what’s the point of it all?

In 2011

2011 was a great year.

In 2011, I…

shot a gun for the first time

flew an airplane

began sitting

cut open two of my fingers and was whisked off to the emergency room

shaved my head

got a hair tattoo

jumped out of an airplane

was asked to give a speech about why everyone’s not-so-favorite sparkly vampire series reinforces negative gender stereotypes and sends dangerous messages to impressionable readers

became self-employed (off of this work right here, silly!)

read poetry in front of an audience for the first time… and then four more times

ate a lot of veggie burritos (according to my records, at least 20 of them)

In 2011, I also…

got really sick

relapsed and didn’t even realize it for six months (more on that some other time– it really set me up for a challenging, heart-opening year, to say the least)

ended a serious long-term relationship (this hurt)

lost three of my closest friends (this hurt, too)

found myself inevitably alone, wherever I went

Even though this list is shorter, it kind of eclipses the first. The effects of these lasted much longer, too. The scars are deeper, harder to heal.

Yet.

Despite all of these, I’m more grateful for these experiences than for any of the others. They taught me more about being scared shitless than the possibility of jumping out of a plane did. They taught me bout human resilience and strength. My resilience and strength.

 

What’s the point of it all?

Priya, a reader and fellow warrior, asked me these questions the other day. They felt heavy and I wasn’t sure what to make of them at first.

What is the meaning of life? Is there a meaning to it at all? Why do we live? Do each of us simply give life our unique meanings so as to be able to continue life?

Do we consciously love ourselves because we have no choice but to?

If indeed we give life meaning, and we love ourselves, only because our survival depends on it, what would it mean?

[..] So what exactly is all the suffering, the pain, the heartbreak and mind games, work, play and love all about? What’s the point in all of it? I feel like I need to know what I’m struggling for, pushing myself through every day for.

To answer–

First, I believe we make our own meaning in life. Mine, in just a few words, is to love, live, give, and grow. And in all of that, to do my best with good intentions.

I also believe that there’s nothing that exists without a purpose or a meaning. Otherwise, it wouldn’t even exist at all. The very fact of your existence– the very fact that you’re here rather than some alternate alien baby– already signifies that your life has meaning. But for what purpose is for you to decide.

To me, to live is to love, and to love is to live. Truly live. Every act we do can be an act of love, or not. “Consciously loving ourselves” I think is necessary because then we won’t have anything to give to others. We learn to fill our own cups; then, we learn to give to others, and help them fill their own.

But what’s the point of it all?

The point of the way we live, the way we hurt ourselves and others sometimes by accident and sometimes not, the way we end up sad and frustrated and angry and lonely– the point of the very experience of our lives?

I wrote about this in the letter a few days ago, sitting alone in a cafe in downtown Montreal–

The quality of loneliness.

For me, a question of stubbornness.

[..] Three years ago, I didn’t give up. (Three years ago; seems simultaneously so long and so short ago, now.) Three years ago, even with wanting to cry every damn second of my waking day, I didn’t give up and go home.

Here, it’s… not that hard. It really isn’t. I’m blessed, but somehow, I find in this experience a similar quality to what I experienced three years ago.

A blistering aloneness.

And perhaps, even, if I admit it, a shaky… loneliness.

[..]

It’s stubbornness that keeps me here.

But sometimes, a passing thought arises, really: What am I doing here?

What is the purpose of me being here?

And then I run a circle back to the stubbornness: because if I can’t even get through such small struggles, how can I let other people know that they can, too?

So here I am.

Alone, and maybe a little lonely, if I allow myself to admit it.

Pondering the quality of loneliness.

And the quality of aloneness that seeps into my waking life, a [..] whisper.

What are you doing here?

Why are you persisting?

To that, I always have one answer…

to why I do the difficult things,
to why I put myself through these struggles, when I know I could give up and just be happygoddammit.

I do because I couldn’t do any differently.

(Maybe) this is my work–

to understand my pain,
to understand– “the quality of loneliness”

and to emerge
triumphantly battered and bruised
on the other side

ready to tell you my tale.

So to answer the question, What’s the point in all of it?

The point is that the more we experience profound sadness, the deeper we can experience divine joy.

The point is that this pain and pleasure is simply a part of being human– and while we’re here, we might as well make the best of it and learn to grow and blossom.

The point is that every time we realize how strong we truly are– stronger than we ever imagined– and rise up to the challenge of our suffering, we inspire others to do the same.

That’s why I’m here.

That’s why I do what I do.

And that’s why I could have taken, in any of these situations in my life, a gun to my head and simply ended it– like I would have wanted to, once upon a time.

But I didn’t.

Because I know that all of this– this damn persistent loneliness, this aching hollowness, this freakin’ miserable pain…

It’s worth it, if in the end I’ll have the experience to tell you the truth:

You are stronger than you could ever know. Life goes on and you’ll learn to let go, and when you do, you’ll realize how much more you’ll enjoy what you have when you stop grasping for what you don’t. The pain will pass, just as everything in life does, and when it does, you’ll be able to be appreciate everything wonderful in your life that much more.

And one day, you’ll learn to smile and laugh and make a fool of yourself without giving a damn better than anyone else can, because you’ll have opened your heart to all the pain that the rest of us shirk from– and you’ll realize that because of all that pain, you’re able to empathize, to inspire, to love deeper than you ever could have imagined.

You’re not alone. I believe in you. And we need you to be here, be you, and be resilient in the face of darkness– because without your strength, we wouldn’t be able to realize our own.

