Sunday, May 31, 2009

Interesting quotes

All these quotes are from Mary Pipher's new book Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World.

"As a therapist, I learned that people change only when they believe change is possible."

"People can change only in an environment of utter acceptance and regard." said by Carl Rogers on his "paradox of change"

"It takes something larger than ourselves to fight something that feels larger than we are..." in reference to Carl Jung's formula Spiritus contra spiritum which is widely used in AA.

"Despair is the subjective state we experience when our inner and outer resources are insufficient to cope with the situation at hand. At core, it involves a breakdown in our trust of ourselves and the universe."

"The luckiest children are those who can experience challenges, deal with them and become resilient."

"We haven't journeyed all this way because we are made of sugar candy." said by Winston Churchill.


As an aside note, Mary Pipher's book Reviving Ophelia was a book that impacted me greatly as a teen. I not only felt understood, but it truly made me realize how many hardships young girls face in their lives.

Since then, I've read several other of Pipher's books and have enjoyed them. Sometimes, I used to wish she was my therapist as corny and honest as that sounds.

In 2007, Pipher made waves again in returning her Presidential Citation Award to the American Psychological Association as a protest over their position on military and CIA interrogations at the time. The APA has now changed their policy and has banned members from the participation of any interrogations and similar procedures.

Friday, May 29, 2009

That little red light

A few days ago, I bought a blackberry. It was a belated birthday gift from my mother. I would have gotten it two months ago, but I was too busy doing my maximizing versus satisficing thinking. The choices were between an iphone or blackberry, but it boiled down to not wanting to switch phone carriers.

So far, I'm having a marvelous time learning about the phone. They sales guy at the Verizon store was very helpful in giving me the nuts and bolts on its functionality (and there are many). Did I also mention that every time I walk into the Verizon store, there are hot guys there? I'm beginning to wonder if they are actually making appearance a requirement (sad but probably partly true to some extent).

Anyway, the sales guy set up my e-m
ail accounts and said whenever I had a flashing red light, it indicated there was a new message.

I didn't think too much of this until I was at work and suddenly, the little red light flashed. Yes, indeed, I did have e-mails. This was cool I thought. A few minutes later, it flashed again. Again, I checked it. It did this periodically the rest of the afternoon, so by the time I got home, I already knew all of my new e-mails.

What I realized was 1) how addictive I am to e-mail and 2) I had developed a conditioned reinforcer! While it's true that phones flash lights indicating voice messages or missed calls, it doesn't feel the same as the one on the blackberry for me.

So what are conditioned reinforcers
? If you're familiar with psychology (think going back to all those Pavlovian studies), you'll understand how strong a conditioned reinforcer can be.

Here's a basic definition
from uiowa psychology: A conditioned reinforcer is a previously neutral stimulus . If the neutral stimulus is paired with a primary reinforcer it acquires the same reinforcement properties associated with the primary reinforcer.

Throughout life, we develop our own conditioned reinforcers. For many, money is a conditioned reinforcer. We learn the functions and rewards of money (to buy food, clothing, merchandise, etc.), but money in and of itself is just paper. Getting good grades, a bonus at a job, etc. could be other C.Rs if they are paired with receiving positive rewards that are reinforcing to you.

Another example in the post with the baby birds was when Tovah barked, and the birds opened their mouths, expecting food. In nature, the mothers will whistle when it is feeding time, so the birds learn to open their mouths. It is a conditioned response but was favorable in reinforcement of food.

In my line of work with dogs, I'm always looking for reinforcers--what's valuable to dogs. Since I use clicker training frequently, the primary reinforcers could be food, toys, praise, etc. all depending on the dog. The actual clicker (photo on left is an iclick) not only marks the correct behavior for the animal, but it also signifies that a reward is on its way. In some cases, the clicker also tells the animal that the behavior has ended. Thus, the clicker acts as a "bridge." In training marine animals, a whistle would be the equivalent of the clicker.

So, this flashing red light is like a "bridge" for me, telling me I have new e-mail messages which I find reinforcing.

This made me think about eating disorders and conditioned reinforcers. A lot of people don't like to think about how negative or destructive behaviors can be reinforcing, but they can be. The difference is that they are more on a subconscious level (well sometimes conscious too depending on the thought processes at the time) with more complexity.

One conditioned reinforcer I can think of off the top of my head is a scale. A scale is a neutral stimulus in general, but it can add a different meaning when someone steps on it. If someone is in the throes of an ED, and the number drops, then there is reinforcement from the number to continue to lower the weight through
ED behaviors. Thus, it can be a CR if that is the positive association. Now, obviously a scale can easily have a conditioned negative response as well if it says the opposite of what someone wants.

On that note, what are some other conditioned reinforcers related to your ED? What are your little red lights in your daily life non-ED related? Do you find them powerful?

Note--*Just want to say that this post is about behavior and not about biology. It's a known fact that biology, malnutrition , starvation all play a role in decision making and our behaviors. However, I hope you are able to look more closely at your specific behaviors and piece them together for awareness purposes.

*If you're interested in learning about different types of reinforcement, more info. can be found here.

*Lastly, how come blogger does not recognize the word "reinforcer" as a real word? It keeps highlighting it as misspelled.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

If you could never fail

This blog post asked an interesting question: what would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?

The post is geared towards more global thinking, asking what positive impacts you could have on the world, however, I think this question can be asked on a much smaller scale.

For many people, the word "failure" has many connotations. Everything from shame to unworthiness to self doubt to self-defeatism. It's amazing how powerful the word really is. Most times, failure is in relation to achievement, but it can be be viewed in other dimensions of our life such as spirituality or community.

People with eating disorders equate failing in a variety of ways. It can be everything from food to exercise to academics. It can also be seen in their eating disorder like statements such as "I'm a failure at being anorexic" or "I'm a failure at recovery." All this as we know as black and white thinking.

Aside from all this, I think there is a deeper meaning to the word failure--that it reminds us of our fallability, our imperfections, our unworthiness. It allows us to stop dreaming big. I know I may not be speaking for everyone here as there are quite a few eating disorder individuals who do go on to have great success in some area of their life, but I also think there is a proportion of us (maybe I'm only speaking for myself here?) who stop believing too. Not only in their dreams, but in themselves. They become so afraid to unharness their full potential, because the risk of failure feels too cumbersome. This only causes a continuance in rumination, "a spiral of morbid self-involvement that's extremely difficult to shake." (from "Weathering the storm" in Psychology Today)

So what would happen if we could never fail? Certainly, there are positives and negatives to this as we can learn from our mistakes. However, the possibilities could be endless too.

I guess this post reminds me of part of what I've lost through the ED--the ability to dream BIG. I don't know when I lost that ability--the fearless drive to be able to succeed at anything. I've always hated admitting it in the form of fear of failure (and success too), but rather telling myself and others that I learned to be realistic, that the world didn't always work out the way I wanted.

Perhaps, it isn't about never failing or feeling like a failure. Maybe it's more about learning to "fail better" as Samuel Beckett says in "
Weathering the storm" He says: "it's a matter of controlling our motions, adjusting our thinking, and recalibrating our beliefs about ourselves and what we can do in this world."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Random sightings

I have a few blog posts in mind but am a bit tired and have to work tomorrow. So instead, I'm offering a few sightings.

From today:

-A practically bare Wal-Mart at 6 PM on Sunday

-At Wal-Mart, overheard a grandmother say, "you're not f
at." The kid, a girl about age 8 or 9 said adamantly, "yes, I am." Then, she said something about her belly, but I didn't catch that.

-Found butterfly wings on the ground

-Saw four vultures sitting on a fence while two others promptly ate
a pungent, dead animal

-Found a toad in the house. Tovah promptly alerted me it was there.

On Mother's Day, I made snickerdoodles, this is how they turned out

Several weeks ago, I kept seeing this garter snake at work. I have a post about that later

Last week, I found this box turtle by the side of the road and moved it to a safer place

I also found another dead bird as well. At least this one was an adult

See, what everyone misses by not living in the country. :grin:


For the record, the vultures are still there today, eating away.

Another photo of the bird. This was how I actually found it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The new Whole Foods

I was listening to NPR the other day on my way to work and heard a clip about the new Whole Foods store opening in Chicago just a few days ago. For some reason, I cannot find the exact clip online, but I know I heard about it.


This store is massive at 75,000 square feet with about 75,000 items. This store is apparently the third largest behind the one in London and Austin, TX. It boasts a variety of new features such as:

Chicago food venues--like mini restaurants with no wait time
Exclusive product line--products only available to Whole Foods, that store, and local--
International cookie club--a variety of cookies made in the store
Graffitti artist--mural of the skyline of Chicago, plus lots of other colorful decorations
Music stage--entertainment while people dine, shop, and buy
400 parking spaces--it is free with purchase
Automated express check-out--purpose is to reduce waiting time in lines

The store also has more trail mix stations, seven-themed eateries, more children's products, outdoor seating along the river, even a place to dock your kayak!

