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lynn Hasselberger

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

My Journey with Disorderly Eating.

November 12, 2013

My Journey with Disorderly Eating.

By Lynn Hasselberger

Food is an important part of a balanced diet.

Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life, “Food for Thought and Vice Versa”

Count Chocula was my favorite cereal. I’d save the marshmallows for last.

Our cabinet was loaded with sugary cereal—Quisp, Honeycomb, Sugar Pebbles, Frosted Flakes. But Count Chocula was my favorite. The marshmallows soaked in the milk while I ate around them. Their mushy texture at the end was such a treat, washed down with the sugar-laden chocolatey milk. Great start to any child’s day!

You can do a lot for your diet by eliminating foods that have mascots.
~Ted Spiker

Lunch was typically white bread with Jif peanut butter. Occasionally a hard boiled egg. And a Twinkie or Ho Ho. My drink of choice was Coca-Cola or root beer with milk. And cookies for dessert. Homemade or Double Stuff Oreos. Gasp!

A mid-afternoon snack was typically more cookies or a sleeve of Ritz or saltine crackers. Maybe a slice of good old American cheese. Meat and potatoes with overcooked vegetables or iceberg lettuce was typical dinner fare. And always a humongous bowl of ice cream drowning in Hershey’s chocolate sauce for dessert while the family sat down to watch The Love Boat.

In high school, I wasn’t really as hungry for breakfast, so I’d drink a Carnation Instant Breakfast. Our milk was raw, straight from the cow. I used to love the chocolate kids sold for charity so I’d buy a huge caramel filled chocolate bar and consider that lunch. Maybe I’d buy a chocolate milk. There were vending machines that sold soda so I’d be sure to get my fill of grape soda—one or two cans a day. I’d return home for some—you guessed it—cookies or crackers. And then back to the usual meat and potatoes and ice cream dessert.

I was “shy” growing up. But maybe I was just anxious and depressed.

I could not even begin to open my mouth to talk to a cute boy. I also found it hard to articulate in general, even if I was comfortable with someone. (Was I ever comfortable?) I had extreme dental problems that didn’t help my confidence.

Surprisingly, I was not fat. (Can you believe it?) I couldn’t get over a hundred pounds in high school and friends would ask me why I was so skinny. I was a late bloomer with a stick figure. That and the fact that I was mute meant the phone was not ringing off the hook with boys in hot pursuit. I had no concept of “exercise” or even being fat or thin. I tried to gain weight when I was a high school senior by eating McDonald’s for lunch. That didn’t work.

When I went away to college, food choices expanded greatly. The buffet in the dorm cafeteria was exciting to me—such variety and I could pick anything I wanted! I partied practically every night, attempting to keep up with my friends who were more used to drinking and typically weighed more than I. There was pizza delivery to the dorm! That was soooo cool. There was no pizza delivery in the small farm town where I came from. So Dominoes made its way to our dorm room at least once a week after a night of imbibing on cheap beer. Or we’d head to Spud & Sub at midnight, where they served baked potatoes drenched in butter and other fabulous toppings. I loved how the melted cheddar cheese would stretch as I shoveled each forkful into my mouth, finishing every last bite.

In general, mankind, since the improvement in cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires.
~Benjamin Franklin

I had a boyfriend or two (not at the same time), acquired during parties where I was suddenly able to talk, thanks to beer. I would get wasted! And I continued to engage in late night—and overall very poor—eating. The fact that I gained weight (finally) really didn’t bother me. Even though it gathered at very odd places—my face and knees mostly. (I burned the photographic evidence from those years.) But I didn’t really care. I wasn’t conscious of extra weight being a “bad” thing. I also wasn’t familiar with the reason for exercise. Activity had always been a normal part of my life with gym class at school, riding bikes, general running around and swimming in the summer, shoveling manure on our little farm.

My best friend from high school did sit-ups sometimes while we talked on the phone. I didn’t really understand the purpose of it. In college, a group of us would meet in the dorm lobby occasionally to do a Jane Fonda workout and one of my friends emphasized the importance of squeezing the butt muscles when walking around campus. But, again, I really didn’t give it any thought. I was just happy I had finally put on a few pounds (more like 25 or 30).

I don’t recall why, but I decided to eat better—well, less—the summer after freshman year. Maybe I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I’d start out the day by eating a not necessarily healthy breakfast. Skip lunch. Then eat dinner. No ice cream!

