Where to Begin?

I am back! And I missed you friends while on my mission trip in Atlanta, GA! But Atlanta was nothing like I expected and everything I needed in life. I cannot even describe how my eyes have been opened because … Continue reading

Off on an Adventure

I am off on my second trip of this holiday break! This time I am going with a group called Cooper House from my church in Hokieville (AKA Blacksburg) to Atlanta, GA to participate in a DOOR Ministries mission trip. This is my first mission trip, and I have no idea what to expect. We have our basic schedule, but won’t know what volunteer sites we will be going to in Atlanta until we get there Sunday night. I am really inwardly excited for this trip, and really outwardly nervous. I have no idea what to expect, only know 2 of the people going with me by name, and have no control over what happens and what plans are made.

 

 

I want this trip to be a learning experience. The first of many this year hopefully. Here are a few things I hope to gain during this week in Atlanta.

A relationship with God. I have this, but I want my faith to grow stronger, and I want to learn new ways to pray and talk to him. I want to encounter God. You hear about people going on these types of trips and feeling God and seeing him work in their life and the lives of the people around them. I want to experience this!

Friends. Like I said I don’t really know the girls I will be going with. The leader is my bible study leader and TA in metabolic and I love her. So I know I will be comfortable with at least one person. But I hang out with so few people at school because I am always studying that I have few opportunities to meet new people and form relationships. I will be eating, sleeping, working, and worshiping, and riding to and from Atlanta with these girls. I will have plenty of opportunities to break down my wall and make new friends.

Information. About me. I want to learn how I can be flexible with food, exercise, studying (yes I am bringing GRE study materials with me, it is a long ride to GA), and doing things spur of the moment. Because I know so many people are not like me and don’t like to plan every minute of their day. I am hoping this trip will kick start my search for balance and flexibility in my life this year.

So I leave with my mom for Blacksburg today (She is being awesome and driving with me out there and then coming back to pick me up next Friday night), and then GA on Sunday morning! I will not be bringing my computer with me as we will be sleeping in a church with other groups for the week. Plus I want to be experiencing social life- that means not using my computer, social media, and TV shows I could watch as a distraction from these wonderful people and God. I know my reader will be overwhelming when I get back. I am OK with that! I cannot wait to come home and see what all of you have been up to for a whole week!

I am ready

I was extremely blessed this week beginning on Sunday with a sermon that led to yesterday’s post and now a great talk with an old dance teacher that has become one of my truest friends. We spoke about a number of our struggles and how we can tackle them in our future. How appropriate since 2013 is upon us. After everything we spoke about the thing we both came back to is this:

When you are ready…

It is a great thing to talk and know what I need to do to find freEDom and recovery for good but I will always be in the same place unless I do something. Unless I change things I will be the same as I was yesterday. That isn’t a bad thing, I am healthy and happy the majority of the time. But I am not free yet. I know of some things that I can do to help me become free but I cannot do that until I am ready. I am ready. I am not scared of what I have to do. I am nervous and I am scared of the uncertainty that comes with every new thing. But I am ready. I am ready. I am ready.

Strength in Freedom

My goals for 2013

  1. Work on freeing myself from my fear food. I have alluded to this in many posts but never revealed what it is I fear. I fear grains. It stems from years ago and is a story in itself. But I know that grains are healthy and needed in the diet. So to begin conquering this fear I will be reintroducing grains into my diet a little at a time. As with anything you have to start small and work your way to the top. How appropriate for the name of my blog. I will be plating those grains, enjoying them (hopefully- if not I will be trying a new grain that I do enjoy) and then climbing on to the next thing.
  2. Put myself out there to meet people. I pretty much live in the school and study environment. And I study in my house. There is not much opportunity to meet people there. So 3 times a week/3 hours a week I will be finding a place that I enjoy studying. It might be a Starbucks, Panera, library, Student Union… Whatever I just have to enjoy being there. And then once a month I will do something recreational. This could be going downtown to meet people/hang out with friends or going bowling at our student center. I just want to put myself out there to meet people and this is where I am going to start.
  3. Try new things. I am currently working on a list of things I have always wanted to try but have been too afraid/self-conscious in the past. To give you an idea it includes running (short distances and no races just for fun and for feeling my body better), yoga (especially Hot Yoga), Pilates, Horseback Riding…
  4. Do something nice once a day. Wake up and be thankful and love others. Stop judging others. I want to find something nice that I can always do that helps someone else out. I want to write down what I am thankful for. I will show compassion. And when I make a judgement I will work on checking myself. Everyone is different and they should be loved for that individuality.

None of these will happen with the blink of an eye. But I hope to look back a year from now and see that I have made progress in each of these so that I can add to them and keep working to grow as a person. And back to Sunday…

NOTHING IS POSSIBLE WITHOUT GOD.

The End Begins Now

I honestly do not know where to begin on this last day of 2012. All of you have written beautifully composed posts about what you experienced this year and what you are looking for in the year of 2013. But I don’t think I documented this year as well as I would have liked to. Sure I have some amazing memories and experiences…

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Goodbye to dance

Climbed the Arc de Triomphe

Climbed the Arc de Triomphe

Cheers!

Cheers!

Done with my last day. See you in the winter Chesapeake Regional!

Done with my last day. See you in the winter Chesapeake Regional!

First cosmo

Ordering my first drink

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Rebekah came to VT

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Coffee obsessed

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Hokie football = sad season

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New friends! All thanks to blogging

Dad had the idea of going on a little jog after opening presents. Awesome idea! I loved every minute of it

Started running and no longer hate it

And I learned a ton about myself through all of it. A beautiful sermon that felt very much directed towards me yesterday plus a few internal struggles I have been dealing with as of late have caused me to want a few resolutions this year. But I never stick to resolutions or goals or whatever you want to call them. I get caught up in school and all of my normal routines pretty quickly and by the end of the year I normally cannot remember what goals I set at the beginning of the year. I don’t want that to happen this year. If I keep going on the same track I will never grow and the struggles I had this year will follow me for the rest of my life. I do not want this.

Yesterday I was asked to contemplate what takes me away from God. My answer was everything. Until I realized that God wants me to have talents, he doesn’t want me to stop studying or exercising or eating a healthy diet. But he also doesn’t want those things to be done without him. I need him to guide me on a path in life that will lead me to a destination only he knows of.

What really takes my life away from God is an eating disorder that I have carried with me for over 7 years now. For most of this time I have considered myself recovered, and I still do. I wrote in the past about how I felt stuck. Well I still feel stuck and that is because I was too busy making excuses instead of sitting down and deciding on a plan of action to one day rid my life of this part of my life completely. I have fear foods that I refuse to release because the fear keeps me safe. I still struggle with what exercise is supposed to be for me, although this is something my mom was kind enough to point out I have been working on and succeeding in. And I am still consumed by appearance, the thin body ideal, and perfection in everything. Until I let go of these things I will forever live a life in which I am in a constant battle with anorexia. I might be winning for the rest of my life, but as long as the battle is still going on there is a chance for losing.

I don’t want to live my life on the battlefield. So in 2013 I will work to end this war. I am not making it my goal to rid my life of this thing that has consumed me so long. I cannot set a time frame for when this will be over and not longer consume me. I making 2013 the first year of the end. There will be a time in my future that I am completely free.

I am currently working on a short list of short term goals that will help me to end this battle. I hope by posting this list in the next week it will keep me accountable to trying new things, challenging myself, and taking risks so that I can begin to experience life that is led by the light of God.

Are you sad when it ends?

When you reach the end of a task that you have chosen to do, what are your feelings? Do you jump for joy because it is over? Or do you feel a twinge of sadness and perhaps shed a few tears?

There was a time that I loved to dance. When reverence came at the end of ballet class I was deeply saddened. Yes I felt fulfilled at all I had learned and accomplished during the class or the nearly 7 hour day of dance and rehearsals, but I was sad it was over. I never wanted it to end.

And then one day I did. I can’t pinpoint the time or the place it happened, but one day I stopped feeling the sadness that it was over for the day and instead began celebrating the end. I watched the clock counting down the minutes until it was time to complete my last turn or jump so I could curtsy, clap, thank the instructor, and get the heck out of my ballet shoes, leotard and tights.

When we stop wanting it to never end, and start jumping for joy because it’s over, we should stop doing it. It took me years to just stop trying to dance again. But now that I have I found that thing that makes me sad when it ends again. I am not one of the many students that looks towards break all semester long. Yes I am thankful for this break to rest my mind and body, but I miss school. And when I turned in my last final last week I can honestly say I was sad. Sad the semester had come to an end. I was sad that studying would be put on hold for a month, and I would not be sitting in my metabolic lecture Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

We all have something we hold dear to our hearts. A passion that comes from within. Dance and other art forms are a great example because you always hear about the passion artists have for their talent. How they feel like they cannot live without it. How they would do anything to dance, sing, paint, ect. But that passion is not limited to the dancers and the artists and the singers. That passion is in all of us in some shape or form. Mine is school. I have a passion for learning and helping others to learn the material I hold so close to my heart. For some it is running, walking, their job… It can be anything!

So ask yourself, do you love what you are doing? Are you sad when it’s over? Or are you like I became with dance, always looking towards the final curtain call because it means it’s over and you are happy to see the end. Seeing the end in sight is great, it gives you a goal, but when you get there I hope you are like me and want the finish line suddenly disappear so that it just never ends.

This is a life in progress

I am linking up with Sloan’s freEDom from perfection campaign this week. The past weeks posts from amazing bloggers have touched me and cause me to reevaluate.

Strength in Freedom

Warning: I don’t know where I am going with this.

I began this blog not really knowing what I wanted it to be. I just wanted a blog, and figured I must have something to offer the world. I love foodie blogs and I love food, but I don’t know how to make delicious recipes or have the photography skills to make the meal creations I do come up with look very pretty.

My first baked pumpkin stuffed with kale, ricotta, and honey. with roasted veggies, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts on the side
Photography by Kailey Proctor (case in point- I can’t take pretty meal pics)

I exercise, but have to cut back sometime soon now. And I don’t have any cool fat burning routines for myself or anyone else. I am a gym rat and most of the time I am OK with that. I am jealous of you runners that go outside and run for the love of it. Actually I am jealous of anyone that works out for pure pleasure everyday because while yes there are days like this past Friday when I just crave some gym time, most of the time I exercise because it’s habit, I feel like I have to, or I really need to study/read for school and that is how I accomplish such a task.

But I was a dancer. Never a runner or a cycler. I started riding the stationary bike in 9th grade when the world around me started saying I should at least 3 times a week. Weight came off and my turns and balance improved. The benefits of the exercise were numerous. So were the new diet restrictions. I always hate admitting that there is a control factor in eating disorders/disordered eating, but looking back my life was pretty damn controlled.

I wouldn’t say exercise ever became a problem though until after my recovery. Sometime between freshman and sophomore year of college my views of exercise and what was enough became warped.  First it was 60 minutes one day and 30 minutes the next with 2 days off on the weekend. Pretty sane and healthy, too bad I had begun restricting again in that time. But then as exercise machines became more available, and my mornings more free I never did less than 60 and every other day I did 90 minutes on that damn arc trainer. Who was I becoming? The good thing was I stopped restricting food by then and ate food I loved and some I didn’t but told myself I should (Read: large amounts of candy and sweets). But those long workout sessions also caused my eating patterns to become quite off. (Read: Breakfast at 11am, Lunch at 3:30 and sometimes 5pm, and Dinner at 9pm or 10pm). Then came the breakdown, and the realization of weight gain despite all of the hours working out, and that my food/meal patterns were really bothering me. Good thing it was summer and I could go home and get in to see my therapist. Conclusion? I was using exercise and food as an escape or excuse not to have fun or live life. So I was assigned to take breaks, have fun, and make a real effort to break out of the shell I had build around myself. O and I was supposed to reduce my exercise and eat every 4-5 hours no matter what.

Confession: I didn’t do any of it. Summer was good to me in a lot of ways. I no longer felt like I had to workout everyday, I finally came to the realization that dance wasn’t for me anymore, and I was making time for other things besides exercise, meal planning, cooking, and cleaning. But every time I got on the bike I just couldn’t make myself get off until at least 93 minutes had past. Or as I started going to the gym again I couldn’t make myself just do 30 minutes on one machine or the other. Once I had rode the elliptical for 30 and ran for another 30 one day it became my routine and I couldn’t bring myself to change it. And I succumbed to my biggest fear food yet again. Not totally, but it appeared less and less in my daily food intake as weeks past by.

Fast forward to now. My days are jammed pack, I have overloaded my schedule, and my perfectionist nature is stronger than ever. I didn’t overload myself on purpose and all of what I am doing is good for my resume/future career and the things I choose to do I really love (Read: tutoring, anatomy TA, bible study, and spending extra time studying metabolic). I still feel the need to spend a specific time exercising and still find myself on the bike for 70-90 minutes. The fear food is still not a daily choice, and sometimes I restrict it purposefully. Honestly it has become more of a special occasion food, like when I go out to dinner, or it is a holiday, or I realize my stomach hasn’t encountered it in quite sometime. I am not proud of this and I know it needs to change. I know logically and factually from classes that the key to health and metabolic function is a balanced, well-rounded diet. I will be the first person to tell you these fad, clean diets are a load of bologna.

This is all really hard for me to admit. I am recovered right? RIGHT. Because I made the decision to live 4 years ago and committed myself to recovery. I am still committed. But I think along the way I got stuck and never realized it because my weight was stable, I was succeeding in school, and I have what most (me included) would consider a pretty fantastic life.

Just as I am still learning in school, I am still learning in life. I am only 21 years old, and it would be weird if I had it all figured out.  My life includes my recovery. Right now that means I have some days when that dang ED doesn’t have a chance to put its two sense in. But I still have quite a few days where the voice is present and I hear it. But does that mean I listen? The answer should be no. But sometimes I do. But do I act? Again sometimes yes. It is hard not to all of the time, I am not perfect after all.

But none of that means I am not recovered. Because I know who the ED Shannon is and who the recovered, totally awesome smart Shannon is. I see the latter a lot and the former not so much. And when the ED Shannon busts into my life you best bet I kick her to the curb. I am recovered and it is my life. I still have pieces I need to work on and I need to stop ignoring that and actually get to work. I am not a procrastinator so why do I procrastinate with this? That’s a topic for another time.

I’ll end with this. I am committed to my recovery and the healthy life I have been given in the 4 years since my eating disorder. I am forever grateful for what  was a learning experience I don’t wish upon anyone else, but for me it has taught me to never take life for granted, showed me that I am worth it, and has given me the opportunity to live for what makes me happy, not for what I think people expect me to be.

Recovery = Life and Life just isn’t perfect. In other words my recovery won’t be either. The important thing is I have realizations like this that get me back on track.