Rewrite Beautiful

Hello beautiful,

I love the sudden feeling of connection. The one where you're mid sentence sharing with someone and suddenly you see the other person’s eyes soften, the corners of their mouth create a smirk, while simultaneously everything around you slows down. Then, your brain registers, “They get me.”

I have had this experience with the students in the Rewrite Beautiful programs. There is a distinct stillness that comes over the room when I talk about seeing people’s beauty for their creativity, kindness, and strength. Whether it’s a group of 10 year olds or 30 year olds, everyone wants to live in a world where we look beyond the surface. A world where we take more time to notice people’s character rather than their physique. Where we spend more time admiring our own actions and less time criticizing the flesh and bones that house our soul.

This concept is something Rewrite Beautiful has been reinforcing through our message of creativity, kindness and strength since its inception in 2010. Rewriting the definition of beauty is an ongoing effort-just this year we educated 1,400 students. However, it takes great time and energy to maintain the thousands of connections we have cultivated. The effort and resources needed to maintain and grow our organization far exceeds our current capacity. Acknowledging this, the Rewrite Beautiful board of directors and I have mindfully chosen to celebrate all that Rewrite Beautiful has accomplished and dissolve the organization at the end of 2015.

I would like to personally thank all of our donors, board members, Beautiful Actionistas, and volunteers who have given so generously to Rewrite Beautiful. Your dedication has changed many lives for the better. Here are just a few of the things you have helped make possible:

1. According to our stats, we kicked ass at educating on eating disorders and changing the way people see beauty. Since 2010, we have educated over 6,000 people. After our school programs, students as young as 10 years old reported:

▪ Having greater knowledge about the harm of eating disorders than before the program.
▪ Being able to name local eating disorder recovery resources.
▪ Feeling more compassion for people struggling with mental illness.
▪ A change in their idea of what makes themselves and others beautiful.

2. We made the taboo cool. We creatively engaged people in the conversation about eating disorders by:

▪ Hosting 3 art shows, highlighting the work of 20 Southern California artists.
▪ Teaching 12 street art workshops to over 300 participants.
▪ Supporting 12 Beautiful Action Clubs across the USA and Korea.
▪ Publishing a book and workbook that is now used as narrative therapy in addiction rehabs.

In total you have helped us work with over 42 different groups and organizations.

3. We changed the course of many lives. One that sticks out to me is Julia Schaeffer, a program participant who said,

“I struggled with bulimia for 6 years. The disease told me that I am worthless, ugly and a burden. But, the night I met Irvina through Rewrite Beautiful my life completely changed. For the first time ever, I realized that I had a disease and that there are people who understand my struggle and want to help. Before this evening, I had no idea there was a way out of this nightmare. This organization saved my life.”

I think that calls for a slow clap for all of us.

As an organization that has focussed on prevention, we have voted to donate our remaining funds to Teen Line: a non-profit that prevents teenage suicide. We chose Teen Line because eating disorders are the most deadly of mental illnesses, these deaths are due to suicides and heart attacks. The rest of our goods (art supplies, books and t-shirts) will be donated to Orangewood Children’s Home and The Salvation Army. Also aligning with the Rewrite Beautiful mission to create a better future for our youth and provide rehabilitation to those struggling with addiction.

My hope for all of you is that you continue to live out the Rewrite Beautiful message. One way I personally do this is every morning I think through what’s on my schedule and then I visualize how I will use my creativity, kindness, and strength that day. When I am mindful to carry out these actions, I see myself and others in a more beautiful way. You should try it-it has actually been statistically proven to make the world the kind of place we all want to be in :) As for me, I’ll be making art, writing, and pondering the next universal truth. If you'd like to connect with me, you can do so in the universal photo booth, Instagram @IrvinaKanarek.

