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When I'm not here, you may find me wandering the pages below. (If I'm a regular visitor to your site and I've left your link off or mislinked to you, please let me know! And likewise, if you've blogrolled me, please check that my link is updated: thisroamanticlife.blogspot.com. The extra (a) makes all the difference!)

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Body: in sickness and in health

I won't lie; this body and I have had our issues with each other for many years. Body image -- sure. Physical and mental overextension -- comes with being a Type A kind of girl. I still struggle with these things, so they show up from time to time in my writing.

More recently, illness, pure but not simple, has added itself to the mix in a multi-system sort of way. And the challenges in figuring out exactly what's gone wrong are many. As problems have revealed themselves in the last few years, beginning with reactive hypoglycemia in late 2008, I've documented them here, partly to gain a little clarity on managing complex conditions but mostly to give voice to vulnerabilities I feel but don't normally share with anyone face to face. Better out than in, they say, right? (Oh yes, humor is one way I deal.)

The links below cover the different angles I've examined (and from which I've been examined) within that experience.

Travel: neither here nor there

When the person you're married to lives two time zones away, you log a fair number of frequent flier miles. And if you blog about commuter relationships, you log quite a few posts en route too.

Since we're no longer in separate places, I blog less often from airports. But we do travel -- together now! -- which is much more fun to write about. So in addition to thoughts on our years of commuting, the links below cover the places we've been as a pair and, in some cases, the adventures that have happened on the way.

Writing: the long and short of it

Why do I do it? Good question. Maybe it's not so much that I like to write but that I have to write, even when the words refuse to stick to the page. Believe me, I've tried doing other things like majoring in biochemistry (freshman fall, many semesters ago). Within a year, I'd switched to English with a concentration in creative writing and wasn't looking back.

After graduating, I taught English for a few years and then worked as an editor, which I still do freelance. In 2007, I applied and got into an MFA program at a place I like to call Little U. on the Prairie. I finished my degree in 2011 and have been balancing tutoring and writing on my own ever since.

The following links cover the writing I've done about writing: process, content, obstacles, you name it. It's not always pretty. But some part of me loves it, even when it's hard. And this is the result.

Heart: family and friends

I'd have a hard time explaining who I am without being able to talk about the family I grew up in as well as the people I've met beyond its bounds. But even with such context, it's not easy! In the simplest terms, I'm a first-generation Asian-American who has spent most of this life caught between cultures. That, of course, doesn't even begin to describe what I mean to, but there's my first stab at the heart of it all.

That's what this group of posts is reserved for -- heart. The essential parts of my life whose influences I carry with me, for better or worse. The links below cover what I've written as I've learned how these forces work within me, for me, against me, in spite of me. They anchor me even as they change me, and they keep life interesting.

Recommended reading

What do I do when there's too much on my mind and my words won't stick to the page? I escape into someone else's thoughts. Below is a collection of books and articles that have been sources of information, inspiration, and occasional insight for my own work.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The view from above

I want it.

And today, I got myself a guru who will help me get it: a dietitian.

I'd been mulling over the idea for a little while -- a year of unexplained creeping weight gain will do that to you, particularly if you have a complicated relationship with food. There is, of course, much more to that story, but suffice it to say that after these last two weeks of eating a traveler's diet and seeing the results on the scale, despite my best efforts to manage the damage while I was away, I decided I'd had enough of going it alone. I have too much on my metaphorical plate to worry about -- thesis, marriage, family -- to make room for food anxiety.

Not that food anxiety is totally separate from all of those things; I dare say it's a common element among all three, even if it's not at the surface of each. In the here and now, though, I need a guru who will take on the day-to-day questions and concerns about food with me so I can focus on the less straightforward business of sorting out my life as a whole.

For just shy of a year, I've been talking to a different counselor about the things that have gotten me down. And despite multiple attempts to ask him to show me the bigger picture, the map -- hell, even the path -- he's managed to get around my question: what are the problems and what do I do with them?


I didn't see the pattern for several months, which baffles me. But it's been a confusing year, one in which I second-guessed my instincts many times over. In recent weeks, I started bringing up the food anxiety in our sessions, outlined its severity, its years of entrenchment. "I know it's easy to focus on that since it has a handle that's easy to grasp," the counselor said. But nothing more.

So on Monday, I told him I was going to find a dietitian.

I met with her today, and from my first impression, I think she's going to be great. I felt better after talking to her, felt like we could tackle the anxiety, felt like she had a plan for me even if we didn't get into the nitty-gritty details all at once. I know she can't be the person to answer the larger questions on life for me, but she'll help me clear away some of the debris on the path. Which is what I've wanted all along from the other guy.

