Self-Love Saturday: Celebrate Uniqueness & Embrace Your Superpower

image credit: The Giant Bomb

“Mommie I really like your hair, with all the colors…It has my favorite color in it, green. That’s my favorite. Green & orange. You have those, right there and right there, right?” Awww thank you Bren Bren. Green is your … Continue reading

A Makeover

It’s amazing what a haircut can do for your spirits and self-image.

There’s something about getting the right stylist, one who does an incredible consult, listens to what you want done, and brings your thoughts and desires, spoken and unspoken, to reality….all while taking the time to chat and speak words of wisdom and life into you as they do so.

It’s been stirring in my gut for 3-4 weeks to cut my hair. My intuition had been telling me since my birthday back in December it was time for a change and to embrace something new….so I tried accomplishing that with more hair color, more bright, bold hues…but it still wasn’t enough and I knew it. I knew I needed something more and finally decided to make the chop.

I knew it was time because I could see that it wasn’t as healthy as it used to be. It was starting break off and just feel lifeless…heavy even. It wasn’t until this week when I realized why: I was still carrying around the baggage from the past two years…my rocky relationship and break up, my depression during and after pregnancy, my spiritual ups and downs, my struggle with motherhood, my struggle to untangle myself from and overcome my abusive past….I’ve been carrying all of that around with me since the last big chop I did in July 2009 and my gut told me this week it’s time to let it allllll go.

Cutting off the dead weight of the past two years is just another step in the process of getting free this year (see Dance Party Friday: Get Free Edition) and I’m do glad I went for it.

I woke up feeling bogged down by heaviness and am going to sleep feeling like a new me, a fresh and renewed A’Driane. Lighter, healthier, stronger, ready to face what’s coming next.

I feel like ME. I’m finally feeling cozy in my own skin and in who I am. And that’s the best feeling in the world y’all.

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You & Me: Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

Handling Adversity, Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots. In the second, she placed eggs and the last one, she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted they got soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mom?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–the boiling water–but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its insides became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which one are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like a coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

~ Author Unknown

I found this posted on Exceptional Living’s Facebook page and after the week & therapy sessions I had, I found this very appropriate to share & reflect upon today. 

So what are you? Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?

I’ve been trying with all my might to break the cycle in my family & in my subcultures (African Amercian & Christian) and be a Coffee Bean…..more on this in the next post….

Self-Love Saturday: Focusing on the Good Things

I don’t know what it is about Friday nights. We just don’t get along.

Nearly every Friday night since I’ve said I was going to start doing “Self-Love Saturdays” some craptastic event happens where I find myself struggling to either not fall into the gravity well of depression, negativity or miry yuckiness, OR I fall in and am struggling to climb out. It’s like once I put it out there, the universe or elements thereof decided to throw everything my way to see if I will stick with it.

Last Friday night was no exception. It tried my patience, I had a mild panic attack, and it ended on a pretty awful & frustrating note.  Today, I woke up to find Depression sitting at the foot of my bed asking if I wanted to hang out. I didn’t answer, but that didn’t keep him from following me around, clutching my ankles, making it difficult to be motivated to move. I’ve spent my day emotionally eating everything in sight, chocolate cupcakes included and although I have a mountain of homework to do, I can’t concentrate on it. Oh & I went to therapy today. Met with a “Christian” counselor up at my school’s counseling center. I’m not sure how it went to be honest. I say that because I spent the whole session snotting up tissues, hiccuping, & babbling through tears that wouldn’t stop spilling over my eyelids. So..I don’t know how that went….

BUT. Even though the pendulum has swung me a little left of the middle, and Depression has shown up for a visit, I’m trying not to let him unpack his bags and get cozy. It’s taking all of my energy, but I’m trying to just relax, absorb everything that’s going on with me emotionally & just….BE.  And focus on the GOOD things that have been going on in my life. There’s a scripture that came to me about an hour ago as I sat here at the desk vegging out on Twitter:

