20 June 2010

"Women Food & God" ~ Chapter 2: Ending the War

"The great blessing of our lives is our relationship with food."

"Why would any sane person believe that tolerating the intolerable is a worthy endeavor?"
"... when we welcome what we most want to avoid... we evoke divinity itself."

"I stopped trying to fix myself. I stopped fighting with myself, stopped blaming myself, my mother, my latest boyfriend for my weight."

"[My students] have whole friendships built on commiserating about the twenty pounds they have to lose and the jeans that are too tight and the latest greatest diets. They fit in by hating themselves."

Though I've definitely had conversations like this, none of my relationships are solely based on weight issues-- thank God. If anything, I'm the petty soul who feels jealousy toward certain attractive friends and family members. And no, it's not easy to admit that.
Fortunately I see the error of my ways and push those feelings out of my head, never sacrificing a friendship because my friend reached her goal and I didn't. However, I do believe I've used this topic to relate to my thin friends, as a way of making light my morbidly obese body.

"... researchers found that one of the best predictors of weight gain was having lost weight on a diet at some point during the years before the study started."

"83 percent gained back more weight than they had lost."

"Another study found that people who went on diets were worse off that people who didn't."

"I expect [my students] to realize they have been brainwashed by a sixty-billion-dollar-a-year industry."

You know, for all of the documentaries I watch about food industry, political, and religious conspiracies, you'd think I would've figured out the shady diet industry one! Of course you'd be more likely to gain back the weight if even slightly wavering from a program (which is almost definite) and needing to spend more money on more solutions. If you lost the weight once and kept it off for the rest of your life they'd be out of business. And that's what I want, to lose the weight once and say goodbye forever.

"... our worth in the world has always been tied to our looks... not the amazing miracle of mere existence."

"Women turn to food when they are not hungry because they ARE hungry for something they can't name: a connection to what is beyond the concerns of daily life."

"We have become so obsessed with getting rid of our obsession, with riding on top of our suffering and ignoring its inherent message, that we lose the pieces of ourselves waiting to be found beneath it."

"The real richness of obsession lies in the ineffable stillness, the irrefutable wholeness, that is found in turning toward its source."

"The relentless attempts to be thin take you further and further away from what could actually end your suffering: getting back in touch with who you really are. Your true nature. Your essence."

Honestly, Roth speaks for herself on this one. It's amazing how she touches upon EVERYTHING I'm feeling at once. Her goal is to help one deal with the WHY not the HOW-- that is the ultimate solution. My perspective of life is changing. As I continue to read I see more of what she means by facing the pain and emerging from it a stronger, brighter woman.

"Women Food & God" ~ Chapter 1

First, let me clarify how I am reading this book in order to get the most out of it. To analyze and truly absorb the information, I read through a chapter first then ready my pencil and pink highlighter, tackling the chapter once again only this time annotating points and relevance to my own life. Finally, I write important quotations and bottom lines in my journal, along with my reactions and thoughts on the impact of Roth's words. That's my method in a sort-of-nutshell.

Highlights from Chapter 1:

"I turned to food for the same reasons people turned to God: it was my sigh of ecstasy, my transport to heaven, my concrete proof that relief from the pain of everyday life was possible. Then it would be gone."

"Dieting was like praying. It was a plaintive cry to whoever was listening..."

Roth's definition of God:
"One that uses this human life and its suffering... as a path to the heart of love itself."

This is how I've seen God for years, I've just been unable to put it into words. I am still a Christian yet I've always felt God as this great expanse and a being who loves even the worst part of ourselves.
God teaches me to love and forgive not only others, but myself as well, while teaching me to embrace flaws and love weakness. Easier said than done, no? Forgiveness of one's self is, I think, the hardest type of Forgiveness out there. We might ask God to forgive us (and He will) but we refuse to forgive or even ask it of ourselves. If we won't forgive ourselves, how can God?

Roth's Discovery:
"... understanding the relationship with food is a direct path to coming home after a lifetime of being exiled."

As first chapters go, this is powerful stuff. Reviewing my notes has opened my eyes to more self-revelation, while lighting a fire within me to change my sad course of life. Furthermore, I'm inspired to dive back into my own spirituality and relationship with God.

