The only reason I’m excited about the election results (and how you could be too)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the election results. It’s hard not to.

My facebook feed. My mailman. The lady at the town council office that accepted my forms. A client who had an out of the blue binge.

‘What do you make of Trump?’, ‘This is not going to be good.’ and ‘It’s all his fault.’

A mix of fearful disbelief, dismay, grief, and blame. Not fun times.

So what do I make of Trump?

I don’t.

I didn’t vote. It didn’t seem like the integral thing to do when I didn’t and don’t have a strong opinion about either candidate.

This might sound like a cop-out, but hear me out. A Facebook Ad made it’s way to my feed when there were only 3 days left to register for an overseas ballot and I quickly added it to my ‘to-do’ list. But then thought twice about it.

And I realized the only reason I’d be voting was because I think I ‘should’.

That as a free citizen in the western world, I should exercise my right to have a say.

But for me, jumping in the political ring at the last minute just because of all the hype around Hillary vs Trump didn’t seem like it was the real me.

I haven’t followed politics for years. The last time I voted, I voted for Bush junior because my parents were staunch Republicans and I couldn’t imagine what would happen at the dinner table if I voted for Gore. By the time his second term came around I was dating a liberal Democrat, and I couldn’t pick between my family’s values or my boyfriend, so I didn’t vote.

As I started to find my own voice, and what I really cared about, I realized that for now I don’t have the bandwidth to keep track of all the ins and outs of how government and the economy works. What I do have space for is why an individual makes a choice.

I care about why the person in the position of power, and the person casting their vote, is making the decisions they are making. Are they making it out of Pride, or Shame, or Fear? Or is it out of Love and what they believe is the ultimate good for the earth and mankind, even if it’s an unpopular vote?

As I hear the reactions toward this last election there’s a lot of emotion going on. I see Anger, Disgust, Grief, Sadness, Fear. Thankfully there are also slivers of Compassion and Love.

If you’re feeling any of those things, I can understand why, and I’m feeling those emotions throughout my life right now too.

I’m also aware that those aren’t my primary feelings about this election, and so I’ve had to check in with myself. What am I feeling instead?

Oddly, it’s Curiosity mixed with Anticipation and Excitement.

Not because I think Trump will do a good job, or is the best person for the job.

But because the only good I see coming out of this election result is that we, as a generation, have been given a wake-up call.

America is having a breakdown.

The same kind of breakdown that I’ve had.

The kind when you’re at war with yourself because you’re so caught up with fitting in and keeping up with the shoulds of who you think you have to be. The kind where you think the survival of you and your identity depends on this, and so you keep trying to keep it all together. Except you’re faced with guilt when you realize you’ve screwed up, and shame when you realize you could’ve done better, and fear that because of this, and regardless of this, you’re not OK anymore. It’s not working and you’re stuck, but you keep trying to make it work all the same because you don’t know any different. And so you lose yourself in the process.

Maybe you can relate.

Yes, it is scary when something the size of America has a breakdown. I have Fear there too. Because a breakdown on that scale means very few are left untouched. It’s no longer contained to the tears on my couch and the visits to my therapist.

But here’s what I know about breakdowns.

You either become a victim to it and let it define you…

Or you rise to the challenge and let the process of shedding and refining happen, so that you come out through the fire a more wiser, aware, connected, and purer version of you.

You get in touch with your True You.

That is the exciting part.

On the morning of Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 I did something I never do…

Aside from willingly getting out of bed at 6am (in the dark mind you) for my first day of fish feeding training (the joys of a fish farmer’s wife)…

…I turned on the TV when we got home. It was in time to watch Trump give his acceptance speech live.

My husband commented, ‘You never watch TV!’

‘I know! But this is watching history in the making!

In hindsight, I reflect on that statement, and sure, there was probably a lot of truth in that. That day is likely to end up in the history books of the future.

But here’s the other thing. We don’t have to wait for a presidential election, or any election to watch history in the making.

Every. Single. Moment. Of your Life. Can Change. The Course. Of History.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Every. Single. Moment. Of your Life. Can Change. The Course. Of History.

Every choice we make in our daily lives is us casting a vote. How we treat our neighbors, where we do our shopping, how we love (or don’t love) ourselves, our family, our friends, our enemies. How we do (or don’t) speak up and take action for what we believe.

It is the ripple effect and accumulation of those choices that matters more to the future of this planet than who is living in the White House.

Here’s something I was taught recently about feelings:

We have Anger when we have Passion and Desire for something to be different.

We have Sadness and Grief when we have lost something dear to us.

We have Fear and Anxiety when we are living in the future and forget that we have what we need, right now, this very second.

We have Shame and Guilt when deep down we know that we are capable of, and wish we had done, something different.

For those of you, and those you love, who are experiencing any of these emotions due to the state of the world affairs, or the state of any part of your life right now, first, let yourself feel. Feeling is important and necessary. Numbing doesn’t do anything except opt out of your life (trust me, I’ve tried).

Once you are feeling, here’s a few things to ask yourself:

What do I Desire to be different?

What do I have Passion for?