The idea is to have a 'community" feel, the feel of Chicago, where people can shop, dine, lounge with their computer, listen to music, etc.

I'm curious to anyone who is in Chicago, have you gone to the store? What were your thoughts?

In some ways, I love this, but another part of me is thinking about just how much selection there is. I already have a hard enough time in a small Whole Foods or other natural market store on deciding which items to buy. Would this make it even more overwhelming for someone like me? Would I still be too busy pouring and comparing the calorie counts of items, taking away from the "experience" of the store?

What are people's thoughts? Is this a good thing? And with the economy the way it is, does it affect whether you go to Whole Foods? Personally, it has for me, though I miss shopping there as frequently. I could if I made more money though. Good incentive. ;-)

As an aside note, I've also noticed a trend in general with some of the grocery store chains revamping and expanding. Kroger's comes to mind with their new "Kroger Marketplace" expansion with not only foods, but a larger sushi bar, larger coffee/espresso bar, furniture, kitchen items, etc.

Note--Other articles and photos:
Whole Foods opening...
New Whole Foods store
Photos of store

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vet appointment--judgments, weight, and realizing I have an obsession problem

I took Tovah to the vet this morning to get spayed. She was excited to be there which I'd much rather have than anxious and fearful, like poor Mr. Baxter who has just never overcome his "vet anxiety." He's better than some dogs I've seen, but he pants and sheds quite a bit which is kind of hard for a Boxer to do.

The first thing done is always weighing your dog. I was actually quite curious about this since she hadn't been weighed since late February. The scale read 44.9 pounds which surprised me, because I could have sworn from lifting her many times, she was at least 50 pounds! I'm really skeptical about their scale anyway, but I'll get to that in a minute.

One of the newer vets took her back while the receptionist was going over the paperwork. It sort of drives me nuts, because they know I work with dogs, but yet, still treat me like I know nothing. :sigh: Tovah bolted back with the vet. He came out later and said this to me:

From the looks of her, you would have thought oh dear, we are in for a handful. Once back there, we asked her for a sit, she did it, and then was calm. Then, we gave her the sedation medicine.

My first thought was "well, duh.," but I refrained from saying that. Instead I said, "she has had extensive training, so it was not surprising to me she did what you asked." I don't know, I just thought that was a stupid judgment call on this vet's part. Number one, she doesn't look scary, number two, she is a boisterous puppy and was excited to be there.

I know it is pretty useless to take the comment personally, but still I dislike judgments. If you're going to make one, at least take things into consideration. I'd almost say make sure to have your facts correctly, but I often relate facts with observations versus judgments with ignorance.

So then, the scale issue. I have qualms about their scale, because for one of my dogs, it read eight pounds lighter than two years ago. And I just can't fathom that she lost eight pounds in that time. She's nowhere near underweight or anything, but it is important for me to have her (and all my dogs) correct weights to know how much to feed them. (Their diet is raw food based, so I give a certain percentage of meat, while the rest is vegetables, fruits, and organ meats)

When I told my dad about this weight issue with Daphne awhile back, he said, "well, why don't you just weigh yourself on their scale?" Umm, not likely. I have a hard enough time being in a Dr.'s office getting weighed so being at a vet's office would likely heighten my anxiety with the observation of more people.

So can anyone guess what kind of thoughts ran through my head? Yes, I was thinking of buying a scale. :sigh: Bad me Bad me. I know that probably isn't the best solution. I don't know why I'm even a bit obsessed on this honestly. The dogs are healthy and in good shape. I think it's the pure thought of wanting to be right, accurate, and proving to myself that my body distortion is not that off--that I can estimate a weight of a person/dog on looks alone. Yes, I know that last statement is probably a bit hypocritical.

Anyway, I'm still waiting for the call that everything went smoothly, and I can go pick her up.

Is this really equality?

I was reading this blog post about Seoul, the capital city of Korea, in Korea Beat and was not sure whether to feel a sense of happiness that women are getting more equality as their male counterparts or feel saddened that women do not yet have equal rights in the Korean culture. The city plans on various initiatives to help create a "Happy city for women."

Several of the initiatives include:

increasing the number of women's public toilets, so there will be a 1:1 ratio with the men.
the installation of women preferred parking spaces, along with security nearby
more cameras and safety lights along the sidewalks
increase in the number of jobs for women and daycares for children
increase of public parks

And the one that makes me very surprised is:

Accordingly, the city will retrofit an additional 51 kilometers of sidewalk to accommodate women wearing high heels.

