Friday, December 31, 2010

The Obligatory New Year's Eve Post

Hey!  It looks like I'm back!  Thanks for being so gracious and supportive about my break-taking.  It is much appreciated, blog friends.  Also, I'm glad that so many people enjoyed my pumpkin caramel oats recipe.  If you haven't tried it yet, do it.  You will not regret it.

It also looks like it's New Year's Eve.  In a handful of hours, not even a drop in the bucket of eternity, 2010 will be gone forever.  And I have to admit -- I'm not all that broken up about it.  2010 has been a rough one for me.  Not that I expect the turning of the calendar year to fix all my problems.  But there is something tantalizing about a freshly hung calendar and the untouched expanse of a new year, as pristine as new-fallen snow reflecting the glimmering moonlight.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions.  While I'm hoping to capitalize off of others' resolutions (incarnating as increased attendance in my fitness hula hoop class), resolutions don't do much for me.  That said, I do have a focus for 2011.  A theme, if you will.  And that theme . . . will be the topic of tomorrow's post (oh, cruel suspense!).

But since I'm not entirely evil, I'll leave you with this video from Jonathan Baxter of the HoopPath.  He talks about hooping as a personal practice, which is something I hope to be running with for the new year:


How will you be spending this last day of 2010?  How about the first day of 2011?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pumpkin Caramel Oats

Caramel pumpkin oats

I know, I know.  I'm breaking my self-declared blogging hiatus.  But this breakfast was too good to keep all to myself.

This was an oat-alicious breakfast of moderation.  After doling out about 1/3 cup of oat bran, 1/3 cup of oat meal, and two heaping spoonfuls of pumpkin puree into a mug, I stirred in just a smidge of each of the following:
  • cinnamon 
  • vanilla extract
  • vanilla protein powder
  • sugar free caramel flavor (the kind you put in coffee)
  • caramel macchiato creamer
  • raisins
Then I microwaved the whole mess for just over a minute (until the concoction began to bubble and threaten to overflow the the mug), removed, stirred again, and sprinkled a bit of coconut shavings over the top.

All I can say is yum.  And it was so easy, with no measuring tools required.  Use your eyeballs and your tummy's intuition and you'll be good to go.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gimme a Break

Image source
I really enjoyed reading all of your poopalicious recovery comments on my last post.  Recovery is challenging on so many different levels, and it's time that we start discussing the stuff everyone's afraid to talk about because it's weird, awkward, and/or messy.  It's better that it's out in the open, where its scare-power is lessened, than being shrouded in mystery and fear.  Which is kind of like how the majority of women in labor poop while giving birth -- and don't find out that this is a possibility until it's actually happening.  Can you imagine?  If I'm going to poop in front of other people, I want to at least be prepared!

Okay, enough with the poop talk.  Oddly enough, for all this talk of talk, I've been finding myself without much to say via blog.  So, instead of berating myself for "failing" at blogging, or just taking up blogosphere space with fluffy, not-very-meaningful posts, I'm giving myself permission to take a week off from the blog.  Take that, perfectionism!

Also, maintaining this blog takes major energy, and at least some of that energy I'd rather invest in novels or freelance writing.  I'd rather write creatively each day and blog only a few times a week rather than vice versa.  So I'm taking the week off, giving myself mental space to re-excite myself about blogging, and during that time I'll also be thinking about whether I should cut back the frequency of my posts.  Besides, I think we'd all rather see three really good posts on this blog each week rather than six or seven mediocre ones.

And, just because it's fun, I'll leave you with the latest hooping challenge that I've been working on -- a toss and chest roll that I hope to eventually turn into a behind-the-back toss and roll:


What's your take on the post frequency issue?  What would you like to see on this blog in the future?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Joy of Pooping

Image source
That's right -- pooping. 

We tend to be generally familiar with many of the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder in our loved ones -- dramatic weight loss or gain (depending on the disorder), obsession with food and weight, depression, isolation, and so forth.  However, we don't talk much about what happens after a person with an eating disorder starts to get better.  Although I've been mulling over this idea for a post for quite some, Clare's post on her struggle with the physical fallout of her food restriction and compulsive overexercise spurred me to get writing. 

As you may know, although I have struggled with using eating as a way to soothe myself, my most life-threatening battle with disordered eating manifested about five years ago in starvation, food restriction, and overexercise.  I dropped to 112 pounds, which is not much on my 5'7" frame, and for a while would eat only salads (which contained nothing more substantial than veggies and low-cal dressing).  I experienced heart palpitations, thinning hair, dry skin, constant feelings of cold, a non-existent libido, extreme fatigue, and bruising due to my body's lack of fat.  It was, in a word, bad.

