Last night I dreamt I was swimming in baggy clothes. More specifically, I wore a particular pair of black capris that I own, except in the dream they were baggier and covered my entire leg. Although a bit scared and unsure, I wasn’t actually drowning because I remember coming up for breath. Two of my childhood girlfriends were “teasing” me. They were touching me while I was under the dark ocean water, making fun. My friends were wet too, but walking rather than swimming. Also featured in the dream was a guy I associate with this time in my youth. I couldn’t tell if he was close or far-off. There’s a chance he was looking for me. But I couldn’t get more near without my friends slash bullies.
If he’s not the person you would have chosen for yourself, you have to admit feelings! This proves you’re still in the place you started from—he hasn’t turned into some type of “calling” or “answer”—these are “just” feelings. The only rule about feelings is, in my opinion: Don’t fight liking someone because you “think” that person isn’t right unless he is obviously dangerous or the situation is clearly inappropriate. Lay it out. That’s why games aren’t worth it to me. This isn’t about getting someone else or winning a particular person, being mysteriously attractive or something like that. This is about having the courage to put my own desire on the table. Until then “he’s” nothing special. That’s the entire point in admitting desire; to create the opportunity for specialness.
There are, of course, some people in my life I’ve decided are special without admitting anything. This was me being a little girl. Take “Frank,” for example, I remember talking to Mom and my closest friends about him. Following Frank, I got completely consumed in someone else. That is when I gained my most weight. Some of that weight was necessary. Ultimately, I gained too much.
Now, back to Frank. It’s hard to realize how true my feelings were. Because at the time I was living from a more hidden and sub-conscious place. Then again, it was evident I liked Frank, I think, but once I finally did get to know him I realized he wasn’t right.
I’ve made up stories about past lives related to various guys. One I decided was my father (ironically, this is the only one that is my age). Another (i.e. Frank) I met at a market. The last is a former relative from a different village! Mostly; however, I think this is little girl’s stuff–like “my anorexia.” Yet none of these guys were particularly mature either, regardless of how youthful or aged.
One. If he doesn’t take his own feelings seriously, someone he “feels” for isn’t serious either. Duh! Two. Spending time around this person (any person, per example) makes me doubt myself in direct proportion to “his” own artificiality. Three. Almost everything “he” tells me, I can’t help but wonder: “Did you study me beforehand? Is this rehearsed?” It doesn’t matter if he actually likes me, or merely the idea! He NEEDS to play; to get “you” into “him” because he lacks sense of self. That makes the dude a con. Four. Working with someone who is curious in learning about my personal life before following through on important (professional) tasks I’ve pointed out need to be done. In short, he asks for favors without finishing the job. I feel guilty and needy about “demanding” too much when, in fact, I am the co-worker or client. But he seems interested in me and I don’t want to ruin that; I want to impress him. Five. He’s clearly trying to plug into me through conversation—yet continues to test and walk tightropes rather than providing a genuine invitation, offer of support or giving me a real chance. Meanwhile, I “can’t” want him because then he loses his game! In the end, that’s what this is all about–his game.
~ Six: Ladies, don’t degrade yourselves. It’s not your game. So don’t play! ~
I put “admit” in quotations because by that word I mean, in a general sense, bring them up. Explaining where you stand and what your interpretations are without a profuse confession or implying any kind of commitment.
As a 15 year-old girl, if I had a crush on my 30 year-old coach, that seems inappropriate to admit. The coach should not be playing with me or teasing, either. He is considered the adult in charge and there could be grave consequences. This would be, like, a little girl’s crush for a teenager who knows she is better off with people in her own age bracket.
However, if I am age 21 or in my early twenties in a non-personal relationship with my coach in his late twenties to early thirties, this is very real and not a game. Over the past four years, my reoccurring experience is that men seven to 12 years older think it is okay to play with me like a little girl. To come in without an invitation, ask questions, talk about himself and have what I would consider an intimate conversation related to family, personal life, etc. This is what I call a tease or playing. Perhaps he finds me intelligent in an intriguing way–my achievements are impressive; I am mature . But I don’t come off as sexual (enough) or amount to a woman he wants to “be mine” or brag about.
In the latter case, you admit feelings. You admit feelings that were not there initially. This is not, for example, the type of person, you’d have noticed at the supermarket. Regardless, this is someone who drew you in, maybe he didn’t do it on purpose but that just proves he is unaware. To conclude, there is only one solution, which is: Get a different coach!
Last week someone gave me a lecture over e-mail when I didn’t get back soon enough. Immediately, I included another person in the loop, letting the first person know it was unacceptable to corner me in. Because in fact I should have received a call or text before a second e-mail telling me, “Laura, you’re rude.” E-mail can be fickle. Before getting mad at someone over e-mail try other forms of communication. If this person’s goal was to get close, that chance is ruined.
When you’re working with someone, gage the other person’s comfort level before getting personal. In Sick, the story ends with a man who makes me feel very used, and it starts because of how he crosses the line in a professional situation. Then again, how could this man have considered “my line”–he was far too full of himself! In these types of situations, no matter how clear I make my line, he is going to “innocently” dig his nails in. All along, I get more mushy. Recently, I found myself in a similar situation, came out and said to the person: “I like you and am interested.” I wanted to let him know, “Good job, you win!” And, at the same time, I guess, Shame On You! Deal with your own insecurities–don’t waste my time, ideas, money.
Growing up, Mom talked about family. The family was supposed to be bigger since the grandparents died on Mom’s side, my Yochelson grandfather got a heart attack (one of several) in the airport before my parents were even married and not everybody got along well with Grandma Kay. Despite the turmoil, I was seen as this kind of “pure” anchor. Looking back, adults should have paid more attention concerning why I felt so responsible.
Today I see people with their big families. Each child stays part of the family. Or at least it looks that way in pictures–they all still seem so similar; it’s kind of boring.
When it comes to family, if someone uses the word love, is it because of the blood relation and innocent memories? To me, family is something to be grateful for but it is also an exchange. I have a close relationship with my mom although often feel a need to convince her of my feelings. I regularly go intervals without seeing my dad but he’ll still text me about his work and the weather with an xox or call. I make a point to update him on the professional stuff that I think will, similar to Mom, persuade him of my progress. My sister and I have had one real conversation on the phone over the last three-four months. We “like” each other on Facebook but she is much more social and busy with work.
To me, this is family. Family is about proving myself. Not proving that I am one of us but rather proving that I am a capable independent and don’t “need” them. Perhaps that sounds harsh. But it’s how I’ve been raised and learned to think. Toughen up–or you won’t make it in this cold world.
I don’t drink soda. I don’t think any of my (closest) friends drink soda, either. This isn’t a coincidence. Because I “judge” people who do and think it is unhealthy.
I don’t smoke. I don’t have any friends who smoke. Part of me feels sorry for people who struggle with this addiction because I’ve had my own (eating disorder). I don’t feel sorry for people who smoke just to be cool or don’t try to get help.
I don’t drink coffee. I don’t hold anything against people who drink coffee and know how to savor/enjoy it. I think that is wonderful. It’s people who live off coffee, use it as a substitute for food or go crazy without it that I think need a slower pace.
I don’t drink alcohol. Of course most people drink alcohol. Similar to how my grandmother tried pressuring me into soda, I’ve been warned by older adults in a way that implies people won’t like me because of this, I should just be more normal and drink some wine as part of the social atmosphere. (You won’t get any friends or boyfriend, Laura.) As if I abstain from alcohol on purpose to selfishly draw attention! When I see pictures with a guy wrapping his arm around a girl and holding his beer up in front of her body or close to her face that feels so wrong and disgusting.
In my second book, the main character experiences hugging. As of seventh or eighth grade girls started to give each other hugs. I guess I played along, although not a fan. Hugging used to be very hard (with the opposite sex, especially), then I gave too much. Be aware of whom, how and under what circumstances hugging occurs. Even though hugs were supposed to be just cool in middle school, they aren’t a joke. Giving is unnecessary; don’t get fooled! The last time someone asked for a hug, and I rejected him–it felt so good. Because that forced him to hug me first! All he could manage was wrapping an elbow around my neck in a way that almost choked. And there I had been, putting far more into it, and getting so little back.
My perception of becoming an adult (in childhood)
Life was supposed to pick me up, make me change but I was not supposed to have feelings about it all. If a guy didn’t save the day, basketball would. This process should mostly happen “unconsciously.”
Something I wish people noticed in childhood before “anorexia”
All of the little ways in which I kept making myself smaller, such as by not smiling with teeth, until eventually the entire coloring surrounding me turned pale.
How I feel about myself sometimes
This was not supposed to be who I am. You do not know (Laura). That “successful” basketball star I was at nine, ten, eleven years old with all of her friends–She stole me.
Just a tom-boy with OCD no one really knows
Had my family not moved, the plan was to keep playing and maintain my secrets. When it came to boys, I couldn’t let the people I wanted “attract me” because I lacked self-trust. I didn’t need anybody to think I liked him or had a crush, I just wanted the right to follow my feelings and curiosities without being judged or making mental prophecies!
At school, my friends could be unkind. It was easy to find my place in the group by letting them make fun of me and call me silly names. Still, I couldn’t give basketball up or people would stop caring. I’m like this nobody inside without basketball and yet I supposedly loved it so much, how could that sport have become the problem?
