Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The State You Leave Your Bed...

Poem for the Start of a New Day


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The state you leave your bed

will reflect the state of your head.

So, make your bed and do your hair.

Do you hair and you’ll think fair.

 

To go even farther, I would say,

brush your teeth for a productive day.

To top it all off, eat your breakfast food.

Breakfast will put you in a good mood.
 
{Painting via Mary Borchers Art}

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
These little things that you can do,

will show yourself that you love you!


~Anonymous


{Photo Courtesy: Morning Sunrise on Plattner Pike, by Mary Borchers}
{Painting via Mary Borchers Art}

Monday, April 29, 2013

Body Image Booster

Body Image Booster: Tip to Improve Your Body Image (Started by Margarita Tartakovsky, author of the blog, Weightless, through PsychCentral)

This Monday, I would like to feature A Tip to Improve Your Body Image.  Of all the link-ups going on in the blogging world, “What I wore Sunday”, “7 Quick Takes Friday”, “Recipe Madness” – this particular one, “Body Image Booster” from Weightless, is my favorite!
 
I don’t know about you, but after the weekend, I often need an extra boost to re-energize my positive outlook to help me throughout the week.  If you have a tip you want to share, email me at craigmaryborchers at gmail dot com, and I will feature your idea in a future post!

(This post below was originally published at Weightless.  Click on the link here to see for yourself...I'm pretty proud of it. In case you missed it the first time around, go check it out)

Since I was a young girl, I have struggled to keep a positive body image. My journey to get where I am today included practicing about every kind of eating disorder, self-destructive behavior, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.

Fortunately, I have found help and healing through therapy and a solid support system.

Even though I have stopped the dangerous behaviors, I still have progress to make in the body image department. Daily, I am tempted to verbally beat myself up about my appearance, my accomplishments, or whatever flaw I can find.

Among other positive body image rituals — such as planting encouraging note cards around the house, or exercising to enhance my life instead of as a required punishment — I have found another beneficial habit that I have applied in my life.

Acknowledging one another as human beings.

I am guilty of passing people by on the street or in public places without so much as a smile. Because everyone else does it, I think it is OK.

In reality, after some thought and reflection, I think I ignore fellow human beings because I want to be invisible. I don’t want to be noticed because, first, I don’t think I deserve it, and, second, I am afraid of their judgments.

I have such a poor body image that I am afraid of another person acknowledging my body.

Will they see me how I see me? Will they affirm my worthlessness?

I am in the habit of minding my own business and living in my own world because of these underlying fears. Sometimes, I even wear my ear buds to pretend I am unavailable.

I know I am not the only one who acts this way. So many times we pass each other by hoping not to be noticed. Maybe we even hide from our friends, or other people we kind of know.

I think this common human characteristic is detrimental to our positive body image. Every time we ignore another person, or are ignored ourselves, we are affirming our beliefs; that we are not worthy, good, and deserving as we are.

This simple act of withholding to say hello is supporting your false belief that you are invisible. Not only are you confirming your fears, you are degrading the other person’s value as well.

After realizing what I was doing to myself and other people, I made an effort to acknowledge my fellow human beings when I had the opportunity.

You don’t have to be “that person” who pretends everyone is their best friend. Be yourself.  As you are passing someone on the street, a small, genuine smile and “Hi” goes a long way. Even if you aren’t in the mood, muster up as proper of a greeting as you can. Fake it ‘til you make it. This practice will not only affirm your self-worth, but it will put you in a better mood, too.

You are a person, not a ghost.

I’ve been doing this particular exercise for almost two months, and I have only had one person not acknowledge me back when I said hello. And I am not even sure if she heard me.

The reason acknowledging others helps to boost my body image is because, if I notice others and acknowledge their presence, I am noticed as well. If I affirm others as they are, then I am affirmed as I am.

Let us pay attention to our humanness, our value, our worth, and our dignity and respond appropriately even if that means going against the norm. I guarantee you will begin to enjoy a more nourishing life.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday: All You Can “Read” Buffet


Today I would like to take a break from my normal writing routine to give you a smorgasbord of tasty treats to sink your teeth into.  So pick up your knife, fork, and your reading glasses and get ready!
 
I am not the only blogger out there who writes about mental health.  In case you wanted more to read than what I have to offer, look below for some excellent articles.
 
Some of these bloggers can be found in my “Weblog Wonders” column if you would like future reference material.  I update the list from time to time as I discover more writers with incredible insight.  I guarantee you will enjoy reading their posts as much as you enjoy reading mine.

