Do You Really See How Pretty You Are?

As crazy as it may seem for most of my life I have never saw who I really was.  Sure I saw the facade I chose to wear when I went to work, a different one when I was with my friends, another one when I was with my family and yet a completely different one when I went home to my ex-husband.  The question is why do we do that?  Why do we think that the person that we are is somehow not capable of being enough in all the different aspects of our lives?  But the real question comes is who are you when no one is around?  Are you pieces of each of your facades? 

I say absolutely I am but, there is more to it than that - more to me but for some reason I have never let anyone see, her.  Is it because I’m really shy?  Is is because I don’t let people in easily?  Is it because I don’t like who I am?  or Is it simply because I don’t believe if I am truly myself that I am worthy?  In retrospect it is all of them and somewhere along the way I finally realized that I was hiding even from myself.  Sure it is easy enough to avoid the mirror - only looking in it to put makeup on, do my hair and make sure my clothes were okay but have I ever really looked in the mirror and saw myself?  Have you ever saw the person staring back and thought  “wow she’s awesome”.  Hell no, I spent too much time avoiding my own eyes, avoiding the body that I hated and tried desperately to cover up the embarrassment so that not even I had to look at it. 

And, I also tried not to listen to my own thoughts too much because I was truly unhappy in so many areas of my life.  So I somehow thought if I stayed busy, really busy I could even avoid my own thoughts.  Cause the truth is when you hate yourself, hate your body, hate your job and know if your heart that you married the wrong person for all of the wrong reasons its not easy to face those truths.  Its not easy to own up to your mistakes and correct them.  Heck where would you even start?  And with which part?  So as I have faced all of my “ugly” truths and all of my fears (or shall I say each one as it comes up);  I have somehow managed to live beyond the misery of myself.  I have found a place of happiness, true contentment that I have never felt in my own skin, love and appreciation for myself and for who I am today. 

Something else came alive in me that I never noticed before or truthfully had the courage to listen to and that was a real desire and need to share what I have learned with as many people as I possibly can so that no one has to go through what I had to struggle with my entire life.  Self hatred, anger, disappointment, hiding from myself were not things that suddenly popped up in my life that had been there for a long, long time and I finally realized that when I looked back on my life and thought there has to be more to life than this?  There has to be more to look forward to everyday than a life that was full of so much anger, sadness, stress, sickness and absolute denial as to how bad life really was.  There had to be more and I can honestly say there truly is now but it took more courage, determination and fight than I thought I had in me to be here today, but I am here.  I am here in such a better place and it all started when I truly saw myself in the mirror for the first time and thought okay no judgment, no ugly thoughts, lets just look and see - get a starting point and I’ll move on from there but I have to truly “SEE ME” not the nasty images or thoughts that I have conjured up in my head over the years but really me, the person looking back at myself in the mirror. 

So my question for you, do reader is who do you see when you look in the mirror?  And do you think he/she is truly awesome for who you are today?  If you do than I am truly thrilled for you beyond belief but my guess is if you are reading this than you are more like me.  So lets do this together - one day at a time.

Till next time,

Lisa

Embrace your curves!

As a former really big girl and someone who always made an effort to hide my body so that no one else would be as grossed out as I was by it - I have to say that I found myself dressing several sizes bigger than I was.  Truth be told I even shopped in the Men’s Department anything so that no one could see me.  But what happens to your own brain is that you start to think of yourself as being bigger than you really are.  In addition, when you are swimming in your clothes you definitely look bigger than you really are - so my question is who are you fooling?  So then what is the answer?  I have to say the only answer is to find clothes that actually fit you.  When you start wearing clothes that actually fit you actually begin to see yourself differently.  I know that sounds basic enough but when you actually put on a blouse that fits with a pair of straighter legged pants instead of the enormous wide legged ones you will find that you may actually start to feel differently about yourself.  Now I realize that doing this once is not gonna make that happen, but if you do this consistently for a week, I promise you - you will start to treat yourself differently and so will the people around you.

