If You’re Having a Hard Time, Read This.

First, watch this. 0:24-0:31 is the most important part.

You’re welcome. Now let me tell you a story.

Many years ago, on a family vacation in Canada, I sat on the oceanside steps of a bed and breakfast and cried until I couldn’t breathe. I was sixteen and living on melons and lettuce. Ninety pounds. Ribs like a birdcage. Hair ripping out in clumps every time I brushed it. My raw vegan honeymoon had exploded, and I was left writhing atop its shrapnel—stuck in that awful space of knowing something was very, very wrong but not knowing how to fix it.

The B&B host sat chain-smoking a few yards away, pretending not to see. I loved him so much for not asking if I was okay. Inside our room, my wonderful, rightfully distraught parents were discussing my “situation,” thinking I couldn’t hear. Their murmurs bled through the wall and mixed with the slurp of tide on shore.

That, friends, was the beginning of my Regret Phase. For years, I had a giant pile of WHOOPS I MESSED UP MY LIFE that I didn’t know what to do with. Most of my teenagehood—the time people usually spend going on stomach-butterfliesy first dates and buying prom dresses and getting drivers licenses and being cool, none of which I experienced—was spent destroying and then recovering my health. I remember little else. I didn’t mind taking the road less traveled, but I did wish it’d been paved with more than just mangos and dental bibs. So much felt like a waste.

It wasn’t until my early 20s, when the idea for Raw Food SOS first popped into my head, that I realized everything I went through might actually serve a greater purpose. That my WHOOPS pile wasn’t all for naught. This blog started as an attempt to turn a period of strife into something that could help people—and it ended up being one of the most rewarding endeavors of my life. (After all, how else would I ever have met YOU?)

Which brings me to the whole point of this post. For those of you who don’t keep obsessive track of my birthday (IT’S MAY 4TH YOU GUYS. MAY. 4TH.), I’ve freshly turned 30. And while birthdays usually don’t phase me, this one has a bunch of new numbers in it. Something about that prompted me to reflect. A lot. And you know what I realized?

OH DEAR ZEUS, I’M IN REGRET PHASE II.

maythefourth

You have no excuse for not remembering.

In some ways, Regret Phase II might seem justified. I don’t write much about my personal life online, so as a quick recap, the last few years totally kicked my butt. People died. So many. One right in front of my eyes. Loved ones got cancer and diabetes and broken bones and lupus and other scary things. There were breakups and break downs. I spent two years living next to meth dealers and wondering if a bullet was going to fly through my bedroom window while I slept (there’s already one hole in the glass). Gang shootings happened outside my front door. I had ferocious, claws-out brawls with partners who drew out an anger I never knew I had. I narrowly dodged a van abduction while being followed down the street at night. I got trapped in Mexico with no money during riots that closed the border. I was pregnant, and then not pregnant. In March, a friend died in a motorcycle crash a few hours after leaving my house. He left his broom here. I sweep with it every morning.

I could keep going with a list of woe-is-me, tiny-violin tales of my recent plights, and maybe you’d feel bad for me, and maybe you’d think Regret Phase II is due to forces beyond my control. But that’s not really the case. The struggles weren’t the problem. The problem was what I did with them all.

Amidst these challenges, these ripe opportunities to learn and grow and evolve, I utterly stagnated as a human being. That is my regret. I got jaded and lazy and went on autopilot. I repeatedly chose to take on other people’s problems instead of tackling my own. I complained about my situation but changed absolutely nothing. I let this poor blog nearly die. And I neglected my most important goal in life: continual self-betterment.

As the big 3-0 started approaching, the reality of this stagnation hit me big time. Where did my 20s go? What came of it all? Can I be proud of where I’m at?

NOPE. I can’t. And it actually feels good to admit that.

These struggles might not be obvious from the outside, which is why I want to talk about them today. We don’t have enough transparency when it comes to the hard stuff. One of my least favorite things about the internet is that it breeds a culture of image crafting, where we think other people’s lives are more glamorous than ours and that we’re failing because we have PROBLEMS while everyone else is Instagramming hypersaturated photos of their Amalfi Coast vacation. Then, when we feel alone and need authenticity the most, we shove it aside for fear of judgment.

bornthisway

#ISwearIWokeUpLookingLikeThis #NoFilter #NoMakeup #SoBlessed

So here’s me saying “fork that.” Let’s be real. Instead of breezily strolling into a new decade, I spent the last few weeks panicking about the state of my life and the poof-it’s-gone passing of my 20s. More than a few sobby freak-outs occurred. It got messy and weird. And then I remembered the last time this happened. And how what seemed like a barren field of wasted days was really full of little seeds that hadn’t sprouted yet. You can’t fool me twice, life! I see what’s going on here.

