A Little About Me & My Take On Mental Disorder

I am a woman. I have birthed four children. I have maintained a relationship with a man for close to two decades now, married for almost seventeen years. I have a puppy that is love incarnate. I have worked as a registered nurse in many corridors of hospital care and I managed to create and boss three business’ in the interior design world. I have seen babies born and every age imaginable die at the hands of tragedy or decline in one’s health. I’ve created beautiful spaces in individual homes and workspaces out of the images and acumen for spatial surrounding in my mind. I traveled to another continent for a year and learned how to serve on another man’s property far from the comfort of my own home. I have worked in the world of celebrating moments in our lives through event planning (one of my favorite jobs). I have taken classes to hone my skill in communicating through writing (still finding my way…. see egregious punctuation errors and run-on sentences). I’ve run three marathons and pretended to be an olympic lifter in the subculture of those who are freakishly strong. I know a little about a lot and have insatiably studied random topics over the years on the human heart, mind, body, and way about us in terms of how we function. I am a believer in God, and Jesus, and His Holy Spirit. I believe He created us, came for us and will come again. I’m not ashamed of my strong spiritual beliefs or my weak human shortcomings. I’m not put off by the beliefs of others (at all), their choices (no matter what) and certainly not by their own personal shortcomings (we all share a shocking potential for failure). At this stage in my life there isn’t a human alive that I wouldn’t invite to dinner at my table, and I mean that with every fiber of my being. I openly talk about addictions to comfort through sharing my struggles with an Eating Disorder which is a mental disorder that uses the human body to produce a sense of security or control. I share freely about my own substance abuse which is also a mental game that numbs the partaker providing a temporary, fleeting escape from the discomfort of their struggles. Any addiction to comfort (comfort is essentially the key driver) winds up eventually owning the host (every time) no matter the portal of escape one uses. Neither addictions nor mental disorders are complicated. They are baffling, cunning, and “wise” (oxymoron…. majoring on moron) with a slithering boa constricting approach to the essence of any human. Addictions and eating disorders are born out of a desire to adapt to our surroundings and to survive what we cannot change or control with periods of mental reprieve. That’s it. I firmly believe that ALL humans matter whether they are male or female or find themselves suspended in-between those declarations of gender. I believe that ALL people are important whether they are the CEO or the individual that cleans the building under the dark of night that the CEO builds his empire in. I believe that wealth and fame and poverty and perceived insignificance has invaded every single aspect of our society and because of that an actual injustice runs rampant across the globe. I believe our culture has shifted for the negative and the positive with the rise of social media. Anyone can say anything, at any time, no matter how they feel and despite small or large impact. There’s a free for all happening and it is stirring the bridled and unbridled emotions of many, especially the young. The young lack the capacity to fact check and choose judiciously what to believe about themselves and others and are yet flooded with mere opinions expressed through emotional verbiage or filtered images. Our youth, simply based on their fluctuating maturity level with complex thought, struggle to find the difference between fact and opinion and how to apply those to their own mind’s ability to think and decide. The intangible and tangible structures of our society attempts to build up equality and simultaneously oppresses equality through that same system with pride over a good, better, best pecking order. It’s unnerving to me. In terms of material possessions I have a beautiful home the serves us well complete with a backyard pool in a winter state. Please know that a Florida native needs direct access to water…. and not the murky, ten-thousand-to-choose-from lake kind of water with a mushy bottom and fish the size of your thigh that you can’t see swimming around you. In terms of family connection I have two parents that thankfully still live in my home state of Florida and three siblings with fantastic spouses and nieces and nephews that I would give a kidney to. I have friends, young and old that love me and care for me and check in on me regularly. I have extended family that treats me like I am one of them and no matter the geographical distance between us. I was a trained dancer as a child, raised in the performing arts and therefore taught how to put yourself out there despite your introvert or extrovert bent. I was not unlike any kid that searched for their significance through the incoming and outgoing tide of acceptance from others and the pressure to rise to popularity. My mom taught me to befriend everyone without exception. That gave me space to build connection in almost any circle allowing me to also find a degree of comfort in any circle. We moved a lot as a family so the ability to adapt in changing environments whether you liked it or not was also built into my DNA.

All of this and more brought me straight to the table of survival from an Eating Disorder and a global decline in all the things that made me: Me. I have experienced in part, or in full, every single solitary comfort known to man. I am privileged beyond measure. No question. I don’t have all the money in the world, but I’ve had enough at my disposal to provide opportunities galore to create comfort, pleasure and memorable experiences.

And yet…. I have felt unloveable deep in my core. Because of this core belief, my life has unraveled, more than once.

