The Importance of Joy

Joy.

Let’s talk about it.

Because when you’re recovering from an eating disorder, or just finding your way through the obstacle course of life, I think finding joy is something that is vitally important.

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When I was in my anorexia, joy was nonexistent. I’ve said it time and time again that ED is a damn THIEF, and one of the biggest things he likes to steal is your joy.

But you already knew that. You’ve lived it.

And even if you don’t have an eating disorder, there are other culprits in your life that try to steal your joy: busyness, competitive natures, jealousy, comparisons, perfectionism, self-doubt, anxiety, fear, I could go on and on, all trying to steal your joy.

But with anorexia and eating disorders, such a huge aspect of the disease is denying yourself joy: whether that be the joy of experiencing delicious and nourishing foods, the joy of spending time with loved ones, being gentle with yourself, relaxing, giving of your time, giving of your heart, treating yourself to things – either new clothes, a special outing, a dessert, etc. Long story short: joy was always denied. Because allowing yourself to experience joy would show too much self-love

So when you’re in recovery, one of the most important things to reintroduce to your life is joy.

And this is something that I am definitely still working on.

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You see, there’s a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is a fleeting emotion, where joy is a deep, soul-level experience. You can be happy for a number of reasons. You can be happy because the Bachelorette finale was on. You can be happy that you’re favorite song is on the radio. You can be happy that it’s summer and you don’t have school. But joy is different. True joy comes from the heart.

And therefore, experiencing joy goes hand-in-hand with loving yourself. For in order to allow your heart to experience joy, you have to first allow your heart to experience self-love.

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I know, this is getting a little deep for a weeknight. But this is something that is very important.

Because for all that time when you were in your disease, you were denying yourself joy. And let’s face it: joy is central to who you are, and who you are to become.

So that’s why it is vital for recovery. It is so important to incorporate joy back in your life, both as a way to show yourself love, and also as a way to fall in love with life again — because that will allow you to truly bloom.

Proverbs 17: “A joyful heart is good medicine.”

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So what is joy?

Joy is being present in the moment with people who love you.

Joy is giving of your time or your talents freely. Without expecting anything in return. Because you love people and you acknowledge that you have something to offer the world.

Joy is being there for a friend when they need it most, and letting them be there for you.

Joy is recognizing that you are loved, and allowing that state of love to influence your decisions and your outlook.

Joy is dancing to a song because you are full of life and your spirit is alive.

Joy is treating yourself to something special because you are worth it.

Joy is loving yourself.

Joy is forgiving yourself.

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These actions communicate to yourself that you love yourself. That you believe in your value and worth. That you are worth joy.

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I am still working on this. And my challenge to you – and myself – is to push myself to do just one thing today — in the next hour — to show myself joy. If you want to get really crazy, try for two!

Let’s choose joy. Because the truth of the matter is that you are worth joy. And your life is worth rejoicing.

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Let’s have a joyful week.

xx

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Going Undercover

So yesterday, I did something pretty crazy.

I went undercover.

Yep, I pulled a Harriet the Spy and went on a real life spy mission.

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My best friend is actually a forensic psychologist, and basically that means that her life is literally an episode of CSI. Anyway, she had to go on an undercover gig, and, since I’m an actor, she invited me along!

It. Was. So. Cool.

Not gonna lie, I felt like a badass.

Anyway. We were undercover on a boat, putting “eyes on” this guy whose wife was suspicious of him having an affair. She knew that he was going to be on this evening cruise because she checked their credit card bill. He told her he was “working late.” That poor woman. My heart went out to her. To think that she had to hire a private investigator to see if her husband is cheating. It breaks my heart.

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Anyway, the guy was with two women. And that’s all we know. His actions weren’t overly romantic or anything, so we couldn’t tell if he was cheating.

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But as I was sitting there, pretending to take selfies, yet actually taking pictures of the guy and his actions, I felt a tremendous responsibility in my hands.

I mean, this was their marriage. I didn’t know what the story was.

And, yes, even though that guy lied about his whereabouts to his wife, I had no idea who those women were. Were they co-workers, and he just didn’t want to tell his wife that he’d be out with women because she’d freak out? Was he really cheating? Was he planning a surprise birthday party for his wife with two of her best friends? I just didn’t know. But here I was, trying to figure out if he was having an affair based of his body language and actions with these women.

And, surprise, surprise, it got me thinking about recovery.

Now, you may be scratching your head thinking, “How the hell did you get from spying on someone to thinking about your anorexia recovery?”

Well friends, I was thinking, “This is crazy. This guy has no idea that we’re watching him. Someone could be watching me or following me around and I would have no idea.”

Paranoid much?

No, just kidding. But the thought did cross my mind.

But it got me thinking. I was trying to figure out this guy’s life from his actions. From his behavior.

And I wondered, What conclusion would someone draw from my behaviors and actions? Would they be able to tell that I’m in recovery? Would they think that I love myself? Would they draw the conclusion that I am living free from ED? Would they be able to tell that I love Jesus?

What do my actions communicate?

And it really made me think.

Because then I thought, what do I want my behavior to communicate?

Really. That’s a tough question. And there are lots of answers.

I mean, let’s be honest here. I would love it if my actions communicated that, Oh yeah, she’s got it goin’ on! She’s confident, stylish, flirty, self-assured, and the life of the party! Dangggg this girl’s the cat’s meOW

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I confess. I would love that. That’s the “me” of my dreams. That would be the movie portrayal of my life.

But is that what I really want my life to communicate?

And I realized, after reflecting on this, what I actually want my actions to communicate:

One word:

LOVE

I know, I know, I know. I can hear the collective “eye roll” from here.

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But seriously, just here me out.

I want to communicate love: Love for others. Love for myself. Love for God. Love for life.

If someone were to spy on me, I would want them to walk away saying, Man, that girl is a lover.

So what does that look like? How about, being a good listener. Following through on promises and keeping my word. Bringing joy to others. Letting people into the broken places in my life. Actually celebrating my birthday. Building trust with others. Not tearing others down with gossip or judgement. Not tearing myself down with harsh criticism or doubt. Saying yes to invitations. Calling people back and reaching out. Spending time in prayer. Laughing a good old fashioned belly laugh.

Please hear me, I am in no way saying that I am all those fabulous things. That is a list of things that I inspire to be. Things that I am working on. Things that ED tries to suppress, but that I fight for.

That’s what I want my life to communicate.

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What about you? What would someone think if they were to go undercover and put “eyes on” you? Is it want you want your actions to communicate? Just something to think about this weekend.

So whether or not that man was cheating on his wife, I’ll never know.

But I do know one thing: actions are important. And I need to be careful of my actions, because they communicate a lot.

And at the end of the day, I want to communicate love.

All He Wants to Do

Do you know how loved you are?

Now, before you hit the snooze button, just hear me out.

I always shy away from writing posts like these, because in all honesty, I feel like they’re usually suuuuuper cheesy, but sometimes, you just need to hear it.

And tonight, for me, I do.

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I find that so often, I hide from God. Which is silly, because I literally can’t not be in His sight. But I try. I try to hide and cower away.

Why? Because of shame.

Shame makes you hide yourself because of something that you’ve done.

My past is rampant with things that I am not proud of. Things that I’ve done or said to myself and my loved ones that are hurtful and have caused pain.

And even though I know that I am forgiven of those things, I still am haunted by that baggage of guilt, and its carry-on companion, shame. (see what I did there??) 🙂

But anyways, it is because of that shame that I try to hide from God. Why? Because I feel I am unworthy of His love because of those things I did in my past.

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But here’s what I need to remember.

All God wants to do is love me. All He wants to do is love you.

I think a lot of times, we feel that God is like our high school principal. Like, He is some kill-joy that has it “out for you.” Like He’s hiding around the corner, just waiting for you to screw up in the lunch room, so He can discipline you and send you to detention. Or that He’ll shut down all the weekend parties, and if and when He catches you, not only will you be punished, but you’ll have to rat out all your friends. Sometimes, God can get painted in that light.

But it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

God is not out to get you. He isn’t waiting for you to mess up so that He can punish you and expel you from school.

All He wants to do is love you.

There is nothing that you could do or say that could make Him not love you. Those things that you and I feel shameful about, He wants to free you from them.

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Those things in our past, when we hold onto them and use them as a reason to hide from God, all we are doing is preventing ourselves from feeling His overwhelming love.

Here’s the truth of the matter:

So you F’d up royally. I know I did – I do – I have right now.

He forgives you.

And you know what else?

He loves you anyway.

You are His daughter. His child. His precious possession. He made you for crying out loud.

Can you imagine how frustrated He must be when we put our shame in the way of His love? He’s like, “Come on, just let me love you! I forgave you of that already! Just let it go, for Pete’s sake!”

He is seeking you. He is longing to love you.

You just have to let Him. Let go of the shame that is creating a barricade to your heart. The things in the past that are causing the shame, were they hurtful? Yes. Ask for forgivenessHe will forgive you if you ask for it. Then once you are forgiven – let that shit go.

