Category Archives: Health

Self-Compassion Saturday: Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Today is the first official day of the World Domination Summit, (WDS). I am trying not to be jealous or feel sad when I look at all the pictures and updates being posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s kind of like having to stay home from summer camp or missing a school field trip because you are sick, knowing how much fun everyone is having, feeling a little left out and sorry for yourself. And yet, I know it was the right thing for me to not go this year, that Dexter needed me here, that I need the time to grieve his loss, (and besides, I spent so much money on it last year, I really couldn’t justify spending more, again, so soon).

One of the best things about WDS is the people you meet, the connections you make with those who are doing similar work and have similar ideas, who share your intentions and your experience. Last year at WDS, I was lucky enough to meet Anne-Sophie Reinhardt. Without planning to, we kept running into each other over the course of the weekend, sitting together and talking about the things we had in common. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with her. She has the biggest heart, makes you feel immediately safe and at ease, and she has the best smile, the greatest laugh.

annesophiewds2013

Anne-Sophie in a WDS hammock, 2013

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a body image expert, self-love advocate and the author of Love Your Body The Way It Is. Join her newsletter and receive your free 3-part video series helping you to break free from your obsession with food and your body. On her website’s about page she says,

For the longest time, I was caught in a circle of self-doubt and self-loathing. Now, I’m free, confident and happy with myself and my body. My mission is to help you achieve the same.

And,

I write on, teach and live self-love and body-love. Sometimes, I even breathe it … I believe that every single woman can find peace around food and her body. I dream of creating a world where women love themselves unabashedly, completely and guiltlessly.

I am so grateful for the work Anne-Sophie is doing, the difference she is making, to me and in the world. And I am so happy to be able to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.

annesophie

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

To me, self-compassion means having a binge and not beating yourself up. It means looking in the mirror and saying to yourself: Yes, love, your stomach isn’t perfect, but I love you anyway. It means laughing when you make a mistake instead of going into self-attack and it means responding to your ever-present critic in the head with a loud and clear “Fuck You”.

Self-compassion is a skill that every woman can learn. It’s a process that you commit to and once you decide to go from self-attacking mode to self-compassionate mode, your life completely changes.

Self-compassion helps to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. It’s the elixir of self-care and the golden heart of a self-loving person.

Self-compassion also means taking a bath at the end of a hard day, learning to say no when you’re exhausted and hell yes when something really exciting. Self-compassion doesn’t always feel good to you but it’s always good for you.

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

Big question. I think that I’m still very much on the path to learning self-compassion. I never had a specific teacher or even a guru, but through my recovery from anorexia, I’ve read a lot, sat in meditation for days, tried, failed and tried again. I’ve learned to first not act on the constant critic’s advice and then I learned to respond to it in a different way. There were days when it was easy not to be so very hard on myself and there were and still are many days, where WWIII is happening in my body and mind.

Two steps forward. One step back.

That’s reality, life and a true self-loving path. If you can accept that, truly accept it, then you’re one step closer to a wholly self-compassionate life.

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

My number one way of showing self-compassion is to nourish my body with healthful, delicious food. I’ve been negating myself food for 14 years and it’s still my weakness. Another way to practice self-compassion is meditation. For about 8 months, I’ve been meditating every morning instead of running to the computer and letting the craziness of the day into my world. This lets me start my day with deep introspection and I always feel more balanced, which leads to being kinder to myself.  I often treat myself to a mani/pedi when I’m in a big self-attack mode or I simply go for a walk in nature, which never fails to ground me and helps me to see what’s really important. Also, when I had a fight with a loved one or I’ve made a mistake, I am kinder with myself as I used to be. It takes presence and practice in those moments, but the more often I do it the more intuitive a self-compassionate response gets.

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

Lots of things. How to not be so hard on myself when my business doesn’t do as well as I’d like it to go. How to be at peace even when I can’t work out for a few days. How to be present and grateful for being myself instead of always looking for the future. I still need to understand what complete peace of mind feels like, but I trust the process and I know that one day soon, I’ll know or I won’t. Either way, I’ll be more grounded, happier and kinder to myself and others.

MG_0432-Anne-kl1

I am so grateful for Anne-Sophie, for her responses — so genuine, just like her. I love how she described self-compassion as “the golden heart of a self-loving person.” To find out more about Anne-Sopie, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Susan Piver.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

Something Good

1. Before and After, a beautiful poem and image from Vivienne McMaster.

2. This quote from C.G. Jung, “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”

3. Be Cool & Don’t Be An Assh*le on Elephant Journal. I love this. At the entrance to my paid work office, I have two postcards. One says “Don’t be a jerk” and the other says “The time is now.”

4. We All Die and How I am Finally Becoming the Person I Betrayed at 19 from Girl on Fire.

5. The confrontation waiting to happen, wisdom from Seth Godin.

6. Andrea Scher’s start a foolish project on Jessica Swift’s blog, (Andrea’s new course, Start a Foolish Project, starts on July 1st, so there’s still time to register).

7. Speaking of foolish projects, this weird and wonderful ninja art installation I discovered on our morning walk. I have no idea what it means, but I give you “Plastic Animal Butts.”

8. Bryan Kest: A different kind of yoga teacher on The Examiner. This is the kind of yoga teacher I want, want to become. Just some of his wisdom shared in this article,

“Most people bring their shit to yoga and turn their yoga into shit.”

“Yoga is meant to free us from our agenda,” he explained, but most people bring their agenda to class. In yoga our body is talking to us. Most people aren’t listening because they’re trying to make the pose a certain way. Your job is to quiet your mind and figure out where you should be in the pose.”

“The only thing yoga will tell you is wake the f#?k up.”

9. The Practicality of Forgiveness from Create as Folk, pure wisdom from Laura Simms.

10. Validating your pain is the first step to getting stronger, wisdom from Danielle LaPorte.

11. The Best Foods To Help You Eat The Rainbow & Boost Your Energy on MindBodyGreen.

12. Make Me: Paper Patchwork Art on Decor8. I am itching to try this. As you may or may not know, I have an aunt who is an amazing fabric artist and I have a large collection of quilts, bordering on obsession, and yet I am not a seamstress myself, haven’t yet learned the art form — but scissors, glue and paper I could do.

13. Reasons to Avoid the Beach from Jason Good.

14. 6 Conversations You Need To Have With Yourself and 4 Reasons to Hold On a Little Longer from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

15. Spit & Polish: Romping with Laurie Wagner from Jennifer Louden. I’m registered for this workshop, knocking on wood and keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out and I get to go. These are two powerful, compassionate and wise teachers.

16. Everything you could want for a nuclear fallout from Kleenex to unappetizing cans of ‘multi-purpose food’: California couple discover perfectly preserved 1961 fallout shelter 15 feet below their backyard.

17. 15 “Summer Camp Style” Friendship Bracelets You Can Make Right Now. It doesn’t matter how old I get, I’m still a sucker for these.

18. The Unicorn: A Motel, A Metaphor + Meth from Feed Me Darling.

19. On Getting (and Using) Another Chance, an older post from Lisa Congdon that’s worth another look.

20. Some Fucking Writing Tips from Matt Haig, (obviously if you are bothered by the language in the title, do not read this post).

21. How I Got Fired from the Job I Invented from Turner Barr. Idea theft, intellectual property robbery at its worst.

22. 10 Vegan Foods Packed with Protein from One Green Planet.

23. Healthy Living: Part Two from Decor8.

24. 5 Of The Coolest And Most Powerful POV’S On The Block (And Why This Matters To Your Business) from Jac McNeil.

25. 344 Illustrated Flowcharts to Find Answers to Life’s Big Questions on Brain Pickings.

26. Amber Valletta: Blaze Your Own Trail on The Conversation.

27. A Better Way to Die: Bringing together medicine and spirituality for end-of-life care, shared by Patti Digh on her Thinking Thursday list.

28. Who to Fall in Love with First: 6 Ways to Love Yourself and 9 Ways You May Unwittingly Deprive Yourself of Love and Fulfillment on Tiny Buddha.

29. Living the Tiny Home Life: An Interview With Tammy Strobel on Mother Earth News.

30. This quote, shared by Positively Present Picks, “Now and then its good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy” ~Guillaume Apollinaire.

31. Shared on Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list: Naturally Ella, this tempeh sandwich recipe from Thug Kitchen, and How to Make an Origami Elephant.

32. She’s Fierce. She’s Blunt. And Sadly, She’s Also Right. on Upworthy.

33. Dharma 101: Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. {eBooklet} on Elephant Journal.

Gratitude Friday

rosesfrommygarden

1. Flowers from my garden. As much as I am working on cultivating a garden I can eat, I also want a full season of blooms.

2. Easy and affordable access to healthcare. I am so grateful, especially after this weekend, to be able to get help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from wise and compassionate caregivers.

3. Free Yoga Journals. On one of our morning walks this week, we went by a house for sale that had a full box of about six years worth of Yoga Journal magazine sitting out front on the sidewalk. I passed it up at first, tried to convince myself I didn’t need them, was in the process of decluttering, but ended up going back for them. Truth is, I’m starting yoga teacher training in January, they are my favorite magazine, and after I read them I always use them to collage, so I kind of did need them.

4. HGTV House Hunters and House Hunters International. I’ve mentioned before that being a highly sensitive person, I have to be careful what I watch. I can’t really watch anything with conflict or meanness or horror anymore, which means most TV is out. But I love HGTV. If I could have just that channel, I might consider getting cable again, but for now, thankfully, there are episodes available online.

5. Summer break. I had a dream last night that I was on vacation in Hawaii, but I’d spent most of my time working, being inside, that I was spending the last day there doing laundry and was so sad that I hadn’t enjoyed the trip more. I think that was my subconscious telling me that it’s time to start acting like I’m on vacation, (I’m not really very good at it). I’m listening to Beach House Radio as I write this, and missing the beach so much it hurts a little. This time last year, we were packing, getting ready to leave the next day for a whole month there, with no idea that our sweet Dexter had cancer, no idea it would be his last trip there with us.

Dexter embraces his gray hair.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. I almost hate to say it outloud, afraid I might jinx it, but he’s gone five days without a bloody nose. A few nights ago, he slept in bed with us the whole night, and his routine for getting in was exactly like the “good old days,” — go out to go potty, come back in and check that everyone is in bed, go find his Little D, hop into bed with us, play with his baby for a little bit, get petted, and finally breathe a deep sigh and fall asleep against my leg. It’d be easier to let him go if he weren’t so dang sweet.

Everything Changes

Another Wednesday without a wishcast prompt. And yet, I’m feeling a powerful need to make wishes — big wishes, important wishes, wishes for healing and peace.

I wish good health and healing for Jamie’s mom. I wish for strength, peace, and comfort for Jamie and anyone else loving and supporting her mom right now.

I wish for Dexter not to suffer, (he was at the emergency vet three weeks ago, his nose has been bleeding more that usual — whatever “usual” even means when cancer is involved — and on Saturday, he sprained his leg — a different one, not the one he’s already in physical therapy for). I also continue to wish that he have an easy death, whenever that might come.

I wish good luck, a safe trip and a workable outcome for my friend Ann. Today she’s making another visit to a doctor in Boston who might have a new treatment option for her cancer. No matter what happens, I wish her and her partner ease, comfort, and clarity.

I wish comfort for my friend Susan, my dear friend Kelly‘s mom. This past week had to have been so rough for her, with Mother’s Day and the three year anniversary of Kelly’s passing just days apart — but I also know that the arrival of a new granddaughter is offering so much joy. I wish for comfort for all of us who love Kelly and still feel so sad, miss her so much, who will forever carry that ache.

So many are suffering. It can feel overwhelming sometimes. But just when I start to feel like it’s all too much, someone does or says or makes or shares something so beautiful, that I remember: life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal — keep your heart open.

Today, it was a post on Hopeful World. It included beautiful words from Jen Lemen, who has been the healing balm for my own suffering so many times I’ve stopped counting. The video in the post is one she’d shared with me back in September, at a moment when it was just what I needed, and my response to it was just what she needed, but I was sworn to secrecy. I’ve been waiting patiently for her to share it with the world, so I could share it with you, and today is the day.

Everything changes. And when we can remember that during the low times, our hearts can fill with hope. And when we can tell each other this in the good times, our hearts can fill with gratitude. No matter what, we can be gentle, we can be kind. And we can remember, that even in this, we are never, ever alone. ~Jen Lemen

A Special Wishcasting Wednesday

sky

Most Wednesdays, I do a wishcast using a prompt provided by Jamie Ridler. This week, she’s pausing while her Mom deals with a health issue, to be present for that, to help and support her. Rather than skipping the wish, I decided to use it for something special, important.

I wish for healing and comfort. For Jamie’s mom. For Jamie and her siblings as they surround her. For my friend Ann who has cancer and is trying to make some difficult decisions about finances and treatment options. For her partner. For anyone who is dealing with a health crisis and for everyone who loves them, I wish for their suffering to ease, for them to be filled with a sense of well-being.

As I was leaving the gym this morning, after practicing yoga with Ann, after hugging her and telling her I love her, both of us shaking with tears, after reading Jamie’s post about putting everything on pause, I looked up at the sky. I took a picture so you could see what I saw, but what you don’t know from the image is that the birds were singing all around, mad with love for Spring, and something about that comforted me–that and the big blue over my head, the vast love and space that exist no matter how many hard things happen.

May all beings be happy.
May all beings be well.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be free from suffering.

Day of Rest

dexterinstagram

Today has not been a restful one for me. Dexter has had a wonky belly for a few days and his nose has been bleeding more than usual. This morning, he refused to eat, wouldn’t even take his favorite treats, so I took him to the emergency vet. They have him now, giving him iv fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea medication. I just got back from a short visit with him, checking on the blood work results (high white cell blood count which indicates a bacterial infection), giving him some love, and dropping off his Little D to hang out with him. The vet said if he stays stable, can eat some dinner later and keep it down, we’ll be able to bring him home tonight. This is such good news, and for now we’ll concentrate on that.

bigdlittled04

Everyone here is feeling tender.  Even Sam seems a little sad. We know Dexter will be back with us, but the fact that our time together overall is so limited lingers, and makes this time apart difficult. We are all bumping up against what it’s going to be like to be a family of three, and it hurts. And yet, our guiding intention remains that Dexter doesn’t suffer, that his death be easy–even if that means we get his belly feeling better only to need to make a bigger decision because of his nose. The good bad news is that how much we love them is equal to how much we hurt for them, how much we’ll miss them, how sad we are to be separated. It’s like Susan Piver said at our retreat last week, “no matter what, every relationship ends badly.”

dexterkiss

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~Mary Oliver

Not Knowing Where to Start

This is one of those posts, kind and gentle reader, that is at this moment as much of a mystery to me as it is to you. All day I have been thinking about what I wanted to tell you, what I had to say, to share, without being sure exactly what I would write. There is a big shift happening in my life right now but it’s not entirely clear to me how this is going to work out so I haven’t formed a neat and tidy way of communicating it. All I know for sure is that I want to tell you the truth.

I finally had an appointment with my new doctor. I have been struggling with fatigue for the past few years, have hypothyroidism and a family history of diabetes, (all kinds, on both sides), am most likely perimenopausal, and don’t get enough rest. I am a highly functioning food addict who has struggled with disordered eating for 30+ years, having gained, lost, and regained the same 20 pounds at least that many times. I want to be free of it, this struggle and dis-ease. I want to be strong, healthy, and whole, with the energy and stamina necessary to do the work I long to do, to live a full life.

Things have to to change. A series of unfortunate incidents with my previous doctors made me realize that I wasn’t being cared for as well as I should be, that I needed to seek out a new perspective, someone who would view me as a whole person (not just a body) and consider all the potential healing modalities available. I chose someone who practices Integrative Medicine, which according to her, “evaluates the patient as a whole. It does not view the patient as a chronic disease, an illness, a list of medications, or a recent hospitalization–but rather as a complex being made up of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual parts all interdependent and woven together. All of these elements are respectfully addressed in developing strategies to treat illness and more aggressively prevent disease.” Sounds great, doesn’t it?

It was good. But, we have some work to do. I have something to teach her about dealing with people who have a history of dis-ordered eating and self-loathing. For starters: don’t call them obese, no matter what the BMI chart says. And for heaven’s sake, don’t call them obese repeatedly. Call them curvy, solid, voluptuous, thick, full, well-rounded, sturdy, slightly heavier than optimal, weighted down–but don’t call them obese.

Brave Belly

I get it. I need to lose some weight. It’s the same weight I’ve been losing and gaining for years. I already knew that. I get it. It’s there, in part, because I am an incredibly sensitive and porous person, without natural thick skin or any other kind of protective barrier between myself and the energy of my environment, the suffering of every person I encounter, the meanness and brutality of life. I am easily hurt, and I eat my feelings. This in turn makes me bigger, more stable and substantial, heavier, harder to knock down, safer, calmer (at least in theory).

What she said hurt me. I’m pretty sure she thought I was confused about my situation, didn’t realize it was serious, and that this “truth” would motivate me to change. In reality, it sent me into a shame spiral. Thank goodness that same afternoon I was leaving for a retreat with Susan Piver, had a safe, supportive space to go in which to process what she’d said. I truly believe that without my practices, the support and wisdom I have access to, she would have only made things worse with that one word. I’m hoping the next time we meet, I can effectively and kindly communicate this to her so that she is better able to help the next person like me, a person who might not have the support, the tools I do to process and cope.

whole

For now, I get back to the work of educating myself. Along with Susan Piver, her support and wisdom and our shared practice, I am so grateful for the work and friendship of Rachel Cole. Both of these amazing women, (along with such writers and healers as Geneen Roth and Tara Brach), remind me to always approach myself, my struggles, with gentleness, to give myself space and compassion. In this way I can face this transition, which is going to be so difficult, with wisdom and lovingkindness–because this is so much more about loving myself than about what I do or don’t eat.

I can also count on the people in my life who love me to support me, encourage and help me, to make me smile, to laugh. Like my trainer, who after hearing what my doctor had said was extra encouraging to me when we worked out, telling me much more often than normal what a great job I was doing, (seriously, it was adorable). And my husband, who told me “we’ll figure this out, you’ll know what to do, and I’ll help you,” who loves me, is more concerned with the size of my heart and how much I love him back than a set of numbers anyway, who won’t judge me when I eat a cinnamon roll the size of my head. And my courage circle and other friends who reminded me of how much I am loved, of my real value, my truth worth. And my friends who gave me recommendations when I asked them for a kind and gentle therapist who works with dis-ordered eaters.

I can find and accept help, but more importantly I can trust myself.