Tag Archives: women

words to live by: demi lovato.

A couple years ago, while discussing popular music and culture, a girl in our youth group said something to my husband that, upon his retelling of it, left me dumbfounded. It was something along the lines of, “Demi Lovato is a bad person because she’s in rehab.”

If I would have been around, I would have lost it. I would have said something horrible like, “People like you are the reason that people like Demi Lovato hate themselves.”

Then I would have launched into some sort of theological diatribe about how, technically, we’re all in rehab for SOMETHING and that realizing that you need and want help for your problems should be celebrated and not condemned.

Maybe that’s why I’m not in youth ministry anymore.

But I digress.

Last night I gave in to Cosmo’s temptation and purchased their August issue simply because it has Demi on the cover. It also promised a “shocking” interview with her which… eh.

Shocking probably isn’t the right word. Anyone who has followed Demi’s story (like myself) won’t be shocked. But there was one paragraph that made me stop and mentally high five her.

[Sorry. There's a bit of profanity.]

demi_lovato_cosmo_quote

 

Underlined emphasis mine.

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Filed under words to live by

naked and unashamed.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you might know that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2007 and have since made it my mission to figure out how to love myself — inside and out — relentlessly. My blog has been instrumental on this journey. I’ve blogged my way through all sorts of self-love hangups, from navigating self-imposed pressures to be the perfect wife to finding my sexy.

I’m thankful to report that, in the past year, I haven’t had many reasons to turn to Ye Olde Blogue in order to make myself feel better about my self or my body. With God’s help (along with the assistance of my sweet husband and faithful mentors) I think that it’s safe to say that I’ve finally made peace with my own body and any chance of ED relapse is behind me.

However, regardless of my own personal growth, a recent chain of unsettling events has made me realize that this world is still, if I may be so bold as to say, effed sideways concerning the ways we women view ourselves:

+ My mom hasn’t had a nice picture of her taken in a while, so a few weeks ago she requested that I take one of her with my SLR. As soon as I was done she pleaded with me to Photoshop away some lines from her face.

+ During prayer requests at my bible study a week ago, a girl asked for a way for her to use her body to get ahead in life.

+ There are hundreds of leaders (male, of course) in the church community that have come out recently speaking against women for what they wear for being the cause of men to lust after them and even cheat on their wives. (Yes, read that again. The women are at fault for the men who cheat.)

+ Someone told me that of course I’m happy with my body because I’m beautiful. And there’s no way they can be happy because they’re not.

You know me — I can’t just sit back and not blog about how much these events (particularly the last one) infuriate me.

I’m currently fumbling my way through the book of Esther and trying to make sense of it; a story about a Jew girl who was integral to saving God’s chosen people because, quite frankly, some batshit crazy pseudo-king thought she was hot and, for that reason alone, wanted to “know” her. (This is, of course, the New Lindsay Translation of the story. I suggest you read it for your own context, even if you aren’t a believer.)

The other day, I hopped in the shower ever-so-quickly while my son was napping and gave myself the New-Mom-Speedy-Scrubdown, my ears tuned to the static sounds coming from the baby monitor in my bedroom. When I finished actually washing and found that, surprisingly, my child was still asleep, I stood very still and watched the streams of water race each other down my body.

For a while, I just stared blankly, sure my child would rouse any minute. But each second that passed with no sounds from the monitor, I would turn the COLD knob just a bit more toward the OFF position to allow the stream to increase in heat. As soon as my skin adjusted to the temperature change, I’d turn the knob just a little bit more.

I did this until the COLD knob was completely off and, though the water was scalding, my skin was comfortable (albeit considerably more pink).

Under the stream, my eyes surveyed my exterior and — as bizarre as it sounds — I marveled. I couldn’t believe that this vessel at which I was staring had done so much in its 27 years of life — danced its 10,000 hours, learned scales on the piano, grew and sustained another human life — and, yet, took the brunt of my own abuse for the better part of two decades. And then I thought about Esther.

And my mom.

And that girl from my bible study.

And men who blame their missteps on their victims.

And all the girls in this society that think their bodies are as deep as their worth goes.

And I got mad. Like. Really mad.

I think the main reason I got so mad is because I feel like I can’t do anything. I’m just one person in this giant effed up world and, as these recent events have pointed out, this issue is much bigger than me.

I said what I could say in bible study in order to encourage that girl. Ultimately I don’t know if anything I said made one bit of difference; I left feeling like something had been stolen from me. Perhaps that something was the notion that this problem is suddenly gone just because I’m not suffering from it anymore.

You know that played-out Goo Goo Dolls song from the 90s? You know, from the City of Angels soundtrack? Meg Ryan and that other dude? I can’t remember the name of it, but there is one line that sticks out to me:

“And you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

I think these events have served their purpose to cut me open and remind me that there is still work left to be done and that lots of people are still bleeding. And we’ve got to speak the truth to those people.