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Recovery is hard. Really hard. Believe me, I get it. I get that you have days where you are just racked with so much shame about this or that, or you’re crippled with fear and anxiety, or you’re just overwhelmed with self-doubt or self-hatred, or you just feel defeated — utterly defeated that there’s no way you’ll ever be able to make it through the day. Those days are real and sometimes all you long for is a hug. For someone to just get it. And for someone to meet you in your brokenness and love you.

Jesus is that person. That’s all He wants to do.

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He just wants to hug you. He wants to love you. He wants to look into your eyes and tell you that everything is going to be okay. He wants to heal that brokenness and to strengthen you to get through those tough days so that you can reclaim your life and be free of the shame and the oppression of ED. Why? Because He loves you more than words can express.

Just let Him.

He is calling after you.

Come out from your hiding.

Let Him love you.

Headlines and Hashtags

Recovery is a funny thing.

When we first start out, we bolt out of the gate. We’re sprinting ahead at full speed. YEAH! I can do this!

It’s full speed ahead, tackling this fear food. Then that fear food. We’re meeting calorie goals and increasing supplements week after week.

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And, aside from the usual freak out or melt down, things are going swimmingly.

But after a while, the excitement of recovery begins to fade, and recovery becomes more mechanic. We’re just plodding along. One foot after the other.

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And this can play tricks on our minds. Because we can feel that since we’re not having “mountain top” experiences anymore — like that first day where you hit 3000 calories, or the day where you tackle a huge fear food, or you make a breakthrough at therapy, etc, etc, etc. – we think that since we’re not hitting huge milestones anymore, that we’re not truly making progress, or that we’re not recovering “good enough” or “strong enough.”

That thought process, my friends, is a lie from the pit of hell. And it comes from ED.

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Here’s the truth:

The work you are doing is tremendously difficult, and you’re a freakin’ rock star.

Your journey of recovery is absolutely inspiring, and just because you’re not having mountain top “highs” anymore does not in any way devalue the hard work that you’re doing each and every day.

mountain-poseI recently started doing yoga, surprise, surprise. And this thought came to me as I was in Mountain Pose.

Yes, Mountain Pose. The silly beginner’s pose where you look like you’re just standing up with your hands above your head.

That pose is a lot like those times in recovery.

To the eye, Mountain Pose looks incredibly easy. It looks like: OK, this chick is just standing up straight. Big frickin’ whoop.

But in actuality, Mountain Pose is a very active pose – you just can’t see it. In the pose, you’re flexing every muscle of your body. You’re pushing through the ground with every toe, you’re flexing your quads, clenching your buns, tucking in your tail bone, tightening your core, drawing your shoulders down and back, pressing your elbows together, lengthening your spine, and reaching to Heaven with every joint in your fingers. You are working hard. If I stay in that pose for long enough, I actually start to sweat.

But to the eye, it just looks like you’re just standing up straight. No one can see the hard work that is taking place below the surface.

That is recovery.

The work that you’re doing – the little things that you do every single day – those are hard freaking work. But they’re easily missed and easily forgotten about, just because they’re not “Headlines” or “Hashtags” like #PintParty, #FearFoodChallenge or #RecoveryWin.

Here’s my invitation to you:

Celebrate you.

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Celebrate your recovery.

Because whether you’ve been in recovery for 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months, 5 years, or 5 decades — you chose life. You made the decision to reclaim your life and you chose recovery. And the things that you have to do everyday to stay in recovery – the little things that no one sees but that you deal with every day (like, fighting bad body image, fighting urges to purge, choosing to be gentle with yourself, choosing to silence ED) those things cannot be captured in an Instagram photo. They cannot be seen with the naked eye. To everyone else, it just looks like Mountain Pose. But to you — you know how incredibly difficult it really is.

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So I invite you to just celebrate it.

Seriously. Because you are incredible. And strong. And courageous. And a warrior. And that deserves to be rejoiced in. YOU deserve to be rejoiced in.

So let’s have a great week, Warriors.

xx

What I Learned from Getting Hit On at Whole Foods, and No, It’s Not What You Think

Alright, I’m going to get this out of the way right now: NO, this is not some lame attempt at a humble brag, like “Oh look at me, I’m getting hit on because I’m so amazing.” 

This is not some “toot my own horn” post. I think you know me better than that by now :o)

OK, glad we cleared that up. Now onto the post:)

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Friday night. 9pm. I’m at Whole Foods. Now, before you scoff, like, “Looooser” a la, Ace Ventura, just give me break. I was out until three the night before at a birthday party, and sometimes, a girl just needs a night to recoup with some dried mangos and Netflix.

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So back to the story. It’s a Friday night in NYC, and I’m at a grocery store. In my “lounge wear,” aka: my, I’m-not-planning-on-seeing-anyone clothes, hair’s a mess, one coat of mascara – if that. Basically, I was a hot mess.

