Uncomfortable in My Own Skin

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I’m gonna be a little more personal then usual in this post.  Don’t worry, nothing freaky.  Just a little more to maybe help you see that you’re “not the only one”, and that phases of life come and go and we all survive them somehow.

The last few years of my life have been…life changing.  A lot has happened.  I’ve brought two children into the world, altered my career trajectory, made some major adjustments to my religious & spiritual belief system, lost some very important relationships, and somehow managed to maintain a healthy and loving relationship with my husband through everything we’ve been through.  It’s a success.  But it’s been hard.

I’m not a woman who loves being pregnant and loves having kids.  I despise pregnancy and I struggle with postpartum anxiety (which is sort of like collecting every anxious moment of your entire life and stuffing it all into a period of 2 months).  It takes me about a year to feel like myself again after childbirth.  So those two years after my kids were born, though I made the best of them and enjoyed those baby moments, were some of the hardest of my life.

And now here I am, sitting on my couch with my Apple laptop (never thought that would happen), in this house that I own (never thought I’d get one of those on a Movie Composer’s salary), next to my ridiculously sexy husband (love ya, babe) and two kids and two dogs (they’re still alive somehow!!):

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And it’s….

uncomfortable.

I mean, it’s wonderful, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life, but it’s just so different from the “me” I remember from the first 28 years of my life.

Things used to be so much more normal.  More predictable.  More usual.  And now everything is different, and unexpected, and unanswerable, and sometimes speeding by at a million miles an hour.  My friends are having children, my acquaintances are losing children, and my siblings are still acting like children (baha!!! jk, love you all).  The potential for disparity, poverty, and death are so much more real now.

Yet I wouldn’t go back.  Not for one second.  I see my old self, and I love her.  She was sweet, and smart, and more talented than she realized.  The me I see today is the same me from back then – but more aware, more understanding of my deeper self and my emotions, more rooted in reality.  I no longer live with the low self-confidence, the worries about relationships, and the daily personal guilt that I dealt with back then.

So really, in the end….

Sometimes it’s nice to be uncomfortable.

 

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Dear Past Self

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Hi girls,

Today I’d like to share with you a blog post from a dear friend of mine who I think is absolutely amazing.  She wrote this incredible letter to her younger self, and I think many of you young people can relate to some of the things she’s written.  She really speaks from the heart and spearheads some of the major issues we face in teenage hood and young adulthood (and, admittedly, in adulthood as well!!).  If you’ve ever felt like you’re the only one who feels awkward, ugly, or self-conscious, here’s a wonderful reminder that you are not alone!  And that you’re not the only one who never heard back from Ryder Strong. 😉

Here is my favorite part of her post:

“Hey Karen, I’m really proud of you for trying out for that play, even though you were scared, especially about singing in front of people.  It led to a lot of fun times throughout the years.  I know that sometimes hearing that you are ugly, stupid or fat is really really hard.  Hearing it from those poor, self-conscious (yes, they are) “popular” kids sometimes makes you feel like that’s who you are.  I know that kids can be cruel.  I look back at us 20 years ago and am sad for you.  I wish I could tell you then what I know now.”

Karen feels a strong devotion to God and her religion, and though we are not all religious, I believe our life experiences are still very similar and very interconnected.  So pull the encouragement that you can from this awesome post – I hope it gets your weekend off on the right foot!

http://firstcomeslove-jacobs.blogspot.com/2014/02/dear-past-karen.html 

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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!

Our Bodies Have Middle Child Syndrome

I’ve been thinking a lot about fitness and weight loss lately.  It *might* be related to the fact that we’re coming up on my son’s first birthday and I have some weight loss goals attached to that… either way, it’s been on my mind.  And more than anything, I’m realizing how completely HORRIBLE our society is at approaching this subject.  I could write a novel (and I actually plan to write an eBook on this topic in the near future #shamelessplug), but I’ll try to sum up the problems.  They have to do with sentences like this:

“Push yourself till you can’t go anymore!”

“Work hard for that bikini body!”

“Schedule your workouts at the same time everyday!”

“Get it done, or give up!”

“Keep going until it hurts!”

Has anyone else notice that when it comes to weight loss, there are a lot of people yelling??  Is there really a good reason for that?  It’s like someone woke up one morning and though ya know, psychology says that yelling at your kids stunts their growth…so it MUST be a good motivator for adults!  Logic, anyone?

What I’d like to focus on for today is this concept of pushing our bodies until it hurts, and how it relates to our cavewoman ancestors (sorry, guys, but the blog IS called Real “Girls”).  See, I think we’ve come to this place as a planet where we are just so completely out of touch with our bodies.  Why else would we yell and scream at them and try our best to hurt them in our effort to reach a goal?  I have a theory, which is based on my intellectually advanced education in human evolution and anthropology (HAHAHA…HA…ha…erm):

Back in “the day”, our bodies spoke to us.  A lot.  They had to.  Everything we did required physical effort.  As a result, our bodies made a lot of demands and we had to meet them for survival and happiness.

