Monthly Archives: March 2015

Madison will Rock This! 2015 NEDA Walk

I am super excited to be the Coordinator of the 2015 Madison NEDA Walk on September 20th.

My daughter suffered from a severe eating disorder in High School.  Her illness, treatment, and eventual recovery set me on a trajectory of education, advocacy and activism on behalf of eating disorder awareness and prevention.  Help is available and recovery IS possible.

Last fall I went to the NEDA Conference in San Antonio, and was blown away by the dedication and passion of the NEDA staff, health care providers, parents and most of all, by those in recovery; who shared their hard-won wisdom and their stories.  Stories that will break your heart and lift you up.

During and after the conference I asked myself:  What can I do?   This event is the answer to that question.

Now, the question is – What can YOU do?   

1.  Register for the walk – it is going to be AWESOME!   Click Here to register and/or donate

2.  Create Your own team!   The walk will be even MORE awesome with more friends

3. Make a contribution. Help get our fund-raising thermometer to the HOT HOT HOT setting!

4. Tell all your friends, family, neighbors and that certain someone you’ve been too shy to talk to – I can’t think of a better ice breaker!

5. If you want to learn more about Eating Disorders or my family’s journey against ED – read my posts from the ‘eating disorders suck’ menu.  But not until after you’ve contributed to the walk.

Below is additional information from (and about) NEDA 

The National Eating Disorders Association’s vision is to eliminate eating disorders globally by promoting positive body image and self-esteem and by discouraging dieting behaviors, drive for thinness, and body dissatisfaction. NEDA is recognized and supported by sufferers, families, health care professionals and educators throughout the world. As you can see, raising awareness for this organization is critical in order to create a world where all women, girls and men feel confident about their bodies and are embraced for who they are as individuals, not what they look like. NEDA provides critical programs and services to support individuals and families affected by eating disorders like their National toll-free Helpline, Annual Conference, Parents, Families and Friends Network, NEDA Navigators and Preventative Tookits for Parents and Educators.

 

Officially Childless

My baby turns 18 today.  I am now the mother of 3 adults.  While they are still MY children, they are no longer actually children.  This will take some getting used to.

As a parent, the months go slow and the years go fast.  Its cliche, but true, that it doesn’t seem that long ago that she was a little girl.  Today, Guzzy is a young woman.   Still in High School and still living with her parents, but moving slightly every day towards greater independence.  It is likely to be a gradual transition.  The empty nest is not yet ‘just’ around the corner.  Today is a step in that journey.

I had a hard time with empty nest when my first two chicks flew the coop.   My oldest, Kelly (chronic gin-rummy loser and mother of my grandbabies), has always had an independent spirit.  She had a plan and couldn’t WAIT to spread her wings at a college far enough away from home to truly break the apron strings.

Two years later my son, Ben, moved out the weekend after his High School Graduation. Ben was always super smart, but academics were not his priority.  He and a few of his like-minded under-achiever buddies rented an apartment nearby and proceeded to kill brain cells at an alarming rate.  Ben worked during this ‘gap’ year.  There’s nothing like a year of working 3rd shift in a meat locker to make a young man reconsider his higher education options.  Ben  decided to go to college and eventually (this is a whole ‘nother tale) achieved a degree in physics.

Despite the fact that I still had a young child at home, I was slightly befuddled with the change in my life’s purpose and circumstances when the older two were not a daily presence in my life.  After pouring the best of myself into these two young people, including several years as a single mom, they were gone (although the check writing continued for many more years).   Kelly and Ben were a bit unusual in that neither of them moved back home, other than for the occasional summer break.

Guzzy is still assessing her options for next year.  She will find her way; whatever path or timetable that takes.  We, her parents, have already begun the process of cautiously stepping back.  It feels like setting a younger child on a bike without training wheels for the first time, helping them get their balance, and then stepping back.  Sometimes this sequence needs to be repeated more than once–but eventually the child finds their balance and takes off.

 

 

Florida

For Part 2 of my Florida vacation I descended on my friend Cheryl, who recently relocated from Madison to Tampa, Florida.  Cheryl and her teenage daughter’s graciously shared their beautiful home and let me hang out with them for a few days.

We drove to St. Pete’s beach to meet up with some of Cheryl’s friends and to see the sunset;  the weather was perfect and the beach was amazing.    The sunset was obscured by clouds – but hey, you can’t have everything!

