Learning How to Love Freely

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Yesterday, I started fall semester at school, and it’s been a whirlwind already. It’s only Tuesday, but it feels like Friday. Yeah, one of those weeks. I’ve been anxious and irritated, and yesterday, I sat in my spot in the stacks for a long time journaling, trying to figure out why I was feeling so negative about something that I love so much: school.

Today, I woke up early (5am is a slap in the face!) and was feeling chipper and happy. I got to school at 7am, and it was so quiet. I loved it. It was such a shock yesterday after the mellow vibe of summer school in Boulder to have all 30,000 CU students back all at once. So, this morning I learned that early morning at school is the best time to be there. But in the back of my mind was this gnawing feeling that the serenity would only last so long, that “the students” (like they’re a collective monster) were waiting in the wings, about to pounce around 9 or 10. By 11am, I was back in irritation station. I barely made it through my last class, and when I got to the gym at 2, I broke down in tears. This is not how I want school to go/be/feel.

So, where is this negativity coming from? I can tell that I am so irritated by the community at school, with the apathetic attitude. Now, of course, not everyone fits into this massive generalization I am laying out before you, but I have encountered student apathy in the classroom way more often than I’d like to.

Why would anyone skip class when they’re paying thousands of dollars to be there? Why would you not do the work? Why isn’t school important or valued amongst these students I’ve encountered? I’ll say it again – I realize that I’m making a generalization. And I also realize that when I was 19, I skipped class and didn’t do the work and didn’t value school as much as I do now. We can get that off the table. I know that I have age and experience on my side when it comes to my work ethic being more developed. But I am so distracted by the apathy, by the bad attitudes, by the stark contrast in the values I hold and the values the community holds. It’s hard to get work done with this irritation shuddering through me in this frenetic, uncomfortable way.

I feel like I am being put through a test. Maybe not a test, but I am sure as hell doing some good learning. I have been making mistakes in how I treat people almost all of my waking hours these last two days of school, and I am learning a lot about compassion and patience. I prayed for so long yesterday that I would learn how to love people as God does – unconditionally. I will always fall short since I am not omniscient and am not able to know everyone’s full story or able to understand the depths of their emotions or experiences, as the Spirit does, but I want so desperately to be someone who LOVES people. Like, really, really loves people.

I have such a short supply of patience and I have such high expectations for people. I scrutinize unfairly, I make snap judgments, and I label people without a filter – idiot, stoner, floozey, ignorant, apathetic, rude, selfish, mean. I am owning up to a lot of (pardon me) shit right now. And I am doing that because, honestly, I am so sick of being like this. I know that we all do this sort of thing in some measure, but I know that I have these habits or engage in these behaviors because I used to be bullied as a kid. I was bullied so I became a bully. And that defensive strategy never really went away, but I don’t need it anymore! I am an adult, and a confident one at that. And the more I learn about myself, the more confident I become that God set me apart and I am fine the way I am.

I am starting to have my eyes opened to the fact that loving others is SO hard, but it’s a little easier the more we love ourselves. Think about it, why would we be so judgmental or defensively rude to someone if we fully loved ourselves? And I don’t mean vanity or narcissism, I mean knowing the fullness of our worth. Why would there be any reason to deny someone love if we knew how great love is? I think the only reason I deny loving others is because I lack love myself. At the end of the day, it’s about security, safety, and faith.

My love of learning – it is such a gift. God saw this talent in me, this beautiful intellect that I’ve been given, and blessed me by cultivating it through the opportunity to go back to school. I don’t want it to be soured by a bad attitude. If I could go anywhere in the world – Yale, Notre Dame, Harvard, Stanford, Michigan – would I go there? I am tempted to say yes because the classroom environments might be more focused, but I would always be lacking something. Friendships, which I have here, closeness to family, which I have here, a great job for my husband, which we have here…  It’s temping to say “If only this or that were different, I’d be happier/nicer/less irritable” but it’s just not true. Our demons follow us, and there will always be loads of difficult people to love.

This semester, I have three goals: to get straight A’s, to continue getting healthier and more fit, and to make 2 new friends at school. The underlying prayer behind all of this though is this: Spirit, help me to love people as you love them – wholly and unconditionally, and help me to be free with kindness, to be full of hope, and rich in compassion – for myself and for others.