I found this article through “The Feeding Doctor” Blog.  In this piece, you will read a really good perspective that goes against the grain when it comes to children and mealtime.  Click here to read this post, titled, “What’s On Your Plate?”

A few weeks ago, I published a short snippet of what I thought “normal” or “healthy” eating meant to me.  I was inspired to write that post after reading this great article by Margarita Tartakovsky of the blog “Weightless”.  Click here to read, “What is Normal Eating?”

Click here to read “When the “healthy eating” message goes very, very wrong”. I know that the “healthism” trend is stemming from good intentions.  We want to take care of ourselves and we want our loved ones to be healthy too.  In this article, Carrie Arnold of ED Bites talks about how the healthy eating message can go too far and actually cause more harm than good.

Have you ever been with a young kid at Wal-Mart or other store and came across people who look different than you?  Do you find it difficult to explain to your kids about body types?  Click here to read “How to talk to kids about obesity”.

I love a good blog about taking care of yourself.  It is not self-centered, greedy, wrong, or morally sinful to take care of yourself.  I am putting this one out there especially for the young mothers who have a lot on their plate and often sacrifice time for themselves when things get crazy.

“There’s a social medicine study that shows that positive emotions are literally contagious. When one person in a circle of friends becomes healthier & happier, it creates a measurable ripple effect, extending through her friends, family and colleagues. The study confirms what we all (secretly) know to be true: When you take care of yourself & take responsibility for your happiness, everyone benefits.”

Click here to read the whole article.

I hope you enjoyed the reading feast.  Have a nourishing weekend!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Tip to Help Promote a Positive Body Image

{Ballerina via Mary Borchers Art}
Something that helps promote my positive body image is creativity.

I like starting with a blank sheet of paper, a clean canvas, a word document, a new ball of yarn, or an untouched recipe.

The process of creating is more fun and more fulfilling than the final product.

 
Remember: You don’t have to be artistically talented to be creative…

 
Creativity is about enjoying the expression of yourself.

Whether you are copying a master or inventing something out of nowhere, you are still producing unique, original art that you, and only you, are capable of creating.

Don’t deny the world your creations just because you don’t think you’re good enough!

And don’t deny yourself the wonderful experience of creativity just because of the artist stigma.

 
To cultivate your creativity try…

Showing up for 20 minutes a day.

Step 1: Set your kitchen timer for 20 minutes.

Step 2: Show up to your creative space and “be there” until the timer goes off.  Even if you are just standing in front of a blank canvas, even if you end up organizing your art supplies for the first week, even if you don’t finish your project in the time allotted, just show up for 20 minutes – no more, no less.

Step 3: Repeat daily.

 
Try it for a month…

I guarantee you will begin to enjoy a more nourishing life in the process!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Depression achieves its victory in isolation.

{Gaming, Austria}
If you could draw a picture of depression it would be a small prison cell in the middle of nowhere on a deserted island.

If depression was a person, he would be a tyrant leader who banishes you from the world.  Depression wants you to be alone and would do anything to separate you from other people.

Depression:
Makes you feel like you are not good enough to have friends…
Tells you that no one will understand or want to help you…
Tells you that your life is not worth living…
Makes you believe that your friends just spend time with you out of pity…
Tells you that all the good things in your life are just coincidence and you really don’t deserve any of it…

When you are outside looking in (have a loved one struggling with depression) it might be difficult to try to understand what is really going on.  It is helpful to realize that the person suffering from depression does not cause himself/herself to have the depression.  The isolation or loneliness that is a result of the depression doesn’t come from the person struggling from depression.  They are not choosing to be a victim.  They are not choosing to be alone.  Even though the illness makes the person feel like they did choose it for themselves.

Left alone, depression can cause a lot of damage.  However, depression is very treatable.  Depression treatment can be viewed like a tripod.  One leg of the tripod is counseling or therapy, one is medication or self-help methods, and, last but not least, is the support system or community.

Depression is highly beatable, especially in a community.  You see, depression is most effectively defeated when the suffering person has loved ones and friends he/she can depend on.  Since the nature of depression is isolation, one can combat its life-threatening symptoms with camaraderie.  Whether it is friends who also have depression or other friends who can still support you, there is strength in numbers.

Some people need one or two other friends to help them on their road to recovery.  And some people need hundreds.  In my personal experience, the more people I included in my support system the better off I was.  My depression was constantly looking for ways to rear its ugly head again.  I really have to be on guard.  If I am with someone who doesn't know about my struggles, I can easily slip into a downward spiral again.  So the more people I tell, the more I am able to heal.

