How to Live Your Truth (Explained with Tacos)

Live Your Truth.

What the heck does that mean?

It’s such a complicated little sentence because truth (if we are speaking away from any religious principles) ebbs and flows for a person.

When I was eight years old, I wanted to survive on cold bologna sandwiches and hamburger helper until the day I died.

As a high schooler, I was convinced that by the time I reached my twenties, I would be living the high life in New York City on the brink of my first Broadway production.

As a young college student, I had intense disdain for all things that could even remotely be considered lazy, took 18 units a semester, had a part time job, a boyfriend, and an incessant need to do more with my life.

Fresh out of college I had physical and emotional trouble, and ached for socializing as much as possible.

Today I like to run 10Ks, and take naps so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

 

So when someone tells me to “live my truth” or asks “What do you want?”  I sort of cock my head to the side, shrug, and say “I don’t know. Tacos?”

My truth has become tacos.

 

There has to be a bigger question here.

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In all serious, the fact of the matter is that I (like SO many other people out there) adjust their wants and needs based on the expectations of others.

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Maybe it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

A: What would you like to do?

B: I don’t know. Whatever you want makes me happy.

A: That’s not what I asked.

B: But that’s my answer.

A: Okay, I want to go watch a movie and eat pizza.

B: Great. I’ll do that with you. That will make me happy. (But I will silently be thinking about how badly I wanted to go to mini-golf and  have tacos. I will be distracted all night about it, and then I will start to get passive aggressive, blaming the other person for not knowing my needs that I never asked for in the first place.)  

 

This example is of course on a small scale, but once it becomes a habit, it ends up being applied to the big things in life as well.

Your religion.

Your sexuality.

Your marriage.

Your passions.

Your morality.

 

THAT stuff is your truth. That is the stardust inside of you that can’t be changed or altered, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. At some point or another, if you ignore it long enough, it’s going to explode out of your face and get all over everyone. You will want to blame everyone who has ever influenced you for the outcome of your life, but the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has real control of your life!

So…

lets live our truth! Ask yourself what it is inside of you that you NEED to listen to.

Dig. Ask questions. Try different things.

Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

Share the things you discover about yourself. Those who love you will stick around and support these things. Those who don’t will fall away. But it won’t matter because you’re being honest about who you are.

 

Then put that sh*t into practice. Stop denying yourself and start speaking up.

 

It may seem trivial, but it actually does help to start by saying:

“I do not want pizza. I want tacos.”

 

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It becomes a habit.

And then you learn how to ask for what you want.

And then you learn how to ask for what you need.

And then you learn how to know what you need, and declare that you’re going to go get it.

 

 

And then suddenly, we’re all eating tacos, and EVERYONE is happy.

 

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Self-Deprecation: A Big Waste of Everyone’s Time

Something has been on my mind lately.

I know a lot of people that spend a significant amount of time self-deprecating.

“I’m just not that smart.”

“I wish my hair looked like yours.”

“That’s what I get for being short and fat.”

“I’ll never look good no matter how much I diet.”

“I mean, I’m obviously the least intelligent person in this room.”

“Could I be any more useless?”

“What good will it do if I try to communicate my feelings?”

“I’m not worth anyone’s time.”

(S/he says as s/he tries to backtrack the severity of this blanket, self-hate statement with a nervous laugh.)

My Response?

Shut. The hell. Up.

 

I refuse to any longer be the type of friend or family member that pats you on the head and tells you how pretty and perfect you are, despite how horribly you speak about yourself.

Do you know why?

Because I love you.

Because I believe we are so much better than just fishing for compliments.

I believe that there are FAR MORE INTERESTING things to talk about rather than our inability to lose ten pounds.

I believe that we are lovely, capable human beings who (just like every other human on this planet) may go through some awful times, but are courageous enough to put on their big girl pants and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I believe that we spend so much time worrying and whining about what we aren’t,  that we don’t even get to scratch the surface of everything that we could be.

 

I am SO TIRED of this conversation. I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m tired of it being in my own head.  And you know what? Here’s the thing…

THE VOICES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

There’s no magical little “off” switch that will suddenly make us feel perfectly confident and content. There will always be a time when we will feel like we aren’t enough. We will fall short. We will be forced to look at ourselves. We will fail.

