Three Tips To Sustain Inner Growth

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When I started my self-love journey back in 2012, I had no idea what I was doing.  I operated in secret because I was too ashamed to admit that I needed help and I didn’t yet have a name or a language to articulate what I was feeling.  At the time, every decision I made was rooted in fear.  I would wait until my house was empty or everyone was asleep to journal because I learned very quickly that journaling to some, was a form of secrecy.  I had been accused of keeping secrets after initialing refusing to let my significant other at the time, read my journal.  Even listening to music was suspicious, especially if songs like Jessie J’s Big White Room, played on repeat.  Most days, I drove to work in tears.  My car became the one space that I could be completely vulnerable.  I played songs that rallied my heart’s cry and soothed it all at once.  I drove to stores to try on clothes that I couldn’t afford but often imagined where I could go in such beautiful garments.  I perfected putting on a happy face, even though I was face down in the mud.

It has taken me nearly 7 years to begin operating in wholeness.  Over the years I have made small discreet changes like getting up an hour early to sip coffee in sweet solitude to major changes like packing my 3 babies up and moving in with my father.  Nevertheless, with each trial and error of this journey, I’ve picked up a few tips that have helped me to sustain my inner growth and I like to share 3 that are the simplest to implement and maintain:  get up, dress up and show up.

  1.  Get up.  I once heard author Elizabeth Gilbert say, “God is whatever lifts your face out of the dirt.”  I have learned that with love all things begin and end the moment you take a step forward.  It takes one decision to activate the first step and the first step to trodden the path that leads you to wholeness-but none of it matters unless you get up.  Every day that your eyes crack open, is an opportunity to raise yourself out of the dirt.  Get up.  Even when you’ve cried yourself to sleep and your body is a million times too heavy, get up.  Laying in bed can be a dangerous seduction.  You feel like it’s the safest place to be, but in reality, it only pacifies and breeds more of the fear that holds you captive and keeps you broken.
  2. Dress up.  For many years, I didn’t shop for clothes for myself.  I was made to feel that “looking cute” was an invitation for other men to approach me or a blatant attempt to disrespect my marriage.  So, because I would rather keep the peace than to argue how ridiculously insecure this was, I wore clothes that were out of style, drabby and too big.  Shopping for myself was out of the question and even thrifting was unacceptable.  It wasn’t until I decided to fight against the projection of this insecurity that I saw just how important getting dressed was.  When I put on clothes that fit and are a true reflection of how I see myself, I feel a surge of confidence immediately.  The ritual of getting dressed has become one of the best forms of free therapy.  Yes, therapy.  Dressing up helps to set the tone for the day.  It’s me walking into the arena (thanks, Brene’ Brown), ready to take on whatever challenges I may face.  In my profession, it often communicates to others how I should be approached.  I exude confidence, even if I don’t feel it.  Not only do I dress up externally, but I also dress up mentally and spiritually.  I play music that speaks to me, like Jessie J’s Queen (the acoustic version) or L. Spenser Smith’s My Life.  I recite my favorite scriptures, Jeremiah 29:11, Luke 1:45 and Zechariah 4:10 to set up my mind for a purpose.  These days, I have fallen in love with makeup.  I carve out time in the morning to apply it because, for me, it’s like the cherry on top.  Dress your mind and your body every day.
  3. Show up.  You can’t grow where you won’t go.  Sure, I could shut myself off from people and the outside world but I would never become whole if  I do.  I got through some of my darkest days by showing up for the people who depended on me.  Even though I cried all the way to work, I gave my best to my students.  I checked homework and made my children dinner.  I attended family functions, grocery shopped, groomed the dog, mowed the lawn and fulfilled my wifely duties all while being a complete mess on the inside.  Yet, the more I showed up, the more tolerable I became with my circumstances until I got to the point where I could change them.

I have discovered that growth truly happens when we get up to face our fears, dress up with confidence and show up for our lives.  This is how you turn fear into fuel.  This is how you push forward and power through to becoming a more complete version of yourself.  2019 is all about doing what it takes and this is what it takes.



