Self-Love Saturday: Developing & Maintaining Confidence…Keep Your Head Up!

Having confidence in myself has been a life long struggle for me.

No surprise considering how abusive my childhood and teen years were.

The environment I lived in just wasn’t conducive for a healthy dose of self-confidence to be grown and cultivated.

One way this has impacted me as an adult is that I walk with my head down and have a hard time looking people in the eye.  Even if my head happens to be up as I’m walking around my campus or down the street, it goes down as soon as I see someone approaching…it sinks lower and lower the closer they get until they pass me by.

I didn’t even take notice of this habit until about a year ago. A friend of mine who’s a therapist pointed it out and suggested I work on changing it. Breaking out of old habits to develop new ones isn’t easy, but I’ve found that walking with my head up has become easier as I’ve gotten more comfortable with who I am over the past few months.

This week I realized I was starting to slip back into my old habit, and since it’s not reflective of  how I’m feeling about myself these days, I made a concentrated effort to ensure I walked with my head held high and looked others in the eye with a smile as I went to and fro on campus, at Brennan’s daycare, walking down the street, running in the park….and guess what? It felt good and gave me even more confidence each time I did.

Like I always say, this self-love and acceptance journey isn’t easy, but I’m learning the rewards are so worth having and keeping in my life.

If you’re like me and need help walking with your head up in  spite of how you feel or what’s going on in your life, may I suggest singing and dancing to this song?

It’s been on repeat in my head and on my iPod for the past two weeks….and it definitely helps :)

So what about you? Do you have a habit good or bad that reflects how you feel about yourself? What do you think it says about you and how you feel about yourself? How do you cultivate confidence in yourself and even your kids? 

Self-Love Saturday: Learning to Live and Not Just Survive

Three weeks ago as I waited for my Human and Cultural Diversity class to start, I sat in a desk, staring blankly at my iPad screen, finger paused above the “submit” button, frozen. 

Can I really do this? 

I can’t afford this….

Yes, yes I can. 

All of my bills are paid. 

We have a refrigerator full of groceries. 

I quickly did some calculations on paper regarding Brennan’s upcoming birthday expenses and then looked back at the screen, staring intently at the “submit” button. 

I have enough. This won’t break me. I can afford this. 

I sat staring first at the total amount and then the submit button, my eyes darting back and forth between the two, my mind racing, thoughts loud. 

I closed my eyes and started to breathe very slowly to keep the looming anxiety at bay. 

In…..

Out….

And then above the noise, I heard it….In between pounding heart beats I felt it.

Calm. 

Peace. 

“You deserve this A’Driane. Stop surviving your life and remember to live it. It’s ok to live.”

It’s okay to live. 

I opened my eyes and hit the submit button. 

Relief and the tiniest pangs of excitement started sweeping over me as my confirmation number appeared on the screen and I stared at the itinerary outlined below it. 

Austin, Texas. 

I had just booked a flight for myself and Brennan to go to Austin, Texas.

A vacation. A six day vacation. To see some special people I love and care about, to see a city I hope to move to in the near future. 

Three weeks later, as I sit on my floor surrounded by clothes with an open suitcase in front of me, I still can’t believe we’re boarding a plane tomorrow and flying back to my home state. 

I still can’t believe I actually took a step outside of my wishes and daydreams and tangibly grasped ahold of them. 

I know you’re thinking, “big deal, you’re going to Austin. So what?”

The so what is this: Since I separated from the military in 2006 and had Brennan in early 2007, I’ve been slowly getting back on my feet. I’ve mentioned before that I was practically homeless at one point and I eventually had to move back home with my parents. Stepping back into the civilian world with no employment, a child to raise, and no place to call my own hasn’t been easy. I’ve spent the past six years much like I spent much of my childhood and teen years: surviving life and not really living it. 

I’ve been so preoccupied with trying to survive that I’ve forgotten how to live. Some of it is because I’ve had to in order to make it, but I’ve also forgotten how to live because I’ve let fear hold me back from really pursuing what I want out of life. 

I’ve let fear keep me in daydream mode, my mind filling up with wishes and hopes I’ve carefully stored away up on a shelf titled, “One Day….Maybe.” I’ve been so focused on priorities and being responsible that I’ve suppressed the part of me that actually enjoys life. 

Enjoying life….that’s something I’ve had to learn how to do while on this self-love journey. I grew up a military brat so traveling and seeing new places is something I LOVE to do. Stepping out and taking risks is a part of myself I’ve yet to really express, partially to circumstances but also to a huge amount of fear. 

I’ve always wanted to visit Austin…(living there is on my Life List for crying out loud) but when I realized I could make that happen by buying a ticket, fear and “what ifs”stepped in and made me question if I could really do it. I started to talk myself out of doing it, thinking that the more responsible thing to do would be to spend the money on something else…or save it. 

But the truth is, we’re good. For the first time in a very long time, we have everything we need with more than enough left over to save and play with. 

I realized from this experience how important it is to not let circumstances or situations keep you from living your life. I know there are parts of our lives that demand our attention and focus, but that doesn’t mean we are subject to just meandering our way through life, merely surviving from one day to the next. This experience has taught me to go after those things I’ve only wished and dreamed for, both big and super small, and I want to encourage you to do the same. 

What’s your passion? What do you love to do? Where have you wanted to go? What’s on your Life List? Are you talking yourself out of things because you don’t think you can afford to take a step in a different direction? 

I heard a quote by Lysa Terkheurst yesterday that said this: “If we think we have forever, we forget to live for right now.” 

Learn how to live your life and not just survive it. We were made to do more, to be more. We only get one shot. Let’s do our best to give it our all and make it count. 

Things I Like About Me

Just Be Enough has an awesome series going on right now that focuses on things we like about ourselves. Since I’m on a self-love journey, I figured this would be a perfect writing prompt for me to do. 

As you know from my Self-Love Saturday posts here on ‘Confessions, I haven’t and don’t always like myself….but I’m slowly learning how to by

  • Changing my expectations of myself
  • Paying attention to what makes me feel like…well ME
  • Being kind to myself
So here is my list of what I like about myself at this point in my self-love journey….
  1. I LOVE COLOR! GIMME COLOR!
  2. I LOVE  to dance.
  3. I’m goofy and silly. Laughing is my favorite thing to do.
  4. I enjoy laughing at things that would make a 12 year old boy giggle.
  5. I’m a veteran. While I didn’t enjoy being a cop, I did really enjoy serving my country alongside some pretty awesome people.
  6. I’m a painter
  7. I’m a writer
  8. I like my eyes….they are a really soft, light brown color.
  9. I enjoy bright eyeshadows (go back and take a look at #1)
  10. I have rainbow hair
  11. I am a good mother to my children. Oh it has taken me SO LONG and lots of therapy to be able to say/realize this.
  12. I’m a Prince fan
  13. I’m passionate
  14. I enjoy helping people
  15. I’m a fast learner and enjoy learning
  16. I enjoy cooking and baking….I make a mean veggie lasagna!
  17. I’m a bible geek
  18. I’m adventurous….despite my fears and anxieties
What do you like about yourself?  Link up and share!

Self-Love Saturday: Make a Self-Love Contract

While cleaning up the disaster zone known as my bedroom this week, I came across a notebook I hadn’t seen in a while. Curious as to what was in it, I started flipping through it and came across several entries from during & after my pregnancy with Alex.  I was blown away by reading what I had written during those times and it’s very clear to me now that I definitely had some antenatal depression, which is something I wish I had the courage back then to recognize and seek treatment for. Perhaps if I had, my experience with PPD & anxiety would have been drastically different. But it wasn’t and that’s ok because I’ve learned valuable things from it, I’ve met valuable people from it, and I’m able to help others by sharing my experience, so hey at least it served a purpose right?

Something else I came across that was rather interesting and rather inspiring was a sort of contract I had written out to myself. I’m not sure exactly when I wrote it, but reading it brought tears to my eyes, because it was full of love and compassion to myself, something that was missing a lot during the past 2 years.

So, since I was inspired by what I read, I thought I’d share it with you and encourage you to make up your own Self-Love Contract/Goal sheet. I updated some of it, especially the parts about beating depression since I now have a new diagnosis.

addyeB’s Self-Love Contract

I, A’Driane Nicole Dudley,  agree to do the following:

  • Believe that I am an awesome person.
  • Believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who loves me tremendously
  • Believe that I am a good woman, even with all of my flaws & imperfections
  • Will be confident in my abilities as a woman, mother, Christian, student, writer, dancer, etc
  • Believe that I am beautiful. Really.
  • Battle stigmas surrounding mental illness
  • Take my medications everyday
  • Attend every therapy appointment unless an emergency occurs
  • Read God’ word everyday, even if it’s just one line!
  • Talk to God daily
  • Smile at least once a day
  • Be colorful-from my hair, to my clothes & accessories, to how I decorate my house…I will live in COLOR
  • Will allow myself to make mistakes & give myself room to learn from them
  • Be a strong, loving & nurturing mother for my boys without smothering them or inhibiting them from being who they are.
  • Attain my degree in social work, a masters in counseling, and a certification in DANCE movement therapy
  • LOVE myself
  • Be KIND to myself
  • Share my stories with others. Live wholehearted. Be vulnerable. Be open. Reach out. Advocate for others & myself.
  • “Recover” from Bipolar Disorder through compliance, exercise, nutrition, a structured routine, and coping strategies.
  • Dance at least 2-3 times a week.
  • Love my muffin topped, overstretched, tiger striped belly…because I’m a real woman and this belly housed my incredible boys. I will appreciate my body for what’s it’s gone through and given me.
  • I will paint-even thought I have no idea what I’m doing. HA!
  • Yoga…lots of yoga. Only doing exercises that work with my body not against it.
So that’s my contract. It’s not set in stone and is open to adjustments, additions, etc as time goes one. It’s kinda like my life list, but it’s a LOVE list. To me, and for me. To print out and put up where I can see it every day and remind myself to LOVE….ME.
Do you have a list like this? Would you do one? What would you put on it? Feel free to share!
p.s. A few months ago I wrote a SLS post about dying my hair and living my life in color…can I tell you that that decision was the BEST one I’ve made like, EVER? It’s been such a freeing experience y’all. For years I wanted to dye my hair and express my creativity in that fashion but either couldn’t or was too afraid of other’s opinions…now? Look at me :) This is truly what it feels like to live outside the corners of your mind…

Yea you can call me Rainbow Bright...

Self-Love Saturday: Paying Attention is Everything

“Is there anything else you can suggest I do to find out what goes in my Box? I mean, how will I really know it belongs there? How will I know it’s really….ME?”

“Well, I really think the best thing you can do is to just really start to pay attention to yourself when you’re in a situation. What kinds of things catch your eye in the store, or when you’re surfing the net? What do you find yourself reading? What lifts you out of a low mood? What kinds of things stabilize you? When you encounter such things or are in certain situations, try to take a step back and pay attention to how you feel.  Try to notice the kind of physical and emotional response you’re having to what stimulates and depresses you…notice even, where you feel these particular emotions. Are they in your heart? In your stomach? Yea…I think you just have to start really paying attention. Your body will tell you, you just have to listen.” 

 That’s a snippet of the conversation I had with my VA therapist on Tuesday. Since my focus the past month or so has been on finding out what goes in my Box of All Things A’Driane, I took her response to heart and really tried to focus this week on doing just what she said: pay attention & listen.

Between Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday I learned that……

  • While I want to be a counselor/therapist and help people one on one, advocating for groups of people, learning about people & their experiences, and helping certain populations of people is a passion of mine. The population I want to advocate for the most?  Women-women who are mothers, women veterans, women who have been abused, and women who live & struggle with mental illness. I fit into every one of those categories, so it only makes sense that I would feel impassioned to help those in these areas, right?
  • I have a heart for abuse victims and their rights. The PSU controversy this week left me in a stew of emotions, mostly anger and a yearning to take action in some way so their rights and their voice could be heard. Again, considering my experience with sexual abuse & molestation, it makes perfect sense.
  • I’m not a one dimensional person and have to be around people who are as diverse as I am.
  • I’m a creative person, so that means I’m an expressive person. I like to express myself through my hair (hence the fro and wild colors) and through what I wear. I like wearing clothing that speaks to who I am and my personality. I recognized this when I first colored my hair a few weeks ago, but also this evening when I saw this shirt and my heart nearly exploded in joy:
Very much “me”, no?
  • Watching my sons be just who they are, expressing who they are gives me a warm and fuzzy in my heart and a nod of agreement in my gut that I’m doing the right thing as a parent. I wasn’t allowed to talk much less be myself growing up, so to recognize that allowing my kids to do something I wasn’t helped me see what kind of parent I am and want to strive to be.
So…on my quest to find out what goes in my Box of All Things A’Driane, I’ve started paying attention: to my thoughts, to my emotions, to how I respond inwardly to what’s going on around me. I can honestly say doing so even for just the past 4-5 days has really started to give me a clearer picture of who I am and how I can “feed” my inner self….It’s helping me see my inner moxie and even teaching me how to treat myself, which I think is pretty comforting and awesome.
Speaking of treating oneself, since it’s Self-Love Saturday, I thought I’d share a couple of things that speak to showing yourself some kindness. The first is a clip from one of my FAVORITE shows, Parks & Recreation…..
And the second is just a song that makes me feel good. It’s addicting, it makes me twirl around and sing at the top of my lungs and it just puts me in a good space…enjoy. And if you haven’t done so already, there’s still time to “Treat Yo Self” today, so find a way to do so, ok? Make it a “good life” in any and every way you can….

 

 

Self-Love Saturday: My Box is Full of Color

Remember a few weeks back when I posted about the journey I’m on to make it back to my Box?

remember this?

In that post, I talked about how I most of my life, what’s been in that box has been dictated by other’s, their needs, and how THEY wanted my box constructed. I mentioned that I’m not 100% sure what goes in my Box but I was starting to find out by streaking my way towards it….

COLOR!!!!!!!

Well, guess what? Dying my hair funky colors has helped me identify at least one thing that goes in my Box, one attribute that makes me, well, ME. If you really know me, it’s probably not a huge surprise, but

COLOR…

BRIGHT…

BOLD…

BEAUTIFUL…

LOUD…

Color belongs in my life. It’s at the core of what makes me A’Driane. Lots & loads of color. Gobs of it, probably so much that people would label me tacky, but I don’t care anymore, I’VE GOTTA HAVE COLOR! From how I decorate my living space, to how I wear my hair, to the clothes I wear, they must have color…When it comes to fashion I’m forgoing all sorts of rules from here on out and am just wearing as many colors as possible, whatever feels and looks good. From bold eyeshadows to headbands, to scarves, to the rubber bands I place in my hair……..

Or the color that adorns my fingers and Barney Rubble toes…

O

hard to see, but they are neon orange!

I”ve just gotta have color. From my dishes  to my couch, to my lamps to my bed sheets, my apartment is full of splashes of it. I’ve spent years trying to downplay and even stay away from such boldness because those around me gave me the impression that it was inappropriate for a person my age. “Living out loud” and self-expression is for teenagers & kids, not for mothers approaching their thirties…..but I’m foregoing those thoughts and ideals because they aren’t mine. They aren’t me. Dressing in normal colors and living in clean, modern, sophisticated living spaces might be for some people and that is totally ok. For me though?

Give me color or give me death is the motto I’m adopting.

I wasn’t allowed to express myself growing up, and so I thought the need to do so through what I wore or how I styled my hair was just a phase I needed to get out my system. But the more I’ve been thinking about it, and about my personality, I know it’s something more and I’m finally in a place of acceptance about it.

Being surrounded by and wearing bold, brightly hued, rich & warm colors is a coping strategy for me as well. It creates an environment for me and my boys that breathes health and life, creativity and  expression. I’m hoping that surrounding us with a spectrum of color blinds the dragon of BP so it stays deep in it’s cave. I’m learning fast that mental illnesses like BP are genetic, and being as though schizophrenia and depression run in at least one side of my family, (and I strongly suspect BP runs on the other side) I want to give the boys as healthy of an environment as possible. One that breeds creativity, love & warmth. I want my boys to have that. I want them to look at me and always know that self-expression is okay. Living out loud is okay. Passion is okay. Creativity and thought are awesome and worth pursuing wholeheartedly. Splashing our lives with color is a way to do that.

So, on this Self-Love Saturday, I refreshed my blue & pink streaks in the ol’ Afro, and even added some more. I went through my closet and tossed out every drab, grey item I could find. I promised myself that from here on out, only color goes in the closet and on my body.

We only live once y’all. We only get one shot to do this thing called life. I’m determined to live mine as wholehearted and colorful as possible, Bipolar and all :)

AfroMama & Always Colorful (taken w/my ClassicINSTA iPhone app!)

Self-Love Saturday: Streaking My Way Back to the Box

It’s Self-Love Saturday so guess what we’re going to talk about today?

Streaking.

Have you ever gone streaking?  Before today I never had. Yep, that’s right, I’m going streaking…actually at this moment I am streaking. It’s already done, so I can’t go back. Where am I streaking to?  The box. My box. Let me explain…

Aside from an insane amount of schoolwork & midterms to get through this week, in the back of my mind, I’ve been pondering some things.  Nearly three months after my break up, a move, a diagnosis, and starting my next round of educational pursuits, I find myself asking: ” Ok….now what? Where do I go from here?” I’m looking at my new surroundings, the new people I’m meeting, the school I’m attending, my degree program, my boys & myself, and I find myself wondering how I navigate this new terrain, and even wonder if I know where I’m going. I have a map to guide me, but parts of it are missing…or rather, parts of ME are missing & I need to get them back in order to complete my journey.

Parts of me are missing…M.I.A….hidden…..lost….buried under the tangled webs of other’s opinions & expectations. Smothered even, under layers of guilt, shame, sadness, and anger over things I’ve done and things that have been done to me. Parts of me are missing. Important parts. Vital parts. Parts that make me who I am, parts that complete the picture, complete ME.

My therapist must have been reading my mind. When I walked into her office on Tuesday & we started chatting, she asked me if I had “the boxes.” Huh? Boxes? What boxes woman? She reached in her desk and pulled out sheets of paper that had several boxes with word in them….the first box looked like this:

Where it all began...

The other boxes had lots of stars, arrows, more words, & more lines, like this one:

And then the final one looked like this:

where'd the original box go?

As I sat there staring at the piece of paper with boxes on it, she gently said to me,” A’Driane, do you know what happened to your original box?”

Ummm…no.

“You see, inside the first box is everything that is important to us, what we value, what makes us who we are…it’s US. And we place a boundary around those things.  But sometimes, as you can see from the second picture, when we are involved in friendships & relationships with significant others or family members, that boundary line gets distorted and moved.”

Ok, I get that…but how do they get moved And where did the extra boxes or lines come from?

“Our boundary lines shift as we interact with those in our lives. The shifting is sometimes necessary but it can get ugly and become unhealthy very quickly if not shifted for the right reasons. You see, the more you do something that you don’t want to do, the more you do things that make who YOU are at the core uncomfortable, the more you compromise yourself for someone else & their feelings & comfort, the more your own boundaries shift, and the further away from the box you get. Make sense?”

I think so…so what I’ve been doing most of my life and in my relationships…and family is shifting my boundaries around in an attempt to get validation, love, acceptance, or anything like that?

“Yes. How do you feel knowing that?”

Well it explains why I’m angry with people….angry with my ex…matter of fact with all the men in my life except my boys.

“Do you think it explains anything else?”

It explains why I don’t have a box anymore…or if I do, it’s buried under all this other crap I’ve been doing & what I’ve been basing my life off of.  I’ve been compromising myself thinking doing so would make  a person change or make people change their opinion of me, but….

“But?”

But it hasn’t…it hasn’t gotten me anywhere but….but feeling trapped inside all these boxes I created by ignoring my own….and being angry, hurt, & disappointed about it. Feeling lonely because of it…

(sigh)

(silence)

“I think you know what you need to do, don’t you?”

Yep. Gotta go back to the box.

My original box. The one that houses all things A’Driane & who God made her to be. Good, bad, whatever, it’s all there. And I’ve got to stop shifting my boundaries in a way that’s detrimental to my well being. That’s not self-love, not at all.

At the beginning of the year, I didn’t make any resolutions. Instead I chose one word: COMMITMENT. That one word has been my quiet focus all year-even during my lowest moments. God told me that He will give me beauty for the truckloads of ashes I have in my life (Isaiah 61:3) but only if I would be committed to Him sweep them up & carry them away. It hasn’t been easy-it’s been pure hell to be honest. But even during my lowest & darkest moments, He would remind me of His promise, my word, & I would keep going.

Today I solidified that commitment by going streaking. I’ve always been a woman who loves to express herself through her hair. So it only makes sense that I would finally put blue streaks in my hair. Why blue? Because a group of bloggers have been going blue since last month to raise awareness for mental health & suicide prevention, and I am proud of and have been emboldened by their efforts. Because I know what it’s like to live with a mental illness. Because I  want to help those who have suffered trauma, abuse, & mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder. I’m going to school for counseling, and I want to be a dance movement therapist who helps people heal & cope through movement & dance. I’m committed to ensuring my mental health is where it needs to be & to helping others do the same.

I also put purple/pink streaks behind the blue ones. To remind me & to show others that there’s always hope, there’s always LIFE, there’s always LOVE, there’s always joy behind the blue-we just have to work to see it…to live it…to be it.  The purple/pink also symbolize my commitment to self-love, owning my story, & living a wholehearted lifestyle. I know I can, and I believe that the past 3 months I’ve gotten the tools I need to live it.

But in order to do that, I’ve got to get back to the box. To what makes A’Driane, A’Driane.  So I can find the parts of me I’ve put away on shelves & wipe the dust of abuse, of mental illness, of mistakes, of pain, of anger, of LIFE away. So He can make me whole.

I’m streaking my way back to my box, but what about you? Is there a part of you lying in storage or up on a shelf somewhere? Something you put away because life shifted your boundaries & you never shifted them back? Do you feel trapped by all the boxes you see around you now…do you wonder what happened to yours? If so I would encourage you to take some time to reflect and take inventory…if you’re missing some parts of yourself, I’m sure you can find them again-you just have to go back to your box.

what's in your box?

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.