New…

New Year…

New city…

Not for real, just for a few days…

Wanderlust…

How I love that word…

But really, what is something new…

Something clean…

A new story

Unwritten

I like that song

Blank pages

A new notebook

A blank check

Baby cheeks

Every year somehow it comes to me at the end of the year – a perfect summary of what the previous year meant to me.

And this year, has been something totally a new – a year of ending friendships and beginning new ones, nine trips, 24 books, countless miles run, staring a new degree… A year of ending therapy and beginning a new chapter…

“2015 brought an experience of being loved like I have never permitted before… By priceless friends, little ones, my family, my students, my God and, surprisingly enough, myself.”

A year ago I sat in St. Peter’s Square in Rome – it was a glorious day. I sat there with a brand new journal – “dreams” etched on the front in gold. And this year has been a year of dreams…

2016 – what will you bring? Resolutions yet to be defined…

Meeting new people perhaps?

Opening up to new possibilities with a budding relationship?

Qualify for Boston?

Explorations in my career field?

But above all a new adventure with myself…

As I drove through the streets of Chicago tonight everything was drab

grey

dark

winter in the big city

And then I turned down a side street

And the lights bending over the road mirrored the branches of the trees

Branches laden with snow

White snow

Clean

Magical

New beginnings

 

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Holiday Feelings

Holidays are hard. Maybe they won’t always be hard. But for now they are.

I’m sitting here trying to pinpoint why… And maybe I shouldn’t be worried about why they are hard.

It is like a race.

You get yourself ready – gifts, dressed, emotionally and mentally prepared.

And then you do it. You lace up your shoes. You are moving. You are doing this. But there is no moment in running when it becomes effortless. At every moment there is concentration and focus.

And the holiday are the same. What takes me by surprise is I don’t expect them to be. I expect to come to my family’s home and just be. But it doesn’t work that way. It takes energy and focus.

Like running I get better at it.

And I’m sure like running there will be days that it feels effortless. But I’m not there yet.

So for now it is an effort. It is a huge effort to sit here in the basement of my parents’ home in the same room as my dad. Should it be? We could argue about that all day. The temptation to tell myself I shouldn’t be feeling what I am feeling is huge.

But the fact is I am feeling what I’m feeling. Whether I like it or not… or should be feeling it or not… None of that is under my control.

What I can control is what I do with the feelings, if I accept them, if I fight them, if I let myself care for myself or not.

It is okay to be me. It is okay that this is the way I am.

I don’t need to justify it. I don’t need anyone to understand it. (My friends who texted and asked who I was doing I told them I was doing fine.) And I will be fine.

There are just hard moments. And it is who we are through the hard moments that shows what we are made of.

Merry Christmas!

Seeing with the Heart

Spoiler alert… I’ve bought my dad a pop up book of The Little Prince for Christmas.

He has always talked about that book.

Maybe even in French.

So I need to write a letter to go with the book.

The problem…

… No inspiration.

None.

Zero.

So maybe if I blog, I’ll come up with something.

I annotated the book. Which seems a little like a sacrilege.

There are so many truths in this book… seeing with the eyes of a child… how things aren’t always what they appear to be… satisfaction… perspective… the universe… about seeing with the eyes of the heart.

“But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart.”

There is so much I want to tell my dad that I can’t. I can’t because I don’t have the words. I can’t because he doesn’t know the half of it. I can’t because of my mom.

My mom is bipolar and half of the things I would want to say to my dad I can’t because he needs to be there for my mom. He is treats her like a queen. She is his queen. And I would never take that away from him.

“What makes them beautiful is invisible!”

The truth is there is so much beyond appearances. There is so much that no one sees – so much that I never saw.

“In those days, I didn’t understand anything.”

Over the years how much pain there has been. How many unanswered questions – that still go unanswered.

“It’s so mysterious the land of tears.”

But above all it is learning to see beyond, to recognize the hidden that is right in front of our noses. And knowing that there is something much bigger than us out there.

“The Christmas-tree lights, the music of midnight mass, the tenderness of people’s smiles made up, in the same way, the whole radiance of the Christmas present I received.”

Merry Christmas, Dad.

Motivation

Tonight I found something I’ve been searching for over the past few months. (Odd how little ol’ me living in an apartment by myself can lose things.)

As I’ve mentioned before, two years ago my therapist had me cut out a motivational phrase each day and post it in a notebook. Tonight I found the notebook. Sometimes looking back can be triggering, but it was interesting to flip through those pages tonight. Over nearly seven months, I learned to recognize that my struggle was real, that I was willing to fight, and that I could believe in myself.

My therapist sent the first quote pasted in the notebook:

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And as much as right now I struggle every time I remember my therapist, I still wish I could have said goodbye. I ache inside. I miss her. And it isn’t because I need her anymore, it is simply because of how important to me she was.

Stuck inside the notebook are notes from people who have supported me, notes to myself, jottings about good days and rough days… It is odd to look back and see where one was a few years ago. At this time last year I was in Europe and went the longest period of time without contact with my therapist in two and half years. Here I am a year later, two months out of therapy and doing the best I can.

I found this that I had printed out and read over and over and over again – reblogged from dontwanttobeanorexic:

If you’re on a meal plan, break it in a positive way;

just the once,

and then again.

One week go longer without an appointment, just as a one-off. You might surprise yourself at how well you cope.

Write about how you remember yourself before your eating disorder,

make a list of things you want in recovery that aren’t based on food or weight,

find some quotes that mean something to you.

Stop weighing yourself,

eat cake on your birthday

don’t go for that walk your head tells you you should go on, in fact don’t do what your ED head tells you at all.

Remember that when your thoughts get bad and the voice gets loud, that is because you are winning.

Focus less on being ‘recovered’ and more on the here and now.

I know it’s a bit cliche but recovery is a journey;

don’t expect walls to vanish, first let them move.

Your struggles don’t vanish, they evolve and move.

Remember everything you need is already inside of you

and that although you fear recovering, you don’t fear being recovered.

Spend less time alone,

do things for the right reasons,

be honest with yourself

and don’t have regret for time lost or you’ll just end up losing more;

it’s never too late.

Watch movies, watch stand-up comedy,

laugh.

if you can’t concentrate well, don’t get angry with yourself – focus on getting better and being able to in the future.

Find something that means more to you, really means more.

put a lot of faith in someone else, trust someone else – you can take more of that responsibility later on –

sometimes you believe in yourself by having others believe in you.

One day you’ll see what they see.

Laugh at yourself,

a lot,

and don’t forget that comparison is the thief of joy.

Set food challenges.

Remember that just because you are eating doesn’t mean you are fine,

nor does it mean your eating is.

When your weight is in a healthy range it’s not the end.

B a b y s t e p s though,

or if you want, giant leaps – we all work differently.

Some need to take the plunge.

Some weeks you might leap forwards, others a tiny step is enough.

Heck sometimes standing still is an achievement –

pat yourself on the back.

Push too hard, you might fall,

Push too little you might too.

I know it’s a hard act to balance, but you can do it.

Make mistakes and don’t try to erase them;

learn from them.

Challenging yourself and struggling with your thoughts is hard,

but not doing so and missing out is worse;

Having a meal out with your family is better than staying at home whilst they go.

Just know your limits. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Read ‘Tuesday’s with Morrie’, take long baths, snuggle up in bed and watch TV. Ask someone for a hug, smile at a stranger. Laugh for no reason at all. Cry if you want, scream if you need. Feelings are just feelings, don’t be afraid. They are a part of you but they do not define you. Feel them, watch them pass, they will not stay forever.

Don’t be ashamed to say anything,

and don’t blame yourself – this is an illness (but that’s not an excuse neither).

Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers;

it’s a hard thing to learn but when it boils down to it, this is your life and it’s down to you –

people might walk away.

When shit happens in life, which it does, that’s not a free pass to let your eating disorder win –

let it push you forwards;

you need to be strong to cope and that means eating.

I know it won’t feel like it, but it’s worth it.

I know it won’t feel like it, but every step, positive or negative, is a part of your recovery;

you are always learning,

and one day you’ll see it like pieces of a jigsaw fitting together.

Never give up.

Everything happens for a reason,

and that reason is usually you.

I continue to search for motivational quotes. I pin them on Pinterest, text them to friends, or now that I have this blog, I blog about them.

Perhaps one of my favorite ever is this:

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The hard part is the learning.

On Loving Myself…

The amount of self-loathing that we seem to have for ourselves as Christians never ceases to break my heart. Our inability to love ourselves may be one of the biggest problems in the Church today. For until we learn to love ourselves as God wants us to, our ability to love others will be limited and deformed.

When we love ourselves, we become less interested in what others think about us and more interested in what God thinks. When we love ourselves, we don’t do things just to get noticed or praised or accepted.

Learn to love yourself. Your ability to love yourself will have a direct impact on your ability to love God and love your neighbor. – Dynamic Catholic

For the longest time my therapist would tell me, you have to learn to love yourself. I thought she was crazy. I’d heard so much throughout my life about self-sacrifice, self-denial, etc. that loving myself seemed selfish. It took me a long time to understand what she meant.

She would urge me to see myself like I saw the little kids I used to nanny, to love myself as I loved them. I remember getting very frustrated and spitting out, “but they don’t know better and I know better.”  She just gave me the look – you know the one.

I read this book by my therapist’s suggestion. Then she had me read it again. It helped me to start understand how I talked to myself, how hard on myself I could be, and how it wasn’t fair.

I started to understand where that came from and how I learned to blame myself for everything. I started to accept that other people in my life weren’t perfect. I started to accept the hurt and to stop the hurt from defining me.

“Know that what happened to you was not okay. And no reason – no story – could ever be good enough to excuse your being discounted, made to doubt what you thought and believed, and forced to deny what you felt. And nothing you ever did made you deserve it.” – The Princess Who Believed in Fairy Tales

And so I’ve learned to love myself. And stop blaming myself. And I’ve learned to see myself as God sees me – even in my moments of greatest weakness and failure. And I’ve learned that not to do so would be to fail to see myself the way God wants me to see myself.

“You have always been good enough to be loved. Not because of what you said or did not say, or what you did or did not do, but simply because you are a child of the universe. The time has come to honor that which you have denounced for most of your life.” – The Princess Who Believed in Fairy Tales

And this is what I want to remember this Christmas, that I am loved as I am. I don’t have to be worthy to enter into that stable. In fact, I never will be worthy. But I am going to marvel in God’s love for me and I will try to love myself the way he loves me.

“We are saved from our loneliness because God is love and He can’t stand to leave us by ourselves, to ourselves.

That is the message of Christmas. The message of Christmas is not that we can make peace. Or that we can make love, make light, make gifts, or make this world save itself.

The message of Christmas is that this world’s a mess and we can never save ourselves from ourselves and we need a Messiah.

For unto us a Child is born.” -Ann Voskamp

 

What I have in common with Mark Zuckerberg…

I try to be a positive person – that is after all what this whole blog is about – seeing alternate perspectives. But there is a reason I am “trying” to be a more positive person. (Apparently there is a need there.)

One thing I have really struggled with is being understanding with the people who make New Year’s resolutions to come to the gym… because… well, you are on my treadmill.

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Okay, I’m not really that bad, but yes it is frustrating to have your routine thrown off.

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Not that I consider myself royalty or anything.

So, two years ago in order to preserve my sanity and avoid thinking nasty thoughts about people. I decided to switch my routine for the two weeks until things settled down at the gym in the evening. (Okay, that was just plain mean – true – but mean.)

resolutions

Turns out I LOVE morning workouts.

monday-morning-workouts

… Usually…

They make me feel alive. They’ve cut down on my headaches. They help me wake up and try to be nicer to those around. Sometimes I role out of bed with time for just a fifteen minute workout – but it is enough to get my moving.

So after a 2014 of success resolution keeping, I set out to do the same for 2015.

My resolution for 2015 is to read a book every two weeks – so I’m a little behind. (I’m wrapping up both 21 and 22 this week. – I’m a bit of a multi-book reader. I like to have something nonfictional, spiritual, and fiction on hand at all times.)

Turns out Mark Zuckerberg has the same resolution. So now I really have to finish!

Next year’s resolution is up in the air – something about slowing down and having more time for people… Or something about practicing gratitude… I have a couple weeks to pin that down.

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Good Bye

I didn’t get a chance to say good bye. I don’t think you know how much it aches. Actually I think you do know – and that makes it hurt even more.

It is like a bad breakup. But you weren’t my boyfriend… You were my “person.” You stood by me as I found myself.

It is crazy how the only thing getting me through this is what you taught me. That even as I try to move on from you being gone, your words and advice are what is carrying me forward.

One forgets what this feels like… This ache. The physical pain of missing someone – it is no exaggeration.

Time does heal. And pain becomes a foggy memory. I know this was meant to be. I couldn’t need you forever. So that knowledge helps.

But why? Why the silence? Why no goodbye? Why did you go back on your promise that we could talk one more time?

I try to trust you with my head but my heart aches. Tears are good. They say they express what we can’t say with words… But I don’t have time to cry. I cried with you.

I don’t need you anymore… I knew I would miss you. But the lack of closure leaves a gaping hole.

Maybe you know something I don’t know. But I thought I knew you better than this. Maybe it would be worse if I would have tried to say goodbye… Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I think I deserved the chance to try.

I am trying to move on. And mostly I’m trying to be patient with myself as it is taking way more time than I’d like.

Each day I try again. And I will not give up.

And the one phrase that I will never forget that you shared with me:

“You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe, and smarter than you think.”