Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rejecting the diet mentality

It seems like everyone is on a diet these days or as some people put it “watching their weight”. To which I really want to ask, where is it going to go? But that isn’t polite. Every where you turn some company is advertising the new quick weight loss solution and someone is buying into it, going on and on about how they dropped X amount of pounds in negative 40 days. If these diets actually worked, why are there so many of them?

All joking side, diets/dieters really bug me. Early in my recovery they just made me angry. It was sooo hard to see everyone doing and talking about what I was trying so hard not to do. You know, I was sitting here trying to re-learn how to normalize food and eat it, and a lot of people around me were calorie counting and restricting “bad” foods while discussing how they were going to exercise for eating too much. In the beginning of my recovery I couldn’t be around this. The slightest hint of diet talk sent me into a tailspin and usually left me giving into the eating disorder. After all, I just wanted to fit in and with the eating disorder I could be the “best dieter”.  

Now, it just makes me sad. It’s hard to watch people scrutinize themselves and everything they eat or don’t eat. And it’s even sadder that “diet talk” is largely present in any conversation that involves a group of women. Why do we continue to put ourselves down and cut out foods that we enjoy? Why do we constantly measure our worth by our weight? Why is being thinner and weighing less so important? We are so much more than that. Now, I refuse to take part in “diet talk” and weight shaming and it isn’t because I am jealous. It’s because it’s boring.

We all need food to live, why make it more than that? Let’s face it, being on a diet doesn’t make you better then anyone else, unless you are trying to win the “who is more miserable” contest. And if so, count me out. Studies show that the secret to gaining weight is actually trying to lose weight. Sounds backwards, but from what I have seen is pretty true. Have you ever successfully gone on a diet, lost weight and kept the weight off? Maybe a few of you but I think if we are all being honest with ourselves, this isn’t the case for most people.

A few months ago I was in line at subway and I heard a girl (who I assume was about 10/11years old) talking about how she was going on a diet for her new years resolution and didn’t want anything but half a sandwich for lunch. (Sans condiments, cheese and anything other then meat and veggies) She even went as far as to scold her brother for getting mayo on his sandwich and talked about how she was going to reward herself with a new dress if she was able to lose weight.(Not that it matters but she was not overweight by any means) This was the most disheartening thing I have ever witnessed. It took everything inside of me not to reach out and give this girl a hug and explain to her how beautiful and awesome she was and how she didn’t need to be on a diet or lose weight.

Is this really the direction that the world is moving towards?

You may be shaking your head at me by now and its fine, we can disagree. If you want to be on a diet that is your choice. Just as it’s my choice not to be and even more so to fight against it. Although I have a long way to go in my recovery, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My weight doesn’t determine my worth. My food choices don’t make me a bad person. And I truly believe that bodies come in all sizes. I also love the fact that I can enjoy a piece of cake or a brownie without that nagging guilt. The freedom that I have gained in recovery and by rejecting the diet mentality is worth every pound that I have gained. In fact, it’s not just weight that I have gained, but I have gained my life back and I wouldn’t trade that for anything, including losing weight or “fitting in”.

Trust your body, it knows exactly what you should eat and how much it needs. There isn’t a secret formula and no diet guru knows what is right for you. You can be happy with your body at whatever weight you are and enjoy food at the same time. I don't think a single diet out there can make that same guarantee. 

Here are some resources that have helped me:

And a few books that have been recommended to me that are awesome:

 A little disclaimer: An eating disorder and a diet are not the same thing. Eating disorders are not extreme diets or diets gone wrong. They are mental illnesses. I am sharing my perspective of my recovery from an eating disorder and how I feel about diets, because I believe that some of the things I have overcome and learned can help people; those who suffer from an eating disorder AND those who are chronic dieters.

Perspective- we all need some

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Growing a spine

We teach people how to treat us. When we say no, they listen. When we set boundaries, they follow. And when we don’t, they usually don’t. 

I used to let people walk all over me. I would back down from a conversation to avoid an argument or would give in because I didn’t think it was worth my time. What I was really saying was that I wasn’t worth the time. I wasn’t worth the argument and that I didn’t have opinions or more so that what I had to say didn’t matter.

IT DOES, AS DO I!. And I really do believe that. I am worth the time and space and so are you. 

I used to get upset that I would have the same conversations over and over again or constantly found myself in situations that I didn’t approve of or was doing things for other people that I wasn’t ok with. I had a million explanations excuses and plenty of other people to blame. Some of those people deserve some of the blame, but not all of it. 

We all have a voice, so use it. Speak up for yourself. If you don’t like how someone is treating you, tell them. If they don’t listen, run for the hills. Or don’t. But don’t spend another day thinking that you deserve to be treated that way. 

If you want something in life, go for it. Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but that doesn’t mean that you have to listen to it. Everyone also includes you.

You can’t expect things to change if you don’t make the first move. If you want people to talk to you differently, tell them so and show them what that entails. If they aren’t happy, well now that makes two of you. Set consequences and follow through. Idle threats just continue the cycle.

If you want someone to give you their time, show them that you are worth their time. You have to believe it yourself if you want anyone else to take you seriously. 

Overall, just remember that it’s all up to you. The ball is always in your court. You can’t change other people but you can change how they treat and interact with you. And it is your God given right to do so. Oh yeah, also remember that you are a wonderful, awesome, beautiful human being that is completely worth the time and effort. 

Apparently I turn into a self help book when I am lacking coffee. Maybe I should have given it up years ago.

Hey you

Something I found online that I thought everyone would enjoy! I know I did! :)
ps- before you title something "the inevitable break-up" it would be very nice of you to warn your boyfriend, speaking from experience..

Monday, February 27, 2012

the inevitable break-up

Hello my name is Daniella and I am a coffee addict. (caffeine addict really) Those who know me are aware that my love for coffee runs pretty deep. Most mornings the prospect of its yummy goodness is what gets me out of bed. The occasional cup in the middle of the afternoon is what gets me through that day without taking a 4 hour nap. The coke zero with lunch or dinner is what makes the meal complete. Coffee/caffeine and I go way back and have been through some hard times together, some great times too.

So why am I going on and on about my love for coffee? Due to medical stuff relating to the cancer and medications, I must break up with my long time lover. We must go our separate ways and start over. I’ve been here before. In fact, I have been in this exact same situation before, where I needed to completely give up caffeine for health/medical reasons, but that doesn’t make it suck any less.

By now some of you may be laughing at me or asking what the big deal is. It’s just coffee after all. And you are right; it isn’t really a big deal. My health >>>>>>>>> coffee any day. There is no doubt in my mind that I can live without caffeine. In fact, I know that in the long run it will probably make things a lot better. I won’t be dependent on something for energy or have to deal with the horrible side effects of not drinking it.

