Harnessing Your Power

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Whew, ladies, I feel I have neglected you!  It has been a little while since I’ve laid out some new pearls of wisdom before you (hehehe..heh…..hm…), but not to worry: I’m back!

In fact, I’m back in many ways these days.  Many things have begun for me recently, which I hope they have for you as well.  I’ve started trying things again.  It’s common for me to come up with an idea for something I want to do – a business I want to start, a class  I want to teach, a technique I want to learn – and then vet all the possible pitfalls before even attempting to try.  Now I try things and then just see where they go.  It’s a MUCH better way to function and has so many more rewards!

In addition, I’ve begun my Teen Life Coach training (YAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!).  This is the most exciting beginning of all!  I’ve always felt a special connection with teens and young adults, and a strong desire to work with them and walk them through an incredibly confusing, incredibly difficult, and incredibly AWESOME time of their life.  I’m now one step closer to that dream.

I’ve also started selling my artwork on consignment in a couple of stores in Denver (details TBA), and, as is the topic of this post, I’ve started boxing again.

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In fact, tonight was my first night back.  I tried to start last year a few months after my son was born, but I just wasn’t ready yet.  That’s okay, by the way girls, to not be ready yet.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there are seasons for everything, and if the motivation and desire isn’t there, just give yourself some love and patience until it returns.  It took about 9 months this time.  9 months that would have been far more miserable if I had beaten myself up everyday over my negligence.  And anyways, in that time I discovered some other types of exercise and activities I really love that I would never have discovered otherwise.

Back to boxing.  When I’m in that “place”, boxing is SO invigorating for me.  So motivating.  So empowering.  I’ve long felt it is one of the best ways to bring a girl into a state of self-love, self-respect, and personal strength.

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I was thinking about this on the way home and I came up with a new idea: I should teach Boxing Empowerment classes.  I think boxing on it’s own can teach those lessons, but how COOL would it be to combine the physical workout with the vocal life coaching lessons?  To say aloud, and shout to the world words of your own inner strength while exerting your energy towards living them at the same time.

As this idea percolated, I began building a dialogue.  A speech or mission statement, if you will, that embodies the meat of what such a program could accomplish.  I’d like to share that with you today in hopes that it will inspire you as much as it inspired me:

“You’re already good people.  I don’t have to teach you that.  You already know to be kind to others, you already know to consider others’ feelings in your words, you already know to give others respect.  But no one ever taught you how to have unabashed, unapologetic respect for yourself.  The respect to hurt someone else if you have to defend yourself.  The right to be strong, the right to be tough.  The right to own your body and do amazing things with it.  The respect to allow you to be you.  The respect to walk away from people who don’t play fair.

To choose to be powerful instead of being afraid.

There is no apologizing here.  No hiding your strengths or denying your weaknesses.

This is a place to be real.

You are not allowed to play a role, you are not allowed to pretend you are anything other than who you are.

If you throw a good punch, you are going to own it.

If you feel awkward or strange or weak, you’re not going to flinch because that’s life and life isn’t about being perfect.  In fact, life is precisely about not being perfect.

I know that’s not what your teachers say, or your parents say, or the media says, but that’s what we say here.  Boxing is the place to learn to embrace imperfection.  You will not learn to be perfect.  You will not learn to do anything perfectly.  You will learn to love being imperfect.  And in doing that, you will begin to see exactly how amazing you are.

Here: “power” is not a bad word.  “Power” and “woman” are not oxymorons.  You don’t have to be nice.  You don’t have to be sweet.  Here you can be tough.  Here you can be bitchy.  Here you can express yourself, exert yourself, be as pissed off or deliriously happy as you want.

You don’t have to have a certain type of body here.  Because everyone can box.  There are no standards here, no crazy expectations, no ideals.  You’re going to use your body in amazing ways, and you’re going to love your body because of it.

Most importantly, you’re going to let go of the way you used to think.  You’re going to think in a new way, and you’re going to practice that every week.  You’re going to forget everything except for your ability to believe in yourself.

And you’re going to kick some ass.

