Tag Archives: Books

Unless.

I know I just blogged yesterday, but I had an interesting conversation today about the idea of recovery, and I had some insights that I thought were worth sharing. Maybe I’m way off-base, but it’s worth a shot.

Often, when people share their stories of recovery, they talk about the motivation to change, that magic moment when they realize that things are awful and they want to make things better. WGT often says, “You can’t just white-knuckle recovery.” As much as y’all know I love and respect her, I have to respectfully disagree – conditionally. When I hear that “some part of you has to decide you’re worth something more”, I think of The Lorax:

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If I had waited until I cared “a whole awful lot”, or felt worthy enough, I’d be dead right now. I never would have believed I was sick enough, was worth the food I was supposed to put in my body, or have been scared enough about dying to change.  My decision to start eating wasn’t based on any of that. I was sick of hurting people around me, and really didn’t want to go in the hospital again. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it on my terms, and I had a very small window in which to get my act together. Otherwise, I’d have no choice but to do it as an inpatient.

I white-knuckled it. I made the change by choosing to eat before each meal and each snack. It was torture, and the self-loathing was hell, but it was torture and hell starving to death as well.  I was trading one hell for another. The only difference was that this hell had a pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel. And, hey, if you’ve starved yourself down once, you can always do it again if this “recovery” thing doesn’t pan out, right?

I’m not suggesting, though, that white-knuckling it is the permanent solution. Here, I’m in agreement with WGT. Now that my weight is stable, and I don’t feel like I’m going to die every minute of every day, it’s really hard to find the motivation to keep going. Now is the time when I have to find something more. I have to learn to care “a whole awful lot”. My brain couldn’t have handled that while it was starving, though. It can barely handle forging new neuro-pathways now. Nonetheless, I’m doing it.

If you’re waiting for the right moment to make the change, it’s now. I’m not expecting perfection – just try. I hear you when you say you can’t. I understand. But if you’re waiting for the sign, this is it:

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It won’t be easy, but it won’t get any easier the longer you let whatever it is you’re fighting go on. If, like me, your battle is an eating disorder, I’m not telling you “Just EAT.” What I’m telling you is to make one step towards change. Join a group. Find a therapist. Maybe add an apple to your meal plan. Just keep trying. Embrace your white knuckles until you can find something more.

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Manifesting Destiny

I’ve talked more than once on here about my awesome therapist (Finally decided on a code name: WGT aka World’s Greatest Therapist). So, WGT has many “isms” and two of them in particular apply to today’s topic:

1. Whenever I get sick, she never fails to ask me, “What’s your body trying to tell you?”

and

2. Whenever I’m freaking out about something that might happen in the future, she tells me that it probably will happen, because I’m devoting so much negative energy towards it.

I said she was awesome, I didn’t say she was warm and cuddly (at least not ALL the time).

So remember those two points while I give you a little bit of backstory. You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been pretty anti-holiday for most of the year (well, since I started blogging, but I assure you, it’s been most of the year). I was dreading Christmas this year, and freaked out repeatedly about scheduling, food, seeing people I hadn’t seen in a while, and the holiday itself. I got as many details squared away as possible, and had the whole holiday planned out, nearly down to the minute. Over-planning makes me feel better about most things, because I’m just not ready to tackle spontaneity. With the details sorted out,  I was starting to look forward to Christmas. The plan wasn’t perfect, but it seemed the best option given the circumstances.

Then, on Sunday night, I get hit with this:

No, I was not asked to star in a holiday production of Swan Lake. Nor did I turn into Natalie Portman. No, I didn’t get knocked up out-of-wedlock (although that would have been in keeping with the holiday theme: Jesus being a bastard and all). I got struck with what they call, “viral conjunctivitis”. While that’s what “they” call it, most people know it as Pink Eye. The kind that can’t be treated with antibiotics. The kind that’s contagious as long as your eyes are pink and crusty and gross. The kind that lasts 8-10 days (although my dad very kindly googled an optimistic article that says 65% of cases clear up in 3-5 days). The kind that means I have to miss work and can’t make money to pay off my Christmas Visa bill. Worst of all, the kind that means I’ll probably have to miss Christmas.

