You Glow, Girl!

RISE to Your Best Life and SHINE

By:  Beth Wilson-Parentice

And suddenly you know it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”- Meister Eckhart

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Ladies—today is the day I start the book that has been in the making for a long time, without me even knowing it!

 

There have been a few recent major life events that have inspired me to start writing. The biggest change is I recently left a CEO role in my own company and I’m now also a single mom! About a decade ago, I had an idea for an organic soda/cocktail mixer that I created in my own kitchen, which soon became my “Little Engine that Could,” and grew it into a multi-million dollar national beverage brand. When I launched my beverage company, I had no idea how big it would be—but I knew that if it did indeed become big, I wanted it to inspire others.  Vapid corporate greed—not my thing. I wanted everyone, especially women to know that if I could make this happen, then they could too. That was when I created the acronym for my brand Sipp: Strength, Inspiration, Passion, and Perseverance. This brand-ethos kept my flame burning every step of the way, knowing that I was forging a path for others to take them from “Impossible” to “I’m possible. And that’s what this book is about: “the possible.”  

 

But as I transitioned from my CEO role, I felt the need to find a greater purpose—something bigger and more meaningful. 

 

All along my journey; from childhood to Sipp to now, there have been ups and downs; and each step—good, bad, and ugly—someone one would say, “that would make a great chapter in your book!” Each time I thought, Who, me? Who would possibly want to hear about that? 

 

That, my friends, is the voice I call Negative Nancy; the champion of fear and self-doubt. Negative Nancy used to occupy an enormous space in my life. But as I began to search for greater meaning post-Sipp, as I became more intentional about sharing my life experiences to help others; Negative Nancy grew smaller.

 

Someone told me recently that the experiences I share with others is a gift and it is my duty to share it with the world.

 

As so, this book is my gift to you and to the world. It is my hope that you or someone you know will gain strength and clarity from my experiences (and maybe you’ll be able to silence your own Negative Nancy as well!).  

 

Within these pages I will share my authentic self, how I never thought I could ever grow a beverage brand without beverage experience and uh, also be a mom and deal with challenges in my marriage that not a soul in the world knew about. There were times when I felt isolated and alone, but I knew I needed to step up and reach outside my comfort zone. I needed to do something bold despite my feelings of self-doubt and my frenemy Negative Nancy.  The challenges I faced knocked me down and they could have kept me down. But I tackled one obstacle at a time and as I managed to turn each one around, I built my confidence up slowly but surely and began to face my fears head on. 

 

Everyone is born with a light burning inside of them, but all the outside influences from childhood onwards start to dampen our flame. Were you a child of divorce, abuse, neglect, or bullying?  Imagine what that did to your flame. And now as an adult what challenges are threatening to snuff out your flame like a gust of wind—job loss, death, bad marriage, infertility, sickness?

 

Now is the time to reignite that flame. It might be dim from time to time, but it’s your job to keep it glowing brightly for all the world to see—and I’m here to help.

 

You are the only you—one-of-a-kind. Dismiss the negativity and keep your flame aglow. 

 

I welcome you to join me on a journey as I share how I discovered that the more I stepped outside my comfort zone and took chances, the more I learned about myself, which caused life-changing experiences to happen. There were many times my flame almost went out, but I refused to let anyone dim my light. 

 

Over time, those experiences encouraged me to finally open the door, dream big, and unleash my inner sparkle; with passion, perseverance, and courage. I hope my stories empower and inspire you to do the same; and to be the best version of yourself! 

 

If I can do it, you can too (in your own way) and I will be there along for the ride to make sure that you glow, girl!

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

RED

 

Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?

- Danielle LaPorte

 

 

 

This quote has always stuck with me. Who was that little girl before all the outside forces started telling me? I was creative, shy, and wanted to fly with paper wings I skillfully crafted. Despite being introverted, I had BIG plans. I planned to carry my dad’s larger-than-life ladder from the garage to the back of our ranch house, climb to the roof, attach the wings to my arms and jump while flapping my little arms as fast as they could go.  

I dreamt night after night about the amazing things I would see once I finished my wings and took flight. I still remember that feeling of pure joy and wonderment. Luckily, for my own safety, I couldn’t manage to even get the big ladder down off the wall, much less move it out to the roof, so I had to resort to the next highest flight platform… the picnic table! I jumped and flapped as hard as I could and when I plummeted straight to the ground; I went right back to the drawing board planning new and improved wing concepts. 

By now you’re probably asking: “What does this have to do with the chapter name, Red?” Well, I’m getting to that. Red is an incredibly meaningful word to me. I have red hair and “red” was how I was identified in elementary school. Well, actually there were other names too, like Fireball and Carrot Top. Imagine this:  I’m walking around school trying to feel all good about myself with my shiny new shoes, my favorite purple jeans and cool-girl backpack  and I hear, “Hey, Red!” and then a bunch of kids’ laughter comes echoing down the hall.

 

Am I a freak, I thought?  Why me? Why do I have this strange bright red hair and freckles? 

Instead of embracing my uniqueness, it was one of those defining moments that lingers into adulthood and needs to be kicked to the curb. When thoughts like “am I a freak” began to appear; was when my dream of taking flight with custom handmade wings started to disappear.  

What memory do you have before the world told you who you should be? Bring yourself back there. Feel those feelings—let them wash over you. Shut out all the noise. We need to go back and remember. 

Whenever I start thinking that I can’t do something, I think, why can’t I? Who’s really telling me that I can’t do it? 

