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

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

Self-Care Giveaway! Recovery Love and Care & Celadon Massage

CALLING ALL LOCALS!!!! The lovely Joanna Gable, from Celadon Massage, and I have linked up and created an AMAZING give away for anyone who is within the Charleston, SC area!

Joanna is a local Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) here in Charleston. She runs her own practice with focus on local and organic products. Joanna believes in the power of the healing touch, the beauty of ALL bodies, as well as, the luxury of having another person take care of you. It is a wonderful thing to take care of others, and also to take care of yourself, but sometimes it is necessary for others to take care of you! Self-care is so incredibly important to live a healthy, happy and successful life, and sometimes that self-care needs to be LUXURIOUS! Therefore, we have come up with an AMAZING give away for all local Charlestonians! Check it out below!

The Give Away:
A completely complimentary 60 minute massage at Celadon Massage, with your choice of a complimentary add-on (see below)!
Add-ons include:
-Dry brushing: great for stimulation the lymph system and full-body exfoliation
-Hot Stone: heated stones applied during  the session to aid in relaxation and deeper relief, increases circulation
-Contrast therapy: Heat and cold applies to the body to increase muscle relaxation and decrease inflammation
-Extended Rest Time: 15 or 30m time on the table post massage to rest and fully enjoy the benefits of your massage before returning to the real world
-Feet Treet: honey/salt/coconut oil scrub applied to the feet along with heated towels and paraffin to exfoliate and hydrate the feet
Our promise:
– All massages include full hands on time (some places take time out of the session for undressing and such), pressure and techniques are always as needed for optimal comfort healing and relaxation, and aromatherapy diffusion is included!

-All fees included!

How to enter:

Go to Instagram and find this post, follow @RecoveryLoveandCare AND @Celadon.Massage and tag two local friends, and thats it! Remember, you MUST FOLLOW BOTH ACCOUNTS in order to be eligible for the give away!

For every extra local that you tag (two are required) you will be entered into the drawing again!

The giveaway will start on Wednesday May 10th and go until Wednesday May 17th, so make sure to enter!

The winner will be announced via Instagram on Thursday May 18th!

And don’t forget to #selfcareitout!

“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!

What WOMAN Means To Me Series – Pt. 3 With Gissell Reyes

Gissell Reyes is another dear friend of mine, fellow woman warrior, future colleague and fellow sister! I am overwhelmed by her beautiful depiction of WOMAN….go ahead and indulge yourself in this amazing illustration of What WOMAN means to Gissell….

Defining your womanhood is unique to yourself. This is one woman’s perspective on what it means to be a woman. Using this word to define the manner in which we keep our relationships with your loved ones and friends, what you give of yourself to those relationships, and how you maintain your balance with both.

Being a WOMAN in today’s society means many things but these definitions belong to society.

 

My definition is my own, just as your definition is wholly your own. When I think of my womanhood, I think of the relationships I maintain and my role in these relationships. Beyond my biology, I am a woman because I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a partner to my boyfriend. All of these relationships have a specific meaning that makes it unique to my idea of a woman.

I am a daughter, different than a son because women are closer to their families. Traditionally, we stay closer to home even as we build our own separate families. There is a saying about this: a son is a son until he gains a wife but a daughter is a daughter all her life.

I am a sister. I am loyal and protective and the keeper of memories. Sisterhood comes from a bond that is soul deep. It is formed through the sharing of adventures and of secrets and of life. To be a sister means to give of yourself for the betterment and wellbeing of your sister. You share your soul with your sister. While your children are your heart walking in the world outside your body, your sister is a piece of you doing the same thing. This is the same for people you chose to share a sisterhood with, your close friends that sub in when you don’t have a sister or are apart from them.

I am a partner. To be a girlfriend or a partner or a wife as a woman means you share yourself with another person. It means that you take care of the other person with compassion and support. To be a woman in a relationship you walk a fine line. You give of yourself without losing yourself. It takes balance and self-awareness to be a woman in a healthy, thriving relationship.

In reality, it takes balance to be a woman in general. In today’s society, women are told how to look, how to act, how to feel, it is more important than ever to find balance and be confident in your own identity. For me, what woman means to me goes beyond the superficial. It is, at its core, about how I maintain my relationships, about what I put into them. It becomes a part of the identity I create for myself. The goals I have and the achievements I accomplish are defining characteristics of the kind of person, the kind of human being I want to be. But what I put into my relationships is what woman means woman.

-Gissell Reyes

Take Up Space

In light of my new collaborative series, What WOMAN Means To me, as well as the social state in which women find themselves in on a daily basis I felt it would be beneficial to talk about the importance of community and this concept of taking up space.

During childhood and adolescence and in the absence of self-care we were taught, coached and trained to constantly compete against one another. We were taught that in order to win or to make it to the top we must be better than someone else, this competition and constant comparison breeds a feeling of confusion and a state of constant second guessing ourselves.

In addition to this competitive nature, women are taught, and told to be small, sweet, coy, kind, polite and caring. We were taught that in order to be a “good little girl” we must smile, stay sweet and take up AS LITTLE SPACE as possible. This concept of small has transcended into our adult years into our concept of woman hood.

In addition to the whole body image piece, how is this even possible or fair?! How can young girls be expected to thrive and grow while being told to do the exact opposite? How are young girls supposed to “win” in this competitive world, while also staying SMALL and quiet? It is quite the concept, and a ridiculous one at that!

Therefore within a world that breeds competition and comparison, young girls, and women have no fair chance, and with that we have learned to tear each other down. With society’s unrealistic standards, women now compete rather than connect, we compare rather than communicate, we tend to take each other down rather than lift each other up….but who is to blame us….we weren’t really given a chance to begin with! With all of that being said I say that it is about time that we stand up for one another! Why not TAKE UP AS MUCH SPACE as we possibly can, but in unison?! How about we put COMMUNITY before competition?!

As I continue to develop my brand, and network within the Charleston area, I am finding that this theme of community shines much brighter than that of competition! All of these incredibly successful, passionate, independent, creative and self-starting women build upon a sense of connection and empowerment rather than competition. We all take up space, and we embrace it! It is OKAY TO be LOUD, BOLD, COURAGEOUS, BIG, AND VIBRANT! I have been making beautiful and REAL CONNECTIONS  with amazing women with varying stories! Yes, we have ALL been told that we must be small in some way shape or form, but my goodness it is about time that we take up some space!

Why not have a girl gang that includes everyone, for ALL women, to lift each other up and thrive as a group?!

Take up space, be loud, be adventurous, be courageous, connect with others, lift others up, communicate, love and, as always, #SelfCareItOut!

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.

The Balance Between Self-Love, Self-Care and Self-Improvement – Feel Good Look Good Series

Above is a compilation of images that represent various stages within my personal recovery, love, and care journey. I changed within each of these moments, I desired growth ALONG WITH my deep appreciation and love for myself. I desired self-improvement while also practicing self-care, self-love, and self-compassion. There is a space for self-improvement within our self-love journeys, read more below to find out how to foster this space!

Within a world filled with weight loss tips, diet culture, and media manipulation we find ourselves lost within the shuffle. How can we practice self-care, self-love, and self-compassion within a world that keeps telling us to improve ourselves through a new diet, cream, hair product, or workout routine? This is a tough thing to do within today’s world, but it IS possible and OKAY to want to improve within certain aspects of your life, while also practicing self-love and self-compassion.

Trigger Warning! It is important to note, that these standards may not apply for individuals within the beginning of their Eating Disorder recovery, in that self-compassion and steps towards growth and change must be monitored closely, as certain things may be triggering to the process of recovery.

Self-love and self-compassion are finding peace within your body, within your present life, despite all external messages and stressors. Self-compassion is when an individual treats his/herself with kindness, understanding and support, it is an ideal response related to experiences of perceived failure, perceived inadequacy, self-judgment, and isolation. Therefore, it is important that we understand that self-love, self-compassion and happiness do not come from outside variables. A true state of happiness comes from inside.

Wanting to change and grow does not mean you don’t love yourself, it is the very opposite! Yes, loving yourself for what you are in the moment is crucial, in that numbers, products, appearances and compliments won’t and can’t make us happy…. and yes self love is finding compassion for you mind body and soul in the here and now… but wanting to improve is not a bad thing! Self-love, self-care and self-compassion are not black and white concepts! It looks different for everyone.

Again let me remind you that my message is anti- diet culture, so by no means am I promoting weight loss, diets or self demeaning behaviors, instead I am bringing to light that it is okay to want something different and better for your life! I have always been an advocate for first finding happiness within yourself, as you are, and then finding joy in other aspects of your life… because it is WONDERFUL to feel good and it is OK to look good too!! Therefore, skin care, makeup, hair products, and other self-care inspired activities are ways that make me feel good AND look good… they are my additive luxuries to my already present feeling of happy!

Wanting to feel good AND look good are only natural reactions and desires that we have, therefore, when practiced in a safe and manageable manner, we can successfully practice self-care, self-love and self-compassion, as well as, self-improvement. Therefore it is best to stay self-aware of our motivations behind the desire to self improve, in that if we are looking for a state of happiness we must re-evaluate WHY we  believe that a spa treatment, makeup product, or work out class will make is  happy, as this is not possible. Additive luxuries only ADD to our current states of happiness, they ADD to our self-care routine, our feelings of self-love and self-compassion. Therefore, check your motivations behind self-improvement in order to practice safely and successfully!

-Skin Care

-Make Up

-Workout classes

-Spa treatments

-Hair Styles

-Face Masks

-Lingerie

-Swim apparel

-Sun time

As this Feel Good Look Good Series continues, I will touch on these additive luxuries within my self-love, self-care and self-improvement! And as always Self Care It Out!

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!