Monthly Archives: May 2015

Graduations and Transitions

Both of my daughters are graduating this spring.

Guzzy is graduating from High School with her same-age friends;  an incredible accomplishment given that she missed much of her junior year of school due to her battle with anorexia. This year has been a heavy academic load; and while it was a bumpy ride–she ultimately rose to the challenge.   Guzzy has been accepted into two good UW schools;  but has wisely decided to take a gap year to breathe, grow, consolidate her recovery, and evaluate her next steps.

My oldest daughter, Kelly, is changing careers.  After a ten-ish year run as an entomologist she tired of working with cockroaches (I am referring to the actual insects–not to her co-workers)  and has recently graduated from an 18-month teaching program at the University of Minnesota.  Combined with her undergrad, she is certified to teach Spanish and ESL in K-12.  She is a couple credits shy of a masters–which is intentional so that she and her classmates won’t be priced out of range for available teaching positions.

This 18 month program required that Kelly simultaneously student-teach; attend college classes and keep up with her twin toddlers at home.  Kelly has always been an incredibly hard-worker, with a laser focus on her goals; so it is no surprise that she was able to sustain a schedule that would have reduced most of us to drooling zombies.

It occurs to me that neither I or my 3 children took a traditionally linear approach to  higher education.  My son took a couple ‘gap’ years on his path to achieve his physics undergrad; Kelly has taken a second-pass at her education to change fields; and Guzzy is taking a time-out to reset and assess before jumping into college.  Perhaps we are genetically disposed to indecision and/or dawdling.  I prefer to think of it as reserving the right to get smarter over time;  a philosophy I still invoke on a regular basis.

I was 29 before I graduated from College.  At the time I had two young children, an unhealthy marriage, four job offers, and a lot of student debt.  A degree in Computer Systems was a major accomplishment that provided the means for the financial independence that ultimately allowed me to take control of my own life, and to provide a better life for my children.  I still consider it one of the hallmark accomplishments of my life–all the  more sweet because my path through college was not traditional or easy.

This graduation season provides an opportunity to take a time-out from the busy-ness of live and celebrate important milestones.  For myself, I will be raising a glass to both my daughters and to myself – its been a hell of a ride.

With Kelly at my graduation

With Kelly at my graduation

Kelly in gown with her girls (FYI - she is kneeling, she is really noticeably taller than her toddlers)

Kelly in gown with her girls (FYI – she is kneeling, she is really noticeably taller than her toddlers)

Eating Disorders: Fact or Crap

Fact or Crap  is the name of an actual game (not sure by who – and I’m too lazy to go downstairs and look)  The game has cards with declarative statements;  and the players ‘vote’ on whether the statement is fact or crap.  Welcome to my ED version of Fact or Crap!

First the quiz… then scroll down for the answers and my completely subjective assessment of the results.

FACT or CRAP

1.  Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness.

2. Eating disorders affect people of all genders, age, and race.

3. In most cases, families are to blame when a child has an eating disorder.

4.  There are proven treatments for ED, that if followed carefully, and with the guidance of appropriate providers, can cure any ED patient.

5. The media causes anorexia.

6.  You can tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them.

7.  Recovery is possible.

8.  Dieting usually does more harm than good and is a common gateway for eating disorders.

9.  Most health insurance covers ED treatment with a minimum of hassle.

10.    YOU can help.

Answer Key

1.  Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness.  FACT:  the precise percentage varies on which study you read:  but approximately 15% of those diagnosed with anorexia  will die of either medical complications or suicide.  (Yet, research and prevention remains grossly underfunded when compared to other mental illnesses).

2. Eating disorders affect people of all genders, age, race, weight and body size.   FACT:  You simply cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them.

3. In most cases, families are to blame when a child has an eating disorder. CRAP:  In fact, families are usually the patients’ best allies in treatment.

4. There are proven treatments for ED, that if followed carefully, and with the guidance of appropriate providers, can cure any ED patient. CRAP:  While there are excellent treatment facilities and providers, and many patients DO recover:  each case is unique and there are no guarantees of success, even if the treatment providers and family members do everything ‘right’.

5. The media causes anorexia.  CRAP.  The meda certainly CONTRIBUTES to the prevelance of eating disorders; but it is not solely responsible for causing a serious eating disorder; nor does everyone exposed to the same images develop an eating disorder.   Having said that, I am the FIRST in line to rally against the impossible standards of beauty and THINNESS that is imposed on all of us.

6.  You can tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at them.  CRAP:  There are many people with eating disorders, including anorexia, that appear healthy outwardly.   It is common for an ED patient to have a normal or even above-normal weight, but their body can be malnourished due to the damage caused by restriction and/or purging.

