I really wanted to take time to talk about self love and how we perceive ourselves. First off, I am not a 'writer'. Writing a blog is very intimidating to me and it scares me to put words out for people to read and know the thoughts that go through my head and my experiences . We all have strengths and weaknesses and areas of insecurity, and while I can edit and tell you what to write, when it comes to doing it for myself I struggle. So here goes another blogging attempt by me! ;-)
I have been talking to several women about my upcoming retreat this summer Stripping the Layers. And the reactions I am getting from people range from "oh this is awesome, I want to come" to "Oh wow, that looks cool but I can'tbe naked in front of other people". At that point I go on to explain that it is not about taking your clothes off (that is optional for anyone who is drawn to do so) but about being raw, naked or nude with yourself and your soul. We are creating a safe space for you to go inward and fall in love with your true self, removing the mental and physical restrictions we put on ourselves while being surrounded and supported by a beautiful tribe and community that we are building on this sacred, secluded land atop Palomar Mountain here in San Diego County.
In conversation yesterday with my Aerial Yoga Instructor for the retreat, Mandy Downs, we started talking about people's reactions and her initial reaction when I approached her about teaching at the retreat. Mandy has 2 young girls, 3 and 5 years old, and she has been struggling to lose her pregnancy weight since having her girls. She is an active yoga and aerial yoga instructor and recently went vegan. She was so excited for this retreat and scared at the same time as she has body image insecurities as we all do. We spent a few hours at the park playing with her girls, observing people and chatting about securities and insecurities that we all have and people's reaction to the retreat. As we were talking Mandy was telling me that her goal at the retreat is to be able to be comfortable walking around only wearing short shorts and a sports bra and how if she can allow herself to get to that point (or even further) she will be so proud of herself. I admire Mandy for her strength and determination and how much she loves herself no matter her insecurities.
We are so inundated with media that we are constantly consuming anger, aggression, being told to fear, follow the rules and that the world is out to get you and nothing is fair. We are told what standards of living is expected, what food to eat, how one is suppose to look and act. We are so guided by media to live a certain way, buy a product because of a commercial, to fear (basically everything) from the news, live in a tv show, get sucked up by advertisements, look and act like celebrities.
Once I started looking at myself and the way I was living, looking and feeling I started to realize that what I was mentally consuming (all of the above) I was eliminating all that I was consuming in the way I treated others, animals, myself, the way I looked, who and how I was suppose to love others and myself. I was angry, hurt, acting and feeling entitled, rude, searching for that designer bag (yes is was still a funky designer, I have and always will have an edge teehee) because thats what society expected and I needed to maintain a certain status. I didn't want to look poor or unhappy so I was covering me up with makeup, the need for attention and my well.. my bitchy attitude, acting better than everyone else.
I realized that I wasn't happy I was just acting like it and making everyone around me miserable. So I decided to unplug the television, stop buying magazines regularly and following main stream media and be more conscious and educate myself on where my food came from, wear what made me feel good and look good and began to slowly learn how to fall in love with myself. I looked happy on the outside but inside I was struggling with wanting to be .... well... ME! I too struggled (and still do at times) with body image issues.
We all have a story and here is a bit of mine! I have always been a tall lanky thin person. It is the body I was born with BUT I too had/have insecurities. Growing up I was told I had ski's for feet, bird legs, I looked like Olive Oil (from the Popeye cartoon, now I think it's cute, not so much when you area teen) and that I had big bug eyes. I never ever wore shorts and even now in my 40's I still cringe when I put on shorts because I see these long ugly bird legs with giant ski feet. I just a few years ago started to wear shorts in public. I still put some funky leggings on but I still have a hard time letting my knees and ankles show at the same time. I know some of you may be reading this thinking (she's so full of shit, look how skinny she is)....guess what... skinny people have body image issues too. I want thicker legs, a flatter stomach and my face to stop looking so old... but you know what I did? I started looking in the mirror everyday. I stared looking myself in the eye and saying "I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE PERFECT THE WAY YOU ARE"..... We all have a body image issue. We all have something we are insecure about. We are all afraid to go to that first yoga class. We are all afraid to do something new on our own. I stopped listening to negativity, I stopped fearing, I started to fall in love with myself. Because you know what.. You have to fall in love with you before anyone else can..
My second part of this is that I started to speak differently, I give compliments instead of criticism, I stop and tell random people they are pretty, handsome or I like what they are wearing. I have started to make this a practice and to live according to my values, not only in choosing to not consume animal flesh or secretions but also in my words and actions when interacting with others. My life has changed SO much since I started to make these small changes!
Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself I LOVE YOU! Compliment someone, pick up someone's tab or buy the coffee or meal for person behind you in line or JUST SMILE! Give yourself permission to fall in love with yourself!!