Monthly Archives: May 2007

carnival of eating disorders #6

welcome to this month’s edition of carnival of eating disorders! let’s jump right into it:

at k-l masina, kara-leah wrote a post, mission: physical manifestation overhaul – intro where she and jeff lilly embark on a collaborative blog series to investigate the underlying energetic causes of jeff’s physical manifestation (i.e. body).

their mission is to overhaul him from the inside out – no diets, no controlling, no restrictions…” it’s basically an email exchange between jeff and kara-leah – you have to read this! this is not real life tv, it’s reality blogging. fascinating!

jolynn braley, who always has something interesting to contribute, presents emotions must be heard, they will not go away at her blog the fit shack. this article deals with emotional eating and listening to your emotions, feeling them, instead of eating to stuff them down. it suggests journaling while experiencing your emotions, rather than turning to food.

on the subject of weight loss, dr. hal says that “if you have failed to lose weight, there is something inside of you that is neutralizing your success.” read this entry, as well as his blog post immediately following it.

all of these articles are also interesting in the sense that while they are about overeating, they are really about our relationship with food – so they’re interesting for everyone who wants to deal with an eating disorder.

then we have a review of the book gaining by aimee liu , one of the most widely read books on anorexia.

it’s about aimee liu’s battle with eating. she believed she had conquered anorexia in her twenties, but when her life began spiralling out of control in her forties, she realized she still had issues with eating when she stopped eating altogether.

she also noticed that other women she knew with histories of anorexia and bulimia seemed to share many of her personality traits and habits under stress, even decades after their so-called “recovery.”

next is an entry by paula reed, wondering about the overly restrictive eating habits of a relative. is it orthorexia nervosa, an eating disorder marked by a compulsive concern with eating only the “perfect” food?

i also enjoyed reading henry bagdasarian’s interesting observations in food and credit products are not very different from each other posted at free identity theft prevention, detection and fraud solutions.

i recently observed how food and credit products are similar to each other as i was watching a paid weight loss program on TV. it also reminded me how lucrative it must be for companies to sell us more of both food and credit products and then come to our rescue by offering us other products like diet and debt consolidation programs to resolve the problems that resulted from over consuming their products in the fist place.

after this, let’s go over to kathy at kathy calculates. she presents the article habitual offender:

there’s nothing wrong with eating the grapes, but that little habit grabbed hold so quickly that my head fairly swims at the thought! i’m wondering what will happen on the evening i find myself with no grapes in the freezer. will i substitute something else? is it the grapes i want? or the eating? or am i really just thirsty? is this one of those slippery slopes in the making?

finally there is a submission by scott from finding your marbles. he talks about self-injury, noting that at first glance, the topic may not seem directly related to eating disorders, “but i have been noticing that it is attracting a lot of attention from teenage girls.”

he suspects that there is a lot of crossover between those who self injure and people with eating disorders. i agree with scott, and have posted about this topic previously on understanding self harm.


that concludes this edition. if you have something interesting to contribute (i’d really like to see something about bulimia next time!) submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of eating disorders on june 30, 2007, using our carnival submission form. past posts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

eric maisel’s book tour: focus for artists

today i am one of the stops on eric maisel’s blog tour about his book ten zen seconds, the next step in mindfulness practice. on this book tour, author and creativity coach eric maisal has discussed a wide variety of topics relating to creative work, from writing to fashion design to song writing as well as psychological issues such as stress reduction, going through life transitions and mood disorders.

in our interview today, we will focus on – staying focused.

too many ideas? staying focused on your work

IM: many artists are a constant fount of ideas, images, impressions – often more than they can handle. they often come so thick and hard, it’s difficult to stay focused with anything. i am sure you have helped many artists with this – can you give an example?

EM: the idea behind ten zen seconds is that it is both possible and desirable to get a grip on your own mind and make good decisions about what thoughts you want to entertain. if you are a creative person and working on a particular project, you want to be focused on that project and lost in the trance of working, rather than allowing in other, perhaps interesting but also distracting thoughts.

a creative person needs to complete projects in order to feel successful”having a million thoughts but not having those thoughts amount to anything won’t feel good over time.

so you would use the incantations to keep you focused on your current project and to help you keep stray thoughts at bay. you do this by carefully naming your work, using incantation 3, the name-your-work incantation: for instance, “i am working on chapter 3.” this focuses you on the task at hand and keeps stray thoughts at bay.

in addition, you might use “i am equal to this challenge” to remind yourself that all those other thoughts amount to a kind of challenge and that you are equal to quieting them, letting them go, and sticking with the project at hand.

taking responsibility for the actions of our mind

IM: i like how you talk about carefully naming your work, “keeping stray thoughts at bay” and seeing those thoughts as challenges. now what would you suggest to someone who is so frazzled that half of the time they can’t even remember to use the incantations?

