I’ve contacted Geneen Roth and Kris Carr recently to help me raise awareness on emotional eating. Neither one was on board.
It seems to me we’re living in this world where other people’s problems are the money makers. If the problems are eliminated, there’s no more projects needed to fix them. And that’s when things go out of business.
Since I don’t make any money off other people’s problems, and I am an emotional eater myself, I decided to step up and say something.
Am I qualified to say anything about emotional eating? After all, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a psychologist. But I did live it. And I think in this case, first hand experience is all the education I need to speak up about it.
Emotional eating and food addiction are often directly intertwined. An addiction is something most people use to fill a void. Where they feel lost, overwhelmed, depressed, angry, or confused, alcohol, drugs, and sex can temporarily erase those feelings. An addiction can numb us for a brief time, but the pain always comes back, and this is how addiction becomes a painstaking cycle of abuse.
Food addiction is much the same, only it’s the fuel for our bodies, and creates a gray area that no one is talking about. No one can give up food cold turkey, and this is where the problem lies when seeking therapy.
Emotional eating falls into that food addiction gray area for the same reasons. For me, emotional eating came through at any time I didn’t know what to do. If I was waiting for the next audition, or I had a day off, or I got cut from work early – I would eat. You know how they say in all the fitness magazines that most people eat out of boredom instead of hunger? Well for once, they’re right. But for me the boredom was an overwhelming feeling of not knowing what to do next. Eating was the catalyst that would get me from one event to another. I ate to fill the void of confusion inside.
Emotional eating is perpetuated by the media all the time. I remember watching Knocked Up and longing to break up with my boyfriend just so I had an excuse to sit in bed with my bestie and slurp up melted Ben & Jerry’s. We see it in movies, we see it on Friends. We see it in magazines. A recent ad for Lindor Truffles (in a fitness magazine, mind you) said: “Feel the day melt away. When you need to escape from a busy day, take a moment to relax and indulge in a delightfully delicious Lindor Truffle.”
Right there is the trigger. “Escape”. That’s what emotional eating is. It’s a temporary escape from the emotions wreaking havoc on our lives. It’s an escape from reality, from the issues we don’t want to touch today, from society’s pressures to be perfect.
Because in a way, emotional eating is a protective bubble. Both women and men have told me that they are terrified to address the emotional eating or their food addiction because they’d lose all their self-depricating humor. They’ve also expressed to me that something happened in their younger years that makes them want to protect themselves with “a layer of fat” or “an unhealthy look” so that no one feels the need to abuse or harrass them ever again. All of those things are natural for a traumatized person to feel. And using to food to comfort or protect is something that no one seems to want to diagnose. Obesity, unhealthy habits, and “lazy” are all diagnoses that seem to come a lot easier to doctors, nutritionists, and the average judgemental human being.
Because of those very popular diagnosies, seeking help for an eating disorder has an extra negative glow around it. For me, addressing my problem with professional help meant so many things. It was a bittersweet event where I could no longer hide behind my crazy little secret. It was sick and sad how much I wished I could go back to eating a jar of Nutella without being aware of why I was eating it. It was terrifying to enter into a recovery where I could no longer joke about my bingeing, my yo-yo dieting, my obsession with chocolate.
There are still days where I almost wish I could go back to that world of unawareness. Where food was comfort and it was always waiting at every bodega in New York City. My emotional eating habit gave me an excuse to leave parties, an excuse to skip auditions, an excuse to feel sorry for myself. Now that I’m in recovery, there are days that are so hard – so hard to accept my body the way it is because I’m not starving it every other day – that I just want to go back to bed cuddling my half gallon of mint chocolate chip.
But then there are the good days, where I can write about it. Raise awareness about it. Bring women out of the dark so that they know there’s nothing wrong with them. They didn’t mess up. They aren’t failures. They have an issue that no one has taken the time to talk to them about, because no one is talking about it.
So let’s talk about it. Let’s. Talk. About. It. Let’s talk about the money spent. Let’s talk about the possessed binges. Let’s talk about the depression. Let’s shed some bright ass light on emotional eating and speak up for those who don’t have any idea there is an answer.
As an emotional eater, I spent $40,000 on food in the past three years. I wouldn’t bring ice cream into the house because I was always on Weight Watchers or some heavily restrictive diet, so I would spend $9 on Pinkberry while I was out and about. I would eat two dinners, or three breakfasts, or order dessert twice. And of course as you and I both know, Nutella is very expensive.
On top of that, I spent over $10,000 on personal trainers, fitness programs, gym memberships, Weight Watcher memberships, and fitness magazines just in the span of 2011 and 2012.
I was the diet and fitness industry’s wet dream. I had no idea what drove me to do all those things other than the fact that I was sure I was a failure, destined to yo-yo and struggle for the rest of my life, and I thought my life’s purpose was to master those things. My to-do lists read “get back to goal weight” and “just count your points Amanda, just do it”.
Weight Watchers, Women’s Health, Equinox Fitness personal trainers – not a single one ever talks about the possibility of eating disorders or body dysmorphia in all the hype they’re putting out. So how was I to know?
