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“Discovering and living your dreams is what makes recovery worth it,” author Robyn Cruze explains below. And I completely agree! Robyn’s story reminds me of how my dreams grew and shifted throughout my recovery. In fact, in the new afterword of Life Without Ed, I wrote, “A gift of recovery is watching how your life unfolds with dreams and desires you couldn’t have even fathomed.” I never imagined being an author, but here I am—living an incredible dream brought forth solely through recovery. Never forget that we recover from our eating disorders in order to recover our lives. If you think that recovery and dreaming isn’t possible for you, just read Robyn’s story. I have a hunch that she once felt the same exact way. I know that I did. But we both got better and so can you!

This post is one in a Life Without Ed Birthday Blog Series celebrating both recovery and the Tenth Anniversary Edition of the book, which was just released.
In March, stay tuned for the audio book.

Dreaming Big…In Small Steps
by Robyn  Cruze

When I got into recovery from an eating disorder, I knew I had to make my recovery worth it. I spent so much of my life dedicated to the eating disorder’s demands. In recovery, I had to relearn how to live in the world with me, as me, and at peace with me.

One thing I knew was the more I moved away from the eating disorder, the more time I seemed to have. So I got to thinking about all the dreams I had put off because the eating disorder told me to wait until I was “thin enough,” and I began to drag them out from under the rug where I had swept them. I knew that if I wanted to stay in recovery, I needed to make my recovery worth it. Discovering and living your dreams is what makes recovery worth it.

The thing about dreams, however, is that they often change. This can be especially true in early recovery. For me, the dreams I once had were no longer ones I wanted. Moving people emotionally was something that I was born to do, and I chose acting as a way to do this. I got to work in theater, television and film in Australia and the UK before my recovery. In recovery, however, I felt exhausted by the industry and did not feel that my recovery was sustainable in it, at least in the beginning. I knew I still held the deep desire to move people, but pretending to be someone else for a living just didn’t fit me quite right.

Dreams Desires
Quote from Life Without Ed, Tenth Anniversary Edition

So there I was in early recovery, not quite sure about what I wanted in my life. I needed time to explore and discover, and I had to allow myself the time to do it. When I look back at my life now, I can see how I arrived where I am today by following “the next best thing” for myself in every moment—even if I wasn’t sure where it would take me.

When I was fourteen, I had a passion for writing poetry. I loved how words could be molded to move people, just like my acting could. After giving up my career as an actor, I worked for a screenwriter, researching each film he wrote. I studied how he worked and admired his discipline and creativity. However, I had already tried my hand at writing for theater while completing my Masters degree in Glasgow, Scotland. It was not my forte. But while this realization closed the door on one idea, it opened me up to discovering more.

Later on in my recovery, my mother died, one month before my first child was born. Grief-stricken and unable to attend her funeral as I was too pregnant to fly internationally, I fell to my knees in my bedroom, half-way around the world from her resting place. I cried out loud, “How wilI I give to this world as you did, Mom?” Silence. Then between sobs, I heard her deep within me: “Write, Robbie, write.” So I did. I became unstoppable. And to make a long story short, I became a designer of a maternity line with my poems printed on each item—poems that empowered women and their bodies. I was getting closer to my dreams now, as I moved people with my own words. But designing wasn’t my thing, either. After more discovery of self, I taught myself to write articles…and got paid a mere eight dollars for each one. After many trials and many, many rejections, I wrote a book. I was published on October 15, 2013, with my coauthor Espra Andrus: The book is called Making Peace with Your Plate: Eating Disorder Recovery.

Post a comment below to be entered into a drawing to win Robyn's book!
Post a comment below to be entered into a drawing to win Robyn’s book!

I have discovered that my dreams are found through discovery, through the joy of achieving smaller steps towards a life worth living. It was these small steps that led me to my dreams today. My dream is to inspire others to take back their power from a culture that tells us we are not enough exactly as we are. I do this by speaking my truth—my new beliefs and my ideas. I do this by sharing my own story, as vulnerable as that feels sometimes. In my illness, I was never “good enough.” So in recovery, my dream is to be me and to fully claim who I am, encouraging others to do the same. For as Marianne Williamson says, “Who am I not to?”



If you are interested in finding out more about how I found my purpose in recovery, click here.

What is your dream? Have your dreams changed over time? Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below. Each person who comments will be automatically entered into a drawing to win a signed copy of Robyn’s book, Making Peace with Your Plate.

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  • Melissa

    I love this blog post…very relatable!!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks for reading, Melissa!

  • April Ballard

    I just signed up for the blog this morning.. I am part of an organization called Beautifully Broken. I am recovering from anorexia and bulimia. It is truly moment to moment for me. Thank you to everyone that joins the fight against eating disorders. Thank you so much for the commitment and work that you do for all of us that have battled.. Here’s to our recovery!

    April Ballard

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Yes, here’s to recovery! Recovery used to be a choice I made in each moment, too. But, ultimately, recovery just became a natural, normal part of my life. I fully recovered! Today, I don’t even think about Ed anymore–unless I am writing about him. Keep fighting, April! And keep doing your outreach work, too. It makes a difference.

      • April Ballard

        Thank you so much Jenni! I am so happy to have the opportunity to talk with you. You have inspired me throughout my recovery process. It is my goal that recovery will become a natural part of my life as well. My outreach work does truly help me so much. I am so committed to helping others that have struggled and that are facing ED. Thank you again for all that you do and I will continue to follow your work and stay updated. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help in recovery efforts. I am always willing and more than happy to volunteer. Thank you again,

        April B.