Where did that feeling come from? After ALL this good outside of me that could tell me a strong tale about my value in this world and my place amongst its occupants the question about my worth still echoed in the hollow halls inside me. I realize now, with the minuscule wisdom of a forty-two year old, that material possessions and interpersonal relationships that surround our existence mean absolutely NOTHING if you doubt yourself on the inside. Doubt in our own worth is a silent killer. Its nearest companions (for me) are shame and ridicule. These companion players don’t need to be center stage or high functioning inside any one human, but they directly feed self doubt with information as though it’s fact or objective material harboring accusation held against the host. Shame and ridicule will use the experiences we have had with our own shortcomings and the painful encounters with others ALL DAY LONG to gnaw at our core value. My physical body has suffered serious ridicule from me and abuse or neglect at my own hand. I have stories in my past that told me a strong, objective tale that something was wrong with its subject. Somewhere along the way I let those experiences tell me what was true about me instead of my own opinion of myself. This is tragic, but despite this reality she, my body, has shown up for me every day, no matter how I feel, and functions for me with or without favor or attention from me. Her resilience is astounding. She has never wavered in waking up to face another day despite the brutal lashing I’ve given her in “feeling” like she was too much or too little. With the utmost humility she gently tells me when I am in need of energy and no matter how many times I’ve ignored her for the selfish gain of my appearance begetting an internal sense of control she keeps trying. She knows when she’s tired and she knows when she’s had enough in one day. I have pushed her, pulled her along, withheld from her, required much from her, neglected her and berated her appearance or inability to accomplish more. My internal mental hunger to be more knew no end and I demanded my body to answer tangibly for that void. That friends, is an internal mental disorder manifesting itself in a network of thought and directly using a human body to answer the mind. I’ve used my body to speak back to my disordered mental understanding of myself for over thirty years. I wasn’t born with an eating disorder, one was presented to me at a young age and I unfortunately bit the bait. Eating Disorders fed by shame and ridicule will take their time to make an impact. They don’t mind being drip fed by self doubt as they lurk in the corners waiting for the full meal of actual physical hunger. They sit idle by consistently extending an opportunity to its host to take the reigns of control, but, at first, it doesn’t demand to be entertained in full. Until it does. An Eating Disorder knows a thing or two. It’s confident in its ability to sytem override. It’s befriending at first helping the host feel like it’s coping with the feeling of internal chaos knowing that it will eventually implant its virus so deep in the mind of its user debilitating their ability to choose life through forgetting to remember to eat. At what point did I decide to turn against body, my most faithful ally, to listen to the eating disorder’s proposal in my mind for a sense of control I longed for? At what stopping point did my gratitude for her service evaporate into a raging demand for more output of tangible control? At what point did I externally start to destroy her for the internal question that clanked around inside of me…. “Am I worthy of love?” “Am I good enough to be here?” My body never wavered. She never left the job due to a demanding boss. She never turned a blind eye to my wandering heart and putrifying ability to listen to Health. She stayed close, gave more when she could, and stopped almost cold in her tracks when she could no longer meet the demands. My Eating Disorder was a portal for mental control that used my body to answer a revolving question in my mind. Substance abuse was a portal for escape to avoid the gnawing feeling that no matter how much I gave physically it never seemed to feel like enough satisfying a sense that I was worthy.

If you’ve read this far I doubt you are left with a question as to whether or not an Eating Disorder is a mental health issue. There’s no denying that it is. When you are in the thick of the disorder it holds such a boastful presence that it convinces you to avoid connection with anyone or anything else as it slowly leads you to a solitary grave of being your highest “caretaker”. It’s a sad, slow and steady decline of our human brilliance. I am one of the lucky ones or blessed… whichever word you’d use. My body waved a white flag of surrender in its greatest hour of need. I am forever grateful for her friendship and loyalty. Much to my own surprise I do not regret having an eating disorder or a history of substance abuse. They worked in tandem to assist me in avoiding reality and answering the questions I had about my worth simply by slowly and surely disabling my own choice of thought. I have experienced an exaggerated sense of avoidance of my core self and ultimately a loss of depth in relationship with myself and others. I know better now. I will do better now.

I assure you that valuing yourself through the pure power of your mind to choose to believe that you are amazing, as is, is key to your survival, and mine. Our physical body is amazing. It can do almost anything you charge it with and the capacity to learn and adapt and accomplish much is literally endless. I’m increasingly convinced that we are limitless in our capabilities. I am enamored by human potential. Our body is the vehicle that allows your spirit and worth to show up for your whole entire life. Our mind and thoughts provide the gas to go further and stay put wherever we find ourselves. Prioritizing self care of this body and mind means that you respect what your body needs and appreciate what it enjoys and you guard carefully what you think about yourself. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I have a chance to live again. So do you. Every single day. I do NOT take this lightly. My body size says absolutely nothing about my value and physical hunger is a call to action to eat to live. Period. Avoidance of hunger and controlling what you see on the outside doesn’t tell you how good I am at being me. I see that now. I surrender every day to that life giving train of thought now.

I leave you with this…. Are you surrounded with much in terms of material possessions that reflect your personality and interpersonal relationships that reflect your ability to connect? If so- in the midst of it all do you feel like you are enough? Or are you hustling in any way to answer that through something outside of the voice inside your own mind? What about your life is helping you cope with discomfort or chaos in your mind about your inherent value? Answering that question deeply and honestly takes nothing short of humility and requires a reprioritization of things in the aftermath. It is never easy to face our coping strategies. It is never healthy to ignore our truth either. We are brilliant and full of wonder and the capacity to change for the good or the not so good knows no bounds. It all comes down to choice and the power we invoke to believe the very best of ourselves. Every day. Your body will honor your beliefs and stand steady for you. May you work hard to compliment the efforts of your body and mind to carry you through this amazing existence.

