A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation – Salty Hair, Tanned Skin, Sandy Bottoms, Soft Bellies and Smiles!

Oh Vacation….what an amazing and delightful concept! Some say that vacation is a state of mind, some say it’s important to make life your vacation, but I have a whole different outlook on this holiday from life. When I used to think of vacation, I would picture perfection…perfection in every way. The perfect views, the perfect food, the perfect swimsuits on perfectly tanned bodies, perfect memories to laugh perfectly at in the future. Picture perfect everything, a vacation from the imperfection that we call life, a vacation from busyness, ugliness, messiness, stress, hatred, and self loathing, a vacation from the shackles of my Eating Disorder. But in reality, these perfect expectations only tightened those shackles even more.

A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
White sand, and blue water!

But isn’t this how so many of us look at vacations, or holidays? We expect perfection, and once this ideal implodes so does our ability to adapt. The bathing suits, sandals and sarongs that we pack unfold into unrealistic expectations, stress, worry and imperfection, when in reality, a perfect vacation is imperfect….just like life! This past week was the first vacation that I have taken away from those perfection ridden expectations, it was the first vacation I took in the absence of my Eating Disorder and in the presence of self-compassion, self-forgiveness and imperfection….perfectly imperfect!

You may be wondering what I mean by a vacation free from my Eating Disorder…..and what I mean is this…

I wore a bikini on the beach with confidence and pride

I stood tall on my paddle board proud of my softer belly and stretch marks and cellulite

I didn’t work out, because I simply did not want to

I ate when I was hungry, and drank when I was “thirsty”

I stayed up late and laughed until I cried

I hopped on a paddle board and giggled every time I fell off…which was a lot

I made mistakes and held too high of expectations, and it was OKAY….my vacation did not implode

I cried until I laughed

I let go

AND….

When I returned home I did not kill myself at the gym, instead I went for a walk on the beach and nourished my body with food. I was gentle with myself…I eased myself into the reality of life.

A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
Shrimp all day every day!

The Trip

My parents took my two sisters and all of our significant others on a beautiful and luxurious trip to the Emerald Coast. This was one of the most special vacations I have ever been on. It was the first time our family has taken a trip together in about six years, with no agenda, no holidays, no weddings, just us. We played in the water, walked on the beach, drank lots of pina colodas, chardonnay and mojitos and ate amazing sea food, fried treats and fresh sweets, we laughed until we cried and we cried until we laughed….it was perfectly imperfect….!

I thought I was taking vacations the past twenty six years of my life….but it was never vacant from my Eating Disorder. Every vacation or trip I took was ridden with expectations, harsh judgement on how I looked and felt. My Eating Disorder put restrictions on not only what I could eat, and what my body could do, but also, what I could and could not wear, when, where and how I laughed, it consumed my every move, and nothing was ever perfect enough, imperfection was not an option, and therefore expectations were never met. Vacations were not vacant from stress instead they were filled with triggers and shame.

A Perfectly Imperfect Vacation
So much laughter this trip!

What Was Different This Time?

This past week, on the white beaches of the emerald coast, I was free from those shackles, I was free from my Eating Disorder, because I chose freedom, I chose recovery. Full recovery is possible, it is hard, it seems impossible, at times, it does not seem like a choice….but it is! With hard work, a treatment team, support and determination I chose to be free and to let go! I can now go on vacation, and wear a bikini, have a soft belly, eat and drink whatever I want and have no shame when I return home! I eat when I’m hungry, work out when I feel like moving, drink when I’m thirsty, sleep when I am tired, cry when I am sad, and laugh when I am happy! I have a bikini body by simply putting a bikini on my body! I have a beach body by simply having a body and going to the beach! I went on vacation by vacating my expectations, and perfections! I had a perfectly imperfect vacation…and it was imperfectly wonderful! I dare you to try approaching your next vacation or holiday with imperfection!

Read more about my tips and tricks while on the go here! 

And, as always, #SelfCareItOut!

Tips and Tricks to Conquer Re-Entry!

It’s already August 8th! Children, teenagers, and families are gearing up for back to school, football season is in the air, and before you know it we will be singing christmas carols! Okay…I may be getting ahead of myself, but you get it! With back to school, moving into dorms, end of summer vacations, upcoming long weekends and fall holidays comes so many wonderful things… new friends, cooler and crisper weather, giving love and thanks, and celebrating your loved ones! The onset of back to school, and fall bring about so many amazing things, joy, happiness, laughter, new memories….but certain anxieties, stressors and triggers are brought upon as well. Does this ring any bells?

Pphoto by Aneris Photography
Life is worth smiling for, licking your fingers for, life is worth it! So lets prepare to be prepared!

