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After Charlottesville

DSCN36179 years ago today, we learned about this baby boy and, in that moment, our hearts clutched around him, somehow convinced that we were meant to be together.  That first day, we were so absolute, so steadfast in figuring out what we needed to do for the adoption that no darkness entered in my mind. And then, the next day, the darkness arrived. Were we fools to bring a baby boy from Africa to this country, to possibly subject him to racism, something that he might be more protected from in his country of origin?

Stricken, I called one of my dearest friends, one to whom I could always talk candidly about race and ethnicity and she heard me out through my sobs and terror. She relived the personal- my own experiences with being spit at, shunned, profiled and belittled for my brown skin, and the more political with me, helping me to move through the hard stuff to remember our interconnectedness, my own growth, when others stood beside me through the hard stuff, when I stood up for others. On the other side of that conversation, I felt compelled to choose hope, to choose faith and love and progress and connection.

A few months later, Barack Obama was elected president and I went out and bought a newspaper to put in a keepsake box for the baby we would soon bring into our lives.  And, then, as my years as a mother ticked by and as often happens when there is historic progress, there was a backlash to that election. Backlash too numerous and vast to number here but it has been harrowing and heartbreaking over these years to watch the beauty of otherness- whether it be race, ethnicity, religion, gender, orientation, and more- be devalued, vilified, condemned, and erased.

We were on vacation at our favorite beach last week when news broke about Charlottesville. Overwhelmed by my feelings, I concentrated on the little boy in front of me and I was reminded of a scene on this same beach when the boy was a toddler.

He was at the age where his exuberance exploded out of him and had to be shared. Most days on the beach, we were positioned right by the families we had seen all week. Dear friends were with us and we played bocce, built sand castles, jumped waves, and collected seashells with the children over the course of each day.  One day, there was a change in the groups around us. A group of younger adults with a confederate flag sat down and one of its members removed his shirt to reveal a confederate flag tattoo. Of course, our exuberant boy chose that one man for show and tell that morning, running towards him with every seashell find. My stomach churned as I went after my little boy and redirected him.

“We got you,” our friends said, putting their arms around our conspicuous little family with our three distinct ethnicities, loving us through the discomfort, making sure that our belonging was clear to those around us, easing our alienation and fear.

This is what alliance looks like.  Whether it is in the quiet of a friend moving closer to you and putting his arm around you when you feel vulnerable or in the energy of a group of strangers standing up for what is right, we have to use our access to bridge distances, offer companionship, insure protection.

And so here I am, exactly 9 years later, tamping down my own fear in order to once again choose hope, to choose faith and love and progress and connection.  Thank you for being connected to me. Let’s keep extending our hand.

The Kids are Alright Spring 2017 Part II

Devin

At the end of each semester, my body image students write a process paper where they synthesize their learning- both personal and academic- for the semester. These papers are always a delight to read and there is so much wisdom in them that I just have to share a fraction of it (with my students’ permission, of course) with you. Here, some wise words from my students this semester. May they give you hope and inspiration the way they did me.   

Love is within; it is something that no other person can provide, no material object can eternally cover. Self-love is the root to success. In order to make it in this world we have to be willing to stand outside of the norms of hating our bodies, and, with a bold face, start a revolution of loving ourselves. I now take every day not as just a blessing to be thankful for, but I also look at each morning as a new way to spoil my body. I don’t necessarily mean by shopping for new clothes or getting all the new makeup, but instead I mean thinking of new ways to spoil my inner and spiritual body. What grains can I eat to benefit my physical body today? What time can take out of my busy day just for meditation to spoil my spiritual mind? My life is different because I no longer look at my body as a decoration, but as a working machine. ~Sarah

One of the main ideas I will keep with me from this class is the concept that beauty is not defined solely by physical appearances. Considering what I truly believe are beautiful traits or characteristics was different and somewhat difficult at first. I felt as though everyone, including myself, was conditioned to believe that beauty is solely how symmetrical your face is and how white your teeth are and how slim your waist is, but I have learned that it is truly so much more. I believe that to be considered beautiful someone must be positive and enthusiastic. I am also attracted to intelligence because I love being able to hold conversations with people who are articulate and knowledgeable. Discussing my definition of beauty with other people was refreshing and empowering as it opened my eyes to the fact that I meet my own definition of beauty. ~Samantha

