Renewed Inspiration

Hello, Friends.

It’s been a long time since my last post.  A really long time.

There’s a lot that I can blame/attribute this to: graduating, beginning a new job, planning my wedding…I haven’t exactly been lazy 🙂  And when I’m home, I’m tired and lack motivation to write.  But what it really comes down to?  Lack of inspiration.

I haven’t had that burning desire to share anything lately – and the few times that I’ve thought about something I could write, I’m either too busy or too exhausted to actually write.  But when God inspires you to do something (like write a blog), He may give you a break, but He won’t let you forget it altogether.  And He doesn’t hesitate to remind us of these things in the most unexpected.

It was in a conversation with my former band teacher (now my colleague!), that I found a renewed sense of inspiration.  She had complimented me a couple of times earlier that day on how good I looked, and this eventually led to conversations about body image, eating disorders, etc.

We talked about the influence I could have on my students (especially the gals) if I was willing to talk about my struggles with ED.  We talked about how women are often insecure about their beauty, but having someone who regularly and sincerely tells you you’re beautiful?  It’s no magic bullet for body confidence, but it sure helps.  And we talked about how the clothes we wear can dramatically affect our self esteem.

We all have different body types.  Each of those body types looks best in different styles of clothes than another.  But in our fashion obsessed culture, we so easily forget this.  Girls who would look amazing in one style force themselves to wear another, less flattering style, just because it’s “in”.  When these clothes don’t flatter, they look in the mirror, and tell themselves something that could be the fatal mistake.

“I look terrible in this.”

And thus, this sweet girl’s self confidence and body acceptance is shot for the day, if not longer.  She has blamed her body for the clothes not fitting her a certain way.  She has decided that her body must be flawed and that the clothes must be perfect.

But, if this girl would simply change the wording, she might discover all the difference in the world.

“Wow, these clothes look ridiculous on me!”

She has now placed the blame on the clothes for not fitting her body right.  Her self confidence and body acceptance are still intact, because rather than labeling her body as flawed, she has identified the clothes as defective…for her.

Do you see this difference?  Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perspective to bring about the beginnings of a shift in our outlook on life – a shift in our body confidence.

Thank you, Mrs. Ulmer, for helping renew my inspiration to write.

Blessings,

Beth

A Slow Fade

Throughout the course of the day, I’ve had three songs stuck in my head.  One of them is “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns.

A back-story:

Today, Ron came up to have lunch with me at work.  Towards the end of my break, I mentioned that I’d been noticing myself choosing lower calorie items when there was an option.  And Ron had just began to notice also.  It’s been nothing drastic, but my recent plateau in weight gain might indicate that I need to bump it up.

This definitely bothered me.  I’m so badly want to keep climbing this mountain of recovery…I don’t want to slowly slide back down.  Shortly after my conversation with Ron about this, the Casting Crowns song came to mind.  It fits perfectly.

The chorus says,

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade

(source)

This Slow Fade, while not unique to eating disorders, fits so perfectly right now.  When I begin to let ED back in, even on a subconscious level, destruction begins.  What once was black and white – foods that provide enough nutrition vs foods that don’t – becomes gray.

Sure, you can have that lower-calorie yogurt.  What’s wrong with that salad?  You don’t need that much of a snack.


Those thoughts come in which lead to a choice.  The choice always leads to a consequence of some sort.  And the point the song makes is spot on – ED never comes back in and demolishes the walls of recovery in a day.  He begins chipping away, little by little, until enough has crumbled away that he can get in and get to work.

It’s so easy to backslide.  Often, we don’t even notice how far we’ve fallen until we’re sitting there looking at where we used to be, wondering how we got way down here.

It’s a slow fade.  A fade that ED delights in, to the detriment of my health and well being, not to mention relationships, focus and school.

Slow fades occur in all areas of life.  From finances to stress management, nothing is exempt.  And I think one really great way to avoid this slow fade is to avoid the things that trigger the issues.  Because:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Blessings,

Beth

Which Voice?

So many voices compete for our attention.  Most of them are good/necessary.  There’s the voice that tells you when to eat, or when to give someone a hug.  There’s the voice that gently insists that it’s probably not a great idea to have a second piece of cake, and the voice that reminds you to give strangers their space.  Then there’s a voice that tells you to have no cake.  Or to not eat.  Or that you’re fat, and your pants look horrid.

