Healthy, Balanced Ways to Manage Stress

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By Coralie Darsey-Malloy

 

Holidays and special events often bring unresolves issues to the surface. During these times it is  important to approach them with moderation, balance and modesty rather than media hype and marketing ploys.  Over extensions of time, energy and money combined with lack of sleep, disruption of normal routines, frequently lead to an emotional hangovers after any big event.

   1.  Maintain balance and moderation in all things.      Nothing throws the system off like sleep deprivation or over-loading the body with too much food.   After a big turkey, dinner most can attest to the ‘sleepy’ feelings that come from protein overload and the calming effects of the amino acid tryptophan present in turkey.  Being mindful of alcohol and food consumption can also prevent the overloaded feeling that builds up throughout the season and leads to emotional lows when the celebrations are over.

  2.  Make time for fitness and fresh air and sunshine.   Many people have a difficult time fitting daily exercise in under normal conditions.  During hectic times like Christmas, exercise is the last thing that comes to mind.  My message is a different one.  January is coming and the longer you stay away from your various routines,   the harder it will be to get back to where you were.   One way to alleviate stress is to start a new tradition with family and friends that includes physical movement in social settings. Try going for a walk, having a snowball fight or frolicking outside for a while.   It is a guaranteed way to avoid feeling stressed.  

  3.  If you want to reduce the chances of a “blah or low time” try not to be hooked on ‘artificial highs.’  Anticipate great events by having realistic expectations, forethought and enough time ability to plan.  Meaningful gifts do not have to over-extend the budget. It may sound trite it is the thought and effort that goes into gifts that is the true value. Something baked or created with love and affection and exchanged with nice card and/or heartfelt expressions of affection often mean far more to the recipient than an extravagant gift based on material value alone.  These types of gifts usually do not break the budget or lead to financial regret when credit card bills start to roll in after the artificial high and media hype of the holidays are over.

  4.  Be prepared for the re-surfacing of buried emotions.  Family events often trigger buried emotions and can add to emotional lows.  The challenge for each of us is to be courageous and committed to reaching a point where we are able to accept people for who they are … whether we agree with them or not.    If a family member’s behavior is particularly upsetting, set boundaries.   Sometimes conflicts are not worth open confrontation or the timing may be inappropriate.  Instead go elsewhere, take a few deep breaths and either shelve or ignore the person and comments. If there is a need to clear the air it is preferable to contact the person after the holidays and discuss the issue under less stressful circumstances.  Ignoring poor behavior is an effective way of disempowering it.

5. Participate.   There are blessings in giving that do not hold the same feeling as always being on the receiving end. Balance is the key in every area of life. Giving can take many forms other than just the material.  Giving can include visiting and offering support to a less fortunate family, volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen, canvassing for a favorite charity or cause or visiting a retirement home or hospital.  Any of these ‘gifts’ could really make someone else’s day.

 6. Give yourself the gift of ‘self-health.’  The gift of self-health begins with your own actions.  Make a plan to eat less, (especially junk food, sugar, coffee and alcohol.)  Keep water intake high (two to three liters per day) get adequate amounts of sleep, fresh air, sunshine and exercise.  Humour is a great stress reliever so rent some funny movies and laugh, laugh and laugh some more. Laughter releases endorphins that create a natural high and exercises the tummy muscles in an ‘internal jog.’  If relationships need mending, forgiveness is a good place to start.  If we maintain an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for large and small blessings it focuses the heart and mind in positive flows of energy.

What greater gift can you receive than to function at a high level and to flourish physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually?  Good health, a sense of well-being, friends, loved ones and a purposeful life create a feeling of abundance without monetary measure. Implementing all or part of the above suggestions will help maintain balance and prevent emotions from getting too high…or low.  However, when all is said and done the  best way to create an emotional high that will keep on as long as we practice it is to focus more on what we can do for others and less on what is not working in our own lives.  The benefits will be yours to enjoy.