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RealGirls 24 Hours of Art ONLINE Event

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RealGirls 24 Hours of Art ONLINE Event

24 Hours of Art is almost here! If you haven’t heard about it already, RealGIrls is hosting an online art show across 2 days next week (12 hours each day – do the math lol!) that will feature 14 amazing female artists across the U.S. including the newly opened RealGirls Etsy shop. Click the picture to get the details and join the event! All you have to do is click “Join” on the event wall and register. You can participate from your computer, iPad, or phone at your leisure on the 29th and 30th of April.

Hope to see you all there!

HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT Coming to RealGirls Next Week!

Hello RealGirls!!  Keep an eye on the blog, Facebook page, and twitter for a BIG announcement next week that’s going to take RealGirls to the next level!  We’re looking forward to sharing our news with you and embarking on further adventures!

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Leading up to the announcement, we’re going to play some get-to-know-you games on our Facebook page and Twitter!  So if you haven’t followed the RealGirls page, now’s the time to start!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RealGirls1

Twitter: @FreakinJane

Loving Your Bare Self

I’m not talking about physical nakedness in this post, although that is absolutely an amazing part of you that deserves your value and attention. At the moment, I’d like to focus on metaphorical nakedness. This concept is best explained with a short activity.

Pull out a paper and pen, or iPad, or the Notebook feature on your cell phone, or just close your eyes and participate in your head (after you’ve read the instructions, of course). We all have metaphorical “clothes” that we wear everywhere – some are placed on us or encouraged by others, some are taken upon ourselves. Some are positive, some are not, but they often become a strong part of our identity. Your metaphorical clothing might include “musician”, “smarty pants”, “nerd”, “writer”, “sister”, “beauty”, “gymnast”, “nice girl”, “niece”, stubborn” girl, etc. I want you to write down every word, title, or label, positive or negative, that you or someone else might use to describe you.

Do you have your list? Ok, now I want you to look at your list and imagine yourself standing behind the words – maybe the words just float on you, maybe they are tattoos, or maybe they are just descriptors pointing to different parts of you. Picture it however you like, but imagine those words being on your body, your person in some way.

Now picture those words melting away until they are gone. As if they no longer apply to you. What is left?

More importantly, at this juncture, I want you to ask yourself: “do I love and value what is left?”.

In our day there is so much emphasis put on achievements, abilities, and accomplishments – all by people who love us and want the best for us – that it’s easy to wrap our identity up in all those different roles we play, the things we do, and labels we carry. But when you take all that away, and leave just the nakedness of you, that is the you that needs your greatest love; The you that is valuable and worthy simply because you are you. There doesn’t have to be any other reason. You are of value. With no strings attached.

Now skills, abilities, and accomplishments are all amazing things and quite necessary for fulfillment and even survival these days, so let’s not pretend they don’t exist and ought not be celebrated! But they are not what make you inherently valuable. They are what an already valuable person exudes. And the greater your sense of inner value, the more you can believe in yourself and guide yourself towards that achievement that will contribute to your fulfillment and survival.

Look back at your page with you and your non-existent words. You may not love that naked person right now. You may feel she is only worthwhile with her baton or calculator or hairbrush. That is not the reality. Take some time every day to spend with that naked girl. That girl deep in your core that lies at the very heart of who you are and does nothing, accomplishes nothing, just simply is. Begin to nurture her the way you would your own child and practice cultivating loving feelings for her. In time, you will find that your value lies in far more than what you contribute to the rest of the world. And that your contributions to the world are simply loving expressions of your deepest self. Give her a chance, she needs some attention.

And I think you’ll like her.

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First Real Girls Giveaway Winner: Facebook Rant

