The Freshman 15

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Twelve years ago I was a freshman in college and I was bulimic.

I would be bulimic with stints of anorexia for the next four years when the obsession slowly faded. There are lots of reasons and feelings that coalesced in to the creation of my bulimia, some of which I may discuss at a later date. There’s been lots of therapy and soul searching; I’ve come to terms with what I put myself through and accepted it as part of my story. Sometimes I can even spin some positive threads around all that I learned from those years of my life. But one of the most ludicrous reasons for losing 30 pounds in a couple months, one that’s never settled in to my understanding comfortably, and one that was at the fore-thought of my mind during the first months of my new obsession was the following: I didn’t want to go back to visit my High School Alma Mater during Christmas break and have my old friends whisper behind my back “She gained the Freshman 15.”

I went to an all-girls High School and cattiness existed, but not as much as you probably think. My friends were amazing, encouraging, supportive, positive young women. Visiting your friends still in High School on the Christmas break of your freshman year of college was something of a right of passage and I looked forward to it. But when I was a Senior in HS, I remember a few girls coming back to visit and, after they left, friends would comment about how much weight they gained. It was out of character for our group which is maybe why it stuck in my head so solidly. I would be damned if I was going to give them that reason to talk about me. I just couldn’t bear the idea of being viewed as having “let myself go” or any other negative connotations attached to gaining weight (and aren’t there so many?)

And so it began. I lost a shit ton of weight so I could allay my fears of being gossiped about. And very quickly, in my head, my weight came to define me and my worth.  Energetically, how I’d show up  to anything became intrinsically tied to the number on the scale. Lower than yesterday? You better believe I’ll be in the middle of the crowd, laughing and smiling and easily making new friends. Higher than yesterday? I’ll be in the corner, not smiling or making eye-contact, or, better yet, at home in bed.

Fast forward to now. My weight has fluctuated up and down for years and I weigh more than I ever have in my life. Typing that out feels oddly satisfying. Like coming clean on a dirty secret.

But why am I telling you all of this? Why is this coming up now? Well, because I’m meeting a friend from High School next week. One that I haven’t seen in 12 years. And do you know what my first thought was after we set up the meeting? “I can’t wait to see what we have to offer each other and how we click; I’m really looking forward to seeing her.” Nothing about my weight and tying it to my worth, nothing about fear of judgement, nothing about not being good enough because I haven’t dieted enough this month. When I realized how similar the situation and how astronomically different my response, I almost cried. The hope that we would excite each other intellectually and have interesting things to talk about outweighed (haha, get it?) the fear that I wouldn’t be liked because I’m no longer a size zero. My priorities have changed. They will continue to change and evolve but right now, I am so happy with where they are.

Change happens. Progress happens. Hard work pays off. Don’t forget to look back and see how far you’ve come; it may surprise you. 

Gremlins

Gremlin Poem

I am Fear.

I am the menace that lurks in the paths of life, never visible to the eye but sharply felt in the heart. I am the father of despair, the brother of procrastination, the enemy of progress, the tool of tyranny. Born of ignorance and nursed on misguided thought, I have darkened more hopes, stifled more ambitions, shattered more ideals and prevented more accomplishments than history could record.

Like the changing chameleon, I assume many disguises. I masquerade as caution. I am sometimes known as doubt or worry. But whatever I’m called, I am still fear, the obstacle of achievement.

I know no master but one; its name is Understanding. I have no power but what the human mind gives me, and I vanish completely when the light of Understanding reveals the facts as they really are, for I am really nothing.

~Lou Tice

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Why I Say “Thank You” When Someone Insults Me

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I was told yesterday that I’m too intense and that I talk too much. These are not new concepts or terms for me but they are ones that I haven’t heard in a while, ones that I haven’t thought of recently. I’ve surrounded myself with people that “get” me and by people that enjoy my company and that I feel good being around. When I was reminded that that’s not always the case it made my cheeks sting and my breath catch in my chest. So I thought about it for a bit and I went to bed with a bruised ego and a kind of heaviness in my stomach but the next morning, in light of the new day, I could say “Thank you” to that person for a few things.

1: Reminding me why I choose to hang out with the people I do. The ones that love me unconditionally, that get energized from being in my presence? They make me feel good and I make them feel good and that’s a win/win for everybody. That’s something I want to foster. Those are the people that I want to spend my time with, not with people that don’t appreciate my gifts or think I’m too much. Too Much. There it is. That’s the Gremlin, isn’t it?

2: Being reminded that I’m not perfect and that there are people that don’t like me gives me a chance to practice one of my core beliefs which is that “What other people think of me is none of my business” and their thoughts and feelings about me don’t get to and don’t need to affect me. The instant I heard those “too much” words, I forgot that. This is a practice that I will continuously come back to so I said “Thank you” to this person for reminding me that I still have much to practice.

