And The Sky Didn’t Fall


~ Alexis McDonald, The Wunder Year Blog ~  

My daughter has an eating disorder.

There. I’ve said it. Publicly.

And the sky didn’t fall and the earth didn’t rattle and my heart didn’t stop beating. Though, there have been times in this journey with her that it has felt like it would stop and break in two. There have been times when it felt like there was not another breath left for me to take as I struggled to wrestle under control this disease that threatened to take her away from me.

My daughter has always struggled with being here in this world. As a child she once threatened to go back to heaven. When I asked her, with a smile, “How do you plan on getting there?” her reply made my heart stop beating before it sped into overdrive as my mind tried to grasp how a five year old could even understand the concept of suicide. “I’m going to go into the kitchen and get a knife and stab myself to death. And then you’ll be sorry,” she added with a toss of her curly dark hair and a stomp of her tiny foot where she stood at the top of the stairs looking down at me.

I have taken that proverbial knife out of her hands countless times since that moment 21 years ago. I have rescued her from the edge, pulled her back from the precipice again and again, believing each time that this time she would get it, this time she would see the beauty and wonder that I see in her.

But she didn’t. See what I saw. She saw only the darkness within her. That place of deep regret for being born, that place where her fear of the darkness of oblivion overshadowed her longing for the light.

I was a master at talking her out of the darkness. Talking her back into her senses. There were times when she was a child that I would sit quietly on my bed as she thrashed and screamed and yelled obscenities about life and living, about herself. There were only two rules I insisted she follow in those emotionally charged moments; she was not allowed to leave the confines of the bed until she’d spent her emotions, and she wasn’t to speak out against her sister.

“I don’t love you anymore,” she would cry, and I would respond, “And I don’t love you any less.”

We were a masterful duo. She knew that in her darkest moments I would be the voice of reason, of loving acceptance of who she was, exactly as she was in that moment.

And in our delicate dance, I believed my calm acceptance of all of her, beauty and the beast, was powerful enough to overcome the darkness.

I was not that powerful.

I could not stop her from vanishing before my eyes. Pound by pound. Inch by inch.

I knew it was happening. I knew she was disappearing. And I was helpless.

The disease was stronger than my capacity to call her back into the light. This child whom I had carried in my womb and birthed into being, whose every breath made my heart skip with joy, was lost to me.

It would take my letting go for her to discover her own strength. It would take my letting her walk out the door to set her free.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, I told myself. I wasn’t supposed to have to let her walk away leaving me fearing for her life.

But it didn’t matter how I thought it should be. It was the way it was. We were where we were and I had to let go and trust in the universe, trust in Love, trust in my daughter that she would do whatever it took to find herself – where ever that would be.

“I can’t do this for you anymore,” I told her that night when she pronounced for the umpteenth time she wanted to end her life and I knew I had no words left to convince her to stay.

“Do you have a concrete plan?” I asked her.

“No!” she cried. “I’m going to check myself into emergency. I need help.”

“Yes you do,” I replied. “And I am not the one to give it to you. You need to do this for yourself.”

And she walked out the door and in that action claimed her power to reach out for herself. And in reaching out, she found the strength to keep taking a step forward, and another, and another.

That was a year a half ago.

She has done a lot of healing and counselling and reaching out and speaking up and taking steps in the right direction since then. Sometimes she’s fallen down.

“I can’t stop your falls,” I’ve told both my daughters. “But I can be here to help you when you choose to get back up.”

Today, my daughter is choosing to get back up. She’s choosing life over the disordered eating that almost took her away.

It isn’t easy. I watch her struggle with body image, with the voices in her head that would have her believe she is not worth fighting for. I watch her and stand-by, quietly holding space for love to consume her. And when she reaches out, I reach back. But not until then. I cannot do it for her. Reach out. To do that would be to deny her right to know her own power.

It has been a difficult lesson, this lesson of letting go to let Love be my guide. To accept that all my love cannot prove to her she is loveable. Only she can do that. Believe. In her own worth. All I can do is hold the space for her to fill — with Love, with joy, with laughter and acceptance.

My daughter has an eating disorder. The sky hasn’t fallen, the earth hasn’t quit turning on its axis. And, no matter how much I assert, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way”, I cannot change her or this disease. I can only Love her, exactly the way she is.

I am grateful, today my daughter chooses life. I wasn’t always sure she would, but today I know that whatever choice she makes, she has found her truth and in that truth is Love filling every breath she takes.

*****************February is Eating Disorder Month in Canada. I wrote this blog to support my eldest daughter Alexis, who is one of the most courageous and beautiful human beings I know. If you would like to connect with her — if you have an eating disorder, or fear you or someone you love has an eating disorder, she writes daily about healing and celebrating life at her blog, The Wunder Year

Make it a fresh start Monday!

I know it’s not Sunday, but I re-found this Ted Talk I had listened to some time ago, and posted about on my Recover Your Joy blog in March 2010. I was re-watching it today and thought…. I have to share it with all of you as a ‘let’s make it a fresh start Monday!’

Aimee Mullins is inspiring! If the embedded video doesn’t work please  click HERE  for the video.

What I’ve learned thus far

I did it!  A whole week of not posting here. I did it. And in the process, I’ve written 16,000 words of Lessons in Love!

A fear I had moving into not writing here every morning was that I would fritter away the time, I wouldn’t use it as intended.

Not so!  I can trust myself to make good choices, even when I’m not having to turn up publicly and talk about my choices!

I like that.

What I find more difficult is not reading and commenting on the blogs of all of those with whom I share this space. I miss your words — and still, I know that holding the space for me to write every morning is important. It brings value to my efforts to write this book.

So thank you.

Thank you for your beautiful words. Thank you for your encouragement, support, love. Thank you for understanding, for sharing your own story of what you dream of doing and how you’re going to do it, thank you for knowing, my not commenting on your blogs is not about you, it’s all about me honouring this space I’ve created to write the stories I know I must tell.

I’ve learned something really important this past week. It’s not that I didn’t know it, but this past week has cast a light upon it and given me cause to reflect on what it means to ‘trust myself’.

In choosing the path of limiting my online presence, I have discovered that cutting out something I love to do, while not necessarily easy, opens the door to ‘more’. It creates space for miracles to happen in other ways, that I had not unimagined.

Writing for two hours every morning has reignited my excitement, my energy, my desire to write. And in that writing, I ‘see’ all there is waiting for me to share, to know, to become. I ‘see’ truths never before seen, write words never before written, and uncover ideas never before known.

It’s all rather exciting and in the process, reminds me, as my friend Mark is prone to do, to ‘not take myself so seriously’.

I was taking myself far too seriously. I was falling into the trap of believing there was only one way to do things for me, and that was my way. ha! That just ain’t true. There are hundreds of ways for me to choose to do things — and I was only choosing one way.

In that learning, I open up the possibility of doing this differently again. I open up the possibility of writing here on Sunday’s. Of making this a weekly, rather than a daily blog.

Something else that not writing here daily has re-awakened me to is my love of journalling at night. I had become very inconsistent in doing so and now, I’m once again finding myself on the page at night, pen in hand, the halo of my bedside lamp casting a warm glow over the page of my journal as I let the day flow out. My sleep has become clearer, my dreams more vivid and my memory of them more reliable.

Wonderful gifts!

It’s one of the things I’ve been reminded of this past week — everything holds gifts. Everything holds truth. It’s up to me to discover what holds true for me. What gifts will I treasure? What truths will I unfold?

I treasure the gift of your presence. I treasure the truths we share and discover together. I treasure you.


(See you next Sunday!)

Oh, and… in keeping with one of my favourite activities, to share something I’ve seen or heard that’s moved me, I watched,  a video on film-maker Ken Burns and was moved by his words — in pondering his statement that when Thomas Jefferson wrote that ‘all men are created equal’, he owned, and never saw fit to free, 100 human beings, I was struck by how our beliefs don’t always align with our truth, and how even when we hold one thing true, there is always room for truth to grow. In fact, we need truth to grow within us to align our beliefs with our actions and our truth. To change one thing depends on how willing we are to be open to the possibility.

And…. one thing I have done this week is to continue to write every day a poem.

Blessings and Love on a week of beauty, wonder and love.

Writer at work. Please do not disturb

I have come to a decision. A realization actually and, in its awakening, I have made a decision.

On March 10, 2007, I began writing on my brand, spanking new blog, Recover Your Joy. For the next 5 years I would write almost every day in that space, creating over 1600 posts. My intent when I started Recover Your Joy was to ignite my practice of writing every day. I wasn’t into readership so much as instilling within me the habit of daily writing.

And then, I met all these amazing people — like Maureen at Writing Without Paper, and Joyce at Imagine Joy Art, Diane at Contemplative Photography and Glynn at Faith. Fiction. Friends. There are so many wonderful people I’ve ‘met’ through blogging and as time went on, the daily contact with them began to create a beautiful weave and warp to the tapestry of my life. Blogging no longer became about the habit of writing daily. It became an act of friendship, a means of staying in touch, of keeping myself connected to some pretty incredible people.

And, it became an excuse.

I realized just how much of an excuse it had become when someone asked me the other day, “How’s the book coming?”

Truth is, it’s not.

Oh, of course, I’ve got my excuses. I’m a busy gal you know! What with saving the world and feeding starving children in Africa, and finding a cure for anything that ails humanity, oh and of course, writing a blog every day, I’m a tad distracted.

The book? Well, it’s languishing.

“Oh that’s too bad,” the one who asked me the question said after I told them it was coming, ‘slowly’. “I was looking forward to reading it,” they replied.

Yeah, well. At this pace, that may be never.

And that’s when it struck me. I spend two hours every morning online writing and reading posts. I get up at 5 so I can keep up with my blogging circle. I love it. It is wonderful — but… it’s become my reason for not doing something I want to do. Finish the first draft of Lessons in Love: Everything I know about being human I learned at a homeless shelter.

I am using writing a blog every morning for my reason for not working on my book when seriously… I don’t have to ‘find more time’ to write. I’ve already got the time to write.

It’s not time that’s the issue. It’s what I’m filling my time with that’s the issue.

It’s time to redirect. Refocus. Revamp my writing time.

Which is what the decision is all about. Instead of writing here, I’m going to be writing over there, at my desk, pulling together the pieces of this book that wants to be breathed, and written, into life.

It’s my choice — and that’s what’s so important — writing here has also been my choice. I get to choose differently today.

After 6 years of writing a daily blog, I kinda get that I have a writing discipline. In the writing world, content is king — and I’m queen of my domain.

So… here it is.

I’m taking a hiatus. I’m not going to be writing here daily — I may drop in once a week to say hello, but I kind of think I need to do this cold turkey — I need six months of head down, fingers to the keyboard, to work on my book and I’m gifting myself permission to do just that.

I’m walking my talk. Putting my attention on what I want more of in my life and doing it!

It also means, I won’t be reading and checking other bloggers as much. I need to keep my focus on what I say I want to do — write this book — and not distract myself with reasons why I don’t have time to do the work.

My blogging friend Lisa Rosenberg really drove the point home for me with her blog the other day, Back: A Book revised, a Reading Coming Up — she’d been away for awhile and turned up full of news about the second draft of her book she’d finished and a reading she was doing, and I realized — I need to learn from Lisa’s experience how to put up my “Writer at work. Please do not disturb” sign.

And then I realized — it’s pretty easy.

Just put it up and get to it.

So… I apologize in advance if I’m not commenting on your blogs and keeping up with all your amazing goings-on. I love connecting with each and every one of you, and right now, I need to take a little holiday to create space in my world to live the life of my dreams.

See you soon!

PS — I will be continuing to post my daily poem at A Poetry Affair, as well a photo of what I’ve given away (now that I’m back from being away I’ll be picking that up again).

In the circle – we are magnificent

I am sitting on the ‘floor chair’, my back cushioned by pillows, my knees tucked up towards my chest. I am sitting and listening and feeling my way into stillness.

Oh, not the ‘if I stay absolutely still no one will notice me and I won’t feel afraid of being seen’ kind of stillness that captures me sometimes like a deer standing in the woods every sense hyper-alert just before the moment of fleeing.

No, this is the stillness of deep listening. This is the stillness of being awake and dreaming, awake and aware. Awake and present. This is the stillness of life deeply stirring my soul.

Mark Nepo, whose course The Book of Awakening I am attending, has just shared a poem about sweeping the leaves away to reveal the path.

It is what we do, continually in life, he shares. The path becomes covered with leaves and we must sweep it clear to see where we are going.

“The path is the way and the way is Love,” the voice inside my heart whispers.

I have known this path. I have felt it. Breathed into it. Lived it.

And I have forgotten. Forgotten it is there. Forgotten the way. Forgotten Love.

To believe I will never forget again is to forget I am human.

It is the way. We humans are capricious, forgetful beings.

We know Love is the answer and still we hate.

We know the path to truth encompasses all, and still we push away the inconvenient truths that would block our path to finding the one truth we can live with.

We know there is no one answer to every question and still we search for the one answer that will make sense of the questions we keep asking.

We know. And still we do what we know will not do.

We know. And still we forget that all that we know is nothing compared to the mysteries waiting to unfold when we step on the path beyond our knowing.

We know so much and in that truth is the paradox of our lives. We know so little.

Perhaps though, in all our knowing and unknowing there is one truth we do not know is true because in its knowing, we will have to give up our fear of who we are.

We are all magnificent.

We are born magnificent. Created in and of and around and under and because of our magnificence. We are born this way and then, we forget.

We forget our magnificence and spend our lives trying to remember, or not.

It is our way and the path is our way to remember. And when we take every step in Love, our magnificence shimmers in the light of our awakening to the truth.

I sat on the floor and soaked in the words, the feelings, the emotions, the senses of all who sat in the circle with me and felt my soul stirring to the deep truth my heart was hearing.

There is no escaping our human journey and in that journey, there is no escaping the truth — we are all magnificent.



Everyday A Poem is posted: Today’s poem is — Dreaming Myself Awake

The Divine Nature of Life

It is one of the first things I notice in this magical place by the sea. Inland, caught up in the busy-ness of the city, I have forgotten to breathe. Forgotten to simply be present to my breath moving in and out of my body.

I feel the tightness in my chest. Feel the constrictions against my heart.

I don’t remember when, or how, or why or where I forgot to breathe. I just feel it. The knowledge appears and I feel its truth.

I have forgotten to breathe.

And I begin again.

Always begin again.

It is, as Mark Nepo tells the 40 people gathered in a circle beneath the giant peaked dome of the Festival Hall at The Haven — we move in and out of being present, of being awake.

I take a breath and move into wakefulness.

Perhaps it is this place by the sea. This place where land falls into water and the water rushes up to meet the sky. Where sea otters play along the shore and seagulls caw and swoop down and in and out. Perhaps it is the lush green forest of Arbutus and Pine. Or the lumbering hulk of the ferry passing by every hour, its wake moving out behind it, rippling into shore long after it has sailed from view.

Perhaps it is that in this place, city worries fade into the cacophony of background noises that no longer fill the space between being awake and sleeping. In this place all becomes become part of being awakened to no longer sleeping.

Whatever the reason, in this space I am awakened once again to the ebb and flow of life constantly calling me to be aware, to step with eyes wide open and arms reaching out. Reaching out to hold on and to let go, to let be what is without fearing it will always be, or never be, again and again.

And I begin, again.
Always begin again.

Begin to tell the story, Mark invites us.

Begin to tell the story.

We must begin.

for the story is never completely written, never completely finished even when we are gone. For this story of our life is connected to the universal story of life.

We come into this world to celebrate this most precious gift of being human.

we come into this world to know the sacredness of our life, of each life and in that sacred nature of our being human, we come to know I am is all I need to be.

In a one on one exercise with another woman yesterday, she shared something she’s learned on her journey, “There is nothing I can do here that will destroy the divine nature of my being.”

And I felt my heart break open. I felt the breath rush from my body and then back in like waves crashing endlessly against the shore washing away memory of what came before the wave breaking against the shore.

“There is nothing I can do here that will destroy the divine nature of my being.”

There is nothing I can do that will destroy the divine nature of life.

And there is much that we can and do, to destroy life.

It is time to begin again. To stop destroying life and to start celebrating it.

Collectively, there is much we can do to celebrate, to cherish, to nurture life. There is much we can do to create space for life to dance beneath the sun and moon and stars.

There is much we can do.

And always, when we find ourselves holding our breath, we must begin again to breathe life into every moment.


