Monthly Archives: December 2007

carnival of eating disorders #12

hello and welcome to the last carnival of eating disorders for 2007. this time around, it’s a “pure” carnival – i’ve only included those submissions that talk directly and unmistakenly about eating disorders. i’ll invite the other submissions to participate in the progressive dinner carnival next month. (yes, i know, that’s a bit ironic, isn’t it? let’s just say that we’re looking at food and eating from multiple perspectives.)

our featured article on anorexia is carrie’s track meet at ED bites

when you’re a recovering anorexic in a culture of whacked-out dieters, you are going downhill while everyone else is going up. the scales, calorie counters, diet pills, workout machines, buy one get one free gym memberships- those are like me climbing uphill. losing weight and starving is oddly natural for me. when i get stressed, my appetite evaporates, and the cycle begins. to get out of that cycle, i have to do the unnatural. i have to eat. a lot. especially food (like super premium ice cream) that is generally frowned upon in most of the rest of society.

so while everyone else is looking to get to the pinnacle of diet mania, i am going to the bottom, where the air is better, the plants are bigger, and yeah, the hiking sucks.

we also have an interview by talia mann with vanessa vega, who wrote a book about her recovery from anorexia and self harm.

at are you “eating with your anorexic?” laura collins, a proponent of the maudsley approach to eating disorders therapy, talks about the difference between family therapy and family-based therapy.

finally, jezebel presents scientific findings on the causes of anorexia: researchers believe that there must be something about the female hormones that fetuses are exposed to during development that encourages the development of anorexia later in life.

therapydoc, witty as always, has a very good suggestion for what to do when overcome by cravings or assaulted by the mounds of food we’re dealing with this time of year

the problem: tis the season to eat like crazy. i understand that starting october 31, eating season begins. most of humankind gains a few to a thousand pounds by january 2. in the northern climes it’s fatten up to melt the snow …

the solution: let us consider the nap. the nap is perhaps the most under-rated, yet effective way to stop a binge,napping away a binge and it need not be a cat nap (short) or a sexual nap (preferably long). it can just be a nap. and you can reach for the sack in a minute, seriously, crawl right under that afghan and close those baby blues, refresh your rhodopsin and reboot your head. and it costs nothing.

more articles on the topic of overeating, by lucynda:
the truth about convenience food
why that size 3 could kill you

exercise bulimia
peach friedman talks about the five characteristics of exercise bulimia

exercise bulimia is so difficult to diagnose, and so under-diagnosed, in part because of this fine line. we know that movement is healthy for bodies. we know that it’s healthy for our bones, our organs, our skin, our self-esteem, our energy level. for these reasons, you might argue that some of the characteristics i identify as being symptoms of exercise bulimia could actually be signs of a healthy, disciplined person seeking movement in their day to day life. many professionals, for example, actually recommend parking far away from the mall and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. so how do you distinguish the disordered behavior from the healthy behavior? motivation.

body image
two articles on this topic. this one is about an annual study in australia of almost 30,000 people aged between 11 and 24. it has found – for the first time – that body image has become the main concern for females and males.

about a third of people listed it as a worry, ahead of family conflict and coping with stress.

mission australia’s manager of research anne hampshire says the survey results possibly reflect changes in society during the last 12 months.

“we’ve got much more of a focus as a nation on the number of australians who are overweight, including young australians,” she said.

“at the other end of the spectrum we’ve got an increasing focus, i think, on body beautiful and what constitutes an acceptable and a healthy body.

“in fact, what’s been presented as ultra thin probably isn’t a healthy body for most of us. so, i think young people are getting a bit caught in between these two potentially conflicting messages.

and the second article? that’s funny – it was submitted by shaheen lakhan and it’s one i wrote for GNIF brain blogger, on body image research. word gets around – literally!

i want to thank all of you who have participated in this carnival so far. i’ve learned a lot and met many interesting people.

so, all you interesting people, readers and bloggers alike: what would you like to read in this carnival in the new year? how would you like it to evolve in 2008?

in the meantime, if any of you has anything to contribute to this carnival, please use this submission form.