In childhood I got “lucky” because guys liked me; I didn’t have to find my feelings. If things kept going on as they had in sixth grade, most likely, I would have had more of a peer group and high school boyfriend. Not that any of these people would come close to knowing the truest version, but because I was in. My sporty successes made me cool. I was smart. I’d known these people since first grade and we got here together! Life and guys and other good things happened because of my “basketball” reality.
How was I ever going to make it without basketball; the sport was supposed to be for “Laura”–like just deal with her, because no one wanted more. I was merely a child, anyways, and adults did not pick up on how serious my need for change was and how unhealthy it was for basketball to get SO built up. Until therapists entered the picture and it was too late–I had to be fixed back into the better tattered version of who I used to be! All of a sudden everybody forgot how much pain basketball brought me because the label “anorexia nervosa” sounded that much worse.
Sometimes I wish I could go back in the past and have my basketball awesomeness but, today, unless I actually became a WNBA player, SO WHAT? I didn’t do basketball, but I became a personal trainer at 18, learned all about yoga and write books! If I’d stayed in Maryland and things worked out, people would continue to think “basketball” (and maybe teacher’s pet) when they think Laura Yochelson. But that was never me; Laura simply couldn’t play (or have feelings) without her court.
Later, looking back
Recently, I stopped by the community center on my way home. I watched a group of kids practice and walked. What I realize about basketball today is this: I was talented and the culture was cool. That’s about it. To those kids, they were just having fun. A guy enjoyed the ego boost of making a three pointer. It certainly did not appear that any of these boys were undergoing the paralyzing anxiety that secretly defined my life at that age. When basketball failed to materialize I felt like nothing was worth it and realized how little my life mattered. Although other opportunities could have opened up without such pressure, all people seemed to believe was that I needed another basketball!
As a child, I was just “little.” Little Laura, like in Sick. Nobody considered me “skinny.” Everybody used the word small. “Athletic,” better yet. I meshed well. My name resembles that of my older sibling (L and L) in a way that makes us seem attractively sisterly. In childhood, parents of my friends also complimented me and compared me to their daughters.
“Who is five feet yet? Ginger or Laura? You girls are so alike…”
But, in my own head, Ginger was always a little bit skinner. A smidgen smarter. A centimeter or two taller. Perhaps she only liked me because basketball made me cooler (until she found her own). In short, Ginger was that much more of everything I wanted to be. Yet, Ginger never knew I had thoughts like this, and neither did her mother. In fact, Ginger’s mom wrote my mom a thoughtful note before we moved about what a good friend and person I am.
So, what made me different? Maybe Ginger tried a diet and resisted her period at first but she never struggled with a full-blown EATING DISORDER. She earned academic success and athletic distinction plus got a boyfriend, when all I had was secrets and more doctors and talk about death. Somewhat unfathomable for such a once upon a time joyous Susanne.
In the end, I do admit, I’ll probably get more out of life than Ginger. Not that anybody is comparing, of course!
I don’t like to read general relationship advice anymore. People whose work I follow regularly might write about relationships–that’s a little different. I went through a phase about reading books on intimacy, relationships, etc. a couple years ago. I read books by popular self-help gurus, phDs, and articles on the Internet. It helped, somewhat, but also got me thinking too much.
I have nothing against authors, books and articles on relationships. However, I find it much more valuable to draw and share my own conclusions instead of posting about other people’s work or trying to memorize a professional’s formula. I process things in my own way, and have been looked down upon by others in the family for that. I don’t mean to blame my parents, who meant to facilitate such processing by putting me in therapy, but at the same time this shows they didn’t trust me. There was always something wrong with my own processing (“You need a lot of time,” in the words of Dad); a professional being “required” to lead my way.
Communication can make me quite anxious. Later I’ll wish I’d acted sooner or said more. Just this morning this happened with someone who noticed me. I couldn’t let myself talk (more) because the first thing I thought was I don’t look good enough, I don’t deserve it. I might go as far as putting words in the other person’s mouth through my head and think, He can’t be interested. I’d just come from exercising, wasn’t wearing make-up, hadn’t done my hair. Somehow the other person seems so perfect to me and no matter if he’s drawn to me first in my own head I’m never right or worthy enough. Automatically, I tend to think in terms of getting things over with and “rushing” through life in this way because I am anxious.
I mostly process things alone but am close with my mom; we’re not quite as close as we used to be, which for me is healthier and will allow for other people in my life. Having been “anorexic,” “seclusion” is familiar. I know very well how to hide away and survive on my own. I’ve gotten by for long periods of time, just me, caught back and forth between places like the family ping-pong ball, not knowing anybody particularly well or having my own social life. I’m learning to stand up for what I want a little better. Plus, I often do activities around people. Rather than get caught up in relationship advice, the best thing would be for me to get involved without worrying. Because nothing is worse than not being connected to “anybody.”
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone that didn’t work? So you ended the relationship knowing it was the right thing to do. But in your head there was still so much to figure out. Once you figured that stuff out you wanted to show your face again and prove it. Then all of a sudden being back in communication specifically around this person you realize “Shoot, I haven’t changed!” Well, actually, I have, but not around “him.” Because the issue is bigger than ME. To conclude, don’t get caught up in these types of situations and relationships that bring shame. Focus on figuring things out in your own head (and heart) being enough. Don’t worry about proving anything to someone who isn’t right in the long run, anyways.
For the last 12-13 years (maybe more than that) I’ve been associating with times in life that no longer “exist.” This idea is carried on through the main character of my second book. There have been some aspects of realism (i.e. my “eating disorder”) but it is just those things that, historically, I’ve been rejected for. Often, I catch myself getting stuck in my head over tiny things that seem to have enormous importance. Then, there is a trigger that makes me realize the body is holding. I’m learning to work with the clues and not get so trapped by my own thinking.
Unlike Sick, my second book is fiction. However, pieces of the second book are inspired by my first, including role of male authority figures, tumultuous change in early life and personal relationships. I have decided not to write directly about eating disorders because “eating disorders” limits my reading audience to those interested in the subject. Thus, even though eating disorders are prevalent in society today, I understand why people wouldn’t choose a book on the topic to read for fun because it is quite serious! In my second book, the main character’s eating and exercise habits are irrelevant. This is not about describing an intense struggle and how the main character makes her way through but, rather, the desire to lose one’s self in love and healing. The story still involves romance, although the main character must grow a lot to get what she wants, rather than “who” she thinks!
Something different between the first and second books are names I chose. For the first book, I chose pretty and flowery names such as Hibiscus to lighten up serious situations, or names that directly connected to the nature of someone’s personality and appearances such as Ginger or their symbolic meaning in my life like January or Dr. Graves. In the second book, I do not repeat any names used in the first book. The antagonist, for instance, has a name that sounds very pure and innocent. Nobody would expect someone with his name to be a trickster!
In my second book, “love” turns against the main character. A man takes advantage of her. But is he truly the root cause of her suffering, or merely a vain and convenient object to desire:
People create this other life that isn’t “who” (you’d like to think) they are. How much do they have “that” and you just don’t want to know? How do you trust if who “he” is around you is really who he is? Or if he just likes the person he becomes around you:
And it is all me.
Trying to send secret messages across the Internet without owning it. Yet wants to show off and is dying for all to see. Just looking for what he wishes out of my actions without putting a foot down. I have to be the one who wants; his only job is to pull out “my” desire and gobble it like a pig.
Now, I’m grossed out!
~ The main character in my second book might say ~
“I gave him an opportunity to take control of the situation and recognize me. He was so into it—but made assumptions rather than do the assertive thing. It’s got to be all about him; if I don’t go out of my way to demonstrate immediate, intense interest—he doesn’t care enough and draws conclusions instead of communicating.”
Last weekend I walked through the shops on an unsuccessful search for sandals. I gave the same look “away” to the person I was interested in and the one who creeped me out. In both instances, I reacted immediately because of that feeling in my chest. I couldn’t go into the shoe store because a man was working there. Not a man I was interested in but, still, I worried about my feet being unappealing. In fact, it could have been almost any man; I feel a need to placate EVERY man and, often, women. More recently I had a very clear dream. I woke up pasted in shame. Another interesting thing: Before I got labeled as sick, people really liked certain qualities about me, such as my sensitivity and even my polite quietness! Around food, people joked around and thought my strange peculiarities were cute and fun. Then when I was diagnosed with mental disorders everybody thought I should get rid of those pieces as if they were bad. I do not think that is fair.
Ever feel like there’s too much going on and how did it all happen? Something in my chest has to be let out! I remember trying to explain a similar feeling to the psychiatrist my parents made me see when I was fourteen. I told him I don’t understand, the problem starts here (in my chest), why are you just focusing on the head component? Apparently, adults missed the point. I cried and screamed in the car when my mom drove me to the shrink. Often, she cried too. But she still made me go.
I have to, Laura.
So tell me, who was making her? What was making her? Why was she disconnected from me? Because going to the psychiatrist only made things worse. I think if people had listened to me more. If people had let me have more of what I want outside of me that would have loosened my need to hold onto anorexia inside. I get this goes against yoga. But think about it. I was always that “good” child. My sister “wanted” far more material items. I gave her the front seat. The restaurant choices. And constantly empathized with my mother who in her own way ended up turning against me when I got sick. Of course Mom only wanted me to be better, and I love her very much. But she too was unhappy and didn’t know what to do. Everyone was unhappy.
