Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The power and beauty in saying YES

Yes, I will.  Yes, I can.  Yes.

I've been conducting a little experiment with myself in the last few weeks.  It's a challenge for me because I am an introvert by nature.  'Yes' is not my default  I weigh carefully how long it will take me to recover from any instances of 'putting myself out there' and whether the circumstances in my week allow time and space for that recovery

Some fantastic (and frankly fantastical) things have come out of the experiment.  For example, being interviewed as a 'Badass Woman of Tucson'.  I have a pretty healthy self esteem, but I never saw that coming.

As it turns out, saying yes is more than just a short term experiment for me.  The truth is, even though 'yes' is not my default... when I reflect on the many adventures I had in my life,  they all began because I said yes to something that was out of my comfort zone.  Lately, somehow I have been a little stingy with my yes.  Hence my experiment to re-open myself to all the joyful possibilities of life.

Today this video was shared in my Facebook feed by a friend.  If you've got 6 minutes, I've guarantee that it will inspire and open you to the power and beauty that comes when you say yes.  Let me introduce you to the girls and women of Camp Fury.  This is one of the Girl Scout programs of which I am most proud. This camp is led by the elite women in public service in our community.  Girls from all walks of life come together.  By the end of the week, the differences between them have completely disappeared.  In the video you'll see beautiful examples of saying 'yes, I can' and of sistering.  Let me share two examples from when I have visited camp that left me in tears.

One sweltering day, I was sitting in the shade of a fire truck watching the girls rappel on challenge day and I became aware of a small voice above me.  A girl was climbing the fire truck ladder as depicted in this video and she was saying 'I can't do this', 'I'm afraid' with every step she took.  Every single step.  'I can't do it'.  Step.  'I'm afraid'.  Another step.  Over and over.  She 'I can't'ed' herself all the way out to the end of that ladder.  She said yes, and she did it anyway.

And beautiful Kaylene- watch the video and you'll see her at the top of the wall preparing to rappel down.  She was terrified, and she said yes.  By the time she got to the bottom of the wall, all her squad mates (who had been at the top cheering her on), had run down 6 flights of steps to the bottom to receive her there.  You'll see that in the video too.  They completely surrounded her in a hug and they all stood there shaking and sobbing for about 4 minutes straight, never letting Kaylene go.  All of them crying.  And I sat there sobbing as I watched.

What in your life has been waiting for you to say yes?  Won't you take a page from these inspiring girls and do it.  Say yes.  Say yes to yourself and open to the possibilities that all of life has to offer you.  Beautiful things are meant for you.  Surprising things are meant for you.  Good things are meant for you.  Say yes.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Hi friends- please meet my guest blogger and my new friend, Holli Clausen Zehring... I think you'll love her as much as I already do!

I want to offer our community an invitation...

An invitation to not only find peace with your own body and self, but to find a way of living that provides a good model for our children, especially our young girls.

The path to this moment, to this opportunity to come together and engage in new conversations about health, beauty, and body image has been a long one, rooted in my own experiences and the organizations that have grown from them.

My mom will tell you that my own story is what planted the seed for Ophelia’s Place. I was diagnosed with an eating disorder when I was 17.  The eating disorder had taken over my life and left me zero understanding of who I was. My parents found an intensive program here in Arizona, and where I spent 4 1/2 months working on my nutrition, my view of who I am, my identity, and my family dynamics.

It was an incredible time of healing and it radically changed not only me, but my relationship with my mom. As we worked on the environment I was raised in, I talked about my mom and the relationship she had with her body and with food. I talked about all her food rules, like “If you eat standing up you lose weight,” or “Girl Scout cookies don’t count because it’s for a charity.”  I thought it was funny and completely normal. Turns out it may be normal, but it wasn’t funny.

When I told my mom, she was the topic of my therapy that day she was completely blown away and realized that maybe she also needed to look at how she talked about herself and her diet, and what she modeled for me. It was her “aha” moment. I don’t say any of this to place blame or to shame. It was considered “normal” in my family, like it is for so many other families today.

My mom was my biggest role model. As a child, I loved watching her get ready for work. I was in awe of her. I looked at her and saw strength, intelligence, and beauty. She saw cellulite, extra pounds, and wrinkles. None of those things real or imagined made any difference to me, it didn’t take away from who she was, but maybe obsessing about it did.

When I got home from treatment, my eating disorder got bad again. My behaviors came back quickly and my mom, concerned, asked me what was going on. I told her I need a place to be safe, to be heard, and to practice recovery in a inspiring and encouraging space. From that conversation, my mom, MaryEllen, founded Ophelia’s Place. For the last 15 years, they have been working tirelessly to redefine beauty in individuals, families, and communities impacted by eating disorders, disordered eating and body dissatisfaction.

When I was 19 I moved to Arizona and admired the work of Ophelia’s Place from afar. It was my dream to recreate it here. I got married, had 2 children, and saw my husband through medical school, while battling significant depression. As time passed my dream felt further and further away.
Yet, all those pieces actually brought me closer to it. Through these hardships, I continued to see the need. Women frantically working to change their bodies as if they were broken, so much talk about food and weight loss, and diets, and trendy workouts, all the while they were seeking something deeper. I started working on this about 2 years ago. We gathered women around a table, shared a delicious meal and asked “Do you see a need here for a new conversation about health, beauty, and body image?” There was a resounding YES! Every event since then has been filled with tears and pain, but also hope, choices, and transformations.

Hopefully, my daughter, Anna, won’t walk the same path that I did.
Already she demonstrates a great understanding of her body and ownership of the amazing things it can do. When she hears the kind of negative conversations about weight and body image, she finds them unusual enough to check in with me to explore their validity. She’s living what she learns at home.

Join us. Join us in a new conversation. Join us to define beauty on your terms. Join us to better understand what health means, based on your own body's needs. Join us to come back to who you are, instead of fighting for who you are told to be. Discover your gifts, discover your passions, your purpose. Because the world needs you, in your whole beautiful self.

Holli Clausen Zehring

You can find out more about the Circles of Change Conference in Phoenix March 17-18th, 2017 and get registered here!  I hope to see you there!