So after freaking out and wanting to skip Christmas, the Universe heard me and said “Ok, here’s your “out”‘. Never mind that I changed my mind about it, the Universe only heard my negativity. If you haven’t read “The Secret“, do. It teaches you all about this stuff, and makes you terrified of every negative thought that crosses your mind. It’s more fun than it sounds. I promise.

That takes care of the 2nd part of the WGTisms. I’m still not sure what my body is trying to tell me with this one. It’s probably just trying to remind me to keep taking care of myself while WGT is on vacation. It would be too easy to consider these two weeks a “free pass” to be symptomatic.  Maybe it’s just telling me I’m too old to wear glitter eyeshadow anymore . . . I’ll keep thinking on this one and let you know . . .

So now for a little pity party (the only holiday party I’ll be attending whilst looking like the Eye of Sauron): while I’m thinking positively that my eyes are on the road to recovery and I won’t infect my entire immediate and extended family, I may be spending my first Christmas alone. I was going to get to spend Christmas Eve thru Morning with my cousin, her husband, and my godson, who is just old enough to appreciate opening his stocking this year. Christmas Day afternoon I was going to my childhood home for the first time in a year, and see family members I haven’t seen in 12-18 months. Boxing Day (the 26th, for all you non-Canucks (Canadians, for those of you who don’t know our national nickname)) was a party with the other side of my extended family, and I had a damned good gift for the pirate gift exchange this year.

Ugh. I sound fucking whiny. I hate that. So let’s wrap the whininess up in a moral: Be careful what you wish (or don’t wish) for, especially when wishing upon the Christmas star. Yes, my eyes look very festive (red and green), but nobody’s gonna get to see them, save for my mirror. So send a little positive, healing energy my way this holiday season, if you can spare any.

Oh! One positive thing that came out of all this: when I woke up Monday and the eye grossness hadn’t gone away, I called my MD. Her office’s voicemail told me she’d moved away, and the number it gave me was a dead-end. So I trekked to a Walk-in Clinic I had visited this summer (and looked cleaner than the one nearest my house). A really nice doctor diagnosed me, and I explained my “My doctor abandoned me!” predicament. She told me that while she wasn’t officially accepting new patients, she’d take me on. So, hooray! Pink Eye got me a new awesome doctor! Maybe my body was telling me that it was time to stop avoiding the doctor and get a check up . . . hmmmmmmm.

I will keep you posted on the saga of eye goo, and what my Christmas will look like . . . hopefully not me on my couch watching Christmas movies ad nauseam, as fun as that would be on, say, a random Tuesday night . . . like tonight. Holiday Inn is on AMC. It’s the movie that debuted the song “White Christmas”. Most people think it originated in the movie “White Christmas”, but most people are WRONG! Musical Theatre Encyclopedia strikes again.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and a blessed Winter Solstice to you all.

Source: bing.com via Kelly on Pinterest

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On Judging a Book By Its Cover

In the last post, I revisited an even older post where I discussed a book called “Maggie Goes On A Diet”. I had seen it discussed on many tv shows and news broadcasts, and was horrified by the excerpts they showed. Having decided at age three that I was too fat, (I wasn’t) I was terrified of what such a book could mean for little girls in similar situations. In the interest of making my point and being my usual sassy self, I was pretty hard on both the book and its author, Paul M. Kramer.

Well, apparently Mr. Kramer found my blog, because I received this comment on my last post:

Hi Kelly,
I am Paul Kramer, the auther of “Maggie Goes On A Diet” and now the alternate version called, “Maggie Eats Healthier”. While I do not think it was appropriate or fair of you to write and say bad things about “Maggie Goes On A Diet” especially since you have not read the book. I will excuse you for jumping to conclusions and judging a book by its cover and by hearsay and innuendo. Would you be willing to actually read this children’s book and then judge it again by its content(heart) and can you and would you
be able to judge it without bias and give it the opportunity it deserves? I hope so. My email is below.

He made a good point. I hadn’t read the book, I was just going off of what the media had told me. And really, isn’t that a lot of what I’m fighting against, writing this blog? I responded to him via comment and email.

