Valentine's Day Part 5: Loving Myself on Purpose

Well, I must say that it’s been quite an interesting week full of rants, “booty” calls, reminiscing over lost loves, and a look at some of Hollywood’s life lessons.

I tried to make light of the holiday and bring some humor to those who feel especially lonely during this time.  But the truth is, I really do love Valentine’s Day. Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but there’s something about taking a day each year to remind yourself of why you love the one you love that I think is beautiful.

I’ve been on a seemingly never-ending journey with God as I’m learning how to love the most important person in my life. Me. It’s funny because just when I think I’ve got the whole accepting and loving myself idea down, God takes it to a deeper level.  I just met with  a pastor at Bethel and at the beginning of our meeting he said, “You don’t believe that God loves you.”  I was shocked! I sat dumbfounded and I pondered what exactly he meant. I mean, Christianity 101 is “Jesus loves you and died for your sins.” He continued, “You know in your head that God loves you, but you don’t believe it.  You think that God tolerates you but could change his mind at any moment because you only tolerate yourself. If you really believed God loved you, you would have no fear. You’ll never be able to fully love other people until you’re convinced that you’re protected and covered by God’s love.”

It hurt to hear because no one who has just spent the last 3 years in ministry school wants to hear that they don’t have the most basic concept of God down.  However, it was true and ever since that meeting, I’ve been on this journey where I’m seeking out God’s heart for me like never before. What is it God loves about me? What does it mean to love myself the way God loves me?

A few days ago, I asked people what they thought it meant to love themselves and what it is about themselves in particular that they love.  I loved reading all the responses.  Some were inspiring, some challenging, and others were downright adorable.

What does it mean to love yourself?

1. “To love yourself is to accept yourself.” Clarification: I have seen many people in my short career as a therapist. In general, people who do not love themselves do not accept themselves. Why? Because they seek validation through external sources as their only source of self worth.

2. To love yourself is to be in charge of everything and to be able to play video games whenever I want. (Dezman, Age 5)

3. To love yourself is to have all your needs met in Christ Jesus, so you walk in wholeness.  If I need something apart from him, then I’m disconnected from love himself.

3. To love yourself is to enjoy your desires and honor them by pursuit. It’s also to share yourself with people out of the enthusiasm and thrill that comes from having discovered something of great value.

4. Loving yourself means keeping the lights on when you get dressed even when you don’t like what you see at the moment. It’s seeing beyond the pimples and freckles, disregarding the cellulite and muffin-top, but instead seeing the woman that God created you to be.

5. I was going to say loving yourself means you’re okay with everything about yourself and wouldn’t change anything. But after thinking about it a little more, I think you can recognize the things about yourself that you don’t like, and still love yourself. It’s when you don’t constantly compare yourself to other people. To know you’re not perfect, but not beating yourself up about it. Basically, it’s seeing yourself how God sees you.

6. I think to love yourself is to see who you are, the good, the bad, the “could be better” and to be okay with it because you know that you’re valuable. Part of loving yourself is to value yourself enough to make good choices and have grace with yourself when you don’t, or can’t, or won’t. I think this comes from living in the love that God has for you. At the end of the day, it’s to know that you’re worth fighting, even dying for! Plus, Jesus thinks you’re adorable. Win!

7. When you love yourself, you eat a lot of apples and oranges so you can grow and be healthy. (Lily, Age 5)

8. You have to be your own best friend. I wish I had been my own best friend as a teenager and young adult. Instead I sought love and acceptance from others and when it isn’t enough, your self-esteem and self-worth is ruined. In growing a relationship with myself I have discovered how STRONG I am. I have become a better friend, more forgiving, more patient, and more honest with myself and others. I have lost weight and stopped taking medications (for stress and anxiety). It has in short, changed my life!

9. To love yourself is to accept your identity at it’s core. To believe what God says about me is true.

10. To love myself is to smile inside. (Camden, Age 6)

11. To love myself means to love who I am. (Anabella, Age 5)

 

What do you love about yourself?

