Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day 2012

Winter Olympics.
Summer Olympics.
Presidential Elections.
Leap Day.
Gioachino Rossini's Birthday.

What do they all have in common?  And who is Gioachino Rossini?

I truly had no clue who this Rossini character is, but you have to 
check out Google's Doodle in celebration of his Leap Day birthday:
"Born on 29 February, 1792, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is hailed as his greatest
comic opera. The four frogs -- one at the piano, one as the soprano, a barber
and his customer -- are all playful nods at the characters from Rossini’s opera."

How did I celebrate Leap Day?  I really didn't do all that much out of the ordinary.  No frog jumps or leaps of any kind.  However... I did flip the day around on my students, who entered the classroom this morning only to find their agenda completely backwards, as well as a few other things!  Hey, we have to mix things up every once in a while, right?  What better day to do so than a day that only arrives once every four years!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Historic NEDA Week Event

Historic Event!!
On February 28th the Empire State Building
Lights the Way in the
Fight Against Eating Disorders.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Week 12: Meaningful People

There's been quite a lapse between week 11 and week 12 because I really didn't know who to write about, nor how to write about them in a way that would adhere to the anonymity of the blog-o-sphere.

A picture from one of our adventures, taken July 2010
Family aside, there are a few people that I can't imagine my life without.  My friend JC is one of those people.  JC and I met almost ten years ago, but I feel like I've known her my whole life.  JC taught me what true friendship is like, and our friendship means the world to me.  We both lead very separate and busy lives, but when we get together, it's as if no time has passed.  I'd drop anything on a moments notice to be there for her if she needed, and she's done the same for me.  JC makes my life a lot fuller, a lot brighter, and fills it with a lot more love. 

I've always wanted a big sister, and throughout life, I've met a few people who played that role nicely.  However, I've never met anyone like MJ before.  I may only privy to bits and pieces of her life, but from what she's shared, she has shown me that there is so much possibility in the world, that there is no reason to ever give up hope.  MJ has walked parts of my path, she's faced some of my biggest fears.  She is proof that life can begin at any age.  If it happened for her, it can happen for me.  If she lived through it, so too can I.  MJ may not be my big sister, (and no amount of wishing will change that,) but I am so grateful that she's guiding me on this leg of life adventures.  She gives me hope that I can one day find the same happiness that she worked to find and now enjoys.

Last, but far from least, is E.  I feel like I've been on a tumultuous life voyage that I didn't intend to sign up for.  I've gotten support for these life "adventures" from many along the way (professionals included,) but I've never, ever, ever, encountered anything like the support I get from E.  It's actually been unsettling for me to have someone who is unwaveringly there for me.  I'm no picnic to work with, (as many people have told me,) but E is different.  Doesn't matter what I bring to the table.  When we meet, E is always calm and steady and caring and clear and patient and is somehow able to help me get what I need, whether I'm willing to face it or not.  I don't quite know how to explain it, but somehow, as long as I have E in my corner, I know that I'll be able to make it through anything life throws at me.

I can count the number of special people in my life on only two hands (those mentioned here, along with JC, MJ, and E, as well as EH, L.)  It goes to show that strength doesn't necessarily come numbers.  Sometimes all it takes is a special few to make more difference than a room full of people.

"Most of us, swimming against the tides of trouble the world 
knows nothing about, need only a bit of praise or encouragement 
and we will make the goal." -- Jerome Fleishman

Everybody Knows Somebody

Today kicks off National Eating Disorder Awareness week.  
"Everybody Knows Somebody" is this year's theme.
It's unfortunately, probably very true.  
I bet everybody does know someone who struggles with an eating disorder.  

A few facts*:
February 26 - March 3 2012
  • Eating disorders are serious, but treatable, illnesses with medical and psychiatric aspects
  • Eating disorders can be life-threatening if not recognized and treated appropriately
  • Eating disorders affect both boys and girls, men and women, of all socioeconomic status
  • Contrary to popular belief, you can not tell if a person has an eating disorder based on their appearance
  • People with eating disorders do not choose to have one; it is not a way to seek attention, it is a serious medical and mental condition that needs professional attention
  • Only a small percentage of people with eating disorders are actually emaciated- again, reinforcing that you can not tell if someone has an eating disorder based on how they look
  • Complete recovery from an eating disorder IS possible!
*Facts courtesy of NEDA's toolkit

Eating disorders are serious stuff, but often the shame of having one prevents the person suffering from seeking much needed support.  If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, or even thinks they might have an eating disorder, there is hope.  There are resources available to you to get help, and yes, you can even remain anonymous if you need, though I promise you, carrying the secret alone is more painful than sharing it with someone who cares.

