Video game DANGER for teens

Video games are fun, beautiful, challenging (at just the right level), compelling, and they give us INSTANT FEEDBACK. It’s no wonder they are so compelling (and so addictive). Video games are slick, sexy, and meet so many of our emotional needs (in the short term).

But for many teens, video games are their ADDICTION.  Just this past week, the World Health Organization declared video game addiction a new category of mental disorder, and teens are highly susceptible.

SO many teens today are feeling STUCK doing school, and like they’re in a holding cell until they get to the adult world (which can also terrify them because they’re not sure they have what it takes to handle the adult world). Video games fill SO many of the needs for worthiness, purpose, a clear role, clear boundaries, clear objectives, clear rewards, and connection to something bigger than themselves. Video games are also a great way to distract ourselves from negative feelings, or avoid things  we don’t’ want to do. It’s no wonder so many teens just LOVE video games.  But there are potential dangers…

Have you seen the movie trailer for Ready Player One?  I just saw it last week when my husband and I went to the theatre to see Star Wars.

In just two minutes, the trailer covers how many teens feel, why they game so much, and how gaming fills a deep human need for connection.

“I’m sitting here in my tiny corner of nowhere.”

“There’s nowhere left to go except the Oasis”

“It’s the only place that it feels like I mean anything.”

“Like many of you, I came here to escape, but I found something bigger than just myself”

The main character in Ready Player One, Wade Watts, is relatable to so many teens because he feels powerless, stuck in his small world, and searching or something more. When we see Wade enter “the oasis” (the virtual world) he enters a world that is more engaging and stimulating than the world he lives in. He feels worthwhile in this world. In the Oasis there is a clearly defined goal with a HUGE reward. Even more than the compelling nature of searching for treasure is the sense of purpose that he gains from connecting with something bigger than himself (the political rebellion). In a few short minutes we can see a worthless small town nobody find purpose, connection, and a compelling future.

This is the trailer I’m talking about

Watch it with your teen! It’s a great conversation starter about how gaming fills our human needs.

Video games are like CANDY, because they’re so wonderful, they can crowd other healthy options. Just like helping little ones not eat candy all day long, it’s up to parents to help teens set healthy boundaries around video games.

Some psychologists are suggesting that 3 hours of gaming or more per day has harmful effects on social interactions. There is also research to suggest that excessive gaming is detrimental to the brain’s health. As a educator and a mom, I know that it doesn’t take 3 hours of gaming a day to start to cause a problem. Whenever gaming crowds out a teen’s homework time, their sleep time, and your teen is a sleep-deprived, moody, anxious, and going to school without completing their homework, those are CLEAR signs that your teen needs help to set boundaries with their gaming.

When video games start to crowd out other activities in a teen’s life, like spending time in person with friends, physical activity, school work, contributing to household chores, sleep, or personal hygiene, they have become a problem!

In the last week I connected with Elaine Uskoski, a mom of two young men, who told me the horrific story of her youngest son who went off to college and instead of attending class, shut himself up in his dorm room for 2 months playing video games. When she finally cut through all of the lies he was telling her (and that she was telling herself) she met him in person, and saw that he was a rack of bones. Not eating. Not showering. Only gaming. Who knows what would have happened if this mother hadn’t FINALLY listened to her intuition and stepped in. For more details, you can read Elaine’s book, Seeing Through The Cracks.

I don’t want this nightmare to be your story. If you have concerns about how your teen’s video gaming is impacting the other areas of their life, please reach out.

Book a complimentary 30 minute coaching session with me TODAY.

Elaine told her son,  “You can hate me for the rest of your life, but I’m going to SAVE your life”.

And she did. But she didn’t do it alone. Elaine reached out wherever she could for the support she needed.

End this now.  You could be saving your teen’s life.

I’ve created some extra time in my calendar this week to offer a FREE 30 minute coaching call for YOU.

BOOK NOW to grab your spot.

You’re not alone.

