tuesday tip — finding your sexy when you’re ______.

Disclaimer: So, this is my blog, after all. And this is the stuff I’m currently struggling through. If reading it makes you feel weird, sorry. You don’t have to read it. I won’t be offended.

The other day I came across this fabulous article that pretty much sums up every thing I’ve been struggling with lately as far as body image and self-love goes. If you don’t have time to read it, the title speaks for itself:

Who gets to be sexy? Is it me?

I’ve kind of touched on the subject before here and here but, sadly, I currently don’t feel like I’m one of those people who “gets” to be sexy. My husband and I have had several conversations recently (even creating a document about the mental blocks I have and the steps I need to take to overcome them) to try and get to the root of this problem (including, but not limited to: my past, including my ex who sexually abused me, my history with my eating disorder, etc.) and while these reasons are valid, I’m sick of them.

In my head, I think, I’ve always assumed that once I hit certain self-proclaimed milestones then (and only then) could I “get” to be sexy.

  • When I reach my goal weight.
  • When my face finally stops breaking out.
  • When I can figure out how to apply make up and not look like a circus clown.
  • When I learn how to properly curl my hair.
  • When I…
My husband, who is so sweet and wonderful and always trying to help, brought something to my attention the other day:
Dan: “Did you see the lady in front of us in line at Wal-Mart?”
Me: “No.”
Dan: “Oh. Well. She was at least double your size everywhere and was buying lingerie. I thought that if she could do it, you could, too.”
Under normal circumstances, I would have probably considered the legitimacy of his observation. But because I’m hormonal and crazy, I went home, drew myself a bath, and cried in it for an hour.
It seems like it’s only getting worse for me as I get rounder. This is probably shocking to you, but feeling sexy while pregnant is proving to be almost impossible for me. I know, I know. I didn’t see that one coming, either. Lindsay can’t feel sexy when she’s not pregnant? What do you mean she can’t feel sexy when she is? *Heavy eye roll.*

I’ve been searching for ways to try and rectify this. Really, the only solution I’ve come up with is only letting my husband touch me in the morning when it’s still dark since, at that point, I haven’t spent an entire day staring at my gigantic belly and focusing on how “matronly” and “not-sexy” it is.

But then (of course, while I’m struggling with this) Jessica Simpson (who has been pregnant for roughly three years it feels like) comes out totally butt naked on the cover of Elle like she owns the joint. And my husband goes ahead and says that it’s sexy.

Ugh. 

Okay, world. I get it. It’s possible to be sexy while overweight. And it’s possible to be sexy while pregnant. So why am I still completely lacking in this department?

Oh that’s right — because the problem isn’t my body; it’s my mind.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: FINDING YOUR SEXY WHEN YOU’RE ______.

I know not all of you are pregnant. And I know that not all of you struggle with “sexiness” in particular. But maybe it’s confidence. Maybe it’s spark. Maybe it’s being outgoing. But, if you’re like me, and you have this little part inside you that, for whatever reason, can’t come out because you’re currently _____ (fill in the blank for whatever that is: pregnant, over your goal weight, not making enough money, whatever) I’m here to tell you that your circumstance is not your problem.

It’s your mind.

I don’t have all the answers on how to change your mind (because if I did, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have this blog) but here are some things that have worked for me so far:

1. be intentional.

Make an effort. When you think to yourself that you can’t be sexy, just think immediately afterwards, “That’s not true. I can be and am sexy.” It will be awkward and weird at first. But be intentional about it.

2. be persistent.

You can’t change your paradigm overnight. It will take some time. Commit to it because, in the end, it will be so worth it (or so I think).

3. be patient.

With yourself! Know that some days, you’ll be on fire. You’ll be a sex goddess, even! But know that, even still, there will be some days when you feel frumpy and gross and some innocent Wal-Mart shopper is gonna show up at the register with cute lingerie and make you cry in a bathtub and you’re just going to have to let that be okay.

What is your “sexy” that you’re striving toward? Please don’t say I’m alone in this!

tuesday tip — less is more: on lent.

A few weeks ago, after coming to terms with the overwhelming reality that is the amount of space we lack in our tiny home and the fact that we’ll somehow have to accommodate another person come July, I went through my closet and dresser and collected three bags full of clothes (mostly t-shirts, naturally) and shoes I didn’t wear anymore to donate to Goodwill. I was prepared for the lump of old t-shirts I’d give away, but I couldn’t believe I was holding on to so many other obscure items that I  knew I’d never wear again. (Plaid booty shorts? Really? A WHITE DENIM MINI SKIRT? Seriously, who am I even kidding anymore? However, those items do pair nicely with a good t-shirt.)

