Sunday, September 26, 2010

Shopping revisited

In less than a month, I'm going to my annual dog conference. For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, this is a conference I've gone to for the past six of seven years. The conference tends to have1000+ people come from all over the world and have world class speakers in the field of dog training, education, and veterinary practice. Over the years I've begun to come out of my shell and have established myself as an important member of the conference staff. Last year was what I call "my break out" year. And this year I had the big task of writing work plans for the off-site workshops--8 total, I'm writing 6 of them It's been exciting being in collaboration with some well known speakers. I still get starstruck at times. There is still a lot of work to do as we have run into snafus, but it'll all get done.

This year the conference is in Hotlanta (Atlanta), though in October, it shouldn't be too hoot. I've been informed that our uniform has been changed. We are no longer allowed to wear jeans but rather khakis or something similar. I think this was mostly due to the fact that the board of directors felt like we as "staff" should stand out more. So, this means I do actually have to go shopping again. I have two pair of wearable khakis (one is a very nice pair so do not want to take with me). I realized one pair I got last time had a big pen mark on the butt. I have no clue how I missed this-this was a thrift store buy so returning it is not an option.

Several months ago, I talked about the lost causes of shopping. At the time, I had to shop for some khaki pants at work. Several of my fabulous readers gave me great comments in the next post where I recapped my shopping adventures. This attire policy has since been revoked, and I now get to wear jeans every day along with my beige logo polo shirts. This suits me fine, honestly, because though khaki pants are okay, with dogs, it just equates to mess, dirt, and a lot of hair. An example--we have a Siberian Husky/Border Collie cross who sheds an entire small dog when she is at daycare. I'd post a pic of her, but that photo is not on this computer. She has the coolest looking eyes I have ever seen on a dog--literally one eye is half blue, half brown top to bottom; while the other eye is exactly opposite.

Anyway, so I have to gear myself up once again to go shopping. You'd think that after my last shopping excursion, I'd feel good about this. But really I'm still not feeling totally comfortable enough in my body to just go out and shop. It seems to take planning, deliberation, and a lot of patience. And there are a million and one things I'd rather be doing/have to do than planning a shopping trip. We have events and many classes going on at work, need to get my hair cut, many things to do with the house, yard, etc. Btw, did I mention my tadpoles have still not grown? I had to add more water (had to dechlorinate it) since we have had sparse rain here. Therefore, I can't clean out the pond yet.

So I don't know if the issue is really just a time factor/don't want to deal with it issue or more of a body image one. The latter seems to surface more when I am faced with shopping or dressing for something out of the ordinary, etc. I know I would feel a little better if I was just moving more, but I've turned that into a when do I really find the time excuse issue. That brings up another set of thoughts as well reserved for a a post for another day.

I guess I'm just looking for some rah rah rahs for shopping and encouragement. As we say in dog training, it is often times harder to change the emotion than just the behavior.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ok Go video

In case you have not seen this dog video yet, it is great. This video is impressive in that it was shot on one take with no editing. But more than that, it wasn't about perfection, but more that these dogs were having fun, something we all need to do.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dating and eating disorders-Jezebel

In case you missed it (came out yesterday), Anna North of Jezebel recently wrote an article on the delicate balance of dating and mental illness which included the wonderful Carrie and me. I think the article was well done, and by the number of views and comments, there were many people who could relate.

Dating while with an eating disorder or recovering from one is tough. The ED is so isolating that you kind of forget about other people all together. The ED is more your companion than anything. To add someone else in the mix, stirs up a variety of issues that may or may not have been present.

There is a constant myriad of messages to overcome, including the most powerful one--yours (or ED if you believe it is more of a separate voice). All the ingrained thoughts of feeling unlovable, damaged/flawed, broken, unworthy, not good enough, and more are difficult to overcome. Dating won't necessarily solve them, but it might help lessen the harshness, offering a glimmer of hope.

Here's what I have to say about dating while in recovery:

"I'd tell someone that you have to put yourself out there, even when your mind is telling you otherwise--that you are not lovable, not attractive, all those negative thoughts that cab harbors the ED. If you never do or are too fearful, you will never know what is out there.

I'd also say that to try to find a balance between feeling comfortable but also challenging yourself too. Dating is certainly not easy, but it can be fun. It's especially easier when you are not physically starved and can think more clearly. Then, you can truly reap the experience and feel the 'emotions' of it all."

Just like your ED, dating takes time. It likely won't happen overnight, but I do think it can happen for many of us, even to those who feel they may never find anyone. Keep trying. (I've definitely had to tell this to myself several times) Like denim jeans, sometimes, we have to try many before finding the right fit.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reminders of recovery

I'm super busy this week with working on a powerpoint for work, conference calls, and working on a big project for October, so though I have posts I really want to write, they are going to have to wait until the end of the weekend.