1. I love my sense of humor. My Schmidt-likeness. – Ted, Age 20

2. I love me because I’m great. -Sarah, Age 6

3. I’m thoroughly enjoying my resolve to go after truth and pay the price to benefit from it. I love my resilience.  I love my genuine compassion for people. – Mike, Age 26

4. I don’t know what to say I love about myself because there’s too much stuff to say.  I’m a good friend and I like that I like to swim. -Selah, Age 7

5. I love me because I love you. – Lily, Age 3

6. I love how deeply I love and champion people. -Marlene

7. I love my childlike personality and sensitivity and naivety. I love that I have a lot of love to give. -Kainos, Age 27

8. I love that I’m adventurous and willing to take risks. -Carly, Age 26

9. I love myself because I can read my dinosaur book all by myself and because Jesus loves me. -Riston, Age 4

10. I love my heart. It’s big. -Audrey, Age 21

As you can see, loving yourself has many different meanings. But it all comes down to being fully yourself, unapologetically. As I am writing this, I am reminded of one of my last days in treatment at Remuda Ranch. My dietician was walking me through my recovery plan and she said to me, “I want you to pray this prayer, ‘God, show me how you see me, no matter how beautiful it is.'”

I pray that this Valentine’s day, whether you’re with the love of your life, with your friends, or alone watching Netflix, that you will experience the way God sees and loves you and be willing to take the risk to love yourself the same.

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What Hollywood has lead me to believe about life, love, and the pursuit of abs.

I love movies.  Especially romantic comedies.  I know, I know I am being totally cliche, but I don’t care.  There is nothing quite like cuddling up in a big, warm blanket with chocolate and self-pity while watching two awkward and incompatible strangers defeat all odds and fall in love in a matter of 90 minutes.  I’ve learned a lot about life and love from watching movies, so I decided it’s only fair for me to share my wealth of wisdom with you. Here are 7 things Hollywood has taught me thus far:

 

1. Men love a socially awkward ditz.  No longer is the popular, blonde bombshell every guy’s dream, but it is the brunette who spends all her free time in the library because she is stressed about her grade point average dropping below a 4.0. Generally she wears over-sized glasses and either has her hair in a messy pony tail, or down with bangs that cover her eyes in order to make her seem more mysterious. She normally still lives at home with her over-protective parents and her clothes are plain and boring. However, the most handsome guy in school somehow manages to fall in love with her and she then automatically transforms into some hot bombshell and does crazt things like getting contacts and a curling iron.  This scenario always leaves me feeling hopeless. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Can a girl be smart AND a bombshell? Do I really have to choose?

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2.  Guys are crazy stalkers.  The scene always seems to start at a bar. Strong, independent female lead lets her hair down and orders a few patron shots as she sits alone (a typical scene from my early twenties that strangely never led me down the path to finding true love).  A handsome man who has a bad womanizing streak watches in the distance and then decides to join her. The two hit off, take some more shots and then call it a night.  The next day, the woman goes into work and as she’s gushing to her friends about her night, the same handsome man shows up! At her work! With flowers! WHO DOES THAT? HOW DOES HE KNOW WHERE SHE WORKS?? If the woman declines his offer, he will then show up at her house. Then at a party that a mutual friend is throwing. He basically never goes away until she says yes. WHY IS SHE SAYING YES TO THIS? HAS SHE NEVER WATCHED DATELINE?! Does she not realize that there is such a thing as crazy, sociopath serial killers? Guys, just keep your stalking to Facebook like most sane people do! Maybe throw in a random “like” on one of her profile pictures. I promise she won’t stop talking about you to her friends if you do. As crazy as these stalking scenarios sound, I am curious as to how they find these passionately obsessed stalkers. I mean, the last time I was out with a guy was because I asked him out (yep, I did it). I haven’t had any luck getting a free dinner out of a guy, let alone my own personal stalker.

3. Secluding yourself and binge eating ice cream after a break up is totally acceptable and will not in any way, shape, or form have any negative connotation on your abs.