 

 

Mind Maps are a Powerful Self-Discovery Tool

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–By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy
Mind maps are, by definition, a graphical method of taking notes. The visual basis of them helps one to distinguish words or ideas, often with colors and symbols. They generally take a hierarchical or tree branch format, with ideas branching into their subsections. Mind maps allow for greater creativity when recording ideas and information, as well as allowing the note-taker to associate words with visual representations. Mind maps and concept maps are different in that mind maps focus on only one word or idea, whereas Concept maps connect multiple words or idea.

Mind maps (or similar concepts) have been used for centuries By by educators, engineers, psychologists, and others. Some of the earliest examples of mind maps were developed by Porphyry of Tyros, a noted thinker of the 3rd century, as he graphically visualized the concept categories of Aristotle. Philosopher Ramon Llull (1235 – 1315) also used mind maps.

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps can generate ideas, assist with structure, and classify ideas. They also and aid in study, organization, learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and proactive problem solving

The elements of a given mind map inspire and promote “intutive knowing according to the importance of the concepts. Then they are classified into groupings, branches, or areas, with the goal of representing semantic or other connections between portions of information. Mind maps may also aid recall of existing memories.

By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, mind maps encourage a brainstorming approach to planning and organizational tasks. Though the branches of a mind map represent hierarchical tree structures, their radial arrangement disrupts the prioritizing of concepts typically associated with hierarchies presented with more linear visual cues. This orientation towards brainstorming encourages users to enumerate and connect concepts without a tendency to begin within a particular conceptual framework.

The mind map can be used to augment or contrast ideas. The former is based on radial hierarchies and tree structures denoting relationships with a central governing concept, whereas concept maps are based on connections between concepts in more diverse patterns.

Mind maps have many applications in personal, family, educational, and business situations, including notetaking, brainstorming (wherein ideas are inserted into the map radially around the center node, without the implicit prioritization that comes from hierarchy or sequential arrangements. Grouping and organizing can be set aslide for later stages of developing orsummarizing, revising, and general clarifying of thoughts. One could listen to a lecture, for example, and take down notes using mind maps for the most important points or keywords.

They can also serve as a mnemonic technique or to sort out a complicated idea. It is useful to use different colours during the creativity sessions. To summarize
Mind maps are useful in a wide variety of situations such as:
• Problem Solving
• Outline / Framework Design
• Anonymous collaboration.
• Marriage of words and visuals.
• Individual expression of creativity.
• Condensing material into a concise and memorable format.
• Team building or synergy creating activity.
• Enhancing work morale.

 

The mind processes with images and using colorful pens adds to creativity and problem solving concepts.

The mind processes with images and using colorful pens adds to creativity and problem solving concepts.

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Desiderata” Latin for “Desired Things” was originally an inspirational poem copyrighted by Max Ehrmann in 1927, it went on to become an uplifting and truly motivational song in the early 1970’s

David and I  have always appreciated the timeless message in Desiderata. Desired things involve creating Fresh Beginnings by being mindful of the good and the positive in life as is presented in this teaching.
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,you may become vain or bitter,for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;many persons strive for high ideals,and everywhere life is full of heroism.Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.You are a child of the universe…no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.Therefore be at peace with the Creator whatever you conceive Source to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

 With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dream, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Inspirational Bits and Bites

By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy

Citizen Of The World ♬ ♪ ♬ Tuned IN ♪ Tapped IN ♪ & Turned ON ♬ ♪ ♬ It’s getting better ☮ all the time ♬ ᏝᎧᏉᏋ May we inspire each other to dream big. ♥ BLESS ♥ PEACE ♥ ENERGY Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ HAPPINESS ♥ COURAGE ♥ LOVE ღTHANKS FOR CONNECTING

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Activities are endless, like ripples on a stream. They end only when you drop them. Human moods are like the changing highlights and shadows on a sunlit mountain range. All activities are like the games children play, like castles being made of sand. View them with delight and equanimity, like grandparents overseeing their grandchildren or a shepherd resting on a grassy knoll watching over his grazing flock.