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

It pretty much reminded me that it’s ok to feel crappy on a day that I’ve designated to show myself some love & acceptance. That’s part of loving yourself right? To accept the good & the bad and allow yourself the space to feel & sort through things? To allow yourself to just BE? I think it is.  I’ve come to accept that I’m not going to be all rainbows & sunshine every Saturday, but I’ve also determined to not let it get the best of me. I’m learning how to balance the emotions & listen to what my gut is trying to tell me. I”m allowing myself to feel, and when you’re trying to untangle the stickiness of past trauma or recent hurts, feeling is part of that process-you can’t escape it. Especially if you’re on medication-for me meds have started to stabilize me, but that means since I’m not preoccupied with swinging back & forth between raging, intense emotions, I’m finally starting to see what’s around me. The dust in my life is settling & I’m seeing tons of boxes that need unpacking. Each one that I unpack in an attempt to recover & live a healthier life mentally & emotionally is going to expose me to facing some things that I haven’t before….or revisit some tangles I thought I had processed and unraveled.  Staring these issues face to face may cause me to feel some pain, may invite Depression or Anxiety to stop by for a visit, but that doesn’t mean I have to let them stay-or let their voices ring louder than the Truth. I may not be able to keep them from coming over during this season of my life but I can definitely ensure they don’t stay for very long or get to cozy in my space.

So today I’m doing that by choosing to do like the scripture says and focus on the good things. That doesn’t mean I”m ignoring the negative or painful feelings I’m having. I’m acknowledging them,but I’m keeping them in their proper context and space-making a conscious choice to meditate on my successes & the tiniest of victories enables me to do that.

What are my “good” things? Well for one can I just say that being on medication is FINALLY working?! I haven’t been swinging through the bipolar jungle like Tarzan for the past few weeks. It hasn’t been easy, but the rage, the uncontrollable mood swings, the sweaty anxious moments & panic attacks? Cut down significantly since I adjusted my meds last month. YAY!

I made it through my first month of school! It was crazy, overwhelming, & financially painful, but I made it! And I did it all while still seeing my therapist & psych at the VA, AND taking my meds EVERYDAY. YAY! I struggled, but I also recognized when I needed a break & gave myself one. I acknowledged my limits & still kept trekking along.

I have finally started to get over my ex and have let go of some old dreams & desires to embrace new ones. YAY! I’ve been listening to my instincts and trusting my own judgement when I make decisions-turns out I’m not as bad at it as I used to be or as I thought I was.

And the best part? I’ve finally bonded with Alex. I mean REALLY bonded. Bonded as in he comes up to me and gives me hugs, holds my legs, laughs & giggles when we play, I actually WANT to play with him….we’ve developed this closeness in the past 4-5 weeks that wasn’t there before.  It took me 17mos, but I have officially fallen in love & feel connected with my son. All of my worries about whether or not I had “ruined” him or our relationship because of my PPD, anxiety, & bipolar madness have disappeared. All of that frustration & agony I felt this summer, when I said it felt like I was stumbling in the dark? Gone. God has flipped on the light switch & all I can see is the love & beauty is placed in my life through my boys.

Speaking of beauty, last thing. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve struggled with my self-esteem my whole life & it’s taken a severe hit since having Alex. As you know, I’ve been working on that, and guess what happened?  This week, when the Plague was starting to release it’s grip on me, I took a picture:

I AM beautiful. Wow.

 When I looked at it, guess what I saw? BEAUTY. No makeup. Frizzy hair. Unwashed face. Swollen eyelid. Funky breath :) I was so glad to feel healthy again that I snapped this picture to celebrate & I captured a snap of myself full of joy & beauty. I mean, I actually SAW it. I wish I could articulate it. It was as if I had a blindfold on, or blurry contacts or something and all of a sudden they just fell away & I could see the real me. Flaws & all, but beautiful none the less. That’s not being vain is it? I hope not. It’s okay to say “I’m beautiful” with out being conceited, right? I hope so. Because that’s how I feel & what I see when I look at myself now. And when I buy a pair of Spanx next week-WATCH OUT! I’m bringing sexy back ya’ll….or at least my confidence! :)

Ya’ll God & His love are lifting & carrying me through this…it always has. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for it, for Him & how comforting it is to know that despite what I’m going through or what I feel, His love is there, like a banner over me, guiding me through the rubble. So that’s why I’m choosing to focus on the good things. I know He’ll help me manage the yucky stuff if I just keep my mind stayed to the right & not the left. :)

So those are my thoughts for today. Acknowledge the bad, but focus on the good. Meditate on what’s good. Celebrate the smallest of victories or otherwise insignificant moments. Embrace YOU. Just BE. And continue to love yourself through the process.

Don’t worry. We’ll get there. We’re on our way.