What is it that I think I have lost or will lose?

What can I be grateful for right now?

What is something I can do right now, or today, or tomorrow, to do my part to create the future I want to see for the world?

I started writing this to extend an olive branch to those who are hurting right now. But I am also writing this to those who are not. Because my gut tells me, that if Hillary had won, you would be hurting too, just for different reasons.

That’s what happens when the best our political system can do is give you the choice between a crook and an asshole to run the country, or so I’ve heard.

I am still undecided as to whether I will call them a crook or an asshole. Because I know two things about myself.

One, I will most usually judge the hell out of someone else when it is somehow reflecting a part of me that I really don’t like.

Two, anytime I say ‘I will NEVER do (or be) THAT!!!’, I inevitably do (and am).

So before I call her a crook or him an asshole, I’m asking myself, where am I a crook? Where am I an asshole?

Where in my life do I let the desire for power or greed or being right, or the idea that I can get away with just a little (or not so little) white lie, influence my decisions?

Where in my life do I think I am better than the other person, dismiss their point of view, and exert my own privilege or power over them?

Guess what, I do both.

Whether it’s covering my tracks when I know I’ve messed up so I don’t have to face the humiliating pain and shame of being wrong in front of family, friends, or colleagues;

Or stereotyping and rolling my eyes at the guy in front of me in the checkout line because they are taking too long to bag up all of their booze and potato chips.

At the end of the day, I am just as guilty as they are.

You might be too.

So here’s a reality check:

Blaming, shaming, and complaining isn’t going to change anything other than you will grow a lot of bitterness and discontentment. You might experience anxiety, or hopelessness, or possibly depression. You’ll probably increase your blood-pressure and see a few more wrinkles in the mirror.

You may choose that if you wish. No one is stopping you.

You can also choose to get curious about yourself. Because like it or not, that is the only person who’s words, decisions, and actions you have any control over.

You don’t have to hand over your power to the government, or any institution for that matter, and watch the show from the side of the road, or your couch.

You get to play a part.

Not only do you get to play a part, you get to cast your vote and create the ending to the story, at least for your own life.

And who knows, maybe by creating an ending that reflects your deepest truth, one that is grounded and founded in compassion, empathy, patience, kindness, courage, and more of the endless facets of Love, then maybe you get to shape the ending of the bigger story at play, that extends beyond the next 4 years, 8 years; beyond your lifetime.

And it all starts with You. With Me.

How can you and I show compassion, empathy, patience, kindness, and more to Me, Myself, and I?

How can we let go of an old harsh story that says we need to be doing and striving and pushing and trying, so our pride and ego can say we have done enough?

What about really tuning in? Slowing down enough to hear the whispers of your heart. To see where your soul wants to take you? What might you do differently then?

And how might you then BE and Become what you so desire for the world around you?

I am not promising that this is easy. In fact, heads up, it’s not. I get it wrong all the time.

I will promise you this though. It is worth it.

You are worth it. The lives of the people you touch are worth it. Your community, your country, and this world is worth it.

As you extend more compassion and love to yourself, you will have more to give to the people around you. And they will have more to give to the people around them. (Heck, there might be so much love and compassion floating around that even the White House will get the hang of it!)

And there lies the hope. And excitement for what could be.

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Blow-ups & Peace-talks

This week in our house, we had our regularly scheduled blow-up about the origins of mankind. These discussions happen on a semi-regular basis but it seems that every 3 months or so the conversation really heats up.

Questions like: Is there is a God? What about the dinosaurs? Is our spirit really a spirit or just our subconscious mind? Or is that the same thing?

My husband and I come at these questions from polar opposite points of view. I was raised in a culture steeped in conservative Evangelical values, where anything but Christian was the devil. He was raised in an environment where values didn’t stem from religious beliefs and there was no expectation of what faith you affiliated with. If anything there was an assumption there would be no affiliation.

Some pointed differences:

My upbringing told me that I had to marry a Christian. His upbringing could care less what I did on Sunday morning.

My upbringing was laden with fear… of breaking the rules and punishment if you did. In his upbringing, fear was not something that was there to control you.

This week as we hashed out our differences… in upbringings, worldview, trigger points, and communication styles (oh my!)…

I realized that my travels through Thailand were not for naught; ‘Same, Same, but Different’ rings true again.

Yes we are different, but we want the same thing.

Our differences lie in a combination of things.

For starters, the basic mathematical principle of the Mode: We are both the average of the people we spent the most amount of time around growing up.

Then there’s our innate personality type: He is a J on the Myers-Briggs scale; where if it’s not black, white, or a neat row of logical zeroes and ones, his head hurts. Me? I live in a world where fifty shades of grey makes perfect sense to me.

And don’t discount the fact that when he finds out our sun is spinning in spirals around some other planet/object/universe, his calls me in from whatever I’m doing with the excitement of a kid at Christmas in his voice. And I’m left standing there trying to find a way for ‘frankly my dear, I could give a damn.’ to sound like I really care.  And when I can’t stop talking about how life changing the idea that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have!, he nods his head and smiles and then goes back to watching David Attenborough.

