Comfortable in my own skin (and it only took me 30 years to do it)

A few years ago I used to co-facilitate a  workshop for pre adolescent girls. The themes of  the workshop  focused on body image, and increasing self-esteem. Bi weekly my co-facilitator and I would have sessions with these girls to assist them with  becoming comfortable with themselves, and learning how to see themselves as beautiful both inside and out. During one of our sessions we began the group by handing each of the girls a mirror and, asked them to look into the mirror while telling themselves that they were beautiful.  None of the girls were able to do this task. They were not able to say “I am beautiful”. The girls told me if they said that then they would sound conceited, and they didn’t want to come off as conceited. I gave them permission to be as conceited  as they wanted. They continued to struggle. We were in a room with nine girls aged 11-13, not one of them were able to stand up, look in a mirror, and tell themselves that they were beautiful.

When is it acceptable for us to be comfortable in our own skin?

Now that I am 30, I can safely say to myself that I Am Beautiful. I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and think to myself, hey I look pretty cute. Am I being conceited? Some people might think so. But honestly, I don’t even care. As long as I am happy with me, my whole self, inside and out, what other people think is a secondary notion that spends little time in my mind.

Now that I am 30, I am at peace with myself. To be comfortable with myself goes far beyond the way I look in the mirror. I am a girl, so some days I will have my “fat days”, or my “I look like a hot mess” days, but even on those days I will be comfortable with who I am. This is only possible because I have found a sense of inner peace. I have calmed down from over thinking what everyone else expects of me, and what everyone else wants me to be. What is the sense of working so hard to please everyone else, when I am not putting any energy into pleasing myself? I have chosen to please myself first. If others do not agree, then its a great thing that this is my life. I can only be affected by those things that I allow to affect me. If it is positive then bring it on! If it is negative, well then it can stay far far away from me.

Now that I am 30, I choose to be in control.  I am in control of what happens in my life. At 30 I am at the most mentally, physically, and spiritually stable point in my life. I know how to control my moods, I am aware of my body’s emotional regulation so I do  not feel like a crazy person. I can run faster and longer than ever before, exercise has become a daily fixture in my life, and my body has the strength to overcome many physical challenges because of its constant conditioning. I am doing things that I have never done before, like actually sign up for races (who knew I would be doing that at 30?). I look forward to physical challenges, sweat is great, and exercise pain is my new best friend.  I am spiritually ready for what God has in store for me. Years ago I was far from ready for what God had planned for me. God knows exactly what he is doing, walking by faith, I will let him take the lead. With God and balance I will continue to be just fine.

Now that I am 30, I just like being me. I will always say it, I am a little bit different. I am slightly to the left, I am clumsy, I hesitate to wear white because I know something will spill on it. I hate getting my hair and nails done because I think it takes too long to finish, and I dislike shopping because I hate waiting in lines. Some days I never know if I’m coming or going, and I work best when I can just wing it. That is me. I laugh at my own jokes, and I can easily laugh at myself for doing something silly. I have a ton of faults, and I love them all. I am a consistent marcher to the beat of my own drum, and my beat sure does sound damn good (well in my head). I can only be me. And finally, I have fallen so deep in love with me!

So hopefully now it is acceptable for me to be comfortable in my own skin. Because if not, I don’t have another 30 years to waste on being someone else.

 

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences.

 

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Are we really ever prepared for life’s changes?

There is really no preparation for life, you just live it and see what happens. Life happens quick. Change is constant. No one prepares you for change, but you always know it will come. How can you be ready? Lessons are learned in life as you go along. You make mistakes, you make more mistakes, you make bad choices, some days you make good choices, through it all you hope to keep living.

Looking back on the last few years of my life, I wonder how I got to this point. The point of today. Standing on my balcony in Honolulu, overlooking the mountains going toward the Pali. How did I get here? It feels like yesterday I was in New York, living on West 150th street in Harlem, taking the subway to work, feeling like life had no purpose. 3 years ago I would never have thought that I would be standing on a balcony living in Honolulu. Is this real?

Life happens quick. I have no idea what is going to happen next. Sometimes I wonder where I will be 3 years from today. I wonder if I will still be in Honolulu? I suddenly stop my mind  to avoid getting wrapped up on the future, and changes in the future that may cause anxiety. I need to focus on living for today.

When life happens you change, other people change, everything changes. Change should be for the better right? Then why do some people change for the worse? I hope that today I am a better person than I was 3 years ago. I feel like I have grown for the better. 3 years ago I spent a lot of time being in love with someone who didn’t know how to love me. Over the past 3 years I have learned how to love myself.  3 years ago I found myself being afraid to just live, now all I want to do is live. 3 years ago I wondered if I would be able to survive in life alone, now I know that I cannot only strive when I am alone, but I am openly ready to accept the help from others. It is true I have grown.

Life will continue to happen quick. One day at a time, it will move faster than ever. But everyday I feel more prepared for what happens. Through the obstacles of past lessons learned, and with the challenges of future lessons to come, I will be forever prepared to keep living.

 

 

 

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Life Happens: Be ready for the changes

Life happens quick, watch out for the changes.

