Right now I am reading “Mind of the Raven” by Bernd Heinrich.
It is great bedtime reading, because instead of attempting to go to sleep while worrying about my bank balance or whether I’ll be single forever, I can go to bed worrying about whether I can finish this 350+ page tome before the library sends the angry check-out police to my door.
Plus, corvids just fascinate me. According to Science Magazine, corvids (crows, ravens, magpies, jays) are capable of mental time travel, social cognition (whatever that is), and tool manufacture. According to fellow corvid enthusiast and author Candace Savage,
Crows, ravens, magpies, and jays are not just feathered machines, rigidly programmed by their genetics. Instead, they are beings that, within the constraints of their molecular inheritance, make complex decisions and show every sign of enjoying a rich awareness.
Cooooool. Plus – I just have to say it – I rather think I already knew that.
PBS’ “Ravens – Discover the Brainpower of the Bird in Black” features studies by Heinrich and others that prove corvids are as smart as canines. Not only that, but Heinrich has observed how his ravens (those he raises and those he studies in the wild) have distinct dining preferences – for instance, these meat-loving avians turn up their beaks at a snack of fresh raw beef liver, but hone right in on scattered potato chips.
I get so many questions from recovering people about how to replace the mean voices inside their heads with something kinder.
For many years I didn’t know how to answer this question. This, of course, was because the voices inside my own head were still quite mean.
Today, the voices in my head have gotten much kinder. Unfortunately, this does not mean I am any closer to answering those who ask me how it is done.
What I can say is – when the shift occurs, you will KNOW it.
Although, truthfully, you might not know it all at once – for me, significant changes like this often “sneak up” on me – like they are afraid I will run them off if they just show up with too little advance warning.
So I will never be one of those people you want to ask, “So what was the exact, precise, on-the-second moment when you knew such-and-so had changed?”
But I will tell you HOW I changed the positive self-talk in my head, and how you can know your own efforts are starting to work.
Over the years I have come to realize that making an effort is not something I really understand all that well.
In the meditation course I subscribe to, this thought recently arrived in my inbox:
There is no reason that what is meant by self-effort should be vague. It’s just a matter of doing it. If we don’t do anything, then no self-effort is being applied.
What I learned from this – initially – is that there are two different types of effort. I also learned that both are essential if I want to achieve my goals.
Setting a goal is the first type of effort. Doing the actual work required to achieve that goal is the second type of effort.
Truthfully, I am mostly already quite good at the former – goal clarification. I am even good at plotting out the steps towards achieving a goal. But I’m still not good at all at following my own plan by actually doing each of those steps.
In another installment of my meditation course, I received this additional insight on how to get better at goal achievement.
This week marks the start of the National Eating Disorders Association‘s Annual NEDAwareness Week (Feb 23 – March 1, 2014).
This is a whole wonderful week designated to raise awareness, share education, and generate support for individuals who are affected by eating disorders.
As a person who has recovered from anorexia and bulimia, this is a personally significant week for me.
It is also a week when MentorCONNECT, a NEDA Network partner (MentorCONNECT is the eating disorders nonprofit I founded in 2009), comes together with NEDA to raise awareness and funds for our joint work to ease suffering and spread hope of recovery.
We do this through our “Virtual Walk,” a social media-based effort to get the word out that eating disorders are deadly and isolation kills. With support, with love, with treatment, people DO heal.
This is our 4th year of co-sponsoring the “Virtual Walk” – and we hope you will join in!
Oh, and participating is easy – oh, so easy! And you can participate even if you can’t donate money!
If you are able to make a donation: http://nedawalk.org/virtualwalk2014
You can also share the Virtual Walk link using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other favorite social media apps to invite friends and family to participate.
If you want to share the link with others: http://nedawalk.org/virtualwalk2014
And if you want to share a picture, feel free to grab the one displayed here and just link it to the walk page URL.
The National Eating Disorders Association and MentorCONNECT both benefit from your donations and your sharing – and we both thank you in advance for your support!
A friend sent me a fabulous article on Tiny Buddha called “What to Do When You Find it Hard to Do What’s Good for You.”
Of course I jumped right on it.
This is because I have that problem all the time, with all kinds of things.
I also have all kinds of (very good sounding) reasons for why I shouldn’t work harder to overcome the many obstacles in my life….especially the ones I sort of suspect I am putting in my own path.
Of course the author of the article talks about “big things” – obvious things – things like trying to quit smoking, trying to start eating better, trying to exercise for your health when you really just want to lay on the couch again – those sorts of things.
But I could easily see how the message relates to the smaller things too – the subtler things – things like talking rudely to yourself in your head, or letting fear creep up and tackle you yet again without even putting up a fight, or saying something mean about someone else because you just feel too lazy to restrain yourself.
The article’s author says that both the big things and the little things are a symptom of the same thing – a lack of self-respect.
I totally agree.
I just finished another great book – “Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond” by Meg Daley Olmert.
Given that it is Valentine’s Day today, and my feathery sidekick and I are celebrating 13 (loud but) blissful years together, I thought the book would make for a perfect post.