Sunday was another warm sunny Florida day: we went to Busch Gardens, which was a first for me.  The aforementioned teen girls were regulars at the park and (not surprisingly) they declined the opportunity to hang out with Cheryl and me… although I noticed they magically materialized whenever they were hungry or needed cash.  The park was hosting a wine and food festival with a band each night — so we enjoyed some decent wine and better-than-usual park food.

The day was delightful.  Although, Cheryl and I did not share her girl’s enthusiasm for the extreme roller coasters.  We did venture onto an ‘intermediate’ roller coaster, which was more than good enough for me!

I’m finalizing  this post a week later, from Minneapolis MN — which is under a weather advisory with a forecast of 5 inches of snow.  All in all, I’d rather be back in Florida.

Tennis marathon

I spent two days at Saddlebrook, Fl for a day tennis camp.  Each day included a three hour drill in the morning and a two hour drill in the afternoon.   For someone who has spent the last three plus months shivering in the frozen tundra of the north, I was eagerly anticipating some Florida sunshine.

When I signed up that this camp I recognized it would pose a challenge for me physically.   In the winter, I  play an average of 1-3 hours a WEEK; which was poor preparation for the rigors of this camp.  While I had ramped up my off-court workouts for a few weeks, I knew it was going to be a challenge.

Day 1: I slathered sunscreen on my pasty white limbs and ventured out to the warm-up court.  I was surprised and impressed by the sheer number of camp participants – there were at least 40 tennis ‘campers’ participating 10 minute pre-drill stretches.  Checking out the group: there were more men than women, and everyone else seemed to be under 40 and very fit.  *Gulp*

They broke up the big group into groups of 3-5; with each group assigned to a pro and a court.  As promised, it was an impressively low ratio of players to pros — assuring we would each get to hit a lot of balls, and get a lot of tips/instruction.  Cool – this is what I came for!

As it turned out the first morning was my most intense drill with 2 other women;  Sara — a really hard hitter; and Sabrina–a young French woman.  Sabrina and I had an interesting conversation which ended with a mild disagreement regarding the location of the Movie “Bridges over Madison County”.  (She felt it must have been made in my hometown of Madison, WI).   Sabrina would say charming things such as;  “Please not to try to hit me in the head’ or “please to move over’.

Many times the pros would have us play mini-games against each other.  The pros often lost track of the scores, which is understandable as they are really focused on giving us tips to improve our strokes.  I  resisted the temptation to correct the scores that they call out, because winning or losing these practice games is completely beside the point of why we are here.  Of course several other campers felt it was important that the scores be CORRECT, with a sense of injustice if they were robbed of a point.  I’m sure that drives the pros absolutely batty.  If I was consulted I would always say the score was four to four.  (*whatever*)

Both days were hot — even to the Florida natives.  After hour 4  I got dizzy and flushed, and sat out for about 10 minutes with some Gatorade.  I was less worried about maintaining my stoic facade than I was about surviving to play on day 2.

By the end of Day 1, I was wiped out and had some minor leg cramps.  I spent the evening re-hydrating and going to bed really early.   Day 2 I felt pretty good and ended up with a slightly slower paced group (probably not a coincidence).  I think our pro (a blond lefty from Czechoslovakia) was pregnant–but I learned a long time ago not to ask if you aren’t already sure.  We had a great day and we each picked up some great suggestions to improve our game.

My Fitbit went crazy — I won all sorts of phony fitbit online awards during the two days:  Marathon badge, sneakers award, didn’t faint and have to go to the ER award, etc.   It will be quite awhile before my Fitbit can record that same level of activity again in a two-day stretch.

On to vacation phase 2:   A visit with Cheryl.  Stay tuned.

Observations from Terminal B

I’m at O’Hare for a 3 hour layover en route to Tampa FL for some sun, tennis and to visit a friend who relocated to sunnier climes last year.  The airport is a busy, wired place–literally. Almost everyone, including myself, is plugged into some personal electronic device.  Although there are some exceptions.  There is an older couple (my definition of older is that they are at least 15 years older than me) reading an old-fashioned newspaper.  There is a group of energetic and boisterous high school students apparently on their way on some school-sponsored adventure; each step of the journey will be well-documented with a series of selfies – including several from gate B5.    I admire their energy and enthusiasm, which contrasts with the reserve exhibited by the majority of our fellow early morning travelers.

There are small family ‘pods’ several of whom are engaged in conversations, taking turns comforting fussy babies, sharing coffee, checking their phones.   There is a young couple that is completely engrossed with each other;  they are in their own little world and are compelled to frequently touch each other in flirtatious, sweet and playful ways.

The combination of the rigid plastic seats and my new Fitbit, begging for steps to count, got me up and moving.  I did a few laps around the B terminal observing the random blend of humanity around me.    I was struck by the percentage of Asian travelers wearing face masks.  What do they know that I don’t?  The most memorable award goes to the striking young Asian woman/girl sporting long bleached-blond hair, a pair of hot pink boots and a matching hot-pink carry-on.

Last night was a whirl of travel preparation while also dealing with a larger-than-usual critical mass of work related issues.  Packing also required some executive decisions.  We have several pieces of luggage of various sizes.  This includes one truly ginormous suitcase, nicknamed Bertha, which (whom?)  is usually reserved for major trips.  I was faced with the challenge of traveling with my tennis racket–the length of which precludes it from unpaid carry-on status. Hopefully my racket is sufficiently padded within the cloth walls of Bertha to arrive in Tampa intact.

I will be participating in a rigorous (outdoor!)  tennis camp for the next two days.  Although I did pack sunscreen, I failed to bring Ibuprofen.   I will add that to my Florida shopping list – along with a pair of hot pink boots.

Monica Seles Speaks Out against EDs

You may have heard Monica Seles’ story.  She was an electric and fabulously talented young player in the early 1990s.  Seles moved to Florida from Yugoslovia at the age of 13 to  live and train in a tennis academy.   During a stretch from 1991 to 1993, she won seven Grand Slam singles titles, all before her 20th birthday.  In 1993, her career was tragically cut short by a maniac who stabbed her in the shoulder court-side.  Her attacker was a crazed fan of Steffi Graf whom Monica was beating at the time.  Although she returned to tennis for a brief time, Monica never fully recovered her winning form.  We will never know how many MORE titles she would have been able to win.

Monica has recently revealed that she suffered from binge eating disorder during her playing years; and has since become an advocate for treatment and eating disorder awareness.   You can read more about it in the USA Today Article.

Monica was a ferocious competitor and I have no doubt that she is an equally fearless and dedicated champion for eating disorder advocacy.   Eating disorders are more common than you might think among athletes, both amateur and professional.  An athlete’s body is their biggest asset, and that heightened focus on their body and their nutrition can contribute to disordered eating.  Perfectionism and a heightened need for control are common traits among athletes and  among those afflicted with eating disorders.  Coaches and trainers should be particularly observant for their players / athletes… especially during the vulnerable adolescent years.

While I am very sorry that Monica struggled, I am very thankful that she is brave enough to share her story in a very public way.  Every celebrity that shares their personal story helps to erode the stigma that is still associated with eating disorders.

This story is a great find for me!   I don’t often get to combine my  love for tennis with my passion for eating disorder advocacy.    Perhaps Monica would be willing to trade some free PR  in my blog (an heretofore under-rated value) for a lesson to improve my backhand, or maybe a signed tennis ball?   Just give me a call Monica – I’m sure we can work something out!!!

Feeling Blue

Yes, it is only 3 days after posting my ‘life is good’ post.  Today I’m in a funk.

We’re experiencing continued drama from my husband’s former employer.  Without going into the details: money is owed and lawyers are being called.  The continued injustice weighs heavily on my mind. I have an unhealthy tendancy to brood over such things, and I need to find a way past it — for my own peace of mind.

This is a sad weekend.  Today was a funeral for an elderly gentleman at church — although I did not know him well, he was a member of the same church choir that I sang in for many years. Tomorrow is a memorial event for my daughter, Kelly’s friend (Jess) who died recently in a tragic hiking accident at the age of 33.

I showed up early for today’s funeral, brought a salad, paid brief respects to the family, and went downstairs to practice with the choir. I used to be stellar member of my church and choir, but I have not attended regularly for the last few years.  Many people greeted me warmly and wanted to catch up.  It seems odd, but I simply wasn’t able to cope with the reunion aspect of the event.  I became uncharacteristically overwhelmed, weepy and left.  It may also be a delayed response to my own mother’s recent funeral.

I’m glad that I went home. Guzzy and I played a rousing game of cards that (as usual) got us both laughing and (even more importantly) got me out of my own head… which has been a negative place recently.

This afternoon, I did my volunteer afternoon shift at the Solo and Ensemble event at our local High School.  I was the room monitor for a vocal performance room.  It was fascinating and inspiring to hear the fledgling musicians, and to hear all the positive, encouraging remarks from the upbeat judge. She had positive remarks for everyone — which in some cases required admirable creativity.

My funk has now downgraded to a reflective mood, which will certainly persist through tomorrow’s memorial service for Jess.   Kelly will be in town to pay her respects; it will be a sad reunion with many of her friends from High School.  Maybe we can play a card game with Guzzy afterwards.  Tears and Laughter often go together.

 

Life is Good

I should be heading to bed, but am still jazzed from a fun evening tennis drill.  I haven’t been a member of a tennis club for several years, and while I still manage to play a fair amount of tennis, I rarely have an opportunity for an instructional drill.  Today I got an email asking me to sub in a drill tonight with a group of strong, younger players and a pro.  Hell yea!  

Steve, our drill pro is 6’8″ and (of course) is a fabulous player – so we took turns with him as our partner and played out several point scenarios.  There were a couple times I thought my partner or I had hit a winner and I stopped playing, turning around away from the net confident that the point was over… BUT (while I wasn’t looking) Steve had raced to the ball and returned it, leaving my partner to cover the whole court herself, since I had already checked out of the point.  Eventually I got it in my brain that this wasn’t my normal group of over 45 and under 5’7″  tennis ladies, and got into a faster paced groove.

Last night was also a fun evening–it was book club night with a subset of our usual crew. It was a subset because we had an unusual number of last-minute cancellations. Despite the no-shows and the fact that only one of us managed to read whole book (no one liked it–maybe that’s why so many people cancelled), we had a great time.  We even came up with a name (actually 2 names)  We are torn between the The Literary Lushes or The Literary Luscious.

We talked a bit about the nature of worrying, and how it is generally not a productive use of time and can be counter-productive.  Pat (poet, avid reader and frequent commenter on this blog) shared a great technique for managing worry:  set aside 1-2 time slots a day to worry.  That way throughout the day, you can defer your worries, since you have a designated time for them.  When it is ‘worry time’, you set a timer, fret away for the designated timeframe; and when the buzzer goes off – you can get on with your day worry free (until the next time).

I have another friend who told me, years ago:  We have a lot to think about, but nothing to worry about.  It’s one of my favorite sayings.  A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with a number of Brits, and I picked up their phrase “No Worries”, which has been a useful addition to my vocabulary.

Tonight – I am worry-free,  happy, content, and (now) tired.  Sweet dreams all.

A Dilema

This is an epilogue to my ‘woman on the treadmill’ post.  There is a young woman who I have seen several times at our local fitness club, who is noticeably and significantly underweight.   I see her there every time I go to the club.  She is on the treadmill when I arrive, and is still going when I leave – sometimes two hours later.  I suspect she works out for hours a day.   And to allay any misconceptions about my own activity level:  I’m usually there to play pickleball with old people.  It can be intense, but is only mildly aerobic.

Sufferers in the grip of a severe eating disorder can be driven to obsessively exercise.  This is ED at its most insidious — compelling its sufferers to become ever-more committed to their illness.   When she was at her sickest, Guzzy could not sit still.  She would compulsively rapidly bounce and jiggle her legs whenever she had to sit–the whole couch would shake.

I have also pondered the liability to the health club itself, if they have members who are inflicting harm on themselves by excessive exercise, what is their responsibility?   When I signed up (with my ‘older adult’ discount); I had to fill out a form assuring them that I was healthy enough to exercise and absolving them of any liability if I wasn’t truthful. But, what if the health club has a legitimate reason to believe a patron is NOT healthy enough to exercise or that exercise could be detrimental to an individual’s health?   Do they have an obligation to Act?  What obligation do any of us have to act when someone we don’t really know is exhibiting self-destructive behavior?

Which leads me back to my own dilema:  What to do or say to the stranger on the treadmill?  I am a mid-westerner and we don’t like to intrude or be rude.  We mind our own beeswax.  But… I believe we need to at least TRY to help if we see someone who is in need (even if they don’t realize it);  so I have reached out to her.  While I realize the odds of my intervention making a difference is small, the odds are (ever so slightly) greater than zero; and I sleep better at night.