Taking a Leap of Faith

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Tomorrow I am taking another huge leap of faith. Tomorrow I get to share this video with a group of high school students and talk to them about Eating Disorders and Recovery. I wanted to share it with all of you first so that you could be praying that it would help open a conversation, that recovery is possible and grace is so much better. My story is one of millions and it has never been about me but if sharing my story of grace helps one person find freedom and grace than it is worth sharing.

Thanks for watching!

Always remember…

You are loved and you are worth it,

<3MK

23 Reasons I am Getting Married at 23

 

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The last few weeks have felt like a whirlwind. Actually more like a dream come true and a fairy tale wrapped into one. In fact, I still feel like I am processing all that has happened since December 19th, the day Brett asked me to spend forever with him. I have wanted to write about my favorite guy and fiance for so long and especially since the engagement. I am beyond excited to start this new journey with my best friend and love of my life. There are many things I could write about him, in fact I could fill up multiple posts. However, today when I read an article about things one should try before or instead of getting married at twenty three, I thought it was time to write. This in no way is a slap in the face to that author. She has her own experience and I have mine. I am not naive and neither is Brett. We are not getting married because we decided to on a whim. This is a decision we have talked about, thought about, prayed about, and sought wise counsel about.I know that different people make decisons for different reasons based on what is best for them. However, when I started this blog I promised to be honest and share my story. So here we go. Maybe you are thinking about marriage, maybe you have been married for thirty years, maybe marriage is not even in your sights. Whatever your life, whatever your choice, this is not a recipe or an instruction manual on why you should or shouldn’t get married. It is simply one imperfect girl’s reasons for marrying at 23. In no particular order…here are the reasons I am marrying Brett Eric Stainsby on July 4th:

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1. Age doesn’t matter. Sure we would not have been mature years ago but  now we are both adults. I am 22 and Brett is 26. We will be 23 and 27 when we get married and we made this adult mature decison together.

2. He treats me with respect. More than just opening doors and pulling out chairs. Brett genuinely respects me as a person and as his future wife.

3. He is my best friend. He is who I never hold back anything from and in turn he never holds back from me.

4. He accepts my mess, flaws and all. He is willing to walk through the trenches with me, even if it is messy, tear ridden sometimes ugly journey.

5. He shares his mess with me and is not afraid to let me into his deepest darkest days.

6. He makes a choice everyday to love me and show me love, even when I am annoying, even when I am bratty, even when I am mean, even when I haven’t showered.

7. He shows me grace, grace for my mistakes, grace for my flaws, grace for my imperfections.

8. He constantly reminds me to show myself grace and models it for me.

9. He sacrifices for me. Whether it be big or small. The other day he quit on hold twelve of a great game of golf on a beautiful day to go to an event where he knew no one, just to be there for him.

10. He calls me out lovingly when I am wrong. He doesn’t let me get away with things I do wrong. However, he shows me grace for my mistakes and loves me despite them.

11. He loves Jesus big time. He loves Him way more than he loves me. He actively pursues his faith and leads me.

12. He makes me laugh. Whether it is dancing silly, using accents, or teasing me. When I am around him I cannot help but smile.

13. He makes life better. He makes my good days more amazing and my bad days sweeter.

14. He encourages me to tell my story, to share my life with others and he supports me in the process.

15. He is an amazing listener. I may give him a hard time for not remembering every little detail but he truly does listen, especially when it counts.

16. He tells me I am beautiful no matter what and he means it. The first time he told me he loved me, he told me no matter what I looked like, I was beautiful and he loved me.

17. He makes me feel like I am the only girl in the world. Ten supermodels could walk by him while we are having lunch and the man would not even glance up at them.

18. He loves my family and shows them more kindness, love and grace than anyone ever has.

19. He takes time for my friends and considers them his own. I have never seen anyone so loved and respected by my friends.

20. He is willing to do silly things with me. Last night he watched High School Musical 2 with me while I sang along to every song and he said it was the best night.

21. He has the kindest spirit. He would give the shirt off his back to anyone and he is always willing to help anyone in need.

22. He is genuine and down to earth. He couldn’t care less about the money someone makes or where they live. He loves people for their hearts and spirits not for their material worth.

23. He wants to do life with me and I want to do life with him…FOREVER! We are not taking this marriage lightly. We know that the commitment we are making is a life long one and we couldn’t be more excited.

So there you go. Those are the reasons that I am marrying my Brett. Some of you make look at them and scoff, others may relate. Whether I decide to one day travel to the Effiel Tower, Sky Dive, get a PhD or decide to some, all, or none of those things and many more I want to be there with him through it all. He is not perfect or a saint and neither am I. We are two hopelessly imperfect people, in need of grace who want to do life together. We don’t have life completely figured out and we never will but we want to do the “figuring out” of life with each other. He is who I want by my side. He is who I want to do life with. He is my one person.

