Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Backpack

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Mornings are probably the most difficult part of my days. Starting off right is hardly ever easy, especially when a part of me would rather spend the beginning, middle, and end right where I lie when I awake. Though parting with my pillow is a hard job, it is so important and totally impacts the way I view my entire life when I return to it at night.

With that in mind, I dragged myself out of bed this morning for an Easter egg hunt, for I am now a self-proclaimed “Morning Person”… for whatever that’s worth. Sleep felt so good and holidays can be tricky so far away from what has been home while entering recovery; escape from memories and any nostalgia seemed much more taunting today. Being a morning person, I led with a yes and chose to find my inner child while searching for the brightly-colored eggs hidden throughout our lawn. Humoring friends in the activity, I uncovered pure joy in the competition of the event and an energy far surpassing any caffeine boost I would have previously sought to get me through the day.

Opening each egg and engaging in a new tradition, I was touched to discover affirmations in the eggs, along with the necessary jelly beans. With a desire to spread the holiday sentiments, my friends and I decided to share the love. We got dressed and headed out for a morning hike to the filming site of MASH. We packed a portion of the Easter eggs, and dispersed them along the trail.

Weekend hikes have become something I thoroughly look forward to. Being strong enough to carry myself for a thirty-minute walk, never mind a trek through the mountains, has helped exponentially in the acceptance and admiration of my body. As a person who struggles, at times, to connect to my experiences and self, I cherish the moments where life enables me to do so effortlessly. As we climbed the mountains and reached the peaks, I was astounded at how lucky I was to be surrounded by such incredibly determined women on a beautiful morning, with an ability to be a part of and notice these moments. Expanding positive feelings to anyone who came across our eggs was really just an added bonus.

In retrospect, today I am grateful for the opportunity to be. I am grateful for the people in my life who hide the eggs for me, and I am grateful to hide them for any stranger who might need a reminder that they are valued. I am grateful for any mountain in my life, and I am grateful for the chance to climb it. I am grateful for jelly beans, and I am grateful for the smiles they bring, and I am grateful that they bring smiles. Today, I am grateful for today. But, most of all, I am grateful that I started today.

Cheers!

Alexandra

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Though the Ink is Black…

In chasing shiny things, I have been building a list of commandments to live by. A common directive offered to me has been, “Lead with a Yes”. Saying “no” can be an easy route to familiarity and safety. As human beings, taking a risk is often against our nature; doing something new poses a set of variables of which we are often in the blind and uncertain. The series of “what if’s” arise as uncommon denominators block our vision and, naturally, our inner wisdom seeks clarity. We hide in what we know.

Staying still is comfortable, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Yet, staying still simultaneously means not moving forward, and I have made a pact to myself, my life, and those in it that I will stride on. So I am attempting to lead with a yes.

On Tuesday, I was sitting around trying to start up this very website. I had more to do, but the day was slipping through my fingers. I had gotten out of the house very briefly to go to a ballet class (another new adventure I’ve taken), but the majority of the day had been spent behind a computer screen. Another commandment I have committed to is, “Enjoy the process”. In recovery, I have noticed that, though my food is clean, I have a tendency to use eating disordered behaviors in places elsewhere. I binge on activities, or restrict them entirely. I so often overlook the practice of enjoying the process in the hopes of discovering the outcome. So, I stopped. There was no rush in finishing my blog. After all, that defeated the entire purpose. This project is to help me bring out the best in my life, not miss it.

My friend and I have been talking about getting tattoos for a while now. For about a year, I’ve known I wanted one. Ever since entering residential treatment last May, I knew the process of recovering from an eating disorder was a valuable enough thing to permanently put on my body. This road has not been a smooth one, and it has touched me far deeper than any needle could. In my journey, a particularly difficult task for me has been staying present. I often catch myself lost in the past or focused on the future. When life kicks my ass, I disconnect in my mind. A mantra I have strived to follow has been, “Be here”. Repeating over and over in my head, I have taken steps to enter reality, but it isn’t always easy.

Tuesday, when my friend exclaimed, “We should get tattoos today!” my initial reaction was to laugh and brush it off. Yes, we’d been talking about it forever, and yes my friend’s charming southern accent was convincing, but would I actually follow through, especially on such a whim? Probably not. Besides, I knew my mom was not totally in favor of it to say the least, and did I really have the right to make such a drastic decision? This would be permanent. But, I remembered, “lead with a yes”. I was making excuses out of fear that wasn’t even mine and I knew it. I had thought this out and it was me who wanted the reminder on my wrist. So after a long pause, I agreed. After all, if it was a mistake, I think I’ve made far greater ones by now.

I left my computer, draft open and all, and we drove down to Venice. I was antsy and nervous but we laughed the whole way there, listening to a new CD my therapist made for me and enjoying the view on PCH. Adrenaline pulsed through my veins as the thrill of change arose. Though there was certainly fear present, it was exciting. As I’ve learned, fear is excitement without breathing, so I took a deep breath (and squeezed my friend’s hand), as I plunged into the unknown, and it was so worth it. The excursion was well worth putting my blog on hold, and now I have a tattoo I’m totally obsessed with! (sorry mom!)

Cheers!

Alexandra

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Do as They Say and as They Do

Having discharged from a residential program for eating disorders less than three months ago, I am taking the first steps out of the womb, out of my darkness, and the first baby steps back into the real world. As it always does, life has offered its ups and downs (and earthquakes), and as I always do, I have felt them with a sensitivity that has, at times, knocked me down. However, in this new life, I have promised to be different.

And so, I have agreed to try something new. Sitting in a therapy group a few weeks ago, after going through a solid run-down of my blues, it was brought to my attention ever-so-gently that maybe, if you close your eyes and tilt your head, I was a little too attached to the negatives. After all, for the first time ever, I have been eating my food and maintaining my weight and living my life, one that might actually classify as a life to other people, also. The question was posed to me, “What if you didn’t have to struggle?” I didn’t know. Though I knew the struggles I had were real and painful, my depression or anxiety or both, at times, really did sweep me off my feet, I also knew that I had joy, that of which I highly underrated.

I was given the task to look only for the brighter things in life. If it dulled or cracked or did pretty much anything other than hurt your eyes to look at, I had to stay away. In an attempt to find a kinder, less embarrassing expression than, “Stop being a Negative Nellie”, my new mission was dubbed, “Look for Shiny Things”. Though I have been hesitant to eliminate an emphasis on what’s wrong, I am taking a leap of faith and trying to live each day as if it were my last, to find a balance of what’s right. Besides, it’s about time I catch up…I have a lot of living to do.

Cheers!

Alexandra