As I sit near the window in my office, I feel the first fall breeze of the year. Yes, I know it is not yet technically autumn, but it sure is on its way. September just began, and to me this signifies the blossoming of my favorite season — full of rich smells, pumpkin pies, cinnamon lattes, crunchy auburn leaves, and an array of aspen trees shimmering in color. I welcome this time of year because it signifies a new chapter…almost a slowing down and relaxing time after a hot and hectic summer.
I am a believer in the visceral and powerful impact of scents. Have you ever smelled something and were immediately taken back to a childhood memory coupled with an intense emotional feeling? That is not all in your head; there is evidence that our noses can be directly linked to our memory bank and when we smell a certain scent, we might recollect a memory or an experience that had been long forgotten. This power is ever-present for me during autumn. Autumn boasts the richest, most soothing, most affecting smells of all year round. As the earth prepares for the winter, it offers us in its cool breeze the opportunity to churn our own soil and see what comes up.
What does the arrival of fall signify to you? To me, autumn produces an abundance of gratitude. Just one year ago, I was working hard to get my business off the ground. Now, one year later, my practice is blooming and blossoming and has so much promise still to offer. I am grateful for the work I have been able to do in the field of eating disorder recovery and counseling with other issues, and cannot wait to experience what this coming year has to offer. It truly shows me that when you put your heart into something, truly dedicate your passion to your dream, that there is nothing you cannot accomplish.
I came across a quote that aptly described my experience with gratitude this past year:
“Praise the bridge that carried you over.” ~George Colman
I like this quote because it speaks to building bridges that get you to the destination that you are searching for. It also reminds us to not forget the steps and trials we have endured to get to that side. I would like to add that there will always be another bridge to cross and by acknowledging and praising the prior bridges, we can feel empowered to continue building and climbing — even if upcoming bridges are more daunting in structure.
What bridges have you built and crossed in the past year? Which part of your bridge are you standing on right now? There is no “should”s in this concept; you are at the point in your journey where you are meant to be. For me, I have crossed the bridge I built over the first year of starting my practice. Though I am on the other side of that bridge, I have more designs in my mind that will be built into bridges: workshops, groups, classes, speaking events, seminars — all things that I want to produce or take part in over the next year. I also know about myself that I can get overwhelmed easily, so I must take care not to build too many bridges at once (or else one might get burned down!).
Another aspect of the quote that speaks out to me is that perhaps, you crossed a bridge that was challenging, in some ways painful, or perhaps damaging. Can you still praise a bridge such as this? Perhaps an example of this would be healing from a loss that you experienced over the past year. Do you wish that you had to endure that loss? Probably not. But it happened, and what can you take with you about that experience — what did you learn, how did you grow, what can you praise about it? As difficult as it is to praise painful things, I think that looking at all events in a constructive way (how did they benefit/impact your identity? your life experience?) can be very empowering and healing it is own way.
So, fall arrives, and washes away the heat that has beat down on us for so many days. With it, autumn brings a new chapter — school starting again, perhaps moving away to college or starting a new job. While a certain level of anxiety is natural with change, we also are invited to create the new chapter that we desire to enter. I am looking at this autumn with gratitude for what I have built, and for what I have presently in my life. I also am using those bridges to reinforce the hard work I still yet have to do in building new bridges. This is exciting for us all!
Below is a quote that I try to say everyday as a sort of mantra. Try it out for yourself. It is full of renewal and inspiration!
“As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.” ~Terri Guillemets
We all know what it’s like to start another school year. Sometimes you’re going back to the same school, one grade older. Sometimes you’re starting a new middle or high school, or even going away to college. There’s the excitement of the unexpected — who you will meet, what you will learn, how you will change. There’s also the underlying anxiety and nervousness of “will people like me?”, and “will I be accepted?”. I remember this all too keenly.
It is fall, and students are going back to school with visions of basketball games, cheerleading practice, football heroes, and chemistry tests floating through their minds. As a recent blog post http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/school-stress-adolescent-eating-disorder-psychology-counseling/ noted, Back to School Stress can show up in many forms, and sometimes the overwhelming feeling of expectations and rules leads to the development of eating disorders.
How do you deal with it all without losing your self?? Whether it is being a part of the popular crowd, or earning A’s to get into a good college, we all have to cope with the stress of new and intimidating opportunities. Eating disorders can show up in the form of restricting amount and type of food, it can mean triggering a feeling that you can never exercise enough and that “goal” weight just keeps getting smaller. In other instances, eating disorders can involve bingeing on food until you cannot feel anymore, and then purging or using laxatives.
All of these behaviors, in some combination or another, really underline the emotional pain that is underneath. It is a pain that pangs as you wonder if being yourself, as you truly are, is “good enough”. It is a vicious cycle of being ashamed or embarrassed by these behaviors that you do not understand, and in turn hiding or lying about these behaviors because they have, at some point, “helped” to cope with overwhelming feelings. These behaviors in fact make the pain worse, and feelings of isolation and despair continue to intensify.
What can you do? Whether you are a parent, friend, or person affected by an eating disorder, first know that you are NOT ALONE. With over 10 million women and 1 million men (reported by the National Eating Disorders Association) showing symptoms of an eating disorder, the epidemic is growing and impacting us all. Secondly, know that you are not at fault for this — I repeat — NOT at fault for the issues, and there are many qualified professionals who are eager to help you. Families, loved ones, individuals, I challenge us all to come together in the mission to erase eating disorders and to educate the public about the causes, dangers, and treatment options.