As time has gone on, we’ve created more creature comforts (at least us first-world folks), and more methods to ease the demands on our bodies. I think this is a good thing for the most part.  We’ve sort of left behind the era of the “body” and entered the era of the “brain”.  Now our brain makes the demands.  Our brain takes the brunt of the effort and strain in our daily lives.  We struggle more intellectually, mentally, and emotionally than we do physically.  And our bodies have no need to talk to us anymore.  Our bodies are pretty much taken care of at every turn!  There are very few situations where we need to “beef up” for a long buffalo hunt or to run or ride to the next colony 15 miles away.

And since our bodies have stopped talking, we have stopped listening.  Our bodies have essentially become the middle child.

And since I am a middle child, and happen to be married to a middle child, I know WHAT A HORRIBLE IDEA THIS IS.

Our bodies are basically the middle child who has gotten pretty self-sufficient and learned to handle things, so we just kind of forget about her.  We know if we take care of the bare essentials, she’ll handle the rest.  We don’t have to worry about her, she’s got it covered.  Until one day when all the neglect builds up and she blows her top and throws a massive shitstorm.  Oh crap, did you want to be cared for too??

I’m not bitter.

We need to start listening to our bodies.  They have a lot to say; you’d be surprised.  It’s amazing how often your body actually DOESN’T want that ice cream bar, or DOES want to go for a jog, or just really needs a 10-minute power nap, if you just took the time to shut off your brain for a few minutes and tune in to your physical being.  It completely shocks me how often I go looking for a piece of candy, and then upon pausing to see what my body has to say about it, find that it actually doesn’t want candy.  It’s my brain or my feelings that want the candy (probably from all that childhood neglect).

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So this week, start getting reconnected with your body.  Listen to what it says, and even try to just follow it’s lead even when your brain doesn’t want to.  Your brain has been running the roost for so long, it will probably feel awkward at first, but keep at it.  It doesn’t require any effort, just a little mindfulness.  Just a little reminder here and there to check in. After a while it will become a habit, and you will find yourself close to both physical health and personal wholeness.

Because even middle children need a little love.  Even as adults… who would never think of holding a grudge…

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RealGirls Online Event: What is Your Superpower?

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It’s time again, girls, for another installment of RealGirls Online Events!  Remember, you don’t have to plan out any time, just RSVP to the Facebook event and check your phone periodically this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to catch up on the conversation and learning.  The topic this time is: What is Your Superpower?  We’ll be doing some fun quizzes, Q&A’s, and internal reflection to discover your STRENGTHS!

I can only invite people who are Facebook friends, but everyone is invited, so please click the link below and “Join”!

https://www.facebook.com/events/711199958922971/ 

See you there!

The Five Motivational Drivers

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Last week, RealGirls had the amazing opportunity to hold an online Facebook event to get to know other RealGirls around the world.  What a success!  We had a great group of participants and we all learned a lot about each other and also discussed some concepts to help us enhance our self-knowledge and self-improvement.  You can still view the event and discussions here.

One of the major topics of discussion was motivation.  Motivation is such an important part of everyday life and determines what we accomplish and what we don’t.  So one of the first things we can do to bring more meaning and accomplishment to our daily lives is to identify our top motivators, and find ways to incorporate them more frequently in our daily lives.

To bring more clarity to this conversation, I chose two definitions of “motive” from dictionary.com that I found to be most accurate and most positive:

“the goal or object of a person’s actions”

and

“prompting to action.”

I’m particularly fond of the second one because it gives a layman’s view of what motivation looks like: you know you are motivated by something when it catapults you to action.  Which means there may be things that you find inspiring or enjoyable, but not necessarily motivating.  It’s an important distinction!  So a few years back, one of my bosses gave me and my co-workers a list of 5 motivators to rank.  The 5 motivators purposely didn’t include anything of charitable nature because the belief was that everyone, right down to the guy that owns a business that sells printer cartridges, is motivated by their ability to contribute to the world in some way.  Here they are:

Freedom/Autonomy

Challenge

Personal Growth

Financial Gain

Recognition

The goal is to then rank these motivators in order of their ability to drive you to action.  That can be a pretty difficult distinction, so here are some more detailed descriptions of each one:

Freedom/Autonomy – this is the ability to pave your own path, make your own decisions, and be the master of your domain. It doesn’t *necessarily* mean you have no schedule to live by; rather it means that you are the one who gets to decide your schedule or lack thereof.

Challenge – this is very closely tied to risk. How important is it to you that you are challenged on a daily basis in some way? How willing are you to step into the deep unknown and take a big risk to attempt to overcome or surmount a major obstacle? Challenge usually involves high levels of stress for a large payoff. Your tendency to be motivated by challenge is probably highly related to your propensity to navigate stress and a lot of not-knowing. It’s fueled by a drive for accomplishment.

Personal Growth – this is the ability to feel yourself stretching and changing and enduring through pain and difficulty to come out on the other side better than you were before. I think it’s safe to say that though a lot of people are motivated by extensive personal growth, a lot of people are simply content with who they are and where they are in their life. And that’s okay! In fact, many of us could probably use a little more contentedness.

Financial Gain – well, everyone needs money, right? We all need to support ourselves and our families! This goes a little beyond the survival factor to being motivated by increasing one’s financial state. Being a person who is motivated by financial gain usually has a very negative feel to it, and I suspect this is due to the reputation of major players in the business world to “do whatever it takes” to make a buck. But I think there are lots of ways to look at the reasons for financial motivation. For some its the fun of the reward for hard work; for some it’s having a little extra spending money; for some it’s feeling like they are contributing to the economy; for some it’s simply being able to buy cool stuff. It’s a perfectly legitimate motivator and a very common one!

Recognition – this is typically viewed as a “bad” motivator, but, like these other motivators, it’s not good or bad. Some of us are simply driven by recognition. I would go so far as to say that ALL of us are driven by it to a certain extent, but I think for many there is an extra strong “buzz” associated with seeing our name in the paper, or a degree next to our name, or our face on TV, or to hear we are being discussed in other circles (not in a gossipy way, of course, although that typically accompanies recognition without our permission).

What is the order of your motivators?  Still having a hard time?  Here’s a short online quiz that I found to be accurate and helpful in determining your motivators.  It includes 8 motivators, but many of them can be sub-categorized into these 5.

Once you’ve worked out your motivators, what next?  Well, I believe its always helpful to look at the positive – the ways you are doing things right – before delving into areas of improvement.  So take a look at your life and identify the areas in which your top 3 motivators are already playing a primary role.  Where are these motivators already built-in to your daily life?  Write your thoughts down if that helps.

Now brainstorm ways you could build those motivators more intrinsically into your life.  It’s usually best to start small, but if you have the ability to make big changes, go for it!  Perhaps you could talk to your spouse about giving you more recognition for your efforts and accomplishments.  Maybe it would be helpful to arrange your schedule so you have more free time for yourself.  Why not buy a self-help book or take a seminar to help you grow spiritually or emotionally?

Then make some plans to take those steps.  You might call them goals – this word typically sends me into an anxiety spin, so I don’t particularly like it, but call it whatever words for you – or steps or plans.  Start small, or big, or medium – whatever makes you feel both inspired and confident in your ability to accomplish them.

The basic formula to using motivation to your advantage is this:

1) ENHANCE the motivators that are currently at play on your life and

2) BUILD more of your motivators into your everyday life.

It may surprise you how much more real and satisfied you feel when you’re stimulating the best parts of your core self.

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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

Second Real Girls Giveaway Winner: Poetry

I am SO excited to announce our next Real Girls Giveaway winner: Sarah!  This fantastic lady sent us a brief glimpse into her life and her talents by submitting a poem – all the way from Dubai!  Inspired by the last Real Girls Giveaway winner, she wanted to share this poem she wrote on being real.  

A few comments before I post the poem: I am so unbelievably inspired by this poem.  It is so eloquently written and uses very sensual visuals to illustrate the raw reality of being “real”.  Poetry has such an incredible ability to express things that we cannot say in any other way, and it takes real talent to be able to bring together the harsh reality of our everyday lives with the beauty and subjectivity of the written word.  I am also in LOVE with her handle: Desencajada, which, according to her blog, means “out of her place”.  I believe it is Spanish (Foreign languages have such an amazing way of conveying meaning we often can’t express in English!).

You’ll love this read – 

What’s yours?

Link to the original poem on Sarah’s blog:

 

To stop resenting others for their happiness,
to unclench the knot in your throat that forms when they smile, 
pouring out their joyous abundance.

To start sculpting your own happiness, 
with bare trembling hands and tears in your eyes.

To dig deep in the dirt of your own secret garden 
and bury deep in the fertile soil 
all of your own dreams and hopes 
and grow and care for that garden, 
not allow the winter nor the beaming sun 
to either freeze nor burn your desires and destinies.

To gouge your own ditch 
to let the countless little streams of your heart flow 
until they form the thirst quenching sea 
and to have the courage to jump into it, 
not be afraid of its depths nor shallows 
and swim all the way through it 
to get to know its tide and temperature.

To untie all the strings that your fears have woven around your ankles,
keeping your feet from walking 
away from this house, this backyard, this fenced garden of deafening monotony.

To embrace the pain of growing wings, 
of tearing open your best guarded box, 
that chest, treasurer of that little throbbing muscle, 
and let the sunlight undisclose all the hideous secrets,
yes, 
to live and not dread the honesty of being real, 
range of possibilities exposed, of steps untaken and peace unmade. 

And yet to love, deeply, freely, guiltlessly, oneself…

To Love Freely Oneself

My favorite line is:

“To start sculpting your own happiness, 
with bare trembling hands and tears in your eyes.”

What’s yours?

Thanks again, Sarah, your gift will be arriving soon!

If you have a story, poem, experience, thought, piece of artwork, photo, or anything else that tells us about who you really are, please email Real Girls at BeaRealGirl@gmail.com and you’ll have a chance to win the next Giveaway!  

 

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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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