Category Archives: Celebrations

23 Years, 23 Things

Today is my 23rd birthday- it’s not a milestone, it’s not a monumental one by any means but I find myself feeling more thankful for this birthday than I did for the last few. My heart over the past few weeks and months have been full, overflowing even. Here’s 23 things I’m grateful for (in no particular order).

  1. All of the wonderful, loving, kind, funny, generous, gracious people in my life. My mom and dad for being my best friends always. My step parents for their support. My sister for being the coolest oldest sister ever. My best friends for being the best people I know and keeping my head above water on days where I’m struggling. My partner for making me laugh while also making sure I feel loved and protected- and his incredible family for graciously welcoming me in over the past four years. I’m thankful for all the people I interact with on a daily basis, who keep me going, keep me laughing, keep me loving.
  2.  RECOVERY. Obviously. The past year has been unreal. I hardly recognize myself anymore. Sometimes when I’m reaching for the ice cream scoop at night or picking up an unexpected IMG_6201snack before work, I allow myself a few minutes to marvel at who I’ve become. Someone who’s unafraid of food. Someone who doesn’t force herself to exercise every day. Someone who can fully embrace life and can live spontaneously, without worrying about what and when she’ll eat, where and when she’ll exercise, if she’ll be “safe”. I’m so proud of that girl.
  3. Clean water. Such a simple, often overlooked thing but I am thankful each and every day that I have access to clean water- for drinking, for showering, for brushing my teeth. It’s such a simple thing but it’s something that so many people live without and something I remind myself to be thankful for daily.
  4. A new, full-time job at the New Hampshire Food Bank where I’ll be doing community outreach (working with SNAP, Summer Meals Program and Cooking Matters) and helping people who are food insecure. I am so excited about this position and feel grateful that this opportunity came up so soon after completing my dietetic internship. My start date is in a week and a half- wish me luck!
  5. A cozy, bright one-bedroom apartment in New Hampshire that is 100% all mine. After my internship year, I decided that I needed some time to myself to continue down this road of self discovery. My plans vacillated between a few different options, including living with my partner, but I realized I wanted (and needed) some time to myself in a place that I wanted to be before committing to that kind of change. Putting myself first was a very new feeling for me and I gotta tell ya, so far it feels good! I’m moving in Monday and I can’t wait to make it all my own.
  6. The opportunity to work with my big sister this summer! During the in between months going from
    my internship to my job, I’ve been working in a cute little shop that my sister manages. This marks the most time I’ve spent with her since before she left for college (in 2007) and it’s been so nice to spend time with her, her husband and her puppies. I’m so grateful for this time and so sad about not being able to see her everyday or hang out at her house or hunt for Pokemon together after work (she got me hooked guys). She’s so cool and conducts herself with a grace and style that I just do not have. I’m so lucky to have her. Also- she crafts some very cool things and has a cute little Etsy shop. My favorite are her Payne Killers which are aromatherapy scented pillows that are wonderful for recovery aches and pains. If you want to see her stuff, check out her site HERE.
  7. The democratic system. I, like many others, have been glued to my TV each night this week watching the Democratic National Convention and last week, I watched bits and pieces of the
    RNC. I have unabashedly been a Bernie fan from the beginning- well, that’s not true. I was a Hillary fan right out of the gate. But once Bernie came on the scene, he had my political heart. I have never seen a candidate that I agree so strongly with, nor have I ever seen such a genuine, down-to-earth, bullshit-calling  candidate (although it’s worth mentioning, I have only become wildly interested in politics over the last few years). I was blessed to be in New Hampshire during the political season- and had the opportunity to see Bernie (three times, not that I’m bragging)and 14 of the 16 Republican candidates. That being said, I was immensely proud and happy for our country to finally nominate a woman (a progressive, experienced, passionate, smart woman at that) for a major party presidential candidate. Even though I cried when Bernie gave his speech this week, I got chills watching Hillary accept the official nomination last night….but I’m still not taking this bumper sticker off my car.
  8. My two months home in between my internship and moving out for real. It’s been two months of family, good friends, relaxation, stress (the good kind), gin cocktails, eating dinner outside on summer nights, puppies (not mine, unfortunately), journaling and lots and lots of ice cream.
  9. A warm bed- in fact, more than one. So many people go to bed every night without their own bed or without a bed at all. There are so many families, living in the US and elsewhere, who live with no privacy and no space to call their own. For the last 23 years, I have always had my own room. After my parent’s got divorced, I had two beds all to myself. I still do. Without my own space, I wouldn’t be able to relax and read or concentrate on my writing or be able to watch as many episodes of Parks and Rec as I wanted to late into the night.
  10. EARTH. I got a love of nature from my parents and it runs deep. I love everything about the Earth- the stars, the sky, the trees, the grass, the dirt, the creatures. During my internship, I would say a little prayer out loud to myself on my way to work- a habit I’ve gotten out of now, but really need to get back into for my own peace of mind. The first thing I always gave thanks for was the Earth and all the things it has brought to my life. Part of the reason I’m moving to NH is for the hiking, the way everything is spaced out, the trees, the trails, the lakes. All that good Earth hiding away up there.
  11. Coffee. Coffee, coffee, coffee. Coffee with milk, coffee with cream. Coffee ice cream. Coffee gives me life. Note: I used to NEVER let myself have cream in my coffee but man sometimes some cream in your coffee really hits the spot.
  12. Wine. Wine, wine, wine. White wine, red wine, or a nice rose (my personal favorite). Cheap wine, expensive wine. Wine makes my already wonderful life just a tad better. Note: I used to avoid drinking alcohol to avoid the extra calories but now I am unashamed to have a glass of wine at the end of the day. Not that I’m some alcohol fiend but still, a good glass of wine every once in a while is quite lovely.
  13. My health and my access to healthcare. Ironically, my body had less aches and pains than it did last birthday when I was beating it into the ground. Eventually, obsessive exercise will catch up with you, as it did with me which has resulted in all sorts of knee, hip and foot pain. However, even though I’m achy, my body is recovering from all the hell I put it through over the past 7 years and I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful for my access to healthcare (not something everyone has, unfortunately) and the doctors who are and have treated me.
  14. Similarly, THERAPY. I love therapy. I think everyone should go to therapy (if it is available for them). I left my therapist in May when I left New Hampshire but am hoping to see her again soon. Even if I feel like I’m doing much (much) better than I was in the days I was seeing her, there’s still little pieces of things that come up where therapy really makes a difference. Seriously, go to therapy. It’s the best.
  15. I already mentioned him above but- my partner, Charles, is one of the best people in my life. I tend not to talk about him too much on my blog since I don’t think he feels great about being discussed in the big blog world but it’s my birthday and I’ll talk about him if I want to! Charles makes me laugh, he reminds me not to take life so seriously (something that I work on nearly daily). Throughout the last 4 years, he has seen me at my absolute lowest point. He saw the raw, real, miserable part of me that I tried to disguise to most other people in my life. And he saw me through it and loves me just the same. Our relationship has gotten stronger and simpler over the past few months and I’m so thankful for that.
  16. I have never, not ever, had to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Food and I have a complicated relationship but food insecurity has never been a part of my story. I’m thrilled to have accepted a job that will help people get access to food.
  17. My uncle’s healing and recovery! For almost 2 and half months now, my uncle has been in the hospital after a whole bunch of complicated, scary health problems. I am so happy that he is finally getting better and that I’ve been able to visit him twice now and see him on the upswing. Even though it’s been a long process, it’s so great to see him getting back to his old self.
  18. Books. Obviously. All books- fiction, juicy beach reads, memoirs, biographies. I’m particularly thankful for books by funny women like Amy Poelher, Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler (books I also re-read during moves to alleviate stress). There’s nothing I like better than curling up on a couch and getting sucked into a new book. It’s my favorite way to travel.
  19. The recovery community online! Honestly, I’m not sure I would have gotten this far without the community I’ve discovered. As I’ve mentioned before, I relied (rely) on the Minnie Maud method for recovery and at first, it took a lot of support and reliance on the people who were using/have used MM to recover. I’m now part of many different recovery/body positive forums that I use for inspiration, support and compassionate understanding. If you’re looking for extra support or want to hear more about things like this, please feel free to comment or email me at [email protected]!
  20. I’m equally thankful for the recovery and body positive accounts that I follow and connect with on Instagram. Some of my favorites include- @bodyposipanda, @nourishandeat, @thefuckitdiet,@thelifeofandie, @goofy_ginger and @dothehotpants- all of whom I’ve connected with in some way or another and have immense respect and gratitude for. Seriously, if you’re looking for badass, uplifting and refreshing badass women, there you have it. There are lots of other accounts that keep me motivated and show me love and support on the daily. If you’re not already following me, check it out here!
  21. The ability to be present for my own life. Since I started recovery, I realized how many times I was
    absent to my own life and that makes me so sad to realize. I choose not to feel sorry or sad for myself, and instead choose to show up everyday to my own life.
  22. The people who read this blog! When I first started blogging, I was a bit (a lot) uncomfortable with both the process and myself in general. I had always narrated my life in my head, like I was writing a novel or magazine article, so starting a blog was natural in some ways but also took a leap of faith. I was nervous to put myself out there but have been met with warmth and love and support, all of which I cannot thank you all for enough.
  23. This past year of unequivocal self-discovery. I’ve learned more about myself this year than I have in my whole life. It’s so empowering and makes me a more confident and happier person each and everyday. I’m so incredibly, wonderfully grateful for all I’ve learned about myself and all the ways in which I’ve learned to love myself.

I have so much goodness in my life. Honestly, I feel guilty sometimes for all that I have. There are so many people who have less. It was a full and grateful heart that I say thank you to all of you who keep up with my blog and thank you for reading this today. Happy weekend my friends!

A Celebration of Fathers

A pause on the body positive, recovery things for a big Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! As I am wont to do, I’m going to use this here blog as a platform to honor two of the most important people in my life.

 

My step dad came into my life when I was 8 years old and even though we had somewhat of  a rocky start, I am extraordinarily lucky to have him in my life. He has always supported me in whatever I do. He regularly reminds me how proud he is of me and what I’m doing. And there is no one who embraces family quite like he does. He shows his love for his family- his parents, his sisters, his sons, nephews and niece- often and sincerely. I’m so lucky to have that kind of love in my life and so thankful for his unending support.

As for my dad…

The very first thing I can remember in my life is of my dad, coming into my room when I was standing up in my crib, crying. I remember him finding my pacifier so I could go back to sleep. Although it had been happening for many months before, that’s the first time I actively remember my dad taking care of me and it hasn’t stopped since. As I write this, he is in the kitchen making me a salmon burger since I just got home from work (note: I am not writing this on actual Father’s Day!)

My dad is the coolest person I know. He taught me how to fish (even if I still make him worm my hook and take the fish off because it freaks me out). He passed on his aptitude for science and his love of running (which is currently on pause for the sake of recovery). He passed on parts of his dry, sarcastic sense of humor onto me and my sister. He introduced me to Fleetwood Mac, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel which continue to be my all-time favorites. (He also gave me his finicky digestive system, horrendous sinuses and terribly wide fingernails, but I’m not talking about those things).

My dad was made to raise two daughters. I think it’s probably hard for some dads to raise two girls but man, this guy nailed it (in my humble opinion). My dad has supported my sister and I, always.  He is constantly reminding us that he is proud of us no matter what we choose to do. He reminds me that all he wants is for me to be happy, regardless of what I choose to do or where I choose to go in my life.

My dad is non-judgmental and full of compassion. He taught me how to important it is to care about the world around me. He instilled in me a deep love of the Earth and nature and trees and dirt and stars. He set up his telescope when we were younger so he could show us the stars and planets in the night sky. He brought us on vacations that allowed us to see new things and explore nature. He took us to Los Angelos and brought me to Yogurtland three times that week when I became obsessed with it. I’ve spent many-a-week with him at lake houses in the summer time, sitting on the dock talking about life after making burgers and corn on the cob for dinner. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

For the first several years of my life, I was told often how much I looked and acted like my mom (which is a compliment in its own right). Once I went away to college, I discovered new pieces of myself- new passions, new ideas, new interests- and suddenly, everyone was telling me how much like my dad I am and that, my friends, is the compliment that I wear most proudly. There’s a certain part of me that I think only my dad can understand. It’s the part that I don’t think either of us could put into words but he just gets me on a cellular level and I’m so immensely thankful for that. There’s not a lot of women my age who could say that their dad is one of their best friends, but I can confidently say that I am one who can. My dad is the coolest, tallest, baldest person I know and I’m so infinitely grateful for him.

To all the fathers out there: thank you. For fixing the things that break, for the vacations, the meals, the trips to the movies and the park. For cheering at the sports we were never good at. For the support. For the love. Thank you.

An ode to mothers

I never knew my grandfathers. But  while my parents were at work when I was growing up, I spent my days with one of my two beautiful, strong, funny grandmothers. Both my grandmothers have seen some tough things in their days- and both of them have remained strong throughout and have kept their sense of humor. I learned a lot by watching them- how to keep my faith, how to laugh about what you can’t control, how to tell it like it is. Thanks to my father’s mother, I learned how to play roulette at age 5 and spent many hours of my childhood spinning that little metal ball in the roulette wheel. She played Monopoly with us, convinced us that there was a real genie living in her bottle in the kitchen (twenty years later, Gram, I know it was your voice all along!). She let me eat three cheese-filled Oscar Meyer weiners while I watched the old Alice in Wonderland movie at her house (the one with real people, not the cartoon). If we were good, she let us pick out two things from the dollar store, which resulting in a weird collection of little cat figurines in my room. My mother’s mother let me play her piano and pretended like I was good, even when I wasn’t. She took me to swimming lessons and picked me up from preschool. She showed me both how to be a good wife and how strong love can be- she steadily took me to visit my grandfather everyday after he got into a car accident when I was a baby and remained hospitalized. She took me out to lunch and always let me get dessert. She brought my sister and I to the mall, where we tried on silly hats and laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. They continue to be two of the women I admire most in the world.

I’m lucky to have been raised by these two women. And I’m lucky, too, to have my stepmom, who is the exact opposite of every evil stepmom in a Disney movie. She is kind and funny and is always willing to be my own personal nurse when I have a problem. She helped my sister learn how to sew and let me play with all the scraps of fabric, which is all I really wanted to do. She taught me to wash mirrors with the lights off so that you don’t get streaks and she can get out literally ANY stain (trust me, I’ve tested the limits). She helped me when my anxiety was too much to bare and empathized with me during one of the lowest points of my life. Plus, she makes my dad happy too so it’s a win-win for us all.

And my mom- I’ve looked up to my mom for as long as I can remember. She’s been my best friend, my cheerleader, my doctor, my driver, my teacher, my chef, the one who sang to me every night growing up and who tucked me in far after it was cool to have your mom tuck you in. She planned my birthday parties and helped me with my homework. After my parents got divorced, she worked full time, drove a 45 minute commute every day and still made my sister and I dinner every night (which I marvel at, now that I’m older). She held my hand at the doctor’s office and let me eat blueberry poptarts for breakfast. She let me stay up for Survivor and made all holidays special. She took April vacation off every year so we could spend time together, always taking a day to go shop at the outlets and eat lobster rolls. She lets me borrow her shoes. She always encouraged me to do my best and never made me feel like my best wasn’t good enough. She continues to be the first person I call when something goes wrong, when I need advice, when I feel like the world is not on my side. She was the first one to point out to me in the beginning of my eating disorder that what I was doing wasn’t healthy. She helped me get help. She encouraged me and checked on me, even when I was annoyed that she did. She can tell, without even talking to me, when I am sad or anxious or stressed. She has an insane mother’s intuition that continues to boggle my mind.

Over the last 22 and a half years, I’ve learned a lot from her. I’ve learned that it’s okay to eat apple pie for breakfast. I learned how to make a macaroni salad that will make the neighbors jealous.  I learned the names of flowers and birds and spend parts of my childhood with pressed up against the window with binoculars, looking at her bird book. I learned how to dress like an adult and how to wear socks that aren’t gym socks. I learned that it’s important to write thank you notes and to always keep Dove dark chocolates in the kitchen. I learned how to make the best waffles in the entire world (and I’ll go to the mat on that one). I learned that looking young isn’t always a bad thing. I learned how to be compassionate and genuinely care about other people. I learned how valuable being nice to people is. I learned that if you believe everything happens for a reason, then eventually you really will find a reason.

I’m so thankful for these women. The women who raised me, the women who made me. I continue to admire their strength, their humor, their goodness. And I’m lucky enough to have lots of other mothers in my life- aunts who aren’t related by blood, best friends’ mothers who became “second moms” in my childhood, my godmother, women who I’ve met in my adult life who’ve acted like a mom for me. To all these beautiful women and to all the mothers out there, I wish you a big, giant, over-the-top happy mother’s day. Thanks for inspiring.

New Year Musings

Happy almost 2016 friends! I hope this last day of 2015 is treating you well and I hope you had wonderful, relaxing and gratifying Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Ramadan and/or winter solstice!

I’d like to touch on New Year’s for a moment, if I may. Unlike much of America, I am fairly indifferent to New Year’s. It’s fun and all sure, but the celebration part of it doesn’t excite me. I am, however, interested in the clean slate, fresh start aspect of a new year. Now I am not one of those people who operates on the “new year, new me” idea. (I also don’t put it down- if a new year is what it takes to get you going on the path you desire for your life, you go girl (or boy)!)

I’m a big fan of resolutions and I make them constantly. My resolution for 2016 is to remind myself of these resolutions, since half of the time they end up lost within the pages of my journal. I like the idea of starting a new challenge that will help me be a more fulfilled, happier, healthier, peaceful human being.

I’m a big fan of these resolutions, these low-stakes pacts I make to myself. I can’t make promises to myself because I can’t let myself feel bad about breaking them. It would be toxic for me and I understand that. I am a habit person, which is how I got myself into this whole eating disorder situation to begin with. I’m scared that if I allow myself to make habits of too many of these things, it will somehow detrimental to my mental health so I take them lightly. Still, they’re good thing to think of if only to provide myself with better ideas of who I’m trying to be and who I want to be.

There are a lot of these resolutions I make to myself, whether very big or very small and certainly everything in between. Here is a small sampling: cooking one new recipe per week. Going to as many political events as possible. Meditating. Brewing my own kombucha. Embracing the fermentation process and creating my own fermented goods. Eating a “real” dinner everyday. Making my own soaps and other household products. More yoga. Getting my writing published (and paid for) in some manner. Not becoming victim to my habit-following self (kind of an oxymoron of a resolution). Trying to engage my “artistic” side (questionable as to whether or not this side exists). Finding an efficient way to save my favorite quotes and passages from books, besides simply folding down the corners of the page. To get this blog to reach a wider audience. To use my electronic devices less.

The list goes on and on. I’ve been victorious in some manners and unsuccessful in others. Whether I do it or not is not the point for me- the point is to provide a sort of direction, a guide to where I want to go in my life. A sort of navigation tool for bettering myself and becoming the person I strive to be. If that makes sense to you, I encourage you to embark on these little mini-resolutions as you see fit. If I’m sounding like a crazy person, well, what else is new?

Lastly, as a personal reflection and an assignment for others, I’m going to reflect on some of the positive things I’ve done this year in hopes that you will do the same! So here are some things that happened in no particular order.

I started this blog.
I graduated college.
I gained a stronger and more fact-based political voice.
I moved to New Hampshire.
I fell in love with New Hampshire.
I started a dietetic internship.
I told my friends, family and internet world that I have (had?) anorexia.
I began the eating disorder recovery process.
I learned to look in the mirror and not hate what I see (a much bigger accomplishment than any physical change).
I battled anxiety and depression nearly everyday (if not everyday).
I learned what feeling proud of yourself feels like.
I lost a couple friends who I never imagined falling away from.
I gained some friends that make my life a little bit more enjoyable (waddup UNH dietetic interns?!)
I learned that friendships are fluid.
I realized that I will never in my life have better friends that my parents.
I learned how to lay in bed at night and not count calories, over and over and over again, in my head.
I fell a little more in love with my boyfriend (he would shake his head if he knew I was writing so sappily about him).
I learned how to recognize and avoid malicious gossip that I don’t want to be associated with.
Similarly, I learned how to recognize and avoid futile complaints and accusations against others.
I signed up for emails from organizations and campaigns I really care about and unsubscribed from frivolous sites and online stores.
I learned the kind of jobs that I want and the kind of jobs that I don’t want.
I gained two extremely supportive and helpful mentors.
I got a new (awesome) therapist.
I tried my best to embrace life and learn about the world…most days (some days this was too big a task).

2015 was good to me and I’m looking forward to all 2016 has to offer, from the big to the small. I hope you all take the time to consider both the past year and all the new year has in store and I hope none of you take your resolutions too seriously! Wishing you all a happy, happy 2016 and happy celebrations as you ring it in!