What is beauty anyway? Gray hair and all?

Please do not read this post if you feel it will trigger any issues or concerns you may have with eating disorders or body image or body weight. This is a blogpost dedicated to thinking about body image. It brings up questions about eating disorders. This is not a professional opinion but one person’s exploration into body image.

I am wondering if anybody would like to comment on the relationship between body image issues and eating disorders. Over the years, as I have gained a good bit of weight largely due to specific meds and comfort/stress eating, particularly after the birth of my daughter. I am now overweight but have lost about ten pounds since the fall.

I feel at the crux of my comfort/stress eating is a real grappling with media coverage for people (mostly women but maybe not more recently men?) with model figures including actresses/actors in Hollywood. I grew up in my twenties in the 1980s when eating disorders were just becoming much of “a thing.” I feel that I suffer from unrealistic expectations of what beauty is for women especially beauty for women post-menopause with graying hair and changing hormones.

Over the last six months of COVID, I have begun growing out my hair and leaving it to return to gray rather than dyeing and highlighting it. I feel good about embracing my natural beauty and not fretting about my roots showing up every 6 to 8 weeks or so. It is liberating!

Also as a note, it does seem now in my daughter’s generation, that body image issues are being addressed more fairly than in my day. The idea of body shaming and the need to refrain from that is front and center in my daughter’s vocabulary. This is echoed by an openness about gender identity which did not occur in my youth or within my generation growing up.

Although I have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, I do think I have body image issues. I need to be satisfied with a weight and an image of myself that befits a 57 year-old woman who takes life-sustaining meds associated with weight gain. I need to be OK with the fact that my meds cause weight gain. I need to be OK with the understanding that a model’s weight and a model’s figure is representative of .5 percent (I am guessing) of the population. It is an unrealistic goal to attain. Beauty is found from within rather than on the outside or in tandem to images that have been enhanced to make make-up models have flawless skin and no wrinkles. And so on and so on.

Another component to this puzzle is the role of exercise. I used to “work out” on a much more rigorous schedule than I do now. I find it difficult to motivate myself on a daily basis because for years I took working out as a measure of my success, trying to keep up with that model’s figure. Now I seek to exercise more for health than for vanity but it is still something that alludes me on a regular basis or over an extended period of time.

How do you feel about body image issues? Do you see that as synonymous with eating disorders? Or occurring sometimes simultaneously and sometimes not? What is the role of the media and the role of health leaders and every day people in providing healthy body image thoughts and pictures in the mind?

When Christmas Time is Over…

When Christmas time is over, there is always a little bit of a let down for me. All the rushing around for packages and decorations is over and there are five days left until New Years. Then there is all the undecorating to do before New Years. This year is especially so.

New Years is generally not my favorite holiday because all of the substance use – I just don’t get it. So, this will be a pretty regular New Year then with watching the festivities on TV.

Kids have one more week here before going back to school in January. Younger kids are supposed to go back first with middle schoolers and high schoolers coming in later if the in-person learning continues. My daughter will not go back to school until there is a vaccine. That much is decided.

For me the operative word right now is “ambiguity” and I don’t like ambiguity. The state of the US with the presidential transfer of power is ambiguous. The status of stimulus checks in the US is ambiguous. Whether kids will go back into the schools is ambiguous. When we will all get the vaccine is ambiguous. How healthcare will be impacted by covid-19 is ambiguous. Thankfully for me where the next meal is coming from is not ambiguous but it is for many, many people. Or the ability to pay the rent or the mortgage.

For me, this much ambiguity is hard to digest – both for myself and for others I may or may not know. The words “one day at a time” are cliched but very aptly put.

Here’s to hoping you have a restful and peaceful and non-ambiguous New Years. I keep telling myself — just remember the vaccines are only weeks or maybe months away now.

Also, please stay safe in this unprecedented time and enjoy your New Years at a distance.

