Love Your Tree with Kara Richardson Whitely

By Kara Richardson Whitely

The Nature of our Ever-Changing Journey

Kara Richardson Whitely is an Eating Recovery Center national recovery advocate and the author of Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds, which is being made into a movie produced by This Is Us actress Chrissy Metz. She has been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The New York Times. Follow her journey on Instagram @kararichardsonwhitely.

These days, I've been drawn to botanical gardens. There is something so grounding about them. They've all been planned out and are the perfect expression of nature's art. The trees and their roots have been there for decades. The flowers are shining at their brightest moments. And every time you walk through, it's different.

When I think about Love Your Tree and my recovery, I think about these botanical gardens. Every city I visit, I try to visit a botanical garden to see what it shows me about my recovery and myself.

My art and my creativity are in storytelling. I love storytelling because it grounds me. It gives me a glimpse into the current moment. It shows me my past resilience. And it also shines a light on the changes I've been through since the beginning of my life and the growth that has happened since then.

I'm most known for my book Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds. That story dives into my relationship with food, my body, and how I've learned to love myself where I am.

Like a botanical garden, that journey didn't happen overnight. There were times when I doubted my path, but I planted the seeds of growth and healing. The art of writing also played a part... putting it all on the page helped me map out each step I took in my life, even when I questioned where I was going.

So what does this have to do with botanical gardens?

Well, I think like a tree, like a plant, we are forever growing. My story will continue growing far, far beyond my books, far beyond the pages. My journey is forever unfolding from this moment and will continue through the very last days of my life.

I'm so grateful for the steps I've taken through this process, through nature, and on the page.

I used to do a lot of yoga with this one particular teacher. We would stand in tree pose, without arms stretched wide, with one foot firmly on the ground, and when we unleashed our foot and placed it on our calf or inner thigh, wherever it would fit, wherever it landed, it was okay.

She would tell us when we were in tree pose, "It's okay if you sway because trees say." So it's okay if your body sways, or your life sways. Each of us are grounded in our bodies. We are grounded in nature. We are grounded in our stories. We are grounded in recovery. We are grounded in creativity.

So let it show you the way. Let it show you the way forward.

Written by

Kara Richardson Whitely

Kara Richardson Whitely, an Eating Recovery Center Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Advocate, is the author of Fat Woman on the Mountain and Gorge: My 300-Pound Journey Up Kilimanjaro, an honest and…

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