Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

It’s been a long time, eh? October 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 12:21 pm

If you’ve stuck around, then you can expect me to attempt once more to blog semi-regularly. November will be VeganMoFo again so I need to oil the wheels a bit and get back into the swing of things. In other news…

 

 

 

…Life is not so bad these days.

 

Legwarmers December 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 10:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

Yesterday was a rollercoaster. It started off not so bad, quickly became super bad, then became an uphill battle and finally stabilized with an inkling of a feeling of victory and control. It didn’t come without its lessons though.

I won’t get into the gory details of everything but I’ll mention the important bits that led up to my anxiety attack yesterday morning. The biggest thing was that I have, in the past few days, become very aware of

a) how isolated I’ve let myself become
b) how scared I’ve become of putting myself out there and the risk of rejection when trying to connect with people and
c) how badly I actually want to make that connection.

With that awareness, and that acknowledged desire to connect… I suddenly began feeling like I was trapped in a cage. Actually, the analogy I used with my friend, Elizabeth, was that I felt like Ariel in that scene in the Little Mermaid when Ursula has gotten really big and huge and she’s created that whirlpool in the ocean, and you see Ariel sitting on a rock in the middle of it, staring up helpless and scared… trapped and immobile.

The next thing that happened was that it was my first solo store opening as a shift manager. Being the opener has proven to be something rather stressful for me. I don’t have a good rhythm down just yet and there’s a lot to do and depending on the day, you just never know how busy it’s going to be and how easily you’ll be able to get the procedural stuff done. I was anxious already and I knew it by 5:30 a.m. yesterday.

Suffice it to say, I was set up for what could happen and it did.

Work got sort of busy, no one had time to breathe really, and for me that meant a tailspin. All of a sudden I was plunged into the bottom of that oceanic whirlpool of self-doubt and self-loathing. I was seized by my feeling of fear and utter failure. The night before, I had wanted to call someone and hang out but I was so paralyzed by fear of rejection that I didn’t, which left me at home by myself and lonely. The memory of this came bursting in with the rest of the anxiety and by 11 am I had to leave for my lunch break or else I felt I’d go into a full on anxiety attack in front of my coworkers and our customers. My first thought was that I wanted cigarettes. I’d go to the gas station. But as I got in the car and drove, this teeny tiny voice broke through the screams of anxiety and said to me: “That’s a rather addictive and behavioral response you’re having right now. Don’t be reactive. Be active.” So, instead, I drove past the gas station to my yoga studio. No one was there, so I let myself in and just sat in quiet and breathed for a bit.

I calmed down and was able to make it through the rest of my shift (thankfully I was only there til 1 yesterday). But then there was the aftermath with which I had to deal once I was free for the afternoon. I felt overwhelmed by the weight of all the emotion. I wasn’t sure how to carry it, how to sort through it. I talked to my mom for a bit. Lots of word vomit and bad phrasing on my part and things coming out in ways that I didn’t mean. It was like unpacking a box that was not packed in an organized way. Just sifting through and tossing things out haphazardly. You see… when you’re cleaning and organizing things, it usually has to get worse before it gets better. You have to lay it all out there and see what’s before you. Then you can start putting it back in an orderly manner.

I suddenly felt like I would wake up one day and be crippled with regret that I’d wasted so much of my life hiding from people and not making connections. Then suddenly something in me woke up. The fear of that regret was greater than the fear of rejection. I made the call I’d not made the night before. I got a voicemail, so I left a message. But just doing that gave me an ounce of courage. I realized I wasn’t out of the battle yet. I felt my true defenses stand up, battered and bruised but determined as hell. I could turn this around. I could manage the victory if I tried. I realized how mad my ED voice was over the victory I’d gained on Saturday. It wanted to even the score.

I had been ready to skip yoga and mope all night but I decided I’d give my tired defenses some energy and go. I recently bought my [amazing, wonderful, generous, kind] friend Nancy and I some leg warmers for our yoga practice when we get together in CT this Christmas, and so in what seemed like a very trivial event, I decided that maybe putting on legwarmers for yoga yesterday might make me feel a little spunky. And if I knew anything it was that I needed some spunk to stay in this fight.

When I got there on my mat and started moving, with me in my yoga tights and leg warmers, the image flashed before me of myself as a ballerina. It sounds silly but it’s what happened. And then my whole practice felt transformed. Suddenly I felt, for the first time in months, graceful, pretty and, dare I say it, a little light hearted. This ballet, it still felt a little tragic, but it was delicate and poetic and full of grace. It occurred to me that my yoga mat is often the only place where I feel this way. I feel confident on my yoga mat. I feel like I float with the current. I never feel this way off my mat. After class, I let this realization settle a bit. I felt like I had a little more clarity into my issues. I simply HAVE to do something about my self-esteem, I have to build myself up.