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I hope that each of you are filled with as much joy as we are, whether you are married or not or whether you are 23 or not (Brett is not 🙂 ). I also hope you know that you can have the adventure of your life even if you are married or not!

And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

❤ MK

Words Are Worse Than Sticks and Stones

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My heart hurts. I am near tears. I am sad. I am angry. I am outraged but I am hopeful…

I’ve thought and prayed all day before I wrote this post, because I know of the wide variety of people who might read this article. Even more I thought of my future son or daughter who might one day read this article and I thought of the world he or she might live in. I can only hope that it is more compassionate and loving towards those with Eating Disorders and other issues. For over a decade, I lived in the silence of a sickness that was killing me and so much of the reason I lived in silence was because I was embarrassed and I was afraid. I was afraid of articles such as the one I read today. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be taken seriously or understood.

This morning a friend tagged me in the comments of an article and asked if I wanted to tackle this article on my blog. Typically I am not one to respond to articles such as this but my heart broke for the women and men who might read this article and who more than that agreed or believed it in any way to be true. Typically I would link my post to an article I reference but frankly I would prefer others not read it. However, to give you readers some context the article I read had to do with reasons to date girls with EDs. After reading the article and being thoroughly appalled I decided that it was time to take a stand because after all change doesn’t happen when we sit around and do nothing. So today, I am going to share a part of my story again, in hopes that it may help someone else. After all, my story of my struggle with Ed is one of millions but it is one that I feel compelled to share. Because in my heart, I believe we go through trials and hardships in order to help others with their own burdens. So here is to helping others and sharing our own stories so that the word might be changed through grace.

Honestly, if I believed that this was just one absurd article than that would be one thing but sadly statements and messages such as these are becoming the norm. I learned in kindergarten that sticks and stones break bones but words could never hurt me. That was a lie and it still his. Words hurt so much more than a stick or stone ever could. If you are reading this and have dealt with physical abuse, please know that in no way am I making light of it but I want people to understand the value of words in response to such a hateful article. My bruises from getting knocked down on the playground healed but the hateful words that were said to me left wounds that took and still take time to heal. When we say negative things about other people especially about their bodies, we are stating not only words that can never be taken back but we are also judging based on solely physical appearance, which in no way determines our worth. It in no way measures our heart, our journey, or our stories. However,  sadly articles such as these preach the opposite and in turn cause bruises worse than any stone. Eating Disorders as they were in the article are glamorized and even more taken lightly, when in reality they are life taking, soul sucking illnesses that need serious medical help and awareness all over the world. I will never forget the amount of time I spent pouring over various glamour magazines, looking at unrealistic standards of beauty. I spent hours memorizing diets and workout plans and it left me empty and unfulfilled. No matter how hard I tried to look a certain way it was never enough. The media promotes a standard of beauty and appearance that is not only unhealthy but it also distorts the reality of true beauty. Instead, we are fed images that are not only unhealthy but also unrealistic. As a girl who spent years striving to look a certain way, all those images ever did was leave me with a huge hole in my heart.

Sadly I am not the only one who was often left with a hold in her heart, that no one knew about. People with Eating Disorders often look like they have it all together. For over a decade, I was the girl with the smile on her face. I was the All-American, Girl Next Door poster child. I had everything I could have ever wished for and more, yet inside I was dying, taken over by a stronghold so much greater than I ever realized. I felt so, so alone because I believed no one would understand that I didn’t have it all together and that my world might be falling down around me. While I felt alone the one thing I have realized throughout recovery is the fact that other people who struggle with Ed also feel alone and isolated. I never talked about my issue because I thought that others wouldn’t understand and that they would judge me because I wasn’t perfect. What I learned was that no one expected me to be perfect in the first place and was relieved when I wasn’t. When I am messy and real I am me and that is why I share my story, because Eds lie and manipulate and articles that promote such unhealthy realities only fuel such lies.

Because Ed lies and deceives we often believe the lie that Eating Disorders only affect a certain group of people and the rest are immune. However, I am here to tell you no matter your race, gender, culture, socioeconomic standing, nationality, or age Eating Disorders don’t discriminate. Eating Disorders affect everyone from young kids to grandparents. Mine started when I was a young child, before I even hit puberty. Even more, along my journey of recovery I have met men, women, grandparents, parents, teachers, lawyers, doctors, wealthy, poor, middle class, people of various races, and so many other groups of people who have dealt with Ed in their lives.Even more than discrimination of Eating Disorders based on the background of people. We often discriminate based on the appearance of someone. Finally, professionals are learning that there is no set weight or number for someone who has an eating disorder. Ed doesn’t discriminate based on the number on the scale. In fact, numbers don’t matter at all. People of all shapes and sizes struggle, however are overlooked because they don’t meet certain criteria. By making light of an issue because we assume it only affects a certain percentage of people is to not only be ignorant but also to let others who don’t fall into a specific category know that it is not okay if they struggle with this issue. And that in my book is not okay!

