This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness (#NEDAwareness) Week. So in honor of that, I wanted to write a little bit about what re...

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness (#NEDAwareness) Week. So in honor of that, I wanted to write a little bit about what recovery has been like for me, and what I have learned.

I have been recovered for many years. So these days recovery looks pretty damn good. My life is what I want it to be, what I have made it. Not every day is a breeze, life is still full of ups and downs. But at least I am experiencing true happiness. And I won't lie to you, it took a very long time to get here.

The first step was of course deciding that I wanted to live. The next step was love. I had to learn to take care of myself, to love myself and eventually my body. I'm sure this is as hard for everyone else as it was for me. And it takes more than just eating healthy and exercising in moderation. I've had to learn not to be stressed out all the damn time. I've had to learn how to relax. I've had to learn to accept myself for who I am. Instead of over-analyzing every aspect of my life, I try to, ya know, live it. Instead of constantly worrying if I'm enough, I regularly have to take a step back and realize that "enough" is right up there with "perfection" and "balance" on the list of illusions the world is trying to sell you. There is no such thing as enough. You have to let that fear go. You are beyond enough. But it doesn't matter how many times I or anyone else tells you that. You have to want, really want, to believe that yourself.

This year's NEDAwareness theme is "Let's Get Real". So complete, unfiltered truth here. Recovery can be a fucking nightmare. But guess what? If you're letting your eating disorder consume you, you're already living the worst nightmare imaginable. Recovery might suck large but it's nothing compared with what you're constantly doing to yourself. I know you might feel numb a lot of the time and so you think living with your illness is not that bad. But as your body slowly deteriorates, the numbness won't be enough. Eventually all you will feel is pain. All you will see are nightmares, even when you're awake.

Recovery makes you face those nightmares. It requires that you quit hiding behind your illness and instead stand up to it. It forces you to shed that numbness and feel everything, no matter how painful. It usually includes therapy of some kind, whether you want it or not. And in it, even if it takes years and years, you will have to talk about all the things you don't want to talk about. The primary one being why you are doing this to yourself. You may not, like I did not, know why at first. And that will be part of the challenge. Sorting through all your own agonizing feelings and memories to find the source.

I spent many years in recovery not knowing why I felt the way I did, why I had started hurting myself in the first place. I spent most of those years not really trying to figure it out, but instead trying to put it behind me and hope I was past the worst of it. It wasn't until depression came back and knocked me on my ass after so many years of recovery that I sought out treatment again. That I started to dig for that why. That I realized I would never be free until I understood it.

And after a lot more work and soul-searching, I found my answer. Like a revelation, the pieces started to fall into place. And I began to understand the most important piece of the entire puzzle. The piece I think is critical to everyone's recovery. That this was not my fault.

It is not your fault!

It is not your fault. It is not your fault. Say that to yourself, over and over until you believe it. These are powerful words that have the ability to help you take that next step in recovery. Once you believe them, you will realize the next steps are entirely in your control and up to you. It was not your fault it started. But now you choose to continue down the self-destructive path that leads to a life of misery and likely an early death. Or you choose to find a different path. Your own path instead of your eating disorder's path. This path is still hard, uncertain, and full of challenges. But it is yours to make it what you want. And trust me when I say, it is a beautiful path.

Life in recovery is messy, imperfect, surprising, and will still often feel out of your control. But it is beautiful in spite of, and often because of, all of it's so called imperfections. All of the lies your eating disorder is feeding you couldn't be farther from the truth. Life is worth living. You are worthy. You have no idea what amazing experiences life has in store for you. No matter how bad life can suck sometimes, there is still always wonderful things along with the challenges. Don't let your eating disorder steal all of life's joy from you. Don't let it steal your life. And never forget...

Recovery is worth it.

So what does your self-care routine look like? Anyone else sick of articles and ads asking you that question? I know I am. I'm real...

So what does your self-care routine look like?
Anyone else sick of articles and ads asking you that question? I know I am. I'm really sick of seeing yoga ads that look like their selling sex and yoga clothes instead of just encouraging you to try yoga. "Treat yourself" or "take care of you" slogans are being used to try and sell you all sorts of things, from clothes and beauty products to prescription drugs and overpriced exercise programs. As if spending a bunch of money on crap you don't need counts as self-care. I know I'm not the only one who's sick of being targeted. I recently read this article about what self-care really looks like. It hit home on a lot of points so I'm going to share a few with you. My favorite first (on what self-care is)...
"It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unexceptional. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends."
Yes! All of that. Right there.

I've always felt pushed by society and pulled by my own desires to be exceptional. Events in my childhood left me often wishing I was normal, but at the same time being afraid of it. I believed being normal wasn't good enough. I was smart and strong and so had to be proving that at all times. While I think it's good to challenge ourselves, it's hard not to let this mentality go too far. It's an easy slip into being a perfectionist, where nothing is ever good enough.

I know perfection isn't achievable. I know life is rarely going to balance. Both perfection and balance are illusions that society tries to tell you are real. But I do want to feel that I'm doing enough, while actually taking care of myself. But I don't want self-care to be on my mental checklist of things I have to remember to do everyday. It should be something that comes naturally, something that we just all do for ourselves because it feels good and is a great way to enjoy our lives. It shouldn't be something I end up only doing because I get so overwhelmed with life that I literally quit functioning until I get some rest.

It's not always quite so extreme. Sometimes there is a bit of balance. Sometimes I take care of myself because it feels good and not because I've worked myself to exhaustion. Sometimes I don't make a stupid to-do list for the weekend and I just rest and spend time with my family. Sometimes I take a bath because it's relaxing and not because I'm sick. Sometimes I take a vacation because it's fun and not because I'm in desperate need of a break from my life. And when I look at self-care with the re-defined thoughts brought up in that article, I feel a lot better about what I do.

My house will never be perfectly clean. Five minutes after we clean it there's toys and dirty clothes strewn all over the damn place or someone spilled something or smeared chocolate on something or brushed their teeth (which means toothpaste everywhere). I've learned to let go of the illusion that my identity as a wife and mom is somehow tied to the cleanliness of my house. How tidy my house is, is not a reflection of how good of a woman I am. It's simply a reflection of the fact that we LIVE in this house. 

And having abs and fake friends are on the list of things I just don't have time for, and that's okay. Because those things do not help my life. Fake people tend to have a negative influence on me. People that talk too much about the superficial things in life, things that I try my best to ignore, I find a challenge to be around. Either because it's things I simply do not care about, or it's things I'm trying not to care about. Like abs for example. Who doesn't want nice abs? But I've spent years trying to have a positive body image, and stressing about my abs does not help my cause. I simply don't have the room or willpower for these types of people in my life right now.
"It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others."
Yeah it is. You can't make everybody happy. It's never gonna happen. I have a tendency to be a people pleaser. Even the aforementioned fake people, I used to want everyone to like me. But at some point, I started to lose the energy to give a shit what everyone thought. I try not to worry about making anybody happy now except the people I care about. And for them, I make a lot of sacrifices. I tend to doubt myself there and worry that I'm not giving enough, because sometimes I let them down too. But that's crap. I know deep down that I'm giving my best. It may not always look how I imagined it would. But I know it's my all because I'm not holding back on the people I love.

Sometimes I have to choose between doing something I need and doing something for someone else. And sometimes those sacrifices happen and I put the other person first. And other times I have to put myself first. That's what self-care really looks like for me. Learning my limits, knowing when to say no. And the real challenge for me, not feeling guilty about it afterwards.
" is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from."
That is really the best definition of self-care. Mostly we run around like crazy, trying to do everything for everyone all the time. And when we finally take a break it really does feel like an escape. And sometimes during that break you'll get that urge to keep running far away from your life. It's okay to admit it, we've all felt it at some point I'm sure. But I don't want to feel that feeling ever again. I love my life. For whatever reason I sometimes allow it to overwhelm me and stress me out, but it doesn't have to. In those moments when I stop, and be still, and really listen, I see the truth. I already have everything I've ever wanted. I don't need to overwork myself. I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I can just be happy and enjoy this beautiful life that I've made for myself.

Well then 2018 is already hauling ass isn't it? I completely missed IWSG last month, but if you read my posts about Sebastian ( here...

Well then 2018 is already hauling ass isn't it? I completely missed IWSG last month, but if you read my posts about Sebastian (here and here), then you understand I was a wee bit occupied worrying about my darling son. Quick update there, he's doing much better. Only mild headaches this last month. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

So this month's question is...
What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

When I first read that I thought oh that doesn't really apply to me, because I don't really write in any one "genre". But the more I thought about that I realized, that's not entirely true. On my blog I definitely bounce around topics, but they're all basically non-fiction articles about one thing or another. And then my book is also a non-fiction, personal history type. So that would put everything I currently write about in the non-fiction genre.

So what do I love about it? Simply put, I like the truth. I like to tell stories too, and I'm sure I'll try my hand at a good, old fashion fiction story one day. But right now, there's so much to write about just from my life. The here and now. The past that brought me here. I find it all very fascinating. It's also just what my blog name says, a journal. It's life as it's happening for me. I already have enough years of posts that it's interesting to go back and read stuff from a few years ago. It's just another thing I find helpful for learning about myself and growing as a person, and especially in my writing.

I love that anybody can come to my blog and know that whatever they read, it will be true. Of course it's my truth, which may not be your truth, but that's the point isn't it? All of us are here together, but we're not all having the same experience. Talking, reading, and writing about each other's lives is how we all learn from each other and about humanity. The more we understand each other, the better we will communicate, and ultimately (hopefully) get along better.

The other thing I love about non-fiction is trying to assist and educate people. Writing has been not only a great, therapeutic outlet for me, but has given me the opportunity to help people. I've reached others with eating disorders, and have I think, at least been some help there, even if it's only been to give them hope that recovery is real and possible. And because of our experiences with Sebastian, I've educated myself about neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and have been able to help spread awareness about this, not-so-long-ago, unheard of genetic disorder.

Well it's late and I'm tired, and that's enough of my truths for today. I have a lot more posts being written in my brain, so hopefully I'll make time to get them out of my head in the next couple weeks. Until then, hope you're all enjoying 2018! :)

You all got time to hear this shit because I have good news! Sebastian does not have a brain tumor! And more good news, he hasn't had a...

You all got time to hear this shit because I have good news! Sebastian does not have a brain tumor! And more good news, he hasn't had a bad headache in a whole week!

First, in case you didn't hear, Sebastian made it through the MRI without wiggling at all. The tech said he didn't have to re-do a single image and he did better than many adults! They were also very impressed that Brian had him practice ahead of time. I think the practice helped a lot, and that we impressed upon him how expensive important it was for him to be still for it.

We saw Sebastian's neurologist yesterday and she reviewed the radiologist's report of the MRI with us. There were a couple of spots, what they call Unidentified Bright Objects (UBOs), because they show up as just a bright spot on the image. They have no mass and so are not pushing on anything. They are very common on MRIs of kids with NF1 and do not cause any problems that they know of. I stumbled my way through a few abstracts of studies done on these spots, and they are studying the correlation of UBOs with learning disorders. But it didn't sound like anything definitive had come from these yet. Still very interesting as they all mentioned that a majority of NF1 patients had these spots on their MRIs, but only while they're young. Apparently the spots can lessen or go away entirely as they grow up. Fascinating, and definitely worth further study, but thankfully nothing to be concerned about.

The neurologist thinks Sebastian likely experienced his first migraine (and hopefully last in my mind), probably triggered from illness, since he'd been so sick right before. There's quite a long family history of migraines on my side, so it's not surprising between that and NF1, that he may suffer from headaches. The good news about that is there are plenty of us in the family with experience in figuring out headache triggers. So I'm confident we will be able to figure out his and help him avoid the pain as much as possible. 

With this in mind, we also took him to see my naturopath yesterday, as I knew from my own experience that natural medicine tends to be much more helpful in finding the source of things like headaches. And giving you gentler treatment options as well. Here we talked about things like diet, probiotics, supplements, and essential oils. I'm not against treating him with Ibuprofen, but I want to save that for when it's really bad. I like having other options for whenever it's not so bad, and ideas on working towards preventing it.

In my own experience, headaches are more often than not caused from something basic. Not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, eating unhealthy, and not getting enough exercise are at the top of the list. For me the list extended into things like inhaling any fragrances or chemicals, which can trigger an instance migraine complete with light sensitivity and nausea (seriously people, lay off the perfume and cologne, you're killing me). So yes, migraines suck, but I feel much more confident and prepared on how to handle this than any other diagnosis they may have thrown at us.

Next steps will all depend on if they come back at all, and if so when, how bad, any obvious cause, etc. So we'll see what happens. But in the meantime, I'm going to keep celebrating every win we get on this NF journey. And doing my happy dance, which I'm not gonna lie, probably looks a little something like this:

Well Happy New Year! I sure hope your year has started off better than ours. It's been, well, challenging to say the least. And not j...

Well Happy New Year! I sure hope your year has started off better than ours. It's been, well, challenging to say the least. And not just since the new year, but for almost a month now. As if the holidays aren't stressful enough, we had to add a hefty dose of illness to ours.

It all started on December 17th. Sebastian began throwing up rather suddenly. It seemed to be some sort of stomach virus as Oscar developed the symptoms later that day as well. They both recovered quickly from the stomach part but also seemed to develop colds right afterwards. Nothing too surprising as it is Oscar's first winter in preschool and Sebastian had made it most of the school year so far without getting too sick. Thankfully, Brian and I managed to avoid the stomach part of it but I did catch their cold which hung around for weeks. Typical winter for me.

The odd part happened a few days after the boys seemed to be through the worst of this bug. In the middle of the night on Oscar's birthday, the 22nd, Sebastian woke up screaming in pain with a headache. His exact words were "my head is exploding." Not exactly the words you want to hear your child use...ever. We did what we could to calm him and gave him some children's tylenol. He suffered on and off for several days. By Sunday we were very concerned and called the advice nurse and his pediatrician's office to get the on-call doctor. Both said the same thing. We should probably go to the ER if we think it's that serious.

We hesitated at that. Not only because the ER is obscenely expensive, not covered by our insurance unless the deductible has been met, and a ridiculously long wait for mediocre healthcare. But because we weren't sure if the doctor really believed Sebastian needed emergency care, or if it was because he has NF1. Headaches are very common among people with NF. Sometimes it's from a tumor, but not always. The fact that he had been sick a few days before and was still fighting a cold made us question if this was really an NF issue versus just a really bad sinus headache. Sebastian has always had a low tolerance for pain and been on the sensitive side, which makes it very difficult to tell when something is serious. 

So we waited it out, got him in to see his doctor on the 26th. She was uncertain about the cause of his headaches and remained on the fence about if we should go to the ER still. The issue being that scheduling imaging and getting the results takes a long time. We were very frustrated by this. Why is our system setup in a way that we can't get urgent healthcare? It's only super slow or emergency for things like this, no in between. And yes, I called EVERY urgent care in our area, and not a single one of them have a CT scan or MRI machine. The doctor recommended going to the ER if any new symptoms developed or the headaches continued after the cold symptoms were gone.

The cold went away and the headaches continued, but just in the afternoon and at night. He woke in agony again late on the 27th, and so, sick of the uncertainty, Brian took him into the ER. They did a CT scan and said it was clear. The doctor labeled them "tension headaches" and said to keep treating with Ibuprofen and Tylenol.

Tension headaches seems like a very broad diagnosis, especially since he's had no history of headaches. It sounded more like one of the many labels that actually means "we don't know." Sometimes, instead of a vague diagnosis, I'd prefer the doctors were honest and just admitted to not knowing. Some people think the label helps. But going on 5 years now knowing about Sebastian's NF, I'd have to disagree with that. We have the label. It doesn't really help, but instead trades the stress of not knowing with too much knowledge. We know all the things that might go wrong. It makes every tiny thing that happens to him into something much bigger. Maybe he does have a tiny tumor in his head somewhere causing these headaches. Or maybe he just has a lingering sinus infection, crappy posture which is hurting his neck, clenching his teeth, an unknown food or environmental allergy, not drinking enough water, not sleeping enough, etc. etc. forever and ever. The list of things that can cause a headache is ridiculous.

But as everything with NF, we simply do not know. And the only way we have to even attempt to know, is to run more tests. The headaches continued at night for over a week. Some nights it wasn't so bad and others we slept very little. It got to the point where we started giving him Ibuprofen in the evening before dinner just to avoid the onslaught of pain. And it gave us all some much needed sleep. Then Oscar caught yet another stomach virus, and two days later it hit the rest of us at the same time. It's been a rough couple of days. But oddly enough, Sebastian has not complained of a headache since then. Maybe he's just been distracted by the stomach pain? Guess we'll see tonight as we're all on the mend now.

But last week when it was still bad, we told the doctor we were still concerned even though it didn't seem to be an emergency. They tried to schedule an MRI but of course their soonest available was several weeks out. They put in an urgent request to a different hospital, this time at OHSU (which has been better anyways in our experience), and he is going in tomorrow afternoon.

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know we've avoided the MRI for years because for a child, it requires full anesthesia. In the past we were told the youngest a kid had made it through without being sedated was 9. Not sure when this changed, but now they offered a different option. They can let him watch a movie instead of sedating him. This was amazing, and hilarious, news. Amazing that there's a chance he can do this without the drugs. And hilarious because what does that say about TV? Yep, we're still laughing.

So Brian, being the resourceful man he is, decided it would be a good idea to have Sebastian "practice" for the MRI. He had him lay on cushions on the floor and watch the TV upside down, but this didn't seem quite enough, or good on his neck. Even in that awkward position, he made it about 30 minutes without moving. But Brian worked on a better design, and came up with this:

That's an iPhone above the glass

He's made it the 45 minutes, but I did see him wiggle a couple times. Hopefully that will be acceptable as tomorrow is almost here. If you have any positive vibes, healing energy, prayers, magic crystals, or whatever happy thoughts you have to send our way, we could use it and are, as always, grateful for your support.

And just like's December. And the first Wednesday of the month, which means IWSG time! If you're interested in joinin...

And just like's December. And the first Wednesday of the month, which means IWSG time! If you're interested in joining the fun or want to know more, visit their website.

Today's question:
As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?
Well this question is kind of perfect for what I wanted to write about anyways. If you read last month's post or follow me on Instagram or FB, you likely know that I participated (and completed woop!) in NaNoWriMo this year. I finished out the month with 51,597 words. Is it done? Helllll no. Just as I anticipated, it is a giant mess of a first draft. It's 99 pages of word vomit, no joke. It's definitely not what I want it to be yet, but there are glimmers of it in all that word vomit. It will be raw. It will be real. And it could make you cry, laugh, and likely say "ewwww" more than once.  But undoubtedly your next question is the one I kept being asked by anyone I mentioned NaNo too....what am I writing about?

More than once that question caught me off-guard. Not because it's a weird question, duh it's totally obvious. But for some silly reason, I hadn't given a whole lot of thought to the fact that if I told people I was doing this, they'd want to know what I was writing about. Well, I am writing the story of my eating disorder, from its deceptive beginnings to its defeat. Despite my openness about it on this blog and social media, it's not something I actually talk with very many people about.

I didn't realize just how uncomfortable it was to talk about until I told a few people. Weird how it's so much easier for me to write about these things than to say them out loud. Not that it's easy to write about either, but it's a whole lot less easy to talk about it. Guess I'll have to add giving a speech about it to my I-do-NOT-want-to-do-this-so-I-guess-I-have-to-do-it-someday bucket list.

Writing this story has been painful, emotional, and insanely difficult. More than once I wanted to quit because "WHY am I putting myself through this?!" But then I'd remember a few important things. Like that I need to do it. For my fellow eating disordered peeps but also for myself. I can't really explain why, but for some reason it feels like closure for a long open wound. And if something is really hard, maybe that's a good reason to do it.

So as I look back at 2017, I see plenty of successes and failures of course. The recent NaNo experience being freshest in my mind, is a combination of both success and failure. I'm proud because I did it, I actually made myself write my first draft. Something I didn't anticipate actually doing this decade even. But it also feels like a step back because reliving this shitty experience over and over again so I can write it is like violently ripping open that still healing wound. But I know I'm better for it. If I could backtrack, I'd probably think twice about who I told I was participating in NaNo. Or at least mentally prepared myself for saying it out loud more than once. Watching people's looks of surprise, confusion, and sympathy was well...uncomfortable.

There were many other successes and failures this year. Figuring out my gut issues was a whole lot of failure for a long time, but looks like it's coming out as a success finally, yay! Vacationing in Belize, huge success. Continuing to kick ass at work. Always working hard to be a good mom and wife. Making big progress with my depression. Sure there's stuff that could've gone differently, but I prefer not to dwell on that hindsight bullshit. Obviously if you'd known how things would turn out, you'd do them different. But that defeats the purpose of life. We don't know how our lives are going to turn out. All we have is right now. So let's just enjoy right now.

In case I don't make time for another post this month, Happy Holidays my dear reader. You are awesome for being here and reading my ramblings. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so that means time for more IWSG. Today's question is: Win or not, do you usually fini...

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so that means time for more IWSG. Today's question is:

Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

More than likely your first question is, what's a "NaNo" project? NaNo for NaNoWriMo....don't worry, I didn't know what that was until recently either. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people participate in this writing challenge where they attempt to write 50,000 words during the month of November. The idea is to get a first draft going of whatever novel you want to write.

I have never participated in this challenge before. I have never tried to write a novel. So obviously the answers to today's questions are no and no. But this year, considering that burning desire I've been having to get my whole eating disorder story written, I've decided to join the fun. I signed up just yesterday and will start writing as soon as I finish posting this.

50,000 words in 30 days means I have to write over 1600 words a day. I'm not gonna lie, this sounds completely overwhelming and not really do-able at all, given the busyness of life right now. Do I think I can meet the goal? Yes. Do I think it will be a good first draft? Hell, no. It will be the shittiest of shitty first drafts ever, but if it gets me started, then it'll be worth. If it gets me writing more regularly, it will definitely be worth it. If I don't meet the challenge, oh well, the goal for me is really just to try. So as long as I put in an honest effort, I will feel like I succeeded. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

So...on this note, you will probably not hear much from me this month. I will be holed up at the computer each night, undoubtedly with a giant glass of wine and my vape pen full of CBD oil, seeing how many words are really stored up inside me. If anything good comes out I might share an excerpt here and there to get some feedback.

I'm scared and excited. This is going to be really hard. But I'm betting it'll be totally worth it.

Aug 7th, 2015 This week I'm at a nerd conference for work. While sitting through the boring introductions during a session, I made ...

Aug 7th, 2015

This week I'm at a nerd conference for work. While sitting through the boring introductions during a session, I made the mistake of checking Facebook real quick to fill my time. I saw the #metoo hashtag, and not knowing what it was about, I of course looked it up. After reading about this sexual harassment and abuse awareness, I went back to the Facebook search of that hashtag, which shows you first all your friends that have posted about this. As I scrolled for what seemed like forever, my eyes started to fill with tears. Now I'm not much of a crier really, especially not in front of anyone but a few select people, so I swallowed that lump and quickly put away my phone. That was not the time to think too much about that.

It moved me beyond words. It's not that sexual violence is news to me, it's the sheer number of women (and I'm sure men, but I only saw women in my feed) that have been hurt by this that hit me hardest. Since the movement is about both harassment and rape, I at first thought I shouldn't share any of my own experiences, because lucky for me I've never been raped. And really harassment doesn't seem like a big deal next to rape in my mind. But then I thought, that's not right either. Even if most of the people posting about this have only been harassed and not raped, that's still too many. It's still uncalled for and still needs to change. And the thought process behind rape is probably similar to harassment...the idea that the person deserves to be treated like they have no say in the matter. That it's okay to use your power to manipulate those under you. That it's okay to victimize someone. It's not. So here we go.

I remember being sexually harassed before I even knew what sex was. Some dirty pervert grabbed my ass in a grocery store one time when I was just a little kid. I had no idea why or what that was about, but I of course got scared and quickly ran back to my mom. I don't remember telling her what happened, but I do remember the fear and shame that immediately followed. Now as a parent my reaction to the memory is seriously appalled. Who does that shit?! If someone touched my kids that way I'd freak out! And I'm sure my mother would've done something as well if I'd told her.

As I'm now sure is a typical scenario for most young girls, I was harassed plenty growing up. Whether it was catcalls, whistling, inappropriate remarks, suggestions, or groping, there were too many times over the years to recall each one. I just know there were way more than should've been allowed, let alone normal. There were even a couple incidents in my teenage years that got dangerously close to date rape, but thankfully I was able to stop it before that happened. But I know way too many women that weren't that lucky.

I get that teenage boys are horny. But guess what? So are teenage girls. I know, I used to be one. So that is no excuse. But for whatever reason, not nearly as many guys get harassed by girls as the other way around. So why is this so one-sided? Why has no one taught guys that this is completely unacceptable behavior? Instead it was often written off with, well boys will be boys. Bull fucking shit. If my boys behaved like that I'd be outraged. I can't even think of what the appropriate punishment would be, but there's no way they'd get away with "it's just a guy thing." I think I've already done a pretty good job of teaching them boundaries, and will continue to do so throughout their life. I just don't understand why everyone isn't doing the same thing. But now that I think on it, teaching your kid boundaries is a whole other blog post for another day.

Or how about those excuses that "she was asking for it" by the way she dressed or behaved? This argument is old but still enrages me just as much as the first time I heard it. If a woman chooses to show off her body in public, that in no way means she's asking to get harassed. Maybe she is looking for attention, but I guarantee she doesn't want people to be rude or violent. Maybe she wants a compliment, like hey, you look good! etc. but not hey, nice tits! with an ass grab. NO! For goodness sakes can't anyone give a compliment without crossing that line? Yes you can. I know as soon as my boys start showing an interest in dating, I will be teaching them appropriate ways to pay a compliment without crossing any lines.

The even bigger problem with not teaching your kids boundaries and appropriate behavior, is they often grow up to continue that terrible behavior. And if you do this as an adult, the punishment if you get caught sexually harassing anyone, is much bigger...or at least we all hope it is! Realistically that depends on the situation as we all know too many people still get away with this bullshit, even in the workplace.

I'm lucky enough to work at a small company, thankfully full of respectful guys where I not only never have to deal with any harassment, but not even any disrespect. At previous jobs I did encounter plenty of sexism though, which often felt like borderline harassment. There's still more men in my field than women, although thankfully that's changing and I'm hoping within my lifetime I'll see it even out a bit more. But when I started, I was not only a minority, but was even called "an anomaly". I got a lot of weird looks, suspicion that I couldn't possibly know what I was talking about, being a girl, and very young. But as people gave me a chance, or in some cases had no choice but to give me a chance, they realized that I was not only smart, but was often more friendly than my coworkers. I had to go out of my way to be very nice and keep my mouth shut about those rude remarks to get some people to take me seriously. And while that was a frustrating experience, I know every woman who's been a minority in her field has had to face the same crap.

My goal is to do what I can to help ease the way for women in my field. And that's always meant I had to learn to deal with sexism and harassment. Speaking out when things are over the line is important, which I would not hesitate to do now if I encountered any harassment. But when I was starting out in my career, I was too afraid to speak up as I didn't want to fill anyone's stereotypical ideas of a woman in a man's field who cries harassment. That's really sad, and I wish I hadn't felt that way. I like to think if anything really over the line had happened, I would've said something. Thankfully it never did, so I don't know how I would've dealt with it for sure. But I do know I felt uncomfortable plenty of times and just kept my mouth shut. And it shouldn't have to be that way.

Ladies, and gentlemen, we should never feel like we have to keep quiet when we're harassed. You can't be comfortable in your job or life if you have to deal with harassment on a regular basis. It's better to say something. Yes if the person harassing you is an asshole, they might very well make it difficult for you. But so what? It's difficult being harassed too, so you might as well stand up for yourself and face the difficulties of that situation over staying quiet and feeling shamed. You owe it to yourself and to every other woman (or man) that's going to follow you. The more work we do on this now, the less our children and their children will have to put up with it. Think of how far the civil rights movement has come in the last 100 years! And think of how much farther it could go. But it takes everyone involved to stand up for themselves, and those around them.

Don't be afraid. Don't be ashamed. Don't be quiet. Help this end. Be heard.

Photo credit: Brené Brown I recently read the book "Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution." by Brené Brown...

Photo credit: Brené Brown

I recently read the book "Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution." by Brené Brown. I'd heard a couple of the author's Ted Talks before, but hadn't read any of her books yet. Then the chronic illness Facebook group I'm in decided to start a book club, and this was the first book they recommended. What an awesome book! I am so glad I decided to join in on the reading fun. Today's post isn't a typical book review, because I'm not a book critic. Instead it's about what I got out of the book, which was quite a bit.
"Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage."
For starters, this book is about why we should allow ourselves to be vulnerable. The reason being because it's the only way to live a full and authentic life. It's difficult for most of us, if not all of us, to do this. Being vulnerable means we will inevitably get hurt. Our instincts kick in and we immediately resort to fight or flight to protect ourselves. Especially if we were never taught how to correctly identify and deal with our emotions, specifically shame, we'll end up guarding ourselves over all sorts of things, even seemingly insignificant ones. Instead we need to realize that all this pain and discomfort is worth it so that we can truly live and love to our fullest extent.

Sebastian 10/03/2009
The first thing that came to mind when trying to think of a photo that represents vulnerability, was pictures of me with my babies when they were first born. I can't think of anything that makes me as vulnerable as parenting. It's the scariest thing I've ever done in my life, by far. Not like cliff diving scary, but love scary. True, unconditional love. Allowing yourself to love anything that much means opening yourself to endless hurt. We hurt when our kid's hurt, and growing up means lots of hurts. If you're anything like me, then simply the thought of anything bad happening to your kids causes you immediate discomfort. But we know it's inevitable, they will get hurt. They will experience pain, illness, heart break, and loss. And as their parents, we'll be right there suffering alongside them. But we'll also be there to teach them it's okay to hurt, feel shame and discomfort, and how to get back up.

Oscar 12/22/2013
"We own our stories so we don't spend our lives being defined by them or denying them."
The next big vulnerable spot in my life is of course my history with an eating disorder. Which leads me into the next topic in this book that really spoke to me. That was the idea of owning our stories. This section really helped my brain make a connection it had long been searching for. The answer to why, oh why, do I have that urge to share my eating disorder story? It's painful to recall, even more so to write down and share with the world, but I do it anyway. I always thought it was because I wanted to help others like myself, and that is true. But it's more than that. It's that desire to do exactly what that quote says. To not be defined by it or to spend my life denying it. I tried denial and avoidance for a long time, preferring to pretend I didn't have a problem, even after I was far down the road to recovery. I liked to tell myself the worst was in the past so there was just no point in thinking about it, talking about, or sharing it. But that never worked. It wouldn't stay bottled up. I could feel it in there like a time bomb. Either share it or it will explode and take me down with it.

So instead I shared my story. First it was just writing occasionally in a journal that no one ever read. Then it was little bits about it on this blog. And now it's the goal to write it all out, which will likely fill a whole book. And to figure out how to get the story to the people that will be helped by it the most. Then I think I will finally feel like I did it, like I shed myself of that definition and denial.

The rest of the book was about how to get our asses back up after they've been kicked. That's "The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution." part. The Reckoning is recognizing your emotions and that something is triggering them. And then being curious about why and how that is happening. The Rumble is the struggle to figure it out, the challenge and the uncomfortable part. The Revolution is the result of coming out on top of that struggle. This process will always change who we are.

Of course this part also brought me back to my own story, and how it followed that same path. I didn't know that's what was happening, and it sure took a long time. But once that real revolution part happened, the urge to share my story became too strong to ignore. Because I realized I had survived something really hard and there was no reason for me to feel shame over it. Instead I should be proud.

I've never thought of myself as a strong or brave person. I have as many fears and phobias as the next person and I avoid most things that cause a strong adrenaline rush. Whenever my fight or flight kicks in, my response is always flight. Run away and fast! This is really uncomfortable and there's no reason to go through it so run! But when it came to my eating disorder, running meant death. I had to stay and fight. And the fact that I was able to come out on top after a serious ass kicking, is something I am proud of. It made me want to be braver in more of my life. Because while every moment of it was insanely uncomfortable, in every way, it was worth it for the transformation my life has gone through. From a broken shell of a human being to one full of love, for others and finally, for myself.

So if you're looking for a little inspiration, motivation, or help understanding some of your emotions and struggles, pick up Rising Strong, or probably any of Brené Brown's books as I'm sure they're all wonderful. It will force you to think about things you'd rather not, but it will be so worth it.

For many years, I've had the urge to want to help others like myself. Others struggling through depression and eating disorders. I r...

For many years, I've had the urge to want to help others like myself. Others struggling through depression and eating disorders. I recently joined a couple of eating disorder support groups on facebook with this in mind. I quickly realized a few things. First, I was slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who need help and this is just in these groups! It just breaks my heart that so many people on this planet struggle as I did, with something as vital as eating. Second, I have to limit how much time I spend on there because I can't help everyone and I won't be able to help anyone if I let it all drag me down. And lastly, I realized I was right. I do have the ability to help now. I am far enough in my recovery that I can be supportive. I can read people's posts and while I can remember back to a time I completely related, I no longer have that urge to be that person anymore. For someone who was told by my first therapist that I would never completely recover, it's really amazing to realize how wrong that was.

Today's post is mostly for the people in these groups, and anyone else who stumbles upon my blog that has an eating disorder. Today I am here to give you hope. The hope that you can recover. The truth that it is possible. I'm living proof of that. It's not just something the people in your life tell you to try to make you feel better. Recovery is real. I won't lie to you, it's not easy. No part of it is, it's always hard. But the farther on the path of recovery you go, the easier it gets. Some days are harder than others of course, and I still have days where I have to wrestle with my thoughts. But it's not like it was 15 years ago, or even 5 years ago. I have way more good days than bad. Even with more stress in my life now with work, family, kids, health problems, etc. you name it. Life has not gotten any easier but I have learned healthy coping mechanisms instead of destructive ones.

It all comes down to a choice. My father gave me the advice long ago when I was in the worst of it. I didn't listen then of course, but later on I realized it was actually great advice. He said, "you're complicating things. Keep it simple. Do you want to live or do you want to die? You want to live. Do you want to be happy or miserable? You want to be happy." After that is where we part ways on opinions, because as someone who has struggled with depression on and off for most of my life, I know that it's not as simple as "just be happy". Yes you have a choice. But when you're depressed, it's very difficult to choose happiness. Often you feel like you don't know how. And I think eating disorders are always the result of severe depression, so the two go hand in hand, often feeding off each other and making the cycle worse and worse. But you still have a choice. The choice to try. The choice to not give in to every evil your eating disorder whispers to you, but to instead tell it to fuck off. The choice to find the beauty in your life instead of only the pain. The choice to turn your determination to hurt yourself into determination to love yourself.

My current (and wonderful 😊) therapist has a great question you can ask yourself while you're thinking on this. "Do you want to do this for the rest of your life?" This type of self-examination can really help put things into perspective. When we're trapped in the depths of an eating disorder or depression, we get wrapped up in only our current pain without even realizing it. But if we can step outside of that and see beyond what we're experiencing right now, we can help ourselves. Try to picture yourself 5, 10, 20 years down the road. I don't know about you, but I always like to picture my future self as happy and past whatever my current problems are, not still struggling with the same bullshit.

Failure, imperfection, "I can't do it", none of these things have a place in recovery. Fuck all of that. Perfection is an illusion, move past that myth. Control is bullshit. You can't control all the shit that happens in your life. You never will. That's the hard truth about life. Learning to to let go of the idea that we can control everything is a huge step to recovery. Controlling your eating will not fix anything in your life. It won't fix your problems with your family. It won't fix your relationships. It won't help you achieve your goals. Eating disorders are not the answer. They are a terrifying obstacle, but you will be so much stronger once you come out on top.

Here's something that really helped me get started. I set a few real life goals for myself. It's good to write them down somewhere you'll see them often. Get your degree, get that job you want, travel, skydive, have a family, whatever it is. And add "happiness" to that list. If you really think about what you want in life, combined with wanting happiness, you'll know I'm right. The eating disorder is holding you back, it will not get you what you want. Don't let it stand in your way. Don't let it destroy you. I know you feel weak, but you're not. I know deep down there is strength in there. We all have it, we just have to find it and use it to rise out of the hell we've created for ourselves.

If you choose life and happiness, then you can recover. If you work hard and stay determined to recover, you will. I think the hardest part is that first step, that choice, that hard decision. That moment, or moments, where you decide, I WANT TO LIVE! I don't want to die. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom first to find it, and sometimes you don't. Everyone's bottom is different. Some suffer most of their lives, others only for a few years, before they find their bottom, their place where they realize what they're doing to themselves. Where the reality hits you hard that if you keep doing what you're doing, you will die. But whether you get close enough to stare death in the face, or just catch a glimpse of it, you'll see your choice, clear as day. Life or death? Will you succumb or will you fight back?

Choose to fight. Choose life. You CAN do it. You CAN recover. Don't let eating disorders claim another beautiful life. You deserve to live.

Just a couple hours ago, I read a friend's blog post that was for "The Insecure Writer's Support Group." It's a blo...

Just a couple hours ago, I read a friend's blog post that was for "The Insecure Writer's Support Group." It's a blog link-up (or blog hop) for writers to share their insecurities about writing. As soon as I saw it, I thought, oh my gosh I need to be apart of this! So today I am doing my first post.

The first Wednesday of every month, everyone on the link-up tries to post about their insecurities. There's a new question each time to get you started. Today's question is:
Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in??
Well I have to say, yes I have definitely surprised myself. And every time I have, it was by doing exactly what the second question implies, by trying something out of my comfort zone.

The first surprise that comes to mind is poetry. From my teen years through college, I used to write poetry regularly. It was part of my eating disorder recovery, so much of what I wrote was about that. Most of it stayed tucked away in a journal, but occasionally I wrote a poem for a class and shared it. I surprised myself the most with one I wrote for a creative writing class I took for fun in college. It was definitely the best I'd ever written. In that class, we would put our writing up on the projector and let every one take turns helping criticize it. It was a tough class that definitely took me way out of my writing comfort zone. I'd never had a group of people pick apart my writing before, but I learned a ton. Poetry was the last assignment of the class, and mine turned out well enough that no one in the class, not even the teacher, had any changes to make. I was amazed and proud of myself. The saddest thing about it though, is that I lost the damn poem! I've searched through all my files many times over the years and never been able to find it. I just don't get how I didn't save a copy of that! Maybe because I never found it, and never thought I could recreate it or top it, or just my general insecurities, but I quit writing poetry regularly. I help Brian with song lyrics on occasion, but that's as close as I get. Guess I'll have to move past this insecurity and give poetry a fair chance again.

The other surprise is this blog. I never thought I'd share my writing with anyone regularly, so the fact that I've continued to do so for over 5 years has surprised me. I think one of my favorite surprises was a post I wrote a couple years ago called Enough. That was when I first started to allow myself to be vulnerable here on my blog. It spawned quite a few more posts since then where I reveal many more of my issues, flaws, and general insecurities with life. If it wasn't for that post and the giant step behind it of breaking out of my comfort zone, I probably would have quit blogging completely.

I'm currently reading a book called "Rising Strong". It's about owning your vulnerabilities and picking yourself up after a fall. I'm not even halfway in and already I'm hooked. It's exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it. And the fact that I came across a writing group about insecurity while reading this book was just too perfect. I'll write more about the book once I finish it, but for now I'll leave you with my favorite quote so far:
"When we own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling." - Brené Brown in Rising Strong

So dear reader, don't be afraid to pick up your pen or keyboard, and surprise yourself.

As I stumble along the path towards recovery, I'm reminded of a very simple, but powerful fact. I am not alone. There are likely mi...

As I stumble along the path towards recovery, I'm reminded of a very simple, but powerful fact. I am not alone. There are likely millions of people out there also suffering from chronic illnesses that follow a similar pattern to my own. That pattern being, I'm feeling great one minute, and the next I’m sick again. Now I have to suffer for awhile and slowly creep my way back out of illness and into recovery.

This is a pattern I've struggled through most of my life. As a child, I was diagnosed with asthma, and I managed to catch every bug that went around school (and still do catch everything my kids bring home). Then as a teenager and young adult, it was depression and anorexia that plagued me and dragged me down into the depths of hell on a regular basis. Then as an adult, there was the illness that was both my pregnancies, several injuries including a car accident, and now, the fun of SIBO. Basically one thing after another. But don't feel sorry for me, it's just life. The good thing from a life of chronic illness is, I'm very good at getting back into shape. Because of this, I figure I could offer up some tips on how to get this shit done. Keep in mind, I am no doctor, physical therapist, or anything of the like. This is simply a lifetime of illness talking.
Yoga w/ Sebastian, April 2011
Making your health a priority is really the only solution. That means getting enough sleep, reducing your stress level, eating healthy, and exercising. Easier said than done, I know! But today let's just talk about exercise. Specifically for those of us suffering from chronic or frequent illness, because let's face it, it's a little different for us than it is for the healthy athlete who rarely gets sick. They can go run a marathon or push themselves to the max at the gym and not feel the repercussions those of us less fortunate in our health do. For us, exercise needs to be well thought out. If we push too hard, it can often result in an injury or making us sicker. If we don't push at all, we'll be stuck in the rut of no or too little exercise, which isn't good either.
Yoga w/ Oscar, May 2016
The first hurdle is that oh-so-fine line between figuring out when you need to rest and when you need to get off your ass and start doing something. It's easy to make the wrong choice. If you sit on the couch for one too many days, it's that much harder to get moving again. On the other hand, pushing too hard before you're well often means a longer setback. What I've found works best is to never allow myself to not move at all for too long. Even if that just means getting up and pacing around the house and walking up and down the stairs a few times when you're sick. And as soon as you're up for it, go for an easy walk or do some very gentle yoga or stretching. It doesn't need to be intense, it just needs to be movement. Our bodies were not meant to be stationary.

Kid yoga
The next hurdle is listening to your body. Pain is your body’s warning system, the “hey you're doing this wrong or pushing too hard” signal. The old adage of "no pain no gain" is simply not true, or not entirely. I would say a little discomfort is normal, even good because it means you're working muscles that haven't been used enough. But true pain is not good. You have to honor your limits. It's the only way to avoid injury. I injured my right knee when I was about 11. It's given me hell on and off ever since. Now with a weakened immune system, it doesn't take much to make it hurt. To keep from re-injuring it, I've had to learn to actually stop when it hurts. To NOT push through the pain.

Sebastian & me, 4/21/2012, after my first 5k
And finally, the big hurdle: getting off your butt and moving. Once you're feeling back to health, it's important to increase your exercise VERY gradually. I have a bad habit of pushing too hard too soon and it never ends well. But if you can do it gradually enough, you can get back in shape without pain, injury, or more illness.

Let's talk examples. Say I’m just on the mend from being ill. The first couple of weeks, I start very gentle. How gentle depends on how sick I was and for how long. But for the average illness that lasts at least a week, like the one I'm in the midst of now (damn forest fires kicking my asthmatic ass), I'd say it looks something like this:

Walk Yoga Run/Bike Rest
Week 1 1 mile, 2-3x/ week 15-20 min., 2-3x/ week 2x/week
Week 2 1 mile, 3x/ week 15-20 min., 5x/ week 1-2x/week
Week 3 1 mile, 2-3x/ week 30 min., 5x/ week 1-2x/week 1x/week

Then by week 4 I'm back to normal, except at a relatively low intensity. If I make it past a month without getting sick again, then I start increasing distance and intensity. I know not everyone likes yoga, and that is totally fine. If it's not for you, find something else that's equally stress relieving and can be done in a relatively low intensity matter. If all you do is high intensity exercise, you will have a much more painful experience of getting back into shape. I used to be that person so I get it. But at some point you just get sick to death of injuring yourself and realize, hey, if I don't listen to my body, this isn't going to change. After all, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is indeed the definition of insanity. So be sane, be nice to yourself, and your body will be nice to you in return.

Sebastian & me, 3/5/2013, after my first 10k
Depending on your specific health issues, you might be thinking it's not even worth exercising because you never make any progress. I feel your frustration as I have the same one. Progress the last, over 2 years now, has been at a snail’s pace. But I've been in really good shape enough times to want to feel that good again. Everything in my body functioned better, so I know if I can get there again, it will help my recovery. And exercising even a little is still better than none. I bounce back from each relapse much quicker than when I'm doing nothing. So basically, I refuse to give up. And I wish the same determination for you too! 😁