Yet we are both asking for the truth. For the capital-T Truth; the indisputable laws of life including physical laws of gravity and e=mc2, and the spiritual laws such as life follows death (hello butterfly).

And being on the journey for capital-T Truth, we have to respect what is true for ourselves and each other in the moment… that where each of us is on our journey is real and true for us, and not something the other person can dispute or take away.

For me, if you are asking for the Truth, you’re good to go. You may not have found it yet, but it will find you. And I’m convinced that it knows enough to find you in the way that works for you. Why would it show up in Greek when you only speak Russian?

And so why would I only be able to find truth in nature shows when I’d rather be reading Brene Brown?

So here’s my encouragement to you today:

It’s likely that somewhere in your life you feel a disconnection, and the blatant differences between you and a loved one are staring you in the face. It might keep you up in the middle of night, make you want to punch a wall, or it’s why you cry yourself to sleep.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that the disconnection is just a figment of your imagination, or that all you have to do is change your thoughts. No, the disconnection and the differences are real. You are two different people.

BUT

The disconnection doesn’t have to stay there forever.

A different lens helps to see where the similarities are. Even if it’s a tiny speck, it is the place to plant a seed.

This is what helped me/us this week and maybe it can help you too. It boils down to two things.

1. Owning your story

2. Finding the common goal

Owning your story:

  • Understand where the differences come from. Eg I am personality type A vs I am personality type B
  • Understand how you think and communicate differently. Eg I need to connect dots and see patterns vs I need the final answer shot straight between the eyes
  • Understand your triggers. Eg I shut down to closed-ended questions vs I blow up when I don’t get a straight answer
  • Remember where you came from. Eg I came from a heavily religious background vs I went to Sunday School because that’s just what you did.
  • Check in with where you are now in your story. What Chapter are you living? Eg I am at a place where I’m unraveling and dissecting everything from my past and deciding what I want to keep and what I want to throw away vs I am building off of a clean slate.

Finding the common goal:

  • Where do we both want to end up? Eg Truth, Peace, Love, etc
  • What do we want for each other? Eg space to grow, curiosity, encouragement

Once you’ve given this some thought (and fyi some of those answers may not show up right away), chances are you can find a way TOGETHER, to fill in the gap from A (where you each are at in your own story) to B (your common goal).

And then maybe your quarterly blow-ups can look more like quarterly peace-talks. Except that, that whole death brings life and fire burns off the old thing still stands true; so maybe the blow-up is just inevitably necessary 🙂

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! 🙂

#BOAW16: What Naked Female Bodies taught me about Beauty

Naked Female Bodies. Probably the most competitive arena in the Western world. So much so it might as well be an Olympic Sport. At least then the standards would be objective and not left up to the eyes of the beholder, forever wondering if this body is ‘good enough’.

Our bodies are either too fat, too thin, too soft, too hard, too round, too flat, too tall, too short. We’ve adopted the Goldilocks syndrome, except we can never find the resting place of, our body, or her body, is ‘just right’.

I am guilty of being Goldilocks. For years I judged every pair of legs, arms, abs, and cheeks (both pairs) that passed me by. And as with all forms of judgement, I was my own worst critic. Displacing my judgement on to her body was easier than accepting my own frailty and flaws.

When I was 18, I was exposed to more naked female flesh than I bargained for. The locker rooms in my university had showers that were reminiscent of Auschwitz. One big, square, stark, concrete room; empty except for shower heads peeking out from the walls. No cubicles, curtains, or any gesture of privacy.

And so after track practice, I’d be butt and breast naked with at least 10 other women as we washed off that day’s sweat and grime.

A perfect opportunity for the dissatisfied Goldilocks in me to take over. Her legs aren’t cut enough. Her bum isn’t round enough. Her thighs aren’t toned enough. Her breasts aren’t firm enough.

I was always comparing each body to some idealistic vision of what a woman’s naked body should look like.

The reality: no one in that room made the cut. Least of all myself. Because none of us had cracked the code of how to surpass the unreachable standard of perfection.

For years I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes about what a woman’s beauty is; caught in the harsh cycle of comparison, judgement, shame; resulting in trying to hide my own flaws and compensate, in order to meet aesthetic standards.

Here’s what I know now, that I wish I knew then.

Aesthetic beauty is not uniform.

Aesthetic beauty is not the defining factor of a woman’s beauty.

A vivid memory I have from those locker room days was noticing the variety in breasts, nipples, and pubic structure. In the first 18 years of my life, the only naked female body I was familiar with was my own, and I naively thought that all breasts and vaginas were created equal.

Equal? Yes. Identical? No.

Why this was a shock to me, I’m not too sure. Clearly our eyes, noses, and ears were all different. Why wouldn’t the most intimate parts of our bodies be different too?

While this was news to me, I didn’t understand the symbolism of this fact until more recently. I was too busy looking for similarity, conformity, and sameness, missing the point those naked bodies were trying to tell me.

No one body has a monopoly on beauty. Beauty is variety.

