The universal female affliction 

I had the pleasure of being a part of a women’s group called “Sacred Sisterhood” for 8 weeks. It was so special. I got to meet some beautiful women with whom I wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise, and I am so grateful. I got slow down and hear their stories and really learn some things from them. One of the topics we discussed was our relationship with our bodies and food. Our “homework” assignment that week was to stand in front of a mirror naked and journal about it. 

I know this sounds crazy! To even participate in this activity at all, and then to post the poem online for the whole internet to read? 

(And I also excuse anyone from reading this, like my dad or brothers, who might be bummed out by my frankness. I won’t be offended if you’d rather pass on this blog post! Lol)  

I’ve thought a lot about it and decided that in the spirit of “keepin it real”, this poem must be shared. I have been on a weight loss journey for years now. Lost 75 pounds, gained fitness and endurance. My relationship with my body is finally changing. I was ready to accept the challenge! But, the craziest thing I’ve learned on this whole journey is that so many women I’ve admired for their beauty or assumed had it easy because of their looks or bodies are suffering just as much (if not more!) than I was, under the curse of self loathing. As I continue to learn to love myself and this body I’ve got, the more my heart breaks for women all around me who don’t SEE how wonderful and beautiful they really are. It truly is the universal female affliction.  

I could definitely look in the mirror naked and see a whole list of things that are gross. My body is never going to be “bikini ready” but it’s mine and it has served me well, especially under years of abuse. I choose instead, to see myself in a different way. The way I hope my daughter chooses to see herself someday and all of you, my brilliant friends and sisters. Look beyond what’s in the mirror.  
This poem is dedicated to my yurt girls!! 😝😍

My body is heavy shades of pinks and whites.
Freckled with brief moments under the sun. 
It hangs heavy with all of my apologies and best intentions.
This suit has always suited me, though I’ve never taken the time to have it tailored, taken in, worked on. 

Only now, as the softness has begun to melt and shrink have my muscles and backbone hardened enough for me to see the point.

My feet, through electric pain, have carried the weight of all of my worlds. Blistered and swollen, they still serve me. 

My legs are pillars of blood, fat and bones that keep me standing tall. 
Though, they have been wrapped under heavy blankets of depression and laziness. 
But, have also been wrapped around love, between sheets.  

Sweaty, sexy and strong. 
 They have trudged through every one of my unknowns. 

My hips are barely trying to emerge. Still hiding.
But when I’m not paying attention, they surprise me with a glimpse of a womanhood I thought girls like me weren’t allowed to enjoy.

My stomach, soft and ribboned with stretch marks, still large in mass.  

You see, it’s taken a long time to store up all of the fears and burdens I’ve pretended not to have.  
But oh…I’m learning to let them go,

and now appreciating how it has ached with hearty laughter. 

Felt the butterflies of new love and excitement.  
And, carried the joy of two healthy, beautiful babies. It gave them shelter, safety and warmth.  

My breasts fed them and have also fed me…the confidence I would need to survive my own nakedness. 
When all else failed, there they were to remind me of my power as a woman. 

My arms have held my husband close, my children, and loved ones while also holding me together in dark closets crying out to God. 
Always gathering, 
always carrying,
all of my strength to wear all of my hats. 

My hands have played songs, 

written poems, 

made meals, 

  They have been raised as high I as could reach outside the window of a rushing car, just to feel the wind.  
I used to see nothing but flaws, failures and disgust. 
Now, I only see gratitude.  


New landscapes

There is much to be said about clutter and disorganization in your home having a direct correlation to your physical and mental health.  The internet is ripe with articles and testimonials about this phenomenon. Today, I was sitting in my backyard trying to have a clear and meditative moment when I decided that this was true.

My back yard looks like a desert wasteland.  You almost expect to see Mel Gibson dressed as Mad Max come walking around the corner of the house, covered with dust and scouring the land for supplies.  It’s embarrassing.   My husband and I joke about this to our friends but it is mostly to cover up the shame we both feel about having let it all go back there.  We have kids and a dog and Game of Thrones, obviously making yard work low on our priority list.  Its more like we warn people before they peek out the window.  We care about what our space and habitat looks like because it says a lot about who we are.  We are FAR from fancy but we try to make a good impression by sprucing and cleaning.  We want anyone who comes into our home to feel comfortable and welcome.  The success of Pinterest proves that we are a generation obsessed with cheap and easy DIY fixes for the home. We want to paint and spruce and decorate so that we feel “acceptable”.

