Self-Love Saturday: Developing & Maintaining Confidence…Keep Your Head Up!

Having confidence in myself has been a life long struggle for me.

No surprise considering how abusive my childhood and teen years were.

The environment I lived in just wasn’t conducive for a healthy dose of self-confidence to be grown and cultivated.

One way this has impacted me as an adult is that I walk with my head down and have a hard time looking people in the eye.  Even if my head happens to be up as I’m walking around my campus or down the street, it goes down as soon as I see someone approaching…it sinks lower and lower the closer they get until they pass me by.

I didn’t even take notice of this habit until about a year ago. A friend of mine who’s a therapist pointed it out and suggested I work on changing it. Breaking out of old habits to develop new ones isn’t easy, but I’ve found that walking with my head up has become easier as I’ve gotten more comfortable with who I am over the past few months.

This week I realized I was starting to slip back into my old habit, and since it’s not reflective of  how I’m feeling about myself these days, I made a concentrated effort to ensure I walked with my head held high and looked others in the eye with a smile as I went to and fro on campus, at Brennan’s daycare, walking down the street, running in the park….and guess what? It felt good and gave me even more confidence each time I did.

Like I always say, this self-love and acceptance journey isn’t easy, but I’m learning the rewards are so worth having and keeping in my life.

If you’re like me and need help walking with your head up in  spite of how you feel or what’s going on in your life, may I suggest singing and dancing to this song?

It’s been on repeat in my head and on my iPod for the past two weeks….and it definitely helps 🙂

So what about you? Do you have a habit good or bad that reflects how you feel about yourself? What do you think it says about you and how you feel about yourself? How do you cultivate confidence in yourself and even your kids? 

Advertisements

Self-Love Saturday: Celebrate Uniqueness & Embrace Your Superpower

“Mommie I really like your hair, with all the colors…It has my favorite color in it, green. That’s my favorite. Green & orange. You have those, right there and right there, right?” Awww thank you Bren Bren. Green is your … Continue reading

A Makeover

It’s amazing what a haircut can do for your spirits and self-image.

There’s something about getting the right stylist, one who does an incredible consult, listens to what you want done, and brings your thoughts and desires, spoken and unspoken, to reality….all while taking the time to chat and speak words of wisdom and life into you as they do so.

It’s been stirring in my gut for 3-4 weeks to cut my hair. My intuition had been telling me since my birthday back in December it was time for a change and to embrace something new….so I tried accomplishing that with more hair color, more bright, bold hues…but it still wasn’t enough and I knew it. I knew I needed something more and finally decided to make the chop.

I knew it was time because I could see that it wasn’t as healthy as it used to be. It was starting break off and just feel lifeless…heavy even. It wasn’t until this week when I realized why: I was still carrying around the baggage from the past two years…my rocky relationship and break up, my depression during and after pregnancy, my spiritual ups and downs, my struggle with motherhood, my struggle to untangle myself from and overcome my abusive past….I’ve been carrying all of that around with me since the last big chop I did in July 2009 and my gut told me this week it’s time to let it allllll go.

Cutting off the dead weight of the past two years is just another step in the process of getting free this year (see Dance Party Friday: Get Free Edition) and I’m do glad I went for it.

I woke up feeling bogged down by heaviness and am going to sleep feeling like a new me, a fresh and renewed A’Driane. Lighter, healthier, stronger, ready to face what’s coming next.

I feel like ME. I’m finally feeling cozy in my own skin and in who I am. And that’s the best feeling in the world y’all.

20120202-221211.jpg

20120202-221224.jpg

20120202-221243.jpg

20120202-221318.jpg

20120202-221331.jpg

20120202-221353.jpg

20120202-221405.jpg

Self-Love Saturday: Make a Self-Love Contract

While cleaning up the disaster zone known as my bedroom this week, I came across a notebook I hadn’t seen in a while. Curious as to what was in it, I started flipping through it and came across several entries from during & after my pregnancy with Alex.  I was blown away by reading what I had written during those times and it’s very clear to me now that I definitely had some antenatal depression, which is something I wish I had the courage back then to recognize and seek treatment for. Perhaps if I had, my experience with PPD & anxiety would have been drastically different. But it wasn’t and that’s ok because I’ve learned valuable things from it, I’ve met valuable people from it, and I’m able to help others by sharing my experience, so hey at least it served a purpose right?

Something else I came across that was rather interesting and rather inspiring was a sort of contract I had written out to myself. I’m not sure exactly when I wrote it, but reading it brought tears to my eyes, because it was full of love and compassion to myself, something that was missing a lot during the past 2 years.

So, since I was inspired by what I read, I thought I’d share it with you and encourage you to make up your own Self-Love Contract/Goal sheet. I updated some of it, especially the parts about beating depression since I now have a new diagnosis.

addyeB’s Self-Love Contract

I, A’Driane Nicole Dudley,  agree to do the following:

  • Believe that I am an awesome person.
  • Believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who loves me tremendously
  • Believe that I am a good woman, even with all of my flaws & imperfections
  • Will be confident in my abilities as a woman, mother, Christian, student, writer, dancer, etc
  • Believe that I am beautiful. Really.
  • Battle stigmas surrounding mental illness
  • Take my medications everyday
  • Attend every therapy appointment unless an emergency occurs
  • Read God’ word everyday, even if it’s just one line!
  • Talk to God daily
  • Smile at least once a day
  • Be colorful-from my hair, to my clothes & accessories, to how I decorate my house…I will live in COLOR
  • Will allow myself to make mistakes & give myself room to learn from them
  • Be a strong, loving & nurturing mother for my boys without smothering them or inhibiting them from being who they are.
  • Attain my degree in social work, a masters in counseling, and a certification in DANCE movement therapy
  • LOVE myself
  • Be KIND to myself
  • Share my stories with others. Live wholehearted. Be vulnerable. Be open. Reach out. Advocate for others & myself.
  • “Recover” from Bipolar Disorder through compliance, exercise, nutrition, a structured routine, and coping strategies.
  • Dance at least 2-3 times a week.
  • Love my muffin topped, overstretched, tiger striped belly…because I’m a real woman and this belly housed my incredible boys. I will appreciate my body for what’s it’s gone through and given me.
  • I will paint-even thought I have no idea what I’m doing. HA!
  • Yoga…lots of yoga. Only doing exercises that work with my body not against it.
So that’s my contract. It’s not set in stone and is open to adjustments, additions, etc as time goes one. It’s kinda like my life list, but it’s a LOVE list. To me, and for me. To print out and put up where I can see it every day and remind myself to LOVE….ME.
Do you have a list like this? Would you do one? What would you put on it? Feel free to share!
p.s. A few months ago I wrote a SLS post about dying my hair and living my life in color…can I tell you that that decision was the BEST one I’ve made like, EVER? It’s been such a freeing experience y’all. For years I wanted to dye my hair and express my creativity in that fashion but either couldn’t or was too afraid of other’s opinions…now? Look at me 🙂 This is truly what it feels like to live outside the corners of your mind…

Yea you can call me Rainbow Bright...

Self-Love Saturday: A Dose of Euphoria to Mask the Pain

It’s self love Saturday. It was a good day.

I started off feeling rather good about myself.

I laughed and played with the boys.

I danced. A lot. To my favorite songs.

I spent the day helping my ex run errands (you’ll find out why during Tuesday’s post).

We shopped for necessities.

It’s self love Saturday. It was a rather great day.

It’s funny how just shopping for what you need can lead you to toeing the line that borders euphoria….

Well….

I didn’t just toe it today…I stepped right over and into it with glee in my heart.

I wish the glee were authentic…

It wasn’t until an hour ago that I realized it was just my soul’s way of protecting me from the pain that’s eating at me like cancer. It shielded me long enough so I could have a pretty awesome day.

And even though I’ve cycled into a low, I’ll take the euphoria that shields me any day….

Because this pain…

Having to deal with the hell that is sexual abuse…..the flashbacks, the hurt, the shame, the ripping off of bandages that close unhealed wounds….

Is too much to bear at the moment. My therapist…she told me this might happen…that opening the box would illicit Pandora and all of her buried emotions…

It’s self love Saturday. I had a really good day….until a few hours ago when I realized how unprotected and alone I felt….when I realized that the only way to be made whole and to allow love, real love into my heart and life is to endure the pain of the past so I don’t reject my future.

It’s self love Saturday…it was a rather splendid day….

Until I got that phone call…

(please remind me to be kind to myself)

Self-Love Saturday: In Pictures

New colors in the ‘do…

20120107-184528.jpg

<a

Tea before therapy….

20120107-184613.jpg

Mani….