No two bodies have identical features (OK, except for twins), even down to our most intimate parts which are usually hidden from sight.

When we are clothed, we hide our differences. It is in our nakedness, that we see our uniqueness.

And while one body may have individual features that can be labeled attractive, or pleasing to the eye, it is the collective, the combination that is beautiful.

Consider a painting. A canvas that is painted solid purple may be nice to look at, a pretty color. But it isn’t until the blue, green, pink, red and yellow are splashed on and accentuate each other, that you have something beautiful.

And so it is with the beauty of a woman. To think that you or I alone define beauty, destroys its essence. Alone, you and I can be pretty, nice to look at, and yes, carry pieces of beauty.

But, it is in standing naked next to another that is beautiful.

It is in our differences, our variety, the fact that no two of us have the same exact same shape, size or coloring, that we create the beauty.

And while this stands true aesthetically, our beauty extends beyond our physical.

Last week I made a comment in The Nourish Circle, reflecting on the experience of coming together for a group call the day before. I wrote, “The vulnerability and shared wisdom that each of us brings is beautiful.”

Hmmmm…. That has nothing to do with how hard, soft, round, flat, tall or short we are.

It was the sharing from the heart, letting others in on the secret heartaches and joys of our souls that was beautiful. Getting emotionally and spiritually naked with each other.

That was beautiful.

And just as in our physical self, while we each have a similar make up and can relate to much of each other’s stories and experiences, no two of our souls are identical.

We are individual, yet the sharing of our individuality and differences creates connectedness, relatability, and no longer are we alone. Like a single strand of a spider web, each strand serves a purpose, and once connected, you have a work of art.

And just like a spider web, where one strand on it’s own can easily be broken but a web can carry an immense amount of weight, keeping one’s ‘weaknesses’ to oneself will break you, but sharing them generates strength.

The beauty of sharing the intimate corners of our hearts, the parts of ourselves that we usually keep close, covered up and clothed, because showing those parts would be too embarrassing, shameful, or inappropriate, is something that I now crave and seek out.

Although at the time of the naked showers, I allowed myself to be physically seen, I kept my emotional and spiritual self, buttoned up and buried deep. And I too, broke.

I could not see that my differences, my so-called flaws, both physically and emotionally, contributed to a collective beauty. And so I fought to change myself and my body. So much so, it led to an eating disorder.

It is only now, through my healing that I can see what I missed. That our beauty, and strength, comes from our differences, ‘weaknesses’, and surrender.

Ah, the Surrender.

For years I thought that I knew better than my body. That I could mold, sculpt, and whip it into shape. Turn it into a machine.

Except it already was a machine. I just didn’t understand how it works.

Within our naked bodies lives wisdom that lays dormant until ignited.

The key that turns the ignition? Surrender. Not Control, as I naively believed.

Surrender and trust, that the same body that pumps blood, creates a baby, and gives and receives pleasure, without having to micro-manage it’s every move, also knows what we need to emotionally and spiritually survive, create, and freely give and receive.

When your body is aching for a run, go for a run. When it is knackered beyond belief, sit still and rest.

When something inside of you craves a catch up with your best friend that you haven’t spoken to in months, a book that you’ve just heard about, a visit to certain part of the world, a good wail and a cry…

Listen to that craving.

Chances are there is something waiting for you. Something that you are ready to learn, a door or window ready to be opened, a gift.

Your body knows where you need to go and what you need to do before you do.

But it won’t tell you if you can’t see it’s beauty.

When you are judging, controlling, and disconnecting from your body, it goes silent.

Instead, we have to be grateful for how it functions, regardless of it’s shape, size, or shade.

We have to care for it, as we would any machine.

And we have to listen to what we are sensing, feeling, and hearing, even when it doesn’t make 100% sense and we can’t be certain of the outcome.

By learning how to relate to our bodies in this way, we learn how to relate to the world.

When we learn to love and surrender…. That, my friends, is beautiful.

So here’s what I finally realized was staring right at me all those times in the shower:

When our hearts are filled with love and surrender, and we stand naked next to another,  exposing our differences and ‘weaknesses’…

that is the beauty of  a woman.


Thanks to August McLaughlin for inspiring and inviting this post. For more Beauty of a Woman blog posts and a chance to win prizes, visit www.augustmclaughlin.com/beauty-woman-blogfest-v/.

To join a group of open-hearted women sharing their vulnerabile beauty with each other, visit www.thetrueyouproject.com/nourish.

Guts, guts, and more guts

Let’s talk about guts.

As in our real life intestines, that thing we call our intuition or ‘gut instinct’, and having the ‘guts’ to do something.

Let’s start with the middle one first.

I don’t know about you, but my gut instinct is the hardest part of me to connect with. Sometimes I feel like my whole life’s quest is to hear, and listen to, my intuition. It’s the epitome of my ‘true you’, and it’s the first to go when I get off path.

What usually happens is something like this:

I’ll be washing the dishes, folding clothes, or doing some other mundane task like peeing or showering, and I’ll have a brilliant idea, or a feeling about someone or some situation that I just know is the secret sauce. It feels like a massive ‘Aha!’ moment and I’m filled with hope, anticipation, dare I say excitement.

