Let’s Fly

There are certain moments in time that are just cemented in your brain. And I’m not just talking about milestone memories either — like weddings, graduations, winning championships etc. Because, of course.

No — I’m talking little moments. Meaningful episodes that stay with you forever.

I was reminded the other day, of a very precious point in time. In an instant, my mind was brought right back to the place, 13 years ago – at inpatient.

I think sometimes we underestimate the power our words have on others. The things we say, the way in which we make people feel. It matters. And it can leave a lasting impact – either good or bad.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Allow me to set the scene…

It was a slow Thursday morning, and I was working on the blog, and brainstorming content for Instagram. And I was flipping through my book, Bloom — which I do from time to time. It’s always a nice little reminder of where I’ve come from, and a good reminder of what my recovery from anorexia is centered in.

But the page I flipped to, recounted an episode at inpatient, when my mom and dad came out to visit.

Inpatient was not some stroll in the park. It was the most challenging, terrifying time of my life. I had over 30 pounds to gain. The things I saw and the stories I heard at are things I would not wish on anyone. There were some women there who were detoxing from drug addiction. I heard stories of sexual abuse and other horrific acts of violence. The veil of innocence was ripped from my eyes. And I was there for three months.

But one of those weekends, my parents were allowed to come and visit, and take me on a day trip in the surrounding area of Arizona.

It was the first time I had seen them since I had begun the recovery process. And additionally, the first time I had faced them since coming clean about my anorexia, and apologizing for the deceit and lie I had been living for the last two years during the eating disorder. So to say that I was a bundle of nerves to see them was quite the understatement.

On the one hand, I was so longing for the comfort and familiarity of home, in that sterile, frightening environment. But I was nervous for them to see how my body had been changing, and for how it would be to see them now that everything was out in the open.

I remember it just as it was yesterday. Not only was the greeting warm, but there was so much hope in the air, it was palpable.

We ended up driving to Sedona — we stopped a little nature preserve, and little shops along the desert high way. I remember we went to Olive Garden, and I was absolutely terrified to order off the menu. I got the spaghetti pomodoro — and we split a chocolate lasagna for dessert. I successfully hid the racing fears in my mind, and tried, as best as I could, to be in the moment.

But as we were driving back to the inpatient campus, my dad pulled the car over to the side of the high way. And proceeded to pull out of his pocket, a little figurine of a carved crystal owl taking flight off of a purple quartz rock. He had picked it up without my knowing, when we were in the shops in Sedona.

You see, owls were a special “thing” between my father and I. Every night, growing up, he would tuck me in for bed, and tell me a bedtime “owl story.” They were quick little tales about a little owl, and each story would have a moral at the end. He told thousands of them throughout my childhood. Each one different, each one just as special.

So as a result, to this day, anything owl related, holds an incredibly special place in my heart.

But back to the side of the road in Arizona…

He pulls out this little owl, and hands it to me, and looks me in the eye and says, “Caralyn, I believe you will fly.

Here was this incredible man that I had been blatantly lying to for the past two years during my eating disorder. He had been championing my healing that whole time, believing that I was truly sick from my Ulcerative Colitis — which was initially true. But then became a pawn, used for my eating disorder’s benefit.

But here was my father, whom I loved and respected so much — demonstrating to me the love and forgiveness of our Heavenly Father.

I mean – gosh – I’m writing this on an airplane right now, and I’m just sitting here in my seat with tears streaming down my cheeks just thinking about this amazing man.

I believe you will fly.

In that moment, in those five little words, my dad said more than he will ever know.

All the fear I was holding on to, all the anxieties about the weight gain, and the calories in that stupid chocolate lasagna, and the way my body was changing, the shame I had in my new shape, the guilt I carried in my heart — in those five words, it’s as though he cut loose all those weights I had tied around my neck.

I believe you will fly.

Not can fly. Not might fly.

WILL fly.

Even after all the deception and manipulation, and hurtful words, and lies, and outbursts of rage — he still believed in me. He still loved me. He still saw me as his precious daughter, whom he wanted the best for. And he forgave me.

When he gave it to me that day, for the first time, I felt something.

I had been spending the last two years during the anorexia bottling up all my emotions and fortifying the heart of stone I had adopted. I didn’t want to feel anything. I wanted to be a void of emotion. Numb. Empty.

