Ask for what you need

Sometimes we’re afraid to ask for what we want from people and relationships and friendships because we’re afraid the other person will leave if we do. But part of being true to yourself is being willing to speak what’s on your heart in an honest and bold way, regardless of how the other person reacts. I’m not suggesting you make unreasonable demands and project unrealistic expectations onto everyone you know…I’m suggesting that you tactfully and clearly and lovingly convey your needs and wants to the people in your life who matter, because if they truly love you, they’re going to want to show up for you. And if they’re not currently showing up for you, they need to know about it. All relationships that are not two-way streets are dead end roads. If you’re working your butt off to stay in someone’s life who never makes an effort to stay in yours, eventually you’re going to grow resentful and frustrated and even bitter about it, and the relationship will self-destruct anyway. So isn’t it better to just honestly communicate to someone how you feel and give them a chance to respond in kind?

What (Most) Women Really Want

What (Most) Women Really Want

In my humble opinion…it’s not a big mystery.

We want to be pursued. Not endlessly asked to “hang out.” (And especially not asked to “hang out” at 3:00 am.) We don’t want to be treated like “one of the guys.” We want to be your LADY.

And we want to be treated like it. We want a little time invested into the plans. And I said time, not money. We don’t care if it’s dinner at Olive Garden and a Redbox rental, as long as you put a little thought and effort into it.

Please pick us up and come to the door. When you honk the horn to alert us you’re there, we feel undervalued or like we’re responding to a cattle call. And we aren’t cattle. We’re ladies.

Please open the car door, and the door to the restaurant. Bonus points if you pull out our chair. And EXTRA bonus points if you stand, old school-style, when we excuse ourselves to go to the restroom.

We want you to pay for dinner. At least the first few times. We don’t feel entitled and we won’t just assume that you’re going to. In fact, we’ll offer to pay half…but it gives our heart that extra flutter when you won’t hear of it. We love to be reminded that chivalry is still very much alive.

We want to be respected. We want to laugh. We want to be flirted with. We love “good morning” and “good night” texts. (But we don’t love when texts always take the place of calls.) We like to talk on the phone late into the night, knowing we have to be up in three hours but not caring because we love talking to you THAT much. We like when you notice that we got our hair cut or lost five pounds.  We like to be winked at. We love intelligent banter and witty sparring.

We like when you like our friends. We love when you like our family.

When you ask us how our day was, we love it when you actually LISTEN.

We want you to have goals and dreams and ambition. You don’t have to have tons of money or drive a fancy car or shower us with extravagant gifts…but we want you to be passionate and driven to achieve something. We want to know that you’re willing to challenge yourself and reach for something greater. Even if you don’t catch it. (We’ll be there even if you don’t catch it).

We really love it when you come up behind us and put your arms around us when we’re sad, or stressed, or having a bad day.

We want you to have your own space to grow and become and dream. We want you to respect our space to grow and become and dream. We don’t need to be with you every single second of every single day. We want there to be healthy spaces in our togetherness.

(For a lot of us): We want you to love God more than you love us. We want you to seek Him more than you seek us. We want you to pray with us, and worship next to us in church, and remind us of how much God loves us when we’ve forgotten.

We want you to buy us little gifts, just because. A single rose. A surprise Frappuccino from Starbucks.

That scarf we’ve been eyeballing for a week in the window of the boutique down the street.

We want you to be our best friend, our safe haven, our calm in the storm, a shoulder to cry on, the killer of the spiders, the assembler of bookshelves when the only instructions that came with them are in Greek, the defender of our honor when we come under attack from the world or our boss or the mean person on the Internet.

We want you to love us even when we’re not being very lovable (because we’ll do the same for you). We want you to be willing to fight it out or talk it out or work it out instead of going to bed angry. We want you to be honest when we ask you if these pants make us look fat (okay…no we don’t).

This is what (most) women really want.

It really is as simple…and as complicated…as that.

