Monday, November 25, 2013

Final post

I have been waiting for time and inspiration to overlap so that I could write something that I wanted to share.  It hasn't happened in some time and today is no different – I have time but am feeling uninspired.

Over the last weeks, I have given it a lot of thought and decided that it is time to officially wrap up this blog.

Julia's journey” was started with the intention of sharing my walk from eating disorder hell to life.  I found that by thoughtfully writing about the ups and downs the result was a deepening in my understanding of the process by explaining it. It was started with optimism and hope that it would end with a well person writing. It has, and that (wellness) is comprised of more than I could have ever imagined not long ago.

The end of October offered my “one year home” anniversary. It was celebrated quietly with great friends, good food, and a toast. Suffice to say, change and growth has continued over the year and finally, I feel like I am settling into life as a whole me.  I remember more, now, than I did a year ago (sometimes with memories coming back whether I prefer to have them or not) but my focus is largely on the “now” with an optimistic and hopeful outlook for the future.

Sharing my experience has been a gift. Thank you to all of my readers and supporters. This is not a journey I could have undertaken alone.

And so, I will continue to bumble through life's transitions and experiences only as well as I can, with the awareness and understanding that I possess at any given time. As I continue to live, I certainly hope to grow in grace.

Wishing each of you much peace in your days.  Please never, ever give up.  There is always hope.

Thank you again.

Friday, October 18, 2013

My thoughts, my messengers

I have had great intentions to write for the past months and just have not – sorry again to any readers I may still have!

I recently read an interview with two women who have struggled with eating disorders. They both spoke to the idea that they will live the the ED voice in their head forever; that recovery is maximized when one chooses not to engage in what the deadly internal dictator suggests. I have said before that I believe that recover can be achieved to a degree which each individual desires and I still believe that. With proper guidance and unrelenting pursuit of what ones heart really wants (mine was a well life without fear) – anything is possible!

I didn't ever want to live simply behaviour-free but battling that voice and those thoughts on a regular basis. What a life: to look well, act well, but continue to be at war. I imagine the fight would lessen over time but to resolve to that life of struggle is, in my opinion, accepting the suboptimal still.

When I read this interview, I chose to reflect on my experience. I have had classic “eating disordered thoughts” enter my consciousness in the not-so-distant past. This doesn't mean, to me, that I am not recovered or that I am existing in a state of “in recovery”. I believe myself the be recovered – never looking back and not at risk.

To be clear, the “eating disordered thoughts” I speak of are never the kind of severe self-loathing but those of a much more simple and, dare I say, boring variety. To that extent I also wonder what woman, or human for that matter, is not acutely aware of their body at times or considers what they are eating. For sake of simplicity, I will refer to them at eating disordered thoughts because, as an ex ED patient, I am conditioned to refer to them as such.

The thoughts I have on occasion now, serve only as messengers to me. What I have realized when they arise is that I needed to take a solid look at myself and how I am living; they are an indication that I need to reflect. Questions I quickly choose to ask myself at these times are: what am I doing now that needs to be different to honour who I really am? Is there something that I am capable of changing in order to continue living authentically? And a difficult one to ask: what am I not addressing that I need to? Am I avoiding?

Once I take the time I need to reflect and choose my next move wisely, those old thoughts fall away again. 


This is the way I have been able to make these thoughts work for me. I did not ever wish to exist with “noise” in my head that I have to think over or fight but it seems that in current treatment, that is the standard for recovery. That is not my recovery experience. There is no “noise” or painful intrusion, just awareness.

The way I see it, is that The System primarily offers patients coping skills. It offers these skills by many names and through a plethora of therapies. I am not denying the importance of developing such skills and implementing the tools taught. Is it not human to benefit from practising mindfulness, assertiveness, distress tolerance, and acceptance? (I choose those only because they are common themes in many popular therapies.)

However, a person who enters therapy with no sense of self has no basis on which to build. If one places no worth on themselves and their life, what is the point of learning any of the above skills and techniques?

I am not criticizing The System for sake of criticism. I do not fault any helping professional or team for trying to help in whatever ways they know and feel best about. I do feel strongly about expressing my understanding of it, now, though. Professionals working with eating disorders try to use evidenced based therapies. I feel that the “evidence” of recovery they set as a goal is placing the bar too low.

Therapists and programs that I experienced in the public system assume an adult mind behind the adult body (in its varying shapes and sizes). A common, though little understood, trait of many with eating disorders is an undeveloped emotional mind. Fundamental to effective treatment is nurturing that mind (and thus the self) to maturity. From there, one can move forward on all the skills above and implement them simply as life skills!

Prior to accessing the program I did, my family doctor seemed to recognize my need for him to be “the parent” and make decisions for me. Despite not being regularly certified or forced to participate in care, I allowed him to make the calls most often. He knew, and I knew, that I was in no position to be telling anyone what I needed.

If one knows their needs and values those needs as well as their worthiness of having them met – what function would eating disorder behaviours serve? Therapies that I engaged in seemed to try to meet me at a point far beyond where I was. There seemed to be two angles. The first assumed I did not know my needs and the therapist wanted to help me identify those needs. After that, we could work on ways to have them filled. However, I had no worth in my own eyes. Helping me realize that I was hurting (and not actually “feeling fat”, for example) didn't mean I would ever ask for comfort.

Due to the deceiving strength of my rational mind – and I have seen it in many others - it was sometimes assumed that I knew my needs and just did not know how to have them met. (Example: I didn't often complain of “feeling fat” because I knew, logically, that I could not possibly be. I knew I was lost, and could say that, but didn't know what to do – so I hurt myself further and lost myself in a familiar darkness). So, sometimes I did know my needs but again, it boiled down to not believing that I deserved to have these needs met.

Give a person who has withstood starvation (or other self-induced abuse in the extreme) some skills – they will likely implement them to an extent and survive for quite some time. The will to stay alive is an amazing thing. Will it be sustained? Who can say? Some people “get by” for their whole lives relying on skills that serve them externally but never find themselves and the wonderful reason they are. Some people are able to start their work with the skills and develop themselves as they implement them. I'm not saying my way is for everyone by any means – just sharing my experience.

I remember feeling such a visceral emptiness when I thought of myself. The idea that whatever was so empty in me could possibly be helped was beyond my imagination.

What I was eventually provided with was a safe place to grow. It was like being placed in a nest for as long as I needed to be there. There were people protecting me and helping me break longstanding habits. There is an element of habit in eating disorder behaviour. It was a place where I was safe to attempt to make many behavioural changes that had been posed to me over the years as part of this idea of “recovery”. With my “structures” being deconstructed one by one, I was left with just my small, raw self. This was terrifying for me but once I accessed that, I was able to begin my real growth and development.

Slowly, I explored “me”. As my mind was ready, I discovered more of what was real. I'm not talking about finding what I like to do and how I like to do it. Though that came too, it was more about realizing that I and all that I really am, and have been since my life began. The core of me: my skills, flaws, imperfections, and talents; a make up that I could value and was deserving of nurturing and love.

Once this was established, I could go on to work on all the things people had been trying to teach me over the years. What was so amazing to me was that I was given the chance to do this in my words, on my terms, and as was right for me. Since leaving treatment I have discovered that many skills I have now are part of what conventional therapies offer. A significant difference regarding the ability to implement these ideas is that I had the time to develop a platform. All the skills taught to me are supporting the platform that is me. What I do reinforces or grows this platform of me-ness. The “me” in this had to be developed first.

I admitted that I have experienced some “eating disordered thoughts”. The difference now is that they are just indicators of the need to get back to my platform, do an inspection, and probably perform some maintenance.

If I was not given the platform of me and been able to take the time to culture love and respect for that me, I know that I would have lived at high risk for relapse if not acutely ill for lengths of time. What is there to fight for when what you think you are is worthy of tolerance at best and/or hate more often? Would you fight for you if you hated you?

I don't have any real solutions to offer regarding common treatment approaches, and that is hard.

I set out with the intention of discussing the idea that living with the mental abuse an ED voice but not acting on it does not have to be what recovery looks like. That would never have been sustainable for me but that doesn't mean it is not for others. It was not desirable to me and I want others who want more to know that “getting by” does not have to be the best that one looks towards.

I know that something vastly different is possible. I can say that the only thing I have to “learn to live with” is the awareness of how I occasionally receive messages from my intuition. I still believe that could change sometime for me. For now, it is how I am prompted to listen.

It takes an immense strength to fight against the behaviours that are offered as solutions by the negative beast in a disordered mind. With practice, that part gets better even with an underdeveloped sense of self – practice always helps! To face one's self as needed and truly, openly reflect, takes a different kind of strength. It also lends itself to a wonderful forward flow of growth and development. I know I wouldn't want to live in any other way.

My greatest wish is that each person could be placed in a nest as needed. To crack their shell and hatch; develop their wings and eventually, when they are ready - fly.

(All images uncredited - my apologies.  Random internet finds.)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dear Sufferer: Who are you?

Apologies again for not maintaining this space.  Just a quick note for today:

I hear so often from people with EDs (and said it myself not so long ago) "But who am I without my eating disorder?  I am nothing without it."  That was one of many thoughts that kept me trapped for as long as it did.  ED was a defining aspect of me.  I had better times and harder times but always, I related to it.  I was "in recovery" or had "relapsed" or was "healthy but struggling mentally".  ED was constantly tied to my identity because I remained scared of what was inside - what if I was nothing?  It has lost its place in my description of self and with what I identify - completely.  It is a huge part of my past but it never should have had such perceived intimacy with my character.  Nor should it in yours.

By giving up ED, yes, it seems as though a vast emptiness will exist - it won't.  It might feel like it for a while but who one actually is - who you are - persists through everything, we just have to find her/him.

To give up ED is to trade sadness for joy, fear for courage, anger for kindness, and worthlessness for value; and all other wonderful aspects of your true self.

Joy is waiting for you.  Your courage has never left, it is just difficult to understand in sickness.  You are inherently good and kind but have been beaten down by your mind and often by life.  You have confirmed your worthlessness with unfounded thoughts created by a monster in your head and its misunderstanding of external messages.

This can all change and you can be you, safely.  You can be happy and satisfied.

What are you holding onto this for?  I don't know a lot of people who know how to get themselves better and that is not the point, I am not saying this is ever a choice but do not, for one moment, think that without ED you are nothing.  Without ED you are everything you are not allowed to be right now and so beautiful.

Please choose to get to know you.  We are all born worthy and remain so until our last breath.  Let the world see you shine.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Late entry: Two years.

I'm so sorry that I have neglected this space for so long.

The two year anniversary of when I first left for Portugal has come and gone. Over the last month, I considered what I might want to say about this anniversary and there is so much! However, it was one interaction in particular that offered the content of today's post.

I have been at St. Paul's a lot recently, for courses and reorientation as part of the exciting process of getting me back to work. The time I spent around the hospital has been great. I had the chance to really experience my emotional progress with exposure to that old environment. I had no reaction to the general areas of the hospital. On the unit where I worked, my excitement to get back to work only grew as I practised my skills in the lab, observed the other nurses hard at work, and had conversations with educators and those in leadership roles. Overall, though exhausting as I am not accustomed to working anymore, this process has gone very smoothly and at a most reasonable pace. Each new task or decision has been placed in front of me only as I have reached a point of readiness for it.

It does not mean that it is easy, but it is quite a peaceful experience of the challenges I am faced with as I work towards something I never imagined would happen. Something that I used to hold passion for and am feeling that same drive be ignited again.

A couple of weeks ago, I went back to the inpatient eating disorder unit at the hospital to visit a friend. The day I went I continued to experience peace. I considered what might cause me distress about the situation and decided that I was in a solid enough place and surrounded by the right support to contend with whatever might come up.

When I stepped onto the unit, I had no reaction. The nurse asked me if I had been there before and I responded, “Yes.” (obviously). He confirmed that I was familiar with the routines and I said, “No, I don't think so.” All he asked was that I did not bring food onto the unit. I laughed and told him I had gum and asked if he would like me to hand that over – he didn't. How bizarre to be on the outside, as a visitor, unfamiliar with their routine but aware beyond what they required!

Anyway, I enjoyed my friend's company and on the way out, stopped to say hello to a couple of other nurse who knew me from the past. Once I told them who I was, they seemed quite thrilled to see me as a well person. High fives and big was a great moment (one of a few with numerous ED program staff). One of them asked to speak with me for a few minutes about how the program in Portugal was different than what I had experienced in Canada. This is where the inspiration for this post came from.

