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Of all the quibbles that may carry on in these modern days of Thanks&Giving surely we can find the time to reflect a bit deeper and capture renewed meaning this Thanksgiving Day.
-Wishing all a Very Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
 
_____________________
For, after all,
put it as we may to ourselves,
we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread.
The sun, the earth, love, friends,
our very breath are parts of the banquet….
Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host,
and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?
-Rebecca Harding Davis
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aries

With record snow falls today it was a just the kind of day to round up some friends and available family members to go snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, or if neither were available, a well boot-up hike- though you hustled a bit faster to keep up.

Usually the skiing kicks in later this month, right around Christmas break and throughout the rest of the winter, whenever good snow and tracks are easy to find or make. And living in a metro-urban city hasn’t stopped this faved activity in the least, although we are fortunate to have patches of wooded areas and a major lake providing a spectacular view in any season. I think we were all captured by Winter Solstice awe, and yet conscious of a special someone who is still not with us- yet.

Gathering at the last minute, though for some was not possible with the drive, was one of those quirky “T” (moi) -things I end up being happy I did. Making vegetarian chili with eggplant subji (the eggplant… ahem, was leftovers, but no one complained) and the chili-cheese cornbread finished with barely a crumb left in the pans.

And though the dishes have been cleared, the last to linger have left safely, I’m not quite too tired as I type this.

I’m intentionally and slowly appreciating this past evening, and find an email with the day’s horoscope, equally perfect to tie into the meaning of the past day for me from a dear friend who is also, like myself, an Aries:

Feeling Earnest –
You may already be feeling your brows furrowing today as you notice your serious attitude. Because you may be looking at life from a weighty perspective, you could be feeling earnest. Life can indeed be worthy of solemn appraisal at times, and allowing ourselves to interpret situations from this standpoint may give us valuable insight to draw upon in future days when we are feeling lighter. As we follow our intuitive guidance, we will naturally shift from this mood when the time is right, so we mustn’t feel guilty about losing the edge of intensity whatever the circumstances seem to dictate. As you seek to honor your inner guidance and seek balance in your life, today gives you the opportunity to experience a perspective of depth that may serve you well in the future. Though our goal in life may be happiness, we can have times of serious contemplation of weighty subjects without it meaning that we are off the path. Life requires balance and sometimes that involves experiencing darkness in order to understand and appreciate the light. Without the contrast, life can lose its meaning. It is perhaps an unfortunate aspect of the nature of the material world and its dualities. So today don’t fight the sober mood, but instead learn all you can from it in order to allow it to infuse your happier times with a new depth of meaning and your life with a greater understanding of balance.

_______________________

In Due Time –
Today you may feel impatient with yourself and frustrated by a number of challenges in your life. Your responsibilities may require more attention than you have to give, and you could become overwhelmed by new opportunities that are presenting themselves. Sitting down and developing a plan could help you become organized and assuage some of your frustration. Prioritizing your tasks today can also make your life more manageable. It’s also important to be patient with yourself, as we all need to time adjust to new workloads. Being compassionate with yourself could help this period of transition go smoothly. You also can accomplish more tasks when you work methodically and are relaxed. Careful planning allows us to establish how and when we will face our obligations. By mapping out the items that need our attention, we give ourselves the benefit of seeing the whole picture. We are then able to figure out how to best direct our resources. When we have a plan to work with, we can relax because we know that everything will get accomplished in due time. We also are able to focus and do a good job because we don’t have to hurry or try to get several tasks done at once. Determine when and how you will attend to your obligations today, and you will be relaxed, confident, and able to meet each one.

shanti

Turkey

 

Yes, it’s already December and I’m still concocting a various array of T-Day leftover meals. The latest- and hopefully the last turkey creation!- curried turkey potpie was a hit, but with one plate empty at the table.

Life for our family, once again, is on temporary halt to regroup, realign, and reaffirm former, as well as new recovery priorities-goals; and up the ante a bit to get beyond the bump-in-the-road our daughter is experiencing wrestling free (though as of late, resembling more acquiescence) from the dangerous clutches of anorexia.

Leftovers…

Ironically we were in this familiar territory the same time last year. And as a parent, when you’ve seen how far your child has come through his/her ED recovery, how hard the fight gets fought, seeing and knowing they can do it; it feels like suddenly your footing on that long arduous climb is becoming loose and weak. You’ve been tossed back down, the wind has been knocked clean out — “GASP!” Some confusion sets in, frustration, even some anger– “Damn you friggin’ (I use a word with a bit more gusto and power) ED!” It’s time to take action, as most of us know, eating disorders love the waiting-game, the delay, the postponing… we’ve already been there too.