A friend finally called me out. Yep. A friend. My personal trainer never said a word, nor did the nutritionist I was working with. But my friend noticed right away after living with me for a month. She handed me When Food Is Love and said, “I think you need to read this when you have a chance and also I love you and you are worth more than you’re weight and your resume.”
Self-help books and therapy became my lifesaving devices for the next year, and still are to this day. My therapist works with me on overcoming the bittersweetness of recovery and the fact that I’m 180 pounds but healthy and sane and how to be thankful for that.
Let’s be honest. Seeking help for binge-eating and food addiction is scary and overwhelming. But you need to know a few things. You are not alone. You have done nothing wrong. You deserve a second chance at a life that isn’t run by guilt, calories, or compulsive eating. And although being patient sucks, it will pay off in the end.
If you feel lost and food makes you feel found, or if you know a friend who seeks comfort in food, help is out there. There are books (I recommend Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing From Addiction and When Food Is Love to start) and there are eating disorder hotlines (National Eating Disorder Association: 1-800-931-2237) and there are therapists and experts specifically for eating disorders and emotional eating. They are few, but they are mighty.
If you are in recovery, you can find some tips on dealing with friends, significant others, and your new healthy body in the mirror here.
Emotional eating has been sitting in a dark corner waiting to be introduced for far too long. I see the money making strategies, and I raise them awareness and power to the people who want their lives back. It’s time to talk about it. It’s time.
Aloha dear reader,
This morning I went to pick a ripe papaya off the tree that stands outside my front door. See, yesterday as I left for work, I noticed the beautiful orange hue of the fruit standing out against all the other unripened green buds on the tree and vowed to pick it this morning to have over my yogurt. Turns out, I waited too long and someone else had my breakfast first. The birds are munching on the pink flesh right outside my kitchen window as I type this to you, and I’m stuck with my plain yogurt sans the strawberry papaya I was so excited about when I woke up.
I’ve had this happen before, you know, only it wasn’t just a beautiful papaya. It was my life.
I’ve been letting life pass me by since I was nineteen years old. Some mornings, I would sleep in so long that I had breakfast at 6pm. Some days, I watched NCIS marathons for so many hours that I never put clothes on or left the house. Some days I was out the door by 6am, but bingeing on a pizza and a roll of peanut butter cookie dough by 2pm, after being cut from an audition. I was living a life based on events – if I didn’t have an event or a date that day, the day was wasted as I waited for the next big event to come along.
I never planned vacations. What if I missed something in my world of show business and networking?
I missed four weddings in the span of two years out of fear of missing out. What if I had a callback for a summer theatre production that would pay me $300 a week?
I left OkCupid dates hanging until the last minute to see if I had a dance class to attend with an important choreographer. I bailed on friends if an important workshop with an agent came up. I skipped birthday parties and goodbye parties just in case I had an event the next morning and needed beauty sleep.
But in the meantime? In the middle of the possible events that would arise? I would do nothing. Well, not nothing. I would alternate between sleeping, bingeing, and hating myself. So I mean, I was actually pretty busy.
Point being, I was never the girl that would pick up for the weekend and say, fuck this noise, I need a break in the Hamptons for a few days, much less would I ever book a flight to somewhere beautiful or tropical or relaxing. I was too afraid to miss a fart in New York City – land of the theatre district where life needed to be.
I would see Facebook posts about my friends going away to Europe for two weeks, or Hawaii for a week in primetime audition season and think, they must be crazy going off and living their life like that! They’re missing so many auditions! They won’t book anything for the summer and all they’ll have is their tan and their happiness and their photos with piña coladas and that’s no life!
Oh my God you guys, I was so deranged.
I didn’t know what living was until I fell hard, flat on my face, in this land called Rock Bottom. Most everyone’s been there, or feels like they’re on their way there at some point in their life. And what I wish for you, is to see that place someday. I wish it for everyone, I do. I don’t want you to stay or get comfortable there, but to see it, is a great privilege. To know that it’s there, is a blessing.
Why?! Because rock bottom can be, and has been, the foundation for which I built my life. And I know that it’s been a foundation for many others in this world as well. Knowing that it’s always there waiting to welcome me back with a bed of rock and a sky of gray, is sometimes all the jolt I need to get moving or take care of myself even when it feels like the hardest task.
Whatever I was doing prior to landing face first in the stank that is Rock Bottom, was not living. It was surviving. It was passing. It was skimming.
I didn’t know that my career, or men, or my weight, was not what my life’s purpose is, until I lost all of those things and didn’t have a one to distract me.
My days of living event to event were no longer – because there were no more events. There was just me, sitting on my couch, calling an eating disorder clinic, and reading self-help books, grasping at straws wondering where the hell I was supposed to go next.
And that’s when Kalani Oceanside Retreat showed up in my Google search.
You know how it goes. One minute you’re watching a kitten fall off a kitchen counter and the next minute you’re clicking on a Nikki Minaj video and the next minute you’re reading an article about UFO’s over New Zealand. Click after click after click of distracting internet braincell killers and the next thing you know you come across some yoga retreat in the middle of the jungle in Hawaii.
