Strive to Thrive (aka: A Self-Love Letter)

People are a mess, aren’t we?

I mean, we try. We each do our best to survive the Monday, to make it to the end of the year, year after year. But who wants to live a life that’s all about surviving? It’s so much better when we strive to thrive.

(Did I just make up that slogan? Because I love it and would totally wear the t-shirt).

Thriving can be hard, though. Sometimes, really, really hard. We know what we need to do to live better, to be better people. But it takes a great deal of effort and consistency. Exercise more. Eat less. Read more, communicate better, and above all, love harder. Love your spouses, love your kids, love your neighbor, love yourself.

Self Love Collage

It’s that last one that throws people into a tailspin. What does that mean to love myself? Does that mean I’m not loving myself if I like to change my hairstyle or sculpt my body into a different shape? Isn’t it possible to love yourself too much and turn into a narcissist?

Let me clear this up: Self-love is not narcissism! Got it? They are two very different things.

Self love says:

I am worthy and valuable, and so are other people.

I deserve good things in my life, and so do other people.

I deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, and I will treat others the same way.

My goal is not to compete with those around me, but to constantly grow into a better version of myself.

I want to lift other people up so that they feel better about themselves.

Narcissism says:

I am superior to other people.

I am more worthy and valuable than others.

I deserve more good things than other people and envy those who are more successful than me.

People must admire me, or my ego will be shattered.

I must put others down in order to feel better about myself.

(You can read more about this here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201206/self-esteem-versus-narcissism)

Confident free happy woman

Self love is a necessary component to being a happy and secure person. It means looking in the mirror each day and fully accepting yourself — every blemish. Every scar. And know what else? When you can fully accept yourself, then you can also learn to fully accept others. Every blemish. Every scar. Self love lets you laugh at your silly quirks and flaws, and to forgive yourself. And when you can forgive yourself, guess what? You can forgive others.

It comes in that order. First you, then others.
A match with no flame can’t light candles. A lighthouse with no inner light can’t guide ships to shore. You’ve got to love yourself first. Turn on your light, my friends.

love hands heart

Today, I love:

Those tiny crinkles around my eyes when I smile; a marker of many years of smiles and laughter.

My short, springy, curly hair. Some days, I flat-iron it until it’s straights and long. But mostly, I wear it free, run my fingers through the soft curls. I love to stretch them out and watch them bounce back into shape. Boing! Just like that little girl in the Ramona Quimby story.

The way I rise early in the morning, ready to go for a run, ready to pull on my kick-ass boots , face the world, and smash my goals.

The inner wind that pushes me. It drives me forward until I see each project to completion. It focuses me, and enables my self-discipline when motivation fails me.

The treasure trove of stories that dance in my brain, eager to escape when I sit before a blank screen, ready to write.

I love my goodness, and my messiness, my corny sense of humor, even those moments when I feel too serious, overwhelmed by the misery and hopelessness in the world (like Artax, Atreyu’s horse, in the Swamps of Sadness).

Cute curly hair

Because I love myself, I will continue to strive to thrive, to do better, to be better. I will be my own queen, wearing my crown with pride. And I will do my best to lift up those around me, those who still struggle with loving themselves, until we are all kings and queens of our own destinies. There are plenty of thrones to go around.

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Think Positive (aka: What I Love About My Body)

girls and body image “I’m getting so fat,” my 12 year-old daughter complained today, pinching a miniscule roll of fat that has formed around her waist.

I groaned. “Puh-lease. You are not even a little bit fat.” This is true. My daughter is a petite and graceful little thing, like a fairy flitting about on skinny little chopstick legs. It’s just that now that she is no longer a competitive gymnast with rock-hard abs from working out 25 hours per week, her little body  is beginning to resemble those of other 12 year-old girls. Okay, well, maybe 10 year-old girls.

Still, she is not fat.

“Since you are complaining about your body,” I told her, “now you have to tell me something that you love about your body.”

My daughter thought for a minute, frowning. “We-elll,” she said. “I guess I love my long limbs. My long legs help me to run fast, and I wouldn’t want to have short, stubby legs.”

I smiled. “There you go! See? There is so much to love about your body. Now no more complaining about being fat.”

Of course, I am not very good with this. I often catch myself pinching the rolls of fat that form around my own waist and frowning about how fat I am. It is probably just an unfortunate curse of being a woman in a culture obsessed with body image. We all hate our bodies – that is, those of us who were not blessed with perfection, like Angelina Jolie (pre-surgery, that is).

“So what do you love about your body, Mom?” asked my daughter.

Ugh. My turn. Okay, well, I guess I love my lips. They are pretty awesome, as far as lips go. Almost perfect, even. My eyes are just okay. I hate my hair. And my…oops, going in the wrong direction. Think positive, Tiare. Think positive.

I almost blurted out, “I love my body’s incredible resistance to mosquitos.” Well, I do. For some reason, I never get mosquito bites like other people. Seriously. I can stand in the middle of a swarm of mosquitos buzzing around, and then walk away without a single itchy little bump. It makes me feel powerful – like, Olivia Pope powerful. Okay, no one is that powerful. But still. Ha ha mosquitoes

“Do you know what I love best about my body?” I hugged my daughter close. “I love how my body was strong enough to bring you and your brothers into the world.”

“Oh, Mom!” My daughter grimaced and pushed me away. “Too mushy.”

I just grinned and blew her a kiss with my almost-perfect lips.