Life Matters

I am sitting here at my computer, working on some promotional materials for an event that is near and dear to my heart. My running partner was tragically taken from this world on November 3, 2014 – suddenly, violently, unexpectedly.

Lately I have been feeling stronger…I think about her everyday (especially when I’m running, alone) but I no longer cry my eyes out at every turn. Hence, stronger.

But here I sit, working on the letter we send to our potential sponsors, and I realize again: she is GONE. Irrevocably, unequivocally, undeniably GONE. It absolutely feels like a punch to my gut, all over again. I want to throw up, I want to scream, and I want to break things. I want to pull the blanket over my head and never get out of bed. It takes my breath away and makes me sob. I realize that I am not strong…all of these things are grief, my now ‘old’ friend. It never leaves me.

Why am I sharing this, especially on our page that is dedicated to Eating Disorders? This blog is dedicated to all of you out there, battling ED. There are many of you who have thought about, even attempted, to end your own lives…and just as many who actually have. DON’T DO IT.

There are people in this world that you, YOU, my readers, affect EVERY DAY. People who love you. People who don’t want to live without you. Even though you are suffering, feeling helpless, feeling hopeless – NEVER doubt that there is someone out there who would be absolutely DEVASTATED by losing you. It could be a parent, a sibling, a teacher, a friend, or that person who sat next to you in group when you were in treatment last month – it could be anyone. I am quite sure my friend would have been shocked and amazed by all the lives she touched. This is my point: you do not realize the positive effect that you have on those around you, cannot even imagine what losing you will do to the people who love you, who care about you, who know you.  And I am here to tell you that if you take it one day, one MOMENT, at a time – you can and WILL get through it.

It is a strength to ask for help. It is a strength to realize our weaknesses, and an even larger strength to embrace our weaknesses. Larger still, to have the courage to attempt to overcome. ASK FOR HELP. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, counselor…call the Crisis Intervention hotline. Remember that you are loved and cherished, even in your darkest moments. There are people in your life who need you.

Your life has meaning. You impact those around you in such positive and profound ways, without ever realizing it. You can draw from your experience, and further use it to help others who are struggling in similar fashion. Life is a fragile, fleeting, and painful gift – but a gift nonetheless. Embrace it, ALL of it.

Jacind_tutu

On Life, Loss, and size 8

Warning: this particular piece is raw and written from the heart, because that is where I am at this station in life.

We all go through things in life.  Good, bad, surprising, horrible, fortunate, unfortunate.  For a long time in life, I was fortunate.  I am so, so, SO lucky and blessed to be an integral part of a large extended and close-knit family.  I was as close with my parents as an adult child could ever be.  I have friends, plural, who could more accurately be described as family members.

Life has a funny way of balancing itself.  With the fortunate, comes the unfortunate…the good with the bad.  After many years of fortune, my father was diagnosed with a rare and fatal cancer in November 2012.  One day he was healthy and robust, and quite literally 3 days later he was fighting for his life.  He spent nearly 2 years fighting before the disease claimed his physical form.  September 2014…devastation.  That is the only way I can describe it: complete and utter devastation.  Again, I am fortunate that I have many close family members and friends to draw strength from.  Yet less than two months later I lost another person, whom I loved and considered to be a sister, to an utterly senseless and surprising act of domestic violence.

Loss has a way of forcing life to assert itself.  You feel as though you are trapped in a black hole, yet you have to cook dinner for your children.  You feel as though you cannot possibly get out of bed, yet the dog needs to go out or someone is knocking on your door.  You feel as though you cannot cry one more tear, yet there you are-crying 1,000,000 more.  You lose all motivation to do anything except that which is necessary to your survival, yet there it is: YOUR SURVIVAL.  You are going on.  Whether you want to or not.  Whether you are facing loss of life, mental illness, eating disorders, disease, ANYTHING…it brings into focus the life you are living. Consider the old cliché: Live life to the fullest.  It is a cliché for a reason!  Live each day with no regret, to your fullest extent.  If your loved one left tomorrow, would they know how you felt…or would you have regrets?  I have no regrets.  Although it hurts due to profound loss, I choose life.  I choose to live to my best ability each day (and trust me, “my best ability” absolutely depends on the day!!!)…this is the beauty of choice and free will.  Make your choices with love in your heart.  Engage thoughtfully in your actions with love in your heart.  Above all, love yourself!

Which brings us to size 8.

Who in their right mind is unhappy about being a size 8?  Well, the fact remains that the original title of this blog was “Life, Loss, and size 6.”  An honest moment with myself changed the title.  Months of grief-stricken sadness and zero motivation have taken their toll on my physicality; but I am – SHOCKINGLY – ok with this.  It’s about being comfortable with who I am and where I am in life…and the size of my jeans does not define this.  It is about my overall health…physical yes, but especially mental.  I am healing.  Slowly, slowly, slowly.  EXCRUCIATINGLY SLOWLY.  HEALING CANNOT BE RUSHED.  No matter the circumstances!  Each day is a fight, from start to finish…but each day is also a gift.  You will learn, as I have learned, that you are a fighter.  Consider today, not tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, or next month.  We need to make it through TODAY, in the most honorable fashion we can achieve.  This brings us to another cliché: one day at a time.  Most of the time, ONE STEP only.  One foot in front of the other until you reach your destination.  We can do this; we will do it together.  The circumstances that brought you here, in this moment, are irrelevant.  You are here.  You are considering.   Are you with me?

Tami

In Recovery

Image result for recoveryParents of those affected by ED tend to take an ultimately defensive stance that seems to pass through stages: unaware, suspicious, denial, frightened, acceptance, caregiver and then finally advocate. There is no scientific data reflected here, just observation and experience.

As one passes through the phases, the gravity of the condition affecting our children becomes more and more clear. This is not a phase or a temporary situation. This is a life long struggle that our children will need to battle for their entire lives.

The role of caregiver is the first point at which you will take an active role and is a slippery slope. You will want to manage every aspect of his or her life protecting them from anything that could negatively affect self-esteem. This may be exactly what your child needs as they begin understanding their condition, keep in mind that you also need to begin preparing your child to grow into a self-sufficient and strong adult.

As your child begins to take an active role in their treatment, the parent begins migrating to the role of advocate. This is where you will begin to back away allowing your child to learn self-management You will begin to provide more of a supportive role by encouraging them during periods of struggle and setbacks rather than preventing these events. It is a difficult step to take but essential to your child’s self-sufficiency.

I recently read a comment where a victim of ED stated that although she was in her sixties and had not had a significant issue in many years, she was not recovered, she was in recovery. Much like other more mainstream conditions, ED recovery is a continuous process, not a finite program.

There is a growing recognition of the depth and wide spread impact of ED. As a result, there is a growing body of knowledge about causation and treatment. One recurring theme is that the victim of ED must accept responsibility for their own recovery. Others will help, guide and support but they must own their role in the process.

