Chapter 25: I have a Voice

Chatty. Loquacious. Opinionated

However you put it, I was born with the innate ability to talk… a lot.  I public speak all day in front of my students, I give workshops around the province to fellow teachers, I will bring conversation to a silent room.

Contrary to my natural born tendencies, I am still learning to give voice to my own true, wants, needs, and emotions. Recently I have began supporting a young woman as she starts her own journey of recovery. These conversations with her have brought to light the true fact that I still hide parts of myself; I lock away my stresses and anxieties, silencing my voice.

Why? Fear.

Fear of being REJECTED
Fear of being a BURDEN
Fear of being deemed NEEDY
Fear of being seen as TOO EMOTIONAL or DRAMATIC

This is a strong, but a false narrative I have chosen to hold onto, one I am working to erase and rewrite. Just as I have put the work in to be love my physical self, I must also put the work in to love and appreciate my emotional self.

These FEARS hold my truth captive, taking value away from the voice and freedom they provide me. Although my rational side holds strong to the belief that I am not able to control the actions or reactions of others, just of my own, my insecurities hold onto ‘assumed’ responses. This assumption, unfair to both myself and to others.

I am setting forward with the outlook that regardless of actions or reactions towards my truth, that it is something worth being shared and heard – I know from experience the freedom that comes with speaking my truth.

Take a moment today to reflect on what parts of yourself you silence out of fear.
What can you give voice to today?
What part of yourself can you honour?

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Chapter 24: A lesson in patience

My Gramma calls me, her  ‘Maggie Thatcher”


Words to describe Sarah… Loud, a pit bull, independent, educator, adventurer, spirited, a spit fire, stubborn, kind. But, Patient, to those who really know me, patient, has not often been a word used to describe my nature.

For as long as I can remember I have placed a lot of pressure on myself to be successful; to get shit done, to bull doze through challenges and adversity head on! I’ve been told by many that I take on too much, not just burning the proverbial candle at both ends, but torching them to oblivion. This mentality, this, go big or go home approach to my life resulted in a breadth of understanding and experiences, but a depth of nothing at all.

Although I would not wish bulimia on anyone, this rebuilding and rediscovering of my life armed me with a fortress of amazing people and strategies, that nurture a foundation of personal growth and kindness. On a grand scale, I truly see learning and growth as beautiful non-linear processes, and amongst friends I like to believe that I nurture this ideal; that I encourage patience and self reflection. But, SPOILER ALERT! Hopping on the bandwagon human tendencies, I often disregard the need to apply the practice of patience to my own life.

Upon entering 2019, I thought I had it all figured out. My life felt balanced. I felt the strongest emotionally, physically, and spiritually that I ever felt. I felt HAPPY!

But in an instant, a simple blow to the head placed me into a state of physical, cognitive, and social, stillness. Literally and figuratively, my ability to balance was put to the test.

I had a concussion.

With this one swift move, the universe forced me into a non-negotiable, non-optional LESSON IN PATIENCE. My identity felt ripped away. The pieces of myself that I hold so close to my heart were no longer accessible.

Sarah the pit bull.
Sarah the adventurer.
Sarah the educator.
Sarah the social butterfly.
Sarah the independent

Now, Sarah the still. Sarah the housebound.

All that I love to fill my life triggered symptoms.

  • Teaching felt unnatural, as my vision would tunnel and blur with every word. My eyes and mind no longer in sync
  • Hiking or climbing non optional as an adventure to my kitchen felt like braving the untamed seas of a hurricane.
  • Socializing sent me into a spin of dizzy. I was a conversationalist no more.

My spirit felt CAGED and this loss of identity acted as a trigger to a world I was all to familiar with. In a moment of veiled emotion I relapsed. My fight began again.

In order to heal, I had to submit to the universes will.

For years I have fought against each attempt the universe put forward to teach me the value of patience, the value of rest. I had allowed fear of weight gain, external judgement, and preconceived expectations to pigeon hole my frame of thinking, and catalyst me forward in my fast paced life.

Concussion: a mild traumatic brain injury.

