How to Love Yourself in 2019

2018 was the year. I transformed (well, honestly, inched closer) to the person I’ve always dreamt of being: healthy, in control of my emotional state, a master chef. Scratch that. A chef. However, in the spirit of vulnerability, I had many grand, shimmering failures, too. I felt out of control at times, stuck in sticky phases, groveling through studenthood (yes, I am still in school. Heaven help me with this stupidly important milestone).

However, if there’s one thing I did master, it was my ability to love myself. The books, shows, and odd Google searches I aided through the year resulted in a well-liked and ultimately happier me. So, I figured I would share what I’ve picked up over the year, and how it gave my many flaws a run for their money (although my anxiety toward public displays of emotion has made this post very difficult to write).

Here are the top things I’m striving to do in 2019 to keep me sane, grounded, and completely in love with my world:

No more talking about money.

No, I am not talking about quitting your marriage budgets. Hullo, I am no fool.

Those near and dear to me love to dote on the incomes and “big buys” of friends and strangers. I’m certainly not innocent of this, but I’d like to be. It’s time to make room in our conversations for art, film, and literature. I’d rather hear your dire opinion about Netflix’s recent stalker flick You than talk about Frank’s new boat. Perhaps my landscape oil paintings and vegan cooking may not be a fiery topic of discussion when loved ones get together, but I take pride in knowing that passions hold value in our home, that knowledge and reading hold more weight than the clothing we wear and savings we (or others) accumulate. Take money out of the headline, and your interest rates (ha – horrible pun) will go up.

Exchange screens for paper (no, really).

Okay, sure – millions of Americans tacked this onto their goal list for 2019. But we took it one step further: Winston and I compete to see who can stay on their phone the least using the ever-credible “Moment” app. Whoever achieves the least amount of screen time gets a $100 spending bonus at the end of the month (those of you judging the health of our marriage off of this financial bargain, stay away. We love it).

The bigger, better part of this goal, however, is paper. Successful people read. It’s just true. And The Nouvelle Club (the literary love child of Tara Larsen and I) is a great place to find good reads. Books are cheap, they give your brain and eyes a break, and there is much growth to be had from any work of literature.

make social media inspirational, not envious.

My mom never paraded the line “other girls are jealous of you” through my brain as a girl (pretty toxic, I’d say), but instead insisted to me, as a child, that you should fight to focus your energy on doing things you loved. I scribbled a list of things I could never live without – travel, beautiful books, delicious food, hobbies. Feeling in control of these categories has helped me feel like a part of them, and not just like an onlooker. It makes it easy for me to take inspiration from others’ Instagrams, fitness, health, and lifestyles. And while I’m certainly familiar with envy, it makes me sad to see so many people turn everyone’s triumphs into their own pitfalls (even though, yes, so much is staged).

There is enough success for everyone. Make a list of things you love (not just what media deems a “beautiful activity”). Accomplish them. Force yourself to congratulate others and it will become quite easy (and genuine). See value in their small victories, and view the big, wide world as a platform of inspiration, and not just a minefield for rage and anxiety.

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Meditate like mad

To my non-believers: meditation is a real thing that totally, wildly works. In the summer, I discovered the Headspace app. Each morning, I did a calm, daily 6-minute meditation that totally flipped my day. The book that really did it was A Headspace Guide to A Mindful Pregnancy. I’m not pregnant, but natural birth and meditative control fascinates me, so I chugged through this book and – voila – I didn’t even realize it was written for pregnant women. So many analogies and helpful hints and hacks. However, they also have A Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness in the general sense, as well.

Do it! Embark! Become truly Gen Z!

Shed off the (weekday) sugar

Those who know my Oreo-inhaling, Shake Shack-ing self may be wondering how this girl is ever going to avoid the sugar in her pantry. The truth is: I’m not. Last year, I cut down by swearing off sugar during weekdays, giving myself the weekend (Saturday and Sunday) to indulge on sweeter snacks. I failed time and time again, but continued to put myself back on the horse, and it made a massive impact. This works for me, since I’m an avid chocolatier and love an occasional Hi-Chew. No regrets, no hateful body shaming, and I felt quite good in my skin through 2018. I’m definitely doing this one over.

Embrace and thank the day (starting with the wardrobe).

Embracing the day doesn’t mean waking up with a big, forced, “Ah, glorious Wednesday.” It means I dress for the weather (rather than notoriously wearing sweaters on September 1st “because it’s fall”), so I can stay comfortable despite the temperature. It also means paying a little gratitude for the season I’m in. Enjoying the bright early mornings of the summers with slow wake ups and exercise. Not fighting against the feelings of depression that settle over me in early January, but rather preparing, acclimating, and recognizing always that the feelings will pass.

Also, essential oils. I am new to this realm, and I am one of those scientific outliers that are convinced oils can heal the impossible (okay, stop, I’m rational, just dramatic).

photo via www.ryelondon.com

photo via www.ryelondon.com

Eat clean (as much as possible)

I practice veganism for the most part. I switch to vegetarianism once the weekend rolls around so I can enjoy an Oreo milkshake and plow through a plate of much-loved nachos (one of my favorite foods).

Again, I’m no expert. But I forced good days where my diet was heavy on the vegetables and fruits, my brain was running on optimum, and my mental hardships went totally quiet (yes, diet and sugar can do that to you). As someone who’s battled those daily, minor ails through life, this totally wiped them out for me. Forcing productive days and fighting for self-control helps me feel internally powerful.

Eat mindfully (or, should i say, slowly)

You’d be surprised how often people have the nerve to ask if I have an eating disorder. Keeping weight on, for me, has actually been a struggle. The truth is, I actually eat so much (so fast) that I often hurt myself and my gut.

However, I’ve been developing my own little habits on eating slower, taking far smaller bites, and using our small plates and utensils for eating. Shockingly, my body has normalized under this process. I go into every meal pretending that I’m eating with the Queen, and that she is going to ask me lots of questions, so I should take thoughtful, slow bites and enjoy every bit of food I consume.

Now, food no longer fills me up, but gives me fuel: exactly what it’s intended for.

A few things that can help you get there: reading the book Intuitive Eating will surely help you kickstart the process. The Headspace app also has a number of meditations centered on shifting thoughts on eating and food. Those are wonderful.

(Before the concerns pile up: I certainly take care to make sure I’m eating enough so that I don’t lose weight, and this process has definitely helped me).

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Change how I gossip.

I’d like to kill this altogether, but it’d be silly to say that it doesn’t weave its way into many conversations. Instead, I’ve directed my focus into how I gossip, and what I say. Should I catch myself speaking ill, I try to immediately shift the focus and add a point opposite to my thought. “Perhaps he had a different experience than I did. Perhaps he was not treated the same.” When I push it out into the universe, it bubbles into a real, true idea. My judgment sinks away. Doing this has helped me develop thoughtful insights on others, rather than harsh criticisms.

Take less photos, but take better photos.

Does anyone else have “get a photo” anxiety? I had my phone up for many monumental moment this year. Of course, not all the moments – certainly not the sacred ones, or the truly buoyant. But regardless, the photos I did take were often ignored. So, instead of letting my “get a picture” anxiety boil over, I’m going to let my moments pass through my senses, and remind myself to only take one video, or to stage a photo after the moment happens (that’s right! Stage! I said it!). My Instagram followers may miss out on some funny, adorable, hilarious moments, but I’ll certainly enjoy them. Sucks to be one of my Instagram followers, I guess.

Let myself fail.

Failure became quite a friend to me this past year. I’m not talking about big, bad guffaws that cost you a job or whatever. I’m talking about slipping a bite of chocolate on a Wednesday and rolling my eyes about it. I’m talking about gossiping uncontrollably about someone who wronged me, and then – months later – seeing how totally faulted I was in my accusation. I’m talking about breaking my clean diet over and over again, then getting back on the horse.

I embrace my inability to keep cool at all times. Surely, I have more discipline when it comes to my work and school – I’m not a total new age softie. But being able to love myself through the major missteps is something I take total pride in.

These goals surely made me love myself more this year. And when you love yourself, you’re a more successful friend, sibling, spouse, and colleague. I stand by it.

Happy New Year!