A Dream Come True

It seems like not a week goes by where my life has not changed in some way. I’ve been really bad about blogging, as well. It seems like I tell myself that I’m going to resolve to blog more, along with other productive activities and then I find myself curled up on the couch reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle- in short, anything but what I planned on doing. 

Anyway, today was national left-handers day, so I knew from the break of dawn that I was destined to have a good day. If you have not figured it out, I am a lefty and proud of it. In the middle of my morning sociology class, an ordinary bathroom trip turned out to be something spectacular. As I sat down on the porcelain throne, I did what any other young person would do-I pulled out my phone. 

Scrolling through my emails, I saw an unread message from a woman at Sol Yoga studio and my heart stopped for probably about 5 minutes, I’d say. 

Rewind two measly days: sitting in my yoga class at Hood College, my instructor (and in many ways, mentor) called me over to discuss signing up for Sol Yoga’s teacher training certification course that is beginning in the end of March.

For many months now it has been a dream of mine to become a yoga teacher, practicing what I love and what has changed my life for the better. My instructor gave me the email address of who to contact about the training and let me know that there was in fact space still available. Rushing back to my mat, I frantically composed an email on my new phone, which was no easy task, let me tell you. 

This brings us up to date. So, there I was on the toilet, ready to open the email that would either make or break my day.

I guess you can infer what happened next: I GOT IN. I probably would have jumped for joy had I not been planted on the commode. I honestly never thought such an amazing opportunity would come to me, much less seem to just fall into my lap. It is honestly as if some greater being was calling the shots with this one. 

So, now I wait until I can take in my payment and start counting down the days (30) until the training starts! I can’t wait until I can get this new chapter of my life opened up.

One lesson that I learned from this whole journey is that when opportunity comes your way, seize that chance when you can. I had to put in my 2 weeks notice at my current job, which was a big toughie for me. I have this weird complex about disappointing people and my anxiety was so high from knowing that I needed to have that unpleasant conversation. But, I just pulled my big-girl pants on and just went for it. 

So, if there is something that you want to do with your life, just go for it! There is no better way to live your life than to be in the moment. Chase your dreams and don’t worry about the “what-ifs.” Live your life the way you want to, and do not live unhappily if you can do anything else about it!

Setting Goals

Setting goals for yourself is one of the best things to keep you motivated to move forward. The trick is to know how big or small of goals to set. 

I used to set goals for myself all the time. The only problem was that my goals were way too lofty and way too specific. I would either beat myself up to reach those goals or fall into a big depression if I couldn’t reach them. I did not know how to have a balance in my life; for me I needed to be the best in everything.

A problem with those goals was that even when I did meet them, I would feel like I still could have done better. An ‘A’ grade wasn’t good enough, I needed an ‘A+’. When I got an ‘A+’ it wasn’t good enough unless it was a 100%. You see how that can be toxic? 

For a while I stopped setting goals for myself when I realized that my goals were becoming toxic and grossly unhelpful. But I recently learned that I need to make goals for myself to keep some motivation in my life.

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Here are some tips that I came up with for keeping my goals realistic:

  • Don’t set your goals too high. Make them something you know you can do, but that you might need a little push to be able to reach. I recently picked running back up, so one goal I set for myself the second day of running was that I was going to run the same distance in a little less time or see if I could go even farther. Know what happened? I ended up running over a mile more than the first day! It’s great what happens when you set reachable goals. 
  • Don’t set an unrealistic time frame. It is great to have goals for yourself, but do not set too short of a time frame for yourself. Maybe start with no time frame on your goal and see how things go. Then, for your next goal you can make an educated assumption of an appropriate time frame for meeting that goal. For myself, I like to set vague time frames like “by next summer I will ___”.
  • Set your goals in increments. You may want to eventually be able to run a marathon or get your whole backyard landscaped. One way to increase your productivity and celebrate your successes is to make these goals in increments. You could say “I’m going to run 2 more miles by next month.” By making multiple smaller goals, you will celebrate your small successes, motivating and encouraging yourself to keep going. Also, if you can’t reach these small goals, you will be less disappointed if you don’t meet a small goal rather than one that you’ve been working toward for months. 
  • Celebrate everything you do. In order to meet goals you set for yourself you need to have the self confidence that you can reach those goals. The best way to do this is to celebrate whatever you do. If you meet small goals, don’t downplay their size or how hard you had to work and celebrate your successes. Make sure to celebrate even when you don’t meet a goal. Just recognize what you did do. Say things to yourself like, “I worked really hard to do X,Y and Z. Even though I didn’t get there all the way I still was able to do X and Y really well.”