Five Tips to Becoming a Doer in 2019

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I used to be a New Year’s resolutions type girl, but this past holiday season, I decided on a new approach: do it anyway.  Now, if you follow me on social media you know that I’ve been on to something for a while now.  #DoItAnyway was a present theme for 2018, so I decided to apply this powerful mantra to all of 2019.  I used to make resolutions because that’s the messaging that society puts out-we see lots of advertising for fitness programs and dieting trends, vitamins, financial wellness programs, new wardrobe choices, gym memberships, car sales, even pitches for home decor.  Now don’t get me wrong, all that we see is to benefit the consumer, but if you’re like me-nothing seemed to stick.  I always found myself right back to old habits-just with a lot of new stuff I didn’t need.  So as 2018 was coming to a close, I was intentionally absent from social media.  I took the time to really and truly reflect on what it is that I want for my life and here is what I’ve concluded:  I have to be a doer.  It seems so simple, but when I started to evaluate my habits in relation to my goals, I noticed that delay was often not because of some external circumstance, it was a lack of action on my part.  I noticed that I would have moments where I was extremely motivated and I would make a slew of posts about whatever had sparked an interest in me only to make declarations and such that I would ultimately let go stale or that I would fail to make good on.  I realized that I was more into setting goals than actually doing the work to achieve them! Gasp!  I was addicted to visualizing and scrolling for inspirational content because it subconsciously gave me an excuse and a way to escape from the hard work that comes with achieving goals.  I was choosing to pacify my fear over actually doing what it takes to make my dreams a reality.  Oh my gosh!  To accept that I was cheating myself out of the life I wanted normally would have devastated me, but I’ve made the decision to not dwell on my challenges, but to actually do something about them.  So far, 2019 has gotten off to a wonderful start!  Here are a few steps that you can take to become a doer this year.

  1.  Cultivate discipline.  In Marc and Angel Chernoff’s Getting Back to Happy, they assert, “too often we obsess over a big goal, something we desperately want in our life, but are completely unfocused when it comes to the ritual-the recurring steps-that ultimately makes the goal attainable.”  They go on to discuss the direct relation that achievement has with discipline and how discipline is cultivated from daily rituals.  The lack of discipline is directly correlated with the stalemate we often experience in our lives.  Get you some DISCIPLINE sis!  Start with something simple, like making your bed as soon as you get up or washing your coffee cup immediately after finishing, as suggested by Marc and Angel.
  2. Implement a schedule.  March 25, 2019, my blog will be a year old and including this post, I have exactly six articles posted. Six! So, I have implemented a writing schedule.  Sundays are currently my best days for productivity, so that’s when I have scheduled myself to write and post.  No excuses. I have a goal to grow into a true platform for all things self-love and it’s just not going to get there with six posts.
  3. Be Accountable.  I completed my first speaking engagement of 2019 this past Saturday and I met some incredible people-their feedback about my short talk was all the proof I needed that I am heading in the right direction and because of this-I know the work that I have set out to do is necessary.  I can no longer operate the way I did in 2018.  I owe it to them and my masterwork to get my shit together.  With that, I have enlisted an accountability partner.  She is a no-nonsense, do-what-you-said, kick you in the ass-type.  She is also a doer and her work speaks for her.
  4. Create a workable plan.  Since I’ve started this whole life-changing journey of self-love, I have been inspired to take myself to higher heights, to change how I define myself and to destroy my own limiting beliefs.  I thrive off of small successes, so I have learned to take my big goals and break them down into smaller goals that I can work on and achieve quickly.  The momentum gained from these small successes builds my momentum for work towards the bigger ones.  My plan includes a timeline and a checkpoint-these serve to keep me on track and to assess my progress.
  5. Trust yourself.  Trust in my ability has been one of the biggest hurdles for me.  I either invite a past failure or fear into the present or I over think the future with a hailstorm of what-ifs.  In order to stop this cycle, I apply this principle to making decisions:  I trust myself to be able to handle it-whether the result is positive or negative-I can handle it.

This year, let’s move past seeing it and get into doing it.  We can do this!