Friday, September 30, 2011

Odds and Ends

September is drawing to a close, and Fall has officially arrived. I can hardly contain my excitement over Fall this year. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but it might have a little something to do with pumpkins, scarves, and the NC State Fair- it all just makes me a little giddy. 

Anyways- I wanted to quickly post a few random odds and ends before the start of the weekend... 

  • First- Forbes magazine highlighted eating disorders as an issue that faces executive, working women in an article that you can find by following this link. Eating disorders don't discriminate and I really respect Forbes for addressing such an important issue that affects many women in their 30's and up. People tend to think of eating disorders as generally affecting teenagers and adolescents, however, women of all ages are being impacted by eating disorders.
  • Tomorrow marks the first day that entries will be accepted into the International Association of Eating Disorder Professional's body image art contest: Imagine Me Beyond What You See. It was designed to promote a healthy awareness and acceptance of body images. If you are interested in finding out more about the parameters of the contest, follow this link. When I visited Eating Recovery Center in Denver in March, I saw entry #6 from last year displayed (click here to see it), and it is a beautiful piece of art! 
  • Today marks the final day of National Friendship Month!! Give your friends a big hug today or next time you see them and thank them for how special they are to you! A special shout-out to my childhood best friend who has a birthday today- happy happy birthday Nicole
Hope everyone has a great weekend! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy 'Day of the Girl' !!!

Today marks international Day of the Girl. School Girls Unite, which is an organization made up of students and young women leaders in the US and Mali who are working towards the UN's Millenium Development Goals (universal basic education, child marriage prevention, etc), has created this day to "highlight, celebrate, discuss, and advance girls lives and opportunities across the globe."  I recently started volunteering with 3rd-5th grade girls, and more than ever before have I seen just how important it is to educate young girls, especially regarding media and their perceptions (more on this later!).

The purpose of this day- Day of the Girl- is to advocate for girls all over the world by raising awareness of some of the issues that are unique to girls. Some of these issues include sex trafficking- which takes place here in the US as well as other countries around the globe; female mutilation; relationship abuse/domestic violence; education and literacy; and negative media images. This last one is one that I often highlight on my blog. You can check out these posts below for more on media, mixed messages, and advertising.
These are just a few of the posts I have written in the past on the media and its impact on how we view beauty, health, etc. If you have girls, if you work with girls, if you are a girl or woman yourself (!), if you live with a girl or are married to one, I would encourage you to have conversations about what you are noticing and seeing in the media about girls, women, bodies and beauty. There are so many negative and confusing messages out there, and by being mindful of what we see and hear, I think we are able to diffuse some of them so that we don't absorb them in the same way. I think at this point, its impossible to be impervious to all of the media's messages (because there are just so many!), but I think if we can take a pro-active stance and do our best to call out inconsistencies, then we're doing something!!

Take time today to think about how you might raise awareness about issues that face girls, no matter how big or small! Happy Day of the Girl! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


In the news recently, there has been some talk about an eating disorder that we don't hear too much about... Pica (pronounced- pie-kah). According to recent statistics, hospitalizations for Pica have doubled in the last decade. What is Pica?? The central feature of this eating disorder is ingesting non-edible substances. For example- paper, dirt, bugs, clay, paint, chalk, etc. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used to make psychological diagnoses, defines Pica in the following ways:

  • Persistent eating of nonnutritive substances for a period of at least 1 month.
  • The eating of nonnutritive substances is inappropriate to the developmental level.
  • The eating behavior is not part of a culturally sanctioned practice.
  • If the eating behavior occurs exclusively during the course of another mental disorder, it is sufficiently severe to warrant independent clinical attention.
OK- so let's break that down... If these behaviors with non-food have been going on for a month or more, if this is not related to a cultural practice, and the behaviors are not age appropriate and is not a result of another disorder, then ! Generally speaking, a child between the ages of 18-24 months eats (or tries to eat) non-edible things, and that does not indicate the presence of Pica. It is most common in children, however, as the age of onset is infancy. It can persist through adolescence and adulthood. Interestingly enough, statistics show that 31% of Pica cases among children in 2009 were in children with autism. 

For more on Pica, follow this link.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Living an Exceptional Life

It seems fitting on an almost fall-ish Monday to write about something positive and inspiring- right?! I got an email about a month ago from someone who had been inspired by an article that she shared with me, and I thought this would be a good time to share it! The article that she sent me was entitled '21 Simple Ways to Live an Exceptional Life.' Many of the things on this list are what I would describe as forms of self-care... ways to take care of yourself and maintain your personal health (emotional, physical, spiritual). For more on self-care, follow this link.

Rather than list all 21, or send you directly to the link without a mention of particulars, I thought I would highlight my favorites from the list, which was written by Henri Junttila- for a complete listing of all 21, follow this link.

