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. 🙂

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. 😉

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 “neutral, with positive tendencies.” 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’ve 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 😉 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!

 

bodyimage

I started the Food: Friend or Frenemy series almost nine months ago. At the time, my relationship with food was tricky and I wasn’t entirely sure it could get any better. After all, in our culture, an unhealthy, or complicated, relationship with food tends to be the rule, not the exception. I figured food and I were frenemies for life.

I was wrong.

It turns out food isn’t my friend or my frenemy. Food is fuel. Food fuels my body so I can do all the things I want to do. Follow my passions, be in the moment, connect with family and friends. My body is a vehicle that enables me to do absolutely amazing things and have soul enriching experiences.

Deconstructing my relationship with food, realizing my body was in the best position to determine what it should use for fuel, then learning to not only listen to, but trust, my body and let it make food related decisions took a lot of time, patience, vulnerability, and an incredible amount of trial and error.

I would love to give you a step-by-step guide on how I found peace with food. But the truth is, much like eating disorder recovery, finding peace with food isn’t a step-by-step process. It’s an expedition. A quest, if you will.

A quest that involves a lot of work. Challenging thoughts and behaviors. Challenging how we speak to and relate to friends and loved ones. Challenging the messages we see and hear everyday.

While I can’t do a step-by-step guide, I’d like to share a few things I learned, and resources I found helpful on my quest.

Mental Health Management Must be a Top Priority

I am a highly sensitive person living with anxiety and depression. Which means I am very easily triggered. For decades, my emotional fragility led me to seek refuge in an insidious eating disorder. I was so desperate to escape the chaos of emotions, I failed to notice the eating disorder was killing me.

Through recovery I started to experience feelings and realize they are the life blood of connection.  Feelings are incredibly powerful and can bring people together or tear them apart. Feelings are the essence of life.

Hi! I am a highly sensitive person stopped at a stoplight!

Hi! I am a highly sensitive person stopped at a stoplight 🙂

Now that I am eating disorder free, I feel life. All of it. Good and bad. Life can get pretty overwhelming at times, so I have to take affirmative steps to maintain my baseline. To me, baseline is feeling centered, connected and able to be in the moment.

Baseline doesn’t come naturally so I have to work at it. For me that means, writing (journaling), moving my body, connecting with friends, and meditation (yoga or holding space to breathe). If I do those things regularly, I am able to maintain baseline pretty effectively. I can even handle minor triggers here and there.

However, anxiety or depression still have the power to blind side me. Sometimes by a massive trigger (an election maybe), other times it might be nothing.

When my anxiety and/or depression flare up things start to spiral. I feel bad, sad, stressed and uncomfortable in my own skin. Suddenly daily tasks like taking the boys to school  (which requires me to get dressed and leave the house), cleaning the house, making dinner or just interacting with people seem like monumental tasks.

My self-esteem plummets and all I can see or recognize are my faults which fuels both the depression and anxiety. When I am in it, it feels like I’m trapped in a pitch black closet with only fear and shame as companions. It is incredibly isolating and frightening.

With practice and patience. I’m training myself to stop, breathe and feel my way through the feelings. Even the scary ones. I know if I feel the feelings, they will pass. Even the sad, scary, stressful ones. But if I don’t allow myself to feel, or I try to hide from the feelings, they get trapped inside. My trapped feelings tend to manifest outwardly as negativity, lack of patience, anger, frustration, isolation and self-hatred.

Sometimes I can’t handle the feelings right away. Sometimes I need a distraction first. A breather. And that is okay too. But I always try to come back to the feelings as soon as I can. I know if I don’t they will only get worse.

This is still a work in progress and one I am committed to. I know if I take care of my mental health first, my life and relationships are far more rich and rewarding.

Resources: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton. Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan. Magic Lessons Podcast Ep. 209 Glennon Melton.

Radical Self-Love

stuart-smalley-good-enough

Preach it, Stuart Smalley! PREACH!!

Learning about, accepting and loving my body for all the amazing things it enables me to do (as opposed to focusing on what my body looks like) was transformative. And hard AF (Mom and Dad: AF means “as fuck”).

I learned to love who I am and what my body can do, but man oh man, is it hard AF to always love the way my body looks. Especially in pictures or on film.  I don’t normally swear in posts but trying to accept and love the way my body looks in a culture that idolizes thinness, feels like swimming upstream at Niagra Falls.

But I’m getting there. Please understand this is not an invitation for comments on my appearance (in fact, please don’t). I’m just being honest about how hard it is to love my body when I am surrounded, and often bombarded, with images that promote “thinness” as the ideal standard for beauty and body type.

These images and the “thinness is ideal” narrative, saturate our culture. And it goes deep. Think about the lack of size diversity in books, film, television, the media and on the internet. Look at children’s toys. Dolls, Barbie, GI Joe, Star Wars figures, princesses. Look at children’s television and movies. They primarily represent one body type. I can think of one size diverse princess, Princess Fiona. And she’s a green ogre.

My kinda Princess!

My kinda Princess!

We are indoctrinated into this “thinness is ideal” culture before we can even consent to it. We grow up playing with toys, reading books and seeing films that represent one body type. And as we get older our bodies change, but theirs don’t.

I internalized this as there being something wrong with me. My body never looked like the bodies I saw on tv, in books or magazines. My body never looked like the Barbies or dolls I played with. The only time I really saw a size diverse kid, she/he was a sidekick or a villain. And he/she was usually made fun of or defined by his/her large body.

I wanted to be Stacy from The Babysitters Club. I wanted to be Jessica from Sweet Valley High. I wanted to be Stephanie Zinone from Grease 2. Oh and I REALLY wanted to be Laura Holt from Remington Steele.