EM: the same thing that i would say to someone who said “i am so frazzled that half the time i don’t remember to pick up my children from school.” i would say, “some things are responsibilities not to be shirked.” it is a person’s responsibility to get a grip on his mind and to think the thoughts that make him most ethical, most efficacious, and “all that he can be.”

naturally he can rationalize away that need for personal responsibility by claiming to be too frazzled to think his own thoughts, but i would not tend to buy into those rationalizations. most of us are not suffering through constant bombardment, famine, and the other horrors of war: we are just leading busy middle class lives that absolutely allow us to think the thoughts that we want to think, among them these incantations, if we choose to take responsibility and think them.

focused breathing and thinking: practice, practice, practice

IM: this is very interesting. it brings up two questions. first, distractibility (which is very similar to, if not the same, as being frazzled) is often seen by psychologists as a relatively stable personality trait. do you disagree with that, then, and how do you help people “get a grip”?

EM: i think it’s both a trait and a state, which to me means the following. you may have a much higher vigilance level than ordinary, maybe for genetic reasons, maybe because you are the survivor of sexual abuse in childhood or for other nurture reasons, and have a harder time concentrating than the next person for what are or have become “trait” reasons.

but even a trait is not a prison sentence. i believe that in the moment traits translate into states that can be noticed, disputed, and managed.

it may be “our nature” to get easily distracted and we can still manifest presence by announcing to ourselves that we intend to take responsibility for our reactions to something even as deep-seated as distractibility. this is what people with “a practice” learn to do: to handle not only their states but their traits, imperfectly, to be sure, but relatively consistently and well.

the ten zen seconds method of attentive breathing and intentional thinking supports this in a particularly simple and particularly useful way.

combining the 12 incantations with the 12 steps

IM: my second question is this. by suggesting that one’s thoughts are a responsibility as important as parenting, you are proposing quite a large paradigm shift, and i find that very intriguing. you give some great examples in your book about how using ten zen seconds have helped people make important changes. can you give an example of how your approach has helped make that paradigm shift?

EM: one of the largest shifts possible is the movement from using to sobriety. i’m currently working on a book with dr. susan raeburn, an addictions specialist, called creative recovery, that outlines how combining breathing-and-thinking practices of the sort described in ten zen seconds with traditional recovery practices, like 12-step programs or their secular equivalent, add up to a more complete recovery program.

that a person deeply hooked on the biological, psychological, and existential level on a substance or behavior can let that substance or behavior go, not just for the moment but for all time, is the very paradigm of a paradigm shift!


if you want to learn more about eric maisel, visit his web site.

this was the second last stop on the ten zen second blog book tour. make sure to go to the last instalment, tomorrow, june 1, at painterly visions, where artist anne marchand will chat with eric about applying ten zen second techniques to help visual artists focus on the daily creation of artwork.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

giving up, effort, and trust

“i still often find myself at a loss for inspiration. i never give up though. on those days that i am discouraged and unmotivated, i try and get away from the daily routine. i put aside the lessons i had planned (as much as is possible to stay within my responsibilities) and i focus on the things that i truly enjoy: guitar, art, poetry, reading, song writing, nature, etc. then i tap into that wonder i have for those things and bridge it to the material i have to teach.”

this is what riley says in response to vivien’s call for inspiration. i was intrigued by this post because it has ramifications for more than just inspiration.

life is wonderful sometimes, sometimes it sucks, and most of the time it kind of just stumbles along. little bits are missing. like inspiration – but other things, too: motivation, passion, drive, time – you name it.

“i never give up.”

it struck me that like so many clichés, when you look beyond the surface, this is quite mysterious. what does it mean to give up? the image i get is of someone letting go of the reigns, letting the horses go wherever they will, and the presumption is that they will go into chaos, or worse.

but somehow i suspect that this is not the right image. it seems somehow that giving up is not so much an action but an attitude, and specifically an attitude about the future. “i don’t believe that the future will bring me what i need/want.”

there are two things involved here: imagination, and trust. the first thing is a difficulty imagining what the future could bring. interestingly, imagination and inspiration are very similar in this sense (and are intrinsically linked) – both are peopled by a repository of ideas, memories and images.

and perhaps you cannot imagine what the future might bring, but you still don’t give up? that’s about trust: “i have no idea what the future will bring but i’ll be alright.”

