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.

Let The Light In

“I am humbled to admit that the only difference I see on Earth between being strong and weak is the honesty with which we face ourselves, accept ourselves, share ourselves blemishes and all.” – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

It takes internal courage of heart to not act like we have it all together all the time. Some things in life are easy and happen on autopilot. Loading a dishwasher, the laundry, microwaving something, writing a check. But, there are other things in this life that are just incredibly tough to get through. Facing our baggage, untangling lies, feeling the pain of our circumstances, disappointments, regrets…  It’s beyond okay to admit from time-to-time that life is hard. It hurts. And your heart weighs heavy and there are pieces of you that are scattered about at the moment.

There’s a constant ebb and flow to this life. There’s a journey, a path for each of us to take. No two stories look the same. Ever. Just because the guy next to you waltzed through his trauma seemingly quick doesn’t mean you have to hurry up and get yourself “better”.

I think we are a little afraid to be broken. I think we want to show up strong and whole and to be admired. But, I am learning in a major way these days that you don’t have to be finished in order to be whole. In other words “whole” truly is a combination of strengths and weakness’, not simply one or the other. You don’t have to have all the things sorted out in order to be considered whole and thriving. You just don’t.

I cannot say it enough – do not rush a healing. There is space for you to mend. There is time for you to heal. There is room in this world for broken people. There is a seat at the table for the imperfect ones. There is hope for the struggling ones. Do not be okay… if you’re not okay. We will love you as you are. Let that light in today.

I believe in us.

Go On. You Can Do It.

Cherish yourself. See yourself. Give to yourself. Compliment yourself. Take care of yourself. Hold HOPE for yourself. Be tender to yourself. Believe in yourself. Embrace yourself. Laugh at yourself. Be merciful with yourself. Be gentle with your shortcomings. Be kind to yourself. Do NOT under any circumstances whatsoever give up on yourself.

You are everything and more. You are wise. You are funny. You are important. You are capable. You are strong. You are infinitely unique. You are beautiful. You are loving. You light up a room. You are smart. You are witty. You are brave. You are an overcomer. You are creative. You are good at so many things. You are what this world needs. You are so very worthy.

The sun rose high and proud today – just for you.

Wrap your arms tenderly around who you are RIGHT now. Flaws and ALL. Love the entire you.

Go on, you CAN do it.

I BELIEVE in us!

 

The Magic of Healing

Sometimes pain lives like a virus in your system. You cannot rush a healing any more than you can rush the run of a virus. It just has to take its course and partner with time to find its resolve.

There are certain things in this life that effect us at different levels. They hold on to our memory banks like an encoded java script that takes some serious technological advance to decipher. I just want to give you permission today from one human to another to still hurt. Just because we are grown adults doesn’t mean that we’ve worked our way through it all by now.

I watch America’s Got Talent with my kids. It’s a thing. Our thing. I used to hate the show because I couldn’t stand to watch half the acts like knives being inserted apparently as deep as a hip socket or someone falling to their death only stopping inches from plunder. It’d ridiculous to me how people even discover talents like these. I mean – who thinks of sticking a knife down their throat and getting shot at with a flaming arrow narrowly missing all vital organs as it hits some teeny tiny baby target? It’s short of crazy.

Where’s my correlation? America has certainly got talent. Act after act people stuff amazing, harrowing events into a three-minute span that’s riddled with magic and illusion as they bear the brunt of what appears to be deeply painful tricks to the naked eye. Pain, healing and overcoming in real life is the exact opposite of what we see on the screen. There is no way to take magic and illusion and cover the events that our life has held. Furthermore, there is rarely a round of applause as we come up standing on the other side. I think humans are incredibly resilient. This show certainly proves that. However, when it comes to real life pain sometimes it runs as deep as our hips and it needs far more than three minutes to recover and find equilibrium.

I sat in therapy yesterday divulging intricate details about the origin and the presence an eating disorder has held in my life. I was left with shock and awe as some of the events of my life bubbled up with tears and a heaviness and straight up pain attached. There were things that I thought I’d dealt with only to find them surface with a fever, evidence of a virus still working its way through my system. I came home last night and cried a hundred more tears because I want to be “over it all” by now, but my heart was telling me otherwise. There is still work to be done. There is still time needed for the virus to run its course and find its healing. Just because I’m the ripe age of forty now doesn’t mean I’ve arrived at a place of wholeness and healing.