In a week 2011 will be over. What the heck happened to the last 365 days? I am having a hard time grasping the fact that it is already December 24, 2011. I feel like I missed something. Maybe an entire year of life.

I  feel as if  I grew a lot this year. Even though I did not have any major life changing accomplishments in 2011, I feel vastly different from this time last year. Recently, I have had an immense feeling of excitement, and inspiration. Normally I would blame that feeling on the super large amount of caffeine I intake each day, or  possibly a sudden passing moment of mania because I have labeled myself as having bipolar moments every so often. But no, this time the excitement is different. I feel like I am ready for what’s next. Does that mean I am ready for 2012? Maybe. As with every year-end we often say, “next year is going to be my year”.  Or the cliched, “next year is going to different”.  I am not hoping for so much to change, however, I have a feeling that 2012 will be my breakout year.

In therapy, we often talk about stages of change with clients while doing motivational interviewing.  The stages go from  pre-contemplation, to contemplation, to preparation, to action, to maintenance, to relapse (well its an addiction counseling modeling actually, hence the relapse), but I always think that the concept of the model can be translated to any change in life. Over the past few years I have been going through my cycle of change, and I would say from 2010-2011 I moved from contemplation to preparation (everything before that was pre-contemplation). In 2012 I will be ready for action. I am ready to act on the ideas that have been processing in my mind, follow my path, and show the world my purpose. Does this sound a little manic? Well yeah maybe, but if you are going to have a dream, be sure to make that dream big.

Even though I did little in 2011, I grew a lot. It’s funny because when I think about the last three years since I have been in Hawaii, I feel like I grew up more than I have in my entire life. Excuse me while I sound a bit cheesy, but I have truly gained understanding and clarity. With insight comes a sense of peace, and life will be just fine. Everyone I have met has had an impact on my life, and I am finally starting to realize why I needed to be where I am, why I needed to meet the people who have entered my life, and what I am capable of doing next. The future used to scare me, now I wake up excited to enjoy the present.  No one can predict life, it is filled with uncertainty. The uncertainty makes it all the more interesting.

Normally I would end the year by feeling sad that another year has passed me by, I would want time to slow down. I will end 2011 with acceptance that the year is coming to a close, grateful for all that I have learned, and excited that I am fully prepared for whatever may come my way.

Life changes quick, be prepared for the changes.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

You are powerful beyond measure, now just believe it

Marriane Williamson states : “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”

Those words are inspiring, yet so scary. To think “I AM POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE.” What a frightening thought. I write this as I enter into a new stage of life. One that will require some creative risks, but also one that can lead me on a path to a better concept of my success. However, when I think of what I am able to accomplish I hesitate to move forward. I doubt my own abilities. I become too stuck to try, and fear the mistakes along the way. Then I say, what’s the point of living if you’re not going to make mistakes. Without those mistakes there is no room to grow. I told myself a long time ago that I want to live. I want to live my life, my best life. Currently I am standing in my own way.

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I find myself reciting that sentence in my head throughout each second of the day. It is a constant reminder that God has a plan that is so much greater than the plan I have for myself. I am gifted, I am talented. I fear my own talents. With fear I am not living.

To grow you must  leap, to live you must not be afraid to fly. The saying “To fail is not to try”, also comes to me. My light shines bright, my task: follow it and become that powerful being that is my purpose.

 

Positive thoughts, Positive energy, Positive experiences

 

From Wall Street to Honolulu, pick a city, any city and occupy it

APEC is coming to Honolulu next week. Let the protests begin! (If you don’t know what APEC is don’t worry, I didn’t know either until I went to the website)

The occupy movement which started on wall street, eventually has made its way to Honolulu. It is interesting to hear that there is an actual  occupy Honolulu movement. Protests in paradise, just doesn’t have the same feel as a New York protest. If I was in New York I may head down to wall street to witness this aspect of American History. In Honolulu, I am headed past the protest, straight to the beach. Honolulu is known for its tourism, it is a vacation destination. People usually don’t go on vacation to join a protest (at least I don’t think so). If you happen to live in Honolulu, you live with Aloha, and you still are unlikely to join a protest.

Needless to say, the Occupy Honolulu,  Hilo, or Maui movements, will never get as much coverage as occupying Wall Street, or DC.  Because Honolulu is so far away from the mainland, it can be difficult at times to connect to the issues of the nation. With a large amount of ocean water, and a 6 hour time difference from the east coast, the mainland can feel like another country some days.

If anyone truly sees all of Hawaii, you will see that much of Hawaii is filled with the 99%. It would be surprising if anyone in the 1% actually lives on one of the Hawaiian islands, my feeling is that they just come here as a lavish vacation destination.

Wall Street New York
Image by Mathew Knott via Flickr

The occupy Wall Street movement was started on a good basis. To bad the basis hasn’t yet reached a  consensus. With everyone having a different reason to occupy any city, the 99% actually looks like a joke to the top 1%.  The top 1% should earn money, you work hard earn money. But don’t expect bailouts and government handouts. The inequality in taxes is disturbing. There are truly reasons to protest.  But are the protest being heard? Is anything really going to change from these protest or will the movement become yesterday’s news? New York winters are harsh so I don’t expect the Wall Street protesters to be out there much longer. Sleeping in tents in the winter will never sound like much fun. Maybe some of them can come to Honolulu for the winter, and occupy the streets of paradise. With more people, the occupy Honolulu movement may get some positive attention. Without the people, it is a sad picture of a movement.

Honolulu International Airport
Image via Wikipedia

With APEC starting, I’m sure more people will be out for the protest. I still am not sure what they are protesting, but I will let you know when I find out. Let’s start making signs, and put Honolulu on the map. We are more than just a vacation destination. Honolulu is also a city that is down to fight for the cause.

Is this what it was like in the 1970’s?

Positive energy, positive thoughts, positive experiences

I want a wedding! But you can keep that whole marriage thing for yourself

Today in entertainment news it was announced that Kim Kardashian and her short-term husband Kris Humphries are getting divorced. Is anyone really shocked by this? Probably not (well apparently Kris is). Yet, the end of such a highly publicized relationship does lead some discussion about a more important topic: When you say yes to marrying someone, are you saying yes to the wedding, or yes to the actual marriage?

Kim and Kris were married 72 days. Wow only 72 days! Seasons last longer than that. They were a match made in reality T.V. heaven, maybe that was problem number one. Reality T.V. is not real life. When the cameras stop rolling, and the checks stop coming, you are actually stuck with a real person. The person that millions of people watched you say you were ready to spend the rest of your life with. Not the rest of the summer with. Marriage vows are supposedly said for a reason. For better or worse, until death do us part right? That is for real in real life.

Kim Kardashian at the Seventh Annual Hollywood...
Image via Wikipedia

The  point of this post is not to attack Kim and Kris for their decisions on their relationship. A lot of blame is being put on Kim for the whole wedding extravaganza, but Kris is an adult (even though he appeared a bit immature at times), he knew what he was walking into, he chose to keep walking.  Nobody has ever offered to pay me millions of dollars to watch me get married, maybe if someone did I might just get married and divorced real quick too.  I wonder if the sanctity of marriage has turned into a downgraded concept, that is easily replaced with the freedom of divorce. Is marriage really just a piece of paper with no meaning?

With age comes responsibility. I know a few married couples, I also know people who have been married and are now divorced.  A wedding is an exciting time for a woman. It starts from the moment of engagement. The ring! Most girls grow up dreaming of  the fairy tale wedding. Once the ring is placed, you can start planning your childhood fantasy, with  flowers, poofy dress and all. For some planning a wedding is a stressful time, but to make the fairy tale perfect stress must be involved.

One thing that I have come to realize it is easy to get married. I know I have said this before, anyone can get married. But getting married to the right person, and making the marriage work is the truly the hard part. The work should not start after the wedding is over, and the flowers have died. The work actually starts way before that. Before the engagement ring is even put on the women’s finger, both people should have a basic understanding that this marriage is going to be work. If either of you think otherwise, well then you may be filing for divorce in 72 days.

A wedding starts with a wedding planner. A marriage starts with communication. Communication should have started from day one. Okay, so maybe you were late with that communication thing, but it should have started way before the day of your dream wedding. In my work, I both love and hate doing marriage counseling. It is great to work with a couple that is at least agreeing to work on their marriage, but it is difficult to teach people to communicate when they never have  felt comfortable communicating before. Love should not hurt, and neither should communication, so proper communication takes a lot of work.

When I have counseled women who are  in intimate relationships, they often tell me they are afraid to communicate with their partner. I have heard many times, “if I tell him this, then he may leave me”. When I hear that I immediately think, well if you don’t tell him, then your relationship is based on a lie. When you lie to yourself, eventually the truth starts to eat you up mentally and physically.

A relationship also involves making expectations clear. If you have fear in expressing your expectations, say to yourself, “is this the type of marriage that I really want to enter into?”  Before the wedding, have the conversation about the expectations for your new family. Talk about where the both of you want to live, do the both of you want kids, how important is contact with the in-laws, everything down to the subject of  pets. If it is a topic to importance for you, say it to your partner. Your partner may not agree with you, but then at least you can have that conversation before the wedding.

Also, don’t go into a marriage with hope that the other person will eventually change their mind, or you can make them change their mind on something. That rarely is possible, and you will set yourself up for disappointment if you have that expectation. If they tell you straight up what they want or expect from the beginning, take that as a fact. You then have the choice to accept it or move on.

I can understand why Kim Kardashian may have been quick to want to marry. It was a fabulous wedding after all. She got to play princess for a day, and she was living every young girl’s fantasy of Cinderella marrying her Prince. Kim just turned 31, so the pressure from herself, her family, and society, to get married and start a family must hit at full speed (that feeling is one that I do actually know about). She has said that she wants a family;  how do you start a family? With a husband! Whether it was well thought out or not, Kris was the man with the ring, so he got the role of husband.  Kim is a beautiful girl, so no matter what happens she will have  no trouble finding a man. However, next time  now that she has had the dream wedding, she will take a little more time and plan an actual vision for the marriage.

If your marriage lasts less than 90 days do you have to return all the wedding gifts?

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences