Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Self Soothing

One of the many things you learn to do with an eating disorder is find self soothing activities (other than eating) to participate in. Ideally, many of them would be active ones, but they don't have to be.

I went back to a couple of things that I loved to do as a child. After all, one of the goals is to soothe that lonely child inside, right? So, first, I bought some coloring books and a brand new box of crayons. There is still something magical about a brand new box of fresh, sharp Crayolas! I got a giant coloring book about fairies, which was very cool of course, but I also found this one, which I had to order immediately.... (I know, right? Ordering a coloring book, really!?!)

Worth it. Totally worth it. Coolest. Coloring book. Ever! (Check out that first link to it, the website shows several images from inside to give you an idea of how awesome this thing is.)

Okay, the second thing was jigsaw puzzles. I've done four now, and they work very well for me. If I'm feeling agitated or nervous, I can sit down and lose myself in the searching for a long time, then come back feeling happy and calm. There's something very satisfying about finding that exact piece and feeling them click together.

Here's my first puzzle in... well, probably 20 years! I'm a cat lady, you see, so the cats had to be first.

And maybe this one was counter-productive, but I couldn't resist it!

Then I "borrowed" this one from my sister's storage closet. Unfortunately it was missing a couple of pieces (and the leaves at the top drove me INSANE!), but it was so pretty.

And finally, today I just finished a new one: One Hundred Bunnies and a Carrot. Adorable!

So, that's what I do. Does anyone else have some other ideas to share?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Salmon of Doubt

A few days ago, May 25th, was Towel Day, celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams, author of the fabulous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and other funny stuff, including the essay collection, Salmon of Doubt which I want to share with you today.

And why towels and Towel Day, you might ask? Here’s what the Hitchhiker’s Guide has to say about it:
“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value...

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

So there you have it - Adams was a man who always knew where his towel was (probably). So, on Towel Day, I always think about a thing that someone once mentioned on a blog I visit frequently, that it's a real shame that Douglas Adams is gone, for many reasons, of course, but not the least of which is that he'd have had a hell of a blog. A blog which she - and I - would dearly have loved to be reading right now.

Douglas Adams didn't have a blog, but he did write freelance articles for magazines as well as a regular column for The Independent (a London paper). Some of the best of these various articles plus some short stories and the rough beginning of a Dirk Gently novel are compiled here in the wonderful Salmon of Doubt.

You don't have to like funny science fiction or any science fiction at all to enjoy this one. He covers travel, strange men in smelly rhinoceros suits, swimming with (or at least near) manta rays, the Beatles, Procol Harum, technology in general, Macs in particular, and the life of being a writer completely hopeless at meeting deadlines. Yes, there's bits about Hitchhiker's, naturally. It's also a handy reference for making a perfect cup of British tea, in case that's something you ever find yourself likely to do.

Most of the articles are quite short, so it's a good book to take along when you know you'll have only moments to sit and read. The paperback fits nicely into a small purse or backpack for easy carry. (Though I imagine the audio version is wonderful as well, for I'm certain they got someone with a lovely British voice to do the reading.)

I really enjoyed this little book and found myself laughing out loud about something on almost every page. If you need a giggle, or a really good cup of tea, give the Salmon of Doubt a try sometime.

And do keep your towel handy!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How Life Works

Recently I spoke to someone dear to me, and she expressed the idea that “maybe only 10%” of her problems came from her parental issues and that the rest was about things that happened after she grew up. At the time I couldn't figure out how to fully express my response to that, so I let it go. But it has been on my mind ever since.

So, I want to bring together a couple of the things I've been talking about for the past week or two. First, the sense of being broken that arises when your childhood wasn't particularly good (who knows, maybe it was really really bad, or maybe it wasn't The Worst Thing Ever) and second, the sense of self-hatred that comes along with it. Because I believe that the real deal is this – maybe it isn't literally about the things that happened to you; maybe it's about how you learned to respond to those things, and what those things made you believe about yourself. It's about what those events taught you about How Life Works.

One of the big problems that comes from this borrowed sense of How Life Works is the inability to accept that you deserve anything better. For me, and perhaps for the women I am closest to in my life, we became unable to choose or to make decisions for ourselves based on a “best outcome.” We accepted what came into and out of our lives without really thinking about it or about what we wanted – because what we wanted didn't really matter.