19 June 2010

"Dead Until Dark" by Charlaine Harris

When it comes to books, I typically shy away from supernatural adult fiction-- especially vampires-- but as an avid viewer of HBO's "True Blood" series, I wanted to see where this intelligent, quirky, gritty, and fun show came from.

To my pleasant surprise, the world created by Charlaine Harris through the eyes of Sookie Stackhouse is frustratingly naive yet enjoyable. The Southern charm and hospitality is not lost in Bon Temps, as well as the issues of prejudice, mainly directed toward vampires but still relevant. Harris's desire to answer the question "What would the world be like if vampires existed, made themselves known to the public then tried to assimilate into human culture?" makes for a unique take on the sexual and supernatural mythology of vampires.

Some of the mythology is classic Bram Stoker with science attempting rational explanation, such as an allergic reaction as the cause of sunlight creating a burning death for a vampire. Plus, Harris adds her own spin on vampiric nature and ability, keeping readers on their toes wondering what vampire can do what. Then there's the sex... and plenty of it, I might add, all tastefully and sometimes hilariously explained by the prudish Sookie.

In terms of the original book versus the television series, both are different yet maintain the same tone and are therefore excellent in their own right. You can read the books after watching the episodes because HBO has taken HUGE liberties with characters and plot lines and thus both can stand strong individually. By the way, if you haven't seen "True Blood" and like that sort of thing-- watch it. I guarantee you'll love it.

As first choice on my summer reading list, I am exceedingly pleased and have dived right into Book 2 "Living Dead in Dallas." The action keeps me reading, Sookie is as real and relatable as a psychic waitress could ever be, and the world continues to expand.

13 June 2010

Summer Reading List

To boost the incessant nagging in my mind about how boring my life is and how I've done nothing to further my writing abilities, I have decided to take a forward step and create a reading list. Not only have I put this list together, but I also plan on sticking to it. This way I'm starting with small goals and working my way to bigger ones. Plus, reading other people's work tends to inspire or at least remind me that it is possible to create entire worlds with words.

This particular list combines educational & inspirational as well as Christian with adult fiction and my favorite genre: young adult fiction. A variety of work should get my mind churning and help me release the stories buried in my brain. If you've read any of these please weigh-in your opinion so we can compare notes!

My 2010 Summer Reading List:
1) The Sookie Stackhouse Series, Books 1-3 by Charlaine Harris
2) The Last Apprentice Book 4: Attack of the Fiend by Joseph Delaney
3) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
4) Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth (I'm actually taking notes. journaling about its content and will be posting blogs for each chapter. Stay tuned.)
5) The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
6) Immortal by Traci L. Slatton
7) Coraline by Neil Gaiman
8) Savvy by Ingrid Law
9) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
10) Captivating by John & Staci Eldredge
11) At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
12) Wicked by Gregory Maguire
13) Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange
14) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
15) Conversations with God, Book 1 by Neale Donald Walsch
16) Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
17) The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
18) The Giver by Lois Lowry
19) Battles at Thrush Green by Miss Read
20) Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey

I think that's a good start. In addition to reading and exercising my imagination with these titles, I also hope to discuss them on the blog. And I shall start with "Dead Like Me" (Sookie Stackhouse series book 1) and "Women, Food, and God." Let the reading begin!

12 June 2010

Hi, my name is ________ and I suffer from Depression.

Hello again, blogging world. My apologies for the hiatus—a lot has happened since my last post. To sum up, I left my hotel job for one doing tech support at an outsourcing company. Unfortunately I HATED that job due to the necessity of being on the phone all day taking calls, not to mention all of the silly requirements and procedures that kept changing. I couldn’t keep up. Didn’t I know about the phone situation before taking the job? Of course but I thought I could handle it. Not so.