I appreciated his willingness to approach me to open a discussion and not just dismiss me as a random “hater”. He appreciated my willingness to reconsider my position. I knew I’d be able to be honest with him, as he told me, “Whatever you may have to say about it, you will have had the benefit of reading it first.” (Mr. Kramer gave me permission to quote anything from our conversations here.) He sent me the new version, “Maggie Eats Healthier”

Source: ibtimes.com via Kelly on Pinterest

 

 

Now, while I’m still cautious about eating a lot of things, I’m not above eating my words. Mr. Kramer has a good message to share in a very well-written book. He has tackled a very tricky issue in a very different way than the media portrayed it. Let this be a lesson to us all: the media doesn’t always tell you the whole story. Ba dum bum tchhhhhhh.

Coming from my life experiences, I tend to see things through a different lens than someone who has never had an eating disorder, and a different lens again than people who need to lose weight for health reasons. As a result, I still had some issues with the book, and I took the opportunity to share my experiences with Mr. Kramer.

I liked that Maggie eating healthier included a variety of REAL foods, not any of that diet crap, and she allowed herself an occasional treat. One of my early issues with the book, however, was that Maggie’s “before” binge was on bread and cheese, both of which are on my “healthy” meal plan, but which I would have cut out of my diet in a heartbeat as a child, out of fear of ending up like “before” Maggie. She does eat sandwiches in her healthy meal plan, as well as dairy, which I like. I asked Mr. Kramer about the “breads and cheeses”, and he told me:

I could have been any kind of food. I choose bread and cheeses including some cheddar because it sort of rhymes with better.

That makes sense. And while it doesn’t change how my eating disordered brain twists it, it was not intended as a caution against those foods.

There were a few moments later on that bothered me, but they were just nit-picky things that we both agreed were a matter of perspective. My only other major issue with the book is the focus on the amount of weight Maggie loses in specific numbers. From my email:

I like that you focus on Maggie getting healthier, and that you cite that as the reason behind her improved skills and social life, but I think you could do that without the focus as much on the numbers involved. Eating disorders thrive on competition, and knowing that Maggie lost 51 lbs in 10 months would have given me a goal, no matter what my starting weight was. Children should focus on the health aspect, not learn to define their worth by their dress size or the number on the scale.

He conceded that I had a valid point. It was nice to be able to open up a conversation with him on this subject, and in such a respectful way. I think we both learned something, and were able to appreciate how different perspectives can make the same things look very different.

One benefit of this book is that it allows children to make their own decisions about healthy eating. Nobody tells Maggie how or what to eat, she just decides she’s sick of being out of breath when playing sports and that she wants to improve her health. That is a good goal for anyone. A lot of problems occur when parents put the focus on weight and appearance, because it can get confused when children begin to associate love with thinness. While I immediately fear how far it could be taken in the wrong direction, it has been inspirational for children who don’t know how to make changes in their own lives. Here is the link to feedback Mr. Kramer has received from experts.

As Mr. Kramer said,

. . . the only silent rule was to love yourself by eating more nutritiously . . .

and that’s something most of us could learn from.

I would like to apologize publicly to Mr. Kramer for judging him and his book without giving either a fair chance. I should also apologize to Dr. Michael Salzhauer for my comments on his book, “My Beautiful Mommy”, which I also have never read. In his case, he is simply trying to explain plastic surgery to children without telling them, “Mommy has issues with herself, and thinks they’ll be fixed if she changes the way she looks”. The issue is not with the book, it’s with the example being set for children by their parents.

I would also like to thank Mr. Kramer for challenging me to have an open mind, and for giving me the opportunity to better myself as a person. In the age of a hate-filled internet, we need to hold each other accountable to basic human decency.

On that note, I’d like to leave you with a poem written by Mr. Kramer. It sums up the sentiment beautifully.

BORN NAKED AND EQUAL

Look people right in the eye,

for no person is better than you.

You have the right to be who you are,

turning away, you choose to do.

You need never be ashamed.

You were chosen by the process of birth.

You are not inferior to anyone.

Naked and equal everyone entered this earth.

Some had less fortunate beginnings.

Some had more challenges than others.

Many had to overcome constant obstacles.

Many grew up without fathers or mothers.

We are all God’s children.

Our existence we need not justify.

Be not afraid to stand straight and tall,

then look everyone right in the eye.

Paul M. Kramer

July 17, 2006

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It’s been a while . . .

*****PLEASE READ MY FOLLOW UP TO THIS POST HERE*****


. . . but never fear: there’s enough idiocy in the world to keep me ranting for years.

