Monthly Archives: February 2015

NEDA Walk Minneapolis – amazing!

It was an exciting kick-off to Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Guzzy and I participated in the Third Annual NEDA walk in Minneapolis at the Mall of America – there were over 500 registered participants, and I’m sure there were a couple hundred more folks in attendance.  They raised over $50,000 to in the fight against eating disorders.

Minneapolis Mall of America NEDA walk

Minneapolis Mall of America NEDA walk

Terry Marks, the Chief Development Office gave an introductory speech, followed by a short set by ‘The Mrs’  an all-female rock-n-roll band that had me in tears with the lyrics of one of their songs that captured the dynamic of a mother-daughter relationship.  While I was wiping my eyes, I recognized the woman next to me taking pictures as Terry Marks.  I introduced myself and told her that I was organizing a walk for Madison in September.  In response she gave me a great big hug.  I introduced her to Guzzy, who also received a bear hug.  Guzzy convinced me to take a selfie with Terry not the most flattering pic of me… but it captures the moment.

At the Minneapolis NEDA Walk - Terry is the Chief Development officer at NEDA

At the Minneapolis NEDA Walk – Terry is the Chief Development officer at NEDA

The venue at the rotunda was perfect – we were able to take one lap around the mall in about 20 minutes.  I was able to visit all the sponsor tables, and got lots of ideas for what will be a more modest walk in the fall in Madison.    After the walk, Guzzy and I were really pumped up. I chatted with a few participants and organizers, giving and collecting business cards.

Then Guzzy and I spent a couple hours shopping, including a stop at  the first national sponsor of NEDA:  Aerie, a lingerie store, which is basically a scaled down and less sexualized version of Victoria’s Secret – so it felt good to spend some money there.   They have a campaign targeted to keeping it ‘real’… while also feeling good about yourself.   During our shopping expedition Guzzy found a cool hat and we greatly enjoyed our lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp.

Guzzy and I had left our coats in the car in the mall parking lot to avoid having to lug them with us everywhere we went all morning.  The scurry INTO the mall was invigorating at the least, with an air temp of -8 degrees.  Heading back to the car in the early pm was even more chilling, since the mittens and coats waiting for us in the car were a chill -5 degrees.  My hands protested greatly at being shoved into my frozen mittens for the short ride back to Eagan; where we spent a few more hours with the grandbabies before heading home for Madison.

Late last night after we arrived home after the long drive from Minneapolis, Guzzy gave me a great big bear hug, saying she’d had a great time.   Me too, sweetie… me too.


The top (and only) reason to not live in Minnesota

It is freakin’ cold.

This is from my daughter’s Facebook page:

Tough day today: -30 out and my car battery died. I spent over an hour sitting in my car waiting for the tow truck to come give me a jump because they were perpetually “5 minutes away”. Since I couldn’t pick up the girls from daycare, Luis (her husband) had to cancel his plans and come rescue both the girls and me. Teething, crankiness, cold-related-unhappiness followed. Also the throwing of packets of jelly while we ate supper. All after a 10 hour day (11 if you count the time waiting for the tow truck). I’m tired and going to bed. Tomorrow will be better, Luis told me so

I Had No Idea!

I had no ideaNext week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week.  From the  This year’s NEDA Awareness Week campaign, “I Had No Idea…” aims to promote public and media attention to the seriousness of eating disorders and improve education about the biological underpinnings, environmental triggers, warning signs and how to help those struggling.

Two years ago I HAD NO IDEA that eating disorders afflicted approximately 30 million men and women in the USA, or that Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of ANY mental illness.  I HAD NO IDEA regarding the pervasiveness and severity of the problem.

Two years ago I HAD NO IDEA that my own daughter would be afflicted with severe anorexia.  I HAD NO IDEA this could happen in good, loving families and was initially stunned and in denial.

Two years ago, I HAD NO IDEA what eating disorders (EDs) were all about — what causes them and how to treat them.   I have since learned more about the many variables that can contribute to an Eating disorder and learned more about prevention and treatment.  Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all cure.

Two years ago I HAD NO IDEA how strong or brave my daughter was.   I am in awe of her.  Ultimately, she owns her own recovery.

