Crying when I see an ambulance…

I’m driving south on Interstate 5 and an ambulance, with lights flashing, in the fast lane, is headed north on Interstate 5.

I watch it come closer and then start to cry. Fighting the tears. Biting my lip. Willing the tears to just.go.away.

Then I cry.

Ugly cry.

It happens the exact same way EVERY SINGLE TIME.

My mom’s been gone 8 years and I still have this gut-grief reaction to seeing an ambulance. It always startles me for a moment.  Then…. bear with me… it oddly comforts me.

Maybe it’s more accurate to say that I continue to get more comfortable with the fact that grief never leaves me.  And I finally understand that deep grief comes with deep love…

I’ll try to explain what I mean…

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We live in a small(ish) valley. The major hospitals are North of us, in Portland. An ambulance driving north with lights on means someone from a smaller hospital in an outlying community in our valley is critically ill (not lifeflight-ill, but small-hospital-can’t-handle-the-complexity-ill) and headed for help.

My mom was in one of those ambulances in January about 8 years ago.

And it was the last time she was ever on Interstate 5.  It was a one-way ride. None of us ever entertained the thought that she would never see home again.

I remember when our Corvallis hospital made the decision to transfer her to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and there was a scurry to get her moved.

My mom had a MRSA infection in her blood. She needed infectious disease management for a really complicated health-profile. She was super sick and needed more help than our local hospital could give her.

They loaded her in an ambulance, paramedics reassuring us they would take the very best care of her, closed the doors and took off with lights flashing headed for OHSU about 90 minutes away.

I remember my dad driving behind the ambulance, upset because he couldn’t ride with her, trying to stay close to the ambulance. I was following in another car. I could see glimpses of the paramedic in the back with her and, true to his promise, you could see him holding her hand and talking with her the entire trip. Comforting her. I was driving and trying to fill in details via the phone with my sister, asking the neighbors to take care of the farm, calling to let work know I’d be out.  I was hoping my dad was paying better attention to the road/rules/drivers than I feared he was…

I followed that ambulance terrified for my mom, heartbroken for my dad and HOPEFUL we were headed to the help that would figure out how to save my mom.

It never occurred to me how the story would end. I was clinging blindly to hope.

OHSU was incredible. They tried everything, experimented with brand new drugs, never gave false-hope, FOUGHT as hard and smart as they could.

MRSA won.

My mom died 3-10-10.

Driving back down Interstate 5 that day was as traumatic as it had been going up behind that ambulance. This time my sister and I were driving away mom-less daughters, with a dad so grief stricken he was compliant and numb and totally lost.

Our world was totally, inexplicably, irrevocably changed.

Forever changed.

And I would begin to understand grief.

And over the next few years I would come to view grieving in a whole different light. Not shameful, with a time limit or mandatory sadness that would disappear.  I began to view grief as a permanent part of who I was, expanding my empathy and teaching me critical lessons about the honor of being able to lean-in and embrace someone else with a breaking/broken heart.

Where at first my grief was raw and dangerous and soul-deep hurt…  Like…  steal your breathe and literally throw you to your knees. Now, years later, grief is this ever-present reminder that while something good is gone and life is different; I can remember that it’s only because I had something so good, that this sadness actually has grown, for me, into an odd form of comfort and reassurance that I was blessed with a deep love.

Kind of like ‘Hello. Yes, grief, I see you; you’re kind of hard to miss. Yes, grief, of course I remember my mom is dead and gone.  I don’t forget. Not for a single moment, except sometimes when I first wake-up; but I always remember within seconds… I promise. But yeah, thank you for reminding me how special she was and how lucky I was to have had her in my life…’

‘Grief is just love with no place to go.’ 

Someone who has just lost someone — will not understand any of this. They’ll be bewildered and possibly offended. I sure as hell would NOT have understood that I would come to a place where I could accept that my mom was gone and not be a puddle of incoherent tears. But if you’re a few years out from a loss, you might accept that grief is actually a permanent part of who you are now and you can begin to embrace it as proof of love…

You might understand why I cry when I see an ambulance.

As I’m driving this weekend watching the ambulance approach on the other side of the interstate, I’m automatically scanning the other cars behind the ambulance wondering if there are loved ones frantically following the ambulance.

I send up a quick thought of healing and peace and prayers for the person, their family and most importantly for the ambulance crew trying to transport, comfort and save this person… I always wonder if this ambulance contains one of the lucky ones and they will get to drive their loved one back home.

