Love Yourself

Tunnel Vision

Having spent most of my life in a relationship with myself, I’ve had the opportunity to witness my friends in relationships with significant others. Some of them good, some of them bad, all of them learning experiences.

Unfortunately, many of those friendships I had to sacrifice because my friends lost themselves – they dissolved into the person they were dating and cast their friends aside crutches after a broken leg has healed.

I like to refer to these people as relationship chameleons – people who change who they are and what they like depending on the person they are dating.

I had a friend off and on for years who is [still] notorious for doing this. I have seen her be the fit chick who was into skater brands, tattoos and colored hair. I have seen her be the preppy girl who wears blouses, expensive jeans and heels every day. I have also seen her become a country girl who rocks flannels and boots and lives solely on food caught by her hunter/fisherman boyfriend.

It’s sad to watch, frankly. This poor woman is almost 30 years old and has no freakin’ idea who she is. None of her relationships last for very long, and the minute she’s done with one she’s on the prowl for the next. And while all of this is going on, she’s losing friends because she alienates them to focus all of her energy on becoming the person she thinks her boyfriend would want her to be. Why do you think none of her relationships worked? Because it’s annoying to have somebody glomming onto you all the time who has no life outside of you. Suffocating might be a better description.

One of the biggest dating lessons I’ve learned in my life is from watching relationships like hers: never forget who you are.

When you first start dating somebody, it’s 100% natural [and okay] to spend most of your time with that person. It’s part of the process of getting to know each other, and of course that all-to-familiar honeymoon phase where you can’t stand to be apart for more than a few hours. We’ve all been there – it’s a normal part of relationship development.

However, there is always a point in which you start to re-incorporate your regular life back into the picture. For me, it was getting back together with friends, finding my running stride again and rebuilding my usual routine. In any healthy relationship, you should both have your own social [read: separate] lives apart from each other. It’s also completely okay to have a social life together! My parents are always going out to dinner and going on trips with a bunch of their friends who are couples.

What’s not okay is to have no identity outside of the other person [<– this is why I hate stories like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray – neither of them are normal relationships and yet society has deemed them romantic and ideal]. Don’t ever lose sight of who you are, what you believe in and what you want out of life. Don’t isolate yourself from your friends or your hobbies [and if the person you’re dating puts an immediate kibosh on both – RUN!].

I’ve never had an issue maintaining friendships while in a relationship – that is something that I’ve ALWAYS worked hard to keep. I did, however, forget about the things I love to do in order to carve out more time for my guy – a decision made completely on my own because I thought it would be good for our relationship. It ended up causing me a lot of resentment and depression because I wasn’t giving myself the opportunity to be ME.

If you’re in the right relationship, these things will be a non-issue. The right person will encourage your social life and support you in following your dreams. You will be embraced for who you are and won’t be expected to change. Don’t ever forget that YOU are important – and that it’s extremely difficult [if not impossible] to love somebody else if you aren’t, first and foremost, happy and in love with yourself.

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I am WOMAN: Ten Things I Think Every [Adult] Woman Needs to Incorporate Into Her Life

Let’s define “adult” in this instance. Adult, for the purpose of this post, is a lady who’s got her ish together. Who’s got a steady income, has her head on straight, knows who she is, and goes after what she wants. NOT to be confused with a freshly eighteen-year-old who “thinks” she’s an adult because, legally speaking, she technically is.


In terms of life, I was a bit of a late bloomer. Not hormonally speaking, but I am a bit of an introvert. So as a child, tween/teen, I was shy and not at all a social butterfly. I didn’t start wearing make-up until 8th grade [clear mascara ONLY], I didn’t start wearing my hair down until sophomore year of high school [holla atcha tomboy! ponytails were my THING], didn’t get my hair highlighted until around the same time, and probably didn’t start caring about my clothes until senior-ish year of high school [if that – was probably later, if I’m being totally honest]. It’s safe to say that pampering myself was never high on my list of priorities in my youth [this might explain why I didn’t get my first kiss until I was EIGHTEEN (insert embarrassed emoji here)].

