Many moons ago my first career and schooling were male dominated and competitive. Most of my friends were men partly because that is what I was mostly surrounded by, but also because the women in my field were ferocious.
I’ve always been a sensitive person, so the aggressiveness was hard. When I married David, I realized that my male friendships weren’t necessarily appropriate, but girlfriends were few and far between. Because of this I would walk around with my guard up and not let people get too close to me. I was very private and didn’t share much about myself. This, along with making my family my world, isolated me.
Fast forward to starting my first job in direct sales. To be successful I HAD to make friends with women. What I found was the more I surrounded myself with women the better and more liberated I felt. I was becoming vulnerable; my guard was almost gone.
In the back of my head I knew the more I surrounded myself with women the bigger the chance for drama. I admit that I’m not always the best judge of character. I tend to be naive and trust people too easily once they break through the barrier and get into my life.
This has led me to much disappointment, and should I say heartbreak, in the last year. A couple of women that I put my trust in eventually showed their true colors. I felt taken advantage of and realized that I cared way more about these women than they ever cared about me. One of the women was a mentor of mine. When things would happen that was negative or out of my control, she would say to me, "#NEXT". My brain kept telling me #NEXT about the situation, but my heart was not as easily convinced.
Am I going to give up on growing and gaining new friendships by not being vulnerable? No way! But My Guard has gone up quite a bit. I will be way more cautious about openly trusting just anyone.
Typically, I network or meet women one-on-one at least twice a week. Over the holidays I found myself “hibernating”. I went at least 6 weeks with seeing only a few people. Partially it was because I wanted to be with my family and partially it was to recover emotionally. Let me tell you, when I did step back out, I was invigorated again.
The women I surround myself with are my friends, teachers, cheerleaders and mentors. I’ve experienced many years without this in my life and I’m not willing to give it up, even if that means occasional disappointment or heartbreak.
"When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity" -Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
Do you walk around with your guard up or do you wear your heart on your sleeve?
This week's blog has been in high anticipation for me since it is our first guest feature. For National Eating Disorder Awareness week I wanted to highlight my friend, Lisette. I've asked her to share her story will all of us. There are multiple ways that you can follow Lisette.
The moment a tablespoon of peanut butter reduced me to tears is etched permanently into my memory. My heart raced and tears streamed down my face. I stared at that peanut butter and was paralyzed with anxiety. Time stood still while that single serving tub of peanut butter taunted me from the cold sterile table. Across from me sat a clinician with an empathetic but stern expression. “Eat the peanut butter” she prodded gently. Next to the peanut butter sat a single package of saltine crackers. The only thing I could imagine worse than eating this peanut butter would be eating it along WITH crackers. How could she possibly expect me to do either? I tried to will my mouth to open and my throat to swallow, but at that moment, walking straight into a fire seemed easier than eating one tablespoon of peanut butter. With a mixture of emotions storming inside of my head, I went from feeling rage, to shame, to terror within seconds. And then I felt all three at once. It was the first time I acknowledged that maybe… just maybe…. I DID belong right there in the eating disorder treatment center I had been admitted to that morning. But I still wasn’t sure. I was not like the girls I had seen in after-school specials and talk shows. They were emaciated teenagers training for the Olympics and dealing with abuse. I was a 22-year-old graduate student from a happy home, working on a Master’s degree in Psychology (of all things). I felt like a hypocrite; how could I possibly help others with mental illness when I was unable to tackle one of the most basic life skills- simply feeding myself. I was reduced to tears by a tablespoon of peanut butter. And at that moment, nothing seemed more daunting than the task of swallowing it.
Because to me, it was not just peanut butter; it was everything. It was fat, and calories, and weight gain, and it represented me losing control. It could unravel everything I had pushed through so far. In my sick and malnourished brain, eating that tablespoon of peanut butter meant I was giving up. And that I was a failure. It would confirm what I already feared deep in my bones: I was lazy, unlovable, horrible, fat, worthless, and disgusting. And if I let myself have one tablespoon of peanut butter- I was afraid I would eat another, and another, and another. I would eat every tablespoon of peanut butter I could find because I would never be able to stop. I wanted to eat it and yet I never wanted to see peanut butter again. I wanted it and I hated it equally. In a twisted way, the only thing that made me feel better about myself was denying myself. I felt crazy. And I could not open my mouth.
Obviously, I was in a very dark place. And it wasn’t just peanut butter; I had become afraid of all food. One by one, my favorite things were forbidden as I deemed them “unhealthy”. The smaller my body got, the worse my feelings of anxiety, unworthiness, and failure grew. The more I shrunk my body, the less clearly I was able to see myself or the world around me. And the harder it seemed to find my way out of the darkness. I was consumed by the disorder.
