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The road to recovery is full of twist and turns. . .

I am in Texas at a lovely place called the Sheltering Tree, which is a counselling center that is run and owned by my friend and colleague, Cathy Woodward.

In the back yard of the Sheltering Tree is a fantastic Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is something that is near and dear to my heart, because it’s the perfect metaphor of what recovery really is about. So many of us think that recovery is like entering a maze.

Where there are so many mistakes to be made.

And wrong turns.

And ways in which you get blocked.

But a Labyrinth is something that is very different. Because you see, there are no wrong turns here.

It’s a twisting, winding path.

It’s not the path into something and out of something.

It’s a path that you take to the center of your very being.

And then once you get there, that’s not the end, because you then find your way out.

A Labyrinth has been used since ancient times to symbolize the journeys we take though life, whatever they happen to be. And so, when you enter a Labyrinth, it can at times be very confusing. Very overwhelming. You go, wait a minute, I was just here, and now I…how did I get back here again?

Just like in recovery, you get to a point where you go, wait a minute. I thought I already resolved my issues with my mother. How come I’m back here again?

The truth is, you’re back in it, but you’re in it at a whole different level. You’re in it at a different place. You’re in it with a different kind of understanding. So, as you enter the Labyrinth of Recovery, you make your way towards the center of your very […]

What are you doing to stay afloat in strong emotional currents?

As I was spending time down at the river, it made me think of one of my favorite metaphors.

Imagine, imagine you’re on the banks of a raging river. It’s pouring down rain, and you slip and you fall in, and you’re drowning.

You are getting pulled down through the rapids. And eventually along comes a big log. And you grab on. And the log saves your life. It keeps your head above water, when surely you would have drowned. And eventually it carries you to a place where the river is calm. But, you can’t get to the river bank because you’re clinging so tightly to the log.

Make no mistake about it, the log is like your disordered eating. It has saved your life at a time when surely you would have drowned in some very strong emotional currants. And it serves a function, a very important function. And it would behoove you to know what that function is.

But to make it more complicated, there is always someone on the riverbank yelling let go of the log, let go of the log. And you feel like an absolute idiot, because you can’t let go of the log.

Well, the truth of the matter is, letting go of that log may not be the very best thing to do initially.

Because what happens if you let go of the log, start to swim to shore, get half way there and realize you don’t have the strength to make it?

That means you don’t have the strength to make it back to the log either.

And you’re really sunk.

So, what do you do instead?

Let go of the log.

Try floating.

When you start to sink, grab back on.

Let go of the log and […]

Are you blocking things you shouldn’t?

Are you blocking things you shouldn’t?

Its springtime and it’s snowing – here in Denver, Colorado.

When I first saw the snow, I thought, oh no, it’s going to knock all the beautiful blossoms off the apple tree!

— and it very well might.

But I started thinking….

How often do things in our life not go the way we think they should?

Do you ever find yourself saying “Oh no, this shouldn’t be happening?” Or say: I shouldn’t be feeling this?”

When life decides to — what we would consider – “misbehave” itself, we often try to block it. We try to block our feelings. We try to block our experience of it. Rather than accept it.

If you block your feelings and think, oh no, I shouldn’t be having this feeling, I shouldn’t be feeling sad, I shouldn’t be feeling annoyed, I shouldn’t be feeling frustrated, I should be happy.  Then you start thinking about the ways in which you should be feeling rather than accepting the feelings that are coming up.

Sometimes feelings don’t make any sense; sometimes they are unpredictable.

Human nature is to fight those feelings.

And often, we fight those feelings with food.

We might restrict our food in an attempt to restrict our feelings.

You might start to obsess about the foods you’re not allowing yourself to eat.

You might try to avoid the “bad” feelings.

When you stuff yourself with food when you’re not hungry, it’s a way of numbing your feelings.

When you go for a long, long run or hop on an exercise bike because you want to distract yourself and run from the feelings you’re having rather than just running for the joy of it, again, you’re blocking your experience of life.

If you allow the feelings that come […]

Eating Disorder Recovery Podcast

Hello everybody,

Join me in this discussion with Dr. Janean Anderson on The Eating Disorder Recovery Podcast about finding meaning in the struggle with eating difficulties and finding joy in the recovery process. This podcast was done in two parts so listen to Part 1 and Part 2

We would love to hear your thoughts, scroll down to leave a comment!

-Anita

By |February 24th, 2016|Categories: All Post|Tags: |1 Comment

SPIES: A Balanced Lifestyle

Years ago, I learned about the ­­­­­­­­­­­SPIES approach to a balanced lifestyle. SPIES is the science and art of shifting your lifestyle toward a state of optimal health as defined by a balance of Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Social health. I reflected on my life at the time and recognized that when I would “crash and burn,” like Wile E. Coyote smashing against the canyon wall and slowly sliding down, I was living in an unbalanced state with one or more of my SPIES elements out of whack.  I learned that, instead of panicking and throwing the “baby out with the bathwater,” re-balancing my SPIES would set me back on track.

After working with folks who have struggled with eating difficulties for over 20 years, I tend to notice developing patterns of im-balance. Often times my clientele hyper focus on the physical component (nutrition and joyful body movement), — which is only 1/5 of what makes a person whole and healthy. In those cases I encourage re-focusing on balance by feeding all five areas of SPIES. This re-focus enables them to examine their physical desires relative to the four remaining elements of SPIES and make appropriate adjustments.

