Thank You

Today, I am thankful for music, and its power to heal. Thank you to my body, that has always carried me onward. Thank you for being the house to my soul and my stories and my baggage. It has been a load at times. You have always shown up, anyway.

I am so thankful to be here in this moment in time with my children. They are both loving, thoughtful, creative, colorful little people, and I love nothing more than knowing them.

Thank you for my daughter. Her glorious, magnificent life has been a catalyst for so much of my own work, and I will forever owe her a debt of gratitude. She is a radiant little person. She came into this world under less than ideal circumstances, and spent her first few months with me barely hanging on through postpartum depression and anxiety. She is so strong, and such a fighter. Thank you, life, that I get to know her.

Thank you for my son. He somehow came out with healing powers that work on me, every day. He is energy and light and brilliance and music and power. He brings me so much joy, and I am so thankful to know him and to share every single day with him.

Thank you for my husband, who has taught me to grow up and grow strong like no teacher before. Thank you for his love. Our marriage is complicated, but his love for me is not. I am so thankful for his partnership and friendship, and I thank him for co-creating our family with me.

Thank you for my legs, and thank you for my hips. Thank you for my feet, especially my left foot. Thank you for my ankles and my toes. To have these limbs is a gift. These limbs are trying very hard for me. Thank you.

I don’t spend enough time in gratitude to you, life. I am swept up and looking into the distance, and I am missing the mountain of magic that sits right before me. I am working on this.

Thank you.



Dear Andi,

This morning, I began cleaning the top of the bookshelf that sits beside Jim’s favorite chair in our living room. He had loose papers with bagpipe notes on them, books on golf, an old bow for one day playing your grandfather’s cello and the book your dad made after you passed, Updates on Andi.

I have read this book before, just a month or two after moving in with Jim, back in 2011. I remember reading it in bed, and being moved to tears at the way you shared yourself with courage and honesty during the most difficult time of your life. It wasn’t just that the book was compiled after you died, and reading your words meant an unhappy ending was on the way. It was that you were so very human, thoughtful, compassionate and brave, at a time that could have been filled with fear and darkness. Also, you were a mother.

I read the book again, today, now 8 years after your father died, and 11 years after you died. You were 35 when you died, with an almost 3 year old and an almost 5 year old. I am 38 with a 5 year old and a 6 year old. Your loss is all too real to me, and it was much harder to read your email updates on your diagnosis, prognosis and continued treatment. I ached for your 4 year old daughter, my niece, because I have a daughter who is very much like her. I wept for your 2 year old son, my nephew, because my own son was once 2 and oblivious to his mother’s challenges and pain.

I so desperately wish that we could have known each other, and after reading your words, I am sure we would have been fast friends. I married your brother 4 years after you died, almost to the day, and I would have loved sharing family life with you.

I walked around my house for an hour after reading your father’s book filled with your words. I thought about good luck and bad luck, coincidences and everything having meaning. I thought about God and fate and life and death. And Andi, I thought a lot about you.

Because even in death, you came to me this morning, and you reminded me to have faith, to have gratitude and to turn toward the light, always and again. Since my chronic injuries and pain began, I have lived with so much fear and anger. I have resented and blamed God, my choices and most of all, myself. I have felt unforgivable, and I have believed myself incapable of healing. I have been a victim and a survivor and a martyr and a warrior. I sometimes get lost in these identities; in these roles. But you came to me this morning, and you delivered to me a very important message, which I do hear loud and clear:

Be filled with love.

I so often forget to be thankful for this life I have been given. I so often forget that death is inevitable, and that the present moment contains everything I need. I take for granted my existence. I take for granted my very real ability to still heal and to still grow. I forget to say thank you.

Thank you, Andi. I needed this reminder, and I’m certain you were determined to give it to me. Even though we never met, I feel your love around my family, and your compassion for my husband, your brother. We have had our challenges in our marriage, and it has been hard to see the forest through those burly and overgrown trees. You would tell me to have faith. You would tell me to listen to my intuition. You would remind me to be filled with love. You would encourage me to pour my anger and grief into God. You would tell me to love and to be loved.

I wish we could have met, but somehow, I believe we know each other. Thank you for loving my husband, and for having so much compassion and empathy for him (I am very aware that you definitely did). Thank you for being his little sister. Thank you for being kind and loving and generous. Thank you for Reagan and Luke. Thank you for Peter. Thank you for living a life that leaves the kind of marks behind that cannot be erased, that can never be covered over.

