Thursday, December 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: How To Eat

How To Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh was a fun little book. It's a pocket book, so it is small in size but vast in truth. It is filled with small passages pertaining to food, eating, drinking, and cooking. The main teaching of this book is mindful eating, experiencing your food with all of your senses and seeing all of the Universe in every meal that you consume. The orange is nourished by the sun, the soil and the rain, and thus contains those aspects of the Universe and, in turn, we are nourished by it. 

Thay explains how the monks eat together in silence and refrain from chewing and swallowing their problems along with their food. He suggests similing as you eat with friends and experiencing them in the moment as well. In these meditations he talks about everything from the proper way to do the dishes to the Five Contemplations we should always consider when eating. 

How To Eat was a quick yet enlightening read, and because of that I will probably enjoy this book again sometime. I am sure I would get something out of a second helping of these simple yet profound teachings.

BOOK REVIEW: The Tao of Eating

The Tao of Eating is a wonderful book! It is up there with Eating in the Light of the Moon for me, and it was actually a recommendation from Johnston, so it makes sense. 

The Tao is known as "the way". This book focuses on the Tao of eating versus the way of dieting. The author explains how to "undiet" and eat according to your desires, for your mind, body, and also your soul. She advocates having a soulful relationship with food, deeming no food off limits, no time of day taboo for eating--NO RULES regarding food, and no eating with the goal of losing weight at all!

Some of the suggestions seem rather radical, but only if you still believe what you have been taught by the way of dieting. When I started applying these practices to my life I felt a little out of control and uncomfortable not restricting ANYTHING from my body. Especially because I am recovering from disordered eating patterns, this book was helpful in supporting me in eliminating all eating restrictions. The theory is your body will find its balance once again as you are applying no negative beliefs or thoughts to food. This was a slightly scary yet liberating experience,

Aligned with the teachings found in the Tao te Ching, the main text of Taoism, The Tao of Eating explains how to live a diet free lifestyle and truly find your soul using the cues your eating patterns have to offer you if you choose to listen. It is suggested that we listen to our body's cravings in order to bring awareness to its needs.


Monday, November 3, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Only Diet There Is

The Only Diet There Is by Sondra Ray is quite a different book. This is basically another LOA read about weight and body image. The author explains that our way of thinking about ourselves is of the utmost importance when it comes to reaching and maintaining our ideal weight. She discusses psychological reasons for your extra weight and explores your belief system about your body and food. This isn't a diet in the normal sense, but a diet from negative thinking. According to Ray, it is this negative thinking that is sabotaging our attempts at weight loss.

This book is a little crunchy, but very therapeutic if you read it with an open mind and allow it to sink in. It is heavy on God and uber heavy on affirmations. The author explains that it is our thoughts about the food we consume that make it "good" or "bad". I actually wrote out ALL of the affirmations in this book. Some of them are pretty ridiculous seeming, but others really hit on some key reasons why people have weight issues and clicked with me. I see the affirmations as a tool to re-frame your subconscious mind and in affect change your belief systems about your body, food, and eating. 

In changing our mind, I can see where the affirmations could be helpful, as affirmations in general are great tools for change, but I can also see where many people could hate this book with a passion and believe it is utter bull shit because of their absurdity. It really is about what you believe. Self-change is a lofty endeavor for anyone, but you might have better results by starting from the inside. Your weight is a physical symptom of something else that is going on and it is true that in any weight loss attempt the best thing to change is your mind. As within, so without! 

BOOK REVIEW: Why Quantum Physicists Don't Get Fat

This was a different read. It was an interesting take on diet and unwanted weight from a quantum physics perspective. I found it interesting, while being also a little absurd. All in all, though, still an interesting and informative read. It describes how our belief systems are what essentially manifest things into existence, through our thoughts and emotions. How we feel about what we eat or do not eat or how we move our bodies, according to Kuhn, is what will determine the outcome.

The author first explains the difference between classical physics and quantum physics. He describes the first scientific revolution as the action-based paradigm and says the rules for most diets you were taught come from this paradigm. He suggests you shift your paradigms and embrace the laws of quantum physics, which are the energy-based paradigm and the holistic paradigm. Our bodies aren't machines, but rather a group of complex systems that are greater than the sum of their parts.

A lot of this is Law of Attraction stuff, which if you think about it, is quantum physics, but most of this book deals with your thoughts and feelings. The author talks about the "stories" that we tell ourselves about things. Nothing in and of itself is ever "bad", per se, it is the story that we tell ourselves about the event that determines how we perceive it. Basically, in an energy-based paradigm, what we give off is what we take in, so if we feel fat we will, essentially, become fat. If we think and tell ourselves food is going to make us gain weight, then it most likely will. 

One of the most interesting things in this book was when the author cited the work of Dr. Candice Pert, who discovered evidence in the 1990's that our bodies are really a unified whole. She found that are thoughts really are physical things in that they each have a unique neuropeptide associated with them and each time we have a thought or emotion, our brains produce these neuropeptides and our blood stream is flooded with them. These neuropeptides are then assimilated by your body's cells, inserting themselves into special receptors on the cell's membrane, essentially being absorbed into the cells of your body. Overtime, your cells begin to crave the neuropeptides that they are most often exposed to. So your cells actually start telling your brain to produce these thoughts or emotions, and we essentially become addicted to certain ways of thinking or emotional states. This explains why changing your way of thinking can be one of the most difficult endeavors there is. 

The author's solution is basically to change your way of thinking and feeling by changing the stories that you tell yourself. As in LOA systems, he suggests feeling the state of success before it has arrived and by the laws of physics, through the quantum field, you will draw it to you. He highlights the importance of gratitude and meditation. It is thought provoking, having these concepts applied to eating and exercise, but it does make sense, I'll give him that. It isn't magic, but if you change the way you perceive things, you could potentially have better results from more assistance from the quantum field. It's really one of those easier said than done deals. Change your mind, change your life. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: E-Squared

E-Squared by Pam Grout is an interesting little read. Whether you believe in this shit or not, well, basically matters because what you believe determines the results. If you think manifestation is complete bullshit, you will not want to read this book. The open minded will probably enjoy it. Simply put, this is a book of nine different experiments to prove the malleability of reality.

I enjoyed this book. No, all of the experiments didn't work, but some of them did. I believe our thoughts do shape reality but the author gives each experiment only a 48 hour time frame to manifest because she says time is irrelevant. This may be true, but if someone doesn't have the ability to control their mind and thoughts with the laser like precision of Jesus Christ, wouldn't it take a little longer to accomplish? Perhaps. That could be part of the problem. Why the time frame? 

If you disregard the experiments in this book it would still be an informative read. Grout sites everything from Newton's classic laws of physics to the works of Dr. Masaru Emoto who discovered that our thoughts, words, and emotions affect the shape of the ice crystals that form in water when frozen (amazing stuff all on its own). She provides a good deal of anecdotal evidence and delivers her information with a good amount of humor. Each experiment is given a fun name, such as "Experiment #1, The Dude Abides Principle". 

