My ME-ness Is More Powerful Than a Wrinkle On My Forehead

There were three of us in the room Monday night at the eating disorder recovery center. Two students, plus me. Something about all our energies combined made for a very sweet vibration in the room that night. The electronic candles were scattered around the makeshift altar and I had soothing spa-like music playing on my Beats Pill.

The woman with the flowing grey hair wore a shirt with a radish on it. We started off the class in lighthearted banter talking about “trigger clothing” and how her radish (or turnip depending on how you looked at it) shirt managed to escape the search when she was first admitted to the center a couple months ago.

It escapes me what theme I gravitated to for this particular practice because what stands out so much is what it felt like to be in that room with them, and what happened after our class…

I taught them but I received so much. It felt effortless to guide the two women through a series of seated poses, to all fours, back to a seat, and finally to a restorative pose where they were able to luxuriate for over 10 minutes.

I closed the practice by giving them some reiki and felt extremely moved by both women’s willingness to be so open and vulnerable with me.

After I called them back to their bodies, the space, the breath, and the two sat up, one woman turned to the other woman and said:

“I have to say that you just looked so beautiful in that twisted pose,” as she emulated the flowing grey haired woman’s posture and demeanor.

She continued:

“You looked so confident and proud.”

“The next time I see you slouching around the house I’m going to remind you what you’re capable of,” she said with a laugh.

I refrained from any kind of commentary on this exchange I was fortunate to witness and just allowed it to happen, amazed for one by my student’s ability to see another woman with such high regard. To lift her up instead of compare.

The confident and proud woman RECEIVED the compliment with such grace and humility. She then in turn said how she’s going to sign up for yoga when she returns home. How it has changed her. How she now finds a new engagement and fascination with her own body and how it moves and works in a multitude of ways.

“Like if I move my right hip a little wider I feel stronger and then my shoulders can broaden,” she explained.

Oh my goddess I was in heaven just listening to this. I didn’t need to direct them. I didn’t need to insert my own feelings on the subject. These two women had learned so much, had grown leaps and bounds. I just watched them taking what they were learning and letting it rip!

Now I just have to keep believing that yoga has an incredible ability to support women in their path to recovery from eating disorders.

I’ve said this so many times before in earlier blog posts but … Yoga Healed Me.

Just a few weeks ago I found myself talking to a friend who is 4 years sober and found sobriety and recovery through the amount of time he spends outdoors: hiking, climbing, camping, you name it. I found myself thinking about how we all have such individual healing and recovery paths.

In those early years of recovery when I was at my worst I never went to treatment, barely spoke to a therapist (I can count – it was 3 sessions), and didn’t even tell a medical doctor about my bulimia until years after the worst was over.  

This isn’t to say these are not viable, successful options for recovery. It is my belief that they are.

For me though my path was, and still is, yoga. (It should be noted that in the 10 or so years since the worst of my eating disorder I have integrated therapy and life coaching among other healing modalities onto my path and I include this information in every health history I complete).

First yoga was about understanding my body better. Much like my dear student who found fascination with the movement of her hips, I started to love the way my body moved. I loved my thighs for how strong they were.

These days it keeps hitting me that my yoga practice has illuminated a path toward a deeper understanding of this:

I am not just my body or my cellulite or my round tummy. Nor am I just how well my clothes fit. I am not just my migraines. I am not just my relationship to food. I am not just my eating disorder. And, as much as my ego hates to admit it, I am not just my personality. My Maggie-ness, my ME-ness transcends AND encompasses all of that. My ME-ness is part of a universal energy that is so much larger and more powerful than a wrinkle on my forehead.

There is still an infinite amount of understanding and learning and knowing I have left to do. And because this is something that feels very big and infinite and scary and exciting, I’m going to pause. Let this marinade and … To be continued…

With Love,

Maggie

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I share my story because: HOPE

Wednesday night I arrived at the eating disorder recovery center 10 minutes early. I set up my electric candles, lit palo santo, and turned on soft music. We practice in one of the therapist’s office and it helps to have some items to spark the senses and shift the energy.

The house was full that night – 6 women, ages 19 to 58, and they were all in attendance for class. There was a buzzing energy. They seemed in good spirits. They seemed excited.

As they set up their mats and props the more outspoken women announced they were all on the same exercise level and informed me they could MOVE more. I nodded, said OK.

We talked about the day as we all settled in and took our seats. I had them take a deep breath, close their eyes, and asked for a one word check-in from each.

I heard:

Insecure…

Frustrated…

Numb…

Sick…

Excited…

And then I heard:
Maggie, last time you were here, you said you went through something [eating disorder]… it helped me a lot to hear that. Can you tell us more?

I felt like the librarian at story time. I opened my eyes and looked at her. I said of course.

I told them they could open their eyes if they liked. I told them I had an eating disorder. I told them it was serious 10 years ago. That was my bottom. I told them I never received formal or clinical help beyond a few visits to a therapist. I felt misunderstood. I only told my boyfriend at the time and best friend. I didn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone. I felt so much shame.

But, I said, I felt safe in one space. All the time. And that was in my yoga practice.

I told them recovery is not linear. That I had several setbacks. Not necessarily becoming bulimic again but severe anxiety, bouts with mild depression, and then most recently I started using excessive exercise to curtail my weight and had to put the brakes on endurance training and racing for a while until I could create homeostasis with that.

You see, I told them, recovery is not a one and done deal as I’m sure you know.

It’s a daily commitment to yourself. Letting go of the shame about my eating disorder was a huge part of recovery too. Being able to write about it and talk about it openly is part of recovery.

They nodded in agreement.

Another woman chimed in:

It’s so helpful to hear you say that and then to see you standing here in front of us. Like you’re using your story to help other people. You made it.

It gives us hope, she said.

I realized in that moment that for these women before me, hearing my story was as empowering if not more than learning any yoga pose. But what spending 10 minutes at the beginning of this class did for our asana practice was powerful. I saw more smiles, felt more energy, and gained more of their trust than ever before.

By being vulnerable, I instantly felt a deeper connection with these women. They knew I understood what it feels like to be in their shoes. They knew I understood shame. About my body and about my story. And they knew it was possible to move through it and beyond.

Leaving class Wednesday night I felt an exchange between myself and the 6 women. We gave each other incredible gifts. I gave them hope, and in return they listened, they lit up, and they reminded me to keep sharing my story. That I am on the right path. And I choose every day to keep on going.

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What I’ve learned so far from giving up endurance races this year…

If I were to recall my new year’s resolution for 2016, it would be this: “Do not sign up for any major race.” And by god, I’m doing it!

I’m writing this now (and not waiting for January 1) because it’s been over a year since my last race: Chicago Marathon on 10.11.15.

Not doing a big race this year seemed like such a weird goal for me, especially after 6 straight years of non-stop triathlons and half-marathons/marathons. I’ve honored my promise with myself though and here’s what I’ve noticed since setting this intention:

  1. Running is fun again. Running pretty much stopped being fun. My body felt like poop when I ran and it was all about the time/pace or how running balanced out/burned off the food I was eating.
  1. I’m moving my body in ways that truly fill me up. Like hiking or walking Daisy. Instead of moving/exercising out of obligation.
  1. I feel way less pressure to fit in exercise. And what’s the point of exercising if it doesn’t totally light me up?
  1. More time!!!! I noticed in the past year how much I would prioritize training over a hang out. Or over taking time to sit down and read a book. Or write. Or focus on my business. Or take a long bath. Or nap. Or meditate. Or do NOTHING.
  1. It’s gotten easier. At first friends asked me to sign up for this half-marathon or that Ironman… the endurance athlete bug in me lit up at the thought of it. I even tempted myself with an ultra [still am tempted…] But when I kept coming back to my WHY and was the WHY strong enough to compel me to ditch my intention and sign up for a race… the answer always came back to no. And after several months, turning down races started to feel like a YES. It felt like a yes to honoring my body in a new way.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with training for a race. In fact 95% of the races I’ve done have been some of the greatest days ever. Like Ironman Lake Placid, my first year doing NYC Triathlon, and Chicago Marathon. Whew. Amazing days!!! But for me I know that I need to be careful. Or … mindful. Last year, I recognized I needed to create a new pattern and redefine my relationship to running and races.

And so I took a year to pause and notice. Even as I write this, I notice that in the process of letting go of my attachment to being “an endurance athlete” I also let go of a few other attachments (things/beliefs/people/relationships) that just simply did not serve me.