Deanne

P.S. Elaine told me that not only was her son lying to her about his gaming, but that she had been lying to herself. She had been downplaying the severity of what she was seeing, she had been trying to give her son his independence as a college student. But deep inside her, she knew there was a problem. She made her decision to take action, now it’s time for you to make yours…from your deepest place of strength. I can help. Book your call now

How do you want to show up as a parent in 2018?

I’m just about to sit down with a cup of coffee and a notepad and do some “visioning” around my heart’s desires for 2018.

I know that I want to connect deeper with my kids as they grow another year older, connect with my husband (who, bless his heart, is doing the dishes from last night’s party as we speak!) and connect with my own inner light.

I’ve use a specific process for my “visioning” time for the past few years, and  and it has TRANSFORMED my life. When I invest just a little bit of time into acknowledging all I’ve become as a parent, and centering myself in how I want to show up in the world in the next year, my relationships are deeper, and my life is richer.

I want that for you, too!

That’s why, for the FIRST TIME EVER, I’m opening up this powerful “visioning” process to EVERYONE in my community.

Together, we’ll tap into the wisdom that you’ve gained over the past year, and we’ll align your “Inner Compass” (what you check in with every time you need to make a judgement call- which is ALL THE TIME when you’re raising kids!!).

Here’s the truth: Only YOU know the year you just had with your kids. Last year’s experiences hold incredible wisdom for you if only you pause and reflect.  This is the time to gather all that we know to me true about our kids, ourselves, our world, and align our “inner compass”, our parenting wisdom, to THIS season in our lives.

As parents, we really measure time by how our children are growing and the stages they pass through; their first year of high school, their last year of living at home, the last “family holiday” when everyone is still living under the same roof.

We often get so focused on our kids’ milestones that we forget to PAUSE and reflect on our own parenting milestones. The first time we watch them drive off on a vehicle alone. The first time they break their curfew and we’re waiting up, sick with worry. Each time we reach one of these milestones, it feels like a stretch, and we’re constantly checking in with our inner compass, our best judgement, all that we know about our teen and the world we live in, to make a wise decision about what’s best for our teen. We know that we need to let our teen become more independent, but we always wonder if they can handle it. It’s the gradual letting go that is so critical for our relationship with our teens, and yet no-one is giving us a pat on the back or a gold start for these silent milestones.

Until now.. It’s time to acknowledge our efforts, our heartache, our restraint when we wanted to hold our kids in our arms to keep them safe. Only YOU know the year you’ve had with your teen.

This is your invitation to join me for an incredible event where you’ll turn this year’s  parenting experiences into WISDOM, it’s called your Inner Compass Alignment.

I’m leading a courageous group of parents who are willing to press PAUSE on the busyness so that you can reflect on the year you’ve had, and set a powerful intention for how you want to parent in 2018.

This is your opportunity to re-calculate, to re-adjust, to re-align with who you are, and how you relate to your teen THIS year.

Join me for this Inner Compass Alignment, and start 2018 strong! Here’s what you’ll discover during the event:

  • Acknowledge all you’ve been and become as a parent this year
  • Access the wisdom you’ve gained from 2017 so you don’t have to re-learn any of those lessons
  • Chart your course for connecting with your teen in a new way!

You’ll walk away from this experience feeling centered, clear, wise, and inspired to connect with your teen!

CLICK HERE to access the full invitation!

I can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for you and your family!

Deanne

P.S. Please share this invitation with your parent friends, or your partner. Together we’re building a community of courageous parents who are leaning into growing with their kids through the messiness of the teen years!

 

It is better to give to that receive…OR IS IT?

When we teach our teens that it’s better to GIVE….then how are they supposed to handle all of what they’re given?
We need to teach our teens how to GIVE and how to RECEIVE.
I’d like to take the wise wisdom of Christine Arylo, who says “It’s better to give AND receive”.
Teens often have a bad reputation of being entitled, self-centered and want-want-wanting!
The truth is, teens (like all people) come in ALL VARIETIES! There are advantages and disadvantages to being a GIVER. There are advantages and disadvantages to being a RECEIVER.
No matter what kind of teen you’re working with…there IS a way to engage with your teen in a positive way, so that they can learn the art of being able to both give and receive in life.
 