So instead of wallowing in Regret Phase II, I’m deviating from the food-centric focus of this blog—just for today, I promise—to share what I’ve learned. Because I know lots of you amazing folks are struggling, too. And I want you to know you’re not alone in the trenches. After all, well-being is about way more than just diet.

I know I can’t make you do anything, but just remember, I’m 30 now and you’re supposed to listen to me. So read on and HEED MY WISDOM.


1. You’re probably in an abusive relationship with yourself.

first_rule_of_fight_club

“Why ya hitting yourself?”

No, not like Fight Club.

Psychology literature talks a lot about how to recognize when you’re getting abused by somebody else. But what if your assailant is you? What if you’re the one undermining your confidence and beating you up and holding you back and making you miserable? My God, what if it was you stealing your lunch money the WHOLE TIME?

To be clear, I’m not just talking about obvious self-abuse like drinking too much or depriving yourself of sleep or shoving questionable foods down your pie hole. The worst offender is what other people can’t even see: the awful things you tell yourself every day. The super mean brain-chatter. Stuff like this:

“I’m going to mess that up.”
“I keep doing it wrong.”
“I’m letting everyone down.”
“They didn’t like me.”
“I’m so stupid.”
“I look like crap today.”
“I can’t seem to get anything right.”

If that doesn’t seem terrible yet, imagine saying those exact same words to someone else. Like a child. This little cutie pie, for instance.

happy_shirley

She’s struggling. The world is scary and weird and dogs keep pooping in the sandbox. The other kids are mean. OH THE HUMANITY, THE GRAPE-SCENTED MARKER RAN OUT OF INK. The injustices are endless. She wants support. So you look her right in eye and say:

“You’re going to mess that up.”
“You keep doing it wrong.”
“You’re letting everyone down.”
“They didn’t like you.”
“You’re so stupid.”
“You look like crap today.”
“You can’t seem to get anything right.”

How much of a jerk are you now? YOU JUST BROKE SHIRLEY TEMPLE.

The point should be obvious. If it’s cruel to say these things to someone else, then why is it okay to say them to yourself?

It’s not. It’s abuse. And you’re the perp. If your self-talk would be inappropriate if inflicted on another human being, then it’s inappropriate for you, too.

I can’t emphasize enough how disempowering it is to be tearing yourself down at every moment and ruler-slapping yourself for failing to meet impossible standards. The words in our heads are powerful. They can make or break our success. And almost all of us have some pretty bad ones in there. Simply becoming conscious of this reality is a huge step towards changing it.

Which brings us to…


2. Your mental scripts are stolen.

NOW IT’S GETTING REAL, YO. All that gnarly self-abusive chatter? The you talking to you? The words that play over and over and haunt you and slap you down every time you start thinking you’re an okay person? Those thoughts aren’t yours.

Once more, with feeling! THOSE THOUGHTS AREN’T YOURS.

They might be in your head, sure. But that’s not where they came from.

In reality, our negative mental scripts are composed almost entirely of two things, neither of which are self-generated:

  1. Things we’ve been told by other people
  2. Things we’re afraid of being told by other people

That’s it. You didn’t come up with your insults. You collected them. You scrapped together little pieces of stuff you heard over the course of your entire language-comprehending life and made a collage out of them. A tape reel of other people’s judgments. That time your older brother called you an idiot is on there. And when your classmate said you were ugly. And when your ex-best friend told you Johnny McDreamy was only talking to you because he felt sorry for you and really, he thinks you’re lame, JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE DOES. It all got incorporated into the scripts. Even the stuff you’re 100% sure is your own creation, never before uttered to your virgin ears, is rooted in the fear of what somebody else might say to you, think about you, or tell the world about you.

After all, why would it matter if you’re stupid or ugly or lame if nobody’s around to point it out? In a vacuum, you wouldn’t care. The presence of a witness is what makes those things embarrassing.

Ultimately, our minds play these stolen scripts over and over in attempt to protect us from pain. We replay the things that hurt the most in order to desensitize ourselves to their sting. Sort of like exposure therapy. Our subconscious goes all SCRIPT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME whenever it anticipates hurt or judgment—a high pressure job interview, a date with someone we like, a particularly bad hair day.

bad_hair_day

It could always be worse.

The problem is, instead of preparing us in the way that—say—practicing a speech would prepare us for the day we have to deliver it, mentally rehearsing the worst things we could possibly be told doesn’t actually ready us for anything. It doesn’t reduce our suffering. It increases it. We’re literally choosing to practice pain when instead, we could be focusing on much more valuable pursuits, such as contemplating Tommy Seebach’s mustache.

But there’s some good news! If we accept that 1) we’re mired in abusive self-talk and 2) that self-talk isn’t truly our own, we can start freeing ourselves from its clutches. It’s really not too hard.

