What Women Really Need To Hear

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

“Everyone breastfeeds, it is the natural thing to do.”

“It’s what God made you for.”

“It is connection for you and the baby it is so good for him.

On and on the messages of what I had to do would be spoken to me.

Yet, night after night I sat on the couch longing for sleep as he chomped on my skin. I would cringe and hold my breath aching for it to be over. This beautiful son of mine now a shark anxious for his meal. I would sit and hope and pray that it would subside, that it would get better.

It never did.

This was in 2000 and there was no smartphone to Google breastfeeding tips. It was just me, the infomercials on TV, and my hungry boy trying to eat.

I felt so alone.

We went to the pediatrician and I sat with my head hung low, tears streaming down my face as he told me to not give up. “The baby needs this.” He said. “This is natural and right.” My husband stood all proud in the corner shaking his head in full agreement.

I wanted to scream and punch them in the face. I wanted to hit them and yell, “Do you know what it is like to feel like your nipples are being bitten off?”

But I didn’t. Everyone around me was telling me I had to do this.

I felt so alone and so isolated.

A couple days later in the middle of the night I snapped.

NO MORE!  I drove to Wal Mart in the middle of the night, bought bottles and formula, came home and sterilized them and fed my child.

“I quit!” I wanted to scream in the darkness of the night, “I quit.”

For the next few days I could barely lift my arms, take a shower, or change out of the two sports bras I was wearing. My breasts were engorged like watermelons. No one told me you don’t quit breastfeeding cold turkey.

I felt so alone.

***
My book, Table in the Darkness, has been out now for about a year and a half.

I wrote the book to encourage and help others, so people would see and learn that yes…recovery is possible. But, what has emerged from it is something entirely different.

Something I never expected.

What women want, no matter if they are struggling with an eating disorder, depression, addiction, and/or the day- to-day living…what women need, more than anything, is to hear this one simple phrase.

Me too.

When I speak, write or someone reads my book, this is the message that is so loud and clear. Me too

We ALL want to feel like we aren’t alone.

We women, we NEED EACH OTHER!

Over and over I hear, “I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I struggled too. I feel alone. Me too. Me too!”

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That night while I was aching for some answers for my hungry baby, what I needed more than anything was to hear, “Me too.” I didn’t need another person telling me what I should do, I just needed a me too. I struggled with breastfeeding too!  Me too, I felt like I failed!

Now more than ever it is so easy to see the areas where you might feel like you are failing. Facebook and other social media can easily make you feel that way.

Why not instead, create a place where we say things like;

I am struggling in my marriage.

I wish I could be more social.

I hate my hair.

I want to write a book.

I want to dream.

I want to have children.

I yell at my kids.

And the resounding community of women yell back and wrap their arms around you and say, “YES! ME TOO!”

Me too friend, we are in this together. You don’t have to feel alone! 

This is the message. This is why I continue to write.

We need to stop clamoring for the positions of power and rightness, but to gather together in a world of me too.

Won’t you join me? Start encouraging one another with #metoo

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xo

Lee

What The Media Missed In The Rachel Farrokh Pleading Anorexic Story

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

While sitting in treatment planning at the eating disorder hospital where I work, I pulled up Yahoo. Images of the frail and bony Rachael Farrokh popped up on my screen.

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*Image from Google Images

I turned the screen to show some of the doctors I work with. (Here are just two of the articles, but please note …the images are very triggering. I will not post them here.)

CNN Article

Yahoo Article

All of them, just shook their heads.

While all of us can most likely agree that it is fantastic she is reaching out for help, those of us who work in the field and have struggled with the disease know there is more to this story than is being told.

The media jumps on these sensationalized stories of shock and awe. Look at how low a weight she is, look at her bones, and how could she get like that? Ohhh ahhh shock and awe. 

Right?

1. The images are highly triggering to those struggling. 

What they don’t realize is by promoting this overly thin image of this woman is that those struggling who aren’t uber thin take it as a message that they don’t need help. “I am not that sick!”  They say. “I don’t look like that!”

Of course this doesn’t make sense in rational thought, but in the world of eating disorders it is a common statement I hear every day. Patients seeing images such as this and thinking, “Oh see, I don’t look like that. I don’t need help.”

While anorexia and severe anorexia can eventually look like Rachael, it only feeds this misconception you can tell who has an eating disorder by simply looking at them. But this is not always the case. With anorexia often you can tell, but there are many other eating disorders that people need treatment for and often times you cannot tell if someone has an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are not solely about weight. They are about how body weight and image affect a person’s self-worth. They are about distorted body images and obsessive thoughts about how to become thinner or avoid weight gain. People of normal weight with eating disorders may actually suffer more, because they don’t receive recognition of their illness from others.” -ANAD Dismantling the Common Myths of Eating Disorders

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2. She reports treatment centers won’t admit her?

