Don’t Put The Movie In

This title sounds like a scary movie. Coming to theaters tonight so grab yo refillable popcorn bucket and don’t forget to stop at the seasoning salt station!! You can keep the popped kernels but it’s not that. It’s the earliest thing I can remember learning about authentic friendship.

Nine years ago in eighth grade, I sat next to the kinda friend you don’t hang out on weekends with but share the best conversations. It was English class and we laughed endlessly before, during and after that bell rang. We had different friend groups but effortlessly clicked.

I remember the day she showed me the bruises on her legs. She pulled down her knee high socks (throwback to our beloved uniforms!) and commented how she didn’t know where they came from. Being a dancer, she assumed that she must have gotten them at dance class and I never thought to question it. She was mistaken.

She stopped coming to school and English class got a lot less exciting. A week or so later, our principal sat our grade down and told us that she had been hospitalized and diagnosed with leukemia. I didn’t know what that entirely meant but I knew it was cancer and my grandfather passed away from it before I was born.

Remember when I said I didn’t hang out on the weekends with her? That changed. Not out of pity but out of love. Out of ‘that’s my friend and I want her to know that she means something special to me’. Out of ‘I can’t imagine what you’re going through but I miss seeing you every day and you’re not fighting this alone’.

I visited her in the hospital but the real memories came when she was home. She continued school by skyping in from a cleaner environment where her immune system wouldn’t attack her by a common bug. Her basement felt just like English class again.

I got to know her mom and always loved how she hummed when she cooked. I used a cotton towel to dry my hands after I washed them as she used a disposable paper one. She informed me that she could still go to McDonalds as long as she asked for fries without salt because they would have to make a fresh batch just for her. Most importantly, she taught me how to truly interact with a human being and not tip toe around a sick friend.

Another friend and I were over at her house and were sitting on the floor in a circle, chatting about who knows what. Nothing was planned and nothing was there to distract us. Just good ole conversation. Our friend with leukemia told us something I will never forget. Wellll, I can’t actually recall the precise wording but it went something just like, “I love when you guys come over because you don’t just put a movie in like other friends do. You actually talk to me and make me laugh.”

I’m not belittling her other friendships one bit. I know that she had much closer friends than myself who definitely didn’t just stare at a screen while sitting next to her. However, it can be tricky to relate to a friend who lost her hair from chemotherapy and had a chest tube to pump medicine through to avoid too many IVs. It can be difficult to relate to anyone with different life experiences, especially at age 13. Heck, movies are a sure way to entertain ourselves and simply relax.

I don’t know how we came to the conclusion of never suggesting watching a movie but I’m so so SO glad that we did. Because Becca didn’t want to be treated differently as the elephant in the room. She simply wanted the normalcy of making memories with her friends instead of “visitors”. Becca wanted to look at the faces of those who cared about her instead of those that belong to celebrities.

I would like to think that we all want that. Movies can bring people together, showcase phenomenal talent and tell great stories. I too find joy in them especially when outdoor projectors and eight blankets are involved. But my perspective on movies is shared with mine about eating out: food (and therefore, a movie) is pretty empty when the emphasis is on the food/movie, not on the people you’re enjoying it with.

The difference here is that we are largely discouraged from talking during movies. When I do, I a) am told to shut up and/or b) feel guilty for talking in a theater or as the people I’m with don’t want to miss a detail. Both a and b happen to me every time until I end up falling asleep. That happens every time too.

I would assume that Becca agrees. About the ‘let’s watch movies but do plenty of other things too because I treasure the time where you sit with me on the floor and look me in the eyes and be in that moment like it’s the most important moment of your life’ thing. But I can’t confirm that because she passed away a few days after Christmas during our sophomore year of high school.

I still think about her single comment that reveals what being a friend and frankly, human, is all about: connection. She hasn’t been on this earth for six and a half years but she continues to remind me of the subtle yet ginormous importance of making people smile. This beautiful girl taught me one of my most treasured life lessons in appreciating the company around me:

Don’t put the movie in (literally and figuratively). Don’t you dare. Let’s sit right here and enjoy each other’s absolutely unique selves instead! Because we never know the last time that person felt truly listened to, we have a whole lot to learn from each other and we’ll never get this time back.