As always, I can't speak for you or even for my own sisters, but as for me... well, I learned early enough that a man, ANY man, even a bad one, was better than no man. So I accepted the first one that came along, the first one to pay some attention to me. Was he a good man? Was he good FOR me? Was the relationship healthy for me? I never even asked. But I didn't have to make that decision, anyway, because I had no right to choose between good or bad. I didn't deserve any better than whatever I got.

And honestly? I got lucky. I had a couple of loser boyfriends after high school, but they drifted away before anything really unfortunate happened. I got married in my mid-twenties to a nice enough guy. He was harmless, if useless; he was a child, not a partner, and I was a surrogate mother at best. But I didn't really CHOOSE him. He just showed up, he liked me, and since I took care of him, he just assumed I would marry him and then I did. I don't think he ever even officially asked – he just introduced me one day to his mother as the woman he was going to marry. He wasn't a bad guy, but in the end he wasn't the right guy... only I never bothered to make that decision at the beginning. I clearly remember thinking that this was my one and only chance. That surely, no one else would ever want to marry me. It didn't matter that he wasn't right, just that he had showed up.

This pattern of not-choosing, of not-deciding, is so insidious. And such a relief! Your life just happens, and you just go along with it, and nothing is ever your fault. You never chose it, so in a way, you didn't do it. You aren't responsible. And really, deep inside you know it, even if you won't admit it, that when it all goes wrong it's really what you deserved all along anyway.

So think about it, even if just for a little while. What did your family teach you about How Life Works? Mine taught us that you hold on to the hand you've been given. No matter what. Even if you don't like it, because what you want or like or need is not important. What's important is that you accept what you are given and try to make the best of it. And then you wait. You wait for it to get good or you wait for something to go so bad, so very very wrong, that the hand you hold is literally taken away from you. And then it's over, but it's okay because you did your best, you got what you deserved, and it still isn't your fault. Because you don't get to choose and that's How Life Works.

Except.... that’s all bullshit. What I want matters. What I need matters. I matter.

I can choose, and I choose to take care of myself. I can choose, and I choose to give of myself to people who are worthy of it. I can choose, and I choose to be loved. I can choose, and I choose to protect myself from those who would do me harm. I can choose, and sometimes I choose you over me - but sometimes I must choose me. Because I matter, and that’s how life works.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dancing in the Dark

I'm going to take a slight departure for today’s post and jump around in time a little bit. Normally my posts are related to the early days of starting treatment, about a year ago. Today I want to draw attention to the totally non-linear nature of recovery by talking about right now. Recovery is not a matter of: yesterday I felt bad, today I feel a little better and tomorrow I will feel a little better and the next day I will feel a little better and the day after that I will be happy! I say that because a few days ago I felt fantastic and today.... well, today I could just lie down in the mud and let the ED take over because I’m sad and I’m tired and it just seems easier.

So, pardon me, if you will, for a brief whine.

I am sick of thinking about myself. I’m sick of poking around inside myself to see what I’m feeling. I’m sick of having so damn many feelings to think about! (Life was simpler when there was just rage and depression?) I’m sick of eating, of thinking about eating, and of feeling something about eating. I’m sick of lifting myself up and trying to be brave. I’m sick of auto-correcting the mean voice inside my head. I’m even sick of trying to be nice to myself. I haven’t even gone near a mirror today because I know what I will say to myself and I don’t even think I have the energy to say that I’m wrong.

So, um... okay. (Cue the Bruce Springsteen...)

Just so you know, those days will happen. On those days, I pick up my journal or open a new document and I rant it out. See, here I am, right now!

What shall I say to myself?

It’s okay, you know. I can just sit here, if I want to. I don’t have to move forward all the time. I can just breathe and wait for this time to pass. The work is hard; everyone deserves a day off, or a vacation, if that’s what it takes. It doesn’t make me.... wrong. A failure. A bad girl. It just makes me human.

And I know this because it has happened before. I sit with it. I wait it out. Eventually I need to get up and move forward again. Sitting still becomes frustrating and going backward again? Well, that’s just not an option.

Because the one thing I’m even more sick of than doing the work is NOT doing the work. Living every day out of control, feeling sick, wanting to die. That’s all so far away now that going back would take more time and effort and pain than... just sitting here.

I give myself permission to be not okay.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Brunch: Brave New World

Sure, it's an oldie, and almost everyone who might be interested in it has probably already read it. But, if you haven't, go do it right now!