GIVERS: Some teens are incredibly passionate about serving others. They are altruistic and compassionate, and they put all of their energy into making the world a better place! These teens volunteer in their community, and they are lit up by the difference they are making! As parents of givers, we encourage and applaud their efforts. They are amazing kids! Sometimes, though, the givers struggle to take care of themselves. They’re so busy taking care of others that they can neglect their own sleep, nutrition, and ability to have fun (which is SO restorative!). Givers often feel guilty for having all they need, and for having a good time. As parents, we need to applaud their self-care efforts; when they are resting, when they are laughing with friends, when they are taking time for renewal, we need to congratulate them for knowing that when they’re whole and healthy, they are better able to jump back in to serving others.
RECEIVERS: Some teens appear so SELF-CENTERED! They’re entitled, and want-want-want. This can be really aggravating because they believe that the entire world (and family budget) should revolve around them and their needs. Sometimes this intense wanting pushes our buttons because the wanting isn’t connected to understanding how to GET what they want. Another reason why our teen’s wanting gets aggravating is because we’ve suffered so much from wanting and NOT receiving, that we’ve given up on our own desires in life. Wanting can be a great indication of clarity in life, and can create a compelling future (think of the kid who wants a car and does EVERYTHING in their power to fund that vision)!
As parents, we can encourage these teens to keep wanting, AND to figure out a plan of how to GET what they want (like getting a job, setting up a savings plan, thinking long-term, etc.).
As parents, we can also help these teens to be grateful for what they have, and think of the needs of others.
Often these teens need an experience of walking in someone else’s shoes, or serving others  (more than just one time) to really understand that it’s important to give when you have so much.
Whether you have giver, receiver, or both, it’s important to recognise that there are gifts in every way of being, and there are opportunities for US as parents to really lean in to those places where our teens “push our buttons” as areas to commit to learning about ourselves and growing in wisdom alongside our teens.

EASY strategies for RESILIENCE that no-one is talking about!

So many parents I’ve talked to are wondering what the BEST approach is to supporting their teens to be able to handle what life throws at them (and, honestly, how to handle the demands of living with the emotional ups and downs of a teen).

There are a number of EASY strategies that NO-ONE is talking about that are PROVEN to develop resilience in teens! (but I’m about the let these incredible SECRETS out!)

I’m wondering,

Is raising a RESILIENT teen one of your goals as a parent?

Is helping your teen to discover their PURPOSE important to you?

Are you always on the lookout for strategies that WORK with teens?

If you said YES to any of these questions, then please keep reading!

Parents today are more stressed, overwhelmed, overworked than ever before (and so are our teens!). Trial and error in parenting can be exhausting! We need EVERY SHORTCUT that we can get!

That’s why I’m so excited to share with you The Top 5 Secrets to Raising Resilient and Purpose-driven Teens

In this 3 part video series, you’ll learn

  • How to help your teen overcome the inevitable difficulties in life
  • The missing ingredient in most goal-setting programs
  • How to help your teen connect with a sense of purpose using the “video game method”
  • How to lower the risk of your teen making BIG mistakes
  • How to stay connected with your teen TODAY so that you’ll be friends when they are an adult

CLICK HERE to grab your seat, and you’ll have INSTANT ACCESS to the first video!

Enjoy!

Deanne

P.S. The KEY to resilience, is in dipping into the resources that are available, and learning what WORKS! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn these under-used strategies for raising resilient and purpose-driven teens! CLICK HERE to grab instant access to this video series!

What every teen WANTS this holiday season

Here’s the secret….every teen WANTS the satisfaction of knowing what they want, and then getting it!

In fact, we ALL want over the holidays are good feels! We want the feeling of certainty of knowing what will light us up,  the variety and excitement of something NEW, and the certainty of feeling SATISFIED with what we get!

Here’s  what’s difficult….teens are even more susceptible than adults to the negative emotions that come up during the holiday season:

  • Not knowing what they want
  • Wanting something that they believe they can’t have
  • Wanting something they they KNOW they won’t get
  • Feeling entitled to something and having to settle for something less
  • Being completely dis-satisfied with what they get because it doesn’t meet their expectations

Wanting is hard because it can lead to disappointment and rejection. Sometimes, it’s easier to not want anything. BUT, if we lose touch with what we WANT, then we miss out on the very feeling that can compel us to action. WANTING can be extremely motivating!

Settle in to WANTING something BIG!

Want an extraordinary life!

Want to feel connected to something bigger than yourself!

Want to know how to become your own best friend!

Want to know yourself a bit more deeply!

When we focus on expanding our view from the material wants, and really allow ourselves to set our vision on something greater, then we can follow the clues laying all around us to lead us in the right direction!

Not sure how to expand your view? CLICK HERE to grab a free 30 minute call with me, and we’ll get there together!

 

Wholehearted Parenting

The other day a good friend of mine told me this;

“Deanne, everyone thinks we’re the perfect family and that our teens are so amazing. But the truth is, it is SO hard to raise teenagers!  Just the other night, our oldest son was out driving around the next town in the middle of the night, when he was supposed to be home looking after his younger brother… We’re far from perfect”

Can you relate?

Parenting teens is tough, it always has been, but in today’s fast-paced world driven by IMAGE, we’re constantly comparing how everyone else’s life LOOKS compared to how our life FEELS.

As parents, we’ve worked hard to get an education, a career, a home, a partner, have children…and just when we feel like we’ve figured out how to parent our kids, they go sideways.

They’re driving around town in the middle of the night.

They’re failing a class.

They’re getting fired from their part time job.

They’re totaling the family car with 4 of their friends inside.

Not to mention the terrifying times when we’re worried about their mental health.

When we feel on top of our game in so many aspects of our adult life, it’s hard to be right back in the vulnerable, confusing, overwhelming messiness of figuring out life with a teenager.

That’s why I’ve  been capturing on camera my conversations with parents who are willing to share what parenting in real life looks like (and how it feels). I’ve put these conversations together into an incredible FREE global virtual event, so that YOU know that whatever you’re going through with your teen,

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We’re creating a global movement of parents who are committed to LEANING IN to the messiness of raising teens, and telling the TRUTH about how that really looks and feels. This event is called,

Wholehearted Parenting: Supporting resilient, confident and purpose-driven teens

I’ve interviewed over 21 thought leaders (many of whom are parents, but not all) to share their very best practices and insights so that you have the inner strength to work through your fears, lead your teen from the HEART, and learn to trust yourself as a parent. 

CLICK HERE FOR FREE ACCESS

Through this interview series you’ll discover

  • How to be responsive to your teen, not reactive
  • How to trust your intuition about how to bestparent your teen (despite what all your friends and family are telling you)
  • How to powerfully connect with your teen even when they’re pushing you away
  • How to see the conflict you have with your teen as an opportunity for growth (theirs AND yours)
  • How to step back so your child can solve their own problems
  • How to reinvent your relationship with your teen as they grow into adults

<<<CLICK HERE>>>  to reserve your FREE all-access pass!

This movement has the capacity to release an entire generation from comparison, isolation, and a fear of failure and give rise to a new generation of parents and teens who are willing to be lead with courage and cultivate resilience, creativity, and purpose.

Wouldn’t it me amazing to be part of a global movement of parents who are committed to leading with the heart?

The huge shift is happening. Let’s inspire wholehearted living by parenting our teens that way.

CLICK HERE  for access to every interview AND more than 20 bonus resources for you and your family!

If you’re ready for a real change, I invite you and any of the parents in your life to join us for Wholehearted Parenting.

With gratitude,
Deanne

P.S. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be part of a global movement that inspires parents to lead with their whole heart? Here’s your opportunity to be part of that inspiration. Would you kindly share this with your friends, your neighbors, and any other parents who you know could benefit from hearing the TRUTH about raising teens today.

 

RETREAT into gratitude!

Are you feeling overworked and under-appreciated?

Have you been putting your own needs on the back-burner so that you can take care of EVERYONE ELSE?

Here’s what I know for sure:

There are seasons in our life when we need to take care of others, but when that becomes our default setting, that leads to exhaustion, resentment, and sickness!

Sometimes, we need to take a step back from our default setting, and re-calculate how we’re operating day-to-day.

If you’re willing to open up to GRATITUDE, it’s easy!

That’s why I’m so excited to invite you to join me for a GRATITUDE RETREAT.

Step back from your life for a weekend, and allow me to guide you into GRATITUDE

(It’s my superpower, and it can be your superpower, too!)

With gratitude, you shift out of stress and into your heart. Through gratitude you gain:

  • CLARITY around who you are, and who you’re not
  • CONFIDENCE in your ability to take care of yourself through the stressful times
  • CONNECTION with your own inner spark, AND the people you love

CLICK HERE for the full invitation

With gratitude,

Deanne

P.S. If there’s someone in your life who seems to have lost their spark, please copy and paste this link, and invite them to retreat into gratitude!

Back to School Stress

Are you feeling the fall pressure?

Does your calendar ALREADY look completely packed?

Instead of falling into the old patterns of overwork and overwhelm from years past, take some time to make the bold commitment to

DO THIS YEAR DIFFERENTLY.

I’m challenging you to schedule time in your calendar for DOING NOTHING. Schedule in some time every day (10-20 minutes) and a larger chunk of time each week (1-3 hours) when you don’t have a “to-do” list to accomplish.

This is a time to do only what you WANT to do. Do what you’re inspired to do IN THE MOMENT. Sit down, drink a cup of tea, draw, stretch, lay on your bed and listen to music.

Stick to your commitment of allowing yourself this down time (this is for teens AND parents!)

Here’s why: when we give ourselves time to stop, breathe, decompress, rest, and listen to what we need in the moment, our rested mind and body is able to make clearer decisions the rest of the day (so we actually end up saving time!)

Can I tell you a quick story about doing things differently?

Last weekend I ran a 10 K race. There was a woman ahead of me who would run, then slow down to a walk, then run again. I had used this strategy in my training, but on race day I was committed to running at a strong pace for the entire race. I was SO FRUSTRATED that this woman was actually moving at the same pace as me!

Here’s the lesson: We fool ourselves into feeling like we need to push-push-push all day long to be productive and successful, when in fact, varying our pace allows us to use our energy more efficiently, and gives us some much needed VARIETY in our lives so we don’t get burned out from the push.

Give yourself the gift of taking a break EVERY DAY!

 

You are WORTH IT!

Deanne

Parenting for Resilience

The school year is wrapping up, and I’m curious….have you really had the impact on your teen that you’d like?

Are you worried about the choices that your teen is making, but feeling powerless to influence your teen?

Are you seeing your teen make the SAME MISTAKE over and over again?

Are you afraid that you’ll “say too much” and push your teen into hiding…again?

SO many parents have been asking me HOW TO PARENT TEENS so that they’re RESILIENT, so I’ve created this FREE MASTER CLASS, and you’re invited!

Parenting for Resilience: How to coach your teen into being a successful problem solver is happening LIVE on Saturday!

In this MASTERCLASS I’ll show you step-by-step how to:

  • Reduce stress by swapping worry for wisdom
  • Listen to your teen so they KNOW that you respect them
  • Ask simple questions that will empower your teen to solve their own problems
  • Build resilience skills over the summer as a family

Are you in? CLICK HERE to grab your spot for FREE!

Not only will you hear my BEST STRATEGIES for empowering your teen, you’ll also have a chance to ask me questions in our LIVE Q and A session at the end of the training.

Don’t miss out on this amazing FREE training! CLICK HERE to grab your spot!

See you there!

Deanne

P.S. We can only accommodate 100 participants, so act now to grab your seat! CLICK HERE to register now!

When I Met Resilient Me- by Jennifer Cahuantzi

My favorite outfit of all-time was a kelly green, terrycloth jumper. It had solid block colors across the front in red, yellow and blue, with strings at the shoulders that tied at the top. I loved that thing, but I would only wear it in my bedroom because the shoulder strings exposed my arms. My plump, padded arms. They lacked any definition and for that,

I refused to let anyone see them. This was middle school. I was not, by any means, overweight. My family often joked that I ate like a bird and usually fell asleep before dinner was on the table, but by high school, I was dieting.

I remember walking down the hall in high school and thinking to myself, “Wait a second … is that my rear shaking behind me?” And it was! So I made the necessary changes and started eating a Granny Smith apple and two Quaker rice cakes everyday for lunch, for years. My family didn’t know, but it didn’t feel like a secret. It felt more like brushing my teeth twice a day. It was just something I had to do.

I was already very active. I’m from the generation of kids that immediately went outside to play after getting home from school in the afternoon. I’d also been dancing since the age of six. Everyday, after school, Monday through Friday and Saturday mornings. Performances, Recitals, Competitions, After-school Intensive and Dance Company.

Since I didn’t know where I wanted to go to college, I attended a community college for a year and continued my dance training at the Artistic Dance Centre. I also joined a gym and went to a cardio class everyday. If I couldn’t make the gym, I did one of my mom’s workout videos at home. I felt great! And I was thin. And that felt incredible.

* 17 years old

* 5’8”

* 120 lbs

Pretty perfect dancer specs. Or so I thought.

In that same year, I discovered a university whose primary focus was dance and musical theatre performance and that’s when I knew that that university was exactly where I wanted to be.

One hundred thirty-two dancers auditioned for the university’s dance program in 1993. Fifty-seven made it. Sitting in the front seat of my mom’s Volkswagen Cabriolet, parked at the top of our driveway, I opened the envelope from the university and cried when I read the letter.

I was accepted as a Dance Performance Major. I was one of the fifty-seven and I was elated.

This was not your typical dance school. Most colleges focus on Ballet and Modern. This program was modeled after the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, offering Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Musical Theatre with an acute

focus on creating a triple threat … someone who can sing and dance and act, so they’re more marketable in the industry.

Leaving home for the first time, so many emotions swirled within me … excitement, fear, anticipation. I moved from Maryland to the Midwest where the school was planted and fell in love with my decision, my new place in life and the personal path I was beginning to carve for myself. Something about being there on campus, finding and connecting with new people, my people, felt so freeing and meaningful.

With that joy and excitement came hardship, too. At least for me it did. Part of the industry, I learned, pays particular attention to body image. Just as the Rockettes and many other shows do today, dancers are required to make and maintain a certain weight. So in preparation for the real world, we were required to weigh in. No problem, I thought. I was slim and dancing everyday would only make me slimmer. We weighed in three times a semester and our weight was a part of our grade, but as the semesters passed, even though I was a proficient dancer, I began to receive low marks because of my body. It did not match what they wanted.

And then the dance faculty addressed my weight directly. They told me I needed to lose. I was shocked at first. Me?! I mean, I was thin. In fact,

I was thinner than most. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t understand their logic, but I was also too afraid to ask questions. Instead, I began to watch and study and try to determine how they were making their decisions. It just did not make sense. It appeared to me that they were holding me to the 122 lbs I came in weighing in my freshman year. And while other girls weighed more and had more body mass, if the other girls lost 1 lb, but I gained 3 lbs, they were ‘good’ and I was ‘bad.’

So what did I do? Well, a natural-born people-pleaser, I wanted the dance faculty to like me, so I tried to lose the weight. Dancing 4-6 hours a day and afterwards, hitting the gym, I ate as healthy as I could at the time, but also regressed into binges with friends on the weekends.

So I began to manage my weight in ways I had never tried before. Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. I tried not to eat what I thought was ‘bad.’ I tried to control my eating. I tried to control what I ate, the amount I ate and when I couldn’t take it anymore, I’d cave and binge. Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. Smoke. Restrict. Diet. Drink. Binge.

God, I hated those next mornings. Peeling myself out of bed with guilt and shame bound to my body like dead weights at my ankles.

I was devastated and at 5’8”, now weighing in at 128 lbs, my body was beginning to affect my path as a dancer. I was cut from the Dance Company and forgotten, or so it seemed, for Choreography Shows. For all the performances, I was required to work backstage, helping dancers make quick costume changes and then re-hang their costumes on hangers, or I was required to work front of house as an usher rather than being onstage where I wanted to be, where I was training to be, where I belonged. It was diminishing. I hated it. I hated me. I hated me for not being able to get this right. I hated me for not being able to fix myself.

I hated my body for failing me, for not losing weight, for its bone structure and for having cravings I couldn’t control. I hated myself. I was ashamed of myself. I was embarrassed that I’d been rejected. Couldn’t they see? Didn’t they know? Didn’t they know how hard I was trying? Apparently not. So I tried even harder.

Restrict. Diet. Binge. Restrict. Smoke. Restrict. Drink. Binge. Diet. Restrict. The cycle continued again and again, until I had an idea.

I decided one night in my sophomore year to try something I’d never done before, but just this once. I was only going to try it once. I ordered a Domino’s pizza for delivery. Again, it was just this once. No big deal. And then, my brighter idea. “If I’m gonna do this, I might as well add ice cream.” But again, just this once. So I raced to the Braum’s on the corner, purchased a hot fudge sundae – no nuts, no cherry – and raced back home before the pizza arrived. Just this once. Just this once. Sitting and waiting for the doorbell, I tried to remember the last time I had had pizza or ice cream, let along both on the same night. Had it been two years? Two and a half? I couldn’t remember, but you know, just this once.

*ding*

Here we go.

I really don’t remember tasting a thing. I packed it in swiftly and raced to the bathroom. Knees down. Lid up. Fingers down. Food up. Flushed down. Cleaned up. And that was that. Just this once. It was almost a little too easy, but again it was just this once. Yeah. Just this once. Until it wasn’t. Until it was 13 years later.

What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I stop this? Where was my strength? Where was my will? Every time I knelt down to make myself sick, I would prop my elbows on the toilet seat, interlace my fingers, rest my forehead on my clasped hands and sincerely pray, “Please God … please don’t let me die from this. Please don’t let me have a heart attack. I know You’re going to use this for Your will and purposes someday. Just please don’t let me die.”

I tried so many times to stop and I couldn’t. I kept it a secret as long as I could and then I couldn’t. I tried to get help and take their suggestions and I did and then I couldn’t. I went to see a nutritionist, a therapist and a hypnotist. Nothing worked long term. Therapy, with a handful of different professionals, helped for a session or two. I was able to vent

about things I was holding onto and the therapist, who knew nothing of my past, politely sat and listened. I appreciated that, but I needed more.

I wasn’t changing. Nothing was changing. And I was getting frustrated which only lead to more episodes.

This went on for years. When I thought I had it licked, it returned. It rarely got better. It only got worse. One of the therapists even told me flat out, “You know you’ll never get over this. You will have this forever. It will get better at times, but it will never go away.” Her candor shocked me. I refused to believe her. That couldn’t be true. Because I didn’t always have this thing and if I started it, I could stop it. Oddly enough,

it was comments like hers that kept me fighting and so I did. I kept on fighting. I never stopped fighting. I just kept fighting. And it was a living hell.

In my late twenties and through my thirties, I studied under the tutelage of a Spiritual Director. God had had a tug on my heart since my youth and at this time, I wanted to explore more. It was what my Spiritual Director said that finally flipped the switch. Not a switch that turned the disorder off, but a switch that turned me on. A switch that ignited something new in me. Knowing my struggle, she asked me what God would think of me having an eating disorder. I’d never thought about that.

I didn’t know the answer. And when I took time to consider it, I couldn’t connect the dots. What I could do, though, was consider what my dad would think of me having an eating disorder. And that struck something deep within me that started a slow, but continuous shift. My dad had passed away suddenly in my junior year at that university.

I missed him terribly and to think how he might respond to learn that his daughter, his baby girl, his only girl was suffering and struggling and failing and depleted. I could definitely connect to that. It broke my heart and that breaking began my rebuilding.

It didn’t happen overnight, the way I wished; the way it seemed to start. It was and has been a very long road and it is possible. Here are a few of my takeaways:

• Acceptance. Yes, acceptance. I spent most of those 13 years waiting wishing and hoping my life were different, that I was different. Yet, waiting, wishing and hoping only distracted me from exactly what was happening. I was suffering. When I let go of the idea that there was something wrong with me and accepted that I was suffering, I got curious about my suffering. I got curious about me. Instead of running away from me, I started to learn who I was, what I needed and how to meet those needs.

• Start Something New. Have you ever tried to stop something? Like, stop eating after 7pm? Or stop eating the pint of ice cream? Or stop smoking? It sucks! It’s hard! I don’t want to stop anything! I’m not a quitter!!! What I’ve learned I can do is start something. Start something new. Start calling someone you care about when the clock strikes 7pm. Start eating ice cream from a bowl versus directly from the container. Start a new class at the gym or buy a bike and go for a spin. I’ve never been good at stopping anything, but when I start something new, the old thing, the dead thing that no longer serves, starts dissolving into the background.

• Become Your Own Best Friend. For God’s sake, do this. Start treating yourself like one of your own, one of your inner circle, one of your buddies because you are. You deserve the love and attention and kindness and compassion that you probably extend to most other people without a thought or question. For the love of all that is good in this world, toss your loving self into that category. Spend some time with you and give yourself the gift of your own friendship.

• Come Back to Life. Ever notice how much our struggles with body and body image issues cause us to retract and hide from life? I know I did this. A lot. I missed out on so much because I didn’t like the way I felt or looked. Even if I showed up, I couldn’t let myself be seen. I hid inside my life and so coming back to life has been an exciting adventure. Bringing people back to life is essentially what I do as a Coach. I give my clients the tools they need to see themselves and to let themselves be seen. Be in your life. Stand in your life. And whenever you find yourself hiding away, come back. Come back to life.

So do I ever slip up and regress? Heck, yes. Do I still purge? No.

I haven’t for over nine years. I can, however, still put some sugar down, but it no longer takes me where it used to. And when I indulge, I choose the best of the best. The best ice cream. My favorite candy. I only want the best because, for me, it’s the best that satiates.

And when I’m done, I’m done. And I start back clean again. And I rarely feel the guilt and shame for being who I am. Do I still love candy? Yes. Always have; probably always will. It’s just that these days, the difference is, I love me, too, and these days, I choose to include myself in life and living.

My hope is, if you need to, you will get there, too.

I know you can. I know it.

And that, I know to be true.

* * *

For over two decades, Jennifer Cahuantzi, a professionally trained dancer, has worked with celebrity clients as a Pilates Instructor and Personal Trainer – an experience that has inspired her development as a Certified Fearless Living Coach and Certified Fearless Trainer – training people from the inside out.

Through triumphs and trials, getting it right, but more often getting it wrong, struggling with addiction, overcoming addiction and learning to live life versus just survive it, Jennifer has learned some incredible lessons along the way.

Through IgniteSheShines, she expands her clients’ awareness and equips them with tools that empower them to build confidence and stand in the freedom of authenticity.