I can imagine that is one that we all might like. Kidding aside, these are all great plans. However, what about just basic women's rights where women are not treated like second class citizens. It's a shame that this still goes on way too much in the world. It truly does make me thankful for what I have, and the opportunities I do have.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sometimes we all need a helping hand

This is a really cute video. It reminds me of recovery. We try to get over a wall. We jump once, then fall, but we get back up and try again.

Then, when we realize, we really can't do this on our own, we are offered a helping hand. Maybe one's not enough, so we may be offered another one. We can choose to take it or not. But if we take it, we just might have the help we need to get over that wall.

Note--*Most times I think squirrels are pretty dumb since they can never figure out which way to run across the road. But in this case, at least, these squirrels showed some thought.

Monday, May 18, 2009


My therapy session today was a bit interesting. Last week, we veered off and discussed work, career, and relationships, all of which was very pertinent (still is) and held my anxiety at bay. This week, we refocused on the trauma issues. I tried just talking about it versus writing it as C. felt this just distanced me from the emotions too much. Overall, I don't think it went the way she expected as I had a much tougher time thinking about my thoughts and feelings of the past and present.

There was one instance where I was recounting an event. C. asked a question about it, and I paused momentarily. So small, I didn't even think she noticed. But she did, and then asked a "what else" type question. I spoke of another instance which happened that I had given much less thought to over the years. It was significant, but like an afterthought, "oh yeah, and then this other time..." The funny thing with that incident is that I remember it much more clearly, with all those cues like what movie was on, that there was an interruption, that it was dark, how I felt before and afterwards, etc. This is highly different from the trauma incident that felt the most traumatic. Those details are all blurred with my recollections unclear, making me wonder about my own accuracies or inaccuracies.

After recounting the not so thought about incident, C. asked if there was anything else. And then, I said, there was this time and that time, etc. My first thoughts about this as I left was "shit, no wonder why I developed an eating disorder."

But aside from that point, what this also reminded me of was "baggage." We all have it. It's the skeletons in the closet we rarely like to talk about or show. It's the dirty laundry that makes us feel unlovable, unworthy, ashamed, damaged. For some of us, it feels like our Scarlet Letter A.

I was reading Jenni Schaefer's post on the Huffington Post about Dating real people (after and eating disorder). She said how she used to "air out the dirty laundry" early in dating someone as an attempt to see whether the other person really liked her. Personally, as a general rule, I've always been opposite in not revealing the "dirty laundry" until after I knew the person better. Of course, there were certain instances when I offered too much information as well. But mostly, I've always been afraid of my own "baggage" even if I was carrying my own bags. My thinking was more along the lines of, "if I'm afraid of my own baggage, what would someone else think?"

I've known many people in both circumstances. Some people want to get it all out there, while others feel like it'll just make the person run. Neither way is right or wrong but rather dependent on you. I think the thing that is more damaging is when you are so fearful of your own baggage that you never let go of the handles.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Acting and its role in life

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.

That was one of my favorite quotes as a young child, especially during my acting days. When I was a young child, one of my summer activities was a youth acting camp. I don't remember that much about the camp, but I must have enjoyed it. After that, I had the preconceived idea I would be a star actress one day, playing in movies, television or even Broadway. My parents went along with this idea and always told me how I was such a good little actress.

In elementary and middle school, I still enjoyed acting and played several different roles. In high school, I no longer auditioned for roles but helped out with sets every once in awhile. I found myself enjoying the "drama" crew, but at the same time, never really fitting in to the clique.

In my senior year of high school, the well known local teen theater put on a production of the musical "Tommy." I didn't audition for an acting/singing (horrible singer) part but rather a dancing part and was one of the good "spirit" entities of the young Tommy if you want to call it that. That production was probably one of the highlights of my entire high school career. I remember the director whom I had known through the youth acting camp tell my mother it was like coming "full circle," having known me as a young girl, learning about America to then a teenager, about to leave for college.

Anyway, I was reminded of my literal acting days after I read this blog post, asking if you are the star of your own life. Lynch, a performance coach, says:

You may feel as if you're a supporting character, randomly re-acting to circumstances beyond your control, but the truth is you are here, the play is going on and no one, including the most powerful 'characters' around you, have any more foreknowledge past what the very next line might be. So, in the play that happens today, you might as well be the star.

This is sometimes easier said than done. After all, which is easier: to be the bride or the bridesmaid? Personally, this has been a difficult thing for me. For much of my life, I've wanted to be the "bride," but yet, had a fear of being in the spotlight too. However, at the same time, I didn't always want to be stuck being the bridesmaid either. It felt like a no-win situation. So in essence, it seems like I'd easily want to be the star of my own life. But that too feels hard.

What Lynch says in his post is very inspiring, truthful, and offers a great metaphor for life. I guess I'm wishing I could think along those lines or really apply this to myself.

Then, I think of the role of the eating disorder in life and how well, in some sort of sense I became this great actress. After my terrible teen and early college years with ED, everyone thought I was past it, that it just went poof, and went away. At least this seemed the thinking of my father. And so after awhile, it felt easier to go along with that than to actually say how much I still struggled. Even to this day, it continues to only be spoken in a past tense.

My mom, on the other hand, may have some hints, but again doesn't press the issue. Our conversation last weekend went more like:

Mom: Well, your pantry looks a little bare.
Me: Really, I didn't think so.

After grocery shopping:

Me: Thank you for buying groceries.
Mom: Well, I just wanted to do my part. I know the dogs will eat well, but I don't know about you. But you have to eat to run.
Me: Yeah, I guess.

And so the acting goes on.

So, do you feel like you are the star of your own life? Do you feel like you are an impostor or that you are always acting?

Note:--*This post was kind of everywhere with many different thoughts. Hopefully, you can suss through it all.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Smorgasborg of weight in television

Sometimes, I get so tired of all the weight loss shows on television. Though the shows all claim that it is about health, there is always a focus on numbers.

We'd all agree that the The Biggest Loser finale certainly focused on numbers. Many bloggers, including myself, have talked about this show and the misappropriate message it is sending to the public. Last night was the season 7 finale. Helen Phillips, a 48-year old woman from Michigan, took the prize of $250,000 after losing a percentage of more than half her body weight. Looking at those finale photos, my eyebrows raise, reminding me just how much someone will do for a cash incentive. Of course, I cannot say this was her sole motivation, but clearly, there wasn't much of an appearance of "health." This also included the at-home winner, Jerry, the oldest contestant, who looked like he had aged 20 years.

So this begs the question, does the Biggest Loser finale cause eating disorders as the tvsquad suggests.

The sad thing about all this is 1) I couldn't believe I kept thinking, "well, crap, she weighs less than me" and 2) The Biggest Loser is slated for another season next year.

Since the Biggest Loser has become popular, another new show coming to the Oxygen network is hoping to prove to be just as successful. Dance your ass off combines both the aspects of the Biggest Loser and Dancing with the Stars. In this show, contestants are paired with a professional dancer and nutritionist. Each week, they perform a dance and receive scores from judges. Combing the judges' scores with how much weight loss they had during that week, determines elimination. Hmm, I just don't think this is sending the greatest message either to a general audience who craves weight loss.

On a positive note here, I caught a few episodes of the Wetv show, I want to save your life with Charles Stuart Platkin, aka the "Diet Detective." Platkin, a nutrition and public health advocate, performs health interventions on various individuals/couples each week. Platkin spends a week with the individuals, educating them on nutrition, exercise, and general well being. He leaves it up to them, and then returns 3-4 months later to see how they have progressed.

What I liked about this show was that there was a general less overall emphasis on weight. It did seem to be more geared towards a healthy lifestyle. In the show, he did not advocate for 6-8 hours of exercise a day but a much more reasonable amount for weight loss. There was more a realistic approach to getting exercise any way you could then simply hours in the gym. With eating, there wasn't an extremist ideology, but instead making health conscious choices. I wish more people watched this show, as there was much more of a realistic approach to weight loss.

Lastly, today's Dr,. Phil had an episode on eating disorders. I didn't see the entire episode, but did read through the show. In general, Dr. Phil did seem to have a little of an understanding on the plight of eating disorders. This specific show focused on a set of twins, one of whom had an eating disorder. Cynthia Bulik, researcher and author of Crave, was also in the audience to help both the eating disorder individual and the family with informative, helpful insights.

Thoughts on any of these shows?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. It comes around the second Sunday of every May, though I must admit I was off this year and kept thinking it was last Sunday for some reason. I lie fault in the stores who put cards out three to four weeks in advance. :grin:

Mother's Day has never been a huge holiday for either my mother and me. As a child, I did things like normal children do--give my mother the day off, pamper her, make her dinner, etc. In college, I did my annual duty of sending a card, telling her all my thanks for the wonderful things she had done, things I should have said on a daily basis versus just on the second Sunday in May. However, as I've gotten older, Mother's Day has become more special to me. Maybe, I've finally realized just how special she is, not only for the things she has done but for the person she is. Or maybe, it's just that I'm getting older and realize that one day she will not be here. I read this blog post in the Huffington Times here that really reminded me the importance of Mother's Day.

This Mother's Day, my mother is actually here with me. This has not happened since high school, mostly due to distance. She didn't plan on it, like she was coming just for Mother's Day. It just happened that this was worked for her schedule. So today, I plan on taking her to a dinner of her choice and making her favorite snickerdoodle cookies, a recipe that was passed from my grandmother. I guess I just want to enjoy these next few days before she leaves on Tuesday. In all honesty, I can't predict what will happen today, tomorrow, a few days, a month, a year from now, but I want to value the time I have with her.

Happy Mother's Day to all! Whether you are a mother to a two-legged, four-legged, or multiple-legged species, I hope you enjoy the day in whatever form that may be.

Note;;*Image Carnations represent Mother's day.
Interesting post from NY Times about things we should all ask out mothers.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

High-functioning, still eating disordered

There is an interesting piece in the NY Times called "High-functioning, but still alcoholics." In it, Sarah Allen Benton, author of Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic, says,

high-functioning alcoholics are able to maintain respectable, even high-profile lives, usually with a home, family, job and friends. That balancing act continues until something dreadful happens that reveals the truth — to themselves or to others — and forces the person to enter a treatment program or lose everything that means anything."

This description reminded me of the similarities of what I've always called the "high-functioning" eating disordered person. These are the individuals who continue to excel in academics, careers, sports, hobbies, motherhood, etc. despite actively engaging in their eating disorders. It's actually quite a paradox, as one would think the opposite--that these individuals could not function.

The problem with this success (for however long that might be) is that it provides a sense of illusion that there really isn't a problem. Because again, the logic would be the eating disorder would not allow them to function, so how is it they are still functioning? As Peter Hamill, author of A Drinking Life, says
"If I was able to function, to get the work done, there was no reason to worry about drinking. It was part of living, one of the rewards."

Or as Benton says, "Having outside accomplishments led me and others to excuse my drinking and avoid categorizing me as an alcoholic. My success was the mask that disguised the underlying demon and fed my denial."

I guess I bring up this whole point of the "high-functioning" eating disordered person, because I think a lot of us fall or have fallen into this trap at one time or another. We may not completely flat and out deny we have a problem, but there is still the idea we can somehow be both. While it is true, this can work for awhile, eventually our bodies and minds will catch up to the deprivation. And by that time, sometimes it becomes too late to fix the existing damage.

The take home message is to not be fooled by "high-functioning." Because in the end, it's still an eating disorder. Or as Benton says, "
It’s not the number of drinks that defines an alcoholic. It's what happens to you when you’re drinking." In this case, it would be, "it's not the number of calories (or weight) that defines an eating disorder, but rather what happens you when actively engaged in your eating disorder."

Note--*For further reading about the "functional alcoholic," Caroline Knapp's Drinking: a love story is excellent. I actually found myself significantly relating to this book more than other eating disorders ones.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fortune cookies

The last several days I've had a lot of "interesting" things happen. All are things that could be explained by mere coincidence, but they could be something else too depending on how you look at it. For example, today, I had a the door open to the backyard for the dogs, and a bird flew in. It circled around for a moment, enough for Tovah to notice and look up, and then it flew out. I've had birds fly in before, but it is fairly rare.

Then, yesterday, I met with my friend K. We hung out at the mall, talked, and had dinner at the Asian Buffet. Neither she nor her husband wanted their fortune cookies, so I took one. My first fortune was the bottom one in the photo.

K. and I laughed about this, because of our conversation literally right before dinner. Unfortunately, I can't go into details about the conversation, but it is really a BIG thing for me.

When I got home, I decided for the heck of it to open the other two fortune cookies. Those were the first two in the photo. I told K. about this as well, and she just giggled.

Truly, I'm not some person who believes you can make symbolism out of every single thing. Heck, most fortune cookies have no relation to you whatsoever. I always remember the one my father got once which read 60% cotton, 40% rayon. WTF was that supposed to mean? Seriously, my theory has always been that there are probably only 24 or so fortunes in a box, just all recirculated. Thus, I've always read fortune cookies with a grain of salt in truth

This time, the fortunes seem slightly different because of the context of my life and the conversation K. and I had. I just keep thinking that perhaps the universe in all its bizarre ways is trying to tell me something. And that maybe this time, I need to listen to it. It's just that listening to it is really scary as all those words like change, fear, success, failure all arise.