“I Don’t Know Much, But I Know I Love You”

This is an iconic song sung by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville (written by Tom Snow, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil).

Yet again, we see a paradigm in music that is true for us in life as well. So often these hits are sung by the face and sound of someone with magical talent, but written behind the scenes by someone else entirely (also with magical talent).

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a story worth listening to I might add. I truly believe more than ever that all people matter and so do the details of their journey here on Earth. Not everyone has the time, or clout, or lyrical acumen to turn their story into a song that everyone will fall in love with. But, having said that, what song would be playing in the background of your life right now if you had a one-hit wonder circulating?

I’m not suggesting that this would be my song. I haven’t thought that hard about my own question so don’t hold me to this curation from 1989. I will say though that the lyrics impressed me this morning when I IMAGINED my own soul singing to my own physical frame. I know, that sounds weird. I am the first to say these days that I AM a little bit weird in the way that I think. I assure you though that the way I think is less “weird” and more deep and many layered. I find myself able to be moved by so much of life’s offerings now that I have my life back. Having lived a journey of disconnect from my core and all the needs down in there, that act alone landed me in treatment for an eating disorder and with a starved mind giving way to a mental disorder. Re-establishing order to both my life and my mind is a battle not easily fought and one that, so far, I’ve been unable to do alone. It’s fascinating really. We can systematically dismantle our entire life all by ourselves brick by brick. But, I firmly believe that when we need a period of repair we simply cannot go that road alone and it does zero good to start throwing stones at those helping you with your rubble. The only thing that keeps you from that futile exhaustion is self reflection and acceptance met with COPIOUS amounts of surrender. Those values have become my greatest ally. So, here we are. Here I am. I’m using song lyrics from the 80’s to coach myself into acceptance for today. I’m not sorry about that. I’m embracing that this morning. And, I am also speaking to you about it. I’m not speaking to you because a whole lot of people are listening. I speak and write because others on my journey choose not to or can’t put that deeper layered level of living into words. I can. So, I do…. for my own self and also for the one who may need to feel not so very alone. I follow my stats from time to time. I average 4 readers. I am okay with this and because of the way I log in to read my own writing, scanning for dumb errors and mispronunciations, I am counted in the actual tally of readers. How’s that for humbling and also being my own supporter?! I don’t care about my rating right now as much as I care about hearing myself, watching the repair of my crumbled life and the one or two or perhaps three passers by that may benefit from my own thoughts along this journey. Period.

What’s my point here? My point is simple. Do you hear yourself? If there was a compilation of catchy lyrics met with the symphony of instruments and purity of voices in harmony singing the song of your story what would it sound like? Would it be pleasant? Would it be up beat? Would it be melancholic? Would it be from the gut or would it just be for the people so it too would get all the ratings and be radio ready? Who are you playing for? Can your physical frame, your daily grind meet the demand of the song you’re putting out there? Or are you ignoring your soul’s depth in order to play something more appealing to the public? I assure you that “way” will prove beneficial, but it’s not sustainable. It’s deceiving really. Our gifts, talents, capabilities, skill sets, etc. …. these DO carry us. But they are a reflection of us. The clearest picture of who we are is not seen in what we produce, but in what we have to say about ourselves from the inside. It’s the same for this song. Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt are singing for someone else’s story or for what they can do, but didn’t actually write.

Are you?

It’s a slippery slope this one fantastic life of ours. We can put a song out there into the world that is the reflection of what we want others to hear or see based on our capabilities and performance. Or … we can write our own music, sing that, maybe NOT hit a chart or two, but be living out loud the reality of who we are on the inside. We have a choice in that. That choice requires vulnerability and self reflection. We have time for that, but we have to make and take the time we have for that based on today’s pace and do that in order to represent ourselves uniquely. So many of us go about our days singing the song that others want to hear. Mainstream music is an industry that, and thank God, a place has been given to Singer Songwriters, who know intimately and painfully the difference between singing capably the song others want you to and bearing their own soul’s words and sound which may or may not get picked up by the people in charge.

I’m not saying much here, but rather posing a question. Does the life you lead right now sing itself in harmony with the peace you’ve found with yourself on the inside? Or are you too singing a tune that you think others want to hear more and you’re driven by that expectation, but it isn’t entirely a reflection of you? Just give that a moment of thought, a snippet of time to reflect on. You have time today. Maybe not much, but you are indeed worthy of your time.

I believe in us.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Everything. Every. Thing. This massive hit song was made iconic by Tina Turner as her most successful single, however, written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle….

How can one human being love another human being if they don’t first have it sitting right there inside of themselves, for themselves, like a constant handout or a steady stream?

We have allowed the worries of the day, let alone the future, to literally constipate our ability to love ourselves and others inside of one twenty-four hour window.

As I sit and write to you this morning I have that tangible, sick to my stomach, pit-like feeling. I pretty much function all day with this very real body sensation. Is it worry? Is it fear of the future? Or is it possibly just an eagerness inside of my choice to be vulnerable, open and to share on the outside what happens in me on the inside. I’ve always been an external processor. I have NOT always been on the road to healing, admitting freely now, “I am NOT skilled at Recovery, YET, but I am learning right in front of you. Out loud, not out of pride, but out of pure vulnerability or a willingness to share”. I suppose, my mind perceives this body feeling as angst and tells me I’m afraid. I have many reasons to be. My gremlins of the mind that dictate an Eating Disorder or substance abuse have been aggressively dethroned as of this summer and my trip to Treatment for the Eating Disorder (that I’ve maladaptively held onto to cope with life for approximately thirty-three years). This was nothing short of a trip to Hell. Do I have some residual PTSD? Yes. Am I getting help with that along with everything else? Indeed. However, I learned a thing or two from Mel Robbins, in one of my favorite motivators, the book: “The Five Second Rule“. This tangible feeling, she taught me, is a sensation perceived by the mind, it draws on inferences of the past, and tells me that it’s worry, anxiety, stress, fear of the unknown, “don’t go there”, “you suck at recovery & they’ll see that eventually”, “you’re a broken, broken record”, etc. I have the power to choose to interpret this nauseating feeling one way or another. Today, this morning, I choose to interpret the pit in my stomach sensation as excitement or an eagerness to share, to be known, to be seen, to be heard. We all matter. We all seek validation to corroborate that. We all need a little love in our life. If that love does not come from the inside out, you guys, we are, in full, simply blind travelers groping our way through life and calling it “20/20” vision and hoping no one will notice our defect.

How does the sick heal the sick? How do the blind lead the blind? I. Don’t. Really. Know. What I do know is that I’m willing to raise my hand in a sea of strangers and admit that life is both brutal and beautiful as I’ve mimicked Glennon Melton-Doyle repeatedly. There is always controversy over who or what we choose to listen to. I firmly believe that every human has inherent value and we are the worst at throwing the baby out with the bath water. If we can learn to value our own selves then we can also learn to hear from any ONE PERSON, any THING, any PLACE, and at any TIME. Glennon has been a mentor to me for a solid decade or more despite anyone’s circulating opinion on her personal life choices. She is a leader amongst the Eating Disorder and substance abuse users, survivors, and desperate to change. She has been a life-line for me from the get-go. She admits, untamedly so, that we all lean into vices as a way to cope with the “Brutiful mess” that our lives have become. We all need a little permission to not have to be so perfect, now don’t we?

That said, I pose a question. How well do you value yourself? How well do you listen to yourself first and the voices or opinions of others second? How pervasive has culture’s idea of beauty and worthiness become to you and has that mindset inadvertently been set on auto-pilot like an ingrained habit pattern of thought that begets an action or worse a reaction? Can you look at yourself in the mirror and hear a still, small, tender whisper that speaks to you as you rise for the day saying, “You are simply the Best. Better than all the rest simply because all the rest are not like you. Thank you for showing up to BE inside of today”? I haven’t heard that gentle awakening in a long time, but I am listening for it and when I don’t hear it organically, I say it intentionally. If we do not see ourselves as worthy of this line of thinking or speaking over ourselves….. how in God’s great world will we see others in God’s great world just-like-that? That would be a pretty tough road to hold. If we don’t cultivate an environment of love on the inside… perhaps, we are like famous singers, Tina Turner for example, known for an iconic tune and all the while we are just singing a song that we didn’t even write.

More to come.

I believe in us.

Information Overload

Information Overload: Disorientation, frustration, or confusion resulting from too much mental or visual stimuli or attempts to process or organize multiple tasks simultaneously.

Urban Dictionary: “Urban Dictionary is used for sentimental purposes or just for sh**s and giggles.”.  They had me at hello with that website description of its intended use. Thank you to my recent friend made who reminded me of this resource. I promise to overuse it to the point of annoyance.

I’m writing again. Today I will get uncomfortably close to “Information Overload”. I took a little trip around the moon and I’ve learned a few things. I left my verbal filter back there somewhere and it calls to me at times, but I am a big girl now and realize that I can share my stuff and leave the responsibility to the reader to use whatever filter they work best with. I think that’s how we all manage to deal anyway. We take information in, give it a filtering process and whatever nuggets of truth that get through the density of your filter are yours for the taking. Whatever is left behind is either up for grabs for another or it just felt good for me to get it off my chest. I’m okay with this process.

I could talk for days right now, but I’ll go bitesize:

3 points to ponder:

  1. No one human was meant to be all things to all men. That is a job description best fulfilled by God and God alone. There’s a scripture about that. Spoiler alert: I am the “weak” He was referring to. I am completely okay with this now.
  2. It’s not only “okay” to be yourself in absolutely every single scenario of your life, it’s imperative. This little life journey is sometimes extremely overwhelming at times. So is attempting to do algebra with my son as a grown ass woman who’s paid her dues with respect to homework (see college diploma). Somewhere way back there I already passed algebra. So, I’m kinda done pretending I know what the frick the value of “x” or “y” is. Those two letters, that are really numbers masked by the alphabet, and laugh at me as I exhaust myself bending over backwards trying to find their value: I’m over it. My thought here is this: “X” and “Y” either the two of you just be whatever number you are right in front of my eyes or retire. Go live with the alphabet. They have accepted you as one of their own. You are free. Quit making us try so hard to get to know you. And for the love- I’m not plotting your potential with a protractor. I could be wrong, but I think that’s your job. I’m sorry architects, but we all know that approximately no one uses a protractor. Ever. I’m sure you feel cute when you go “old school” and break it out in some meeting…. but, you ruin it for all of us with maneuvers like that. Save us all the trouble and use your protractor to pick a lock for a room with a door you shut too soon. There are calculators and computers and programs all built by human brains just like yours that are offering all of us a mental shortcut so we can focus on the important stuff…. like getting to my point here: You don’t need to be anything other than the exact representation of your intended value. Take a room full of people. Someone in that room is better for having been near you. What you have to say matters. What we all see on the outside of you serves as nothing more than a welcome sign to come inside and take a look around, stay a while, learn a thing or two. It’s not complicated. No one person makes the world go round. It apparently takes a billion different people to the power of infinity to make the world a place worth living in. You are not going to ruin anything by being yourself. You are just giving everyone a shortcut through all the available things and getting us straight to your intended value. Right up front. No one benefits having left your presence exhausted searching for the real you. “Will the real Slim Shady please stand up”. Written by Marshall Bruce Mathers III, otherwise known as Eminem, has a hit song about this. The song lyrics are not worth highlighting. I am strictly referring to the hook. I feel like I made my point somewhere in the above rant. Take what you will. Leave what you want. I hate algebra. I do love architects. People that show who they really are become a gift to everyone they come in contact with. Period. Full Stop. The End …. of the Beginning of my next and final point for today….
  3. It’s all gonna be okay. I am banking on that. Everyone feels a little bit lonely and broken. Everyone. And I can totally prove it. Remember the game “Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?”…. I found Carmen you guys. He is not as handsome as I expected. But, I found the infamous dude in a red and white horizontal striped sweater that somehow doesn’t add 10 extra pounds (insert eyeroll here). He (She) is sitting on a street corner begging for money wondering how he got to that place. He (She) is sitting in a cafe in Rome wearing some lovely, European exclusive, scented perfume sipping coffee while it rains outside. He (She) is in a prison serving a life sentence that he earned with one decision that lead to a series of questionable decisions and culminated in a decision (made in the heat of some moment) where he was at his breaking point. He (She) is sitting in an AA meeting trying to remember what we all forget too soon- We are NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER ALONE. He (She) is pounding it out in an office on the top floor of some building directing the future for all of us through his inexhaustible creativity while we all function at ground level blissfully unaware. He (She) is the self employed, friend of many and mother of four that sits in a Hobby Lobby parking lot crying after returning something purchased at said store with extremely stupid name. She is crying because she is at Hobby Lobby in Woodbury because that’s where her second therapy appointment for the week was and conveniently also where last weekend she left her computer in a high school bathroom (I cannot even) after 9 hours (Zero exaggeration) of watching basketball that she could care less about. She also cries because sitting in the car at 5:00pm while the traffic dies down contemplating her life is all she can do at the moment. That is what her level of self care has come to. She cries as she faces the fact that she feels alone again and is overwhelmed by her own insecurities that seem to be in charge…. again. Carmen San Diego is a lot of other places too. We’ll get to that.

I leave you with this: Every single time your life looks anything like the examples above, to whatever degree, you say this to yourself: “I matter. I’m not one big bundle of screwed up. I’m just one of the humans that this planet is hosting. My real day job is simply to be ME all day long. That feels incomprehensible at times, but it does for everyone else too. Open your eyes. Fix your tear soaked makeup. Drive the distance home that you need to and don’t worry about being late again. Home is where the heart is. You are doing your absolute best and if that’s “enough” for everyone will be a question that goes unanswered until you leave this fine Earth. It’s all gonna be okay. And for every single thing else shove a huge “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” straight up the middle.” That, friends, is your next best move.

Fix You – song that summarizes the 1200 plus words above.

You’re welcome. I believe in us.

Set intentions, Be Present, Be Mindful….. they say.

Here’s a snapshot of how I look on paper: I’m a woman. I’m forty-one. I’m a mother of four. I’m a wife of sixteen plus years. I’m an aunt to seventeen. I was a nurse for years in multiple departments. I’m a business owner three times over. I’m an AA-attending alcoholic. I’m a therapy-going overcomer of an eating disorder. I’ve gotten enough tickets that my GAP insurance was dropped. I’m usually ten minutes late. I sincerely love people of every single solitary kind. I drink approximately four La Croix’s a day (minimum). I have every essential oil known to man literally just to seem like I’m into that sorta thing. Similarly, I own an expensive, dust-collecting juicer. I love sweets. I consume approximately four Dole lemon popsicles a day like my life depends on it. I used to run marathons. I’m addicted to houseplants and on (rare, but common) given days I enjoy them more than the people I live with (do not quote me on that). I’ve seen every food related or crime show documentary Netflix has to offer. I almost never fall asleep before midnight. I say “YES” way too often, but with a sincere heart. I’m actually secretly good at math, but I loathe doing homework with my minions. If I could have any talent it would be to sing and to eat whatever I want without ever gaining weight, like zero to the power of zero pounds. I’m getting enough grey hair and wrinkles to know that I’m aging. I so don’t want to work out- ever. I play music louder than most people and my favorite genre is Rap and R&B.

