Friday, January 31, 2014

Being fit

I'm all for people getting healthy and being in shape. I think exercise and eating right are important to living a full and vibrant life. However, people are all built differently. Some have a tiny bone structure, while others are naturally curvy. Some are short, others are tall. I could go on, but you get the gist. All these different people are beautiful and unique. However, our culture emphasizes the "need" to look a certain way and fit a certain ideal. No one will ever be satisfied with his or her appearance according to the world. It honestly breaks my heart. 

Below is a letter I read on the huffingtonpost.com. It talks about the pressures on people (specifically young women) to be as skinny as possible. (Some skinny women struggle because they don't have the curves of a "real woman", but that's a different topic for a different day). Read the article below and think about how you can help shift people's perspective of beauty. God did not create us as clones. We all have cool, intricate personalities, body types, facial features, and passions that make us who we are. God loves you DEEPLY and cares for you more than you can imagine. Find your satisfaction and identity in Him.

Dear Nordstroms,

I posted a picture of me at 18 on Facebook the other day. It was from a time in my life that I didn't love how I looked, but the picture was kind of funny with my huge '80s hair so I thought it was worth posting for a few laughs.

But only one person (my husband, the person closest to me) asked me what was up with my puffy cheeks in that picture. He could see from the rest of my body in the picture that I wasn't overweight -- so why were my cheeks so puffy?

He pointed out exactly why I hate all pictures of me for a period of four years, and almost 30 years later I couldn't just tell him why I had puffy cheeks. I think I brushed off his question with an explanation of "leftover baby fat" and growing out of them eventually.

But my puffy cheeks were a symptom of my bulimia. And my bulimia started after suffering from anorexia and starving myself for months. Once I started to finally eat again -- I purged for years.

And while I consider myself "better" in that I don't starve myself or purge my food -- I will never feel thin enough. Ever. I still worry about everything I put in my mouth, how my clothing fits, and will catch glimpses of myself in every mirror looking for faults.

*****

My 10-year-old threw a fit last year when I made her wear snow pants to an outdoor event. It was well below zero and there was no way we were going out without being bundled up from head to toe. "But Mom, my friends will be there and my snow pants make my butt look big."

Your butt look big, Eloise? For one, that is impossible... and for two, everyone will be wearing snow pants... and for three, trust me, no one looks at snow pant butts.

My daughter is five feet tall and is lucky to weigh 60 pounds soaking wet and barely registers as having a BMI. She could wear 10 pairs of snow pants without the worry of her butt looking big. But that fact doesn't really matter, does it.

She's a healthy eater, gets plenty of exercise as a dancer, and even though she has a mother who will probably never be totally past her eating disorder (what an addict is), we still never talk about or show unhealthy habits around our kids, and we live in a home with healthy food and people who exercise regularly. We don't own a scale.

And she has the same body I had at 10 and 11 -- tall, seemingly impossibly thin, and with legs that go on for miles. I'm not worried about her -- she's a healthy girl -- but to hear her worry about looking fat...

I sank. My heart broke for her into a million tiny pieces.

And I want to do everything to make sure my three daughters do not become one of the 10 million Americans with eating disorders.

I see the stick thin models on the runway, the supermodels on the cover of magazines (many photoshopped), ads everywhere on how to have a flat stomach and the importance of a thigh gap, and a diet ad on TV during almost every show. Daily I feel like I'm trying to push away the negative media images and reinforce to my daughters what is really important -- health and the importance of loving themselves. As I whisper to myself -- don't be like your mother, don't be like your mother.

*****

At this point you must be wondering why I'm writing this very personal letter to you, Nordstrom. Well, it's because I was shopping with my daughters at your store (one of my favorite places to shop) on Friday and this pillow prominently displayed in your store stopped me in my tracks.

2014-01-27-skinnysleep.jpg

Actually, it stopped my daughter in her tracks... "People can get skinny by sleeping, Mom? I had no idea."

No hon, you can't get skinny when you sleep. You have good sleep because it makes you healthy and strong. That pillow was meant to be kind of a joke I think -- and a horrible one at that. Oh Nordstrom -- we have skinny drinks and skinny food and skinny pills and see skinny ads and read skinny articles... and now, now you have to make our daughters think that there's skinny sleep? We're embroidering skinny dreams on our pillows now just like the ones that we can't etch out of our hearts?

Please don't send a message like this. It's not OK. It's not a message we need. It's not a message that they need.

Did you know that around 40 percent of American girls ages 9 and 10 report dieting to lose weight?

Let's do better by our daughters and our sons and start making strides on focusing on healthy messages and giving them more positive images of what a real woman or man looks like. And should look like. I know we have a long way to go and daily we are bombarded with negative influences... so some might say, "What's the big deal about a pillow with a cute little saying?" And I'm saying -- taking a pillow off the shelves is one little step in the direction where millions of steps still need to be taken if we are ever going to stop this cycle.