Hi Everyone!  We have completed our first drawing and are featuring our first Giveaway Winner!  I’m excited to share her submission that describes a part of who she is – ironically, it goes quite well with the new rant series!  I don’t edit the submissions because, of course, I want to keep it real, so here is this amazing and thought-provoking Rant that I just love from one of our own.  Please read to the end for some extra thoughts and comments!
“Get real, girls!  Facebook (and insert your favorite social media cocaine here) is so damn fake.  It’s people pretending their relationships are lollipops and gumdrops.  And in reality, people are in depression, people are getting beaten and abused, people are barely dragging themselves out of bed in the morning, some people in relationships hate each other. It’s so fake it makes me want to vomit.  F*** kissy face pictures.  F*** angelic child photos.  F*** puppy dog snuggling pictures.  If you don’t talk to someone in real life, you shouldn’t live with a satisfaction that you have a real friendship with them just because you know what they instagrammed for dinner last night.  It’s like the preacher cueing up “ok, everyone, do your best to make it look like your life is perfect!”  But really, admit you’re just connected to so-in-so-mere-acquaintance-at-best in high school 15 years ago because you’re waiting to see if she ever gets fat.  And admit you’re just connected to so-in-so because you get a little smug satisfaction at watching his relationships serially crumble.  And admit you’re just connected to so-in-so to feel like you’re part of an in crowd that doesn’t exist.  And admit you’re addicted to slupring up your news feed because you get a little high when you show people you’re so in-the-know about the latest gossip and news.

How about we pick up the phone and call someone?  Catch up over coffee on a sunny weekend.  Make a yoga class date.  Schedule an adventure with someone, go for a walk, a hike, a morning of shopping.  Text, email, directly message.  Anything that isn’t generic, isn’t copy & paste, anything that is real, anything that is to the heart.

I dare you to delete 3/4 of your friends and maybe even some family (gasp!) on Facebook. And then see if you miss them.  Bet you won’t.  Bet you’ll feel less stress trying to keep up on things you never really cared about. Bet you’ll like cutting out the negative people in your life and you’ll feel more positively influenced on a daily basis.  Bet you’ll stop comparing yourself to others’ fake perfect fairy tales and wishing you were more xyz.  Bet you’ll be more real.

Then I dare you to begin photographing things for the sole reason of because you want to capture that beautiful moment in time to never forget a single detail of it.  Bet you’ll stop missing so much peripherally in your life because of looking through your phone’s camera. Bet you’ll start living life more. Bet you’ll stop puckering your lips like a duck to lose 10 lbs.  Bet you’ll be grateful and laugh in 10 years that you photographed your crying baby with day-old Cheerios plastered in his hair.  Bet you’ll see more, feel more, remember the smell of things more, remember the taste of things more, remember the feeling of things more.

Do what you want to do for the sheer fulfilling adventure of it, not because you think it would look cool to be published on a news feed.  Be free. Be you. Be a real girl.
Sincerely,
The now-flying-free-girl-next-door-divorcee-who-used-to-be-Queen-of-Life-is-Perfect-shiz-on-Facebook-but-was-really-getting-her-ass-beat-at-home-and-nobody-including-herself-was-real”
I really love this rant for three reasons:
1) I think it’s SO important to recognize that Facebook is not the “real” world.  In the real world, you might walk in on a friend fighting with her boyfriend, or be having lunch when she finds out her daughter is failing a class, or catch your best friend sneaking a cigarette or yelling at her mother.  Facebook (and social media in general) provides a veil over the reality of people’s lives so we only see others through rose-colored glasses.  There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, but it’s so so important to recognize because Real Girls know that there are days and weeks and years that are insanely difficult and it can be frustrating to look at Facebook and see how “perfectly” everyone’s life seems to be going.  It’s not.  We’re all struggling right with you.  In fact, take up a challenge this week: post something real for your status; something difficult, heart wrenching, something that no one knows about you.  The ones who respond and comment are likely your true friends who care about you (and likely see you regularly anyways!).  There’s no need to pretend every day is the epitome of perfection; let that imperfection and glorious daily crap out!
2) I find myself VERY concerned lately with how much time we (read: I) spend on social media and in front of our electronics.  I feel our world is suffering from a lack of human connection – of human touch, or even just fulfillment of looking another person in the eyes.  We all need that.  Regularly.  Everyone’s lives are so busy, but please find some time to spend in-person with the people you love.  It will build a stronger, “realer” relationship and improve your mental and physical health as well.  Call and say “Happy Birthday” in person instead of posting it on your sister’s wall! (guilty).  Reach out.  It’s important.
3) I think self-reflection is so very important.  I love the call to examine ourselves and our reasons for doing the things we do.  Of course, be sure to always examine with kindness and love – learn to stop yourself when you begin to criticize and judge yourself – but take a look at your own motivations.  Why do you do certain things?  I’ve lately found myself actually thinking in Facebook statuses.  Something happens and I automatically imagine how I would word it in a Facebook status.  There’s got to be more time spent just enjoying the moment and the connection with our loved ones and letting some – or many – of those moment be JUST FOR US.  No one else gets to take part.  It builds intimacy in our relationships to have some things that are only shared between two people.  So take some time to kindly and supportively look at your reasons for engaging with social media, posting certain statuses, responding to certain things you read, and build a healthier outlook.  There is SO much to be gained from pulling ourselves away from our motivations to “look good” or build a certain image, and simply do things because it’s who we are.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t post anything at all because let’s face it, face booking is fun, but stick to the stuff that benefits you or has a genuine purpose.  The rest will just make you feel like a slave to people who have no business judging (or in some cases even knowing) who you are.
So thank you now-flying-free-girl-next-door-divorcee-who-used-to-be-Queen-of-Life-is-Perfect-shiz-on-Facebook-but-was-really-getting-her-ass-beat-at-home-and-nobody-including-herself-was-real for your awesome submission!  She gets this adorable hanger
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with the words:
“Be daring, be different, be original, be you!”
and
“Create the life you imagine”
Thanks for showing us all how to be more real.  Please continue sending in your poetry, life stories, rants, random musings, artwork, pictures, videos, accomplishments (anything that tells us about you and what makes you unique!) to BeaRealGirl@gmail.com so we can begin sharing your beauty with everyone!