The premise of “Made for Each Other” is simple: humans and animals have been bonded together for centuries – until now.
The last 100 years has dramatically changed our ability and need to be connected to our non-human helpmeets in practical ways (think farming, milking, construction).
As this bond slowly breaks down, it is changing us – and not for the better.
February is the “month of love” annually for many people.
Not for me.
And especially not this year.
A month before my birthday (in December) I lost someone who was like a second mom to me and had been slowly passing all during the last year. So….basically, an excruciating wait followed by an even more excruciating loss.
Two months after that (so in January), I went through the breakup of a long-term relationship….and by long-term, I’m talking a decade of not just romance but also true friendship.
It has been a challenging month.
To add insult to serious injury, the dreaded “grief cycle” (thanks but no thanks, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) quickly returned – with enthusiasm – to “help” me through my twin losses.
What its help has looked like on a daily basis feels similar to what I imagine I might see if I was inside a blender as it was grinding up a few heaping cups of multi-colored Fruit Loops.
I’m almost done reading “Divorce Among the Gulls: An Uncommon Look at Human Nature” by William Jordan (I previously wrote about this fascinating book in “Finding Our Niche and Defending It“).
The book is as much about people as it is about animals….and as much about animals as it is about people…..which means it is holding my attention quite well overall (except for the part about cockroaches – my gag reflex required me to skip over that one).
But when I got to the chapter called “Distracting the Snake,” I took a long pause to contemplate. Reason being, this chapter introduces a very plausible biologically-based theory for why human beings hurt the ones we love the most with the greatest frequency and the most lethal intent.
This was a question I have very much wanted to know the answer to for a great many years. So I read each word very, very slowwwwwlllllyyyyy.
Apparently, in college author Jordan had a literal “snake charmer” for a roommate. This odd and interesting fellow could turn snakes into cool scaly puppies, lying across his arms and even allowing total strangers to pass them around in a circle like party favors.
After Jordan witnessed Farley (the roommate’s name) handling an eight-foot gopher snake in the middle of the steaming hot Mojave Desert, he just had to ask. “How do you do it? What’s the secret to handling snakes?”
She always motivates me to give my very best – and then to give even more.
10 years ago this month, Jenni accomplished a huge personal goal when she published the now-bestselling book Life Without Ed: how one woman declared independence from her eating disorder and you can too.
This month, “Life Without Ed” celebrates its 10th anniversary, and we celebrate Jenni, her recovery, and all she has done for others who are still struggling to recover.
On Wednesday, February 12th, Jenni will speak about her work and her recovery in a FREE MentorCONNECT teleconference.
This event is a part of our plans to raise awareness of eating disorders during NEDAwareness Week 2014.
==> You can RSVP for the free live teleconference (call in) event HERE.
==> If you can’t attend the live event, you can listen to the free podcast (once it is posted) HERE (or in iTunes).
==> You can participate in NEDA & MentorCONNECT’s 4th Annual Virtual Walk for eating disorders awareness by offering a donation or sharing this link with your social media networks (or both)!
You can also enter to win a free book right now, today – it is simple to enter!
To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is CLICK HERE TO READ Jenni’s “DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FROM ED.”
Then post a comment stating your commitment to declare your own independence from your eating disorder.
Two books – both signed anniversary editions of “Life Without Ed” – will be given away and winners will be chosen at random (using a random number generator Jenni suggested- this will be a real first for me!)
==> CLICK HERE TO READ Jenni’s “Declaration of Independence from ED,” post your commitment in a comment below, and enter to win a …
I live in a neighborhood with lots of growing pains.
Because of this, I now know it takes two full days (if they start early on the morning of the 1st day) to tear a whole house down and cart it away.
Since they are hard at work putting up six new houses on my street alone, I will soon find out approximately how long it takes to build a new house where the old house used to be.
But what I already know is that it makes quite a racket while they are doing it!
There are the ground smoothers. And the concrete pourers. And the wood haulers. And the paint sprayers. And of course the loud (blaring) tunes from somebody’s boom box (apparently this is a required part of every “new home building” process).
While it is happening it is irritating, messy, lengthy, erratic, and seemingly endless.
But when the process finally does conclude, there is a beautiful shiny new HOME where a flimsy condemned shack used to stand.
Life is like this (or at least I think it is – usually I’m too busy complaining during the “growing pains” phases to really bookmark the actual specifics).
We endure the growing pains – somehow – and then, one day and just when we least expect it, voila!
Lovely, new, shining, and oh-so-proud – we behold ourselves.
Just like that, we have triumphed over even the worst of our own growing pains, and boy-oh-boy is it ever worth it!
Today’s Takeaway: What is your typical reaction during “growing pains” periods of your life? Do you complain (like I often do)? Do you make a conscious effort to step back and look at the bigger picture to see a transformation in process? Some other way? What helps you most to endure during the “tearing down” and then the “building process”?
p.s. This post is from January’s “Good News for Eating Disorders Recovery” ezine. To read the full edition click HERE
Home construction image available from Shutterstock.