The Only Truth That Matters

So, last week got a little wild, and not in a fun way.

I can’t share the details because, while the events affected me, they are not my stories to tell. But people I love deeply, who have been warmly welcomed around my table for many years,  were (and are) hurting on such a profound level, my world stopped for a moment right along with theirs.

In the midst of it, I was asked to share encouraging words with one of those amazing, hurting souls I’m lucky enough to love. These are a few of the words. I hope you read them at the exact right moment, and find the courage to believe their truth.



I’m reading these words with you, pulling them down to the hardest, darkest places, and believing their truth right along with you.

Tomorrow we start again, k?

I Am Enough,




The Dirty Side of Clean Eating

By now you’ve probably read this article, or something like it.  I’ve been digesting it (hah!) and looking at my own eating habits and drawing my own (unprofessional but informed) opinions.

Here’s my conclusion:

I am not orthorexic.

Whew!  Now let’s get on with the rest of the post.

*Disclaimer – This is the closest you’ll ever get to “before” and “after” photos on this blog.  And you’ll notice I left out my body.  It’s on purpose.  Pay attention to the eyes, because that’s where the story takes place.

Several years ago, I went hardcore paleo.  I made a huge shift in my diet because as it turns out, eating sugar, most grains and processed foods when you have PCOS can be detrimental to your health.

This picture was taken a month before I changed my eating habits.  Turns out, a steady diet of fried chicken and Milky Ways made me feel like sh*t.
This picture was taken a month before I changed my eating habits. Turns out, a steady diet of fried chicken and Milky Ways made me feel like sh*t.

I made a change to help heal my body, balance my hormones and reduce inflammation. I also wanted to lose weight, and possibly boost my fertility. After two years on the paleo diet, I felt amazing.  In fact, I felt better at 32 than I did at 22.  It was a very positive change for me, and I felt committed to continuing the lifestyle.

I felt GREAT here, about two months before I became pregnant.  Having my best girls with me didn't hurt either.
I felt GREAT here, about two months before I became pregnant. Having my best girls with me didn’t hurt either.

When I became pregnant, my body revolted.  Food was torturous.  I was puking 10 times a day and stepping foot in the kitchen caused me to retch uncontrollably.  I agonized over giving up my paleo ways, even though 1/2 a croissant and a few sips of a latte were the only thing I could keep down for several weeks.  A woman who I greatly respected and admired in my professional life saw me eat a bite of croissant one day at work. I was down 17 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, and struggled to keep even a little food in my stomach.  She scolded me in front of my co-workers and within earshot of clients and impassionately proclaimed, “Your baby doesn’t need carbs!”.  That was it. My wake up call. MY BABY NEEDED CARBS. And so did I if we were going to get through this pregnancy.

After that point, I gave exactly zero f*cks about eating grains.  As it turned out, my body needed grains to make milk for my son and I continued to eat them with abandon and without an ounce of guilt.  I tuned out the women who openly spoke to me about my food choices and weight (both positively and negatively) during pregnancy and after.  Their opinions weren’t helpful to me either way.

Clearly, grains made us both horrendously sick and miserable and dead. OR WE WERE ABSOLUTELY GREAT.
Clearly, grains made us both horrendously sick and miserable and gross. OR WE ARE ABSOLUTELY HAPPY AND COMPLETELY OKAY.

A formerly vegan friend told me a story about when she decided to no longer be a vegan.  She was part of her local herbivore community and found great support there. After five years of vigilant veganism, she broadened her daily menu to include animal protein. She agonized over it, but her body needed more than plants to survive. She told her vegan community.  Some were accepting and wished her well.  Others were not.   Sentiments like, “I’m sorry your body craves the flesh of dead animals” and “How can you sleep at night?” and “Enjoy eating that chicken’s period” were volleyed back at her.


We can all tune into what feels good in our bodies. And what feels good isn’t necessarily what is good, but only you are qualified to make that distinction. I am an advocate of eating whatever food makes you feel good.  Not what other people tell you to eat, or Dr. Oz,  or your grandma, or The Internet, or Big Ag.  And especially not what judgy people with no professional experience tell you to eat.

We eat “clean” at our house.  We eat properly raised animal proteins.  We eat mostly organic produce when we can afford it, and get creative in order to make that possible.  We eat grains in moderation and avoid wheat and refined sugar altogether.  We feel better when we make conscious decisions about what we fuel our bodies with.  We eat junk food occasionally and have seasons where we eat it way too much.  Then we feel terrible and go back to our clean eating because it works for us.  We are nicer, kinder, less stressed, and our bodies function better when we are consistent with our right-for-us food choices.

Orthorexia exists.  I’m certain it is a real disorder that affects people in profound ways, and I’ve seen it in my industry and in my community.  I came (too) close to it.  I struggled with an eating disorder during my teens and early 20’s, so I’m extra vigilant about not making food my religion.

With that said, there’s another side to this story.

Please don’t mistake eating what makes your body feel good with a disorder.  Unless you are a doctor  or licensed mental health professional, you have no business judging people’s food choices.

And for the rest of us?

Eat with awareness.

  • If you feel more energetic after eating something, take notice.
  • If something you eat makes you feel guilty, take notice.
  • If you feel more satisfied when you eat certain foods, take notice.
  • If you are terrified to eat something when you’re not certain of the source, and you don’t have a legit allergy or intolerance, take notice.
  • If you eat a certain way because someone told you to and it doesn’t line up with your values or current needs, take notice.
  • If your body feels inflamed, painful, or achy after eating something, take notice.
  • If you eat in secret, take notice.
  • If you feel shame around food, take notice.
  • If people shame you about what you are eating, take notice. (And tell them to mind their own damn business.)

It’s easy to make a judgment and slap a label on disordered eating.  Tabloids and busybodies do it all the time. It’s also easy to judge people based on physical appearance. And guess what?  Those are acts of emotional brutality.  Unless it is personally causing you harm or bringing serious harm to a minor or elderly person, knock it off.  It’s not your business what somebody looks like or what they eat.  Leave that up to trained professionals.

I’m returning to my paleo ways for a while because it works for me again at this stage in my life.  But we are going to Texas next month and you’d better believe I’m going to murder some chips and queso and maybe a taco or two. I will feel zero guilt about it.

This is me, now. Feeling good and totally loved by this hottie who has only kind words for my body.
This is me, now. Feeling healthy and energetic and totally loved by this hottie who has only kind words for my body.

We are more than our bodies.  We are more than a number on the scale.  We are more than our food.




Love for My 20-Something, Do-Gooder Self

Back in the early 2000’s, I was a young woman on a Mission.  I went to school to become a paramedic.  I traveled the world doing charity work.  I was very active in my community, and wanted to change the world.  I was thirsty for adventure, but starving to do something truly great with my life.

I was a the very definition of a Do-Gooder.

Doing good in Mexico.
Doing good in Mexico.

By 23, I was well on my way.  School? Check. Decent job? Check. Guy I was totally in love with? Check. Saving the world on my horizon? CHECK.

By 24, I got a little sidetracked.  I suffered a massive broken heart.  My decent job turned into a nightmare. I didn’t finish all of my paramedic certifications.  I was floundering, but trying to hold on to my Mission.

So, I did what any confused 20-something does when they are paralyzed about their next move and riddled with heartache and anxiety and still believes saving the world is up to them: I moved to Germany.

I also drank beer.  Like it was water.

{Pro Tip: Beer is not water.}

I had a clear mission for moving to Germany, but to be honest, it was fueled by desperation.  I needed to get out of my own skin, but couldn’t.  Living in another country was the next best thing.  Dressing it up as humanitarian?  Well, that was even better.

I briefly lived in a crusty hostel, in exchange for bar tending off the books one night a week.  Then my (only) friend found a job for me as a nanny to a very wealthy family.  I loved the kids.  The mom was bananapants.  It didn’t last, and it most definitely didn’t end well.

Drinking wine and doing good things in Germany.

I ended up on some very new friends’ doorstep.  I was essentially homeless with no place to live.  They were truly welcoming and generous and took pity on me. I know I was a haphazard mess, looking for myself and never really knowing where to start or how to handle myself.  They knew it and were gracious.

I wasn’t as gracious to them, I’m sorry to say.

After globe trotting for the better part of two years, (including a stint in Mexico where I worked in the trash heaps with people who called living in the city dump Home), I settled down in Texas.  I took my first (and last job) working for a church.  That was a mistake and I was done six months in.  I wanted out.

By 26, I was back on track, and my Dream Job came to my rescue.

Except I wasn’t ready for my Dream Job. And it wasn’t really a dream.

Doing good in Guatemala.
Somewhere in Guatemala, living the dream. But not really.

I was SAVING THE WORLD, you guys.  And I sucked at it. And not just a little suck, but super duper Hoover Power Shop Vac suck. The areas of my job where I excelled were not big enough to overcome my massive amounts of suckage.  Plus, I was stretched too thin, paid too little, had some moral conflicts, hated the politics, and was burnt out before I even really found my pace.  Because as it turns out, saving the world is exhausting.  So is traveling the world.  I wasn’t brave enough to advocate for what I needed, and lacked the wisdom to know how to bow out gracefully.

I was terrified.  I was failing my Mission.  And I made dozens of people angry with me in the process.

I shut down.

I met my Dream Guy while I was at my Dream Job. I was ready for him, though, or so I thought. My Dream Guy kept me even when the Dream Job and I broke up.  To be honest, it was a relief to leave the job, even while it devastated me on every possible level. But my Dream Guy and I had a lot of growing up and overcoming to do, and our relationship was most definitely not a fairytale.

Everything I stood for, all of my goals and morals and ideals and unshakable beliefs were rocked to the core.  I felt like I was living in rubble, and ultimately the destruction was all my doing.

Fast forward almost 10 years.  I live in an amazing city.  I am still married to my Dream Guy, even though there’s no way I would ever call him that now.  He’s a legit human like the rest of us, and the things I cherish most about him have nothing to do with the perfect fantasy of who I wanted him to be.

I am doing work that I absolutely love.  It lights me up inside; cooking, sharing, writing, advocating for family and health and laughing along the way.

And my son, E.  Who changed me in ways I will never be able to adequately articulate, and made me completely his as only a child can do. He reminds me that I am The Luckiest.  Ever.

Family Beach
My Real Life now, and it’s (mostly) okay. For now.

I think about 20-something Carrie often.  I talk to her, remind her that things turned out (mostly) okay. I still get stuck in those failure places in my past. I’m going to write down those things I say to 20-Something Carrie, so if you ever start beating yourself up, you can read them to your 20-something self.  Or maybe you are a 20-something and you need a visitor from the future to tell you what’s up.  In any case, here it is.

Enjoy your 20’s.  Make mistakes.  Move across the world, drink the beer, kiss the cutie, buy a cake and dance on it with your bare feet, then watch the sunrise with your friends after staying up all night.  BE 20-SOMETHING.

Your heart is true.  Listen to it when it sends up a tiny red flag and chase it with abandon when it gives you a green light.  It will get broken.  It will mend.

The world never needed saving.  The world needs your love, your gifts, and your unique contributions, though. You will light up everyone around you when you feel lit up by what you do.

Stop worrying about pleasing everyone.  You aren’t in control of anyone but yourself.  Stop trying so hard to make everything okay, and work on making YOU okay.

Speaking of angry…You’re going to piss off a million people in your lifetime.  You will eventually piss them off for the right reasons, like sticking to your personal boundaries or leaving abusive or demoralizing relationships.  Pissing people off because you don’t know how to advocate for what you need so then you fall down a shame spiral and implode your life and other people’s lives?  Yeah, that’s way worse than speaking your mind.  Learn to be Brave and grow a steel backbone.

You will learn to leave well.  This one takes practice, but you will figure out how to walk across a bridge without burning it.  How to say thank you and honor people who have given you gems of life experience and wisdom.  Even if they’re terrible people and those gems were buried in a pile of poop, you’ve learned something from them.  Say a genuine thank you and then a gracious goodbye.

You are totally okay.  You’ve probably ruined your life by now.  That’s totally okay and maybe even necessary.  You’ll put it back together, and the world is full of people who love you and will help you find the broken pieces. Maybe they’ll even hand you a glue gun and beer while you piece your life back together.  Nothing lasts forever, even destruction.

Now I’m going to change a horrendously dirty diaper, work on my writing for the week, and remember the exceptionally wonderful things about my 20’s.




The Joy of Detoxing…and Fried Chicken

Can we talk about fried chicken for a hot second? I know this post is about detoxing and other super fun stuff , but I want to talk about fried chicken first.

Here’s the deal. I LOVE FRIED CHICKEN.

Not just regular fried chicken, but a Certain Southern Chain Restaurant’s fried  chicken. It was my first real job at the tender age of 15. I washed dishes, prepped the chicken, made coleslaw by the gallon using vats of industrial mayonnaise (gross), and rung up combo meals for mall patrons, all with a “How may I serve you?” and a smile. (Yeah, that was weird.)

My second brother, who happens to be a pretty funny guy and chicken-lover himself, wrote a song about me and it went like this:

This is my actual senior photo from 1997. Also, making chicken wasn’t really that fun.

Needless to say, I’ve changed quite a bit since my teens, but this song lives on in iconic mid-90’s jingle glory, and bunch of illiterate cows took my job as A Certain Southern Chain Restaurant’s mascot.

I continued eating A Certain Southern Chain Restaurant’s fried chicken long after I quit my job at the tender age of 16, and that same chicken fueled me well into my 30’s. When we visit family in Texas, I still try to eat it…but then I feel awful because it’s full of all kinds of things that don’t agree with my body. Like MSG and wheat. Super duper SAD FACE.

I lost a bunch of weight several years ago while we lived in Texas. You can read about it here, but that’s not the point of this story. I experienced some success, lost several lbs and was feeling fantastically good. And I mean good like my energy was returning and my hormones were evening out and I was starting to remember what it felt like to live without chronic inflammation. I was within spitting distance of the weight range where I felt (feel) strong, and I could begin thinking about slipping into my favorite little black dress that had been collecting several years’ worth of dust in the back of my closet.

So, I was on my way to work one morning, during a phase when I was eating from a very specific menu but feeling basically bionic , and I passed A Certain Southern Chain Restaurant’s fried chicken. I passed this particular location twice a day on my commute to work, and before I started my detox, I ate there a couple of times a week. But on this day, with my weight dropping and my hormones balancing and my energy vibing, ALL I WANTED WAS A DAMN CHICKEN BISCUIT.

My palms actually started sweating. I could taste the buttery, fluffy biscuit surrounding the perfectly pressure-cooked, deep-fried chicken and crispy tater tots posing as hashbrowns. My pulse raced. I envisioned myself taking the exit, pulling up to that drive-thru and eating the crap out of that deep fried goodness. The thought of the instant, flavor-filled. orgasmic mouth joy was so powerful, I took my foot off the gas pedal.

And then I took a mental pause.

I could eat a chicken biscuit. I would enjoy the hell out of it. I could give myself permission to veer from my restricted menu for one meal and then get right back on track. But there was a bigger issue at hand for me.

That chicken biscuit represented something far more powerful than an indulgent meal or comfort food.

It represented joy.

This is the moment I realized how unhappy I had been for years. The only consistent joy I found was in food. Not in my friendships, not in my marriage, not in my community, not in my career. Those all seemed complicated and often stressful, but food? Food was JOYFUL. It was simple. It was a happy escape with instant gratification.

I put my foot back on the gas pedal, and continued on my drive to work. With every mile I put between me and crispy chicken joy,  I became increasingly and acutely aware of how desperately I needed to find other joyful things. So, I started a list of things that brought me joy, in addition to food.

  • Adventures in Nature
  • Traveling
  • New Experiences
  • Reading
  • Dates with My Husband
  • Community
  • Hate-watching The Real Housewives of NYC
  • Creating Recipes
  • The Beach
  • The Mountains
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Yoga

Pretty fun list, right?

So, here’s The Thing. Finding joy in food was never the issue. Food being my only source of joy was, though. And this is why I love a good cleanse/detox/whateveryouwanttocallit. It gives me an opportunity to become present to my life, my food, my choices, my cycles of self-sabotage, my passion, and pushes me to do hard things and become stronger in areas that have zilch to do with eating. It also helps me reconnect to the joy of living, of really tasting and anticipating what’s is in front of me. And if I’m ever disconnected from those truths, if it becomes about deprivation and white-knuckling or a number on the scale, I stop. Because my mental and emotional health drive my physical health, and I will not sacrifice one for the other.

Every part of me matters.

There will be no Before and After pictures. Not here. The internet is full of those shots, and that’s not my style. I am not ashamed of how I look now, and I am proud of my body at any size. Anyway, PICTURES LIE. Just ask the creators of Photoshop and every celebrity ever.

There will be no How To Detox plans or tips, other than EAT REAL FOOD. And maybe avoid sugar, refined flour, too many salads, and cold foods (Yep, I’m looking at you, Juice Cleanse). Drink water and be gentle with yourself.  The end.

There will be an invitation, though. You’re welcome to rediscover what brings you joy as I reconnect with mine over the next 28ish days. I’m going to share my #platesofinspiration, both what I’m eating and other food I’m loving from around the internet, over on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll be posting my original recipes here, and if you click “subscribe” at the bottom of this post, we can keep track of each other, encourage each other, and share some great food along the way.

I still love chicken.  But these days, it looks more like this.
I still love chicken. But these days, chicken looks more like this.#platesofinspiration

And just so you know, if you need to stop and get a chicken biscuit, there’s NO SHAME IN THAT GAME. Because chicken.

Forever Buttering Buns,

How To Fail At Life (And Still Be Okay)

There was a time, many years ago, when I had almost BOUNDLESS ENERGY. I had a glut of FREE TIME. I had DISPOSBLE INCOME.


This is totally how I look when I'm sleeping.
This is totally how I look when I’m sleeping.

It seems like that happened to another person in an ancient time.  Like, I might as well have been playing a character in Game of Thrones for the level of connection I feel towards my previous life in the present moment.

{Pro-Tip: It never pays to be a Stark.}

Some days, it feels like it’s all I can do to get the basic living stuff finished.





Meal prep.


The other things, like being an engaged and connected parent, or preparing for anything further than a day in advance feels HARD. And not just hard, but impossible. And may Baby Jesus help us if we get sick, or the car breaks down, or we have a family medical emergency. Because the water we were artfully treading rushes up around our heads and it is damn near impossible to pull ourselves back up.


Where does all the magic energy come from for other people to gracefully navigate through life? Who have tidy cars and put their gym membership to good use and never have old, crusted spaghetti sauce on their shirts from dinner two nights ago? They even seem rested and fresh. How do they do it?!

Now, I’ve seen true hardship. I know this isn’t it. I’ve traveled to several continents, dozens of countries, and worked in some of the most marginalized and poverty-stricken areas of the world. I KNOW my life is easy. I can list all of the ways it glides so smoothly and its vibrant places of prosperity, because hello, we aren’t carrying contaminated drinking water four miles uphill to our homes…on our heads.

If these remarkable people can do all of these amazing feats every single day, why is it so effing hard to stay afloat?

Because more often than not, I feel like a failure.

  • I am failing those magical, successful people who don’t just stay afloat, they sail on a luxury cruise liner.
  • I am failing those women carrying their drinking water on their heads who work themselves to the bone, because their lives really are hardship and I’m a first world whiner.
  • I am failing my son because, as much as I want to, I cannot give him 100% of my uninterrupted attention and connection.
  • I am failing my partner because I’m a completely different woman than the one he married 8 years ago.
  • And finally, I am failing the House of Stark because everything that happens to them just seems too terrible and I can’t keep hoping they’ll win The Throne when they just keep losing. 

So.  There it is.  I have FAILED THE WORLD. And probably Baby Jesus, too.

And guess what?

It’s okay.

I don’t have to get it right.  In fact, it’s absurd to even think that I will get it right. So, here’s how I get through.

When I start to compare my fortune to someone else’s (talent, money, abundance of sleep, good looks, stamina, clean clothes, etc.), I tell myself it’s OKAY.  My life is amazeballs and nothing is easy all the time, even though some people are pros at making it look that way. Everyone has impossible places.

When I feel overwhelmed by my hardships, I tell myself it’s OKAY. Then I literally count my blessings, starting with the clean water that comes out of the tap by fairy magic, then move on to the solid roof over our heads and the abundant feast on our table. I say a prayer for those who struggle profoundly, and do what I can to support them in practical ways. Like buying fairly traded goods when I can, raising awareness, and volunteering with organizations I believe make a difference.

When I feel like a terrible mom because I didn’t read my kid a single book all day, or make him laugh hysterically, I tell myself it’s OKAY and commit to reading him a book the next day and chasing him around the house until we both laugh to the point of tears. Because it is impossible to be “on” all day long.  But it is possible to intentionally create concentrated moments of connection. It’s isn’t all or nothing here.

When I feel like I’m failing my partner because sometimes I barely resemble the woman he married, I tell myself it’s OKAY and remember that he is a completely different person now, too.  I love him deep. And he loves me deep, too. That’s what matters. And maybe we need to chase each other around the house (naked) and laugh until we cry, too.

And when I despair the Starks and boo the Lannisters and wonder if Winter will ever come, I tell myself to GET OVER IT because good grief, this is just a story. I can read the books if I want to know so badly.

So, to recap:

It’s all going to be okay.  You don’t have to BE okay, though.  And if life spins out of control and you can’t stop the crazy and you can’t seem to wrap your arms around it and NOTHING feels okay, remember these five things:

  1. Wine.
  2. Coffee.
  3. Chocolate.
  4. You are not alone.
  5. The impossible seasons don’t last forever. Just ask the Starks.

Love and Dirty Laundry,