I hope that answers your question.

unveiling the HAIRevolution: confessions & revelations of a hair-dye addict

I first thought of this project ages ago. Like September or October, a few months after the first time I’d cut my hair “short” in years. (I say “short” because, to my buzzcut-like head now, it seems pretty long!)

But like all great ideas, it took some time to bubble & meld– to grow (much like we humans do). & now I’m finally unveiling it!

It’s much simpler than it sounds, really.

The HAIRevolution is a project, or guest post series, or (what will be) a compendium of posts written by you on hair!

But not just any hair. Your hair. Your personal relationship with your hair, & the relationship between your hair & your body image, sexuality, gender identity/performance. (Or the relationship between your hair & your relationships, religion, school, etc. That works too!)

And not just the hair on your head, either.

The hair on your thighs. The hair on your crotch. The hair on your back. The hair on your arms. (Or lackthereof.)

I’m inviting YOU to share with us the story of your hair. Your hair evolution. Your hair revolution.

If you’d like to submit a post, please email hello at sui-solitaire dot com with the subject “HAIRevolution Guest Post.” Please include pictures, too, if you’re writing about the hair on your head– so we can see what it looks like!

All genders and hairstyles welcome! If you have any questions, leave a comment.

I’ll be featuring a HAIRevolution post every week or so from now on. If you’d like to bring this project to your blog & post your story there instead, feel free– please just mention cynosure & link back to this post at http://s.rvxn.org/HAIRevolution. You can also use the Twitter hashtag HAIRvxn! :]

BONUS: I’ve already asked some of my favorite writers & friends to kick off the project! Today’s post is written by the lovely Ellie Di of Apples and Porsches. Enjoy, & may it enlighten & inspire you (perhaps to write one of your own?  )!

 

Confessions and Revelations of a Hair-Dye Addict

My hair and I have a long, torrid history. It’s been long, short, shaved; it’s been thick, thin, frizzy, smooth, stretchy, brittle; it’s been blonde, auburn, brown, white, black, red, orange, green, blue, purple. For years, I felt the only hair color that looked bad on me was the dirty-blonde at my roots. I also experimented wildly with the cut, ranging from barely there to spiky-in-the-back, long-in-the-front to the dreaded mullet. My first foray into crazy hair was razored and turquoise at 17, and people consistently praised my bravery and beauty, which does wonders for a girl’s self-esteem when she’s still figuring herself out.

So when I decided to stop dicking with my hair in late 2009, it was harder than I expected. Having non-natural hair had insinuated itself into my personality; what started out as
fun had turned into a linchpin of my self-esteem
. All kinds of emotional walls sprang up, throwing themselves protectively between my hair and my ego.

“What will become of you with ‘boring’ hair? Who will you be? Will you still be a punk-rock princess? How will you deal with being ‘normal’? Will you still be sexy to your husband? To yourself? Won’t you look like a dude? Will you feel too girly once it’s long? Why are you doing this in the first place?

After weeks of tortured self-questioning, answers came in the form of a revelation of character. And it’s a pretty obvious one. So obvious, I’m a little ashamed to tell you.

“I’m doing this because I’ve evolved; I’ve ready to move forward.”

Duh, Ellie.

Of course I’m still me without my neon pixie hair. Of course I’m still a punk-rock princess. Of course I’m still sexy. All of these things are within me – they’re not determined by the cut, colour, or even presence of my hair. Once I realized that, the walls
crumbled, and I hit the salon.

 

That’s me right after I shaved my head on December 2nd and vowed not to cut it for a whole year, promising that I would give my sorely damaged hair and scalp all the lovin’ it needed to get healthy again.

I’ll admit there were some tears during that year, particularly when I got called “sir” early on. (I don’t have the most feminine of body shapes, so I expected this, but it still stung.) But I hadn’t seen my natural hair colour in nearly 10 years, and, as it started to grow, I was startled by how pretty the stuff is. Where I was tow-headed as a child, as an adult I’m dark blonde with multi-faceted strands of red and blonde that shine in the sun. It’s
a weird feeling to be in the gym and staring at your own hair in the mirror because it’s just so interesting.

That’s me today, upholding my no-cut, no-colour promise to my hair a year and a half later. I’ve always maintained that my brother (with his sexy, thick, Italian waves) got the best hair between us, but now I’m seeing those shapes emerge in my own. It’s thin, but there’s a lot of it, and it can be seriously unruly. But when I look in the mirror, freshly washed and air-dried, it curls up big and fierce around my face. Like a lion’s mane.

Does my long(er) hair make me feel sexy and feminine? You betcha. But in retrospect so did my ultraviolet punk hair. And my blonde peachfuzz. And my white fauxhawk. Perpetually experimenting with my hair allowed me to free myself from feeling too attached to the crippling tie between having “good hair” and “being a woman”. Every iteration made me feel like myself, whether that’s girly or boy-y or something in between.

Today, my hair has zero bearing on my personal conception of my Self, my gender or my sexuality. Short or long, natural or neon, my hair is an accessory, meant to enhance rather than define.

Ellie Di is a headologist, life investigator, and quasi-professional pompom shaker. She writes her days away at Apples and Porsches and is considered an “epic Twitterer”.

the thing about thin : body image, eating disorders, resistance + what really matters

from the intro:

This book is about body image, eating disorders, and resistance.
Most importantly, this book is about letting go of the bullshit so you can do what really matters.

There are no bullet points in this book. There are no easy answers.
There is just a whole lot of bullshit to let go of– bullshit we’ve been taught to believe about ourselves and our bodies.

This book is not just for people who have gone through the darkness of an eating disorder or had the unfortunate experience of hating their bodies.

This book is for anyone who’s ever felt like they weren’t good enough.
This book is for anyone who’s ever felt like their body was “wrong” in some way.

This book is for you.

There is a deep-rooted and pernicious lie within our culture that hating our bodies enough to shrink ourselves– most especially if we are women– is the most laudable achievement. That making ourselves small is to be applauded and rewarded, and allowing ourselves to be powerful as we are in the bodies we already have is not.

The cake isn’t a lie. The promises of weight loss are.

This book is about letting go of all the fucking lies and waking up to the light of the truth.

This book isn’t just about body image or eating disorders. It’s about the factory of deceit that the inadequacy industries have spun out of our fears and pain as human beings, no matter what size we are.

It’s about the widespread lies of “not good enough” instilled into all of our spirits to profit off our humanity.

Within a few hours of the book’s release, I received this email from a reader:

“Dear Sui,

I’ve just finished your book. Impossibly, and yet perfectly so, it contained everything that I desperately needed to hear. I will read it again, and again, and again.

Thank you for being an inspiration, and for having the courage to share your beautiful light with all of us.

I admire you more than I can say.

With deepest gratitude,
Jane”

♥ Jane Ellen, JaneEllen.com

This is the most important work of my life so far.
Thank you for being here, being you– and inspiring my work.
 

$19
82 pages of inspiration, revolution, and bullshit-free
in one ruthlessly honest e-book.

 

 

“‘The Thing about Thin,’ [Sui’s] recently released e-book, is a simply perfect piece of writing, an incisive self-examination with universal applications, that explores the how and why of self-help. Her starting point is breathtakingly honest: self-help, self-love, and self-care are not ends in themselves.

…despite [the] specific examples, the book’s scope is far larger. While the reference point here is to body image and curing self-hate as expressed against our bodies, the teachings in this book could apply to anyone at all who has stifled the size of their inner self, whether through drinking, drugs, toxic relationships, zoneing out on the world… all of them forms of spiritual anaesthesia that prevents you (or me) from truly LIVING.

It’s a deeply nourishing, soul-feeding book that explores how we resist ourselves from fear, and how that fear becomes an internalised limit on what we can feel and how we can be. It explores, without giving answers, but while inspiring countless ideas and avenues of where to go now. How to change, things to try, what to do.

And all for the right reasons; not to end up cosy in a self-loving bubble at the end of it, but to enable us to be strong enough to send that life and light back out into the world. The personal as deeply political, and deeply spiritual.

I can’t recommend this enough… If you don’t buy it for yourself, buy it as a gift for those you love. They will thank you a thousand times over.”

♥ Lauren Piko, Unhalfbricking.net

 

“It’s brilliant. It burns with a raw honesty. It inspires with a burning passion.

It is, to quote the author, fucking liberating. And it is about more than eating disorders.”

♥ Amelia J. Wells, SilenceCupcake.info\

 

“Sui says this book is her question, but it’s also an answer to a number of other questions, including, and most interestingly to me– what does our obsession with altering our bodies mean for our lives, and why is it essential that we reject the pursuit of the better body? She recounts her own history and progression of thought around body image and food, and asks us to push our own thinking on those topics beyond the cliches and well-meaning but static conversations of the mainstream media.

There is a refreshing and powerful clarity at the core of this book, at the core of Sui’s narration and convictions.

It is good and much-needed medicine.”

♥ Holly Orr, Tangerine-Eater.com

 

The thing about ‘The Thing about Thin’ is that it’s a heart-wrenching– yet inspirational– experience to read. As someone who’s battled with disordered eating in the past– despite never having been diagnosed with an official eating disorder– I recognised myself in so much of what Sui’s written. I recognised the pain and the frustration and the shame around body image. I recognised the epiphany that most of my eating difficulties had NOTHING to do with eating. I recognised the two-steps-forward-one-step-back pattern that recovery all too often follows.

But ‘The Thing about Thin’ goes deeper than any book on eating disorders and recovery I’ve ever read before. It doesn’t just stop with learning to accept yourself as you are and feel good about being you again. It goes there, sure, but then it keepsgoing– right through to what really matters. It acknowledges that there’s a damn good reason we all need to wake up and love ourselves– regardless of whether we see ourselves as fat, thin or anything in between.

The thing about ‘The Thing about Thin’ is that regardless of your relationship to food and dieting, it might well change your life to read.”

what loving yourself REALLY means

Loving yourself isn’t just about feeling good in YOUR body. Loving yourself isn’t just about being yourself & accepting yourself. Loving yourself isn’t just about looking in the mirror and being able to smile at yourself each morning.

Loving yourself isn’t just a feeling. Loving yourself is a commitment.

Loving yourself is respecting yourself enough to do what’s best for yourself, even if it might not seem to satisfy your first impulses.

Loving yourself is showing up & saying yes. Loving yourself is forcing yourself to get out of the house when you realize you’re wallowing in self-pity or depression. Loving yourself is accepting that invitation from your close friend whom you’ve been blowing off because you’ve been hiding from the world.

Loving yourself is doing your work first, before checking your email, instead of playing games or watching TV… so you won’t be up depriving yourself of sleep at the very last second before a deadline.

Loving yourself is sleeping at a time early enough that you will be well-rested tomorrow morning. Every single night.

Loving yourself is waking up early enough to give yourself time to have a moment in the morning, have time to dress in clothes that make you feel confident, and nourish your body with a breakfast filled with foods you love.

Loving yourself is realizing that drowning in a box of cookies is not the answer to an empty feeling in your heart. Loving yourself is breathing deeply and asking yourself first why you feel this way, and being there, being present for yourself.

