Year 8: Thriving with Intention

Eight years.

Eight years of recovery. Eight years of falling (and getting back up). Eight years of life slapping me in the face. Eight years of choosing recovery over and over…and over.

On this day eight years ago, I was faced with a decision: admit to treatment and choose recovery or fly home and continue suffering from my debilitating and life threatening eating disorder.

I chose recovery. I chose to walk through the Carolina House doors. But that decision did not come without severe hesitation, denial and an escape attempt. See: Heading Back to Treatment

But rather than go back to what was safe and comfortable (my eating disorder), I took the massive blind leap of faith and walked back through the Carolina House doors.

And I’ve been choosing recovery and life every day since.

Prior to my recovery, my fear of failure was so great I played life safe, staying in the comfortable lane and living life according to other people’s expectations. I went with the safe college major, the safe job, checking the boxes I was ‘supposed’ to check, rather than asking myself, “What do I want to do in this life?”

THRIVE was not a word in my disordered vocabulary. I merely survived (ish), gliding through life, clinging to my eating disorder for comfort.

Today, I choose to THRIVE. I choose to take risks. I choose to stand up no matter how many times life knocks me down. And good grief, life has knocked me down!

From multiple moves, Marjorie’s early birth, Marjorie’s cancer, my struggle with PTSD, the death of my best friend and simply trying to juggle life throughout, it has been a tough eight years AND the best eight years.

On this eighth year of recovery, I am finally starting to thrive again. My mind is clearer than ever on what I want to do next and, more importantly, how I want to live my life. My goals are falling into place and my desire to thrive is bigger than ever.

But thriving is confusing!

What defines thriving versus simply living?

We all have different definitions of what thriving looks like in our life. But one thing I know for sure is that we don’t have to succumb to society’s definition of thriving: being productive, being ‘on’ 24/7, never resting, having your shit together, perfect Instagram filters, perfect body, money, success, travel…the list goes on.

If that is what thriving is to you, then I am O-U-T.

For me, thriving means living each day with intention. It does not mean summiting Kilimanjaro (although, completing required lunch duties at Manning’s school is similar to climbing a mountain with little oxygen).

Thriving to me, means making it through the not so great days with intention and grace. Grace to myself and to others. Grace in knowing we are all doing the best we can with what we know.

This year has been a year of the highest highs and the lowest of lows. I have muddled clumsily through this grief journey, ultimately coming to understand how grief and thriving can co-exist.

Thriving through the grief does not mean hopping my car running errand after errand, answering call after call, avoiding the sadness. Thriving through grief means allowing myself to curl up in bed and cry in the middle of the day, feeling the empty hole and knowing note very day will hurt.

Thriving does not look like a superhero mom cape or the most popular girl at the party. Thriving means living your truth and embracing where you are, asking for help and taking a damn nap when you’re tired.

Thriving means setting boundaries and saying no (something I am working very hard on).

Thriving means leaving the baskets of laundry and list of emails to be present with your kids at the park.

Thriving means honoring your body with nourishment, rest and joyful movement.

Thriving means loving yourself– the good, the imperfect and the messy.

Thriving means taking chances, failing and getting back up.

Thriving means surrounding yourself with people who fill you up and not tear you down.

Thriving means being who you are and living life unapologetically.

And during the holiday season, thriving means that some days you forget to move that damn elf.

Today I celebrate my eighth year of recovery. Eight years of living life. Eight years of falling and thriving through.

As I enter into my ninth year of recovery I plan to do it with intention. I am beginning to realize (and embrace) thriving, for me, doesn’t mean having a bestselling book or saying yes to every opportunity. Thriving is being present and living my life with intention, intentions to be present with my family, taking care of myself and learning to say no.

So here is to year eight. I am excited to continue down this beautiful (and hard) path of recovery and self-discovery. Thank you for following along and sharing your story and heart with mine.

And I would be remiss not to say, RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. Wherever you are, no matter how hopeless you feel, recovery is possible. Trust me. Eight years ago, I never dreamed my life could be this imperfectly amazing, but it could and it is. Hang in there. You are worth recovery and LIFE.

With love and light,


This photo was taken moments after I finished my last talk of 2018. I was in awe as 1000+ students at GPS stood and gave me a huge standing ovation. You can see the tears welling in my eyes. There is so much in life I am unsure about, but if there is one thing I know for certain is that sharing my story is why God placed me on this earth. Forever grateful for this day eight years ago and every messy day since.
Photo Credit: Emily Lester

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