"...the biggest travesty was the devastation happening to my soul."
The day a tablespoon of peanut butter held me hostage was over twenty years ago. I wish I could say that I stepped on the path of recovery that day and never turned back. But my recovery from anorexia and bulimia has been a very long and winding journey with many ups and many more downs. The details and specifics of my path do not matter. The number of pounds I lost or gained over the years and the symptoms and behaviors I vacillated between are not important. What does matter is my life revolved around what I ate, what I didn’t eat, what I was going to eat, what I “shouldn’t” eat, and what I was going to do about what I ate or didn’t eat. I was obsessed with calories and food and exercises and the numbers on a scale and my pants. All the while, as I lost weight, it was never, ever enough. As my body got smaller, so did my world, my perspective, my connections with others, my ability to see clearly, the ability to be present in my life and the ability to feel joy. I was physically damaging my body, but the biggest travesty was the devastation happening to my soul.
For more than two decades and over half my life, I struggled. I saw therapists and nutritionists and returned to partial hospitalization treatment programs two more times. My weight was “restored” and lost again, restored again and lost again. A few times I found what I believed was “recovery” and yet it was never on solid ground. In this “middle” place of “recovery”, I was no longer visibly underweight. Yet I continued living in a prison in my head, engaging in very unhealthy behaviors, and obsessing about my body, size, weight, exercise, and food. I think I fooled those around me into believing I was “ok.” I know I fooled myself. This version of “recovery” was not lasting though, because any time I encountered life stressors (good or bad) I relapsed. Eventually, I wondered if I would ever recover. If I could ever recover. At my best, I was living a very restricted life where I constantly and carefully watched my food and exercise. I focused more on what people thought of me than I did on my own heart. At my worst, I was secretly engaging repeatedly in harmful behaviors feeling unable to stop while ignoring my relationships. I hated myself, dreaded waking up in the morning, and felt hopeless and alone.
One of the worst times came surprisingly after my third son was born. Postpartum depression was the nudge that pushed me off the diving board back into the sea of my eating disorder. I quickly found myself drowning. I had the life I dreamt of- an amazing husband, three healthy children, and the luxury of being a stay at home mom- and yet I wanted to run away. Worse, I wanted to give up on myself and on life. And yet with the darkest time in my life came one of the greatest gifts. Because it was the catalyst I needed to make REAL, lasting and healing changes. On my knees, I was broken and finally painfully honest with myself. At that moment I was able to open myself up to ask for and receive help. And to do it in a new way.
"Recovery was about learning to feed myself again both physically and spiritually."
Recovery was terrifying, humbling, and challenging in ways I didn’t even know possible. It demanded I let go my old thought patterns and irrational beliefs and stop caring what others thought of me. It meant facing my biggest fears and greatest anxieties every single day, three times a day- plus snacks. It meant surrendering to a treatment team and trusting that for the moment they knew more than I did. It meant understanding I was not seeing clearly while believing I would eventually learn to trust myself. It required me to connect with my higher power and to ask for and accept help. Recovery was about learning to feed myself again both physically and spiritually. It meant going against society and making myself a priority over my children and husband. I had to make myself a priority when I did not even feel worthy of it. I didn’t even feel worthy of a tablespoon of peanut butter.
"Ultimately to be free I had to reject the diet culture..."
Gradually I learned life-changing skills including self-compassion, mindfulness, practicing gratitude, and how to say NO. I practiced sitting with discomfort- both physical and emotional. I learned that life is messy and finding the beauty within the chaos is everything. And I opened my mind and educated myself on the science behind dieting and weight. Learning about Health At Every Size gave me the ammunition I needed to fight diet culture head on. I listened to countless podcasts, read articles and books, and connected with other warriors also fighting this battle. Ultimately to be free I had to reject the diet culture that is so pervasive we all swim unknowingly in it. I had to let go of ever trying to control my body’s shape and size again. No matter how tempted I was.
Because of my shame and the stigma surrounding mental health, I silently forged through my recovery without telling anyone in my life except a few very close friends. In a world where women bond over their latest diets, “cleanses” and exercise routines, learning to accept my changing body was counter culture. I was no longer comfortable joining into the constant conversations my friends had about which body parts they needed to change, how much weight they had gained, or what food was “so bad for you.” And at times it was very lonely. Somewhere along the journey, I found my voice and learned that sharing myself authentically and unabashedly can not only decrease stigma and hopefully helps others, but it also sets me free.
"It reminds me that recovery is worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears."
This week, two of my boys asked for sandwiches for lunch. Among the cacophony of their giggles and clatter, I tried to simultaneously make lunches, answer a text, and avoid tripping over the four-year-old clinging to my leg. While cleaning up, without a second thought, I pulled the knife out of the jar and licked off the excess peanut butter. It was probably a tablespoon worth. Maybe more. And at that moment I knew: I was letting go of my eating disorder. Because finally, peanut butter was once again just that - peanut butter. It held no power over me. It almost seems like a different life when a tablespoon of peanut butter reduced me to tears. And yet it seems like yesterday. It reminds me that recovery is worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears. And that is never too late to choose recovery.
If you or someone you love is struggling please understand eating disorders are complicated, overwhelming, and dangerous. They are about so much more than food and weight and you can NOT tell how someone is doing in their recovery simply by their weight or appearance. Untouched and hidden by shame, eating disorders can fester and grow. However, true real lasting recovery IS possible and one day peanut butter can return to just being peanut butter.
Heads up: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through one of the links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a commission, which keeps the tips flowing your way. Thanks!
Have you heard the buzz about Red Light therapy? It can be used to treat many different issues, but I am going to focus on the incredible anti-aging benefits it has for your skin.
Red Light Therapy combines red and infrared light. So, what does that mean? Obviously light is not a new technology. I will get a little scientific so bear with me. Infrared is the level of light below red in the spectrum and is invisible to the human eye. It was discovered in the early 19th century. Red light is a visible light in the spectrum and has shorter wavelengths than infrared. Because of the two different wave lengths, they penetrate your skin at different levels and combined, they are a skin rejuvenating powerhouse.
NASA started using red light therapy in space to grow plants and then to heal astronauts’ wounds. Moving on the beauty industry, red and infrared light, used as a team, will boost elastin, accelerate the growth of healthy skin and produce more collagen, which in turn, reduces lines and wrinkles. The infrared light penetrates below the dermis and stimulates collagen production and essentially pushes the wrinkles up for smoother skin!
Red light therapy is completely non-invasive. It does NOT contain UV light so it will NOT damage the DNA in your skin.
Due to the use of LEDs (Light emitting diodes) the therapy is heatless
The red light stimulates the surface blood flow and increases the effectiveness of topicals used after the therapy
While, there are centers that offer the Red Light therapy, they are expensive and are not the comfort of your own home. The product that I use and recommend is the LED Red and Infrared mask from Retro Co. It is FDA cleared to remove wrinkles and is approved for home use. It is a UV-free technology using red and infrared LEDs. Because Retro Co is so confident in their products, they offer a 60 day love it guarantee. They offer a full size, L.E.D. Fast Facial Mask (my favorite) as well as an , which focuses more on your forehead and the space between your eyebrows.
Check out these before and after photos!
Disclaimer: This article is filled with my own thoughts through my own research and were not provided to me by Retro Co.
Swirl Shortbread Cookies
- 1-1/2 Cups Unsalted Butter Softened
- 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 Pinch Salt
- 1/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
- 1-1/2 TBSP Cocoa Powder
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add salt then flour in 2 batches. Mix until dough comes together. Sprinkle powdered sugar on your rolling surface. I use powdered sugar in this recipe vs flour to keep the dough from sticking. Remove half of the dough from mixing bowl and place on your rolling surface. Add chocolate chips and cocoa powder to the remaining dough. Mix until evening combined. Place chocolate dough on rolling surface.
- Divide each dough in half and roll into long "snakes". It is okay if on is a little longer than the other.
- Curl the two dough "snakes" together.
- Use a rolling pin and roll the dough to about 1/4" thickness. If you like your cookies a little thicker, you can go up to a 1/2". You will just need a little longer baking time. Use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut out your shapes.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes on parchment paper or a silpat. Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the sheet pan before moving to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Take it or leave it? It is a holiday that I have never really liked. When I was younger it always made me anxious because either my expectations were out of whack or I was so shy I didn’t want anyone ask me if I had a boyfriend or liked a boy.
As far as the hubs, we would rather have a date night when restaurants aren’t so busy. We typically go out a few nights before or after the holiday rush. What gal doesn’t like flowers, but I love getting them randomly as a surprise not when they are expected. Am I weird?
In honor of the season and because we are so boring, I will tell you about the first time I saw my husband, David.
I was a junior in college and decided to spend the summer at home. My dad helped me line up an architectural intern position at a local firm.
It was my first day and my manager, who ended up being a mentor for almost a decade, called me into his office to debrief about the day. I remember being so sleepy and just wanting to go home.
Then, I looked out the window and saw this gorgeous guy getting into his car. In my head I was thinking that I must somehow figure out how to meet this guy. He must work somewhere in the 5-story building...
Keep in mind that I am (was) painfully shy, and this kind of thought had never gone through my head before.
Two days later I walk into the break room and come face to face with the same tall, dark curly headed, blue eyed hunk I spotted out the window. How could I be so lucky? He works in my office? Of course, I froze and can’t remember if we even spoke to each other, but for me, it was love at first sight.
About 2 weeks later after a few office group activities he asked me out on our first date!! I won’t bore you with all the details, but we dated for the summer and then went our separate ways. We both had a lot of growing up to do and we eventually found our way back to each other. Unbeknownst to either of us until years later, we each told someone close to use that we would eventually get married.
We got married 6 years after we first met. He will always be the love of my life and takes amazing care of our family, but it is not always sunshine and roses.
How did you meet your significant other? Was it love at first sight? Do you have any fun traditions for Valentine’s Day?
This is the second year that I have come up with my “Word of the Year”. I have shared with you that my word for 2018 was “Balance” and my problems with it as we approached the fall. Because of my recent fail, I was on the fence about having a word define my year and intentions for a whole 365 days. Then the perfect word hit me! VALUE! Yes, I love it, and I’ll tell you why.
You are valuable, I am valuable, our time is valuable, and we deserve for everyone to recognize this.
I even ordered an engraved bracelet to remind me on a daily basis.
Value for my kids
The biggest, most important job I will ever hold is raising my kiddos and making them into upstanding members of society. They need my love, time and attention. Daily valuable time is necessary.
Value for you
This blog is for you! You need to find value in my tips, tricks, recipes and overall support. Please let me know what value you are looking for from me.
My time is valuable
Because I want to be present for my kids, my work day is typically 9:30-2:00 three days a week. Sometimes I can sneak in a little work between when my two oldest go to school before my babe wakes up. The afternoon is dedicated to them and completely slips away with snacks, homework, after school activities and dinner. When I was a mom of 2, I could stay up until 11 each night and complete household tasks. When my third was born, that all went out the window. I am exhausted by the time the kids go to bed. It is so important to do things of high value the 4 hours of quiet time I have during the day.
Value for my family
We are going on 8 years of me being a stay at home mom. While there is no doubt that I have always created value for my family, this year I will provide more monetary value for the household. It’s time for this mama to have a new car. I love my car because it is spacious, comfortable and safe, but she is not so pretty anymore and is ready to retire. Me paying for another car is a goal for 2019.
I need value in return
It seems that I say “Yes” way too much. I want to be at every vendor event, mastermind, networking event and training that I can get my hands on these days. Can you tell that I have major issues with FOMO? I love meeting new people and learning as much as can about them. Truth is: not all these events are created equal. This year I will spend more time researching events that I attend and making sure that they are high value.
Having a word bring me back into focus when I go astray. Do you have a word for the year? I would love to hear it.
Heads up: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through one of the links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I’ll get a commission, which keeps the tips flowing your way. Thanks!
It has been a mission this past year to use fewer toxic products in my home. Most of this task has been fairly easy and I will share some of these transitions with you in a later blog. One area where I have struggled has been my haircare. I have thick, course, frizzy, curly hair that is hard to control. The products I have used over the past few years work well but I know that they rank pretty bad on the EWG scale. Needless to say, I was super excited for Retro to release their line of haircare products.
All of their topicals are rated 1-2 on the EWG scale and have been developed over years. The most exciting part of the development is that the topicals are combined with FDA-cleared technology resulting in the greatest improvements for problem areas.
The FDA-cleared laser helmet is clinically proven to increase hair density. Can you believe these results from 4 months of usage? (3 times a week for 20 minutes). Luckily, my hair is pretty thick. I do have a little thinning around my part and where I pull my hair back to my signature messy bun. Can you picture me wearing the helmet while I write my blog? That is exactly what I will be doing.
The next incredible product is the Revive Botanical Oil Serum. This uses the purest form of coconut oil and aloe to stimulate hair growth from the outside in. Brace yourself…the coconut oil is not from any coconut. This is a rare One-Eyed Virgin coconut from the Philippines. Don’t worry, it is being responsibly sourced. In a clinical study, after 7 weeks, over 80% of users saw improvement in both texture and density.
Can you imagine combining these two super powers?