So, we can choose to dwell on our failings, shamefully staring at our shortcomings OR we can use our failure as fuel.

Let your failure be your motivator.

So, maybe you’re saying “Jessica, the voices are so loud. I always hear them, causing so much anxiety and depression for me. They stunt me and make me feel terrible about myself. They make me want to quit my job and hide in a corner forever.”

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been there more often than I would like to admit. But I made the decision that I don’t want to be crying in a corner forever. I want to be useful to my community. I want to know what it’s like to feel like Superwoman. I want to know how to reach my full potential. I chose TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

For me, it’s running, writing, eating well, going to bed early, loving people as hard as I can, and laughing at myself.

Example: I used to hate the fact that I’m tall. Sometimes it is still a source of insecurity, but when it starts to bother me, I make a joke and say “Watch out, here comes the big gorilla” in a stupid voice  we all laugh about it.

The voices can’t control me if I am always aware that I control them.  

But that’s me. That’s my therapy.

For another person, it might be a different story. Maybe it’s taking up an interest like cooking, spending more time with kids, meditating, doing something useful in the community…(I’m a big believer in doing something charitable if you want to stop feeling like a Big Sad Screw-Up. It’s kind of impossible to feel like one when you’re focusing on giving.)

 

But, please. For everyone’s sake.

Find a way to get over it.

Find a way to start embracing the failure, and staring it dead in the face. If it’s something that’s really causing big problems to your health or your relationships, make a change.

Try something new and open your mind to different possibilities.

Ask yourself what you could be if you let go of the bull crap that clouds your head, and go become it.

It’s that simple.

You are in charge of the life that you live.

Whine a little if you have to, but find a way to get over it.

You deserve it.

How to Find Love: Step 1. Leave Toxic Relationships

Our hearts know when we are in a relationship that is unhealthy. But sometimes, we absolutely hate to admit it. We would rather drag out being uncomfortable with a person (and with ourselves) by sweeping things under the rug, or just pretending that the breakdown in communication doesn’t exist.

Maybe you have a ton of memories with this person. Maybe you’re connected financially. Maybe there is pressure from your family to stay attached to this person.

Maybe you’re just terrified of what it means if you cut ties.

 

All of this is normal. All of us have been through this experience of “trying to make things work” with that parent, that boyfriend, that spouse, that best friend, that boss, that sibling that is just KILLING us to be around for one reason or another. We make up excuses for that person, try to be understanding of their unacceptable behavior, and put ourselves second to a person that does nothing but cause us grief and suffering.

We put up blinders to their bad behavior and force ourselves to see the good in that person, even if that costs us our own sanity.

 

Why?

There truly is no point in staying intertwined with a person who only makes you hurt and angry. If you have done (and this is important) everything in your power to communicate your feelings with this person, and the message is not being received, then you just have to grow a pair and say good-bye.

Now let me touch on something for a moment—

Communicate How You Feel  

This is massively overlooked (particularly for those “Sweep-things-under-the-rug-to-avoid-conflict” types) when dealing with a toxic relationship. Sometimes the toxicity is growing in stench and thickness because the hurt individual isn’t communicating with their person to try and fix the problem. Sure, they’ll vent about that person to all of their friends and family, but they don’t go directly to the source, which only makes matters worse, and is terribly unfair to all parties involved. That being said, do not read the rest of this post until you have tried to communicate first, because it will do nothing for you. SAY SOMETHING.

Being quiet is the absolute worst thing you can do for yourself and your person if you are hurt. 

 

Now that that’s out of the way…

If you have tried to communicate and your message is not being received, you are not doing anyone any favors by staying connected to someone who is tearing you apart. (Unless there are children involved, then it gets complicated. But I am definitely no expert on this matter. I’l leave my opinions on this for another time in the future).

 

Now, stop being a martyr. GET OUT of the relationship.

Are you putting goals on hold because of this person’s opinions of you?

Are you compromising your health because of the senseless emotional stress this person is causing?

Are they dulling you? Making you worry about who you are? Making you question yourself and who you want to be?

Are they controlling you? Manipulating you? Lying to you?