I first decided to re-read Brave New World a couple of years ago after something in an old New York Times article reminded me of it. It was "Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?" And there was a line that struck me, reminding me of BNW:

"Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge... but they also don’t think it matters."

That's pure BNW, folks.

I am ever more convinced that this book is truly representative of our times, more so than Orwell's 1984. After all, why go to the expense and trouble of policing and spying on your citizens with Big Brother when you can simply anesthetize them with TV, Prozac, infotainment, alcohol, and Jersey Shore? Get them so focused on non-issues like birth control, the fat “epidemic”, gay marriage, and celebrity death that they don't have any interest in the business as usual corruption of politics or some country they've never heard of murdering and raping its citizens. It's boring, after all, and takes too much effort to actually think about something rather than letting CNN or FOX tell you what to think. We don't really need to be policed and spied on because we simply do not care about government, politics, or the idea that history repeats endlessly when the people allow themselves to become numb and dumb. Let me have my SOMA and Bravo TV, please, I'm not interested in how a dictatorship is born.

So, yes, some of Brave New World will seem a bit dated to modern eyes. The people seem quaint and stuck in a sort of 1940's innocence that we no longer possess. It was written in 1932, after all. It projects the plastic fantastic and hovercar world that the 1940's thought we'd have by the 21st century. The speech seems antiquated, but that isn't insurmountable. But Huxley's view of "the future" still feels on target, even if it did arrive about 500 years sooner than he expected - well, okay, we probably won't have the hovercars until then, but boy do we have the sex and the SOMA and the mindless entertainment and the lack of interest in intellectualism and hedonistic consumerism and the idea that we are supposed to Always Be Happy, Dammit.

Read it if you haven't. Read it again if you have. Welcome to your future.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Affirm the Positive

A little more about positive daily affirmations, since I’m on a roll...
Back on my Changing the Voices entry, someone asked me how long it takes to start believing the good stuff. Unfortunately, the only answer is, “It takes as long as it takes.” I guess it’s different for everyone. I honestly can’t tell anyone how to proceed with their own healing, I can only share what is happening with me. I’ve been at it nearly a year, and I’m still only kind of in the middle of it all. There are areas where my confidence is high and areas that are still very low, and even areas that change from day to day. There are days where I feel pretty good about how I look and then the next day I’m fighting the Big Ugly Voice again.

Recovery is entirely cyclical, not linear.

Here’s another example from the past, and how I thought about the world a year ago, in Journal Entry #8:

Day two of therapy today. We talked about positive daily affirmations, in an effort to counter the nasty voice inside my head. I have trouble valuing myself, feeling like I'm worth anything. Two areas to think about, where I rated myself the lowest:

  • I give myself permission to shine.
  • I deserve the good things in life as much as anybody else.
I know what I'm afraid of - that anything I have or anything I do that's good will get taken away from me. I guess that's what sent me into such a tailspin when [something happened] last year. It seemed to be proof that I was right all along, that anything good would be taken away. I didn't deserve him after all and now I was going to lose him. I think it broke something inside of me that was already pretty fragile.

I've just got to find my way back to that place I was before. My confidence was high and I didn't hate myself so much. I felt love, I felt like a good person. Being fat hurt, but it seemed like I was finally in control of that.

Daily positive affirmations:

I think that I deserve this pain, but I don't.
I deserve good things as much as anyone else.
I give myself permission to shine.


Over time, I’ve released the idea that the good things in my life will always get taken away. That’s an old idea that gave a lot of power over my life to another person. But I’m still working on the permission to shine thing. That’s part of the reason I’m here, blogging my feelings all out loud; I crave attention, but I don’t think that I deserve it.
Honestly, they aren’t kidding when they call therapy “work.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Found this on Facebook, so I'm sure everyone has already seen it...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Change The Voices

So I’m on this journey to get healthy and stop bingeing, I’ve got my doctor, I’ve got my therapist, I’ve even got a nutritionist on my team. And I was worried. I just knew I’d have to stop doing... well, everything. No salt, no sugar, no caffeine, no trigger foods. I just wasn’t sure that I could do it. But as it turned out, the first thing I had to do was even worse.

The first thing I had to do was to stop hating myself...

Ummm.... Okay, sure!