Then I met a guy. At a bar. Yes, I was drunk.

We fell in love. My first real love ever. I had never even told a guy I loved him before this. We were inseparable all summer long. I continued to skip lunch. Maybe even breakfast. I wasn’t really hungry because I was, after all, in love. He thought I had a fantastic body—I did look damn hot in a bikini.

I just remembered that, after junior year of high school, a guy from my class came up to me at the beach and said, “Wow! I didn’t know that was you. And that you had such a great body!” I had spent most of my high school years wearing my older brother’s hand-me-down jeans so my body was hidden. This is turning into a therapy session!

My confidence—something I never possessed—escalated. By day, I still had a hard time talking to this boyfriend. Come to think of it, we didn’t really talk much. We made out a lot.

And then summer ended and we had to say good-bye. Our colleges were six hours apart. It was heart-breaking.

I returned to school and fell into a deep, deep depression. I also returned to eating. Binge eating myself into a wallowing state. Specifically I remember enjoying my roommate’s Hamburger Helper (gag me!). Did I mention I continued to party every night?

My boyfriend surprised me with a visit and he acted, uh, less infatuated with me. He told me I wasn’t as cute without a tan. And noticed my weight gain. He actually used the word flabby. What a jerk, right?

You thought I was depressed before!

I stopped eating. I’d walk to my morning art class with a diet soda. Have a package of gum balls at lunch time (weird, I know). Sometimes I’d eat an apple. Dinner would consist of soup or popcorn. I lost weight. Lots and lots of weight.

I’d wake up hungry in the middle of the night and and snuck up to the apartment above us, where I they had Honeycomb (their pantry was outside their door at the top of our shared back stairway). I’d make my way all the way back downstairs with the box, fill a bowl and return the box. I was a stealth cereal snatcher and I’m guessing to this day they wonder where all their Honeycomb went. Couldn’t have been me—I was sooo skinny.

My best friend began to tell me I was getting to thin. She was worried about me. I’d laugh it off, telling her I’d always been skinny.

My boyfriend returned for a visit. This time he was mad at me. “You better not have anorexia. My last girlfriend had that,” he said in so many words. I denied having any problem and he continued to act less than loving. In fact, I think he left earlier than he was supposed to when I was still sleeping.

At one point, I decided to eat again (donuts and other crap). And exercise so the weight would go back on in the “right places.”

After gaining some weight, I finally hopped on the scale. Ninety pounds.

After gaining some weight, I finally hopped on the scale. Ninety pounds. Keep in mind, I had gained weight. Not only that, but I’m five foot six and a half. In the meantime, my long-distance relationship with that nice boyfriend was deteriorating.

I wasn’t returning back to “normal” weight-wise or otherwise.

One night, after an exceptionally filling dinner, my roommate and I were kidding around about how full we were. Oh, how sick we felt. It was worse than Thanksgiving. Then she let me in on her secret. Throwing it up was her answer. She’d been doing that since junior high. And off she went to purge, laughing about it afterward. She suggested I try it. “It’s easy.”

There’s nothing I hate more—to this day—than throwing up. I hardly ever got the stomach flu. Yes, I had thrown up after drinking too much beer and eating far too many hot dogs freshman year in college at a party, hugging the toilet in the frat house bathroom swearing off hot dogs for the rest of my life.

But I did it. I purged. Because in the back—make that the very forefront—of my mind was the fact that my boyfriend didn’t love me as much because I had gained weight.

And thus began my journey with bulimia.

I won’t go into the gory details, but suffice it to say, I’m pretty sure I could have died. I had hallucinations. My ears rang. Food was my enemy.

It lasted for three years.

I knew it had to stop. I devoured articles and books about health and food and fitness.

One time, someone noticed me binging on food and said, “I think you might be a fat woman trying to get out of your skinny body.” I may not have been super skinny when she made that comment since purging doesn’t rid your body of every single ounce of calories you’ve inhaled.

The truth was probably more like: I was trying to physically fill a painful hole in my soul.

And a need that never got met because what I really needed was proper nutrition. That was probably the case all along going back to the days when I thought sugar was a staple. What goes into the body has an effect on how you feel. It’s not just calories as fuel, it’s vitamins and minerals (duh!). Early on, the high levels of sugar was a form of self-medication. It fed my depression and I’d enjoy a temporary high only to crash in a spiral that could only be thwarted by more sugar.