The other piece I believe the media was mis-informed about is this idea that treatment centers won’t take her because of her low weight. We have never NOT admitted someone because their weight was too low or too high. Now, if they have medical complications we do put them on a monitored unit, sometimes even ICU before coming in for inpatient, but to think this woman has been struggling for ten years and has never received help and/or can’t now…it seems very very fishy to me.

3. Her husband quit his job? 

And why did her husband quit his job to take care of her? This woman needs to be in the care of professionals. If she was at home using cocaine every day her husband wouldn’t quit his job to be home and watch her do drugs.

To think her eating disorder got to this level without help, seems a bit like denial and co-dependency to me.

4. Why the need for money? 

Is she raising money because she doesn’t have insurance? Or does she have insurance? If so,then why would she need the money? Why aren’t we told this? She would be deemed medically unstable and insurance companies cover that kind of treatment.

5. Why not legal guardianship?

Why hasn’t someone stepped in as a legal guardian? Where is her family? At such a low weight her brain is not functioning properly and so someone else should be in charge of the logistics regarding her care. Where is that information?

6. Where is the truth?

I think the truth of this story is somewhere in the middle. I am guessing she has been in treatment and hasn’t been willing to follow recommendations, or has left too early, or has refused to be admitted. And she reports she was administered 40lbs of fluid in one day??? I don’t buy it.

There is way more to this story than the media is telling us. The truth is, the media feeds off of of these sensationalized stories. Because it is shocking to see her all skin and bones. To me this story feels a lot like the commercials you see on TV where the dogs are in kennels and their sad eyes are looking up at you. You can’t help but be moved and motivated to take action.

I find it frustrating that the media is preying on our emotions to give money, without the full story.

Don’t get me wrong… I am happy this woman is going to receive treatment. I hope she can find the beautiful life on the other side of recovery. I have been where she is, not at that low of a weight, but at rock bottom, I am not in any way criticizing her. I am criticizing the media. For not offering the full story, all the REAL details about what is going on with this woman, because I know we aren’t receiving the full story.

Her road to recovery is going to be long, but it is possible she can receive wonderful care. Eating disorders are not a choice, but recovery is and I am excited that she is willing to make that choice.

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There are places out there that absolutely can handle this and would be more than happy to do so. I hope only that she is willing to stay on the road to recovery, and that the media would refrain from jumping so soon on these stories without all of the facts.

xo

Lee

 

 

Are You Afraid Of Your Own Emotions?

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

I stand with my feet in the soft warm sand and watch with wonder as the waves come forward. Some of them large and full with white fury and others so small they barely move the sea underneath. There are children standing close jumping over the waves and down the beach I see surfers anxiously waiting for the biggest one to ride.

I am mesmerized by the rhythmic movement as the waves come forward and then retreat.

They always retreat.

Even the largest most dangerous waves that will potentially drown you will dissipate. I remember being trapped under one of those waves as a little girl, my arms flapping in terror, my eyes unable to see anything but water and my body desperate for air…until I was able to find the surface and not fight the rushing water. I had to stop resisting and allow it to gently bring me back to the surface. Fighting the wave and resisting it made it worse.

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Emotions are exactly like this don’t you think?

These waves that come upon us, sometimes it is as if we are in the high tide and the waves will not relent, crashing at us with grief, pain or loneliness. I hate these big fat wet drowning waves. Hate the way they slay me.

But, what I have learned about life is it does you no good to ignore those waves. Pretending they aren’t there will eventually lead you to drown.

Sometimes I feel the smaller waves hitting against me and I ignore them, put on the happy face, and continue to march forward acting as if I don’t see them. And then I will be hit with a massive swell acting all shocked. Where did this come from, why do I feel this way? But if I stop and pay attention, I find the little waves were offering me clues and telling me what was coming, if only I would pay attention to the tide of emotions in my own body.

When I was deep in my eating disorder I would have nightmares about drowning. When I was awake there was a constant hum of anxiety running through my veins. A fear that emotions I was avoiding would overwhelm me and I wouldn’t be able to live through it. I was terrified that if I began to cry I would never stop. So I didn’t. I ran and denied any of the emotional signals for years.

You can’t stop the ocean even if you try. Eventually emotions need to be set free and not live in your body. All emotions, not just the good ones. It has taken me what feels like an eternity to learn this. Sometimes I forget until I am smacked in the face again by a large feeling I ignored.

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Recovery has made me no longer afraid of drowning.

This lesson, this lesson of learning to ride the waves of my emotions, is one I am STILL learning. I feel the tears and I ignore them, or I feel the pain and I placate it, still sometimes ignoring the natural human emotions.

Most of the time though, I have learned through this process of allowing myself to be human, I know I can actually live through the biggest waves. Not only can I live through them, but I don’t need to do anything to make them stop.

And you don’t either. You don’t need to starve yourself, eat them away, cut, or drink them away. All you need to do is ride them out. And sometimes you need to ride them out with someone who can allow you the freedom and safe space to surf through them.

But ride them out is EXACTLY what you need to do.

What we ALL need to do. It is what I do now. And I am finding that in the surfing I feel so messy, so uncontrolled, but so human.

So alive.

I am not a rigid false person wearing a mask of imagined perfection, but one who experiences the range of human emotions. Sometimes at inappropriate times that make others uncomfortable, but I am feeling them. And I am riding the waves.

Won’t you start surfing too?

Stop running from those feelings and allowing them space to do what they need to do.

You won’t drown, I promise. No wave stays forever just like no emotion stays forever.

Ride those waves dear friends, ride those waves.

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xo

Lee

The “Mom Effect” and How We Influence Our Daughter’s Body Image

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

She hid the cookies deep in the farthest part of the silverware drawer. The fridge was full of food she never touched. Well, except for the Slim Fast drinks that littered the shelves. Those, were the sustenance she lived on. And yet, I knew the cookies were part of her diet too, eaten late at night in the darkness of the kitchen. She pretended as if she ate, pretended for my viewing pleasure that she was consuming meals, but I was intuitive. I was paying attention to her every move.

How could I not, she was my mother.

She was the model I had to follow.

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Busy was her mantra, busy stole away the time it took to eat. Because busy was how mothers were supposed to operate. Frantically running about too busy to eat. Providing and sacrificing for everyone else, never sitting down to actually eat the meal. Never taking time to nurture or allow her body what it needed. Wasn’t that what a good mother did? Wasn’t that what a woman did?

I watched the scurrying about and the frenetic pace at which the mothering without eating occurred. And I thought this was normal. This was what I was to do too. Didn’t all mothers act this way?

Wasn’t I also required to do this, to be a mother? To be a woman was a combination of serving everyone else but one’s self. And the reward was thinness. And thinness was power.

And when I was launched from the nest into the world with food at my every turn, and depression knocking at my door…I only knew one response. To deny myself. To busy myself. To find power in the madness. And I adopted those words too, “I am too busy to eat.”

While her disordered evening only skimmed the edges of causing problems in her life, it ruined mine. It destroyed my body and almost killed me. I wrote about this journey in my memoir, Table in The Darkness – A Healing Journey Through an Eating Disorder.

It took me years to find my own way, to learn how to feed my body, to deny what I was modeled and instead take care of myself.

Was it her fault? Did she cause this in a daughter who watched her every move, who followed her every turn, who hung on her every conversation?

No. And Yes.

No, because my personality type and my addictive genetic predisposition tipped me over the edge of balance, led me to the place of not being able to stop. (Read Here about the genetic predisposition of eating disorders.)

No because I also struggled with depression, and the depression further fueled my desire to not eat.

And yes. Yes in that I had one model of eating. Her. I had one model of how to view my emerging and changing body. And while she would tell me to love my body and to eat, her actions showed me otherwise. I watched, I modeled, and I even when I tried not to, couldn’t deny what I was shown. How a woman was to be.

Too busy to eat. Never satisfied with her body.

And as I wander around this world speaking to women’s groups and working with patients struggling with eating disorders, I find myself baffled at this destructive mentality that is so pervasive with women.

Women who say they are too busy to eat, and does that affect their children? Women who tell me they often skip meals and do I think their children notice? Women who tell me they hate their bodies and do I think their children pay attention to that?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

No, mothers don’t cause eating disorders. But, YES, mothers…they are watching!

If you are walking around talking about how fat you are or how you need to lose weight. I urge you to stop it now.   

Moms are probably the most important influence on a daughter’s body image,” said Dr. Leslie Sim, clinical director of Mayo Clinic’s eating disorders program and a child psychologist. “Even if a mom says to the daughter, ‘You look so beautiful, but I’m so fat,’ it can be detrimental.

Research has shown time and time again that the same-sex parent is the most important role model for a child. 

Zero talk about dieting, zero talk about weight! Zero comments not only about your daughter’s weight, obviously, but zero talk about your weight and even other people’s weight.” – Says Sim.

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Check out what a recent study that focused broadly on appearance and, more narrowly, on how a girl’s self-image is shaped by her mom’s own self-talk discovered.

Fifty-five percent of surveyed moms admitted to complaining about their own looks, frequently in front of their daughters. Weight was the most common complaint, with 76 percent of moms saying they often talk about wanting to lose weight.

Such comments have a profound effect on our daughters, 

If a girl hears her mom voice negative thoughts about her own looks, she learns to be self-critical. She learns to seek out problems and focus on what she doesn’t like about herself.

We don’t just model behavior. We model attitudes and beliefs. We model outlook.” - child and adolescent psychologist D’Arcy Lyness, a behavioral health editor at KidsHealth who was closely involved with the study.

You might think she doesn’t notice. She does. You might think it doesn’t matter. It does. You might think it is normal and part of being a woman to not eat, to deny your body what it needs. It isn’t.

I can’t soften this message, I want to. I want to hug you and embrace you and tell you it will be ok. But, I need you to know the truth. You matter. The way you treat your body matters.

 Every time a woman passes a mirror and criticizes herself, there’s a girl watching.” - Gloria Steinem

It starts with you! 

We are raising a society of girls and boys with a fear of not measuring up. A fear of fitting into this “skinny ideal” that doesn’t exist.

 It starts with you. Right here. Right now.

When you say, “God, there are things I don’t like about myself. I wish I had different hair or a different color of skin. I wish I were taller, shorter, and skinnier. I wish I had more talent. I wish I could do ‘that.’ I wish I looked like him. I wish I had her smarts” and on and on. This kind of thinking is basically telling God, “You blew it! Everybody else is OK. But you goofed up big when you made me.”

When you reject yourself, you are in essence rejecting God, because he’s your creator. When you don’t accept yourself, it’s rebellion against God. You’re saying, “God, I know better than you. You should have made me different, with a different set of strengths and a different set of weaknesses.”

But God says, “No, I made you exactly to be you because I want you to be you — with your strengths and your weaknesses. Both of them can give me glory — if you’ll just start doing what I made you to do instead of trying to be like everybody else.”Pastor Rick Warren

Let’s stop this madness. Let’s be who we are supposed to be, who God created us to be. And let us model healthy living for our own children!

Won’t you join me? 

If this is something you struggle with, won’t you reach out for help?

Talk to your friends, your husband…someone!

If you are struggling with providing your body what it needs, maybe you need to talk with someone? Maybe you could benefit from seeing a registered dietician or a therapist?

I don’t want you to hide in shame about this, I want you to hear this message and do something different.

Let us raise a generation of women that are able to say, “I am hungry. I am going to feed my body.” Let our little girls see us and model healthy behaviors that will carry them strongly through life!

Start now. Start today.

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You are too important in that little girl’s life not to!

xo

Lee

Helpful Articles:

Healthy Body Image Tips

Mom’s Influence

Body Image and Mom’s Influence 

Eating Disorders and Genetics

Facts on Eating Disorders

Helpful Books:

Table in the Darkenss – by Lee Blum

Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life After Pregnancy - by Emily Wierenga and Dena Cabrera

The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to be Perfect – by Margo Maine

Mom, I Feel Fat: Becoming Your Daughter’s Ally in Develping a Healthy Body Image – by Sharon Hersh

Wanting to Be Her: Body Image Secrets Victoria Won’t Tell you – by Michelle Graham

 

 

Happy “Other” Mother’s Day

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

I loved reading the book, Are You My Mother? - by P.D. Eastman, to my kids when they were younger.

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The sweet tiny bird asking all the animals, “Are you my mother?” Not sure where he matched up, who would provide the nurturing he needed. And what we see often in the animal stories, is when the mother dies or isn’t present, another mother steps in. Even if it is a different species, the nurture hole is filled by another mother.

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With mother’s day approaching I often feel a bit of anxiety regarding this holiday.

The stories are sweet and gooey as are the cards. I stood in the Target isle this week, the cards glaring back at me, unable to find one that fit my story. The cards were pink and yellow with lines like, You are my best friend! Thank you for being my rock. 

My mother story isn’t conventional as many aren’t. My mothers and my personality were like oil and water. From a young age our personalities, our expectations of each other and our views on life contrasted. A consistent friction between the two of us, leaving both of us wanting for more. I can therapize and diagnose, and we did all of that. We have found our way now, but it was nothing like Hallmark writes in greeting cards.

And yet, a tremendous blessing emerged from this relationship that left me searching.

One that captured the other story of mothering. 

God knew the needs of the child he created, me. He knew that my emptiness and needs my mother was unable to meet could be provided elsewhere. And he led me straight to them.

The other mothers.

Growing up in my family of 5, I was often referred to as, “the other child”. And this “other child” needed an “other mother.” I didn’t know this of course, but can only see in retrospect the women who flowed in and out of my life at just the right time. Three unique and timely relationships that provided exactly what I needed when I wasn’t getting it from my own home.

First there was my Young Life leader, Jill, in high school. A woman so encouraging and loving she exuded grace and kindness. While I awkwardly stumbled through the teenage years and achingly struggled with my fractured home life, I had a steady Jill cheerleading me on. A woman reminding me that God loved me, a woman believing that I could follow my dreams. A fuel to a spark that had begun to fade, she was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time.

In my twenties I was blessed to live with a family in Minnesota, and the mom, Judy, wrapped me into the fold as if I was one of her own. Her tender blue eyes calming an anxious and anorexic me. She took me into her home over and over when I fell on my face yet again. She wa grace with skin on. A contrast in portraits of motherhood as I hadn’t known any other option than my own.

She offered me a different view of motherhood.

Ironically she was raising three boys, and I now have three of my own. To say that God knew what he was doing when I randomly stumbled upon this family is an understatement. Judy ushered me through my turbulent twenties and without her, I honestly don’t know if I would have made it.

As I began to recover from eating disorder God offered me another “other”. This was Jan. A therapist who passionately loved the Lord. Another tender hearted woman who wouldn’t let me get away with anything. A woman who helped me retrain my brain, to let go of the chaos, and who guided my husband and I into a stable relationship.

Because of these three women, Jill, Judy, and Jan (how funny they all start with “J”), my other mothers, I have come to believe that the women relationships in my life are crucial to my own growth, healing, and living. Because of these three women showing me the way, I am blessed to be surrounded with a gaggle of amazing, encouraging, and inspiring women in my tribe as I call them.

A season for all of it.

There was a season for my own mother, and then another for a different period of my life. I am grateful for every mother who led me to the next stage. These women, who plopped into my life at just the right time. What a gift, a treasure. And as I grow older I find, if I open my eyes and look around, God is still doing that.

Offering me others just when I need it. A sweet friend, a tender co-worker, or even a woman on the internet who can carry me through.

Mothering doesn’t always have to be only done by your blood mother, it can be done by the others too.

God does provide dear friends. Sometimes not in the traditional way that Hallmark tells us we are supposed to have it, but in just the right way. At just the right time. Women, we need each other.

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Thank you to all my other mothers on this mother’s day. I celebrate my own mother for setting me free so I could experience these others, I celebrate you, my others,  for speaking into my life, and I celebrate God for providing me with just what I needed.

Happy Other Mother’s Day.

Xo

Lee

Why We Don’t Need To Be Afraid To Share Our Stories

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

Yesterday I was paying for my groceries at Target and engaged in a lively and fulfilling conversation with the clerk. I always stand in her line, because I love hearing her stories. She tells me about her kids, her steak that her son makes, and any other fun tidbits I need to know. I always smile after a brief encounter with her and her stories.

A favorite author of mine, Brene Brown, says, “If we don’t share our stories, we can’t fully heal.”

She is referring to those stories that live in our bodies, the stories that wake us up in the night, the stories woven together to make us who we are.

What does it mean to share your story?

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Are you left with a paralyzing sense of fear? Do you hear that phrase and say, “I don’t have a story. Nothing really important has happened to me. My story isn’t like the stories you read in books, I haven’t had anything tragic happen to me.” You think this and then don’t share your story.

And it lives inside of you and you don’t heal.

What if sharing your story isn’t what you think it is? What if it isn’t writing a memoir or standing in front of an audience mesmerizing them with the gripping details of your life.

Because I don’t believe this is what she meant when she wrote this. I believe she meant sharing your experience and YOUR experience matters. Your everyday life experiences.

How did certain things in your life affect you? When did you fall in love for the first time or had your heart broken? What was it like when you had your first child or your first miscarriage?

Your story is unique because it is coming from your viewpoint. And that matters. And in the telling of our stories, the good, the bad, the painful and the devastating, we heal.

I spent most of my life running from my story. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want it to be mine. Because my story was going to change and I was going to be perfect. Perfect did not include messy stuff like feelings sadness and anger. Perfect included a tidy little life that I could control. Those past hurts and betrayals? Not mine. Locked away in a place deep in my body that I wouldn’t touch. But with locking away the bad, I also locked away the ability to feel the good too. A controlled and predictable life doesn’t offer room for the full range of emotions. It left me numb and gray.

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.” 
 Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

When I began to tell my stories, and even now when I allow those who I trust into the pain or joy of each story, it doesn’t live in me.

And I heal. And you will too.

I did end up telling my story in a book, but what people forget and I often forget is every day is a new story. My book was only a snippet of an ongoing story. Each new day offers new experiences. New pain and sorrow create a different path to the story already in progress. But when we don’t share these stories or when we tidy them up to look a certain way on Facebook or to others, we can’t heal.

We pay a price in not fully being who we are.

Because when we are real and vulnerable (with the right people), we don’t realize, not only are we healing but also we are offering this to others.

This is not something new or something Brene Brown simply made up, this is something that she concluded through years of researching people sharing their most vulnerable stories.

We tell stories.

That is how we connect and grow and live.

We share our vulnerabilities with others who can hold our story.

Sometimes it has to first start in the safe environment of a therapist’s office, but the hope is that it can be told in safe relationships in ones own life.

This, in my opinion, is what life is all about. The telling, the living, and the sharing of stories.