Al Franken's SNL Character, Stuart Smalley

Of course it isn’t that easy, or my therapist and all of her peers would have a whole lot less to talk about with folks like me. So, we started with the good old daily affirmations. I couldn’t get the old Stuart Smalley character from the Saturday Night Live skit out of my head: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggone it, people LIKE me!” It felt.... really stupid. I didn’t get how this would work. I could say it, but I didn’t believe it, and what good would that do?

But, you know, I didn’t know that I was fat until I went to kindergarten. Then the other kids started to tell me that I was fat, and eventually I realized that they were right.

And, you know, I didn’t realize that fat was ugly until a little bit later, back when boys began to seem a little more interesting and a little less infested with ick. But they were happy to tell me that fat was ugly, and eventually I realized that they were right.

And, you know, I didn’t realize that I was abnormal, a freak, until my Freshman year of high school, when all the girls I hung out with in middle school suddenly didn’t seem to know me anymore. And my mom felt that I constantly needed reminding that I “would be so pretty IF” I could just lose some weight, wear some makeup, change my clothes, try to talk to people, fit in, and change everything about myself.... and eventually I realized that they were right.

I didn’t know that I was stupid until I started working for a living, when I realized that nearly every adult I encountered at first assumed that being fat meant that I was also not very bright. That one took a lot longer to sink in, but a failed marriage and a series of dead end, mind numbing jobs helped drive that point home, in time.

I wasn’t born believing that I was a fat, ugly, stupid freak. I convinced myself over time. I accepted the story I was told and I absorbed it, repeated it to myself over and over and over again, and then I believed it. I remember with perfect clarity the day I walked toward my 8th grade English classroom, where a group of three boys were hanging out by the door, and I knew that the degrading jokes and laughter would begin as I tried to make my way past them. So I made the first strike. “Ooops, better clear the way, here comes Fatty Boombatty!” I laughed and grinned. They laughed and grinned. They moved out of my way without another word. I had won!

Sort of.

There isn’t much that I can do about the rest of the world. I don’t buy fashion magazines or read celebrity news. I don’t watch commercials and I generally try to ignore advertising as much as I can. I try to educate myself to understand that diet and fitness products use fitness models - as in, not even regular models, but people who dedicate their lives and careers to sculpting their bodies - and that magazines use altered photos to make famous people look thin, tan, and totally unnatural.

What I can do something about is me. And oddly, daily affirmations really are a good place to start. I wrote them down in my journal every night and I would laugh at myself as I did it. At first. But then, eventually, some nights as I poured my heart out in a journal entry I would end it with a different affirmation or a variation on one I’d been using for a while. I knew it was true. I fucking believed it, if only for that one night. “I think I deserve this pain, but I DO NOT!”

Every time I would see myself in the mirror and think “Ugh, I look awful!” I would halt and replace it with something else. I didn’t go wild. I didn’t start with, “No, you aren’t ugly, you’re beautiful!” I wouldn’t have believed that. I started smaller. “NO, you aren’t ugly. You might be kind of plain, but you aren’t actually ugly. Quit doing that!”

Sometimes now I actually catch myself in a mirror and think, “Hey, you’re looking pretty good today!” This is a whole year later. I have had to stop myself from saying the bad things thousands of times over the past 365 or so days. That’s thousands of times of replacing “ugly” with “good enough” or “okay” or “nice” or any other word that wasn’t fat, ugly, stupid freak.

Do I still sometimes call myself names? Sure, sometimes I still have to halt and change the voices in my head.

But not today. Today I’m beautiful.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Brunch: The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Series

Okay, so last week zombies, this week, more undead: vampires, zombies again, and other supernatural creepy crawlies. I promise, this isn't a pattern...

I'm going to sort of review the bulk of the series all at once here, because I can't wholeheartedly recommend Laurell K. without a few reservations about the way the series has turned lately. Let's start with the good stuff! Anita Blake is a fantastic heroine. She starts out pretty one dimensional - the beautiful tough chick with a chip on her shoulder - but Laurell K. puts in the work, allowing Anita to change and grow - some things for the better, some things for the worse. She isn't precisely the Anti-hero, but she's got enough darkness to make her interesting. Her supporting cast is full of varied and interesting beings, who don't develop quite so much, though the sheer number of her supporting cast certainly grows.