You’re Beautiful,

Irvina Kanarek 
Founder + Rewriter-In-Chief

Posted: Dec 22, 2015
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Today we worked with clients and parents at Center For Discovery in Newport Beach, an eating disorder rehab specializing in treatment for those 18 years old and younger. It's a privilege to play a part in helping people rewrite their stories. A special thanks to our supporters who make this work possible and to the clinicians working day in and day out against this disease. 

 

Posted: Aug 25, 2015
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The cost for today's program at Girls Inc. of Orange County was completely covered by our supporter, Danise Otis. Last year Danise organized her own fundraiser in order to support our eating disorder prevention work. A great reminder that it doesn't matter if you are young, old, rich or poor, a little creativity goes a long way! 

Posted: Jul 13, 2015
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Today we prevented eating disorders and rewrote beautiful with over 120 girls and staff at Girls Inc. of Orange County! A new perspectives can change a life, a community and eventually the world! 

Posted: Jul 12, 2015
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Today, Rewrite Beautiful prevented (and stopped) eating disorders with over 250 students! Great meeting you Talbert Middle School and counselor, Mrs.Nicole! 

Posted: Jul 8, 2015
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Today we worked with the 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Masuda Middle School! All 900 of these beautiful students rewrote the old cookie cutter idea of beauty into actions; creativity, kindness and strength! Thank you all for helping carry this message to the next generation of kids! You're going to make amazing role models! 

Posted: Jul 8, 2015
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Beautiful Girl of the Week is a series of Beautiful Girls who are stand outs for what they contribute to the world through their beautiful actions!  We feature the Beautiful Girl of the Week on the Rewrite Beautiful blog as an attempt to inspire other girls and women to use their own gifts and talents to impact their communities. Our hope is that bringing positive attention to women’s actions will inspire them to embrace their own creative calling!

Rachel is a fellow writing friend of mine who constantly inspires me! Whether she is writing a children's book, parenting her son, having a conversation with her husband or even just preparing to go to a writers conference, Rachel always gives 110% of herself to the task at hand. One of my favorite sayings is, "The purpose of life is to LIVE IT." Rachel fully lives her life and those who are in it reap the benefits of this beautiful womans labors of love. I hope you enjoy learning about Rachel as much I enjoy knowning her. 

Irvina: Tell our beautiful friends about a fun or exciting project you’re currently working on?

Rachel:  I am currently following a dream to create picture books worthy of the children who will read them.

Irvina: I've read some of your books Rachel and they are uber worthy! So Rachel, what is one of your greatest passions?

Rachel: Revealing to others their greatness.  It's amazing how many have forgotten how lovely they are.

Irvina: That's a rad passion and quite true! What a passion to have! What do you enjoy doing during your free time?

Rachel: Most anything, with the exception of laundry, dishes, and cleaning up dog poop. But writing and spending time with family and friends top the list.

Irvina: You just made me and the interns laugh! cheeky What is the single most bizarre thing you’ve ever done? 

Rachel: Crossing the border with my son, a cat, a rat and a lizard. 

Irvina: Wow! That sounds like an immigration story wink Whether it’s a hobby, a job or friendships, what would you say is your proudest accomplishment or achievement?

Rachel: Raising our son.

Irvina: Awe! Marin is a lucky little man! Of all the women you know, who exhibits the most beautiful qualities and why?

Rachel: The most beautiful women I know are those who've taken the time to get to know themselves and who freely share what they've found in the world. 

 Irvina: I like that a lot! And what would you pass on to younger generations about beauty?

Rachel: That beauty is simply a smile plastered across the face of a woman doing something she loves.  Nothing more. 

What actions do you find beautiful in the women you know?

What do you enjoy doing with your free time?

Join The Conversation Below!

Posted: Sep 19, 2012

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Beautiful Girl of the Week is a series of Beautiful Girls who are stand outs for what they contribute to the world through their beautiful actions!  We feature the Beautiful Girl of the Week on the Rewrite Beautiful blog as an attempt to inspire other girls and women to use their own gifts and talents to impact their communities. Our hope is that bringing positive attention to women’s actions will inspire them to embrace their own creative calling!

Once upon a time, 2 ½ years ago I traveled to Southern India with a bunch of Jesus People from ROCKHARBOR and Harvest India. While there I saw with my own eyes some of the most devastating human conditions in the world. I saw girls as young as 12 prostituting themselves to feed their families. Others worked as hired help in homes, their only job being to kill rats and mice. The caught rodent was their salary. They then cooked the rodent as a MEAL for their family. People have very different reactions when they see this kind of poverty. Some change their own spending habits and sponsor children to go to school and stop the cycle of poverty. Personally, I became even more passionate about Rewrite Beautiful. I saw how my education, personality and charisma could help so many people in India on this side of the pond. It made me think of how many blessings and resources American women have and how vital it is that we stop eating disorders so we can focus on helping others instead of harming ourselves.

Stephanie Pollaro’s approach was a little different. She was incredibly touched by seeing child prostitutes and wanted to do something to get them education and out of this trade. Seeing that need and utilizing her own passions Stephanie started a jewelry line called International Sanctuary (iSanctuary.) iSanctuary gets the girls out of the sex trade, sends them to school and teaches them how to make jewelry. I’ll let Stephanie tell you the rest!

Irvina: Oh my gosh, I’m so stoked to talk to you today! I know you’re so busy bouncing from Bombay to Orange County! Thank you! Thank you! Please tell us about a fun project you’re currently working on?

Stephanie is Beautiful! Stephanie: Along with Wendy Dailey, I co-founded International Sanctuary, a US based non-profit that advocates for the oppressed people of the world, educates communities about human trafficking and equips survivors with the skills to be integrated as valued members of their communities. I am proud to be apart of iSanctuary and serve along side some of the most fascinating and dedicated people in the world! Right now we are in the middle of launching iSanctuary's India Jewelry line: Strength & Beauty into the Indian market.  This is a huge undertaking as we have to build new branding, contacts and customer base.  It also has the potential to create an even greater level of self-sufficiency that will directly benefit the iSanctuary artisans in India. At the same time we are trying to streamline production so that we can be more efficient with our manufacturing, packaging, and shipping of our purposeful jewelry.

Irvina: Wow! That’s a lot of work! How exciting to see your business growing! I’m so happy to hear that! So Stephanie, besides jewelry and abolishing sex trafficking, what are you passionate about?

Stephanie: I am passionate about helping women realize and embrace their individual strength and abilities hidden inside them.  Globally, most women believe the lies that society, families, boyfriends tell them: that they are weak, good-for-nothing and just overall incapable. Nothing is more gratifying than to join a woman on her journey from that reality into the actual truth: that she is a beautiful, hand-crafted, strong, and amazingly gifted individual.

Irvina: So true! I love how you have made that passion apart of your entrepreneurial adventure with iSanctuary. It’s seriously INSPIRING! So, what do you do for fun?

Stephanie: I love long drawn out dinners at home around the table with my family.

Irvina: Awe! I’m sure! I love those too! I’m sure with doing so much international travel for work you miss them a lot. So, which action of CREATIVITY, KINDNESS and STRENGTH do you think you most exhibit in your community and WHY?

Stephanie: The answer depends on who you ask... I guess creativity is exhibited as I do most of the designing for iSanctuary jewelry.  Strength because it isn't easy to give up your creature comforts for a life in a developing country. Kindness cause this isn't just a business, we truly care about the women we serve and employ.  

Irvina: Love it! Who is the most beautiful woman you know and why?

Stephanie: One of the most beautiful women I know is my sister Sara.  Her beauty goes well beyond her physical attributes.  She has always been her own person--guided by her own ideas and desires.  She has a sense of humor that could make a sailor laugh and she doesn't apologize for it.  She cares deeply for others and works as an advocate for developmentally disabled adults.

Irvina: She sounds incredibly beautiful! What do you wish young women knew about beauty?

Stephanie: That different isn't wrong it's just different. There is so much beauty in how we are each specifically and uniquely created.  And with that understanding we as women should be able to walk confidently and proudly just the way we are.   

 

Posted: Apr 4, 2012

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Beautiful Girl of the Week is a series of Beautiful Girls who are stand outs for what they contribute to the world through their beautiful actions!  We feature the Beautiful Girl of the Week on the Rewrite Beautiful blog as an attempt to inspire other girls and women to use their own gifts and talents to impact their communities. Our hope is that bringing positive attention to women’s actions will inspire them to embrace their own creative calling!

Jenn is Beautiful! Jenn is an amazing woman I know from eating disorder recovery. Since Day 1, Jenn has always tilted her head, showing the utmost imporance of listening to me, given me words of wisdom and avalanched me in the ultimate bear hug before she sent me back into the world. I knew that I respected and loved her, but what blew me away with our interview was realizing how much I didn’t know about her. This woman is even more multi-dimensional, passionate and loving than I knew. It made me think about how many other people out there I might not be “seeing” all of? Check out our interview below. I’ll be shocked if you leave uninspired.

Irvina: Hey lover face! So tell me about a fun project you’re currently working on?

Jenn: Well it’s hard to say that I am just working on one project in particular. I really enjoyed making all my Christmas presents over the past holiday with a lot of inspiration from Pintrest.com. I didn’t realize how much I truly loved making gifts for people and using my artistic ability to create presents I was truly proud of and really got to put myself into them.

A great project i was working on at Apple (where I work) was iPads for soldiers who have been deployed for multiple tours of duty. I have been given a great opportunity being an intern on the Business Team at Apple. I truly get to enrich the lives of so many diverse and unique people in the world all through technology. I have an amazing job that allows and encourages me to use all of my talents from my love of photography and art to my experiences I have had growing up as a child of a Solider. Each day is fun and exciting and filled with so many challenges and successes. It’s humbling to know all of this is possible because my eating disorder is not the center of my life anymore.

Irvina: Wow, you’re a creative girl! And you’re right, I don’t see how you could do all of that amazing work while in your eating disorder. I have been amazed myself at the things I have been able to accomplish once I’ve had that monster off my back. I can only imagine the things you’ll do in the years ahead! Can you tell our readers something you’re passionate about?

Jenn: I am passionate about loving people, especially the wonderful people I have in my life. I am the proud “Auntie Jiff” of two beautiful little girls that are MacKenzie Grace, 5 years old and Charlotte “Charlie” Joy, 1 month old. They seriously make my heart feel all aglow! Recently, I got to do a whole photo shoot with both of them for the holidays and a birth announcement for Charlie. My photography has given me a creative and healthy outlet for so much that I use to keep inside. I also love playing music and painting. I have gone through some tough and beautiful parts of my life which I can translate into music. I love seeing that my struggle with an eating disorder and alcoholism was not in vain, but was so that I could get closer to a God that loves me more than I will ever be able to understand. I’ve also seen the good nature of people in recovery from addictions. These people invested in me when I literally had nothing to give in return. I have been afforded the lesson of grace in action without which I would not be here today, plain and simple.

Irvina: Jeez girl! What a parallel between the things you love to do now and the struggle it took to get there. Thank you for sharing that. It really reminds me of the priceless gift of LIVING without an addiction. So, what do you do for fun?

Jenn: For fun I love getting to hang out with family, my handsome husband and our little pound puppy Teagan Marie Charles! She’s a 1 year old, half Lab, half PitBull, Terrier Mix who can steal your heart and your shoes with those beautiful blue eyes of hers! I love going to museums and concerts with friends as much as I love having a great cup of coffee and a chat with a friend at Portola Coffee Lab. Quality time with people I love is what I love getting to do for fun. And occasionally I like to go on photographic adventures in search of the shot of the day, which will proudly hang on my bulletin board in my art room at my home. I also love going to a great farmers market and getting great fresh foods for the week, I think even though I am Scotch/ Irish (hence the red hair and blue eye) there just might be a little Italiano in this girl. Due to the fact that I am truly inspired by many Italian chef’s and their take on food, life and love!

Irvina: Awe! I love all of that! I want a puppy soooooooo bad! I’m jealous…in a good way! What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I can’t really say that I have done something crazy that I can remember standing out. But in thinking about it I have never been normal in any sense of the word, let’s face it who really is? I can remember a couple of things…

1. Being that kid in school who asked for more homework because I loved learning so much.

2. Having mini art painting sessions with my grandmother on her back veranda then having a private showing of what I had painted in the garage.  My grandfather framed and hung all of the paintings on the walls just for us to enjoy.

3. I built my first computer at age 7 because I was jealous that Doogie Howser (the kid doctor) got to use one to journal in and I didn’t.

4. I grew up loving art, soccer, hockey, running, read high school and college level science course books at age 9. I knew more about the construction and function of any army tank then most kid should ever know.

5. I also dreamed of becoming a part of the peace corp, because I wanted to travel the world helping people.

I have lead a creative and inspiring life and that is the craziest thing I have ever done. I refuse to let the world put me into a confined roll just because I am a girl and expected to act a certain way. I am a crazy one that believes I will make a difference in this world because I don’t see the world as it is, I see as I wish it will be.

Irvina: Um…Sorry, I think I lost my thought. You kind of just blew me away! I thought I knew you, but I now realize that I don’t. There is so much more to you and your story than I even know. Thank you for being so brave to be true to yourself. Thank you for being crazy-cool Jen! The world is better for it! I’m better for it! So back to the questions! Whether it’s a hobby, a job or friendships what do you contribute to the world that you’re most proud of?

Jenn: Hard to say what exactly I contribute but I try to be kind and passionate about everything and everyone that comes my way. I am truly proud of the fact that I am described as a loyal friend. At one time I was not loyal or reliable. Now I take comfort in knowing that I have the ability to love my family and friends with my whole heart and I hold nothing back.

Irvina: Beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. So, which action of CREATIVITY, KINDNESS and STRENGTH do you think you most exhibit in your community and why?

Jenn: My creativity comes through in my community as looking at the world through a kids eyes, I rarely act my age and absolutely cherish that about myself. I love being able to put people at ease and make them laugh because nothing in life is so serious that you can’t find time to play with a slinky or be so consumed with how a rain drop falls off a spider web after a wonderful rain shower.

I have been told that I have a kind spirit, I like to think that comes from my Grandparents on my father’s side they were great role models and are the main reason I thrive in life today. They were never unkind to anyone about anything. They loved completely and fully and I can only wish that after I am gone I will have exuded that kindness among the world I lived in.

My strength comes from my knowing that I have weaknesses and not being afraid to face them one at a time. I was never aware of my strength until I looked back after being in recovery for almost 6 years. I realized I was never supposed to live past 10 years old ( because of a heart defect I have) and here I am at 30 years of age, healthy, happy and always moving forward. I didn’t let one person determine my destiny and I didn’t give up because I may only be around a certain amount of time. I spent my time being a kid, climbing trees, surfing in Hawaii, traveling to Ireland working for a wonderful company. I have never limited myself.

Irvina: That’s incredible Jen. You are beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Who is the most beautiful woman you know and why?

Jenn: The most beautiful woman I knew was my grandmother Betty, she was a knock out with red hair, blue eyes and a heart of gold. She was my first best friend, art teacher, and all around super hero. She had great passion for everything she did from picking out table covers for the next church social to creating and sustaining the first arts education programs in the Glendora Unified school district and later the state of California. She always had time for everyone and could make you feel like you were the only person in the room. She had an amazing drive and confidence that stemmed from self-worth.  She helped me write a letter of concern to President Bush about the first Desert Storm War, because she and I always read the newspaper together. She reminded me constantly that I had a voice and no matter how young or old I was it should be heard. She always wore a fashionable pleated skirt and blouse with a sweater and always had her hair done and finger nails painted a blush pink, she was Pink way before Victoria Secrets ever was. She loved God her family and her civic duties to her community. I can only hope I make as much of an impact as she did on this world.

