When flowers are just the icing on the cake

Today is my wedding anniversary and last night my husband and I were looking at each other and asking , “What should we do to celebrate?” Neither of us had any great ideas other than our usual… cook a nice meal together, enjoy a good bottle of wine, and maybe break out the massage table.
A heaviness started to come over me. I was fighting to hold back tears as we lay on the couch together, chit-chatting about all that’s going on in our life.
I knew I was feeling. I just didn’t know what I was feeling.
I realized I was feeling something about the fact that next week he was planning to take a day off to go fishing and asked me to cover for the fish farm, and that the following weekend he’s away for the whole weekend for his cousin’s stag-do and I’d be on fish duty again.
I could identify a Sadness, but I didn’t know why. And I was judging my own sadness. “You should be grateful Kendra for what you have.” “Stop letting your hormones dictate your happiness.”
My judgemental inner critic carried on… “Stop being so controlling! He never gets a break from the fish, let him have a couple of days off without spoiling it for him!”
I noticed the expectation… “Tonight and tomorrow should be filled with romance and intimate connection. That’s what’s supposed to happen to have a healthy marriage.”
And I noticed some fear creeping in… “If you say the wrong thing you’re going to totally blow it and ruin the night and your anniversary.”
Thankfully I knew enough to collect myself before speaking, otherwise it would be a jumbled gush of emotion that would only cause more pain and disconnection. I gave myself some space to just be and let the tears brim until I could find some loving words to express how I was feeling.
After a good 5 minutes of giving myself the time to sit and just be held in his arms, I realized that the inner conflict I felt all linked back to the core feelings that Liberty taught us about on the True You Italia retreat. I was super grateful I finally had a name for them.
After another 5 minutes of just breathing and allowing the feelings to just be, I was able to use the new words I learned and express myself in a way that could be heard.
I was able to tell him, ‘I am Glad for you that next week you have some time off. I’m feeling Guilty that I’ve had more time away than you have had over the past couple of years. I am Sad that we don’t get to have full days off together to go experience the world like we used to.’
And I started to express a desire of mine. ‘I feel like something is missing. I want more adventure, fun, a break from the norm with you. Yes, we get to spend time together, and don’t get me wrong, having 2 meals a day together is something special that I cherish. But I need more.’
Of course, I couldn’t quite place my finger on what that ‘more’ was right then and there, leaving him in a state of confusion. (Those damn women! 🙂 )
He left for his final fish feeding round of the day, and as I was in the shower it dawned on me (ever notice moments of brilliance always happen in the shower?)…
I want to be surprised!!!!
So I texted him to let him know.
This in and of itself was monumental. A change in pattern for me.
Instead of downplaying and hiding my true desire, telling myself that I am silly, or undeserving, or wrong somehow for having a need, I shared it with him in the moment.
It also dawned on me that I have a part to play in the element of surprise in our relationship. So I got a bit silly.
And pulled out on 8 year old fancy dress costume that he had bought me for my birthday when we first met… “Maybe I’ll try it on and see if it still fits.”, I thought.
It did more than fit. As I pulled on my yellow and black stripey leg warmers, and threw on my pair of bee wings, I felt like a kid again! The same childlike innocence that was a cornerstone of our initial romance.
And I realized what I was missing in addition to Surprise.
Play-time!!
We have been so busy ‘working’ at getting our businesses to a point of stability that we’ve forgotten how to play.
Last night gave me a much needed reminder that I need to play more, work less.
So as I was buzzing around the kitchen, preparing dinner as usual, I got to do it with a smile on my face, and more importantly, on my heart. Not only was I having fun dressing up for no reason at all on a random Tuesday night other than because I felt like it, I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he came home.
The story could’ve stopped there, but it got even better.
He came home from a planned stop at the shop, and behind his back pulled out a brightly coloured bouquet of flowers.
This from a man who 8 years ago kindly forewarned me… “Just for the record, I don’t do flowers. They’re just going to die.” (Ever the practical one.)
“I only just got your text.”, he said. “I was planning to surprise you anyway.”
The smile on my heart grew. And not just because of his surprise of the flowers, but because I had given myself a gift first.
I gave myself the space to feel, express myself without judgement, wake up to my own desires, and fulfill them for myself (that bee outfit won’t be packed away at the back of closet after this).
It was from a place of already being filled up, that I was able to receive his gift.
It was the icing on the cake.
All I can say is, give yourself the space to do the same. Feel, express, name your own desires, and start to meet them for yourself. Basically, give yourself the love you’re probably looking for.
Go play, be silly, have an adventure, surprise yourself and the ones you love.
You won’t be disappointed, promise.
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Learning to Breathe

This story was written by Corinne Birchard. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!


This was supposed to be the year of everything. Senior year of college. I was so excited to start this year as I had big goals and aspirations for the up-coming cross country season. I dedicated my summer solely to training;  I discussed with my mom the idea of not getting a summer job to maximum my time for getting in my hour long endurance runs, my lifting session, my shakeout second run of the day, and my routine of “little things” to promote recovery, including sleep. My parents not only understood that, but encouraged me to hold off on getting a summer job so I could focus my energies on training. So that was my summer.

I was so excited to go back to school and compete in my class cross country season as a Division I runner. And to learn and complete my degree in biology, of course, but I invested so much time in running during my time off from school that I couldn’t wait to taste the delicious fruits of my labor.

Turns out they weren’t so delicious.

While I was focusing my energies on training, I kept putting off the dreading feeling of leaving the home I love so much. This year was different from other years. The early years of college, I would be so excited to go back to school and reconnect with my roommates and teammates, train hard and study hard. Of course, I would miss my family and friends and boyfriend back home, but the college atmosphere was different, almost refreshing. New.

Now, things are different. With one year left of college, I had my future career to look at, deciding where to get my masters of education, spending time with my parents that I enjoy so much, and planning a future with my then-boyfriend, now fiancé. And, life happened back up at school. I grew apart from people whom I was close with at the beginning. That happens, that’s okay. I went through mindset changes that maybe didn’t exactly line up with the mindset of others on my team (some may say I take my sport too seriously, but I’ve always been a serious person. That’s how I perform my best.)

I wish I realized this earlier, but underneath the focus of putting forth my best effort in training, I was masking the dread of going back to an environment in which I knew would be different.

But when I realized it, it hit me like a ton of bricks straight to the chest. I felt like I was suffocating.

The year I was expecting to be the best year ever wasn’t turning out that way. Training was going okay, but I didn’t feel comfortable with where I was at. Between the different training philosophies, eating lifestyles, practice conflicts, and levels of interest in competing and training, I felt like I was isolated and had no one to connect to. I thought that it would pass, maybe it was just everyone was adjusting to being back at school again.

But weeks went on and I never felt more alone surrounded by people. I dreaded going to practice. I ran with others, but being with people felt like I was suffocating. I would break off and run by myself, and that was equally as suffocating. I couldn’t escape it. The pressure would follow me back to my apartment and I felt uncomfortable in what was supposed to be the comfort of my own space. It felt like living in a compacted bubble that was ever pressing down on my chest.

The worst was when that pressure, the suffocating, came crashing down in my first race of the season. I went in with a happy heart and a happy head (I thought) and was looking forward to seeing how I would perform. Mid-way through the 6K race, the pressure came back and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

Not exactly the way I wanted my first race as a senior to go. It was embarrassing. My parents drove for eight hours to come watch me run and spend the day with me. I felt like I let them down, and cried in the shower as they waited in my living room to go out to dinner. They had no idea.

In a place in which I was surrounded by positive energy, I encountered negative energy at an unrelenting rate. The pressure, the suffocation would squeeze tears from my eyes on my way to class, or practice, or on my way home. But I couldn’t tell anyone there; I was colloquially known in the athletic department and on my team as the girl who was always smiling, always happy, such a great big smile on my face.

Yes, I’m smiling, but on the inside, I’m crying. I began counting down the days to graduation, not because it would a joyous occasion, but because that meant I could leave this place for good.

I decided to take a weekend away. I needed a change of scenery, a change of people, a change of everything. I couldn’t wait to leave.

And thank God I did. I left my computer at my apartment and my phone’s touch screen wasn’t working too well, so I only used it to get in contact with people on an urgent basis (like, where was my ride from the airport, and yes, I landed safely, because just to type those five or six words took a solid ten minutes. I couldn’t be bothered with that the entire weekend).

With the first breath of fresh air I took in when the flight landed, I felt all the negativity leave my body. I was able to breathe again.

Over the course of that weekend, I got the best sleep I’ve been able to get since I went back to school. I really, truly, genuinely laughed so hard in the pee-your-pants-but-you-don’t-care type of way. I genuinely smiled so much (a real, tooth-grinning smile) that my jaw cramped up.

And, I felt independent. With the suffocation gone, I felt like I could actually do things I wanted to do, instead of veg on the couch post-run thinking of all the things I could be doing but instead wasting my day away. Slowly but surely I felt strength come back to my body in the form of the warm light ability to freely breathe.

I didn’t know how much I needed to get away, but I’m glad I did. I learned so much about myself that weekend. Like I truly enjoy math and maybe I should have majored in math instead, or that I am actually able to strike up a conversation with a person I just met, instead of waiting for her to dictate the conversation.

The best part was that the happiness I felt in the core of my body didn’t leave me when I stepped on the flight back to school. Instead, I think it grew and made me more confident. I reached out to a friend and teammate who I haven’t really spoken to since the beginning of the year due to scheduling conflicts and I told her how I was feeling. It felt so good to actually tell someone, instead of letting the feeling suffocate me. I became more comfortable reaching out for help from different resources, like my coach, my sports psychologist, my journal, and you, who is reading this story. The more I shared how I felt, the more comfortable I felt, because I wasn’t alone.

The more I talked, the more I realized that there were changes I could make myself to help me truly enjoy my last year at school. I happily decided to switch my degree from a BS in biological sciences to a BA, and resign a class I really wasn’t enjoying or benefiting from. I explored places and initiated activities with my friends, either going out on adventures in town or finding a new place to study.

And, most importantly, I felt like I was able to breathe. I was able to breathe without restriction.

What I learned from this experience that it is so important to do what makes you happy. Don’t worry about obtaining perfection. Don’t worry about obtaining the ideal “senior season” because there will be someone that is out of your control that may change that vision in an instant. Instead, be malleable. Be open. Be present. Be you, do what makes you happy in that moment, and breathe freely.

Grandpa’s Garden

What I don’t want you to know about me is that a lot of times I am driving around my neighborhood and most of South Wales, and all the gray pebbledash (aka stucco) houses stained with diesel smut really gets me down.

I want to see color! Vibrancy! Variety! Wooden cladding with beautiful paint jobs. Nicely decorated front porches and whitewashed fences.

I’m not in Kansas anymore though, and unlike OZ, all I can see is gray.

The part that I don’t want you to know about is that I am starting to resent where I live. I feel stifled. And I judge myself harshly for feeling this way.

‘Grow up. Get a life. Stop judging your surroundings. You should be happy with what you have. Stop being so superficial that you let a bit of dirt and gray get you down.’, my inner critic dutifully chides away.

A couple of months ago I was walking towards the Swansea waterfront for a jog on the beach. The neighborhood I was walking through… let’s just say it could use a facelift. Terraced pebble-dash houses with concrete slabs passing for a garden, bleeding into asphalt pavement (aka sidewalk). No grass. No trees. No sign of life.

Except for one.

One neighbor in the 4 or so blocks I walked was doing life on their own terms. They had created an actual garden in their 10’ x 6’ plot of front yard and humongous tulips were in full bloom, all different colors. You could tell it was cared for.

It was so beautiful, and so starkly different from it’s surroundings, that I stopped and took a picture to capture this memory. Imprint the beauty. Make it last.

grandpas garden

A true testimony to the idea that when you shine your light, you impact others.

Two days ago, I was again going for a jog along the beach, and The Beatles decided to come with me. ‘I am he, as you are he, as you are me, and we are all together’ started running through my head.

I never could really understand the point of this particular song. The Eggman? The Walrus?

But as I fell into a rhythmic pace over the sands of Swansea Bay, it clicked. I didn’t have to be high on LSD to get the point, at least of this first line.

I am he: I want beauty in my life and so does the person who takes the time to make this garden beautiful.

As you are he: If you want beauty in your life, you’re just like him too.

As you are me: Oh cool, we both crave beauty (and both probably winge when it’s lacking).

And we are all together.

So if we’re really all together, than I’ve got some socks to pull up because ‘he’ is clearly doing his part in creating beauty, and all I’m doing is getting more and more depressed the more I don’t see it.

So two days ago I did something different.

Drug-free but high on endorphins from my run, I went to my car, took out a pen and paper, and wrote this neighbor a note of thanks. ‘Thank you for caring enough to make Swansea beautiful.’

I walked over to the garden (this time, huge purple roses in bloom; took my breath away so much I forgot to take a picture). I was going to leave my note in the mailbox but heard voices on the other side of the door, and sure enough an elderly man opened the door as he was was about to go walk his dog.

I thanked him for creating a beautiful garden.

He had no clue what this Crazy American was on about.

But he proudly told me about the days where he would get up every morning, walk over to the university, tend to the gardens there, and then pick up his grandkids from school.

I still don’t know who the Eggman is. Or the Walrus.

But lesson #1 from the Beatles I now know: People around us can teach us about, and heal, our soul cravings.

I crave beauty. I need it in my life. I know this because when I see someone else create beauty, I am attracted to it.

And now I am challenged to create it. Because I am he. And if this grandpa can conjure up some beauty, then so can I.

Whether it’s by planting flowers, cutting my grass, painting my nails, or writing a note of gratitude…

I get to choose. I get to let the light bouncing off my soul cravings, light up others around me.

Lesson #2 from the Beatles: I am he, and you are he, and you are me, and we are altogether… works not only with beauty, but with all the crap in life too. Our suffering is the same.

As different as we might think we are from those around us who suffer, we are not.

We are in this together. We create beauty together, we suffer together, we heal together.

Perhaps that’s the Eggman. The Walrus. I think I am so different… I mean, heck, I don’t have a bald head or tusks. I’m not a retired grandpa who maintains his horticultural hobbies.

But inside we’re all the same. So when you come across someone who is suffering, remember that their suffering is yours too.

Thursday happened to be the first ever World Eating Disorder Action Day, which makes this Eggman and Walrus concept even more profound. At the crux of an eating disorder you’ve got a massive loss of identity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the person sitting across from me say, ‘I don’t know who I am anymore’.

So if that is the suffering of someone with an eating disorder, all the more reason for the rest of us to shine our light so that they’ve got a chance to find themselves through the light they are attracted to. Just like grandpa’s garden reminded me of my soul craving for beauty, and experiencing it healed a part of me.

I have no idea what grandpa saw in me other than that Crazy American, but I would like to think that somehow in helping me heal my suffering, some of his was healed too. Maybe he felt alone, unappreciated, forgotten and someone noticing his soul creation gave him some hope or something. Who knows.

But I do know that sometimes I feel alone, unappreciated, forgotten.

So maybe our suffering is the same. Maybe your suffering is the same. Maybe we can heal it all together.

Tears for Fears

I’m a big fan of house music, especially remixes that highlight the hidden beat of a song that otherwise falls into the ‘meh’ category, but now you can’t stop moving to. Back in 2003/2004/maybe 2005, my boyfriend at the time and some friends went to the Miami Winter Music Conference; my first time in the presence of some DJ greats. Aside from an encounter with an overdose (not my own thankfully), I was in my element.

The music, the energy, the weather. I am seriously convinced that God is DJ.

Especially when a remix of Tears for Fears’ “Shout” was played. (I still can’t find which remix it was and it’s driving me nuts, so if anyone remembers the version with special emphasis on the xylophone sound and a kick ass bass, plz let me know!!)

A couple weeks later we were all back in NYC leaving a club where the mix had just come on, and there was like 5 of us singing and dancing in the streets of the Bowery:

‘Shout! Shout! Let it all out!

These are the things I can do without

Come on, I’m talking to you, Come on’

One of my best NYC living memories.

So what’s this got to do with anything?

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been confronted with a lot of tears. Tears of my own, and tears of other women on their True You Journey.

Ten/Fifteen years ago, you wouldn’t catch me dead with tears for fears or any other reason.

Today though, tears are a relatively common occurrence.

My tears, and the tears I’ve been privvy to recently, have been tears for a variety of reasons.

Uncovering the Truth of who we are, experiencing Love in a new way, and being so touched that all we can do is let it all out. Tears for saying goodbye… to old stories we were telling ourselves… the things we finally realized we could do without, but had been holding on to for so long. And yes, even some tears for Fears. The fear and uncertainty of what will be on the other side of letting the old stories go, and letting in the Truth and Love?

What I was reminded of this week is that shedding tears is a good thing. All those years I lived with dry eyes, a good part of me was dead inside.

The more I wake up, the more I cry. (And sing, and dance, in the streets of New York.)

My tears and those of these women were signs that we’re waking up; our True You is coming to the surface.

So have a think for yourself. When was the last time you cried? Shouted?

When was the last time you let it all out?

Got rid of the things you can live without?

C’mon, I’m talking to you! C’mon! 🙂

#bu29days: Day 29: Go be your Quintessential Self

aka What does Positraction have to do with bulimia?

aka Why would I turn myself ON?

Nine years ago my sister and a friend were visiting me in London, and after we watched ‘My Cousin Vinny’, for the umpteenth time, I remember looking at my sister and exclaiming, ‘There is positraction in my life!’

I don’t remember what it was that I was actually referring to, and to be fair I had probably had a glass or two of wine.

But the idea that ‘My Cousin Vinny‘ can explain my life and my story with bulimia is once again proven true.

This blog series started with the idea that we can get stuck in the mud sometimes, and that part of the answer is to go be your quintessential self. Today it ends with Positraction.

If you don’t know what positraction is (don’t worry, I didn’t either at first), picture this scene (bold emphasis mine).

Marisa Tomei’s character has been called to the witness stand and she’s explaining how you can tell which car made the tire tracks that were being used as evidence against the defendants.

Mona Lisa Vito: The car that made these two, equal-length tire marks had positraction. You can’t make those marks without positraction, which was not available on the ’64 Buick Skylark!

Vinny Gambini: And why not? What is positraction?

Mona Lisa Vito: It’s a limited slip differential which distributes power equally to both the right and left tires. The ’64 Skylark had a regular differential, which, anyone who’s been stuck in the mud in Alabama knows, you step on the gas, one tire spins, the other tire does nothing.

[the jury members nod, with murmurs of “yes,” “that’s right,” etc]

Vinny Gambini: Is that it?

Mona Lisa Vito: No, there’s more! You see? When the left tire mark goes up on the curb and the right tire mark stays flat and even? Well, the ’64 Skylark had a solid rear axle, so when the left tire would go up on the curb, the right tire would tilt out and ride along its edge. But that didn’t happen here. The tire mark stayed flat and even. This car had an independent rear suspension.

Now, I am not a mechanic and have absolutely zero interest in the inner workings of a car other than knowing they get me from A to B.

But here’s what I can appreciate about her testimony:

Positraction: Provides balance and keeps you from getting stuck in the mud. 

Independent rear suspension: Easily gets you over the bumps.

When it comes to bulimia, there is both mud and bumps, and we need our own version of Positraction with an Independent Rear Suspension to find a way out.

If you think back to that Layer Cake I talked about the other day, about what actually lies beneath the surface of an eating disorder, the muddiest place is in that trifecta of Shame, Fear, and Vulnerability.

What kind of Positraction is needed here so you don’t get stuck in the mud?

  • A sense of worthiness. A deep knowing that ‘I am Enough as I am’, regardless of any perceived lack.
  • A heavy dose of Love. Understanding what love actually is, and making choices that come from a place of Love instead of Fear; Because Love Never Fails.
  • The courage to Let Go. To let go of expectations for our lives, To let go of outcomes having to look a certain way. To let go of needing certainty and control. It’s OK to Let Go and learn to dance comfortably with vulnerability instead.
  • And with all of that, embracing the truth that I’m Free to be Me.

Even out of the mud there are bumps, and so you need an Independent Rear Suspension made up of the following.

  1. Truth Sets Me Free. The Truth of who you are inherently created to be. Accessing your vulnerable truth, whether that’s uncomfortable feelings or confusion about what you believe. And being able to sift through the should’s, have to’, need to’s, goods and bads, that get thrown at us daily, and find the truth instead.
  2. I am not Defined by What my Body Looks Like. Because your heart, mind, and soul is beautiful. And your body is beautifully and wonderfully made even it is doesn’t look like the airbrushed supermodel on the cover of a magazine.
  3. I Choose Me. Because your dreams, wants, and desires matter. Because you need to refuel before you can fully give to others. Which is critical because:
  4. I am Here to Shine. Your gifts, passions, talents, interests, personality, and quirks are uniquely yours. And the world needs them. It needs you to turn your light on and Shine.

Put all that together and you get another layer cake that looks something like this:

Cake (1)

And it tastes good too.