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4. If you can’t find the man of your dreams in your social circles, perhaps try The hospital’s memory care unit. Lucy in While You Were Sleeping basically got engaged by just telling a man suffering from a traumatic brain injury that she was his fiance. No, they didn’t end up together but she did marry his brother, so she won regardless. No one thought this was weird and creepy, but rather cute and endearing which really makes me mad because in the 1st grade, I tried telling Wesley Pierce that he was my boyfriend and he just laughed at me and ran to the other end of the playground.

5. In order to be viewed as a strong a successful woman, I need to be a magazine editor who is closed off and seems content without a significant other. She actually goes home and eats Chinese take out every night and watches old love movies as she falls asleep (also notice that she is like 105 pounds despite her take out habit). Guys, I guess, find that endearing.

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6. Being secretly watched is uber romantic and a sign of true love. I’ve lost track of the times where there is a scene where a guy sits in his car and watches the woman he adores sit alone in a restaurant as she waits patiently for him. Normally he never goes in and she leaves sad and depressed. However, the moment he confesses to her that he was watching her and describes in every detail her every move that night (um, creepy), she falls for him all over again.  I actually have a first-hand experience with this and let me just say that it is neither cute or romantic.  A few years ago, I broke up with this guy on Valentine’s day. YES, ON VALENTINE’S DAY. People can accuse me of being evil, but in my defense I wouldn’t have done it if he wasn’t so annoying. Later in the day, I was at school and received a text that stated, “I couldn’t bear to not give you your valentine’s day present so I left it on your car. You can go get it. I left.” I was already annoyed because the main reason I broke up with him was because he was over-bearing and literally never let me breathe.  So, I walk out to my car and bring the gift inside. I immediately get another text from him saying, “I am so sorry it ended up like this. You look really good in pink and your hair looks nice.” I think he thought it would be really romantic and sweet, but it really just validated my reasons for breaking up with him.

7. Girls love financially unstable men.  In The Notebook, Allie leaves her rich and stable fiance for a life with Noah who has done nothing with his life for the last 10 yearsIn New Girl, Jess falls for Nick who is a bitter alcoholic that has a box of unpaid bills stuffed under his bed! Rose leaves her fiance for Jack and I mean,the list goes on.  The movies have a way of romanticizing the idea of a man who can’t afford a phone and lives in a studio apartment where he smokes cigars and writes poetry that he swears he is going to publish someday.  I mean, he’s spontaneous and the thought of not knowing what’s ahead can seem exciting.  But it’s not. It’s not exciting.  The reality is he probably lives off food stamps and eats ramen and ketchup and your fights consist of arguing over whether you’re going to pay the water bill or go without gas for another week.

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So, there you have it. All the creepy, confusing and false ideas of love that live within this brain of mine. What are some things Hollywood has taught you about love?

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Valentine's Day Part 3: My Valentine's Day Booty Call

There is always a first for everything.

Ladies and gentlemen, I experienced my first Buti call.

Once upon a time, like 3 days ago, I was a sad girl at the gym.  No literally.  I called my mom while on the stationary bike and cried openly about stuff like how I don’t look like Beyonce and the terrors of being so broke that I have to drink non-organic coffee. You could say that I was not feeling particularly motivated this evening, but I knew that since I am going to Vegas to see Britney in a few days, I needed to follow her words of wisdom. You want a hot body? You better work B****. As I was very un-passionately working out on the elliptical, I had a brilliant idea. I should look to see if there are any classes being offered. That way I will be forced to stay. So, I walked up to the counter and looked at the schedule.  Up next, Buti (pronounced booty) Yoga.  Hmm, sounds nice and relaxing. Plus, I pride myself on being a seasoned Bikram Yoga attendee, so all other yoga is child’s play compared to that.

I walked into the class and waited patiently for the instructor to arrive.  She walks in looking like your typical Victoria’s Secret model who weighs in at 89 lbs yet still has muscles that intimidate me.  She looks at the class and says, “You’re going to love it. Especially with Valentine’s Day coming up.”