I love the stories of the woman at Target, but even more amazing is the stories I witness every single day with patients working to break free from addiction. In sharing their stories in a safe environment, they heal.

So what is the cost of you not sharing your story? What is the payment you make each day by not sharing with someone the wonderful,  horrible and even mundane things that you have experienced? There is a price. And usually you are the one paying it.

So won’t you share your story today?

Tell someone how you feel, tell someone a story about something you experienced, open up and let life flow out of you in the sharing of your own experiences.

 I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” 
― Brené Brown

That, my friends, is how you heal.

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Xo

Lee

For more information check out Storyline.

5 Life Lessons Learned From the Apple Genius Bar

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

My I-phone is having technical difficulties. Strange problems that I can’t seem to figure out. It turns off for no reason, the screen flashes on and off and even Siri yells out at very inappropriate times, “May I help you!”

So I begrudgingly made my appointment for the “Genius Bar” at the Apple store. Have you ever been to this magical place? This place with soft lighting, beautiful shiny gadgets and a room full of super smart people ready to help you?

Who knew that walking into an Apple store could be such a profound experience, but it was.

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Here are 5 things I learned about life from the Apple Genius Bar.

1. Ask for help. For days I pressed buttons and fooled around with this little device trying to figure out what was wrong. I even stuck a paper clip in one of the holes, hoping I could fix it myself. I wanted to fix it myself. I wanted to be able to say …see I can keep up with this high tech world we live in now! But the reality is, it just doesn’t come naturally like it does for these younger kids who have grown up on devices. It took my genius boy a mere two minutes to diagnose what was wrong with my phone. How often do we waste time trying to solve our own problems, when what we need is to ask for help? By asking for help we quickly receive a different perspective a different life experience to offer us insight.

2. Everyone has a junk drawer. As I waited for help, I watched the other employees do their jobs and noticed these large silver drawers along the walls. While the store is clean and immaculate, I realized these drawers are where the “stuff” is. I saw technicians putting anything and everything in those drawers. They were full of gadgets, cords and old laptops. Apple stores have a junk drawer. Everyone has one and everyone needs a place to store all that stuff.  Emotional and literal. Even when a person or a place looks like it has it “all together”, remember… they have a “junk drawer” too. They have problems and struggles just like the rest of us. Don’t be fooled by outside appearances.

3. Technology has created more work for us, not less. The amount of time I spend goofing around on my phone, checking Facebook Twitter, and Instagram and not answering emails/voicemails/messages is obnoxious. While the phone is meant to help us be more connected and be more efficient, it only makes me feel more paralyzed by the amount of to-do’s and things I haven’t gotten done.

4. Learn to love your job. These people love their jobs. Maybe they don’t and this is just what they show the customer, but it feels like they do. It feels like they really enjoy helping us un-tech savvy people find solutions. Every time I have been to the genius bar, (and believe me, I spend a lot of time there) I feel heard. I feel understood and not judged for my inability to understand this little gadget, and I walk out feeling taken care of. There is a contagious effect of being around someone who acts as if they love their job.

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5. Turn off your phone. Not having my phone work for days has been really lovely. Yes, I have felt a sense of panic wondering if my kids needed me or if someone was trying to reach me. I missed nothing. Everything could wait. The people in front of me needed my attention much more than the device could.

After leaving the store, my phone fixed in a mere few minutes, I felt better. I felt taken care of. I know, silly, but this is how it felt. And it was free. FREE! Genius bar is just that. Genius.

Sometimes life’s little lessons are right in front of us, and we just need to look around and notice them.

Xo

Lee

5 Reasons Why I Am Ok Putting Oreos In My Child’s Lunch Box…And You Should Too!

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

When I was a kid, my lunchbox included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Twinkies, and chocolate milk.  My after school snack was two butter soaked pieces of bread with about a pound of cinnamon and sugar on top.

It was awesome.

And now here we are in 2015 and a four-year-old’s mom is being reprimanded for sending her daughter to schol with Oreos.

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While it no longer is acceptable in our society to have Twinkies every day, I fear the pendulum has swung too far to the other side.

We are creating a culture of fear in our young children; and this is very dangerous. This is the letter the mom received. 

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We have become a culture of food shaming where the headlines pound the messages into our heads about healthy eating, healthy living, healthy food, and for the love of God don’t eat Oreos or you will get fat! And fat is bad. Fat is to be feared. And well if you are fat you will find yourself bullied and shamed in this society of the skinny ideal.

The train is out of control and we need to slow it down. Because what people don’t realize is the more we talk about obesity the more fuel to the fire for eating disorders.

America is suffering from two serious health crises that initially seem contradictory. Levels of obesity have risen to epidemic proportions in recent decades, while the high frequency of eating disorders has become cause for serious concern. Healthcare professionals are now charged with the difficult task of simultaneously fighting two diseases located on opposite ends of the health spectrum. While the diseases may seem antithetical, recent findings have shown that they may, in fact, stem from the same source: a fundamental problem within American culture that has injured the way Americans think about food, exercise, and their own bodies. American society is not suffering from two distinct health problems. It is experiencing two symptoms of one serious cultural disorder.” – Harvard Politics

In the 90′s when media focused so much on how bad fat was for you, I began to fear it. It switched something in me that instead of focusing on my feelings and what was going on in my life, fat became the enemy. And I wouldn’t eat a single thing with fat in it. To eat it meant I was bad. And because almost everything has fat in it, I ate almost nothing.

And almost died.

I wrote about this struggle in my book, Table In The Darkness – A Healing Journey Through an Eating Disorder.

Do I think this can happen to young kids? Yes. I have seen it happen. Over and over again, watched little boys and little girls walk into the treatment center where I work. Fearing food. Fearing getting fat. Fearing eating.

Gaining weight is the #1 fear of teenage girls over losing their parents or getting cancer.” - National Eating Disorders Association

We need to take a step back and realize what is important here.

First, the little girl had a sandwich and string cheese in her lunch. Oreos is a fine dessert. Sure, not for every day, not for every meal. But, in moderation it will be ok.

5 Reasons why I am ok putting Oreos in my child’s lunch box: 

1. Food is fuel. Instead of focusing on your child’s sugar/fat/Oreo intake…help them to recognize how they feel. Ask them if they have more energy when they eat chips or when they eat let’s say …and apple with peanut butter. Help them recognize the energy level of certain foods as they are used in their bodies. Just like fuel in a car.

2. Stop using the words “Good and bad” with food. When we attach emotions to food, young children are unable to separate the idea that they aren’t “bad” just because they ate an Oreo. Take that vocabulary out of your family conversations.

3. Model healthy behavior. Healthy behavior that includes moderation, normal eating and healthy exercise.

Research has shown time and time again that the same-sex parent is the most important role model for a child. So when it comes to weight and body issues, Sim has strong opinions on what mothers should be doing. Zero talk about dieting, zero talk about weight, zero comments not only about your daughter’s weight, obviously, but zero talk about your weight and even other people’s weight.” – Mayo Clinic 

4. There are so many kids that don’t even have school lunch. What is wrong with our society that we think THIS is so important? How about we focus on those children who don’t even have access to peanut butter!

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 15.8 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences.” – Feeding America 

5. Oreos and Milk are from heaven. You can (and probably will) argue with me all day about what is in Oreos, that rats found them addictive (which I disagree with), and that kids shouldn’t be eating them. And I will tell you this: Oreos dipped in milk are straight from heaven. Sure, not for your main meal and sure not 10 of them. But in moderation, let the kid have a couple of Oreos! Life is too short not too.

If you think healthy eating can’t get out of hand, an eating disorder that continues to rise is Orthorexia. Yes, healthy eating CAN go too far.

I hope that mother threw a fit about this situation and I hope we all can learn from this situation too.

I also hope that you all will adopt these five strategies in your own home!

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xo

Lee

What Jodi Picoult Forgot

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for LifeLee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

She walked on the stage with a bubbling energy, her curly red hair bouncing as she walked. Six of us writers sat in the dark theatre excited to hear Jodi Piccoult tell us about her writing practice, to tell us what life is like for her as a famous author. We wanted to know; how on earth she cranks out so many books so quickly, how she created her characters, what keeps her inspired?

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She began to tell us some of these things. She began to talk, so rapidly that I sat in my seat not breathing. Holding my breath because it seemed as if she was holding hers. Why isn’t she breathing? Why isn’t she pausing as she talks? I wondered. Why is there such a rapidness to her speech that I find myself almost panicked?

Because she had forgotten something.

You know that feeling when you forget something? You forget an appointment, you forget where you put your keys, or even you have forgotten to set your alarm. It is a panicky breathless feeling that makes you open your eyes wide and makes your heart race.

Jodi had forgotten something. I don’t know if she knew she had, but I could see it. I could see it in her; the way she would overexxagerate her hands, the way she would toss her head back as if she had a crown on it, and the way she shuffled in her own shoes.

She forgot what it was like to be human.

Forgot what it was like to be us, the writers in the audience wondering…do I have a story to tell? Can I write to influence the world? Can I ever publish a book?

She forgot the feeling of sitting down in the chair and despising everything that pours out. She forgot the anxiety of hoping you won’t be rejected again by another agent or another publisher.  She forgot what it feels like to not sell books, she forgot what it feels like to wonder if anyone will ever read or care about your work.

So she continued on with her haughty affect and her flipping of the hair. She continued on with her stories of African adventures, her investigative reporting with detectives, and even why we should all love elephants.

She spent almost 40 minutes trying to convince us WHY we should love elephants. Really?  I have enough to worry about and now I need to start worrying about elephants?

She made sure we knew which fancy colleges her children attended and how Hollywood will listen to her now, because well…she is all that.

I wanted to see the person behind the fame. I wanted to see human. I wanted to know what it was actually like for her to have a child with an illness, her inspiration for My Sister’s Keeper. I wanted to hear what this is like for her family. I wanted to know if she is ever afraid she might not have any more words left to write.

I wanted to see her be her, the person.

But, she forgot.

I walked out with my friends and finally exhaled and I said this, “Don’t let me ever forget. Don’t let me ever forget the struggle of being human. Don’t let me ever forget that we are all in this together. That we need each other, and that I am no better than you. Don’t let me ever do that!”

And my sweet friend responded, “Don’t worry, if you do, I will kick your ass.”

We need each other.

I wanted to yell out, “Maybe you think you don’t need us anymore, but underneath the facade I can see you aren’t breathing. It is a lot to carry a reputation and a career like yours on your shoulders!” (Don’t worry…I didn’t do that!)

I am sorry you forgot Jodi. I am disappointed that you couldn’t show us who you really are. That you couldn’t take off the mask of fame and stardom to step down from your pedestal to be human.

We need each other. And the fame maybe makes you think you don’t need us anymore, but underneath the facade I could see your weren’t breathing.

I hope eventually you will remember!

xo

Lee

Why I Am Done With Jealousy and You Should Be Too!

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

I am done with envy.

Finished with jealousy.

Cleaning it out of my life. No more. Goodbye.

I never got a Cabbage Patch Kid nor was a part of Brownies. These two things have rubbed me the wrong way my entire life. Why didn’t I ever get that squishy chubby faced doll and why didn’t I ever have the opportunity to wear that cute little brown sash over my shoulder?

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I was left out. Less than.

I attribute my inability to snuggle and cuddle to not having one of those sweet dolls. I attribute my lack of fashion sense and in ability to work well with others because I was never a Brownie.

Ewwww. These are gross thoughts to even be saying out loud. But…we all have these spots in our lives that keep us stuck.

Yes, first world problems. I get it. But, I don’t believe I am alone.

I want more more more.

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Never enough, always striving and doing until we fall down exhausted in our beds. Living the dream right?

We as women often act like we are in the Hunger Games, as I wrote about HERE.

I could blame it on the media, blame it on how I was parented, but it really all comes down to how I view the world.

And the truth is…envy, jealousy, and always wanting more leave me feeling really sluggish. Not green like people say green with envy, but sluggish and mushy and slimy. Icky.

Spring break this year put me over the edge. Sent me back to the day of Christmas morning when everyone BUT me had a Cabbage Patch Doll. The Facebook feed was overflowing with beautiful sunsets, dolphin kisses, and fruity drinks. As a Minnesotan who has spent the last six months in the frozen tundra, it makes sense to get out and bask in the sunshine. But it felt as if the rest of the world was on a beach and I was stuck inside my dirty house with three whiny bored kids.

I was insanely jealous.

So why not stop looking at the Facebook feed? Why not make lemons out of lemonade? Instead I was paralzyed by my jealousy.

I started questioning myself and I realized that I was almost feeding off it; the pictures and the jealousy, letting it fuel my fire to prove once again these two things:

1. I was missing out.

2. I wasn’t good enough.

How does any of this pining after what others have or are doing make me feel good?

It doesn’t. And it is a big fat waste of energy.

So how do you stop it?

Turn your mind. Change the lens.

I sat my old self down and said, “Knock it off.”

Then I chose gratitude.

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I started looking around at what I had. I started paying attention to what was right in front of me. And my family got off the couch and went and spent time together.

We didn’t need a beach. That was an excuse for me to stay in my misery. We needed time together doing stuff. We went rock climbing, roller skating, and best of all had meals together. It was so much fun.

I stopped looking over the fence at what everyone else was doing, and began (again…as this is a process) to pay attention to what was in my fence and find gratitude for it.

Then I changed my view…changed how I look at the pictures and the stories of others. Instead of, “Why can’t I?” or “Oh I wish!” I look through the pictures and say or write, “Look at them! Look at what they are doing. That is so wonderful. Yay for them!”

Celebrating others successes, celebrating with others for their joys is so much more fun than wishing it was mine.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuation.”Steve Jobs

I am enough. I have enough. And I want to live in a world of …YAY YOU! Good Job and keep going friend! 

Not a world of competition and jealousy.

I am done with it. Kaput. Sayonara. Won’t you join me?

“To be nobody but  yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” – E. E. Cummings 

Here is a great article on this topic if you want to read more!

Press onward friends; be each other’s ALLY running together side-by-side saying YAY YOU!!

Xo

Lee