Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Delicious Confidence-Building Activities

My last post was about building confidence after a weird time of uncertainty and self-doubt. It's natural for us to have these times of insecurity, we're human! I ended my last post a bit cheekily (no pun intended), promising to reveal a list of activities that have been helping me to appreciate myself and my uniqueness. Does that sound a little selfish? There's a difference between being indulgently self-absorbed, and taking some time to appreciate and respect the body and brain you've been given. Whether you're an expert at confidence and self-appreciation, or are simply trying to pull out of a funk, you might find these practices to be helpful for moving forward with a center of joy.

Daily Give Thanks
When you wake up in the morning, always take a moment to realize how lucky you are. No life is perfect, but there is always something (usually many things) to be thankful for. Thank God, not just for your situation or possessions, but for the way you have been created. Break the negative cycle of believing you're never good enough. What are some things you like about yourself? Are you naturally motivated? An amazing cook? A deep intellectual thinker? Do you have perfect toes or killer hair? You're unique, so appreciate it.

Turn Your Exercise Routine Into a Ritual-of-Love
Exercise is so empowering when it's done right. It allows us to fully inhabit our bodies and appreciate what they are capable of. It creates discipline. It kills stress. Instead of making it a dreaded obligation, or a way to fix "disgusting thighs," exercise because you want to respect your body. This means: you must enjoy your exercise. For example, I hate running, but I like yoga and Pilates.
Also, make the time special. Do what you have to do: whether it's buying a matching yoga outfit, lighting candles, brewing tea, or entering into it with a positive attitude. Every time you think about exercising, override your past thoughts with new ones. I used to think "Oh, right, tonight I have to workout. Sigh." Now, I actively squelch that thought and replace it with: "Oh right, tonight I get to workout!"
It works.

Treat Yourself
Here's a question: if you're constantly indulging, is that cupcake or new shirt really a treat? You'll enjoy your treat twice as much if it truly is occasional. I started eating healthier after Christmas (less sugar, more greens, nice and simple). Now, when I get boba tea or chocolate now and then, I feel good about it. As you make progress, reward yourself. This could be a fun way to motivate yourself to workout, or to slow down spending habits. I've been working out regularly for almost 4 weeks, so I think a cupcake (5 cupcakes?) or a gel-manicure might be in order soon (or both!).

Put Yourself in Charge
When we put other people in charge who don't have our best interests at heart, we become worried about things that don't matter. Stop trusting in the world, and put yourself in charge. Your opinion matters the most, because you are your own best advocate. How did this translate for me? For one, I stopped reading beauty magazines for a while. Don't get me wrong, I love beauty inspiration, but I don't love how magazines always encourage me to buy things to make me feel worthy, or "up-to-date." I get to decide what I want to wear and look like. I get to decide what is beautiful.

Overhaul your Lingerie Drawer
I don't care if you're single, in a relationship, or live in a big house overrun with cats (actually, that sounds kind of wonderful, except for the litterboxes part), you should have panties and bras that you love, are comfortable, fit properly, and are your style. So many of us neglect this part of our wardrobe because no one ever sees it. It's easy to hide a bra that's falling apart underneath an adorable blouse (maybe a little harder to hide drooping boobs from a lack of support though? Hmm...). I also hear people complain about how expensive good underwear is. Frankly (and I will be frank, by golly!), this makes no sense. Of course good bras are expensive! They are a very important, complicated wardrobe item that you will wear over and over again, hopefully for more than a year if you wash them properly (AKA, never, ever, ever put them in the dryer). The fact that you might be the only person who is going to enjoy your lingerie is all the more reason to update your drawer: do it to appreciate and love yourself.
You won't regret it.



Sunday, February 7, 2016

On Gaining Confidence.

I think cupcakes and confidence should go hand-in-hand. 

If you want to improve your self-worth, stop giving other people the calculator - Tim Fargo

Confidence can feel so elusive. It's there and everything is all good one moment, and the next moment something happens that throws you off. At least, that's how it feels to me sometimes. Some people appear to be naturally more confident than others. The rest of us have to build this skill. Because, it is a skill. For a lot of us, confidence is a muscle that needs to be flexed and practiced. Otherwise, it becomes weak and droopy and suddenly we care very much about every person's opinion, even when we know it makes no sense.

I don't know about you. Maybe everything is going great right now. Maybe you have a great job and feel well-liked, or maybe you're one of those amazing people who don't give a damn and can carve out your own place with gusto. January was not one of those months for me. In fact, it was a very vulnerable month. I was in a rut, trying to make decisions, but not actually making any. While this was going on, I was also feeling very awkward and self-conscious about the fact that I have been a few months out of college without a "real career" job yet. I know, job-hunting is a process, and the economy is still getting back on its feet, but that's how I felt. On top of that, in spite of having the most affirming husband in the world, I have been living under a cloud of self-dissatisfaction. Nothing new in the world. But it was all so very pointless and driven by negativity: comparing myself to others, fear, and people-pleasing tendencies. In other words, confidence destroyers.

However, February has been so much better. Such a beautiful month. I have been practicing some new actions, new thoughts, and I have been more inspired and self-accepting. God can always take times of darkness and uncertainty and show us the takeaway message. My first lesson: accepting and appreciating the person I am. This doesn't mean I don't have flaws, but that I can view myself as an intentional sculpture in the works. I have been put here for a reason, and no one else will ever be me. I am irreplaceable. And so are you. That is such an incredible thing to realize. From this foundation, we can move on to do what needs to be done, even if we feel less-than-great one day to the next.  

In my next post, I'll list some of the new things I've been doing to blast my dark moods of weakness away. Hint hint, they involve dessert, sweaty bodies, and lingerie, just in time for Valentine's Day! Okay, it's probably not what you think.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

On the Epically Exhuasting Journey of Finding a Decent Women's Hoodie

If you are a woman, or a boyfriend/husband with excellent attentive listening skills, I'm sure you know the struggle women go through to find a hoodie. Not just "a hoodie," the hoodie. If you waltz into a store and check out the women's hoodies, 99% of the time they will be cheap. Thin. With a sorry excuse for a hood (Many times, in the privacy of my fitting room, I will try out the hoods and be disappointed yet again when they don't even cover all of my tiny head. Lame. Lame!).

Of course, during the inevitable moment when you are snuggling your man, hanging up his clothes, or curiously trying on his lounge wear, you will discover the fact that men's hoodies are far superior to women's hoodies. They are thick, so warm, so soft, and so snuggly. Did I mention the glorious, full-bodied hoods that accompany these creations of pure genius?

It didn't always use to be this way.

Women's hoodies used to be amazing. Do you remember, just a few years ago, when surfer clothes were all the rage? It was the heyday of Billabong, Hurley, and Roxy. It was the heyday of thick, quality women's sweatshirts. Women's sweatshirts with fleece, double-lined hoods, and cool features like: thumb-holes in the sleeve (just in case you felt like poking your thumb through your sleeve).

When did things change? I'm sure a huge part of it was moving our factories overseas for cheap (unsafe) labor practices, which resulted in cheaper clothes everywhere. Part of it is that the surfer days are over. Another reason is that women settle for the crappy hoodie versions of today. Have you ever seen a guy buy a crappy hoodie? No! They pinch it dubiously, declare it impractical, and move on to a hoodie that provides heat. In this regards we need to be smarter: demanding quality and waiting until we find it.

I am here to tell you that it is not impossible to find the perfect hoodie. It just takes a little patience. I found one recently on sale at J. Crew and I am so thrilled: it matches everything, is thick and warm, and even has a double-lined hood that makes me feel like a casually dressed elf princess. Or maybe a modern jedi knight. You get the idea.

The Serene Princess Life

My serenely sleeping pooch, who is basically royalty.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. - Eleanor Roosevelt

No matter how many times I read this quote (thank you, Pinterest), I somehow still needed to read it.

What am I doing right now? I'm under my covers. My hair is in an unkempt ponytail and I am listening to an ethereal Odesza song in my stretchy pants, trying to nail what it means to be a princess. Okay, not a damsel-in-distress princess, but a serene, confident princess who gets important things done. I exercised today, does that kind of count? I think somehow it does.

Speaking of exercise, my yoga teacher a few years back in junior college totally knew what it meant to be a princess. She was both one of the most adorable and scary women I have encountered in my life. She was the kind of person who knew when to keep her cool and when to keep students in line with a firm word or two. I remember most her calm smile and soft voice (she never needed to be loud). Hair: chic and impeccable. She occasionally accentuated her yoga pants with a light pink cashmere sweater on the chillier days. I once overheard her talking about going to a nice restaurant with her friends to celebrate their birthdays simultaneously:

"Only one of us brought a tiara, so we just took turns wearing it," she said.

Life goals: to be my yoga teacher.

I think our culture is so fascinated with the princess concept because it's a concept of power.

It's acknowledging who you are and accepting it.
It's seeing what needs to be done and taking action.
It's being calm when you don't feel it.
It's trusting that everything is going to work out.
It's moving instead of being moved.

It also doesn't hurt to dress for the part.

Now, to find myself a tiara.