Archives for Inspirational

Inspirational

Why I’m Looking Forward to Getting Old

Somehow, turning 45 (which happened just this past December) triggered what I can only call a "mid-life fear of death crisis." For anyone who is just joining us here now, it probably won't surprise you to learn I blogged quite a bit about this issue last year. While I have continued to ponder and reflect on my oddly cantankerous relationship with the reality of my own death, I haven't blogged about it for awhile now. I think this is because I haven't really come across anything new to re-open the topic for discussion. Until now. A few months ago, when my regular weekly issue of Time magazine arrived, there was a long section in it about "longevity." While most of it was focused on answering questions about how to prolong life, why the healthiest folks aren't always the longest-life winners, and what species of beings tend to live longest, sandwiched in between all that was a topic about how old people are less scared of dying. Because, apparently, they are. According to Time and a University of Colorado research professor named Thomas Pyszczynski (who I suspect would win the prize for "most consonants in a last name"), old people actually feel more satisfaction and less anxiety when contemplating their own death. They also take bad news better - as in the "sorry old sport but there's nothing more we can do" kind of news. Leeds, England psychology professor Steve Taylor says this is because old people stop trying to take ownership of everything in their lives. 
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Animal Mentors

Turtle Lives Matter….a LOT

Being a turtle mommy, for me at least, has been like winning free tickets to the "learning curve rollercoaster" - that really fast, scary one I never wanted to ride in the first place. If you've been following Malti's adventures on her blog, you probably remember that she recently went missing for 6 days. Those were pretty much the 6 longest days of our life together to date. In our personal network, no one seemed surprised that I would ditch work, socializing and pretty much everything else for 6 consecutive days to search for my baby turtle. (This, of course, is because our flock has the coolest network ever.) But outside our network, and sometimes outside (literally) as I was searching, I would get "those looks." Like, "Why are you on your belly on the ground looking under my car with a flashlight?" Well, um, "My baby turtle is lost and I'm searching for her." Oooohkaaaay. "Your baby - what?" "Turtle." "Well, uh, good luck with that...." Yup. 
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Inspirational

Thinking Your Way Up the Self-Talk Ladder

Recently, I attempted to track down an interesting quote about how the average person tends to repeat five times more negative than positive messages about himself or herself. The surprise was what I got when I hit "enter." I got lots of hits describing how positive self-talk can backfire on us. In fact, the more I read about this topic, the worse I felt. Apparently, if you suffer from low self-esteem and you try to raise it by repeating positive self-talk messages, you have a greater chance of making yourself feel worse than better. This totally makes sense to me, by the way. As someone who is slowly recovering from a lifetime of low self-esteem, I have put in my time and then some repeating those very same positive self-talk messages - usually with ever-worsening results. It would seem the key is to choose to repeat messages that actually feel believable or possible, which (understandably) can be quite a feat if you are feeling like total crap. But in this new era of studying the mind-body connection and finding that they are connected, well, all over the place, there is also an ongoing eagerness to learn to feel better in body AND in mind by making the mind a more positive place to live...or at least visit from time to time. And I can say this. As I have continued on my recovery journey, I have become much kinder towards myself, if through no other mechanism than sheer dogged determination to do so. In other words, after innumerable years of oh so many failed affirmations, one or two of them must have finally stuck. And once that happened, the others were easier to wedge into my brain alongside the surviving trailblazers. But I wouldn't be able to describe to you exactly how I did it, save for this little juicy tidbit I actually picked up from a book called "Ask and It is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires" by Esther and Jerry Hicks. This is one of many books that often seem like variations on the theme of the popular "law of attraction" theories. And don't get me wrong here. While to this day I have zero problem with developing an ability to bring more of what I want and less of what I don't want into my life, I must also acknowledge that sometimes it is precisely the stuff I really don't want that has turned out to be the same stuff I really do need in order to learn how to get more of what I want and less of what I don't. If that makes any type of obscure sense at all. So even though I know the "Law of Attraction" has been a big blessing for some folks, it has never really worked well for me in a sense, because it actually tries to get me from A to Z  (or at least A to B) a lot faster than is healthy or even possible for me. In other words, I actually seem to need a road map with more dead ends and roadblocks and wrong directions so I can learn the stuff I need to learn before I can learn the stuff I want to learn. (I will totally understand if that didn't make a single bit of sense at all!) But what I learned while reading "Ask and It is Given" is also the reason I now know that repeating strong positive self-talk statements doesn't work when I am in a particularly negative self-talk state. It doesn't work because I don't believe any of it - not for a minute. So instead of soaking in the good vibes of all that rosy-positive self-talk, I am typically busy giving myself a stern lecture about spending yet another day blowing smoke up my own a**. What DOES work, however, is this: I reach for a thought that feels just a little bit better than whatever awful thought my mind has been thinking ad nauseam about myself. So if I'm thinking, "I am the worst, most-selfish and worthless person on the planet," I don't try to immediately replace that thought with, "I am the kindest and most-wonderful person on the planet." As if. I wasn't born yesterday. Instead, I might replace it with a thought that feels just a little bit better - i.e. just a little bit more accurate, such as this thought, "Well, okay, I'm probably not the worst person on the whole planet. I mean, at least I'm not an axe murderer." That thought feels better. It also feels accurate - i.e., still true." So my mind doesn't waste any real energy or time trying to contradict it. In an odd and absolutely counter-intuitive way, suddenly I'm not feeling quite so bad about being me. Once that thought settles in, I can then reach for the next "not quite so bad feeling thought." So maybe that might be, "In fact, yesterday I got out of bed to feed my animals even though I didn't want to. So that was unselfish - kind of nice, actually." Here again, the statement is true. My mind can't argue the point since I did in fact get up, get out of the bed, clean out their habitats, and give them fresh food and water. That thought also feels just a little bit better than, "well at least I'm not an axe murderer." 
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Inspirational

