28 Ways to {better} LOVE Myself

Author’s Note: This post was originally written on 1/31/14 with the intent to post on 2/1/14.  But I worked 11 hours on Saturday, so I decided to #14 and #1.  Then on Sunday I #28.  Monday, I finally #3. So today (Tuesday) I was able to #19! 🙂

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My friend Autumn came up with a challenge recently.  She decided to use the month of February as a time to reflect and explore ways to greater love herself.  She challenged her friends to do the same…expose the ways that your own self-love is in deficit, document it, and work on making the changes necessary to love yourself more.

Her first challenge was to post an unfiltered selfie:

So, here I am warts and all.  I am wearing my college sweatshirt (because it’s cold, rainy and dreary as hell outside.) I have smeared mascara and no lipstick.  My hair is in second-day, dirty-hair waves. This is me…most of the time.

Autumn’s post struck a chord with me.  As much as I care about myself, I don’t always TAKE CARE of myself. I tend to put other people’s needs first, or simply put off my own for no good reason.  I find myself exhausted–A LOT.  Too exhausted to worry whether I’m due for my Pap, or if, according to Instagram, my last haircut was 22 weeks ago.

I started to think of all of the ways I withhold love from myself and made a list of 28 ways I plan to truly LOVE myself in the month of February.  Some of these are simple and some are much more involved.  Many of these are very personal but I think most of us can relate on some level.

