The List

Living ‘List-free’, as told by Liberty Bain!


While away on a girl’s trip a few weeks ago, my phone broke. After the shock of the shattering subsided, I accepted no access to my online world, and experienced one of the best weekends of my life.  On the drive home my sister and two sIL’s commented on how different I’d been during our stay.  As we talked we realized not having my phone played a huge part in being totally free to experience whatever the weekend brought.

And it held a ton of goodies waiting to say yes to:

Reading and sun? check.
Plenty of time to float in restorative salty water? yes.
No time limits, have to’s or should’s? yep.
Oyster shooters? I’ll take another.
Then I got home and encountered my nemesis: The List.  The List decrees what’s important and what needs to be accomplished in a day.  And after being at the beach for several days Everything Item on The List Demanded my Full attention.  There’s only one problem with my to-do list: it doesn’t make me happy or help me stay present at all.  It keeps me active and spinning, co-dependent and Super Busy, but not happy or free.   And I noticed it all because of the broken phone.  Because of all the space created by not having a phone I actually felt how bad and rigid having a list makes me feel.  When I remain tied to that to-do monster and stuck in accomplishing  and performing mode, I stay disconnected from myself, from others and from God.
Having the very recent data about how much I thrived without the tether of my phone, I chose to take it one step further and break my to-do list.  The seed began as a suggestion from my therapist and is blossoming into a a whole new awakened way of life.  No more check lists, grocery lists, any kind of list.
My desire’s to be connected to my own heart throughout the day, and what the day has for me is much more at the surface now.  When I have a thought like “today would be a great day to go pick pears and make a pie…” I don’t immediately try hard to fit it in somewhere on next week’s to-do list.  I just pull over and pick.
Not having a list is also making me way more human.  No more super-woman I can do/remember/be everything. I actually told one of my children, “I really don’t know if I’ll be able to pick up the bread, because my list broke.  But I will try.”  Doesn’t that sound healthy and human?!?! Also – it’s surrender.  If it’s important it will happen, and if not, then it will come around again. Or not.  What is ‘it’anyway? Without a list, I feel like I have more choices and choices equal possibility and possibility equals expansion for life to be something I cannot anticipate, control or explain!
Here’s how it played out in real life on Wednesday night:
I had picked the pears and I was enjoying peeling them, sampling them and singing!  I noticed how juicy each pear was from all the rain we’ve had this year, when I heard my 10 year old calling me from outside.  His voice was distressed as he pointed to the field where we keep the chicken pens.  “Mom, Look! all the chickens are out!!” As I squinted into the almost-setting sun, I saw countless white and brown birds pecking their way through the field. Un-contained chickens are not my specialty, so I called my super farmer brother, Justin.  He said he’d be over in 10 minutes so I whisked thru my pie making, sliding it into the oven just as he fishtailed into the driveway.
I walked quickly out to the field and noticed that he’d thought to bring a helper too: his 2 1/2 year old son, Henry. We figured out that herding the chickens into the lanes created by the line of pens made catching the birds pretty easy.  I love birds in general,  but am a bit squeamish about touching live chickens, so it was a stretch for me.  At first I was just a herder, getting them into position for West and Justin to catch.  But towards the end I got much better at grabbing those quick creatures.  We caught  1 bird, then 2, then 5, 10 (there were well over 200 to catch and re-contain)  as we worked, Henry began calling out from his place in the field.
“Look, Dad! Look, Aunt Liberty! Look, West! The Sun! It’s going away!  No I mean it really look!! Look! Look, Dad! it’s going down! Look! Look! Aunt Liberty!” Every few minutes another reminder to check out the flaming orange, purple and fuscia sky.  Every few minutes calling out his heart’s desire for us to join him in enjoying the beauty we were standing knee deep in.
After we got done with the catching and before we had all the tools to repair the pens, I took a break, sat down and just listened.  I heard West and Henry wrestling in the deep grass. I heard the soft cheeping of all those birds we’d just caught. I heard the symphony of crickets and cicadas and I marveled the last sprays of a stunning sunset. I felt myself really alive and connected to this valuable moment.
Being dialed into my heart, I recognized that without a list I was savoring the entire experience. I was truly present.  Not busy spinning and wondering how I would get everything else done, in fact I wasn’t thinking of ‘everything else’ at all.
The interruption, the great chicken escape had turned out to be an evening I couldn’t quite explain.  The evening ended up full of connection to myself, to West, justin and Henry and the One who created all the beauty around me.  It ended up being more positive data on living without a List, without all the (supposed!) have to’s and should’s.  So many goodies to say yes to!!
West and I walked home at dusk thru tall grass and the oven timer was going off – the pear pie was ready.  And one of my best friends was standing in my kitchen waiting to know where I’d been.  After I explained the chicken adventure, she asked if we could take a walk together. I felt so happy to be free enough to accept her invitation.
Liberty

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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

What trapeze school taught me about Letting Go

Sunday kicked off week 1 of Your True You Journey, an 8 week group program that 6 beautiful women here in Swansea have started together, and we start off with the seemingly hardest, yet sometimes the simplest topic: Letting Go.