A Definition for Faith

For those of you who have been following my progress for this year's intention, "The Year of Having Faith," you are no doubt aware there have been many starts and stops, aha moments and setbacks thus far. Recently, nearly halfway through this faith-focused year, I came across a definition for faith that I actually resonate with. In a sea of definitions that read like textbook-based memorization lessons (i.e., "having complete confidence in someone or something" and "strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion") it was a real relief to stumble across a definition that felt - human. Authentic. Compassionate. Inclusive of both questions and answers. This definition, discovered in an older yoga lesson I recently re-read, stated: Faith is believing the unseen is as real as the seen. 
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Celebrity Mentors

Seeing Our Body with Eyes of Love

I follow Don Miguel Ruiz, Sr., on Instagram. I say that because recently he re-posted the opening lines of from a chapter in his book called "The Mastery of Love" on his Instagram. Now, I have read this book many times.....oh so many times. I credit "The Mastery of Love" with the many oopses I have avoided making in my own relationships. It is truly a miracle worker in print. This particular chapter, titled "Seeing with Eyes of Love," read: If you look at your body, you will find billions of living beings who depend on you. Every cell in your body is a living being that depends on you. You are responsible for all of those beings. For all of those living beings that are your cells, you are God. You can provide what they need; you can love all those living beings, or you can be so mean to them. I read it. Then I read it again. Then I read it again. Something in me was reading in a new way, at a new level, at a depth where suddenly I GOT IT. I can almost say I felt each one of those billions of cells, those living beings relying on me with such trust and devotion, hoping each day that this will be a day when I am loving and not mean. These cells, with their humility, their willingness to follow, somehow are also serving as my mentors, ever so hopeful that I will learn to see with the eyes of love today, if not yesterday, or if not today, perhaps tomorrow. Their hope was - is - so palpable. 
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Celebrity Mentors

What Do You Think of Jennifer Lawrence’s “New Normal?”

A post or two ago, I shared a personal experience about ordering a pastry and eating it with peace and happiness. This was significant because I did this even though the friend I was with at the time (who is much more slight and not curvy like me) wasn't doing the same on account of feeling, well, fat. I mean, I've been in recovery for well over a decade, and this certainly wasn't the first time I've eaten what I wanted in the presence of someone who was having a bad body image day. But it was the first time it felt so - effortless - AND that I noticed how effortless it felt. That was the really cool part. Back in April, actress Jennifer Lawrence came out with a statement about her vision for Hollywood's body future. In an interview with Harpers Bazaar magazine, she said she wants her city and her industry to embrace what she calls "a new normal body type." What she actually, precisely said was this: 
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Good News

