Up and Down

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Sometimes I wonder how many times I’m going to have to keep pulling myself out of these ruts.  For a few more years until I finally get it all together?  For the rest of my life?

I was doing okay for a while, making it through the day and managing to write and blog almost every day (which does good, good things for my sanity).  I wasn’t exercising or planning meals or trying to get us into a daily routine because I can only do one thing at a time or I will get overwhelmed.  True story.  This is the year of writing–not the year of exercising or healthy eating or traveling or awesome parenting or perfect wifeliness.  I have one goal and one goal only.  I like to keep up a nice steady rate of underachievement.

But I can’t seem to keep my shit together for more than a week or so at a time.  I get into a decent routine and things are moving along and then BAM–this train is derailed. I had a few Not Good days this past week (on which I do not care to elaborate at this time; it’s too fresh right now–je suis désolée).

But I had a nice little bout of euphoria that lasted a few hours yesterday morning, so that was a treat.

Some days everything feels like too much work.  The monotony of every day after same day seems unbearable, and I just don’t want to do it anymore.  Anything.  Everything.  Nothing.  Let me be done, gone, just evaporated so I don’t have to think and feel and be here like this.

And then some days I feel so capable!  Positive!  The future is bright and look at all these things I am going to accomplish!  Let’s play!  Let’s talk about everything!  Let’s clean the house and go to the park and do messy activities and cook ALL THE THINGS!

Consistency has never been a strength of mine.  I guess all I can do is keep taking it day by day.

——

Are your efforts steady or sporadic?

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Unrequited Love

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She’s just not that into me.

Back to Real Life

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Best waffle I’ve ever had. EVER.

I was very lucky to be able to go on vacation last week.  I left the desert for a land of snow and ice (and I am proud to say that I did not freeze my ass off).  It was fantastic and delicious and very, very fun.  Now I’m trying to settle back into life at the casa.  I’ll let you know in a week whether or not I”ve managed to do it.

Trying to get back into intuitive eating after a vacation is always a little tricky.  By now I know that I need to (1) not weigh myself for at least a week and (2) not freak out if I overeat at every meal for a few days.  Now is the time to put some tape over the panic button and let things run their course, time to trust that moderation will make its way back into my life.

But for now, brownies for breakfast and two plates of nachos for lunch.

Peace.

Mediocre Confessions–Vanity

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Let’s pretend we’re at a sleepover. We’ve already snacked on everything in the house and listened to our favorite tunes, we’ve already braided each other’s hair and painted our nails and played “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board”. We’ve exhausted ourselves with boy talk and now it’s three in the morning and we’re all lying there in the dark, feeling bonded in our girlhood and just tired enough to let our guards down and start spilling all of our secrets.

There’s a breath of silence after we all finish teasing the girl who admitted to having a crush on our history teacher.  I wait for a moment, knowing how silly I’m going to sound.  And then I hold onto my courage with both hands and confess that my deepest desire when I was growing up was to be a model.

That in itself isn’t that embarrassing.  Wanting to be a model is not an uncommon wish for a young girl–it’s probably up there with “rock star” and “ballet dancer”.  But I really, seriously, wanted to model, more than anything else.

Of course that’s not what I answered when well-meaning adults asked me the dreaded “What do you want to be?” question. I would tell them that I wanted to be a teacher or a therapist.  I would describe my dream to become a Spanish translator and work in third-world countries.  But my real career aspirations were much less altruistic than that.

I wanted to model.  So, so much.  I thought about it constantly, imagined what it would be like. I think it was because I didn’t believe I was beautiful and worthy, and I needed something to prove that I was.  In my mind, becoming a model would be irrefutable evidence that I was desirable and special and important.

I took a lot of pictures of myself in high school.  (Still do.  Partly because I’m the only subject I have that will actually sit still for a photo, and partly because I just love me some selfies.  Judge away.)  I would do my hair and makeup and play with the lighting and photo effects.  (Teen angst looks more dramatic in black and white.)  I would stare at these pictures and try to figure out if I could be pretty.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I put a lot of stock in beauty–something I could see and envy in everyone else but myself.  In my mind, beauty opened doors.  We as a society like pretty things, and we like pretty people.