Ladies, do you agree? And fellas…care to weigh in?  Sound off in the comments below!

Three Lies Single People Need to Stop Telling Ourselves

Three Lies Single People Need to Stop Telling Ourselves

Someone asked me the other day what I think are the biggest challenges that single people face. And in my opinion, the answer is simple: It’s the lies we tell ourselves (yes, I’m talking to myself here, too. See this for the proof). The constant broken record we have on repeat in our minds, all day long, as we search for a reasonable explanation for our seemingly endless singleness. Here are three lies we tell ourselves that are particularly hurtful and damaging to our spirits, our peace of mind, and our self-esteem:

• Thinking there’s something wrong with us because we’re still single. 

• There’s nothing wrong with us because we are still single. It is what it is. There’s no deep explanation here or hidden secret. We’re not concealing a hump on our backs or cloven hooves or a third eye (okay, well, hopefully we’re not. But even if we are, dang it, we’re still worthy of love!) Singleness is not a curse thrust upon us. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s not an insult or a weapon to be hurled at us, as our society unfortunately often does (particularly when it comes to social media. You wouldn’t believe how many times people have disagreed with something I’ve tweeted or posted and have retaliated with “Oh, so THAT’S why you’re still single!” – in an effort to hurt me by using the area of my life in which they think I am the most vulnerable.) And you know what? Singleness IS an area of my life where I am vulnerable, because I don’t understand it. Not being coupled up at age 24 makes no sense to me, and sometimes it causes me great distress and worry and anxiety to consider the fact that I might never be coupled up. BUT…not being coupled up doesn’t mean that I am lacking, or deficient, or romantically challenged. It simply means that I haven’t found my person. (Or my “lobster,” as Phoebe Buffay would say.) We have to stop blaming ourselves and carrying around the weight of feeling broken and screwed up simply because we haven’t yet found love. It’s simply not true. Certainly we all have room for growth and are all flawed and imperfect in our own unique ways, but that is true for everyone who walks this planet…not just us single folks.

• Thinking that our lives don’t serve a purpose unless we’re in a relationship.

• We matter. We MATTER. We have precious gifts to offer to the world that have nothing whatsoever to do with our relationship status. We might be SINGLE but we are NOT “singular” in any way. We are multi-dimensional, unique, talented, purposeful, meaningful people with hugely important lives and destinies. A relationship can certainly bring us great happiness and fulfillment and even new purpose and meaning…but we are here to bring those very things to the world around us, just as we are. And sometimes our unattached, unencumbered single lives can have even MORE purpose than our future married lives, because we are able to wholeheartedly and without distraction pursue our passions, our calling, our dreams. Our greater purpose. A relationship can someday ADD to that, but it cannot and will not ever define or replace your greater purpose. There is something you and only you are meant to do with your life that isn’t dependent upon a relationship to make it happen. Like I always say: You don’t need a significant other to lead a significant life.

• Thinking that we have to wait around for a relationship to realize our destiny.

• It’s time to stop waiting and start LIVING. Yes, two people coming together is a beautiful thing…but so is one person standing boldly in their purpose. You don’t have to merely sit idly by and wait for the day that a prince comes riding up on his white horse and the two of you gallop off into the sunset of your destiny. Your destiny is in the here and NOW. God wants to do something powerful with you and for you and through you NOW. Today. This moment. Right now. I don’t know what it is, I can’t possibly tell you what your destiny on this planet is, but I CAN tell you that had I not made the choice to follow my passion and chase my dreams and pour my heart and soul into making the world around me a better place right where I was…you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now. I had to get past my singleness and decide that I had things to do with my life and I didn’t have time to wait around on a man to come along for me to do them. I hope with all my heart that someday someone will come along and join me in my journey, but I’m not going to hit the Pause button on my life until that happens. And you shouldn’t either. Do all the things you want to do with your life RIGHT NOW. Stop waiting. Because the truth is, a woman who creates a full, joyful, meaningful life for herself is a lot more appealing than a woman who waits around on a man to do it for her.

What are the things you tell yourself about your singleness that are holding you back from being the person you were created to be? Sound off in the comments below…

Women Always Know

Women Always Know

It’s kind of funny…the things guys think we don’t know.

Like when they fall off. Stop texting as much. Stop calling as much. Slowly begin to pull back. Even if it’s ever so slowly…a little at a time. We know. Even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves, we know what it means.

It can be even a slight withdrawal of time and attention, and we feel it. As women, nothing gets by us. We’ve been around this block a few times before. We know that you’re not just “having a busy day.” We know that you didn’t leave your phone at home. We know it’s not just simply that you have your mind on other things. We KNOW.

We know there’s someone else now on the receiving end of those texts and calls. We know your time and attention is going somewhere, just not to us. We know when we’re being juggled. We know when we’re being ghosted on. We know when the energy shifts from us to someone else, no matter how subtly. We know when you’ve lost interest. We KNOW.

It’s kind of funny…the things guys think we don’t know.

We know. We always know. And we might let you slide out of our DM’s as easily as you slid in. We might look the other way or let it go or choose not to let you know that we know.

We might even let you off the hook for choosing to disappear instead of just telling us you were going.

But we know. Trust that.

We’re women. Nothing gets by us.

Especially a man on his way out the door.

When Someone Ghost

When Someone Ghost

We’ve all experienced the inevitable ghosting by a guy. You know, you’re cruising along, things are going well, you’ve been texting every day, maybe even hung out a time or two…when all of a sudden, POOF. He vanishes, into thin air and into the night, leaving you wondering what you did wrong or what could have happened to scare him away and sometimes even checking obituaries because only death itself is a suitable excuse for him literally falling off the face of the earth. (C’mon. We’ve all been there.)

But what about when a friend ghosts?

It seems in this day and age of endless forms of communication, never has it been easier for people, and yes, even friends…to excommunicate themselves from our lives. I recently had this happen to me. A friend who I considered very near and dear to my life, someone I talked to almost daily and hung out with weekly and even traveled with, just one day disappeared from my life. I’ve been in this place in my life where I don’t want to do all the work anymore when it comes to friendships or relationships. I don’t want to feel like I’m making all the effort, doing all the inviting, always reaching out and asking and planning and coordinating. It’s exhausting. And it leaves you wondering “if I stop doing all of the work, would this person still be in my life?” And if the answer to that question is no, then was the relationship ever really that strong to begin with? I guess I got my answer with this particular friendship, because when I stopped being the initiator, the relationship completely fizzled. And that hurts. And left me wondering why I wasn’t more important to this person’s life the way they were to mine. But going through the upheaval that I’ve been through over this past year – all the changes and struggles and growth and BECOMING – it’s taught me more than a little bit about letting go. I don’t want to hold on to people who don’t want and don’t actively choose to be in my life, friends or otherwise. And I might have lost a few friends over the past year as a result of no longer being willing to carry the entire friendship on my back, but was it really a loss? I think some losses are really gains in that we gain back time we were investing in the wrong people and energy spent worrying about why they never seemed to quite reciprocate our efforts and even parts of ourselves that we lost in the frantic efforts to stay in someone’s life who wasn’t doing anything to keep us in theirs.

The really crazy thing is that my adventures in online dating with Bumble are teaching me a lot about letting go, too. The hard truth that I’ve learned through this process is that some guys are simply going to disappear with no explanation and there’s nothing I can do about it and no point in trying to understand it. Sometimes I’m going to think a meet-up or a date went really well and then I’m never going to hear from the guy again. It’s not going to always make sense and I’m not going to always get an answer or closure. That’s just life.