And I was buying dried mangos.

Family size.

By myself.

In Whole Foods.

At nine o’clock on a Friday night.

In New York.

😛

So I’m walking in the produce aisle, and this guy approaches me. And, okay, he’s pretty cute. Whatever. Not really my type. But I was not in the mood to talk to anyone. Not lookng the way I did — especially not a boy.

So he tries to strike up a conversation with me. And I just pretend not to hear him. I’ve got my headphones in — which weren’t on, BTW. But the guy is like, smiling and being super friendly, so I take out the ear buds, and acknowledge him.

“You’re beautiful. Let’s go grab coffee.”

Excuse me?

I’m like, uhhh. I’ve lived in NYC for far too long to fall for that, buddy.

But he just goes on and on and on, trying to strike up a conversation with me — Telling me how he wants to meet a girl at a grocery store on a Friday night because that means she’s not out at the clubs. He’s an investment banker on Wall Street. Originally from the midwest. A kale enthusiast. He’s persistently engaging with me.

And let’s be clear here: it’s not like he was some big scary guy, okay. I didn’t feel like I was in any danger. He was a suuuuuuper nice guy. And short. I mean, let’s be honest: I could have taken him if I really needed to.

But here’s the thing: I’m not a biotch. I give people the time of day. This is just an extension of my perfectionism and “people pleasing” tendencies. So tonight, I was trying to get away from him, sending him the signal that I’m not interested. But doing so in a polite manner.

To make a long story short, he chats me up around the entire store as I’m shopping, trying to engage with me and agree to go on a date with him. He even walks me to the check out line. I literally could not get away from him! I just couldn’t get it through his head that I wasn’t interested.

Finally, as I’m walking out the door, I go, “Look, buddy. I’m getting in a cab now. Goodbye.”

And (for my mother who’s probably freaking out right now): just so you know, I had the cabbie take me somewhere that wasn’t my house just to be safe in case he was following me. But I didn’t get that sense from him. This was just a guy who was desperately trying to get me to go out on a date with him.

But when I got home, I was angry.

I was seriously ticked off.

I was mad at myself. I couldn’t even enjoy my dried mangoes because I was in such a fury of self-anger.

And as I was getting ready for bed, and my gums started hurting from brushing my teeth so furiously, I decided to check myself and figure out where this emotion was coming from.

And here’s what I learned:

I did not stand up for myself at Whole Foods.

My behavior, in allowing that guy to persistently try to flirt with me and not just saying “F-Off, Goodbye, I don’t want to talk to you, you’re bothering me!” but instead, being polite, so as not to hurt his feelings or his ego – In doing that, I was sending myself the message that I didn’t value myself enough to do what was right for me. I was too worried about not letting this guy down, that I had to endure being hit on for 15 minutes.

My behavior sent my brain that message that, “You know what, self? I care more about this random guy’s feelings than I do about my own! I would rather not stand up for myself than tell this guy off and bruise his ego.”

And you know what that speaks to? My self-worth – what I see my own value as being.

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The feeling I had when I got home – that anger – came from deep inside my spirit. My behavior had struck a nerve and tapped into a place of brokenness that I thought was further along in the healing process than apparently it actually is

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I deserved to tell that guy off from the get go. I was worth more than putting up with that crap. Had one of my friends been in that situation, I would have gone all “Bye Felicia” on his arse and told him off like, “She’s. Not. Interested. Buh-Bye Now.” 

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But I didn’t. And instead, I put up with it. Putting his feelings ahead of my own.

That is going to change. It’s time that I stop trying to please everyone. It’s time that I begin to treat myself with the dignity that I deserve. Because I am worth it, dammit.

And so are you.

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Growing to believe that, is a journey. One that, if I’m honest, I thought I was a lot farther along on, than my behavior tonight communicated.

There’s no quick fix. It is a day by day transformation. One that I am thankful I don’t have to do it on my own. I’ve got Jesus for that. The key is learning to accept and embrace the work He’s doing on my heart.

Grocery shopping will never be the same. For it will now remind me that I am WORTHY. I am worthy of respect. I am worthy of love. I am worthy of forgiveness. And I am worthy of standing up for myself.

 

Prayer of a Broken Pray-er

This post scares me.

I’m going to be more vulnerable on here than I have ever been before.

Let’s talk about…prayer.

I think a lot of people shy away from it because they feel that they don’t know how to do it. They don’t know what to say, how to start, how to prevent their mind from wandering.

I know I did.