Last night, I did the same thing with my makeup. I took all four (yes,  four) of my makeup bags and dumped them out on the floor. I pulled apart the items I desperately “need” (if one can “need” makeup, that is) to get by, and tossed the rest. Here’s what I have left after the great makeup purge of 2012:

A concealer stick, a powder compact, a near-empty tube of mascara, and one lip gloss. That’s. It. One item for every bag I had yesterday.

Is a part of me panicking? Not so much about the clothes (thanks, Nathan!) but as far as the makeup goes, yes. Absolutely. I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll purchase more (I mean, seriously, how will I survive without MAC’s seafoam green glitter eye shadow? That was a tough one to toss.) I don’t even have blush. I know that Becky, one of my best friends, is probably rolling her eyes at me right now because, I can hear her in my head, “You can’t just NOT wear blush, Lindsay Shaw!” 

I know, I know. But for the time being, I’m going to not wear blush. And it’s going to be okay.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: LESS IS MORE.

The season of Lent is upon us (as in, starts TOMORROW, holy cow) and, for those of you not familiar with it, that means we’re entering a season of self-denial to gain some iota of an idea of the suffering Christ experienced for us, allowing us to grow closer to Him and celebrate His resurrection on Easter more earnestly. I suppose I’m a bit of a procrastinator (let’s just chalk that one up to pregnancy brain) but I’m still praying over what to “give up” this year. As many of you know, Lent always ends up changing my life: in 2010, a trip to the emergency room led me to swear off caffeine forever and last year, I learned to love the curly hair God gave me. Both of those were huge leaps in my journey toward self-love and holistic health, so I never take Lent lightly.

The fact that I haven’t chosen one “thing” to fast yet this year doesn’t mean that Lent is on the back burner for me. If anything, I’m more aware of the sacrifice of Lent since I’ve been sacrificing a whole heck of a lot (food, drink, sleep, money, moments of hormonal normalcy) ever since becoming pregnant. But, here’s the sitch: without getting too preachy, Lent is the perfect time of the year where we can look at the closets of our lives and pick out the white denim skirts and seafoam green eye shadows that are merely taking up valuable space where something greater — Someone greater — could live and enrich us.

Are you giving up anything for Lent?

tuesday tip — be your own valentine.

DISCLAIMER: I’m going to write this as if we all went to grade school together in my little hometown. If you didn’t go to school with me, hooray for you! You get to pretend for a whole five minutes that you did!

Valentine’s Day in schools kind of eased us into reality, didn’t it?

Do you remember it?  In elementary school, we’d all come to school toting boxes of little cardboard Valentines, one for each of our classmates. No more, no less. Every one of us kids received the same amount of little I Choo-Choo-Choose You! cards stuffed in our paper sack “mailboxes” and, at the end of the day, couldn’t see straight from all the Valentine’s Day candy we’d consume together as a class.

Everyone got the same amount of love. Everyone was special.

But come high school, things changed. We all graduated from the communist love-fest that was boxed Valentine sets to “Candy-grams,” tokens of love that were purchased from student government. In case you forget, Candy-grams were carnation flowers with some candy and a sweet Valentine’s Day message attached to them. Adorable, right?

If one was bought for you, a member of the student government would barge into one of your classes and publicly deliver the Candy-gram to you in front of all your classmates to show just how adored you were. It was the ultimate Valentine’s Day popularity contest because, at the end of the day, the most popular (and, therefore, the most loved) people would be carting around the most carnations.

Most years, I’d be lucky to get even one. It’s true. I rarely got these Candy-grams.

(Here’s the saddest thing you’ll ever read: my undying defense of my high school popularity.) You know, I bet you it’s not because I didn’t have friends. Au contraire! I was one of those people who was friends with everyone. (Seriously. EVERYONE. How else would I have been voted onto Prom Court my senior year? SHOUT OUT!) It must have been that I didn’t get Candy-grams because I had so many friends that they all assumed that I was already getting my very own bouquet of Candy-grams and that they didn’t need to send me one more droopy flower to carry. (Sure, self, whatever you say.)

Sad, isn’t it? Anyway…

The truth of the matter, though, is that no matter the reasoning behind my empty-handed state on Valentine’s Day (I had too many friends, you see!) I always felt incredibly lame when I didn’t have at least one Candy-gram to show off. As cheap and fragile as those little flowers were, they carried on them the entire weight of my self-worth. If I had no flowers, I had no worth.

Sad. But true.

But, you know, that’s the reality of life. Life isn’t governed by the elementary school Everyone is special, everyone gets a Valentine! doctrine. High school Candy-grams really hit the nail on the head — some people love you, and some people don’t. Some people think you deserve a Candy-gram on Valentine’s Day. Some people don’t.