While my heart was heavy after reading the aforementioned article, my heart is also incredibly hopeful. A few weeks ago I was contacted by some incredibly brave students from my Alma mater at TCU. They decided to do a project on Healthy Body Image and Banning Fat Talk. You can watch the interviews they did here:

and sign their petition to eliminate fat talk here /http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tcu-fat-talk/ It is students and individuals like these that make me so grateful for the opportunity I have to continue to build awareness of Ed and Body Image issues. They are not alone in the fight and it is my hope that after seeing their video and reflecting on your own experience with body image that you too would begin to change the conversation, that you would think about the words you are about to speak before they leave your tongue. Together we can make a change for our future sons and daughters to not have to live in a world where Eating Disorders and other mental illnesses are taken lightly. Whether you struggle with Ed or some other kind of addiction or stronghold, know that you are not alone in the fight and even more know that articles like the one I read today are not truth. The more we share our stories and struggles the more opportunity we have for a change to take place. And the more we cling to grace and not perfection the better chance we have to change the world . Today and always I am proud to call myself an Ed survivor and a Recovery Warrior and I hope that no matter your issue you keep fighting and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!!

xoxo MK

The Year That Changed Me

My day speaking to some amazing high schoolers.

My day speaking to some amazing high school students.

“So there you go that’s me…I am not perfect (in fact I am as far from perfect as they come…I am actually quite a mess 🙂 ), I need grace always (sometimes I wonder how He puts up with me, but he ALWAYS does and ALWAYS will), and I am on a journey ( a roller-coaster of a journey)…a journey to a life without ED. So if you are like me or you know somebody like me, join me on this journey (but before you do buckle up. This will be the best ride of your life but just as on any great roller-coaster there will be lots of hills and drops along the way, but the end will be great). I cannot promises roses and sunshine everyday but I can promise joy in the midst of pain and a life so wonderful, you can’t even begin to imagine it! ” -From my first post A Ballerin, A Modeler and a Recovering Anorexic

 

I am sitting on my bed overwhelmed and with tears in my eyes…but these are the good kind of tears…the happy, the grateful, the amazed kind of tears. I cannot believe all this year has brought and all the grace I have been shown since I started to share my story here a year ago. A year ago, I wrote a post about my story, my journey through Ed recovery and a year later I am amazed and truly beyond blessed by the journey that I have been on since then. Today I spent the day with high school students sharing my story and talking about eating disorder awareness and it truly was the best day. Once again, I am astounded by the bravery of those students to talk to me and share their hearts and questions. In my mind, I am and will always be just a girl who decided to share her messiness with the world, a simple girl who has been blessed by Grace and Unconditional Love that is bigger than her mess ever will be…

As I sat down and reread my very post from a year ago, I couldn’t believe how far I had come. In fact I am still astounded and humbled. You see unlike the girl in the first post Ed and I don’t talk on a regular basis, or on a weekly or monthly basis. In fact, we really have no relationship at all. However, when his lies occasionally creep up and he decides he might like to visit I have a support team in place to remind me those are lies and what truth is. What a blessing it is to hear the truth and believe it. Today, I live my life in the freedom of recovery. It means not everyday is perfect, not everyday is great, but everyday holds beauty even in the midst of pain and everyday is a step in the right direction. In the last year, I learned that recovery in no manner is an open and shut book that you put up on the shelf to never touch again. Recovery is a work in progress and so am I.

A year ago, I could have never imagined sharing my story with thousands of others. In fact, even as I wrote my first blog post I was astounded by the love and grace I was shown. Even more than sharing through words on a page I never thought I would be given the opportunity to share on the news, on the radio, in newspapers and in public forums. I never dreamed I would be introduced as an Ed survivor (talk about humbling). That my friends is the beauty of grace. I in no manner deserve this and yet I was given this beautiful opportunity to share my story. In all truth, I am merely one of millions that has a story of Ed struggles and a story of recovery and yet because of grace I have been blessed ten million times over by this blog and by the opportunity to share my story.

You my friends, each of you reading are the reason I continue to write and share my story. I am continually inspired by each of you and the way you live your lives full of grace and beauty. I once thought that being messy and broken would be awful but it is the most freedom and the most joy I have ever felt. Being real, means being me and I really like being me.