Having an eating disorder is like being a drug addict; this illness is always near the surface, just waiting for the right trigger... and while one can survive without drugs or alcohol, a person with an eating disorder is faced with their biggest fear -- food -- every single day. So whether you want to believe it or not -- even seeing the words "skinny sleep" on a pillow can trigger us into thinking something is really possible. Just like my daughter asked me such an innocent question about it on Friday in your store.

Don't make her even have to ask those questions. Don't make her think that skinny is "in" or that skinny is even important.

Don't be responsible for adding to this devastating epidemic.

Thank you for listening,

Tracy Morrison

Woman, Wife, Mom of Three, Eating Disorder Survivor

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4671243?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009



Thursday, January 30, 2014

65 roses

Almost every CF patient has heard CF referred to as "65 roses" at one point in their lives. But how did the disease get such a beautiful sounding nickname? After all, the rose is the universal symbol of love. When you think of receiving a bouquet of 65 roses, you may even get a little giddy thinking about the person who cares for you enough to go out and buy that many of the flower of love. CF is obviously not a very kind disease to the body or to the family members and friends who know the CFer well; you wouldn't naturally associate CF with roses. However, here we are--many children and adults easily recognize cystic fibrosis and 65 roses as both referring to CF. The story of 65 roses touches hearts around the world. Below is the story of how CF got its nickname. As you read it, place yourself in Mary's shoes. In 1965 when this story occurred, the prognosis for a CF patient was not very good--most did not live to adulthood. The CF gene wasn't even found at this point! Knowing this, what emotions would be going through your head? How would you react to your child? How would you continue to have hope for the future? 

Enjoy the story of 65 roses.

"65 Roses Story"
Mary G. Weiss became a volunteer for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in 1965 after learning that her three little boys had CF. Her duty was to call every civic club, social and service organization seeking financial support for CF research. Mary's 4-year-old son, Richard, listened closely to his mother as she made each call. After several calls, Richard came into the room and told his Mom, "I know what you are working for." Mary was dumbstruck because Richard did not know what she was doing, nor did he know that he had cystic fibrosis. With some trepidation, Mary asked, "What am I working for, Richard?" He answered, "You are working for 65 Roses." Mary was speechless. He could not see the tears running down Mary's cheeks as she stammered, "Yes Richard, I'm working for 65 Roses."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wind and Humility

What a beautiful week it's been! The sun has been shining, the temperature had been perfect, and there's a certain feeling of renewed life in the air. Of course, the cold will come back for a little while soon. It is January, after all. However, right now, I'm loving spending time outside with my God, enjoying His beautiful creation. I think one of my favorite things about this time of year is the feeling of the wind blowing around me. It reminds me of my faith. I can feel the wind and see its effects, but I can't actually see the wind. Similarly, I can't physically see God with my eyes, yet I can feel His love through reading the words of Scripture, quiet times in nature, times of honesty and vulnerability in prayer, hugs and encouragement from friends and family, and deep inner peace. I see God move and see how He changes lives. The evidence of God is everywhere as is the evidence of the wind.

When I'm struggling with doubts or questions, I love going outside and praying among God's creation. Gusts of wind remind me of His faithfulness. It's almost as if God is wrapping me up with the wind in a huge bear hug, reminding me that He is present, even when I have no idea what is going on in my life. It's as if He's saying, " Trust me, Emily. I won't let you go. Trust me."

It's also very humbling to sit still and just be outside. Psalm 8:3-4 says, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" It's so easy to get lost in ourselves and ignore God when we go about our busy lives without taking time to stop and recognize His presence. However, when you're outside, you realize how small and insignificant you really are. God is HUGE. The world He created is beautiful. Your life is just a tiny speck on God's timeline. Not to say that God doesn't care about your life--He cares deeply. But the world does not revolve around you. You truly begin to understand that when you spend time outdoors, being still in the quiet peace of the trees, sunshine, and brilliant sky. 

Go enjoy the outdoors sometime this week, if you can. Get lost in the creativity and majesty of God. I can promise with 90% certainty you won't regret it!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Inspiration from a Cyster

I'm currently reading a book called Breathtaking, a book about one girl's life with cystic fibrosis. The author, Amber, was born in 1986, before the CF gene was even discovered. She was diagnosed with CF shortly after birth. Amber tried her best to live a normal life and even went to a semester of college, but by age 19, her pulmonary lung function was down to 19%, and she was on oxygen 24/7. She was listed for a double lung transplant, even though she tried very hard to stay as healthy as possible. The book is a collection of reflections from her friends and family about the struggles of life during and after the transplant, as well as many personal emails Amber sent to friends and family. I'm only partway through the book, but so far, I don't want to put it down. Amber has a contagious joy and loves the Lord with her whole heart. Even as she was preparing to possibly die, Amber's faith was never shaken (She's still alive today due to the miracle of transplant, but before the surgery and while she was on the operating table, the future was uncertain). One of her friends described Amber this way: 

"I have watched Ambet face battle after battle head-on and claim victory through Jesus Christ's power in her life. To Him she gives all the glory and honor, and to Him she lives and breathes each moment of the day. She will be the first to admit she isn't perfect, that there were days she wanted to give up, that the fight seemed too long, lonely, and draining. But it was on those days that the power of Christ was displayed through her, for as it states in 2 Corinthians 12:9, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' She knew that fight, those days of loneliness. Of sickness, of struggle, was going to be worth it because she was living for seine and something higher than herself. She has lived out what it means to find joy in suffering, to find hope in desperation. To find unconditional love in the only One who can provide what some of us spend our whole lives searching for." 

What an incredible description of a young woman with an unknown future and a seemingly unfair disease! Amber could've easily given up. She could've been mad at God, and honestly, she probably experienced moments of frustration. But her trust in God proved to be her firm foundation. Her faith burst through the pain, the loneliness, and the uncertainty. And others took notice.

I love reading stories like this. Amber is an inspiration to me! This Christmas break was one of the hardest on my body. I've never felt so weak, helpless, and powerless, and I am slowly starting to physically understand the progressive nature of CF. I'm nowhere near needing a transplant, and Lord willing, there will be a cure for CF before I need one!! However, my stamina is not the way it was when I was a kid. I have to have IV medications much more frequently than I used to, and I don't stay healthy for as long after I finish a course of IVs. My CF is becoming a more noticeable part of my life, a part I can't just ignore. I pray that on my good days AND bad that I would have an attitude like Amber's. I want people to look at me, struggles and all, and see the love of Christ shining through me. I want to trust God completely and not be weighed down with worry about the future. 

"No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hands.
Til He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I stand."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New semester

The beginning of a new semester is at hand. People are still excited about their classes, professors are getting used to new dynamics, and you see smiling faces everywhere. Of course, all of this changes as the semester goes on and students get frazzled, worried, and sleep-deprived. But the inevitable semester slump hasn't hit yet--we're just getting started! 

Like most people, I enjoy starting off a new semester. I am excited about my classes (This semester, they are all either related to speech pathology or linguistics, which is fantastic since I am very interested in those things). I take (too much) joy in writing assignments and activities down in my planner. I even like getting all of my books and skimming through them to get an idea about the class. 

However, I also like finishing a class. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I see the reward of hard work and studying. I am thrilled when I feel I understand the content I was supposed to learn. I love adding knowledge to my brain's toolbox of information! 

I am looking forward to this semester, including the beginning, middle, and end of it. I cannot wait to learn new information, experience new things, and grow in my friendships. I know that God is leading me day by day, and He is fully trustworthy. I will not be one of those people dragging through when they reach the end of the semester--I will go every step with my head held high and my eyes on my Savior. 

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."--1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas break?

Three weeks ago today, I came home from my fall semester at Baylor. Little did I know what my break had in store for me. 

The day after I got home, I got diagnosed with the flu. (Yes, I got the flu shot. I have gotten the flu shot every year of my life, yet somehow I've gotten the flu 7 of the past 8 years.)

I started on two IV antibiotics and Tamiflu.

I thought I was getting better, but the fever and a horrible cough came back suddenly. 

I had an X-Ray, and my doctor decided I had acute pneumonia in the lower lobe of my left lung.

I ended up in the hospital from December 30-January 3. I was on oxygen at night, and the doctor added a third IV antibiotic.

Due to the third IV, I have been even more nauseous than I was previously and have thrown up on average once a day for the past 8 days. 

Because I've been in bed for the last 3 weeks, I am incredibly weak. So weak, in fact, that I can't walk for 30 seconds without getting winded and needing to take a break. 

...and I start back to school on Monday. Basically, I didn't get a Christmas break. However, I'm very glad that I got sick when I was home instead of when I was at school. Had this happened while I was at school, I probably would have had to drop out for the semester. 

Yet I'm still not completely myself. Like I said, I am very weak. My leg muscles seem to have disappeared. I'm sleeping much more than I usually do. It's going to take awhile for me to bounce back. Now, I'm not the most patient person in the world, and I certainly don't ask people for help regularly, but I'm going to have to step outside my comfort zone and accept help, as well as take care of myself first and foremost. I need to keep in mind that I am going to be slow moving for awhile. I can't expect myself to be able to get back to my normal exercise routine immediately. I need to be patient with my body. Easier said than done.

Well, here's to the spring semester! Hopefully I won't have a semester that's been like my Christmas break. :)