Plot? Well, here's where things get wonky. The first several books are paranormal mysteries, really. Anita works as a consultant for a police task force charged to investigate supernatural crimes. Murders by or of vampires and other monsters, for instance. There's also this important subplot about Anita being a necromancer, just to keep things interesting. This part of the series is just plain fun. Mystery, horror, mythology, the counterplay of Anita's "normal" life and her "paranormal" life. The series is well written (okay, Laurell K. isn't Emily Dickinson, but she isn't Jackie Collins, either), and exciting - can't wait to get to the next one exciting. There is, even from book one (Guilty Pleasures), a lot of sexual tension, and eventually, a whole lot of sex. A. Whole. Lot. of. Sex.

And here's where things break down. I can totally get behind the first nine books in the series, even with the ever-increasing porn. (And hey, nine books is a good, long series - you could stop there and feel like you've done your duty by Laurell K., and that she'd done her job as an author.) In fact, as an aside, book 9 (Obsidian Butterfly) is amazingly good and is a slight departure from the rest of the series - Anita leaves town to lend a helping hand to a "friend" of hers, Edward, upon whom the story largely focuses. Edward is a true Antihero. Edward is a Bad Man. It's brilliant, and possibly the best book in the series - and notably, the one with the least sex.

There are at least three, maybe now four, more books in the series. I know that I read three more after Obsidian Butterfly. But these last few books have been... disappointing. I didn't even bother to find out about any new releases, which is why I don't know if the series is up to 13 or 14 or even 15 books now. Now, I'm no prude, certainly, and I really enjoyed the sensuality of many of the early books (really... really, really...umm, nevermind...) But I do like some PLOT with the porn. There used to be plot. I really miss that. Where has the plot gone, Laurell K? I loved the mysteries, I loved believing that Anita and the gang could actually be in danger from time to time. Now they have already defeated creatures so vast and powerful that nothing on the planet would dare challenge them.

Somebody let me know when Anita remembers to put her pants back on and gets back to participating in a story.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

And Then The World Didn't End

In the past, I always just tried to power through all of the bad stuff. I felt alone, and I also felt that I was just weak. I thought that my “issues” couldn’t be all that bad and if I weren’t such a loser, I could just forget about the past, take control of my life, and everything would just be okay.

But there was something deeper, darker, that frightened me even more than just being weak. I was afraid of showing my weakness, of admitting that I couldn’t handle this crap all alone any more. I was afraid to admit that it was too much, that is WAS that bad, and that I was going to lose control of it. What if I asked for help and it just exploded out all over everything and nobody wanted me around anymore because I was broken and horrible and pathetic? What if they found out what a loser I really am?

But you know what? The people around me - the people I CHOSE to be here with me - they are better than that, and I should have given them more credit for it. Here’s another journal entry from my early days of therapy, Journal #3.

I think that, at this point, I'm just feeling a huge sense of relief. I finally admitted that I need help and the world didn't end after all. I let B. see how messed up I really am and he didn't reject me. Maybe I can deal with the rest from here.

I know the bad feelings will return soon enough, but for now I'm feeling okay, if a little tender. I still don't really want to be around too many people or talk too much, but I can laugh.

(from The Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann)
You are a child of the universe
No less than the trees and the stars.
You deserve to be here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Diet Hobby

I have been on some kind of diet or another for my whole life, it seems. So, unsurprisingly, I have been on a number of weight loss websites with forums and chat rooms and personal blog spaces. Most recently, and even still today, I am a member at Spark People, and I have a fairly long blog history there. I have been re-posting the Recovering Grace blogs at Spark People, but today I’m going to change that up and re-post an old entry of mine from Spark to here.

This one was written in January of 2010, over two years ago, not long before my depression and ED were ramping up again to becoming totally out of control. I had read a post from a friend, and it got me thinking about why I ever bothered to diet at all. This post was my response to that...

It just hit me when I read this - I've been going at this weight loss thing like a hobby, something I can pick up and put down at will, something that I have to do "right" if I'm going to do it at all. And because I have to over-analyze absolutely everything, I have been wondering WHY I do this hobby, and what causes me to pick it up and put it down with very little to show for the time and the effort and the money and the pain.

Now, bear with me, I'm just working some things out here...

I'm a people-pleaser, like my mother before me. So at first I assumed that I kept starting diets because that was what other people wanted me to do. If it talked like a diet, walked like a diet, and ate like a diet, then I must be on a diet (never mind what I did when no one was looking) and people would like me because I was doing what they wanted me to do. Then I kept failing at the diets, but at least it gave us something to talk about and I could always start another one. Fair enough, I suppose.


