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? 

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!

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.

20120202-221211.jpg

20120202-221224.jpg

20120202-221243.jpg

20120202-221318.jpg

20120202-221331.jpg

20120202-221353.jpg

20120202-221405.jpg

Dance Party Friday: Stronger Edition

This illness won’t get you…You are too strong…tomorrow holds the promise of a new day.”

My friend Kim’s words rang in my ears as I fell asleep last night, and were the first words that I heard as I awoke this morning.

The past 3 weeks have been a roller coaster ride with more loops than I’d like, some throwing my mental health off track, others reminding me of how fragile life is, as several of my friends and even my mother are facing serious health & life issues….and yet still others have forced me to face painfully abusive memories I’d rather forget, but can’t because working through them is the only way I’ll heal and be able to eventually forgive.

But….

You are too strong….this life needs you

I woke up with these words pushing me out of bed and on my feet. I looked around at my apartment, at the mess that accumulates during my lows, and these words directed each step I took as I set to cleaning it all up.

This illness won’t get you….You are too strong….this life needs you

I repeated them, over and over while taking a shower, combing my hair, painting my nails, eating breakfast, watching cartoons with my sick kiddo….until I finally felt strong, strong enough to keep fighting and keep moving.

A friend of mine told me on Facebook this week that she doesn’t understand how I can continue to hold onto a belief in God when I’ve been through so much hell in my life. She then asked me a rather poignant and difficult question: why does God allow bad things to happen?

Not wanting to give a cookie cutter answer full of Christianese, I waited and directed the question at God: “Why do you allow bad things to happen? Why do you allow us to suffer if you love us so much? Why God? Why have I had to endure so much pain, so many rough circumstances? Why do I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle with this illness and everything else? I’m tired God. I’m just tired.”

I spent the week telling God that I’m tired of being beat down and broken, but woke up this morning with Kim’s words guiding me and an answer…or at least some kind of theory.

You might not like or agree with my theory and that’s ok….but y’all I think we experience brokenness and pain in our lives as a reminder that we are human. We like to think we’re invincible but the truth is we aren’t.  What if we went through life never experiencing loss, pain, hurt, rejection, or a part of us that malfunctions and needs fixing? If we didn’t experience these things, I don’t think we would know or understand and value things like LOVE….we wouldn’t know how to be vulnerable, which would render us incapable of empathy and compassion for others.  We wouldn’t know how to care for one another, and be there for each other, and be able to bear one another up in times of need. Pain and brokenness….no one wants to endure or experience either, but without them as the fertilizer, seeds of courage, hope, love, empathy, and strength wouldn’t grow in us and we would be nothing more than calloused, cold, stagnant beings.

So we experience things that challenge us…that break us…that remind us that life is fragile and to not take it for granted, no matter what hand we’ve been dealt. We only get one hand in this poker game y’all. That’s it. Just one hand and one set of chips is all we get to bet with. It’s up to us how we handle what we’re dealt.

So no…I don’t like the fact that my meds aren’t working and I need yet again to keep searching for the right cocktail. I don’t like that I have to live with a condition that renders me incapable of wanting to live at times. I don’t think it’s fair that I had to endure abuse at the hands of men who were supposed to protect me. I hate that I have to struggle my way through life….

But guess what? I’m too strong, only because I’ve endured these things and am still here today, writing this to you. I’m strong. Only because I have been hurt and broken. I am strong because I have known pain and am learning  to use it as the bridge to vulnerability and wholehearted living.

I am too strong. This illness will not get me. My painful past will not keep me trapped and tangled. I won’t let it. Instead I’ll use it; to help others, to encourage and inspire, to empower those who have been through the same to overcome and choose to keep living. I’ve had bad things happen to me, but I’ll let them teach me how to treat and love my boys and others I encounter in this life.

I don’t know what you’re facing, or what you’ve had to endure in this life. But I do know that if you’re enduring it, if you’re surviving it, then I know for a fact that you are a stronger person because you experienced it. I know from first hand experience that if you spend all your time asking why, the pain will only intensify and breed more pain. Choose to use what you’ve been through to help someone else-let it teach you how to live wholeheartedly.

The hurt and pain won’t last forever. As Kim told me last night….it’s always darkest right before the dawn. So stand up. Dance your way through the rain drops. Your’e stronger than you think.

note: my video isn’t perfect..I just couldn’t get the syncing right for some reason today. so I apologize for my crappy editing skills. I hope you still enjoy it anyway. 

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: A Dose of Euphoria to Mask the Pain

It’s self love Saturday. It was a good day.

I started off feeling rather good about myself.

I laughed and played with the boys.

I danced. A lot. To my favorite songs.

I spent the day helping my ex run errands (you’ll find out why during Tuesday’s post).

We shopped for necessities.

It’s self love Saturday. It was a rather great day.

It’s funny how just shopping for what you need can lead you to toeing the line that borders euphoria….

Well….

I didn’t just toe it today…I stepped right over and into it with glee in my heart.

I wish the glee were authentic…

It wasn’t until an hour ago that I realized it was just my soul’s way of protecting me from the pain that’s eating at me like cancer. It shielded me long enough so I could have a pretty awesome day.

And even though I’ve cycled into a low, I’ll take the euphoria that shields me any day….

Because this pain…

Having to deal with the hell that is sexual abuse…..the flashbacks, the hurt, the shame, the ripping off of bandages that close unhealed wounds….

Is too much to bear at the moment. My therapist…she told me this might happen…that opening the box would illicit Pandora and all of her buried emotions…

It’s self love Saturday. I had a really good day….until a few hours ago when I realized how unprotected and alone I felt….when I realized that the only way to be made whole and to allow love, real love into my heart and life is to endure the pain of the past so I don’t reject my future.

It’s self love Saturday…it was a rather splendid day….

Until I got that phone call…

(please remind me to be kind to myself)

Self-Love Saturday: In Pictures

New colors in the ‘do…

20120107-184528.jpg

<a

Tea before therapy….

20120107-184613.jpg

Mani….

20120107-184725.jpg

Pedi….(FINALLY)

20120107-184758.jpg

Some inspiration on how to “embrace my different kind of beauty.”

20120107-184901.jpg

Snuggling on the couch with a sweet friend….(tasty too!)

20120107-190359.jpg

And that is how I’ve spent my Saturday, taking care of myself and allowing someone to treat me to some much needed pampering.

I needed it today. Therapy was long and intense because we started exhuming my experience with sexual abuse…and all of the emotions I hadn’t allowed myself to feel about it. It was brutal…but it was worth it because it’s time I processed it so I can be healed…move closer to be whole…

Wholehearted living…living and no longer just surviving…and learning to love myself through all of it. Those are the goals.

What about you? Do you have any goals or desires in the self-love department? Were you kind to yourself today?

Dance Party Fridays: Song Suggestions

I want to apologize for not having a dance video for you today….

If you read yesterday’s post,  then I’m sure you can understand why I’m taking a break today.

BUT

That doesn’t mean there won’t be one next week…and the week after…and the week after that…

In fact, I have a lot of nifty things I’m working on for Dance Party Fridays this year and I’m really excited!

  • Guest Dancers
  • Linky tool so you can link up your own dance video
  • Dancing contests w/giveaways and a chance to be featured here on ‘Confessions
  • a monthly “dance party” hangout on Google +

Next week I’ll be dancing to “Moves like Jagger” for Imperfect Momma over at Really? I’m a Mom?….

It’s highly probable my two BFFs Tori & Kelsey will be joining me for a little Risky Business a couple of weeks after that…

The always fabulous Joy Tanksley and I will be dancing together…(YAY!) Seriously y’all…she’s GOOD!

And I’m already working on concept ideas for “Shake it Out,” , and “Raise it Up” by the lovely Florence & The Machine….(think scarves & ribbbons…lots of color!)

So that gives you a glimpse into what I’m planning for the year…But I need your help, friends. I need to know what you want to see! I’m taking any and all song suggestions, ideas, you name it, I want your feedback. I’m even open to doing dance video dedications…know someone who could use a smile, laugh, or some inspiration to get their body groovin? Leave me a comment here or email me your request at bconfessions(at)gmail(dot)com. And if you’re a new reader and have never seen a DPF? Well head over to the Tag cloud or categories list & watch :)

I’m serious. I’m looking for all kinds of songs, any genre. As long as I can move my body to it, it doesn’t have heavy profanity, isn’t hateful, and is inspiring or groovalicious in some way….IT’S ON.

So bring it dear readers. Hit me with your best shot ( Hey, another song idea!)

and now….for some “dance biscuts”

and because I’m obsessed with So You Think You Can Dance, I thought I’d show a couple of my favorites from hip hop choreographers NappyTabs, a husband & wife team :)

(I WISH I had their skills, UGH! Fab. So fab.)

Tis the Season…For Love & Light to Win

Confession: I was supposed to write this post yesterday, but I got caught up in

  • Wrapping gifts I didn’t buy until Thursday
  • Sleeping
  • making HOMEMADE PopTarts for the-boys-who-won’t-eat-anything.
  • Sleeping
  • Wiping yards of snot from Alex’s nose
  • Cleaning
  • Trying to keep my emotions in check
  • Having theological debates on FB with legalists who claimed my heart ain’t in the right place if my behind isn’t in CHURCH on Christmas morning.
  • Having a dance/rock & roll/headbanging party complete with air guitar and fist pumping

It was a busy day, but the best one I’ve had since Monday night…when Alex spiked a fever of 103 that stayed til Wednesday WHILE suffering through an ear infection and lung congestion.  I hated this week and the way it made my life just ooze out of me. I’m so tired it feels like I’ve been pummeled with Chuck Norris’ fists.  The stress of it  triggered my BP which led to mood swings and a mental nosedive into a low. We won’t even talk about the side of holiday blues that edged it’s way onto the plate as well. (Me+ Holidays=Depression)

But I will talk about the fact that when  I woke up yesterday, I felt strength I hadn’t felt all week. It pulled me out of bed and helped me face the day…and Christmas.  It helped me quietly shake off the stress of the week and live free. I was able to laugh and enjoy the shenanigans that come with parenthood.  The reality of how different life is this Christmas still lingered, but I was able to avoid it’s gaze and focus on the good stuff….

…like LOVE. That strength I felt when I woke up? It was love. I could feel it emanate from deep in the center of my heart and start to spread itself to every corner, every dark place inside of me. I read somewhere this week that Christmas originated out of a week long festival or celebratory season of light’s victory over darkness. You know, the winter solstice stuff. While I choose to take this time of the year to celebrate the birth of my Savior, I can totally relate to celebrating light’s beating the crap outta darkness. Who wouldn’t? Yesterday that’s what I felt: God’s love for me shining bright and pushing back the darkness I had found myself in all week long.  It enabled me to take care of myself yesterday (on Self-Love Saturday) , something I’d been unable to do all week.

Wherever your source of love & light comes from, I really hope it finds you and fights for you when you need it to this holiday season. The holidays are rough to get through, especially if you’ve lost a loved one, are living with an illness (mental or otherwise), or have a loved one who is. Take heart. Focus on love. Let it triumph over the darkness you’re in. Allow it to lift and support you so you can TAKE CARE OF YOU….which will guarantee you can take care of those in need and those around you.

Spending Christmas single, and with my boys in two different houses definitely isn’t my ideal way to celebrate….but at least I still have love to rejoice over, right? From God, from my children, from my friends and other family members….I still have love.

And that?

Is enough. My prayer is that it’s enough for you as well.

I’ve been playing these two songs since yesterday, and they are definitely two of my favorites….

MERRY CHRISTMAS y’all.