Resources and Tools:

There is hope.  It isn't an easy journey, that's for sure, but it is worth it, YOU are worth it!

Be kind, for everyone you meet 
is fighting a harder battle.
 -- Plato

Friday, February 24, 2012

Either? Or? Both?

Two weeks ago I found myself consumed by anger, something I generally try to, and have successfully been able to convince myself I was able to avoid.  Unfortunately, actually feeling anger is only delayable, not completely unavoidable.  And dealing with that anger?  Not avoidable at all, unless, of course, you want to spend your life feeling like you are going to burst at any moment.

Pretty rain chains at my favorite place to visit in LA.
Last week I wasn't feeling all that much anger, or so I thought.  Instead, it was replaced by sadness.  This week has been no different.  I feel full of this horrible melancholy that won't let up.  I feel like I'm being followed by a grey cloud of tears.  While I can occasionally escape the cloud by throwing myself into my work, or a project, or some other equally distracting activity, the cloud is always there as soon as I pause to breathe.

And that doesn't feel very good.  At all.

On the one hand, sadness seems to be more socially acceptable than anger.  Sadness is something that doesn't make my heart pound and my vision cloud over (though my vision is awfully blurry when the tears fall!)  Anger, on the other hand, makes my body feel like it's going to burst, literally.  I can't breathe, I can't focus, I can't concentrate.  Well, I guess the lack of focus and concentration are the same for sadness, too.

Los Angeles DOES get rain!
I've heard that it's possible to actually feel multiple emotions or feelings at the same time.  I just never thought that one could feel both sad and angry at the same time.  A part of me is quite angry about some of the things happening right now, but then sadness takes over, and buries the anger, which leaves me feeling even worse than when it was just straight-up anger.  Confused yet?  I am.

I know it doesn't have to be an either/or, but considering the fact that I don't know how to deal with either sadness or anger in a healthy way, yeah... no wonder I'm confused.  Now, dealing with confusion... That's probably a whole different skill set, right?!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Count on Me

I wasn't going to mention the loss of yet another great artist.  I generally try to avoid getting wrapped up in the celebrity gossip train, but I have a soft spot for Whitney Houston's music.  One of my favorite episodes of my favorite childhood show, Kids Incorporated, was an episode that included the song How Will I Know? (It's not the greatest quality, but here's a link to the song in the episode, which is still one of my favorites!)

This weekend I wandered down memory lane a little bit.  I weeded through many childhood pictures in preparation to make a photo montage for an upcoming family celebration.  There were a TON of pictures to go through, full of memories, some good, some not so good, but all reminders of what was, and what now is.

There's a saying I've learned that talks about "going to the hardware store for bread."   I recently had to undergo a simple medical procedure that required anesthesia, which meant I needed transportation.  So I asked my parents to help me out.  Pretty simple.  I do know that this kind of help is something they are not capable of easily providing, but I asked anyway because it was the simplest route.  Sometimes simple is NOT better.

I have some great friends in my life that I can count on to be there for me when I ask.  When I ask.  That's the problem.  I really struggle to ask.  Even when they offer, I still struggle to take them up on their offer.  This weekend was a reminder that I sometimes need to actually let people help when they offer, and ask for help if they don't.

While I wish I could count on my parents for the support that parents are theoretically supposed to provide for their children, I can't.  And that's a pretty painful conclusion to arrive at.  Especially considering I've been here before, but seem to enjoy going to that hardware store for bread, and beating my head against the wall after I remember that I wasn't going to shop there anymore.

While the medical procedure was easy, working on the photo montage has been anything but.  The aftermath of the whole experience with my parents has left me feeling vulnerable and sad, not to mention lonely.  I know that there are friends I can count on, and I know that reaching out will help.  I'm just not quite there yet.  So if you offer to help me and I say no,  I won't be offended if you offer again, a little more insistently, cause sometimes it takes me a while to realize I'm worth accepting the help.

I'll leave you with this video... and the reminder that sometimes it's ok to go to the hardware store, but don't plan on picking up a loaf of bread while you're there.

Count on Me by Whitney Houston featuring CeCe Winans

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The A word.

You know which one I'm talking about, right?  No, not that one.  The other one.  Yep.  That one.


I don't like anger.  I've been told it's a productive emotion, that it can actually be rather helpful, especially when it comes to taking your anger out productively, like, say, cleaning, for example.  (Not something I'm terribly fond of either.)  I have spent much of my life suppressing most of my feelings - good and bad.  Anger, though, has been stuffed down the most, and felt the least.  The way I dealt with anger was to take it out on myself.  Which is not all that great.  Definitely not healthy.  I get mad at someone else, for whatever reason, and I turn it inward, beating myself up instead, then they'll never know I was mad at them, right?

Or so I thought.

Turns out, that when anger isn't expressed properly, it seeps out through your pores, and explodes at very inconvenient times.  So not helpful.  Either that, or it causes some pretty uncomfortable inner turmoil, which isn't very helpful either.

I experienced some anger this past week.  I tried to stuff it down, but that didn't work.  I tried to take it out on myself in rather unhealthy ways, but that backfired too.  Turns out the only way I was able to work through this much-feared anger was to discuss it with those in which I was actually frustrated.  (Intentionally using the word "frustration" now instead of "anger")  And talking about being frustrated with someone else, actually having that conversation with them?  It was so freaking hard.  I thought I was going to explode, literally.  And I had to have this conversation twice, with two separate people, both of whom I have incredible respect for and care very much about.  And I exploded into tears both times.

My past experiences with speaking up when I felt frustrated have not been positive.  I'm usually blamed for feeling frustrated, told that it's my fault, and that I just have to deal with it.  Either that, or I've had to endure rather violent and unsettling explosions by the person I was frustrated with, which is a big reason I avoid confrontation at all possible costs.

This week, though, I was actually encouraged to express my frustration.  So I did.  I was utterly shocked at the response.  Both individuals were not phased by my frustration.  They took it.  They listened.  We talked through the situation.  All was cleared up.  And while I cried for what felt like hours, I didn't come against any explosions of any sort, nor was I blamed or told to deal with it.  I was utterly shocked, though I've known these two people long enough to know that I shouldn't have been shocked.  It just showed me how much I have to learn.  It's going to take a lot of these kinds of experiences, ones that have positive outcomes, to relearn that feelings, and talking about them - good and bad - is actually a healthy, positive thing.

I'm hoping that next time I am frustrated, I don't spin into that self-destructive space for as long.  Ultimately, I'm hoping to start skipping that whole self-destructive route in favor of the healthy conversation that has now had surprisingly positive results twice in one week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


The world is FULL of numbers.  I mean FULL.  There are numbers every where you look.  Numbers on the clock.  Numbers on the cable box.  The thermometer.  The train schedule.  The bus.  The grocery store.  Mail.  Books.  The phone.  Keyboards.  Your toothbrush.

Ev-re-where.  Everywhere!

So can anyone tell me why some numbers seem to have this eerie power over me more than others?

I never rarely cringe when I'm at the grocery store buying apples (though off season prices can be yikes!)  I like apples.  They're good for me.  So I buy them.  I grab a few (complete with the numbers on the bar code, and on the price tag) and toss them gently into my cart.  They're yummy.  Recipes are full of numbers, but those don't seem to stop me from eating.  Usually.

I sometimes cringe when I'm shopping in general, as sticker shock is pretty regular these days.  But I never rarely question prices when shopping.  I see what I need, I buy it.  Sometimes I even buy things just cause I want them.  I usually cringe when I get to the numbers at the gas station, but that's another story.  I score my students spelling tests and add a number to each one.  I attach numbers to math tests, to pages, to all sorts of things.  None of those numbers are any big deal, even though they are not taken lightly.

So why, why, does one specific number seem to throw a wrench into my whole world?  Why do I avoid that number like it's an infectious disease?  Why, when I saw that number for the first time in five months, did I have a complete internal meltdown?

If the world is full of numbers, why can I coexist peacefully with 99% of them, but one, little, three-digit number has the power to rock my world in all the wrong ways?

"Scales only have the power which we bestow upon them.
Imagine if I said my self-worth is determined by the toaster."
-- unknown

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Sometimes I think I'm stuck in the movie Groundhog's Day. You know, the one where Bill Murray has to repeat the same day over and over and over... Yeah. That one.

I know what I should be doing. But sometimes, I just don't want to do it.  Those are the days where I find myself stuck in an endless loop of bad decisions. Decisions that I know not to make. Decisions that I know better than to let myself make.

Some of the simplest decisions seem impossible to make when I get into this endless loop cycle. Decisions that really have been made for me, I just have to follow through on my part. But sometimes I don't. I just don't want to try that hard, and believe me, it's a lot of effort.

I was searching for some files on my computer, and stumbled across this, something I got many years ago. I hated it then, and didn't think much of it, cause I knew I was never going to read past chapter two.

The good news? While things are really quite tough right now, and I'm having a hard time with a lot of things... I'm almost to chapter three.

There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: 
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters 
By Portia Nelson

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost . . . I am helpless
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in . . . it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.