Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Serenity Prayer - a powerful line by line breakdown

I've experienced a few, let's say, "flashbacks" recently. I am apart of a Woman's 'Love Yourself' group regarding personal self-development. Today's daily post made me think back to an amazing experience I had at an NA meeting. No, I didn't go as a narcotic addict; I went as a school assignment, and so thankful that I did.

They talked about the mantra of "Just For Today" as I learned they do at every meeting, and how it is tied to the Serenity Prayer. I left there so inspired and as a better person. Naturally for me, the experience weighed heavily on my mind for several days. I wrote a blog that didn’t site much more than the full Just For Today mantra. I re-read the Serenity Prayer 50 times over. I tried to remain in that inspiration for as long as possible.

It wasn’t until doing some research that I realized what most probably never have. There is a whole lot more to that Serenity Prayer than most can readily recite.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

A good majority of the world has probably heard the part above a time or 2, at least. Some may even recite it daily. It is heavily associated with Alcoholics Anonymous and the related groups, and used as part of their 12-step model based on taking one day at a time, “Just For Today”.

Regardless of anyone’s belief, or disbelief, in “God”, it’s a beautiful prayer. And as I mentioned, there is more; there are several important lines more, and without them you really do not get the full powerful message it was written to portray, by Reinhold Niebuhr.

The text of the entire prayer is as follows:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.

Reading the whole piece together, fully taking in each line one at a time, makes for a much more impactful message.

I broke down the prayer line by line in a previous blog entry 3 years back (dang, where does the time go?). The prayer remains the same, and so does its powerful message. So, why reinvent the wheel?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Real Body: nature vs. society

The real body.

What do real unadulterated, unrefined, non-supplemented, non 24 hour - fitnessed bodies even look like?

We see all these images in media this day in age. From Facebook to Instagram, Twitter to blogs, magazines to commercials, YouTube vlogs, all with a variety of displays telling us what the best and the worst look like. Instagram hosts thousands of profiles that swear by their plates of food and their work out clips. They will tell you its easy and the money is worth it. Just start by following them (literally and figuratively); you can get that "perfect" post, too.

The key words there are get and perfect.

Get: You can get it, meaning it's not natural, you have to do something(s) too achieve it.

Perfect: what does that even mean? Perfect body? What scale measures body perfect levels?

That reminds me of this guy I met at a patio restaurant once while eating with a friend. Granted, I am slightly convinced he was on drugs as he was asking us for a dollar to spare and if he could borrow our phones, but that isn't the point... he was obviously extremely smart based on the verbiage he used, almost so stuck in his high IQ he couldn't figure out how to function and fit in with society, so at some point he turned to drugs. Yes that is my analysis of him and I'm sticking to it. Still not the point... The point: in his long speel of random information he said "what makes a triangle a triangle? Who decided a 3 - sided object was to be designated by the name triangle? What if I want to call it something else? What makes me wrong if I wanted to call that by another name? Why is it society conforms by the terminology and decisions of others?

Who gets bothered by what a shape (a triangle) is named? This guy... but seriously, think about it. He really does have a point...

Why is it that society conforms to what others determine is the perfect body shape? Who decided a triangle was to be called a triangle and who decided what the perfect body looks like?

Who decided that the perfect shape for a woman is either supermodel worthy long and lean, or Kim Kardashian-esque firm and curvy. Your hair has to be multi-toned, soft curl capable and your eye lashes need to be a certain length. And, by the way, nothing in between is good enough to be deemed the "best" on a magazine cover Who decided for a man you need to be the "perfect" combination of tall enough, strong enough, muscular enough, tan enough, with a certain style of hair (& make sure you don't have too much body hair, gentleman)?