The island calls me

I flew from Saskatoon to Calgary to Vancouver. Spent an hour in the airport at Calgary and laughed because I was home and on my way all at the same time.

This morning, my girlfriend who is taking the course with me, and I are off to Gabriola Island.

And that’s all she wrote!

The day awaits. The unexpected lays in waiting and I am open to its arrival.

Must run.

More when I return. I’ve got a dream to unfold, a book to finish and plans in the making.

Blessings on the rest of your week.


This is Life! Isn’t it grand!

Ellie and I drove to Saskatoon on Friday so she can have a week at ‘the spa’ with her master, my beloved C.C., and I can fly off to Vancouver and then Gabriola Island today so I can have a week at The Haven  with… Mark Nepo — author and guide of The Book of Awakening.

Ask me if I’m excited.

Okay, I’ll tell you anyway. Yes! I’m excited.

Firstly, I love being on Gabriola Island and being at The Haven is pretty darn close to what I imagine heaven on earth to be.

Secondly, the description of the course thrills my heart. It calls to my soul and awakens my imagination.

The workshop will explore our ongoing need to stay vital and in love with this life, no matter the hardships we encounter. It is an invitation to personalize the common and unrepeatable journey we all encounter in being human. Using ancient and contemporary stories, poetry, journaling, and dialogue, Mark will invite participants to befriend their own stories and listen for their own wisdom in this reflective and transformational gathering

I mean seriously, can you imagine anything finer than spending time on the west coast surrounded by the sea and salt air off Vancouver Island? I’ll be immersed in wind and sea air and seagulls cawing and waves lapping and words floating all around, bubbling up out of the ocean waves, cascading down from wet skies and sunny horizons? Can you imagine anything more inspiring than being surrounded by others willing to explore our ongoing need to stay vital and in love with this life?

And with Mark Nepo to boot!

Yup. I am excited.

So is Ellie. She’ll have an adventure — who knows what those two free spirits will get up to in the snow.

‘Cause that’s the other thing that excites me.

Leaving the snow to surround myself with the creaking of towering pines bending against coastal breezes filled with salty brine, the sweet melody of daffodils and crocus peeping their heads up out of the earth in anticipation of spring’s bounty, and the cracking open of the buds on the cherry trees pushing their way out through the hard shell of winter.

Ah yes, I’m off to the coast today for a week of sensual immersion in the beauty and wonder of life on the edge of the continent.

And… Bonus!  I’m meeting up with my eldest daughter tonight before I travel over to the Island and will spend a day with her at the end of the week before returning home to Calgary where C.C. and Ellie will meet me and I will hear all about their adventures together.

How perfect is that?

An adventures into words and thoughts and ideas and feelings bookended with Love?

Yup. I’m excited.

Just as I’ve been excited to spend this weekend in Saskatoon with C.C. I’ve loved the snow. The winter falling from the sky. The walks to the park in the cold frosty air. Ellie burying her nose in drifts and leaping through soft powdery snowbanks. The trees standing in silent snow-clad wonder, the sky heavy with cloud.

It has been beautiful — and relaxing. Running into my sister (she too lives in Calgary!) and her step-daughter at the market. A hockey game to watch ‘the twins’ (my sister’s step grandsons) play (one even scored a goal). Reading. Chatting. Cooking. Being together.

Yes. This is life! Isn’t it grand!


The Every Day A Poem is posted over at A Poetry Affair — Becoming One.

No limits — it’s all about attitude.

I had something else planned for this morning here in the blogosphere. It’s Sunday and normally Guest Blog day. And then…  I visited Misifusa’s blog, The Presents of Presence and was introduced to Joanne O’Riordan and my heart melted and my defences crumbled and my excuses evaporated.

Who am I to see the world as limited? Who am I to say, “I can’t do that”, or “Why me?” or any other platitudes I espouse to account for not living my dreams?

Who am I? I have all my limbs. I have independence, self-mobility. I can walk and run and leap and crawl. I can choose where I go, when I move, what I do.

Joanne O’Riordan was born with Total Amelia — no limbs. None. And her motto — at 16 years of age — No limbs. No limits.

Please do drop over to Misifusa’s place to find the links to learn more about  Joanne and her incredible belief in living with no limits.

And in the meantime, do watch this video of her story. I am in awe.