For those of you who follow me in on Instagram, you know that I’ve been sharing some photos of my hand lettering work. It’s something I’ve sort of always dabbled in, and I finally decided that my insane insecurity of imperfection was, well, insane. I realized it was time to be honest about this part of me, imperfections and all, and share it with the world. Your support and encouragement has been absolutely overwhelming and I’m so thankful for your kindness. Many of you have asked if I’m going to open a print shop, and the truth is that I don’t think I will at this time. Right now hand lettering is my creative outlet, it’s something I do to de-stress (since I’m not currently drinking wine and don’t have time to quilt or sew) and I’m not ready for that to change quite yet. But don’t worry, I’ll still be offering pieces for sale and hosting giveaways, and making things for to send out at random intervals. Because that’s how I roll.
And for now, you can download your own copy of this brand new, made-by-me, desktop wallpaper and have one of my most favorite pieces so far staring back at you as you
waste time on Facebook/pinterest/instagram work.
Four months ago I stood in front of my mirror and sobbed. Shoulder bobbing, chest heaving, nose running, cried. I couldn’t stand my reflection, the girl I had let myself become. My clothes didn’t fit, I didn’t feel good, and I had spent the better part of a year convincing myself that I was happy with how I looked. That I didn’t care if I was carrying around 5 extra pounds (okay ten) because my body had done amazing things (hello, wombfruits!) and I would carry those scars with pride. Stretch marks. Sagging skin. A jiggly midsection. Big thighs. I told myself those things were beautiful. I screamed it to myself and forced myself to believe it. I threw the words “self-acceptance” and “love” at myself like a knife, over and over again until it finally hit the mark.
Some days the knife-throwing didn’t work. Some days, no matter how ingrained my “you are beautiful” mindset was, I couldn’t bring myself to swallow my own line of bullshit. So I’d take a different approach. I’d remind myself that life is about enjoyment, not exclusion. Indulgence not sacrifice. Too short to skip dessert, I would drink wine and eat cake and life live to its fullest. I was emphatic that I was wholeheartedly embracing my existence instead of passively accepting a tedious monotony.
Until I woke up one morning and saw my reflection and didn’t recognize myself. Until my attempts at forcing myself to be happy – to love the woman I was – stopped working. Until I came to the realization that they had never fully worked to begin with.
So I took a risk. I hired a trainer and asked you, my darling friends and clients and readers, to support me. To cheer me on. To hold me accountable and not let me quit. No matter how badly I wanted to. And you did. (thank you. no. really. THANK YOU.)
It’s been twelve weeks (plus two) since I embarked on my fitness journey. To say that this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done would be an understatement. It is absolutely, incredibly, without-a-doubt difficult, and I have to motivate myself several times every. single. day. To keep going. To get up and do. To step away from the chocolate. But I keep reminding myself that it’s not forever. (The stepping away from the chocolate part, especially!) That I’m training incredibly hard right now so that I can put my body to work for me – not against me – and live the life I want. The one in which I can run up stairs without getting winded, or pick up both my girls and put them in bed. The one in which I can come home from work, and run a quick two miles so that I can indulge in a glass of wine and not feel guilty about it. Or add another 10 pounds to the barbell in BodyPump just to see if I can.
Little things – things I never noticed before about my body – are starting to emerge as the fat migrates off my body, and I’m loving the discoveries. I see muscles in places I didn’t know I had muscles. My arms don’t jiggle when I wave. I can actually (sort of) see the outline of my achilles tendon. Most of the cellulite on my thighs is gone (so is, much to my chagrin, and entire cup size off my chest). My body is getting stronger, and even though I still struggle to love my reflection as a whole, I’m starting to fall madly in love with so many parts of it.
For a girl who has spent the past two years helping women love themselves and discover their own beauty, my newfound appreciation for the girl in the photo at the top of this page is profound. There are always going to be things I don’t like about myself, but I’m not going to hide behind the things that I cannot change as a reason to not tackle the things I can change. I’m going to fight like hell to be the change I want to see. To stop dreaming about it and continue doing it. Every single day. Because it’s not about perfection, it’s simply about progress. I aim for it – and nothing more – every single morning when the alarm goes off and the gym shoes go on.
And then I aim for coffee.
(photo credit: Jen Woodruff)
I’m going to be honest. I mean really honest. I mean more honest than I’ve ever been with myself even honest. I suck at loving myself. I’m really really great at loving others. At doing things and being there for my friends and family. Even for perfect strangers. I put everyone first, while I settle for last place. Happily. Easily. Without-a-second’s-hesitation-aly. But it ends now. It has to. I’m going to crack.
I hate my body. But what’s worse, is that I don’t love myself enough to have the courage it takes to do something about it.
Which makes me hate myself, too.
For years I’ve heard people tell me that I look great. I’m “so small,” but you guys! I’m five feet tall. Of course I’m small. The truth is that when I take off my clothes and see my reflection, I’m brought to tears. I’ve hidden behind the excuse of having a thyroid condition since I was diagnosed three years ago. I’ve pretended that I love myself just the way I am. I’ve spent the better part of a year trying desperately to say it loud enough and often enough in the hope that one day I’d wake up and the idea would stick. Take root. Grow.
But the soil is fallow. Nothing is sprouting. It’s time to plant a new crop.
I need to find a way to love myself enough to do. And that scares the hell out of me. Terrifies me. It’s been really easy to be broken. To be unhappy because of the way I look. What if I get fit and I’m still unhappy? What then? What do I hide behind when the weight comes off? I can’t even begin to pretend to know the answers to these questions, but I do know that I can’t keep doing nothing. I can’t continue to feign happiness. I can’t make it materialize one morning just because I want it. I have to work for it.
I have to start.
So here I go. After watching this girl embark upon (and beautifully and successfully complete) this journey – with a job or two, and two lovely daughters, and a busy busy life – I decided that the time to hesitate was through. Today I hired a fitness coach; I filled out a questionnaire about the food I eat and the exercise I (don’t really) do, and I committed to twelve weeks. Twelve little weeks in this great big life of mine to finally put myself first. To finally matter to myself as much as everyone else matters. To BE the change. To be love.
To do more than make a resolution. To stop breaking promises. To stop telling myself I can’t do it before I even try.
It’s time for me to be more than simply alive.
It’s time for me to live.
Help me. Encourage me. Don’t let me quit.
I want this, you guys.
(photo by my favorite anda marie).