In the meantime, here are some cool photos I took recently that reminded me of recovery:

I happened to see these yesterday afternoon on my three-quarter eaten curly parsley plant for Clover. I originally thought they were some kind of worm, but from a quick google image search, I learned they were Black Swallowtail caterpillars. As we all know with caterpillars, they eventually metamorphose into beautiful butterflies.

I think recovery can be looked at like the life cycle of a butterfly. ( ) is my interpretation of ED recovery. Butterflies start with an egg (idea of recovery forms) In the larva stage, they are caterpillars where they eat to grow (re-feeding/weight gain) The third stage is the Chrysalis or pupa stage. This is when the caterpillar has reached its full weight/length and forms a pupa (cocoon structure) It may look like nothing is going on, but amazing transformations are taking place inside. Tissues, limbs, and organs are becoming developed for the butterfly (ED processing, change of thoughts, ideas, and actions) In the fourth and final stage, beautiful adult butterflies emerge. The butterflies shed their cocoon substance and have soft, folded wings which they must learn to fly with in order to survive and mate. (testing the waters of recovery, may be a slow process, learn to apply knowledge we have learned)

In this last stage, we learn, rediscover, and break free from the ED. We emerge more aware, more understanding, and in a healthier state of body and mind. Just like the life cycle of a butterfly continues on and on, sometimes our recovery is too. It may take more than one life cycle of a butterfly for us to finally turn into that butterfly of recovery.

Recovery is also like a tunnel. It is long and can be windy. We may feel like we are stuck in one particular spot forever, but in reality, there is always an end, an opening, a light at the end of the tunnel. At times, it is only that light that reminds us of the goal, keeps us in perspective when all feels lost or we are frustrated. Therefore, if we continue through the tunnel, we can eventually find our way out.

Note--*Caterpillar pictures were taken at night! I was quite impressed with myself!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why we wait

The last few days I've been thinking about the question of why we wait to get treatment.  This question surfaced when a client e-mailed telling us she would not be in class this past week.  Her e-mail had said she had a family emergency where her "bad" dog almost tried to kill her "sweet" dog. From other details of the e-mail, this assessment would be about right since the injured dog wound up in a neuro ICU at an emergency vet clinic for four days and now needs constant care.

A., my boss, and I had discussed this client before.  She had not asked about private consultations, but we knew it sounded like she could benefit from them.  She lives with 5 or 6 German Shepherds, at least 1 or 2 of them have to remain separate from the rest, and the most recent GSD, her son's dog, has dog reactivity issues.  The latter had gotten in a dog fight several weeks prior to class, and her husband got bit.  Our assessment was that either something awful and traumatic would happen before immediate action would take place, she was in denial there was a real problem, or possibly her husband did not want to do private training due to time, cost, or only wanting to use a heavy hand so to speak (we run into this frequently)

Now, I'm not just pointing out this specific client, because we run into problem all the time.  In fact, ask any dog trainer, and most will say that a good 75% of their cases are related to fear and aggression.  Many times, people wait until there is a real problem where major damage has been done, instead of looking at all the warning signs that have been shown.  Sometimes, people do not even know what the potential signs are, so it is vital to continue education.

I think this entire thinking is very similar to eating disorders and other illnesses.  We often wait until we have a major break down before getting help.  Whether it is denial, validation purposes, or whatever, we wait.  We wait until it's almost too late, until the problem is acutely, visibly seen, until our bodies and mind begin shutting down from starvation, purging, compulsive exercise, etc.

In other instances, people still have the notion that this is just a phase for the ED sufferer, that the person will just snap out of it, that all they need to do is eat, and all will be better.  Other times, people fear the stigma of having a mental illness or that they don't deserve help.  Meanwhile, no treatment is done at all, therefore, the problem which might have been caught early has now escalated and snowballed into months and years of an eating disorder.  

This is certainly not to say that sometimes efforts are made by both the sufferer and other family members/friends and either treatment is denied/unaffordable or the sufferer refuses, but here, I'm focusing on the whole concept of waiting until things go from just awry to bad to worse to traumatic.

In some ways, it almost seems like human nature. Whether it is a dog's behavior, an ED or another illness, 
having some major trauma, break down episode forces us to see and realize things are not hunky dory.  It's sad that most times this is what it takes to get our attention. Imagine if we all took more of a proactive stance?  With dogs, there would be less dog behavior problems.  With those with EDs, more would get help earlier on and not fall into years and years of misery.

I have to say that with recovery, I've gotten to a point where it is easier for me to be more proactive than I used to be.  Therefore, I have less chance of falling into a deep, dark pit of despair.  It's not easy to change this type of thinking, but in the end, your life may be worth it.