Do you ever hear that voice in your head saying, “why waste your time on that—you can’t do it, that’s stupid, what are you thinking?!” Name that voice and when you hear it again, call it by name (feel free to use Nancy !). Politely ask her to sit down and be quiet (or shut up!). Then immediately bounce that negative with a positive. Flip the script. 

For example, if Negative Nancy ever starts to whisper, “My book will never be a bestseller, so why bother?” then I counter with “If I finish it and help just one person, then it will be a huge accomplishment!” And I not only think this positive thought, I say it out loud, too.

 

Now it’s your turn. Listen to what your critic is saying, then counter it with a positive antidote. Say it out loud. Rinse and repeat!  Doing this will ultimately allow you to shift your mindset.

This is your life. You make the decisions. Don’t let that negative voice tell you what you can and can’t do. “It” can’t control you. Take it along for the ride and show it what you can do. Prove it wrong. Only you have the power to create the life you desire, and the truth is if you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never get it.  

I was extremely shy as a child. And after my parents’ divorce at age seven, I became even more withdrawn. We moved out of my childhood home and I moved into an apartment with my mom in an unfamiliar town. I had to go to a new school. I saw my dad every weekend, but it was a huge adjustment. My mom was working full-time, and I had to walk home from school on a busy street and go to a neighbor’s house until she picked me up after work. I felt alone and faked being sick over 20 times that year so that my mom would stay home with me. That was until she found my journal that basically read as a full-on confession. What was I thinking putting it in writing? She obviously was not happy to make this discovery and told me that she was going to lose her job if I kept it up. Of course, I felt guilty. This was a scary time for me, and that bright flame I had went down to the tiniest flicker.

A child is pure and glows with a bright flame. A child does not deserve to be neglected, shamed, or abused. You didn’t deserve the things that might have happened to you. You were an innocent child, for God’s sake! Why is it we feel responsible for so many things when we were only a child? And then make ourselves pay the price for it, forever.

I remember when I was around ten-years-old my mom was dating someone. I guess it was pretty serious, because after a while she told me that she was considering marrying him, and she wanted to know my thoughts.  Do you know what I based my opinion on? The fact that he took me out to Friendly’s (the ultimate ice cream diner on the east coast of the U.S.) every Thursday night when she was in night school and bought me my favorite hot fudge sundae. I know, crazy right?  She decided to marry him, and it turned out that the fun “friendly” guy I saw every Thursday night was actually a narcissistic, demanding, mean, abusive man. Needless to say, the marriage ultimately ended and how do you think I felt? How could I have been so stupid? How could I have not seen who he was? The answer should have been, how could I have seen who he really was? I was ten! But still, I thought it was my fault. 

Have you ever thought about why you can’t move forward or are so self-critical?

Sometimes we masterfully avoid the pain by ignoring that inner child and if left unattended, she  dictates how we make decisions, react to challenges, and has an outside influence on how we live our life—and we may be none the wiser.

Think about a time when as a child you made a “bad” decision or you felt like something “happened” because of you. Take a moment and forgive yourself. Tell yourself out loud, it’s not your fault. Tell your inner child she is now loved and appreciated by you and has nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. None of what happened to her was ever her fault. She was just a child and had no way to escape—but now she is free! Make sure your inner-child knows you will be her champion from now on. You will be their protector, so be sure to them know how you are proud of who she has become.

Only we can heal the pain of our inner-child. Trust me, I know because for years I thought someone else could do that. One of the quickest ways we can destroy ourselves is to hold on to shame and regret. To move forward, we need to learn from our past mistakes and accept ourselves  for who we truly are. Understand that everything that’s transpired on our journey of life has made us who we are today.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an artist. I loved to draw. It was my passion. In my elementary school scrapbook, there was a page for each year that asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Every year, I filled in the blank with “artist.” There was never a doubt in my mind. I had the “crazy” idea that when I grew up, I would paint with an easel on the streets of Paris while wearing a little beret. I guess I wasn’t concerned about how I would make a living! 

I took my drawing pad everywhere. I think being an only child, my pad was like a sibling to me. When I had to go places where there were only adults, I had my pad and I drew. I drew so much that I won drawing contests and awards. My drawing enabled me to keep my flame glowing through some dark times. And drawing funny comic strips helped too!

When I entered high-school, I was so excited for art class. This was the big time now and I felt like I was on my way to being famous. Except things didn’t quite turn out quite as I had planned. While I was in a top school district, there was only one art teacher who had been there for at least 100 years; or so it seemed. There was nothing inspiring about her. No spark—no glow. I think her flame went out years earlier, and she was miserable in her life and just going through the motions until she could retire.

 

Then here I come, all of fourteen, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to learn and grow and be inspired. I think the brightness of my flame irritated her. Our class drawing projects never evoked any excitement. I tried my best, but she was always critical of my work. I thought that maybe she was just trying to push me harder, but when I saw her with other students, I thought possibly she just didn’t have anything nice to say. She just generally seemed bothered my existence.  

I worked harder and harder to prove myself and when I finally got the courage to tell her in my junior year that I wanted to be an artist; she chuckled in a cruel and dismissive way. I will never forget that scene and how it made me feel for as long as I live. That day changed the course of my life. The flame that I worked so hard to keep shining bright almost went out. I slowly stopped drawing, little by little, and when it was time to apply for college, my inner voice (damn you Negative Nancy!) said, “You’ll never make it as an artist.” So, I decided to major in business, as it would be the safer option for me. 

