, who challenged me to increase my food intake and, more importantly, ask why I was abusing myself so much.  And, slowly, I put healthy weight and fat back on my bones and so entered recovery. 

Happy, right?  Looking back, yes, I know that this was all very good, even while I might not have shared those sentiments at the time.  But there were side effects that accompanied my slow journey back to health that nobody talks about.  Although the side effects each recovering disordered eater experiences can be very different, my particular struggle was with poop.

Yep.  Poop.

As I worked to attain an adequate daily food intake, my body struggled to digest anything and everything.  This side effect is fairly common with folks who restrict food, especially if there has been laxative abuse involved.  My problem was probably compounded by the fact that, even while I was including nutritious additions in my diet, I still enjoyed a massive veggie salad everyday.  Combining my bowl of uber-fiber with my already comprised digestion meant that I had gas.  Lots and lots of it.  Basically, I smelled like poop all the time.  My students asked why it smelled like somebody had soiled their pants.  It was mortifying. 

I wish I could give other recovering disordered eaters a works-like-a-charm method to avoid this bloating, constipation, and gas.  But there isn't any such method.  All I can say, as trite as it may sound, is that it gets better.  Just keep working on getting better, and your body will eventually follow. 

And for those who know someone who's battling an eating disorder, be kind.  Understand that your loved one is very much aware of her poopalicious issue, and that she needs your reassurance that you are still by her side, even if it is a very smelly side at the moment.  I am so blessed that the Best Husband Ever showed this grace and love to me.  Instead of pointing out that I smelled, or that my stomach was always distended, he didn't even mention it until much, much later, after I was out of the gassy woods, and even then he reassured me that it was okay.  He knew it wasn't my fault, and that he preferred it to my being on death's door, completely imprisoned by anorexia. 

Please extend the same love to friends or family who are struggling to climb out of the pit of disordered eating!  Although it may seem like a small courtesy -- or maybe it seems like a huge favor -- do it anyway.  Your loved one will be profoundly grateful.

Is there a side effect that you or a loved one has experienced during recovery that no one ever said to expect?  How did you or your loved one deal with it?

* * *

I broke the blog's feed!  You may have to resubscribe.  Please do! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Broke It

I broke my feed.  *Sniffle.*  Some fiddling I did over the weekend to take my Delicious bookmarks out of the feed apparently changed the entire darn thing.  So you'll have to resubscribe (here), I'm afraid.  Please do.  I'll send you candy.

Okay, I won't send you candy.  But we can pretend . . . right?

Resubscribe, preciouses!  It'll make my day.  No, really, it will.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dealing With Disappointment: Four Tips to Get You Through

Day 3 / Lost

So I haven't blogged in a couple of days.  I attribute the lack of blogification to a combination of apathy, expectancy, and not knowing what to say.  But I'm back, and I'm sad.  My waiting is over, and the results are in.

Let me explain.  Last week I interviewed for a teaching/family outreach job.  This job is in fact the exact same job that I left early this year (a decision that I now believe was the wrong one), only at a different school.  With this interview came the feeling that I had an opportunity to undo this past bad decision, to restart.  Since I left my old job, I've felt adrift in life.  It's as if when I was working at the old school that I was immersed in a current of direction, of purpose, of being in on something big with God.  Now that I've left that flow, I'm lost at sea.  I saw this new job opportunity as my rescue ship.

So I gussied up and went to the interview.  And -- it went great.  Really great.  I don't think I've ever had a more positive experience during an interview.  The principal of the school and I really had a nice dialogue, and the whole experience felt much more like a conversation than a question and answer session.  I left pumped, sure that I'd gotten the job.  After all, who could be more qualified than me?

Yesterday evening the principal called.  She told me that she offered the job to somebody else.  Somebody else.  I felt crushed.  The principal was very positive, saying that it was an incredibly touch decision and that a school would be lucky to have me and to not give up and so forth.  I tried to take her words to heart as I believe that they are genuine -- but I can't help feeling devastated.  Since my interview I had been seeing myself back in the teaching sphere, back where I should have been.  Now I'm still in the same place, only with a little more angst.

However, things aren't all negative.  Despite how I might feel, my life isn't over.  In fact, I've got quite a few good things going on.  For example, I'm teaching more hooping, such as at a fabulous dance studio I just discovered.  I'm also going to be hanging out with teen girls at a local community center once a week, hoops in hand, and that could be pretty darn awesome.  I have big dreams about combining hooping with eating disorder recovery.  Now I have space to see those dreams realized.

We've all been put through the disappointment wringer at one time or another, and we all have different ways of dealing.  Here are my tips on how to walk through disappointment:
  • Let it all out.  When I got off the phone with the principal last night, I cried.  At first I tried to hold back the tears, but then I realized that smothering my sadness wouldn't help anybody.  So I wept.  Feel what you're feeling, and know that it's okay to experience emotions.  Normal, even.  Gasp!  
  • Be realistic about the situation.  As I said above, I left the interview positive that I had snagged the job.  But a small part of me, the part that wasn't quite so sure, thought that if I didn't get the job my life would be over.  This is not true.  Obviously, because I'm alive and blogging from the other side of my disappointment.  When you experience disappointment, put things in perspective.  Yes, you are sad, but things aren't as dire as you might feel in the moment.  There will be other opportunities, other ways your hope can be realized.
  • Take stock.  Just because I didn't get this amazing job doesn't meant that I don't have other really great things going on in my life.  The same is true for everybody.  Take a look inside yourself, at the life that's happening in and around you, and appreciate the really awesome stuff that's taking place.  Make a list if it helps and post it somewhere you'll see it often.  
  • Hope, and keep on hoping.  Emily Dickinson wrote, "Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all."  Don't stop hoping.  Don't stop living.  You have a life that's waiting for you.  Plan, dream, create, scheme, hope, and keep hoping, no matter what.  In my opinion, hope is the fuel that powers our inner lives.  
I wish I had gotten that job.  Words can't express how much I wanted it.  But the fact is that I didn't get the job, and now I have to get on with things.  The eating disorder side of my brain wanted to hunker down for a "therapeutic" binge (as if there is such a thing) last night, but I didn't.  The depressed side of my brain wants to hide under the covers for the next month, but I'm not going to.  I believe that God's in charge here, and that my employment status has nothing to do with my worth.  And, if I really stop to think about it, that's a ridiculously huge blessing.