So many times in this world we are judged for the length of our eyelashes and expected to keep contained the unique qualities that make us who we are. There is no rationality to judge and yet we all do it, every day. We don’t know what our side-glances and backwards comments do to another individual. We have no idea what is going on in that person’s life and how they internalize our silly judgments. Honestly, we all need to feel accepted. But there is no one path to acceptance. There’s no “perfect” skin color, face, body…perfect doesn’t exist. Trust me, that’s not a bad thing. Unique exists though…Stop comparing, stop envying, and stop judging. Devin

Life is tough, society is tough, and, with bad things going on around me, my focus on myself should be positive. In the midst of all things bad, I can be good. I am good. That is what I learned from this class. I learned that things happen in life and people say things, influences influence you, but at the end of every day the only opinion of yourself that matters is your own. Molly

Thankfully, I believe the world is promoting uniqueness more and more each day. Beauty is not something we earn, not something we can apply on our faces and not something we must work on. Beauty is something each one of us already possess. Devin

One of the things that surprised me those most this semester was what one of our guest speakers said, she said “I realized that there was one day in my past where I looked my best and I never knew it. I never took advantage of it then”. That was when I realized that I do that. I get stuck in constantly judging myself and comparing myself to others when I could just love myself for who I am right now. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, what could happen to me or what my body will be like in the future, so shouldn’t I enjoy the things that my body can do right now? I can run and jump and hike and swim, things which not everyone can do and I am blessed beyond belief to be able to do those things right now – so why am I not doing them? This was my “aha” moment. The moment when I realized that who I am right now is a blessing, not a curse and I should love my body accordingly.  Rachael

The Kids are Alright Spring 2017 Part I


-Sarah

At the end of each semester, my body image students write a process paper where they synthesize their learning- both personal and academic- for the semester. These papers are always a delight to read and there is so much wisdom in them that I just have to share a fraction of it (with my students’ permission, of course) with you. Here, some wise words from my students this semester. May they give you hope and inspiration the way they did me.   

Body image. Isn’t that exactly what it is? Just a mere image.  It’s not a definition, it’s not a standard, and it’s hardly an expectation. My body image is up to my discretion how I view it. My body image is meant to only supply me happiness, because the rest of the world is looking to make profit from it.  The world wants to make profit off of the unbelievable structure that has carried me successfully through 22 years of life. The body that has blocked me from illness, the body that has offered resiliency and support through the hardest experiences, people are trying to exploit, degrade, and make profit from. No more. No more will I accept society’s belittlement of my home. For my body is my house, my tattoos and piercings making it a home. My body is my safe haven, and it’s time my-self image reflect that. Sarah

Some how along the way, most of us have displaced ourselves from value. We’ve latched on to an idea that beauty and, thus, worth is one path. The ironic thing is most of us are always searching for that path, a path that doesn’t exist. If we are to grow as individuals, we must let go of our preconceived ideas on what makes us less or more worthy than another individual. Devin

I want to encourage and advocate to girls and women that being raw is okay because it is the only time where you can feel your strongest, most empowered, most free, and the most beautiful that you have ever felt. I would tell my daughter to not let society or media determine your beauty. Only you can define your own beauty and that you should never feel like that you are any less than anyone else. I would tell my son to respect women of all diversity, flaws, and curves; to not ridicule, belittle, or degrade women. In the future, I want to live in a society that not only celebrates masculinity but femininity as well. Anika

It’s easy to compare your body size to other girls, especially in college. That’s the normality of society, right? Most people hope to stand out from everyone else, with sole recognition of appearance. But, wouldn’t that make you tired? The spiritless effort of keeping up with the latest trend or trying to meet the “perfect” standard, wouldn’t that make you exhausted? Rachel

Beauty does not come in a one-size-fits-all standard. Truth is, there is no standard. Who says any one of us is more beautiful than the other? Who says what I have to offer the world is any more inspirational than the classmate sitting next to me. We all have a gift waiting to be unwrapped. That sounds corny, but maybe the corny things are what we need to hear to remember our worth. Devin

I’ll be back next week with another dose of inspiration from my students!

Stay woke, dear heart.

stay woke dear heart

We started together at a time when the world was changing– when it felt unfamiliar, maybe even broken to some of us, when it was shifting on its axis and it demanded of us a type of shifting, a refocusing on what was important, what mattered.

Maybe in that moment Body Image felt like the most frivolous thing we could be thinking about or maybe it felt like the most important, like the very thing that we needed to consider so we could resolve it for ourselves and get onto the things that felt most urgent in our soul because we finally came to understand that we are each here on purpose and for every minute that we spend distracted by our hair, our waist, our skin, our musculature, our height, those are minutes that we are stealing away from our meaning and maybe just maybe healing our brokenness would empower us to be one part of the world’s necessary healing.