Back in September, I wrote a post wherein I proclaimed “Maggie Goes On A Diet” to be the Worst. Book. Ever. Well, while watching daytime tv (again . . . this time Anderson Cooper’s new show), I discovered a book that gives it a run for its money.

Meet “My Beautiful Mommy

Basically, “Mommy” is getting plastic surgery, and this is a book to help her explain to her 4- to 7-year-old child what’s going to happen. Mommy explains, “You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn’t fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better.”
So . . . as little 6-year-old Maggie (remember her from Maggie Goes On A Diet?) looks in the mirror, she sees her tummy stretching out as she grows, and her clothes don’t fit as she gets bigger, she’s going to know that something is wrong with her and needs “fixing”. Hopefully, Mommy is smart enough not to allow her child plastic surgery, but that just means that little Maggie is going to look for other ways to fix her body. Maybe there’s another book out there that can teach her how to diet . . . oh wait, there is.
Moms of the world, stop damaging your children in your endless quest for perfection. Health is one thing . . . vanity is another. Fix your issues before you pass them onto your children. You can either pay for your therapy now, or your child’s therapy ten years from now.
Here’s a video from ABC News explaining the book.

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Day 7 – With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

“4 Books”

My Favorite Book Series

Oh, asking me to choose four books would be like asking Liza Minnelli to chose four sequined garments . . . there are just too many to choose from! I think I’m going to pick four categories, and pick a favorite in each . . . or at least attempt to.

1. Favorite Inspirational: Fierce Medicine by Ana Forrest – Yes, Jenni Schaefer’s books have helped me through rough spots, and The Language of Letting Go is my daily read, but Fierce Medicine is such an incredible story. Part memoir, part yoga, part surviving life, anyone can get something wonderful out of this book. It will literally change your life.

2. Favorite Childhood story: Foo by Richard Thomas – This book has always been a special one for my dad and me. It’s the story of a girl named Jesse, who blows “foo” kisses to say goodnight to people far away. We still send foo kisses to this day.

3. Favorite Fiction: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – Such a good book. A commentary on religion, women, family, and how much our thoughts determine our lives.

4. Favorite Non-Fiction: Unbearable Lightness by Portia deRossi – A beautiful, raw, honest memoir of what it means to struggle with an eating disorder, and that it’s possible to one day be free.

Again, I could have picked 20 more books in each of these categories. I’m always on the lookout for a new read. Toss your favorites in the comment box if you dare!

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Day 2 – All You Need Is Love

Day 2 of the 10 day challenge is

“9 Loves”

So here goes.

1. Family and friends. Duh. Pretty sure you’re an asshole if you don’t include this.

2. Music. For so many years, the only way I could express myself was through song. It was always safer to say how I felt using someone else’s words, made more beautiful by the music. A good song can make you feel things you didn’t know you had inside you, and can allow you to breathe when you didn’t know you’d been holding your breath.

3. Nature. Trees, birds, flowers, the sky, butterflies . . . all things that make the world more beautiful and remind you that, even when everything looks dark in your life, there is light and freedom available to you, if you open your eyes.

4. Judy Garland. We covered this last post, but that woman never fucking gave up, and lived to make the world a better place through her art. You gotta love that kind of determination and, well, love.

5. Tea. I was a coffee girl for a lot of years, and it was a big part of my eating disorder. This summer, I discovered David’s Tea. They have the greatest collection of loose leaf teas in every variety: white, green, black, oolong, pu’erh, mate, rooibos, and herbal, and about a million flavors to choose from. My favorites are Forever Nuts and Mom’s Apple Pie. They help me get in my water content for the day (still a battle), and taste like a big hug.

6. Books. I’m a big nerd. I always have at least one book on the go (I think I have 4 right now), and love to escape into a good story. I also love auto/biographies . . . You can learn a lot from real people. Some of my favorite books are: The Wizard of Oz series (I have 10 of the originals, including a couple 2nd editions. My dream is to own a first edition of The Wizard of Oz), The Red Tent by Anita Diamant,  Dancer by Colum McCann and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Auto- and biographies: Get Happy about Judy Garland, Alan Alda’s books, and old Hollywood autobiographies, because they use old-timey language (Kate Hepburn, Fred Astaire, etc.) Oh! I also really like The Hunger Games trilogy.

