Today, Southern Smash turns seven!
I often get asked, “How did you start Southern Smash? How did you make it what it is today?” The answer is simple: I have no idea. Well, I have *some* idea. It all started with a silent promise I made eight years ago.
March 2, 2011
I was a hot mess of tears and emotions as I hugged my therapist, Christy, goodbye. After three long months, I was finally discharging from the Carolina House.
Jordan and I loaded up in the car and began our 16-hour drive back to Baton Rouge. As the yellow house disappeared in my rearview mirror, I began to think of what I could give Christy. Being the eternal giver that I am, I immediately wanted to thank her in some way – Mary and Anne too.
Before hitting Highway 751, I knew there was absolutely nothing materialistic I could ever give that would make up for the incredible role they each played in my recovery journey. The only thing to give was my continued work in recovery AND to pay it forward. That was it, I thought to myself. One day I will pay it forward.
Of course, in that moment I had no idea what my simple promise would one day become.
November 16, 2012
People gathered at the LSU lakes and began listening to the lady who brought them all there for this new thing called ‘Southern Smash’. The crowd was made up of LSU sorority women, my family, dearest friends, community members and even the local newspaper.
I spoke from my heart and with conviction that I knew exactly what I was doing, but my inner dialogue was the complete opposite: “Why are these people here? Why are they listening to me?”
I pushed the critical gremlins aside and kept going. I continued to speak, share my story and eventually pick up a sledgehammer and for the first time in my life SMASH that miserable scale that nearly took my life.
As the sun set on the LSU lakes that night, I knew with every fiber of my being that I had just created the exact reason God put me on this earth. I still had no idea what Southern Smash was going to become, but I knew I had to do it again.
As SMASH caught fire, so did my life – moves, an early birth, cancer, more moves, grief, death, more grief. Such is life, right? The one thing that remained constant was my mission, Southern Smash. When Marjorie was born early, people joked with me that I was going to create a NICU non-profit. But I knew I only had one mission in my life and that was Southern Smash and I could not wait to get back to smashing scales.
Of course Southern Smash was (and is) so much more than just smashing scales. It is a platform to help others SMASH their own critical gremlins, a stage for others to share their stories of recovery and hope, a place where people can show up and know that is is okay to NOT be okay…and most of all a way for others to pay it forward.
July 15, 2019
Southern Smash officially merged with The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness. My reason for signing my baby into another organization goes back to my simple promise: pay it forward. By merging with The Alliance, Southern Smash could help more people.
My incredible friend and partner in crime, Johanna Kandel, has a favorite quote: ‘If you want to fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I did not start Southern Smash on some kind of ego trip. I do not speak to fulfill a power trip. My work is and will always be about helping others with paying it forward as my guidepost. Coming together with The Alliance means more – more SMASHes, more free clinician led support groups, more education and more than anything it means family.
I went from a party of one (plus my amazing Amy) to becoming part of a family with one goal: NOT ONE MORE. Not one more life lost to eating disorders, not one more family torn apart, not one more person being denied access to care that they need and deserve.
Someone recently asked me, “I know what Southern Smash gets from merging with The Alliance. But what does the Alliance get from your merger?” The question caught me off guard and in the midst of a recent imposter syndrome storm. My gremlins immediately jumped in – “She’s right. You don’t bring anything to the table. Why did they want you? You don’t bring millions of dollars or value.”
I’m not sure what I answered that day, but I have thought of her question many times since and today my answer is this: “The Alliance gets Southern Smash – a movement that has taken scale smashing to the next level. They get hundreds of young people across the country eager to be the change as fierce mental health SMASH ambassadors. And they get me – a passionate, stubborn woman who never gives up, no matter the odds. A woman who is not afraid to fight for what is right and speak out for what she believes in. A woman who has a bleeding heart and is no longer ashamed of her story, wearing her scars proudly. And most of all they get a wild Southern woman always ready to celebrate life, never afraid to think, dance (or pose) outside the box.”
In seven years, I somehow managed to turn a crazy idea into a movement with the help of countless people who were ready to BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD (my favorite quote). That simple pay it forward promise made eight years ago continues to ripple far past what I could have ever imagined. Thank you for supporting me, Southern Smash and now my Alliance family as we fight hard to SMASH eating disorders, the mental health stigma and create better access to care.
Cheers to SEVEN SMASHing years of fun, advocacy, education and change! My hope and prayer in the years to come is that we can all continue to come together to be the change because together we can MOVE MOUNTAINS!
Happy SMASHiversary! Go out an do a small act of kindness. Pay it forward. Today and always.