Two years ago I HAD NO IDEA how strong  I would be when my child was in the grip of a severe mental illness.   I HAD NO IDEA that I would become an advocate for eating disorder awareness.

We can all make a difference within our own circle of influence.  Reach out to someone who you think may be suffering and start a conversation — who knows what ideas may result.


Valentines Day

RoseLast year Dan and I bought each other the same Valentines Day card.  Today, my son and his wife got each other identical cards.  I think its a function of a shared sense of humor and romance as well as a result of shopping for cards in the same store.

We are besieged by images and stories of happy couples on Valentines Day.   Dan and I tend not to make a big deal out of the day.  As He says “Valentines Day is for Amateurs”.   I tend to think that Valentines Day is more significant for newish relationships since it provides a reason/excuse to be romantic for those that may be shy or uncomfortable expressing their feelings.

I used to have a co-worker who would regularly receive deliveries of large bouquets of roses at work from an attentive admirer.  I would frequently take a picture of the floral display to send to Dan… as a not-so-subtle hint that it is nice to receive flowers at work.  Last year I sent him such a picture at a time that we had some red roses at our house.  The roses were purchased for a Rose Bowl party we hosted the last time the Badgers lost the Rose Bowl, which for a couple years was a regularly recurring event.

Later that evening, I heard found a trail of rose petals leading from our kitchen through the house, up to the bedroom, where Dan lay on our bed with a rose on his chest.  What a romantic devil–I am a lucky lady.

Jess Dude

Jess DudeIn High school my oldest daughter, Kelly, had a good friend, whom she called  Jess Dude; it was never just Jess–It was Jess DUDE.   Like Kelly, Jess had an unique free spirit and a  love of nature and travel.  Kelly and Jess had many adventures together.

Like the time they went backpack camping in Canada — the kind of camping that I would personally not dream of doing; they carried in all their supplies on their backs and carried everything back out with them.  The trip included three (maybe 4?) young women in a remote area of Canada sleeping in the woods.  They shared a love of nature and were all strong, independent free spirits.  But, they had a problem; none of them could cook worth a damn without a microwave.  They rotated cooking chores and made a rule: You can only ask ONE question about the food.

Like the time that Jess Dude met Kelly and I in Washington DC for a March for Reproductive Rights.  We were part of the “Cheeseheads for Choice” contingent.  There were over a million marchers and many empassioned speeches by the likes of Hilary Clinton and Gloria Steinem.  Of course, most people were unaware of the march, since that was also the day that Michael Jackson dangled his (then) baby son over a hotel balcony–apparently stealing all the available media attention for that entire week.

Like the time during that same trip to Washington DC when Jess Dude and Kelly woke me up in our hotel room at 2 am all excited to show me an unusual bug they found nearby — they were geeky weird that way (or maybe there was alchohol involved… not sure)

Like the time Jess Dude rode to Minneapolis with us in preparation for Kelly’s wedding (she was a bridesmaid).  She regaled us during the 4+ hour trip (OK, five hours if you include the unplanned speeding ticket delay) with stories from her recent 6 month stay in Indonesia.  Jess Dude had a unique story-telling style;  which meandered through dimensions of time and geography in a very non-linear fashion with so many sidebars that she and her audience were regularly completely derailed from the original story-line.  We were enthralled, amused and bemused by her tales of misadventure and discovery.

Once in Minneapolis we shared a hotel suite the night before the  wedding.  Jess was looking out the window and in a very conversational mild tone mentioned “Guys – There’s a guy down there with a gun”.   My husband joined her at the window, where he and Jess witnessed a drug deal gone bad.  They subsequently gave statements to the police.  It was yet another memorable and eventful evening with Jess Dude.

Kelly has many more memories and adventures.  The last several years they have been far apart, since Jess has been working and living in remote areas of Alaska.  She did licensing inspections on commercial fishing boats–one of a handful of women doing that type of work. But, despite the distance, they stayed in touch.  They were soul-sisters.

Today Kelly mourns her sister.  Jess went missing while taking a hike in a remote mountainous area.  Yesterday they recovered her body from a snowy ravine.

