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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bathroom Stall Inspiration in Atlanta

Friday, June 24, 2011

Using Vision Boards to Achieve Self-Love

Don’t ask what the world needs.
Ask what makes you come alive and go out and do it.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Howard Thurman

So many times, I will write someone an email or leave a comment on someone else's blog, and then I realize I'm formulating a new blog post without realizing it! That's how this one got started as well. Here's the proof. This is a comment I left on my pal Ally's blog to our mutual pal Ashelle as she was asking for some advice on how to achieve her goals toward self-love:

Something that helps me tremendously is my vision board. I made one a year and a half ago and have achieved almost everything on it except for one. When I look at it now and realize that, I marvel. Mine was all life stuff I wanted to achieve, but you could just as easily make one for goals like these. Just steer clear of adding magazine photos that have to do with appearance or "how you wish you looked" unless those images constitute health and vitality. Inspiring phrases and quotes are especially helpful. If a board seems like too big of a project, try cutting a notch in the top of a shoe box and dropping clippings or notes in it as you're inspired. I just read about the box idea yesterday. It doesn't matter how you go about it; the idea is that the physical act of doing it is your way of stating to the Universe that you believe your goals are going to happen. When you really believe it...they do. Uh-oh, I feel a blog post coming on. ;)

Maybe you have seemingly lofty goals of learning to love yourself more too but aren't quite sure how to get there or maybe even how to begin. This post isn't necessarily the answer for everybody, but it is me telling you what has proven to work in my life. When you speak something into existence, that's half the battle of getting there. And when you have something concrete and tangible ever-present to remind you of your goals, no matter what those goals are, you're 10 times more likely to actually achieve them. I just made up that statistic, but whatever. ;) Visualization works. I believe in it so strongly that I am using Hypnobirthing techniques, not just when I have our baby but all throughout the rest of my pregnancy. (If you're interested, the gist of it is removing the fear from labor, thereby removing tension, thereby removing pain, and using exercises that use powerful visualization.) I know I sound like I'm only one step away from becoming a motivational speaker for The Secret, but when something has worked so powerfully for me, I wanna share it with you!

I have blogged about making a vision board before, but our BFF Bon emailed me about an alternate that she feels fits her a little better than the traditional board: a vision box, as I mentioned in the above comment to Ashelle. (Here's the article about them, which I strongly suggest you look at!) Instead of cutting out pictures and phrases and gluing them to a board, you drop them in a box with the belief that they will happen. One major upside to the box is there's not as much preparation involved...who doesn't have a shoe box lying around somewhere? You don't even have to decorate it if you don't want to; you just put "Whatever is contained in this box—IS!" somewhere on it and drop things in as you're inspired by something. Personally, I prefer the board, but that's just me...there was something very cathartic about the whole process of gathering magazines and craft supplies, poring through them searching for just the right pictures and words, gluing them on and feeling the weight of their purpose, and then having something to look at anytime I want, which helps with the visualization. Try whichever option resonates with you more, or come up with your own variation. We made a party out of creating our vision boards and burned little pieces of paper with our fears written on them at the end, and wow, was it ever healing for me, not to mention, I GOT RESULTS!! And I mean right down to the details. I ended up wearing the exact wedding dress on my vision board - it was way too expensive new, but I was so bent on getting it, and it ended up falling into my lap via a sample sale for a much lower price just when I'd almost given up hope. The only major thing left to achieve on my board now is learning to play guitar; everything else has virtually been checked off. If I could "conjure up" achieving some pretty big ole life goals by believing in my board, why couldn't you do the very same thing with your goals toward loving yourself more?

By the way, Bon always sends me the best emails in the world; she's the one who got me hooked on "Notes from the Universe" and If you're not already a subscriber to these daily emails, oh, you HAVE to do it today!! My day is no longer complete without starting out with them. In that vein, another thing I seem to be leaving in comments on other blogs lately is my firm belief that gratefulness is the absolute #1 key to everything: it’s the key to being happier, more secure in yourself and your relationships, attracting more and more things in life to be grateful for, on and on and on. People who have a truly grateful heart and live that way have the ultimate secret to contentment and self-love. When gratefulness is really a lifestyle for you, something that becomes so much a part of you that you even do it unconsciously, it's pretty damn hard not to also live in a state of self-love. You're far too appreciative of what you have to dwell too long on hating yourself. (You still have off days, sure, but we're only human, after all.) So when you make your board or box, if you really want it to work, you have to go into it with a sense of gratefulness that you will achieve those believe it so strongly that you're already grateful for them happening even before they have! This is part of the original vision board post I wrote on gratefulness:

Another tip I'd like to share concerning resolutions is to change your phrasing. Instead of saying, "I resolve to..." or "I will no longer..." and the like (because we all know it almost always fizzles out eventually), try switching up your wording to something like, "I am so thankful that I..." This is basic law of attraction/The Secret type of stuff. But trust me, it really works! The key to getting anything you want out of life is first being grateful for what you already have. The more grateful you are, the more you open yourself up to receiving even more of what you want. If you thank God/the Universe/your own self that you have already accomplished whatever it is, even though you haven't, you're more likely to believe that it's possible and therefore end up doing it. Just try it!

And, finally, something else Bon has taught me (she's so incredible) that really helps me is a very simple exercise you can do anytime, anywhere. I mostly use it for stress release and fear/anxiety release. But the principle could easily be used for increasing your confidence and sense of self-worth. She just repeats the words "release and relax" to herself as she focuses on her breathing. I reverse the phrase and say "relax" as I inhale and "release" as I exhale; as I exhale, it feels like I am literally releasing the stress or fear. For self-love purposes, you could use this to calm your spiraling negative self-talk and release it away from your mind.  You could even change the words to something else that works for you. 

I hope some of these things will help all of you on your self-love quest! One more thing, since I'm kinda link-happy today...this is a must-read post over on "Looking in the Mirror": 

If you end up making a board or box or otherwise have suggestions for things that would help achieve the same results, we'd love to hear about 'em!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Celebrate Friday and laugh with me (or at me)!

Our dear, dear readers...the time has come to make a confession to you. I can't pretend anymore. It is time for you to meet my baby daddy.

This is a picture of us when we first met. I know, I know, I tried not to make a dumb goober "fan face." But, you know, he's a big movie star, and I was more than a little starstruck, what with his five o'clock shadow and those dreamy bedroom eyes. I mean, you see the way he's looking at me, right? You would've been equally powerless if he looked at you like that!

Celebritize - RP version
Fast forward approximately 5 months, and this is us now. Sometimes these things just happen. As you can see, he is very excited about the baby, and, in fact, in the second one, he is looking at me with the exact same adoring expression on his face as the day we met...actually, he's even in the same clothes... Hmm, totally a coincidence, I'm sure. So now you know the real reason he's never really admitted to a relationship with Kristen! I tried to convince him to get in the pool with me, but you know, he has a thing about his hair. 90 degrees outside, and the guy still wears a suit. Um, two suits. But I forgot all about it once he leaned in for the kiss. When you look like that, who cares.

Celebritize - RP version

And, finally, here is our new publicity shot. I know it may look like we copied a magazine shoot they did, but, again, just another coincidence.

Now, I did show these photos to my husband; after all, it's only fair that he finds out first before the press gets ahold of these photos and runs amok! Do you know that when he saw them, he just laughed at me?!? It was almost like he didn't believe me!! The nerve. And I wanted to break the exclusive to our loyal readers before you all see it on TMZ or something.

And to top it all off, there's that new 3D and 4D ultrasound technology that shows you exactly what your baby looks like! It's just amazing; she looks just like me, doesn't she? I would like to know how she already has that nose ring, though...

Okay, okay, hope you had a good laugh, cuz I sure did while I was making these pics!! heehee When I made the baby one, I actually had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard. They are all courtesy of 3 new fun iPhone apps I recently discovered (talk about someone running amok), if you didn't figure that out already based on the fact that I put the names of the apps under the pics. :)

I wouldn't actually take the time to Photoshop myself into pics of him, for God's sake...I mean, that would be crazy!!! ;) So if you also don't want to feel like a stalker, just install these apps on your phone and get instant results. By the way, Photofunia and FaceReplace have much more stuff than you see here...there are tons more options, like putting your gorgeous face on a vintage TV screen or as David Beckham's tattoo (as Kam did here), and you can even see what you'd look like as a mulleted MacGyver! So much fun to be had!

Here's a Twilight-y one I made on the Photofunia web site - so if you don't have a touchscreen phone or can't find the app, you can still have access to the TONS of fun effects on the web site! I really need to use a pic of me that is much more painfully angsty, though...

And I thought this one was rather fitting for a "closet narcissist"!

Aaaaaaand I wouldn't be me if I didn't add a little something about confidence in a blog post. :) I gotta say, I have never felt so confident and awesome about my body as I do now with my big ole pregnant belly out there for all the world to see. I mean, I posted swimsuit pics online, which ought to tell you something. Cellulite and all, I am proud and would strut my stuff down any runway!

Have fun, and have a happy, "app-y" weekend!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Recapturing the self-love you were born with.

Kam and I had a discussion by text last night that really got me thinking about things I want my husband and me to tell our daughter when she comes along and is old enough to understand. Well, actually, it's something I think about all the time, but it prompted a good discussion with my husband. Kam said that her 11-year-old daughter has been saying recently that she thinks she is pretty, and it really warms my heart to hear that, and we all hope she maintains a sense of self-love, especially as she's entering probably the most difficult age. 

As my husband and I talked, we decided that instead of telling our daughter she is perfect (as it would be so tempting to do), we will tell her she is ENOUGH and that she does not have to be perfect. I want her to feel wonderful just the way she is, without the pressure I felt growing up to constantly measure up to my own self-imposed and misguided standards for perfection. When I stopped feeling like I had to be perfect, that was when my real life started. Maybe telling a child that he or she is "perfect" could leave them with the subconscious feeling that they have something to continually live up to, like they can never be allowed to mess up. I'm sure some of it depends on the child too. Or maybe a "you're perfect to me" (like that awesome Pink song, which I promise the baby started kicking to the other day!) or "you're perfect the way you are without needing to do anything to earn my approval" would work too.

One of our handmade necklaces, available on our web site or etsy shop.
Our BFF Bon sent me an email today from a great web site called Heal Your Life, which contained probably one of the best things I've ever read. It's along these same lines but applies to all you self-love-seeking grownups, and I wanted to share it with you too.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! How to Let Your Love Shine
by Crystal Andrus

I REMEMBER A RETREAT I was having not too long ago when Natalie Hughes (our musical director) couldn’t find a babysitter for her small daughter, Audrey. Natalie always performs during these special days and it’s just not the same without her. She asked if she could bring Audrey and let my teenage daughters watch her.

“Of course!” was our answer.

Just before the day got started, I asked Audrey if I could introduce her to the group of ladies—many who looked a little anxious. Audrey happily agreed.

Up Audrey came, a little shy but glowing; I asked her to tell everyone her name and how old she was. I then asked her if she was beautiful. “Yes,” she nodded with the sweetest smile. She certainly was beautiful! She then told us that she was also “smart and talented and very loveable.”

The ladies all admired her gentle strength and humble confidence. We admired her God-given sense of self-love.

Audrey hadn’t learned to hate herself . . . yet. Audrey hadn’t learned that her hips were too big or her breasts too small. She hadn’t decided that men would probably hurt her or that money didn’t grow on trees.

Audrey was still trusting, believing, and completely hopeful about life and the important part she would play in it. Audrey loved herself. Not with selfish narcissism but with a natural sense of divinity.

We are born with self-love. We didn’t have to learn it. We innately felt it. We instinctively believed in our parents. We trusted that they would protect, guide, encourage, and empower us, until we were old enough to make our way out into the world with confidence, courage, and certainty.

But for many of us, this didn’t happen.

Our parents didn’t give us what we needed. It’s not necessarily their fault, though. They probably didn’t get the messages of self-love delivered to them either!

My parents never once told me as a child that they loved me. Not once. I didn’t find out until I was a teenager that my mother’s parents had never spoken those words to her either!

Parents don’t intentionally set out to ruin their children. I’m a mother myself; I can’t imagine carrying the burden of thinking I said or did anything that may have negatively affected my daughter’s self esteem, self worth and self love! But I probably have . . . not even knowing it.

Parents carry their own wounds, shame, pain, and blame. And they unconsciously project it all over their kids. The truth is we all project our light and our darkness on those around us—unless we’ve done some serious self-work!

Marianne Williamson points out in her extraordinary book, A Course in Weight Loss, that “the love you’ve withheld from yourself … is held in trust for you until you’re ready to receive it.” This concept is so huge!

You probably have an enormous warehouse of self-love stored up inside of you!

Do you understand that the only reason you’re struggling so much is because you’ve been too afraid to shine bright. You’ve been worried that being YOU—magnificent, beautiful, talented, sexy, powerful, amazing—will hurt you. You’ve tucked your self-love, along with your bright shining light, deep deep inside.

You may have insulated your self-love so far down that you think it’s lost, but it isn’t! Your love can never leave you—even if you’ve left it! 

This week, your job is to remember who you were as a child. Find a picture of yourself. Notice all the wonderful qualities you possessed, the wonder and trust in your eyes. (You may even have to go all the way back to a picture of yourself as a baby.)

Write down ten positive affirmations about “her.” An example of your list may be:

You are so beautiful.
You are so kind.
You are so smart.
You are so special.
You are so sweet.
You are so loveable.
You are so important to me.
Your life matters.
You matter.
I love you!

Then, every morning and evening, look into the mirror—into your own eyes—and repeat these affirmations to yourself.

This is the start . . . the beginning of falling back in love with you! It may feel futile at first. Do it anyway.


And one more thing to leave you with - something else I came across this week. Here's a partial.

50 Reasons You are Beautiful

1.     It is beautiful to speak another language. It is beautiful to try.

2.    Beauty is long hair, and short hair; brown, black, pink, yellow, or white. Beauty is a smooth bald head.

3.    If you have been to hell and back, your resilience is beautiful.

4.    Asking questions—especially “why?”—is always beautiful. Why? Because curiosity is beautiful.

5.    You are beautiful when you are afraid to do something, and you do it anyway.

Click here to read the rest of the list - I promise it won't be a waste of time!

So what we wanna know is...what are some of your ideas for recapturing the childlike essence of self-love we hopefully had before the world or other people (or ourselves) "beat" it out of us? How do you plan to get it back?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Before & After: How the right fit can change everything.

I hope y'all aren't totally sick of all my maternity clothes talk, but it's just sort of what's going on in my life right now. :) All the same, this post could apply to anybody in any situation! So keep readin'.

Sorry, Old Navy, but this post is gonna dog on you a little...

You may remember how excited I was to get my first real round of maternity clothes there. I was just so ecstatic not to have to wear yoga pants or pajama pants every single day. I'm still perfectly happy with the shirts and dress I got there. But the pants, well, I started noticing that I didn't feel my best in them. I felt like they made me look dumpy and frumpy, so that's how I felt when I wore them. They fit around the "waist" (meaning under my preggo belly) but seemed to have too much room everywhere else, so they made me feel bigger than I was, and the denim seemed sooo thick. Also, even though they're supposed to be "under belly" pants - I am learning maternity lingo now - they actually sit slightly on my belly at the bottom of it...and that doesn't make for the smoothest bump silhouette and also doesn't feel that good to me; I just don't like pants sitting on my belly at all. None of those full-panel maternity pants for me, thank you very much. I'm already hot all the time as it is!

Well, I hopped along - waddled? - to the Motherhood store in the mall recently to exchange a gifted shirt for a smaller size (never a bad feeling when you're pregnant, lol), and I thought I'd try on some of their pants and jeans to see how they compared. The answer is, there is no comparison - they're way better than the ones I had!! They truly do fit totally underneath my bump, to the point where I suspect I will be able to wear them long after the baby is here. The cut of the pants is just much more figure-hugging and flattering, and the denim is thinner. And because they were on sale, I paid the same price I paid at Old Navy. Old Navy ones all got returned. My body confidence soars when I wear the new ones...I swear I don't feel as bloated or weighed down because I don't look it in these. I carry myself completely differently in them. Check out my befores and afters. Oh, and I know the shoes don't really go the best with these outfits...Kam and I did three photoshoots in one afternoon, and I forgot to bring a better-suited pair. ;)

Loved by Heidi Klum skinny jeans from Motherhood - LOOOVE 'em!
Old Navy jeans - like, dude, seriously, whah happened here?!?!?!
I'm standing the same way, and I swear even my upper arms are bigger in this one

Motherhood brand denim capris - much more calf-flattering.
Old Navy capris. Okay, the diff between these two isn't as noticeable in pics, more in real life.
But see how the legs on the Motherhood capris are much more fitted?
The fabric is also thinner on the Motherhood ones, which means less visual bulk.
I can only vouch for the Old Navy maternity jeans and pants that I got; they may have others that are more flattering. (And, in general, I have always really liked Old Navy, for the record.) But I thought I'd be brave here and show you how much different you can look if you just have the right fit in your clothes. I'm not talking about obeying tons of fashion rules or consulting a guide book on "how to dress thinner." This isn't about looking thinner; it's about playing up your personal strong points regardless of your body shape. Once you become more aware of your body shape, your own unique curves and lines, and how different pieces bring out different qualities in it more, it will become pretty easy to recognize what is extra flattering on you and what isn't. And I think you can tell a lot just from how you feel in certain items.

I once blogged a post called "Do you wear it even if it's not flattering?" and still maintain that if you just really love something, wear it, for God's sake, whether it falls into the category of flattering or not...when you love something, sometimes that alone is enough to make you feel confident wearing it. But I still thought it might be helpful to show how different cuts/fits can really make a big difference, not only in how you look but how you feel...and that's what's most important, after all. That romper that I was so eagerly awaiting in the mail turned out not to be entirely flattering on me, lol, but I still love it and feel cute wearing it. The crotch is super low, but I think that's to allow my belly to expand and expand; I have a feeling that the bigger I get, the more flattering the romper will fit. After the baby comes, I might have it altered because I like it so much. I'll save the pics of that outfit for later, though. :) you also find yourself relating your mood/the way you feel about your appearance to your clothes? What kinds of clothes make you feel your hottest? 

Also, how do you feel about the term "skinny" jeans - do you equate the fit with the style of the jeans themselves or with what the body that goes in them is "supposed" to be?