When was the last time you were disappointed in a big way?  How do you deal with disappointment and loss?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Link Appreciation Day

I have been reading a lot of interesting material on the web these days.  And as I've just taken my Delicious links out of this blog's feed, I thought I'd dedicate a post to what's digitally rocking my world.  Enjoy!

Hooping
  • Philo Hagen, founder of Hooping.org, recently made his first hooping video in a long, long time, called Gotta Hoop.  It's a good one -- so good, in fact, that it inspired the New York Times to write a feature on Mr. Hagen.  Go Philo!
  • This past week Bhakti Omwoods (who is also a To the Fullest reader) took her hoop out to play and made a mesmerizing video of her practice.  What makes this even cooler is that Bhakti's mp3 player's batteries died part way through, allowing her to have a profound experience hooping to silence.  Check out her blog post here!
Yoga
Creativity
  • So many of the posts from The Urban Muse are bookmark-worthy.  However, the guest post called Disappointment: The Key to Creative Freedom truly stands out.  Plus, the title is super catchy.  Go, read, and start cultivating your creativity freedom.
  • Ernest Hemingway was one of the few "great" authors that I appreciated when I first ran across his work in my high school literature classes.  An Art Full Life's post on quotes concerning writing from his memoir A Moveable Feast only kindles my enjoyment of Hemingway's words.
Mental Health
  • I just recently discovered To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) via Twitter.  This non-profit is dedicated to helping people grappling depression, suicide, addiction, and self-mutilation.  There's not much more I can say to describe how awesome I think this organization is, so you'll just have to get check TWLOHA out for yourself.
Giving Back
  • This weekend I watched the film Somewhere Near Tapachula, which highlights the amazing work of a missionary couple with the street children of Tapachula, Mexico.  I didn't think I'd like the movie, but I was very wrong.  I'll leave you with the teaser trailer of their story:
 

Has anything on the internet particularly struck you lately?  Share it, pretty please!  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Faking It

I am not a confident person.  Or, perhaps more accurately, I tend not to feel very confident the majority of the time.  This is something I'd like to change.  At the same time, however, maybe "feeling" a certain way isn't really the point.  After all, one doesn't have to feel romantic to be in love, or feel heard to be heard, or to feel creative and inspired to make art.  You can be in love, be heard, and be creative without "feeling" those things all the time.  Does that make sense?

When I was at Hoopcamp earlier this year, a recommendation more than of the workshop leaders shared was to "fake it 'til you make it."  They meant that if you're hooping it up, for a performance or just for fun, and you're quaking with insecurity and self-consciousness, pretend instead that you believe you're an amazing dancer and go for it.  Just because you feel awkward or clumsy or uninspired does not make that true for whoever might be watching.  And maybe acting as if you're awesome will help make that true.

This week I wanted to take my hoops out to play downtown.  Hoopcamp aside, I've never hooped in so populated and public a place.  I was nervous, but I also really wanted to do it.  So I did. 

As I was trucking across a busy bridge en route from my car to the pavilion that was my hoop-tastic destination, I quailed against the wind and the gazes from passing cars and pedestrians.  My shoulders slumped as insecurity flooded my being -- What do they think of me?  Do I look weird carrying hoops?  Do I look fat?  Do I look ugly?  What do they think what do they think what do they think --

Halfway across the bridge, the Hoopcamp advice came back to me -- fake it 'til you make it.  So I tried.  I straightened my spine and thrust my shoulders back.  I told myself that I was a kickin' hoop dancer and that people were looking at me in wonder, wanting to know what I was doing, wanting to join me.  I told myself that I rocked, and I began to believe it. 

Is this what people mean when they say they manifest things in their lives?  That they pretend what they desire is true until it is?  There's something powerful in this faking it.  As I hooped and danced under the downtown pavilion, I wondered if I wasn't just encouraging myself as I faked confidence,  Maybe I was tapping into what God truly wants us to be -- and knows that we are under all of the crud and mess that the world heaps upon us. 


What do you think about "faking it 'til you make it"?  Is it a life-changing mantra or a form of self-delusion?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

List of Love

I tread on the dark side too often, I think. I'm not talking about becoming Darth Vader's apprentice, but about negativity.  It's very, very easy for me to see what is lacking and what needs improvement, especially when it comes to myself.  I forget to, as trite as it may sound, count my blessings, which are many.

This morning's perusal of the Hoop City forums led me to a discussion of love lists, as inspired by those on Kristen Carr's website, Crazy Sexy Life.  Carr's love list is a list of ten things that she is loving right now.  These items may be grandiose or minute, but regardless of profundity, Carr is mindfully declaring her gratitude for whatever she is loving in the moment, and there is power in that.

