What WOMAN Means to Me – Series Kickoff!

This is a start to an extensive and beautiful collaborative series about what WOMAN means, as the concept of female and woman is unique to each and every individual. We will be hearing from women and men from all walks of life, all shapes and sizes, all colors, all cultures and backgrounds. So read on, and stay tuned!

Self-Awareness is such a crucial part of self-care, and self-love, as we can only truly find our self worth and state of happiness once we look at ourselves. We must ask ourselves questions that force us to delve deeper and peel back the layers to find awareness of our true beings; self-awareness helps us understand why and how we are important to the world…. because we are ALL so important, and so incredibly worthy! Self-awareness can start with some simple questions….

Who am I?

What makes me happy?

What do I appreciate about myself?

What do others appreciate about me?

What do I appreciate about others?

How do I perceive myself?

How do I perceive others?

What truly makes me happy?

What truly makes me proud?

So much of my identity is being a woman. My Mom and Dad raised three strong, independent, driven and compassionate women, and with that came a sense of pride! Within this world of oppression, inequality, gender norms and media manipulation it can be difficult to maintain that sense of pride, as others constantly try to tear it down. Therefore, I find that self-awareness towards what makes me a proud woman, and self-compassion within my pride of what being a woman encompasses, is truly self-care at its purest form! I am woman; this is what WOMAN means to me.

To kick off this series, I chose to incorporate a poem called “Where I am From”

WHERE I’M FROM

I am from American Girl, Disney Princesses, Hopscotch at recess and swimming in the summer.

I am from the outer banks of the concrete jungle, from the cozy suburbs, a neighborhood filled with privilege, the bustle of trains and gusts of wind; from squelching summers and freezing winters.

I am from the dandelion blowing in the spring air, the daisy and seashell in the sweet southern sun.

I am from a Christmas Eve’s watching White Christmas with Bing Crosby and strong women from the Irenes, Gorey Girls and Edwards.

I am from the anxiety-ridden tears, eating disorders and unconditional love for animals.

From being an “old soul” and overly sensitive.

I am from Methodist practicing Irish Catholics, from the shame brought upon by converting.

I’m from La Grange, IL, Irish and Italian Catholics, deep-dish pizza and bowls of popcorn and ice cream

From the time Kathie pulled her hamstring while doing the champagne splits the millennium being rung in with innocent cheer, sparkling grape juice and silly string and

Tess, and Claire brushing their teeth to NSYNC every morning before school despite the seven year age gap.

I am from underneath the Christmas tree, on the beaches of South Carolina, the strong trust of my parents, the intense bond with my sisters, the struggle of becoming a woman, the results of being a dancer, the middle child, the sensitive one, and most importantly the love and truth of family.

I am healthy, I am beautiful, I am recovered, I am in love, I am happy, I am strong, I am a WOMAN.

Be Your Own Advocate

Whether within recovery from poor self-image, people pleasing, lack of self worth, or an Eating Disorder, having a voice for yourself is crucial.

Advocacy is one of those things that doesn’t necessarily seem natural to us, in that we were never taught how to assert ourselves, promote ourselves and look out for the greater good of our souls. We grew up with parents, or guardians of some sort as our advocates, teachers, coaches, tutors, aids, peers, counselors, and even companies and government officials who speak on behalf of us. Within daily life, as an individual, the only advocate is yourself.

It takes courage, adjustment, and self-acceptance, but the moment you start to advocate for yourself, the moment you begin to look out for the greater good of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, the moment you talk on behalf of your soul, is when you will truly be advocating for yourself, and this is self care at its finest!

If you don’t advocate for your emotional well being who will?! No one. Because, you, and you only, are the one who knows your limitations, boundaries, feelings, emotions and state of wellbeing. The absence of advocacy calls for compliance, blurred boundaries, lack of care for one’s self, and pure exhaustion.

You cannot live a happy and fulfilling life if you are constantly filling up someone else’s cup from your own supply, because that will only run you dry, leaving other people underserved in the end. Think of yourself as a barista…. you cannot properly and sufficiently serve others if you haven’t had the chance to stock up the fridge, prep the machine, or serve yourself! You must be your own barista, and serve yourself first, before you can serve others.

I am a recovering people pleaser, and self-advocacy is something that I struggle with on a daily basis, and with constant practice and time I have greatly improved! For a very long time I surrounded myself with friends that required constant service, in that I had hardly any time, if at all, to serve myself, metaphorically speaking, they were overly caffeinated individuals, and being their barista, I was at fault. It took me to the point of a breakdown that I realized I needed to speak up for myself. When a friend asks to go out for drinks during a busy week with school and work, I can now practice self advocacy by saying “I cant tonight because I don’t have it in me, I love you but I can’t.” Or sometimes I even say, “Thank you for the offer but I just need to have some time with Sean/myself/family.” It is OKAY to serve yourself, to advocate for yourself, to be honest and possibly displease others!

Advocacy is crucial in so many areas of our lives…

In Eating Disorder Recovery…

-Advocate for support when needed

-Advocate for space when needed

-Advocate for trust

-Advocate for treatment when needed

-Advocate for nourishment when needed

With friends

-Advocate for space when needed

-Advocate for support when needed

-Advocate for closure when needed

-Advocate for your self-care

With Work

-Advocate for your time

-Advocate for your professional and personal boundaries

-Advocate for your gender rights

-Advocate for EQUAL pay

-Advocate for a raise

-Advocate for a promotion

-Advocate for security

With yourself

-Advocate for nourishment

-Advocate for sleep

-Advocate for luxury

-Advocate for health

-Advocate for wellbeing

-Advocate for happiness

-Advocate for recovery

Lets advocate for self-advocacy! God knows that someone needs to stand up for your wellbeing!

Trust The Process

My how time flies! I have officially been at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology as a Clinical Mental Counseling graduate student for nineteen months! I am currently embarking on my second, and last residency in Chicago, and there is finally a glimmer of practicing as a professional in the near future!

Residency week is filled with intense emotions, anxiety, professionalism, networking, and constant skills practice; it is truly an amazing experience although it requires intense focus, staying in the present, and trust. The program is all about “trusting the process”, we are constantly told to “trust the process”, and this truly doesn’t make any sense until you are within the process. I feel that this concept is parallel to life, in that when we truly live within the here and now, we must learn how to trust the process, no matter what that process may bring us at that time, as that is what the process is!

What if we went through life with only guidelines or the skeleton of a plan, truly lived within the present and ambitiously gave our full trust to the process of life? I wonder how this would look? Would we all find our meaning in life? Would we rid of the stresses of what could be, or what isn’t? Would we rid of the social implications of the “should” and “what ifs” within our lives?

As I embark upon this journey, and brand new process during my second Residency, so many emotions arise for me, and I am finding that the underlying theme is fear.

When I truly take a moment to reflect on these emotions I realize that this feeling of fear of the unknown is irrational, in that once I truly immerse myself into the process and into the present, the unknown will be no longer. Therefore, these thoughts of failure, imperfection, and the unknown are assumptions about the future. Once I embark on my present journey I notice that my true feelings are of content, curiosity, and calm, in that, while I sit here at a café at the Merchandise Mart I feel at peace within my present process.

Staying in the present doesn’t prevent us from feeling fearful, shameful, or saddened, instead it provides us with the opportunity to take our emotions as they come, and accept them as they are! Therefore, we experience, we learn, we change and we therefore grow! Trusting the process is not just a frame of mind but also a catalyst for growth!

Trusting the process is also trusting yourself, it is trusting others and trusting the concept of the present! The more we can allow ourselves to live within the here and now, and trust the process, the more we will grow into successful, happy and healthy human beings!

Whether it be that you are working through Eating Disorder Recovery, practicing self care, or just looking to live a life worth living, my advice to you is to TRUST THE PROCESS!

Trust the Process, and as always, Self Care it Out!

The Power of Patience

“We want things so badly – that job, that check, a relationship, a possession. We want our life to change…. We try to predict, circling dates on the calendar, asking questions…. we forget that we don’t hold the answers” – Melody Beattie

Patience, this is a concept that many individuals struggle within our society. We live in a society that constantly craves the here and now, the immediate results, and instant gratification. We want, need and desire the concept of that quick fix, in that the media sends us messages that we can achieve results in one week or one day, we are flooded with before and after photos, and the concept of immediacy within every aspect of our life! How are we supposed to achieve self-care, self-love, and a safe level of health in a world that doesn’t allow the time to heal and take care of ourselves? How can we truly change and grow with this pressing mindset in the absence of time, quality and patience?

We cannot grow, change, heal and achieve recovery within this quick fix world; therefore we must change our mindset and monitor our expectations, in that change and recovery does not occur within a rushed environment. Full Recovery IS POSSIBLE, but it only comes with hard work and patience, if it were easy no one would have an eating disorder, disordered eating, body image issues, lowered self worth, and lack of self care and self love!

Patience is crucial and necessary within recovery. Self-love, self-care, and a strong and positive sense of self-worth come with time. Everyone is worthy of time to heal, grow, change and recover, but it only comes with time.

Recovery takes time although a good bit of this time is tough, tumultuous and has moments that seem to stall the overall process of getting better. It gets worse before it gets better, it seems too hard, too exhausting, and seems that it takes too long, but Recovery and self-love IS WORTH IT and it is BEAUTIFUL!

Recovery only occurs when an individual wants to recover, when an individual feels worthy of recovery, when an individual is whiling to go through the motions, to feel uncomfortable in order to grow, and take the time to work through the process. Recovery is not an instant transformation on Instagram or Facebook, it is not a before and after photo, it is not suddenly having the ability to eat a burger and fries in the absence of shame, guilt, fear, or purging, it is painful, and just plain hard…but WITH TIME, recovery is truly beautiful and amazing!

Ask yourself this; do we expect our broken bones to heal without pain, discomfort, and time? Do we expect our strep throat to go away after just one dose of medicine? Do we expect our heartbreak to disappear after one good cry or rom-com? NO! Why is Eating disorder recovery, self-care and self-love any different? We have to allow for time, and patience.

Be patient with your process, you are no less of a person if your recovery takes longer than someone else’s. You are worthy of self-love, self-care and health!