Sunday, January 12, 2014

Excerpt from Chapter Five of my upcoming book "Stuffing Myself Silly: The Story of a Food Junkie"

Chapter Five

But My Belly Gets Cold When I Sit in the Tub  
When asked what he wanted from life, he said, I'll start with a written apology.” - B. Tier

“Steph, you have a homework assignment this week,” said my therapist.  “We want to work on changing your relationship with food by creating some new coping skills.  We’re going to do this by changing some of your behaviors.  Go and think about things you can use, other than food, to soothe yourself.  Jot down some tools you can have on hand to self-soothe in the middle of intense feelings.  Think of something that is healthier and more productive than food.  A bath perhaps.” 
Well, I thought. I contemplated and I researched.  I went back the next week and told her, “Kate, there’s nothing.  I cannot find one thing that works better than food.  Food is it.  I’m not trying to be difficult, it’s just the way it is for me.” 
But just to test it out I took a friggin’ bath and guess what?  I barely fit!  I had three mountains in front of me: my breasts and my Mount Rushmore – like belly.  And it was cold.  My belly was cold.  My body was submerged in the water, except for my freezing cold belly.  It wasn’t fun or self-soothing.  Would you be “soothed” if you felt like a canned sardine in your bathtub?  No, you’d be reminded that you were really fat.  Then you might eat a Big Mac to “soothe” yourself, like I did.  The moral of this story is that behavior modification is crap, period.  It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a piece of shit.  It’s still shit and it still stinks. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

"Even Though" by Steph Campbell - 5/17/2010

I have a good life.

I have an amazing son who is developing and growing more miraculously than I'd ever dreamed he would.  I take little credit.  He is his own grower.  Even though most of the time my mind tells me I am personally responsible for nearly everything that comes out of that beautiful mouth of his.  That I am accountable for all the movements he makes and choices he pursues. Even though this mind has staked my life on a one way silent agreement with God that he live a long, healthy and prosperous life - even though - he has his own path, his own way to make, his own thoughts.  He is his own grower.

I have a good life.

I have a roof over my head, money to pay my bills, a plethora of friends and love and family.  I have a voice that sings, music in my heart, and food in my belly.

I have a good life.

I can see and hear and my limbs work fine.  I can sit then stand I can breathe then hold my breath.  I have survived several wars of the mind and heart.  I have even died a thousand emotional deaths only to resurrect again and again and again.  I have a brother and sister whom I adore.  When I think of them tears come to my eyes. The complete and utter love that I have for them gives me goose bumps.

I have a good life.

Filled with wondrous children.  I get to hold them and hug them and kiss them and watch their little egos burst into life.  I get to coddle them and tell them how precious they are.  I get to see them buck authority and collapse into their parents ideas.  I get to watch them as they attempt to figure out which path to go, even though - there is no need to figure anything out.  I get to witness them not know this yet.

I have a good life.

And even though my life is miraculous in so many ways, I can still see... that part.  It lingers.  I feel it today.  It still drives the boat some of the time.  Even though my life unfolds as it will, and it's pretty good.  I suffer still sometimes.  I sense the unhealed part of me all of the sudden.  Out of nowhere it comes and out of nowhere it will go back to once I've paid it the respect it tells me it deserves.  The empty part of this mind that decided life has no purpose.  The day the mind told me "there is no God."

I suddenly remember the day it happened.  You know what I'm talking about, we have many days like this as the mind moves on through time and space.  When the carpet is pulled from beneath us and suddenly we've changed.  Oh I remember it well.  The decision that I was to take care of the world.  I was a caretaking trainee.  The decision that this was my only role, purpose.  Otherwise, there was no purpose to life, there couldn't be after this devastating day.

Fifteen years old.  I stood in the family line up while the visitors waited to pass on to us their heartfelt condolences.  Most of them in shock and pretending not to be.  The line was at least a mile long down main street.  The Amici Funeral home was now his residence and tomorrow the ground and the dirt would be his new humble abode.  The visitors came one by one and there I stood next to my barely making it schizo-effective mother - she was everyone's concern.  "Take care of your mother Steph" the visitors would whisper as they hugged me and moved onto whomever was standing next to me.  My little brother and sister got to swim that day.  I was older though, and needed to brave it.

"Make sure your mother is okay Steph", "Take care of your mother Steph", "Your mother needs you Steph."

It became a mantra that day.  For two days straight this went on.  For two days as I watched the pale white cold body lay there in a shiny wooden box.  A body that just three days ago I called Daddy.  How odd that we all gather and visit and laugh and hug and talk while the cold pale body stuffed with chemicals just passively lay in the corner in the box that will have dirt thrown on it.

Finally, I've made it through.  It is now 8:50 pm, ten minutes until my freedom.  My jaw aches from smiling and holding back tears.  My mind agreed with the visitor's - I could not cry because I needed to be strong for my mother.  So for two days I did not cry.  I stood stoic next to this woman who - my mind told me -needed me.  Finally I go to kneel with my Daddy, I touch his arm.  I notice the part of the box that is propped open.  This part will close tomorrow and I will never see his body again, except for in my mind.  For a moment I realize that this is the only place I see body's anyways.. dead or alive, in my mind, but my ego is not ready to accept this deep reality, so I push it away.  Ahhh.. Daddy, his nose ... that long chiseled Irish nose.  The one that turned red after a six pack or two.  I touch his hand.  It's so cold.  I kneel and visit for two minutes and then I break down crying.  And here come the adults.  Six of them swoop me up and pull me outside.  My mind panics, internally I scream... "noooooooooooo!!!!  I want to see my Daddy!  I want to see him before the box closes forever.  Don't take me, let me cry, let me scream!!"  Externally, I oblige.  Too tired to resist, exhausted from taking care of my mother.  I just let them take me.  And outside their thoughts become clear.

 "You'll be stronger for this Steph", Honey, don't cry, it will be okay", "Steph, you have to pull it together, especially for your mother."  "Okay" I say.  And then before I know it the box is closed and the dead, cold body that I use to call Daddy has dirt thrown in its face.

Even though my life is good.  Even though... I see a part of me that believes there is no purpose.  I have no purpose.  No matter how many of my loved ones see me as good and wonderful.  No matter how many people I hug, hold and help.  No matter how many rays of sunshine hit my face, a part of me died that day.  A part of me that needed to grieve and needed to understand but wasn't allowed to.  My mind did not allow me to.  Instead of going inside and staying with myself and holding myself myself and listening to my very own stories of grief I went outside.  I left myself cold and tried to make my mother warm.  And I couldn't.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not save her.

Even though I am still here and I smile and laugh so hard and love so big, a part of me has been dead.  Purposeless.  Resigned.  A part of me layed down with my Daddy and stayed with him.  Didn't let go.  I gave up.  I couldn't make sense out of the body that I thought was him, just laying there. It didn't make sense that once the box closed and locked I would never see him again.

I have a good life.

Even though I buried my dreams that day.  Even though my chances of thriving were nil to nothing that day.  Even though my life took a drastic 180 degree turn that day.  Even though... I still stand.  I am still here.

My mind is pounding me with thoughts... and even though... I still hear myself say... Is any of  this really true? Can I know for sure that any of these thoughts are really true? No, I can't ever know anything for sure.

I look back and see all the things I ate over.  I am able to sit with myself as I notice my hardened grief.  Deep grief that is ready to dissipate.  Grief that is ready to go back to nothingness, nowhere.  Grief that I thought this fat and food protected me from for many years.  I am now grateful for the fat and the food.  It got me through when I didn't know a better way.  I have been able to create amazing things with my mind and life because of this fat and food.  I will never regret it or reject it.  I honor it, thank it.  Even as it transitions out of my life, I watch it go with reverence, NEVER with dismay or disgust.  There is nothing bad or wrong about this fat or food addiction.  Nothing.  It is God too.  And I will not ever disrespect it.  Or if I do, I will come to my senses as quickly as I can.  Thank you fat and food.  Thank you.

I have a good life... even though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nacho Cheese Doritos

"Food is the most overused anti-anxiety drug in America" - Bill Philips

I guess Mr. Bill thinks he knows a thing or two about food addiction, huh?  What he says is true, and I promise this quote will not inspire anyone to change.  At least not the mind of a food junkie.

I used to sit in my living room and eat nacho cheese flavored Doritos after bringing my Mother to Butler Memorial Hospital for the umpteenth time. I remember how alone I felt.

I would get home after the drive - of course this was after being pulled out of algebra class (or whatever the class du jour was) by our principal telling me that I had a telephone call waiting for me in the office. He would stare at me with sad eyes and say in a sympathetic tone "it's your Mom." I would walk down the MHS corridor taking deep breaths knowing that although there was a plethora of scenario's that could unfold during this call - one thing was for certain - my mother was very sick and I needed to bring her to the hospital - again.

First I would go home and pack a bag for her. Getting her in the car was usually a cinch because when the hospital became necessary, it meant she had dropped from her manic high and hallucinations to the bowls of deep depression and hallucinations. She was like a child at this point, so leading her to the seat and buckling her in was easy. The drive was always interesting. She was usually not speaking to me because she thought I was my father coming back to life to hurt or even kill her. I look like my Dad so in a psychotic state I can see how this might happen. She would vacillate between staring at me and huddling in the corner turning away from me in fright. I knew what was happening, so I didn't pay much mind to it. My goal was to make sure her door was locked, keep her safe and get her to a place where the white coats could balance her chemistry with mind numbing pills and "care" for her. Up the elevator - into the psych ward - signed the intake papers and vouila! Mission accomplished. Our mother is gone - again - estimated leave; approximately 2 weeks to a month. It's funny to me how nobody ever questioned why a 16 year old was continually checking her mother into a psych ward - and not in the "ha ha" kind of way.

I arrive at 157 Central Street, finally, home sweet home. I have a few hours before my brother and sister get home. A time of respite for me before I have to tell them that I - once again - will be there mother for the next 2 to 4 weeks. I don't know how we kept it all straight - mother for 2-4 weeks, sister for 2-6 months, repeat as necessary. Three hours of vacation time before the end of school - bell rings and they come trampling in wanting snacks, needing food, desperate for attention, love and care and a real mother - although they would never admit it. I cut my rest short and go to Fernandes to shop for the dinner I will be cooking for all of us. Chicken, pasta, broccoli - and there they are. I hear a choir of angels sing the Alleluia Chorus in perfect pitch, I see reds and yellows and letters in black, my heart races, and the chemicals start to shift in my brain, I finally see the first bit of relief that I have had in a week's time... NACHO CHEESE FLAVORED DORITOS. I plot my escape. After all it's been an exhausting seven days. Watching her fly like an eagle on a high that I can only dream about and then waiting and watching while she goes through her undoing - she is God, Jesus, thinks she has the cure for aids, now she can fly ... waiting... watching... counting her meds.... making sure she doesn't hurt herself... and then finally - THE DROP - the depression that never fails to follow the manic.

I get home, put away the groceries, clean up the house, make sure it resembles a warm home for my siblings and I still have 45 minutes to myself!! I sit in the flowered oversized chair, pick up the remote control, its The Brady Bunch, PERFECT!! I lovingly unscrew the bottle to my Yahoo, rip open my faux cheese friends and ... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Now I can do it!  Now I have what it takes to raise this family!  I don't feel so alone anymore. I hide them for later. When he and she are finally sleeping safely, lunches are made and dishes are washed - my love affair will continue.

I ate Nacho Cheese Flavored Doritos smack dab right into obesity. But you know what? They never let me down - I always had something to look forward to.

I don't condone junk food or obesity. And I don't judge it either. One step at a time, we are all learning, each of us laden with our own personal struggles.  We are all desperate to know that separation and loss is not true. We cross our fingers and hope that our vision really is limited on this trip. That just maybe there is something more that awaits us when the body drops, possibly an even greater story will be thought.  I continue to learn to see beauty in all people. In all body shapes and sizes. There is just no way for me to know what your path of unfolding is. 

"Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. And you never know what someone's starting point is."

xoxoxoxo Steph

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Excerpt from upcoming book.... Chapter 6 - "I Don't Think So..."

It’s the ninth day of the vipassana retreat. I have spoken no words, made no eye contact, nor have I so much as touched another living soul. I have sat still with the sensations in this body.  I have learned to visit the tightness in my neck and legs and be with it as it is not as I’d like it to be.  I take off the generous clothes that have  embraced me all day and slip into my favorite pink-and-white flowered nightgown faded and torn.  I gather my toothbrush and face wash, stored in my stark, barren single bed room, and I walk across the hallway to the bathroom.  There I prepare to retire for the evening.  It has been a long journey, worth it none-the-less. I look in the mirror and there she is.  The face I have seen reflected back to me for the past 41 years.  Ever changing, growing older for sure, but the same eyes staring back at me, the same soul.  I am humble and my ego is on sabbatical. I take the rubber band out of my hair and run my fingers down my skull to release the tension of the day.  Then, suddenly, I see. Can this be true?  My jaw drops, I furl my brow, getting as close as I can to the mirror in front of me.  I struggle, fade in and out of denial. They must be blonde. NO, it can’t be.  TWO FRIGGIN’ GRAY HAIRS.  Without giving it a second thought, I put my left hand on my left hip, stand up straight, cock my head to the right, curl my left upper lip, and break my hard earned silence with four of the most powerful words to ever leave my lips—“I DON’T THINK SO.” 

Up comes the right hand, finger and thumb in a serious tweezers like position and then—yank, yank—gone like yesterday.  What gray hair?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stuffing Myself Silly - The Story of a Food Junkie: "These Kinds Of Days"

Stuffing Myself Silly - The Story of a Food Junkie: "These Kinds Of Days": I've been stuffing myself silly again.  Yes, it it true. Food is a way of both punishment AND pleasure for me. I have watched and lear...

"These Kinds Of Days"

I've been stuffing myself silly again. 

Yes, it it true. Food is a way of both punishment AND pleasure for me. I have watched and learned of all the ways it is punishment and pain. I am currently living these results. I was not so aware of the immense pleasure that I use it for as a substitute for life, beauty and joy. And is seems to have certainly gone awry. Love and joy gone awry.

I haven’t stopped eating badly. But I have added some raw foods again. I don’t want to sugarcoat (pardon the pun) my current process however; so I would like to just say a bit about how I have seen me use it as pleasure.

I am bored off my fucking rocker here! I hate it here! I have been people pleasing and adjusting and complying with and for other people my entire life. Most recently - and I mean recent like the last fifteen fucking years – has been my ex.   He has just pulled another massive, violating act of control and smug arrogance on me.  I will spare you all of the monotonous details.

Just today I was running my head off – trying to share coaching with people, nursing my sick 13 year old - whose been on the couch for three days - back to health.  And getting ready to leave for a long weekend to be with my family.  I have not showered in three days. I have been wearing the same clothes for two days, I had to go to the laundry mat because I don’t have a washer/dryer I have severe PMS and I am exhausted – oh and did I mention my mother’s dead and sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind?   And on top of it all my ex has been a fucking jerk. I mean, no compassion, staunch, rude, cruel asshole. I’m not blind to the fact that I am in fact being exactly what I have accused him of being by the very act of writing what I just wrote about him. But I don’t care.

Today I went to Guido's to shop. I bought a small container of warm barbecue brisket they had on special at the hot bar. I got a whole wheat bun and I made love to that baby the whole twenty minute ride back to my home. It was such a warm, delicious beautiful break in my exhausting, boring, self-neglectful, sad, desperate and misunderstood day. I had nothing to give, but I had a whole bunch more people to give to. The brisket helped me to forget about how much I used to love to do my hair and put on my make up with out missing a beat. My fall Stiletto heals or my summer wedges that would dress my feet and scream “that’s right, I’m alive, and happy and ready for my dreams!” The brisket going down my throat – the taste of the salt and sweet and the way it just pulled apart like butter – effortless – no resistance, it didn’t fight me once. It didn’t blame the disturbing quirks of life on me. It helped me to forget about the stage and the theatre and my singing and the guitar I haven’t touched in three months. It camouflaged my deep grief over my absent, abusive, desperate, beautiful, schizoid-effective dead Mother. And it helped me believe the lies that I tell myself on "these kinds of days" that still visit me once in a while.   The lies about how I am trapped and stuck and old and ugly and fat and worthless.

It mostly gave me the pleasure I long for. It gave me such deep and satisfying pleasure – unfounded, crazy, from my head to my toes, unearned, easy, warm, pleasure. I felt touched and sexual and wanted and I felt beautiful and like I had my hair done and my make up on and like I was dressed to the nines going to a rehearsal for MY show, MY singing, MY book, MY life, MY way, MY TERMS. MY MY MY MY MY MY. For twenty minutes I had that.

Until my blood sugar spiked, I got sick to my stomach, my mouth turned dry, I felt tired and cranky and my bones hurt. It turned on me, again.

But it was worth the twenty minutes. Especially since I don’t ever get that again until the next time. And the time after that.   And the time after that. And = a more than chubby, maybe even obese, diabetic digging her grave with a knife and fork. 

This is how she lives on "these kinds of days."

Thanks for listening.

Love and Hugs..


Monday, March 21, 2011

Raw Living Foods and the Work of Byron Katie Workshop

Haven Café and Bakery Presents a Workshop:
Living Raw Foods and “The Work of Byron Katie” with Steph Campbel

Thursday Evening March 31st, 2011
6:30pm – 9:30 pm 
HavenCafé and Bakery
8 Franklin Street
Lenox, MA 01240

We will cover:
  • Green Smoothie recipe and
  • A delicious living raw food
         treat and demonstration so you can see how simple it really is.
  • How living raw foods can
         support you in your health and enhance your quality of life.
  • Emotional eating and food
  • An introduction to The Work of
         Byron Katie.
This class is for YOU if: You are looking to go completely raw or simply want to add more fruits,
vegetables and healthy foods to your diet.  It will be fun, easy and informative.

Please R.S.V.P. if you would like to come: 413.394.4200 or sign up at Haven!!  Space is limited.


On May 10th, 2010 I drove to Union City Michigan and embarked on a massive lifestyle
change.  I had Severe Type II diabetes, high cholesterol levels, dangerously high triglyceride levels, low HDL (good cholesterol),  Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disorder, painful menstrual cycles accompanied by severe PMS, arthritic joint pain, muscle pain, Candida, high inflammation, high blood pressure and fatty liver.  My Ph balance
was so low that the director of CHI asked me if I had ever gone through chemo

I attended a 21 day program at The Creative Health Institute in Union City Michigan and took on the living raw foods lifestyle.  By the end of the program my health crisis
was completely reversed accompanied by a total weight loss of 25 pounds.  I also witnessed people with much more traumatic illnesses than my own recover.

My healing journey did not begin with my body.  I am a graduate of “The School for the Work” of Byron Katie.  I am profoundly clear that this is not a physical process, it’s all about mind.  My body is taking care of itself as I take care of my mind.  It wasn’t until I whole heartedly listened to my heart with compassion and understanding that I was able to begin authentic nourishment with this body.

You’re story may not be this dramatic.  Or it may be even more devastating.  Wherever you are at, the time to start is right here, right now.  The timing is perfect.  I have no affiliation to The Creative Health Institute or Byron Katie International. I do not receive commissions from them nor have they asked me to do this.  They have generously aided me in the process of healing and my only intention it to pass it on.

To this day I continue to experience excellent health.  My weight loss has continued and I feel better than I did in my early twenties.