I have to say shopping for other people is truly one of my favorite things on earth to do but when I’m shopping for me, my brain still plays tricks on me.  I still gravitate towards the larger sizes even now and some days it makes me laugh.  Nothing better than holding up something or trying on something that is falling off of you and you actually send the sales person for a smaller size.  The truth is before I would have NEVER asked the sales person for help cause I’d rather die than tell someone what size I was, so now I rather enjoy that little victory.  

But as I looked in my closet the other day something hit me pretty hard and that was all of my blouses are still quite flowing, I have one form fitting blouse in my entire closet that I rarely pull out unless I’m really looking to impress.  So the question that rang in my head was - “what if I need to impress someone more than once, then what am I gonna wear?”  Everything in my closet is a different color but mostly similar in style - my Mom calls then “moo moos” and a friend of mind refers to her blouses as her “uniform” or even “schmatas” so my question to you is what does your closet look like?  Is it full of a ton of schmatas?  And what do you wear when you want to impress someone a second or third time?  

So I decided to do something radical and that was go shopping for more form fitting clothes that actually fit me.  But I have to say in the dressing room I almost chickened out cause I still went for the flowing one as opposed to the one that fit close to my body.  I actually came out of the dressing room in the shirt that I thought was too tight and went to see if the shirt came in a bigger size when the sales person caught me as wanted to help me.  So I told her I wanted the same shirt in the next size up and the girl looked at me like I had three heads and said “Why”?  I told her it was too tight and she said “No, it fits you perfectly - wish I had your curves”  Okay at this point I looked at this 19 year old girl and said “I’m sorry but what did you just say?”  And as she repeated this too me, I burst out laughing cause even now when I look in the mirror I don’t see curves and beauty some days - I still see that overweight insecure girl I use to be.  And of course the fact that a 19 year old liked my curves made my freaken week.  So lets just say I went back in the dressing room and took the form fitting ones.  

But my point is, this is a process.  Some days are better than others and we all struggle sometimes. Its important that you recognize how far you have come, it’s important that you appreciate you for the size that you are today and embrace your own curves - they are what makes you, you and beautiful.

Till next time,

Lisa

Find your inner JLo

When was the last time you felt sexy?  Do you even know what it is to be sexy?  or what even makes a woman sexy?  Merrian-Webster defines sexy as generally attractive or appealing.  But to me sexy is more than that.  When you think of some of the sexiest people in Hollywood Jennifer Lopez always comes to mind, sure there are others but for me she epitomizes what sexy looks like.  You may think of someone else and that is totally fine, but my question to you is what is it about them that makes them sexy?  Sure they all have nice bodies, carry themselves a certain way and they exude confidence.  So then my question for you is confidence sexy?

I know my body is a constant work in progress as I am finally learning to love it and appreciate it as it is right now - so then the question comes up in my own brain do I have to wait to look like JLo to be sexy?  And I have to tell you for the first time ever the response surprised me cause it was Hell NO...  There are plenty of people who are sexy and aren’t a size two, being sexy is a state of mind not a dress size.  So why not add a little sexy to your day?  Why not surprise yourself and be attractive and appealing, we all know how to do that.  What is it that holds us back?  For me I know I’m out of practice, truly I don’t think I’ve ever felt particular sexy ever but then isn’t that my fault?  Absolutely, don’t let your brain give you some false images or false misconceptions or false talk to think that you can not be sexy cause that’s just plain silly.  

So I decided to sike myself out and try something new.  I have decided to do things that boost my confidence levels which for me includes working out and eating really healthy are always the best places to start.  I also decided to try on some clothes in the back of my closet that were a little snug and I have to say I was pleasantly thrilled cause they fit (hence the extra working out),  I also decided to pull out a pair of strappy shoes that I save for special occasions and pull out a pair of sexy underwear and guess what - when I had them on I felt sexy, I felt more like a woman, I felt more confident.  So why not do this every day - why does this have to be reserved for special occasions?  Isn’t every day that you are above ground a special occasion or possible could be?  So my challenge to you is to put on those strappy shoes, find clothes that fit your body and add some sexy undies to your life no one has to know.  :)  

Till next time,

Lisa

Flirt Away...