But I didn’t look like them. I thought if I was thin then I would look like them. And if I looked like them, then I would be accepted and belong. I would matter.

I didn’t trust my own opinion, so I depended on peers and adults to validate my appearance and tell me I belonged. Yet, no matter what people said, I never felt good enough.

The pursuit of positive body comments from others felt like chasing a high. “Next time so and so sees me, he/she is going to be totally FLOORED! I’m going to look so thin and gorgeous!”

I spent most of my life chasing that high.

Women are groomed to believe that our bodies are our voice. If we are thin and beautiful we will be heard. We will be respected. Yet, even when I was thinner I still felt voiceless. The mantra that everything in my life would fall into place and I would live my best life if my body was smaller, thinner, prettier was ingrained so deep in my subconscious it had become one of my core values.

As I started looking deeper into my relationship with food and becoming more open to a relationship with my body, I started focusing more and more on self-love and unconditional body acceptance. As I learned to love and accept my body, I started to see the deeply systemic nature of the “thinness is ideal” mentally.

And say a heartfelt, “FU!”

Radical self-love means no matter how or what I think about myself and/or my body in any given moment, I tell myself (over and over if necessary) that I am enough and I matter. As is, no buts.

At first, it felt completely unnatural, counterintuitive (I thought we were supposed to focus on what we needed to improve about ourselves), and incredibly selfish. Learning to love and accept myself and my body for what it is in any given moment (even in the face of negative body comments) took a tremendous amount of patience, journaling, positive affirmations, breathing, boundary setting, therapy, and girl time.

I love my body exactly as it is right now. And if it’s a little different tomorrow, I’ll love it just the same. Because I love myself and my body, I take care of it, I listen to it, I nurture it. My body thanks me by enabling me to do all the things I love to do.

My body gave me some incredible moments this year. Here are a few:

img_8231 img_7810img_0492img_0243img_0381

 

Resources: Big Girl: How I Gave up Dieting and Got a Life by Kelsey Miller. Meret Boxler’s Life Unrestricted Podcast, episode 9: Linda Bacon. Am I against weight loss as a body positive activist? by Sarah Vance.

Seeing diet and intentional weight loss culture for what it is – An obscenely profitable scam at best or, at worst, a mechanism to perpetuate systemic patriarchy and misogyny.

in-a-society-that-profits-from-your-self-doubt-li-men-s-polo-shirt

The diet and intentional weight-loss industry is the monetization of the “thinness is ideal” mentality. It espouses health and happiness while belittling and shaming its customers. Diets thrive on the fallacy of long term weight-loss. They promise to fulfill one’s unrelenting desire to fit into the “thinness is ideal” standard.

“Lose weight, feel great!”

“Lose weight, get healthy!”

“Lose weight to live your best life!”

And it’s all bullshit. Diets and intentional weight loss programs have a ninety-five percent failure rate. That’s not rhetoric, that’s science. Intentional weight loss programs make money because they are designed to fail. You don’t fail a diet. The diet was created to fail you.

That ninety-five percent failure rate built a sixty billion dollar industry.

And we still so desperately want it all to work, but it doesn’t. Eating disorders and obesity are more prevalent than ever. Girls as young as seven or eight start dieting, comparing and criticizing their bodies. Too many women spend precious mental energy obsessing about what they’re going to eat and what their body looks like. Too many women hate themselves because they don’t feel like they are pretty or thin enough. They feel like failures because they don’t fit into the incredibly narrow “thinness is ideal” standard.

No thanks.

I’ve learned weight loss doesn’t define happiness or even health. I do. What I do with my body, how I move it and how I take care of it, have much more of an impact on my health and happiness than what my body weighs.

Resources: Health at Every Size and Body Respect by Linda Bacon. Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

livelovelearn.comI have tried to write the final post in my Food: Friend or Frenemy series for over two months (it took a solid four months to de-weaponize food and come to peace with it). I lost count of how many times I sat in front of my computer, put my hands on the keys, then got up and walked away.

Anxiety is like a pesky fly in the house. At first, it’s annoying but you can deal with it. Then the noisy little sucker starts dive bombing and doing loud flybys and you can’t focus on anything other than getting rid of that damn fly.

I gave myself permission to focus on defusing the anxiety. I knew I wouldn’t be able to figure out the trigger until I got rid of the anxiety.  And sure enough, after two months, and a lot of defusing, I figured out the trigger. It’s a trigger I’ve known about for well over a year but failed to recognize despite it’s familiarity.

Perfectionism.

Brené Brown described perfectionism in Daring Greatly asthe belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.” Sister Brené continued, “Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen.”

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert added more nuance to Brené’s definition. Gilbert wrote about a novelist named Robert Stone who “joked that he possessed the two worst qualities imaginable in a writer: He was lazy, and he was a perfectionist.” She continued, “Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes- but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work. Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don’t even bother trying to be creative in the first place.”

Liz’s Gilbert’s definition of a lazy perfectionist fits me to a “T.” I know what I write won’t be perfect and may open me up to blame, judgment and shame. So when I sit down to write for the blog my inner lazy perfectionist starts poking my anxiety.

However, the great thing about identifying the trigger is I can develop tools to manage it. One tool I use to deal with my lazy perfectionist tendencies, is an affirmation from Brené Brown.

Unsued creativity is not benign It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame.

This quote is so important I made it the wallpaper on my phone.  It serves as a daily (hourly or minute by minute) reminder that expressing my creativity has to be a top priority. Writing is my primary creative outlet. I need it, I crave it. This mantra reminds me that if I don’t express my creativity, it will manifest negatively inside my body. So I have to write. I have to create. What I write may not be perfect or right or even good. But it’s me. And I’m trying.