And to be really honest, my prayer life is limping along, to put it positively. There are a myriad of reasons for that, but the point is, I am not some “prayer champ.” In fact, I hesitate to even talk about this, because I feel I have no authority to even put two words together on this topic, but, whatevs, it was put on my heart.

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So here’s where the scary part comes in.

I’m going to openly pray. On here. Just to show you that you really don’t have to be some expert at praying.

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The main reason that I struggle(d) with prayer was that I felt it had to be perfect. Perfectionism is something that haunts me, even now that my anorexia has “left the building.” And it manifests itself into many areas in my life, including prayer.

And I don’t think I’m alone in that.

So I wanted to just be an example of a “broken pray-er” – to basically show you that you don’t have to have your ducks in a row to pray.

So here goes nothing.

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Dear Heavenly Father,

Here I am again. Your favorite repeat offender. Back again, having failed.

I come before You, broken and in need of You.

You know my heart. You know that I long to love You and follow You, but that I fall short all. the. time. 

Lord, You know my struggles. You know the battles in my mind. You know my weaknesses and temptations. And I ask You to just be with me through it all. Give me the strength to persevere day by day and fight back against ED when he knocks at my door.

Lord, I am filled with such guilt. I feel shame, and that I don’t even deserve to be in Your presence.

And I’m listening to the rain against my window tonight, and I am reminded that Your grace is like rain: that it washes away all the horrible things that I’ve done and that I continue to do and do and do, even though I try so hard not to. And for those things, I ask forgiveness.

I am reminded that, like rain, You’ve washed me clean from those things. And that, like a flood, Your love surges over me all the time. And I just ask that You please allow me to accept that love and embrace it.

Jesus, You know I am broken. You know what I need. You know how I long for love and for acceptance. I pray that you work on my heart and my spirit and fill me with Your love. Because that is what will truly heal me.

And I ask that as You work on my heart, you help me to begin to love myself and be gentle with myself. Help me to see myself with Your eyes. Help me to want to love myself

You do not create mistakes. You created me for a purpose, and Lord, I pray that You help me find that. I so long to do Your will, but I am lost, unaware of what Your plan for my life is.

I pray for my family, Lord. I pray for my friends. That they may feel Your loving presence in their lives.

And I pray for all the people reading this, that they may also feel Your presence, and that their hearts may be moved to love You, and draw close to You. 

I love you, Lord. Thank you for a second chance.

Amen.

Prayer doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be all formal and drawn out. It is simple. A conversation. Think about how you’d talk to a friend. Because Jesus is listening, and He cares what you have to say. Even if it’s been forever since the last time you’ve prayed, or maybe you’ve never prayed at all. That’s okay. Jesus would just be thrilled that you’ve decided to “check in.” Because all He wants to do is love you.

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That’s all for tonight. Goodnight, loves.

Loving a Horse

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A concept that, before my anorexia, I didn’t even knew existed.

Therapy…with a horse?

WTF, mate?

But it was part of my program at inpatient, and in all honestly, it really did help me a lot, even though I may not have wanted to admit it at the time.

I recently went horseback riding, and all those memories and emotions from inpatient and my interactions with the horses came flooding back to me. And so I decided to write this post.

If you haven’t spent much time with a horse, it’s hard to fully grasp the nature of these gentle giants. I mean, they’ve been immortalized in movies such as the free, wild spirit of Black Beauty, or the fight-til-the-end Seabiscuit. And those are definitely aspects of a horse.

But there’s something more. Something about a horse that taps into the part of your soul that, when you’re recovering from an eating disorder, really needs healing: Learning how to love.

Horses respond to love. They are incredible “feelers,” which, TBH if I had never spent any time with a horse, I would be rolling my eyes right now, a la Liz Lemon.

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Thank you, Tina Fey 🙂

But in all seriousness, horses are remarkably empathetic — they feel every emotion that you’re having. They can sense if you’re anxious, if you’re scared, if you’re angry, if you’re nervous, you name it, they can tell.

And you know what else they can feel?

Love.

A horse, it needs to be loved.

It needs to be nurtured and taken care of.

It needs to feel safe, and it needs to build trust to know that you’re not going to hurt it or neglect it.

Now, I want you to go back, and replace all those “it’s” with “you’s.”

You need to be loved. You need to be nurtured and taken care of, and feel safe and trust that you won’t be neglected or hurt.

The way you take care for a horse is exactly how you need to take care of yourself.

It is the key to recovery: loving yourself – Building a relationship with yourself that is based on love, and nurturing interactions, and gentleness.

Would you treat a horse the way that you treat yourself?

Seriously. Take a cold, hard, honest look at how you treat yourself – your body, your mind, your spirit. Would you treat a gentle, loving, sweet, defenseless horse that way?

