ways to show yourself compassion

I was discussing my recent New Year’s Resolution with my therapist last week. I’d decided to do a random act of kindness for someone each day. It doesn’t have to be a big deal at all–even a kind word will do it! I just thought it would be a great way to spread a little love and get out of my head a bit.

But then my therapist started me thinking (as therapists so often do). She replied that my idea sounded wonderfully and lovely, but had I considered adding myself to the list of random act of kindness participants?

I looked at her with a little bit of amusement and assured her that no, that wasn’t how it worked.

But that got me thinking: why can’t it be? If I’m so dedicated to showing love to other people, it seems a little bit ridiculous that I’m harboring so much hate and guilt towards myself. I realize those are strong words, but anyone with an eating disorder will connect with them. Sometimes the self loathing is so strong all you want to do is turn off your life and become someone, anyone, else. Which is impossibly sad.¬†

So I decided to take her up on her suggestion, and begin making myself the recipient of some of my random acts of kindness. It isn’t a selfish thing; it’s about self preservation. Part of the recovery process is remembering all of the wonderful things these magnificent bodies of ours are capable of. To do that, you’ve got to show ’em a little bit of love!

Here’s my list of 15 little ways to show yourself some compassion today.

1. Buy some new bubble bath/bath bombs and take a long, lingering soak. Don’t worry about the other shit you have to get done.
2. Take an hour/two hours/an afternoon to do what you really like doing. Don’t try to fool yourself into, “But I really do enjoy doing my homework!” Nope. Next choice. For me, this is reading or knitting ūüôā
3. Start a movie or TV show marathon. You can be working on other tasks while you play it, but make sure it’s something you love. For me, this is Modern Family.
4. Say no. Recognize when you need to do something for yourself instead of going out with friends or doing an extra task, and say no without feeling guilty all night. I’m still working on this one, but it can be an awesome feeling!
5. Window shop! I go online and look at outfits that would look great on me. Price is no object when you’re just gazing.
6. Call someone you love and talk for a while. For me, this is usually my boyfriend or my mom. It can be so nice to hear someone’s voice and talk about nothing important for a while. If you need support, ask them for it. Be reminded of why they love you.
7. Make yourself a mug of something good. For a quick pick me up, I gravitate towards hot, good-for-the-soul drinks. If I don’t want to stress, it’s either hot water, tea, or coffee, but if I’m feeling indulgent and ready to challenge myself, I’ll get hot cocoa or a latte.¬†
8. Read something inspirational. For me, this runs the gamut between my devotional (Jesus Calling) and the accompanying Bible verses, to Peace Is In Every Step, a Taoist text on peace. Whatever works for you! Gain a little bit of inspiration and a chunk of perspective. 
9. Paint your nails. Take the ten minutes out of your routine to make yourself feel sparkly and pretty and worth it.
10. NAP!! This has become a huge one for me. I get so exhausted from the daily struggle of life plus recovery, and I have finally learned not to fight the nap train anymore. I embrace it. If there’s time for a nap, I will take it. Listen to what your body needs!
11. Take a walk and jam. I’m not allowed to exercise yet, which makes me a little stir crazy sometimes. When I have to have to get out and do something, I’ll take a walk and listen to a Pandora station I love (currently switching it up between Hillsong United, Mumford, and The Civil Wars).
12. Draw and color. There’s nothing more relaxing than making a coloring book pretty. Give your brain a chance to relax.
13. Let it go. Is there something you have to get done but just can’t do right now? Okay. Let it go. Seriously, put it aside for an hour or a day and come back to it later. Be kind to yourself and stop forcing your brain to do something it just doesn’t want to do. You’ll come back to it refreshed and ready to work.
14. Plan the future…but only fun things! I currently take mini breaks to Pinterest some inspiration about my upcoming trip to Italy and Paris. Places I want to eat macarons? Check. Gorgeous fountains? Check. Dream big! You have a future outside of ED.
15. Remind yourself how well you’re doing. Sometimes it pays to just take a moment and remember: You are enough. You have enough. You do enough. Recovery is absolutely exhausting, mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you start getting bogged down by how far you have to go, remember how far you have come. You’ve taken the first step towards getting better. Be proud of yourself.

What do you guys do to show yourself a little love? Let me know!

Adorable Little Ones

I don’t think I have a case of baby fever, at the moment. The same cannot be said for many of my college compatriots, who I see swooning over the little ones running about campus with a hungry look in their eyes. They’re so ready.

I am so not.

I do not want diapers or dirty dishes or throwing up or all my money spent on all of the above.

Logically.

But all of the cute fall and winter pictures of little hipster children? Yep. I’m there. I love them all. And a little bit of my heart cannot wait to dress my own in cute little pom pom hats and owl sweaters and baby slouchy boots and cart them around to parks and farmer’s markets and artisinal stores while we chatter amiably about the latest book that we have read together.

Le sigh. A girl can dream.

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Little Eleanor from Love, Taza. She’s a girl after my own heart.

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Curly haired little guy. My dream.

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What could be sweeter?

 

Dreaming of a Winter Wonderland

I’ll admit it: for me, we have officially reached the holiday season. I held out for as long as I could. I, too, scoffed at the sinfully arrival of Santas and snowmen to the store shelves. I denied myself the pleasure of Peppermint park and holiday cocoa.

But I simply cannot hold out any longer.

This morning, I decorated my room for the holidays, complete with garlands, snowglobes, and, of course, Christmas lights hung over the window. I listened to my Josh Groban holiday Pandora station as I drove cross town all morning.

And this evening, I will spend some time organizing my Holiday Bucket List.

Yes, the holiday season has officially arrived in Lauren’s heart, Are you all managing to hold out any longer?

Here’s a little piece of gorgeous inspiration for my decorating style. I can’t wait for snow and home!

 

A Book Lover’s Blog…dreams do come true

I have a love/hate relationship with book recommendations. On the one hand, books are so personal to me that I find it difficult to imagine some online editor could really know what I would like, based off of my passing interest in “The Hunger Games.” So I’m always a little wary of any of those ‘If you loved…’ lists.

And on the other hand…I love books. And I am always on the hunt for new ones.

So I proceeded with trepidation when I heard about the website Go Book Yourself, which proffers “book recommendations by humans, because algorithms are so 1984.” Promising.

The site is beautifully done, with a lovely infographic and short n’ sweet descriptions of the book (too much detail is the death of literary recommendations). I decided to search for a match to one of my favorite reads of the past few months. And a miracle occurred! What should pop up in the first few book suggestions but my new favorite, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I will be laying my little bibliophile hands on these other two soon, have no doubt.

I could spend hours trolling around this site. But now I shall return to homework. Sigh. The life of a busy book fiend.Image

Fall Back…

It’s most definitely November. The wind has grown chillier and more insistent; evening comes on sooner. I find myself reaching for an extra scarf or heavier jacket most mornings, because I can’t believe how quickly this month has arrived!

I absolutely love the fall. The period between my birthday and New Year’s is my absolute favorite: a whirlwind of coziness, family and friends, decorations, Christmas music, and (best of all?) delicious food!

In my quest for a happy mind and healthy body, I’ve wracked up quite a few dessert recipes I’d love to try. Here are the ones currently at the top of my wish list.

White Chocolate Espresso Cake by pastryaffair

White Chocolate Frosted Espresso Cake from Pastry Affair…all of my favorites in one beautiful, pastry package.

White Chocolate-Topped Cinnamon Chip Cinnamon Bars

White chocolate topped cinnamon chip bars from Averie Cooks…the only thing better than cinnamon? Cinnamon paired with chocolate.

Apple-Gingerbread Cobbler | MyRecipes.com

Apple gingerbread cobbler from My Recipes. Everything that is good and right about the holiday season.

I probably won’t have time to make any of these delicacies for a couple of weeks, since my show opens this coming weekend. Cue excitement. Cue panic. Cue growing to-do list. But just putting them up here motivates me to get back in the kitchen and enjoy delicious food! There is much truth to the saying that desserts like these are good for your soul.

The Myth of the Size Zero

There is this strange duality in the performing arts world that I’ve been thinking about lately. We are expected (and by we, I mean women) to be fit, strong, and toning at the gym. We should be eating healthy, getting our fruits and veggies, and avoiding fries and frappucinos and fro yo like it’s the plague.
And at the same time, we are expected to be thin. Very thin. If you compare the size of girls at my school, just generally, with those of women the same age at other state colleges, you would see the average size is incredibly different.
These two goals work together very well. And by that, I mean it is so very simple to cloak unhealthy behaviors in the veil of fitness. Eating a little oatmeal, two salads, and running three miles? That was a successful day in my book. We endow food with mystical qualities of good and evil: chia seeds are fruit of the gods; cookies are put in front of us as temptation!
Here’s the thing, though: being skinny does not equal success. It certainly does not equal being happy. Society, and the performing world in general, promises young women the myth of the size zero: once you reach a certain tiny size, you will be happier, stronger, sexier, funnier, able to go for a jog and ace the interview all before breakfast.

It isn’t true. I wish I could say there was a magic spell to get all these things, but I know for a fact it does not lie in killing yourself to be thin. There are so many other important things in this world than fitting into a pair of skinny jeans. Being fit and healthy is absolutely one of them. But I fear that so many young women cross the line into a zone of obsession because of this empty promise.
I am working now on realizing I can be described in so many ways. My size lies at the very bottom of that list.
I’m beginning this November with a new commitment to loving myself and loving this life. I hope you all are too: you are too beautiful to ignore your own well being.

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Date Night…from 924 Miles Away

We are obviously extremely serious people.

I love date nights, of all shapes and sizes. ¬†There is something about making plans and having adventures that makes me giddy like no other. ¬†One of the hardest things about being in a long distance relationship (and believe me, there are lots of hard things) is the lack of these fun little bonding moments. ¬†The Boyfriend and I are very good about the every day little things that make relationships work–for example, I know he spends all day admiring and contemplating the obnoxious number of “cute fluffy animals in silly situations” Snapchats I send him. But sometimes, you really do need the little dose of something special to remind you what it is to truly be in love with your best friend. How’s that for romance?

After a rough week, all I wanted was to curl up on the couch with my guy after a lovely dinner out, maybe sip a glass of wine, and watch movies that made us laughed till we choked on our popcorn. ¬†But that’s pretty hard to do when I’m down in the south at school and he’s still his enjoying his summer up north. ¬†So we devised our game plan for a simple but¬†fun date night that you can do cross country!

Step One: Pick your movie
This was the most involved step for us.¬† It takes some time to figure out what you can get at when one of you is at home with their entire movie collection and video rental places, and one of you basically has Netflix and chick flicks (guess which is which in our situation?) Pick in advance so you have time to get the goods! For our first pick, we did Silver Linings Playbook,one of my favorites. Next time Chris will pick one of his.¬† It’s fun to work down a list: maybe Favorite Childhood Movies, Movies with George Clooney, Movies About Italy…you get the idea.

Step Two: Pick your time
This one can also be hard if you’re working on different time zones.¬† The Boyfriend and I are both central, but we’re also both busy.¬† Be proactive in finding a time that works–and don’t cancel!

Step Three: Theme  it up with dinner/snacks/desserts galore
We didn’t get a chance to do this, but I think it would be super fun to have the same things to munch on as your partner.¬† For Silver Linings, we both could have had adventures making Homemades or something else featured in the movie (or just vodka). This is almost like a whole other date in itself; gotta add it to the list!

