September 7, 2016

the one where I decide to do whole30

I am quite possibly the least likely human to willingly start Whole30. Held at gunpoint? Maybe.  Otherwise it simply doesn’t make sense for me.

Let me give you a few reasons why.

Reason 1)I almost set my apartment building on fire this winter when I was making chili and left the ingredients boiling on high while I went to Target for an hour. I returned home to smoke alarms and other occupants evacuating.

Reason 2)This isn’t my first kitchen fire. I’m ashamed to say it’s not even my 5th or 6th. I’m an experienced oven arsonist.

Reason 3) Here’s some of my recent work with a pop tart.

As you can see, cooking isn’t in my skill set. Our pots and pans are a hodgepodge of misfits. We purchased our current frying pan at Sam’s Club while we were waiting on a new set of tires.  I think I have two of my mother in law’s clear pyrex dishes she sent home with us full of delicious food. You know that southern tradition- never return an empty dish? Yeah… (Sorry, Emmy!)

The rest are twelve year old wedding gifts so crusty from over a decade of mishaps and explosions that it’s a wonder we still use them. In fact, I was recently trying to brown ground turkey and realized the meat was full of metal. The metallic surface of the pan literally disintegrated and filled our meat with shrapnel. More alarming is that my first thought was, “Am I going to have to cook something else? Surely metal can’t make you that sick, right??”

I am a second generation don’t-cook-er. My mom didn’t/doesn’t cook and I have proudly carried on the family tradition. So how did someone with my culinary resume decide to begin Whole30? Two things. I’d become desperate, and I’d also recently befriended a chef.

When I say I’d become desperate, I’m speaking to both my physical and mental health.  Before starting Whole30 I was exhausted 24 hours a day.  When awake, I was complaining about fatigue. If I was asleep, it wasn’t without tossing and turning and bouts of insomnia. (If you’re even tired when you’re sleeping, there’s a problem.) Also my Diet Coke “situation” was rapidly progressing.(translation-I was taking in anywhere from 30-70 ounces of Diet Coke a day. A DAY!!) I was consistently anxious and was back to battling moderate to severe depression.

But the main reason I agreed to this seemingly nonsensical regimen is from a phrase I read on the Whole30 cookbook. The byline reads “The 30 Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom.” Food freedom. Those two words rolled around and around in my head, appealing yet utterly elusive. I haven’t had lasting freedom from (or with!) food since I was in early high school. I’ve had moments, even seasons of freedom, but I always fall back into a cycle of chaos. Or rigidity. Or one of the other many disordered habits I’ve developed along the way.

And to be honest, God has been talking to me about my food issues for some time now. This past year, I’ve lost count of how many times he’s dropped Whole30 in my path. One thing I’ve learned about God and his nature is that he never forces something on you.  He will invite you in to a work he wants to do, but until you decide to say yes, he simply waits. So we began this dance where he would move in and ask if I was ready for healing with food issues.  Then I’d practically shove my fingers in my years and begin to yell “na na na na na na” which translated as “NO WAY!” and I’d white knuckle my way through a few more weeks of restriction and then over indulgence and ultimately shame and self loathing. He'd ask again, I'd refuse. And on and on. However, in the past two months, every time I’d go to him with a question about depression or pain in my body, all I would hear back was “Are you ready for freedom?” In my experience, when God gets to a place that he responds to multiple questions with the same answer… it’s time to take him seriously.

So when Kristen (my chef friend) texted me one afternoon, “You and I are going to do Whole30 together.  We start Tuesday, so get ready!”, I said yes. Truthfully, I’d secretly been wanting to do it for months and months, but didn’t think I could possibly pull it off.  In fact, I’d already read the book and purchased the cook book.  Unfortunately I know what to do with a cook book about as much as I know how to wield a ninja star. Kristen assured me that I’d be just fine and she’d hold my hand along the way. “But will you cook for me?” I worried.  She just smiled and shook her head in a “you can DO this” sort of way.

I’m going to try and use the next few posts to keep you posted on my journey.  I’m pretty sure this goes without saying but I have ZERO medical training (aside from several summers binging on Dr. Phil reruns in college) so you shouldn’t take this as sound medical advice. It’s simply my personal experience. I’d love to hear if/how this resonates with you and your story! Thanks for being here.  Here's the book I mention above!

photo credit livehappy dot com


May 16, 2016


I’ve just recently come out of a funk.  If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety or depression, you’ll know what I mean by this.  My friend Robyn calls it my “black cave of darkness”.  She says watching me go in there is the hardest part of being friends with me (EDIT: I called and read this to Robyn tonight when I finished and she wants to go on record as saying “I never said it was HARD to be friends with you!”) But it is. I know it is. It’s because when I’m there, I don’t realize it.  I don’t know I’ve retreated again.  My brain has some sort of cave-amnesia until something happens and suddenly I jolt awake thinking, “Where am I? Why is it so dark in here?  What’s going on and where is my phone charger? OMG am I in a CAVE? OHHHH…. I did it again.  Crap.” I know this about myself.  I know the cave is there.  But, somehow, every time I journey into the nothingness, I’m surprised. I reemerge and CAN NOT believe I’ve been back in the cave again.
And I’ve been wanting to talk about the cave.  Because I know I’m not the only one.  And I’ve been praying, asking God to give me a picture of what it looks like when depression hits and what does He have to say about it all?

I was walking through an antique store this morning and ventured down the stairs to a lower level with double doors leading to a patio.  I heard the birds as soon as I reached the steps, but I didn’t see them until I rounded the corner.  There was a scuffle, a flutter of wings and I saw two birds fly away. And then there, amidst a dozen or so vintage glasses, I saw a tiny sparrow struggling to get free.  Somehow she’d fallen down the long, narrow channel of the tumbler and was straining to fly out.  As I looked at her, I saw myself so many times before. Panicked. Struggling. Unable to fly.  But surrounded by my flock.

I was so amazed at the other birds.  One stayed on the table, inches from her reach.  Two others hopped frantically on a shelf below and the rest flitted around the rafters of the musty basement.  All of them were chirping.  Each time she’d attempt to escape, she would become very very still, trying to muster up the energy she’d need for the fight.  And then she’d cry out in effort and fear and ultimately frustration, powerless to escape.  Yet, her flock looked on.  And the harder she struggled, the louder they became, shrieking and squawking and cheering her on.

Once I realized that she wouldn’t be able to get free on her own accord, I stepped in.  I picked up the glass and ever so slightly tipped it to the right, shifting gravity, tilting her tiny body.  It didn’t take much at all, maybe an inch.  That’s all she needed.  She shot out of the glass, her wings flapping awkwardly, and landed with a thud on the ground below.

Maybe that’s you today. Maybe you’re in the tribe.  Maybe it’s your friend or sister or mom stuck down in that glass.  Maybe you feel helpless watching them fight, wondering your role.  Listen to me, dear one. You have a big job. God Himself sings over us.  Zephaniah 3:17 says  “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” It is holy work, the staying and the singing. You may not be the one to tip the glass for her this time, but oh, how she needs you to stay.  Just stay with her.  And you can trust God to do his job.  To send a glass-tipper when it’s time.

Or maybe you’re the sparrow stuck in the glass.  Maybe you’ve given up on fighting.  You see the open air above you, but you just can't seem to get out.  And you’re tired.  So very tired. 

You don’t have to do this alone. Your tribe will not leave you. Can’t you hear them? They are calling out to you. While writing this, I was reminded of the verse in Matthew that says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  

Don’t you give up… Help is on the way. Someone is coming to tip your glass, to shift the things you cannot control and help you find your way.  I know it feels like you're here to stay, at the bottom of this smelly old glass.  But you aren't.  I promise.

She limped a bit at first, visibly tired and hindered by her time in confinement.  Her flock whooshed in though, flanking all sides, their tinny victory cries bouncing off the dusty glassware around us.  Then all of a sudden in one effortless motion, she shot into the air.  

She remembered she could fly.  
And I watched, as one by one, the other birds fell into formation behind her, and they all flew out the open doors into the dewy morning air.

March 10, 2016

take up your whole mat

I’ve recently started back to yoga.  And, yes, I am fully aware that any time I write about an athletic adventure, I am in the process of “starting back”.  That’s because I’m very talented at the quitting of the working out and not so skilled at the sticking to the working out.  Whatever.  Stop judging me.  

Anyway, yoga is the hardest physical endeavor I’ve ever participated in.  Why? Because in addition to moving and breathing (at the same time!!!) I also have to wrangle my brain.  And, I know you’re not inside to see the landscape, but let me just tell you… it’s a jungle in there!

I’m not an athletic person by nature.  Shocking, right?  I “played” volleyball in high school and the only recognition I ever received was “most improved” my freshman year.  Which, is interesting because I didn’t play my freshman year.  I had switched school systems and had to sit out a year before becoming eligible.  I practiced with the team, though and managed to hit people in the back of the head with the ball, rotate in the wrong direction and trip the setter on the regular.  I think they felt sorry for me and gave me the award when I learned how to get the ball over the net every once in a while.

My first day back to yoga was in the beginning of January.  January 2nd to be exact.  We’ve joined a fancy new gym that has it’s own studio and along with seventy two other New Year’s resolutioners, I grabbed a mat and found a place on the floor. It was so crowded in that room.  At one point, a limber, 40-something year old wearing the complete Lulu Lemon spring collection propped her leg on my shoulder to get a deeper stretch.  To my right was a gaggle of teenage girls.  I am not kidding you when I say they can wrap their arms around their feet two times.  Which, to be honest, they have an incredibly unfair advantage.  When you are only 14 years out of the uterus, you are still partially folded.  Talk to me in another twenty years, ladies.  

Anyway, my first class back was a disaster. I couldn’t clear my mind and I definitely couldn’t hold my downward dog. I can't even touch my toes for crying out loud! I would focus on breathing and forget to pose.  So I’d focus on the pose and realize I was holding my breath.  Hot mess.  I met up with a teacher a few days later in hopes of some guidance. She walked me through a few vinyasas (This is fancy yoga lingo for sequences.) and undoubtedly was fighting off hysterical laughter.  But, what she told me resonated so strongly with my heart that I just have to tell you.  

She said, “One thing you really need to work on is taking up your whole mat. Many women try and stay small and compact in yoga, but you’ve got an entire mat… take up every inch of your space.”

You guys! I just can’t believe how true that is.  I see this so much in my own life and those around me.  As women we try to be as small as we can, learning from childhood that tiny is attractive and acceptable. We try and whittle our physical bodies down often hurting ourselves and hurting the younger generations watching.  We try and lessen large personalities in hopes of fitting in.  “Be little, be quiet, don’t make waves” we’re told from pulpits and media and society at large.  But it’s a LIE! No one ever achieved greatness by hiding. True joy can’t be found if you’re focused on shrinking.  Plant your feet wide and fling your arms up towards the sky.  You’ve been given one beautiful life! Breathe it in deeply taking up EVERY INCH OF YOUR SPACE! Live big and wild and free! Oh, and if you see me in a yoga class, you should keep your distance.  I’m still a danger to those around me.