Note--Did you know that fortune cookies did not originate in China but rather Japan? story here
Also, if you want more facts about fortune cookies, read The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A mere "sign" or coincidence?

First off, thanks to all of you who commented or just held thoughts and/or prayers about these little birds. I truly appreciate how so many of you cared.

In the comments, Carrie and Sarah-J said that if the birds could that they would thank me for my caring actions. So here's my little story for today.

I was at work and doing my usual chores outside. It rained last night, so the paddocks were very wet and muddy. I'm walking along the paddock and suddenly see this on the ground:

I was astounded, thinking how remarkable this was. I've always said that when animals who are rescued pass away, they leave this earth knowing that someone kind took them in, loved them, and are forever grateful for that. Sometimes, it is beautiful to see a "sign" just to know. I know this could be a mere "coincidence," but I sure like to think this was from the baby birds, saying "thank you." Even the color of the feather would have been about right (I'm thinking these birds might have been blue jays) if the birds had matured.

The last few days have been a whirlwind, and quite frankly, I'm kind of exhausted with emotion. It was well worth the experience, and I'm sure won't be my last. But, this first one on my own as an adult will always have a special place in my heart.

Nature took its course

Sad news to report. Both baby birds died today. One, this afternoon, the other this evening. They both died in my hand while I was feeding them. One minute they seemed fine and were eating, and the next, their bodies stopped moving, and went limp. I now know what it feels like to hold something in your hand as it takes its last breath. These little guys were tiny at only 1 1/2 ounces, so there was just not much substance to them yet.

I knew it was such a slim chance that they would survive, even make it 24 hours (two did), but I wanted to hold out hope. I know I made some mistakes, like giving them water, but I really think they just didn't have enough gumption to keep going.

I buried both of them in the same place as the other one that was already deceased this morning. The interesting thing this afternoon was that I found two nests, both empty, on the other side of where I originally found the birds. I must not have seen them yesterday. I now know that the mother/father had a good chance of finding them, since they were nearby the nests, but they didn't. I also noticed when I walked around the tree, there was another baby bird in the same place I found the others. Unfortunately, it was not alive. I buried that one as well with the rest and said prayers and my good-byes to them.

In some ways, I do feel silly being emotional about these baby birds, but at the same time, I had such a feeling of exhilaration rooting for these little ones. It gave me a sense of hope that something good could happen, that I could save something. The one thing that provides me relief is that the ones under my care passed away with food in their system, warmth for their bodies, and tender loving care. Why it wasn't enough, I don't know. This was just not meant to be. :sigh:

Note--*Photos taken in the afternoon. Both birds were alive and kicking.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quick update--saving the baby birds

Thank you everyone for your well wishes. I really have no clue what will happen to them as about 90-95% die.

When I went back this morning, one did indeed die. It was weakest of the three, so it didn't surprise me. I buried him in the makeshift nest I had made and decided to take the other two. There was no way they would have made it at all, since their body temperature was quite chilled. I figured if the mother/father did not find them yesterday or this morning, then they were likely abandoned.

This is a bit new territory for me, so I got online and read some good articles. Apparently, no water should be given to them as that can damage their lungs. Eeek! I hope they will be okay. I made them a new "nest" in a box lined with newspaper and a heating pad. In the two hours, they've been with me, they seem much more alert, moving around and pooping too. Lucikly, I had some canned dog I had just bought, so I'm feeding them that. This is a huge challenge, as they need to be fed every 15-20 minutes with the exception between 10 PM-6 AM. And they are slow eaters! So they will definitely be coming to work with me. I only have one dilemma and that is Sunday (if they make it that long). I'm meeting my friend K. for the afternoon and had not planned on being back until the evening. I'm hoping maybe my boss will take care of them for me since she I asked her to take care of Tovah for that day.

That's the update so far. Wish me luck. I'd really like to see these little guys make it.

Rooting for unlikely candidates

When I was young, I always knew the signs of spring and summer. Besides the trees and flowers blooming, it was also the time where various baby animals were seen. There were many times my mother and I found baby birds who'd fallen from their nest, young blue jays who came into the house, baby squirrels whose home had been destroyed by the demolishment of their tree and mother, baby garter snakes our cats brought in, and young bats which flew in (that was actually fall but still fits this theme of baby animals).

