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.

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.

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.

#bu29days: Day 15: What’s Love got to do with Food?

aka How you do anything is how you do everything. 

aka Why didn’t willpower work?

Let me ask you this? Have you ever tried sticking to a diet before? How’d that work out for ya?

Dieting takes willpower. And in my experience it doesn’t work.

I’ve tried a number of them.

The South Beach Diet, the Leek Soup diet from ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’. I’ve tried eating only Superfoods.

They lasted from all of 2 hours (the leek soup was so boring and bland I ended up binging a few hours later) to maybe 2 weeks of eating cottage cheese and pineapple for lunch.

The problem with diets, is that you very rarely get to give yourself what you really want. It’s a condoned form of Deprivation.

When your desires are parked over there… with chocolate cake, burgers and fries, and buttered bagels… and all you’re giving yourself is cottage cheese and leeks, you are left wanting.

It’s a simple equation.

-10 +1 = -9  = still in lack

-10 + 10 = 0 = whole = complete = satisfied

I tried the different diets and restrictive eating in the years I was still purging. I was desperate for a solution and it was worth a shot.

The irony is, that what actually led to healing my relationship with food, was the complete opposite of your typical diet.

I had to let myself eat everything.

I know, you’re like, ‘Woah!’ Everything? Including Twinkies? And Pork Scratchings? And those really nasty cheese twists with E number whatever yellow and orange coloring and flavouring?

Yes. Everything.

Not only does that sound unhealthy, and slightly indulgent, I too can see the potential danger in opening up the floodgates for someone who A, loves food and B, was having some ‘slight’ problems controlling herself around food.

Here’s the thing though, until I gave myself permission to have whatever I wanted, this was my mentality:

  • I can’t have xyz.
  • I feel guilty if I do.
  • But xyz looks so good!
  • Stop thinking it looks good, it’s bad for you. It’s going to make you fat and you’ll binge (and maybe purge).

To break that down, you have control, guilt, the push-pull theory, fear, beratement, and distrust all in one.

I don’t see no Love.

And that’s because there wasn’t any.

When your relationship to food is built on that good vs bad lens, can and can’t, deprive and punish, fear and distrust…

the outcome isn’t going to be very loving, and it’s not going to work in the end.

Think about this, if that mentality was brought into a real relationship, say with your partner, or your kids, how would that turn out?

Disaster. Trust me, I know from personal experience.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, how we do anything is how we do everything.

We have to bring Love into our relationship with Food.

And if we can do that, guess what, bonus! It will bleed into all other areas of our life too.

So instead of good vs bad, what’s the 3rd option?

  • I am allowed to have whatever I want, when I want it.
  • I get to choose what I want in the moment.
  • The food itself isn’t actually good or bad.

An experience of freedom, expansiveness, abundance, respect, choice trust, empowerment, truth, and dare I say Love.

I’m pulling up yesterday’s definition of Love. Let’s test it out in this scenario, just for kicks.

  • Love is surrendering to the idea that you don’t have to have it all together. Surrender to the idea that you have to ‘get it right’ with food all the time. Maybe you’ll eat more than you really want at first, that’s OK. Babies fall when they are learning to walk. Adults can fall when we’re learning to eat (and live) again.
  • Love is giving yourself what you want. As in, the largest, gooiest, piece of chocolate cake on the table, if that is what you really want.
  • Love is receiving what you want. As in, don’t be thinking about how you’ll only have shakes tomorrow, or you’ll burn it off at the gym. Enjoy every single bite of it right there and then. Tomorrow you can decide what you really want for tomorrow.
  • Love is accepting your birthright to receive love. As in, stop depriving yourself of what you really want.
  • Love is engaging with beauty. Food is beautiful. It is colorful, smells amazing, tantalizes your tastebuds. And it nourishes you. Play with it.
  • Love is finding courage to face fears. Including the fear that the chocolate, or the bread, or the burger, is going to make you fat. Or that the sugar or the gluten is going to ruin your health*.
  • Love is being vulnerable. It means getting really honest with yourself about your weak spots. This doesn’t mean that you are weak. Admitting where you are is strength. Hiding from reality, not so much.
  • Love is speaking your truth. Who knows what yours is. Mine was, ‘I love food!’, something that I had been ashamed to say for years, considering how I had treated it.
  • Love invites in. It creates connection. Include others in the conversation about your relationship to food, body, and self.
  • Love does not judge. Including, ‘thou shall not judge the cheese on the pizza, or the grease on the french fries.’
  • Love does not condemn. Including the cheese, the grease, the fat, the sugar, the gluten, the white rice*.
  • Love is gentle. You don’t have to get it right on day one. We’ve got loads of time to play here!
  • Love accepts what is in the moment. I am trying this today and will see how it goes. Tomorrow is another day.
  • Love forgives, even yourself. Even when you fall back into fear and the deprive/indulge or control/release mode.
  • Love says come as you are. However many pounds of you, whatever size clothes, whatever health issues, no matter how ‘anorexic’ or ‘bulimic’, or ‘compulsive’ or ‘undiagnosable’ you are. Labels don’t matter to love.
  • Love says you are worthy. You are worthy of living freely with food, your body and yourself. You are worthy of the pleasure and joy and nourishment that food and this world offers you.
  • Love says it’s OK to let go of what you’re holding on to; I will catch you. It’s OK to drop the ‘Food Rules’ book (and dare I say ‘Life Rules’ book?)
  • Love says you don’t have to have it all figured out today. One step at a time works just fine.
  • Love speaks to you like you would a friend. You’d let your friend eat the cake without staring at her belly rolls and thinking, ‘How could she eat that when she looks like that?’. Right?
  • Love doesn’t give up. It cheers you on to keep going and find what works for you.
  • Love never fails. You will get there in the end.

I didn’t consciously know what I was doing at the time, but I started adopting this philosophy. I started to let myself have foods that had previously been forbidden; Cheese on pizza, red meat, salami, candy.

I started to explore more. What do scrambled eggs actually taste like? Do I like them?

I let myself have the ‘binge’ foods, like chocolate or ice cream, in broad daylight, without judging how many I had.

I started putting butter on bagels instead of eating them plain. And not in just any old way. I cut the bagel in half, spread the butter on, and then broiled it under the grill, just like we used to have as kids.

I started to find out what I wanted, listen to that, and give it to myself.

I began to heal.

*Note re: gluten and sugar: ?  I realize that a lot of food allergies and autoimmune conditions exist where it would be harmful to your body to eat certain foods eg gluten, sugar, etc. There is still an opportunity to bring love into the relationship. eg instead of the mentality that gluten or sugar is ‘bad’, what would love say? Probably something like this: ‘I want to take care of my body as best I can, and I’m committed to healing. Right now I am choosing to limit my sugar and gluten intake because that is what’s best for my body.’ Now you’re making a choice in line with your wants and desires, without fear, deprivation, or guilt.


Something to think about: Fear and love can’t co-exist. What are you afraid to let go of?How can you bring love into your relationship to food, and your life?

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, and see if this could be your next life raft. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 14: Love never fails

aka What were some key turning points for you?

aka Where are your roots planted?

After that initial decision on the bathroom floor to stop purging and change my life, it was slow going.

I used a lot of willpower that first year. That was hard. It takes up a lot of energy. I think that’s why that year is so blurry to me.

I have vague memories of having plans to go out with friends, but as the day went on, and time got closer, I’d cancel my plans. Either because I felt fat, had eaten too much, or just plain and simply, because it was too much to be around others when I was dealing with myself.

One time I ate through a box of really nice muesli/granola type cereal from Whole Foods when I was at my parent’s house one weekend. I felt so guilty, I bought them a new box the next day. When I gave it to them, I told them why I had bought it and they graciously said I didn’t have to do that. But for me I did. I had to make up for what I had done.

Self-inflicted Retribution. There was a lot of that going on.

I remember going shopping for jeans. Now, this is a nightmare for any woman, let alone someone who is constantly battling with their body.

Remember when Joe’s Jeans and 7 for all Mankind were all the rage?

I really wanted a pair of 7’s. I went to Saks, Bloomie’s, and all the cool boutiques in the West Village, trying on every pair of 7’s there were. None of them fit right. Either they fit over my thighs and my bum but were too big at the waist, or I couldn’t get them over my thighs.

I finally ended up with a pair of Joe’s. They weren’t quite right… wrong color, not flared enough at the bottom… but they had to do since they fit my thighs, ass, AND waist.

Jeans shopping can be traumatizing. Shopping for those Joe’s did nothing for my self-esteem. Especially since, with the decision to stop purging, came inevitable weight gain since I was still binging on a regular basis.

I finally realized that this ‘food thing’ wasn’t just going to go away and I started to reach out for some additional help.

I talked to my doctor. He tried to hypnotise the fear of fat out of me. It was an interesting experience although didn’t quite work.

I went to see a shrink. She dug around in my past looking for some trauma to explain why I was bulimic, couldn’t really find anything (jeans shopping apparently doesn’t count), and her prescription was ‘You’ll grow out of it.’ While it was predictive, not so helpful at the time.

I turned to Barnes & Noble. I picked up the book, ‘Overcoming Binge Eating’ by Dr. Christopher Fairburn. I don’t remember the details of what it said, but I remember diving into it with gusto.

The most profound moment was when I was sitting at a sushi bar with a good friend of mine from college. I don’t know how the conversation got there, but I started telling her about my food issues.

She responded with, ‘Me Too.’

This blew my mind. I had known her since before my first purge! How did we just start talking about his now!? 5 years later!

She had been there all along yet we both struggled in silence. Which makes the struggle even worse.

That night, we didn’t have solutions for each other. We didn’t become accountability partners or anything like that. But in sharing a common pain, we bonded. We knew we’d be there for each other.

I suppose knowing that a friend of mine was in similar shoes, gave me the courage to start to open up with strangers. I went to a Body Image class that a church nearby was hosting. This was in hindsight, one of the best moves I made.

The instructor shared a story of how she had struggled with accepting her body the way it was, and had been talking with a counselor who had drawn the picture of a tree. She recalled the parable about how your fruit will reflect where your roots are planted. And she asked the question:

Where are your roots planted?

This question shook me.

One, I had no idea.

Two, I assumed no where good since my fruit consisted of dependency on exercise to feel good about myself, and indulging in food when I didn’t. And an internal battle to not make myself throw up afterwards. Maybe my roots are planted in a psychological war zone? The Gaza Strip of my mind; who’s going to own it today?

Three, it brought up a lot of guilt about my spiritual life. ‘I should be going to church. I haven’t read my Bible in years. Crap! This is God condemning me!’

At the end of the day though, I realized, that wherever I was planting my roots, wasn’t really serving me. It was too temporary, too focused on receiving the approval of others in the now.

I knew I had to stop worrying about what other people thought, and do what felt right for me.

If at the time I had asked my 35 year old self, where are my roots planted and where should I plant them instead?, this is the answer I would’ve got:

“Your roots aren’t planted anywhere. You look like a solid tree, but you can be easily moved by the wind. And, you use people and the environments around you to dictate what kind of tree you will be. You’re a Chameleon Tree. Whatever little buds of a root you start to sprout, is planted in the opinion of people around you.

So start planting real roots, and go plant them in Love. Planting them in Love and planting them in God may be the same thing, but not if you plant them with the God of your childhood that comes with harsh judgement and condemnation.

Stop judging and condemning yourself. Open yourself up to having a whole new understanding of Love, and God, and plant your roots in that.”


 

As I am writing this, it is a Sunday and it is February 14th, Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate Love (and chocolate.)

I am reminded of that infamous verse about Love that is often recited at weddings. Love is patient, love is kind, etc.

I am going to take a crack at adding to that list, based on the things I have learned about love over the past 10 years. This is what I would tell my 25 year old self about Love. 

Love is surrendering to the idea that you don’t have to have it all together.

Love is giving yourself what you want.

Love is receiving what you want.

Love is accepting your birthright to receive love.

Love is engaging with beauty.

Love is finding courage to face fears.

Love is being vulnerable.

Love is speaking your truth.

Love invites in. It creates connection.

Love does not judge.

Love does not condemn.

Love is gentle.

Love accepts what is in the moment.

Love forgives, even yourself.

Love says, come as you are.

Love says, you are worthy.

Love says it’s OK to let go of what you’re holding on to; I will catch you.

Love says you don’t have to have it all figured out today.

Love speaks to you like you would a friend.

Love doesn’t give up.

Love Never Fails.

3 love never fails 900x900

Something to think about: Where are your roots planted? How can you start planting them in Love? What is love to you?

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, and see if this could be your next life raft. Join us this February.

Why I Dance

Dance Like Nobody's WatchingYears ago when I shared a flat in London with my good friend Fran, we would have occasional ‘Sunday Night Dance Parties’ where we’d blast some beats, jump around like schoolgirls, move our bodies and laugh until our sides hurt. The kind of dancing you’d never do in a club with other people watching, but oh, so much fun. Continue reading