I have been faced with this question before and have not managed to answer as well or as clearly as I would like to. Sometimes it is simply a slight head shake and, “Everything.” Other times it has been an unstructured mess of words trying to highlight what the most important differences were for me. In this instance, I was able to offer a more concise description of the program and the components as I had experienced them. The nurse went on to ask something along the lines of, “So, with this kind of therapy and treatment, do you feel that you were given the tools to set appropriate boundaries and practice assertive communication?”

I smiled and the answer became so clear. I responded with what is true:

What they gave me in this program was myself. They debunked the lies in my head that had me certain that I was a bad person. Once I learned and understood that I was actually a good person, deserving of life and ultimately desiring life, self-respect and love naturally followed. With that knowledge, I explained to her: When you have yourself and you like and love yourself; when you want to live and be a full part of this world, like any other well person - knowing your limits and seeking fulfilment of needs in effective and healthy ways, becomes the only way to live.

What greater gift could a program offer me except the understanding of myself? Any practitioner can give a patient skills and illustrate communication systems that should work but when a person doesn't understand what or why they are seeking what they are, what good are these tools?

It was so neat to me to be able to tell her this. As for the how I got from there to here...that is a little blurry. Of course it took extensive guidance, support, persistence, and patience on the part of the team that worked with me and also from my friends and family as I stepped forward into the new ground that was becoming me.

All of this continues to require work as I solidify caring for, respecting, and loving myself as habit. The best part now, is that my focus can extend beyond myself. I made a video days, days before I left, in which I spoke about how scared I was but how hard I was going to work to overcome my condition if they thought they could help me. In there, I indicated that in the future, I would like to help others but that I had to work on/help myself first. I didn't know that it would take “as long” as it did but I am so thankful that I had the chance to do all the necessary, foundational work. The encouragement to maintain the focus on my improvement was also imperative as I was often wanting to run off and help the world as I felt that spending so much time thinking about and talking about myself was simply selfish. Perhaps it was, but it was needed. Now, I have the rest of my life, if I use it as I would like to, to extend my whole self to others and to the moments of life as they present themselves (and as I seek them).

Two years ago I could never have imagined what lay on the other side of the pain and self-hatred. The idea that life could be so beautiful and that I could be so okay was more than foreign – it was completely alien.

Seems like no time and a lifetime at the same time. And now, it's time for the best time(s). 


Thursday, May 30, 2013

More on memory

This past week, I went to St. Paul's Hospital for a nursing skills lab. It went really well, I enjoyed myself and had a practical confidence boost as I performed the skills they were reviewing. There is still a lot for me to learn and brush up on but with each step I take, I am reassuring myself that the knowledge is still in me and my capacity to learn persists.

When I left the hospital, I walked to the bus stop along a familiar route. It was rush hour and raining enough to have out umbrellas. As I was walking, I experienced waves of emotions. At first it was slightly unpleasant because it was such an emotional cacophony! I was, in my true moment, so satisfied with my learning experience and even more thrilled to be getting back to work. I was smiling to myself at the thought of the present and of the future. However, there remained currents of unrest and anxiety. It had nothing to do with my afternoon at work it seemed. And then I remembered...everything.

It was more of a sensation of memory than direct. Feelings and a few picture memories from years past. From while I was working and physically well; those I had while working and physically unwell; and of course, those I had as a career sick person and commuting to the hospital for appointments.

Luckily, I caught this early in my walk to the bus and was able to observe it rather than analyze it and become confused or distressed as I may have before. It was rather interesting!! Nothing was intrusive, it just was.

As I approached home, a track by a great band - School of Seven Bells – came through my headphones. A few lyrics from the song “Kalaja Mari” are:

Do you feel the pain
or do you feel the memory?”

That struck me profoundly. I was not feeling the pain of the past, simply the memory. I have said before, that memories are affecting me less and less and this experience illustrated that so well. I felt many things but it was not the old pain. It was just feeling the memory.

So surely, I am walking away from the past. Memories will last, I am sure, but they are rarely intrusive at this point and even more rarely anxiety causing. It is wonderful, in a way, to have the memories I do as I lost many of them for some time (some form of mental protection). Now, it is a safer time for me to experience them as they need to present themselves in my consciousness again. I can only hope that as I keep giving my emotional self room to feel and to remember, that I will fill my most accessible mind with “better” memories. The others serve as a reminder right now, of how far I have come and what I went through to get to where I am today. At this time, I appreciate the push towards gratitude that my memory offers. In time, it will likely be different. For now, this is just as it should be and that is quite okay!

The image for today's post is a quote by Paulo Coelho. “It takes huge effort to free yourself from memory.” I agree but like so much of the effort put towards wellness, it is not at all draining – rather quite life-giving and refreshing. What better results of effort could one ask for?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

“What makes us say such mean things to ourselves?”

This was a question that came up in conversation regarding the way people with eating disorders, though often remarkable human beings and worthy of wonderful lives, think about and talk to themselves. Surprisingly quickly, I had my answer to this question.

For me, it was not knowing how to be who I really was/am. As a child, my parents did their very best with me. My sensitivity was accommodated in ways that others' is not by family. It was my own perception of how I felt, and judgement of the same, that caused the disconnect with my true self and thus, the negative self-talk.

I'm not sure if I have shared this memory in this blog; I know I have spoken about it in my face to face interactions.  It stands out from my childhood, and begins my explanation of why I became the way I was.

When I was 6, my mom's brother passed away after battling cancer. I had met him once, maybe twice. He lived on the other side of the country and we were not close. The day he passed (an expected death), the call came through to my mom and, when she hung up the phone, my dad asked how Bill was. Mom stated quite matter-of-factly, “He's dead.” and carried on doing the dishes as she had been before the call. I overheard this news and fled to my room with my eyes stinging. I remember standing in the corner, crying - sobbing in fact - and wondering why? It was my mom's brother and she was not crying, why was I so upset? The fact remained that I was but, the idea that my emotional response could possibly be wrong, stuck with me. From then, I wanted to be “stronger” – more like my mom, my hero.

As time went on, I tried to control my emotions but not in a way that worked because I did not have instruction/guidance.  In fact, I cannot imagine many, if any, people were aware of the effort I was making to be “like everybody else”.  Emotional control meant stuffing, stifling, and bottling my feelings. Within myself, I felt flawed. I still had my emotional reactions/responses but I hated myself for them. When I didn't observe other people having, or allowing expression of, their emotions, I had to wonder why I was feeling the way I was at any given time - certainly I was wrong.

