Archives for Recovery


When Change Changes You

Suddenly it seems like everywhere I go online I'm reading about an app called Slack.

Apparently it is like Twitter + Facebook for office types.

Slack's goal - according to its CEO at least - is to eliminate email.

But his underlying goal is to get back to his family and his herd of alpacas (small furry camels, basically) by eliminating work...or at least some of it.

Stewart Butterfield, Slack's CEO, did exactly that after selling his first creation, Flickr, to Yahoo for an alleged $25 million.

But then he quickly came back...with Slack.

In a recent interview, Butterfield had this to share about why he feels it is important to reduce the time we spend working:

I think that we're as a species not quite equipped to deal with the power of this stuff just in the same way we weren't quite equipped to deal with infinite free calories. This is how people end up with diabetes...we will now have the cognitive emotional diabetes of over interacting with people who aren't physically present.

Butterfield thinks Slack can help with the tendency we seem to have to overwork ourselves, or (in some cases, most notably Japan's Karoshi) literally work ourselves to death.

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I Love My Body…Except When I Don’t

Recently I was chatting with a recovery friend about body acceptance.

All of a sudden it hit me.

Body acceptance is one thing.

Body love - body enjoyment - well, this is quite another.

For example, most days these days I am filled to the brim with body acceptance.

I also feel reliable amounts of body gratitude and appreciation (especially after my 2011 surgery, when I experienced just how much I rely on my healthy body to do just about everything).

But body love - well, this is still a work-in-progress.

I suppose I could even say that my relationship with my body is still evolving. We've gotten to the mutual respect thing - but the raw throw-the-doors-wide-open "I love you with my whole heart and nothing less!" stage is yet ahead.

Of course, I'm not complaining....precisely.

After spending nearly three decades immersed in all things body hate, body revulsion, body disownment, finally experiencing body acceptance is pretty great.

But still, I aspire to more. Much more. 
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The Reality Behind Strange Addictions

A couple days ago I was over at my boyfriend's house.

He has cable television - I do not.

This is probably a good thing, since every time we turn on the tube at his place, I am instantly sucked in.

This last time we ended up watching a show called "My Strange Addiction."

It was actually a marathon, so we watched several shows on this topic all in a row.

I couldn't say if the addictions got more or less strange as the hours unfolded. But what I can say for sure is I probably qualify to be a guest on the show, and so does my pet parrot.

Here are some of the addictions the people on the show had: drinking paint, eating dirt, chewing tire rubber, dressing up as a horse for something called "pony play," using Vicks' VapoRub (for practically everything), cross-dressing using silicone costumes complete with breasts and face masks, hugging inflatable pool toys, getting butt injections....and these are just the ones I can remember. 
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Finding My Line in the Sand

Last week I had a very enlightening experience.

The short story is that I was offered a writing job that I turned down.

The long story is that what the company was asking me to do didn't jive well with what I call my "internal moral code."

Basically, it all started when I saw a job posting for a freelance writer who specializes in academic papers.

While I do not specialize in this type of writing, I felt like all the "A's" I still remember receiving for high school and college essay assignments indicated I might still have the chops to pull it off.

Plus the pay was pretty good.

So I applied for it and got the job.

After I got the job, I started the training process and quickly began to question what I was really doing.

After taking a closer look at the company's website (something I absolutely admit I should have done before applying!), I realized my job was basically to write academic papers for high school, college and graduate students - including med school students - to use in their academic studies.

Ooooooo. Or, I should say, ewwwwwwww.

So I talked to my dad about it. I described the job and watched his expression change. His expression mirrored the changes going on in my stomach as I processed the idea of helping students cheat their way through their classes.

Then I did some research online to see how companies like this one (and there are many around the world, I discovered) can legally do what they are doing.

Their defense is a good one - they say they are just providing the papers to help the students (who are ordering and paying for them) generate creative ideas and do some advance research.

But the extensive testimonials from student-customers crowing over the A's these papers have earned them beg to differ.

At last I realized that, however legal (or not) the service may be, it simply didn't sit right with me. It just didn't. I wiggled and squirmed and squished myself up in all manner of ways, and I still couldn't see myself writing one. single. paper. for this company.


At that point I extricated myself as politely and expeditiously as I could.

But this whole experience has led me to question how our individual and respective "lines in the sand" get drawn.