Plain and simple, it was easiest to point all fingers on anorexia and focus on Laura’s problem in this way. Lisa’s childhood wasn’t golden, but she got variety. For me there was a limit: basketball. Basketball made me so cool! Most importantly it proved me to Dad and gave him a favorable opinion of his daughter in addition to drawing other boys at school. Basketball made me that special girl who isn’t needy like the rest. Basketball not because I wanted it or because it was ever truly mine but because basketball let me exist! I was just like this little dot that didn’t deserve anything unless she was really good at it and planned on becoming the next Shaq.
Without basketball I was such a nobody! Of course, my disease stole the prize. She’s so selfish. The formerly almost perfect Laura who becomes a waste basket for collecting everyone else’s anger when all of a sudden she is human.
I was born at George Washington University Hospital. According to Mom I wanted a move on, so she opted out of drugs. Thankfully, I came right on time. My family; however, did not live in DC. In my book, Sick, I share about our house in Bethesda. Nevertheless, I somewhat “grew up” downtown because my grandmother lived there and Dad’s office was located there along with the pro basketball teams. For sports games we drove and then took the metro. When I came to my dad’s office we drove all the way.
I don’t understand people who grew up in Bethesda or Potomac and are mesmerized by downtown Washington. Maybe it’s because I’m not a political person or corporate person. I appreciate convenience, but big cities make me feel distant although, funnily enough, they’re so busy! Growing up, my parents wanted a yard, a nice house they could afford, and the best public school system (by rating).
I furthermore do not understand young people who want to live in New York City. I want to be close to nature–everyday! I’ve been to New York. I’d visit again. Both Mom’s and Dad’s side have a history there. For me, New York is TOO loud. I get some people need their job in NYC, find good opportunities and jive with the fast pace and culture. But I want people to look at me and see beautiful forests, mountains and lakes–not think of big buildings! I don’t get people who do something in NYC they might as well do in Vermont, for example. Just to be cool, eh? Whatever. Obviously some writers thrive in “the big apple.” I’ll eat a pear with sand instead.
Last year I confessed to my sixth grade crush. I did not remember my sixth grade crush until I saw a random picture online in 2013. I’m not sure I considered him a crush at the time but later realized he was.
In truth the picture wasn’t exactly random. Basically, I was researching on the public high school I would have attended had my family not moved. At one point I came across a picture of my crush via someone else’s profile. I remembered the feelings he uncovered in me. So I said I liked you. Who knows if I’d like him today! But I felt something for him then and decided to show myself I’m not that girl who forgets herself anymore.
As it turns out, I had two sixth grade crushes. The one I confessed to, and another with totally different looks and personality. The second one I was friendly with; we played sports. With him there could have actually been something. The first sixth grade crush was more like the seventh grade crush in the sense that I couldn’t touch. The only reason I maybe did was because my peer group at the time overlapped with his. But I couldn’t get into it and didn’t know what to make of what he brought up in me. There wasn’t space in my life with basketball and friends. I never told anyone, not even Mom! Although I did kind of have an elementary school crush early on, he was cute but not particular to me. The sixth grade crush was completely different, closer inside (even from a distance) and the first of a specific type. Nonetheless, a completely different boy ended up asking me out in sixth grade. His friend approached me for him. Or maybe his friend approached my friend in the cafeteria at lunch.
- “Whereas others tried to distract themselves from acknowledging the tension at home, I could not help but notice it, and usually found myself caught in the middle of the mess.” page 18
- “More than being curious about boys, I was scared of what I might want to know about them.” page 32
- “…some type of energy I experienced difficulty translating into words to try and explain.” page 33
- “I worried that January would neglect me too.” page 35
- “Even if Dana was not as athletic-looking as I was, and even if Dana did not eat healthfully, Dana was pretty.” page 37
- “Everybody was watching…” page 50
- “Shadow always soaked up the spotlight that was supposed to belong to ME.” page 52
- “My petty problems seemed liked nothing compared to the type of tough stuff I knew Breeze had been through.” page 57
- “I wanted so badly to be a San Diego girl.” page 89
- “I picked at my skin. I pinched myself. I pulled my hair out.” page 109
Read directly from the interior on Amazon here!
How much does e-mail matter? How much does the way a person composes an e-mail say about that individual?
Some things are obvious. Education level, most likely. Additionally, whether or not somebody exhibits a clear ability to think things through or demonstrates carelessness.
Is the recipient’s name used in e-mail? It definitely makes an e-mail more personal, but in a friendly and professional manner.
Do one write e-mail like text messages? I don’t write an e-mail like a text message unless it is something quick, the conversation has continued for a while, and it seems appropriate to maintain the flow. But I don’t use “fun” abbreviations unless in a joking or personal context.
I think e-mail says quite a bit about a person. Spelling and word choice–okay, this isn’t school. I’m more concerned about tone. In any kind of relationship, do you want to get closer, or not? Is that how you talk to people? Because, generally, I pick up on the way someone else writes and begin to respond in a tone that resembles theirs.
Something that annoys me is when someone writes an e-mail and makes a paragraph out of a sentence or two (three tops). The e-mail ends up to be about five paragraphs; short, crisp and personal but not really. Again and again (s)he communicates in the same way and is only available ONLY via e-mail. The relationship feels completely cut off with too many blank spaces. An e-mail should be like natural talking, ideally. If the person shows a completely different face on e-mail than in the real world, I think that is a warning. And especially if (s)he is closed off when it comes to talking or communicating further.
Of course, there are numerous cases when the most important thing is just to get back to someone, no matter how. Nevertheless, I pay attention to my reactions. If the way someone writes e-mail’s or other messages to me makes me feel great…terrific! If not, that is important. This is 2014 and e-mail, text messaging, etc. are–for better or worse–an essential aspect of communicating that, sometimes, “set-up” our in person reactions. To put it simply, if I don’t like the way a person talks to me via e-mail, I don’t need to hear or say much more.
In my experience, a social person being with a less social person is not a good solution for the less social person. The more social person thinks the less social person is artistic in a mysterious and cool ways. Perhaps the more social person is envious of the less social person’s rich spiritual side “beyond” people.
But the less social person is kind of embarrassed and ashamed. Who does she have to fall back on when the more social person is out with all his friends socializing and flirting? To the more social person this behavior is regular. He’s not going to share the details with the less social person who begins to feel second-rate and unimportant.
It is hard for the more social person to understand the less social person. Being the less social person, I no longer find those social people attractive. I feel I have to change me in order to keep up with that person’s life and become part of it. Yet there is no way to invite the other person into my life in an equal way. The thought of turning “my world” into a tool to impress somebody else is disenchanting.
I think people today–guys and girls–think they are being attractive when they post pictures of themselves with friends, going out, probably with alcohol. Really this person is trying to prove he or she is normal and desirable: “See, women and men like me…I’m cool…I go out and have a life.”
Overall, I prefer my quiet, simple ways. I’m no longer interested men who lure me mostly because other people are into it without thinking, Is he actually right for me? I have my own life. In fact, he doesn’t have what I do and my world is not his for the taking!
Drove the old neighborhood yesterday. Here’s what I wrote in the car:
“An unimaginable, spectacular new beginning! It was supposed to be totally phenomenal. Nothing could ever mean as much; California was mine! Today, I feel terribly sorry and bad things failed (here).”
I remember quite a bit about that house. The details of the landscaping and design. Parts of putting the place together were fun and, overall, neighbors liked me. But it never seemed real. Some part of me never came. I kept wondering, “When are we going to go back home (to Maryland)? I love having all this, but that ‘first’ life will follow through, right World?”
How foolish and sad! No wonder I felt so alone.
I tried with a strong determination to make it work. Yet, no one noticed me–I could never prove her enough. “Giving up” hasn’t ever been my problem but, rather, not being appreciated and feeling neglected inside.
Perhaps such a title makes my answers too obvious.
But who doesn’t know folks on the east coast…folks who say they want to move to southern California and claim to be that kind of “different” species?
Maybe some of these people have visited or already have a connection through work, friends or family to the place. Yet they fail to separate from their east coast roots entirely, like I was forced to do when my family picked up and left for California before I became a teenager.
I think it is natural for someone to imagine Southern California in his or her mind, especially during winter. Plus, the culture is pervasive and constantly romanticized in our environments–take a look in your closet and kitchen cabinets or just turn on the television and walk around the mall.
It bugs me when people come out and claim southern California without making some pretty big sacrifices, like I did in childhood. The first time I visited California was probably when I was three. I have family in different parts of southern and northern California, which made these areas convenient to visit. My dad is that culture guy, so we generally spent time at museums and historic places. But my sister and I got our share of fun stuff too. Over a period of almost ten years we checked out the various amusement, water and animal parks. Later, I visited some of these places again with children I babysat for!
Regardless of how much time I’ve spent here previously (almost a decade when you add up the back and forth), I still think it is easy to get lost in southern California. The place is humungous and distances widespread. Sure, the beach towns have a special energy/community but this place is full of (incredible) canyons and originally belonged to the coyotes. There can be a dry, desert and deserted feeling if you lose touch with the water (in my personal experience). People live very individualized lives and you’re bound to hear transplants from any other place in the country complain about their flaky-ness.