Now let’s talk about shampoo and conditioner. Of course, they are a cleaner, greener and healthier approach to haircare free of parabens and sulfates. The two formulas, powered by Redensyl, are available in scented and unscented!!! Redensyl is a proven botanical complex that targets hair follicle stem cells to strengthen and improve hair growth. The RISE combination helps with hair density and strengthens each strand of hair. SHINE (what I use) gives the moisture hair needs to be shiny by using Bamboo Oil Extract while the Redensyl maximizes new hair growth.
These products are a game changer for men and women with thinning hair at a fraction of the cost of alternative, invasive treatments. Best of all, the products are safe as well as being effective.
My family has a history of male pattered baldness and I know that my boys will never have to give a future of a bald head a second thought.
What product are you most excited about?
I have been in direct sales for a couple of years. To say that it is an easy business would be a fat lie. It is hard work, but as a mom who wants to be available to my kids as much as possible, it is a perfect fit for me. I will also preface this by saying that I’m a very hard worker, but none of my success would be possible without my family’s support.
I recently attended the semiannual conference for a company that I rep and it was incredible. This was my second conference and I have been with the company for about 8 months. As I was checking into the hotel, I spotted the CEO and she came up and gave me a hug. This isn’t the first time that she made me feel special or amazing and I haven’t even known her that long. When it was time to check in for the conference it wasn’t necessary to give my name because I talk to the gal at home office every couple of weeks. Did these things just happen? No, I genuinely want a relationship with these extraordinary people. These are a couple of the many benefits of being at the ground floor of a new company.
I have also been at the other end of things and worked with a very established company and felt like a number. Their conference had so many women no one knew or even cared if I was there. Yes, the systems were in place and comps were good, but I rarely felt special and the CEO definitely didn’t know who I was. To put it in perspective, I went to the top 1% of this huge company in less than a year. It’s hard to recognize everyone in an organization that big and I get that!
Everyone wants you to be successful. If something is not working, they want to hear about it. We also have access to incredible mentors. The VP of business development ENCOURAGES me to reach out to her and wants to support me any way that she can. As good as all of this makes me feel, it is offered to anyone who wants to thrive in this company. They want to be successful in this multi-billion-dollar market and that is partly dependent on consultants being educated, fulfilled and compensated.
Some kinks are still being smoothed. I came in about 9 months into the soft launch of this company. To say that there have been changes would be an understatement. I wasn’t around for the biggest changes, but I have seen my fair share. People are so resistant to change. This used to be me. Now I embrace it and you know what? The newest changes are amazing. Yes, there will be a learning curve, but I know that it will just make everything even better. Honestly, I don’t really have a mediocre with this company. It is just onward and upward and I’m so excited about the journey!
Tell me the GREAT from your job. I would love to hear from you!
Making good, conscious decisions about what my family puts in their body has always been a priority of mine. While this is true, we do have slip ups and my knowledge is sometimes lacking. The big picture is I do the best I can, and I try not to punish myself when we are not perfect, but we all feel better when we eat better. Honestly, my family can always do better and that is 95% on my shoulders.
My main goal in the kitchen is to feed my kids real food. Lately I’ve had many proud mama moments like when all 3 of my kids are excited to have salad on their plate or have them turn down processed foods because it “tastes funny”. Their palates have been developed and no, they don’t eat everything I put in front of them. They do love fresh fruits and veggies and I credit that to starting young. Since my kids were able to eat solid food, they were eating the same foods as the rest of the family. Obviously, things had to modified to what their little chompers could handle. Example: If we have a salad for dinner, I would separate the components and didn’t give them lettuce until they could chew it.
It has been a lesson over the past few years that simple, fresh food tastes better. My favorite complete meals, along with my family’s, are less than 10 ingredients. Not only is it easier and faster for me to prep, it is also less complicated for their taste buds.
Do we have treats? Ab-So-Lutely! I am a believer in treats because I don’t want my kids to feel deprived or binge on unhealthy foods when given the chance. “Everything in moderation” is a phrase used quite a bit in our home. The EASIEST way to avoid the temptations is to not have the temptations readily available so I try hard to not have an excess of unhealthy choices in the house.
My biggest struggles are the snacks! Those cute little orange fish are a family favorite and are oh so convenient. So, at the top of my goal list for the year is to have clean snacks readily available. Planning and food prep are key to stay on track. It is so much easier to choose something fresh and healthy it is just as convenient as the packaged snacks. Some of these include cheese sticks, homemade yogurt parfaits, pre-cut veggies with hummus, homemade granola bars or protein bites, apple slices with nut or non-nut butter, fresh fruit and smoothies.
What is your struggle? What kind of recipes or ideas would you like to see from me?