I really dug this book and would like to give it another read through sometime when I am not reading anything else simultaneously. I think perhaps had I given some experiments more mental attention I may have had different results. I also saw Pam Grout has an E3 book out, which I would like to read also. The rules of quantum physics state that we are all energy, pieces of the same quantum "field of potentiality" as Grout calls it and this book simply provides a way to prove it. The trick is in training your mind to believe it. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Finding Body Peace

Body Prayers: Finding Body Peace by Rebecca Radcliffe is a short little book about body image and self-worth. It deals with denying the societal pressure to base your self-esteem on your personal appearance while also accepting and loving your body. It's written in an interesting format and is a little cheesy but was still an inspiring read.

When I first started the book, I didn't like it much. The majority of the book is a series of journal-like entries on each page and they start off as pretty negative. My first thought was geez, this is making me feel terrible and these thoughts are so pathetic and sad but then I realized I could easily be reading some of my own journal pages. I have to say that after I reached this conclusion, reading through the book actually made me feel less alone in my feelings.

Each journal-like entry is paired with a snippet of statistical information on the top of the page about societal weight issues, media, and body image. In a way, the writings are responding to these. They all start off pretty negative, but as I kept reading I enjoyed it more as the author started to unabashedly deny the societal view and spoke more encouragingly about her body. Again, I found this was inspiring as it is pretty much where I find myself now. 

The last part of the book is a collection of women's prayers, poems, and affirmations. Again, a little cheesy, but there were some good morsels in there. All in all, I would say this book was an inspiring read and I'm sure I got something out of it even if it wasn't life changing. It's incredibly short, at only 136 pages, so I'd say read it. I will probably read some of the passages from this book again sometime. I would probably give this book 3 stars, but it is worth a read if you struggle with body image. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Game of Life and How to Play It

The Game of Life and How to Play It by Florence Scovel Shinn is considered a "prosperity classic". This is a short read I added into the line of books I am currently reading just to get a break from the therapeutic mental work. I was intrigued because this book was originally published in 1925, so I wanted to see how it compared to other "prosperity" writings I have read. This book was obviously a source for many modern writers, but also offered some new insights to me and information on spiritual law.

If you have read Rhonda Byrne's The Secret and enjoyed it, you would probably enjoy this book. If you think The Secret is a bunch of garbage you actually might still enjoy this book. To me, The Secret was a commercialized rip off of ancient teachings, squeezed into a cheesy package for average Americans. It talks solely of the Law of Attraction and how to "manifest" things into your life. It came off as fairly superficial and tacky. I still liked its message of "you get what you put out", although most of its stories or examples were of people wanting a Lamborghini or other material trappings, which didn't seem very spiritual to me at all, or maybe that was simply because of who the target audience was? Who knows. Regardless, this book, in contrast, is even more simplistic while at the same time being much more informative and dare I say "real" to me.

Florence Scoval Shinn not only talks about the Law of Attraction like Byrne, but other "spiritual laws" such as the laws of Prosperity, Nonresistance, Karma and Forgiveness. She explains about the Power of the Word, stating the importance of our spoken words in bringing us what we declare. She explains the game of life as a "game of boomerangs", declaring "man's thoughts, deeds, or words, return to him sooner or later, with astounding accuracy." She says giving opens up the way to receiving and people must trust their intuition or their inner guidance. To me, all of these things are truth.

She speaks of Love as God in manifestation, the "strongest magnetic force in the universe". She quotes the Bible quite often, explaining from an energetic stand point what Jesus actually meant by many of his teachings. I kind of enjoyed this. I enjoyed her usage of terms like Infinite Spirit for the Divine, as well as her talk of divine design, "Divine right" and Divine selections. Although much of what was in this book was repetition for me, it all gave a different yet similar spin to things I have already read, believed, and felt. I also gained a new understanding of the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of "the knowledge of good and evil" because of this book, seeing it now as symbolic of the birth of Ego and the shift away from unity consciousness into dualistic thinking. The way I took it, our "banishment" was more of a birth into third dimensional consciousness, shifting away from the unity of the fourth dimensional "God" space. I don't know why I never saw it like this before from other readings, etc. but this made so much sense to me that I had a mini "Aha" moment. (PSA: The Bible utilizes symbolism and is not literal.)

While the book was God heavy, I didn't mind this, but some might. I personally think there is a morsel of wisdom in everything if we can keep from being offended long enough to consume it. The author basically explains how the Universe, being Infinite Spirit (or just an energetic field of potentiality depending on how you look at it...i.e. The Force), responds to our words and thoughts with amazing accuracy. Thoughts ARE things (read Thoughts Are Things by Prentice Mulford, written in 1889, it's another old as shit book about manifestation and the power of thought.) This infinite field can be manipulated if we are aware of our "boomerangs" and the actual language we are using to "communicate" our desires. As within, so without. As above, so below. To every action (thought, word, deed) there is an equal and opposite reaction (manifestation). This isn't just spiritual law, it's physics.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Discipline & Listening: “The Ben Taylor Experience”


In December of 2013 I attended a house concert, my very first, at the Oak Mountain Hideaway House, which is actually just over the river and through the woods from my home.  This was a delightful and highly meaningful experience for me, one that I will (God willing) always remember that has taught me a valid life lesson, in all actuality, maybe a few of them.  The atmosphere was chill, the hosts were warm and accepting, the house was lovely, and the talent was AMAZING!  My first house concert experience was with Mr. Ben Taylor, son of musical legends James Taylor and Carly Simon.  YES!! Conceived of the sperm of JAMES TAYLOR and birthed out of the vagina of CARLY SIMON!!  I watched him perform in a living room, in front of a grand fireplace complete with Christmas d├ęcor.  I also was fortunate enough to meet him afterward and perform a song for the man on the guitar that he played that night, which blew me away and almost brought on a panic attack all at the same time.  It was like meeting the son of gods; it was like having a conversation with Hercules??!  Okay, I am well aware that he is just a man, but aside from his amazing music, he’s my type of people.  As it were, it was a night of music, listening and lessons. 

Upon arriving at that house concert I had never heard any of Ben Taylor’s songs, so I had a completely open mind and blank canvas to accept the strokes of his brushing artistry, or finger picking, beep booping sound box wizardry, what have you.  His music is an interesting mix of impressive finger picking with a touch of pop and some beat box mashing sprinkled on it.  He performed mixes, including his mash up song "Fire and Vain" created using two of his parents' most popular songs.  He did a cover of his father’s, but more importantly he thoroughly introduced you to his style of music in a very intimate way.  Declaring himself an honorary member of the “S.S.S.” club, meaning the sensitive singer/songwriters, he told stories and explained himself in a very personal and down to earth way.  His music is inviting and thought provoking.  This man’s a thinker, that is obvious right away.  His newest album “Listening” had recently been released and we heard tracks from it.  I sat on the stairs in this magnificent living room, with a perfect view of him at work.  It was like being on the set of Storytellers.  After his sets I was left with the feeling that I actually got to know the man, although this was nothing compared to my experience later on in the evening. 

