self-love

The Beauty in the Bar

There I was, standing at the corner of the bar completely alone. The lights flashed on and off as the rotating colored bulbs turned my coral shirt into blue, purple, green and red every few seconds. The DJ, with his “man-bun” held high, bobbed his head to the latest mixes of pop music and electronic dubstep.

Drunk girls were falling around me, shaking their booties as they “got low”, and people were hanging all over each other as they met for the first time a few minutes before. The cocktail waitresses dressed in little crop tops and shorts that looked more like underwear as they walked around selling bottles and dancing on tables to their favorite songs. Perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect makeup, and perfect empty smiles.

I felt so out of place.

My younger sister has the unique ability to flock people to her. Men stand in line waiting to talk to her, offer to buy her drinks, dinner, and a list of many other things. While we were standing at the bar, there was no room to turn around let alone dance as the men huddled around her. As she left to go to the bathroom, the scent of burberry and Axe trailed after her.

So, there I was, alone in my maxi skirt and hippie tank, with my travel bracelets and hair wrap radiating out free spirit, stories, and depth. A depth that no drunk guy at a bar cares about. A beauty that is overlooked and invisible as I stood at the end of the crowded bar with no one within four feet of me in any direction. A feat almost impossible to achieve.

Throughout my life, I have been compared to my sister’s looks. Boyfriends have told me how hot she is, friends and classmates have wanted me to fix them up with her, and even strangers have come up to me asking how we look so different and how big and beautiful her eyes are. When I was younger, it devastated me. I was so self-conscious, I never wanted any guy I was interested in to see her, I worked harder at my grades and what I offered the world, so I too, would be noticed. When I was younger, I didn’t acknowledge both the inner and outer unique beauty that I offered the world and I beat myself down over and over again.

But that night was different. She received the cat calls, the whistles, and the free drinks. And that I watched how she owned it and her confidence was contagious.

Why did I ever let those gestures and those societal standards of beauty affect how beautiful I thought I was?

For a minute I began to question my beauty. I went into my mind and fed the stories from when I was little. But this time, I didn’t allow myself to stay there.

I looked and saw that this attention isn’t what I want. Of course the compliments feel good. But, I love myself and my body and knowing that I feel beautiful within myself, is enough. I won’t allow the compliments and surface level flirtation, or lack of, affect how I feel in my own unique, radiating beauty.

So, as I stood alone at the end of the bar, Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars came on and I danced. I danced alone in the 16 square foot space I managed to be given to express my happiness, my beauty, and my uniqueness. I twirled my maxi skirt, I smiled, and laughed in my aloneness because I felt beautiful and so different from every person in that room. I celebrated my growth from when I was younger to where I am now. And I stood there, closed my eyes, and felt that power rise within me.

After an extended bathroom break my sister walked up from behind me. She flashes a gorgeous full teeth smile as she strutted her stuff towards the bar. I looked at her and saw how beautiful she is. Her perfectly toned legs, her perfectly toned abs, and her great hair flowing down her back. She danced and moves in her own unique way and I looked at her in awe. She is so beautiful.

But so am I.

And this is what I learned standing alone at that bar

 

We each have our beauty that we offer the world. And that beauty is so deep and profound that no catcall or surface level compliment can even begin to touch on our magnificence. And while, in the past, I have gone into the envy and jealousy and began to tear my sister or another person down in my head to make myself feel better, I realized how hurtful that truly is. What does it do? It takes away from another person’s unique beauty. Just because someone else is recognized for their beauty and gifts, doesn’t give anyone the right to tear them down or make them feel small.

So, when someone else shows their beauty, celebrate it, acknowledge it, and compliment it. Not just the physical beauty, but the beauty of the soul. The only beauty that really matters. By celebrating their beauty, our own depth and profound magnificence isn’t just shown, it is magnified.

 

Dreads 2

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Success…What is it Anyway?

What is failure anyway? Not succeeding at something we try? What is success? Financial independence, career stability, a house, a family, and maybe if we are lucky, doing what we love?

For years now, I have defined success with financial freedom. I have compared myself to friends with high paying jobs who have chosen the conventional life. The dangerous part about comparing with others who have a completely different life, different dreams, and different goals, is we never allow ourselves to see OUR success.

I grew up in a society that puts value on money as a measurement of success. I am familiar with the contradiction that money isn’t everything. However, those have been empty words as society’s actions speak louder. We are shown through propaganda and media how to make money fast, how to be financially successful, how to avoid debt, and ultimately, told this all will bring happiness. We all know this isn’t true, yet we fall into the trap just the same. But, where is the passion, the love, the fulfillment? Where is that kind of success? How can we change those empty words of “money isn’t everything” into a practice of caring, sharing, and giving?

*  *  *  *  *

I was in my kitchen cutting up sweet potatoes as I was dancing and singing to India Arie in my apartment alone. The sun was setting and I had decided to force myself to take a break from work to enjoy myself. The problem was I didn’t want to stop working because of how much I love what I am doing. I get to sit in my bed with the sliding glass door open and the sun shining through. I get to hear the ocean waves and the life below my apartment. I get to write, organize, and plan my workshops and speeches. I love it so much that most nights I can’t sleep because of the excitement. But still, I wake up with such adrenaline that I am ready to take on the world. So, really, stopping to eat is the only thing I may enjoy more than working:)

As I was reflecting on my life and where I am, I started thinking about a vision I wrote last year. I wrote I would live in a two bedroom apartment with my partner, I could walk to a market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, I would around the corner to a coffeeshop (where I am writing now), I would be inspiring, motivating, and working with women, I would be speaking and writing, I would be able to see mountains from where I live, and I would be within driving distance of a body of water. Guess, what… that is 100% true. Every single part of it. The only part missing is the salary. Sadly, I made maybe 1/10th of what I wrote. (Lucky for me, I chose a country with a great exchange rate to the dollar.)

