Be You…

How many times have you looked at someone else’s life and compared them to yours, thinking they have it all, and if only you could be like them?

If I had a penny for everytime I did that, I could probably buy one of these beautiful English houses I spent the first day of my vacation thinking all these people who live in it must have it all.

All of us see our lives most of the time as lacking, too plain, too “white”, but what we often fail to see is that white is composed of all colors, it’s a rainbow that we hold within and sometimes forget to see, and what we forget to know is just like paintings we only see people as final results, sometimes without digging deep into their layers, we compare the surface and not the composition and sometimes we feel lacking when in reality none of us are

I remember at around the age of 26 or so, a few of my friends used to say they envy me cuz I had it all, and all I wanted to do was laugh, not in a Haha funny way, but in a sarcastic and slightly bitter way. On the surface I did look like I had it all, but on the inside I was a mess!

That job everyone was saying I made it big in? I was beyond miserable and the stress was eating my alive, I was losing sleep, lived out of a suitcase,stress eating and smoking two packs of cigarettes a day

My engagement and 9 year relationship was falling apart, I cried myself to sleep every single night, I was unloved, treated miserably and subjected to constant emotional abuse.

I was sick, I was lonely, and I was suicidal, and for the first time in my life, I thought of ending my own life.

But never did I speak of any of this, because I’d lose the image of having it all, of being the strong, successful, established person everyone thought I was. The pressure was intense, how could I explain to people why I was miserable, on paper, I had it all, did I not?

I was too proud to let go of anything, and moved on, from bad to worse. I thought if I got a more “prestigious job” with a better pay in the same field, even if I dont like the field, I will feel better. I told myself if I only made it to marriage, all my problems would disappear, that I must keep it together, after all so many people could only dream of what I have. I never stopped to think if this is really what I want, as opposed to what “I should want”

Well it wasn’t, and everytime someone praised me for having it all, I pressured myself to mute the voices in my head, to keep pushing, to keep “having it all”

A year later I got into my car at night, got on the highway, and was going to drive myself straight off of it. I had it all planned, texted my parents I love them, and set out to end what I believed was an unworthy live

I chickened out, because I thought of my parents and how much they love me, and I couldnt do that to them. But I knew I needed help, and went into therapy.

In the begining I was resentful of the idea, too scared to admit I failed, that my picture perfect life was a mess. But my therapist was brilliant, a beautiful woman, who taught me to look at all the colors that make up my life

I let go of my job, and the pursuit of a prestigious job, I got a culinary degree and followed my heart, ended the engagement to the one man I was so determined to marry, because we’ve been together for so long, people just expected me to marry him, or so I thought

I moved, and traveled and followed my feelings. I fail and stumble and sometimes feel like I dont have anything at all. But then I learn to stop and breathe, count my blessings, and if I compare myself to someone, I now know I am only seeing the surface of the painting

I have role models, and aspirations but I learned that there is no such thing as a textbook definition of “having it all”

I learned to count my blessings, and that my life is a beautiful canvas, with layers upon layers of colors being added, till one day I die, and the final painting tells the story of the life I really wanted, not the life I should have wanted

I count my blessings daily, and let go of all that holds me back and doesnt feel right. I learned that what people think of me is none of my business, and that if someone tells me I have it all, I honestly tell them I don’t and am not ashamed of it

I have, what I am meant to have, at this precise moment in life.

So as the year comes to an end, count your blessings, appreciate your story, don’t compare

Be content, be honest, be true and most of all be you!

Have a wonderful end to 2018 everyone. With lots of love

“Oh it’s nothing”…

“It’s nothing”, “No trouble at all”, “Please, no need to thank me”, these are all examples of toxic responses we can give when someone tries to show us appreciation for going the extra mile

Sometimes it really was no trouble at all, but more often than not, we say it because we get self conscious when someone thanks us and we don’t want to appear too cocky so we downgrade our efforts, and don’t easily accept and acknowledge gratitude towards us.

But with time, if we keep referring to our efforts as nothing, or to people continuously over stepping their boundaries as no trouble at all, and repetitively telling people they don’t have to thank us, people will start reacting to this.

Your extra miles become givens, your space becomes invaded and your efforts are overlooked, and when that happens you are left frustrated and feeling under appreciated

This extends to all aspects of our life, the friends that don’t appreciate your presence or respect your time, your significant other that takes everything you do for granted and expects you to jump through hoops while they exert minimal effort, the coworkers that expect you to do their work for them, or put in all these extra hours or be available around the clock. All this becomes the norm, rather than the exception. What was once a privelage now becomes a given and somewhere along the line you have overloaded yourself and let others overwhelm you with no consideration for your feelings or time

We get so angry at all these people, calling them ungrateful, or mean, etc, but, the real question is, why are we blaming them?