I’m still toying with the idea of one day jumping back on the endurance bandwagon [my heart is still set on an ultra-marathon] … but my approach is slower and much more intentional than ever before.

Why I’m not doing any big races in 2016 – Original blog post from January

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I remember…

I remember..

Ballet class.

And trying to squeeze into my pink tights and black leotard.

I remember…

How the tights made an impression around my belly, that no leotard, skirt, or dance shorts could hide. To my great disappointment.

I remember sucking in my stomach because I believed having any kind of belly made me overweight and therefor “bad.”

I worried that I was the biggest girl in class.

I remember comparing myself to the other girls.

I wished I had slimmer, streamlined bodies like theirs.

I remember looking in the mirror and seeing a flailing mess of a 10 year old girl.

And when I think back to this girl who hated the sight of herself so much, I give her a soft pat on the back and a giant hug. I tell her she is enough, exactly as she is. Smart enough. Strong enough. Beautiful enough.

I tell her it’s ok to have the extra cookie at snack time. She’ll grow into her body and one day look back at photos of herself and be amazed by what a dancing fool she was!

I tell the 10 year old version of me that one day she won’t care about doing sit-ups or eliminating all the fat from her body. And that it’s gonna feel so freeing!

And she’s going to look to other women for support and inspiration, instead of comparing herself.

This is a small part of my story. And I can’t help but think, some of it might resonate with you. Or your children. It’s why I created my Raising Role Models program.

Where we, as adults, provide the best opportunity possible for the children and youth in our lives to grow up with self-esteem and healthy body image.

Please take a look at the mini training I put together. In it I offer 3 shifts you can make TODAY, on your own that will shift not only your own body image, but also your child’s.

Click here to watch my Raising Role Models video.

And if you’d like to learn a little more, I encourage you to sign up for a free call with me this week by clicking the link below.

Click here for your free call with me.

With love, always,
MC

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What is the purpose of our deepest emotions?

Our deepest and darkest emotions are not merely to put us in an everlasting state of sadness.

How many times have you experienced pain only to ask: Why? Or … Why me?

We don’t experience pain simply for pain’s sake.

Osho explains this concept very eloquently:

This pain is not to make you sad, remember this is where people go on missing… this pain is just to make you more alert – because people become alert only when the arrow goes deep into their heart and wounds them.

Take a moment and consider the moments in your life that have really moved you. Pushed you forward on your journey.

It might have been the end of a relationship, a death, a betrayal, or financial struggle.

But what happens when the arrow pierces us deeply in our heart?

If we are open to it, we become more alert and wake up to the world around us and the gifts the universe has in store for us.

We make decisions based on what will truly serve us, help us heal, shift us away from unhealthy patterns.

And sometimes we do need the arrow to go deep to become more alert. Sometimes we do need the wound to wake up.

When we are more alert we become connected to our truth instead of our ego.

And when we connect with truth over ego, our slate gets wiped clean and we see things more clearly. Our path is less clouded by the weeds of distractions and priorities come into alignment.

So the next time you are confronted with pain, or even discomfort, sit with it and see where it takes you. Allow it to wake you up to something perhaps you’ve never truly seen before.

May our learning never end.

With Great Love,
MC

PS. Click here if you’d like to schedule a discovery call with me. I’ve got time slots blocked out for the next week or so and would love to connect one-on-one with you.

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Opening Up About My Experience in Relationships

This morning I woke up feeling shitty.
Migraine and broken hearted.
Not just over my most recent split, but all of them.
There is a voice in me saying – come clean.
You’ve hidden all of this for far too long to keep it up and put on a brave face.
My heart is full of scars that have not fully healed and it’s coming to a head.

All of it.
The men. The relationships.
The stories I’ve clung to that have built up resentment.
The roles I not only played but also identified with.

Whenever a relationship took a turn for the worse, I’d turn to food or controlling my appearance somehow [running, over-exercising, or dieting].
I focused on: how do I control?
Instead of: How do I leave room to heal?
It was always brush it under the rug.
Drop them. Drop him.
Let him go.

Well, I did let him go. Every time.
Maybe a little too much.
I moved right on to the next one. Without a second thought.

But the residual pain clung tightly – wrapped around my heart.
Tighter and tighter as time passed.

And it brings me to right now.
Piles of relationships and breakups never fully processed.
All of the pain is coming to the surface.

I bounce from one memory to the next in my dreams and in meditation.
Uncovering decisions I make now that are based on past experiences.
Not always proud of the way I treated people.
Often wishing I’d let myself be single and process.
And witnessing the shame I feel about not processing these break-ups the “right way.”

Now I’m processing them in my way.
On my terms.
In my own time.
I’m giving these experiences the attention they deserved.
Maybe they should have received this attention years ago.
But I’m here now and doing the best I can.

I’m grateful that something in my last relationship called this to my attention.
Maybe because of the mild depression I felt in the springtime.
A clear indication that there was pain that had not been dealt with.
Maybe because I started finding my voice and stepping into my power.
For the first time clearly articulating my deepest desires.

This is not easy stuff to share.
The easy way would be to brush it under the rug and keep the notes in my journal and tell the world “I’m fine.”
The more difficult path is doing this: share.
Share and tell my truth.
Stop withholding from the world and from myself.

Because … Why on earth would we ever cover up any parts of ourselves?

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Caring for the cracks in my heart

Sometimes I feel like I just keep banging my head against the wall.

I make the same mistake over and over again and wonder how many times until I get it?

Until I stop?

Until something changes?

Maybe the change has to first be my mindset.

Where I understand the mistakes to take on a new meaning.

These mistakes are actually lessons.

The lessons test, and often break, my heart.

And in the end they make me more resilient.

My recovery time gets shorter.

Maybe they are lessons to grieve past trauma I’ve buried deep.

Because we can’t truly heal unless we go through a grieving process…

Unless we feel all the feels.

Process all the things.

And digest.

Assimilate.

The heart gets cracked open each time I am vulnerable.

And the way to mend the cracks [and make them stronger] is through love and taking care of myself.

It is in this way that I can be of service to those closest to me and to this world.

If I don’t tend to and care for the cracks, I cannot serve from a place of deep love and compassion.

I know I’m here to serve, so I’m going to continue caring for the cracks.

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This is hard to share… [But allows me to step into my power]

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I hate what I see.

Like when I’m naked after a shower. I’ll wonder why I wasn’t born with perfectly toned arms. And why did god give me such soft cushioning around my hips?

Thankfully this is the exception now rather than the rule.

I consider it residue from my eating disorder.

I consider it residue from years of hating and bashing my own body.

For as long as I can remember {we are talking 5 years old here} I’ve been aware of my little belly – this little pooch – and was obsessed with “how do I get rid of it?”

Before I understood how a woman got pregnant, there was a time when I’d worry my belly contained a baby in it. {Maybe only 9 years old at this point.} I felt relieved for a while, knowing it would probably just go away.

When I learned what crunches were and that they’d give me washboard abs like the women on MTV’s Spring Break, I counted crunches. And then always wondered why nothing was changing…

I snuck cookies from the cookie jar and then felt overwhelmed by immense guilt and tried to eat more carrot and celery sticks to make up for it. Especially since I learned you burned more calories chewing celery than you could consume from them … something like that…
One of the only full length mirrors in our house growing up was in my parent’s bathroom and I vividly remember tracking my progress. Standing sideways as I looked in the mirror, flattening my tummy until I achieved the look I was going for. Flat as a pancake.

I was determined to one day get there.

So determined that my negative body image and horrible relationship to food spiraled into a full on eating disorder in college. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sticking my finger down my throat, making myself puke into a dorm room toilet. I did this for years and one day someone told me “take it one day at a time” – after this I was on the path to recovery.

It took a while and many ups and downs and exploration of self. And more pain. But once I jumped on the path I have never looked back. I only see glimpses of the residue my eating disorder left behind. The moments when I look in the mirror and for a second step out of my power.

And now when I sit down with other women who tell me they too had an eating disorder and that THEY TOO hid it from most people closest to them my heart simultaneously aches AND feels joy.

I ache for the fact that they went through the pain alone. They blamed themselves for everything. They sought control through food and exercise.

The joy comes from knowing the relief that accompanies sharing. When we share our stories of struggle, grief, and pain we unburden ourselves of shame.

It’s because I let go of shame about my body that I can stand in front of myself in the mirror and say “hell yeah!” to my body. I can embrace my little belly and the cushion around my hips.

So what’s your body image story? What are you carrying with you that is creating blocks from seeing your own light? From saying “HELL YEAH!”?

If you feel like sharing, I have time this week and would love to listen and guide you toward releasing body shame. Click below to set up your free discovery call.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

Here’s to stepping into your power,

Maggie

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It’s OK To Want These Things… {Just Please Be Kind}

It’s OK if you want to lose weight…

So long as you do it from a place of loving yourself. Where you are losing weight primarily for your health and to look great because you know you deserve it. You’ve gotta accept yourself as you are first for the real change and growing to occur. Otherwise you’ll always feel like you’re not enough.

It’s OK if you want to get in great shape…

Because you want to show your body how much you honor it instead of punish it. And because of you – no one else: no man, woman, or group in society can tell you how you are supposed to look. Get in great shape for YOU and you alone.

It’s OK if you want to lay off carbs, alcohol, or sugar for a while…

But be sure you are not depriving yourself of enjoying the things you love. Be sure this is not a way to torture yourself because you feel you’ve done something “bad.”

It’s OK if you want to exercise daily…

Just know that when you move mindfully, this can have a powerful impact on your body and your energetic vibration. And when we exercise out of obligation, we end up feeling worse – physically and spiritually. Please make exercise a practice about loving your body not hating it.

It’s OK if you feel crappy about how you look sometimes…

We all have our moments. But remember to source your inner power. Remember a time you were strong and made it through something. Re-live it. Feel it all over again. You’ll be amazed at how powerful and beautiful it makes you feel.

I share these thoughts with you because, I know we all need a little nudge sometimes. We all need reminders to lift ourselves up. And sometimes, often times, we do need accountability and support from one another. If you’d like to chat this week, click the link below to set up your free discovery call.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

 

 

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When things don’t go the way you want…

On the way to meditation this morning, I got a flat tire. And a wake-up call.

I left my house expecting “create more calm” and ended up having a scattered, stressful morning.

Just as I turned into the parking lot I heard a loud pop and felt the tire go out.

I had enough time to pull into a parking spot and dig in my bag for my Triple A card. I started to dial.

I needed to get this fixed. I believed:

-I was being punished.
-I had done something wrong (like eat flatbread the night before) to deserve this.
-This horrible, frustrating thing was happening TO me.

It took a moment but I put my phone down. Left my car with the flat tire in the parking lot, and walked into meditation.

The meditation was all about how powerful it is to STAY. Especially when we are in an uncomfortable situation.

The flat tire was a perfect example. I stayed.

My first reaction to the flat tire related back to my belief of: “I am always in trouble.” Here I was doing penance for my bad actions:

-Eating a “bad” food
-Getting softer around my midsection
-Not being as diligent with my exercise schedule lately or…
-Not being as kind as I could have when breaking up with an ex-boyfriend

I noticed this belief of always being in trouble { I’m in the process of shifting} reared it’s ugly head when I got a flat tire.

It hit me: the flat tire was NOT the universe’s way of punishing me.

Instead it was the universe’s way of teaching me how to stay, stop, and slow down. And see things for what they really are:

-Just a flat tire.
-Just a decadent meal.
-Just doing my best in a break-up.

These things are neither good nor bad. They simply are.

The fact that I’ve gained a bit more softness to my figure lately has nothing to do with how good or bad I am. It has nothing to do with my self-worth!

So … I stepped into this morning expecting calm, cool, and serenity.

And what I got was a jolt.

I got another wake-up call to keep building the muscle of body love and body awareness.

This morning did not go the way I wanted. It was uncomfortable, frustrating, and scattered. But as I waded through the messy morning muck, I stumbled upon a clearing, and a deeper connection with my deeper self.

My higher self, being, soul … ached because I was judging my evolving body. My soul needed love and compassion. So I gave it just that, went home, and entered back into my meditation.

So you see, when you go through a hard time – whether it be a flat tire or a life changing event – there is always, ALWAYS, a breakthrough on the other side.

And it’s in these instances where we must remember:

You are not being punished.

These instances give us opportunity to dig up what no longer serves us and make space for new:

-love
-growth
-awareness
-dreams

You must get out there and STAY when things get uncomfortable or messy or scattered. There is so much power in our ability to stay.

It can be hard to stay and often we need support when life feels messy. I’d love to chat with you to show you how.

http://www.maggieconverse.com/apply

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