5 Ways to Love Yourself and Reveal Your Awesome

WARNING: A little extra language in the pictures of this post — because I was feeling passionate!

In life there are two pulls — the urge to become more and the necessity of loving yourself as is.  I don’t believe these forces are incompatible but we too often tell our story as ‘I’m broken and I must fix myself.’

But we’re not broken.  We are spiritual beings having a physical experience and our bodies can shatter, we can grow tired, we may even get lost.  And we can definitely make mistakes.  But we can’t break.  And at our soul level there is something so fundamentally strong and beautiful and full of glorious purpose that it burns brightly our whole lives and we cannot lessen its glow one iota — we can only hide it from the world and even ourselves.

We lose sight of the things that make us beautiful and make us dream.  We sell our days for power and money, and give away the peace of night in exchange for fears and insecurity.

Found on wisdom-square.com

There was no grand scheme, no master plan to build a society that told us, from birth to death, that we are not good enough.  Companies just sold things, and advertisers discovered that praying on our fears, playing to our vanities, and distorting our dreams sold a lot of soda.  And cars.  And weight loss devices.

An unintentional side effect of this effective advertising is, on a massive level, unconscious self-loathing (oops!).  And before you think I overstate my case, I’ll ask ‘Are you happy with the shape of your body?’  ‘How often do you wish you had more money?’  ‘Do you think other people have more fun, more vibrant social lives than you?’  Or as my sister put it, she grew up thinking you couldn’t be the hero of the story unless you were ‘the pretty one’.

And having to grow up at school, trapped in a building with a bunch of other confused kids doesn’t help.  So we emerge, blinking, into the strong sunlight of adulthood and look around, lost.  And yet we often still try, still push toward our dreams and our heart’s desires.

But the road is long, and we stumble, then retreat.  And somewhere along the way we can grow cold, or even cruel.  We gain weight and believe ourselves maybe just the ‘sassy friend’ instead of the luminous heroine.  I’ve had pretty good self esteem for a few years now (starting my groups People Who Have Come Alive & the Athens Writers Association was a big turning point for me), but even I was thrown backwards, back to TV show expectations of my youth recently when I fell for someone and wondered ‘Could I even be seen as attractive to him?’ And I’ve worked on this stuff for years!  But billions of dollars have been spent in the same time span to tell me I lack something, or many things.

So cover our glow in armor, in hardheartedness, in shrouds.  We develop traits we don’t like, and these become the weak places where we also build up our strongest defenses.  And somewhere along the way, we believe a myth we have helped write, the story of why we don’t deserve success — in business, in love, or in life.

Before I started my groups, my self publishing, or even a lot of my self improvement, I too had a myth.  I was a ‘nice’ girl who was too shy for groups, too boring to have friends, and too ugly (read fat) to have a boyfriend.  It hurts and bewilders me now to write these words, because I never expressed them to anyone back then, but none the less, it was a story — a reason — that I used to explain my life.  The truth was I was quiet and introspective, and curvy (and still am).

So what changed my outlook?  I think I just realized that I had felt and wrestled with these feelings, these ‘lacks’, most of my adult life, so it followed that I could be having exactly the same conversations with myself in 10, or 20, or 30 years.  I didn’t want that and so I decided to take action — bringing the people I wanted to know together, speaking even when my voice shook, and building a body I could love — with or without a man to enjoy it with.

So how do you let go of these brainwashed ideals and layers of armor?  How do you honor how awesome you are and know how far you can go?