“i never give up” – that also means, “i’m willing to put in some effort.” as riley puts it so well, that does not at all have to mean the blood, sweat and tears type of effort, the effort that makes you grit your teeth. when riley is discouraged and unmotivated, he is able to muster the trust, energy and wisdom to break out of his routine.

why wisdom? wisdom engenders trust. remember when you were a teenager and you broke up with someone for the first time? it seemed like the end of the world. now that you are wiser, you can look back and see this from a much larger perspective, and see that there was so much more ahead of you. part of the reason why we are able to trust is because we have a perspective that tells us that we have survived so far, chances are we’ll survive again.

because of his trust, energy and wisdom, riley puts effort into enjoyment; he directs his intention and attention to things that nourish him: guitar, art, poetry, reading, song writing, nature. and his effort is rewarded. rewarded with wonder. and he is inspired – he receives what he was missing.

if you’re interested in what the other participants of this blog writing project on inspiration have to say, go to vivien’s web site or click on one of the links below. i am also honoured that this article was mentioned in the carnival of healing #89.
isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

  1. 5 Sources Of Inspiration in Photography b Brian Auer
  2. Seeing Life Through The Eyes Of Inspiration by Andrew Rickmann
  3. Sources Of Inspiration For Your Blog by Simonne Matthew.
  4. Inspiration For Blogging by Ronald Huereca.
  5. Webmaster Blog Inspiration by Lee Robertson.
  6. Reliable Sources Of Inspiration for Inspiration Bit by Vivien.
  7. Inspiration For Design And Advertising by Tara.
  8. Finding Inspiration At The Top Of A Ladder by Rory.
  9. Frustration Is A Source of Inspiration by Bes.
  10. Graphic Designer’s Snapshots of Inspiration by Lauren Krause
  11. Sources Of Inspiration For A Young Blogger by Shankar Ganesh
  12. Get your creativity back: the old fashion way by Mirko.
  13. Storyteller’s Muse by Shelly.
  14. What Inspires A Graphic Designer by David Airey.
  15. Defining Inspiration by Jenny MCB.
  16. Sources Of Inspiration for Observers by Pearl.
  17. A Tribute To All Mothers by Jacklyn.
  18. Teaching, Inspiration, and Rock’n Roll by Damien Riley.
  19. Sources Of Inspiration From DailyBlogTips – interview with Daniel Scocco.
  20. Inspiration From Your Future Self by Kate Hudson.
  21. The Roots Of Inspiration by Isabella Mori.
  22. Please God, Bless The Mess by Rosemarie.
  23. Inspired To Write by Marcia.
  24. Inspired By One Minute Miracle by Lewis Bass.
  25. Motivation And Inspiration for A Hobbyist by Joey.
  26. Postcards Of Inspiration by Paulie.
  27. The Little Successes Along The Way by Carolyn Manning.
  28. The Really Simple Domino Effect by Hamelife
  29. Questioning Inspiration by Nanny Molly.
  30. Inspiration or Despair That is the Question by Joey.
  31. Sources Of Inspiration For Writing by Yvonne Russell.
  32. Life on Hysteria Lane by The Rock Chick.
  33. Inspired By People by Jacob Share.
  34. They Showed Me How To Find Release by Carolyn.
  35. Crazy Wisdom Inspiration by Pamm
  36. Sources Of Inspiration For Life and Blogging by Dj Flush

gardening a good life: 8 shovelfuls of ideas

thanks, reikiblogger, for including my post relax in saturday’s carnival of healing. among the other carnival participants, i really resonated with debra moorhead’s what gardening has taught me about life.

she finds “gardening to be as good as meditation, but more delicious!” yes! whenever i’m at my wit’s end, i can always go into the garden, pluck a few weeds, see how the irises are doing, make sure there are no aphids on the roses. or just be there.

debra gives us a long list things that gardening has taught her. the 9 that really stood out to me were these:

