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.

Learning to Breathe

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


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

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

Turns out they weren’t so delicious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding my calm in the middle of the storm

This story of the week is actually the story of the Year. It started August 2015, or actually June 2015, or actually… how far back do we ever have to go to find the beginning of our story?

It’s a story of learning to Trust. Be Open to what I can’t explain. And learning what Love is. Especially when it hasn’t always felt good..

Here’s how it begins.

On June 1, I experimented with a True You Treasure Hunt and the treasure I found that day looked like this: Don’t expect to take the weather with you when you move climates.

It was June 1st and I was taking a hot bath to keep warm. I’d rather it be jumping in a pool to keep cool on June 1st, but hey ho. Not my ideal weather, but I was trying to let it go. The weather isn’t really something to get upset about now is it?

On July 5th I left my house that morning to go for a walk in the Brecon Beacons and it was wet and gray. By that evening I found myself sitting on my couch facing my husband saying the words, ‘I need space’.

Fyi telling your husband that you need space is scary.

I didn’t need space from him, but I needed space from the gray, from wanting my coaching efforts to pay off, from the never ending saga of setting up a fish farm, from wearing gloves and having the heat on in July.

But still, you never know what they’re going to say.

I am forever grateful that he understood and could lovingly and graciously look at me and say. ‘OK. Why don’t you go to home to NY for a few weeks?’ I’m not sure I would’ve done the same.

When I heard him say that, something clicked though. ‘Home? That’s not the space I need. I want to go to Italy.’

On August 4th I was on a plane to Rome for a 10 day ‘work-away’ stay in Abruzzo. I had no idea what to expect other than sun, heat, blue sky, and that I’d be doing odds and ends at an eco-tourism village in exchange for room and board.

It turns out it was an experience I still can’t explain.

By Sunday August 9th, I was sleeping in the bed of the daughter of the woman who owned the eco-tourism project that I had rocked up to. (If that sounds kinky, it’s not.) We had started talking while chopping tomatoes and sun bathing on the beach, and it turned into one of those moments when the you look at each other and think, ‘Right, I’m not in Kansas anymore. We’ve clearly walked into each other’s life for a reason other than my trimming your olive trees and you giving me a respite from Welsh summer.’ She invited me to stay overnight in her city apartment so we could talk about potential opportunities of working together in the future.

It became clear that I could help support her and her growing business from back in Wales, which would give me the opportunity to establish some roots in Italy and let my dream of living there start to take shape.

I remember giving my husband a call and filling him in on the developments and feeling:

Impregnated.

Now, I have never been pregnant, and I have no idea what real pregnancy feels like. But that was the second time in my life my where my womb space felt like something was growing in it.

Once, the day I opened myself up to spending the rest of my life with my now- husband. Twice, that day when I opened myself up to creating a life in Italy.

A check-in here about what that impregnated feeling felt like: Like being in the eye of a storm.

Complete calm, completeness, and certainty, in a sea of a million questions, unknowns, no plans, and uncertainty.

I was sure, even though I had nothing to be sure about. I was saying ‘Yes’, without a guarantee.

And I was holding on to that pregnant feeling while the questions of, What does this mean? Are you crazy? Where’s the 10 step plan? What about this? What about that?, were vehemently swirling around me.

It just so happened that the week I was in Italy, I was reading Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love.

She planted a seed of truth in my mind and my heart that I held on to: Only Love is real.

I guess that’s what left me feeling calm in the middle of that shit storm… I was opening myself up to Love.

Now here is where it gets really interesting.

I think Love, and I think, Yay! Hugs and kisses and hearts and roses and everything turns out perfect! No stress, no worries, no angst.

Far from it.

For the next 5 months I was tested in every way possible.

I thought this decision to open myself to Love, to say yes to an opportunity that I knew in my gut, my heart, my soul, was the way forward, would be smooth sailing. It would give me financial security, it would give me my dreams on a platter.

What it gave me instead was growth.

For 5 months I wrestled with the question: do I stay or do I go now?

The growing pains of navigating a new working relationship, of not having all expectations met, of putting your foot in your mouth and having to clean it up when your dark side is seen.

For 5 months I felt like I was on a seesaw.

But I felt so sure back in August! Was that false? Did I somehow trick myself? Can I no longer trust my gut and that feeling that feels so good and is so hard to explain?

Because this doesn’t feel good anymore! My body doesn’t feel good and I’ve practicing listening to my body! If that’s the case, I should run!

Except here’s the thing: Your body is not going to feel good when you have jumped aboard the Fear boat.

Your body will always feel good when it is in the middle of Love.

It doesn’t matter if the final decision is to stay or to go. That part is irrelevant. What matters is how you feel when you make that decision.

Whatever you choose, if it’s surrounded with Love, it is the ‘right’ decision for you.

I didn’t quite get that at the time, but thankfully 5 months ago I knew enough not to jump ship because that didn’t feel good either. And what I found by staying, was learning how to Love more. How to surrender my own expectations of how story would all unfold, and actually walk with what is.

What I got to experience was a miracle on so many different levels.

To be given the gift of watching another person’s journey to Love unfold in front of me as I was on my own. To see a Jew and Christian ‘by birth’ be able to share experiences of the same God. To discuss business challenges in two very different industries and realize that the only difference is the number of zeroes stuck on the end of the number.

To experience that although we looked different on the outside, we are actually the same on the inside.

Which brought me full circle to a place of being open, being able to listen to what’s in front of me.

And so this summer, when I kept putting off my dream of having a True You Retreat in Italy until 2017 (because of fear of not having enough time or people in my life), but then had these words of encouragement said to me 4 weeks ago:  ‘Why don’t you just have it this September. You’re going to be here anyway.’

I could listen to the nudge.

And once again find the calm within the storm of How? And Who? And What do I do now?

And so begins the next cycle of Listening, Trusting, Growing, and Loving. And dare I say Healing and dare I say Living?

I am currently walking through the Growing part… the process of actually walking forward into the uncertainty and the unknown after you choose to Trust. I’ve never held a retreat before. And fyi… there are lots of inner and outer world obstacles to navigate. And even now as I am writing this on August 21st 2016, even with the certainty that 5 of us will be there in September, I still have no idea how it will turn out!

But as I look back over the past 14 months, here’s what I’ve learned and keeps me moving forward.

#1: Don’t poo poo your dissatisfactions and disgruntledness. If you’re not happy, you’re not happy. There’s probably a good reason why. And instead of trying to force the smile and pretend it’s all OK (because the weather, or my problem du jour, is such a silly thing to be upset about, I have it so good), call a spade a spade. If the weather is pissing you off, let it piss you off. You never know where it will lead you.

#2: Always be open, be present to what is right in front of you. I arrived in Italy last year with an inkling of a dream to live there and have retreats there, and imagined it was years down the road. It would require us owning a villa tucked away somewhere. When events began to open up different doors that had the potential to lead me to the same place, part of me wanted to say No, this doesn’t fit my picture. What about, oh yeah, I don’t have the whole picture.

Lesson #3: It’s ok to trust the feeling of complete calm, peace, and serene knowing from deep within. It may only last a moment, (because the minute you take the first step of action all the fear and uncertainty and doubt now has a new spot on the path to try to take over), but trust the moment.

Lesson #4: Choices when you are open, and present, and inviting in Love, will feel good. It doesn’t matter whether the choice is to end something or start something, you will still have the peace and the calm to ground you even if only for a moment. That doesn’t mean that Fear, Doubt, and Distrust goes away forever. And so when you find yourself in that boat, find your way back to Love. Chances are you’ll grow as you find your way there.

What you can learn from your 10 year old

Written by Liberty Bain for The True You Project:

My 10 year old started a new school this week. Last week was spent getting everything in order; buying uniforms, supplies and going to orientation. He loves his school bag from last year but wanted it to be monogrammed.  

Before we headed out on our shopping expedition, he showed me a creative design he’d dreamed up for how he wanted his name sewn onto the bag. His name begins with a W and his design included a lightning bolt.

When we arrived at the monogram lady’s shop, she laid the bag out and asked how big he wanted his name and what color thread he desired. At this point he started questioning her to see if she ever did special designs, etc. That’s when Miss Pat, as we got to know her, invited him to pull up a chair in front of her design computer and look through hundreds of possible lightning bolts. From there they perused different stitches and other options for his bag.

Five minutes turned into ten and ten turned into twenty. I got super itchy on the inside, thinking this was taking too long, and I thought about trying to hurry him up.  

I asked myself a question instead: What is it about this process that is triggering me?

I realized I have a tendency to rush through things that are important because I fear ‘taking too long’ will annoy people and I’ll end up feeling rejected.

Letting that old story go began right there in the shop. I chose to watch him live like he belongs and matters, to simply let him be who he was in the moment. I also got to practice getting comfortable with my discomfort.

After settling on the size and shape of the lighting bolt, he spent a full 5 minutes choosing just the right blue thread.  I almost rushed him here too, but watching his process I bit my tongue (again). His presence and trust astounded me. He never flinched about asking for more blue thread options or a bigger lighting bolt, and he didn’t settle for anything that he didn’t really love. Never once did he consider he wouldn’t be able to get what he really wanted. It clearly had not crossed his radar that he needed to hurry or that this was ‘taking too long.’

Observing my son, vulnerably and wholeheartedly, enjoying his next loving step totally inspired me.  He used a basic process that  included asking lots of questions, taking time, and making his best choice.

So I wondered: where can I apply a ten year old’s trusting principle of continuing to ask for what I want and how I want it?? How quickly can I shuck the lie that I need to curb my desires??

First, I need time and space to dream and practice creativity; to come up with my own lightning bolt designs for life.  

Then I want to trust that everything is conspiring to help me ask for what I want to become reality.

Everything might not turn out exactly how I want – but it won’t be because I held back or talked myself out of it because I didn’t want to annoy anyone or make them uncomfortable.

How about you? Where in your life do you need to ask for more!?

What are your unique designs you want to bring to the surface?
Where could you reframe ‘I can’t because…’ into creativity for how you actually could??  
Where is possibility hiding in plain site in your life??

How incredible would it feel to go for it?? Whatever IT is??

If the answers to all these questions feel like way long shots, reach out to me or Kendra for a nourishing session to connect you to your True You. Email us at trueyou.inspire[at]gmail[dot]com

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 21: Why your right-brain matters

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

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

That is a good possibility 🙂

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

They are intelligent. They are driven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20160221_184205.jpg
My new way of business planning

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

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

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

I’ll take butterflies and rainbows anyday.

Oh, and CIA dramas.

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

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

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

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

Wow, that’s a powerful statement.

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

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

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

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

Reconnect with your creative self.

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

The point is to recover your creative self-expression.

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

Whatever works.

Recover your quintessential self.

Find him or her on the pages of your soul.


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

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

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

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

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

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

aka What can house music teach us about eating disorders?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be more of who I was.

I had to make some changes.

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

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

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

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

That wasn’t the only drastic change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Kenge! You’re back!’

She knew.

The quintessential Kendra was on her way back to town.

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

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

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

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

I slowly but surely…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a little secret.

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

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

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

So I walk in, not knowing a soul.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#bu29days: Day 16: It’s OK to play with your food

aka You said, let go of the Food Rules book. Why would I want to do that?

aka Why do you eat standing up? I thought you’re supposed to eat sitting down?

It’s simple. Sometimes I eat standing up because I’ve been sitting down for a few hours and when I take a break to have something to eat, my body would rather by standing than sitting. 

Gasp!!!!

‘But is says in the book, ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’, that one of the reasons they don’t get fat is because they always eat sitting down. Aren’t you afraid you’re going to get fat?!’

No.

Standing up while eating doesn’t make you fat. It doesn’t even automatically make you eat more.

The reason why French women don’t get fat, in my book anyway, is because they are very present with their food when they are eating.

Get this, you can be present with your food whether or not you’re standing up or sitting down.

I will say this though. When I used to binge, it was often a stand-up binge. It somehow felt more transient, like it would be over faster, and less of a reality… as if it wasn’t really happening because I wasn’t purposefully sitting down. If I was standing in front of the fridge with the door open while eating, or walking back and forth between the kitchen and living room, it was as if I would have more of a chance at stopping.

So, as part of getting out of that cycle, it can be very helpful to make a choice such as, ‘I will only eat sitting down’, if that helps create a new healthy habit.

However, that new healthy habit can just as easily take hold over you and freak you out.

I got a phone call from a woman who was worried she was forming bad food habits because she was tasting food while she was preparing food for her toddler daughter. She had struggled with anorexia, and as part of her recovery, had learned to portion out her food and eat while sitting down.

And here she was 4 years later, grazing and eating while standing!  She was driving herself nuts, throwing her head into a spin, and dove straight back into the grips of the good/bad mentality. Was this binging? Was she relapsing? Was it ok to taste test food while cooking it?

What about eating bits of food while encouraging your toddler to eat and then sitting down for an ‘adult’ meal afterwards? It’s like eating two meals one right after the other! Is that allowed?

We talked this through and she realized, the reason she was tasting the food was because

  1. it looked yummy and she wanted some
  2. she wanted to make sure it tasted nice before feeding it to her family.
  3. she was eating with her child to help facilitate her child’s eating
  4. she still felt hungry so she’d feed herself

Is there anything wrong with that?

In my opinion, no. 

It was helpful for her to get clear on what she actually wanted:

  1. Make sure the food tasted good for her family.
  2. Enjoy the time with her daughter as she was growing into a new stage of life.
  3. Have quality time with her husband.
  4. Enjoy food.

We talked about the idea that some days, that might be eating with her daughter and her husband one right after the other. And other nights, maybe she is hungry early and so has a fuller meal with her daughter, and then enjoys a glass of wine sans food with her husband.

Getting clear on desires and intention helped her to navigate herself out of the spin she was throwing herself into in trying to follow the rules.

Personally, I’d rather play with my food, have the freedom to do what feels right at the time and suits my lifestyle, than be worried about ‘doing it right’ and feeling guilty afterwards when it goes potentially ‘wrong’.

Rules can definitely help, usually for a season. Getting clear on what you want will guide you for a lifetime.

So that is why sometimes you’ll see me eating while standing up.

I have a favourite spot by a south-facing window and my lemon tree. On a sunny day, I can transport myself to the Amalfi Coast when I am standing there. I love preparing a plate of food, and then enjoy it while standing and sunbathing, staring out the window, watching the world go by.

You’ll also see me grazing while I prepare dinner. Bite off the end of the carrot, munch on a celery stick and throw the other half in the soup. It’s fun for me.

My absolute favourite: I LOVE buying an ice cream cone, fresh and homemade ice cream please, and then lazily walk down the street, or along the beach, with it dripping over my hand as I lick the sides and end up with it all over my face. It’s the only way I’ll eat an ice cream cone: while standing up.

In fact, when we were travelling and we’d stop for ice cream, I’d boycott if I wasn’t able to eat it while standing up. Going back in the car and eating it while driving just didn’t do it for me. I’d rather go without.

I suppose you could say this is a food rule: ‘I won’t eat an ice cream cone sitting down.’ and ‘I won’t eat a packaged ice cream bar when I have the choice of freshly made scoops.’

As I mentioned yesterday, I’d rather give myself the full 10 of pleasure and enjoyment, than only meet it halfway and still be craving more. Because the craving isn’t actually for the food, it’s for the experience.

And this is why French women don’t get fat, because when they are eating: they are creating an experience with their food. It gives them Pleasure! It’s less about the food and more about the sensory stimulation throughout the meal.

More of that please!

Which leaves my food rule book empty except for these two questions:

  • What do you want right now?
  • Why do you want it?

As long as my ‘why’ isn’t to mask some emotion; stress, boredom, nerves, vulnerability, frustration, etc, then I’m OK with giving myself what I want.

Sometimes that is a green smoothie for breakfast. Sometimes it’s no breakfast. Sometimes it’s eggs on toast.

Sometimes it’s sitting down with a knife and fork to eat a gorgeous salad for lunch. Sometimes it’s having cheese and crackers by the window.

Sometimes it’s a really nice homemade dinner of roasted veg, steak or lamb, and garlic & rosemary roasted potatoes. Sometimes it’s a more playful meal of homemade crispy squid (deep fried in oil), smoked paprika swede or sweet potato chips, and a Jamie Oliver inspired yogurt dip. Sometimes it’s take out from the curry house, or pizza from the shop.

Sometimes I share a plate of dates and walnuts and dark chocolate with my husband while watching our Amazon Prime show of the week. Or we make popcorn, or ice cream on crumble (I will eat it as an accent :)), or a couple of biscuits from the shop.

And, sacrilege, sometimes my stomach is rumbling at 10:30 or 11pm before I go to bed, and I eat a handful of nuts or dried apricots within 10 minutes of climbing into bed.

As opposed to rules, I suppose you could say I’ve adopted guidelines for the playground. Signposts to reflect my core values, my quintessential self. These include things like:

  • Know what is in the food so that I know what I’m giving my body. I value real food. Which has led me to expand my cooking horizons; making bread, granola bars, and chicken stock from scratch. You’d be surprised at how much cleaner your poo is when you eat natural ingredients.
  • Treat myself. I value variety and nice things. When eating out, I’ll order the meal and dessert that sounds amazing and I probably would botch at home.
  • Listen to any cravings. I value my desires, whether one of the soul or stomach. These don’t have to be intense, all-consuming cravings, but if I feel like having a piece of chocolate in the middle of the day, I’ll listen to it. Why fight it? 
  • Make space for connection. I value connection and beauty. At dinnertime, I’ll clear the table of any work related clutter so I can focus on my husband and our conversation in a beautiful space. When there is a real connection with someone while eating, the food adds to an already great experience.

It boils down to two things: Is this nourishing? Will this give me pleasure?

Recently I noticed that I am still carrying a fear that was showing up with food.

The fear of ‘running out’. Whether this is of running out of an ingredient in the cupboard, or food on the table, or money in the bank, or creative ideas, or energy with clients, this fear was pervasive across the board.

A great example of, how you do anything is how you do everything.

I realized it first with food. I noticed I’ve been skimping on using the full measurement of certain ingredients that were more expensive or harder to find, or that I somehow thought of as ‘special’ or pleasurable. Like raw cacao powder, or coconut oil, or butter, or even just a normal spice if we were getting close to the bottom.

I’d try to hold on to what we had and deprive myself of some of the pleasure the ingredient brought to the recipe. As opposed to believing and trusting that there is more where that came from, and receive it fully.

The idea of a never ending flow of abundance or love is a new one I am still wrapping my head around.

So now a couple new guidelines are:

  • Slow down. I’m learning to value each moment for what it is without worrying about tomorrow. Chew more slowly so that I am enjoying each bite instead of racing to finish in time to have seconds before they run out.
  • Use the full amount. I’m learning to value my worth and the art of receiving. Let myself experience the full amount of flavour and pleasure that the recipe calls for, just because I can and I’m worth it.

What I love about this, is that playtime now extends beyond food.

As part of healing my relationship with food; ditching the good vs bad, the can vs can’t’s, I’ve opened a door to another 3rd option: playfully and lovingly creating what I want.


 

Something to think about: What’s your take on rules? How do they serve you? What are some rules that aren’t serving you anymore? What parallels can you draw between your relationship with food and other areas of your life? What is a desire, intention, or value of yours that you want to start listening to?

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 get connected to your core values. Join us this February.

#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 4: Me & Food Go Way Back

aka What’s your dirty little secret?

aka That one time in band camp…

Turning up as an 11+lb  baby kinda gives my dirty little secret away. Let’s just say that my size was not because I have ninja growth hormones. Nope, it’s because…

I love food!!!! And I like to eat!!!!!

I always have, ever since I was the size of a pea.

Except now I listen to my mom tell stories of how I was such a good eater as a baby, and I’m like, great, that got me far.

My earliest memory of food was when I was 4 or 5 years old and my mom was teaching me how to make Lemon Chicken Cutlets in our kitchen. I loved cooking more than playing with dolls.

There’s lots of stories about me and food.

Like the time me, my mom and my sister were in the paper because ‘we’, aka mom, baked dozens and dozens of cookies for the church Christmas pageant. #famousforherfood

And there’s one that goes like this… ‘Remember that time we were in that Italian restaurant in England and Kendra ate a 16 oz steak all by herself? The waiter was so shocked because she was only 10 years old. But she cleaned her plate, licked her lips, and beamed at the waiter with a huge smile on her face!’ #gottaloveyourmeat

Then there was the time I was featured in the local paper as a senior in highschool because I was (finally) doing really well in cross-country. The journalist wrote something like this: ‘Kendra’s performance has greatly improved. She has lost 5 lbs and after State Championships she’s looking forward to going out for a Chocolate Sundae.’ (#misquote: it was really a Banana Split I was gearing up for.)

Food has always been something I’ve enjoyed. It’s been a pleasure of mine.

But it’s also been a source of shame.

In grade school, my mom would send me packed lunches from home and (with the best intentions) tried to give me the healthy options.

Which meant that instead of the standard PB&J 5 times a week, sometimes I’d open my lunch box to find sweaty slices of cheddar cheese to go along with my crackers. Or ‘peanut butter balls’, which, note to self, by 5th grade everybody giggles at the word ‘balls’.

Real Fruit Roll-ups were replaced with the healthy fruit leather kind. Instead of My Little Pony gummy snacks, I had the 100% juice fruit snacks. I wasn’t allowed soda, or chewing gum, or Doritos.

I totally get why. And guess what, my kids won’t be eating crap like that either (at least I say that now).

But every action has an equal and opposite reaction and here was mine:

Why am I different? Why do those kids get to have the ‘cool’ food and not me?

Another perfect opportunity for Mr Dick to chime in.

A common mentality that exists with food, regardless whether you have an ‘eating disorder’ or not, is the two-punch hit of Deprivation and Indulgence.

It goes like this:

Restrict, limit, count calories, only eat from the ‘good’ list, stay on the wagon.

Followed by ooh, I’ll just have one and stop there, consume more than you’re ‘allowed’, eat the whole bag, screw it the diet’s gone to hell.

Followed by oh shit, run to the gym, only eat fruit and veg, start a new diet, restrict, limit, etc. And here you are back at square one.

Been there?

As a kid, there was a lot of food that wasn’t allowed; all for logical reasons, but not something I embraced at the time since the foods that looked pretty, colorful, fun, and allowed for connection with other kids my age, were forbidden. The deprivation mode was modelled, which left me craving for more.

So I also learned how to Indulge.

Who remembers Sizzlers? The all-you-can-eat-buffet restaurant? We’d go there as a family treat if we were out for the day.

I always loved Sizzlers. There was no end to the food! You could just keep going back for more! And so one time, I ate so much, I busted the belt I wearing.

No joke. I’m sitting there at the table in a pair of jeans, wearing this thin faux leather belt that was a pretty pastel color with the belt holes in the shape of stars. Or maybe hearts. I had a massive food baby going on in my belly and I took one breath a little too deeply. ‘Pop’, the belt snapped. I was 10. Maybe 11.

I was too embarrassed to say anything. So I kept on eating.

At 13 or so, a friend of mine who opened the door for me to enter into the ‘cool’ kid circle (they wore Keds… the real kind not the knock-offs from Kmart, and they shopped at the Gap), started having sleepovers. I swear I had never seen so much food from the off-limits list all in one place in my life. I was in heaven.

Pizza from the best pizzeria on Staten Island, potato chips, Doritos, Skittles, Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses. And as 13 year old girls do, we’d get really silly and mix the most random combo of foods possible. Skittles on pizza was my favourite. (Gross, I know.)

But this was a huge release for me. To feel normal with a group of friends where I could enjoy food that was a far cry from sweaty cheese… I liked myself a bit more.

But this didn’t last long because soon after my 13 year old self was enjoying Skittles on pizza, the Fear of Fat took over. And pretty soon, my whole diet became the epitome of ‘Deprive’.

I was famous for having ‘bagels and lettuce’ for lunch. I’d have my mom bake chicken nuggets instead of fry them in olive oil and sauteed onions. On Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve of all days!) I’d have her make three-cheese lasagna rolls without the cheese.

I ignored the fact that what I was eating didn’t look or taste as nice as everyone else’s. I didn’t allow myself the pleasure. Pleasure and turning your body into a machine don’t mix.

So when the journalist told the world how I had lost 5 lbs and was looking forward to the banana split turned chocolate sundae, he was describing the Deprive/Indulge cycle that I had fallen prey too.

And in my book, he glorified it.

And so my new pleasure became succeeding at the deprivation.


 

What I know now that I wish I knew then?

Allow for pleasure. Balance pleasure with nourishment.

Let pleasure teach you about your soul’s desire.

Sometimes I look back and I wonder, if that love for food hadn’t been coupled with shame, where would I be now?

And now, just writing this, I realize, my love for food now is not coupled with shame, so what are my possibilities now?

Something to think about: How does your food story begin? Do you have any pleasures in life that you deprive yourself of because they are linked to shame? What can your pleasure and your desires teach you about who you are at your core?

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 at www.thetrueyouproject.com 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 True You. This February I’m co-hosting free weekly calls with Liberty Bain on Wednesdays; a time to have your questions answered and receive loving support about everything you’ve just read. Join us!