Changing The Story

Ninel at the 2013 EDRS Conference

Ninel at the 2013 EDRS Conference

Each year at the annual EDRS conference we gather to bring awareness to, and change the story for people with eating disorders. The first evening reception of the conference was all about changing the story from self-loathing to self-love. The Body Positive premiered their new video “This is Beauty” campaign. It was a first time experience for some people in the audience to hear a woman saying she loved her body. Comments from the audience were reflective of many people who were changing their personal stories for the better.

Next on the schedule was … continue reading Changing The Story on

Love Warrior 2012

The Love Warrior for 2012 is Deborah Brenner-Liss PhD!

Michelle Minero MFT honors Deborah Brenner-Liss PhD with the Love Warrior 2012 award at the 6th annual EDRS conference Feb 2nd- 4th in support of Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

When a group of Eating Disorder specialists from EDRS, (Eating Disorders Recovery Support Inc.) Beyond Hunger and Body Positive gathered to prepare for this year’s conference, they nominated Deborah Brenner-Liss PhD for this year’s Love Warrior. She was unanimously agreed upon by her cohorts.

Deborah moved to California in 1985, it was her vision to develop an organization that replicated the clinic she had left in Manhattan, which had a direct-service clinic, a training program, a prevention division, a research component, a group department, an intake department, and a community outreach effort. In addition, she wanted to create an opportunity for eating disorder therapists and other professionals to know one another, network with one another, and have access to learning opportunities and collaborative opportunities with one another.

Out of these goals she created The Association of Professionals Treating Eating Disorders, a non-profit organization in San Francisco, serving the Bay Area for over 25 years. Her life’s passion has been to promote recovery from eating disorders.

I encourage anyone who holds a passion for recovery work to fill in the spots that will be open when Deborah reduces her time with Apted to care for her father, and to enjoy her grandchild who is expected this June.

When we ask ourselves “What would love do?” Deborah shows us that one way to express love is through service to others.

Thank You Deborah for your dedication, hard work and compassion!

How might you answer the question “What would love do?” Your answer will be uniquely yours. I look forward to hearing your ideas and actions.



Why I Co-Created the Love Warrior Community

Me (Emelina) and my mom, Michelle Minero, at the 2012 EDRS Conference.

The EDRS Conference

I attended the EDRS conference this year in Petaluma. “Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc. is a Marin and Sonoma County based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting community awareness of eating disorders, professional education and collaboration, and providing treatment scholarships to California residents that need financial assistance for treatment.”

Every year EDRS puts on a conference in Petaluma, CA, amidst Sonoma and Napa counties, the wine country. This year was their 6th conference, and the second I have gone to.

The main thing that sticks out to me in EDRS’ above mission statement is collaboration. Going to these conferences the main thing I have picked up on is the warm, welcoming, honest and open energy. It’s that energy that fosters great collaboration. It’s that energy that fosters open and honest dialogue, the kind of dialogue that is needed to heal, the kind of dialogue that opens minds to new ideas, thoughts and insights. It is that energy that fosters connection, with oneself and with others.

The day before the conference I was fighting off the end of the flu and I was fighting off mental exhaustion from overworking myself. During the conference and after it ended, I noticed a shift, a shift in my energy, in my mindset, in my confidence and in my openness. It was a positive shift.

I was invigorated and recharged by surrounding myself with this strong group of healers. I was surrounded by this strong, feminine, creative, open, beautiful energy. I was surrounded by a group of people from all over the Bay Area and the country who were so deeply passionate about the same things: recovery, self-love, healing and helping others to find their authentic selves.

My Passionate Family: The Eating Disorder Recovery Community

I entered the conference knowing some of the people, my mom (Michelle Minero), the EDRS board and some of the therapists and intern therapists. Growing up with my mom and being surrounded by the strong women of this community, it wasn’t new to me. But I left the conference really connecting with everybody. I felt like I came into the conference knowing the community members as acquaintances and I left the conference with a family.

And my expanded family is passionate and they are passionate to help the world shift in a more positive direction, whether it’s through creating a dance therapy program for eating disorder recovery, creating a Sonoma County Health at Every Size organization, creating an eating disorder recovery app, creating a Recovery Warriors online community, helping women in Africa, spreading the message of being body positive to middle schools, high schools and colleges, regardless of their passion and their project, the ultimate goal is the same — helping people love themselves, helping people find their authentic selves, helping people to feel empowered, and then watching those we helped take that love, that vitality and that passion and watching them flourish as they help others in their own way.

The way we help people may be different. Our passions may have a different angle. We may have a different project, but we all have a project coupled with a passion, and if not a project, we have a passion, and each and every unique passion and idea is rich and filled with beauty. And within this community of healers, of people in recovery, people who have recovered, people not yet recovered, of family and friends — the people within this community are so deeply passionate about helping people to ultimately love themselves.

Self-love is expansive. It’s a paradox. It’s not tangible in the way a car is or your kitchen table. You don’t see it as an object, but it is tangible. You can feel self-love. You can see self-love through the eyes of others. You can feel self-love in a hug. You can feel self-love as an expanding warmth throughout your body. Self-love is tangible, not in a concrete literal way, but you can feel it. You can see it. You can hear it. You can smell it and you can touch it.

The great thing about the eating disorder recovery community being so deeply tied to self-love is that it creates Love Warriors. It creates these deeply passionate people who want to create change within our culture and who want to encourage others to be Love Warriors. And the great thing about self-love is that it is limitless. When you love yourself you are capable of anything. When you are balanced and healthy as an individual in all aspects of life: emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc, then your energy begins to effect others. It’s contagious. One person’s self-loving energy inspires another’s.

It’s the individuals that make up the culture. When you have an increasing amount of self-loving individuals, your community, your culture, your society, your relationships with others, with the environment, with everything benefits because you have a strong relationship with yourself.

Why did I create the Love Warrior Community with my mom?

A question I got asked often at this year’s EDRS conference was why did I help create the Love Warrior Community with my mom? Why am I so passionate about self-love, self-acceptance and body acceptance?

I am not a registered dietitian, a nurse, a doctor or a therapist. I don’t know what the journey is of experiencing and living through an eating disorder.

So what drove me to create the Love Warrior Community with my mom?

Self-love is not exclusive to people within the eating disorder community. It is not exclusive to the body positive community. Self-love is not gendered. Every single person can benefit from self-love. The most confident self-loving person in the world can benefit from self-love. There is no such thing as too much self-love because self-love is about balance. It’s about understanding and acting on your needs.

Loving yourself is listening to yourself. It is listening to your body. It’s being open to, feeling and understanding your emotions. Self-love is loving who you are, all of your differences and quirks — everything that makes you unique. It’s seeing the beauty and the gifts in your diversity.

My mom came up with the quote:

How would your life be different if you loved yourself and your body?

What if that were true for everyone? What if everyone in the world loved themselves and their body? Can you begin to imagine the global shift that would come from that? Can you see the amazing beauty, connection and collaboration that would come from that?

I can and cannot imagine what would come from global self-love. The possibilities for great things would be endless. The only thing I can imagine is a feeling, a feeling of great energy, beauty and connection — this global citizenry where people see each other as people and where people begin to connect and relate to one another on a basic human level.

Everyone has a self-love journey

Everybody has a self-love journey and a personal relationship with self-love, mine is rooted in my sexual orientation. I had my first crush when I was 5-years-old. That was when I knew I was a lesbian. I came out to my best friend in my senior year of high school when I was 18. I came out to my immediate family when I was 19, when I came back for winter break from college. Coming out is a process. You don’t do it once and then are done with it.

I was always an optimistic and positive child, but there was obviously something that I did not accept about myself if I waited 14 years to come out. Accepting my sexual orientation as part of my whole identity and learning to be comfortable with that aspect of myself, with myself and within our culture, that has been my journey with self-acceptance and self-love.

Everybody has their story when it comes to self-acceptance and love.

Why I helped create the Love Warrior Community

It saddens me when I see people in pain and struggling with self-acceptance on any level and for any reason. It angers me to realize that our culture helps breed insecurities in people in a lot of different ways. I also realize that change starts with us on an individual level.

We have the power to change our culture — because we are the culture. Our communities are made up of hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of individuals. We have power over ourselves and that’s where global change begins, with ourselves.

My passions are rooted in people, truly connecting with people, finding out what makes them tick, what drives them, what motivates them, what impassions them. Helping people to love themselves and to live their passions impassions me because to then see the impact that supporting one individual has — it blows my mind.

If you support one person in living their passions and help them contribute their gifts and passions with the world, you see self-love expand in a way that you could have never imagined.

This is why I created the Love Warrior Community with my mom. Ending eating disorders sounds like a lofty goal, but it’s not. Global citizenry sounds impossible, but it’s not. Spreading self-love on a global level sounds crazy, but it’s not. Nothing is impossible when it’s grounded in the power of self-love, nothing.

I want you to get involved in the Love Warrior Community

I want you to get involved in the Love Warrior Community by investing in yourself and by investing in self-love. I want everyone to get involved in the Love Warrior Community. I want people to use our tools, others’ tools, whatever tools to help build a conscious self-love practice and then I want to watch us flourish and see us spread self-love to others through our own unique passions and gifts.

That is the goal for the Love Warrior Community, to enable people to build a conscious self-love practice, to enable people to live as Love Warriors and to enable people to contribute to the world in whatever way they’re most passionate about.

The Tools of the Love Warrior Community

We are the strongest tools of the Love Warrior Community. The other tools are meant to help strengthen ourselves so we can shine.

Writing, art, photography, music and video — creative expression are some of the tools we use to strengthen our self-love practice.

Anyone can create their own writing, art, photography, music and videos to submit to the Love Warrior Community. Anyone can find inspiring creations by others to submit to the Love Warrior Community. And everyone can read, listen to, watch and look at the creations of others.

Anyone can also create for themselves without sharing it with the Love Warrior Community. You can participate in writing self-love reflections in your own journal, without the intention of publishing your writing on the Love Warrior Community. You can make your own SoulCollage® cards, your own music for yourself. You do this for you.

If you share your process and your journey with the Love Warrior Community by publishing your creations to our site, it will help others. If you write, create art and use these tools and don’t publish them on the Love Warrior Community, it will help others — because either way you’ll be helping yourself, strengthening your own self-love practice and those around you will feel your shift. They will feel your energy. Loving yourself will help others to love themselves.

What’s in the Love Warrior Community?

The Love Warrior Community is a directory of body positive, self-empowering, inspiring, self-love driven media and anyone can contribute to it, anyone can view it and anyone can interact with it.

Writing, videos, art, photography and music, we have a directory for each one. To submit something to the Love Warrior Community, you go to its directory and fill out the video, writing, … and art submission form.

Love Warrior Community Videos

The Love Warrior Community Video Directory is filled with all of the videos that we have posted to the site and that others have submitted to the site. You can find recorded poetry slams, like Katie Makkai’s Pretty. You can find video interviews, like the Love Your Tree interview excerpt with Eve Ensler in the documentary “America the Beautiful”. You can find guided visual mediations, like the  Sounds and Visions to bring peace into the world from the Chi Center. You can find web series and skits, like Joy Nashes mini-series A Fat Rant. You can find short films, like Boundin’ by Pixar.

Anything in video format, short films, documentaries, web series, readings, poetry slams, interviews, skits, guided meditations, dance, recordings of events, anything that you can think of in video format can be created and shared with the Love Warrior Community.

Here’s an example of one of the videos on the Love Warrior Community, Eve Ensler’s Love Your Tree:

Love Warrior Community Writing

The Love Warrior Community Writing Directory is filled with poetry, quotes, short fiction, body love letters, body forgiveness letters and self-love writing reflections on the self-love writing group blog.

Here are two examples of the kind of writing you can find in the Love Warrior Community, a poem and a body love letter:

Love Warrior Poetry: We Have Come To Be Danced

We have come to be danced
Not the pretty dance
Not the pretty, pretty, pick me, pick me dance
But the claw our way back into the belly
Of the sacred, sensual animal dance
The unhinged, unplugged, cat is out of its box dance
The holding the precious moment in the palms
Of our hands and feet dance.
We have come to be danced
Not the jiffy booby, shake your booty for him dance
But the wring the sadness from our skin dance
The blow the chip off our shoulder dance.
The slap the apology from our posture dance.
We have come to be danced
Not the monkey see, monkey do dance
One two dance like you
One two three, dance like me dance
but the grave robber, tomb stalker
Tearing scabs and scars open dance
The rub the rhythm raw against our soul dance.
We have come to be danced
Not the nice, invisible, self-conscious shuffle
But the matted hair flying, voodoo mama
Shaman shakin’ ancient bones dance
The strip us from our casings, return our wings
Sharpen our claws and tongues dance
The shed dead cells and slip into
The luminous skin of love dance.
We have come to be danced
Not the hold our breath and wallow in the shallow end of the floor dance
But the meeting of the trinity, the body breath and beat dance
The shout hallelujah from the top of our thighs dance
The mother may I?
Yes you may take 10 giant leaps dance
The olly olly oxen free free free dance
The everyone can come to our heaven dance.
We have come to be danced
Where the kingdoms collide
In the cathedral of flesh
To burn back into the light
To unravel, to play, to fly, to pray
To root in skin sanctuary
We have come to be danced
We have come.

– Jewel Mathieson from This Dance: A Poultice of Poems

Body Love Letter: Wear Sunscreen

Dear Body of Mine,

There’s a verse in a speech–turned–song called “Wear Sunscreen” that reads “Enjoy your body, Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.” When stripped of all the material aspects in our society, we are all equal in that we are breathing, living, thriving human beings. Our bodies are our most basic and advanced foundation for our lives. So Body, thank you for being so great. I will still love you when gravity takes its toll on you and the elements wither you away. I’ll try to keep you as strong and healthy as possible, because if you are strong and healthy, I will be, too. You are the greatest instrument I will ever own.

– anonymous

Love Warrior Community Music

The Love Warrior Community Music Directory is filled with videos of the songs, accompanied by the lyrics. Some of the songs you’ll find in the directory are Video by India Arie, Closer by Goapele, Firework by Katy Perry and Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars.

Here is one of the songs in the Love Warrior Community, Private Party by India Arie:

Love Warrior Community Art

The Love Warrior Art Directory is filled with art, paintings, collage, body masks and SoulCollage®. You can submit drawings, pictures of your sculptures, anything that you can create.

The cool thing about witnessing what others share to the Love Warrior Community is that they also accompany their submission with the reason why they want to share it. When you submit a video, a song, a photo, a piece of art, you also share why. What does that artwork inspire in you? What is the story behind the photo? How does that song empower you? The personal meaning and story behind what we are sharing can be just as strong as the creation itself.

Dancing in the Light of the Moon by Michelle Minero

This painting was inspired by a conversation I had with Anita Johnston PhD, author of “Eating in the light of the moon”. She told me she was thinking of writing a second book with the title of “Dancing in the light of the moon.” The title caught my imagination and resulted in this painting. I dream of a day when all women will inhabit their bodies with joy and feel secure and free enough to dance naked in the light of the moon. Until then I look at this painting as a glimpse of our future.

– Michelle Minero

Love Warrior Community Photography

The Love Warrior Photography Directory will be filled with images that inspire self-love, joy, calm, relaxation and empowerment. We will also have a directory of self-love portraits of non-air brushed real people.

Photo Credit: Michelle Minero

This is the picture of my daughter right before her guests arrived at her wedding shower in Maui. She had been living in Maui for only a year and although the location is gorgeous, it was a hard transition for her due to her challenging new career. My daughter does a good job of loving herself, which was evident in the number of friends she had created in a short period of time. I wasn’t expecting the large number of close friends that came to celebrate her upcoming wedding. Each girl friend had an intimate and close connection to my daughter. I realized this is the gift of self-love. When we love ourselves, we love others more easily as well.

– Michelle Minero

Developing your self-love practice

Simply reading, watching and listening to what others share can be a powerful experience. And you don’t have to share your things publicly through our website or group blog. You can write in your own self-love journal. You can create paintings and not submit them here.

You do whatever is most comfortable for you. You can use these tools to customize and create a self-love practice that works best for you.