Holy shit it was beautiful. There were palm trees. There were smiling people in sarongs and sun hats. There was pineapple. The picture on the homepage was a fucking rainbow.
I felt drawn to keep clicking within the Kalani site. Workshops and hula classes and day trips and wait, what’s that….is that a…..volunteer link?
I’m not really the volunteer type. Like, I’ma need you to pay me for all that cat-sitting, sister.
Wait, you work on the campus and get all your housing, meals, pool, yoga, spa and geckos for free? I’m so overwhelmed.
I click on “apply”. Someone up above officially has control over my fingertips as I scroll through the application and start entering my information.
“Are you mentally stable?”, the application asks. “How would you benefit from three months at Kalani? Are you willing to contribute to your fellow ohana and spread the aloha spirit?”
Mmmmm so many questions that I don’t know if I can answer honestly right nowwwwwwww.
Plus, why do I deserve to go to Hawaii? I’ve always said I’ll wait for my honeymoon to go to Hawaii. It will be so romantic. And since I have a ring on my finger and I’m getting married in 67 days at Galapagos Space in Brooklyn to the love of my life, I’ll be in Hawaii sooner than I know it.
Oh wait. Oh, wait, right, I’m not even dating anyone right now because the last guy I dated ripped out my heart and tap danced on it on the corner of Thompson and West 3rd.
I guess it wouldn’t kill me to go to Hawaii a little sooner than planned. I mean, maybe I’ll meet a yoga daddy with big muscles at Kalani and we’ll get matching tattoos of sea turtles or something and I won’t even need a honeymoon.
Receive phone interview request.
Confirm phone interview.
Proceed with hour phone interview with an actor named Sam from London who is the volunteer coordinator who gets me so hard it’s like we were born of the same brain.
Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to the Kalani Volunteer program.
We will see you on August 1st. Bring bug spray.
That was 2013 y’all.
It’s now August 2014 and my life has taken these crazy, leopard print, masking taped, roaring turns that has landed me here – talking to you.
Inviting you to join me.
Just like the birds got the papaya before me because I didn’t take two minutes to pick it yesterday before speeding off to work, I don’t want a man, or a job, or an event, to get in the way of your Hawaii trip before it’s too late.
What if there never is a reason to come to Hawaii? What if there never is a honeymoon, or your spouse wants to go to Alaska instead? What if you never have the money for the flight? What if what if what if what if what if what if what if?
There will always be a what if. There will always be a reason not to say yes. There will always be a voice telling you that you do not deserve a trip to a beautiful place.
Until you shut it up.
I want to help you shut it up. I want to convince you that you deserve all the riches and all the papayas and all the body love and all the beauty in the world. I want to bring you to a safe and healing place where you can cultivate self-love, intuition, and your inner roar.
And I want that place to be Hawaii. Because it’s where I found my Roar, and it’s where you will find yours.
I have no doubt in my mind that you belong here with me picking papayas before the pesky birds step on your breakfast. All I need you to do, is believe that you belong here too.
Believe that it’s meant to be, and the flight will come. The money will come. The time off work will come. The trip can happen.
Everything you need for this dream to become a reality is inside you. You manifest what you need when you are fully committed to needing and wanting it, and not taking no for an answer.
I promise you, we will be shaking and sweating and sharing in the jungle together at some point in your life.
Whether it’s at the upcoming retreat in January 2015 or it’s in August 2018 – five years after I found my inner roar at Kalani – we will toast with a coconut water and thank ourselves for giving ourselves the gift of peace, nature, and dancing in the jungle – possibly naked and even more possibly in the cleanest rain on earth.
I invite you to open your heart and check out some itinerary, some pictures, and some answers at www.restoreyourroar.com where Olivia and I are waiting for your loud and proud “YES I WANT SOME OF THIS” whenever you are ready.
And go ahead and tell me below in the comments, what have YOU been waiting to do all your life that (hopefully) you now realize you can totally do by yourself, right now, without a honeymoon or a reason to do it? I want to hear about YOUR dreams so that I can keep them in my prayers and remind you in six weeks to get a flight-checkin’ and a bag-packin’.
Aloha from Hawaii, and see you soon,
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!
So here’s the thing about eating disorder recovery.
It is so freaking hard to write about.
I’ve started out posts multiple times with some tips or some techniques I’ve learned but then I realize that it’s impossible to describe how I’ve implemented them into my life because some of them have only worked once and some of them work always but I ignore them on purpose because I’m kind of messed up in the head like that and I don’t want to lead anyone astray.
But now I’m just kind of like, fuck it.
As long as you know that the information below is only my personal experience, and I’m certainly no doctah, and what you read could also trigger you into a binge or a relapse, then I’ll write it. Read at your discretion and know that I’m not here with any concrete answers, only the things that have worked for moi.
So here goes.
First of all – let me just fill you in on what I’m actually recovering from. I started secretly bingeing at age fifteen. I hit puberty at age fourteen on a family cruise to Alaska where I was too afraid to try tampons and thus spent the entire week staying out of the hot tub. It was fantastic.