In southern California, there’s the old-school folks who have been here forever, can’t imagine being anywhere else and might not understand “other” types but already have tons (or a tightly-knit group) of similar-minded friends. Don’t expect to be included with them! Then, there’s the newer people with their east-coast intelligence who think it’s cool to live here, show-off but aren’t in touch with the celebration of ocean creatures.
Southern California can also be a very competitive area academically; think of all the California universities and sports! I got into the various UC’s and seriously considered Claremont-McKenna; it didn’t feel great at my high school graduation when the principal announced I was going to an east coast school that wasn’t ivy league. I didn’t apply to ivy league because of my parent’s conflicting influence. People here don’t seem to know or care for DC unless it’s Georgetown basketball.
Folks unfamiliar with southern California don’t seem to think there’s an actual culture here beyond “gnarly” and “dude” but in fact the sea is a most powerful, nurturing and creative force that runs through it all. I wasn’t ready for such an “awakening” at age 12; I think this explains in part why I felt suicidal near the water. The ocean is incredible. But how many people who live here–besides the hardcore surfers and regular walkers (who don’t wear headphones)–truly notice and marvel in “her” beauty on a regular basis?
The weather is nice, yeah, still there’s a lot more going on than that. My point is people from the east coast who complain about it there would most likely end up looking at the water from a distance and go back to their same superficial lives in fitness or super-busyness or behind office doors within a matter of months. The only reason to come here, honestly, would be to open up to something entirely different and new. Plan on giving a lot up to let the sea all the way in and experience her gems. This is not an easy task.
To conclude, southern California is one of the most superficial places. Perhaps, unfortunately, that explains exactly why it’s perfect for some of those people “we” all know on the east coast?! Plus, the traffic is terrible. Not to mention the smog or pollution in certain areas. It is also quite expensive, so you’d better learn to save gas and walk places or win the lottery! Stop idealizing California just because of how movies, songs, clothing shops, food chains, advertisements, etc. have come to portray the place and its hyper-attractive, overly tan people. There’s a lot of hiding, shame and fake-ness going on to maintain such a perfected beauty.
Ages 13-14. I started to get really heavy feeling, even as I lost weight. I couldn’t get excited about things–like the weekend–or look forward to stuff like I used to. I remember a pool party I attended at the end of eighth grade with, overall, the high-achieving kids. I wore a bikini but not the showy kind and wasn’t nearly fully developed. I felt incredibly self-conscious but people didn’t know me that well and seemed to think, perhaps, this is just how she gets. Inside I realize there are people all around but something is onto me they aren’t experiencing…
I cannot explain what was beginning to overtake me. I looked good, arguably, but could not mold with my peers. I wanted to be here and for boys to like me but in the moment too much was going on. I felt terribly ashamed and embarrassed too. People laughed; I feared their lack of compassion.
The more I couldn’t count on the ability of a boy to make me happy and realized the answer wasn’t as simple as getting someone else the more I lost interest in the opposite sex and the whole world became ugly to me. People are this interruption; I feel very invaded. Nobody knows me but at the same time you can’t know me. You can’t see. What you see isn’t who I am; I am not this sick girl so do not judge!
Today is Valentine’s day and yesterday I walked in a special place where I used to run and first began to develop an eating disorder. I walked in a location I describe in my first book and remembered what I used to think about 11-12 years ago, including my seventh grade crush. At first, I tried imagining in my mind the “slow” but constant descent of my own mental health before everything became so extreme. Then I realized the only thing that made me feel good to think about as a middle schooler was my crush or other guys “I couldn’t (dare try to) get”–especially since I lost basketball. There were boys that liked me and one I went running with but nothing held.
By ninth grade I was full-blown anorexic and basically uninterested in boys. Actually, a guy liked me in biology and he seemed fine. But not sexually (on my part); he was smart, had a sense of humor. Still I would never have wanted (him) to get close. I don’t remember his name. There were other guys from the running team but the whole thing felt gross and I was too focused on being less than other girls.
By early eleventh grade I was in regular therapy. The therapist believed adamantly that everything was about sex. If I had a dream with the ocean in it, it was about sex. If I liked a guy at school she’d pry me to say more like “what body part” but that felt wrong/too minuscule and ultimately left my own shame unaddressed.
The therapist’s tactics did not work. Telling me everything was about sex or pushing me too hard to talk about it did not make me any more comfortable with my sexuality. Of course not eating threw my hormones out of whack. But the focus should have been kept on getting well instead of pressuring me into what I didn’t need (compared to the ability to eat and intensity of my anxiety/depression), completely want or feel ready for.
More recently I’ve been thinking about the life that was supposed to happen for me if my family didn’t move or I didn’t get sick in Cali, such as becoming a high school sports star or pretty beach honey. Recently I saw this girl–she was probably 16–going surfing with her boyfriend. She kissed him. I’m not sure he felt comfortable. But the scene made me sad for failing to achieve my fantasy of being more like her at that age. She looked totally serene with her long hair racing into the waves.
She is like an enchanted princess with special access to an unending reservoir of resources but he doesn’t actually feed her—she feeds herself through “him.” He is like a stale figure (albeit hot in a painful and shy kind of way) being brought to life via her strong feelings.
“From seeing this type of stuff, I learned I didn’t need to fulfill my appetites for food to make me happy; all I needed was a boy,” I wrote on page 76 of Sick. The assumption is that women are miraculous mermaids (especially in southern California) that don’t need real sustenance. Women make things happen through environmental powers and “innocent” manipulation men can’t understand. It’s about her ability to make him need her since she is “by nature” too much for him to handle; to be wanted she has to heal him sensually and sexually since he is weak, incapable in love. The man cannot be conscious of the woman’s gifts and the woman’s gifts should not be revealed in truth or else she will lose her desirability and needed guy. Left alone with her own feelings the woman is a complete disaster and loses access to the mind-boggling resources.
I started writing at my grandmother’s. Grandma Kay set out a card table each for my sister and me in the living room. If I wrote something really good, Grandma made a copy of it. She had an old computer that my sister and I eventually figured out.
The first thing that scared me away from writing was learning about commas in second grade. I failed the assignment. Then, classes started being divided up by honors or advanced. I couldn’t enjoy writing because too much emphasis was put on formatting and analyzing other people’s work. A tremendous fear of writer’s “block” was instilled in me through adults.
The biggest fear came in ninth grade when I learned about an even more specific style to follow. Teachers warned not to use certain words; students might even have to rewrite an entire paper based on the choice of one “wrong” word! My parents went to back to school night and were far from impressed. I also freaked out about citations; everything became about citations, engaging with other people’s work and creating impeccable theses instead of sharing purely what is on my mind.
My fears continued all throughout high school and, evidently, into college. I learned to love writing again by not focusing so much on the rules. I still second guess often; maybe I don’t “love” writing in this regard but, still, I highly benefit from a relationship that makes thoughts become more true.
I fall under this category in a way. Almost everyone with an eating disorder works in fitness, food or some related category. (Based on personal observation, of course.) There are two “extreme” types: The folks who are bluntly open like myself, and the folks who talk about some secret, mysterious bug from the past because they feel too threatened by a label. Then again, there are people who are probably still sick and deny it all together.
I am about my experiences with an eating disorder but I don’t specialize or work with people who have eating disorders. There are two separate paths here. My own story as a writer and speaker, and working in health with the general American population where I am trained to.
The ladies who talk about some strange disease thing–I’m not a fan. She doesn’t want to lose certain types of clients who are scared off by the term eating disorder. This means there is still too much shame, so she compromises truth and makes a kind of sensation story out of something that is in fact quite real and concrete. Because being labeled (once, now, forever, whatever) kills the fun and romanticism out of it all.
“Mel” gets over her problem and now thinks she has the answers to help someone else. I get that “Mel” wants to see others get over the problem like she did and that not all professionals are worth the investment. But Mel claiming that she can actually help someone sick as an independent?
If Mel wants to start a conversation about body image and eating disorders online in conjunction with telling her own story, I say go for it. Or maybe do some work related to this all through school. Otherwise if someone comes to you, like “Mel,” the best thing to say is, “Sorry, I can’t help.” I’ve had to say it.
I wrote a book because I love to write. But my book states explicitly in the beginning that I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. I am a storyteller. I share what’s on my mind and what helps me, but I’m not claiming to be solving anyone else’s riddles. Because I don’t have the answers. Even the trained professionals who claimed to have previously suffered from an eating disorder couldn’t help me. If anything, when I was really sick, this is the type of person I would feel competitive with because many (but not all) people who “get over” anorexia maintain a healthy weight on the low side. She has stuff bottled up for years to come that requires continuous effort to spill and rediscover herself beyond “eating disorder.” Now working directly in the field of eating disorders seems natural since that’s where so much of her time has been spent…it’s important to recognize there is also more to life and other ways to find direction. Maybe when you’re older–twenty years later–come back?
Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes my parents and I made in getting my own eating disorder treatment was falling for people who told us: “Well, you know, I had an eating disorder too, like Laura.” I write in my book about seeing a qualified professional (in nutrition) who told me this. But that did not make her any better at helping me. That did not mean she was any more personal or had a different professional formula. I still got weighed at the beginning of each session and she still told me what to eat–like everybody else. There was no special connection because she’d had an eating disorder and, now, I did too. There was just more that I couldn’t say because everything about her felt too perfect–I needed the right to my own healing without being skewed or overtaken by someone else’s biased approach based on their own process.
When someone is sick, it is wonderful when that person is ready to be open about his or her problem. For those who are already better, it takes one set of skills to get over your own problem and another set of skills to help others. I agree that some people are naturals at being counselors, etc. So if you really want to do that stop talking and go back to school.
Initially you hold onto those first moments where everything seemed almost right in a tantalizing way that wasn’t real; of course this happened before you were ready because that’s what made it magical. But, then, if you had a bad day and showed a potential sign of disinterest or somehow became an interference–after he realized he “might” like you–a guard went up. His coolness became bigger than my ability to be in control. Thus feelings got hurt.
In short, he is caught in living through the experiences of loss/defeat, and blindly recreating–or perhaps purposely attempting to resurrect–these experiences through (putting down) YOU. Even though “you” have nothing to do with that; his hot-shot show is reality.
People who act cool usually have an agenda. Being cool is learned; there is an end goal to be achieved. In this case the end goal is to make you beg because he gets a high off of that. The point is he can never have enough power over you. The satisfaction that comes from naturally drawing another cannot hold; there is never enough attempts to impress combined with feigned disinterest. Otherwise, ironically, you might stop “wanting.” He needs to own you, to throw you around, to stomp all over you as if doing so will somehow save him. Because by now please realize there isn’t room for you; his so-called coolness takes up all the space!
Was not to do with food coming in but going to the bathroom. This is something that TOTALLY bugs me about the movies out there. Even the more real films on eating disorders. Like, is that too gross to be honest about?
It’s much easier to cheer a girl on for eating a sugary something made of artificial junk and much more dramatic/”funny” to see her obsessing in her head after (or maybe making herself throw it up) than to see her gripping her guts in pain from some kind of allergic reaction or constipation. Her “success” could not be celebrated or ruined; the movie wouldn’t be about a mental “eating disorder” but something physical.
Healing from an eating disorder is not about proving to yourself that you can eat anything (or, at least, should not be in my opinion). It was so horrible. People thought I was not eating certain foods to “feed” the voices in my head but in fact those things made me sick. Maybe if such sensitivities had been addressed and taken seriously in the first place I would not have become anorexic or stayed that way for so long.
This is still a sore spot with me. I don’t drink, for instance, and that has nothing to do with my eating disorder but I can see how some people would twist it, like, that’s a way she’s “holding on” to her anorexia, which means they don’t understand the disease.
My point about all of this is that by the time I was twenty and got into eating local animal foods that nourished me, I wanted to eat. But I was scared to eat because of going to the bathroom. I was scared of my guts, as I write about in Sick. I was also afraid of my sexuality.
How does one deal with self-absorbed people? Sometimes they are found in the most surprising of places, in environments that are supposed to be educational, therapeutic and safe. Challenging, yes, but not dangerous.
A good teacher doesn’t make the class about showing off or criticizing students. A good teacher remembers what it is like to be a student and is open to becoming better. The teacher is getting paid; it is wrong to take advantage.
Working in the field of fitness, it is easy to imagine the self-absorbed people; those people obsessed with their own bodies and working out; the woman who blasts about “my gross arms” to the world without even noticing she’s the leanest person in the room. But there are a surprising amount of self-absorbed people beyond regular fitness in practices like yoga that teach, ironically, about the pitfalls of ego. For instance, the yoga teacher who posts images of herself online doing the craziest of poses (supposedly for “her” students) that, in my opinion, are unnecessary and not really what yoga is about. A lot of people who join the fitness, yoga and movement worlds have professional backgrounds in performance and competition. It is important not to lose yourself and fall prey to their “impressive” moves, insecurity, and need to hog attention. As a person with over six years of experiences working in the field of wellness and a degree in health promotion, I realize the negative impact being involved in this world has had on my self-esteem, relationship with my body and “eating disorder.” People use terms like “anorexic” lightly and talk about the physical in disrespectful, jealous ways.
I love to learn, to teach and to move. Nothing can change that. When it comes to self-absorbed people, I’m not afraid to stand out and be the only person to keep on a somber face when everybody else is laughing at someone else’s sick joke. I don’t hold things in anymore or try to put on a smile when I don’t feel that way. Even if I don’t express my opinion, I don’t have to participate in shallow games. I stay focused on what I want and why I’m here. Self-absorbed people are everywhere. Suck it up and deal!
Hey, blog readers! After Thanksgiving I met with professional coach Curt Canada. Curt’s business is called Adapting2Change; located in Washington, DC. I shared my book with him and Curt told me about what he does. He kindly shared some insightful information with me for this interview, which I wanted to post. Enjoy!
(By the way, if you have some something cool and unique to talk about, contact me about being considered for an interview. Thanks!)
Laura: Why did you become a coach?
Curt: It seemed to be right time. I’ve always loved helping others but am not one for labeling or giving my self a title. When a person thinks of a coach, thoughts quickly shift to sports, performance, new energy, and hard work in the moment but with a process towards accomplishment of a goal beginning with a plan. I actually noticed in a piece of professional literature around 2003 this new area of helping others change behaviors in a shorter period of time in both their personal and professional lives. This change brought about tangible results and was cost effective for both the client and coach. I jumped on board with a teaching and training group soliciting professional psychologists, therapists, social workers and counselors with professional training and client-based practices already in their portfolio. It made sense for me to integrate this methodology for helping others who desired to make significant change within their lives using a collaborative process. As a trained social worker both at the bachelors and masters level becoming a coach brought about new insights not only for my clients but also for me.
Laura: What is your background?
Curt: My background consists of a focus on human behavior and our surrounding environments. I hold a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in social work with a strong emphasis in family and marital therapy. There is a love and attraction towards understanding how teams and groups of people live and work together. There is s a focus on individual successes and challenges; how each person seems to meander through life and its experiences and transitions. I am also a trained elementary school teacher at the masters level. I have earned postgraduate training in leadership development and life and career coaching. I come from a rural coal mining family of fifteen in West Virginia. I have experienced personal and professional life challenges, which has helped me tremendously though difficult moments.
Laura: What type of coach are you?
Curt: I see great potential in everyone. I would like to think of myself as a coach for someone who, if given the time, will hear and be here for you. I am somewhat like a doctor who wants and desires to get to the crux of what bothering you. I work as an external coach in the area of career and life focusing primarily on client challenges that crop up surprisingly in the moment involving another person, friend, colleague, team or organization. If you were to pin me down as to what type of coach am I, I would say that my work is in career and leadership development primarily. I, in turn, coach relationships specifically in the areas of communication, separation and divorce. I work with clients ready to make or bring about a change in a behavior that inhibits them from being, doing and achieving their desired new goal. My clients are ready for and simply embrace this new place or quest to enhance their lives or to gain purpose and clarity with a life challenge or transition. My clients seek personal development and increased team performance. The client may be transitioning through a relationship challenge, a sudden separation and divorce or an illness. Wellness is a strong component in my overall coaching process. Getting my client or seeing them healthy is significant. The big question for my clients has to do with what can and will you do during the coaching engagement in and beyond a coaching session to obtain your desired outcomes. Client assessments are used in the beginning of the coaching process as a means of getting to know my client and to facilitate the coaching process.
Laura: Relationship info is out there almost everywhere everyday. How do you know? Whom do you trust?
Curt: I really can’t answer this question for you and will say that there are a great amount of self-help articles that are beneficial for you. If what you are being challenged with in your relationship is ongoing, and it is tough to work through or to move on, then do seek a professional opinion with a trained person in the behavioral sciences. I suggest seeking someone who is professionally sound and can identify with where you are. Books and literature on the subject may help. It wouldn’t hurt to find a professional coach who can listen with and for you. All work begins with you and with you in mind.
Laura: Why would a person hire a relationship coach instead of talking to a friend, working with a matchmaker or different professional?
Curt: I would be willing to answer this question during a coaching consultation because the nature of the question is so broad. A conversation gives me the chance to question my client as to where they are and where they seek to be or the behavior they wish to change. Potential clients are at different places when seeking any type of coaching. A true professional trained coach will be able to assess where the client is and their readiness to enter into a coaching engagement. Friends and matchmakers are helpful with what they do. Whether they are able to help you is something to be left with you. I want you happy and healthy first as you begin to tackle what’s hindering you from being your best person or partner in a relationship.
Laura: What happens when one person desires to see a relationship coach but the other person doesn’t?
Curt: You can’t make someone do something they don’t want. However sometimes when we choose to help ourselves, new insight is gained. It could be that something surprisingly unknown to you will surface over the time of seeing a professional coach to better your life. You will find things perhaps about you that you will throw away. You may find new tools to share with the other person. You may simply find that you and the other person are at different places. Your getting help despite his/her reluctance may bring you much closer. You will find perhaps the key to your happiness and most importantly find you again.
Laura: How much would you say a relationship is about taking care of yourself versus focusing on the other person?