And then I cry. I cry because my mom is dead. And I miss her every day. And I’m a better women for having had her, her abundant and persistent lessons in grace and love and kindness at the center of my life.  I cry because she shouldn’t have died so young.  I cry because she would be so proud of me and what I’m trying to do with my life and I want her to be here and be in the middle of it all and know my friends.

I cry.

I don’t rationalize or hold back or even get embarrassed when other drivers passing by notice the streaming tears.  I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks about my grief.  Hell.  If they had known my mom — they’d be crying too. I sob and choke and cry my grief almost as rawly as the day she died…

Eventually the tears slow and dry.

Gratefulness emerges and fights for my attention.

I am flooded with reminders of how lucky I am to have been given someone I would miss so much. How lucky I am to have had this woman as my mom.  Of ALL the women in the world — I had her for 42 years.

And grief just kind of crawls back in the passenger seat, waiting for the next ambulance.

I keep driving.

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Binge Eating Disorder. (Getting things in order…)

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Thirteen weeks since I last grappled with a binge. There’s been many subsequent days of battling the compulsion and feeling ‘frantic’ about food.  But it’s been a solid three months since I actively binged.

I am now working to face emotions instead of feeding them.

Turns out that’s a 24/7 project.

Bottom line? It’s messy and not linear and kinda scary and yet it’s going well.  Honest.

Now that I know what I’m facing, it’s easier to fight back.

I will openly admit that there have been days of ‘white knuckling it’. Days of constant annoying/low-level struggle around food and more intense binge-compulsion feeling from sun-up/sun-down. Moments of laughter, realization, grief, melt-downs and giddy successes.

And *whew* an increasing number of recent days that I really do feel sane and balanced.

Some really wonderful people have reached out offering support, encouragement and telling me their stories as a result of my blog about Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

I quickly figured out I was not alone, not a whole lot of people talk openly about BED and not everyone knows how to help someone in their life struggling with BED.


I wanted to figure out what caused or triggered this episode, so that I can avoid a repeat.

I reached the conclusion that it was no single thing; it was the perfect storm of a whole bunch of stuff that unleashed this specific binge.  I had BED hidden, pretending fervently that it did NOT exist anymore and tightly controlled with rules/habits/’should’s’.

And then it was loose. And running wild.

It was there all along, no matter what I thought.  I just hit the right set of conditions and it roared to life.

I’d had an off year running (4 races, 3 DNF’s), was burned out on running/routine/journaling food/watching the scale, work stresses and successes.  I have some big, exciting life changes I’m working to make happen. Lots of good and some not so good.  Not all of it in my immediate control.

Uh… Life.

You know.

Just life.

Stuff I’d been dealing with for a long time and convinced I was balancing quite well. Suddenly ‘it’ was the straw that simply broke this camel’s back…

After a four day binge on trail mix, I found myself sad and panicked and needing help to battle this really big, pissed-off demon.

So I have been working on getting the help I need.  This is roughly what my recovery plan looks like at this point…

 

  • Found a new therapist. We meet weekly.
  • Reached out to friends in recovery from eating disorders and asked for their support and accountability.
  • Took things out of my eating/living environment that were just not helping.
  • Changed some of my shopping/eating/snacking habits.
  • Avoided high risk situations until I’m feeling more ‘in control’.
  • Food journaling before I choose to eat anything (MyFitnessPal) and food/emotion journaling if I stumble or struggle (Moodnotes).
  • Meditation in the mornings.
  • Mindful running.
  • ‘Feeling my feelings’ and not hiding my tears or joy or fears.

All to keep from cramming fistfuls of trail mix in my face.

Learning to identify and face my emotions, appropriately.  Learning to feed my body, lifestyle and running, appropriately.


I mistake or mask pretty much any emotion a human can possibly experience as ‘hunger’ and then eat my emotions.

Have for as far back as I can remember. Decades of experience acknowledging/denying/ignoring an emotion. Happy or sad — doesn’t seem to matter. Then deciding eating is the best possible solution to dealing with fear, happiness, anger, sadness, joy, lack of belonging…

Food is comfort, problem and ‘answer’ all in one.

I’m rudely breaking them the hell up.

Figuring out what emotions are, how they feel, how to feel them, how not to feed them.  That’s what I’m learning.

I was standing in front of the frig the other day.  Opening, closing, opening, closing, opening the doors….  Trying really hard to figure out if I was TRULY hungry.  I looked like I was fanning myself with the door.