That should have been my first clue that I was out of place. But I just thought…”Um, ok. Whatever that means.”

Then, the music begins playing.  Now I’m expecting some hippy Enya song to come out of the speakers but no. Oh, no no. It’s SHAKIRA.  The instructor then begins moving her hips back and forth and advises us to do the same.

“Feel the music and feel empowered!” She yelled as her hair swayed back and forth with her hips.  “Really rock your hips so you can release your chakra” she says as she strips down to just a bra and “buti” shorts that I’m pretty sure is just a fancy word for, I don’t know, UNDERWEAR.

Oh my goodness.  What is this?

She begins doing other awkward hips shaking moves and tells us to shake our “buti” with it.  So, here I am. Trying to mimic the instructor who is swaying her hips back and forth, shaking her “buti” and throwing her arms in a circular motion in the air as she flips her hair side to side.

I suddenly began to feel like I was in a 50 cent music video except I looked more like this…

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I embrace my white girl status and just do the best I can.  I will admit that I got a little excited when she pulled a classic Britney “Slave for You” dance move and I envisioned I was dancing with a giant yellow snake around my arms! It strangely helped.

My Britney impersonation soon fades and it’s time to move to the floor exercises. We go into downward dog and then into a plank.  She then tells us to hold the plank and pop our “buti” to the beat of the music. I don’t even know what I was doing but I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be saving that for marriage.  At this point, Dark Horse by Katy Perry is playing.  I really never expected to be booty popping to that song any time soon, let alone sober.

I wanted to scream and cry and run out of that room so fast! The walls seemed to be caving in a around me and my hips were doing things that I vowed at a youth group convention to never let anyone see! At this point, I not only feel like an awkward pretend stripper who’s about to lose her job, but I have officially seen more of the instructor’s body than I ever wanted to see of any woman!

I try to gather my thoughts as I’m in some random booty popping position and just then, Sasha Fierce spoke to me.  Suddenly, a Beyonce song came on the same time the fans came on.  Since I had forgotten a pony tail holder, my hair was down so the fans blew my hair. I looked at myself in the mirror with my hair blowing gloriously and thought, “I AM BEYONCE! I AM SASHA FIERCE! NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW!”

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The class came to a close shortly after that and I laid in my peaceful one minute savasana as I wondered if I need to say some sort of prayer asking for forgiveness for what I had just done.

So, there you have it.  My only Valentine’s Day buti call.  Oh and PS: I googled “buti yoga” upon my arrival home and it’s homepage had a picture of a girl in a bikini and the description said things like, “free the female spirit” and “to cure something hidden or secret.”

Jesus, please forgive me for I knew not what I was about to do.

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Valentine's Day Part 2: Single People are the WORST!

There are two specific times when people seem to forget about decent internet behavior.  First being presidential election season.  People whom I generally like literally become monsters and spend hours arguing on one simple status update that reads, “Go Republican!” They are like wild bears during mating season and will stop at nothing until they get what they want.

Actually, I literally have no idea what bear mating season is like. Is there a mating season? Anyways, since we are on the topic of mating, that leads me to the second worse time of the year for the internet: Valentine’s Day.

I am single. So, naturally you might assume that I hate this time of the year because of all the beautiful and romantic couples that post “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH BABY CAN’T WAIT FOR TONIGHT XOXO” on each others walls. You might think that I hate seeing my peers and even girls I used to babysit post pictures of them and their significant other at a romantic dinner filled with champagne and appetizers that cost more than my whole week’s worth of groceries.  But, you are wrong. Why do I hate the internet this time of year? Oh no no, it is not because I am sulking in my God-forsaken season of unending singleness as I watch love throw up all over my news-feed. It’s quite the opposite. It’s because of all the single ladies (and boys).

Like clockwork, on February 1st every single person comes out of hiding and begins to broadcast their relationship status for the entire world to see.  Even those that generally stay under the radar on Facebook come out of hibernation and begin flooding your newsfeed with passive-aggressive posts about how they are “forever alone” in the hopes that the man or woman of their dreams will find pity on them and ask them out.