Word of the Week: self-esteem

Being a parent or care-giver is an experience like no other. Not only are we charged with the care and keeping of these completely dependent children, but we are responsible for their emotional, social, and intellectual development as well. Tonight at bedtime, my 8 year-old daughter asked me (seriously) if she could shave her legs. And her arms. She views herself as too hairy and claims the other children are “staring” at her. My response: “I’ll think about it.” She’s EIGHT. After I plucked the five new grey hairs she just gave me, I thought about it. More specifically, how might this issue affect her self-esteem?
Self-esteem can be broadly defined as the way we each feel about ourselves…either positive or negative in nature. It begins to develop in infancy, and continues through adulthood. Depending on what is happening in our lives, self-esteem may be low, high, or simply moderate. One thing is for certain: the foundation of self-esteem (positive or negative) is laid sometime during childhood. Self-esteem is perpetual and yet ever-changing. WebMD describes it on a continuum: a sense of BELONGING (fostered by caregivers) leads to LEARNING (though exploring a safe environment) which then becomes CONTRIBUTING (to said environment). CONTRIBUTING adds to the sense of BELONGING, and thus the cycle continues. Let’s take a moment to look at how we can foster positive self-esteem in our girls.
According to http://www.healthychildren.org, we can help our daughters achieve positive self-esteem by:
🔹Promoting pride in herself and her accomplishments
🔸Ensuring she feels accepted and loved
🔹She feels secure about herself and her future
🔸Help her formulate goals and a realistic plan to achieve these goals
🔹Foster trust in herself and others (through LEARNING and CONTRIBUTING)
🔸Help her to accept mistakes (we all make them!!!), and move on
🔹Focus on your immediate and extended family’s strengths through community involvement
🔸Trust her enough to give her responsibilities
In my experience, we need to provide boundaries for our children from Day 1. Not just physical boundaries (such as baby-gates to protect her from falling down the stairs), but behavioral boundaries as well. Boundaries teach our children self-discipline, a crucial component of positive self-esteem. Our daughters also learn a lot just by observing what we, as care-givers, do: how we act and react. With this in mind, I found 3 helpful hints from http://www.kidshealth.org/:
🔹”Be careful what you say,”
🔸”Be a positive role model,”
🔹”Identify and redirect inaccurate beliefs.”
I’m fairly certain I’ll be employing #3 above in addressing my 8 year-old’s shaving issue. Are second graders really THAT focused on hair? I think I will first determine if her belief is indeed inaccurate, and proceed from there. I realize this could backfire…what if second graders really are ALREADY hyper-focused on appearance? It saddens me to think that these little girls are already being bombarded with unrealistic images and expectations. After all, everybody has hair on their arms! Until next time…

Pretty

Flower“Mommy, am I pretty?”

“No honey, you’re beautiful”

My daughter was confused and was only wanting to know if she was pretty; if she was like the little girl on TV who mommy had called her pretty.  Of course she was pretty but beyond that, I saw beauty.

I told her that when you walk through a field, you see a lot of pretty flowers.  When you lean close and look at the folds of the petals, the detail of the center, smell the faint scent from the heart; you see beauty.

When you look at the sunset and see lots of colors, it’s pretty.  When you pause and look at the changing shades of red, orange pink as the suns slowly sets; you see beauty.

When I look into your eyes and see your amazing soul shining through; I see beauty.

October: A Time to Find Kind

Did you know that October is National Bullying Prevention Month? Take a moment to think about how you can make a difference.

As a company that helps to build self-esteem in girls through encouraging a positive self-image, Perfect As U Are has decided to highlight Kind Campaign, “an internationally recognized movement, documentary and school program based upon the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl ‘crime.’”

Whether it be name-calling, spreading rumors, or even physical fighting, girls can be down-right mean to each other.  Kind Campaign defines this as girl-against-girl “crime,” which is something that all girls have experienced at some point in their life whether they were the aggressor or the victim.

When it comes down to it, girl-against-girl “crime” is a big problem and one that can be stopped through something as simple as kindness. Make an effort to stop the hate. Take small steps. See the good in everyone. Speak gentle words. Encourage yourself to embrace your own beauty and the beauty of others. Inspire those around you to do the same. It all starts with awareness.

Visit the site and watch the documentary at www.kindcampaign.com to find kind in your own life.

How Much Does it Cost?

Add up all of the times that self-doubt made you hesitate; made you pause instead of doing what we wanted to do.  Include the times that you avoided a situation because you felt you didn’t quite fit in or were afraid of being rejected.  Don’t forget the people that could have been friends if you had been brave enough to talk, the job you might have gotten, romance you might have had and the team we might have made.  The avoided events add up to a lot of missed chances for an additional moment of happiness that you missed.

What does it cost to change?  Nothing but believing in yourself.  Believing in yourself is the most enduring form of beauty and it costs nothing. It defeats critics, it overcomes obstacles and it lasts a lifetime.  Say it:

I am Beautiful

I am Confident

I AM FEARLESS!

Say it again and again.  Write it on your mirror.  Make it the background on your phone and your computer.  Make it the backdrop of your life.