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Thoughts on Mental Health and Feelings of Desperation…

I heard this song by Passenger via NPR a few weeks ago. It’s about a real life man who Mike Rosenberg (of Passenger) met in Minnesota one night when he went out to buy cigarettes. The man was on his way to his family’s home, and he was riding across the United States on a motorcycle. It would be his last act – he had been diagnosed with cancer, and wanted to live out the rest of his days with his family.

The song doesn’t have much to do with what I’m writing about today, other than that it was inspiration enough for Rosenberg to stop smoking, and it made me think about choices we all can make to prevent early death or sickness or abusive experiences in our own lives, and instead live full, healthy, long lives.

In light of Robin Williams’ suicide last week, I have been thinking a lot about mental health in the last few days. The people I know who have taken their own lives, and the people I don’t know who have. My friend Julie who somewhat took her own life when her struggle with an eating disorder put her into her second diabetic coma, one she didn’t wake up from. My dear professor Dr. H whose struggle with bipolar disorder led him to take his own life in April. Other family friends… and then there are those who I don’t know but you do. You know their stories. I’m sure you have friends who struggle with self-harm. Maybe you struggle yourself.

While I have never been compelled to self-harm or have had suicidal thoughts myself, I have experienced depression and anxiety. I know what it is like under those dark, heavy clouds, when you feel like you can’t breathe and life just seems scary and unmanageable. I’ve felt numb and I’ve felt desperate. I’ve felt electrocuted with intense emotion that takes all of the bravery out of my lungs. During those times, I’ve turned and run, if not outright sprinted, to my doctor and my therapist and my husband. I have told them that I will tell them all of my secrets, read every journal, answer all of their questions if they will just help me not feel this way anymore. I’ve left practitioners behind who’ve shamed me, and I’ve clung close to the ones who have been my unwavering advocates. And I’ve felt the relief of coming out of the depression cloud, and I know what it’s like to be on the other side.

The thing about mental health is – whether it’s depression or really public suicides like Robin Williams’ or mass shootings or close family/friend deaths – our society really struggles to talk about it. The conversation likes to dwindle, and I’m sure there are a lot of reasons as to why that sociologists a lot smarter than me could tell you about but I’m guessing a lot of it has to do with fear of inadequacy or feeling of shame and weakness. Not wanting to be misunderstood. Not wanting to be fired or let go or demoted if you’re really honest about your struggle. Not wanting your spouse to think less of you, or not wanting to even admit it to yourself because it’s just so damn scary. And maybe even that you or others you know have tried so hard to get help, but it just didn’t work. Or “stick.” That’s how it was with Julie. And Dr. H.

I am not a professional, and I don’t have the answers. Like I said, I don’t know all the reasons behind why the U.S seems to be plagued with mass violence and depression/anxiety struggles. But I believe that this little blog can make a big difference, even if it is just in one life. And with that belief comes the duty to speak out about resources and hope and health in hopes that if any of you are struggling yourself or struggling to support someone, that you know where to go.

Robin Williams’ death is so tragic because he was such a big talent and inspired so many. But I know that for me, personally, Dr. H was a big talent and he inspired so many. Not very many people knew him or of him, but he still affected a lot of people. And that is the same for your life and for your loved ones who may be struggling. Your life matters in HUGE ways. Not many people may know you or of you, but that doesn’t matter. Dr. H matters way more to me than Robin Williams because I knew him personally. And it’s the same with each of us. Mental health affects all of us, no matter who we are. And I think it’s important that we are reminded daily that we are valuable. We are worthy. We have reason for hope. We are capable of amazing things. The world needs us. Our stories matter.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please consider the following resources and inform yourself. Get help. Start the dialogue and the road to health. Lean on hope.

-To Write Love On Her Arms connects people to treatment and sources of help. They have a long list of resources on their ‘Get Help’ page.

-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

-Veterans Crisis Line

Other resources may include a local church or religious organization, your university or school health clinic, a local protection agency like a firefighter’s station (which are often registered safe havens for those escaping abusive situations) or police station.

