Tag Archives: Leanne Sype

Noticeably Imperfect

The reality of recovery is this: The healthier we get, the more noticeably imperfect we become. This is really uncomfortable for me, and today I find myself sitting in depression because of this truth.

Addiction of any kind, but specifically, for me, anorexia (the addiction to starving my body), serves as a sort of protection against being noticeably reflectingimperfect. I’ve been imperfect my whole life, and unfortunately in my formidable years, was bullied into believing that because of my imperfections I was ugly, invalid, unworthy, and unacceptable. I was outspoken and brave for a little while, which made things worse for me, and by eighth grade I placed myself along the wall where I wouldn’t be noticed as much.

As I entered into my adult years, the bullying ended but the world supported my invalidity and ugliness through cleverly disguised messaging : “Oh it’s okay. Nobody is perfect, but here are 500 billion ways to be perfect.” The world is filled with information, diets, medication, tips, products, and “secrets” that will make me better, to perfect those things that supposedly aren’t so great. So sure, I am not perfect but I am not good enough as I am either.

It’s maddening.

I had coped with the madness by developing an eating disorder and an obsession with perfectionism, hiding my imperfect self behind what I thought was more acceptable according to the way of the world–a super thin perfectly beautiful body, with a quiet and agreeable disposition and orderly lifestyle. This (seemingly) served me well for the last 13 years or so, until I reached a fork in my journey and was faced with two choices: die or recover.

I chose recovery. With recovery comes the revealing and rediscovering of the girl I had hidden away and had mostly forgotten about. As she begins to emerge, I find myself ashamed and uneasy about my imperfections and my voice (the part of me that speaks my place in this world); I am scared to death to let me show and be heard… because remember, I’ve been told my imperfections are ugly, invalid, and unacceptable by a harsh world. But I can’t have recovery and hide at the same time–if I choose recovery then I choose to be noticeably imperfect.

IMG_20150317_090306I’m discovering and learning to accept that I have a normal-sized body with curves (that thrives on food with carbohydrates, sugar, and fats), dry skin, an insatiable sweet-tooth, and a trick stomach that’s easily upset; I have a type-A personality that notices details, anxiously desires order, and doesn’t handle stress well; I am a woman in love with Jesus and hears/obeys his voice on a regular basis (this alone makes me wacky in a worldly sense); I adore the people who sit sheepishly alone on the wall whom the world deems as strange and useless; I have a nasally voice that, when I’m feeling brave, speaks strongly against the tide of popular thinking for the sake of Truth; I’m a mother who doesn’t like volunteering in her kids’ school (there, I said it.); and I’m a writer who constantly trips over the line into verbosity because I have a lot to say about stuff.

When I get scared and feel completely unworthy of boldly taking my place out-of-place in the world, like I feel today, I am tempted to run back into the disorder–to go back to the hidden path I walked so certainly for the last 13 years. But it leads to death. I can’t go back to that. I don’t want to go back to that. But I don’t want to be noticeably imperfect either because it makes me vulnerable.

So I sit down in the middle of the road, depressed, and cry.

It’s then that I am comforted by my (seemingly wacky) friend, Jesus, who says:

Remember that it’s the world that tells you your imperfectness–your unique humanness as Leanne–is not good enough.  But, My grace is sufficient for you for my power is perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I know the plans I have for you… plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).  He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6), [so] do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)


Embracing my "true voice"

I was born with a short palate. This means when I speak, air that normally would come out of my mouth to make certain sounds properly actually escapes up and out my nose. Sexy, huh? I sound nasally, essentially.


Remember this guy?

When I was a kiddo, about grade-school through early high school, kids were clever in showing me exactly who I sounded like. They’d pinch their noses and over-dramatize the Steve Urkel character from the show “Family Matters,” usually mimicking something I said that they deemed “dumb.” While their behavior was mean, their perception of what my voice sounded like was accurate. I did sound like Steve Urkel from “Family Matters.” And in all honesty, according to my generation’s “peer social code,” I embodied all the classic traits of a quintessential nerd. My nasal-voice added an extra special shine to my nerdiness.

I went through years of speech therapy until finally around 15-years-old my parents took me to the Child Development & Rehabilitation Center up at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU). The doctors there made me a retainer called an obturator, which is an oral appliance typically used in younger kidlets with cleft palates. I was a special case because I was a teenager with a short palate… and braces. This obturator fit over my braces and covered the roof of my mouth; it had a bulb at the end that essentially went up the back of my throat and plugged the hole where air was escaping. It was as uncomfortable as it sounds. I spent a year of my life gagging.

With kids making fun of me, my mouth full of metal and plastic, and feeling genuinely self-conscious about myself, but especially about my voice, I became quiet. Shy. A loner. My parents will tell you I was a talker at home and around family and that’s because I had a lot to say. But at school and other social events, I kept my voice hidden.


A lot of words living in that box.