Curt: We can never know too much about ourselves. We must first listen to our inner self and our body. The power lies in our confidence and innate power to communicate this to and with that other person authentically and simplistically. There is much to be gained here if we can allow ourselves to take that next step. Most of what happens to us and in our relationships begins with how we communicate our needs, desires, wants, aspirations and things the other other person doesn’t know about. It lies in our loving who we are no matter the circumstances.
Laura: How do relationships connect to health and wellbeing?
Curt: If we are about what we think and how we think about ourselves, others, and our ever-so changing surrounding environments, then health is at the forefront of growth and development. Warding off potential illnesses that are related to unfulfilled desires and goals begins with our relationship(s). Nurturing, praising and cheering each other; loving each other physically and emotionally are so paramount. We thrive for acceptance and conversation with that special one. This energy carries into or social and professional lives also. We are going to have moments of doubt, pain, sadness, anxiety, and perhaps depression and feeling unworthiness. That other person or persons as in friends, family and colleagues make a huge difference in getting through the tough moments that can alter our wellbeing and health.
Laura: If you could offer a single piece of advice what would it be?
Curt: Find and seek whatever it is that when you feel empty will fill your vase again. Don’t ever look back. It’s in front of you.
Laura: You have a blog: http://www.adapting2change.me. Is there a particular topic you enjoy talking about?
Curt: I like inspiring others at there most difficult times and when there seems like there is no solution in sight. In addition listening with and for that other person!
Curt: Meeting someone new each day. I do play tennis and love gardening and reading a good book. Building things and conversations and connecting people!
Thank you, Curt!
This was supposed to be my game; an undying guarantee. Basketball made life worthwhile. I hoped to build my entire life around one sport. Even though the family life and situation wasn’t good, place was this rim and basketball my net. The game let me access and engage something I couldn’t find in other ways. It is hard for me to see myself as a “worthy” person without basketball even over a decade later. It was everything to me but the reason I became so attached was because I needed to be; because I was already unsupported. Losing the game forced me to look inside. Basketball was my identity, my home, my heart—the people and culture defined my location in the world. I was just some kind of clear thing brought to this planet to play that game.
Then guess what happened. The whole spiel worked against me; tore me apart from the inside out and vice versa. I thought I was doing the right thing to prepare for the future and stay safe because Dad put all this pressure on me about sleep-away camp and Grandma Kay about college, etc. As long as I had basketball to take with me everything was supposed to work out. Even though there was more to me than that sport, I couldn’t have anything besides it—I couldn’t have my own feelings, I couldn’t take risks. Basketball and what it came to symbolize protected my forbidden inner world. Whether or not the sport actually was that great, it’s what I brought to the table. “You were just so good,” people tell me even today, which makes me feel worse; that isn’t the point. Everyone became convinced basketball is what’s real and not “me” underneath. I lost my ability to trust or see myself and became dependent instead.
By summer 2010, I knew I wanted to write a book on my experiences with an eating disorder. People often ask what got me started in the process, or how I became a writer. I started writing because I stopped “therapy” and craved a safe outlet. I was already in school and working as a personal trainer. At the gym, I started writing notes in my phone. Short notes on breaks, which evolved into note taking on the train, in a parked car, while waiting in line at the store, etc. I additionally started blogging. I shared the blog with some people. But blogging was difficult. What I wrote was of a very personal and exploratory nature. So, I stopped blogging and started writing for myself. That was where the challenge began!
I dropped my job at the gym then undertook a new position for school credit. I did not take summer classes and lived at home, which gave me an opportunity to write. In the fall, I continued with my “new” position (not for school credit) and an additional independent study along with taking classes at school and online. I actually took quite a few classes of the master’s level such as food policy and behavior change, alternative medicine, anatomy/physiology, behavioral medicine and advanced online courses in nutrition. There were also various classes in health communication and programming plus women’s health.
Overall, it was the motivation to write my own story that kept me focused and interested in school. Through my college education I studied eating disorders from a variety of perspectives ranging from beauty ideals to eastern philosophies and ultimately realized sharing my own growth and experiences connects with me more than continuing to study or becoming a scientist or social worker, for instance. Thus, by senior year I mostly had electives to fulfill, general education and lower level courses. At this time I stopped all other outside work to focus on my book and enjoy new movement forms rather than train others.
The last semester of college, I took six courses, including electives in cross training, walking/jogging (which was really running), fitness or aerobics plus a night class in stress reduction. My general education courses were in anthropology and literature. Thankfully I got “honors” statistics out of the way my first semester at school. Still, I thought I might drop the honors program then ended up receiving credit for it through the grad-level classes I took. I had no idea I was going to graduate “summa cum laude” and did not quite know what that meant until my dad made a deal of it. This type of distinction is cool; it makes me feel more competitive than confident.
Outside of school, being in the gym and working with women a lot I realized how much of an issue body image is. Before turning twenty-one, I did not wish to talk about my experiences with an eating disorder. I felt people would judge me or not want to work with me anymore. Some clients even joked around about eating disorders, but I never said anything. This is part of the reason why coming out with my book was difficult, albeit glad I did! I’ve changed so much over the last few years and imagine that without writing there would still be so many secrets and so much pain and more holding in. I harbor respect for my self as a storyteller. I think there’s a lot of pressure, though, like more “higher” education somehow makes you a better person but I am creative, disciplined and hard-working enough on my own.
During the time period of writing my book and being in school I spent time in nature often. I also walked quite a bit outside or foam rolled in the fitness center between classes to clear my head. Today, I likewise focus on keeping my body happy and functioning well. When I get too caught up in my head or spend too much time on the computer is when I start to “get OCD” as some people say. Keeping a nice environment for myself at home tells me I care. I also eat when I am hungry and keep food as simple as possible.
Generally, I did not find a spark with guys at school. Numerous girls in my classes were athletes or involved in campus activities I wasn’t. In many of my classes I was open about my book and eating disorder. Being opinionated related to health issues that are important to me personally kind of made me stick out at times, but not in bad ways. Thankfully, I also met people through blogging and my career field. Education hasn’t necessarily purified my intelligence; that is however my intention.
Sometimes it can be hard to realize school is over; I don’t need to think in terms of academia. The need to measure up to standards is a huge theme in Sick, along with feelings of inferiority. I don’t want to look back or be caught up in this world anymore. I did good things in school, like creating a support group for a project and being open about my history with anorexia nervosa. When I chose to major in health promotion my dad didn’t get it and now, ironically, he’s coming out with his own book inspired at least in part by the fact that I wrote my story.
- To escape pressures associated with my current peer group.
- To become someone more or other than a basketball player without needing to explain myself.
- Before moving there was a boy who asked me out but then we never “went out” (literally), which was odd and disappointing.
- There were other situations with boys that liked me, which resulted in making me feel guilty and used.
- Eventually I was able to take more risks with guys I liked that would not have been possible if I stayed too cool for my own feelings. None of these guys were ultimately right, but by making my feelings known I realized they were about much more than “some dude.”
- A lot of people fail to outgrow the world they grew up in or merely find ways to recreate it. I have embraced new journeys and spirituality.
- I experienced tremendous confusion, loss and suffering at a very young age. Today I am more strong, brave and experienced!
- I got spoiled with my favorite dog in the whole world.
- Now, I am able to enjoy traveling without being tied down by place, social life, etc.
- I wrote an entire book by 23. If life had been boring (i.e. not moving and thereafter developing a life threatening eating disorder) who knows if I ever would have become an author or realized my artistic potential!
In May I featured a post on Eldon Taylor’s book, I Believe. More recently, I was selected to participate in the blog tour for another book by Eldon Taylor titled Choices and Illusions. This is the fifth edition of the book, which is now available! I received a PDF copy in advance to share my thoughts in a blog.
So, the answer is… I really liked Choices and Illusions! Like I Believe, Choices and Illusions was an eye-opening read. Choices and Illusions is a book that makes you want to keep going in the sense that chapters flow well, but readers never quite now what is coming next. In particular, Eldon Taylor has a unique writing style. He weaves together research, references to science and spirituality, passages, interviews and stories in order to get his points across. One of these important points, reiterated towards the end of Choices and Illusions, is simply to make as much as you can of life. Of course, believing in luck and that good things happen counts, too!
The subtitle of Choices and Illusions is How Did I Get Where I Am, and How Do I Get to Where I Want to Be? I kept this in mind while reading the book, and Taylor encourages readers to think about their reactions to the information he presents along the way. Especially for those open to changing their outlook on life, Choices and Illusions provides unique perspectives. Taylor embraces practices such as hypnosis and meditation, but even those unfamiliar with such methods can appreciate the book for its additional scientific and mathematical components, especially chapter nine, which offers “A Simple Model of Mind and Behavior.”
There is something for everybody in Choices and Illusions. In chapter four, “Creating Self,” the author includes a breakdown of “The Four Selves” based on categories originally developed by a psychology professor at Yale. Taylor then goes on to describe each of these four selves in his own clever way. He refers to a story shared earlier in the text about an eagle. This eagle finds herself in a chicken yard and learns the way or the chickens but when she gets the chance to be with an eagle is unable to recognize herself as being one. This story demonstrates how easy it is to think that we are something or someone different from our “actual self.” It also shows the essential role belief plays in perception.
