Tag Archive | self love

Mirror, Mirror: Loving my darkness

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

The mirror does not lie. And in the mirror, we can see the beauty and we can see the warts. The light and the darkness. As we are our own worst critics, it is not easy for many of us to look in the mirror and truly love ourselves. It is, in fact, transformative to look in the mirror and say “I love you” to the reflection. Even more so to gaze at my reflection for several minutes, affirming that I love and accept myself exactly as I am. Warts and all.

I’ve been doing this work for several weeks, after having some energy work done when I was feeling depressed and blocked. And it has been transforming and I’ve been feeling great. But progress is still slow and I’m feeling impatient.

xvthedevilAs a tarot reader/intuitive, I read for myself regularly for guidance as well as a way of continuing my study of the tarot. The last few days, number 15, The Devil, has come up a several times. One of the scarier cards in the deck. In some decks it has other names, such as “Temptation,” “Chains,” or, my favorite, “The Big Bad Wolf.” When a card keeps appearing, I sit up and take notice, look for the message, an important lesson. The Devil might point to an addiction or addictive patterns of behavior, it may advise us not to be chained to our fears. It speaks of a darkness in hiding. D-e-v-i-l the opposite of l-i-v-e-d. In the Inner Child Cards by Isha Lerner and Mark Lerner, the 15th card is “The Big Bad Wolf” and depicts a bleak, dark, scary pathway, with a wolf in hiding. The path leads to the tower bathed in the light of the moon. This is the darkness inside of ourselves. The shadow that we don’t want to see.

The message from The Devil card is that it’s time to shine your light into the darkness. It’s time to look at your shadow self and love that part of you. You’ve looked in the mirror and seen the beauty there. You’ve grown in self love. Your imperfections, your shadow, the darkness in you, your wounds, the places where you are broken need your love and acceptance the most. When you deny your darkness, it grows in fear. When you shine your light on your darkness, you heal the broken parts of yourself and transmute it into light.

It’s time to look at the parts of myself that I don’t want to see. It’s time to SEE and LOVE my darkness. Eek. I don’t know. It’s pretty scary down there. Is my light enough?

Fear. Funny, I’ve also been seeing a lot about facing your fear, feeling it and going forward anyway. I know I’m not alone here. I’ve been working on this for a while. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Stepping out of my comfort zone. The past few years, it seems like I’m doing this all the time, going outside my comfort zone, expanding my comfort zone, not being chained to a life not being lived.

But for all that work, I was feeling stuck, frustrated, and depressed. My dreams and desires just out of reach. I’ve come so far, and everything I’m working for just a breath away. But that breath might be a million miles because I still couldn’t reach it.

I knew in my heart what was blocking me, but this one was big, The Big Bad Wolf.

Writing this now feels like I’m walking the bleak and scary landscape of fear. I’ve walked this path alone and now I’m taking you with me. Into the shadows.

Deep in the darkness, I find the part of myself that decided a long time ago that I would do this thing called life alone. Because, well, fear. Because that’s what strong people do. Because, control issues. Because, what if I’m not really worthy of THAT much love? I built a wall and subconsciously kept people out, at the same time, I longed to not be alone.

Deep in the darkness, I find the anxiety that has controlled my life. The anxiety that put up a wall around my heart. The anxiety that told me I was unworthy.

I honestly don’t know how far back my anxiety goes. I never acknowledged it or talked about it until I was 40. I’m sure I can find instances of illness or unexplainable behavior that may have been panic attacks. But the thing I don’t remember being without are the constant critics, the mean girl voices that come with anxiety. I lived a good part of my life with a constant voice in my head telling me I’m wrong, I’m bad, nobody likes me, I’ve done something terrible (I have no idea what) and everybody is going to find out. It’s called anxiety and is caused by a chemical imbalance.

I thought this was normal until I sought help for depression when I was 40 and was prescribed an SSRI anti-depressant that was mostly for anxiety. I was told it could take weeks for the drug to take effect. The very first day, the mean girl voices went away and I felt free and happy. I didn’t stop talking for three months, I had a lot to say. Things calmed down after that, but I set a number of things in motion that were the starting point for amazing transformations (and some amazing mistakes) in my life. After a few years, I weaned myself off the medication and committed myself to a diet and supplements that would keep my chemistry in balance and keep the mean girl voices away.

The real work began. Here’s the deal, the medication made me feel good for awhile, but ultimately, I was not working on my shit and I would have eventually needed more medication. My body, my inner guidance, and my drive to fulfill my purpose in the world told me strongly it was time to get off the medication and work on my shit for real. I got the mean girl voices under control, but they had already wreaked havoc with my underlying belief system and my confidence.

My work on myself and my work in the world has been about self love, about looking in the mirror and seeing the beauty all of us have within us. My work on myself an my work in the world has been about seeing ourselves as beautiful, as every one of us is. My focus has been on body image, but the work needs to go deeper than that.

Loving and accepting ourselves exactly as we are is not just body image. This is going deep into the dark places and loving ourselves there. It’s about accepting the shadow. It’s about the knowledge that we deserve love NOW. We are worth as we are. We don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love and abundance and realizing all of our deepest desires. We are human and beautiful in our imperfection.

I’m again looking in the mirror every day, now for five long minutes, affirming my love for myself exactly as I am, the light and the dark. I had some energy work done, which got me started and lifted the depression. I saw hope again, the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m tearing down the wall that I built around my heart, brick by brick. The magic is happening and it seems so effortless in the moment.

Some days, I’m still walking in the dark, in fear of the Big Bad Wolf. But I see the stars and the big bright moon. And I’m no longer walking alone.

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What’s with the pink hair?

I’ve always been fairly conservative in how I dress, my hair and makeup. But when my mom got the first turquoise strip in her white hair, I started thinking: I could do that, but I would do pink.

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to fit in, trying to please everyone. The one who was up for anything, easy going, wanting peace, wanting to be liked by everybody. I went through life worried about what other people would think. I either was who I thought everybody wanted me to be or I did not speak. I felt so different from everybody else, I was afraid of not fitting in.

You can imagine how well that worked out for me, how happy that made me. I’m not sure that I made too many other people happy, either, not really. I don’t think I was very good at being somebody else.

I’ve come to realize that my old story about not being able to maintain any weight loss, about gaining the weight in the first place, is about not feeling safe in the world around me, not feeling safe to be all of who I really am. The extra weight a protective layer between me and the world. In fact, my whole weight loss journey, this time around, has really been about being who I really am, accepting all of me, and showing who I am to the world. It’s about following my light and shining my light. It’s about stepping out of my comfort zone to do what brings me joy, peace, purpose; it’s about expanding my comfort zone so that I feel safe in the world being all of who I am.

What I’ve learned is that I’m much better and more successful at being myself than trying to be someone I think others want me to be. It’s a lot easier, too. I’m not really counting or caring so much how many people like me and how many don’t. I do know that I am more and more in situations where I am accepted and loved exactly as I am. My comfort zone is expanding. I’m living each day more fully. I am happier, overall, than I’ve ever been.

Julie AnnSo, back to the pink hair. It was finally time. I’ve been going through some stuff for a few weeks, not stuff happening to me, but releasing old shit and having a tough time keeping my vibration high. I needed a pick-me-up, and getting my hair done has always been a mood lifter. Not wanting to cut my hair or change the style, coloring it magenta was the logical next choice. While I felt like it would take some courage leading up to it, when the time finally came, it was easy. I thought it might feel dramatic, but it really feels natural, the fun part of myself, right up front. (Remember the mullet, business in the front, party in the back? Party is in the front this time.)

Because this is me.

When you are about to give up

“Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because you are trying to realize your Personal Legend. And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.”
~from The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

I’ve been here many times, trying to realize my Personal Legend, trying to serve my life purpose, “And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.” But it goes on:

“And that’s when you always appear on the scene?”
“Not always in this way, but I always appear in one form or another.”

