“That outfit makes you look fat.”

I brought my daughter back to Madison for her sophomore year.  I cried in the days leading up, I cried as we sang our lungs out on the car ride there and I cried when I had to leave.  Between my crying, I was shopping at Target more than I care to admit. One night, after leaving my daughter at her apartment for the night, I decided to make one last run to Target.

As I was in the line paying for yet another shower organizer, I heard a mom say to her teenage daughter, “That outfit [referencing the one they were buying] makes you look fat.” I literally felt like throwing up. I turned and saw the girl shrink and get red-faced.  Her mom, realizing she forgot something, quickly left to go get it, leaving the girl standing there alone.  You know I had to say something.  So, I turned to her and said, “If you love yourself that outfit will look amazing. I’m certain of it.”  She half-smiled, I nodded, I swiped my card for the 10,000 time and left.

Why do we teach our children so little about self-love?  We teach them about sex and drugs but not about loving their minds, bodies and their emotions.  In a world where we’ve been raised to put others first, self-love feels selfish.  We know we need it, yet we have difficulty giving ourselves permission to experience it.

Unfortunately, most of us become adults with almost no self-love skills. We feel stuck with the notion that we are the way we are and there’s no real changing to be done.

But I believe that we can learn to love ourselves and we can and should teach our children the same thing.  This is what I say to practice my self-love:

  1. You have needs. In order to love yourself, you need to recognize your needs. Without self-love, you’ll dismiss your needs while prioritizing the needs of others. Self-love is about identifying your needs and making them a priority.
  2. Set boundaries.  The more you love yourself, the less you’ll tolerate being treated like crap. Period.
  3. Don’t sabotage your great feelings by doing something destructive. When you love yourself, it’s easier to accept and allow good things in your life.
  4. Own your life. Learn from s*** and don’t be a victim. Life ownership is empowering.
  5. Give more. Research shows that giving to others strengthens the circuits in the brain that generates feelings of well-being, more than any other positive emotion practices. So, why not give more? Like every day?

I have no idea if what I said meant anything to that young girl.  But I believe that loving yourself is magical—it’s a divine relationship that will help you improve every single aspect of your life. I know it to be true. So, stop feeling guilty and learn to embrace having a loving relationship with You.  Teach your kids (young and old) the same thing. You (and they) deserve it!

Have a great week!


Aging with Grace and Understanding

As was clear to many of you, I took a summer hiatus from writing the blog.  I wanted to spend time with my kids, my new firm, my new life.   And this summer I decided to quietly try something new – a summer without complaining.  It was tough.  I failed over and over again.  I would catch myself saying something that sounded like a complaint, felt like a complaint and was a complaint.  Then I would stop, apologize quietly in my own mind, and change the tape or the topic.

Today the boys headed off to school and my daughter is “packing up her life” to head back to college.  Tonight at dinner I’m going to share my plan with the kids – a year of no complaining.  Again, we will fail but it will be on our minds.  And when we come back together next summer – we can laugh and revel in our efforts.

Look – we all have sh**.  But as I get older I realize that there’s grace and understanding in life if we pay attention to what we have rather than what we don’t have.

This summer I had a few life lessons:

  1. Hammering, nagging, yelling, doesn’t get us anywhere.  All the pushing I did about getting summer reading done … all the energy I expended was wasted when I saw them still reading (and thankfully finishing) their book the day before school started.  As a young mother I actually thought it got me somewhere.  As an old(er) mother I realize that it gets me nowhere.
  2. People go.  I had 4 friends lose family members this summer.  In addition, I lost a very important person in my life.  This led to my “lack of complaining” cause.  Words can’t fix the pain of death.  It’s hard to see the light from all that pain but being thankful for the little we have is a start. XO to my friends who suffered this summer.
  3. Time is speeding by.  I’m thankful I made the choices I did this summer.  I intentionally cut the things that meant very little to me and focused on those that were important.  It was fantastic.  I even said no sometimes.

In July I read a column by Alison Piepmeier.  It turned out to be her last one.  She died shortly thereafter – but not before thanking all those around her and  ___ for her wonderful life.  Today I found her column on linked in – mentioned in a friend’s post.  That told me it was time to come back to the blog.  That told me it was time to really commit to not complaining.  To being grateful that I can yell, nag, cry, experience joy and frustration.  I promise you that I will be sad, unhappy and mad at times.  But I’m going to make every effort not to complain.  I have the gift of life.  It is filled with loved ones.  If today were my last day, I have no complaints.

Have an amazing day my friends.