Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baby shower update

First off, thanks for the supportive comments, everyone. It is always nice to know that I am not the only one who has difficulty with these things.

Overall, the baby shower went okay. There were about 25 or so people plus some kids. The majority there were people my friends knew from church. People seemed to pick a table and sit. I sat with this one woman who I introduced myself to. I think she felt awkward due to my hand and didn't speak to me after that. Others sat at the table, including my friend's husband. That got the ball rolling in talking. Many asked how I knew my friend. In some ways, it felt awkward to say I'd known her for 14 years online first, then met her in person a few months ago. But at the same time, it's a cool story too.

I don't know if I truly hit it off with anyone, but there was one woman who was interesting to talk to. She did missionary work in China for 3 years. She now helps with some of the college students who come from China with becoming acquainted here.

Food wise, it was pretty simple--a veggie/fruit tray, crackers/dip, cake, and punch. There were no games at this shower, just watching the opening of gifts. And that was it. It was simple and nice. We were all there to support the couple, and that was all that counted. As this is their first child, the next 6 weeks will be busy, followed by the next 4-6 months of no sleep. So this was like the last time some of us might see them for awhile.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Baby shower time

baby shower Pictures, Images and PhotosA week or so ago, I decided I'd go to a baby shower for a friend. At the time, it seemed like a fine idea. But then I looked at the number on the guest list. It's been confirmed about half of the people invited are coming which is 25 or so people. I know this is not that significant of a number really, but still, stress and anxiety kick in.

In my pre-recovery ED days, the stress and anxiety would have been more due to all-things food-related-what would I eat, would there be stuff I could eat there, would people be watching me? This has lessened significantly as I've learned that there is usually something I can find to eat/nibble on even if it may be my own Luna/Clif bar and that people have more to do/think about than watch me eat. Of course, there is the rare person who picks out some observation, but likely, they have their own worries too.

Now, it seems it is more the whole social aspect of these events. It's not so much to do with the type of event as it is that it is a room full of strangers. This isn't a new thing for me, but I do think it was exacerbated when I went to Pensacola for a family reunion a few years ago. I had a terrible time there and almost all my worries were validated. This was one reason why I refrained from going to the Thanksgiving family reunion this past year. I'm sure I'll be known as the "invisible one" (one relative did not think I existed because it took 6-7 years before they met me. They jokingly said I did not exist/I was made up), but that's really okay at this point. Come to think of it, I'm not really close to any cousins, nephews, nieces, etc. on either sides of my family. But that's a post for another day.

So in saying all this, here is what I am telling myself (okay psyching myself):
  • This could be really fun
  • This could be a good opportunity to meet people
  • There may be other people who feel similarly
  • Dogs are always a good thing to talk about (animals really are good icebreakers)
  • The host will probably feel more stressed than me
  • This is a celebration for my friend's pregnancy, so it is about her not me
I'm hopeful that I'll have a better time than my anxieties and worries may be shouting at me.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bunny fun

This is a totally off topic post from my normal realm, but I use looking through some videos and photos on my computer tonight. This just brought a smile to my face.

If you think bunnies can't learn or don't like interactive toys, take a look at Clover here.

Here she is playing with an egg-cersizer toy. This toy was originally for cats. There are several adjustable holes to make it easier or more difficult to get the treats (pellets in Clover's case) out. I use the egg-cersizer every weekend, and she just has a blast with it. She's now gotten very good at it and can get all her pellets out rather quickly.

Similar to with my own dogs, it is truly fun to watch her use her brain, have enjoyment, and gain enrichment.

Edit: Here's a still photo I captured of Clover playing with her egg-cersizer toy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

PT once again

I posted Body aches a few weeks ago. I decided against the chiropractor for now and instead sought out an orthopedist. I figured it would be good to have one here since it seems to be inevitable I will have a type of musculoskeletal problem at some point. Because I tend to be really picky and choosy about who I see, I read a lot of different bios and ratings. Do other people do this as well? It was interesting because at times, one doctor had an excellent rating on one site but awful on the other. I don't completely rely on these things as they are subjective, but they do give some kind of insight.