I thought again, that there just wasn't something right about that. Maybe that was where I started, but what if it got even deeper and uglier than that? It's not just that I want my friends and family to like me, you see... I can't stand to think that anybody thinks badly of me. I want EVERYONE to like me. How's that for an unrealistic expectation? Lose 100 pounds in a year - sure, it ain't easy, but if you dedicate your entire existence to it, it could be done. But make yourself inoffensive to everyone on the planet? Not gonna happen.

So here I am, left with the thought that - just maybe - I have been dieting for nearly 30 years as a way of APOLOGIZING to the WORLD for being a fat cow. Not for me, not for my health, not for my future, not even for my husband or my mother. I'm dieting out of GUILT. If I can make myself miserable enough by depriving myself of food that I love and punish myself with exercise that I hate, maybe that will prove to the world that I'm sorry for being ugly. If I hate myself as much as I think everyone else does, maybe the world will hate me less.

So, I drop some weight and I'm getting the attention that I apparently need, and then it becomes old news and I don't get the buzz anymore from the ego-stroking of friends and family because the rest of the world still ignores me just like it always did, only I see it as loathing rather than indifference... and if total strangers still think I'm ugly after losing 30 or 50 or 60 pounds, then what's the point anyway, and I'll just go have a Happy Meal or something to feel better. Only I don't feel better and I haven't punished myself enough yet, so I'll jump off the wagon and say "Frak you!" to the world and gain back all of my weight plus another 20 just out of spite.

WTF? That doesn't sound like such a good idea...

Is that what I've been doing?

Am I really that shallow and needy?

So how's that working out for me?

And... I know the diet-speak pretty well by now: "I am dieting for myself this time! I just want to get healthy!"

Do I mean it this time? Do you believe me? Do *I* believe me?

Here we go....

So that was two years ago, and then some. For most of the next year, I really hung in there. I lost another 20 pounds, for a total of 50, and then.... I hit the emo wall. I had done my absolute best, I really felt good about the way I was living, the exercise I was doing, but once the depression and anxiety hit, I was helpless all over again.

I tried to get back there again, and then again, and then again. Every other week or so I would “recommit” myself to being healthy. But the emo stuff - the hate, the pain, the misuse of food - I couldn’t just decide to not do that anymore and wait for it to go away. It doesn’t just go away by itself, you have to MAKE it go away, you have to learn to care and to stand up and to fight back. You have to do the work first.

I don’t diet anymore. I’m too busy working.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

You've Got to Move It, Move It

I tried yoga for the first time today. It was amazingly difficult! But, in a good way. I might have even liked it. I didn't realize what a workout it actually is - I have done daily stretching, off and on, over the past couple of years, and I kind of thought that yoga was just an extension (pardon the pun) of that. 

On a slightly related note, the yoga class was held in a dance studio. I got some information about lessons and practices - the other student from today works at the studio. I think I will pop back in later in the week to check out a dance session and meet some of the teachers. At the very least I want to try out the first free lesson.

I have learned that getting healthy doesn't mean that I have to "exercise," as in go to the gym or to some kind of aerobics class where I feel like an outsider - a really fat, uncoordinated outsider. I can try new things, things that might be fun. I just need to MOVE, it doesn't matter what it is. I love to walk, so I do that. I love to stretch, so I do that. I love to dance, so I'm going to try that next. Yoga might just be the next step beyond stretching for me, if I continue to enjoy it. But, if I don't, then I don't have to keep doing it. I'll just try something else! 

I don't have to let someone else tell me what I "ought" to do to get healthy. The diet and fitness industry does not know me. Jillian Michaels doesn't know what I am and am not capable of. I don't want to work out until I throw up, and I won't keep doing it if it makes me miserable. I'll quit, just like I did aerobics classes over and over again through the 80's and 90's. I don't want to be in pain, I want to enjoy it and move my body and be happy and healthy at the same time. Every body is different and needs a different kind of movement to feel fulfilled and happy. I don't know what all of my "movements" are yet, but I'm trying things out and I'm having fun in the meantime. 

