Be Your Valentine

Does your name top your valentine list? Should it? Learning to love yourself.

Valentine’s Day wasn’t going to sneak up on me again this year. I was determined.

So a couple weeks ago I started making my “list” –  names of all the people I really love. My intention (get this), was to send each person on my list a personal note, handwritten of course, in my most elaborate script; penned with my one-of-a-kind handcrafted glass quill, on rolled parchment paper (specially ordered).

But wait! There’s more! I would stamp each note with an appropriately colored rose – red, pink, white or yellow.

Sounds so romantic doesn’t it? Real fairy-tale stuff. Well that was my intention – until I found myself broadsided.

At about the eighth name I started thinking, ‘maybe my name should be on this list too,’ and that began an avalanche of doubts.

The Difference between healthy self-love and Vanity.

‘Would that be acceptable? Wouldn’t that make me vain and conceited? But am I not supposed to love myself?’ The real question was, ‘do I love myself enough to make my own list?’

I didn’t like my honest answer to that question. Having doubts about whether or not I should be on a list of people I love, was the first red flag. All kinds of other red flags followed.

Honestly ask yourself the questions here to get an idea of how much you really love and respect yourself.

I added my name at the top of the list – where I now believe it should be, then set about making it a truth.

Learning to love yourself.

The simple trick is to treat yourself the same way you would treat someone you love dearly. But that is not as easy as it sounds.

Accepting that you are not perfect.

Accepting that you are not perfect frees you to be the imperfect you that you are, trying new things and making bold decisions because you can forgive yourself for your mistakes and try to do better next time.

With all my malfunctioning body parts I always knew that I was not perfect but knowing and accepting are two different things. Making up for my imperfections meant that I had to be the ‘good little girl,’ the ‘top student,’ the ‘best-loved teacher,’ the most ‘dedicated wife.’

I never gave myself permission to be imperfect, so failure was always devastating – like when I failed fourth year at secondary school (being in hospital for most of the school year was no excuse).

I think I was about 20 years old when I ‘surmized’ that because I was not perfect (normal/healthy) my life was not worth as much as everyone else’s. It was another 20 years before I truly understood how self-destructive that mindset was but I didn’t know how to change it.

I’d always been willingly overlook the imperfections of loved ones and continued to love them even when they fell short. I am learning to do the same for myself.

Being kind to yourself.

Be gentle with criticism and plentiful with praise.

No problem being gentle with others but when it came to myself???? Aim high and set rigid standards: that was my motto which was alright to some degree, except that I always expected more from myself than I would from others, and for that, harsh criticism was necessary. Being gentle with myself was not one of my first considerations.

Changing that is hard. Maybe it is because I am trying to break a life-long habit. Maybe it is because I never really appreciated the woman I see on the other side of the mirror.

But I am learning; learning to tell that woman of the things I like about her, instead of only the things I do not like. I am learning to look past the dark circles around her eyes and the purple blotches on her arms; the paper-thin skin and distended abdomen she tries to hide under loose fitting blouses.

I am learning to tell that woman that it is alright she can no longer go off to work every morning and contribute what she believes to be her fair share to household finances: to tell her that it is alright she couldn’t do the laundry or the cleaning on a regular basis for the last year.

Being kind to yourself means focusing on your positive qualities, your strengths and talents; the things that others admire about you. It means acknowledging and accepting compliments instead of dismissing them with the thought, ‘she is only saying that because she is my friend.’ Being kind to yourself means taking time to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements – no matter how small.

Supporting yourself.

Everybody needs somebody sometime.

Supporting yourself means asking for the help and support you need it and accepting the help others offer.

Everybody Needs Somebody Sometime.

During my last year at work, I struggled with myself to accept help colleagues offered  and I struggled even more to actively to ask for help. My excuse, I didn’t want to impose on anyone. The real truth – I believed that accepting help was a definite sign of weakness and a show of my imperfections. That takes it full circle – accepting that I am not perfect.

 

So is it alright to love yourself; to put yourself on your own Valentine List? Definitely. As a matter of fact loving yourself should be your default setting. Scripture doesn’t even command it; it assumes and expects that you already do.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22: 37-40.

The bottom line, treat yourself the way you would treat someone you truly love.  And don’t forget your Valentine’s Day gift.

 

 

 

 

A Garden of Hope and Healing

A collection of quotes to embrace and inspire.

Life is a tough deal. You don’t get a rehearsal and there’re no do-overs; there’s no personalized instructional manual, you get only one chance and you never know when the game is going to end.

That is why we have to take what we have ‘here and now’, and make it count for everything, whatever the situation. Hope is the key.

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear the hardship of today.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh.

“Once you choose hope, anything is possible.” ~ Christopher Reeves.

And that means healing is always possible. Sometimes you just need to tweak your perspective – change your glasses.

“Healing doesn’t mean that the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.” ~ unknown.

And yes, healing takes courage, but “we all have courage, even when we have to dig a little to find it.” ~ Tori Amos.

