How I treat myself

I’ve been on holiday for ten days now – it feels like more and like less in equal measure – and over the past day have read Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye. I’ve enjoyed the show over the past few years and was looking for a bit of light relief between the slightly more involved books I’ve brought with me.

But his book brought me more than I was expecting. So I wanted to spend a few moments writing thoughts about some of the things that I’ve been thinking while following his story.

The main being a line right towards the end of the book which says:

I’m literally just as lost as you. I’m just as grateful. And I’m just as much of a perfectly imperfect mess. People are all layered – good and bad, filled with joy and sorrow. The key is being grounded in the relationship you have with yourself. Basing my worth in how I treat myself despite how others treat me has been the key to my success.

And I’m struck, despite how hard it is for me to type these words and declare unapologetically to the world, by how much I like myself.

There, I’ve said it.

I like who I am.

I like how I look.

I like the grey in my hair.

I like how I’m more in tune with myself physically and emotionally than I have ever been before.

I like my bravery and my tenacity.

I like my gentleness and reflectiveness.

I like how I can be dead serious and then dance myself silly in the next moment.

I like how I’m musical, creative and intuitive but how I can be just as logical and intellectual.

I like how I’m driven.

And I love the simplicity in JVN’s words – the possibility of a guiding principle of my life being that my worth isn’t on how much I achieve, how good a mum I am, what I do with my life, how I am viewed by others, how thin I am, how I treat others.

My worth can be on how I treat myself.

How much kindness, compassion, understanding, generosity I show myself.

And from there, who knows. I may accomplish many of the things I’ve listed above. I’m more likely to achieve better results, parent better, have a rewarding life. And I’m likely to not give a flying fuck about how thin I am, what others think of me, whether I’ve pleased others.

It feels defyingly daring to live a life like this.

To embrace myself and live from the foundation of knowing that I am the bees knees.

It doesn’t feel safe to do this and I hear my inner critic telling me to not get too big for my boots, because doing this risks being knocked down.

But it also has the potential to see me standing bigger, taller, prouder, freer, more grounded.

But what a beautiful thought.

And it makes me think about Adam, my cousin, who died a few years ago and who Jenson is named for (he’s Jenson Adam). He’s someone who I know lived like this and I admired him for that. Living unapologetically as himself, knowing he was fucking fantastic.

I want that for myself.

So in advance of new year, I’m going to commit to channeling my inner JVN, my inner Adam and know that it’s how I treat myself which is my true measure of my worth.

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Ouch!

I was walking down the street a number of months ago, hurrying to pick up a last minute addition to my husband’s birthday presents and passed a father and his son. The son was walking in the same path as I was, and we both did that weird side-to-side shuffle, trying to avoid each other but failing miserably.

He ended up falling to the ground, tripping over my feet. Not hard enough to hurt himself, but he fell.

And the father looked at me angrily after I said ‘sorry!’ and said something I didn’t quite catch.

Perhaps a ‘watch where you’re going’ or something of the sort.

I was a bit shocked – it wasn’t really the fault of either of us – and felt taken aback by his response.

I’m sharing this with you because, unlike my usual reaction, I allowed myself to feel what was going on in my body. The slap-like feeling to my temple, pressure on my chest, the tightening of my throat, the twisting of my stomach.

I allowed myself to feel the hurt physically and it was a new experience for me.

One which I found really interesting.

Likewise, I’ve had a number of situations recently where I’ve felt stung by something someone has said, I’ve felt the hurt of being let down by another.

It links into a comment I’ve heard from a relationship podcast by Esther Perel:

There’s one word that can defuse a conflict with your partner: “Ouch.” As in: “Ouch. That one hurtI don’t know if you were meaning to hurt me; but it hurt.

Through experiencing the feelings that were pulsing through my body, I embodied the feelings.

I felt the ‘ouch’.

I acknowledged the injustice I felt at being snarled at by a stranger for what was an accident. Hurt by a comment. Felt insignificant by being second place.

And it defused the inner conflict I had. The part of me that would refuse to acknowledge what was going on and would push down the feelings deep inside.

I realised it was all about how I was feeling and ouch, it hurt!

On reflection, I think this might be the way fowards for me in dealing with all the emotions I have.

To sit in the pain and feel what’s going on for my body.

To feel into what’s going on for me physically as much as emotionally.

As I do that, I recognise my inter critic. The voice trying to keep me safe by saying ‘you’re not enough, retreat back to a place where you feel safe‘.

And in this moment I choose to instead return to my inner grounding. To recognise that I’m exactly enough for myself.

I see that my ego was hurt by feeling unjustly accused, unjustly hurt, unjustly disregarded.

And, again, when I return to my inner grounding, I hear quiet, powerful voices that say ‘we know it was an accident’, ‘we’re here to comfort you’, ‘we value you.’

I feel the pain and I let it go.

Holding my breath

I’ve been thinking about how good I feel in myself at the moment and comparing it to all the other times that I’ve felt similarly free, happy in myself and able to eat moderately instead of experiencing low self-esteem and using food as a comfort when I feel sad/angry/frustrated/tired.

I always felt scared with my good fortune when I felt well in myself and when my eating was not disordered. I rarely shared what was going on for me when I felt as well as I currently do, because I feared it was only a matter of time before the penny would drop and I would return to my usual pattern of feeling unhappy in my skin and ashamed of myself.

The only way I can describe how I felt is like the experience of holding my breath under water. The pressure building and building until I have no option but to return to how I was before.

Disliking my body and eating to comfort myself.

But it feels different this time.

I’m asking myself what has changed…

How am I able to share my good fortune without feeling like I’m going to break?

What leads me to feel that things are different this time?

Here are my thoughts…

I accept who I am

I am quiet, thoughtful, assuming, gentle, fierce, loving, competitive, stubborn, talented, respectful, impatient, sharp, faithful, strong, playful, determined and so much more.

I prefer to be with small numbers of people instead of a large crowd.

I hate small talk and love heart-to-heart conversations.

A good time for me is being in a bath and reading, having a coffee and chat with a close friend, walking in nature or playing with my son and my husband.

I love time alone and need it to be at my best.

I love sleep and I need enough of it to function well.

As I accept who I am, I put myself in situations in which I can thrive.

I’m proud of who I am

This goes further than accepting myself. I actively allow myself to enjoy and be confident in who I am.

I’m rejecting the rhetoric that states I should be modest and not believe in myself, because I think that I’m good, kind, hardworking and am proud of who I am.

I was brought up hearing that ‘no one likes a show off’ and, while I don’t plan on marching down the street with a banner proclaiming how fan-f*cking-tastic I am, I see that the message I internalised was ‘don’t think highly of yourself’.

I focused on what was ‘wrong’ with me and didn’t speak kindly to myself, celebrating what I was good at.

But now I speak kindly to myself and think highly of myself.

I’ve battled and overcome an eating disorder which has claimed the lives of many.

I’ve created a career for myself which is meaningful and enjoyable.

I have a loving family and have people around me who care for me because of who I am.

I’m talented.

I’m proud of who I am.

I’m grateful

Brené Brown writes about the fear we can often feel when life is going well – like when I’m basking in love for my son and all of a sudden an image of him falling down a flight of steps pops into my mind.

She says the antidote to this is gratitude.

Likewise, in the past when I was feeling happy in myself, I’d have a thought pop into my head of ‘this is never going to last’. And I’d listen to this voice – I lived in fear for when my good luck would come crashing down.

But now I’m practicing gratitude.

I’m thankful for my body which is strong and beautiful.

It shows marks of my time on this earth – the laughter lines, the grey hairs and the freckles that come out in the sun.

I’m thankful for this time where I’m able to eat with balance and where I feel attuned to myself.

I’m grateful for being able to speak up and ask for what I want and need from other people.

My anger

I used to be angry with myself for being who I was.

How could I be so weak? Why was I so sensitive? Why couldn’t I get grip?!

But now I’m more angry at our society which paints beauty and how women should be in a certain way which is so black-and-white.