Letting the criticisms of others affect us is bound to happen, but letting it in our head (and letting it tear us down) will only stop us from doing something amazing. It will prevent us from sharing our gifts with others. My art teacher was supposed to be a mentor. She was the expert, or so I told myself. I listened to her, and eventually her negative comments fed Negative Nancy, and my glow got dimmer and dimmer. I allowed her to tell me how good I was. I gave up on something because I didn’t think I would do as well as she thought I should.

I didn’t know who I was then. I only knew who I wasn’t. 

Now, as an adult, I tell my inner child that my art teacher was human, just like all of us. She may have had broken dreams herself. I won’t allow her negative comments and dismissiveness to dim my glow any longer. I’m proud of my artistic gift, and I am so fortunate to have opportunities to design and create in my businesses. That experience was one of many that brought me to where I am today. I was bitter about it in the past, but now I’m grateful for it because I believe this is where I’m supposed to be.

 

By embracing who we are, we can strip our negative inner voice of its destructive power and, eventually, our positive voice becomes louder and our glow becomes brighter. Create a beautiful place inside yourself, and then expand outward and unleash your inner sparkle, girl!

A few of my favorite tips to transform negative statements into positive love for ourselves:

1.   What are the negative statements you tell yourself? Write them down.

2.   Create positive statements to counter to your negatives. Practice saying them by changing the negative to a positive: “I let people walk all over me” becomes “I’m a giving person.” “I’m so fat” becomes “I worked out two times this week because I’m committed to self-care.”

3.   Write positive affirmations on colorful sticky notes and put them around your house so if a negative thought creeps in, you have a positive affirmation right in front of you .

Glow Girl Affirmation: I approve of myself and love myself deeply.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

 

WHY ME?

 

 

"Women are so unforgiving of themselves. We don't recognize our own beauty because we're too busy comparing ourselves to other people." – Kelly Osbourne

                                                           

 

 

 

 

Why me? Do you ever find yourself asking that?  Do you ever have an answer?

 

Like any self-defense mechanism, asking “why me” can ease the pain and make us feel protected when things don’t seem to be going our way. However, the truth is, it causes more damage because we end up feeling sorry for ourselves and resenting people for being “luckier” than us.

 

When bad things happen to us or we don’t have the life we want, it’s so easy for us to blame others.  But the reality is, life is life and we all have the good and the bad.  If you believe that everything that happens in your life is "done to you," you’ve given away your power. 

 

Now when I ask myself "why me" the answer is, "why not me?".  This is one of my favorite statements. I say this when I start to go down the path of comparing why bad things seem to happen to me, but others seem to have it all. 

 

Try accepting reality rather than fighting it. If you wonder why you don’t have a perfect life like other people, you are sabotaging yourself.  You need to choose a different mindset. When you stop expecting, you start accepting. And while we’re spending time wondering ‘why can’t I be that person who has it all going on’ or “why do only these bad things happen to me’, we lose time we could be investing in ourselves, believing in ourselves, and ultimately not working towards making our dreams a reality.

 

I spent so much time looking at what other people had, and what I didn’t. Where they were in life and I wasn’t. It distracted me from focusing on me and my accomplishments.  

 

After my son was born, it was hard for me to go out anywhere. He cried all the time.  There were times when I just couldn’t take the crying anymore and I would put him in his crib, turn the lullaby music on and close the door. I would go in our bedroom, turn the television on and wait ten minutes, while I cried. I felt like a terrible mother.  When I could finally get him to sleep, I would attempt to take a shower, maybe for the first time in a week, and pray that when I turned the water off, he would still be sleeping. I would shower as quick as I could, count to ten, say a prayer and turn the water off.  And…screaming baby!

 

I would rarely go out with him because of the crying. People would stare at me as I was trying to console him. They almost seemed to be trying to figure out if I was hurting him. I felt like the biggest failure and the worst mother in the world.  Eventually, I tried to tell myself not be afraid to go out with him.  I thought, who cares what people think of me.  They have no idea what I’m going through. Screw them.

 

One brave day, I decided to listen to myself and headed to the farmers market that normally I would never dare do to because it was more than 5 minutes from my house.  My husband had been gone for two days and he was coming home that night and I wanted to try to plan a romantic late-night diner with candlelight. I’d found a CD with white noise sounds that was guaranteed to get my baby to sleep within fifteen minutes at night (that’s what the CD said!) and keep him asleep for at least two to three hours.

 

So, I ventured out on the quest of having an evening of romance with my husband and a sleeping baby. But even going to the farmers market was an experience. I’d planned to go in and get two Black Angus steaks, some fresh vegetables and maybe a dessert if I was lucky. I was on a colicky baby mommy mission. I had my list and literally ran through the market, giving my baby as much motion as possible in his stroller while perusing all the goodies. I did it in record time and was home free with only a few small cries…until I decided to treat myself to a café mocha. Why quit now? I thought. Maybe I could squeeze out another couple of minutes at the coffee bar booth. I was in line and only two people were ahead of me. So far, so good.

 

A woman stood in front of me in line with a double stroller. Oh God, I wondered, how does she do it?  She smiled at me and I smiled back. I looked at her admiringly and said, “Wow, twins.  They are so adorable.” So by now my time was expiring and my baby was starting to get fidgety because we weren’t moving and the whimpers were beginning to turn into wails.

 

I started to frantically push the stroller back and forth like an insane woman while chanting with my inside voice, “please don’t cry, please for the LOVE OF GOD don’t cry!” while my outside voice said, “They must be a handful,” imagining my son times two.