Adolescence is a time of rapid growth and development, and a body taxed with an eating disorder at this time cannot do fully what it was meant to do normally unhindered. The reports regarding bone density and calcium loss within eating disorder sufferers are not new but it is a necessary reminder of the severity of this illness and why treatment should not be delayed, since significant changes do take place before decreases in bone structure become evident, and some of these changes can be permanent after a certain age.

Leftovers in this scenario can also be remembered as requiring 100% full nutritional support and adherence- without question, without exception. This time of year brings forth both a welcoming joy towards celebration with family and friends, but as well an unwelcome increase of stressors and worries that pose some unique challenges for those with eating disorders.

There has been a wide variety of posts and informational resources in this regard which is fantastic. One incredibly busy and committed individual interviewing as of late is Dr Cynthia Bulik, who is the director of the UNC Eating Disorder Program prompting:



Keep your support team on speed dial and call them at any time during or after a party. Talking relieves the pressure. You’re not overburdening them. They will undoubtedly have stories to share, too.– Potlucks are your friends. Don’t hesitate to take a food you prepared that feels safe enough to you so that you will have at least one manageable entrée.– Lavish holiday spreads don’t have to be the enemy. If faced with one, channel your inner Boy Scout or Girl Scout skills and be prepared! Before stepping in line, and before getting a plate, evaluate the options. Mindfully consider which foods you’ll sample, portion sizes and whether you feel comfortable trying a “feared food.” Make a decision and stick with it!– If your treatment team has given you a meal plan stay on track so you aren’t starving when you get there.– Listen with your heart, not your head. Hear the happiness and caring in a person’s tone when they tell you that you look “so much better.” They are saying they care about you. Don’t let the eating disorder lead you to misinterpret those words in a way that deprives you of hearing that people really care about you.— Get Real! People too often have a fantasy about how “perfect” the holidays are going to be. When family members fail to live up to unrealistic expectations, it might be tempting to restrict or overeat in an effort to feel better temporarily. Try to anticipate some of the possible emotional traps in advance so you can cope (and maybe even laugh) when you encounter them.– The well-known HALT slogan works for any type of recovery. Don’t let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. This is especially important over the holidays.– ‘Tis the Season to Forgive, so forgive yourself if you have an eating slip.– Try your best not to skip appointments with your treatment team. It’s an important time to stay in touch with people who can help.

 

Dr Bulik also continued with an “Eating Pressure” interview recently conducted by CNN worth viewing.

And there is an equally interesting qualitative study: “Total Control? Eating Disorders and Emotional Responses to Food” conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia with the result podcast and interview available from CQ University’s International Program of Psych-Social Health Research Dept that looks at emotional responses to images of food presented to adults with eating disorders, and using the qualitative methodology to further measure and explore issues of self-control, food fears/responses, CBT-cognitive behavior therapy as a means to help adjust maladaptive ways of thinking and behaving. I think this could also be extremely beneficial to younger ED sufferers as well, and crucial for helping them deal more cohesively with their “fear” foods that many times get downplayed or ignored within many treatment programs by only having the patients eat the foods, or avoid them altogether in their meal plans.

And yet more leftovers, as lastly I found BBC’s-Radio4 All In The Mind Segment by Claudia Hammond insightful in regards to the variations in some residential programs and getting additional perspectives from patients who are going through the program, their personal thoughts and views. The “partnership” message from the Phoenix ED program in the UK director, Dr Thompson was also welcoming to hear in having patients play a significant role in their treatment and recovery process along with more collaborative and balanced strategies. The numbered tables that residents eat at are something quite interesting as well, with Table 1 being a level requiring most support and moving towards Table 3 with more independence, and thusly Table 2 being 50/50. I think to me what stands out is the ability to remain open to making changes and being creative in strategies, and not simply applying practices to ED care and treatment that simply don’t always work for the individual patient.

So while I’m still musing over Thanksgiving tidbits and at the same time putting up the Christmas lights and bringing out the boxes of holiday decorations, we’ll keep fighting and rallying behind our daughter to continue to move forward within her next level of recovery. Regaining some ground lost with deeper learning and strength gained (we all make mistakes and have setbacks- with or without an eating disorder!) We know we’ll get through this together and once again her place at the table will be filled when she is ready… until then leftovers may be on the menu for awhile.

