Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Equestrian Conundrum

I have a really great idea for a blog post.  I'm excited to write it.  But I haven't (and this post not it) because I've been busy worrying about something totally random and unrelated and possibly life changing.

It started last week when I got licked by a horse.  (Yes, licked.)  The Best Husband Ever and I were out with two of our pups in a dog-friendly public area.  At the end of our walk, the horses that live in the field across the street were close to the fence.  The Best Husband Ever urged me to go over and say hi, so despite my worries that I would get in trouble, I did.  And not only did I get licked by one of the two horses, but I also got nuzzled, nibbled, and whuffled (yes, that's a word -- the Best Husband Ever had to look it up before believing me).

And I also got re-bitten by the horsey bug that infects just about every female that I have ever known.  Unlike most other women, however, my horse crazy phase never really passed.  I just couldn't do much with it -- I took lessons as a child, then again in college, and most recently mucked stalls as part of my work at a sanctuary for blind and disabled animals

For some reason I have never felt that a horse career was possible.  My parents definitely discouraged it (although they discouraged writing, too, so I don't know why I didn't listen on the writing but did on the horses).  Also, it seems pretty frivolous.  Probably because the reality is that even casual interest in horseback riding is a pricey hobby.  

But after feeling a horse's warm breath in my ear for the first time in years, I realized how much I've been missing all things equine.  And so like any good blogger I set to Googling.

The result of my search is that I was offered a position as a working student at a lovely dressage barn in New England.  If I were to take this position, for the next year I would not only be cleaning stalls and feeding horses, but I would be receiving daily riding lessons and learning how to train and exercise horses.  It's really stinking cool, and a much cheaper alternative to going back to school.  A dream come true . . . right?  

It is, but there's a catch.  In order to take advantage of this opportunity, I'd have to move to New England -- without the Best Husband Ever.  I'd have to leave him, our dogs, our friends, and my home to venture out into uncharted territory where I won't even be receiving a daily paycheck as a small consolation if things should not turn out to be what I was hoping.  

I'm scared.  I'm scared of taking the job and leaving everything I know for a year, and I'm afraid of not taking the job and regretting it.  On top of all that I'm also scared of taking the job and then feeling horrible about how heavy and out of shape I am (although taking the job would be a surefire way to get back into shape).  It's that whole not waiting to be thin thing coming back up again.

If you're wondering why I'm blogging about this -- well, so am I.  But I guess I wanted to share that decisions are hard.  They are difficult, and sometimes can't be undone.  I don't think that the intricacies of decision-making get talked about enough, especially in eating disorder circles where health is all about choices. 

Also, I want some help!  (And don't worry -- I will definitely not base my decision off of what I read in the comments.  My decision is mostly made, and now I'm just curious.)  What would you do in this situation?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Famous Food Blogger

Hey -- I'm famous!

Okay, not really.  But last week I was interviewed by Women's Day magazine regarding what my favorite afternoon snack is, and was featured for yesterday's Food Blogger Friday on the Women's Day website.  Yay!  So, that's sort of counts as being famous, right?  In all seriousness, though, I'm thrilled to have been selected.  Thank you to whoever found me!  

If you're wandering over here from Women's Day for the first time, hello!  I'm so glad that you're visiting my little corner of the blogosphere.  To find out more about this blog as well as my story, check out my Aboutrecipes that you can poke through, as well as a list of my favorite posts page.  I also have tons of healthy, tasty

It's a beautiful Saturday here in Montana, and getting featured at the Women's Day site is just icing on the cake.  Earlier today the Best Husband Ever and I took two of our pups for a mountain ramble, and it was packed with hikers and their dogs.  I love watching dogs meet each other! 

What are you up to this weekend?  Is spring making itself known in your hometown? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yes, Virginia,This IS Eating Disorder Recovery

I have been in a bit of a funk lately (I know, what else is new, right?).  But this was not a super-depressed funk, or an anti-Valentine's-Day funk.  It was just your garden variety it's-sort-of-spring-but-not-really funk.  I found myself asking "What's the point?" about -- well, basically everything.   That's partly why I haven't been blogging as much.  I was Ecclesiastes personified. 

