Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Healing and Consolation

Some Thoughts for Today

Affirmations for Healing and Comfort

My family was very lucky and the Hurricane passed without incident. After watching the news I soon learned that not at all people were as lucky as I. I am happy to say that I have power and am online and ready to write. My thoughts today go out out to those who need special healing and comfort due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy. At the same time we all are in need in of healing and consolation at some point in our lives. Some of us are more sensitive than others and require comforting words more often. Some of us live lives that are more volatile or put at risk for hurt or pain and therefore we are in need of consoling more frequently. Some of us are chronically ill or have loved ones who are sick and therefore we are in need of healing- physically and emotionally. While others of us have stronger dispositions, life situations that make us less vulnerable, or have been blessed enough not to be stricken by illness and therefore don't find ourselves needing healing or comfort as often as others. But no one exists in perfect world. None of us are immune to hurt or sickness. There comes a time when we all need healing and comfort. The source of these can come in a 
Milly brings me comfort !
variety of forms- prayer, friends, songs, pets, family, a warm bath, a certain movie- but all work their magic in special way to help us through difficult times. Today I'd like to offer another source of healing and comfort, affirmations, in the hopes that they will help us in dealing with whatever hardship we are currently struggling with at the moment. The first two affirmations I would like to share with you pertain to healing and can be applied to the body, mind, and soul-

I give myself all the healing thoughts I deserve.

With every breath I intake the healing powers of the universe and bring more and more well-being into my life.

I chose these two affirmations because they reflect very different positions. The first recognizes that ourselves and our thoughts can be sources of healing. The second acknowledges the healing powers that surround us within the universe. Separately both sources have the ability to guide us toward health and well-being. But perhaps the sources are infinitely more powerful if we are able to combine them. For example consider this hybrid affirmation-

I am able to strengthen my health and well-being by giving myself healing thoughts and embracing the healing powers of the universe that I am deserving of.

The more resources we take advantage of the better off we will be. Take advantage of your own abilities but don't neglect the resources that the universe has to offer- sunshine, family, positive energy- that can help you to heal.

The next affirmation relates to consolation and comfort through words of compassion and understanding-

Everyone in the world, myself included, is deserving of compassion and understanding.

This affirmation closely ties to the first healing affirmation that mentions being deserving of our own healing thoughts. I chose both in order to convey a very specific and important message: We are deserving. We deserve love, compassion, healing, and understanding both from ourselves as well as others. I often feel as if I don't deserve these things. I am not worthy. I am at fault. I am capable of giving love and comfort to others yet am so incapable of accepting it. I feel as if many of us struggle with embracing kindness and consolation when it is offered to me. But we deserve it as much as anyone else does. We deserve to receive love and comfort from others. But more importantly we are worthy of receiving this same love from ourselves. Today accept the help and kindness that people in your life are trying to offer you. But remember the power to heal and be comforted lies within you as well. If you cannot accept what others attempt to share with you their efforts are futile. You must be a willing recipient in order to receive. Look around you but look inside yourself as well. Let yourself be comforted, embrace the compassion that others show you, let yourself heal.

Remember you are deserving, you are worthy, your are lovable,

Any heart can be mended or healed-

Monday, October 29, 2012

No Place Like Home for the Hurricane

Sandy is Approaching

A Precautionary Farewell

Ready or not here comes Hurricane Sandy!
My parents have insisted that I stay at home with them as Sandy is approaching. I do have some work to do and it will be nice to be in the comfort of my own home during the storm although a huge part of me wishes I were on campus. I am sure everyone is appreciating our class cancellations and enjoying the time off in a very traditional college way- drinking, hanging out with friends, eating, and have fun- but I suppose there are much worse places to be than home with my parents. With the expectation that I will be losing power some time in the near future and will be unable to post I wanted to provide you all with a precautionary farewell. But do not fear I will be returning as soon as the storm passes and the electric companies get around to enabling every one's power again. I, for one, am not afraid about the coming hurricane however I know many people do get nervous when expecting bad weather. With this thought in mind I would like to present us with an affirmation to help us bolster or confidence, instill us with strength, and enable us to conquer our fears.

I am strong enough to overcome any fear in my life.

We all have fears-
Your fears may be rational or irrational. They may be overpowering or very dim. You may face them every day of your life or only once in a while. But no matter what your fear is- Hurricane Sandy, spiders, gaining weight, death, child birth, another person, a specific food- you are strong enough to look it in the face and say "Screw you!" "I can face you and beat you!" "You do not control me." We are strong individuals and expressing our fears is not a sign of weakness or disability. Everyone on this earth is afraid of something whether they admit it or not. The weak are those that bow down to their fears and allow them to impact the way they live their lives. But we are the strong people who know that admitting our fears does not make us weak. We are the empowered individuals who are willing to recognize our fears and stand up to them. We can be afraid but we can be strong and not allow any fears to interfere in our lives. Stand up to the bully at your school. Eat a food that makes you uncomfortable. Squash a spider with you bare hand.
Do yourself a favor and stay inside !
Prepare yourself and your house for the coming storm and stand strong. It's ok if you cover your ears during the thunder and shut your eyes when lightning strikes but don't mistake your fear for weakness. Our fears are warranted no matter what anyone may tell you. Fear is a personal feeling that you are entitled to have and feel. We all feel differently, we all fear differently, and therefore although our feelings may be different it does not make them wrong. Do not let anyone minimize your feelings or your fears. We may be afraid but we can and will stand up in the face of our fears, no matter what they are, and reaffirm that we are strong, capable individuals who can conquer our fears and so much more. Please stay safe if your area is being hit by the storm. I am encouraging you to face your fears but don't be stupid- stay inside! (This is not the time to go dancing in the rain!)