According to the American Journal of Health Promotion, “lifestyle change can be facilitated through a combination of efforts to enhance awareness, change behavior, and create environments that support good health practices. Of the three options, supportive environments will probably have the greatest impact in producing lasting change.” Anita and I created a safe supportive environment in the Light of the Moon Café using the SPIES principles. Perhaps that is why so many women are successful in making peace with food using her book and our Café. Every day, […]

By |February 15th, 2016|Categories: All Post|Tags: |4 Comments

The Lure of the Red Herring

Recovery from eating struggles is not unlike a who-done-it mystery.  Imagine you are watching a play and the question arises: Who killed the Old Lady?  Was it the Maid? The Butler? Or the Chauffer?

Now at first glance, you notice the Maid.  She stands out immediately – because her style of dress is strikingly different, her gestures are somewhat dramatic, and her manner is a little suspicious.  She moves across the stage like someone who is rather insecure, or like someone who has done something wrong and is constantly looking around to see who is watching her. As the story unfolds, all eyes are on The Maid, but as you follow along deeper into the mystery, there is a sudden twist, and much to your surprise  — it was the Butler!  All those who were watching the Maid’s every move so closely failed to notice the more discrete activities of the Butler, the real culprit.
               Photo by Daniel Levine  http://www.etsy.com/people/levineDaniel
 The Maid is the Red Herring.  The Red Herring is a term from the early 1800’s where those wishing to sabotage a fox hunt would get a red herring from a local fishery (which, because it had been smoked had a very strong smell) and drag it along the route, confusing the hounds by distracting them from the scent of the fox. In 1807, a political journalist wrote a story about how, as a boy, he had used a red herring to deflect hounds chasing after a hare.  He used the story as a metaphor to criticize the press for publishing stories that took attention away from more important matters (perhaps some things never change).  And the metaphor stuck.
 Nowadays we […]

By |February 1st, 2016|Categories: All Post|Tags: |5 Comments

SoulStories – Ungali

Welcome to SoulStories from the Light of the Moon Café.

In this video blog I tell a story that describes the journey towards recovery from struggles with food and eating — and what it takes to keep from losing our way whenever obstacles present themselves.

What might be the names of some of your hungers? What helps you to remember them? I am curious about your thoughts – please scroll down and leave a comment.

With Love-

Anita

P.S. – If you have a question you’d like answered in a future video blog please send it to: anita@lightofthemooncafe.com

By |January 6th, 2016|Categories: All Post|Tags: |5 Comments

Lopsided Lobsters

In Hawaii, the eel lives in a hole in the reef in the ocean. The lobster often makes its home at the mouth of this hole. This is a great arrangement for the eel – since it has a lobster at its doorstep with an antenna pointed outward, watching for predators. It’s a much more complicated arrangement for the lobster – because eels eat lobsters. So, what the lobster has to do is keep one antenna pointed outward, scanning for potential predators, while simultaneously keeping the other antenna pointed inward to watch out for the eel.

What I noticed in my experience with women with eating difficulties is that they are like lopsided lobsters.

After years of listening to the stories of their struggles with eating and body image, it became obvious to me that most of them had the most amazing, extraordinarily well-developed outer antennae! They could, more often than not, walk into a room, pick up on the vibes there, notice what others expected of them, and then respond to those expectations – even before the others had become aware of having had them in the first place! That’s how good they were at picking up on cues from their environment, and sensing what was going on with other people in their lives. And this ability often served them well, as it allowed them to anticipate trouble in advance, fly beneath the radar, and get out of harm’s way if needed.

The problem was that they typically had lousy inner antennae. This meant that they were way better at picking up on – and responding to — signals from their outer environment than they were at tuning in to themselves and responding to their own […]

By |January 3rd, 2016|Categories: All Post|Tags: |5 Comments

Reef Walking

One of my favorite memories from my childhood growing up on the island of Guam was reef walking with my mother, siblings, and assorted friends.

Guam is surrounded by a coral reef that is quite a distance from shore. The water is usually shallow from the shoreline all the way out to the edge of the reef (where the waves break) and then it drops into Deep Ocean. At low tide the water can be even shallower – from ankle to knee deep – except where there are large holes in the coral shelf and it drops into Deep Ocean.

I spent many days as a child and teen walking barefoot on the reef, learning how to move carefully to keep from stepping on spiny sea urchins, gross slimy sea slugs, or on the sharp edges of coral. My mother taught us which seaweeds and sea creatures were edible, which of the cone seashells were so poisonous that they could kill (!), and how to never, ever, stick your hand in a hole lest it be the home of an eel who would bite down with serrated teeth and never let go. There was some truth to all of this – but my siblings and I made much more drama than was called for out of those remote possibilities.

Unfortunately, these days I can only bring forth brief glimmers of those exquisite moments in time. They now reside in a remote dream-like state around the edges of my mind. My mother’s instructions about reef walking, however, have remained fully present in my life today.

She taught us that when a wave broke at the edge of the reef and the white water came rolling in, we were to […]

By |December 22nd, 2015|Categories: All Post|Tags: |5 Comments

SoulStories – Black and White Cattle

In this video blog I talk about how to use storytelling to help us understand deeper truths that are often buried beneath the struggle with food and eating.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yEGBE5EUpw[/embedyt]

I am curious about what you think about this – please scroll down and leave a comment.

With Love-

Anita

By |December 14th, 2015|Categories: All Post|Tags: |9 Comments
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