After enjoying snacks and wine while mingling around the place, we ended up approaching Ben once he had settled onto a bright red futon in the basement after giving autographs upstairs for awhile.  At the time, Ben was in the midst of a conversation with a woman I will refer to as E.  E and Ben were talking about a dream that she had at some point in her life about a light house and being somewhere lost in time, one in which she felt held significance and a connection to Ben for some reason. Ben now wore a huge, mesmerizing ring on his right hand that he fiddled with. His report with the woman was open and frank, reflective and not dismissive at all. She was explaining that she sensed a connection between the two of them, something to do with the lighthouse dream. I was sitting right beside him on the futon now, following their conversation, just listening and waiting to continue speaking to him. We had introduced ourselves already but E trailed on and I don’t like to interrupt a good conversation, hell, even a bad one. He described life as a series of “harmonic blips”. So many songs [lives], he said, were similar with the same harmonic blips. And sometimes it recognizes a harmonic blip in another song [life]. Can a blip of oneness create or clone itself or something like that, he mused. Can it?  He said to E to recognize it for what it was---a harmonic blip in time in these bubbles of oneness that we are. Profound. Even more profound hearing the actual conversation, I'm afraid my memory isn’t the best of story tellers. At the end of their conversation I remember him saying “What do you want me to do about it? Should I write a song about it?”  He also referenced an episode of South Park.  “That reminds me of that one episode of South Park...write a poem, mmkay??  Make you feel better, mmkay?? Harmonic blips, bubbles of Oneness and South Park.  Oh, yeah.  My kind of people. When speaking of life and the soul, and how we all hailed from Oneness he said "I don't know what seduced me out of Oneness and into form...[but] I’m not afraid to die because I know that I will go back to that Oneness. My only fear is that I won’t be able to feel or create or write or express [in that state]...” Sitting around musing how linear time is just a created illusion and discussing life after death...my kind of people.
  
At some point while we were all sitting around him my father mentioned that I play the guitar, which mildly embarrassed me but I’m grateful that he did it now.  When asked, I replied that I dabble.  I mean, seriously, this is James fucking Taylor’s son. I dabble, I dabble! I basically am a monkey playing with a coconut and a string compared to this man, his father and his mother. He jumped up eagerly and retrieved his guitar out of the case, the guitar he played that night that appeared to be ancient and well loved, worn in, abused, even.  Like it had grown into Ben somehow at that point, it was THAT well used.  Most of the time I honestly held that thing gawking at it in awe, clutching it to me like the bouquet awarded to the queen of the prom!  It was beautifully scratched and dinged, like an ancient musical artifact.  I remember sitting there wondering in the moment if James Taylor had ever possibly picked up this guitar of Ben’s while jamming at his parent’s house or something?  It was a little overwhelming to think about. The whole thing still remains somewhat surreal to me, while also being one of the realest moments of my life.  But there I was, sitting there holding this artifact guitar in front of Ben Taylor and a handful of strangers. I wasn’t prepared for this, I was trying not to fall into a panic attack right there. Luckily there was wine! I had my sister grab me another drink. Ben pretty much demanded that I play him a song. So I did. 

I ended up chicken shit, and all I could muster up was the most nervous rendition of a cover that I could do. Honestly, it was more a severe case of Swiss cheese brain. I couldn't even remember my own songs in that moment, at least not enough to make it through an entire song. So I went with an automatic cover, which turned out fine. Everyone sang along, including Ben, so that was fabulous, but it was rather embarrassing that I just couldn’t recall one of my original songs to play for him, especially when he specifically asked me to play something that I wrote after I played the song that I did. (KNOW THYSELF!!) "Discipline!" Ben Taylor said. This is when I realized I needed a much more intimate relationship with my own work...and also to grow a big dangly set of balls. It was pretty pathetic in a way, but in the end, I’m glad I didn’t play anymore, because the true theme of the evening was his last album’s title...”Listening.” There were many magical words of wisdom spoken that night, and to think I would have missed out on them had I broke into a song, had I been cocky about myself, or overly eager to impress the man.  Instead, I mostly listened.  At this point, I held his guitar like it was a newborn.  I fondled it and fiddled around on the strings, but didn’t start into song.  I was listening to everyone else. We had a good conversation going, why interrupt it with Ego? My Spirit was drawn to listen. 

It was while holding that guitar that Ben Taylor bestowed some of the best advice onto me. He critiqued my playing, which was awesome. He told me that my pocket was good and was apparently impressed because for being a man that seemed rather in touch with his feminine side (in the sense of spiritual balance) he explained that was ONE thing he was sexist about; he thinks that men are better with their strumming hands, better at holding the rhythm. But he wasn’t mentioning this in a derogatory way, he was complimenting me. He said my left hand was good also, but my right was notably better. So that was pretty sweet, having Ben Taylor basically tell me I have good rhythm, even for a girl. We then listened as another girl that was there cradled the guitar as she crooned out an a Capella song that she had wrote herself. We all tried to convince her to just learn to play. "A little DISCIPLINE!" Ben said this a couple of times that night. Indeed.

This experience has taught me about the value of listening, to others as well as to myself. It has given me the drive to listen to my own story, my own music. It helped me to see that I should take myself more seriously as a singer/songwriter, even if it is just for fun because it is expression. Simply because I am a bubble of oneness expressing itself with my own harmonic blips. I have so many songs because I am simply compelled to compose them. So then I write these things out as I am compelled and I won't revisit them enough to actually hear what I am even saying. I have since this experience started to have my songs recorded, the songs that I couldn't remember in that anxious moment with Ben. In recording my own music, I have been able to revisit each song and get to know it in an intimate way again. I get the chance to actually LISTEN to myself. I learned a wonderful lesson from Ben about the value of being an artist, the discipline it takes, and the art of listening. So, thank you, Ben Taylor, for the wonderful experience, thank you for your impromptu critique, and more importantly...thank you for listening.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Eating in the Light of the Moon



Eating in the Light of the Moon: how women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors, & storytelling by Anita Johnston, Ph.D.


Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationships with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, & Storytelling is a book written by Anita Johnston, Ph.D. about disordered eating in women. This book points out that 95% of people diagnosed with eating disorders are female, and therefore focuses on women and the divine feminine qualities that she believes become imbalanced with eating disorders. Johnston uses myths, metaphors and fairy tales to explain how the problem with food is really just an illusion; food is a metaphor for a hunger inside of us that is much deeper than physical hunger. In fact, we’re so used to tuning out our bodies’ true signs of hunger that we only know when we are famished or completely stuffed. She explains how it is essential that we learn again to pay attention to the subtle signs that our body is giving us. This book is full of symbolism and is a great journey of self-discovery. 

"Storytellers speak in the language of myth and metaphor," the author says. "They tell us a truth that is not literal, but symbolic. If we hear the stories with only the outer ear, they can seem absurd and untrue, but when listened to with the inner ear, they convey a truth that can be understood and absorbed on a deeply personal level. In this way, stories help us connect with our inner world, to the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth, and to the power of our intuitive wisdom." This book utilizes symbolism throughout to shed light onto the dark places of your psyche and explain that feelings are important and meant to be dealt with, not numbed out or covered over.

Johnston focuses on rediscovering the inner feminine, our intuition, and using that to shed light on our disordered eating. Through stories, the author tells of our struggles with food stemming from hidden feelings and an imbalance in our energies, our intuition has been ignored and our light has been extinguished. There is some reason that we turn to food for sustenance. Johnston explains a woman’s recovery as being a journey into a great labyrinth, where we have to wind around and around until we reach the very center of it, our core where all of our demons dwell, and then we have to face them and make the spiraling journey back out of the labyrinth into the world again. A woman must heal her relationships with her femininity, her sexuality, her body and her Self before she can conquer disordered eating.