7.  Recovery is possible. FACT!   In addition to participating in and seeing my own daughter’s recovery, I have talked to many former sufferers who shared that they never thought they could get better… but they did.    While recovery is not guaranteed – its is possible!!

8.  Dieting usually does more harm than good and is a common gateway for eating disorders.  FACT:  There have been many studies that demonstrate that dieting is very rarely effective for a sustained weight lost.  Dieting should be discouraged  – especially for young girls and teens.

9.  Most health insurance covers ED treatment with a minimum of hassle.  CRAP: Unfortunately, many carriers don’t cover residential treatment in particular; and will push back unless (or rather, until) there is a MEDICAL emergency.  Finding appropriate treatments is often a significant financial burden on the impacted families.

10.    YOU can help.   FACT!!!  Read my blog, go to the NEDA site.  And  WALK and/or contribute to a NEDA walk.  We need you!  NEDA Walk

Results (aka your role in my fictional ED band)

9-10 correct:  you are an ED rockstar!

6-8 correct:  On the right track to achieving rockstar status.  Maybe you are a backup singer, or a bass player.

4-5 correct:  Kinda lame, but there is hope. Maybe a groupie?  or a drum player?

1-3 correct:  Definitely Lame.  You have no rhythm. Remedial reading is needed.  You should definitely read: the recent NEDA Blog:  ED Truths

 

 

 

Mother’s Day: A wish for my Mom

Mom:  It is our first mother’s day since your passing.  However, it is not our first mother’s day without you.    We lost you to Alzheimers well before we lost you to death.  You lost yourself while your body still lived.

When you left this earth, you also left the fear and confusion of your disease.  My wish for you is that your soul is at peace.

Book Club Redux (Again)

(is it ironic that I accidentally published/posted this before it was done;  so I had to delete the original post and then REPOST an  updated version of a post that has ‘redux’ in the title?) 

About 6 months ago, I started another book club.  I had ulterior motives.   I didn’t want to lose touch with the group of smart, funny, and generally wise-ass women I had gotten to know at my then workplace; since some of them (as well as myself) have since moved on to other professional pastures.   Although the politics of that workplace frequently made our eyes roll back in our heads in collective disbelieve and dismay;  this group of co-workers was amazing.  I have never made better friends so quickly at work.

B and I worked together quite a bit and we have a shared sense of humor. If we  sat next to each other during a meeting there was a very good chance that one of us would crack up; which was problematic and slightly unprofessional since one of us (or both of us) were generally running the meeting.  B would mumble sarcastic comments under her breath so only I could hear them; and I would occasionally send snarky instant messages (IMs) about the unfortunate casual Friday wardrobe choice of a colleague.  A tip to any male readers:  Short shorts are a poor choice at work (or anyplace else)  This isn’t the 70s! 

For those of you that work in offices:  The next time you are in a meeting and people are focused on their laptops – keep in mind that they are probably IMing the person across the table about lunch plans or about the Edward Scissorshands-like hairdo on the 12 year-old intern sitting next to them.

My first book club was great fun for several years, until we experienced too much attrition to keep it going.  One member moved to Florida (Hi Cheryl!), another decided to travel the world (Hi Deanne), another kind of drifted away (Miss You S!).  Scheduling with the remaining few became a nightmare.  We are all still friends, although we don’t see each other nearly enough.

So – the new book club is now in full swing and it feels like it has gelled into something that we value and (therefore) will continue.  For your reading pleasure, I offer my personal recipe for a successful bookclub.

1.  The main ingredient is 3-6  Fun, funny, smart women friends  (Men are optional, but their presence will inhibit important conversations about menopause)

2.  Wine:   B provided glasses that would hold a whole bottle.   Which is good, because I was driving and could only have one glass.

3. A book selection:  We rotate book selection, which means we get a reasonable variety.  Keep in mind that not everyone needs to like every book.  In fact, we have more interesting discussions when some like the book and some don’t.   (Warning: according to SOME ‘The Shipping News’ is too dense and it is a poor choice- humph).

4. Wine:  I personally prefer white, but its best to have both red and white.

5.   Snacks:   Most of my sisters-in-books like to show-off with home-made items, including bacon wrapped goodies.  (you can wrap almost anything in bacon and it is delicious).  Of course, if you have enough wine, a box of Ritz crackers and a tub of cheez-whiz will do.

6.  Location:  We rotate among our houses.  the host provides the snacks and WINE.  We don’t go crazy about cleaning.  That defeats the purpose of a stress-free evening with friends.

So, there you go:  Free of charge – a proven recipe for success. Read on!