It’s not that different from how we dress ourselves.   We primp and fuss with our hair and makeup, especially if we have somewhere special to be.  Clothes, shoes, bags and other accessories.  Women are known for paying attention to detail.  Lots of men are just as fussy about the way they look as us ladies are.  It’s just a necessary evil right?  We spend so much time showering, sugar scrubbing, shaving, lotioning and dressing.  Brushing, curling, straightening and spraying.  Blending, concealing, highlighting, and glossing.  Finally, we look in the mirror and survey if we are ready to leave the house.  Are we acceptable to be seen?  To step out in the marketplace and participate in life?   Even though these painted versions of ourselves aren’t truly who we are, they make us feel good enough about ourselves to go ahead and try.  We head out the door to conquer our day and the first time someone tells us we look nice we immediately say,”NOOOOOOOOOOOO.  No I don’t, I’m gross. But thank you.”  We mustn’t believe anyone when they actually compliment us, right?

If you busted your ass gutting out your back yard and pulling weeds and planting new sod you wouldn’t dismiss someone telling you how great it looked!  Why?!  Because you KNOW IT LOOKS GOOD GURRRL.  YOU WORKED HARD! It paid of and now you can take a deep breath, open a cold bottle of beer and enjoy.  Doesn’t that feel good?  To have gratitude for a nice space to sit and make memories in?  What in THE WORLD would happen if we treated our bodies the same way?  Like a sacred space, to enjoy sitting in and making memories with?

Looking around my yard and then my home I realized that in the same way I had kind of given up on my appearance because of not feeling good about myself…I had kind of done the same to my space.   Why has this evaded me?  Has there just been a massive point of no return?  Where I have given up caring about not only my body and how I can dress it…but it seems also my home and yard with it?

What would happen if I gave up fighting with myself this summer about how much I weigh, how I look or what im gonna wear and devoted all of that energy instead to rolling up my sleeves and cleaning up and fussing on this home that I have been graciously given?  What if my physical, emotional and spiritual self transformed in direct correlation to my feeling good about my living space as it had the other way around?

Am I crazy?


One day at a time

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
― Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

Hunger is a complicated word for me.
I read this morning that most people who struggle with food addiction and compulsive eating should stop and ask themselves “what they are truly hungry for” before they move forward into a binge…that those who suffer from this sort of disordered eating often always feel hungry in place of whatever emotion it is they should be more appropriately feeling. Instead of feeling anger or sadness in full it most likely ends up feeling like you’re hungry. Learning at a young age to use “filling” up on food to manage complex emotions. Treatment plans to reverse this kind of compulsive behavior start with STOPING and checking in with yourself before you proceed. This discipline is HARD but one I am trying to work on.

I hope that this place God has called me to will lead me a deep gladness. To find gladness in the midst of my struggle seems only to be possible with God. Despite all my doubting I still feel deep down that what I’m enduring will not be in vain…someday I hope it brings help and healing to someone else, or meet the worlds deep hunger in a meaningful way. This makes me hopeful!

Out of some frustration this morning I wrote a prayer poem:

I’ve been hungry for calm.
Ravenous for comfort.

Today, I’m hungry for change.
Hungry for hope that lasts beyond a whispered prayer in the morning.
Hungry for peace and rest,
freedom from my mess.

I’m hungry for energy bursting and pumping through my veins.
For true confidence that unfolds from within like a fine crafted flower.
Hungry for such beauty, effortless and free.
Hunger that seems unattainable to me.

I’m hungry for longings to be true,
to see things all the way through.

Hungry for being understood.
Fully listened to before corrected.
Hungry for acceptance.
Hungry for approval.
Haven’t I been loyal?
Hungry for removal…

From the lies of these hunger pangs that aren’t real.
Lord, I know you can heal.

“‘For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…’ Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry’” (John 6:33, 35a).

Origins of a people pleaser

My fourth grade teacher was this large woman with a bouffant hairdo and plaid shirts. She carried herself like a man. Bold. Like a no-nonsense BOSS.
Mrs. Voskuil was tough and mean and hilarious. She was known for her “Texas fly-swatter” that she would slam down on your desk at any given moment if you should be so unlucky to be lured into a side conversation with a pal or at the very worst, to fall asleep. It’s swatter was the size of a dinner plate and when it met the smooth top of a desk it would radiate with a sharp “WHACK” that would leave even the sassiest of kids shaking in their L.A. Gears. The laughter that ensued from your classmates would have been salt on the wound, making the whole scene unbearable. The last thing any of us ever wanted was to be the reason for the Texas fly swatter coming off the hook on the wall.
Besides her disciplinary measures, one of the other stand out memories from being in her class was she and her husband had traveled the world. She had endless slides (!) from places like Denmark and Germany and China. It was wistful but boring. Looking back, I can appreciate all of the time it took to put that all together and share with us all she had gleaned from her adventures. I don’t think she had children of her own. I remember her talking a lot about her dogs.
I didn’t really do well in her class. I’ve been a terrible student most of my life. I never had good grades. I was always more concerned with the social happenings around me than to trouble myself with things like school work, homework or generally anything “official” going on. I used to cause a lot of trouble and be a bit of a dramatic kid ( hard to believe, right?). Spent a lot of time in the counselors office talking about my feelings.
Fourth grade was the year I became a published author! I wrote a poem about how much I hated math, and it was put into a collection of children’s poems.
It was also the year I stole something for the first time. It was a sterling silver bracelet from Montgomery Ward’s that I put in my neon parka while out Christmas shopping with my step mom. I wore it silently under long sleeve shirts. I loved how heavy and fancy it felt. I loved the secret and scandal of it all. Until my cousin Maria saw it two weeks later at my Grandpa’s funeral and asked me where I got it from (I never have been good at concealing my facial expressions). I got in HUGE trouble. One, for making trouble at my grandfathers funeral, two for shop lifting. Had to take it back and have a big embarrassing apology moment with some stern lady sitting opposite of me in a back room at the store. I was mortified.

Shame was born.

I could list a zillion reasons why I was a bad kid. They’d probably be psychologically sound and true. It would be a long list filled with words like, “divorced”, “remarried”, or “not in the picture”. “Jealous”, “spoiled”, “handful”, “manipulating” and “brat”.
But the truth that I heard whispered about me was that I was a “difficult pain in the ass”.
Even though the exact words weren’t said, it was communicated that I was a burden. A source of agitation. A disappointment. A screw up.

I started to believe those words.

I still do.

Except for now, instead of just being naughty I try really hard to please everyone around me. I go above and beyond to make people like me and accept me. I am fiercely loyal, sometimes to a fault…because I am desperate for the same loyalty back to me in return. The last thing I ever want to do is disappoint my family or friends.
Disappointment always leads to shame and shame must be quieted so it doesn’t crumble you to pieces. This cycle of thinking has been slowly killing me. Literally.

This week I’ve been trying to dig up the roots of my confidence…or lack there of. I came upon my old memories of Mrs.Voskuil. Not because of the funny fly swatter or dreamy slide shows. It was because later on, when I was in high school I would go visit her in her classroom.
( You can’t do this anymore I imagine?) I would get out of school and have to wait around for 30 minutes or so for my siblings to get out of school so we could all walk home. I would go to her class to kill the time and she welcomed the opportunity to encourage me. She began to entrust me with correcting worksheets and spelling tests. I felt important with that red marker, official even. After a few weeks she let me stand in the front of the class and lead a word game she would play with her kids to gobble up those last antsy minutes before the bell rings. I felt like a champion. Those kids started to look up to me and I was proud of myself.
She made me feel like I could actually inspire and teach one day. I started to believe her.
Sadly, I stopped going. I found more alluring ways to spend my free minutes. The cycle resumed.
Spending the rest of my high school career grasping at whatever might bring me love without conditions. Love that wouldn’t expire or reject me. Trying desperately to quiet the negative words that usually followed my name. Being a teenager really sucks.
Eventually, I found this kind of TRUE love in my faith.
But sometimes my old belief system keeps me from fully believing…robbing me of true confidence. Keeping me from being who I am meant to be…and thriving in it. I have to continue to press forward, even if it feels stagnant. I know I’m not there yet, but that’s where I’m headed.

In the meantime, take a moment to appreciate some unsung heroes from your own history. It did my heart good to remember ol’ Mrs.Voskuil and her bouffant hair. Wherever you are, I salute you!

Let’s dig deeper?


“Confidence is the only key. I know a lot of people who aren’t traditionally ‘beautiful’ — not symmetrical or perfect-bodied or perfect-skinned. But none of that matters because all that shines through is their confidence, humor and comfort with themselves. I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.” –Emma Stone

Unafraid to be herself?

When I read this quote it really struck me. I love Emma Stone. She is so cute and funny, it seemed perfect that she was the one who had said these words. This in fact is the one thing almost everyone agrees is the single thing that is attractive in another human being. Seemingly, not directly based directly on how someone looks. Is confidence REALLY the key?

What about the very fine line between confidence and arrogance? When is it genuine vs. put on? How do we learn these things, then teach them to our kids?


I guess today I’m not writing a blog post as much as I feel I might be researching for a juicy one!

What makes you feel confident?

Is there a time when your confidence was shining through?

How do we gain this?

What are your thoughts??


Water weight

I don’t know any large people who enjoy summer.

I make a genuine attempt but it might be in vain.

For most of us, there is the issue of clothing. Some people are trapped in long shirts and pants all summer long because they don’t feel comfortable enough to wear shorts (luckily for me, I have no shame when it comes to this and wear shorts despite the way my legs look. I choose comfort!). This is problematic because of sweating and general discomfort. Also, shorts require shaved legs…this can be quite the arobic activity. Figure that one out.

With big heavy clothes covering a big heavy body you become a walking furnace…beading constantly with sweat. Any attempts at fixing hair or make-up is futile. All efforts are guaranteed to melt away. A fat woman in the summer lives in a constant dampened state where her hair and face are in danger of becoming a frizzy and smeared mess. Making dressing up for a date night or wedding a nightmare to be avoided at all costs.

Then there is the bathing suit dilemma…this seems to be a hot button issue for all human beings but particularly for the over-weight person. Is there anything more exposing than what you wear to go swimming? I’m of the t-shirt/sports-bra/cotton shorts camp. It “suits” me well. (Yikes! I couldn’t help myself.)

Summer isn’t ALL bad !? There is the upside of summer fruit. I love the endless options of ice cold watermelon, berries, pineapple, grapes…WHATEVER. I love them all. I buy so much fruit in the summer I feel like a roman empress. It’s almost shameful.

But there is something very magical that happens in the life of every over-weight person in the summer (if they are comfortable enough to allow themselves to GET IN and enjoy it). A single activity that we can participate in during the HOT summer months that allows the body to feel free and light.

Swimming. It is glorious.

I have spent the weekend swimming with my husband and siblings and playing non-stop with my kids.
Our skin is tight, toasted and freckled from the sun.
Our eyes are tender, recovering from all the chlorine exposure.
Our hair is a mess of tangles.
Our sleep has been deep. The kind of sweet sleep that only comes from very hard work or play.

Summer for this family is in full swing. Despite spending another summer being big…feeling miserably hot and sweaty I want to make the most of it. I want to have all my weekends leaving me feeling this abundantly full and blessed. Drowsy from fun with loved ones. Laughing and playing.

So often, I am watching them and cheering on from the sidelines…so when I get to be in the pool with them, I feel like the best mother in America. Like I get to make up for all the other times I’m not able to.

I can feel and bend and maneuver myself in ways that are near impossible outside of the water. It brings so much relief. An escape, albeit short-lived, from bearing the literal weight of myself.

Now, back to the Monday morning grind…learning how to unload the weight of my figurative self. I wish it were as easy as slipping into a pool of cool water.

