If you are reading this right now, you are probably aware of my stance on body love, on emotional eating awareness, on stripping away negative labels – you know, all the THINGS.
And if you know how strongly I feel about these things, I want you to take that strength and multiply it by 5,000.
If you enter that all into the calculator, it’s going to end up equaling “The Militant Baker“.
Jes Baker, blogger, body love advocate, hilarious human being, beautiful woman, and powerful speaker, has been taking time out of her 40 hour work week for the past umpteen years writing letters to Abercrombie’s CEO Mike Jeffries, photographing stunning women of (literally) every shape and size, and also organizing the world’s first body love conference featuring fellow advocates Sonya Renee Taylor, Jade Beall (yes, the photographer, like yes, HER), Louise Green, and more.
And Jes did this WHILE WORKING A FULL TIME JOB. Like HOW though? HOW? I can barely keep my head on straight with my 30 hours teaching plus writing – and she was a mental health professional while all this was going on?
Can we say superwoman?
Well yes, yes we can. And now the time has come for Jes to step into her true calling and spread the body love full time. As in, leave the security of her full time job and take the brave step of working for the world to spread happiness, acceptance, and empowerment. She’s going to be working for us (quite literally, she’ll be working for you and me) and she’s asking us to support her while she does it.
And she is wondering if you can give her two.
Now, let me ask you something – have you ever heard of tithing?
Giving ten percent of any gifted money, income money, or money you find just laying on the street to something that spiritually feeds you?
Not charity. Not necessarily church. Tithing is giving money to that which spiritually feeds you.
Sometimes it’s a theatre that did a show that moved you. Sometimes it’s to your daughter because she taught you a lesson.
And sometimes it’s to the one woman who dares to do the unthinkable, who writes the unwritable, who is courageous enough to say “what everyone is thinking, but no one will say.”
Tithing is giving a small percent of your income to that.
Jes has spiritually fed me since the day I found that damn letter to Mike Jeffries, and if you believe in body love and awareness, then she has absolutely spiritually fed you whether you realize it or not. She has paved the way for people like me to be able to write about what I write and spread what I want to spread. If you have read my stuff, or heard about Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary, or watched Ragen Chastain dance, it’s because Jes is always so busy making the world know that we are here, we are mighty, and we are not joking around.
She shared Roar. She believes in you. She believes in me (she’s said it, she really does). And she believes that if we change our world, not our bodies, everyone will just be fucking happier and healthier and this whole world will be a better place.
If you want to make this world a more body lovin’ peaceful place, I encourage you to do the same. No amount is too small – literally $2 makes a gigantic difference – and you will be making it possible for more people like me, and Jes, to raise awareness, pave the way for the next generation, and continue to help men and women fall in love with the skin they’re in.
Oh and hey, did I mention that tithing always comes back and rewards you tenfold?
Yes. Oh yes.
It always comes back in ways we least expect.
Quite literally today, as I clicked “confirm” for Jes’s campaign support, two separate women who do not know each other, responded to my joking Facebook post about needing a massage and SENT ME $50 A PIECE TO GO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF. I have not seen these women since 2006 and 2010 and they sent me money because they love this blog. THAT’S how tithing comes back y’all. Never in a way you expect it, but it always does.
Again let me restate that “no one has ever become poor from giving”. If anything, it’s quite the opposite.
Join me in supporting Jes Baker so that I can continue to write. So that we can continue to fucking ROAR. So that your children can enter into a more accepting world. So that the beach is full of body loving people who literally could not give a shit what you are wearing.
Join Jes so that you can wake up and know that loving what you see in that mirror is not wrong, or weird, or taboo. Because I can personally you promise that Jes will never, ever let you forget that.
Let her mission be a constant reminder that it is okay to love the skin you’re in right now. And may we all take part in that mission by watching her amazing video below and supporting her in any way we can. Mahalo for your time.
By Olivia Petzy-Binning (Restore Your Roar Co-facilitator and unbelievable human being)
Dear Roar family,
Hi! I’m Olivia and I am so pumped to chat with you today. I can still barely believe that Amanda and I re-connected (you can read about our history here) and that Restore Your Roar is happening in 136 days. Four months and 14 days. 525,600 minutes.
Ok so not really the last one because that’s a full year away but you get it.
There are a few things you should know about me: I love swimming in the cold Atlantic Ocean, I have been a vegetarian for 3+ years but I still eat Haribo gummy bears, and I believe we should all just do it now, whatever “it” is.
“Do it now” is truly what’s behind Restore Your Roar. Amanda and I want you to love your body now. We want you to enjoy moving your body now. We want to talk about fears and worries around eating and appearance now. We want to sit on our private patio in the jungle and look at the Pacific Ocean and connect with other women now.
Now is the only time we’ve got. Sometimes the days can feel endless, especially if we’re stuck at a shitty job, or in a crappy relationship, or just plain feeling worn out by the daily grind, but life itself is short. It’s fleeting.
Today is a perfect day to feel amazing. Today is an ideal day to do something big. Today is a great day to walk away. Today is a wonderful day to say “I love you.” Today is the day.
I want to throw a lei around your neck in Hawaii on January 15th because if not now, when? If not you, who?
I want to share a toolkit I put together for you. In the spirit of doing things and feeling good NOW, it’s 21 prompts to get you feeling fab FAST. Each one has a suggested time limit because I know you’re busy and have things to do, but please, I beg of you, don’t let your things get in the way of your life. Dive in and pick one (my personal faves are 1, 10 and 21).
Say yes. Feel good today. Don’t wait. Don’t die hesitating.
See you in Hawaii!
21 Prompts to Feel Fabulous Fast
1 MINUTE – IN & OUT
Close your eyes. (Do it! we’ve only got one minute!) Take 5 really deep breaths. Silently say “All is well” on every inhalation, and “it is done” on every exhalation. THAT’S IT. The power of the breath, y’all.