More specifically, I kept looking at my eating disorder recovery and wondering if it's any sort of recovery at all, if I'm not just deluding myself.  I have been dealing with super-charged anorexia/bulimia for the past five years, and have been a compulsive grazer and emotional eater since puberty.  In all that time, funk-ified me kept asking, what have I accomplished?  What have I gained in terms of healing?  Have I changed at all?

My initial answer to those questions was a resounding no -- I've barely made any progress, I'm a loser, [insert negative self-talk here].

But today I learned differently.  I was able to glimpse a piece of evidence proving that I am changing, that I am growing and maturing and healing.  And it's all thanks to Jillian Michaels.

Here's what happened.  After taking two of the pups on a gentle hike, I felt like lifting weights.  Don't ask me where this desire came from, because I been completely lax with my exercise.  I certainly haven't lifted weights since last summer, and I can't say that I wanted to then.  But today I did want to.  Not being one to let such an unexpected gift of motivation pass me by, I turned on the Best Husband Ever's computer downstairs (my designated workout zone when he's not home) and prepared to get my Shred on with Jillian.

Except I couldn't log onto the Best Husband Ever's computer.  When I entered my user name and password, this came back at me like a slap in the face:

In other words, I was locked out.  Then I remembered that last weekend the Best Husband Ever had to wipe his hard drive, and that he probably forgot to add me back in as a user.

Although I was initially tempted to grab at this opportunity to slack off, I changed my plans and headed up to the living room to workout.  And I did, and it felt good.  I discovered that I've missed my interval workouts.

 So . . . that story doesn't sound too revelatory, does it?  Not at face value.  But for me (and the Best Husband Ever), my reaction to today's slight workout hiccup tells a far different story.

Back in the summer of 2008, less than a year into our marriage, I came home from work one afternoon with the intent to do a yoga podcast class that I had saved on my computer.  When I tried to turn the computer on, however, nothing happened.  The machine was plugged in, but I couldn't get it to come to life.

And I freaked out.

After furiously examining the computer's various cables, I called the Best Husband Ever (who was still at work) in a rage of tears.  I shrieked at him about the situation, how I had to do my yoga and how I could get the damn computer to work.  Something was standing between me (or really my eating disorder self) and exercise, and it turned me into a raving maniac.

Needless to say, the Best Husband Ever was stunned (to put it nicely).  

He tried to talk me through some fixes into between my gnashing of teeth, and then (miraculously, in my mind at the time) I jostled a cable that had been loose and the computer kicked on.  And, like a switch had been flicked, I turned from a lunatic into a sweet newlywed, thanked the Best Husband Ever, and hung up to do my yoga.

Disturbing.  I know.  I didn't know it then, but I can see it now.  I was possessed by my eating disorder.  My personality swings would not have been out of place in a horror movie.

But in light of that past episode, you can see how my experience of a similar situation today left me feeling encouraged.  Once again an uncooperative computer stood between me and my exercise -- and I was okay.  I was flexible.  I could adapt, and did adapt without a fuss.  There was no hair pulling or foot stomping or tears.  I just shrugged and changed my plans.  

So that shows me that I have changed since 2008.  I have changed since eating disorders invaded my life.  And, while I am not completely free of my eating disordered compulsions, I am recovering.  I am healing.  There really is a point to my daily battle for balance, because the evidence at hand shows me that I am gaining ground on ED, one step at a time. Which means (and this is the really exciting part) that there is reason to hope.

What are you hoping for today?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 18 is Dance Anywhere Day

What if the world stopped to dance?  That is the question that Beth Fein of Dance Anywhere poses to you and I everyday, and especially tomorrow, March 18.  So how will you respond?  Will you dance?  Because I agree with Ms. Fein, agree that the world would be a better place if we all remembered how to dance, and how to dance without inhibition or criticism.  If we danced with joy and praise and wonder. 