  • Alissa Gamberg

    One of my dreams is to write and publish a book too! I loved reading this post because it shows how Robyn did NOT give up, even when faced with several rejections and redirections. She kept going until she found her forte. I hope to read the book! I have already experienced something similar – in early recovery I thought everything was hopeless. In fact, I thought recovery was harder than being sick. There came a point when I did not have dreams anymore and could not see through my ED. But within a few years, I have already realized dreams and completely exceeded my own expectations. I have traveled, become a dancer, and was accepted into an elite graduate program that I will begin this summer. It all seems so surreal when I look back on my time with ED and the impossibilites he threw in my face. Slowly but surely, I am stepping out and into the world, and I plan on changing it for the better!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      This is great, Alissa! Congrats on all of your success in recovery. And good luck with the book. Don’t quit.

      Here’s a picture of all of the rejection letters I received for “Life Without Ed:” https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=431378860211244&set=pb.194928167189649.-2207520000.1391527653.&type=3&theater

      It is surreal to me that “Life Without Ed” is now 10-years old! I can’t believe we just released an anniversary edition. All of those literary agents and publishers who rejected me never thought that would happen!

      And here’s some book writing wisdom from my experience: https://jennischaefer.com/resources/

      I can’t wait to read your book!

      • Alissa Gamberg

        Wow, if that’s not inspiration to persevere, I don’t know what is! : )

  • Julia Deets

    Wow! So brave. I want to read this book. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks for commenting, Julia! The book is great. I already read it!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Congrats, Julia! You are the winner of “Making Peace with Your Plate.” Please just email your street address to: jenni@jennischaefer.com. And Robyn will send a signed book your way!

  • Lori

    I so loved reading this, and the book looks wonderful. I have been seeking true recovery for 5 years yesterday (woohoo–the 5 year anniversary of entering a residential treatment program and finally committing myself to lasting recovery)! Your books and blog have been a great resource for me, Jenni, and I am sure that Robyn’s story and book will touch and help many, as well. Thank you for your dedication to us all as we work towards gaining and keeping our freedom!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks for sharing here, Lori! And thanks so much for reading my books.

      5 years: yes, a big WooHoo!! That is huge. Keep up the awesome work.

  • Britt

    I love the message here! As soon as I reached the point in my recovery where I could “see the light at the end of the tunnel” I started focusing on what would lie ahead for me. It is a question I am still answering, but I have started with the dream to help just one person with an eating disorder. I am well on my way and so very excited to see what other dreams unfold! Thank you for the wonderful reminder to keep dreaming!

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks, Britt! I love what you said about being excited to see what other dreams unfold in your life. Please keep us posted on that! I love hearing about dreams. In fact, you may even choose, at some point, to share your dream here: https://jennischaefer.com/dream-big/

      • Britt

        Thanks so much, Jenni! I will definitely put some thoughts together and share my dream 🙂

        • Jenni Schaefer

          I got what you sent! Thank you, Britt. I will take a look soon and get back with you. I just glanced over what you wrote today, and it looks great. Thanks so much for sharing.

          • Britt

            Great! I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

      • Britt

        Just submitted my dream 🙂

  • Michelle Dulmes

    I’m really excited to look further into this book. I not only don’t know what my dreams are, I simply don’t have any. Dreams have always seemed so silly to me. I live life doing what I’m supposed to be doing in the ‘college phase’, but have no certainty as to how I would like to use the skills I’m learning. I have lots of great ideas, but am passionate about nothing. I’m hoping that, with recovery, I’ll learn to love something again, instead of just successfully going through the motions, receiving my meaningless accolades along the way.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Thanks so much for sharing, Michelle. I have heard many people express similar feelings and thoughts. You are not alone. I personally didn’t know what I *really* wanted to do while I was in college. I was studying biochemistry in the pursuit to become a doctor, yet something deep inside always told me that my path in life was not to be a doctor. And here I am…an author! Recovery brought that to me.

      I look forward to hearing what you become passionate about! I know it will happen. This is the exciting and fun part of recovery. In my second book, “Goodbye Ed, Hello Me,” I referred to this as “marrying myself”! I even wrote wedding vows to myself: https://jennischaefer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Marrying-Myself-Excerpt.pdf 🙂

  • jenpr

    So true about how our lives and goals change.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      Appreciate your comment. Yes, my goals often shift, especially after getting married recently!

  • Michaela

    Wow, incredible story. My dream is to change the world by helping one person at a time rediscover love for food, their bodies, and themselves.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      I love this, Michaela! That is an awesome dream.

  • Julie Knox

    My dreams have change many times since beginning treatment. Each time I battle a new aspect of trauma or pain that was hidden from me with the disorder, my dreams morph, get loftier, healthier, stronger. I am finding the courage to one day live them out and breathe life into them without the pain or fear of an ED.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      I really like how you said that you are finding the courage to “breathe life” into your dreams. That is a wonderful image. Keep up the great work in recovery, Julie. It sounds like you are making lots of forward progress. Don’t quit moving!

      • Julie Knox

        Thank you for all you do and the inspiration you are!!!!

  • Cindy Marie

    My dream is simple to live a life where I no longer judge myself according to what I see on the outside but instead I love myself for what’s on the inside. I’m one step closer to this dream since last week I shares my last secrete that ed wanted me to keep.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      This is wonderful to hear, Cindy. Your dream is beautiful.

      I always heard in recovery that our secrets keep us sick. So, good for you. You are very brave!

  • Kara s

    My dream is to become a stay at home mom and to eventually run a marathon and do it not for ed but for me.

    • Jenni Schaefer

      I love that you are striving to chase after life! Full recovery is possible. Never quit, Kara!