2 MINUTES – WIDE EYED
How many beautiful things can you notice in your immediate surroundings in two minutes? On your mark, get set, GO!
3 MINUTES – DANCE BREAK
Get up. Yes, now! Put a great tune on (may I suggest THIS or THIS) and dance it out. If you’re feeling down, this is gonna lift you up and if you’re already feeling groovy, this is only gonna take you higher. Endorphins, here you come!
4 MINUTES – TAKE A VACATION
Did you know you can search “virtual vacation” on Youtube and watch videos of beach scenes with relaxing music? Check out of reality for a few minutes and take a beach break while you take deep breaths (and dream of a poolside smoothie!). May I suggest this tour of Kalani, home to Restore Your Roar?!
5 MINUTES – WHO LOVES YA?
I know you know that you are always being supported by a benevolent and loving Universe. but who else could we add to your list of cheerleaders? Write out a list of every single person who is rooting for you. You’re never alone. Life itself is on your side.
6 MINUTES – EXPERT WITNESS
Write a list of all the things at which you are a straight up expert. NOTHING IS TOO SMALL! If you are the only person who can get your nephew to stop crying when he’s tired, then you are an expert! If you know an absurd amount about cheese from a stint as a server in a Swiss restaurant (ahem), you are an expert! If you can throw a football in a sweet spiral, then you are an expert spiral thrower! Don’t be shy!
7 MINUTES – LUCKY DUCK
Buy a few scratch off lottery tickets (say, five of the $1 ones). Hand them out with a penny to the people behind you in line. You can spread so much excitement and happiness for 5 bucks and 5 cents!
8 MINUTES – MAGIC 8 BALL
What do you want your life to look like in one year? Write it out and here’s the kicker: write it out with CERTAINTY. Write it as if you are POSITIVE IT WILL HAPPEN. You can do this for any amount of time in the future. Visualize, intend, and get ready to magnetize.
9 MINUTES – BLISS LIST
Write down 10 things you are grateful for, ten things you are excited for, and five BRAGS. Yes, that’s right: brag about your bad self.
10 MINUTES – FILE A COMPLIMENT
Wanna feel like a Queen? Lavish praise on someone! Receive fabulous service in a store? Grab a manager on the way out and compliment the employee. Are your garbage collectors unfailingly polite and smiling, even while they do their dirty job? Call your town and praise them. Fill out that survey listed on your receipt and leave positive feedback. Write a glowing Yelp review. Please trust me when I say this feels amazing and you will be hooked!
11 MINUTES – IDEAL DAY
What does your PERFECT DAY look like? How does it start? Where do you wake up? Who’s there? What do you do? Where do you go? How does the day wind down? Write out your perfect day and spare NO details — the more specific, the better. We’re visualizing here, people!
12 MINUTES – DREAM DOZEN
What is your dream way of spending your time? What do you never, ever, ever get tired of talking about? Listening to? Thinking about? Reading about? Learning about?
DO IT for twelve minutes.
13 MINUTES – MAIL CALL
I still get excited when I see something that isn’t junk in my mailbox, and that feeling keeps getting rarer thanks to email. Send someone a beautiful note card to let them know you’re thinking of them.
14 MINUTES – HISTORY LESSON
Where were you ten years ago? Five years ago? One year ago? How have you grown? How have you changed? Does your life look different than you thought it would? What miracles have you experienced? What lessons have you learned?
15 MINUTES – INSTRUCTION MANUAL
Often, the silver lining to mistakes we make is the lesson we learn. In the spirit of generosity (and to remind yourself what a smart genius you are), fill in the blanks:
So you screwed up and did _________. Here’s how to fix it: __________________.
16 MINUTES – TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY
You know how we all love hearing the backstories behind the successes of our favorite stars? Like how Jon Hamm was a teacher and Kristen Wiig sold peaches before hitting it big? Write out YOUR True Hollywood Story, and frame everything you’ve thought of a setback or challenge as a PLOT TWIST leading up to your overwhelming success.
17 MINUTES – SECRET ADMIRER
Write a note/email to someone you really respect and admire. Perhaps it’s your mom, maybe it’s Ryan Gosling, or your boss at your day job. Let him/her know that their skills and gifts are recognized and admired. Be specific and prepare for a contact high.
18 MINUTES – ADVICE COLUMN
If you need advice on something that’s holding you back or causing confusion, write it out like you’re writing to Dear Abby. Then, write the answer back to yourself! YOU are the expert on YOU.
19 MINUTES – PICK UP THE PHONE
Remember when we used to use our phones to TALK to people instead of scrolling through your various feeds? Call someone that you know doesn’t use social media etc to stay connected. Savor the thrill of filling him/her in your delicious life, and enjoy the feeling of hearing how your friend is doing/feeling straight from his/her mouth instead of a status update.
20 MINUTES – FLIP IT (this is Amanda’s absolute favorite)
One of my specialties is doing a story flip: when I feel like things are falling apart/crappy, I flip that shit around and write a new story. Here’s an example of one of mine from a particularly disastrous morning:
My old story is that I booked a perfect plane ticket to visit Rich today…except for the fact that I had to leave at 6:30 am for Newark, and I got home from work at midnight. Well, I got up so early that I was ready to go and decided to set my alarm for an extra ten minute snooze. Obviously, that was a terrible idea. The next flight to Savannah is majorly inconvenient for so many reasons, but that’s the flight I’m on, so here is my new story:
I am an amazing independent woman who figured out the best way to deal with a mess at 7:30 am on a Saturday. I made the best decision I could. I am going to fly into Savannah like the hot New York woman I am, wearing a hot outfit for the show and cast party I am attending tonight. My hair and makeup is perfect, I am a brilliant packer so I have one tiny suitcase, and my dress is hot. I will arrive in Savannah, pick up the car I rented at 7:30 this morning, and drive myself to Hilton Head Island because I am smart, savvy and independent, and I am fearless. I will arrive at the theater with ample time, and take my seat in the front row. The first time I see my husband will be when he opens the show wearing a tux and we will share a look of love and apology and humor. The show will be amazing, i will have a cocktail at intermission, and we will reunite in the lobby when it’s over. Then we have two and a half days to enjoy each other’s company. This is actually a romantic and sexy story and I am lucky to be alive and in it.
What current story of yours do you need to FLIP? Any old beliefs you need to turn on their heads? This is a fun one, and it’s addictive! Write out the junk and then get your flip on!
21 MINUTES – LEAP OF FAITH
Write a letter to the Universe. You can state your intention(s), write what you want to release, questions you have, anything goes. Put it in an envelope. Decorate the envelope so it is super gorgeous. Address the envelope to “The Universe.” Put it in the mail.
See what happens.
Want to meet Olivia in person? We can’t wait to lei you when you step off your plane in Hilo, Hawai’i this January. To reserve your spot, contact Catherine May at Kalani before September 15th to use our extended Roar Rate of $985 (after that, the rate goes up $100). Just email email@example.com and put down a $200 deposit to hold your spot – we don’t need anything else til the day you check in girlfriend! Feel free to check out our itinerary and FAQ’s, but act fast – there are only six spots left! Roar!
Aloha to all of you and thank you for the incredible response to Roar 2: The Celebration. In just under a week, we are looking at stats like this:
With about 9,000 views in 5 days, this means that we are reaching people. We are spreading a powerful message that compassion, self-love, and celebration is essential. This video might not reach a million views like Roar 1 did, but it’s not about that. It’s about shedding light on the simple fact that it’s perfectly acceptable, wonderful, and inspiring to recognize how awesome we are. And for that, I’m so thankful to all of you who participated, contributed, shared, sang along, and celebrated with us!
So, let’s keep the celebration going shall we?
I want to shed light on some of the positive things that are happening in this world right now. I mean seriously, we are constantly being bombarded with bad news, bad guys, bad foods, bad this, bad that. I mean, shit. Where’s the optimism in that?
It’s just as important to be bombarded with good news, and wonderful movements, and powerful women, and hope! So I wanted to make sure I highlight those things this week.
1) The Body Love Conference
Everyone knows about Jes Baker and her big middle finger to Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO last year, yes? In case you missed it, Jes (more commonly known on social media as The Militant Baker) wrote a letter to Mike Jeffries (A&F CEO) that included pictures of her wearing the very clothes that Mr. Jeffries told the world people like Jes shouldn’t wear.
A revolutionary in style, humor, and ballsiness, Jes has now taken her body love a step further to include the rest of us who are struggling, picketing, or looking for it. She’s founded an amazing event called The Body Love Conference. Jes can obviously explain what this beautiful event in detail better than I can. And this is what she says:
“The Body Love Conference is the first event of its kind; a comprehensive and inclusive event that focuses on assisting all shapes, sizes and shades to embrace and love the skin they’re in right now.
Our bodies are installation art that we curate publicly. Our bodies are the first message those around us receive. Our bodies are our personal bookmarks in the world. Our bodies are magnificent houses for everything else that we are. Our bodies are a part of us, just like our kindness, talents, and passion. Yes, we are so much more than our outer shell, but our outer shell is an integral part of our being too.
This is why it is SO important that we learn to accept, embrace, and even fall head-over-heels in love with them! The way we view our bodies impacts the way we participate in the world, and it is my life mission to share the message that we can love ourselves as we are; right now. We don’t need to change our bodies, only our world.
Join us in our mission! Let’s change the world together!”
-Jes Baker, Founder, The Body Love Conference // The Militant Baker Blog
The event is taking place this Saturday, April 5th in Tucson, Arizona. I know. You’re groaning just as loud as I am that you didn’t know about it sooner and you don’t have time to book a flight and get your hot booty there. BUT there’s still hope. Check out the website so that you know what amazingness is taking place and then, consider donating to the campaign so that next year, you, me, your sister, my mama, and all of our friends can meet up in Tucson and have a hell-raising, body-loving, rip-“roaring” (get it?) good time. I’ll be speaking at the event next year, and the Roar videos will be played this year at the conference. It’s all happening. And if we come together and help it happen, we can ensure that this world will continually change for the better.
Donate to The Body Love Conference to make it annual! (This page includes details on how the smallest amount helps continue the conference’s momentum, and a message from Jes herself!)
Jes’s Website: The Militant Baker
The guest blog I wrote for the conference about teaching self-love to the next generation: It Starts With Us
2) Week of Self-Care: Finally Say YES to Making Your SELF a Priority
This is a free event. I repeat, this is a FREE event. Yep. I’m saying FREE and like, meaning it. One of the participants in Roar 2: The Celebration is offering this event up to all of my blog readers for FREE. The world is a good place, we just have to take time for ourselves so that we can see past all of our to-do lists and our stressors and see the hope and the beauty around us!
For the week of April 14 – 18, at 12.30pm Eastern Time, Roar 2 participant, Charlotte Blake, is teaching a very special (100% complimentary!) tele-class called Week of Self-Care: Finally Say YES to Making Your SELF a Priority.
In this week long virtual event, Charlotte will be gathering a community who is sick and tired of being sick and tired. Her intention is that even just 15-minutes of connecting into your body, mind, and self will help fulfill you from the inside-out.
- Do you find yourself feeling depleted even if you’ve slept enough, eaten healthy, or exercised?
- Are you always “working for the weekend” with little to no enjoyment of your weekdays?
- Do you feel like you keep waiting for a family member, partner, or friend to give you permission to take a break but find that you never just give it to yourself?
Charlotte Blake knows how you feel. Charlotte teaches Pilates, but knows there is more to health than just working out.
With a very compassionate and down-to-earth manner, Charlotte combines a truly holistic approach with her Pilates expertise. She works with students and clients who not only want to learn new movement, but know it is time to shift their entire lives toward a more fulfilling and healthy way of being. This may sound HUGE but she understands that everyone starts out taking baby steps which is one reason why I am so excited about her one of a kind teleclass event.
Using her down-to-earth approach, Charlotte will share her personal story as well as offer:
- Daily lunchtime calls you can even join from your desk where you will be led through breathing exercises, stretches, take-home rituals and meditations.
- A 30-minute Pilates video exclusively for the members of this week.
- A daily guest blogger everyday with an article on what self-care means to them.
Another reason you don’t want to miss this event is because I have been personally asked by Charlotte to be a guest blogger for this event!
Sign up for this FREE event right here: Week Of Self Care
Along with Charlotte’s tips and guidance, you will receive the guest blog that I personally wrote. I will be sharing what I think about self-care and how to incorporate it into our daily lives.
You don’t want to miss this! Her tips are simple yet profoundly effective.
3) Women’s Body Wisdom Retreat
If you’re looking for an actual retreat away from your home, then I want you to know about Julia Speer’s upcoming retreat in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. Coming from three and a half months of volunteering at a wellness retreat center myself, I know the power of taking time off, indulging in nature and good company, and living simply for a few days. The retreat center where Julia’s event will be held offers walking trails, a labyrinth, and beautiful views, as well as a range of accommodations designed for comfortable sleep. All meals are provided with main meals being catered locally, and if you’ve ever been to Asheville, you know that the food is incredible! Most of it organic and locally grown.
Women’s Body Wisdom Retreat
July 18-21, 2014 in Asheville, NC
As women, we are born with a deep instinctual knowing, a deep, insightful wisdom housed in our wondrous physical selves. However, we are bombarded by messages in society that shape us early on, teaching us to focus our care and attention outward to others — and ultimately, even to reject our own bodies.
This soulful retreat is a returning to the wisdom of our bodies through the practice of self-compassion, creative expression, and powerful ritual. Creating an emotionally safe and sacred space, we begin to repair the disconnect with our physical forms, accessing the wisdom that lies within, and exploring the imbalances we have accepted around giving and receiving. There is nothing more profoundly healing than sitting in circle with women and knowing that all of you is welcome here.
For more information and for registration, please click here: Women’s Body Wisdom Retreat
Julia has also set up a scholarship fund for those women who need help to get to the retreat, which is why I was so drawn to her work in the first place. The reason I found myself volunteering at Kalani this past year was because I could not afford Geneen Roth’s retreat in California. Accessible retreats are hard to come by these days, and the fact that Julia has set up such an amazing fundraising campaign to help women get to Asheville gives me hope.
To check out the fundraising campaign for this retreat, click here: Body Wisdom Retreat Fundraising Campaign
With those three things happening in this world, plus countless other workshops, movements, retreats, videos, books, blogs, and events taking place month after month, we have the opportunity to take our lives back into our own hands. I hope you take the opportunity to check out the three events I listed for you today and be reassured that there is hope. There is possibility. There is room for growth and expansion and change. And you’re a part of it. I’m a part of it. We are making the change, just by passing on the word that these amazing things are taking place.
Thank you again, for all of your support and sharing of Roar 2: The Celebration. If you’re having a shitty day and need a pick-me-up, please watch some people being brave and have a dance party in your office by clicking here. Now go out there and GET TO CELEBRATING!
Next Week’s Posting:
The Biggest Announcement I’ve Ever Made, Ever
Robyn Lawley, a plus-size model, recently interviewed on The Ellen Degeneres Show, and got a roaring round of applause when she told Ellen that she “loves her body.” My dream is to live in a world where we don’t feel a round of applause is necessary when someone says they love their body, because we’re all too busy nodding in agreement.
So I took a baby step toward making that dream a reality.
This is for anyone who’s ever bit their tongue and held their breath. For anyone who avoids full length mirrors. For anyone who has a daughter growing into a young woman. For anyone who’s been through it. For anyone who loves ice cream cake. For anyone who knows they’re sexy but is too embarrassed to let it shine. For anyone who needs one last reminder that it’s okay to be in love with who you are.
There are more people in this video that I have never met than there are personal friends. There are more brave people out there than we realize. There is more love in this video than you can possibly imagine. There is more power behind these masking taped words than we give them credit for.
Keep the celebration going. Share this with someone you love. Be the aloha you wish to see in the world. I recommend you watch this on a big screen, more than once, and sing along as loud as you wish. And keep…on…ROARING!
I’ll never forget the way I was sitting on my bed last May in my underwear – left leg tucked, right leg straight, cookies and cream container stuck between my thighs – when I first read this excerpt from Geneen Roth’s When Food Is Love:
“From a journal entry, October 10, 1978. Today I ate:
1/3 package graham crackers (100 calories)
1 salad with dressing (300 calories)
1/8 lb. carob chips (200 calories)
1 cookie (75 calories)
1/4 lb. granola (300 calories)
4 tbsp. cashew butter (300 calories)
32 ounces apple juice (300 calories)
1/2 Wayfarer’s bread (250 calories)
5 tbsp. hummus (300 calories)
1 ice cream sandwich (400 calories)
1 apple (76 calories)
1 fudge bar (200 calories)
1 package brown rice crackers (200 calories)
1 tbsp. peanut butter (75 calories)
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (2000 calories)
DAY’S TOTAL CALORIES: 5176
October 11, 1978, 3 A.M.: I awaken with an image of myself slashing each organ in my body to pieces. With each strike I say, “Good. Again. Harder.” I want to destroy myself. I want to eat until I die. The pain seems so deserving. It is the only way I am comfortable. Not sleeping, eating uncontrollably, driving myself to the edge, this feels right. I want to get in my car and go to Albertson’s. 3 A.M. Bright lights. Eat ice cream. Be totally mad and fling myself into the ocean. Get rid of myself. I hate this creature that I am. Good. Again. Harder.”
When I read that, and realized that I was not the only one in the world that did such things – that ate like that, that hated myself at 3 A.M. like that, that wanted to go out and get more ice cream even after all that – I was overwhelmed with relief, and grief, and a sick happiness, and the daunting question of “well shit, now what?”
The only way to answer my question was to keep reading. And I never stopped. Over the past nine months I have read myself sane. I have read myself happy. I have read myself healthy. Not 100% sane, or 100% happy, and not even close to 100% healthy, but I’m a lot closer today than I was last May, covered in sticky ice cream and chocolate sprinkles.
My library is a compilation of used books, borrowed books, yard sale books, and Kindle purchases all based off of loving friends’ recommendations or my own random discoveries or even gifts from strangers who I met at the yoga retreat.
I want to share my personal library with you because you never know what might strike a chord with you. I’m currently going on a JOURNEY with Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating, thanks to my aunt who sent it to me for Christmas. Books are my therapy, dude, seriously. My life is constantly changing because of what I read and how I apply it to my life.
Just like people, no book is ever perfect. I’ve learned to take what I need and leave the rest. Sometimes, only one chapter applies to me at the time, and I know that at a later point, I’ll understand the rest of the book. I read Eat, Pray, Love when I was 23, and again when I was 25, and each time was extremely different. A lot can happen in two years. So I encourage you to check out these books now – and if they don’t speak to you, keep them on your list for the future.
One last thing – you’ll notice that each book is directly linked to Amazon.com where you can purchase it directly. I personally support used book stores and local business before I ever buy a book online, but sometimes, you see the description for a book and you’re just like, “I NEED TO READ THAT RIGHT NOW.”
The books listed below are not just for emotional eaters or for women who struggle with body image. There’s something here for everybody – the anxious, the depressed, the confused, the performer, the creator, the lover – or the friend of an anxious, depressed, confused, performer-creator-lover. You might find insight on people you love, even if it doesn’t relate to you. I want to help, inspire, and encourage you and your loved ones. I hope that what you find below suits your needs.
Ready? Here we go. My library, in the order that I read them this past year. Each bulletpoint includes the title with a link to Amazon, the author, and my description of the book or an excerpt from the book in italics (sometimes, the book needs to do the talking):
- When Food Is Love by Geneen Roth: The excerpt that opened this blog post is from this book. This is the first book I read when I hit rock bottom. It started my journey with Geneen Roth, whose books literally saved my life. It brought awareness to the way I use food as a drug, and the way I have used dating, addiction, and failure as distractions.
- Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth: “By the time I was twenty-eight I knew how many calories were in any food that was presented to me. I knew how to lose weight and how to gain weight. I knew how to maintain my weight. I knew how to diet and how to binge. But I didn’t know when I was hungry. More painful, I didn’t know it was okay to be hungry. No one ever told me, or if they did, I had forgotten that being hungry was natural. My body was the enemy.” I learned how to eat, when I’m hungry, and not feel completely consumed by diet, food, or compulsion from this book. This book is my bible – still, to this day.
- Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth: “There are many ways to bolt. Walking out the door. Renting a helicopter. Distracting yourself from your pain by doing a thousand different things: thinking about something else, blaming your mother, blaming someone else, getting into a fight, comparing yourself to other people, dreaming about life in the future, recalling life in the past, never getting deeply involved. Eating. Spending your life trying to lose weight or figure it all out…Staying where you are with what you are feeling or seeing or sensing is the first step in ending the obsession with food. And although it seems as if ending the obsession is what we all want to do, we actually want to keep it more…Obsession gives you something to do besides having your heart shattered by heart-shattering events.”
- How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: I had no idea that the most simple acts of really remembering someone’s name and smiling in public could change my entire life. I can deal with anyone now – and I have truly become, a people person. I read this book right before I went to New Orleans last June and was hit on by every single attractive man I set my eyes on. Something about it must have worked, I’m telling you.
- How To Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie: I have had anxiety my entire life. This common sense approach to overcome worry and anxiety has calmed me down and put everything in perspective. I constantly go back to it for gentle reminding that it’s all gonna be okay.
- Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction by Thomas and Beverly Bien: This book totally cleared my vision after reading all of Geneen Roth’s books. Once I battled the actual eating disorder, I could take a step back and look at the addiction part of my eating disorder. This book can help anyone who has ever used cigarettes, weed, alcohol, sex, drugs, or food to fill the void in the past. You don’t have to be a serious addict to appreciate the amazing help this book provides – it can shed light on things regardless of your past.
- Return To Love by Marianne Williamson: This book completely overhauled my thinking in terms of what “love” is. There really aren’t enough words in the English language to define all the ways love affects us, but this book taught me to surrender what is out of my control and truly open myself up for the goodness that the universe provides. Ms. Williamson writes sort of like I do – very down to earth and honest, and I like that. She writes like a human – not a psychology professor.
- The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz: My life is forever changed because of these four simple principles. If the entire world read this book, there wouldn’t be guilt, anger, insecurity, or confrontation. By reading this book, you are contributing to a better world. I also wrote out the four agreements in relation to the audition world – if you are a performer, or an artist, please read this book – or at least check out my recent blog post about it.
- The Creative Habit: Learn It And Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp: Finding this in a used book store last month is the best thing that’s happened to me in 2014. Even if you are by no means in the creative or entertainment industry – this book is a must-read for a reminder that everyone is human, everyone struggles, and there are small ways to work through it and improve the way you find order and happiness in your daily life.
- Feeding The Hungry Heart by Geneen Roth: I read this months after I read the first three Geneen Roth books and I wish I had read it first in a way. It’s concise, personal, and makes me feel completely not alone in this journey of mine. It’s a mix between Geneen’s advice and a compilation of different people who have dealt with emotional eating and eating disorders, telling their stories honestly and openly. I HIGHLY recommend reading this even if you aren’t an emotional eater – it will clue you into what some of your loved ones may be going through.
- Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge: After doing months and months of reading on emotional and compulsive eating, sometimes you just need to read something else. My aunt sent me this book and I was skeptical because I don’t identify with Christianity – and Stasi Eldredge is a Christian-based author. However, I went on a JOURNEY with this book – every woman should read this and whoever you believe in, regardless if it’s God or Jesus or just good, old-fashioned love – you’ll find what you need in this book.
- Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge: This book’s caption is “unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul”. I’m three-quarters done with this book and I feel extremely vulnerable, but thank God. Again, this husband/wife team writes Christianity-based books, but I still identify with what this book is saying, regardless of my religion. I’m opening up and stepping back and looking at old wounds, old hurts, old battle scars, and really taking the time to accept them, process them, see how they’ve affected who I am today. This book is taking me into a journey of forgiveness, self-discovery, and self-trust.
These are the books that have profoundly shaped my past year. I quote them in my posts, on my vision boards, and in emails to friends. They are the best therapists I’ve ever known and none of them have ever asked to see my health insurance card.
I have to close with this quote that made me smile from ear to ear today while on my short plane ride from Maui to Kona:
“The word mother is more powerful when used as a verb than as a noun. All women are not mothers, but all women are called to mother. To mother is to nurture, to train, to educate, to rear…all women are uniquely gifted to help others in their lives become more of who they truly are – to encourage, nurture, and mother them toward their true selves. All women are called to mother. And all women are called to give birth. Women give birth to all kinds of things – to books (it’s nearly as hard as a child, believe me), to churches, to movements. Women give birth to ideas, to creative expressions, to ministries. A woman is not less of a woman because she is not a wife or has not physically borne a child…When we enter into our world and into the lives of those we love and offer our tender and strong feminine hearts, we cannot help but mother them.” – John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating
If you’re reading this and you aren’t married, and you don’t have kids (like me), I hope this makes you smile too. My Facebook newsfeed might be full of newborn babies and engagement announcements each morning, but reading a quote like that reminds me that we’re all on different paths, and mine is mine for a reason. I’d like to think that I gave birth to the Roar movement, or the masking tape movement – which is what I’ll eventually have to call it when Katy Perry’s lawyers finally catch wind – and I have always had a tendency to mother my nearest and dearest. And today, while reading, I had a beautiful moment of realizing, accepting, and loving that about myself.
I hope one or more of these books offers you the same sort of moments.
Aloha and happy reading!
STAY TUNED FRIDAY, MARCH 28TH FOR THE RELEASE OF ROAR 2! I’M SO EXCITED I’M SO EXCITED I’M SO EXCITED I’M SO EXCITED!
I always used to get the best sweet potato recipes at Weight Watchers meetings.
Now, I’ve been to Weight Watcher meetings in Pennysylvania, and in New Jersey, and even in Hilton Head, South Carolina. But you ain’t never seen a Weight Watcher meeting like the ones they have in New York City. Those meetings involved iPads, lots of Powerpoint, and sometimes semi-formal attire.
Those bright blue, mod-chic, windowless rooms would be so filled with people that there weren’t enough chairs to seat everybody’s (hopefully shrinking) ass. There would be this insane line of people out the door – women jetting over after work, men running over during their lunch break, me killing time between auditions with a fully painted face – and all you would see in front and back of you was the the frantic stripping of jackets, belts, shoes, even jewelry, in antipation of that weekly weigh-in.
One at a time, each of us would step up to the scale, hold our breath, moan or cheer at the results, frantically pick up our entire wardrobe we’d thrown in a pile on the floor only moments before, and then sprint to find a seat before the meeting began.
We always started the meetings whether people were still in line to weigh in or not – we just had to, or we’d be waiting around all day. Our leader would step to the front of the room and introduce herself, tell us how much weight she’d lost and how long she’d been following the program, and proceed to bring up a weekly topic such as “cooking with new spices” or “summer drinks and mocktails”.
Each week, the leader would have the same three women stand up and tell all the newbies their name, how much weight they’d lost, and how long they’d been a member of Weight Watchers.
The same three women had been following the program religiously for like, thirty or forty years. They’d lost about fifty to a hundred pounds each, and they’d kept it off for like, twenty-nine or thirty-nine years, and they always had the best sweet potato recipes.
The leader introduced these same ladies every single week in order to inspire the rest of us in the room. “Look where you can end up with this program!” “See how a little counting and some walking can pay off?!” “If she can do it, so can you!” and all that jazz.
I always used to applaud the ladies while I looked down at my little weigh-in booklet, thinking to myself – it doesn’t matter that I ate four jars of Nutella this week if I still lost half a pound from not eating yesterday. If she can do it, so can I.
Later that night when I went out for a second dinner (after the one I shoveled in at home – meals after weigh-ins are taken very seriously – and by seriously, I mean there’s more than one of them) I would skip dessert thinking to myself, “if she can do it, so can I.”
And then when I ate half a gallon of ice cream before bed and threw the rest of it in the garbage in disgust, I looked at the melted mess in the trash proudly thinking, “if she can do it, so can I.”
For years I looked to those other ladies for inspiration, waiting for the day I could proudly stand in front of everyone at the meeting and say how long I’d been following the program and offer my own sweet potato recipe.
When I gave up on Weight Watchers for the fourth time around, I no longer had the sweet potato ladies for inspiration. So, I started looking elsewhere. There were always Victoria’s Secret models pasted to my fridge. Vision boards crafted from Self Magazine home-workouts and quotes about running would be propped up against my desk. I would sit in the holding room at auditions with hundreds of other girls and seek out the most perfect body in the room, fantasizing what I would book if I looked like that.
Never once did I look in the mirror at my own face, much less my own body, and find inspiration in my own expressions or my own curves. Never once did I look back through my personal journal entries or timeline of life events to find inspiration in my own journey. Never once did I think to myself, “look what I’ve done so far,” “look how much I’ve learned,” or “look how far I’ve come”.
Perhaps if I had, I would have noticed my own issues before I hit rock bottom.
I had blinders on. And those blinders were always focused on one thing. “If she/they/he/Jennifer Hudson can do it, so can I.”
I was always looking at everyone else with envy – wishing I looked like them, or ate like them, or ran like them. I never even noticed my world spinning out of control.
I bring all of this up because of how differently I look at things now. I didn’t realize that in finding my own strength, and facing my own demons, I have had to rely on myself for inspiration. I’ve had to look at my own life for encouragement at times, because it is the only thing there to remind me what I have overcome, meaning that if I had the strength to prevail at one point in my life, then I know I’ll have it again when I need it. This concept of seeking inspiration from within, is kind of, not something that was instilled in me for the first twenty-five years of my life.
Now, my friend Namaste brings her daughter to dance class at the studio where I teach almost every day of the week. We’ve become close in a short time because of all the time we both spend at the studio – and because she used to be a ballerina before she had her children.
Namaste was in a horrific car accident about four years ago – nearly destroying her ability to walk and causing life-long knee, neck, and joint problems. She definitely did not think she would ever dance again.
However something interesting has happened. I’m not sure if she started coming to my adult ballet classes because she felt bad I was a new teacher and I didn’t have many students, or if she started coming because she thought it was time to try getting back to the barre, but either way, she is dancing again.
This woman’s feet – my God, if you appreciate the feet of a ballerina – that perfect arch, that incredible relevé – you would die over Namaste’s feet. This woman’s posture – it beats my showgirl posture any day. And even if she hasn’t danced in many years, you can see that it’s all still there.
Now since mid-January, Namaste has gone from wearing knee braces just to do pliés at the barre, and marking the across the floor combinations, to turning and jumping and balancing for almost half of the class.
She doesn’t always see the progress. She often apologizes that she can’t get all the way up on the ball of her foot yet, and that she can’t do every single jump that we practice. But all I see, is beautiful, miraculous, inspiring progress.
So I tell her. I tell her every week how much I can see a difference and how amazing she looks.
Last week she finally took the compliment. She said, “you know, I can’t do it all yet. But I’m a lot farther now than I was three years ago.”
Three years ago, Namaste wasn’t driving, or walking, and most certainly not dancing.
And that’s what inspired me to write this post this week. Namaste has been through a journey people, but she was able to stop for a second – and look at how far she has come. She was able to stop apologizing and stop focusing on what she can’t do, long enough to smile and look at what she can do.
If she can take a pause in this busy world and find the inspiration inside herself to keep going, then why can’t I? Why can’t you?
Dare I say it, “if she can do it, so can we.”
It’s not about looking at everyone else’s highlight reel on Facebook. It’s not always about the miracle stories in the magazines and the forwarded emails and the Upworthy links. Those things have their place, but before all that, we can find inspiration right at home. It’s already inside of all of us.
Our own personal journey would probably inspire the masses if we each took the time to write a book about it. Why doesn’t it inspire us the same way?
Whether we realize it or not, we have our own highlight reel. A real, honest, unique highlight reel that includes the good and the bad. The shitty times and the celebrations. The bad boyfriends and the bad hangovers. The small victories and the big achievements.
And that’s the highlight reel we should be focusing on a little more. It’s lovely to congratulate our friends, and celebrate with our friends, and encourage our friends. But there’s a time and place for celebrating ourselves as well.
Look at how much we have done. Look at how much we have learned. Look at how far we have come.
My friend and writing mentor, Rae Gouirand, told me that she believes “the single most damaging idea facing the survival of creative culture is the idea that creative work comes from inspiration. That inspiration begets engagement.”
She says, “The truth is, most creative people I know live in a kind of perpetual terror of not being inspired, trying desperately to set themselves up for inspiration, when the truth is that external inspiration is almost always absent from most of our lives. My thesis: inspiration is best chased THROUGH the process itself. It is rare that I sit down feeling like I’m on fire, but if I start typing shit and get the right song on loop and no one interrupts me, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll find a flow where I feel happy.”
I’m not saying that we are all looking to sit down and write a novel here, but I love what she says about “chasing inspiration through the process itself.” Whatever you need, you have it. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s already inside of you. You just have to actively seek and find it within your daily life.
The definition of the word chase is “to pursue in order to seize or overtake; to follow or devote one’s attention to with the hope of attracting, winning or gaining.”
Seize your life. Overtake the desire to look elsewhere for inspiration. Follow your gut and search within the things you already know. There, you will find the hope, and the inspiration, that you’ve been seeking.
It’s worked for me. Now, let’s be real, it’s been actual work. This shit takes work. It’s not easy to look at all of the things I’ve seized and all the things that have almost overtaken me – but it’s definitely work that is worth it. It is absolutely necessary work.
It’s the work that saved my life, and it’s the work that makes me cherish the life I’m living right now.
“Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
Bada bing. Bada boom. You can always count on Elizabeth Gilbert to say it right.
The next time you look in the mirror, I hope that you recognize yourself as an inspiration. Because regardless if you see it now, or you see it five years from now, it’s already a fact. You are inspiration. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Whenever you are ready, take the time to chase that fact. Process that fact, love that fact, explore that fact – that fact that you are inspiration. It might take some work, but with time, your brain and your heart will accept this fact as truth, and everything will change. Everything.
I dare you to start the chase right now. Go look through your kitchen cabinet for your own sweet potato recipe. I bet you already have one hidden in there, and didn’t even remember.
Next week’s posting:
The Library That Saved My Life
I have to admit that humility is a virtue as much as patience is. And so it is with great humility, that I write you a quick post this weekend.
Where I thought I’d receive hundreds of picture submissions in my inbox and have to sort through them painstakingly to choose which ones to use in the next Roar video, I stand corrected.
I’ve received one.
With only five days left before the deadline for picture submissions – for the next Roar video – I wanted to post a short list of guidelines for the weekenders.