And that’s okay!

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: BE YOUR OWN VALENTINE.

A couple years ago, I found a quote on my cousin’s girlfriend’s Facebook profile. I don’t know who said it, but after reading it, all my Candy-gram-less Valentine’s Days melted away into the background.

Remember to plant your own garden instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

Sheesh. Amen, Whoeversaidthat. (FYI, according to Google, it could have been a hundred people.)

On this Valentine’s Day, whether you have a traditional “Valentine” or not, make a commitment to be your own Valentine first.

Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Write a love-note (ahem, or Candy-gram, whichever you prefer) to yourself.
  • Style your hair in a new way.
  • Pamper yourself — give yourself a facial, manicure, pedicure, the works!
  • Take yourself and your favorite book out to dinner one time this week. (This sounds bizarre, but it’s so fun! I love doing this!)
  • Sleep in at least one day this week.
  • Hang a picture of yourself in your favorite outfit in your cubicle, office, or bedroom.
  • Go. For. A. JOG.
  • Make an I’m More Awesome Than Anyone playlist and BLAST IT. (Artists on mine? Avril Lavigne, Paramore, and all kinds of other cheesy girl-rock. I am not ashamed.)
  • Buy a sexy, maybe even non-practical pair of underwear. Even if you’re the only one who sees it, dang girl! Work. (If you’re a dude, a shiny new pair of boxer briefs can probably help, too! Though I can’t be totally sure…)
  • Make cupcakes and share them with your favorite friends.
  • Buy fresh flowers and put them in your kitchen.
  • Fill in the blank with whatever you love to do.

The old adage is so true; if you can’t love yourself first, you’ll never truly (healthily, fully, wholly) love another. Start today by being your own Valentine.

How can you love yourself first today? Comment and let me know!

tuesday tip — pencil yourself in.

Earlier this week a friend of mine tweeted about hearing a sacred echo in her life. I was instantly jealous of her and, consequently, whiny — IIIIIII want a sacred echo! I want to have a clear vision of the direction I should go! I want to have an unarguable reason to do X or not do Y!!!!! *pout*

Isn’t there a saying about being careful of what you wish for or something?

Back in March of 2008, Dan asked me out on our first date — a low-key dinner followed by a concert. Take a second and think about how that probably went: maybe he met me somewhere, or pulled me aside at church or on campus, or called me up and said, “Good morrow, fair maiden Lindsay of Shaw. I happen to fancy you, therefore, I request your company  at a relatively inexpensive eatery followed by taking delight in the sounds of a musical company by the name of The Spill Canvas. Would you oblige, m’lady?” (That’s typically how that goes, right? I honestly don’t know because I’ve been out of the game a while and I’ve always been awkward when it comes to dating.)

That’s not how it went for us. Dan pried my day planner from my cold, rigor-mortis-esque fingers and opened it to the day of the show to see whether or not he could squeeze himself into my overfull schedule. By the grace of God, he was able to write himself in. Hooray! A date! Squeezed between work at a barbecue restaurant, a handful of college classes, and studying for midterms. Phew.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was talking to a friend of mine (not in person but over Facebook chat, which is actually an important detail) about how we all seem to be married to our schedules. We jam-pack each minute of each day with work, school, projects, meetings, appointments, etc., but we never intentionally schedule any free time for ourselves. She and I collectively lamented about our lack of free time and yet our inability to focus on the tasks we have in front of us because we are so easily distracted by Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and even blogs (FBDC promotion fail.) We’ll find ourselves doing nothing, but we’re actually just avoiding doing something, which further stresses us out about the things we have already committed — vocationally, educationally, or otherwise — to do.

Well, self, there you go. You got your dang sacred echo. You need to break up with your planner every once in a while and schedule some down time to relax and take care of yourself.

Ugh, WHIIIIINEEEEE. But but but! Why? I’ve never been good at doing nothing! Being overworked and overstressed has always been my norm! I don’t know anything different! *pout*

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: PENCIL YOURSELF IN.

Today’s tip is one I (obviously) haven’t perfected yet. (Who am I kidding? I should probably rename my blog, “An extensive list of things I haven’t perfected yet.”) But it’s so important. Scheduling time to take care of yourself not only makes life more enjoyable, but it also brings the beautiful things about yourself — all the reasons you are so lovely — back into focus.

Now, when I say, “Pencil yourself in,” I don’t mean think to yourself, “I should have some me time later.” Oh no. I mean, very literally, to pencil yourself in to your planner/diary/Google calendar/iPhone/whatever. Seriously. If we don’t treat this like an actual meeting or obligation, we might not follow through because this is how we’re wired now. In the 21st century, this is our reality.