By the grace of God I somehow found myself being treated by a loving therapist twice a week, who challenged me to increase my food intake and, more importantly, ask why I was abusing myself so much.  And, slowly, I put healthy weight and fat back on my bones and so entered recovery. 

Happy, right?  Looking back, yes, I know that this was all very good, even while I might not have shared those sentiments at the time.  But there were side effects that accompanied my slow journey back to health that nobody talks about.  Although the side effects each recovering disordered eater experiences can be very different, my particular struggle was with poop.

Yep.  Poop.

As I worked to attain an adequate daily food intake, my body struggled to digest anything and everything.  This side effect is fairly common with folks who restrict food, especially if there has been laxative abuse involved.  My problem was probably compounded by the fact that, even while I was including nutritious additions in my diet, I still enjoyed a massive veggie salad everyday.  Combining my bowl of uber-fiber with my already comprised digestion meant that I had gas.  Lots and lots of it.  Basically, I smelled like poop all the time.  My students asked why it smelled like somebody had soiled their pants.  It was mortifying. 

I wish I could give other recovering disordered eaters a works-like-a-charm method to avoid this bloating, constipation, and gas.  But there isn't any such method.  All I can say, as trite as it may sound, is that it gets better.  Just keep working on getting better, and your body will eventually follow. 

And for those who know someone who's battling an eating disorder, be kind.  Understand that your loved one is very much aware of her poopalicious issue, and that she needs your reassurance that you are still by her side, even if it is a very smelly side at the moment.  I am so blessed that the Best Husband Ever showed this grace and love to me.  Instead of pointing out that I smelled, or that my stomach was always distended, he didn't even mention it until much, much later, after I was out of the gassy woods, and even then he reassured me that it was okay.  He knew it wasn't my fault, and that he preferred it to my being on death's door, completely imprisoned by anorexia. 

Please extend the same love to friends or family who are struggling to climb out of the pit of disordered eating!  Although it may seem like a small courtesy -- or maybe it seems like a huge favor -- do it anyway.  Your loved one will be profoundly grateful.

Is there a side effect that you or a loved one has experienced during recovery that no one ever said to expect?  How did you or your loved one deal with it?

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I broke the blog's feed!  You may have to resubscribe.  Please do! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I Broke It

I broke my feed.  *Sniffle.*  Some fiddling I did over the weekend to take my Delicious bookmarks out of the feed apparently changed the entire darn thing.  So you'll have to resubscribe (here), I'm afraid.  Please do.  I'll send you candy.

Okay, I won't send you candy.  But we can pretend . . . right?

Resubscribe, preciouses!  It'll make my day.  No, really, it will.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dealing With Disappointment: Four Tips to Get You Through

Day 3 / Lost

So I haven't blogged in a couple of days.  I attribute the lack of blogification to a combination of apathy, expectancy, and not knowing what to say.  But I'm back, and I'm sad.  My waiting is over, and the results are in.

Let me explain.  Last week I interviewed for a teaching/family outreach job.  This job is in fact the exact same job that I left early this year (a decision that I now believe was the wrong one), only at a different school.  With this interview came the feeling that I had an opportunity to undo this past bad decision, to restart.  Since I left my old job, I've felt adrift in life.  It's as if when I was working at the old school that I was immersed in a current of direction, of purpose, of being in on something big with God.  Now that I've left that flow, I'm lost at sea.  I saw this new job opportunity as my rescue ship.

So I gussied up and went to the interview.  And -- it went great.  Really great.  I don't think I've ever had a more positive experience during an interview.  The principal of the school and I really had a nice dialogue, and the whole experience felt much more like a conversation than a question and answer session.  I left pumped, sure that I'd gotten the job.  After all, who could be more qualified than me?

Yesterday evening the principal called.  She told me that she offered the job to somebody else.  Somebody else.  I felt crushed.  The principal was very positive, saying that it was an incredibly touch decision and that a school would be lucky to have me and to not give up and so forth.  I tried to take her words to heart as I believe that they are genuine -- but I can't help feeling devastated.  Since my interview I had been seeing myself back in the teaching sphere, back where I should have been.  Now I'm still in the same place, only with a little more angst.

However, things aren't all negative.  Despite how I might feel, my life isn't over.  In fact, I've got quite a few good things going on.  For example, I'm teaching more hooping, such as at a fabulous dance studio I just discovered.  I'm also going to be hanging out with teen girls at a local community center once a week, hoops in hand, and that could be pretty darn awesome.  I have big dreams about combining hooping with eating disorder recovery.  Now I have space to see those dreams realized.