I spent hours researching modeling agencies and casting calls, but I never had the guts to actually put myself out there.  I was secretly terrified of failing–of being told I wasn’t good enough.  It was easier to dream and wish than to take the chance of being rejected.  So I quietly fantasized about one day being “discovered”, just like all the success stories I’d read.  (Which is unfortunately not very likely to happen when you live in Rincon, Georgia.)

I’ve grown up (a bit) and come to terms with the fact that I won’t ever be a model.  And that is totally okay.  I’d like to think that being beautiful isn’t life goal numero uno for me anymore. I’m not hating on models or the modeling industry–I have friends who have modeled and I think it would be super fun and badass.  (And I’m not gonna lie, if someone called me right now and asked if I wanted to be in a photo shoot I’d be like “HELLZ YES I CAN BE THERE IN FIVE MINUTES.”)

But I have different dreams now, and some of the same old ones, too.  That little girl who loved reading more than anything else grew up to be a big girl who realized that words are her lifeblood, that writing makes her feel whole in a way nothing ever has before.  She finally decided that she is beautiful, whether or not anyone else thinks so–and realized that nobody who matters to her even cares about that.

My life turned out differently than I imagined it would when I was a fifteen year old writing Evanescence lyrics on my binder.  (I still have a deep and abiding love for Evanescence so don’t you dare.)  It’s not as glamorous or as exciting as I wanted it to be, and it can be dull and messy and funny and hard sometimes.

But most of the time, I think it turned out better than I could have hoped.

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———-

What did you want to “be” when you grew up?

How to Be Gentle With Yourself

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Being gentle with myself was a pretty revolutionary concept for me.

I spent my teen years mentally berating myself for every tiny mistake, every shortcoming, and every faux pas.  This barrage of criticism and disparagement only perpetuated the unhealthy behaviors I had developed, and did a good job of keeping my self-esteem hovering in the negative digits.

I think it was Geneen Roth who first introduced me to the concept of treating myself with gentleness and respect.  I scoffed at first–I was never a believer in positive self-talk and bathroom-mirror-affirmations.  But I knew I had to change, and that the change needed to start at the root–in the battleground of my mind.

So I began talking to myself differently.  Rather than slamming myself with criticism after I made a mistake, I talked to myself like I would a child–reminding myself that it wasn’t a big deal, that I could try again.  And this silly, hokey stuff actually began to work.  Calling a ceasefire allowed me some space to breathe, some space to make mistakes and learn from them and move on.  For the first time, I was actually able to make some changes and stick with them.

I know many women (and men) aren’t in the habit of treating themselves with kindness.  So here are my top 3 tips for learning to be gentle with yourself.

 

1. Practice “it’s just okay”.

This is something my best friend taught me.  When I call her and tell her that I’m screwing everything up and that I let my kids watch two hours of TV this morning and didn’t get anything done and haven’t mopped my floor in weeks and I just inhaled seven doughnuts without even blinking, she says, “Heather, everything is okay.  You are okay.  So you let your kids watch six episodes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates?  They’re fine.  So you ate a bunch of doughnuts?  It’s not a big deal.  Everything is just okay.”

And it really is.  Most things, even the big things, are not the end of the world.  “It’s just okay” takes the pressure off.  Things don’t have to be good or bad.  They can just be okay.  And that is such a relief.

So the next time you mess up and your inner critic wants to jump in and yell at you, remind yourself that it is what it is.  Life goes on.  And it’s just okay.

 

2. Acknowledge your victories.

So maybe you screwed up at work or failed at your “exercise every day” New Years Resolution or yelled at your kids or forgot your spouse’s birthday.  Guess what?  You got up this morning.  You are breathing in and out.  Look at you, living!  You’re a genius.