I’ll leave you with words from Dr. H from a time when I was feeling anxious and needed encouragement:

There are those of us who are overwhelmed with anxiety because we may feel we will disappoint others or ourselves. We might feel that we will fail and that the failure will shame us. Or we might feel we are simply not prepared enough or good enough or smart enough. The truth is all of the above fears are unfounded. Failure is not the end of the world, it is the beginning of understanding and knowledge. People who love us will not be disappointed by our failures, they are more likely to want to help us review the experience, process it and help us in moving on from it.

I am praying today that all of you know your worth, and that all of you find relief and comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone.


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Let’s Party at Madewell on Friday!

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Hey! Guys! Guess what?

I’m co-hosting Madewell Boulder’s One-Year Anniversary Party on Friday, and I want you to be there!

You know that I have been focusing on the idea that we are all made well in the last few months. We are strong, brave, vulnerable, beautiful individuals whose stories matter. And so when Madewell Boulder asked me to partner with them to celebrate their one year anniversary, I jumped at the opportunity. Here is a moment where women will be gathered together to shop, sip, snack, and meet new people, and I wanted the evening to be about self-love instead of self-hate. You know how easy it is when we’re shopping to pick clothes that we feel forced to fit our body into rather than choosing clothes that will fit our body? Or to go to a party where we feel like we aren’t fashionable enough, funny enough, engaging enough – just plain not enough. Let’s leave that at the door on Friday. You’re enough, right now. Let’s just have some fun!

There will be bubbles to sip on, snacks, and I’ll be doing some personal styling! There will also be a chance to win a $100 gift card just because you showed up – you don’t even need to buy anything! More than anything, I’m excited to chat with y’all and share the authentic love that we are all our best when we are truly ourselves. So, come as you are!

If you can, please RSVP via the Facebook event so we know to expect you!

Can’t wait! XO.


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“Be Here Now”

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Tonight is our last night in Vail, and I have been thinking through a lot while we’ve been up here. I decided today that I really needed to unplug for the rest of the weekend so that I can work on being in the present moment, but I felt the itch to write and get some things off my chest. So here we are.

I first heard the phrase “Be here now…” on my freshman backpacking trip in college. We spent 12 days or so in the wilderness, and we were encouraged from minute one to try our best to not think so much about home or the upcoming school year or the past/future, but to really be in the present moment. It seemed like such a simple concept at the time, and frankly, with the excitement of the trip, I don’t recall it being too hard. New friends, new adventures. There were times, of course, when I thought about home and my family and got a little anxious, but for the most part, I was able to unwind and just be. I think it’s really important for me to remember that this was before iPhones, or smart phones in general. I had a flip phone, and I left it in my suitcase back at school. I didn’t have an iPod, and even if I did, they wouldn’t have had wifi capabilities back then. Not that there would have been wifi. There was just not as many ways to connect with the outside world.

It’s so much harder now. We are so, so connected. It’s taking so much of my energy right now not to check Facebook or my email as I type this. It’s a little unnerving how addicted I am. Spencer told me on our walk today (sans phones-ish, we took one picture) that he is disappointed with how addicted he is, too. We just didn’t used to be this way, and I am not sure how to go back.

Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t stop thinking about Instagram and blogging and Pinterest… the works. I was thinking about all the bloggers I wish I could be friends with, who I wish cared about my work. As if it’s high school popularity contests all over again. I was feeling angry at how fickle my Instagram followers are, especially now that I’m noticing more trends. I see a gain in followers when I post outfit photos and a loss in followers when I post pictures of my family – frankly, my honest, authentic, real daily life. And it really makes me angry! I can’t help but feel hurt when people seem bored with the parts of life that are the most important to me.

I think all of this comes down to wanting to be seen. Seen as in valued and appreciated.

I’m starting to believe that my desire to stay connected is out of a need for affirmation. I feel anxious without it – because I don’t have enough of it within myself. I long for those relationships with other writers, for followers, for notoriety – because I’m craving love.

This is such a hard battle, isn’t it? I believe it all goes back to this ancestral, primordial, mysterious human experience of doubt and fear. Why do we doubt ourselves? For me, it has to be a spiritual reason.

Self-love and contentment are strenuous paths. But here I sit, overlooking the pool, watching these two boys play for hours and hours without a care in the world, and I wonder how it is that they make it look so easy. When is it that the switch flipped? How do I switch it back?

