“I don’t have time to be brought down”

Preach Serena Williams!

She is an inspiration to me of passion, work ethic and drive.  And now my girl crush has grown even more.  GTY_serena_williams_kab_150831_16x9_992

D’Arcy Maine from espnW.com wrote the following on the world’s number 1 tennis star and inspiration on August 31, 2015.

Serena Williams chatted with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America” prior to setting out on her quest to win the Grand Slam at the US Open.

Watch for no other reason than this absolutely incredible quote on her body image that everyone should print out and post on a wall to look at every day for inspiration: “It’s me, and I love me. I’ve learned to love me. I’ve been like this my whole life and I embrace me. I love how I look. I am a full woman and I’m strong, and I’m powerful, and I’m beautiful at the same time.”

While she clearly pays the bullies no mind, she perhaps threw the ultimate shade by putting the negative comments in perspective. “I don’t have time to be brought down, I’ve got too many things to do. I have Grand Slams to win, I have people to inspire, and that’s what I’m here for.”

“It’s me, and I love me. I’ve learned to love me. I’ve been like this my whole life and I embrace me. I love how I look. I am a full woman and I’m strong, and I’m powerful, and I’m beautiful at the same time.”

Watch the video clip here

Feeling feelings.

“Reality is perception’s twin, but they wear different outfits.”   imgres

My disorder is roaring its powerful presence and feeding on the triggers of tragedy and change.  I’m constantly amazed by how strong and powerful our minds are and how damning they can be to our own health and wellbeing.

I am used to seeing a problem and fixing it.  Having a plan and attacking it.  I like steps, to-do’s, goals and then results.

This long road of recovery is nothing like this. There is a plan… but the disorder doesn’t follow the rules and I can’t just put my head down and power through. My normal “go to” reaction of “all is good and making good progress” just isn’t true.

Reality vs perception right? 

The worst part of this point in recovery… the reality… is FEELING the FEELINGS.  A big part of disorders is learning how (and then perfecting) to separate feeling from your brain.  You disassociate… think about it this way… if you FELT truly as hungry or as conflicted or as tired and you couldn’t separate the feeling from your brain and have something override those feelings… you’d eat, take a rest day or have the non-disorder thinking win out.

So currently the reality of my situation is that reality and perception are battling… constantly… and the feeling…plain and tumblr_mve9f2UQmV1qfvq9bo1_1280simple… is… it SUCKS.  Check out this “feelings wheel.” Recently I was challenged to identify the FEELINGS I was experiencing not the thoughts or explanations associated with them.  I challenge you to take a look at the wheel and practice identifying your feelings – own them, say them and give them value.  DON’T think of certain ones as “good” or “bad,” they are all only legitimate and valued.

A friend said to me… isn’t TRUE Strength all about feeling these feelings?

I won’t go into all of my battles currently going on, as for each of us they are different… but just remember… this is HARD and it can SUCK!!  Own that and own and value your FEELINGS.

I will share two great quotes about feeling those feelings… being scared of them and still pushing forward…

“Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared.” – Eddie Rickenbacker

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

Stay strong… feel those feelings… and have TRUE Strength. 

Finding the sign… a little luck, a lot of love

Yesterday was so hectic and a workout didn’t seem doable but something kept pulling me towards Hoover Dam for the stairs.  ** If you’re not familiar with “The Hoover Stairs” two flights of stairs flank the dam… it’s about 105 stairs up and a killer workout.

I changed clothes in the parking lot (sorry for the indecent exposure) and set out for stair repeats. After each set I started doing a few moves in the grass. During plank (and while feeling like I wanted to stop) I saw the tiniest four leaf clover.

My mom had a knack of finding four leaf clovers and would have said this one was perfect because it was so small and slightly torn – she always valued “imperfections”.

I smiled and said thanks mom and took my butt back up the stairs.

The next round, in a completely different spot, I looked down and saw another and another, and another to the point that I was giggling in excitement.

I took the first two and left the rest for others to find some luck.

This poem seems so fitting always 

IMG_3366

TRUE Strength

An open letter of frustration

Dear XXX, url

I don’t feel like this “treatment” is working.  

Have I gained weight?  Yes… great

But at this moment I don’t feel any better… in fact… I feel worse.   

I still feel obsessed with the thought of food.  During an early session I was asked how much time I spend looking up recipes (that then I rarely actually make – especially for myself), how much of my day is taken up with the thought of my next meal, how much I just ate, or how long I can wait until I need to eat again (how long can I push it).  Sadly, when asked during that first session I had to realize and admit it was the vast majority of waking thoughts.  HOW SAD IS THAT?  I was amazed that other people DON’T think about this stuff on a constant basis.

Just think how much more energy I’d have if I wasn’t always “double thinking.”  

(Double thinking is my term for having this constant dialog while also conducting everyday life as a driven, type A, mom, professional, friend, and woman.)

So, again, I ask myself… how far have I progressed?  I feel uncomfortable in my own skin… I can tell my backside has rounded out some, which is better than skin and bones, but it doesn’t always make me feel better.  I still feel like my brain is in overdrive and I still don’t feel enjoyment out of eating.  I still eat the same things over and over.  Rules have been loosened, but are certainly still there.

Something I’ve been told during this long road is that while you get better the “voice” and doubt gets louder… it’s like it’s seeing your really starting to turn things around and it’s trying to fight against you.  How manipulative!  I continue to find amazing is how your own brain can fight against you.

What I still find amazing is how within one mind, one body, logic and the disorder can tell you two different things.  I logically know what I’m doing is positive and I can look back and see the progress I’ve made. BUT at the same time, I can feel uncomfortable and almost give up…

Working hard to ride on logic for a bit more while I hopefully continue to get strong enough to “outweigh” the disorder…

Stay strong – TRUE Strength

Feeding on strife

So what are you to do when you’re working on battling an eating disorder and because of life circumstances the thought of food just sounds gross?  Who is in control here?  Is the disorder drill sergeant calling the shots or is it the legitimate grief playing a role… both?

I recently learned during a session with my nutritionist that when people lose their appetite – legitimately lose it – not in a restriction/disorderly way… the first thing to go is a taste for meat.  The nutritionist said this holds true for women who have morning sickness, people in the hospital, those going through grief and any other reason you may have a physical loss of appetite.  Personally, for the time surrounding my mom’s passing the thought of chewing meat (sorry to be so graphic) made me gag.

To validate my feeling of sickness and grief we restructured my meal plans to simply get food in… whatever it was – forget variety and trying to expand the list or challenge myself to new meals (this is a goal of recovery).  At this point we decided surviving and just getting things in was most important.

prvDoor AjarSO… now the door has been cracked… the disorder sees this as an opportunity.  I share this because I want to give validity to those going through multiple struggles.  They are real.  AND at the same time, I hope to share some strength that you can make sure that in times of challenge you can keep moving forward and continue recovery.

Sometimes – just surviving IS recovering.  

What I’ve learned through my recovery journey is that the disorder often feeds on times of weakness and when you’re under eating it allows for the sergeant to become louder because you do not have enough fuel to think clearly or battle the disordered thoughts.  Often if the “voice” is getting louder… telling you you’re eating too much or need to do a two-a-day at the gym, it’s because you’re restricting and can’t battle.

We all have so much that we’re dealing with.  Sometimes it feels all too much to handle and at least for me, going back to restricting and over exercising is my comfort zone.  BUT I know the road to recovery is uphill… and worthwhile.

And the only way to travel it is with a clear mind and at the strongest I can be.

TRUE Strength

We are a part of the puzzle

imagesOne year, for the holidays my mom gave each of the children a copy of this poem and a puzzle piece.  It has traveled with me to several new jobs and offices and has started great conversations with friends and colleagues.  It is a gentle reminder that we all add to the larger puzzle picture.

As life feels like it is in free fall right now I reread this poem and remember all the pieces fit together and those people who and pieces that make up the picture are always there, no matter what.

Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

For some there are more pieces.

For others, the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.

Some seem to be born with a nearly completed puzzle.

And so it goes.

Souls going this way and that

trying to assemble the myriad of parts.

But know this; you do not have within yourself

All the pieces to your puzzle.

Like before the days when they sealed

Jigsaw puzzles in cellophane, insuring that

All the pieces were there.

Everyone carries with them at least one and probably

Many pieces to someone else’s puzzle.

Sometimes they know it.

Sometimes they don’t.

And when you present your piece

Which is worthless to you,

To another, whether you know it or not,

You are a messenger from the Most High.

…from Lawrence Kushner, Eyes Remade for Wonder, 1998

When your strength is stolen

Friday morning I listened to a voicemail from my dad asking me to call him back immediately.  

chosen because she was happiest when surrounded by family experiencing new things.

Fast forward several calls, a talk to the police, a call to my brother vacationing in England and several dizzy spells brought on by sobbing.

My mom had passed away… Very unexpectedly.

My mom was effervescent, full of laughter and life, kind beyond words, welcoming to every single person she encountered and … my best friend.

She was my safe place, my role model, the one who got me before I even understood what I was feeling; she challenged me and celebrated all moments (victories and defeats). She was the glue of our family, who kept the peace and made everyone feel valued and special.

She was my mom, and now more importantly, she was Baylor and Nola’s Gram. Or as she liked to sign letters: “Grim” because when B and N say Gram it sounds a little more like a soft i sound. She came to my rescue when I was panicking about a sick child and would happily giggle while playing on the floor and up and down slides with the twins. She was silly and loving and thought that they we’re smart beyond their years. She mailed them fun notes and the ones that were 3 feet by 2 feet had outlines of her hands and feet. (Those will never be thrown out.)

She was the person who gave me confidence in my own ability to be a mom.

She also gave me strength to get healthier and gently stuck with me through the worst of my sickness and ever so steadily helped push me forward. She was my strength.

I feel as though my daughters have been cheated. I know I am biased, but my mom was so creative, so encouraging, so loving and exciting. She filled a room with light and fun. They deserved more time with her. SHE deserved more time with THEM.

The thought that keeps bringing me to my knees is the fear that Baylor and Nola won’t remember her. Throughout my recovery journey the strongest motivating element has been Baylor and Nola having a strong, healthy mom and role model.  The desire to be at my best has grown tenfold because now, I will work everyday to emulate, channel, and bring her spirit to life.

I know she would tell me, this isn’t goodbye, it’s just see you later. At her funeral I said it is now our job to live with our hearts full, laugh as loudly as possible, and keep our spirit full of life because that’s how she lived everyday.

I know right now my heart is broken and my strength has been stolen but I will work everyday to honor her heart, laughter and spirit. These are her legacy, we are her legacy. I’ll make sure it’s honored and remembered.

Please work hard to keep your TRUE Strength.