We never know what’s around that next corner–what trajectory will follow our next step.  What would you do differently if you knew you had little time to live?  To borrow another way of phrasing the question (from Lean In):  “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”   Jess wasn’t afraid – she did what she loved, on her own terms and was not bound by convention or other people’s notions of who or what she should be.  She is already sorely missed.

College Daze

I remember starting college at age 18.  I went to an in-state university a couple hours away from my home town.  I was excited, nervous, anxious and very eager to move away from my home and my oh-so-boring family!   It was my time to shine– with all the boundless energy, optimism, blissful ignorance and exuberance of youth.

I have always been a blend of drama-queen and nerd.  Think Debate team–but with flair.  Think clunky glasses with platform shoes.   I was determined to re-invent a less nerdy version of myself at college; so, like many freshmen, I embarked on a variety of exploratory misadventures – testing the bounds of who I was when no longer constrained by my geeky reputation; which I totally blame on the trend set by my uber-geeky older brother–he was in AV club for gawds sakes.   (For my younger readers the term ‘AV’ is audio-visual;  the AV club consisted of the biggest geeks in the school–they would deliver and setup the film projectors and slide projectors; archaic, temperamental, pre-internet devices that required special care and handling.)

I had my share of indiscretions and foibles as a college freshmen;  more than enough to disqualify my own behavior as a shining example for my own children.  However, this does not deter me from giving advice for my daughter, Guzzy, as she looks forward to college next year.

For Guzzy there is added level of concern, since the transition to college can be particularly risky for those who may have a history of eating disorders or other mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression.  I found a great Article about going away to college  that goes into the topic in some depth.

After much discussion, we are making adjustments NOW to give Guzzy greater independence;   We (her parents) are backing-off and giving her the space to make more of her own decisions about eating, studying and other day-to-day activities while she’s still at home.  We all are getting used to the idea of Guzzy’s independence and responsibility for maintaining her health and taking care of her schoolwork with a minimum of parental involvement. This will also help assess her readiness to be successful with living away from home and coping with all the exciting new experiences, situations and people that she will encounter in college.

I’ve been a parent for 30+ years now; and I maintain that the single hardest, and possibly most important, role of a parent is to allow their teen to increasingly bear the consequences of their own decisions and actions;  intervening only when we judge those consequences to be too harsh or dire.  Parents do their teens a disservice if they constantly rescue them from their own actions–how will they learn?  In the ED support world, there is a saying:  Feedback not Failure. 

Guzzy has already dealt with more adversity than most.  She is stronger and more resilient than I was at her age.  She is awesome and she will totally rock this!!  


Personal update

It is summer in Australia.  Today I am rooting for underdog Andy Murray to beat Novak Djokavic in the men’s final of the Australian Open.  As I write this, they are only three games into the match, and it is already proving to be a nail-biter of exquisite quality.   Wow – these guys are so freakin’ good!  Looooonnng points… I’m exhausted just watching them.

The tennis is a welcome distraction from the snow falling outside and my cruddy cold- which I believed is now a sinus infection.  I have been sick for much of January and am very sick of being sick.

My new job is now going well —   I’ve been given a lot of responsibilities and am (thus far) relishing the challenge.

Dan has a new job-WHOOT!!!  He starts on Monday as the sales and service director for a company that sells and services dock lifts.  This is a welcome turn of events, as he had not been getting paid regularly in his last position.   He has already been adjusting his morning routine to get used to what will be much earlier morning hours.   I admit to being entertained by his struggles over the adjustment.

Guzzy had rough patch towards the end of last semester. She has emerged from new difficulties–scarred, but wiser and stronger.  Throughout her trials and tribulations, her recovery from ED remains solid.  While I don’t want to minimize her current struggles–they are a far cry from the life-threatening illness she has already overcome.

Speaking of the fight against Eating disorders:  we have a date, venue and a committee for a fund-raising walk for NEDA in the fall.  Our event will be on September 20th at the Madison zoo–scheduled for a Sunday to avoid conflicts with the mania associated with a home Badger Football game!  Yesterday i had a call with the walk committee, and I was feeling pretty crappy – but I got totally re-energized by the infectious enthusiasm of the other committee members.  I’m not doing this alone!  They are pumped about making this happen.