How's everyone doing?! I know, I know. It's been a hot minute. Since I last posted on the blog, I've gotten my Bachelor of Arts degree in Art for Education from BU, interviewed for internship positions for my master's degree year at BU, done a ton of yoga, went through an automated car wash alone for the first time (#adulting), eaten several Duke's donuts, and am in the middle of my preparations for Miss Massachusetts at the end of June. Life is busy! Busy, but good. Oh also,

today is my 22nd birthday.

It's crazy how fast this year has flown but at the same time, all of the life milestones I have coming up seem so out of reach. I've been spending some time prioritizing intentional goal setting and have decided something.

As I kick off my 22nd year on planet earth and the start of summer, I've coined this summer... ready?

The Summer of Bettering.

Not very catchy, I know. And also, not sure "bettering" is actually a word. But it's what I'm going with!

I really want to take opportunities to better the areas of my life that I've maybe not given enough attention to, want to dig deeper into, and that could all around just use a little love.

With that being said, one area that I think we all could use a little boost in is our attitudes towards ourselves.

Don't get it twisted.

This post is not going to be a mush-smush of trite self care quotes and the all too familiar vernacular surrounding the idea of self love.

As always, I want to get real about this topic.

Self love so often gets convoluted with chronic ego tripping, vanity, and encouragement to embrace and engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices as not to risk offense or alienation. And I truly believe that this is one of those issues that society gets wrong all. the. time.

So if you go into reading this post with any mindset or expectation at all, let it be this.

The reasons for self love that I'll walk through are active, tangible, life application-based reasons that have virtually nothing to do with the idea that we should practice self love because we (most often as women) are perfect as we are.

You should be practicing self love because you are not where you should be but you have the ability and the agency to achieve greatness if you choose to chase after it. 

So here we go!

Reasons why you need to love yourself RIGHT NOW.

(cue the dancing avocados.)

#1 You won't reach your goal any faster by hating on yourself every day before it's achieved.

If anything, this attitude will probably slow you down.

I've been on-and-off Paleo eating (no grains, no dairy, mostly organic/farm to table) for over a year now. Last year after Miss Massachusetts, I gained back some of the weight I had lost when I was training like a fiend for the swimsuit competition. Not the end of the world, but for my self-critical brain, it felt like it might have been.

When I started easing back into my yoga routine this past March, I found my self talk taking a nose dive. I was miserable everyday when I was reminded that I couldn't squeeze into my size 2 cocktail dresses as effortlessly as I could last year.

I got into the habit of thinking, "I loved how I looked and felt last summer. When I get back to that goal weight, I'll feel like that again."

And as a result, my self talk began to center around the fact that I hadn't met my goal yet and until I meet that goal, I feel miserable.

After lots of prayer, yoga, and retraining of my brain to remember to give my body grace, I learned that self love can't be something you give yourself when the stars are aligned and life is where you want it to be.

Don't treat your mental health like cheat day and only love who you are when you're living your best life.

 

Give yourself grace every single day and every step of the way.

And since it's the Summer of Bettering, I challenge you to make self love a way of life. Whatever that looks like for you. For me, it looks like reminding myself "you are so strong" even when my chaturangas toward the end of a yoga class aren't the most controlled...

#2 Sorry sis, but other people can't do it for you.

My Mom loves me. I mean, she loves me in a way that nobody else on this earth does. She's the only one on the planet who will absolutely belt at the top of her lungs Home on The Range with me while washing dishes. She's my biggest fan, my best friend, and has never left my corner.

But one thing Mommy Dearest can't do for me is change the reactions in my brain, that if I'm not careful and intentional about my own self talk, can quickly fall into a habit of negativity and overly-critical thought patterns. It's up to me to decide for myself that I'm going to actively strive to focus on the positive and practice that grace giving stuff I mentioned earlier.

Maybe for you, it's your Instagram highlight reel. That bomb selfie you posted this morning might have given you a confidence boost for today, but when it plateaus at a number of likes that doesn't quite satisfy your mind with an optimal dopamine rush, are you going to crash?

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Here's another tip: Don't treat your self care like a fleeting trip. Seeking out the next high again and again and again is exhausting and counter productive. And if your self worth is resting on the shoulders of public perception and opinion, that flame is gonna die out real quick, my friend. 

In good Summer of Bettering fashion, another challenge for you is to take initiative. If talk therapy is your jam (which- it's everybody's jam. So if you haven't tried it, maybe make it a goal to step out of your comfort zone and give it a shot. I can't recommend it enough.) make time for it. If beginning your day with a daily devotional like Jesus Calling, a yoga class, a good breakfast, a little worship sesh in the car on the way to work is what it takes to get you there, that's in your control. If you're trying to find the time, you never will. If it's really a priority, you make the time. And if you're consistent enough, then it won't feel like making time, it just becomes habit.

#3 Love yourself because the freaking creator of the universe is absolutely so madly in love with you and you are literal treasure.

Have you heard the song You Say by Lauren Daigle yet? If you haven't, Google it literally right now. Here: I'll do it for you --> SHABLAMPOW GOOGLE.

Did you listen?

Even if you're not Christian, I believe that you can get something out of this third reason just the same.

I'm going to list some STRAIGHT FIRE FACTS ABOUT YOU RIGHT NOW.

Body and soul, you are marvelously made.

You are worth far more than money in the bank.

You belong here.

(Psalm 139:13-16, Proverbs 3:15-18, Ephesians 2:19-22)

Last season on the Bachelor, Hannah Brown (our Bachelorette this season) said this:

"The desire of my heart is to be loved so fearlessly by somebody. I will not allow myself to not feel chosen every single day."

I rest in the comfort of knowing that it's not all up to me. Self love is something I practice every single day. But when I fall off the band wagon, slip into old bad habit, or forget my purpose, I am reminded by Christ's abounding love for me that I am strong, loved, held, and how dare I think even for a second that I am any less valuable than the treasure that Christ sees when He looks at me. Insanity. It's a crazy kind of love. And it's the kind of self love I try to focus on.

My advice: don't tangle with the thinly veiled self worship that places conditions and permissions on your ability to feel worthy, capable, and loved.

DIY your whole life. Take initiative to better your wellness, your marriage, your finances, your attitude, your work ethic, etc.

Takeaway: Self love is about embracing your ability to change and improve, but starts with loving yourself where you're at and as you are, RIGHT. NOW.

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