Tuesday, 21 October 2014

"Sh-Sh-Shake It Off: Ditch the Veil of Perfection and Become More Radically Awesome" (By: Maria Grasso)

Five years ago I ate an entire sandwich. 

Take sandwich, insert in mouth, chew, swallow, be satisfied.  Simple as that.

“Simple as that” isn’t so simple to some of us, though. 

I wish the process of recovery had really been that stripped down for me: eat food, girl.  It wasn’t, though, and from what I know of my fellow travelers’ journeys, it wasn’t and isn’t for them either. 

I don’t want to oversimplify a complex feat.  However, as I took that very last bite, I felt an easy sense of release…and it rocked my soul.    

I, like so many, used my ED as a means of achieving perfection.  In doing so, I became extremely predictable and kind of dull.  It was like I was in an epic battle for the almighty crown of boringness.  What I didn’t yet understand is that the more I deprived myself of what I needed to survive, the more I deprived the world of the girl it needed alive.

The world needs me (and you) to carry it into the future.  Our flaws and imperfections—the things that set us apart from others—are the very tools the world uses to grow and change.  See if we were all alike we’d be disposable.  The world breathes in our differences and uses them to shape the future.  Call me idealistic, but it’s true. Each of us, in our most authentic state, cause ripples of change.

Besides, perfection is boring.  My attempts at “perfection” stripped away the character and quirkiness that made me my awkwardly charming self.  One bite of the past and that feeling rushed back to me, that feeling of imperfection that gave me permission to be me. 

The more and more I embraced every fiber of my being and every experience of my life, the more radically awesome, interesting, and imperfect I became.  And yeah, I like to think we are all radically awesome, interesting, and most importantly imperfect.

The coolest part about life is that we create ourselves by what we subject ourselves to—the more you experience and absorb the more dynamic and interesting you become.  Remember: You are the summation of your life thus far and the future trajectory of your life to come.  Appreciate where you’ve been.  Prepare for where you are going. 

Sometimes our creepy little stalker, Fear, lurks in the corner of our minds reminding us that we should be afraid.  Fear is not looking out for you.  Fear is not protecting you. And fear certainly is NOT acting as a "sign", telling you to stand still or, even worse, to fall back.  Fear reminds you that things might go “wrong”…and things will go “wrong”. But the only way to protect your true self is to act despite your fear. You will change because of it. You will grow because of the change. 

As silly as it might sound, I was afraid to eat because it meant change.  My ED had become a veil of fear that I was so comfortable hiding under.  I couldn’t grow there, though.  I had to act despite my fear if I wanted to get my true self back. 

I don’t want to belittle the struggle of so many of us, but for me one small step towards who I was and what I craved gave me the feeling I needed to rediscover the self I had lost.

Don’t run away from any experience, emotion, and or event that brings to light your imperfections.  These are the threads of your being.  These are what weave you—awesome, interesting, exhilarating you—into the vibrant fabric that makes up this world.  The world needs me, the world needs you, beautifully imperfect you. 

About the Author

Maria Grasso has a passion for people and commitment to education.  In her youth, she served as a Youth Ambassador for a United Nations Association development program in both South Africa and Namibia where she assisted in school development and built water sanitation facilities and homes for rural families. After graduation, Maria moved to Houston, Texas to work in urban education and nonprofit administration at an innovative Houston high school for economically disadvantaged students, while completing her Master’s of Business Administration. Currently, she serves as Executive Director of a youth success program that exposes high school and college students to the proven systems and techniques, that when properly practiced, give students a 7-year head start on their career and life. Maria is an advocate for using your body for strength—and loves motivating friends and family to reach their goals and laugh along the way!

Posted on 10/21/2014 9:30 AM by Maria Grasso

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

"Becoming Me" (By: Jaime Nelson)
A funny thing happened the first time (for the second time) that I had mayonnaise on my sandwich, a donut, or a piece of pizza- I didn't die. I really didn't drop dead. Quite the opposite- I lived. And it made me wonder, why had I been denying myself for so many years the very thing that brought me life and joy. Because I thought I didn't deserve it? I'm not sure I'll ever know, I'm not here to get all psychological or depressing, but to celebrate that, whether my recovery was later than I'd like or not, the point is I overcame it and I can now see the other side.

I can see the beauty in food and in exercise, in sitting on the couch for the afternoon eating a bag of chips (even if they are baked or popped) or having a wine and cheese night with a good friend, without hating myself for it after. I can see things more clearly now.

The transformation was by no means overnight. It began by just learning healthy eating habits and reintroducing eating regularly to my body. This will never be a normal process for me because of all the years it was controlled by my mind instead of how my stomach and body felt, as I think it is for way too many women in our society.
But I'm getting there.
In my recovery, even after starting to eat a normal amount again, I realized food was still controlling my life. Although my body was healthier, I wasn't free from it. I was still obsessively counting each calorie, making sure I didn't go over, or under, a certain threshold. I still wasn't completely happy with food.  Happier, but not where I thought I could, should, or wanted, to be.

Luckily, the combination of moving to Nashville to pursue a lifelong musical dream, and then soon meeting a friend who would get me into long distance running, an exercise I have always loved because it was more fun than obsessive for me, helped mold me into a completely healthy person. Putting myself and my desires first in one area of my life helped me do that in other areas, including with food.  Running also helped me lose some weight in a healthy way that I probably didn't need, and was also an emotional outlet for me.

Growing up, around my senior year in high school, I remember enjoying lounging with my younger sister watching a movie and eating Christmas popcorn. It was the first time for me, but something she did regularly. I was sad that I had missed years of something so simple and enjoyable. The simple things I had missed while worrying about food and being as small and unnoticed as possible.

Now I thrive, I live and breathe (leathe I will call it :) on the beautiful and simple things in life.  They fill my mind, rather than how much I have or haven't had to eat today, and the number on a scale or on a tape measure. I am defined by other things. And these things give me so much happiness.   I can create songs and art, take beautiful pictures, and see amazing things, because I allowed myself a good breakfast that morning. And because I deserve to do these things, and so much more.

As do you.

Here's to full recovery. 

About the Author

Jaime is a local Nashville musician, pursuing a songwriting/singing career and moved here from Connecticut five years ago, and has loved every minute of being in this city.  She works with children as a support staff at a day home/preschool in East Nashville. She also work at a Steak restaurant as a bartender.  Jaime lives with her good friend who is a chef, and her 3 year old black Labrador (child:) in East Nashville where she dreams big dreams and tries to experience as much of life as possible. Jaime also loves to hike, travel and see the world as much as she can. 

Posted on 10/14/2014 9:55 AM by Jaime Nelson

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