We've all been put through the disappointment wringer at one time or another, and we all have different ways of dealing.  Here are my tips on how to walk through disappointment:
  • Let it all out.  When I got off the phone with the principal last night, I cried.  At first I tried to hold back the tears, but then I realized that smothering my sadness wouldn't help anybody.  So I wept.  Feel what you're feeling, and know that it's okay to experience emotions.  Normal, even.  Gasp!  
  • Be realistic about the situation.  As I said above, I left the interview positive that I had snagged the job.  But a small part of me, the part that wasn't quite so sure, thought that if I didn't get the job my life would be over.  This is not true.  Obviously, because I'm alive and blogging from the other side of my disappointment.  When you experience disappointment, put things in perspective.  Yes, you are sad, but things aren't as dire as you might feel in the moment.  There will be other opportunities, other ways your hope can be realized.
  • Take stock.  Just because I didn't get this amazing job doesn't meant that I don't have other really great things going on in my life.  The same is true for everybody.  Take a look inside yourself, at the life that's happening in and around you, and appreciate the really awesome stuff that's taking place.  Make a list if it helps and post it somewhere you'll see it often.  
  • Hope, and keep on hoping.  Emily Dickinson wrote, "Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all."  Don't stop hoping.  Don't stop living.  You have a life that's waiting for you.  Plan, dream, create, scheme, hope, and keep hoping, no matter what.  In my opinion, hope is the fuel that powers our inner lives.  
I wish I had gotten that job.  Words can't express how much I wanted it.  But the fact is that I didn't get the job, and now I have to get on with things.  The eating disorder side of my brain wanted to hunker down for a "therapeutic" binge (as if there is such a thing) last night, but I didn't.  The depressed side of my brain wants to hide under the covers for the next month, but I'm not going to.  I believe that God's in charge here, and that my employment status has nothing to do with my worth.  And, if I really stop to think about it, that's a ridiculously huge blessing.

When was the last time you were disappointed in a big way?  How do you deal with disappointment and loss?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Link Appreciation Day

I have been reading a lot of interesting material on the web these days.  And as I've just taken my Delicious links out of this blog's feed, I thought I'd dedicate a post to what's digitally rocking my world.  Enjoy!

  • Philo Hagen, founder of, recently made his first hooping video in a long, long time, called Gotta Hoop.  It's a good one -- so good, in fact, that it inspired the New York Times to write a feature on Mr. Hagen.  Go Philo!
  • This past week Bhakti Omwoods (who is also a To the Fullest reader) took her hoop out to play and made a mesmerizing video of her practice.  What makes this even cooler is that Bhakti's mp3 player's batteries died part way through, allowing her to have a profound experience hooping to silence.  Check out her blog post here!
  • So many of the posts from The Urban Muse are bookmark-worthy.  However, the guest post called Disappointment: The Key to Creative Freedom truly stands out.  Plus, the title is super catchy.  Go, read, and start cultivating your creativity freedom.
  • Ernest Hemingway was one of the few "great" authors that I appreciated when I first ran across his work in my high school literature classes.  An Art Full Life's post on quotes concerning writing from his memoir A Moveable Feast only kindles my enjoyment of Hemingway's words.
Mental Health
  • I just recently discovered To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) via Twitter.  This non-profit is dedicated to helping people grappling depression, suicide, addiction, and self-mutilation.  There's not much more I can say to describe how awesome I think this organization is, so you'll just have to get check TWLOHA out for yourself.
Giving Back
  • This weekend I watched the film Somewhere Near Tapachula, which highlights the amazing work of a missionary couple with the street children of Tapachula, Mexico.  I didn't think I'd like the movie, but I was very wrong.  I'll leave you with the teaser trailer of their story:

Has anything on the internet particularly struck you lately?  Share it, pretty please!  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Faking It

I am not a confident person.  Or, perhaps more accurately, I tend not to feel very confident the majority of the time.  This is something I'd like to change.  At the same time, however, maybe "feeling" a certain way isn't really the point.  After all, one doesn't have to feel romantic to be in love, or feel heard to be heard, or to feel creative and inspired to make art.  You can be in love, be heard, and be creative without "feeling" those things all the time.  Does that make sense?

When I was at Hoopcamp earlier this year, a recommendation more than of the workshop leaders shared was to "fake it 'til you make it."  They meant that if you're hooping it up, for a performance or just for fun, and you're quaking with insecurity and self-consciousness, pretend instead that you believe you're an amazing dancer and go for it.  Just because you feel awkward or clumsy or uninspired does not make that true for whoever might be watching.  And maybe acting as if you're awesome will help make that true.