Loving yourself is calling a friend or taking a walk instead of indulging in an addiction to go numb. Loving yourself is realizing that binge drinking, eating, or anything else will and does hurt you, no matter what comfort it may seem to bring for a moment.

Loving yourself is refusing to use words to bring yourself down. Loving yourself is refusing to deny your own awesomeness. Loving yourself is refusing to insult or otherwise demean yourself. Loving yourself is accepting the compliments & having convenient hearing loss when someone is being vicious.

Loving yourself is using kind words, to yourself & others. Loving yourself is recognizing your own unique nature & being happy with it, & recognizing the unique nature of others & being happy that they are them.

Loving yourself has nothing to do with jealousy or envy. Loving yourself is being grateful for what you have, knowing that more of the good stuff is to come, & knowing that every individual has hir own struggles & successes.

Loving yourself is refusing to let your self-worth be dictated by any external comments or numbers. Loving yourself is realizing that failing your finals or losing your job does not make you a failure. (In fact, people can’t be failures.)

Loving yourself is choosing to focus on the thoughts & feelings that make you feel good, and refusing to get caught up in thinking about things that bring you down. Loving yourself is daydreaming about what excites you, & visualizing your reality.

Loving yourself is absolute gratitude for everything in your life, past & present, knowing that whatever happened to you in the past is exactly what you needed then, and that whatever you have now is exactly what you need now.

Loving yourself is prioritizing your health, making sure you always have healthy foods available, doing what it takes for you to be comfortable, happy, & healthy in your body.

Loving yourself is realizing that the world is full of infinite abundance, yours for the taking. Loving yourself is realizing that you are more than your body– that you are much, much more than anything you ever dreamed of.

Loving yourself is taking care of errands and little issues like renewing your driver’s license right away instead of putting it off and letting them ferment into big, pesky problems.

Loving yourself is realizing that the moments in your life are precious & irreplaceable and that if you are giving up those moments to a job or a field that does not satisfy you, loving yourself is liberating yourself from your employment and doing something else.

Loving yourself is believing in yourself, taking a chance, going for what you love.

Loving yourself is only purchasing clothes that you will wear, & only wearing clothes that fit you wonderfully & make you feel spectacular. Loving yourself is dressing up on the days you feel most like throwing on an old shirt and oversized pants.

Loving yourself is taking time for yourself every day to hone your hobbies, do something fun & enriching, and prioritizing yourself.

Loving yourself is being honest and vulnerable to others, knowing that you are strong & worthy of love no matter what you could reveal about yourself to someone else.

Loving yourself is eating only what you are excited to eat, not settling for something just because it’s there, and eating when your body needs sustenance. Loving yourself is enjoying your food & eating mindfully, paying attention to what you put into your precious body. Loving yourself is honoring your hunger.

Loving yourself is being your OWN best friend and your OWN lover and your OWN family when you find yourself in a moment (or month or two) without any external assistance.

Loving yourself is enjoying your time alone, doing something that makes your heart sing.

Loving yourself is honoring your commitments to YOURSELF and others. Loving yourself is doing everything you can possible to do the best for yourself. And loving yourself is forgiveness, is moving on, is letting go of yesterday’s seeming mistakes and seeing them as lessons. Loving yourself is growing & changing & learning.

Loving yourself is hanging on when things get tough, & continuing to make the choice to do what’s best for yourself, day after day, even when it seems crazy difficult.

Loving yourself is refusing to settle. Loving yourself is saying no to what is unimportant to you. Loving yourself is letting go of friends or family who doesn’t treat you wonderfully. Loving yourself is sprinting your way out of any relationship that makes you feel threatened, unsafe, lowered, unworthy, controlled…

Loving yourself is knowing that you are worthy. Worthy of living passionately, worthy of enjoying your life, worthy of focusing on what excites you, worthy of letting go of anything that holds you down, worthy of doing whatever is necessary for you to be healthy & thriving, worthy of the very best.

Loving yourself is knowing that you deserve better, and taking the actions necessary to have the life you deserve.

What does loving yourself mean to you? ♥

what I talk about when I talk about dieting

Last fall, I wrote a post called (25 Ways) Losing Weight Will Not Change Your Life.

A lot of people liked it. A whole lot more rather vocal people felt incensed, angry, and personally offended.

Those people didn’t understand that I was actually advocating healthy lifestyle choices and changes. I am SO for eating healthier, moving more, & being comfortable with your body. How could I not be?

But the point of my post was that weight loss, in and of itself, will not guarantee a happy, healthy body, or a happy, healthy self.

A lower number on the scale will not guarantee that you will love yourself or have a better life. It will not guarantee that you will attract a partner. After all, there are people who are underweight and still think they’re unattractive or hate themselves. Are they really better off?

There are a lot of good reasons I wrote that post.

One is that I’ve witnessed a lot of wonderful people who’ve thought that if they just lost 10 pounds, their life would be happy. Their problems would be solved. They would be worthy and deserving of love. They would be, finally, “good enough” for everyone else.

Two is that I witnessed MYSELF, someone who went through an eating disorder, deteriorate into a terrible, self-destructive cycle when I started thinking that way, when I started focusing on the scale. And I wanted to warn others so they wouldn’t have to experience what I had (even though I know not everyone is like me, or has a risk of developing an ED).

Three is that numbers don’t always tell all. Diet Coke may have zero calories, but does that mean it’s necessarily healthy? The number on the scale doesn’t tell all– in fact, oftentimes it tells you jack shit. (See Nerd Fitness’ before and after photos at the exact same weight.) You can determine how healthy you are from how YOU feel, physically. How do you know if you need to adjust your eating habits and act in a way that is kinder to your body?

