I truly believe that the life of recovery from an eating disorder is not any different than the life of someone striving to be authentic. As women, each and every one of us struggles to love the body we have been given. We are all affected by the messages we receive from the media on how we should look and dress and talk and feel. In today’s world, it is hard to find your place and feel at ease.
One of my favorite quotes is from Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection. She speaks so beautifully about living an authentic life and embracing ourselves in the here and now.
"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy - the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."
We all have a story to tell and every single story is worth hearing. The greatest lesson I have learned this year is that speaking your truth will set you free. It will set you free because you will no longer have to hide behind the mask you have worn for so many years. It will set you free because you will inspire others to speak their truth. It will set you free because it is so much easier to be yourself than to try to pretend to be someone you are not.
It will set you free, but it will not be an easy journey. There will be some who still believe the messages they receive from today’s society and they, quite frankly, won’t be nice because they just won’t understand. There will also be the voice of the “old you” who will doubt every new and different path you try to take. At times, it will be exhausting to fight back. And it will take a lot of work and effort to learn how to take care of yourself in the right ways, not through crash diets and extreme exercise, but through self-care and nourishment and honoring your body.
Along the way, you will need support and a sense of community. You need to find like-minded people who will have your back. I have found many of these people through yoga. Recently, I have found a whole new group of beautiful souls through an online course I am taking by More to Love with Rachel. For the month of February, we have participated in daily exercises to learn to love, honor and listen to our bodies. There have been discussions on worth, boundaries, and mindfulness. It is one thing to read about these ideas as I have been doing recently, but quite another to put them into action with a community that I instantly felt a connection with. It has been empowering to take the time to do something like this for myself and focus each day on working on another piece of who I want to be.
At the end of the day, you have to discover what works best for you. Sometimes that is the hardest part. It is always easier to pick up the latest diet book or join the hottest gym at the moment and follow their plan. But easy isn’t always right.
I encourage you today to take five minutes for yourself. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself, what do I need right now? It might be a snack or fresh air or a nap. Whatever it is, honor your body and give it what it needs in this moment. And right there, you have taken the first step on a beautiful journey of self-discovery. I hope you love the person you’re becoming!
The problem with being a perfectionist is the “all or nothing” mentality that comes with it. The phrase “go big or go home” comes to mind. (If you are a fan of that motto, this blog post is not for you!) Although this black and white way of thinking is characteristic of perfectionism, it can be overcome and I am living proof of that.
I was faced with a big decision this week and my auto-pilot mode kicked into perfectionism overdrive. I should do this now and I should do it perfectly! Oh, that initial panic mode drives me mad! The fact that it starts by talking in “shoulds” is especially aggravating.
I was presented with an amazing opportunity. My interest was piqued and my curiosity ran wild dreaming of the possibilities. I could feel my foot pressing heavily on the accelerator, rushing into a decision I hadn’t even processed yet, the view melting into a blur.
Then something amazing happened. I shut down auto-pilot, grabbed the wheel, and took my foot off the gas. I took my time to make the right decision for myself. These are the steps I followed:
At the end of the day, what I really want most is to live my life without the eating disorder in it. Recovery is a process and I am getting there one step at a time. Today I took some time to simply enjoy how far I have come. I am blessed to have a family who loves and supports me and friends who do the same. I have a lot I would love to pursue and many lessons left to be learned, but, for right now, I just want to live my life and enjoy every minute of it. I plan to drink it all in and savor every sip!
"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." - Roald Dahl
This week I was reminded of what it’s like to really feel magic...to believe completely that dreams can come true...that surprises await you around every corner. I took a family vacation to Disney World and remembered the feeling of being a child with a sense of awe...of wonder. My breath was taken away. My heart skipped a beat. I giggled, really giggled. I had pixie dust sprinkled in my hair as the words of Peter Pan were repeated...”all you need is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust!”
I joked at yoga this morning, warning my friends that I had been sprinkled with pixie dust and might just levitate today. We laughed and class began. It had been over a week since my last class and this one was particularly hard. I was trying so hard to focus on getting out of my mind and into my body, but it was taking more energy than I had to give. And then the music changed.
Music has always affected me on a deep level. It can bring a memory rushing back or change my mood in an instant. To me, music is magic. How else can you describe something that can transform you so completely? That can take you traveling through time? That can send your dreams soaring? This morning, Katy Perry’s Dark Horse suddenly gave me something to focus on and just the burst of energy I needed. I stopped thinking. I was listening to the rhythm and the lyrics and singing along when, all of a sudden, I did it...CROW! I had been trying to do this elusive pose for months and there it was...a surprise awaiting me around the corner. I called out to my teacher and fell out of the pose just as she turned to me. I burst into tears. They were tears of pride and joy and accomplishment. They were proof that even when my mind is telling me one thing, my body can tell me another. My body can speak the truth of my soul...that I am strong and powerful and determined and unstoppable. That I am magic.
I started to wonder why I had been so drawn to this pose and so determined to do it, so I did a little research and was very intrigued by what I found. Sandy Krzyzanowski of Better Day Yoga says this about the possible spiritual aspects of crow pose: “Just as with breathwork where you extend the exhalation and dwell in the space between the breaths, use crow pose to dwell in the space where balance is found. This pulls your concentration inward where there is no past or future, only the present.” She continues to explain that the “crow reminds us to sing our own song with no thought toward needing the approval of others. It is not by our doing that we are deemed ‘acceptable’. We are already acceptable by our very nature. We are all songbirds—each and every one—regardless. Accept that you are magical. Accept that you are here to create.”
I don’t have to wonder anymore. Apparently, crow pose and I were meant to be! The thought of this pose representing the magical songbird in each of us spoke to my heart and made me feel like flying.
Incidentally, the intention I pulled from the jar this morning said, “Let your light shine.” I almost rolled my eyes at this, thinking how it didn’t relate to me at all. Ok, Universe, I get the message loud and clear! My heart sang today because a bit of it was able to shine through. My light is shining bright and if that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.
‘Cause I, I’m capable of anything, of anything and everything. - Katy Perry