Saturday, March 26, 2011

Beauty and The Mile High City !!!

Happy Saturday, everyone! It appears that I have taken an unintentional vacation from blogging :). I think it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted! A LOT has been going on! I am currently on a plane from Denver to Detroit (hey Eminem!) and will hopefully be back in Raleigh in a few short hours after a quick layover.

This past week, I had an opportunity to visit Eating Recovery Center in Denver on Thursday and Friday. It was an amazing trip and I’m looking forward to sharing more about my time there very soon! I will say… the staff there is beyond excellent. Four of the leading eating disorder doctors in the world work there (this is no joke), and together make up a pretty powerful team. I absolutely loved my time there, love their approach to treating adolescents and adults with eating disorders, and loved my time in Denver. I even got to see one of my oldest friends, Melissa, who lives in Denver- so, so fun.

I did have something I wanted to share real quick, in going along with my last post- ‘Body Beautiful.’ I watched Glee for the first time ever while I was on my way out to Denver Thursday. I’ve been told I’m a little out of the loop since I’ve never seen an episode so I thought I would take advantage of my time cooped up in a plane to catch up. Because I haven’t seen it before, I can’t really tell you much about where I was in the storyline, who the characters are etc.. But it just so happens that I watched an episode about beauty and weight. Funny, huh? :) The cheerleaders were being weighed like wrestlers, and had to ‘make weight’ in order to cheer at a pep rally or something. Well, this one girl started trying to starve herself so she could make weight. At the end, she realized that the whole thing was not worth her health and well-being, after being miserable and having another girl open up and share her own experiences with unhealthy, disordered eating. It was slightly cheesy and there were a few touchy, unfunny jokes about weight/eating disorders, but the overall message was really important and good. Below is a clip from the episode (wish I could find one that wasn't just the song, but -- I just thought it would be fun to post anyways). Check it out- and don't mind the first few seconds of the clip that are in Spanish and advertising a video game or something :).

I’m going to sign off and catch up on a few things, but I’m excited to share more about my trip to Denver soon! Also, don’t forget about the National Eating Disorders Association Walk happening THIS SUNDAY!!! At Meredith College in Raleigh. If you are interested in participating (or are not able to be there but would like to donate to the cause) follow this link. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Body Beautiful!!

At the risk of going a little overboard, I have to say (again) that I continue to be so inspired by the people that I meet each day. This is probably the third post this month that I have started like this- but I just love meeting people who have vision and who are hopeful about change and making a difference. 

Yesterday (on Pi day of all days), I spoke to 11th and 12th graders (at the North Carolina School of Science and Math)-- and I was a little nervous. I grew up in Chapel Hill, and know the reputation of this government funded school..  kids that attend NCSSM are smart. I'm a smart girl, but my smarts come in a different form than high school physics- haha. Anyways, two students (a male and a female- how awesome!) created a club called the Body Beautiful, and their intention is to raise awareness about eating disorders and to encourage healthy body image. It was so fun meeting two high school students who were doing what they could to raise awareness amongst their peers! What a great reminder that it doesn't matter your age or stage in life... no matter where we are at in our lives, we can all make a difference. 

Consider your spheres of influence. What can you do to make lasting change? You may not feel passionately about body image- you might have a heart to educate people about a particular kind of cancer, perhaps you are passionate about helping the poor, maybe you are interested in helping fight illiteracy. There are so many needs today- and no matter what you are passionate about, I challenge you to consider how you might make an impact- no matter how big or small!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Is Lent the New Fad Diet?