Farewell for now friends,

Haunting Memories

Acknowledge the Past While Embracing the Present

Learning to Cope and Continuing to Live

To some degree I am always struggling with demons of my past and painful memories. However recently these haunting memories have been exceptionally prominent and I am having difficulty allowing myself to acknowledge them while still managing to embrace the present and look toward the future. It seems as if one period- past, present, or future- always seems to overwhelm my mind and prevents me from looking at the entire picture. The haunting memories and feelings that plague me include loss of people, loss of time and experiences, traumatic experiences from treatment, a nagging nostalgia with respect to earlier times in my life, and regret for what might have been had I done things differently. 
Memories can't be simply erased-
Most recently it is one specific memory that continues to haunt me day and night. However the feelings of sadness and mourning that accompany this memory become extremely strong at night. My mind keeps turning to the death of a friend that occurred about 6 months ago. She was only 2 years older than me and she died in her sleep due to complications from her long term battle with anorexia nervosa. She was a kind, funny, and genuine person and the world and others would have benefited immensely if she had continued to live. I know that I was deeply touched and impacted by her. I can only imagine how much good, love, light, and life she could have brought to others. I strongly believe that it was not her time to go and get angry at G-d and the world when I think about her death. No one my age should be forced to deal with such a huge a loss but more importantly it is not fair that someone as young as she should have died in her sleep. Something should have been done. G-d should have stepped in and found a way to protect or save her. Maybe in some cruel way her death has helped other people by providing insight about the danger of eating disorders. Hopefully the tragedy has inspired other women who struggle to seek help or take action in helping themselves. I hope that the death of this one, beautiful girl has somehow saved the lives of many others but I can't be sure that this is true. 
National Eating Disorder Awareness
Her death has permanently changed me. It has altered my perspective regarding friendships, priorities, and the value of human life. No matter our age, gender, socioeconomic status, or race we are not invincible. We are all at risk every day. It is scary to think in this way but it is the truth. Because I know from experience that death is unpredictable I have started to refuse to let petty fights or situations bother me. I see no point in sustaining arguments with friends and loved ones if we truly care for them. The question I ask myself is: "Would I be saddened if this person suddenly became ill or died?" The answer is almost always "yes" and therefore I attempt to maintain my relationships and am almost always willing to forgive. My friend's death has shifted my personal priorities and I have turned my focus to finding happiness in my life. There is no point in living a life of misery or unhappiness. I truly believe that we have been put on this earth to find what makes us happy, no matter what it is, and pursue it. Money, beauty, thinness, popularity, success, material possessions, nothing matters if you are unhappy deep down. I have dreamt of and pursued many things that I thought would bring me happiness. But at the end of the day when I was at my thinnest I was also my most miserable. I have come home after a night out and thrown my Chanel bag on the floor, kicked off my Prada sandals, removed my Hermes bracelets, and sobbed the most painful sobs you can imagine. These material possessions did not protect me from feeling and expressing pain. I have learned a lot from my friend's death and I am thankful for these lessons but the memory of her continues to follow me even months after the fact. I have been obsessing over it. Rewatching the memorial video in her honor over and over again. Replaying situations I had with her repeatedly in my mind. (The time she cleaned up an Ensure I threw across the table. Laughing and bitching in the smoke shack during treatment. The night she painted my nails with little polka-dots during "Pamper Yourself" evening group.) I think of her and smile and then I cry. Sad thoughts regarding the loss continue to ruminate in my head. 
How can I pay honor to her and acknowledge her memory while embracing the future? How can I learn to cope and continue living my life? I find it hard not only because I miss her and am in disbelief that she is no longer on this earth but because the way her death has affected me plays a role in my interactions every day. I have a hard time having fun with peers and feeling as if I am understood because I have seen and been through things that they can't even imagine. I don't feel better than them for what I have seen and know. And I don't wish the memories that I possess upon anyone. But it is hard to relate to other people when I have seen what I have seen, experienced what I have experienced, and lost what I have lost. I have seen my adult friend basically bed ridden at around 80 lbs. I have had an ng tube forced up my nose. I have lost my college years, closeness with friends, and two friends to death. I have been through more things than I care to remember and I will spare you all the details. I know everyone in life has their own shit that they have to deal with but I can't help but envy my friends that have seemingly more normal lives than I do. I am sure they have problems and painful memories that are specific to them. And I am positive that you also have concerns and experiences from your past that haunt you on a day-to-day basis. We all have something but we need to learn to cope and continue living or else our time here is wasted. I have two quotes to share with you this morning pertaining to both memories as well as the past and continuing to live-
The first quote I'd like to introduce pertains to memory, its meaning, and its importance-

"Memory is a way of holding onto things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."

- From The Wonder Years (1988-1993)

I chose this quote because it helps explain why we continue to carry around memories and experiences even though they are sometimes painful. My mind holds onto my friend and her death because I love her deeply and although she is physically gone she can stay alive in my memory. I can hear her voice in my mind. I can recall things she has said that made me laugh and a smile will come to my face. I can honor her by keeping her in my memory. And perhaps I feel that if I continue to hold onto her and that she continues to serve a purpose in my life as well as others than she did not die in vain. This quote also helps to uncover the reasons why I refuse to forget or let go of my experiences from treatment. I remember the good experiences- friends, therapists, support, laughter- and I remember the bad times- challenging meals, the pain of refeeding, the fear, the anguish, the discomfort of a feeding tube, the lack of control- because collectively the good and bad experiences have helped to make me who I am. They have helped me to create an identity, to formulate my opinions and personal outlook, to realize how strong I can be when faced with adversity. At the same time I don't want to lose these treatment memories because they evoke feelings of safety and of being cared for. These memories are the only connection I have to many good friends whom I may never see again. And they give me a sense of where I have been, how far I have come, and where I could end up again if I am not careful. Our memories can haunt us but we hold onto them for a reason. We don't forget because remembering serves a purpose for us. Our memories help to define us, allow us to relive pleasurable experiences, enable people's spirit to live on within us even after they have died, and contribute to who we are and how we behave in the present. The tricky thing is learning to acknowledge these memories without allowing them to hold us back or prevent us from living in the present and seeing the possibilities that the future holds. This sentiment helps lead me into my next quote which focuses on our past and our desires to escape it-

"The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what bad is in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it."

- Wendell Berry

Berry's words offer a valuable piece of advice. No matter how hard I try to forget or escape my past I cannot undo what has already been done. What has happened in our lives sticks with us despite lengths we may go to try and erase it. Like a scar our past leaves a mark. It reminds us where we have been and what happened to us. However, although we cannot truly escape our past we have the ability to show it who is in control. We have the power to tell it that it will not stop us from moving forward and living. This control lies in our power to create new memories, have new experiences, and add positively to our lives. In doing so we can acknowledge that the past exists and even hold on to aspects of it they we are not willing to let go but we are learning to cope and continuing to live. There is no way of erasing the past and I don't believe there is even truly a way of escaping it but we can make it less prominent by building new experiences in our present and future. Before I sign off I would just like to add one more thing and link these two quotes together. While memories having meaning and serve a useful purpose so does our past. The past and memory are closely linked. Our memories and past help to mold us, create who we are, influence our world view, and prepare us for things to come now and in the distant future. We can hold onto our memories and our past but neither need to define us or dictate the way in which we lives our lives. By learning to cope with the pain of haunting memories and our past experiences we allow ourselves to move forward and make room for great things to come!

Remember to embrace the present and continue to look toward the future,

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Clear Your Mind

Thoughts for this Evening

An Affirmation for Inner-Peace

Time for these thoughts to evaporate-
My mind has been full of painful memories and upsetting thoughts the last few nights. No matter how hard I try I can't seem to get these negative ideas and experiences out of the forefront of my mind. All I want is to clear my mind and find a sense of inner-peace so that I am able to relax and get a goodnight rest this evening. I don't want my dreams to be haunted by the pain and sadness that I am currently experiencing. I don't know why I am feeling this way or why my mind is suddenly filled with memories and notions that I'd rather not be thinking about. However every so often I begin to feel this way with out explanation or warning. Tonight I am asking G-d and hoping that I am able to find peace within myself, rid my mind of the bad emotions and thoughts, and enjoy a calm and uninterrupted sleep. In order to help me in my goal I am going to reflect upon the following affirmation that highlights peace and comfort-

I am filled with a peaceful spirit that welcomes a sleep that is filled with pleasant and comforting dreams.

This evening I am hoping that the negative and painful thoughts will evaporate from my mind. Instead a sense of peace will grant me a relaxing sleep. My sleep will bring positive dreams that will replace the negative thoughts I am currently dealing with. I shut my eyes as I rock back and forth in my family's rocking chair. I shut my eyes and do my best to clear my mind. I see nothing, I hear nothing but the sound of my own soothing breaths, and let a sense of peace wash over me. I am willing to let go of my current thoughts that bring me pain. I am choosing to embrace feelings of joy, prosperity, and relaxation. These feelings help me to recognize the positive aspects of my life. I can choose to concentrate on these good thoughts rather than focus on any memories or ideas that bring me discomfort and pain. Tonight I can breathe, I can relax, I can feel good, and I can enjoy a sense of inner-peace. Discovering this peace will allow us to enjoy a comforting, refreshing, and pleasant sleep. Peace exists all around us and it is in our power to allow this peaceful spirit to enter and fill us. As we find peace our minds are able to clear any negative thoughts and we can shut our eyes with the knowledge that G-d will grant us a beautiful sleep and protect us while we rest.

I pray that we all find peace this evening and are able to enjoy the blessing that is sleep,

Friday, October 26, 2012

Simply Happy

Life is Good

An Affirmation for Happiness

Today I am pleased to say that I feel at peace and simply happy. It just an ordinary Friday and have nothing especially exciting on my schedule but I am unexplainably content and I see no need to question it or attempt to analyze it. I was able to sleep a bit later than usual today but am still somehow well on course to complete the work I had planned for today. I met a friend earlier to do work and enjoyed chatting with her, catching up, and simply spending time with someone I enjoy being with. I  unexpectedly ran into another friend who I hadn't seen in a while and was happy to catch up with her a bit and plan to see each other again in the near future. I indulged in one of my favorite simple pleasures- choosing a new day planner and purchasing holiday cards- as I rev up for the not so distant Christmas season (my absolute favorite time of year) and the new year which will be here sooner than we know it. 
Get excited ! Christmas is coming !
To me nothing is worse or more irritating than having the year change without being equipped with a new day planner. (My day planner is my life in paper form and I never go anywhere without. Therefore finding the perfect new one brings me an unprecedented amount of joy...) As I write this post I am sitting in Starbucks sipping my favorite coffee, relishing in the fact that I am on top of my work, and feeling simply happy and that life is good. Seeing as I frequently share my personal struggles or disappointments with you I felt it was only fair and fitting that I share my positive feelings and energy with you as well. Today I am offering you an affirmation for happiness in the hope that I can spread the joy and that my positivity and contentment can virtually rub off you via this entry-

I feel happy and relaxed as I go about my day.

Don't devalue the concept of simplicity and of being simply happy-
This affirmation is simple and straightforward but it includes everything I would like to convey in this entry. Today I can honestly say that I feel as if I am already embodying this affirmation. Some days this affirmation may seem challenging. It may seem unfathomable to you at this very moment or perhaps like me you are already feeling content and at peace today. Regardless of how you may feel at this moment I believe that this affirmation can prove to be beneficial. If you are simply happy today use this affirmation to support this feeling and recommit yourself to it if it begins to waver later in the day. If you feeling low or having a less than ideal day try to use this affirmation to build yourself up and raise your spirits. Replay the line in your head, say it out loud, repeat it as many times as you need. Remain open minded and hopefully the more you hear the message the more it will sink in the more able you will be to believe it. As we go about the daily tasks of our day- work, class, assignments, engagements with friends, conversations with peers and family- allow yourself to continue to feel "happy and relaxed." Right now I consider myself lucky because I am already experiencing both of these emotions. However if either begin to waver as my day progresses I know I can turn to this affirmation and attempt to rekindle these positive feelings. Today I am simply happy because I am able to look around and both see as well as believe that not only is life good but my life is good. Despite the challenges I have faced, misfortunes I have experienced, and losses I have endured I can still feel happiness and if I can be simply happy than I see no reason to complain (at least not today...)

Enjoy your life and claim your happiness,

Simple concept, simple action, simple happiness-

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Working Out

Life is Manageable

 Affirmations for Control and Confidence

Nope, not this kind of working out-
Today when I talk about working out I don't mean busting your butt at the gym, or powering through a long distance run, I mean having faith that things in your life will work out. (This is the only working out I am involved in considering I haven't put on running sneakers or gym clothes in over a year.) Recently things have seemed to be going my way and my life finally feels manageable. Over the past month it was constantly getting sick or having emotional meltdowns and subsequently missed a lot of class and got very behind on my work in one class specifically. I was stressed out about being able to complete the work and anxious that my grade would suffer due to my absences and late assignments. But thankfully someone or something was watching over me and I was blessed with a teacher who completely understood what I was going through. She granted me extensions on my assignments and told me not to be concerned about my absences. She expressed that she had been a similar situation herself and did not want to do anything to make it worse for me. I was given the time to complete the work to a standard that I was proud of and I was thankful for both the extension as well as this teacher who helped me by expressing a sense of understanding and compassion. When I returned from break I found myself behind again in the same class. Because I had been able to put off my earlier assignments and turn them in it a later date my progress on the work due this week was not up to speed. Luckily I caught another break but this time it was not unique to me. This same teacher had offered an extension to the entire class because we were all behind and feeling unable to turn it on the previously assigned date. Without asking for special treatment again the situation seemed to work itself out. Because of these two extensions I am beginning to feel that my life is manageable and I finally have a handle on my assignments and feel able to complete them. When I was sick and saw myself getting behind I felt overwhelmed and as if I would never be able to catch. This morning I am feeling thankful that life appears to be working out for me at the moment. And I feel in control regarding not just school work but many other elements of my life: family relations, mental well-being, creating "me time," and my social life, as well as work and school. Today I want to provide us with two affirmations that work together to instill us with a sense of control and confidence-

I am in control of the way I approach and handle my life.

I am completely confident in my ability to manage whatever situation comes my way.

I know it can be difficult to focus on two affirmations at once but I thought it was necessary this morning in order to fully encompass the themes that this entry touches upon. If you are having difficulty focusing on both choose just one for today. Or try combining them into a single affirmation that best applies to you and your life. For example:

I am confident that I can control the way I approach and manage situations in my life.

We will be ok !
I am hoping that by using and embodying these affirmations that we can recognize that our lives are manageable, we have the power to decide how we look at our lives, we are in control of the way we handle situations and tasks, and things will work out. We will be ok! I was lucky enough to have another person in my life help me by providing assignment extensions and comfort during a time when I was unable to perform at my usual level. She was the factor in my life that allowed things to work out. Although this compassionate teacher is most definitely an exception and not the rule my interaction with her did reassure me that kind, understanding people are out there. Her flexibility and willingness to accommodate me renewed my faith in the belief that things in life will work out if we take action and express our needs. We don't have control over whether or not things will work out for us but if we reach out and explain our situations people will be more willing to help us creates lives that are manageable for us. Because I was proactive and took control of the seemingly unmanageable situation by telling my teacher about my struggles this semester, both with illness as well as my eating disorder, she was able to respond and offer guidance. We have control over how we deal with problems and events in our life. If we use this control and act accordingly things are more likely to work out for us and consequently we can be confident in know that life is manageable.

Use your control and confidence to better manage your life,

The PERFECT quote to accompany this entry-

We Can Work It Out, The Beatles

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Love Is All You Need

Remembering Those Who Have Never Forgotten You

Recognizing and Appreciating Your Loved Ones

Hello Fall !
This past weekend has been a learning experience for me. It was my Fall break so I had the opportunity to spend time at home with my family as well as an old friend who I hadn't seen in a while. I have come to realize that we must never forget those who love us and care about our well-being. I have spent a lot of time on this blog (probably too much time) discussing the encounter with my friend. Thankfully we have been able to talk about everything a little more and at the end of the day I am happy that I had the opportunity to see her and even grateful for the resulting confrontation. It reminded me of times when she and other friends dedicated a great deal of time to helping me, visiting me in treatment, and even putting me above themselves in certain situations. They showed great love for me and although we have not spoken in a while it was unfair for me to forget the kind actions, loyalty, and mostly importantly love they have showed for me in the past. 
Love Actually (2003)
Similarly this weekend enabled me to remember the unconditional love that my family has always expressed to me both in their words as well as their actions. I was lucky enough to spend true quality time with my parents as well as my aunt, uncle, and cousin this weekend and it served as a reminder that I must always remember those who have never forgotten me. I feel as if too often I get caught up in my own life here at school that I fail to recognize and show appreciation for these people who only want the best for me and will do anything in their power to help me. It is unfair for me to forget about those who have never forgotten me. My parents would go to any length to make sure I am happy and healthy- visiting me at school whenever they can, providing with money for meals, calling to check in, and listening to me when I need a sympathetic ear. My aunt, uncle, and cousin even made the drive up to Boston last winter when I was in treatment just to see me even though I was unable to leave the unit. They travelled a total of over 12 hours to see me for only a total of 6 hours during visiting hours. They would do anything to see me, protect me, and most of all show me how much I am loved. The past few days have been full of negative situations and personal anguish. I spent so much time focusing on the bad in my life that I failed to recognize all the positives, the loved ones that surrounded me, and the overused notion that love is all you need. Well this statement can be easily refuted I believe it does carry some truth. If we can appreciate and recognize the love that surrounds us, the people who care about us no matter what, and always remember those who have never forgotten us than maybe the negatives will begin to fade. They will never disappear but perhaps they can seem less important. Lets allow the love to outweigh the hatred or negativity. By concentrating on this love maybe we can begin to believe that love is all we need in order to find happiness and meaning in our lives. Again today I had a difficult time choosing just one quote that reflects the point and theme I am trying to communicate so I have chosen many. Bear with me as I offer you numerous quotes that help express the statement I am trying to support: Love is all you need.

These first two quotes attempt to define love and I think together they form a relatively accurate and all encompassing definition-

"Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."

- Robert Heinlein

"Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit."

- Peter Ustinov

Also from the movie, Love Actually
I think in my personal case both of these definitions more than apply. My family merely wants me to be happy and healthy and if I am neither than they are unable to be so. I believe that the second quote applies to me and my life although my family may disagree. I feel as if I have constantly been letting them down, burdening them, and forcing them to think and act in certain ways that they wouldn't have ordinarily. I hate that my illness and unfortunate situations have impacted them and the way they live their lives. But despite everything I have done they love me none the less. They always forgive me for my mistakes or disappointments. They may become angry or frustrated with me but their love never wavers. They will often not even admit that my actions require an apology or need for forgiveness (although I find myself apologizing none the less.) I consider their love for me as Ustinov says "act[s] of endless forgiveness..." I am thankful for this love, this forgiveness that has become natural, and their willingness to care about me despite my faults.
The next quote I wish to share with you discusses the healing power of love, an element that I wish to pay a bit of attention to-

The healing power of love-

"Love cures people- both the ones who give it and the ones who receive it."

- Karl Menninger

I can say that this quote rung true for me this weekend. Being surrounded by my loved ones allowed me to see the positives in my life and helped me to get through a difficult situation. Loving words, a kind gesture, a huge hug is able to warm our hearts and helps us to realize that life is worth while even when bad things may be going on around us. Likewise the act of loving another person or thing grants a with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Love is all you need is a bold statement but it speaks to the power of love and its ability to impact humanity. When we feel loved by another human or even a pet we are able to put aside sadness or anger we may be feeling. Love is a strong emotion (maybe the strongest of all emotions) and experiencing it allows other less powerful emotions to dissipate or at least fade away momentarily. 
The final quote I have chosen to share you with is straight forward and directly supports the point I have been attempting to make over the course of this lengthy post. Perhaps I should have said it at the beginning and saved you all some reading because it truly says it all-

"Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that."