From the mouths of babes…


Yesterday I was informed that an article I was interviewed for was published. This is supposed to be GOOD news right? I found myself with a mixture of emotions.
My husband insisted that we pick up actual copies. Reluctantly I surrendered. He came home with the newspapers and I was nervous as I picked one up to flip to the story I was a part of.
Stopped immediately to notice a thumbnail photo of me standing between the other two ladies was on the COVER.
Heart sinking.
Flipping to the feature, I was met with a large, round familiar face staring up at me from the pages. The article is huge. Which should be a celebration. Two pages filled with wonderful content about the workshop I got to be part of and even a little shout out to my blog. All of this new, fresh and exciting to which I exclaimed,” Ugh. Nasty.”
My husband rolled his eyes. He is used to my self abuse.
But then something worse happened.
My son came up to me from the other room with his eyes fixed on my picture on the paper page and yelled,” Wow! My mommy is on a magazine! Why is it nasty mom?”


What is wrong with me?!

I pulled myself together and smoothed it over so that he didn’t know that I was referring to my picture. I wanted to let him be proud of me. That is an appropriate response. I am the one who is sick and insecure. I wrestled with it all night. Back and fourth. Imagining the comments that might be said when people look upon my picture. Kind of regretting ever have posing for it. Praying to just go ahead and let what is, be.

I woke up this morning and I BELIEVE God put this blog post on my news feed. It speaks for itself…PLEASE READ. It says everything.


What if?

“What if you have a genuine and captivating beauty that is marred only by your striving?”
― Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

“The original, shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out all the other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather”
― Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
– 1 Peter 3:4 ESV

It hasn’t ceased to amaze me since starting this blogging project the depth of how disfigured we ALL see ourselves and the beauty God has given us. Mind blowing for to me to hear self loathing from the lips of women who I would define as having the mind, body and beauty of some sort of glimmering goddess… coupled with a heart just as golden. We can see it so plainly in each other, but when we are in front of a mirror we are stung by the familiar disappointment of not measuring up. Each of us plagued by whatever standard it is we are seeking. I used to think this was only something that my chubby “kind” and I experienced. Like the lovely and super well dressed of the world were exempt. Now I know better.

What if for one wild moment we set aside all the striving?

What if we set aside the masks?

The endless effort and exhaustion in trying?

What if we embraced that hidden person of the heart that God sees?

What if we did, and we were as kind and encouraging to her as we are to our best friends and sisters?

Seeing the best in her, despite her flaws?

What would happen if we could make a truce with ourselves and live in peace?

Freeing up our minds and hearts to love deeper and serve well because we are no longer chained to trying to somehow make ourselves acceptable?

Knowing that that fight has already been fought and won…believing in and resting in our rescue.

What if all of these faults we see could be seen instead as marks of our humanity?

Defects and all…
Pimples and moles.
Round bellies and dimpled thighs.
Hairs, skin and freckles.
Fat and bones.
Fingers and toes.
Full smiles despite how we feel about our teeth.
Loud and hearty laughs and strong opinions despite putting people off.
Standing up for justice as you see it when everyone else disagrees.
Staying silent despite the roars of the crowd because it is right.
Gifts and talents that would be uncovered or recovered and put to proper use.

Beautiful life lived fully.

God is in the details.

Today I am back to the beauty grind. Back to focusing on my task of accepting myself the way I am right this minute and also pressing forward to the change I deserve. Now, how does that work?!

Digging up the roots of these beauty beliefs and myths has been a labor of love. For myself, but also in the time spent with women in this discussion.

So far I’ve learned that at our core, not many of us can see ourselves as beautiful. No matter what our physical appearance yields, this fractured part of our hearts we all seem to share. The longing to be beautiful and lovely…and not often ever really feeling it. I’ve also discovered that our experiences growing up shape how we beautify ourselves. What we learn, the how-to’s and fashion do’s and dont’s. All the way to the other end of the spectrum of rejecting beauty stuff completely. The answers seems to lie in what was allowed and welcomed in our girlhood.

When asked if you were encouraged or allowed to indulge your girliness as a kid the answers were all over the map, but each one specifically was linked to how the woman saw herself now in present day. The confident and comfortable mostly had experiences of freedom as children. Left alone to play and dress up as they wished. Others who had been forced to be an extreme of either super, hyper girly or tough and rejecting the whole thing, seemed to be caught in this trap of never truly being at rest. Never at ease in their own skin. Struggling to find comfort and confidence.