I’m kidding.  But only a little.  Focusing on how everything is going wrong will likely do nothing but send you into a downward spiral.  In order to focus on the positive and keep yourself motivated, you have to remind yourself of what you are doing right.  Even the little things.  And even if it feels silly.

The past few days were…not good.  I was going through some personal stuff and not handling it very well.  I slacked off a lot in the parenting department, didn’t want to cook, haven’t really done much cleaning, and coped with my emotions using my old standby–food.  I felt like everything was sort of falling apart and I didn’t have the energy to gather it all up and fix it.

When I started to notice myself listing everything I was doing wrong, and thinking about all the things I “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing, I intervened.  I reminded myself that I had played play dough with the boys the other day, and that I folded three loads of laundry today.  I forced myself to acknowledge that even though most of our meals had consisted of rice and beans lately, at least I cooked something–and it was cheap and healthy!  Points all around.

For me, thinking about my daily “victories” forces me to acknowledge that I am, in fact, a decent human being who makes good choices sometimes.  I am capable of things.  It also helps protect me from extremist thinking, which I am prone to.  Everything is not falling apart–I went to the grocery store and then cooked dinner for four people, like a freaking adult!

Find your victories, even the smallest ones, and make them take precedence over your failures. Some days, just getting out of bed will be a victory.  And that’s okay.  It counts.

 

3. Retrain your mental voice to speak to you as if you were a child (and I mean gently, not patronizingly).

I am not kidding about this.  It works.

When I used to binge, I would think things like, “Ugh, I cannot believe I ate all that food.  I feel so sick.  I feel disgusting.  Why don’t I have any willpower?  Why am I so out of control?  I’m so weak, I’m so stupid.  I am disgusting.  I’m not going to eat any food tomorrow.  Water is all I deserve after eating like that.”

Let me just tell you that it did not help.

Now, when I binge or overeat, I say to myself, “Hm. I wish I hadn’t eaten that much, I don’t like feeling sick.  It’s okay, though.  I know I’ll feel better and I can try again tomorrow.”  And then I move on.  No dwelling on it, no wallowing in misery.

I don’t do this as much anymore, but when I first starting learning about intuitive eating I practiced gentle self-talk that would go something like this:  “Hey, body.  I’m really sorry for making you feel sick again.  I haven’t been treating you very well.  Thank you for always being strong and for taking care of me.  I promise I will try to take better care of you.”  Sometimes I would even talk to myself out loud (if I was alone, obviously), check in with myself, see how I was feeling and what was going on.

Yes, I’m serious.  Just try it.

The key here is kindness, gentleness.  Treating yourself with the love and respect you deserve.

And remember that progress isn’t linear.  We all wish it was, but it just isn’t.  There will be a lot of ups and downs no matter what your goal is–the important thing is not to get caught up in the peaks and valleys, but to look at the overall trend.  Most of the time, by taking a step back you’ll see that you are, in fact, making progress.  It’s just hard to see that when you’re in the trenches.

———–

Is your inner voice supportive or destructive?  Give yourself a little mental hug today, loves.

Things I Said I Would Never Do

(1) Live in Arizona

(Been here two and a half years and counting…)

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This is our backyard.  It is full of rocks.

(2) Live in South Dakota

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(Now Sioux Falls is on my list of places I’d love to move to!)

(3) Yell at my children

(Um…)

(4) Wear skinny jeans

(Turns out they can actually be pretty comfortable and awesome.)

(5) Own a pair of ankle boots

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(Okay, so I was wrong about them…)

(6) Let anyone see my stomach. ever.

(Internet, meet belly!)

(7) Date a guy with facial hair.

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(Changed my mind.)

(8) Be one of those moms who won’t cut her baby’s hair and lets him look ridiculous in his stringy-haired baldness.

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(My bad.  Sorry, D.)

(9) Willingly jump into an ice-cold pool.

(I would post the video evidence but I uttered some, ah, choice words when my head broke the surface.  THE WATER WAS 46 DEGREES PEOPLE.)

(10) Wear a nose ring.

When I originally got my nose pierced, Jacob (the awesome piercer) asked me if I would ever want to switch my stud for a ring, because that would affect the placement of my piercing (rings are usually worn lower so you can fit a smaller diameter ring on). I was all, “No way, man! Rings are for bulls!” so he went ahead and pierced it nice and high like I wanted.

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Fast forward a couple months, and I started to notice girls rocking the most adorable nose rings (like Lauren).  I got it into my head that I wanted one, too, although the way my nose is pierced made it less-than-ideal for a hoop (and very likely that it would look ridiculous and obvious and not small and cute like I was picturing).  But I had to try, so off to the piercing studio I went.

When I told Jacob what I wanted, he was hesitant.  “Your piercing isn’t really placed right for a ring to fit as snugly as you want it to. Every once in a while it works out, but it’s pretty rare.  I guess we can try, though, right?”

So try it we did.  I stood up, looked in the mirror, and…

Hm.  This looks…interesting.

He told me to give it a week to see if I got used to it.  And while I don’t love it from the side…

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I think it looks pretty cute from the front.

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So we’ll see if I fall in love with it or go for a smaller stud instead.

Look at me though, taking risks and not caring what people think!  My 16-year old self would be mortified.

——

Tell me something you said you would “never ever” do.

Living in the Moment

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I have a hard time staying present.

I’m always thinking, planning, ready to move on to what’s next.   I live through words–I read, I write.  The narrator in my head keeps up a running commentary, describing every second of my day.  I’m often in my head, with my thoughts and my ideas and my words.  Sometimes it’s hard to come out and inhabit my body; hard to come out and engage with the people around me.

And yet I have these two small people who need me, need me to be there and to listen and to play and to help.  Sometimes it is so nice to be needed.  And sometimes it is exhausting.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’m often distracted, often overusing the phrases “In a minute, sweetie” and “Hang on, let me finish this first”.  I love reading about mindfulness and being “in the moment”, and imagining myself one day as a mindful, meditating zen master–but it is not something that comes naturally to me.  It doesn’t even come unnaturally to me.  In fact, I’m finding it to be pretty damn near impossible to do.

I know I’m not alone in this.  We live in the golden age of multitasking.  Information is easy to come by, and most of us are grazing all day long.  In less than a minute you can check your email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, and then answer a text on your phone.   (In fact, during the time it took to get these few paragraphs written, I probably clicked out of this window at least a dozen times doing just that.)  Our minds are trained to jump around at lightning speed, and trying to slow them down and focus them on a single task or a single moment is no easy feat.

Every once in a while, though, I get a glimpse.  It’s as though I “wake up” and things slow down for a few seconds, and I can see my boys.  I can see their sweet, soft little cheeks and their strong, never-still legs, and their little boy hands.  My favorite thing in the world is watching them when they’re completely absorbed in something.  I love watching them dig or stack rocks or examine ants. That concentration, that fascination–that, to me, is childhood.

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So even though it seems like I’ll never get it right sometimes, I will keep trying to be there, really be there, for those moments.  I don’t want to miss them.

——–

On a scale of “I suck at it” to “Zen Master”, how are you at being in the moment?

Confessions of a [Recovering] Binge Eater

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I used to be obsessed with food.

It was the first thing I thought about when I woke up, and the last thing I thought about before my mind finally shut down and I fell asleep for the night.  I was constantly obsessing about what I had eaten, what I wanted to eat, what I was going to eat next.  I looked at recipe books and food blogs and ate and thought and planned and ate…and hated myself for all of it.

I remember looking at food and seeing numbers.  Calories.  I divided foods into safe and unsafe foods, good and bad foods.

Once I wanted egg-in-a-hole (if you do not know what this is then get yourself to my house with haste and I will make you a delicious breakfast).  But I couldn’t have it of course.  Too many calories.  Too much fat.  So I modified it.  I nixed the egg.  Eggs are bad for you.  I also tossed out the butter.  Butter would most certainly make me fat.

So I picked up a slice of spongy, disgusting 40-calorie bread and misted it with cooking spray.

Then I cooked it in a frying pan.  And ate it.

It tasted weird and metallic.  It was disgusting.  But I ate it and pretended it was good, pretended that it satisfied me and congratulated myself on my self control.

And then I inhaled a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and half a block of cheddar cheese.

You see, the flip side of this sort of restrictive behavior for me was bingeing.  All that denying myself, all that carefully controlled portioning and measuring and counting and managing–it was like stretching a rubber band.  Once it reached its limit, it would snap back–with equal and opposite force.

A binge was a complete loss of that control.  I would just start eating and my brain would shut off; and I would have no clear memory of how I came to be standing in front of the pantry, holding an empty box of Wheat Thins and a decimated bag of trail mix.

I was so, so ashamed of this “dark side”.  I just knew that people would be disgusted with me if they knew how I really was.  Lazy.  Undisciplined.  Weak.  Every time I binged, I was left with a sickeningly full stomach and a massive black cloud of shame and self-loathing.

What is wrong with me?  Why can’t I stop eating?  I tried to counteract the massive amount of calories I would consume in my binges with purging, and with exercise.  I remember eating 8 pieces of pizza and then forcing myself to go on a 5-mile run, as if to atone for my “sin”.  (And just in case you think that is a good idea, let me tell you that it is a very, very stupid idea.  I once had to run into a hotel and vomit into a bathroom toilet because five pieces of jalapeño and pepperoni pizza do not make a good pre-run snack.)

I remember high school sleepovers, where our snacks of choice were Doritos + sour cream and anything we could find to dip into canisters of vanilla frosting.  I remember watching a movie, snacking on the Doritos, and not being able to stop.  I remember wondering how the other girls could just watch the movie, seemingly uninterested in the food; when all I could think about, all I could focus on, was that there was food next to me.  I would wake up the next morning with a food hangover, feeling nauseated and bloated, and all I wanted to do was go home and hide.

I literally could not concentrate on anything else when there was food in the room.  Parties and buffets were torture.  Everyone would be mingling, talking, and all I could think was when are we going to eat this damn food?!  It was like this pressure built up inside of me, and I needed to eat so I could move on and think about something else.

I used to bring my lunch to school–and eat the whole thing before first period started.  I literally could not ignore the fact that there was food sitting in my backpack.  It would be there, taunting me, consuming my thoughts, until I gave in and ate it to silence the voices.

One time I ate 36 cookies in one sitting.  (Not that you’re aware enough to count when you’re bingeing.  But I checked later, and that’s how much the recipe made.  I ate all of it.)

I was disgusted with myself.

I never, ever thought I would be able to escape that cycle.  I didn’t think I was strong enough.  I used to pray every day that I could have a normal, healthy relationship with food. I prayed that I could overcome this demon that haunted me; prayed that some day food wouldn’t rule my life anymore.  And yet it happened, again and again and again.

My prayers were answered, but it took a long time.  I had hoped I could overcome it in a month.  It didn’t take a month.  It didn’t even take a year.  It has taken several years of trying and failing and trying again, of changing my thought patterns and reimagining my relationship with food and with my body.  There were so many times that I felt like I would never break free.  It didn’t seem like I was making any progress.  It was only when I looked back and compared myself to where I was a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, that I began to see the changes.

I rarely binge now, and I don’t restrict.  I can honestly say that I am not controlled by or afraid of food anymore.  It is possible.  It won’t be quick, and it won’t be easy, but it is possible. 

——

Since I occasionally get concerned emails when I talk about depression or disordered eating, I want you all to know that almost all of this stuff is in the past for me.  Writing helps me to process things though, and if you are struggling with something like this right now, I want you to know you are not alone and that you are not trapped–there is hope.  I found a few really honest blogs when I was struggling and it helped me so much to realize that I wasn’t the only one, and that I wasn’t weak or lazy.

If this post was upsetting or triggering for any of you, I am so, so sorry.  That was not my intention at all.  Please let me know in the comments.  I can preface all of my ED-related posts with a warning if that would be helpful, so you can skip the ones that wouldn’t support your recovery at this time.  I will not be offended; I have had to stop reading and watching things in the past because they were triggering for me.  Taking care of yourself comes first, and it’s hugely important that you be honest with yourself regarding what is and is not okay for you.

Love.

The Perks of Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom

[A Humorous Look at Life Behind Bars Within These Four Walls]

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This job is pretty glamorous.

I mean, sure, you don’t get paid, and yes, small people frequently excrete on you, and okay, you have both spectators and a running commentary every time you go to the bathroom, but hey.  You can’t have it all.

But enough of that.  Let’s talk about all the great benefits that come with this position.

(1)  You get to wear whatever you want!  That’s right, there is no dress code and you never have to be uncomfortable again.  Embrace those sports bras (or no bras!), yoga pants, and comfy t-shirts.  My personal rule is “don’t wear anything you can’t also sleep in”.  Feel free to adopt it for yourself.  It’s pretty revolutionary.

The downside is that all that time spent in pajamas sort of warps your thinking and you’ll start referring to your old jeans as your “fancy goin’ out clothes”.

(2)  You are your own boss!  Think about all those people going to work every day, slaving away for The Man.   You don’t have to answer to anyone!  Well, anyone except the tiny screaming people with a dubious command of the English language.  But you are your own woman!  (You may need to remind yourself of that frequently; especially when the tiny dictators are making constant and unreasonable demands.)

(3)  You can eat anything, anytime, anywhere!  That’s right, never leaving the house means you have constant access to food, all day (and night) long!  As an added bonus, you are in charge of buying and preparing the food, so you can buy all your favorite treats!

Warning: all-day snacking paired with only wearing pants that have a stretchy waistband could cause you to gain 10 pounds in two months without realizing it.  (Ahem. Not that I’ve ever done that.)

(4)  You make your own schedule.  You don’t have to be anywhere, so you can sleep in as late as you want!

Well.  As late as the tiny dictators will let you, anyway.

(5)  Your precious little bundles are the perfect subjects for you to practice your budding photography skills on!

(Just don’t be offended when all of your childless friends delete you from Facebook and Instagram.  It’s not that they hate you–it’s just that the nuanced changes in a baby’s expression captured in a progression of 50 photos can only really be appreciated by the baby’s doting parents.)

 

 
And if all that isn’t enough, and you sometimes wonder what you were thinking when you signed on for this: just remember.

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You are important.  And those messy, sticky, crazy, precious little beasties love you.

——

If you have kids, tell me about your favorite perk or share one that I missed.  (There are so many…)  If you don’t have kids, what are some of the “benefits” of your day job?

On Being Good Enough

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One of the hardest steps on this journey (you know, the overcoming disordered eating and a sucky body image journey) has been coming to terms with and accepting the body I have, right now.  Not the body I wish I had or hope to have one day, if I work really hard and push myself; but this body—the body that has a loose, squishy stomach and stretch marks and deflated breasts and round cheeks and thin lips.  The body that won’t ever grace the front of a magazine and most likely won’t be caught dead in a bikini.  The body that doesn’t always look right in clothes and the body that can look legitimately pregnant after a good dinner.

This is also the body that created and grew and birthed two (big) little babies.  This body stretched and grew and ached and hurt, and it supported and sustained and nurtured all three of us.  It’s a pretty nifty body, after all.

I don’t look like I did in high school.  And sometimes, I get it into my head that I should.  I think that I should look like an underweight, not-yet-developed fifteen year old girl, not like a woman and wife and mother who carried two children.

But guess what, self?  I am a woman (whether or not I feel like it).  I am a wife.  I am a mother who carried two children, and those children left their mark on me.

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And that is okay.

There is so much pressure sometimes.  So much pressure to be better! stronger! prettier! thinner! and it can feel suffocating.

So a few months ago I just said, Screw it.  I’m done.

I’m done feeling like I’m not good enough.  I’m done with “self-improvement”.  I’m done with all of these workouts and diets that are being pushed at me.  I’m done with trying to be “stronger” and “healthier” when they’re being used as code words for “thinner” and “prettier”.  I’m done with feeling like I have to be beautiful to be worthy of love and attention.

I’m done with trying to be a green, natural, media-free, creative, inspiring, perfect mother. I just can’t do it right now. I’m done with all of the conflicting parenting rules and impossible standards I set for myself before I realized what I was doing.  I’m done feeling bad about everything I do because someone out there doesn’t agree with it.

I’m done with goals that never get reached, but taunt me later when I find the discarded slips of hopes, scribbled down in a fit of optimism.  I’m done with feeling like I’m never doing enough, with being overwhelmed by all there is to do.

I’m not saying goals are bad.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to improve.  Not at all.  What I am saying is, you have to know yourself.  Know when you’re okay and when you’re not okay.  Know when you need to step back from everything, and know that it’s okay to take a break for a while if that’s what you need.

Know that it’s okay to be exactly who you are, right now, and to like that person.  For a long time I thought it wasn’t okay to like myself.  I thought it was vain or prideful.  I thought women were supposed to hate themselves and criticize their bodies.  That’s what everyone does, right?  That’s normal.

That’s also a big, huge, freaking lie.

When I went to college and had roommates for the first time, I found out that I wasn’t the only one riddled with insecurities.  All of these girls that I thought were so beautiful and perfect and intelligent had things they didn’t like about themselves–their stomachs, their thighs, their eyebrows, their hair, their lips, their arms…the list really is infinite.

What the hell are we all doing, treating ourselves like that?  What is so wrong with us that we feel like we have to constantly be fixing and perfecting everything about us in order to be “good enough”?  Who or what are we trying to be “good enough” for?

The secret is that we are already good enough to the people that love us; to our friends and our families.  We are already good enough to God.  And I’m giving you permission to believe that you, exactly as you are right now, with all of your supposed imperfections and insecurities and habits and mistakes–you are good enough.

Maybe that sounds cheesy or trite.  But I spent years telling myself how stupid and ugly and fat and [fill in the blank with any negative word of your choice] I was and it took me a long time to realize that that is not okay.

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It was scary at first, learning to like myself.  It was scary to say, “Hey world.  I screw up a lot and I might offend people sometimes and I’m not very disciplined.  But I like myself, whether or not any of that ever changes.”  It’s scary to decide that you look good the way you are.  It’s scary to finally start buying clothes that flatter you, the current you in all your glory, instead of waiting until you’ve hit that ever-elusive goal.

If someone calls you fat (or ugly or stupid or whatever) it’s almost easier to just duck your head in shame than it is to stand up and say, “NO.  I love myself, and it is not okay for you to treat me like that.”  Sticking up for yourself can be terrifying.  But you have to do it.  You have to take care of yourself.  And that includes (and starts with) protecting yourself from that nasty critic that is constantly monologuing in your head.

Again, I don’t think that wanting to lose weight or improve yourself or reach any goal is bad.  It’s the motivation behind it that I don’t like.  When your motivation is coming from a negative place, or from self-loathing, that’s when I think it’s time to step back, take a breath, and give yourself some space.  Space to be, space to grow and change–or not.

And who knows–you might just surprise yourself.

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So, in the interest of authenticity and solidarity (and oversharing?) I did something I never ever thought I’d do–post a picture of my bare, non-pregnant abdomen.  So there’s that…  😉

Body image is something I’m really, really passionate about (obviously) so forgive me if I seem a little overzealous.  That said, it’s something I love to talk about, so if you have thoughts and experiences, please do share.

And show yourself some love.  You deserve it.