I loved the use of metaphor in this book, it really speaks my language. What I got most out of this book was that food is a metaphor for other forms of sustenance, for a different kind of hunger, not only the physical. The most memorable part of this book for me was the metaphor about the animals that were starving and that couldn’t reach the fruit from the splendid tree because they couldn’t remember its name. They sent 3 different animals back to the lion to learn the name of the tree so they could eat of its fruit. Both the gazelle and the elephant could not make it back from the lion without tripping into a hole and forgetting the name. Finally, they sent the tortoise, whose great-great-great grandmother had told about the tree and how to remember. After getting the name from the lion, the tortoise repeated it to itself over and over again until it reached the other animals, “Ungalli. Ungalli. The name of the tree is Ungalli.” It repeated this over and over again until returning to the tree and announcing the name, and immediately the limbs of the tree extended to the ground and the animals were able to eat of the fruit. This story explains how you need to know the name of your hunger in order to recover and how you must keep it in front of you the entire time of your journey. Johnston says that it is only when your hunger is named that you can be truly fed. She explains the difference between nourishment and Nourishment with a capitol “N”. The woman who suffers from disordered eating must keep the name of her hunger in the forefront of her mind and repeat it to herself whenever she struggles with her own personal food symbolism.

This book focuses on how women who suffer from disordered eating have lost touch with their bodies and have become disconnected from their inner feminine; there is an imbalance between their masculine and feminine selves. It highlights the importance of the symbolism in our dreams and suggests using them for knowledge about our hidden fears and feelings. It also guides you, through insights and practical exercises, toward empowerment, explaining how to regain the power of your intuition and get in touch with your feelings, instead of stuffing them down or numbing them away. It focuses on feeding your “shadow sister” who wishes to be heard instead of starved or stuffed, by recognizing those parts of you that have been hidden or lost. Once you can see through the illusion that food is really the issue, you can dive deeper into your feelings and really begin to feel them again. Remember your hunger; always know what it is that you are truly hungry for, be it acceptance, love, respect, or creative expression. Keep it in front of you at all times and you will be able to give yourself the Nourishment that you TRULY desire. The name of the tree is Ungalli!!



SOURCES:

Eating in the Light of the Moon: how women can transform their relationships with food through myths, metaphors, & storytelling by Anita Johnston, Ph.D.
Johnston, Anita Ph.D.
Carlsbad, CA. Gurze Books. 1996

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Almost Anorexic: A Book Review and a Personal Revelation




Almost Anorexic is a book published by the Harvard Medical School’s The Almost Effect series, which discusses the grey area of medical conditions that aren’t necessarily a diagnosable condition but are still definitely not in the “healthy” range. Eating disorders and other medical conditions exist on a spectrum. This book is about falling on the spectrum between healthy and full blown eating disorder, in the grey area with subthreshold conditions that don’t get the attention diagnosable conditions receive. It was a collaboration written by Dr. Jennifer J. Thomas, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, and Jenni Schaefer, author of the book “Life Without Ed”, who has recovered from anorexia nervosa, and is chair of the Ambassadors Council of the National Eating Disorders Association. I discovered Almost Anorexic while searching for books that would actually address my personal experiences with disordered eating. This book was the key to helping me to unlock and unearth what was probably my dirtiest not-so-secret secret. I call it this because it is not something that I am proud of and I have a great deal of shame and guilt surrounding the subject and while a few people know, I have never blatantly verbalized or acknowledged it publicly, so perhaps this is a revelation of sorts as well as a review on this helpful book.

People look to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) to know if they have a true problem, but while helpful, it also can be one of the biggest impediments to their actual healing if they can’t find themselves in the book. How do you properly treat your illness if you don’t feel you have a legit problem or it isn’t even recognized as one by professionals, family, or friends? This is one of the things that Almost Anorexic addresses. A lot of the reason people think that they don’t have a problem is because of the diagnostic criteria. Sadly, this can keep them from getting the help they really do need. If someone doesn't meet all the criteria for a disorder, they are typically diagnosed as EDNOS (Eating disorders not otherwise specified) or OSFED (Other specified feeding and eating disorders), which aren't even considered officially recognized eating disorders. I would have been in this group dubbed by some clinicians as “diagnostic orphans”. The point is all subclinical eating disorders are worthy of help.

I never became underweight which is required for an anorexia nervosa diagnosis but, like many other diagnostic orphans, I exhibited all of the same behaviors as someone diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Had I taken the EAT-26 (Eating Attitudes) test back then, I'm sure it would have indicated I had a real problem. I also lost 35% of my body weight which actually WOULD get an anorexia nervosa diagnosis according to earlier versions of the DSM, which called for a weight loss of at least 25%. The DSM has changed since then a couple of times and is now on its 5th edition. In the newest edition I would be diagnosed as OSFED, atypical anorexia nervosa. Even though I gained all of the weight that I lost back after I stopped restricting on top of my intense exercise regime, I still carried many of these behaviors with me into my 30’s; I still struggle with the Binge/Purge pattern even in other areas of my life. Ed is still in my head and still has a big say in my daily life, whether I am fully aware of it or not. Awareness is half the battle. Eating disorders are behavioral disorders, and let’s face it...behaviors don’t just magically go away because you refuse to acknowledge them or time passes. There is still a residue. And while I am not currently dealing with full blown disordered eating anymore, I am still dealing with a lot of behavioral residue from the days when I was. I believe you need to acknowledge and change behaviors or you will unconsciously relive them repeatedly. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.

There is a drastic difference between healthy weight loss and an eating disorder. What I did in high school was not healthy and I know now that I most likely lost my gall bladder at the age of 16 because of how fast I lost the majority of the weight. I also know now that intense restriction is not a sustainable way to achieve weight loss...period. Restriction wasn't my only problem, though, as I also developed an obsessive relationship with exercise. Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body, but not when you force your body to do it as a punishment when you haven't fed it anything for a week. I starved and abused my body, I desecrated my temple. My body didn't trust me anymore after this ordeal, and I am still working on regaining it's trust 20 years after the fact.

I was amazed by how much I found myself in this book, maybe not so much my current Self, but pieces of my Self, and especially that younger aspect of my Self. She was there in all of those pages. The book uses many case studies and personal anecdotes that I definitely found relatable. Almost Anorexic deals with the subclinical end of the eating disorder, while using stories from Jenni’s personal recovery to explain the obsessive relationship people can develop with food and exercise. It not only covers food related problems like binge eating and restricting, but also discusses compensatory behaviors and the highly important subject of body image. Dr. Thomas and Jenni discuss the physiological and psychological changes that occur in “almost eating disorder” syndromes. The second half of the book gives solutions and suggestions for recovery, and also includes helpful activities for you to do on your own, including identifying your social support network, and creating a personalized relapse prevention plan. An interesting exercise from Chapter 6 has you write two letters to your eating disorder, one as if it were a friend, and one as if it were a foe.

In my therapy, I have recently started to dive into this aspect of my story. I thought it would be helpful to "tell someone" as this book instructs. This secret casts a dark shadow on me and I am now working on bringing everything into the light. “For good and for real.” This book is a wonderful read for anyone who has had, has, thought they had, or may have an eating disorder. It is filled with an extensive amount of resources for help. I encourage anyone that thinks that they may have a problem with food and body image to read this book. I also encourage anyone who thinks that their loved one may have a problem with food to think about reading this book. I spent the majority of my life in a state of limbo, somewhere stranded in the middle of the spectrum. Almost recovered isn’t the same as fully recovered and while I’m almost there, I’m not going to settle for almost recovered anymore.