To find out more about Dance Anywhere and to join in the worldwide dance tomorrow in your time zone, click here.  Because really . . . why not?  Dancing might not solve the nuclear problems in Japan, or bring clean water wells to African villages that need it . . . but it might start something inside each one of us.  It might make us happy, and that might make us smile at someone else, or make us help someone else.  And who knows?  Before long, dancing might even lead people to Japan or to Africa farther down the road.  Dancing now really might help change the world.  At the very least, it can charge your world and mine.  

I know this because hooping has changed my world.  Hooping hasn't stopped me from feeling eating disordered compulsions or feeling depressed, but it certainly helps bring healing into the areas of my life that need it.  This Sunday, for example, the Best Husband Ever and I had a few hours to kill in between commitments, and I felt the tendrils of depression and compulsion creeping in.  But it was sunny and beautiful and warm outside, and I knew that spending time outdoors would help me, and that dancing would do even more.  So, even though I didn't really want to, I took my hoop outside and rocked out.  

And it changed my world.  It drove away depression and compulsion.  It ushered in joy.  And it prepared me to be open and loving and engaged during the bowling party we went to with our church family that evening.  Hoop dancing changed my world, and even if "world" means my personal, immediate experience, the change still matters.  The change is still profound. 

So I ask it again -- will you dance, either tomorrow in union with other dancers the world over, or just at all?  Will you be brave enough to turn up the tunes and rock out in your living room, or in your backyard, or even in the park or the mall or your workplace?  

Will you dance?  Will you let dance change your world one heartbeat at a time?  

If you want to participate in Dance Anywhere tomorrow, be sure to sign up and spread the word!  And if you wanted to see some of my hoop dancing from Sunday, here you go:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snapshot Sunday: Hoop Play

Learning to play with polypro (cumbia) 0 02 33-03

This week I got myself outside for some hooping.  I haven't done that in . . . well, let's just say too long!  It was great fun, even if it was quite challenging using my hoop made from polypro tubing.  I love this hoop because it is fast and responsive, but it's also hard to keep going around my waist because it is light and rather small.  Still, playing was fun, as all play should be.  You can check out the video results of my session here and here (yes, that's Zumba music I used), and find the ego booster the made my day yesterday here (I had to share it!).

What are you playing with and/or snapping for this Snapshot Sunday?

Saturday, March 12, 2011


The winner of Life Without Ed (via my book giveaway) is . . .

Congrats, Dani!  Contact me at escagnel04 (at) yahoo (dot) com with your mailing info and I'll send the book off to you straight away.

Thanks to everyone who participated!  If you wanted Life Without Ed but didn't win, I do hope that you'll try to find a copy at your local library.  It's worth the read!  Also, be sure to check out author Jenni Schaefer's website for more goodies.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake Versus Eating Disorder

Tsunnami waters advance over Japan (source).
Sometimes I feel like my eating disorder visits other people's eating disorders so they can come up with more and more insidious brain-benders.  

This week I was blessed to chat with a church friend face-to-face about some of my eating disorder experience, which is a rare thing.  I'm used to the safe distance of the internet, so having a live, in-person discussion was a little scary -- but also very healing.  However, a little ways into our chat, I find myself playing down the legitimacy of my eating disorder and verbally beating myself up right in front of my friend, talking about how it was so horrible of me to talk about my struggle with an eating disorder (the "it's all in your head" gimmick rose to the front of my mind as I said this) when there are people in the world dying of starvation.  And that was before Japan got hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

While I was trolling the blogosphere this morning, I clicked through to Clare's latest post -- and found that this week she was dealing with the same lie from ED that I was.  In Clare's case, the eating disordered part of her brain was using the horrible disaster in Japan to downplay her own struggle for health and healing.  Insidious, right? 

Is there any point in comparing our suffering?  Not in the least.  (Now, if only I can remember this the next time that ED decides to smack me around using someone else's pain.  Easier said than done, I know!) 

Think of it this way -- would you tell a person who has cancer that her cancer is no biggie because someone else has worse cancer?  Or because hundreds of thousands of people live in poverty?  Or because there is an AIDS epidemic in Africa?  