What if, for example, I had been raised in a culture that actually embraces "getting away with something" or skirting "the system?"

What if my folks had valued the grey areas of life above the white (good) and black (bad) and encouraged me to dive into the grey and go exploring?

What if my mentors had actively modeled methods for doing the least work possible and getting the most results? 
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Why I’m Not So Sure I Want to Look “Ageless”

I'm turning 45 this year.

That means I have been on this planet for 45 years (or almost 46 if you count the initial 9 months).


I will be honest - I don't feel 45.

I don't feel any age, really. If I had to pick an age, I would say it would be one that is much younger than the one I actually am, although I'm not exactly sure which age that would be.

I just feel like, with every year that goes by, more and more layers of "applied persona" - various masks and camo outfits and disguises I felt the need to adopt during different earlier stages of my life - peel back to reveal the essence of who I really am.

Like emerging from a particularly transformative shower, turning 45 feels like a reward for all the intense time and scrubbing it took to get me this clean.

So imagine my reaction to a recent short post by Susanna Schrobsdorff (editor of Real Simple and 51 year-old mom to two) where she shared:

I've already seen "Sexy at 70" headlines. Will everyone be expected to go to their graves looking hot?

Oh goodness. I certainly hope not!

I was actually quite looking forward to the days when, like my 70-ish parents, I could pause with genuine shock after reading an editorial and say, "Women are getting what done to which part of their anatomy? But WHY?!"

Why, indeed.

Why would women (and increasing numbers of men) go into debt to get various portions of their physical being frozen, snipped, clipped, trimmed, suctioned away or otherwise re-routed...especially when, as Schrobsdorff states:

It's all so exhausting. 
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How Trauma Has Mentored Me

Out of all the experiences I have had in my 44+ years to date, "trauma" is not one of my favorites.

For example, I did not enjoy the two decades I spent trying to heal from an eating disorder.

I didn't like my subsequent lengthy battle with anxiety and then depression.

I didn't enjoy losing my friend David, both of my best friend's parents, my first cockatiel, Jacob, and our family's dachshund, JP Morgan.

I also didn't enjoy my tumor...
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Animal Mentors

A Choice Between Safety and Survival

Last night I started watching a new BBC series called "Hidden Kingdoms."

In this series, little wild beings like mice and beetles get their 15 minutes of fame as the camera takes a look at what it is like to be tiny and totally on your own in the wild world.

For instance, if you are a sengi, or elephant shrew, and you are not even as big as one toenail on the giant creature you are named after, how do you cope when that same giant creature lumbers by and obliterates the trail-based safety system you worked on all morning (and your whole life, really)?

If you are a sengi, you rebuild the trails, of course.

But then what if lightening strikes in the African desert right near your trail system and you have to run for your life?

What then?

The answer is surprisingly unpleasant...for both the sengi and BBC's viewers. 
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How to Join the Peace AND Prosperity Club

When you read today's post title, you probably thought to yourself, "That sounds great - sign me up for that club!"

And I agree - I'd like to join too!

But here's the thing - at least in my own journey to date.

I can remember back to when I had plenty of prosperity (like in my first white collar job).

But at that time, I had no peace.

So I couldn't join the club.

Now, I can say I have more peace than I ever expected to have - in fact, I have so much peace now that even on true anxiety-producing days, I can usually find my way through it and back to the peace.

But the prosperity....where is it?

So I still can't join the club.

So now my new goal is to acquire plenty of both so they will finally let me in.
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Good News

The Secret to Sustaining Happiness

Many years ago, I was sitting on the floor of an ashram, wearing what looked (to the westernized me at least) a lot like pajamas.

Our lesson that day was about happiness - how to find it, how to hold onto it.

Our teacher explained, "People will fight so hard to get rid of pain, suffering. But when it comes to joy, they think it should just come to them and stay all by itself."

Since that day, I have never taken my own happiness for granted. 
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Animal Mentors

The Birds of Pandemonium

Granted, now that Pandemonium Aviaries is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Michele has lots of volunteer help. But no one knows better than a fellow nonprofit founder (aka moie) that the pressure to do more, and do better, never ever stops.

Not to mention that - especially in the early years - she faced a rather staunch brotherhood of exotic bird breeders who overall hadn't much use for a gal with a soft heart for the injured, abandoned, neglected, misunderstood, and otherwise traumatized cast-aways in the exotic bird world.

But none of that stopped her. 
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