Next, Taylor provides images of “visual illusions” in chapter five. Readers receive the opportunity to explore how their minds work—ultimately so that new ways of thinking can be embraced! Taylor’s book brings awareness to readers and how the messages we absorb (often sub-consciously) shape us on a daily basis. In this way, Choices and Illusions is an educational read that teaches the importance of working to become more aware and taking responsibility if you wish to change and realize the power of choice. Reading Eldon Taylor’s book provides an excellent opportunity to break through stereotypes and assumptions in order to embrace new opportunities for empowerment.
More information about Choices and Illusions can be found at www.eldontaylor.com. The book is also available at Amazon.com and through Barnes and Noble.
In addition to Rocket Ship Guy and Patrick, I thought about Marcus and Ross. First came Marcus. Though never close with Marcus, he is a friend of Dan’s, my older brother. Dan told me I should watch Marcus present at an important conference related to work.
The night before Marcus’s presentation, I had a very rich dream that Marcus was “the one,” only to see a wedding ring already on his finger! Though I did not find myself attracted to Marcus, I also did not open my mouth, which made me feel like a failure. Nothing felt real, and all I could think of was leaving the uncomfortably up-tight and serious environment of the event.
Unlike the situation with Marcus I did talk to Ross. However, the story turned out similarly. The first thing I thought when I met Ross was “I’m disappointed.” I realized either during or immediately after shaking hands with Ross how deeply he was looking at me. In an almost-haunted kind of way Ross forced himself into my heart, which made me nauseous. It was difficult for me to maintain Ross’s gaze—until I absorbed his penetration and then my eyes fluttered. In the next moment I decided Ross “just isn’t me!” Also, Ross did not take good care of himself. His hair was messy. His stubble was too stubbly. He was lifeless, dry and insensitive. In the end, I decided Ross was a flake. It was easy to move forward from there.
The characters in this story are fiction.
Glen was the first boy I talked about having feelings for to Mom and close friends. I saw Glen as my rocket ship into a new and better world after moving and idolized him. Alas, instead of flying off into space with rocket ship guy, I found myself with nothing worth living for when his family relocated. Though I did find new people after rocket ship guy, I settled for quite a bit less than him until meeting Patrick in tenth grade.
In class, Patrick sat next to me. Although we talked sometimes, I could not get the words out of my mouth to tell Patrick I liked him. Instead, I stroked my fingers up my arm and hoped to gain his attention sensually. Patrick was tall, skinny but not frail and blonde. He wore a hat, had long legs and a good energy about him. I especially appreciated Patrick’s fun and easy presence. Being around Patrick, his smile, his laugh and lightheartedness felt so good! Patrick made me want to be attractive.
Ultimately, I felt too threatened by other girls Patrick regularly hung out with to go forward with anything. These girls exhibited a kind of ownership over Patrick and had known him for much longer too. Anyways, although I enjoyed his influence, I am not sure if my values could mesh with Patrick’s personality in the long run. Alas, I lost sight of both my doubts and my desires when Patrick changed schools in eleventh grade, which was sad to me. Senior year, I found someone similar to Patrick but darker. I picked up almost immediately that my new guy was not the same inside as Patrick, even if he was more popular. Becoming acquainted was plenty.
When I decided to read The Demon Rolmar, I did not know what to expect! I do not usually read science fiction, but am pleased to say that I was presently surprised by the work of A.V. Griffin. Though her work is different than mine, I relate well to the author, who began writing her story as a student in college and holds a bachelor’s in psychology.
I think A.V. Griffin’s imagination is inspiring. From the get-go, A.V. Griffin draws readers in with the imagery she uses to describe people and places. The course of events throughout the book flows well. I especially enjoyed the author’s writing style and use of dialogue.
A.V. Griffin’s ability to come up with the idea of a new planet (called “Pentar”) is fascinating to me, and I think this book serves as a good escape read for those who tend to get very grounded in the stress of routine. Still, The Demon Rolmar is not so far-fetched that the story is unrelatable to everyday life. The book, which comes to about 150 pages, teaches important lessons about demons, friendship, change, and the state of planet Earth. Furthermore, the back of the The Demon Rolmar includes a glossary, which helps clear up any confusion about the definitions of new terms the author introduces. Though some names seemed strange at first, readers do not feel inundated because the author includes characters with “normal” names too.
I wonder where A.V. Griffin will go from here! It would be interesting if she decided to write a series of stories or create a sequel to her first book. Will The Demon Rolmar be the next Harry Potter? You never know!
To connect with A.V. Griffin and other fans of The Demon Rolmar, go to her Facebook page:
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A copyrighted excerpt from the handbook section of my book, Sick: In The Name Of Being Well, I Made Myself Sick.
Especially when you are under stress, something as simple as becoming aware of breath makes a big difference. Below, I have included some additional tools for helping yourself during stressful times:
- Contact a friend (if you have particular friends, list those).
- Create a list of your favorite things. Practice your favorite things regularly.
- Feel fluid. Go in the water. Swim with a pair of fins on your feet and paddles on your hands. Practice kicking with a kickboard.
- Get out and let go. Consider taking a class or workshop, treating yourself to something at the mall, or taking an adventure and exploring a new place. Follow your curiosities. Go on adventures. Trust yourself.
- Immerse yourself in a creative project. My personal favorite!
- Laugh. Try to take life a little bit lighter.
- Learn to play an instrument. Learn to sing. Listen to music.
- Practice being present. Consider going for a walk in nature or attending a yoga or meditation class.
- Schedule a special outing to look forward to.
- Speak with the family member you feel closest to.
- Spend time with animals. Say, “I love you” to a furry friend.
- Visit the bookstore. You may find just the inspiration you need there!
- Why are you having a bad day? Is this something that is in your power to change? Do you feel to boxed in by your routines and expectations?
From pages 233-234 of Sick: In The Name Of Being Well, I Made Myself Sick.
by Katie Gordon; founder at Wild Grace: intuitive coaching + bodywork
1. Morning Pages. Otherwise known as a brain dump. First thing in the morning, free write three pages. Don’t stop to think about spelling, punctuation, whether you think it sounds stupid or silly. Just write.
2. Move. Dance, do yoga, swim, stretch, surf, walk, hula hoop. Get your body + qi (energy) moving!
3. Visualize your DREAM life. Where do you want to wake up every morning? What kind of work do you want to do? Who do you want to be with? What kind of food do you want to eat? You can begin creating this life right now.
4. Create sacred space when you eat. Did you know that as you eat, the energy around you goes into your body too? Take time from your day to nourish yourself during your meal times. Light a candle, bless your food, give gratitude for the energy that went into making your food, and allow yourself to taste each bite. Notice the smells, flavors, textures, and the way your food makes you feel physically and emotionally.
5. Be outside. Go hiking, swimming, walking, running, pick wild flowers, or just lie outside in the grass. Notice the way being in nature can ground and energize you equally.
A guest post by Anuoluwapo Kalejaye, memorypages.wordpress.com. Edited by Laura Susanne Yochelson.
Understanding ourselves and why we do certain things can be confusing. We spend our time trying to understand other people, but in truth we barely know our own selves. We do not understand our being, so we struggle with loving ourselves.
There is no guide or rule on how to love or understand your self. I could simply just have made this article about steps on how to come to love and understand one’s self but I did not. This is because loving and understanding one’s self is personal journey that is experienced differently by individuals.
A healthier life begins with understanding and loving yourself. When you love and understand yourself you make healthier and wiser decisions. I cannot tell you how to understand yourself, but I can share some of the things that have helped me.
1. Construct your own positive social reality
Create our own reality. Let this reality love who you are and speak to your interests. Do not let your reality be constructed by what social media, other people, or magazines tell you to do.
2. Create a positive medium to express negative feelings
Anytime you feel down, do something positive that helps you express yourself, grow and reflect. Examples of outlets include walking, reading or taking a stroll. Explore with different mediums; find what works for you. Do not be afraid to try different activities out.
3. Remember everyone has his or her own “sickness”
Everyone has that bit of sickness they are battling with; self inflicted or not. Regardless of how “sick” things may seem, you are not the only one.
4. On beauty
I read a bit about anorexia nervosa before I wrote this article, and I found out that mostly women suffer from this illness, which is understandable. As women we are made to believe that we are supposed to meet a certain standard, level of appeal, and beauty. Beauty has been tainted by society, which defines beauty by looks, weight, clothes, skin color, and hair when really beauty is none of these things. I know we hear all of the time that “beauty is from within,” but the truth is the only people life really remembers, the only thing that leaves a lasting image in people’s minds, is the beauty you reflect from within through deeds and actions.
Your healthier life begins from inside of you. Love yourself always.
In this post, author Vivian Lee answered my questions in an interview for http://www.LauraSusanneYochelson.com. Enjoy!
Why did you decide to become a writer?
I think I decided to become a writer because if not writing, I will spend all of my time reading and since those two go together most of the time, I thought why not give it a try? At first, I wasn’t sure if I had the creativity to become a writer but once I started writing story after story, it became more real to me than what I could have imagined. The writing part was easy but now that I am reaching the point where I want to be published and known as an author, I can feel my head telling me I’ve made the right decision.
Is there a particular writer that inspires you? What makes this person inspiring to you?