I don’t think you need a number to tell you when you physically feel uncomfortable in your body and want to move more or eat differently. I don’t think a number should have the power to tell you how comfortable you’re allowed to be with yourself and your body.

Four is that your worth as a person does not depend on a number on an external machine. In fact, nothing really depends on that number; not your awesomeness, not your agility or endurance, not your strength, not even your overall health.

Five is that not all weight loss is created equal. And that’s what I mean by diet. When I think of diet, I don’t think “healthy lifestyle change.” I think temporary fad diet. I think three weeks of eating nothing but cabbage soup, or three days of drinking maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I think unhealthy weight loss. I think of the “diets” I put myself on when I was anorexic (yes, that’s the first time I’ve used that word on cynosure)– grossly undereating, grossly overexercising.

It might not be fair that I impose this definition on you. In the end, it’s all just words. But here I am, clarifying what I mean when I say “don’t diet.”

When I say “don’t diet,” I mean don’t deprive yourself. Don’t feel like you’re “not allowed” to have what you really want to eat. Don’t blame, shame, or guilt yourself for choosing to eat a piece of cake, for honoring your hungers.

When I say “don’t diet,” I mean don’t go to the gym and exercise for hours on end if it’s something you have to force yourself to do.

When I say “don’t diet,” I mean that you are so much more than the size of your clothes or the number on the scale. You need to love yourself no matter what, or you won’t be able to make the lifestyle changes to enjoy the healthy body that you want anyway, because they depend on kindness to your body and to your heart.

When I say “don’t diet,” I mean be kind to yourself.

Like I said… it’s okay to love your body and still want to change, be healthier, be more comfortable in it.

A lot of people told me losing weight did, in fact, change their lives. They feel more confident, more attractive. They’re happier with themselves.

And I ask… is it because of the external change in the number alone, or is it because they feel empowered that they were able to make the healthy choices and lifestyle changes to get there? Because they feel more comfortable in their body, and don’t need a scale to tell them so? Because they’re happy with the way they feel in their bodies, not the number that doesn’t mean anything except in contexts of comparison? Because they now eat in a way that lifts them up rather than bogs them down?

Someone once snidely remarked on Facebook, when I argued that it was possible to be happy and love yourself even if you lost a limb, that “not everyone can be a Buddhist monk like you.”

I don’t think you need to be a Buddhist monk to derive your happiness from the inside, to be happy from inside your heart rather than depending on what’s outside (numbers on scales or clothing, other people’s validation, grades or income). To realize that loving yourself is, in effect, learning to love life, love the world, and love the way things are even if they might seem to suck sometimes. To realize that our self-worth, our love for ourselves, our happiness never has to depend on the way we look or how other people think of us.

And that, my fellow fearless warriors, is what I talk about when I talk about dieting.

you need to love the part of you that binges

You need to love the part of you that falls.

The part of you that binges. Or the part of you that disappoints you or fails or procrastinates or makes mistakes. (Substitute any of those for “binge” in this post.)

You need to love the part of you that binges, because if you hate it, you are still hating some part of yourself, you are still ashamed of some part of you, and that is not love. Love is not selective; love does not say, “I’ll only love myself when I eat perfectly,” whatever “perfectly” means. (Read: “eating perfectly” doesn’t exist.)

You need to love the part of you that binges, because you will keep on binging if you keep on hating yourself.

You need to love the part of you that binges, because only then will you be able to ever change your relationship with food and eating. Slowly, but steadily.

Let me tell you this…

It was SO hard for me to learn to love the part of me that binged.

When I first started my journey of self-love, I learned to be okay with basically every part of myself– except that part. I learned to love myself in every moment… except the moments that I binged or overate. That’s when I felt most shameful, most self-disliking. I love myself now… why am I still binging? I’m done with school now… why am I still binging? I’m in a relationship now… why am I still binging? I’m happy and strong now… why am I still binging!?

That’s when I realized just how important it was for me to love myself even moreso when I binged. Because that’s when I needed myself the most. That’s when I most needed not to turn my back on myself, not to shame or blame myself.

The part of me that binged? The part of me that binged was lonely and scared– she was the girl who found herself home alone for hours at age 11, bullied at school for being ugly, with nothing to do but eat. The part of me that binged needed the most love and kindness and support I could give– she was the girl who felt ashamed at age sixteen for being sexually violated, believing it was her fault. The part of me that binged needed my love the most.

When you binge, that you is still YOU. There is no difference between the “you that binges” and the “you that is strong and happy and wonderful.” There is no separation. The you that binges is just as beautiful, just as wondrous, just as divine as the you that aces your projects and produces great work and is a generous, loving person.

Except for one thing– the part of you that binges needs especial love. Even more care & compassion, even more patience & gratitude & support.

What doesn’t the part of you that binges need? Blame. Guilt. Shame. Hiding.

You need to forgive yourself for binging, and then stop forgiving yourself because you’ve stopped blaming yourself for binging in the first place.

You need to be patient & radiant & wonderful to yourself before, during, and after a binge.Especially after.

Instead of fighting against the binge, be curious. Find out why you’re binging. What are you feeling, what are you thinking? What happened? How else can you cope with this? If you can’t cope with it another way, it’s okay. Accept the binge, then move on.

Be loving. If you’re going to binge anyway, eat what you love, and be present for it. Indulge yourself. You might find that you don’t want to binge at all, but even if you do, it’s okay.

Be patient. Staring your behavior straight in the eye and really figuring out why you’re binging, what’s BEHIND the binging, can be a hard and difficult journey. It may take days, it may take months. It may honestly take years, but it is so, so worth it.

I assure you that if you do this– if you love the part of you that binges, if you are patient, supportive, & curious when you binge– you will probably binge less. And be much, much happier for it. That’s the sweet, delicious irony of it.

You need to love the part of you that binges because it is impossible for anyone to be completely binge-free. Even if you’re ED recovered. Even if you love yourself completely. Even if you’re super-confident. Even if you’ve never had eating issues.

We all have our moments. We ALL binge once in a while– a little too much at the holiday dinner, a time when it feels easier to eat the ice cream than face the overwhelming sadness of the loss of a loved one.

The point is not to vilify ourselves for binging, or for being imperfect, or for making mistakes… but to use the binge as a tool. To figure out what’s really going on with us. To realize something’s wrong or something needs to change. To be even more kind to ourselves. To grow.

As Geneen Roth so lovelily states in When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair:

My students often say, “I want to be done with this thing with food once and for all.” But there is no place to get to, no such thing as arriving and never having to leave.

If you take a big view and understand that eating, or thinking about eating, will probably always be the way you alert yourself to changes in your inner world, you can relax. You can use turning to food as a method of exploring the corners of your soul; you can think about emotional eating as a gift rather than a curse.

(emphasis mine)

P.S. If you’re dieting, stop dieting. You will never stop binging if you don’t stop dieting.Seriously.

the time to love your body is now. not tomorrow, not tuesday. now.

It seems that there’s a myth that’s being spread, propagated everywhere you can see. People repeat it on their blogs, in daily conversations, to each other, because they don’t want to believe that the opposite is true– that it is possible. And this time, it’s not just the myth about all the things we think we have to do in order to be happy, healthy, awesome.

I’m talking about the myth that we, as human beings, can never, should never, & will never be completely satisfied with our bodies. That to love & accept & celebrate our bodies for how they are now, not how we think we will shape them to be in the future, is impossible, or only at the very least probable for the people we think look flawless (but are possibly just as dissatisfied with their looks as anyone else is). That we might even love our thighs or hips or chest or biceps or shoulders, but we’ll still continue to dislike some other part of ourselves, and that that is practically mandatory.

The truth is that we confuse flawless with perfect. Nobody is flawless– but we are all perfect. Yes, you read that right. Perfect. This moment, this me, this you, is the only way it ever can be in this present– perfect. Everything in its right place.

The truth is that we can love & accept our bodies while still having goals (for health, fitness, strength, enjoyment of food/physical fun, whatever). The truth is that we can stop “striving” and start arriving. The truth is that we can stop focusing on the future and start living in the present now. The truth is that in the light of this present moment, the future doesn’t even exist.

The truth is that we can realize that the only moment we will ever have is now, and unless we start respecting & taking care of ourselves now, we might as well never will.

No matter how much you may have liked or disliked yourself or your body in the past. No matter how you felt yesterday. No matter what you ate for breakfast. No matter if you once believed you had to look like the 5% of the world (that still might be unhappy with themselves or have image issues) that media presents to us. No matter.

The time to start loving, respecting, & taking care of yourself is now.

This is the only moment you have. You can still want to achieve something, but you won’t get very far until you accept that you have what you have right now.

You only have this one moment to be satisfied with yourself, no matter what you look like. If you choose to be dissatisfied now, when will you ever stop?

I’m not going to pretend that it won’t be hard to love yourself, especially if you’ve spent most of your life doing just the opposite. It’s hard. It takes constant awareness, listening to your body & your heart & your mind, mindfulness, and strength. It takes daily struggles and fighting all the negative messages we’ve been socialized to believe and a whole lot of emotional and mental mojo. It takes guts and resilience and the courage to fight against what we believe society expects. But it gets easier once you just take that tiny first step. Trust me. It really does.

I myself am still learning, still growing… always. I love my body, every bit– but I’m on a constant journey, and every day I love my body more. You know the quote “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”? That applies to so many different brands of contentment, peace, joy.

“There is no way to recovery… recovery is the way.”
“There is no way to loving yourself… loving yourself is the way.”
“There is no way to learn to love your body… learning to love your body is the way.”

Of course it won’t be easy.

But it will always be so much better than the alternative: always contemplating yourself and thinking “I’ll be happy with myself/my life/my body tomorrow“, never realizing that tomorrow never really arrives.

25 ways losing weight will not change your life

This is a list of what losing weight MIGHT do for you.

LOSING WEIGHT MIGHT

  1. result in a different number (that changes every moment anyway) displayed on an external machine that still does not define your intelligence, personality, kindness, attractiveness, sense of humor, or substance

This is a list of what losing weight will NOT do for you.

LOSING WEIGHT WILL NOT

  1. change your life
  2. make you look beautiful on your special day if you’re hungry and deprived
  3. solve your problems
  4. destroy your insecurities
  5. mean you will fit in
  6. change who you are
  7. fix your relationships, friendships, family or marriage
  8. grant you popularity
  9. give you good luck
  10. make you smarter, nicer, richer, more good-looking, or even more athletic
  11. find you a life partner
  12. make people like you more or think better of you
  13. give you a 6-pack or chiseled muscles
  14. result in a better sex life
  15. cure any illnesses
  16. make you feel better about anything
  17. change how you feel about yourself or your body
  18. mean that you will get you the respect you deserve
  19. result in better health
  20. make someone else love you
  21. give you superpowers
  22. make you satisfied with your life
  23. give you unconditional happiness
  24. grant you 3 wishes from a magical genie
  25. make you love yourself

Losing weight will never accomplish any of these things for you independently. Taking better care of yourself, respecting yourself, eating what your body needs, and moving your body can help. But a different weight is just a different number. And a change in a number on a machine or a shirt tag will not change anything about your life. It will just be a different number on the same machine, the same person in the same body.

You will stay the same person with the same attitude, thoughts, self-respect (or lack thereof), and body image… until you change how you feel about your body FIRST and realize it deserves respect & the best loving-kindness and care.

Losing weight is not & will NEVER be a panacea.

“But, O bumbling writer of cynosure, my wife/partner/doctor/mother/brother/friend/stranger told me I need to lose weight if I want to look good & be fit!”

I am all for people being happy & healthy. (That’s one of cynosure‘s missions, after all.) And that includes eating less processed food, getting fit, becoming your own brand of athlete, and feeling good about the way you look! But I do not believe you ever have to weigh yourself, scrutinize your size, overexercise/force yourself to become a gym rat, or deprive yourself & diet (especially not diet) to do so. You never have to depend on a number that changes by the hour to gauge your self-worth.

Don’t focus on the numbers instead of the health. You can be “medically overweight” and run a marathon, or you can be “medically underweight” and not even make it up a flight of stairs. Don’t think it’s about the weight; it’s not about the weight. It’s never about the weight. People forget that we only tend to look better when we respect & take care of ourselves FIRST, before we think about trying to change our bodies– and most of the time, those changes are a result of loving ourselves. Not the other way around.

You can take walks and listen to your body and eat mindfully when you are truly hungryand kick around a soccer ball with a friend and order dessert and stretch and do yoga and try a new & unfamiliar species of vegetable and make love and unpeel an orange with your hands and bike to work and drink tea and take the stairs and enjoy ice cream and go hiking and eat popcorn while watching movies and drink water and sleep well and do push-ups and bake a cake and dance with your loves and share a piping-hot mug of Mexican mocha, & that can fulfill you, & that can nourish you, & that can even help you learn to respect yourself more, & that can even result in a little more self-love…

and you won’t ever have to peek at a scale.

“People who lose weight have regrets.
They should have done it sooner.
They always had the knowledge…..It is not that simple. It is not that easy.
But I do have one regret.
Not respecting the 400 pound person.
The same person I am now.

Love yourself, no matter the weight. No matter your size.
Once you lose the weight, you will be the same person.

It took me too long to realize that.”

 

Tony at The Anti-Jared (emphasis mine)

how to start loving yourself more and be happier right now

Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.
Aristotle

People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.
Ramona L. Anderson

If you don’t like someone, or if someone betrays you, you can walk away. You can stop being his/her friend.

But if you don’t even love yourself, you have nowhere to go.

This inescapable truth came crashing down on me when, for the first six months after I’d first moved 500 miles away to Southern California, I was absolutely miserable. I had no close friends, no family, no one to depend on. I felt like nobody cared about me, and that if I simply disappeared, nobody would even notice. When I woke up in the morning, I’d start crying before I even opened my eyes because I felt so alone. If only I had just one great friend that would be there for me, I’d be okay, I thought.

And then I realized I had to be that friend for myself.

And that’s when I started changing myself, little by little (and read a book or two that helped me along the way– look out for a post soon on a few of the books most influential to my happiness and self-development!)– and amazingly, I went from self-hating, depressed for as long as I could remember, self-destructive, insecure, and almost always sad to unconditionally self-loving and happy. (Of course, it took a LOT of effort, but I got there, and I’m still learning to love myself, even more, every day!)

And that very transformation is why this site even exists… to be there with you as you travel along this path of happiness and self-love.

The love of your friends and family is irreplaceable and valuable, but when you find yourself without that support, what will you do? Just give up? Or realize by taking care of yourself and loving yourself, you can be happy (and have the confidence to make new friends!) even if you’re alone?

And if you want to be in a successful and loving relationship… how can you expect your partner to love you at all, if even you find yourself unlovable?

Do you really need any more reasons to love yourself more, starting right now?

1. Let yourself be completely alone.

  • Feel what it’s like to be truly alone with yourself.
  • Resist the urge to escape and find company, to leave yourself.
  • Stay with yourself in the present, and be curious with yourself. Notice how the air feels against your skin. Try to feel the presence of your body. You are alive. Isn’t it amazing?
  • Forgive yourself for anything you’ve blamed yourself for in the past, and feel free without the burden of what no longer exists (the past). Tell yourself that you forgive yourself.
  • Breathe. Slowly. Listen to your breath. Let it go, and with it, any negative feelings.
  • Whisper to yourself, “I am awesome. I am beautiful. I love myself.” Or scream it from the rooftops. That works, too.
  • Don’t just be accepting; be open and unconditionally loving towards yourself.
  • Love your faults and honor your strengths.
  • Get to know yourself. Journal or draw about yourself, what makes you happy, and what makes you so great, so spectacular. Pay attention to yourself.
  • Trust yourself. Who else can you trust better than yourself? You’re the only one who will always be there for you. You’re the only one you’ll always have. If it’s difficult, take time every day to trust yourself a little bit more.
  • Keep a positive attitude, look on the bright side, and think positively. When you feel yourself thinking negatively, don’t try to push it away forcefully; just be aware, and let it come and go. Focus on the positive aspect of situations.
  • Smile. Smile at your reflection and say hello. Smile at the world.