  • Face Your Fears.
    • Everyone has things that they are afraid of. The truth of the matter is that when you face your fears, they melt away. What happens is that you realize that your fears are nowhere near as scary as you make them out to be. So face your fears, and go after what you truly want, because that is what you deserve.
  • Be Kind.
    • One of the first things you want to do in order to live an exceptional life is to be kind. Being kind is nothing special, yet at the same time it is. It can be smiling at people in your neighborhood, or helping a friend out. Treat people as you would like to be treated.
  • Be Yourself.
    • Almost everyone has been taught that being yourself is not enough. But you may also have realized that you cannot not be yourself, because that is what you are and who you are. You are on this blue planet of ours for a reason, and the only way you can do what you were meant to do is by being yourself.
  • Kill perfectionism.
    • Perfectionism has killed many dreams; don't let it kill yours. You've probably learned that making mistakes is bad, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It isn't until you fail and make mistakes that you begin learning what works and what doesn't.
  • Enjoy Life.
    • Above all else, remember to enjoy life and smell the roses. When you walk, remember to breathe deeply and be grateful for what you already have. You can always want more, but stop and appreciate what you already have, because if you don't do it now, when will you?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

There is no such thing as a dumb question... Right? How many times have you heard that before? I think nearly every teacher, professor, boss, authority of some kind that I have ever had has uttered this phrase at some point or another. I think until about 10 minutes ago, when I read this article, I believed it :-)

Now, let me explain. The Miss Universe pageant was apparently on TV this past Monday night. The girl who won (Miss Angola) was asked this question during her final interview- "If you could change one of your physical characteristics, which one would it be and why?" She handled the question extremely well, stating that she wouldn't change a thing, that she was satisfied with how God created her, and that she felt that she was beautiful inside and out. But- of all places to be asked to talk about something you would want to change about your looks (not to mention the fact that this is a pretty unfair question to be asked by anyone at anytime-- why must we want to change?) People often say that pageants are not all about beauty and looks, but with a question like this, it seems to perpetuate this ideal. This question that was asked is what I might call the exception to the "no questions are dumb" rule. 

This article, "The Dumbest Question in the Universe" written by Jessica Ravitz, is definitely worth a read. It is dead-on, and really addresses some important points. You can check it out here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Do you ever have moments, hours, days that shake you out of your daily routine and remind you what it is that really matters in this life? I had one of those days yesterday. A friend of mine lost her boyfriend unexpectedly yesterday morning- she received a phone call and in a matter of a few moments, her life changed significantly. What a heartbreaking event-- words aren't capable of expressing the kind of pain that she is in. 

I couldn't help but be reminded of the brevity of life. As cliche as it sounds, life is truly precious. It's so easy to get stressed out by small details- even big important details, to take advantage of how amazing the people in our lives are, or to forget what life is really all about. For me, I am reminded that my plans, my stress, my goals, etc. pale to the fact that I woke up this morning, and I have a strong faith, family and loved ones, which are many things to be thankful for. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily habits and pace of life that sometimes we forget to stop and remember how lucky we are to be alive, and how lucky we are to have all that we have.

You don't need to know my friend's name to pray for her- she could use your thoughts and prayers. Maybe today provides a moment for you to step back, take a breath and appreciate the life that has been given to you. I feel like I was seeing things through new eyes as I appreciated each breath today.

I posted this quote on gratitude not too long ago on my blog, but I thought I would post it again- it's great. And for those of you dealing with extremely painful circumstances and feelings, practicing gratitude doesn't mean ignoring your feelings or passing over your grief. 

Enjoy the quote below, and be thankful today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's fashion week in New York City, and Catherine Pearson of the Huffington Post wrote a pretty solid article addressing a very common myth... Fashion and Eating Disorders: How Much Responsibility Does the Industry Have?? Does the fashion industry cause eating disorders? If not, what role does it play in the development of eating disorders?

This article reiterates the fact that the fashion industry does not cause eating disorders. But it does address the unhealthy ideal that the fashion industry creates and the triggering nature of this ideal for those who may be struggling already, or who are genetically predisposed to developing an eating disorder. To read more, follow this link. Just a warning to readers- there are a few potentially triggering images of models at the top of this article- I am super careful about what I put on my blog because I never want to trigger anyone. So please view with care.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What is Self-Care?

I think my little blog has felt a bit neglected this week. Between the holiday weekend, picking up a new volunteer gig (which I am so excited about- more on that to come), figuring out how to fit in a few hours of counseling work a week at a local all-girls college, and continuing to see clients daily in my private practice, I have been one busy bee. My first love is, of course, my private practice, but one of my favorite things about my work is being able to be involved in the lives of others and the different settings that I am able to do this in. Because things can get hectic, and I spend a lot of time with others, sometimes this means that my to-do list has to take a backseat in favor of practicing good self-care (hence, the lack of blog posts this past week).

No matter who you are, no matter what you do, and no matter the level of daily stress you encounter, self-care is essential. What exactly is self-care?? Well, wikipedia (the source for all accurate information-ha) defines it as 'personal health maintenance.' I like that definition. I like to think of self-care as just that- the necessary things we must do to maintain our health and well-being. Self-care includes sleep, hygiene, eating, taking time to be alone, and taking time to be with others. This is by no means an exhaustive list. But our to-do lists and plans need to come second to meeting our basic physical and social needs. 

Whether you are struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, a broken relationship or grief, it is so important to focus on the basics and take care of yourself. Like my favorite quote (posted on the right side of my blog) says-

Love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself and be good to yourself because without you, the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things. - Dr Leo Buscaglia