All that said, sometimes we have to take inventory of where our heart is at in all reality. Sometimes we have to honor our pain, acknowledge it, let it bubble up with tears and emotions and give it space to work its way out. Just because the things of the past still hurt doesn’t mean you are broken. It means you are alive. Just because you still have tears and anguish doesn’t mean you aren’t every bit amazing from head to toe. It means you are REAL.

I do believe in magic. But I also believe in reality. Where is your heart today? Be gentle with yourself. Your reality is worth honoring and taking a concentrated look at. I also believe that we do deserve a standing ovation as we come up, out, over and through our stories with resilience. I am cheering for you today. Truly. I believe in us.

 

Be Your Own Hero

I’ve been binge watching ‘Medal Of Honor’ on Netflix lately. I am astounded by the resilience of the human spirit when called into action and the defense of our country. The pure bravery these men and women have shown in their lifetime is nothing short of miraculous. I’m beyond impressed by the accounts of these soldiers, who at any age, courageously decided to show up for themselves and several others in their care and take on the charge of defending them… even to the death.

If you’ve followed along with me for any length of time on this blog journey you’ll soon recognize one of my chief passions. We have to get aggressive about owning our worth and take on the charge of personal warfare over our internal dialogue. As if our lives depend on it.

I have lived my life with a steady diet of poisonous internal thoughts and doubts about my true beauty. I imagine some of you have suffered the same to varying degrees. It’s been a battle for me to say the least. There are so many things in society that try to coach us into believing that beauty is defined by measurable factors. I don’t know exactly where all the turning points were along the way, but I took the bait. I adopted the thought that if I could control my weight, and therefore what others see, then people would find me acceptable. It sounds so stupid now when I read that. But, the truth is – that was an insidious lie that I believed that began as the size of a mustard seed. That tiny seed, once watered with a little trash talk here and there about my body, carried along with it an eating disorder and shame that grew to the size of Texas. The ground in my mind was overwhelmed by an enemy of truth.

What if we treated ourselves with the same level of valor that those men and women showed up with on the battlefield? What if we stood guard at the gates of our mind as if our lives depended on it? What if we stood up to society’s standards and told ourselves that we are worth so much more? Not all of us will stand and fight on an actual battlefield with literal bullets and bombs flying overhead. But, if you can roll with me for a second I’d say that when we allow trash talk about ourselves, or our bodies, to pound through the corridors of our mind it’s as if we are in a fight for our lives. The negative internal chatter that we’ve become accustomed to is like streaming bullets to our spirit. They are destructive bombs that we drop on our true worth and they can wreak havoc.

Be your own hero. Today. Your value, your beauty, your whole entire being is worth fighting for. Stir your vigilance. Stand at the gate of your mind as a watchman. Defend your ground against negative self talk. Do not let so much as a tiny poisonous thought gain entrance.

I believe in us and the power to protect our worth and to choose to believe our beauty is so beyond a measurable means. Our lives and those under our care depend on it.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness Defined: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

Forgiveness, such an intuitive definition, simple, yet a challenge for so many of us. I believe it’s a practice, a skill to hone, something that evolves within us. It’s not a punch card moment in the least. It’s an action OR process that is often repeated time and time again.

I was thinking today about the wrongs that have occurred towards me in my life and the wrongs that I’ve committed towards myself and others. I immediately felt a dark cloud come over me when I thought of the wrongs I have committed. But, when I thought about the wrongs committed against me I felt a sense of grace and peace, an extension of pardon bubble up within me. At first glance, I was alarmed at this feeling thinking “oh boy, I have work to do. That dark cloud can’t stay”… but, at second glance I felt proud of the feeling that has evolved within me towards others. Nevertheless, this does beg the question: why can I extend an evolved pardon towards others yet hold myself hostage?

If a doctor told me that there was a diet pill that I could take that would result in a twenty pound weight loss by day three I’d be jamming that down my throat in two seconds flat. Forgiveness over ourself and others can have the same effect as the diet pill in many physical, mental and emotional ways, yet we hesitate. I hesitate. I hesitate for many reasons. I suppose hanging on to the wrongs I’ve committed somewhat confirms the poor self-image I have. I know that sounds terrible. But, it’s true in a way. Holding on to the crap I’ve done mirrors the crap I feel about myself. If I chose to let go of the stupid stuff I’ve done I would have to take that poor self image, the crappy mirror, and start speaking kindly to her. I’d have to look at my mangled messes and pour peace all over them until they were drenched and untangled. I’d have to extend a handful of peace that wasn’t earned, but gifted to myself, by myself. I’d have to set myself free. I’d have to do the work of altering completely my internal dialogue and what I choose to be true about my worthiness.

When we choose forgiveness we are taking a once tightly bound, fully constricted blood vessel and serving it with oxygen. We are therefore serving everything that surrounds it with oxygen as well. Forgiveness is the process of recovering wholeness, breathing life into the broken spaces and making way for a healing. It’s a coming to peace. It’s a process of acknowledgement followed by a restoration of our will to be free. Forgiveness towards ourselves and others is the currency for an exchange that makes way for growth and restoration of our worth. Simply put: It’s the bitter pill we swallow that sets us free. It’s the very medicine that releases pounds of anger and hurt and all that stalls our growth and change.

Forgiveness is rarely a one and done. Our memory banks are keen and ever so vivid. They are tied to our emotional make up. We often inadvertently keep a record of wrongs. We need the action or process of forgiveness to restore justice in our hearts. The impact of our experiences is strong and the ONLY thing greater than that impact is the power of forgiveness.

I just want to convince you today to do a little inventory. Search your heart. Where are you held hostage? Are you able to release others, but hold yourself hostage over wrongs done? Or do you suffer from the opposite? Can you forgive yourself, but you’re holding with a vice grip wrongs that have occurred in your life at the hands of another? Either way. There is a coming to peace waiting for you through the process of forgiveness. This blog post is not exhaustive. There are easily a million more words to say on the subject. But, consider this today: where is one area in your heart and life that could stand to have the gift of peace breathed straight into it? Where is one crack in your heart that could use the healing balm of forgiveness gifted to yourself, bu yourself? Consider your freedom and get to work ushering in peace as though your livelihood depends on it.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Victor Frankl

 

Beauty And The Beach

I sit on the Beach in the warm Florida sun with the breeze on my face, salt in the air, and the sound of waves crashing just 20 feet away from me. I can taste the salt in the air and smell the suntan lotion and my senses tell me I am home. This is Heaven for me. I am a Cocoa Beach native and no matter where I live in the world this will always be my true home. This is where my heart feels most content. A surge of peace takes over me at the beach. A gentleness takes over my pulse.

I can hear the laughter of my children. I can hear them hollering to one another make-believe scenarios like “getting away from robbers” and mermaids coming ashore as they body surf the cresting waves and I smile. I know I am gifting them with the same experience that made up nearly every day of my childhood. My heart fills with deep contentment. I could sit there all day. I could sit there all day as we chase the sun down out of the sky.

I sit there glued to my chair. I’m glued for many reasons. I sit locked in because I relish in the feelings of peacefulness and the symphony of pleasant sounds that surround me. Not a wandering crab or a flock of birds is lost on me. This beach is to me the most beautiful haven on the planet.  I also sit locked to my chair because of deep-rooted insecurity. If I get up and stroll to the shore “what will others think when they see my body and this swimsuit” I wonder. How can a place that is dripping with a sense of home also be welcome to my entrenched body image issues and shame over my appearance? How can a negative internal narrative show up for a forty year old mother of four? Aren’t we over this stupidity by now? It’s a mystery to me how I can feel such a sense of peace, but simultaneously be glued to a beach chair so no one sees my body. How can I feel such joy and yet choose to be locked down to a stupid striped chair so that I don’t feel the rejection I’m projecting from my neighboring beach go-er … whom I don’t even know. I skip out on the fun with my children because I’d rather stay tied to my chair then give a passer by the opportunity to think I look “fat”. I full-blown lie and tell my kids “mom just loves to get a suntan” when I refuse their request to come play. The truth is mom is deeply insecure in her own skin and simply cannot get up. Won’t get up. I decline their request to show up at the water’s edge because it’s too cold I tell them. The truth is my negative internal dialogue is robbing me of the ability to show up for them with any level of participation.

I hate this scenario. I hate how my self-doubt sits on my chest like a beached whale. I hate that I am choosing to skip out on writing notes in the sand and building castles with motes and drawbridges. I hate that I opt out of a stroll to collect shells because I fear the opinion of people watchers that are all foreign to me and nowhere near my inner circle of friends. I hate that I let shame and insecurity rob me of memories to be made. I hate that I let my insecurity be bigger than my strength and resolve to show up for them. The barrier to my full, true joy is that I give a sh*$ what other people think of me instead of being a badass mom with four children having a little fun while centering myself in presence.

This has to change. Insecurity, humiliation and a negative internal dialogue are not things that we deliberately pack in the bag of sand toys. Yet they show up in full force.

I love watching the tide. It comes and goes at a rhythmic pace. As does our positive and negative narrative running through us. Unlike the tide however we have control over our thoughts and the freedom they allow us. We have to deliberately attack our negativity with life-giving thoughts that unlock confidence and resolve to get up out of a chair and care not what the world sees apart from a mom engaging wholeheartedly with her children. You might be thinking that I’m really glued to the chair because of simple vanity. I assure you that’s not the case. We live in a culture that values thinness and rewards it with compliments and we brutally judge one another on the daily. We live in a body centric environment and have raised one another to think that thin is beautiful and anything outside of that needs to be reigned in. In order to be counter-culturalists we have to choose to value who we are on the inside over what we show or see on the outside. This takes effort as we go against the tide of our society. But it’s a fight to the death of the joy-robbing, presence stealing moments like these.

I believe in us and the power to go against the tide, to get up out of our chairs, to inhale freedom and to exhale presence. Now, I have a mermaid to rescue…..

Homeostasis In Both the Mind & Body

Homeostasis defined: the tendency toward equilibrium between interdependent elements. A coordinated response of parts to maintain equality secondary to any situation or stimulus.

Our bodies and our minds fascinate me. My former background is in nursing. My favorite class in college and the one I excelled in was anatomy and physiology. So, forgive me while I geek out for a second….

We are literally addicted, at an underlying, constant level, to homeostasis. We have interdependent elements working at all times to achieve a state of equilibrium.  We can actually be an active participant in this process both psychologically and physiologically by the choices that we make. We can help create harmony in our mind and body.

Here’s what I’m saying…. we crave balance. We crave peace in our innermost being. The second we put food into our mouth our body gets to work breaking it down and releasing chemicals and elements to neutralize the fats, carbs and proteins. If we are out of balance in any category it knows how to pull what it needs from storage. It’s a genius. Same goes for us psychologically. The second we encounter a tense situation, be it positive or negative, our bodies send out hormones and chemicals to help us break down the scenario and file that experience away in our brain. Our bodies are a machine y’all. They are efficient machines working around the clock on all levels to process life. It would behoove us then to help the body out! We can partner up with this machine by feeding it well and speaking to it well. It actually matters what we put into our bodies by way of nourishment. It matters on the same level what we nourish our brain with. This is where the positive self talk comes in. When we have a negative internal dialogue our bodies read that as tension. It then goes into actual overdrive to achieve a positive state of homeostasis. It seeks to pull from storage a positive narrative to counter balance your negative one. If you allow your stream of consciousness to speak crap to you then you are actually overworking your chemical and hormonal balance. For real.

So, why don’t we do ourselves a favor shall we? Why don’t we become keepers of the gate and head off the negative self talk at the pass. Why don’t we get a touch vigilant about which active and passive thoughts are allowed to run through our minds. If you suffer from a constant state of exhaustion (there are countless contributors to this obviously) I would suggest that you need to check your mental tension and speak some positivity over yourself. If you lack the words right now- that’s ok. Here are a few for the taking:

I am pretty freaking amazing.

I am beautiful right now as is.

I believe I am worthy of love and belonging.

I am a boss at managing my life no matter what it looks like.

In truth, I am a wonder to behold.

I am an endless gift to this world and to the people I encounter.

Those are just a few thoughts I offer you to insert into your stream of consciousness to literally interrupt the negative chatter in your brain. Do yourself a favor. Take care. Take great, intentional, gentle care of you. You are precious and wise, noble and beautiful, magical and intelligent. You are a gift to this world and to all the people you encounter. The world is a better place so long as you are in it. Do not let yourself believe or feast on a thought that would suggest otherwise. We have a choice. Every day. Choose which thoughts get to serve your state of equilibrium.

I believe in us wholeheartedly. I believe in our ability to balance our mental homeostasis with some real truth about who we are.

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