For starters, there’s a simple way to jolt your mental scripts out of autoplay. All you do is ask yourself where the judgments in your self-talk are coming from. The mere act of questioning is surprisingly powerful—it interrupts established thought patterns and shifts activity from the subconscious to the conscious—and at least for me, brings an immediate sense of lightness and release. For example:

  • If you’re mad at yourself, ask, “Whose anger is this?”
  • If you’re disappointed in yourself, ask, “Whose disappointment is this?”
  • If you’re hurting, ask yourself, “Whose pain is this?”

You’ll be surprised at how rarely the answer is “Mine.”


3. If you want to see your future, look at yourself today.

This has been my #1 most important lesson lately, so listen, young grasshopper, and listen well.

Your future is composed of a giant series of todays. Each today has to change at least a little bit in order for the future to look appreciably different. If all the todays stay exactly the same, it’s like a stop-motion animation where every frame is identical. You end up with a plot where NOTHING HAPPENS and it’s actually kind of creepy and the network cancels your show because it’s frightening the children.

A lot of us—myself included—make the mistake of thinking we’ll make a change tomorrow. But tomorrow doesn’t count because it never actually gets here. Macbeth notwithstanding, you just have today, and today, and today. If you aren’t taking at least one small daily step to bring your current life into alignment with what you want it to look like ten years down the line, then the you of today is also the you of the future. And no offense, but that’s probably not a good thing.


5. Adulthood is a lie and everybody’s faking it.

One thing I know for sure, now that I’m an old person and can speak with authority on the subject, is that no one ever really grows up. Much like the tales in Der Struwwelpeter, adulthood is a scary story told to children to make them behave.

scissorman

SWEET DREAMS, LITTLE TIMMY.

It’s all a ruse, you guys. There’s no threshold after which you are no longer a child. You just get better at pretending. Some things can trick you into thinking you’ve adulted—having a kid of your own, starting business, getting excited about successfully installing a garage door opener ALL BY YOURSELF—but those are fleeting distractions from the painful reality. You’re a five-year-old in a very large body. That will never change. So don’t worry. You’re doing just fine.


6. Your life as you know it is a story, and you’re allowed to reframe it for your benefit.

Earlier in this post, I wrote about how my last few years have been a quivering heap of chaos and woe, with lots to regret and little to show. Wouldn’t you know it, I’m also a poet (SORRY, that one crossed a line). Based on what I disclosed, you might think I’m just a sad sack slogging through tragedy after tragedy. And for the span of a few paragraphs, that’s how I saw it myself.

Every item on my list of sorrows was real. But that was only one way—a narrow and biased one, at that—of presenting my life. I could have written this instead:

“You guys, the past few years have been incredible. I met amazing people who changed my life. I got to visit Iceland and see geysers and talk at an awesome conference with brainiacs whose intelligence totally dwarfs mine. I went adventuring in my favorite places in the Southwest. I whooped my dad at Scrabble and he took it like a champ. I got to take care of my beautiful mother after she broke her wrist and realized what an incredible human being she is, more than I ever knew. I started working as a research assistant for one of the few people in the health community whose commitment to science I totally respect. I got surprised with early-birthday Radiohead tickets and they played the first song I ever illegally downloaded and at the end, everyone held up their phones like lighters and it was magical and I’M SO HAPPY I LOVE LIFE WOOHOO!”

Both of these stories are true. My sob story is true and my happy story is true. The difference is in how they’re framed.

The reality we experience, process, and remember is almost entirely subjective. It’s impossible to memorize everything we encounter, so we cherry-pick details to fit the narrative we think is correct. For someone who sees their life as a giant mud puddle under an Eeyore cloud, those details might be the crappy ones: the traffic jams, the psycho ex, the 48 minutes of life lost to the insufferable sound of Comcast hold music. For someone who sees their life as wondrous and charmed, those details might be effusive: the sparkle of a new romance, the five-dollar bill on the ground, the existence of late-night gluten-free Thai Food for seven bucks a pop (Thai Champa, I’m looking at you).

Which perspective is real? Neither and both.

Which perspective is more empowering? That should be obvious.

The point is, humans are masterful storytellers. We have to be—our grasp of the world is way more slushy and malleable than we like to think. We’re presented with an infinite supply of details to focus on or discard. We all have the chance to shape a narrative we’re excited to inhabit. And that’s pretty awesome! After all, there’s no bigger story we have than our own lives.


Okay you guys, that’s it. I’m officially 30 and one day old, and I already feel so much better than when I was 29 and 364 days old. If there’s hope for me, there’s hope for you. So hang in there. You’re doing it. You’re good. YOU GOT THIS.

Thank you for being here with me on this journey. I look forward to many more years of turning 30.

youngun.jpg

(And for everyone who’s been patiently waiting: YES, the Low Fat Part 2 post is still coming. I promise. I PROMISE.)

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77 comments

  1. Dear Ms. Minger,

    1) Dear God that video is wrong on so many levels. (still I smile)

    2) Happy late birthday.

    3) Thank you for your blog

    4) May I kindly encourage you to look forward to your a) 30’s, b) 40’s, etc. etc. The best is yet to come. Ask around.

    5) I will read further. But more coffee first.

    Thanks and Cheers,

    Erik

    Erik Westerholm NW Water & Energy Education Institute Toll free: 877/447-4544 Phone: 541/463-6170 Cell: 541/337-3199 Fax: 541/463-6179 Website: http://www.nweei.org

    >>> Denise Minger 05/05/17 8:15 AM >>> neisy posted: “First, watch this. 0:24-0:31 is the most important part. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6tnj7IEI0E You’re welcome. Now let me tell you a story. Many years ago, on a family vacation in Canada, I sat on the oceanside steps of a bed and breakfast and cr”

  2. I suffer from anxiety, depression and insomnia. My self talk is so powerful. It stirs my fears and inflames my doubts. Love to hear what you are up to. I am still trying to get the nutrition thing right. It is soooo confusing. I know there is a physical component to my mental problems but I suspect it is mostly my thoughts that cause the most damage.

    1. Eating a low-carb high fat diet should definitely help stabilize those braincells. Good luck figuring it out and hopefully healing! (obviously, nutrition is only a part)

  3. Lucky you, having these thoughts at the tender age of 30 (Happy Birthday!). I sleepwalked through my first 45 years! Thank you for sharing this. ❤

  4. As I read this, quite quickly I thought, crying, under weight, can’t focus, hypoestrogenemia came to mind. Google: “cholesterol used to make hormones”. Pre-menopause rising in 30 yr olds etc. Odd how everyone seems to be willfully ignorant of how the body works and what food we where designed to eat (pre fads). IE 10k yrs ago. I’m not asserting my own views, I’m suggesting the reader do the research. Google: “what food is the brain made of”. “”cholesterol used to make hormones”.

    Study authors, book authors unfortunately start with their personal agenda and proceed to cull and filter the science to make it say what they want. IE the widely discredited China Study (T Campbell) and many other authors. Jump over these folks and read about the basic function of the body at a lower level before facts get twisted.

    Practitioners of the various diet choices rarely blog about the dis-health, dis-functions after a few years and what changes restored health and function. They usually keep quiet about changing from what ever was “in” and ended up not working for the long haul. I’ve read many stories, very interesting! You only hear “I’m doing… I’m eating…” and for a while it works, then in a few years they trace back dis-functions to what amounts to mal-nutrition.

    You don’t need to have ribs sticking out to be suffering major dis-health from important nutrient deficiencies! Even eating middle of the road, the standard american diet, is making many folks sick. Each body is different, IE falling on the bell curve. On one end of the bell curve are the bodies that can be more or less healthy eating sticks and leaves (I’m exaggerating), where on the other end the more fragile bodies need extreme quality and quantity in their nutrition.

  5. Timing. I’ve been having a harder time than usual and really appreciate your insightful look at something we all seem to struggle with at times.

    Thank you.

  6. Wonderful post, Denise. I think you will appreciate my article showing that anorexia nervosa is best explained as evolved physiological mechanisms that helped our hunter gatherer ancestors travel during famine. It’s on my website, adaptedtofamine.com.

    Let me know what you think. Warmly, Shan Guisinger

  7. It took me 60 years to wake up to the same truths you express in your post. I’m 62 now and only starting to deal effectively with the issues you mention. I’d give anything to be a kid of 30 again and have the same awareness I have now. You may be feeling old at 30 and reflecting where your 20’s went. Try doing that at 60. Everything is relative. To me you’re extremely fortunate to have this awareness at such a young age. I wish you all the best in your journey.

    1. I’m with you Leo. I just turned 60 and I feel like I’m just starting to “get it.” Perspective.

  8. Thank you. I needed this today. Although, to be fair, I’d already worked out the adulting thing. I always tell my kids “I’m not actually grown up yet – I’m just winging it”. Also, I shall be using “Oh dear Zeus!” from now on xx

  9. Where are you living these days? I’m in the process of starting a podcast, and while it won’t be centered around diet & food they will be a part of it. I loved Death By Food Pyramid, and I’d love to have you on as a guest at some point. Any new book projects?

  10. Happy birthday! What I enjoy in this piece and in all your nutrition articles and in your book is your attitude of Welcome to planet trade-offs: your eagerness to look at both the pros and cons of any issue.

  11. Aww man, Denise I freaking love you. Thanks for reappearing and sharing advice with the wit, humor and wisdom beyond your years that I’ve come to expect from you. You’re so rad. Also, happy belated birthday!

  12. Denise,

    Thank you so much for this honest and humorous sharing! I’m so glad you’re surviving and so glad you’re not giving up on Raw Food SOS. Keep hangin. You’re appreciated by strangers and probably also people who actually know you!

    Warmly, Diana

  13. Hi Denise,

    I am sorry to hear about the painful things that you have described.

    Might I suggest that a lot of the issues you’re raising are symptoms of not having a conscious, integrated philosophy?

    Take #1 and #2. I think these are symptoms of not having a philosophy and of not having standards for self-evaluation, i.e., whether one is competent to live by his philosophy of life and whether one is in fact living by his philosophy of life.

    Every person needs a view of life and of himself. It’s a necessary underlying context in order to make decisions and act in the world. If a person doesn’t have a conscious philosophy by which to guide his life and conscious principles by which to evaluate himself, he may try to compensate through a sort of primitive method of evaluating himself in this non-integrated manner you describe of making out-of-context judgments, which sort of feel like they are true but they’re also just kind of floating there without any connection to anything else, which can make these judgments seem foreign and arbitrary.

    You say that these are just judgments we’ve picked up from other people. But, you wouldn’t latch onto these judgments merely because you heard them from other people. Something about them strikes you as plausible.

    You talk about the fear of hearing these judgments from other people. But, consider the fact that you would never fear of hearing food-related evaluations from someone, only evaluations about yourself. Why is that? In the realm of food, you know how to think about and evaluate different kinds of claims, whereas many people don’t know how to do that regarding claims about themselves. I believe the solution is to develop the same kind of competence in thinking about one’s self that one has in thinking about other areas.

    I think #5 is just a consequence of this. If being an adult means being competent to handle the challenges of adult life, then how is a person supposed to truly feel like an adult in the absence of clear philosophical principles and of a clear self-evaluation? There’s no way. He would sense some kind of inadequacy.

    Regarding #6, I think it is common to believe that worldviews as such are necessarily subjective, at least in part because they sort of involve value-judgments about what is and is not *important*. However, I don’t believe that worldviews are necessarily subjective. A worldview is based upon fundamental beliefs which can either correspond or not correspond to reality.

    For Example:
    “Is the universe intelligible to man, or unintelligible and unknowable? Can man find happiness on earth, or is he doomed to frustration and despair? Does man have the power of choice, the power to choose his goals and to achieve them, the power to direct the course of his life—or is he the helpless plaything of forces beyond his control, which determine his fate? Is man, by nature, to be valued as good, or to be despised as evil? These are metaphysical questions, but the answers to them determine the kind of ethics men will accept and practice; the answers are the link between metaphysics and ethics. And although metaphysics as such is not a normative science, the answers to this category of questions assume, in man’s mind, the function of metaphysical value-judgments, since they form the foundation of all of his moral values.

    Consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly, man knows that he needs a comprehensive view of existence to integrate his values, to choose his goals, to plan his future, to maintain the unity and coherence of his life—and that his metaphysical value-judgments are involved in every moment of his life, in his every choice, decision and action.” – Ayn Rand

    And, tying in the concept of “importance”:
    “The key concept, in the formation of a sense of life, is the term ‘important.’ It is a concept that belongs to the realm of values, since it implies an answer to the question: Important—to whom? Yet its meaning is different from that of moral values. ‘Important’ does not necessarily mean ‘good.’ It means ‘a quality, character or standing such as to entitle to attention or consideration’ (The American College Dictionary). What, in a fundamental sense, is entitled to one’s attention or consideration? Reality.

    ‘Important’—in its essential meaning, as distinguished from its more limited and superficial uses—is a metaphysical term. It pertains to that aspect of metaphysics which serves as a bridge between metaphysics and ethics: to a fundamental view of man’s nature. That view involves the answers to such questions as whether the universe is knowable or not, whether man has the power of choice or not, whether he can achieve his goals in life or not. The answers to such questions are ‘metaphysical value-judgments,’ since they form the base of ethics.

    It is only those values which he regards or grows to regard as ‘important,’ those which represent his implicit view of reality, that remain in a man’s subconscious and form his sense of life.

    ‘It is important to understand things’—’It is important to obey my parents’—’It is important to act on my own’—’It is important to please other people’—’It is important to fight for what I want’—’It is important not to make enemies’—’My life is important’—’Who am I to stick my neck out?’ Man is a being of self-made soul—and it is of such conclusions that the stuff of his soul is made. (By ‘soul’ I mean ‘consciousness.’)” – Ayn Rand

    1. …women are an inferior species in Rand’s world, a place where little girls need not dream of growing up to be President. “By the nature of her duties and daily activities,” writes Rand, “she would become the most unfeminine, sexless, metaphysically inappropriate, and rationally revolting figure of all: a matriarch.”

      Ayn Rand isn’t a deep thinker. She’s a gelatinous mass of chaotic and violent drives, loosely wrapped in pseudo-Nietzschian babble. Her writings are intellectually shallow econo-porn, part Kraft-Ebbing and part Horatio Alger, possessing neither coherence nor philosophical depth

      1. Flannery O’Connor on Ayn Rand:

        “I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

          1. My remark was directed to @shedevr. I thought he or she would appreciate it.

            As for your post: I don’t engage with anyone who has a high opinion of Ayn Rand.

      2. You have not engaged with anything in my post. You quoted Ayn Rand on her views regarding women presidents, and then made assertions without any supporting evidence (in a disrespectful manner, I might add).

    2. I don’t believe Denise was asking for help, but f course I cannot speak for her. In any case I’m sure she will appreciate the amount of time you took in making her aware and getting her straightened out as it were.

    3. Holy Cow, if I ever wanted someone to be a comfort, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, I would NEVER go to you!

  14. Denise, we’re not born knowing many answers to essential issues. Real life means learning and unlearning, and if you come to any final answers, let me know. I’m 83 and still questing. Welcome to the Club!

  15. Somehow everything finds you at just the right time. It takes real courage to share what you did and perhaps one day you’ll delve deeper in, and let the splashes find their way onto the blank slate (you can feel the ferocity trapped underneath the lid of their mild mannered descriptions–“You’ve got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions, not the little minor things that only touch you lightly, the little experiences that you might tell at dinner.”). I have been in such a similar boat its scary, and… comforting. If you care to share what books have been helping you through I’d love to hear–In return, I’ll share a short passage by Herman Hesse that I think you might find uniquely comforting: http://www.gss.ucsb.edu/projects/hesse/works/trees.html). Hesse really is magic if you haven’t already opened his tomes, or perhaps when you weren’t ready to fully appreciate them (just like me 😛 ). “To be able to throw one’s self away for the sake of a moment, to be able to sacrifice years for a woman’s smile – that is happiness”. Hope you feel better 🙂

  16. Denise, much love, appreciation, and happy birthdays from this old Englishman who has been doing not-adulting for almost 70 years now. You are one of the bright stars that shines in my (and my lovely wife’s) firmament. Please keep shining.

  17. Thinking too much can be a curse sometimes Denise.
    My remedy for Decade-itis is :

    1. Lock your doors and windows to keep the neighbours out
    2. Get wasted on the substance of your choice.
    3. Put on Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd with the volume CRANKED.
    4. Repeat once every 10 years (I’ve done my 4th iteration)

  18. If only you had come to me when this was going on I would have given you one of my famous hugs
    and none of this would have happened………………………..its still not too late.

  19. Dear Denice, you don’t have to reinvent yourself to be relevant,
    What I most wanted from your book, (and didn’t get, tho’ I got some bonus stuff I didn’t know)
    what I wanted was a resource I could put in someone’s hands and say ‘this slaughters the China Study B.S.
    I know people can go to your blog, but if I tell them to do that they won’t.
    Altho’ you’ve moved, the rest of the world hasn’t, I hope you write the book I can give to a vegan friend, as simple as a picture book for their low blood sugar dreamy focus.

  20. Pesky youngin’s being wiser than me, and at a younger age. But your writing’s the reason “shucky darns” became a staple in my vocabulary, so I guess I’ll forgive you and wish you a happy b-day.

  21. I love you, I love your blog, and I love your sense of humour. Thank you for being entirely relatable, yet at the same time firmly planted atop the pedestal of nutrition rockstars where you belong. Happy 30th, Denise 🙂

  22. Happy birthday!

    I think most males have the opposite problem: we tell ourselves things that are too complimentary. But then, I was never a kid, so I could be wrong.

  23. Dear Denise,
    Belated happy birthday! I am sure you will continue to grow, and have an interesting life. All my best wishes that such a life will be marked by peace, harmony and love. Such generosity in sharing so much wisdom deserves something positive from the Universe.
    Thank you for you.

  24. Happy birthday, and keep keeping it real. Love your blog because it is just that, real. Few people these days are good at being real, celebrating errors as opportunities to learn, and celebrating times of discomfort as times to grow and overcome.

  25. This was unexpected. Enjoyable read, rather poignant given that I’m turning 30 soon as well and went through an awful year. Your point #1 is effectively what CBT is about, prompting you to think differently which rings true.

    All the best, looking forward to more posts.

  26. You are the author of your life story. You can make it a comedy, tragedy, or whatever you wish. If some friends have died, you can cherish the ones that are left all the more. All mistakes are learning opportunities. If you do not learn, you will make the same mistake over until you do learn the lesson life is trying to teach you.

  27. Denise, I’ve long considered you fabulous, accomplished, beautiful, smart and funny. I have a copy of your book, I watch your lectures on Youtube. You hit the nail on the head addressing mindsets. You’ve done a lot for someone so young. (I just turned 60 on May day and I had a lot of cognitive dissonance over it.) My heart goes out to you in your time of personal pain and struggle. God bless and keep you!

  28. Hi Denise,

    Nice post! I haven’t thought of Der Stuwwulpeter since I read Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison. Still the weirdest and best comic book I read. I’d recommend it, if you’re not totally sick of comic books and movies based on them at this point. It’s up there with Sandman by Neil Gaiman.

    It’s funny, I think I had the same realization about life right about when I turned 30, too. I think it was at that time that I read “Frogs Into Princes” by Bandler and Grinder, a total mind [frick] of a book. Put me in a delightfully woozy headspace, and made me realize that I could re-write my scripts that are in my head everyday. If you like books that make you feel like you’re smoking something illicit, and are out of print and the only copies available came out before UPC codes were stamped on everything, I highly recommend that as well.

    As long as I’m giving you the inspirational reading list, I’ll also recommend the inspirational classic “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, “NLP Volume 1” by Bandler/Grinder and co again (also out of print, and maybe the best book on organizing thought ever written).

    Anyway, glad you’re back to writin’ stuff! You should try some super short form stuff, I find that muuuuuuuuuch easier to crank out, personally (although it’s a skill unto itself). And if you need moar 90’s alterna/nerd kid comics or self help/NLP book recommendations, you can always just head over to the Ray Peat Forum and look for the dude in the horsemask. I seem to post there a lot nowadays.

    Cheers!

  29. OMG – the video!!! And the sheep!! Girl you KILL me!! Just keep on being your super-fabulous-awesome self and we’ll all be just fine ❤

  30. You might like “The Real Behind My ‘Pretty’ Instagram Feed”.

    “The coffee in hand was stone cold because I made it before I realised I needed to go and buy a white surface prop. The croissant was an afterthought that I picked up at the mall. I didn’t eat it because I was worried about the icing sugar. The flowers are almost dead (or fake, I can’t remember) and the book was included purely for aesthetic purposes”
    https://petapixel.com/2017/04/22/real-behind-pretty-instagram-feed/

    Also, I forgive you for the poet joke. It was a close call. I love your work otherwise. 🙂

  31. Thank you for the great post. Perfect read for 6am on a new day when it is time for a change! Happy Birthday!

  32. I really needed this right now, thanks for sharing Denise.

    I was audibly shocked at that initial telling of your story – holy crap, what an insane series of events! Sharing that, and even sharing this type of advice on what’s otherwise a food-blog, is super-admirable.

    Damn, I can’t thank you enough – now to put it to use. Keep up the great work, and may you have many more revelatory years of turning 30 😉

    ——
    P.S. You might like Mark Manson’s recent book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck — really, really good book, and possibly my favourite author.

  33. Denise: Thank you. A belated happy birthday. 30 was a watershed year for me, but it wasn’t until I was well past 60 that I began to learn how to live, and it has been great fun, that journey. You’ve made a wonderful positive difference in my life. Bless you.

  34. There is a book out in German, the translated titel is: “Our Nutritional Biography – Who knows it , lives healthier” You got to read this Denise! It will be out in English soon! It is about how the epigenes performes in of the first 1000 days of our life. Live well in the 30 years!

  35. Interesting comments by you, Denise. It really is “all about energy” (Einstein) or, as Serge Benhayon has extended that phrase “It is all because of energy” (www.unimedliving.com/serge-benhayon ) . As everything is energy, life is about choices of energy. It is a binary choice – we can either choose to evolve or we can stay stuck in this yukky way of living that most people choose to be less their true selves; less than fully joyful. It is all laid out in this website http://www.unimedliving.com with many audios and a few videos to support/ lots of books to read too.; for those who maybe interested in developing the “Energetic Responsibility” way of being.

  36. That video made my day, I needed that :))) How has it not gone viral? Now I’ll finish reading your post.

  37. Denise Minger dahling – I don’t care if you laid around on the couch for the last year and ate marshmallows, I still love ya! You are one of my personal hero’s, and still insightful, delightful and hilarious as ever.

  38. I neglected to mention, I would quibble with one thing. This line perplexed me :

    “Amidst these challenges, these ripe opportunities to learn and grow and evolve, I utterly stagnated as a human being. That is my regret. I got jaded and lazy and went on autopilot. I repeatedly chose to take on other people’s problems instead of tackling my own. I complained about my situation but changed absolutely nothing. I let this poor blog nearly die. And I neglected my most important goal in life: continual self-betterment.”

    Lofty and all to better ourselves of course, stagnation is death they say, but this sounds to me like a potential source of needless guilt that may easily be shot down with CBT-type thinking. It directly contradicts the advice about being too hard on yourself, which follows soon afterwards. Is it necessarily the case you have been entirely stagnant in the recent past? What does it mean to improve when we’re productive but happen to be going through a difficult transition? Perhaps the goals simply changed along the way. And what does it strictly mean to “grow and evolve”? Rather ambiguous terminology. Personally I suppose I felt stagnant when a) I was bored, and b) there was something about myself I found dissatisfactory.