Whether you are heading back to college, grabbing a meal with an old friend, going to a weekend on the lake, seeing your long distance significant other, or just going to a family party, the realities of re-entry will always be there. Re-entry is incredibly anxiety provoking, and therefore quite triggering for anyone , especially those within ED Recovery. These get togethers are usually centered around food and conversation surrounding high stakes and anxiety provoking questions.(Therefore, incredibly triggering with Eating Disorder Recovery, or really, for anyone)! “What are you majoring in?” “Have you landed a job yet?” “Where are the kids going to school?” or sometimes the loaded and fabricated question of just, “How are things?”….because we all know, that most people don’t REALLY want to know how things are. This is completely in the absence of cynicism and negativity, instead it is in the presence of the realities behind re-entry.

Let’s pack our bags and manage our expectations within these triggering times! YOU can do it!

For instance, think about that time you came home from college, or visited your family from across the country…. there is this pressure to be the “adult you”, to be “the new professional you”, but there is also the expectation to fall into that old role of the daughter, sister, brother, son….not to mention the expectation to have “the best family weekend ever,” to “make amends with someone”, to “have it be like old times”….but in reality you are somewhat of a changed person. The “old you” is great, and beautiful, but also riddled with memories of living with your eating disorder, and using unhealthy behaviors. Therefore, this “simple” re-entry quickly turns into an overwhelming situation filled with toxic memories and unrealistic expectations…. because no matter how hard you try, you will not be the “old you,” and that’s how life is meant to work! It goes the same for going back to school or leaving home, in that re-entry is riddled with expectations and loaded questions.

One thing that is learned within recovery, is that recovery is sacred….health comes first….because without health there is no opportunity for life, for friends, for family, for fun! This is incredibly difficult for family members, and loved ones to understand…. because once you are away and gone, and once you “look” like you are “recovered” from you Eating Disorder, they EXPECT you to be “the old you,” have fun, without any worries or second thoughts! But when in recovery, especially during times of stress and vulnerability, your recovery comes first, your health comes first…because again, what do you have if you don’t have your health….if you don’t have a sense of care for yourself? Again, this is in the absence of cynicism, and negativity, there is no blame, fault or shame put on those that may struggle to understand! Instead, this is to shed light on the truths within recovery.

When in recovery, re-entry is all about managing these expectations, vulnerabilities and triggers first by acknowledgement, then by setting up a safe plan when in times of a triggering state. Therefore when you “re-enter” into any possible vulnerable situation it is important to have a few tips and tricks on hand to protect your recovery and maintain self-care…

Photo by Aneris Photography
YOU deserve to be free of these triggers and anxieties, and that can be done through managing your expectations and taking care of YOU!

This upcoming week my family will be taking one big lovely vacation! This is the first time EVER, that all five of us Mattingly’s will be together on a vacation with all of our significant others! This will be a wonderful, relaxing and MUCH needed trip  but no matter what, re-entry is somewhat anxiety provoking…therefore, these tips and tricks always come in handy!

Five Steps For Re-entry! 

  1. Be aware and Realistic: With re-entry comes so many false and unrealistic expectations, so be honest with yourself…. ask yourself a few questions…

Q: What are your personal expectations of this situation and re-entry as a whole?

Q: Are you worried about other people’s expectations?

Q: What are the reasons behind your personal expectations, as well as, the assumed expectations of others?

Q: Are any of those expectations unrealistic?

Q: What will happen if you do not meet any of those expectations?

Q: Are any of those expectations harmful to your recovery?

Once you answer these questions, I ask you to bring some light to your newfound reality, take some breaths and give yourself sometime to manage these expectations.

  1. Manage your expectations: Once you bring some reality and awareness to your expectations take some time to create some realistic, healthy and recovery safe expectations. Again you can ask yourself a few questions…

Q: How much reality can you bring to this re-entry?

Q: What expectations can you create for myself that are safe for my recovery?

Q: What anxieties arise when you create these expectations?

Q: What can you do to make these expectations safe and realistic?

  1. Have a support system on hand: This is incredibly important, especially when in the beginning stages of recovery. Many people will not understand the delicate nature of your recovery, therefore it is crucial to have someone to go to, lean on, and talk to, within re-entry/a vulnerable situation. This can be someone in person, or on the phone.
  1. Pack a travel sized comfort box: I have touched on the miracles of the “comfort box” within my self-care pages and posts. This is something that you go to whenever you feel vulnerable, after using behaviors, in place of using behaviors, and finding safety within your recovery. Therefore when in re-entry, bring along a travel comfort box. For instance, I used to bring nail polish, a travel journal, and headphones to listen to my music, and bath salts for stressful times. Self-Care, Self-Care, Self-Care!!!
  1. Be kind and gentle with yourself: It is only possible to manage your own personal expectations…. therefore, if for some reason you do not meet other people’s expectations IT IS OK!!! Remember, your recovery and health comes first…. and this may mean that you disappoint others; this may mean that you let others down, and that is okay! You have to be kind to yourself, and be okay with disappointing others, you have to be okay with failing other’s expectations, because in then end…. your recovery comes first! So be gentle with yourself, it will be okay!

So as we move into this season filled with cheer, vacations, and holiday breaks….bring some reality into the situation to control and manage your expectations, and care for yourself during re-entry by practicing self care!

For more posts like this click here, here and here!

And as always, #SelfCareItOut!

Recovery Love and Care Launch Week Recap!

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What a crazy couple of weeks it has been! I am feeling so many emotions! I feel grateful, humbled, empowered, inspired, driven, excited, enthusiastic, happy, thrilled, hopeful, tired, scared AND ready! (Remember, we MUST embrace those AND emotions, and I am certainly feeling a lot of them right now)!

It was a week filled with work, dedication, celebration and spreading awareness, and it was a major success! Together, we raised hundreds of dollars for Project HEAL, awareness on the truths and myths surrounding Eating Disorders, and body image, and had the best of times sipping on Onehope wine and enjoying delicious food with even better company! I cannot begin to thank my charitable partners, doners, family, friends, “crew” and all of the attendees who supported these events…it would not have been the same without YOU!

Recovery Love and Care
Onehope Wine towards Project HEAL!

Recovery Love and Care

Onehope wine was a smash!! If you don’t know already, Onehope Wine creates delightful wine that inspires others to indulge and do good! My two events were hosted by Onehope Wine, and within the next two weeks YOU can purchase this wine through this link, and 15% of the proceeds go directly to Project HEAL! Click here to check it out! 

At the Chicago event, over 50 people attended to learn a bit about Eating Disorders within our weight-loss and diet crazed culture, my personal story of recovery, as well as, support an AMAZING cause! It was incredibly fitting to have the launch party for Recovery Love and Care, LLC in the newly renovated backyard where I was raised! My family have been my support in so many ways, and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful night!

Recovery Love and Care
Recovery Love and Care Balloons!
So much to be excited for!
Recovery Love and Care
Sharing my Eating Disorder and recovery story!

The raffle prizes were all donated from local vendors in support of Eating Disorder Awareness…check a few of them out below!

Kendra Scott

Onehope Wine

 JAYNE Boutique (How fitting right)?!

The Tiny Tassel

The food was provided by the AMAZING Italian Restaurant in Western Springs, Devanti Enoteca!

 

The Charleston Grand Opening Event for Recovery Love and Care was also a major success! We had a more intimate setting of about 35 people! The space was provided by the one and only Studio Barre James Island, and let me tell you…did we have a blast! We sipped on Onehope Wine, ate Callie’s Biscuits, and charcuterie from Napa Mt. Pleasant, and shook the night away at the barre! The amazing Shannon was kind enough to donate her services and teach an amazing 6 minutes of thighs at the barre for the grand raffle prizes! Don’t forget, we shake and burn for the fun and joy of practicing barre! In no way was this a punishment, as it is crucial we are always honest and intentional with our motivations behind exercise! 

Recovery Love and Care
Shaking for charity!

Recovery Love and Care

Recovery Love and Care

 

 For the Charleston event, we also had a phenomenal line up for the raffle! Check some of the vendors out below!

The Tiny Tassel

Onehope Wine

Trish Mcevoy

Beauty Counter

Park and Madison

Katie Ashley – Living Life on Purpose

Katie Ashley – 75 minute coaching session

Napa Mt. Pleasant gift cards

Mylk Bar Nail Polish Trio

Silk Flower Crown From Fetes de Fleurs

Recovery Love and Care
My Crew minus a few!
Wearing my Oysters All Around necklace as a bracelet!
Recovery Love and Care
Flower Crown Winner!

And of course one of the coolest parts of the night was the hashtag table! Everyone made a personalized hashtag describing what they love most about themselves! It was empowering, challenging, and incredibly enlightening! Recovery Love and Care will be sending these hashtags over to Project HEAL along with the funds raised, to encourage hope and self-compassion for those in treatment and recovery!

Recovery Love and Care
#ILoveMy

Recovery Love and Care

Recovery Love and Care

Recovery Love and Care

Thanks for the balloons Cannonborough Collective! 

As Recovery Love and Care blossoms I look forward to connecting with new individuals, educating teachers, classrooms, fellow colleagues, helping professionals and families on the myths and truths behind Eating Disorders! We must start to peel away those blindfolds and look at Eating Disorders for what they really are! Partial proceeds from ALL of my events go towards Project HEAL, make sure to check out Recovery Love and Care’s partnership with the here!

I cannot wait to take you on this amazing journey with me! Recovery Love and Care is here for YOU, your loved one, your classroom, colleagues, family and friends, to help work through the sticky topics of Eating Disorders, body image, and just health in general! EVERYONE is worthy of loving themselves, and that is why Recovery Love and Care’s mission is to help women find self-compassion, self-love and body appreciation through the practice of self-care and Eating Disorder awareness!

In a few short weeks, I will be announcing some upcoming events…so stay tuned! And in the mean time make your own hashtag, what do YOU love about yourself?! Remember, self-compassion is for ALL! #SelfCareitOut! #ILoveMy