If you’re like me and you have no idea where to start on taking care of yourself, here’s a list of things you can schedule to rejuvenate you after you meet all the other demanding obligations  you put on yourself. (And remember, the idea here is focus on your wonderful self, to destress and refresh, so if cooking, for example, makes your heart palpitate and your head explode — welcome, kindred spirit — then, obviously, don’t try that.)

  • Going for a walk in the park alone, with no iPod or cell phone with you.
  • Taking a yoga class.
  • Looking up and trying a new recipe.
  • Journaling.
  • Taking a short road trip, if even to the next town over, to explore.
  • Painting.
  • Working on your car or house.
  • [Insert your idea here.]

And — HERE IS THE KEY — make this scheduled “you” time non-negotiable. If a friend invites you out to dinner or your brother and his wife need someone to watch their baby while they go on a date, refuse. Nothing horrible will ever happen to you if you say no to another person in order to say yes to yourself. Never think that taking care of yourself should be secondary to taking care of anything else, whether those things are work-related, school-related, or people-related. If you don’t have any of yourself left, what benefit are you to the obligations you have?

The answer? None. None, I’m afraid. So, good Lord, child. Get off the Internet and take a hot bath or something.

tuesday tip — bad day file.

Over the weekend, my mentee (I have a mentee, y’all! And I should probably just call her by name from now on: Erica) referred to me as “wise.” It was undeniably flattering, but definitely a first for me. Me? Wise? I’ve never been wise. I’ve always been a hot mess, you know? Being a walking disaster carrying heavy suitcases of failure has always been kind of my thing. (Check out my biceps!) To me, being “wise” just doesn’t seem plausible! (Why can’t “being a hot mess” be a fruit of the spirit?) If you ask me, I’m not so much “wise” as I am a good actress. I’ve gotten really good at stealing wisdom from people who are actually wise and playing it off like it is my own.

Anyway…

Since the jig is up and you all now know I’m far from wise (albeit JACKED from constantly lugging around failure baggage) I’m not even going to pretend I came up with today’s tip. I fully disclose that I stole it from someone definitely “wise”: my good friend/mentor/pastor Eric.

TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP — CREATE A “BAD DAY” FILE.

We all have bad days — days we feel inadequate, unattractive, unloved, worthless. I’m no stranger to these days. And these days span all “bad” feelings. Some bad days are bad because I can’t look at myself in the mirror without gagging. Some bad days are so because I don’t feel valued in my work. Some bad days suck because my husband or a friend of mine is angry with me. Whatever the reason the day is bad, all I want to do is to crawl into bed with the lights off, listen to “Everybody Hurts,” and sob noisily until I pass out.

The (obvious) problem with that desire, though, is that most of my bad days aren’t on Saturdays when I have little to no responsibility. Nine times out of ten, my spirit chooses to be crushed on days I’m expected to be somewhere and do something. (For instance, Mondays and Thursdays, for some reason, tend to be prone to turning “bad.” Not sure what’s so bad about those days, but it’s dreadfully inconvenient, as those days typically fall during the work week.)

Since I can’t hole up in my room for an all out sulk fest, I turn to my Bad Day File, something Eric encouraged me to create. A bad day file, by definition, is a file of things (letters, pictures, emails, etc.) you look at when you’re sad that remind you that you are valued. In your file could be a collection of anything — for example, here are some items in my bad day file (or, BDF, if you will):

  • An email from Jon Acuff about my blog. (Holy crap, did this really happen? Yes. Yes it did. Thanks, BDF!)
  • The email from Erica asking me to be her mentor.
  • A random note from a friend telling me they prayed for me at the start of their day.
  • A list of recommended reading from my husband (in file because it reminds me that not only am I a reader but I married one, too. Darn it, that’s cool.)
  • Thank you cards from pastors.
  • Stickers sent to me after my surgery by an old (but GREAT) friend Cameron.

I encourage you to start collecting things to put in your BDF. Letters. Pictures. Emails. Text messages. Anything that, when you were first exposed to it, gave you that fluttery feeling in your gut that signifies love. Technology helps, too. You can create a digital BDF as well as a tangible one. (I’ve got a “Bad Day File” Label in my Google inbox that allows for easy filing.)

Once you’ve collected at least one item to be filed, you’re prepared for your next bad day. The next day you’re feeling down, refer to that file. Read through every word. Pore over every picture. Let the memories of the first time you saw those items flood your spirit, leaving no room for the negative feelings.

The thing about the BDF is that everything within it will be true. The negative things you think on a bad day are false. You are always worthy of love, whether you “think” you are or not. By re-reading expressions of love from your community, you allow yourself to be loved. At first, by the folks you’ve collected in your file. And at last, by yourself.