If there was one thing from the past year that I could share with you friends, it would be that your story matters, and even a year later I realize how much this is true. I have said it many times before, but only you can tell your story and when you tell your story you give others the opportunity to be real and share theirs. When you share your story you allow the story of grace to be told and when that happens lives change. It is no accident that this blog is called leaving perfection learning grace. I am constantly learning to leave my perfectionist ways behind and live in the freedom of grace. Each time I make a small step in the right direction and choose to tell the story of my messy broken life I get a chance to experience grace. You my friend have the same opportunity as well, so go out there, be brave, and tell your story! You will be surprised at how many people can relate…

So to my best friends, my lunch bunch, my family, my Brett, my RUF community, my roommate, my cheerleaders, my mentors, my big sis’s, my TCU, my girls, my staff, my reader friends, to all of you who have listened to me share my story you are the reason that I do this. Your support, your tear drying, your laughter, your diet cokes, your coffees, your hugs, and your unconditional love and support have made this all possible. Thank you for allowing me to  be the real me, messiness and all, and THANK YOU for always, always, always, showing me love and grace. You mean the world to me and I couldn’t do this without you!

To any of you out there who struggle with Ed or anything else, know that there is HOPE a hope much BIGGER than your struggle, grace is REAL, recovery IS POSSIBLE, and YOUR story MATTERS, and MAY YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH IT!!
<3MK

 

 

Changing the Conversation

One of the most important truth speakers in my life.

One of the most important truth speakers in my life.

I remember standing on the scales getting my weight read to me and marked down in my file for my seventh grade dance class. I was traumatized, I knew the exact numbers and how it had changed since last semester. Years later, during the middle of my junior year I would miss a state mandated fitness test because I was terrified to step on the scale and to know my weight and BMI. Of course, I would fake sick to get out of it but internally I knew I could never know those numbers because they would haunt me. For years, each time I went in for a check-up no matter how sick I was I made sure to pay attention to my weight, how it had changed. I would prep for days going into my appointment so I “maintained a good weight”. I was so very sick and I had no idea.

Today I still struggle. Recovery is not an open and shut book that I can close and put on the shelf. However, I am thousands miles from where I once was. The other day I ate brownies for breakfast solely because I wanted them and let me tell you they were delicious. For me, I have certain triggers that I have to be careful to avoid or deal with in a proper manner or Ed thinks he can come have a chat with me. I am so grateful for my journey and what has happened to me during my twelve year battle and my two year ongoing recovery journey. However, I can’t help but wonder what if something had changed sooner, when I was younger. And that gives me hope for the young people now that struggle, that a change can be made but first we have to change the conversation.

This past week I spent some incredibly wonderful time with one of the most amazing young girls you will ever meet. As an eighth grader, she holds wisdom that I can only hope to one day have. Watching her interact with her friends, cheer with her cheer team and talking about boys at night, got me to thinking about young MK at that age. She was a mess and she had no idea what to do. More days than not she didn’t get the nutrition she needed as she missed meals and hid her double life. She strived to be the beautiful girl that all the boys wanted to date, and all the girls thought was gorgeous. And it got me to thinking about how early these issues start especially for young girls (young men are definitely not exempt). And even more it made me realize there are so many young people who deal with the same issues and we don’t address it because we assume they are too young to have those struggles. They aren’t.

So today I want to take a moment to talk to those young girls, the moms of young people, the teachers to these kids, and anyone who interacts with these young people on a daily basis…Take notice of these young people because they see the world in a manner that you can’t, they see the beauty and they see the pain. They are confused and trying to become the best individuals they can, so stop putting pressure on them to be the best. Encourage them to be their best.

Today across the world, there are young girls skipping lunch, running to the bathroom, literally running for miles, pouring over magazines, crying in the mirror, trying to fit into a certain perfect size jeans, writing in their diary because some boy told them they weren’t pretty. And it matters…it is not just simple words, your words, their words, they matter. We have to start changing this and it starts with changing the conversation.

Stop telling them they are beautiful for their physical appearance. Instead tell them they are important, their opinions matter, they are going to change the world. Their physical beauty is fleeting and could change in an instant but their beautiful hearts are forever. Tell them they are loved for the unique individual they are. Tell them there is no one like them in the world, because it is true. Don’t wait till it is too late!

Moms, Dads, teachers, friends, pastors, mentors, young people, you have a chance to change the conversation and it starts today. I hope today that you feel loved for who you are on the inside and not on the outside because that is what matters and from a young lady who has fought harder than anyone should ever have to, to believe this truth I promise changing the conversation, it is worth it and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK

JLO, Smashing Mugs, and Changing the Story

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Truth be told, I like for other people to think that I am basically JLo in the Wedding Planner. In fact, when I mention that I am a Wedding Planner/Coordinator I sometimes throw that little joke in there and other times people just assume that is my life. Don’t get me wrong I love my job but it is a whole lot less glamour and glitter filled that JLo’s in that movie. However, the huge drama factor is still there. I get to deal with people who are focused on the biggest day of their life, which is exciting, happy, joyous and ah yes stressful. Insert the added drama. However, whether people’s dream day goes off without a hitch or whether there are many hitches (one’s they will never know about it, insert my job here) I get to witness the beginning of two lives, two stories coming together.

I have always been captivated by people’s stories. It is one of the many reasons I was an English major. It is probably also one of the reasons I picked my job. I LOVE to hear people’s stories. I love to read people’s stories. I love to listen to them. I love to watch them. I love to hear about them in any way shape, or form. However, oftentimes I feel like I am living the same story. I don’t want to change my story because that is too painful. It is too difficult. It is too much. But I have to and so do you.

When I started recovery nearly a year and half ago i had a decision to make. I could either start rewriting my story or keep living the same one. I could either hold tightly to the cliff or jump into the clear blue water. I of course chose to jump. More times than others I have had to remind myself why I made the decision I did, why I chose the road less traveled. If I am being honest this road has been hard. It been messy. It has been broken but it has been worth it. I could keep living the lies or I could walk in truth, truth that set me free.

There are certain lies that Ed used to tell me minute to minute about how I looked and the way I should feel about myself. Many of them came from experiences with family, boyfriends, friends and so on. Built up, these lies began to tell a story of who I was and what my worth was in. On my worst days, I sometimes think about those lies and start to wonder if they are still true (as if they EVER were!!). And I have to stop and remind myself that I get an opportunity to change the story of who I am, of what my worth is in and in what I am all about. That decision to change the story came when I decided to choose recovery.

Earlier this summer I smashed a mug. It was a mug made for me by a former boy. It was special to our relationship and I used to drink coffee out of it every morning. When that relationship ended my sweet mother hid the mug so I wouldn’t have to see it. Earlier this summer she found it while she was cleaning. I walked into the kitchen and saw the mug on the table and felt a lump in my throat. She explained she was going to pitch it but didn’t want to, she wanted me to do whatever I wanted it. I made a joke about smashing it and my brother concluded that would be a wonderful idea. So we went to the backyard and with the mug safely contained in a Ziploc bag, I began to smash it to pieces with a hammer. My loving brother, knowing this was a big step, filmed it and took pictures as we both laughed and the mug became unrecognizable in tiny pieces. Then I promptly threw the mug in the garbage, happy with my smashing results. Friends, smashing that mug was once of the best decisions I have ever made, because smashing it meant ending that story and starting a new one.

The fact of the matter is it was just a mug, an inanimate object,  and I could have easily thrown it away without the smashing. However, by smashing it, I decided to smash all the bad memories of that relationship. I smashed all the insecurities and lack of self-worth I felt during it.  I smashed the way I was treated. I smashed the idea of ever doing it to myself again. In essence, that smashing represented me changing the story for myself. By symbolically smashing that mug I smashed the idea of ever being treated that way again in a relationship and I smashed my old story and decided to create a new one. I changed the story.

Sometimes changing the story can be easier than others. For me changing the story means changing a story that I lived for over a decade. Just like choosing recovery daily, it is daily choosing everyday to change the story and live a new one. It means being brave and sharing my mess. It means not having it all together. It means asking for help. It means leaving perfection and learning grace.

Friend, you can make the one of the best decision you will ever make, by changing your story (of hurt, pain, trauma)  whatever it is. You can make the decision to smash your old story and start a new one. It takes strength, bravery, and vulnerability but then again every good and beautiful story has all of those. It is not safe but it is worth it. And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!
<3MK

Finding the Real MK

The best friends a girl could have. #beyondblessed

The best friends a girl could have. #beyondblessed

As I was setting up my new room I came across some old photos of myself and by old photos I mean ones taken nearly a year ago. I took a moment and I starred at the girl in the photo and I didn’t recognize her. Sure she looked healthy. She looked happy. She was beautiful. She looked like me, but was she really me? I knew within an instant that she wasn’t…

One of the most important aspects of my recovery has been discovering who MK is. What does MK like? What does she dislike? What is she about? What does she want for her life? However, at the point I was at in my recovery a year ago I wasn’t strong enough to stick to many of those things. I wasn’t ready to be me…I still wanted to be the people-pleaser I was during my time with Ed. So I became someone I wasn’t. It was no one’s fault but my own. I caved to the pressures around me because it was easier to say and do things that others liked and wanted me to do than to be me.

However, this MK, a year later is different. She is stronger in her recovery and she knows what she stands for and what she doesn’t. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t have bad days but she is able to talk about them and be open with the mess. She has learned who she is and who she is not. For me the refusal to people please at the expense of my own self worth is still one of the hardest parts about recovery. On some days I do better than others but I know what choosing to view others ideas and standards above my own, does to me. So for my own sake, I came up with a list of certain truths I cling to and certain ones I don’t, that way if I was ever uncertain about my decisions I could come back and remember who I am at the core.

  • I cling to the gospel of grace. That is what directs my life.
  • I strive to live a life filled with grace not striving for perfection.
  • I share my mess (even when it is hard).
  • I protect myself and don’t put myself in situations that are harmful to my recovery.
  • I take care of myself  and rest, even if it means not hanging out with friends every night.
  • I express my emotions and feelings. This means, I allow myself to cry when I need to and laugh when I want.
  • I am honest about where I am at on my journey and my recovery with others and myself.
  • I ask for help when I need it and I am not ashamed of asking for help.
  • I don’t say yes to everything. In other words, I don’t over commit and wear myself out.
  • I allow myself to mess up and make mistakes. Sometimes my failure brings out my greatest strengths.

Just like MK a year ago wanted to cave to who she thought everyone wants her to be, MK today does that as well. And the other day, as i sat across the table from two of my very best friends and shared my heart I had to remember this list. I had to remember that they were my home team. I had to remember the real messy MK was who they loved and because of that they wanted to keep me accountable in my recovery. Sometimes it is harder than others to remember and stay true to this list. I grew up the girl with the smile plastered to her face, the one with no real problems, the dream child, dream student, perfect youth group attendee. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid and even now an adult. I don’t want to have it all together and frankly most of the time I don’t.

If you took a look at my real life you would find out that despite my immaculate room, my closet is a mess, My hair most days needs to be washed, I hate ironing and so my clothes are most likely a little wrinkly. If I could I would live in over sized shirts and yoga pants. I love parties but I hate nightlife and crowded hangouts. I am incredibly nerdy and don’t know near enough about pop culture to hold a conversation.  I hate goodbyes and they tear me apart longer than they should. I love (capital love) cheesy ABC Family dramas and could watch them for hours. Some days I spend way too much time deciding if a piece of jewelry goes with an outfit and as a result I do my hair and makeup in ten minutes combined.  I am addicted to Diet Coke and drink way more than I should. And honestly, some days are just harder than others when I look in the mirror. The people who love me for who I am know all these things just like my two best friends who sat across the table from me. They could tell you the items of my list without knowing about it because they know who I am at the core.  Even more, they embrace this MK and they love her for her broken, messy, energetic, and sometimes crazy self. Many of those things about my real life are things I am scared to share when I am most vulnerable because they make me the quirky messy person I am. However, as I looked back at those photos from a year ago I realized I would rather be this real version of myself than try to please all those people around me… I would rather be myself than lose part of myself…

I don’t know if that resonates with you my friend. Maybe you like me spend too much time caring about what others think of you, and you end up losing part of your self. I want you instead of focusing on how to please others, think about focusing on who you really are at the core. I can promise you my friend, people pleasing only leads to heartache and losing yourself. So this week forget what other people think and learn about yourself and what you are all about. Something tells me you are pretty amazing and I hoping this week you realize that too! And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it,

<3MK

No Matter What, YOU are BEAUTIFUL

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It happened nearly seventeen years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was on the playground, a young five-year-old. I was in a purple t-shirt esque dress, my hair long hair bouncing as I climbed up the to the top of the slide. Suddenly, she looked at me, a girl whose name I will never remember but whose words were imprinted on my heart. She looked right at me and said, “You’re fat!”. That is all she said and walked away. I honestly have no idea if we were friends, or if I even knew her name but even now nearly seventeen years later I remember my heart breaking. I remember it was all I could do to get home without crying. I remember telling my mom and grandmother. I remember my little heart and head couldn’t understand but even at five I knew that fat meant ugly and she had called me fat, which meant I was ugly…

Fast forward seventeen years later to a week ago, I am with a woman who loves me and knows my struggle, yet as we walk across the parking lot she grabs my arm looks at me and smiles. “I am so glad you dropped all that extra weight because you are just too pretty to not be tiny. I am so glad you are your tiny self again. You are just beautiful like that.” I starred at her not believing the words that just left her mouth and my heart and head took me right back to my five year old self who was broken-hearted because someone called her fat and therefore ugly. It didn’t matter that I knew I hadn’t changed sizes, it didn’t matter that I knew that this woman had an Ed and therefore couldn’t speak truth, it didn’t matter that I knew my beauty wasn’t defined in my size, it didn’t matter that I KNEW that fat and ugly are NOT synonymous, it stung. And for the last few days I have wrestled with that sting and why it hurt so bad and friends I think the truth I remembered in the midst of the sting is worth sharing…