I like so many writers out there so it’s hard for me to just pick one. For the longest time, I used to be just a fiction reader but now, I am wanting to read about romance whether it is contemporary, historical, or even some of the classics like Jane Austen. Even though it is hard for me to just select one writer, I think what inspires me about them is the way they have with words to transport you in the character’s personality and point of view that you feel as if you are there with them. You’re not just reading words printed on a page but you are taken to another time and place where you can live the plot out for yourself. I think that’s one of the hardest things about coming to the end of a book when you want to re-experience and relive it all over again from the start. I only hope I can do the same for mine.
Give us the scoop on your upcoming book.
Oh, that is going to be a toughie because I hate giving too much away about the book especially when it’s in the process of being published and released. What I can say is that there are two versions of one main character who is a female but because of the tough life she’s had, there is a reason as to why there are two versions of her: a younger side and the older one. I realize this sounds so complicating and you’ll be like “Huh?!?” but trust me, after you read it and start to understand just where I am going with this story, it will make sense later. At least that’s what I am hoping. So because there are two versions of this female character, the story goes back and forth between two times but believe me, I never meant to lose the reader just because of how I had gotten it down out of my head and on to the paper. Most people I have shared this story with have told me it is very interesting and well written which I am grateful for because before, I wouldn’t dare to share with anyone.
I hope this keeps you hanging on your seat so that you will want to know more and that this will motivate readers everywhere to go get it and sit down with it.
I just hope I didn’t give too much away… (But if you’re that DYING to find out more, head to my facebook page and look at some of the teasers I have put up)
Do you have other hobbies besides writing?
My other hobby is reading which you already knew because in order for me to start having more ideas of story plots and characters, I have to read something I haven’t and I might like it or not based on how far it goes with the plot and the characters but they all help me to do better and think of more ideas. I will also watch movies because that is another initiative to bring up an idea.
How can people stay in touch with you via social media?
I have a couple of places where I can be in touch:
I will be working on to get a website set up if not soon then eventually but I will need lots of help with that. I will also work on a profile at Goodreads.com and just search for Vivian Lee. Note that if you go to Goodreads, there will be several authors with the name Vivian Lee so make sure they have “Shadow’s Enlightenment” as my first book. But for now, I am satisfied with what I do have for the time being so please be patient with me.
I hope this interview has sparked a fire inside the many of you about the kind of author I am that you will enjoy my books and keep wanting to read so much more that I have written. I will try my hardest in doing my best in writing stories that will make you crave more to the point you just cannot put it down. I appreciate all of your support and thank all that you have helped me with to be known as a good author!
A couple of months ago I received an invitation to take part in the blog tour for award-winning, New York Times best-selling author Eldon Taylor’s latest book I Believe: When What You Believe Matters! In return for my participation, I will be represented in a campaign for I Believe. In this blog post, I share my experiences with and reactions to the book. Here it goes!
The first thing that caught my eye about I Believe was the cover, which features a meditative image made of words, colors, flowers, shapes, and pictures of nature and the universe. Inside of the meditative image, there are various inspiring phrases, such as “I believe we are all connected.” To complete the image, everything comes together in a circle with Earth, cosmos, and the words “I believe in you” at center.
Inside of the book, there is praise from many well-known authors, scientists, and successful people. There is also a list of other books Eldon Taylor previously authored and audio programs he has created, plus a meaningful dedication. Thus, the author’s credibility is established immediately. Skeptics of the mind-body-spirit genre that I Believe is classified under should know that Eldon Taylor is not a newbie who picks ideas up out of thin air. Rather, the author has dedicated his life to understanding, exploring, experiencing, and sharing the concepts presented in his work.
After the praise and dedication comes the table of contents. The book includes a foreword by Ravinder Taylor, the author’s wife, and an introduction by Eldon Taylor himself. I Believe comes to just over 200 pages total, and consists of 26 chapters. The chapters are not grouped together as parts. Instead, each chapter is divided into several different sections. The concluding section of every chapter offers a short reflection, which recaps the main message. Eldon Taylor engages readers in the reflection by asking questions, challenging readers to think about how the information in the chapter can be applied to one’s personal life. With Eldon Taylor’s assistance, readers begin to see more clearly how they relate to the world, and that it is possible to make shifts in one’s own experience of living through examining and changing beliefs.
What stands about I Believe compared to other books on spirituality is that the tone is consistent, light and fun. Regardless of the author’s impressive credentials and background, it is clear that he is not consumed in proving himself, attempting to be better than anyone else, or trying to tell his readers how to live their lives. Instead, the author offers tools and advice without setting expectations, which is empowering. Furthermore, Eldon Taylor uses real-life examples and stories that people of all different ages and backgrounds can relate to, such as the time he applied for his first job at a shoe store. Still, readers are not run astray and I Believe is not “all about Eldon Taylor” and “Eldon Taylor’s story.” Actually, I Believe includes references to the work of numerous other authors and scientists, and each chapter begins with an inspiring quotation from somebody other than Eldon Taylor.
My favorite chapter from I Believe is chapter 14, “Instincts and Intuition.” In this chapter, Eldon Taylor discusses the value of life and living beings. He writes about the importance of developing awareness of one’s thoughts, tuning into dreams, paying attention to impulses, and trusting intuition. The message the author shares on the healing power of belief is one that is bound to resonate with many individuals looking to find fulfillment from within themselves.
To learn more about Eldon Taylor and purchase his book I Believe, visit www.EldonTaylor.com. I received my copy of the book to review online, and am eager to receive my free signed copy in the mail and share it with friends and family. Offers such as these are one of the best perks to being an author myself!
Living in a small apartment by myself gave me enough time to dwell. That’s what happens when you’re alone – you remember, reflect, brood – you dwell. Well, at least I did. Believe me, there was a lot to dwell about. Mostly, it was about stuff that happened to me in the last 20 years. Never mind that I was barely 30 years old at the time. Never mind that the eating disorder I suffered from during that time reinforced my need to hide from the world. It was, after all, the only coping mechanism I had. The only way I knew how to deal with the anxieties of my health, jobs, relationships, life.
Alone in your own head is a dangerous place to hang out for a long period of time. It gives you the illusion that you are alone in the world, even though you see other people every day and may, on occasion spend time with “friends.” If you’ve ever felt misunderstood or unable to transfer your thoughts to a meaningful outlet, you know what it feels like to be alone in your head. For some, this is an every day, 24/7 experience and a progressively frightening one.
If you can’t release all the stuff that makes you, well, you, how are you to feel safe in this world? How can you feel like you belong? We have our own grace that we come into this world with, but if we’re not safe in the expression of them, life may seem to be slowly suffocating us. So, our craving for self-expression leaves us vulnerable, reaching for something, anything to help rip the straightjacket of emotions off.
Some run to cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, or anything that has the potential to love and punish simultaneously. My outlet was food.
When and how it started doesn’t matter as much as why. That was simple – because it was there. Fast, cheap, easy and always surrounded by lots of seemingly positive energy, I learned how to use it to stuff what I didn’t want and (many times) wasn’t allowed to express.
Thank goodness that’s all in the past. I’m better now, no thanks to the numerous diets, short stints at a (few different) therapist’s office, or countless psychotropic drugs. No, it wasn’t a magic potion either. What saved me was energy healing, that ancient technique of moving energy through and around the body to help it accomplish what it does best, heal itself. The premise is simple; our bodies communicate clearly all that it needs for optimal health and well-being. Of course, we must be willing to understand its language, and that’s exactly what you get with energy healing, including how to stay present (instead of dwelling about the past), what to eat (more like, how to listen to your body when it’s hungry and know the difference between real hunger and emotional hunger) and how to heal yourself and your loved ones from stressors that can potentially lead to unhealthy outlets.
It is no wonder that I chose Energy Healing and Holistic Fitness Coaching as a career to help others out of their straightjackets. It works. Many times, it just slips off as they learn to feel present and at ease in this world. Feeling is believing.
Thank you Lizette Ayala for sharing your story! Learn more about Lizette and her work in energy healing and holistic fitness coaching at bodyrules.com
In his new e-book, The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do the Same For You!, Rohan Healy shares with readers seven techniques to overcome personal suffering and live a more enriched life. The book is informative but not authoritative and clearly organized into seven different parts. The end of each part includes a summary of one of the seven techniques that serves as an easy-to-use reference guide. Also, various quotations from inspiring individuals are sprinkled throughout the text.
In The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do the Same For You!, Mr. Healy shares numerous studies and methods from a variety of reputable resources, interweaves his personal story and experiences throughout, and offers multiple exercises to help readers integrate the techniques he shares into daily life. Overall, The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do the Same For You! is an enriching, eye-opening read for anyone interested in topics such as psychology, spirituality, philosophy, the mind-body connection, and holistic healing. Though some may become intimidated by certain concepts (such as “stoic philosophy” or “the felt sense”), the author seamlessly blends easy-to-understand examples with more complicated theories and breaks things down in a way that is relatable to any reader dedicated to the processes of understanding and bettering oneself.
To purchase your copy of The 7 Things, visit either Amazon or Smashwords.
Available at Amazon.com for $8.61:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AVKZYGY
Available at Smashwords.com for $8.70:https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/266109.
Get 20% off from Smashwords.com when you use coupon code: ZE93N.
This coupon expires on the 25th of January!
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