Maybe it's time to clear him away too, in favor of someone else -- a search process I'm hugely reluctant to begin, especially since it's taken so long to determine how dissatisfied I am with my current counselor. How can I prevent this from happening again? What if the next person -- and the next one, and the next -- are worse? Am I really willing to throw away a year's working relationship? I don't know.

But that view.


I want it.

Photos taken at the High Line, New York.

10 comments:

Sherlock said...

A dietitian is a great idea. Can't wait to hear how it goes. As for the counselor -- if you're not comfortable with the one you have, take the time and effort to find another. Years ago I went through three in as many years before I found one that was the perfect fit. Sounds like a long time, but it's not really. I did gain something of value from the others, just not enough to suit me, so I moved on.

French Fancy said...

I wish you the best of luck CT with this new regime. It is so good to be in control of what we eat and I know you have lots of discipline from the posts you have done about the things you are not allowed.

Perhaps once the food thing is sorted you might not even need a counsellor any more.

French Fancy said...

p.s. I don't think having a counsellor is something that is so big in Europe as it seems to be in the USA. I mean after watching all Woody Allen's films it seems that nearly everyone is in analysis. Is it really such a part of every day culture? It must be so expensive.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

First off, I love the High Line. I visited last fall and was so impressed by that little lung at the edge of the city.

Second, and much more important, I am really pleased that you found a dietitian you like. In my experience, trusted care-providers can make the difference between forward progress and back-sliding and it sounds like you've found a practitioner who will help you answer some of the questions you've been having. As for the counselor, how frustrating that you aren't finding him as helpful as he could be. Inertia is such a bugaboo in these situations so I applaud you for even considering making a switch.

Wishing you all the best!

Bev said...

<3

BigLittleWolf said...

The dietitian sounds like a wonderful step. Very tangible. And sometimes that's what's lacking in counselors of various sorts - practical suggestions that are tangible.

Finding a good match in counselor is difficult (like finding a good match in anything?) - really wishing you the best with this. I know how tough food issues can be, and interrelated with so many other stresses.

C. Troubadour said...

Sherlock -- I'm optimistic about the dietitian. She seemed to get the food anxiety thing right away. As for the counselor search, thanks for the encouragement. Have to figure out how to break it off with the current guy; not looking forward to that.

FF -- I'm lucky enough to have an insurance plan that covers the current counselor's fees. But not all counselors take insurance. That'll be part of the challenge in the search for a new person. Interesting, your comment about counseling in Europe vs. the U.S. -- I'd say it has become mainstream here in some parts of U.S. culture, but certainly not all. I grew up in a family with mixed attitudes toward it and married into a family with a long tradition of living with stiff upper lips. Whatever works, I say ...

Kristen -- love the idea of the High Line as a lung! It really is a breath of fresh air :). On inertia, though ... see me waving (and wavering) over here? Working with the dietitian will help keep me motivated to look for a new counselor, I think. The difference in how I felt when I left her office vs. the counselor's office after the first visit was stark.

Bev -- hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii <3

BLW -- tangible, so very important! Only a few years of teaching taught me how important that is to feeling like what you're doing matters. And I've brought that up a few times in sessions, but somehow that continued not to stick ... argh!

theycallmejane said...

What a great idea! Good luck in your quest to beter health. A noble quest indeed! Looking forward to hearing about any secrets you learn along the way!

SuziCate said...

Kudos to you for finding a dietician. Most importantly, you must be comfortable and feel like you are making progress with your counselor, if not you need to change...your recognizing this and taking a step to make changes is huge. I am so happy for you that you are stepping up and taking charge. You should be proud of yourself. I hope all works out well. Sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

C. Troubadour said...

Jane -- I've already got assigned reading after a week; we'll see what comes of it. The library didn't have what I needed so now it's off to check out Amazon's used book offerings ...

SuziCate -- thanks. I almost talked myself out of finding that dietitian two weeks ago as I was considering my options, but I'm glad I didn't.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The view from above

I want it.

And today, I got myself a guru who will help me get it: a dietitian.

I'd been mulling over the idea for a little while -- a year of unexplained creeping weight gain will do that to you, particularly if you have a complicated relationship with food. There is, of course, much more to that story, but suffice it to say that after these last two weeks of eating a traveler's diet and seeing the results on the scale, despite my best efforts to manage the damage while I was away, I decided I'd had enough of going it alone. I have too much on my metaphorical plate to worry about -- thesis, marriage, family -- to make room for food anxiety.

Not that food anxiety is totally separate from all of those things; I dare say it's a common element among all three, even if it's not at the surface of each. In the here and now, though, I need a guru who will take on the day-to-day questions and concerns about food with me so I can focus on the less straightforward business of sorting out my life as a whole.

For just shy of a year, I've been talking to a different counselor about the things that have gotten me down. And despite multiple attempts to ask him to show me the bigger picture, the map -- hell, even the path -- he's managed to get around my question: what are the problems and what do I do with them?


I didn't see the pattern for several months, which baffles me. But it's been a confusing year, one in which I second-guessed my instincts many times over. In recent weeks, I started bringing up the food anxiety in our sessions, outlined its severity, its years of entrenchment. "I know it's easy to focus on that since it has a handle that's easy to grasp," the counselor said. But nothing more.

So on Monday, I told him I was going to find a dietitian.

I met with her today, and from my first impression, I think she's going to be great. I felt better after talking to her, felt like we could tackle the anxiety, felt like she had a plan for me even if we didn't get into the nitty-gritty details all at once. I know she can't be the person to answer the larger questions on life for me, but she'll help me clear away some of the debris on the path. Which is what I've wanted all along from the other guy.

Maybe it's time to clear him away too, in favor of someone else -- a search process I'm hugely reluctant to begin, especially since it's taken so long to determine how dissatisfied I am with my current counselor. How can I prevent this from happening again? What if the next person -- and the next one, and the next -- are worse? Am I really willing to throw away a year's working relationship? I don't know.

But that view.


I want it.

Photos taken at the High Line, New York.

10 comments:

Sherlock said...

A dietitian is a great idea. Can't wait to hear how it goes. As for the counselor -- if you're not comfortable with the one you have, take the time and effort to find another. Years ago I went through three in as many years before I found one that was the perfect fit. Sounds like a long time, but it's not really. I did gain something of value from the others, just not enough to suit me, so I moved on.

French Fancy said...

I wish you the best of luck CT with this new regime. It is so good to be in control of what we eat and I know you have lots of discipline from the posts you have done about the things you are not allowed.

Perhaps once the food thing is sorted you might not even need a counsellor any more.

French Fancy said...

p.s. I don't think having a counsellor is something that is so big in Europe as it seems to be in the USA. I mean after watching all Woody Allen's films it seems that nearly everyone is in analysis. Is it really such a part of every day culture? It must be so expensive.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

First off, I love the High Line. I visited last fall and was so impressed by that little lung at the edge of the city.

Second, and much more important, I am really pleased that you found a dietitian you like. In my experience, trusted care-providers can make the difference between forward progress and back-sliding and it sounds like you've found a practitioner who will help you answer some of the questions you've been having. As for the counselor, how frustrating that you aren't finding him as helpful as he could be. Inertia is such a bugaboo in these situations so I applaud you for even considering making a switch.

Wishing you all the best!

Bev said...

<3

BigLittleWolf said...

The dietitian sounds like a wonderful step. Very tangible. And sometimes that's what's lacking in counselors of various sorts - practical suggestions that are tangible.

Finding a good match in counselor is difficult (like finding a good match in anything?) - really wishing you the best with this. I know how tough food issues can be, and interrelated with so many other stresses.

C. Troubadour said...

Sherlock -- I'm optimistic about the dietitian. She seemed to get the food anxiety thing right away. As for the counselor search, thanks for the encouragement. Have to figure out how to break it off with the current guy; not looking forward to that.

FF -- I'm lucky enough to have an insurance plan that covers the current counselor's fees. But not all counselors take insurance. That'll be part of the challenge in the search for a new person. Interesting, your comment about counseling in Europe vs. the U.S. -- I'd say it has become mainstream here in some parts of U.S. culture, but certainly not all. I grew up in a family with mixed attitudes toward it and married into a family with a long tradition of living with stiff upper lips. Whatever works, I say ...

Kristen -- love the idea of the High Line as a lung! It really is a breath of fresh air :). On inertia, though ... see me waving (and wavering) over here? Working with the dietitian will help keep me motivated to look for a new counselor, I think. The difference in how I felt when I left her office vs. the counselor's office after the first visit was stark.

Bev -- hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii <3

BLW -- tangible, so very important! Only a few years of teaching taught me how important that is to feeling like what you're doing matters. And I've brought that up a few times in sessions, but somehow that continued not to stick ... argh!

theycallmejane said...

What a great idea! Good luck in your quest to beter health. A noble quest indeed! Looking forward to hearing about any secrets you learn along the way!

SuziCate said...

Kudos to you for finding a dietician. Most importantly, you must be comfortable and feel like you are making progress with your counselor, if not you need to change...your recognizing this and taking a step to make changes is huge. I am so happy for you that you are stepping up and taking charge. You should be proud of yourself. I hope all works out well. Sounds like you're headed in the right direction.

C. Troubadour said...

Jane -- I've already got assigned reading after a week; we'll see what comes of it. The library didn't have what I needed so now it's off to check out Amazon's used book offerings ...

SuziCate -- thanks. I almost talked myself out of finding that dietitian two weeks ago as I was considering my options, but I'm glad I didn't.