Not one of the above? Don't worry, that society that determined the standards above have plenty of solutions:

25 types of curling/straightening irons
Blow bars (hair salon blow bars that is)
Hair products times infinity
$50-$500+++/month weight loss & fitness programs
   Cross fit
   Boot camp
   Body pump
   Les Mills
   Brazilian buttlift
   Countless other DVDs
   Body by Vi
   Pre-packaged "fit" meals
   Garcinia cambogia
   B 12 shots
   Countess other fad diets
Miracle oils
Anti-cellulite creams
Hair implants
Hair dye
Laser & other hair removal
Other surgical procedures
Chemical peels
Skin bleachers, tanners, and "correctors"
Other skin treatments
Countless brands of the "best coverage" make up
Younique & Co eyelash length enhancers
Tattooed-thick eyebrows
And many, MANY more...

We haven't even talked about getting dressed yet. But when you do, don't forget your Spanx control and/or enhancement hoses before you put on whatever society has deemed as the "it" wardrobe choice.

Don't know what's "hip" this season? Flip your TV channel, browse the latest Internet fashion blog or runway magazine, and only after by way of society you've determined what you MUST HAVE, add to shooping cart. Worry how you'll pay for them along with the solutions and enhancers listed above later.

Rent, or Crossfit pre-Botox paired with 3-tone highlights, a Mac makeover & Louis Vuitton? We is full of the toughest of choices.

Ya know what? Maybe you like the fitness program you participate in. Maybe you like getting your hair blown out and curled. Maybe you love your Shakeology every single morning. Maybe you prefer tattooed eyebrows over your real ones. Maybe you'd rather pay for hair removal than shave. Good for you.

But, and this is a huge but... who are you doing it for? Yourself? Or society's self?

Ode to the original point...
Do we even know what a real body looks like anymore?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Unconditional Love... to me, from me.

Unconditional Love. How would you define that?

Unconditional: not subject to any conditions

Love: an intense feeling of deep affection

Unconditional Love: affection without any limitations

I bet there is something in this world you have unconditional love for. A child, a pet, a significant other, a family member, a great friend, cooking perhaps?

Let's say you have been gone at a long day of work. You come home, anticipating coming home to your beloved young pup. No matter how long your day, you know this pup will lighten up your day with the joy it brings to your life. After all, no matter how your day has gone, you KNOW this pup will be over-the-top excited to see you and greet you with warmth and love.

You walk in the door with a smile, and you are greeted at door front by the one you love... seeing the pups excitement to see you makes you forget about your long day almost instantly. You walk a little further into your home, and find a huge mess...

What happens? Do you stop loving the pup?

At first, you feel frustrated and angry because after your long day, dealing with a mess is the LAST thing on your to-do list. You clean up the mess, rolling your eyes and possibly huffing and puffing. But, as you look back at your beloved, you realize no one is perfect. The pup isn't perfect and it doesn't have to be; the poor thing couldn't hold it, and made a mistake all over your kitchen floor (at least it was on the tile, right?). Ughh... Shortly after cleaning the mess, you get over it, move on, and you love your puppy all the same. "Shit happens..."

That is an example of unconditional love.

Ideally, we should all have unconditional love for ourselves. But the truth is, many of us would give more unconditional love to a pet than we do for ourselves.

If we can say, "oh well, shit happens..." when it comes to a pet, why can't we do that for ourselves? Why can't we easily forgive and go on loving ourselves for all that WE are worth? For all that WE bring to this world and to those in our lives? Why are we not as worthy as a puppy dog?

Over the years, I have had to really buy into the fact that I deserve unconditional love. I don't always make the best decisions, I don't always treat myself the way I should, I don't always take the best care of my heart, mind and soul... but what I always do now is forgive myself for my shortcomings.

A puppy doesn't have to be perfect to be loved, and neither do I...

Love, unconditionally, to me, from me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

You ARE more beautiful than you think...

When I first saw this video, I loved it. But, a tumblr blogger, "Little Drops" almost changed my mind.

I felt torn when I first read her blog. Partly because I was reading on the run and skimmed more than read through her dissection. I agree with some of her points wholeheartedly, but overall I have to disagree.

First of all, the fact that "beauty" and anything discussing it has to be discussed and debated at this level of thought is the most concerning thing to me.

She [blogger] definitely picked the whole thing apart. I agree on the lack of diversity 100+%. Shame on Dove for not including a broader image of the beauty that is found across all cultures. "White people" with "blue eyes" is not all there is out there... hopefully everyone on the planet knew that before seeing this video and well before reading this Tumblr post.

But... ehhh... "Little Drops" definitely lost me a few times throughout her [ah-hmmm] rant. Well, she officially lost me in the 3rd to last paragraph where she quotes (in order to dissect) a participant in the video:

"I should be more grateful of my natural beauty."

--> right there, in the midst of a beautiful statement, the blogger continued to tear and dissect the video and that statement apart.

The blogger used this beautiful line as if to say being physically beautiful meant being able to make friends and make better decisions, etc etc. But, if you refrain from adding negative energy to that statement and act like the rest of society by associating the word "beautiful" with physicality, I hear a totally insightful, positive, BEAUTIFUL realization:

Natural beauty --> natural confidence
Natural beauty --> naturally occurring
Naturally occurring beauty --> not something society, an artist, Dove, a video or any other being/thing can provide.

Natural beauty. Natural love and respect and adoration for oneself... an absolute predecessor to full and complete confidence, acceptance, unconditional positive regard for oneself, peace, happiness...

Confidence in oneself for all of our natural beauty in the form of inner, outward, upward, downward, wholesome, amazing acceptance of our beauty which is more than physical is greatness! It is necessary to live in the world we live in, and it is a NATURALLY BEAUTIFUL thing. It is something that IS MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU THINK!

So, its a video. PR, guys. Public relations. Ultimately, Dove didn't make the video for it to be ignored. They needed something to catch eyes. The point, although physical parts of the body are described as needed for a stranger to draw a portrait, is that we are our own worst critics. No matter your color, your size, your age group, your SES status, your ethnicity, your eye color, your chin shape, whatever!... we are all our own worst critics. The POINT is that YOU ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU THINK.

Yes, people. From every and any part of the world, please realize, YOU ARE MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN YOU THINK. Stop criticizing yourself. Stop teaching the future of our world to do the same. Kids don't learn to grow up criticizing without it being taught to them. We are the future. You are the future. And you are more beautiful than you think. Teach someone younger than you the same so that one day, we might make harsh criticism and bullying extinct.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Giving credit where credit is due...

I was given an opportunity today to reflect.

I was asked to bring in an object that represented what I have gotten out of and learned about myself from my graduate program in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at the University of South Florida. I brought in a picture of a sculpture. It is a sculpture I have blogged about in the past in a blog called From Bounded & Broken to Freedom in Eating to Live. This sculpture has since had a great deal of meaning to me. Refer below...

Today has made me really reflect back on just how different my life is right now and just how far I have come. Ya know, there was a time where victory meant skipping one purge. A bigger victory meant skipping a whole evening. An even bigger one meant skipping almost a whole week. How small those steps seem to me now... skipping one purge, one evening, one week. At that time, each one was huge. With every increasingly bigger victory came a chill provoking revelation that I could actually do this.

The bigger the victories, the more I needed to give myself credit. The moment I began to give myself credit for every single skipped purge and every single clean victory, the bigger they kept getting... The more accepting I was of myself, the more lenient I was on the standard I held against me and the more credit I gave myself, the more victorious I could be.


I was reminded today of just how big the steps in my victories have become.

I am getting a Master's degree in less than three weeks. 2 weeks from yesterday, I will have turned in my last assignment. 18 days from today, all I will have left to do is walk across a commencement stage and move my tassel from the left to the right.

How solidifying and profound it is for me to be here, and to see here. How surreal it is to see how humongous my victories have become.

I went from skipping one purge to being clean and getting a Master's. I went from having no confidence in myself to getting ready to walk across a stage and be collared a Master, ready to work to be collared in 1 or 2 more with further aspirations of getting a PhD.

How far I have come. How big my victories have become.

-From skipping just one purge thinking: ok, ok, I can do this...
---> I woke up every morning after skipping just one feeling proud

    -To going one night without purging thinking: ok, ok, I can do this...
     --->  I woke up every morning after skipping a whole night feeling even more proud
        -To going a whole entire week without purging thinking: ok, ok, I can do this...
         --->  I woke up every morning after skipping every day in the week feeling just a little more proud

Soon, I will wake up on the morning of May 4, 2013, still clean, and become collared a Master.
---> Pride? I am not sure I can describe...


If I can do this. If I, someone who used to have to fight to skip just one purge, can do this, I PROMISE you can, too. You know what your FIRST step has GOT to be? A small one... tiny. Your first step has got to be one little baby. With that tiny step, comes another part to make a two-part story. One tiny step, and a little bit of prideful credit.


Give yourself credit for every tiny step. The more credit you give yourself, the stronger you will become. The more credit you give yourself for each tiny step, the more resilient you will become and the more fight you will be willing to give. The more credit you give yourself, the more badass you will become. Pretty soon, your addiction, your eating disorder, will have NOTHING on you.


Right now, my addiction, my eating disorder, has NOTHING on me. And you know what, neither does a Master's program nor this perfectly imperfect life.

I am Superwoman.

When I look back and see how small my first steps and my first victories were compared to how big my victories are now, you better believe I give myself credit.

I am Superwoman.


I am Superwoman. Yes I am (Yes She Is)

So are you...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I won't let ED define me, and I won't let M.A. either...

It's been a while since I wrote. I have only one excuse. Confusion mixed with a little avoidance. Last time I wrote, I mentioned not allowing ED to tell me where my dignity lied in regards to my career choice. Well, I have spent the last 6 months seriously trying to find out how the heck I am supposed to know where it lies without ED! 

For years and years I relied on ED to tell me. It's true. It's a sad fact, but as much as I hated ED I relied on ED. I was no longer just me, I was me with ED. Being without ED or it's silent but deafly loud words used to be the scariest thing I could ever have thought of. Well, it's been silent around here. Peacefully silent, not deafly silent, thank the Lord. ED has been silent and although its been peaceful, its almost felt as though I've been lost.

I am at the end of the road now in my Master's program in Mental Health and Rehabilitation Counseling. Thank the Lord for that, too. Those of you who read my last blog in October already know this but, I don't want to do this anymore. "It's as if my dignity lies in doing something with merit and purpose". This was my guiding journalized line for quite some time. Not a bad line to be guided by, right? Not at all, unless it was written and voiced by ED. And, that it was. Key word: WAS.

Not anymore. I have continued to discover myself without ED. And, I like what I have found. Confidence. Drive. Desire, fast paced, outgoing, public oriented, out of the box desire! But, where does this leave me almost moments before I walk across the ceremonial stage collared in Master of Arts attire? 

I have to remain honest to me, and honestly, it still doesn't leave me wanting to sit across from client after client in an office room. No offense to anyone at all whatsoever in this field, but that's not enough for me. That doesn't sit well enough for me. I want to be out! I want to be out in public and with Clinical Physicians and Providers, with CEO's and Directors. I want to educate and to lead, to guide and to connect. These words are so inline with the words you hear in the therapeutic process, but much more out of the box. I'm gonna get it...

Public and provider relations for an eating disorder treatment center - that is IT right there man. That is THEE IT. Now, how to obtain such a job... it's difficult, trust me, I have been trying. But, I won't stop... trust me on that too. My two worlds would wonderfully collide.

Below is a reaction-to-a-book paper I wrote for my internship course, my last course before I am collared a Master. Writing this reaction encouraged reflection. It also encouraged and solidified what I have thought for 6 months....

        I am honestly struggling for words to begin this reflection. Rather than invent and speak in dishonesty throughout the entire paper, I will come right out from the start and admit... I don’t think I want to do this anymore.
I have realized a lot I never knew about counseling throughout this program and course, along with from the text Letters to a Young Therapist. Some of the things I have come to know have enhanced my desire to be in the field, and some have done quite the opposite. Overall, the thing I found resonating the most inside of me while reading her letter is that there is never an answer.
The fact that there is never an answer is something extremely intimidating to me about the field of counseling. I am certain it has a lot to do with my declaration in paragraph one. I don’t think I want to do this anymore. There is another thing that negatively struck me from the book and from the class discussion about private practice. Ms. Pipher mentioned someone who came back to school in her 40’s knowing she just had to become a therapist; this same woman found she couldn’t even stand it once in the field of practice. You, Dr. Dudell, mentioned something similar. You said if you are the kind of person that really doesn’t like to be isolated or alone in an office room with client after lost and sad client, private practice ins’t for you.
Oh goodness how unappealing it is for me to be isolated at this point in my life. I have grown to realize how extroverted I really am. It’s amazing how much differently you can view yourself when you start to actually like yourself and build some confidence. I do not want to be isolated in private practice.
You know what else I don’t want to do? Remain micromanaged or micromanage others within an agency. Been there, done that. Not only do I not prefer agency work, I can barely survive financially in an agency setting. I will remain without telling a lie... I want to make money. I want to make lots of it. I want nice things and I want to do nice things and I want to, more importantly, be able to give nice things. Every holiday season I think, okay, this is the season, I will have enough money to buy my nieces and parents and friends gifts and presents. Hasn’t happened yet. I am so tired of living paycheck to measly paycheck. I don’t want to do this anymore.
You know, I find it funny to look back at my childhood and my then career dreams. They revolved around the medical field. I knew what I wanted to be then, but I was still confused. A doctor; but, what kind of doctor shall I be? I thought ER doctor, OB/GYN, pediatrician, trauma surgeon... all my dreams revolved around medicine. But the truth is, I have grown incredibly squeamish. At age 7 or 8, my favorite movies were horror films and my favorite TV shows revolved around life in the ER. Now a days, I turn my head at any type of gore.
How did I end up here? [I turn my head silently as this exact thought surfaces as I write this reflection - insert tears]
I know. I know how I ended up here. Happenstance theory. Look at that, I learned something from that Careers Counseling class. I just so happen to suffer from a difficult childhood filled with angry and difficultly divorced parents and, I happened to develop poor self-esteem based on a poorly defined identity which then led to a full fledged eating disorder.
As most people within similar timelines in the program as myself have heard, happenstance, although I may not have referenced the theory before, is how I got here. I, like a lot who end up with aspirations of work in the field of addictions, grew passion for the prevention and treatment of the mentioned due to a personal battle of hopefully grateful, successful recovery.
I got so into and passionate and fired up about my own experience and my own recovery that I decided this passion just had to translate into my career. In fact, I used to journal about it. 
"It's as if my dignity lies in turning my sin into something with merit and purpose."
That jaded declaration brings tears to my eyes every time I read it, including present time. It saddens me that, in a time where I thought I was really, really recovered, I can look back now and see that I was still sick. It sickens me now that at that “recovered” stage in which I wrote that statement, I still allowed ED (eating disorder) to tell me where my dignity laid. 
I wonder what Ms. Pipher would say to me. Here I am, 28 and thankfully recovered, bursting with confidence I don’t even know how to utilize. No offense to anyone in this field whatsoever at all, but I don’t want to do this anymore. I keep thinking that maybe its because I have a jaded agency perspective and maybe its because I am tired and ready for all the commitment of school to come to a close. I start to think I owe it to myself and this degree to at least try to do ED therapy and see how I like it. But, in between every moment of feeling as though I am “stuck” in therapy as someone with a Master’s in it, I think more clearly.
I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t believe it, but I don’t think I just think it. I think I know it. I don’t want to do this anymore. My oh my, 28 going on 29 and I need a vacation. After that vacation, I need to let my confidence and my spiritual and personal growth truly lead me and stop scaring me. It is super intimidating to consider going into a field like marketing or public relations as an entry level, minimally experienced professional after working so hard to obtain this degree. But, it is so very much so, incredibly more intimidating and scary for me to remain in one door because of the letters M.A. 
Reading this book and living through this program has taught me many things. Most important for me at this potential point of mid-life career-crisis and chaos is something I learned through my recovery. Tomorrow is a new day and it always will be. Nothing in this world can tell me what tomorrow will bring, not even me. I do not have control of many things. But, I can control what I do when I wake up tomorrow.
“If you want something... Go get it. Period.” -Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Who knows where I will ultimately end up. Hopefully in some transcendent Heaven. All I know and all I can control now is where I am, right now, in the here and now. In the here and now, I will not allow something like the voice of a distant ED tell me where my dignity nor my career lies.
I am a Master! Almost officially in an Art, super officially as a confident, fearless, outgoing, action driven, fast-paced preferring career woman. I don’t want to be a therapist in a room anymore. But, I will always want to be the aware, genuine, congruent and unconditional positive regard viewing person this program has made me. That, I will take with me anywhere and everywhere I go from here. Where I will go, I guess you and I will have to find out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's as if my dignity lies...