- Michael Leunig

Lets try to do as Leunig suggests. Lets love and allow ourselves to be loved. If we do this than happiness will follow. I will try my best to focus on the love in my life rather than focus on any negativity that I may encounter. In doing so perhaps I will come to believe that love is all I need in order to find happiness in my life.

Love and be loved,

Monday, October 22, 2012

What is the Honesty Policy?

Saying What We Mean and Meaning What We Say

When Is it Better to Just Shut Up?

"Honesty is icy."
My brunch yesterday went rather well. I was able to tap into my inner strength that I discussed at length in my previous entry, Strong Man Competition, and went into the get together feeling confident about myself and about my life. I wanted to portray an image of feeling good and being well in the hopes of rekindling the friendship and showing my friend that I am a stronger and different person than I have been in the past. I left the brunch feeling great about how it went. I thought that I came across as the strong, responsible, and confident person than I am gradually becoming. I believed that we could move forward with our friendship and that hopefully my friend realized that I was no longer the needy, sick, and dependent friend that I once was. I didn't think much about the brunch after that until I received a message from my friend regarding my post from yesterday. She had taken the time to search for and read my blog and was angry and offended regarding a great deal of the things I had said. I understand why she may have felt that way but bashing her our undermining her abilities as a friend was certainly not my intent. As children we are always taught that honesty is the best policy but I am beginning to think that maybe as we grow older the rules change. Now that I am an adult what is the honesty policy? In treatment I was told to express my feelings and emotions because burying them would only lead to further issues later on. I have worked for years honing this skill, becoming comfortable with my emotions, and learning how to share them with the people in my life. This method works in treatment and therapy but perhaps it is not appropriate in the "real world." 

I like to think that I say what I mean and mean what I say but maybe now I need to learn when it is better to just shut up. I am very confused. I spent years of my life keeping my thoughts and opinions hidden and it resulted in resentment, frustration, and an eating disorder. I used my anorexia to cope with the feelings that I felt I couldn't express and used starvation as a means of numbing out so that I no longer had to deal with painful emotions that I felt I was unable to share. But now I am not really sure what to do. It seems as if expressing my thoughts and sharing my feelings will land me in just as much trouble of a different kind. Am I supposed to stop being honest for fear that someone is not going to like what I have to say? Is saying what I mean and meaning what I say worth the negative consequences? Should I just return to my previous practice of keeping my mouth shut and hope that it doesn't yield the same unfortunate results that it did in the past? I really have no answers to any of these questions. I feel confused. I feel as if I have been fed contradictory advice over the course of my life. As children we are told that honesty is the best policy. In treatment I was advised that my eating disorder was a manifestation of many years of keeping my thoughts and emotions inside. And now that I am back in the real world, as an adult my honesty as resulted in the loss of many friends. I feel better when I express what is on my mind and do not allow negative emotions and feelings to mount up inside of me. But is saying what I mean and meaning what I say worth the negative repercussions? Because I don't seem to have any answers this afternoon and just continue to throw out a never ending list of questions I am going to turn to one of my favorite tools, quotations of course, in the hopes of figuring out this dilemma and discover what the honesty policy is.
I have numerous quotes for us to ponder today and hopefully we will be able to resolve this dilemma either in one of them or in the collective power of all of them. The first is quote about the honesty of children-

A lesson in truth telling-
"Pretty much all the honest truth telling in the world is done by children."

- Oliver Wendell

I believe that this quote is quite accurate. Children rarely feel badly or uncertain about telling you what's truly on their mind. They will you tell if they love you, they'll tell you if you're fat, they'll compliment you with great sincerity, they'll point out a big pimple on your face and sometimes their words hurt. But no matter what they say for the most we can believe them and perhaps this is because they are constantly being told that honesty is the best policy. But as we grow older this rule seems to change or disappear and we become well acquainted with the art of lying. The next grouping of quotes relates lying and fear-

"I never lie because I don't fear anyone. You only lie when you're afraid."

- John Gotti

"We tell lies when we are afraid...afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger."

- Tad Williams

There seems to be truth in both of these quotes. I have lied in the past because I have been afraid of what the truth will bring. Lies can hide our true personalities and protect us from those who may dislike who we are when we are being true to ourselves. Lies can cover up mistakes we have made and allows us to avoid condemnation for our errors. Not sharing how we feel seems to be the greatest lie that I am struggling with at the moment. By not expressing my emotions I am in essence lying by avoiding the truth. These lies have saved me from the negative reactions others may have if I were to share my true feelings. I was afraid of losing friends or having people become angry with me. Now that I have expressed the truth my fear has become a reality and it is forcing me to question whether or not honesty and self-expression is worth it. The next quote speaks directly to the situation I communicated earlier in this entry-

"If we were all given by magic the power to read each other's thoughts, I suppose the first effect would be to dissolve all friendships."

- Bertrand Russel

This quote is clearly beyond appropriate for my current situation. I shared the truth, my thoughts and feelings and the result was a dissolution of a friendship. This quote leads me to another thought: maybe it is best to not always tell the truth with friends. Perhaps the honesty policy excludes being honest when it may hurt people or if the truth will only result in larger issues. I can grasp this notion but I don't like it. I don't want to spend my days walking on tip toe, wondering what I can and cannot say, and holding on to things and emotions that bother me. I guess if I am so dedicated to truth telling I am going to have accept its consequences: loss of friends, confrontations, and misunderstandings. I am really not sure what is more important to me at this moment. Do I value honesty more than I value the lifelong friendships I have created? Are there people out there who are willing to accept what I have to say and are capable of recognizing that I must express my feelings honestly as a means of avoiding other negative repercussions? 

These questions lead into my final quote for this entry-

"Respect for the truth is an acquired taste."

- Mark Van Doren 

Not all people can handle the truth I suppose. And not everyone has been conditioned to express their true emotions. I have had experiences that I have taught me that in order to stay well and avoid relapse I must share what is on my mind. However I can admit that just because I am able to dish out the truth does not mean that I am always the best at accepting it when it is dealt to me. I have come to realize that honesty is not always the best policy but I have been unsuccessful in answering my initial question: What is the honesty policy? Perhaps this is a question and an idea that I need to ponder on my own for a little bit. These quotes have helped in enlightening me but they failed to answer all my questions. The truth is complicated but people's reactions when hearing the truth are even more complex and unpredictable. I know that I will continue to express my emotions and thoughts using this blog, my journal, and in face to face interactions because it makes me feel better. It lightens my load. I don't feel burdened by uncomfortable feelings and angry thoughts that would otherwise build up inside of me. But maybe this sad situation with my friend serves a good lesson in precaution. Just because I am expressing myself does not mean that everyone wants to hear it and perhaps some things are better left unsaid. It doesn't mean I need to shut up in all scenarios but maybe there is a more appropriate forum for sharing certain feelings and beliefs.

Most importantly be honest with yourself even if you can't be with others,

Maybe this is a time when the new and revised honesty policy is more appropriate?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Strong Man Competition

Finding and Using Your Inner Strength

An Affirmation and Quote to Help Handle the Big Days

I most definitely have a big day ahead of me. I am getting brunch with a friend who I haven't seen in about a year and I have a large assignment due by midnight tonight. I am not so concerned about the assignment. I have already put a lot of time into it and I never worry about getting my work done. I am a dedicated student and know that I have what it takes to tackle my work even if stress and anxiety ensue during the process. I am more focused on finding my inner strength and then proceeding to use it when spending time with my friend this afternoon. I am seeing a high school friend who I have not had a lot of contact with over the course of the past few years. Most of my high school friends kind of disappeared and were not supportive during my continuous struggles, rounds of treatment, and repetitive relapses. It seemed as if they gave up on me, no longer wishing to deal with the burden that came with the friendship they pretty much left me during my times of need. I have no patience for fair weather friends. We have been friends since childhood. We have had some fabulous and fun times together. You'd think there would be some degree of loyalty and compassion that comes with over a decade of friendship. However we can't put too much faith in other people. Not everyone handles situations and friendships the same way that we may. But I am giving it another go (and perhaps that is an error in judgment...only time will tell) and I reached out to my friend in spite of the issues we have had in the past. I have been thinking about this brunch for a few days now. Last night I was so overcome with nervous energy that I had a difficult time falling asleep. 
Brunch time !
When I see her I want to prove that I am getting along fine, I am pursuing my dreams, I am meeting new friends and building a new life, and I have remained strong despite her lack of support. The thought of seeing her brings butterflies to my stomach. But the thought of ensuring that I come of as a strong, put together person who has their life in order makes me even more nervous. I am worried that I am not all of these things I wish to portray and that she will see right through my act. It is time for me to tap into my inner strength. I have already done so a little bit by initiating the get together. But I must utilize even more upon seeing her in order to believe that I am strong, that I am in control, and that I have a life that is slowly moving in the right direction. If I can use my inner strength in order to believe these things than I can call upon it once again in pursuit of showing this friend that I am moving forward with my life although she and my other friends chose to abandon me. This brunch is a huge step for me. I am facing an individual that was once a dear friend and who let me down. I am taking on the task of proving to her and myself that I am more than ok. This is an important brunch, a crucial encounter, maybe even a turning point for me and our friendship. This brunch, more so than the assignment I have due this evening, is characterizing today as a big day and I need to use every ounce of my inner strength to tackle it. This morning I would like to look at an affirmation and a quote in order to help us find and use our inner strength in order to handle the big days. 
First I will present you with an affirmation regarding strength and confidence-

Acknowledging my strengths gives me the confidence to overcome any situation and challenges that I am presented with.

Time to believe in our strengths !
I chose this affirmation specifically because it mentions the power that comes with acknowledging our strengths. I am having difficulty recognizing and believing that I am strong, that I am capable, and that I am well on my way to creating a life for myself. It is hard to acknowledge our strengths when our weaknesses are constantly being pointed out and continue to hinder us. Today as I enter this brunch I need to leave my weaknesses at the door and focus on the strengths that I possess. I need to realize all of my positive attributes and build myself up. I am a good student. I have been able to make new friends and create a semblance of a life for myself at a new school. I have succeeded in my courses and with my social life against all odds. I am healthy and I am fighting for my life everyday. My life has not been ideal by any stretch of the imagination but I continue on, continue searching, and continue fighting no matter what gets in my way. How can I say all these statements and then deny that I am strong? The world is full of people and things that will try to tear us down. It is our job to fight against these negative elements and build ourselves up by recognizing our personal strengths and using this knowledge to feed our confidence. With these strengths and sense of confidence we are capable of tackling anything the world may throw at us.
Before I say farewell I'd like to share a brief quote with you-

Our strengths are sparks of light !
"You have to rely on whatever sparks you have inside you."

