Unedited

Just be. Be present in the moment. Enjoy your joy without reservations.

Smile for the camera. Display your unedited self. Love it.

Your wild hair is gorgeous. Your freckles are galaxies on your body. Your crooked smile is adorable. Everyone has rolls at one point. Cellulite is normal. Stretch marks are badges. Your curves are appreciated by someone. Bad hair days are common. You are not measured by the size of your waist.

Post that no makeup, unfiltered, untouched, unedited selfie. Rock it. Own it. Love it. Who cares what anyone else says?

I’ll go first.

Wandering eye. Crooked smile. Breakout. Bad hair day. Imperfect skin. In need of new glasses. Unusual nose. Eyebrows not plucked or waxed.

Also.

Big toothy smile. Happy face. Moisturized. Natural. Feeling loved. Bright crescent moon eyes. Good mood. Feeling good in my skin. Real.

Not everyone will appreciate it. That’s ok. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but my husband says I’m his Tennessee whiskey. Not everyone will appreciate my looks, my body, or my personality. That’s fine.

This is me. Unedited.

I spent too many years of my life trying to please people. So have you. Let it go. Shine without reservations. Your own mind can be a toxic place where self love doesn’t grow.

Don’t over think it. Do what makes you happy. Take care of yourself. Enjoy your life. Live that moment. Be gloriously and riotously you. Be happy. Unedited.

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Now is Not Your Forever

While reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green, I read a quote that says, “Now is not your forever.” I had to stop and just be in that for a moment.

I’ve been so concerned lately with bills and problems and drama and just life that I haven’t thought about how temporary all of that really is. These are issues that may not matter in the least in 5 or 10 years. And yet, here I am sighing and stressing over things that I shouldn’t be and looking for answers where there probably are none.

This nonsense that is keeping me up at night is not permanent.

These moments that seem to hurt so bad will hurt less in the coming time.

This worry that I carry will not help any of these situations.

This now is not my forever.

Thanks, John, for this reminder.

Self Love

I’ve been thinking a good bit lately about how we view our bodies and ourselves. It’s almost never positive. If I asked a random woman on the street what she liked about herself, and then what she disliked about herself, I bet we can already guess what list would be longer.

Society has created visions of what the perfect woman should look like and shoved it into our heads and made us believe there is no other way. We have made these irrational views the social norm.

Because of these insane views, I have disliked myself and my looks for years.

Everything from my weight to my feet, I could give you a list a mile long of things I don’t care for about myself. I see this in other women. They are scared of gaining weight, getting older, and doing everything in their power to stop both of those things. Everything from starving to doing extreme things to their bodies.

Instagram has a community of women who are about body positivity. This is body positivity at any size, any shape, any form, and any fashion. Women who wear a lot of makeup, women who go barefaced. They encourage body love and self love, but also receive a lot of hate. When I read comments on positive photos of themselves, there are people who say that they are fat, unhealthy, and ask them how they can even show their face on the internet.

What does this tell you about our society? A woman can post a photo of herself online and show a little positivity only to be told that she’s wrong. Why can’t a woman have fat and be beautiful? Why is it so hard to be positive or move along rather than be hateful and cause someone to feel worse about themselves?

If there is one thing I know for sure about being overweight and unhealthy is that it only gets worse until you love yourself enough to do something about it. We need to instill in our children a love of self and, at the bare minimum, a respect for their bodies. Just because you are shaped differently than someone on TV, does not mean there is anything wrong with you.

It’s up to us to break this norm.

I am obese and have been most of my life. I’ve found that in my low times, I turn to food as a comfort because in those moments, I dislike myself and my body. During those moments, I don’t care that what I am putting in my body is not good for it.

I’ve been transitioning over the past year. I’m coming to terms with my body and learning to like, if not love, the skin I’m in.

I’ve started doing yoga and eating more veggies. I am in no way vegetarian, but I’ve been eating meat only once a day, most days. I pay more attention to my body and the way it moves and the way it feels. I am more mindful of my body.

My feet are wide but are a good foundation for balance in yoga. My legs are steady, hold my body, and move me from place to place. My hips are shifty and offer better mobility. My back has it’s issues but has carried me for 31 years. My chest and ribs protect my heart that sends blood throughout my body and carries oxygen and water and nutrients to every part of me.

Sometimes, loving ourselves is hard and could use a little help. Getting to imagine yourself from another’s point of view can really help your view of yourself. A family member, friend, or significant other can really open your eyes to yourself.

I asked my husband to make some notes on what he liked and admired about me. The majority of what he wrote was about my mentality. For someone who is not wordy, I was impressed. A lot of it was flattery, but he did very well with his assignment.

He said he appreciated that I’m strong and that I really put myself into whatever I’m doing whether it be cooking, planting flowers, or putting up with him. His words, not mine.

He said that he admires my ability to immerse myself into my writing or reading.

I thought about what I like in myself. I like that I’m compassionate and empathetic. I love my appreciation of nature and living things. Finding things that you like in yourself and recognizing those traits will put you on the right track for self love.