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I am remembering and celebrating our connections today while sending love, hugs and cheers to people near and far. Thank you for being part of my life and soul path over the years. I vaule your presence in my life.

We are students and teachers to each other on an endless path of energetic echanges. There is unity within the polarity whether we are near or far within  beginnings and endings. May you have miles and smiles oflaughter, joy and walk your path in beauty and balance.(¯`•.•´¯) blessings ~May your every stepping stone be blessed by Grace, Truth, and Peace ~ Namaste

(¯`✻´¯)░I░N░S░P░I░R░E░ ♥°*”˜ƸӜƷ˜”*°♥
`*.¸.*✿ღ✿ღ.¸¸♥// (ˆ◡ˆ)\\♥ … ツ
…… ི♥ྀ.★⋱★⋱¸★⋱¸♥
(¯`v´¯) .
`*.¸.*.♥.✿´´¯`
☼•*❤*•°•❥ℒƠѵℯ & Hugz..☆ . ƸӜƷ¸.☆..

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.•*¨`*•.•´*.¸.•´..•*¨`*•.•´*.¸.•´..•*¨`*•
Without mysteries, Life would be very dull indeed.
What would be left to strive for if everything were known
.•*¨`*•.•´*.¸.•´..•*¨`*•.•´*.¸.•´..•*¨`*•

♥ May Creator give you… ♥ ♥ For every storm, a rainbow, ♥ ♥ For every tear, a smile, ♥ ♥ For every care, a promise, ♥ ♥ And a blessing in each trial.♥ ♥ For every problem life sends,♥ ♥ A faithful friend to share,♥ ♥ For every sigh, a   sweet song,♥ ♥ And an answer for each prayer.♥
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I believe life is a series of near misses. A lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see. And pursuing that vision.- Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

When you touch someone’s life – it is a privilege.
When you touch someone’s heart – it is a blessing.
When you touch someone’s mind – it is an honor.
When you touch someone’s soul – it is a triumph.
When you touch someone’s spirit – it is a miracle.”
Happiness that stays throughout the year. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

To grow, thrive and change we need to release fear and old patterns of trauma and drama. When we change our intent, seek direction and spiritual guidance it is possible to transmute anything and everything that does not serve our soul growth. In my view life is all about perception and perspective within the illusionary dream. I ask for spiritual clarity every day…and it comes when we are open and willing to get outselves out of the way.

Fear is the path to the dark side: fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” ― Yoda —

Challenges come so we can grow and be prepared for things we are not equipped to handle now. When we face our challenges with faith, prepared to learn, willing to make changes, and if necessary, to let go, we are demanding our power be turned on.” “Until we are each able to conquer and master the little things in our lives, the big things will remain undone.” Iyanla Vanzant

This is a process and it takes time, and patience. Rest your Mind and Listen

.•*”˜˜”*°•.
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║ Thought Monsters Be Gone! ║
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Sow the Seed of Peace

If we plant a positive, clean seed of thoughts and concentrate on it, we give it energy, like the sun gives to a seed in the earth. And as the seed in the earth awakens, stirs and begins to grow, the thoughts on which we concentrate awaken, stir and begin to grow. So let us sow positive thoughts.

Each morning before we begin the journey of the day let us sit still, in silence, and sow the seed of peace. Peace is harmony and balance. Peace is – freedom from the burden of negativity and wastefulness. Let peace find its home within us. Peace is our original strength, our eternal tranquility of being.

Even though many of you who touched my life have transitioned to other realms and places you are true gems that sparkle and shine within your unique ways.Our interconnectedness with people who come and go are either there for a reason, season or lifetime
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Bright and beautiful butterfly whose wings flutter, flutter, flutter.
Sweet flowers open wide.
Scattering life.
Sharing love.
SHear the happy sound of
Fairy’s sweet fluttering wings
Magic is precise Believe and Love
.•°*”˜.•°*”˜.•°*”˜ .•°*”˜ ˜”*°•. ˜”*°•.˜”*°•.˜”*°•.˜”*°•.spreading happiness.