Then, leave.

 

The best thing I ever could have done was get out of the relationships that were shrinking me. I had people in my life that made me feel small, that made me second-guess everything I believed in. I would be passionate and excited about a project, and get shrugged at or told it was a waste of time. I would feel sad about something, and was snubbed at for being to sensitive. I would ask for the person’s time, and they wouldn’t make room for me. I would compromise my own thoughts, feelings, and personality all to make this individual what I thought was “happy” when really it was just a big huge lie. It took a long time for me to figure it out, but the fact of the matter is,

When you lie to yourself, you can’t love yourself. And when you don’t love yourself, you sure as hell can’t love anyone else. 

 

I was making myself believe that I needed these individuals in my life. I believed that my worth would decrease if I was without them. I felt guilty for even questioning my happiness in the first place.

But in the months that I started to make room in my life to love myself, the toxic relationships started falling away like dominoes.

Not only that, but after some time, I learned (and am still learning) how to deal with the relationships that do take extra emotional energy. I can love these individuals, but not let them so far into my heart that it tears me apart. It takes patience and perseverance, but it is possible.

Part of loving yourself, is protecting your heart. And there is absolutely NO SHAME in needing to protect your heart. Anyone who truly loves you for who you are will understand and respect that fact. But you have to set the boundaries from the beginning. At some point, you stop and other people start. It is entirely up to you who you let over the wall of your heart. DO NOT GIVE THEM THE GATE KEY IF THEY DONT RESPECT THE WALL IN THE FIRST PLACE.

 

I made room in my life to love myself, and let me tell you, I have fallen into the greatest love of my life that I had no idea was fathomable outside of books and movies. Not only does this person love me for who I am, but he makes me feel more like myself than I ever thought was possible. And I never would have found him, if I didn’t learn how to eliminate the things in my life that were dulling who I am.

 

Everyone deserves to feel this kind of all-encompassing love. What an amazing world we would live in if everyone learned how to love themselves first.

 

 

 

 

Training Your Fat/Old/Ugly/Pimply/ Tall / Short/ Scrawny/ BODY-HATING Dragon

Much like practically every other woman in America, I have struggled with my body image for as long as I had body awareness. As I kid, I was on the chubby side and realized pretty early on that I was bigger than my peers. I was always very tall (a full head and shoulders taller than average) and was just thick. I had a belly and was uncomfortable in jeans because my baby muffin top would press into the button fly. I avoided physical activity because I believed it wasn’t meant for me. I would rather write and sing with my sister.

The funny thing is, once I hit my growth spurt around age 12, I turned into a bean pole with curves. I had no awkward adolescence. I went straight from chubby girl with dirty fingernails to woman-sized with braces. Now I was the only 5’9 7th grader in school, and though I realized I was no longer overweight, I did everything I could to try and take up less space. I hated that everyone could see me in a crowd. I was embarrassed and felt huge. In photos from middle school and high school, I am completely hunched over with the look I like to call the “vulture neck” to try and appear shorter. This stayed with me until… about last year. It took fifteen years. FIFTEEN YEARS OF VULTURE NECK!

I’m still 5’9, thick legs for days, and have a broad back. I’m not dainty. And I’m not small. What baffles my mind lately is how long I obsessed over how much I hated myself for taking up space. I gave myself back and vocal problems from how much I hunched myself over. I dieted constantly, deciding that if I had to be tall, maybe I could at least be stick-thin. I worked out obsessively. And though at one point I made it all the way down to 138 pounds, I was always exhausted, miserable, and anxious.

It hasn’t been until the last year or so before i realized that regardless of how small or strong I got, I still felt uncomfortable in my body, and thus uncomfortable with myself. My body is really all I have, and I spent my entire life hating it for what it is. Who cares how good I looked in a pair of jeans if I still envied other girls who were pretty, funny, strong, or successful? I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t stop hating my body and being jealous of other peoples’ bodies, faces, hair, skin…

This is my Sad Dragon. It’s loudest voice is the one that roars that I need to be thinner. I need to be smaller. I need to take up less space.

The change finally occurred when I started accepting that my body is awesome. It’s strong. It’s tall. It can make kids laugh. It can run 6 miles at a time. It can belt super high notes at karaoke. And it couldn’t do any of those things if IT DIDNT TAKE UP SPACE.

Through theatrical projects, conversations, meditation, journaling, and looking at THOUSANDS of photos of REAL women all over the internet, my thinking finally started to change. I stopped punishing myself with diet food and exercise, and instead I learned about how my individual body works– discovered which foods make it feel its best and which work out routines make me feel stronger and more available for the things that give me joy. If I’m tired, I nap and eat tons of brown rice and veggies. If I’m feeling strong and badass, I go for a long run with my favorite music. I set goals and try to meet them. But I never beat myself up if they don’t happen because the whole thing is a process. Some days are better than others. And that’s okay.

I know that this is a huge problem for a ton of women. Often times I think that the Sad Dragon is pissed off about something we may not even realize, and the easiest pathway to roar at us is the one that attacks our body. Maybe we are hurting about a past relationship, so instead of dealing with that problem, we listen to the voice that says we are overweight and useless. Maybe we are struggling with finding a job, so we come to the conclusion that if we were just prettier that maybe we would be more likable in an interview (or audition, in my case). Maybe we can’t accept the fact that we are getting older, so we curse and try to cover our wrinkles and gray hairs.

Whatever the case may be, BEFORE you decide on a diet and exercise routine, make sure you are loving your body for where it is. Right now. It is beautiful and capable. It’s the packaging for your heart, soul, and mind. Love the SHIT out of it for what it is, no matter how it looks. The diet and exercising is secondary to this necessary part of your life’s puzzle.

To sum up, if you can’t love yourself when you eat a pizza, you can’t really love yourself when you run a 10K either.

So go run a 10 K.

And go eat a pizza.

And be proud of both.

#SorryNotSorry

Lets talk about apologies!!!

Common apologies from friends:

  1. I’m sorry I can’t go out. I have a family to take care of and require me to act responsible.
  2. I’m sorry I can’t eat carbs or sugar or alcohol right now. I’m working on not feeling so sick lately.
  3. I’m sorry I slept in later than usual. I’ve been so tired and stressed out lately.
  4. I’m sorry the dish I brought to this party is not all organic. I was pressed for time.
  5. I’m sorry I’m not up to date on all of your favorite tv shows. I have other things in my life keeping me occupied. Like my job. And my family. And like, my passions.

Common apologies from colleagues:

  1. I’m sorry I don’t understand the task, and would like further clarification.
  2. I’m sorry I’m sniffling and taking so much cold medicine. I woke up very ill and figured i should still come to work.
  3. I’m sorry, but I feel I may be a victim of sexual harassment in the work place.
  4. I’m sorry I didn’t bring you Starbucks. I did not realize it was my responsibility.
  5. I’m sorry I’m late. There was an accident that could not have been predicted.
  6. I’m sorry I am not passionate about this job and I am looking for work elsewhere.
  7. I’m sorry I need time off to spend some time with my family.
  8. I’m sorry I have been so sleepy at work lately. I am very stressed in my home life.

Common Apologies I have heard myself say:

  1. I’m sorry I am tight on funds and cannot spend extra money. I am in between jobs.
  2. I’m sorry I would like to take this time to express how I am really feeling because I feel like it matters to this relationship.
  3. I’m sorry I have been exercising a lot. It makes me feel better about myself and helps me be more productive.
  4. I’m sorry I can’t eat cake and ice cream. I’m working on being my healthiest self.
  5. I’m sorry I have a specific kind of personality. I am a diverse woman with a lot of passions.
  6. I’m sorry I no longer believe the same things that you believe. My experience has led me to feel otherwise.

Now… Go back up to these lists. Take a look at the statements, and remove the “I’m Sorry” from every single one of them.

Now they have just become factual statements, explaining needs, boundaries, passions, emotions, and things we should NEVER have to apologize for.

Why do we feel like we have to live in a head space of constant apology when it’s unnecessary?  Who are we disappointing by having needs? What are we afraid of? Are we just avoiding the responsibility we have to our own hearts?

If we go around our lives saying “I’m sorry I believe in this moral code,” or “I’m sorry my body is shaped this way,” or “I’m sorry I have this passion,” then we are NEVER allowing ourselves to carry out our fullest potential. We are stopping ourselves from our divine truth for the sake of other peoples’ ideas of who we should be, or just merely out of fear. STOP IT! LIVE YOUR TRUTH!!! (I mean, don’t be a jerk either… like, don’t go around chastising anyone for living out their truth as well— They shouldn’t have to apologize for who they are either. It goes both ways, mmk?)

I am currently learning about what it truly means to live in a way in which I only need to apologize if it truly is necessary. An apology should be meaningful– used when we are truly and deeply sorry for a terrible mistake. But, in the meantime, if I stay true to who I am, stick to my own morals, and chickety-check-myself-before-I-rickety-wreck myself, I will never have to wander around my life saying “Im Sorry” for my own existence. It’s REALLY HARD. But when I commit to it, its extremely liberating. It makes goals seem so much more attainable. And frankly, it makes living joyfully a breeze.

I encourage you to catch yourself the next time you apologize for something silly. See if you can give the statement “I’m Sorry” the actual meaning it deserves. You just might be able to set yourself free from something big.

Until next time, friends!

From ‘Sad Dragon’ to Straight Up ‘Evil Demon Beast’

I’m a big believer in giving yourself a break when it comes to depression and self-deprecation. Humans are complicated creatures with varying emotions and mental states, and so sometimes less than ideal things will happen as a result of these emotions. However, if we’re lucky, we can learn to self-reflect and do everything in our power to be our best self for ourselves and for others.

So let’s say you have become pretty adequate at self-reflection. Let’s say you’re on a path to knowing yourself better than you ever have before. Let’s say you’re a pretty damn good person with a good heart and a strong moral system.

And then, for whatever reason, things go awry. Your Dragon takes over. You let Him get fierce beyond all belief, you listen to His lies, and you act upon them. You allow yourself to go to negative places about who you are and what you mean to people, and you become someone you don’t recognize.

You become destructive. You hurt people. You hurt yourself. You make yourself sick from your own actions. Finally, once the destruction is over you find yourself in a circle of rubble, strewn about by your Dragon’s chaos.

So what do you do?

I’ve been there. I’ve stared at that rubble from my self-war, totally dumbfounded that I was capable of such awfulness. It’s an awfully strange place to be because suddenly you have choices; choices of what the heck to do with all of that mess.

Some choices I made included:

  1. Sitting in the chaos and just bathing in it. I accepted that I am the Sad Dragon and I celebrated it. I metaphorically announced to the universe that I identified with the Dragon and there’s no going back.
  2. Numbing myself to the chaos and pretending it wasn’t there. Some great numbing agents include copious amounts of vodka and whiskey. It’s pretty amazing– when you’re so drunk from alcohol your brain can’t comprehend anything except it’s drunkenness, and your emotional pain goes away. (Somebody’s gotta be making money off of this concept somewhere… )
  3. Claiming the “I DESERVE IT” lie. This is a typical Sad Dragon whisper. It’s the little voice that tells you you’re WORTH getting an enormous hot fudge sundae instead of a healthy meal. It’s the voice that says you’re allowed to binge watch Netflix for 8 hours on a Saturday because you partied too hard the night before. It’s the voice that says you are above everyone else because you struggled over something. It’s Sad Dragon bullshit. “I Deserve it” is the lie that takes the place of the truthful sentence “It’s ok to mess up once in a while, but I want to be better than this.” They are very different messages. (I think I dislike this choice the most)
  4. Staring at the rubble and crying in disbelief and total, utter sorrow. This was the choice of acceptance. It was allowing myself to feel the despair once the high wore off.
  5. Drying my eyes, cleaning up the rubble, and apologizing to it that it will never look quite as pristine as it did before. Asking forgiveness, but not expecting it, and then walking away so the space could heal from my Sad Dragon’s hissy fit.

Now, in a perfect world, I wouldn’t let the Sad Dragon get as fierce as it did in the first place. In an almost perfect world, I would have jumped straight to choices #4 and #5. But that’s not what I did. When a person really messes up, it’s extremely tough to dig into acceptance and get back to the way life is supposed to be. It’s a process.   Everyone’s process is different, and I would never judge a person for dealing with their Sad Dragon’s hot mess in a way that works for them.