Woman should be strong but not threateningly so. Women should be easy going and always up for a laugh. Women should be beautifully turned out but not through any effort. Women should be slender and toned or voluptuously hourglass-like.

And now that I see this for the bullshit that it is.

I don’t know how I can be a part of a movement of change which redefines women as the individuals they are apart from breaking the societal conventions which put non-perfect women in their place.

Going running with just my crop top on when it’s hot outside, even though it shows my stomach.

Not hiding the bits of me that don’t fit with convention.

Celebrating that I’ve donated all my high heels to charity and never want to wear them again.

Refusing to push my true self down. Being a disruptively strong woman, allowing myself to be less ‘easy breezy’.

Expressing myself

I was in bed last night and was asking the universe for guidance about how to expel the emotions I feel so strongly – anger, sadness, disappointment, anxiety.

I know it’s when I don’t have a way to release them that things unravel for me.

I wish I could cry, but this is something that doesn’t come very easily.

This morning I spent an hour dancing around my living room with Jenson to angry songs, joyful songs, sad songs…a real mix of different emotions.

And it felt good to have a physical experience of jumping and dancing and swinging and singing. An outlet for everything going on for me.

I think this might be my way of expressing what is going on. It feels good to discover this.

Taking care of myself

In the past when I felt at peace with myself and balanced in how I was eating, I would only eat exactly what I needed.

Worried that one bite too many might make me free fall into a cycle of eating too much again.

But this time I’m feeling able to treat myself with more generosity and kindness.

I’m eating enough food. I’m having treats. If I’m still hungry after a meal, I know I can always eat more.

I want to eat well. I want to nourish myself. I want space for cakes and treats as well as vegetables and salads and fruit. I want to be able to have my favourite drink at the pub – currently alcoholic ginger beer – instead of opting for the ‘healthier’ G&T.

It feels like I’m taking good care of myself and, with this level of self-care, it feels like I could eat this way forever.


So these are my thoughts and I hope they’ve been helpful to you, dear friend.

The truth is that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring – I may well have other periods of time where I feel like I’m holding my breath under water. But I’m grateful for the current reprieve and the beauty of loving myself, being proud of who I am and taking as much care of myself as I take care of my son.

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A narrow set of rules that just don’t work

I’ve been thinking about my age old stumbling block – my body – since I went to see the Guilty Feminist Live a few weeks ago.

I was lucky enough to hear the amazing music of Grace Petrie who is a singer/activist and also a self-proclaimed butch lesbian who never felt she fitted until she came to peace with who she was and how she looked.

And in hearing how she felt she didn’t belong because she didn’t fit into the ideal of femininity, I realised just how much I only feel I belong if I’m at my thinnest and fit into the female ideal of beauty.

I don’t really understand why I feel this way, but I do.

I don’t hold other people up to the same standard. If someone is overweight it doesn’t make me question their worthiness or think less of them.

I might wonder whether there’s a reason for it – some hurt they’re trying to bury with food, a medical reason, because they love food and don’t feel ashamed of being who they are in their body.

But with me, I believe being a bit soft round the edges shows me as weak, not able to cope, lacking in self-control and so many other things…

But after seeing Grace and marvelling at the idea of fully embracing myself, I’ve been wondering about a few things.

What if I lived by Grace’s words?

Some of her song lyrics – and the title of this post – are ‘a narrow set of rules that just don’t work’.

And that’s, in my ‘logical’ thinking moments something I understand about my thoughts about my size.

Not everyone is made to be a size 6/8/10/12.

And by saying ‘you must control yourself to stay thin and within these narrow views of beauty’ I’m saying to myself that it’s not ok to not be perfect.

But perfection isn’t real and these rules about what is ok to be, food-wise, is too narrow.

It’s not realistic.

It’s not something that works for me.

It’s not ok to not be ok

Food and body image becomes more problematic to me when I’m not doing ok.

When I’m treading on new and tricky ground.

When I’m challenging myself in areas that I’ve not challenged myself before.

And that’s what I’m doing at the moment – I’m out of my comfort zone and so it’s no wonder that the old self-critical voice and comfort-eating behaviour is creeping back.

It’s not a wonder really with the strides I’m taking in my life:

  • I’m shedding the thought that I mustn’t stand out or ask for things for risk of being thought of as a nuisance.
  • I’m getting the self-belief and assurance to take time for myself in my personal life. Seizing time for myself just as my husband does when he goes to park run on a Saturday or football on a Wednesday evening.
  • I’m doing different things at work which are new and uncomfortable – having challenging conversations, staying in ‘adult’ mode when I want to be the rescuing ‘parent’, considering how I might work as more of a team instead of staying safe through being self-sufficient.
  • So I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m not entirely ok at the moment.
  • But that’s ok.
  • When I am going through periods of growth, I tend to turn to food for comfort before I slowly unfurl into new territory.
  • And that’s ok.
  • I don’t quite believe that I could be a size 14/16/18 and still think of myself as fantastic, worthy, brilliant. But I’m recognising this and trying to change my inner dialogue.
  • I’m making headway.
  • What if I loved my body like I love my son’s body? 

    Like with other people, I don’t measure my son by his body. But it’s a part of him that I love. His beautiful, plump arms and legs ripe for the biting, his cheeks so soft to stroke and kiss as he lies next to me, sleeping.

    He could be twice or half the size and I would still look at him as perfection. And, although I love his body, it is a small part of who he is.

    He is his cheeky smile and his ability to spot small details at such a small age.

    He is his obsession with bubbles and his pushing around of Harold the Bear in his little pushchair.

    He is the ‘woof’ he says when he sees the dog and his concentration as I read story after story to him.

    He is his strong legs that allow him to toddle around.

    He is his hands that clap and his fingers that he moves to try to mimic ‘baby shark’.

    He is his body – and I love it for all it is – but he is so much more than that too.

    And to view it in isolation is to do him a grave injustice.

    To view my body in isolation is, likewise, to do myself a grave injustice.

    What if loving my body was a great act of rebellion?

    It does feel rebellious, the thought of accepting, loving and cherishing my body, whatever its size.

    To see rolls around my waist (just the act of writing this feels disgusting!) when I sit down without any sense of disappointment or judgement or disgust.

    To no longer look sidewise to see how narrow my body is because it’s just not a priority for me.

    To look at my body as I did just after giving birth to my son – with wonder, respect and gratitude for what it does for me.

    To not be defined by how I look.

    To not think I’m less deserving because of not being a small size 12 or that my body and my size has anything to do with my worth or my worthiness as a person.

    When I look at myself through this lens, it feels like a deeply rebellious act.

    It’s not an act of self-sabotage – pushing as much food as possible in myself to defy a society which tells me who I should be.

    It’s an act of deep self-love and freedom to nourish myself, give myself food I love and food that provides nutrients without any heed to my size.

    Without any pressure to my anything other than I am.

    Without any rules defining what I should or shouldn’t be.

    So where do I go from here?

    I accept that I still have far to go on my journey.

     I remind myself that it’s ok to not be ok.

    I send gratitude to the divinity of motherhood for the chance to see a love I want for myself mirrored in the love I have for my son.

    I see the small seed of hope for the future me.

    I am reminded to look at myself with love and compassion.

    And I’ll end this blog with some words from Grace’s beautiful song:

    “You will figure out what’s yours and that it’s got nothing to do with fitting neatly in a box that was constructed to make it seem like people come in just two teams and anything that’s in between ain’t good enough”

    Taking up space

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I made myself small in the past.

    How I focused on being ‘likeable’ to all and felt uncomfortable with the few relationships which were less than glowing.

    How I moderated a lot of what I said with disqualifiers – words like ‘just’ or ‘possibly’ or ‘I don’t know but…’

    How I bent over backwards to accommodate others to the detriment of myself.

    And although these are still behaviours that are my go-to positions when I feel tired or not at my best, I can see that I’ve started to take up more space in my life.

    And I love it!

    I love how I ask for what I need – whether it be time alone away from the demands of motherhood or asking for a glass of water from staff in a cafe.

    I allow myself to take up space.

