Spirituality and Self-help

A LESSON IN LEARNING TO DISCONNECT

We all need to learn to take a day off and disconnect from work. A day free of checking work emails, scheduling meetings, and calling in for just one meeting (I swear. Just one. Fine, I’ll pop into the office for it. It’ll be easier that way. Oh, just let me quickly do that while I’m in the office too. Here, I got this too. Fuck it, I’ll just stay the whole day.) If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re probably far more well-adjusted than I am. You probably respect that whole “work-life balance” thing people talk about. You also probably skip around in fields while basking in the autumn sun beating down on your face at 5pm on a Wednesday. But for the rest of us who haven’t set boundaries—stop it. Seriously. We need to stop the insanity. Don’t you want to skip around in fields wh...

A YEAR OF RECOVERY, DISCOVERY AND VULNERABILITY: COPING WITH AN EATING DISORDER & ANXIETY AS A MEDICAL STUDENT

I sat down today to write my 277th entry in my “2016 Mindfulness Journal” after revisiting the other 276 entries this past week. My intention is to reflect on how I learned to love myself by articulating the complexity of my emotions from my story, the tools I used to help me get to where I am today, and the lessons I have learned along the way. There were some entries that I wondered, “did I actually write that? I don’t even know who that chick is anymore!”  There were some entries that evoked strong emotional responses both sorrow and joy.  When I finished, I felt liberated from that incessant voice that constantly shouts, “Do more, you are not enough. Once you reach x, you will be your happiest.”   Tool #1: Journaling: Take a moment to reflect, invest...

TIED TO A TREE

When my grandmother was extremely pregnant with my mom, she lived in a house that was very close to a busy street. She simply could not chase my uncle, who was three, at the time, but she was terrified he would run into the traffic passing by, before she could catch him. So she did what any parent would do, she protected him with what she had, which was a rope, and an oak tree. Yep, she tied him to a tree. I’m quite sure people driving by thought she’d lost her mind, and yes, today, we would be calling the police for child abused cruelty, but she was only doing everything possible to ensure her son was not in harms way, and she did what she could to protect him from danger. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt like life has, in fact, tied me to a tree. But I know i...

HOW ADJUSTING PRIORITIES CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE

I was an extreme dieter and over exerciser for ten years. During this time my priorities were pretty obvious; my looks, workouts, special meals and weigh ins took precedent over just about everything else in my life. My self-worth came from how I looked, what the number on the scale read and if I was able to get to the gym. There were so many missed social events, quiet moments with family and adventures that I missed all because I thought I needed to look a certain way to be worthy. This may seem extreme but if you’re a dieter you know that food and exercise can take over your head space and countless hours in the day. Like most dieters, eventually I burned out. I had an insanely difficult time getting myself to the gym, to eat one more plain chicken breast or to stay away from the cookie...

FINDING LIFE IN DEATH

Do you have a bucket list of adventures, plans, things you want to do or accomplish? Do you get excited about it, become the ‘woo hoo’ girl as your pencil proudly scratches it off your list? Yes, check, I did it-woo hoo! On to the next. Or are you the girl that dreams so vividly you can touch it, but almost immediately your inner chatter shuts you down with a quick witted “No way! You can’t do that. Are you serious, you?” Yep, that was me for the longest time. Now…My take on the whole thing…tell your inner chatter to shut the *@!* up, take a seat and watch what I can do! Here’s my story… March 27, 2015 my amazing mother passed away suddenly at a young age of 61; tore me apart. Over the days to come I cried, a lot! I reminisced, went through her belongings, thought about childhood memories,...

HOLI-NAY

It seems as if the words “holiday” and “food” are synonymous. Or at least that is how my poisoned little brain sees it. Cookies, candy, cake, chocolate; it is everywhere. And people appear to enjoy this. Well I most certainly do not, or at least did not. I am learning to. Although the past year has been one of self-love and discovery, I am and always will be an anorexic. No matter how strong my brain and body grows, those thoughts will always be there, folded up in the back of my mind like the clothes from last season that you tucked away, presuming that a warm day will not come where you are forced to go through the tumultuous effort of relocating and unboxing your spring clothes. However that does not mean they do not exist. Those floral t-shirts and maxi skirts are still very much alive...