20120107-184725.jpg

Pedi….(FINALLY)

20120107-184758.jpg

Some inspiration on how to “embrace my different kind of beauty.”

20120107-184901.jpg

Snuggling on the couch with a sweet friend….(tasty too!)

20120107-190359.jpg

And that is how I’ve spent my Saturday, taking care of myself and allowing someone to treat me to some much needed pampering.

I needed it today. Therapy was long and intense because we started exhuming my experience with sexual abuse…and all of the emotions I hadn’t allowed myself to feel about it. It was brutal…but it was worth it because it’s time I processed it so I can be healed…move closer to be whole…

Wholehearted living…living and no longer just surviving…and learning to love myself through all of it. Those are the goals.

What about you? Do you have any goals or desires in the self-love department? Were you kind to yourself today?

Self Love Saturday: Thank you, 2011. You’ve Taught Me Well

Well…here we are. My last post and last Self-Love Saturday of the year.

I woke up at 3:00 this morning because it felt like my heart was going to explode from all the gratitude that’s currently surging through it. A couple of months ago, I wrote a SLS post about focusing on the good things, and that’s exactly what I had been doing before I went to sleep last night: meditating on all the good and all I’ve learned in 2011. I said yesterday that it was a painful year, but I’ve come out of the pain a more wholehearted person than I was before encountering it. I’ve learned an incredible amount about myself, motherhood, blogging, faith, and just people in general.

I think it’s only fitting that I spend the last day of the year and my last Self-Love Saturday celebrating the good and allowing this surge of gratitude I feel just take over. Resolutions, goals, and aspirations for the New Year can only be built upon the foundation we’ve laid during the previous one…and I’d like to think that I’m going into 2012 with a strong one!

SO. What brings about this swell of gratitude?  Well in 2011 I….

  •  graduated with an Associates in Liberal Arts & Communications in May
  •  received treatment for my PPD & Anxiety
  •  was accepted to a 4 year University (in 2010 I was rejected from 2)
  •  found Postpartum Progress
  •  found an overwhelmingly amazing community of women & bloggers I consider my friends (Hello #PPDChat Army & Band Back Together!)
  •  accepted WordPress’ “Post a Day” Challenge-I didn’t write every single day all the time, but I came pretty close!
  • MOVED OUT OF NEW JERSEY!
  • survived my first semester at PBU
  • accomplished 4 things off of my Life List
  • Saw my cousin perform a tribute to Prince in NYC
  • was introduced to Brene Brown’s work, the concepts of owning your story, and wholehearted living
  • was diagnosed with rapid cycling  Bipolar Disorder II….which led me down the right path to effective treatment and medications. I’m not as close to managing it as I’d like, but I’m FAR better than I was just 6 months ago.
  • finally found a psychiatrist and therapists who I love and work well with
  • received my first kiss from Alex
  • laugh more
  • cry less
  • am able to actually play with my boys instead of being afraid or unable to be around them
  • established a solid support group of friends online & “in real life”
  • started Dance Party Fridays and the journey toward self-acceptance & healthy body image
  • Fell in love with YOGA!
  • Learned that I adore all things colorfully bright & bold
  • bought my ticket to my FIRST EVER blogging conference, BlogHer12 in NYC. (CAN’T WAIT!!!!)
  • found out that I’m more of a science geek than I thought (Thank you Dr. Gossard!)
  • started painting
  • Fell in love with pastels & sketching
  • Signed up for NaNoWriMo and OWNED IT….knocking out 50,000 words of my first book 🙂
  • talked with Katherine Stone, Karen Walrond, and Joy Tanksley- 3 women I admire immensely!
  • had my “busiest” blogging day ever: August 26, 2011 with 145 views!
  • was recognized as one of the top 20 Writers on Postpartum Depression by Postpartum Progress & community
  • was nominated for WeGoHealth’s “Best Kept Secret Health Activist” Award! (EEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG! OMG! OMG! I’m so honored-I don’t even care if I win, seriously..such a great list of nominees!)

and that’s just scratching surface! So many good and wonderful things have happened in spite of the difficult places I found myself in, and if I had been in those difficult places, I wouldn’t have met all of you!

Seriously. Every single one of you who take the time to read about my life here on ‘Confessions has made an impact on my life this year, and I’m just thankful and appreciative that you stop by here. All of your comments have helped me get through the hard stuff, and it means the world to me.  Life gets busy, trust me, I know…so the fact that you take the time to read and comment is incredible to me.

To all the bloggers I’ve met this year: you are the most beautiful & strong women I’ve ever met in my 29 years. Thank you for embracing me, laughing with me, sending me hugs over WiFi, dancing with me, and sharing writing space with me! Thank you Jaime & Susan for gracing ‘Confessions with your awesome insight and writing skills by guest posting (and for “hanging out” with me on Google +!)….and thank you Kim, Lauren, & Katherine for walking with me during some of my darkest moments and helping me fight.

To my ex: We aren’t together and as hard as that has been to accept before, I do now and I know it’s for the best. We are both healthier for it. Thank you for continuing to be a friend to me, in a capacity that is healthiest for you.

So…there you have it folks. Thank you 2011. You’ve taught me well and I am grateful for what you brought my way these 12 months. I’m happy to say I feel strong enough to embrace what’s on the horizon in 2012…I have a feeling it’s going to be good, y’all. So take some time and think about the good things today…and spend the last day of the year being kind to yourself…

WE MADE IT!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

you know you want to….go ahead….Dance with me!

Self-Love Saturday: Paying Attention is Everything

“Is there anything else you can suggest I do to find out what goes in my Box? I mean, how will I really know it belongs there? How will I know it’s really….ME?”

“Well, I really think the best thing you can do is to just really start to pay attention to yourself when you’re in a situation. What kinds of things catch your eye in the store, or when you’re surfing the net? What do you find yourself reading? What lifts you out of a low mood? What kinds of things stabilize you? When you encounter such things or are in certain situations, try to take a step back and pay attention to how you feel.  Try to notice the kind of physical and emotional response you’re having to what stimulates and depresses you…notice even, where you feel these particular emotions. Are they in your heart? In your stomach? Yea…I think you just have to start really paying attention. Your body will tell you, you just have to listen.” 

 That’s a snippet of the conversation I had with my VA therapist on Tuesday. Since my focus the past month or so has been on finding out what goes in my Box of All Things A’Driane, I took her response to heart and really tried to focus this week on doing just what she said: pay attention & listen.

Between Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday I learned that……

  • While I want to be a counselor/therapist and help people one on one, advocating for groups of people, learning about people & their experiences, and helping certain populations of people is a passion of mine. The population I want to advocate for the most?  Women-women who are mothers, women veterans, women who have been abused, and women who live & struggle with mental illness. I fit into every one of those categories, so it only makes sense that I would feel impassioned to help those in these areas, right?
  • I have a heart for abuse victims and their rights. The PSU controversy this week left me in a stew of emotions, mostly anger and a yearning to take action in some way so their rights and their voice could be heard. Again, considering my experience with sexual abuse & molestation, it makes perfect sense.
  • I’m not a one dimensional person and have to be around people who are as diverse as I am.
  • I’m a creative person, so that means I’m an expressive person. I like to express myself through my hair (hence the fro and wild colors) and through what I wear. I like wearing clothing that speaks to who I am and my personality. I recognized this when I first colored my hair a few weeks ago, but also this evening when I saw this shirt and my heart nearly exploded in joy:
Very much “me”, no?
  • Watching my sons be just who they are, expressing who they are gives me a warm and fuzzy in my heart and a nod of agreement in my gut that I’m doing the right thing as a parent. I wasn’t allowed to talk much less be myself growing up, so to recognize that allowing my kids to do something I wasn’t helped me see what kind of parent I am and want to strive to be.
So…on my quest to find out what goes in my Box of All Things A’Driane, I’ve started paying attention: to my thoughts, to my emotions, to how I respond inwardly to what’s going on around me. I can honestly say doing so even for just the past 4-5 days has really started to give me a clearer picture of who I am and how I can “feed” my inner self….It’s helping me see my inner moxie and even teaching me how to treat myself, which I think is pretty comforting and awesome.
Speaking of treating oneself, since it’s Self-Love Saturday, I thought I’d share a couple of things that speak to showing yourself some kindness. The first is a clip from one of my FAVORITE shows, Parks & Recreation…..
And the second is just a song that makes me feel good. It’s addicting, it makes me twirl around and sing at the top of my lungs and it just puts me in a good space…enjoy. And if you haven’t done so already, there’s still time to “Treat Yo Self” today, so find a way to do so, ok? Make it a “good life” in any and every way you can….