It seems like the solution would be easy: just listen to the nicer voice (the reasonable voice).  Ignore the nasty voice (the ED voice), right?  Well, it would be a great solution, except that it’s not quite that easy.  The ED voice has a way of drowning out the nice voice – a way of hiding the reasonable option.  ED makes his victim believe every word, and take it to heart.

Here’s a story:

The other day, I put on a pair of pants that I hadn’t worn for a couple of weeks.  They seemed a bit tighter, and ED flung a dart.

Wow, your pants are already tighter.  Sheesh.

But I was on my way out the door to church, and I didn’t have time to really negotiate by changing my clothes, so I just went with it.  After Sunday School, I remembered that I should eat my snack.  It was nothing big, but it was a snack…and ED fired another arrow.

You don’t need that snack.  Remember how your pants fit?  Just don’t go there.

But after some thought, I ate part of my snack anyways. But by the end of church, I burned through my too-light snack, and the hunger was about to throw a tantrum.  I.was.RAVENOUS.

We went to our typical Sunday-after-church- restaurant, but found it to be jam packed.  A cranky customer and a cranky waitress later, and I was a cranky mess. I needed food and I needed it fast.

We headed across the street to another restaurant, and after we were seated, mom offered to order me an appetizer.  My family rarely orders appetizers, and as she placed the order, and ED realized that he couldn’t keep me from eating, he decided to use another tactic.  He said,

You are SUCH a burden.  Look at this, ordering an appetizer, bending over backwards just to get you something to eat.  And look how cranky you are!  Man-oh-man, they’re all just walking on eggshells around you.  What a burden.

And I believed him for a while.

Of course, after eating, I felt much better, and I was able to talk through the situation with Ron and my parents, but that sense of being a burden lingered.  So I brought it up in counseling.  Wanna know what I learned?

ED is the burden.  We all bend over backwards for ED.  We all walk on eggshells around ED.  Not me, but ED.  Even I walk on eggshells and bend over backwards for ED.  If I didn’t cater to him so, I might very well be in a different place today.

In reflection, for every nasty statement from ED that day, there was a counter-statement from the reasonable voice.  When ED berated me for my pants feeling tighter, there was another voice cheering – by the grace of God, I’m meeting my goals.  When ED didn’t want me to eat the snack, there was a voice reminding me that I need the snack for energy and body repair.  When ED told me I was a burden, there was a voice reminding me that my loved ones want to take care of me.

Two voices.  One constructive, the other destructive.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

Two voices.  One the voice of God, the other, the voice of the enemy.

Which voice will you listen to?

It’s Like a Bagel

Hello Friends!

How many of you are familiar with the concept of “fear foods”?  It sounds pretty obvious…foods that cause fear, right?  Basically, yes.  The difference is that the level of fear surrounding that food is irrational or completely nonsensical.  For example: I may be terrified of eating a pancake with butter and syrup, but have no trouble with an english muffin with peanut butter and jam.  Or maybe I couldn’t stand the thought of an ice cream sandwich, but a scoop on a cone?  No problem.  And my personal favorite: Terror at the sight of a burger, yet no problem with a sloppy joe.  Silly, right?  Sheesh!

Part of my recovery process is to develop a list of fear foods (CJ talks about this!), then forge right ahead and tackle each one.  My list includes things like burgers, fried foods, blizzards, etc.  One food I used to struggle with was bagels, but I just decided to hop in and start eating them, and I haven’t looked back 🙂  THEY’RE SO GOOD!  But what do bagels have to do with anything except that I like them, I eat them, and that’s a good thing?

I’ll tell ya.

Bagels have become a “lunchtime standard”, if you will.  I’ve become pretty comfortable chowing down on one, and when I say comfortable, I’m referring to the number of calories.  Oh, and this bagel does have cream cheese and almond butter on it.  Anyways.

The other day, I was craving a frozen burrito for lunch (don’t judge).  I really wanted it, but I felt a little scared.  What if it was too heavy?  And doesn’t it have a MILLION calories?  And maybe I’ll just have a wrap.  But then I flipped the package over and read that stinkin’ number.  And it wasn’t much different than a bagel.  So I ate the burrito, and quite enjoyed it.

However, I hadn’t really put the pieces together until yesterday.

While dusting off some merchandise at work, I took a gander at the stats on the Easy Mac package.  My first reaction? “Sheesh that’s a lot of calories!”  But on second thought I realized…it was about the same as a frozen burrito…about the same as a bagel.