So when the going gets tough, remember “you were given this life because you’re strong enough to live it.” ~ unknown.

So have HOPE.

“Hold On, Pain Ends.”

“Have Only Positive Expectations.”

Remember as usual, if viewing on a mobile device, you may need to zoom out to see the full posters.

posters created by livinginthesunshine.net

Don’t Be Afraid

12 bible verses to remind you that you’re not alone when the going gets tough.

When I found out my mother was dying of cancer I was terrified. For 26 years she had watched over me when I was sick (and that was a lot of the time) and encouraged, not with words but a silent expectation that I would do what was necessary to get back on my feet, brush myself off and carry on without complaint. The thought of trying to do it without her made me weak in the knees – literally shaking in my shoes.

Then I wondered, does she know she’s dying? And if not, how do I tell her?

“Julie, am I going to die?” Continue reading “Don’t Be Afraid”

Desiderata

If ever there was an instructional manual for life, this prose poem takes one of the top places.

An inspired timepiece with an ageless message – Lindsay Planer.

With all that has happened this week, I feel a major boost is in order. You know a good old ‘shot in the arm’ to balance things out a bit. Oh! I almost forgot, you may not know about everything that has happened.

Well, let me fill you in. A new president was elected, my rose bush lost its last flower, I had to make my way to the ER – all last Tuesday. And guess what? They kept me – at the ER, I mean – said they were unwilling to part with my smile. I fell for it. Continue reading “Desiderata”

Sustained Happiness: A gallery of Quotes

12 Inspirational quotes for sustained happiness

This week, my biology is totally ‘out-of-wack.’ Seriously! Not one single molecular scale in this whole body of muscular, epithelial, connective or nervous tissue, seems to want to find balance with me right now! So I need your help.

I’ve got some captivating inspirational quotes based on the habits I mentioned in my last post:

  • smiling
  • connecting
  • giving

but I don’t want them to stay stagnant on the page this time. Please tell me about the one that means the most to you or introduce me to one that I didn’t mention.

Right now, I am personally concentrating on perspective. . .

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

. . . looking high and low for every manner of rosebush I can find (figuratively). I know there must be other spins on this: optimism vs pessimism. I’m all eyes and ears. So drop me some comments.

Remember as usual, if viewing on a mobile device, you may need to zoom out to see the full poster.

 

Feature photograph by Bajan Photos

Posters created by livinginthesunshine.net

More Happily Ever After

Habits for your Happy-Ever-After: Part 2

When it comes to living happily ever after, there’s good news and there’s not-so-good news. The good news – happily ever after is possible – at least that’s what I believe.

The not-so-good news – we’ve got to put in some effort; there’s no yellow brick road guaranteed to lead us there and Emerald City does not hold the answers.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road???
Follow The Yellow Brick Road?

Dorothy, the cowardly lion and the rest of them already tried – treking all the way to Emerald City only to find that Oz, the Great and Powerful didn’t have what they thought they needed to be happy. They had it all along!

It’s the same with us. Continue reading “More Happily Ever After”

A Happiness Gallery of Quotes

10 quotes and affirmations about happiness.

People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, all life for happiness. ~ Ritu Ghatourey.

I think we all know how easy it is to fall into that trap, so my plan is to rig my home with reminders – affirmations and inspirational quotes sprinkled around in key places: like the back of the chair where I drop the TV remote; the kitchen counter where mail tends to pile up; closet door; slip one under the frame of the floor length mirror at the end of the hallway – places like that. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Anyway, here are 10 affirmations and inspirational quotes that I found most engaging. (Remember if viewing on a mobile device you may need to zoom out to see the full poster).

 

Featured drawing by Juliette

Posters created by Livinginthesunshine.net

Happily Ever After

Habits for your Happy-Ever-After: Part 1

So the Princess married her Prince Charming and they lived happily ever after. . . as the fairy tales go. But what does THAT mean? Is it even possible in real life? And if it is, what would our happy-ever-after look like?

It’s pretty tough to explain what happiness is. Have you ever tried? Efforts date back to Aristotle and Plato centuries ago.

So here’s where I think we should make sure we’re on the same page. And maybe a negative definition would be helpful.

Happiness does not mean ‘feeling good’ Continue reading “Happily Ever After”

A Fairytale Gallery of Quotes

Who says Fairy tales are just for children?

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, on the distant side of the great sea, there lived . . .

Thus begins my fairy tale.

Yes, I believe in Fairy tales. And even though my childhood fascination with beautiful princesses, magic wands and evil ogres has dimmed, fairy tales remain dear to me. Continue reading “A Fairytale Gallery of Quotes”

Prednisone, Insulin and Fairy Tales

You don’t have to be symptom-free to enjoy a happy life.

So many people say that life is not a fairy tale and I agree. . . absolutely (after all, fairy tales are totally fictitious). But what if you could live your life as if it was a fairy tale?

“There are two ways to live; you can live as if nothing is a miracle; or you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein.

I don’t think Albert would mind if I Continue reading “Prednisone, Insulin and Fairy Tales”