Do you have days when you have no self-confidence? Are there times when you wonder how anyone even likes you? Do you have times in your life when you look in the mirror and don’t like the person staring back at you?
These days happen. I’m not saying they are in regular rotation in my mind, but they do tend to happen. I doubt myself. I forget why I’m trying to accomplish the things I once had a burning passion to achieve. I become crippled under fear and forget that I can create wonderful things.
I pray every morning. One addition I added to my prayer list a few months ago was “self-image.” Previously, I had a self image that was probably overly confident, but I wholeheartedly believed in my self. I had a determination that nothing was going to hold me down or knock me off my game. But as I’ve gotten older, my confidence in certain areas of my life have been shaken.
For example, I struggle with my physical appearance some days. Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m at a healthy weight and that I’m managing my body as best as I can with three small, energetic boys. However, some days I can’t help but see other women my age (sans kids) that have these killer bodies. What kills me even more is when they do have kids and they’re still rocking a rock hard body.
This is when I have to step back and let God step in. I’m not those other women. I am me. God knows me. And He loves me just the way that I am. He knows my heart. He knows my soul. He knows how hard I’ve fought to get into the shape I’m in today.
So when I pray in the mornings for my “self-image”, I ask God to give me the strength and power to love myself the way He loves me. Unconditionally. Inside and out. With no questions.
Thinking about this for the past few days has prompted me to take action. This morning I decided to write down all of the significant things that have happened to my family and me family in 2017. I have to admit, there are a lot of things I completely forget about until I sat and reflected on the year.
From spending time with a beloved grandmother during the 4th of July celebration that we no long have with us today to moving to a new community to buying a puppy and taking a trip out of the country, these are only a few of the twenty things I listed.
I challenge you today to sit down and write out your highlights of 2017. You’ll be surprised how much has slipped your mind from the first of the year and how fast time flies.
Maybe you got a promotion. Maybe a loved one got married. Maybe your children hit some incredible milestones. Maybe you kicked a bad habit. Maybe you got to meet one of your role models. (I had the pleasure of speaking with two this year!) Maybe you made a new friend that’s really impacted your life.
Whatever your journey, be sure to stop and appreciate your blessings.
In. Out. Deep Breaths.
This is how I get through tough times throughout the day. This may sound silly, but don’t discourage the idea until you’ve tried it. I’m amazed by how often this one simple thing completely calms me down or at least distracts me enough to chill-ax a little bit.
Many stress factors affect us daily. Our jobs. Our kids. Our families going through a tough time. Taking time to care for ourselves. And many other situational stress points that keep us tightly wound if we’re not concentrating on breathing.
The metaphorical sense of taking a deep breath is just as important as the physical one. What I mean is that sometimes we need to a step away from the situation more so than we need to take a breath. Maybe your “deep breath” is walking into the other room and sitting quietly for a minute or two. Maybe it’s taking a walk around the block. Maybe it actually is stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
There’s a reason why “I need to get some fresh air” is a thing. Removing yourself from a situation and taking in a deep dose of oxygen can invigorate your brain and help you think more clearly.
Be aware of your own self. Know when you need a break. Know when removing yourself for some fresh air will do everybody good. Take long and slow deep breaths. Fill your body with energizing air that will clear your mind. Remind yourself to be present in the moment. Allow yourself to admit you need a break. Then, come back recharged and ready to go.
Often we forget about things that were once significant but now have become completely ordinary. For example, most people don’t wake up every day grateful for electricity and a refrigerator. However, you take these two things away and we could quite possibly loose our minds very quickly.
Gratitude is all about finding something, anything really, that brings thankfulness into your heart. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been grateful for my washer and dryer. (I realize that may sound silly, but go ahead and let your washer quit working for a few days. You’ll be extremely grateful for that machine!)
We also don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving 2018 rolls around to know about gratitude. What things are you grateful for in your life?
Do you have a good job? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have food in your belly? Do you have a vehicle to get you places? Do your kids go to a school that helps them grow into smart, good people? Do you have friends and family? Do you have a network of people who support you? Do you have one close friend, significant other, or family member whom you count on?
All of these things may seem ordinary, but they aren’t guaranteed. They are blessings. The breath in your lungs is a blessing. The beating of your heart is a blessing. The ability to read this is a blessing.
Don’t take your blessings for granted.
I don’t take medicines unless I’m burning up with a fever or the pain somewhere in my body has finally got to the unbearable threshold. I’ve always been this way. Vitamins, supplements, and the occasion vitamin C are my daily pills.
But there are people who are dependent on medications they truly need (not the ones that are toxic and destructive). If you asked one of these people how important their medications are to them, I’m sure they’d tell you they are a completely different person without them. They need them. They physically and mentally don’t feel like themselves unless they get the proper dose each day.
This is how I feel about gratitude and prayer.
Sure, I can live without doing it. I won’t die. I’m not going to collapse one day because I forgot to get down on my knees and pray to God above. But I know I won’t be myself. The signs won’t show up immediately. It’s okay if I miss a dose once or twice ever so often. But it can be detrimental to my well-being if I don’t get my “meds” for several days.
I turn into a person my family doesn’t recognize. I turn into a person I don’t even recognize.
Gratitude and prayer are my stabilizers. They keep me grounded and my head clear. Their ability to steer me in the right mindset has proven more effective than any dose of anything else.
Try it some time. I promise it can do wonders for your mind, body, and soul.
It’s easy to say, “I wish I had the celebrity lifestyle. Then I’d have a stylist to deal with my fashion choices every day, a manager who takes care of all of the nonsense schedules, and a nutritionist/health expert to keep my body in tip-top shape! Oh, plus piles of money surrounding me. Like the gold coins they had in cartoons where they are deep enough to swim in them. Then I will have made it.”
Well, I don’t have that kind of lifestyle. Not even close. The money would be nice. But I prefer my comfy jeans and t-shirts, my seemingly predictable schedule, and my workout/eating habits aren’t killing me.
I’m doing what I can with what I got.
I use this platform as a source of healing and motivation on days when I simply can’t make it to a meeting, which is basically every day. (I really should find one I can go to around here.)
I manage to make it to our local YMCA for workouts. They offer childcare there so I can take my youngest with me. Win-Win! I eat salads several times a week and I shove vegetables in my face even when I really want a donut instead.
I write here, as well as multiple other places, to keep my mental health in check. (Trust me, mama doesn’t need to get off her writing. It’s like my meds. It keeps the crazy at bay.)
I’m doing what I can with what I got.
It may not be the glamorous way to live life some days, but I don’t really care. I’m happy. My family is happy. We are all healthy. What more really matters?
There is a lot of time wasted asking the question, “Why?” Questions can be a good thing for someone getting their education. But it can be detrimental to someone who recently lost a loved one. “Why did this happen to me? Why did it work out this way? Why did everything fall apart?”
I question a lot of things all of the time. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Should I go back to work? Am I wasting my time trying to make it as a writer? Should I take a step back for awhile and see if there’s something better out there for me?
These questions don’t do anyone in my household any good.
First of all, of course I’m doing the right thing. This is where I belong for this season of my life.
Second, I am working. Though I may not be getting paid thousands every month, I’m happier being home with my kids and writing than I ever was at any of my other jobs…combined! I have the dream job. Make my own hours. Work around my family’s schedule. Work at my own pace. I’ve accomplished more personal goals this year than I ever would at my previous job.
Third, maybe writing as a paid career is my destiny. Maybe it’s not. Regardless, I’ve uncovered a piece of me with writing that I never knew needed to escape. I can’t live without this release of emotion and energy now. So paid or not paid, I will continue to write.
And lastly, taking a step back from my life is like telling my kids, “Mommy will be home in 6 months when she figures out how to handle this argument over who had the toy first. Love you, bye!” Nu-uh. Ain’t happening that way. While there may be something better out there for me (career wise), I’m perfectly fine honing my writing skills until that opportunity presents itself.
Y’all, don’t bog yourself with life’s questions. It’s more important to focus on being a good person. Live your life every day to the best of your ability.