February is eating disorders awareness month and thus a busy one for me. To begin this 28-day marathon, I spent last weekend in southern California presenting on Andrea's Voice Friday night and then Saturday and Sunday with Connie Sobczak assisting with a Be Body Positive training of campus leaders.

After two very full days with young people I felt tremendous hope for the future. The clarity of thought and purpose they exhibited astonished me. Even when challenged by difficult life situations or tremendous physical pain, their spirits remain courageous and inspiring.

I was also introduced to a whole new way of speaking when it came to Preferred Gender Pronouns ("PGPs"-- something I had very little sensitivity around). Some people preferred "they" over "s/he" (there were other pronoun preference options but sadly my memory has lost them).  It was a needed education for me on yet another area of equity, inclusion and diversity.

This group did not judge or ridicule my "goofs" in verbiage. I was given amnesty for what I did not know and for my habitual way of speaking. I strove to be respectful and to use the appropriate PGPs for each individual, yet appreciated the compassion shown if I missed the mark. The community co-created in that room was one of heartfelt warmth where every person felt safe to be who they were and share openly, honestly and with trust. The room seemed to pulse with a vibrant energy.

At the end of the first day of training, a number of students remained in the room and spontaneously began singing and dancing. "Singing and dancing" do not adequately convey what they did. It was more like musical and rhythmic "improv" at its finest. Their voices were "otherworldly." My body was exhausted but in witnessing this impromptu joy, my heart and soul became filled. I could have stood and listened and watched all night. I knew that these young people have the will and the power to lead us to a new and glistening "brave new world." They are our future and it was a privilege to meet them and spend such exquisite time together.

I head off to more talks this weekend and am grateful to carry the "glow" from last weekend with me. 

[Originally posted on the G├╝rze Books Eating Disorders Blogs]