When you look, what do you see?

My friend and colleague, Mark Goblowsky recently started an amazing project, his Podcast, Strength Through Struggle. He has interviewed some great people and I was honored and fortunate enough to be interviewed this week.

In his show, he asks about struggles you have experienced and how you have grown as a result of them. I know this because I have listened to every episode - and I highly recommend subscribing (and rating and reviewing) his show!. So, I thought I was prepared to talk about some of my life's struggles and how they have made me, ME.

Boy, was I in for an awakening...

While many of you may have similar experiences, each of our stories are unique to us. But even though I knew that in my mind, I still didn't really think my struggles were much to talk about.

I experienced bullying in middle school. It sucked and kids can be very mean. I dreaded the playground our outdoors for recess because that is where I lost the safety of the classroom. That is where a bulk of the bullying occurred. So, I would ask the teachers if I could help out during recess. In my mind, this saved me from the playground but it added fuel to the bully's fire because now, not only did they call me fat, ugly and stupid but I was also a brown-nose. Not the best move...

And to add fuel to that fire, I lost my aunt to suicide when I was 12. She and I had a bond because we were both odd-balls in our own right - and we understood each other. She was such a rock for me - and that loss really threw me for a loop. So, I didn't play sports as much, ate more junk food and proceeded to be 5'2" and weight 180 lbs. So, I really was fat...

Fast forward a few years into high school. New school. Fresh start. I got back into sports, grew 6 inches, lost 50lbs and all of a sudden I felt accepted. But I proceeded to take that acceptance to a dangerous level by becoming anorexic, being 5'8" and getting down to 108 lbs. My liver was in danger of failing and my kidneys weren't doing that well either. I was faced with the choice of being admitted into a treatment program or go home and take care of myself. I chose to go home and take care of myself, getting healthy again.

So, during this conversation I realized that during my life, I had morphed my body into different shapes to deal with my situations. Which was a great realization - one I hadn't come to before.

But the heavy hitter came when Mark asked me a simple question:

"When you look in the mirror, what do you see?"

I was literally stopped in my tracks. You see, I don't look in mirrors.

Yes, they are there when I dry my hair, brush my teeth, etc. but I don't stop to really look in the mirror. It's like scales - I don't ever weigh myself. When I was pregnant I would step onto the scale backward and tell my midwife - I don't want to know the number - just let me know if I'm healthy. As a side note, she shared with me that I gained 50 lbs with each child...!

During my conversation with Mark, I shared that the voices saying I'm fat and ugly and stupid and those that say I need to be perfect still come to life. While their volume and frequency have greatly decreased, they are still there.

But what I had never connected is when I look into the mirror, I'm afraid that if I look too long, I might believe those voices that say:

"You're fat"

"You're ugly"

"You don't deserve this"

"Who do you think you are?"

That hit me hard...really hard...

Here I am working with adult and young women, helping them to discover and give voice to their truest, best self - and I can't even look into a mirror??

So, I took my own challenge. This morning, I looked into the mirror, I mean really looked and stayed there even though it felt uncomfortable at first and you know what I saw?

A woman who is:

  • Strong
  • Smart
  • Beautiful
  • Loving
  • Passionate
  • Bold
  • A mom and wife and so proud
  • A writer and author
  • A coach and mentor and teacher
  • A life-long learner
  • Ready to really take on, embrace and share the Living Intentionally movement!

When you look into the mirror, what do you see?