–Aileen Victoria Henderson

☆ Ḡossamer Шings ☆☆☆´•。 •´¯`•.¸¸.´•。°☆ ¸.´•。°°☆
☆ Ї Ħad Å Ðream, Ṱhat Ї Ĉould Fly ☆•´¯`•.¸¸.´•。°☆ ¸.´•。☆ ϴn Ḡossamer Шings, Їn Ṱhe Ĉlear Ḃlue Skies ¸.´•。°°☆
☆ Floating Åbove Ṱhe ℮arth Ḃelow ☆•´¯`•.¸¸.´• °☆ ¸.´•。☆ Ḡoing Шhere Ṱhe Åir Ĉurrents Ĉhose Ṱo Ḡo ¸.´•。°°☆
☆ Ї Ðream’t Ї Soared Åbove Ṱhe Sea ☆•´` ¸.´•。°☆´•。°°☆☆ Just Ḃy Ḿyself, Ṱhere Шas ϴnly Ḿe ☆•´¯`•.¸¸.´• °☆¸´•。
☆ Шatching Ṱhe Sun Ʀise ϴver Ṱhe Ḃrine 。°☆•´¯`•.¸¸.´☆

Challenges come so we can grow and be prepared for things we are not equipped to handle now. When we face our challenges with faith, prepared to learn, willing to make changes, and if necessary, to let go, we are demanding our power be turned on.”
“Until we are each able to conquer and master the little things in our lives, the big things will remain undone.” Iyanla Vanzant

We are not here to fit in at any cost. Within the global and economic changes humanity is facing we are collectively being   called to break free of old patterns, delusions and conditioned existence.

As we transform the inner world and heighten awareness, it creates a ripple effect that inspires other people to break free  ties that  bind. Within our personal and professional experience, my hubs David and I  believe there are many around the planet who are transforming and awakening to broader perspectives on life, spirituality and the importance of unity and consensus over polarity and divisiveness.

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Self-Health Choices for Healthy, Dynamic Living

By Coralie Darsey-Malloy

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Everyone wants independent choice…
whatever that may cost…and wherever it may lead.

–Fyodor Dostroyevsky

When I began my quest for health and wholeness in the mid-eighties much of what has gained mainstream acceptance was considered ‘fringe new age thinking” and viewed with suspicion or flatly rejected. When David and I met in 1990 I made his head spin with my concern about the free radicals and the high glucose factor in his diet. I rambled on about that and the importance of low fat, moderate carbohydrate diet and using food combining as a way to lose weight.

There were many that just patted me on the head and admitted that it all sounded a little too weird for them at the time. Now these ideas have been accepted and utilized by many because they are endorsed by researchers. The growing emphasis on healthy living has created less polarity within formal medicine and complimentary healing systems.

This trend has already started towards more sensitive patient care with a multitude of options that were not available even twenty years ago. The emerging changes in preventative health and wellness techniques can and does compliment today’s precision diagnostic services. Inevitably, professional patronizing, and obscure terminology will give way to cooperative educational approaches, and client-orientated therapies. Future medicine like future world politics, will increasingly acknowledge choice making and empowerment of the individual.

Even before these changes are fully implemented, there is much we can all do to optimize our health. Eating less and eating well are basic premises of preventative self- care. Avoiding the known health hazards of smoking, alcohol, fat, sugar, caffeine, salt and processed foods are another commonsense approach. Breakthroughs in health care reveal that many of the diseases and ailments being treated by symptom relief alone can be readily overcome with social and lifestyle changes.

A long, healthy life is a reasonable expectation under most conditions, and self-reliant health care involves one’s authority over their right to choose what they determine is best for them. As the paradigm of whole-person healing continues to evolve, the knowledge it brings not only liberates it unites people as well. Today personal fitness and healing practices once considered outlandish are gaining mainstream credibility—because they work. Large corporations are underwriting relaxation and stress management courses to reduce employee absenteeism. Insurance companies offer financial incentives to non-smokers and aerobic dancers. Healing in the 21st century will witness the final convergence of science, psychology, body, mind and spirit.