Blogging has helped me tremendously in this department.  Through publishing my fears and struggles with mental illness on the web, I am, in a certain sense, telling everybody and anybody.  I don’t know who reads it and who doesn’t.  So, in my mind, it could be anyone.  This possibility helps me to be myself and focus on recovery 100% of the time no matter who I am with.  I can’t pretend to have it all together because I just wrote yesterday about how scared I am to let go of my eating disorder.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I could handle this transparency or not.  But, it turns out that it has been really good for me.
 
I am free.  I feel like I am allowed to be myself no matter where I am.

No more pretending.

This wonderfully liberating experience didn’t happen overnight.  It took me a long time to even open up to my closest friends and family members.

If you are trying to heal from mental illness, you might not be ready to tell the whole world yet.  And that is totally fine.  But if you want to, I say, go for it!  You are not alone.  So many people feel or have felt the way you do and want to help!  You are not alone.  You are never alone.  Do not believe the lies and despair mental illness can feed you.

Challenge of the day:  Make a support system list.  Write down all the people who can help you overcome your fears and struggles.  Write their phone numbers next to their names and put the list on your fridge.  You are never alone.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Just when I think I am done hiking, I have to climb another mountain...

{Smoky Mountains}
It’s been almost six months since I’ve completely stopped my eating disorder behaviors.

I’ve had a few small setbacks since last year, but nothing detrimental.

Hooray! Right?  …well, maybe…

I am having a minor identity crisis.  I just realized that I am not “good” at my eating disorder anymore.  I don’t think I could go back to the way I was even if I tried.

The food obsessions and eating disorder thoughts are still present in my mind.  And I am still tempted with negative self-talk and body-bashing.  However, if I gave into those thoughts and tried to follow through with the eating disorder behaviors, I would fail.  That's good! Right?

I kind of thought this breakthrough would make me happy.

The goal was to stop my eating disorder actions and slowly retrain my thoughts to cultivate a healthier lifestyle.  Considering all things, I seem to be on the right track.

Yet…

I am starting to panic.

I recently came to the conclusion that, without my eating disorder, I do not know who I am.

If I do not have an eating disorder, who am I?  I have to figure out what “being Mary” means apart from the twisted disorder that controlled my life for the past 12 years.  Until now, I never realized what a security blanket it was for me.  I truly believe that I used eating disorder behaviors to cope with my anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, it used to be such a big part of my life every-single-day.  Fortunately, I realize that I do not want it to be part of my life anymore, no matter how difficult it is to live without it.  I am starting to panic because I can no longer fall back on my security blanket anymore.  I am choosing not to do so.  But…It is going to be a lot harder than I thought.  I am not sure how to live without it long term.  Or, at least, I am not sure how to think about living without it.

I found a new hurdle in my recovery – a new stumbling block – I'm going to call it “letting go”.

Since I have not engaged in those dangerous eating disorder behaviors for such a long time now, I am losing my “skills”.  I hate to use the word “skill” because it implies that the behaviors are good, which they are NOT.  It’s more like “techniques” than skills.  In the delusional mind of someone struggling with an eating disorder, the methods are coveted; they take practice and a certain degree of skillfulness in order for the person to be “successful” at the eating disorder (being “successful” in an eating disorder is really being “unsuccessful” in life and health).

Nonetheless, I know that I am losing my “skills” and I am not good at my eating disorder behaviors anymore.  I am less obsessed with food, calories, and exercise.  And the medicine I am taking is helping keep my depression and anxiety at a manageable level.  I am actually making progress with healthy, intuitive eating.  I feel like I am making strides along the road to recovery…yet it scares me.  A lot.

I thought I would be happy.  I thought I would be excited to have had made so much progress.  But I realize that I had some pride attached to my eating disorder as well.  I am not good at it anymore…so what am I good at now?  I am tempted to hold onto that pride and try to be good at it again.  What is going to happen if I lose it for good?  I want to be able to turn to it for security whenever I need it…

I have to remind myself that I do not “need” it anymore.

I have better, healthier coping skills now.  I have less stress and less anxiety in my life to cause me to want to use the disordered behaviors.  I have more self-compassion and self-love.  And I have purpose and meaning in my life again.

This new fear is just another mountain to climb.  I could get comfortable where I am and choose not to go any farther.  “I’ve done enough.  I could stop here.”  No more mountains.  But, I bet the view from up there is gorgeous.  I want to see what it looks like during a sunrise.  Maybe there will be even more mountains in the distance.  Even though I am tired, I cannot stop now.  I will use my new-found knowledge and keep on going.

Pray for me.  I will pray for you.

Challenge of the day:  Put one foot in front of the other.  Repeat.  If I keep my eyes on the top of the mountain the whole time, I might stumble and fall.  One step at a time.  Yet, every once in a while, look at the end point and remember that it is worth it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Depression Epidemic

 
{Photo published on web here}
The number of reported mental illness cases has dramatically increased over the past 70 years.  And, the types of mental illness have exponentially increased in the past 30 years.  Click HERE or HERE to read more statistics.

Scientific advances have made it possible for us to understand what is going on in the brains of those affected with mental illness.  And the dawn of the information age has significantly contributed to the widespread knowledge of these illnesses.

Stigmas are being shattered and stereotypes are being smashed.

In the last century, did we figure out only how to name these illnesses?  Have they really been around forever?  Or, are we discovering new disorders?  Or are we finding problems where there aren't any problems?

Some mental illnesses, like depression, have staggering statistics and are spreading like a plague around the world.

I think that mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD, and eating disorders have been around for a while.  In his book, "A First Rate Madness", Nassir Ghaemi writes about famous historical figures who suffered from mental illnesses.  Ghaemi writes that twenty-five hundred years ago, Aristotle made the connection between creativity and mental illness and the link between "genius and madness".  Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill are also thought to have suffered from depression.  It is speculated, not proven whatsoever, that St. Catherine of Sienna lived with an eating disorder.

Even though it seems that these illnesses have been around for a while, I think the epidemic status is new.  For example: alcoholism, depression disorders, anxiety disorders, chemical dependency disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, and eating disorders are more common now than ever before.

The one thing that has been consistent since the fall of Adam and Eve, however, is the fact that there is suffering in the world.  No matter which time frame in history you focus on, you will find suffering among the people of faith.

God allows suffering in the world because through the suffering we grow closer to Him.  If there was no suffering, we would not be able to go to heaven.  Everyone must die in order to be with God.

Suffering is what you would call a necessary evil.

In the first world countries, you’d be hard-pressed to find a lot of physical suffering.  Today, we have so many luxuries.  Just look around you!  Our lives are full of modern conveniences that we take for granted every single day.  The chair you are sitting on, the shoes on your feet, the food in your cupboards...
 
We do not have to endure immense physically suffering on a daily basis in order to eat, sleep, support a family, or just to live.  We do not have to grow and harvest our own food if we don’t want to.  We do not have to sleep on beds of straw every night.  We do not have to go outside to go to the bathroom.  It is considered “fun” for some people (including me!) to sleep in a tent out in the wild with no running water and no electricity.  But you don’t have to go camping if you don’t what to.

Generally speaking for the United States, people live very comfortable lives.  We need not physically suffer in any way, shape, or form throughout our daily lives unless we go out of our way.

I believe that - because we no longer have to suffer physically in the ways we did a century ago - we suffer mental and emotional pain, instead.

God allows more mental illnesses in the world because we do not have physical suffering anymore.  God allows it because He knows that it will bring us closer to Him.  …Because only through suffering is eternal life possible.

Would I need God if I didn’t suffer from depression?  Would I think to turn to Him for help if my life was good?

Instead of cursing God for allowing bad things to happen, praise Him for giving opportunities to grow closer to Him.  You just have to change this little thing called perspective.

I believe that depression is my cross.  Depression is the path God choose for me.  Jesus embraced His cross before He carried it up the mountain.  I am to emulate His example.

I know that suffering from a mental illness is going to help me get closer to heaven.

During the time when depression kept me from doing anything, I thought that I was displeasing to God.  I thought that my body was a disgusting waste of space.  I thought, for sure, I wasn’t following His plan for my life.  It made me really sad to think about how disappointed Jesus was in me.

I kept begging God to make me better.  I prayed and prayed to be worthy of my life.  I told Jesus that if He was really there and if He really loved me, then He would heal me.

“My Child,” He said, “I am allowing you to suffer because I love you and I want you in Heaven with me someday.”

The only difference between a fallen tree and a bridge is perspective.

Friday, April 19, 2013

How diets can ruin your relationships

{Smoky Mountain National Park, By Craig Borchers}
A Dating Story

I met this great man and was immediately attracted to him.  Soon, he asked me on a date.  To make a long story short, I accepted after a few tries on his part.

This beginning is a predictable boy meets girl story – except for the fact that I struggle with an eating disorder.

Typically, a first date consists of going out to eat, which is exactly what we did.  I have a hard time eating in front of people, so I barely ate anything at that fancy restaurant.  After dinner, we went ice skating.  Because I was so nervous and so hungry, I barely remember what we talked about.