At fifteen, I was no longer wearing cute little size three flares and tube tops from Wal-mart. I ballooned to a size nine within minutes it seemed. My dance teacher was less than thrilled with my “pooch pouch” that was forming below my belly button because it meant that two piece costumes at competition were out of the question. While the older girls in class were still able to wear low-cut jazz pants and sports bras to class, I was stuffing myself into leotards and covering them up with jazz pants and then another shirt on top of that. I guess “thick” would be a good word to describe my fifteen-year-old self. Dancing twenty hours a week in front of mirrors made it impossible for me to deny that that my body was changing rapidly.
I was just so sad that this was all happening. I didn’t know what to do about my expanding hips and my soft back fat and my stretch marked thighs, so I ate to forget. My parents would leave me home alone because I was old enough and I would eat all the Ritz crackers with jelly. All the chocolate peanut butter chips – straight from the bag. All the cheese, all the ice cream, all the pickles. Oh my God and the Better Cheddars. We were ALWAYS out of Better Cheddars. Sorry.
Take this story all over the east coast – from Pennsylvania to Virginia (college) to New York City (auditioning) to New Jersey (boyfriend) to Hilton Head (performing job) to Albany to Fort Lauderdale and all the way back to Washington Heights, NYC where everything came crashing down around me, finally, a decade after I first learned how to eat myself into a coma.
I came to find that I was an emotional eater. A compulsive eater. A secret eater. A food addict. And an extremely disordered eating female with depression and anxiety and no way to get help through my measly health insurance.
And through reading and my own tweaks and my own journaling, this is what I’ve learned.
- I have to keep all the food in the house. Fuck this Weight Watchers “keep your environment safe” bullshit. I need to have the Nutella and the ice cream and the cheese and the pesto and the cookies and the pizza and the beer in the house. For ten years I kept it all OUT of the house and spent nearly $40,000 on binges where I’d go and get it anyway, bring it in, eat it all up, and throw the containers in the garbage outside so that in my mind I could say “it was never inside”. For me to feel safe, I need all of it IN my environment. Now when I started doing this, yea, the ice cream disappeared within hours. But a month into it, I kept a carton of cookies ‘n’ cream in the house for an entire two weeks. Six months later, and I kept it in the freezer so long I forgot about it (community housing – it got hidden behind everyone else’s stuff and I totally forgot it was there). A year later, and I can bring multiple flavors into the house and they can be in there anywhere between one day and one month. It depends on my PMS and how hot it is outside, but it no longer scares me to have it in there. I need to know it’s there for my convenience at any time, and all of a sudden, it doesn’t consume my thoughts anymore. Hence why we’ve had two monstrous containers of Nutella from Costco in our pantry for over a month and I’ve only eaten an eighth of one jar. (I was going to show a picture but HELLO triggers – not appropriate today.)
- When I’m hungry, I need to eat NOW. I spent ten years ignoring hunger signals and only eating carbs for breakfast but never dinner and always before 7pm and every three hours and not at all and counting points and when I finally hit that rock bottom, I learned to listen to my body. My beautiful intuitive body that I never gave any credit to. My body tells me when I’m hungry and I listen now. It took me a year to figure out exactly what those signals are – the hunger signals and the full signals and the “i need protein” signals – but it was worth all the listening because I’m not one of those people that wakes up every day at the same time and can eat oatmeal for breakfast for the rest of my life. I need change and I need options and I need to eat when my body is ready – not before or after. Diets never taught me any of these things, and it was only after I stopped dieting that I could really spend time with my own body and learn the way it speaks. And it took me A YEAR y’all. As in, TWELVE MONTHS. As in, A WHILE. It did not, I repeat, IT DID NOT happen overnight.
- Oh my God the triggers. None of this “Healthy is the new skinny” shit on Facebook and no recipes. Nooooo recipes. No Women’s Health, no Glamour, no Cosmo. Twitter is a constant trigger no matter who I unfollow so I just stay off it altogether unless I post. Facebook has a mind of it’s own so I choose to follow Astrology writers and Ram Dass and “I Fucking Love Science” instead of all this Mind Body Green shit. I can’t see lists of things to eat and things not to eat and not be triggered. Know your triggers. Does seeing a list of things to do with chia seeds trigger you? Unfollow. Do ads for beer or weight loss or life coaching trigger you? Unfollow. Unfriend. Unlike. Immediately. Like it or not, social media is a humungous part of our lives. It’s how I’ve reached all of you. Thank God. I fucking love you and would not trade this for the world. But know your triggers – even if it’s me and my page – and cut them out.
- Friendship/Significant Others/Family: Be straight up. Don’t tiptoe. This might not be your style, so perhaps emailing them one of these articles could be helpful as well.*
Table for Three: You, Me and My Eating Disorder (a straight up guide for friends and loved ones)
Tips for Family (from the Renfrew site)
*There are many many many like TOO MANY articles on how to stage an intervention and how to try to get help for a person with an eating disorder but not nearly enough articles on what to do once they are in recovery and are seeking help. Especially for significant others. This is something I am determined to work on and will post as soon as it comes. If you know of one, please post it in the comments below so we can spread it far and wide. Mahalo.
With friends, family, and loved ones, do not be afraid to tell them exactly what you need. My family, well, those who understand anyway (grandparents don’t count – they forget and they don’t understand and they really just want to “fatten” us all up with cookies and how can you get mad at that?), knows to not say a word about my eating choices. When I eat, what I eat, and how I eat it (yes, mom, sometimes I wrap cheese around a pickle like a pregnant woman and put sriracha on it and I don’t even have an answer for why) is off the table for comments. It took them a few years to fully commit to this but this summer with my seven weeks home really helped them understand. Not eating at dinner because I’m not hungry? Sorry mom, that pasta looks delicous, but I might not be ready to eat it til 9pm tonight when you’ve already cleaned up. And I say, that’s okay because of where I’m at on my journey.
When it comes to loved ones, ask and you shall receive, for the most part. My mom was amazing and understanding and never once pushed me this summer when I ate at weird times with weird condiments. My dad is still learning, but he’ll get there and he’s aware and that’s what matters. Talk to your friends and your cousins and your girlfriend and your hubby and be as straight up as possible.
“I need to keep this nine dollar jar of organic pecan butter in the house and I need you to not comment on it’s price, it’s size, or it’s taste. It is my choice right now and it’s part of my recovery and I need you to support me.”
“I need you to pick the place for dinner tonight, and if you say it and I wrinkle up my nose because it doesn’t sound good to me, I need you to not get frustrated. I realize that I am frustrating you but I am not in a place to make decisions because I don’t know what I want and I would really appreciate your patience in this decision making process tonight.”
Okay, whatever it is, there is no harm in asking. And if your friend/boy/mom can’t understand why this is, I ask you to also be patient with them. They may accidentally make a judgemental face that they have no control over when they see you pouring animal crackers on top of a bowl of ice cream and they may accidentally ask you why you need to order pizza AND pasta AND salad AND dessert and the more patient you are with them, the more patient they will get with you. It’s a give give situation here. No one is perfect and this is a touchy subject that needs care and compassion from all sides – including yours.
5. Know your other “vices”. Cigarettes and TV are mine. When I am emotional and want to binge, I don’t reach for the beer so much as I crave a smoke and an SVU marathon. And you know what, I fully accept that laying on the couch on a beautiful beach day and choosing Olivia and Elliot over the sunshine is absolutely part of my healing process and a choice that I make when I don’t have the energy to go live life in the sand today. It’s a distraction, it’s a simple comfort, but you know what? It’s not a jar of Nutella and as long as I’m aware of it, I carry on with my marathon and do my best to forgive myself. The cigarettes – not so much, because I’m a role model for my students and I had such a hard time quitting that buying a pack would just send me into hardcore reverse. But occasionally I’ll bum one and feel satisfied and I do my best not to feel shitty about that too. I’m in recovery from an addictive habit – and most disordered eating is addictive if you really think about it – so knowing what you are using instead of eating/refraining from eating as your new vice is super crucial to your recovery and a healthy life. Forgive yourself for the replacements and give yourself a little credit for being aware and just do your best today. That’s all you, or anyone else, can ask for.
6. Therapy. Finding a therapist isn’t easy. Depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to have an eating disorder clinic in your area that offers outpatient therapy. If you’re not so lucky, and you live in Hawaii like me and there is absolutely NOTHING pertaining to eating disorders at all (on the Big Island anyway), ask your health care provider for a list of counselors in your community and buck up and give them a call. I called around today, yes literally today before typing this up, and talked to some “therapists” that didn’t even ask my full name or what I was looking to get out of counseling. NEXT PLEASE. Then, when I was about to give up, I called a woman that has a PhD and asked appropriate questions and has already sent me forms to fill out so I can show up and just have a relaxing appointment. Shopping around is clutch – it’s like finding an agent as an actress – they are working for you, not the other way around. Trying them on for size takes time and is a real pain in the ass, but at the end, the payoff is something healthy for YOU. You get to take away the benefits of therapy and apply it towards a happier healthier life.
Holy shit, my arm hurts from typing this so fast. But you know, it’s been calling to be written for months now and I can’t keep putting it off until I find the right pictures or the right title or the right statistics to offer you. Please, for the love of all things healthy, pick up a copy of When Food is Love by Geneen Roth and allow yourself to become aware of your patterns. Or start from the very beginning and find solace in others like you in Feeding The Hungry Heart. I don’t love Geneen so much anymore because she charges you for everything and doesn’t really like to communicate with her fans but you know what the bitch can write and she writes it all and she helped me and I can’t deny that for a second.
Body love is a whole nother topic in this whole recovery thing and I’ll be on it very soon. It’s actually a huge gigantic amazing fabulous component that deserves a post all of its own.
I hope this list helps and I hope you find something here that sheds some light. Share it with someone who needs it. Print it out and put it in an inspiring place. YOU CAN DO THIS. I HAVE FAITH IN YOU. YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU REALIZE. YOUR LIFE IS YOURS AND YOURS ALONE. I AM YELLING AND I AM SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I BELIEVE ALL THESE THINGS TO BE TRUE. YOU ARE FUCKING AMAZING AND YOU DESERVE RECOVERY AND THERAPY AND LIGHT AND BREATH AND SANITY AND FEELINGS OF SAFETY AND CONTENT.
AND, last but not least, you know you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and concerns.
All my love and support and congratulations for being open to help and doing what you can to recover -
I have never been proud to be a woman.
I grew up in a family of farmers, cowboys, and lawnmower salesmen. My aunt is a star mechanic. My cousin Amy won more rodeo championships than anyone I know. Girls and boys were never separated in the Trusty activities – we all rode horses, forewheelers, and sleds together. My snowsuit was never purple or pink. My riding boots were brown just like my boy cousins’. I know what sparkplugs are. I mean we were just never told any different.
So I don’t know that I ever cared about being a girl.
I’ve never thought about it really – I just continued to participate in activities without realizing being a girl is bad or good or even all that different. I wasn’t aware that it was a big deal.
Years later, I still have moments where I don’t realize I’m a woman until I’m riding behind my man on the moped and my boobs hit his back at a stop sign before the rest of me does, as ignorant as that sounds, it’s true – sometimes it really does take me by surprise. And of course on my yearly gynecological visit, I have a very ridiculous moment where I realize I am part of the only gender that ever goes to such a doctor and experiences the annual duckbill party. But other than that, in my brief lifespan, I haven’t given much thought to the fact that I’m a woman.
I know that this makes me sooooooo not a feminist.
But does it really?
I’ve lived my whole life thinking that I’m an equal human being.
I pursued dance, which I suppose is often considered a “girl’s thing”, because my mom put me in dance at age
three. My first leotard was royal blue. I had a good memory and I was well-behaved and I continued to progress each year because I had a sensible attention span. I played soccer during this time, which was more of a “boy’s thing” I guess. I hated the running, but loved the oranges at half-time and adored being part of a team. At age nine, we moved to a different dance studio and someone saw potential in me and by age twelve I was competing with dance and no longer playing soccer and I don’t know that I ever did not want to dance, but I
don’t know that at age twelve I was obsessed with it either. It was just what I was doing and I did not hate it and so it all just kept happening.
Again, I was not aware that I was a “dancer”. I just identified as a human being who went to school, rode horses, played with cows on the weekends, and also flap ball-changed in mascara and purple sequins sometimes. Grounds for teasing of course, being a “farmgirl” and a “girly dancer”, but I guess I didn’t realize that teasing wasn’t a normal thing at that age – I thought everyone got teased at school.
By age thirteen I was auditioning for the school musical because that’s what other dancers at my dance studio were doing and because why wouldn’t I if I totally sang in church from age four to four and a half, said my mom. In no time, I was being fitted for a Hot Box Girl costume. There were approximately 97 hot box girls on stage in Southern Junior High’s production of Guys & Dolls, Jr. Talk about a musical that separates the sexes; it’s right there in the title. However I didn’t really notice the separation and just went along with all the things. I was just another face in the crowd and I just happened to already own tap shoes before auditions and so I was tagged as a tap dancer and thus started the journey that lead me to tap dancing in my underwear fifteen years later for millions to see…I guess.
After my big breakout in Guys & Dolls, Jr., years passed. High school happened, viciously and painstakingly slow. Freshman year of college came.
The cast list went up for The Will Rogers Follies, a tap dance show for showgirls. Knowing my experience – tapping since I was three and performing for like ever, I knew my name would be on the list.
Um. It wasn’t there.
I looked again.
It wasn’t there.
A bunch of non-tapping ladies were certainly typed up, first name and last name in Times New Roman, size 16. But my name just, was not there.
Later I found out that during the feedback session with the director, weight and body type were discussed. Showgirls and tap dancers have certain body types and in musical theatre, we had to learn about this sort of thing so that’s why casting in college would be super specific and “just like the real world.”
Suuuuuuper not aware that I was too big to be cast in the tap dance musical that I had studied, listened to, and prepared for during my first semester. Suuuuuuuper not aware that as a woman, my size mattered – not my talent or my work ethic.
It sort of shaped the next nine years for me. I mean that’s when Weight Watchers became the most significant relationship in my life, and when I started dating really bad, bad, just baaaaad men, but I still wasn’t aware that it was because I was a confused and broken woman with low self-esteem and body issues.
I just thought that I was an outcast with an amazing skill for failing. Which is of course, an oxymoron in itself.
And so I don’t know that I was aware that women could be so strong and speak up and change things. I honestly just wasn’t paying attention.
I was very caught up in my own little world. I was getting by, but I wasn’t proud of who I was. I was fat, a dancer, and a failure. And I don’t even know that I was that embarrassed by these things so much as I just felt that they defined me. Like that’s just who I was now. A fat failed dancer.