5 Ways to Love Yourself and Reveal Your Awesome

  1. Start questioning your authorities.  When you think, ‘I need to lose weight’ — STOP.   Ask yourself where this desire is coming from — love or fear?  Do you love dancing around, and feeling great with tons of energy?  Or do you read magazines and watch shows that take 1% of the human population and then Photoshop and light them to look like 0% naturally do?  If you think you need more success (and money) ask yourself why.  Will that really make something inside you different and happier or have you just been told the validation of life is cha-ching! cash?  After you start questioning your sources, consider cutting the toxic ones out of your life while looking at things from a new perspective (read blogs about people beating anorexia or helping children in disadvantaged countries, watch foreign films, find quotes and people that build you up, read bios of great historical figures).  And when a person you know offers their opinion, always ask yourself, ‘Are they someone I want to emulate, to aspire to be?’
  2. Make time for what makes you awesome.  So often we only work on our weaknesses.  In the book Now, Discover Your Strengths, the authors talk about how you want to shore up your weaknesses, but only enough that they don’t slow you down (they use an example of Tiger Woods improving his short game so it would not detract from his amazing long swings that got him to the green so quickly).  The takeaway was that you are never going to be amazing because of your weaknesses — it’s your unique strengths that will blow people away.  So take pride in the things that come easily to you, delve into the hobbies and sports that you excel at (I once told my sister that I felt like I was ‘made’ for cycling — and that is a powerful feeling, almost like you’re cheating).  In the same way, I didn’t really ‘fix’ my character flaws, I just walked away from them and focused on stuff I rock at — and I’ve never looked back.
  3.  Get healthy.  Seriously, throw out the scale (it’s a horrible measure of health), and forget about diets (these temporary things you hate) while embracing diet (a lifelong way of eating that makes you feel great).  So much self esteem and endorphins lie on the other side of exercise and eating right.  Also — weed, drinking, and excessive sugar can all be enjoyed, but they can also become a crutch that makes us feel powerless and reliant on their mood enhancements.  And I know smokers already feel beat up upon, but I really do feel like that addiction unfairly makes you feel powerless — a slave to nicotine — many times a day, so I hope, if you smoke, you find out how powerful you are and break that habit into a million pieces.
  4.  Become an inspiration to others.  Write a book.  Lead a cause.  Start a group.  Blog about fitness.  Mentor a child.  Follow your dream so hard that others stare in wonder.  When I started my groups, a strange thing happened: people started telling me how awesome I was, and how I was inspiring them.  I felt there must be some mistake, but no — I was just living my life but even what I considered small acts — hosting a meeting, sharing what I knew, encouraging people with a few words — others saw a value to that and spoke up about it.  This inspired me to do more — publish a book, give a public reading — because I realized that we all have fears and insecurities and the more ‘fake it till you make it’ I did, the more bold and brave they would become in their own lives.  Suddenly, being awesome wasn’t about just me.
  5. Speak to yourself with love.  Not get all psychological on you, but there’s only one person watching everything you do and commenting on how you do it.  It’s you.  And it was a real wake-up call the first time I read something like ‘If you wouldn’t speak to a small child like that, why would you speak to your inner child that way?’  It’s really hard to live an inspiring life if someone is degrading you all the time.  So, give yourself a break.  It’s been shown in studies that being ‘hard line’ or tough with yourself does not improve your willpower or results.  In fact, the opposite is true.  You are already doing great things — give yourself some love.

So start seeing yourself as beautiful.

Fall in love with who you are at your silliest and most sublime.

Forgive the actions and thoughts of your past and know they are not you.

Make choices that reveal your inner glory and magnificent joy.

Say “Screw you!” to any society that hasn’t gotten on board with your level of sexy, awesomeness, or lifestyle.

Heal your body and free your mind.

And lastly, when you feel imperfect, remember the words of Leonard Cohen — “There is crack in everything . . .

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8 Days of Awesome

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Today marks the first day of my ‘staycation’.  The last time I had one was about 6 or 7 years ago and it was one of the highlights of my life.  This one is even more important.

2014 is THE year of breakthrough and change for me.  It’s time to retire the gentle draft horse mentality that carried me through the years since my dad divorced my mom and my mom died.  It’s time to re-claim the wild stallion energy that use to roam the plains of my youth.  I do nothing just to get by; I seek adventure.

This week (+1 day) is about rest, recovery, and rediscovering the spark of who I am and what I’m doing with the rest of my life.  I’ll keep you guys updated each day.

Now to gallop toward the horizon!

Winter Wonderland

 

Like a lot of people, I’m snowed in right now (this picture was taken before most of the snow fell).  But if you can’t move forward with all your big plans right now, then just take a moment and enjoy exactly where you are.

Take a deep breath.

You are right where you are suppose to be.

And everything good is headed you way.

Now go play in the snow.

49 Days (and ways) To Be Amazing By New Year’s

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  1. Spend half as much on Christmas this year
  2. Give twice as much to Charity
  3. Start that blog
  4. Get a ‘walking buddy’ and walk three times a week
  5. Make a party plan, and only go (and eat and drink) when you really want to
  6. Start your novel
  7. Write a love letter to yourself
  8. Go to a dance — and dance
  9. Find a new favorite song
  10. Plan to make 2014 amazing
  11. Picture who you want to be in 49 days (and make it happen!)
  12. Get on the Paleo diet
  13. Start Cycling
  14. Go on a blind date with the idea on finding a new best friend
  15. Do something nice for a stranger
  16. Visit your oldest relative
  17. Make a homemade gift
  18. Take a class
  19. Make a Christmas playlist that makes you want to dance all day long
  20. Make Christmas cookies with your best friend
  21. Write a love letter to your dream boy/girl (even if you haven’t met them yet)
  22. Invest in bath bubbles
  23. Buy a new comforter — super soft
  24. Volunteer
  25. Clean out your least favorite room — make it your favorite
  26. Write down one hundred people you are grateful for and tell them about it
  27. Make a ten year plan
  28. Make a five year plan
  29. Make a one year plan
  30. Don’t plan everything
  31. Pick three days between now and New Year’s to be ‘do nothing’ days — and have Ferris Bueller fun
  32. Watch a ‘Reign’ or ‘Blacklist’
  33. Buy a Frank Turner song
  34. Visit this Pinterest page
  35. Watch a TED talk
  36. Visit a state park
  37. Write a poem
  38. Buy a Christmas ornament that speaks to your craziest, awesomiest self
  39. Make your own Christmas cards out of memes
  40. Send Thanksgiving cards
  41. Become an adventurer
  42. Be kinder than necessary
  43. Spend a full day cleaning your house
  44. Smile more
  45. Give away everything you don’t love
  46. Stop apologizing
  47. Start to awe people
  48. Try a new genre of music
  49. Buy Lady Gaga’s song Christmas Tree

from ThinkGeek.com

Grab a Little Magic For Yourself

‘I Still Believe’ by Frank Turner

Last night my sister Sarah and I saw Frank Turner in Atlanta and he was AMAZING!  Frank has been a huge influence on my journey to  live the life of my dreams.

