Love Thy Self: Day #11

Well, today was another struggle. After a shower, I looked in the mirror at myself naked and had a bit of a setback (no, I will not be posting any naked pictures). I stopped my negative thoughts and took a few deep breaths. Then I decided to take time to do my hair and makeup. I felt better once I was all dolled up and practiced some positive thoughts. Every day is a journey. I think if I had not had this blog, I might have stayed in the negative, beat myself up thoughts for much longer than I did, so that is good.

Now to play some old school Nintendo and enjoy some sister time.

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #10

Nothing like beautiful spring flowers to make a rainy day a little brighter. The picture above was taken on my walk to work. I do not even know where to start this post, so I thought I would start with flowers. My emotions are all over the place today. This week has been a rough one. My partner and I have still not had a chance to talk after our big fight last weekend. He is beyond busy and I am working on being more supportive than needy, but I feel needy. I want him to give me a hug and reassure me that everything is ok and that I am loved. But why do I need this reassurance so badly? What he needs right now is space and time to get a big project accomplished. Focusing is hard for him (I kind of think he has adult attention deficit disorder). What he needs from his partner (me) is love and space to focus. What I need is love, verbal or written reassurance, and time together. But when I am in a place of peace and confidence, I do not need those things from him because I trust that he loves me. Our fighting usually stems from me accusing him that he does not love me, him getting mad because he tries to show me his love daily (he provides acts of service and gifts, but I usually need time and verbal affirmation), and then when he gets stressed, he is sensitive and easily annoyed by me (particularly he is annoyed by my neediness), which makes him cranky and withdraw, and his withdrawal makes me more needy and seek attention. *deep breath* 

On top of fighting with my partner, I have also hit a bunch of roadblocks this week to obtaining an internship in counseling, which I am finding that I am taking personally. On top of that, I went to get a massage as an act of self-care, and the masseuse used deep tissue massage, which felt good in the moment, but left my back literally bruised and painful to the touch this week. I have literally felt beat up on from all angles: physically, mentally, and emotionally. *deep breath* 

Life is really ok. I have shelter, food, a job, friends and family who love me and who I love deeply, I am healthy, I have the ability to see, walk/run, swim, bike, think clearly, and so much more. One thing I am really good at is “slippery slope” thinking. In other words, I jump quickly to conclusions that may not be very accurate, such as believing that I should not be a counselor because I cannot find an internship (truthfully, I am late in the process and some of the reason I am getting turned down is because of my limited availability).

A good friend of mine got me the 52 Lists for Happiness book. I was working on a list of “things that I am really good at” and thought about my friend Mari‘s recent question to me about finding my purpose. She asked me what I loved to do and what my earliest memories were, so as I was working on my list of what I am good at, I started to also think about ways in my past that these talents have manifested. For example, I wrote down that I am good at being a cheerleader. I have always cheered people on to pursue their dreams, whether that is finishing a half marathon or going back to school to get a degree. One of my favorite things about when I worked for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program was cheering participants on during their races. I would scream their name as they ran or walked past me on the half/full marathon course, and I could see them smile and develop a little pep in their step that was not there before. I would LOVE to be a professional cheerleader (not the short-skirt wearing, super flexible, pompom shaking kind). Maybe a better word is champion: When people have doubts, I fight for them and cheer them on to believe in themselves and to keep going. I am good at being a champion for others. (Alright, yes, I know what you are thinking: “Gee Kelly, maybe you need to learn to use that skill on yourself and be your own champion.” I am working on it. This blog is part of that process.)

As mentioned before, I am beautiful. I am strong. I have a purpose. I am enough.

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #9

“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
The quote above really resonated with me today. We are the sum of all of our parts. We can always grow and improve, which is what makes this journey of life interesting, but we do not need to take anything away: We are perfect as we are, with everything we have and have become along the way. And by perfect, I mean we each have a unique place, purpose and perspective in this world. When we live our lives centered in love, we can do much good in our communities. When we fight who we are and struggle and sink into hate, we cannot even offer much that is beneficial to ourselves, much less the world around us. Learning to live my life from a place of love and peace is what this 30 day journey is about for me. I am removing the negativity and self-hate that stops me from living the life I was meant to live. The goal for me is not perfection, but a love that celebrates and finds meaning in my flaws. Those imperfections make me beautiful and unique. I like being different. I am celebrating my unique place in this world by learning to celebrate all of me so “there is nothing left to take away.”

Today I am celebrating my muscular calf muscles. Ever since I was young, I have had defined calves. They have been a defining feature of my physical self, and no matter how big or bulky they may look, I love them completely. I love their strength and definition. I love to poke them when they are flexed and feel how strong they are. The irony is I hate to exercise them. No, these babies are brought to you by good genes (thanks mom and dad) and constant toe lifts to reach things that are taller than me. My calf muscles are beautiful and I am beautiful.