I remember as a young child, climbing on the counter when nobody was around and sneaking a spoonful of sugar from the cabinet. Also vanilla extract. Later, I snuck Popsicles and ice cream bars when I was supposed to be in bed. And, like many children I’m guessing, I’d take sugar packets from restaurants and eat them on the way home in the back of the station wagon. That might explain a lot of my cavities.

I can’t explain how I did it without some serious therapy, but I quit. It was a gradual process with the occasional set-back. While I hadn’t completely figured out the right combination of nutrition and exercise yet, my bulimic period came to an end when I was on my own, living in Chicago in my 20s.

My bread transitioned to mostly wheat—but I wasn’t yet aware of the importance of whole grain. More salads made their way into my meals. Bran muffins I decided were good for me (compared to breakfasts of my past, they were a definite improvement). I drank a lot of coffee and still imbibed in alcohol socially. I decided in my late 20s/early 30s that no fat was a good idea which, of course, it wasn’t. No protein whatsoever with lunch I could later attribute to my fatigue. And binging on Hershey’s chocolate and Bit-o-Honey and/or ice cream during the peak of my PMS cycles was not unheard of.

In my mid-30s I had the opportunity to work with the sports nutrition company EAS and learned the philosophy of its founder Bill Philips who also wrote the New York best-seller “Body for Life.” That was a turning point for me. I learned to eat more frequent “meals” which was supposed to consist of an equal combo of protein and carbs (he recommended a fist size portion of each, six times a day) with one day each week of eating whatever the hell you want in any quantity. The change in my eating habits alone resulted in a higher and more stable energy level that lasted throughout the day. I felt better than I had ever remembered feeling.

I adopted a form of Bill’s exercise program which I use to this day (outlined at the end), which includes a combination of strength-training and cardio. I learned proper form from the EAS physical trainers who also trained some of the Denver Broncos. On the downside, I took the EAS creatine—a powdery, synthetic version of a substance created in the liver and kidneys which increases muscle mass—and my muscles transformed into high def. The stuff was free and, fortunately, I only ingested it and some of the other processed and probably very unnatural supplements for about a year. Hey—I was still learning (and still am)!

While my depression/anxiety overall had improved tremendously, I still suffered from PMS. It was getting worse (my husband refers to me as the tarantula) with age. The fact my body had been pumped full of hormones for six consecutive rounds of in vitro fertilization during my early 30s probably threw my hormonal balance off-kilter. Someone recommended  the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing—an A to Z reference to drug-free remedies using vitamins, minerals, herbs and food supplements. Who knew I was supposed to be eating whole grain foods?

Fast forward to today. I just turned 49 and am basically a health nut (some might argue that being such a health nut is its own form of eating disorder). I look healthy, not emaciated, hovering between 115 and 120 pounds. I eat and I eat well. I have a nutrition packed smoothie every morning, eat loads of nuts and whole grains, tons of fruits and vegetables, fish, free-range chicken, cage free/free range eggs… and most everything is organic. I eat all meals—breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, another snack before bed. It’s rare for me to eat red meat and I keep sugar to a minimum (although I must have ice cream, it’s only once a week). I would eat more sugar, believe me, if it made me feel spectacular and/or did not cause wrinkles.

I feel great. Sure, I still suffer a bit from depression and anxiety. But it’s not as extreme or frequent. Though whenever I eat crap or drink more than one glass of wine, I feel completely off the next day.

I should mention that I’m on a small dose of medication to reduce depression and anxiety, although I’ve tried really really hard to be medicine free. Believe me. I’ve been on and off the stuff over the last few years and blown loads of money I don’t have trying to find the right combination of holistic remedies. If I didn’t eat right, my meds dosage would have to be increased. The good news is, I’m not numbed by the medicine—I feel icky when something bad happens like anyone else. But I digress.

And while I limit the junk in my house—absolutely no Count Chocula—I love food. It’s my friend, but not an obsession. I allow my 12 1/2 year old son to purchase junk food with his own money and am teaching him that food is fuel. I’ll admit, I lecture him on all the bad chemicals and other nonsense that’s in the junk food any chance I get.