Treatment protocol: Time, Concussion Rehabilitation Clinic, and a whole lot of ACCEPTANCE, PATIENCE, and SELF AWARENESS.

This process came not without tears fuelled by untethered emotion, my blood boiled with frustration and anger. My brain could not keep up with all my spirit wanted to do.

The teacher who could not read or write.
The academic who lacked focus and attention.
The active who was house bound.
The social who was silenced.


I had to ACCEPT that this temporary pause in my life, was just that, temporary – a hard pill to swallow. Contrary to my pit bull mentality, pushing myself through pain and symptoms would send me into a vicious repetition of crash and burn. I had to be PATIENT with the non linear process, respecting the needs of my mind and body and becoming so AWARE of my symptoms that I could push into them just enough to increase my stamina and endurance without spiralling into unfathomable fatigue.

I am now 12 weeks post concussion, wrapping up 6 weeks of ‘in clinic’ Concussion Rehabilitation. As I begin my gradual return to work, my stamina is increasing and my recovery continues. Moments of tears lessoning as my patients with the process becomes a daily commitment, and I begin to feel more and more myself.

Universe, I get it.
I have learned my lesson, I have heard you loud and clear.
Patience, we can be friends.

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Chapter 23: A lesson taught. A lesson learned


A lesson given as a teacher became a lesson I needed for myself… vulnerability

My love of transparency has me admitting that just as the number on the scale once defined me, the number of days purge free became my keeper of pride.

In my current state I have found myself unforgiving, and suppression of truth has become a battle tactic against admittance of struggle. For judgement and failure are two words I have chosen to hold on to, two words that strangle the livelihood I have worked hard to regain, two words I am working to let go of.

The truth is that I have worked hard to regain the power I had once given my scale, and the broken number of my ‘freedom stint’ brought shame. Reunited with a familiar hesitancy towards food and a draw toward isolation, came the return of a once identity engrained routine.

Although very short lived, it is hard to again breathe the pain of history you wish you had learned enough from not to repeat.

After a discussion with my students about vulnerability I am reminded that I too must practice this art. I identify learning as a non linear journey,  but I admit that in relation to my own recovery I am often ashamed when the trajectory of my journey tends south.

This present state of deja vu has forced me to embrace that the entity of change I so often associate with stress and fragility, is the very entity that gives me strength to step forward. For just as my surroundings succumb daily to the constancy of change, I too have changed.

Here is my truth. Through my lens of hypocrisy I have allowed change and vulnerability to act as seeds of stress and isolation in my life, while encouraging others to embrace these to beautiful entities as opportunities for learning, self reflection and growth.

My figurative fall has allowed me to see with clarity and truth.
I will always have work to do, learning to be had, truths to be told.
As I stand to move forward, I recognize that my practices of yoga and self reflection are not ones that are to be set aside when I feel I am “healed”, for they are what allow me to keep aligned.  I recognize that my drive for exploration, life balance, learning, and connection must be what guide my decision making.

The feeling of ‘off centre’ is the universe guiding me back to these practices that I find myself neglecting as a I walk busy through life.

Oh how a discussion can trigger a train of thought you’d been avoiding.  I ask my students to be vulnerable and be brave daily.

Today it was my turn.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our
lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky
but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on  love and belonging and joy—
the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.
Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ― Brené Brown 








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Chapter 22: This sh*t takes work


There will be a time when I will no longer keep track.
For now. Each day counts. Each day I learn.
200 days. 

How did I get to this point?

The point where the once knee buckling guilt of a sweet treat is overtaken by sentiments of self worth.

The point where that ‘veil of darkness’  equivalent to the mind controlling powers of super villains is shattered with the commitment of self belief.

The point where the once snowball effect of a rough day melts with the warmth of self love.

This Sh*t takes time.

Recovery for me has come in waves.
Periods of calm energy allowing my body, mind and spirit to heal, and periods of what feels like an uncontrollable and destructive energy breaking away my layers of resilience.

Overtime that resilience can strengthen, learning from the patterns of the waves.

It is true.
I still have had to fend the burdening thoughts body shame.
I still have lived days cherishing the lifeless sensation of starvation.
I still have felt frustrated and misunderstood fearing the entity of food that serves my livelihood.

BUT. My dark days are few and far between. The thoughts of self doubt have become fleeting and weak. Old habits are easily rendered powerless with strategies of self love and support. 

This Sh*t takes energy
Yes. It can sometimes suck.
Yes. It can be exhausting.
Emotionally, mentally, physically exhausting.

But how… 
I practice the art of self reflection. Confronting my emotional turbulence with brutal honesty. I learned to own my actions and reactions,  the lies I manifest, the excuses I make. I allow myself time and space to cry, in honour of all my emotions.

I am an active participant, the ultimate creator and decision maker. I am the powerhouse behind my own happiness, the driving force of choice in how I move forward.
I am the initiator of my actions and reactions.

I allow myself to not be okay.  In solitude or amongst my trusted I give permission for vulnerability and truth, for conversations, journalling and even tears act as freedom.

I get out. the wilderness is a place of healing. It is where the world slows down, where my breath feels deep and full, where I am free. I heal in the wild.

This Sh*t takes Support
I could not and have not done this alone. 

Opening up, removing my mask to reveal the raw pain and emotions that I might be covering with a smile. Bringing down the walls of shame and guilt. Braving the fear of being judged or misunderstood. I have learned that mental health challenges thrive and flourish with isolation. I will no longer give it power because I ashamed or scared. We are stronger together than apart.

To the supporters out there…

You may not understand the mental exhaustion it can take to tame and silence the voices of self doubt.
You may not fully grasp our relationship with food or the distorted view we see in the mirror.

Support is not about understanding.

Support is caring enough to say it is okay to not be okay.

“I don’t understand, but I don’t have to”
P.Grydziuszko. My support.

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Chapter 21: The end. The Beginning. I am happy.


The irony.
That it took a period of utter chaos for me to find my balance.
That it took existing in darkness for me to find my own light.

Honestly, this was not a story I ever thought I’d tell.
It was not a reality I ever imagined I would exist in.
Bulimia was a symptom of a deeper rooted sentiment towards myself.

I always believed myself to be a confident individual, and I feel those around me would corroborate that statement.
I have always been quite loud and ‘fearless’.
I bring an aura of life loving adventurer, and strong self esteem, and passion.
But the truth is that beneath that surface I long struggled with self doubt and fear of failure.

Through this period of learning, I have come to understand that for a majority of my life I have linked my self worth to external factors. My state of happiness did not come from within, it was not deep rooted to my core. My happiness was surface level and dependent on the views, judgements, and actions of others.

But Today. I don’t just choose happy, I live happy, and I am happy. I live a sincere happiness rooted in a true understanding of my own self worth. I breathe a sense of relief, realizing I am alive and powerful.

I embraced the learning.
I cried the tears.
I felt the pain.
I put in the work.
I step forward with strength not only in myself, but in numbers, for I am never alone. 

 My soul has been trying to set itself free,  to be release from the hold I allowed preconceived expectations to have on my happiness and my self worth. Finally I have listened. My heart for so long has been wanting me to follow it, to live for me, to live without fear.

I feel and honour each emotion.
I live with adventure and openness.
I surround myself with people who inspire and support.

I am free.
I am happy.

To those who may feel lost.
Remember. You are all like the sun, everyday we will rise without fault. There is a bright and powerful light behind overcast you feel. Your energy is felt, you are not alone.
It takes time, commitment, and vulnerability to get to a place where you feel at peace.
I wont lie, sometimes it really sucks.
It can be exhausting.
But with every period of dark I felt, the light behind it, my energy, became that much more profound.  



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Chapter 20: Dear Dictator…

Dear Dictator,

The bulimic stops a habitual purge.
The anorexic eats at every meal.
The orthorexic has a treat.

There is a common misconception that once an individual with an eating disorder is finally eating regularly, their battle is over. In fact, recovery is a ongoing process of rebuilding relationships within ones self, a daily effort sometimes struggle, to stifle a dysfunctional way of thinking that has become deeply engrained within you as an unnatural instinct.