Thoughts for a Monday Evening

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Thoughts for a Monday Evening

Plan to work hard. Expect to fail several times. Don’t stop learning.

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Its Not Hard; Its New

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I hate doing stuff that’s difficult.  It’s frustrating.  If it’s got just the right amount of challenge, it can be really interesting, but when it just feels all-around hard with no apparent ease in the near future, I just don’t like it.

As many of you know, I’m learning to play the guitar.  It’s been a lifelong dream of mine that only took 30+ years to move on!!  And guess what?  Learning the guitar is hard.  I have difficulty motivating myself to practice oftentimes simply because I know how awesome I’m not.  Luckily, I have an amazing guitar teacher who is not only skilled at teaching technique and musical concepts, but also happens to be rather philosophical – much to his own surprise!

So there I was last week in my guitar lesson, trying to learn some finger picking for an Adele song that made my fingers feel like engorged mallets thwacking blindly at silken horse hair (that one’s for you, babe), and after a few futile attempts to procure something that could be considered “musical”, my teacher asks me,

“So?  What do you think; does that make sense?”

To which I replied, “Yeah, but….it’s hard.” (flashback to being 5-years old and being asked to clean my room).

To which he replied, “It’s not hard; it’s new.”

Oh.  What?  Yeah, but….well, hell… Suddenly I felt like a child again, learning the piano for the first time.  It’s so simple!  There’s nothing difficult about it, I’ve just simply never done it before!  Duh.

Sometimes I think our child selves are so much wiser than we are now.  When I was kid, I think I had a lot more patience.  I think I gave myself more space and less judgment about being less than perfect at something.  Probably because i wasn’t much good at anything!  Not that I’ve perfect anything at this point in my life either, but there are several things that we become very skilled at throughout young adulthood and on into adulthood, and we suddenly want everything to be so easy.  After putting so much time and effort into perfecting a few key skills, starting over at square one again like we did when we were five seems an insurmountable task.  

Therefore, “it’s hard.”

I’m amazed at the power of words, particularly the words we use to speak to ourselves (yes, we all speak to ourselves, it’s not just for crazy people).  Changing just one word can make such an enormous difference.  Once we change “it’s hard” to “it’s new”, suddenly the judgement in our voices leaves.  Suddenly we open ourselves up to an acceptance of imperfection, an embracement of a new challenge, perhaps even the start of an exciting adventure!  We remove the roadblocks that separated us from where we are now and where we want to be, because there is no longer an entitlement of ease or even an expectation of failure.  In fact, there’s no expectation at all – because it’s new!  You’ve never moved your body, or stretched your brain, or exercised your emotions this way before.  We spend years and years since our adolescence trying to get to this place of comfort where the world around us holds still: we come back to the same house everyday, meet the same challenges at our job, kiss the same partner, express similar levels of empathy, play mostly the same chords, flex our muscles with similar strength, greet the faces of the same friends and family… so altering those regularities in some way to learn or experience something new can feel quite daunting.