And, until recently, I still never really cared much for shopping or putting myself together. My style is always changing, and I consistently find [and wear the heck out of] the same outfits. It wasn’t until the last year or so that I actually started to enjoy all of the aspects of being a woman. This is probably due to the fact that I acted rather childish up until about a year ago. So, there you go.

About six months ago, I was hanging out with some [older] gal-pal colleagues at a local wine bar [House of Oliver – if you haven’t been here yet, you should! it’s got a fun vibe and it’s quaint, which I love]. They were all talking casually about monthly facials and massages, another was chatting about her recent two week trip to Italy “Just for fun.” I had absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation. Know why? Because I’ve never just INDULGED. I’ve never just booked myself a massage, or decided to take a trip out of the country on a whim. Know why? Because I’d never been able to afford it until now. Well, that’s not entirely true. I probably could have afforded it, but my money was leaping out of my bank account and into other places [read: bar tabs, wine bottles, driving all over kingdom come because FOMO].

Now, I realize it’s only been six months [ish] since I’ve started to delve into the finer things in life, but BELIEVE ME, it doesn’t take long to become adventurous. And so, the ten things I believe us females should be doing on the REG [in no particular order]:

1 – Treat yoself, girl! I’m talking facials, massages, spa days – whatever it is that you need to just take a step back in life. Modern day life can be stressful AF. Even on our days off we are trying to cram a thousand things in that we can’t get done during the week. Whether it’s being a working girl or being a mom, it’s important to take at least an hour or two to yourself to reset and recharge.
2 – Try holistic healthcare. I know, I know, I know. This seems like just a fad people are going through. Like the South Beach Diet that was all the rage just a few years ago. But, in all honesty, there is something to be said for trying to heal your body without using pharmaceuticals. Several months ago, I decided to try acupuncture to see if it could help to minimize my sudden migraines and the unmanageable stress levels I was trying unsuccessfully to suppress. I have been consistent with my visits, and I have honestly never felt better. I know this isn’t a category for everyone, but I highly encourage you to try it just once. The word “holistic” can make you think hippie, earthy, etc. I promise you, not everybody who practices holistic healing is like that.
3 – Splurge on some fancy clothing items. This is one of my favorite things about having a bank account that can support my shopping habits. And truth be told, I hardly ever purchase anything all that expensive [Target is for sure my go-to]. But every once in a while I like to buy myself something nice. And not because I need it, but because it makes me feel GOOD. Whether it be a handbag or workout clothes or a fancy jacket that you’ve had your eye on for months, it’s about knowing that you worked hard enough to earn yourself something special.
4 – Do research on things that you’re passionate about. Our whole entire youth is devoted to studying and learning things that others have chosen to teach us. That isn’t nearly as enjoyable as having a hunger to learn something that you genuinely take interest in. For me, I am constantly reading and experimenting with Bella’s food [she eats raw, for anyone who’s just now jumping in on my blog]. The raw food diet for dogs is constantly evolving – there are always new theories on what to add or take away from their diet. And every single dog is different, just like humans. It’s a fun challenge for me to see what does and doesn’t help Bella’s health [Bella loves it either way because she constantly gets to try new food items].
5 – Get up early! Waaaaaaaitttt.. WTF?? No, guys, I’m serious. Getting up early has way more benefits than you’d think. I get up at 5:45 every weekday to run. Yes, it can be grueling, but once I’m out of bed and the blood is flowing, I feel pretty good. Plus, I feel so much more productive having gotten my workout in before work. That way, if anything comes up after work, I don’t have to stress about not getting a workout in. I don’t even sleep in on the weekends [unless you count 7:30 sleeping in]. I only get two days off a week, and sleeping half the day seems extremely wasteful, in my mind.
6 – Do something that you’ve been secretly wanting to do or try for a long time, but haven’t had the guts [or money] to do it. Yes, ladies. I’m talking botox, boob job, things of that nature. It sounds silly, but I know ALL of you at some point have thought about having bigger [or smaller] breasts, or smoother skin – whatever the case may be! Or, if you still don’t know if you want to try it, it doesn’t hurt [or cost anything] to sit down with a specialist and have a consultation. The true professionals will be 100% honest with you about procedures and whether or not you need one – these ones won’t be after your money. It helps to talk to people who have actually used these doctors and can give you feedback.
7 – Try new things – pick up a new hobby or take a workout class. I don’t know about you guys, but when I was younger, I could never understand how people could afford to keep memberships at so many different gyms and clinics. My eyeballs just about popped out of my head when I started researching all of the local places I could go to work out [the cost to have a workout coach is steep!]. Recently, though, I’m starting to understand that the people that go to The Orange Theory and Pure Barre actually get their money’s worth. They go every day [sometimes multiple times a day]. It’s just about finding your motivation and your niche and what’s right for you.
8 – Prepare a home cooked meal every night. Or as often as you can. This one can be more difficult if you don’t plan ahead. There’s a method to the madness of grocery shopping and meal-prepping on Sundays [now I know why the grocery store is always super crowded on Sunday afternoons]. I love to use Pinterest to find ideas – it is the true cornucopia of recipes. And not all of my recipes turn out great – some of them look nothing like the photos and have hardly any flavor. Others turn out pretty dang good. But the reason I encourage this is because it builds confidence – and not just in the kitchen! [Bonus points: men love it when a gal cooks for them].
9 – Invest in a Roomba. Especially if you have a pet. Seriously, it will change your life. I FINALLY bit the bullet and bought one and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. I love to clean, but sweeping and mopping my floors every single day was back breaking. Literally every night it looked like I hadn’t even cleaned [and even more disgusting: walking into your kitchen in your bare feet right after a shower,] and feeling dirt and grime all over the floor – FOUL].
10 – Get a pet. It is so rewarding. When you’re down, they lift you up. They keep you motivated. They [hopefully] make you a cleaner, more organized person. I mean, let’s face it, pets are messy. Whether it be a dog tracking dirt in the house, a bird spraying birdseed everywhere, or cats shedding all over the place – it can be downright exhausting! But it’s worth every second of their uncleanliness to have their company. Just make sure you do your research and know how much work it actually is before you commit.

If you guys have anything you think should be added to the list [or removed], let me know! I love feedback, and those are just ten biased things from my own personal life and experience – obviously not everybody feels the same and/or has the same experiences.

BUT, at the end of the day, and what I always try and leave you with – DO YOU. Make time for yourself. YOU ARE IMPORTANT, and it’s important to take care of yourself. Don’t let the stresses of work and daily reality keep you from enjoying the finer [and also the little] things in life.

Silence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

When I was younger, I would purposely get in my car and drive around aimlessly for an hour or two just to listen to my favorite songs loud and on full blast. For some reason it calmed me, soothed me, lifted my spirits.

In college, my study habits thrived on the white noise that came from people surrounding me – I constantly found myself at local coffee shops or the noisy, social floor in the campus library.

In those days, the silence was deafening.

But back then I was late teens/early twenties, and I had just discovered my outgoing side – at that point, all I was concerned about was socializing [this may have been around the time that the acronym “FOMO” was born].

These days, I relish the quiet moments. In fact, I thrive on them.

Oh, sure, I still love listening to music in my car. It honestly feels odd just to drive around without tunes on. [Is it just me, or is there something totally creepy about being able to hear all of the sounds your car makes while it’s running?] Listening to music while I drive is still soothing.

But my work life and my home life – those are two places that the quiet is euphoric. Although, if I’m being totally honest, the office isn’t quiet AT ALL. While we don’t often have visitors or clients dropping by, there is always the usual hum of phones ringing, people talking, fingers tapping on keyboards, printers madly spewing papers at hyperspeed. You get the idea.

Okay.. So HOME. Home. Home SWEET home. That is my PLACE. That is where I am able to achieve complete and total silence. [At least for several hours before my boyfriend gets home from work.]

I love my boyfriend. SO much. I really do, but he does not know what quiet is. Sometimes I just sort of wonder if he is kind of afraid of silence.

I know we all like to listen to music while we get ready. I usually don’t when I’m getting ready for work in the morning [because, again, I love the quiet]. But at night when I’m getting glammed up to go out, I’ll throw on some tunes to get me hyped up. My boyfriend will listen to music on FULL BLAST. From the moment he wakes up to the moment he grabs his backpack and walks out the door. Luckily, it’s rare that he’s up when I am in the morning. But even so, I try to enjoy every moment of the solitude I have when I’m awake by myself every morning.

The evenings, when I get home from work, are my FAV. I LOVE evenings. I always have several hours to myself before he gets home. 4-5 hours to do whatever I want at the volume I want [which, obviously, is usually low to zero]. This is the time I like to clean the house, work on crafts, get organized – whatever! And I like to do it without any noise. Even tonight, for example. I’ve been sitting on the couch for FIVE HOURS just relaxing in complete silence. Bella is lying next to me, there’s a fire in the fireplace, and I’ve just been enjoying a glass of wine and surfing the internet [that’s, like, such an old school phrase.. “surfing the ‘net” LOL].

It’s funny how our tastes change throughout life. How in ten years I’ve done almost a complete 180 from the younger girl I used to be.

I guess the point of this post is to remind you to do things for YOU. Remember who you are and don’t lose sight of the simple things in your life that make you happy. I think most days we don’t even realize how much it can affect us if we aren’t able to do things that bring us peace. I know that for myself, having those few hours of quiet downtime at night are NECESSARY to my happiness and my well being. On the nights where my boyfriend isn’t working, I get stressed and snippy if I don’t carve out some alone time for myself.

Figure out what the little things are that bring you joy and make sure you do them!

Happy Hearts

Whoever decided to plop Valentine’s Day on the calendar only a month-and-a-half into the new year should be shot. And not by Cupid.

Okay, okay. Maybe not that drastic. But how cruel is it, though? I mean, most of us look at the new year as a clean slate. A chance to make some changes. The opportunity to turn a corner. We’re all delirious from the high that only the promise of a new year can bring.. And then *BAM!* a horrendously rude reminder that, even though you’re sticking to your resolutions and feeling really good about yourself, you are still, in fact, single as fuck.

Oh, and since it’s National Single Awareness Day and you’re now undoubtedly lonely and depressed, here’s several pounds of chocolate candy [in the shape of a heart, of course] to stuff your face with while you wallow in self pity and throw yourself completely off course from your newly implemented new years diet.

Saint Valentine.. More like Cynic Valentine.

I haven’t always hated Valentine’s Day. In fact, as a child, I loved it. I looked forward to decorating my little mailbox into which all the valentines from my fellow classmates would go. I always got so excited to pick out valentines cards at the store – usually it was some Disney princess of some sort. And then going through your mailbox after passing around cards and getting to eat candy and seeing what everybody else picked out for their Valentine’s Day cards – I loved it! It was actually fun. And fair. Everybody passed out Valentines. And everybody received them. Nobody ever felt left out.

And then junior high happened. And Valentine’s Day became a popularity contest. If you didn’t get flowers and candy then you were basically a troll. And that’s about the time that I decided Valentine’s Day was a shitty made-up holiday that was for saps and weaklings.

And since then I’ve really never cared much for the holiday. Even the years that I’ve had boyfriends I’ve adamantly refused to acknowledge the day nor celebrate it in any way.

BUT, despite aaallllllll of the years I’ve devoted to hating Valentine’s Day, I’ve realized in my advancing age [ha!] that being negative is downright exhausting. So instead of expelling useless energy on despising the holiday, this year I’ve decided to embrace it as a day that means recognizing ALL of the people we love, not just the ones we’re spending forever with [or, for some of us, for now].

And, really, we shouldn’t need a designated holiday to remind us to tell those close to us how much we love and cherish them. We should tell them every day. We should do little things throughout the year to show them we care.

See? Even the blackest of hearts can get warm and fuzzy sometimes..

Exposed

For most of my life I’ve been shy. It’s no secret – anybody who knew me growing up definitely knew this about me. Being the center of attention has never been at the top of my list of favorite things. Especially around people I don’t know or when it comes to public speaking.

The last year or two I’ve definitely grown as an individual. It’s pretty amazing how life experiences can make you a different person [if you let them – and you should].

Often times we make the same mistakes over and over again. We never learn from them or allow ourselves to learn from them. And we sit around and wonder why we do these things to ourselves. Why the self destruction?

Let’s be honest for a minute here. Isn’t it really because deep down some of us love the drama? Is it because we’re afraid that if we find a sense of normalcy that life will just be plain boring?

My adult life [let’s assume 18 is “adult” in this situation] has been a series of bad boyfriends intermixed with spells of singledom and wildness. And for what? What has it brought me? What has it helped me to accomplish?

A lot, actually. And maybe not right away – in fact, it’s taken me ten years to really realize my self-worth. But it’s the experiences I’ve had that have brought me to this point today.

Two weeks ago I went on a date with a new guy. A guy from the internet, yes. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit it because this is the way we are now. First world dating, that is.

Anyway, we spent five hours in sweat pants eating sandwiches and talking. Hands down one of the best dates I’ve been on so far [not that I’ve been on too many, mind you, but regardless]. Over the course of the five hours, one of the things he asked me that really resonated in my mind was, “What are your biggest fears?” Having spent ten years with boyfriends who preferred partying, drinking and drugs to, you know, speaking, I wasn’t accustomed to having an actual real conversation with a guy. Or, really, having somebody take an interest in anything except for my physical appearance, like, oh – I don’t know – my BRAIN.

Let me tell you – it was seriously refreshing.

And attractive. Really attractive.

And at first I didn’t know how to answer the question.

What are my biggest fears? Immediately, I thought, “death.” But with my grandmother passing away earlier this year, I realized that it was no longer a fear of mine. Having a loved one pass on made me strangely at peace with the idea of someday inevitably losing my own life as well.

So what else, then? I hate the actual feeling of fear. I don’t like to be scared. Scary movies, haunted houses, creepy situations – those are things that are “fears.” But they aren’t life altering. They aren’t things that linger in the back of my mind every day and keep me from living my life.

It took me two weeks, and today it finally dawned on me.

I fear feelings. I fear letting my guard down. I fear letting my walls down. I fear letting somebody into my heart because he might have the potential to really hurt me. I fear emotional pain.

I’m generally a pretty hard-hearted individual. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. I hate crying. When it comes to dating, if I’m not into you, you’ll know it. I’m not going to waste my time. I’m not going to reveal too much of myself because I don’t see the point and I don’t like you enough to give you more than my surface. Some people may see that as a game. But it’s not a game – I’m not playing hard to get – I just don’t like you.

But, in the extremely rare circumstance that I actually do like somebody, I’m all in. I love hard. Because if you’re going to expose somebody to all of your inner workings and the things that make you tick, you might as well give them your all, right? What’s the point of holding back? What do you have to lose? This could be why I’ve only had a few boyfriends in my day. I don’t ever trust my heart enough to let a man in.

YES – sometimes we get hurt by the people we care about. I’ve been hurt by many guys I’ve dated as well as girl friends, and vice-versa of course. But I can’t let the fear of feeling that pain again keep me from potentially wonderful experiences. Because it won’t kill me. Yes, it’s cliche – but it won’t kill me, it will make me stronger.

I constantly have to remind myself not to let past relationships set the precedent for future ones. The beauty of this planet is that no two people are the same. And while I often times forget this, it is ever evident as I am exposed to more and more new people every single day.

I will leave you with this – don’t let your fears stand in your way. Because at the end of the day that’s all they are: fears. A single word. An idea. A mental block. They aren’t tangible. You can’t hold them. They aren’t a physical wall stopping you from living your life [although sometimes that would be easier because we could just take a mallet to it and knock it down]. Only you are keeping yourself from living your life to the fullest. It’s taken me a long time to realize this and to even begin to start to understand this about myself, but I’m learning. Every single day.

#choosemust

I’ve always known I was an artist.

From the moment I learned that I could hold a waxy colored object in my hand and touch it to another object to produce a line, I was completely hooked.

Even before I was born, my parents read to me while I was in the womb.

