Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Chocolate Cabinet by Geneen Roth

The Chocolate Cabinet
by Geneen Roth

A mother of an 8-year-old was desperate. "My daughter is gaining weight by the second," she told me. "I am so afraid that I have passed on my troubles with food to her, and I don't know whether to remove all candy from the house, take her to a doctor, or put her on a strict diet. Help!"

"What is your daughter's favorite food?" I asked.

"Chocolate," she said.

"Does high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes run in your family?"

"No," she said.

"Is your daughter's health good?"


Desperation calls for radical measures, so I said, "On your way home, stop at the store and buy enough chocolate to fill an entire kitchen cabinet. In your kitchen, designate one cabinet The Chocolate Cabinet and fill it to overflowing with the chocolate you bought. Now, tell your daughter that this is hers and hers alone. Tell her that she can eat as much of it as she wants and that you will fill it back up when the cabinet gets even a tiny bit empty. Do not criticize her. Do not watch her with hawk eyes. And make sure that cabinet is brimming with chocolate. Wait three weeks, and then let me know what happens."

She looked at me in disbelief. "Have you lost your mind? If I give Gracie free rein over chocolate, she will devour every single piece before I can get to the store and buy more. She will gain a million pounds. I will create a monster!"

"Try it," I said. "Let's see what happens."

Fast-forward three weeks. The desperate mother says, "When I first told Gracie about the new plan, she didn't believe me. She waited until I left the kitchen, and then she plowed through the contents of her cabinet before I could change my mind. I filled up that cabinet four times that first week (with gritted teeth, I admit). But when Gracie realized I was not going to criticize her and that I was absolutely serious about letting her have as much as she wanted, she ate less and less. By the second week, I only had to buy a little chocolate, and by the third week, none at all. She is more relaxed around food. She is losing weight. I am a chocolate-cabinet convert!"

Does this story (it's true, by the way) make you excited? Slightly hysterical? Have you come up with 25 reasons why this wouldn't work at your house? You are not alone.

However, while some of your reasons may be based on fact, most of them are about your own relationship to food and hunger and abundance, not your children's. And here's the litmus test: Ask yourself what would happen if you filled one cabinet with food you wanted but believed you're not supposed to have. What would happen if you let yourself eat it without criticizing yourself? I can't swear to this, but I bet you have (at least) 25 reasons why that wouldn't work.

It's not about the food. Although the chocolate-cabinet idea was radical, I was almost positive that what Gracie wanted wasn't candy. She wanted her mother's (positive) attention. She wanted her mother to trust her. But mostly, she wanted to believe in and trust herself, and only way she could do that was by first learning those skills from her mother. The drama around food and weight gain was the language that Gracie was using to communicate with her mother. The real issue is never the food.

My mother was a fat kid whose own mother took her shopping in the Chubby section of Macy's. Growing up, my mother felt self-conscious, ashamed of her body around boys, clothes, socializing. Because she loved me and didn't want me to suffer the way she had, when I was a kid she began watching what I ate, restricting certain foods from my diet, telling me I was getting fat.

How did the hawk-eye, restrictive approach work?

Not so well. In response, I began hiding frozen Milky Ways in my pajama pants, sprinting past my parents' room and sitting over the trash can in my room eating the candy bars as fast as I could, ready to spit them out if my mother opened the door and caught me. I began feeling as if I needed to look a certain way for her to love me, eat certain foods for her to approve of me. And so I began living (and eating) a double life: When I was in front of her, I'd eat cottage cheese and chicken without skin. When I was out of her sight, I'd stuff myself with everything I wasn't allowed to eat in her presence. Food became the language of our relationship. And although, as my brother often points out, I've made a career from the dysfunction that resulted, I would not recommend this path to anyone.

When I hold my online workshops, mothers from all over the world ask me questions about food and their children. Mothers from Montana and New Jersey, Thailand and Brazil all have the same concerns. They all love their children and don't want to pass on their pain to their daughters (or sons); some of them have children who are already showing signs of starving themselves or stuffing themselves. They all want to know: How do I best love my child when it comes to food? What will help her the most? 

I tell them, "Attend to your own relationship with food first." Be honest with yourself about what you actually believe. Do you believe you can't trust your hunger? That if you really let yourself eat what you want, you'd start at one end of your kitchen and chomp your way across the country? Do you believe there is an abundance of what you need, want, love? 

After you begin exploring your own relationship with food, be mindful about what you communicate to your children. Deprivation, force, and shame do not ever, under any circumstances, lead to positive change. If you judge your children, if you create a moral standard about body size, if you withhold approval based on what they weigh, nothing good will come of it. They will begin judging their bodies, hiding their food, and defining their worth by what they weigh. 

And ask yourself this question: If you could fill a cabinet with anything -- food, attention, time -- what would it be? Chances are, it won't be chocolate. Commit to being lavish with yourself with what you really need. As you do that, you will become a living example of self-care and trust and love. You will be who you want your children to become. Believe me, they'll notice.

Geneen Roth has authored many books:

Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations About Food and Money

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

When Food Is Love

The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It

Breaking Free from Emotional Eating

Feeding the Hungry Heart

When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair

Appetites — On the Search for True Nourishment

Why Weight? A Guide to Ending Compulsive Eating

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ The Dressing Room Project

Need a little pick-me-up today? Feeling a bit down on yourself? Has the critical monster in your head been picking away at your self-esteem when you look in the mirror?

Well it is time to pick yourself up. It is time to start feeling good about yourself. And it is way over time to banish that critical monster in your head to a closet where you will lock it in and throw away the key!

How does one accomplish this? Well a first step is to look around for some inspiration and some feel good messages! A perfect place to find just that is by visiting the web site for The Dressing Room Project.

This is how the project describes itself on it's web site:

"The Dressing Room Project is a girl-powered rebellion to free girls & women from the bonds of media-imposed standards of beauty! We’re posting our girl-designed cards on mirrors in women’s dressing rooms everywhere to help girls & women feel more comfortable in our uniquely beautiful bodies."

The story behind the project:
The Dressing Room Project is the brainchild of Mimi Kates, founder and director of Emerging Women Projects (EWP), a non profit organization for teen girls' empowerment. Girls in the program were getting angry about mainstream media's portrayal of women. These unrealistic ideals contribute to the prevalence of negative self-image, eating disorders and other unhealthy behaviors in girls and women. They decided to take positive action and launched this social change initiative in the year 2000.

What began as a small grassroots project has now grown to include thousands nationally who participate through posting their cards in stores and starting DRP Action Teams to promote the movement.  They  have over 200 Action Teams in the USA, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, United Kingdom, West Africa and Australia. 

Above are more samples of the cards youth have created as part of the project.  You can download the cards so that you can print them at home. Click here for the page where the link is available. They are perfect for taping on your mirrors, public mirrors and in dressing rooms.

You may also submit your own design! Use a 3 x 5 card and either mail it to The Dressing Room Project or scan it (at 300 dpi) and send it via email.  Please include your name, age and state (or country if not USA.)

If you visit the site be sure to take a look at the Resource page that is called "Sisters In Beauty Rebellion." They also have a fun collection of shirts, buttons, caps, tote bags and more in the on-line Goodies Page.

Design your own dressing room card right now.  What images are you including...stars, moons, hearts, sacred hearts, flowers, spirals, rainbows....??? 

What does it say?

For extra cosmic bonus points share a link to your design.  

For even more extra cosmic bonus points send your design onto the Dressing Room Project.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thriving In Spite of Adversity

The most recent article I wrote for my column called We Are All Meant to Shine! in Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine is called Thriving In Spite of Adversity.

This particular article is about former foster youths Ashley Rhodes-Courter and Derek Clark.  Both of them are such an inspiration.  They are modeling for all of us, that even if difficult, challenging or tragic events occur in our lives, we don’t have to define our lives by those events. We get to choose the direction of our lives, based on the present, not on the past and we get to choose how we respond to what life throws in our direction.

Come read more by clicking here.

Mojo Monday ~ A Friendship Quiz

Friendship Quiz as seen here.

You don't actually have to take the quiz. Just read straight through, and you'll get the point.

1) Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2) Name the top five news stories five years ago.
3) Name ten presidents or leaders of the biggest countries in the world.
4) Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5) Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor or actress.
6) Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:
1) List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2) Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3) Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4) Think of a few people who have made you feel, appreciated and special.
5) Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
6) Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

Easier? The people who make a difference in your life are not the most powerful ones, nor have the most money or awards. They are the ones that care.

For your enjoyment a video of Carole King and James Taylor singing You've Got A Friend:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ VoluptuArt

"Every object, every being, is a jar full of delight. 
Be a connoisseur." 
~ Rumi

Do you have any favorite web stores?  Have you found some that are more than just stores, rather they are places where you can browse for inspiration, perhaps for a few giggles and for that ever important visual stimulation that actually delights your soul?

I have a few favorite web sites that represent what I would create if I was going to open up my own virtual gift shop.  One that tops the list is called VoluptuArt.  If you have never experienced this treasure trove, than you are in for a super duper treat (picture a large ice cream sundae with all the trimmings.)

VoluptuArt's Mission speaks volumes:

"VoluptuArt has been created to bring you art that will inspire you to celebrate the fullness of your life! 

Our art and gift items portray bodies of all sizes, shapes, ethnicities, ages and genders. We strive to find images that 'embody' a sense of aliveness, self-love and body esteem. We've also chosen items that we hope will encourage you to stop, take a breath and remember what is important in your life and to be grateful for your amazing body!VoluptuArt is packed with: sculptures, jewelry, functional art, wall art, journals, cards, magnets, candles, t-shirts, Yay! Scales and more!"

They also invite visitors to let them know about artwork or artists they believe would be a good match for VoluptuArt. 

Some of my favorite artists have art work available on the web site: Shiloh Sophia McCloud, Mara Friedman, Anahata Katkin (PaPaYa), Krista Lynn Brown, Kristine Paton, K Robins Designs and SARK. It is a wonderful place to discover new artists too. 

Here are some of my favorite creations by Kristine Paton.  Many of her images are available on bookmarks too and she pairs each one with an empowering quote.  They make wonderful bonus gifts if you happen to be giving someone a book.

Red Boa
This image is called Red Boa.  The book mark has the following quote:

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." ~ Oscar Wilde

This image is called Flamenco.  The book mark has the following quote:

"Be Yourself  The world worships the original." ~ Ingrid Bergman
VoluptuArt has quirky and unusual one-of-a-kind items.  Take for example the YAY! 
Scale.  How would you feel if you stepped on the scale in the morning and it always gave you a compliment? "you're perfect", "you're gorgeous", "you're hot!" You'll never have another bad scale day with a Yay! Scale. Thanks to the principles of quantum physics - a Yay! Scale never lies! Conceived, designed, handmade, and signed by Marilyn Wann of Fat!So? fame.  Note this is the silver version, another version comes in purple sparkle and one even comes in a plush hot pink carpet.

There are also amazing sculptures to feast ones eyes on.  Here are some of my favorites. These two are by Shelley and Michael Buonaiuto called Gladys and Wind.

Looking through the various themes can lead one to fun new discoveries as well.  Some of the themes include: Goddesses, Divas, Funseekers, Frida Kahlo, Woman of Valor, Relationships, Rumi, Bellies, Breast Health and Ahhs and Giggles.
Another treasure that I enjoyed discovering is this petite earring Goddess holder shown to the left.

If you visit the VoluptuArt you may also want to visit their Resource page. They list articles, poetry, films and link to other inspirational web sites.

If you visit and find something that strikes your fancy come back and share.

If you have some favorite web sites please share links here too.