  1. prepare the garden site with a good tilling. everything grows better in loose soil, so shake things up a bit. every onceblog-garden.jpg in a while, “till” your mind, body, and spirit.
  2. it can take years to develop a good system. (my comment: i remember when i first started gardening it seemed like i would never get anywhere. today, my garden is one of my greatest sources of joy and pride)
  3. be careful who you take advice from. not everyone who claims to be an expert knows what they’re talking about.
  4. watering saves a world of hurt. your body needs water as well. most of us don’t realize it until we’re thirsty, which most physicians agree, is usually at our dehydration point. so give yourself and your garden a good watering every day.
  5. treat each plant the way it wants to be treated. (my comment: that includes the tender plant that is you).
  6. ask for help when you need it. most of us need a little support every once in a while. the heavier our load, the more support we need. (my comment: imagine hauling loads and loads of dirt from one end of the garden to another. doesn’t life feel like that sometimes? how much easier to have someone share that load.)
  7. sometimes, you just have to scrap the whole thing and start over.
  8. death always gives way to life. as the leaves fall off the trees, i have them spread onto the fall garden. in the spring, the leaves make the tilling a lot easier, the soil richer, and the plants healthier. it’s all just one gigantic circle of life.

to enjoy the full fruit of debra’s post, go here.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

dismantling an eating disorder: a therapist’s view

a little while i promised i would go into a bit more detail about some of the submissions to last month’s carnival of eating disorders. here is an article by msempower, entitled how to dismantle an eating disorder.

i’ve lived much of my life in search of a cure for my eating disorder. i’ve ventured into countless bookstores perusing the self-help, addiction and psychology sections. sound familiar? over time i read each of these books in hopes of finding the directions to dismantle my eating disorder. in fact, i did enough research to award myself an unofficial phd in eating disorder studies.

many people with long-term difficulties are extraordinarily knowledgeable in their “field”. a wise therapist will always take that into account. as a therapist, my job is to help the client make sense of it, help her design and follow a roadmap for change, and provide information that may not have been covered in the client’s research – for example, background on some types of family therapy that are used in dealing with anorexia. and … well, we’ll talk about that in a moment.

unfortunately, at this stage of my eating disorder, i hadn’t yet given myself permission to see the wisdom and insightful messages that lay within each of these books. and, to be honest, i was too malnourished to make sense of much of what i was reading.

it is amazing how often clients suffer from a lack of the basics. a person who is in a state of constant hypoglycemia cannot think straight. a parent whose child is going through a difficult time may not be overly motivated to concentrate on his overeating issues. it’s important to always ask, are all the bases covered? where are we on maslow’s hierarchy of needs?blog-maslow-mtholyoke-edu.jpg

looking back at myself 15 years ago, my external search was my way of emotionally detaching myself from my disorder; avoiding the painful feelings that lay buried within . the little girl overwhelmed with guilt because she doesn’t feel deserving of her parents’ sacrifices. the insecure 7th grader who never felt she quite fit-in. the student who defined herself through her academic success. the employee who equivocated praise with self-worth. the woman who after years of living with her eating disorder had lost her sense of self

yes, all this research can be quite futile if we don’t also engage in self-research – soul searching, reflection. a person can be an amazing expert – but if they don’t know themselves, it’s very difficult to make changes. you don’t have to necessarily know absolutely everything about yourself, you don’t need to become a narcissistic navel gazer – but if you don’t know your basic layout, you don’t even know what needs to be changed.

so – as a therapist, my job is also to help people become experts in themselves.

it looks like msempower is doing a great job in getting to know herself:

the more i allowed myself to see the whole 360 degrees of me” the goodness and confidence along with the fear and insecurity, the closer i got to recovery road.

exactly: it’s expertise in yourself – not just any “eating disorder case”. every person is different, has different needs, talents, strengths, weaknesses. msempower recognizes that:

i’d give you a copy of my directions, but unfortunately they won’t be of much help. since your eating disorder is different from mine, our directions are different as well. they may have similarities. in fact, i have an instinct that they all look like a chutes & ladders game board. in the end, we all have different ladders to climb and different chutes that will prolong our trip.

thanks, msempower, for sharing your journey with us!

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

the roots of inspiration

vivien, who i know through my favourite women’s networking group, SWAN, is hosting a group writing project around the theme of inspiration. after having participated in aaron potts’ fabulous group writing project on the theme of success, i am all fired up to talk about this one, too! (and it’s interesting that this was also a topic in a guest blog entry for quasifictional)

inspiration comes to me from just about anywhere. my father, a painter, writer, philosopher and actor, may be at the source of that. i remember once seeing him, pulp fiction whodunit in his hand, staring into space. “what’s up?” i asked. he went on to explain this very interesting philosophical insight he had just had (too bad i forgot what it was). i said to him, “and you got it from reading that??”

