The Truth About Being a New Yoga Teacher

The Truth About Being a New Yoga Teacher

The truth about being a new yoga teacher, is that no one tells you what’s its going to be like to be a new yoga teacher. The truth about being a yoga teacher, is that once you finish teacher training, you go back out into reality. Maybe you teach, maybe you don’t. I’m a brand new teacher. I’ve taught yoga for three whole months. I say that sarcastically just FYI. I’ve learned a hell of a lot; and I’ve learned a lot of things I wish someone had told me.

So here’s me, telling you. Wether you’re almost a certified yoga teacher, are about to teach your first class, just became an instructor, or are thinking about it- this is just a little bit of my wisdom. Take it for what it’s worth. Leave it for what its worth. I know I still have a lot to learn…a lifetime of learning actually. This newness of being a yoga teacher is just the tip of the iceberg. Please be aware, I am not telling you I know all there is to know about being a yoga teacher. Not even close. Thinking that I even know a lot would be pure ignorance. I don’t. I learn every day- that is something I love about yoga. It is always changing me and challenging me.

You’re not special or more enlightened than anyone else just because you chose to become a yoga teacher. Being a yoga teacher is a trend right now- everyone’s doing it. You are not better than anyone. A yoga teacher is not better than a Zumba teacher at the YMCA. A yoga teacher is not better than a cycling instructor at a little gym. What you are is incredibly brave and committed. You said YES to one of the best, but most difficult things in your life- teacher training. You spent many many hours looking at the deepest parts of yourself, being humbled, screwing up, and being uncomfortable. Be proud of that. Damn proud. But don’t forget where you started. Anyone remember that sweet video of a dad talking to his little girl in the mirror before they start the day? “You are not better than anyone else”, he tells her. “No one is better than you.” You are that little girl looking in the mirror. Always.

Just because you’re a new teacher, doesn’t make you less important. Less knowledgeable, sure. Less experienced, yes. But if yoga means unity, and the goal of yoga is one-ness, like you learned, everyone is equal. Don’t be discouraged if you bomb your first class, or even your first few classes. It’s inevitable! But that does not make you a lesser teacher or student. Do not let teachers above you make you feel small- and remember this carries over to LIFE too. In the same breath, don’t make others feel small. Especially when you teach. If you teach, you will have people of all levels in your classes. Speak to them all. Each and every one of them. Watch the bodies in front of you. You are all equal. They are as important as you are, even though you are in charge and they are on their mats. Teach that way.

The yoga world can be catty. Ok, it is catty. It’s competitive. It’s full of egos. It is full of pride. This truth has been a hard truth for me to learn. I didn’t want to learn it. People I thought were in this business to do good showed me their true intentions were selfish. From personal experience, I have been denied the opportunity to teach a karma class at a studio for a great cause, for reasons unspoken. I did not train at that studio, I do not teach there, I do not belong teaching there. And so pride outweighs desire to do something for the greater good. Turning to another studio in hopes of teaching the class there, I was again denied because “we don’t know that person.” And so yoga becomes about “who you know” rather than “how can I help.” I was told by a mentor and fellow teacher that I was not a peer- simply a student- implying there is a hierarchy in this practice and I am among the lowest. I was told I was attached to truth and it was a problem for our relationship. I was told I was dramatic and gossipy. And so “I am in charge of you” replaces “how can we talk as equals.” Things that were known about my true character were taken and used against me like darts, and I learned that not all intentions are out of love. The thing is, just because yoga preaches peace and zen and love in no way means it is made up entirely of those things. We are human. We hurt each other. It is our nature. We are flawed, we are selfish, we are scared, we are insecure. WE ARE SCARED. That doesn’t make any of us exempt from the standard of being kind to one another. When I think about those situations, I actually don’t feel much anger. I feel sadness, because the world needs all the kindness it can get- but the bottom line is, life is about business. It is the world we humans have created for ourself. We will continually sacrifice love and compassion for money and the need to be right. I am guilty of this also. I am not the exception. Just because I write about it does not mean I practice what I preach 100% of the time. But I do my best. Some days I’m a rockstar with it, and other days I fail miserably. Freaking miserably. Always have, always will. I am not better than anyone else.

Don’t believe in too much magic- but believe in some of it. Find a balance. Find those moments in your own practice where you are completely swept away in your own breath and movement. When the rest of the world is just that- the rest of the world. You don’t care what anyone else is doing or saying. You are fully present. Teach to that magic, even if it feels silly. It is your truth, it is your reason for yoga, it is your light to share. Find the teachers and students and classes that remind you how yoga works. Learn from the people who light not just you up, but others also. There is a lot to be said for those who can see beyond themselves and teach that way also.

Lastly, if you aren’t consistently feeling joy when you get off your mat after your practice, step away. Yoga will be there. It always was. The practice that you maybe long ago came to with wonder and adoration will always be there waiting. No one can take that from you, not even yourself.

Why I’m Not Sorry (and why you shouldn’t always be either)

This post is about why I’m not sorry. That’s right, NOT sorry. The last few weeks in Yoga Teacher Training, we implemented a rule called “No Apologizing” or #sorrynotsorry. As a society, we are constantly apologizing for things. Constantly. Some things we do are worth an apology, but some things are not. Ever have that awkward moment in a grocery store with someone where you both try to go around each other but go the same way and almost collide? I’m sorry, we tell strangers. Speak too loudly at a meeting? I’m sorry, you tell your co-workers. Tell the truth and hurt someone’s feelings? I’m sorry, you say. Running late to meet a friend for coffee? I’m sorry, you exclaim when you arrive. Drop something in front of someone? Forget something? Didn’t finish cooking dinner because you almost cut the tip of your finger off? (Wait, that’s just me). See where I’m going with this? Have you ever noticed how many times a day we are apologizing to others? I’m not saying being sorry is bad, or wrong. But, think about it this way.

“I’m sorry” makes it about you. Yes, you may feel bad, but what about turning that around to thank someone? Instead of “I’m sorry I’m late” try “Thank you for waiting for me” or “I really appreciate your patience.” Because the thing is, deep down, you’re probably NOT actually sorry you’re late. You’re probably not actually sorry you almost bumped into that other shopper at the grocery store- it’s not like you decided to go to the grocery store with the goal of taking people out in every isle. You’re not sorry you’re late- you didn’t plan to be. You’re not sorry you’re sick- you just can’t help that your body doesn’t feel good. You’re not sorry you spoke your truth- if your truth is the facts. You’re not sorry you stood up for what you believed in- it means something matters to you. You’re not sorry you got excited and took up most of the time at a meeting with your ideas- you wanted to share and make things better.

Try it next time you find yourself going to apologize for something. Maybe, you really are sorry. Or, maybe you don’t have a reason to be. Owning your shit can be powerful, one way or the other. So here’s mine.

I’m not sorry I didn’t do a “good enough” job at keeping in touch with the my (ex) friend after she moved to London- I did the best at could at one of the worst times in my life. I’m not sorry I didn’t do yoga teacher training where I was “supposed” to- I followed my heart, and it’s been freaking amazing. I’m not sorry for speaking my truth- I stand for something. I’m not sorry for being sensitive- it is a gift. I’m not sorry for not coming to meet your new baby yet- I’ve had a lot on my plate. I’m not sorry for cancelling my dietician appointments- I want a break. I’m not sorry I don’t see my husband enough to right now- I wish I did, but it doesn’t for a second mean I love and value him any less. I am incredibly lucky to be married to someone who supports me dreams, even if that’s meant going days without seeing each other. We both know its not forever. I’m not sorry I’m so stubborn sometimes when it doesn’t serve me- I am learning. I’m not sorry I didn’t text or call you back- I forgot. I’m not sorry I’m emotional- I’m human. I am not sorry for my flaws, or my mistakes when I didn’t know better.

Do not apologize for being yourself.
Replace the sorries with gratitude.

Thank you for making me aware I unintentionally hurt your feelings.
I appreciate your opinion, even though we don’t agree.
I’m thankful for the time I do get to spend with my husband, and am excited to be around more soon.
Thank you for showing me you care, even if I don’t agree with how it was presented to me.
I wish our conversation wouldn’t have went poorly, but it did, so how can we both move forward?
Thank you for continuing to reach out to me even when I don’t respond.
I appreciate you being patient and waiting for me when I’m late.