Sunday Brunch: World War Z

I have (another) confession to make. I am a huge geek. Yep, hundreds of Star Wars viewings, midnight showings of every Harry Potter movie, I own a corset and I’ve actually worn it to Renaissance fairs, and I stood in line at a sci-fi convention to meet Wil Wheaton. I have worn a Jedi knight costume, and not on Halloween. I have sat around tables with other geeks at midnight, eating pizza and Twizzlers and rolling dice and pretending to kill orcs and dire wolves. I also read like a geek.

I first discovered Max Brooks and his zombies a couple of years ago. We had some friends over to watch the Night of the Living Dead remake, and... well, basically, zombies are my Thing. That thing that really, really scares the (un)living daylights out of me. Vampires... meh! Demons... meh! Toothy aliens... meh! I've been reading Stephen King since the 5th grade, so there isn't much that gets to me, you see. Except zombies.

So, after a nervous night with the nightlight on, I come home from work to find my beloved had gotten me a gift: Max Brooks' first book, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead. Since then I have found my zombie-bashing courage and have been able to enjoy a range of zombie-related entertainment. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that Brooks had released a new book. It is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

Okay, ready for the review? This book is SO GOOD. Need I say more? All right: I stayed up reading until I fell asleep from exhaustion two nights in a row because I didn't want to stop reading. I foisted this book off on everyone I knew - B read it just after I did, and next it went to co-workers. I kept sneaking back to the book to read the bits before and after B’s bookmark, so that I could see where he was in the tale.

The concept of the book is that it is a series of interviews with people who survived the zombie apocalypse, organized in a way which tell the tale from the first known zombie infections to the ultimate all out war against the zombie horde. Yes, the typical zombie tropes are there, there's no new or innovative zombie lore (except for perhaps a description of the mechanism that causes the undead to assemble). And the reader already knows the outcome of the war from the very first page, or the description on the back of the book. None of these things are surprising. What is wonderful is that Brooks manages to take a slew of stock characters and stereotypes and turn them into living, fascinating characters with merely a paragraph long introduction and three to five pages of dialogue. Just dialogue. He transmits everything through the character's speech, the words they choose, when they pause, what they choose to talk about. It's just brilliant.

A movie is being made of this book (possibly due July 2013) but, unlike the Hunger Games movie, I'm not so much looking forward to it. It seems that they might be turning it into a single point-of-view story with Brad Pitt as the dashing hero who saves the world. Okay fine, I like Brad and that's typical zombie movie plotting, but that's not WWZ. If you think you might see the movie, I really recommend reading the book first.

(On a side note, often you CAN watch the movie first and try the book later, when both are well done. I saw the movie for Eat, Pray, Love first and thoroughly enjoyed it, and then thought the book was even better. I watched Water for Elephants first, which seemed like the better way to go, because my sister groused at the screen the entire time about how they were doing it wrong... but I liked the movie well enough, and then enjoyed the book too, shortly thereafter. I just don't see this being the case with WWZ. The book is so varied and deep, and it's the individual characters that make the book shine. Focusing on one “hero” and making the others into supporting characters seems a real shame to me.

If you give it a try, come back and let me know what you think!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Read This Too!

Occasionally I'm going to link to things I've found or blogs I like or resources I want to recommend. Today is such a day! :)

Once upon a time while trying to find fat positive places on the Net, I came across a ballroom dancer and dance teacher with a blog called Dances with Fat. The dancer is Ragen Chastain, and she can be followed in blog form, in Facebook form, and probably other social sites. I'll link toward the end, because the thing I want to get to today is her current post: "The Power of the Option."

To quote:
"I don’t care how many people are shouting a lie, it ALWAYS matters what is true.   There are people out there, right now hating themselves, starving themselves, not aware that the diet industry that is lying to them about their chances of “success”.  People who believe what they have been told -  that they can never be healthy, happy, loved, or successful until they are thin, and some of them will die trying to get it done.  I’m not wasting my time, life, or mind because it’s not about what effect I have on the diet industry or the views of the majority, it’s about giving people who are suffering a way out – another option. You can’t change the world until you change your world."

Please link on over to read the whole thing, it's wonderful!

Here is the Dances with Fat home page. Scroll down toward the end to see the embedded video of Ragen and partner ballroom dancing. Beautiful!

Here is her Facebook page, too.

Caturday: The Monty Python Edition

Found at:

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I wrote my very first journal entry for therapy just one year ago, on May 27th. I was so full of self-hatred that I could barely move. I spent days just lying on the couch, intermittently sleeping or crying. I got up and pretended to be okay if I absolutely had to - I went in to work a couple of times a week, I managed a Mother’s Day outing, got drunk on my birthday...

I had been dieting fairly successfully for over two years, but once again it was all falling apart. The weight was creeping back up, I couldn’t get interested in counting calories or going back to the gym. It all seemed so useless. And unfair. Besides, no matter what I did or how much weight I lost I was still so ugly, and stupid, and selfish. What did it matter anyway? What did *I* matter, anyway?

And so I go to this therapist and she wants me to talk about myself - no, not just that, to WRITE about myself, about my stupid, selfish feelings. I’m supposed to take a look at these bad things I say to myself and take them back, replace them with things that are good about me.

I had no faith that it would work. But I am a people-pleaser, and I do what I’m told. I wrote the first entry, and the next, and the next, and soon the words were flowing every day and I wanted to write in this journal, I NEEDED to write, to get it out. Sometimes these thoughts are like poison and you have to suck it out, spit them out on the page and take a good hard look at them so that you can heal.

So... the following entry is me, a year ago. How strange and long ago it seems.

Journal Entry #1

I am embarrassed to even keep a journal of this. I don't think that I even like myself enough to sit here and have a conversation with me, and especially not about food, or eating. I hate eating, I hate food, and I hate me.

But I don't want to.

First day of therapy today. Mostly I spilled my guts, said all of the stuff that no one, single person has ever known. I cried a lot. I hate that too. I guess I've gotten soft in my old age, because it's gotten harder NOT to cry in front of other people now.

We set goals:
        • Breathe
        • Move
        • Practice Driving
        • Eat (5-6 small meals per day)
        • Write
I am a mess. I don't think that I created this mess alone, but I certainly helped. Now the mess is too damn big to clean up all alone. Fortunately, I am not alone. At least there's that.

I'm fat. I'm plain. I'm boring. I'm needy. I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm mean. I'm weak. I'm empty. I'm selfish.

I'm smart. I'm funny. I love. I'm a friend. I'm a writer. I'm an auntie. I am loved. I am not alone.


“You think you deserve this pain, but you don’t.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Who Do I Think I Am?

It’s just a few days into this blogging thing and I have been wondering what I’m really trying to accomplish here. Do I think I’m special or something? Yeah, I’ll admit to being an attention fiend, I get that straight from my mother. But am I important? More special than other survivors? Ummm... that would be a big no. 

So what am I doing this for? Because I’ve gotta be honest with you, this is frightening. Even if no one is reading it other than a few really close friends, this is damn scary stuff. And, and, and! AND, Holy Guacamole, what if Other People ever somehow stumble across this thing and start to read it. Other People are kind of mean sometimes, and sometimes some of them are really, really mean, and frankly, I’m just not equipped to deal with that. Yet. 


My story isn’t different, important, or even terribly dramatic. No one hit me. No one raped me. Even as far as the sexual abuse went... well, let’s just say other people have far more horrible tales to tell. 

I wonder if there are a lot of us out there, left in some kind of limbo. Wondering how we can be so messed up if nothing that bad ever really happened, if there’s no one to point a finger at, no incident to hold up and say, “This! This is what made me broken!” It just didn’t seem all that bad, but here we are, sort of broken and kind of functional. The in-betweeners. 

Growing up, I had a couple of neighbors who had their suspicions. They knew something was wrong at my house, but they had no proof. They befriended me, talked to me, tried to be pseudo-parental figures, but there was nothing they could do. What were they to say? They don’t love her enough. He says mean things. She has too many chores, too much responsibility. She’s a 10 year old running a household while her mother works 60 hours and her stepfather drinks. They tell her she’s not pretty, not good, and not normal. No, there are no scars, no bruises, no horrific fights, no domestic violence calls. 

Still and yet... damage was done. 

And maybe that is what is important to tell. We all deserve to be loved, to find trust, to get better, to feel better. Even if what we went through wasn’t The Worst Thing Ever. Even if we feel guilty for thinking about it as “abuse.” Even if we still love them, as bad as they made us feel. Even if we think that it isn’t their fault, that they didn’t mean it, that they were doing the best that they could. Even if we feel like we don’t deserve to be angry. 

Someone hurt me and I didn't deserve THAT. That matters.