My only Soap Box Advice is This: DO NOT LIVE IN THE FALSE REALITY OF CHOICES 1-3 

Those choices are of pain. They are choices of loneliness. They are choices of letting the Sad Dragon win. Then, the Dragon becomes not just a cute Sad Dragon that hangs out with you sometimes, but a terrifying demonic beast that will just continue to widen the circumference of its chaos.

Clean up the mess, apologize, and don’t look back. YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOUR CHAOS.

In fact, you are BEAUTIFUL. Now go on and get yourself a good nap, a green smoothie, and some journaling so you can heal faster.

Learning to Love Your Butt

Learning to Love Your Butt

My Butt and I… we have been through a lot together. And I’m going to be very honest. It’s taken me a long time to stop feeling so self-conscious about it. Because here’s the thing. Its BIG.

It’s always going to be BIG. I could get all the way down to a tiny 125 pounds, and my hips will still be super wide, and I’ll still probably carry most of that weight in my butt. I’m half Mexican– it is what it is! It will always jiggle when I jump-rope, and it will always bounce when I boogie. (Yeah, alliteration… WHAT!?)

But this used to be a really big issue for me. I remember one night when I was about thirteen years old, I sobbed on the floor because I came to the realization that my hips were always going to be wide. I could no longer fit into any of my jeans, and I made the choice that my life was over.

I had nicknames all throughout high school from my stupid friends (Biggie, Backshelf, Round Thang.. none of them were very clever) and I despised the attention I got for my butt. I remember pretending to laugh when I walked into my friend’s room and she started playing “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen and yelled “THIS SONG IS ABOUT YOU!” Nowadays I find that funny, but as a teenager, it made me writhe.

I wanted to do anything I possibly could to get super thin so I would stop being so embarrassed by my Butt— (I.E. giving in to the Sad Dragon.) But no amount of dieting or exercising made my butt get any smaller.

Jump forward about ten years, and you will find a woman who no longer cries about her butt. I thankfully have learned to love my butt for a number of reasons.

LIST OF REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR BUTT: 

1.  Potential mates (for me, DUDES.. mmmm) love it. Maybe not every guy out there is a butt guy, but there is absolutely no denying that there is a large population of people who love dat booty! And the big butts are here to give their love a destination.

2.Your butt allows you to look super cute in A-line dresses. You know the dresses that get really snug in the middle and flare out at the bottom? Your butt is what makes that flare happen. Thank your butt for the flare.

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Thanks, Boo-tay! Without you this dress would hang limp!

3. You get to eat more! To fuel your butt muscles! The gluteal muscles are the biggest muscles in the human body because it has to keep everything from the hips up totally erect. That’s a big job and it requires fuel! So eat a plateful of deliciousness and realize that you’re allowing your butt to work to it’s full potential.

4. Because the gluteal muscles keep the body up, they help you climb stairs, ladders, and jungle gyms, they are also known as the “Anti-Gravity Muscles.” So, basically your butt is a super hero. You’re welcome.

5. DID YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY? YOUR BUTT IS A SUPERHERO!

6. It aids vocal power. I had a voice teacher way back when that said I had a good shape for vocal projection because my lower half was large enough to create powerful vocal vibration. Now, I don’t know if this is science…. but… Beyonce. Think about it.

7. It aids in pushing out babies. Ever heard the phrase “Child-bearing hips”? Your hips, your curves, your lower half allows your body to be capable of bringing life into this universe. Now, I’ve never had kids myself, but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t one of the most (if not THE most) magical thing about being a woman. Say thanks to your Anti-Gravity Super Butt because it is a huge part of giving life.

I’m sure you wonderful people out there can think of more reasons why your butt is excellent. Or why your thighs are excellent. Or your abdomen. Or your eyes. Or your hair. Or your feet….. The point is, loving your body for what it allows you to do (and not just how it looks) is outrageously important. Give that body part that you dislike some credit. It’s a part of you, and it helps make you who you are. Love the crap out of it. (See what I did there?)

Until next time, friends.

I-love-you-with-all-my-butt