In a rare moment of softness towards myself, I realized something else. Something very important. So… when you agree to fight anorexia you aren’t just agreeing to eat food again. You’re agreeing to feel again. I’ve said this before, I know. But what occurred to me is that in all my time avoiding feeling, I’ve never learned how to deal with what comes up. So I’ve agreed to let the feelings in but I’ve no idea how to treat this new company. That being said, it’s not going to be graceful and easy at first. It’s going to be just as I feel off my mat: hyper sensitive, clumsy, awkward and uncomfortable. But I just have to keep practicing. (I realized too that this is not unique to me… EVERYONE is trying to get through life in the same way.) All of the common yoga sayings popped into my head: “Practice and all is coming” (Patthabi Jois), “Open to grace,” (John Friend/Anusara), etc.

In my attempts at getting organized, things are probably going to get really messy before they get cleaned up. (For the love of pete, let me be in the middle of the biggest mess right now, though…) Sure, it’s overwhelming when it’s all laid before me, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s to dive in head on. I’ve got to throw out the trash, I’ve got to be awkward and I’ve got to feel my way through this. But if I keep fighting, if I keep practicing, if I keep cleaning I know in my heart of hearts that one day I’ll look up and realize that there’s no more mess about me and that things are in order.

I just know it.

 

Yoga Mat, Battleground December 5, 2009

If you’ve not been through an eating disorder before, it can be very hard to understand just what is going on inside the head of someone who is. Today on my yoga mat, Ed* and I engaged in battle. I wrote it down in my recovery journal, but I thought it might be helpful to post it here for others to see. Maybe it will help some people make sense of this disorder. Maybe others who suffer will know that they aren’t alone.

I got to yoga and I sat down on my mat. The first thing I noticed was that it felt good to be there, on my mat. And then I decided that I was going to let this practice be organic. I wasn’t going to push myself to get farther in postures, I just wanted to be right where I was this morning and that would be great. As class began, we all closed our eyes and began centering. In that very moment that things went dark, Ed stepped in swiftly. This was the perfect place for him to start.

Ed: Hey, it’s dark in here. I’d like to fill all this space in. Let me turn on the light.
Jenny: No, Ed. This is my practice. You can’t have my yoga practice today.
Ed: Hey remember that you got rejected by your friends last night. I’m here for you because no one else wants you. I’m always here to help you when that happens. Don’t say no to me.
Jenny: I have not been rejected, Ed. And I don’t want you here anymore. When have you ever followed through on one of your promises to me?
Ed: That is some accusation, Jenny. You’re not good enough and I’m here to make you better. To guide you to perfection. If you’d do what I say for a change you’d see how happy I can make you.
Jenny: These are lies, Ed. I’ve had enough. I want to feel again.
Ed: NO! Look- look at that woman. Let’s see if you can be more flexible than her. That’ll make you better and happy.
Jenny: You’re desperate and trying to distract me. Stop. You can NOT have my yoga today. You’ve taken enough from me. Right now I’m FEELING, Ed. I feel my body. You never let me feel my body. It’s not fair.
Ed: That’s because the EYES have it. It’s not about feeling. What has feeling ever gotten you? Whatever. Anyway… Hey do you want to eat after this?
Jenny: ENOUGH, Ed. Be silent now. There’s no room for you on my mat.

The more I moved and felt myself move, the stronger my true voice became. I told Ed again that I was sick of him. He has only lied to me from day one. He told me yoga betrayed me. But it never did. The whole time it was Ed distracting me from the purpose of my practice. He can’t win with things like yoga around. He is so threatened by the thought of me connecting to myself. He wants me to believe I need him. He’s so desperate he’ll do anything. HE is the scared, weak one. Not me.

I hear Ed so loud and clear these days. He keeps screaming but what he doesn’t realize is that the more he screams, the more I understand what he sounds like. He screams but I will use his screaming to separate myself. If he’s taught me anything lately, Ed, it’s that this is geurilla warfare. That’s fine. The gloves have come off. Today, I’m ready to fight dirty.

I know the war is not over. But today I won this battle. And every victory gives me fuel and energy to persevere. Every victory gives me the will to keep fighting.

*It’s always helped me separate from the eating disordered voice in my head by giving it an identity separate from myself. So I call my ED Ed and I treat my ED like a person who is not myself. Because that is the truth: I am not my ED.