Each of these animals, we either put in their appropriate places, rescued them, or gave them to the wildlife center to rehabilitate, a place where we volunteered in transportation. Sadly, none of them made it. The newborn squirrels left the most impression on me. They were only a few days old, naked and blind, easily fitting into the palm of my tiny hand. Without the knowledge these were squirrels, they could have easily been mistaken for newborn pandas. When they died, I held a funeral for them and buried them near the site of the fallen tree.

Today's adventures reminded me of those sweet childhood moments. While at work, I decided to work with Tovah in the neighbor's yard. I like to practice recalls there, hiding behind trees and bushes. As we were walking around a pine tree, suddenly, I saw three pink things. I took a closer look and realized they were very young baby birds! I looked around for a nest, but did not see one. I probably should not have, but I picked them up and was going to put them in a box to care for.

By this time, Tovah was incredibly curious. I told her she could look and to be "gentle." She did beautifully until she wasn't sure what they were, and then she barked at them. It was absolutely hilarious, but each time she barked, they squawked and opened their mouths.

After talking to my boss who I don't think realized how young they were and remembering that some mothers will find their young, I decided to put them back where I found them. Still, I was unsure, so I figured resident biologist Cammy would know what to do. We exchanged a few texts, and she told me the stark details that it was probably an unsalvageable situation and even if I took them in, they were likely not to make it.

I had this feeling, but by the end of the day, I decided to at least move them inside the pine tree since storms are predicted for the next three days. I figured the small chance they had to live, at least it was better in there than on the outer rim where rain would just beat down on them. I made a little "nest" out of some twigs I found and used some other plant material for padding. They did some content but very hungry.

When I finished up work, I decided to feed them some earthworms and water. I had to dig for these earthworms but managed to get two dozen or so. One by one, I fed each of them a worm. This proved to be much more difficult than I planned. They'd open their mouths, the worms would squiggle around and then just stayed there in a circle in their mouths. This reminded me of those incidents when people fall asleep with food in their mouths. I know at this early age the mothers usually regurgitate their food, but I was obviously not going to do this. Instead, I helped them by adding a few droplets of water, closing their beak, and soothing their throats. They only ate 4-5 a piece, so I hope that will be sufficient.

While I was doing all this, Tovah just sat and watched, no barking whatsoever. She even went up to them to nuzzle them. I truly love it when species of animals can learn to be gentle with one another, especially when one is a predator. It's a beautiful sight. Speaking of which, Tovah has also reminded me how well a dog's memory works. When I went to go feed the baby birds, she totally beelined to where we had found them. Yesterday, she also did something similar, but that post will be later.

I have no earthly idea whether these baby birds will make it. I know it's bleak, and who knows, they could be dead by tomorrow. But for some reason, just knowing that I did everything I could, gives me a sense of not just satisfaction or relief, but something else. I don't know the word to articulate it, and this sounds cheesy, but it's like smiling at myself sweetly.

I'm not really sure why I'm rooting so hard for these baby birds to make it. Maybe, it's because I know there is no one else to. This is when I hope nature decides not to takes its course but rather produce a miracle.

Note--*I'm sorry the image quality is less than stellar for these photos. I was using my camera phone which has not been upgraded yet.

Feet: an essential body part that needs to be heard

Today was my podiatry appointment. This was a new doctor my physiatrist recommended to me. I'm always a little skeptical since the last ortho doctor turned into an ass. (more here)

In general my foot woes only seem to be slightly better, despite practically non-existent running the last six weeks. I found even after a single run, the next day, walking was painful.
If I was on my feet all day or had to do a lot of mowing, that too exacerbated the pain.

The podiatrist was nice and diagnosed me as the same self-diagnosis I gave myself after ruling out a stress fracture and already knowing about the arthritis: capsulitis. So the treatment is to try an over-the-counter orthotic called the powerstep for awhile. It is supposed to raise your arch, stabilize your heel, and give extra cushion. The hope is that it offsets the pressure on my second digit and metatarsal area. If this doesn't work, and the pain continues, then I may have to get custom orthotics.

I also gave in and had a cortisone shot. For some reason, I always associate cortisone shots negatively. I think it is mostly due to hearing about athletes who must workout or compete and then wind up abusing it. So cortisone and meds and such are really the last conservative options for me.

The whole thing that boggles my mind about this is how this could have come up now (nearly three months ago with no stringent training and eating okayish). I posed this question to my physiatrist, and all she said was that it was probably in the making and you didn't know it. For some reason, it's a bit saddening to know I didn't know my body or just ignored it (very typical of me) Not like body image which is distorted, but rather the knowledge of how my body was working physically. It's a reminder how we really do need to listen to our bodies more and feet are no exception.