Fast forward several weeks; we’re official.

Commonly, dating revolves around food.  There are three meals a day, so if you want to spend time with someone, you are going to have to share at least one meal with them.  Also, meals and food enhance conversation.  A meal can take the pressure off an awkward situation by giving you something else to focus on.  It also gives you a neutral topic to talk about.  Food can bring back memories of the past and can initiate all kinds of discussions.  Food is so much more than we think.

In our early dating experience, I was often a party-pooper by vetoing the late night ice cream runs.  I avoided going on dates with him because I knew I would have to eat food that wasn’t on my “safe” list.  I avoided having dinner with his parents because, by Sunday night, I didn’t want to eat anything else that weekend.  I wouldn’t hang out with him unless I got my workout in for the day.  And, we rarely celebrated anything because I didn’t want to eat.

Needless to say, that kind of relationship could easily fizzle out.  Looking back, I was zero fun to be around.

At that point, I did not admit that I had a real eating problem.

I truly believed that I had to look a certain way in order to be loved.  I didn’t love myself the way I was, so how could anyone else love me?

My boyfriend (at the time), however, challenged me to face these questions and seek answers for my troubles.  Had I kept all my food/appearance concerns to myself and resisted help, the relationship might not have lasted very long.  But, he was patient, and I am eternally grateful.

Fast forward several years; we’re married!

As a result of facing my fears and my eating disorder, our relationship grew stronger.  I thought I had to be on a diet, had to be thin, in order to be loved.  I thought that I would never get married being the size I was.

In reality, being loved for the way I am – the size I am, with all my imperfections, flaws, and failures – is so much more meaningful than having to “change” to be loved.  It is an incredible feeling.  It is joy beyond all explanation.

Diet food is not fun.  It is often gross, restrictive, bland, or weird.  Dieting is not fun.  If you are on a diet, you will make different social choices than you would if you were not on a diet.  If you want to diet, in a certain sense, you have to be “mean” to yourself.  You have to believe that you are not good enough the way you are and that you need to change yourself in order to be happy.

I believe that food can nourish relationships.  Fitness and women’s magazines will tell you to avoid celebrating with food.  But, I think that celebrating your one-year anniversary with a nice dinner out is a wonderful thing to do.  I think that sharing in the excitement of hunger can bond people together.

Just think about how food can contribute to community.  Pot luck dinners, bring a snack to share, try my homemade cookies, stay for lunch, breakfast chats, parties, holidays, celebrations, birthday cake, etc.

Think about all the great things you would miss out on if you kept trying to avoid food or if you felt like you always had to be on a diet.

Disclaimer: Like most things, moderation is the key to success.  If you celebrate with special-fun-food every day, it ceases to be special, right?  Special turns into common.  Yet, if you never celebrate or eat special treats, you’re life will be quite dull.  You may argue that there are other ways to celebrate without incorporating food.  Yes, that is true, I’ll give you that.  However, food has a unique place in our lives and no other substance can replace it.  Even Jesus taught this lesson while He walked the earth.

Our Catholic faith is so cool.  Built into the church calendar there are times for fasting and times for feasting.  We are now in the Easter Season, which is a universal time to celebrate.  Catholics all over the world are celebrating Christ’s rising from the dead.  So you don’t have to feel religious guilt for eating dessert!  After Easter Sunday, Jesus appeared to the apostles and filled their hearts with peace.  One of the first things He did was eat with them!  He ate fish and honeycomb (Luke 24:41).  Do you think Jesus would do anything unintentional?  Why did He eat with His apostles?  Ponder that question this weekend as you are eating meals with your families.  …Just some light dinner conversation. J

Challenge of the Day:  Celebrate with your spouse/fiancĂ©/significant other this weekend by eating non-diet food.  Celebrate that you are together.  Celebrate that Jesus died and rose again so you may be happy in this life and supremely happy in the next!  Make a cake, drink some sparkling grape juice, go get milkshakes, or whatever!  Don’t let diets ruin your relationships.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How can I give?


Answers to yesterday’s challenge: rib, arm, leg, eye, ear, toe, gum, lip, jaw, and hip.
Did you get all 10 answers right?  If you got all 10 right, you get a prize!
You win (drum roll, please) The Cool Award!  There you go.  You are now cool…

OK, that was fun…moving on…

Today’s post is titled, “How can I give?”  A couple questions I often ask myself are, “how can I be someone’s friend, when all I do it take?  How can I give of myself when I am so empty?”

When a person is struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness it might seem impossible to take care of anyone else, a spouse, friends, family, children, etc.  In my darkest of times, I couldn’t even take care of myself.  I couldn’t eat, sleep, make good decisions, or function as a normal adult.  How could I possibly take care of anyone else?

Through it all, however, I still wanted to look out for my loved ones…because, well, I love them.  I am a caring person.  Since my relationships are of high importance to me, I feel responsible for keeping up with my end of the deal no matter how down in the dumps I am.

Everyone knows that relationships are a two way street.  However, most of the time these days, I feel like I have nothing to give – I feel like it’s a one-way interstate pointed in my direction.

When I am struggling with severe depression, I feel like all I can do is take, take, take.  Conclusively, I feel like I am taking too much.  Everyone has been so helpful and encouraging toward me and my illness.  When I was really sick last year, I was scared that, in the end, I would lose all my relationships.  I thought my friends would get tired of me.  I was afraid that I would end up alone.

When my depression is really bad, my feelings of emptiness take complete control over me.  If I have nothing inside, then I have nothing to give.  If I have nothing to give, then I cannot be a friend…I cannot love.  Seems to make logical sense, right?

This unfortunate dilemma is a result of, again, listening to my feelings rather than listening to reality.  Feeling like I have nothing to give is, well, just a feeling.  If I feel like I have nothing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I have nothing to give or I am not worthy of having friends.

This is where being Catholic really comes in handy.  (…that is a horribly severe understatement!)  The truths of the Catholic faith are the only thing that can get me through a time like this.

You see, just the mere fact of being alive is still participating in God’s plan.  So, even if I cannot do anything else besides lay on the couch and watch movies, I am still loving God and He is still loving me.  I might not feel like I have anything to give, but I have more than I think or more than I feel.

For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…

Jesus still loved and prayed for those who crucified Him on the cross.  He still gave them everything He had, although he receives nothing in return.

Because of Our Lord’s example, friendships and relationships can be given special graces.  Yes, it seems counter intuitive to love without being loved in return.  But because of His great sacrifice, Jesus elevated relationships to a higher, supernatural level.

I believe it is because of this great gift from God that my earthly relationships actually grew stronger as a result of my depression.  What?  Yeah, I never would have believed you if you told me that last year.

When you are open and honest about your burdens and struggles, you are free to be yourself.  You don’t have to pretend that everything is perfect anymore.  Because you are being authentic, your friends will get to know you better.  Also, they will be more inclined to share more honestly with you.  Thus, in conclusion, your friendships will be forged stronger.

I wish I could have realized this in high school when I was pretending to be perfect.  I realized that I desperately needed friends in my life.  I realized that I definitely couldn’t do it on my own.  What I didn’t realize, unfortunately, was that I didn’t have to be perfect.

Challenge of the Day:  When you are tempted to believe that you are not a good friend, spouse, sister, brother, daughter, son, mother, father, etc, remember that God makes up for everything you lack.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

You’ve got an Amazing Body!

{Photo taken by Craig Borchers, Isla Mujeres, Mexico}
Take the body by numbers CHALLENGE!  Name 10 body parts that have only three letters.  It’s tougher than you think.  (Check back tomorrow to find out the answers!)

“Whether you know it or not, you’ve got fantastic stats.”  This cute little quote and the above challenge were found on the back of a cereal box.

No, I have not run out of ideas to write about.  No, I do not get all my information from cereal companies.  And no, I have not gone crazy…well, ahem…never mind.

Most of the time, I avoid looking at boxes and other packaging because I cannot stop myself from looking at the nutritional information.  I am easily sucked into analyzing the calories, fat content, sugars, sodium, etc.

For some reason, when I was folding up this particular box to be recycled, I noticed an unusual article where there is normally a maze, puzzle, or some other dumb picture.  I almost didn’t look any further because the title, Your Body by Numbers, made me think it was going to be about weight, BMI, cholesterol, or whatever.

Nonetheless, I scanned the information and I liked what I saw.  Reading the article gave me enough hope in our world to continue on for another day.  I was so proud that I almost thought to get my phone and call to compliment the company on their choice of back-of-the-box-entertainment.

This is why I liked the composition:

Body Bashing is the most popular sport in our world today.  We analyze ourselves in front of mirrors, picking out every imaginary flaw and failure.  Countless times a day, we choose to reprimand our body for being inferior and lacking.  We give ourselves unrealistic standards and expectations.  We compare our bodies to other people’s bodies.  And we compare ourselves to fake, airbrushed models in magazines.  We negatively talk to ourselves and mental beat ourselves up every time we are unhappy with the way we look.  We might do this in an attempt to motivate ourselves to work out, to eat healthier, or to change the way we look.  Or, we body bash simply because we do not love ourselves for the way we are.

Would you talk to a loved one the same way you talk to yourself?  Would you not intervene if you heard someone speaking in the same way to speak to yourself?  Would you give the same standards to others that you give to yourself?  I would hope not.

Whether you believe it or not, your body is amazing!

*Did you know your heart beats about 100,000 times a day?

Thank you, heart, for pumping blood through my body at that ridiculous rate.  Thank you, heart, for keeping me alive.  Because I am alive, I can do so many wonderful things.

*You have 93,000 miles of nerves.  Did you know your fastest nerves send impulses at up to 395 feet/second at up to 300 impulses per second?  (Now I know why I am nervous and impulsive all the time!)

But if I didn’t have nerves or impulses, I wouldn’t be able to make any decisions.  At worst, I wouldn’t be able to love, or be a friend to anyone.  I also wouldn’t be able to feel nervous excitement before a big race.  I wouldn’t be able to be scared during a thunderstorm.  And riding a rollercoaster wouldn’t be that fun…although, I don’t like them anyway.

*Your body has more than 640 muscles.  What is your biggest muscle?  You’re sitting on it.

Yup, the next time you are analyzing your caboose in the mirror, remember that it is your largest muscle – and for good reason too!   It allows you to sit and it allows you to stand.  If you didn’t have a tuh-shee, you would have to spend your life in a wheelchair.  Without all the rest of those muscles, you wouldn’t be able to run, play with your kids, bake cookies, read a book, write a letter, ride a bike, kneel in church, sing, laugh, cry…

*You can recognize over 10,000 different scents with your sense of smell.  Your memory is most connected with your sense of smell than any other sense, including sight.

My favorite smell is incense at Mass.  I know that our parish priest uses different types of incense because sometimes it reminds me of Austria and sometimes it reminds me of my childhood.  I love the comforting feeling of smelling a home cooked meal.  And I love the smell of fresh cut grass.  Oh, and the smell of campfire on my clothes the next morning makes me smile…and then I do laundry.

Whether you believe it or not, your body is amazing.

When I am tempted to body bash, it is helpful to remember all the wonderful things my body can do.  When I look at my body with gratitude, I contently walk away from the mirror with a smile on my face.  If I look for the negative, I will find the negative.

If you look for the negative, you will find the negative too.  If you stand in front of the mirror with the intention of picking out your flaws, you will find them, no matter what you look like.  Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive.  Thank your body for all the amazing things it can do.

Without my body, I couldn’t:
Read a book
Watch a movie
Play the piano
Paint a picture
Plant a garden
Hold a baby
Go to mass
Drink a cup of coffee
Mow the lawn
Go swimming
Go shopping with my sisters
Take a walk with my husband
Ride a bike with a friend
Play at the park with my nieces and nephews
And so much more…

(Two) Challenges of the Day:  1) Do the word challenge above.  And 2) Instead of body bashing today, thank your body for all the amazing things it can do.  Your body is incredible.  Make a list of all the things you love to do and put it on your mirror to help you remember to be grateful.  You are beautiful.  You are loved.  You are worthy and deserving no matter what you look like.

*Information cited from “Honey Crunch and Oats”, Millville Cereal Company distributed by ALDI Inc., Batavia, IL.  (You don’t see that kind of footnote everyday!  I may have cited it wrong, but I couldn’t find how to cite a cereal box in my “All the Grammar You need to Know to be Successful in Life” reference book. J)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Until Jesus Says So..."


Who’s going to join me?

Summer is quickly approaching.  In the warm weather months of May, June, July, and August, girls (and boys too) are required to make decisions about modesty.  Because it’s hot outside, we wear less clothing than we do in the winter.  But just because it’s hot, doesn’t mean it’s OK to dress immodestly.

A few weeks ago, Leah Darrow came to the High School in my town and gave a talk to the students and whoever else wanted to join.  Leah spoke about her incredible life journey.  If you want to know more about her and her mission click HERE.

Part of Leah’s talk was about how important modesty and chastity is in her life.  This meant a lot coming from her, considering she used to be a model.

In the beginning of her conversion back to the Catholic faith, Leah expressed how difficult it was to embrace modesty.  She told of her struggles and about how giving up bikinis and other immodest summer clothing was the last thing to go.  She was convinced that it was the right thing to do but didn’t really know why.  Her “aha” moment came while at a beach party with her husband and their friends and spouses.  She was wearing one of her bikinis and she felt uncomfortable in front of her girl friend’s husbands.  She realized that she felt bad because she respected her friends and their husbands.  She loved them and would never want to cause them to sin.  Since we are called to respect all people and recognize their inherent dignity, why would that not include men we don’t know?  So after that enlightening day, Leah was committed to not wearing immodest swimwear.