The human body is a miracle and universe unto itself. It all connects and flows to make your body function as a whole. Carl Sagan once said, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” How amazing is it that we are made of the same thing as the stars? When you think of your body in that fashion, it becomes much easier to love.

Before I close, let me tell you something that I am still learning myself. PERFECTION DOES NOT EXIST.

Striving for perfection is like draining the ocean with a straw. No matter how hard you try, you will not reach perfection because it simply does not exist. Just because I love my body doesn’t mean I don’t want to improve it. I want to make it healthier, stronger, and better because I’m learning to love it. So, on the national day of love, I encourage you to love your body, love your heart and mind, and love something about everything about yourself. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yoga 

Sitting with my legs crossed on the floor, Eden reminds us to keep our spines straight. Sitting up tall, mindful of my breath, I know everything will soon be right in my world.

We move to standing. Here in mountain pose, we root our feet, push the crowns of our heads further toward the sky, roll back our shoulders with our arms straight at our sides. Soft, relaxing music is playing in the background as we begin our sun salutation. I can hear everyone’s breathing, the music, and gentle reminders from Eden to do things like square your hips or tuck your elbows closer to your body.

The movement is what my body needs; what it’s been craving. As I fold, shift, release, muscles that haven’t been used for some time find motion and stretch. As we progress through poses and postures, my mind clears and becomes free. The only thing on it is the movement and keeping balance. The world goes away. All that matters in those moments are my body, mind, and fellow yogis.

Eden is our teacher, our instructor, and our inspiration. She can do some pretty amazing things with her body. There have been times over the past few months where she’s told me how to do something and shown me how to do it, and I thought that she was crazy. I knew my body would never do that. I’m overweight, have little flexibility, and minimal strength. However, Eden walks us through. With her faith in us and her guiding instruction, I am able to do what she says I can.

After her proving to me that my body is capable of doing what my mind tells it to, I feel a confidence I haven’t felt in a long time. After being sick and everything else I’ve been through in recent years, I feel like I have some semblance of control over my body.

When I attended class for the first time and did a forward fold, my fingertips did not meet my toes. Now, four months later, on a good day, all fingers touch the floor. My progress makes me smile.

Eden walks us through more poses urging us to lift, tilt, or reach. She praises us, corrects our posture. I try to feel how my body reacts as we switch from pose to pose. I’m not as flexible as my fellow yogis, but I am pretty good with balance.

With a smile, Eden walks us through a cool down. She speaks softly as we prepare for savasana. Becoming limp and relaxed to rest, we lie back with closed eyes and feel how our breath moves through our body. The world is tuned out, and we tune in to ourselves. It amazes me how sometimes this feels better than a full night’s sleep. Like all good things, savasana has to come to an end.

I’ve heard people talk about an exercise buzz or runner’s high. I’d never experienced anything like that until the first time I experienced savasana. It’s a lovely feeling.

I’ve practised yoga in the past on my own. There is a completely different experience to be had with a good teacher and a class that encourages each other. I leave class feeling accomplished and more comfortable with my body.  

5 Things I’d Tell Myself 10 Years Ago

Saturday I turned thirty one. Thirty one is an unremarkable age. It’s not an important one like twenty one or eighteen or sixteen. People look forward to those. It’s not awful either. It’s not like thirty. People seem to think their life is over at thirty. Thirty really didn’t shake me.

At twenty one, I’d just lost my twins. Everything shifted. My life has not been the same.

I was at war with myself over my identity. I was pushing myself to be like other people and not who I wanted to be.

Tony and I made a pact that at twenty one, we’d go to the casino together just to say we’d been. We didn’t go. We discussed it later, but still ten years have passed and we still have not been.

If I could go back and talk to my twenty one year old self knowing what I know now, I would enlighten myself on many things.

  1. Read and write. A lot. Stop wasting your time on things that do not matter. I know it’s hard right now, but writing will heal you. This is what you need to do for you. I know you think you are writing, but it’s not nearly enough.You’ve got better stuff in you. You’re neglecting your reading. Diversify your reading.The library is free and within walking distance. No excuses.
  2. Go see a doctor. You and Tony both have things you need to nip in the bud. Also, I know you work at a fish house, but eat healthier. More veggies. Exercise.
  3. You have several toxic people in your life. Weed them out. You know who they are. Pay close attention to how they treat you. Don’t stand for that. You’ll be better for it.
  4. Think for yourself. Some of the opinions you have right now aren’t your own but those of other people and things that have been drilled into you. Read. It’ll help with the opinions. You owe it to yourself to decide for yourself.
  5. Go back to school. You’ll do this later. It’ll be great, but now is the perfect time. While working nights, your days are free. You’ll appreciate the accomplishment.

I could actually write a detailed book for my past self about traveling from then to now, but I suppose all those things helped me get to where I am now. I have nice, tight group of friends. I do regular yoga classes and am a member of a book club. I am still happily in a marriage that many people said would never last. I have a job I enjoy with people who appreciate me. I am at a place where I’m not wondering who I am supposed to be. I’m pretty happy with my world right now. Thirty one is looking good.