We are the ones that positioned ourselves at this value, because we refuse to believe that it’s ok to be thanked, that it’s not arrogance for someone to acknowledge your extra mile, and that going above and beyond should not be the on-going norm, because no one can survive on overdrive

I’m not saying don’t help out, or every now and then go the extra mile, but what I am saying is, acknowledge to yourself before others that your times and efforts are valuable. That the work you do, the effort you exert or the time you spend is precious; it is never equivelant to nothing.

Be humble yes, but also know your worth. Accept the thank yous, acknowledge the gratitude and most of all believe that you deserve it.

Your worth is what you define for yourself, it is how much you believe in you. How you value your life with every aspect in it, and if you continue to undersell yourself, devalue yourself and marginalize yourself, you will involuntarily reflect that in all your actions.

Stop being a 1 carat diamond that positions themselves as a 1 gram of coal.

When it comes to yourself, be appreciative, be confident, be valuable and be proud.

Childhood Insecurities

I grew up being taught that I am not beautiful, that my natural state was not acceptable and needed to be changed.

Now, no one flat out ever said to me “you are ugly”, but indirectly it was hammered into my little child brain.

I was a fat kid, not even gonna say chubby, I was proper fat, and I loved food ( I still do, and I don’t think that will ever change). I was taunted and teased by grownups who thought they were funny, kids whose parents didn’t teach them better and I was made to feel inadequate later on by teen magazines. 

One incident I will never forget was a birthday party in 8th grade at a friend’s house. Her parents were ordering pizza for us, and I overheard her mom snickering about my weight, 20 years later, I never forgot.

I was also taught that my long curly hair should always be straightened. I was subjected to years of blow drying, chemical treatments and everything my mom could get her hands on to straighten my hair so that it’s pretty.

I was a straight A student, I was funny, I started my first business in 2nd grade (I swear it’s true)and I was quiet athletic, yet, I never learned to see these things, I always felt awkward, inadequate and never enough.

As the years went on, this manifested deeper, I always tried to conform on the physical level, I battled bulimia for years, developed binge eating habits, took fat burners and treated my body so harshly because I hated it and had no respect for it. Needless to say, I have been undergoing digestive track treatments for the past 10 years, and from the looks of it, I have another 10 years to go.

I would crash diet to look pretty for boys, or to please those around me, I never did it for myself, for my own health.

I lost half of my hair between dyes, chemical treatments and blow drying until I one day looked at an old picture and wanted to cry.

Far more dangerous than the physical implications were the psychological ones, I always tried to overextend myself in everything else, so people would look beyond my “ugliness” and love me for what I could do for them.

I settled for the wrong relationships, even tolerated abuse, because I did not feel that I was worthy of love.

I always do everything at 110% because I always felt that everything was never enough.

I didn’t love myself so by default, I didn’t respect it, or stand up for it, until a year ago when I broke it.

It took a year of reading, educating myself and speaking kindly to myself for my attitude towards me to change. My childhood insecurities still rear their ugly head, but I’ve educated myself to be more lenient and kinder to myself, to love myself with everything about me. I am humanly imperfect and that is beauty.

If you are a parent, a sibling, a friend or a significant other, be kind with your words. Don’t make someone feel unworthy and think of it as “tough love.” Teach your children that judgements are not ok, that bullying is damaging and that feelings count.

Teach your children to love themselves and more importantly learn to love them as they are, because one day, they will grow up and reflect upon themselves the worth you made them feel. Do not depreciate your children.

Be kind, be gentle, be soft, be constructive, and please be human.

Be Soft…

One of the most beautiful things I have been told by my yoga instructor was “be soft, for when you are soft, you can bend, but cannot break.” I reflected so much on this sentence, and no advice has struck as sincere and as accurate as this one. 

We live in a very intense world, a world full of expectations, comparisons, restrictions, and very high, sometimes impossible, standards that we set for ourselves or are set for us by others.

The norm stops being what feels right for you, what you want to do, but rather becomes what “you have to do”and how you need to comply and conform to the “norm of society”. We endlessly compare ourselves to others, without knowing much about their journey, or their day to day life. We assess, position and rate ourselves, categorizing ourselves as successes or failures.

In the process of all this, we become rigid, inflexible and hard, mostly with ourselves. We often see any deviation from a plan as a failure, beat ourselves up over any change in circumstances, and are often too quick to harshly judge ourselves and others.

We break our happiness to conform, to fit in, we break our dreams, self-esteem and aspirations because we are so fixated on something.

Rigidity with yourself, your partner, your kids or those around you is dangerous, because we are meant to flow through life. If you don’t learn to be supple, fluid, soft and graceful you will break yourself in the process. 

Being soft is being adaptable, compassionate towards yourself and others, accommodating and forgiving. Being soft, is not being weak, on the contrary, it is the utmost definition of strength. Water can reshape mountains, just like being soft with yourself, can reshape the biggest obstacles and hardest adversities.

We are after all human,  and that is what we always need to remember.

Be soft, be patient, be kind and be human.