Random Thoughts.

Today I went on an adventure with my friends and had some awesome homemade curry. 

Here are some things that I learned from today's experiences:

I've concluded that exceptional individuals can be found anywhere.

Friendship often occurs like falling in love with Augustus Waters or asleep. "Slowly, and then all at once."

Moments are just that, moments. They will always pass. They're merely a blink in the vastness that we call eternity. 

Tears should never be wasted on insensitive people. It's not that they won't understand, but rather that they can't. 

Trials often heighten our sensitivity to the trials of others. 

Age does not, and never will, determine maturity...along with other milestones revered in life. 

Memories tainted with sadness can be replaced by happier ones...if you give them a chance. 

...and that's all I've got for now. 

Emily Dickinson

I had grand plans of writing a super inspiring post, but the ideas I had for that have disappeared with the day (I blame the two year olds I watched for 8 hours straight today).

Have I ever mentioned how much I adore the works of Emily Dickinson?

About a year ago I went to a library sale and bought a huge book of her "Collected Poems" and since then, it's been my constant companion through times both good, and bad.

This morning I woke up at 5:00am with a stuffy nose, a cough, high blood sugar, and the inability to fall back asleep. Deciding to make the best of my time, I ran out to my car and dug through my trunk to find Emily among the remnants of my freshman year of college.

For two hours I sat in my bed reading poem after poem and scribbling illegible notes in the margins of the pages. This is probably going to sound super dramatic, but I found myself in her words. She captures the human experience so well and with a clarity that is hard to find even in one's own thoughts.

As I re-read over the poems that once influenced me so deeply during the epoch of my eating disorders, I realized that their meanings were temporary and pliable--as all good literature should be.

One poem in particular keeps running through my head:
Pain has an element of blank;
it cannot recollect
when it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
Isn't it interesting how we tend to get tunnel vision during times of trial, or as Emily puts it, pain? I can specifically remember reading this poem and nodding my head in agreement as I read each stanza with tears running down my face. During those times I couldn't see a future without my life being ruled by eating or a past when I was free from the dictates of those disorders.

But now I am as you see me, no harm done.
Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.
Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
I've learned that change comes slowly, and we usually only receive brief glimpses of the progress that has taken place.
For instance, a few weeks ago I ordered a size Medium top online with the hope that it would fit. When the package arrived today, I rushed to try it on (And in my excitement I dropped the shirt in the toilet...). As I held the shirt in my hands, I knew that it was too small for me--despite the fact that it was the "right" size (One thing that I've learned--while having my self-esteem tested during clothing shopping, is that different stores have different measurements for general sizes...you could be a 10 at one store and a 14 at another...it's definitely a marketing conspiracy...). Although I was disappointed, I wasn't hurt by the fact that I was larger than what I thought I should be.
I even gave the shirt to my older sister (who is much smaller than I am...it was a definite sensitive topic a few years back) and I wasn't upset by that either.
As usual, I think I've lost myself in my thought process....definitely took a detour with that story....
Anyways, I guess what I'm trying to say is that after reading 100+ pages of poetry this morning, I've realized that I'm different from the individual that read those same pages only a few short years ago.
Read, sweet, how others strove,
Till we are stouter;
What they renounced,
Till we are less afraid;
Side note:
I just noticed that there's a quote above the computer here at Aspen Grove that I've been staring at for the past few blog posts. 
It says, "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."
Food for thought.
Also, it goes well with my "Aspen Grove" post a few weeks back.


With yesterday being the official start of FIFA 2014, I thought it would be only fitting that I share a soccer-related experience that happened last week.

Ten years ago, a neighborhood friend invited me to be on a soccer team with her. A few years after that, another friend invited me to join her competitive soccer team. I tried out for my high school team twice (I didn't make the cut, which was heartbreaking, but with some distance I was able to realize that I couldn't let someone else's decision define me...or my happiness. Ironically, it also led to eating disorder #1. ) and a few years after that, I found myself captain of a different competitive soccer team three years in a row.

Our last game of the season, we were second in our division.

The winter of my Junior year of high school was when the eating disorder, which had been consuming me for years, decided to consume the things that I enjoyed most--including soccer.

As I gained weight, I wasn't able to play as well as once could. As a result, I lost my position as captain, and slowly my coaches stopped letting me start games or sub in for other players. I was an unwanted bench-warmer.

Shortly after the spring soccer season of that year, I quit playing competitively (Actually, I wasn't invited back for the following season) and decided to play for a rec team instead. Initially, I was fine, but as the new season progressed, I realized that I just wasn't who I used to be--mentally, or athletically.
I couldn't run, I couldn't score, I couldn't breathe, and depression set in.

So I quit completely.

Last week we had had Frontier Night here at Aspen Grove and I was in charge of the shaved ice stand with friends from work (I've pretty much mastered the art of placing two or more flavors side-by-side on a cone).  While we were together, I heard from a friend, Hayley, that one of the families staying with us had challenged our staff to a soccer game (I think the main reason we ended up agreeing to play was due to the excessive amount of trash talking coming from some twelve year old kids... our pride couldn't resist the challenge).

I'll tell the rest of the story straight from my journal:

"I just got done playing a staff-guest soccer game and it was so much fun! I haven't played in a year due to self-esteem and eating issues, but today I played great because I finally didn't care about what anyone else thought of me. I made some great crosses, and was complimented by my co-workers! It was so much fun even though we lost. I can't believe I almost said no to playing! I guess it's true that all anyone ever needs is five seconds of courage, I'm so glad I found mine!"

In that moment I proved to myself that I was good enough to do anything I set my mind to. I realized that I am no longer an eating disorder or a side-effect of depression.

Ultimately, I decided to no longer deny myself simple pleasures in life because of a number on a scale or clothing tag.

...Man, I love soccer.

"Soccer is the world's favorite sport."

Fail System

Last Sunday, I was able to attend church with my family since I had the day off from my usual Aspen Grove responsibilities. While there, I was able to listen to a friend speak about her experiences overcoming military fitness and physical criteria tests. She stated that, "...(the tests) are a fail system...especially for women with real bodies." As I listened to her continue her story, I began to think about the times when I felt frustrated with my body due to the  societal "fail system" that we constantly subject ourselves to.

It has taken me years to realize that I'm not the problem, society is.

Did you know that the U.S. weight loss market was worth $61 billion 2010 or that gym, health, and fitness clubs are currently worth $27 billion?

Apparently, making people feel inadequate is a lucrative industry.

Here are some statistics from NEDA:

1. 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
2. In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively.
3. 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.
4. 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.
5. Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
6. 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. Overweight girls are more likely than normal weight girls to engage in such extreme dieting.
7. Even among clearly non-overweight girls, over 1/3 report dieting (Wertheim et al., 2009).
Girls who diet frequently are 12 times as likely to binge as girls who don’t diet.
8. The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 165 pounds. The average Miss America winner is 5’7” and weighs 121 pounds.

9. The average BMI of Miss America winners has decreased from around 22 in the 1920s to 16.9 in the 2000s. The World Health Organization classifies a normal BMI as falling between 18.5 and 24.9.
10. 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years.

"Biggest Loser" contestant, Ali Vincent.
 “After I won ‘The Biggest Loser,’ I weighed 122 pounds for about 2.2 seconds,” she said.
“It’s been five years since I won and I’ve seen myself gain at least five pounds a year.”
11. 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.
12. Of American, elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight.


When I started writing this post two hours ago, I had no idea that I would end up going in this direction. Maybe I researched this information for selfish reasons. But then again, it's always good to be reminded of reality rather than the fantasy that is forced down our throats on a daily basis.  I've decided that society constantly seeks to make the 1% seem like the majority in order to take advantage of the remaining 99%.

I wonder what the first step would be to changing a thought process that is so engrained into the modern human psyche... How is it that we can prevent future generations from feeling the pain of our own? How can we beat the "fail system" that has permeated into almost every aspect of our daily lives?

Honestly, I have no idea.

I guess a good start would be to become the change that we want to see in the world through loving ourselves and accepting that our best will always be good enough.

We need to stop fearing numbers, and start living life.

Ultimately, we need to adjust how we see the world (and ourselves) in order to make it a better one.