Shout out to my bro and sis-in-law for this AWESOME shirt ūüôā

When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game
But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game
Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it
You get nothing if you

Wait for it, wait for it, wait

God help and forgive me
I wanna build
Something that’s gonna
Outlive me

– Alexander Hamilton, Room Where it Happens

Any self-respecting Hamilton fan finished out the verse (am I right ūüôā ). I’ve listened to this verse from Room Where It Happens¬†probably a hundred times over the last¬†few months.¬†It’s become my anthem. My mantra.

 It reminds me that if I want to do something I have to get out there and do it. The lyrics challenge, even dare, me to put aside my fear and (lazy) perfectionism and get out there.

Get some skin in the game.

I want to be a part of something that will out live me. I want to help eradicate the prevalence of eating disorders and dismantle fat phobia and diet culture.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal lyrics also¬†remind me of Daring Greatly by¬†Bren√© Brown.¬† Her phenomenal book was¬†inspired by Teddy Roosevelt’s “In the Arena” speech. In the speech, our 26th President says:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Get in the arena and do.¬†Don’t sit on the sidelines, judging and commenting from the safety of the padded seats. Get in there and mix it up. Fight, flail, fall, give yourself time to heal, then¬†get¬†back up.

Giving yourself time to heal is essential to getting into the arena. Bren√© talked about self-care a lot in Daring Greatly.¬†Getting in the arena (ie. gettin’¬†skin in the game)¬†¬†is hard so it’s important to take care of yourself. If you don’t have the strength to put your foot in the arena today, that is okay. Take care of yourself. Listen to your body. Your mind. Heal. Then come back. Try again. If you’re still not ready, that’s okay too.

Giving ourselves time to heal before we stand makes us stronger.

I have to remind myself of this from time to time when I start feeling overwhelmed or overexposed. I want to do¬†so much¬†but I’m not much use when¬†my anxiety flies off the rails.¬†It’s okay to take care of myself. It’s okay to set boundaries. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to¬†put my¬†skin the¬†arena (see what I did there ūüôā )¬†at my own pace.

Have a great weekend friends!

 

***Trigger Warning*** This post focuses on food and cooking. The content could be triggering for those in ED recovery.

 

 

I never liked cooking. Or rather, cooking always made me incredibly anxious.

I suppose a lot of¬†it had to do with my decades long battle with an eating disorder. As I moved through recovery, I often wondered if I would ever enjoy cooking. And as I moved through my first year of Recovered,¬†the wondering continued….

Enter: Blue Apron.

A wonderful friend, who I owe an extreme amount of gratitude, introduced me to the glorious Apron of the Blue. As we sat on the gym floor stretching after a grueling workout, she regaled me with a story about a service that delivered three delicious meals to her home every week. It included every thing she needed, in the exact amount she needed and gave detailed instructions on how to cook it (with pictures!)  No last-minute trips to the grocery store to pick up red wine vinegar or heavy whipping cream. It was all there. All she, or her husband, had to do was cook it.

At the time, I was still¬†rooted firmly¬†in “I hate cooking,” so I didn’t run home and immediately sign up. But it got me thinking. I challenged¬†myself to look deeper¬†into why I hate cooking. I wrote in my journal and talked with Steve. I dug¬†deep to figure out¬†the trigger point of my¬†cooking anxiety. After¬†a lot of digging and soul-searching, I questioned¬†whether my issue with cooking had more to do with planning the meals than¬†the actual cooking of the meals.

Steve and I decided to let Blue Apron plan a few dinners for us. We were able to get half off on our first delivery so we figured it was a win/win. And was it ever a WIN! (**EDIT: If anyone is interested in trying it out let me know. I can send you a coupon so you can get your first delivery for FREE).

Has¬†anything ever¬†come along that made your life so much¬†easier¬†that you asked yourself what you ever did without it? Yeah, that’s Blue Apron. It turns¬†out I quite enjoy cooking when I don’t have to plan it¬†OR buy all the ingredients (only to have¬†Worcestershire sauce¬†and rice wine¬†vinegar sitting in my cabinet for a year).

I am a Blue Apron enthusiast. Cooking is a fun and, dare I say, cathartic experience. I put on music, pull out the ingredients and follow the step-by-step directions. I find great satisfaction in the ritual of gathering all the ingredients I need for a meal and putting them together on the counter (I seriously love having the just the right amount of everything).

