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!

I Can Do It

While I watch my 3 year old get ready for preschool, I’m watching her struggle putting on her boots. I offer to help her, when she interrupts me saying “no mommy, I can do it myself.” As I grit my teeth, anxiously waiting for her to get it right, I realize this is typical behaviour for any preschooler. Preschoolers are learning how to do so many new tasks, and as a parent I often forget that we should let them figure it out. As I watch my daughter figuring out how to do most tasks, and insisting on doing it herself, all of this has me thinking. I’ve come to the realization that I rely on doing so many tasks independently. All most, too independently.

For years, I have been overly independent. Dating back to when I was in my late teens, I made it a priority to move out on my own without help. I would work two jobs to make sure I was able to pay rent comfortably, and figuring out my post secondary school courses. When I was 19 years old, I spontaneously responded to a job ad in a local newspaper, to apply as an AuPair in the United States. Within a few months I was on a flight to New Jersey to move in with a family I had only met over the phone, coordinated by an organization I had only read about through a newspaper ad, ready to take on this year long adventure. When my time in New jersey was finished, I moved back home temporarily before moving again, working a few more jobs and relocating out of city to settle down and attend college.

It wasn’t until I was watching my daughter learn new tasks or go about her daily routine before I started realizing that not only does she have some very similar character traits as I do, it really had me thinking about myself, and why did I move around alot? Why was I so persistent to do things by myself? Why would I turn down help when circumstances would be so tough for me to manage by myself? Was it because I was too proud? Or was it because I didn’t want to burden a friend or loved one?

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels.com

To ask for help felt too gut wrenching. I had a hard time finding the courage or finding comfort asking. I remember when I was in college and my college money was delayed and I couldn’t pay my rent on time. Even under these circumstances I reached out to no one. I found myself skipping 3 days of college classes to work enough hours to cover my rent. When I had a college roommate who decided to move out while I wasn’t home and wrote me a faulty cheque for his last months rent, I reached out for no one. Whether it was money, help moving, or balancing various work and home life responsibilities, I find myself in various circumstances where I would tackle these tasks, and run myself so thin that I begin to feel like I’m a 10 year old laptop riddled with viruses trying to run windows. For some reason, I still find enough bandwidth to push through, no matter what it took to get there. Why was I doing this to myself? Why would I endure all of this pressure? It goes beyond a sense of pride. It was a way to hide that I was different from others. A way to hide that I carry a past.

What I was really doing was running myself too thin. I would refuse help, but internally stress myself out for taking on too much. I remember sitting down with an old therapist, when it was discussed that I suffered from Hyper-Independence. I know what you must be thinking, “is this a real thing?” It is. Hyper-Indepence is a real condition. It is a condition that develops when someone has experienced a form of severe trauma or chronic illness. For years, I have created this false notion that I had to prove I was capable, and to prove my value and self worth through all that I was capable of doing independently, instead of who I am as a person. This would caused me so much harm, than it was good for me. I would over do myself on many tasks, I refused to ask for help when times felt impossible, and when I would find the courage to ask for help, I would feel even worse about it. I would begin to feel worthless.

The road to recovery is slow, but constantly moving. My self worth is not measured by the amount of tasks I take on alone. I am learning to not fall into the mind trap that when I do eventually ask for help, it may not be accomplished in the same manner I have set out in my head, but rather it was done differently, and that’s ok! I was reminded to give others the opportunity to help me. I don’t have to do everything myself, and that it’s ok to rest. To be strong goes beyond how much you do. If you ask for help it doesn’t mean that you’re weak. In fact, this is far from the truth. Recognizing when I need help shows incredible strength. Strength and courage to ask. I would be lying if I said I followed these suggestions perfectly. What I can say, is that each day is a new day. The more I practise, and allow myself to accept help, with time I will be able to find a healthy balance of independence.

For anyone who is struggling whether its with Hyper-Independence, or various forms of anxiety, remember that you aren’t alone. Find someone you trust. Someone that you can lean on to ask for help. Let them know how they can help. Remind yourself that this journey is slow. It will take time for your trust, strength and courage to come. Give yourself patience. Once you get there, you will find that this will be the most mentally and emotional thing you have done.

My wish for you

Before you were born I always dreamt of what you would be like, who you would become and how your life would be once you were here. Now that you are here,  I find myself wishing for so many things for you. Things that I never knew I would ever have to wish for. zoey sleeping

I wish that when you start going to school, you not only make a lot of friends but you are respected and treated fairly.  I wish that you don’t have to worry about your classmates bullying you over the internet, at school, on the playground or on your way home from school. I wish that schools enforced a more strict  “no policy” against bullying. I wish that if you see someone being bullied you feel safe helping them.

I wish that when you decide to date, whether male or female you are treated with the utmost respect from your partner and the community around you.  I wish that one day, everyone will be treated as equal, and you can freely express romantically that you have found the love of your life without being criticized by the choices you have made.

I wish that one day when you decide to explore the world around you, and travel abroad, you can do it safely without feeling scared. I wish that as you explore this world we live in, you always feel safe. I wish one day when you attend concerts, sporting events or any kind of entertainment you are always safe having fun.

