Learning To Love Myself

If you were given the opportunity to redo parts of your life, would you? Would you go back to your teens? Or would you go back to your 20’s? I’ve caught myself thinking about my life before I met my wonderful husband and before I had my girls. I would find myself asking, would I ever do it again?

The answer might seem like an easy one for so many. One of the biggest promises I made for myself was to always live my life without regrets. This was so important to me for so many reasons. I remember that first feeling of regret and how it made me feel, and that’s where I started to do some internal, emotional digging, and learned the tools I needed to cope and learn from each experience.

Growing up, I have had my fair share of being in the wrong places at the wrong time and making friends who made questionable decisions. Everyone around me saw me as crazy, reckless and wild. I was the “problem” child. I was labelled as defiant, and rebellious. These were the constant labels that I would often hear. But, was I actually rebellious, or was I seeking independence? No matter what outcome this had brought me, I learned from each mistake and learned things about myself that others around me wouldn’t have learned

Some of the best choices I have made and lessons I have learned were from pushing back, and making my own choices. Despite what others would think, I did choose my friends carefully. Despite what others thought, my friends were my village. I surrounded myself, and spent most of my time with my friends than I had with most of my family. I chose friends who allowed me to be who I wanted to be, without judgement. I surrounded myself with friends who not only chose their own decisions and their own path in life, but would never question my decisions or my paths. My friends, for the most part, were always there for me, when I needed someone the most. Early on, I knew how to look past questionable differences, because the choices that someone makes, doesn’t always translate to the choices I make. Everyday, we are making choices for ourself, consciously and subconsciously. Even though we can’t always control all circumstances, we always have the choice on how we act and react. This was something I remember that was not always trusted of me. From early on, it was easier for my parents to guard me instead of allowing me to experience and learn from them. When people hurt us, whether its from their choices, the choice is still ours even if we let it consume us, or if we choose to move on, and forgive. The choice to find something to numb the pain, run away from the pain, or choosing relationships with people who were wrong for you, are all choices we make.

I knew this all too well. Some of these choices I have experienced first hand, and others I have witnessed. I became very aware of my wrong doings and in so many cases I have allowed them to linger or have chosen not to correct them. I was not very good at navigating through challenging situations. I avoided shit outcomes of my poor choices.

Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Pexels.com

So, if I could redo parts of my life, would I? I would! But… The part that I would change would be to have learned how to love myself in its entirety. For most of my life, I have put others first before myself. I have learned early on, how to love others, but I was not very good at knowing how to love myself. From a young age, I was not very comfortable in my own skin. I struggled with appearance issues which led to unhealthy habits. I have found relationships in unhealthy ways. I grew up not feeling confident. Self-esteem was something that would drift in and out of my life. I never felt 100% comfortable in my own skin. I found ways to dodge pictures, even though I was outgoing and wanted to participate. I found excuses to not attend gatherings that involved swimming, where you had to wear a bathing suit. In the summer time I mostly wore pants and ignored the idea of wearing shorts, no matter how hot it was outside. There is no doubt that some of these issues stemmed from my upbringing. I would watch different family members express discomfort with wearing certain clothes and expressing vocally their discomfort with their own body. When they say that kids are like sponges, this is so true.

It wasn’t until I became a mother where I felt the most comfortable at being myself. I found comfort in my life with how my body is, now. I remember struggling with my weight a lot growing up, and what my weight was, consumed me. Now, that I am a mother, I have realized that weight should not consume your thoughts day in and day out. I have made a promise to myself that I would focus on “living in the moment.” Not just some, but all of it!

I am raising two young girls and the last thing I wan’t to display to them is how uncomfortable our body can be. By shifting the mindset from “I feel fat,” to the mindset of “I need to exercise more to keep my body healthy,” shifts the body image mindset. If I start to openly complain about how I dislike myself, my body and mind, this will translate to my young girls faster then I can predict. Part of my journey to loving myself begins with ACCEPTANCE. Accepting that I’m not like everyone else. Learning to love yourself begins with baby steps. Begins with ACCEPTING, RECOGNIZING, and GROWING with yourself. This will never be something that happens over night. I have to acknowledge and understand that this journey will be lifelong, and there will always be moments where there is doubt. So, one of my reminders is that my body carried and delivered 2 beautiful girls, and this is, and will be the new Me.

I have to remind myself that it’s OK to age, and that we all get older, despite what the media will show us. We are meant to age. It’s natural, and it’s ok for our weight to fluctuate. Staying healthy doesn’t always equal weight loss. There is no such thing as “perfect.” The word “PERFECT,” is so subjective, it should be removed from how we identify each other. What is perfect? What’s perfect to one person, is and will always be different to another person. We should look at people the same way we look at clothes. There are a million different styles, not one style is the same, and that’s ok.

I am here to set an example to my girls, that we need to embrace imperfections and remove the word “PERFECT.” I need to continue to love myself, and model that love to my girls. We only have 1 life to live, and we should be fulfilling our life with things that truly matter in life. I will never be like everyone else. There is only 1 of Me, in this world, and I am here to make the best of it. There is only 1 of YOU in the world, and that’s damn special!

Love & Friendship

When I look back three years ago, it never occurred to me that my friendships with my girlfriends would change. Some of my friendships have gotten much closer, while others have become more distant. Dwelling on what has happened, I think about the times I would pick up the phone and have long talks with my girlfriends about our love lives, our favorite gossip stories, or planning a movie night. Planning a girls night seemed effortless, in fact there was no planning required…it just happened.

friends

Marriage is learning to live with a guy, and at times can come with full of surprises when you least expect it. Mind you, I will never trade the blessing of marriage, and being married to my husband for the world, but marriage brings with it a lot of “stuff”. You are no longer grocery shopping, doing laundry or cooking for one person. You are no longer thinking about yourself, you are thinking of all the considerations for you and your husband while making decisions. At times, this can be overwhelming.

I look back at the friendships I had before I was married, single and sometimes dating, the common denominator was more time. I had less priorities, and more time to visit friends,  whom I would call my best friends. Now that I’m older, and now that I’m married, my circle of friends have become smaller, and my best friend became my husband. This is not because I don’t value my friendships the same way I did before, but because my husband became my number one priority.  As I reflect on my past memories, I feel guilty for not being there for my friends, and that I’ve created the feeling of “I don’t care,” But trust me, I do care!  As much as some of my friends might think that I have moved on with my life, or they no longer matter to me, I feel the same way about them.

I have come to realize that just like marriage, friendships take a heck of a lot of patience and effort. My phone calls might consist of more of texts as I try to balance my work life with my personal life, and my visits might have to be marked on my calendar, but this doesn’t mean I don’t care, it means that I am trying, and you are worth my effort!

Modesty: See more, Be more

Photo by tiverylucky- Image ID: 100319198

Photo by tiverylucky- Image ID: 100319198

For decades our culture has stopped valuing modesty, instead valuing women for all the wrong reasons. Yet, as parents, we try to teach our children to dress and act appropriately despite what we see and hear around us. How difficult is it to teach our children, teenagers and young adults the value of self-worth and respect, when our culture isn’t teaching it?

I don’t have children yet, but I do fear, when the time comes, what this will be like for them.

We live in a “sex-crazed” society; sexual messages are everywhere, and are reviewed by children. What was once known as unacceptable or risqué is now accepted and we see it everyday. There is no wonder, some boys and men experience difficulty fighting  their temptations, or sudden urges to look, speak and act, when sex is around us, all the time. It is very important to understand, men have a responsibility to control, but .. women have responsibility, too. Women have to start taking responsibility for their wardrobes or lack there of. What you choose to wear, and how you wear it, reflects who you are, more so, it will impact the type of men you attract. This can impact their behaviours and attitudes they have towards YOU, and sex. You have to think about the kind of man you want in your life.  If you choose to dress seductively, you are sending a message implying you are “impure,” and attracting a man who is fine with that. If you choose to dress more modest, you will attract a man who is attracted to who you are as a person.

To be modest, doesn’t have to mean, you cover yourself from head to toe. Although, in some religious beliefs, perhaps this does. Modesty can mean different things, to different people. Someone who is modest, doesn’t solicit them self by how they dress. In order to teach this to young girls, you have to decide what you consider to be modest. This has become more difficult because society’s standards have changed. When I was in school, exposing bra straps were considered embarrassing. Shopping for bras, when I was a young girl, were plain, and considered “no big deal,” as far as style and colour choices are concerned. Today, stores have “sexified” undergarments and have also added thongs and Brazilian cut panties for young girls. Girls, today, purposely show their bra straps, and  thongs, not to mention wearing pantyhose as pants.

So how do we decide what is modest, and what isn’t? How do we change what has already happened? This is a decision up to you, as parents, to set this standard. This is a decision you have to make with your spouse. You can not make a decision and have it be effective, if you include your daughter. Discuss what clothing you find acceptable and NOT acceptable in public. Talk about specific ages to wear heels, and make up. Parents, familiarize yourself with the latest trends, fad’s and slang.  Hidden sexual messages are all over clothes and accessories today, and slang is used everyday. Unfortunately, most of these things slip under the parental radar, not because you don’t care,  because the “meanings” have changed. Communicate with your daughter, your daughter’s friends, and do your research. Simple fact, if you don’t know, chances are, your daughter does, Ask! Most importantly, stay connected with your daughter, this includes telling your daughter how beautiful and proud you are of her. Help them understand why this is important, and teach them along the way, so they can make good decisions on their own.

Women already have a hard time being valued, respected and treated, don’t add more fuel to the fire, by wearing something that gives others the opportunity to devalue who you are. We live in the twenty-first century, its time to stop blaming media for everything, men for “gawking,” and embrace modesty.