Herein lies the dilemma.  She said she didn’t want to donate the articles of clothing and swimwear, because she didn’t want anyone else to commit sin by wearing it.  And she didn’t want to throw it all away, because, it’s still in good condition.  So her compromise was to put the articles in a box, tape it shut, and label it “Until Jesus says so…”  It’s a funny line, but it means that maybe we’ll live until the end of time.  And maybe we’ll have our glorified bodies and there will no longer be sin in the world.  And maybe then and only then we can wear whatever, including those swimsuits.

At first, I laughed at this project.  At the end of time, I highly doubt we are going to be concerned about what we wear.

Nonetheless, if it gets you to give up wearing bikinis, I think it is a good thing.

You see, I too had been holding onto my bikinis even though I had come to the conclusion that it was immodest to wear them.  I just couldn’t part with them.  I first laughed at Leah’s idea because I thought for sure I could pitch them.  But when it came down to it, I realize that I was still holding onto them and I just I couldn’t follow through with getting rid of them.  The only step I could live with was putting them in a box.  I taped it good and shut and labeled it, “Until Jesus says so”, like Leah suggested.  Who’s laughing now?  Not me…I am smiling because it worked!

Now, that was a lengthy introduction, but I still want to get to the point of this message and why I think it fits in well with trying to have a nourishing life.  You see, I think the message of modesty goes along perfectly with promoting a positive body image.

Why do girls dress provocatively or immodestly?  My guess is that they are, most likely, trying to get attention and affirmation from other people.  The attention doesn’t necessarily have to come from men.  We can receive a twisted form of pleasure from being envied by other women concerning the way we look.  If you are seeking to re-affirm your worth and dignity from other people concerning the way you look, you probably have low-self esteem and a negative body image.  If you are searching for fulfillment outside of yourself, then you are trying to make up for what is lacking on the inside.

Another piece of this puzzle has to do with weight.  Some people hang on to clothes that they want to fit into someday.  I’m guilty of this mistake as well.  However, the too-small-clothes in your closet will become a noose around your neck if you choose to hold onto them for vain reasons.  The longer the articles stay in the drawer untouched the more they will make you depressed.  Through the action of holding onto clothes, you are subconsciously telling yourself that you have to change your size or weight in order to be happy or in order to be loved.  If you have this philosophy, you will never be happy or satisfied with the way you look.

If you feel like you are pressured to look a certain way and are comparing yourself to others, you will be miserable.  The clothes you wear should enhance your confidence, not cause you anxiety.  Those skinny jeans you bought will only cause you to stress, not motivate you to exercise or to lose weight like Pintrest says.  If you have clothes in your closet that are too small or don’t fit, donate them to Goodwill, or have a garage sale or something.  If you can’t part with them, take them out of your room, put them in a box, label it “I am enough”, and hide them in the basement.

Reversely, if you wear clothes that fit and flatter you for the size you are, you will feel more confident.  Wearing clothes that are modest will also give you more self-esteem.  Because how you dress yourself, tells the world how you feel about yourself.  You will be treated with more dignity and respect by others around you if you dress modestly.

Dressing modestly shows yourself and others that you love yourself the way you are and you don’t need other people to tell you that you look hot in order to boost your self-esteem.  And just because you are a bigger size, doesn’t mean you cannot dress beautifully.  You don’t have to hide your body either, by wearing baggy clothes, or dressing “frumpy”.  On the flip side, covering up your body or hiding your body with clothes will also promote a negative body image.

It is not only good for your soul when you dress modestly, it is good for others too.  Speaking from a moral standpoint, you will not cause others to sin by lusting after you.  And you will be a good example to other girls to dress modestly.  By the small, simple action of dressing beautiful yet modestly, you will be creating a ripple of positive body image boosting.

Challenge of the Day:  Who’s going to join me?  Put your immodest summer clothes, your bikinis, and your clothes that you’re holding on to even if they don’t fit (you know the ones I’m talking about) in the garbage.  If you can’t do that yet, put them in a box, like Leah and I did, and tape it shut.  Label the box, “Until Jesus says so”, if you want.  It is a good reminder that dressing modestly will help us get closer to Jesus.  Try it!  It is worth it…You are worth it!  You don’t have to look a certain way to be loved.  You are good, deserving, and beautiful the way you are.