Over the weekend, I was a co-captain for a team for the Relay for Life to honor my best friend who died of cancer last year. Our friendship is proof of how one person can enter, then leave, and have a profound impact on your life. Processing that grief was a cosmic smack to the head and woke me up to new truths.
Her death was my first real glimpse at mortality and it forced me to look inward. A year later, I find myself intensely focused on what I want my life to look and feel like everyday. The quest is to find the things that bring me peace, joy, and love, and to do whatever is necessary to eliminate anything that does not.
I’ve become very good at recognizing what empties my cup and what fills it. Naming these things has become a weekly ritual for me and keeps me focused on what needs to be removed from my life, and what I need more of in order to thrive. I’ve discovered that truly loving myself requires me to ask myself some important questions.
It’s a process of elimination, and first I ask the hard questions: What do I need to let go of today? I will trust what I let flow out of my life will allow for new energy to flow in. What situation (or person) is draining me? I will look at ways to create a strong boundary or just say no. What choices are making me play small or holding me back? I will take more risks, be brave, and live up to my full potential. What doesn’t serve my needs anymore? It’s time to eliminate that thing/activity/choice from my life.
The next part of the exercise is the part I actually enjoy, naming the things that help me love myself more: Exercising recharges me. I feel better in my skin when I take a hot bath. My favorite body parts are my muscular shoulders and hazel eyes. Hugging my favorite people brings me comfort. Sitcoms from the 90s, funny memes, and good storytellers make me laugh. Listening to upbeat music improves my mood. Traveling to new places inspires my creativity. I feel calm when I practice stillness or go for long walks with my headphones. I am my most authentic self when I am with my close friends and family, or tapping into my creativity.
In taking time to name all these things, I’ve become so much more self aware. “Midlife is an unraveling,” as Brené Brown so famously wrote, and I’m in the midst of it, struggling with it, but welcoming it too, rolling up my sleeves, and ready for whatever it brings.
To love oneself is a courageous undertaking in a world that tells us with its clever marketing that we’re not worthy. Often that nuisance of a little bully voice creeps in, as we scroll through social media, making us feel unworthy as we compare our lives to others. (Stop doing that.) You ARE enough, you ARE worthy. This belief is found when we come face to face with our pain, heal it, and begin the process of loving ourselves.
September is a season of transition as summer turns to autumn. Why wait until January 1st to make edits in your life? Perhaps we should all take a cue from nature and learn from the trees as they release their leaves, to let certain things go. Like purging your closet, maybe it’s time to get rid of the outdated parts of yourself and the things that don’t fit anymore.
Look inward and identify the people/things/experiences that bring you happiness, peace, and joy, then embrace more of that.
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