“Am I hungry (open), or am I feeling sad (close)?  Am I hungry or am I feeling anxious?  Am I hungry or did I get my feelings hurt?”  I couldn’t figure out the answer.  I grabbed some water and walked away from the frig. Sat myself in a time out. Did a really quick scan from head to toe to see if I was feeling the emotions ANYWHERE else besides my belly…  I’d had a pretty big run and was increasing mileage for the week.  Thought carefully about the stresses of the day/week. Scanning my food journal…  Decided that I really was truly, belly-hungry.  HAHAHA! ALL of that thinking and pondering and wondering — I really, truly was hungry for some calories.

So I ate. One portion of something healthy and filling. 🙂

While this is funny and I highlighted it in detail, on purpose — this decision making about hunger/feelings is something I’m suddenly very aware of. And I’m going through the exercise of thinking about hunger a WHOLE lot these days.  A whole lot in a single day.

A study by Cornell University estimates that ‘normal’ humans (most of you!) make over 200 food related decisions a day.

200 decision. A DAY.

Go to bed, wake up, start making another 200 decisions…

WHEW.

No wonder fighting an eating disorder is EXHAUSTING work.


To those who have BED… Don’t suffer alone and don’t hide. BED loves it/thrives/GROWS when we hide and suffer.  Do NOT give it that edge, do not give it that power over your life… Do NOT feed it. (Get the pun?!)

Spencer: Author

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Photogrpaher: Patrick Means

Spencer is in the very final stages of writing a book.

‘Appetite for Addiction’

It will be out and for sale in a matter of weeks.

It’s about his life as an alcoholic and addict.  It leads us up to the edge of sobriety.

I remember when Spencer told me he was starting his book.  I knew something was up.  He’d been writing feverishly and been singularly focused on writing. I figured he was writing a really intense blog.  Or journaling about something.

Then he told me he’d started writing the book and had something like 100 pages already written. So that’s what he’d been working on.  A book.

He offered to let me read an early draft of a few pages. This is the story he let me read (OSU Football).

I finished it and was not entirely sure how to react.  (Did you read it?!)

I mean the writing was stunningly vivid.  I finished the chapter and could tell you details and the picture of the story he had painted so perfectly well…  Felt like I’d been there and seen it all play out with my own two eyes.

And I was left wondering one thing…

I was a little shocked and didn’t really bother to filter what I was thinking.  So I just asked him…

‘HOW the hell are you even still alive?’

Really.

Holy shit.

Reading the stories of my friend, a man who I know in such contrast to these stories I am sitting here reading, when he was what I’ll call an ‘active alcoholic’…

The shit he did, the even bigger shit he survived, the situations he got himself into…

Whoa.

I remember looking up from the laptop…  Jaw agape. Asking him ‘Spencer, how did you not die? How are you still alive?’ and he gave a startled laugh at the bluntness of my question, paused and thought for a few seconds and then shrugged and said ‘I really don’t know…’

His book is a labor of love.  Honesty.  Intention.  Transparency.

Hours and hours spent writing on his trusty laptop.

His soul and memories and difficulties are all now in black and white for the world to read.

He uploaded the final manuscript to the editors this past week.  This is the last step before the rest of us can buy our very own copy of his story on Amazon.

His hope is that others may find themselves in the pages of his book.  Depression, alcohol, addiction…  The over-arching hope that others may find parts of themselves in the pages.  And get help.  Or know that the future can look different then the day they’re standing in.

Spencer wrote so others could and would know that they are not alone.

{We’re building up to launch the book. You can follow him on FB and Insta for more details.}

I am so proud of him for taking this from a dream to Kindle.

Congratulations Spence!

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Binge Eating Disorder

I still make myself laugh sometimes.  I really thought when I started this healthy lifestyle journey that I would reach an ‘end.’  That some of the ‘bad’ things would disappear and no longer be an issue.

Joke’s on me.

A weight on the scale? Permanently changed/banished behaviors? Some sort of finish line?

I really had no idea what I thought would be the ‘end’, but I was so sure there was one. I thought that once I got healthy, got to a normal weight that some of these problems would simply just disappear.

They don’t.

Who knew?


An old friend came to visit two weeks ago.

And that’s totally a euphemism for ‘something shitty that I was really, fervently hoping I had killed/abolished/changed/was going to stay the HELL GONE FOREVER just knocked me on my ass… ‘

My old friend showed up again.

I was am a binge eater.

I always dressed that up, when I had to say anything at all, and said I was a compulsive overeater. Which is true — that’s a component of the problem I battle.

Overeating can be sporadic, no guilt/shame, just a bad habit.  An overly full belly from time to time

Binge eating is a whole different animal.