  39. Happy birthday! 🙂 Sounds like you’ve had a pretty rough time to say the least. Honestly I was pretty shocked since I’d always imagined you as happy, successful and well off, but that’s life I guess.

    As for psychology and philosophy, well that’s a nice surface you’ve scratched there but hardly enough to get you anywhere meaningful (unless you intend to write self-help books for a living). 😛 If you really want to go down that wormhole I have a neat blog on that sort of stuff (about 10 years of research and experience worth) with plenty of links and further reading: http://dreamingofmeta.blogspot.com

    Also I’m looking forward to low-fat part 2. *nudge nudge*

  40. Great post… I feel the same way about my twenties, what happened… well I think I also planted seeds. I’m 36 now and let me say 30’s are THE BEST EVER!!! I went back to school and got an awesome job and love myself more than ever. Also, I can’t wait to read your future blog posts.

  41. Dear One: Happy belated birthday! Thank you for gifting us with your lovely mess and thoughtful expressions. I will soon turn 63 and am still re-learning every day how to love and love more – all of me and us and…. Blessings Be….

  42. I love you and love your honesty and can’t tell you how appreciate it is. In a world out here where I’ve never actually met you, I recommend your book all the time in lectures I give and to patients, and I use you as an example of someone who taught me critical thinking. I talk about how unbelievable it is that you learned how to think like that so young and I’m just in awe.

    So thank you for being you, even when it’s hard to be you. We still love you for it. I’m a “friend” of yours on FB but really, I AM a friend that you just haven’t met yet 🙂

  43. I love this so very much. You have that whole thing highlighted about your regrets– looks like you have still not found your greatest treasure 🙂 Thanks for reminding me there are still people like you deep down.

  44. Denise Minger, I LOVE your humor and wit. You are awesome.
    HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY

    Don’t regret “regret phase 1 and 2” as they are necessary to your personal growth. Crisis is often what motivates us to change, to look for answers.
    And as brainy as you are, if you start to look for answers on how to change the quality of your life experience, YOU WILL FIND THEM 🙂

    Like me, Phase 2 of your journey has started:
    I thought nutrition was going to get me out of my inner discomfort but it didn’t, although learning from you and others helped my body tremendously. I love all my long distance inspiring mentors, Mark Sisson, Kelly Brogan, Mark Hyman, Pedram Shojai, David Perlmutter, Sarah Ballantyne, to name a few.

    I invite you to look into how the unique imprinting you received from your parents/society (which created your beliefs and behaviours) can be erased so you can free yourself from reactive behaviour and progress towards inner peace.

    I believe that my insulin resistance was certainly not helped by eating too many carbohydrates but that the root cause of it is chronic stress from undigested/stored emotions.

    I have found Neuro Emotional technique (NET) to be an extraordinary technique of de imprinting. In little less than 1 year of twice weekly treatment, anger, fear, grief,negativity have reduced considerably. This is the best financial investment I made!
    I am amazed at the shift in personality it has brought on.
    I used to see the half empty glass. It is so wonderful to now see the half full glass 😉 I will be a beacon of positivity soon enough 😉
    I use other modalities, meditation being one.

    Research backing up NET maybe lacking but direct experience with it is enough for me. I don’t care if it is the placebo effect, it works for me.
    It is also based on Dr Candace Pert’s work which shows emotions from memories are stored in the body.

    Phase 2 of the journey will ask of you to open up your right brain to balance this amazing left brain of yours. This is is the journey of the emotional body, not the mental body. No amazing RCT to back it up. Just be open.

    Your blogs are epic and make my head spin but keep going, we love you as you are 🙂

  45. Happy belated birthday, Denise! I really loved your honest post and can relate so much. It’s nice to connect with people over our complicated lives 🙂

  46. Very excited to see that you are back! Great post, I will try to incorporate your advice. Looking forward to read more from you! 🙂

  47. To all who have been courageous enough to share their tender emotions upon this ethereal slate: Life is an endless battle without a victor. The only victories to behold are those that embrace the scent of life’s endless garden. “Man designs for himself a garden with a hundred kinds of trees, a thousand kinds of flowers, a hundred kinds of fruit and vegetables. Suppose, then, that the gardener of this garden knew no other distinction between edible and inedible, nine-tenths of this garden would be useless to him. He would pull up the most enchanting flowers and hew down the noblest trees and even regard them with a loathing and envious eye. This is what the Steppenwolf does with the thousand flowers of his soul. What does not stand classified as either man or wolf he does not see at all. ”- Herman Hesse

    Do not abandon your battles! Do not rationalize them away! But love them wholly as you do the majesty of nature and all its wondrous inhabitants– Zarathustra replied: “Why should that frighten you? But it is with man as it is with the tree. The more he aspires to the height and light, the more strongly do his roots strive earthward, downward, into the dark, the deep—into evil.”

    You are all beautiful, in every way.

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