7. Keeping on the über nerd theme, I fucking love learning. I was born curious: my dad tells the story of how, when I was born, the doctor lifted me up and I was already straining against his hands to turn my head and look around me. Nowadays, I’m still fascinated about everything. If I learn a little bit about something, I want to know everything about it. I like learning to craft to: just learned how to knit, so I can make Christmas presents for everyone . . . I overestimated myself, though, and all my friends and family might have to share one scarf . . . Also, once I learn how to do something and have mastered it, I never want to do it again, because the fun of learning how to do it is gone. Oh well. At least this nerdiness will come in handy, since I will have to go back to school if I want a good career . . .

8. All things vintage. I firmly believe I was meant to live sometime between 1920 and 1950. I love the fashion, I love the artwork, the music, the movies, old pictures, old people . . . Another dream is to own a vintage Kelly bag. Come on. It’s got my name! I have to have one!

9. Finally, even though I retired from it, I still love musical theatre and performing. Basically, it makes me believe in a happily ever after. It’s like G.K. Chesterton says about fairy tales:

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Thanks for caring enough to read . . . anyone willing to post a love or two? No takers so far on the secrets . . . hmmm.

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Stuff like this makes me wish I’d titled the blog simply, “WTF?”

*****PLEASE READ MY FOLLOW UP TO THIS POST HERE*****

So, in my crazy amounts of time off, I get to sit down and enjoy my breakfast with either reruns of Frasier, Good Morning America, or, if I’ve had a rare sleep-in, Regis and Kelly. For those of you reading this blog after November, Regis Philbin was a daytime talk show host whose Bronx accent confused me as a child: “Why does nobody get that man a speech therapist so he can learn to say his R’s?”

Regis gets a “pep talk”
This is a picture of Regis I took at a 2009 taping of Live with Regis and Kelly. The blonde hair belongs to his co-host, Kelly Ripa. The devil on his shoulder? The show’s producer, best known by his last name, most often heard shouted from the lips of Mr. Philbin himself: Gelman!

But I digress.

One morning, while eating at my non-sleep in time, I saw a feature on Good Morning America. Apparently some douchebag children’s author (Paul M. Kramer) out there decided to write a children’s book titled “Maggie Goes On A Diet”.

General synopsis: 

14-year-old Maggie gets made fun of for her weight, which makes her sad, so she binges on “lots of bread and cheeses” to stuff down her feelings. Maggie then goes on a diet and exercises to lose weight. Suddenly, skinny Maggie has friends and is a soccer star.  None of which she could have done if she were still fat.

Worst. Book. Ever.

WHAT THE FUCK!?!? Okay. I know there’s a huge problem with obesity in North America, but this book is being marketed to 6-year-old girls! No child needs to run on a treadmill while holding dumbbells. And, unless you have an allergy, nobody EVER needs to cut foods out of their diet entirely. Teaching children that some foods are good and some foods are bad is like handing them a loaded gun . . . one that shoots an unending monologue of self-hatred directly into their brains.

I have clear memories of kindergarten nap time, listening to the teacher read stories of fairy tale princesses. These were enough to put the seed in my 5-year-old mind of “My thighs are too fat to ever be a fairy tale princess”. Imagine if Sleeping Beauty had featured a step-by-step guide of how to slim that pesky child-belly into a more princess-like shape. That’s essentially what Maggie is doing. If my (not overweight in the slightest) child self had read this book, you can bet I would have been begging for a treadmill for Christmas, and cutting bread and cheese out of my diet.

Even now, more than 20 years older and wiser, I hear this story and immediately panic about my own meal plan. It contains both bread AND cheese, and not just until I’m at a healthy weight, but both will be in my “maintenance” meal plan as well.  Suddenly I’m looking at them and wondering if everything I’ve learned these past months is wrong and there really are bad foods . . . (There aren’t, just in case you are wondering. Only foods that should be enjoyed in moderation. There are some questionable food combinations out there *ahem Denny’s*, but no natural, unprocessed food is bad)

This book, while I’m sure well-intentioned, is CANCER. I beg of you, PLEASE don’t let anyone you know buy this book. Teach your children about health, REAL health, yourself and make sure the information they hear doesn’t get corrupted by those who think the word “diet” is a verb.

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