Beautiful Girl of the Week: Maggie! A rockstar survivor, eating disorder therapist and strong Momma!

 

Beautiful Girl of the Week is a series of Beautiful Girls who are stand outs for what they contribute to the world through their beautiful actions!  We feature the Beautiful Girl of the Week on the Rewrite Beautiful blog as an attempt to inspire other girls and women to use their own gifts and talents to impact their communities. Our hope is that bringing positive attention to women’s actions will inspire them to embrace their own creative calling!

A few years ago I worked at the Victorian, Eating Disorder Treatment home in Newport Beach, CA. While there I had the pleasure of meeting Marriage and Family Therapist, Maggie Baumann. The Victorian clients adored Maggie for her authenticity, insight and strength both in individual counseling and leading group sessions. As a co-worker I loved Maggie for how open, authentic and spiritual she is. The facility we worked in was challenging, but she brought a sense of order and calm with her wherever she was. She is one of those rare women that you feel you have known forever and could talk to for days on end. You’ll see what I mean through our interview below…. 

Irvina: Hello Mrs. Maggie! Thanks for talking to us today! I know you’re a busy, busy gal! So tell me about a fun project you’re currently working on?

Maggie: Before I recovered from anorexia, I deemed myself as someone who didn't deserve much ... that came in many areas ... like food, leisure and fun time or any special way to give to myself. I'd give to others with love freely, but not myself. As someone recovered, my perspective of who I am and what I deserve has changed drastically. I deserve to give to me in kind, healthy and compassionate ways. So I am actually doing something spectacular for myself. This may sound a little corny ... but I have lived in my beautiful house for nearly 18 years. I live a mile from the beach in a neighborhood of lovely homes with great neighbors. Although my home is very beautiful ...lots of light ... I even have a peek of the ocean which is one of the most soothing sights for me ... my home has been empty. My home wasn't really a home with the comforts of love spread throughout it. It felt empty like anorexia. I never really decorated my new home so many years ago because I felt I didn't deserve my home to be the way I wanted it to be. A sanctuary of peace and comfort for myself and my family. Yes, we have furniture but our house has never had the loving touch of making it a home that brings meaning to what makes me feel alive.

So right now, for the first time, I am in the stages of redecorating my house (with help because I am not creative in the decorating field) and making this into the home I always wanted for my family and myself. It's not about buying the most expensive furniture (because I am not), it is bringing LIFE and LOVE into my home that I thought I didn't deserve. I am even creating a Zen-meditation room in our loft. I am very excited. And of course, my theme is an ocean theme ... my most soothing environment I feel so peaceful in. Plus, my husband, an avid surfer, adores the ocean as well. So it's a perfect fit for our lives. To honor this endeavor, we will be having Christine, my oldest daughter's, wedding reception at our home this summer. Full of family and friends from the US and reaching to France. Christine married her French boyfriend last April in France by surprise. We planned the US reception for this August. I can't wait to share my new home with some of my new French family and all my American family and friends.

Irvina: Wow! That sounds like an amazing project. What a testimony to the fact that it’s never too late to “redesign” your life and the amazingness that can come from it. I can only imagine how rewarding it will feel to have a wedding reception in your home!  So besides your current flare for interior design can you tell us what are you passionate about?

Maggie: I have a strong faith and believe the light in me pushes me towards my passion to feed the souls of others who need healing in some part of their lives. I've been passionate about helping others since I was a little girl. It's engrained in my heart and the light never goes away. Some very special people were passionate about my healing and it's just like a gift for me to pay it forward to the next person, whomever that is -- my family and two adult daughters, friends, and people I don't even know that I see need a hand. One of my biggest passions I have yet to do is to volunteer in a hospital with the premie babies and touch them so they feel love. Sometimes the nurses are busy or parents may be away, but if I could just touch the skin of a little baby striving for life and let them feel a loving touch and a connection (and that they are not alone), that would be the biggest gift I could give.

As a therapist, I am living out my passion every day I work with my clients. It's really an honor to be in a position to help guide someone hurting to a place of peace they can find in themselves. Very special relationships are built in a therapist's office and it's built on full acceptance carrying no judgment of the client. And from that point working to build their trust in you so they can feel safe to do the healing work they need to do. I love my work. I admire my clients. 

Irvina: Wow, you have a huge heart. As a fellow earthling, may I just say, we are so lucky to have you! So love, what do you do for fun?

Maggie: Well, I discussed this new adventure into redecorating my house. This is really fun for me. I try to connect daily with my two daughters, one lives in NYC and the other in France. I enjoy my time connecting with them. I crave learning so I like to read books that help me be a better therapist. I also love to read medical mysteries. I love just laying on my bed with my two kitties and snuggling with them. I just call them kitties, but they are grown up cats. I enjoy the outdoors and being at the beach. I enjoy moving my body and listening to music that speaks to my heart. I enjoy watching old shows of Flipper with my husband. Dolphins are one of my favorite animals, and Flipper the dolphin always saved the day. I am wanting to learn how to stand up paddle (SUP) surfing when the weather warms up. My husband SUPs and it could be something fun we could do together in the ocean. I have a very creative side and I enjoy designing my own Christmas cards in very symbolic ways. I love photography and taking pictures of others and giving them their picture in a frame for a gift. I love to personalize my giving.

I also enjoy keeping my body healthy by exercising in a healthy way to keep my heart and bones as healthy as they can be. I enjoy running because I can put my music on and be in a space of freedom and peace as I ran past the beach or on the trails. Music is really important to making my life fun.

Although my life before I became a therapist was filled with writing stories of other people or important stories about the hospital I worked for, I never get bored of writing. I find it very therapeutic when I need to release emotions inside, and I find it fun to dialogue with others with my warped sense of humor. It's good to laugh at yourself in a loving way and laugh with others. Humor is contagious and I am quick witted about it in my writing and in my voice, although people may not always think of me as humorous.

Irvina: Your life sounds like so much fun! Gives me some great ideas to do for myself too! So Whether it’s a hobby, a job or friendships what do you contribute to the world that you’re most proud of?

Maggie: What I am most proud of is being a mom, a healthy mom. I was sick with my anorexia when my kids were in elementary school and older and I know even though I attended to their physical needs, my mind was not all the way there for them as a mother. It hurts me inside to know I was there but not fully because of my disease. My love for them never changed, but my ability to show the love did. The greatest gift that I am most proud of is becoming healthy and being the mom who can be there for my kids, even now as they are young adults. There is something really sweet when I get an email from with either of my girls now and they call me "Momma" ... it's such a loving, enduring way for me to know our love is solid as a rock and they know their mom is healthy. The best gift I ever received was when I turned 42 years old and one of my daughters created this framed piece of art that stated, "The 42 Reasons I Love My Mom." My contribution on a personal level goes straight back to giving to my kids and teaching them kindness and compassion. Because they each hold those wonderful qualities inside themselves and use them to contribute to their own world.

Irvina: That is so BEAUTIFUL! You’re gonna make me cry! So, which action of CREATIVITY, KINDNESS and STRENGTH do you think you most exhibit in your community and why?

Maggie: I believe "kindness" is one of my greatest assets to my community. To be a therapist, kindness to others must be part of your makeup, or you are in the wrong profession. Kindness is not something I work on being, it's just a part of me and it allows me to give to people in all different ways through work or when I volunteer and give to people I don't even know. It's important for me when I interact with others I am serving to be a safe vessel they can lean against without fear of rejection. Kindness is also something I learned I must have for myself to be authentically effective in giving to my clients. One goal of working with my clients is for them to learn to be kind to themselves. Self love is essential is any healing.

Irvina: Who is the most beautiful woman you know and why?

Maggie: That's an easy question for me. It's my best friend Patty. We have been friends since 4th grade and I would call us soul mates. We have been there for each others triumphs and struggles for many decades. We have true, unconditional acceptance of each other. Most recently, Patty, who lives in North Carolina, had to undergo scoliosis surgery and disk repair -- 9 hours of spinal surgery. I flew out to be with her in the hospital. You ask any doctor what is one of the most painful surgeries to have -- and most will say scoliosis surgery. There is a 3 to 6 month rehab after this surgery.  My friend is always beautiful to me, but she became even more beautiful in my eyes while she was in the hospital, enduring this intense pain that even hard core medication could not relieve all of it. I slept at the hospital so I could care for her. She wanted someone who loved her to be with her at all times as she was very scared about the surgery. She had only been in the hospital 5 times and that was to give birth to her 5 children. One night during my stay in the hospital, I heard her singing softly. I realized it was a prayer to God she was singing. I thought she was singing, "Please God take away some of this pain so I can sleep." I think that's what my prayer would have been. But when I went up to her to check on her, she was singing a prayer of gratitude’s to God. Thanking Him for all she had. Her children and family. Her house. Her car. Her animals. She kept this song going for a few minutes to thanking God for just normal things most of us take for granted. I was just in awe of this woman, my best friend, who had that much strength and faith to thank God is one of her most scary and painful times in her life. That incident made me realize how even more beautiful Patty is as a human being. It touched my heart deeply and made me feel even more special that she is my best friend and how blessed I am.

Irvina: She sounds absolutely incredible. I can see hints of how you both have influenced eachother greatly. I love the idea of women helping shape each others passions and values into the beautiful women we were intended to be. What do you wish young women knew about beauty?

Maggie: Beauty is complex because it represents so many things about you. Yes, you can have outside beauty but that is gift and not everyone may possess outside beauty. And those who do are often the hardest on themselves because the outside beauty can blind them to the other beauty they may possess inside. I think real beauty comes from the inside out. It starts in your soul and lights up your being. Inner beauty is kind, loving and something you wish to share with others. Inner beauty doesn't age, get wrinkles or change with time. Inner beauty can stay with you until the day you die. Do all women recognize their inner beauty? ... unfortunately not. They can be preoccupied on trying to perfect the outer beauty they lose interest in or don't recognize what is inside of them that is beautiful. I know finding the inner beauty to oneself is an outcome of over coming struggles with diseases like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or an addiction to drugs or alcohol. That's the amazing thing about true recovery is you find that behind all that chaos of the outside there lies beauty in all of us. I think that beauty varies from woman to woman because we all have our own unique talents and gifts. So inner beauty is in the eye of the beholder sometimes. The important thing is to be true to your own inner beauty and embrace it so it blooms bright, giving you the light to go out in the world and be who you are and follow your passion that is distinctly yours.  

Irvina: Thank you for speaking with us Maggie! Your interview truly touched me. I will most likely be back to read it again. You’re are an absolutely stunning human being!  

 

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