   Fire”  T-Mere

 

 

… what’s it worth?

 

“Art is the most passionate orgy within man’s grasp.”

-John Donne

 

I have to admit that I’m clinging to each last bit of the end-of-summer like a fool, but with the rain and chill today, it’s a bit easier to keep the Bodum filled and not mind too much. September seemed to happen so quickly, where did the time go?

The shortening of daylight and coolness of the evenings suddenly has me lugging out the sweaters and rummaging for fleece to accompany our early night walks by the lake, while still savoring the seemingly endless supply of heirloom orbs I’m basically giving away at this point before they rot- and with the onslaught of fruit flies scurrying to hold on and survive as well, that is a nuisance that won’t be missed.

Like most families with school-aged children, last week marked the beginning of another school year, which brings with it much excitement, anticipation, and sometimes, as for our daughter, a bit of anxiety when recovering from an eating disorder.

But that’s okay.

This semester she’s surrounded by many who know about her eating disorder, and are behind her, beside her, in their hearts and also working with her on a regular basis, like her Art Therapist, Yoga “guru”, ED therapist, nutritionist, pediatrician as well as close loving family and countless friends (teens are such magnets for camaraderie and energetic spirit… it’s hard to resist and really has been such a blessing!)

It’s so important to have that “net” of support during and throughout the recovery process. And while it’s not always easy to find and coordinate this type of collaborative care, let alone pay for and/or get insurance coverage for this extensive care- it’s so well worth the effort to keep plugging away, advocating for your son or daughter, and getting the “right fit” for both your child and also for you as the parent(s), caregivers, and extended family.

Numerous studies are aplenty regarding the effects of stress in our lives- stress is part of life for both human and animal, there is no denying this. Stress also has an evolutionary and survival component, but too much and not enough “down time” to recoup and rest and we all know what happens. Many of us also know how stress also can play a role in exasperating and/or intensifying levels of eating disordered behaviours in our loved one’s lives.

Dr Esther Sternberg was speaking on public radio last night while I was driving home from a messy, but productive day- for once! at the studio. And the conversation really got me itching to reread her book The Balance Within once again after the past couple of weeks going to numerous Dr appointments, back-to-school-shopping, noticing some tensions in our daughter’s behavior(s); and getting things ready for the start of the school year. It has been stressful!

It was interesting to listen to Dr Sternberg talk. She’s incredibly intelligent, grounded, but also very human. She’s been called a “scientist’s scientist” as she’s a bit hesitant towards all the overkill-joy on the Self Help end minus a balanced critical and logical analysis of what we’ve been learning, and do know about human cells, the brain, genetics, neural circuitry, etc. currently. And how technology, continued research/study has opened up so much to illuminate on these previously charted as well as uncharted seas, so that we can begin to really delve deeper within a broader understanding behind why you might feel like shit, or are swimming endlessly in “the blues”, and just can’t deal with all that stress, dammit!

I think this past couple of weeks reminded me of how sometimes the simple things are really quite wonderful. Listening to the shared support of other parents, sufferers who really have climbed that mountain of ED-Himalayas and stuck a “Fug You ED” flag on the peak, then courageously climbed down to live full, healthy lives. Dr’s and clinicians who truly connect with you and your child and actually “get it”, both what your child is grappling with, yet not belittling their struggle, or as a parent/caregiver, your own; and continuing to make that commitment towards supporting your child’s recovery, even when things seem temporarily “stuck” week after week.

Our daughter had a wonderful half-week back rejoining with friends and classmates, she loves her classes, new level teachers and has taken on a couple of additional social-activity/clubs this semester to fill in for field hockey, cross-country and ballet. And while she’s very determined to get back to dance at some point, she’s also realizing what other talents she can nurture and cultivate while her body and mind continue to heal. A time for all things in good time.

shanti

Hope is not the closing of your eyes to the difficulty, the risk,or the failure.

It is trust that-If I fail now -I shall not fail forever;and if I am hurt,I shall be healed .

It is trust that Life is good, love is powerful, and the future is full of promise.

– Anonymous

 

 

 

 

Eating disorder recovery, like gardening, is most definitely a labor of love.

And while I’ve been gardening as long as I can remember (although when I was younger, I absolutely detested those summers in the “country” toiling, weeding and watering; the only salvation was my G-Ma’s raspberry pies- and oh, how we grumbled and complained! Such indentured servants to the land we were; little did we know the lessons being planted early on by our wiser parental-elder units indeed!) with digging and transplanting in country soil, urban community plots, studio rooftop gardens, CSA worker-share’s- you name the place, I’ve always found a way, even on a low budget, to squeeze something beneficial, tasty and aesthetically pleasing into the ground our family happened to be living on top of.

With only two years passing since our daughter was diagnosed with anorexia, there are many things we are still learning together about this illness and how to best tend-cultivate to our daughter’s support and recovery. But we have definitely learned so much since she was diagnosed, what works, what definitely doesn’t, when to move on, regroup/restrategize, and also when to let things be, step back, and also knowing when to step back in when needed. Quite like tending to a garden plot I’d say.

And I can’t but think as I’m scrambling to let the frittata cool, get the gazpacho out, toss the pasta with fresh tomatoes from the garden… we have ten or twenty arriving? ugh! Hubby’s tending the proverbial flame to finish the tandoori chicken and burgers- that some of the best lessons are learned from the garden.

__________________________________


For the garden of your daily living, plant three rows of peas:

  • Peas of mind
  • Peas of heart
  • Peas of soul

Plant four rows of squash:

  • Squash gossip
  • Squash indifference
  • Squash grumbling
  • Squash selfishness

Plant four rows of lettuce:

  • Lettuce be faithful
  • Lettuce be kind
  • Lettuce be patient
  • Lettuce really love one another

No garden is without turnips:

  • Turnips for meetings
  • Turnips for service
  • Turnips to help one another

To conclude our garden, one must have thyme:

  • Thyme for each other
  • Thyme for family
  • Thyme for friends

-Jessica Prough

 

Have a wonderful and abundant Labor Day!

 

Vrishabha- the sacred bull of Lord Shiva… or more widely known- Taurus, the Bull reigns this month of May.  Our daughter turns 14 on this May 20th, and she definitely characterizes the nature of the bold, loyal, and very stubborn Taurus!

Before being diagnosed with Anorexia, birthday’s had always been a festive and richly tasting  affair.  And while we’ll continue partaking in this annual delight, it’s still a bit difficult for her to freely enjoy what never took a second guess years past.  She’s committed to challenging herself, though there are days she’s not too happy to do so, and will boldly (envision the Taurus with plumes of smoke flaring from nostrils!) make that clear– well, what were you like at 14, minus an eating disorder? 

I’m forever grateful to those who also remain equally, if not at times more, committed to helping support our daughter in keeping focus upon her recovery.  Recovery is not easy for sufferers, and parents still get  bawked a’ plenty and treated with disdain, misjudgment, and left to the side when there requires a much more encompassing circle to complete for true healing and whole-ness to take place.  And dualistically, sufferers also need their own space, their own pace to regain their true Selves back once nutritionally and weight stabilized– this requires alot of Love, patience, perseverance and sometimes a compassionately coordinated “team” all working together.  It makes me think of the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and the use of “a two-handed practice”:

_____

I can sit in my predicament as a witness, not as a plaintiff or judge: ‘Here I am in this situation and I sit squarely in it and breathe into it.  At the same time, I am aware that I can handle this and get through it without becoming devastated.  I can trust my competence neither to become dramatically overwhelmed nor to be stoically untouched.  This sense of competence frees me from fear, since fear thrives on powerlessness.  I imagine myself holding my predicament in one hand and my power to work with it in the other.  One hand is serenely mindful; one is courageously working.  When I hold both realities this way, I am agreeable to things as they are, and I am doing all I can to change them for the better as well.”   -D. Richo 

_____

This resonates with me deeply as a parent and the complexities illnesses like eating disorders present to us.  Now if only we can collectively and universally have provided the very best in evidence-based, highest standard of quality care of treating eating disorders and supporting families in such a comprehensively and equally accessible manner– that would be my wish!

Our daughter has many “wishes” and dreams she wants to pursue.  We simply want to wish her a very Happy Birthday, happy 14th Year, to continued Health and vitality… and to a courageous healthy-stubborn side that can be an anchor for her when difficulties and stress arise.  Knowing she can reach out and ask for help, she’s worth every ounce of her hard work on the road to recovery she has traveled thus far, and that we Love her very, very much!