As the science, medicine, the biology of emotion and thought, humor, health and healing attitudes are promoted as a plausible option to symptom relief, drug therapy, invasive procedures there will be more inclination to become well informed before choosing any course of treatment. New attitudes and modalities provide much hope in the form of simple, yet powerful whole-person self-care systems.

They are often equally or more effective than prescriptions and are cost effective, encourage self-responsibility, do no harm, educational, fun and provide positive outcomes! So the good news is…there truly are many ways to achieve health, wholeness and abundant living for those willing to explore options and think beyond symptom relief with prescription drugs rather than assessing core issuers and complimentary healing systems.

Some of the systems we value in our “self-health” care include Traditional Chinese Medicine, Aromatherapy Essential Oils, Chiropractic Care, Supplementation, Energy Work, Massage and of course regular exercise, meditation and keeping life in balance.

We always remind our clients that good health is not a right but a responsibility. When we decide to live long and live strong and take the appropriate steps to do so healthy, dynamic living into advanced years truly is possible.

Anatomy of an Eating Disorder

2Being there...to here.

Being there…to here.

–By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy
I sit and listen attentively to each woman within the sharing circle speaks as they openly discuss their individual struggles with their eating disorders. Some are working through their own process and others are there looking to find answers for a loved one facing similar challenges. As I quietly observe I glance around the room see how some mask their pain with a vacant stare while others speak in words that are strangled with emotion. As I silently participate in their individual and collective journeys my heart goes out to them. I am fully able to empathize with their struggle … because I was once going through a similar process and am fully aware of how difficult it is to believe that there is a way to move beyond their compulsive coping patterns.

Their journey was once my journey and I had decided to come and offer a testimony of hope. When it came time for me to speak I began offering aspects of what I had learned along my own path. At first they there was openness as started sharing why I was there. “I am here tonight to honor and support where you are—because I once walked this path and fully understand what a difficult path you are on. It thirty years of struggle and strife to finally find another way to live my life—but I did—and I am a living testimony that it is possible to heal your body and your life. I have been free from the clutches of anorexia, bulimia, compulsive over-eating and body-image issues for over sixteen years. I am not a recovering anything—I am healed, whole, well and in better health now than I ever was in my youth. I am here to offer encouragement and hope that you can do it too.”

I pause for a moment and suddenly sense that the energy in the room has changed. As I glance around there is a tangible, yet inaudible ‘clunk.’ My many years as a group facilitator and life couch have put me in touch with this dynamic before. It is t very clear that minds within the room have suddenly closed. Something in what I related created a low comfort level and experience has taught me to respect individual boundaries than to forge ahead. I left shortly afterwards. The next day I called the facilitator of the support group and discussed my observations. Her feedback was not all that surprising and aligned to my perception. “Yes Coralie, even though the group appreciated where you are—there is a lot of denial, anger and feelings of victimization within this group. At this point all they really want to do is to be able to express how they feel each week without really getting into problem solving right now. Maybe what you have to offer will be more accepted at some later date—but thank you for coming. Good-bye.”
After hanging up, I take a deep breath and allow my mind to travel along time time-lines of my life to the point things began to unravel for me. Around the age of seventeen I decided to take a modeling course and see if I could make it in the fashion industry. The women who headed up the agency never bothered to tell me that my five foot two and a half inch height would never allow me to go very far. She willingly took the money for the course and I blindly followed her lead. As I struggled to compensate for the obvious height issue it made sense that if I lost enough weight maybe being skinny could somehow compensate for what was lacking vertically. Couple that dynamic with a home life with a controlling, abusive, alcoholic father and a passive enabling mother I began to develop a sense of self that was outwardly directed. That shift in focus was the beginning of my downfall.

Within my musings, I flashback to how I resorted to self-starvation, laxative abusive and purging as a desperate way to diminish my size and weight to a place it was never meant to be. The process began long before the medical model had the self-destructive patterns. The cycle eventually “worked” and I starved myself down to under 80 pounds. Originally, it started with restrictive calorie counting, frenetic bouts of intense exercising that were difficult to sustain.
Each time I ‘failed’ a binge followed and then the whole cycle began again. Weight gains lowered self-esteem and created an internal need to binge. Food was used to compensate for growing feelings of inadequacy or block out thoughts and emotions that were too uncomfortable to handle. Little did I realize at that level of awareness that my fixation on food, weight and body image were compulsive coping mechanism. The fixated thinking had become a way of denying what I believed to be insurmountable issues in my personal and family life. That awareness would only come many years later.

Then somewhere in my early twenties my father in his usual unthinking fashion said something that re-routed my life again. In one of my venting outbursts I declared that I had to find a way to lose more weight so I could ‘measure up’ to the fashion and entertainment industry’s stereotypes for the ‘perfect body. In what became a milestone moment my father said in a calm voice, “Well, why don’t you do what many jockeys, ballerinas and others with a high profile do to keep their weight low?” His serious tone caught my attention interest and I felt he might just have a solution and I quickly said, “What do they do?” My father could see he had me—and he played the moment to his advantage by taking a s drink from his glass of Scotch and a slow puff on his cigarette before answering. “It is any easy fix and you can eat whatever you want in any amount. Afterwards just stick your fingers down the throat and throw it up. Some also use laxatives—between those two things—you can be whatever weight you want and keep it. Simple huh?”

The impact of what he had just said was not lost to either my mother or me. I vividly recall the look of horror on her face. It was the exact moment that the light bulb went on for me. Needless to say there was nothing my mother could say or do to stop me. Little did I know then that my father’s statement would re-route my life and create a quagmire of confusion that would take years to emerge from. As I continue to wander down memory lane I am caught in a full circle moment of total recall and I vividly remember my first binge/purge experience. Ahh—alone at last. My stomach is bulging as I wander towards the bathroom. I cannot help thinking about the volume of food just consumed. It was the biggest binge of my life—but knowing that I was going to be able to ‘get rid of it’ created a bliss-like throughout the binge. Throughout the ‘stuffing’ I comforted myself with the reality that I was about to embark on my first episode in throwing up. No one could stop me now—I was on a whole new path of liberation—or so I thought then.

As I stand in front of the toilet the stark while porcelain bowl invites me to begin a ritual of association that will last far longer than I ever wanted it to. At this juncture I foolishly believe I would be able to control my association with it—too bad I didn’t know then what hard lessons I would have to learn as a result of what I did next. Before beginning I paused and wondered how to do it. For one brief moment I felt like an initiate to some order—and this was the act that would allow me to gain entry to some unseen power. Hmm—I wonder how many fingers I should use. I decide to hook my thumb and little finger together and try three. Ugh, that hurt, maybe I should try two. As I shove them down my throat initially nothing happens, I try again—further down this time—there I’m getting a gag response—keep it up—the energy within my intention to master this art of body and weight control drives me to keep going. As I push harder and deeper I gag more and I keep it up, pushing, probing fingers deeper until I finally feel my insides begin to respond. As the inner upheaval begins to move I am full of anticipation as I sense the massive amount of food I’d consumed is rising upwards. Excitement begins to build as I feel lift-off occurring.

The food rushes up in a volcanic eruption. Once I had the first experience in motion I kept it up I did it once, twice, three—four—until I lost count and could finally feel my stomach had released all its booty. As I flushed the toilet for a final time and closed the lid I looked at my formerly bulging abdomen and saw how flat it had become and I absolutely delighted. I stood in mute silence admiring my handiwork. Then within the aftermath I feel my knees slightly buckling and I sit on the toilet and try to process what had just happened.

In retrospect it was one of the last times I paid any real attention to my body’s responses. From that point on I become increasingly dissociated from anything it felt or needed. But initially symptoms were too obvious to ignore. I could not help but notice what a physically demanding ritual the self-induced vomiting actually was. I felt weak, my neck and back were stiff and sore from bending over. Residues of bitter tasting bile lingered in my mouth and my eyes felt as though they were stretched and bulging behind their sockets. Coupled with all of that was an incredible thirst and it was clear to me that I was severely dehydrated. But I held on to the fact that I had managed to do it and in the bizarre fashion of anyone with an eating disorder I felt kind of good about my achievement.

Even though I felt physically weak—something bigger and not clearly understood had occurred within the unusual and rite of passage I had just undertaken. I noticed a sense of relief—as if on some emotional level I had a moment of release from things I could not clearly define. That gave me a profound sense of empowerment and I liked it. Although it was not fully comprehended to me at that time I came to see that something within that first experience put a new set of beliefs in motion. In retrospect this first act created a false sense of security about controlling my destiny and achieving every weight loss dream of skinniness I had been harboring within.

I embellish the moment with romanticized ideas that this ritual would allow me to create the perfect body size and shape—and with that would come all the love, acceptance and appreciation I could not find anywhere else. As my mind ran along those line it eclipsed any sense of how bizarre the path I was embarking on really was. Logic and reason were replaced with an unrealistic sense that everything I ever wanted or desired was now within my reach. I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted in whatever amounts I wanted and never have to look back. On top of that I could show the world that I could achieve something many others could not—a lean, strong, thin body—something everyone wanted and now I could finally have.
As I continued along this deluded path in an ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach.

. Being able to binge and throw up worked for awhile. But what is now called bulimia eventually began to upset my metabolism and eventually my body’s ability to digest and eliminate food broke down and I had to resort to ingesting increasing amounts of laxitives. I rationalized that it was alright…because they were herbal. The delusion and denial continues. Eating less, exercising more, throwing up, starving my body decreased core energy and threw my whole self out of balance. Over the years of abuse my body became soft, bloated. My term for it is ‘gooshy.” I had no idea then that it was my body’s response to dehydration faulty digestion. Rather than feeling fit and fabulous the flab dragged me down so I increased the intensity and length of exercise when I had the energy to do so.

At that point I was hospitalized and went through five years in and out of psychiatric wards. I was subjected to massive amounts of mood-altering drugs. When didn’t work I was given over 120 electro-shock treatments before the doctor realized they were an ineffective treatment for me. No one within the medical system ever considered addressing family life or what might be the root cause of my debilitating health and personal problems. Through that whole time no one ever addressed the problems I was having at home and with my parents. I consistently felt that I was the problem—and that added to a growing loss of self-worth and any sense of self. There were times where I thought it would be better to die and I often wished I could. The depressing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness were so bad at times I considered taking my own life so the pain could end.
By the time I reached the ten year mark of struggle I was 28.

None of what the medical model had to offer was doing anything to change my behavior—or my life. So I made the decision to get out of the system and find another way. As I look back over the anatomy of my eating disorder one of the most surreal aspects of it was through the whole thirty year process I was still functioning on many levels. The five-year stint in the psychiatric wards was the most challenging and least productive times of my life. Once I broke free theconstrictive ‘care’ I made a decision to do something—anything different.

At that age and stage of life, I married my childhood sweetheart, began to journal, explore my spiritual beliefs and search for ways to heal my life It was clear that if I did not find a way through the confusing maze of my disordered life and disordered eating I was going to die. My throat had started to bleed when I stuck my fingers down my throat. My intestines and stomach ached and I was increasingly sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I have come to accept that the challenges I was having in trying to find answers contributed to the break-up of my first marriage—but there was nothing I could do—except keep on keeping on until I found another way to cope.

My lifestyle was a horrendous series of uphill and downhill slides into a world I feared I might never be able to escape. It was a lonely, isolating world at times because I could never allow anyone to get too close, lest they discover my terrible truth. The irony of it all is that I still had an outer semblance of a life. I worked, socialized, dated and even began writing, producing a series of talk shows on community access television in Winnipeg. So to all appearance I had my act together. The shame of my secret ritualistic life of self-destruction continued as I lived a life of ‘quiet, unspoken desperation.’

