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Spiritual Warrior: That's You in Recovery

The Laughing  Lucky Buddha A stroke of Luck 413428647   I've been away for a while but I'e been thinking of you a lot as I proceed on my new journey.
I'm steeped in sustainability studies, going for my certificate at UCLA and now also taking a free class through coursera.com given by the University of Illinois. The sustainability learning brings me to a clearer picture of what I've belived for many years.

Those of us who have or had an eating disorder are metaphors for the imbalanced consumption of humanity. Our eating disorders effect every phase of our lives. Humanity's consumption disorders effect every phase of life on this planet.



My thought was, and still is but more clear now, that what we as individuals need to do to recover from our eating disorders is very similar and perhaps even identical to what humanity has to learn and do to move our planet into a healthy and sustainable state.

This vision has many meanings and applications. But, the main meaning is that you, in your recovery work, are not only saving your own life. You are putting in your community, your culture and the world a recovery system that works, that makes you sustainable and could make the world sustainable.

In my sustainability classes I continually hear the call to "think big." This means, expand your vision, take on the really big jobs, don't be afraid to stretch your imagination and work to keep up. Save the world is not too big a goal. And for us, saving our own world comes first.

We live in our bodies and experience life through our sensibilities. Eating disorders destroy both and leave us in a life of such severe restriction and limitation we don't even know about much of what we are missing.

But, if we know that every step we take to live our lives in a healthy and sustainable way is a teaching gift to a world that needs those lessons, we expand our vision and oour self worth. Rather than seeing ourselves as weak, damaged and suffering people with dark secrets that can never be shared or understood we can see each other as spiritual warriors leading others to health and well being. And, that is exactly what we are, spiritual warriors.

Recovery from an eating disorder requires that we:

  1. stand up for ourselves,
  2. make changes in our lives,
  3. reach out to new and positive resources for help,
  4. face our fears and our terrors and grow through them,
  5. learn new ways of living, discover our real values,
  6. and above all, build a quality life that we can be happy to live and share.


"Sus" comes from Latin and means "stand up." "Tenere" the source of "tain" comes from Latin and means "hold." Isn't that the goal of recovery? To be able to stand up for yourself and hold your existence? I see so many parallels to the eating disorder journey and the global journey to sustainability that I will have many posts to share with you.

Mostly, I want you to know that your recovery journey has tremendous value, starting with yourself and moving to the people you love and who love you. The value spreads to your community, your culture, your country and the world.

You can know this now, regardless of what stage of recovery you are in. You matter and every recovery step you take matters. And yes, I am including the steps you might consider slips or falls. They are part of the journey.

So many people in recovery and after recovery ask me, "How can I help others?" People with eating disorders want to help others recover. They want their journey to mean something in this world.

What I'm saying here is that you don't have to wait until you are recovered to bring valuable lessons of meaning and help to this troubled world. Your struggle and pathway to recovery is in itself the valuable teaching example the world needs.

So think big and bigger. Your recovery is about you, and it is about much more than you.

Questions for you:

How would you think differently about yourself if you knew that your personal recovery effort

  1. supports creating a world that is healthy and vibrant for you and everyone you love?
  2. is more far reaching than what you weigh or how you appear but is inspiring to others?
  3. even your slips, served as a teaching example to bring peace and abundance to the world?
  4. helps restore a balance in nature and in human relationship with nature?
  5. could stop extinctions and support life in the seas, forests, mountains and deserts of this world?
  6. was influential in bringing social justice to women and children and men?


Think big and bigger. And please know, your efforts to recover can save your life and the lives of countless others.

Comments  

shh
0 # Good to have you back!shh 2014-09-03 19:03

Joanna it is really good to see you back on here blogging again...I have missed having your regular articles that give me "food for thought"


I'm still hanging in there - I would say still in the throes of my eating disorder, but when I think about it my weight has been relatively stable over the last year, I've just failed to deal with all the weight I gained when I relapsed during the previous year, and have obviously become accustomed to consuming the level of food intake that sustains this weight. I am still learning from that previous year when I'd taken on too much already and then unexpectedly finding myself having no choice but to ask my husband to leave, and then ending up stressed to the max but determined to plod on, at the expense of relapsing back into my ED to cope. In 6 weeks I will finish my degree and I have just turned down the offer of a place on a masters course that I would really like to do, but I know that I need to put myself and my health first at the moment, as I am dangerously overweight - that's a first for me, as usually I'd take on the course without really considering the need to care for myself.


I loved reading what you've written Joanna, as I have just spent 5 days with my girls in a log cabin by a river, not far from a loch, in the Scottish Highlands (I've never been to that part of Scotland before), and it was amazing ...I cried like a baby when I had to come home, and I'm getting misty-eyed writing about it. I'm still working out all the details of why it was so emotional for me - if I believed in past-lives I'd put it down to that, but I don't think I do; I think maybe it is just some inherent kind of residual knowledge that carries forth from generation to generation, or an instinctive knowing where we really belong and how our lives should really (ideally) be. I'll explain...


On one of the days we visited a replica crannog ([censored]://[censored].crannog.co.uk/), I'd never even heard of a crannog before - crannogs were iron age wooden dwellings built on stilts driven into small manmade or naturally occurring islands in the Scottish lochs and linked to the land by a single walkway. As I walked down the uneven log walkway out over the water to what looked like a big round log hut, I didn't expect very much, maybe a small exhibition of archaeological finds or something like that...but no, this was the real deal, it was a replica in every sense, I entered the crannog along with about 15 other people and a tour guide in an iron age costume, and I instantly felt like I was home. The mixture of sheep's wool, hay and dried bracken, that covered the log floor felt familiar, the smell of the dried plants and herbs that hung in bunches above my head around the central firepit, which although unlit still smelled of sweet wood smoke, the wooden benches, the animal skins, log beams, the storage areas, the cattle pen...everything about it just felt so right. I didn't want to leave,  I really wished that I could have some time alone in there, but the next tour party were waiting, so we were ushered out and on to the next part of the tour - which was again, brilliant - I learned how iron age settlers turned wood, bore holes through stones, and made fire and it was all hands on - we were allowed to try our hand at everything.


It fuelled a lot of thought in the coming days about always having felt strong connections to nature from as young as I can remember, and always wanting to live and work with what was naturally around us ...if I always felt it and it's so close to my heart, why don't I ever do more about it? As a child I lived with my parents' values, but as an adult why haven't I done more about it? The truth is probably that it's often quite physically demanding, and I've always battled with my weight and spent most of my life being very obese and physically unfit - and for someone who feels that in their knees, heartrate, shortness of breath etc, I suppose it's always seemed "too demanding" or I'd start projects but never see them through because they've been physically challenging.


What I've realised is that it has to change...my whole life I've wanted to get back to nature, at this point the feelings are so powerful and emotional that glimpses fill me with joy and excitement, and leaving it behind reduces me to tears ...I realise that it's something I HAVE to do, but I'm still working on exactly what and how!


 


 


 

pinkjoanna
0 # Hello again, Shhpinkjoanna 2014-09-04 18:33

Dear Shh,


Your description of your experience in Scotland is exquisite.  You brought the place to me so I rememberd the feeling of the Lochs.  Yes, I agree, they bring you to a profound space of beauty and timeless wonder.


Please don't wait to follow to heart.  You start your path back to nature with a flower pot!  Just start.  If you follow your heart your body will follow, one step at a time.  


Thank you for the welcome back.  I've been tending to needs I didn't know I had and am steeped in new studies and writing with new people, new ideas and new challenges.  It's a great time for me.


I hope I can share some of the positive momentum on the site.  


Joanna

shh
0 # Thanks Joanna!shh 2014-09-05 03:47

A pot I can manage - in my old home (going back 10 years now), my garden was small and easy to manage and I enjoyed being able to grow things is pots and look after the small area I had.... in this house however - the garden is large, sloping and uneven, it has potential, but in many ways it is too large and has some challenging features, it requires constant maintenance to stay on top of things, and as such is pretty unkempt in places because I don't have the time, ability or resources to keep on top of it all. My plan was always to develop some of the spaces into low maintenance areas, so that I could devote some time to little projects like raised veggie beds and planting more fruit trees and that kind of thing, but my husband didn't value the outdoor space and wouldn't spend money on it, and now that I'm here alone, just staying in this house is a financial challenge, there aren't any spare funds.


It exasperates me....it could really be something special, it's pretty non-overlooked and has a dry stone wall like you see around fields of sheep over here along the rear boundary with very  tall mature trees beyond that, which are not on my land but overhang it giving a foresty feel to the bottom end of the garden, whilst the top, less shaded portion could be a good growing area, but the soil needs a lot of work on it, it's a claggy, clay soil, so really raised beds or a good depth of topsoil would be the easiest way. It needs thousands and thousands of pounds worth of groundwork & re-landscaping doing though, it needs tradesmen bringing in to do it...so I try not to look at it or think about it too much - I hide away from my own garden so I don't have to face the disheartening, frustrating feeling I feel when I'm in it.


All that said and done, I bought a book in the shop at the crannog, about building your own earth oven, and I have promised myself that I will stick with it and get that finished by next August...I just have to figure out where to site it first, before I can start thinking about the groundwork and foundations, so all I can say is...


....watch this space! :-)


 


 

pinkjoanna
0 # gardenpinkjoanna 2014-09-05 09:28

Hi Shh,


What if you accepted the natural tendency of the space and did nothing but clear excess so what is growing can show itself to advantage?


The stone walls and background trees sound wonderful. Can you work with the natural resources that already exist and just shape a little?


 

shh
0 # Wilderness!shh 2014-09-05 12:00

Hi Joanna


We have always left that bottom portion of the garden as a bit of a natural wilderness, we added some extra ferns, and groundcover plants, and put water receptacles, birdfeeders and ladybird/bee houses down there, and the people that own the trees put up some owl nesting boxes...it's the rest of the space that I find so frustrating/challenging.


I feel a bit guilty moaning about it really as I'm very lucky to have such a space and all the wildlife that we have here - birds, bats, squirrels, owls, butterflies, hedgehogs, frogs and an abundance of insects and spiders, but on the same level I feel like I'm not doing justice and taking good enough care of what I do have by not getting done the works that need doing.

Laura R
0 # Yay, You Are Back!Laura R 2014-09-05 18:05
Hi Joanna. I have missed you and the community. I'm glad that you are enjoying your new journey and that you are back in online. 

The definition of sustain is very interesting...stand up and hold. I have been sustaining my recovery at a level that is good compared to a couple of years ago - very steady - and yet it could be much better. I've been reading The Happiness Trap and learning about ACT. I'm finding at almost 50 that I've lost touch with what I want for myself aside from keeping my job and getting by. I've started to think about values again and a quality life would look like.

I'm finding it difficult to negotiate between accepting where I am with in terms of being someone who is sensitive and wired to be more anxious and someone who is not satisfied with good and is willing to tolerate a lot of discomfort to see if maybe I can be even better in my recovery.

One of my providers is very much in accept and live with compassion for the parts of you that are still a little disordered. The other is very much saying challenge yourself and do not accept good enough and fight for a full recovery. I fall somewhere in between and don't know which way to lean in. I am not sure I can lean too far to the challenge side and keep up with work and the hubby and the cats. The emotional load of challenging can be exhausting.

Hi shh. It's very good to see you online too :-) I have been doing some gardening this summer just because I love being in the dirt and watching things grow. I have a small yard and even so there are always parts that are wild and need tending. I have had a lot of moss lately and decided that maybe it looks magical and I should let it be instead of trying to pull it all up. Some of my plants look kind of sorry and I can't take on all of them at once so I try to help one at a time as I can.

One fun thing I did this summer was plant Sunflowers. Talk about magic! They are taller than me and as they fade I am excited for them to be food for the birds.

shh It sounds like you have done a lovely job of supporting the little creatures in your yard. I'm not sure nature would want you to feel guilty!
pinkjoanna
0 # thanks for the welcomepinkjoanna 2014-09-05 21:16

Dear Laura,

So nice to get a warm welcome.  

You raise an important recovery issue: self compassion and acceptance vs. dissatisfaction and willingness to push through discomfort to advance in recovery.

You might want to look more carefully at what you see is an either or situation.

Self compassion is needed all the time as a basic ground for everything.  That doesn't mean you can't evaluate yourself and find room for improvement. It means that you are kind to yourself regardless of what is happening or how you are feeling.

Acceptance doesn't mean staying in once place.  It means accepting where you are, wherever you are. In fact, you can't really move beyond where you are unless you acknowledge the reality of your current position.

Challenge doesn't have to mean giving yourself new challenges.  You may have plenty in front of you in your daily life right now. Most of us do.  Your challenges now, it seems, are based on your marriage, your job, your garden, your cats and the development process you are going through as you look at your position in your lifespan.  

That sounds like plenty of challenge to me. Sometimes the way out of a problem or the way through a challenge is to move more deeply into it, like digging into the earth which you so much enjoy.  

I wonder how you might go more deeply into the challenges you already have. You might discover some new resilience in yourself and some new opportunities that are happy surprises.

Thank you for writing on the site.

Joanna


P.S. I agree, it's fun to plant sunflowers and watch them grow!


PTC
0 # HiPTC 2014-09-06 18:01
Hi Joanna!

Welcome back.  I was wondering where you'd been.  Kept on checking your blog for something good to read and there were no new posts. :sad:  Glad you're back and learing and teaching us some new stuff.
pinkjoanna
0 # Good to hear from you, PTCpinkjoanna 2014-09-06 18:20

Thank you for the welcome, PTC.  Good to hear from you.  Yes, I'm learning a lot these days. It was time for me to move into a more expansive world.  

You'll see how it relates to recovery as I post more articles.

Thank you again for checking in! You must have known, and I'm glad you did, that I would eventually show up again.   :-)

Joanna

PTC
0 # YepPTC 2014-09-07 05:15
I knew you'd be back. :-)  I need to some good stuff to read, something that my flip some sort of switch in my brain.  Maybe I'll just blame my concussion for my slump.

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JoannaPoppink Severe, chronic flooding will devastate California coast as sea levels rise, experts say https://t.co/IjzL9ReJbe
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JoannaPoppink Short, sweet and right on. I'm going through this change myself now. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's scary. Yes, it's... https://t.co/t7lfHGK06N
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JoannaPoppink “You have to move forward. Because you can’t go back.” by @Jonwestenberg https://t.co/ZueunomlmE
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JoannaPoppink “Seconds after quoting an anonymous source, Anthony Scaramucci admits the source was Donald Trump” by @adamnpeck https://t.co/c6bZ1BtI1N
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JoannaPoppink “Energy efficiency is a huge money saver — but the Trump administration is against it” — @climateprogress https://t.co/OVGODyngtg
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