  1. Go to bed earlier. I often spend my evenings in front of the computer for work or catching up with my DVR.  There are nights when I don’t crawl into bed until 2am.  When my alarm goes off at 6, I wake up angry and exhausted, and start my day off on the wrong foot. I will go to bed early. Documents, emails, and t.v. shows will have to wait until I can get to them.
  2. Schedule my doctor’s appointments.  I will no longer postpone calling the OB/GYN or dermatologist until something starts to look or feel funny.  I will make my appointments, and stick to them.
  3. Make an appointment with my hairdresser.  I will no longer allow my hair to grow out all flat and raggedy.  I won’t take the sewing scissors into the bathroom and crookedly trim my own bangs just to avoid the 10 minute drive to get my “courtesy bang trim”.
  4. Take some things off my {figurative} plate.  Last year my goal was to give more of my time, talent and treasure.  While that still holds true, I’ve learned rather quickly that when it comes to volunteering, I have to set my limits.  When I can, I will.  When I can’t, I won’t. Period.
  5. Take some things off my {literal} plate.  I’ve lost somewhere between 20-25 lbs in the last year.  I plan to keep it off.  If that means steamed broccoli over mashed potatoes, or sautéed spinach over creamed spinach, I can handle that.  I will love myself by making better food choices.
  6. Count my blessings.  It’s easy to shove all of the good things in my life to the back of my mind when I am inundated with work or other stresses.  I will bring those blessings to the forefront, remember them, and thank God for them.
  7. Say “no” when I need to.  I won’t let myself get in over my head.  If I can’t, I won’t.
  8. Say “no” when I want to.  I will love myself more by choosing NOT to do something I implicitly don’t want to do. 
  9. Say “yes” when I really want to, but feel guilty about it.  I will buy the shoes, or get the pedicure, or eat the mini Snickers bar stashed away since Halloween.  If you know me, you know I NEVER go overboard when it comes to shopping or sweets, so if I really want it and I can afford it, I will say “yes” to it.
  10. Say “yes” when I want to, but am being lazy or nervous about it.  I will meet my friend for lunch, even if I’m in the middle of laundry. I will take my kids to the beach even though I have to cross a bridge and parallel park. I will drive to the Magic Kingdom, even though it’s an hour away and I have to remember that I parked in Ursula 95.
  11. Forgive.  I will forgive someone even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness. Even if they don’t know what they have done wrong. Even if they pretend not to know what they have done wrong.  I will forgive and forget because it makes ME feel better.
  12. I won’t compare.  I am truly happy where I am in life.  So, maybe I am renting, and maybe I’ve been driving the same car since before my 5th grader was in preschool.  I don’t need what others have to be happy.  I just need to stay happy.
  13. Value my life experiences, and subsequently my informed/educated opinions.  I have had many experiences in my years on this earth.  I have gone to college, grad school, have had two children, a miscarriage, moved far away from home and back again.  I’ve had money to spare and counted pennies for dinner.  I’ve planned a wedding and countless birthday parties. I have helped my kids with hundreds of hours of homework.  I  passed a kidney stone, helped  my mom recover from a heart attack and through open heart surgery.  I own a small business and have managed several larger ones.  I’ve suffered through my parent’s divorce and remarriages and second divorces. I am not JUST a homemaker or my husband’s wife.  My wide range of experiences have helped me form valid and educated opinions and I will remember that more often. 
  14. Go with the flow.  Plans change, stuff happens. The best laid out plans can be destroyed in two seconds.  But the truth is, something better often comes along.  Last week we were supposed to go to NYC for my birthday.  Then came a snow storm, so we changed our plans and went to Disney instead.  Best. Trip. Ever!
  15. Embrace my age.  I just turned 38.  3-8.  Two years away from 40.  Three years past the point in which becoming pregnant would put me at “advanced maternal age”. 8 years older than my mom was when she had me. Seven months from my oldest entering high school and my youngest entering middle school.  I am 38, and so far I am loving it!
  16. Embrace my face.  My skin isn’t as tight as it used to be.  I have crows feet and dark under-eye circles.  This is what I look like.  Maybe one day I will inject myself up with botulism and stretch my cheek skin behind my ears.  But for now, I will embrace it. It’s the only face I’ve got and it needs love, too.
  17. Wear the two-piece. I’ve got some pregnancy battle wounds (stretch marks), and my belly button is pretty sad.  I’m nowhere near a size zero, but I will still rock that two-piece.
  18. Smile more.  A bagger at the grocery store told me I had “such a great smile!” the other day.  I’m pretty sure he was just trying to get me to smile.  I am known for having an unintentional “resting bitch face”.  I will smile more, and hopefully get some smiles back.
  19. Write more.  I used to identify as a writer.  I had two parenting columns and a personal blog where I would journal my thoughts and experiences (good and bad).  Somehow I let that part of me go and I will love myself more by getting it back.
  20. Love more. I will tell those I love how much I love them. Often.
  21. Let go of those who don’t truly love back. When you love someone you accept them as they are; you don’t judge them or try to change them.  You realize that what may work for your life, family, or career may not work for someone else and vice versa.  When you love someone you don’t feel the need to give them unsolicited advice.  Loving someone is about enjoying their company and not about confrontation.  You love someone for who they are and not to try to turn them into a version of you.  I will love those who love me, and let go of the ones who don’t.
  22. Halt the drama.  I will avoid situations which bring unnecessary drama into my life.
  23. Limit venting to 10 minutes.  Whether I am venting, or someone is venting to me, I will limit it to 10 minutes then I will change the subject or hang up the phone.  No one should have to hear someone else complain nonstop for an hour. 
  24. Let it go to voicemail.  If I am eating a meal, spending time with my husband or watching a movie I will let the phone go to voicemail. 
  25. Get organized.  Nothing makes me happier than knowing where something is when I need it. 
  26. Create for the simple joy of creativity.  Painting furniture, decorating, sewing, writing…. These are things I love to do, but only find the time to do for work. I will make time to do these things for me. 
  27. Stand up.  One of the ways I haven’t loved myself recently is by not standing up for myself when I should.  I am non-confrontational to a fault and often deal with people who are quite the opposite.  I always feel like I am on defensive mode against this kind of person–always having to explain WHY something is or isn’t a particular way.  I find myself preemptively defending myself just to try to avoid the inevitable confrontation.  I will stand up for myself, and if it continues to create confrontation I will refer to # 21.
  28. Relax and enjoy my family.  I will love myself by doing the one thing I enjoy the most: spending time with my husband and kids.  Whether it’s watching a movie, having lunch or catching up with Switched at Birth and The Fosters, these are my HAPPIEST moments ever!

Here is another unfiltered selfie with my new ‘do (and much better weather!)  Woot!

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