a hope design

Archive for the ‘Being Healthy’ Category

The cart and horse scenario

In Being Healthy on March 20, 2014 at 8:15 pm

Picture for a second a horse pushing a cart up a hill. First of all, the horse would have to be trained a bit extra, I’m sure. Then you’re working against physics. Not to mention, I’m not sure there is even a horse pushing harness contraption. You might eventually get there, but it’s going to be a pain in the ass, fraught with delays.

It’s not going to work as well as harnessing the horse and letting it PULL the cart up the hill.

cartoon horse laughing

“So how YOU doin’, sexy lady?”

Women every day are taking part in a similar exercise in frustration, and we have been for decades. We try to make self-hate motivate us to squeeze into an irrational standard set by a distorted societal opinion. Let’s all face it. Society’s opinion of what is beauty is distorted by media, by Photoshop’d images in fashion magazines, not reality. We and OUR CHILDREN, our DAUGHTERS, are paying the price. But I digress…

Self-hate is never going to be successful in anything but breeding obsession, yo-yo dieting and eating disorders. Changing from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one happens slowly.

Major change is incremental. It doesn’t happen overnight. Self-love is the only way you can sustain slow, permanent change. You have to love yourself even if it takes a year for regular exercise to become a habit. You have to love yourself even if you make unhealthy food choices along the way. You have to love yourself in order to not cross over into the unhealthy practice of purging or obsessive diet restrictions (both unhealthy!).

I’ve played out the self-hate scenario many times in my life. Let me tell you how it goes:

I wake up from the pits of depression by somehow convincing myself that I can do it THIS time. Somewhere in the depths of my being, I’ve found the motivation to NEVER EAT sugar or bread EVER AGAIN. I just know that THIS time the weight is going to go away for good…and fast. That’s what the book said. It will be FAST. Good thing because if I have to spend one more minute in this disgusting body, I’m going to puke. I don’t even want to be seen in public. Hide all the mirrors and stay away from reflective surfaces.

One problem — weight-loss isn’t fast. Sometimes, the less you eat, the slower your metabolism crawls. This is how it is in my world. I am a miracle of natural selection. My ancestors must have survived some serious famine because my body can function and retain weight on unbelievably small amounts of food.

Two weeks into my sugar and starch free world I feel like life is out to get me. “Why is it that I have to restrict myself so much when all these thin people are eating hamburgers and drinking cokes? I haven’t had a soda in over two years. I live on beans and raw vegetables. I haven’t had ice cream in forever. Bacon? What is bacon? Hell, I only eat meat twice a week. Why does the scale still say the same thing?” I’m depressed, discouraged, and bitter.

I go home and eat a pint of Moollenium Crunch because I feel like shit. Then I feel even more like shit for eating the ice cream. Then I hate myself even more. Next thing you know, I feel as if I can’t get up in the morning. Life has lost its luster, and I am having difficulty getting through my normal and necessary routine of working and being a mother.

My biggest fear last year was that if I loved myself and quit judging myself, I’d be a fat, unattractive whale my whole life. For a person who hates themselves, that thought is like being sentenced to an eternity in hell. If you truly love yourself, that may not be such a bad thing.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: a lot of skinny women hate their bodies too. If you are a body/self-hater, being thinner isn’t going to solve the problem. You just go from a miserable big person to a miserable small person. New wardrobe, same problems.

Fat is Not Evil

What’s so wrong with being a big person? There are pros and cons, but is it wrong? Isn’t it true that there are heavy people who are happy, secure and live fulfilled lives? It is. What’s the difference between having a body that is exceptional at conserving energy and being born with a club foot or frizzy hair? All three are considered unattractive by our glamorous society, but only one is considered evil.

Our society demonizes fat cells. If a person’s fat cells are in storage mode, they immediately are considered slovenly, lazy, unmotivated, lacking self-control, less intelligent…you name it. It’s just fat cells in storage mode, conserving energy for future use. It is impossible to know a person’s character traits by the size of their fat cells. There are MANY factors that contribute to the size of a person’s body. MANY. Regardless of the factors, a person’s size is not WHO they are. Period.

Fat limits what you can do physically. Fat can affect your heart health. Fat can contribute high blood pressure. A lot of fat can make you uncomfortable in theater seats and on airplanes. Fat contributes to Type 2 diabetes. Fat can make running while wearing corduroy awkward and noisy. Fat is not evil. Fat, at one time in history, was ATTRACTIVE. Fat is attractive in some cultures TODAY. GASP!

