Tag Archive | strength

What Are You Afraid Of?

I used to be afraid at night. Afraid of the dark. Afraid that just beyond the point my eyesight allowed me to see that there was something lurking. Afraid that the darkness itself would somehow surround me and swallow me up…as if darkness were anything more than simply the absence of light.

I used to be afraid of tomorrow. Afraid that who I was would continually dictate who I am, and that who I would be might be someone who I didn’t like very much at all…as though there was no such thing as being made new.

I used to be afraid of opinions. Afraid that though words would not break my bones, they certainly would shatter my dreams…as though I started doing this for the approval of many, rather than the glory of One.

I used to be afraid of failure. Afraid of losing. Afraid of falling. Afraid of being wrong, creating busts, and looking absolutely stupid, because who am I to think that I could ever actually make a difference? As if those setbacks were anything more than the laying down of stepping stones on the path to success.

I used to be afraid.  Used to.

But then I did a little research.  And by that, I mean I re-searched, and I re-searched, and I re-searched, over and over again, and through all of my re-searching, I kept coming up with the same exact question:

What room does fear have?

What room does fear have when I cling to TRUST? What room does fear have when I lean on HOPE? What room does fear have when I search for something more, when I discover and realize what’s good, and when I stand in AWE? When I run with PERSEVERANCE, when I walk by FAITH, and when I rest in COMFORT. What room does fear have when I sing with PRAISE, when I take hold of INSPIRATION, explore the POSSIBILITIES, and step into FREEDOM? What room does fear have when I discover STRENGTH, EMBRACE COURAGE, REMEMBER PEACE, DECLARE TRUTH, CHOOSE JOY, EXPERIENCE LIFE and CONQUER DEATH? What room does fear have when I find perfection in the one place I never thought to look? In weakness, when I’m saved by the most unlikely of heroes. By grace, when I’m invited into a relationship more loving and intimate than I could ever imagine, as a child of God.

I’ll ask you again: what room does fear have when I step out of the darkness, and I bask in the light? When I let the past be the past and the future has no limit. When they can talk all they want, but their opinion doesn’t matter! And when failure is nothing more and nothing less than the road by which I walk my path to success.

I’ll ask you one last time: what room does fear have when in His Word, He tells me three hundred and sixty-five times DO. NOT. BE. AFRAID. As if I needed to hear that every single day. And as if that’s how many times I needed to hear it before I finally believed it.

What room does fear have when I make room for LOVE?

What are you afraid of? 

 

-Jon Jorgenson

 

Here is the video if you want to watch him speak it.

Motivation

There are days where you get knocked down by one thing after another. You forget your lunch at home and you know your dogs already ate it, so there is no use in turning around (it’s happened). Or maybe all the hard work you put in on a project at work gets overlooked, leaving you feeling stranded and unseen. But if you really think about it, you are in control of your choices and they are ultimately yours. As we go through life making our choice, strong, motivational quotes from powerful people can give you a new outlook. Here are 14 that will challenge you to be the best you can be. These can apply to any aspect of life… from recovery… to a new job… to trials we face!

  1. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. — Maya Angelou1
  2. Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences. — J.K. Rowling
  3. The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. — Ayn Rand3
  4. I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it. — Estée Lauder4
  5. Power’s not given to you. You have to take it. — Beyoncé5
  6. I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done. — Lucille Ball6
  7. If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one. — Dolly Parton7
  8. You can’t give up! If you give up, you’re like everybody else. — Chris EvertRR
  9. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. — Jane Goodall9
  10. I choose to make the rest of my life the best of my life. — Louise Haybest
  11. If you don’t like being a doormat then get off the floor. — Al-Anon11
  12. Drama is very important in life: You have to come on with a bang. You never want to go out with a whimper. — Julia Childmisty
  13. Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim. — Nora EphronRR2
  14. A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want. — Madonna14

On Addictions In Our Lives

This is actually an old post that is edited, so if’ you’ve been “around this town” for a while, it might look slightly familiar…. yet different 🙂

Addictions came up this Thanksgiving when I went back home to visit my family. I realized a lot about my family (and myself) and it was a bit of a tough time. I have been struggling as I have been reflecting on the things I saw, learned, and realized about myself/family. I went back to read what I previously wrote and it has actually helped me try put things into perspective.