Because God knows no one else is going to.

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Filed under God, life, psychology, rants, the media, transformation

so, you want to breastfeed but you work outside the home full time…

[DISCLAIMER #1:] This post talks a lot about my boobs. That’s how you breastfeed, by the way. With your boobs. If you’re not interested in boobs, or breastfeeding, let me direct you elsewhere on the Internet.

[DISCLAIMER #2:] Before I start this post, let me just say that I am not taking part in the “Mommy Wars”. So don’t think I’m posting this because I think if you don’t breastfeed your kid you’re the worst. This is just a choice my husband and I made for my son based on our own personal convictions. As long as you choose to feed your kid somehow, I don’t care how you do it. With your boobs, formula, cow’s milk, goat’s milk, whatever. Just so we’re clear, here. Feed your kid however you want, okay? This is America and #YOLO.

[DISCLAIMER #3:] Sorry about the #YOLO.

Okay. Now that THAT’S out of the way…

Before Dax was born, Dan and I decided that we were going to try to exclusively breastfeed him, my body permitting. When I was on maternity leave, we found that, yes, my body was into the idea as well. (Mind you, it did take us about three weeks to get latching down without blood, sweat, or tears, but we did it.) So when Dax was eight weeks old and I went back to work full time, our breastfeeding rhythm changed a bit which made things a little more challenging. But it wasn’t impossible.

Dax is nine months old now and Friday is my last day working full time outside of the home. We did it! We’ve exclusively breastfed and have never once had to supplement with formula! (It’s going to take everything I have to not go completely Office Space on my breast pump, you guys.)

nursing

 

(The above photo is me nursing in the middle of a crowded Starbucks sitting across from three old men. Dax needed to eat and it was too hot to sit in my car and it’s gross to nurse in a bathroom.)

If you’d like to EBF your babes and also work full time outside the home, here is how I did it. Hopefully this will help!

TIPS ON BREASTFEEDING WHEN YOU WORK FULL TIME:

1. Start pumping early. I didn’t do this and regretted it later. Breast milk is produced on a supply and demand basis. What your baby demands, your body supplies. In the beginning, when your baby is a newborn, your body is still figuring out what your baby’s demand is, so you typically have way more milk. After a few weeks of nursing exclusively (which gives your nipples time to toughen up and stop hurting) pump a little each day to both increase your supply and build a stash in your freezer. [HINT: Remember the rule of FOURS. Breast milk lasts four HOURS at room temperature, four DAYS in the fridge, and four MONTHS in your freezer.]

2. Know that what you pump does NOT indicate how much milk you’re actually producing. Your body was created to feed a person, not a machine. So don’t think you have zero milk in your body if you only can get out a few ounces at a time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pumped for fifteen minutes and not gotten a single drop and then turned around and nursed Dax, only to see him gulping and slurping so much that milk was dribbling out of his mouth.

3. Weigh/Feed/Weigh. Both at my breastfeeding support group and at a health food store in town, there is a baby scale that can help determine how much milk Dax takes from me when he eats. You weigh your baby, then nurse him, then weigh him again to find out how many ounces he eats. This helps me determine how much milk to leave him while I’m gone and how much milk I need to pump at work. I typically do this once every week or two to make sure we’re still giving him the right amount. (Currently at nine months old, on days when he is with me, he nurses about every 3-4 hours and gets between 3 and 3.5 ounces each time. So I know that while I’m at work for 8 hours, he should get 7ish ounces — split between two bottles — and that I should pump no less than that to make sure he has enough for the next day.) 

4. Figure out the logistics of pumping at work before your first day back. When you have your wits about you, email or call your employer and ask where you’ll be able to pump during the day. Federal law states that your employer HAS to have a private room in which you can pump so if they say “The BATHROOM,” say “Try again.” Also, ask how often you’ll be allowed to pump. I don’t know the federal regulations on this, so I can’t say for sure what they are exactly. But once you’ve figured that out…

5. Pump as frequently as you’re allowed/able to. I’m very thankful that my employer has been so accommodating for me. Right now, I pump three to four times a day for about 20 minutes at a time to get that 7 ounces I need. That said, I work in a cube farm. If I still worked in broadcast news, I’m not entirely sure I’d be free to pump as much as I do now. I realize that other professions are more demanding so don’t stress. Do it as often as you can and, at the end of the day, give yourself a pat on the back for being able to do it at all.

6. You may have to trick your body. This is the, uh, TMI section. At this point in my breastfeeding/working full time journey, my body has figured out that the pump I have — which is top of the line, by the way — is NOT my baby. So it takes a bit of coercion to get my breasts to let down for the pump. So I’ve got to trick them. This includes watching videos of my baby on my phone while I pump, nipple stimulation (SORRY), and breast massages (SORRY AGAIN).

7. Look into insurance coverage for your pump. In the event that you don’t get a breast pump at your shower, have no fear; under the new health care law you should be able to get a brand new breast pump completely covered by your health insurance provider.

8. Exclusively nurse when you’re at home. Try to nurse right before you leave for work and first thing when you get home. Not only will this help your body keep producing well, it also makes the 8 hours in between less painful. Both of you have that after-work nursing bonding time to look forward to.

9. Surround yourself with other breastfeeding moms — whether they’re already your friends or if they’re in a support group. Breastfeeding is an emotional thing, especially in the beginning when both you and your baby are trying to figure it out. It can also be painful at first. Don’t be ashamed if you need help. As a matter of fact, even if you feel like you don’t need help, seek it anyway. It’s nice to have a support system. Don’t feel bad if you have 23947234 questions. Ask and ask frequently. Most breastfeeding moms will understand and won’t look down on you for not being an expert right away (or ever).

10. YOUR SUPPLY IS FINE. RELAX. There are times when your supply naturally drops (like when you’re about to get your period, for example) and things you ingest that can cause your supply to dip (antihistamines, for example) but RELAX. Stress also can affect your supply, so BREATHE. I’ve lost countless hours of sleep over my milk supply but, as you can tell, my kid is a basket full of rolls and I promise you, this is not because of pureed carrots. If you do suspect your supply is dropping (it probably isn’t) you can try any of these: lactation cookies, Mother’s Milk tea, rolled oats, fenugreek, other supplements… but I will say that I’ve tried them all and have had NO success with any of them. Either my body is smarter than the supplements or they’re really a bunch of bunk.

Phew. I could go on, but this post is already really long so I’m gonna wrap it up here. Hopefully this helps! Do you have any other breastfeeding tips? Comment and let me know!

Happy nursing!

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Filed under baby love, life, motherhood, on the job

mom finds “diet list” in her 7-year-old daughter’s room.

You read that subject line right. According to this post on Mommyish, a mother found a heartbreaking “diet list”, complete with documentation of daily food intake and exercises, on the floor of her 7-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

I can’t even imagine.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about something like this. I’m grateful for that fact, truly, because any time I come across something like this every hope and dream I have about the world in which we live dies just a little bit more.

Sorry for the melodrama but here’s the deal — I have a kid now. Not that this wouldn’t have pissed me off a year ago, but it’s a little different now that I’m a parent. In a moment of fleeting amnesia, I forgot how terrible the world can be sometimes, so I decided to bring a little life into it. So I had a little boy. A little boy who will sit next to little girls in his classes at school. Girls he will talk to and possibly befriend. Or fall in love with. A little boy whose utterances about girls’ appearances could either be encouraging or incredibly damaging.

See, people? Now it’s personal.

Anyway — here’s a picture of the “diyet” list this poor mother found.

diet_list

If you read the article, you’ll find that the mother’s discovery of her 7-year-old’s diet plan sends her into a tailspin of parental questions, as I’m sure would be the case for any warm-blooded parent with a heartbeat and a brain stem — How did my daughter learn about diets? Did she hear this from me? Was it from someone at school? Was it something on TV? 

I’ve only been a parent for 7 and a half months, but I am already wracked with so much mom-guilt it’s not even funny. Guilt because I work full time. Guilt because my son once choked on a piece of carrot that somehow didn’t get pureed enough. Guilt because he’s teething and so nursing isn’t exactly his favorite thing at the moment. The idea that I’m hurting my child in any way causes me paralyzing grief each day; I can’t imagine the pain I’d feel in my gut if I ever knew that my child didn’t like himself and that feeling was somehow tied back to something I said or did.

The reality is that we do live in a broken world, one that puts so much emphasis on our outward appearance that it’s literally (in this case at least) destroying our youth. We can’t get away from airbrushed magazine covers or commercials for diet pills or anti-aging cream. But what we can control are the words that come out of our own mouths.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are capable. You are worth so much more than your skin color or weight or height or eye color or anything gives you credit for. 

Here’s the thing, though. I sincerely doubt this mother ever told her 7-year-old she needed to go on a diet. I also find it highly unlikely that this mother ever uttered anything to her daughter that might suggest she didn’t like her appearance at all. I’m sure this mom doted on her daughter every day like all of us would our own children. So what’s the disconnect?

While it’s extremely important to make sure we say these things to our children (both boys and girls) as well as our friends and family, we’ve got to start with us. The words we say to ourselves are just as important, if not more so. They’re not just heard by us; they’re heard by others. Especially, I’d argue, the littlest ones. The ones we wish couldn’t hear us the most.