Gratitude is different than making excuses. Excuses make it about you too, just as much as “I’m sorry” does. Try it on. See if it feels different! I can say it’s helped me feel more connected to people, and more genuine. Us lil humans just want to be cared about, and band-aiding something with a thoughtless “I’m sorry” just doesn’t do the trick.

Thoughts from a Pediatric ICU Nurse

 

Got this sweet tat at work from one of my patients. Sometimes, there are the little things that remind me that my job is worth the heart and soul I put into it- that all PICU nurses I know put into their jobs. Don’t get me wrong- I don’t hate my job. It is not terribly sad and depressing; although I have been through times where that has been the case. I love being a nurse- most of the time. I would be lying if I said I loved, or even liked, all the extra jobs that go along with it. No one tells you this stuff in school- that you won’t just be a nurse, but you’ll also often function as a therapist, social worker, babysitter, emotional punching bag, and waitress…emphasis on the waitress.

Every nurse I know appreciates the little things- like this sweet tat. It’s special, because the child that drew it on me is a miracle. The child is a reminder of the little things. Of an entire unit of healthcare professionals working tirelessly around the clock to care for her, and her coming out better. Not necessarily the same, but better, despite every odd.

There is a moment that hits you when you’re taking care of someone’s kid, and the possibility that they die, despite everyone’s best efforts, hits you. Like really hits you. It’s sort of an unspoken rule that as an ICU nurse, you numb that. You turn those feelings off- the attachment, the empathy, the reality- because you have a job to do. And so, we all go about our jobs. Often times, I feel like a robot. There’s a saying: “There’s no crying in the PICU,” and although it’s kind of a joke- it’s not.

Over the years, I have learned to strip away that armor. Carefully and cautiously, and a tiny tiny bit at a time. I sometimes wonder to myself who made that unspoken rule. The unspoken rule that the nurse has to conceal their emotions; that I’m weak if I cry; that I am to be the unshaken rock in the storm. Don’t get me wrong, that absolutely serves a purpose. It is part of my job, and no matter what my emotions are, my priority is always, always patient and family care. That often means being just that- the rock. So we go about our jobs, carefully tucking away the trauma and heartbreak we see.

Handing a mother her dying baby.
Giving the last doses of medication before life support is withdrawn- on someone’s child.
Asking parents which funeral home they prefer.
Standing there as a family is told their child’s condition has a 100% mortality rate, and staying when the doctor walks out.
Having parents ask me in desperation, “What would YOU do if you were me,” which to this day remains the hardest question I have ever been asked.
Holding hands with my co-workers while a chaplain baptizes a child who is going to die.
Bathing a child and doing handprints on them before wrapping the body in a shroud, which is really just a fancy word for body bag.
Taking someone’s sweet, innocent light of their life to the hospital morgue, and leaving them there.
Going home that night, grieving, but unable to even comprehend what the child’s family is feeling. My sadness pales in comparison.
Coming back to work the next day and seeing the empty room of a patient who died the day before.

This work we do- it wounds us. Maybe I am too empathetic, too soft, too sensitive. Maybe my heart isn’t strong enough, because it’s been broken time and time again by these kids. I suck it up- we all do. I am ok- this is my job. This is what I am good at. This is what I know how to do. This is what I have been called to do, and I wouldn’t take a single one of those moments back. No matter how hard they are, it is a privilege to walk along side a child and family during their journey- wether it be through death or through recovery. The tattoo my sweet patient drew on my arm today reminds me of hope. It reminds me that despite all the dark, there is light. It reminds me that there are absolutely miracles; because this child I am laughing and playing with wasn’t supposed to have a chance. It reminds me that although I have seen death and destruction, I have also seen God’s incredible grace and mercy in a way that only a PICU nurse can.

I get to see God every day in my kids. Even on the days that are less than ideal- when doctors are yelling at me, when my patient bites me, & when I get off work 2 hours late because shit hits the fan. The beauty is there- so often only in the little things. Like sassy girls whose favorite color is pink, and weren’t supposed to walk again, getting excited when you paint her nails. Like the teenager who you said goodbye to, who comes back and visits, telling the nurses they are like family to him for saving his life. Like the little girl whose mom sends you an invitation to her birthday party every year- you took care of her baby for nine months, and now she is turning five. Like the family that stops by the unit to leave the nurses chocolate for Christmas, and their kid is glowing with health- a year ago you admitted him when he was grey and almost pulseless. Like the family that hugs you and thanks you, even though you were the one who gave their dying child their last dose of pain medication before life support is removed. It’s not right- but it is beautiful in only a way a nurse can learn to see.

Work family

Epic Reflections

Two Novembers ago, I stepped into a space that changed my life and started on a journey I didn’t ever think I would be on. This is when I started my yoga journey, but it has become about so much more than that. In the New Year, I will be stepping out of that particular yoga space, but not before sharing with you what I have learned there.

I have learned that there is such a thing as sacred space. A space where I could go and drop all else, no matter what was going on in my life. Walking through the doors of the studio always lifted a weight off my shoulders. For the next hour, I didn’t have to do or be or think about anything, except my breath. Sounds crazy but when you suffer from anxiety and have an A.D.D. brain, it’s pretty dang comforting.

The sacred space made sense when nothing else did. When death and suicide struck, I came to my mat with anger and disbelief and tried to leave it in the space. Maybe just a little bit less of the pain would go home with me then.

The morning I discovered loss, I went to practice, grief-stricken, and cried my way through savasana, knowing I was in a safe place.

When abandonment visited, I threw my confusion and hurt onto my mat and into my practice, instead of into my life and at my body.

The times I felt life was hard and overwhelming and senseless, I went to that sacred space to remember to slow down, and be patient.

When I watched dear friends suffer, I wrote their name on a post-it before class, stuck it under my mat, and dedicated my practice to them. Maybe I could send them a little magic from the sacred space.

When I too, was tired of fighting, I got on my mat to remind me why I wanted to stay healthy.

My mat, a little yellow rectangle in a big rectangle room, became the space where I learned to breathe again. Yoga gave me the ability to sit and just be with myself. To drop my judgments, shame, and doubt- and just BE. I only get one me. Through recovery I’ve learned you can’t get away from yourself. On my mat, in that yoga studio studio, is where I finally accepted that. And then I finally began to live.

I learned that on my mat, I could go and meet God and the way I perceived Him to be. I learned that this yoga thing is actually a little piece of heaven, because yoga means union, and when you share this practice from a place of love, it is almost Holy.

“All is coming,” I wrote on my worn, dirty mat a year ago, and truly BELIEVED it.

All is coming.

Self acceptance. Maybe self love. Dreams. Life in color. The unconditional love of God in all the shattered places, if one is brave enough to bring their heart to their mat. Vulnerability.

I learned there are no broken people. That nothing is wrong with me. That nothing is wrong with others, and we all just want to be heard and understood.

The truest version of myself. The most light filled version of myself. The self that I can believe is enough, exactly as I am.

Yoga Teacher Training Wisdom

Remember when I said I was going to write a blog post for every week of Yoga Teacher Training?

Well, I haven’t. I think we are on week 9 or 10…where has time gone?!

Life has been busy. It’s been a huge adjustment for me to have more of a set schedule than I’ve had in years. Training is Tuesday and Thursday nights, so I rarely work during the week. I try to keep a consistent schedule of working Sunday and Monday right now. Yes, that leaves me with waaaay more “free time” than I’m used to. However, this Yoga Teacher Training is a little bit like being in school- but like, FUN school! I have homework and reading and practicing, and although it can be intimidating at times, the work is also very soul-filling. So, I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learned over the past several weeks, because this process has been life-changing.

“Your mat is a mirror. How you do yoga is how you do life.”
This comes from one of my favorite teachers, and it may sound a little woo-woo, but it’s been a heck of a truth bomb for me. Yoga has taught me self-awareness. I’ve spent years and years abusing my body. I’ve learned that on my mat, accepting myself has to happen BEFORE change happens. On my mat, I meet myself exactly where I am. I am not broken, there is nothing to be fixed, there is nothing wrong with me. I am present. This helps me be present in my life. No more “fake listening” to people. No more investing in relationships that are toxic. No more saying YES when I should be saying NO. On my mat I listen, find compassion, and am grateful for my physical body. In life, I see these things becoming core beliefs. I don’t wish my body away anymore. And when I’m not caught up in that song and dance, things in life open up.

Yoga is the journey.
I started doing yoga because my treatment team had banned me from running, the gym, and the Bikram yoga practice. It’s not a fluke that I stepped into a studio and fell in love with this practice. My recovery journey was flipped upside down when I started practicing, and it has led me all the way to Yoga Teacher Training. The journey never ends.

Yoga means union.
The message of yoga is that we are one. We are all connected. Be nice to people. Be kind. Everyone has a story. I’ll say it again- BE NICE. BE KIND. If we are one, it’s not all about you. Give credit where credit is due. Lift others up, because it lifts you up too.

Contentment/happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
Perfection simply does not exist, but balance does. We are human, and we all have our shit. Your problems are not more important than anyone else’s, and theirs are not more important than yours. What is possible when you are aligned?

Being a yoga teacher is not about ME.
When I teach, I am there for the people in front of me. I am there to hold space for them and give them what they need. I am not there to “get it right”. Teaching yoga allows me to just be.

“You can teach a monkey to call yoga poses.”
You cannot teach a monkey how to connect. You cannot teach a monkey how to share. It’s not just about calling the poses right…teaching yoga is about connecting with my students through breath, compassion, vulnerability, and my personality.

Run towards fear.
Fear has something to teach me. Facing fears allows me to grow. Avoiding fear creates limits.

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes from Baron Baptiste, creator of Baptiste Power Vinyasa style yoga. “This is what the process of yoga does. It wrings you from the inside out. It brings up everything that’s in there- the fears, doubts, frustrations, toxins, strengths, beliefs, potential- and exposes it either to be released or to be used for growth. It challenges physically, emotionally, and spiritually and gives you the opportunity to experience every part of yourself on a whole new level. It all starts in your body, on your mat.”

My tribe and doing what I love!

Yoga Teacher Training

If you follow my Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you know I talk about yoga a lot. You might think I’ve joined some weird kind of yoga cult and am now a yoga zombie. I’m not gonna lie, the first class I took where we “OM-ed” in the beginning had me wondering. But as I’ve jumped out of my comfort zone, I find myself wanting to share what yoga has done for me, because it has radically changed my life. In just under two weeks, I will embark on a journey through Yoga Teacher Training for 20+ weeks. It’s going to be a season of learning, structure, change, and busyness for me. I’m sure there will be times where I hate yoga, am stressed and overwhelmed, exhausted, and second-guessing my decision. So, to keep myself grounded in my journey, I’ve set a goal to write a blog post once a week while in training. Once a WEEK. Yikes. Pretty lofty for someone who can’t even remember the last time she wrote a non-food review post. However, one big reason I decided to start this blog and even DO Yoga Teacher Training was so I could share my reflections during this time in my life. Already, I’ve learned a few things in making these decisions to be more vulnerable and honest.

Things won’t always look like you thought they would. I’m not even doing my YTT at the beloved studio that I’ve called my yoga home for almost two years now. I’m grieving this, although it was 100% my decision, and am choosing to be grateful for this unexpected turn of events. It means my yoga teachers have taught me to flourish- to follow my dreams and my heart, rather than stick with the “how it should be’s.”

You have to take care of yourself, and trust life’s timing. I wanted to do YTT last year. I almost got talked into it, but I also got talked out of it. I was mad at the time, but I am SO glad I waited to be healthier before starting something this intense. I frequently struggled with severe hypoglycemia that led to vomiting, near passing out episodes, and foggy thinking. I knew that if I really wanted to do this teacher training thing, I HAD to get serious about taking care of myself- consistently. I gained the weight I had absolutely refused to put on for over a year. It’s been a wonder what those extra pounds have done for me. I would be lying if I said I was even anywhere close to accepting my body of what it is- but I have accepted that I have to take care of it.

It’s OK to trust your gut/heart. I’m an ICU nurse. I want to know how things work, that A causes B, and steps 1-6 will lead me to the right decision. At the end of the day, the only wrong decision I could make about YTT was that I wasn’t going to do it at all. Anxiety about money, my work schedule, energy levels, where to do my training, and who to talk to about it was scary- almost scary enough to make me decide to forget the whole thing altogether and forgo training. But my intuition told me not to. It guided me to exactly the right places and people I needed to, to be brave and take the leap into this adventure.