    I love how I’ve embraced who I am and all the brilliant things I have to offer to this world – as someone who has a brilliant career ahead of them and the ability to do incredible things in this world.

    I believe that I’m deserving of the space and recognition of all that I am.

    I love how, more and more, I also delight in the sides of me that I used to hide away. How I’m stubborn, make vast assumptions about things, can be selfish and can hold on too tight to my views. Because they are the flip-side of my greatest assets – my stubborness is also my tenacity, my assumptions allow me to take in huge amounts of data and make quick sense of them, my selfishness allows me to self-protect and by holding tight to what is dear to me, I am dedicated to things like veganism, living as ecologically as possible and living out my belief that nuclear family should come first.

    I believe that my shadow self should be allowed space.

    It’s great how I give myself time to listen to my instincts more and more in life. When asked if someone can crash at our place for a night, I don’t feel obliged to say ‘yes’ straight away. I think about whether it will be something that will stretch me beyond my means and, if that’s the case, I say ‘no’.

    I listen to what I need and, while I want to help people out, I want my own happiness more.

    I’m moving away from the long-held belief that others should come first and that I intrinsically owe something to them. This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in kindness, empathy, being generous with what I have. The difference is that I don’t believe I should give away more than I can – my time, my integrity, my self – for others.

    And with this comes such a capacity for generosity, love, abundance as I allow myself the space I need and, where I want to, I give out of choice instead of obligation.


    When I think about where I am now and where I was when I first started writing this blog of mine (268 posts to date!), I couldn’t have ever imagined that I’d be here, happier in my own skin, kinder with my stumbles, confident in who I am, accepting of my whole self.

    It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster – full of times where I’ve wept with sorrow and brimmed over with joy – but I am so grateful for where I am and for all the space that I’m allowing myself to take up in my life.

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    Love myself

    I used to put on the song ‘Love Myself’ by Hailee Steinfeld and dance around my house. Buoyed by its energy and the seemingly radical sentiment of loving myself, I couldn’t get enough of it.

    I’ve just read the lyrics and the song is a little strange (about physically loving yourself) but I stand by my love of it. My attraction to the radical notion of self-love in a society which seems to push how we aren’t good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, youthful enough.

    And on reflecting on where I am in life, I feel so happy that I can say more than ever before that I like and love myself.

    Before, it felt like this was an egotistical thing to feel – loving myself.

    I felt it meant being too big for your boots or big-headed.

    But I now see that it’s the foundation for so much in life.

    Liking yourself and knowing your self-worth is a fundamental necessity for being able to function as a well-adjusted adult.

    Sure, I still have times where I don’t talk to myself with kindness. Where I exasperate myself and I doubt what I have to offer.

    But more and more, my stance is one of positive self-regard.

    Of sureness of what I have to offer to the world and to myself.

    And here’s what I think when I appraise who I am:

    I’m an intelligent, strong, driven, caring woman.

    I’m someone who thrives off of learning new things – my capacity to develop and grow is one of my biggest strengths and something I’m proud of.

    I’ve also got a large capacity to learn – I’m bright.

    I’m driven and want to be the best I can be – a good mother, good friend – to myself and others, good daughter, good sister, good worker.

    I’m creative, I’ve got a talent for writing.

    I’m also warm and am good at including others and making people feel they matter.

    I’m also funny in my own way.

    A year ago, I’d have had a massive lump in my throat from the anxiety of thinking about sharing this with you – what would you think of me? how egotistical will you judge me to be?! – but now it feels like a fact.

    This is who I am.

    Not all that I am, mind you.

    There’s also my shadow side.

    The side of me that is stubborn and selfish and greedy and insecure. Not willing to see other perspectives and so busy that I don’t take time to just be.

    But my shadow doesn’t define me anymore like it used to. And I love myself with my shadows.

    I feel more balanced and at peace, more comfortable in my own skin than not.

    And it’s a beautiful place to be.

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    Trust myself

    I’m on a weekend away with my husband’s extended family. I suppose being married to him, they’re also my extended family, which is lovely to think about as I adore them.

    But in the lead-up to coming away, I was feeling the same anxiety I always have in the lead-up to going away. The kind where I feel like eating the entire contents of my cupboard to squash the intensity of the feelings inside.

    And yesterday, I asked myself why this was – what was the reason behind how I was feeling?

    And I realised that in the past a weekend away would have been a weekend of squashing myself.

    Bending in each and every way to make sure I chatted to everyone, tried to make everyone feel included, people pleased at each and every turn.

    Even if this wasn’t anyone’s expectations of me, this is what I did. I didn’t know how to be any different.

    It included me going along with the crowd consensus even if the activity suggested wasn’t what I wanted to do.

    And I’d have ended what should have been a beautiful weekend feeling depleted and sucked-dry of the little energy I had started the weekend with.

    Or perhaps the weekend would have surprised me and I’d come away feeling recharged and energised from the conversations I’d had.

    Either way, I’d always feel anxious in the lead-up to time with other people.

    But yesterday, I reassured myself that this wouldn’t be the case.

    I know myself better than I ever have done before.

    I love myself and am able to look out for what I need in any given situation.

    I advocate for what it is that I need.

    But this is still new – loving myself and allowing myself what it is that I need in any situation – and so I am aware that I’m still building up trust in myself.

    Trust that I will listen to myself.

    Trust that I will be aware in the moment when I want to make conversation to fill the silence in between. And instead of peddling, hustling, finding things to say and questions to ask, I’ll allow myself to hold the silence.

    Trust that I will do whatever it is in that moment that I want to do.

    And that’s exactly how I find myself this morning.

    Having listened to myself, I’m now alone in the house having some peace and quiet – time for reflection and quiet and stillness – while other people are out and about exploring the area, visiting crazy model villages and walking in the countryside.

    I listened to what I needed and said ‘no thank you, I’m going to stay inside and have some time to myself‘ when people were making plans for the morning.

    And so while I still felt the anxiety in the lead-up to this weekend, I know that it’s ok.

    Because I recognise that trust takes time to build up, even trust in myself.

    And I know that I will get there.

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    When I loved myself enough…

    My friend, Sarah, bought me a beautiful book for my birthday. It’s a short read – only taking me 15 minutes to read cover to cover, but it has really inspired me.

    It’s called ‘when I loved myself enough‘ (as the title of this post suggests) and lists all the things that the writer did once she started loving herself enough.

    Saying ‘yes’ when she wanted to and ‘no’ when she wanted to.  Realising the abuse in forcing someone to do something against their will, including herself. Collecting ribbons to remind herself of the gift that life was. Respecting all the parts of her, from the harsh inner critic to her bravest self. 

    It has inspired me and reminded me of something that a previous coach I had said – that loving yourself is an active choice, not a mindset shift, and so growing in self-love isn’t about me wrapping my head around this as a concept.

    It involves doing. Or more so, it involves acts of self-love.

    And so here is the list of self-love that I’ve done since reading the book – acts that I’ll continue to do…

    When I loved myself enough, I let myself properly recover from being poorly instead of dragging myself into the office the moment I could function.

    When I loved myself enough, I let myself leave a party when I was ready instead of waiting until it was a socially acceptable time to go. 

    When I loved myself enough, I took time away to be by myself and write. 

    When I loved myself enough, I allowed myself to write my own rules in life instead of taking the well-trodden path of others.

    When I loved myself enough, I focused on my own needs instead of always focusing on the needs of other people.

    When I loved myself enough, I expressed my own opinion even when it differed to other people.

    So here are the steps I’ve started to take, the acts of love I’ve put into practice and I feel it’s just the start.

    In a way, it’s a challenge I’m setting for myself – to love myself enough to live a life of greater courage, greater truth and greater self-love. As I continue to write about it, how it feels to love myself, I hope you enjoy it and I hope it inspires you to live a life in which you love yourself enough too, dear friend. 

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    Reconnecting

    I’ve not written on here for a few weeks. The longest time since I started this blog of mine. Despite job changes, pregnancy, new motherhood, travels around the world, I’ve managed to keep on writing…but there’s been a lot going on and it’s felt like a time to reflect inwardly, not externally.

    I wanted to reach out and reconnect a little with you…just for a moment to outline a bit of what I’m dealing with at the moment…before I jump offline for another few weeks. Maybe even until the start of the Christmas holidays.

    Values

    My values are being challenged as I’ve been advised to change my sons diet from mostly vegan to definitely vegetarian. It’s brought up a lot of questions in me – which I’m looking into.

    Are aspects of my son’s health more important than the future of the planet or more important than animal suffering?

    How do I find peace in the middle ground?

    How do my ever-strengthening beliefs in veganism sit within my marriage, how I show up and speak up, how I live my life?

    If Jenson is veggie, how do I tell him about my lifestyle choices?

    How do I tell him about my lifestyle choices whilst still giving him self-advocacy to decide what is right for him?

    Numbing

    I’ve been free from major comfort eating for some time now…but I’m becoming more and more aware of how I refuse to acknowledge difficult emotions.

    Anger

    Fear

    Shame

    I shield myself from them…and they get buried away in me, biding their time to emerge.

    I’m trying to stay present with them more often but it’s hard and it’s emotional. It’s the right path for me – but it’s a challenge at the moment.

    Assumptions

    Unconditional love, being inherently worthy of love and acceptance, not needing anything from anyone to know that I am enough.

    These are words that I see written down and have wanted to live them…but I’m becoming aware that I don’t really know what they mean and how they might show up. I don’t know. And so I’m taking some time to question them without pressure.

    Who am I?

    I’ve been a mum for nearly 12 months and love it dearly.

    I couldn’t be happier with my gorgeous son. But it’s taken me away from who I am as a person, as a wife, as an ambitious woman, as a feminist. And I feel the call…as well as a pressure, to get back to who I am in these other arenas.


    So as you can see, there’s a lot going on!

    But I’m ok, I’ll get there.

    I just wanted to check in.

    Love

    If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll be aware that I’m on a path to create greater levels of self-love. It’s something I’ve been working on for years. I’ve made progress, but like an onion has many skins, this journey to self-love also does. Once I’ve peeled off one layer, I discover another layer of unhelpful beliefs, values and actions that I need to unravel and discard to find greater levels of love for myself.

    I’ve written about my experience of realising that I often resist feeling loved and about the practice of connecting to my heart regularly and I suppose this post is a ‘what happened next’ from putting all this stuff into practice…so here I go.

    I was putting Jenson to sleep and decided to spend some time focusing on my heart to try to hear the message that it wanted to send me. It wasn’t easy at the start – I spent about 10 minutes with my mind drifting off this and that and every way until I started to focus and meditate on my heart.

    I imagined a bright green light coming from the centre of my heart (green is the colour associated with the heart in sacred Indian texts) and pictured this light and filling the whole of my body. With every breath in and every breath out, I imagined that this light was expanding more and more in and around my body. Like when you’re blowing up a balloon and it expands and expands and expands.

    When I felt this light reach my head, I suddenly felt like a part of me, deep inside, was communicating with me. And here’s the message it said:

    “Love every bit of you. Not just your heart but your head too and those ‘voices’ you find less acceptable. From your inner critic to the side of you that is like a scared child, your inner mean girl and your bad-ass side.”

    All the facets of myself that I’ve mentioned above are part of who I am. And I’m so much more than that too. I’ve got jealousy, generousness, gentleness, fierceness, a child-like wonder, a controlling streak…and so much more.

    This moment of meditation, focusing on sending love all over me, showed me a truth. That letting me love myself means pouring love over all of me, even the parts that I find lacking. It means sending generous measures of beautiful love to every little bit of me that is a bit frayed, a bit tender, a bit hurting, a bit less than perfect.

    Loving myself more isn’t just about beefing up all the areas that I like to show of myself – my kindness, my intelligence, my generosity, my creativity. It’s about loving the whole of me.

    What a revelation that came from just one moment of stillness. And what mercy it was to name each of those areas I’m less than proud of and tell them just how much I love them.

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