3: Finally, and this is the biggest one I think. I said “Thank you” because it sheds light on my shadows. And it sheds light on the places where I still need to do work for myself. Not because anybody else doesn’t like me. Not because I’m too much or too big or too anything for anybody else. I need to work on this because it still bothers me. And if it didn’t bother me than it wouldn’t affect me. If there’s not a button to push, the button can’t be pushed. Worrying about what people think of me is an energy suck. It’s not where I want to put my energy and it’s not how I want to live my life. Allowing a practical stranger’s opinion of me affect my daily life means I’m not living my authentic life; I’m living my life through someone else’s eyes and that’s a half-life. That’s not what I want. That’s not what I deserve. That’s not what anybody deserves.

So I say “Thank you” for reminding me of my tribe, for reminding me that I get to work on not caring what other people think about me and reminding me that I have Gremlins that still need to be flushed out.

What can you say “Thank you” for, today?

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Take it off the shelf

Letting go of habits is hard. Even when you’re finished with them and you know they no longer serve you in a positive way, letting go is hard.

Those cigarettes breaks you’ve been taking with your coworkers every day for ten years? If you quit, where will you get your social interaction if not around the ash tray?

Those late night drinks that make you feel great at the time but make you feel shitty the next day? What will you do to fill your evenings if you’re not at the bar?

Those coffee dates with your girlfriends where you all bitch about your thighs or your job? What will you talk about instead?

See, here’s the thing. We’ve been holding on to these habits for so long that we think they are a part of us. We think smoking and drinking and talking bad about ourselves is just who we are. I mean, we’ve put thousands of hours in to these habits and, dammit, even if they’re bad for us, they’re part of our identity. Even if you never meant to talk critically to yourself. Even if you didn’t intend to spend every night after work on the couch watching Netflix in your pajamas. Now those actions are part of the story you tell yourself and others. You’ve woven these bad habits in to the tapestry of your character. You’ve connected this random assortment of actions to your very being. You’ve identified yourself as these things: I’m a smoker. I’m not a gym person. But you’re wrong.

You are none of these things.

Your identity isn’t tied up in a pretty little bow. It’s not a static thing that can be defined once and then placed on a shelf to be viewed, admired, and contemplated from a distance. Identity is messy and vibrant and constantly changing.

So let go. What part of the story you tell yourself no longer positively serves you? Take it down from the shelf, dust it off, look it over, maybe even say Thank You to it for helping you when you needed it.

Then throw it away.

Let it go.

Hello Hi Hey

I woke up in a grumpy mood this morning. I’ve been rubbing against a small irritation between my husband and I for a while; one of those little things that pops up every so often that I could easily choose to ignore but instead, I let it take up space. I choose to rub it against hard surfaces in my brain. Give it a scratch here and there. Make it come to the surface and make itself known. It’s no more than a little itch but I’ve made it into a damn rash in my brain.

I was ready to be grumpy all day; had resigned myself to feeling a little angry and a little distant. Scratching the itch this morning, I said hello to it. “Here we are again, aren’t we? Well, let’s get on with it then; slog through the familiar frustration and get on with my day.”


Sometimes inspiration comes in unexpected places, doesn’t it? Sometimes you can hear something one hundred times and then, suddenly, on that 101st listen, something clicks that changes your attitude and your outlook. This song came on as I was scratching.

Now, the whole song is great and always lightens my mood a little bit but these lyrics jumped out at me this time; they are so simple and so powerful. “I never hold a grudge cause Love is the way. Hello hi hey”.

Love is the way.

Love IS the way.

Love is the way.

Just say that to yourself a few times and see if it doesn’t melt some stiffness away. Doesn’t that feel good?

I said it to myself over and over. I felt the itch lose some of its sting. And then I sent a simple, loving, text to my husband just thanking him for being the amazing person and partner that he is. *love is the way* The sides of that irritation started smoothing out. Then he sent one back: a sweet, loving, message of gratitude and happiness. What was I itching, again?

And just like that, it was gone; pushed out of the way by love and connection and gratitude.

Where are you stiff today? Where are you itchy? Think about this quote and see if it can be a salve for those painful spots. Remember, love is the way, hello hi hey.

xo

Again

Let it go again

Wake up tomorrow again

Breath it out again

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Blank canvases give

big rewards, just bleed for them,

they don’t ask for much

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Contentment

You come quietly

Breath caught, deep sigh. I missed you.

Make your home with me

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Surprise

New awareness flits

Touches down to kiss my nose

Prickles up my spine

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Time

And then it’s over

Demons (Fear, Self-Doubt) are purged

Breathe easy now, Love

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