Posted in poetry

Companion

Companion//An original poem by Christine Anderson//

Belly like a warm,

Jiggling water balloon;

Or, a fuzz-padded peach

Full of gurgles and purrs.

 

Nose like frog skin:

Cool and damp;

Tongue like terry cloth

In a liquid bath:

Bumps and ridges

Cleaning invisible filth

From his fur.

 

Little lion’s paws

Roughened a bit by

Dry winter’s air:

Kneading into me

As he nuzzles and chews at my hair.

 

Inside that downy muzzle:

Rows of teeth,

Breath like forgotten takeout–

A devious little smile hides there.

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

28 Ways to show yourSELF LOVE

For the month of February, I’m sharing daily tips on how you can show yourself love! This page will be updated everyday as tips are revealed on my Facebook page via livestream. You can also follow the collaboration on this theme with my friend Julie Jordan Scott on her page and with our hashtag #WordLoveYourself

Some of these tips are ways to love yourself physically, and some are tips for your best emotional and spiritual well-being. I feel it’s so important for each of us to love ourselves as much as we love others! So please follow along this month and learn some ways you can love on yourself – ways to “fill your own cup” so you can give love to others ❤

1.  Drink water: Water is life. We come from water; it is our source. Staying hydrated throughout the day makes your body happy, keeps your kidneys functioning well, balances your mood, and so much more! A good guideline is to take your weight, divide that number in half – that number is the number of ounces you should drink each day (i.e., 180 pounds/2 = 90 ounces daily)

2. Eat well and eat balanced: Eat foods that nourish your body. Choose foods rich in fiber, vitamins, protein, and nutrients to boost your health and mood. Avoid sugar and processed food. But conversely, allow yourself a treat now and then. Eating too rigidly or from a very limited diet is unhealthy and creates an imbalanced relationship with food. Food should bring you pleasure as well as health, so don’t be afraid to allow some indulgence.

3. Move your body: Dance, walk, stretch, and play! It doesn’t have to be traditional exercise to be good for your heart and spirit! Moving your body feels good, raises your mood, and clears stale energy from your surroundings.

4. Set boundaries: set clear boundaries for your time and energy. This is something many people struggle with, because we don’t want to be seen as rude, unkind, or unhelpful. But it is so important to say no sometimes; it’s important that you step back from people and situations that make you feel drained, uncomfortable, or used. It takes practice, but does wonders for your emotional health.

5. Soak your troubles away: Keep it simple or spoil yourself! It doesn’t take much to create an oasis for yourself – light some candles (I buy mine at the dollar store), add some essential oil, flower petals, epsom salt, or bath bomb to your bath water. I like to use my time in the tub as a sort of meditation. As I said about drinking water, it is our source – it is extremely restorative for the body and spirit. Envision the water washing your worry from you, and when you pull the plug, all the negativity swirls down the drain.

6. Spend time with Nature: Get outside and breathe in the fresh air. Spend time near a river or lake, among trees, or surrounded by flowers. If it’s warm where you live, take off your shoes and socks and walk barefoot though the grass. If you can’t get outside, bring nature indoors. Either open a window for a few minutes to let in fresh air, or bring elements of nature into your home. I collect feathers, rocks, pine cones, acorns, etc. and keep them as treasures throughout my home. Not only do I benefit from being surrounded by nature, but these pieces serve as a visual reminder of being outside, where I feel most at peace.

7. Spend time with people who inspire you: Friends are like mirrors who reflect our best qualities and remind us of who we truly are. When you consistently surround yourself with those who encourage you, uplift you, and cheer you on toward doing your best will be in the mindset of always striving toward the best version of yourself.

8. Nourish your mind: Play word games, read good books (a variety of genres), watch documentaries, and listen to podcasts. Strive to keep your mind sharp and your worldview broad. Think critically.

9. Develop a spiritual practice: Be careful not to confuse religion with spirituality. Spirituality is any practice that acknowledges your soul, the core of who you are – your Source. For some people, that may be prayer, meditation, or ritual. For me, spiritual practice is spending time next to the river or in the woods.