(image by heather)

anorexia and the six ways of the bodhisattva

on our somewhat eventful drive back from kelowna, i lost, for the second time, my copy of pema chodron’s the places that scare you. i think the little book fell out when i got out of the car after we had just ploughed into a snow bank in order to avoid a collision (don’t worry, we’re fine, and some good people helped us dig out the car and put it back onto the slippery coquihalla highway).

fortunately, most of what pema chodron says is easy to find on the web. the chapter that i’m going to refer to is here, in an abbreviated version, under the title the heart of the bodhisattva. chodron calls it the

bodhisattva-warrior, one who is brave and confident enough to overcome self-centeredness in order to help others.

we practice and study to sharpen this [bodhisattva] mind so that we can know what is appropriate action. taking the appropriate action is a powerful tool: in one moment we can cross into the mind of enlightenment.

the way we proceed on this path is with prajna, the inquisitive mind that sees the wisdom in each situation. there are six ways to do this … they’re called paramitas, a sanskrit word that means “that which has reached other shore.” [prajna is the first or sixth paramita, depending on how you look at it – isabella]

[one] paramita is generosity … with generosity we overcome attachment.

next is discipline. with discipline we know what to accept and what to reject. the way we use discipline to transport us to the other shore in a moment is to look at our mind, speech and activity with this question, “is this taking me toward enlightenment or suffering?”

the next paramita is patience … it overcomes anger … if we’re about to blow up, the best thing to do is just sit there, settle, breathe.

the next paramita is exertion [in the book she calls it ‘enthusiasm’], which has an element of joy … going beyond ourselves brings pleasure.

the fifth paramita is meditation. with the practice of meditation we discover our mind’s inherent stability, clarity and strength.

as i was reading this, i was thinking of people with anorexia. how could these paramitas apply? does any one of them offer an obvious entry point to recovery? (i say ‘obvious’ because our minds’ and hearts’ ways are mysterious and of course anything and everything has the potential to be an entry point to recovery – there are 84,000 ways to hear the dharma.)

one of the things i like to so much about pema chodron is that she talks in such a delightful way about our imperfections. one such imperfection is that many of us come to a sense of spirituality not out of “pure” motives but because we’re wildly thrashing about for a way out of our misery.

it occurs to me, then, that if a person who is looking for a way out and whose anorexia shows itself in self-negation and a well-developed sense of self-control, might find the paramita of discipline attractive. maybe also long sessions of zazen (sitting meditation).

for someone who is more advanced in his or her recovery from anorexia, i’m sure it’s much easier to look at all the paramitas, perhaps even the idea of pleasure (something so difficult with anorexia …)

you can tell that i’ve never had a buddhist client who was struggling with anorexia 🙂

where am i going with this? i don’t know. but for some reason i’m intrigued by the connection that could be made here. maybe some of the people in tomorrow’s carnival of eating disorders will be able to shine a light on it.

the only other blogger i could find who talked about pema chodron in relation to anorexia is anne at waiting for the rebirth of wonder. anne, what do you say?

come join us for dinner

next month i’ll be hosting the appetizer course of a progressive dinner blog carnival! i’ve never been to a progressive dinner until the main host, kilroy, explained it to me. you start out at one house or restaurant to have hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, then move on to a different one for appetizers, and continue moving from place to place all the way through dessert.

that’s the idea behind the soup to nuts progressive dinner blog carnival. this one-time-only blog carnival will be presented in five “courses”, each with a different host. we’re inviting submissions to each carnival now. dinner will be served on wednesday, january 30th.

oh, and if you’re new-ish to the blogosphere, you probably wonder what a blog carnival is. elizabeth gives a good description:

it’s a mini-magazine around a certain topic, or for a certain audience or purpose, where the articles are links to blogs and other resources, contributed by people all over the world.