Of course not.  Cancer is cancer.  Suffering is suffering.  Illness is illness -- including mental illness.  

I am not trying to downplay the significance of the AIDS epidemic or of global poverty.  But, as Clare wrote, it helps no one to use the suffering of others to negate our own struggles.  Don't let ED tell you that your struggle isn't "big enough" or "bad enough" to matter.  Would you tell that to a malnourished orphan in the Congo?

I thought not.

Check out Clare's post for ways to donate to the rescue and aid efforts in Japan.  To help African orphans, click here, and to help children everywhere, click here.  To find help being kind to yourself, click here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Writing To My Eating Disorder -- and a Book Giveaway!


I had a really interesting journaling experience today.  While writing my morning pages, I decided to respond to a pair of prompts from the book on eating disorder recovery I just finished, Life Without Ed by Jennie Schaefer.  Jenni learned to separate herself from her bulimic compulsions by seeing her eating disorder as a separate person called Ed.  Over the course of her recovery, Jenni talked and wrote to Ed (not to mention metaphorically pummeling him and locking him out).  I found this personification of her eating disorder as Ed to be interesting, but it's not something that I ever tried or ever planned to.

But . . . sometimes the subconscious takes over.  This morning, I was responding to these prompts from Life Without Ed

  • What does Ed want me to do today?  
  • What do I need to do today to be in recovery?

Yesterday I responded to these prompts succinctly and found them helpful in setting me up for a healthy day.  This morning's response, however, took on a life of its own.  Or perhaps my eating disorder finally took on a separate person of its own.  Either way, this is what pages of my journal ended up holding (warning -- this could be potentially triggering):

Ed: Okay, here's the plan for today -- either you need to restrict your food in a big way and then spend at least an hour on the elliptical, or you need to binge and sit on the couch.  With the first option you'll get thina nd pretty very fast.  If you try to "lose weight" any other way (as if there is one), you'll never get there.  In that case you might as well just give up altogether.  If you're not going to do this my way (the right way), why bother?

Me: Oh. Well, that sort of sounds right, but I know it's not the way to go. I can achieve a healthy weight and fitness level with a moderate plan. If I do it your way, I will never have an awesome marriage or finish my novel --

Ed: You never will have an awesome marriage. Your book, finished or not, is lame. Stick with me because I'm all you can be sure of. I'm all you've got.

Me: That is absolutely NOT TRUE. I've got God on my side, an amazingly supportive husband, friends and family and church family to help me along the way, and I know the truth -- you will never make me happy.

Ed: Yeah, but you'll never be happy regardless. You're a lost cause. At least with me, you'll be thin.

Me: With you, I'll be sick. I'll look old and scary. I'll feel cold and ill and bruise easily and never heal from injuries. I won't be able to run or think straight or love people. I won't be able to live.

Ed: But --

Me: [Smothers Ed with a pillow] Shut up. Today I am going to eat three healthy meals that will nourish me and honor the God that made me. Today I will eat healthy fats. I will exercise moderately. I will meet my commitments. I resume my novel. I will not make food the epicenter of my life. I will seek help and accountability when I need it. I will pray. And I certainly will not let you take me over again.

So, uh, wow.  I definitely didn't expect that to come out when I sat down with my journal and pen in hand this morning.  But it felt awesome to confront my eating disordered compulsions so directly.  Also, it helped take some of the guilt out of my compulsions -- instead of blaming myself for my failures, I blame Ed, the disease, and do what I can to live separately from him/it.  Also, journaling in this way left me feeling more hopeful about recovery than I have for quite some time.

Suffice it to say, I will continue journaling in this manner as I feel the need.  Have you ever written to your eating disorder/insecurity/depression/insert life block here?