And so it goes with all people who ghost. A pretty wise woman once said: “Your peace is more important than driving yourself crazy trying to understand why something happened the way it did. Let it go.” (In case you were wondering, that pretty wise woman was me, haha!) So whether it’s a friendship or a relationship…here are a few tips for surviving a ghosting:

• Ask yourself: Did I do anything wrong here? Is there perhaps something that happened that I need to own up to and apologize for? Did I alienate this person in any way? If so, do what you need to do to make it right. Sometimes when we get really honest with ourselves, we realize that our own actions played a role, however, minor, in the other person’s retreat. HOWEVER, I will say this. When someone ghosts and completely vanishes from your life without a trace, typically there was nothing you did to cause it and nothing you could have done to stop it.

• Make peace with the fact that you may never know why they disappeared, stopped texting, stopped calling, and never talked to you again. Maybe they were going through something in their own lives that caused them to isolate themselves. Maybe another friend or relationship came along and distracted them. Maybe they were intimidated by you and didn’t see a place for themselves in your life. Or maybe it was none of the above or all of the above. The point is…you’ll likely never know. So you can beat your head repeatedly into a wall trying to figure out the un-figure-out-able, or you can simply let go and move on with your life.

• Realize that as horrible as this ghosting feels, this person’s retreat from your life does not have to completely devastate you. You have other options, both in love and friendship. Look around at the amazing people already in your life who DO make an effort to be there. Hey! Now you have more time to spend with them. And if you are in need of new people in your life, love and/or friendship might just be a swipe away. Give Bumble a try! Even if you’re not looking for love, the Bumble BFF function is awesome for making new friends. It’s HARD to make friends as an adult, and BFF takes all the work right out of it. I met one of my best friends on Bumble BFF, and if she’s the only thing Bumble ever brings into my life, it will be enough. You have to be willing to put yourself out there a little and try new things if you want to meet new people. Nothing worthwhile in life was ever achieved by staying safe inside your comfort zone!

At the end of the day, just know that a friend or a romantic interest ghosting says nothing about you and everything about them. If they couldn’t even take the time to explain why they needed to exit stage left of your life, they’re not worthy of being in your life. Don’t hold a place for them. Move on to all the people and relationships and friendships that are rewarding and life-giving and always reciprocal. They are out there, I promise. You just might have to swipe right or left a few times to find them. 

Questions to stop asking for greater success and happiness

Questions to stop asking for greater success and happiness

We’re often told that asking the right questions is critical to our success, but an equally larger (or bigger) factor can often be asking the wrong questions – or else the right questions at the wrong times. These are questions that seem to have merit but actually derail your focus, motivation, and productivity.

If you feel like you’re struggling to find answers in your life, then one easy place to start is by eliminating these 3 questions:

1. “How Do I…?”

Many years ago, a young speaker was working as an intern for his mentor. He wanted to be as successful as his mentor, so he worked his tail off, trying to build up his skills and abilities as a speaker. At least once a month, he would ask his mentor this question: “How do I become as great a speaker as you are?”

Every single time, his mentor would give him the same reply: “You’re not ready.” This continued for a few years – much to the frustration of the young speaker. Then one day, the young speaker was fed up and told his mentor,“I’m coming for you. I’m going to be better than you are.” At this moment, his mentor replied: “Now you’re ready.”

The point of this short parable is that asking “how” to do anything is often a way of avoiding true commitment. Obviously, there is a time and place for learning how to do something, but the first step is to commit to the outcome – even before you know how you’re going to do it.

For example, if you find yourself constantly asking how to grow your business, then chances are that you’re not actually doing enough. After all, when you’re doing everything you can to reach a goal, your most common question will be a retrospective one – why an experiment did or didn’t work. Commitment is the first step. Once you’re committed to doing anything – from building a business to getting in shape – you will always figure out a way to get it done.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

2. “Is This My Passion?”

Surely, you should want to find what you’re passionate about, right? After all, that’s one of the common suggestions for being happier and more successful. The thing is, passion and fulfillment typically come AFTER the hard work that leads to success. In his book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” Cal Newport illustrates this through a bunch of research and also this now well-known story…

In 1975, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple. However, at the time, Jobs was passionate primarily about spiritual retreats and meditation, not at all about computers or business. Steve Jobs co-founded Apple because a great opportunity came along at the time to sell assembled hobby computers, and Jobs wanted the extra income.

Now, of course, Jobs went on to love what he did, and in his famous Stanford commencement speech, he emphasized loving what you do. But like so many others, he grew to love what he did because over time and with diligence he became great at it, was recognized for that greatness, and was afforded the opportunity to change and improve the lives of others.

None of this is to say that you should spend your life doing things you hate, but please don’t hold off on doing something just because you’re not sure if it’s the thing that you’re most passionate about. Get started, become great at whatever it is you do, and success, happiness, and even passion will follow.

3. “Am I the Right Person to Do This?”

Sure, we all have some innate skills and characteristics. Some of you might not have the physical characteristics to lead a basketball team to a championship or have the training and talent to be a world-champion chess player.

However, apart from a fairly narrow range of circumstances, this is one of the most limiting questions you can ask. In effect, you’re using your past to limit your future. The truth is that none of us are “perfect” for any task, business, or project, but if you’re committed to making it happen, then you’re absolutely the right person.

I was an attorney for many years before my wife and I started a food manufacturing company, 2 magazines, and a nutrition company. I promise that my time in law school didn’t prepare me for any of that.

Likewise (but much more poignantly), John D. Rockefeller had no business becoming an oil magnate or one of the richest people in history. Born to a father who sold elixirs as a traveling salesman, he became a bookkeeper at the age of 16 and decided to start a business at the age of 20. From there, he went on to dominate the oil industry.

You might not yet believe that you have it in you to be the next great entrepreneur, writer, celebrity, or politician. That’s OK. Belief comes with experience and success, which all starts by never asking this question in the first place.

“You can do anything if you have enthusiasm.” – Henry Ford

Get Moving

As much as anything else, letting go of these questions is all about getting out of your own way and getting the ball rolling. All 3 of these questions are common forms of resistance that can stop or stall your progress, even though they seem like reasonable questions to ask yourself.

There are always more things to know and learn, and there will always be more questions to ask. Nonetheless, the wrong questions will take you on long detours off the path to success.

Your turn. What questions have stalled your progress, and what better questions have you replaced them with?

Self Love 💖

I am enough.

In all of my forms–daughter, sister, friend, writer, traveler, lover.

I am good enough.  I am talented enough.  I am confident.  I am kind.

I seek knowledge.  I show compassion.

I fail.  I get back up.  I am perfectly imperfect.

I know who I am and what I stand for.  I know what I need to change.

I don’t know it all.  I can never know it all.  I admit when I don’t know.

I know how to forgive.  I forgive myself.

I am enough.

Learning to Love Myself

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”  -Mahatma Gandhi

Inspired by a book I bought for $0.99 earlier this summer, I decided it was time to start loving myself.

And not just in the superficial sense of self-love, like exercising regularly and watching less TV.  It was time to really, fully and wholly love myself–top to bottom, inside and out.

To love myself to the point of waking up every morning with a heart overflowing with gratitude for all I was blessed with in life.  To love myself unconditionally–quirks, flaws, occasional potty mouth and all.  To love myself the way I hoped for someone else to one day love me.  Fiercely, and unafraid to show it.

But this story didn’t start this summer; it’s been a long time in the making.

Well before I stumbled upon this little $0.99 book, maybe a year and a half prior, another pivotal moment in my self-love journey had taken place on a beach on the coast of Spain.  A moment whose weight I didn’t fully comprehend until much later.

It was a brisk summer night and the sand was cold; I was in the midst of a heart-to-heart with someone I’d only known a few days, as tends to happen when you travel.  We passed a small bottle of booze back and forth in an attempt to keep us warm.  Or numb.  Or both.

I don’t quite remember how it escalated to this, but I distinctly remember crying as I looked out over the inky black sea.

We were talking about relationships and why mine–past and present–never seemed to go so well.  I had trust issues, compounded by the fact that I had a proclivity for attracting the untrustworthy types.

And then a rather unexpected question was posed to me, a question that left me speechless for all the wrong reasons.  Again, my memory of this night is a bit fuzzy after all this time, but the question was something along the lines of:

Are you happy with who you are?”

I couldn’t find the words to respond.  Not because I didn’t know the answer, but rather because I knew it instantly.

After a few suffocating moments of silence, the best I could do was shake my head “no” as more tears, now double the size, rolled down my face.

I didn’t like who I was or who I had been.  I most certainly didn’t love myself.  And it was in that moment I came to the crushing realization that it was all my fault.

It wasn’t for lack of trying.  I wanted to love myself–desperately, even.  But what I eventually came to understand was this:

When you’re making poor choices, choices that defy what you know in your heart to be right, you never will know self-love.

The months leading up to that moment in Spain had been particularly difficult for me.  I reached a truly low point in terms of my self-esteem, and it was all because of a series of choices I’d made–choices that I was not proud of, and did not reflect the kind of person I wanted to be.

And in that moment, those poor choices came rushing back to me all at once, swallowing me up in a tidal wave of shame and regret.  Sure, I might have cried first for my failed and failing relationships that night, but in the end, I cried hardest for the person I never allowed myself to become.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but a series of subconscious choices had just been made.

To start living up to my own potential.  To start making myself proud.  To start living my truth.

First Came Choices

Every day, we are choosing.  We may not choose our circumstances, but we choose how we react.  In fact, the only thing truly within our control is ourselves and our choices.  It’s all we have.

So even when other people hurt us, when our pain is the direct result of someone else’s choices, the choice is still ours whether we let that pain suffocate us, or if we let it go.  Move on.  Forgive.

For far too long, I felt the pain and emotional bruising from distant moments I should have long-since forgiven as sharply as if they had just happened yesterday.  For far too long, I held onto resentment, blaming others for my choices.

The choice to numb the pain with too much alcohol too often.  The choice to keep traveling when my body screamed to slow down.  The choice to spend undue time and emotional energy on relationships that weren’t meant for me.

I was all too aware of my faults, and for far too long, I had done nothing to correct them.  I was avoiding responsibility for the shitty outcomes of my poor choices which, as one of my favorite authors points out, wasn’t doing me any favors.

We all love to take responsibility for success and happiness…But taking responsibility for our problems is far more important, because that’s where real learning comes from.  That’s where real-life improvement comes from.  To simply blame others is only to hurt yourself.  -Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

That summer, a few months after that rude awakening on that beach on the coast of Spain, I knew my business needed to start supporting me financially or I would be up a shit creek (probably somewhere in the Serbian countryside) without a paddle.

And so I made the choice, over and over again, to put my work ahead of my own pleasure.

In hostels, I sat hunched over my laptop, surrounded by travelers hell bent on distracting me.  Other times, I purposely isolated myself.  I sat alone in the corner, or alone in my dorm room, or alone at the dining table in the middle of the afternoon when everyone else was out enjoying the beach.

Funnily enough, I still found plenty of time to enjoy myself, too.  But the best part of it all was the sense of pride that arose from finally making choices that aligned with what I wanted in my heart–for this thing called blogging to be my ticket to the life I’d been chasing for two years now, a life of freedom and being my own boss.

When I finally began making choices that I respected, my “luck” began to change.  Seemingly all at once, I signed four new client contracts.  For a brief moment, I could breathe again–I wouldn’t have to go crawling back to a “real” job just yet.

The positive changes that came out of that summer were all the reassurance I needed to know that I was on the right path, that I was inching ever closer to living my truth, to knowing myself, and ultimately loving myself.

Then Came Growth

As time wore on, personal development became my addiction.  I dedicated late nights and early mornings to my work.  In my leisure time, I read self-help books.

Much like the early lessons, the new lessons I was learning didn’t always register right away.  I had to chew on them for awhile to release the subtleties, the nuances, the complexities.

But all the while, I could feel myself changing.  I could feel myself growing more aware of who I was, how I acted, even what my heart wanted (some might call that “intuition”)–and that awareness allowed me to make better choices and know when to alter my course.

This summer, I bought that little $0.99 book.  I bought the Kindle version, except I don’t actually have a Kindle, so I read it on my phone using the Kindle app.  I read it every night as I laid in bed, this time on a Spanish island.

That book was called Choose Yourself, and it was written by a man named James Altucher.

You may not have heard of ol’ James, but he has founded many companies and made millions.  Some self-help guru, right?

But of course, as it always goes, there’s much more to this story.  James also lost millions.  Sunk businesses.  Destroyed relationships.  Lost his home.  Went through a divorce.

Of the 20 companies he founded, 18 of them were failures.  In 2008, at his lowest of lows and in the midst of the worst economic depression since the 1930s–with no job, no friends, and no money–he nearly lost the will to live.

His life insurance policy worth $4 million suddenly seemed like the best chance for his kids to have a decent life.

“There is no way out.  There is no way out.  I kept repeating it in my head.  I felt like I could will myself to death with those words.  But I couldn’t.  I had kids.  I had to get better.  I had to.”  -James Altucher, Choose Yourself

Feeling someone else’s pain, even through the vast distances of space and time, always helps put our own pain into perspective.  It doesn’t diminish it or make it any less real, but it helps us to realize that if someone can be pushed to such extremes and still find the power to choose themselves, well, so can we.

James developed what he referred to as “The Daily Practice” which centered around taking care of himself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  He was putting himself first, choosing himself in every way.

That month I spent living in a shared apartment on a Spanish island became my dedicated month of self-care.  I took James’s words to heart and began choosing myself in every way.

I curbed my wine consumption.  I put myself to bed early and woke up early.  I reintroduced regular exercise into my routine.  I practiced gratitude daily.

I found my way back to yoga, which has been perhaps the most transformative practice of all.

The very first intention I set on that very first day was the very thing that drew me back to the mat in the first place: to know myself.

One major difference between this new undertaking and my casual yoga habit of days past is that I no longer regarded it as a fitness tool.  Breaking free from that old assumption (and the desire to look good in yoga pants) allowed me to see yoga for what it really was: a powerful vehicle for self-exploration.

For me, it is the ultimate display of self-love, showing up on my mat for a moment of mindfulness.  A great butt and toned tummy–should they appear one day–would simply be a side effect of choosing

And my god, it felt so good to choose myself for once.  And that month of self-care?  It’s been extended indefinitely.

Good choices beget good choices, as it turns out, and what started as a painful personal challenge on a beach on the coast of Spain has now become something of a habit.

That’s not to say that life is fine and dandy as a result or that I don’t still experience deep pain.  I endure bouts of crushing self-doubt on a near-daily basis.  I torment myself with “what ifs” that have no right to take up headspace.  I still sometimes wonder–and maybe I always will–what if this all comes crashing down tomorrow?

But self-love is a process, one that will never be truly complete.  There will always be more I could improve, more I can learn, more kindness I can show to myself and others.

And in the vein of extending that kindness to myself, I constantly need reminding that yes, I am deeply flawed in many ways, but that is what makes me human, and I deserve love anyway.

I am still on the path to loving myself and to knowing and living my truth.  I can say in all honesty that I love myself now more than ever, and I know I will come to love myself more deeply in the future.

What’s most important, however, no matter where I am in the process of self-love is to remember…

I am enough.