The scArlet letter

Anorexia, a word I have come to hate. Why hate? Because the word alone brings with is discomfort, confusion, questions and often misinformation. The disorder itself is a death trap, literally. It destroys the victim, their families, creates distances between friends and dishonesty, doubt and brokenness spread like a disease. It is a word that usually doesn’t cross my lips and the only time I talk about it is when I blog.

Imagine my surprise when my 12 year old daughter asked me if someone we know “has anorexia?” In utter disbelief my first reaction was, “where did you hear that word”? I could feel my heart racing and a cold shiver run up my spine. She said very innocently that her best friend (from gymnastics) mentioned it. Now I don’t know where her friend would have heard the word, but she is first year high school and I think it is something her mom would say is general talk. I then asked my daughter what does she know of that word? She said that it is when someone doesn’t eat and gets very skinny. I told her that yes, it is correct but there is more to it than what most people make of it. I know that my daughter need to be aware of these disorders (and others) but I truly believe that 12 is too young to expose her mind to such knowledge. There will be a time and place for it, and I will surely correct her if her friends provide her with non-factual information.

The person she was referring too when she asked the question is a lovely young lady and ex-rhythmic gymnast who has now turned her passion for this beautiful sport into a small business as she makes gorgeous leotards. I met her for the first time last year March when my daughter trailed to compete overseas. She attended the event as one of the gymnasts needed alterations to a leotard she made. I didn’t know at the time who she was, but it was clear that she was not healthy and you can also see why most people would jump to the assumption of her suffering from ‘anorexia’. An extremely skinny rhythmic gymnast in a highly competitive sport = you must have an eating disorder.

I contacted her early December of last year to ask if she is available to make my daughter’s leotard. She was and I was thrilled with her design and colours. So we started the process. Several months had gone and I didn’t hear from her. I took it that she must be a very busy young lady so I will leave it just a little while longer before I contact her. Soon after, my one friend who is also waiting on a leotard from her contacted me and I found out that she is actually very sick. No, not due to an eating disorder, but because she has gastrointestinal problems yet to be diagnosed. She had been sick for over 2 years and her health deteriorates each day. She eats 5000+ calories a day, yet still looses weight. In her own words she describes how the doctors have told her she is dying and there is nothing they can do to help her, except send her for more tests. It is absolutely dreadful and my heart breaks for her. I have seen a recent photo of her on Instagram and I cried.

To place a label on someone before knowing the truth is to dehumanise them. I feel like it could be associated with having a scarlet letter stitched permanently unto your skin. We forget that the person carrying a mental and/or physical disorder is still a person. They are separate from their illness. The disorder should not define them. We would rather whisper behind our hands, these days behind a phone screen, before offering assistance or help.

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Day 120 30 April – schnips

I have been struggling a lot with hair loss these past few months. I usually loose hair with the change of seasons, but since December last year I am too scared to touch my head as I literally loose hair by the handful. I have naturally curly hair, big spiral curls so I don’t brush my hair very often but I do use my hands as ‘combs’ and daily put them through my hair to loosen the curls. I don’t know if my hair is thinning due to always having it in a bun, or due to having a deficiency. I know iron deficiency, which I suffer from, is a known cause for hair loss but I can’t see how my iron levels could have dropped so dramatically. I am too scared to go to the doctor with this.

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Today I had a much needed hair cut and I am hoping that by cutting my hair short (it is a short uneven bob) it will have time to thicken and hopefully grow.

They say a change is as good as a holiday. And those head massages they give when they wash your hair is the best part of visiting a hair salon!

Has anyone had similar problems? Or know of a natural remedy to combat hair loss?

Day 119 29 April – hipster hippies

My husband and I were invited to his work mates wife’s 40th birthday party. The theme: 70’s and yes it’s a dress-up.

I don’t mind dressing up. It is the preparations that I don’t often have time for that bothers me. I certainly didn’t want to unnecessarily spend money on buying our outfits as these dress-up kits can easily cost $20 plus per outfit. I decided to instead purchase 2 white t-shirts from The Warehouse and 1 packet of tie-dye and create do-it-yourself tie-dye shirts. The dye cost me $4 and the shirts were $5 each.

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I had some time to spare during dinner the previous night to quickly tie-dye the shirts. I strategically tied elastic bands around selected sections of the shirts. The dye powder was dissolved in 3.75L of steaming hot water, the shirts inserted and stirred for a short while before leaving it to soak for approximately 45 minutes. Afterwards I rinsed them thoroughly with cold water and put them in the washing machine on a rinse only cycle. I removed the elastic bands and hanged the shirts to dry overnight. We were pleasantly surprised with the outcome and would most likely be wearing the shirts on a casual basis.

The night itself was pleasant. We didn’t really know anyone there but we made the most of our time. My husband even went into a photo booth with me and we have 4 fun and funky photos to show for it!

Peace, love and prosperity to you all.

Day 117 27 April – dessert cups

My daughter’s best friend’s parents happen to be good friends of ours. Two weeks ago she received news that her brother passed away. He was suffering from an infection which had left him in a vegetative state for over a year. She travelled back to her home town in Thailand soon after which left her husband to look after my daughter’s friend and her younger sister.

To give him a helping hand we invited them over for dinner tonight because from what I heard his speciality has been mince on rice 🙂 I prepared a vegetarian lasagne with chicken nibbles and fresh ciabatta bread to soak up the sauciness. The lasagne took a whole lot longer to prepare than the 1/2 hour I gave myself. The vegetable  sauce took the longest to boil down and thicken. But in all honesty, it was well worth it! All 4 children gobbled it down with my son (not a trusty veggie eater) exclaimed afterwards, “It wasn’t good, it was delicious”.

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For dessert I turned a traditional South African peppermint crisp tart into a dessert cup. A peppermint crisp tart is made from a South African chocolate called Peppermint Crisp which is roughly grated and then folded into a cream and caramel mixture. We use a coconut based biscuit called Tennis biscuits to form the biscuit base. You start off with a layer of biscuits, followed by the cream mixture. Repeat the layers until you have the required height/size you want. Top the tart or dessert cup off with left-over pieces of peppermint crisp chocolate. It needs to set in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. The dessert cups were reasonably large and after a filling dinner it was a bit overkill, so I would suggest serving these in small jars.

Peppermint Crisp dessert cups (serves 6)

500ml cream

1 tin Caramel Treat

3 Peppermint Crisp bars, roughly grated

1 1/2 packets of Tennis biscuits, crushed

6 small mason jars

Whisk cream until thickened. Add the Caramel Treat and gently whisk until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Add the grated peppermint crisp (but leave some for the garnish) to the mixture and fold in until well combined. Layer the mason jars, starting with the crushed biscuits and followed by the cream mixture. Repeat until the jars are filled to the top. Garnish with left-over peppermint crisp. Let it set in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!