Would it kill you to accept and have compassion on your fat cells today?

If you knew that accepting and having compassion for yourself was the first step — the KEY — to being more fully healthy, free of obsession, and on the track for a fulfilled and satisfied life, could you give yourself a break and just relax?

Why don’t you try it today? See how it feels.

Advertisements

STOP…just stop!

In Being Healthy on March 19, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Enough of the self-hate. It has to end, for us and for our daughters.

My nine-year-old, beautiful, willowy daughter talks about fat. She asks if she’s fat. SHE’s NINE!!! I have obsessed and mourned about my figure in her presence in the past, but no more. I refuse to call my body any negative term in her presence ever again. IT. HAS. TO. STOP!

shutterstock stop sign

Remember the lady with the white buzz cut? STOP the INSANITY!

I blame on the society in which we live today. Our society has gone off the deep end with the obsession of thin and beautiful. We are teaching our young girls to have body image issues from birth. It is sickening. We, as a nation, should be ashamed. Fixing the obesity epidemic starts here.

When did weight trump valuing a person’s intellect, integrity, valor, and sense of duty and right or wrong? When did we begin to place more stock in person’s size than their ability to hold a conversation? I think it happened long before I was born.

The sad, sick joke of it all is that it is impossible to be truly healthy while hating one’s body. Hating your body leads to obsession. The dieting mentality either leads to obsession or is born out of obsession. I can’t decide which came first — the diet, the body-hate, or the obsession. The more I hate my body, the more I obsess about being thin, the more likely I am to mindlessly overeat because I feel depressed and hopeless. Vicious cycle.

I came across an awesome blog, Sophieologie. This is what Sophie has to say, and I can totally relate. This IS me:

For the record: Teenage girls are so goddamn moody because they are always fucking hungry. I guarantee you that every teenage girl’s angst is amplified ~300% because she is 1) miserable because she’s on a diet and hungry 2) miserable because she’s “on a diet” but just ate a cake and feels really guilty and is considering regurgitating it 3) miserable because she’s given up on dieting and resigned herself to being “fat”. And why do we do this to ourselves?

Because we want to be thin and beautiful.

I have lived my life either compulsively eating to stuff down my feelings or obsessively dieting to kill the body I hate. For once, I want to live life without a thought to my body, my size or the food I’m eating. I want to be OKAY inside my own skin and accept myself. I want to be TRULY healthy.

Just think of all the brain power we are wasting continually obsessing about the size of our physical shell. Let’s divert that wasted thought to finding a cure for cancer or ending world hunger…something meaningful.

Real, honest-to-god health starts in the mind. 

Are you aware of that voice in your head? Do you know what I’m talking about? Psychologists call it the pathological critic.

Here’s an excerpt from chapter two of Self-Esteem by Mathew McKay, Ph.D and Patrick Fanning:

The pathological critic is a term coined by psychologist Eugene Sagan to describe the negative inner voice that attacks and judges you. Everyone has a critical inner voice. But people with low self-esteem tend to have a more vicious and vocal pathological critic.

Let me tell you, folks, that voice in my head has been known to be a mean S-O-B. The first step in being truly healthy is to STOP the negative inner dialogue. It’s not just me. I’ve listened to enough THIN women to know they have as much self-hate and negative inner dialogue as I do, maybe more.

STOP. Just STOP.

For a moment, think about a typical southern grandma or mother. Her toddler is about to head for the breakables and she makes that universal “no” sound that’s a mix between a goat and a buzzer. “Nah!” Y’all know what sound I’m talking about. Next time your inner voice starts it up, I want you to stop it with a “Nah!” or a hand clap or a pinch or something to shut it up…mid-sentence.

“Oh, my god! My thighs!…” NAH!

“Is my arm fat jiggling…” STOP!

“Ugghhh! I should NEVER wear these pants…” NAH!

“God, I hope I don’t look that fat…” SHUT UP!

“Look how thin she is! Why can’t I…” SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP!

Have you listened to the song Perfect by P!nk. “Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel like your less than, less than perfect!” Stop judging yourself. Stop comparing yourself to other women. Stop being so hard on yourself. Show yourself some love and compassion.

You are beautiful and worthy of love RIGHT THIS SECOND…as is!

This is the first step to being truly happy and healthy. Physical health starts with mental health, and obsessing about your weight is not mentally healthy. Don’t get the cart before the horse. Fix this first.

Whitney, girl, you were so right!

In Being Healthy on March 12, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Okay. So it’s about feelings not food. What does that mean?

It means that  I will diet, lose, regain, repeat over and over to the ends of the earth, unless I learn to deal with my feelings, my emotions.

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, dieting is a miserable practice. I didn’t want to diet again, ever. I wanted to find out how well-adjusted, average sized people eat to maintain a normal, healthy weight. I was curious and frightened to find out what size I would be if it were not for the emotional eating. I actually enjoy healthy foods…on days that I’m happy and stress-free.

We live in these amazing bodies that work like fine-tuned machinery, moving, breathing, walking, talking, thinking. Surely a well-functioning organism such as the human body has a built-in way to maintain the necessary size and weight to survive and thrive, right? Scientists say there are specific hormones that act on our brains and tell us when we are hungry and when we are full and satisfied. There is even some suggestion that cravings are triggered by lack of certain nutrients found in the foods that we crave. What messages do hunger and fullness give us if not to tell us when to eat and when to refrain?

I love me!

Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

Geneen Roth found that when she tuned into her body while eating and learned to hear the cues of satiation and satisfaction, she became her “normal” healthy weight. She has not dieted since and remains that size. So did Dr. Karen R. Koening. Reading the accounts of these authors’ experiences blew my mind. Could that work for me? Could it be as easy as paying attention?

The idea of giving up dieting scared the crap out of me. I have been dieting since second grade. It is a way of life for me, that battle to be thin that is never quite won. What if I stop dieting and become as big as a whale? Paralyzing fear.

Why?

A way to discover what drives us is to keep asking why until you reach a core belief. (Discovering an irrational core belief and replacing it with a rational belief will transform your life.)

Why are you afraid to stop dieting? Because I’ll get fatter. 

Why are you afraid of getting fatter? Because I hate being fat.

Why do you hate being fat? Because fat people are unlovable.

Ahhh! So you believe that no one will love you if you’re fat!

BINGO!

I HAVE to keep dieting and strive to be thin because no one is going to love me until I am. If I’m at least trying to be thin, it will justify my existence. Somewhere along the way, I was taught that in order to be lovable, I must be thin. Since I have been obsessed with food and my weight since I was eight years old, I learned that lesson pretty early on.

I learned to hate myself. I learned to hate my body.

Before I could go a step farther, I had to learn to love myself. Could I set aside my NEED to be thin RIGHT NOW in order to learn to love myself just the way I am?

That wasn’t going to be easy, but as Whitney said, it is the greatest love of all.

It’s not about the food!

In Being Healthy on March 10, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Coming to the conclusion that I am a compulsive eater did not happen in a “Eureka!” moment. The idea drifted around in my mind, floating to the surface here and there over the years.

I kept asking why.

There are many aspects to eating disorders, and most don't have anything to do with food.

Most eating disorders have little to do with food.

Why am I ashamed of eating in front of people? Why do I eat foods when I am stressed that I normally would not – and then feel extreme guilt? Why do I feel like I need to hide my food? Why do I sometimes feel like there is never enough to satisfy me, no matter how much I eat? Why do I feel desperate to get the particular food I crave? Why do I wish there were a magic food that I could eat all day long and never feel full? Isn’t feeling full the purpose of eating? What is the purpose of my eating if I hate feeling full?

Why do I not really care about food when I’m happy, rested and relaxed? Why do I forget about food when I’m captivated by something I’m doing?

Is this normal? Is this serious? Is this even about food? Am I crazy?

I read lots of “Signs and Symptoms of Compulsive/Binge Eating” lists. Here’s an example:

Signs of binge eating disorder

Ask yourself the following questions. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you have binge eating disorder.

  • Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?
  • Do you think about food all the time?
  • Do you eat in secret?
  • Do you eat until you feel sick?
  • Do you eat to escape from worries, relieve stress, or to comfort yourself?
  • Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?
  • Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?

I can remember eating in secret as a kid. I remember the shame I felt about eating. At age eight, I learned that eating is bad. It happened during a well-intended teaching moment by a person who loved me very much. The talk was meant to help me, but the lesson that my kid-brain took from the words has been a battle and a burden for me for 31 years.

I built up the courage to buy a book. I wasn’t ready to admit to having a problem, but I would read about it.

In 2012, I read Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth. I hid the book because I was embarrassed to be seen reading about eating disorders, but I couldn’t put it down. Every page resonated with me. Have you ever had one of those, “Wow! Someone out there is just like me,” moments? It was as if I felt that realization with every paragraph.

I began to understand that compulsive eating has little to do with food. It’s about feelings.

Hello, my name is Alana, and I’m a compulsive eater.

In Being Healthy on March 9, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Do you know how hard it is to say that? Major respect to AA members. They stand up in front of a room and say a similar phrase face-to-face. Opening oneself up to judgement is excruciating for a perfectionist.

Alcoholics follow the introduction with a statement about how long they’ve been sober. I can’t remember the last time I ate compulsively because I don’t always realize I’m doing it. Learning to identify the compulsion is a slow process. I know it has been a long time since I was completely out of control. Today, I eat for sustenance more often than I eat compulsively.

Most of my compulsive eating is emotional eating, a way to avoid feeling emotions that seem stronger than I can handle. Realizing this truth about myself didn’t happen overnight.

Do I have an eating disorder?

Disordered eating sounds a little better than eating disorder, don’t you think? Eating disorders include both restrictive eating habits and binging. Several years ago, I began to toy with the idea that I “might” have an eating disorder. Knowing the stigma associated with mental health issues, it was a difficult realization to entertain, and even harder one to admit.

For most of my adult life, my mantra has been, “I am NOT my [borderline personality, bipolar] mother.”

The two Alanas. Which is real?

The two Alanas. Which is real?

I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds in my 39 years. When the Doctor Oz book, YOU: on a Diet came out, it revolutionized both my kitchen and my ideas about food. The year following my reading that book, I lost more than 50 pounds and proceeded to keep it off for more than three years. I didn’t starve myself. I didn’t severely restrict my eating. I didn’t count calories. I didn’t exercise excessively. I walked. I played outside with my son, and I chose healthy foods MOST of the time. I chose foods based on the knowledge of what function they served inside my body. I chose foods out of a desire for ultimate health. I moved my body out of a desire to spend time having fun outdoors with my son.

I like to think of this scenario as food choice changes based on knowledge. Sometimes we make food choices because we don’t know any better. Sometimes education is all it takes for a person to make healthy food choices. When there are no emotional and psychological ties to foods, it’s just a matter of realizing the better choice and training one’s body to prefer the better choice. Change your pantry. Change your palate. Achieve a healthy weight.

I did that. Why am I fat again?

Cognitive Dissonance

The psychological term cognitive dissonance describes the state of believing one way and acting another. If a human being holds a belief but acts contrary to that belief, the state of mental anguish that results is called cognitive dissonance.

When my eating habits became contrary to my beliefs surrounding food, I was miserable. My analytic mind wanted answers. Why? Why do I eat these unhealthy foods when I know they make my body feel sick, slow, unhealthy? Why do I eat mindlessly past the point of comfort? Is this normal? Is this an “eating disorder”? Is something making me do that? I feel compelled to eat and keep eating. Is that what compulsive eating is?

“Good Lord, no, Alana. Don’t be so dramatic. You are just a fat, lazy slob who needs to go on a diet. You need to quit eating so much. Back away from the table. If you had willpower, you’d be thin. You are lazy and undisciplined. God, look at that gut. Disgusting.”

You ever get so used to your internal voice that you don’t realize what a mean son-of-a-bitch it is? Who is that talking, anyway? Is everyone’s internal dialogue so hateful? Could this be part of the problem?

In front of me was a congested tangle of thoughts, beliefs, experiences, information like a wad of yarn, useless and disfunctional. As I tried to unravel the mess, I began to question whether this was about food after all. Maybe the solution wasn’t another diet. Maybe the solution wouldn’t be quick and easy.

…to be continued…

Miscommunication is a bitch

In Being Healthy, Relationships on March 5, 2013 at 8:55 am

I dislike a back and forth relationship. I’ve never been able to understand those couples who seem to always be breaking up then getting back together again…over and over. I like to make an educated decision then stick to it.

