Little Bits of Love this February

I’ve been a big fan of Louise Hay for many years now. Last year, I discovered her page-a-day calendar and loved it. So guess what everyone got for Christmas this year? Yup. The new 2016 version of the tear-off calendar. I love getting a new affirmation every day. She even has an extra page to begin each month. Here is what she has to say for February:

Love is the nourishment that we humans need to fulfill our greatness. As I learn to love myself more, I learn to love everyone more. Together we tenderly cultivate an even more beautiful world.

I am in the process of changing some pretty deep-rooted beliefs (but that’s another post or two….). So I was inspired by this affirmation to focus a little love on myself each day this month. I thought I would post one thing each day that I love about myself, be it part of my physical appearance, a character trait, whatever! It feels a little conceited, I have to admit. But then, that’s something else I’m trying to change: my perspective on myself. It’s okay to proud of who I am. It’s okay to be happy with who I am. It’s okay to celebrate who I am!! So here goes….

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Black & White

I love black and white. I love to wear it. I love to decorate with it. I love the simplicity and the contrast of it.

I also love to live in it. I love to have things simplified and see them in their opposites. The problem is, we live in a world that is made up of infinite shades of every color of the rainbow. Life simple is not black and white.

I particularly need to stop seeing the concept of success vs. failure in terms of black and white. I see this journey in terms of black and white far too often. I’m either doing it … or I’m not. And when I feel I’m not – I see that as failure. And I get extremely critical of myself.

But that simply is not the case. The journey of transformation – emotional and physical – is not about success and failure. To see it in these terms is far too simple. It truly is a journey. I may get off course and fall back into old, bad habits. But most of the time these days, I don’t get so far off course that I end up in the next county. It’s more like a slight meandering along the road. You know, when you get a little distracted and swerve just a bit within your lane. There’s no real danger in that. You simple readjust and get back into the center of the lane and keep moving forward.

The same is true when I feel like I’m having a set-back. Like I felt last week when I was at the doctor’s office. Getting on the scale hit me hard. And I got pretty emotional about it. I wondered, why does it feel like I keep banging my head against the wall? Why am I still having to work so hard at this?!

Once again, I was WAY too hard on myself. And the cool thing is that I actually came out of that hole pretty quickly. I didn’t go so very far off course. And I do have the tools I need to get back into the center of that lane. It was by no means a failure.

Sometimes success feels sooooooo good. When I was losing weight last year and fitting into smaller clothes, I admit, it felt absolutely amazing! And now that I’ve had to go back up a size in my jeans, it feels … far less amazing. But what I was not appreciating is that it’s only one size! After I’d gone down two or three! I wasn’t back to where I’d started. It was just a swerve off course.

And sometimes I think that if we move too quickly from A to B, we simply can’t sustain it. We aren’t quite ready for it yet. We haven’t learned enough along that short journey.

I even had a fortune cookie giving me this message! No joke! I couldn’t believe it when I read the little slip of paper:

2015-10-06 22.26.21

It was as if the Universe was knocking me over the head with this idea, compelling me to believe it. I do not have to measure myself in terms of success and failure!!!

Time to let go of black and white. Except maybe in my wardrobe 🙂

Don’t Take It Personally

Back in what feels like a previous lifetime, I was a graduate student struggling to get my PhD. I always felt like I was hanging on by my fingernails. Every step of the process seemed so hard. I’m still somewhat mortified to recall the number of times I burst into tears when meeting with professors. (I’ve never been very good at taking criticism. Sounds like the topic for another post….) The thing that kept me going was that I loved teaching.

But then something changed. I met someone. In the blink of an eye, my life changed. Suddenly the entire focus of my life was no longer graduate school. I was giddy in love! (I’m happy to say I’ve been married to that same man for over seven years now!)

What changed for me professionally, though, was that I no longer took everything so personally. Because I had another focus in my life (a very positive, joyful one at that!), I wasn’t so deeply vested in my work. I still worked hard, and I did finish my degree. But the entire process shifted. When I stopped taking the critique so personally, I was not only happier, but I was much more able to actually hear the critique and make positive changes in my work. Would you believe I actually had to throw out two entire chapters of my dissertation?! All 80 pages! Months and months of work! But when I met with my advisor, and he told me that I should scrap the chapters and restructure the dissertation, I actually laughed! For one thing, I knew he was right. And as much as I wish I hadn’t had to go through all that work only to chuck it, my work was an awful lot stronger because of it.

I think there is a lesson to be learned here. I take what I consider to be my failures so very personally. I am so hard on myself.

It’s time to start taking this journey lighter. Yes, there are some dark days. Yes, there is some serious – and wonderful – emotional healing that I have done and continue to do. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be lighthearted. I can laugh! I can even laugh at myself. I can laugh at myself when I go a little off track. I can laugh at myself when I catch myself being judgmental. I can smile at myself when I see myself in the mirror. I can smile at the food I am about to enjoy. I can smile while I’m enjoying my workout.

In other words, I get to choose. How am I going to feel in this moment? Am I going to be overly critical? Am I going to give up?

Or am I going to laugh it off? Am I going to take a deep breath and begin again? Am I going to go easy on myself?

Yes. It’s time to go easy on myself. And stop taking it all so personally!

“Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting over lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

(This quote is accredited to the German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He kind of said it … but kind of didn’t. It’s still a powerful quote, though! For more info on the source, see this article from the Goethe Society of North America.)

Begin it Now