But the next few weeks are going to suck and is exactly why I am dreading this break up. Just like any addiction, giving something up comes with withdrawal symptoms. And no I am not comparing this to giving up cocaine, alcohol or other drugs. I have no idea how that works and I can only imagine that it’s 1000000 times worse. But I know there is going to be an element of tiredness and most likely a lot of headaches involved.

To add insult to injury, I am not allowed to take any medication, like Tylenol or aspirin etc, so me and the side effects are on our own. No way to curb the headache except for natural things (Anyone have any suggestion?) and maybe a few extra naps will be in my future.

All joking aside, I don’t consider this a big deal. I don’t think it’s the end of the world at all and know that in the grand scheme of things it’s not so bad. This post isn’t really a complaint or a way of saying “poor me”. In fact, I am truly grateful that something as simple as giving up caffeine can help me on the cancer medication front. That being said, I am asking everyone to cut me a little slack for the next few weeks. If I am not as cheery and upbeat as I normally am or complain a little bit about feeling crappy, please let it slide some. Feel free to remind me of the benefits of what I am doing as well.

For now I say so long to coffee and our wonderful relationship. Maybe one day we will be able to meet again. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A broken record

Last week after the presentation, I was interviewed by a reporting student about my eating disorder. Along with many other questions he asked me “describe your worst day with the eating disorder” After thinking about it for a few minutes I realized that I could do that without mentioning a single eating disorder behavior. For me, this was 100% mental and had nothing to do with how much I was engaging in behaviors.

Imagine a tape player stuck on play in your room. (in my case, my head) This tape is feeding you garbage. Telling you 24-7 about how you are not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough and just suck at everything. On top of that, it’s luring you with its sweet music that it can help you be all of those things and more if you continue to listen to it. Constantly berating and punishing you for all of the things that you did wrong, which include eating, getting a B on something, asking a friend for help, mostly things that are NECESSARY to live. Instead of being able to focus on whatever you are doing, you are 150% enriched in this tape. Although those around you can’t hear it, it’s far from background noise to you. Maybe you are hanging out with your boyfriend or in class, but the only thing you can truly hear is this tape that runs in a continuous loop.

My worst eating disorder days are days that I am wearing headphones with this tape. Things exist around me and I am actively engaging in them, but the only thing I can hear is the eating disorder. The tape is on repeat and there is absolutely no way to turn it off.
Kind of like when your roommates or neighbors are playing loud music, you can shut your door or try some ear plugs, but unless they turn it off, you still hear it. It’s like that, except the volume is on full blast and there is no escaping.

I am thankful to say that days like this are no longer very frequent. I’ve traded in my headphones and speakers for something a lot less noisy and annoying. I’ve learned how to recognize this tape and even replace parts of it. The tape is still there but it’s a lot quieter and it’s pretty hard to take seriously. Some days the music sounds wonderful and it’s tempting to listen, but the soothing effect only lasts for so long and I know better than to fall into that trap. Other days it’s like a person occasionally tapping a pencil while you are taking a test; you can hear it and it’s annoying but it isn’t constant. Even occasionally I can go a day without hearing it at all and those days are happening more and more.

For me, recovery has been about learning to ignore this tape. Not only ignore it, but replace it with better music. Replacing the self berating and negativity with kindness and compassion, the luring behaviors with new better coping mechanism etc. It has also meant sharing my head phones with someone; allowing people to hear the music and to help me turn it off. Also, allowing others to play louder better music when necessary.

It’s a work in progress. It takes a lot more then a pause/stop button to erase a tape that has been playing for years, no matter how awful the music is but it can be done. I am learning to change my taste in music and control the volume. I’ve also upgraded from a tape to an mp3 and thankfully those come with a skip button.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Accepting & respecting where you are

Last night I went to a presentation given by Ragen Chastain about the positive body. For those of you who weren’t there or don’t know about her, you should all check our her blog at Dances with Fat . She is an amazingly inspirational person with a lot of wisdom, insight and humor. I will write more about the presentation as a whole in later posts.

Before the presentation there was a booth set up by BeRealUF, (here is more about them and their message for people to write inspirational letters to their bodies so they can hang them up in the new Eating Disorder Recovery Center at Shands. They included things like “Dear body, you are awesome. Thanks for being able to dance/swim etc.” or “Dear body, you are amazing and awesome just the way you are.” Etc. They were all happy, cheery and full of positive self love.

Just like everyone else, I was given some construction paper, markers and stickers and told to come up with the same thing. “You want me to what?” was my next response. The girl at the booth kept telling me that it didn’t need to be creative or artistic and just simple words would do. The thing is, the creative/artistic part wasn’t the problem. I can draw stick figures like the best of them and Lisa Frank and I are best friends, but the idea of coming up with positive things about my body made me feel like she was asking me to perform surgery and I have a very unsteady hand. The longer I stood there and looked at the examples that other people had done, the more discouraged and frustrated I became. The best that I could come up with was, “Dear body, I don’t hate you as much today. Occasionally you are ok and I can begin to consider accepting to you. Thanks for breathing for me?” The thoughts that were running through my head weren’t exactly inspirational or things that would be appropriate for patients in an eating disorder recovery clinic. But in all honesty, I was just excited that I wasn’t thinking of four letter words and my body in the same sentence.

This experience, along with conversations that I recently have had with my treatment team have made me come to a realization: Recovery and life are about accepting and respecting where you are. I would have loved to participate in the activity above and been able to share a positive message about my body with others, but I am not there yet. It’s truly inspirational to hear and see others speak so positively about their bodies and themselves and it really gives me something to look forward to but no amount of persuasion and hope is going to create something that isn’t there. Let’s use the analogy that you are running a marathon. You are at mile 2 and you are dreaming of the finish line. Not only dreaming of it, but thinking about how wonderful it is going to be when you cross it and how much you can’t wait for that to happen. Dreaming and wishing are good things but it doesn’t matter how badly you wish to be at the finish line, you still have 24 miles to go before that happens. In that moment, no amount of dreaming and wishing are going to get you to that finish line, but running for 24 miles will.

Accepting where you are right now is hard, especially for me. As I have mentioned in previous posts, these last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle for me. I have had a lot of stressful and big things going on in my life and have been using the eating disorder to cope. I have spent countless hours banging my head against the wall and wondering why the heck I am doing this again when I know the outcome. (Duh, it’s because it’s what I have done for most of my life and it’s going to take more then a few months to re-learn new coping skills and re-wire my brain, but that is a completely separate post) In order to discontinue the spiral downwards I have reached out for help and support during this time. For me that has included going back to the basics some and following some things I did early in recovery which include following a meal plan and using more structure and other people’s advice (as in people on my treatment team who I trust, not rogue strangers or people that have no idea) to help me eat and take care of myself.  

For the past few weeks I have been frustrated by this. As I sit with a plate in food in front of me, taking myself through it and hating a lot of it, I’ve been angry at myself. I’ve been thinking back to a month ago when this wasn’t hard for me and when I truly enjoyed eating, cooking and trying new things and I’ve constantly been wishing that I could just snap back there. Like I mentioned in the marathon example, wishing only gets you so far. Reminding myself of where I once was and using that to get angry at myself for where I am now, isn’t going to bring me back to where I was a month ago or where I wish to be. Instead, accepting where I am right now and working to get back where I was will. You can’t begin to fix something until you accept it for what it is. I have slipped and messed up, but that means absolutely nothing other then the obvious, that I have slipped and messed up and now have an opportunity to work on making things better and doing things differently.

This concept not only applies to eating disorder recovery and me, but to life in general. We could all use a moment of stopping for a second and accepting and respecting where we are whether that has to do with a problem we are facing, our jobs, schooling etc. Accepting where you are doesn’t mean giving yourself an excuse to stay in a bad place. I am by no means saying that you should be like “well I am currently not eating and this is where I am at, so I guess I should just continue to not eat.” Or “I am currently stuck in a crappy job, but it’s where I am at so I shouldn’t try to find a few job.” Nor am I saying that you shouldn’t hope/wish/dream about the future. For me, talking to other people who are further along in their recovery or seeing people who’ve made it to the other side and truly love themselves is really helpful. But only to the extent that it gives me the hope that things can get better and that I can eventually get there as well. I hope know that one day I will be like the people that I have mentioned above and be able to genuinely love my body and myself and be fully recovered from the eating disorder. And boy am I excited about that day. But for now, I am going to accept and respect exactly where I am. Today I hate myself a little less then yesterday and plan on doing all that I can to continue on the upward swing of the recovery process. And for now that is exactly where I am and is good enough for me.

Here is a song that always makes me smile: 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

It gets better

 For me, recovering from an eating disorder has been much more than learning how to eat and take care of myself. It’s been about learning about myself; accepting my strengths and weaknesses and figuring out better ways to handle and cope with things that life throws at me. It’s been about figuring out who I am, which direction I am headed and about the life that I want to lead. It’s been about putting myself first and learning that it’s ok to do so. It’s been about opening my eyes and changing my perspective including my black and white thinking. It’s been about interacting with people differently and learning to stand up for myself. It’s been about learning to value myself and truly believe that I have a lot to offer the world. It’s been about breaking down the wall and learning to embrace exactly who I am, including my problems and insecurities. It’s been about noticing and breaking patterns and traps that I have fallen into time and time again. And about being curious, compassionate and understanding of the process. It’s been full of ups and downs, highs and lows and everything in between. Overall, it’s been and continues to be one of the hardest yet most rewarding things I have ever done.

Change doesn’t happen over night. Some days I feel like I am miles away from the finish line. Other days I feel like nothing has changed and I should give up trying. Some days, the hard work and uncomfortable feelings don’t seem worth it. It seems like I am moving in reverse or at snails pace and I can’t seem to find the accelerator. And then other days I just stop and smile when I realize how far I’ve come. For me, it’s usually the little things that warrant this response; like the excitement and satisfaction I feel when I enjoy cooking a yummy dinner for John or when I don’t back down from an argument with my mom or allow people to make me feel bad about myself or the best of all, when I say NO to something because I don’t WANT to do it and don’t feel guilty afterwards. Moments like these are what make the struggle worth the effort. Most of the time it seems like these moments are few and far between. It seems that all of the bad stuff outweighs the good, and like it will never get better.

But it does get better and I believe that with 100% certainty. Although I am not always confident, I love the person that I am becoming. I love learning to live authentically; being able to look in the mirror and show up for myself. Every day isn’t always easy and great, but embracing my insecurities is much better then hiding them. Putting myself out there and displaying my struggle has been challenging. I’ve feared that I would lose friends or change people opinions about me. I’ve worried that people would see me as a fraud because I have always kept this side of my life hidden. But I don’t worry about those things so much anymore. Occasionally doubt catches up with me and I start to panic, but it happens far less often then it used to.

You see, I am not perfect and I no longer strive to be. I have flaws, doubts and insecurities just like everyone else. I also have ambitions, goals and things about myself that I absolutely love. I’ve done things in the past that I am not necessarily proud. I’ve made mistakes, let people down and even hurt people. But I have also done amazing things and helped people along away.

For me, recovery has been learning balance. Not only how to balance things that are going on in my life, but learning the balance of myself. For me, balance means accepting the good and the bad, my flaws and accomplishments and everything in between the two. It isn’t always easy, but it’s completely worth it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or any related issues in their lives, remember that it get’s better. Last August I didn’t believe that I would be where I am right now or more so that I could ever love the person that I am becoming, but I am and I do. Some days it may seem like it's easier to give in and give up but don't do it. If I can do this, then you can to. It get’s better, I am living proof. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just keep swimming

I printed this out and hung it on my wall a few months ago when I started really working on this whole recovery thing. It's been a constant reminder of why I continue to muddle through the uncomfortable stuff and put in the hard work. There is no room for an eating disorder in the life that I want to lead. I have dreams, plans and aspirations and nothing is going to get in my way. The only way out is through and that is the path that I will continue to follow.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Doing things differently

Today is your lucky day! It's 2 for 1 Friday. 2 blog posts in 1 day! This is the result of some extra free time and the focus to actually do something constructive with it instead of curling up in bed and taking a nap, which I highly recommend.

You know that time when you had that problem and you did that thing and it DIDN’T work. And then that other time when you had another problem and you did that same thing and it STILL DIDN’T work…well let me let you in on a little secret..shh * you don’t have to do the same thing this time.* Nope. You don’t have to handle things the same way. You don’t have to be the person that you were before or do the things that you did before.

You know what’s great about life; you have the power to choose. YOU CAN CHOOSE TO REACT DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME. Yep, no if, and or buts about it, the power is all yours.

All joking aside, this was a huge realization for me and it took hearing it from a few different people for it to really sink in.(repetition is my friend!) In the past week I have resorted to my old way of handling things. You know the way that has NEVER worked. Part of it is because it seemed easier at the time, but the other part was because it was what I have always done. In times of stress or doubt, I have always isolated myself, turned to the eating disorder and blocked everyone else out. (Including myself and feelings) Sometimes this was what I needed to do to get by and it worked for the time being but and it’s a big but, this isn’t the case anymore. Not only am I surrounded by an amazing support system, but I have the strength, tools and knowledge to work through things. I don’t need to handle things like I have in the past. I don’t need to be the person that I thought I was. Hell, I don’t need to do anything if I don’t want to. Praise the lord; I can try something different this time.

We all have the power to choose. When something isn’t working for us, we can try something different. If that doesn’t work, we can try something else. Patterns and routines are great, but why continue doing something that isn’t working just because it’s what we are used to.

This may seem like a really obvious thing to you or like a stupid post, but it’s been the most freeing realization for me. I easily get sucked into the notion that I have to do things how I have done in the past. And you know what? That is complete BS. I don’t have much power or control over the things that go on around me, but I am 100% in control of how I choose to handle them and how they affect me. Choice is a wonderful thing.

Trying something new can be scary. Opening up to people about my struggles, even in writing this blog has been challenging. Voicing my concerns, asking for help, letting people help me and even eating regularly is not my norm. All of these things are the exact opposite of what I normally do in stressful situations. Overall, it’s a completely different approach to how I usually handle things. But as much as I hate to admit it, it’s working better than my old ways. 

Changing things up has been difficult, as has letting go of the person that I thought I was. Breaking habits are really really hard, especially when you have been doing them for most of your life, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. We all have the power to choose. If something isn’t working for you try something different, reach out and get another persons perspective and opinion. For me, learning that I have the power to choose and that I have people standing by me to guide me during these decisions has made a really big difference.It's not easy and is still a work in progress, but it's a start.

Staying in the present

Staying in the present is really hard to do. If you are anything like me, as you are sitting at the bus stop you are thinking about your dinner plans, your law school applications, what you should have done yesterday and your long to do list. Your mind is completely focused on some combination of yesterday, later and tomorrow. 30 minutes from now you will find yourself on campus and be amazed at how you got there because you were so lost in your own head.

This happens to me pretty frequently. I find that I am so busy living in the past or future, that I am not enjoying the present. I also have a bad habit of letting the past dictate the future, or at least convincing myself that it’s going to be the same. Instead of making decisions based on the current evidence, I like to use the past as proof that it will be EXACTLY the same this time, when it normally isn’t.

I am a big “what if-er”. I can “what if” like the best of them and usually find myself doing exactly that. Instead of focusing on the reality of the current situation, I am coming up with all of the future possibilities of how it could play out. Although this is a valuable skill in some scenarios it usually leads to a lot of unnecessary anxiety and dread. No one knows what the future holds or how things are going to play out, trying to guess is practically useless and a big time waster. Lately when I start playing the “what if” game, I try and say something ridiculous like “what if dinosaurs come back tomorrow and took over the world”. This usually snaps me back into reality and allows me to realize how unrealistic I am being.   

It’s easy to get caught up in regretting something that you did in the past or worrying about something in the future. After all, this helps you avoid whatever you are currently facing or not facing for that matter. I am a big avoider, even this morning I found myself doing 546 different things to avoid eating breakfast. (For the record, I enjoyed my yummy bowl of cereal and coffee). Focusing on the past or future is a good way to avoid the present but it’s not a very good way to live. When you aren’t focused on the present you really are missing out. Looking back to the past few years I have realized that I was always focused on the next thing and because of this I missed out on a lot.

For me, staying in the present means focusing on the here and now without thinking too much about the past or future. It means allowing myself to be 100% present in what I am doing, including my feelings. It means slowing down instead of accelerating and some times even stopping. It means being gentle, kind and compassionate to myself in times of stress instead of “what if-ing” and avoiding. It means being genuine and authentic to my needs, instead of pushing them away. It means cherishing and enjoying the little things and the big things. It means taking each opportunity as it comes and then letting it go. For me, staying in the present means actually living life, instead of sitting in the background and watching as a spectator. Carpe diem. 

And here is something to make you smile/laugh. It never gets old! : ) 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The power of words

After ice cream, chocolate and tomatoes (I have a weird love for tomatoes) communication is really the next best thing since sliced bread. Actually sliced bagels are but that is completely beside the point.

Words are powerful. Words help us connect with other people and get our point across. Words help us communicate with those around us and ask for things when needed. Words can be hurtful, doubtful, healing and helpful depending on how they are used. Words have different connotations depending on which context they are used in and that is part of their beauty.

I used to be a really bad communicator. Don’t get me wrong, I am a talker, as it runs in my family, but talking and communicating isn’t the same thing. We all know what small talk is, the annoying conversation we have with the man at the bus stop or with the family member that we only see once every 5 years. I think as a whole, we are all pretty good at this but this isn’t true communication.

Communication includes asking for our needs, opening dialogue with loved ones even when we don’t want to, telling people what we truly believe instead of what they want to hear, listening as others speak, empathizing and a bunch of other things. Anyone can talk but true communication is hard to come by.

I used to hate speaking up. (Ok, I still hate it but I am learning to be ok with it) Instead of telling someone how I was feeling I used to try to use other ways, you know like less obvious clues that don’t actually work. No one is a mind reader. It doesn’t matter how well you may know someone, most of the time you probably have no clue what they are thinking. Using your words is a much more effective way to get your point across.

I bring up this topic because it’s really relevant in my life right now. As mentioned in my last few posts I have been having a rough time lately and have been constantly discouraged and frustrated that things weren’t changing. I was surrounded by people ready to listen and willing to help, but I wasn’t communicating. I wanted someone to just know what was going on and say all of the right things without me having to really do much of anything. Looking back now, it’s not that hard to see why things weren’t changing.

Communication is hard some times. Sharing feelings of fear, frustration and anger isn’t always a walk in the park. Talking about stuff relating to cancer and the eating disorder is really hard for me to do. People on my support team have asked me a few times this week, “What do you need?” and I have been hesitant to answer. Communicating about my needs makes me super uncomfortable. But staying silent doesn’t work nor does leaving others to guess what you are thinking. It’s really hard to help someone when you have no idea how. 

Just like most other things in life, it's a learning process. Effective communication takes practice and doesn't happen overnight. Don't get discouraged. Being in a serious relationship has really helped me on this front. Having a good open line of communication with John has helped me open other lines of communication in my life.If there is one thing that I would hope that you take out of this post it’s this: Use your words. Communication is the key to any relationship and I really do believe it’s what makes everything work out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another four letter word -Selfish

After spiders, being seen as selfish used to be one of my biggest fears. I never wanted it to seem like I was putting myself before others or attending to my needs before other people. I feared this so much that I went to great lengths to make sure it never happened, including completely failing at taking care of myself.

You see, the word “selfish” has such a negative connotation these days, so much so that it’s often seen as another four letter word. Who wouldn’t rather be seen as a selfless human being who gives and helps others all of the time? The problem with this isn’t just that it’s completely unrealistic but that it’s near impossible.

If our own needs are not getting met, it’s not easy for us to meet other people’s needs. You may disagree with this, but hear me out. I am not saying that you are physically unable to put someone else before yourself (hell I used to do it all of the time) but it comes at a price and it’s a high price.

Take the example that you hear on planes all of the time about making sure to put on your oxygen mask before helping another. If you do not put your own oxygen mask on first, you will not be able to help others around you. It really is as simple as that. So your child may be alive but now who will be around to take care of her? This may sound like an extreme example but it’s true.

I really suck at taking care of myself. Actually let me rephrase that: I often get so sucked into taking care of other people that I forget to take care of myself. We as human beings are born knowing exactly what we need. A baby will cry when he is hungry or in distress. Toddlers continue to hold on to their parent’s pants leg when they enter a new place. Just like babies and toddles, we as adults have needs and taking care of them is JUST AS important. 

Last summer I was working insane hours, working at an all aquatics summer camp and then coaching afterwards. I spent a lot of hours helping those around me and I loved every minute of it. I enjoy working with kids and coaching brings me more joy then anything else I have found so far, yet 2/3 into the summer I was completely spent. My patience was wearing thin and I was starting to resent working as much as I was. The worst part for me was when I noticed that I was starting to slack on the job. I didn’t have the energy or the ability to function and it was starting to show. People around me were continually telling me how tired I looked and asking if I was OK. I felt really bad about this so I continued to push myself harder and harder, thinking maybe I just needed a little more motivation to make it through the long summer. Motivation wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t eating and was getting very little sleep. I was stretched so thin trying to outperform in all of my commitments, that I never had any free time. I was doing everything for everyone else EXCEPT for myself and I was miserable.

Going into the fall semester I continued this trend. I was working hard in school, being vice president of social, trying to go above in beyond for the sorority, trying to be a great girlfriend in my new relationship, volunteering here there and wherever. I was “Dependable Daniella” and you could always count on me. Let’s not mention that I was slowly killing myself. I was running on caffeinated beverages, no sleep and my trusty planner. Food wasn’t in the equation nor was anything that I actually needed. But I was convinced that slowing down wasn’t an option and come hell or high water I was not going to take time for myself.

All of this eventually caught up to me and I am very grateful that it did before it was too late. My therapist convinced me that maybe it was in my best interest to drop some things and focus on taking care of myself. When she first told me this I laughed in her face. After all, I knew how to take care of myself and I would not be the one to break commitments, I was not that selfish. I decided that I would show her. There was no way that I was resentful, bitter, angry or a people pleaser.

As I am sure you figured out, I eventually conceded however I was still convinced that I wasn’t being selfish. My life was slowly crumbling to pieces, but I was convinced that I was in control. I really believed that if I continued to do everything for everyone else, my problems would work themselves out and my life would come together. Boy was I wrong. Resigning from the sorority, dropping out of other commitments and saying no to people was the hardest thing ever yet the worst part of it all was admitting that it was exactly what I needed to do. I needed to be selfish. I needed to take out all of the extra things that were going on in my life and focus on myself. I needed to re-learn how to take care of myself. And this fact was like a knife to my heart. While trying to do everything for everyone else I had forgotten how to take care of myself and needed to do exactly what I had feared for so long. 

Since then, I'd like to believe that I have come a long way. I no longer cringe at hearing the word selfish and my name in the same sentence. I have also gotten better at putting my own needs first when necessary. I can now recognize that when I am not taking care of myself, I really am not that valuable to the people around me. I am still able to "suck it up" and do what needs to get done, but I don't do it with the same passion. For me, being selfish doesn't have a negative connotation anymore. I think everyone needs a healthy dose of selfishness. 

Being selfish isn’t a bad thing nor is taking care of yourself. As I said above, you can’t truly take care of or meet other people’s needs if you aren’t meeting your own. You don’t need to be a martyr. Putting yourself first isn’t a sin. It is only when you have yourself put together and figured out that you can truly be giving towards other people. Being selfish and self centered are not the same thing. No one will fault you for getting your needs me nor will they think any less of you. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The elephant in the room

Sorry for being MIA recently, although I am pretty sure the apology is more to me then anyone else who is possibly reading this.

For those of you who don’t know, I am a cancer survivor. If you are “lucky” enough to be in this club, then you know about the constant check ups and oh-shit-is-it-back? moments, along with the horrible fear when you go in for that scan/blood draw/whatever. And then the best part of all….the WAITING for the results. I am currently in that last stage, playing the waiting game and have been for a few days now and to be quite honest, I am losing at the game and not because of anything relating to cancer. You see, my old friend ED* has been by my side the entire time. We have reconnected like long lost friends and had coffee for old time’s sake. It’s been quite a dandy time. NOT!

If I am completely honest with myself and those around me, it has completely sucked. I have been in a horrible mood and have felt completely awful. My ability to focus has been nonexistent and I have spent a lot extra time working on things because of this. Everything feels like a chore and has seemed much harder than it should be. I have actually sat down like 10 times and tried to write a blog post, but when my brain isn’t working at 100% (or like 80%) the inspiration I have to write and put anything together just isn’t there. I have been short with people and have just lost all of my patience for even the little things, like the slow driver or the group walking hand in hand 5 people long down the side walk. I’ve found myself not only sweating the big stuff, but the little things as well and just not very fun to be around.

So what is the point of this post? If you are still reading now(which I don't blame you if you aren't), I am sure you are wondering. This post is 100% for me as a reminder. A reminder of how quickly things go badly when I give into the eating disorder, that being anxious/stressed/scared/pissed about cancer stuff is normal and probably isn’t going to ever change, that I have REAL friends and family that are by my side and care about me through rough times and that asking for a little extra help/support from those around me is much better than hurting myself. But more so, that this is just a little speed bump in this overall recovery process and fortunately speed bumps don’t last very long. They make shake you up a bit but the foundation is still there, and that is what matters.

For those of you who are banging your head on your desk thinking “why did she give into the stupid eating disorder again?” I am right there with you and have been wondering the same damn thing for the past few days now and am working on figuring out the answer myself.

By the way, although I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day, I hope that everyone has a wonderful one. Remember that today isn’t only about loving someone else but love for youself as well and both of these things should be carried out every day! And a special shout out to my wonderful amazing boyfriend John! <3 *insert something romantic here*.

* the eating disorder in case you are unsure

Friday, February 10, 2012

Asking for & accepting help

We often think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. That we are meant to get through hard times or figure things out on our own, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We all struggle at some point and get overwhelmed with things. Acknowledging that you are having a rough time usually sucks and is not fun to admit but it’s the first step in the process to making it better.

This week has been hard for me. I have a lot of things going on that have made me just want to retreat into a hole and never come out. But it’s pretty lonely in there and I am a little afraid of the dark. I also get a feeling that spiders like dark holes and I need a spider killer.

No man is an island. If someone is offering you a helping hand, take it. This doesn’t reflect poorly on you. This just means that you have amazing friends/family/whoever that love you and want to help. Some times another perspective is all you need to get back on your feet.

If you need help, ask for it. Putting yourself out there and being vulnerable, especially in times of struggle is really hard for anyone to do but it’s also rewarding at the same time. No one is meant to take on this world alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but instead a sign of strength. It takes a lot more courage to ask for a hand or accept one being offered to you then it does to try and hold it all together or do it yourself.

It’s easy to believe that you can handle anything and everything being thrown your way. And maybe you can. But why not make it a little easier on yourself and let somebody help you. Most of us have our arms wide open and are willing to step up to the plate when someone else needs us, but find it hard to allow ourselves to accept the same.

Today I took the high road by letting go of my pride and insecurities and asking for the extra support that I needed. I accepted the offers that were being thrown my way and I am truly grateful that I have such amazing people on my side. As hard as it was I feel like I made the right decision and feel even stronger for it. If I can do it, then anyone really can.

To anyone who reads this: I could use some extra prayers/positive vibes or fingers crossed in my direction. Thanks a lot in advance!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I've got nothing..

I am running a little low on insight and inspiration today (as well as time and energy) but here is a little picture that is really helpful to me. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Putting food in its place

This post is not only relevant to anyone that has struggled with an eating disorder but also to anyone who has ever dieted.

I used to subscribe to the “good/bad” food idea. In fact not only did I subscribe but I was its number one customer. I had a very short list of foods on the good list that I allowed myself to eat and everything else was on the bad list. The deeper I was in the eating disorder, the shorter the good list became.

In recovery I have learned that food is food and that it doesn’t carry any morality. There isn’t one food that is better then the other, nor is one food worse. It really is all relative and we as humans are the ones that give it the power.

If you have ever gone on a diet or struggled with an eating disorder there has probably been a food (or many) that you have completely cut out of your life. By telling yourself that you will no longer eat X, you are giving this food power over you. Most likely you will attach the idea that you are “bad” if you give into this food or lack self control. By doing this you are now setting yourself up for trouble. You have now put this food on an unnecessary pedestal and it will probably be near impossible to resist it. More likely then not, this food becomes the only thing that you wish to eat. In fact, you probably spend a lot of time trying to avoid this food, time that should be spent on more important things.

While actively struggling with the eating disorder I thought about food all of the time. I could honestly say that more than 60% of my day was spent thinking about food and eating. It was a giant time suck and really no way to live. Food is just like air, something that is essential to stay alive and nothing more.

This example that I describe below may sound really odd to someone who has never struggled with an eating disorder but it is the perfect example to get my point across. Please just go with it and feel free to laugh if it sounds completely ridiculous to you, I won’t be offended.

For the longest time I wouldn’t allow myself to have macaroni and cheese. I had convinced myself that this food was “bad” and therefore was to never be eaten by me. With that, every time someone else ate mac and cheese I was so jealous. Hell, I even had dreams about it. It was as if mac and cheese was magical and had power over me. With a lot of coaxing from my nutrition therapist and a desire to beat this eating disorder I finally decided to let this go and try some mac and cheese. For some time I had been imagining how glorious it was going to be. So much so, that I had convinced myself that it was going to be the best thing I had ever eaten. When I finally had some, I was very disappointed. It tasted like cheese and noodles, exactly what it is. Once I allowed myself to take it off of the pedestal that I had created, it was just another food, instead of something special and forbidden.

It may seem far fetched to fear food or eating if you have never suffered from an eating disorder but we as society put food on a pedestal all of the time. How often do you save cake or other desserts for special occasions? Most people “allow” themselves to eat cake at a birthday party but would never consider eating it on a normal day. Why is that? Cake is cake and it doesn’t change depending on the time or occasion.

The key to eating normally is giving yourself permission to eat and letting go of the morality that you have attached to food. I used to believe that if I allowed myself to eat whatever and whenever I wanted that I would never stop eating, especially after denying myself for so long. I also feared that given options I would never choose anything healthy ever again. This hasn’t been true at all.  When you normalize foods by taking them off the pedestal they are now on equal playing fields. A lot of things that I once feared have lost their appeal. Some days I want more cookies or less broccoli, but other days it’s the opposite. Food is just food and shouldn’t be given a higher priority in your life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Being Human

You know those days that just absolutely suck? Today was one of those for me. I am not going to go into all of the reasons on here but just take my word for it, today was a bad day.

I spent the first half of the day trying to follow my normal routine and just go through the motions hoping that it would make me feel a little better. Once I got to the point where I started crying in the middle of Publix I decided that I just needed to call it a day. I spent the second half of the day doing a lot of nothing.

We as a culture have a need to try and fix negative emotions. When someone is sad, we want to cheer them up. When they are angry, we offer solutions to fix the problem. When they are anxious, we tell them to calm down. When someone has a bad day, we usually tell them to suck it up. You know, give them some perspective about how it could be so much worse, how they need to look on the bright side or how there are starving kids in Africa. We tend to make ourselves feel bad or minimize these emotions by comparing them to other people’s situations. You don’t need to justify your problems or feelings to anyone. Let me repeat this. YOU DON”T NEED TO JUSTIFY YOUR PROGLEMS OR FEELINGS TO ANYONE. Everyone reacts differently to things. Some thing that may really upset you may not even bother me, but that doesn’t take away your right to be upset about it.

Today I didn’t want to look on the bright side. I didn’t need anyone telling me that tomorrow was a new day or that things would get better. I didn’t need anyone shoving their wise words of optimism down my throat. I needed to allow myself to feel everything that I was feeling. To be pissed, upset, frustrated, scared and anxious and not worry about anyone's judgment. (Including my own)

Feeling these things used to scare the crap out of me. I thought that I needed to remain positive and optimistic all of the damn time. I thought that if I cried I was weak or if I was angry I was a bad person. I thought that by giving into these emotions I was giving up. I thought that I always had to be the strong one and negative emotions were not included in that persona. I thought that if I allowed myself to feel these things they might not ever go away. That maybe I would turn into negative Nancy and just be the pessimist that everyone hates to be around.

Today I didn’t want to be level headed. I was frustrated and I wanted to be that 5 year old that threw the “this isn’t fair” fit and I didn’t want anyone stopping me. I wanted to try my therapist’s favorite phrase and “sit with” the feelings. I didn’t want to try and distract myself or change them. I know that I could have called a friend or watched a happy/funny movie but I didn’t want to do that. I also didn’t even want to use the eating disorder which for me shows a lot.

