Jennifer McNamara

Hello! My name is Jennifer McNamara, and I am going to be guest-writing a blog for Corner Canyon Counseling for the next year or so. If you would like to reach out to me, my email address is jmcnamara.tn@gmail.com


A little history, some of it ancient and some of it more current — because I am an old soul who is learning to talk — and more importantly, listen — to her younger self. I was a professional ballerina for 20 years; I was a free-lance performer for another 6 or 7 after retiring from a full-time company position. For most of those years, and some before, and some after, I practiced a form of disordered eating — several, actually.  I referred to it as bulimia, plain and simple, but my therapist refers to it as a restricting-purging disorder.


I am currently working towards my MFA in Dance at Hollins University, through a low-residency — but incredibly high-density program. I am incredibly grateful for the luxury of this time, and the gift of being able to minimize my external responsibilities so that I can look more deeply into myself. And yes, even writing that brings up a little guilt: is it narcissistic and selfish to spend so much time with myself? I expect that this is one of the future musings I will share with you, but for now, I am simply going to notice that internal response. No assumptions, no judgment.


As many ways as there are to discuss my relationship to food, there are even more when I begin to unpack my relationship with my self, my own image in the studio mirrors, my past, my future, and the people who have appeared along the way on this journey. Three years into therapy, I feel like I have just met this person who has been my roommate for my entire life, and there are many, many questions to be asked.


Many of the observations I share with you will come from a somatically-based place. Having been a dancer for more years than not, I relate to my world through the balance of body and mind. Admittedly, much of my life has been spent regimenting my physical self in minute detail, putting my self in a ‘safe place’ far away from my body. I know that was my way of coping with events that, as a very small girl, I could not process; I am working to re-integrate these aspects of my being.


One of the first assignments I received here, in my graduate seminar class, was to set forth a personal manifesto, or a series of intentions. I have included it here for you to peruse. In a future blog post, I would love to talk a little bit about the process – and the why – behind my words, if that would interest you. And I invite you to send me your questions and comments; I am looking forward to the conversation I hope we will have.

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