It makes sense now, how the rest of the negative self-talk came to be. If one starts at 6 or so thinking that they are wrong and weird and tries to change with no direction, a certain divide arises:

I still had my feelings but I felt they were often the wrong way to feel and, therefore I, as a person, was wrong; eventually it was as though I were two people in one body. I did not lose my sensitivity but I sure tried to deny it, mask it, and suppress or change it. After years of telling myself and being convinced that I was not doing “it” right, what could the result be except extreme judgement and negativity?

Take it one step further, I figured that if I could not even feel the "right way", I must be doing everything else wrong too!  The snowball effect...

When I went through eating disorder treatment as an adolescent, I was finally allowed to be whomever I really was. At 17, I experienced, emotionally - in one year - what I imagine most people spread out over all the adolescent years of 12-18. It was challenging but freeing. However, despite being allowed  and encouraged to be myself, there was still no understanding of how I could contend with my sensitivity in the context of the “real world”. It was finally okay to be sensitive, it was seen as a gift, I accepted it...but to be allowed it and to be able to really deal with it, understand it, and celebrate it, are different skills.

As I progressed into chronological adulthood, I started to suppress again because my experience was too strong and too painful. I continued to see myself as doing things wrong and feeling too much or the wrong way. Thoughts like, I “should” be stronger; I “should” be able to deal with life. After all, I'd spent two years in intensive treatment and was in recovery from an eating disorder!

I look back and want to hug that young adult and tell her that it's okay not to have it all figured out. I want her to know that she does not need to numb out her feelings, though extreme at times, with mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety agents. I want her to see and understand that her OCD tendencies were just an attempt to structure her world when, internally, there was still chaos. I want her to know it's okay to ask for help and that she is still worthy of help even after the effort put into her during treatment; that needing support does not end for any strong human. Strength is found in vulnerability and removing the simple mask of bravery.

As the conflict between how I felt and how I thought I should feel arose again, the self deprecation and hate naturally followed. After all that, I was still doing it wrong. (By whose standards? By the image presented by the superficial elite of the world to be sure...) 

Additionally, I realized that I was not only feeling my own feelings but was highly perceptive of others' also. To experience others' feelings as viscerally as if the were one's own, while trying to contend with the deeply personal jumble inside, is an overwhelming task!

Eventually, I relapsed hard. Through the ED I was able to numb it all. I disconnected with myself and with the world as I became more and more obsessed.

When I entered treatment this last time, I expected a recovery similar to what I had when I was a young adult but hopefully with a bit more insight and "tools". The journey was far from the same and the result is extensively different.

Sensitivity, as a gift, is not a simply a belief anymore, it is knowledge to me now. The idea that I feel very deeply is okay and it does not need to destroy me. I am not doing anything “wrong” because there is no scale with which to judge the right and wrong of my feelings.

If other people do not think and feel the same way I do, it does not make anyone wrong, it just adds to the mosaic of human material.

I love my sensitivity now. I love that it allows me a completely different and wordless language/interaction with the world. I am okay with crying over the loss of a person or animal I barely knew or knew for only a short time. I know that my experience of the world is different than many others' and that is okay too. It is not wrong, it is just me, and how I feel, how anyone feels, can never be “wrong”.

Now, I also know how to really manage and care for myself. I might go so far as to say that I am an expert in me! I have never felt this way. I always thought that someone had to understand me, and what I was thinking and feeling, better than me. These days, I know me and I trust myself. I can comfort and reassure myself but am okay (and getting better) with the idea that sometimes, someone else can comfort me too. I am allowed all my feelings because that is all they are. I understand the power I have to choose my thoughts about those feelings (and about life in general) and that is a practice I engage with most of the time. I have stopped over-analyzing how I am feeling - what is the point? So that I can compare it to you or her, or him, or myself from a different time? I do check-in with myself when I am feeling unexpected or uncomfortable emotions but without judgement. It's kind of like I am asking myself to “tell me more. What is really going on?  Does this even belong to/come from you?”. In that way, it sounds like I am my own therapist and I feel like exactly that!!

It is amazing to know myself and be okay with whatever I am and who I am becoming. I can always improve on things. I have a list the length of my arm of areas in which I am making much effort to change and improve, but only because it serves my true self, and hopefully the world, better - not because I feel flawed.

So with all that, the negative self-talk has vastly improved. I remain human and have doubts and fears. I sometimes criticize myself more harshly than I would like to or need to. I do not think I am the “bees' knees” on any given day but I sure do not hate myself – ever. What is so dramatically different is that, although I remain hard on myself at times and push myself extensively to move forward, the real me is consistent. Consistently evolving, perhaps! The disconnect that I described earlier doesn't exist and therefore, less and less confusion. With this clarity, I can see myself for who I really am and that alright!!

I have proven to myself that I do much better with gentle encouragement versus harsh words to myself; learned to be curious about what and why I am feeling; and understand that my feelings cannot be wrong - regardless of what they are - but can be explained and offer insight.

If you ask yourself, who is the "you" you speak to in your thoughts?  Is the real you the speaker or the listener?  Both?  Why not visualize yourself as a child and speak to her/him as you would a young one?  Ultimately, you are your child and you are your parent.  You are your client and you are your therapist.  Everyone needs input from the outside but, in your thoughts: be the gentler speaker and the open listener - as one.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To be continued?

With 6 other half-written blog entries open as word documents on my computer, here I am writing another. It is not for lack of things to say but a consideration that maybe it is time for me to wrap up this blog. My intention, in the beginning, was to keep people in the loop (who wanted to be) as to my progress towards recovery. Soon, the blog morphed slightly due to my desire for people to better understand the mindset of people with eating disorders and for those afflicted to really grasp that there is hope. Have I succeeded in those things? I am not sure, but I know I tried my best.

Do I have more to say on eating disorders? I sure do! I just have to wonder what good sharing my personal story does. I have to consider that those who are currently sick or working towards recovery are looking for answers and the potential for influence is great. I would not want someone to think that what worked for me will necessarily work for them; that my way is “right”, and end up more frustrated when it becomes clear that everything is individual when it comes to self-discovery. My way was, and is, right for me but not for everyone! This sounds obvious to me but is not always.

For example:

I have started two entries regarding body image as, when I was coming through, I searched and searched for some answers as to when things got better and when the changes would end - I didn't find much. I don't have the answers for anyone and, ultimately, have the same message for others that I came across: it is different for everyone but it does get better. It was frustrating, especially while my patience was very low and still being nurtured, to not be able to find an answer or a guideline for me. The fabulous thing about how personal it is, is that whatever happens is exactly as it should be. It's not an easy realization when one is in the thick of dealing with a negative mindset. There was a desire in me to be like everyone else, just in some simple ways, but also a deeper, stronger desire to be fully myself and embrace my individuality. If I speak to my experience with physical recovery, I have to wonder how many people will put themselves on a time line in a negative way or wonder why, when their bodies do somethings entirely different, things are not working out as expected. It's a delicate area to discuss but so misunderstood.

Another entry spoke to why such nice people say and think such awful things to and about themselves. I may come back to that topic. It is certainly a pattern of thought that begins at an early age and takes time and effort to correct. However, my why is not going to be the why for anyone else – so is there value in sharing it? I do not know.

In the meantime, while I contemplate whether to continue discussions regarding eating disorders and illustrate my points with subjective experience, I want to emphasize, today, how possible life after an eating disorder is.

I believe I have been clear about how beautiful I find life; how I delight in wonder at the world and people; and how connected and loved I feel. I am forever thankful for all of this.

To say what the biggest change is, is difficult but, it may very well be the dissipation of fear. And this brings me back to my query about continuing this particular blog because, to remain eating disorder specific is perhaps the wrong approach. Let me explain...

Fear is a human condition. It does not belong to only people with “mental illness”. Well people live with fear too: of the future, of change, of commitment, of death, heck, of spiders, birds, and heights! The list goes on. We all have it. Sensitive perfectionists (classic traits of many with eating disorders) may experience fears more intensely, especially related to these ominous concepts of “success” or “failure”. I was previously terrified that I was a terrible person under my illness. Now, does a truly terrible person worry that they are a bad person? I think not!

The "dissipation" of my person fears does not mean eradication. Fear exists for evolutionary purposes and to that extent, I have embraced some healthy fear.

Aha! So it is not fear that has left but my understanding of the concepts that I was so scared of before that has increased and changed!

More examples:

Success has been redefined by my own standards (which I will not get into as I believe it is an extremely empowering task for each individual to find their own meaning of this concept). “Failure” has become an opportunity to learn and do things differently. In fact, it does not seem to exist in my thought process anymore because, if I learn from all my experiences and commit to applying that learning, how is there any room to conceive of a situation or event as a failure? Change has been embraced. How else can one survive this life if one does not relinquish the illusion of control? Change is uncomfortable at times and disruptive, yes. But, again, through each process of change, I learn more about myself and the world. By entering each day with a curiosity about what I can learn and how I can possibly change for the better or practice the way of being that I am developing that works for me (and those around me), change itself - becomes fascinating.

So you see, though I could go on, life for me, now, is much less about “recovery” and simply about joining the weird and wild world while getting to know myself and continue to improve on and grow into the person I want to be.

Now that I have written this, I think I have decided to maintain this space – though probably with a similar infrequency I have of late.

So with that, I will add that I have been back in Canada for just over 6 months and things keep getting better and more interesting. My past, though memorable finally, is only that – memories. To date, my experience is that life is as good as I allow it to be and I know I have the ability to choose how I perceive it.

Let it be lovely to you too. Happy May!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Rock bottom will always be the foundation

If any given picture can say 1000 words, this one might speak a million.

This was about two years ago, just days after being discharged from my last and final admission at St. Paul's Hospital. This was my rock bottom. Completely hopeless (evidently except for the little flame I could not understand!) and wanting to be dead. After failing to kill myself in one swift motion, I was thrust back into my personal hell. It felt like I had been on a spinning carnival ride for hours and suddenly flung off. How was I to contend with days that kept coming that I had not intended on seeing??

Though not the picture of health, it wasn't my worst physical state in most ways. My weight was not at a scary low, my labs had been stabilized, my ECGs normalized - but my mind was completely gone.

Two years later, during this present week, as my life keeps moving forward, I made great strides in the direction of more full integration into the world. I came out on top of all my fears. I am proud of myself but more importantly, feel incredibly connected.

For example: one day I was on my way to take care of anxiety-provoking business, I chose instead of looking at the ground and trying to focus my mind internally to find peace, to look up and notice the people walking by me. Downtown there is not shortage of people for watching!! Most people were walking quickly, clearly business district employees, talking on their cell phones or at least checking their devices for whatever reasons; a handful were out for leisurely strolls alone or with friends; there were the token homeless asking for change; and another bunch that I could not figure out beyond humans being and humans doing.

As I experienced my own anxiety and chose to look, really look, at those passing by me (some returned the acknowledgement and many didn't), I became so curious about the stories behind the faces. Who on this street was returning my smile despite an acute experience of their own pain and difficulties? How many were truly happy and peaceful despite the chaos that can be life? Who else observed the alley I just passed full of cherry blossoms against the communist-style grey building and who was too caught up? Who were these people, that I may never see again, that shared these moments with me?

It was a beautiful experience and lead to the feelings of connectivity I mentioned above.

There is a quote that says something along the lines of, “I wonder how many people I have looked at but never really seen.” I attempt to cross that line frequently; to look at people and see them. As I did just that on this day, my anxiety dissipated. I stopped noticing just me and my intense feelings and let myself connect on some level with these strangers who were all walking down the same streets as me. I kind of felt like an army was with me in these unfamiliar faces. I didn't need to talk or explain, I just had to smile at them and look in their eyes and let them see me too.

Compare this experience of stress and anxiety to my experience of the world two years ago! Little brought relief from the agonizing loneliness my eating disorder inflicted on me. Even when I looked at others, it was out from a kind of glass cage. I wanted to reach out but my hands only touched the cold glass when extended. I wanted to be held and saved and to feel love so badly but this barrier kept whatever warmth that was extended to me at a distance. I could see people trying to help but felt just that little bit unreachable - hand to hand with the glass always between.

Add stale negative air that I was breathing and rebreathing in my glass bubble, the image is pretty clear and I was suffocating.

I could never have imagined that just 2 years later, I could have experiences as I do now and finally feel like a part of the world as a whole. I am not caged and no longer do I need the walls I put up before.

I wouldn't change my rock bottom experience because it was what brought my world-wide team together. We realized in our little northern town that I wasn't going to last much longer and we needed to act.

Against what felt like insurmountable resistance in myself, I got from that time which had me taking bed baths; relieving myself in full view on a commode; and enough benzodiazapines, anti-psychotics, and anti-depressants to kill a horse; to where and with whom I needed to be. For those few months I take little credit. I was challenging in my despair. I tried – or at least my eating disorder tried – to sabotage the help that was coming, on numerous occasions. I tried to convince everyone that I wasn't sick or deserving enough of this extreme measure.

The last two years held many long months of pain and fear. I look back and see how my mind resisted even when I had on my bravest face. I didn't know that I was retraining my brain sometimes just by being surrounded by the care of the team in Portugal. I went from belief back to hopelessness and frustration frequently. I asked them to give up on me too when they finally realized that I was going to be the one person that they could keep around for as long as they wanted and would never get better; not to string me along saying that I could change when they knew that I never would. I was assured that they would not torture me like that and that it was a known fact that I would recover, walk through and away from that hell once and for all by following their direction.

Well, here I am. Is life perfect? Of course not!! But it sure is beautiful and I truly feel like a part of it. Even in my scarier moments as I face many experiences that are unfamiliar or familiar with traumatic memories, I know that I am loved no matter what and having conquered the demons that nearly took my life, I know I can face all the challenges I have now and not be defeated. Being really alive was all I ever wanted and I have it now.

It feels so satisfying to be able to pluralize “years” now as it pertains to this part of my life. I imagine that this time next year, I will not even be counting or noticing anniversaries, and that also feels fantastic.

Perhaps it is warranted to put a face to the words of today (though most of my readers know me I think)...fully alive and fully happy.

And with that, I'll reiterate a phrase that I have posted before:
 So worth all of it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Another "now and then" kind of post

I've taken the last week to really reflect on where I'm at. My sense of wonder at the world and gratitude towards life has only increased through this focused time. Tonight I decided to poke into my past again and see where I was at just months before I left for Portugal. On this day, 2011, I was in hospital according to a blog I kept that I barely remember writing. I've chosen to do a bit of a comparison today and include a couple of excerpts from that time followed by a brief expression of my perspective now.

March, 2011 (complete with no caps):

i'm having a great day. not food wise but aside from that it's really just a good day. i don't know if i can even narrow down what the best thing is...maybe the weather. it's clement (not sunny tho), no wind, moderate temperature. I think the best thing about today is just today. i realized on my walk that i can have a good day separate from food. if we look at food and those behaviors well, i'm a walking death wish, but in many other aspects i am having a fantastic day.

(within the same week)

do i really want to live my life like this?

this seems to be a recurring question. and the answer is no. i'm considering a longer stay [in hospital] again to actually try and work on things. it's only temporary when right now i'm living what could be the rest of my life and is highly undesireable.

i'm so conflicted. i want help. i want to change. i am willing to give it a chance. i just can't do it alone.

i feel like a drama queen when i say i think i have two options here, life or death. i think this disease is killing me.

How frightening and sad to look back at that girl and her thoughts and confusion!! How abstract and impossible my current life would have seemed to her! On the other hand – I am overwhelmed with gratitude for making it through that time and being in this chair, in this moment, in this body, with this experience, that I am now. From today:

How wonderful is life? I find it so amazing. Some people have suggested that because really living is new to me that the “shine” will wear off. I don't think so and I am so sorry this shine is gone for others. Everyday holds so much beauty, endless things to wonder at, and such bountiful goodness!

It has taken much effort and a solid chunk of time to be able to see life for all that it is. These days, that is one thing that I am so thankful for – time. Time to have gone through the process I did and time now to put theory into practice. Not so long ago, when I first came back to Canada, I wanted to jump back into everything especially work. I thought, “It has been long enough, you are strong enough now. You need to give back to society.” I pushed forward and pulled back quickly as my emotional mind wasn't ready for that step. Could I have been successful had I returned to work as soon as I was planning? Probably, yes. I know, however, that it would have been significantly more challenging than it needs to be.

I needed this time.

Time to keep growing and practising. Time to (re)establish myself as the woman I am and want to be. Most recently, time to reflect on the last 3+ months at home – what is working, what isn't and how I can keep moving forward from here.

What a blessing to have the opportunity to do this in my home environment! So much theory from treatment and wisdom extended to me over the last 2 years is now making sense! I look back at how I have moved forward and consider what my focus needs to be now. Among a great assortment of things I am moving towards are: creating further balance and as always, cultivating patience.

As I focus on these things in the context of sustaining my recovery, I am able to see, now, how all this theory applies to “real life”. Work, romantic relationships, friendships, etc. By nurturing who I am as a whole person and allowing that without fear or judgement, I get stronger each day and more solid in all of this living business; as well as more confident in my ability to look into the future and predict that I am going to truly be okay.

In past posts, I mentioned that this doesn't always feel great. It still doesn't in some moments – there are difficult conversations to have or actions to take, occasional hurt feelings, intense missing of people, and anxiety sometimes – however, there is a consistent current of the peace I wish to experience further. In considering the bigger picture (one that I can truly see now!), the temporary discomfort is one part of a path toward so many wonderful things that I can wait it out. I can walk through it optimistically (with support!), and continue to love myself and those around me despite fleeting feelings.

There are eCards all over that state: Expect miracles. To the forlorn person feeling like they are standing at death's door mentally or otherwise and unsure why to look forward and what there is: there is more than could ever be described or explained. As I said nearly a year ago, describing my life now, to me, then, would be like trying to describe the sky to a child who had never left a cave.

So yes, expect miracles and never, ever stop hoping even when you cannot know what you are hoping for!

There is always more to say but for today, that is all. Hang in there, lovelies.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

People pleasing? Not really.

My mom is arriving today and I am so looking forward to spending the day with her.  This morning, as I was getting dressed, I realized what a simple example I could use of how things have changed for me regarding the concept of "people pleasing".

This is often a classic trait in people with eating disorders (and "nice" people in the general population possibly resulting in anxiety disorders at some point, not always.  This blog is specific to my eating disorder recovery and the mindset that goes with it and part of my manifestation of symptoms had a lot to do with this characteristic); we want everyone to be okay even at the expense of ourselves.  I continue to want that but am finding a balance that keeps me in the equation too.

So!  My example!  I generally choose my clothes for the following day at night just because I don't want to be bothered with that decision in the morning.  Last night was no different.  This morning, I got up, showered, dressed and glanced in the mirror and would probably like to see you in something a little more girly.  I smiled because this thought came with no distress.  I ran through my options in my head and changed my clothes.  

In years gone by, since I was a little girl, I wore whatever my mom thought looked good on me even if I hated it.  I remember many outfits where I looked in the mirror and thought, "This is so dorky" or more often, "This makes me look chubby" (at as young as 7 that I can remember clearly).  Despite those thoughts, I would see my mom smiling proudly at how "cute" or "pretty" I looked or how lovely the fabric was, and regardless of how I felt about the clothes, I would choose what had lit her face up the most.  Sure, I would grumble frequently when I put on these outfits but frequently, I would walk out of my room, ready for school, and mom would tell me how lovely I looked.  I wanted so badly to be a daughter that she was proud of that if it meant wearing something I felt less than confident in, that was okay.  It seemed to make her happy.

I went through phases over the years - sometimes wearing things just to get a reaction from her that was less than positive.  Other times if mom said she liked to see me in pink, I would seek out a pink shirt or dress even if I really wanted a grey one.  

To clarify, there was never any negative intent behind her words.  I know now that she probably would have preferred if I had chosen what I liked best but I didn't ever voice my thoughts and feelings to her about this.

Today, the difference was subtle but existed.  I considered what my mom might think of my outfit and I'm sure she would have liked it, but, I knew I had something slightly more girly that would really make her smile to see me in.  I like both outfits, I bought them on my own volition!  What is the harm in choosing the one that I hadn't planned on wearing when I know it will bring a smile to her face?  There isn't any!

It's this equal worth - mine and her's - that finally exists that allows me to bend myself ever so slightly to enhance another person's experience.  Can I change something and have the situation still work well for me and possibly better for someone else?  How much am I willing to "bend"?

Today's situation is so simple but illustrates a way of being and thinking that is so drastically different than before.  I still want people to be okay, happy, and comfortable as much as possible, that is just me.  I do not identify as a "people pleaser" in a way that negatively impacts me anymore (any friend can attest to that, I'm sure).  If my mom would prefer to see me in long skirts and blouses, I would not likely accommodate that because as superficial as clothing is, it is how I present visually to the world and is a small aspect of my Self that is less often compromised these days.  

This way of thinking applies much more broadly and there are likely many more examples that I could use and might one day.  The point is:  I will not shrink and change and morph myself to extents that leave me out.  I also know that those that have my best interests in mind, would not want me to change for them - my mom would be happy to see me in sweats and a hoody today if that's what I felt like wearing - she doesn't actually care!  

What's most fun for me is that people might not ever know of the small things that were considered, in my world, for them but that's just part of honouring myself too.  I enjoy the thought and the result - like today, knowing my mom will smile and have a little comment and see me being me merely in a different outfit than I had chosen last night.

When it is done having equal value as everyone else in my life, I am not dragged down and stressed, I am built up and energized.

So, for you mom, this is as much girlishness I could muster and I know you're going to think it's "cute".  Love you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Great Adventure

So much to say, so many topics to write about, so much learning and growth continuing to occur!

Today I thought about how wonderful the experience of simple daily life is - how great the little things are and how much each step I take, each challenge I meet and surpass is a gift. 

Sure, I'm proud of myself but that matters less and less these days.  Each moment contains such wealth - my interactions, my thoughts, my activities, are leading to a past I can look back on fondly.

In the past month or so, I focused on doing something each day, even one thing, that I could not have done or appreciated fully when I was sick.  The options for this are plentiful and range from squash games, to venturing to busy public places that would have provoked panic attacks previously; from having a good conversation to enjoying quiet company of just me or that of others without my mind trekking off to some negative place.  Peace is still so new and pleasant that I notice it and I hope that I do not lose that despite how far I move from that old negative world.

Tonight, as I wrap up a long day with a few new challenges, I thought back to last February....

It was on this day, 2012, that I left my treatment environment to meet my sister in Lisbon for my first trip back to Canada.  I could not have known that "great adventure" was just a tiny, baby taste of what real life could contain.

Ah, yes, what an adventure.  Life is so good when we let it be.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Eating Disorder Awareness Week, 2013

I have been unusually quiet this Eating Disorder Awareness Week. In fact, I was unaware this was the week until Wednesday!! Why? Because this year I am busy living a life largely separate from an eating disorder. In years past, I was living the hell that we as a collective group of sufferers, families, and professionals were trying to bring awareness about. This year, finally, I have tasted freedom. No, my journey is not over. I work each day, still, to choose life and strengthen my real self.

Today it dawned on me to share a response to the note of thanks I extended last year, mid way through my brilliantly supported journey to wellness and recovery; to offer perspective to sufferers who are aware of how painful the journey is and who ask “why?” they are still trying to stay alive and if anyone on the outside can grasp just how painful it is; who feel lonely despite being surrounded by people. When I received this, I cried. Often the degree of love that people hold for me blows me out of the water - still.

I want to keep the writer anonymous but for friends and families who are walking the road next to a loved one, sometimes, we can't hear you; the negative thoughts and feelings are so strong that your words and actions are twisted against us; sometimes I thought people on the outside were the crazy ones for continuing to care. Now, I believe how much you love me and I look back and thank you all for being reasons for me to hold on and for being the people that held on for me.

We had begun to see the real light when this was written, had started to understand that there was an end to mine and that of those around me struggle and pain.

So with that, here is this!
Thank you, Julia, for reaching into the void for a hand to hold when all you could see was evil and darkness.
Thank you for listening to voices of hope when you didn't feel any.
Thank you for having a sense of humor, even on days when you didn't have the energy to enjoy the laugh yourself.
Thank you for spreading as much love as you could muster even when all we wanted was that you could begin to love yourself a little hair as much as we loved you.
Thank you for being nicer to yourself [when I was around].
Thank you for taking yourself to ER all (each and every one of) the times you did...and thank you for everything else you did to stay alive, even though it was so hard.
Thank you for letting me hug you when I had nothing to say.
Thank you for telling me what you found helpful and not-so-helpful.
Thank you for staying in hospital for the weeks you needed before going to Portugal.
And more than anything, thank you for taking your courageous journey that will restore us to each other - sharing love, hope, life, dreams and beauty and bearing witness to each others' journeys of changing the world by spreading peace and joy.
I have missed you...and I can't wait for your struggle to be over and you to taste total freedom! Life is just beginning for you, and I am so grateful that chances are overwhelmingly in our favour - we will be a part of each others' lives for a long time yet. Thanks to you."
So to this beautiful soul who is so close to me in my days still, I can finally say "you're welcome".
To life!! And the everlasting possibility for recovery, renewal, and brilliant experience of love and joy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Day in "The Simple Life"

*click click click* *skid*
*click click click* *pause*

I slowly enter consciousness.

*click click click*

What is that? Daisy...surely it's too early for her to be up? I roll over to check the time, my face gets too close to the bedside and I am greeted with a big retriever lick from Missy. She stomps her feet back and forth, her tail thumps against the floor, all as if to say, “Oh goodie, you're awake!” 7:01am. I have to smile because as much as I would prefer to be back in my dream, these are pretty sweet things to wake up to. Something scratches my, scratch isn't quite the word. Ah, a cat lick. Carlie has woken up too – perhaps I woke her with my turn. 

This is it, my day has begun.

I swing my legs off the bed and resist rubbing my eyes. Wood stove heat, though cosy, has me going through heaps of eye drops in the mornings. I mumble greetings to the beings that are pacing with excitement and perhaps a bit of urgency to get outside,

Good morning, dogs. Good morning, Carlie.”

It has become routine that I come last in the morning. I shuffle to the front door and let the dogs out. Every time it seems like Christmas morning for them to go out to relieve themselves and play in the snow. I crank open the damper on the wood stove to take the chill off the house. Through the kitchen, the open concept is perfect for sleepy morning routines, I click the “on” button of the coffee machine and head back down the hallway. I switch on the light in the boys' room, aka. The Science Room, aka. Butters the bunny's bedroom. 

 Glancing around, Juno, one of the other cats it there too. He blinks at me with slight accusation for interrupting his morning slumber.

Morning, Butters.”
Morning, Juno.”

It's my turn – or so I think. Fully awake now, I walk into the bathroom. Frankie, the 6th four-legged being, is curled up on the bath mat. “Good morning, Frankie”. He always seems thrilled to see me, it doesn't matter what time. He meows, purrs, does figure eights around my feet. 

 What a crew.

I hear Daisy the dachshund’s high pitched bark. Without time to get to the end of the hall on my way to the door, she barks again. And again. I'm coming, Daisy! She pushes through a barely open door, whole body wagging as wiener dogs tend to do. Again, I have to smile. The sight never gets old. She plops herself in front of the wood stove with attitude.

My stomach growls. I love breakfast time. Ah, but so do they. Water changed, food bowls filled. I go through my morning mental checklist, yes, now it is my turn. I go about fixing my own breakfast, pour my freshly brewed coffee, sit down, and open my lap top.

Missy. It's less of a “ruff” and more of an “a-roof!” (complete with exclamation mark).

Up again to let her in. She pushes by with far more force than Daisy simply due to size. Tail wagging, she scatters snow all over with each eager step to her breakfast bowl.

Now it is my turn!

Mew. Meow. *nails on glass* I cringe (it's worse than a chalkboard) and turn around. There's the aloof Juno, always the first of the cats to venture outside in the morning. I get up and let him out. The next 40 minutes that I always think are “mine” are punctuated with the cats coming in and out, seems they can't make up their mind about where they'd like to be.

Emails caught up on. Facebook browsed. I take the last sip of my second cup of coffee and glance at the clock. Just after 8am, the barn animals will be waiting.

I pull my jeans on over my pyjama bottoms, grab my sweater and a toque. Missy knows what's happening and she's rather excited about it - barn time! Racing up and down the hallway, wagging her tail so strongly it could be used as a weapon – let's go! I yank on my Bogs, my barn gloves, and gather the hose that sits in the house entrance to prevent freezing overnight – oh the things I have never had to think about before!

Missy is already out the door and rolling in the snow again. The barn isn't far away though hauling a long hose through 6” of fresh powder makes it seem farther. I attach it to the water supply when I get there and pull open the big door.

I'm greeted by loud bleets.

Good morning, goats!”
Good morning, chickens!”
Good morning, Brenda.”


One of the two roosters is walking around as if he was the first to wake on any given day. I smile.

Brenda the cow stands up. I count, 1, 2, 3, 4 chickens. Good. Peak in on the boy goats – 2. All is well.

Over to the mama goats and kids, fresh water in the morning to them seems as exciting as a glass of wine in the evening to me. Some of the kids are still sleeping. I feel myself soften inside as I see pairs and triplets curled and huddled together, blinking sleepily. Their mothers come to the fence and greet me with more bleets. It's like they are telling me about their night. What stories!! One night we had an earthquake and one mama goat didn't stop talking about it for over 24 hours. She has settled now.

Water running, kids now up and playing on the jungle gym of houses in their pen.

As that runs, I fill Brenda's feeder with hay. She's eating for two – pregnant and due in April.

While she munches, I move the hose to her water “bowl”. It's got to hold 30L and needs filling each morning!

Breakfast for the goats now. I climb the stack of hay bails, 3 high, so that I can fill their feeder from the top. Breaking open hay bails has become second nature.  As I drop flakes in the feeder, nearly all of the 18 goats trot over, pushing each other out of the way with their horns.

Time to muck out Brenda's stall. I think that calf in utero is producing its own share of manure already! Nearly a month into this, I'm still not so comfortable being in the stall with a giant cow. She's never done anything but lick me but that doesn't change the fact that she is a very powerful animal.

When her area is as clean as I am able to make it, I toss in a big flake of hay for her to munch on when she's done with her feeder – she needs about a bail per day just for herself and growing calf.

Once again, I go through my mental checklist of morning barn activities. Done for now. I have a quick chat and pat with Meadow, one of the most darling little goats. She is as old as the mother goats but is dwarfed in some way and absolutely adorable.

Back into the house. Daisy, Carlie, and Frankie have taken up residence in front of the wood stove. Juno is no where to be seen. My responsibilities to my 2 and 4 legged friends are complete and I can carry on with what I need to get done for me. It is a great feeling to know that I have all of them depending on me. Despite how I feel, I need to get up, get dressed, and get my jobs done. It is not without lovely reward. They seem to have taken to me, I am never really alone out here, and I smile a lot because of them.

My farm day has not ended, but this post has. The little ones have found comfy places for their siestas and I can do what I need to do for me for a few hours.