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And the Beat Goes On

For as long as I can remember, I have found solace in music. Whether I was throwing myself into piano practice or blasting industrial “noise” as loudly as my eardrums could tolerate, I longed for the sweetness of rhythm and melody, the objectivity of notes and measures and time signatures. Even my first tattoo is a visualization of this feeling–a woman floating, peaceful and untethered, held aloft by nothing more than the gentle pulse of song.

Most recently I’ve had the pleasure of beginning to learn some basic drum skills. (A thanks goes out to my patient and ever-encouraging teacher…you know who you are.) I’d never imagined the drum set an easy instrument to master, though I have to admit I was unaware just how brain-splitting the entire process is! And I’ve not even managed to move beyond the basics (bass, snare, hihat)! Regardless, I am enjoying myself immensely and, given the absence of a set to regularly practice on, find myself occasionally air-drumming in the manner of some beat-obsessed lunatic.

Each time I sit down to play I first must overcome the introvert within, who screams in fear of making a giant ruckus. Once I begin, however, I find that the opposition to making noise lessens to the point of extinction, and I am able to find pleasure in my self-created cacophony.

I suppose the lesson in this, my friends, is: Try something new. Make some noise! Let your spirit run a little wild and to hell with the opposition.

My Autumn Bliss-List

I can hardly believe summer is drawing to a close. The past few months have brought change and a renewed sense of hope to my life. For the first time in my years of disordered eating, I am actively challenging myself to previously feared foods and doing so with minimal guilt. Only yesterday, a friend and I popped into the local Coldstone and treated ourselves to swirls of tangerine and pink lemonade sorbet then sat outside laughing and swatting away mosquitoes. Bug swarms aside, this is what I have craved for so long–not just the eating of tasty things but the enjoyment and pleasure brought by the experience of trying new foods and opening myself to life and the joy it has to offer.

As autumn nears, so does a whole new set of potentially blissful moments. I’ve seen a few people posting “bucket lists” for the fall months, and since I’ve never made one, I’m jumping on the trend.

“MoPB (Moments of Potential Bliss)” List 

  • Take an evening walk in crisp, cool air
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Try a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (or similar autumn-themed drink)
  • Attend the Johnny Appleseed Festival
  • Do a leaf craft (such as this one)
  • Bake an apple dessert
  • Watch a ridiculous old horror film
  • Decorate apartment with jewel tones (and burn spice-scented candles)
  • Donate sweaters and jackets to Goodwill
  • Go for a hike once the leaves turn

What are you looking forward to this fall? What possible moments of bliss could you open yourself to?

I once read an article about eating disorder relapse and about the little red flags each of us have that might signal things are starting to go south in the recovery department. Awareness of oneself and of one’s personal triggers is so important, and yet here I am, knee-deep in the muck of disordered behaviors and symptoms. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention or maybe I was just too preoccupied with other goings-on to truly care. I always find it strange that one day can be all it takes–one day of restricting, one day of binge eating, one day of sadness or self-loathing–to plop you right back on your ass.

I suppose what I am trying to say is…know your body, know your mind and know how to identify when you are headed in the wrong direction. For me, it’s:

  • increased obsessive-compulsive behavior about weighing food (i.e. taking a single blueberry out of the bowl because it puts me one gram over the amount listed for a single serving)
  • increased obsessive-compulsive behavior in non-food-related areas
  • ritualistic use of specific silverware
  • rigid eating schedules (i.e. 12pm, 3pm, 6pm and 9pm)
  • continually decreasing caloric values for meals
  • ignoring hunger and relying on non-caloric beverages
  • body-checking  (examining perceived fat in the mirror, feeling the body for flaws)

Fuck the disordered noise in your head and hang on to whatever shred of fight you can find within yourself. You are worth it. Click here for more information on eating disorders, relapses and how to find help.

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer… And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger–something better, pushing right back.” Albert Camus

Our FIRST Mental Health Monday (as declared by me)

This morning I had a truly vulnerable conversation which got me thinking a great deal about feelings of self-worth and of how, too often perhaps, we fall into the trap of allowing others to define our value as human beings. I’m guilty of this more often than I’d like to admit–someone hurts me and my thoughts rush straight to Toxic-World. 

The obvious flaw in this line of thought is that by giving others the permission to define our self-worth we relinquish control of our mental health (and physical health, by proxy). 

Ponder this with me, if you will. Do your best to let go of the questions, the “why’s”, the “how’s”, the “what if’s” and just accept, even if for only a moment, that the actions of others do not negate (nor create) the meaning you have as a unique and powerful person. Your importance is innate to you. It exists simply because you are. 

 

Little life changes and a bit on mindfulness

I have been absent for awhile, as events in my life have forced me to re-examine the way I’ve been living, the way I think and the way I carry out my beliefs on a day-to-day basis. I think it sometimes takes a minor crisis to get my attention. With that being said, I’ve developed a renewed focus on being aware of myself and staying mindful in the individual moments of my day. As a chronic worrier, my mind is often a step ahead in another dimension, so this is a titanic task (oooh, I love accidental alliteration).

Being mentally present may reveal a new perspective on the world--a new way of looking at familiar surroundings.

Being mentally present may reveal a new perspective on the world–a new way of looking at familiar surroundings.

In college, I gave a speech about mindful eating. I passed out Hershey’s kisses and asked everyone to look at the chocolate, smell it and finally allow it to melt on their tongues. Eating slowly, using your senses, allows your body to truly grasp what is happening as you nourish yourself. Too often we are in a rush, focused on something else or just too tired to go through this process. And I understand that! I was always eating in front of the television, shoving food into my face without paying attention. The end result? I often felt unsatisfied and reached for more food that I didn’t need.

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” rashaski

One of the newest goals for myself has been to 1) make meals I enjoy 2) arrange them in an attractive manner 3) set the table and 4) turn off the damn television. Without the added distraction, I feel I am able to get more enjoyment out of my meals, leaving me sated and not needing seconds (or triggering a massive binge). I know this is going to be a lengthy process and though I’m not “permitting” slip-ups I’m sure there will be some along the way. Regardless, I feel this is an important aspect of my recovery and of learning that food is not the enemy.

My challenge to everyone is to give mindfulness a chance. Could you sit quietly for even one meal a day? How does doing so change the experience of eating? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more on mindful eating, check out this link. I love these suggestions!

A Single White Goose

Standing brightly among the plethora of Canadian geese is a single white goose. I’ve named her Genevieve.

goose

Check out those gorgeous feathers! (Appreciate, don’t ogle.)

I’ve seen Genevieve all over town–on the sidewalk by the park, swimming alone on the river. I can’t figure out why she is always the only one of her type or why she is generally alone. (Any goose experts out there?)

As I am wont to do, I’ve been personifying this solitary white goose. She’s a loner, independent. She stands in stark contrast to her environment but doesn’t care! No inadequacies here, Genevieve knows who she is and isn’t afraid to show it.

M’dears…if you’re feeling insecure, look to Genevieve and be your big, bad, beautiful self!

goose2

The Vegan Oddball is really weird. Quack! (I really just typed that…)