For the past month or so I have been making an effort to exercise every day, and have been trying really hard to be mindful of my eating. We have a fun family trip coming up, and I didn’t want to be strategically hiding behind my kids in all the photos to hide my tummy, which is my usual “solution” to the issue. I’ve been feeling pretty good, noticing some toning and slimness, and since I needed some new summer clothes (does anyone else still have shirts from 10 years ago or is it just me??), I decided it was a great time to go! I confidently walked into our local TJMaxx, and began browsing….I left an hour later completely defeated and ready to cry. In fact I did cry when I ran into one of my dear friends and she asked how shopping had gone. As our kids played and had a snack, I did my best not to ugly cry as I related to her how frustrated and defeated I was feeling. The word I didn’t say, but was unconsciously thinking was “worthless.” Now, anyone who knows anything about fitness will probably be able to tell you that flat abs don’t happen after only one month of effort! But I had been working so hard, and I had felt so good about myself until I attempted to try on shorts and tank tops. Those dressing room mirrors are a special kind of mean sometimes aren’t they?
I told her how just tired I was of feeling unattractive and frumpy and uncomfortable in my own skin, and how I just felt so frustrated that I wasn’t farther along in the process. She patiently listened to my rant, and when I was done, she attacked the issue. She spoke truth like only a friend can, and the lies that had a death grip on my soul slowly began to lose hold. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you who you are, how far you have come and what you have to offer. (Somewhere my poor husband is rolling his eyes thinking “Woman! I tell you this all the time!” Sorry babe, you promised to love me forever. You’re biased ;))
As I drove home, and throughout the rest of the afternoon, I mulled her words over in my mind. I realized how very mean I often am to myself. A recent Instagram post by a family member popped into my head. She had posted a photo of herself dressed so very cutely, and added the caption “I’m being nice to myself. It’s this new thing I’m trying.” At the time I remember being surprised because she is a person I have always viewed as living in her authentic self and being completely comfortable in her own skin. There weren’t enough heart eye emojis for me to fully express how much I loved her and admired her. So often, we are MEAN. Not to others, but to ourselves.
Recently I read a blog post by a mom who started living by the mantra “only love today.” Her original intent was just to help her relationship with her kids; taming her harsh words, being more patient etc. She taped up the words “Only love today” on her mirror to remind herself to only show love. But she went on to say how it began to affect how she viewed herself as well. When that inner bully started in, she stopped and consciously thought “only love today” about herself. The thought intrigued me. What if I chose to think only the best things about myself? What if instead of focusing on every possible flaw, I purposely looked for the things about me that I love? Hello game changer. There’s something inside you that holds you back from liking yourself thought isn’t there? Like it’s somehow arrogant or prideful to actually like yourself and think you’re somewhat cool. But I decided to give it a go (after I did ugly cry to my patient husband of course). I decided to start by getting rid of all the clothes I didn’t actually like, but only wore to hide my tummy. Which probably never fooled anyone anyways. If anything I think I had more people ask me when I was due. Sigh. Out went my boring black and grays, and I invested in some more bright and cheerful clothing. I usually don’t go for “flashy” because I’m too busy trying to blend in so nobody looks too hard at my flaws.
I’m still in the newness of this mode of thought, but I have noticed already what a difference it makes. The other night it was Open House at our sons’ school, and I put on one of my new tops, with my newly done hair that my hairstylist had curled for the fun of it, and I felt like a rockstar. I even (gasp!) put some tinted lip gloss on before I got out of the car. Only love today I told myself as my tribe loudly walked up where all the other parents and kids were waiting to enter classrooms. Only love today as I mustered up the nerve to talk to a few of the “cool” moms that intimidate the begeezes out me and I usually just pass by with a smile and quick hi. Only love today as I awkwardly walked around carrying paper bags full of craft projects and treasures from their school year. Only love today when I realized afterwards I hadn’t taken a single picture of any of my boys with their teachers or their friends or their projects.
This blog has been an immense time of growth for me. I have strived (striven? Strove? Eh) to be an authentic writer, I have a deep aversion to writing anything I don’t actually mean, and that requires me to do a whole lot of thinking before I post something. If I’m not actually living what I’m writing about, then it is all a lie, and this is a pointless endeavor. Who wants that? It’s actually easier for me to be authentic in writing though, I have time to process and cut and paste. Showing my authentic self out in the real world however, that’s a tough one. On Mother’s Day I posted on my personal social media account, possibly one of the realest visualexpressions of me being my true self that I have ever posted. We were having a family dance party in the driveway, and I filmed it, and without thinking too much about it, I posted it. Five minutes later I was waffling over deleting it. Even texting a friend who “liked” it to ask if she thought I looked like an idiot. Good grief. I ended up leaving it up and was glad I did. Not because of the “likes” but because I felt myself let it go. This is me, dancing like a crazy person for all the world to see, but it was me. Not me hiding, not me pretending to be anything other than me. And my babies absolutely love it when I just be me. It means they can be them.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
I absolutely love this verse. It’s mind blowing to me. The author is acknowledging and PRAISING God for the fact that they are the workmanship of their intentional Creator, and, as all of His works are wonderful, they are accepting they are as well! Hot dang. I’m a wonderful creation. Every little, slightly bumpy, part of me. That includes you as well you know. You are a wonderful creation, intentionally made. So, all this to say, I’m going to continue to do my best to just be me, and I want you to be you, and we can be weird, awkward, beautiful, crazy people together, and be happy about it. Deal? Only love today friends.
|My “rockstar” moment in my new top with my fancy hair. I felt so good it called for a selfie.
And yes that is a toy shopping cart next to my head. I’m not a giant.