Two days later, I was asked by someone else… ‘How do you let go?’

As I’ve been trying to hack into this concept, find the 5 step plan to ‘letting go’, I think back to the time I went to trapeze school for a day in NYC.

We were however many frightening-feet high in the air swinging from a trapeze bar, and guess what? The only way to get down, to get home, was to let go of the bar.

It really was that simple. Open my hands. Detach myself from the bar.

The hard part? I’d be falling an uncomfortable distance to the net below.

I’m sure I held on for a couple swings more than necessary before gathering up the courage to let go and drop.

I survived.

The lesson here: Letting go takes gathering courage to be in an uncomfortable and unknown space, but the act is practically automatic.

When I let go of the bar I didn’t consciously tell my hand to open up, and my fingers to move in an upward direction.

No. In the moment my mind chose to let go, my body followed suite.

Lesson here: Letting go is a moment by moment choice.

Our final acrobatic move on the trapeze that day was one of those hang upside down and swing to the person on the other side moves, where you have to be swinging in perfect harmony in order to lock arms, and then swing together.

That took Trust.

Trust that the experts would launch our swing at the right time. Trust that the other experienced trapeze artist would have a strong enough grip to hold me, and trust that the nets below would catch me.

In that split second moment when I felt the grip of the other, I had to release and relax my legs to let go of the bar, otherwise I’d be pulled back in the other direction.

Lesson Here: I had to trust the bigger picture. And trust that letting go at the right moment would make everything work like clockwork.

I was not masterminding the whole performance, controlling every action of every person. I had to surrender to my part: Stay present, stay connected, feel, listen.

Now, let’s talk about the fall.

Of course, when playing on a trapeze in a set up that is purposefully there for amateurs, and has an insurance policy to cover any and all accidents, there were many, many, many nets below me, ready to gently break my fall.

In life I often think that I am supposed to be my own net.

Trust me. You do not want me to be a net. I will crack and shatter with the impact of any object plummeting toward me with irreversible gravitational force.

Either that or I will swiftly move to the side and that object will fall splat on the ground.

I can not be my own net.

That in and of itself is a letting go moment. I can not be all things to all people, including myself. I can not fix all problems, including my own.

So if I’m not my own net, then who or what is?

Well, in real life trapeze school, the owner put the net there;  the person who created a space for me to play in. They obviously knew I wasn’t going to start swinging and never stop. I’d need to come down at some point.

They foresaw a need and intentionally designed a facility to catch people when they fall.

What is your net for life?

I like to think of mine as the force that created a space for me to play in; the creator of my existence and the world I live in.

I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t something to catch me. I didn’t force, or will, my own existence into being.

Lesson here: I can choose to believe that, if something got me here, something’s going to catch me.

But only if I let go.

Otherwise I will continue to swing back and forth in fear of falling, fear of failing, straining and exerting all of my energy to hold on to something that I think is providing me safety; eg that trapeze bar.

But if I am holding on to that for dear life, I have no life. I am stuck, at some ridiculously high height in the air, not able to do anything but swing back and forth. The view might look good, but it gets old after awhile.

Let go? And and a whole new world opens up.

So you see, there is no 5 step plan; unless Courage, Presence, Choice, Trust and Faith count. Each of those steps are a practice in itself.

Earlier this year I made a picture prayer. A physical representation of the desire I have for my life.

20160318_131848

As you see, it starts with Teach Me…

What I’ve learned is, as you ask to be taught, the lessons present themselves.

Practice courage, presence, choice, trust, and faith in each moment, along with a heavy dose of grace & love, just like that daring young man on the flying trapeze, you’ll fly through the air with the greatest of ease :).

 

 

#bu29days: Day 27: The ultimate Trust test

aka Why do you walk when you run? I thought real runners don’t walk.

aka How will you feel about your body if and when you put on weight?

One thing I haven’t talked much about is how my relationship with my body has changed. I have gone from trying to turn it into a machine, running every day, freaking out and potentially binging if I didn’t, routinely lifting weights and doing situps and pushups, to a much more intuitive way of working with my body.

I hardly run at all anymore. If I do, I usually walk part way through.

Gasp! This is sacrilege!

Trust me I know. I have definitely had the thought, and admittedly said outloud, ‘real runners don’t walk.’

That was my MO when my identity was that of a ‘runner’. Call what I did a ‘jog’ and you got ‘the look’ from a pair of devil eyes.

Runners RUN. They do not jog. And they most certainly do not walk.

This was my mentality when my self-worth was tied to how far and how fast I ran. Stopping to catch my breath was a sign of weakness. Stopping to smell the roses, not an option.

As I started to slowly lighten up with food, I similarly did about running. By the time I moved to the UK I was less rigid about running. I was playing soccer, going to spin class, and yoga.

While I was mixing it up, running was still my go-to activity for weight management and I suppose, grounding me.

When I moved to London, I quickly learned that ‘running’ and ‘working out’ is a whole different thing compared to NY. The city itself has a different vibe. The energy is different. People aren’t so driven, Type-A, on a mission.

In NYC pretty much every Manhattanite I knew had a gym membership. Its what you did, no question. Like paying City taxes.

In London, if pub memberships were an option, every Londoner would have one.

In NYC, as a runner, you had to be tight and toned; low percentage of body fat, cut muscles, as well as having the latest gear. Running around Central Park was like performing on a catwalk.

In London, people wobble and jiggle when they run. This was literally a foreign concept to me.

The only time I had known anything different was when I met this one woman in NY who carried probably 20lbs more than the average runner. Her legs were stocky and muscular, vs sleek and toned. Her arms had very little definition and her belly had fat rolls.

Yet she kicked my ass in every race we ever entered, including the marathon.

This challenged my whole paradigm. You could be fat AND a runner?

Not that I embraced the idea. Guilty as charged, I was extremely judgemental of other women’s bodies. Finding faults in others helped me feel better about my own body. Not something I’m proud of but true.

I remember walking to work one morning with my boyfriend at the time and asking him if my ass jiggled like HERS did.

Jiggles, wiggles, and wobbly bits did not fit into my idea of ‘acceptable’ for a runner, and for me. I was on a mission to eradicate any evidence of cottage cheese remnants on my body.

I jiggle all the time now. As my hardened attitude towards my body has softened, so has my body.

As my patterns with food changed, I ended up gaining weight. At first due to binging without purging. And I kept some of the weight on as I learned how to eat ‘normally’ again ie have an inclusive diet where everything was permissible. Be able to eat donuts, cheese on pizza, and burgers and fries without fear of gaining weight.

While you might not want to hear that weight gain was a part of the story, the reality is that by the time it happened, I was OK with it.

Letting go of the fear of fat, and letting myself put on weight was an integral part of my recovery and healing. I believe I had to experience the weight gain so I could fully believe the True You Truth of ‘I am not defined by what my body looks like.’

Saying that, for many years I still had this idea that I had to be running or working out consistently. It became less about my weight, and more of a habit, part of my identity that this is ‘what I did’. I would wake up each morning with the thought, ‘I have to go for a run today’, even if I had no intention of actually fitting it into my schedule.

But, like an addiction, the thought was still there, and I still saw myself as a runner. Even when I barely ran 15 miles a week.

8 years ago when I was living in London, and was one of the few Londoners I knew with a gym membership, I was running home from the gym and I had to stop and walk because I was in so much physical pain. My right knee couldn’t take the pounding without sending a lightning bolt charge through my body.

Turns out I had/have loose cartilage in between my knee and femur. The doctor said if I strengthened my quad muscles enough I’d be able to run again, but the immediate prescription was stop running, stop cycling, and do static strengthening exercises, like lie on my back and hold my leg in the air (yawn).

I was devastated at first, what? No more running?

Funnily enough though, my desire to get to the point where I could run again wasn’t strong enough to keep up with those boring exercises. I gave it a go at first, but quickly put them to the side.

I found satisfaction in what my body could do instead. Walking. It was my first foray into ‘slowing down’. Noticing the detail of the world around me that I used to whiz by.

I would cycle to work occasionally, but for 3.5 years, my physically activity pretty much came to a halt.

And I didn’t care.

I wasn’t worried about what I was eating, or how much, or trying to make up for the lack of exercise. I stopped having the false expectation that I would run today.

Another aspect of the healing that came after the bulimia was gone.

And crazily enough, I lost weight.

It was as if my body knew what was best for me, literally bringing me to my knees, to get me to give up trying to control it. And once it took over, it knew exactly what was best for me then too. It found it’s natural set point, with me literally doing nothing.

Leading up to our wedding, I did a 6 week yoga course.

The classes were very slow paced, the focus on settling into one pose at a time vs moving through a series of poses. The whole point was to slow down and be still, an idea I still hadn’t fully embraced, especially if I was paying to go to a class.

I wanted to be paying for exertion, sweat, and a raised heart rate.

But it was exactly what I needed. It set the foundation for me to reconnect to movement with my body. To listen in to what it wants, needs, and craves.

I now choose activities that my whole being is craving.

Sometimes, although rarely, it is a run. Or should I say jog. Because these days it is most definitely a jog 🙂

Sometimes it’s a bike ride, challenging my cardiovascular system and my thighs over the undulating hills where I live.

Often it is a walk outside, filling my lungs with fresh air and my mind with fresh ideas.

And each week, if not day, it will involve some degree of yoga.

What I love about yoga is that I end up connecting to parts of my body that I never knew existed before. I never knew I have little tiny muscles in between my ribs!

I love doing a simple forward bend, and feeling the ripple effect from my hamstrings, to my lower back, to upper back, shoulders, and my neck. 

When I first started doing yoga, I didn’t have an experience of this level of connection. I would do a ‘hamstring stretch’ before or after a run and I wouldn’t notice anything else going on in my body.

My understanding of my body was one of isolation. Everything working separately.

The connections I feel while doing yoga help me to connect to the shell I had been living in for almost 30 years. And whenever I am feeling tight in my body or my soul, you will find me doing one pose or another to feel again.

I’ve also found dance as a liberating form of movement. But for me, dance is less about connecting in and more about expression, and a form of play.

If you asked my 25 year old self to describe my 35 year old body, I would probably tell you that it is ‘out of shape’ right now.

Such a funny expression.

Out of shape? What shape, pray may I ask, am I actually supposed to be in? Square, rectangle or triangle?

How about, I am in the shape of my body. And the shape and fitness of my body is enough for it to do what it needs to do today.

I am happy with my body right now. I like the way it looks, even though it’s less muscle-y than it used to be.

I like the way it works, even though I get out breath quicker than I used to.

I’m also aware that the shape and size of my body is generally seen as attractive by the world’s standards, and so I  often wonder, how will I feel about my body if and when I put on weight again.

My answer is: I don’t know. But I hope that, so long as I still stay connected to my body, that I will still love it.

And I know I will be reminding myself of how my body got me to where I am today.

Of how it knew best about what I needed to let go of control, over the years.  Of how it has adapted to different levels of physical activity since then, and how it seems to intuitively know what kind of movement it needs on any given day, including some days where there is very little movement at all.

The word trust comes to mind:

I can’t say how I’ll feel, but I will continue to trust my body.

Whatever shape or size.


Something to think about: What is your relationship to your body like? What do you want it to be like? How can you let go of some control over it and let it do its thing? What does trusting your body mean?

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

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

#bu29days: Day 19: Willing to be willing

aka Was change easy for you?

aka How come the grass is sometimes greener right where I am?

I want to shed a bit more light onto what happens with decisions like, I’m going to stop purging, I’m going to start praying, I’m going to move to another country, quit my job, break-off this relationship, etc.

These were all key decisions in my journey, and while some felt easier than others, there was a common denominator across the board.

And that was the presence of fear.

When I had those two bathroom floor moments 18 months apart, one to stop purging, the other to start praying, fear was there.

Fear of not being able to have kids if I didn’t stop purging, and fear of how my life would turn out if I kept trying to do this on my own. 

In those cases, fear was a good thing. It got me to take action.

 

Fear has also led me to in-action.

When I broke up with my boyfriend of 5 years, that was an overdue breakup by a good number of years. But I stayed in that relationship longer than necessary due to fear.

The fear of being single and alone. Would anybody else want me? If not, I’d have to face that voice of shame again. The grass was greener staying with someone who told me he loved me, even though at my core, I knew it wasn’t a relationship I wanted to be in anymore.

I resigned from a company that served me well for 10 years, but for 5-7 years, I had my eye on the door. My eye was there, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do anything about it.

I had dreams of being a personal trainer, going to grad school, being a teacher, or that yet-to-be-named job that hacks trails in the woods. Within my first weeks of arriving in London I took a couple steps towards these dreams. I attended an info session to become a personal trainer. I had all the materials, all the information, at my fingertips.

I couldn’t do it though.

The financial security was a big factor. As was the question: Would I succeed in a new environment? That was the bigger questions that held me back. 

I didn’t have the belief in myself that I could do it.

It was another 5 years when I finally did resign. By then a lot of healing had taken place and although I still was fearful, and was stepping into a lot of uncertainty, I did it.

In hindsight this is kind of funny in a really twisted way, but it was actually a binge on uncertainty. I got married, left my job, and left for a 9 month backpacking trip around the world with my husband all within 6 weeks of each other.

For 10 years I lay dormant, depriving myself of my dreams, in essence a ‘purge’, and then it was a case of, how extreme can you get?! (A pattern you’ll hear more about next week so stay tuned.)

The fear was still there though. Would it all work out? Was spending our first year of marriage while back-packing really a good thing? Each one in and of itself can create strain, would we last a double whammy? Would we run out of money? Would we know what we want to do with our lives at the end?

It was also coupled with excitement. The excitement of the unknown, and the possibility.

Park that thought there for a minute.

Because the other things that showed up with the Fear, was Shame and Vulnerability, the three amigos; Tom, Dick and Harry. These had brought me to those bathroom floor moments, and they were still there when the decision was made to go down a different road.

And while Fear can be a good thing and get you to take action, shame rarely will, and vulnerability, you gotta dance with it first, approach it with love.

So short answer, no, change is never easy for me. It either takes bathroom floor moments, or staying where I am for longer than necessary. I guess I have a high chronic pain threshold.

I am working on this though. Hoping that it doesn’t take 5 or 10 years longer than it needs to, to create the business(es) I’d love to have, to use my voice on platforms I’d like to share my message from, and to try out new things that I’ve always dreamed of doing… like going cross-country skiing.

I’m waking up to the fact that life is about LIVING. And LIVING can feel vulnerable and scary at times. But it’s worth it.

And so are you.

So here’s what I’ve learned about taking that leap, regardless of whether or not it has to do with an eating disorder.

  1. Change can feel scary.
  2. Change can also be exciting.
  3. Fear and excitement are like cousins, they stem from the same place and they both can lead you to action.
  4. Fear actions are ‘away from’ actions. That’s because the pain of staying where you are has become greater than the pain or fear of making the change. This is what happens in bathroom floor moments.
  5. Excitement actions are ‘towards’ actions. You don’t need bathroom floor moments for this. If you want to draw upon some courage without the break-down, look for the excitement and move towards that. Get curious. Be playful.
  6. A lot of times, the change is scary because we want guaranteed answers that everything will turn out ok on the other side (we’re trying to avoid vulnerability here.) The only thing guaranteed on the other side of change is possibility. Doors and windows exist that you didn’t know were there. The only way to see them though, is to cross over the line.
  7. Possibility shares a home with uncertainty. ‘I’m going to be completely exposed for who I really am if I lose the eating disorder, job, relationship. What will happen then?’ Instead of letting fear join in that question, as in, ‘What will happen then?!’, [zoom in on terrified look on face, and fingers in mouth biting on nails]… ask love to show up. ‘What will happen then?!’ [zoom in on eyes open wide and smile on face like when you first see presents under the tree on Christmas morning.] Oh wow! I don’t know?! What are the endless possibilities? I could write that book I am always reading in my head! I could teach English in a 3rd world country! I could get to know myself and my greatest talents and use them to help others (ding! ding! ding!).
  8. Shame will use this an opportunity to dig its claws deeper, and it will hurt. It will tell you that you don’t have what it takes to make the change. It will tell you you’re not worthy of having what you want. It will tell you that you are too broken, you’ve stayed too long, and that you have no chance of success. I find it helpful to realize that this is only true if we believe that it is true. It only stays alive if we feed it. Give it some air time, recognize the lies for what they are, and then tell shame his time in the driver’s seat is over. Sayonara dude.
  9. It helps to have a partner in crime. Ask someone to be in this transition with you. Someone who’s got your back regardless of the outcome. This is a version of unconditional love.
  10. It helps to remove items that are going to tempt you to stay where you are. I remember one Saturday afternoon I was picking out an outfit to go out in that night and I kept looking longingly at the pair of size 4 jeans that I had long grown out of. I always had in the back of my head, if one day I can just fit in them again… (sigh). They were bringing me down. So I donated them to my 13 year old cousin. Clear out whatever space you need in order to make room for something new. This is called letting go.
  11. Give yourself grace. Perfection does not live on the other side of change. (I know, I wish it did too sometimes.) If anything humility does. Learning how to navigate new lands, like a child learning to walk. You will fall. You will probably fail. But that is not a reflection on who you are, on your self worth. It’s taken me 35 years to realize that failure can be a good thing, and that I am not a failure just because certain outcomes don’t happen has planned. Guess what, outcomes that you couldn’t have dreamed up on your own happen instead. Leave the door open for that.

So wherever you’re at reading this, my hope is you don’t have to go through bathroom floor moments to say, ‘Allright already, I’m willing to change.’

Spare yourself the pain.

I get it though, you might not be ready to say, ‘I’m willing’, just yet.

If that’s the case, start here:

I’m willing to be willing.

or here:

I’m willing to be willing to be willing.

or even here:

I’m willing to be willing to be willing to be willing.

or

however many steps back from willing you are, be willing to take just one step closer to willing. You will get there.

Something to think about: Have you ever noticed that fear and excitement are related? What change for your life have you been putting off? Why? Can you be willing to be willing? Or willing to be willing to be willing? 🙂

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 practice being willing and finding the courage to face fears. Join us this February.

#bu29days: Day 18: The weirdest invitation

aka So was that it? After your blue suede shoes and Italian lessons, you were better? No more bulimia?

I’ll cut to the chase:

Sometimes relapse happens.

And that can be a good thing.

I liken it to playing soccer. Sometimes the way to get the ball down the field is to pass it backwards. Counterintuitive, but it works.

For a good 18 months I was being more of me. The shoes, the new wardrobe, the Italian lessons.

It was during this time I went to Positano for the weekend and bought, and wore, a string bikini for the first time, and had the experience of what it was like to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, without worrying about calories, exercising, or what my body looked like.

Especially after that experience, I thought I was pretty good to go. All I had to do was recreate that freedom back in reality.

Then one night, I had a rude awakening.

It was the last night that I spent in my Upper East Side apartment, where I had spent many nights in the bathroom over the past 3 years. I was moving the next day into Stuy Town with a couple of girls who were friends of a friend. My apartment was all packed up, my mom was sleeping on the sofa, and I found myself binging on whatever scraps of food remained in the apartment and then with my head over the toilet bowl.

I didn’t really have time to process because the next day was a full day of moving (fyi driving a UHaul through the streets of Manhattan in an interesting experience) and the day after that I was on a plane to Asia for a  2 week business trip.

Within those 48 hours though, the disciplinarian in me was berating myself for what I had done; ‘Get a grip and sort yourself out!’

And the gentler side of me was also asking: Are you OK? What’s going on?

I ended up taking the episode as a sign that, hey, this isn’t all behind you, there is more to walk through, so what else needs to happen here?

This is when I started praying again. Surrendering to the idea that perhaps I couldn’t do this on my own. The inner strength, determination, and fortitude could only get me so far.

This is when it really did become a spiritual thing.

I started looking for God again.

This, coincidentally or not, corresponded with a really exciting time in my life because within a couple of months, the opportunity to move to the UK came into the picture. For three months, I didn’t know if it would be a sure shot. Once I got the green light, it was another 3 months before I moved.

During those 6 months I got involved in a Celebrate Recovery program as a volunteer. I thought I could help others who were struggling since I felt I had come a long way. Little did I know that through serving others, I would receive healing.

It was here I was introduced to the term ‘co-dependency’ and ‘sex addict’.

What? I knew I had bulimia, but was I also co-dependent? And was I using sex to facilitate the co-dependency?

This was a humbling moment. To open my eyes to some hidden currents that were woven into the bulimia, things that I wasn’t even conscious of. They were just patterns that I had fallen into unknowingly. I hadn’t read about them in psych class and then used them as a solution like I had done with bulimia. No, these threads ran much deeper.

And this is when I would say the real healing actually began.

The irony, I didn’t even know I needed it. 

And I may not have ever known, had I not had that final random purge.

But, I truly believe that our eyes are only opened to things when our Higher Power knows we can handle it, and are ready to listen.

If I knew at the beginning that I’d be facing bulimia, codependency, screwed up sex issues, people-pleasing, and a more recent realization, letting myself be ‘little A’ abused, I’d probably just go vomit, it would’ve felt so overwhelming.

My point in sharing is this: wherever you’re at in life, if you are being given glimmers of opportunities to grow, heal, change, and become more of your True You. Listen to them, in whatever shape or size they come in.

A random and unforeseen purge, a car accident, a relationship break-up, a career or business that feels like it is falling apart, or reading or hearing something that speaks to your core but feels uncomfortable and weird to accept.

You are experiencing this for a reason. It’s an invitation.

An invitation to go down a path that will lead you to love.

Something to think about: Have you noticed any  really weird invitations in your life recently? Have you been able to accept them? Where do you think they will lead 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. A place to stop trying, stop hiding, and be free to be you. 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.

We don’t need no resolution

The first 12 hours of 2016 have not gone to plan and I am still at peace.

I will count that as a win.

Here’s why.

The party animals that we are, my husband and I crawled into bed at 12:07am. After having a restless sleep the night before, we were looking forward to welcoming the new year by sinking into a freshly made bed and quickly drifting off into a peaceful slumber. Which made the tossing and turning that continued well past 1:30am a very unwelcome event.

We went to bed motivated for today, welcoming a fresh start. Which looked like getting 5 loads of laundry done, starting some new morning routines, and having a general sense of order and achievement to the day. So when the natural sunlight (ok that’s a stretch, the sun was still buried behind a perpetual layer of clouds so let me rephrase… faint daylight) woke me up, I knew something was off. And sure enough it was 8:50am. Bugger, we overslept.

Next thing I know, my husband is rushing from our bathroom to bedroom to garage, trying to dress his sleepy-eyed self along the way, which made me think… hmmm… something must be up with the fish we keep in our garage. Yup, the tanks overflowed (again) and he spent the next hour and half cleaning up the mess.

I’ve always been just a tad ritualistic when it comes to New Year’s. Things like… change sheets, clean house, shave legs, wax bikini… all make it on to New Year’s Eve checklist in an effort to start the year off on the right foot.

A driving force for pristine-ness. The achievement of ‘make everything as white as snow’ serving as an omen, a safety net, that this year everything will be OK.

Translation for: I will be OK.

Funnily enough, days like today generally don’t fit that bill.

Except that today, I don’t care.

And that my friends, is the win.

To be able to take things in stride.

To say, ‘Eh, It is what it is.’ And mean it.

For life not to have to look a certain way in order for things, and me, to be OK.

I asked myself, ‘What’s different this time?’, and my answer boils down to one word.

Choice.

Last night at 1:30am I had a choice. I could’ve rolled my eyes at my husband as he kept pulling the blanket and waking me up just as I was on the verge of falling asleep and made some cranky-pants remark. (Full disclosure: This was a very real option.)

But in the end I chose something else. To say, hey, let’s try focusing on our breath and quiet our minds.

Let me hold you. Share our warmth and put our bodies at ease.

Connection.

This morning, I could’ve paced around my house in a state of fear, worrying about what was going on in the garage. Are the fish OK? Will he be electrocuted? What if the garage door breaks and he gets stuck in there?

Again, very real thoughts. But instead of being paralyzed, I went about my day.

Breathed through the vulnerability that what happens in our garage is totally out of my control and Let Go.

We all have the choice to do life differently. Making a Resolution…. a decision prior to any action in that direction… rarely cuts it.

As we went to bed last night we shared our personal ‘resolutions’ with each other.

Mine was for my mornings to incorporate stillness, prayer, and meditation. To ground myself before my day really gets going.

I caught myself today as I was about to dive into a task that would’ve served as a really good distraction and vulnerability avoider from the garage-situation.

Just as I was about to open a new document to create a bio-security measures plan for our fish farm, I thought, nope, that’s not how you said you wanted your day to go.

So for all of 2 minutes I sat still, said a prayer, and attempted a meditation.

I chose to put my desire into action. I chose to say Yes, to what I really want.

In my book, those 2 minutes were another win.

And if I choose to do that tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after, soon I’m living my life the way I want to

Batteries are going to die, pumps fail, systems break down. Plans fall through. We can’t fall asleep.

In short, shit happens. 

But you always get to choose what you really want.

You don’t need a resolution.

You just keep choosing you.


PS Want some help making those choices that say yes to you? Let’s Talk.

 

My Truth about Trust

It’s hard for me to trust.

This is my truth.

I was knocked over sideways by this a couple of days ago when I asked my husband if he would be a guinea pig for me and try on some of the content from the ‘True You Treasure Hunt’ that I’m creating. He agreed, and so I asked him to think of a situation where there’s a bit of uncertainty and he’s looking for some answers.

His answer: The design of the indoor fish farm he’s about to build.

Step 2, I asked him how he’s questioning and judging himself about this.

His answer: I’m not.

Which kind of threw me because I’m always questioning; judging and comparing myself to others. My assumption: most people do this too.

I dug a bit more, and asked him to explain why he’s not judging himself.

He said, (rather matter-of-factly), ‘Well, I designed it, I think it will work, I just don’t know for sure because I’ve never done it before.’

Common sense at it’s finest.

I couldn’t believe him at first so I probed… ‘You’re not judging yourself at all? Like, I could’ve done it better, or could know more, or whatever?’

Nope. He’s sure of himself, that he’s made the best choices with the information that he has. He’s secure in himself. The uncertainty is purely circumstantial. Until it happens, he won’t know.

This shouldn’t have been such a surprise for me. I’ve known my husband for close to 7 years now and part of what attracted me to him was how self-assured and confident he is.

Unlike the pattern of shame, fear, and wanting control that’s marked my life. Have I done enough? Did I make the right choice? Did I say it in the right way?

It boils down to one word:

TRUST

Do I trust myself?

This was a lightbulb moment for me because for years I would’ve automatically answered, ‘Yes, of course I trust myself!’

But if I’m completely honest with myself and you, No, I haven’t always trusted myself.

I know this because I haven’t trusted other people. Including my husband.

Because how can I trust someone else if I can’t trust myself? How can I trust my decision to trust someone else, if I’m not trusting my decisions in the first place? (Sound complicated? It kind of is when it plays out in real life:) )

And while this may not be an issue for everyone, I know I’m not the only one here. I have countless conversations with women who also struggle with trusting themselves.

Here’s what I see happening….

Our greatest truth resides in our heart, in our soul.

When we are young, we follow our hearts with ease.

As we grow older, stuff happens, and we start to rely on our heads more.

  • Maybe this is because we got burned in young love and so it’s a form of protection… weigh the pros and cons before going there again.
  • Maybe our mind’s performance was applauded while our heart’s desires were labelled ‘foolish, silly, whimsical’, and so we’ve adapted and opted for practicality in life.

Whatever the reason, our mind can lead us astray from our truth as it tries to protect us. (Poor things, they are doing their best.)

So as adults we find ourselves in a situation where we put our trust in what our minds can work out, understand, plan for, says makes ‘sense’.

But this isn’t always our truth. And the more we take action from the head, the further away we are from our truth.

And when we aren’t accessing (or listening to) our truth, we break down trust.

Because how can I trust someone who doesn’t speak truth? Even if that someone is me?

That is all great to know and understand, but here’s why this is important…

When we’re not trusting ourselves, we start to look for things outside of us to give us answers.

Our partner, our doctor, our teacher, our coach, our business advisor, our friends… they know best.

And the more we listen to them vs us, the more discomfort we feel within ourselves, and that’s when we try to make ourselves feel better; with food, relationships, sex, drugs, shopping, wine, you name it.

I am saying all this from a place of experience, something I know in my head, and something that I’ve seen the other side of. Most often it’s showed up for me in my career and in relationships. Wanting/needing them to go a certain way in order for me to be OK.

And I’ll be honest, sometimes even now, there is still a disconnect between my head and my heart.

Because this takes practice, commitment, consistency…

And what I realized recently is that even though I know, in my head, what it takes to get out of my head…. I still have to apply it to me.

I still have to keep accessing my truth, building trust with myself, on a daily basis.

They say you teach what you most need to learn, and for sure that applies here.

But I also realized that as I am learning this, I can help you too.

Help you get out of your head, connect with your heart, your soul, your True You, so that you can grow that muscle of trust too.

Trust yourself, and not only does your life become aligned with who you truly are (which feels amazing!), a lot of your perceived ‘problems’ go away too.

Maybe my way works like a charm for you.

Maybe it goes right over your head 🙂

Maybe it helps you to a point, so you can find your own way to trust yourself again.

Whatever the answer turns out to be, I’m inviting you to try this with me.

I’m inviting you to join me as I continue on my journey.

There’s a couple of ways you can do that in the next few weeks but for now I want to invite you to do one thing.

Go on your own True You Treasure Hunt with me.

From June 1st, you’ll be able to experience for yourself, the tools that help me access my truth, get out of my head and into my heart, make decisions that feel good, and build trust.

What I’ll be sharing with you isn’t just information. We both know that doesn’t help much. Instead you’ll get to have your own experience over 5 days of finding your deepest truth… your greatest Treasure.

To join the Treasure Hunt, it’s simple. It’s free, it will take 5-10 minutes of your day, and it will be fun (at least I think so 🙂 ).  You can sign-up for it here.

Even now, you might be asking yourself, ‘Should I do this? Will it work? Do I need this? Is this right for me right now?’

Those questions pop up for me too. Now I can see that it’s my mind trying to create certainty, and usually responding with fear… What if I don’t? Will I miss out? Will I have made the wrong choice?

What about this question instead:

What feels good for me right now?

What puts a glow on my heart instead of a knot in my stomach?

And if it’s hard for you to feel anything in your body (which, *trust* me, I know about that too), then it’s probably because your mind is speaking so loudly and throwing a million questions at you all at once, so you can’t discern a feeling in your body from a thought in your head.

Like I said, I have been there, and that still happens to me now. Which is why I’ve had to find a way to organize those thoughts so that they can have their say for a minute, but then they can rest, quiet down, disappear, and the truth can come out.

Join me, come find your Treasure.