And THEN….

My brain comes up with a million different reasons as to why that idea is stupid, why I am way off about that person or situation, and how basically I am just bat shit crazy.

My M.O. has been to listen to the brain. That highly esteemed and well oiled machine that has nailed the logic and reason exams.

But let’s face it. Our guts know better.

When I look back at decisions I’ve made because of a gut instinct, including moving to the UK, kissing my now-husband for the first time, listing my services on BEAT’s Helpfinder, contacting Urban Zen Yoga Cafe to host workshops in their space, and countless other moments… they’ve all opened up doors and opportunities that I (ie my brain) never would have dreamed of.

In each case I had list of reasons why NOT to make that move. But my gut, my intuition, my spirit, knew better.

My point?

Listen to your gut.

Easier said than done because it takes guts to listen. It takes courage to make a decision that is not backed up by a list of pros and cons that heavily weigh on the pro side.

It takes courage to lean into uncertainty, move into a space where all the answers aren’t figured out yet.

Guts. (And balls.)

But trust me, once you practice listening, even if you have to work up the courage over days or weeks or months, you will see how wise your gut really is. And next time, it will be easier to listen. It will still take courage, but it will be easier. Promise.

The point here?

You need guts to listen to your gut.

And lastly, it helps to take care of your gut. The real one that you can touch.

I am learning this the hard way. After years of messing with it… feeding it and then ‘Oops, nope, sorry, you can’t digest that because it’s time for it to come back up‘, and then turning a blind eye to the idea that perhaps my physical self might need healing as much as my emotional and spiritual self does… I am finally making strides in mending it.

And while I most definitely do not have this down pat yet, I will say this: Caring for your emotional self is easier when your physical self is also cared for.

When you are doing any kind of emotional or spiritual healing, you usually end up facing some pretty dark places that can wreak havoc on your physical gut, or anywhere else in your body. And when your body is under stress, it’s harder to take intuitive action.

Don’t discount that it’s all connected folks.

Lesson here?

When your real gut is happy, it is easier to find the guts to listen to your gut.

(Go on, read it again 🙂 )

Saying all of that, I want to share a quick story of a woman who has embraced all three.

Meet Shann Jones, who stumbled upon a way to heal your gut after having the guts to listen to her gut. When her husband and son were ill with a variety of things and the doctors were coming up dry, she listened to that voice that said, ‘you can find natural health solutions from the goats on your farm’. She had the courage to listen and try it, and lo and behold, years later you have Chuckling Goat. www.chucklinggoat.co.uk. And then when the powers that be were asking her to stop talking about the miracles that kefir can do for gut health (And not because it doesn’t work. It does work, I’ve tried it.), she again found the guts to get her message out there anyway. Read her full story at www.thefarmerswife.wales.

I love stories like this. They inspire me to keep listening. Keep moving. Keep ‘gutting away’.

In the wise words of Chumbawamba: ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.’

Take care of your gut. Listen to your gut. Find the guts to do both. You will end up exactly where you need to be.

The little engine that could

Earlier this week I shot an impromptu video about a healing journey I’ve been on the past month, trying to heal a candida flare-up on my hands. It’s become clear that the process we go through for physical healing is pretty much the same deal for any kind of emotional or spiritual healing or recovery.

I won’t spill the beans, so check out the video here (it’s short, only 12 min or so).

And if you only have 30 seconds, here’s a tip that didn’t make it in the clip:

Pretend that you are The Little Engine that Could.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….

That line of thinking will get you through any Crash & Burns, Die-Off Symptoms, or Allergic Reactions.

Let me know if you can relate, and what you’ve learned from your own healing/recovery in the comments below!

 

#bu29days: Day 28: Bulimic Bloopers

aka How to spot disordered runners.

aka How to pick-up an ex-bulimic.

aka One thing NOT to ask an ex-bulimic.

 

If I were a TV show producer, I’d make a show of all the funny things that can happen to you because of your ‘disorder’. There’s been a few memorable moments I look back on that make me smile. Some are funnier than others.

Note to my 25-year-old self: When you can find humour, you are healing.


 

How to spot disordered runners.

One evening when I was still living in Manhattan, I had planned to get a quick 5 or 6 mile run in before going out to eat with friends later that night. Sure enough 6pm rolls around and it is pouring buckets, no – sheets, of rain, as a typical hot and humid summer’s thunderstorm will do.

This didn’t stop me. I plowed on. Not the smartest thing to do since the nearby claps of thunder were so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, and they were shooting out bolts of lightning.

But I had to get my run in.

This was when I wasn’t purging anymore, but still very much dependant on running and exercise for weight management, and the fact that I was going out to eat later that night meant I had to ‘make some room’.

So I’m running through the park, which resembled a ghost town, the usual posse of runners using better judgement and staying indoors this evening, and I come across one of the only other runners in Manhattan crazy enough to be running in this storm.

It’s a gym friend of mine. A girl I would go for 5:30am runs with occasionally; who was more dedicated to getting her runs in than I was.