 

Renewal of Vows November 20, 2009

I was going to apologize for my inconsistent blogging but instead I decided to accept that I’ll probably never be a person who blogs on a regular basis (unless it’s regular that I’m inconsistent and in that case, I’ll proudly boast that I blog regularly). So even if I come here in spurts and even if I take a month or more off in between, I’ll feel uplifted that when I do make it back to my blog, I’m giving you a true part of me that is honest, open and heartfelt.

Here’s the truth. It’s not always the case, but a lot of times when I stop blogging it’s because I’m not riding the highs of life. Either I’m just coasting through or else I’m down in the dumps. The way that has always been my pattern is that when things get hard for me, when I struggle, I recoil. I go inward (in a bad way), refuse to ask for help, refuse to voice my hardships even when that is the time I most need to.

This was definitely the case in my last hiatus. As a matter of fact, I’ve told a few people now that this last low was actually the lowest I’ve felt since I was in therapy 2 years ago. It hurt me to say it at first. Just like before I entered therapy to get help with my ED, I was ashamed to say I was struggling or needed help. I think in this case it was hard because I’d been doing so well and it undercut my pride so greatly to say that after 1 year of doing so well, that I had “fallen prey” to ED again. I was supposed to be “recovered.” I mean, c’mon. It’s me we’re talking about. I was supposed to do recovery better than anyone ever has, right? Who me? No I’ll just need this one experience and then I’ll be a “pro” at recovery.

So I didn’t do recovery “perfectly.” So life happened and it happened fast. So I got caught off guard. So I stumbled. But did I fail? Am I failing because I still don’t feel quite back to where I was? For a little bit I thought I had. I couldn’t believe I had gone back to that place. The desire to restrict was so strong. It was so clear to me that I’d become checked out. I couldn’t concentrate on conversations with people. I was becoming abnormally forgetful again. I was crying a lot. And those desolate thoughts of “I can’t live my life like this.” “Why me? Why again? ” “Will this ever end?” came right back to me. The mental and physical fatigue that comes with it. I questioned my strength and my ability to remain a warrior in the fight against ED. I doubted my ability to win another battle.

This went on for a few weeks. And then, one day, I said it out loud. “I’m struggling with Ed right now.” One of the most powerful things I’ve done for myself in my recovery is simply to be open about it. I figure, the more people I tell, the more accountable I’ll be held to my own health and recovery. So at the risk of overshare, I just started telling people close to me that I was struggling. And I realized I hadn’t failed. Not even close. For starters, I’m immensely proud to say that during this period, I NEVER restricted. Not once. I wanted to. I wanted to really really badly. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I’m grateful for the strength that I did have from my previous bout with ED, the strength and awareness that I had gained that kept me from depriving myself of nutrition.

Like I said, things aren’t quite back to where they were before, but I’m working on it. I’m trying. I’m not giving up. I’m taking some new lessons from this. For starters, and the whole point of blogging today, I am RECOMMITTING myself to a CONTINUAL effort to be healthy and proactive in maintaining my recovery. One of the downfalls to thinking that you’ve “perfected” recovery is that if (and/or when) relapse happens, you’re caught blindsided. The mistake I made was thinking I’d be immune to any kind of relapse.

Another mistake was that I was defining relapse too extremely. To me, relapse was going back to my old patterns and not knowing what I was doing and/or not wanting to go back to healthy eating. This of course is wrong. Now that I am body aware again after struggling with ED, I don’t think it will ever be possible for me to not know again when I am becoming detached from my body and leaning towards disordered eating.

So here are a few of the lessons I’m taking away from this latest battle:

For starters, once again I have discovered the importance of being vocal and open equally during the highs and the lows. I will no longer be ashamed when things feel as though they’re going downhill. Instead, I’ll be honest about it. I have an amazing support system ranging from my amazing family and friends to my cybershala on Twitter. I’m loved by these people and I know they want me to be happy and healthy, so why not let them be there for me?

I also think it’s time I became a little more of an activist in the recovery world. I think it will be good for me, it will keep me motivated. But also, how wonderful to be able to help others like me? When I was in therapy and I started to become happier, I was finally able to see just how deeply in the dumps I’d been for the entirety of my untreated ED. I have always meant it when I’ve said since then that I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy (if I had one) or the most heinous person on the earth. What an awful, awful way to have to live our lives. It’s unfair. No one should live like that. So I want to be more active, in anyway I can. I have a lot of love and compassion to share and I think there has never been a better time for me to share it with the ED community.