So now, I have two new weapons for combating fear foods:

#1. I can think of a food similar to the fear food (burgers vs sloppy joes) and

#2. I can relate the number of calories to something else I’m comfortable with.

After all, it’s just food.  Bagel or pasta, ground beef in a sauce or a patty – it’s just food.

Hey ED…go eat a bagel.  😀

Have a lovely day!

Beth

Full Circle

Hello friends!  Boy, do I have a story for you.

When I was about 13 years old, I had one of those moments of “Oh-my-gosh-what-am-I-gonna-be-when-I-grow-up??!?”  When I was little I wanted to be a doctor…and then I discovered that I couldn’t handle blood in large quantities.  By age 13, though, I knew I really liked music, and wanted to do something with it…but what?  I asked a friend what he thought, and without batting an eyelash, he said “music therapy”.  He knew that I wanted to help people, and although medicine may not be my forte, providing therapy would allow me to still work in that type of field.  And with music!

I found that a Music Therapy degree would probably be obtained through a Master’s program – and I would need a Bachelor’s of music something…so I opted for Music Education.  But by the end of High School, I had pretty much give up on the Music Therapy idea…Music Ed just seemed like what I wanted to do.

Of course, in college, while studying Music Ed, I felt pretty sold on it.  At least on the surface.  I mean, I had to throw myself into the classes, writing papers as though becoming a music teacher would be my dream come true – and while I do have an interest in teaching and helping people, maybe the standard classroom isn’t quite the place for me.  However, in taking upper-division classes and preparing to student teach, I had essentially resigned myself to the fact that I would be a teacher.  Just ask me – I’d probably robotically tell you that I plan to come home after student teaching and hope to find a job in elementary music.  At least…I think I do?

While attending family therapy at UCSD, my dad remarked one day “Wouldn’t it be somethin’ if you ended up working with eating disorder patients some day?”  It was like permission to NOT teach classroom music if I didn’t want to!  And it got me thinking.

I want to help others who are fighting eating disorders.  But I’m not exactly sure what that will look like.  Will I work in an eating disorder treatment center?  Will I mentor others like Barbi (my mentor)?  Or would I be an advocate for healthy body image in my classroom?  So many unknowns!

A bit of a back story:

My therapist for this summer is opening an in-patient treatment center sometime next spring.  This will be the only service like this in my area, if not the whole state.  This is really exciting!!!!  In a conversation with Chelsey, I told her about this idea of working in the Eating Disorder field and I said “Heck, you and me should go work at the new clinic!”  Chelsey stopped dead in her tracks.  See, just days before, her and her boyfriend said essentially the same thing.

So last week in therapy, my counselor and I began talking about jobs working with eating disorder patients.  I mentioned that it was interesting that he had brought up jobs in the eating disorder field because I had taken part in several job related conversations lately.  And then I expressed my slight concern over the fact that working with Eating Disorder patients wouldn’t really make use of my degree…”…but I suppose that’s life!”

My therapist said, “Ah, but music is being used in Eating Disorder Therapy more and more.”  SAY WHAT?!?!  So I told him the brief history I just told you – about wanting to do music therapy, but leaning more towards the Music Education side of things.  There was a bit more light on my horizon.

It seemed like things were coming full circle – back to Music Therapy!  And what my therapist told me next literally blew my socks off.  And I mean that.

He said “Can I bring it around even further?  Because in-patient clinics are working with teens in school, they need tutoring in order to keep up with their classes.  You’ll have the Education degree, and will be certified to take a job like that.  You can use Music Therapy as part of the tutoring.”

Could someone pick my jaw up off the ground please?

We continued discussing this type of job and I became more and more excited.  I light up when I think about taking this type of job – much more than I do when I think about teaching 500 elementary children.  It ties right in to my desire to help people – and use music.  And it’s possible that I could have a job near home doing this work with eating disorder patients.

Not only is this exciting because of the notion of the job, but it emphasizes the hope I’ve carried through the entirety of journey through anorexia: I want my experience to have a purpose – a meaning.  I want it to be used for something.  And perhaps working with young people in recovery is one way my journey would be useful to another.

Guys, I’m so excited!!!  I’m praying and trusting that God will guide me and lead me, opening doors when and where they need to open.

Have a great Sunday!

Blessings,

Beth