I do things like zest and mince (I should have gotten a picture of me zesting :-)).¬†And I get to eat things like¬†cr√®me fresh and freeka (I’m still trying to figure out how to properly¬†drain the water¬†without losing half of the freeka. The freeka is to small for me to run it through my strainer).

I even made pot stickers! Pot stickers!

And the best part of it all?

Every night we sit down and have dinner as a family.¬†ūüôā

 

 

Livin’ La Vida Knope!

I’m a Parks and Recreation enthusiast. I love the show. The show models connection, compassion, hope¬†and love. My favorite episode of all time is, “Leslie and Ron.” The gang lock¬†Leslie and Ron¬†in the Parks and Rec office¬†to make them talk¬†after being at odds for a couple years.¬†It is a¬†master class¬†on the importance and potency¬†of vulnerability¬†in friendship. And now I cry every time I hear Willie Nelson’s “Buddy.”

I love the book. Clearly (see above). Leslie wrote this book on the show and then they made it in real life for super fans like me. ūüôā

And I love all the characters. Ron, the feminist alpha male. Tom, the dreamer always thinking of the next big thing. Andy, the loveable, loyal, and kind goofball. April, the cool one who pretends not to care but cares deeply. Donna, the confident, outspoken, hilarious,¬†and kind¬†co-worker (“Are you Nell. From the movie, Nell?” OMG, best line delivery ever!) Jerry/Larry/Gary, the loveable, warm-hearted guy who is both the schlemiel and schlemazel of the office. Ann, the smart, funny, straight-laced nurse.¬†Chris, who literally, cares about everything and everyone. Ben, the smart, kind, caring and enthusiastic and unapologetic nerd (to me nerd is a loving term). And finally, Leslie, oh Leslie, Leslie, Leslie.

Leslie isn’t afraid to put everything’s she got into something or someone she believes in. She’s not afraid to try too hard or care too much. She¬†is authentic, she’s vulnerable, she’s brave.¬†She believes in who she is, what she wants and her ability to go get it. I know she’s a fictional character, but I think all the things that make her her are possible for us too.

I’ve been thinking about Leslie a lot lately (not just because¬†I still watch at least¬†one episode everyday, thank you Netflix). This challenge is, well, a challenge. Every morning I find myself confronting my perfectionism, my fear of saying something offensive or triggering and my fear of trying too hard and exposing myself to shame, blame and/or judgement.

More times than not, I struggle to¬†let¬†go of a post¬†after I hit “Publish.” I often find myself frantically rewriting or cutting parts of a post after I sent it out to the world (subscribers may have noticed this).¬†Everyday I¬†work on finding my voice and¬†mustering up the¬†confidence to use it. I think, “What would Leslie¬†Knope do?” And then¬†I move forward. ¬†I also¬†keep going because of you. I see you.¬†I am so grateful for your support and encouragement. Thank you so much.

 

 

Yes, I’m wearing a hat inside my house at 5 am.

Last month,¬†the Director of Program Ministries at my¬†church invited me to give talk about eating disorders. It’s scheduled for the end of this month. I am honored to have the opportunity to share my story and spread awareness about eating disorders.

I’ve been working on it a lot lately.

While I was working on it the other day something felt familiar, kinda like déjà vu but less intense. Then it hit me. My life looks a lot like the life I wrote about in Writing Assignment #4: A Day In my Life When I Am Recovered (if you click on the blue it should take you to the post).

Back in November 2015, I imagined¬†what a day in my Recovered life would look like. I remember writing it. I tried to write it¬†months earlier¬†but anxiety took over so I gave myself permission to step away. A few months later,¬†Recovered seemed less intimidating. My anxiety was definitely still there,¬†slowing building below the surface,¬†but I¬†kept reminding myself,¬†“Recovered isn’t a fairytale.”

As I wrote, the anxiety melted away and I¬†enjoyed dreaming about what a day in my Recovered might look like. Rather than create an elaborate fantasy (which I’d done in the past) I¬†worked hard to keep my expectations high, but realistic.

Back in November 2015, I was nine months into my intense recovery work. Most of my eating disorder behaviors were gone but I was still dealing with lingering eating disorder thoughts. So when I thought about a day in my Recovered life, I focused in on what my life would look like without eating disorder thoughts. A life where I could be fully present and show up and be seen and fight for a cause that I believe in.

It all felt aspirational,¬†yet¬†within reach. Not necessarily within my grasp, but¬†close enough that it didn’t paralyze me with fear and self-doubt.

A little over a year later, I get to be fully present in my life. Everyday I challenge myself to show up and be seen in an effort to fight for a cause I believe in.

Keep dreaming friends. Keep moving. I know the road is long and the journey slow, but you will get there. Where ever¬†“there” is for you.¬†You may move backwards, sideways, up or down. But if you keep moving, if you keep getting up,¬†you will move forward.

 

 

 

 

360: Painting with Mom

Hello Friends!

I decided to take the weekend off and post a recap on Monday.

So here we are! Week 2!

What a weekend! On Saturday, Mom and I¬†took our first painting class.¬†We heard great things about those painting classes where you sip wine while you paint so we decided to try one out. We booked two spots at Pinot’s Palette in Chesterfield. (The¬†sipping wine part is optional.¬†Mom and I sipped water.)

And we LOVED it! Neither one of us had ever really painted before so we had no idea what to expect. We each sat down and looked at our blank canvas with an open mind. A blank canvas can be really intimidating but Emily, the woman who led our class, put us at ease. She was great. Her directions were specific yet vague enough to give us the freedom to add our own unique touches.

Mom and I encouraged each other, laughed with each other and admired each others handiwork. Mom kept accidentally mixing extra colors into her background. I liked it because it added depth to her canvas. It also made me giggle because every time she did it she would chuckle and baffle, “Now how did I get green in there?!”

Mom and I had an absolute ball and¬†were a bit shocked and completely delighted by the outcome. We can’t wait to go back!

359: Heading home after Sunday dinner.

On Sunday we¬†did¬†what we do every Sunday: Dinner at my parents house. It is¬†one of my¬†absolute favorite traditions¬†(and not just because I don’t have to cook).¬†It started back when I was in law school. I’d drive¬†from my¬†apartment in Lawrence to¬†Mom and Dad’s¬†house¬†in Olathe. Back then, Dad was retired and cooked most of the meals. They were amazing.¬†His¬†shrimp marsala and chicken gorgonzola stand out as favorites. At some point¬†Dad went back to work so Mom resumed culinary control over Sunday Dinner.

When my parents moved to St. Louis a couple years ago we started them up again. First at our house (while Mom and Dad looked for a house) and then at their house. Every week, my Mom makes a delicious meal, yesterday it was honey mustard chicken (YUM), and often follows it up with a homemade dessert (her crisps are EVERYTHING).

Before and after dinner, the adults hang out upstairs talking, reading (Dad has Ron Chernow’s Hamilton. I couldn’t resist picking it up), and/or watching football. We turn off the tv during dinner, and Mom’s always the first to say, “Let’s turn the game back on.”¬†Especially if her beloved Packers are playing.¬†The boys play¬†downstairs, but often¬†gravitate upstairs to where we are.¬†I love that they love being around us. I know it won’t last forever so I¬†try to appreciate it.

Plus it gave me the opportunity to capture this moment forever:

 

358: My Heart

My boys. My life. For the last¬†six years I’ve spent most of my time with these two humans (with H joining the fray¬†four years ago). They bring me more joy than I could ever possibly put into words. That they bring each other the amount of joy captured in this photograph makes me feel complete in a way I never imagined.

PS. It’s not always like this. Most days their incessant bickering makes me wish they came with a mute button. Or maybe a pause button.¬†ūüėČ

Happy Monday friends!

 

06. January 2017 · 1 comment · Categories: 365 Project · Tags:

A few Christmases ago, my husband¬†gave me these flaming red¬†(I’m gonna call them) hot pants. I’ve worn them all of¬†three times.

Two of those times were in the last two weeks.

These red¬†pants are clearly awesome. Clearly. But it takes a certain degree of confidence to walk into the gym, or anywhere,¬†wearing red¬†hot pants (because people will look at you).¬†A few Christmases ago I didn’t have much confidence so I wasn’t comfortable with people looking at¬†me.¬†I couldn’t handle the thought of people¬†looking at me and judging the way my body looked.

My body image has evolved dramatically over the last two years. At the beginning of my recovery in 2015, my eating disorder controlled most of my thoughts. And she was a bully. A mean, nasty bully who loved nothing more than to make me feel horrible and then play the hero and numb the pain (that she caused).

During recovery, I focused a lot of my time and attention on building up and strengthening my healthy self. That meant first identifying I had a healthy self (I did!) Once I found her and heard her voice, I started noticing her more.

I noticed how every time she said something the eating disorder shut her down, belittled her, degraded her.

I noticed how sometimes she wouldn’t say anything because she knew she’d be ignored. Or how sometimes she kept quiet just to have a respite from the harassment.