I wish that as you enter into the work force, one day, you are treated equally and you are respected and supported by your achievements. I wish that as you strive to be the best that you can be, you are treated fairly, and you work hard reaching for the top.

I wish one day we all got along. That no matter what race, or ethnic background you are, we all got along.  No matter our physical, or religious differences we treat each other with respect and love, and ultimately how we want to be treated, because at the end of the day, we are all the same. We are all human beings. We all have feelings, and we all come from a place that deserves happiness and love. I wish that if someone you are acquainted with is treated unfairly or disrespected, you also feel safe helping them.

I wish that weapons become a thing of the past. I wish that where ever you are living or travelling too, you are always feeling safe. I wish that when you visit new places, or attend outings with your friends, you don’t have to worry about feeling safe. I wish that proper security measures are in place where weapons are seized and the government has placed a more strict weapon control in our community.  family

My ultimate wish for you, as you grow up and become the best young lady you can be, is that you stay true to your self. No matter the difficulties life and adulthood hands you, you over come it with grace, love and respect and that you are always happy. You stay true to yourself and you don’t let anyone try to change that. As you get older and times become challenging, as they often do, you know you are so well-loved, and you remind your self each day that you are. Just know that some people don’t come from the same place of love, but if we always treat everyone with happiness and love, you are doing your part. One day I hope my wishes for you come true, but if not, maybe one day you will make some of these wishes come true for yourself and for those important around you.

With so much love,

Mom & Dad

What I don’t say often

Being a mom comes with a whirlwind of emotions, challenges, and a new definition of who are and who you’ve become. You are no longer thinking about your self and your husband, you are constantly thinking about your child. From

the moment your baby is cradled in your arms, your life instantly changes. You naturally adjust the time you once had all to yourself or with your husband, you are now spent caring for and loving the child you both have created. As we go through the motions of waking up several times a night, and operating on far too little of sleep, and finding yourself eating cold dinners, and skipping lunch or eating stale granola bars you find at the bottom of your purse, you still manage to love your child unconditionally and that love you have for your child is so profound. You adapt, and make the best of these moments. You turn these moments into memories. These memories that we will look back one day and congratulate ourselves for making it past what we thought were the best, the worst, and the hardest times of our life.

As we continue to grow and love as a family, our marriage changes. All the attention we found ourselves giving to one another shifts and makes room for our children or in my case our baby girl. We put ourself in the backseat while our daughter rides shotgun. Our attention shifts to her and her needs, and it’s no longer all about us. Our date nights, happy hour and our weekends spent binge watching Netflix have been replaced with copious amounts of laundry, nailing down naps during the day, bedtime routines and mom and tot groups. The place where the topic of our conversations is about our daughters bodily fluids, or the new skill she has learned.

So even though our marriage has changed, ultimately it has changed for the better in many ways. And we are ok with that. We’re good with where we are. We want to be **here**. But being **here** takes a different kind of “being married” than being **there** — without a child. There are so many moments where I get so tired and so distracted, we have limited face time. I don’t always remember to say the things I want, to make sure my husband knows how I feel. I am so preoccupied with being a mother that I forget to be his wife.

There are so many things I think the father of my child needs to hear and deserves to hear.

I am beyond thankful for the partnership we have together in this life that we share together. I love having you alongside me as we raise our daughter together. I am very certain I don’t always say the words “I appreciate you!”because we have such a small window of real conversation time each day.

My husband is not a mind reader. Although I wish he could, he definitely can’t. Nor does he pickup on my passive aggressive hints I put down. I do know he wants to be a fixer. When there is an issue, he wants to fix it. I have to remind myself that I have to communicate in words when I need help, or a break. When I do that, it becomes easier for him to reciprocate the gesture back, so it becomes a win/win.

Not only do I love you but our daughter also loves you and needs you. The role you play in her life is so great and she will thank you her whole life. She is too young to say it now ,and depending on her mood will she show it, but once she calls you “dadda” which then turns to “daddy” you wait. Your heart will fill up.

There is no doubt that my husband sees a lot of the worst parts of me. I can be the most cranky, the most tired, and that’s what happens when your best friend, you’re life partner is with you and around the most. I often forget to say the simple things like “thank you!” Thank you for picking up my socks, making the bed, getting up to get me a drink, even though I could have done it, to name a few. Thank you for being the best dad to our baby girl. Thank you for being my best friend, my partner in crime, my husband. It’s so easy to treat the people you love, the worst.

Lastly, I think you’re totally “hot!” I definitely don’t tell my husband enough how much I am attracted to him. That he’s stunning in so many ways. I have to remember that I was his wife first, and then we became parents. Without being his wife first, I wouldn’t have been a mom. The mother of our beautiful baby girl. I feel like he needs to know that he still knocks my socks off.

However you choose to tell your husband you love him, remember to to acknowledge him both as his wife and as the mother of his child. It’s very hard to forget through the tiredness but it will make him feel good.

To my dearest husband, my best friend, I’m completely crazy about you, I love you, and I think you’re hot!

8 Success Tips for Marriage

From dating, to marriage, no one really prepares us for the next stage in our life. We are given advice from family & friends, we refer to books, and online resources, but not all advice applies to our own relationship. If there is one thing that is true, from books, advice, or online, is that  no marriage is easy or  perfect,  but that’s what makes it real.

Along the way, we figure it out, and sometimes make mistakes. Some mistakes can affect our marriage.  I want to discuss some important points to make your marriage better.

1. Be Patient

Photo by David Castillo Dominici-Image ID: 100122416

Photo by David Castillo Dominici -Image ID: 100122416

It is so important to be patient with your spouse. This doesn’t come easy, and some will say, “I am patient.” My question to you is, are you always? Men and women, react, reflect, interpret and communicate differently. While most women find it easy to express how they feel, happy, sad or angry, for men, this isn’t always easy. Let’s take a look at chores. We all have them, they need to be done, and we expect our husband or partner to help. Women, you ask your husband or partner to “tidy” the living room.  You have given the task, while you clean another room. You and your husband or partner are finished, and you come to find a stack of papers, or books left on the coffee table,  and blankets piled at the end of the couch.  At this point, you ask “why didn’t you tidy the living room?”  The response from your husband  or partner , “it is tidy?” When communicating, understand that your husband or partner’s interpretation might be different. Even though the room doesn’t look “tidy” to you, it looks tidy to him.

2. Communicate

Photo by photostock- Image ID: 10034198

Photo by photostock- ImageID: 10034198

It’s important to be clear when communicating with your spouse. It’s true what they say, men are not mind readers. Men and women process information differently. If you say you are “fine,” or “you should know why I’m mad”  this is very insensitive and unfair to your husband. Men are not “wired” the same as women. Men don’t always know when they have hurt your feelings.  Communicate with your husband or partner on how you feel.

I’m still learning to do this, but when you have mastered this, it will make a positive difference.

3. Respect your partner

One of the most important things a man needs is, respect and to be respected. He desires it most from his wife or partner. The saying, “you have to earn respect to gain respect,” is true, but you have to remember he is human. We all make mistakes, and no one is perfect. To lead a healthy and happy family, both partners need to be respected, even if you feel your husband or partner didn’t deserve it.  If you continue to respect your husband or partner, it will help motivate him to earn it. This doesn’t mean you ignore his bad decisions, pretend they don’t exist, these will still need to be communicated. It means, you need to discuss your differences with respect.

4.  Forgiveness

Photo by stockimages -Image ID: 100108461

Photo by stockimages -Image ID: 100108461

At some point in our lives, we all make mistakes. There comes a point in our life where we need to choose to make forgiveness a life long habit. This includes big ones, small ones, or even annoyances – ( most mornings I have to forgive my husband for leaving breakfast crumbs on the counter or the window open in the bathroom during the winter). No one says forgiveness is easy, but the more you forgive, the less room there is for resentment.

5. Date Night

Photo by nuttakit-  Image ID: 10036113

Photo by Nuttakit- ImageID: 10036113

This one has been around a long time, and there are so many articles supporting scheduled date nights. This is something my husband and I make a habit of doing each week.  You can never stop dating your spouse.  It’s a funny thought, “we are married, we are done dating,” but its true. You need to set time aside for just you and your spouse, and talk about each other. Don’t talk about your kids, bills or work. Just each other. Scheduled date nights, don’t have to be costly. Some inexpensive ideas:

  • Take a walk
  • Eat in, but catch a movie out
  • Go to a cafe
  • Movie in, with popcorn or your favourite snack( Plan a babysitter, play date ) Or wait until your kids are asleep.
  • Cook together, eat together

Spending one-on-one time allows you to connect emotionally and  learn something new about each other.

6. Never threaten

Sometimes we find ourselves in an angry spot. Never threaten, unless you mean it, and you plan to follow through. Sometimes couples will often threat separation or divorce when they are angry. This tactic is cruel and unfair to your spouse. Threatening is a TEMPORARY way out, that can lead to more harm than good. There are other ways to get past this method.

  • Take a breather
  • Communication Talk when ready, and calm.
  • Seek advice from an outside, reputable source if communication doesn’t work.
7. Don’t criticize

Criticizing your spouse is hurtful and embarrassing, even if it’s done with friends. Making this a habit will damage the respect you have with each other, and makes it uncomfortable for others around you.

8. Love

Photo by Sharron Goodyear- Image ID: 1003633

Photo by Sharron Goodyear- Image ID: 1003633

No one said marriage is  easy. What we see on television, or read about in books, is not always true. Marriage takes work, and commitment. There might be times you might question the love you have for each other, or the attraction you have towards your spouse, but always choose to love each other. The day you walked down the aisle and read your  vows are so sacred. You made a commitment to each other. To have , and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. They don’t say “to have to hold anyone you please” or “in good times only.”  They say to have, AND to hold, implying, holding each other. In sickness AND in health. Good times AND in bad times. There will be bad times, along the way. Remember to love in the good parts AND in the bad. Good times, will always out way the bad times!