Healthy & Whole: Eating Disorders Awareness Week

*I actually started writing this post over a year ago, but never had the courage to publish it. However, since February 22-28 is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and because I have friends and family who have struggled/are struggling with an eating disorder, I wanted to highlight this topic.

I still remember the way her big brown eyes peered up at me and how her sweet voice lacked its usual lilt when she said, “I’m the only one with thick legs.”

What??

My mind wavered between shock to fear and back again. I could not believe those words had come out of my five year old’s mouth.

I attempted to keep my tone light as I asked, “What do you mean?”

“My legs are bigger than theirs (her friends). I’m the only one with thick legs.”

I swallowed hard, took a deep breath and finally found my voice. “They’re like mine. It’s okay. Everyone’s different.”

And with that answer, C returned to whatever she was doing and the moment was gone.

But the memories that moment dug up came flooding back. Memories of a confused and impressionable teenage girl who once placed a bet with a girlfriend on who had bigger thighs. Memories of a girl who stood in front of the bathroom mirror every night to check on the appearance of her collarbone and hip bones as she stood on a scale. The same girl who skimped on lunch during the day and looked forward to running a cross-country lap during P.E. class to burn more calories. The girl who acknowledged the pains of an empty stomach as success, rather than a sign of hunger. A girl who controlled her life bite by bite, pound by pound, and mile by mile.

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If you haven’t guessed it by now, that girl was me.

I never developed a full blown eating disorder, but due to my perfectionistic tendencies, I had some leanings toward anorexia. I remember my black hair turning brown and brittle, likely due to lack of nutrition. Old prom pictures show my collarbone jutting out from the off-the-shoulder neckline of my dresses. Even though my friends and relatives said I needed to eat more, I honestly believed I still needed to lose weight. That was how crazy my thinking was at the time.

I was my own worst enemy, forcing myself to meet impossible standards and never giving myself a pass. All I wanted was to be more – more accepted, more perfect, more beautiful – but in the process of getting there, I had become less – less satisfied, less grounded, less alive.

Things got better in college though; I was then on my own and surrounded by good friends. This was probably the best time of my life where I felt free and in control at the same time, as strange as that may sound. Because the root of an eating disorder is not really about the food, but about the comfort and security it brings in being able to control that part of your life. It is like any other addiction where what you really need is peace from all the other stuff in your life that you don’t want to or don’t know how to deal with.

Getting to that place of peace takes time, guts and love. Time to process through all the baggage weighing down your heart and clouding your perspective. Guts to face the hard things and feel the raw emotions. Love to convince you that you are enough.

What I’ve learned is that once you choose to stop being your own worst judge and choose instead to be your own best friend, that’s when you can start living.

These days, I focus more on health and wholeness and accepting my body for the awesome things that it can do. Even though I miss my pre-mama self, I know my muffin top is my badge of honor for having made two amazing people. When I do struggle with comparing and being content, I remember one of my favorite verses from 1 Samuel 16:7: “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Above all, I make it a priority to never say anything negative about my face or body in front of my kids. I want them to know it’s perfectly normal and beautiful to have a squishy tummy, wrinkled skin, gray hair and, yes, thick legs. 🙂

Here is a compelling song by Colbie Caillat called “Try”. The lyrics ask an important question: “Take your make up off, Let your hair down, Take a breath, Look into the mirror, at yourself, Don’t you like you?”

What struggles have you (or the women in your life) had over feeling beautiful and liking yourself?

Cool Dollar Store Finds

Happy Saturday, everyone! Since it’s been a busy week (with kiddie activities and me burning the midnight oil writing) and my brain is busy rebooting, this post will be short and sweet.

Who’s in the mood for organizing? If you raised your hand, you’ve come to the right place! If not, perhaps this post will inspire you. 😉

I came across this article with 27 useful dollar store finds that are ingenious and cheap (emphasis on cheap). Click HERE for the link. I had made my own version of #3 (see pic below) even before reading this article because obviously cheap minds think alike! These are great for parents, teachers and, basically, anyone who likes to shop at the dollar store.

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Yes, that chicken pen belongs to C. 🙂

Feel free to share your ideas for your dollar store finds!

 

Modern Day Princes & Princesses

The munchkins and I visit the library every week to stock up on (free!) books. During a recent trip there, a book’s title jumped out at me from the shelf and I picked up the graphic novel (that’s fancy for comic book) to take a closer look. The title read “Princeless” with a motto of “Save Yourself” underneath it. I wondered what this series was about so I Googled it at home later that day. I found out it’s about a girl who is trapped in a castle and gets tired of waiting for a prince to rescue her (after many failed attempts apparently) and decides to save herself, along with her 5 or 6 sisters who are also trapped (I take it that none of the girls thought about growing out their hair, haha).

Image courtesy of wikipedia

Image courtesy of wikipedia

I’m not sure why, but the idea behind this comic bothered and intrigued me at the same time. Hubby and I had a brief talk about it and he surmised the author of the series was likely a female who had been jaded by relationships and being let down by guys who didn’t fulfill their manly role. Quite possible. So I did a little more Googling about the author and was surprised to find out it’s not a woman, but a man! Hmm! (This got the psychology-lovin’ gears in my brain to start turning.)

While I’m all for the idea that females can be strong and independent creatures without guys (personally, I believe we can survive without men, but not the other way around!), I think there’s also a desire in us to be pampered and adored and yes, to be treated like a princess. And I believe there’s a desire in the male species to be the ones to do the pampering and adoring and yes, to be the prince who saves the day.

If I could, I would tweak this “Princeless” story into one that goes something like this …

Girl who lives in a castle has set up an obstacle course in order to find a guy who has enough guts and passion to overcome those mental and physical challenges in order to “rescue” her. She waits patiently, knowing that not every guy will pass the test, but THE guy who does is worth her heart, mind and body. And meanwhile as she’s waiting for her prince to come along, she is pursuing her dreams and goals in life and having a grand time doing so. She may be princeless, but she does not require a prince to have fun. The reason she desires one is so she can have a companion who will join her on her lifetime adventure, one whom she can talk to, learn with and help out (cause we all know that’s why God created women). 🙂

So the moral of the story is this: For all the princesses out there, whether you are princeless or not on this overly-commercialized day of love, please know you are so very valuable and worth pampering and adoring this day and every day. And for all the princes out there, thank you for opening doors and slaying dragons and treating the women and girls in your life with care and respect. You give us hope that chivalry still exists.

On that note, here’s a modern song about an old-fangled tale, Taylor Swift’s “Love Song.”

How have you seen chivalry at work in your life?

6 Reasons Why Parents are Like Superheroes

Superheroes are awesome, don’t you think? They can do things that normal, regular, everyday people can’t do. That’s why they also only exist on the big screen … or do they?

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I was thinking about all the normal, regular, everyday things that parents do and started considering how we are pretty awesome, too. As awesome as Spiderman, Wonder Woman or the Flash?

Definitely. Maybe even more.

Here are 6 reasons I came up with for why parents are like superheroes:

1. We have superpowers. We just know when our kids are up to no good … even especially when they’re down the hall in a room with the door closed. We have the superhuman power to do multiple things at once, such as talk on the phone and wipe someone’s nose or behind without flinching. We have the ability to move faster than the speed of light the nanosecond our kid is about to stick something in her mouth or up his nose, and stop it from happening just in time.

2. We face perilous situations. On the rare occasions when we can’t stop our kid before he sticks something where the sun don’t shine, we go after said object to extract it. We engage in tense negotiations when our cell phone/laptop/cat/dog is put in a precarious position at the hands of a pint-sized captor. We encounter danger from every side (front and back sides, if you get my drift) and when we least expect it.

*A word of caution: Skip reason #3 if you have a weak stomach.

3. We are brave. We tackle danger head-on, often times without any proper protection (ie. mask, gloves, shield or powered exoskeleton). We get peed on … often. We catch vomit with our hands. We scoop up poo from the bathwater. And we do all these things and still live to brag about it (here’s one of my survival stories)!

4. We look cool. If superheroes can face the world wearing tights and underwear on the outside of their clothing, we can wear our yoga pants/sweats/pajamas with pride. Throw in some unrecognizable stains and spots on our white T-shirts and we’ve got a one-of-a-kind outfit that could rival any abstract painting.

By F Anderssen (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By F Anderssen (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

5. We have enemies. We know the bugs we’re up against and we’re not scared. That’s because we’re armed with boatloads of hand sanitizer. But even when our kids (or we) get temporarily beaten down, we have boxes of tissue, warm chicken noodle soup and Netflix videos on hand to speed up the recovery.

 

6. We save the day. Our kisses can make boo-boos feel better. Our hugs can scare monsters away. Our words of affirmation can help turn tears into a smile. Our love can even empower and protect our kids when we are apart from them. In other words, we make the world a better and safer place.

Whew! And all this is in a day’s work. Now if only we could get added to Marvel Comics’ payroll, too. 😉

Here’s a song by The Script called “Superheroes”. As you can see from the lyrics and video, superheroes are everywhere. 🙂

How can you (as a parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle, teacher, counselor or friend) be a superhero to the kids in your life?