"It's as if my dignity lies in turning my sin into something with merit and purpose."

As I look at this excerpt from a journal entry dated January of 2009, it makes me sad. It also makes me a little angry and it makes me feel pretty cheated.

Does my dignity really lie in whether I choose to dedicate my life to the treatment, education and advocacy of eating disorders and it's sufferers? Will my life and my being as a whole really lack dignity if I don't dedicate my life to eating disorders?

Looking at this excerpt at this point in my life and in my Masters program makes a lot of sense. It helps me make a lot of sense surrounding the fact that, I don't want to do this anymore. The excerpt has really helped me figure out my confusion in the fact just mentioned, that I don't want to be a therapist.

My career choice has come from what I went though and from my recovery from ED. However, in this stage of my recovery, I know full well I DO NOT and CAN NOT allow ED to control me, my life, my behaviors, nothing. I never had and I still do not have to let ED control my life, my educational pursuits or my career path.

It's as if my dignity lies...

Woah, woah, woah... hold on a second now... SAYS WHO?

Who says where my dignity lies? Who decides that? Who determines and makes up rules about where my dignity lies?

Are you catching on to why this excerpt has both infuriated and freed me at the same time?

ED is all over that journal excerpt. ED wrote that "it's as if my dignity lies..." nonsense. I didn't write that. And, I don't have to follow ED's rules. No sir-e!

I don't want to do this anymore. I am about to finish my Masters program in Rehabilitation and Mental Health counseling and ya know what?... yes, you know, I have said three times already - I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS ANYMORE.

Sorry, but I'm not sorry. Sorry, I'm NOT sorry my legs are bigger than my arms. And, sorry I'm definitely NOT sorry that I don't want to do this anymore (—> 5th time). I don't want to revolve my career around the treatment and prevention of eating disorders. For the love of God and of recovery - Sorry, but I'm NOT sorry...

My suffering from ED does not mean I owe it to anyone nor to my existence versus nonexistence of dignity to dedicate my life to eating disorders. Gosh, this revelation, this epiphany, this freeing acceptance —> I thought I already did all that... I feel so relieved. And I'll tell you the truth: its been on my mind for weeks. Maybe my fans of Eating to Live, Not the Alternative have noticed? I haven't been able to bring myself to write a blog entry in months.

It only took me to the last 6 credit hours of my 60 credit hour Masters program and $70K in student loans for tuition, a discovery of an old journal entry, and a ton of self-reflection to really figure it out... I decide gosh darnit . I choose. I determine where my dignity lies. I don't have to pay for it by "getting right" with my previous ED sins to have dignity.

You know what I wanted to do when I was a child, before I knew ED? I wanted to be a doctor - ER or OB/GYN in particular. Always, always, always. When we had to think about what we want to do when we grow up, I said doctor, every.single.time. But, okay, okay... so I'm not gonna go full out med school. But you know what, I AM going FULL OUT P.A. school.

Physicians Assistant - it is what I WANT TO DO. Not because I owe it to anyone, to any disorder, to any struggle, experience or sin, but just because I really do want to.

This is it. This is the final moment. This is the last good bye. ED held on to me all this time, even by way of trying to determine my dignity. Psssshhhhhh!!! ED, I have told you before and I will tell you again for the LAST TIME. You've got nothing on me - get out, get out, get out of my life and of my dignity. GOOD RIDDANCE, ED. Good riddance fabricated dignity requirements. Good bye.

It's as if my dignity lies in making my own choices, ALL of my own choices.