I will do a better job of watching over our family, and I thank you deeply for watching over mine. We are mothers, and you are my sister. I will take care of your brother, and I will make sure he takes very good care of me.

With love and faith,



In case you’re where I am this week, here is your Wednesday reminder that:

You do not have to prove anything to anyone at any point in time.

It is not your job to convince people that you are good or right or enough. It isn’t your work to change other people. There are some people who will never be killed by your kindness, and there are some battles that are better not fought in the first place.

We each have our lanes, and we’d do ourselves a favor if we chose to stay in them as often as possible. Especially when we’re feeling sensitive and vulnerable and affected by life.


You are no longer a child who needs to work hard to earn love and attention.
You are not an object who needs to dance and perform for her dinner and dreams.
You are not here for harmony ONLY, for smoothing the way, for rounding out edges and corners and other jagged places that you are a witness to.
You are allowed to be disliked.
You are here to tell the truth.
You are allowed to disrupt and even tear down anything that no longer serves you.
You are here to learn courage.
You are allowed to cause discomfort.
You are here for trying and mistakes and bumbling around a bit.
You are allowed to make bad choices along your way.
You are here to do whatever it is that you are called to do.

No part of your existence is tied to one thing you did or one thing you didn’t.
You can reinvent and reimagine and be reborn any time you are ready and willing.

It’s amazing how much you can do when you aren’t trying hard to PROVE.

So many things are not about you. You do not have to participate in every cycle of news media or politics or new information. You don’t have to know what you think or feel about anything until you know what you think or feel about it. You probably won’t feel very satisfied with a life spent trying to interpret copious mountains of changing information in hopes of clearly separating right from wrong. The internet is like cake-it’s so much better in moderation or even sometimes not at all.

You don’t have to prove yourself or your body or your heart or your soul. Those things were put here TO GUIDE YOU. You are Not God. Your essence is already inherently good and true and enough.

Do not be a dancing pony. What other people think about you has nothing to do with you. Allow people to show you who they are, and believe them when they do. We have all got our crosses to carry, and you will not be able to carry yours if you are lugging for others.

There is zero value in striving toward an existence that is imaginary and futuristic. You could put down and be here now with yourself as you are, and it could be blissfully enough, although painfully quiet. Maybe you would enjoy the quiet once you got used to it. You won’t know until you try.

So much of your life is about mystery and magic, but if you don’t exhale and open your eyes long enough, you’ll miss it. Leave the stimulation to the stimulators, and be the ball of love and energy that you are and just roll onward as you must.



The Rising

If you had told me two years ago that I was just beginning to walk through the fire that would save me, heal me and lead me toward my SELF, I would have called an Uber, grabbed a bottle of Chardonnay and ridden off into the sunset of GTFO. Because pain, you guys. Hurts, you guys.

That’s the way healing works though, friends. You can’t heal without going into your pain and harvesting what hurts to make a salve that no one can make for you, and once you make it, you’ll be ready to BEGIN to heal. And, yes, that’s just the beginning. Then, it’s all waiting. Waiting for what you’ve learned to digest and process and make some sort of sense. It’s head-scratching kind of bullshit that makes you want to speed up time and go all the way back into revisionist history and be who you were before everything came into technicolor and you could not unsee and unknow that you were broken or breaking or bent.

But if you go into the pain, all the way down, and if you mine the hell that is down there and if you return back up to the surface and write your own ending and wait a while, there will come a time for you to stand again and stand taller and wider and prouder and stronger. You couldn’t have imagined yourself like this before all of this. You are whole, and what was broken and breaking and bent is enough. It’s just right. It hurts less and it makes you tall and it gives you wings and you have legs and they were always there but you could not feel them until now.

You used to feel a false sense of security, and it is gone. There is no ground, except your truth and your life and your unwavering devotion to yourself and to love and to your choices. You built this mountain inside yourself with your own two hands and no one could do it for you and no one can take it from you. You are riskier and you step without knowing where your feet will land. You don’t need validation or approval. You are here, and it is enough.

People show you who they are, and you believe them. You can love them and let them go. You can lose and live, anyway. You can grieve and ache and be blown to smithereens, and you are still here. There is the sound of your voice. There is the way of your walk.