My relationship to food continues to evolve—I’m ashamed to admit that processed foods like the oh-so-convenient chicken nuggets and Trader Joe’s microwaveable burritos occasionally end up in my shopping cart and follow me home. What can I say?

There’s a lot of peer pressure to eat junk—when I turn down that brownie, I get a look and a “You can afford it!” Not to worry. I get my pint of Ben & Jerry’s every weekend—sometimes a Culver’s (gasp!) large concrete mixer with Oreos—and you can bet I eat cheese and douse things (not my ice cream) with olive oil.

Limiting the crap might make me “weird” to some, but it makes me a happier person. Please just accept that.

Originally published on elephantjournal.com.

 

 

Lynn Hasselberger-60
Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, reading and writing, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. Lynn is currently working for the documentary film Unacceptable Levels. In her spare time, she writes for her blogs I Count for myEARTH and LynnHasselberger.com and other publications. A treehugger and social media addict, you’ll most likely find Lynn on twitter (@LynnHasselbrgr@myEARTH360 and @IC4ME) and facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking.

 

courage, Guest Posts

Having The Courage To Start by Lynn Hasselberger.

May 31, 2013

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The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started. ~ Dawson Trotman

This place called stuck… I’ve been here before.

I’m not fond of it. I don’t like how it feels—ensnared by a trap.

I set the trap myself. I know it. I admit to it.

I work hard to escape, grasping out into the world for the right inspiration. Waiting for the right mood, the right time.

I know what I have to do but can’t make myself do it. As if it will entail chewing off my arm.

I see others doing it, exuding passion in what they’re doing. And I remain here in this spot. Running furiously, trampling my dreams but not getting anywhere. The drama of it all!

Procrastination. Fear. Fatigue. Anxiety. Worry that it won’t be perfect or good enough.

We’ve all been there. I know because I’ve asked people. Yes. It happens to the best and brightest of us.

But why and how in the world do we get out and get moving into that groove that feels so good? The groove that once we’re in it, it feels like we never left. The one that seems so out of reach sometimes.

Groove. I want to be in it. I want to be groovy.

was in a groove, working as an editor. Busy busy busy. Editing. Connecting with people; connecting other people to people. Writing. Doing.

The downside was that this work was sapping me of energy. It was also keeping me from my consulting work which a) allows me to pick and choose what I work on and b) helps pay the bills. Sure, I got paid for editing, but it was 50-75 percent less than I could make consulting. Ouch! My son needs orthodontia ($5500). We have about 10 dying ash trees (thank you, emerald ash borer!) that will need to be removed professionally lest they fall on our house ($500 to over a thousand per tree). Yada yada yada.

The job was also, in my mind, eating up any free time I could utilize to write more. And to keep up with those silly things we must take care of in life.

I resigned about a month ago. It wasn’t easy, but I had to do it. And now I’d have all the time in the world to focus on what I reallywant to do. Hell, now I could even put time aside to clean out the linen closet and that damn kitchen drawer where matches,  toothpicks and other miscellaneous items dance together in chaos. Oh, the humanity! I could finally address these pressing issues and fold the laundry promptly after its removal from the dryer. I could investigate refinancing our house. The sheet hanging out of the linen closet taunting me like a razzing tongue would be tidied up. I would be oh so organized!

The only one telling me what to do was me. No pressure!

Guess what? I found the linen closet could wait. My writing could wait (and it would have to since I contracted another serious bout of writer’s block, which may be contagious). The laundry would remain unfolded until the next six loads forced me to free up the laundry baskets.

And it waited, but not without a price. These to-do’s jammed up my head. I scolded myself. I became paralyzed—what am I supposed to tackle first?! No pressure? Wrong!

Having less to do meant, ironically, that I got less done. And I tried to be okay with that: “I’m on sabbatical,” I told myself and others. Sabbatical would be cool if it meant traveling to distant lands, meeting new people or taking an art class. But in my case, it meant more lap time for the cats.

I missed the ongoing conversations with my co-workers and my inspiration fizzled. The pile of to-do’s grew and I just didn’t feel like doing.

I wasn’t on sabbatical, I was idling (a word I hate).

“Enjoy this time,” I yelled at myself.

It wasn’t working! I wanted to do something, but couldn’t. (Or was it that I wanted to want to do something?)

If you’re like me—and this has, no doubt, happened to you in some form or you wouldn’t have read this far—you berate yourself about not getting started on something. Anything. Just to begin.

Days turn into night turned into days…. with each passing hour, I asked myself what was stopping me. I’m stopping me. I analyzed myself. If I’m stopping me and I’m asking myself why I don’t do something, how is it really me stopping myself? Am I schizophrenic? There’s the half lazy ass I turn into after a five mile run (no trouble getting in that run or yoga class. For others, getting into an exercise habit feels impossible). This lazy ass persona is bullied by the task master who asks, “What the f*ck is the problem?!” And there’s the mediator in me saying, “Just go with it. This is how you feelTask master: put down that whip.” Then, “You’re a hard worker. You’re creative. You’re funny. You’re driven. Maybe you just need this time to chill.” And the lazy ass says, “I know, but it doesn’t really feel good to chill. Yet I can’t stop doing this chill thing. I’m mad for chilling and I’m mad that I can’t enjoy the chill.What now?” And the task master points to the long list of wants- and needs-to-do. The things that could move me toward my dreams.

In a study published by the Journal of Consumer Research, it was found that those who believed they had already made progress towards their goal were twice as likely to achieve it than those who thought they were starting from scratch. ~ Christina Curtis, Psychology Today

I read and I read and I read. Articles. Books. Blogs. About inspiration. About acceptance and breathing. About love and being. About writing. About being, not doing.

I continued to talk about it (to myself, mostly) and ask myself why. Or why not.

I dwelled upon this lack of passion and beat myself up over it. I should be writing. I should be exploring the world around me (limited funds, but I could use my f*ckin’ imagination, couldn’t I?!). I should I should I should. Why am I not listening to myself, I’d ask myself daily. What’s wrong with me? Where did my creativity disappear to? Who stole my motivation? Who stole my rudder? People say I can write—some have even expressed how I’ve inspired them—why can’t I write daily like some writers do? How do they do that? What’s wrong with me? Yes. These are the things that I’ve said (and say, past and present tense) to myself and I’m now putting to paper.

Please note: I’m a self-starter. Hire me to do help you with marketing and I won’t just do it, I will likely exceed your expectations.

Remind me about the laundry and I’ll just sigh. Tell me to write and I freeze up.

For you, it may be something else you’re trying to get to but can’t seem to muster up the energy to take that first step.

The beginning is the most important part of the work. ~ Plato

Beginning is also the hardest part. If I’d only just plop a few words down on paper, it would count as beginning. I scroll up and see that I’ve written. Hey, I’m writing!

I started by thinking about how difficult it is to start sometimes and by doing so, I had something I could write about—express—in that moment. What I was feeling in that moment was distress over not writing (or not cleaning the damn linen closet, or not calling the bank about refinancing options) and telling you, dear reader, about that experience. Hoping that you’ve been in my shoes so you can relate and I can know I’m not alone. Hoping there’s a writer or a linen closet cleaner wannabe who made it to point B by simply starting. Then I can breathe and know there’s hope for me.

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.  ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It can be problematic when the list of things to do is lengthy (have you ever heard anyone talk about a short to-do list?). Even when we check one thing off of that list, chances are there’s another one or five things that come up. That’s life. And wouldn’t life be boring if we had nothing to do?

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. ~ Lao Tsu

I really want to write. I want to call myself a writer. I’d love to be a published author in the real sense, as in, an actual book. Who cares about all the other stuff? The linen closet is perhaps a symbol of my cluttered mind, something I need to clean out one sheet (one experience, one story, one word) at a time.

Fold one sheet today, possibly two tomorrow. Or by folding one sheet, since I’m there, I may be inclined quite naturally to pick up another and fold it.

Since I’m in my blog, I write this. I explore the difficulty of starting by pouring the jumble of thoughts onto paper (or in this case, channeling them through my fingers via keystrokes onto the computer screen). Explore, write, think, write. Unfold.

We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. ~ Calvin Coolidge

Hell, I say by George, it’s working!

Getting started is beginning. Beginning feels hard until we do it. Fear must be what holds us back. Fear of what? Writing gobbledy-gook? Being laughed at? Not being good enough? Getting lost in the groove? F*ck you, fear and false starts. I’m starting now. And I’m starting tomorrow. And the next time I feel starting is impossible, I will breathe and let myself be.

Beating ourselves up won’t make us start.

What made me start was this. Starting. Having the courage to begin.

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

~ T.S. Eliot

And then, to end. To say, “This is good enough.” And let it go so we can move along to the next thing. The next breath. The next inspiration or bout of fear.

The Hardest Part:

Lynn Hasselberger-60

Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, reading and writing, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. The founder of myEARTH360.com, Lynn also writes for her blog I Count for myEARTH. She’s a treehugger and social media addict who you’ll most likely find tweeting excessively and obsessively (@LynnHasselbrgr@myEARTH360and @IC4ME) or posting on facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.

Birthday, Delight, Guest Posts

Top 10 Life Lessons Learned In My 48 Years by Lynn Hasselberger.

May 1, 2013

I woke up today and…voilà! I’m 48 years old.

Born in the middle of the night, two weeks late, I violently entered the world at nine and a half pounds with a huge pile of dark hair on my head. (I got stuck, my mom hemorrhaged and, well, we’re all still alive to talk about it).

Gaping at the large feet and hands attached to this red thing that was supposed to be a baby, my mom was convinced that I was going to be a replica of my six foot one, large-boned aunt (sister to my dad, who is small boned).

My parents couldn’t agree on a name, so I remained nameless for a day or two. Referred to as the baby or, more hopefully, “Baby.” (I need to ask more questions about this fact that I learned only a holiday or two ago after my mom drank one glass of wine too many. Sorry, mom, this is my story. And it’s actually pretty humorous. I’m not trying to call you out as a bad mom).

Eventually they agreed upon Lynn. My dad’s name is E. Leonard and, at the time, they called him Lenny (the  initial “E” for  Elmer, so Lenny was definitely the better choice).

In my early years, family referred to me as Lynn Anne. Later, you can imagine the confusion. If you can’t, allow me to explain: Lenny got older and became Len. I didn’t like to be called Lynn Anne, so, thusly (I’ve always wanted to use that word in one of my posts!) I morphed into Lynn. During my teen years, when people phoned for my dad and I answered, trouble ensued. “Is Len there?” they would ask, pronouncing my dad’s name as (you guessed it!) Lynn. “This is Lynn,” I would say. “No Len!” They’d insist, still pronouncing my dad’s name as Lynn.

To top it off, I have an Aunt Lynne and a cousin Linda. Hey, it was almost worse. I could have been Cressie—my grandma (my  dad’s mom) wanted them to name me after her deceased sister Cressida.

So, I’ve never been a big fan of my name. Except when it turns into Lynnie, a nickname that some friends use on too rare an occasion.

Forty-eight years later—my baby fat dispersed properly with the exception of my knees where it seems to collect—I am who I am today. Lynn Hasselberger. (Side note: Just a few days ago, I celebrated my 20th anniversary. Before marriage, I was plain old Lynn Johnson. I could not wait to get married in order to jazz up my boring name. When I met my husband, I immediately thought: Nope, he’s not the one. I mean, Hasselberger?)

I’ve survived many struggles—from eating disorders and infertility… to (gulp) infidelity—and enjoyed quite a few triumphs, blessings and overall good times.

I’m wiser now (quite possibly, most of that wisdom came during the last eight years) and am learning to accept the fact that I’m aging. A fact I found difficult to accept only two years ago.

Enough about me! Here are the ten top things I learned so far:

1. Rich or poor, happiness comes from within. I’ve struggled with finances along the way (and still today after my husband’s two and a half year unemployment—he’s been working for over a year now!—unexpected medical expenses and the investment into my business that was never and never will be returned, and that we’re still paying off) and enjoyed “better” times when we were both working full time, each making six figures. I wasnot happier when we had more money, but we were able to eat out a lot, travel… and when something in the house broke we could fix it immediately with the only stress being which contractor to choose.

I’m happy for the most part right now. Give me some more money and my shoulders will soften, we’ll sleep easier and we can finally take that real family vacation that doesn’t require camping at someone’s house. A slight tick in happiness will probably occur but can only be sustained with what’s in our hearts.

And if we start making oodles of money, we’d be smarter with it. I wouldn’t buy that $250 pair of shoes (they lasted more than 10 years, so you could say it was a good buy) but I would treat myself to a massage and cleaning service weekly.

2. We have to accept ourselves, not try to be what other people think we should be. Over the years I’ve heard that I have to calm down my hair, my lips are too thin, I’m too thin, I need to loosen up and get out more (okay, I’d like to change that about myself), I’m too quiet, I should be this or that.

I’ve also imagined what others might think of me and what they think I should be. And tried to fit in. Not wild enough? Not fun enough? Not smart enough? Not pretty enough? Not successful enough?

Source: google.com via Kelly on Pinterest

I used to try to prove I was those things in order for others to like me more.

But now I think: So the f*ck what? I am me. If you don’t like me as I am, move along. Nothing to see here.

Or deal with this:

I’m not a big fan of large groups and big, loud parties. My hair is at times frizzy or just tossed into a ponytail. I can be quirky. I  don’t watch reality shows. I find it important to continue to learn and be open-minded. I do the best and love as much as I can and forgive you no matter what (unless you kill my cat or do something even more heinous, but even then…). I will  show off my big ugly feet with their weird long monkey toes and even paint them a crazy color on occasion. I will get stressed at laundry. I will run outdoors as long as my legs and body will cooperate. I will mostly eat healthy food. I will tell you if I’m feeling low or about what bugs me. I will utter non sequitors often. I will wear my pj’s some days when I work at home and occasionally nag. I will be quiet at times. I will be cautious if I don’t know you well enough yet. I will stop at one or two drinks. I like to be in bed reading by 9 p.m. I will turn down your invitation sometimes not because I don’t appreciate you but because I simply feel like hanging out at home because I’m just worn out. My house will not be spotless and I can’t guarantee shaved armpits on a daily basis. I’m spiritual but not into organized religion and you’ll never witness me squashing a spider. I’m a tree hugger and believe humans are accelerating climate change by emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than the oceans and vegetation can absorb, throwing off they way the climate system would work without our interference. And unless you’re a climate scientist, you can’t convince me otherwise. I voted for Obama.

And I’m okay with that. If you’re not, then so be it.

Source: Uploaded by user via Elizabeth on Pinterest

3. Aging isn’t bad. It’s a badge of honor. Every day we wake up is truly amazing. I have to admit, I tried “filler” on my face a couple years ago. I was a) trying to mask the horizontal lines that were forming around my lips and b) at battle with my thin lips. Since they were already poking me with a painful needle, I allowed them to fill in the crease above my chin and soften my laugh lines. The changes made me feel more attractive (after all the nasty swelling and bruising vacated my face) but didn’t make me feel any happier.

I was in a mid-life freak out zone at the time. Thanks to my husband’s layoff, my adventure into unnatural fillers was put to an end.

We’re all getting older. That means wrinkles, getting tired faster and finding long hairs in weird places. In preparation for the years ahead, I’m learning to embrace these facts. Although I’m a bit concerned about howmenopause will tamper with my mood and wreak havoc in other unknown ways.

Self-disclosure: I cover my grays, though, and that’s something I haven’t found the courage to walk away from. It may take me another 10 years or more. But definitely, by 70, I will let my hair go.

P.S. Fillers and hair coloring are not good for us or the planet. I am admittedly not a 100 percent flawless tree hugger.

4. Holding onto anger is worse than whatever caused the anger in the first place. It ages us and wastes our energy. Forgiveness is key.

Source: Uploaded by user via Lynn on Pinterest

5. When sh*t happens, you’ll know who your true friends are. How? Because they’ll still be around. And if they disappear, it’s probably for the best. (A couple years ago, I told a person I considered a good friend that I was feeling depressed. I never heard from her again. She didn’t return my messages and even disconnected from me on LinkedIn!)

Absorb the goodness your friends (and even your enemies) have to offer while they’re in your life… you’ll be better for it.

Source: via Tanith on Pinterest

6. Exfoliation is important.
Not only are my feet f*ckin’ ugly, they’re dry. It wasn’t until sometime after college that I learned about pedicures and exfoliation. I treat myself to a pedicure at the turn of every season and otherwise exfoliate my feet right here in the comfort of my own home. I also exfoliate the rest of my fine self with loofah during most showers. Afterward, I apply raw shea butter mixed with an essential oil. Quite the process and not something I have time for every day, believe me!

On a more positive note, I appreciate my feet. Although they can’t dance and are often clutzy, they have served me well all these years. I think they, in turn, appreciate the exfoliation.