Sweatpant Crotch

Last week, I was watching this video my friend Susan  posted on her blog of her baby moving around in her belly. I know that sounds very alien-ish and icky, but it was absolutely adorable! It made my empty uterus feel the hollow yearnings of being pregnant and I started to feel the pangs of “Awwww, I miss being pre-” I hadn’t even got the sentence out of my mouth before Alex let out a wail mid-sleep and my right ovary tied itself in a boy scout knot…I took that as God snapping me back to reality & I left la la land immediately!

the almighty king of comfort

When we chatted a couple of days later, we talked about…..SWEAT PANTS! I mean we talked about other things, but we talked at length about sweatpants. About how awesome they are…how comfortable & warm they are…how easy they are to just slide on your body-there’s no tugging, inching, heaving & holding of breath to get them up & over your hips, or any of that craziness you have to go through when you want to rock a pair of jeans (let’s not even MENTION skinny jeans OK?!) Try sliding a pair of jeans on over hips that have birthed children…go head. I’ll wait…..

Now, when you’re able to pick yourself up off the floor & catch your breath, slide them back off somehow and slide into a pair of sweatpants. See & FEEL the difference?

yep, even rockin a pair from my school: PBU BABY!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like fashion. I like to dress a certain way. I have style. It’s a nerdy, bohemian, tomboy kind of style but it’s a style…one that I’m comfortable with. I like wearing makeup, especially brightly hued eye shadows…but let’s keep it real here people.

I LOVE SWEAT PANTS.

Period. Jeans are cool, but look if I happen to be in Wal-Mart or Target and I see sweats on sale for $6-8, I’m buying 10 pair easily. In different colors. I REALLY enjoy wearing male sweats because some less-than-bright crayon in the box decided women’s sweats should be form-fitting. NO THEY SHOULDN’T! That defeats the purpose! Sweatpants can be sexy just as they are, IF you wear them appropriately. And I do. So does Susan. In fact, it was the video she posted that made her realize that she’s been wearing them alot lately….AND LOVING IT. We also both realized that in the video was a perfectly aimed shot of her….sweatpant crotch. HAHA

working on the lappy-rockin my sweats

From that moment an idea was born. We decided to try something.  As mothers, as women, there’s this pressure to always look put together, like you can do & be all. We all know that’s not the case. But I bet nearly all of our Facebook, Twitter, professionally designed blogs & About Me head shots don’t give a complete picture of who we are. I’m guilty of it! I’ll admit to only taking pictures when I think I look presentable. But let’s be honest. I have two kids under age 5 and I’m a full-time college student. I spend the majority of my time picking cheerios up off the floor, buried in homework, and chasing after my kids. And I do it in sweats and comfortable sneakers, chucks or puma’s preferably. I admire Mamas who can strut around in the latest fashions and the young girls I see coming to class looking like they H&M threw up on them. But as for this mama? I’m all about the sweats, baby, especially with fall lowering the temps & winter just around the corner!

So Susan and I are starting a revolution. All you have to do to partake is throw on your favorite pair of comfy sweats, snap a pic & post it. Tweet it, Facebook it, blog it, instagram it, whatever. Just snap away and feel liberated & supported knowing there are at least 2 other women out in the world who are letting it all hang out there with you. You aren’t alone. You are beautiful no matter what you wear. You are gorgeous & sexy. Own it regardless of your attire.

I’ve posted my #Sweatpantcrotch snaps….head over to Susan’s place to view hers & read her post…then go dig in your drawer or reach up to the top of your closet shelf, grab your sweats & show them some love…they’ve missed you.

This is what a mother of two & a full-time student looks like most of the time. Honestly. It's how I bring sexy back, people.

Let the revolution to ditch perfection & embrace acceptance begin!

I make silly faces in the mirror. Because I'm 28 going on 5 obviously. My kids dig it.

More evidence that I'm not perfect. This is what my room looks like during the week...and sometimes on the weekends. I clean...but...

Perseverance

A couple of weeks ago I decided to change things up here on ‘Confessions and I put out a call for some guest posters, because quite simply, I wanted to highlight the amazing writing skills & insights of some of the intriguing women I’ve met in the blogoshere.

One of them, Susan, from Learned Happiness, is one such woman. She’s witty, her style of writing holds a beauty to it that brings me to tears, and her authenticity & transparency is to be admired. She describes her blog as a place “To own my story,” and how she does so is just one of the several things I find beautiful & respect about her. I hope you enjoy her post today as much as I do, stop by her blog, & follow her on Twitter. Please welcome her to ‘Confessions, ya’ll :)

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A’Driane and I met in the #ppdchat mamas group on Facebook.  In the months we’ve gotten to know each other online, I’ve come to see her as an optimistic, caring woman who wants to be so much to so many.  She’s honest, both with others and herself, which is a rare trait to find in a friend.  And her outgoing personality explodes through my twitter stream every morning as I drink my decaf.  I’m so excited to share what we’ve been cooking up.  A’Driane asked me to guest post a while ago, so instead, we are swapping guest posts, each writing in response to a photo prompt – a picture I snapped in a garden next to Arlington City Hall. I’m honored she asked me to write for Butterfly Confessions and hope I can live up to the task. 

A tree stands in a garden, nestled between stone buildings of importance and dignity.  Reaching out from a small patch of green near a brick pathway, its branches twist and turn in a ragged, unrefined manner.  The bark, speckled with spots of white, reveals its age.

This tree did not choose its lot in life.  If it had, surely it would have chosen a larger pasture, one which isn’t hidden in shadow most of the day.  A field, perhaps, filled with flowers and fed by sunlight and gentle rains.  Instead it was planted where even basic needs would be a struggle to fulfill.

And instead of withering, fading behind the shadows of the surrounding foliage, it reached its branches toward what little light dappled the garden.  Stretching out at an odd angle, its trunk carried the life-giving leaves up to the sun, until it could no longer hold its own weight.  The roots strained against gravity.  And then… salvation.  In the form of a simple wooden frame, erected in defense of this tree – in support of its persistence.

My husband says, “Its so sad.  Why don’t they just cut it down?”  Recoiling in horror, I look at him with shock and disappointment.  Can he not see the beauty in this tree, this being?  The beauty that instead of lying in youth or perfect form, lies in its strength and will to survive.  This tree, which has taken a beating from both nature and time, all the while fighting for life in the face of unfortunate circumstance, still has shade to give and leaves to nurture.  It is not less for needing buttressing, but more for welcoming it, growing up from its second trunk in gratitude. Its worth lies simply in its existence.

I wonder, would we have even stopped to notice it, had it been perfect?  No, most certainly we would have walked by, never noticing the beauty in its vulnerability.  I want to say, “We are the same.  I see your fight, your resolve.  Keep reaching for the sunlight; keep surviving.”  Instead I simply snap a picture, in awe of what this tree has taught me about myself in an instant.

Susan is an elementary teacher-turned-SAHM and private music instructor.  She is a postpartum depression and anxiety survivor.  Now knocked up with Baby #2, she’s kicking antenatal depression’s butt.  A lover of music, books, and art, she blogs at Learned Happiness about parenting and finding balance and happiness in a life impacted by mental illness.

To Him, I am Beauty…I am Worth it

” I know that you love me enough to die, and I will try to see, the value that you place on me…and you say I am worthy…You call me lovely, you call me friend, you call me out of death and let me try again, you call me Beloved, you call me clean, and you show me all the beauty that you see…”

I’m so glad that God isn’t like people. I use to think He was…but if there’s one thing He keeps reminding me, it’s that He’s not like people. Others may leave when it gets tough, when it’s too much, when I’m too much to handle, but He won’t. Other people can’t hang in there with me while I work through things…but He does. Others may see the beauty and value in me, but their vision becomes clouded by my struggles, my insecurities, my fears, my humanity, until they act as if that’s all I’m made of and they forget the vision of the real me, the A’Driane undearneath all the crap….but God, He doesn’t forget…He sees through the storms in my life…He sees through the depression symptoms, He sees past my moods, He looks beyond what I’m struggling  with now and remembers who He created me to be-He sees me on the other side, refined and purified by the fiery trials, the weathering circumstances of life, and He sees me for who I really am: Beautiful. Worth waiting for. Lovely. A woman with a huge heart who wants to do the right despite the mistakes she makes. A woman who has overcome, who has survived, who struggles but still tries, still holds on to life…and love…and faith. He knows me. He can handle me-the good, the bad, the ugly. His love for me is without pretense and lacks conditions. People may disappoint me, but He never does.

He will never, never, never, fall out of love with me.

And I can’t tell you how much He’s reminded me of that this week…and how grateful I am for Him. It has kept me and given me just enough intestinal fortitude to hold on…it has kept me when I’ve wanted to let go. Without His love, I would not be here. I would have given up this week.

This week has been hell. But His love is helping me through it and teaching me some very valuable lessons.