You cannot be a perfect mother, and you no longer want to be. You have chosen the children, but the children did not choose you, and you can honor the responsibility without breaking under the weight of it. You can love and let go and give and give up, but never on the kids. You can show up when you are afraid and messed up and not sure, and you can be a whole person for your children so that they can be whole people with you.

No one is coming to save you, and you are so grateful because you did not need a savior, a hero or a rescue. You are not waiting for the perfect fit, the right match and all the ideal circumstances. Life is shaky and sudden and you are the wind or the water or the earth and even the fire, so you can move like this. You can stand or sit or lie down if you want to. No one decides if you are okay. No one has the key to your heart. You are the one you have been waiting for.

The world is looking at you and it has categories and labels and stories that it wants to give you and wrap around you and try on you, and you no longer work that way. It is tight and stuck and sweaty inside those boxes, and you are too big and wide and long. You stretch and reach and do not take on the weight of a world that cannot see you. You are big enough now to know better than to change yourself to fit the world, and you are big enough now to know that it’s your work to change the world, instead. Your daughter and your son are your reason, but also the child you once were. You cannot rescue or save, but you can work hard and you can show up and you can dismantle and smash and tear down, and you know this because you have already done it inside yourself.

It is painful and it is beautiful. You are aching and you are so proud. You are dark and light, night and day, sun and moon. You are so vulnerable and so willing and you have courage now. You are risky and shaky, but you have legs to stand on. And you can go and grow and do new things, which is a good thing, because there are many new things now waiting for you to rise up and begin.

To My Readers

One of the things I love about writing is having written. The process of writing itself? Often, it’s a pain or even ugly. I sit down with high hopes and big dreams, maybe even an outline and a plan, and after an hour and a lot of “freewriting,” all I have is what Anne Lamott likes to call a shitty first draft.

Sometimes, I can embrace the mess, but many times I cannot. I get into my feelings too fast and start drawing up hard and fast GENERALIZATIONS about who I am and who I am not. For example:


Who I am not? GOOD AT THINGS.

Who I am? CLUMSY.


This goes on. I carry the burden of being beneath my own ridiculous expectations with zero grace and tenderness. I walk away, pretend I never wanted anything I ever wanted anyway, guard my heart with hardened fists and give up.

Until the next time the call comes in to sit and put the words down, for the love of everything. Then, I put myself back out there and try again. Maybe this time I give myself more room to spread out and suck a little. Maybe this time I allow myself just to get the words out, without editing or refining or whining. I leave it as is, walk away and think, “Maybe there’s something to this calling? Maybe I’ve got a path to walk here. Maybe?”

This is the moment when I have to tether myself to process over perfection like a mother. It’s the time when I have to choose to protect my call to express with unwavering devotion. This is when the work gets interesting and the writing becomes an entryway to wholeness versus an open door to romance, looking good and easy, breezy times. This is when I see that to write, I have to stay open, and to stay open, I have to be kind. Being kind requires me to start with myself, and starting with myself means taking responsibility for my own healing and care.

Lord, how did I get this tangled? I tell you what-it didn’t happen at me or to me. I walked directly into this dumpster fire with my eyes closed (ON PURPOSE) and my hands tied behind my back (I’M MAGIC-I TIED THEM MY OWN DAMN SELF). Nobody told grown up me that to live is to sacrifice ONLY. I did that, y’all. Why? That’s part of my long walk home.

In any event, I have had to take a break from publishing my writing or even sharing it in any kind of regular way, because I needed, desperately, to be messy and complicated and incoherent and not fully formed for a while. I have needed to roll around inside 743 shitty first drafts and have zero pressure to edit, refine and make shiny. I still need this, and that’s why I journal. That’s why I teach and share the practice of journaling-because it gives me that SPACE (that I believe everyone needs) to spread out and be whole all by myself. It acts like an incubator, and it gives me the conditions I need to grow. I haven’t been hiding out-I’ve been spreading out, and I have more spreading out left to do.

I had a dream last night where I stood up at a no-name conference to talk about journaling and why it’s important. I was supposed to lead a group on writing and why to write and then how to write. I hadn’t prepared, and an hour before my talk was to begin, I put notes together quickly and wondered if I was about to have the bomb of my life. But when I stepped on stage, all the pieces came together. I started by telling a story about my own experiences in writing, and this is how it mostly went:

I grew up in Virginia Beach-a city filled with beaches and coastlines. When I think of that place, I think of the ocean, and how I used to love to stand in front of it or wade out into it and feel myself spread out into the vast expanse. If you look out across the ocean, all that’s left to see is more ocean and, of course, the horizon. There’s no next thing. There’s nothing to do about it. It’s all just there, spreading out, taking up space, being deep and wide and miraculous and itself. When I write, I write to be like the ocean. I write to be more of myself set against the backdrop of whatever I’m becoming. I write to take up space, to spread out, to be deep and wide and miraculous and large. I don’t write to sound nice or look fine or be good. I don’t write to get somewhere really good where everything is elegant and easy. I write because I am.

Writers everywhere can tell you that the way forward is sometimes just the slimey way through. The path to the story that’s relentlessly calling is laid with weeds and tangles and slippery stones. It’s not our job to hate on the way. It’s our responsibility to simply be on the way, and to give ourselves fully to the work we’ve been called to do.

Do not abandon yourself along the way (I repeat this to myself almost daily). Do not sabotage or deny yourself your purpose. Be afraid or embarrassed or uncomfortable, and then, be on your way.

Miss you. Mean it.




When my parents divorced, I was 3 and my brother was 6. My father’s mother had passed away just a year before, in the midst of their separation and divorce proceedings. He packed up the antique furniture she’d left him, searched out a plot of land in a rural stretch of farmland near a wildlife refuge and built us a house with both his own hands and the hands of those he knew and trusted.

We grew our own vegetables and picked plums and pears from half a dozen fruit trees. We wandered the woods, threw rocks into untouched, bubbling creeks and discovered frozen ponds and fluffy, earthen moss on long walks through what felt like our very own hidden forests and secret clearings.

We had only one TV, and it was 13 inches tall with broken bunny ears and without cable. We didn’t have a dishwasher, a microwave or a VCR. We hung our clothes out to dry, stacked wood to burn in the fireplace and rode bikes for hours down empty roads.

We lived simply.

Sometimes, we hated it. We knew about the things we were missing in the dynamic, exciting and far more stimulating world. Our mom had two TVs, cable, a functioning dryer, a fancy stereo system and neighbors within steps from our front yard. We knew about microwaveable pizza and Kool-Aid, the freedom of a life without weeding and constant yard work and the sound of kids jumping rope or riding skateboards around busy streets until well past sundown. We felt like our lifestyle didn’t fit in or make sense in the context of the busy, noisy world we were somehow growing into.

By the time I made my way to college, I ended up in New York City. I chose noise and stimulation, diversity, constant change and a bustling, transient environment to make my home. My brother moved to California, beside the ocean, where he shared a tiny apartment with his girlfriend and a roommate and spent every free moment surfing or swimming in the Pacific.

Later, I moved home to that house built on my father’s broken heart, in a farmland made with good soil for growing our weary souls. After 5 years in the city, I longed for an open sky and the sound of frogs or crickets only. I wanted to heal my shrinking body and put my bare feet in the tall, green grass and remember the thing that had saved me before I could understand ever needing to be saved:


Be Here Now

When I was 19, I went to see a therapist for the first time. I was anxious and secretly consumed by a growing eating disorder. I knew I needed help, and I was hoping that a professional would put me on the “fast track” to healing and “being okay,” for once and for all.

18 years, 4 therapists, 1 semester off of college, 3 massive relapses, 4 major moves, 10 years of yoga practice, 2 children, 1 marriage, 2 hip surgeries, 9 million pages of journaling and 1 year on crutches later, it FINALLY occurred to me that there might not be a FAST track to the kind of healing I was looking for, after all (EX-hale).

Maybe what was “wrong” with me wasn’t ever cure-able, because NOTHING was ever wrong with me to begin with. Maybe, the problem wasn’t with ME, but in how I knew or didn’t know how to cope. Maybe I didn’t know how to cope because I hadn’t yet learned how to. Maybe it took me a long time, and maybe it takes a long time. Maybe I confused what was “wrong” with what hurt, and maybe what hurt wasn’t bad or wrong or a sign of the apocalypse. Maybe it just hurt, and maybe it hurt so much that I thought it implied death. Maybe I was confused and human and doing my very best, and not a problem to be solved or a situation to be improved.

As Geneen Roth says, we aren’t problems to be fixed, after all. To say that there is something wrong with right where we are and just who we are is to refuse our lives, and THAT is a kind of spiritual suicide. There is no button that any one of us can press that will instantly make our lives feel better. If our lives don’t feel so good, that begs questioning, courage and maybe change. But it does not mean it’s the end. And it does not mean we’ve done something wrong. It doesn’t mean we’re bad or make sloppy choices or do stupid things. It means we’re alive. It means that we feel. It means that life isn’t about doing it all right or getting somewhere really comfortable or finally being free from challenge.

If we take ourselves off the treadmills and the tight ropes and stop stuffing ourselves into too tight quarters or closets or jackets and let ourselves EXIST, even momentarily, we might see that we’re just right. We’re perfectly alive. We’ve got skin on our bones that cover our organs that are working for us AND WE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE TO DO ANYTHING FOR ANY OF THAT. Except to be born.

Maybe we don’t know what will happen. Maybe we don’t know if we’ll ever feel better. Maybe we don’t know if our plans will ever come together, if we’ll ever truly heal or if we’re even getting anywhere from all of the moving around we’re doing. So, the most sensible thing to do is to be in the moment we’re in. Feeling our cells bobbing around inside our bodies, giving us a whole life to lead and follow. Trusting ourselves enough to feel whatever arises and trusting ourselves to let go when it’s time. We don’t know everything, but we can sense a lot of things, and that’s worth noticing. We know, in our hearts, that what the world doesn’t need is another woman striving endlessly and desperately to fix herself. The world needs deep compassion, radical love, acceptance and courage that comes from showing up as our WHOLE selves with our WIDE hearts and without apology.

We can stop working on getting somewhere and do something revolutionary. We can stop searching for the fast track, the quick fix or the long suffering road of self improvement, and we can look around at WHO WE ALREADY ARE when we aren’t trying so hard to be something or somewhere else. As Ram Dass once wrote, we can “be here now.”

Learning to Heal

Two years ago, I awoke after hip surgery and learned that a 2 hour procedure had turned into an almost 5 hour procedure. That there were complications, and I’d had to receive more interventions than I’d planned on. The sedated drive home from DC was supposed to take 3 hours, but in pouring rain and endless traffic, it took almost 6 hours. My pain spiraled out of control on the ride back. We pulled over to a gas station in the freezing, driving rain, and I begged for mercy. The medication kicked in. We made it home.

But at home, the complexities of my recovery continued. My swelling took weeks to go down, my ankle swelled up and even after 3 months on crutches, I couldn’t stand on my own two feet. Doctors were perplexed. The foot doctor pointed to the hip doctor who pointed to the foot doctor. The physical therapists scratched their heads. Scans revealed that my surgery had, in fact, repaired the tear and the damage, but I wasn’t repaired. I wasn’t healing, and I was angry, then afraid, then angry again. Surely, SOMEONE was to blame, and surely SOMEONE could fix me, and if I could just figure those two things out, surely I WOULD BE BETTER. I would “go back to” my old life and be the person I was before my life stopped working at the same time that my legs stopped working.

Months passed, and I banged along in this same fashion-in relentless pursuit of the outside fix to my inside problem. Until one day, when the right combination of hopelessness and helplessness and powerlessness and victimization all swelled up inside of me at precisely the exact same time, creating a molotov cocktail of pain and pressure I could no longer avoid. I laid down onto my bed, listening to my children in the bathtub playing, aching deeply into every cell of my body, and suddenly I knew that it was time to let go. To surrender my resistance to my situation and to my pain. To give up hoping that someone or something would show up and save me from myself. To stop trying so hard to be God. To let the hurt hurt. To let the truth come back into the room.

Two years later, I tell people that I was always getting there. I was always getting here. Byron Katie says that “life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you.” But for most of my life, I’d believed otherwise. I believed that everything was happening to me, and that it was my job to get as far away from what was painful, while getting as close as possible to what felt good and easy. I worked tirelessly for control, and believed that if I stayed on top of it all that I’d be happy and comfortable and okay for the rest of my days.

While I was busy striving for control at all costs, I was surrendering my power, over and over again. Because everything I stood for was built on a shaky foundation that relied on an identity that I worked very hard for and clung to at all costs. After all, I was a smart, strong and together person who could do it all and do it all by herself. There were holes big enough to drive a bus through in my story about myself, but I ignored them readily and regularly. For example, I was exhausted all the time. I was fearful and anxious whenever I sat still for longer than 5 minutes. I was resentful and playing very small. I was saying yes to all the wrong things, while saying no to help I needed in a bad way. My life wasn’t working for me, but I kept working VERY hard to prevent it from changing.

When I woke out of surgery and all of my plans had already gone out the window, the foundation started cracking. When I came home and every day a new part of my body began to fall apart or behave bizarrely, I felt the ground shaking underneath me. When the story I told myself and the world about who I was began to unravel literally before my eyes, I held on for dear life, and friends, so did every cell in my body. And it was there, in that frozen state of paralysis, that an old, familiar way of being rose back up inside me. All those years in my childhood when I couldn’t and didn’t trust anyone rushed in on me. These were the very beginnings of my powerful and lifelong desire to be in control, and here they were, finally, nailing me to my seat. Literally. The fear and the isolation and the loneliness-it all came barreling back into the rooms inside my heart, and a story that I’d never healed, that had lived on inside my cells for decades began reliving itself inside my tissue:

The world is not safe. You are all alone. Batten down the hatches, send out the decoy version of yourself and hide like hell until conditions improve.

Before I could heal THIS body, I have had to heal THAT story and the wound that it was made from. Before I could stand on my own two feet again, I have had to sit still with pain I’d refused to feel for most of my life. There was never anyone outside of me who was going to fix me until I took responsibility for the way I had actively participated in getting myself right where I was. I have had to learn to surrender control in favor of gaining personal power. And I have had to level a shaky foundation in favor of building something solid that is based in trust and truth, first and most of all.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because we have to ask ourselves if we truly believe that everything in life is happening FOR us or TO us. And if we really believe it’s happening FOR us, then we must be willing to open up to what is being played out in our hearts, in our bodies and in our lives. If we really want to share our stories and connect more deeply in our lives, then we have to be ready to examine what is true.

And if we’re willing to examine what is true, then we must be willing to heal, to stop playing small and to start living into our lives wholly and fully. I’m finally ready. Are you?

Harvest What Hurts

In this season of my life, I am consistently and willingly exploring the path through pain. That’s partly because I have chronic pain, but it’s also because I was always getting here, having been a lifelong pain avoider and notorious busybee with NO TIME for the pain of the past. Also, before I had kids, I had A LOT OF TIME AND SPACE to make myself comfortable, to listen to my body in the present and to tend to myself from moment to moment. Having kids gave me every reason to go directly into my heart and set my path straight by way of feeling my pain. And I don’t regret it, although, for a very long time, I FOR DAMN SURE DID.

Every month, a new thing is flowering up inside of me, and it hurts like a mother until it doesn’t. This month, it’s this:

There’s nobody left to blame. There’s no fault to assign. There isn’t a reason for every wound we suffer, unless you consider it reason enough that we are all given some amount of pain that we may turn into power if we’re willing (we are always able).

Years I spent in therapy unpacking my chlidhood were worth it, but now, as a mother, I know that we have all got our own heart-sized crosses to carry. We have all got to walk home, and the walk leads through failure and mistakes and 20/20 hindsight that we can’t go back and undo. The point of pain isn’t to leave us stuck in it or dwelling in it. It’s to get us moving-and that sounds crazy, because a lot of my pain has felt like an enormous nail pinning me down to my seat. Except that wasn’t my pain, after all. That was my FEAR of my pain. That was my STORY about my pain. The pain part was about MOVING through.

The moving starts with breath. It begins with subtle movement in only places like ribcage, back and belly. It feels like imaginary light moving up and down my spine, or the way I can envision the removal of teeny tiny thorns from deep within my toes and ankles. This isn’t big, mammoth movement. It isn’t about large leaps and bounds, thrusting and slamming weight around. It’s about getting back to the cells that surround my bones and giving them a chance to tell the truth and to heal.

The movement isn’t about traveling far and wide on big vacations or doing epic, adrenaline-infused activities. Sometimes, it feels like a slow, slimey crawl through a hole that feels achingly familiar and all I can do is just LET IT ALL BE.

One thing that pain sure AIN’T about is being victimized by life. We may have been victims, but we get to choose to be victimized or taught. Pushed down or empowered. That’s a grab we have to take and take responsibly, because no one can hold any one of us back like WE, OURSELVES, CAN.

The more I move through pain, the more I know that I collaborated in bringing myself to this path, and it’s not up to somebody else to show up and save me from it. A long time ago, I was a girl who didn’t trust anyone and didn’t know how to conjure the courage to ask for help. I shut down and chose silence and hiding. I slipped through the cracks, and yes, there were grown ups who missed it. But I could have opened my mouth and I could have said: HELP.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Because one day pain will knock on your door, if it hasn’t already. And you have a choice when that day comes. You can open the door and let it in. You can give yourself the gift of your life’s path toward grace and healing, or you can block the door and hide like hell (both of which I am willing to admit to doing, but I’d recommend choosing the former over the latter). If your pain is chronic, I would encourage you to ask yourself why you make pain work so hard and so long to get to you.

Also, does it help to wear your wounds like a badge of honor? It doesn’t help me. What helps is telling the truth about them, and unpacking the business of them. Then, it helps to see the way that I create my own reality, and that reality includes how I will harvest my life for more power or succumb to my circumstances for more pain.

I know what I choose, and still it’s sometimes hard to do. It requires me to CHANGE. But what else, guys? What else does life have in store for us if not a healthy dose of crinkly, inconvenient, life-altering change?

Hug your heart and what aches and then follow it back to the beginning. Search the wound and harvest the hell out of that place until you have what you need to heal. Move like your legs were made of swan’s wings and your arms were crafted from cloud dust and give yourself the gift of grace shooting straight down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes because you only have one life and it is yours to create.



Giving Up

Meet 10 year old Me. I wrote this journal entry the very same year that I actually did give up on myself. I wrote this just as I was about to leave my body, not to return for over a decade. I promised myself my dreams right before I began a long and slow process of giving up on them and, more importantly, giving up on myself. What became more important than my passion? Becoming small. Fitting into the world. Looking good.

My relationship with my body broke down when I was 10. It was at that point that I began believing that nothing else I was going through was more important than beating my body into submission. Stuffing my stomach into silence. No matter how talented or smart or good I was, I was never better than my too big body, than my too round hips and my too large tummy. I was afraid, anxious and depressed, and it was my body’s fault, which meant I WAS TO BLAME. So, I spent the next 20 years punishing myself, boxing myself into too tight quarters and squeezing myself into a pretend world where all was right as long as I was thin and fit and looked the part.

The only reason I ever had the courage to break this cycle completely is because I finally got to the place where I was either going to change, or I was going to die. I was either going to face my pain and my fear and my complicated past, or I was going to disappear completely in my hiding. I walked my way into a dark corner and the choice became obvious: Give this up or die striving.

What I know now is that we cannot fully fight back against the weight loss industry, unless we’re willing to face the ways we’ve contributed to it: By hating our bodies and using our relationship with food as a way out of what scares us or causes us pain. Our anger at the media, magazines and advertising isn’t enough. We have to look beneath our rage, and face the frightened 10 year olds we once were. We have to face our insecurity in the world, and the way we’ve mistakenly tied our feelings of stability and happiness to our ability to fit into skinny jeans. We cannot challenge systems until we have challenged our own distorted beliefs.

We cannot be angry at our dieting friends and the way their obsession reminds us of our own struggle until we are willing to remember where all of this self-hatred and anger at life comes from. For me, it rose up out of the unfortunate timing of pre-teen vulnerability and instability in my family and life. It started at home for me, and outside messages only reinforced what I was already hearing from people who I trusted to love me. I don’t share that to cast blame on anyone-I am grown, and any choice to continue on that path is now my own. I share this to tell the truth, a thing I have needed to do in order to get out from underneath the layers upon layers of this old and complex story. It’s my calling and my duty to unpack it, to blow the locked doors inside me wide open and to make things right. Because I deserve that. Because we all deserve that.

It’s our work to conjure the courage to face ourselves, our fears, our feelings and our pain. We can run and hide in our relationship to food, but at some point, we have to accept the fact that it’s only prolonging the inevitable. That we’re only digging ourselves deeper into the hole we feel inside. That we were once people with dreams who felt capable of facing our future and creating our way, no matter what our circumstances may be, but we gave up. We gave up on the wrong things.

We can return, try again, and give up on the right things, this time. Every time is the right time to give ourselves grace, to give up hope for the wrong things and be open to the idea that we are more than our relationship to food. We’re more, and we’re enough.



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