Whether you collected beads at Mardi Gras or don't know what a King Cake is, .... Fat Tuesday has come and gone.. and today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. Regardless of your religious persuasion, I think Lent has become somewhat of a cultural event that many people of all faiths adopt or observe, while not necessarily attaching religious meaning to it. I think in this context, Lent is intended to rid our lives of the distractions or vices that keep us from being able to accomplish healthy goals or be effective. (Of course, in a different context, Lent is a time set aside for quiet reflection and contemplation to reflect on the Passion of the Christ- and in order to do so, we rid ourselves of the things that get in the way of us being able to do that. For more on this, check out an amazing post by Sharon Hodde Miller, a former roommate of mine here.)  Anyways, some people give up facebook for Lent. Others give up coffee, others give up television. There are also those who give up certain foods. Some people give up meat, some people give up chocolate. 

Please hear me when I say that if you choose to give up some kind of food for Lent, that is okay!!! I am not judging you:) But let me also throw something out there for consideration-- it is important to be aware of your motives! Is Lent just an easy way to mask a 40 day diet? When you give up a particular food because it is your 'vice', aren't you essentially saying its bad? I ask this question because I have heard much diet talk surrounding sacrifices for Lent- this year and in years past. I have had a few conversations with some high schoolers this week who have struggled with their peers giving up whole food groups, or fast food for Lent... and are hoping to lose weight as a result. If what you are doing seems more like a diet than an intentional time set aside to contemplate and reflect/work towards accomplishing goals in an undistracted, healthy way, then perhaps you might consider an alternative...  Because you know the truth about diets... And if you don't, read this.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy International Women's Day!!!

Today is International Women's Day, a day set aside to honor women, celebrate them, and celebrate their achievements! What a timely day to conclude my interview with Morgan Siem and Stacey Alexander. If you didn't get a chance to read my last post, check it out here. Morgan and Stacey are shaving their heads to raise money for children's cancer research. In honor of International Women's Day (and a new thing I am going to try to start doing on my blog), I thought that I would try to put the spotlight on women who are truly beautiful-- women that display inner and outer beauty! You can nominate women by emailing me ( I am honored to have Stacey and Morgan be the first two women that serve as true beauty role models. Their compassion for others, their determination and courage to do something tough, and their positive attitudes are all things that make them beautiful! If you didn't get a chance to check out the first part of my interview with these ladies, scroll down to my previous post or follow the link above. For more on ways that you can help them and to hear about their feelings on being bald and beautiful, continue reading below...

Me: I'm a girl, and I know how we girls feel about our hair :) Talk to me about how you two feel about being bald! Are you nervous?? Excited?? 

Stacey: We are both terrified of being bald. I’ve been known for my hair my whole life, since I was a baby and it stood straight up in the air. But we’re more than our hair, and we’re looking forward to overcoming this fear. If we can do this, what else can we do? I know that I go back and forth between excited and terrified. But I know I’ll be glad I did it. And as it grows out, I’ll finally get the chance to try all the funky stuff I’ve wanted to do with my hair but always been afraid to. Like a fauxhawk.

Morgan: Stacey nailed it. I go back and forth between terrified and excited, but I really think this will give me a sense of being able to take on anything! It’s quite empowering to get to a point where you realize that you can do anything – that the ONLY THING that has ever held me back in my entire life has been ME! It’s crazy to think about, but my only obstacle to doing great things in life has been myself and my own fears. So, by taking this on, I’m proving to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. It’s exhilarating. I also feel like I’ll meet a whole new side of myself. I think I’ve hidden behind my hair for years and years, thinking that the way I look defines who I am. For me, having a good hair day was often enough to set my mood & my sense of confidence for the entire day, just like a bad hair day was enough to ruin my mood and self-confidence for a day. Now I get to redefine what’s makes me who I am. It’s not about how I look. It’s about the positive impact I can make on the world.

Me: What has this process impressed upon you about beauty? 

Stacey: I have met a lot of support and a lot of pushback in this process. You’d be surprised at how passionately people feel about the hair on someone else’s head. I know I’ll understand this a whole lot more on April 7th, but we always tell each other that beauty is more than skin deep. Do we really believe it? I really believe it. I also believe that physical beauty is more than hair deep. I don’t think people are going to have to look past her bald head to think Morgan is beautiful. She just is. Her hair is only one part of it.

Morgan: Aw, Stacey, you’re amazing, and I think the same about you. The way I see it, there’s no way possible for someone to meet Stacey and not be struck with the obvious fact that she’s stunningly beautiful. Yes, she has beautiful hair, but she radiates beauty in a way that goes so far beyond her looks. This is a test for me to prove that beauty is within AND that beauty is not based on society’s definition of what a ‘normal’ girl should look like. I get to set the rules for myself of what makes me beautiful.

Me: How can people support you all in your efforts??

Morgan: EVERY SINGLE BIT of support counts and means the world to us! We are trying to raise an astronomical amount of money and would LOVE donations, whatever amount you can do on our team page, Please consider donating, even if it’s only a few dollars! Also, a great thing to remember is that a lot of companies will match charitable gifts, so if you work for a company, you can ask them if they’ll donate as well. Most will say yes.

We are also incredibly thankful for people who can help spread the word. Readers would be soooo powerful if they’d each ask 5 people they know to help us out. Or, send a tweet about it and post it to Facebook. There are so many ways readers can help!

Another powerful way to help is to write comments on our blog post about what this means to you. It really helps us to keep the motivation up when we see what this means to people. Tell us what it means to you! Here’s the post:

Some other ways to help are if you have things that can be used for raffles. Maybe you know a company that can offer a gift card?

Finally, we’d looove to meet people in person if they’re in the Raleigh area. We’re hosting a fundraising event with awesome live music and raffles on March 12 at Isaac Hunter’s Oak City Tavern from 6pm-10pm. (follow this link for more info).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beauty is More Than Skin (or Hair!!) Deep...

In my last post, I mentioned that I have been overwhelmed with how much I have to be thankful for in life. One thing that I am especially thankful for is the opportunity to meet new people, work with brave and interesting people, and spend time with fun and loving people-- all of whom inspire me infinitely. This week, I received an email from a friend, Sara Rose Roman, who is extremely passionate about volunteering and helping others, and who launched a young adult volunteer organization in Raleigh called Change the Triangle. (As an aside- you should totally check out her website by following the link above or by clicking here to find out how to get involved in participating in a monthly volunteer event, coupled with a social event as well- it's a great group!) Anyways, Sara introduced me via email- gotta love social networking!- to Stacey Alexander and Morgan Siem, two women who are doing some incredible things. You may have read about them in the News and Observer (here) but these girls are teaming up to raise $100,000 for kid's cancer research. Amazing, right?!

So how exactly are they planning to raise all of this money? By participating in St. Baldricks... and shaving their heads on April 7th!! They are going totally bald!! So, what is St. Baldricks?? "The St. Baldricks Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives." I am really inspired by the commitment that these ladies have made in order to raise funds and awareness for something that they feel so passionate about!! We could all learn a few things from their determination and courage!! 

If you read my blog, you know that I usually write about topics related to body image, beauty, the media and eating disorders. While I have been so impressed by both Stacey and Morgan's commitment to help raise money for cancer research, I have been equally impressed by their boldness in doing something unconventional (shaving their heads!!) for the sake of others. I often urge people to consider what true beauty looks like- and these girls are a great example!! I want to be clear too that they aren't examples of true beauty simply because they are shaving their heads. Going without makeup, shaving your head, not shaving your legs, etc... doing these things just to be unconventional isn't what true beauty is about either. Stacey and Morgan are not being bound by conventional standards of beauty in their goal to help others, and in so doing, are showing character that is soo beautiful! I wanted to share their story, and I also wanted to ask them about their decision to shave their heads.. and how they feel about going bald for charity. I will be doing a follow-up post in April after they shave their heads- so be on the lookout for that! If you have any questions or comments for the girls, please feel free to leave them below in the 'comments' section!

Below is part I of my Q&A- due to the length, I will post just the first part and then will follow up with the conclusion of the interview in another day or two. The second part will address beauty, how you can support these lovely ladies, and an exciting announcement. Check back soon. 

Me: How did you two to decide to do this?! 

Stacey: It’s actually a pretty funny story. The guys of our office participated in St. Baldrick’s last year, and were all planning on doing it again this year. And a couple of weeks ago, we were in our staff meeting and talking about St. Baldrick’s coming up. And one of our co-workers, Phil, told everyone I was doing it (although I had no intention of doing it at the time). Then everyone was jokingly telling me how awesome it was. The next day, I was considering it—because I so want to be that girl that will shave her head for children’s cancer research—but was completely terrified by the idea. That’s when Phil  told me Morgan was doing it, to which she replied, “Yeah I’ll go right after Stacey.” She had no idea I was seriously considering it. That night we each stayed up trying to figure out how to convince the other to do it!

Morgan: For me, this decision came as part of a rebranding of myself. I think that for so long I’ve played small. I’ve made choices for myself based on fear of what others might think, or how others will view me or what’s “normal.” I always thought of myself as fairly brave and independent, but I realized how false that was when I listened to what my inner voice was saying in response to the ‘joke’ that I was going to shave my head. My inner voice said, “You can’t do that. That’s crazy. What will people think? You’ll look ugly. Your clients won’t take you seriously. Guys won’t find it attractive… and so on and so forth.” Then, I caught myself listening to that inner voice and thought, “Shut it! I’m throwing that kind of ‘small’ thinking out the window right this instant. I’m going to make decisions based on what I believe is the right thing to do, not based on what I think others’ reactions will be.” The only reason I had the courage to change my thinking was that I saw something in Stacey’s face that said, “I might actually be serious about this…” It was one of the bravest things I could imagine and it struck a chord in me. I realized that we really were standing at an intersection where we had an enormous opportunity to make a real difference in the world. I knew that I had the option to either ignore the opportunity, and continue to live small and be ‘normal’ and fit in OR, I could test the limits of my own bravery to really make an impact in the world – one that is connected to a cause that is incredibly important to me.

Me: This is such a courageous thing that you all are doing! Do you have any fear about it? 

Stacey: I found this great quote, “Your decisions are based on either fear or love.” I decided that not doing it would be out of fear, and doing it would be out of love for the children with cancer who don’t get to choose to be bald. I want them to know that they are still beautiful, even without their hair. I want people to know that this is a serious thing, children’s cancer. It kills more children in the US than any other disease. It’s a big deal. So I’m doing something big.

Morgan: I used to make choices based on what I was afraid people might think. In other words, I almost didn’t do this because I was afraid of what my mom would say and think. I was so afraid she’d be upset with me that I almost didn’t do it. What I know now is that that was a completely unfair assessment. If I never went for it, I wouldn’t even be giving her the opportunity to have her own reaction – I was making up her reaction for her! Turns out, she is completely supportive and has said how brave she thinks it is an how proud of me she is. It was a huge learning for me to realize how supportive people can be if you give them that chance. I’m now living in the reality of her response rather than in the “what if” of her response.

Check back soon for the remainder of the conversation- the girls will be answering questions surrounding beauty and baldness :):). I will also be sharing with you ways that you can support them! Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I have been thinking a lot about gratitude these last few weeks. I feel so inspired lately by all of the different people that I come into contact with in my life, and have been so thankful for the people that I work with, have fun with, laugh with ... everyday. Not to say that life is all rainbows and flowers, but I have noticed that trying to live with an attitude of thankfulness has the ability to drastically alter perspective (in a good way, of course!). The cool thing is that there is always something to be thankful for! That is what this picture reminds me of- to be thankful! Hope it serves as a good reminder to you, too :) 

Also, I am really excited to share an interview/post with you in the next day or two about two girls in Raleigh who are doing some very exciting things-- they will inspire you and will serve to reinforce this theme of thankfulness and gratitude. Happy Wednesday, everyone!