Recovering from Body Image Issues and an Eating Disorder: My Health Journey By Elissa
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My struggles with body image and insecurity started young, probably in the third or fourth grade. That was when my parents were the midst of an ugly divorce and, unfortunately, I was also going through my “chubby” pre-adolescent years (you know, the “baby fat” you have right before you hit a growth spurt?). I think this is when my self-esteem issues took root. Not only was my home life fractured and messy, but I was no longer “cute” or “pretty” like the other girls in my grade. I felt clumsy and awkward, uncomfortable in my skin. Once highly outgoing and talkative, I withdrew socially and lost several close friends.




Elementary school ended and I entered the sixth grade---middle school. I don’t know if anyone really loves middle school (if the number of horror stories written about it are any indicator), but I had a particularly hard time. As a people-pleaser, I was taken advantage of frequently and even bullied by a group of girls I had called my friends. Now I know that many kids are bullied in middle school---but at that time I didn’t know whom to talk to about it, and I kept stuffing the negative emotions in---priming me for the disordered eating patterns I would soon enter into.




The summer before eighth grade I grew five inches (to my current height) and, as a result, lost all of my “baby fat” and then some. Now thirteen, I was becoming increasingly aware of what people thought of me and was elated to find that, since that I was thinner, I was getting a lot more positive social attention. Because I was so afraid of regaining weight, I started severely restricting what I was eating. I remember that all I would bring for lunch most days was a “100-Calorie” packet of dried cranberries because I so badly needed to control what I was eating, down to the Calorie.




I was restricting so much that I was moody and chronically hungry. By the time I reached high school, I felt like I was barely keeping it together---my overexercised sense of self-control was slipping. My social anxiety started to kick in within the first few months of ninth grade. Not only was I in a new environment---a huge high school (there were over 500 kids in my grade alone)---but I was dealing with change at home, too: my dad had recently remarried and moved us into a new house out in the country. I experienced anxiety attacks. I remember thinking that I just needed a release, an “out,” an escape---and I found that in food. My first binge ever (which happened one day after school, when I was home alone) felt like pure euphoria---I ate just about everything that I hadn’t allowed myself to eat for so long. Pretty quickly, bingeing (without compensating) became a regular activity for me, anytime I needed some emotional comfort or a distraction from the stress of life. One binge won’t affect you much, but frequent bingeing will---by the time spring rolled around, I had put on twenty to twenty-five pounds and my self-esteem, already low, fell even further. This disordered eating continued into the tenth grade.




Eleventh grade was another year of great change for me and my family. Within a year’s time, my mom met, got engaged to, and married my now-stepdad...who had signed a contract to work for three years in Germany only months before meeting her. It was after moving to Germany that my self-esteem finally started to pick up slightly. Moving there was a huge adjustment, but it had also helped me to become more independent (I biked to and from school and could take the train into town to explore or go shopping). Unfortunately, I soon reverted to some old behaviors. Towards the end of 11th grade, a classmate started showing interest in me. I hadn’t really had this happen before, and when I returned to school in the fall for my senior year, I felt super motivated to lose weight “for good.” To accomplish my goal, I started off incorporating a moderate amount of exercise and keeping tabs on what I was eating---but, as the months passed, became increasingly restrictive. From September to December of that year, I lost thirty-five pounds, which off my 5-foot, 5-inch frame was extremely noticeable. I got a lot more attention at school and felt much more outgoing, but I was also miserable because I was so fearful of losing my self-control and having another binge. I remember breaking down one night because I accidentally ate “too much” at dinner and had had dessert and the feeling of being full for the first time in awhile was too much for me to handle.




In December I flew back to the States to spend Christmas with my dad’s side of the family, and that’s when my fears of bingeing again were realized. Surrounded by cookies and other sweets---my weakness---I ended up bingeing at my grandparents’ holiday party, first on Christmas cookies and then on a whole box of chocolates that I had gotten as a present. Long after everyone had gone to bed, I was in the bathroom, throwing up into the toilet bowl---I was so nauseous. I felt disgusting, regretful, and ashamed. The next day, I ended up bingeing again. This pattern continued over the break, and I felt powerless to stop it. I was terrified of returning to school, to my friends, having gained weight in only a month’s time. To compensate for the binges, which continued into the spring of my senior year, I began forcing myself to vomit and over exercising on a regular basis. At my worst, I was throwing up three to four times a day, then going to sprint up and down my street because I naively thought it would eliminate any remaining Calories in my system. These compulsive behaviors affected everything---my friendships, my family relationships, my mood and energy levels, my sleep.




Today, in my last year of college, I can truthfully say that I am a much healthier person---physically and psychologically. I may not be slim like I was for a short time in high school, but I feel much more at peace with my body now. This is the first time I’ve ever shared my story in a written way, and I think that’s a testament to how far I’ve come. In middle or high school, the shame would’ve just been too much for me---I never would have felt okay opening up about my struggles. Now I place an emphasis on developing my spiritual and emotional health, trusting that good physical health will follow. If I feel emotionally stable and spiritually sound, I am more likely to act in self-respecting ways such as working out and eating healthily. My spiritual walk has been a source of strength and comfort---praying and reading the Bible reminds me how God views me and how I should view myself. I’ve also adopted a much more moderate mindset---instead of cutting out all sweets or carbs or whatever it is I used to restrict, I now try to include those in my diet in small amounts, especially when I’m craving them. I’m not an over exerciser anymore, either---which is good, because that always made me hungry and crabby. Now, more in tune with my body, I am free to enjoy the benefits of exercise without straining myself. Trust me, if someone who has cycled from binge eating to severely restricting to engaging in harmful compensatory behaviors can recover and come to a place where she isn’t perfect, but enjoys life and doesn’t hate her body, but appreciates how much it does for her---then you can too. Never forget that you are worthy, loved, and amazingly unique.

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Empowered & PoisedComment
How to Talk to your Child about Eating Disorders by Jillian Lampert, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., L.D., F.A.E.D

In the United States alone, over 30 million individuals struggle with an eating disorder. Among adolescents, eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness, and the rate of children living with eating disorders is on the rise. If you are worried about your child’s eating, it is important to start an informed and compassionate conversation with them.

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are complex and biologically-based mental illnesses. They are not a choice, a phase, or a fad. Eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders, body shapes, weights, and sizes. Eating disorders are discernable by their extreme nature, such as dramatic calorie reduction, purging behaviors, uncontrollable eating and/or distress about appearances. Eating disorders are often severe and rarely resolve on their own, so early intervention and professional treatment is essential.

Specific eating disorders and their warning signs in children and teens

Anorexia Nervosa Anorexia revolves around the restriction of food intake and an obsession with body weight, size, or shape. It is the most fatal of all mental illnesses. Warning signs in preteens and teens may include a refusal to maintain an age-appropriate weight, body dysmorphia, over-exercising, and restrictive behavior around food.

Bulimia Nervosa Bulimia is an illness that causes an individual to overeat and then to purge. Warning signs typically include uncontrollable eating followed by compensatory behavior such as vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics, and/or extreme exercise.

Binge Eating Disorder Binge eating is characterized by repetitive moments of extreme and uncontrollable eating. Warning signs may include eating to self-soothe, hiding wrappers and food, weight gain, or shame around eating.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder OSFED consists of atypical anorexia (anorexia without weight loss), infrequent bulimia, binge eating with fewer occurrences that usual, and purging disorder. Signs and symptoms generally correlate to the major eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating) they most closely resemble.  

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder ARFID is most commonly found in children and teens. It is an eating disorder that results in weight loss, nutrient deficiency, and difficulty in day-to-day life. Warning signs can be weight loss, a refusal to eat due to feeling ill or due to a fear of choking, a lack of interest in food, a disdain for certain food textures or consistencies, and a lack of body image concerns.

Common disordered behavior in children and teens

Weight changes. Any unexplained or abnormal weight changes may be a result of an eating disorder.

Strange food behaviors. Children with eating disorder may have strange rituals around food and mealtimes. They may be extremely picky, rearrange meals, avoid eating, or become anxious around food.

Avoidance. Children with eating disorders tend to avoid situations involving food and/or make up excuses as to why they are not eating.

Compulsivity. Compulsive eating, exercise, or other anxious behaviors may be a symptom of an eating disorder.

Personality changes. If your child suddenly seems withdrawn, anxious, or agitated, especially around food, they may be experiencing an eating disorder.

Three tips for talking to your child about disordered eating

1. Use “I” statements

If you believe your child has an eating disorder, the most important thing you can do is to promptly address it. You can say, “I noticed that you aren’t eating with the family” or “You haven’t been eating much lately and I’m concerned.” Is important to also use questions that can draw out a dialogue to continue the conversation. You could ask, “Are your friends at school dieting?” or “How do you feel about your body?” From there, listen to your child and assess if they need professional help.

2. Talk about your child’s behavior, not their body

If you are concerned your child has an eating disorder, it’s important to point out the behaviors that are causing you worry. You can say things like, “You have been skipping dinner with us” or “I noticed you haven’t been eating when your friends are over.” By avoiding comments about your child’s body shape, size, or weight, you avoid inadvertently shaming them or worsening their already present body concerns.

3. Seek professional treatment

If you believe your child has an eating disorder, trust your gut. You can schedule an appointment with your child’s primary care doctor to address your concerns or you can make an appointment directly with an eating disorder treatment center like The Emily Program. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your primary care doctor as they often have recommendations.

The most important thing to remember is to trust your gut. If you believe your child has an eating disorder, see your doctor or an eating disorder specialist right away. You can call The Emily Program at 1-888-364-5977 or visit us here (hyperlink: www.emilyprogram.com) to complete an eating disorder assessment today. From there, we can help connect you with a professional treatment team for your child. This team may include a therapist, dietician and/or psychologist. Eating disorders are complex and severe, so it is essential to get your child help as soon as possible. With treatment, recovery isn’t just possible, it’s probable.

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About Jillian Lampert, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., L.D., F.A.E.D

Jillian Lampert, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., L.D., F.A.E.D, is the Chief Strategy Officer for The Emily Program, a specialized eating disorder treatment program with locations in Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington. She has worked for The Emily Program since 2006 and is the President and Co-founder of the Residential Eating Disorders Consortium, whose main goal is to ensure access to eating disorder care. One of her main goals in life is to raise her daughter to accept and love her body.

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About The Emily Program

The Emily Program is nationally recognized for our compassionate and personalized approach to eating disorder treatment and recovery. We offer services to all individuals, regardless of gender, age, race or any other demographic categorization. Our vision is a world of peaceful relationships with food, weight, and body image, where everyone with an eating disorder can experience recovery.

Empowered & PoisedComment
True Growth By Alesia

I am Empowered … I am Poised … I am Committed … I am Growing

When I was asked to write a message to share what made me feel empowered and poised, I thought, how easy! HA! Wasn’t I wrong, see as I began to write and erase over and over my anxiety began to kick in. See stories are an important part of life, they tell who we are and where we’ve been, they even have the ability to guide others. So, each time I wrote a sentence, the pressure of guiding someone searching for answers through my words, in the wrong direction, seeped through my thoughts. It wasn’t until cleaning my office and finding a picture from the first day my daughter was born that I figured it out. Her feet were so tiny and innocence read all over her. Shortly after that same tiny soul, yet 5 years later just awakening from her nap, she approached me and asked if I could fetch her a spoon for the bowl of cereal she was making. See my innocent little lady went from depending on me entirely to being able to do things for herself, if that isn’t growth what is?

Growth is defined as the process of increasing. My favorite explanation of the definition is the process of developing or maturing physically, mentally, or spiritually. It tells us upfront that change is coming but it’s going to be a process. During my growth process those curve balls that my mom warned me about struck me from every direction and haven’t quite let up. Yet I found my empowerment by not allowing those curve balls to strike me out.  I find that the most important part of growing is believing you can and surrounding yourself with healthy habits and people who encourages you to believe as well. Second to that is staying committed to the process.

I am committed to staying grounded and growing into the best ME that I can be. After all that is what life’s about, right? No two people’s journeys are the same. Yet every person has one common goal, to commit. Think about it, that’s what we plan our entire life around, making a commitment to the right college, marriage, social groups, career, decisions, you know, all of the validity seeking things in life. It can be challenging at times, yet good intentions along with commitment and positive energy will fuel growth.

I share this with you in hope of encouraging you to find things that add quality to you, your goals, and your lifestyle, and implement them in your daily living. I encourage you to become your best you starting today.

Doing is only a part of the pie, there are other components that holds the pie together. Gratitude and change are parts of those components. Being open to change habits that are not beneficial to who I am is one of the things that help me promote self-growth.

Unfortunately, being thankful for the little things was something I had to learn the hard way. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “You don’t miss it until it’s gone” or however it goes, well I’m here to say have gratitude for every relationship in your life. Always remember to give thanks, and show appreciation to those who support and love you. Whether it be your spouse, your best friend, or the flowers in your garden. For myself, verbally or through service is where I focus on returning my appreciation.

Find peace in all things to calm the madness, we can’t always control our circumstances, yet we can control how we handle them. Most of the time finding peace comes from writing or talking about how something made me feel. Once I’ve taken that action my next step is either A. communication about the underlying issue or B. finding a plan and executing to solve the problem.

I wasn’t always kind, my attitude wasn’t always the best, in fact I’m still progressing by the day. I’ve learned that a piece of kindness can get you so much further. Then I learned that when it’s genuine and from the heart it has an even bigger effect. One act of kindness can lead to an entire generation of change.

No one wants to admit when they’re wrong, yet that’s where our best improvements come from. I’ve learned to be apologetic when I’ve taken wrong actions. I also find that being more aware of how I make people feel plays a huge role in my growing process. I’m learning to stay proactive versus being reactive.

See growing is just that, growing, it’s learning new ways to be a better person versus just being a good person.  We sometimes pride ourselves on that donation we gave, or that we go to church every Sunday, or that A+ our child received, yes those are all joyful moments and good acts. Yet who are you beneath those actions? Finding empowerment and being poised for me is about growing into the better me, I am empowered, I am poised, I am committed, I am growing.

-Alesia Corpening

If you are a woman that needs encouragement to continue your process or would like to share your process, please join me in a private women’s empowerment event. This Is Who I Am workshop was designed to encourage women through learning, open discussion and social events, For more information visit Truelife.eventbrite.com





Empowered & PoisedComment
Rejection Will Not Deter Me By Jaudia

I am empowered and poised because I do not buckle at the word “no”.

No human being with a beating heart is unaffected by rejection. Unfortunately, it is a regular part of life, and because we cannot always control what happens to us, we in turn can control our response. Over the years, hearing “no” has helped me build thicker skin. I think it’s actually fueled my fire even more to keep trying. When I see a sign of “no”, to me it just means not yet, or not in that way. When many people would get discouraged, I get determined.

My guidance counselor in high school encouraged me to go to a community college and then transfer to a state school. I want to preface this by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, that is not my story. I dreamed of going away to school; getting an education from a well-known school where I could explore and grow and meet people from all over the world. My guidance counselor was supposed to be my champion, and yet he discouraged me from thinking too big. I pushed for his recommendation letter anyway and applied to schools like Fordham and NYU. I was accepted to both. I was all ready to go to NYU when my Cornell University acceptance letter rolled in. Imagine if I would have listened. When I get something in my head I do not give up.

When I was graduating from college as an anthropology major, the recruiters for HR positions would only interview students from the Industrial Labor Relations college and would not allow me to sign up for slots. I still remember a recruiter from Goodyear saying that my crossover just did not make sense. He listened to me explain how I studied how people organize themselves within structures, i.e. the workplace. He admitted my thought process aligned but that they were only interviewing students from that specific college within my university. I remember being so frustrated, feeling like no one got what I thought made perfect sense. So, I graduated thinking I’d have to end up going back to school and get a degree in HR to get into the field. I ended up working in claims at Progressive and working with an amazing HR Consultant who answered all my questions and supported all of my interests. He set up an informational meeting with the HR team and I ended up walking out with an offer. No further degree needed. Again, what if I had given up after being told no?

Then eventually I decided I was going to quit my stable corporate job with great pay to go work for a startup doing something I knew zero about. I felt it, I was supposed to make that leap. I did not tell many people what I was planning because I was afraid I would get talked out of it. But honestly, it was only the voice in my head telling me I could not do it. Sometimes the discouraging naysayer is you. But even when you are holding yourself back, surrounding yourself with a support system who encourages you can really help. I told a coworker and my mother that I was thinking about quitting, and I expected both to validate my negative self-talk and they didn’t. They believed in me and now I had no excuses so I took the leap. Knowing my journey with LaunchHouse, I cannot imagine if I had listened and stayed where I was. I now have creative autonomy, control massive expansion projects, and manage a team of awesome people.

None of our paths are linear. If you talk to anyone you admire, you will hear that their stories are full of exciting twists and turns. And some will tell you they just fell into what they’re doing and just kept moving forward. I would rather live a life of “oops, try again” than a life of wondering what could have happened. We all face rejection, but who you will become depends on how you regroup and plan a way around it.

Empowered & PoisedComment
From Failure to Thrive to Success through Empowerment by Kristin

I didn’t want to be a mom. I never babysat. The idea of changing diapers was gross and laborious. The very concept of child birth terrified me.  What did I know about raising children? I will tell you what I knew about motherhood, I knew exactly what I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to be… her.

You see, I was born to a 15 year old girl. A young woman who saw having a baby as a way out of her own abusive home. Born prematurely, I entered the world fighting for survival.  By the time I was just six months old, I was taken from her custody and placed into foster care, labeled a “failure to thrive”. Toward the end of the first year of my life, my mother found herself pregnant again. When my sister was born, the state deemed her a suitable custodian and I was returned to her care. An action that I still question but have learned to accept as part of my journey. As a result of her own personal traumas, my mother was emotionally and mentally unwell and turned to drugs for relief. I witnessed several overdoses, met too many of her “friends”, and learned to cook and clean by age five so that my sister and I could eat.  Phrases like, “go play in the street and get hit by a Mac truck” regularly echoed in my ears hours after she yelled them from behind her bedroom door.

Through it all, though, I knew that I would never become like her. I worked hard in school, obeyed all the rules, went to church, and avoided even kissing a boy until I was past the age she was when I was conceived. I graduated, with honors, from high school and was accepted into the local Christian college. That same summer, I married my high school sweetheart and was promoted to assistant manager at the restaurant I had worked at since I was 16. I was writing my own happily ever after and that story did not include failing at motherhood because I simply wouldn’t become a mother.

Life definitely has a way of teaching us lessons we need to learn, though.  Just over a year into our marriage, my husband and I learned that we were expecting our first child, a son.  Four years, countless prayers, and three miscarriages later my daughter entered our lives. As a young mother, I read every parenting book, subscribed to all the parenting magazines, joined all of the play groups, attended every story time, and even began a stay at home mom support group. With the birth of my daughter my perspective shifted from trying to prove to the world what I would not become to setting the example I wanted her to follow.

The year she was born, I decided to go back to college and obtained a degree in business. I wanted to be her example of an educated and empowered woman. Two years after that, I began working outside the home part time. I wanted to be her example of an empowered working mother. Two years after that, my marriage ended and it was an opportunity to show her that empowerment comes from pursuing your happiness and becoming confident in who you are as an individual. On my quest to raise an empowered woman, I became an empowered woman.

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It hasn’t been without its share of hard lessons, however. When she was six she was diagnosed with ADHD w/impulsivity and was placed on medication. She cried every day for 6 years because she had to take medicine. She didn’t like the way it made her feel, she felt different than the other kids because she had to take medicine to make her more like them, she began experiencing depression and when it became too much, she approached me as an empowered adolescent and asked if she could stop taking her medicine. I agreed and together we began to research holistic methods for quieting the mind, as well as creating balance within her physical body to regulate the chemical and hormonal imbalances that caused her symptoms. Within weeks she experienced real and dramatic positive changes. Her grades went from failing to merit roll. Her smile returned. Her creativity blossomed and she discovered a passion for art. Last year, she began experiencing severe pain and bleeding associated with dysmenorrhea. When her pediatrician recommended low dose hormone therapy (birth control), she immediately looked at me and asked if there was another way. Once again, our search for holistic therapies proved successful. This young lady had become an empowered and educated advocate for her health and reaped the benefits of doing so.

These experiences sparked within me a great desire to empower more women. I felt a calling to help other women and girls to feel more confident, especially in matters of health and wellness. I wanted to share all we had learned with other women who felt helpless (and sometimes bullied) by our pharmaceutical sales driven healthcare system. I enrolled in a Holistic Health Practitioner program and made it my mission to support women specifically in their maiden and mother phases by providing holistic and alternative remedies and support services that nurture and heal. Now, as a birth and postpartum doula and women’s holistic health advocate I have daily opportunities to spread empowerment and confidence. I will forever be grateful for EJ, not only for being my biggest motivator and cheerleader, but for initiating the perspective change that perpetuated this positive cycle of sharing empowerment.

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Kristin is also the Founder of Living Amity :)



Empowered & PoisedComment
Ditch the Goal Digging and Try This on in 2019... by Katie Kurtz

It’s that time of a year again: the time where you think about what you want to resolve and the goals you want to achieve in order to #liveyourbestlife. By now, you probably have a list of all the things you hope to accomplish in the next year.  Perhaps it’s to lose weight, learn a new skill, read more, focus on self care or get back on the dating apps.

You’ve got the lists all made, perhaps even color coded ready to check the boxes off with sweet satisfaction.  Before you hit the gas and fly into 2019 ready to smash those goals, let me offer you two questions to consider before you jet off:

  1. What’s the {why} behind each of those goals?

  2. How do you want to feel?

Let’s be real, I am all too familiar with the list making and goal digging. Every time the calendar recalibrated on January 1,  I would be ready at the gate with my lists of all the things I wanted to achieve. Lists riddled with high hopes and even higher expectations for myself.  


The items on my list ranged from nailing a handstand in yoga, to reading a new book every month to getting a new job.  Most of the times I would be energetic and begin to achieve some of these goals in the first 3 months, but then analysis paralysis would set in or I would quickly avoid with the next shiny object in my life. I was most notorious for starting something and if I felt like I was failing, I would just quit because obviously the only way to do it was perfect, right?  


To be honest, there were a lot of goals I was able to cross off my list with pride. But that shimmer quickly wore off and I was left feeling unsettled. I had accomplished some big goals: started a yoga practice, ran a marathon, got the new job, read a bunch of books. Things I am really proud of experiencing, establishing and completing.


But the truth of the matter is that the feeling of pride, satisfaction and accomplishment quickly went away and I was left feeling disappointed. I had hoped to feel a big shift or change and instead I was left feeling the same way I felt before.  Why?

It was when I finally got real with myself and started to dig beyond the surface, that I found that those two questions were what I was missing.  I realized every year I was so focused on the goal, I had totally lost sight of why I was doing it in the first place and how I wanted to feel.  It was through working with a coach and committing to my own heart work where I began to shift my lens to looking at how I want to feel as the goal not doing the thing.

Don’t start the new year should’ing all over yourself – get clear on how you want to feel and why, then go do the things that generate those feelings.


Whatever it is you are hoping to create, lose, or adopt in 2019, start by giving yourself permission to dig beyond the surface of your list so that you can truly create space to get possible to not only accomplish your goals, but design a life you love. Now is your chance to start forging a path of possibility. You don’t need to be ready, you just have to start. Cheers to a new perspective on a new year!

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Katie Kurtz is an Internationally Certified Life Coach, yoga teacher and real talk speaker who guides women to connect with their authentic selves + courageously live life on their own terms. She is the founder of Soul Connect, a coaching + connection movement that is redefining how women connect to themselves and each other. Through her coaching programs, in person gatherings + retreats, Katie's authentic spirit and gift as a connector allows her to create a unique space for women to be themselves, embrace their humanness, and reclaim what's real.

https://soulconnectmovement.com


RECLAIM- 8 week online coaching + connection course to live life on your own terms. https://soulconnectmovement.com/reclaimprogram/

Empowered & PoisedComment
God Is Within Me, I Will Not Fall By Lena

Psalm 46:5 states: “God is within her, she will not fall.”

It was only until my Junior year of college where that verse truly resonated with me. As cliche as it may sound, life has truly been a rollercoaster. There have been many highs, followed by many lows. During the difficult times life has presented I have always found it in me to stay positive and strong.

I grew up in a Christian household and from a young age developed a relationship with God. My faith truly became my own once I went to college. I no longer had my parents around to take me to church or my weekly bible studies. If I wanted to maintain a relationship with God, I had to do it on my own.

I got very down on myself at one point in time, everything in my life felt as if it was falling apart. I went through a short period of time where I shut down. I didn’t speak to any of my peers, I didn’t engage in any of my normal hobbies, I simply felt numb. My friends knew of the many struggles I faced day in an day out, and would tell me how much they admired my strength and how I always chose to carry a positive mindset. This haunted me as I knew I was slipping away from something I always felt was an important foundation and mindset. I was going through the playlists on my phone, as music has always been a place of comfort. I stumbled across a playlist of mine where I had various Christian songs. I hit shuffle and the song that began playing hit me hard. “Oceans” by Hillsong United played as I laid staring at my ceiling. A smile crept on my face. Feelings of peace and comfort came over me. The numbness slowly disappeared. I was overcome with the sudden urge to stop my music, sit up, and say a prayer. This is something that I had stopped doing for a good amount of time since I had gotten to college. Here and there I would watch a sermon online, but what I failed to do, was maintain a relationship with God.

When I closed my eyes and began praying, I let out everything. I casted out all my worries, troubled situations, and burdens to God. I apologized for having stopped putting forth the effort to have a relationship with him. I prayed for a renewed sense of strength, and positivity. That he could help me get back on my feet and keep doing what I always do, moving forward.

The next day I awoke feeling rejuvenated. I was ready to take on the day and overcome my demons and get myself back on track. I was scrolling through a social media platform when I saw a post quoting a bible verse that while I had heard of it before, I didn’t relate to it until that moment. The verse read:“God is within her, she will not fall.” - Psalm 46:5. This hit me hard due to the fact that I could relate to it. In my moments of weakness there was always still something within me that kept pushing forward, while I may not have been 100% myself, I always held a hope that I will get through the troubled waters, even if it takes me some time. This relates to the verse in how it says that God is within me, I will not fall. With a relationship with God, you will not fall. He has your back through the ups and downs in your life, you just can’t be afraid to go to him.

Ever since that dark time in my life, I began praying every morning, and every night. My day feels incomplete without doing so. I may not go to church every weekend, but I still have my own way of maintaining my relationship with God. Such a relationship has filled me with strength and hope that I can conquer all battles. I truly felt myself becoming Empowered & Poised after reinvesting in not only my faith, but myself.

Empowered & PoisedComment
Leave Your Footprint By Stacie

“Don’t be in such a hurry to move onto the next thing. Make sure you linger long enough to leave your footprint.”

Years ago, I had a boss impart those words of wisdom on me. At the time they went in one ear and seemingly out the other. I was 27, working at PepsiCo and newly appointed into a General Manager role. I had been successfully “climbing the corporate ladder” to that point with a new role every 2 years. At that point, I was largely focused on how fast I could increase my responsibilities and check the boxes on jobs I’d held.

It wasn’t until my last weeks in that job, almost four years later, that I think I truly understood. It was about making sure you stayed in a job, a company or a career long enough to have left your mark. To have changed the business or people in a profound way, so that your impact lasts well after you are gone. His words, now 12 years later, have had a profound impact on my leadership style and on how I have viewed my career and my life.

It has taken some time, but over the years I have realized that my footprint, my legacy is all about the people I have impacted along the way.  My footprint is in the people I have hired, trained, mentored and helped get promoted. It is in the skills I have helped others develop and in the dreams I have inspired them to chase. It is in the culture I helped create and in the sense of unity that we shared.

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When I decided to start my coaching business, the outpouring of support and well wishes from former employees (some of whom I hadn’t spoken with in years) was both humbling and inspiring. But, there is one note that sticks out in my mind over all the others. It was from a gentleman who had been a delivery driver for me. He was outspoken, often negative, and seemed to gain enjoyment out of stirring the pot.

Over the 4 years I led that office, I got to know him and his family well. I spent the time to develop his skills, along with our other frontline employees, and gave him opportunities to use his outspoken nature to positively influence changes in our workplace. Today, he is now off the delivery trucks and is a salesman. I like to think I had some hand in his promotion.

Getting back to his note. As I read this former employee’s words about how I had been such a great coach and leader for him and our entire team tears came to my eyes. He went on to say that because of the impact I had on team all those years ago, that he knew I would be a great asset to my new clients. It was that single moment, more than anything else I have done in my career, that made me realize I had left my footprint on not just an organization, but more importantly on people’s lives.

Don’t always be in a hurry to get to the next job, achieve the next step or start the next project. This doesn’t mean reduce your expectations, motivations or goals. I’m just suggesting you slow down a little. Make sure you are giving and getting the most out of each experience and enjoy the journey along the way!

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Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention By The Bluffs

Teen Drug And Alcohol Abuse Prevention

Over one million adolescents in the United States were living with a substance use disorder in 2016. Teens are especially susceptible to substance abuse because they are in a fragile, vulnerable time in their lives. Some people who abuse drugs or alcohol during their teenage are fortunate and won’t abuse substances past the teen years. For others, adolescent substance abuse sets the stage for a lifelong battle with addiction.

The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) examined substance use patterns in adolescents aged 12 to 17. It found that more than eight percent of teens in the U.S. used illicit drugs and almost four percent abused prescription painkillers. In addition, more than nine percent of teens consumed alcohol and five percent participated in binge drinking.

This is a problem not only for the teens that suffer from addiction, but also for their families, schools, and communities. Many organizations and community groups across the U.S. work to prevent teen drug and alcohol abuse. Prevention is often less difficult, less expensive, and less painful than treating addiction.  

Teen Substance Abuse Risk Factors

The human brain is not fully developed until the mid-20s. Teens do not think like adults; they are more emotionally-driven. They can be easily swayed by peer pressure and do not always realize the long-term consequences of their behavior.

Teenagers are particularly vulnerable when they go through transitions, such as moving from middle school to high school. This puts them in an unfamiliar environment and also introduces them to unfamiliar people, like older kids who already experiment with drugs and alcohol. Not all teenagers turn to substance abuse—some are more vulnerable to it.

Risk factors that lead some teens to abuse drugs and alcohol may include:

  • craving for social acceptance: causes them to give in to peer pressure

  • social awkwardness: leads them to use drugs or alcohol to lower their inhibitions

  • lack of coping skills: inability to deal with stress in a healthy way

  • strained relationship with their parents: lack of support, communication, or guidance

  • poor academic performance: some drugs increase concentration or reduce anxiety

  • poor role model: someone they look up to who abuses drugs or alcohol

Teen Drug And Alcohol Abuse Prevention

Most of the issues leading to teen substance abuse can be avoided or remedied. The influential adults in a teen’s life play an important role in leading them toward or away from drugs and alcohol. Most adolescents have a close relationship with a parent, relative, teacher, or other adult role model.

Here are some ways these adults can help prevent teen drug and alcohol abuse:

  • Open discussion: Having someone who will listen without judgment may give a teen the relief they need from an emotional situation.

  • Bonding: If a teen has a good relationship with a trusted adult, they may come to that person with problems, rather than turning to a peer who may suggest they try drugs or alcohol.

  • Consistent discipline: Parents who create a structured home environment teach their teens to set boundaries and recognize that their choices have consequences.

  • Involvement in their life: Knowing what the teen is doing and who they are with allows a caring adult to help them recognize unhealthy situations and relationships.

  • Being a positive role model: Teens who have a responsible adult to show them how to live a healthy life without abusing drugs and alcohol are equipped to make better choices.

There are many teen drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs implemented in schools and communities across the country. Some of them target parents to help them improve parenting skills and communication with their children. Others work with children from elementary school onward to build their self-esteem, teach life skills, social skills, and positive decision-making.

Warning Signs Of Teen Substance Abuse

If a teen is abusing drugs or alcohol, their behavior may noticeably change. They may become more secretive and start spending more time away from home, possibly with a new group of friends. They may be more inclined to break rules and experience trouble at school or work.

As the problem escalates, there could be serious consequences. A teen may get into an accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, harming themselves or others. They may engage in activity that they wouldn’t otherwise consider, like dealing drugs or having unprotected sex.

Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol develop an addiction, and adolescents are no exception. If a teen is suffering from addiction, they will continue to use drugs or alcohol despite distinct negative consequences to their life and health.

What To Do If A Teen Is Struggling With Addiction

It may be too late to prevent a teen from using drugs or alcohol, but it’s never too late to prevent them from continuing to do so. If a teen is already struggling with substance abuse, the compassionate adults in their life can still make a difference.

The most important thing is to have open and honest communication. Discussing reasons not to use drugs or alcohol may be helpful if the topic is approached in a loving, nonjudgmental way. Teaching the teen how to say “no” and stand firm in their decision could also prevent further substance use.

Developing a positive relationship with the teen and being involved in their life may be just as effective for helping them overcome substance abuse as it is for prevention. The goal is to help the teen realize that they could live a healthier life and do many things they want to do without drugs and alcohol.

If the teen has become addicted to drugs or alcohol, it may not be enough for an adult to simply be there for them. Addiction is a mental disease caused by brain changes that make it challenging to overcome without professional help.

Treatment For Teen Drug And Alcohol Addiction

The best drug and alcohol rehab programs for adolescents address the unique issues that cause teens to misuse drugs or alcohol. These programs are tailored to individual needs and implement a variety of evidence-based therapies. Counseling and behavioral therapy are especially effective in helping teens change their thoughts and behavior.