Okay as silly as it may seem, I have recently realized I have no idea how to flirt?  Sure I have been out on dates, hell I was even married, but what is funny to me is that I always seem to miss cues of interest from the opposite sex.  Why is that?  How could that be?  Or is it that I’m flirting and didn’t even know I was flirting?  Sure we all know people who are unbelievable flirts and who get tons of attention from the opposite sex and whatever it is I do just is way, way more subtile than that.  So the question is - Is it better to be a full on flirt or is it okay to flirt just a little?  I have to say that it absolutely depends on the person.

I can tell you though that after spending a lifetime trying to be invisible and hiding even to myself the art of flirting somehow has escaped me or at least that is how I feel.   When someone pays attention to you and you have programed yourself to not be seen suddenly being noticed is scary, uncomfortable, feels downright ridiculous sometimes and okay a little flattering.

If the other person is looking at you, smiling at you and makes a cute comment to you  (it couldn’t possible mean he’s interested in you) so I respond without thinking and smile back ever so sweetly yup I’m flirting even if I didn’t know it.  What I have finally realized is the negative self talk and the bad body images that I have carried with me has led me to think that I actually have no clue how to flirt.  Truth is I flirt all the time and don’t even know it.  How about you?  Do you know how to flirt?  Do you know what kind of signals you are sending out and are they the right ones?  And when you get a signal back can you read them correctly?  

I think for me when you don’t see yourself as pretty or beautiful or like you have something incredible to offer and someone pays you a compliment or shows an interest in you - you don’t believe them.  You doubt yourself way too much to believe that you could be desirable to another.  Guess when you feel so bad about yourself, you put on your own protective armor when you go out and it takes someone pretty fantastic to put a dent in it.  But the question becomes how many dents before you start to believe in yourself that gee you might be attractive to the opposite sex and gee you actually might be worth making an effort for.  So for me flirting comes down to confidence in who you are and how you look and being able to portray that to the people outside your inner sanctuary.  Confidence is something that is hard to come by most days when you don’t like what you look like and when you hide from yourself and it absolutely makes sense that it would carry on into other things like finding a great man in your life.

But for me, I never realized just how much “pretending” that I had confidence and actually having confidence could make in your life and how it spills over into ever aspect of your life.  Which includes meeting new people and yes flirting and having fun with it.  So I have a new game plan and that is to pay more attention to how people respond to me and look for the verbal and non-verbal cues that someone else is sending me.  Want to play along too and just see how great of a flirt you can become?  Hee!Hee!

Till next time,

Lisa

Getting off the self-sabotage merry-go-round

Why is that sometimes when things finally start to go our way - we over think things or do things that really don’t make sense to us that set us back a bit?  Is it that we don’t believe in ourselves that much that we start to sabotage our own success or is it that we think that we’re not worthy?  I think its a little of everything,  cause when you grow up being overweight and never quite feeling like you fit in or you feel like you have to constantly prove yourself - it leaves with you feeling like you just aren’t enough.  Or maybe that’s what your head tells you, I’m not sure I can differentiate.  

Feeling like you aren’t enough and that you aren’t worthy is truly an awful place to be cause once you get that set in your head, you carry that with you for years and years.  You have no idea how stupid thoughts like this can effect you but when you believe them and believe that this is who you are, you are in for a lot of hurting to come.  I can tell you from first hand experience on this one, when you believe that you are not worthy it does something to you and you begin to make choices because you think this is the best that you can do or you begin to dream smaller because you don’t believe in yourself enough to go for what you truly want.  And I am here to tell you this is NO PLACE TO BE....  Truly, if you don’t believe in yourself than no one else will.  And even if by some miracle you are lucky enough to have others around you who believe in you more than you do yourself - you won’t believe them in your heart.  Its a viscous cycle that once you start is super hard to stop but I’m here to say you can stop, you can get off the merry-go-round to no where.  It will take some work and truly the amount of work that you will have to do depends on how deep you have imprinted this in your soul.