And with that demonstration of unconditional love and forgiveness, I knew that everything was going to be okay. I, too, believed that, yes, I will fly.

Eating disorders, as with most adversity in life, can blind us to our potential. To our power. To our strength and will to thrive.

And to have someone champion you, and remind you of your worth and capability — it matters. It can change an outcome.

We never know the impact something we say or do can have.

This world is full of so much negative noise, we need more voices of truth.

My dad is my hero. He loved me when I was at –what I believed – was my most unlovable.

He showed me that just because I was at rock bottom, I didn’t have to stay there. He reminded me that I could change the outcome. I could pick myself up, brush myself off, and be the woman God made me to be.

He reminded me that I have a life to live. Not just a mediocre one. But a life of abundance. A life where I will fly.

I have been blessed with two wonderfully loving parents. I honestly don’t know what I did to deserve them, but I am so grateful for the love they pour out every single day.

We are all on our own journeys. Ups and downs and triumphs and set backs — if you need to hear this today, I want you to know, that I believe you will fly, too.

We are never stuck. We are never too far gone. There is always, always hope. Tomorrow is a new beginning. Heck, right now is a new beginning. And we are never alone.

Just like my dad reminded me that day, we have a Father who will love us no matter what. His love and mercy and forgiveness is wider than the ocean. All we need to do is open our hands, and accept His gift.

Let’s fly.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia.  Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.

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BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

150 thoughts on “Let’s Fly

  1. Your story about time in Arizona is heartwarming. I live not far from Sedona, in Prescott, and go “over the mountain” fairly often. I will order a copy of your book, when my next paycheck comes-in a few days.

    1. Thank you friend. I appreciate that. What a beautiful place to call home!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Jeff! I appreciate you reading it! The plane is just landing now and I have mascara stained cheeks from writing it! Hahaha oh such is life!! Hugs and love xox

  2. What a beautiful story! My parents weren’t so aware back in the 1970s (not their fault), but they were also my rocks. I try always to live by their example for my daughters as well ❤️❤️

    1. Hi Paula! Oh thank you so much 🙂 we were blessed with rocks 🙂 yes!!! That’s so beautiful. Thanks for stopping by!! Hugs and love xox

  3. Beautiful post Caralyn. It is such a blessing to have People in our lives who support, encourage and are just there for us no matter what. May we remember to be that rock of person to someone else too.

    1. Aw thank you so much – you’re absolutely right about that. Those people are angels on earth. Yes!! We pay it forward! 🙂 have a beautiful night! Hugs and love xox

  4. I got choked up when you told us those 5 words! Yes, it’s the smaller moments that can really change our lives. I’m reminded of Elijah meeting God on the same mountain that Moses did. There was an earthquake, a fire, and a stone-breaking wind. But how did God actually show up? In a still, small voice.

    Just like your dad.

    1. aww thank you Jeff! Yeah I was a blubbering bundle on the airplane! My poor seat mate! Yes!! Still small voice 🙂 hope you have a beautiful weekend my friend. Hugs to you and your girls xox

    1. Thanks so much Alice 🙂 wow you are too kind!! I’m very touched by your kind words 🙂 big hugs to you xox

    1. Thank you so much Hannah! I appreciate you taking the time to read it! Hope you have a beautiful evening! Hugs and love xox

  5. That’s so beautiful. It made me cry. I’m not sure why, but it reminded me of when I worked in residential treatment facilities for abused and mentally ill kids and teens. One unit was all male sex offenders, and some of the boys on the unit were eleven years old and prepubescent. The hardest part of putting them to bed every night (I worked third shift) was getting them to quit playing hide-and-seek under their beds. (Each boy had his own room to stay in, and they weren’t allowed into each other’s rooms, but these kids were easily entertained. Like, “Look, I’m hiding under my bed instead of sleeping!” Too adorable.) Most of the other patients on that unit were older, going up to eighteen. There was one boy in his mid-teens who worked so hard to overcome his issues. He also was allowed to help in the office, and this was a really high-security place. He’s still an inspiration to me. Well, they all are. I’d read their files as I was supposed to, and the content was terrifying.

    As a teenager, I was never in long-term care like that, but I had several brief visits in mental hospitals. My mother was quick to remind me recently that they weren’t mental hospitals. Rather, they were behavioral centers for poorly behaved teens. Gee, thanks, Mom. And why was I so poorly behaved? Well, the joke’s on my mom there. She phoned me at the hospital once, when I was in high school, and a nurse handed me the corded phone. After I said hello, my mom started shrieking at me and calling me names and being really, really mean. I think my mom assumed I had privacy, but the nurse was walking away until she heard my mom’s screaming through the phone, and then she turned and gaped at me, like, “What the freak?!” I just held the phone away from my ear and shrugged.

    After I got off the phone, the nurse pulled me aside and said, “We were going to say you’re all better and send you home tomorrow, but if you want, we can tell your parents and the doctor that you need some more help and keep you here a little bit longer.” [Wink, wink.] I took her up on it. That place was divine.

    Sorry to write a book! Your post just brought up a lot of stuff. Beautiful post! I’m glad you have such loving parents! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Meg for sharing your story. Wow – what a powerful line of work! You are truly a hero. I’m so glad you had such a positive experience. Sounds like those nurses were concrete angels 🙂 We all have our own personal journeys and it’s amazing how they can resonate so similarly. Thank you again for sharing your heart. Hugs and love xox

  6. I know you saw the poem I did earlier today about my own daughter. Emmy is of similar age to you. I can tell you as a father that a good parent never stops believing in his/her children, NO MATTER WHAT.

    Through the honesty of your posts, you will likely never know the number of lives you have touched. As a Catholic deacon, I send all God’s blessings your way. Hugs and love from Kentucky. — Mike

    1. Wow, Mike I am so touched by your incredibly kind words. thank you so much 🙂 Yes!! Sounds like Emmy is very blessed to have such a great dad! 🙂 Big hugs to you xo

  7. What a blessing to have a supportive dad! Decades ago I’d been scraping by in L.A. for over 2 years, trying to land a record deal, but in late ’79 I was broke, strung out and disillusioned with the path I’d chosen in life. I called home and told my folks I was moving back to Texas. My dad, who NEVER flew, said “I’ll be on the next plane.” During the drive back to Dallas we had the most honest discussions we’d ever had and I told him EVERYTHING. He never said a discouraging word but just kept reassuring me I could make a new start. I’ll never forget how relieved I was to know he truly understood, accepted and loved me regardless of where I’d been and what I’d done. God rest his beautiful soul.

    1. Thank you so much Rollie, for sharing this – wow, what an amazing dad. It’s always so empowering to have someone in your corner who believes in you 🙂 big hugs xox

  8. Very true. Reminds me of Proverbs. 12:25, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.” And 16:24, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” 😊

    1. Thank you so much Kenneth!! oh wow I love those verses so much!! :)have a great night! hugs x

  9. oof, my heart. I have felt so incredibly alone in my struggle lately, and tomorrow I have an appointment with a counselor specifically for eating disorders. I’m so frightened, but so ready to fly myself out of this trap I got sucked into.

    1. Thanks Natalie. You are not alone, friend. I’m cheering for you that you have that appointment tomorrow and will definitely be saying a prayer for you!! I was definitely afraid of going to therapists/counselors etc too, but it really helped to remind myself that they were on my team, and they want me to fly too 🙂 you’re awesome, friend and you’re reclaiming your life. tomorrow is the next step!! love that and love you! xoxo

  10. Thank you for sharing! I think this is one of your best posts to date. There is so much in it that can apply to so many situations. God bless you.

    1. Thank you! Wow that is so kind of you to say!! So glad it resonated with you! Hugs and love xox

  11. Ahhhh Arizona! 🔥 My dad is a hero to me as well. Sometimes our parents give us lifelong messages they don’t even realize they’re giving in the moment. Great post, keep flying. We all can with God’s GRACE. 🙏🏼

  12. The whole purpose of parenthood is to model what God is like. Some humans, flawed as we all are, do it better than others and your parents in a sense have saved you because of their exemplary behaviour. I don’t minimize the power of children’s choice to take advantage of good parent modelling in determining how life turns out though. What was probably most shocking to you in that place of recovery was the realization not all parents model God sufficiently or at all and that is the genesis of the sick world we see today. You have more than made up for your former choices in the ministry you do today. 🙂

    1. You’re so right about that — the role of a parent is so important! Thank you for saying that. I feel so blessed to have such beautiful role models and they definitely did save their daughter 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  13. I did my first free dive in Sedona. I think it was 51 feet. I was…twelve. It’s, a bit funny owls in my culture are like death messengers. You did a lot of Arizona in a day.

      1. Yeah. The canyons fill up on the reservation. There’s trout and carp at the bottom. It was funny, I finished a triathlon and a gas station attendant asked me to go noodling. Him and I were the only ones we knew that touched the bottom.

      2. Thanks. Grow up without TV you, live a little more I guess. That’s really cool you came here. I was just getting out of the military. Well. I was a part timer.

      3. Part time or full time, defending one’s country is a selfless act of service that deserves recognition 🙂

      4. Nah. I mean. Thanks. I already had a unique skill set, before I went. I don’t glorify any of my accomplishments. I just, happened to be there.

        I am sorry, you had to come to Arizona under duress. I still believe, if you had been at the hospitals I volunteered at I’d play cheesy board games with you. With made up rules and… awful prizes like, coupons.

      5. No never! Will have to keep an eye out for the different varieties! I didn’t know there were such things!

      6. There are 20 times more potato varieties than bananas. There’s about 500 edible banana types. My grandpa had a banana farm. He sold it and moved to Japan because, that’s what my family does. 😂

      7. Always, worked with food. Not, like you but kinda. I liked staring at stuff and imagining who will eat this. Even, in Napa Valley. In that way, it felt okay to work hard and make good food. You’re, up late. Night owl. 😂 Sorry.

      8. The nice part of old authors, no one’s heard of them. 😬 I read often on flights. Nothing kills a bad conversation like words on a page. When I was on a sailboat. I read so many books. Half my cabin space was just, books.

  14. May God continue to Bless you (and your entire family) – keep you in every way and be the wind beneath your wings!! Thank you for sharing! Georganna

    1. Thank you Georganna. What a kind thing to say. And same for you, my friend!! Have a beautiful night. Hugs and love xox

  15. What a touching tribute to your dad! I’m blessed to have read it!
    Thank you for letting me listen in to something so personal and precious!
    God loves you, Caralyn! And He loves your dad! <3

    1. thank you so much Gail!! He is my
      Hero 🙂 aww you’re the sweetest! Hope you have a beautiful night! Appreciate you stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  16. Oh my dear Caralyn what a tears moving story, my tears are runnging also now, because I can feel what it meant to you: “I believe you will fly” – there is so much in it, wordless love, pregnant with deep meaning in it, even a thin voice of God hidden in it – your father has never given up to believe in you and he packed his love into these few words to show you that there is goal, a task waiting for you, he injected love, courage and hope in these words and send them straight from his hearts to yours. A connection of a new dawn, living hope. To fly means also to get rid of a heavy burden that nailed you to the ground, the content in it: let go and be as light as bird, detach from all old burdens and false imaginations – this was indeed a wonderful message which had an impact to you like a tsunami with strong waves of courage to see a new island of bliss. Really, my friend, it has touched me deeply too right now.

    May God continuously give the shower of His blessing to you all.
    A warm hug from my heart to you
    Didi

    1. Aw thank you Didi. Yeah I got really emotional writing it on the plane! My poor seat mates! Haha but truly thank fly for such kind words. Amen – detached from all old burdens! So glad this resonated with you. Grateful for you, my friend. Have a beautiful weekend and sending all the warm hugs xoxo xoxo

    1. Thank you Lesley, yes he is such a good person and someone i look up to very much! Hugs and love xox

  17. Beautifully written as usual, and uplifting. Especially as I am sitting in a hospital room, awaiting the arrival of my cardiologist to see if he is satisfied with all the poking, prodding, scanning and experimenting done this week. If so, I won’t be flying today, but walking out of here will feel like it. Not only does our Father always love us, He is in control, and I asked asked Him this morning to get me out of here. I am doing my best to trust He will, and if He doesn’t there is a good reason. Again, well done!

    1. Thank you so much S. Oh gosh, I’m sorry that you’re going through that. I will definitely be keeping you in my prayers as the test results come in. Let’s hope you get the ok to leave today! Sending so much love and hugs xox

  18. I didn’t expect this. Some people should be cautious reading your words if make-up has been applied. My Dad is similarly wonderful. It is easy to wonder how we got so lucky or blessed. I’m glad your Dad is as he is. I lost my Mom. I never say she ‘was’ my Mom, our parents remain so until we leave here.

    1. You’re right – easy to wonder why we’ve been so blessed. I’m so sorry for your loss – you’re right – they are always our parents. And how sweet will the reunion be when we are all together again one day 💛 Thank you for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

      1. Thank you, me too. Tragic losses create many “would’ve, should’ve & could have’s” it was my tearful pleasure to stop by. Wishing you the best

  19. Your transparency is refreshing, Caralyn. I have a daughter who is a recovering Heroin addict, and it’s difficult to see her struggle. I am reminded, of just how powerful, a father’s word’s can be. My hope, is that I can point her to her heavenly father, yet be an example to her in her battle to find that right path.

    1. Aw thank you friend. And thank you for sharing that. I will definitely keep her in my prayers. You’re right- pointing her to Him is the best thing you can do! I’m so glad she’s chosen to walk the recovery road! And how blessed is she to have such a wonderful parent in her corner 💛 Hugs and love xox

  20. Do I need to say how I feel? You have lived and handled all there is for anyone to have experienced. You are very fortunate to have parents as part of your support system. You are blessed and are all that any man would wish to have as a partner. He is out there.

    1. Oh gosh thank you so much. You’re so right – I am so blessed to have them and I thank Hod every single day for them. And my goodness what a kind thing to say — that truly means a lot and let’s just say, I needed to hear that today. Have a beautiful weekend. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. You’re so right about that! The smallest gestures! Hugs and love xox

  21. Thank you for sharing this powerful story. WOW. It is palpable. And my Dad and I have a special animal too – dolphins. Your journey continues to amaze me.

    1. Thank you so much! I’m so glad it resonated with you 🙂 awww yay – dolphins!! I appreciate your encouraging words! Hugs and love xox

  22. simple truth can conquer most everything, but having the belief to follow that truth is where the struggle resides… as always, thanks for the reminder, I try everyday to take a look around, it is so easy to get lost in our own journey, to easy to forget the ship we are on is beyond words, beyond beauty…

    1. Your Dad certainly models the Father’s love. It is moving to read…

      As mentioned, I was thinking about your blog in some contemplation, and of people’s love. So many people connect with you, and your story. Including many kind guys, and gentle-men. You are such a good communicator. You are relatable and safe, generous, fun and kind…
      Given, *I wonder whether there’s a way to connect people with ED sufferers in their local area.* A huge topic! With possibilities and pitfalls, no doubt. I would think on a church community, operating with others and a lot of care.
      No doubt something for prayer 👀; and with thanks for what God is already doing, and has done…

      OK, enough from me 🙂

      1. Thanks again David, I’m touched by your kindness. And what a great idea!!

  23. I miss reading your work. I love your words and thoughts. You make me feel I can do better. Us, as parent. We must teach our children to be brave. I told my four children, travel, test life and have fun. My father told me often. Education, education and more education. Never allow anyone to look down at you. Thank you for you and and wonderful words and video. I hope you are doing well and having a lot of fun.

    1. Hi John! Oh gosh what a kind thing to say. Thank you For this wonderful encouragement. Hugs and love xox

  24. Just today, I Andy who writes AndyBSports.com saw your like of my post re Wilt Chamberlain. I read your post and am so impressed and inspired. You and your family are inspirational. Let’s stay in touch.

    My best,
    Andy B.

    1. Oh wow thanks so much Andy! I’m glad you stopped by this afternoon! Absolutely! Hugs and love xox

  25. Profound post and one I needed today as I struggle through my own recovery. Very happy to have stopped by after a long hiatus; I hope you are well and look forward to visiting and learning from your experiences. Stephen

    1. Thank you Stephen, I truly appreciate that. And I’m so glad this resonated with you. Cheering for you and your recovery!! Hugs and love xox

      1. Thank you so much Caralyn. I have recently written and posted a poem called November which reflects this idea of flying when everything feels barren.

        Comparing recovery to seasons or months, the early stages felt like October when the tree was stripped of all its leaves. Sure the process looked beautiful with its colors and transitions. Then November arrived. The beauty now just detritus on the ground awaiting frost and winter before spring arrives to begin turning those leaves into soil that the buds of a new life grow through.

        November in this regard is the hardest. I hope my poem reflects this idea adequately and do hope you take a look.

      2. It is a unique and beautiful process that is both challenging and rewarding

  26. Thank you for this. Here lately I’ve been wanting to quit my vocational rehab program. You give me courage to keep trying. Thank you for that. Hugs xxx

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