What WOMAN Means to Me – Pt. with Becca Schultz

Becca Shultz is an amazing soul, she is an inspiring presence and I am so very honored that she has written a post for this series! As an empowered WOMAN, Becca has now taken it upon herself to spread the powerful inspirations and ideations that she has been taught by women in her life. I came across Becca’s Instagram page, Becoming_Becca.Again_, and it blew me away, Becca is not only powering through Eating Disorder Recovery like a boss, but she is also busting through the feminist world and making it her own, while advocating for ALL! I hope you enjoy this incredibly depiction of what WOMAN means to Becca.

“Being a woman.” Where do I even begin? I hope I don’t jumble some of my words, I do struggle with self-confidence a lot.

For so long I never really thought about or pondered on the fact of what it truly means to be a woman, to encompass the feminine spirit.

Growing up in a society that has it’s set standards of what being a woman “really encompasses” has caused me to feel confused throughout the majority of my life, questioning where I stood in society, and if my role in society was important or not, and I know that many women feel the same way about this no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation, skin-color, or gender someone is or the sex they were assigned at birth, and the list goes on and on.

Ever since I entered recovery for my eating disorder and other mental and emotional illnesses, I really started to see the actual woman that I was, not the woman that society wanted or still wants me to be, and once I found my space in the community of self-love and intersectionality on Instagram, I actually found my voice, as they say, and that my voice actually does matter.

Crossing paths with so many inspirational and powerful women through Instagram and of course within the world in general (one of them being my bad ass mom!), I feel like I finally am using my voice, believing in the things that I BELIEVE IN, not what my family or others want me to believe. I am an intersectional feminist and it feels good to finally say it. I am so proud of myself in regards to the woman that I am becoming every day, and I thank all of those that have crossed paths with me showing me the way to who I am becoming.

I am more than my hair, my looks, and my legs. I am more than my body! I am an intersectional feminist that is learning every day…learning every day how to be a better citizen and woman to those around me. Taking action to derail patriarchal standards that have created unrealistic expectations that make me and so many around me feel inferior and not good enough.

I am so honored to have this opportunity to do a write up for this amazing blog. My hope is to continue to be the change in this world that needs to happen, to inspire my nieces and nephews and future children to keep fighting for what is right.

I want to give a special thank you and shout out to one of my biggest inspirations, Dana Suchow (@dothehotpants). Thank you for giving me the strength to start “being me unapologetically.”

-Becca Schultz

Soapy Self-Care – The Three Tiers of Self-Care

Self-care is a complex concept, similar to many of the topics that are discussed on this blog. I will break down this concept into three tiers as well as, provide an example of a multi-tiered practice of self-care that I use on a nightly basis!

 

 

 

 

 

1.Simplistic Self-Care is the purest tier of self-care and is also the most difficult to practice, in that it goes deeper than surface level. This level of self-care is introspective, it requires a level of self-compassion and self-awareness, it is allowing yourself to live in the grey, rather than a black and white world. For instance,

-Allowing yourself to feel multiple emotions at one time

-Feeling happy AND anxious AND regretful are all acceptable and rational feelings to have!

-Allowing yourself to cry when you are sad

-Allowing yourself to laugh and smile when you are happy

-Allowing yourself to eat when you are hungry

-Brining awareness to your fears and sitting in the discomfort of your emotions

-Having love and compassion for your flaws

-Taking care of your inner self and wellbeing

-Loving yourself for all of your flaws, inward, and outward

-Giving yourself the TIME to think and feel

-Doing what is best for you at a specific moment

-Calling to your needs

-Listening to your body and your emotional ques

Sometimes some cuddles with my pup is what I need for some introspection!

 

 

 

 

 

2.Luxury Self-Care is the second tier of self-care and it touches more on the surface, although it is is incredibly beneficial and important to your wellbeing! Taking care of yourself in a more tangible way is just as important as taking care of your emotional well-being, in that the two usually go hand in hand. For instance,

-Getting your heart pumping and endorphins flowing through a safe and healthy practice of exercise

-Aroma Therapy

-Having that glass of wine when you need to wind down

-Painting your nails

-Reading your favorite book

-Going for a walk after work

-Having your morning cup of coffee

-Snuggling with your loved one

-A ritual practice of yoga, and meditation

Getting your heart pumping doesn’t have to be strenuous or torturous! Do what is right for YOU, and that is self-care! Listen to your body…
Me post exercise, sweat, sunspots and all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.Self-Care For You is the third level of self-care, and it is when you allow others to take care of you, as we are constantly giving and providing for others. This is also considered luxury self-care, and is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the other two tiers, for instance,

-Getting a massage

-Having someone make you dinner

-Going on a date night

-Sharing your feelings with someone

-Getting your nails done

-Having a girls night

-Going out to the movies

-Going out to dinner

-Getting a babysitter

-Getting your hair done

With all of that being said here is one way that I am able to implement a multi-tiered practice of self-care on a nightly basis!

Mindful Face Washing:

As I look in the mirror I think about all of the stresses, anxieties, and annoyances that I experienced that day, I then decipher which ones I want to shed of. I chose those instances and stressors and wipe away my makeup, and with each wipe I clear away that stress. As I lather my face with face wash I think of all of the emotions that were fostered due to those stresses and as the suds gather so do my emotions. As I collect the warm water in my hands I think of the power of letting go, and with each splash of water I cleanse away those emotions. Once the water runs clear I diligently watch as each droplet of water goes down the drain, ridding of all stress and negative emotion from the day. I then look in the mirror and pat my face dry, and with that I confirm my gratitude’s from the day.

My Soapy Self-Care! I LOVE my Foreo-Luna!
A Good Robe Never Hurt Anyone!

Mindfully washing my face is just one way that I practice a multi-level of self-care! Try it tonight, and let me know how it works, and as always #selfcareitout!

 

 

What WOMAN Means To Me – Pt. 4 with Claire Mattingly

It’s that time again! I am so anxious for everyone to read this post, not just because it was authored by my sister, but also because Claire is a strong, empowering and amazing person. Claire is my younger sister, and she is truly what I hope to be like when I “grow up!” Enjoy!

To me, WOMAN does not refer to a single individual, nor simply myself, but a powerful patchwork, a sisterhood. This sisterhood is comprised of women who care for, listen to, and protect each other. My mom, my sisters, my friends, my guardians.

I am undoubtedly proud to be a woman, but society weighs on me because of it. I am constantly made aware of the lower position my gender affords me. I’m told, “you’re not like other girls, you’re cool,” and I’m expected to react to this attack on my sisterhood as if it’s a gift. I’m told, “don’t get so emotional,” when I’m simply expressing passion. I’m told, “not everything’s about feminism,” when I try to address blatant misogyny.

I’m told. I’m told. I’m told.

I don’t wish to tackle the patriarchy in this moment, but instead to honor the sisterhood. Because the best way to combat the above intrusions is to support each other as women. So often, we’re tempted to put one another down. It’s an impulse that stems from the societal teaching early on that other girls, and later, other women, are your competition. Competition for love, success, and happiness. As if it’s a zero-sum game. I reject that. We all need to reject that.

Women are my strength and inspiration. In my 21 years, I have seen how powerful we are together: The compassion, smarts, and joy we produce when we are in sync is, to put it lightly, kick ass. I want to take more time to nurture and appreciate that bond. I want to make a daily effort to hear each other, to defend each other, and to respect myself just as much. I hope you do too.

So to me, I will reiterate, woman means family.

-Claire Mattingly

“Have You Tried That Cleanse?!”…..#OverIt

“Oh are you doing the cleanse!?”

“Have you tried the Whole 30?”

“You eat carbs!?”

“Do you do clean eating?!”

These are all questions I have been asked in the past week. No, I am not ever offended by these questions, as I believe that people are usually doing their best to exist in this world, and trying to connect on a deeper level. Yet these questions are incredibly problematic, why you ask? Because the diet culture is rampant and oh so wrong! Yes, a cleanse is a diet! Yes, the term “eating clean” is a diet culture term. Yes, restriction of ANY food group is all due to the diet-crazed culture that we live in! Also please keep in mind I am not shamming anyone who has chosen the diet life, if anything I am bringing to light the reality in which we live!

These concepts, such as, cleansing the body, eating “whole” and “clean” foods, and restricting ESSENTIAL food groups such as carbs and gluten, are incredibly destructive  to the human mind! Words have so much power, and these terms and concepts put labels on our daily nourishment, it claims one food as BAD and another food as GOOD, it says that what we are doing is either “clean” or “dirty!”

(Pancakes are not and “indulgence” and donuts are not “dirty”….they are energy, they are FOOD!)

It is so important for us to educate ourselves and be aware of these words, questions and concepts that are being thrown at us on a daily basis! Such black and white terms cause us to feel self-hatred and self-resentment for purely nourishing our body, and this causes for a fear in food! And as you know I am all about #NoFearInFood

The weight loss industry is a BILLION dollar industry…I wonder why we haven’t cracked the code yet? If ANY diet or cleanse EVER worked it would be a ONE-dollar industry.

Diets do not work; they are incredibly problematic for our youth and detrimental to our emotional and mental well-being! They cause for us to lessen our self-worth, they create a culture that breeds self-loathing and no room for compassion.

As you can tell, I am incredibly passionate about this topic, and I will be touching on it a lot more, as it is the season for diets…(sigh)!

In the mean time, if you are for ANY reason want to start a cleanse or go on a diet check out this easy and DELICIOUS meal that is a natural anti-inflammatory and has those “cleansing” qualities. Keep in mind that when I use the word “cleansing” I use it very lightly, hence the quotations! The body naturally cleanses itself, you do not ever NEED a cleanse, especially if you are going to substitute the cleanse for a meal. Therefore if you feel the desire to “cleanse” take these tips instead! Avoid those fad diets!

This meal has a great balance of fat, grain, vegetable, and goodness! So skip the diet or cleanse and go with this stuff!

(This is a typical lunch for me, a balanced meal with not restriction.)

-A toasted bagel (whatever kind you fancy!)

-An avocado (how ever much you like!)

-A good sprinkle of turmeric and fresh cracked black pepper (powder turmeric mixed with black pepper is a natural anti-inflammatory, liquid turmeric is also a natural anti-inflammatory, so it’s really preference!)

-Topped with sliced cucumber and butter lettuce or spinach (yummy and crunchy vegetables)

-Always topped with olive oil and some garlic salt! Yummy and nutritious!

Stay tuned for more and don’t forget to self-care it out!

Bay State to Broad Collaboration – A New Take on More Than Just a Number

Bay State to Broad’s original post….

More Than Just a Number

I’m so excited to feature one of my sweetest friends on Bay State to Broad today!

Jayne grew up just outside of Chicago. I grew up just outside of Boston.

Jayne transferred schools after her freshman year to The College of Charleston. I transferred schools after my freshman year to The University of South Carolina.

Jayne and I both decided to study abroad in Florence, Italy. We were paired in an apartment together more than 4,000 miles from home.

After college, Jayne and I went in opposite directions. I went back to Massachusetts, while she made a cross-country journey to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Five years later, Jayne and I live just a few miles down the road from each other in charming Charleston, South Carolina.

Week three of friendship! Wine tasting excursion through the hills of Tuscany. (Hashtag babies.)

Jayne blogs over at Recovery Love and Care, a blog, website, and brand that helps those with Eating Disorders and their loved ones move through the journey of self-care, self-love, and recovery. She is working towards obtaining her graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and is planning on becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor.

While you may not think our blogs have much in common, she got me thinking about the idea of our lives being “more than just a number.” In the case of Eating Disorder recovery, this concept often equates back to weight, size, and body image. But numbers sneak their way into nearly every aspect of our lives, and we often think of them as defining factors of success, happiness, and worth.

Clothing size
Instagram likes
Social media followers
Bra size
Salary
Weight
How many people you’ve slept with
Age
GPA

Society – one that is edited, filtered, and oftentimes seen through a lens – uses the above numbers in an attempt to indicate our worth or to paint a surreal picture of “perfection” we feel obligated to strive for. How many times have you joked with your friends about deleting an Instagram photo if it didn’t receive enough likes? Or maybe you’ve let your salary, weight, or age – all very different things, mind you – define you . I know I have, probably more times than I can actually count.

Jayne is here to remind me that my self-worth, beauty, strength, and overall awesomeness is not defined by a number. More than a Number.

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!

Our “BUTS” are getting in the way…How AND Why to Live an “AND” Life!

After a long and grueling week at my second, and final Residency in Chicago I am feeling more grounded in not only my professional skills, but also my personal skills on a level higher than I ever imagined possible at this point within my life! I learned that despite my mental and emotional exhaustion, despite moments of self-doubt, and feelings of being invisible in the midst of an obvious power differential, I was able to trust the process, and come out even stronger because of it.

Within our lives we constantly cut ourselves short from growth and change, and we stay within a place of comfort by avoiding the unknown.

We “yes, BUT” ourselves through life, by excusing out of the box or adventurous ideas with “realism”, we nod our heads when in reality we are saying no, and with this we stunt our lives and we cut off chances for opportunities and growth.

It is possible to live a busy life AND take care of yourself….trust me I test this skill out every single day. There are times within our daily lives when we believe that there is no chance for rest, there is not time for self-care, and there is no possibility for quiet…. “It would be great for me to go for a walk this afternoon, BUT I have to write that paper” or “I could go back to school and pursue my dream job, BUT I will have to quit my job, and it just isn’t realistic” or “I am really hungry, BUT I ate a few hours ago, so I should hold off”….What are these “yes BUTS” doing to our lives!? They are stunting us, harming us, forcing us to stay in a negative space that will only cause for comfort, and comfort and growth cannot coexist. We must lean into our discomfort, in order to allow for any growth or change.

“Yes AND” can bring us to a place of change, growth, bliss, positivity, and possibility! This week, for instance, I learned that I can be tired, AND adventurous, I can be distraught AND find clarity, I can make meaningful connections with people AND connect with myself, I can want to give up AND persevere through! I can dislike someone AND respect them. I can LOVE others AND love myself. The “ANDS” within our daily lives are waiting for us, they are opportunities waiting to happen, they are shinning bright and we only dull them down every time we “BUT” our way through the day.

You can be in recovery, AND revert back to unhealthy behaviors AND learn and grow in the process!

You can loose hope AND power through the hard times!

You can trust the process of recovery AND hate the process of recovery!

You can eat that muffin for breakfast AND have that pizza for lunch!

You can struggle with self-love AND love yourself!

You can be happy AND be within recovery AND miss your ED AND want to get better!

How are you “BUTTING” yourself through life? How is this “BUT” affecting your happiness, and self-care? Once you bring awareness to your “BUTS” try implementing an “AND” into your day, see how it feels! I promise you will thank me!

 

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!

#NoFearInFood….What Does This Mean?

#NoFearinFood is another concept/statement/hash tag that you may see floating around the Internet and social media. This is a beautiful concept, yet one that is much more complicated than it seems, and one that affects almost every individual, eating disorder or no eating disorder.

#NoFearinFood, a simple statement riddled with a complicated message. What does this really mean?

Having no fear in consuming food in general

Having no fear in calories

Having no fear in a certain TYPE of food…despite allergies

-Gluten, meat, sugar, butter, dairy, bread, pasta, fat (just to name a few)!

Having no shame in eating food in general

Having no shame in consuming a high amount of calories

Having no shame in consuming a small amount of calories

Not imposing a greater sense of importance on food

Having no fearful  feelings after consuming food

Not imposing a sense of shame surrounding food in general

Not imposing a sense of shame surrounding a certain type of food

Not imposing a sense of guilt after consuming food

Having no fear in over eating food

Having no fear in binging food

Not using unhealthy behaviors after consuming food

Not having fearful feelings and a need to purge after consuming food

Not imposing restrictions on certain foods

Not imposing restrictions on eating at certain times during the day

Not working out for food

No dieting

#NoFearinFood is an incredibly complex concept, one that many struggle with on a day-to-day basis. The concept of food consumes us, especially when living with an eating disorder. #NoFearinFood is not just about ED life and ED Recovery, instead it is about obtaining a healthy relationship with food, in that food does not control us, it does not define who we are, instead it is fuel, it is nourishment, it is a necessity, yes it can be fun, but it is dependent of happiness!

One thing to keep in mind is to be easy on yourself, this concept is incredibly complicated, complex, strongly engrained, and intertwined within our lives. Therefore #NoFearinFood may be something to work towards, it is not something that will come instantaneously. It all starts with self-awareness, and self-love, no shame or guilt! Remember….

Food is fuel

Food is nourishment

Food is fun

Food is beautiful

Food is a necessity

Food does not define you

Five Ways to Celebrate Recovery!

In honor of Eating Disorder Awareness week below is a handful of ways to recognize and celebrate your own recovery, as well as, spread awareness!

Your recovery hero is first and foremost yourself, which is a beautiful achievement, but there are also other heroes within our life that helped us through our eating disorders, were the catalyst to recovery, or maybe just influenced self-awareness. Whether your recovery hero knows about their impact on you and your recovery or not, take the time to acknowledge them! Celebrate your hero! This can be intimidating at first so here are some ideas on ways to acknowledge that special someone in your recovery journey!

-Make a picture collage and post it on social media, send it to them, or frame it as a gift!

-Make a playlist that embodies the spirit behind your recovery journey

-Write a letter to your recovery hero and send it in the mail or read it to them out loud!

-Treat your recovery hero to an afternoon with you, show them love, respect and appreciation through vulnerability and friendship!

-Give your hero a hug, and just say thank you!

Social media, in particular Facebook and Instagram can be incredibly triggering for individuals within recovery, in that it is a digital world created upon filters, editing, #hashtags, and fabricated moments of someone’s life. Therefore, instead of allowing social media to take you down, create an account that can only lift you up and inspire you! Creating a recovery account is done with the intent to surround yourself with real, normal images, as opposed to the fabricated filtered images we see on a regular basis. Therefore, following inspirational, real, body positive accounts, and fellow ED veterans can be incredibly rewarding and normalize your social media world again! RecoveryLoveandCare is on Instagram, therefore start out with following us, and slowly navigate your way through the #bodypostive #bopo world!

Set aside at least twenty minutes every day this week to celebrate you! Self-care is the key to a successful recovery, therefore self care and self-love must be practiced on a daily basis! Self care doesn’t have to be time-consuming, it can be as simple as running yourself a hot bath, going for a walk in the morning, painting your nails in silence, or dancing in front of the mirror while you get ready for work in the morning! Therefore, this week try to condition yourself to practicing self-care, set aside twenty minutes a day for seven days, and just celebrate yourself!

This is a moment for true reflection and honesty. Are you truly at a point of recovery, and if so are you still in need of professional assistance? This is a question that is not meant to shame or pressure anyone, instead it is meant to challenge our self-awareness, because self-awareness is a major component within eating disorder recovery. No, recovery is not linear, but are you truly at the point in your recovery that you do not need professional assistance? In other words, intensive treatment may not be needed anymore, but the weekly or monthly check in with your helping professional, nutritionist or primary care doctor is always helpful, and has been proven to help individuals through their eating disorder! So if you or a loved one is in need of a little extra help within their recovery, bring some awareness to the topic and have an honest conversation about the overall recovery process.

Lets have a real conversation about Eating Disorders, no shame, no stigma, and no embarrassment, just truth. Sit down with a loved one, or maybe even a stranger and discuss what everyone else is afraid to talk about! Starting the conversation will take us one step closer to healing!