TUNE MY HEART TO SING THY GRACE

“Get your feet off the table, young lady.” It was the first time I’d ever been in trouble with my grandpa.  I was four years old, and independent.  After being asked more than once by my mother to take my feet off the dining room table (during dinner), Papaw was fed up with my lack of listening skills.  He raised his voice at me and I looked wide-eyed at him in shock.  As the tears started welling up in my eyes, I looked around the table to see everyone else’s faces displaying the same shock as mine.  Papaw does not yell. I heard his voice loud and clear.  You better believe I never put my feet anywhere near that table again. Since that day, I’ve listened carefully to Papaw’s voice. His morning voice — between slurps of coffee, he’d count money from the family restaurant in a whisper...

THE 10TH CHRISTMAS

THE 10TH CHRISTMAS I grasp at the pieces, needing more limbs than my human body gives me. A piece here, there, drifting slowly apart in both deliberate and chaotic fashion. My family a cracked and broken thing and my home a vestige barely visible to the distracted people within its walls. A father was there, but not mentally or emotionally present. A younger sister was there nested in the couch, the television her only constant companion. An older sister was away with her husband and his family. A mother was gone, a memory, a topic carefully avoided. I was there-home from college for Christmas. Trying to keep the cracked broken thing from disintegration, attempting to conjure the vestige into a comfortable refuge, false, but enough for now. Enough to pretend that the holidays were the joyf...

SMASH YOUR HEART OUT – YOU’RE ONLY HUMAN

Have you ever read something or heard something that excited you so much it gave you goose bumps? That’s frisson. It catches me by surprise every time. I am reading something and falling deeper and deeper into the emotion of the text – there it appears – total body recognition of just how amazing it’s making me feel. We are all so complicated. So beautifully complicated. Harness has opened my eyes to that even more now than ever. And those goose bumps I only used to get during a good concert – come daily now. When someone takes their twisted, complicated, hurting soul and smashes it on the page for the world to see – it gives me chills. I get to be the first person to see a small sliver of someone’s heart and I feel an immense amount of gratitude every time. We walk around every day ...

ESCAPE

My dear friend went through this experience, and more too. This is a tiny snippet of her life as a teenager in California. Names and places have been changed. —– ESCAPE I am seventeen years old, and I am fleeing the country, the United States of America cannot protect me anymore. It is 3 a.m. I am creeping down the wooden stairs and praying the dogs do not hear me and wake my father, who will surely deliver a near-fatal blow if I am discovered. Don’t bark. Don’t bark. Don’t creak. Don’t breathe. The sliding door to the kitchen is cracked. I left it that way on purpose, last night. Otherwise, the alarms in place to keep me here will sound. God-willing, my foresight will prevent the telling “beep beep beep” of my coming and going. Only going now. With a one-way ticket to Copenhag...

300+ DAYS SOBER

300+ DAYS SOBER I haven’t had a drink since New Year’s Eve. Since 2015. It’s November 27, 2016. That’s 331 days. I have some friends who say they couldn’t go that long without a drink. Some friends shrug their shoulders and admit that they could give it up. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a drinking problem. Due to some health issues, it’s just something that I can’t have right now. I’m not against it but I don’t miss it. Here are some thoughts on what it’s like to not drink for 331 days: You start to enjoy other beverages. Things like nitro cold brew coffee or La Croix or just plain water (with lemon). You enjoy your food a bit more. When you aren’t sharing the spotlight with a cocktail, you really taste your food differently. It’s hard(er) to be social. It’s not that I can’t handle not...

CELEBRATE SELF

From family gatherings to holiday shopping the month of December is always a blur. The holidays are madness and we almost always forget to check in with ourselves. So for the next five weeks Harness will be your weekly “Celebrate Self” reminder. The best way to kick off a totally awesome holiday series is to start with Self-Love. What exactly is self-love? Well I am glad you asked. It’s completely different for every person. Some people practice self-love by exercising or shopping. Some by using positive affirmations in the morning, others by lying in bed and watching Netflix. Today, you will practice self-love by thanking yourself for these seven things: 1. Your hands. Yes, your hands. Every day you use them to work, to eat, to exercise, to express joy. They work so hard and are often ove...

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