what i’ll do on my blog here is that we’ll enhance the dinner with conversation. that’s the best part of dinner out, isn’t it? so please, whether you have a blog or not, visit here on january 30 from 6pm to 8pm pacific time, and enjoy lively conversation in our comment area. this is quite exciting – one of the things i have on my blog goals for this year is more reader interaction. for example, i love netchick’s mid-week socializing game, and i can’t wait until i have the time to participate in liz strauss’ famous tuesday open mic. so this dinner gives us all a fabulous opportunity to try it out.

if you have a blog, please feel free to submit one post, per blog, on any subject. please do not use any post more than once. you can participate in 1, 2, 3, 4 or all 5 courses.

the hors d’oeuvres & cocktails course…
will be served at fear and loathing – the gonzo papers. email your entry for the hors d’oeuvres & cocktails course to kilroy60 at gmail (dot) com. (submission guidelines are below – they’re totally straightforward, don’t worry)

the appetizer course…
will be served at here at change therapy. email your entry for the appetizer course to me at moritherapy at shaw (dot) ca. please have your submissions for the appetizer in by midnight, january 27.

the first course…
will be served at fallen words. email your entry for the first course to Sara at: ilovetowriteSMP (at) yahoo (dot) com.

the main course…
will be served at anja merret – chatting to my generation. email your entry for the main course to anja at anja at hqlondon (dot) net

the dessert …
will be served at fiction scribe. email your entry for the dessert course to jm at sylver1 at tpg (dot) com (dot) au

submission guidelines
your entry should include…
“(-)-> the subject line “progressive dinner”
“(-)-> your name as you want it to appear
“(-)-> the name of your blog
“(-)-> the corresponding url
“(-)-> the title of your post
“(-)-> the corresponding url

if you submit to more than one course or from more than one blog, please send one email each.

the rules are simple…
1. only english language posts
2. no posts that include profanity, or text or pictures of a sexual nature (although, at least if it’s for my blog, there’s nothing wrong if it discusses sexuality in a mature, non-pornographic manner. let’s just say that i reserve the right to accept or reject a post for whatever reasons i deem fit).

transformative learning: making the world a better place

i’m really taking you guys for a ride here. compassion, families, spamming buddhists – and now a little bit of educational research. i guess in my minds it all hangs together: it’s all about how people make a better life for themselves, and a better world for everyone.

so … today we have part three in the four-part series on change and transformation from my research on transformative learning in adult learning. in part one, we had looked at the time before the transformation, in part two at the moment of transformation itself, and today we’ll discuss the time immediately following the transformation.

it is the time that people who have changed look back and measure, each in their own way, how far they have come. one research particpant said this:

if someone had told me in 1980 that i would be in law school in 2004, i would have laughed for an hour straight … i think i am one of those individuals that need to mature before appreciating higher education.

this can be seen as a reference to a developmental theme and also brings up the question of whether there is a certain emotional and/or intellectual maturity needed to recognize and make use of opportunities for significant learning.

the following quote reminds of mezirow’s discussion of rational discourse, a central aspect of transformative learning. it comes from an interviewee whose world opened up because now she feels so much better educated and informed and takes great delight in being able to conduct intelligent conversations:

i think more before i talk. i am more sensitive to people’s needs. i take time to reflect and am able to give my opinion in a well thought out manner.

mezirow’s insistence on rational discourse can be traced to one of the two most important influences on transformation theory, juergen habermas (the other one being paolo freire). he coined the terms ‘communicative action‘ and ‘communicative learning’. this is in contrast to ‘instrumental learning’, which is a type of learning that, metaphorically speaking, puts one building block of learning on top of another but never builds a new building (or asks where the building blocks come from). communicative learning is about