I guess, in a sense, you could say that I was destined to be a creator.

It truly blows my mind that we can plop letters down next each other to create words, and that we can use those words in an infinite amount of ways to develop stories, poems, thoughts, dreams – I mean, the list goes on and on.

My sister recently got a job in San Francisco working as an Assistant Merchandiser for Dockers under Levis Strauss Co. Her first day on the job, the company had a full day set up with motivational speakers and meetings with other corporate clients. At the end of the day, the company asked the team to pick their favorite part of the day – unanimously, everybody picked a speaker by the name of Elle Luna.

My sister couldn’t stop raving about her.

“She’s only thirty-something. She’s an artist, she works for start-ups. She’s amazing.”

Everyone in the company received a copy of Miss Luna’s book, which was fortunate for me, as I am always so intrigued by people who give motivational speeches and what, exactly, makes them tick.

Needless to say, I devoured her book.

Truly, honestly, if you never ever pick up another book in your entire life, I encourage you to read this one.

I would force you, but that would prove slightly difficult.

It’s called “The Crossroads of Should and Must – Find and Follow Your Passion.”

Seriously. Read the fucking book.

Not for anything, but it makes you feel less alone in the world.

We are all afraid to take chances in life. We are all afraid to follow our dreams. We are not alone in the daily fears that haunt us and keep us from taking that leap of faith.

More and more in my life I am discovering who I am as a person and why I was put on this earth. And I love myself more and more because of it every day.

I’ve always wanted to help people and encourage people. I love to see my friends and family do well. I do experience jealousy, but not hateful jealousy. An envious jealousy that lights a hope in me that someday I will have what they have. And something I am learning is that dreams don’t just fall into your lap. You have to push yourself to make them happen. And they will happen. They will.

The thing I love most about the book is the message that the author continually stresses to the reader – it is never, NEVER too late to follow your dreams and to find out who you are. And it’s okay to need to work a job that perhaps you don’t love, as long as you do pursue your passions. As long as you make time for yourself and the things that you love.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi

Google Maps – Find Destination: Me.

When I left for college at the age of 18, I thought for sure I was on the straight and narrow path to success, my future, and most importantly, finding myself.

The best laid plans..

I think, for the most part, almost everyone can relate to the strange vortex that we get lost in when we are searching for something but we aren’t sure what it is and we obviously have no clue how to obtain it.

How do you find something when you don’t have any idea as to what it is?

I guess, my friends, that is what life is about. Discovering things about yourself that you love; discovering things about yourself that you hate; finding passions and opinions, paving your way through this crazy world we have been given the gift to live in.

For me, my biggest struggle in the last ten years has been learning to be okay with the fact that not everybody is built to follow the rules of society. Sure, college is a wonderful experience, and, these days, it’s very difficult to get a decent job without a degree on your resume. However, what society tells us, that we must go straight from high school to four or five years of college and then immediately into a career, cannot be achieved by every single person on the planet. I have been in-and-out of four colleges since I graduated high school in 2005. FOUR. Most people are lucky to even get into one. And it was after this last attempt to sit in a painstakingly boring classroom and work my ass off for a grade so I could someday make a chunk of money that I realized I was already doing what people go to school for. I already had a full-time job with opportunity for advancement. I was already in a position that many college-educated people could and would be applying for after four years of putting themselves in debt.

I’m not saying that going to college is the wrong path. On the contrary, I love to learn and I am one-hundred-percent on board with education. However, that said, sometimes it’s okay to take some time off after high school and travel, or work, or do whatever it is that you think will make you happy.

It took me ten years to realize that I hate sitting in a classroom, and I love getting up and going to work every day. And getting PAID. Insert huge grinning smiley face emoji here.

What I’m saying, boys and girls, is that it’s okay to put everyone else’s plans on hold so that you can take the time to discover what makes you “tick.” It may have taken me until the year of my ten year high school reunion to learn all of these things about myself, but I know I will be spending every single day for the rest of my life finding out more new and exciting things about who I am. And I cannot wait.

So, GO, my fellow comrades. The world is your oyster!