The more I noticed her, the more I wanted to help her. Nurture her. Love her. So I started listening to her. Asking what she needed and then meeting those needs. She got stronger.  As my healthy self got stronger, the eating disorder got smaller. Quieter.

Eventually,¬†the berating and belittling faded away¬†and¬†I was able to say¬†goodbye to my eating disordered self (see A Dialogue).¬†For the first time in forty years, I didn’t have to hide, numb or defend myself against an unrelenting bully.¬†Finally, I¬†had a safe¬†space¬†on the inside to¬†continue healing.

Healing takes time (even in a safe space) so I didn’t immediately fall in love with my body. But¬†for the first time in my life, I didn’t hate it either.

In Cease-fire, I wrote:

By¬†changing¬†how I¬†looked at¬†my body,¬†I was able¬†to heal my¬†body image.¬†My body image now hovers¬†at¬†‚Äúneutral, with positive tendencies.‚ÄĚ I focus on who I am and what I can do as opposed to what I look like.¬†Maintaining and improving my body image¬†is still a work in progress and continues to¬†yield high returns. I am¬†free of¬†eating disorder thoughts¬†and¬†behaviors and, although you may not be able to see it or measure it, I‚Äôve changed. And its changed everything.

Changing the way I looked at my body took patience and¬†practice.¬†And while my eating disorder wasn’t around to tell me that my body¬†and I¬†weren’t good enough,¬†diet and intentional weight loss culture and popular culture¬†made sure I got the¬†message.

I spent the better part of 2016 learning how to love my body (I wrote about it here). My journey took almost a full year because it was full of triggers (ahem, diet and intentional weight loss culture and popular culture). Sometimes it took me a day, a week or a month to defuse and process through a trigger (self care, self care, self care).

I challenged, broke down and rebuilt many of my core values about being a woman in this world. I confronted my deeply held beliefs on health, weight, and beauty. I challenged the way I talk to and relate to myself and others. It took a lot of patience, self love and trial and error but I did it.

I’m still doing it.

Today, I wear my awesome flaming red hotpants, not because I love the way my body looks but because of the loving way I look at my body. I love the way my body feels. I love what my body does. I love that my body gives me the ability to live my life.

It’s like Taryn Brumfitt says, “My body is not an ornament, it is the vehicle to my dreams.”

Have a great weekend!

 

 

Does anyone ever read a book and try to absorb every single word because it’s so good and you want to remember everything about¬†it forever?

Or is it just me?

On a related note, I’m reading Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.

Her memoir is¬†honest, authentic, vulnerable and raw (I realize those might all mean the same thing).¬†Glennon is a¬†compelling writer and¬†a fiercely brave truth teller.¬†Love Warrior is, at times, so painfully honest it makes me squirm. But most of the time,¬†Glennon’s words¬†make me feel seen.¬†And although I’ve never spoken to her, she makes me feel heard.¬†She turned to an eating disorder very early in life¬†because she felt every nuance of life acutely and¬†didn’t know how to handle the overwhelming impact. Me too, Glennon, me too.

 

 

This morning I had a revelation.

I don’t actually have to take a picture of myself every single day.

When I came up with this challenge I¬†decided I had to take a picture of myself every single day and post it. Oh and write something about the picture.¬†Yeah, umm… no pressure!

It’s funny how we make rules (or set goals)¬†for ourselves and then act like they aren’t malleable. Self imposed rules or goals¬†must be malleable because as we learn and evolve¬†so must the¬†goals we set for¬†ourselves.

The stress of taking a picture of myself and posting something about it every single day for the next 362 days made me very uncomfortable. Specifically, my anxiety revved up which caused tension, stress and discomfort on my body.

So I listened.

This year my goal is to step into the arena more often than I did in 2016 (thank you Brené Brown for helping me find the words). Specifically, I want to step into the ED awareness and body positivity arenas. I admire so many women who put themselves in the arena everyday. Women like Sarah Vance, Meret Boxler, Christy Harrison, Melissa Toler, Isabel Foxen Duke and Taryn Brumfitt. (If you click on a name, it should link to a piece of her work.)

All of these women impacted my life last year. Their wisdom, their vulnerability, their compassion, their voice.¬†They’ve inspired me to use my voice more but I have to do it in a way that works best for me.

So I’m still going to try to post something everyday but it might be a picture from last year. Or last week. Or a few decades ago. This way I can write some of them ahead of time ūüėČ and I don’t have to worry about creating something new everyday. The last thing I want¬†is to pull focus away from my¬†family so I¬†get a good picture for the blog.