7. I am not meant to drink more than two drinks. I try to tell this to people when they say, “Oh come on, have fun! Have another drink. Live a little.” (Who knew peer pressure would live on past the age of 15?) Believe me, by avoiding a third drink, I  will have more fun tomorrow and the next day. Drinking one drink is actually enough. And to think, back in college and into my twenties, I partied hard most days of the week. How did I graduate, much less survive? Now drinking just makes me sleepy and wakes me up in the middle of the night.

8. I don’t have to do anything.

This has been my new mantra for the last few days ago and I hope I always remember it. I had been waking up anxious, thinking of all the things I had to do that day. I’d write down the top three things that really had to get done—although, honestly, the world would have carried on without me completing those things—and put all the rest on a longer list which I could pull from if I happened complete the three things and found myself looking for something to do. Invariably, all the tasks plus worries about finance and other stuff I had forgotten to put on the list would jumble around in my head and paralyze me.

Recently, my husband and I spent two nights in the city for our anniversary. It took quite a bit to get myself out the door and onto that train (we don’t do much to avoid spending money!) but once I was at the hotel, clothes put neatly away in the drawers, everything I had to do left my mind. Well, not all at once. But by day two, I was carefree. We didn’t go around the city spending money like drunken sailors. We ate and walked and took in the scene. I even gave breakfast to three homeless men.

Nothing fell apart during those two days. I had fun!

This led to an epiphany. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to wake up to thoughts of what I have to do that day. I don’t have to stress  about anything.

Telling myself I don’t have to do anything—a simple mind trick, similar to believing in fairies who will clean the kitchen and bathrooms in the middle of the night—has reduced my stress. And I’m more productive. My mind is clear. I’m approaching my life differently, from a place of abundance—look how full my life is! I have a family that I love, which leads to a couple of messes and extra laundry. How great is that?! How lucky am I?

I just have to follow my passion. My passion doesn’t have to be on a list.

Yes, I have responsibilities, but waking every morning with all them crashing against each other inside my skull until I can put them on a list and begin cramming them into a day just doesn’t work.

I don’t have to do anything. And my mind believes that! My anxiety? Extinguished.

I sure hope my mind doesn’t realize what I’m up to!

Source: oprah.com via Lynn on Pinterest

9. Food is fuel and medicine. Exercise makes me feel better.

It’s quite simple. I’ve written about my strange and evolving relationship with food, with self-medication disguised as a sugar tooth and eating disorder. Now I know—healthy food and exercise makes me feel better. And, please, I do eat crap once in a while including a pint of ice cream every week.

10. Time flies and every moment is a reward for this thing we call life.

Even the most unpleasant, f*cked up days are a gift.

I go through periods in my life, when it feels like time is slipping away and I feel myself grasping at it as if I could slow it down or stop it  altogether.

But squandering moments or stressing over our perceived lack of time is a waste of energy. I know this from experience. Chasing time is exhausting work!

I’ve decided this very moment to expand upon my mind trick (#8) and tell myself I have all the time I need. Ha! It’s also all the time I’ll ever have available to me. It is precious.

We need to embrace the good and the bad. After the bad, it could get worse, but then it will get better. Or… it might not. But no matter what happens, odds are in your favor that there’s someone else out there who’s experiencing something worse.

In the moments we have, we need to find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Inspire by sharing our passions. Or simply smile at someone, wave at our neighbor, support a friend when they’re down. Sign a petition for human rights or the planet.

Be grateful for this moment. And the one that just passed.

Live the moment. Get to know it. Learn from it. For it will inevitably be whisked away before you can say “Time flies!” (By the way, time does not fly if you’re serving it.)

And then we die.

Of course I’ve learned much more. But 10 is a nice round number.

The rest I’ll leave up to your imagination.

P.S. I’m grateful to everyone in my life and I hope to enjoy many more moments with all of you.

Happy birthday to everyone!


 

Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, reading and writing, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. The founder of myEARTH360.com, Lynn also writes for her blog I Count for myEARTH. She’s a treehugger and social media addict who you’ll most likely find tweeting excessively and obsessively (@LynnHasselbrgr@myEARTH360and @IC4ME) or posting on facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.

**This post originally appeared on Elephant Journal and is reposted here with permission.
The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on Jan 11, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation. Click photo to book.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on Jan 11, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation. Click photo to book.

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