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #8

I love my muscles! Ok, so maybe they are not very big or super defined right now, BUT they are growing every day. They push me forward as I train for the Ironman triathlon in October. They are transforming my shape and burning more calories when I am at rest. They are AWESOME! They make me feel powerful and capable of tackling any challenge. They help me to see that progress is being made because I can walk up the stairs or up a hill without gasping for breath, AND I can carry more groceries (I am notorious for loading up my arms and trying to carry all of my groceries into the house on one trip).

My muscles are awesome, and I am awesome.

Hey! It is Day #8 and I feel better every day. I feel hope, love, more peace and joy. I am beginning to think that this body positivity journey needs to be a daily practice for me even well beyond the 30 days of this challenge.

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #7

Today I am focusing on my eyes. I love my blue eyes! I wear glasses/contacts, and I am so thankful for my ability to see. My eyes make it easy for me to do one of my most favorite activities, which is reading. I LOVE to read. My eyes allow me to see the beauty of a smile and laughter on someone’s face. My eyes allow me to see the gorgeous flowers that are in bloom around Boston right now. They allow my to see the sunshine on the water and through the bright green leaves of the trees. My eyes make it easy for me to bike and run and participate in the activities I love to do. I am very grateful for my eyes.

What I am learning through this process is that the power of gratitude is unlimited. When we turn our attention on what we love and are grateful for, then we allow our hearts to open to joy and love. There is more to celebrate than there is to curse in this world, but we have to have the eyes to see those blessings. Gratitude shifts our perspective to allow us to see the opportunities, blessings, moments of joy and love that are in our lives daily.

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #6

This challenge started off so well. In the first few days, I felt great, happier, and was ready to shine my love on myself as well as onto the rest of the world. Then I hit an emotional snag, and I am starting to see some of my deep habits emerge. When things are not right with a loved one, I have a tendency to beat myself up. I feel sad and start nitpicking myself again: my skin looks bad, I have wrinkles, my hair is graying, I am not beautiful, I am fat, I am not worthy of love, etc. I have had to catch myself because these thoughts flood in unconsciously. I look in the mirror and I struggle. I know I could do more to feel better: take some extra time to do my makeup and hair, go shopping and buy cute clothes that fit. But I also really want to move beyond this notion that my value is based on my outward appearance. I have SO much more beauty to offer this world than my outward looks, but this journey is hard.

Truly loving myself, flaws and all, is hard work. I am also learning how closely related my food intake is to how I am feeling and how I value and love myself. For example, today I am deeply sad. I got into a massive fight last night with my partner. I do not know where things will go from here, and I am left feeling pretty miserable. There is a lot of pressure and stress on us and we are taking it out on each other instead of loving each other. So this morning, I found myself at a Dunkin Donuts. I was there just to get coffee, but found myself looking longingly at the shelf of donuts. I felt sad and surely one or ten of those shiny, sugary confections would cheer me up? But then I paused: would they really feel good in my tummy after I ate them? Would I feel better emotionally after I devoured every crumb? The truth is that those donuts would not fulfill the deep need I have in my heart, which is to feel loved and accepted. And if my partner cannot love and accept me right now, I need to do that for myself. I should do that anyways, but more than ever, I need to love and accept myself today. Putting fried fat and sugar into my mouth is not truly an act of kindness or love. An act of love would be what I did, which was to go to my office and eat my plain oatmeal with raisins and walnuts. (My tummy did a happy dance and I feel so much better than if I had caved to the donut’s allure and false promises.) So I am slowly making changes and moving forward on my path.

Today, I am working on stopping my automatic negative thoughts, and I am working on smiling more. I am working on smiling at people and making eye contact. I am working on being more present than getting lost in my tumultuous thoughts. To change my thoughts and attitude, I am thinking about things that make me happy, like my recent trip to Ireland (the picture at the top of this post is from that trip), and I am just repeating the mantra I started from Day #1, which is I am beautiful. I am worthy of love. I am enough. I have a purpose. I have gifts to share with the world. Dear Reader, whoever you are, I hope you believe that you are beautiful, worthy of love, that you are enough, and have a purpose too.

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #5

Today I am focusing on my body’s strength. I am grateful for my ability to build muscle and gain strength. I am grateful for my body’s ability to heal and regenerate. 

I am still in the beginning stages of training for an Ironman triathlon. I am always amazed at the process of endurance training: in the beginning, my body hurts, it is hard to do the workouts and I often feel like what I am training for seems physically impossible. But I do not give up, which allows me to experience my body gain strength. Soon I am doing longer and harder workouts. 

For the last few weeks, the start of every workout has felt hard. I’m tired, my muscles are sore. But the last week, I have started to turn a corner. I am able to run longer. I feel better. My body is getting stronger. 

I am amazed and believe I am capable of more than I know. Like trees reaching toward the sunlight, I am reaching toward love and my full potential. I am growing and learning to love myself more each day. I am beautiful. I am strong. I have a purpose. I am enough. 