The Place Where it Hurts is Also Where it Heals

When I first developed an eating disorder back in 1981 (35 years ago - wow!), there was no internet. I mean, there probably was an internet somewhere, hidden in some super-secret programmers-only closet. But I sure as heck didn't know about it. So I got much sicker, and then I got much better, without ever once realizing there might be such a thing as a "recovery community" I could participate in to find support. In 2009, finally having achieved full recovery myself, I founded MentorCONNECT, or "MC," the first global nonprofit eating disorders recovery community.  MC was my "baby" for sure, but it was also the first recovery community I had ever belonged to. As well, it represented my first exposure to recovery concepts like "triggers" - which were explained to me as "painful or scary experiences that might weaken my desire for recovery and send me running back to the eating disorder behaviors for safe haven". As it was explained to me, triggers were something to avoid at all costs. But I never really did manage to internalize the concept of triggers as dangerous. To me, triggers were GOOD.  
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Inspirational

World Eating Disorders Action Day (#WeDoAct)

35 years ago, I developed anorexia nervosa. I was 11. Today, at age 45, I have more than 20 years of recovery work under my belt, and every day there is still something new to learn - some new way I can make progress on the recovery path and fulfill my highest potential. Still, I have to admit - today marks the start of an event I honestly never thought I would see in my lifetime - the inauguration of World Eating Disorders Action Day (WEDAD). This first year, the social media-fueled campaign aims to get the word out through #WeDoAct, blogging and social shares. In future years - well, who knows what may become possible as even more activists and organizations jump on board! Personally, a big part of my recovery journey has revolved around sharing the gift of recovery mentoring with others. In each and every year of my life to date, my mentors have continually encouraged and supported me to keep struggling and striving, to stay hopeful and open, to visualize and then work to create a personally meaningful life that includes but does not revolve around my experience of having had an eating disorder. This, as you might imagine, has never been an easy balance to achieve, but it has shown itself to be worth every bit of the extra effort it has required. 
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Good News

When Your Body is Weak Your Spirit is STRONG

Trust me. I wouldn't say something like this if I didn't really mean it. And when I say "mean it," I'm not talking about a belief - something I say with my mouth and believe in my head. I mean I have experienced it first-hand with my body, mind, heart and spirit all expressing their willingness to go public to corroborate my story. Allow me to share a recent experience: One very early morning last month, my lower back woke me out of a sound sleep with two sharp, stabbing pains. Suddenly, I could barely move my legs. Not too many hours later, I bit down on my breakfast only to feel more stabbing pain issuing up through my jaw and across the right side of my skull. The only word I can think of to adequately describe that entire next week is "excruciating." My chiropractor did what she could for my back. I found an oral surgeon who introduced me to the dubious pleasures of "laughing gas" while she excised the offending root. In this way, most of my month was consumed by alternating bouts of upper and lower body pain, combined with regularly scheduled doses of antibiotics and pain medications and a startlingly high daily "nap count." As the days wore on and began to wear on me, I remembered something a mentor of mine had once shared - "when the body is weak, the spirit becomes really strong." Since I had nothing but time at this point, I decided to investigate her statement more fully. I started by becoming more deliberate about making daily time for meditation (versus snoring) and also taking more care to remember my dreams. As I did so, one "aha moment" after another began to emerge. Some of these aha moments unlocked repetitive dream-series I have been dreaming for years without any clue about what they mean. As this continued, I found myself wondering if physical weakness could be considered a divine gift of empathy, of sincere kindness, of unconditional love, because when we are living our conscious, physical-plane day-to-day lives, we are simply too present in the sheer "realness" of concrete daily life to even hear our spirit if it tries to reach us. Here is a very simple example of this that happens to me quite often: 
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Inspirational

No, I Don’t Feel Fat (and Yes, I’m Going to Eat That)

I had such a cool day today. It was the kind of day that makes every single day - all 2 decades of them - I spent recovering from an eating disorder worth it. More than worth it. When I left to meet my friend for coffee, I wasn't especially keen on what I was wearing or how I looked. I also felt like I might have a cold coming on. In short, I felt kind of .... iffy. But since I love this particular friend very much, I went to meet her anyway. We ordered. She got a latte. I got a giant cold coffee frappe and a tasty pastry. My friend is quite tiny (naturally so - not on account of any past history of an eating disorder). Where I curve, she hugs the straight line. When I offered to share my pastry with her, she turned me down, but not for the reasons I expected. My tiny friend told me her pants were suddenly way too tight and no way was she going to eat a pastry. And here is the best part. IT DIDN'T PHASE ME ONE BIT. 
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