I have tried all these tricks and they work so well for me. Sometimes things do not work out because of factors out of your control. But, you are awesome and you can do most of what you set your mind and heart to. But, if you don’t learn to be realistic about your goals and capabilities you will not accomplish anything, or if you do it just will not be very satisfying. 

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Hopefully these methods can work for you as well. I want everyone to be able to feel the self-pride that comes from meeting goals and celebrating yourself. Trust me, I know how hard it can be to recognize the great things you do, no matter how big or small. But once you are able to do that, it is so wonderful and healing for your soul. 

Falling Forward

Fall is tough for those of us who are in recovery. 

It can even be tough for those who are recovered, and that is okay. I am putting my guard up for the potential hazards of fall. 

Everyone has their own set of triggers, and winter weather holds a lot for most people. What with the cold weather keeping you indoors more, or the rich treats like pumpkin pie and hot chocolate. During the fall and winter months I have a couple methods to keep myself sane. 

Getting outdoors

Making sure that I get outdoors and away from the usual surroundings is really important to me this time of year. Fresh air can do a whole lot for the body and soul. Getting some exercise outdoors gets your blood pumping and gives your metabolism a little boost to help digest those cookies you indulge in. 

Getting outside for a walk or jog can also be a great way for people to bond. Whenever my boyfriend and I go for a walk outside with our dog Bonnie, it’s such a great time. We get to just talk, enjoy nature and be by ourselves. 

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This is Culler Lake, right by my house, which is one of my favorite Frederick places to walk or go for a run.

Plus, what time of year is more beautiful for a walk outside? None, that’s the answer. The leaves are changing, fallen leaves crunch beneath your feel and the air is crisp and rejuvenating. 

Exercising

This one is pretty much a no-brainer. On a normal basis, I like to take yoga and get to the gym for spin class. But working some exercise in does not have to mean taking an hour out of your day to toil in a sweaty gym. Even getting outside for a 15-minute walk or riding my bike to class makes me feel so much better.

When I am sitting at home with nothing to do I get tempted to just wander into the kitchen to find something to munch on. Yes, I feel good for a bit when I have a snack (that I don’t really need; there is a difference when you are truly hungry and need something to hold you over). But, I feel even better for the rest of the day when I have done something physical, no matter how long or short of a time period I was active for. 

Crafts

Ever heard of art therapy? Some may be skeptical, but it is a real thing that works wonders. Around fall I love fewer things more than I love sitting down to complete a craft. This time of year is perfect for crafting because you can make adorable seasonal decorations for the house, like my Harvest letters pictured below.

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I have got a lot of crafts on my schedule for this winter and fall. Since I just moved into a new house this summer, I realized I need all new Christmas ornaments for myself, so I have plenty of ideas for those, some of which will not cost me one dollar. 

Crafting also allows for one to be social, which is another important thing for sanity. This December I am going to have some girlfriends over to make Christmas ornaments together and I know that we will all have a great time and that it will be a welcome break from the approaching end of the semester. 

Staying Social

Keeping up with family is pretty easy to do this time of year. It seems that most families get together on Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is always one of my favorite things to do. A downside, though, is that most of time, those family gatherings are centered around food.

One suggestion is to see if anyone wants to get outside to go for a walk after Thanksgiving dinner and jump-start that metabolism. I know that after a big meal I always feel yucky and sluggish if I just sit around. This year I am definitely going to try to get as many people as I can to get some fresh air. 

Beyond family gatherings, it is still really important, at least for me, to stay in touch with my friends. Living off campus it is a little tougher for me to be able to find time to hang out with friends; it was much easier last year when my friends lived just down the hall from me. 

To make sure that I see people, I sometimes have to force myself to go out. Being a natural introvert and homebody, it is not fun at the start to force myself into a social situation, but once I am out I always have a good time.

Another way that I keep up with friends is to organize small gatherings at my house, like the craft party that I mentioned. In the fall and winter, I can also have friends over to decorate Christmas cookies or just sit around and watch holiday movies. 

 

Overall, there are many opportunities to stay a couple steps ahead of the winter blues. They may not be apparent at first, and they may not even seem like enough to really make a difference in your mood, but trust me, they will! The biggest thing to keep in mind is just try and put yourself out there. Do not close yourself off from participating in something because you are too scared. Fall is scary for those of us in recovery or who are recovered. Do not let past experiences hold you back from creating new, better ones. 

Looking Toward The Future

Whenever someone mentions graduation and my plans for work after that date, I used to feel my throat close up and fear, anxiety and worry wash over me. With the new peace of mind that I’ve come to discover in myself I’ve come to realize that worrying about the future serves me no good. 