This is an important finding to me as the mother of a four year old daughter. I can confess that the temptation to try and mold her to be all that I can’t be is constantly hovering. I don’t want her to experience the things I have. I also don’t want to rob her freedom to be who she will be. Isn’t that the goal? Just to be comfortable to be who we were created to be? Right now? Today?

Today I am gonna find beauty in my heart beating and my body functioning strongly despite how I’ve abused it. I’m going to appreciate my wild hair and my hazel eyes. I’m going to get dressed and take on the day with gratitude. I’m going to find love and God in the details of my life. I’m going to enjoy the freedom I’ve been given by the Lord to be the me He created me to be.

“God crowds upon us from Sheol to the sea; he jostles our thoughts along the pathways in our brains. He hides in the bushes, jumping out in flames to startle us into seeing. He sequesters himself in stables and swaddling so as to take us unawares. He veils himself in flesh, the same flesh that drips into fingers at the end of my arms and sprouts into hair on my head.”
– Virginia Stem Owens

Roots of Beauty

“The cost for living in the past and worrying about the future is the present, and that’s all we truly have as the rest exists purely in our minds to terrorize us.”
– Unknown



We are haunted.

All we have is today, right now.
We have the choice to spend it wisely with growth, joy and gratefulness. We also have the choice of squandering it away with bitterness and worry.
I have been an expert in that. It seems on any given day it is
so easy to see what it is I don’t have or want instead of seeing what I DO have and the ways ways in which I can achieve what I am looking for. I have defined myself with my failures.

In my post yesterday, I talked about the challenge of allowing myself to be in pictures and videos, and breaking the bad habit of putting myself down for the sake of being a better example to my kids. The truth is, I need to do these things for myself as well.

I have felt that in order to change myself I need to work on my whole self. Body as well as mind, soul and spirit.
I have been “interviewing” my female friends and family to dig up the roots of the beauty beliefs and rituals around me. I want to examine what the heck the point of all of this is.
The startling thing has been finding that so much of what we believe about ourselves and our beauty is MUCH the same. Rooted in the past. No matter what we look like. Gorgeous or plain.
Plump or thin.
Fit or not.
We all carry most of the same hurts and wince at the same things. So much of what we believe about ourselves is sewn from the threads of our childhood and influences growing up. It seems these experiences either taught us and paved the way to who we are as grown women, or repelled us and paved a different path we would end up being more comfortable with. Some were very confident and comfortable in their skin. It was amazing to me. Most of us were not. Either way, who we are is linked to generations of women before us. And either way, we will influence generations of women after us. It’s worth talking about right?

The first question I asked myself, my peeps, and that I’ll ask you is,
do you think you’re beautiful?

Why is this question so uncomfortable? I think we can answer this more accurately based on moments in our lives. If I answer honestly I would say yes. There have been moments.

is the first poem I wrote about a month ago when I made up my mind to start writing again. That has made
me feel beautiful. To start doing something just for me that I love. Writing that first poem gave me the confidence I had needed for so long to choose a different path to live on. How can you choose to feel beautiful today?

Listen to one of my favorite songs by Sara Groves and be blessed and add to the beauty today.




Living life bobbing quietly above an anchor.
Sunk in so deep as if hardened by concrete and spite.

When will I move on these whims and act? Feeling flutters of new.
The best part of something is always the looking forward to it. Anticipating what may spring out from around the corner.
Forward can seem so far away.

Reaching leaves me tired. With so much to say I feel speechless. So much to try- I’m halted. So much to share yet I’m hoarding.

Doubt is the detour.
Always a detour.
Reliable. Loyal. Measured. Predicable and counted on like science.
But where is my faith?!

Faith to move mountains, THIS mountain? How dare I be moved? The audacity of yearning and reaching and dreaming and stretching and imagining and owning a fresh, clean, clear breath of my own.

Bobbing. Slime and grime collecting on my underbelly, waiting to harden like a shell…but now I realize my face warming in the sun.

>>New adventure<<



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