One of my favorite aspects is the writing, especially the group self-love blog where we write self-love reflections. When I write daily, or almost daily, it helps make me conscious about self-love throughout the day. It helps me guide my thoughts, actions and decisions with self-love. And it’s empowering to read the honesty and self-love journey of others.

Writing, reading, commenting, participating in this community — it helps foster a safe, supportive, welcoming environment for one to work on self-love.

Each video, each song, each poem, each self-love journal reflection is on its own page that people can comment on, interact with and can use to relate to their own self-love journey. Each song, quote, body love letter is accompanied by a question to get us thinking consciously about self-love.

Take time to explore the Love Warrior Community.

The Love Warrior Community Grows With You

Soon we’ll be adding more to the Love Warrior Community: templates and actions. A template for writing a body love letter and a body forgiveness letter. Templates, suggestions, prompts and ideas for getting the most out of creating with the intention of self-love and healing.

We’re also creating a list of more concrete actions, like looking into your eyes when you look into the mirror and telling yourself that you love yourself when you wake up in the morning, or leaving positive affirmations on your mirror or wall, or taking some time to rest, or meditate or go out into nature.

And we’ll be creating a “Street Team” section. Ways that people can help spread the Love Warrior Community online, ways that people can help spread the Love Warrior Community offline, like printing out fliers to give to high schools, colleges or cafes and creating events and groups to bring the Love Warrior Community offline, like Love Warrior Community clubs at colleges or Love Warrior book clubs, poetry readings and events that you can put on in your community.

We Want You To Get Involved

We want suggestions and input. Do you have self-love actions that you want to add to our list? Is there something we can improve upon? Is there something you want us to add? In what ways do you envision the Love Warrior Community growing? In what ways do you envision yourself helping us grow? How do you want to specifically get involved? What is it that you need in a self-love practice? Can the Love Warrior Community provide that? And if not, then maybe we can provide information to the resources.

We Want An Active Community Where You Make A Difference

We’re also going to make the Love Warrior Community a more active community. I created an online community called Community Bucket List where people can submit action oriented bucket lists. An action oriented bucket list allows people to share what they’re passionate about and it allows people to focus on 1 to 3 goals, projects or experiences that they want to work on or experience now, in the present moment.

The action-oriented bucket list enables people to focus on why they are passionate about working on X now, what is the first step they will take, what is a brief outline of their action plan and it gives people a platform to ask for specific or general help and support.

A common theme I realized at the EDRS conference is that everyone was passionate about something. Everyone had a project or a goal or an idea of how they wanted to use their passion to help others, whether it was creating a dance therapy recovery program, or creating a local Health at Every Size organization or creating an eating disorder recovery app — everybody was filled with passion and the motivation to help others.

Soon we will be adding a larger Community aspect to the Love Warrior Community that will focus on you. You and anyone will be able to share your passion projects relating to eating disorder recovery, body acceptance, self-acceptance and self-love that you have created, that you want to create and that you want support on. As a growing community of passionate active members, we will be able to support each other in our different passion projects that all serve the same goal: helping people to love themselves and helping people to find their authentic selves.

Where To Begin

Explore the Love Warrior Community. Look at the directories that speak to you, whether it be art, writing, videos, music or photography. Look through them all. Listen to a song. Write a comment. Read a Body Forgiveness Letter. Read the self-love reflections in the Self-Love Warrior group blog.

Once you sift through the body positive, self-love driven media, create something, either for your own eyes or to share with the Love Warrior Community website.

Share this website. Share the self-love writing group blog. Share individual poems, artwork and songs. Share it with your friends verbally. Share it via email. Share it on Facebook. Share it on Twitter. Write about it on your blog. Put a link to the Love Warrior Community on your website. Share it anywhere. If you’re a healing professional, share it with your clients. Share it with the world.

Where to start? Check out the year-long self-love writing challenge. Our January focus was taking at least 10 minutes each day to write and consciously think about self-love. Our February focus is to write with this question in mind, What would love do?

We want to know your thoughts, your input, how you’d like to get involved and what you’re passionate about. We want to know what projects you are working on. We want to know your vision for bringing love and healing into the world. Leave a comment below or send us a private email, which will be sent to an email account that both myself and my mom, Michelle, look at.

Thank you. :)

– Emelina Minero