Want to win a copy of Jenni Schaefer's book, Life Without Ed?  There are a bunch of ways to enter, and only the first one is mandatory:

  1. Leave a comment answering the bolded question above by Thursday, March 10.  I love to read your thoughts!
  2. Share (in a separate comment) how you set yourself up for a balanced and healthy day.
  3. Share this post on Twitter, then leave a comment saying you did so.
  4. Share this post on Facebook, then leave a comment saying you did so.
  5. Blog about this contest (linking back), then leave two comments saying you did so.  Bonus! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Empowerment Green: The Power of Nail Polish


This week I did something that I haven't done since my sophomore year of college (meaning 10 years ago . . . egad! when did I get "old"?).  I painted my toenails greenish turquoise.  I love this color.  I call it my empowerment green nail polish because I feel like it boosts my courage, or at least my self-appreciation.  Plus I think it looks pretty, and it makes me happy.  What other reason does a girl need to paint her toenails turquoise?

Posting about this for Snapshot Sunday makes me think of these lyrics from a certain musical whose songs I enjoy: 

For example, if I should paint my fingernails green -- and it just so happens I do paint them green -- well, if anyone should ask me why, I say: 'I think it's pretty! ('I think it's pretty,' I reply.)

Where are my Broadway musical buffs?  Who knows what it's from?  Band and choir geeks unite (Gleeks also welcome)!

What small, seemingly silly things do you do that make you feel good?   

Friday, March 4, 2011

Depression, Loneliness, & Facebook


I have had a really rough week.  Why?  Because my depression reared its ugly little head and made me feel worse than I can ever remember feeling.  I completely lacked motivation to get out of bed (and stay out instead of crawling back in defeat a few hours later), and I was absolutely overcome by confusing and random crying bouts and a pervasive sense of despair.

Depression sucks -- and sucks my soul.  We're talking Dementor level sucking here, people.  It's bad. 

Given my state of mind this week, I find it interesting that I ran across several articles discussing the connection between high levels of Facebook use and increased feelings of depression and loneliness.  For example, Lisa Haisha of HuffPo wonders if a Facebook addiction is a sign of loneliness, while an older cnet news article links Facebook with depression in teenage girls.  I also found this video quite interesting:

As a work-from-home gal who practically exists on the computer and ye olde internets from nine to five, I can't help but wonder if my high usage of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even blogs (yes, I see the irony here).  Add that to the fact that I already grapple with depression and loneliness and you can bet that I'm considering deleting my Facebook account.

On the other hand, though, I receive a lot of [what feels like] very real support through the internet.  For example, my Twitter lurking helped me to "meet" and fall in with a fun and encouraging group of young women who are fellow aspiring novelists.  I can reach out on Facebook to make plans with friends, and my blog reading and writing has led me to make wonderful friends that I would otherwise never have met.

In addition to feel down, I have also been struggling with what to do with the newly finished first draft of my novel-in-progress.  I hemmed and hawed and whined about it for a while, then eventually sent the darn thing off (via email) to Steph, an old NaNoWriMo friend, after she offered to read.  Not only did she read the draft at the speed of light, but she also filled my inbox with several emails of encouragement, questions, and insights that have given me a place to start with my revisions.

And that's not the best part.  A few days later, an unexpected package arrived in the mail from Amazon.  I opened it and found -- a present from my NaNoWriMo friend.  She had bought me a book she had recommended in one of her rich emails.  This young woman that I have not seen in person since probably early 2006 (and the in-person meeting was a brief one) blessed me immensely -- using the internet.  If it wasn't for email and GoodReads and our blogification, I would never have stayed connected with her.  Which means that she wouldn't have been able to bust through my loneliness so effectively this week.  Thank you, Steph!

In quite a few cases like Steph's generous book-sending, I find the internet and specifically social networking to be an asset.  But I'm not sure that that extends to Facebook . . . or to compulsive inbox refreshing . . . or following Twitter's pithy blurbs with zombie eyes for an hour straight.  So I think I'm going to cut down on my social networking.  Not because I necessarily feel that Facebook and similar sites cause depression and loneliness, but because I feel like they exacerbate my already present proclivities toward depression and loneliness.

What do you think (and I know this is something of a loaded question to put on a blog of all things) -- are social networking sites like Facebook friend or foe to those prone to depression and isolation?

p.s. I changed the blog's layout!  Enjoy that lovely and soothing header, blog friends.