I am a recovering bulimic with two “beliefs” about food that are in constant battle. One, a belief that food as an element of survival, it is a source nourishment for my soul, an entity that gives me energy to adventure. And two, a “belief” that was not willfully engrained but consciously held on to, that food is an enemy, something to restrict and to control, something that makes me feel sick and fat.

Prior to seeking support for my eating disorder, my relationship with food was very clear cut. My input had to be less than my output, my food choices were extreme, treats were cheats. Food was the catalyst for weight gain not for every day survival. Food was the dictator of many: my social life, my decision making, the very person I saw in the mirror.

I have worked hard to silence the voice of the dictator, to become aware of it and recognize the lies it tells me. There are still moments I crave an empty stomach, consciously have to give myself permission to treat, and convince myself to eat. Although the voice of my dictator may be dampened amidst the cheering of self love, it still exists.

The voice of the dictator weakens as the voice of self love grows stronger. 

Although I recognize that I am human and that learning is a non linear process, it is behind a veil of guilt and shame that I admit I have had recent trials and tribulations with my dictator. The battle is over, the dictator has triumphed.

Recovering from these moments are extremely painful; emotionally, mentally, and physically. I have given in to the dysfunctional habit and now am having to pull myself from the trenches where the voice of the dictator saturates my surroundings.  Physically, I feel myself being pulled down into the darkness as I work to see an honest reflection of myself in the puddles of tears that lay in front. My body shutters with weakness fighting the grip of my dysfunction as it attempts to drag me into isolation. It is a mental and emotional battle working to differentiate between the voice of the addictive dictator and the truth. With every fibre of my soul I have to work to find my balance again. Its exhausting. I’m exhausted.

Please do not pity or lose hope. For in these moments, where I feel myself slipping, the hands of friends interlace with mine reminding me of the strength and self love I have within, and that if only I embraced and allowed it to be unleashed without restraint, may my dictator be silenced.

Dear dictator, I now walk beyond the trenches. Your rein of power is now over.

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Chapter 19: The Summit

IMG_2193The Summit. 

The moment you break through the tree line, scramble the last peak, and stand still, breathing in an unobstructed view of a city as it comes to life with the rising sun. The moment in your recovery where you feel you can be still, without fear of relapse. The moment you can let it all sink in and breathe away the fatigue you’ve lived leading up to this point. 

My summit brings me a sense of ownership. I think now more than ever I am at a point in my recovery where I am truly owning my role and my choice of mindset. Owning the moments I convinced myself I was okay, moments I blamed relapses on external stress factors, or moments I distorted my valued definition of health in order to restrict. This summit is honouring the strength that it took to persist through times of deep and sincere suffering, to pull myself from isolation, and to forgive myself enough to begin again.

My summit has brought me clarity. I have reached a full understanding of where I am in my recovery. I can pin point the negative voices as they attempt to leach into my thoughts. I am utterly aware when my own self doubt and sensitivity influences my reactions with loved ones. I am cognizant of the shame I still hold because food is sometimes still a point of anxiety and that self love is still an effort. These points of clarity allow me to continue my learning, to deepen my understanding of myself.

My summit has uncovered my inner strength and bravery. To move forward into unknown with confidence and without fear of failure. Bravery to open up emotionally, and to take steps to pursue a life I have always dreamed for myself, without fear of judgment.

As I look out from my summit, at the world as it slowly comes to life with the rising sun, I have an appreciation for my journey and to the individuals who gave space and support as I worked to find inner strength amongst the pain and hopelessness brought on by doubt.

Your summit is there, beyond the trees, beyond the clouds of self doubt. Walk your journey one step at a time. Appreciate those rare rays of sun that bend their way through the branches and warm your face, those are reminders that a summit does exist and is within your reach.

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Chapter 18: I give you permission…

A recent conversation with some friends has surfaced a truth for me.
Although the last few months have been filled with amazing opportunities, adventure, and love, emotionally I have felt extremely off balance.
I have been pushing myself, driving through bad days without sharing them.
Distracting myself with ‘busy’ instead of honouring emotional turmoil that was causing distress within.

But the truth is, although I have developed the capacity to choose happy, sometimes these choices are rooted in pure will power not to feel like a failure. A drive to recover.
I felt ashamed of the sadness and self doubt that surfaced as a result of certain events in my life. In my head, I had no right or reason to feel sadness or self doubt. In my head, I should be okay.

I have been reminded of the importance to give myself time and space to honour ALL emotions. That suppressing and fighting through emotions instead of dealing with them is exhausting. It is during times of exhaustion that my old habits have opportunity to sink its teeth in, taking advantage of my emotional fog to reek havoc. If I TRULY want to be my happy self, I need to honour and allow myself to feel the emotions that exist on the other side of the spectrum.

Dear Self,

It is okay. It is okay to still have bad days. You are human.

But Sarah, if you are struggling, it is time to put yourself first. When you honour and love yourself, you have more to give to others in their journey. When you honour yourself and your emotions, you feel balanced and happy.

I give you permission.
I give you permission to NOT be okay.
I give you permission to take time and to ask for help without feeling shame.

Remember you are like the sunrise, without fault you rise each day, and even when clouded by doubt the strength of who you are exists and supports you.

Love yourself. Be kind to yourself.

Love, Sarah

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Chapter 17: Alignment.

Choice is an amazing concept.

Recently I have began to embrace the full power and influence of choice, recognizing that my life, my energy, my world, is a reflection of how I choose to act or react, how I choose to think, even how I am choose to feel…

I want my LIFE to be a REFLECTION of what I VALUE. 

My truth.
In the past the main force driving my decision making has been fear and perceived expectations of what I thought SARAH should be. I never felt I had a choice. BUT, I say perceived, because the expectations that drove my choices were intrinsically manifested, a web of stories I created on my own.

But now…
When I think of moments I have felt the happiest, moments in my life that have been an honest and authentic reflection of my true self, they have been moments my choices have aligned with my values


Those moments I’ve felt broken hearted, hopeless or succumb with a feeling of defeat and exhaustion, I am reminded that I have CHOICE. Choice to learn and move forward towards happiness, or remain stagnant and unhappy. It is important to honour and value all emotional experiences. To honour when I feel sad, and allow myself to experience that emotion, but it is my choice whether or not I let those emotions dictate and become a source of overwhelming power and influence.

Close friends have reminded me that although choices are my own, they sure has hell aren’t always easy. I have days when hourly I am having to convince myself to shift my thinking, to regain perspective. Moments when I look in the mirror and feel to the depths of my soul I want to return to my old habits. But it is the ability to be self aware, to recognize those triggers and fight against them no matter how challenging, that I now see as a CHOICE.

Choices are INTENTIONAL.
Choices create your reality.
When CHOICE align with VALUES… imagine the magic.

I challenge you think reflect on what motivation grounds your choices and drives your decision making?

What did you come up with?…. Is it time to make some adjustments?

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Chapter 16: Fear

Don’t get me wrong, with any decision, taking a thoughtful approach and understanding the whole picture is a responsible and valuable process… But when choosing whether to do or not do something, if “FEAR OF…” is stopping you, it may be time to reevaluate the root of that fear…

It has become very apparent to me that FEAR is an internal dictator waiting to seize a position of power at any given moment.

Fear, if we allow it, can thwart opportunity as it hooks its teeth into that which is held closest to us, but fear only has power if we allow it…

What I have learned is that often fears that paralyze us from moving forward are lies, lies we convince ourselves to be the truth, to be a reality… A false reality created out of self doubt.

Fear of failure. Fear of inadequacy. Fear of missing out. Fear of being forgotten. Fear of judgment.

This past year has taught that fear is created from within, therefore fear can be rendered useless from within as well. My fears, rooted in a belief that I wasn’t enough have been silenced as I’ve learn to believe fully in myself. Slowly but surely I have learned to recognize and let of got those fears.

Fear.  I see you. I acknowledge you. But I am letting you go.

What fear are you going to let go of today?


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