Finally, I am going to have start by showing myself a little compassion. For Namaste Book Club right now, we’re reading a wonderful book by Pema Chodron and I’m learning a lot about befriending myself and everything about me. My favorite line from the book so far is when Pema writes, “The desire to change is a form of aggression toward ourselves.” So often I think I’m working to rid myself of my ED. I think, “If I can just do x,y and z, I’ll be free of these thoughts.” Or ,”I’d be so much happier if I didn’t have to deal with ED.” Well sure. Of course I would. But the truth of the matter is… I have Ed’s voice with me. So this isn’t changing. Now my work (and believe me when I say it’s work) is to learn to live along side of that voice. To be aware of what ED sounds like vs what Jenny sounds like. To allow mindfulness to help me when I want to react to Ed. Recovery isn’t black and white. I don’t have to feel like a swinging pendulum. I can listen for and be soft with Ed when he pipes up. I can kill him with kindness, even.

The key here, the most important thing, is that I acknowledge my ED. No more hiding it. No need to go back and forth. No need to be anything other than what I am. And what I am is a young woman who lived with anorexia and who works to strengthen herself everyday from it. I won’t let my past or current battles define me. I refuse to be “Jenny, who had an eating disorder.” But I will work with what I’ve been given. Not defining myself by my ED struggles does not mean that I also ignore them all together. My ED and recovery are not things to hide any longer. I am honest (and even outspoken) about every other aspect of my life. This will be no exception.

It occurs to me that I’ve written blogs very similar to this in the past but here it is again. No matter how many times I reiterate and reshape this same idea, I’ll rewrite this¬† blog every day til I die and mean it. No matter how many times I have to do it, I will always and forever commit myself to health and happiness, to truth and to freedom.

 

Vegan Mofo: Oops October 14, 2009

Filed under: vegan,vegan mofo — Jenny @ 8:35 pm
Tags: ,

Life was a lot easier when I had all these blogs planned, written and scheduled to post while I was out living life.

So today isn’t gonna be a real Vegan Mofo post… Unless you’d like to know that I ate a lot of peanut butter today and then made some curry for dinner.

My mind is occupied by thoughts of Colorado. I publicly announced it on twitter earlier, but I’m officially stating on my blog now:

My roommate got a job and is moving to Frankfort, KY. The man she’s working for there is part owner of our apartment contract and is terminating our lease with no financial obligation to us. I’m renting a room with a friend back in Evansville for the next few months, getting a second job, saving every penny that I don’t need to pay bills or eat and then MOVING TO COLORADO in February or March.

It’s feels good that life has a great new goal.¬† I’m so ready to get out of Kentucky, Indiana, the mid-west in general. I’ve gotten great things from this place, but key parts of my life I’ve put on hold because I know I wouldn’t be willing to settle here. This is the next big adventure.

But, to bring it all full circle, there’s this great restaurant in Denver called City O’ City and they have DELICIOUS vegan food and desserts (desserts, I say!) and so I can’t wait to eat there all the time….. :) Happy Vegan Mofo Day 14, folks.

 

Vegan MoFo: The Magical Fruit October 13, 2009

Filed under: recipe,vegan,vegan mofo — Jenny @ 12:01 am
Tags: ,

Listen y’all… I. Love. Beans. Okay? I just do. They’re amazing. So today I’m sharing with you my favorite bean soup. This baby is packed with beans from every angle. I love it and it is a perfect fall/winter pick-me-up.

(I got this recipe from the Vegan Outreach pamphlet that is available in pdf or mail form.)

Bean Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium onion- chopped

2 tsp minced garlic

2 tbsp oil

2 cups veg broth or salsa (I use all salsa but you can also do half and half)

15 oz each:

  • diced/crushed tomatoes
  • red kidney beans (drained/rinsed)
  • vegetarian refried beans
  • black beans (drained/rinsed)

1/2 tsp cumin

Check out how easy this is to make: In your soup pot, sautee the onion and garlic in the oil. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Eat and be happy.

 

Vegan MoFo: Who’s Blogging?? October 12, 2009

Filed under: vegan,vegan mofo — Jenny @ 12:01 am
Tags: ,

It occurs to me as I’m posting recipes that I’m mostly just posting the recipes of the small circle of vegan bloggers and so today I thought I’d formally give them all the nod. These are my favorite blogs to visit when I’m I am looking for a yummy new recipe to try out.

First and foremost:

Happy Vegan Yogini

Not only does she make deeeelicious food (she turned me on to brussel sprouts!) but she’s a fellow yogini and I’m honored to call her my friend. Check her out!

Next up:

Happy Herbivore

She always has yummy food to try. So far my favorite of her recipes is her Black Bean Brownies. To. Die. For.

Not to leave out:

Vegan Dad

Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Two super bloggers who always have a delicious meal at the ready. Love it!

This is today’s Vegan Food of the Day so browse these blogs, find something that suits your fancy and get cooking!

 

 
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