Sunday, 28 July 2013

Stop the crazy talk!

Since I decided that dieting regimes were unhelpful for my mental state, and just decided to aim for 'health at any size', eating when I am hungry, enjoying food and just being realistic about my body shape, for the most part I have been reasonably content in that department (notwithstanding the occasional hormonal negative thoughts). I decided not to weigh myself anymore or measure myself (unless I needed measurements to order clothes or shoes online), and to only be concerned if my current size of clothes no longer fits. I have no idea what my weight is at the moment. Believe me, this is pretty damn liberating after years of agonising over 500g fluctuations.

However, occasionally a rogue thought creeps in and takes hold. Yesterday I was feeling pretty good about myself. I'd been feeling a bit grey, so I dressed comfortably but stylishly, put makeup on, and spent the afternoon with lovely girls shooting video. And I love this photo of us - we all look so happy and appealing! (Elsie said she kind of wanted to post it on Facebook and say "And we're all eligible!!!")

Then today I started editing the footage; towards the end I get on camera and join in the chat. From that point on, I couldn't focus on anyone else. "I had no idea my hands looked like that...they just stick out of my sleeves like blobs!" "Oh jawline is disappearing into my neck!" "Okay so I knew my chest was large, but far out, I really do look like the prow of a ship!" etc, etc, etc. Which, by the time I got into the shower this morning, had fully descended into, "it's no wonder you can't have a boyfriend...who would want to be with you when you're so fleshy? Clearly you only deserve to be loved if you are thin."

Thankfully, this thought was immediately followed by, "WHAT THE HECK?! Where did that come from?!!!"

So I worked on scaling back that crazy talk, and when I got back to my computer, I saw a timely tweet from George quoting an article from Psychology Today: "You are almost certainly hotter than you think." The article says, 
A person who finds you likeable will probably never notice your imperfections—besides, no one is as interested in your bald head or fleshy thighs as you are. Demarais and White tell of a client who suffered from the "spotlight illusion"—he imagined that people were homing in on his crooked teeth, which were his least favorite feature. Realizing that other people didn't really care about his teeth was freeing. "He experimented with smiling broadly when he met new people," they write. "When no one reacted in horror, and in fact responded positively, he began to feel at ease with his smile. When he seemed more comfortable in his own skin, he became more appealing to others."
Most of us have had the mysterious experience of watching a loved one become increasingly beautiful with time, as the relationship grows deeper. Imagine that generous gaze is upon you all the time, and you'll soon see a better reflection in others' eyes. You may not be able to turn off your inner hot-or-not meter, but you can spend less time fretting in the mirror and more time engaging with the world.
Thanks George! You didn't know when you posted it, but that was just what I needed to read.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Don't believe what you see

Excellent post by Indy Ink, the woman behind my favourite Pinterest board, Don't compare yourself to celebrities. It is true what she says about it being hard to take flattering photos of people, and it occurring to you that even once you have an excellent camera, there is a lot more to the images we see all around us than just pressing the shutter release.

I especially like her conclusion:
Here is the truth: If you simply refuse to believe everything advertising claims is wrong with you — and remember, the people behind the campaigns have studied you, but never met you — you will have more money, more peace, and more confidence in every single area of life, all of which will makes you a sexy beast of very attractive proportions. (Not that you owe beauty to anyone. You don’t.)
Another enjoyable insight into what it takes to be in a magazine photoshoot is in Tina Fey's Bossypants, in a chapter titled Amazing, gorgeous, not like that. I can't decide which bit to quote because the whole thing is funny...just buy the book. Though she doesn't mind Photoshop so much:
Photoshop is just like makeup. When it's done well it looks great, and when it's overdone you look like a crazy asshole. Unfortunately, most people don't do it well. I find, the fancier the fashion magazine is, the worse the Photoshop. It's as if they are already so disgusted that a human has to be in the clothes, they can't stop erasing human features.

Definitions: ponte

It took a while, but I finally got curious/sick enough of seeing 'ponte' everywhere in shops to look up what it actually is. I mean, I knew it was a stretchy fabric, but why call it 'ponte' specifically?

Turns out ponte is actually short for 'ponte di Roma', which means 'Roman bridge':
A fabric made in a double knit construction, usually produced in one color rather than color patterns. This plain fabric has an elastic quality with a slight horizontal line. The fabric looks the same on both sides.
Weft knitted, interlock based, double jersey structure. Means 'roman bridge' which is suggested by the arrangement of loops. The fabric looks the same on both sides.
I guess fashion terminology always tries to find a shorthand for things, but Ponte di Roma sounds much nicer than just ponte. When 'ponte pants' started turning up a couple of years ago I thought they sounded like a feminine hygiene product.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


I really loved listening to Mindy Kaling's book, Is everyone hanging out without me (and other concerns). It was light and frothy and very funny, but with some great insights and moments of poignancy too. I especially liked this part when she was talking about peoples' marriages she admired, specifically her parents'. She likes the fact that they are pals - "note: they are pals, not best friends." She also mentions Amy Poehler and Will Arnett's marriage as one she admires, which is a little sad as they have since separated. But anyway.

I like Kaling's take on it all:
I guess I think happiness can come in a bunch of forms and maybe a marriage with tons of work makes people feel happy. But a part of me still thinks, is it really so hard to make it work? What happened to being pals? I'm not complaining about romance being dead; I've just described a happy marriage as based on talking about plants and a cancelled Ray Romano show and drinking milkshakes. Not exactly rose petals and gazing into each others' eyes at the top of the Empire State Building or whatever. I'm pretty sure my parents have gazed into each others' eyes maybe once, and that was so my mom could put some eyedrops into my dad's eyes. And I'm not saying that marriage should always be easy, but we seem to get so gloomily worked up about it these days. 
In Shakespearean comedies, the wedding is the end and there isn't much indication of what happily ever after will look like day to day. In real life, shouldn't a wedding be an awesome party you throw with your great pal in the presence of a bunch of your other friends? A great day, for sure, but not the beginning and certainly not the end of your friendship with the person you can't wait to talk about gardening with for the next 40 years. Maybe the point is that any marriage is work, but you may as well pick work that you like.
Is everyone hanging out without me (and other concerns), Mindy Kaling, Chapter 50 (audiobook)

Does it mean you're getting older if you think that a life of hanging out with your pal sounds preferable to torrid romance? Actually no, I don't think so...I don't think I've ever wanted torrid romance. At least not long-term. Sure, romantic gestures are wonderful and make you feel special and all that. But I'd much rather have 40 years of loving companionship with a sprinkling of romance than a roller coaster of passion but not much comfort. Who has the energy for that? Wouldn't you rather have someone who would look after you when you're feeling crappy, than someone who you had to "keep the mystery alive" for?

I know it's completely unoriginal, but I reckon just hanging out with Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler would be so great. I wonder what it says about me that I don't fantasise about getting together with male celebrities, I imagine how great it would be to be BFFs with the chicks. Hmm.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Rocket surgery

Stuffing envelopes at work means I can watch interesting things while I do it. And this is very interesting! There is some amazing stuff in this short TED talk by Andres Lozano (chair of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto) showing the results of deep brain stimulation. The physical results in a patient with Parkinson's and a boy with dystonia are just astonishing (the results in patients with Alzheimer's and depression are amazing too, they're just not as easy to see, other than in brain scans).

My depression is nowhere near bad enough to need surgical intervention, but it fascinates me to learn more about how the brain works.

I'm also, coincidentally, reading Ruby Wax's book, Sane New World. It's a great read, with Wax's trademark humour and her own experiences with depression thrown in, so it's not a completely dry book about brains. She talks a bit about neuroplasticity, which is something that has fascinated me since I started seeing my current counsellor, because she talks about it a lot. That's the idea that the brain isn't a static organ, but changes throughout life depending on the pathways you create and reinforce (needless to say that is a wildly simplified definition!). I might write more about what the book has to say when I've finished reading it; I'm up to the topic of mindfulness and how that can help with depression.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

living and active word

I read Stephen Fry's sad but honest description of his depression just now. His feelings of loneliness in the midst of a crowd of wonderful people are probably familiar to many of you who struggle with depression. I know exactly what he means when he says that even though he feels lonely, "[t]he strange thing is, if you see me in the street and engage in conversation I will probably freeze into polite fear and smile inanely until I can get away to be on my lonely ownsome." I've been feeling like that a lot lately, knowing it's better for me to be around people but just wanting to hide in my room.

Then I opened my email and very next thing I read was my daily WordLive email, which I'd been ignoring all morning. The first line read:

'He sets the lonely in families' (Psalm 68:6) Thank God for your church family.

Well that was definitely a word to point me to the truth! I love it when that happens.

It doesn't mean that the feelings of loneliness, sadness and anxiety that come with depression are absent in that kind of community (far from it!), and it doesn't mean that church families are perfect, because they certainly aren't. But it does mean that God did not intend for us to be alone (even if we're severely introverted or depressed). He has created communities of people who love him, and as an outworking of that, love each other.

It would probably irritate Stephen Fry to think that something he wrote drew me closer to God. Maybe it wouldn't. I don't know.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Winter blankness

Our backyard in winter

I'm sick of feeling flat, tired and just blank. Lately I've been catching sight of my face in the mirror and thinking, "I look so old." I think it's actually more that I look blank, and there's no spark in my eyes. I make a huge effort to connect and be present when I'm with people, and at the moment it wipes me out so much. When it's just me and my reflection, there are no smiles. It'll pass I know. It's just a bit startling to see this grey person looking back at me.

It's such a gorgeous day today...was supposed to go to a wedding but just couldn't manage. I suspected it would make me feel more down, and I don't think anyone in the midst of happily getting married wants to see someone sad or know that their day was making someone feel bad. So I didn't go.

Instead I went outside and got some sun and swept up leaves and did laundry. Simple things but it's always good to be outside and good to feel like I achieved something with the morning. 

And now I'm exhausted. I hate that I just don't have more in the tank. But I guess that's the good thing about weekends and about knowing how to care for yourself, even just a bit. You can just lie on the couch in the sun, blogging on your ipad, and that is a perfectly valid thing to do.