Monthly Archives: June 2015

Stoked! (and some random thoughts about perfection)

The Madison NEDA walk is less than three months away – things are starting to get real!    We had a committee meeting last night at the Vilas Park, where we will be holding the event.  The weather was gorgeous, and I got there early to walk the path around the perimeter of the park, which will most likely be the route we take on the day of the walk itself.   It’s about a mile.  As a fund raiser for eating disorders, it is not our intent to have an aerobic, distance event.  It’s a symbolic walk.

We all got really stoked by being at the venue and visualizing what we can do with the space; and by the energy and great ideas shared by a new committee member.  She had some great ideas and connections for sponsors, speakers, and local semi-famous people we can contact in support of our walk.  Her energy was and is contagious!

We talked for two hours and came away with some great ideas for generating publicity, interest and sponsorship for our event.  Now the challenge for ALL of us is to find the time and take the RISK of reaching out to those beyond our circle of comfort.

I discovered some vestigial shyness that I needed to overcome  personally, in order to reach out to request support of our very worthwhile event from Eating disorder providers and from local businesses.  Respecting my inner nerd,  I had to clarify and hone the message I wanted to deliver:  1) Why this is such a worthy cause  2) why I care so much about it personally, 3) options for how they could help and 4) what is in it for them (cheap, easy publicity and the satisfaction of supporting a truly worthy cause). Once I had the message crystal clear, I had the confidence to articulate it to others.

Thus far I’ve received donations from my dentist, my yoga studio, a personal trainer, and an author I admire.  All I had to do was ASK!   These successes are building my confidence in continuing to ask… wherever I go. The act of asking creates an opportunity to inform and educate,  which may reap unexpected rewards beyond donations for the walk.

I often listen to audio books on my way to and from work.  I prefer lighter, comedic material for my commute; to improve the probability that I will be in a good mood when I arrive at my destination.  My current selection is “I Regret Nothing” by Jen Lancaster.  In a passage I listened to this morning, Jen laments those that rely solely on social media to promote causes, versus DOING something about it.  Her example:  It is better to drop off a sack of groceries at a food bank than to post something about hunger on Facebook.  (I am paraphrasing – my apologies to Jen).   That struck a chord with me, and is spot-on with my personal  motivations for coordinating this walk; I’ve done the reading, the research, the lamenting and gnashing of teeth, the POSTING ON MY BLOG… all of that is fine; but it is not a substitute for DOING something.

DOING something is risky.  We might fail.  People may not understand.  Not everyone will support us.   We worry that we will make mistakes, we won’t be perfect.  The goal of perfection often gets in the way of taking action, taking risks, trying something new. Tragically, for many eating disorder sufferers the pursuit of unattainable perfection leads them down a path of incredible pain and suffering.  I am not a fan of perfection:  it is usually an impossible  ideal that makes us unhappy with what we DO have, who we ARE, or what we CAN accomplish.

My Promise to you:  The NEDA walk will  not be perfect, but it will be AWESOME!

A Fond Farwell

Today we said goodbye.  Dan’s mom Betty, was a force to be reckoned with–even at age 91.   As my sister-in-law,  Janice aptly described in her very moving eulogy :  Betty had all her marbles… and then some.

It was a hoot looking at the old photos, especially the family photo circa 1981 (before I was part of the clan); and seeing how much both the people and the fashions have changed.  Dan was the shirtless stud-muffin with the short-shorts, big hair and over-sized glasses that marked the era.  The 20-something grandchildren got a kick out of the vintage 80s  look.  (What on earth were we all thinking?)  

Betty would have enjoyed the service, the lunch, and the gathering at the bar afterwards.  She always loved a party!  Betty was the glue that kept Dan’s birth family together over the years.  She never wavered in hosting both Christmas Day and Easter–and you’d better have a good excuse if you were going to miss either of them!   Now that both Ed and Betty are gone;  the definition and shape of the family will morph into something different.  New holiday traditions will form, new memories will be made.

Life goes on even as we grieve:  Guzzy got on a bus today with her choir sisters for their annual road trip / tour.  As a senior, it is Guzzy’s last tour.   This is a MUCH anticipated event, and is a culmination of many weeks and months of practice for the girls and planning by the chaperones.  Guzzy’s adult post high-school life  awaits her return.

People leave legacies of all types. I sang at the funeral today, and someone asked me where I got my voice.  I like to think that a small part of my mom lives in me when I sing (or at least when I sing well…. when I sing badly that’s all on me).