That said, I took the¬†above collage of pictures today. I’m wearing a super comfy white sweater my Mom got me last year. I love it. It makes me feel all snuggly and warm. I took these photos while I was at my computer writing. I felt happy.

In the top photo I’m laughing at how hard I’m trying to look natural while taking a selfie.¬†In the other two I’m thinking, “Does this look natural? I’m smiling. That’s natural, right?” And, “Oh,¬†if I cover part of my face it’s¬†a¬†playful selfie! That’s totally natural.”

So yeah, this is work in progress. It will likely evolve and change as I figure out how to take a natural looking selfie….

 

 

 

 

 

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” – Carrie Fisher.

This resolution definitely has me outside my comfort zone. Posting pictures of myself everyday is going to take some getting use to. I am not use to putting myself out there like this everyday. But I am standing in this discomfort and moving forward.

Picture 364. Steve and I took the boys to the Missouri History Museum. They have this super cool “St. Louis Time Machine” where you can take a picture and transport through time.¬† This is a picture of “Woman Playing Violin, Standing on Lily Pad at Shaw’s Garden in front of Linnean House,” circa 1900ish. And us.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve set a New Years Resolution every year of my adult life. And for most of those years my¬†resolution was about changing the way my body looked.

Until 2015.

In January 2015, my eating disorder controlled most of my thoughts. And, yes,¬†I wanted to change the way my body looked. But¬†I also knew committing to another “diet” probably wouldn’t work.¬†¬†So I did something different. I committed to writing for two hours every day.

Little did I know at the time, this decision, this slight shift in focus,¬†started my road to recovery. Writing¬†seemed fairly innocuous, easy even. So easy that¬†I could skip a day or two, or six or twenty. And spoiler alert, I didn’t write for two hours every day in 2015. But I wrote most days.

In January, I started journaling. In February 2015 I dipped my toes in the pool of recovery. By April I was in the thick of it. By November I started this blog.  I worked on my recovery every single day. Reading, writing, learning, talking. Some of it sucked. Some of it was meh. Some of it was okay. And, frankly, some of it was awesome. By the end of 2015, I was thisclose to Recovered.

So for 2016 I wanted to set another non-body focused New Years Resolution. Two books, 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin and Gwen Shubert Grabb and The Gifts of Imperfections by Brene Brown, played a significant role in my recovery so I was curious to see what might happen if I read more.

So I¬†decided¬†to read one book a month. I recognize to most this¬†might sound piddly, but to me this was a bold endeavor. And I almost did it. I read eleven books¬†in 2016¬†(I’m about half way through two¬†books right now¬†which¬†kinda makes¬†me feel like I met my goal. But I digress.)

Apart from the election, 2016 was phenomenal. It was my first full year as a Recovered person and what a freakin year to feel all the feelings. I know politically speaking 2017 will be a huge challenge, but I am united and emboldened with the other women and men in this movement.  I will stand. I will not be silent.

This year I aspire to do a couple of things. I want to write more and I want to post most more on the blog (I also want to read more because seriously 11 and 1/2, 1/2 books?!)

I’d like to see more women like me represented in the ED¬†and body positivity movements.¬†I see several amazing and inspiring women in their 20’s and 30’s¬†with thin bodies being bold and speaking out. I even get to see wonderful¬†women in larger¬†sized bodies! And YAY!!! I LOVE seeing ALL of them!!¬†I LOVE it!!! I didn’t see¬†these¬†amazing women when I was growing up. I didn’t even get to see¬†a lot of them¬†when I was in the thick of recovery at 39.

Now, at 40 years old and fully recovered,¬†I want more. Representation matters and¬†I want to see more women like me.¬†Middle aged women. Women¬†in medium/larger sized bodies. Rather than continue talking about representation, I’m going to start representing.

So in 2017 I will post a picture of myself everyday. Sometimes (like today) it will be a selfie, other times it will be group photo¬†or maybe even a candid shot. I don’t know. My husband, kids, family and friends will likely make an appearance or two.

Please feel free to interact and post a picture of yourself as well. I only ask that you not comment on physical appearance. Please focus your comments on¬†the expressions or emotions conveyed in the photos. I know it might be hard, but look past what the body looks like to you and see the emotions conveyed. I promise it’s much more interesting.

Anyway, the 365 Project, I’m excited about it.¬†I will post a picture everyday. Depending on what is happening that day there may or may not be commentary, but I will do it.

Promise.

Happy New Year!