-XOXO Mom*Dad*Big’Sis

 

This is a day of promise –
Of hopefulness, laughter, and cheer,
For this is a day of remembering
The good things that happened all year –
A day for reflecting on memories
Shared with friends and with family, too,
Who were so much a part
of the joys in your heart
And the love that you felt
all year through-
This is a day of promise
Of the beauty and warmth life can hold,
And of new dreams to dream
and more love to share
Through a year that’s about to unfold.

-Emily Matthews

-epicself

 

Well I haven’t been blogging to an idealized expectation… but there is good reason– SPRING!  

This time of year is definitely infectious for us.  Things are blooming, the soil is deep, dark, rich and inviting (which reminds me, the compost needs turning)  and I simply can’t resist when the weather beckons and stays as wonderful as it has.  We spend most of our time outdoors when spring and summer arrive so I can only apologize for posting infrequently and sporadically.  And this summer we’ll be either vacationing in India, the Rocky Mountains, or beachin’ it on Big Sur– so even more intermittent rambles, c’est ca!

This weekend is also Chicago’s Green Festival and we’ll be heading out for the party.  Personally I can’t think of a better way of treating the family with some fun, gorgeous weather, great food and extended community company!

Wishing all of you a very Bountiful, Healthy and Happy Summer!

-shanti

                                                    Being an artist

                                     means, not reckoning and counting,

                                             but ripening like the tree

                                          which does not force its sap

                                               and stands confident

                                             in the storms of spring

                                       without the fear that after them

                                              may come no summer

                                             -RAINER MARIA RILKE-

 

All Women in this World are forms of the Goddess

 -Devi Mahatmya 11.6

Wishes for a Very Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Most of us realize that we need “fat” not only in our diet, but within our bodies– I say most since when you have an eating disorder, know someone with an ED, or care for someone suffering with this illness, specifically anorexia nervosa, which is hallmarked by the intense fear of gaining weight, this is a very difficult truth to swallow as well as visually accept within ones’ physical body.  

There are also some studies that suggest for some this “fear” can be a precusor to eating disorders  among the array of environmental, behavioral influences as well as genetic and/or biochemical predeterminers that scientists are still compiling and discovering that can leave some individuals much more susceptible than others to either severe eating disordered behavior, EDNOS, or a severe diagnosed eating disorder that requires serious and comprehensive treatment. 

What’s also intriguing is the work by researchers continuing to unfold in evolutionary biology, genetic imprinting, and epigenetic inheritance which I’m certain there are correlations within these findings and eating disorders that have yet to be fully available and utilized, but may be able to provide us with a much more inclusive picture behind the illness and how to improve prevention and treatment.

There was a recent study highlighting the benefits (mostly catching everyone’s eye with the glorification of our ever evolving rump, or as writer Debra Dikerson slammed in Salon.com last year about mainstreaming “Gi-normous butts”) of subcutaneous fat, which produces hormones known as adipokines found to boost metabolism (of course, I’m assuming this study will also fuel the weight-loss industry and war-on-obesity too) found in the booty area as well as belly and showing to be protective against type2 diabetes, but also reaffirming the adage that “diets don’t work” and briefly explains why this is part of the reason it’s difficult to keep that weight off once lost; and that our fat cells are set during adolescence and don’t decrease, but do actually expand in size.   

And while I don’t embrace the the good/bad dichotomous thinking and categorization of really anything when it comes to our daily living and Life– you tend to find things more in shades of gray or muted with other colors vs just a pigment of one– the study is looking at two types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral , and where they are found within the body.  Subcutaneous tends to be in the booty and stomach area, and has more benefits vs visceral, which tends to be the gunk blocking arteries, causing damage to organs– sorry to say you’re bad visceral, or maybe scientists just haven’t fully found out what you’re doing and why you are getting such a bad wrap. 

Another study that continues in similar dialogue and highlights the complications of metabolic syndrome and that this can be triggered by overeating, which is correlated with weight gain, especially if done consecutively over a sustained period of time, and makes me wonder about endocannabinoids and their role cause/effect in obesity  and how this, if at all correlates.  The study also points to our fat cells being set during adolescence,  but Dr Stephen O’Rahilly of Cambridge remains unconvinced, and isn’t prescribing to this determination just yet.

Maybe another more basic message to keep at forefront is that it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature– she rises up with a vengeance.  Our bodies have evolved over time and there is inherit wisdom to what we carry around with us everyday.

-Love Thyself

End Health Discrimination
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