This week I wanted to take my hoops out to play downtown.  Hoopcamp aside, I've never hooped in so populated and public a place.  I was nervous, but I also really wanted to do it.  So I did. 

As I was trucking across a busy bridge en route from my car to the pavilion that was my hoop-tastic destination, I quailed against the wind and the gazes from passing cars and pedestrians.  My shoulders slumped as insecurity flooded my being -- What do they think of me?  Do I look weird carrying hoops?  Do I look fat?  Do I look ugly?  What do they think what do they think what do they think --

Halfway across the bridge, the Hoopcamp advice came back to me -- fake it 'til you make it.  So I tried.  I straightened my spine and thrust my shoulders back.  I told myself that I was a kickin' hoop dancer and that people were looking at me in wonder, wanting to know what I was doing, wanting to join me.  I told myself that I rocked, and I began to believe it. 

Is this what people mean when they say they manifest things in their lives?  That they pretend what they desire is true until it is?  There's something powerful in this faking it.  As I hooped and danced under the downtown pavilion, I wondered if I wasn't just encouraging myself as I faked confidence,  Maybe I was tapping into what God truly wants us to be -- and knows that we are under all of the crud and mess that the world heaps upon us. 

What do you think about "faking it 'til you make it"?  Is it a life-changing mantra or a form of self-delusion?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

List of Love

I tread on the dark side too often, I think. I'm not talking about becoming Darth Vader's apprentice, but about negativity.  It's very, very easy for me to see what is lacking and what needs improvement, especially when it comes to myself.  I forget to, as trite as it may sound, count my blessings, which are many.

This morning's perusal of the Hoop City forums led me to a discussion of love lists, as inspired by those on Kristen Carr's website, Crazy Sexy Life.  Carr's love list is a list of ten things that she is loving right now.  These items may be grandiose or minute, but regardless of profundity, Carr is mindfully declaring her gratitude for whatever she is loving in the moment, and there is power in that.

So I decided to make my own love list.  Here are ten things for which I am really grateful, right now:

  1. God | Even when I'm busy screwing up majorly, I never feel like God's upset with me or angry or whatever. Quite the opposite, in fact. It feels like the more messy I am, the more amazing His presence in my life is.
  2. My husband | He puts up with a lot, and does it graciously. He is a good, good man.
  3. Our dogs! | We have 3 pups, and they bring me so much joy.
  4. Hoop-related joy | I love when my practice turns into a prayer or meditation or a joy-filled dance, less about technique and more about living.
  5.  Coffee | It's good stuff.  I enjoy it.  Probably too much.
  6. Reading | There is such joy for me in this. Words are powerful! I feel blessed that I can read, and that I love to do so.
  7. Blue skies | Although a gray sky is beautiful in its own way, I cannot describe the joy and freedom I feel when the clouds roll away to reveal the sun. Especially if that sun is sparkling on fresh snow.
  8. Other people | It took me a long time to realize how valuable relationships of all kind are to me. I'm glad I'm appreciating the people in my life more and more. They give me so much.
  9. Being kind to my body | With my history of disordered eating, I've almost always abused my body in some way. I'm slowly learning how to be kind to my physical self, and while it's really challenging, it's also makes me feel good in so many ways.
  10. Light | I respond so positively to light, especially sunlight. It's so simple, but it makes me so happy! 

    I love these guys.
    What's on your love list today?

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    A Conversation With God

    Me: I believe that You can free me from disordered eating, but I don't believe that I can let you.

    God: I am ready to lead you to the promises of OA -- the promises of freedom.*

    Me: Hmm . . . that's nice.  But I still think I get in Your way and don't know how to get out of it.  It's impossible.

    God: The way you continually talk about your inabilities is an insult to Me.  To complain over your incompetence is to accuse Me of having overlooked you.  I haven't.**

    Me:  Oh.  *Grins sheepishly.*

    I love synchronicity, how God always has just what I need to hear ready and waiting at exactly the right time I need to hear it.  Do you ever experience that?  Do tell!

    * From the November 30 reading in For Today.
    ** From the November 30 reading in My Utmost for His Highest.

    * * *

    I am participating in Reverb 10, inspired by Hoopcamp guest poster Steph (who, I might add, crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line a day early!).  Reverb 10 asks participants to reflect on the past year and begin to think deep and mindful thoughts about the imminent new year, providing daily prompts to fuel these ruminations.  I feel like I have a lot to process from 2010, so I'm in.  Find my Reverb 10 reflections on the Tumblr blog I created just for the project, Mrs. Cellophane.  There is also a link at the top right corner of every page on To the Fullest.