2. Make a list of what you would do for the person you love most, and then do those things for yourself. Alone.

  • Take yourself on a date. Go to the amusement park, go to a museum, and treat yourself as the loveliest, best date you’ve ever had.
  • Treat yourself to a lovely meal. Go out alone to eat at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. Cook yourself a feast. Eat exactly what you want to eat, no matter how expensive it is (save up for this treat if you want). Be present for the meal. Chew slowly and enjoy every bit of the treat for yourself.
  • Go to the movie theater and watch a movie (in a genre that you love) by yourself. Yes, by yourself. (I did this for the premiere of Ghost Town and it was awesome being able to laugh and cry as much as I wanted!)
  • Take a long walk with yourself. Go to the park and look at all the creatures that live together in harmony. They don’t reject you or expect anything out of you. Or if you don’t like nature, take a stroll around the city alone, enjoying the sights and sounds.
  • Give yourself a beautiful present. Spend time making it special. You deserve it. (This is not an excuse to ignore your problems with retail therapy or by buying stuff. Create something spectacular and unique for yourself. On the other hand, if you never buy yourself anything, allow yourself to actually buy something you want for once.)
  • Write yourself a letter on beautiful stationery. Tell yourself why you love yourself, why you’re great. Keep the letter for times good and bad.

3. Take care of yourself– your body and your health.

  • Your body is a temple. Treat it like one. Evaluate what you choose to put into your temple. Does the food you eat nourish you, or does it make you feel like utter crap, like you have to have caffeine every 3 hours (or seconds)?
  • Don’t make your eating decisions based on what any diet book, magazine, or uninformed individual tells you. Choose foods that YOU love that make YOU feel good and give you the energy to have a great day. If this requires you to stop eating overprocessed junk food and start eating real, whole foods, so be it. Your body won’t just thank you later– your body will start thanking you right now.
  • At the same time, eat your cake, too– never deprive yourself. Simply consider making a dessert yourself instead of getting it from a fast food restaurant (or even many grocery stores– they usually have lists of artificial ingredients a mile long!). Make your own snacks.
  • Allow yourself to feel the parts of your body that you’ve rejected in the past. Touch them with love and tenderness and gentleness. Tell each of them how much you love them. For instance, if it’s your legs, say, “Thank you for even existing, so that I may walk and run and dance and travel and experience the world.”
  • Cancel subscriptions to magazines that make you feel like you are not good enough. Take the existing ones you own and spend a day tearing them apart if you’d like, and then recycling them. Throw out your diet books… into the recycling bin.
  • Get enough sleep. Turn off the computer or TV an hour before your bedtime, wind down, take a long bubble bath, and make sure you get enough rest so you’ll feel good throughout the next day.
  • Find a way to move your body (aka the dreaded “e” word) that you LOVE! If you don’t like the gym, don’t go to the gym. (If you do like the gym, keep on going!) Go on walks with friends, play tennis or basketball or any other sport with your family, go jogging with your dog!
  • Be conscious and aware… if you have any self-destructive behaviors (drinking/eating/smoking/etc. too much), don’t beat yourself up about them, but realize that you are making a choice to do something that might lead you to feel bad (physically or otherwise), and that you deserve much, much better than that.

4. Make YOU a priority.

  • Relax. Get a massage, go to the spa, take a bath. Spend at least one day (preferably per week) doing only what YOU want to do– no work, no thinking about what other people want you to do for them. Read a book or watch a movie.
  • Or simply, do nothing. Just sit or lie down. Zone out. Give yourself time and space not to have to do anything, even if it’s just five minutes.
  • Say some affirmations every day, if you want.
  • Respect yourself. Only settle for the absolute best, because that’s the bare minimum you deserve. Accept nothing less.
  • Refuse to allow anyone to treat you in any way that you wouldn’t treat your closest friend.
  • If you need to, cut people out of your life (or wean them off slowly) if they are anything less than respectful or loving towards you– even if you can’t imagine life without them because you’ve been friends for so long, or even if they’re family (if you can’t imagine doing that in the case of family, then only communicate when absolutely necessary). You are worth SO MUCH MORE than that.
  • Learn to say NO. Stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you– you are strong and powerful, and YOU control YOUR life. Don’t do anything someone else wants you to do just because they say you should. Don’t let others guilt you, either– refuse to put up with their crap.
  • Be kind to yourself when you falter. Love the fact that you aren’t perfect. It makes you (and your life) more interesting, after all! Forgive yourself.
  • Be kind to others. It’ll make YOU feel good, too!
  • Do what YOU love. If you don’t know what makes your heart flutter and your soul smile, take time for yourself to find out. Make it a priority for yourself to have time to do this activity and make yourself happy.
  • Write notes to yourself filled with self-love and inspiration, and post them in random places. Post them in places you always see– on your desk, on your front door, on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge– and even in places that’ll surprise you later on when you find them again.
  • You are a being filled to the brim with love and beauty, and you were born to love yourself. Act accordingly.

5. Stop waiting to love yourself.

“I’ll start trying to like myself when I… get a new job, eat like a rabbit, look like a plastic mannequin, find the perfect partner to love me so I won’t have to love myself…”

No.

Love yourself NOW.

The only time you have to be alive and THRIVING is RIGHT NOW.

And you’re wasting your time if you’re waiting for any moment in the future, because chances are you might not even get to that moment if you don’t LOVE YOURSELF NOW.

P.S. This post has been a very long time coming; the ideas have been brewing in my mind for literally ages! It’s a culmination of a little bit of everything I’ve wanted to write about loving yourself, and there’s definitely more to come, though I tried packing as much as humanly possible into this post. You will get the best results if you do everything listed here, no matter how weird (or new) it might feel. Or uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is (usually) good. It means you’re getting somewhere. :)

Let it be known that I have done and/or still do everything on this list, so if you feel a little ridiculous doing some of them, worry naught for a fearless warrior has already paved the way! Keep on loving yourself and being wonderful! ♥