As I think of my mom when I sing; I will think of Betty when shopping at JC Penney or when the family gatherings go on a bit longer than I would like;  or when Dan and I take a rustic vacation together (inside joke that is way to complicated to explain)…. she will be remembered.

Another Vigil Ends

Dan’s mom, Betty, passed away last night. Betty was 91 and was remarkably healthy until the last few months.  Her mind was incredibly sharp right to the end, when her body failed her.

By the time I met Betty, she was already in her 80s;  stooped over from the permanent ‘c’ shape in her upper back; but mentally and verbally sharp as could be.  Betty loved being surrounded by family and friends, and didn’t like to be alone–although she was often lonely after the passing of her husband Ed in late 2013.

Her sole grand-daughter lamented not calling Granny enough:  I told her she had been a very attentive and loving grand-daughter; and no amount of calling would have been ‘enough’ for Granny Betty.  Betty was a force to be reckoned with;  she knew and spoke her mind; she was loving and she was judgmental; she was sweet and she was sour.  We all loved her dearly and she will be missed.

This was my second vigil in 6 months.  My mother lingered in hospice for over 2 weeks before passing in January.    Vigils are painful; but are also a powerful source of comfort.  Vigils are a time to remember and reminisce; a time to laugh and to cry; to hug and hold hands with both the dying and the living; Vigils serve as a reminder of what (and who) is truly important and what is not.   I feel lucky and privileged to have been part of Betty’s life and to have been part of her passing.

From Denial to Advocacy in the age of social media

NEDA recently published my  Story of hope, entitled A Mom’s Journey from Denial to Advocacy    It may look familiar – as it was originally published in this blog.

As a self-proclaimed advocate, I am attempting to leverage social media, with mixed results. I created a Twitter account, and now I don’t know what to do with the damn thing.  Ditto Instagram.  I once asked a friend: ; “Do you Tweet?”, to which he replied “Only when pinched”.   Apparently, I need to be pinched.

My initial foray into FB years ago resulted in a nasty encounter with a cyber-stalker.    As I setup my FB account, I innocently proceeded to ‘friend’ people from my Google contact list–including some that I really didn’t know all that well, but had exchanged emails with at some point in time.  This category included a former co-worker whom I will call Tom  (largely because I don’t remember his actual name).   Most people accepted my friend invitation and I started to explore the then-fledgling world of Facebook.

The NEXT DAY I received a series of vile FB messages from a woman who was Tom’s girlfriend.  How DARE I friend her man???   How Inappropriate — How Scheming!   She demonstrated a disturbingly profane vocabulary to  vent her disgust with me.   I responded to her first email advising I would be happy to unfriend him… he was and is ALL hers.   However, that did not placate her.  She somehow managed to find my cell phone number (to this day I don’t know how she did that) and  left me a series of deranged and disturbing voicemail messages.   It was getting scary.   I suspect that due to her psychosis, she didn’t know the difference between Facebook and Match.com; or cheatin-whores.com.

I blocked her and reported her account to FB…  after which time she managed to message me with more threats from someone else’s account.   He also got blocked and reported.   ‘Tom’ called me and apologized profusely.  Apparently his woman-friend was off her meds.  No kidding!  He was actually a little miffed that I didn’t want to be FB friends with him anymore.  I suggested he had much bigger problems to deal with in his life.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some cat videos to watch.

Less Worry and More Party!

it started with a horrible dream.  When I awoke; I was relieved to realize that my world was  intact and my loved ones were safe and sound.  The message was clear and unambiguous:  I am worrying about the WRONG things.  I am wasting my mental energy with negative thoughts over ultimately trivial matters.

Despite this epiphany; it is not an easy thing to reset my internal dialogue.  Those mental grooves are deeply etched…  there is a reason they call it a ‘rut’.

Dan and I are dealing with aging and ailing parents; and our respective jobs have been particularly stressful and draining for both of us over the past few months.  My natural inclination in times of stress and challenge has been to take action-make a change.   However, that has not always served me well.

At this time I am taking a pause: taking an inventory, catching my breath; and consciously trying to be more mindful and present in the NOW.  Luckily, we are getting a dose of positive energy as we gear up to celebrate Guzzy’s graduation this weekend.  It will be a joy to see so many of our/her friends and family gathered together.

Thus my new motto: Less Worry and More Party!