So I decided to make my own love list.  Here are ten things for which I am really grateful, right now:

  1. God | Even when I'm busy screwing up majorly, I never feel like God's upset with me or angry or whatever. Quite the opposite, in fact. It feels like the more messy I am, the more amazing His presence in my life is.
  2. My husband | He puts up with a lot, and does it graciously. He is a good, good man.
  3. Our dogs! | We have 3 pups, and they bring me so much joy.
  4. Hoop-related joy | I love when my practice turns into a prayer or meditation or a joy-filled dance, less about technique and more about living.
  5.  Coffee | It's good stuff.  I enjoy it.  Probably too much.
  6. Reading | There is such joy for me in this. Words are powerful! I feel blessed that I can read, and that I love to do so.
  7. Blue skies | Although a gray sky is beautiful in its own way, I cannot describe the joy and freedom I feel when the clouds roll away to reveal the sun. Especially if that sun is sparkling on fresh snow.
  8. Other people | It took me a long time to realize how valuable relationships of all kind are to me. I'm glad I'm appreciating the people in my life more and more. They give me so much.
  9. Being kind to my body | With my history of disordered eating, I've almost always abused my body in some way. I'm slowly learning how to be kind to my physical self, and while it's really challenging, it's also makes me feel good in so many ways.
  10. Light | I respond so positively to light, especially sunlight. It's so simple, but it makes me so happy! 

    I love these guys.
    What's on your love list today?

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    A Conversation With God

    131/365
    Me: I believe that You can free me from disordered eating, but I don't believe that I can let you.

    God: I am ready to lead you to the promises of OA -- the promises of freedom.*

    Me: Hmm . . . that's nice.  But I still think I get in Your way and don't know how to get out of it.  It's impossible.

    God: The way you continually talk about your inabilities is an insult to Me.  To complain over your incompetence is to accuse Me of having overlooked you.  I haven't.**

    Me:  Oh.  *Grins sheepishly.*

    I love synchronicity, how God always has just what I need to hear ready and waiting at exactly the right time I need to hear it.  Do you ever experience that?  Do tell!

    * From the November 30 reading in For Today.
    ** From the November 30 reading in My Utmost for His Highest.

    * * *

    I am participating in Reverb 10, inspired by Hoopcamp guest poster Steph (who, I might add, crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line a day early!).  Reverb 10 asks participants to reflect on the past year and begin to think deep and mindful thoughts about the imminent new year, providing daily prompts to fuel these ruminations.  I feel like I have a lot to process from 2010, so I'm in.  Find my Reverb 10 reflections on the Tumblr blog I created just for the project, Mrs. Cellophane.  There is also a link at the top right corner of every page on To the Fullest.

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    Cleaning Up and Saying Good-Bye . . . For Now

    Packed away clothing + overly eager dogs

    I am terrible at folding laundry.  The washing and drying of it is easy for me to do, but afterward I tend to let the clean clothing languish in a wrinkle-inducing pile.  Sometimes this pile sits in the dryer, slowly picked through by the Best Husband Ever and I, and sometimes I dump it into a basket and haul it back up to the bedroom, promising myself that I'll fold it later.  I hardly ever get around to it.

    This cycle of habitual non-folding eventually led to there being vast amounts of so-called clothing draped about our bedroom.  I say "so-called" because, after sitting in a pile for a month or more, can the dust-accumulating laundry truly be called clean?  Probably not.  But, more importantly for us, the piles were ugly.  Ugly, and not conducive to rest or comfort or feeling good about our home. 

    My change in weight over the past year does nothing to help the problem.  Clothes that fit me last November no longer do.  Shopping trips to Goodwill helped fill the gap, but I also didn't want to get rid of my smaller clothing.  After all, both my body and my mind would like me to slim down a bit.  When I do, I'd like to have those old favorite outfits on hand, rather than getting rid of anything that doesn't fit right now and having to re-buy smaller sizes as need dictates.  Part of my reluctance to get rid of these items is sentimental, and part of it is practical.  Put this dilemma together with the massive amounts of laundry that needed attention, and I turned into an overwhelmed mess, feeling paralyzed against taking action.

    This weekend, I came clean to the Best Husband Ever over coffee.  I fessed up that I didn't know what to do about my varying sizes of clothing -- that I didn't want to get rid of it, but that keeping it around was unmanageable and impractical.  Plus, having to face too-small clothing every single day was not helping my mental state.  Thankfully, he was able to offer me some sound advice (he is the Best Husband Ever, after all).  He agreed that it's probably a smart move not to toss the clothes I'm too big for right now, but also said that the messy laundry situation was making him increasingly more frustrated.  For the sake of our mutual sanity, something had to give.

    So I took action.  Armed with two large plastic storage bins, I waded into the clothing mire that had overtaken our bedroom.  As I had already culled my wardrobe of anything I wouldn't (or just wasn't) wearing regardless of size a few months back, I didn't have to worry about what to keep versus what to donate.  I just had to organize it all.

    Where has all the unfolded laundry gone?
    Into the bins went anything that I would like to wear but can't due to sizing.  Into the dresser or closet went everything that I'm currently making use of.  Several hours later, the bedroom floor was visible and every item tucked safely into its new home.

    This was an incredibly difficult task for me.  Probably harder than I should admit.  Not just because it was monotonous labor, but also because it was emotionally taxing.  I felt like I was saying good-bye to a part of myself as I folded clothing into the bins.

    Cleaned closetSo many items hit me with a painful punch of sadness -- the jacket that I wore to church the day the Best Husband Ever and I got back from our honeymoon; the tank top I finished my first triathlon in; the dress I wore to my sister-in-law's wedding; the t-shirt from the 5K race where I was the fastest female participant; the shirts handed down from a friend that accompanied me to work, yoga, on runs, and through my skinniest and most scary times.  I stopped my organizing crusade more than once to cry.

    But my day of closet-busting was not only tear-filled.  As I stuffed the storage bins with too-small clothing, I also felt like I was making a promise to myself -- a promise to commit to health, to honoring my body and God and the people around me, just for a little while.  I felt like I was promising the part of me, the part of my life that I was mourning, that I would be able to open those boxes a year from now and put those clothes on and have them fit, that it's just good-bye for now.

    I realize that sounds a bit superficial, but it's the best that I can express it.  Let me clarify -- both my sadness and my hope are not about the clothes, not about fitting into a certain size or being a certain shape.  It's about saying good-bye to the white-knuckled grasp of "health" that I had when I could last wear those clothes, and about hoping that if I can ever wear them again, it will be because I learned how to live the way I'm meant to.

    Those boxes are a eulogy.  Those boxes are a prayer.  Those boxes are my sadness, and they are my hope.

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    Boo For Black Friday

    Shopping at Tiffany'sYou are all probably thinking that I'm grinch-ier than the Grinch, scrooge-ier than Ebenezer, and simply no fun to hang around coming the winter holiday season.  First came my thumbs down to Thanksgiving, and now I'm about to trash the shopping mania that started yesterday with Black Friday.  Sorry.

    Replacing of a meaningful God/family celebration with endless consumption just bugs me.  A lot.  Why do we, the larger American community, feel the need to shop ourselves into oblivion, hoping for a good tax return to pay off our holiday debts?  It makes no sense to me.

    That said, I just discovered that today is Small Business Saturday.  This is something of an alternative to Black Friday and its online counterpart, Cyber Monday.  Instead of trying to snag ultra HD televisions that can see into the future for the low, low price of $4.99 (USD, of course), Small Business Saturday is about  choosing to support small, local businesses over mega chain stores like Wal-Mart.

    This is something I can get behind.  At least, I can get behind it more than the standard manic shopping that makes this weekend so very special.

    So, if you're looking for some small businesses to support with your patronage, here are some of my top choices:
    • Shots 'n' Knots :: Yes, this is my shop.  Shameless self promotion, I know, but it's good handmade stuff, and thrifty, too!
    • HoopPretty :: HoopPretty sells the most adorable clothing and accessories printed with designs for those who, as their tagline goes, "heart the hoop."  Be sure to take advantage of their Cybertastic Thank You Sale, which runs through this coming Tuesday.
    • Eriander :: This is my good friend's Etsy shop, where she sells handmade knitted items.  I own a pair of her fingerless gloves, and they rock.
    • Forgotten Sprites :: Another friend's Etsy shop, this one features 8-bit Nintendo-themed Christmas ornaments.  Geek-tastic!
    Find more Small Business Saturday action on Twitter, and be sure to support your local small businesses today.  If you're in a shopping mood, that is.  As for me, I will be shunning all shopping that cannot be done via broadband this holiday season.

    (Oh, and if you're curious, the above photo was taken of me by a good friend in 2007.  I am fake shopping at the Tiffany's window in New York City.  Good times!)

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Surviving the Bird: Turkey Day Tips

    University Avenue
    So . . . Thanksgiving. It's no secret to my friends and family that this is not my favorite holiday. In fact, I'm becoming rather Scrooge-ish about the whole holiday season that spans Halloween to New Year's.  What gets me is that these holidays, which are supposedly about family and showing love and remembering what we appreciate, have turned into a circus of commercialism, expected gluttony, and getgetgetting.  It makes me want to crawl into a hole until February.  Sad for me, perhaps, but true.

    This year I will once again be celebrating Thanksgiving at the house of the Best In-laws Ever.  I really like their take on the holidays.  We eat the requisite turkey and stuffing, but not to excess.  For Christmas, we enjoy a special meal (again, not to excess) and each other, with the focus off presents and Santa.  I find it to be very low stress, and my in-laws are slowly -- very slowly, but it's happening in spite of my staunch Scrooge-ism -- revolutionizing my pessimism toward the American holiday season.

    This morning I discovered all sorts of sane blog posts on how to have a safe, healthy, and interesting Thanksgiving.  Here are some of my favorites:
    Of course, I have my own Thanksgiving Day survival tips as well, inspired by what works for me and what I've heard at OA meetings:
    • Don't go crazy.  Enjoy the meal, but try to stick to one plate with no seconds.  
    • Stay away from the booze if it makes you feel sick, grumpy, or out of control.
    • Give yourself permission to splurge . . . a little.
    • This is the season to say, "No, thank you."  Don't let people bully you into eating more than you want.
    • Do what you need to do to keep yourself sane.  
    • If Turkey Day gets you stressed, reward yourself with a post-dinner treat -- paint your nails, take a hot bath, sip hot cocoa while snuggled up with a book.  I recommend adding a dog or two for extra-cozy snuggling.
    All my bullet points boil down to this one rather obvious tip: be moderate, be mindful, and be true to yourself.  Happy Thanksgiving!

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Guilty Laughter


    This video made me laugh far more than I should probably admit.  But I did laugh . . . a lot.  Big belly laughs.  I hope it makes you laugh, too, because it's too frigid for me to type anything else right now!  Hello, two degrees Fahrenheit, lovely to see you on this nearly Wordless Wednesday.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    Gratitude In the Last Best Place

    IMG_5900
    If yesterday's snow was the first "real" snow, than today's snow is the first Arctic-doom-why-do-I-live-in-Montana-again snow.  I reminded myself of the fact that I chose to move to Montana many times during the hour and a half I spent shoveling this morning in the 10 degree Fahrenheit weather.  Brrr!

    However, I am so glad to live here in the Last Best Place.  It occurs to me that, in spite of the sometimes punishing winters, I have much to be grateful for regarding my choice of location.  Because I live in Montana, I . . .
    • met and married the Best Husband Ever
    • landed in the coolest church community on the face of the earth
    • met amazing folks and learned to value their precious friendships
    • adopted three crazy/wonderful dogs
    • can climb up and down mountains without fear
    • learned how to deal with temperatures of -20*F in the day and -30*F (or lower) at night
    • traveled to Malaysia
    • have been stabbed in the hand with a pencil (really, this represents a good thing)
    • learned the value of an engine block heater
    • have become more self-aware
    • discovered that Montanans are Harry Potter lovers, too
    • was able to live in a place where I truly feel at home
    Oh, and because of Montana I also learned how to hoop in the snow (mittens provided by Clare):


    What are you grateful for about where you live right now?

    Monday, November 22, 2010

    Snow, For Real

    45/365

    It snowed, and this time it's serious.  Serious enough for me to shovel this morning.  I'm not sure if the clouds have finished dumping their damp dandruff yet, but I hope not.  The brightness of the falling snow, the cozy lowness of the clouds, and the special comfort that a mug of something hot brings are too shiny and new for me to resist.

    Still, in spite of all the wiles of winter, I'm glad to have a non-arctic indoor space where I can let my hoops out to play:


    What's your weather like today?  Winter or otherwise?

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Practice


    This week I've done more serious hooping practice than usual.  And by "serious" I mean that I was focusing on actual visual concepts for my sessions instead of just flailing about for exercise and, to a lesser extent, joy.

    Interestingly, during a week that has been more emotional and stressful than usual, I found myself heading to the gym to hoop when the eating disorder monster inside was urging me to eat or to not eat.  In other words, instead of "eating" my feelings or avoiding them by avoiding meals, I used my hoop to distract me, and then later was able to process my emotions in a healthy way.  While I'm practicing hoop dance, I'm also practicing mental health and non-disordered eating.  Yay!

    Also, I proud of how I'm taking my hoop practice to a more artistic level.  I feel a little pretentious calling this video "Hoop Art," but that truly was the intention behind it.  No, I'm not going to take this on tour, but it's exciting to discover new ways to move in, through, and around the hoop.  Kind of like how I'm also discovering how to move through my emotions healthfully. 

    What are you practicing this weekend?

    (Also, if you're interested, the song in this video is "Egyptic" by Beats Antique.  They make my hooping heart go pitter-patter.)

    Friday, November 19, 2010

    The End Begins

    It's today. The end. Or the beginning of the end, if you'd like to be a touch more dramatic.

    Disclaimer: this is going to be another one of the many Harry Potter fangirl posts about how omigosh Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows movie opens today that are inundating the blogophsere.  Insert insane squeal of joy here.
    However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little excited -- which you can probably tell by the amount of Deathly Hallows-related photos I've stuffed this post with.  But I am getting a bit of pre-Harry Potter buzz and, honestly, I'm not sure why.  Yes, I enjoyed reading the books, although Harry began to grate on me quite a bit as the story went on (and, some would say, on and on and on).  The films, however, did not do it for me at all, with the exception of the third, The Prisoner of Azkaban.  I think that Azakban was the only movie I liked because director Alfonso Cuaron really tried to make the film his own while staying true to J. K. Rowling's story.  For me, the third movie can stand alone as a project executed with artistry in mind.
    The rest of the Harry Potter film directors did not, in my opinion, do this.  I felt that the first two movies were boring regurgitations of the books.  As for the later films, the directors were pretty much doomed to fail from the start because of the sheer amount of information and events that take place in each book.  When I watched The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, I felt that if I hadn't read the book I would have been helplessly lost.  From the one review of The Deathly Hallows review that I've read, apparently this problem through the final theatrical rendition of the book.

    I'm not sure where the Harry Potter movies went wrong.  It's not for lack of resources.  Every single film is visually stunning, from the sets to the costumes to the effects.  The music is great, and the characters are portrayed by seriously talented actors (I'm very excited that Bill Nighy is joining the cast for the final film!).  It's been fun watching the many child actors grow up through the seven books and what will be the respective eight movies, even while I haven't always thought their acting skills are up to snuff.  The trailers never fail to get me super psyched.  But . . . when it's all put together, something just doesn't work.  

    Will I see The Deathly Hallows, which is being released in two massive installments?  Yes, although perhaps not in the theater.  I want it to be good.  I really, really do.  But I just don't think it's going to happen.  I hope I'm proven wrong!

    Still, today's Deathly Hallows release really is something of the end of an era.  That's obviously especially true for J. K. Rowling and everyone involved with the films.  It will be interesting to see what happens with the careers of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, the three actors who starred in the Harry Potter films for the past ten years and who are now stepping into adulthood.  

    But, even while there's a little part of me that's sad to see the Harry Potter films come to an end, it's also something of a relief now that the related hype will be ending as well.  Besides, the books will always be waiting on my bookshelf when I'm nostalgic for Hogwarts and a magic-angsty-orphan-boy angle on the good-versus-evil story that will never go out of style.

    Image source

    Will you go see The Deathly Hallows?  Are you a rabid Potter fan or a Harry Hater?

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Jackson

    P1140074

    The Wordless Wednesday page seems to have been abandoned for November, but you can still find lots of archived wordless posts there.  Anybody know what's going on with it?

    That said (and to go on and make this post not-so-wordless), I have a big couple of days ahead of me and would appreciate any prayers you might fling my way.  I need courage! 

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    A Hairy Dilemma

    Happy hooperIt's that time of the year again.

    I'm not talking about Thanksgiving.  Nor am I talking about leaf raking season or time-to-put-the-snow-tires-on-the-car season.  I'm not even talking about National Novel Writing Month season.

    Nope, I'm talking about big hair season.

    It seems that every time I have short hair, during October and November I decide that my short hair needs to be long again.  So I start to grow it out until I get so fed up with my white girl 'fro that I shave it all off.

    That's where I am right now.

    I took the photo to the left last year, before I gave in and cut my hair again.  Right now my hair is looking a lot like in the picture, except with about another inch of puffiness on all sides.  I feel like a brunette, female Ronald McDonald.  And, as you might imagine, I don't like feeling like a brunette, female Ronald McDonald at all.

    But . . . I really do miss my longer hair.   Sometimes it was thick and curly and pretty.  I'd really like to swoop my hair around while hooping.  This photo is from May 2007:

    Day 50 / Far-away friend

    Of course, there were plenty of times that my longer hair was unruly and not so nice to deal with, much less wear around in public.  I'm not naive.  Check out another May 2007 photo taken just days after the one above (by the way, I think Turkish Delight is gross -- what was Edmund thinking??), in which my hair refuses to cooperate to my liking either tied back or loose:

    Turkish Delight mosaic

    So I'm not sure where I stand on the issue.  Right now, my hair is poofy and weird and in-between looking, and long enough that it's hard to fully hide under a hat.  But it will be a long time before my hair gets long enough to swing with ecstatic abandon during a hooping session.

    I need hair help!  Have you ever grown your hair out?  Do you have any growing-out sanity-saving tips?

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Monday Link Love, With a Side of Snow

    Image source
    This morning I found myself reveling in a myriad of excellent posts and resources.  Naturally, I want to showcase these fabulous online writers.  They really encouraged me for my day/week/life. Thanks!

    Body
    • Are You the Bully? An Anusara yoga podcast class from Elsie :: I've been using Elsie's podcast yoga classes since 2006, and I think they are awesome.  This new class seems particularly powerful.  I'm excited to try it out!
    • The Hooping Body in Richmond, VA :: GroovinMeGzz is doing amazing work in the hooping community, trying to protect her fellow hoop dancers from the all-too-common overuse injury that took her out of the hoop.  Thankfully, she's back, and she's helping us to hoop it up safely.  She's going to be teaching in Virginia.  Come to Montana, Meg!!    
    • What's Up Sunday :: My Trigger Food Frustration post made Maggie's illustrious list on Say Yes To Salad this weekend.  Thanks, Maggie!
    Mind
    • Freedom :: I just discovered this program that disconnects your computer from the internet for a specified period of time.  Good-bye, Twitter distraction!  Hello, writing productivity!  This is a neat idea, and I'll be testing the trial version today.   
    • Come Here, Story! :: Does the pressure to publish (or otherwise be establish as a professional artist) kill your creativity?  I can totally empathize with struggle between professionalism and passion that Stephanie of Routines for Writers discusses in her latest post.
    • How to Get Past the NaNoWriMo Danger Point and Finish Your Novel :: I think the title of this post from Write It Sideways is self-explanatory.  However, I especially appreciate the last section on how fears can affect your writing (or other form of art, creativity, or old fashioned hard work).
    Soul
    • Mindful Monday: The Fern and the Bamboo :: This simple fable-esque post from Beyond Blue says a lot. My favorite line: "Never regret a day in your life." 
    • Eating Journey :: I tried to pick one post from Mish's Eating Journey to highlight, but I just can't.  Her candidness and honesty is powerful through each and every addition to the blog.  Read it all.  It truly feeds, encourages, and inspires my soul. 
    Another thing that feeds my soul is the first good snow of the season.  Yesterday the Best Husband Ever and I took two of the pups hiking on a trail that's new to me.  Although the trail is just a short drive from our house and is still within the city limits, the whole area was covered in a thick blanket of new snow that has not yet arrived at our home.  If I had known it would be so beautiful I would have brought my camera, but as it was I had to make do with my camera phone, which apparently does not do so well in damp weather.

    1114001216.jpg

    Narnia!

    1114001218.jpg

    Snow like this always makes me think of Narnia.  It gets my heart pumping for something big, something exciting and adventurous and new.  What is it about snow that's so magical?

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Hoopspiration

     
    Have you heard of the Bristol Hoop Massive, of Bristol, England?   I hadn't . . . until I discovered this video, which is so much more awesome than words can say.  This video is the current object of my hoop obsession. Even if you know nothing about hooping and don't really care to, this video is worth watching.  I can practically guarantee that you will geek out over it. 

    (To clarify, "hoopspiration" is my bastardization of "hoop inspiration," not "hoop perspiration."  Just so you know.)

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Excerpt Saturday


    Here's some more of my National Novel Writing Month novel, which is flagging in word count.  This is the first time in my five years of NaNoWriMo that I've gotten behind on my word count.  My thoughts on the matter: ugh.

    Same disclaimer as last time, folks!  This is rough, unedited, be nice, etc. 

    I am hunched on one of the toilets in the communal bathroom, the blue-painted wooden stall a tremulous haven for the moment. I groan and try to pretend I am painfully constipated. Not-My-Aunt Helen is stationed in the hall outside the bathroom, waiting. 
     
    The bathroom door squeaks, opening. “You okay?” Not-My-Aunt Helen demands. I already understand that she doesn’t actually care if I am okay or not. 

    “Yeah,” I call, trying to sound weak.

    “Hurry up.” The door squeaks shut.

    I exhale and shift. I am not actually constipated, nor am I pooping (or peeing, for that matter). The toilet lid is closed and I’m perched on top. The clean smell of Clorox and bleach burns the insides of my nose a little, but in a comforting sort of way. I wish I could see a clock, know when it was time for Group to be done and I could stagger out of my blue stall.

    The door squeaks again, opening all the way. Footstep traipse in front of my stall. I tense, but the tread I hear is too light for Not-My-Aunt Helen. The wooden blue of all the stalls rattles a bit as the door of the stall next to mine bumps closed and locks.

    “Hey,” hisses a voice from the other stall.

    I hold my breath for a moment. “Yeah?” I whisper back.

    “You okay?” The same words Not-My-Aunt Helen used a minute ago, but their speaker sounds as if she really might care. Or that she’s trying to get me caught in my constipation ruse.

    “Leave me alone,” I mutter.

    A rustling, and then a set of eyes crowned by red curls appears under the shared wall of our stalls. I jump, blushing, clapping a hand over my mouth so I don’t shout in alarm. As it is the slap of palm against lips echoes in the wide blue room.

    “Hurry up,” says Not-My-Aunt Helen from the hall. She does not bother to open the door this time.

    “You’re not really sick,” Red (whose head it is sticking into my stall, face quickly flushing from being bent over double) observes.

    “Leave me alone!” I say again, more fervently. I think about kicking her in the forehead, then decide a kick will cause more problems than it solves.

    Red removes her head, but continues to whisper. “I friggin’ hate Group.”

    I say nothing.

    “It’s a bunch of b.s., if you ask me.” I hadn’t asked Red a thing, but that doesn’t stop her. “All this therapy, like they actually care what happens to us after.”

    “After what?”

    She snorts softly. “Placid House, duh.”

    Now I’m the one to roll my eyes, even if Red can’t see.

    “They can’t help us. Nobody can.”

    “Then why are we here?”

    “’Cause nobody else wants us.”

    I frown, turn her words over in my mind. I don’t believe her, but can’t remember anything from my life to prove her wrong.

    Red doesn’t notice my silence, she keeps talking, a hushed stream of bitter words. “Yeah, we’re just here until we’re not minors any more, then they kick us out or move us to some adult facility —”

    “Facility? Like what?”

    "You know, a group home like this, except for adult crazies instead of teen ones.”

    “I’m not crazy.”

    She snorts again, louder. Not-My-Aunt Helen might hear, but I’m not thinking about that now. 

    “No?” Red says, voice sour. “Then how come you’re here?”

    I scowl at my stall’s closed door. “How should I know? I can’t remember.”

    “Yeah, you’re not crazy at all, Lou.”

    “Shut up, Red,” I mutter.

    At this she practically shrieks with laughter. “Red? Is that what you think my name is?” This is the first time I’ve heard Red sound truly pleased with something.

    I can’t respond because now Not-My-Aunt Helen does hear and barrels in. “Let’s go, sweeties,” she says in a way that makes it clear that we are anything but “sweeties” in her book.

    “I’m constipated,” I say.

    The woman practically vibrates with irritation. I can tell, even through the closed blue door. “I don’t care. Wipe and get out here. The same goes for you, Bertha.”

    At first I think Not-My-Aunt Helen’s calling me Bertha. Then I realize that it must be my neighbor, it must be Red she’s really bullying at. If my name was Bertha, I’d like to be called Red, too.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Birthday Boy

    Traveler

    Happy birthday, not-so-little-these-days brother!

    For more swell Wordless Wednesday shots, click here.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Trigger Food Frustration

    Source (click through for  a great post on trigger foods)
    Yesterday I shared how I have started attending Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meetings.  Even though I have only been to two gatherings, one major theme that folks have been sharing about is abstinence.  If you're anything like me, the word "abstinence" makes you think of sex (as in not having it), but that's not what OA abstinence is.  Rather, this is food abstinence, or staying away from foods that trigger disordered eating.

    Many of the people at the two meetings I have attended seem to be abstaining from sugars.  They have noticed that sugary foods like candy were leading them into compulsive food behaviors, and so eradicated sugars from their respective food plans.  As anyone who has tried to be conscious about what is going into his or her body knows, this is a difficult feat considering the fact that sugar is added to so many foods, many of which we assume are healthy, like peanut butter.

    As these people shared how abstaining from trigger foods has helped in their recovery, I found myself nodding along.  It makes sense.  Eliminate "problem" foods (which can be different for every disordered eater) and so eliminate a great amount of the struggle.

    Except . . . it doesn't make sense for me.  I feel like every food is a trigger food.  Just the sense of having something in my stomach, whether it's healthy food or not, seems to spark disordered behavior.

    I am feeling very frustrated.  At least other addicts (alcoholics, narcotics abusers, gamblers, etc.) don't need the object of their compulsion to survive.  But we all need to eat.  If I could stop eating, I would.  I would trade the enjoyment of sharing a meal with my loved ones for a lifetime without disordered eating in a heartbeat.  If I could take a pill that would meet my body's daily nutritional needs, I would.

    Imagine telling a recovering alcoholic that he has to drink booze three times a day.  Or told a compulsive spender that she has to visit the mall for an hour each day.  Or told a meth addict that she has to use meth regularly.  Crazy, right?  That's the kind of struggle recovering disordered eaters face every single day.  

    All that to say that I'm in a place where I would gladly give up eating if I could.  If you offered me a magic nutrition pill, I'd take it.  Anything to get a leg up on this disease.

    But it's not that easy. 

    What the heck am I supposed to do when this is a trigger food . . .

    Moose bar

    . . . and so is this?


    I wish I knew.  

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    OA

    Last week I did a crazy/scary/awesome thing.  It had nothing to do with adrenaline highs or sky-diving.  It wasn't roller derby.  In fact, there was nothing death-defying about it at all.  But it was crazy (to me), scary, and awesome all the same.

    I went to an OA meeting.  

    I can hear you thinking, "Uh, what's OA?"  (Bet you didn't know I am psychic.)*   OA stands for Overeaters Anonymous, a fellowship-based recovery program for compulsive overeating as modeled on the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  

    As you know, I continue to struggle with disordered eating.  In the past this has taken the form of binge eating, not eating, restricted eating, chewing and spitting, and compulsive exercise.  These days I'm eating large amounts of "safe" foods (salad, air-popped popcorn).  And I'm sick of it.  I'm tired of the seemingly fruitlessness of my struggle.  It seems that there is no light at the end of this tunnel.

    A local Twitter contact recommended that I check out OA.  I tweeted back that I didn't think OA was the right fit.  After all, I'm not morbidly obsese.  She encouraged me to try it anyway, saying that she knows many people whom OA has helped that were never morbidly obese, or that struggled with anorexia/bulimia versus compulsive eating.  

    So I went. 

    In spite of my Twitter friend's reassurances, I expected the OA meeting to be full of very, very overweight people.  I was very, very wrong.  Instead, the room was full of members of all sizes, ages, and food struggles.  As I listened to people reading from the manual and sharing their stories, I wanted to weep at these beautiful, amazing, broken people from whom disordered eating has claimed so much.  At the same time, I wanted to shout for joy because, wonder of wonders, I am not alone.

    That was a week ago Saturday.  This past Saturday I went to the meeting again.  I will be going back, possibly forever.  For me, attending OA is crazy (because I never thought I would willingly sit down in a group of people to share about how screwed up I am with food and feelings), scary (because vulnerability always is), and awesome (because I am starting to believe that there really is hope for me in this). 

    Here are some things that I already knew going into OA that the meetings confirmed which I think it is important for everyone to know:
    • It is not about the food.
    • Even while it is not about the food, disordered eaters do not have the same relationship with food and eating as everyone else.  
    • Disordered eating (anorexia, bulimia, overeating, etc.) is a disease, it is an addiction, it is a matter of mental health.  
    • It is not a matter of willpower.  Often disordered eaters have an extraordinary amount of willpower.
    • I will probably never be "normal" with food -- and awareness of this truth is powerful.
     
    *I am not actually psychic.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Derby Bout

    Image by Athena Photography
    Remember how I took up roller derby?

    Last night the Best Husband Ever and I attended our first derby bout with some friends.  It was awesome.  The team I'm now officially a member of lost, but it was super fun to watch.  

    People that I've told I'm doing derby have responded with some mixture of shock, horror, and awe.  They think that, I believe, that I'm already doing the high-contact aspect of the sport. 

    Let me set the record straight -- I'm not.  The league requires participants to go through rigorous training, and you have to pass rigorous tests (both written and on wheels) before being allowed to even practice scrimmaging, much less skate in a bout.  So I'm not body checking anyone.  What I am doing is getting comfortable on my skates, drilling, practicing planned falls, and doing my share of unplanned falling, too. 

    It rocks.  And I'm already musing if it's possible to roller skate and dance with my hoop at the same time . . . 

    * * *

    I'm raising money to support National Novel Writing Month!  Click here for more details.

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Serious Play



    Lately I've felt like my hoop practice has been getting rather . . . boring.  Here's what a session in the hoop was looking like:
    1. Turn on music.
    2. Freak out white girl style for a song or two.  
    3. Gather self.  Focus.
    4. Waist hoop.
    5. Trick.
    6. Waist hoop.
    7. Trick.
    8. Waist hoop.
    9. Trick . . .
    10. Abandon ship.
     After watching Jessica's latest hooping video yesterday, I felt inspired to go play in my hoop.  At the same time, however, I thought it would be a futile effort.  I'd try to do cool tricks and instead end up feeling like a big tool.

    So instead I decided to hoop without the tricks and play with body movements and dancing more than wowing my invisible crowd.  And honestly, since I don't know a whole lot of tricks, that's not really saying much.  Still, it was a challenge for me, and I enjoyed the results it yielded.  Plus, I felt really dang cool. 

    What makes you feel really dang cool? 

    * * *
    I'm raising money to support National Novel Writing Month!  Click here for more details.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    One Time, at Wal-Mart . . .

    1103001642.jpg

    This sight greeted me as I wandered into the local Wal-Mart earlier this week.  I literally stopped in my tracks.  And, obviously, snapped a photo with my camera phone, earning me some odd looks from people around me.

    But I don't care.  I needed the evidence.  Because, in my opinion, November 1 is too early to be hoisting the Christmas marketing propaganda.  It's not even Thanksgiving and I'm already sick of the holidays.  Ugh.

    Thankfully I have other things to distract me.  Like plugging away on my NaNoWriMo novel.  And my newly begun adventure in roller derby.  And hooping.  I've completely let my practice slide this week, what with the shiny distractions of derby and novelizing.  Thankfully there is an army of inspirational YouTube-ing hoopers to keep me coming back to the circle.  Like Jessica, for example.  Check out her latest video, which is a tribute to the many fabulous hoop teachers out there and absolutely exquisite.

     

    Have you seen any premature Christmas decorations going up in your area?  What do you think about it?

    * * *
     
    I'm raising money to support National Novel Writing Month!  Click here for more details.