Stay true to yourself. I started yoga for all the wrong reasons, and was extremely blessed to actually end up finding all the RIGHT reasons to do yoga. I care so much about the people in my life. I am slow to warm but when I love, I love hard and with all of my heart. I am compassionate and have a passion for helping others. If I end up teaching yoga, it’s going to be to the people like me. The ones who feel deeply but won’t admit it, who are tired and burned out of their jobs, who get their feelings hurt by being honest. I’m going to teach the people like me who said yoga was bullshit, because there’s a chance that is all just a mask of a person who needs to find themselves. This could look like teaching in a studio. It could look like teaching in a park. Hell, it could look like teaching my friends yoga in their living room. I’m not going through YTT to quit my day job- I pursuing it in hopes of filling myself up and passing that on to others.

God has a plan. Always. He just does. And it’s going to be far better than what your little, limited, finite human mind could think out. So trust Him. And know that He isn’t going to lead you anywhere He hasn’t already been- because God can use ANYONE.

Thanks for wanting to watch my journey. Some weeks my blog posts might be five sentences; some weeks they might be three pages. I’m excited to see where this takes me. I hope I can help show you that health and healing is possible in unexpected places.

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Contentment

I’m sitting here on my bed, with the window open and my sweet pup at my feet, occasionally barking at sounds in the neighborhood. It’s just cool enough (for me!) to cover myself in our comforter. My husband’s Discipleship Group is meeting upstairs and there is the occasional breakout of laughter. My belly is full from a dinner we and I cooked together. Today was beautiful and sunny, and I took a long nap to prepare to the half nightshift I’m splitting with another nurse in a few hours. I’m playing music from my “Chill and Write” playlist on Spotify.

I am content. I am thankful. I can sit here and appreciate my breath and my heartbeat and everything my body does to keep me alive.
It isn’t always this way. I haven’t decided what I hate most about my eating disorder, but one thing I know I really hate is how nothing is ever enough. I’ve been battling with thoughts of not being enough more than usual the last week or so. I can blame it on a longer break than usual from therapy, or anxiety from not exercising as much (because um, excuse me, I’m having fun LIVING), but either way, it is there. The discontentment. The disappointment with myself.

Want to know what my mind sounds like sometimes? Well here ya go: I’m going to be the fattest, ugliest, sweatiest person at the yoga immersion this weekend. Oh my God, no wonder I’m going to have to end up riding alone. Who would want to be friends with the girl who says she has an eating disorder but isn’t even thin anymore?! I shouldn’t have signed up. How the heck am I going to eat Zaxby’s as my challenge food this week? Why did I say I would work a nightshift; when am I going to exercise tomorrow? I need to do more abs. Oh my God I have to go shopping for spring and summer clothes; I can’t live in yoga pants. Trust me, I could go on.

In recovery, I am learning a lot of truths. About food, about exercise, about MYSELF. Those are the hard ones. It’s a weird feeling, to still feel like you’re growing up when you just tuned 30 years old. One of the big truths I’m facing right now is that I AM INSECURE. What??? Me? Geeze Linds, now the whole world knows. Ok actually just like the random 5 people who read your blog, but still.

Since I was a teenager, I have placed my confidence and certainty in my eating disorder. There’s just a few things wrong with that (HA), but the biggest problem with it is that I have not learned to place my confidence and certainty in God. I’ve been a Christian since middle school, but honesty time, my eating disorder has been my god with a little “g”. My eating disorder is no doubt TERRIBLE for me, but it has served many purposes. It protected me, gave me purpose, comforted me, made me calm, and helped me deal with the tough stuff in life.

The thing is, GOD can do all of that. And more. I just have to let Him; and believe me that is quite the learning curve. Some days, I’m pretty OK at it. I have the word “grace” tattooed on my wrist but dang do I sometimes with it was on the inside of both my eyelids. Some days, I am miserable. I have mini-meltdowns over my clothes because I’m finding my worth in my jeans. I want to crawl out of this body God gave me, because it is twenty-something pounds more than it used to be and I want to cut off all my fat.