Feelings are what make us human and unfortunately we don’t get to pick and choose the ones that we want to feel. Wouldn’t we all love to be happy and optimistic and never feel a hint of anything bad? Of course we would but this isn’t realistic. We all have bad days, hard times in our lives and all of the negative emotions that come with them.  

Next time you find yourself feeling a negative emotion or just having a bad day, remember to be kind to yourself. Try and give yourself the time and space to feel and process it. Even though it may not be fun, it’s not going to last forever. Just like positive feelings, negative feelings come in waves and if dealt with properly won’t last for long.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The People Component

I hate admitting this but some times I forget about people. I get so wrapped up in the work that I am doing and what needs to get done that I lose track of everything else. This has never been as evident to me as it has in the past 5 months. It’s no coincidence that John and I started dating 5 months ago.

Since coming to college I haven’t dated very much. To be quite honest, it’s mostly because I haven’t had the time nor wanted to make the time. Finding a boyfriend was never on the top of my to-do list or even on the bottom for that matter. Family and friends have been bugging me for the past few years about this but I continuously blew it off.

Now I have a boyfriend. Not only do I have a boyfriend but I am in a serious relationship with someone that I love and care very much about. I will not hesitate to say that I can see myself spending the rest of my life with him. With that being said, a lot of the time he gets put on the back burner.

I don’t do this intentionally. I have a really bad habit of getting tunnel vision with whatever I am doing and completely forgetting that other things exist. While this is a good quality as it makes me a hard focused worker, it has its downfalls. It’s also really hard for me to take breaks and have fun when I have other things to do and let’s face it, there are always other things to do. As I have mentioned in other posts, I really value productivity and am very task oriented. If you ask me to do something I will give you 120% yet I am starting to realize that this comes at a big price. It’s impossible (yet I continue to try) for me or anyone to give 120% at everything all of the time.

The first few months that John and I dated we barely ever saw each other. When we did hang out, it was usually very short and over a meal that I was desperately trying to force myself to eat. I was usually so exhausted and overwhelmed by everything else that I was really unable to focus and enjoy his company. I loved spending time with him and he has always made me smile, but I could never completely shake the feeling of “omg-I-have-so-much-work-that-I-should-be-doing”.

Unfortunately I still get this way pretty often yet I’d really like to believe that I am getting better. Now when we hang out, I force myself to temporarily turn off the other parts of my brain and really focus my attention on him and us. Instead of thinking about the paper that I need to write or homework that I need to do, I try really hard to put those things out of my mind temporarily. Since doing this, I find myself really enjoying his company and cherishing the time that we spend together. When we are together I smile and laugh a lot and am really able to relax. I love our spontaneous road trips and adventures and really look forward to them. I enjoy hearing about his day and the things that are going on in his life. Overall, I love being 100% present in whatever we are doing.

I consider myself very lucky. Lucky that I’ve found such an amazingly patient and understanding guy. I still value my commitments and take my work very seriously, yet those are no longer the only things that I value. I care very much about John and our relationship and I am getting better at showing it. Whenever I find myself getting sucked into the old habit of putting everything else first, I force myself to take a step back, stop and re-prioritize. Accomplishing a million things and being successful isn’t really worth it if you don’t have anyone to share it with.

Not only am I working on this aspect of my life with John but with other people as well. Lately I have been taking the time to reconnect with family members and old friends. There is nothing as satisfying then the joy in my grandmother’s voice when I give her a call. If you are anything like me, try really hard to remember the people in your life. I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of them.  Thank you to everyone who has stood by my side, especially when I haven’t deserved it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Doubt- it spreads like a wildfire

Last week I went to visit a professor in order to get a recommendation. After exchanging greetings he told me that he would write me a recommendation if I could answer one question for him. He then proceeded to say, “I am a very busy man and don’t have a lot of free time. People frequently ask me to write them recommendations and I honestly don’t have time to write them all. Why should I write this recommendation for you?” I instantly looked like a deer caught in headlights. My mind had hitched a ride on the self doubt train and was looking for the nearest exit. While struggling to come up with an answer I was wondering why I had even wasted my time, after all there was no way he was ever going to write a recommendation for me. Words came out but they were all over the place and my self doubt was evident. He then asked me why I had come to him in the first place. I explained that it was his class that started my interest in law and passionately spoke for a few minutes about how much his class meant to me and how much I had learned. When I was done he asked me why I hadn’t said all of that in the first place. He explained to me the power of self doubt and how crippling it can be. He also explained how unhelpful it is and how it’s a major factor in a lot of things in life. Much to my surprise he agreed to write me a recommendation.

You don’t get anywhere in life by playing small. If you don’t value and believe in yourself no one else will. Doubting yourself gets you absolutely no where. When applying to jobs and working on applications I find it really hard to sell myself. I range from being unsure of my abilities to not wanting to sound arrogant. I usually play it on the safe side and end up really downplaying whatever I am saying. This has never once helped me. If you doubt yourself, other people are going to doubt you as well. Would you ever hire someone who was unsure of their ability to do the job? What about if your surgeon told you he doubted his ability to perform your surgery? Doubting is contagious.

Luckily enough, confidence is contagious as well. When you are sure of yourself other people catch on to that. The people who believe that they can do something are usually the people who end up doing it. Believing in yourself is half the battle. If you think you are the right person for a job then say so. If you believe in yourself then other people will believe in you as well. There is nothing more inspiring then someone with confidence.

I have been blessed with many opportunities in my life, ranging from job experiences to volunteer gigs. Deep down inside I know that these weren’t based on luck but instead on the abilities that I posses. Next time I am asked the question that I was above I am not going to hesitate. I will stand up for my abilities and have confidence in what I am saying. Even if I don’t get the job/recommendation/whatever, at least I know that I gave it my all, and this sounds much more beneficial then uming and ahing while trying to plan an escape route.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Finding the joy in exercise

I have recently started running again after 5 months of doing absolutely nothing as far as exercising goes. I use the term running very loosely here. Some days I am running whereas most other days I am jogging but mostly trying to avoid tripping. (Enjoy the visual!)

Exercise has always been a big part of my life. I have been blessed with a body that is naturally pretty athletic and a passion for moving it. I am one of those crazy people that really do enjoy exercising. It makes me feel strong, capable and helps me clear my mind. I also enjoy the sense of accomplishment that it brings.

From age 10 to now there have been very few times in my life when I haven’t been actively taking part in some sport. In middle and high school I swam competitively and played water polo. In college I have done intramural sports, fitness classes and spent a lot of time in the gym. A year and a half ago I became interested in triathlons and have been hooked ever since.

I truly believe that exercising should be fun and should be done for the right reasons. A little disclaimer here: the reasons that are right for me may not be the reasons that are right for you and vice versa.