Sarah first heard an interview with Frank on NPR a few years ago and we’ve been addicted ever since.  ‘I Still Believe’ has 601 plays on our itunes account and ‘Photosynthesis’ has 553 plays.

Frank is someone who has taken the path less traveled and is now living a life of destiny.  His live show is funny, passionate, and so full of energy you wouldn’t believe it.  I’m SO inspired.  And I want you to grab a little of that magic for yourself, buy a few Frank songs, and make the most of these last 51 days in 2013.

LET’S ALL START LIVING OUR DREAMS AND REMEMBER —

‘Photosynisis’ by Frank Turner

Buy Frank on Amazon

Visit his website

Listen to my favorite Frank Turner song —

How To Become Beloved

  • Give it away — your time, your love, your heart
  • Say the sweet things you usually only think
  • Work hard
  • Always be honest, even about the little things
  • Keep your promises
  • Help others achieve their dreams
  • go the extra mile
  • Don’t take your frustrations out on others
  • Seek the things that make you make smile, then smile about them
  • Find a life so exciting that others cannot help but grin when they think about you
  • Find money and material items to be some of the least important things on Earth
  •  Love yourself
  • Let your inner glow, light, madness, and weird-irasity shine
  • See everyone as perfect at a soul level
  • Have empathy, or at least, have sympathy
  • Do little surprises for those you love all the time
  • Know it is better to be tricked a couple of times in your whole life than to be suspicious all of your life
  • Dance when your spirit call you to
  • Know that everyone is a ‘bad dancer’, ‘nervous about public speaking’, ‘afraid to talk to that person’, and could ‘never do that’ even though they’d love to — and then go be the person that shows everyone how awesome life is on the other side of fear
  • Love animals, nature, and life
  • Listen to other intelligent opinions
  • Know your worth, and refuse to spend time with anyone who doesn’t treat you as a magical, beautiful, perfect being
  • Seek adventure
  • Always have a beginner’s spirit and a master’s patience
  • Find the one thing you were put on Earth to do, and do it
  • Put down the phone when you are already in a room with people you love
  • Look others in the eye when talking to them
  • Never make jokes that are cruel
  • Give your ‘positions of power’ away but keep your strength
  • Love everyone
  • Live in the now
  • Know that you are worth it
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff
  • Turn off the TV and talk to others
  • Be a geek about anything you love
  • Be kind in words and thoughts , even to those who are cruel — especially to those who are cruel
  • Don’t steal
  • Look at life as a blessed, gifted miracle
  • Release worry
  • Embrace how awesome you are
  • Live the life of your dreams
  • Realize that you need only be and act from your highest, truest self and you will be instantly beloved by those you are meant for — and those who don’t understand and value your perfection you are happy to release to go on their way
  • Be kick ass.
  • Remember that in a hundred years none of this will matter
  • Remember today matters
  • And always —

Wake Up to Your Potential

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A couple of weeks ago I got a chance to see the Netherlands Dance Theater group (above) perform live in Chapel Hill, NC.  I believe it will be one of the seminal moments of my life.   I was three rows from the stage, which meant I was maybe 30 feet from 20 people who were some of the best in the world and undoubtedly living the life of their dreams.  It wasn’t easy work, they were shaking from the exertion by the end, but they got a standing ovation (and many southern hoots and hollers, which always amuses foreign performers).  In the picture above, they are performing in an indoor ‘rain shower’ — incredible!

But the thing is, I believe 100% that we all have the potential to be that amazing.  Here’s my takeaways on how to do it —

  • Be willing to work really hard.  The get thing is, once you dedicate yourself, you’ll find all these incredible things, all these riches and magic, on the other side of hard work.  Most people never see how great it is.
  • Let the shit fall away.  This inarticulate idea is none the less the #1 thing I came away with from the event.  If I want to be that amazing (and I do), I need to get rid of junk from my house, fat from my body, any unhappy relationships (actually everyone’s golden, but it’s a good thing to think about).  Blast yourself out of the stratosphere of the commonplace and into the realm of the gods.
  • Just do what you love.  All the NDT performers come from different countries and, because this is modern dance, they all have different body types (not your 20 identical swans ballet troupe).  These people are all extraordinary, and so happy, but I’m sure they had to fight to find the place where their dreams could come true.  I’m sure a LOT of people told them doing modern dance would never be a real job — and now, because they never quit, they are living proof that ‘what you want wants you’.  So, if you know WHAT you really want to do, know that you CAN do it.  Now go watch some Youtube dances!