Friday, October 28, 2011

I love me! : A journey

Welcome to the I Love Me! Carnival!

This post was written for inclusion in the I Love Me! Carnival hosted by Amy at Anktangle. This carnival is all about love of self, challenging you to lift yourself up, just for being you.

Please read to the bottom to find a list of submissions from the other carnival participants.

Self-love... Place it into perspective... you love your children, you love your family and you love your husband. Now, is it possible to place the same emotions towards yourself? Do you love yourself? For most of us this is a really difficult emotion to place, and it all boils down to self-respect.

Self-respect is SO important. How do you expect to teach your children self-respect when it is lacking in yourself. How do you teach your daughters to have a healthy self-body image if you don't have one yourself?

With this in mind, I have been on a journey of self discovery and acceptance since the birth of my son 11 months ago. I am still on this journey, however, the words 'I love me' roll off the tongue a little easier these days.

It all started with a quarter life crises. The new mid-life crises. Its a real thing. I had one.

At 25 years of age, I ended a 7 year relationship with my ex-fiancĂ©. I moved from a small town to Johannesburg and started a high-powered and high-paid job in sales. I lost my sense of self and tried to become someone I am not. I spent a year doing things that were totally out of character for me, until I was no longer sure of who I was. I became impulsive, took up smoking and took chances, no longer worrying about consequences. I started a stormy rebound relationship that lasted almost a year. It was a year that left me completely emotionally drained.

I found myself in a dark place, suffering from anxiety attacks on a regular basis and unable to hold my job. My self-confidence was shattered.

With no self-confidence I struggled to make decisions, yet I made a decision to pull myself together. I adopted a cat from the animal shelter and slowly started pulling my life back in order. I was quiet and kept to myself. I constantly doubted myself and my abilities. I also took on a new job that kept me very busy. Too busy in fact, I only lasted 6 months of their insane workload and three hour travel time there and back. I then took on a teaching position which made me very happy. This was the beginning of my healing process.

My now husband and I started dating (we knew each other from school) and I shortly fell pregnant. My son literally saved my life. He gave me a reason to live when I had lost all hope. I have spent the past year pulling myself out of the dark hole I had fallen into and dusting myself off... regaining my former self-respect on a journey until I can once again say : I love me!

I have learnt a few things on this journey and here are a few pointers I can share for fostering self-respect in oneself:

  • Count your blessings. So clichĂ©d, I know. But it seriously works. Try writing them down or taking a mental note of them each day. I have spent each day of the last 11 months marvelling at the miracle that is my son and am so very thankful that he has graced my life. 
  • Be true to yourself. I have found the easiest way to find your self-respect again is to be true to yourself. Live your life in a way which is true to your ideals and goals. I am a nurturer and was born to be a mother. I am not a career driven person, and a corporate environment merely put me under intense strain that caused all sorts of symptoms such as anxiety and a run-down immune system.  
  • Be true to your parenting ideals. I have, thankfully, found my parenting niche in a mixture of natural parenting and attachment parenting. I deal with opposing parenting styles on a daily basis from family and friends but my confidence has grown in my own parenting skills. Plus I have a very healthy and happy little boy who is a testament to this parenting philosophy. 
  • Box those unhappy thoughts. A few 'bad' things have happened in my life that have left little scars. I found myself dwelling on them which in turn lead me to eat boxes of chocolates. I now box those thoughts. I mentally visualise the 'bad' incidences being placed in a box with a lock in the back of my mind and force myself not to think of them again. In the beginning it was difficult and it required constant attention to not think about the incidences. It has, over time, become easier and easier. Now I hardly ever find those thoughts coming to mind.
  • Look after your health, eat healthily and exercise. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. A healthy mind leads to better relationships, better parenting and an easier life. The link between depression and bad eating habits is profound... make a decision today to add more fruit and vegetables to your diet and cut out sugar. Depression feeds on sugar. 
  • Decide what is important in your life. I literally sat down and wrote a list of what was important to me. I decided that material objects and monetary gain were not the most important thing in my life. To stay at home with my son, give him a warm and loving home and a natural education were important, and I am living every day trying to live up to this decision. 
  • Delight in the small things in life and celebrate them. I make a really big deal out of small things now. Like ten minutes to enjoy a cup of tea and a magazine, or the arrival of my sons all-natural bum cream in the post. These things make me really excited now. 
Its hard work and requires constant attention but it is possible. The turn-around I have had in attitude in just the last year is astonishing. It boils down to making a decision every day... you can be happy or miserable... it's up to you. I chose to try be happy. Eventually my emotions caught up with my decisions. 

Once you have self-respect, others find it easier to respect you. Life becomes easier. Make the decision.

Thank you for reading this post from the I Love Me! Carnival. Please take some time to read the contributions from the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by the afternoon of October 28th with all the carnival links.)

  • The Art of Being Thoughtful – Becky at Old New Legacy likes that she is mostly thoughtful but wants to become more thoughtful. She shares a story that demonstrates that giving gifts doesn't have to be expensive.
  • I love me (and running)! – Sheryl of Little Snowflakes writes about her new love of running and how it has helped her learn to love herself!
  • For the Love of Moe – Valerie at Momma in Progress shares her thoughts on a body forever changed, but forever loved.
  • Where I Find My Worth – Sarah at Parenting God's Children shares how finding her worth in worldly things always falls short.
  • Oh Yeah, I'm Cool – Tree at Mom Grooves shares her very favorite gift and the thing she most wants to pass on to her daughter.
  • Loving – Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about some of the things she loves about herself - some easily, and some by choice for the sake of healing.
  • caught in a landslide – jaqbuncad of wakey wakey, eggs and bakey! shares a list of reasons why zie loves hir body.
  • I Love Me! - A Rampage of Appreciation! – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle stops waiting for anyone else to tell her she is wonderful and goes on a rampage of appreciation for herself!
  • Raising Healthy Daughters – In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Kate Wicker offers tips to pass on a healthy self-image to the young ladies in our care.
  • Unexpected Benefits of a Healthy Pregnancy – How does it feel to have a healthy pregnancy? Dionna at Code Name: Mama discovers that making positive choices can be empowering.
  • Filling Up Our Watering Cans – Nada at miniMOMist believes that practicing Sabbath is the same as being a gardener who lovingly tends to the flowers in her garden. She needs to fill up her watering can first.
  • Better Body by Baby – Jess from Mama 'Roo and Family Too! shares how having her first baby makes her feel even more beautiful and confident about her body than ever before.
  • These Breasts Were Made for Nursing – Becoming a mother helped Mandy from Living Peacefully with Children to embrace her womanhood and improve her self image.
  • Yeah, I'm Pretty Cool – Amanda at Let's Take the Metro writes about her own self love and how she hopes to foster the same self-respect in her children.
  • Who I've Become – The future is bright with That Mama Gretchen who shares her past and present perspective on body image and how she hopes to become a change agent with her daughter.
  • Ever-Evolving Me – Joella at Fine and Fair writes to her daughter about her innate drive to continue learning, growing, and evolving.
  • I love you for your mind – Lauren at Hobo Mama turns a dubious phrase on its head with a little self-loving slam poetry.
  • Stop Think of Love with Your Body – Amy of Peace 4 Parents shares an exercise to gradually transition from hating to loving your body - stretch marks, sags, imperfections, and all.
  • I Love Me! – Jenny @ I'm a full-time mummy shares the things that she loves about herself!
  • First, I'm Superwoman. Later, I'm SupperwomanPatti @ Jazzy Mama explains how she loves taking care of her amazing body. It birthed 4 children, after all!
  • Baby Strikes A Pose – Emma from Your Fonder Heart writes about her family's decision not to let their 7 month old model, and uses the opportunity to think more deeply about girls (young and old) and how they determine their self-worth.
  • Love Your Tree – How do you picture the ways your body and mind change? Amy at Anktangle writes about how trees help her have perspective about her own growth over time.
  • Pumpkin Butt – Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes about how birth and pumpkins are the way to accepting her body
  • I do love me – Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes talks about the lessons about loving herself she wants to pass along to her daughter.
  • Appreciating Who I Am – Linni at An Unschooling Adventure describes the things she likes about herself and the way she appreciates who she is as a person.
  • I love me! : A journey – Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares her journey on arriving at the point where she can say: I love me!
  • My Daughter Doesn't Care So Why Should I? – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama calls herself on the carpet for the image of self love and beauty she portrays in front of her toddler.
  • Finding out who I am – Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares an exercise that helped her identify positive qualities she possesses, and how that has helped her learn to love herself.

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