However, I have been so focused on monetary success that I had blinded myself from seeing my REAL success. The incredible thing is I have been denying myself any sort of happiness or celebration over the past few years because of my focus on what I didn’t have. I have beaten myself up over how little I have in my bank account, how I have used all my savings in order to follow a dream, and how I haven’t even begun started paying my student loans off as my friends are buying houses and getting married. But, for the first time in years, I can see how successful I am.

After having this revelation, I have decided to let go of my previous definition of success to adopt my new one. Success is loving what I am doing, being able to cook my meals and watch the sunset, making time for myself every single day to do something for me, and making time for the people I love. Success is making goals and accomplishing them and inspiring others to do the same. It is intending to do something and making sure it happens…and also knowing when to let go. Success is being within integrity of myself and my life. Success, to me, is the life that I am living. And, finally, I am ready to let myself be free and to revel in my new found definition.

Me in the sunset

Sitting on the beach in Huanchaco feeling grateful.

 

The Possibilities and Sleepless Nights

You know those sleepless nights you like awake as your mind races through what could be? The endless possibilities your life has in store and the dreams that are waiting to come true?
You lie there as excitement, nervousness,  fear, and doubt do the tango through your thoughts and your mind jumps from one scenario to the next. How? What if? What could be?
Everything is stronger at night, whether it be hope, possibility, doubt, or fear. Your eyes are tired, but your heart is full as you think of the excitement life has brought you. And you have more excitement for what is in store.

I always dreamed of the innovators, geniuses, and world changers over the centuries receiving their brilliant thoughts and projects during their sleepless nights contemplating possibility. Their hair a mess with bedhead, in pajamas, putting their pen to paper, at their most raw and vulnerable point of the day. I guess there is a romance in the silence of night as others dream and knowing you are awake making your dream come true. I always prayed that my life be used in a similar way, however intricate or grand it is supposed to be.
I want to sleep. The waves are soothing as I hear them crash outside of my window. My bed is comfortable, but as the sheets are tangled and my mattress is exposed, it look more like a warzone rather than a peaceful spot to rest. But tonight, thinking of the potential I have and the projects I am working on keeps me laying here with my eyes open. I ask for divine guidance and inspiration to write and work. And, of course, they come in the middle of the night. The clichés and stories have always warned me of that, but I always thought they were exactly that, clichés and stories. Add that to the list of things I always thought, “would never happen to me,” but have and continue to. I decide to surrender to the adrenaline and flow of excitement as the ideas flow through me as effortlessly as water pouring from a faucet. I live for these moments. When these moments happen, I try to be open, willing, and grateful. Because these ideas are more important than the hours of sleep I miss out on. I believe the power of these hours spark revolutions, movements, and world changing transformations.
So, here is to the brave souls, the movers and shakers, the inspiring and hard working entrepreneurs and their sleepless nights. Let the possibility of greatness always keep you going. May your passion and enthusiasm lead your success. And throughout it all, may you fall deeply in love with yourself and believe in the power of your dreams and possibilities. Because there is only one of you, the uniqueness of your dream, and only your once-in-a-lifetime-way of offering it to the world.

 

I sit in the soft sand with the sun beating down on my back. I feel each ray radiate into my skin as I feel it becoming red. The sky is almost cloudless and allows the true blue of the ocean shine to all those who look to her. The waves are powerful, forming perfect tubes as they crash into one another and then onto shore.  My body longs to be among them, to be twisted, turned, and crashed upon. My mind longs to feel the silence beneath the roaring surface.

As I watch the ocean, I realize life is just like the waves, but not in the normal cliché of ups and downs. The ocean is powerful, the ocean is in control, and no matter how hard we try to tame it, to own it, to conquer it, we are shown time and time again we have no control. Just like life. We go through life making plans, goals, dates, and we schedule each moment as if they were ours to own. As if these moments are ours to dictate and as if we decide the outcome of each instance.

As I watch the waves, I see them piling on top of one another as the white foam intermingles with the trash and debris. This debris being reminisces for metaphors of broken dreams, broken plans, and lost hopes.

A month ago, I was so certain of my plans, goals, hopes, and desires and my sight was set on a vision created in my mind. I placed blinders on either side of my eyes to keep myself from getting distracted. My heart was set and my mind was made. And then I met the ocean.

I feel myself among the waves. I am thrown into a current whipping my body back and forth, my hair was being knotted, tangled, pulled, and twisted. My arms are waving in all directions and my head and feet are over top of one another. And here I am in the chaos, in the frantic struggle to find my way to the surface as I am forced into the silence I longed for; without control, without knowing, and in complete surrender of this massive power.

I am still there beneath the waves. My body limp as I have given up the struggle to reach the surface. I am being tossed in every which way, but as I surrender, the ocean brings me up to breathe. As I am brought to the surface,  I replenish myself and my faith. I replenish my faith in the waves, the current, the struggle, and the ocean. And just as I think I am lost in this chaos forever I feel my feet touch the sand and the sand feels soft between my toes. I plant my legs strong beneath me as I stand to see the shore.

I look around me and there is my debris floating in the water; my broken dreams, goals, and old hopes. As I look up to the sky, my eyes begin to focus and I soon realize that this debris around me is of my former self. The controlling me who never gave up and surrendered over to my higher power . My mind is filled with new goals, new dreams, and new hopes. However, they are much lighter, more pure, and less selfish. Through the chaos, I was given my calm. Through this brokenness, I found my purity.

And in this moment, She Began.182