I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months and as we’re running, both sloshing through puddles and soaked to the bone, in between thunder claps she proceeds to tell me that she just got accepted into an inpatient program for anorexia.

And I proceed to tell her that I am/was bulimic/am recovering.

I had known her for a good 18 months or so at this point. Go figure, it took an act of God to draw us out of our closets, to share our most vulnerable selves with each other, and to form a deeper level of connection.

When your disorder drives you to go for a run in life-threatening situations, you bond.

How to pick-up an ex-bulimic.

The first night my husband and I met, we were at a party and he asked me if I wanted to go outside and have a cigarette with him.

I tell him, ‘I don’t smoke but I’ll come and talk with you while you smoke.’

So we go outside and we’re chatting away, probably for like an hour or so and he goes…

‘So, you don’t have any problems that begin with ‘B’ that I should know about, do you? Because my last girlfriend was bi-polar and the one before that was bulimic.’

Best. Pick-up. Line. Ever.

He’d hit the bullseye!

How did he know!!!!?

Am I wearing a huge ex-bulimic sticker on my forehead? Or did I get one stuck to my foot along with some toilet paper when I walked out of the loo?

Considering this was in the ex-bulimic days, I wasn’t technically lying when I said, ‘Nope, not that I know of.’

Although the sideways glance, head tilt to the concrete, and quick change of topic should’ve given my secret away 🙂

And of course I’m thinking, what kind of guy keeps attracting these B-for-broken women?

But of course, we’re all B-for-broken aren’t we? We all have our mud.

So, anyway, a few dates later it somehow came up again and I told him my deepest darkest. I had been bulimic. Not anymore though, so he doesn’t have to worry if I head for the toilet at some point in the night after we’ve had burgers and fries (sorry chips).

But just for the record, yeah, you caught another B-girl.

One thing NOT to ask an ex-bulimic.

We were out for drinks and my brother-in-law was training for his first marathon. He leans over and goes, ‘Oy Kendra, you’ve run marathons, what was your nutrition like when you were training?’

I literally laughed out loud.

Seriously?

You’re asking me, the ex-bulimic, for training tips?

Me? The girl who had her head over the toilet bowl as part of her training regiment? And whose secret purpose for running them was to lose weight?

My nutrition was non-existent. Nada.

I tell him this and we’re laughing so hard tears start rolling down. Whatever you do bro, DO NOT do what I did. 🙂


A lot of times we try to bury our mud. We’re embarrassed, ashamed of it. We fear what others might think of us if they knew. It feels too vulnerable to come clean.

I share these stories because they make me smile and laugh, and they illustrate the progression of healing that is possible.

Ten years ago I wouldn’t have been able to laugh at my brother-in-law’s question. I probably would’ve regurgitated some nutrition info I read in a magazine or heard fellow marathoners talk about.

But today I can laugh about it because the wound has healed. The laughter itself is healing.

When my husband was unknowingly using the most appropriate pick-up line with me, I had healed enough that I could recognize his vulnerability in asking, and eventually be vulnerable in return; as opposed to fearing his rejection or judgement if I said, ‘Yeah, I’m a pro.’

Know that anything is possible. Your story, no matter how muddy, can open up doors. It can lead to connection. More love.

It’s starts with you embracing it. Knowing that you are enough as you are, even with the mud.


Something to think about: What shame do you carry about your story? How can you embrace your story instead? How are you able to find the humour, have a taste of the best medicine out there?

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 26: What the recovery road looks like

aka Life as an Artichoke

aka So what did getting better look like? You talk about forgiveness, it being spiritual journey, etc. Details please!

Yeah, sorry, I’ve gotten sidetracked with all the juicy stuff 🙂

So here as some key highlights:

There was bathroom floor moment #1 where I decided I wasn’t going to live like this anymore. The key here to note is that it was a choice.

Over the next 18 months, the conflicted feelings and obsessive thoughts about food was there, but with additional decisions to do more things that I actually liked to do (eg wear blue-suede shoes and study Italian) I was starting to feel better about myself and my life, and sustain the decision to not purge anymore.

Bathroom floor moment #2 came 18 months later and that’s when I realized will-power wasn’t going to cut it and some deeper healing was needed.

This is when I started praying, started reconnecting with God, and participated in a recovery course that helped me realize there was a lot more going on than just bulimia to recover from.

It was shortly after this period of time that I moved to the UK. I was living on my own for the first time, no roommates. This was a real test on the food front because I had no one to hide any weird food behaviours from. I could easily binge, or binge and purge, and no one would be the wiser.

There’s another part to this story that is quite telling. Part of the reason I was so keen to move to the UK was that I had re-met a British guy that I knew. We carried on a long-distance relationship while I was back in NYC in the hopes I’d get a transfer to London. By the time I landed and got off the plane and settled into my one-bedroom flat, he had met somebody else.

This was the real test: How would I handle being jilted at customs? The rosy picture I had painted of my new life in London with a guy by my side, just had some of the pink erased.

Thankfully the healing that I’d received up to that point grounded me. I had a deep inner peace that I had made the right decision to move here, regardless of the outcome of that relationship, and that I would be OK. Sure, it wasn’t the adventure I was expecting, but it was still an adventure.

I spent a lot of time on my own in those first few months. Lots of reading spiritual self-help books. Journalling a lot. I didn’t have TV or internet hooked up in my flat, so it really was just Me time.

There were still nights where I would have mini-binges. I say ‘mini’ because I would stop after maybe half a sleeve of crackers or half a loaf of bread, as opposed to continuing on just because I had ‘broken the seal’. The good news was, I wasn’t trying to make up for the extra calorie consumption anymore.

I was still trying to maintain my running routine, although this was starting to change too. One, because it rained non-stop that year from May through August and Two, because I couldn’t run from my office like I used to in NY. I had to go home first, and by the time I’d gotten off the 20 minute tube ride and 20 minute walk to my flat, a lot of times I wasn’t in the mood anymore, and I was listening to that.

I started to practice what I call ‘eating normally’. Grocery shopping with meals in mind and then cooking them when I got home.A meal like stir-fry, or pasta with chicken. Not just snacking or grazing on food that didn’t need much preparation like fruit and peanut butter, or a sandwich, or a salad. This was a conscious decision to change my eating habits.

This new exploration with food and my body was a reflection of the changes going on inside. My confidence was growing, I was shifting my idea of self-worth, and I was consistently putting myself into new, vulnerable, experiences and I was surviving. I was more connected to me.

Having community was a big part of this too. I’ve had an on-again off-again relationship with the church over the years and during my time in London it was very much ON. I found an awesome newly planted church in my neighborhood where I met a lot of people that I clicked with right away. Plus they served wine after the Sunday evening service and they met in pubs. This was my kind of place.

It was here that my faith was re-kindled and I realized that a lot of the strict rules that had been enforced in the church community that I grew up in (like no dancing or wine at weddings) were outed. I was able to move past a lot of the shame I was carrying about how I was living my life and that maybe God wasn’t such a control freak after all.

Within a year of moving to the UK I very much felt that my bulimia was behind me. I was talking about it in past tense. And I also had a desire to help others who were struggling. I felt that I had something to give in that front, although I didn’t quite know what or how.

I came across a sister church in London that was holding a course called New ID, created by a woman who had overcome anorexia, and I attended in the hopes that I could run the course at my church.

I think of attending that course as the final balm of healing of my bulimia. Even though I thought I was better before attending, there was a new freedom that I felt afterwards.

I know this because shortly afterwards I met my now-husband. And I was able to eat burgers, chips, drink pints of beer, make nachos, Welsh-cakes, and spinach-artichoke dip together, enjoy them together, and I didn’t bat an eye-lid. I wasn’t worried about calories, what would happen to my stomach or my thighs.

I was able to enjoy me, him, and our budding romance without the 3rd wheel of a bulimia-hangover.

It was a beautiful gift.

So at that point, I knew for sure, the bulimia was gone. And I knew it wouldn’t be coming back because, due to how a past relationship of his had ended, there was just the right amount of uncertainty to test me. And food never became the answer.

Journaling, prayer, having open and honest conversations with him, and having a good friend by my side to support me, did.

And of course, just when I thought all my ‘work’ was done – because I was pretty sure I was living a ‘normal’ life now, it became clear there was more.

This is when I realized my relationship with sex wasn’t right. I was struggling with the no-sex-before-marriage doctrine that I had literally signed my life away too in a No-Sex-Before-Marriage seminar when I was 16, and I realized I had no idea what I actually believed about sex and my own sexuality.

I realized that I was once again using sex for self-worth, validation, love and acceptance. In the same way I had been using food.

So I went to see a therapist.

That was over 7 years ago. What I have learned since then allows me to say that 7 years ago, when I could hand-on-heart say I’m not bulimic anymore and I thought I just had this little sex issue to sort out, I had only just uncovered the tip of the iceberg.

It has been in the past 7 years that I have learned and AM LEARNING what it means to not be in a codependent relationship. This was the pattern with men my whole life, except I never realized it until I went on the recovery course.

Thankfully, my husband and I promised each other that we wouldn’t carry this into our relationship (he had been in this pattern too). This meant both of us upholding boundaries with each other; not rescuing each other even when the other person wants us to. I am still guilty of the ‘wanting him too’ more often than not.

So yeah, healing from codependency, learning to set boundaries, learning to say what I mean in the moment, learning to express my wants and desires, learning to be able to think about my sexuality without embarrassment, disgust, or confusion, learning to detach my self-worth from money.. oh gosh, THAT has been a huge one too.

That has been the past 7 year journey that I’ve been on. On the outside this has looked like a lot of arguments, tears, loving embraces, having conversations at work where I speak my possibly unpopular truth, and other times where I’ve been too fearful and have held back. It’s looked like resigning from my 10 year career, following a dream to backpack in foreign and exotic places, starting two businesses, failing miserably at certain aspects, succeeding in others.

In a nutshell it’s been a rollercoaster ride.

An adventure.

I liken this adventure, from that first bathroom floor moment 12 years ago to now, to the idea of peeling back the layers of my favourite food, the artichoke, or like the more commonly known analogy, the onion. Each year, month, day, moment, another layer gets peeled back.

There is no straight path, a series of boxes to tick off, and then you’re done.

It’s a continuous cycle of revisiting the same principles and capital-T truths over and over. Each time you get to go deeper.

And maybe it’s just me, but it really is fun! I have never laughed so hard at myself, and I have never cried so hard.

Life peeling artichokes is good.


Something to think about: How can you celebrate moments that prove your own growth? What do you think about life being about peeling artichokes and onions? Would you rather be a head chef than a sous chef? 🙂 What expectations do you have for your own life and recovery?

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 25: An adventure of a lifetime

aka So you must blame your mom then, right?

No I don’t.

Your dad then?

No.

I don’t blame anyone.

Including myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I look back at my past and I can easily point fingers.

If mom wasn’t so accommodating, if my dad wasn’t so budgetary. If the church taught more about love than fear, shame, and control. If that kid didn’t spit on me, or that girl didn’t call me ‘the thing’. If my coach had asked me why running was so important to me, if I hadn’t started running, if I hadn’t learned about eating disorders in my Psych class.

So many ifs, ands, or buts.

So many contributing factors that make it all so very complex, as most eating disorder definitions will attest to.

There’s many different ways the story could’ve gone. And perhaps there could’ve been a different middle, with the absence of bulimia.

But the bulimia wasn’t the end of the story. Today isn’t even the end of the story, but the bulimia has gotten me to where I am now.

I like where I am now. And so I am grateful for my experience.

Maybe I’d be here anyway, but with a different story to tell.

I often wonder how much of life we can prevent and avoid, and how much of it we have to go through as part of a necessary process to get us where we need to be. To what extent was I already scarred when I popped out as a pumpkin, calling for inevitable healing?

Sure, it was a crazy ass invitation that brought me through a fire, but on the other side I’m finding the person I was meant to be all along. 

Marianne Williamson talks about Love being the only real thing. Any act or circumstance is either an expression of Love, or a call to Love.

There was not much I was doing out of Love throughout my eating disorder. But it was one hell of an invitation to find Love.

And it worked.

I often think, if I didn’t have such an extreme reaction, I could’ve easily just gone through life on a plateau, numbed out but coping. Things would’ve been ok. I would’ve had the house with the white picket fence, the 2.4 kids by now, maybe a dog.

But if I never learned how to actually Love, what’s the point? It’d be like living in a coma.

Now I am awake. I become more awake each day.

I never know what today is going to bring. Maybe it’s tears of joy after reading a note from a client who has woken up along the same journey. Maybe it’s tears of hurt and frustration after acting out from a place of fear, and having to pick up the pieces.

I have a sticky note hanging on my wall to remind me of something I said to Liberty a year ago, ‘I am willing for today to be something I can’t explain.

I think of my life now as like a treasure hunt. What gold nugget am I going to find today? Sometimes it is sitting there bright and shiny and I can easily pick it up. Sometimes I can kind of see the shine, but it’s muted and needs some time to get dusted off. Sometimes the nugget is covered up in layers of hardened dirt that clearly needs some work to clean it off.

We often just want the shiny nuggets. Guess what though, they only start showing up when you’re willing to clean off the dirty ones as well. In my experience anyway.

One of my clients has summed it up best:

The favourite adventure of my life so far has been learning to love myself through this ‘bulimia journey’.

She’s been cleaning off the mud caked nuggets. And it’s been a bloody ADVENTURE!

How cool is that?

Yes it can feel hard, even impossible at times. Like banging your head against a wall; over, and over, and over.

But it opens up possibilities.

So I don’t see the point in blaming.

Sometimes I really want to; for a moment I think it will give me some sort of satisfaction if I can sit back and say, ‘see I told you so!’

But what good is that? Then that pain and hurt is winning.

I have found it helpful to talk with my parents about things that I’ve struggled with in our family dynamic. It’s been hard to start the conversation and a lot of times I put it off until another day. When we do talk about things, I walk away with more understanding. Less judgement, more love.

I doubt I’ll ever have an opportunity to talk to the kid who spat on me. That’s ok though. I’m not sure I really want to or need to.

I can still choose to forgive. From wherever I am in the world. Let go of holding on to the idea that I was wronged in that situation.

It doesn’t mean that he was right. But I can let go of being the victim.

Sometimes forgiveness is like those gold nuggets. Some are really easy, others take awhile to clean off and get to genuine forgiveness.

That’s where being willing to be willing to be willing to be willing to forgive helps 🙂

So for today, think about who or what in your life are you blaming? What if you could drop the blame and see that hurt, or that mess to clean up, as an opportunity to go on an adventure of a lifetime?

You ready?

Or *should* I say ready to be ready? 🙂


Something to think about: Which is easier, blame or forgiveness? Which is better in the long run? Why is it difficult to forgive? What adventure is your life taking you on? What adventure do you want to have?

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.

 

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.