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #4

Today was a good test. In the past, fighting with my partner would drive me to an emotional food eating binge. But today I went for a 10 mile run. Today I am reflecting on the desire to eat my emotions. Eating chips, cookies, a tub of ice cream will not hurt my partner or get back at him for hurting me, but that action will have a negative effect on me. When I stop and pause, I feel pretty good internally. When the hurt and anger subsides, I am left with me and the choices I can make. Binge eating will not heal my heart. Binge eating will not make me feel any better. 

Instead, I am doing my laundry and setting myself up for a successful weekend. I am choosing to love myself when my partner cannot. He has his own drama and demons to face and I am working on mine. 

Today I am being kind to myself and choosing self-love. 

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #3

Today I am focusing on my heart. My heart is unwavering and steadfast. My heart does not stop working even while I am sleeping. An incredibly powerful and strong muscle, my heart is fierce in its determination to keep me alive. Thank you heart! Not only are you a metaphor for love, but you are the reason I am alive and breathing. I cannot do this journey without you on so many levels.

Even though this is only day #3, I am becoming more and more amazed at my body’s ability to truly care for me without my conscious awareness. My heart tirelessly pumps blood through my body, transporting nourishment and oxygen while also removing waste. It is a blessing to be alive, healthy, able-bodied: things I take for granted on a regular basis. My looks, size and shape have very little to do with the person I was created to be. How much I take for granted by being ungrateful and focusing on the parts of my body that I misjudge. It’s like being handed a gift from someone we love dearly and saying, “ugh, gross! You know, this would really be the perfect gift if you would just get ride of this part, change that part, scrap that part, add this and that, etc. I mean, why did you even give me this gift?! I do not want it. Take it away!!” This body is my gift to experience and cherish: she has taken me to the finish line of two Ironman triathlons, she has healed and been resilient, and maybe someday might bear life. Why do I hate what has given me so much?

My eyes are a little misty as I type this post because I do not think I have realized just how amazing my body is and how much of a blessing it is to be in this body. Why have I wasted so much time hating my physical self? It feels really embarrassing to type this post because I know this is all so obvious, but I think I am just starting to open my heart and love myself. I feel a shift, more love and peace. If I can love myself a little more every day, then what does it matter what is going on at work, school, life? I have gifts and a purpose, and there is so much good in this universe. I truly believe there is more than enough good for all of us. I am on my path. You are on your path. We will both get to where we need to go. Thank you body for carrying me on my path. Because my body is unique, I have my own journey to take. Don’t I love my journey so far? (Yes!) So why would I wish for anything else?! My flaws are part of this journey. They are probably more of a blessing than I realize. I am willing to open my eyes and explore those blessings.

I am beautiful. I am worthy. I am enough. I have a purpose. I have gifts to share with the world. (Repetition is key!)

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge

Love Thy Self: Day #2

Today I wanted to tackle one of the parts of my body that draws the most negative focus and thoughts: my tummy. I have always carried most of my weight in this area of my body. I have stretch marks, even though I have never birthed children. I have rolls (you know, the kind that babies have but that are not so cute on adults). In a world where flat stomachs are idolized, I have often bemoaned the look of my belly. Even at skinnier times in my life, I have always had visible cellulite (I have never had a smooth, toned stomach). I am aware of my midsection daily when I try to button pants, zip up my coat, or even when I am sitting down and the rolls press against my clothing and make me feel uncomfortable. Because I have expended so much negative energy hating this part of my body, I felt like this would be the place to start, where I need a major mental overhaul.

Ok, here goes nothing…

belly

The above picture I took today, May 4, 2017. I used a filter to soften the image, but you can see where my clothes have left prints, where I have some visible rolls (top and bottom of the image), and if you look close enough, you can see some of the stretch marks. But this post is not about adding to the negative talk, so let me get down to business. I thought a letter to my tummy might be most appropriate:

Dear Tummy,

You and I have been at odds with each other for most of our lives. I have done nothing but ridicule you and judge you, when all you do is house some of the most important organs in my body and work to keep me alive by processing the food I ingest. I have spent many years abusing you: the stretch marks are battle scars from wars I have had with myself and with food. But I am learning that to achieve my goals, I need to consider you an ally.

In times when I have abused myself with unhealthy food choices, you tried to let me know. You screamed at me enraged and inflamed, but after the pain subsided, I continued to ignore you. Now I am trying to listen to you when I think about eating unhealthy foods. I am working to give you the respect and nourishment you deserve. You have done nothing but support me, and I have shunned you and been angry at you. I have blamed you for my unhappiness, but you are not the problem. The more I can love and accept you as you are, the more I can learn to love and accept all of me.

I am sorry tummy. Please forgive me.

Love,

Me

I am beautiful, worthy and enough, tummy and all.

#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge