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.

Showing Up

Showing up for your own inherent worth matters more than anything.

Diving right in, in full transparency, it has taken me about sixteen years to figure out that my husband is not my source of contentment. I know, I’m a little slow. No matter how many times he tells me, “you look nice today” it just doesn’t quench my thirst to feel beautiful. No matter how many times my children say, “I love you too mom” it just doesn’t satisfy my desire to feel like a “good” mom. Not to suggest I’m some abyss of need, I’m just admitting that no matter how much they pour into me – it’s never enough unless I believe things to be true of myself from the inside out. When they would “fail” me in building me up I would turn to my bag of tricks to feel good rather than my own voice…. because I didn’t believe in myself.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem for most of my life. It has been a struggle indeed. I bought into some thought process that once I got married and had children of my own I would somehow feel good about myself from there on out. Insert massive learning curve here. I thought I’d have a partner and a brood of little humans, much like a parrot on my shoulder, that would shower me with compliments about how I do life. I thought those compliments would provide a steady stream of esteem in who I was as a person. I was depending on my husband and my children to provide a sense of worth and value from the outside in. I wanted them to help make me feel good about myself. I do think it’s entirely okay to want and even need validation here and there, but to be dependent on their accolades in order to feel good about who I am…. major letdown. Don’t get me wrong – my husband is a kind man and notices my efforts. Likewise, my children are loving and kind (and absolute freak shows at times). But, I find it fascinating that no matter how much they give to me in word or deed it is never enough unless I genuinely believe in myself.

Showing up for ourselves, in terms of knowing our worth, is far from selfish and self-centered. We have to be able to look in the mirror and believe HARD in our value as we stand there alone with no one to tell us a thing or two. We have to know deep in our core that we make the world a better place to be in simply because we walk in the room. No – that’s not arrogance talking, that’s confidence in our contribution to this life and the lives of others. We have to be boldly confident in who we are and what we offer this world. I’ve learned over time that confidence in our worth and value is often simply a choice. It’s a choice to believe in who we are and the value that we bring to this world. There are so many things I don’t know, but what I do know mixed with my God-given perception is of serious significance to the people in my life.

So, what’s my point? Choose. Choose to believe in your inherent value. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Please know that who you are, your personality, the way you process life, and what you bring to the room is of infinite worth. There’s no substitute for you. There’s no one who can do your life better than you can. We need you. All of you. In this day and in this hour. Stand tall. You matter and you are beautiful every time you bring the whole you to the table. Your needs matter. Your scars matter. Your experiences matter. Your perception is valuable. Your pain matters. Your efforts matter. What you’ve learned through life matters. Your smile breaks open the troubles of the day. Your laugh is medicine to the weary.

Show up for yourself and believe in who you are from the inside out. Speak into your soul exactly what you need to hear. I promise you it’s not pride. It’s an act of honoring the true worth and value that makes up who you are.

I believe in us and the power to choose that we are amazing.

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.

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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Authenticity And Eating Disorders

Someone asked me recently why I’ve had an eating disorder. This was a loaded question. I immediately felt a tightening in my chest and a surge of insecurity as I struggled to find the words to defend my disease and its thirty year presence. I quickly sifted through my brain and started rattling off a bunch of predisposing factors that were in my life. I felt this pressure to come up with a good enough answer that validated why I had been so obsessed with this evil thing for so long. I’m pretty sure I did a good job answering the question because I hit most of the known bullet points that I have spent countless hours in therapy going over. Honestly, I felt a little vulnerable just answering the question as I let this person have a view of the building blocks of this disease and what that looked like for me…..

Later on I sat down with my thoughts, cracked open my journal and began to dissect my answer a bit. I wrote down the key words like “control”, “perfectionism”, “insecurity”… and things of the like. However, when I got to the bottom of the page I scanned back through my writing. I realized a major theme throughout my words. I deeply cared about what other’s thought of me and how I was perceived. It’s as if I have cared entirely more about what other’s think of me than what I think of myself. There was a bit of an epiphany there. I can attack and lock down on my eating disorder habits all day long until I’m blue in the face. But, if I don’t go after what I fundamentally believe to be true about myself then this thing can disappear out of sight all it wants. It will truly only be waiting in the wings for me for the day that I crack. I know that now.

That said, I am a little bit obsessed these days with talking about our internal dialogue. I am a little bit preoccupied with the narrative that we let run through our minds both actively and passively. We have GOT to be incredibly vigilant about owning what we think of OURSELVES. I have lived my lifetime thus far with a poor self image. I realize that I have actually used others and ultimately my eating disorder as a vehicle to harness some self acceptance. My eating disorder has stuck around as long as it has because without it I am just left with my own thoughts about my worth…. And as long as that narrative has been a crappy one I’ve needed to dip into my bag of tricks to survive feeling so shitty about myself. Pardon my French.

It makes so much sense to me now.

Authenticity Defined: of undisputed origin, genuine

We get one shot. We get one life where we get to express ourselves and to live out of who we truly are. Self doubt meets us at the door and offers us an escort into any situation. Doubt sticks out its grimy hand, rifles through its bag, and offers us masks and barriers, and vices, and, for me eating disorders. It takes its gangly finger, lifts it to our mouth and tells us to hush. That bag of tricks only serves to hide our authentic selves. We become too afraid to be authentic because we care too much about what others think of us and we often have a poor view of how we see ourselves.

Instead of complimenting one another on how we look all the time maybe we could start to practice complimenting one another for WHO we are. Maybe we could start with doing this for ourselves. Maybe we could take the time to see that magic in our character and personality and call that out a time or two. Maybe if you see something someone has done that is a really beautiful gesture you could take the time to remark on it. Maybe we raise our sons and daughters to believe they are of inherent value. Maybe we compliment them out loud when we see things like kindness, determination at basketball practice, stellar commitment with their homework, etc.. Maybe we can alter just a tiny bit the way we see one another and the way we talk to one another. Maybe we can alter just a tiny bit the way we see ourselves and the way we talk to ourselves.

I believe with everything in my core that our deepest hunger is to feel seen, to be heard and to know that we matter to this world and to the people in it. I believe that when those fundamental needs aren’t met we let things like self doubt in the door. We welcome its ugly presence and we hide behind things. How about we get about the business of locking the door guys. How about we open our hearts to our worth and we let that in. Maybe we become a haven for our own worth. A home for our hearts. DO NOT let yourself tear yourself down anymore. It literally kills you slowly and calls for a deep slumber over your genuine origin, your authenticity.

I hear you.

I see you.

You matter to this world and to the people in it.

 

Turn Up The Volume

Shame defined by Webster: the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of being loved and belonging- something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do that make us unworthy of connection.

Quit waiting for the shame-filled voices to merely go away.  Actively turn up the volume on the soul building, spirit filling voices that course through you.

I haven’t dedicated my life’s work and research to shame resilience. But, I do know all too well what shame sounds like: Failure, embarrassed, stuck, flawed, behind, I’ll forever be trying to become better than I am right now, I need to become good, your body doesn’t work right, you’re totally screwing up at this life, etc.

If even a thread of those sound familiar chances are you identify with the shame struggle. I’ve surrendered to the fact that shame is a bit of an achilles heel for me. However, I’m not rolling over and playing dead any time soon. I’m fighting. I’m fighting for truth in my innermost parts. I’m fighting to turn up the volume on the truth that resides within me that sounds a little like this: you are a hero to your children, your body is capable of doing all that it was intended to do, you are the best version of you right now flaws and all, you are committed to growth and change, you have evolved beautifully, you are smart, funny and gosh darnit people like you, etc.

We cannot sit idle by and let the background music of our lives play a song that tears us down. We cannot sit still while bricks are being thrown at our character. We have to stand tall and strong and declare an end to the tear down. We have to say NO MORE To the onslaught and antics of shame. We need to practice radical forgiveness toward ourselves. That’s right: radical forgiveness. If it’s true that we attract what we feel inside- then we best get to work feeling pretty stinking amazing. There is only ONE you. There’s no replacement. There’s no alternative. You are the best you around. No argument. No one can do life better than you. Sure, there are some genius’ out there (like Brene Brown), but no one shows up for this life more ready to make it amazing than you. We have to shut down and silence the doubt that we are not a valuable contribution to this time and the people we encounter. Take a deep breath. Practice some self care. Turn down the volume on the voices that spend their energy filling you with shame. Turn up the volume on the voices that coach you into the greatness that you are.  It’s a battle for sure. One worth fighting.

Per Mel Robbins…. TIP: Post an anchor thought.

“Sometimes life is hard. It’s part of being human. For those times, I want you to cheer for yourself. Post your favorite quote where you can see it and read it aloud every time you pass by.”

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It’s In The Waiting

The waiting phase. All of life’s experiences are accompanied by some element of waiting. All of them. Waiting for a cake to bake. Waiting for the baby to come. Waiting for your car while you get an oil change. Waiting in line at Starbucks. Waiting for your turn in the doctor’s office. Waiting for a check in the mail. Waiting for your kids to come to the carpool line at after school pick up (because they’re inside raiding the vending machine or something super important like that). Waiting for your loved ones to arrive from out of town. Waiting for the job interview. Waiting for 8pm when the kids go to bed. Waiting for the diagnosis. Waiting for the healing. Waiting for the breakthrough. Waiting for the miracle…. and on and on and on.

The waiting phase can be filled with so many deep emotions both of elation and pure agony. We get so eager for the “thing” to arrive that we often miss the beauty of the waiting period. We often look right over what that phase is actually producing in us.

Waiting defined: the action of staying where one is until a particular time.

Simple definition, I know. But, I remember years ago asking God to come and literally take my eating disorder away from me. The mental turmoil was and often is more than I could bear. I would ask him to just scoop it right out of my life like a hot spoon to a bowl of ice cream. Just take it away. Make it disappear. I have been waiting for years for God to push some sort of release valve in me or to stir whatever it was I was missing in order for me to make a better choice for my health. I was waiting for the strength and resolve to change to literally visit me in some miraculous fashion. I needed a miracle because this mental disorder had literally overtaken my entire mind like an unwelcome vine in a garden that chokes out all the fruit in its path. I needed God to come and show up and help me get to work. I was often extremely frustrated because I believe in a God that can speak and move mountains. Why not move this mountain of mine I so often wondered? Why not just say the word and we can get on our way? I was waiting. Waiting for freedom. Waiting for healing. Waiting for breakthrough. Waiting for the miracle.

In the waiting phase I attended therapy in copious amounts. Read books left and right. I attended self-care classes with the hope that the scales would tip and I’d start living out of my worth instead of my disease. I remember the ache- the literal ache in my heart for change to come. I would weep with desperation for God to rescue me, and my mind, and my body and to make me whole again. As I look back down the corridors of this waiting period, I realize I have learned more lessons than I could ever count. He used my own desperation to cause me to learn a thing or two. I was gaining insight every opportunity I could get. In the waiting phase He SO softened my heart. Now, when I see weakness in others my knee jerk reaction no longer is to judge their position in life, but rather to wonder deeply what their life has contained that led them to the place they are in. I wonder with empathy and compassion and tears and desire for their breakthrough. God didn’t so much scoop out my eating disorder as He did my ability to judge others. And for that, I am eternally grateful. God did not wave a wand and make this disease just disappear, but He opened my eyes so wide to my worth and to the power He gave me to choose to live out of that. He didn’t simply eliminate my toxic, choking vine of a disorder, but He did carve out a space in me that has more room for myself and others than I have words to describe.

The waiting phase. What it produces in us is something miraculous. Maybe the miracle is cultivated inside of the waiting. Maybe the healing is produced inside of the waiting. Maybe the breakthrough is coming little by little inside of the waiting. I’m now convinced that it’s in the waiting that we find our freedom. Do not overlook the value of this phase and the day of small beginnings.

I believe in us and the power to stay right where we are until a particular time.

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The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

This is a road traveled by many. So many that my mind floods with examples…. and empathy. From failed marriages, to the loss of a loved one, paralyzation, disease, miscarriage, loss of a job, and so on. Life can be so cruel and dark and lonely at times. Life can bring great joy, but it also serves us with tear-jerking, soul-wringing, gut-wrenching pain and trauma. We wonder how we survive at all sometimes.

I think of the heartache we encounter. And I can’t help but weep. I think of our response to it all. I think of our process through it all. How do we get from Point A to Point B when the bottom has simply dropped out? I don’t even feel like I have the authority to answer that question. So, I won’t. But, I do know what deep, dark places feel like. I know what the vultures of our joy sound like over head. I know what starvation for saving and a longing for hope’s rescue to come feels like. There’s a crazed desperation inside. A cavern so deep that it simply can’t be filled with one wave of the wand. The valley…. is a valley. It’s a deep dip in life’s surface that carves you out hollow. It’s cold and vacant and void of life at every turn. It’s a dark pace and you long so deeply to see a bright red exit sign. Only, there’s no exit sign, just a dimly lit path ahead. A  path that must be taken.

The valley of the shadow of death is real. So real.  There’s an accompanying white knuckle grip that circumstantial change will come. That a miracle will occur and life will begin again… whole and untouched by adversity. Why does a God so great and kind stir such torrential desperate waters in our soul? How does a God so powerful and all-knowing allow such ailments to visit us? Again, I don’t know the full answer to this, but I do know what resilience and hope looks like. It looks hot like a fire in a desert that warms your coldest places. It tastes sweet and bitter simultaneously. And the cry inside for rescue raises an octave or two as we throw our hands in surrender admitting our weakness to prevail. Adversity brings us to our knees, to the end of ourselves.

How do we begin again out of the hollow places where hope has been deferred?

We choose.

We choose to take the next, best, right step forward down that dimly lit path. We choose to believe in our worth and we anchor strong in our destiny. We sometimes get a tattoo or six to remind us who we are. We brand our hearts with truth that no matter how deep the valley we can RISE. In one, small step at a time forward we can find ourselves through the valley and at the base of a mountain ready to climb. We are weakened by tragedy, but ready to climb because we know now what surrender feels like and what slow motion looks like.

We choose.

We choose to believe in the power that resides within us to write our own story. To turn the page when the time is right. To put pen to paper and script our way forward. To write our way out. Hope is a powerful driver for the way forward. Hope in ourselves. Hope in a God that’s orchestrating all things for our good. Hope in our neighbor and friend and even enemy. Hope that the view on the top of that mountain to climb was worth every second in the valley of death.

Hope is the path forward. It’s a cold and broken hallelujah. With HOPE we can choose to rise. Be stirred today. The path may be dimly lit, but take one, small step forward at a time. You are WORTH the rising. The sun is coming for you. The mountain top is waiting for you. There are beautiful things to see just ahead for you. There is a filling of joy and peace and resolve and strength coming to fill the hollow places. Stir your hope today. This world is a better place so long as you are in it.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” -Proverbs 13:12

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Shame Resilience

“I believe that if we want meaningful, lasting change we need to get clear on the difference between guilt and shame and call for an end to shame as a tool for change.” -Brene Brown

I’m no Brene Brown, but I know a thing or two about shame. It is the anaconda of the jungle. It is the piranha in the waters. It’s the deep, dark pit of doubt in our worth. Shame is immobilizing. It is a car with no keys you guys. Shame will tell you that you are inherently flawed and unworthy of love and belonging.

We all have our weaknesses. We all have our own set of struggles. We just do. I remember struggling with shame as far back as I can remember. I know that shame was a catalyst for an eating disorder in my life. I grappled deeply with perfectionism. Every time I screwed up at something, be it small or large, my recovery time was shockingly long. Shame would visit me and stay well past its welcome. It would come on the scene and stir deep inside creating mental turmoil. I bought the lie that I was flawed, broken, bad. Not in a passive sort of way. In an aggressive sort of way. Shame became such a norm that I didn’t even recognize it when it showed up. It was truly the visitor that just never left and all the while you’ve got a million things to do. Shame suffocated my value as a human being. I used my eating disorder, of all things, for some sense of control. I would think: “I can’t control my worth because I’m so damn imperfect inside…. I’ll at least control my body and what others see on the outside.” It’s so twisted isn’t it? Shame is not a driver for change its a driver for destruction. Guilt on the other hand can be a productive tool. It’s the feeling we get when we miss the mark and then decide we can do something about it. Shame is the belief system that when we miss the mark we deserve the repercussions because we suck.

We HAVE to get shame resilience going deep inside our core. The company that shame keeps is just too dangerous. It’s literally got to go. We simply cannot let shame have even the slightest foothold in our hearts.

Resilience defined: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, the ability of a substance or an object to spring back into shape.

Radical Forgiveness is the antidote to shame and the open door to resilience. Radical forgiveness is the set of keys to the car friends. If you or someone you know struggles with perfectionism, self-doubt, feeling unworthy and a whole host of other things you can bet your life that shame has set up camp somewhere nearby. Please cover yourself in radical forgiveness today. Radical forgiveness means pour over yourself forgiveness to the point that it SATURATES who you are. Let it soak into every nook and cranny. Let it overwhelm you and fill you and serenade your worth. Let it call your unique human self out of the closet and into the sunlight. God rose the sun just for you today. You were not meant to cower in the darkness of doubt in your value. You are stunning in every way, the broken places and all. Get RESILIENT against this thing. It has over stayed its welcome in every way. Surf the waters of radical forgiveness.

I believe in us and the power to know our true worth.

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