11824999_10207394636927769_6978853380674122016_n-1

You were able to ditch that annoying man you met at the bar last weekend. You cut off communication with that toxic friend you met in college. You even managed to dump your old boyfriend when you realized you just really, truly deserved better. Way to go, superstar! Half the battle is finding the right community for you, and knowing when to walk away from certain relationships. But I hate to break it to you: there is one relationship in your life you will never be able to escape. No matter how hard you try, she’ll follow you around like a lost puppy dog. And after a night out, she might even smell like one, too.

No, I’m not talking about your mother, or your childhood best friend, or your weird but lovable Aunt Lori. That stinky Pomeranian I’m referring to is you.

If you haven’t already wrestled with this fact, then you’re either delusional or heading for a mid-life crisis. Making peace with who you are is probably one of the most difficult tasks we face, and it’s an ongoing and tiring process. Hell, I’m in my early 20’s and I swear I’ve already had about 3 quarter-life crises! And if you’re not there now, I’m sure you can think back to your years of young adulthood and chuckle with familiarity.

I’m quite frankly in a perpetual state of confusion, but I can say that at least amidst the chaos, I’ve found deep love and respect for myself and my life. And that, above anything else, has carried me through any dark or uncertain time.

Here are ten tips and tricks that will help you uncover, realize, and remember the beauty of your individuality. Because girl, YOU ROCK! Sometimes all you need is a simple reminder (or ten).

1. Set up healthy morning and evening rituals.

I’m not going to lie – I start a lot of my mornings with disheveled hair and a bad attitude. I am not a morning person by any means, as much as I’d like to be. But setting up positive morning and evening rituals is a practice that I’m trying to make a daily habit, because I’ve seen how powerful they can be. Each ritual will be dependent on your personality and lifestyle. For instance, my mother wakes up and reads The Bible every morning over her cup of coffee, and at night, she reads healings and testimonies in bed (she’s a Christian Scientist). Although that’s not my style, she swears by it as a way in which to focus her energy at the start and end of each day.

What I try to do is write a list of 10 things I’m grateful for within an hour or two of waking up. I write each item down in a full sentence or two (no emojis people), and write “Thank You” at the end of each line. In the evenings, I read something that’s life-giving either from bloggers or writers that I admire. Instead of counting sheep, I count my blessings.

2. Treat yourself from time to time.

Some people do this way too often, while others do this way too little. Finding the right balance of “treat yourself” activities is crucial for not only your well-being, but your bank account. If you bury your problems in Louis Vuitton clutches and silk shawls, you’re not doing it right. But if you constantly feel guilty whenever you splurge on anything, then you’re not really rewarding yourself for how wonderful and hardworking you truly are. Personally, I’m fine with spending money on experiences, but have a hard time spending money on material items. Find out what treat gives you the most joy, and give it to yourself when you need it. You deserve it.

3. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about who you are.

Write down a list of the people in your life, and cross out the ones that make you feel like you’re not good enough. Say goodbye to toxic people and welcome those that uplift you with open arms. This isn’t an easy task – I’m attached to a lot of people that probably aren’t the best for me – but if you don’t surround yourself with a community that inspires and celebrates you, you will always be held back from loving yourself. Sure, self-love comes from within first and foremost, but we are social beings and that cannot be ignored. Make sure your social circle is the right one for you.

4. Stand by your own personal goals.

Set goals for yourself and yourself only. I see a lot of couples who have plenty of goals in life, but most of them are dependent on the other person. I also see a lot of single people who are so damn bored with themselves that they are constantly seeking a relationship. Practice your independence by figuring out what you want for yourself. Whether it’s a promotion, a consistent workout regime, or an international trip you want to take, set goals for yourself and your future. Know that half the battle is just deciding you’re going to do it.

5. Dress up (or down) for yourself.

Put on that sexy little black dress and heels, or don’t. Wear what you want to wear and get as fancy or as comfy as you want, but do it for you and you only. Sometimes I like to put on a flow-y dress, big shades, and a floppy hat just to go to the grocery store. I do it for me – because it makes me feel good. It’s just one of my many Carrie Bradshaw moments, and it’s totally awesome.

6.Seek help when you need it.

Whether you were the constant front-row-hand-raiser in grade school or not, decide that you’re going to be now. This is the school of life, sweetheart, and you’ve got to learn how to ask for help when you need it. Whether it’s from a family member, a friend, a therapist, or a significant other, know what your individual limits are and use the strength others can provide when needed. Often times admitting you can’t do something on your own is the best way to love and nourish yourself.7

7. Make your house a home.

I’m the type of person that needs my living space to reflect not only who I am, but the best parts of myself. After a long day, I want to come home and feel at home. I want to be surrounded by art, photography, quotes, even color schemes that make me feel good. Make sure your space feels like your sanctuary. Make sure it’s a place that reminds you who you are when you seem to forget.

8. Do not compare yourself to others.

This is a lot easier said than done. I think it’s especially hard to practice self-care, self-love, and self-compassion in the 21st century because we are all constantly peering into the lives of others through social media. And let’s be honest, we all post the most flattering, most positive, and most exciting parts of our lives online. But you have to keep that in mind when you’re scrolling through your Facebook.

Don’t compare the reality of your life to the Instagram feed of that pretty cheerleader from college. Don’t get jealous over the seemingly flawless bikini shot of that girl on the beach in Malibu. Photoshop and Instagram filters do wonders, but that’s beside the point! Imperfections are beautiful, and so are you.

9. Write yourself daily affirmations.

Every day, write down something that you like about yourself and read it out loud. Make it a mental habit to think consciously about your many virtues, quirks, and successes. There are so many things about you that are meant to be celebrated, and nobody can do it as authentically and honestly as you can.

10. Encourage and uplift others.

I believe that the stead-fast way to happiness is serving others. Don’t go a single day without telling somebody you love how much you appreciate them. Don’t go a single week without writing a note to someone you care about. I send thank you cards and little tokens of gratitude to a different friend or family member every week. Loving others is one of the best ways we can love ourselves, too. Remember that what you give is what you get, so you better make it good.

Learning to love yourself, truly and wholly, is a life-long process. It’s a grueling task – similar to overcoming the mental battle of whether or not you should stay on the couch and watch Sex and the City reruns, or get off your ass and go to the gym. It’s mental torture just thinking about it, but after a good work out, you feel lighter, happier, and more energetic. You just feel better.

So if you’re stick in a rut, going through a break-up, or just need to refocus your life in a positive direction, be your own hero and set up some habits to help you do so. Practice self-love in your daily life and make the decision that you are going to be your own cheerleader. You have all the power you need to build the life of your dreams, because you, my friend, are one brave and authentic and wonderful woman.

Do you have any habits that help you stay grounded and centered in who you are? Do you have any self-care practices that you want to share? Leave all your self-love secrets in the comments below and feel free to tweet me with any further questions or comments!

 

IMG_1584

Today is my last day of summer; tomorrow I start the first quarter of my junior year of college. So naturally, it’s time to do a little summer recap.

This summer has been a summer of healing. It has been one of deep sadness and grief. It has been a summer of a loss of identity, and a summer of renewal and growth. It has been by far the most difficult, and most rewarding, time in my life. And as  I turn a new chapter in my story, I stop and look at the one I just finished. I am overcome by how much I gained among all the loss, and how much I found within myself. I found the ability to feel deep depression. I found the strength to step out of that depression. I found self love, compassion, and courage. I found God more than I ever have before, and in that, I found myself, too.

The past few months weren’t like the summer before this one. They weren’t filled with days at the beach, and nights I can barely remember. They weren’t filled with friends, booze, and a deep urgency to lose myself in something external. This summer was about me; helping myself, loving myself, questioning myself. And not in an egotistical way. Not in an inauthentic cover-up kind of way. In a truly beautiful and honest way. In a way that will undoubtedly help me give myself more freely to others and all that I do.

I think the saying is true that time heals all wounds. But I also think there’s an important piece that is left out in that. It’s not just time that heals all, but time with God. Time with yourself. Time to feel, process, understand, misunderstand, start over, question, and begin anew. Time to develop a deeper understanding of your purpose, your relationship with who you are, your relationship with something Bigger, something Grander than whatever you’ve just lost. Time with the Infinite.

Perhaps you’ve just gone through something similar. Just maybe this post resonates with where you’ve just been, or with where you are. Or you may just be starting this journey. You may be in one of the valleys of your life, just wishing, hoping for another peak.

All that I can share is that wherever you are right now, that is exactly where you ought to be. This is a part of your story. And every story has problems, valleys, struggles, dilemmas. It wouldn’t be a story without those pieces. It wouldn’t be life without the downs to compliment the ups. So breathe. Be at peace with where you are. You will come out of this, I promise. And if you let the pain guide you, it may just guide you home. Into exactly who you are. Into exactly who you want to be. Into a true acceptance, peace, and happiness with the beautiful life that is yours.

ghosts hand

Dear you,

Yes, you. You know who you are. And I know that you’re reading this.

What a sad thing that this is our only form of communication now. You checking up on my life over the internet instead of having the decency to ask me directly how I’m doing and what I’m up to.

You hide behind your computer, your phone, your lies. You hide behind the version of yourself you give to the world, hoping nobody catches on. But I did. I caught on. And you ran –  far, far away.

By far, far away, I mean about 10 blocks. On the corner of fearful and immature. On the corner of closed, quiet pain, and self-told lies. How is it there? How does it feel to be you?

You’re broken, fragile, fearful. You’re dishonest, cowardly, hurtful. You’re nowhere near the version of yourself that you present. You’re nowhere near the man that you pretended to be. You’re a little boy in a man’s body. How discouraging, how disillusioning.

For a long while, I felt pretty claustrophobic in there, in the box that you put me in. The walls were airtight and it was pitch black. I could barely breathe, barely see, barely remember how things used to be.

I wonder sometimes if you’ll ever open the lid again – to apologize, to say hi, to say anything. 

Because you came and went so fast. I blinked and you were gone, and it’s been three whole months without a single call, text, word, concern, thought. Nothing.

It hurts to hear about the other girls. It hurts to know that you’re moving from one to the next, knowing that I was just one of the many. You cling and connect with someone, but you flee at the first sight of their flawed humanity. How cruel of you. How hypocritical.

But regardless of who you’re dating today, tomorrow, next week, nothing hurts worse than the silence. Nothing hurts worse than the unanswered questions.

Didn’t you ever learn how to truly respect another person’s humanity? Didn’t you ever learn how to love?

You have so many friends and acquaintances. A quintessential social butterfly you are, as people pine and admire you from afar.

You don’t let anybody close enough to see how incredibly disturbed and alone you really are. And when I came along, when I was the one person you let in, you made me believe in you, you made me believe in us. And then you sucked the life right out of me.

I’ve built a beautiful castle from the ruins you left behind. I’m the queen in my life, completely independent and happy without you. Free, honest, alive.

But I can’t help but wonder how it’ll be in just a few short days when the memories of the past are in the present once again. In your smile, in your laugh, in your eyes.

I wonder what you’ll do when you see me. I wonder what you’ll do when I’m around again. I know you once loved me, once cared for me. I know because of how distanced you’ve become. How much space you’ve put between you and I. So it makes it easier for you to pretend. But the space is closing in on you now, stranger, and you must now face the damage you’ve caused.

Dear stranger, you’re not a stranger to me. I know you. I see right through you. I understand who you truly are, and what you’re truly capable of. And one day, so will the rest of the world.

Truth always has a funny way of revealing itself. And you know what it has revealed to me? You have taught me far more than you could ever take from me. Thank you.

heart-breaker-1314312

There’s nothing in this world like falling in love. There’s nothing in this solar system like meeting somebody you have instant chemistry with. There’s nothing in this universe like receiving affection and attention from someone you admire. I’ve been there, and it’s wonderful and magical and beautiful.

Then it ends.

Love is a living thing – it ebbs, flows, breathes, falls in and out, and can cause some major damage. But there’s a type of love that never goes out of style. There’s a type of love that lasts through the thick and thin, the ups and downs, the valleys and peaks. There’s a type of love that will never leave your side if you treat it right. Since you’ve just gone through a breakup, it’s your job and your only job to nourish it back to life.

I’ve felt the kind of pain that only a heartbreak can prescribe: that pit in your stomach, the inability to control your seemingly overactive tear ducts, the questions and concerns and confusion and frustration of it all. I’ve been there, and it’s one of the darker experiences we face as humans, but it’s necessary. It’s part of the game, and it often times wakes us up to the important parts of life that we weren’t paying enough attention to. Don’t run away  from heartbreak, embrace it. And embark on the most important love story of your life: your own.

Here’s a step by step guide on how to re-establish self-love when you’ve lost love from someone else. These are the tips and tricks I stick to when going through a break-up, and it’s proven to not only be the most effective and the most healthy, but it’s also proven to make me a far better person than I was prior to the heartbreak. It takes some work, patience, and time, but so does anything that’s worth it.

Date yourself.

  1. Date yourself. Just because you’re no longer dating somebody specific doesn’t mean you have to stop going out. Take yourself out!  You don’t need anybody else to do that for you, and it’s time to remind yourself of your own worth without the constant reminder of someone else. See that movie you’ve been wanting to see, try that restaurant you’ve been dying to try, go on that hike or take that trip you’ve had one your bucket list for years. Do it. Date yourself. Treat yourself right.

Spend time with those you love.

2. Spend time with people who make you feel good. Spend time with those you who remind you who you are. You are beautiful, fun, intelligent, and authentic! What a blessing it is that you have more time now to explore yourself outside of a relationship. It’s important to surround yourself with a strong community at all times, but especially in times like these. So call your friends, your family, your coworkers, and see how much of an opportunity this is to spend time with the many other people you love. Those people will remind you how wonderful you are, too.

Remind yourself why.

3. During those moments of doubt and sadness, remind yourself why you broke up in the first place. Perhaps it was your choice, perhaps it wasn’t. Either way, the person you’re meant to be with won’t question your worth and you surely won’t question theirs. Write down all the reasons you’re better off out of the commitment, and read through it as often as you need to. Write down all the things you seek in a relationship and all that you have to give, and have faith that that relationship will come your way if you leave room for it.

Feel what you need to feel.

4. Sit with your grief. Allow it to pour over you in the moments that it needs to. Give yourself time to feel. Acknowledge the importance of your last relationship, even if it stings. It hurts because it mattered, but even very important experiences are meant to end at some point. Remember that ending this chapter in your life is just allowing your to start a new one, and as long as you decide it to be so, this new chapter is going to be so much better than the last.

Give yourself time.

5. Do yourself the biggest favor of all, and do not jump into the dating scene until you are completely over your ex. Don’t seek a new relationship to distract you from your last one; that will mess up all your hard work and defeat the purpose of allowing yourself to move on authentically and naturally! Do your own thing and stay away from dating for a while. Your next partner will come when he or she is meant to, so spend your time doing things you love with people you love. Give off the energy of positivity and light so that you attract the type of person who gives the same.

All right, so let’s be honest. You just finished reading these 5 steps, and you may feel a little bit better than before, but there’s still that stinging feeling in your chest that you can’t shake. I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t a quick fix. Processing your heartbreak is going to take time, and these steps can take anywhere from one month to one year. Give yourself the time you need. Your peace will come again, and you will be a better version of yourself for going through this pain now. You are now headed towards the rest of your life, and let me tell you – it’s going to be AMAZING!

dating deal breakers

L-O-V-E.

It’s why we’re all here, isn’t it? It’s what we all seek, right? It’s kind of the point of it all, correct? Falling in love – there’s nothing in the world like it. Staying in love – now that’s a whole other story.

I think about Love, a lot. I write about it a lot, too (click here, here, here). But my definition of Love has changed and morphed into something far beyond the romantic, sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of Love. Love has become synonymous with God, or the Infinite, for me. It’s taken a turn into my spiritual beliefs and practices now, and expanded far beyond what I initially saw it as. Love doesn’t necessarily mean romantic, and often times I think that those romantic relationships we have in our lives we mistake as the big L-word. At least, I sure know I have.

That being said, I am going to write about the romantic, date-y kind of love today. The sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g kind of love. I’m going to write about what stops love in its track. What makes me end a relationship. What I’m not looking for in a partnership. My dating deal-breakers. Duh duh duhhhhhh!

  1. First and foremost, my biggest and number one deal-breaker in any relationship is a lack of communication. If the person I’m dating refuses or doesn’t know how to communicate with me and/or I am unable to learn how to best communicate with them, it’s over.
  2. If there is a legitimate reason I have to fear trusting said person, then it’s nada. No more. Goodbye!
  3. If someone doesn’t want to know my soul, story, and mind before knowing my body, see ya!
  4. If our values don’t mesh well, if we don’t share a similar life perspective, then it’s done.
  5. If we don’t support each other’s goals and aspirations in life, nope.
  6. If we have completely different visions of our futures and what we want out of life, then it’s not the right fit.
  7. If we do not have authentic and raw chemistry, it’s a no-no.
  8. If we are not friends, first and foremost and beyond anything else, then it’s time to move on.
  9. Lastly, if we do not make each other better, if we do not bring out the best in each other, then that’s an absolute deal breaker.

Now I know this is a strict list, and I know that we are all fallible. It’s so important to recognize, appreciate, and forgive our own mistakes, as well as the mistakes of those we care about. I know that there are ups and downs to every relationship. But this list is more about deal-breakers that I look for early on in any relationship. These are things that I need to have a good sense of before becoming serious about anybody. This is my list of “no-no’s” prior to committing to a relationship.

I hope this list gets you thinking about your own deal-breakers when it comes to relationships. I think we often settle for companionships that aren’t necessarily of the highest Good for us, and I think that often has to do with the fact that we do not set up boundaries for ourselves prior to getting feelings for somebody. We don’t think we can find somebody who truly is the perfect match for us, the perfect ying to our yang, so we “take what we can get”, and worst of all, we rationalize those situations by saying that if so-and-so “loves” us enough, they’ll change.

We know our deal breakers, but we let them slide in most situations, and we let our demanding feelings lead the way. What is of utmost importance to remember is that there are billions of people on this planet. Finding the right companion for you isn’t a quantity problem, it’s a sorting problem. It’s a trial and error problem. It’s a patience and trust problem. Knowing your deal-breakers and sticking by them does a lot more for you in the long run because it weeds out the people that aren’t meant to be your match, and gets you one step closer to finding out who is. Time is our most valuable asset, so don’t waste it on people you’re settling on. Believe in Love in its Highest Form, and trust that it’s coming your way… But only if you leave room for it.