With all of this said, my phone is back in the room, and it’s turned off. After I post this, the computer will be turned off, too. I want to wait until Monday morning to check my phone or anything related to social media. I want to reflect on what I’m learning, and live in the present moment. And I’d encourage you to do to the same. As always, this is about the “me too” attitude. I want to know your thoughts and hopes and wins and setbacks. Let’s learn together. See you on Monday

XO.

 


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This is truth.

I don’t need to say anything about this amazing video by spoken word poet Madiha Bhatti. Just watch, and be inspired.


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Will a baby ruin my life?

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Did you ever see the movie Baby Boom with Diane Keaton? It was one of those ’80s movies that my mom had on every now and then when we were kids. It was actually one of my favorite movies growing up. It is funny and sweet and there is a really cute baby. It’s all about Diane Keaton’s character, J.C., figuring out how to live her life when she is given custody of her cousin’s baby after they died in a tragic accident. She is this power suit, classic 80s stereotype successful working woman in New York City, and she just loses it, like completely melts down when this kid enters her life. She weighs the baby in the grocery store produce section to figure out what diapers to buy. She can’t find childcare. She doesn’t sleep. Her boyfriend leaves her. So she quits her job, buys an idyllic house in New England, and thinks life will be just like a postcard. Except the house is falling apart, and she doesn’t know a soul in the small-town she moved to. This movie is all about her finding her balance, and realizing that she is both a mom and a career woman. She loves both.

This movie popped into my head this morning when I was reflecting on this post by my friend Marri of Werewolf Jesus. A few days ago, she posted the most beautiful letter to her unborn daughter, which was written just a few days after she found out she was pregnant. Marri and I are kindred spirits or something, because most everything she writes just jabs me in my core. I’m usually in tears by the end of her posts on faith. They’re so poignant. This letter was no exception. She voiced so many fears I have, as well as so many hopes I have. It really left an impact on me. I just cannot stop thinking about this letter.

The main point in this letter? Choose love over fear.

Choose love, always. I try so, so hard to do this, but fear always creeps back in like some nasty, annoying pest. I guess that is what this life is all about, right? Life is simply a journey of choosing love – every second of every minute of every day until we die. We have to choose it.

I make a lot of choices in my life out of fear. I chose not to study abroad in Italy out of fear that my anxiety would make the trip unbearable. I chose to leave the college where I did my BA, then go back, then leave again, then go back again – all out of fear that my relationship with Spencer would never survive long distance. I have chosen many times to stop blogging for days, weeks, months at a time out of fear that I’d be found to be a fraud. So much fear – so many bad choices.

And one of my biggest fears right now is (and please don’t be offended when I say this, I am just being honest) that having a kid will ruin my life. I mean, just ruin the whole damn thing. I’m afraid that the child will take all of my time away from school, from my husband, from being healthy and staying fit, from creativity, from my friends. I’m afraid that my child will displace me in my relationship with my parents, as silly as that sounds. I’m afraid that having a child will tear my marriage apart. Our finances apart. Literally, my body apart. I’m afraid that I won’t ever get my master’s, let alone my PhD. That I won’t ever be able to teach, or get jobs that I’m qualified for because I can’t manage my time, or that employers will discriminate in hiring me because I have kids. I’m afraid I won’t write a book.

I’m afraid I won’t be me anymore.

So many of you reading this are moms. Some of you are new mamas, some of you are grandmamas. Can I ask you to refrain from telling me not to be afraid? The don’t‘s and the should’s and the You’ll be fine‘s feel kind of, sort of like you’re not listening. I read your blogs. I know that being a mom is both wonderful and challenging. I read the posts about throw-up and how your kids are best friends and all of the alter call’s to natural births. I see your ethereal photos of your children running in a field of wildflowers. I know about how cute babies are in mini-moccasins. As much as throw-up and poop on my hands and mastitis sounds like the worst, and of course I don’t want a drugged up baby when it’s born (but HELLO! it’s freaking childbirth for god’s sake, fix me up a cocktail now), I still want a baby. And I hear you. I listen to your stories. So, please, please I beg of you, listen to mine. Please don’t write me off as some sort of crazed feminist. Instead of the have to‘s and the must‘s and all of the gobs of pressure of not wanting the mommy brigade to attack me, what I’m hoping for is a whole lot of me too-ing. Did you feel this way before you had kids? Because I kind of feel like a terrible human to say all of those things out loud.

The thing that struck me most about Marri’s post is that not only did she admit that she has these worries too, but that she is choosing love over fear. She writes:

I chose to believe that He does not lead His children into destruction. That when I walk with Him, my deep desires are GOOD and GLORIFYING. I chose to believe that you are a gift – a benefit, not a sacrifice. I chose to ignore those mommy-bloggers who told me you’d make my life harder and suck my joy and my time and my marriage. I chose to believe that I was worth more than many sparrows and that an omniscient God could work all of these things for good. I chose to believe in my calling and the strength of His plans for me. I chose to believe that you’d not only allow for this book, but that you’d be an asset. I chose to believe that you – with your weird, baby powers, would make me more creative and organized than ever. That my joy in your life would overflow into my book, giving me that surge of inspiration to cross the finish line.

I know it in my head, but sometimes it’s just hard to believe in my heart that a child would be a gift, a benefit, an assetThat by believing that God won’t lead me into a destructive place, I will actually be able to have the freedom to live a life that is more me. That the joy this path could bring me might actually bring more love and less fear, more motivation and less apathy, more desire and less passivity. I don’t know the plans that God has for me, but whether or not it includes kids, I want to live today with love. And not fear.

I don’t know what timeline I’m on for kids. And I don’t really care. Marri’s reminder to choose love, always is something I can do today, and frankly, all I have is today anyway. I’m a planner, but living in the present moment brings so much more peace to my life than any amount of timelines and to do list’s promise me (they’re always empty promises).

Anyway, back to Diane Keaton and Baby Boom. While it was comical and timely for the decade to see her crash and burn while she juggled life to “have it all” – I think this a real life thing that all of us women experience, especially Gen X and Y because we were raised in such a perfectionist, “You can do it all!” world. We carry a lot on our shoulders, and the mere image in my head of me writing my doctoral dissertation while breast feeding kind of seems absurd. But God instilled a desire for both things in my head, and why would he have done that if it was only for absurdity’s sake?

I don’t know how to end this post?

How about with a bit of Mumford and Sons? Hats of to Marri for remember this song – it’s one of my favs:


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A Jane Austen Inspired Baby Shower

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A few weekends ago, I hosted a Jane Austen-inspired baby shower for my dear cousin, Julia. She is a book lover, and an Austen fanatic. We have a big family, and there have been a lot of new kiddos running around lately. But if you can believe it, out of all seven of them, we’ve only ever had one girl! So when I found out that Julia was having a little girl, I knew that we’d not only all spoil the little lady to pieces, but that I had to do a Jane Austen themed party.

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Minted gifted the invitations for the party, and they turned out SO well! I couldn’t have found a better fit for the Jane Austen theme. Plus, “little lady” fit so well, since we hardly have any girls in our family! We need more estrogen around these parts!

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I’ve never hosted a baby shower before, but it was seriously a blast. I went all out. I could not stop thinking of crafty ideas for decor, food, and such. I was inspired by Lexy and Erin’s name tag creations from the Spring 2013 EatDrinkCreate, so I made these name tags with chalkboard paint. The plan was to have each person fill out their own, but then Lauren came over to help one night and started calligraphing the most beautiful name tags in the world – so I made her do the rest of them :)

We also rolled up all the game hand outs and sealed them with stickers from Minted that matched the table runner and the door sign. We made up little bags with a pen, a clothespin for the game “Don’t Say Baby”, and an English Breakfast tea bag. It was a great way to keep everyone’s items together.

I also used a lot of Poppytalk for Target and Oh Joy! for Target decor at the event. They have such great stuff!

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We had a great spread of food, thanks to the help of my family! My cousin Emily made gingerbread with sprinkle butter, and an amazing popcorn cake. I believe all of the recipes are from the cookbook Sprinkles!. My mom made some incredible veggie tea sandwiches, my cousin Lori made veggie taco bites, and I made sure to get some cupcakes from Tee & Cakes in Boulder.

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Lauren also helped me make this raindrop (shower – get it?) installation for the gift table. Inspired by this pin, we spent the better part of the week cutting out rain drops and hot glueing them together. Luckily, I had already made the poms a few years ago, and Spence helped me install it day of.

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My favorite part of the shower was making these onesies for Julia. Each one has a different Jane Austen quote, and I got them in a few different sizes so that baby girl could keep rocking her literary style while she gets bigger. I used iron on transfer sheets, which were remarkably easy and turned out so well! I cannot believe how well they turned out.

All in all, the day was such a huge success. Thank you so much to my sweet family for all of their help, and for Minted for gifting invitations and decor. I have to say, this gave me quite a big dose of baby fever! Little girls are just so much fun!

 

This post was sponsored by Minted. All opinions are my own.


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Last Weekend

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This past weekend was so incredibly relaxing. It was just what we needed. Both Spencer and I woke up so refreshed this morning. Just goes to show that a lot of sleep and some serious down time does the soul a lot of good. We mostly poked around this weekend – we hit the gym a few times, spent time in Boulder, ate in, and went to bed early every night. It was the best weekend we’ve had in a long time.

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On Saturday, we went and visited Kim’s pop-up shop at Firefly Handmade in Boulder. I love her stuff. She is so creative, and her style is this awesome cross of bohemian-chic, and I just love it. Sometimes the bohemian look gets taken way overboard, in my opinion, but she never crosses that line. She’s the real deal.

IMG_6018Love this photo of Kim laughing.

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She has some amazing stuff in her shop right now, and I got a new chambray-ish wire headband, a kimono (pictured above), an ampersand tank top, a tote, some koozies, and a few other goodies for some friends.

Kim is a blogger acquaintance turned great friend, and I’m so thankful for her. We always have such authentic, real life conversations, and it’s so refreshing in a blog world that is becoming more and more superficial.

IMG_6006My husband has had a cracked windshield in every car he has ever owned since I’ve met him. Ten years ago. He’s cursed.

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On Sunday, I posted a super vulnerable post about my health and fitness journey. I cannot believe how positive a response I got. I was really scared to post it. It’s hard to talk about something so personal, but I’m glad I did because so many of you have written me to say that you are inspired and encouraged and that you don’t feel so alone. I’m really excited to keep posting about this. If you want to follow along, I’ll be posting on Instagram in addition to the blog. Find me @anneiam and if you want to join in, use the hashtag #WeAreMadeWell when you do!

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetNew shoes.

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IMG_6022This decoupage map on canvas will be on the blog soon! I’ve really been enjoying implementing more creative time into my life lately.

IMG_6055I woke up like this. Literally. We took a lot of naps this weekend.

Happy happy Monday! XO


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Real Talk: My Fitness Journey

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Back in January, I had coffee with my friends Lauren and Meg, and shared with them a dream I’ve had for awhile about sharing my fitness/health journey on this blog with all of you. I’ve shared my eating disorder recovery story, which was a big step of bravery, but it’s even more scary to open up about the day to day steps of getting healthy and building a foundation of fitness in my life. It’s a really vulnerable thing to do, and I’ve been afraid to share about something that has been an open wound for so long. Like, twenty years long.

The last two years have been a one-step-at-a-time kind of phase in my life. I like instant gratification, and it has been the opposite of that. When I realized in February 2012 that my eating was incredibly disordered and that my poor body image was basically ruining my life, I started first with therapy, thinking that would be the one-stop-shop to fixing it all. And then digging up the hard stuff uprooted a lot more pain, so I moved into intensive outpatient group therapy (IOP) and nutrition sessions for six months. I can’t express how healing this time was for me, but “graduating” from IOP was not the end of the road, though I wanted it to be, and I had to face the facts that I had gained forty pounds (40!…) during my time with the group because I had stopped weighing myself and had started eating more regularly at the urging of my nutritionist. These were healthy steps, but I didn’t stop binging, and the intense emotional work I was doing was so exhausting that I stopped working out – hence, serious weight gain. I can’t even begin to describe to you how hard this was, and how mad I was at my treatment team for letting this “get out of hand.” Obviously, I had to take responsibility, but when you’re that unhappy with your body, you want more than anything to completely disassociate from it and blame everyone else for your problems.