I think this is why writing became a love for me. I discovered a joy for writing when I was 14. The page was a safe place to express my voice without judgement from others or questioning myself. It was a place where my pen could be loud and verbose, pouring out my thoughts and feelings through poetry and prose… I could say whatever I wanted without fear of mockery and rebuke. I have kept most all of my writing… hidden away in an accordion file-box in my office.

This morning I’m pondering the irony that the Lord gave me the gift of helping people express their voice through the telling of their stories, yet I hide my own. Although He has made it impossible for me to hide this past year, putting me at the podium to speak at conferences. I can’t lie; I love speaking… expressing my passion for writing and editing and life is energizing and exciting. I can’t deny that I have things to say.

I hear His voice everyday asking me to share what I have to say…  to share my story. (Blogging is a way for me to be obedient without fully being obedient.) I tend to hesitate, not allowing myself to fully let go.  I hate the sound of my verbal voice, and I am uncertain of my written voice. I don’t want to write a book because I’m scared it will be seen as dumb and whatever God gives me to say will be mocked.  I have hundreds of pages of writing I have no desire to publish… I am perfectly content keeping it all hidden away. Yet, the sound of my Father’s voice in my heart is getting hard to ignore.

My voice today doesn’t sound like what it used to. I don’t know if the obturator “fixed” my voice, but it definitely changed how I sound. Now I am compared to Fran Drescher, and I often get asked if I am from New York. My peers laugh with me instead of at me when I tell them I’m from California, live in Oregon and have never traveled farther than Minnesota.

Happiness isI am still self-conscious of myself and my voice, but I am learning how to just embrace me… I’m not like anyone else. I’m in process of becoming comfortable with my “true voice”–I sound awkward and different yet I’m passionate and honest and earnest and silly…

I’m wrestling with God’s desire for me to be bold and trusting and confident in using my voice; I’m getting there, and I hope that whatever I say, people will hear Him well.


New Year’s #Resolution–One Word


It is “that” time of year again, when we pick a bad habit, make a resolution to change, and become discouraged by February when we haven’t made the progress we were hoping—if at all.

As cliché as it sounds, the truth is we cannot change overnight or in a month or even in several months. Ditching old ways takes time because we feel comfortable and safe the way things are. We need time to not only develop new habits that are healthy, but also provide feelings of delight and success so we keep going. Resolving to start a running regimen to help you lose weight is a relatively safe and healthy way to exercise. But the resolution will fail if you would rather be chased by a pack of hyenas than to run by choice.

Change is a process of discovery through trial and error; we need time to grow results once we find what we’re looking for. January to February isn’t much time, so give yourself some grace if you are feeling discouraged. Give yourself the entire year, okay? 🙂

While goals are important because they help us measure progress and success, I shy away from life-changing resolutions. Instead I pick one word to focus on for the year, and I live  in a way that honors, engages, and illustrates the meaning to me. Last year I chose center. As a writer, a freelance editor, a mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, my plate gets full. I often let self-care of my needs slip right off the edge, leaving me feeling tired and empty. The intention of center was to find ways to anchor myself in the midst of life’s swirling tornado of demands, rather than becoming worn rubble at the end of the day.

LightuntomypathMidway through the year, I was out for a run (I love running!), engaging in something that allows me to feel good and tends to my self-care. As I turned a corner, I was met with the most gorgeous sunrise. Typically I don’t stop in the middle of a run because I have a schedule to keep; that day, however, I chose to stop. I had to. I admired and savored the picturesque scene in front of me. It wasn’t the run that centered me that day. It was the second I became present in the moment of what I was experiencing.

Who cares how far I go or how fast I get there if I don’t notice the beautiful things that are happening along the way?

My one word for 2014 is present. I cannot feel centered if I am not fully present in those sideline moments I take for myself, not to mention my everyday interactions. I don’t want to miss something that gives me perspective on what’s important in life. As I said last year, this isn’t about being self-centered. It’s about caring for myself – my heart, my spirit – so I can be better for others: my family, my clients, my community.

Remember, life is what gives us the material to write about. Setting goals for life gives us the journey to document through writing. Whether you create a list of resolutions or focus on one word for 2014, be mindful and take notes of what you’re experiencing this year. Live it, write about it, and share with the rest of us; your life gives us perspective in ours.

What is a resolution, goal, or word you would like to aim for in 2014?

Happy New Year!

A Rare Bird



I’m chuckling as I write this today. It’s been a long couple of months as I’ve been learning about celiac disease and how to live gluten-free. First of all, I’m feeling much better on a strict, 100% gluten free diet. All but one of my ailments  have gone into remission.

The last thing hanging on is a skin condition, which I didn’t know for sure was related to celiac disease. Until today. It’s called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). Sexy, huh? 😉

“So strange,” said my doctor, “It’s such a rare manifestation of celiac disease.”

“No, not strange. I’m usually the awkward one of the bunch in almost any situation.” 🙂

Rewind for a moment to this summer: [Pardon if the following is a bit TMI, but it’s part of my story, and I assure you it’s interestingly entertaining]. A couple of my illnesses diagnosed earlier this year have since turned out to be other symptoms of celiac disease. One was called interstitial cystitis (IC)– simply put, sensitive bladder. I essentially felt like I was experiencing chronic bladder infections, for two years.

During a scoping procedure (to make sure I didn’t have anything serious like cancer growing inside my body), the urologist brought my innards up on a video screen. She explained to me everything we were looking at and then grew silent. Obviously the silence prompted me to ask, “Everything else okay?”

“Oh yes. Everything looks great. You have a beautiful bladder!”

Well, now aren’t you just the sweetest thing! There’s a compliment I never expected to hear.

I recently learned that “bladder sensitivity” is also a rare symptom of celiac disease. A symptom that has now disappeared on my gluten free diet.

Back to today’s diagnosis of dermititis herpetiformis– my doctor revealed another little factoid, “Seems those who have celiac disease with the DH manifestation have a lower mortality rate than the general population who have celiac disease.”

I’m sorry. Come again? What does that mean?

The doctor laughed, “I guess your skin condition protects you somehow! So interesting isn’t it?”

Hm. Seems I’m a rare bird.

“By the way, usually DH doesn’t respond to topical treatments, but it looks like your skin is healing after only a week of being on it. I think we’ll hold off on the dapsone therapy and see how your body does.”

What is dapsone, you ask? I did. Turns out it’s a drug used for years and years to treat leprosy.

The whole situation makes me chuckle at my awkwardness. It’s something I am use to, and I embrace it. But I can’t help but love my mom’s perspective: “Your body just likes to be unique.”


In an effort to be honest– this is a tough one.

AshamedI hate food. I am deeply ashamed. In a world where many who have very little would do anything for even just a piece of bread, food is the bane of my existence. Literally. Even typing this I am so disgusted with myself I feel sick… the tears roll down in heavy shame that this is a fact in my story.

I  pray for a change of heart and shift in mindset, telling myself that food is a nourishing gift I’m lucky to have filling my pantry and refrigerator. I should enjoy it, honor it, eat it.

The truth is, food scares me… and it makes me angry. I’ve confessed recently that I struggle with anorexia. I am currently working to get my weight back up to a healthy place; thing is, I was also diagnosed with celiac disease a few weeks ago. My food choices have been significantly narrowed now that I must consume a 100% gluten-free diet.

Yes. I know it is much easier to eat gluten free now. I have been inundated with articles, books, recipes, websites, brands, advice, and warnings all from loving people who care about my health and well-being. I am appreciative and so grateful for all the knowledge and love given to me.

Here’s where I struggle. I am terrified and overwhelmed when I see even too much food on my plate. Now I have heavy, mental armload of information and instruction, “you should…,” “watch out for…,” “don’t eat this…,” “make sure you…” “definitely try…,” “remember that…,” “you can find…,” “don’t eat here…” “careful with cross-contamination…”

As I try to bring my weight back up to a safe and healthy place, I am scared to eat… anything. My armload of information contains an overwhelming swirl of facts, opinions, and perspectives… much of which contradict each other and are filled with more warnings than hope. While my body slowly becomes detoxed from gluten through the consumption of clean, organic, process-free foods, it seems to have become more sensitive to any ingredients that are not natural. So I’ve had many random days of illness, not knowing exactly what I ate that made me sick.

As a “celiac person,” I am trying to sort the differences between Celiac and “gluten sensitive,” and learn the ins-and-outs of what I can and cannot eat, how I need to prepare it, the best ingredients to use, what to look for on labels, what assumptions to make, and what to do when gluten sneaks into my system.

As an “anorexic person,” I am trying to rebuild my list of “safe,” healthy, nourishing foods, meals, and beverages that I feel comfortable consuming (mentally), that will allow me to thrive (physically and mentally).

As a busy mom, I am trying to streamline meal planning, grocery shopping, Doingherthingand cooking in a way that satisfies my dietary needs without turning my family’s world completely inside out… and scaring my kids. I need to teach them healthy habits. (My five-year old daughter is beginning to pepper me with questions about whether or not she can eat gluten, if she has to be gluten-free when she is a mom, and the worst, why I am not eating.)

As Leanne, I am trying to not be a burden when I go out to eat with my husband and friends or when I go to someone’s house for dinner. Not only do I have celiac disease, but my body rejects garlic, avocado, corn, and (possibly) chocolate (not ready to give this one up yet).

Food is frustrating.

When I thought our family had finally settled nicely into a healthy lifestyle in both food and activity (I had successfully maintained a healthy weight for three years), my body sort of flipped out. After several months of testing and research, turns out food is the culprit.

When I thought I was on a road of recovery away from my eating disorder, when I thought food wasn’t an issue anymore… turns out food is still a big deal, and more complicated than it ever has been.

This has been hard to write, dear readers. I am a positive, encouraging person. Right now, though, I feel pretty discouraged, ashamed… and hungry, quite honestly. I know that in time, I am going to get this all figured out, and eating will become a joyous, appreciative action of gratitude. It’s going to be a process, though.

Have you ever seen someone who is too skinny and thought, “Jeez, that chick should eat a cheeseburger?” Friends I tell you, I wish it were that easy. 😉