10. Create something: I have a sign in my room that reads (in bold pink glitter text!) “Do something creative everyday.” I believe that creation is essential to our human experience AND to our spiritual experience! When we create, we utilize the same power as God, the Universe. Creating raises our vibration in the world and brings others joy. So paint! Draw! Sculpt! Craft! Make something with your hands today.

11. Pamper yourself: Do what makes your body feel good: get a manicure/pedicure, get your hair cut/styled, get a massage, treat yourself to your favorite goodies or a movie that makes you belly laugh! Love yourself by treating your body to something special.

12. Speak kindly to yourself: Watch the words you use when speaking to and about yourself. How many times have you said something like “Oh, I messed up – I’m so stupid!” or “I’m no good at that…” Your heart hears the words you say; the language you use about yourself becomes your narrative.

13. Practice mindfulness: So many people spend so much of their time tied to a device (ie, phone in their face) – even when driving our spending time with loved ones! We as a collective struggle with being present in our lives, present in each moment. When we practice mindfulness, we are learning to slow down, breathe in the moment, and practice being fully aware of ourselves and our bodies, aware of our surroundings.

14. Love others: Love is a call to action. We love others and ourselves by meeting people where they are, loving without conditions, loving someone for exactly who they are. Love isn’t warm, fuzzy feelings; love is meeting needs in practical ways, reaching out, and being transparent.

15. Word love (Poetry): How is poetry self love? Well, poetry helps us see the world through different eyes; it gives fresh language to the way we experience life. When we see the world around us in new ways, we see ourselves in new ways too!

16. Spend time with animalsIt’s scientifically proven that time spent with pets decreases blood pressure and anxiety and boosts the immune system. Listening to bird songs has been proven to calm anxious nerves and lower blood pressure as well. Animals are great for our health! But to me, the best part is that they see us with eyes of unconditional love; they see the best in us, no matter what (as long as the food dish is full, lol)!

17. Keep a journalKeeping a journal will help your sort out your thoughts and feelings, sometimes when you’re not even sure what you’re feeling to begin with! Writing down thoughts and feelings gives you the ability to go back later and point out ways you’ve grown or areas that still need improvement. Keep at as simple (Dollar Store notebook) or as fancy (leather-bound diary) as you’d like — you can even use an app! (I like Daylio)

18. LET GOThis is one of life’s hardest lessons – and one I’m still working on. The three areas I struggle most to let go of are people, situations, and stuff. It’s so important to your well-being to let go of toxic people, physical stuff/clutter, and worry over situations that you can’t control.

19. Give yourself grace: This is a big one – most of us are so hard on ourselves. We are much more gracious with someone else’s mistakes and shortcomings; we beat ourselves up for our own and hold ourselves hostages for our humanness. Practice accepting yourself where you are today, in this moment, exactly as you are. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else – not even an ideal of yourself – love and accept yourself in all your beauty and mess.

20. Laugh (even at yourself!): Life can get so serious – between the news, our personal struggles, etc., we can easily get weighed down. Make time in each day for laughter and silliness. One of my favorite ways to laugh is watching stupid, silly cartoon shows like Ren & Stimpy or The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack

21. DO it anyway! All month long, we’ve been discussing tips that are on the pleasant side of things…but what about the not-so-pleasant? What about tough love for ourselves? Sometimes, we have tasks to do, things to face, that aren’t pleasant but we must do them anyway (for our own good). Maybe it’s having an uncomfortable conversation, or making an important phone call, or dealing with an overdue bill. Whatever it may be, we will feel so much better when it’s completed! And sometimes the best love we can show ourselves is in doing what needs to be done, for our own good – even if we don’t enjoy it at the time.

22. Take pride in your accomplishmentsBe proud of the things you do, whether big or small! Whether it’s that uncomfortable conversation (see yesterday) or simply crossing off points on a daily to-do list – celebrate your successes! Praise yourself; it’s positive self reinforcement! The more you accomplish, the more confident you will be in your ability to do more.

23. Take responsibility for your health: Be your own advocate. Don’t be afraid to question your doctors, if something is confusing or doesn’t seem right. Only you live inside your own body; you know what is normal for you or not. Know yourself and assert yourself when needed. Doctors are great, but they don’t always have all the answers. Do your research; use your voice!

 

Posted in life, poetry, writing

I Know This

(For E)     

I don’t know why everything has to be so hard for some people – why the shit just keeps piling up, pound after pound, mound on top of mound.

I don’t know why you have to feel the things you feel – why the pain is sometimes the only thing that feels real.

Why inside, you feel each breath fading away.

I don’t know why you’ve had to live through so many hands pushing you away, when all you wanted was Just. Please…Stay.

Or why you’ve lived through hands that should’ve stayed away – muddy paw prints on your holy skin; foul beasts staining you with their sin.

I don’t know why you can’t ever get ahead. Get away. Get in front of the past you’ve left behind – or why you’re always feeling left behind.

I don’t know why. I know you want answers to your “Why?”

I don’t know why people lie.

Why sweetest tongues can kiss, then fork into deceit.

I don’t know.

But I do know this; I know these things to be true:

You are stardust.

The same crystalline specks that take your breath away in the sky is the same glimmer I have seen behind your eyes.

I know this:

That no matter how white tomorrow’s sky is, frozen with another cold winter day, the sun is there, warming our existence.

I know this:

The river will rise and she will fall back, swell and retreat, overflow and recede. We cannot fault her for her tides, and you cannot fault yourself for the same.

I know this:

That the universe smiles on the ones who keep trying – the ones who fall, curse the concrete where they lie, then breathe deep and try again.

I know this:

That if a butterfly wing can ripple time, your place on this planet is divine.

I know this.

I know this.

Posted in life

Read Anything Good Lately?

I’ve put together a reading list of books that have helped me grow, learn, and inspire my life. This is a work in progress; I’ll be amending it as I remember more book titles I want to share with you (or, as I finish more – I’m in the middle of two right now)! Happy reading!

Find my reading list here

Posted in #5for5BrainDump, life

I Remember…

Happy New Year, faithful readers! I can’t believe it is already 2018, and here I am, best intentions in hand, and yet only typing up my first blog post of the year – the first post in months! I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but I do have every intention of publishing posts here regularly again. Please accept these thoughts with the kindness and authenticity I meant them. I wrote the following in five or ten minutes the other night, #5for5BrainDump style: no editing, no forethought. What came out onto the pages surprised me a little, and made me smile a lot. The joy of free-writing is discovering what your mind decides to bring to the surface….

I feel like I’m stuck in not knowing what to write. Write. Write. Write. “Just keep your butt in the chair and write!” Julie would advise. “Just Do It,” Nike says. Is that even still a thing? Did I just show my age? I remember being young and Nikes were The Thing – the status symbol of popularity. I, of course, never had them. I don’t remember much about the things I wore. Maybe because they always brought me shame. I remember being seven or eight, the one time I got new shoes I adored, and they were new! Brand new! Not a thrift store find or something worn by one of the three sisters ahead of me. They must’ve been on sale? A rare splurge?

I remember them being red, the color of juicy summer cherries (which reminds me of another story for another day). They were Reeboks – how very 1980’s!- hightop sneakers, and frankly I thought they made me look amazing! No one I knew had anything like them! Which, I came to realize (thanks to my sisters), meant no one else had anything like them… And my joy turned to embarrassment. I think maybe this may have been one of the first things that made me acutely aware that I should be self-conscious – that I should question what other people thought.

I remember wearing those shoes until they practically decayed off my feet: outgrown, smelly, and full of holes. And I remember how sad I was to see them go, but not the thought of caring then what anyone else thought of my ruby red sneakers. And, looking back, I want to be that girl again, without a fear of being bright and bold.

 

Posted in #5for5BrainDump, writing

5for5BrainDump: I Am Choosing…

It’s another #5for5BrainDump week hosted by Julie Jordan Scott! Today’s writing prompt was “I Am Choosing to…” OR I Am Shifting Into…”

Today, I am choosing to approach the day with an open heart, and open mind. I choose to let the day teach me what it needs to, without trying to control it all, without trying to keep the day inside a box of my own creation, my own ideals. I am shifting into a realm of possibility, a realm of “anything goes.” I am choosing to embrace what comes for me, and release what is not for me, what does not serve me. I am choosing to be like the river’s flow: fluid, changing, expansive, mutable — letting myself change from one moment to the next, one thought to the next without expectation, demand, or force.  I can take what the day has for me, and still be safe in my thoughts. I don’t need to control everything to feel all right.  I know the universe has my back, and I am choosing to trust the process. I am choosing to trust that it will all work out, trust that I will be okay.

I am shifting into gratitude for the lessons I have learned and the ones I will learn. I am grateful for this day and its opportunities for joy and wonder.

 

 

Posted in Eating Disorder, Recovery, wellness

Things That Get in the Way

“There are ghosts from my past who own more of my soul than I thought I had given away/ They linger in closets and under my bed and in pictures less proudly displayed…” (Jennifer Knapp)

…And, apparently, these ghosts sometimes linger in benign, unexpected moments like cleaning up breakfast dishes. After cooking scrambled eggs, I left the frying pan in the sink to soak. I ate my breakfast and returned a bit later to clean the pan. Remnants of the eggs I had cooked were now pale and puffy with dish water. As I scraped the soggy bits down the drain, my mind quickly flashed back to my past —

Suddenly in my mind, I am transported right back to the midst of my bulimia — hunched over the shower drain, vomiting up my breakfast, pieces of scrambled eggs soaking up the shower water swirling around my feet. I did this more times than I can recall — I was less likely to be heard or found out if I purged in the shower. The down side to discretion was dealing with the mess in the shower and the potentially clogged drain. It meant that I ended up on my hands and knees, forcing half-digested food through the metal grate of the drain with my hands (push down the physical evidence, push down the emotional shame).  Like so many other “milestones” in my illness, I cried the first time I did this. Then, after a few more times, I had perfected it. It disgusted me to be so good at something so bad. It disgusts me now to remember, but I also know it came from a place of desperation and despair.  I know too well the secrecy of shame and the silent cycle it creates in a lonely life. And I know that water-logged scrambled eggs take on the consistency of rubber. This is a fact I will now always know, thanks to those sad, sick moments in the shower. A fact no one really should know, but here I am.

Here I am, standing at my sink, with familiar spongy, rubbery pieces of egg in my hand and a sadness in my memory. It is funny how the mind works, the associations it will make. My mindful meal quickly turned into a painful mental ghost, all because of a bit of tactile memory. These are the parts of recovery I’ve been hesitant to share. These are the pieces that still recall shame to the surface with barely a blink. Everything in me (the places ego resides) screams, “No! Don’t tell people THAT! That’s gross…no one wants to know all of that…”

Maybe it’s true. Maybe some of you reading are grossed out, shaking your head and ready to close your browser.  Maybe you’re wondering WHY I would write about that?But chances are, at least one person reading this knows the kind of desperation I’m talking about – either your own eating disorder struggle or another demon you’ve faced. Those dark, shameful experiences you’d rather file away forever in the back of your mind, except they just never entirely go away, do they? You know the familiar, gnawing voice in the back of your spirit that tells you to “Just. Stop. Talking. Already!” No one wants to talk about the things that make them feel ashamed — the stories that linger in closets and under our beds, so to speak. No one likes to talk about their shame, and that is exactly the way shame thrives. It grows and festers when we don’t talk about the things that Brené Brown calls “the things that get in the way.”

In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, she writes, “I’d love to skip over the hard stuff, but it just doesn’t work. We don’t change, we don’t grow, and we don’t move forward without the work. If we  want to live a joyful, connected, and meaningful life, we must talk about things that get in the way…especially shame, fear, and vulnerability” (pages 35, 36).

So, it isn’t without reservation that I share this shameful bit of my personal history. It’s gross and I wonder what people will think of me. I wonder if it’s the kind of thing other people (better writers, “normal” people) would put in print, share with the world…But I choose to share it because I don’t want it in my shame memory banks anymore; I don’t want it festering in a dark corner, waiting to rear its head when it is triggered by something mundane.  I choose to bring it into the light for myself and for anyone else whom shame has convinced they can’t talk about those things that get in the way. Until we bring them up, drag them into the light, and release them, they’ll just keep getting in the way. Let’s take away their power today. Let’s move forward.