[understanding] what others mean and [making] ourselves understood as we attempt to share ideas through speech, the written word, plays, moving pictures, television, and art … it involves understanding, describing, and explaining intentions; values; ideals; moral issues; social, political, philosophical, psychological, or educational concepts; feelings and reasons. (mezirow, 1991, p. 75)

in parenthesis, it appears that for the interviewee quoted above, there was quite a bit of informational learning involved in coming to this communicative learning or action. this aside, this interviewee’s quote exemplifies one of the main aims of the original driving forces behind transformative learning: the emancipatory, radical humanism found in habermas’s and freire’s work that so much informs mezirow. in very crude terms, the aim is to make the world a better place, and the way to do it is to harness educational forces (the humanist part) for emancipatory purposes (the radical part).

through education, this person gained the freedom to express herself, and to extend a similar freedom to others as she listens to them expressing themselves. many will agree that when such communication is lacking, interpersonal, social, and political problems arise.

three family blessings

christmas day. after a nice walk through the winter snow here in kelowna, we just came back from one of our numerous big traditional family get-togethers during the holiday season. once again i’m struck by how easygoing and friendly my husband’s big clan is. what are they doing right?

snow on a kelowna winter night

  1. they are tolerant – and it’s a tolerance that, i’m sure, doesn’t always come easy. when the kids grew up, for example, i assume grandma and grandpa didn’t envision that most of them were going to marry outside of their ethnic origin.
  2. they keep gossip to a minimum, and it’s never mean. people talk, of course, and in every family there are things that ask for commentary. but i’ve never heard a “can you believe …”. never heard any juicy details dragged through the mud.
  3. they don’t burden people with big expectations. i never felt that i “had” to do anything. some people help with the dishes, others don’t. some send christmas cards, others don’t. there might be some mild eyebrow raising once in a while when a wish is not fulfilled – but no biggie, it’s all good.

i’m very grateful to be part of this family. and i wish you all that you, too, can experience a tolerant, discreet and uncomplicated family life.

(photo by LN)

(this article was included in the gonzo gratitude carnival

merry christmas, spammers!

beautiful christmas lights over the citya few years ago on easter, first united church in vancouver’s downtown eastside carried a cross through the neighbourhood. it was a big, simple cross – and there were needles stuck all over it. the christ of the drug addicts. an image i will never forget.

there is much about the message of the new testament that i don’t comprehend. one thing that i get, though, is that jesus hung out and opened his arms to the underdogs – nah, to the dogs that were so low, they were kicked by the underdogs. he offered himself to the lowest and dumbest of thieves, to the cheapest of hookers, to the stinkiest of lepers.

if christmas is where this message of peace, hope, joy and love began, then to whom would jesus direct his message on the internet? who are the lowest of the low?

the spammers, the child pornographers, the trolls, the nigerian scammers.

peace, hope, joy and love to the nigerian scammers, many of whom are motivated by the desperation that grows in countries riddled with unimaginable poverty, disease and violence.

peace, hope, joy and love to the child pornographers, many of whom are driven by an appetite they don’t know how to control, and many of whom have had disturbing experiences when they were children. there but for the grace of god go those of us who have experienced some healing around such experiences.

peace, hope, joy and love to the trolls, who want to be part of the blogging community. they have strong opinions and strong feelings. they do something that many of us would secretly like to do – just blurt it all out.

and peace, hope, joy and love to the spammers, who are driven by a desire to find the pot of gold at the end of the internet rainbow. haven’t most of us had dreams like this, in one shape or another?

i don’t know any of you – spammers, child pornographers, nigerian scammers, trolls. again, that is the sign of the lowest of the low – they are nameless, faceless, we have no connection with them. so how can i reach out? how can we connect? how can we get to know each other? i was going to say, how can i reach out without getting hurt? but i don’t remember jesus saying that. so reaching out is risky …

perhaps a small risk i can incur is to let my guard down for even a moment. i think i’ll disable akismet for a few minutes. let at least some spammers in. see if there is a way of connecting.

merry christmas to all.

(photo by darcie of interestingness)