On Cultivating A Loving and Healthy Attitude Toward Your Body

honeyloves
Here’s  excerpt from article I wrote, published on Honey Loves , about how I cultivated a healthy attitude toward my body after years of struggling with an altered view of myself.  Find the entire article, including the 5 ways to re-wire your thinking, at HoneyLoves.org Feedback and comments are welcome!

 

My body and I have had a tumultuous relationship on our journey together (I’ll share my own personal “body story” one day soon).

For about 15 years of my life, I struggled with disordered eating and an altered view of what I looked like. It was a terribly lonely struggle and, still to this day, I’ve never spoken about it to ANYONE – so you, Honey Loves, are the first people I will ever speak to about the years of darkness and loneliness that tortured and clawed at my sense of self; the demons that chewed away at the very core of who I was.

It’s been an incredibly long and lonely road to get to where I am now in regards to the love I have for my body. I say “lonely,” because, well…it was! I never spoke about my pain and self-torture to anyone – even now, as I write this, I’m finding it difficult. I held everything inside and sometimes I think it’s a miracle that I even survived it. I can’t believe I’ve gone from the person I was to the person I am today; and I did it all alone. But, you don’t need to do it alone! (And in fact, I DO NOT recommend doing it alone – I just didn’t know the resources available to me.)

Today, I am grateful for my struggle because it has allowed me to reflect and learn to love and appreciate my body. It’s given me the opportunity to do what I wish someone did for me and REACH OUT to help those around me struggling with the same thing. I will say again: You don’t need to go through this alone, beautiful girls. The hate I had for myself permeated every single area of my life – and when I say I was at rock bottom, believe me. So, also, when I say there is hope for you, Honey Loves, you have to believe me. You have to have faith. I am proof that you CAN heal. You can be a person who loves and respects your mind, body, and soul. You don’t always have to live with this heavy weight of self-hatred on your spirit.

While I wish I had, I never sought professional counseling for what I was going through. Though I don’t recommend this (and I can help you find resources to get help), it did force me to come up with little tricks to re-wire my brain that over time, really and truly worked. I figured that if my brain could trick my eyes into seeing fat that wasn’t there when I looked in the mirror, I could certainly make that work to my advantage – and slowly but surely, a new and beautiful girl started to show up whenever I looked in the mirror.

I want to share my tricks for body love with you, and I hope you’ll try them and they’ll start to work for you, too. Be patient with your journey. This isn’t a change that happens overnight. It takes consistent re-working and re-directing of negative thoughts.

 

 

 

Head on over to HoneyLoves.org to read the rest of my article!

– A

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When I’m Driving In a Beautiful Place and See Someone Doing “The Ugly Face”

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Yesterday morning, as I drove along the winding Pacific Coast Highway singing my lungs out and smiling like a fool on my way to spend a relaxing solo day / night in Malibu, I pulled up next to a brand new silver Mercedes SUV at a stop light.

“Beautiful car,” I thought, as I shook my shoulders and wagged my head back and forth, dancing in my seat.

I inched forward to see if maybe it was anyone I’d recognize ( * True story: On this very same section of road, I once glanced to my left at the same stop light, and there in the SUV next to me was Julia Roberts. Seriously. Now you understand why I was behaving slightly creepy. * )

So, I glanced at the driver. She was a beautiful lady, I’d say in her mid-30’s, with brown shoulder-length hair styled to perfection. Beautiful earrings sparkled in her ears. Diamonds crusted her delicate wrist. But, something didn’t fit.

This beautiful woman…

she was sobbing.

And I don’t mean crying daintily and dabbing at her doe eyes with a tissue – I mean she was what I call “ugly face crying.” Face contorted, jaw quivering, mouth turned down at the sides, hand to her lips; her chest rising up and down quickly with her uneven breathing. The kind of crying you do when you’ve reached an emotional point of “I can’t contain what I’m feeling anymore,” and unleash because your heart aches too much to hold it in. The kind of crying where your soul is screaming louder than your voice. The kind of crying we usually only feel like we can do when we’re alone.

Only, she wasn’t alone. I could see her.

I quickly turned my radio down, the loud and happy noise now seeming cruel – and looked at her again. “Gosh,” I thought to myself, “this poor lady! What could possibly be making her so sad?!” I mean, maybe it was because I wasn’t in a sad place, but this woman – her sadness was profoundly affecting me! I mean, I REALLY felt for her. I could feel her desperation. I suddenly had the urge to smile at her, to offer her any kind of comfort I could. I wanted to reach out to her in case no one else did. When people cry alone in cars, it’s usually because they have to be brave and keep it together for the rest of their world. It’s a lonely cry.

The light turned green. I sped off, and she turned onto another road – only I couldn’t leave her behind.

Seeing the woman in such dire pain really got me thinking.

I’ve done the same thing many times: Cried and sobbed my eyes out in the safety and isolation of my car. (What is it about cars? Have you done this, too?) I’ve wiped my eyes, controlled my breathing, gotten myself together again, and continued on with my day – no one the wiser to my emotional breakdown. I’ve put on my braveface and made the world think I was fine. But, God, what I wouldn’t have given for someone to reach out. For someone, in my moment of complete isolation, to offer a kind word. A smile. To see that, despite how I held it together in public, I wasn’t okay. To acknowledge the suffering I was feeling. To be kind.

I wondered where this woman was going, did she have someone to talk to, why was she crying? I wondered how she’d behave when she reached her destination. Would she feign happiness and try to convince herself that she wasn’t just “ugly-face crying?” I wondered what her life looks like.

Though I’ll never get a chance to offer this woman comfort, I wanted to tell you about her. This woman was a great reminder. She reminded me that, even if people seem okay, we are ALL fighting battles that the rest of the world may know nothing about. So many of us put on a brave front, when inside, we’re crumbling. This is why it is SO important to BE NICE to each other. There have been days when I’ve been so broken and sad and lonely that the simple kindness of the cashier at the grocery store has brought me to tears.

Just because someone isn’t calling for attention and telling the world they’re sad, does not mean they aren’t suffering.

So today, I just want to extend this to you:

Sometimes we all get a little caught up in our own weird little worlds, but take notice and be gentle and be kind with the people around you, because we are all in the midst of fighting battles invisible to those around us.

– A

Gratitude and Joy

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Last month I had what ended up being a pretty life changing experience. It has drastically impacted the my day to day journey from start to finish. Part of that experience is what I’m about to share with you.

Life has been difficult for me in the past months. While my suffering is no greater or worse than anyone else’s – it is only my experience – I was really struggling every single day. I was begging for answers, and coming up empty; until two wonderful people took the time to sit me down and give me truths I needed to hear and the healing I needed to feel. While the experience that I had is a bit too long to tell in a simple blog post (it would probably end up being more like a book), I want to pass on the simplest and easiest part of it. Anyone can do it, anytime.

Part of what these two wonderful people told me was this: “When you wake up in the morning, even if you don’t feel it, say out loud: Today I will find gratitude and joy. Say it with purpose, and again, even if you don’t feel like you’ll find either one, say you will. Even if you’re crying, say it.”

Even though I didn’t really give much creedance to that part of the advice (how could I be expected to even remember to say the very words gratitude and joy amidst one of the hardest periods of life I’ve ever faced?!? I was NOT finding gratitude or joy even when I called out to it), I trusted them, and every day from that point forward, even when I could hardly move myself to get out of bed, I said the words: Today I will find gratitude and joy. Some days (ok, quite a few days) with tears stinging my eyes, because even thinking of gratitude and joy made me hurt…they were so far from my grasp.

But….

Slowly (and in the grand scheme of things, very, very, very, quickly), I began to feel different. When I spoke that phrase aloud, I truly started to feel gratitude and joy. On certain days, I’d only remember to say it in a quiet moment of small happiness – a hot coffee, a smiling stranger, a beautiful sunset – but now, every day, I’m remembering to say it because I’m finding it every day. Now don’t confuse that with everything being perfect…it’s not. My life is a work in progress, but the clouds have parted and I have to say, I am finding joy every day. Joy…a word I never get much thought to, now fills me.

There is no magic happiness pill that will poof you into a state of bliss. And even what I’ve told you is just one small and simple part of what it takes to fill all the gaps in our lives until it pours over the brim with happiness. I am not the first to suffer, and I won’t be the last. So, I’m hoping that in passing along this little nugget, I can help someone the way I was helped – without expectation and out of love.

Today, I will find Gratitude and Joy.

– A

If People Had Warning Labels

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I’ve often thought life would be a lot easier if people came with warning labels. It would save us the trouble of discovering things we should have known from the beginning; things we all hold back for fear that we may not be lovable if we showed who we really are. The bad and the good. How many times in life have you taken someone to be the person they presented themself as, only to discover down the road, they’re not the person you thought they were. Why not just show who we are from the beginning? What are we all so afraid of?
Now that I’m truly entering a new decade of age this month (30 was last year, but THIRTY-ONE?! I’m really “in it” now), I feel less inclined to hide parts of myself. I’ve grown to accept the things about myself that make me imperfect, and I’d really like to think that anyone I invite into my life from this point forward will know the real me. I’d like to think that by putting my own warning label out there, maybe others will do the same. To save anyone trouble in the future, here’s what mine would say:

WARNING:
Known to bust balls (I’m from Massachusetts. Get a backbone or get away).
Quotes movies incessantly. Incessantly.
Tends to isolate and retreat inward when faced with difficult situations.
Nostalgia has been known to incapacitate and depress for periods of time.
Doesn’t know how to ask for help.
Laughs too loud.
Never listens to voicemails.
Doesn’t work well when combined with individuals with subversive or passive aggressive tendencies.
Has frequent urges to spend long periods of time alone.
Wakes with the sun.
Has an aversion to talking on the phone.
Disorganized.
Cannot make the simplest of decisions.
Intolerant of judgmental people.
Has smelly feet.
Falls asleep at 9 p.m.
Likes to be in control.
Has a habit of starting projects and not finishing them.
Sees the good in everyone.
Won’t play “the game.”
Doesn’t back down.
Holds those around to high standards.

This is me.

And I’m quite sure I’m leaving something out, even. I’m not saying all of this to indulge in narcissism, but in the hopes of making others less afraid of showing who they really are. I want people around me to know who I am from the get-go, so I know they have me in their life for the right reasons. Because for all of the things that may be bad, there is more good. I know this.

If getting older means becoming increasingly unapologetic about who I am…bring it on.

What would your warning label say?

-A

Radiate Warmth

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Several years ago, I read something that changed the way I think about people I encounter, and as I spoke to one of my beautiful friends/co-workers yesterday, it came up again. It’s just six little words, full of simple wisdom, that really helped me to grow. I’m not sure excactly who said it first, as even a Google search of the vast internet doesn’t yield the author, but nonetheless, I want to pass them on. So, for now, it will go uncredited.

Ready?

“Surround yourself with radiators, not drains.”

Such simple words, but so impactful. For some reason, when I read or think of these words, a feeling comes over me. When I was young, during the frigid New England winters (and autumns…and okay, springs too), I’d wake up in the morning, stand up and twirl my blanket until it was wrapped around my body like a mummy, drag myself downstairs into the living room, and lay directly on the heating vent. The warmth would permeate the blanket and surround me in a cocoon of goodness. If you have never done this, I suggest you take advantage of the chilly nights/mornings and do it as soon as possible. It’s the most comforting feeling.

Now, haven’t you met people who make you feel the same way? People that leave you feeling cocooned with warmth and goodness after you’ve been around them. It’s almost like holding your hands up before a fireplace. They, quite literally, radiate. In fact, I’m sure you’re thinking of someone like this at this very moment.

Next, picture warm water in a tub. When someone flips the switch, all the warm water is sucked right down that drain. Aren’t there people that do this, as well? People who just seem to drain the energy and goodness right out of you? Chances are, at this moment, you’re thinking of another individual and thinking, “Well…yes, I know exactly what you mean.”

If we view people as either radiators or drains, we begin to analyze and understand their place in our lives. The more radiators you surround yourself with, the better you’ll feel. If, right now, you’re thinking: “I think I’ve got way too many drains and too few radiators,” you’re probably feeling tired and slightly empty. You needn’t feel this way.

I have been fortunate enough to have so many radiators around me. The most amazingly warm and wonderfully encouraging and loving people. Not to say there haven’t been drains…there have. There will always be. But, reading those six words above really helped me in my path to surround myself with radiators.

I hope they help you, too.

-A