Freaking out and having the mindset that I will not get hired into a career right off the stage getting my diploma is an irrational and ridiculous way to think. So what if I do not get started on a career pathway right after I graduate? The worst that will happen is that I continue working part time. That’s not so bad, and it is certainly a lot better than not working. And I know my parents: if I need help to get by while I am job hunting, they will give me the assistance that I need while still letting me learn how to live independently. 

For a while I had been entertaining the idea of going into yoga teacher training after graduation, but I had been brushing it off as silly. I have been hesitant to let people know it is something that I’m considering for fear that they will look down on me and tell me to “get a real job.”

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I think I have come to the decision that after graduation, and possibly after a little “me time”, that looking into Yoga teacher training is something that I’d love to do. It just makes sense at that point. Before I get into a full-time position, I can use some of my savings and take teacher training part time and work part time. If Yoga teacher training is something that I find is my true calling, then what better a point in my life to discover that than right before I enter the “real life” workforce?

When my yoga teacher at Hood told me she can see me becoming a yoga teacher,  it felt like my insides did the Macarena. I was truly overcome with joy. I do not remember a time when someone said they have seen potential for me to do something that I’ve felt truly passionate about.

My joy was also so great from the fact that I had never mentioned that Yoga teaching was something I’d been considering. Previously, when people have asked what my career plans are, I have mentioned writing or editing, to have a response to the effect of “oh, you’d be great at that!” And that type of response never seems completely genuine. I mean, who, with any modicum of respect, is going to tell someone not to pursue one of their goals? 

Anyhow, I guess this new clarity and realization of my goals has brought a lot of peace of mind into my life. When people ask about my plans after college, I can honestly say that I do not know where I’ll be, that I will figure it out when I get there and that I’m completely fine with it. I hold this very dear to me, know how I used to worry and seeing how my other classmates stress out and fret over the future. I hope that everyone can come to this same level of ease in their own way, and I hope that I’ve helped to remind seniors that it doesn’t pay to worry. I have found that, no matter how hard I try or how many setbacks I seem to encounter, that things tend to unfold in a positive manner in the end. 

New Season, New Joys

With the changing of the seasons there’s so many fall and winter activities that I look forward to enjoying. You’ve got the basics: carving pumpkins, dressing up for Halloween, sweaters and boots, seeing your family for Thanksgiving. But then there are other aspects that I am so looking forward to, like simply enjoying a cup of homemade hot cocoa while curled up with a blanket. 

Simple moments during Fall I know I’ll be able to enjoy because I can just be. I can enjoy just sitting alone and not have one single thought in my mind. Before I was recovered, it was impossible to have a moment of peace within my head. But now I don’t have to worry about an endless stream of thoughts reminding me of how gross and worthless I thought I was. How worthless I convinced myself that I was. 

I’ve always loved going to the pumpkin patch. After successfully finding the best pumpkin for carving, I always wanted to be like everyone else and enjoy a cup of hot apple cider, but I couldn’t let myself do that because it was not zero calories. And not only that, I couldn’t have any way of telling how many calories I’d need to work off throughout the day because there’s no nutritional facts on homemade apple cider. 

This year, though, things are different. I’ve already made apple cider once and it was great. I made vegan hot cocoa as well and I love it. There’s so much pleasure in winding down my night with a cup of hot cocoa made from steamed almond milk. It’s rich and satisfying and I feel so much nourishment from it. Not in the sense of food nutrition, but my soul is healed from it.

It sounds silly, but once you are recovered, you can take a step back from yourself and realize how much you had missed out on when your significant other was an eating disorder. Now don’t get me wrong, an eating disorder was not pleasant. But, I don’t look back with disdain on all the things I missed out on. No, not one bit; knowing what I missed out on makes the joy from those activities world greater. It also serves as motivation to keep up my good work. 

I always spent a lot of time worrying that I’d spend the rest of my life worrying about food and dieting but I’ve finally learned that it doesn’t have to be that way. It took me a long time to get to this point, but I’m so grateful for it and all the lessons that I’ve learned to get here.

Getting Back On Track

Wow! It has been a long time since I last posted. In ways that is both good an bad. 

Good: I have been having little to no eating disorder thoughts and behaviors!! I am off Prozac!! 
Bad: I have not been able to share my progress with readers and have not had the chance to give others hope of recovery.

For a while I thought that I could say I was recovered. I realized, though, when particularly stressful times came about that I was not, which was still okay though! Just because you think you’re recovered and have things happen to show you otherwise that DOES NOT mean that you won’t become recovered. Just give it time, recovery is NOT  a process that can be rushed. It happens for every person at a different pace, with different events dispersed within the long process. 