Binge eating disorder (BED). “BED is a medical condition, and it’s the most common eating disorder in the United States. People with BED regularly eat large amounts of food while experiencing a sense of loss of control over the eating episode. They often feel guilt or shame after eating. Characterized by eating when not physically hungry.’

Hunger has NOTHING to do with it. Nothing.

Binge eating sucks.  Big time.

There I said it.

For me a binge gets started when I’m sad, not being active and things feel increasingly out of control.  The more of that toxic combination there is in my life, the more I lean toward food for gaining that control, that ‘love’, that comfort…

I know binge eating is an issue for people — one we do NOT talk about.  Yet BED is the most common eating disorder in the US. ( Healthline). I know from conversations, texts, emails, FB messages that this is not something I’m suffering with alone. There’s a bunch of you out there suffering quietly. Miserably.


Last big binge for me was before my mom died.  Over 8 years ago.  2009.  I’ve done some overeating in that time since, for sure.  But not a planned, purposeful binge.

I thought I’d ‘cured’ binge eating.  Or had it buried deep and totally under control.

Until 2 weeks ago.

This binge caught me totally by surprise and none of my new, healthy, hard-fought habits were worthy of stopping it.

It scared the shit out of me. And I couldn’t stop it.

The binge lasted 4 days.

No one knew I was doing it.  When I finally reached out for help the friend I told said ‘I didn’t know you were binging’…  To which my reply was ‘Because I didn’t want you to know.  I’m damn good at this shit.  Damn good.  If I didn’t want you to know, you would never know. But I need you to know now and I need help.’

I can tell you that as far as binging goes — I had not lost any of my skills…  This episode was methodical, anticipated, carefully planned, enjoyed, deeply hidden, devastatingly successful.  I was thrilled to be doing it.  Mortified when I was in the midst of it. Sad and broken and totally beaten down after the first bite.

I reached out for help at day 4.

I quickly got appropriate help. I got support.  I was reminded that I am loved.

I was also harshly reminded that this is a cunning foe that I have to keep working to learn and understand.

So what was the binge?

Trail mix.  Freaking Costco trail mix.  I bought 4 bags. They each weigh 4 pounds.   I paid cash.  I ate a bag a day for 4 days. I ate it all day long.  Quietly, a serving at a time. Hidden away and portioned out so no one would suspect or question or figure out what was going on.

Your mind is trying to do the math. I’ll save you the effort…  Each bag was 36 servings with 9,600 calories per bag.  38,400 calories, 3,360 grams of carbs over 4 days. (In my healthy eating ‘norm’ I eat about 1,500 cals, and limit carbs to 90 grams per day…)

Yeah.  The scope of this binge is even more horrifying when you put all the numbers on paper.

And I was also eating ‘regular’ meals so that no one would catch on to my binge eating.

And entire bag a day, for four days. 

I was somehow able to stop the binge, even though I still felt totally out of control and sad and frantic.  I reached out, which goes totally against ALL instincts in a binge eating haze. And then I began to battle the shame and guilt and failure that comes on the heels of losing total control over food.  The shame and guilt of hiding my binge. Feeling isolated and alone and terrified I would be found out. Or that it wouldn’t stop.  Or that all of my hard work to learn to run and reverse T2 diabetes and lose weight would be GONE because I could not/WOULD NOT stop eating.

This is an old friend I would be happy to never, ever see again.

I simply have to understand that s/he may show up again at any time for the rest of my life.

 

Tooth and nail.

I had a tooth pulled yesterday.

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There’s a couple of things going on that landed me at the point of having a tooth so broken they couldn’t repair it…

I’m claustrophobic as heck and I’m afraid of the dentist. {Any dentist.}

Type 2 Diabetes.


I grew up with severe asthma. Spending hours on breathing machines in the hospital and having to – to this day – carry a rescue inhaler. Struggling to breathe, breathing so hard my ribs hurt for days, feeling like a goldfish knocked out of their bowl… I remember the difficulty of trying to breath for days on end very, very clearly.

Fighting for air and not getting it is a feeling that instills instant, blind panic.

I have always feared anything that would compromise my breathing. I hate putting my face in the water, never wore masks for Halloween and I’ll go in full, irrational, freak-out mode if someone tries to cover my mouth, even in jest.

I’ve bitten and kicked at dentists. NOT because I’m an asshat.  I mean maybe I am, but it’s usually because it’s a fight/flight response and I felt they were blocking my breathing.

One of my charts was marked ‘Friendly Biter’.