For Good and For Real,
Missie Sue


SOURCES:

Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem?
Thomas, Jennifer J. and Jenni Schaefer
Center City, Minnesota:  Harvard University/Hazeldon, 2013. Print.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why I Don't Like You Anymore (on Facebook)



Why do you not “like” something on Facebook? Is it for some passive aggressive motive, snubbing only certain people on your friends list while liking everything else? These people are out there. (You are aware that people can SEE the things you like on Facebook, right?) Is it because you simply don’t like it? Of course, a very likely reason! Is it because you are thinking about what it’s contributing to the algorithm? Doubtful. Wait...what? I’ve seen all of these things, but passive aggression is not MY reason. While I think that it’s very unlikely, it is possible that people may have wondered about my lack of likes for the past couple of months on Facebook, but I assure you that I am an equal opportunity non-liker. I’m not liking other things while not liking yours. I didn’t stop liking people’s stuff because I have something against them or because I don’t like their pictures or stories. I didn’t stop liking only certain people’s posts or pictures to be intentionally snubbing or socially cruel. I don’t “like” anything on Facebook anymore, period.

Some of you might have read either of the two articles back in August from the people who both liked everything on Facebook for two days and DIDN’T like anything on Facebook for two weeks. I was intrigued after reading these two articles. I was intrigued about our ability to manipulate the algorithm Facebook uses to determine our news feed, if we pay attention to what we are feeding the bots. I wanted to free up my news feed; I wanted to see what would happen. So I experimented on my own and stopped liking anything on Facebook...well, mostly. I probably liked two things since I stopped, only because they were posts that needed the support, which is different than an ego boost, AND I do still like comments under posts. This does not seem to affect the algorithm as drastically, although I’m sure that it still does in its own way. EVERYTHING is affecting it. Big Brother Book is always watching. Isn’t that a little scary? I wasn't sure anything would even happen if I stopped using the like, so I used my main account for this and not my Musing Through account and the results of my personal experiment were actually impressive. 

What I found at first was how hard that it was NOT like to like things. But I like it?!?! Nope. Don’t click it. How do you let people know that you like it? You don’t. OR...you actually interact with them and post a comment on their status or picture. GASP! Yes, I started commenting on things that I liked, or sharing things that I liked instead of just simply clicking like. This led to me commenting things such as “Word!” “Right on!” “Yes!!”, “Love it!”, “<3” or at times even just “LIKE!” As a blogger, I can see where actual written responses are more important feedback than a mere ego stroke with the like button. I would appreciate feedback in word form by one person more than I would a bunch of people liking something without saying a word. So not liking led to more interaction, which is a good thing, right? Elan Morgan, the writer who stopped liking things on Facebook, said it best: “The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room.” This is very true. So without that silent nod we are forced to either ignore something we like or actually chime in with a word or two about it. We are forced to go from nodding at each other at the party to having an actual conversation.

As the man who “liked” everything for 48 hours painfully discovered, over liking decreased the amount of actual human beings in his news feed and made it a big cesspool of advertising and propaganda.  I found the opposite to be true; once I stopped liking things that I even did like I was noticing a lot more posts by people and pages that I honestly didn’t even realize that I was friends with or followed? This can be even more confusing when these people have since changed their names?? Who is THIS?! I haven’t seen anything from this person in over a year. Do you assume that people just aren’t posting status updates? WRONG! These people are alive!! They are alive and well, hidden in the recesses of your news feed cesspool. FYI, even if you actively LIKE something on Facebook, it will still only show you a small percentage of the posts coming from that page if you aren’t actively interacting with it on a constant basis. If you run a page you know how frustrating it can be when you post something and see it has only been “served” to 3 people out of all of the people that “like” your page. The algorithm really is a bunch of shit! So imagine what you are missing when you don’t even like or interact with it for months because it’s hidden in a lower tier beneath all of the things that you “like”. Actually, I probably have more pages that I follow on Facebook than actual people. My news feed consists mostly of articles and the like but now it's a more even mix. I enjoy this; it feeds me more. (See what I did there?)

Facebook is always changing things, anyway, and they reserve their right to run their site in the most asinine way possible. NPR shared how the social media giant had been manipulating our news feeds in order to conduct psychological experiments on“positive” and “negative” moods, tracking any changes in wording by its users in their statuses, etc. Am I the only one who thinks this is severely whacked?? BUT like everyone else, I checked that box in the agreement, allowing the Big Brother Book to basically do whatever they want, right? What it comes down to really is that Facebook is what it is, and it is also what you make of it. For me, personally, Facebook is the Walmart of social media sites. I also like to refer to it as the “high school hallway” and have big dreams about further explaining my metaphor one day with a blog post. It is a good place to keep up with family and friends, indeed, but we all use it differently and get something different out of it, don’t we? It's a different monster for every one of us, an entirely personal experience! I like to maintain my stance of “I READ IT FOR THE ARTICLES!” Riiiiight. And you just go to Walmart for milk and bread too. Damn the man!

Good or bad? I don’t know. I will say that I have noticed a change in my news feed and that I LIKE this change. I am seeing people I haven’t seen in forever, but am still seeing most of the things from people in my inner circle because I comment on them or they comment on mine. I'm seeing a more even mix of articles and posts from pages that I follow. I’m not a Facebook stalker so I only on rare occasions go to people’s pages and check out their stuff, I rely mostly on what is coming through my news feed even though I am aware this is most likely only part of the story. I was pleased to see a lot of the pages I follow show up again in the news feed as well, because I was led to a lot of interesting articles and reading because of this. I would have missed all of this had I not decided to play with the algorithm. Still, it is really just a crap shoot as to what you are going to see at any given time. Who really knows? I just still find the algorithm a little unnerving; some robot is determining what we see every day on social media sites based on what we click on, calculating and tracking. Besides, they are using our likes for statistical information on products and services. They used to pay people to collect that information, now they just pay Facebook. It is a semi-necessary evil...just like Walmart, even though neither of them are entirely necessary but still rope us in with their convenience. "Everyone is doing it!" "Allllll are welcome! All are welcome!!"

So, does this mean that I will not be liking anything on Facebook ever again? Probably not, it's just an experiment. There is a chance I will start trying to manipulate my feed again and bring certain pages and people to the forefront by liking their content. So you might wonder why I even bother? Well, why not? For one, I like the change in my news feed but also, I like that I am forced to comment on something if I “like” it. It forces you to actually interact with people instead of walking down the great high school hallway of Facebook giving perpetual silent nods at each other. It forces you to say, “Hey there...I like that!” or “That’s cool!” or “How ARE you?” And isn’t that the point of social interactions, to really interact or to dare to connect? Isn’t that what “friends” are for?


SOURCES:

I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me by Mat Honan

“By liking everything, I turned Facebook into a place where there was nothing I liked.”

http://www.wired.com/2014/08/i-liked-everything-i-saw-on-facebook-for-two-days-heres-what-it-did-to-me/

                      

I Quit Liking Things On Facebook for Two Weeks. Here’s How It Changed My View of Humanity. By Elan Morgan (Shmutzie)

 “The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room.”