A couple things have really, really helped me to reach my place in recovery. 

Yoga
If you have never tried yoga, get yourself to a studio NOW! I used to take a Yoga class here and there at my local studio, but it never really had as great an impact on my life until I started to take Yoga as one of my classes at Hood College. My instructor, Jan, teaches at Sol Yoga, a studio in my town, and she has really exposed me to the healing power that Yoga can have on the body and soul. She makes our short 50-minute class feel like a sanctuary, a place of peace and seclusion from all the stressors in my life.
When I am in Yoga I can escape from all the useless thoughts running amok in my mind and just be. This feeling of overall peace has been translating more and more into my daily life as well. I have definitely noticed that I am much more calm; I rarely get angry at stupid drivers when I am driving (and that is saying a lot, trust me)! I find myself more aware of my body in all situations. In general I just feel better.
Yoga has helped me to become accepting of my body the way it is, and has made me welcome and accepting of any changes my body may naturally go through. When I leave a Yoga class I feel proud of my body and more connected and aware of it as well. I don’t compare myself to everyone else in the class or silently compete with others to be the best in the class. I am content with my skill level and I do not try to push myself too much. It is really interesting, actually, how my skill level naturally varies from day to day. Some days when I am particularly stressed out, I will notice that my balance is off in Yoga. This motivates me to stay grounded in all aspects of life, as much as possible. 

Going Vegan
My choice to go vegan was not from a love for animals or a desire to lose weight. Don’t get me wrong, though, I love animals and don’t want to think about them being slaughtered so people can eat a juicy steak. My decision to go vegan came about from a lot of research into the health benefits of a vegan (or whole-food, plant based) lifestyle (notice I don’t say vegan diet). Being vegan can do wonders to prevent a whole slew of diseases, like cancer and heart disease. I have learned that animal protein essentially “turns on” the cancer cells in one’s body. 
After going vegan, I have noticed a vast increase in my energy levels and my skin looks more glowing. I feel better about eating and I don’t worry about calories and all other things that dieters obsess over and that I used to all but kill myself over. I just eat healthy, balanced meals. I eat when I am hungry (which is a little more often). I don’t feel the urge to weigh myself. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I stepped on a scale; I don’t even have one at home anymore. 
Yes, it is a little difficult to be vegan at restaurants, but it just takes a little advanced planning and I’ve found that most restaurants are able to accommodate very easily. 
Going vegan is not the best lifestyle change for everyone, but for me I could not be happier. It has helped to improve my relationship with food and has allowed me to explore cooking in a way that I had never thought of. 

 

Overall, I think it has finally come to the point in this loooooooooooooooong, stressful and difficult journey where I can say I’M RECOVERED. I could not be happier with where I am, and in a roundabout way I am thankful for my eating disorder. It has brought wonderful people into my life and has allowed me to explore deeper issues in my life and has allowed me to learn how to be a better me. 

Spiritual Awakening

As you may have known, I have been attending church regularly, and attending RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation of Adult) classes as well so that I can become baptized and confirmed. Each day, it seems that religion plays a little bit larger of a role in my life. 

It is strange for me to feel a presence of God in my life, and sometimes I even  have a hard time accepting what I truly know is happening. 

Lately I have been really questioning why I have been struggling so much lately. I am baffled; I was doing so well-I had my depression under control, I had great friends-and then things took a turn for the worse. 

In my RCIA class the other day, my instructor asked us to think of times when we have heard God speaking to us through others around. I immediately drew to mind one day in my eating disorders support group when a girl, well woman, mentioned how she has a really hard time opening up to her parents about what is going on. 

That is exactly what I struggle with. 

And then it dawned on me: maybe God meant for me to learn that important skill, and because I didn’t learn it the first go around, He pushed me back a few steps so that I could end up even better than before.

Speaking to my parents about this stuff is really hard. Speaking to anyone about it is hard. I don’t want to feel as though I am a burden to anyone around me. I don’t want people to worry about me. I don’t want to have to give up my independence again just because someone is afraid I may relapse. It won’t happen; I have way too much self-control over that. 

Anyway, I am taking baby steps to open up to them. I tested the waters this morning with my mom, and it actually went pretty well. She told me how it is relieving to hear from me about what’s going on and that when she doesn’t hear, she assumes worse things than what actually is going on. 

I’m going to try harder at sharing my feelings. It will definitely take some conscious effort though. It has been so natural for me to suppress my emotions, negative or positive.

I suggest that everyone try to take a deep, deep look into their lives about any causes for where they are at presently. It takes some time, and you may realize something without even trying.