I have a new morning routine on the days that I don’t have to rush out the door somewhere. Currently I am sitting outside on my patio drinking coffee and enjoying the beautiful Colorado mornings. I generally write, color, listen to music, or just relax and watch my pups play in the yard. I am starting to get a glimpse of the first veggies to spring out of my garden and even this morning I have a first rose blooming on its bush. I am taking this time to practice the mindfulness that is so crucial to my life and recovery. I am soaking up every minute because I know that this summer is filled with extra time- fall bringing the added stress of graduate classes. I am very grateful for this time and the ability to be filled with life and beauty. My mind is no longer consumed with what I am going to eat or not eat for breakfast. I look forward to my workouts to be awed by my body’s ability, not to endlessly punish myself for eating that extra piece of candy or bite at lunch. I am genuinely feeling freedom for the first time since the eating disorder consumed me over a decade ago. I look back at the past two weeks on the many successes I have had and can’t help but grin from ear to ear. I went on vacation and had few destructive thoughts while at the lake in my bikini. I ate out numerous occasions ordering exactly what I wanted and eating intuitively until I was full. I even was able to indulge without crushing guilt. I missed workouts because other things like spending time with people were more important. I went clothes shopping and even found a couple of dresses and shorts that I love and feel comfortable in (see pictures below from Father’s Day!). My body image has been positive more than negative. I have been successful for two months without my treatment team. I am finding beauty in all areas of life. I started shadowing clients at a cancer rehab on campus. I am filled with excitement and anticipation for this graduate school adventure because I feel at peace and happy while there. As life has slowed down for me and as I have made a genuine effort to slow down my thoughts and day to day, the world has completely changed and opened up to me. I hope my joy can radiate off this page and encourage anyone struggling to keep pressing forward. Freedom won’t happen overnight, but as you realize that it is happening it is the greatest gift in the world. I would never wish that someone would have to struggle through the weight of mental illness, but the struggle gives me perspective on the world that I am thankful to experience. We all hear that life is short. I am thankful I am able to be mindfully present as the days pass which makes them seem fuller and more serene. I am actually living a life that I imagined growing up and I love being inspired by new things every day. Recovery is a beautiful thing.