Whatever challenge you find yourself tackling today – maybe you’re learning a new skill like I am, or starting your next block of schooling, or entering an altered state of an important relationship, or enduring a life experience that was unprecedented, or trying to develop a new habit – remember that the words you use to describe this challenge will make all the difference in how you are able to approach it.    Saying “Its hard” almost invokes upon yourself an assumption that you do not have the capacity or endurance to surmount the task at hand.  Strike it from your vocabulary.  It’s new.  It’s unfamiliar.  It’s something that would require practice of anyone who, like you, had never attempted it before.  

Hopefully this small reconstruction in self-talk will take you from this overwhelming position facing a massive boulder, and instead place you in front of a massive pile of feathers.

Because the fact of the matter is, you CAN do it.  You always could.

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We All Have Something to Believe In

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What an amazing time of year.  We are all celebrating all the amazing, wonderful things we believe in.  Some of us our celebrating Jesus Christ the Savior, others Jesus Christ the inspired guide, others Allah, God, or simply a belief in themselves or the love of their families.  Others have already concluded their holiday celebrations, and many have celebrations yet to come.  I have my own personal beliefs of religious and secular natures, but today there is one thing I believe in more than anything: 

YOU.

I believe in you.  Every one of you.  I believe in your goodness, your worth, and your potential.  I believe in your weakness, your challenges, and your imperfection.  I believe in your ability to change the lives of those around you for the better and to change and improve your own life simply because you deserve it.  I believe in the work and effort you will put into improving yourself over the next year – and not because you are weak, or unworthy, or dysfunctional, or an idiot.  Rather, because you are already amazing and important; and amazing and important people owe it to themselves to continue to become more amazing, more inspired, and more improved.  You owe it to yourself to aspire to greatness, whatever that means for you.

So whatever you believe in this holiday season, remember that, most importantly, that person, God, Savior, or group believes in you first and foremost.  And the best gift you can give back to those that inspire your is to believe in yourself.

Amongst all the amazing giving you are doing today, remember that you are giving because you are a wonderful person!  Give yourself the gift of credit.

Much love, Real Girls.  

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A Song for the Real Girls of the World

Hi Girls!  I took some time these past couple of weeks, sucked in some creative juices, and wrote a song for all of us!  It speaks to girls I’ve met in so many different situations, and the amazing power I’ve seen in those who overcome great life challenges.  Hope you like it!

Keep in mind, it was recorded on an iPad so it’s not professional by any stretch of the imagination.  But it’s pretty damn good compared to the stuff I used to do with my tape player!!!

(P.S. my Soundcloud handle is “Jayniey” in case you want to follow me…just sayin…)

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Looking Out for Number One

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We’ve all been there, right?  You’re walking down the street, or through the mall (do teens still hang out at malls?), or at the park talking about your friend’s ex-boyfriend or girlfriend or boss who has been less than kind lately, and your friend utters the cliche we all know and love: “You know her: always looking out for Number One.”

Ok, maybe I’m dating myself thinking that’s a common phrase, but either way, you’ve heard it before, right?  We all know that those who put themselves in the #1 spot every day of their lives have a problem with being selfish and don’t spend enough time thinking about or helping others.

Right?

Actually, no.

Wait, wait WAAAAAAAAIIIT!!!!  Don’t go yet!  Just hear me out first!  This is very, very important because I think so many of us have been conditioned throughout our lives to always put others first, to forget yourself, to exist only for the good of others.  And these are all great and wonderful sentiments!  In theory, anyways.  But they can cause a lot of confusion, as does this idea that putting yourself first is a self-absorbed way to live your life.

So let me see if I can clear this up.  Now, I’m not a big fan of labels for myself or anyone else, but I do think it’s important for us, as we go about our lives, to make judgements about the acts or humaneness of others so as to help us decide what we want to choose for ourselves and what kind of people we want to be in our lives.  The purpose is not deem a person “good” or “bad” or to pit ourselves as “better” or “worse”, but instead to simply and objectively say, “That thing that person did, or the person that human is seems selfish, so I don’t think I want to live my life that way, it doesn’t seem like it would benefit me as a person.” (I find it helpful to avoid “that person is selfish” and rather say “they seem selfish” because it reminds me that I don’t really know their circumstances).

So, with that in mind, I will openly acknowledge that I have known a lot of people throughout my life who seemed to live rather selfishly.  Some of them have had a very drastic effect on me, and others have just made for good observable guinea pigs.  Either way, I’ve tried to learn something from them.  And this is what I’ve found:

I should probably remind you that I am not a psychologist or sociologist, or even anything cool like a Magician or a Lance Corporal.  Nor do I really have any credential for anything related (though a certain affinity for card games has earned me the nickname ‘cobra’ – more on that later), so I am speaking very simply from careful observation and a [fairly obsessive] desire to understand.  

Being selfish or self-absorbed has very little to do with putting yourself #1, and everything to do with how far beyond #1 you put #2 and #3.

I’m a visual person, so I’ll try to help illustrate this with a picture.  Let’s say we’re looking at an “Importance Meter” where you’re ranking the people/things most important in your life.  At the very top you have #1 followed by #2, #3, #4, etc.  But in this case, there is no set distance between each number.  So while #1 is always at the top, #2 can be halfway down the meter, a quarter of the way down, or even all the way at the bottom depending on how important your second priority is to you.

According to much of the common knowledge we’ve been taught, #1 should be everyone else at the top, and  #2 – you – should be (depending on how much the “think of others before yourself” rhetoric has been drilled into you) halfway down, maybe even at the very bottom in some cases.  Fantastic idea in theory; great way to overexert, exhaust, and depress yourself in practice.  But wouldn’t the reverse – putting ourselves at #1 – make us incredibly self-absorbed and not concerned about others?

I often wonder who came up with that idea – maybe someone who was worried that if s/he taught people to put themselves first they would cease to serve him or her’s every whim?  There’s the cynic in me for you. 🙂

It’s simply not true.  BOTH selfish and unselfish people put themselves at the top in the #1 spot.  The difference between a selfish and an unselfish person (assuming labels for simplicity’s sake) is that a selfish person puts #2 (typically family and friends) at the bottom of the meter, or maybe doesn’t even have any other numbers on the meter at all.  An unselfish person, by contrast, puts #2 perhaps just inches below #1, or maybe even feet below at times when their individual health and sanity needs more attention than usual.

To be sure this idea makes sense, let’s look at it a couple of different ways to see if it justifies itself.  There’s, of course, the most common justification I hear for putting yourself first which is that “if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?”.  Which has some merit, but at the end of the day is kind of like saying “put yourself first so that you can put other people first” which is confusing and takes away from this incredibly valuable truth:

You are worth putting first.

Put yourself first simply because you deserve it.  Because you are valuable, because you are worthy, because you are amazing.  Put yourself first because no one in this world merits your love more than your own self.

If you’re anything like me, your brain fights you on this justification.  It wants to step back and take a holistic viewpoint: isn’t everyone as valuable as me?  Ok, let’s humor that side of us.  If you’re looking at it from an outer space view of the whole world, yes, every person is equally valuable.  But even in this paradigm, it does you no service to value others over you because you are the only one you have control over.  You are the only one you can truly nurture, love, and embrace and KNOW that it makes a difference and brings value in your life.  Yes, please, absolutely keep your loved ones very close to the top; there will be times when their needs take over and you have to give unrequitedly for a while.  But always, always return vehemently to the respite that is the caring and nurturing of yourself.  Maintain it as often as you can without letting your loved ones slip too far down the meter.

The ironic thing is that, by doing this, you will inevitably teach others to do the same.  Prioritizing yourself and your physical and mental health makes the world a better place, and more importantly, you a better person.

It makes you more Real.

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