I am so proud to bring youTHE RECOVERY MYTH:a new four-part miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery from an eating/body-related disorder or addiction REALLY looks like.
I’ll be talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.
To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.
In Part One, we debunked the seven biggest myths and misunderstandings surrounding recovery (read+ listen here). Today on The Recovery Myth, I’m talking to Lynn Chen, actor, host, blogger, and activist. (If you’ve been following along for a while you probably remember her from episode 4, where we talked about learning how to accept what is, and then moving forward from there.)
Today’s episode with Lynn exceeded all my hopes for this series. Super raw. Somewhat controversial. Intensely personal. Whether you’re in recovery, know someone who is in recovery, or in the midst of your own two-steps-forward-three-steps-back personal journey, I encourage you to not only listen to the episode but SHARE it and TALK about it. And let me know what it brings up for you…because the conversation cannot and should not end once the outro music starts to play.
Know someone who might need this miniseries? Forward it along and let them know you care.
Know someone who might be able to contribute something unique to the conversation? I’d LOVE to meet them. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS GONE THROUGH AN ED/ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE (**AND HAVE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERED), OR ARE AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, shoot me an email at email@example.com and we can get to talking.
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You know those hours, days, moments when everything seems to just click? Those times when all the shaky transitions, all the nights wondering what the f you’re really supposed to be doing with your life, all the instances in which you feel like too much or too little somehow meld together to remind you that you are just right, just the way you are?
That’s what this weekend was for me.
On Saturday, I had the immense pleasure of chilling beachside with fifty WANT Women from all over SoCal: eating delicious food, drinking wine and green juice, soaking up sunshine – and most importantly, diving in, digging deep, and discussing what it means to truly move forward fearlessly in life.
Yes, I was there to play hostess at the most perfect venue ever (Creative Visions Foundation out in Malibu – check out that view!), moderate a killer panel of power women (Lynn Chen of The Actor’s Diet, Jordan Younger of The Balanced Blonde, Audrey Bellis of StartupDTLA and WorthyWomen, and Rachelle Tratt of The Neshama Project), and hopefully be able to inspire at least one person by adding my own voice into the mix. What I didn’t expect was how each person attending would inspire me beyond measure, in ways I wasn’t even able to describe until I was sitting in silence in my PJs hours later, stunned by the impact.
Here were my five biggest lessons from the day:
My relationship w/ you is a direct reflection of my relationship w/ myself - @audreybellis Click To Tweet 1) The relationships we have with each other are a direct reflection of the relationships we have with ourselves. Community builder extraordinaire and WorthyWomen founder Audrey said it best – our connections with others are intricately tied to the way we view ourselves. One of the all-time most popular posts on WANT is the Making Friends As An Adult piece, and I’m not too surprised why: we are starved for genuine, soul-stirring connection. The question is, if we’re all thinking the same thing, then why aren’t we all just finding each other and frolicking off into the land of besties – nay, soulies – somewhere?
Whether we’re fiercely independent or thrive in groups, it’s easy to blame others for the reasons why we’re not moving forward in our own lives. And on the flipside, the easy-to-grab focus on superficial gains and surface-level commonalities (we both like movies! we both like tacos! #bff) is leaving us starved for true connection even when we think we’ve got it. But at the root of it all is the relationship we have with ourselves. Are we honoring ourselves fully, both our highs and our lows? Do we respect our own choices and stand by ourselves through thick and thin? It’s nearly impossible for someone else to have your back if you don’t even have your own.
What was incredible about this weekend was that every single person in attendance came with a wide open heart, an eager mind, no filter, and no judgement. Very few of us knew each other going into the day, but somehow, as we gathered under the springtime sun and laughed/cried/empathized in unison, it felt like we’d all been strategically chosen to be together in that exact place at that exact time. And that’s the power of honoring who you are at your core: you’ll find others who honor it, too.
Lynn got super raw this weekend and talked about her career, her attempt to get pregnant, her father’s death – and at the core of it all, landed on the invaluable piece of wisdom that we need to say yes to what is actually going on in our lives instead of sitting around preparing for something that isn’t. We toil away prepping our bodies for a season, we put off projects because of what might happen six months down the line, we don’t go on that date because we’re moving and they’re here and oh my god how would it ever work so why even bother? There are way, way too many instances for each of us, in our own unique ways, that we put our lives on hold and wait for that “Okay, all clear!” from the universe. Instead of waiting for those signs, we could be spending that time actually making shit happen. When we do this, it turns out, everything seems to fall into place. Even though we had no clue what that “everything” would even look like.
It doesn't have to be sunshine+rainbows, but you've got to know you'll be okay - @balancedblondie Click To Tweet 3) Sometimes positivity isn’t even about seeing a silver lining – it’s about knowing deep down in your core that you’ll be okay. When Jordan was being viciously attacked online (trust me when I say it’s horrible stuff), she didn’t mask her feelings in mantras and she didn’t not internalize what was going on. As she shared with us, sure, some of the comments were/are laughable – but many were downright frightening and a threat to her safety. It would have been easy to rip her blog off of the internet or go AWOL – but she knew in her heart she was meant for more than that. And with a lot of help and a lot of self-awareness, she was able to continually remind herself, Yes, I will be okay.
Maybe you haven’t dealt with bullying or death threats like Jordan unfortunately has, but I’ll bet money on the fact that you’ve had something not go as planned. Maybe not go your way at all. Hell, maybe you’ve hit what’s felt like a personal rock bottom. If I have learned anything from the women (andmen) I’ve met through WANT, it’s that nothing is ever insurmountable. Not saying it’s easy, and not saying it’s automatic. But that knowing, that sense that you will be okay, no matter what happens – that is the kind of potent positivity that gets you to the other side.
The reason I love Rachelle is that through incredibly tough times, she’s always come back to her intuition. As she told us, we’re all intuitive beings – yet sometimes we get distracted and ignore that pull in our gut and heart to do the thing that makes us feel absolutely iridescent. The “have-tos” and “shoulds” come in and dance with the Ghost Worries and they screw us over, convincing us that the pull we feel is less than worthwhile. Other people have a pull, the have-to-should-dancers say. Who do you think you are taking up space and following yours? The Ghost Worries chime in, telling us it’s too risky, too dangerous. If we take a cue from someone else, it’s a whole lot safer. If we take that cue, then it’s not on us.
But here’s the thing: that cue never comes. And even if it does, we’re not stepping into our own lives, we’re just assimilating to someone else’s. Rachelle’s words were a powerful reminder for me to claim my space, own my power, and step into my own light – because waiting for someone else to make it easier also means I’m putting myself on an endless hold.
'Fearless' is when the fear is less than the faith. - @katiehorwitch Click To Tweet 5) Fearless is when the fear is less than the faith. Okay, this one’s my own. If there is one huge lesson I’ve learned through my life, through WANT, and through orchestrating this past weekend’s festivities, it’s that “fearlessness” is NOT about being unafraid. Because if that was so, then there would literally be NO ONE out there who is truly fearless.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many things trigger that “fearful” part of my brain on the daily. Traffic that threatens missing a class I’m teaching. Interviews with people I admire. Tough conversations with Jeremy, friends, or my family. Financial worries, life purpose worries, I-said-the-wrong-thing-and-now-that-person-will-hate-me-forever worries. I’m an HSP – a Highly Sensitive Person – so I’ve found that I can either accept my fear or I can acquiesce to it.
I choose neither.
I respect my fears for what they’re trying to tell me. I honor them for their reminder of my values and goals. But I do not accept them as constants in my life, nor do I give in and let them take over.
Yes, I know I’ll always have things that make me afraid, but my fear barometer will always be changing.
And my definition of “fearless” is when my fear is less than my faith.
It always happens, I’ve learned. The faith will always outweigh the fear, eventually. It’s just that sometimes, we don’t give it the chance – I sure haven’t, at times.
Moving Forward Fearlessly, to me, is the act of pursuing that faith, even if it’s a small glimmer. It’s working towards those hours, days, and moments when everything seems to just click – the times when all the shaky transitions, all the nights wondering what the f you’re really supposed to be doing with your life, all the instances in which you feel like too much or too little somehow meld together and remind you that you are just right, just the way you are.
HUGE thank you to M Café for the delicious lunch spread, Beaming for the juices and sweets, ONEHOPE Wine for the for-purpose Pinot, Sauv, and bubbly, Meghan Gallagher and Creative Visions Foundation for the most unbelievable space in the world and for making the process an ocean breeze, S.W. Basics/Pure Vida/Luna/Barnana/Philosophie for a swag bag that set the bar high – to Lynn, Jordan, Audrey, and Rachelle for shining your light and being the very best first WANT panel I could have ever wished for and completely blowing me away with every single word – and to YOU, the WANT peeps, for being the reason this community is as powerful as it is. I am eternally grateful.
This is the time of year we’re usually the most contemplative about where we are in our own lives, and it’s for that reason I’m so excited to introduce you to today’s guest.
Lynn Chen is an actress, activist, and food blogger who is serving up some major inspiration to me lately. She’s been seen in countless TV shows and films, serves as an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association, and has not one but TWO blogs. The Actor’s Diet, which Lynn started in 2009 as a sort of journal to help her make peace with her food after years of eating disorders, it’s now one of the most influential food blogs on the web, with some of the most longevity at that. (it’s also got a podcast, the Actor’s Diet Podcast) Her other blog is Thick Dumpling Skin, a phenomenal body-image blog that’s centered around the Asian American community.
(You can also read her WANT Woman spotlighthere– she’s already a WANT vet! :))
So I don’t do TOO much heavy editing with these episodes, but I’ve got to say that this one was tough. For all the right reasons. We ended up talking for close to two hours – and Lynn shared so much of herself that I really, really wanted to be mindful I was doing each word and thought and story and lesson justice.
Lynn is in a majorly transitional time in her career right now, and that can be really scary – you’ve built your identity being one thing, and then you decide to change course entirely. I don’t care what kind of career you’re in or what your life looks like, it’s something we all experience…but we usually hear people talking about it AFTER it’s happened. Lynn’s in the thick of it.
We dive deep in this episode, but the one theme that kept popping up was learning how to accept what is, and then moving forward from there. We talk about the way blogging’s shifted over the last six years, Lynn’s choice to move away from acting and why success isn’t always what it seems, the lessons she learned while she was trying to get pregnant, and the unexpected strategy she’s used to cope with everything from the sudden death of her father a few years back to her long history with eating disorders. We also talk about rejection, comparison, and how to make your mark by being exactly who you are.
If you’re struggling with any sort of transitional time in your life right now or have ever experienced a huge life shift, I really think this is going to speak to you.
Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Lynn’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!
Sitting down to chat with actress and activist Lynn Chen was like sitting down with an old friend. Probably because technically, it was. Lynn and I have only met maybe twice in person, but we became friends through blogging when we both started up our own “Healthy Living Blogs” back in 2009. And while mine fizzled out after a couple years, Lynn kept going.
The Actor’s Diet is now one of the most influential food blogs on the web, with the most longevity at that. And what I love most about it is that the title is so deceptive. While Google might lump it into the category of dieting, TAD is about what it’s actually like to live as an actress. Started as a sort of journal in order to help Lynn make peace with her food after years upon end of eating disorders, it became a way for Lynn to not only dispel the myths surrounding what an “actor’s diet” needs to be, but it propelled her into the kind of body image activist work that makes her one of the most badass, pragmatically positive feminists I know.
Lynn is now an ambassador for National Eating Disorders Association, worked with the National Organization of Women, and is a founder of Asian-American body image blog Thick Dumpling Skin. She’s also the voice behind The Actor’s Diet Podcast, and most recently, a food host (makes sense!). Side note, she’s been called the Asian Parker Posey – I mean, do I really need to say more?
I, along with women across the globe, can’t help but love Lynn for her honesty and transparency, her courageous vulnerability, and her upbeat yet always entirely grounded personality. Many WANT women have talked about how their definition of positivity is seeing the good and the bad, the clouds and the rainbows. Lynn is the embodiment of this.
What I love about myself (and why): Life has dealt me some crappy hands and I’ve been able to turn lemons into a triple layer Lemon Chiffon Cake.
What is your definition of “positivity?” Listening and responding with kindness.
When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” It was somewhere in the middle of my eating disorder recovery and while I was trying to have a baby. I think I realized that I had to stop equating my self worth with what my body was able/wasn’t able to do. For so long I thought it would be great to be pregnant, to use that as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. Three years of infertility later, I realized nothing outside of myself was going to make me feel like I was enough. I had to start believing it myself, and made a conscious effort to change the way I was thinking and speaking to myself. I had to stop equating my self worth with what my body was able/wasn’t able to do. -@mslynnchen Click To Tweet
How/where negative talk shows up in my life: As self-doubt, in the silence of rejection – whether it be for an acting job or not being included in something socially.
When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… Thoughts like “This is too hard to keep going.” And you know what – usually when I think that way, I’m right. It may be too difficult in that moment, but after a little recuperation, I’m fine.
When others talk negatively about themselves… This is a really hard one for me, because I know where they’re coming from. I’ve been there. But when someone I know well casually calls themselves fat or puts down their body, it makes me feel like they are not being respectful of who I am as a body image activist. That even when I’ve asked them to remove those words from their vocabulary and they choose to still use them in front of me, I’m not being heard. So I’ve started saying nothing now, but that doesn’t feel right, either. I’m still working on it.
It baffles me that women still…think that saying they’re “feminist” means they hate men.
I wish that more women… Wouldn’t talk shit about other people. This goes for men, too, but I do find that gossip circles arise the most when I’m with my female friends.
The coolest thing about women is… Our public restrooms are always cleaner! But then there is always a longer line…
My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: I’ve never gone out for ice cream and not felt better afterwards.
My top female role models: I really enjoy learning from/watching Oprah, Nigella Lawson, Ina Garten (especially with her husband Jeffrey) and listening to Terry Gross and Starlee Kine.
Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… Gently saying, “Stop.”
Favorite movie(s) to watch when I’m feeling down: Usually something from the 80’s. And it helps if there are Muppets involved.
Favorite empowering book(s): Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume. I still re-read it every few years. A good reminder of how things can shift and lose their importance.
My feel-good playlist: My Baby Just Cares for Me (Nina Simone), Not Too Soon (Throwing Muses), Combat Baby (Metric), Call Your Girlfriend (Robyn), Can I Kick It (Tribe Called Quest), Debaser (The Pixies)
Advice I would give my… …4 year-old self: There will always be more cookies. …14 year-old self: There will always be more boys. …24 year-old self: There will always be more.
5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: I haven’t made a bucket list. I think I used to have one, but setting long-term goals is something I’ve given up on. I will share 5 things I intend to do this week, though, and if I accomplish all five it will be a miracle:
Give myself a pedicure that doesn’t look like a five-year-old did it (I haven’t been to the salon since this article came out)
Spend quality time with one of my favorite people, Anna Gilbert Zupon, who recently had a baby.
Clear 50% of my DVR queue (mostly Food/Cooking shows).
Pack everything for an upcoming trip to Taiwan in one carryon.
Stay healthy while traveling – I have a weak stomach, lower back, and sensitivity to heat stroke so I’m a little nervous.