In a humble attempt to spread body love and positivity, I’ll re-cap the next video’s theme for you.
A dedicated group of people have been working hard on music, preparing to edit, and market the next video – all by volunteering their time generously. We work for free – but love is free – so we’re just trying to spread what’s meant to be shared, and that’s love.
I would so much appreciate you considering a contribution to the next Roar video, so that we can continue to spread the message that where we are on our journeys right this second is okay and WONDERFUL. I would so much love to have your participation in this next powerful piece that embraces the natural beauty of everyone, and shows no support for the war of “fat vs. skinny” or “real vs. fake”, whatever that even means. The next vid, is about beauty in all forms – and what the power of positive words really holds. No more wars on bodies. Let’s just love what we got and show the world how to start doing that.
The Guidelines, my friends:
- We are seeking pictures, of people, with masking tape on their skin, showing a positive word (i.e. beautiful, amazing, strong) written in Sharpie (a la the first Roar video.) The first video removed negative words in this manner, so the next video is set to do the exact opposite. Positive words on the body will be used in the video.
- Body part suggestions: you can put the tape on your chest (but please cover your boobies if you are a lady), your upper or lower back, your belly, your side (ribs), legs, arms, shoulders, calves, quads, glutes, etc. You pick.
- It must be on your skin – not on clothing. We are showing all of your bravery in bearing skin. We are working to promote self-love, and the tape on the skin promotes self-love and bravery at the same time. If you feel pale, go ahead and write “Pale and Proud”. Embrace what you may think is not “magazine-worthy” by using that exact thing for this picture. The more vulnerability, the better this project will turn out.
- Please use two pieces of masking tape, slightly overlapping, so that there is ample room to write your positive word as large as possible. The masking tape is mandatory – there’s a theme here, so writing Sharpie directly on the skin is not part of the theme. Kapeesh?
- Use a THICK, black, dark blue, or dark purple Sharpie to write your word, or make extremely thick letters with a normal Sharpie. A normal Sharpie is not thick enough to be seen on camera, so you must thicken all of the letters.
- Please send me as much of a body shot as you can. We need as much of a full body shot as possible while still being able to read the masking tape. Not everyone will want to show their face in the shot. Quite alright. Please know that full body pictures including faces are what my editor, and my creative team long for. Pine for. Would absolutely prefer. Again, with the vulnerability.
- The masking tape and the word can be either horizontal or vertical on your body. Creativity is key.
- Please do not send pictures of your actual ass if you choose to highlight your ass. You can have arrows pointing to your ass with a word like “sexy” or “gorgeous”, but nudity does not help us. Use your discretion. I trust your judgement.
- Same with boobies.
- Note that while I can’t accept nudity, I greatly welcome your full body shots in bikinis, sports bras and shorts, board shorts, or basically any clothing that shows as much skin as possible. The whole point is masking tape on skin, showing a lot of skin, but not an inappropriate amount. It’s a fine line. Enjoy this vague request.
- Positive words only – examples are beautiful, gorgeous, pretty, amazing, strong, fabulous, fit, tough, amazing, handsome, sexy, incredible, hot, etc. Feel free to be creative and use something I didn’t even list here.
- I don’t know how I feel about using swear words, because I want teens to be able to see this and appreciate the beauty as well. Not that I have this crazy notion that teens don’t swear, but what I’m saying is, the less nudity and swearing we use, the less likely it is that YouTube will put an age-appropriate ban on the video. Use your judgement, or perhaps write something like “Effing Awesome”. Everyone will still get the point.
- Five second video clips of your dog holding a sign in his mouth that says “My mama is beautiful”, or of you kicking your face with the word “strong” on your thighs will also be considered. Or ideas like this. Again, creativity highly welcomed. I love it. I love it.
- Group shots, couples shots, friend shots, mom and daughter shots, dad and son shots, any combo of these is welcome. Creativity is awesome. Have fun – the goal is to have fun. I want you to have fun.
- Email me your picture or (five second) video, your full name (unless you absolutely do not want to), and a tiny paragraph (no more than 100 words) about what The Roar Movement means to you and/or why you’d like to be included to firstname.lastname@example.org. I request the paragraph only so I can get to know a bit about you before I use your picture. I love finding out people’s stories – it inspires me, and it will help inspire the video. If you really don’t feel like writing it though, no worries, I’ll accept the picture anyway.
- I MUST HAVE THIS EMAIL FROM YOU NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 8TH. THAT’S NEXT SATURDAY. Originally the deadline was the 5th, but I’m extending it. Again, email@example.com.
- I originally asked you to keep this hush hush. But if you feel like sharing it, so that we can receive more pictures via your Facebook friends or Twitter followers, go for it. I only want the video to show off the beautiful body-love movement that’s taking place all over the world, and so the more, the merrier. I would like to wait to make the statement until the finished product is ready, but right now, we need your help to get those pictures into my inbox!!!
I, Amanda Trusty, hereby swear that I will not spam you once I have your email address other than to send you a Thank You with a link to the finished project in March. I will not exploit, sell, or share your email address, picture, or name with anyone. I swear that I am pretty technologically challenged and do not know how to do any of these things anyway. I swear that your picture is being used for a project to promote body-love, self-love, and positivity just as the first video, and this blog does. This blog stands for such things, and I appreciate your help in this next movement so very, very much.
I swear from the bottom of my masking tape covered heart, that my team and I are working hard on a project that means so much to us, and we are determined to make a difference. Your participation in that would be incredible, and it would be an honor to feature each and every one of you who are reading this in the project.
It’s okay to accept where we are in our journeys, and celebrate where we stand at the moment, even if it’s not exactly what we feel we should look like or feel like. We are all perfect in our own ways, and it’s time to throw ourselves a party. Or at least a pep rally where we root for each other.
Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo for sharing this and participating and supporting the project. (Original post about this project here.)
(Regular weekly posting to be posted Sunday/Monday as always! Aloha!)