Teens may benefit most from an inpatient addiction treatment program that provides a supportive environment away from negative influences. Without the stress of peer pressure, teens can focus on their recovery, and learn to make positive choices that will lead them to healthier lives.

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The Bluffs - Ohio Drug and Alcohol Addiction Rehab

We provide comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment for individuals struggling with addiction and mental illness. Specializing in addiction treatment that is tailored to individual needs. Our facility offers a unique blend of recovery and comfort in a healing environment.

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From A Survivor By Anika

trigger warning: rape and sexual assault.

to: the man who raped me

from: anika prots

I never picked you up at Jake’s house on August 23, 2012 at around 11:30 pm I never was pushed up against my car by you while you tried to put your lips on my neck while Rob and Pat stumbled down the driveway into the house I never got into the car with you despite how weird that was I never made the two-mile drive to Oberlin Park where we played soccer as kids I never think about how I had to burn the black mini skirt and patterned top I loved either I never feel like a snake is wrapping itself around my throat trying to suck the life out of me when I hear your name I never have to check the door to my apartment 11 times before I fall asleep the nights my roommate isn’t home I never call my brother or my mother or best friend in Arizona when I walk home from night class I never black out on tequila in order to forget that night under the stars where you never took my skirt and lifted it above my waist while I lay motionless with twigs and bugs and grass brushing against my back I never think about how the man in the moon let you become the first man in me I never wondered what it would’ve felt like to let the man in the moon embrace me instead of you I never worried my friends or family while I violently shook for seconds minutes or hours while I couldn’t speak or breathe or see from the tears pouring from eyes I never used sex as a tool to regain control of my body I never left good men in the dust because I never felt your hand on my neck while they touched gently I never left a warm bed with a kind man because I felt rocks in my lungs when he asked me why I turned away I never told a man I thought I could love why I am afraid to sleep alone at night I never forget how to breathe when I see a Marine Corps flag I never noticed the way my stomach drops when I hear crickets in the night I never wrote letters to women who had to courage to stand up to the men who have raped them I never thought I’ll never have children because I don’t want my daughter that doesn’t even exist to be raped like I was I never prayed for death to come and take me in the middle of the night during a dream where I’m 5 in Wilmington North Carolina with sand between my toes body boarding on gentle waves I never had someone hold me and say you are loved you are safe your feelings are valid you are loved you are safe your feelings are valid you are loved you are safe your feelings are valid until the rhythm of my heart’s beating matched the rhythm of her words I never I told your girlfriend who turned into your wife who used to be my friend that you were my first too I never wanted to wait for a man who loved my wit or intelligence or laugh as much as he loved the taste of my skin I never wanted that kind of happiness I never felt like a victim or a broken shell of a person or a waste of flesh once in the last 4 years 7 months and 6 days I never told you the truth and I never lied to myself

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As a survivor in the midst of the #metoo movement it can be difficult to process your thoughts and feelings surrounding your own trauma and that of others. When I was raped people didn’t talk about it. On the rare occasion that someone did talk about it it was to question and place blame on victims. What were you wearing? Did you say no loud enough? Did you try to fight them off? You could ruin someone’s life by reporting this if it isn’t true.

Sometimes I think I made the wrong choice by not reporting. I try to tell myself that I made the best choice I could for a kid who grew up in an instant. Sometimes I wonder if it would’ve been easier to press charges in today’s climate. If the #metoo movement started 6 years ago would I have been so afraid? To be honest, I don’t know. I think the #metoo movement has made incredible strides for women and men who are victims of sexual assault. However, I also think it has created an eerie haze of doubt. I wrestle trying to cope with my own trauma when triggers seem to be headline news on the daily. As I struggle with my own trauma, I fight to be understanding of the stories and reports of other’s trauma all around me. And I fear that genuine actions intended with kindness and love from men I respect and care for may be terribly misinterpreted.

At the start of the #metoo movement I felt like my words mattered for the first time in a long time. I felt like I was really being heard. I hope that is still true today. I hope that we don’t get lost in content that acts as triggers to survivors. I hope that we don’t get lost in doubt as survivors come forward to share their truths. I hope that we don’t forget that there are good and kind men in the world too.

I share this poem with the intention that it can serve as an example of how your words can be a tool for healing and empowerment. That regardless of what movement is active or not, that you can feel strength in your words. I know that this poem highlights the hurt and darkness I felt when I was raped, but now I am strong enough to share it. I own what happened to me because I am a survivor. I am strong and worthy and have the power to use my words as a tool for change. So I challenge you to do the same. Realize that your words can lift someone out of dark depths. Know that in times of doubt your words can offer reassurance. Find the strength in being vulnerable and honest with your words. No one can silence you unless you let them.

If you or someone you care about has been raped or sexually assaulted do not be afraid to reach out for professional help. The National Sexual Assault Hotline’s number is 1-800-656-4673 and is available 24/7. Cleveland’s Rape Crisis Center is also available 24/7 at 216-619-6192 or 440-423-2020. The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s website also has so many tools and resources for anyone who made need them.

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