Inspirational Articles

You are Living Proof that Gratitude Heals

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
One of my many mentors and "gratitude teachers."

One of my many mentors and “gratitude teachers” (my baby tortoise, Malti)

I used to dread the month of November.

And not just because of all the scary F.O.O.D.

I dreaded it because November is the “month of gratitude.”

I so wanted to be grateful – to feel grateful – to feel _genuinely_ grateful (as opposed to “faking it until you make it” grateful).

I wanted to be that kind of good person who could feel totally, deeply grateful for life’s blessings….without simultaneously wishing for so much more than what I had.

For instance – I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to have friends (besides my eating disorder, that is!).

I wanted to be able to sit down and enjoy a festive meal with loved ones free from fear.

I wanted to like what I saw in the mirror.

I wanted to love and be loved – to fall in love – to have romance and peace and joy and fulfillment in my life.

So I would start listing out the things I was grateful for, only to be confronted by this other list of all the things I felt I desperately wanted and needed that would never be mine.

In a word….PAIN. 


What I Need to Feel Truly Human

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

shutterstock_79866124I recently returned from our family’s annual pilgrimage to Cape Cod.

Cape Cod is my favorite place on Earth.

I can learn more there, unwind more there, rest more there, restore more there, in just 24 hours than in 24 days back in my hometown of Houston, Texas (or anyplace else, for that matter).

This year – my fourth year of visiting the Cape – I have finally begun to detect the reason why.

Here at the Cape, and especially in the small town of Truro where we stay (Truro is the most remote town on the Cape itself), the ratio of nature to humanity is much more balanced.

In other words, here, human beings are in the distinct minority.

There are 100 trees to every one human, and nearly as many wild turkeys, dogs, and assorted wild birds in similar ratios.

Same holds true for sea life.

In fact, much of the Cape is made up of national parks and reserves – places where wildlife merit much stricter protections than man.

For this same reason, Park Rangers are a big fixture here – and yes, they do wear the traditional green and khaki outfits, complete with hats that would make Smoky the Bear proud.

During tourist season, the Park Rangers lead all kinds of nature walks and talks. During these events, they like to tell tourists, “when you enter the sea, you enter the food chain.” 


Finding Your “Formula”

Monday, November 10th, 2014

shutterstock_74587597The older I get, the more perspective I gain about what works for me – and also what doesn’t.

For instance, trying to manage the stressors of life by using eating disordered behaviors doesn’t work.

Drinking caffeine all day to keep my energy level at a consistent “high” doesn’t work.

Ruminating excessively on all possible “worst case scenario” outcomes doesn’t work.

Taking handfuls of over-the-counter mood management supplements doesn’t work.

These are just a few examples.

What works for me is quite simple: medication + meditation.

Specifically in that order.

Meditation without medication offers some benefits, as does medication without meditation.

But together, they have forged an alliance that has given me a quality of life I had no thought possible.


How to Be Important

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

shutterstock_220487410Recently, I happened across a post on marine ecologist and author Carl Safina’s website called “How to Be Important After Graduation (Anytime Really).”

I wish I could remember anything – even a single word – our commencement speaker shared the day I graduated.

If any of the words had been these words, I know I would still remember them.

Carl begins his speech by saying “graduation is always a joyful time.”

It wasn’t joyful for me.

It was scary, and strange, and artificial.

I felt lonely and very much unprepared.

I wasn’t ready for any of it, but it wouldn’t wait any longer. I could hear it in the background stamping its increasingly impatient little foot, telling me I’d better hurry up and get ready….”or else.”

Terrifying.


Your Body is Worth Getting to Know

Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Nothing feels quite so wonderful as suddenly discovering the power of your own WINGS!

Nothing feels quite so wonderful as suddenly discovering the power of your own WINGS!

I was in my late 20′s, and well into my struggles with anorexia and bulimia, before I began to perceive a tangible difference between “my body” and “me.”

After so many years of casually speaking about “my body,” “my mind,” “my heart,” “my spirit,” I finally started to wonder just who the “my” was who claimed all of these things.

Who owned “my body?”

Who was in charge of “my mind?”

Who sensed the presence of “my heart?”

Who was it who spoke of “my spirit” with such confidence?

Well, it must be …. “me.”

All at once, I became deeply curious about just who this “me” was who rated a body, a mind, a heart, a spirit all her own.


How to Dodge Despair and Lure Hope

Monday, October 27th, 2014

shutterstock_165376283With this post, I return again to that literal tome of life wisdom, “Voyage of the Turtle” by Carl Safina.

I have always learned so much from my animal companions….and continue to do so each and every day.

I also love watching nature documentaries that follow animals during their day-to-day lives so I can learn.

Sometimes while I’m watching these programs I think, “Oh, no, I could never eat termites for lunch!” and that is that.

At other times, the documentary reveals something so profound….a shared sense of deep and timeless, well, humanity – only the species I share it in common with is not technically “human.”

At a particular point in Safina’s book, he is describing the despair researchers have often felt as they have battled against humanity, global warming, inertia (from the general public, interested parties, and other scientists), and the suffering of the sea turtles themselves to maintain the hope for species regeneration.

He writes:

All the senior professionals…..they all work from hope. They’re not the types to gloss over problems or look through rose-tinted lenses. Quite the opposite; they’ve been the first to sound alarms. They’ve felt despair and fought despite it. I’ve learned this by observing the real professionals who go the distance. You dodge despair by not taking the deluge of problems full-bore. You focus on what can work, what can help, or what you can do, and you seize it, and then – you don’t let go. What they see, and what I’ve come to see, is the possibility of making things better. That’s what hope is: the belief that things can get better. The world belongs to people who don’t give up. (emphasis added)

But wait – it gets even better:


Do What You Can and Don’t Worry About the Odds Against You

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

VoyageofTurtleREV31-197x300I have been blogging a bit about a fabulous book called “Voyage of the Turtle” by Carl Safina.

At some point, this book has become less about gaining a simple “tortoise education” and more about learning how to simply live life.

In one of my favorite quotes, the author writes (this about watching a single baby sea turtle enter the surf for the first time, encouraged in its first steps by a group of witnessing conservationists):

I wonder if this is the end of something ancient or the start of a future regained. I’m not certain what it is, but I know what it means: it means there truly is hope. Other peoples, other species, even other kinds of sea turtles – in situations as bad, sometimes worse – have recovered. Turtles have taught me this: Do all you can and don’t worry about the odds against you. Wield the miracle of life’s energy, never worrying whether we may fail, concerned only that whether we fail or succeed we do so with all our might. That’s all we need to know to feel certain that all our force of diligent effort is worth our while on Earth. (emphasis added)

So beautiful!

And in fact, I told myself this very thing (although not so eloquently) when I first began my mighty struggle to recover from anorexia and bulimia.

The odds seemed powerfully stacked against me – leaning over me like a slobbering muscular bully, in fact.

My “support team” was minimal – one mentor, and me.

I had no money for therapy – inpatient, outpatient, or any other kind.

No one – least of all me – really understood what was wrong with me or how to fix it.

And I wasn’t yet fully convinced that what was wrong was a “something” – that it wasn’t just me, consummate failure at life and all things.

Yet I had nothing but time at that point, and I wanted to try. 


Our Place in the Universe

Monday, October 13th, 2014
Image courtesy of Nature (click on image to view original).

Image courtesy of Nature (click on image to view original).

I don’t typically pay much attention to daily news.

This is because I know if really big news hits, I will hear about it from someone.

Such is the case with Nature‘s recent discovery.

It would seem our universe is quite a bit more vast than we may have previously assumed it was.

With study results titled, “this is the most detailed map yet of our place in the universe,” I eagerly scanned the results.

Then I wondered – with surprise – why I wasn’t feeling surprised.

Perhaps is it because I have watched and rewatched the movie “Contact” for years (this movie, of course, is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s novel by the same name).

In the film, budding scientist (Jodie Foster) asks her dad if there is other life “out there.”

Her dad wisely responds, “Well if there isn’t, it would be an awful waste of space!”

I guess this has always just made sense to me. 


What Sea Turtles are Teaching Me About Our Shared Humanity

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

shutterstock_165527009I first became aware that outer differences do not equal inner differences when I was six.

At the time, we attended a local church, and every so often we had special lessons to teach us about different religious practices.

I don’t remember what the lesson was on this particular day. I only remember that the story (parable) our teacher shared from a different religion sounded just like one of “our” stories, only with different costumes and character names.

I went home and told my mom, “Hey, guess what – our teacher told a story from a different religion but it sounded exactly like ours!”

Mom, busy fixing lunch for a hungry family, simply murmured something suitable and went back to building sandwiches.

But I was transfixed.

Thereafter, I have been on a lifelong search for at least one single shared point of connection common to us all….something tangible and powerful enough to make all the surface differences dissolve to reveal our shared humanity.

As you may know, I also deeply enjoy daily communion with non-human companions. Currently, I have two who share my household – my parrot, Pearl, and my baby tortoise, Malti.

I know a lot about parrots but very little about tortoises, so lately I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on (which isn’t actually all that much).

My newest read is called “Voyage of the Turtle: in pursuit of the Earth’s last dinosaur,” by Carl Safina.

I will admit I did not expect to find that single point of connection I’ve been searching for these last 37 years in a book about sea turtles, but then all of a sudden there it was. 


You Can Give Yourself Permission to Love Your Body

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014
On the days it feels harder to love my body, I surround myself with mentors who have no trouble seeing and admiring their own prettiness!

On the days it feels harder to love my body, I surround myself with mentors who have no trouble seeing and admiring their own prettiness!

The other day, a friend said to me, “We are all in recovery from something.”

I deeply resonated with her statement.

For instance, while I no longer struggle to nourish my body appropriately, I am still working hard to reprogram old tapes in my brain that speak to me, saying, “your body should look different.”

This morning I caught myself looking in the mirror as a way to settle this exact type of dilemma.

Did I hate my curves or like them? I couldn’t decide.

In that instant, I realized the solution comes down to one of permission.

I have to decide – I GET to decide.

Do I like my curves? Or do I hate them?

Do I see beauty when I look in the mirror? Or do I see a shape and form that causes me pain?

If, in a flash, I catch myself thinking, “Wow – I look good today!,” do I allow myself to own and enjoy that sentiment? 


 

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Recent Comments
  • Shannon Cutts: Beautiful, true words to inspire us all – thank you, Kim!
  • Kim Ratcliffe: Thank you! You too will get there, as we all do, in our own time and journey! As I always say to those...
  • Shannon Cutts: Kim – I love what you wrote too! – and most of all I love that you have achieved what I am...
  • Kim Ratcliffe: Love what you wrote! And your answer to the question about being recovered – it is such an...
  • Shannon Cutts: Oh how lovely, Marcy! Our pets are so loving and selfless in so many ways!
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