When I was younger, I never identified as any of these things. I was just a kid that thought I was a kid who did a lot of different things.
Something changed in my twenties that caused me to believe that I was only what I could describe myself as – a fat failed dancer – nothing more.
And because of my lack of awareness of the world around me, I didn’t know that any of those things could be used to my advantage, or that any of those things were the reason that I was put on this planet.
Until June 17th, 2013.
When I published my first blog post about eating disorders and weight struggles in the showgirl, show business, show-me-what-your-body-looks-like world that I’ve been living in since my freshman year of college, I realized I had unleashed something larger than myself. When my voice went viral via the internet, I realized that the only person who could speak on these issues was a woman who had been there and experienced it.
Specifically, a woman like me.
It took me 26 years to realize that being a woman is a very big deal, and it is only now, in my 27th year on earth, that I realize how proud I am to be different.
Yes. I said proud. Proud to be different. Proud to be a farmgirl and a girly dancer. Proud to be a fucking curvy, sexy, loud, outspoken woman.
Because of this.
There are certain impacts that women can make in this world that would not be as powerful if done by men.
For instance, Roar. A man stripping down to his underwear and peeling off masking taped words of “fat” and “cellulite” on areas of the body that women’s magazines label “flawed” and “troubling”, would not have the same affect on the human race as a woman who actually bares those “flawed” and “troubling” areas doing the same thing.
A man teaching young girls how to hold themselves in dance class and embrace what it’s like to dance as a female, is not the same as a female dancer – who can be a female role model for the young girls for a lifetime – teaching those exact same things.
A letter to a (maybe) daughter from a mother’s point of view is an entirely different letter than what her potential daddy might write. Not in a good way or a bad way, just an insanely different way.
And these things are what I choose to see if we must be labeled as different.
I don’t have time to sit here and focus on why men have it easier in show business. Or why I, a female, got banned on Facebook for sharing The Militant Baker’s Expose project but I’ve had men with their balls as their profile picture try to friend me after Roar went viral with no repercussions.
We could sit here and make lists of the differences and inequalities between men and women and grow old and gray as we run out of paper and continue to list them on our fingers.
Or we could stand up proudly, as women, and own what we can do.
Which is influence the young women, and men, of the next generation.
Which is continue to participate in movements that mean something to us even when they aren’t necessarily well-liked or easy to participate in.
Which is to set a great example for our children and students by keeping the smack talk about our bodies at bay and owning our strength, intuition, and compassion.
And to stand up tall and be proud to be a human being who also has the pleasure of being a woman at the same time, and owning whatever that means to us.
I don’t know that I was ever proud to be a woman until I realized what an incredible opportunity it is.
But hey sister, better late than never, I’m coming to find.
I will continue to use my body and my voice to raise awareness on the issues that matter to me. And that includes every venue possible. From the internet to the dance studio to the jungle in Hawaii where I will change the way women think about their bodies to my home in Pennsylvania when I explain to my grandmother what body love is.
As a woman, I have a body and a gift that could be looked at as objective and outspoken, and in my opinion – that’s the best fucking part. I see that oppression and that misogyny my dearest world, and I challenge you to a duel where you cannot begin to be prepared for the things in my toolbox that will cut you down to size.
Today I proudly say, yea, I’m a woman. And you better watch out if you don’t think that’s a big deal, because when you least suspect it, I will show up for myself, and others, and speak with a voice made up of thousands.
The discovery of my feminine pride has been a huge stepping stone for me, and I wish it for everyone. Everyone.
And I just want to remind all the women out there who have lost their pride, or have struggled with their feminism, or are battling something hard and fierce, that “well-behaved women seldom make history.”
Girlfriend, you are so brave that you might not even know what you are capable of until you try it. But when you’re ready to, I know a hundred women who will be right there with you saying, “let’s do this shit.”
*This article is in no way dismissing feminism, dismissing the impact men have on this world, or dismissing the fact that there are women in all parts of the world struggling with issues that are way more dangerous than being a showgirl in a Broadway musical. I also do not dismiss the fact that show business’s version of “fat” is very different than what the rest of the world sees as “fat”, which I realize is controversial in itself. These are my personal struggles and personal discoveries as a woman in show business and also as an advocate for the body love movement. Everything is relative in this life, and I did not write this piece to minimize women’s issues in any way. May women everywhere benefit from one more woman stepping into her power and owning everything that she is – I am proud to be an empowered woman today and every day and I wish it for everyone.
I know, that in this day and age, guilt takes over when we let the Kardashians take over our Sunday afternoon instead of spending time donating to breast cancer research or volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. I know that scrolling Perez Hilton instead of reading about Gaza is enough to make me feel like I don’t even deserve another day on this earth. It’s come to the point that anything celebrity related is deemed “pointless” and “trivial” compared to the rest of the world’s problems.
I’m not here to argue that point.
I’m here to say that Robin Williams doesn’t fit into that category.
Robin Williams made art that changed my generation. His humor, his storytelling, and his thousand and one different impressions is what I watched growing up.
He was no celebrity. He was an artist.
He was no Kardashian JWoww Honeybooboo nonsense. The man taught the world lessons.
In Aladdin, we learned to believe in things that seem impossible.
In Jumanji, we learned to finish what we started with dignity, even when it sucks, even if we get dirty, even if it’s been haunting us since childhood.
In Mrs. Doubtfire, we learned that a father’s love is fierce, and humility is of the essence when trying to keep a family together.
The list goes on with Hook, and Patch Adams, and The Birdcage - all movies where we learn that humor heals. All proof that laughter really is the best medicine.
See, Robin Williams was not just a “celebrity”. He was a representation of dozens of different characters in humanity, and more. Besides being a creepy photo developer, and a doctor, and the bicentennial man, he was there to be the lost boy, and the genie, and the scientist that made green Flubber.
FLUBBER YOU GUYS. DID YOU FORGET ABOUT FLUBBER TIL I JUST SAID IT?
See, exactly. Childhood memories, eh? A little chuckle over the flubbski? I bet.
Not just any celebrity can bring about epic feelings of childhood. Robin Williams is one of the few artists in our time that has that gift.
Robin Williams is to be celebrated, as his wife has asked, as his talents demand.
But it’s also okay to mourn our loss.
We, as a people, have lost something really huge. We lost the man who wasn’t afraid of letting us in. We lost the man who brought us along on his journey even though we couldn’t possibly believe someone would be crazy enough to take it in the first place.
And most devastating, we lost another battle with depression.
Robin Williams signifies the real struggles that are taking our friends, our family, our artists away from us. We can no longer ignore the mental health issues that torture even the happiest “seeming” of souls.
So this loss is a wakeup call and perhaps, one final lesson that we can take away from Robin Williams’ brilliant and colorful life.
No matter how inspired or creative one may be, we never know the dark forces that haunt an individual behind closed doors. And it’s not for us to judge – or detect – or prescribe.
There’s only one thing we can learn from this.
We have to love one another.
Compassion is key in the survival of the human race, quite literally. Your difficult boss, your horrible sister, your emotionally unavailable boyfriend – you might not know what’s happening inside their troubled minds. Even on the most horrific day, compassion is key. Compassion is key.
You never know what someone else is going through. So compassion is key.
If we learned anything from the movie Jack, where Robin Williams was treated as an outcast for his aging condition that made him look like an adult even at age 10, we learned that compassion is key. He showed so much love for his fellow classmates that eventually, someone saw past what he looked like, and saw that he was a beautiful loving soul despite his outward appearance.
Compassion is key. Art is essential. Laughter is medicine.
That’s what I learned in my twenty-seven years on this planet with Robin Williams movies. As an actress, I admire his ability to think on his feet, and to step into any character, and to blow my mind with creativity. But as a human – from age five and up – he taught me that compassion is key. Art is essential. And laughter is medicine.
Robin Williams made me laugh so hard that I know he was put on this planet for a reason. He entertained us and moved us and made us feel things we needed to feel. He inspired me, and I’m sure countless others, to want to perform and share myself with the world as he did – authentically and unapologetically.
And so it’s okay to mourn someone who could do all of those things. It’s okay – necessary even – to grieve for the loss of a talented artist who represented so many things you and I might never get to experience. It’s okay. It’s okay to be sad.
And then, as hard as we grieve, we must equally celebrate what Mr. Williams did leave behind. Start the films rolling. Celebrate what we do have on film – those thousand and one impressions he did so fearlessly and consistently.
After all, we can never take films for granted. There is always something new to see. I’m sure we have plenty of new lessons to learn that we’ve forgotten about since Aladdin first graced our living rooms as kids. I think Robin Williams had a lot to say, and I’m willing to bet, that we can spend the rest of our lives trying to figure out all the things he had to share and still not discover everything he had to offer.
And I don’t even know if that’s what he would have wanted, but I do know that artists take great pleasure in having their art outlive them. To have their art influence future generations. To make this world a more beautiful, more compassionate, more alive place. That’s why most of us get caught up in the arts to begin with – because we’ve seen it outlast centuries and we know that it’s timeless.
And you and I both know, that Robin Williams’ art is more than timeless – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
So I loudly declare, that there’s no need to feel guilty for realizing and mourning our loss.
Because as Mr. Williams said in his unforgettable portrayal of Hunter “Patch” Adams:
You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.
I think that Mr. Williams treated us – as a whole, as a people – and we are all better off because of it.
And I ask you, how can anyone feel guilty for mourning the loss of someone that could do that?
May this world continue to be blessed with fearless artists who are inspired by Robin Williams’ comedy, courage, and creativity. May we pour out compassion. May we be aware of mental health and the sickness that comes with it. May we cherish each day and the moments that make life worth living. And may we always be thankful for the one thing the genie, voiced by the late, great, Robin Williams, cherished most.
Freedom. From freedom comes art. And I’d like to think that Robin Williams is now free from whatever demons have been haunting him these past couple years.
But oh, to be free… Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world.
Rest In Peace Mr. Robin Williams
and thank you for giving the world the gift of YOU.