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Ok, hear me out. You probably read the title of this blog and thought “here we go, what is she on about now” but seriously, I’ve been thinking a lot about self worth and self love lately and it all came back to me when I started to tell someone my experience with the Twilight Saga.
Firstly, the books came into my life at the end of a bad break up, the kind of break up where there’s 5 years of history, connected families, lots of pain and suffering and love – in fact this was my high school sweet heart and I absolutely believed that he was the only person for me (at that time in my life). But allegedly (I say that with a heavy heart) he wasn’t so faithful to me, and whilst we tried to sort things out, I think reading the Twilight books was my turning point in knowing what I needed and what I was going to do next.
Having done some work in this past year with Shine From Within I have been lucky enough to meet groups of beautiful tween and teen girls who are looking for their thing, who are experiencing those first moments of lighting up when they hear something beautiful or find something that they are passionate about. The flipside of that is that they are still learning how to love themselves, in fact, I believe that all of our lives we continue to learn how to love ourselves and without some history or experience in the matter it can be difficult to truly know how to do this.
Our first reaction is to look outside of ourselves, in particular some of us will find a ‘partner’ a girl or a boy who is our person, someone who helps us to light up and to feel beautiful, and because we are so vulnerable and eager to please and learn we become attached. Sometimes it’s a beautiful thing, two young / middle aged or otherwise people meet and they build the other person up to support them to find their best versions of themselves. In some cases, that happens for a little while and then we forget why we began that relationship and lose ourselves in the attention of others, or even lose ourselves in the other person which makes it awfully hard to walk away when something truly isn’t working.
Take my relationship for example, I was in love (or was I?), I didn’t know anyone else but him as my partner and the final straw was not the only time I had put up with rumours of being unfaithful or tears cried when he wouldn’t talk to me for absolutely no reason. Our relationship was serious, and it was the first ‘proper’ relationship that I’d ever had so I didn’t know where to draw the line. He treated me well for the most part, I can’t complain about that, but I didn’t really know what it meant to be treated like I was the most precious piece of cargo in this whole wide world, at least not from him.
This is where Twilight comes into play.
We broke up, my friend took me to the movie (the first one was already out by the time I started reading the books) and I was in hermit mode where all I wanted to do was to be tucked up on the lounge chair reading until 1am to tire my mind so that I could sleep.
I fell madly in love with both Edward and Jacob, I couldn’t decide between the two because the main thing that they both had in common was that they loved Bella so much that they would do absolutely anything in this world to protect her, to make her feel loved and to ensure that she was treated with the respect that she deserved.
In the books I’m sure you could get a million different messages but this one hit home for me. It was the first time that I stepped back and thought, I deserve this. I deserve to be treated like a princess, like I’m the only woman in the world to my person. I deserve to be loved, wholly, not only by myself but by any significant other that I choose based on their ability to love me in the way that I need.
At that moment, when this message clicked with me, I knew that my ex and I were over, for good. There was no turning back, no trying to make it work, in fact I couldn’t even look at him the same because I realised he couldn’t treat me the way I needed him to. And if I weren’t willing to ask him to love me like I deserved then how could I possibly love myself?
That didn’t mean to say other men didn’t come into my life at times that I knew would not be able to give me what I needed, but they served a different purpose, someone to have fun with, someone who I could enjoy their company but knowing that they were not ‘my’ person.
I made a pact that I would wait until my Edward or Jacob came to me. That I would treat myself with enough respect to know when it was time to walk away from one of my flings or to not even go there when I knew the person couldn’t or wouldn’t give me what I deserved. It was hard, but I was lucky enough to be at a point in my life where I didn’t really care or need a significant other to make me happy, I was enjoying being my own boss, the creator of my own destiny and enjoying my independence. This is a hard thing to do, particularly when we feel young, or vulnerable (we don’t have to be young to feel this way), it takes a lot of courage to KNOW and stick with what you want and I feel like that may mean for some of us that we need to accept that it’s going to take a little while to find the significant other that lights us up, sometimes it’s months, sometimes its decades.
I waited two years, and then…
I found him, my person, the love that no matter how tough things got still always found the time to make me feel like I was the most important and special person in this whole world to him. The man who wasn’t afraid to tell me so, every single day. The person who connects with me to a level that I never thought was possible who lifts me up and brings me back into reality seamlessly. The man who isn’t afraid to love me like I deserve. My Edward or Jacob (I still can’t choose).
So the moral of my story, and what I hope you find through reading the Twilight Saga is that Edward and Jacob are not just passionatee or protective about Bella because they’re a special breed of vampire or werewolf, they’re the type of men who know how to love a women like she deserves. And Bella, in turn knows how to love them, with her whole being, through this she also discovers just how amazing she can be and transitions from a girl who isn’t sure where she truly fits in to knowing exactly who she was meant to be in her life and how she was going to get it – because she learns how to be loved and how to truly love herself in turn.
You know those days when you just feel like shit? Where you look at yourself and wonder where the old and better you went? Or you think about how much better you could be? Or how you wish you hadn’t eaten that extra slice of pizza last night…
I know those days, because I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be perfect but equally I don’t want to feel the way that I do on those days, heavy, shoulders slouched, eyebrows creased, the lethargy the lack of energy or zest for anything and everything.
Being out of my routine during my travels has taken a toll, I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be exploring and delving further into my yoga and different cultures but am equally feeling out of sorts in my body and my mind. The copious amounts of tapas, rice, pizza, pasta and potatoes that I’m eating is also not doing any favours to my waistline or my mindset and is definitely not giving me the nutrients I need to feel energized and healthy. And you know what? That’s my choice to make, and I choose to experience these wonderful cultures and cuisines while I can.
What I do have a choice in however is how I choose to think about myself in order to feel balanced, courageous and happy. All of these things are directly affected by my ability to love myself – which I’m learning to do, day by day, and which copious amounts of pasta should not affect.
When we were in Spain I pulled out my gorgeous wrap-around thigh split dress (which I had been waiting to wear out properly for a while), which would usually make me feel really sexy and happy. But when I started to tie it up and feel the way that my body fit into the dress I immediately started thinking about how much I’d eaten that day, how tired I was and how very un-sexy I felt in that dress at that very moment.
My thoughts were violent, and not in the traditional sense of violence but they were self-harming, unhappy and unhelpful and they certainly didn’t put me in the right mindset that I needed to go out and have a wonderful time enjoying the local cuisine and exploring the dimly lit streets of the stunning town we were in.
You may think that my statement above is harsh, or too strong, particularly because I used the word ‘violent’ but I’ve been reading The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele and the section on Ahimsa (non-violence) has asked me to consider whether I can be the best version of myself if I am continually beating myself up about all of my flaws or perceived flaws? No I can’t. And if I can’t love myself and treat myself with respect and dignity then how can I possibly treat others that way?
The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele quotes “Our ability to stay balanced and courageous has much to do with how we feel about ourselves.”
In order to achieve whatever perceived success we believe we ought to in this life it first starts with mastering the art of loving ourselves. Because only when we truly love ourselves can we begin to love our lives and others around us. And when we feel great about ourselves – as the quote says above, our ability to tackle all obstacles in life in a calm, balanced and courageous will enable to be truly happy with everything that we achieve.
I’ll admit the practicalities of non-violence or ahimsa are hard to master, particularly the art of non-violence towards yourself but is something that we need to be so conscious of.
So how can we practice non-violence towards ourselves? Well the first step I took on that fateful night as I walked out the door feeling horrible was I looked down at myself with no mirrors in front of me and I suddenly realised that the only reason the dress didn’t fit me properly was because my mind was telling me to feel uncomfortable in it. The dress covered everything it needed too, it wrapped around my body the way it always had, and when I stopped playing around with it every step that I took I realised that I actually looked quite sexy with my thigh showing with each step and reminded myself that it was meant to fit that way. Sure the models whose pictures I see in the dress wear it well, but that’s because they OWN IT!
I thought to myself “I am sexy, and I am lucky to have a body that is healthy and can heal and actually, my body is pretty damn good considering the change in diet and exercise I’ve had.” I couldn’t help but smile, my small little pep talk was just what I needed to shake my bad mood and remember that I AM sexy, and there are plenty of people in this world who I’m sure think so as well (starting with my partner).
So this spring summer season – don’t beat yourself up. Don’t let the thoughts of the impending ‘bikini weather’ or guilt or self-consciousness take over.
As soon as I started owning it, it felt so much more comfortable not only in the dress I was wearing but in my own body – this is what we should be like every damn day. Our bodies are constantly changing, and they will never stay the same so go with the flow of life, as long as you feel healthy and happy that is the best that you can ask for right?
Owning the way you look and either a) making a positive lifestyle change to FEEL healthy (looking healthy does not make you feel any better) or b) stop beating yourself up about the way that you are meant to be and look is the first step to making a change. It takes time and confidence to believe that you are beautiful just the way you are but it also takes dedication to the art of thinking great things about yourself, because let’s face it – it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us.
The benefits you will see and feel immediately – every single time you think ‘I look amazing in this’ or ‘I love the way I look and feel today’ you will start to believe it and those beautiful thoughts will soon start to become things like ‘I am the right person for this job, I will get it’ or ‘I will take that leap and be successful at something I’ve always wanted’. These self-affirmations are the difference between a confident, happy and energized person and an unhappy, self-conscious, guilt ridden person. Practicing positivity every single day and banning the ‘violent’ thoughts from your mind and your life (and that includes anyone who puts those thoughts in your head) is the best thing that you can do to change the life that you are living.
So go on and give it a go – it’s perfect timing for summer.