When I was in the deepest darkest days of Ed, beauty meant one thing, it meant being thin. However, no matter how desperately thin I got it, was never enough. I could never see myself as beautiful, only ugly. My view of myself was defined in something temporary, in something that the world tells me is important. My beauty was defined in my physical appearance which is something that will never be perfect. The more I watch TV, flip through magazines, or browse pintrest the more disgusted I am. You see I am a true girly girl at heart. I love anything that sparkles and glitters, I love pretty dresses, I love nail polish, I love lipstick, I love getting all dressed up. But I have learned that none of those define me. And the more I look at the media and the more I hear young girls and older women talk the more my heart breaks, because the overarching message is this: You are beautiful when… you are size x, you have perfect hair, you have a clear face, your nails are manicured, you have beautiful clothes. My friends it is NOT true! As women I believe we have an innate desire to want to feel beautiful but I have learned that beauty in no manner comes from my physical appearance. Beauty is NOT defined in a size!

I know you just read that last sentence and were tempted to stop reading because you don’t believe me. You don’t believe that beauty is not about your physical appearance but I promise your beauty does not depend on your physical appearance and I desperately need you to believe that. Because until you do, you can’t fight the lies of the world that tell you otherwise. The statement from my friend and the girl when I was five stung because it defined me solely by my physical appearance, it defined me as only good enough or beautiful enough if I met certain standards, and it hurt to be put in such a narrow, rigid box of lies. And any time someone tries to define us in one way I believe it hurts because we are soo much more than what are face and body looks like. However, I will be the first to say that it is hard to not believe the lies that the world tells us but it is absolutely so much more fulfilling and life giving to fight the lies.

I truly believe that I have the most beautiful friends and family in the world. However, their beauty has everything to do with their heart, their faith, their love for others, their ability to show grace and has nothing to do with their size, their clothes, their hair or makeup. The truth is my hair will one day turn gray. I will have wrinkles and saggy skin. I will probably shrink. My teeth my fall out. I may have age spots. And yet I will still be beautiful and so will you. If I prescribed to the world’s idea of beauty, I am not sure how I could get out of bed in the morning. Most days I wear yoga pants, shirts that are two sizes two big, and my hair in a messy bun. I get zits, my hair normally needs to be washed, more days than not I don’t wear makeup, so if I spent my time following the world’s idea of beauty, why would I get out of bed. Frankly, I would be terrified I wouldn’t match up. But each day I get up, I fight the temptation to give into the lies of the world and I remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and am absolutely beautiful, no matter what my physical body looks like.

Friends, I wish I could say that everyday, every hour, every minute, I believe this truth but I don’t and frankly some days are just harder than others. Some days I fight the lies of my past life with Ed and the lies of the world. But I remember that I am aiming for grace, not perfection and each time I remember the truth and live in the truth, that is beauty. Beauty surrounds me in the smiling faces of those who love me as my messy broken self, beauty is in the scars of battles won, beauty is living in freedom and not bondage. The world lies and tells us beauty is in the face but I am hear to tell you it is in the heart. Beauty is all around you and I dare you to see it and live in it this week. The second you feel the urge to tell yourself that you are not beautiful, I dare you to put on your grossest t-shirt, your stained yoga pants, throw your hair up in a messy bun, and forget the makeup. Stare at yourself in the mirror, smile and tell yourself how absolutely beautiful you are, because it is the TRUTH! Whether you are wearing sweats, a prom dress, a swim suit, a wedding gown, or pajamas, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!  My prayer is that you will discover how truly beautiful you are this week, because that is freedom, that is living in truth. And in case no one has told you today, you are absolutely beautiful inside and out just the way you are!! Believe that truth this week friend and live in the freedom of discovering real true beauty. And may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it (and once again, YOU are BEAUTIFUL, INSIDE and OUT!)!!