Even in recovery, I’m going to gamble that there may still be one or two areas in your life that might not fit that bill. I know for me there are.

When you begin your recovery journey, your body is used to being abused. It is used to being neglected, malnourished, overworked, uncared for, lied to, isolated, bullied, hated, and abandoned by you.

That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it is the truth. That’s an eating disorder in a nutshell.

So when you begin your recovery, your body has to learn to trust you again. It has to learn that you aren’t going to be mean to it again.

It’s like interacting with a horse. You have to approach it cautiously and gently. You first have to put your hand out for it to smell.

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Then when you approach it, you need to be gentle, and treat it with respect. When you move around the horse, you have to put your hand on its rump to let it know that you’re walking behind it, so it doesn’t spook.

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You have to feed it and water it. Speak kindly and gently to it. Love it. And when you do, the bond between you and the horse is unbreakable. It is something that goes beyond words – it is truly, love.

I invite you to just think about that. Think about your recovery as building a relationship with your body, just like you would a horse. A beautiful, majestic, gentle horse.

Equine therapy taught me a lot of things. Not only was it healing to be out in nature, and have the wind in my hair, but it was also instrumental in remembering how to love and care for another living being. A lesson that translates to myself and my relationship with my body.

It is a long journey, and I can’t say I’m 100% there yet. But I am on my way. One day at a time.

We’re on His Wall

Grey’s Anatomy is a great show.

I love it, I really do. And if you haven’t watched from the beginning, I highly HIGHLY suggest it.

There’s a formula to the show. In every episode, there’s a patient. They’ve either been maimed by an inanimate object, have a car part or something protruding through their abdomen, been hit by something, yade yade yaddah.

Whatever the case, they’ve been severely injured. And it’s Meredith’s, or Bailey’s, or Alex’s job to fix it. Mend it. Put the pieces back together.

And when the patient heals, their worth as a human being does not diminish because they endured that trauma. Sure, they may need a prosthetic limb as a result, but they still have the same value as before the accident. In fact, they’re often celebrated for having overcome such adversity.

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Eating disorders may not be a car fender gashing into a person’s side. Anorexia may not be a severed limb that needs to be reattached. But it affects you just the same.

And here’s what I really want to talk about:

The fact that you had an eating disorder does not make you any less of a person.

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I’m going to repeat that, because it is really important, and frankly, I need to hear it again, myself.

Just because you had an eating disorder, does not make you worthless.

That wound does not devalue you.

It does not make you unloveable.

It does not make you someone who you can’t be proud of.

It is simply your brokenness – where you were maimed.

And news flash: everyone is broken in one way or another.

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Some people struggle with materialism, throwing themselves at the opposite sex, alcoholism. Some people are trapped in a cycle of depression, or addiction, or substance abuse, or jealousy, or vanity, or lust, or being too lazy or greedy, or spending thousands of dollars shopping online, or you name it.

A wound is a wound is a wound. Whether it is impaling you from the outside, like a car part or a tree branch, or from the inside like an eating disorder. A wound breaks you. Makes you broken. Makes you in need of healing.

So why is it that when a person heals from a car accident, their value or worth doesn’t decrease, just because they were once wounded? Why does a gun shot wound survivor not become less of a person? Why is it that healing from trauma does not dictate a devalued human.

Why? Because that person is not their wound. They are not defined by their medical history. Their value as a person is not dictated by the fact that they underwent a trauma.

And the same goes for an eating disorder.

You are not your eating disorder.

Here’s the thing: when you’re in recovery and living abundantly again, you are living proof that you healed. Or rather, that you have been healed.

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And this is going to get a little “metaphorically wonky,” but just hear me out.

I’d like to start out by saying that I, in no way, shape, or form, am discrediting any of the hard work that you’ve done in your recovery.

But, I’m going to just throw this out there for you to ponder tonight.

When a victim of a car crash comes into the ER, they do not demand a scalpel and scrubs to operate on themselves. They physically can’t. They’re lying on an operating table, simply hanging on for dear life. They leave it up to the professionals: the doctors. They literally place their life in the doctor’s hands, trusting that the doctor’s years and years and years of training pay off.

#RealTalk: Jesus is that doctor.

He is the one that will do the surgery, put you back together, and heal you. But you have to call 911. You have to call the ambulance to come pick you up.

But I’m getting away from the real reason for this post.

Broken does not mean worthless.

Just because you were once broken – just because you had an eating disorder – does not mean that you are somehow worth less or have decreased in value as a human being.

No.

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Here’s what it does mean:

It speaks to the skill of your doctor.

You know how when you go into an orthodontist’s office, they always have the before and after pictures on the wall in the waiting room? There’s the “before” picture, of a guy with the jacked up teeth — like, how the hell does he even get his lips around those bad boys — right next to the “after,” where that same guy all of a sudden became tall-dark-and-handsome, with perfect, pearly whites. That transformation speaks to the skill of the orthodontist. That’s why it’s on his wall: to “show off.” To boast his skills. To serve as an advertisement to his abilities. He’s proud of the work he’s done.

So is God with you.

I’m not saying that God is prideful and walks around tooting His own horn about the work He’s done with you. But He kind of is. Because you and me, walking around, reclaiming our lives, in recovery — our very lives speak to His glory. We are the pictures on His wall. Every time God sees us, He is like, “Man, I did a good job.” or “Gosh, I’m proud of her.” 

The degree of my brokenness just speaks all the more to the glory and the power of God.

So claim it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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So okay, that’s it. Enough preaching.

I’ve got to get back to watching Grey’s Anatomy.

It’s the episode where there’s a metal pole impaling two people.

And I guarantee – when they heal, those two people are going to be exemplary cases that Meredith will use to brag about later.

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21 Days

So this past week, I have been up at our lake home in Michigan. It’s a beautiful time together with family, sunshine, food-a-plenty, and of course, beer!

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It’s been really interesting for me to enter into this intense week of family time after just coming off of an intense period of filming on set.

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And it may not be for reasons why you think.

Yes, it has been a 180 degree shift from hyper-career focused energy to literally watching grass grow, drinking and lounging on a boat without a worry or cell phone coverage.

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Yes, it has been a total culture shock from urban NYC craziness, to remote, blink-and-you-miss-it, population 1200, one-stoplight fishing town.

Those things are all true, and wonderful.

But it has also been interesting for another reason:

I am remembering who I am.

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You see, I have mentioned how ED makes you become a shell of your former self: absolutely sucking your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social lives completely out, leaving you lifeless and hollow in more ways than one.

But in that emptying, you also lose the animated, vivacious, and fully-alive girl you used to be.

In a previous post, I recalled an episode from art therapy during “family week” at inpatient. The assignment was for each family member to make an art project about how the anorexia had impacted him or her. And what I made will shed a lot of light on the disease, and its implications on my life.

I made a black box, or coffin, out of construction paper. And inside the black box was a bunch of brightly colored confetti.

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The box, I said, represented my disease. The brightly colored confetti was who I was pre-anorexia: I was vibrant. I was exciting. I had passion, zest, life, energy, love, and zeal. Anorexia took all those things and killed them, as it was slowly killing me.

That’s the thing that people don’t understand. They see their daughter or their friend wasting away. “Where’s the silly girl I love?” “Where’s the goofy girl who loves to play outside, hang with her friends, and have spontaneous dance parties?” “Where did she go? If I could just reach her…If I could just find her again…”

And that’s precisely it. Because the truth is, when I was in my disease, I was also experiencing that: “If I could reach her, then I wouldn’t be here, wasting away. I’ve lost her and I cannot find her anymore either.”

And one of the biggest aspects of recovery has been to locate that girl. And slowly, I have been making progress, and I’d say I’m about 90% there.

But these past few weeks, I have truly been embodying that girl.

That’s why it’s been interesting.

Because I went from a couple weeks on set where I was absolutely in my element, thriving, doing what I love to do and am passionate about — to an environment that taps into a different part of the old me – where I can just be silly and laugh and be around people who know me and love me and support me and who I am, who I’ve been, what I’ve been through, and where I’m going.

It’s been a constant flow – a total submersion – of embodying that “person-hood,” for lack of a better word.

And you know what? I can tell a difference.

In the little things. Little things that add up to big things.

Little things like, I haven’t looked in a mirror the entire time I’ve been here. In fact, I haven’t even put on makeup! I have been present, and in the moment – not concerned about silly “wishy-washy” things that my perfectionist side of me always holds tight to. Relaxing about having an extra snack or an extra drink with people I love.

But the biggest thing, is that I’m letting love in.

I’m allowing myself to receive love from my little neice. I’m allowing myself to feel the love from my siblings. I’m sharing my heart with my family and being open about my feelings, realizing that they are valid, and worth sharing.

They say it takes 21 days to break a bad habit.

I’d like to amend that to say that it takes 21 days to adopt a new habit — of self-love.

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I’m quickly approaching the 21 day-mark of being in a place where I’m living as the girl I used to be.

I’m remembering who she is.

And spoiler alert: she’s pretty awesome 🙂

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Spoiler spoiler alert: I don’t actually believe that. Yet.

But one day I will.

One day I will truly believe that.

Who knows. Maybe by the time these 21 days are up, I’ll believe that in my soul. Let’s hope. I’ll let you know.

Today could be your day one. Today could be day one of your journey to create a new habit of self-love. Self-acceptance. Self-forgiveness. Self-gentleness.

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I dare you to try it. 21 days from now will be July 28. That’s seriously not far AT ALL.

Your life could change before August.

21 days.

Day one.

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Being the Girl in the Video

As many of you know, this summer, so far, has been pretty busy for me. I’m just getting back from filming a TV pilot, as well as a music video. (Not a trashy video – a country one!)
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And I want to thank you guys for all the supportive and encouraging comments across social media. You guys are the best 🙂

There’s a stigma about actresses: that they’re vain, self-centered, and uber-appearance-obsessed. When I think of a stereotypical “actress,” I envision a chic, Beverly Hills “Miss” with oversized sunglasses, prancing around thinking she’s God’s gift to mankind. And while, sure, that is true for a lot of actresses I’ve come across, it’s definitely not true for me.

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At the music video shoot this past weekend, I found myself in a very strange head space. In the video, I play the artist’s love interest. I’m supposed to be frolicking in a field, at a bonfire, snuggling up to the male artist. And, to be blunt, I’m supposed to be his “beautiful crush.”

This shoot was really hard for me. Why? Because I still don’t believe I’m beautiful.

It was almost an out of body experience for me. There’s a point in the video where I have to kiss the lead, and I overheard one of his friends talking to him between takes, saying “Dang, man! I wish I were you!”

And I had to stop for a second and process: they were talking about me.

Living in a “post-ED-mindset,” I still to this day battle a lot of demons about my self-worth and body image. I’ve said it before, but the Voice of ED never truly silences, I just get stronger at beating him back, and allowing Jesus to fill my heart with the truth.

But back to the music video. So all day long, I had to prance around, acting as though I believed I was beautiful and worth chasing after. I had to give off an air of confidence and mystery and poise. And I can do that, I mean – I’m an actor. But in my head, it was quite a different story.

Afterwards, one of the assistants was driving me back to the train station, and we were discussing the shoot. And we had been in the car for about two hours total that day, so we were opening up to each other, and we found that we both were “lacking” in the self-confidence department. And he said, “Wow, I would have never guessed.”

Sitting on the train, coming home that night, I started reflecting on the shoot.

Whenever I would talk to anyone about the project, I’d always brush it off, “Yeah, it’s a music video. I’m the lead girl – what were they thinking, right?” Or something like, “Yeah, I’m the lead girl – all the other actresses must have missed their auditions.” I would always be self-deprecating – like, I was chosen to be the “beautiful crush,” but it must’ve been a mistake, because I’m not beautiful. I’m not “lead girl” material.

And I wasn’t saying those things out of false humility or as a way to fish for compliments or affirmations. I actually believed it. And that was my ED beliefs manifesting themselves through my speech.

But I had a bit of an epiphany on the train. Even though I may not believe it yet, I am a beautiful girl. And before you scoff, just here me out.

I realized that, you know what, I am beautiful. It’s not because of my hair, or my smile or my skin. Those are nice, but they’re not what make me beautiful. That’s physical beauty.

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I have an inner beauty that makes me beautiful.

I have a brokenness that tells a story of victory. I have a spirit that has been wounded, and has been reborn. I have a heart that has been/is being mended by Jesus. I have a light that shines from my soul, which reflects Christ, who is dwelling there. I have a beauty that is all my own. And none of it is physical. And none of it comes from me.

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It all comes from Jesus.

Frolicking around and being chased after all day, it was different for me. It was living a life that I do not know. I felt as though I was living someone else’s life. Not my own.

And it was really interesting, because the longer I was in that head space: that confident, believing-in-my-self-worth head space, the easier it got. And there was one point at the end of the day, I was watching the playback in the monitor, and I almost didn’t recognize myself. Who is that beautiful girl? Surely, it isn’t me. But it was. I was that beautiful girl.

I wish I could say that feeling stuck with me. But, alas, I woke up the following morning the same as always.

But I am hopeful. I am a work in progress.

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Freedom from the prison of self-doubt is possible. And it all comes down to Jesus. I know that in order for me to truly know and believe that I have great worth and immeasurable value, and yes – beauty – I have to completely surrender my fears and guilt and shame about my ED past to Jesus. Because simply knowing that He already paid the price on the Cross for all those things, and that I am forgiven, and that I am a daughter of God, thus making me precious – simply knowing that isn’t enough. I have to believe it. I have to translate that into my heart, and let it transform my mind and heart and spirit.

I have to love myself enough to allow myself to believe it.

That is the battle, my friends.

That is war to be won.