I recently saw a quote by C.S. Lewis. “You don’t have a soul. You ARE a soul. You have a body.” Cue all the feels. What a reminder of how I am to live. As a soul, not a body. My body is just a home for my soul. What does God want from me? To love Him, and to love others as I love myself. I do love others- I love my friends like they are family, I love broken people, I love knowing people’s stories; but I also pretend I don’t- because I’m insecure and what if they don’t love me back. What if they look at me and see what I do when I look in the mirror? I am reminded of a verse: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14) When God said this to Moses, it wasn’t a “feel good” comforting kind of instruction. God actually wanted Moses to what we would probably call “sit down and shut up” so he could truly hear and accept the plans God was giving him. Moses didn’t want to be the one to lead the people out of Egypt- he was scared. Just like I am. I don’t want to let go of the security of my eating disorder- I am scared. BUT, it’s important to note that “do not fear” is written in the Bible over ONE HUNDRED times. The God of the whole freaking universe is telling me that He is on my side. I am here not to manipulate and abuse my body; but travel around and share my soul with others. My sole purpose in this life is not to be thin and eat “clean” but to be an example of Jesus the best I can, and love others. Some days I’m really going to suck at this, but because of grace, that word on my wrist, I get to try again every single day.

Contentment. When you get in your head like I so often do, try gratitude. Try re-framing what your purpose is and where your worth comes from. I can promise you it is not an addiction, a disorder, or a label. And I can promise you, even on the hard days, it is worth knowing your value isn’t measurable in pounds or sizes or the amount of minutes you exercise.
You are enough. Because He says so.

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Bad Days and Choices

Being in recovery doesn’t mean you never have really bad days.

Being weight restored doesn’t mean your mind is healed.

The past few days, I have wanted to choose my eating disorder over everything. It started with a change of plans one day that didn’t allow me to go to yoga. Although I’m no longer a compulsive over-exerciser, I still struggle with the lie that I HAVE to exercise to be “allowed” to eat. For me, exercise is a security blanket for eating. Going out with friends for dinner? Having a glass of wine? Eating ice cream? Totally cool- as long as I’ve been to a power hot yoga class or taken my dog on a long walk. I’ve functioned this way for so long, and it is a hard habit to break.
My therapist said it best a few months back: “Just because you body isn’t anorexic anymore doesn’t mean your mind isn’t.” So true. Despite the weight gained, the fear foods challenged, and the food rules broken; my brain is still somewhat sick. I look fine on the outside, but it does not always match what is going on inside. My mind can be the worst enemy I have ever known. The past few days I’ve been consumed with anxiety about my body, food, exercise, etc. Thoughts to restrict, lie to my support people and treatment team, and sneak in extra exercise have been strong.

“Today I want to choose anorexia,” I told my husband in a text the other day. “Today that seems like it will feel better. I know that’s not true.”
Yes, my brain is still somewhat sick. But, it is also healthy too, for the first time in a long time. I know what choosing anorexia means. It doesn’t just mean losing weight, numbing grief, and fitting into smaller clothes. Relapse means losing what matters to me; a list that I could go on and on about. I don’t want to be sick. I think a turning point in recovery is deciding you want to be well more than you want to be sick. Being sick, honestly, it’s more comfortable. It feels like shit but dang is it familiar. Being sick is miserable, and I used to live in fear that I would NEVER ever get better. It was terrifying. My first morning in day treatment, the therapist made us journal. “I would rather die than live the rest of my life with an eating disorder,” I wrote.

So the really bad days- I’ll take them. I’ll take them over threats of residential treatment and crying over meals and almost passing out in yoga and drinking freaking Boost three times a day. In the moment, it is easy to forget that the bad days are better than what being trapped in my eating disorder feels like.

I have to constantly remind myself that although there are bad days, there are also good days. And the good days are so so worth it. Being healthy is hard, but it is also amazing. It means my relationships are genuine. It means my body is strong enough to attend yoga teacher training. It means I can love and support my husband fully. It means traveling and being present and living life in COLOR. Being healthy means much more than being sick ever did.

When you want to choose your eating disorder, give yourself some grace. It happens. Maybe some days you make the wrong choice. But you KEEP choosing life and choosing health. And believe that one day, it won’t be a choice any more. Healthy will be the normal.

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Life is too short not to smile!