For me it all started with a question and that “Did I deserve that?”  I may not have felt worthy but did I deserve the things that were happening to me? and around me? and in my life?  And my answer was a resounding NO, I deserved better.  So if I deserved better than obviously I had to believe that I was worthy of something - now wasn’t I?  Was I worthy of being treated kindly?  Was I worthy of being loved?  Was I a good friend?  Was I a good daughter?  Was I a good wife?  All of these answers were definitely a YES.  But for me it wasn’t until I started asking myself better questions about myself, it wasn’t until I realized that I deserved better even from myself that I was able to make several shifts and step of the merry-go-round that I was often stuck on.  It takes guts and courage to stop the madness  (which is the stream of BS running through my head) sometimes I even falter still but I catch myself falling into old patterns of thinking super negatively or trying to push things away and not deal with them at all.  You ever get like that?  Ever just want to run away from the thoughts in your head, just silence them for a while so you can think clearly?

I have actually found sometimes that if I immerse myself in a good book for a while, I can turn down the voices in my head enough to have a few coherent thoughts and then am able to ask myself some really key questions, that are my secrets to dealing with me.  

  1. What am I really freaking out about?  
  2. What can I do right now to easy some of my own anxiety?  (non-food related)
  3. What did I do that makes me feel like I don’t/do deserve this?
  4. Who can I call/email/see that will help me through this?
  5. How can I make today better for me?

I try and answer as many of these questions as I can cause they absolutely make me stop, re-evaluate and move in a more positive direction than before.  I’m definitely not saying that this is easy and I can assure you that the answer to number two is not go to the frig and start eating out of anxiety cause it is 1000% not the answer and only make you feel worse and takes you way longer to move forward from when you reach for bad food and the guilt cycle begins.  Making bad food choices is the catalysis for several of the reasons that got you here in the first place so breaking that pattern is a must.  So want to try with me - to break some of your old patterns that aren’t working for you?  It will take some time but if you stick with it, it does get easier and believing in yourself won’t be so foreign even to you!

Till next time,

Lisa

Faking Yourself Out?

A friend of mine has recently reminded me what it is to just have absolute blind faith, throw caution to wind, move several states away and just follow your bliss and your dreams.  Sure we all have dreams, goals that just seem out of reach but what would happen if you stopped giving yourself excuses and went after your dreams with everything you have?  Would that be the end of your world?  I say most definitely, it would be THE END OF THE WORLD AS YOU KNOW IT, but would that really be the end of the world, NO!  

Do you have that kind of courage?  Do you have that much belief in yourself?  Do you have that much conviction in your dreams? These have been the thoughts that have been running around in my head as today is his big moving day and I have to say I have been surprised by my thoughts of “WHY NOT?” that keep coming up for me.  

If we do not have faith in ourselves, in our abilities and have the courage to stand up for what we believe in -  than are we really even living our own lives?  In the past, I had wasted so much time not living my life, living the life some one else thought I should have that now that I have the opportunity to live life on my own terms, I find that I am sometimes still riddled with conversations of the past telling me all the reasons why I can’t and the worst part is I start believe those voices.  Intellectually, I know how ridiculous this sounds but that crap still creeps in.  

So when does it ever go away?  The answer to that question is, when you stop caring what other people think, when you stop letting others insecurities and fears cloud you’re own judgment and you go after your own life and your own dreams on your own terms.  So I’d like to say thank you to my friend Anthony for reminding me that you are only as good as you believe you are.  I hope New York is ready for you my friend, best of luck and I’m so proud of you.  You are an inspiration!  :)  

Till next week,

Lisa

Confidence?

How is it that we can be competent in our lives, we can handle just about anything that life has to throw at us, we can juggle a million things at one time yet we still feel somehow inadequate within ourselves?  How is it that possible when so many people depend on us and look to us for so much yet when the world quiets down around us we are not happy with the person looking back at ourselves in the mirror?  I have to say I use to live here, I use to be Superwoman so to speak for everyone else but myself.  I use to forget to put myself on my own to do list of 50 things in a day.  After some serious life changing events that occurred in my life I have finally learned to rearrange my priorities and have put me on my own to-do list.  This is a hugely important step as I have talked about before, but what I have also come to understand that just by adding myself to a laundry list of things to do that’s not enough - its only a start.  