It took another twenty years after that to finally have enough of a spiritual epiphany to fully comprehend that my obsession with thinness, fixated thinking about image-management and trying to define myself from the outside were not the real issues. Then in an amazing moment of clarity some of my prayers were answered. For the first time I could see there was something very wrong with my whole lifestyle and my sense of Self within it and once I ‘got it’ things began to change. When Karen Carpenter died I was amazed to learn that what I had been doing since my late teens had finally had a name and a diagnosis. Well imagine that. Too bad it hadn’t been addressed when I was being tortured by the medical model all those years ago.

Up to that point a part of me did not really believe that what I was doing could actually kill me. I had been doing it for so long never in the thirty year span had any doctor ever said that there could be some long term health problems with what I was doing. But the media hype around her death mentioned that her heart gave out and that was a big newsflash for me. As unfortunate as it was to hear about Karen’s death added another dimension to the clarity I was developing from within. The soul searching forces me to question whether I had an unspoken, formerly unacknowledged death wish and unconsciously finding ways to fulfill it. That hard core question about whether my death wishes were stronger than my life wishes changed the course of my life path. I knew deep within my being that I did not want to die and that I had better smarten up or the choice might not be mine to make. The course of my life path began to change in strange and mysterious ways. Once I made a decision to live I embarked on a quest to cease feeling victimized the intent took me down a new road.

Rather than making skinniness my goal I focus on regaining health, balance. I sought out a series of therapists and alternative health practitioners with a whole-person approach. Talk therapy with reputable counselors leads to more accountable choice making and I stop playing the blame game. Through time, I was able to accept that I had daunting challenges but no one can change the past and it was time to move forward. Most definitely. Had my family of origin contributed to my personal and health problems? Undeniably. But through time I had to accept that I could either live in the past with all the hurt, regret, blame and shame or I could choose to forgive all of it and move on. And that was what I did and I continue to do that today. The changes took time and required self-ownership, therapy. I learned how to change my diet and mindset and eventually I regained my health and balance.

As I focused on being healthy over skinny while building a positive sense of self I began to live life from the inside out. I learned how to manage my life, handle stress and focus on goal setting and goal-getting my world and everything in it changed for the better. As I learned how like and love myself and accept my shortcomings as part of being human I also was able to establish safe boundaries with others. As I progressed along my path towards wholeness and happiness I recovered repressed memories of sexual abuse and it became clear that I had been treating myself the way I had been treated. I had been abused and felt that was what I deserved and I found a way to abuse myself—and what was what the eating disorders represented for me. It is so obvious now—all change begins with awareness and once I was aware of why I did what I did I was able to change the pattern forever and never go back.

I made it through and life today is sweeter, richer, healthier and more abundant than it ever was in what many call the prime years of their life. I now thank God that when I had considered ending my life that it never happened. If I had died or taken my own life I would be missing all the good that I now enjoy. That is part of why I am so committed to sharing what I have learned. It has been said that anyone who has met the challenge and overcome it has a moral duty to chare it. And so that is what I do.

As my journey through the past brings me back into present time I realize why I felt a need to go sit in on that support group. They may not be ready to hear what I have to say but I know there are many out there who are. As I was able to transform my life and become healthy and while I took training and began developing and presenting workshops about a system of weight management that works from the inside out. The Body Dynamics System I developed with my life and business partner David Malloy has a proven track record that assists people change their lives by changing and re-framing their attitudes and behaviors around their weight and body-image. We assist clients in making health, balance and strength the priority of unhealthy weight management methods.

The process for self-change involves a readiness to change a and some guidance about how to do it. David and I co-direct a company that is appropriately named Fresh Beginnings. We promote the idea that is it is never too early or too late create a new beginning. The website link for Fresh Beginnings is: http://www.fresh-beginnings.com. After sharing my healing journey with clients I was encouraged to write a book about it. I’ve Been There…A Testimony of Hope is the name of my memoir and it chronicles how I transformed my scars into stars and life for the better. The website for the book is http://www.ibtbook.com .