After a lot of back and forth

After a lot of back and forth, my daughter’s school did not open in November 2020. Now the discussion is whether to open the schools in January 2021 after December break. Right now, with covid cases surging, there is indication that January 2021 attendance for grades 6 through 12 may be delayed again. Since my daughter has two parents who are at-risk, we are fine with that decision.

We will plan to send our daughter back to school once vaccines are available. Are you hopeful that the vaccine process where you live will be timely and safe?

Reposting – after 12 years of work

I have decided this cancellation from my therapist (see below) was all for the best. Rather than panic about not having a therapy visit for 8 weeks, I was able to talk myself through a period of not having a regular session with my therapist. When we did get in touch I learned s/he had a very painful illness but was not at a serious risk level. I feel proud of myself, if I can say so, about managing through this period. It has made me realize that in the 12 years of working with my therapist I have grown into a person who can handle a temporary lapse in therapy time if that occurs and/or as it occurs.

Here is the original post from a week or two ago:

After 12 years of work with my therapist with no interruptions and no cancellations, I got a call today cancelling/postponing our session for this month. In all the 12 years of work, my therapist has never missed or changed an appointment.

Funny how you rely on someone being there and expect there to be no gaps. Rationally, I know at some point people do get sick and have to call in sick, but it worries me when my therapist does/did this.

I guess you could say I am confronting my dependency on her. Should I have a back-up plan for when she is ill? She is into her 70’s as is my psyche doctor. Should I be thinking about someone younger just because?

When I got the news today about the cancellation I got somewhat anxious, so I called my psyche doctor and shared the news. We agreed I would go up on my meds if things felt too stressful.

Just out of curiosity, what do you do if your therapist is sick and cannot make a session? Does it stress you out? Do you move to Plan B? What is your Plan B?

I have a bad case of covid fatigue

I have a bad case of covid-19 fatigue and here’s what I am doing about it.

Anxiety is my go-to emotion. Anxiety in the midst of a pandemic is particularly tough. What I find I am doing with my anxiety is projecting out several weeks, several months and even several years into the future to see what life’s obstacles I need to attend to. This is completely the opposite of what I know I should be doing. I should be living in the moment one day at a time and not getting too far into the future or the past.

In order to help myself along with this goal and this need of getting back into the present, I am contemplating all the things I am worrying about, putting them on a list and then putting a time frame on them as to when they are due. Things that do not fall within the next 2 to 4 weeks or so go on the back burner to be addressed another day.

It is OK but not functional to have a list of all things to attend to until Doomsday. It is much nicer to have a shorter, more obtainable list of things I need to do in the next two weeks.

How do you keep focused on the present in this time of covid?

Squirrels are not my favorite today

Covid-19 is causing all sorts of crazy behaviors! Even amongst the squirrels!

Both of our cars have been besieged by squirrels in the last several days/weeks. Apparently the insulation that goes around the wires in both vehicles has some sort of soy-based component that the squirrels love. Hence the fact that cords and wires have been chewed through on both cars by squirrels. The local mechanic recommended using a monthly pepper spray intended to keep squirrels out of bird feeders. We have one car back from the shop and well sprayed. The second one we will get back on Monday and will spray again. Not to mention a nuisance this is also an expense we don’t need.

But all in all, I guess the squirrels are hoarding up for another round of covid-19 just like the rest of us…! Sorry to make a joke out of a very serious situation with covid-19. But a little humor is needed in these very serious times!

Sometimes when I don’t have the energy…

Sometimes I don’t have the energy to tackle the things on my to-do list. Either the to-do list is too long, or I am feeling anxious about things or some combination of the two.

What I have found when I am feeling this way is if I can just do one small thing on the list like pickup eggs at the supermarket, the rest of the list does not feel so daunting. As soon as I can jumpstart myself into doing one thing that’s productive, the barriers to finishing other items on the to-do list are less so. Often I can go ahead and complete several other items.

Does anybody else have a way of jumpstarting their to-do list? What is your secret?