I got asked not to return to one office — which was fine, I was never going back anyway. They blocked my mouth and nose with a work-dam during a root canal.  I lost my mind and rolled out of the chair mid-procedure after my attempts at arm waving, grunting and pushing away their hands didn’t work to alert them that I could NOT breathe…

As an adult I still feel like I have to warn every new dentist. ‘Uh… I’m claustrophobic. There’s a really good chance I might freak out on you. I mean, I’ll try really, really hard not to, but I have a history…’

No matter how wonderful and careful the dentists are — they’re messing with my mouth.  And in my mind that means my breathing. I have to do some serious brain-calming to get in and out of every single dentist chair and not bite or kick anyone.

Like a lot of folks, I had some early dentist visits where pain was involved which doesn’t help the situation.  Parental deception, scary instruments, noises, futile distractions.  And there’s no new toothbrush, sticker, toy or post-visit Icee that will ever make up for some of that. Most dental visits for me still involve a) lying about/hiding pain to avoid a procedure and b) being in tears.

Dentists and clowns still scare the crap out of me.

Go figure.

So, because of my fear of dentists, I don’t always get the preventative work done that should happen when you’re a non-dentist-phobic adult. I put crap off becasue I’m afraid it’s going to hurt and i’ll be scared.

And then it hurts.  And I’m scared.  And I have to go anyway.

Not the best example of adulting. 🙂

But let’s get to the root (pun intended) of this issue…. Type 2 Diabetes. T2.

My teeth were relatively normal and healthy with a filling or two until I got T2.  As the disease progressed unchecked, then I was ‘pretending’ it was no big deal and managing it poorly and then finally when I landed on heavy meds because being an ostrich hadn’t work….

T2 was rampant and doing damage.

Right around the time I was diagnosed with T2 my teeth started to have issues. Bad issues. Like every tooth in my head has had work. I have 7 root canals and crowns. One implant. And now I have two visible holes where teeth are missing…

Some dentists say it was the diet that I consumed that got me to 400 pounds that is the core issue.  Eat crap, eat diet laden with sugar; your teeth will fall apart.

Some say it’s genetics.  My mom had ‘soft teeth’.  So do I.

Some say it’s the T2 meds. They cause severe dry mouth and after a decade on those diabetes drugs, they create all kinds of dental and gum issues. {Including this wonderful yellowish tint that defies most whitening tactics.}

Some say that uncontrolled/poorly controlled blood sugars cause poor and delayed healing.

One dentist, recently, did research when I told him about T2 being in submission. He shared findings that teeth/gums are proving to be more prone to nerve/gum/tooth damage from uncontrolled blood sugars and T2 diabetes that previously thought. He feels strongly that the nerve damage from T2 hit my feet and my mouth and we’re just now seeing the extent of the damage.

I believe all of them.

Having this suddenly-crumbling, painful, tooth extracted reminds me of the silent damage T2 can do. And was doing.  And that I’ll have to keep paying for.

It also reminds me that I’m one HELL of a lucky woman.

I am so, so lucky this disease attacked my toes and teeth and not my heart, kidneys or other internal organs.

And it reminds me how grateful I am that I now have 6+ HEALTHY years to my name.

I have 6+ years of fighting off and reversing T2.

I have 6+ years that I have NOT done additional damage.


I was texting my friend Evelyn about my pulled tooth.

And I got to musing about what life would be like with 6 additional years of 400 pounds/barely controlled blood sugars/damage to my body.  What medical care would I be involved with?  What kind of meds would I be on and how much would it be costing me? Would I have finally lost my infected toes/feet?  Would my teeth be hanging in or falling out?  Would I have had a stroke, or lost my kidneys or had any of the other collateral damage that comes with obesity and T2…?

Would I even be alive had I not begun to fight to reverse this disease?

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Me: ‘I often wonder what life would be like right now if I was still unhealthy, obese, T2.  Like 6/7 years MORE damage.’

Evelyn: ‘According to what your doctor said, I may have never met you. So happy I did.’

Me: ‘You’re going to make me cry.  But you’re right. I think I would probably be dead. Having a tooth pulled is minor…’

Not to borrow trouble or create stories that don’t exsist….

But seriously?

What if I hadn’t turned things around?


I had an experience in the spring with scabs on my knees — SIGNS of a healthy body working to heal. Great scars, fun/stupid runner story to share, no infection, total healing.  AMAZING!

And this dang tooth serves as yet another reminder of the former life I lived/survived with T2.  Confirmation that I’m doing the right things and encouragement to keep doing what I’m doing.

Keep healthy. 

Keep added sugar out of my diet as best I can. 

Keep running/active for the love and joy of it all.

I think T2 did the damage that ruined the tooth, but my non-T2 body can now heal up the surgical wound quickly.

 

I’m lucky.  I worked hard to stop this disease from ravaging my body any further than it already had.

I’m lucky it’s just a tooth.

Still fighting this tooth and nail. (Get the pun?!)

 

 

 

 

 

Mountains of mindfulness

11174026-943C-4692-BDA5-0759E2402818.jpgI was just part of a running and mindfulness retreat in breathtaking Colorado.  (The views and the altitude were both breathe-stealing!)

Coming to this thing was Spencer’s idea well over a year ago.

We embrace events and opportunities like this as growing our cache of skills and connections for our business as well as helping each of us stay accountable to our own lifestyle choices and changes. Building our business while spending the weekend running trails in the incredible Colorado mountains and learning about mindfulness/meditation?

Why not?

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Spence and I on Green Mountain. Some folks on this hike/run were on their longest run ever, some were seasoned ultra runners and some had never been on trails. SO FUN!

I had a meditation practice coming into this retreat; barely.  I manage to eek out about 2-3 minutes of ‘mind-quiet’ time most days. I use the time, pre-coffee,  to set an intention, frame the day in kindness/compassion.  It was a hard habit to start, but I have managed to get it done most mornings for the last 9 months or so.  And I see results.  It works.

But going to a full 3 day retreat focused on meditation and mindfulness with some yoga and group runs throw in?  I wasn’t sure how ‘into it’ I was going to be… I told Spencer, I was absolutely going to listen, learn, observe. I didn’t arrive to Colorado with too many expectations, yet I did arrive with an open mind.  I was ready to meet some great people and just enjoy the experience — whatever it was all about.

Spoiler alert?

It was deeply impactful.

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Beth, Jason and I cruising down the hill and feeling GOOD.  Uh make that GREAT! Happy to be right there, in that moment, exactly as we were, doing exactly what we were doing.  Such goodness captured in a picture.

I loved the running, people, food, mountains, conversations. That’s kind of what I expected — or more accurately — was really hoping for.  What I was not expecting was how much I would deeply, truly love the workshops and the group meditation.

We talked NOT just about what mindfulness was, but what it looks like, how it plays in our lives and how to actually DO IT.  We were guided through meditation in the morning and then we went on group runs.

Abundance of laughter and pictures and meditation and great food and mindfulness and breathing.


I am sitting at our friend Matt’s house staring at the vast and rugged Colorado landscape. Jaw-dropping.  We’re waiting for the eclipse to get started! I’m thinking about what I get to practice and play with moving forward, thanks to the Olson’s and my other retreat-mates, that I didn’t have in my ‘tool kit’ just last week. I realize I’m slightly dreading the return to ‘normal’ life and routines.  I mean, this was an amazing, eye-opening, heart-filling experience.

Who wants to go back to work after this one-of-a-kind experience?

But than again… The point of mindfulness is that THIS moment is all you have and it’s all wonderfully, genuinely, exactly as it should be – every breathe, every moment.

Just enjoy the moment.

THIS moment.

Quit worrying about what could happen and just enjoy what IS happening.


Anyone in the ultra world will know the name Timothy Olson. Talented athlete with a really long and impressive list of accomplishments.  It turns out he is also a damn good daddy and hell of a nice human being on top of it all.  He and his wife, Krista (she’s an equally amazing human, momma, runner, businesswoman) and a cast of other incredible humans are the hosts and leaders for this weekend.

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Tim’s the one waving. 🙂

While I’m still processing things and figuring out what the key take-aways were; I didn’t want to lose sight of the few that were BIG for me… (And maybe they’ll resonate for you too!)

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Selfie skills for the win! I told them I could get all of them in one selfie.  We did it! SEE SPENCER…  When I randomly pause my Garmin during a key workout — it has a bigger purpose. 🙂

Fueled by love.  We often run or engage in some kind of physical activity and let it be fueled by fear, anger, resentment or some other not-so-great-emotion.

I have to run, I don’t want to gain weight.  

I am PISSED at something in my life, so I’m going to go pound it out on the trails.  

I ate XYZ and I have to go work it off as punishment because I shouldn’t have eaten it.

So we’re essentially using that predominant negative emotion as ‘fuel’.  WHAT IF…  What if we used love and compassion and kindness to ‘fuel’ our runs instead?  This epiphany hit during a casual bonfire circle Q & A.  And the message isn’t entirely new to me; I love the idea of re-framing and positive self-talk, etc.  But this simple answer hit me hard, like… I understood it like I’ve never understood it before and could pull context from that very days’ run of having used fear to fuel my strides. I always run with an edge of fear. ALWAYS.  What will people think?  What if I gain the weight back?  What if the whole group has to wait for me? What if diabetes creeps back in my life? LOTS of what if’s floating around that are fear-based, fear-laced.  What if I were to set the intent of the run and simply choose to fuel that run by counting blessings, harnessing love, recognize the good in life? That’s a ‘what-if ‘worth pondering a whole more deeply.

Breathe. (Breathe deep.)

Open-hearted curiosity. Tim gave us his working definition of mindfulness.  And the piece that resonated deeply for me was ‘open-hearted curiosity‘.  In fact I didn’t hear what he said after that for a few moments because the idea struck me hard. Just that moment of pure wonder with no judgement attached…  His example to illustrate this idea was perfect.  He said to think about that moment when you stick your head outside the door to see what the weather is before heading out on a run.  You are not JUDGING what the weather is going to bring to/do to your run or your day, it’s just that instant/moment of wondering how the air is, what the skies look like, what the weather really is like at that moment…  THAT moment of suspended judgement is ‘open-hearted curiosity’.  I fell in love with that idea… 🙂  Coupled with open-hearted curiosity is the reminder to suspend judgement.  Just be curious.  I’m a harsh self-directed judger and conclusion-drawer and a story-builder.  I take one data point and can easily build the apocalypse in my head; convince my heart to go along with my head and the day is suddenly headed in another direction…  So suspending judgement and just being consistently, genuinely open-heartedly curious, is a BIG ONE FOR ME.  Just be curious.  Period.  Stop right there.  I’ve been eagerly practicing this one a lot already.

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Kindness. The world just needs more kindness. Ample and gentle reminders for us to find ways to insert kindness when we see the chance, when we’re given the chance. Smile at people on the trails. Help a fellow runner/hiker/outdoor-goer.  Take the kindness off of the trails and into life.  Kindness conquers a whole lot of ills in our world.  Kindness costs nothing.

BREATHE. (In through the nose, out through the mouth…)

Accepting pain. Instead of fighting pain and discomfort, accept it. Lean into it and accept it, feel it, acknowledge it. Breathe through it. I always figured part of what we were training for with all this dang mileage and ‘time on our feet’ was to abolish the pain; get stronger and fitter so pain was less and less of an issue.  Uh… Not true.  Pain is actually strengthened by our reaction to it. Fixating on things rarely ‘fixes’ them.  WHOA!  So reacting to the pain actually makes it stronger. Damn. That’s not good. This is true for physical pain and mental pain as well. The idea that accepting pain, facing it and not fighting it is what actually helps it diminish or be put into perspective was a pretty startling reminder/re-framing for me.

And just breathe…


Heading home with tired legs, full lungs, happy heart, new friends.

This adventure delivered more than I could have possibly imagined.

Full and happy heart.

#runmindful

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Fat Shaming

IMG_5633I want to talk about fat-shaming.

I have been fat-shamed.  Lots.  In some cases I remember incidences specifically. In some cases it’s more like hashmarks tallying up the number of times something happened…

I hear lot of stories about it too, from a surprisingly wide variety of people when they choose to get vulnerable and tell us their stories. Men and women, just to be clear. They try to be casual or funny.  They’re not.  They try to tell me it was parental/relative ‘love’.  It’s not.  They try to tell me they deserved to be the butt of a cruel joke.  They didn’t. They try to tell me they’re over it, they’ve dealt with it; then their face crumples.

You can’t ‘un-hear’ things said about you.

I have tried.  And tried. And tried.

The point of this post is to raise self-awareness and propose some action.

I’m actually kind of tired of trying to define it, explain it and wrap my head around all of the phrases/off-shoots/hashtags/movements.  I think I found one way to cut through the crap and change the tide. And if this isn’t the way – at least it’s action while we re-group… 🙂

This all starts with individuals being kinder, gentler to themselves and those around them that are struggling with weight, body image, food issues…

That simple. (And hard…)

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I’ve enjoyed some amazing support. The one person who knows my whole heart, whole story?  My sis. 

Fat shaming is about actions and words.

Equally devastating.

The actions range from elbowing someone’s fat rolls if they sit next to you on a plane, not hiring someone for a job because you don’t like how they look, making pig sounds as they walk by….  Need I go on?

 

Words  What you say to someone can stay rattling around in someone’s brain for years.  (And years….)  We all know that.

{Use your powers for good.}

I’ve written this before; but the old ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ childhood rhyme is utter bullshit.

Words wound. Words create. Words fill your heart with joy. Words build. Words destroy.