What if she heard her mom complaining about her body? What if this woman (who, at this stage in life, is her daughter’s main example for womanhood) offhandedly commented on her lovehandles or something like we all tend to do? And what if this little girl just assumed that’s what life is like for a girl these days? To be unhappy with her body?

Furthermore, what if this little girl was a classmate of Dax’s? And what if she had no idea what a diet was, but when talking to Dax, learned I was on a diet.

“What’s a diet?” she might inquire.

“My mom says she has to eat less food because she’s fat,” he might respond, if he were to repeat anything I’ve ever said around him concerning my own body.

Let’s break this cycle. Let’s start with us. Let’s talk about ourselves positively and encourage others to do the same. Let’s tell our children they are the perfect creations they are. Let’s end this.

Now.

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Filed under commentaries, eating disorders, food bytes, life, motherhood, rants

trying to make it while trying to look like we’ve made it.

dax_7months

So. This happened last week.

Well. Uh. To be honest, the pictures were actually taken last night. But little Dax Arthur turned 7 months old on the 19th.

I know. I’m slacking a little bit. BUT WHATEVER, I WORK FULL TIME AND I’M A MOM OKAY? I’M SUPER BUSY, COME AT ME.

* shifty eyes *

My mom and I were talking the other day about how all of my friends, both from my childhood and my adulthood, keep popping out babies lately. Three of them came into the world in the past ten days. (Hi Joshua! Hi Parker! Hi Eleanor! You all are very cute! It’s nice to meet you! Sorry about all the rain!) A handful of friends are also pregnant right now, due to join the mommy club in the next few months. It’s quite exciting, but also sobering.

This revelation comes about a year away from my ten-year high school reunion. This is a bit scary. When did we all get here? When did we all become parents? Just yesterday we were (read: I was) waking up at 5:30 in the morning, even though school started two hours later, to flat iron our (my) unruly hair and apply copious amounts of makeup in order to look like we were (I was) the sole human(s) that weren’t affected by the awkwardness of adolescence. Just yesterday we were (I was) worried about whether or not our (my) skirts were short/long enough to make us (me) look older than we were (I was) but not too old. Just yesterday we were (I was) throwing shaving cream at each other in the senior class parking lot, pausing from all the fun to catch our (my) reflections in the side-view mirrors of random vehicles to ensure we (I) still looked “pretty”.  But today, we are (I am) leaving the house covered in pureed sweet potatoes and spit-up, furiously wiping ourselves (myself) down in the car on the way to work, scrambling to find babysitters so we can take our (my) husband(s) on a dang date.

How did we (I) get here?

Blah. I don’t know. But what I do know is that, based on the conversations I keep having and on the Facebook statuses I keep reading, one thing remains the same.

We’re all still trying to make it. But we’re all trying to make it look like we’ve already made it.

Last week, the Durrenbergers were in a funk. After letting Dan and I get used to long stretches of uninterrupted sleep at night, Dax was up several times wanting to nurse which, despite how cute he is, irritated us. Our exhaustion led to crankiness all over and it was like every word that shot out of Dan’s mouth was poison to my soul and every glance I gave him lit up all his insecurities.

All unintentional, of course. (Side note: Dax is officially cutting a tooth. I get it now.)

It was just a week. One, measly week in the almost five years of our relationship. But even still, it was enough to make me question everything.

Am I a good wife? 

Am I a good mother?

If I were either of those things, life wouldn’t be so hard right now.

All of a sudden I am reliving the days where I woke up at ZERO DARK THIRTY to literally burn my kinky hair into stick-straight submission before high school (shout out to all the flat irons that were manufactured before keeping your hair un-damaged was a legitimate concern). Just like back in my awkward teenage days, I just want to have it all together. But, more so than that, I just want to look like I have it all together.

I remember when I was still on maternity leave, a girl at church remarked about how put-together I looked. She was astonished that a new mom like myself could just effortlessly waltz into church on a Sunday, my newborn baby snugly sound asleep against my chest in my Maya Wrap, with the curls on my head falling into perfect place with just the right amount of makeup on to communicate, “Yeah, I made it here. And still look good. But whatever, I guess motherhood is just so easy. I don’t know what everyone is so upset about. We’re all sleeping great. And I just don’t have to try.”

The secret? I TRIED REALLY FREAKING HARD, OKAY? BECAUSE I AM INSANE SOMETIMES. I wasn’t back at work yet so if my kid fell asleep (notice I said IF) the first thing I’d do was curl my hair and put on makeup. Yes, even before I showered or took a nap of my own. Because  I wanted so badly to look like I’d made it already, despite the fact that my baby was only a few weeks old and only enjoyed two things — screaming and nursing. Not sleeping. Or like, smiling.

Just like on those days when I’d stroll into my first period class like, “What? This? Yeah, my hair is so gorgeously straight, just by nature. Nah, I don’t do anything really. I mean I have a flat iron but, whatever.”

That was almost ten years ago. Am I really no different?

I’d like to believe there are other people out there. Women who are planning their weddings and trying to effortlessly please everyone on the guest list. Dads who work two jobs to provide for their families and by the time they get home they have a strung-out wife and a crying baby to answer to. Girls who show up to their high school every day praying that the outfit they chose that morning doesn’t bring about the bullying accusations of thinner girls.

I’d like to believe there are more people than just me in this boat.

In the event that I’m right in assuming that so many of us are actually walking shells, imposters even, of our true selves, I’d like to challenge us all to just let ourselves be. 

Just. Be.

What does that look like for me to just be? At the moment, it means hitting the snooze button a few extra times in the morning instead of waking up at the first (way too early) alarm to style my unruly hair. It means not cringing at the thought of someone randomly coming over to my always-messy house before I get the chance to deep-clean it. It means not stressing over the fact that my baby ate non-organic bananas one time. It means taking Dax’s 7-month pictures when he’s actually 7 months and one week old. It means giving myself a freaking break.

Because despite what I think, I haven’t made it yet. And I might never make it. But I’d rather spend my days just living than trying to look like I’m living a certain way.

Ya feel me, homies?

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Filed under baby love, life, motherhood, psychology, transformation

overcome the lie.

A quick Google search tells me that the average person can see up to 5,000 advertisements a day. That’s a little more than 208 an hour.

Whoa.

That may seem unrealistic at first, but if you think about it, it makes sense.

In the morning, your alarm clock rouses you. You get up, take a shower, and get dressed. Already, you’ve seen the brand names of all your shampoos, body washes, and clothes you wear. While these products aren’t currently trying to sell themselves to you, you’ve already bought them. Your brand loyalty is being cultivated.

Then, you get into your car and drive to work. On your way, you pass billboards, signs, and placards all vying for your valuable consumer eye. Then you get to work, sit down at your cubicle, and open up your Internet browser to check your email. The page you’re blankly staring at recycles a handful of ads based on your past web experience.

At the end of the day, you get in your car and go back home and plop down on the couch to relax.  You flip on the television and scroll through channels while flickering ads quietly trigger the firing off of millions of synapses in your brain. You consume an hour or two (maybe) and then hit the hay, all to wake up the next day and start it all over again.

If the average person sees that many ads a day, how many lies do you think the average person is told a day?

Now, I’m a communication major. I have a lot of friends who, after graduating college with me, went off to be very successful advertisers. So I’m not about to bite the hand that feeds me. But if every coffee company claims to have the best coffee out there, like they all seem to say in their ads, at least one of them has to be lying, right?

We are told so many lies each day.

“Wear X brand so you’ll be sexy.”

“Buy Y makeup because it will make your skin flawless.”

“Your looks are the best part about you.”

“Your looks are the worst part about you.”

The truth? You are fearfully and wonderfully made just how you are. 

It would be so nice if we could get society to stop lying to us. To stop telling us that our worth is found in outward appearances and things we buy. But that will never happen; we live in a broken world.

But we can’t sit idly by as this happens. We’ve got to take action. It is our responsibility to overcome the lies we are told each day.

I’m asking you to join me, along with Lionhart (a non-profit organization I work with), and The Story Project, to OVERCOME THE LIE.

overcomelie2

Next week, we’ll be teaming up to encourage one another and women all around the globe through inspiring blogs, Facebook posts, and tweets and we want you to join us.

Check out the Facebook event for more information or The Story Project blog.

I’m so excited about the change that is about to happen in so many women’s lives. We, as women, have overcome so much throughout history. Now, it’s time to overcome the lie.

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Filed under faith, God, gushes, life, transformation

it isn’t easy being green. with envy.

I’ve been dealing with some stuff.

That’s what I told a couple of my girlfriends in an email last week. Only I didn’t say “stuff”. I said something else. Something much more fitting to describe exactly what it is I’m going through.

Yesterday, I got an email from NaNoWriMo. When it hit my inbox it felt like a sack of pumpkins to the face. Oh yes. It’s October, which means that next month is November. National Novel Writing Month.  Has it really been a year since I touched my novel?

Let me give you a little bit of insight as to how my life looked a year ago:

I’d just gotten surgery to repair my ACL, an injury I sustained during an awesome dance class at an incredible studio. I was writing like it was my job (which, okay, it is my job but youknowwhatimean), my blog was getting roughly a bazillion hits a day (roughly), and I was taking on my biggest writing challenge ever — fashioning a novel (albeit a complete crap one) in a month. All the while, I was involved in four ministries, one of which I led, at my church.

I was doing it all, basically. I was the it-girl.

And then bam. On November 16th, I took a positive pregnancy test. A figurative slam on the brakes of life, if you will. A happy gear shift, for sure, but a gear shift none the less. I went from being completely focused on my life and my goals to turning down everything (including beer, dang it) that I wanted in order to put someone else — someone so precious and special — first.

I was thrown head-first into a season of rapid life-changes, both physically and otherwise. As I watched my body grow, I also watched important things in my life grow distant. It was almost as if I was taking up too much space to allow for anything else. A painfully obvious metaphor, of sorts. I stepped down. From a lot of things. I put writing on the back burner. I surrendered the ministries in which I volunteered (one of which I’d run for five years — that was pretty hard to let go). I removed myself from all of the “good” things in my life in order to make room for the “best” thing.

Make no mistake. When I saw his little face on July 19th at 1:34 AM, I could see why he was, indeed, the “best” thing. He was (and is) absolutely perfect. He is my whole world. 

That should be enough for me. It should. But guess what?

I’m human. I’m broken. So sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, like right now, for instance, it’s not.

This year looks  a lot different than last year. I’m not dancing. I’m not writing as much. I’m most certainly not writing another novel, or even editing the one I did write, and I’m watching as all the ministries in which I served move on without me. Moreover, they’re moving on with other people. People who, by my account, are better and more lovable than me. My brokenness begs me to cling to the public affirmation associated with being involved in and doing everything, and so now, since I don’t have any of that, I don’t feel as though I am worthy of love. It’s especially hard because the only person for whom I’m “doing” things, the only person from whom I can receive affirmation, can’t speak. Can’t audibly affirm me. (Unless you count coos and the occasional but oh-so lifesaving smiles.)

To make matters worse, I had to go back to work. And my milk supply consequently dropped. So now I sit in my cubicle, praying that the one thing I — and only I — can do doesn’t slip away, too, making me (in my mind) completely and utterly useless. It feels like this thing — breastfeeding my child — is the only thing keeping me from being obsolete and unloved. As each pumping session shrinks just a little smaller than the last, I begin to panic.

Enter: envy. Pure, immature, annoying, soul-crushing envy.

I find myself envious (and bitter, to boot) of everyone these days. Stay-at-home moms who can answer the demand of their nursing infants and, therefore, don’t have to worry about a diminishing milk supply. Published writers who, because they’re published, are better at it than I. Singers, because dear GOD don’t ask me to sing. Songwriters. Artists. Friends. Not friends. Redheads. Brunettes. Blondes.

The list is endless.

Chances are, if I know you, I’m probably envious of something you have that I don’t. Even though what I have — a beautiful and perfect baby boy — is something you can’t ever have. Sure, you can have a baby boy at some point. But he’ll never be my baby boy. He’ll never be the perfect little angel I wake up to every morning.

It’s the nature of the sin. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t God-honoring. It’s wrong and stupid and awful. And yet, here I sit, stewing in envy. The painful thorn in my side.

One of my favorite writers touched on this earlier this week when she lamented about the solitary nature of book-writing. The way she explained her feelings echoed mine. It’s as if I’m a duck floating atop a pond. Quiet and inconspicuously still above the surface, but furiously paddling my feet beneath, unseen and unappreciated by all.

Barf. Whatever.

Because this terrible ulcer in my heart wouldn’t stop festering, I had no choice but to open up about it to a couple friends. (In two completely unrelated lunch meetings, both over sushi, which I found to be adorably ironic.) I sat across the table from these two friends, friends I’ve known for years, friends who have seen me at my absolute worst, and I let them have it. I let them know that, yep, I’m still messed up. I compare myself to others and get really freaking jealous and it really sucks.

And they listened. And they challenged me to think differently. To be proactive and to make changes.

But change is hard and I hate it. 

This past weekend I took a short, 24-hour trip to my hometown to see my best friend’s little brother get married. It’s a four-hour drive, and since I had to take Dax with me, I had to drive at night. I hate driving at night, but Dax sleeps through the night now and also conks out during car rides so there was no way I was going to drive during the day if it meant my son would revert back to a nocturnal disposition.

My least favorite part of the drive, probably because of the low speed limit and lack of passing lanes, is driving east on highway 40 through the Ocala National Forest. As soon as I get on 40, I start counting the minutes until I can finally turn right onto 17 and get the hell off of 40.

But this time, it was different. I wanted to stay on 40 forever.

In the dead of night, the Ocala National Forest should have, by all accounts, been pitch black. My Camry and I should have been shrouded in complete darkness. But we weren’t.

The moon was full, and so it poured buckets of silvery moonlight across the land, transforming the forest completely. The trees were a mass of dark, almost-black-but-just-not hunter green against a slate sky and clouds disguised as clumps of charcoal. It was devastatingly beautiful — a type of beauty that could only be seen in the dark of night. As much as the sun could try during the day, that type of allure was only achievable with the overwhelming glow of the full moon. (I tried to take a picture of it with my iPhone but none of the photos did it justice. So hopefully my words will.)

It reminded me of me. And what I’m going through in this time. Though I am, indeed, walking through a “dark” period, a night which has gone on way too long with the hope of dawn too far off in the distance, there is hope. There is truth. There is light.

There is light in the truth my friends bring me through honest, raw, desperate conversation. There is the reality that, though I am broken and have weak moments, I am loved and valued, even if I am not publicly esteemed as such right now. And though I’m currently wrestling with this beast of a sin, I can beat it because I am a daughter of the Most High. A princess.

A broken princess. A messy princess. But a princess, none the less, bathed in the sweet, soft moonlight of grace.

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pop singers don’t eat.

In recent days, Lady Gaga has come into the spotlight for, ahem, “letting herself go” and gain some weight. Media outlets, like they tend to do, have criticized her new “fuller” (I put all these words in quotes because GOOD GOD SHE LOOKS BLOODY NORMAL) figure. To defend herself, she posted a couple pictures of herself online in her underwear with the caption, “Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.”

 

Now, all of a sudden, people are coming up alongside Gaga to aid her in her new found quest to spread body image positivity and courage.

Yayyyy, right?

Bleh. Yes? I guess? But here’s what pisses me off about the whole thing.

I used to love Lady Gaga. I would dance like a damn fool whenever her songs came on the radio or in the clubs. My husband and I bought her newest record (which was disappointing, honestly) the day it came out. I can’t remember another artist for whom I went out of my way to purchase their stuff on the drop date. (Okay, there’s Hanson, but they don’t count because I buy their stuff BEFORE the drop date. Obviously.) But I stopped supporting her cold turkey recently.

You see, all of you are late to the “Lady Gaga Has An Eating Disorder” Party. We were all invited to that party years ago and I guess no one but me noticed her invitation to it… despite it being on Twitter. 

I stopped supporting Lady Gaga because she tweeted about eating a salad with the hashtag #PopSingersDontEat. It was almost like she was proud of it, like she knew she was “better” than the rest of us for foregoing calories in the name of thinness. I didn’t want to support anyone, ESPECIALLY anyone who women (and girls!) across the globe looked up to, who would publicly advocate such unhealthy behavior.

Because I struggled with an ED, I know that her tweet, and the thought process behind it, had ED written all over it. The desire for validation. The absurdity. The stubbornness. The emptiness. Everything about her tweet SCREAMED, “Help. I have an eating disorder,” but only NOW, when we actually see Lady Gaga give her ED a name, do we feel sorry for her?

Why is it that a tweet that LITERALLY STATES one is refusing food just gets swept under the rug, while a picture that states, in lesser words, I DON’T EAT FOOD actually gets your attention? It’s the same thing! Is it the sheer fact that now, a medical term — anorexia and bulimia — is tied to the behavior? If so, that’s horribly sad, because think of all the people who are currently suffering from eating disorders without diagnoses.

I was one of them. For those of you who know my story, you know I suffered from an eating disorder for TWELVE YEARS before being diagnosed. Twelve. Years.

After Gaga’s original tweet, that’s when we should have been rallying up alongside Gaga for body positivity! We should have tweeted back at her that nothing is worth damaging your body for, especially not thinness. We should have tweeted back at her the truth that she’s fearfully and wonderfully made. But we didn’t.

I didn’t.

Had Twitter been around back in the days I was knee deep eating disorder hell, I’m almost positive I would have tweeted something about how a Pepsi One (yep, throw back) totally counts as a legitimate lunch option. And you know what? I would have secretly hoped that someone, anyone, would tweet back at me, “Please, eat something more than that. You’re beautiful. You deserve to treat yourself better.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m glad Lady Gaga is doing what she’s doing. I think she’s a beautiful woman, inside and out, who, like a lot of us, has been tricked by society to believe that her worth is only skin deep. And I’m not mad at her for doing this all of a sudden. What makes me mad is that THIS IS NOT NEWS. Poor Gaga practically threw a Hail Mary pass on Twitter asking for help and no on caught it. But now, she’s in the end zone doing a dance after rushing for a touchdown in her underwear, and NOW we’re paying attention?

Welcome to the party.

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Filed under commentaries, eating disorders, psychology, rants, the media

introducing: friday favorites!

Can I speak off the cuff for a second? (Psh. Why am I even asking? This is my blog, you guys. I do what I want.)

I’ve been pretty aware of all the ways I suck lately. Mostly, over the past week. I guess that makes sense, what with me going back to work and wrestling with what that means as far as my contribution to my home and family. It stands to reason, I suppose, that in this time of transition I might find myself struggling to focus on what is praiseworthy about myself. (Philippians 4:8.)

The truth is, self-love isn’t something you just achieve one day and then bam, you’re all better. I really wish it were that simple, but the reality is that loving yourself in a society that does its damnedest to point out everything that’s wrong with you takes daily discipline. It takes the strength to wake up every single day and look yourself in the mirror and say, “Hey, Self, you’re all right.”

Unfortunately, with everything that’s been going on in my life as of late (you know, having a kid and all) I haven’t really taken care of myself in that respect. Sure, I make sure I eat every day and try to squeeze a shower in here and there (I washed my hair last night, y’all!) but as far as putting forth the effort it takes to truly, honestly, take care of my self-esteem and consequential mental health, I’m falling behind. And it’s starting to wear on me.

An old issue I’ve struggled with in the past has reared its ugly head recently. The issue? Allowing myself to be loved without doing anything. 

I’d thought I’d beat it. I thought that, with the help of this blog and the people with whom I surround myself, I’d finally let that little part of me die. But, since stepping away from all the things I “do” for people in order to focus on my son and my family, I’ve started to feel as though I’m being replaced. Forgotten. Unloved.

While I know that isn’t the case, right now it’s hard to believe it. So, I’ve decided to go ahead and use this blog for what it was originally intended — a tool with which I can learn to love myself daily. I’m going to dust off the old “self-love” warrior training boxing gloves and start a new weekly post series on my blog. I’d like to introduce to you,

lindsay’s friday favorites!

On Fridays, as a discipline, I’m going to post a blog highlighting one thing about myself that I like, that is my “favorite trait” of the week. One thing, I might add, is just ME. Not something I DO. Just something I AM. It may be physical, or not. It may be an item of clothing I bought or a way I did my hair. It might be a book I started reading and the thoughts it provoked within me. I’m not sure yet. But all I know is that I’m going to commit to doing this every Friday to remind myself that I’m valuable just because I am.

I’d like to challenge you, my readers, to do it, too. On my Friday Favorites posts, I want you to comment the things you love about yourself that week. Nothing would make me happier than knowing that my struggles, and the disciplined nature through which I will try to overcome them, might actually be a positive influence in your lives as well.

And so. Starting next Friday, we’re going to do this. We’re going to start to love ourselves, one little blog post at a time.

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Filed under faith, God, life, psychology, transformation

back to the grind, consumed with mom-guilt.

I’d like to take this opportunity to give a standing ovation to all the stay-at-home moms out there. Bravo, ladies. Brav. Vo.

Y’all want some real talk? I’ll give you some real talk.

I’ve been a working mom for three days and let me just tell you — stay-at-home moms have it harder than working moms. (And, as an aside, stay-at-home moms who HOME SCHOOL? Psh. They’ve all got to be immortal droids or something.) I’ve been back in the workforce for almost three days and it’s like I’m in Cabo on vacation. Wooohoo! I can count on one hand the number of days that have gone by without me getting pooped on, and I can pee whenever I have to and not hold it until the baby’s asleep! (Okay, so maybe, based on that comment, I did stay-at-home mom life wrong. Whatever. Holding your bladder for five hours while consoling a colicky baby is legit, right? Don’t answer that.)

Anyway. Props to all you SAHMs. Major. Props.

More real talk. I miss my boy. Bad. 

The first day back was pretty great. I was distracted by all my new projects at work and the sweet welcome I got from my coworkers, seen here:

And the second day was okay, too. But once I got home, I realized that, at the end of my work day, I only have a few short hours with my baby until he’s down for bed which makes me SUPER. DUPER. SAD.

You guys. I’m in a downward thought spiral, here. My self-love is waning in lieu of mom-guilt. Does he still recognize my voice?! What if he grows up not knowing who I am? What if he thinks I’m just some weird lady who comes to his house and sleeps in his dad’s bed after being away for eight hours all day?! Even worse, what if he DOES know I’m his mom, but thinks I suck majorly because I’ve missed out on all the times he’s smiled as a two-month-old? What if, when he learns to talk, his first word is, “I-DON’T-KNOW-MY-MOM.” YOU GUYS?! HOW DO KIDS OF WORKING PARENTS NOT GROW UP COMPLETELY MALADJUSTED?! WHY AM I THE WORST?

Okay. So maybe my kid is adjusting fine. Maybe he’s two months old and doesn’t know the difference yet. Maybe he’ll grow up completely normal in spite of me. Maybe I’m the severely unhinged mental case who needs help.

Anyway.

I’m back in action, y’all! Back with a whole new set of insecurities! Let’s do this.

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Filed under baby love, commentaries, life, psychology