These principles, I call them True You Truths, helped me find a way out from bulimia, and they now help me stay connected to me on a daily basis.

It’s OK to Let Go: Then, I had to let go of fitting into a size 4 pair of jeans. I had to let go of being ‘a runner’. Now, I have to let go of how many people turn up to a workshop I am hosting for the first time, or how many followers there are (or aren’t) on my blog, or how clean or messy my house is, or what my marriage looks like compared to what I think it’s ‘supposed to’ .

I am Enough as I am: Then, I had to accept that even if I was still binging, the fact I had chosen to stop purging was enough. I was enough even though I wasn’t perfect. Today, I remind myself that my heart is enough. That my efforts are enough, even when there are still items on the to-do list. Another form of letting go.

Love Never Fails: Then, I had to face the fear of getting fat. I had to accept myself, and give others the opportunity to accept me even when I gained weight. I had to be kind to myself when I ate more than I wanted to, instead of punishing myself and make up for my ‘sins’. Now, I ask myself what is driving my actions, or the words I am choosing. Is it because I am afraid someone will say No? That I will be rejected and therefore I am trying to get them to say Yes? Or is it because I am genuinely excited for them and the possibilities for their life?

Free to be Me: Then, I had to start doing things that reflected my likes and interests. Buying blue suede shoes, taking Italian lessons, playing soccer again. Even if that didn’t fit the mold I thought I had to fit into. Now, this means creating a life and business my way. Finding places that light me up and meeting people there, even if it might seem somewhat unconventional to meet with an eating disorder client in a Food Emporium. Oh well, that is me.

Truth Sets Me Free: Then, I had learn to feel my feelings. Acknowledge that a relationship wasn’t right for me anymore. Acknowledge that my roots weren’t planted anywhere. I also had to realize that ‘fat’ in and of itself is not bad. Accept the truth that my body needs fat in order for my brain to function properly; that eating a piece of chocolate does not mean that it will automatically get taped to my thighs. Now, it still means connecting to my feelings and my most vulnerable truth. And it means that when I see a SHOULD barrelling down the street, I ask myself, what is true for me right now? As in, I *should* go out with a bang on the last day of the #bu29days series. What is true for me right now? I am relishing in the fact that I still have something to say and I want to celebrate that with you with a nice big slice of purple cake! Hehe.

I am not defined by what my body looks like: Then, this meant I could embrace my body as the number on my jeans kept getting bigger and bigger. And that I could bask in what it let me do regardless. ie play soccer, ride a bike, do yoga, swim in the Med in a string bikini. Now, this lets me forget about how much I weigh. If I am getting up on stage to give a talk, or meeting a client, or climbing into bed with my husband, it doesn’t matter if I’ve gone for a run, or exercised, or done yoga that day. I can turn up and focus on who I’m with regardless of what my body looks like.

I am here to Shine. Then, this helped me to realize that I was making my life all about me. It helped me break a habitual cycle where my free time was spent either running, at the gym, food shopping, eating, or thinking about any of those things. It helped me to focus on what I could give to others; tutoring, leading recovery groups. Today, this reminds me that I am here for a purpose. And that I can either bury my talents in the sand or share them with others and spread some light. This especially helps on days when things aren’t going as planned. Another reminder that It’s OK to Let Go.

I Choose Me. Then, this looked like me choosing to stop purging and start praying on those two bathroom floor moments. It looked like buying self-help books, talking with my doctor, seeing a shrink. It also meant choosing those shoes and Free to Be Me activities. Today, this looks similar. Any choice that nourishes me and/or brings me pleasure. Choosing my wants and desires. Listening when I am plugged in. Including writing this #bu29days blog series.

In any given moment, there is the potential for that muddy trifecta to show up, and so part of Choosing Me is making space in my life for tune-ups, otherwise I get stuck in the mud or I hit a bump and get thrown sideways.

Those days are never pretty.

So I make sure I have time to be still and connect to what’s true. I used to cram my schedule with plans. I’d go out every night of the week, and if I didn’t have plans, there’d always be the fallback of working late.

I didn’t want to be alone with myself.

Now, if I don’t spend alone time with myself, everything goes pear-shaped.

The impact isn’t just on me, but it bleeds to those around me too.

Like breeds like. If I bury my head, feelings, truth, light, love, in the sand, those around me are likely too as well.

If I practice the True You Truths, then everyone around me gets a chance at being their Quintessential Self too.

We all can be Free to be Me, without shame or fear of how others react.

Imagine a world where everyone was out there, doing their thing; acting out of love, letting their light shine, instead of dimming it ‘just in case’.

Just in case their brightly shining light wasn’t accepted. The idea that ‘I’d rather be OFF, or dimly lit, and accepted’ than ‘fully turned on and snuffed out’.

How about another 3rd option?: Be fully turned ON, AND turn someone else ON in doing so!

Inspire someone with your light.

You are here to Shine.

Go do it.

Go be your Quintessential Self.


That’s All Folks. Thank you for following along the #bu29days blog series. I hope you got something out of it even if you’ve never been bulimic. And if you have been or are bulimic, I hope it’s helped you wherever you’re at in your journey.

If you’d like to connect about anything you’ve read, email me at kendratanner121[at]gmail[dot]com.

And stay tuned for opportunities to explore the True You Truths further.

Lots of love.

PS If you still haven’t watched ‘My Cousin Vinny‘, what are you waiting for? 🙂

 

Meet Rachel: A fiery adventuress

Rachel is my spunky red-head friend who coyly christened Shame as Mr Dick. Rachel has more wisdom buried inside her than you and me put together, except that when I first met her, she didn’t know it.

When I met Rachel 6 months ago, she was caught up in that binge/purge cycle that stops you from realizing your self-worth. She was beating herself up for her every move. For doing the job she loved, for living in a part of the country she loved, for moving back home, for being a mess, for trying to clean up the mess but not doing a good enough job.

Yesterday, Rachel sent me an email that rocked my world. She was answering the question, ‘What’s been your favourite adventure in life so far?’

Her answer: Finding love for herself through her bulimia journey.

Say what?

6 months ago Rachel was despising her bulimia journey. Rejecting it as we usually do, like a tumour attached to us that we can’t wait to cut off.

Except, as she found out, the only way to get rid of this tumour is to melt it away with an adventure of finding true love.

And, as she learned, you have to look no further than the tip of your nose.

Rachel never ceases to amaze me. Like the time she walked into our session carrying a book of poems she had recently written.

She was a poet and she didn’t even know it.

As Rachel has gone on her True You adventure, I have seen her creative expression blossom. This girl’s got talent.

Watch out world. The show’s about to start.


‘A Hidden Treasure’ – by Rachel Grayson

 

In the dusty planes of the African Savannah,

Lived Boris the bison and a hyena called Hannah.

Now Boris the bison was a musical fellow-

He could sing and break dance, and even play cello

 

Hyena Hannah always had to convey

to Boris how wonderfully he played

and as he grew cocky she started to ponder,

“What am I good at?” she couldn’t help wonder.

 

But one boiling summer the sun was so hot

the Savannah animals nearly lost the plot!

They’d ran out of sun cream and the lake nearly dried,

“What are we going to do, we’ll die!”

 

Boris, too thirsty to break dance or sing,

Sat in a dusty heap wondering

why Hannah Hyena was sniffing and straining,

why digging a big hole was so entertaining.

 

As she dug and dug at the dusty ground,

nobody bothered to check what she’d found.

But one scorching day she came bounding to take

them to see what she’d found- “CRIKEY, A LAKE!”

 

You see Hannah hyena dug such a deep hole

that water had filled it from down below.

The animals drank, and cheered “To Hannah!

Thank you for saving us from the Savannah!”

 

Now Boris could sing and dance again,

he realised he’d not been a very good friend.

He’d underestimated her and made her feel small.

“I’m so sorry my dear, and thanks for our pool.”

 

So they swam and played and surfed and floated

and the modest hyena not once gloated.

She’d saved her friends, she’d helped them through it

and they loved her, unconditionally, she knew it.

#bu29days: Day 24: The Layer Cake

aka What do you mean, the experience can be different but the feelings the same?

aka Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with your cake.

I started out writing this post with one end in mind, but the story took a twist in the middle, so now there’s a couple different endings you can choose. Just like my favourite detective books when I was a kid 🙂

So here’s a concept to think about: eating disorders and disordered eating live within a spectrum. At a certain point, the mindset, feelings and behaviours, add up to a diagnosable eating disorder.

But that doesn’t mean that less extreme mindset, feelings, and behaviours in the rest of the spectrum are ‘off the hook’. As I was saying yesterday, the external behaviour and experience might look different, but there can be room for healing in the core thoughts and feelings.

Here is my creatively expressed version of what exists at the core within the disordered eating spectrum. And since we’re talking about food here, you’re looking at the picture of a layer cake.

20160224_144931

At the bottom you’ve got You. A source for love and connection to all creatures great and small, but that isn’t always connected.

The next layer of Shame, Fear and Vulnerability that I’ve been going on about for the past 3 weeks is a given.

However, here you could potentially start building one of two cakes.

If you haven’t learned healthy responses to these basic human experiences, you end up in the green layer, doing the trying and hiding dance. It’s a survival mechanism. An adaptation of yourself to create certainty in life and for your identity. It’s where the seeds of the good/bad mentality are planted.

Stick with that for long enough, and it manifests into the yellow layer. This is where the deprivation of desires, wants, and needs, lives; even in little things like not replacing underwear with holes and threadbare socks, or always buying the wine that’s on sale even though you really want the bottle that’s only £1 more.

It’s where it’s difficult to find the words to say what you want, when you want, to who you want, without spending a number of stomach-wrenching hours on the email.

It’s where the idea of spending time on anything other than work-related, achievement oriented, tasks seems frivolous.

And it’s where you are never happy with what, and who, you see in the mirror.

If you’ve never experienced this, there’s a lot of tension in that yellow layer.

And after awhile it busts itself out and oozes all around the cake as an attractive looking orange color of icing (OK, to be fair, I’ve never seen an attractive looking orange-iced layer cake, but that’s what happens when you create like your 5-year-old self used to. Purple elephants can fly!)

The orange icing is where the behaviours with food live. This layer tries to make the rest of the cake taste good, except that all the tension, the deprive/indulge, the good/bad, and the controlling and comforting going on underneath, manifests itself with food, and while it initially tastes sweet, there’s a bitter after taste.

Depending on how caught up you are in the mire of the blue layer, will determine the shade of orange icing; where you fall in the disordered eating spectrum.

In my book, if you are eating any of this cake, you might want to put the fork down, push the plate away, and go look for a different kind of cake.

I’ve looked at my mom’s life and I’ve always assumed she was eating this cake.

While she was nowhere near any of the extremes of an eating disorder, her outside relationship to food and body looked like this:

-Count calories and try to eat ‘healthy’. She would make conscious food choices about which brand of cereal to buy that had the least amount of sugar etc and her not-so-secret vice was and always will be chocolate. A lot of controlling and depriving with occasional indulgences.

-She wished she could be a few pounds lighter but after me and my sister was born, didn’t have time to prioritize that. But we always knew she wished she were lighter. In recent years she’s been going to spin class and pilates and we know she chagrins her ‘old lady arms’. Evidence of body-dissatisfaction.

This actually sounds quite normal, right?. Don’t most women wish they were 5 lbs lighter and could stop the love affair with chocolate?

But here’s what else I picked up on when I was a kid.

Identity & Self-worth: My mom met my dad when she was 15, she was married at 20. Her self-worth and identity during some critical formative years was heavily influenced by her relationship with my dad. They are still happily married, but even she will tell you that it took years for her to begin to see herself as separate from my dad.

Self-expression: I remember my mom saying things like, ‘I wish I could talk with you about this better.’ ‘I don’t really feel equipped to have this conversation with you.’ To be fair that is a vulnerable truth of hers that she was able to express so to that end, she was self-expressing what was true for her, eating bites of a healthier cake. But she still felt blocked from communicating freely in a way that she wanted. A lot of times she would channel my dad too. His decisions outweighed her opinion in our family. Sometimes when I look back at who mom was in our family dynamic, she was the executor. She executed on decisions to make the family run smoothly, but you never really knew how much of that was her true self, or was she just doing her job?

Body Love: As I shared before, it was as if a whisper of a wish was always hanging in the air when it came to her body. She was always striving to improve it. And I only remember one time when she put on a sun dress one summer evening before my dad came home where I remember thinking, ‘Wow, mom looks really pretty in that.’ It must have been their anniversary. Normally mom was in cleaning clothes or church clothes. Neither which are very sexy. Practicality and the household budget was the driving force behind clothes shopping.

Food rules: You could tell she had her own paradigm to live by. In addition to counting calories, she’d always serve herself the smallest portion at dinner, take the smallest slice of cake, comment on what she had for breakfast ‘I only had a yogurt and an apple for breakfast so I guess I’ll have one more cookie.’ It was as if she had to earn the right to have a treat.

Her story has a lot of necessary precursors for an eating disorder. I talked with her about all of this and asked her why she thought this combo didn’t turn into one.

Her answer was this:

  1. She didn’t know it was an option. (Wow, that really makes me think about how to go about raising awareness and how eating disorders are talked about because perhaps the less you know, the better!)
  2. She recognized that there is only so much in life that she could control. She embraced the belief that we regardless of what happens around you, we only have control over our reactions. And I guess she chose to react with a Pollyanna smile. 
  3. Pre-pregnancy she was happy with her shape. She didn’t internalize comments about her teen body as shaming. She took them as motivation to be healthy. Post-pregnancy, at first she worked to get her pre-pregnancy body back but at some point accepted that it was ‘OK’ as it was.
  4. She knew that a sense of humour fixes everything and laughter is the best medicine out there. Even better than chocolate.

While I see a lot of external overlap between my mom’s relationship with food and body, and mine, I’ve also noticed the differences at the core.

There is a presence of more self-acceptance and love for herself and a penchant for joy. The blue layer of her cake wasn’t as big.

Another big difference is that part of her quintessential self has led her to behaviours that look similar to disordered eating behaviours.

This year at Christmas, we all took an abridged version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test (yes, I do geek out on this stuff), and it was no surprise when my mom’s Type description came out as ‘content to enforce “the rules,” often dictated by tradition or handed down from a higher authority.’

Following the rules feels natural to her. (Get this, she even wanted to get the facts straight for a fictional short story she is writing. I had to remind her about little thing called IMAGINATION 🙂 )

I’m realizing that some of my mom’s behaviours with food and her body were a reflection of her ‘True You’; the following the food rules, and advice from authority figures about her body. That is just her being her quintessential self vs her trying to control.

The opposite of yesterday’s message, today’s message is: You can have similar experiences, but different feelings on the inside.

I come out as a much different personality type on the Myers-Briggs scale; more of a rules, schmules kind of person.

Understanding the innate differences between me and the rest of my family has helped facilitate healing.

To understand that what I saw modelled as a child was never going to be right for me, has given me some space to breathe.

Duh, there is going to be some disconnect when they are all J’s, and I am a P!’

It also explains some of the trying I’ve experienced in the layer cake. I can stop trying to be my parents.

I’m sharing this example about my mom for the following reasons:

  1. Don’t underestimate the influence that your parents have on you as an adult. You are not your parents. How you live your life, clean your house, relate to your partner, and parent your own kids, is best done when you are being You, not channelling them.
  2. You can not change your parents. Their quintessential selves are not going to change just because you feel you need them to.
  3. The most important thing about your relationship to food and your body is that it reflects your True You. If you count calories because that is just how you naturally think, and not because it’s a behaviour being driven by shame, fear, or control, then go for it.

So here’s the two endings to the story that you get to pick. If you’re looking at the layer cake and are noticing some behaviours that fall into that spectrum, ask yourself why.

Is it because like me, they are rooted in the blue layer and you were doing the green trying and hiding dance? (If yes, turn to Day 29.)

Or because like my mom, that’s part of being your quintessential self? (If yes, The End.)


Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

#bu29days: Day 21: Why your right-brain matters

aka So tell me more about this idea of eating disorders linked to blocked creative expression.

aka Is everyone who struggles with an eating disorder a creative genius?

That is a good possibility 🙂

Seriously though, I’ve seen a pattern emerge from the conversations I’ve had with clients and others who’ve developed eating disorders.

They are intelligent. They are driven.

They are living under the expectation to perform in left-brain environments.

The success of their left-brain activities have become part of their identity.

They are striving to achieve in this way so they maintain the love and acceptance from others with this perceived expectation, usually family members or a parental figure.

They have creative, heart centered interests that get buried, pushed to the side, in the effort to perform with their minds.

I first noticed this in a client of mine who’s step-father was big into sports, engineering, and typically male-dominated activities. She pursued a career in engineering, and has been very successful.

She also lost herself in the process and only now is stepping into heart-centered leadership roles. Leading women’s groups in her church, leading barre classes.

Her hidden dreams and desires? To be an actress. To make pottery.

Similarly I have a client who writes amazing children’s poems, with Aesop’s Fables type lessons woven throughout. She loves caring for the elderly. But that career path has been questioned by her family. ‘You are the academic one. You have the potential to ‘go really far’.’

I’ve met a number of young girls on the anorexic side of things who are going down the university path because they feel they have too. ‘I’ve been told I’m smart.’ ‘I need to keep my parents happy.’

And so their creative outlets dry up, as do their appetites for food, as do their bodies wither.

I was not immune to this phenomenon. My childhood dreams included: be a mom of 20 children; perform like Julie Andrews in ‘The Sound of Music’. In my free time I’d either have my nose buried in detective books, or be dancing around my living room to ‘Bolero‘.

I went to a magnet high school that offered a heavy science curriculum and was renowned for academic achievement. The name says it all: Staten Island Technical High School.

I excelled there, but while learning about alternating and direct electrical currents, calculating the sustainable load and pressure points of fictitious engineering feats, and solving the equation for parabolas, the right side of my brain didn’t get much stimulation.

It’s only been in the last year that I can create a dream board without an excel spreadsheet.

20160221_184205.jpg
My new way of business planning

And only in the last 5 months that I recognize the value of my heart and my intuition. That giving all the credit to my mind, denies a part of me.

At the time I didn’t resist it though. I was quite proud of the fact that I did well in those subjects. My dad is an IT guy and we could have meaningful conversations about this kind of stuff. I could affiliate myself with him, be on the same playing field. In writing this I sense I needed that.

Thing is, these days, everything I learned in highschool is exactly what my husband needs to know to build our fish farm, and I have absolutely no interest in it, whatsoever. The only thing that interests me about the angles and support beams for the concrete shuttering, is that they don’t snap. I actually fled the scene when the cement truck showed up.

I’ll take butterflies and rainbows anyday.

Oh, and CIA dramas.

I am working through the classic book, ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, a book designed to help recover your creative expression, to whatever degree that is.

It’s not just for artists with the potential to ‘make it’. Her stance is that we all have creativity buried inside of us, yearning to come out. And when it gets bottled up, it does us harm.

She talks about the same shame, fear and vulnerability that stops our creative expression, the same trio that sits at the core of an eating disorder.

And on page 98 she literally refers to it as ‘artistic anorexia’. 

Wow, that’s a powerful statement.

And it totally makes sense to me. What I see is that when we are depriving ourselves of our own creativity, it bleeds across the board, including with food. We either succeed at great pains (anorexia) or compensate with indulgences (bulimia and binge-eating disorder). 

Our creativity is our life force. It’s what got us here, it’s how we make more of us. It is at our spiritual core. If we disconnect ourselves from that, of course(!) we are going to wither! Individually and collectively I might add.

And our response? Struggle and fight to survive in whatever other capacity we can.

So for you reading this, regardless of whether you’ve got food issues or not, here’s today’s homework:

Reconnect with your creative self.

Julia Cameron recommends writing morning pages. Literally, first thing in the morning, fill 3 pages of a notebook with whatever comes out. It can be verbal diarrhea, or the first page of the novel you have inside of you. It doesn’t matter. There is no judgement.

The point is to recover your creative self-expression.

Write. Dance. Sit still. Draw. Colour by number. Sing. Play. Design. Construct.

Whatever works.

Recover your quintessential self.

Find him or her on the pages of your soul.


Something to think about: What were your dreams as a kid? What creative expression have you pushed to the side? How can you reconnect?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are. A place to explore and accept all of you. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 20: The beauty of the binge and the purge

aka Do you think you’re crazy?

aka You mentioned yesterday that you binged on uncertainty. I thought you could only binge on food.

Nope, you can binge on other things. Uncertainty being one of them.

Think of a binge as this: An escape from reality.

A purge: The [somewhat futile] attempt to create order out of the chaos. Put things right after the binge.

When I made three major changes at once, got married, quit my job, and travelled for 9 months, it was partly an escape from living the lives we were living and the reality that we didn’t know what else to do, and partly answering a call to adventure. To go find what it is we really wanted from life. 

So maybe not a complete binge since there was an element of intentional choice in there.

But if I’m completely honest with myself, and with you, this binge/purge, control/release indulge/deprive cycle shows up frequently for me.

My house is either tidy or it’s not. More often than not, it’s not. Because we’re very much living in the moment, escaping from the reality that it takes consistent effort to keep order in a house. When the mess surpasses my pain point, then I will clean and tidy all at once.

I will let any admin, filing, accounting, etc that needs to be done pile up until I can’t take the messy piles of paper and the uncertainty of whether or not an important bill has been missed, and then spend a day or two plowing through it all, finding the order once again.

When I was working on papers or projects for work, I’d get the assignment weeks in advance of the deadline and do nothing about it, and then for the 2 days or so before the project was due, would cram and pour out an immense amount of work to meet the deadline.

Last year, from April-June I had a flurry of activity in the spring; blogs, newsletters, a radio interview, a 5 day challenge launched, a release of an 8 week self-coaching guide. Lots of activity to escape the reality that business wasn’t where I wanted it and I didn’t know why. Then July and August – Nada. Order once again because now there’s a good excuse why business isn’t working… there’s no action happening. 

I literally said this out loud this past Fall, ‘Wow, even my business is bulimic.’

Heck, even this blog series fits the pattern. For 2 years, dribs and drabs of my story and lessons have been shared, but for the most part, I kept it close, not facing the music that sharing the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, will inevitably have to happen. And now the floodgates have been opened.

This is how I expressed myself emotionally as a kid too.

You wouldn’t know how I was feeling. I’d be keeping everything in, ignoring and repressing the emotions, and then bam, you were hit with everything as I let it all out.

 

 

The consistency that does exist across this binge/purge tendency is this:

 

With a binge, that escape from reality feels really good in the moment. A temporary relief of giving yourself what you think you want, something that releases all the right chemicals. Food, living in the moment, not having to do the menial tasks. But the high is overshadowed by the knowing of what’s going to come at the end. The inevitability of facing the facts. The painful reality that regardless of all you consumed, the binge didn’t solve any problems. You still don’t like what you’re seeing the mirror, or you still have to clean your house, or you still have to file the papers, or your business still isn’t working, even though you’ve had the temporary feeling of pleasure.

A purge, even though it might seem messy and out of control when it comes to food, actually is the opposite. It’s a way to bring things back to the normal state of being. And most purges, are actually relaxing in a meditative, robotic way. Like an out of body experience. You know what needs to be done and you just do it. You detach a bit and let something else take over. Like being in flow. The satisfaction of the release is pleasurable, and masks any physical or mental pain from the outpour of energy that it takes to vomit, clean the house, put the ideas down on paper, or organize the files.

Each act of binge and purge serves a purpose.

Two things to notice:

  1. There’s a lot pain thresholds driving the bus in these cycles.
  2. The extreme contrast of energy shows up most prevalently with any kind of creative or raw expression.

 

I’ve had to ask the question, is this just how I am, or have I learned this? The age old nature vs nurture question.

I don’t know the answer, but here’s a couple of observations:

Those papers, and projects that were done last minute, they were typically ace. Maybe needed a few tweaks here and there, but close enough to the mark that I never felt I had to adapt my working style to leave more time to create the finished product.

Even with the way I write now, I’ll be mulling things over, processing in the background, so by the time I sit down to write, it all comes out in a few hours.

What does that mean?

Maybe the binge/purge cycle somehow facilitates a higher level of creative functioning?

Yikes!

For a while I’ve resisted this. When I realized my business was bulimic, I did NOT think that was a good thing. How embarrassing! An old destructive pattern back at work. Shame on me!

All good business advice says, be consistent.

Well, I’ll tell you one thing. I’m consistently inconsistent. Or at least consistently going to withdraw while incubating, and then resurface with a flood of ideas.

 

 

I’m learning not to judge this, at least not the action.

I can get clear on my intention though. Check in to see if the binge/purge is going to tick the boxes of Nourishment and Pleasure or are they coming from a trying and hiding energy?

Last year my business activities were defo in the trying and hiding camp. Trying to make it seem all shiny on the outside, hiding that behind the scenes I was a fish out of water.

Compared to this binge/purge with writing #bu29days:

 

The difference here was that I was aware of the pattern and I was making conscious choices.

This January, I made a choice to withdraw, incubate, go within and enjoy the season of winter. I was binging on ‘me’ time. And because it was a choice, it was nourishing to my soul. It was pleasurable because I knew I wasn’t missing out. I was saying yes to things I wanted and no to things I didn’t want. It felt like it hit my sweet spot.

It’s also when I had the idea to blog daily this Feb.

Considering I didn’t write 29 blog posts all last year, 29 in a row is a bit extreme, I’ll admit. Clearly a purge of ideas that have been stored up for a while.

There were moments I was afraid. Would I have enough to say? Would I run out of steam? Have enough time? What would other people think of my ideas? Would they see that this is a purge? (Well, too late for that.)

After getting over the fear, shame, and vulnerability,  I found the nourishment and pleasure.

This process has been filling me up. I’ve learned a lot. And it’s been fun. 

I also found some love. I’ve gained a new acceptance for my creative cycles, whether that is a nature or nurture thing.

I can easily tell myself I ‘should’ be more consistent, even keeled, ‘normal’ like everyone else (and I have).

Or I can accept the fact that I can sustain periods of high intensity out pours of energy during which I can formulate quality ideas. And I can accept that before and afterwards, I’ll require periods of very little action.

I can accept that I’m an expert at being bulimic.

And yes, maybe that makes me a little bit crazy.

But I can either work with myself, or against myself.

For now, this is me.

Working with myself, seems a lot kinder.

I also found another kind thought about my food bulimia: perhaps the binge/purge cycle with food was mirroring a natural creative cycle of mine, but since the creative outlet was blocked at the time, it came out with food instead.

Food for thought.

And one more taster to whet your appetite…

I had a conversation with a good friend of mine last year about those on the bi-polar, manic-depressive spectrum, and how there is often a lot of negative stigma, an idea that those with mental health issues have to be fixed, but that there’s also a correlation between manic states and beautiful creative expression

What we talked about next applies across the board.

What if instead of judging and trying to fix, we could all shift to a place of acceptance? 

To work with a person’s hard-wiring, whether a binge/purge pattern, manic/depressive, autistic, dyslexic, or whatever other mental health and learning-related condition.

Use the ebbs and flows, whatever cycle they may be on, and however extreme, to allow for the individual’s most authentic and greatest self-expression.

To allow for someone to be their quintessential self, even if in some environments and some instances, it might look like it needs ‘fixing’.

Wow, now that would be a miracle of love.


Something to think about: What patterns do you see emerge in your life? Where are they conscious choices? Where is there room to navigate towards as balance of Nourishment and Pleasure? What natural traits do you normally resist, but perhaps present an opportunity to work with yourself?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are. A place to explore and accept all of you. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 17: The story of the Blue Suede Shoes

aka So how did you go from planning binges and head over the toilet bowl to playing with your food?

aka What can house music teach us about eating disorders?

First, you have to listen to these beats. The first 40 seconds and you should get it. 1:27 and you’ll start to feel it. 

And in case you don’t, here’s the lyrics to Eddie Amador’s ‘House Music that explains it all.

‘Not everyone understands house music. It’s a spiritual thing. A body thing. A soul thing.’

So after having the ground shaken under me with that question, ‘where are your roots planted?’, I started to wake up to the fact that this problem I had with food, just like House Music, it was a spiritual thing. A body thing. A soul thing.

Which meant, that instead of just deciding to stop purging, and fight the urges to binge, the solution was a spiritual thing. A body thing. A soul thing.

I had to connect to my mind, body, and soul differently.

Be more of who I was.

I had to make some changes.

One was pretty drastic. I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years. The same guy that I had visited in Miami and binged on his gift of chocolate covered almonds.

I had been with him throughout my entire stint with bulimia. He was the first person I let in on my dirty little secret.

He had been there with me and for me, and I was grateful for that, but he wasn’t the one long term. (Although, we could jam to house music and we were all on fire.)

My soul knew this. My body knew this. It was time for my actions to catch up.

That wasn’t the only drastic change.

I started swapping my 10+ year pattern of daily runs and gym visits for other activities. I intuitively knew that going to the gym every night, although glossy on the outside, was a destructive pattern. It was perpetuating the cycle of the focus being on burning and consuming calories. And this focus would often lead to a binge.

I tried out yoga, spin, swimming, karate.  Except for the karate, I kept going back to those.

Spin, although similar to the cardio and calorie burn that came with running, gave a euphoric soul-high when spinning to those house tunes.

Swimming? Need I explain what happens when your body is submerged in water? The shape and size doesn’t matter anymore. The water flowing around you is heavenly.

And yoga? I realized I had muscles in between my ribs!!!! Who knew!? I loved this new exploration of how my body was made, and what it was capable of, other than repetitive knee-up-knee-down motions and swinging my arms along my side.

In the fall of that year, I ran the Chicago Marathon. This time, purging was not part of the training routine and instead, I incorporated a bunch of cross-training. I only ran on long run days and workout days. The other days I was spinning, swimming, yoga-ing. It was fab.

As was lightening up about food. Although I was still very conscious about what I was eating and was looking forward to the weight loss that the marathon training would inevitably bring, my thoughts and my actions weren’t as consumed by food as they had been.

I also started spending one night a week tutoring an immigrant woman from Pakistan to help her pass her GEDs (highschool equivalency exams).The time with her had nothing to do with me and everything to do with her.

For those 2 hours a week, my soul got replenished by serving in a way that only I could do. There aren’t many ways you can explain electrons, neutrons, and protons to someone who’s never heard of an atom before. Somehow I did and she passed.

I started adding more funk to my wardrobe. Without the Brooks Brothers poster child for a boyfriend, I didn’t feel the need to be the mirror image girlfriend.

I got myself this really cool denim knee length winter coat with fur around the hood. So fun, and so not the corporate vibe that I had molded into.

I went out and bought three new pairs of shoes. A pair of blue suede heels, maroon heels with this funky stitching and pattern by the toe, and a pair of flats, that to be honest, I don’t know what I was thinking because they looked like duck shoes.

Sometimes you can be a bit rusty with hitting the bull’s-eye when trying to come back to yourself. That’s all I can say about that.

But I remember this. I called my sister up as I was walking from the subway back to my apartment, bags of shoes in tow, and I told her about my new blue suede shoes. Her response,

‘Kenge! You’re back!’

She knew.

The quintessential Kendra was on her way back to town.

My quintessential self started taking Italian lessons… a dream of mine since junior high school when I disappointingly got stuck with Spanish.

I bought myself a pair of Adidas turf shoes… a throwback to my soccer days, and I actually got to wear them on the turf. I joined a rec team and was playing and practicing on a regular basis.

As I was making all these seemingly subtle yet life-changing choices, my confidence was growing. The fear of rejection, the shame I was carrying, didn’t have such a hold. All of these choices were a bit vulnerable; any change from your habits and doing something new is. But I did them. And I survived. Which gave me the fuel to keep being more of me.

I sum up this whole process that I went through in four words: Stop Trying Stop Hiding.

I slowly but surely…

Stopped trying to dress like someone that wasn’t really me. That Brooks Brothers and Ann Taylor cover girl? Not so much. I like a bit more spice. A bit more flair.

Running? I definitely thought it was me. In fact it was me over 10 years. But by letting that be my identity, I was missing out on and suppressing other forms of physical activity that I really enjoyed.

I swear, there is nothing like running shoulder to shoulder with another sweaty soccer-phile, chasing a ball, and perfectly connecting the top of your laces to the underside of the ball and watching it soar down the field. It’s a different thrill that stepping over rocks and roots and getting lost in the blur of the forest on a trail run.

Both I love. But I had been missing the variety in my life; pigeonholing myself into boxes that gave me an identity that I thought would be more acceptable.

On the other side of Stop Trying Stop Hiding is Free to Be Me. And this is what I was starting to experience. The freedom that came with just being who I was created to be.

For the record, this is a never ending process. What I’ve found is that I will inevitably get to a point in my life where I have to ask the question, how am I trying, how am I hiding? How can I be more of me here? A blue-suede shoe moment.

I know it’s a blue-suede shoe moment when something doesn’t feel quite right. When I can tell I’m literally trying too hard and getting caught up in everybody else’s way of doing it. Or when I keep putting dreams of mine to the bottom of the list.

Inevitably, it’s because the trifecta of shame, fear and vulnerability has showed up.

Last night I went to a 5rhythms class for the first time. Dance has been something that I’ve only explored in the past 18 months or so. It’s a part of me that has been hiding. A soul expression that was a natural part of me as a 6 year old as I would dance around my living room uninhibitedly to Ravel’s Bolero.

But as I was told that I wasn’t ‘coordinated enough’ to be in the front rows of the church shows that required precision choreography, dance was off the table.

Here’s a little secret.

We can all dance. When nobody’s watching, we all got moves like jagger.

Especially when you’re not trying to dance like the person in front of you, and you aren’t asked to hide your unique bootie shake or shoulder shimmy.

So anyway, last night I mustered up the courage to go to a 5rhythms dance class for the first time. Let’s be honest, I was nervous. I can dance on my own fine, and I’ve even shared some clips on youtube, but when there’s others in the room, will I really be able to let myself fully be seen?

So I walk in, not knowing a soul.

A woman welcomed me, and I asked how long she’d been going, and she proceeded to tell me why she loves it so much.

‘I get to just be me when I’m here. I’ve spent my whole life trying to fit myself into all these little boxes. Here I can stop all that trying and hiding and I’m free to let all of me out on the dance floor.’

Sister, you speak my language. I guess we have met before.

And there, on the dance floor, with the house music bumping, it was once again a spiritual thing, a body thing, a soul thing. A healing thing.

Something to think about: Where in your life are you trying? Hiding? What would being more of you look like? What activities are spiritual things, body things, and soul things for you? How can you do those things more?

Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email kendratanner121@gmail.com if you’d like yours shared there.

Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.

Nourish your Quintessential Self. The Nourish Circle, a private group for women to support each other’s journeys with food, body and self, is starting soon. Join Liberty Bain and I on Wednesdays from wherever you are. A place to stop trying, stop hiding, and be free to be you. Join us this February.