Emotions

The Aftermath of Honesty

Have you ever been so honest with someone it made you feel sick?

Here, I'm not talking about saying something unkind in the heat of a moment, or having a fight, or speaking words you later decide you regret.

I'm talking about a genuine, honest, much-needed (and often long-delayed) sharing of your truth, at a level you never thought yourself capable of.

I'm talking about opening up your mouth and speaking out loud the kind of honest words that make you feel SO vulnerable, SO exposed, you actually look (maybe more than once) to see if you've sucker-punched yourself in the stomach.

I'm talking about the kind of honesty that is exceptionally painful, because to withhold it is to deny yourself, and to share it is to risk losing something (or someone) you very much want to hold on to.

I did this the other day.
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Inspirational

What Helps Me Find My Middle Way


The Dalai Lama talks a lot about finding a "middle way" to navigate through life's challenging issues.

When I hear the phrase "middle way," I often think about finding balance or moderation (which of course makes me want to find both and experience them!)

But liking the concept of the middle way is one thing, and actually achieving a daily practice of it is quite another.

Lately, as I progress through the first quarter of my self-described Year of Living Intuitively, I have become ever more fixated on finding a middle way within.

And since I have always needed a hands-on approach (aka something to "do" to participate in my own learning process) I have started noticing what helps me remember to seek a middle way and step back from extreme reactions.

Here are 2 examples.

Example 1: Construction 
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Celebrity Mentors

Monica Lewinsky, Mentor

My mom recently sent me an article about Monica Lewinsky.

The article, titled "Monica Lewinsky is Back, but this Time it's on Her Terms," sounded intriguing.

So I read it.

And then it broke my heart.

I didn't realize we are only four years apart (she is 40, I am 44). Thinking back to when I was her age, I must admit I did some very regrettable things (and got involved with some very regrettable folks).....but since none of those oopses involved a U.S. president, mostly even I don't remember them now.

Thank goodness.

But Monica Lewinsky can't go an hour without remembering.

A few months ago I posted a blog called "Handling Hate Mail, Hateful Comments, and Hate."

In this post, I shared one comment - just ONE comment - that cut me straight through....which is one of (in comparison with Monica Lewinsky) just a handful of comments I have received over the years in my semi-public profession working with recovering and recovered people.

At one point during her recent TED talk, Lewinsky asks, "Where is the compassion?"

I have often wondered the same.

The haters who post and write and call anonymously are one thing....but today, very few even bother to hide their identity.

That boggles my mind.

Where is our fear of repercussion? Where is our compassion?

Where is our humanity?

We just spew out our hatred and anger and condemnation so freely....and then....what? Go home and hug our kids? Kiss our partners? Vent to our friends about how mean such-and-so is for gossiping about us at the office? Hope for a five-star review on our annual performance review at work?

Do each of us (or most of us, anyway) really have two personas - the kind, nice, hard-working, hopes-to-be-understood-and-respected-and-loved daily one - and that "Other One" - the one with the really white skin who wears the scary dark cape and has retractable front fangs?

I know both live inside of me. 
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Mentoring

Coping with Comparison Envy


"Comparison envy."

For me at least, this is what happens when I start thinking about how I want my life to be different.

Then I start thinking about people I know (or don't know).

Then I start assuming their lives are working out in ways mine is not.

Then I get jealous of them.

If left unchecked, such ruminations can go on for minutes....days....or my whole life.

I can spend my whole life immersed in comparison envy - jealous of my own imaginings of how much better someone else's life/relationship/body image/income/success is than mine.

It goes without saying that the side effects of comparison envy are equally unpleasant.
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Inspirational

A Makeup-Free Year


The other day I was scheduled to do a media interview.

I hadn't done one of those in awhile, but I still remembered the drill.

RULE #1Wear makeup on camera, or risk appearing to have actually died during the interview.

(Not ideal under any circumstances, but especially not when you are filming a television spot about eating disorders!)

And I was totally prepared to make sure I looked alive and kicking on camera....except for one tiny detail.

I couldn't locate my makeup.

To make matters worse, the day before I had finally taken the plunge and dyed my hair raven black with purple highlights.

Which meant the most likely outcome would unfold as follows:

Pale skin + black hair + harsh TV lighting = on-camera Zombie.

Otherwise, however, all this was pretty cool.

I've pretty much been makeup-free for months now, and I hadn't even noticed!

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure it started last fall when my boyfriend and I were driving down to Galveston (where Houstonians like us go when we want to visit the beach). We were talking about a show we'd seen on dramatic makeovers, plastic surgery, etc.

I shared how I'd seen some of my Facebook friends posting pics of themselves without makeup to celebrate "Makeup-Free Day." He laughed and said, "Makeup-Free DAY? How about Makeup-Free YEAR?!"

I thought that was a pretty cool idea.
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Inspirational

Every Day, I Wake Up and Prepare to Die


A few days ago, I blogged about what I do each morning to wake up and fully prepare to live another 24 hours.

However, there is another facet of my process I didn't share in that post, which is preparing for our own death daily.

I have found much of my light through a daily meditation practice, which includes as much study and service as it does actual meditation.

In one of my study sessions, I read an essay on the topic of preparing for your own death that I've never forgotten.

The story went like this:

A man approached a great king asking for self-knowledge. The day he arrived happened to be the day of the annual kingdom-wide fair, and there were festivities everywhere! Magicians, jugglers, fire walks, jousts - it was nearly too much for the simple country man to take in! In answer to his request, the King replied, "Take this bowl of water and walk through the streets all the way to the end, then turn around and walk back. If even one drop of the water in that bowl spills, I will have my best swordsman cut off your head!" 

The man was floored....terrified....and (being as how it was the King and he couldn't just take back his request and leave) determined not to let one drop of water spill from the bowl. He walked very carefully, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the bowl. He looked nowhere else. Somehow he made it all the way there and back to the King without spilling one drop. Then he asked, "Why did you ask me to do that?" 
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Inspirational

Every Day, I Wake Up and Prepare to Live


For a decade and a half, I struggled mightily every day against an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, and self-hatred.

To this day, I am still not 100% certain what it was that kept me from offing myself, let alone waking up again and again into another day of certain hell.

But whatever it was - is - it is still with me.

It still helps me wake up every morning and prepare to live another day.

My dad and I talk about this a lot - he grew up under challenging circumstances of an entirely different sort, yet he too woke up every morning, the youngest of four in a reliably chaotic household, and set his mind towards the future.

He simply determined that HIS future would be different - and every choice he made in each present day was weighed against his vision of that future.

Today, he is living in the exact future he envisioned in each of those days, beginning oh so many decades ago.

Perhaps that was what kept me going - his example and knowing his story - even though I surely didn't view that as my inspiration at the time (I was far too caught up in my own darkness to see much else back then).

I just knew that, every time I was tempted to think the way my life felt was the worst any life could ever feel, I would read or hear about someone whose life was so much harder, and who was still choosing to make good come from bad.

Gandhi. Mother Teresa. Martin Luther King, Jr. My American Indian grandparents. Random biographies and novels I read in the library (I was an avid reader growing up, and still am).

Here, in these stories, I found my heroes and my mentors.
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Animal Mentors

Why an Apple a Week May be a Better Plan


I went for my annual checkup today.

I really love my doctor - a delightful first in my medical history.

She is easy to talk to, practical, and (a must for anyone who has ever suffered from an eating disorder) non-dramatic when it comes to the normal ebbs and flows of medical test results and daily life.

When she asked how I've been doing, I shared I feel better than I ever have before in my whole life.

I feel more balanced - insides with outsides.

I feel healthier in my relationship with my body.

I feel really good about my mental state.

I feel like a better "me" than I've ever been able to be before now.

But then I told her sometimes I still worry when I don't eat everything I want to include in my meals every day.

And that is when she said it - a nugget of pure, true wisdom I am sure will stay with me for the rest of my life. 
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Emotions

Keeping Others’ Pain from Becoming Personal


I have a handful of loved ones in my life right now who are experiencing longer-term painful circumstances.

In one case, the pain is medical. In one more, financial. In yet another, the pain is less well-defined as she wishes for (but day after day does not act to build) a life that feels like a better "fit" than the one she has now.

And it gets to me.

It all gets to me.

Sometimes their ongoing pain feels very, very personal.

I wake up at night worrying, or praying, or both.

When morning comes, they are right there on my mind.

Following visits and phone calls, I feel like I need to grieve and heal and rekindle hope - as if their pain is my pain.

It is.

Needless to say, this isn't working well for me. 
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