As usual, I’ve fallen off the weight-loss wagon, have done nothing to build my potential writing career, and am unemployed while job-hunting. And so I find myself where I was last June, only I’m almost a year older: 25. Not where I thought my life would be at 25. When I was 18, I imagined my 25 in Hollywood working at some film company, partying (not too much) with friends, in a great relationship (check that off the list), thin and beautiful, and possibly about to win an Academy Award—yup, I was a big dreamer. Now it’s hard to get out of bed, which brings me to the main reason for avoiding the blog-o-sphere: my battle with Depression.

Amongst all of my drama, my husband’s life, and the issues with his family, Depression had taken the wheel driving my thoughts, emotions, and even some choices. Before reentering the blog, I wrestled with the idea of even talking about this because of the mixed reactions from people, but ultimately I believe it beneficial for others to learn from and understand a life with this disease since so many people suffer from it. Plus, I hate when people pretend life is wonderful and are actually dying inside—I’m taking the honest approach.

Unless you have Depression it’s hard to comprehend or even explain the mind-screw and mood changes one is put thru. Those without it say, “what do you have to be depressed about?” “just be grateful” “get over it” “there are people much worse off than you” and so on. This disease is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and although pills can help, it remains a constant day-to-day struggle. I hate the idea of taking pills, but lately it seems like the only option (once I get insurance, ugh) since my depression has nearly ended my marriage. Don’t worry, we’re okay for now but I never know when my anger will become extreme or I’ll feel this unbelievable ache to disappear.

With my weight, job-hopping and dissatisfaction, and lack of writing potential, my moods are aggravated, my thoughts turn dark, and it feels like there’s no solution and I’ll never crawl out of the hole I dug. Pretty crappy, no? It makes remaining optimistic nearly impossible.

For those of you not affected and perhaps not following, depression inflates the tiniest self-criticism into a life or death situation. Here’s an example of a recent thought process I had on a day where I remained glued to the couch instead of working out like I’d wanted and should have:

I should’ve worked out- I’m such a couch potato- what a lazy loser – no wonder I’m HUGE- no wonder I haven’t written anything or have a job- I’ll never get a good job- I’ll never write anything important- why can’t I motivate myself- I’m such a bad writer- I’m a joke pretending to write- I’ll always be a fat loser on the couch- I’m such a waste of space and air- no wonder no one calls or cares or keeps in touch- if I died no one would even come to my funeral- sometimes I wish I wouldn’t wake up- I hate myself- I hate life- I want to die.

And there you go. I’m even getting tearful now rereading those thoughts because I feel each and every one of them everyday in some capacity. FYI- I will NEVER kill myself. Suicidal thoughts have become almost a daily routine but as I am a firm believer in God and Jesus and would love the honor of being allowed into Heaven, I will NEVER kill myself. When I was about 8 or 9 I attempted to suffocate myself in private but fortunately God reminded me that suicide is never the answer and I would hurt my family. However, there are many others who don’t share the strong faith I do so please watch for the signs, listen, and NEVER EVER TRIVIALIZE DEPRESSION.

A few things to look for: Moodiness, any mention of suicide or how much better life would be without the person in it etc., change in diet, lack of energy, anti-social behavior, lack of hygiene or any effort in personal appearance (my “no make-up days” are bad days for me).

Make no mistake, this is an exceedingly difficult disease to live with but I do not wish to downplay the turmoil those on the outside go thru when involved with someone who has depression. My poor husband had no idea what he was getting into (and to be honest neither did I since the depression has gotten worse). I’ve put him thru hell with my moods, maltreatment of him, and desire to runaway. Fortunately he has tons of patience and just wants me back to my old self, though I’m not sure if it’s even possible. If you are in a relationship (friendly, familial, or romantic) with someone who has depression seek your own version of counsel and realize that it affects you too.

I’m not really sure where to go from here in terms of this entry. Though I wish I could end on a hopeful note, I can honestly say that I have no idea where to go from here; what the future holds; if I’ll even stick with my current future plans. It’s daunting, frightening, and sad. I don’t even have dreams anymore… not really. There are things I want but this mental rut has me believing I will never reach my goals. Yesterday I concluded that ever since school ended I’ve been unable to cope with my life. I’m all over the place, lost, unsure of myself… well let’s be honest I hate myself, which is something I need to work on. Perhaps this stint of unemployment will finally shed light to get me through this darkness.