Step Four: Get cuddly
Build your ultimate comfy zone! It was a little sad to not be actually cuddling with my guy, so I made sure my space had all kinds of pillows and blankets to get super comfy.  I also got to send him pictures of me huddled up like an Eskimo in a snow storm, which obviously brings us closer together.
seeing stars through your fort

Step Five: Timing is everything!
Another difficult part of long distance movie watching?  Getting the freaking technology to cooperate.  The Boyfriend and I literally sat on the phone, controllers in hand, and counted down to the second we pressed play.  And it still was a little off.  But getting their reactions is the absolute best part, so I encourage you to go the little extra mile!

Step Six: Watch and Talk
Probably my favorite part.¬†There are many possible ways to communicate how much you’re freaking out about the movie. The Boyfriend and I live texted the whole thing.¬† You could also talk on the phone, Skype, Google chrome, Snapchat…as many varieties as there are relationships, I’d imagine. Find what works and is fun for you! Anything that makes you feel connected is a positive choice in my book.

Reaction shot! Not really. But too cute to pass up.

Step Eight: Debrief…the ooey gooey stuff
I think this is probably an overlooked part of the long distance date: make sure you call and actually chat about what you just did! Or else it’s a bit of a, “Wellp, that was fun, I to my bed you to yours” kind of experience.¬† Talk about what was hilarious, how could this be your favorite movie, wasn’t George Clooney cute in the ’80s?¬† Well, maybe save that last one for your friends.¬† Sharing the experience is what makes it a date, so share it.¬† Also a great time for all of the typical relationship I miss you’s and I love you’s that I can never get enough of.

Why I Love Weddings

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I have no plans to get married any time soon. Like, we are talking at least a four years out to engagement life plan, here.  And though I know this, and do that awkward crazy laugh when anyone mentions my marriage (my voice teacher mentioned she thought I might come back from spring break with a ring, and I think my hilarity might have freaked her out a bit), I am obsessed with weddings.

I confess it.

And not just my future dream wedding (though my Pinterest wedding board is glorious). ¬†But every wedding, every where. ¬†I watch TLC’s Bride Days like it’s my job, whenever I have time. ¬†During my daily 30 minute jog, I watch Say Yes to the Dress. ¬†I collect wedding magazines (I’m currently into Brides of Oklahoma and Brides of North Texas…those editors do incredible work!), and I follow wedding blogs. ¬†It’s becoming a bit of a thing.

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I started thinking about why I love them so much when my brother came to visit last week, and saw a couple of the magazines sitting in our living room. ¬†He was super quiet during dinner, and when I mentioned how excited I was to go visit the Boyfriend (aka Navy Boy) over break, he turned about fifteen shades of purple and said, “You are NOT getting married right now.” To which I replied, utterly perplexed, “Well…duh?”

I am not at the right point in my life for the idea of my own marriage to be at the forefront of my mind. ¬†But I do know what it is like to love someone with every single fiber of your heart, to look at them like they hung the moon, and to be treated like a princess. It’s one of the reasons we were put on this earth, I think. And while I love feeling it for myself, seeing that love on other couples’ faces, the simple little ways they sacrifice and lift each other up, makes me remember how incredibly blessed we all are.

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That’s why I love weddings. ¬†Not the huge, over the top, let’s-pay-$100,000-so-we-can-party-with-people-we-don’t-know types. ¬†I love the simple and sweet, the ones that are about celebrating a relationship with the friends and family who have supported it all along. ¬†After I disappointed my teacher by telling her I was not, in fact, engaged, and had no plans of becoming so any time soon, she surprised me with some wonderful and sage advice, something I hadn’t really thought about a lot before.

“Marriage doesn’t change anything,” she said. “The foundation of the relationship is there. ¬†You’ve already been ‘married’ to each other for months or years before the actual wedding. ¬†Once you commit your life to someone, you’re there. ¬†The wedding is just the celebration for everyone, the cherry on top.”

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I’m carrying that in my heart now. ¬†What a beautiful way to think of it! ¬†You’re basically already there, so why be stressed? No matter what else I do with my life, I hope to spend some of my time working with weddings. ¬†I want to write for a bridal magazine and help capture the beauty of real couple’s special day with the reflection of their entire relationship. ¬†Or maybe even plan! Weddings will always¬†be my happy place.