I wound up going with a youngish bald-headed dr. who also happened to be a long distance runner. The appt. was yesterday. Overall, his ratings were spot on, and he seemed both nice and informative. He did an initial physical exam. We noticed my left side was considerably tighter than my right. We took x-rays of my left knee, left hip, and back to be on the safe side. Nothing was overtly apparent except gas! That was really embarrassing as I have no clue how or why that showed up other than my meal schedule was off that day.

Anyway, he is thinking it is illiotibial band syndrome. I looked into this previously, but I didn't think I really fit all the symptoms. He recommended a round of 6-8 weeks of physical therapy. In the past, I have found physical therapy to be helpful, but I dread the cost. My insurance sucks and will only cover about $300-$400, the rest is out of pocket. And the only way I can do this with my work schedule is on my lunch hour. My neighbor has agreed to let my dogs out that day, so I feel grateful for that.

If I do not feel better, my symptoms persist, then we'll look at further testing and treatment. There is no reason at this point but to treat it conservatively. There were a few things the Dr. said that rang true: 1) Starting to run will only make you tighter. Thus, it is good to get a handle on this now. 2) IT band syndrome can be a sticky and difficult ailment to treat 3) He said he had many patients who come in and say they tried to heal themselves on their own by reading on the internet how to do IT band stretches, but yet, they are not better and still seeing him!

I actually think this might be good, because ironically it gives me another human connection. I know it sounds odd phrasing it that way, but right now, I have little to none during my work week. At my last physical therapy place, my pt S. and I became good friends. It was fun getting to know her on a personal level as well as helping her out with her dogs.

I remember during one session, I was doing a difficult exercise, and she was timing me. Well, she forgot to tell me when to stop, and I yelled out, "I think it's been like over a minute now." We had funny similar moments like that where we'd laugh and joke around, but at the same time, she pushed me too to higher standards in those sessions and proved to be the best pt I have ever had. We have thus maintained our friendship and continue to e-mail each other. The others in the office were great too, and they all got a chance to know me.

Overall, I am hopeful this will help. I *think* I'm in more pain than I often admit to myself both physically and emotionally, so it's time to do something about it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My thoughts on Black Swan

Natalie Portman
Niko Tavernise via Fox Searchlight

I'm finally getting around to writing my thoughts on the movie Black Swan. Though I'm a month late in writing this, I figured this would be a good time since the Golden Globes are on tonight. Black Swan is nominated for 4 Globes, and Natalie Portman is the favorite in the best actor category. By the way, I think this will be her first real public showing with the new "bun" in the oven so to speak.

Anyway, it is interesting, because although I had known about Black Swan being an Oscar contender way before its actual release date, it wasn't until about a week before its limited release that it began to garner a huge amount of press. I first heard about the lengths which Natalie Portman went through for the role in this Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross (as you can tell I listen to a lot of NPR ;-)) Then, there were a slew of other articles which came out about "discipline", possible encouragement of eating disorders, etc. This movie was quite the buzz, especially for body image/eating disorder advocates, the pro-ana movement, and the ballet world. More attention was given with the New York Times ballet critic Alastair Macauley' s disparaging remark of Jennifer Ringer's body "looking as if she'd eaten one sugar plum too many" in his review of the Nutcracker. With all this press, would it cause more people to actually see the movie?

I do not know the actual figure count into how many people have seen the movie. Critics have given it quite a number of accolades. People, in general, however have viewed it with mixed reactions. One dog trainer I know on facebook (she is not into tutus, frills, or ballet) wound up loving it, relating it to the movie Stigmata. A number of reviews I've seen by other people thought the movie was good, but it wasn't one they would necessarily see again.

Here's my take, it was a good movie, Natalie Portman portrayed the role of Nina well, but it is not a movie for everyone. I still have some mixed feelings about it since it does show an exaggerated, albeit dark side to the world of ballet. A few Canadian professional ballet dancers explain it well here. Also, I think some of the sexuality in the film could have been toned down. I just didn't see it as necessary, but then again this is Hollywood, and drama brings in big bucks.

In terms of the "encouragement" of eating disorders, I had a hard time seeing that. Yes, there were several food scenes where Nina hardly ate or just took a taste of congratulatory cake her mom had brought her, scenes of purging (though this seemed a lot more due to nervousness, worry than a feeling of fat). The dancers in general were thin--overly I don't think but then again my view of thin may be different from what someone else sees. The thing about whether this movie would be triggering, well, it depends on how you look at it. Some may see it as glorifying eating disorders if that is what they are looking for; while others view it vastly differently in that it gives just an opposite opinion. You have to decide for yourself on that one.

In terms of themes, the movie portrays a number of them, including dedication, physical price for an art, obsession, paranoia, an overcontrolling parent, and most of all perfection. Throughout the movie, you hear Nina say, "I just want to be perfect." It becomes an all consuming adjective that many of us can relate to. Natalie Portman portrays this well in the role--to the point of craziness with hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. In the end, she sacrifces herself for it with her last line, "I was perfect." Some might call this melodramatic or over the top, but really what is shows is the idea that when you become so wrapped up in something, you lose yourself figuratively and possibly literally.

There are a few other stand out quotes from the movie, both said by Thomas Leroy, the ballet director in the movie. "The only person standing in your way is you" and "Perfection is not just about control...It's also about letting go."

These remind me a lot of recovery--that there is something to be said for letting go to be perfect. Perfectionism isn't just about the aspects of restraint and control but also to feel, to have balance in your life, to realize there is a lot out there rather than the bubble we may place ourselves in, etc. I hope we can eventually all get outside our insular bubble before we lose ourselves or have the inability to grasp it again within reach.

Notes--Fox Searchlight site has a a lot of good info. about insight into the movie. I was also really glad that although the actors took a very strenuous approach for these roles, they were able to quickly get themselves to a healthier state. One thing Natalie did say in an interview which I do not think all actors do is that when she finishes a scene, she goes back to herself. I think this helped her not fall into an ED victim with extreme dieting and exercise.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My "lost" thoughts part 1

This week, there was quite a flurry over the new memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Yale law professor Amy Chua. I have not read this book yet but currently am on the reserve list at the library for it. This book has gotten controversial reviews and first received a lot of attention after her Wall Street Journal piece.

Chua has recently made the tv and radio rounds this week, including on the Diane Rehm show which was one of the first interviews I heard. Chua basically raised her two children similar to the traditional Asian style--strict. This style is all about success, especially academics. Other subjects may be emphasized like music, maybe a sport (think golf pro Michelle Wi), maybe chess (new chess prodigy Hou Yifan, the new women’s world chess champion, youngest ever for male or female), but the majority it is in some academic realm--think medicine, engineering, or business. Some say this is one reason why the Asian immigrants as a whole have been very successful here (America). Some have called them "the model citizens."

This made me think a lot about my own childhood, the idea of success, and what I feel now. Although my upbringing was not as strict as what is described in Chua's book--I had sleepovers, time spent with my friends, ability to choose different activities, no threatening of burning of stuffed animals or donating doll houses piece by piece to the salvation army if I didn't get a difficult subject perfect, (these are examples from the book that has gotten much attention from parents), etc., there was still an underlying expectation to succeed by my father (and myself). Growing up I could never figure out if this was just me and my personality (was I really this self-motivated?)or whether it was due to how my father always described Asians--as successful.

For much of my life, it was all about medicine. When as I like to say reality set in, and I realized I did not have the "great at math and science Asian gene" (insert sarcasm), I lost confidence in myself, became phobic of those subjects and never wanted to look at them again. Thus went all the pre-med stuff, and I leaned towards liberal arts. In the end, it was more satisfying, less stressful, and everything seemed okay for awhile.

This is when I got into dog training and found that I did enjoy this. But was it/is it something I can do forever? And this is where my "lost" thoughts come in. Sorry to leave everyone hanging, but I will write in more detail in my next post soon.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Body aches

Last fall, I wrote a post debating on whether to join a local running group around here. Ultimately, I decided no for a variety of reasons. In general, the past year, I have done zero running. Actually, I've done like zilcho strenuous exercise at all. It hasn't been all bad (though my bp was up at my last dr.'s appt--like the highest it's ever been.) but I've felt a bit of a nostalgic pull towards running again. So I decided with the new year beginning, this would be a good opportunity to start. Nothing major like when I was training for marathons a few years ago, but maybe in the half marathon training mileage range.

Last weekend, I took Tovah out with me to a local park/arboretum. This was only going to be a "let's see where Tiptoe is in fitness" type run. Seriously, no full out running, just simple jogging. Well, Tovah had her own agenda and went out faster than I wanted. Still, the run itself was not long at all; however, my body was a bit achy the next few days.

Part of the purpose of this run too was to see how my hip and back would fair. I haven't talked about my hip on here, but it has been bothering me for like a year maybe? (I know head in shame for waiting for so long) finally saw my doctor before Christmas to get a few referrals, including therapists as a "just in case"/keep in the back of my pocket list. My self-diagnosis which is sometimes right, sometimes wrong is bursitis.

My dr. referred me to a comprehensive chiropractor. Now, I'm not against chiropractor's, but it seems that people either love them or hate them. This clinic does include massage and physical therapy, so that could prove to be helpful. My biggest snag is finding a way to fit it into my work schedule without having to take sick leave. I've always tried hard to work any appointment around my work schedule, so sick leave could always be used for when I really needed it. So far, I am not having much luck, so I may have to try another route completely.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is about body aches. I'm only three decades old, and sometimes feel like my body is way older than it should be. But then again, it has endured more wear and tear than it should have too. So, essentially, this is when I and anyone else in this situation must proceed with caution.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The new year is upon us

Most years, New Year's eve is kind of lame for me. It's typically me, the dogs, a bottle of sparkling grape or apple juice, the tv on, trying to stay up to watch the ball drop. Many times I do not make it. I fall asleep about 5 minutes before the ball drops and wake up 5 minutes into the new year. This year, I really did want to make it to midnight and celebrate it in full fashion.

Instead of my usual solitude, New Year's eve was spent with my neighbor. Her adult boys were on a road trip to Chicago, so it was just her, her husband (absent most of the evening), me, her dog Syd, and Tovah. I made egg rolls, bought some cookies, and a bottle of wild berry spumante (yum!) for me since I typically do not drink. The evening was spent chatting, watching The Proposal, a nice light-hearted romantic comedy film with Sandra Bullock. It was between that and Precious which I felt was just "too heavy" for a New year's eve gathering. After that, we played Wii bowling. This was my first time playing any Wii game, and it was kind of fun. In th real world, I suck at bowling, but in the Wii virtual world, I was pretty darn good, getting 4 strikes, some spares, and winning. (not that that was important)

We turned the tv back on about 5 minutes before the ball dropped, and we all made it until midnight and toasted to a new year. It was a pleasant evening.

My neighbor also brought up some other heavy duty stuff. Awhile back, I posted about learning about my neighbor. She told me she got in touch with her insurance company, a psychiatrist (hasn't called back yet), and received the authorization to go into rehab to kick her alcohol problem. She feels like this is the only way she can get a grip on it. She wants to and knows she has to. She knows she is depressed, doesn't have much energy, appetite, and on a subconscious level, I think she realizes she is simply missing out on life.

The nice thing is that I do believe she has support from her family. I know her sons do put their feet down on some things, like buying her cigarettes. I'm not quite sure where everyone stands on the alcohol issue though. In any case, I hope she can make this year the year to get help with her alcohol, and in the process deal with other issues in her life.

As for me, I haven't thought heavily about 2011 yet. I do think I need to put some goals in place. I'm not floundering or anything, but there's been some "lost" feelings in there too. More on that in another post.

To end this positively, I do hope all of you have a wonderful, successful, happy year--a year with joy, peace, recovery, care, love, and the ability to heal.