Just like a lot of other things in my life I have been stuck in the cycle of compulsive/obsessive exercise many times. I have started out doing something because I truly enjoyed it and then got sucked in to the point of no return. Part of this is eating disorder related and the other part is just my drive for achievement. Right now I am learning where to draw the line and that the line for me is a pretty hazy one.  

Yesterday I went for a wonderful run. Not only did I run a decent distance but I was connected to everything around me and my body. I wasn’t listening to music but instead focused on the beautiful scenery. My body felt good and my legs felt strong. I honestly felt like I could have run forever. The run wasn’t planned, a distance wasn’t mapped out, no time was involved and I don’t actually think I even had my watch on. (Which is also a heart rate monitor and does a bunch of other fancy things) It was awesome.

Now let’s rewind to a few weeks ago. I had set my alarm the night before to get up and run the following morning. When the alarm went off I hit snooze about 3 times which is unheard of for me. When I finally did get up, running was the last thing that I wanted to do. But off to the closet I went to get my sneakers and running clothes. I was dreading this before I even walked out the door. As I walked past my roommate’s room I was jealous that she was still sleeping. (As if anyone but myself was stopping me from doing the same.) About two miles into the run I stopped and said wtf? I was tired, my body was sore and my mind was berating myself for motivation. At that time I realized that motivation wasn’t what I needed but instead to go back home and do something else. I walked the rest of the way home and then went on with the rest of my day.

These two instances are very different and it doesn’t take a genius to see that. The difference wasn’t my ability or motivation but instead my reasoning. Yesterday I wanted to run because it was nice out and it sounded like a great way to start my day. Last week I went running because I felt like I should and honestly to burn some extra calories. The desire and want wasn’t there at all. Every fiber of my being was telling me that I didn’t want to do it but off I went. And the experiences were drastically different.

When it comes to exercise I am not someone that needs to be pushed or motivated. In fact, it’s the days that my mind is doing the pushing that I really need to back off. I do not believe exercising should be used as punishment or with the sole purpose of losing weight. I think it should be used for positive reasons and only if it’s what you wish to be doing.

I know that every run for me isn’t going to be as amazing as the experience that I have described above. There have been other days where I am half way into a mile and I feel like a snail could pass me. Some days I end up walking a lot more then running/jogging. But it is those days when I notice the difference and I really see how much my attitude has changed. I consider those “runs” as successful as all of my other runs because now I define success differently. It isn’t about time, distance or speed but instead about enjoyment, being in touch with my body and having fun. I am still VERY competitive and do plan on signing up for a few 5k’s and possibly even a half marathon soon, yet I don’t plan on following any rules or training plans.

Running isn’t for everyone. It’s important to figure out what type of exercise is right for you, if you choose to exercise. I know some people that love yoga and Pilates. The one time I tried yoga I was almost kicked out of the studio because I turned into a 10 year old immature boy that found every position hilarious. Some people enjoy working out at the gym. For me, being in the gym isn’t fun and it just turns on that compulsive part of my brain. I have a lot of friends who enjoy fitness classes yet I was not blessed in the rhythm department.

Like I mentioned above, I love exercising and I am pretty positive that it will always play a big part in my life, yet I want it to continue to be something that I enjoy. I don’t want to continue down the same path that I have been down many times. For me, it’s about stopping and asking myself “why am I doing this?’ and taking an honest look at my reasoning. It’s also about giving myself breaks and resting when I am sore and tired. Most importantly it’s about having fun.

Disclaimer: The past few posts have been talking about having fun and doing things that you WANT to do. I realize that in life we have to do a lot of things that we don’t want to do or don’t necessarily enjoy. But everything doesn’t have to be like that. I am not suggesting that you slack off in responsibilities or blow things off because you don’t want to do them. Life does require a bit of sucking it up. But for me, its learning that is doesn’t always have to be about that and that everything doesn’t work that way.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Serenity Prayer

I wasn't going to write anything substantial today, but while running this morning I thought of something that I wanted to talk about. In between the research work that I have been doing I was able to throw together a post. I didn't have as much time to look over it as I have had for the other few posts so there is a good chance that there are twice as many grammar/spelling mistakes. Just go with it and if you are a grammar/spelling Nazi have a field day!

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference."

I hate this quotation. Not because it isn’t awesome or very good advice but because it’s so hard for me to do. I like fixing things and I like to believe that I can fix/change anything.

 Unfortunately I can’t and this is a really tough pill for me to swallow. I have the tendency to become way to over committed in a lot of things and even other peoples lives. I have a strong sense of social obligation and tend to take on tasks and problems that I really shouldn’t. A lot of the time I believe that it’s my job to fix something when it really isn’t any of my business. When other people do not step up for something I feel like it is my duty to do so. This eventually leads to me becoming exhausted, burnt out and even resentful. I also tend to step on peoples toes, overstep boundaries and can become a little bossy and controlling. Taking a step back is really hard for me to do. Admitting that I CAN”T change something and more so that is ISN’T my job to is like a knife to the heart.

Lately I have been working on a lot of things in my life. Recovering from an eating disorder is not only teaching me how to take care of myself and eat like a “normal” person, but is also showing me a different lens to view the world. I have become much more aware of my problems and the patterns that I fall into in my life. I am also continuously working on fixing those problems and trying to prevent them from occurring again.

Through all of this I am trying to rebuild relationships with friends and family along the way. In the past few months I have distanced myself from a lot of things. I have lost touch with a lot of close friends and some activities that I have always been apart of. I have broken commitments and at times I’ve become a bit of a flake.

This has all been very distressing to me because it’s the complete opposite of how I normally am. Yet recently I have realized that it was exactly what I needed. When I get caught up in doing everything for everyone else, whether or not I should be, I completely forget about myself. Instead of fixing the things that were going on in my life I was trying to solve everyone else’s problems and it wasn’t working.

As ridiculous as this may sound, a lot of days I have to remind myself that I am a 24 year old human and not God. Not only does the entire world not fall on my shoulders it’s selfish to think it does. Admitting that I can’t do everything has been a humbling experience. Some days I still fall into the same trap of trying to take on to much or fix something that isn’t mine to fix, yet I am learning. In this process I am also learning to trust other people and their capabilities. I am realizing that I am not the only person meant for a job and even more so, that some of the time there is a better more suited person for it. I am learning that I don’t need to be in charge or in a leadership role all of the time. It’s been fun watching other people step up and excel at things I normally do. It’s been nice to watch from the outside and watch how things unfold without stepping in. It’s strengthened my faith in other people and has taught me a lot about myself. 

I can’t fix/change/control everything and I am learning to be ok with that. I guess that is the wisdom part of the equation.