But. What happens if I realize my decision was based upon miscommunication? Can I be a big girl and apologize and try again? Will my pride allow me to do that? Being wrong really sucks.

spock bobble-head

If I were human, I believe my response would be: ‘go to hell.’ If I were human.
~ Spock in ‘The Final Frontier’

Here’s the deal. Based on human psychology, we don’t always hear what another person is trying to say. They say one thing based on their preconceptions, filtered through their past experiences and in a language they understand. Their words are then filtered through the recipient’s past experiences, preconceptions and the recipient’s own personal myth of reality.

What I’m saying is that when Larry said, “I don’t want to be a boyfriend anymore,” I heard, “I don’t want to be YOUR boyfriend anymore.” Or the short version, “Wahwah wah wah REJECTION wah wah.”

Instead of saying, “Please clarify,” or “What do you mean?” or “What brought this on?” I said, “You need to leave. NOW.”

Having had a few days to cool off, I’ve begun to ask myself, “Why did I do that?” What would Larry have said if I had channeled Spock and just looked at him and said, “Explain to me why and how you’ve come to that conclusion”?

I’m beginning to see that I have a problem with understanding why anyone would want to be with me. I STILL have a self-esteem problem. I can’t see myself as lovable. I don’t see my worth. That is a ME problem, not a man problem. That is a problem I thought I had dealt with, but I’m not quite there.

If you have the opinion that you are not worthy of love, affection, respect, etc., everything you hear is filtered through that notion. A person can have shit-colored glasses just as easily as rose-colored.

I didn’t hear the part about Larry still wanting to be in my life but wanting to make sure I wasn’t missing out on something better by being with him. I heard I don’t want you. You are not good enough. I’m looking for something better than you.

I didn’t hear beneath his no longer wanting the responsibility of the boyfriend title was a need for some reassurance that I wasn’t feeling cheated by what he has to offer right now. I didn’t hear his guilt. I didn’t hear his feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t get the story that hearing his brother talking about falling in love made him feel insufficient because he doesn’t feel capable of “falling in love,” and “Alana deserves someone to ‘fall in love’ with her.” (Not my opinion, by the way…a totally OTHER post titled “I am bitter about love” or “How many perfectly decent marriages have been spoiled by someone ‘falling in love’?” or “I’m not 16 anymore.”)

I’m not saying that misconception is always the case; however, it is very important to ask for clarification. It is as equally important to be aware your own psychological filters. Making assumptions can ruin a relationship, whether it be romantic or a friendship.

I am happy not being a “girlfriend.” I am NOT happy about NOT having Larry in my life. He truly is a treasure, NOT PERFECT, but still a treasure.

So we step back and try again. Not the same relationship but maybe a better one. I have this great friend who loves to go hiking with me on a Sunday when we are both free. We have interesting and thought-provoking conversations, and we BOTH enjoy being together. He treats me really well. He’s kindhearted, considerate and genuine. We also enjoy our own space.

Did you hear that, Larry? I ENJOY MY OWN SPACE. Don’t assume I want a man living with me, monopolizing my time.

Don’t assume, period. Just ask. When I answer, make sure you are hearing ME, not your preconceptions.

Fr@k it, I’m fat again!

In Being Healthy, Life is Random on May 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

…and I hate being fat.

I thought I had gotten to the point, mentally, that I hated it so much I would never let it happen again. But I did. And I am. Fat. Again.

I know the reasons why. I know how to change it.

The PLANNING me has it whipped. It is the DOING me that keeps failing.

Photo of Alana and Larry jumping over fire

Warrior Dash – April 21, 2012 Jackson, Mississippi

I know that if I get up a little earlier in the morning, I can do an hour walk/jog/stretch routine that will slowly melt away the pounds. I know that if I get to sleep by 9:00 p.m. each night, I can get up early. I know that if I rest enough, I will not crave sweets. I know that what I eat when I am not craving sweets or having a burn-out binge is excellent for my health. I know that if I would just walk back to my bedroom and go to sleep when I am exhausted and overcome with stress, I will not have a burn-out, mindless binge.

I have read so many books and articles on healthy eating and exercise that I could probably write my own book. Yet, I continue to gain and lose the same 30 pounds over and over.

The staples in my diet on a good day? Chicken, salmon, green veggies, fresh fruit, brown rice, whole grain bread, skim milk, Mega Green juice with protein powder and this awesome antioxidant bread I make every week. Yeah, I LIKE that stuff. I’ve been eating it for so long that I actually enjoy it better than any pre-packaged or fast food.  My favorite pizza splurge is the Dominos Pacific Veggie on extra thin crust. I just wish they had a whole wheat crust. I prefer a pizza with veggies and a whole grain crust. I prefer food that I’ve made fresh in my kitchen with every ingredient known to me.

Why am I fat when my cabinets and fridge are stocked with those super foods?

Reason number one: when I am super tired and heading to my weekend job, I give in to my craving of comfort food. Comfort food to prepare me for a late night laying out State/Metro section happens to be a large Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

Reason number two: When it comes to crunch time, I’d rather sleep than exercise. I feel like I never get enough rest. I hurt. I feel as if there is a new pain every day.

Someone please tell me that this will change in September when I am no longer working two jobs!

PLEASE!

I want to be fit. I want to camp and canoe and kayak and hike the mountains and do Warrior Dash much faster than an hour and 19 minutes. I want to swim a mile on Mondays again. I want to feel the muscles in my legs and arms and know that my body will take me wherever I want to go.

I want to be fit and capable for ME.

Craving simplicity in this technology driven world

In Being Healthy, Life is Random on April 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Although I am not one to follow astrology, I’ve often felt that my sign, Gemini, fits me perfectly. I see myself as the twin, changing between my two personalities sometimes daily. There is the Social Butterfly/Chatty Kathy Alana and the Hermit on the Hill Alana.

David McRaney, in his book You Are Not So Smart, says that studies show we all have multiple personalities depending on our immediate social situation. (I don’t have my copy of the book with me, so I’ll have to put the exact information in here later.) Check out his blog for more interesting bits of psychology.

Lately, Hermit Alana has reigned over Career Girl Alana.

I think it might be because Sadie and I have been reading the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. That little handmade farmhouse with Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura, Carrie and Baby Grace has incredible appeal to me.

On the other hand, it could be the rising cost of toilet paper. When did a decent 4-pack start costing over $2.50? Could someone hand me the Sears Catalog?

I have a premonition of a time when even the barest of necessities are so expensive that we all have to resort to being self-sufficient in order to exist. Prices keep rising at the grocery store, but our incomes are holding steady. I feel lucky today to even have an income.

I feel guilty complaining about my tight budget when I have a cell phone, television subscription and internet. I remember not having those things as a kid. It wasn’t so bad. Maybe it was better. Maybe there were things back then that meant more…like following in my Daddy’s footsteps as he steered the tiller…dropping in three seeds to the hole.

“Don’t put your fingers in your mouth if you handled the pink seed! It’s poison!”

Would I need a gym membership if I had to work the farm every day? It’s hard work, but what if there isn’t as much stress to deal with?

My parents grew up eating peas and cornbread. Daddy remembers Sundays being extra special because you might get a bite of chicken to go with your field peas. Today, Daddy will tell you, he wants meat with every meal because his family couldn’t afford that luxury when he was a kid. Fair enough. Do we really need meat at every meal? If I think about it, I am afraid to eat our hormone and antibiotic filled meat from the grocery store. Some nutritionists say it is better to have more grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Most nutritionists say the less processed the food, the better for us. Is the rising obesity rate our penance for excess and convenience?

Would I be stressed over my weight if the only food available was what I grew with my own two hands? Laura and Mary were pretty excited over the occasional piece of candy. In the book Sadie and I are currently reading, The Long Winter, the Ingalls family has just survived months on nothing but potatoes and brown bread from wheat ground in a coffee grinder.

So how do I get to the point where I can trade in my suits and heels for sturdy, comfortable shoes and a pair of worn overalls? Can I imagine the feasibility of trading in the cubicle downtown for the sun on my face and dirt on my hands? How much money do I have to save working in this cubicle in order to one day have the homestead of my fantasies? By the time I get there, will my body still be strong enough for the work? I don’t want to start my little farm at the age of 70.

What balance between modern technology and old fashioned grit is doable today? What products could my crafty self make and sell at a Farmer’s Market to bring home a little bacon? How much could I do without in order to make do with a little?

Should I have planned for this sooner?

Can a farmer girl still do internet for keeping up with news and friends in other states?

These people are doing it.

He has always been a hero of mine.

Can this fantasy become a reality one day?

I’ll keep you posted…

The Awesome Adventures of Nature (Geek) Girl

In Being Healthy, Life is Random, Relationships on August 14, 2011 at 9:40 am
Photo of camp stove with computer

There is something so RIGHT about this picture!

I am sitting here doing something I have always wanted to do…posting a blog entry while camping. To save money, I canceled our home internet and signed up for a limited use MiFi from Cellular South, so my internet goes with me wherever I go. Yay me!

People ask me often, “Alana, why do you go camping alone?” Well, I guess that answer deserves its own post.

Some of you know that I grew up with a borderline personality, bi-polar mother. Those of you who have lived closely with a person with behavioral and mental problems understand what this entails. This is not the time to explain all that, so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, do a Google search on borderline personality disorder and bi-polar disorder. There you will see textbook examples of my mother.

What is relevant to this story is the fact that I grew up around a lot of negativity and depression. Life was out to get my mother–and so was every person on the planet. I grew up hearing this, and I didn’t like it. I started thinking that if I didn’t like it, then probably no one wanted to hear MY problems either. In a way, I was right, and it made me pretty self-sufficient and independent. I became a really good listener.

As an adult, I’ve read self-help books, paid for counseling and learned how to be more even keeled. Yes, we do sometimes need someone to talk over our problems with. Getting advice from a level-headed, uninvolved party is wise. However, we shouldn’t go overboard and continually unload on friends. That is what we are doing when every conversation with a friend is regaling a torrent of negative. We are unloading. We all have problems in our lives. Life is inherently problematic and filled with “shit.” There are negative situations around every corner. We have to unload this “shit” somehow…and often…or we become my mother–overwhelmed and paralyzed by life and unable to get out from under it. So, what is the best way to unload without giving a friend your burden to carry?

See, this is the good part. YOU get to decide your best way to unload without dumping on your friends. For some people, putting faith in God and giving the cares to Him in prayer works best. This works for a lot of people. Some people find relief in hitting the gym or going for a run. It is good to have multiple ways to bring positive thoughts back into your mind. Thoughts are very powerful forces in our lives. I would dare say that thoughts may be the MOST powerful force in a human’s life. Everything we are as a human being is in our thoughts–our faith, our spirituality, our emotions, our personalities. There is a passage in the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett that speaks of the power of thoughts. I would quote it here, but I’m out in the woods, and the book is back home. (I should download it on my Kobo app and search it on my Galaxy S. Geez, where did I misplace my Geek Card!?!) I will edit the post and add the quote later. It’s good.

One of my methods of letting it all go is getting out in nature and listening to the cicadas, birds, crickets, frogs and squirrels sing away my sorrows. Right now the crows and cicadas are in harmony. That crow is bitching about how tight my budget is and about how frustrating work can be at times. The lazy occasional percolating harumph of the coffee pot is patting my back and telling me everything is really good where it matters most. I hiked a trail late yesterday afternoon, once the tent was set up, and exchanged a few worrisome thoughts for a couple of wild muscadines hanging from a vine. I am just happy to let them deal with it so I can get on with just enjoying being me.

The best part about getting rid of your “shit” on your own is this: people will like to be around you if you keep yourself positive and full of good thoughts. Have you ever read the book How Full is Your Bucket?? I have heard a lot of good things about this book. It’s on my list of books to read. The concept outlined in the book is that we affect those around us in our daily interactions, whether they are positive or negative. How many of you have gone through a drive-through and been affected by the cashier’s frown, attitude and negative energy? She had an empty bucket. Now what about the opposite? Have you ever come across a stranger who had a smile for no reason and a kind word? Her bucket was full. How did those two situations make you feel? Which do you want to be to your fellow man? I want to have a full bucket. I want to start a viral smile along my path. I want to do my part to heal the world–tikkun olam. That feels waaaaaay better to me than the alternative.

Is the alone part necessary? No, it is not. That is just where I am in my life right now. My girlfriends don’t really enjoy nature like I do, and I do not have a husband or boyfriend with whom I can share these unwind times. I hope that is a part of my future. I really do. However, not having a partner is no reason to wait to do the things I enjoy. Not having a partner is also no reason to be negative about my life. After all, my friends have been just a Facebook post away this whole weekend. I’ve chronicled my trip via photo uploads from my cell phone.

No nature geek girl is an island.

%d bloggers like this: