Posted in life, wellness

Heal Thyself

About three years ago (toward the start of my H Pylori battle), I began researching herbs and natural remedies. I quit using over-the-counter medicines and prescription pills. For nearly any ailment a human (or pet!) can encounter, there’s a natural treatment. I have come to rely on herbs, tinctures, and teas instead of pills and syrups. And I feel so much better using them than I do chemical, synthetic remedies; my body feels cleaner and less toxic. I don’t want to come across as the kind of person who would push this decision on everyone (although that would be my ideal!). Coming to this decision was a conscious effort. It came about from being mindful of myself, my body, and what did and did not work for me. I became aware of how toxic and sluggish my body felt when ingesting prescription antibiotics and the like; I noticed how foggy and drained I would feel after using pain relievers and cold medicines. When I began to research natural alternatives, I found that I was I nowhere near the only person who has felt this way! And I knew, for me, this was the best decision to make. It wasn’t easy at first. Most of us (in the US anyway) are raised taking aspirin for pains and cough medicine for colds. It’s just what we do. We like the convenience of popping a pill, and our modern medical providers gladly prescribe them to us. I made the decision and the effort to transition to natural healing, and while I don’t regret it, like I said – I had to be willing to give up the idea of convenience. Let’s face it – researching herbs, collecting them, brewing them into a tea…not as convenient as slurping down a cap full of cold medicine. Grinding up roots, assembling them inside a capsule – not as quick as cracking open a pain reliever bottle. But the rewards, I feel, are far greater.

When I transitioned to this way of healing, I developed a greater sense of body mindfulness. I began to learn a patient respect for the process of healing. I am learning relationships with the plants, and not just a quick fix from a mass-produced product. I am learning that trust works in direct correlation with the trust I have in my own body to heal itself. And I don’t think I would ever have learned that if I continued in the ways I used to. Again, this may not be for everyone; I’m simply sharing my experience and why I feel natural treatment is so beneficial. Thee are many people out there who would frown upon this lifestyle – people who swear by their “traditional” ways. And I suppose that’s okay…for them. For me, I will continue the path that I knows works. I will continue to take comfort in the gifts the earth gives me for healing; and I will take pride in my growing, expanding little herbal apothecary shelf with its little brown jars with the wonky labels.

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Posted in life, self-discovery

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Wow! I knew I had been neglecting this blog for awhile, but hadn’t realized it is six months to the date today!

I could make excuses (“I’ve been busy,” “I didn’t know what to write about,” or even “I got bored with it”…), but I have to be brutally honest instead (have you ever known me to be anything else?):

I got scared. I mustered a lot of courage and vulnerability to post my previous post, and it scared me away. Maybe I’m not alone in this – vulnerability often sends me retreating back into the safety of myself. Courage allows me to be temporarily transparent, but then self-doubt and shame drive me back into hiding. I suppose that is a part of the learning process – or rather, UNlearning process of unlearning all the sneaky ways shame keeps me from fully sharing myself with the world. This is how we shine light into the corners of our shame, our stories that keep us stuck – we keep getting real with ourselves about the patterns we carry out, the thoughts we replay in our heads when no one else is around, the little lies we tell ourselves.

I thought I was brave enough to post something really vulnerable and be okay with it. And I was. Retreating doesn’t negate that. But the consequence was different than I imagined. It led me here, six months down the road, making yet another realization about the deceitfulness of shame and vulnerability. It led me to another understanding that I have not failed because I stepped away, but rather I am succeeding in facing my truth and stepping back into my journey of owning my authenticity.

They say “fake it til you make it”…maybe the goal is actually to “Face it til you make it” –Keep coming back to your truth until the hesitation recedes.

Posted in Eating Disorder, food, life, self-discovery, wellness

Enough is a Feast

I started writing this back in November, intending it as a Thanksgiving-related post. I lost my nerve then (hello, shame). I revisited it today with resolve and I present it to you now – courage steeling my spine and a desire for freedom (yours and my own) in my throat…

“‘Enough’ is a feast” (Buddhist proverb)

Truth be told, I live in a nearly-constant state of worry over whether I have enough – money, mostly. Food, frequently. I grew up poor, often wondering if we were going to have enough to eat. We scraped by. We ate what we had, whether it was what we wanted or not. One of the most vivid memories of lack I have from childhood is sitting at the dinner table with my family, our last meal on the table: one pot of kidney beans and one bowl of plain macaroni – for seven hungry people. I don’t remember the conversation; I don’t remember if anyone spoke much at all. But I remember the blandness in my mouth (metallic kidney beans and butterless noodles) and the fear, heavy in the air. Even at the age of six, I was aware that this could truly be our last meal; those beans and noodles were literally the last items in our pantry, and there was no hope in sight. I’d love to say this was the only time I experienced that kind of lack; sadly, there were numerous other times that echoed this one. I grew up thinking I was worthless because there was never enough (I must not be enough”). Though not impossible, it’s a hard feeling to shake, once it’s been engrained. When you live for nearly two decades being afraid of whether your basic necessities will be met, it is difficult to convince yourself you are safe and fulfilled. I struggle everyday to remind myself I have enough…I do enough…I am enough…

My whole life, I’ve struggled to balance the desire for more and the knowledge that I only need enough to survive. But what IS enough? Sometimes I wonder if I just settle, never truly believing I am worth more – fearing I may be branded as ungrateful or greedy. When I was a kid, my dad would sometimes respond to our complaints of hunger with: “Have a glass of water and tighten your belt.” If we complained about what we did have to eat, he would say: “It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye!” None of these sayings made sense to the mind of a hungry child, and did nothing more than to reinforce a belief of worthlessness. No matter what I buy, I monologue in my mind whether I “really need it” or I’m just being excessive. I feel like I never know what I truly need or deserve, because I lived so long never getting what I needed, deserved, or (god forbid) wanted.

I am thirty-seven years old, standing in my kitchen today, making myself kidney beans as part of my meal. Not because I can’t afford anything else, but because I am currently limited by dietary restrictions and an unhealthy digestive system. It’s hard not to feel the slow creep of shame in the pit of my stomach upon seeing those shiny red beans on my plate. It’s no stretch of the mind to see how my hungry childhood, years of bulimia, and current gut sickness are all intertwined.  One of the greatest breakthroughs I made in the earlier years of my eating disorder treatment was the realization that through bingeing and purging I was, for the first time in my life, the one controlling what and how much I ate. At some point, I quit bingeing and purging, but I didn’t learn to process the emotions I had cyclically stuffed and emptied for years. Even once I had “recovered,” whenever I ate, I ate my sadness, shame, and anger along with the food – and it fermented and decayed inside me and made me sick.

When I cook this food I know will help heal my body, I am taking control in a different way. And when I change the narrative in my head, I am taking control. The difference between childhood and today, is that what I have really is enough. My basic needs are met. I live in a home my husband and I own, its rooms are warm, and the lights and water are always available. The food I eat may not be what my taste buds crave right now, but it is what I need to be well; I have enough and exactly what I need to feed a healing body… And I have enough and exactly what I need within me to heal myself emotionally. I can choose to feed myself garbage (“I am worthless,” “I am nothing,” “I don’t deserve anything good”…) or I can feed myself the medicine of truth.

Truth says: I have enough…I do enough…I AM enough. I am worthy of being here in this skin. I am worthy of being on this planet. My words and my talents are the gifts I give the world and myself. Maybe at least for now, at this point in my journey, that really is enough. To know that I matter, and my words of truth will fill my belly.

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.

 

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!

24. Trust your gut: We all have that “little voice” that encourages us to do things: compliment someone, call a friend we haven’t spoken to for awhile, checking the stove, etc. Sometimes heeding that voice amounts to nothing; but sometimes, it leads to something much bigger. That little voice is within us to keep us walking our true path and to make a difference in the world. The more you practice following it, the louder/stronger it will get.

25. Sacred space: Create or honor sacred space. If you can, dedicate an area in your home (a corner, a small table, an altar, etc) that is devoted to your spiritual connection with your Source. This could be filled with candles, crystals, etc; it may be where you meditate or pray. If you can’t make space in your home, utilize natural spaces like a wooded area or near the river – any place that allows you to connect with your core self and your higher power for a period of time in peace and stillness.

26. Rest: Know your limits – physically and emotionally. We live in a culture of busyness – we praise being busy and constantly being on the go, but the truth is our bodies need rest. We need periods of quiet to recharge our bodies and minds. Set boundaries around your time and space when you need a nap or a break from certain people or situations.

27. Disconnect: from devices! Excessive screen time has been proven to cause health problems (eye strain, metabolic effects, sleep interference) and keeps us disconnected from the people and world around us. Try to cut back on how much time you spend on electronic devices – read a book, get outside, do something with your hands! – engage in the Real World.

28. Be YOU: In the words of the great Dr. Suess:
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” There really is only one YOU on this planet, and you are here for a reason. Light your light shine in the way only you can!

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