“of course!” he replied, “everything is a source of inspiration!” this is the same man who would sometimes urge me not to throw out bottlecaps – “keep it! it can always be used in a collage!”

in a sense, then, maybe my father is my ultimate source of inspiration. he showed me that everything is worthy of contemplation; everything, no matter how small, commonplace, used or cheap has an important place in the world, and can serve as a place of departure for art, thought, action. everything can be a trigger.

i am writing this as i am sitting on the bus, heading to the alliance for arts and culture. the bus just stopped in front of a café, called rhizome. rhizome, in botany, is a type of root. one of my father’s pet philosophical ideas in his later years was the philosophy of rhizome.

everything is connected, says this philosophy. going beyond, or perhaps expanding on, the buddhist idea that all living beings are connected, it says that ideas, as well, perhaps even thoughts, are connected – each idea, each thought touching on other thoughts and ideas in multiple ways, and much of it “underground”, like the grass roots in your front lawn.

i remember how excited my father was about this. that was years before the internet. now we have this network of people-ideas-thoughts right in front of us. one mouse click leads to another, to another, to another. little roots connecting.

inspiration is all about making connections. about being willing to make connections. when inspiration “doesn’t come”, it’s not because it’s not there. there is more “there” than we could ever cope with (more roots than we can ever see). inspiration, then, is about being willing to being open to whatever presents itself, being willing and having the courage, playfulness, curiosity and trust to follow the connections. you never know where that bottlecap might lead you.

(it also takes focus and discipline, otherwise we’re going to follow every single bottlecap. this is a challenge i will be discussing with eric maisel, on my part of the ten zen seconds blog tour on may 31).

for now, i’m happy that i was the success group writing project led me to the reasoner, where i serendipitously ran into vivien, which led me to her group writing project. serendipity, often considered part of inspiration, doesn’t happen all on its own – you have to be willing to open the door to it, recognize it when it comes through, and to take the trouble to follow it.

thanks to my father for encouraging me to do just that.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

jack walks down the street

jack walks down the street, whistling to himself. he turns left. there is a sign somewhere. he walks further down that street. he makes another turn, to the right. there is another sign, “dead end street”. whistle, whistle, whistle. he keeps on walking. another sign that proclaims, “this is a dead end street!” whistle, whistle, yeah, okay, it’s a dead end street. jack keeps up a brisk pace. another sign, “this is a dead end street with a big, nasty brick wall!!”

big, nasty brick wall, huh? interesting. he thinks about that a little bit, still whistling, still marching on, his arms swinging, his legs eating the pavement like there’s no tomorrow. he takes a moment out of his busy walking and whistling and generally moving like he was going to ram the world like a tank, he takes a moment to look up, and sure enough, there is a big, nasty brick wall almost right in front of him. well, no reason to slow down, is there?


bad story, you probably think. that was predictable at least 1/3 of the way through!



and you know what? it’s not as if jack doesn’t know that story, either. he’s been down that road, oh gosh, i don’t know how many times. it’s predictable – and yet it happens over and over again.
this is jack’s version of the famous “i walk down the street” poem (an autobiography in five chapters, by portia nelson)

remember when we were talking about writing our own story, a while back?

we have a choice now.

we can interpret jack’s story any old way we want. we can say, geesh, what an idiot, this jack. we can say, jack has a big problem, and he needs to go get fixed.

if we say, “what an idiot”, we condemn him. if we say “he needs to get fixed”, in a way we also condemn him: to reach for an unattainable state of perfection.

another reaction could be to congratulate jack on his strength and perseverance – after all, with all these smacks in the head, lots of others would have given up. not jack! no, he’s still willing to go down the road – heck, any road at all! we could try and learn from his willingness to get up and keep walking.

we could also get it that jack is our brother, or maybe, that he’s us, ourselves. we could walk up to him, sit beside him as he holds his head, offer him an aspirin, and walk with him. and maybe, just maybe, next time there is a sign that says “dead end”, we’ll have two heads, and one of us can nudge the other and say, “hey, wasn’t there a sign just now? wanna go back and check what it says?”

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver