By Rachel Dowda


This is the first year where I didn’t pledge to change my body; to lose weight and tone up and stop biting my nails. 

I’ve been making these resolutions for as long as I can remember, probably starting in middle school, and only getting harsher and harsher with myself as time went on. 

lose 10lbs by March.

stop eating sugar

do a juice cleanse

no carbs




feel disgusted

why can’t you do this

start monday

start tomorrow


But this year as I woke up on New Years day, turned on the tv, and saw commercial after commercial of diets and gym memberships, I had to mindfully calm myself and say, “Rach, dear, you don’t need that this year. You’re not going to be able to make that pledge ever again.”

Why can’t I make that pledge? Because I’m in the process of recovering from an eating disorder. And I don’t have that luxury anymore. 

And this year, kindness looks like adding things to my body instead of taking things away. Adding meals and nutrients and supports instead of taking away carbs and sugar. Taking away has always been a constant. Taking away self compassion and settling in shame. Taking away relationships and settling in isolation. Taking away the full range of emotions for a state of numbness caused by refusing my body the things she was created to grow and rest and thrive in. 

I try to shame myself into change, but shame actually shuts down the centers of our brain that focuses on growth and learning. Emptiness felt like self control and purity and goodness. But that emptiness eventually took over and fought back, causing me to grow weak and tired and feel so much guilt and shame. 

I need to throw away clothes that no longer fit. Why do I keep items that scream shameful words every time I open my closet door and drawers? Words that say, “We don’t fit you anymore, and that makes you a disgusting person. If you want us to fit, you need to be “good” and starve yourself. We promise you’ll be happy once you fit in us again”  Why do I struggle buttoning things that strangle me, and cause me to believe that breathing is a luxury I don't deserve? This year I want to fill my closet with clothes that wrap me in loving arms, telling me that I’m loved and beautiful and worthy. Just another stage of adding.

Now the irony is that by adding things, I’m experiencing guilt and shame. But transformation comes from kind attention to my body and my spirit, and since we are growing something every moment; and what you practice grows stronger, I’m trying to kindly put my hand on my heart and say, “Rach, eat up. Fill your body with good things. Choose to fill. Choose to drink. Choose to eat. Choose relationships. Choose mindfulness. The shame experienced when adding is not reality, and I’m trusting that it soon will be replaced with trust and wholeness.

From where I’m sitting, the light is hitting the floor, making it look like a kaleidoscope, and I’m in the center of light swirling around a room surrounded by glass, making me feel as If I’m in a green house, keeping me warm and protected as my roots sink deep and I grow taller and taller.

I’m surrounded by Spirit, in the middle of a kaleidoscope of goodness and love and fellowship. It’s surrounding like the ocean and filling like a cup of water, inside and out; protected, loved, whole, seen, understood, and so very safe. They already see me at the end, and I’m whole, and shining my own kaleidoscope light out of my chest.

And this beauty isn’t created by diets or black and white resolutions, but by filling and growing and light. So let’s live full this year.

Rachel Dowda

Rachel Dowda