In the midst of those maybes, here is what I came to learn about you, here is what I cannot help but celebrate:

The way you showed up every single week broken-open and honest. Willing to create the type of earnest, open space and experience that made each one of you feel safe, made each of you willing to talk honestly about race, gender, sexuality, bodies, parents, partners, peers and more, that made each one of you less afraid to bare witness to the pain that permeates our collective existence and the personal brokenness that can sometimes feel impossible to superglue into something new, something that will actually serve us better.

The way you held your brokenness with reverence, not downplaying that it mattered—because it matters, dear heart; you matter– but how with courage and fortitude and hope, you held your brokenness up to the light, allowing the light to perform its service by making things less frightening, by offering a spotlight for a whole new way of seeing things, by putting a shine on your scars in a way that you never could have imagined.

The way you fought for the world with your heart wide open. Not one of you is comfortable with the status quo. Not one of you wants to live in a world that profits off our self-hatred. Not one of you wants your own joy or healing to come at the expense of someone else’s. Each one of you is so eager to do your part not just for your own healing but for the world’s.

The way you woke up to what your heart, body, and soul needed. The way you shifted into the type of profound awareness that will not just keep you safe in this world but will make this world safe for every single one of us.

And so here is what I want you to know as we gather together for one last time in this space and experience that we joined souls and hearts and hands to create together:

You have everything you need inside of you to heal yourself, to help others, to offer comfort and courage and conviction in our efforts to reconcile the world’s pain. You are already worthy. You are always enough. And you are, unequivocally, a radiant light that is needed.

When the day ahead of you is hard, when the voice in your head is unkind, when the person before you is trying to pass off their pain to you, I want you to stop in that moment and revisit these words, remember this truth:

You have within you a type of light and magic that creates safe spaces and your magic is available to you and your community at any time. Get quiet. Remind yourself of all that you have done and created and experienced. Remind yourself of the deep truth of your purpose. Set your intention. Then begin. Never stop beginning again. Stay woke, dear hearts. Stay in your magic.

At the end of each semester, I write my students a letter that is unique to their class.  This was the letter for my body image class this semester.

Want to read some past letters?

The struggle is for you.

You can change us. 

The world is aching for you to show up. 

The world needs your lightness 

We hunger to be known.  

Answer the call into your own greatness 

Radiate Love 

Do the world’s work 

And here is the letter I share with them on the first day of school.  

May You Always See the Beauty in Being Good to Yourself

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I am so excited to share a post from Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness.  Body Kindness has been one of my go-to gift books this year and I was thrilled when Rebecca agreed to sharing her thoughts here as well as provide a book for a book giveaway!

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By way of quick background, Rebecca is an award-winning registered dietitian, certified health and fitness specialist. Lauded by The New York Times Book Review as “Simple and True,” and called “a rousing guide to better health” by Publisher’s Weekly, Body Kindness helps readers create a healthy, happy life with mindful decision-making and choices that fit their interests.  Now, enjoy this wisdom from Rebecca and details for the book giveaway!  

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I dedicated my first book, Body Kindness, to my daughters, Audrey – age 4 and Isla – age 2 and this was my wish for them: “May you always see the beauty in being good to yourself.” I want them to understand that it’s not our appearance that makes us beautiful, it’s in the kindness we give ourselves each and every day.

Our culture has it all wrong when it comes to beauty. With images of unattainable ‘ideal’ beauty bombarding us daily, we are taught that the most worthy thing we can do is to put all our energy into trying to “fix” our appearance. Weight loss is usually at the top of the list. I believe treating yourself with kindness and compassion is beautiful and weight is just a number. Weight should not be used as a label to define who you are as a person or the value you bring to the world.

The diet and beauty cultures are designed to always leave us feeling not worthy enough, so most of us mistakenly associate weight and shape as evidence of good health. We spend our hard earned money trying to correct our “problems”. From beautifying our skin with abrasive chemicals to going to any measure possible to lose weight. We are the victims of beauty ideals and the diet culture that teaches us to believe that our bodies are problems in the first place. Our bodies are not problems. Diet culture is.

 

As a nutrition and fitness expert, I strive to help people become truly well (mind and body) by establishing self-care habits they feel really good about. There are a lot of great things that come from eating nutritious foods, exercising in ways that feel good to your body, and making time for good sleep to tie it all together. But there is such thing as overthinking it and expecting perfection — perfect behavior, perfect body — and then criticizing yourself when you don’t measure up. That’s a trap! Be aware of it and carve out a kind, compassionate path to better habits.

You can opt out of diet culture and be good to your body at the same time. That’s where happiness and health converge. Over the years I’ve learned that real beauty isn’t found in any particular size, but it can be found in every size. You can be healthy and beautiful with cellulite, thick thighs, junk in the trunk, or virtually any body shape. Emotional health is an equal part of the equation.

The beautiful truth I strive to show my daughters every day is the power within us all to make the very personal choice to be good to ourselves. But I didn’t always see this truth. In fact, I dieted most of my life and I was one of those body-shaming experts who put people on diets. All that time, I was a pawn in the diet culture that created me. Now I cringe at the harm I undoubtedly caused people thinking I was being helpful. I’m well aware that the majority of health experts are out there acting like the “old” me. Unfollow them. Unfollow anyone whose mission involves your body oppression, not your liberation.

Eventually, I hit a diet “rock bottom” and I gave up dieting and changed my values. I now support the Health at Every Size principles that encourage respectful care and weight inclusivity (duh, I know!)  Everything I do, whether it’s engaging readers in Body Kindness, sharing people’s stories through videos, or conversations on my podcasts, my mission is to dismantle diet culture in the hopes of my girls and future generations are empowered to invest in things they actual need and want, rather than live a life of always feeling not good enough and overspending on needless crap.

We can choose to realize that beauty is not defined by weight or size and together we can be leaders for our daughters and anyone we influence. Imagine the good we can create in our world if we help others find the beauty in being good to themselves (and resist and reject anything else telling them they’re inadequate).

Want to win a copy of Body Kindness?  Enter my giveaway by sharing one way that you practice (or wish) to practice body kindness with yourself by Friday, May 12th at 5 pm EST.

what would you do if you believed that you were enough?

enoughness_FB

I know how prevalent the belief that “you are not enough” is in our society. Sometimes in direct ways but most often in subtle ways, you are fed the lie that if you change “just one thing” you’ll feel better about yourself.

So you start chasing that “one thing” and before long you end end up physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted from doing all the things you think will make you feel like you’re enough.

But it doesn’t work, does it? Each attempt to “fix” yourself only causes you to feel more insecure about yourself. And constantly nudges that goal even further out of reach. And in the back of your mind is the nagging fear that you’ll never measure up no matter how hard you try.

The truth is (even if this is hard to believe) you are ALREADY enough and if you could see and celebrate this, I know you will feel less stressed and more at home with yourself. You’d be energized and excited about life, not to mention experiencing a whole new level of confidence.

That’s why I’m excited to share about The Enoughness Challenge my friend Makeda is doing. Makeda knows first hand the power of the “not enough” message. She once turned down a promotion she was more than qualified for because she believed wasn’t good enough or smart enough for the role.

She also spent many years hiding her gifts because she believed she needed to be skinnier to be taken seriously. Makeda has done a lot of work to let go of those messages. The result has been more confidence, courage, and boldness in her life and work. She now wants to support other women in discovering the power of owning their enoughness.

For The Enoughness Challenge, she has pulled together a team of women (including me and, just to be clear, I am not being paid to do this and I don’t get any kickbacks.  This is just something I believe in!) to help you own and celebrate all the ways you are ALREADY enough. She’ll be covering enoughness in 6 different areas: at home, at work, in your body, in your relationships, in your creativity, and in the messiness of life.

I’ll be covering enoughness in your body and I will be sharing a little bit on May 20th. I’d love for you to join me.

The Challenge kicks off on May 18, 2017 and runs for 6 days. Then on May 24th, Makeda is hosting a special bonus training on the topic, What to Do When You Forget You Are Enough.

The Challenge and the training are totally FREE. All you have to do is sign-up and you’re in– you’re worth it aren’t you?

Click here to get all the details and to sign-up.

I know it will inspire and motivate you.

Permission Granted

permission granted

 

Once during a high stress period in my life, I found myself racked with anxiety over the pressure I felt to do something that I just did not really want to do. Navigating the stress of not meeting expectations when I had a lifetime of being a good girl under my belt was eating at me and so I scheduled an appointment with a therapist.

When I shared all the details she looked at me with such gracious kindness and said, “of course, you don’t have to do that. Your body is telling you everything you need to know about the fact that this isn’t a fit for you and, intellectually, you knew that you were right. Now, you just need to give yourself that permission.”

She then walked over to her printer, grabbed a piece of paper, and said,

“I want you to write yourself a permission slip that you do not have to do this or anything that doesn’t feel right.”

Before I lost my nerve, I grabbed her paper, and wrote, “I give myself permission to use my cues and intuition to guide me to the decisions and experiences that are best for me without worrying about what is expected of me by someone else who doesn’t know my whole” and then dated and signed it.

My therapist signed it as a witness and I tucked that permission slip into my purse, a constant reminder in the following weeks that I did not, in the words of my beloved Mary Oliver, “have to be good” but I did need to be true.

I was reminded of this permission slip the other day when I was talking to a new friend about her work experience and she was talking about how it took her a little while to move from one profession to another even though she had long known that the old profession was no longer for her. Even with that knowledge, the old profession had been her childhood dream and she wasn’t sure that leaving it was right. Was she abandoning her dreams or had she just outgrown her dream and found another one? Ultimately, after lots of consideration, she realized that she was growing and that her old career no longer served her needs. She gave herself permission to leave her childhood dream, acknowledging that she had actually fulfilled it even if it wasn’t the last profession she would ever have.

Ever since that conversation, the idea of permission has been circling in my mind.

What do I dare give myself permission to dream? To consider? To do?

What am I too scared to give myself permission to consider?

What permission do I most need right now?

How can I harness that permission into my power?

Are you aching for permission in your life? How can you offer it to yourself?  Start now by declaring your intention on paper, tuck into your bag, and watch as you expand into the possibility it offers.

 

To what are you saying yes?

worthy. enough

On Saturday, March 11th, I spoke at She’s Brave, a conference put on by Nourish CLT.  My topic?

You Have to Say No to Say Yes.  

We teach what we most need to learn now don’t we?

For those who have followed me for a bit, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with saying no. It is the thing that I MOST need to do.  It is the hardest thing for me to do.  And I am constantly trying to get better at it so I can live my yeses more deeply, profoundly, and un-distractedly and with a little bit of room to breath between them.

As I was preparing my remarks for She’s Brave, I kept thinking about how our excessive yeses can often be a symptom of our sense of worthiness (or lack of sense of worthiness). We too often say yes to all the things because we don’t believe that we are already worthy and always enough and if we say yes, yes, yes to all the things, we accumulate and prove our worth.

If the idea of this resonates, I encourage you to really analyze your yeses in the coming days. Why have you said yes to this and that and the other? Is it because it is something that you can do wholeheartedly and even MUST do because of how it makes you feel in your soul or is it something that you feel obligated to do or are doing to curry favor or worth?

As your answers come to you, reevaluate your yeses and see if there is a way to make room in your life for your most pure passion and purposes.  We have a limited amount of time and energy and our yeses have the most profound power when we can do them wholeheartedly.

Announcing Find Your Center!

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Do you have a daughter who is 11-14 
would love a pottery + self-acceptance day camp?  
Find Your Center (June 26-30) might be perfect!  
Have your daughter join Melissa Reddick and Rosie Molinary for a fun and creative journey into her center. From exploring one’s own thoughts and feelings in journal exercises and thoughtful discussion to finding center on the potter’s wheel, from claiming our intentions out loud to declaring them in our hand built work, participants will enjoy this creative embrace of who they are and where they are right now.
Our days together will be guided by these themes:

Finding Your Joy: We’ll start camp by exploring what bring us joy, how we offer joy, and taking joy in our self-exploration and creative process.

Finding Your Hope: What are our biggest wishes? What do we want more and less of in our lives? What do those things reveal to us about ourselves, our hopes, our dreams, and our possibilities?

Finding Your Heart: What are our values and loves and how do we want those things to guide how we show up in the world, our decisions, and actions?

Finding Your Voice: How can we be our most authentic selves in the world and share what we have to say in meaningful ways?

Finding Your Way: What intentions do we want to guide us moving forward and how can we practice them?

Dates: June 26-30

Time: 9 am – 1 pm

Location: Black Seed Pottery Studio in Davidson, NC.

Ages:  11-14

Cost: $300 includes a journal, clay, glaze, and firing costs.

What to bring: A nut free lunch, water bottle, and a sense of adventure!

For more details and to register online, visit www.blackseedpottery.com

Questions? Contact Melissa at blackseedpottery@gmail.com .  

 

Join me on March 29th at Park Road Books!

In the Greater Charlotte area?  
Mark your calendars! 
I’ll be at Park Road Books on March 29th to talk 
Beautiful You and self-acceptance 
and you are invited!