598850_4778572903497_681957914_n.jpg

Lobster, Blueberries & Smiles That Reveal the Soul

Yesterday, I returned from a week on the east coast with my fam bam! It’s the first vacation we took in eight years with the whole clan so I was in blisssss. I also planned a good chunk of the trip so I’m a tad biased…

IMG_5153.JPG

We spent a day in Boston, a day driving up the coast of New Hampshire and Maine and five days in Bar Harbor, Maine!! Hiya, lobstah and blueberry flavored everything!!

FullSizeRender.jpg-1.jpeg

It was my goal to try three lobster rolls so I could compare more than two (two ended up being my max because it never sounded appetizing after that but ya girl did order lobster tacos and lobster mac and cheese!). And in the blueberry department, I had beer, wine, a margarita, muffin, pancakes, ice cream, pie, smoothie bowl, mustard, lemonade and straight blueberries. Blueberries always always sound appetizing.

IMG_4814.JPG

Highlights:

  • Watching the sun rise at 5am on a mountain in Acadia National Park
  • Hiking Ocean Path
  • Mount Dessert Ice Cream. GO HERE IF YOU ARE IN BAR HARBOR. The creamiest and most delicious ice cream I ever did try to date!!!
  • Kayaking in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Coffee strolls with the joyful padre 🙂
  • Portland Head Lighthouse
  • Biking down mountains. Terrifying meets enthralling.
  • Blueberry picking!!
  • The vieeeews.
  • Airport adventures because none of our flights went as planned.

IMG_4886.JPG

Non-highlights:

  • Our canceled whale watching trip
  • People who don’t smile back

FullSizeRender.jpg-2.jpeg

On our last day, my mom stated that she had an amazing time but it would have been a whole lot better if the people around us didn’t give off negative vibes all day long. Because the people we surround ourselves with have an effect on us. Even though we mainly spent time with ourselves in our various activities and meals, their non-smiley nature weighed down on us.

Screen Shot 2017-08-11 at 11.30.15 AM.png

My brother tried to talk to the eight year-old boy he sat next to on our duck boat tour in Boston. His mom turned around and shouted, “Stranger danger!!”.  The funniest part to me is that my bro is literally trained in talking to people on a relational level because he is going into ministry. I can see where his mother was coming from but lolll.

IMG_5064.JPG

It’s in my family’s nature to smile and say hi to everyone. Maybe it’s our Midwest upbringing, our parents’ parenting or our personalities. Anyways, we didn’t meet many people like us. Generalizing is one of my biggest pet peeves but on a three mile walk, my sister and I counted and only two people we crossed paths with on a very popular trail smiled back at us.

IMG_5115.JPG

I don’t think everyone should be happy 24/7. Nobody is and nobody ought to be because that’s just not part of the human experience. Sure, I would call myself a joyful person. People at work call me, “the girl who smiles in her sleep” because they notice the expression my face usually carries. But I’m starting to think that there’s another layer to this ‘WHY DOESN’T ANYONE SMILE HERE?!’ thing.

IMG_4873.JPG.jpeg

I don’t think we see each other how we need to see each other. I don’t think people realize how remarkable the human person is and how brilliant our daily lives have the ability to be. This topic gets me all stirred up for many reasons. One being that Jesus told us, “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12).

IMG_5223.JPG

The Son of God literally told us that we will do greater things than Himself. THE SON OF GOD. Do you understand what He did on this earth 2,000 years ago and that He promised us we will do more impeccable things? That is utter craziness and surely miraculous.

IMG_5157.PNG

You may think I took a sharp left turn and went down 16 flights of stairs and then ran a marathon away from my original point of people not smiling at me as I looked for a pair of socks to buy my friend in the local souvenir shops. But I don’t think so at all. And here’s why.

IMG_5003.JPG.jpeg

We wouldn’t ignore our brothers and sisters if we realized that they are the ones who are getting us to heaven. We wouldn’t avoid smiling back at strangers if we understood that our Creator is smiling down at the thought of us in this very moment. We wouldn’t walk down sidewalks looking defeated, angry, exhausted, and/or distracted because we’re too busy to notice anyone else crossing our path if we have invited God to enter into our heart and therefore, see the world a bit more how He sees it.

IMG_4996.JPG

Surely, we’re never going to be able to impact all the lives of the people we share a crosswalk with. But we have the choice to share joy and doing this whenever possible is something I want to be apart of.

IMG_4795.JPG.jpeg

The tourists around me were constantly taking pictures of the scenery. That’s cool because yessiree, I love admiring the mountains and ocean and lighthouses and boats and rocky cliffs and seals and wild blueberries too. But what if we realized that none of these were given a soul that has the capability to live in communion with God for eternity. That massive detail was kept for you. It was intently stored away for your everyday, unrepeatable people.

IMG_5011.JPG

That’s a huge something to praise God for. That’s something to smile about right now and on the streets.

Keep on Comin’, Avocado Craze

I have just been smiling at the avocados on my Instagram feed, in the news and as the topic of podcasts. It has become one trendy green fruit and I’m cheering it on with pom poms!

Not because avocados are photogenic on my picture-ready plate. Not because I think monounsaturated fats hold moral superiority. And most definitely, not because I adhere to a “clean” diet. No no, not at all!!

I am loving this craze because I like to think of avocados as one of the medicines that healed me. Food and especially those rich in fat did. Helllllo there, salted peanut butter and brambleberry crisp cone in one hand as I use my other to talk to my gal pal during our German Village stroll.

19732316_1722950237732837_7080840079488394994_n.jpg

I am not going to get too TMI on this space but I’ve seen the doc because one of my body’s 11 systems stopped working in its entirety. Which was caused by my hypothalamus telling a few of my hormones to stop functioning as these hormones ought to. Lucky for me, this doctor didn’t agree with others who told me to “just go on the pill and you’ll be golden”. Golden is my word choice but you know what I mean.

A deficiency in birth control is not why my body was choosing what to sacrifice in order to keep my heart beating. Synthetic hormones are not the real deal and should not be treated as such. No amount of drugs could heal my underlying problems but why go that sticky and unforeseeable route when I have access to the easiest, quickest and perfectly packaged fix to everything under the fiery star that stands 93 miles away? That would be called the sun.

As I said in my previous post, I fully recognize that I am not a credentialed health care professional. However, I have my personal story to contribute and have read a fair amount of research because I needed to make sense of what was occurring and how I could fix this problem for my sustainable well-being.

I resisted the band-aid solution and am so very grateful to my intuition, self-education and acknowledgement of God’s plan for the female body for that choice. It was my worst fear to push this issue off and continue dragging my body through intense stress until I try (and would’ve 183% failed) to bring babies into this world down zeee road. I couldn’t imagine selfishly telling my future husband, “Hey bud, we can’t have children because I didn’t take care of myself well enough. Sorry bout your luck.”

IMG_4413.JPG

This particular doctor told me to increase my intake with an emphasis on consuming enough fat from foods such as avocados, nuts, dark chocolate and ice cream. Because in case you were unaware, we all need fat to synthesize our hormones.

YES MA’AM. The caps are to celebrate my happiness for finding a MD who looked at my lifestyle and not just my test results. And that fats have become my favorite macronutrient. I now eat avocado daily, have a nut butter collection of 6 jars (formally 12 but my past roommate put me on a rightful ban for my excessiveness hehee), hardly go a day without dark chocolate and rounded up the troops at my family reunion last weekend to visit an ice cream shop that serves homemade IPA ice cream. IPA ICE CREAM!!

It wasn’t a fa(s)t and furious road to healthy inner-workings. Smooth like sunflower butter or beer ice cream or the creamiest avocado you ever did see is not how I would describe this process. Despite following these orders, time kept passing and I was losing hope. But my initial idea of what my body needed wasn’t oh so accurate. Everything fell into place with alllll the flexibility.

18198620_10212691330979232_7197612914538501407_n.jpg

Through plenty plenty plenty of trial and error, I now understand what my body requires to function as one cohesive kickazzzing unit, to have enough energy to get outside on a jaw-dropping running trail and to be my fully energetic, smiley self that thrives on puns and early morns and talking to my super cool aunt about her Chilean pottery. Being this in tune with my needs that change every single day is like woooAHmazing. But what isn’t that 12 letter adjective are the diet-focused messages that we’re surrounded by.

Just because avocados are the craze today doesn’t mean that our society has collectively accepted that fat on an individual’s body serves an important purpose. Diet-culture tells me that the fat on mine (or graduation cap?!) can be gone in 14 days if I could just simply eat a restricted diet and adhere to a Pinterest toning exercise plan. Probably should get a personal trainer who has never heard of intuitive movement too. Actually, I won’t be able to be a mother without it and will have osteoporosis at age 50 at that rate so byyyye. And this is no exaggeration.

My most recent birthday celebration was inspired by my favorite way to eat avocados (never ever less than 1/2 in one sitting is my motto!). A good tossing of full-fat dressing is key in my salads so that the fat-soluble vitamins in my veggies are actually absorbed by my body. The nut butter paired with my overnight oats, toast, smoothies, medjool dates and dark chocolate bar isn’t capped at two tablespoons in one day. HeccckNO.

IMG_4259.JPG.jpeg

Endless yesses to whipping up squid ink pasta made from scratch paired with a cream sauce, scallops and asparagus in a cooking class earlier this month. With a grilled endive and radicchio salad beforehand, a peach bellini sorbet afterwards and memories made with friends and strangers in between. Plus a snack when I got home because of satiety. Swooooon to the moon!

Who knows if this avocado frenzy is here to stay. I wouldn’t care if it all faded away tomorrow. My food philosophy isn’t fluctuating with the trends that millennials double dutch jump on. I’ll take your entire stock of ripe Hass avocados AND a bloodstream full of hormones AND a fabulously colorful life over fatphobia and prescriptions, please and thank ya!

One Unusual Quality I Look For In Friends

In the two months that I’ve been home, I’ve been surrounded by new faces. Not so much new friends but friends who I haven’t gone on strawberry lemonade donut and iced coffee dates with since high school.

IMG_4404.JPG

I have spent a few days in the past two months with one friend in particular who I have noticed a certain quality in – one that I wish wasn’t so uncommon. Through four square dominating, rooftop drinking and lemon pizza (my new favorite topping!!) sharing, it has become apparent that in addition to her constant humor, selfless nature and contagious joy, she displays a healthy relationship with food.

I am fortunate to have a few other friends who I can also identify as normal eaters. The ones who don’t categorize their food into good and bad categories, don’t think talking about cutting dairy in hopes of a new body size is an engaging conversation and don’t shame themselves or others over food choices, body image and exercise regimens. But it is devastating to me that I should be elated when I discover that someone doesn’t partake in these discussions.

IMG_4356 2.JPG

This blog post was sparked because although I notice disordered (sadly, turned normalized) comments countless times a day, I’ve been to multiple barbecues this month. Ya know, the kinds with hamburgers, cheesy potatoes, chips and dip, fruit, veggies and many dessert offerings. I always happily help myself to what I want in that moment and float to wherever an empty chair is.

Over and over and over again, I’ve heard comments about how people never eat mac and cheese so they “need to eat up now” while it’s being served, how they need to get away from the food table because they “don’t have self control”, how they worked out that morning so they “allowed themselves to have whatever they want” and how the carbohydrates on their plate will go straight to their xyz body part.

IMG_4416.JPG

I will never understand why people would rather pick themselves apart rather than discuss their life happenings, goals bigger than the sky, excitement when Natasha Bedingfield comes on (see above pic hehee), nail polish…practically anything other than their fear of gluten and the like. I try to always be compassionate because I know there are deeper issues present. I am aware of the taxing cultural messages we are engrossed in and how the body functions when it is listened to and treated with respect…or not. In these ugly and all too familiar settings, I simply add in a single comment about eating both mindfully and joyfully and do my best to shift the conversation to something that will create smiles on the faces of those around me.

I know I’m sensitive to this information because of my internship turned volunteer work with an eating disorder treatment center and the dietitian bloggers and podcasters I read/listen to who focus on intuitive eating, health at every size and joyful movement (I list my faves here!). However, with this experience and consuming their content backed by research, I can’t simply erase it from my mind and frankly, it would be a disservice to the nonprofit that I communicate on behalf on to behave contrarily to their world-renowned work.

IMG_4390.JPG

Being exposed to this fatphobia dialogue has only gotten more difficult because when my career goals changed last summer and I now inform people of my five-year plan that ends in me (hopefully) passing the RD exam, the shame heightens. “Ker, can I be your first client? I am in desperate need of a meal plan”, “You’re probably judging what I’m eating, aren’t you?”, “Woaah, do I see ______ on your plate. I didn’t think future dietitians ate fried food”.

I can give you 17 more examples but that’s not necessary. I’ve prepared myself to receive these for the rest of my life and have even heard that dietitians lie about their real profession because they are tired of these comments. Send your ideas my way but I’m thinking I’ll take on librarian status! I’m kidding buuut we’ll get there when we get there. Either way, I fully understand that I have zero credentials, my current nutrition education is limited and I won’t be a dietitian for a long long time, if that is even what’s in God’s plan for me.

IMG_4339.JPG

Sure, it gives me hope for my future goal of nutrition counseling that I will never be without work. It is obvious to me that folks across generations have practically forgotten how to eat in accord to their personal needs because of all of the marketing they give in to and dieting behaviors they have added to their daily routine. But that is the only positive side to it and well, not positive in the slightest because I would rather be without work than live in a toxic world.

This is why it is so SO refreshing to spend good, sweet quality time with friends who never linger on such shenanigans. I typically don’t know the complete picture of their past and current relationship with food and exercise, their mental health status, their stress levels and endless other factors that may be influencing their remarks. But I do know that an apple pie popsicle made with local ingredients at a farmer’s market shared with good company tastes incredibly dreeeamier if I’m eating it with people who don’t make diet-y remarks about the sugar content of this treat. Who wants to join the popsicle party?!!

IMG_3871.JPG

So I’m here. Left with a desire to make more friends who have a healthy relationship with food but crazy thankful for those close to me that do. I certainly have a place in this tug of war to do my best to be that confidant. One who never tears myself and my food choices apart and especially, not when others are around and can be impacted.

Because these comments about ourselves, family members, dear friends and complete strangers are not ok. We were given one divinely crafted body and the soul within it is communicated by our external ways. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in understanding how everything we do is literally extraordinary because it’s an extension of our soul. Altogether, if we shift our worldview to this standard, diet-culture will be long gone. Oh would I love to see it come to an end.

When We Know We’re Loved

I was driving around town after making pb&j’s with my younger sister. Well, she was driving. I was the DJ. As it always goes!

33b253de3e32ec52cad53056e48fd792f3c69193b2e6f3a0f459c2c234e90fdd.jpg

She turned to me and said, “I hope my future husband loves me as much as you do.” I was immediately flattered and curious all at once. I asked her why that it is.

“You laugh at everything I say [TRUE], always want to spend time with me [TRUE], give me back scratches [TRUE] and now…you’re staring at me and it’s freaking me out [ALSO TRUE].”

Flash forward to the following night when I was reading Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown. I underlined the sentence (and am switching around a few words because the context it was placed in won’t make sense), it is easier to become real when we know we’re loved. Page 110 in my book for anyone who has a copy!

3760c8b4d38784300e9728ba4eb03715.jpg

Flash forward to the following morning when I was at church. I couldn’t stop thinking about how the concept of being so securely loved transforms an individual’s courage to be authentically themselves as if no one was watching. I kneeled before God and knew that I was loved beyond measurement. That reason alone is why I can be and am real in my relationship with Him – the most important relationship in my life that graciously pours into all others.

From my sister who understands how much I love her to my own self who attempts to understand how much my Father loves me, we collectively know that we are loved. We are so so very much so loved.

It is the common desire for all human beings. It alters how free we are. It breaks down our walls. It ceases embarrassment. It stirs up a whole lotta oddness (see #11). It is the reason for confidence. It fuels our passions. It is the driving force for celebrations. It unquestionably changes us or rather, pushes us to grow into our true selves.

93ee5d08c088ee30bd8517df0c1af11e.jpg

A friend who I have no filters around (due to mutual love hehe) recently told me, “there’s a lot of fish in the sea and well…you’re an octopus”. Count that as one of the best compliments I’ve ever received because it affirmed that I must be doing something right toward my goal to chase after greatness, not comfort! But it all comes down to the fact that I know he deeply cares about me and would be by my side at 3am if I was in need at that hour.

For me, striving to be 103% authentic doesn’t start from within. Nor does it stem from outward validation like my octopus-naming friend. It originates from the simple truth that I am fully known and deeply loved by my Creator. And to live without embracing this would break His heart more than I want to think about.

05f314e140c4fcf93dc81072ebda3b4a.jpgLet’s all be octopi or stingrays or pufferfish or whatever creature you so portray. Not because you want to but because that’s what you are. For when we know we are loved, the presence of our originality stirs up a whole lotttta joy.