Today is a special day. It is my one year anniversary of being a single woman and of dedicating my time to falling in love with myself rather than placing my worth into the hands of someone else. I decided the morning after the end of a 1 year, 7 month relationship that I was going to live that day for me and not look back. Inevitably, there were times of looking back. Times of wondering, and a lot of time needed for healing. But that decision to live each moment for me and for my life has stuck with me every single day since then.
I am exactly one month away from my 21st birthday. I started a relationship the summer I turned 17 that lasted for 1 year, 4 months. Less than a month later, I was in the aforementioned relationship. I spent three years of my life, my senior year of high school and first two years of university, in relationships. That amazes me now. I loved those years and I loved those boys, but looking back I am amazed at how little I was really living for me.
So today I am celebrating my past year, my love affair with myself, and all of the great moments and experiences that I have had, as well as the learning experiences that have made me stronger and wiser.
Last summer I started learning a lot about nutrition and dedicated myself to exercise and eating healthy. I learned that I love the feeling of sore muscles after a day of lifting, and that I feel great when I eat right.
At the very end of August 2008 I moved to Barcelona, Spain for 4 months to study and I experienced so much, both externally and internally, that I am still processing the changes that that time brought in me. It's still amazing to me that I fulfilled a dream of going to Spain and living in another country- both things that I have wanted to do since I was probably 7 or 8 years old- and only have increased desire to learn and explore other places.
Winter of 2009 was tough for me; things weren't the same as I had left them and I didn't know where I fit in my Chicago life anymore. I learned the value of a few close friends, and how good it feels to go to bed early and wake up early every day. I was very productive and spent a lot of time with myself, reflecting and thinking.
This spring and summer so far have been incredible- I have my own adventures, when I want them, and have been doing a lot of things spontaneously. I am also slowly figuring out how to let my inner perfectionist go and to just be and to love me. Toward the end of March, I stopped wearing makeup regularly. From ages 11-20 I would not leave the house without makeup; now I only put it on for a special occasion. When I look in the mirror every morning I like who I see.
I have also met a lot of great people, stayed close with my friends, and look forward to my half marathon training and days at the beach.
I have finally learned to love myself exactly as I am right now. It isn't always easy, but every morning when I wake up I tell myself 'I love you' and make a conscious decision to enjoy my entire day. I am living more simply, and can't remember the last time I did anything to my hair but comb it. Gone is the need to impress, or the fear that I'm not good enough exactly as I am.
Wish I had a better camera at the moment. But it's all good, I know I look great.
I make decisions for myself now. I don't feel the need to consult with anyone, and I am living in line with my values. I became vegetarian, and then vegan. If I don't feel like going out one night, I don't and I don't feel guilty about it. When I exercise it's because of how great it makes me feel, not because I am desperately trying to lose weight or look 'right'. I cook delicious dinners for myself and enjoy them immensely. I started this blog, I create art a lot more, and I just started a company with a friend of mine (more on that soon!).
Sure, all of this would have been possible while in a relationship, but I needed to figure it out on my own and be secure in my love for myself before falling in love again with someone else. I am so happy and know that I am fortunate to have fallen in love twice already in my life. I have also fallen out of love twice, and know that I can get through it. I also know that I will never fall out of love with myself. Every day I am working toward being the person I want to be and loving the person I am.
So today I am celebrating. It is such a gorgeous day. I woke up early, had a delicious breakfast, and went to the gym. I plan on spending the afternoon in a park reading The Virgin's Lover (I love historical fiction, and am fascinated by the Tudor family..these books are incredible) and/or drinking margaritas with a friend of mine. Then tonight I have an ultimate frisbee game and will be going to Piece Pizza and Brewery afterward for the free pizza and good company. I absolutely love my life and I love me.
What do you do to celebrate yourself?
An unexpected life change is approaching me this summer. After almost two years of living in my beautiful apartment, circumstances have shifted and I will be moving out before school starts at the beginning of September.
When this news first hit me I was kind of shocked and very sad. This is the first place I have lived in my entire life, aside from my parent's house, that has really felt like home. I live on a beautiful, tree-lined street in Lakeview, Chicago, IL, walking distance from school and many other things. I have great roommates, both friends and ultimate frisbee teammates. Lovely living room, skylight, big kitchen, very reasonable rent...and it was where I came back to after living abroad for 4 months. My Chicago home.
However, after sitting on this for a day or two, I decided to shift my way of thinking. Rather than focus on all that I had to give up, wouldn't it be better to focus on both what I already have and what other possibilities there could be? So I came up with a list of reasons why a new place and possibly new roommates would be positive changes in my life:
- Potentially cheaper rent
- Living with people my own age (my roommates are both a year younger...last year they were both older)
- Since I wouldn't see my roommates every day anymore, I would appreciate our friendship more and make an effort to see them outside of the context of 'are you done in the bathroom yet?'
- This is a big one: The opportunity to majorly downsize my belongings and accumulated STUFF.
- Not become to attached to this place. I already know I want to leave the country after I graduate to explore, work, and travel but am afraid that I may choose what I know. After another year in this apartment-that-is-fast-becoming-my-home that would be a lot more difficult to let go of.
So it's great that all of this fell into place for me. I think that when I'm ready to accept certain things as they are, the right opportunities are more likely to come along for the future. Also, some specific positives about moving into this particular apartment:
- They already have furniture. They do not need my two couches and two armchairs. One couch and chair that I have have been in my family forever...a lot of sentimental value both from my parents and from me. Great opportunity to let them go (especially because they are leather).
- The room I will be moving into is probably a bit smaller than mine. Which means I have to get rid of things. And as moving is such a hassle (I've done it 6 times in the past 3 years) I want to keep it as simple as possible. My goal is to be able to fit all of my possessions into a regular size car.
- It is a quarter of a mile from the art building. Which means that instead of leaving at 8:15 for my 8:45 am classes, I can leave at 8:40. That's brilliant.
- Again, that close means that I can go home to eat or to grab something. No more carrying my life around in my backpack.
- I will get to live with two girls who are a lot of fun, great friends, and different from me, which will keep things enjoyable and interesting!
What I'm trying to say is, I could be upset about having to change what is already working very well for me and having to rearrange my life and my space yet again. But instead, when I think about the positives and find ways to turn a potentially bad situation into a good one, I get excited about the possibilities rather than dwelling on the doors that are shutting. I'm not saying that this is always easy. But it is something I strive to do every day so that I am peace with my world as is and am able to create a reality in which each day is better than the next.
As some of you may know, I am currently in training to run the Chicago Half Marathon on September 13, 2009. I have never run in a race before, nor have I ever run more than 4 or 5 miles at a time, but it started off as a great challenge for me, as well as a chance to prove to that 13 year old still inside of me that I can, in fact, run, and don't need to hide in the nurse's office on the day of the mile run in gym class. Yes I did that. No I could not run one mile. I don't know if it was physical or mental, but I couldn't. And yes I got made fun of for it.
I couldn't bring myself to run a full mile without stopping until my junior year of high school. And even then it was only because a friend was with me every step of the way telling me that I could do it. Running to me has always been hard work, but also the only true measure of fitness. I know that isn't necessarily true, but I still have yet to shake that paradigm from my mind.
Anyway, I am almost done with week 3 of training, and so far so good. I printed out weekly schedules for myself and when I complete a workout I give myself a big star or smiley face. Even on days when it's tough to get going (like running 5 miles today, I'm already procrastinating) I know that as soon as I get out there, about a mile or so in I will hit my stride and stop obsessively adding up blocks to figure out how far I've gone/need to go. And that feeling I get, when I realize that I'm not thinking about running anymore, is incredible. I know that all runners say this, but it feels like I have discovered this whole new beautiful thing! It's so great.
Still, I wanted to be able to do something to help me past the time on actual race day, though up until this point I hadn't really been thinking about it too hard; I just knew something would come up. And then a couple of nights ago when I was reading the new Women's Health, I found it. At the front of the magazine, on the "Tell Women's Health" page, there is a side column of advice from readers, and this month it was how to motivate yourself during outdoor workouts. One woman said that while she was swimming, she would dedicate each lap to thinking about someone in her life.
This is brilliant. When I read that I got goosebumps all over my body and I knew that that was it. I am going to dedicate each of the first 12 miles of the half marathon to someone or a group of people that are important to me, and during the entire mile I am going to focus on all of the good qualities about that person and send out positive thoughts to the universe for her or him. And I can practice this during training! I can't think of a better way to focus on gratitude and how wonderful all of the people in my life are, all while doing something great for myself. I'm going to save the last 1.1 miles for myself and focus on all of the things I love about me, because in order to truly love and appreciate others, I must love and appreciate myself first.
There will be more updates on my training status throughout the summer- this is a huge challenge for me and the journey has been exciting so far! There is nothing like pushing myself just to see how far I can go. What sorts of challenges are you taking on in your life?