 

Now I was breaking out in a sweat and I could feel heat, red hot heat, slowly enveloping my face. But did I stop, no.  I continued, “Do you get much sleep?” I was now not only pushing the stroller back and forth to calm my “demon” child, but I managed to find a new side to side technique.  The crying escalates.

 

She says, “Actually, they have been fabulous!”, beaming with pride and practically

shouting to be heard over my screaming baby. No wonder she looked so put together and so

rested. And to top it off, her babies were wearing perfectly coordinating outfits.

 

She then continues to say, “They’ve been sleeping through the night and they have this amazing bond.”  WTF!  I was two seconds from about going gangsta-momma on her! 

I didn’t want to hear this.

 

Oh, but hold on, it gets worse.  She steps up to the barista and orders a low-fat cappuccino, un-sweetened. Seriously?  I thought, no wonder she looks good: she has amazing babies and drinks low-fat drinks, oh and I’m sure she eats organic food and does yoga. 

 

We said our goodbyes, with a big (fake) grin on my face, she picked up her skinny drink and strolled away with her perfect smiling babies, her size two Gap pants and hip Nike slip-on sneakers.

 

She has it all, I thought. I couldn’t understand why everyone else around me was blessed

with such perfect, lovable babies and the perfect life. Even my friend, who wasn’t expecting to have another child, was given an angel. She started sleeping through the night shortly after she was born and when she cried you could barely even hear it!  One time she was crying and I actually thought it was a cute little bird chirping.  And she always looked happy. I could hold her for hours and barely hear a peep. When I would bring my son over her house, usually in a sleep deprived state of mind, I thought maybe some of her happy-go-lucky disposition would rub off on him. No such luck.

 

Everywhere I turned seem to add fuel to the fire. Friends, strangers, the Internet, mom’s groups. What the hell else was left? 

 

As I was wallowing in my self-pity comparing myself to every mother I met, researching online what other moms of incessantly crying babies were doing, my mom suggested going to a personal development seminar.  I thought, how could I leave my baby?  Who would have the patience to care for him?  She offered to take care of him so I could go, saying how much it would help me.  Honestly, I was so burnt out I couldn’t even think about trying to retain anything that was going to personally develop me! 

 

I dragged myself to the city, sleep-deprived to see what this was all about.  For starters, they encouraged people to go up on stage and share their stories.  Hell no, I thought.  They should be lucky I’m even sitting in this chair with my eyes open and my hair brushed.  They asked for a volunteer to come up and a woman was soon making her way toward the podium.  I thought, good luck girl.  Have fun baring your soul to hundreds of strangers.  Better you than me.

 

As the woman got closer to the podium, I was thinking she looked familiar. I felt like I had seen

her somewhere before.  She introduced herself and started to tell her story. She began speaking with a very shaky voice while trying to keep the microphone close to her mouth and said, “Um…hi, um…I was married five years ago to a man I met on a blind date. He was wonderful and we had a great marriage.” I thought, well this doesn’t sound so bad. Then she paused and closed her eyes and I had a feeling this was about to take a turn for the worse.  “We decided to start a family and were blessed with twins, a boy and a girl. We were so thrilled. They mean everything to me.” Her voice started to crackle and tears were streaming down her face now.

 

She took a deep breath and continued, “Two months ago I found out my husband was cheating on me with this girl at work.  I was devastated, I mean my world just crashed…but told him I would try to work it out for the sake of the twins. Unfortunately, he didn’t take me up on my offer.”  She sobbed, “He decided that he wanted to be with his twenty-year-old secretary and asked me for a divorce.”

 

As if a lightning bolt had struck me, I remembered the woman. She was the woman

with the perfect “twins” I had met at the farmers market!  She said she was devastated and she didn’t know how she was going to take care of twins all by herself. She continued saying he was the love of her life. And worst part was, he was getting married the next month and her husband and new girlfriend were now starting to fight for custody. She was weeping openly and said she just didn’t know how to go on. 

 

Oh my God. The woman I thought had it all was losing everything. Things are

not always as they seem. I’d thought everyone had it better than I did, but that wasn’t the case. I had a husband, a healthy child—even if he was difficult at times—and family and friends. And now I had an epiphany.

 

I was comparing myself and my life to something I completely imagined.  Another person’s life is never as perfect as your mind makes it out to be.  When we compare, we end up only seeing the good in others and forget the good in ourselves.  And we typically compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions that we make about others. 

 

This was a huge wake-up call for me.  This one impactful moment made me realize how much comparison had become a part of my life.  Why is it we do something that makes us feel bad?

Comparison is dishonoring our beautiful uniqueness and each time I compared, I dimmed my glow.  I always told myself I would never let anyone dim my glow, so why was I allowing myself to do it? 

 

Can you think of a time you’ve done this?  How did it make you feel? 

 

It’s one of those crazy things that when you’re doing it, you think it makes you feel better because it’s allowing you to wallow in self-pity.  These toxic comparisons blind us from seeing our strengths.  Because somewhere between thinking, “I’ll never be a mom like her” and “I’ll never find a man who loves me like he loves her,” we are stuck in self-pity and we forget how strong we are on our own.

 

And then once you lose your strength, it’s impossible to see that there’s another woman out there comparing themselves to you and feeling the same exact way.

 

I love this quote from fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg - “You know there’s a thing about the woman across the room. You see the woman across the room. You think. She’s so poised; she’s so together. But she looks at you and you are the woman across the room for her.”

 

When comparison is used to find fault in yourself, it can be toxic.  I call it, comparisionitis.

 

Seems like everyone is posting how wonderful their lives are, but we know social media never shows the full picture. They give us a snapshot and we fill in the blanks of the rest of their story, and create a life that we are envious of, without knowing the whole truth.

 

So many moms admit they are insecure (but truly aren’t we ALL sister?) and compare themselves to other moms and then end up feeling like failures.  Especially new moms.  I have a mom request.  Let’s strive to admire other moms and recognize how wonderful they are at what they do, without feeling like we are terrible failing moms.  Love your children and do the best you can do and know that’s enough. 

 

The mind loves comparison and social media is its playground. 

 

Checking your newsfeed or updating your status multiple times a day is not a helpful way to focus your energy. When you scroll through the news people are positing, how do you feel afterwards?  While some posts can sometimes be helpful, it’s difficult to not have feelings of envy when you see others having the time of their lives, when we may be suffering. 

 

We see one moment and we fill in the blanks of the rest of their story, and create a life that we are envious of, without knowing the whole truth. Just remember, people don’t post their “real” life, they post their “ideal” life. How can we ever compete with that?

 

Do you post and use social media to make yourself feel better?  Some people aren’t all they post to be and that’s a slippery slope.  If you are doing that now, stop.  It has a way of backfiring.  By posting how amazingly wonderful your life is, the façade could actually make you feel worse because now you’re not living up to your own posts. 

 

I realized the impact this was having on my life and my self-esteem.  After my twin mom epiphany, I realized I needed to make a change. I needed to change my mindset.  I started to only focus on myself and where I wanted to go on my journey. 

 

Become your own standard.  Learn to appreciate yourself for who you are, not for what you possess or your achievements.

 

Emulate, don’t envy.  If there is someone who inspires you, instead of thinking that you’ll never have what they have, create a plan to replicate their success. 

 

While we live in a comparison culture, we are all human and had to start somewhere.  Don’t compare your beginning to someone’s middle or end.  We tend to compare our behind-the-scenes with someone else’s big moment. All we can see is their success, not on the thousands of hours they’ve dedicated preparing and working toward their goal. Instead of letting other people’s accomplishments allow you to be hard on yourself, let it be a catalyst for all you can be in life.

 

I was so hard on myself, but this experience helped to change my mindset.  And that changed helped me immensely as I was building my beverage business.  There are so many beverages out there which makes it so easy to compare and think you can’t ever get to where they are.  I could have chosen to let that stop me so many times, but I chose to focus only on me and where I wanted to go. 

 

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Focus on your accomplishments. 

 

If you think you’re behind, because you see someone further along, just remember, you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.  You’re on your unchartered path and it’s up to you to lay the stones to lead you to your destination.  Just as we are incomparable, our journey is incomparable. 

 

In reflecting back on my experience with my son, I asked “why me” so many times.  Why was I given this baby who cried almost all his waking hours?  When I answer “why not me”, it became clear that God gave him to me because I could handle it.  I didn’t see that then, but I didn’t have confidence in myself or give myself credit that while it was incredibly challenging, I got through it one day at a time and my confidence grew every step of the way. 

 

Be yourself and believe in yourself.  A flower does not compete to the flower next to it – it just blooms!  You are unique, you are special, you are beyond comparison so stop comparing your life and get glowing. Shine and let others shine too.  We only get one shot. Focus on you and enjoy the crazy beautiful journey of your life! 

 

 

 

A few of my favorite tips to combat comparisionitis: 

 

  1. Is there someone you admire? Do you have a role model? Instead of wishing you were like someone them, find inspiration and learn from them. You can use it to identify goals you’d like to achieve. Work on the things you want change and at the same time know your self-worth and understand how unique you are. Remember, compare to learn only, not envy.

  2. What negative reel do you play in your head when you see someone who you think has it better than you?Turn it off and honor yourself. Think about all the things you DO have, the people you love and love you, the blessings that life has given you. 

  3. Take a digital detox! Use a timer alarm to limit the time you spend reading other people’s posts on social media and don’t go on after a certain time in the evening. If there are certain people who seem to make you feel less-than (like seeing pics of your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend), unfollow, stat. Out of sight, out of mind.

 

 

 

Glow Girl Affirmation: I only compare myself to myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

BABY FAT

 

 

Rolls, curves, cellulite - all of it. I love every part of me. I believe that beauty is beyond size.”

- Ashley Graham

 

 

 

I always wondered what the cut-off age is for your baby, when you can’t say your pregnancy-related muffin top is just “baby fat.” 

 

Why did I feel so compelled to justify my new-found jolliness? What did it matter? I had a living miracle that I created in my body. My vessel that craved buckets of egg salad and milkshakes. I mean, I was eating for two. And after all, I was going to be bringing another human into this world. This is an incredible feat. I deserve whatever I want! And that’s exactly what I did. I think my husband was boiling a dozen eggs every morning before leaving for work so that I would have enough egg salad to last me through the day…or at least till noon! I was obsessed.

 

My indulgence kind of backfired. And front-fired (is it possible to side-fire?). I gained sixty pounds, front and back and let’s be real—all over. I was somehow under the impression that once I gave birth that the extra fifty pounds would come out with the baby. Yeah…that didn’t happen. Actually, just the opposite. Somehow even sans the baby, I managed to gain more weight. 

 

Now what? What was this? Baby fat. The baby fat that never went away. 

 

I remember one day being out with my dad and son when he was around ten years old and we were sitting at a table eating ice cream cones (no, they were not egg-salad flavor—gross!) and I got into a conversation about my weight with my dad and shared my frustration. I told him that even if I work out and eat less, it just never seemed to go away. He seemed confused too and said that he noticed I barely ate anything. I said, “I know it’s so frustrating,” with an aggravated tone and I suddenly felt a tap on my arm from my son. I turned towards him and he had a sad look on his face. I thought something happened to his ice cream cone, but instead he said, “Do you wish you never had me?” Ugh. So crushing and heartbreaking. Just stab me in the heart. I didn’t even realize he was listening. Of course, I just about burst into tears and immediately looked directly in his eyes and said, “Absolutely not. The day you were born was the happiest day of my life.  You are a blessing.” And the honest truth is I would trade all the pounds in the world to have him. Thankfully, a huge ice cream covered smile emerged and I breathed a sigh of relief and squeezed him tight. 

 

This was a huge eye-opener for me. Did I gain this weight with my pregnancy? Yes. Would I do it all over again? In a heartbeat! The most important thing was that I was blessed with my brilliant, smart, funny, compassionate son who stole my heart and changed my life. Beyond that, does it really matter? That’s when I began to get comfortable in my own skin. My body created this wonderful little human and I could look at my body now and embrace my muffin top, my C-section scar, and the extra pounds that weren’t there before. I felt proud! 

 

But I’m going to be completely honest with you. This is still a work in progress for me as I’m writing this, but I do know now that it takes a healthier mindset and the desire to want to change.  Not a quick fix. Trust me, I struggled with this for years. Trying to find the quick fix to make my “baby fat” disappear? Mistake.

 

How many of you have tried those fad diets, like “eat the most terrible tasting cabbage soup for 10 days,” or “drink the juice of 100 grapefruits?” Like you’re up late at night after eating a half of pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream (ahem…the whole pint) and suddenly an infomercial pops on the TV and you swear they’re talking to you. They say, you can look like this and we have the quick fix solution for you! You want to dial in right away and get the added low-calorie cookbook for free if you order within the next 20 minutes. Did you dial-in? Did they work?

 

The key to feeling good is to forget the fad diets and strive to live a healthy lifestyle. And it can’t be negative or a deprivation. It must be positive and a mission of self-care, both mind and body. 

 

Now that my son is nineteen, do I still carry some of that “baby fat” nineteen years later? You bet! But I also accept who I am and set goals now to be more fit. I’ve struggled with feeling comfortable in my own skin, but there are ways of handling it so you don’t end up in a downward spiral of negativity and shame. 

 

Imagine if we obsessed about the things we love about ourselves.

 

There isn’t anything more confident and sexier than a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. Big skin, small skin, light skin, dark skin (it almost sounds like a Dr. Seuss book). You get where I’m going with this. It’s all beautiful and the confidence is what makes us shine. It’s not about how we look; it’s about how we feel. Our skin doesn’t define who we are, our inside does.  And seriously, think about it, if we were all skinny how interesting would that be?

 

Perfection is overrated. There is always something to strive for, but it doesn’t need to be perfection. No one is perfect, sister. Stop putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. And getting strong doesn’t just start with working out, it’s about working in too. In your head. 

 

I learned that working from the inside out is key. A healthy outside starts from the inside. When feelings have not been addressed, they start to “pile” on.

 

There are many excuses we give ourselves for not making our health a priority. Like “I don't have time” or “it's too expensive” or “I'm too tired.” But have you ever said to yourself that you are not working out or eating healthy because you’re…scared? 

 

Change is scary, even when we know it’s good for us. 

 

You might wonder, “What would life be like if I were skinnier?”

 

If you’re feeling uncertain or nervous about taking that first step, know that you’re not alone. You need to uncover what is “weighing” you down and I guarantee you’ll discover things within yourself that could change your entire life.

 

One of the challenges that I faced in creating my new healthy lifestyle was completely unexpected. I strongly desired to be in better shape and eat as healthy as possible and I felt I was in the right mindset, so I forged forward. Little did I know, the challenge that showed up wasn’t relating to me maintaining this new lifestyle. As soon as I saw progress being made, I became excited imagining my new “self” and how great I would feel physically. But what I didn’t expect was every time I had a positive thought about my progress, right after the feeling of excitement, I started to feel intense anxiety. Anxiety isn’t something that I deal with on a regular basis so when it happens, I know it’s coming from somewhere so deep I didn’t even know it was there. Through some intense self-discovery, I had the realization that I had been subconsciously holding on to my baby fat (inside) even though I kept saying I wanted to be fit and feel better (outside). I was working from the outside in, rather than working from the inside out.

 

I was wearing an armor to protect myself. This “armor” creates a protective barrier between you and people in the world who can make you feel vulnerable. As I’m writing this now, I am on my healthy lifestyle journey and slowly my pieces of armor have been falling off. It’s a feeling of true vulnerability. It’s still a little scary to imagine how I might feel once all the pieces are gone, but I’m focusing on my progress and not worrying about the unknown. 

 

Through my journey, what really helped was writing a love letter saying good-bye to my “armor.” I know this might sound a little cray-cray, but it works. If there is something you’ve been holding onto but know you are ready to release it, write it a letter to say farewell.

Dear Armor (aka Baby Fat),

 

Thank you for protecting me. You have been there by my side through all my struggles. You’ve insulated me and you’ve comforted me. I’m so grateful for your support and shelter, but I feel strong now. It’s become tiring carrying you around. You’re cumbersome and while I know you’re guarding me from any possible hurt, you are weighing me down. And as you go piece by piece, a little more light will shine. And when you are gone, I will be ready to fly.  

 

Don’t let the idea of change scare you as much as the prospect of remaining unhappy.

 

We cannot change our past or our genes but what we can do is understand it and give ourselves compassion. And once we take away our own shame, the expectations and stereotypes we have been bombarded with diminishes and we can begin to let go of all the internal beliefs we told ourselves over the years and release any protective barriers we may be carrying. 

 

Wouldn’t this be feel liberating and wonderful? 

 

I’ve learned that while we need to be proud of who we are, it’s also important to feel healthy.  They are two different things. Do I want to be fit and in shape now because that’s the way I think women should look? Absolutely not.

 

I love to dance so instead of trying to follow a work-out routine (that I ultimately can never seem to follow), I just put on my favorite music and dance for thirty minutes. And I dance like no one is watching! Doing something you love makes all the difference. Like I said, it’s all in the mindset. I don’t care about weighing myself, but I do care how I feel and I strive to be healthy. If I feel energetic and spunky with lots of energy, that means more to me than any number on a scale. 

 

When you start taking care of yourself, you start feeling better and doing better. 

 

Now I do things that are fun, make me happy, and embrace my “baby fat.”. It’s like a big tattoo that proudly says, “Mom!” 

 

I was one of those women who knew I wanted to have a baby. I got married shortly after I turned thirty, so I wanted to start trying right away. Within months, we found out we were pregnant. I still remember that feeling once we found out that a human life was growing inside me. It gave me this huge sense of responsibility that I never felt before. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I thought, I’m responsible right now for this baby growing inside me and I have to make every decision wisely. We let friends and family know and since I’m the only child my parents were elated to hear they were going to have a grandchild.

 

Then one day I began to bleed.  With my heart pounding out of my chest I went to see my doctor to find out I miscarried. WTF?  How could this be? I thought. I was completely devastated—lifeless. I laid in bed for days and days and was in the most unreal depression. I didn’t even know what was going on. 

 

Why did we buy a crib that I had to walk by every time I managed to get myself up out of bed to get a glass of water? Why did I have Baby Gap clothes folded neatly on my dresser? Why was everyone calling me when I didn’t want to talk? What did I do wrong? 

 

I didn’t know anything about miscarriages and how common they were, especially in first pregnancies. I felt so alone and damaged. I seriously didn’t know how I could go on. I think about women who struggle with infertility as my mind automatically went down that path after I miscarried and it’s heartbreaking.

 

I finally got the strength to move on one small step at a time. I wrote a farewell letter to my “baby”. Learning more about miscarriages and connecting with other moms who had gone through similar experiences and still had multiple children gave me hope. Connecting and sharing. Supporting and bonding. Eventually my, “why me” turned into “why not me?” I told you that this saying is one of my faves! 

 

Shortly after, I became pregnant again and I was blessed with my son. The process of becoming a mom for me, while challenging at first, ultimately led to a stronger sense of self. Being a mom forced me to confront many issues and obstacles and be strong for him, which has also meant finding ways to be strong for myself. 

 

We need to love ourselves and embrace our physical uniqueness (aka flaws). Are you wondering, Love myself? What? I don’t even like myself most days! I hear you girl! I’m right there with you and struggle with this too.

 

Accept imperfection. Embrace it. The most beautiful, confident women are those who own their unique look and refuse to apologize. Being comfortable in your own skin is about knowing who you are and being okay with it. A true sense of self and acceptance of who you are and knowing you are perfectly imperfect is the most freeing feeling in the world.

 

Do you remember when you were little and hated something physical about yourself, like your hair or your height? Like me, I hated my fire engine red hair and freckles. But as I got older, I realized this is what makes me, me.  This is my uniqueness and I should be proud of it. Embrace those so-called flaws that make you who you are with grace. Everyone has something they don’t like about themselves, but that “flaw” is often what makes you interesting, unique, and beautiful.

 

I can’t tell you how many times since I gained my “baby fat” that I’ve said things like, “I’m so fat,” “I hope they don’t take my picture,” “If I was only skinnier…” What happens when we say things like this to ourselves? We drown in negative body image. And it can be anything that triggers this. Walking by a mirror or pants that just came out of the dyer (sisters, I know many of you can relate to this!). Think of all the time we spend doing this to ourselves when we could be giving ourselves loving, positive affirmations.

 

Accept your body in this moment. Feeling comfortable in our own skin has its rewards. Imagine how different your life can be in this very moment if you stop trying to berate, change, or control your body and instead allow yourself to accept your body for what it is. You won’t let any sideways glances or comments affect you. You will be objective and not take things personal. What a freeing feeling! If you love yourself inside and outside, you will open the door to many wonderful experiences you might have otherwise missed.

 

When we accept, we let go of the struggle. We let go of perfection. When the ideal is being “perfect,” it creates a barrage of self-doubt, anxiousness, and low self-esteem—everything that keeps us from living life with confidence, courage, and fierceness. It’s not about trying to be perfect. It is about accepting the fact that you aren’t perfect, and neither is anyone else.

 

Get rid of the belief that the only way to look is like a model. We are all models. All beautiful, lovely, unique shaped models. We need to get rid of all the self-defeating thoughts so we can rise up to be the beautiful person God made. If we don’t, we are doing ourselves an injustice. 

 

I love this quote from Jenna Blush Hager, “Who I am is more important than how I look. If I radiate love, kindness, and empathy, I can bring some light into this dark world—and isn’t that better than being a size zero?” 

 

It’s been a journey for me and I’m so grateful that I learned to build confidence inside and eventually outside. When I think back to all the mean, hurtful things I said to myself it breaks my heart. Why would I allow this? Why did I feel this was the only option? Year after year saying negative things to myself and feeling less than. Making the decision to love myself has changed my life. 

 

I am consciously making healthier decisions and doing something active every day. I created a healthy way of living because I matter. Because I love myself enough to care. And this all started with accepting myself for who I am along with all my “flaws” and releasing my armor. My mindset has shifted. This isn’t about dieting to look a certain way. This isn’t about depriving myself to be skinny. This isn’t about dreading to exercise. This is a whole new way of thinking and being. I’m so excited about my new lifestyle. If you stop body shaming and create a new mindset, things will change for you too. 

 

I am a huge believer of positive affirmations. I tell myself every day, I enjoy feeling fit. This motivates me to do something active and inspires me to continue to maintain my healthy lifestyle. Imagine if I said something like, I look like a fat cow (yes, I’ve gone there!), I guess I better work out. Does that sound very motivating? No, it sounds like I should hide in bed with a box of Double Stuf Oreos. It’s all about being in a positive mindset. 

 

Do I eat kale chips and granola every day? No, I eat what I want keeping in mind that I want to be healthy. I drink a ton of water (which is so important) and eat lots of fruits and veggies, but I also eat pasta, bread, and chocolate because I love them. I mean, come on, who can possibly live without chocolate? It’s all in moderation and not about deprivation. 

 

I used to make homemade ice cream with my dad when I was little and it’s my all-time favorite.  It’s not only nostalgic, but it tastes so delicious (damn you, ice cream!) Could I eat it every day?  Absolutely. But I know that’s not going to fit in with my healthy lifestyle. Do I still eat it occasionally? Sure do! But that’s okay. I make the decisions and I know what works best for me and deprivation is not part of my lifestyle. If it’s a friend’s birthday and we are all having ice cream and cake, I’m in. It’s time to celebrate! At the same time, I also have the mindset now when I look at a yummy brownie ice cream sundae, I can either choose to eat it or I can choose to be healthy and not shame myself any more. Hmm…when I put it like that, I choose the latter. I do quite a bit of self-talk, which is not unusual for me! 

 

Don’t deprive yourself of certain things, because then you will become fixated on them. Have what you want in moderation and get active doing something you love. 

 

When I work out (dance), I pump myself up ahead of time, reminding myself how great I’m going to feel afterwards. I love music and it’s a huge motivator for me. I created a playlist with all my favorite uplifting and empowering songs. Once I hit “play,” there’s seriously no turning back. Now instead of dreading it, I look forward to it; I welcome it. 

 

These are all things I choose for myself now. Because I love me. Even with all the “flaws.” 

 

Learn to embrace things about your body in a different light. With grace. I hated being in a bathing suit because of my legs. They don’t have any shape to them. I even had a nickname for them—TT’s. That works with Thunder Thighs or Tree Trunks; pick your poison. Every time I looked at them, I’d say, “I hate my legs.” Now I’ve learned to appreciate them because they may not be shapely or perfect, but they are perfectly imperfect. They are strong and they’ve carried me through many challenges in life, they’ve happily danced, they’ve picked me up when I’ve fallen and I’m grateful for them. I’ve made it to where I am today because of these legs.  

 

I’m curvy and I own that now. My body is one big beautiful roadmap of all my struggles and accomplishments, and it tells a story. And as I get stronger and fitter in my mind and body, I stand taller with more confidence. I feel better about myself and appreciate all that my body has achieved. I’m grateful that even though I didn’t love my body, it still loved me back. 

 

You need to get rid of the idea that you can never be thin enough, attractive enough, or whatever negative thoughts you are telling yourself. 

 

I love this: The beautiful light behind her smile makes her eyes glow with a love for life I’ve never experienced before. What true beauty is.      

 

You are beautiful as you are. Your curves, words, thoughts, strengths, flaws. You are magic, so own your glow! Let go of the struggle. Stop the negative body shaming, be gentle and kind to yourself, and accept your body in all of its glory! Every scar, wrinkle, birthmark, piece of cellulite, beauty mark, and freckle is a beautiful tapestry interwoven over time to tell a powerful, magical, and miraculous story of how you survived and thrived…and glowed in the face of it all.

 

 

A few of my favorite tips to reclaim yourself:

 

1. When you start to hear those negative thoughts about how you look, stop the self-hate and go to self-love. Remember these are your thoughts, not fact. It’s up to you to act. Instead of focusing on how your body looks on the outside, think about all the positive attributes your body has from the inside. What are they? Make a list and be grateful for them. Keep this list handy so you can reflect when needed.

 

2. When body image or motherhood issues arise, the last thing you probably want to do is be around others. I have found that surrounding myself with positive people in my life helps because it gets me out of my head. Feeling connected with others can squash some of the perfectionism and criticism tied to body dissatisfaction and self-worth.

 

3.  In moments when body image issues come up, I am usually feeling critical in some way about myself. If I dig deep, most of the time I realize it is not about my body. My body is just the go-to negative coping mechanism I utilize in the moment. What I need most when I am feeling and focusing negatively about my body or myself is to treat myself with kindness. Beating myself up will not help me but doing something nice for myself that pertains to self-care will. If you must focus on a body part, do it with compassion and get massage, facial, manicure…or all of the above.

 

 

 

Glow Girl Affirmation:  My imperfections make me unique.

 

 

 

 

 

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