Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2017 Renewal Challenge: Self

We've made it, dear readers. It is the end of February, the end of "winter," the end of our 2017 Renewal Challenge. We slowly made our way around the house, cleaning, re-purposing, and releasing that which does not serve us. We spent time revisiting our eating habits and the decisions that carry our food from farm to table to our bodies. We examined the way we rest, paying extra attention to releasing guilt and allowing our minds to freely exist in whatever season we're facing. We reflected on the way we interact with others, specifically those who seek to understand us and provide our lives with light and love. We also took time last week to focus on refreshing our daily perspective, keeping our minds in the moment, and surrounding ourselves with the environment we need to find fulfillment.

This last step is definitely the hardest, at least for me.....this last step is all about self - acceptance of self, but more importantly, intentional, purposeful celebration of self. Buckle up, lovelies.

So I'm not the most patient woman in the world. I get emotionally bogged down in negativity, I get territorial, I get insecure, I get lazy, I get overwhelmed, and I get greedy. I change my mind a lot about what I want to do with my life. I start projects sometimes that do not get finished. I am aging and am physically softer than most men prefer. I really don't enjoy working out to lose weight.

Some of these things I intend to change. Some of these things I do not intend to change.

I think the key to accepting who we are is to acknowledge our flaws, decide which flaws we'd like to change for ourselves, put a positive spin on flaws we have no intention of changing, and then find forgiveness when we slip up and hate on ourselves.

I do hope to finish what I start more often. I hope to get rid of my insecurity sooner rather than later. I think silencing insecurity has a rippling effect on territorial behaviors. I hope to realign my thoughts with positive things instead of letting the dark take over. On the flipside, I will always be emotionally charged and reactive, it's ingrained in who I am. It makes me a great storyteller, a passionate person, a whole-soul lover. Happy Jen will always be physically softer instead of chiseled. My body is a comfortable place for babies and my curves are a physical manifestation of the peace and prosperity I am experiencing in my life.

Some things about ourselves can be changed, while other things simply are the way they are. Try and see the positive side to your flaws. They exist for a reason and sometimes that reason is something good...maybe even invaluable. Without my passion I would have no voice. Without my reactive nature I would have no urgency to my actions. Without my greed, I would have no motivation to go and get it, Jen....go get it. Invaluable, these flaws, for they provide me with the characteristics I need to propel myself along.

So you have things you'd like to change about yourself, yes? Me too. But how?

Just begin. Doesn't matter if you start to change and fail a thousand times as long as you continue to begin again. Try again. Make the effort again and again and again.

I struggle immensely with self value. I worry that what I do is not enough, either with my work, my parenting, my friendships, or as a daughter. What I provide, my mind tells me, is not valuable enough. I need to do more to prove I am worth love and effort, attention and time. I need to do more to prove it's worth it to be around me, even though I am sometimes moody, smelly, sensitive, stubborn, unattractive, crying for no reason, chubby, or any of the other things about myself that I perceive others find distasteful and obnoxious.

Somewhere in the far corners of my heart I know I have an enormous amount of value and that I am worth going to the ends of the earth for. But that voice of light is smothered by bombarding insecurities and worries fueled by my ability to quite consistently compare myself to what I deem "beautiful, stable, functional, worthy."

This flaw of mine drives me nuts. I am capable of projecting a confident, strong woman on the outside, but I want to feel that way on the inside, too. So I work on it. I avoid comparisons by purposely staying away from "fashion" propaganda - it helps that I have zero interest in makeup and clothing lines and shoes....unless....do chicken-patterned rain boots count?

I look at myself in the mirror each day and pick out one thing to complement myself on. I spend time reading or baking or puttering around in my yard because that is where I can center myself, those places are where nothing can touch me. I can reconnect to the core of my own beauty - I can paint an image of myself surrounded by my flowers and my children and my chickens and my dog and I can put to rest my worries that I will never be enough because in that image, I am everything to all of them.

I fall back into my flawed nature all the time. But then I wake up the next morning and start walking, one step at a time, consistently dedicated to moving forward. Always take steps!

Last year's challenge was centered around self-sufficiency. I broke down ways to become more self-sufficient with our food, homes, health, money, and time. There's nothing more freeing or beneficial to your sense of self than learning. Decide what you want for your life and then learn how to accomplish the dream. It doesn't need to happen overnight - in fact the journey is as important as the arrival point. So take your time. Read all the books. Make notebooks. Listen to others. Learn how to build things yourself. And be sure to glance back to see how far you've come...that is the most magical part.

Build Confidence
I had to brainstorm some confidence-boosting tricks last summer when my new single-mama status had me feeling down. If you don't have time to click the link to that post, that's ok. Here's a quick and basic run-down of my tips, which I will repeat here for myself because I forget my own advice constantly my lovely readers because I love you.

Positive People - yep, get with them
Be Alone - get comfy in your own, independent lil' skin
Music Magic - light up your brain with some good tunes
Mirror, Mirror - Don't let your feelings of rejection cause you to give up on the things that make you feel beautiful
Flirt - It's fun and exciting and can accomidate all types of relationship statuses
Be Selfish - Pamper yourself with intention! Often!
Fake it - 'till you make it
Critical Challenge - Don't say anything critical about yourself for one entire day, then a week
Got Kids? - Talk to yourself the way you want your kids to talk to themselves
Don't Keep Your Head - Fall in love with yourself, with nature, with others

Trust Yourself
Rebuilding trust in yourself after a particularly hurtful time in your life can seem impossible, but the truth is it just takes time. I need to relearn how to trust my instincts. I sometimes think because my ex-husband was unfaithful and I stayed hopeful in such a broken and dark marriage for almost a decade that I am the most gullible, idiotic woman on the planet. I sometimes think my naivete and ignorance to the true feelings me ex harbored for me pretty much solidifies I am a complete moron. I confuse my marital devotion with ignorance all the time. I feel so, so stupid when I think back and see just how long I allowed someone to walk all over me, lie to me, disrespect me, and drag me through the mud of his own addictions and issues. Where was the confident Jen my daughters needed? Where was my sense? My intelligence? My no-crap-taken mentality? My strength?

It helps when I journal all the signs I purposely ignored - kinda proves I wasn't completely ignorant, just stubbornly dedicated to forcing a broken relationship to work. Hindsight and all that. But rebuilding trust in myself is, I'm learning, less about exploring the past and more about approaching the future without fear.

I do have the ability to make sound decisions for my life. I will one day believe in my intuition again. I will one day learn to take advice and suggestions lightly and forgive myself for the mistakes I've made. If everyone were born brilliant and with this whole life thing figured out, we'd have no need to learn and live at all, right? We'd be stagnant and boring, muted versions of ourselves. I prefer to glitter and shine....risk be damned.

We are who we are, beautifully flawed and hopelessly imperfect. Our lives are tiny little pinpricks of light in this big, bold world and to waste our fire on doubt and self hate is a tragedy. Celebrate who you are. Throw yourself a party. Invite others, or don't. Turn off your inner critic. Celebrate your verbosity. Call a friend and talk their ear off. Celebrate your thighs. Wear the shorts. Celebrate your mood swings. Write stories and paint pictures and take photographs of things that reflect how you feel. Relish the changes your body is experiencing, for you're well on your way to becoming a wiser and better version of yourself. If your head feels rainy, soak in the water for a minute, then find your sunshine - friends, family, kids, pets, flowers, or maybe the rain is your sunshine. Doesn't matter. Just find it. Carve out time for people who make you laugh, laugh, laugh. Carve out time to just be. Let people come to you. Know that you are enough, what you do is enough, and you don't need to do a single thing more unless it contributes to your own happiness. Make this year the year of you. I think you are wonderful and worth celebrating.

I am so glad you've come along on this Renewal Challenge, dear readers. I would love to hear your favorite renewal tip in the comments down below and as always, thank you so very much for reading.

Looking for some unique ways to feel renewed? I've got you covered :) Check out the other posts in my 2017 Renewal Challenge:

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