I was listening to a Joyce Meyer podcast on my way to work and what was said really hit me quite hard. The topic was about emotional healing but the focus was on addiction. It was how addiction changes us and affects us as we are trying to live our life.

When referring to addiction, for me, I’m talking more about the addiction of over exercise and weight loss; anorexia. Addictions come in many forms and manifest in different ways – work, alcohol, sex, drugs, food, exercise etc. just to name a few.

A few small comments about addiction really made so much sense, and it got me thinking. I was well aware about my addiction to exercise/weight loss and what it has done to my life. There really isn’t an addiction that is great or that will do something positive for a person (unless it’s an addiction to your faith). Addictions control a person’s being from the core. When you are addicted to something, it lets go of the person we really are and also lets go of our purpose in life.

When I was obsessed with weight loss at the depths of anorexia, nothing else mattered. My day was focused on when I will work out, how much I will run, what food I will eat and what my estimated weight loss of the day could be. My purpose in everything else was lost. The addiction becomes your only purpose and that purpose is empty. It’s an emptiness in us that is filled quickly by immediate gratification and more emptiness. The different between addictions and things we do (habits) is when we can’t function without thinking about it. When your purpose is based around that addiction, it is something that is no longer positive in your life.

old you

Addiction is obsessing over and worshiping what is comfortable. It’s easy to stay in the same place when we are comfortable (and by “comfortable” I mean we are used to it). It’s difficult to change – anything! But that comfort of “I don’t want to have to do _____ and start over” is dangerous when it is severe enough to stop us from making happy and healthy decisions. It is very easy to fall apart and stay in the addiction, what is hard is working to make the change it and keep it together.

Many of us are ashamed to admit our addictions. The secret of our addiction is what keeps us sick in the moment. We are not able to heal until we are open about it. That’s why AA meetings start with “Hi my name is ______ and I’m an alcoholic.” (I could be totally wrong, but I have had enough therapy that I’m pretty sure that’s the case!) When you can take the power from the secret, you are well on your way to understanding that addiction and not allowing it to be your purpose in life. Exercise, weight loss and anorexia was my “purpose” every day until I was able to look at my psychologist and say that I have a problem, and this is out of control, and this is no longer “an eating thing” that I am controlling. Yes, for QUITE SOME TIME I called my anorexia “an eating thing”…. And I worked so hard to convince her that is just what it was…. I was in control! <insert sarcasm> Truthfully, it was controlling my life. It was controlling my every day. My purpose in life was lost. It was more important than my husband, my poodles, friends, who I was as a teacher and woman of God.

[Admittedly…. I’m addicted to standard poodles and spoiling them as well! 🙂 ]

Sophie, Remmington, Bella

Sophie, Remmington, Bella

 

Often we choose an addiction as a means of survival. It feels like it serves a purpose for quite some time. And, truthfully, I think it does. I think it is a coping skill that is there to keep us trying to work with/deal with/avoid something painful. What is that pain? It’s different for all of us. Trauma, family struggles, emotional struggles etc. That addiction is something that we do in efforts to survive in some way, shape or form. It becomes dangerous when it is a part of us – when it is something that we can’t see ourselves without. When I started running everyone thought it was great and gave encouragement, and understood why I couldn’t meet them because I had to get 10 miles in…. but it quickly moved to something I had to do every night, or there was some sort of despair attached for my failure.

One of the hard things I had to try to figure out is that my addiction to losing weight and exercise was not a reflection of who I was as a person. As I previously stated that my purpose in life was lost (because addiction sucks it out of you), it also makes you believe that you are not worthy of anything. Addiction has an amazing way of making you feel a shame (so deep that you almost feel it physically in your core) for being “bound” to the addiction. Being “bound” or “chained” to an addiction is not a reflection of you as a person. It is a maladaptive coping skill because you don’t know how to deal with things when it gets tough – when you’re scared, anxious, stressed, nervous, depressed etc. It has nothing to do with your worth. Your addiction has absolutely nothing to do with your worth or who you are as a person, it only has to do with how you react to situations in your life. Go back and read that sentence again.

So where do you go when addiction has become such a problem in your life? People love miracles. We want so badly for God to deliver us from whatever struggle we have. Sometimes we want to bypass all of the struggle because it’s so tough. Admittedly, I wanted to bypass everything – I still do at times! This is where patience is key (if you haven’t read my post on patience, it might be purposeful). Each time I try to have patience, but want to move through this process quickly, my psychologist is quick to remind me that the healing is in the learning. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to be delivered from the pain and struggles of the path of recovery. At times, it sucks eating, gaining weight, adding variety and figuring out if I’m over exercising (and by “at times” I really mean ALWAYS). She has taught me that I can’t make recovery stick until I learn and go through the process. Moving through the process is where the learning and change comes. I can’t fast-forward to being recovered because I’ll never understand the core of this issue. I have found this to also be true in faith. The patience, faith, trust and learning comes in the struggle. God doesn’t give you the struggle, but He does give you the learning in the struggle so there is meaning in the end.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we want clear answers, but sometimes we won’t get it. As much as we want to be delivered, there are times when maybe our journey is to just go through (as much as that feels terrible). If we want to move out of the “comfortable” spot, we have to allow ourselves to feel uncomfortable. We have to be willing to disturb the “peace” in our life in order to make the real and true peace happen. Real and true peace is impossible with an addiction. It is impossible when we are bound by something. We can’t live our life by our feelings. If we lived by our feelings we would miss out on so much! If we want find happiness, we have to move from trying to survive….. to working to thrive. I truly believe that is the only way to reach true happiness.

 

I Decided To Stop Hating My Body!

Summertime – it’s here. The warm sun and the endless outdoor possibilities is what we have waited for through this tough winter! With summer comes the inevitable… summer clothing and the dreadful summer body image.

 
Recently, on a hot day this spring, I spent 35 minutes looking for a dress to wear. I spent more time taking off and putting on dresses because there was something wrong with everything I tried on. One dress made my arms feel fat. Another made my stomach look fat. One made me feel like my legs were larger than the trunks of tress. Finally, after about 5 dress changes I had to commit to something. I had to get out the door to get to church on time. I chose a dress and just walked out the door defeated by the fact that body image has been/and is plaguing me on a daily basis – and it’s not getting better quickly. As I chose the dress I wore that day I accepted the fact that the world would have to see (and accept) my “fat” legs with me.

 
I have found that I spend more time disliking my body instead of appreciating it. Finding body appreciation is hard (it sometimes feels impossible). As I journey near the end of recovery I found that I don’t have to “love” my body in order to appreciate it. As I thought about trying to appreciate my body I began to think about what appreciation means.

 
ap•pre•ci•a•tion
/əˌprēSHēˈāSHən/
noun
1. the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something; gratitude for something.
2. a full understanding of a situation.

 

I have been thinking about the wrong meaning of the word. My therapist frequently talked about “appreciating” my body. Each time I tried to think about appreciating my body, I thought about the idea of “liking” it, and how difficult that was. Appreciation does not mean liking. I’m not there yet – but that doesn’t mean I won’t get there. I can look at that definition and I can find good qualities, an understanding of, and gratitude for my body and what it is and what it can do.

 
My awful web of body image will not unravel slowly. As I work on myself, I’ll be bombarded with the expectations of society and the media. The body image issues did not happen overnight, so I can’t expect them to be cleared up overnight as well. The one thing I can do is free myself of the expectations I have and allow myself to just “be”.

 
As I look for body appreciation I find that it can only be located in the focus of strengths of a body instead of the weaknesses. It’s critical to see all the strengths. Instead of saying: “my hip is taking forever to heal from surgery”….. I have to reframe it and say: “I am finally able to start running and increase my hip strength”. The longer I continue to shame my body, the more stuck in the web of body image I’ll be.

A Letter To My Body: I’m Sorry.

I have been thinking about this idea for a while. I never got around to it. It kept slipping from my mind because I really do avoid thinking about body image. It’s a sore spot. Recently, in therapy, it came up and I didn’t realize how much of a sore spot it was. Since that session, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I’ve tried it all… nothing seems to work. Body image is now plaguing me! It now has to be dealt with, and there is no running from it.

In trying to figure out how to get relief and start healing. I decided to acknowledge what I’ve done to my body. I decided to look back and come to terms with it all. I decided to write an apology letter for all that I’ve done. I’m trying to learn how to appreciate my body for what it is, so logically, I should start by apologizing to it!

As I was writing and realizing all I’ve done, I re-read this letter and imagined if I were writing this letter to a friend. Our bodies are our friends, right? As I wrote, I realized how terrible this letter would sound if it were going to a close friend of mine. I would never treat any friend this way, but it was okay to do it to my body; myself?

With that said…. Below is the letter to my body.

 

Dear Body,

Let’s clear the air and talk about the elephant in the room. There has been some tension between us. I think most of it is my own doing. I have to admit, I feel like a complete hypocrite. I find beauty in other women’s bodies, and try my best to encourage them to see the beauty in it, when all along I was ashamed of you. I’ve been so focused on your “imperfections” when I should have seen what you’ve done for me.  

I am so sorry for the way I’ve treated you through the years. I’m sorry that I thought you were never good enough. I’m sorry for what I’ve said to you; yelled at you. That you’re too fat, not strong enough, too muscular, not thin enough, not flat enough, too soft.

It would be easy for me to point my finger at our Western culture and say that the messages sent by the media did it all. That would be a lie. Sure, they didn’t help, but some of the decisions I made were my own. I’m sorry that I allowed the photoshopped images to tell me that you weren’t good enough. I’m sorry that I never focused on what we could do together.

I’m sorry I don’t love you yet. I’m sorry I don’t appreciate you the way I should. I do have to be honest; you’ve done a lot for me. You’ve done so much for me, and I have not repaid you in any way. In fact, I have punished you for what you’ve given me.

I punished you for not listening to me, not reacting the way I expected, not giving me what I want. What I didn’t realize is that every decision you made was to save my life. When I wanted your number to get lower, and you wouldn’t budge, I was angry; furious; but it was for my own good. It was to save my life. I’m sorry that I didn’t (couldn’t) see it. I’m sorry that I revolted against you and just punished you further because I was sure you just didn’t get it. I do see it now.

I’m sorry for trying to “fix” you. For trying to take control and change who you really are. For depriving you of what you needed while feeding you the exercise I thought you should use. I neglected to give you the bare essentials that you needed, but you were still there for me. Even though I took from you, you still protected me.

I’m sorry for thinking you failed me in the past. When I was little. When I got injured. When I was trying to recover from surgery. I’m sorry I was angry with you for what you really didn’t do. I realize that you didn’t fail me… instead, I wasn’t listening to you. For the most part, you have done what was asked, and I only focused on your failures. You sent me critical messages that you were in a crisis, and I ignored you. I thought you were weak when things became dangerous. I was angry that you couldn’t keep up with my terrible regiments. I’m sorry. You were trying to save me.

I’m sorry for not trusting you. For thinking that I know better, and that you didn’t have the understanding of what was important. I’m sorry for letting you down when all you were trying to do is support me. Trust isn’t something that comes lightly, and I ignored what you tried to give me. I understand why you don’t trust me. After all of this, who would?

I’m listening now. You are a precious gift given from God. I only get one “vehicle” in this life, and it’s time to really appreciate who you are, and what you can do. You’ve carried me through 31 years of my life, and you’ve promised to continue doing so, without me asking. You just want me to take care of you.

I know our relationship is a work in progress. I’m really trying here. I will try. I will work. It’s not that I don’t want to love you, because I do. I really do. I will learn to appreciate you for what you can do; what you have done. It’s time. Time to stop criticizing you. Time to focus on your strength.  Time to appreciate you. Time to embrace you. It might take a little work, but I’ll get there.

Hopefully soon I’ll be writing you again… but this time… a Thank You letter acknowledging how much I appreciate you and all you’ve done.

Until then…  please know that I do really care.

Sincerely,

Rachel

My New Lifestyle

 

The “gluten free” life.

It’s all the fad, right? Everybody’s doing it.

Finally, after so long, my dietitian has helped me figure out that I have gluten intolerance! This has become such a relief to my entire digestive track!!

So, finding out about this intolerance has helped me accept many things. Eating gluten free is a huge adjustment. There are many foods that are naturally gluten free, but also many common foods that aren’t.

I could sit here and explain how I feel better eating gluten free, how it has helped my digestion and pooping (yep, I went there), how I figured out that I needed to change… blah, blah, blah… but that doesn’t help anyone…. Google it if you want to know how it changes/helps people. My experience with being gluten intolerant is very different from the next person (yet still very similar…. Oh, and that was deep).

Truthfully, reading blogs help when you can relate it back to yourself somehow….

So, with that being said, what has being gluten free taught me?

To welcome change.

With a new diet, comes new foods…. and changes. Like a diabetic, change has to happen in my diet. I have found that it’s easy to make changes when you’re forced to do so. It’s easier for people to make changes when it’s forced by a doctor, medically necessary etc. We may not like it, but we do it because we “have” to.

It’s a life lesson to learn to make changes on your own, and that is something I’m learning. I will say, it’s much more pleasant in your life when you choose the change, and make it happen. When you make the adjustment by choice, it becomes easier to accept over time because you can’t be bitter toward yourself for doing something. Change is the only constant in this world, and until we accept it, we will keep fighting the inevitable. If you want to read more about my deep thoughts on change, feel free to do so here.

 

To eat for health.

I’m learning to eat for fun and for health – and have a balance of both. Sometimes people lean to extremes (all healthy or all unhealthy), but a balance is what is really needed for a happy and healthy life. All food groups are important – including lipids! (yep… I drank that kool-aid) I’m also learning, (as I accept balance), to have everything in moderation. Apparently, it’s not acceptable to eat Chocolate Chex for dinner each night as it does not hit the proper food groups 🙂 I believe this is still up for debate, but many others (my treatment team…ahem) will disagree.

 

To add variety.

As humans, we are creatures of habit! I’m not just speaking of recovery, but in life. We have routines and when they are altered it can affect us and throw us off. I’m learning that routines are great/helpful/necessary, but when they are rigid, problems arise. We all need consistency, but it doesn’t have to rule our life.

I’m learning variety in my meal plan, daily schedule and exercise. Truthfully, it spices up life. In all honesty, my body has been responding to variety – in what final way?? not sure…. but I have to trust that it is appropriate.

 

To go out of my safety zone.

This new life has made me completely adjust how I eat. I can’t stick to the regular foods I always ate (turkey sandwiches with cheese). I have to get creative! Going out of my safety zone means trying new things and cooking!!! If you are unaware of my most recent terrible experiences with cooking, you can read about them here.

I’ve had to push myself to get out of my safety zone. I’ve had to explore different types of foods to meet the needs of my meal plan. I’ve had to try different foods and prepare foods, I’ve never attempted before.

magic happens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it scary? Yes.

Is it worth it? YES!

I’ve been lucky enough to find foods and recipes that I enjoy. I won’t lie, when I prepare food it looks like a bomb has gone off in my kitchen, but I’m still taking baby steps 🙂

 

To stand my ground.

Let’s be honest, it’s not easy being gluten free. I have to be creative at restaurants and I have to use my voice as well. I have to ask for what I need and be able to see BS when it hits me in the face when people are trying to act like they know what they are talking about when it comes to food (when they clearly don’t). I have to be sure I don’t eat gluten and see it as a health issue. I have to come to my own defense in all food situations. This type of defense transfers over into other areas of life as well.

 

To accept my body.

We have very complex bodies and that is something that is amazing. It’s amazing because even at my sickest, my body worked its little butt off to make sure I survived the hell I put it through. My body wanted to live and thrive. It slowed my metabolism to save energy, put all nutrition into my vital organs because they had to continue working, and it caused unpleasant issues and red flags to say that what I was doing wasn’t okay. In fact, now…. Because I had restricted for so long…. I couldn’t lose a pound to save my life!!!! It will literally shut down my metabolism because it knows what I did in the past. That is amazing if you actually think about it!

My body is screaming that it can’t handle gluten. I have to listen to that and trust it. I don’t have a choice. For so long, I tried to control what I thought my body needed, and it is taking back control. I can ignore it and spend hours in misery, or I can accept what it needs and do it.

I can either work to love myself, or hate myself….  I choose to work to love myself. It’s a choice I have to make every day. Some days it’s easier than others.

 

 

There are many other ways a gluten free life has helped me, but nobody wants to read posts that are too long. These reasons highlight the majority.

Recovery from anything is a new life style and it comes with many benefits. Think about it…. What are the benefits for you?

Cooking Parallels My Recovery

I’ll be blunt… I suck at cooking. I burn everything and I have no patience in the kitchen. This is obviously something I have to try to get over, but it is also not the easiest when you are recovering from an eating disorder. I have my fair share of anxiety about handling food, but I have also realized that who I am comes out in cooking.

First, my cooking looks like blindfolded monkeys cooked in the kitchen when I’m done! It’s that bad!

 cooking

I have come to realize that my cooking parallels my journey through recovery! I have been trying to diagnose my cooking issues to understand why something things fall apart after cooking, aren’t cooked through or just turn out NOT like I expected (sometimes not edible).

At one point, I was discussing my cooking habits with my therapist and it all made sense… I skip steps. If anyone knows me, they know I often say, “I do what I want.” Really…. I do…. My entire treatment team has had to have so much patience with me because I will do it my way as I’m always sure that my way is the way that will work!

recovery my way

 

As I try to conquer cooking I have come to realize that my way is not always the right way (I will never admit that I said that to my treatment team – my secret is safe with the world, right?). I have times when I leave out steps in the process of following a recipe. I might think, “well, I don’t feel like sautéing first” or “it says put it on parchment paper, but I’m just going to go with a regular ‘ol cookie sheet”. I do this all the time. A recipe calls for “Xanthan Gum” — what is that? Seriously… if I don’t know what it is, it’s not going in my recipe.

This is a problem.

My cooking parallels recovery.

If I would just follow the directions of cooking (and not skip steps), my food would turn out something like it is supposed to. Truthfully, every step in the cooking process is important. Apparently that’s why they take the time to write it all out 🙂

The same goes for recovery.

If I would have just followed what my therapist said all along, I may have been recovered by now! Each step of the process (variety, meal plans, challenges, food prep etc.) is important…. It’s there for a reason.

Now, don’t get me wrong…. My slips and relapses were worth something; they put me back into the thinking I just hated and wanted away from. I learned something new from each relapse and it has kept me moving forward knowing how much the eating disorder does nothing for me.

As far as recovery, there were many times when I have tried to skip steps in this process. Admittedly, I remember calling my therapist from my car outside of skinny camp (partial hospitalization) telling her that I didn’t need to be there. I told her that I was not as sick as the girls there, that my eating disorder thoughts and actions were not as severe and that I should be allowed to leave. Truth be told – I was sick. The program at Hershey was a necessary step that I had to take in my recovery.

I am getting better with patience and learning patience in this process (still a long way to go with cooking). My therapist commented on why this process takes so long – she said that it takes time to make lasting changes. People who will truly recovery will be doing this for a while…. and it’s worth it.

Looking at this parallel — if I skip steps in recovery, much like cooking, I can expect to have a terrible end-result. It will be something that I can’t eat (pun intended), something burnt, uncooked or just gross. We get what we put in.

I’ve learned that skipping steps is not the best choice in anything! 🙂