Its only the start because you have to follow through everyday.  You have to make a conscious decisions everyday to be true to you.  You have to actually retrain your brain that you are important - that what you want is important.  As a natural caregiver it is so easy to sacrifice yourself for others.  Its almost automatic for me to just put love ones before me that this takes some serious focus and some serious time just to figure out what I need today.  I have found that when you just go through the motions of the day, when you get into a routine and you get busy - I never have time for myself.  There just are not enough hours in the day.  I take time.  I take scheduling.  I take planning.  And the truth is somedays you just feel like you do enough of that in your day and that you are exhausted and you just can’t do one more thing.  And I have come to realize that this is BS, seriously.  You make time for what is important in your life.  You can move freaken mountains if we have to.  We all know we have, we have all looked back at days or times in our life where you were like how did I do all that?  The truth is when we get in the zone and time just flies.  So I am here to remind you that its time to get you into your own zone.  Its time to make sure that you plan time for you.  First thing in the morning map out your day or do it the night before and figure out how to squeeze out time for you and/or move things around to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself.  Get up earlier, plan some quiet time, or go to bed a little later whatever it is that works for you.  I can promise you that it is worth it.  You are worth it.  Cause when you make time for you and you get into the habit of making time for you, you will begin to feel differently about yourself.  You will carry yourself differently.  You will handle things differently.   You will be able to actually take care of more things when you have already taken care of you.  You will find yourself in a more positive frame of mind.  You will begin to appreciate things again.  And the coolest thing is you will actually start to feel more confident and more secure within yourself when you make better choices on a consistent basis.  You deserve to walk around every day feeling confident, don’t you think?  Give yourself the gift of confidence, it is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself.  I guarantee you that you will see your life through new eyes when you give yourself this gift and so will others.  So make time for you, every day it is soooooo important and you are more than worth it and its about time to remember that - don’t ya think?

Till next time,

Lisa

At what age do we begin to dislike our bodies?

I use to think that there was something wrong with me.  That maybe I was genetically predisposed to being a “Big” girl but I know that is not true.  Sure genetics plays a part but when you have bad eating habits and never move - there is only so much you can blame on your parents as adults.  I am certainly not in a place where I am interested in placing blame, I am in a place where I need to take responsibility for my own actions finally, and I truly believe I have done that an accepted myself for the first time ever in my life.  

But the question that keeps running through my head is at what age do you first notice your body?  At what age do you realize that you are uncomfortable in your own skin?  And what could have been done or could be done right now to help our kids not go down some of the same slipper slopes that I know I  have.  Does the realization that you are “Big” or “Fat” first come when you are picked on in school, or when you recognize that you are not as cute and skinny as some of the other girls?  

I recently visited with one of my best friends and her daughter who is thirteen is making some of the very same discoveries.  As any young lady in her situation, she is having a bit of a hard time right now.  Her body is going through so many changes she’s not sure what to or how to make sense of some of it.  Thinking she was in need of some girlie time, I soon realized girlie time wasn’t something she enjoyed and she had no clue really what that even meant.  Sure she has spent time with her Mom running errands on the weekend even though this time it was specifically for her made no difference to her at all.  She hates shopping whether its for her little brother to get him a new suit or whether she is getting something new, she would sooooo much rather go to the movies and skip the rest.  So my thought was if this darling can’t even wrap her brain around what a treat girl time is - what else do we assume all teens know but we don’t really take the time to explain to them.  Stuff like the importance of washing your face & taking care of your skin, making sure to remember to put on deodorant & perfume, how to style your hair and some of the products that work best, tips on how to put on and experiment with a little makeup, making some time for herself, finding clothes that make her feel cute in and are right for her body type, making better food choices and exercising.  All these may seem obvious to us as adults but they are certainly not so obvious to a young teenager who is trying to find her own way.  The difference these little lessons or tips can and will have on her life could be tremendous if she learns early on that she is truly beautiful on the inside and all this stuff is just helping her outside match the beauty inside.  I know I wish someone would have taken me aside and explained this to me when I was her age.  Sure this is not a one time thing and this is truly an ongoing process that will take some time. 

Speaking of time, when I started sparklewithin.com I was mainly thinking my audience would be women but I decided that young ladies needed this information as much if not more than woman do so I am now working on creating a new website with the focus on some incredible young ladies that will be linked to each other, so wish me luck.  I just can’t sit by knowing I have the tools to make a difference in these young girls lives and not get involved so here goes.  :)  

Till next time,

Lisa