But they don’t. They never ask you out. In fact, you are asking the question, “why am I single” and I would encourage you to look at your wall for the last 12 days or so and I’ll let you answer that question yourself. Please stop embarrassing and mis-representing single people all around you.  Some single people actually like the idea of their friends and family experiencing love and romance while they browse the same crappy movie selection on Netflix for the ten-thousandth time. Some singles like to hang out with their friends and buy themselves flowers and chocolates for the 27th year in a row. SOME PEOPLE LIKE IT OKAY?!

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But seriously, you single people need to calm yourself.  Stop Taylor Swifting the world and displaying your every lonely emotion for the world to see. The couples that you complain about actually give me hope that someday I’ll find the Jay-Z to my Beyonce.  The K-Fed to my Britney…wait, no. I found my K-Fed and that story will be saved for an entirely different blog.  I’ll need to get the okay from my therapist to post that one though.

So, there is my rant for the day.  Singles, be happy.  Couples in love, be happy.  Now, let’s all hold hands, sing kumbaya and eat chocolate shaped hearts together.

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Valentine's Day Part 1: The One That Got Away

In case you haven’t heard or noticed the red and pink cut out hearts and overpriced boxes of chocolates at your neighborhood store, Valentines Day is just around the corner.

A day where love is celebrated and Prozac prescriptions are refilled simultaneously.

I love Valentines Day so much. Actually, I love the awkwardness of Valentines Day.  I love the sad and angry singles, the oblivious and annoying newlyweds, and everything in between.  I love it so much that I decided to post a blog every day this week documenting my random thoughts and/or memories on the holiday.

Growing up, Valentines Day was always very stressful.  It was a day that needed weeks of preparation.  First, I had to pick out the absolute best Valentine’s Day card that would be passed out to every classmate during the mandatory VD party. Second, after choosing the best set of cards (my awkward and sheltered private schooled self normally choose something along the lines of Winnie-the-Pooh or Clarissa Explains it All) I had to sort through all the cards and decide which ones to give to whom.  My least favorite classmates always got a generic “Happy Valentines Day!” message while my best friend would always get my favorite of the pick that normally said something like “You’re Tigger-iffic! Be Mine!” (Again, let me stress that I was a socially awkward private school kid who didn’t know where babies came from until I was like, 11).

I hated passing out Valentine’s Day cards.  It was always awkward and being my true self, I made it a point to completely avoid eye contact with any boy I found to be remotely cute (some things literally never change).  So, not only did I have to force eye contact, I actually had to give him a Valentine’s Day card that I specifically picked out for him! It was horrifying! I still remember navigating myself through the maze of 6th grade desks to Craig Johnson.  Craig Johnson was not like any other boy I had ever known.  He had been to a public school, so he was well-versed in non-Christian things.  His parents let him watch The Titanic, he listened to Blink-182, and I’m pretty sure I heard him say “dammit” on more than one occasion.  He was the epitome of a bad boy in my world and he was everything I ever wanted.  The problem was that he never noticed me.  Maybe it was the Winnie-the-Pooh overalls or maybe it was the over-sized prescription glasses that threw him off. To this day, I will never know.

The point is, I was in love and I now had the opportunity to face the love of my life and reveal my true feelings through a Valentine’s Day card.  So, I did what any good Christian girl would do.  I picked the most generic card that revealed no form of emotion or attraction, wrote his name on it and handed it to him as if I was being forced or tortured. I then walked away praying, “Lord, if it’s your will for us to be together, please reveal it to his heart.”

Fast forward 3 more years.  I am now a mature and blossoming 9th grader and I am SO OVER Craig Johnson! The Lord never revealed it to his heart for him to marry me, so I moved onto greater things. Plus, he had transferred to another school, so that helped. I exchanged my grandma glasses for BLUE glasses and my overalls for bell bottoms.  I did rebellious things like listen to the Backstreet Boys behind my parents back and watch every Britney MTV special I could squeeze in.

Valentine’s Day cards were so over and now Candy Grams were all the rage.  I had already emotionally prepared for this day because if it was anything like the years prior, I would only receive 2 candy grams.  One from my Nana (who worked at my school) and one from my sister because my mom literally made us buy one for each other.  Every year it was emotionally traumatic as the “student council” kids disrupted class to pass them out because I always seemed to receive the least in the class. I, my friends, was Gretchen Weinered every year.

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I was fully prepared for the humiliation and was ready to pretend that I didn’t care about juvenile things like Valentine’s Day. Then, something happened.  I received not one, not two, not even five but SEVEN candy grams! SEVEN! THE NUMBER OF THE LORD! As I looked over my desk overflowing with the goodness of cupid, one candy gram in particular stuck out to me. I picked it up and it read, “Happy Valentines Day! I love you! PS. Craig Johnson thinks you’re cute! Love, Cara.” (Side note: although Craig had switched to a different school, we had recently seen each other at a birthday party and exchanged glances over Dominos pizza and Surge).

My heart began racing. My face flushed with red joy as I looked around the room. CRAIG JOHNSON THINKS I’M CUTE! I’M THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD!

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You see, that Valentines Day, everything changed for me.  It was the day I realized that I’m not always the ugly duckling.  It is possible to have the man of my dreams like me in return. Sometimes, when I want to escape reality or when my Netflix isn’t working, I think back to that day and relish in the emotions and feelings of popularity that overwhelmed me.  Was he the Jack the my Rose? The Justin to my Britney? Not exactly. But I sure did feel like a star.  I actually have no idea where Craig Johnson is these days.  Judging from recent Facebook posts, most likely in a tanning booth.

Well, that concludes my random story for the day. If you learned anything from this, I hope you learned that a single candy gram can change a life forever.

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You're Prettier Than Me

Comparison. We all do it.

You know, the word “compare” is actually defined as “to look at (two or more things) closely in order to see what is similar or different about them or in order to decide which one is better.”

It’s a dog eat dog society.  We live in a world where we are never good enough.  You may be thin, but you will never look like Kate Moss.  You may be a good mom, but you know, your dishes are piling up and when was even the last time you prayed for an hour straight?

It happens.  We base our worth on everything that we are not, instead of everything that we are.

I recently met with one of my previous pastors and friend, Marlene.  I started off the meeting listing everything that I hated about myself. Actual comments I made:  I’m so fat.  I don’t want to be seen in public. I’m ugly. No guy would ever want to be seen with me. No one knows who I am. I’m so lonely.  I have no friends. Yadda yadda yadda oh my life is just so terrible.

She looked at me, tears in her eyes and said, “You worked too hard to be where you are to have these lies taking over your life again.’  She was right.  The words I was speaking were coming from the old mindset I once lived with.  Somehow, I had let my guard down and stopped protecting and stewarding my breakthrough.

I should have known I was headed down that familiar road when I began comparing myself to other girls.  She’s pretty and she’s funny.  I wish I could be as pretty and funny as her.  Oh, that girl is flawless and has probably never tasted a carb in her life.  She is the closest living replica to Beyonce I’ve ever seen. She works out 3 hours a day. She has guys fawning over her. She’s so popular….

The problem isn’t in recognizing another person’s beauty.  The problem begins when I start to steward negative thoughts about myself based on another person.

I had a decision to make.  Either I could continue to punish myself for not being an entirely different human being, or I can celebrate myself and others at the same time.  Every time I found myself beginning to start comparing myself to someone, I intentionally thought “God, you made that girl gorgeous.  She is amazing and has so much to offer.  Thank you that you made me beautiful in my own way and that I have different gifts. Both of us girls are going places.”

So, next time you find yourself comparing yourself with someone else, challenge yourself to find that good that is in you as well. No, I may not look like Gisele Bundchen, have a flawless face like Kim Kardashian, or be as funny or charming as Jennifer Lawrence. But I am me.  I am talented.  I have purpose and that’s all that really matters.

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