Why I Stopped Liking Things on Facebook By

http://dangerouscupcakedesigns.com/stopped-liking-things-facebook/

 

Facebook Manipulates Our Moods For Science And Commerce: A Roundup by Elise Hu

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Metaphorical Look at the Hoagie of Life

I bought fundraiser hoagies off of my sister-in-law for my nieces recently and they were delivered today. You know the kind, baggies of fillings, packets of dressing, all of that wonderful don't-have-to-cook-the-night-they-come goodness? So I made one up and cut it into pieces for my daughter and I to eat tonight for dinner. She took one bite of her piece and deemed it weird, but then proceeded to come at my sandwich demanding bite after bite. Now, she does this with many foods at many meals but the sandwich thing got me thinking, maybe because I love hoagies and was irritated that she refused hers and wanted to devour all of mine. Om nom nom! But as she was doing this, I couldn't help but think about how it was the same damn sandwich? Why do kids do this? But, then of course my mind took off with the thought metaphorically and applied it to all of humanity like I tend to do with the mundane.

What makes your kid assume or think the sandwich on your plate is any better than the identical one on their own plate? For that matter, what makes people think or assume that your sandwich is any better than the one they are eating? We are always so busy looking around at what everyone else is eating that we devalue what is on our own plate. What's funny is that we all construct our own hoagies. Maybe the bread or the meat is the same but each of us decides which of the baggies we open to use and which we leave, what condiments we add or don't add, how big or small we cut it, which way we eat it. But it's all constructed from the same base...it's really the same damn sandwich!

Life is like a good sandwich. It's a hoagie, it's a submarine. It is filled with a bountiful combination of ingredients of your own choosing, a delicate construction of layers. If you look at life as a sandwich then we are all just eating off of the same endless party sub. So don't try to take bites off of other people or think that others have a better piece than you have, because, after all, we are just eating off of the same sandwich anyway! And how you take it is really up to you. It's your choice; you make your own damn sandwich!

Life is full of variety and differences, but if you take off all of the toppings there are mostly similarities. We all have that common roll, if you will. Life is your own piece of the eternal party sub and if you pay attention to what is on your own plate and are truly grateful for what you have instead of what you don't, there's a good chance you'll find happiness there in its delicate layers, somewhere between the pickle and the cheese. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ari Hest and the Oak Mountain Hideaway

ARI HEST
@ Oak Mountain Hideway House Concert
August 23, 2014

I attended the Ari Hest concert at the Oak Mountain Hideaway House back on the 23rd of August of this year. This was my second house concert at the Oak Mountain Hideaway House and my first time hearing Ari Hest.  It ended up being yet another memorable experience! The Oak Mountain Hideaway house has such a warm and inviting atmosphere and this is a wonderful local venue to enjoy a good night of music. I had not heard anything by Ari Hest prior to the night of the concert but after his intimate performance and getting to meet him, I was officially a fan. His music is impressively moving and there is truly something to be said about being able to experience a recorded artist’s voice without going through a microphone or anything electronic whatsoever, simply projected through the air in its natural state. Ari Hest standing with his acoustic guitar in the middle of a gorgeous living room; you don’t get any more unplugged or acoustic than that!

Ari Hest’s performance was so incredibly intimate, like an episode of Storytellers or a private performance by an old friend. He openly discussed his musical influences and shared the stories behind the songs as he performed them. He played one that he wrote for his niece, Rebecca, speaking lovingly of her and her presence in his life. He urged the crowd to make requests if there were any and was obviously at home with the laid back environment. He donned a plaid button down and a pair of Keds, and with them he brought on some contagious foot tapping. Ari has an intense finger picking style that he says he owes to the musical influence of Lindsey Buckingham, one of his favorite guitarists. Lindsey would be proud, because he had an impressive playing style, and I loved how he incorporated knocks on the body of his guitar into songs.

Ari’s voice is deep and robust but also beautiful on the high end. It was the perfect blend of vibration and gave an amazing feel to his songs. He told the tale of his song inspired by Norah Jones and you could almost feel her come through during the performance. He spoke of another song, Until Next Time, which was about a chance meeting between two souls, which I think was my favorite. He is a quite excellent songwriter as well as performer. Some of my favorites were Until Next Time, Cranberry Lake, The Fire Plays, and Less. Cranberry Lake was incredibly fun because he sang it as a duet with Oak Mountain’s hostess, Annmarie. It was wonderful listening to his stories and watching him perform; he was so relaxed and chill. You seldom get to witness an artist in this kind of venue...in a living room...having an intimate, personal moment with a select handful of people. It really was like an episode of Storytellers. It must have been just as exciting for Ari.


Ari is excellent on the guitar and I was majorly impressed with his style, being a Lindsey Buckingham fan myself, but what was even more impressive was the fact that he also played the piano. He sat and tickled the ivories for us a good bit during his performance. I’m always excited to see a singer/songwriter that plays the piano as well as the guitar so I really enjoyed this about Ari Hest. He’s good at what he does. He shared the fact that he comes from a musical background, on both sides of his family and ironically his father did not want him to get into the music business but then he ultimately ended up doing it anyway.  It’s a good thing, too, because it’s obviously his calling. Another cool thing about Ari, though, is that at one point he WAS signed to a record label but is now an independent artist, which I find very commendable.

We met Ari after the show and had our picture taken with him. I asked him to sign a copy of his album The Fire Plays that I bought after the show. I also grabbed a copy of Sunset Over Hope Street and a copy of his newest album Shouts and Whispers. He was so eager and happy to oblige us. On a side note, he also is much taller than he seems while he is performing once he is beside you with his arm around you. He’s a very talented guy and totally worth checking out!  It was a wonderful experience getting to see him and enjoy his music, especially in a venue like the Oak Mountain Hideaway House. This was actually Ari’s second house concert at the Oak Mountain Hideaway and if he should ever choose to return again, I will certainly be in attendance! Good times!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reflecting the Stigma of Depression



Robin Williams’ recent passing has everyone sad, a bit confused and even some ranting up on their social soapboxes.  Facebook blew up last night with the news and everyone was chiming in on the subject, even those who probably should not have been.  I saw many comments and statuses from people asking why, some even stating that celebrities and others just can’t deal.  It is in comments like this that we see how many people simply do not understand how depression works or even what it is, for that matter.  Many people believe that depression is just being sad.  Often times the word is used interchangeably for the state of temporary sadness we all experience from time to time.  People seem to think that Robin Williams should have been able to snap out of it or just think positive and change his mood.  For those of us suffering from depression, we know the dark truth.  Depression is a demon that surrounds you no matter where you go or what you do, and as this tragic event shows us, no matter who you are.  Depression does not discriminate.  All walks of life are afflicted and anyone can be sucked into this black hole, even the brightest of us, even the most talented...especially the most talented. 

In retrospect, as soon as I heard the news I wondered how I or others didn’t recognize this about Robin.  Looking into his face, I think you could see his inner pain.  His manic style of stream of consciousness comedy was so intense and unmatched, but Newton’s law tells us that what goes up...ultimately and inevitably must come down.  Ain’t it the truth?  In my readings I saw people mention that most comedians suffer from this type of manic expression of their darkness.  It is in my opinion that a good majority of artists in general are plagued by this same darkness, for no light that bright can exist without its corresponding shadow.  And it makes for great art, don’t get me wrong, but the creation of that art can be one of the most difficult graces to grab onto.  The hardest thing for us to do is to let that inner light shine through that murky cesspool of despair that shrouds our souls, and it can be quite the struggle.   People do battle with depression and often they do this most of their lives.  There are ups and downs, major episodes, minor episodes and then the mania, which can seem like a relief from the pain, but in all actuality, it is one of the biggest energy suckers of all.  Once you go up that high, you go down even harder.  It’s difficult pretending that everything is fine or that you are “normal”.  Robin Williams never pretended to be “normal”, per se, but he did hide his pain behind the mask of comedy.  I don’t believe that I’ve ever pretended to be normal or faked it, but I certainly wear my own mask to cover the many faces that I have.

I vividly remember the day that I carried my diagnostic sheet up to the front desk after seeing the doctor and was given the referral to my therapist and the prescription for my medication.  Looking down at that diagnosis of “Depression” staring up at me like some label, like a mocking label, was hard to handle at the time but it was certainly easier than everything else I have had to deal with since.  Admitting I had a problem was just the first step in this long journey of recovery that I have been on.  I suffered in silence for almost 20 years before getting any help.  I feel guilty that the Robin Williams situation makes me feel better in a way, but it does.  It also makes me feel incredibly worse, because it is terrifying.  This situation is terrifying in that the demon that took his life is the same shadow that lives inside of me, however different.  I haven’t had suicidal thoughts since college, but you never forget that feeling even if you do heal.  It’s like a scar on your soul.  Even though I don’t believe suicide is ever the right choice to make in this situation, I don’t judge his decision because I have had that same demon whisper into my ear.  Today I am taking a look at my own scar and it has been making me sob off and on all day, especially when looking into his face in all of the pictures people are sharing.  It is proof that this illness is serious and real and that I should be proud of the progress I have made because many of us are not so fortunate.  It is also a reminder that I am not alone in this.  None of us are alone in this. 

It has been raining all day today, offering a deep cleansing for our collective soul.  I think why this is so sad for me and others is because we can relate to it so well.  I understand what it is like to mask the darkness inside of you and carry on excitedly and happily for the benefit of others, or simply for survival.  I understand what it is like to go to that manic place only to fall to the bottom once again.  It is incredibly draining and life sucking.  I think a lot of us can relate to Robin Williams; I think humanity has taken a deep collective sigh at his passing.  Nothing seems right about this but nothing is wrong in talking about it and perhaps his death can serve to help others take this condition more seriously and treat it with compassion.  Depression is a real problem but suicide is never the answer; that is something that depression tells you when you are vulnerable.  But people should not shame others for having suicidal thoughts, either.  It just goes with the territory.  Robin Williams struggled for years with his depression, and ultimately it won the battle, but nobody should judge him as weak for this and throwing words like coward around at suicide victims and the depressed does nothing to extend the compassion that these situations and people so desperately need and deserve.  He fought the good fight for years and he did one hell of a job at that and anyone that deals with depression will agree that is one of the bravest things that you can do.  Perhaps he was just tired of fighting that demon or simply succumbed to a moment of weakness and lapse in judgement, but we don’t REALLY know, do we?  You can never truly know the heart of another.  May his beautiful soul finally rest in peace.  Na-no na-no.  


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Staring Into the Rising Sun

This picture has been my Facebook profile picture for over a year now.  I took this picture last June while on vacation with my family in Rodanthe, North Carolina.  I had never been to the Outer Banks before and I had also never seen a sunrise over the ocean.  I have kept this as my profile picture for so long because it just seems so fitting for this time in my life, for after all of the darkness, I am finally watching the sunrise. 

There's something about nature I have always loved;  I have always found God there.  Solitary moments in nature have always been when I receive my best advice.  They say God whispers.  Well, what better time to listen than when alone with the trees, the streams, or the critters that It has created.  I just happened upon this rising sun that morning at the beach, even though watching one was on my list of things for the week.  I had woken up to use the bathroom and afterward noted the time and realized that the sun would be coming up in less than a half an hour, so I left my husband and daughter sleeping in bed and slipped out onto the balcony outside our room to have an intimate moment with The Universe.

The sky had already started to turn a rosy pink at the horizon as the light of day prepared to peak over the Atlantic Ocean.  I sat in anticipation with my camera taking a handful of videos and pictures of the incredibly slow and unfolding process.  Isn't that what recovery could be called?  That sun was me.  I was that rising sun!  Slowly the sky grew in color, and every second you thought for sure that golden ball would pop up, but no...not yet.  Wait for it.  

Shade by shade the sky changed and there was such an expansive sense of Greatness...and persistence.  Everyday the Sun does this!  Every single day!  Regardless of what or who is watching, every single day the sun will rise and shine, like clockwork.  It gets the job done.  It sheds light on the shadows of Earth.  Every.single.day.  No days off for the sun.  On this day, I was watching.  I was listening, I was feeling.  I was believing.  I was in a different place.  I had just started therapy and meds at the beginning of that year.  I knew that I had a long journey ahead of me but still couldn't fathom the turns I would be making.

So there I was...waiting for it...on the balcony at the beach.  A million things flew through my mind as I waited eagerly.  Metaphorically speaking, in my mental progress I was waiting too...I was waiting for the sun, patiently watching for but unable yet to see solid proof of progress.  Tom Petty, musical guru that he is, was right when he said that this is the hardest part!  Phase one--The Waiting.  Waiting can seem like a delay of progress, but it is actually a quite necessary part of it.  My mind was full of thoughts until I was moved to mental silence by the first sliver of Light to break across the horizon.  

I was in awe as I watched the Sun cut into the pink sky it had been warming up this entire time.  There is something romantic about this moment in time, this fleeting moment of transition when the sun moves across the horizon and onto its vast palette of sky.  It goes so fast but also seems to be happening in slow motion.  Phase two--The Rising, had begun.  That's where I am now.  I was moved to tears in that intimate moment with the rising sun.  It was as if I was witnessing a birth as that shining head of Sun tore through the great Yoni of Life.  It slowly slipped out from behind the horizon and then was delivered into the Sky!  The birth of the day!!  It was a beautiful thing.

I am still experiencing the labor of my Light and feeling the pains of my awakening.  I'm doing my work.  I have been diligent and I finally have started to see positive results...but I have yet to shine.  After coming this far I fully understand now why some people choose to never do their work and move across the fire.  Some never face the sun, because it IS work.  If you do it right, it's uncomfortable for awhile.  It'll definitely make you squirm.  You leave your comfort zone of unconscious living in order to shine as bright as you can.  Well, I'm dying to shine.  Phase three is The Shining, and I'm on my way.  You Wait...You Rise...You Shine.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Half Full: Shots From the Crystal Skull

Throughout this healing journey or whatever you want to call it that I have been going through I have focused on the importance of avoidance, the wisdom in limitation and the worth of enough.  Many things require LESS of (something, a behavior, a substance, a person) in order to see improvement.  Some changes to make are things you need to stop or limit, while some are things you need to start or free.  Some areas of your life you need MORE of (something, a behavior, a substance, a person) in order to move forward.  If you need more of, you need to go through the same rough stage where, instead of learning to cope without (insert trigger here) you learn how to deal with (insert trigger here).

I have a few vices and negative behaviors, but one of them definitely was binge drinking.  At the beginning of 2013 I was mostly left with vodka, the only thing that I could binge on yet without horrible repercussions.  My friend got me a Skull of vodka for my 33rd birthday...last October.  It has since become somewhat of a ceremonial piece, for true occasions of need and/or want.  I have passed the skull around a few times and others have drank from the great crystal head.  Surprisingly there are still a couple of shots left in her, yet!  The only reason I guess I mention it is that I was very into vodka a year and a half ago.  Before I started therapy and got on meds I basically self medicated my anxiety and depression.  I numbed myself a lot of the time for socializing.  A bottle of Svedka wasn't drank in a day around here by any means, but it was lucky to last a few weeks let alone a month...let alone 9!  I wasn't so much an alcoholic as I was a binge drinker.  My crystal skull has survived 9 months.  I've carried this baby for 3 trimesters, longer than any vodka I have ever had.  My friends helped in her consumption, yes, so I guess this shows that I'm not doing that bad?  I didn't even drink all of it.  Less drinking, more eating.   Now, if I can just get off of these meds and kill the Ed in my head.  Imagine being able to live vice free? I commend those people who have no vices, but sometimes it is hard not to believe that such a person is only the romance of myth and legend...although I have witnessed some in my time.  Regardless of the vices of others or lack thereof, I'm finally beginning to get a grip on mine.  The skull is half full.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Alchemical Romance

In the beginning there was Nothing, and we both came forth out of the Void, out of the dark, into form.  At first we were a gas, and eventually molten metal, and then we bled together in the center of the universe, the center of our being, the Beginning.  As gases, we mixed, but the feeling was fuzzy and subtle, but as we blended as liquid gold, copper, steel, bronze---we crashed into our Selves, and we merged as One solid form, and as we cooled we began to beat together, our friction making a song that moved our lives along and brought us back from the dream that we woke up in when we fell asleep in each Other's arms. 

5/6/14

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bleed [the Furnace] to Love Her

Earlier today I fretted over my mental progress a bit.  I'm trying to bring the light of consciousness to my inner world, and get to the bottom of my moods and behaviors.  Most things I am working through have roots in my childhood.  Trauma is a funny thing.  Okay, no, actually, it's not at all, but it is odd.  Even after the trauma itself is over it leaves a residue that you need to scrub off of your psyche, I guess you could say.  I'm elbow deep and scrubbing, but I think I need steel wool or something sometimes.  I've been trying to understand my triggers better and I'm shining a spot light on things that have been hidden in darkness for years, but the healing process doesn't work unless you FEEL the past so it can be released. The purpose of a feeling is to be felt. How mad do you get when somebody ignores you? Think of how pissed off repressed and suppressed feelings can get. 

I feel as though most times I am running on empty, so what am I actually running on? Fumes? Old energies are mostly what fuels me; old patterns, thoughts, habits, and behaviors have me locked into their vicious cycle of negative regurgitation.  That's fuel made from past trauma. I am resisting, but what am I resisting? What I'm denying are mere memories, but it's not the memories themselves being denied but rather the emotions tied to those memories. All of these things have me fighting against the current of Life, but in truth resistance is futile if you wish to avoid suffering. I'm learning to change my fuel, reboot my system. It's a process...and quite the journey. I listened to Concrete Blonde's song Bloodletting earlier today and thought 'That's what I'm talking about!' That was foreshadowing. I need an emotional bloodletting. I need to release all of the pent up feelings that never were granted expression. I need to bleed out my demons. You can deny feelings all you want, but they will be felt EVENTUALLY on your terms or on theirs. I'd rather it be on my terms.

I can't help but be consumed with my healing and awakening. This is a precious period of time in my life that will NOT be repeated, and I feel I need to enjoy the journey, for lack of a better phrase. I was a victim this morning again, but by dinner time I was my own hero. We ran out of fuel earlier today, but had 5 gallons in a jug on the back porch. I successfully heaved the full jug up and got the kerosene into the fuel tank. For the furnace to work, though, I needed to bleed the line, which is something I have never done before. I've seen it done a number of times, but seeing and doing are very different experiences.

After getting instructions via the phone from my husband I made my first attempt. The furnace kicked on but shut off again. I obviously hadn't bled it right, but was getting too frustrated being in the middle of my yacking, incessant toddler and my instructing husband on the line. I declared I would figure it out and hung up the phone. I did just that. Fuel spraying out of your furnace can be a little intimidating, but after a few failed attempts, I figured out where I went wrong. Three soda bottles later and I had successfully bled the furnace properly. Celie and I high fived and cheered as the blower kicked on and started to heat our home again. I was proud of myself, and the sound of the furnace brought a real sense of accomplishment. I can now bleed a furnace. It might not be a huge accomplishment, but it's more than some men can do...and that's the truth!

This, of course, is a metaphor. When you run out of fuel, you can end up sucking air, running on fumes, if you will. You can put all of the fuel you want into your tank, but the furnace won't work until you bleed the air out of the lines....ALL of the air. I can pour all the fuel I want in my tank, but I need to clear my lines before any changes I make will be lasting.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Celebration and Crucifixion

My wonderful Easter Lily still blooms as I write this. I'm inhaling its lovely fragrance with every in breath and there are still three buds left to open.  I intentionally picked one that had no open flowers when I bought it last Wednesday.  We've been watching it bloom and it just gets prettier and more fragrant with each passing day.  Each flower is a new celebration, and that is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

This past week has been one of celebration and today it continues with Earth Day! First it was holy week and we were presented with all of the biblical tales on TV. I watched Mary, Mother of Jesus last Thursday, mostly for the portrayal of Jesus by one Mr. Christian Bale, but was moved more by the mother of Christ instead. Moved to tears, actually, but that was nothing compared to what followed.

UP, which stands for Uplifting entertainment, is the network I caught the holy week shows on...ironically. Mary, Mother of Jesus was followed by an encore showing of The Passion of The Christ. I had already seen this Mel Gibson take on the crucifixion story, but decided to watch it again, since it was holy week and all. Cry me a river, and I honestly did. It's worse than when I watch Titanic. I understand the 'need' for the depiction of violence in this story, but I can barely make it through it. So, I sat there while my kid slept next to me watching The Passion of The Christ in honor of Easter, which seems odd, but you can't really depict the life of Jesus without dealing with that whole crucifixion thing. Sadly, it's what made Jesus memorable to many. What did Jesus do? He simply loved people and spread the awareness of that love and for that he was violently murdered. Talk about insult to injury. Basically he threatened the life of The Ego. He was attempting to wake up the world, but most of the unconscious masses enjoy their slumber. "Forgive them, father, for they know not what they do!" They really don't.

Wednesday I had therapy and bought myself an Easter Lily. Thursday night I wept for Jesus and read The Drama of The Gifted Child, then on Good Friday I made some ribs on the grill and welcomed my husband home proper. Easter came and went. Sunday was also our twin nieces' birthday (which also happened to be 4/20). Now today is Earth Day! Crucifixion and celebration, I guess they go hand in hand? Bunnies and eggs, crosses and lilies. We celebrate the renewal of life and welcome the flowering gifts of spring. We have survived the fruitless days of winter and are eager to once again grow towards the light. Fertility and the continuity of life, that's what we celebrate when the Easter lilies bloom. After the holiday has passed, my lily continues to bloom and surrounds me with sweet fragrance and for that I am grateful. Happy Earth Day!