I just want to stop for a minute here and say briefly that if you are reading this and you are struggling with anxiety or an eating disorder or poor body image, and you are wanting to ask for help – please do! Please reach out to a health care professional in your area – a doctor, a therapist, an eating disorder clinic, a nurse at your school, a psychiatrist – and ask for help. Please do not read my story about gaining weight in therapy, and think that will happen to you, too. We are all different. We all have our own stories and paths. We cannot let our fears hold us back from healing. I pray that you will find someone who can help you in a compassionate and understanding way, and if at any point you feel shamed by a health care provider, find a new one. We all deserve to be loved unconditionally in our journey towards health – no matter what our “illness” may be.

Okay, back to my story: In February 2013, I started acupuncture to help calm my nervous system and work on connecting with my body in a healthy way. I spent the better part of last year trying to get my anxiety under control, and trying to lose weight. I lost a few pounds, but could never make any progress. I still felt so alone, and so angry at how out of shape I was.

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So in February 2014 (why I have started the big steps in my journey in February, I don’t know, but I’m happy for the easy milestone marker), I finally started working with a trainer two times a week. I can’t even begin to describe to you how scary it was to walk into a gym in fitness-obsessed Boulder and put it all out on the line for my trainer Ali to see. I was so deconditioned. So, so, so deconditioned. I could barely do three or four push-ups on my toes (not modified), and could barely get through the workout. At one point, I was so tired that I had to lay down because I was so dizzy. To be real, I was so embarrassed. In 2008, I ran a half marathon with my running club in Boulder, and I was rock climbing three times a week. In 2010, I rode my bike up the Pacific coast on the Ride:Well Tour. I’ve always been fit, despite having really poor body/self image. So owning up to how out of shape I was – it was a huge step.

So, every Tuesday and Thursday for the last 6 months, I’ve been in the gym with Ali working my butt off. Ali is such a kindred spirit, and a wonderful friend. It is seriously such a small world. We worked at the same camp, went to sister colleges, and even went to the same elementary school! She has the same beliefs about health and fitness being balanced and holistic as I do. I’m so, so thankful that she is a part of my team.

At first, I didn’t really see any progress. We were just lifting at first, but then we started talking about how fitness should be fun so we started swimming and she helped me with my strokes. I love swimming. And it was in the pool I started realizing how strong I was becoming. Then, Spencer started joining me at the gym on the weekends and I don’t mean to diminish my husband’s remarkable capabilities and strength and I love you, darling! but I annihilated him. I mean, crushed him. Mopped the floor with him. He was out of shape, too, and now getting healthy is something we are doing together! Then, two weeks ago, I ran my first two-mile run since I started recovery. And then, last week, I did a push-up test and I did 40 push-ups (not modified!) on my toes – in a row.

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The scale has hardly moved. I’m just telling the truth here. But I’ve lost 5% of my body fat, and my clothes fit totally different. My legs are toned, my shoulders are buff, and it’s obvious I’ve gained a lot of muscle. Just goes to show you that the scale is a liar. There are so many different ways other than lbs. and clothing size to show that you’re making progress, even though our culture does not talk about those things very much. I remember in high school, I was a size four and ran an 8-minute mile, and all I wanted was to be a size zero. No matter what, I could never be thin enough. Now, I’m finally starting to see that loving yourself is about so much more than what the mirror/scale/size tag tells you.

I am telling you this story today, even though I’m seriously terrified to post this, because I want to invite you all to come along on my journey with me. Ever since I posted my recovery story, so many of you have emailed me and reached out to tell me your “me too” story. We’ve realized that the more authentic and honest we are with each other, the more connected we are. We don’t feel so alone. We like ourselves more because we don’t feel so marginalized.

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A few months ago, I had a talk with a friend who has a similar story to the one I just told you. She was really forlorn and didn’t know where to go. All I could say was “me too” and “I understand” and listen to her. We all know that she, like all of us, has to take those steps towards change herself, but it’s easier when we do it together and we know that we are not alone. So I want to share more about my fitness/health journey, my wins, my setbacks, my goals, etc… so that we can do this together. So long, shame. Goodbye, body-hating. I want to love my body, be connected to it, live a holistic life, and be filled with so much love and light and peace that it just radiates out to everyone I pass by. Don’t we all?

In addition to posting here, I will be posting on Instagram @anneiam with the hashtag #wearemadewell – so let’s do this thing! Come and follow along, and let’s take steps towards health and a full, balanced life in authentic community with one another.

You guys are the best. Thanks for listening, as always. XO.


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