Words matter.

Deeply.

At the core fat-shaming – defined by Psychology today is ‘An act of bullying, singling out, discriminating, or making fun of a fat person. The shaming may be performed under the guise of helping the person who is overweight/obese realize they need to lose weight or they will die, become ill, and/or never succeed in life or relationships. Fat shaming is an individual bias against people who are considered unattractive, stupid, lazy, or lacking self control.”

For me the fat shaming started early.

Middle and High school were predictably the worst.

Now they would have called it bullying.

The worst was coming out to my car my Junior year.  Popular back in the day was the bumper sticker that said some version of ‘No Fat Chicks’.  A doctored version with the ‘no’ removed was stuck on my car.  I was being called a ‘fat chick’.  I suspected people thought it — this removed all doubt. I was a farm-girl in the middle of LA and I was fat.  I was an oddity no matter what… But my farm girl side had the tools; I pulled out some silver tape, covered the bumper sticker and drove home. A car full of high school boys were laughing and pointing and taunting. I knew all of them. My mom, both of us in tears, helped me scrape it off my car. We never told anyone. To this day it can make me cry if I think about it long enough. The tears then were for the cruel act.  The tears now are of sadness that my mom is gone, coupled with the deep gratitude and love for the woman, beyond that of being my mom, who knew what it was like to be ‘unacceptably large’ in our society.

Back then; my friends, relatives and most of the responsible adults around me just turned a blind eye.  I was told to ‘lose weight’ and the ‘mean comments’ would stop. So hard for me sometimes to accept friend requests on social media outlets from people who said things that 25 years later I still remember.  However, I friend these high school ‘friends’ because the only way to change the tide on ANY of this for ME is to forgive and do what I can to make things different for myself and others as we move forward.

You can’t embrace your future if you’re busy clinging onto useless bitterness tied to your past.

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My mom.

Workplace.  Dating.  Stores.  Restaurants.  Travel.  You name it — I have a story that relates to being embarrassed, belittled, made fun of, hurt. And before someone suggests it; these were not times where I was being overly-sensitive or reading too much into something. These were pointed comments and situations that were clearly aimed at me being fat in their space, them trying to ‘save me’ or simply ‘stating the obvious’.

I would bet solid money that most of you reading this blog have some stories that you could also share.

I also have the stories of having lost weight and people making comments that assure me they like me much better now…  In and of itself another form of emotional upset. “You’re pretty now!’, ‘Why are you still single?’ and ‘You must love your life now!’

I’ve been diving into this topic with both feet trying to learn what can be done to change the tide. And trying to learn how to help other men and women who struggle.  If you would like a little side-trip to understand just how pervasive this issue is, or you’re still not clear exactly what constitutes fat-shaming….  Google fat-shaming and click on the option to view images.  It should break your heart.

Fat isn’t the only thing shamed. Anything we deem ‘not normal’, ‘not acceptable’ with help from marketing and social media is fair game — right?  Since I was the former 392 pound woman; fat shaming is where my heart and brain lie. I can talk about being morbidly obese in the US.  And no longer being obese.  I can talk about both.  And I do. All the time.

It’s not like you can hide being fat/overweight/obese.

It’s not like I was fat/overweight/obese to piss anyone off, or make myself a target.  There were some really complicated dynamics behind my weight — as with ANYONE — and being shamed for it never drove me to do anything other than eat, hide, cry…  It never provoked the need to change.  Only to try to hide and to avoid people…

So you’re wondering what to do?

So am I to be honest.

I think we just have to start somewhere.  The following list is the best of the advice I could glean from the tumble down the rabbit hole of the  interwebs/books/podcasts/experts; so this is where I am going to start…

  • Be kind to MYSELF.  The worst, most destructive, most hateful fat-shaming is the shaming we do to ourselves.
  • Shut other people down when they say mean things about themselves or other people.  Support the positive.
  • Stop commenting on anyone’s food and clothing choices, how their body looks.
  • Comment on and praise actions, kindnesses, abilities, rather than appearance.
  • Don’t re-post, like or comment on mean-shit on social media.  It’s NOT funny.  What if it was ME, YOU or someone we loved the picture was captioning?
  • Don’t assume. I don’t know what someone else journey is, why they eat a certain way, what they’re facing, what health challenges exist in their lives…  Take one breath, one moment, adjust my thinking about the fact that maybe I don’t know what’s best for them.  Or what might hurt them.
  • Taste my words before I spit them out.
  • Use my ‘powers’ for good.

What have I missed?  What else would you add to this list?

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