Irvina: Holy Shiz-Nick! She sounds incredible! What do you wish young women knew about beauty?

Jenn: My wish for women is that they understand true authentic beauty is that it simply comes from a place inside of your heart that allows you to love unconditionally. Not only others but yourself most of all. I do my best to tell my two little nieces all the time that they are absolutely precious and loved. I want them to grow up knowing that they are so loved and completely precious to their Auntie Jiff and so many others in their lives.

Irvina: I think with you around Jenn they will. Thank you for speaking with us. Your life has touched me deeply. Thank you. 

Posted: Mar 23, 2012

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Beautiful Girl of the Week is a series of Beautiful Girls who are stand outs for what they contribute to the world through their beautiful actions!  We feature the Beautiful Girl of the Week on the Rewrite Beautiful blog as an attempt to inspire other girls and women to use their own gifts and talents to impact their communities. Our hope is that bringing positive attention to women’s actions will inspire them to embrace their own creative calling!

A few years ago I worked at the Victorian, Eating Disorder Treatment home in Newport Beach, CA. While there I had the pleasure of meeting Marriage and Family Therapist, Maggie Baumann. The Victorian clients adored Maggie for her authenticity, insight and strength both in individual counseling and leading group sessions. As a co-worker I loved Maggie for how open, authentic and spiritual she is. The facility we worked in was challenging, but she brought a sense of order and calm with her wherever she was. She is one of those rare women that you feel you have known forever and could talk to for days on end. You’ll see what I mean through our interview below…. 

Irvina: Hello Mrs. Maggie! Thanks for talking to us today! I know you’re a busy, busy gal! So tell me about a fun project you’re currently working on?

Maggie: Before I recovered from anorexia, I deemed myself as someone who didn't deserve much ... that came in many areas ... like food, leisure and fun time or any special way to give to myself. I'd give to others with love freely, but not myself. As someone recovered, my perspective of who I am and what I deserve has changed drastically. I deserve to give to me in kind, healthy and compassionate ways. So I am actually doing something spectacular for myself. This may sound a little corny ... but I have lived in my beautiful house for nearly 18 years. I live a mile from the beach in a neighborhood of lovely homes with great neighbors. Although my home is very beautiful ...lots of light ... I even have a peek of the ocean which is one of the most soothing sights for me ... my home has been empty. My home wasn't really a home with the comforts of love spread throughout it. It felt empty like anorexia. I never really decorated my new home so many years ago because I felt I didn't deserve my home to be the way I wanted it to be. A sanctuary of peace and comfort for myself and my family. Yes, we have furniture but our house has never had the loving touch of making it a home that brings meaning to what makes me feel alive.

So right now, for the first time, I am in the stages of redecorating my house (with help because I am not creative in the decorating field) and making this into the home I always wanted for my family and myself. It's not about buying the most expensive furniture (because I am not), it is bringing LIFE and LOVE into my home that I thought I didn't deserve. I am even creating a Zen-meditation room in our loft. I am very excited. And of course, my theme is an ocean theme ... my most soothing environment I feel so peaceful in. Plus, my husband, an avid surfer, adores the ocean as well. So it's a perfect fit for our lives. To honor this endeavor, we will be having Christine, my oldest daughter's, wedding reception at our home this summer. Full of family and friends from the US and reaching to France. Christine married her French boyfriend last April in France by surprise. We planned the US reception for this August. I can't wait to share my new home with some of my new French family and all my American family and friends.

Irvina: Wow! That sounds like an amazing project. What a testimony to the fact that it’s never too late to “redesign” your life and the amazingness that can come from it. I can only imagine how rewarding it will feel to have a wedding reception in your home!  So besides your current flare for interior design can you tell us what are you passionate about?

Maggie: I have a strong faith and believe the light in me pushes me towards my passion to feed the souls of others who need healing in some part of their lives. I've been passionate about helping others since I was a little girl. It's engrained in my heart and the light never goes away. Some very special people were passionate about my healing and it's just like a gift for me to pay it forward to the next person, whomever that is -- my family and two adult daughters, friends, and people I don't even know that I see need a hand. One of my biggest passions I have yet to do is to volunteer in a hospital with the premie babies and touch them so they feel love. Sometimes the nurses are busy or parents may be away, but if I could just touch the skin of a little baby striving for life and let them feel a loving touch and a connection (and that they are not alone), that would be the biggest gift I could give.

As a therapist, I am living out my passion every day I work with my clients. It's really an honor to be in a position to help guide someone hurting to a place of peace they can find in themselves. Very special relationships are built in a therapist's office and it's built on full acceptance carrying no judgment of the client. And from that point working to build their trust in you so they can feel safe to do the healing work they need to do. I love my work. I admire my clients. 

Irvina: Wow, you have a huge heart. As a fellow earthling, may I just say, we are so lucky to have you! So love, what do you do for fun?

Maggie: Well, I discussed this new adventure into redecorating my house. This is really fun for me. I try to connect daily with my two daughters, one lives in NYC and the other in France. I enjoy my time connecting with them. I crave learning so I like to read books that help me be a better therapist. I also love to read medical mysteries. I love just laying on my bed with my two kitties and snuggling with them. I just call them kitties, but they are grown up cats. I enjoy the outdoors and being at the beach. I enjoy moving my body and listening to music that speaks to my heart. I enjoy watching old shows of Flipper with my husband. Dolphins are one of my favorite animals, and Flipper the dolphin always saved the day. I am wanting to learn how to stand up paddle (SUP) surfing when the weather warms up. My husband SUPs and it could be something fun we could do together in the ocean. I have a very creative side and I enjoy designing my own Christmas cards in very symbolic ways. I love photography and taking pictures of others and giving them their picture in a frame for a gift. I love to personalize my giving.

I also enjoy keeping my body healthy by exercising in a healthy way to keep my heart and bones as healthy as they can be. I enjoy running because I can put my music on and be in a space of freedom and peace as I ran past the beach or on the trails. Music is really important to making my life fun.

Although my life before I became a therapist was filled with writing stories of other people or important stories about the hospital I worked for, I never get bored of writing. I find it very therapeutic when I need to release emotions inside, and I find it fun to dialogue with others with my warped sense of humor. It's good to laugh at yourself in a loving way and laugh with others. Humor is contagious and I am quick witted about it in my writing and in my voice, although people may not always think of me as humorous.

Irvina: Your life sounds like so much fun! Gives me some great ideas to do for myself too! So Whether it’s a hobby, a job or friendships what do you contribute to the world that you’re most proud of?

Maggie: What I am most proud of is being a mom, a healthy mom. I was sick with my anorexia when my kids were in elementary school and older and I know even though I attended to their physical needs, my mind was not all the way there for them as a mother. It hurts me inside to know I was there but not fully because of my disease. My love for them never changed, but my ability to show the love did. The greatest gift that I am most proud of is becoming healthy and being the mom who can be there for my kids, even now as they are young adults. There is something really sweet when I get an email from with either of my girls now and they call me "Momma" ... it's such a loving, enduring way for me to know our love is solid as a rock and they know their mom is healthy. The best gift I ever received was when I turned 42 years old and one of my daughters created this framed piece of art that stated, "The 42 Reasons I Love My Mom." My contribution on a personal level goes straight back to giving to my kids and teaching them kindness and compassion. Because they each hold those wonderful qualities inside themselves and use them to contribute to their own world.

Irvina: That is so BEAUTIFUL! You’re gonna make me cry! So, which action of CREATIVITY, KINDNESS and STRENGTH do you think you most exhibit in your community and why?

Maggie: I believe "kindness" is one of my greatest assets to my community. To be a therapist, kindness to others must be part of your makeup, or you are in the wrong profession. Kindness is not something I work on being, it's just a part of me and it allows me to give to people in all different ways through work or when I volunteer and give to people I don't even know. It's important for me when I interact with others I am serving to be a safe vessel they can lean against without fear of rejection. Kindness is also something I learned I must have for myself to be authentically effective in giving to my clients. One goal of working with my clients is for them to learn to be kind to themselves. Self love is essential is any healing.

Irvina: Who is the most beautiful woman you know and why?

Maggie: That's an easy question for me. It's my best friend Patty. We have been friends since 4th grade and I would call us soul mates. We have been there for each others triumphs and struggles for many decades. We have true, unconditional acceptance of each other. Most recently, Patty, who lives in North Carolina, had to undergo scoliosis surgery and disk repair -- 9 hours of spinal surgery. I flew out to be with her in the hospital. You ask any doctor what is one of the most painful surgeries to have -- and most will say scoliosis surgery. There is a 3 to 6 month rehab after this surgery.  My friend is always beautiful to me, but she became even more beautiful in my eyes while she was in the hospital, enduring this intense pain that even hard core medication could not relieve all of it. I slept at the hospital so I could care for her. She wanted someone who loved her to be with her at all times as she was very scared about the surgery. She had only been in the hospital 5 times and that was to give birth to her 5 children. One night during my stay in the hospital, I heard her singing softly. I realized it was a prayer to God she was singing. I thought she was singing, "Please God take away some of this pain so I can sleep." I think that's what my prayer would have been. But when I went up to her to check on her, she was singing a prayer of gratitude’s to God. Thanking Him for all she had. Her children and family. Her house. Her car. Her animals. She kept this song going for a few minutes to thanking God for just normal things most of us take for granted. I was just in awe of this woman, my best friend, who had that much strength and faith to thank God is one of her most scary and painful times in her life. That incident made me realize how even more beautiful Patty is as a human being. It touched my heart deeply and made me feel even more special that she is my best friend and how blessed I am.

Irvina: She sounds absolutely incredible. I can see hints of how you both have influenced eachother greatly. I love the idea of women helping shape each others passions and values into the beautiful women we were intended to be. What do you wish young women knew about beauty?

Maggie: Beauty is complex because it represents so many things about you. Yes, you can have outside beauty but that is gift and not everyone may possess outside beauty. And those who do are often the hardest on themselves because the outside beauty can blind them to the other beauty they may possess inside. I think real beauty comes from the inside out. It starts in your soul and lights up your being. Inner beauty is kind, loving and something you wish to share with others. Inner beauty doesn't age, get wrinkles or change with time. Inner beauty can stay with you until the day you die. Do all women recognize their inner beauty? ... unfortunately not. They can be preoccupied on trying to perfect the outer beauty they lose interest in or don't recognize what is inside of them that is beautiful. I know finding the inner beauty to oneself is an outcome of over coming struggles with diseases like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or an addiction to drugs or alcohol. That's the amazing thing about true recovery is you find that behind all that chaos of the outside there lies beauty in all of us. I think that beauty varies from woman to woman because we all have our own unique talents and gifts. So inner beauty is in the eye of the beholder sometimes. The important thing is to be true to your own inner beauty and embrace it so it blooms bright, giving you the light to go out in the world and be who you are and follow your passion that is distinctly yours.  

Irvina: Thank you for speaking with us Maggie! Your interview truly touched me. I will most likely be back to read it again. You’re are an absolutely stunning human being!  

 

Posted: Mar 16, 2012

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