<3MK

Uncertainty and Control: My Not So Best Friends

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As I sit here my eyes are heavy and my head is running a hundred miles an hour with a million things to do. Truth is I am a list girl and with moving, working, spending time with friends, etc. my lists are piling up.  And when my lists pile up so do my perfectionist tendencies, so do my worries, so do the lies. For the past week I have been worn out emotionally, physically, spiritually, from transition in all areas in my life and when I am worn down bad habits start to creep up. And instead of being honest and open with people, I shut down and I shut up. I don’t say how I am really doing and I put on the Miss Perfect Hat. I let little things get to me and I start to only see things as right and wrong in my life or as black and white. So what am I doing instead of listening to the overwhelming lies in my head? I am sitting down and talking to you dear friends. Because maybe you’ve had a week like mine. Maybe you need to hear this as much as I do…

I am so not good at transition or shall we say change. I fight it with every fiber in my being and the last few months have been all about change. I graduated college, I got a big girl job, I got a lovely house, I got a wonderful boyfriend. All of these are beautiful things. I also had several people leave (or who are about to leave) who are my family, I had friends move away, I had to make real decisions about what I want for the future. There is so much good wrapped up in this change, yet I still fear it like many of us do, because it is uncertain. And frankly the unknown, the uncertain, often drives me over the edge and that is where the problem begins.

When everything in my life seems uncertain, I do the one thing that make life feel more certain to me…I control. I control my relationships, I control my behavior,  my decisions, even my wardrobe. Honestly, it’s not bad to plan or be well prepared but I take it to the max when I feel the need to control. In the past Ed, was the master at this he knew just how to control my life through negative food behaviors. Even being strong in recovery for almost two years, there are days in the midst of uncertainty that I have to sit back and take in the truth and not listen to the lies that start to creep in. Because the fact is, I don’t believe them anymore and I don’t live by them. However, when I am worn down and fragile they have a way of breaking through the steel trap door which I have locked them deep behind.

Maybe you have struggled with Ed, maybe you haven’t but I think we can all understand the desire to control when everything seems out of control. Here is the bad thing though, when I lean into the control I lean into my perfectionist qualities. When I lean into my perfectionist self I don’t like who I become. That MK always has an answer  for everything, she has to constantly have her hair and wardrobe perfect, she has to always say the right things, she is irritable, she can’t mess up, and she certainly cannot share her mess. She becomes more focused on the results and not the relationships and people in her life. That MK, cannot leave the house in yoga pants, she cannot relax when she is with friends, she cannot stand when one thing in the house is out of place, she can’t sit still, she can’t be really present, and she cannot deal with imperfection. Let’s be real, that MK is NO fun to be around!

There are times when my life is just more messy than usual. There are times where the pain and past wounds seem to still sting. There are times where I just cannot catch my breath and the last few weeks have been like that. Don’t get me wrong there has been a lot of joy and wonderful times in the past few weeks. I have always been a glass more than half full girl. I can tell you all about the sunshine and the roses but today I need to tell you about the rainstorm because that is just as real. We don’t talk about the rain and hail, especially in the midst of it, so I am going to take a big leap of faith and do just that. In the midst of the rain, when I cannot see the sun life is hard and my desire is to control and when I control I become the worst version of myself. However, I don’t have to be that controlling person, but that takes major effort.

It is during the rainstorm that I have to take time to rest, to practice self-care, to be still, and to know that taking care of my self, especially when life is hard, is NOT selfish. If we don’t give our bodies time to rest, to feel all the emotions that come with uncertainty and to work through them, then we are doing ourselves a huge disservice. For me unwinding is reading a favorite book curled up with a cup of coffee, it is watching cheesy ABC family sitcoms, it is a glass of wine and a chat with my best friend, its a nap in the middle of the day, it is praying, it is singing at the top of my lungs to my favorite song. Those are all healing for me, however I will say this healing activity can soon turn into numbing. I know all about numbing from my years with Ed and I never want to go back there. So I build in me time but I also don’t let it take over. Because lets be real, I could sit and read for days, I could lay in bed and watch every episode of every TV show ABC family ever created, but that wouldn’t be helpful and it would certainly check me out to life and I don’t want that. So I rest and take time to heal but I don’t numb out.

This coming week I am striving to be the more balanced MK. The MK that doesn’t freak out when her boxes are packed wrong, the MK that can get ready in ten minutes, the MK who doesn’t focus on what she eats. And here is the secret, I will slip up this week and want to go back to the control and so will you, because we aren’t perfect. Each slip up though reminds me that instead of focusing on what I did wrong there, I have a chance to do it right the next time. And in allowing myself to mess up I give myself grace and with that grace comes rest, and when I rest I loosen my grip on the control and perfection because I don’t need them anymore. That is what I wish for you this week my friend,  that you would show yourself grace and give yourself rest. Rest in whatever way you need to and loosen your grip on the control, because control destroys, rest and grace do not. So slip on your pajamas and curl up on the couch and rest in the manner that is the most helpful for you and watch the need to control slip away. You can do it this week and know that I will be doing it right there with you… and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it,

<3MK