- Lisa Kleypas

I like this quote for multiple reasons. Firstly, it's short, simple, and to the point. Secondly, it provides a visual that I can imagine and as you know by now I love visuals. I can imagine all of my strengths as little sparks, bursts of light, flying around inside of me and giving me the power to continue on. They are bright and shining and full of life. These sparks, my strengths, are deep inside of me. They always have been and always will be. I need only to recognize them, appreciate them, and use them to the best of my advantage. We cannot depend on strengths that may be provided by the outside world. Likewise we cannot allow negative external elements to impact us. We must pay great attention to ourselves and believe that the all the strength we need lies within us. Our powers lye in our inner strengths. If we can rely on ourselves by finding and using these bright sparks of strength within us than we can face any situations or challenges that may come our way. No matter what the challenge is- brunch with an old friend, a huge assignment, an important exam, a confrontation with a coworker, a familial argument, a big day- we can handle it by believing in our strengths, knowing we are strong, and having confidence in ourselves.

Good luck with your day whether it is big or not,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Simple Gifts

Finding Happiness Everyday

Creating Your "Happy List"

Every once in a while I like to remind myself and you, the readers, about the point of this blog by getting back to the foundation and writing an entry about the basic idea of happiness. Today I want to focus on recognizing simple gifts and finding happiness everyday by creating a "Happy List." Your "Happy List" is comprised of the simple and little things in life that bring you joy and lift your spirits. It's a really basic idea but I think it could be really useful. If there is ever a day when you feel down, things just don't seem to be going your way, or life just seems unbearable you can turn to your "happy list." This list can remind you of all the things out there that bring you happiness. It can help you to remember the simple gifts that make your life worth while at a moment when nothing seems to be. It can also offer suggestions of things you can do to brighten your mood when you're stuck at point of lowness and misery. I have already started to create my personal "Happy List" mentally and plan on entering it into my journal as soon as I find a spare moment. I will share part of my list with you all so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about.

  • Starbucks French Vanilla Ice Coffee
  • I casual glass of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc with friends
  • New designer shoes
  • Rereading letters from friends
  • My first cigarette of the morning
  • The curiosity of my kitten, Milly
  • Movies: The Sound of Music, A Little Princess, Uptown Girls, The Wizard of Oz, Mean Girls, Cruel Intentions.
  • Returning home after I long time spent away
  • Pictures of cute kittens (even ones I google on my own..)
  • Seeing my older brother
  • Songs: Ooh Child, The Five Stair Steps. Keep Breathing, Ingrid Michaels. Changes, David Bowie. Under Pressure, Queen. The Show Goes On, Lupe Fiasco. Uptown Girl, Billy Joel.
  • Receiving unexpected texts from good friends
  • Genuine hugs from people I love- family, friends, children I babysit, my little cousins
  • Me and my baby cousin, Elin
  • Christmas! (Music, decorations, presents, time with family, cheesy commercials, everything about it!)
Rockefeller Center at Christmas Time!
This is just a sample from my list (and it is already quite long) and even creating it has brought a smile to my face. When I think about these little pleasures, most of which I can access every day, I realize that life is worth living. No matter what is going on or how bad I feel these things remind me that I can be happy and even have the ability to create happiness for myself. We often get bogged down by stress and negative experiences that we forget to recognize and recall the simple gifts in life that make us smile, laugh, and bring us cheer. Whenever I am feeling shitty I can watch one of my favorite movies or listen to some songs I enjoy and raise my spirits. When I am feeling depressed or as if life is too difficult I can remember the strong, happy emotions I feel when I see my brother, during Christmas, or when I return home and I can get myself through the bad times knowing that good times will come again. And when I really need a pick me up I can drive out to Neiman Marcus and splurge on a pair of designer shoes for that will at at least momentarily lift me up and from know from experience that they will make me smile whenever I put them on.
Start making your "Happy List" today !
 I encourage you to make your own "Happy List." It doesn't need to be as long or detailed as the one I presented you with. As always you can start small. Start with a short list and let it grow naturally as you begin to think of more things that bring you comfort and joy. I think you will find, as I did, that the list just continues to grow without much effort or thinking too hard. There are so many little things in life that make us happy if we just take the time to recognize them. 
And for fear of forgetting to include a quote in this post I have a very brief and simple one for you today that works perfectly with the theme of simplicity that I continue to touch upon in this entry-

"If you want to be happy, be."

- Leo Tolstoy

Lets not think too much about it and, as Tolstoy suggests, just be happy if that is what we wish. Put a smile on, find happiness everyday, and simply "be!" I promise you joy and happiness are out there if you just take the time see them!

Good luck and be happy,

My Favorite Things, Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music