The above described human is supposed to be capable of being “Present”, “Mindful” and to find that magical pocket of time to set my “Intention” for the day. I’m a mixed, chaotic bag y’all. It’s a tough one.

I want so bad to have a wise, witty and yogi-like response to the admonition that is softly pelted at us day in and day out. Presence, Intentions, and Mindfulness doesn’t come to us just because we think or say the words or put on some great meditation app. These ingredients of living have to be practiced, learned and implemented…. again and again and again. I don’t know about you, but no matter what day of the week it is – these things are just hard to harness for an extended period of time. Why is it that the second you think you’ve got a handle on any one mindset in particular it seems to slip away like like melting butter to a hot pan?

A precious friend of mine sent me a Vox (the genius walkie-talkie app on your phone) recently. She was sitting beachside in Naples, Florida. For whatever ULTRA KIND reason she thought of me. She sent me a recording of about a minute’s worth of the massive ocean and its crashing waves with squawking birds in the air all just doing their thing. She said that the sound of it all was just a little gift to my day and to stop for a minute and take it in. And so I did. I closed my eyes. Played the recording a few times. I near instantly felt light, peaceful and ultimately known by my friend. I am a Florida native, born and raised. She knew full well that the ocean, and all its wonder and glory, is engraved on my heart as the most pleasant place on the planet. So, I stood there listening while tears filled my eyes. I had been going so hard between work, child rearing, home making, watering my plants, laundry sorting, attitude adjusting four children, more work and so on. I was taken aback by the incredibly peaceful sound of the ocean that was so vivid in my imagination I may as well have actually been right there in that moment.

I found it interesting and emotionally moving that as soon as I stopped and engaged something that spoke to my spirit – the “presence” everyone tells me to find easily overwhelmed me. I didn’t even really try. It just happened. I was moved. The heartwarming thoughtfulness of my friend carried serious weight in making me feel loved. The chief gain, however, was the fact that I felt alive in that moment of pause and intention to give my imagination a connection to my spirit. And so there’s the ticket, I think. You can try as you might to do all the meditative things. For real. Go ahead- diffuse your oil, juice your veg, play your app. But, unless it’s something that directly connects your imagination to the wonderment of what moves your spirit you’ll be trying to do some prescription like maneuver to generate mindfulness.

Moral of the story: There’s no one way to peel the apple of peace. Find what speaks to you and what you connect with then marinate your brilliant mind in THAT for the minute or two that you find. We put our make up on (or not), do our hair each day (or not), but don’t forget that in the hustle and grind the Spirit, that is you, needs attention too. Stare at a piece of your favorite art, burn a scented candle you just love, or play a favorite song ridiculously on repeat. Whatever man. Mindfulness, Presence, and Intentions can be more easily achieved if done in your lane, your way, according to what moves you. Go there…. and then stand in it for just a bit. Thats all I’m sayin’.

I believe in us.

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One man’s trash….

…. Is another man’s treasure.

I’m convinced that there is nothing… literally nothing of waste in this life in terms of experiences we face.

I’m sitting in my favorite spot in my house as I write this morning. The sun rises around me. I stare out the wrap around porch windows to the lush green surround that makes me feel completely hidden despite the hustle of traffic I hear in the distance. My fiddle leaf fig, which is my favorite tree in my favorite room, stands tall and yet drooping in the corner surely from over watering in my eagerness to establish its roots. My coffee sits piping on my favorite piece of furniture in my favorite room just across from my favorite droopy tree. A collection of seashells, where no one is like the other, hangs on the wall reminding of my first love. If a hundred hanging seashells don’t initiate an image for you there’s a picture of an ocean’s pier just opposite that mimics the pier of my home town and my favorite landing spot on the planet: Cocoa Beach. My favorite room, my favorite tree, my favorite piece of furniture (that holds my favorite beverage), surrounded by images of my favorite place on this Earth. What is not to love? Believe me, I love this room so very much as it sits perched off the far back side of the house to the degree that my four children seem to forget it’s here and therefore…. miraculously forget to bug me while I’m in it.

As surrounded as I am this morning with peace, quiet and my favorite things a la Oprah Winfrey style, one item of interest catches my eye above all the rest. In the corner below the hanging seashells sits a doorstop. A DOORSTOP. At least- that’s what it was used for when I crossed paths with it. It sat outside tossed to the right of the front door of a home I was staging for resale. The homeowner had emptied the place, but left behind the convenient doorstop for whomever needed it. How thoughtful of him. Everyone needs a good old doorstop. When I laid eyes on this doorstop it was love at first sight and I was baffled how anyone could leave it behind…. IMG_8859

Don’t even play! You too have shock and awe that this beauty was used as a doorstop. When I saw it – it stopped me in my tracks. It reminded me of driftwood, which reminds me of the ocean, which reminds me of my favorite place. I had the rare, but desperate boldness to ask the realtor to ask the homeowner if he minded that I took the “doorstop”. And so it goes: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

What’s the friggin point? Just pause for a minute today and hear me. HEAR ME. There are things in your life that look like absolute crap… to you. There are places you have been and moments you’ve experienced that may seem entirely meaningless…. to you. There are pains you’ve encountered that have left you wondering what the point of it all was for. I have seen it time and time and time again so far in this little life of mine and I’m convinced that NOTHING is wasted. What has looked like and felt like complete trash to you has, in reality, served you with a treasure trove of depth and understanding. Your pain has NOT been in vain. It can be the treasure of your life to another man that needs a hearing ear and a listening heart some day. The experiences in your life that seem little more significant than a doorstop can be the very moments that generated a knowing in you. That knowing, in turn, can stir and heal and mend the heart of another gracing them with beauty of feeling seen and known and ultimately ….. not alone.

I know it’s hard. But, just for a moment imagine that your life and its myriad of experiences that carved you out hollow are like a glistening, blindingly bright treasure to those who encounter you.

I believe in us and that nothing we’ve experienced has been of waste.

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*Favorite table credit: Timber & Tulip

The Body

A kindergarten teacher once asked her students what the purpose of their body was. The classroom’s consensus and precious reply was this: “It’s used to hold our head up.”

Oh, the irony of that perspective. The profound simplicity.

When I was in nursing school (far too long ago) I had to take anatomy and physiology. I straight up consumed every lecture like it was as good as air. I loved it so much I swear I’d go back right now and take it again. I was fascinated by the genius of the machine that our bodies are on a cellular level. (I mean, can I please get a quick shout out for the Krebs Cycle or what?!) Like many of my fellow colleagues, I held several different positions as an RN. In my former glory years, I worked in Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Surgical Intensive Care and Trauma Nursing. I had the fortune to see the body function, heal and sustain mind blowing injuries. I saw countless babies inhale their first breath. In my Trauma days, I saw a man live to tell about the horror of falling thirty feet from a building onto a bar of rebar that impaled itself straight through his skull. I saw the inside of a chest cavity more times than I can count. I can do CPR in my sleep like a BOSS. I’ve seen patients return to an alert state of mind after being comatose for two whole months or more. Our bodies are incredible and they’re forever seeking a state of whole homeostasis (stable equilibrium).

If we stopped for a quick ponder, no doubt, we would all agree that our bodies are intelligent and globally mesmerizing. In the light of my knowledge, experience and education why then did I allow my mind to reduce the sole purpose of my body to: appear “thin”? Why did I lose the respect and wonder of its actual functions and endless abilities? At what turn did I begin to believe the shallow societal notion that our size and shape are our vehicle for securing other people’s opinion of us? That’s such a slap in the face to the wonderment of the body’s near indescribable capabilities.

I’ve lived with a (self-limiting) narrative that I’m as good, desirable, acceptable and respectable as I am thin. As if “thinness” is the showcase for my worth; the strength of my internal locus of control; or the reflection of my self discipline. As if “thinness” equals beauty somehow and suggests that my body is all that and then some. As if “thinness” somehow secures my seat at the table of life one row ahead of where I’d be otherwise. I can hardly get over how shallow that sounds. I can barely stomach how narrow that perspective is and the realization that it ruled my life for decades.

We have to fight a little bit. We have to wrestle a lot a bit. We have to subscribe again and again and AGAIN to the truth that we are so much more valuable than our size or shape. I have two daughters and two sons. When I think of how beautiful and priceless they are I want to protect them and filter any influence over their belief system in their worth like a raging caged animal. I want to stand at the gates of their thoughts and arrest anything that will mess with their sense of how precious they are. I would fight to the death to protect them. I would need massive restraint as I’d nearly rip the throat out of anything that spoke crap over them. FACT: I am worth that same level of intensity. How can I convince my children of something I don’t believe for my own self? I have learned repeatedly that kids can smell a fake from a mile away.

People- please hear me. There’s nothing easy about going against the grain of society. I think we all know that full well. I let my mind be water boarded by shallow lies for sooooo damn long. There is no time like the present to stand up for myself and to get vigilant about protecting what thoughts I believe to be true about my value. I have children to model authentic self confidence for. I have WHOLE people to care for. My body, in full view, is a total machine y’all. It is working around the clock for me. In the same way that our bodies are infinitely more complex than simply holding our heads up, our worth is tied to so much more than our size and appearance. There genuinely is NO room to believe otherwise.

I believe in US.

 

 

 

The Truth Hurts… or does it?

We put in a pool last fall in preparation for some serious fun this summer. To say that taking care of a pool is a steep learning curve is a total understatement. Growing up in Florida I had the pleasure of enjoying a pool as they came with a house almost expectedly. I remember swimming for hours on end without a care in the world. We lived in a one story home with a flat roof. My older brother and I would climb onto the roof and run to our potential death to cannon ball into the pool. Every time we jumped we would inadvertently drag in a trillion shingle pebbles. One day my mom, perplexed, asked why there were always so many little rocks in the pool clogging up the cleaner. Neither of us confessed as we played dumb to the weird phenomenon. As an adult now with four kids of my own and a pool to keep balanced I can see how annoying that must have been for my mom. We had a blast though.

A pool isn’t a pool without the water, right. The water has to remain at a strict, tight balance of chlorine to water at a million parts per million per square foot. You’re welcome for that chemistry fact. If the pool water gets out of balance at even a million and eight parts per million she goes cloudy. Just like that. She’s a foggy mess. You then have to balance it back out by shocking the system for a day and nurse it back to clear blue inviting water for cannon balls and marco polo.

The truth is like that. Honesty with ourselves is the clear blue water. It’s the playground for freedom and abandon. Hiding our reality at even a fraction is the cloudy, foggy water that needs attention. Being brutally honest with ourselves in how we handle and process life and its myriad of situations is crucial to our health and balance.

I’ve had a trying year. I remember my 40th birthday like it was yesterday. Not just because that’s a milestone birthday, but because I sat weeping as I honestly admitted to myself that I had a raging eating disorder. The truth hurt. Or did it? Once I named and embraced that reality I could either wallow there or get to work to clear the water. I had to take a look in the mirror and acknowledge honestly the way that I was handling life. I was doing all the things quite functionally. But, I was nothing more than a pool of murky, cloudy water that needed a shock to its system. God put an awareness and drive in me to get whole like I’d never experienced before. He surrounded me with empathetic and supportive friends that reached out to me. I am eternally grateful for that. I surrendered. I bent my feeble knees to the truth. In that place of weakness honesty was the only key to the door of my healing. There was literally no other way out.

As I write I am just post my 41st birthday. The truth hurt last year, but the way I was handling life hurt worse. The truth was, in turn, the salve to my system and the only way forward into actually living as opposed to slowly dying. I have experienced more healing through the truth and its momentary, fleeting jab to the heart than I can describe.

Shocking a pool back to clear water takes 24-48 hours. I wish our healing took about the same. It absolutely doesn’t. But, the sooner we admit to ourselves in brazen honesty the way we are handling life the sooner we can find freedom and peace and hope and so so much more.

For the love, ask yourself where you need to surrender to the truth of how you are handling life. It is an intensely uncomfortable question. But, I promise you that what awaits you on the other side is nothing short of beautiful.

I genuinely believe in us.

 

A Letter To My Recovering Self

Dear Me-

I see you. I see you working so hard right now. You are climbing your mountain and I know you are a bit tired. I see your intense will to keep climbing despite the exhaustion. I know, you’re forty years old and you feel like this mountain is all too familiar. You feel like you’ve been on this climb before and you’re a little frustrated that you’re back at it. But, please take note right now that you’ve never actually made it this far. You’re seeing things that you’ve never seen before. You’re digging deeper than you have before. You are beginning to smell freedom in the air.

Take a rest for just a minute and then take in a super deep breath. Freedom smells sweet like the flowers springing up on the side of this mountain. It fills your lungs with a scent that comforts you and the great news is there’s more where that came from. There’s a grove of beauty that goes on for miles and miles just on the other side of this climb. I can’t wait for you to see it, to step foot through it, and to know intimately that you belong there. You’re gonna make it. I promise. Believe in your strength and resolve right now. You are a courageous woman and you are doing an amazing job.

As you sit and rest for a second I want you to repeat after me: I forgive myself. Take a minute, hear it in your head, and then say it out loud. I know it sounds a little silly to you, but this step is pretty important. Abbie, you have beaten yourself up for long enough. The reality is there were things in your life that converged into a tangled mess and you didn’t know how to deal with the weight of it all. Don’t get me wrong, you weren’t ignorant. You just didn’t have all the tools yet. You have a really sensitive heart. This is one of my favorite things about you. At times, you felt a mounting pressure to do right, to be good, to not fail, to consistently show up for others… and so much more. Because of this you have felt heavy and full at times. Full to the brim of expectations that you’ve held over yourself. You are a beautiful listener. You always have been. That, combined with your sensitive heart has meant you’ve also carried the weight of others in addition to the pressure you put on yourself. You found a way to cope with all that emotion through your eating disorder. It availed itself to you as a way to get rid of things and to feel empty. It was a compelling offer. It was an outlet that presented itself to you to offload the weight you were carrying. As damaging as that mechanism was and is you needed a way out of all the heaviness. I don’t blame you. There’s just a better way now.

So, when you’re ready – stand tall. Stand proud. Stand strong. When you know better, you do better. And you’re seeing that now. I’m really proud of you. Some people don’t even bother to take a long hard look in the mirror of reality. They push things away, stuff them down and carry on meanwhile decaying inside. You are choosing the opposite and I see life springing up inside of you. It’s healing you. It’s freeing you. It’s giving you stamina for the rest of this arduous climb to lasting freedom. Stay the course. Be kind to your heart. See how far you’ve come. You are more than enough. Now carry on, keep climbing, and know that I am here for you.

I believe in you.