Feeling frustrated because I was only seeing what has not yet materialized, I “checked out” for a little while with some books and a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And in order to “check out,” I had to visit the bookstore. And when I was gathering my books for my  vacation from reality, my attention was brought to the shelf a little distance away where The Alchemist stood, as if lighted arrows were pointing at it. The Alchemist, which I’ve been saying I wanted to read for years and never bothered to look for. And this time I bought it.

Only 24 pages in, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” And the very next page: “And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.” “And that’s when you always appear on the scene?”

Yes! Frustrated, wallowing in my perceived failure, just about ready (but not too seriously) to give it all up, this book shows up, lit up with fireworks and a band: “Because you are trying to realize your Personal Legend. And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.” Wait, are you talking to me? Hello, did we not compel you to buy this book?! Yes, we’re talking to you! “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Do we need to say any more? Look around you, you can see the truth.

My dream is to make a living as a writer, coach, speaker, including some energy healing and tarot reading. I’ve had challenges, made wrong turns, lost my passion, found it again, almost giving up. Every time I’ve almost given up, I’ve had sudden inspiration, an idea, an opportunity that came seemingly out of nowhere, to bring me back onto the path, leading my closer, getting more clear. It can be frustrating and scary. But living the life of unrealized potential, living with NOT realizing my Personal Legend, is scary as hell.

Once again, I’m here, “at the point where you’re about to give it all up.” Because I was guided to write, just write, every week. All you need to do right now is write. Not only is it hard to see how just writing once a week is going to lead me to my dreams, it’s also scary to put myself out there every week, having a subject every week, trying to write well and say something meaningful every week. So I checked out, and still, I was reminded that the universe is conspiring to help me. Oh yeah, the opportunities to join a writing group, the opportunity to submit a guest blog, the 10 day writing challenge, the book with the message I needed to hear, do you think that’s the universe conspiring to help me?

I’ll tell you, the signs are clearer and more numerous this time around. I’m on the right track. I’ve also opened my eyes, I’m noticing signs, and I’m open for opportunity. I’m clearer on my passion, my Personal Legend. I’m committed this time, blood, sweat, and tears, whatever it takes. The universe’s support is matching my commitment.

What is your passion? What is your Personal Legend? What are your dreams? Open your eyes, look around, the universe is conspiring to help you.

What if it’s all Bullshit?

InPursuitofMagicThe thought has crossed my mind that all of my spiritual beliefs, the basis for how I live my life, could be complete and total bullshit. Baloney. Delusion. God, the Universe, the idea of a benevolent, loving, power much greater than I that wants to help me. Angels, spirit guides, fairies. Reiki, energy healing, being affected by the energy of the moon, humans continuing to evolve. Reading tarot, listening to my own intuition, messages from loved ones in spirit, the soul’s immortality, soul mates, reincarnation. Law of Attraction, the power of positive thinking. Magic. Miracles. What if it’s all a lie? What if I’m wrong about everything?

Not exactly a crisis of faith. More of a brutal questioning by my inner critics. Where’s the logic? What can you prove? Does this shit really work? How does this make sense? It may not be scientifically provable, but it does make sense to me. It’s a way of living my life that is working better than anything else did before.

For instance, while there may not be any scientific evidence of Angels, the fact that I have never set myself on fire, gotten hit by a car, drowned in my own kitchen, or fallen off of the rickety chair I stand on to change lightbulbs is evidence enough for me that I am protected by guardian angels. And they probably deserve a raise.

I’ve stood on a mountain in Sedona and it’s hard for me to believe there is not a higher power who created the beauty, the majesty, an energy I cannot describe. I’ve walked in the woods, been out in the middle of the ocean, watched the sun rise and set, and it’s hard for me to believe there is not a higher power. I’ve held a newborn baby and watched him grow into an adult and it’s hard for me to believe there is not a higher power.

I can go on. I have felt the power of reiki and other types of energy healing. I have focused on love, and let love guide me through fear, and experienced the transformation. I have created vision boards, made lists, set intentions, and repeated affirmations, and I’ve watched the magic and miracles occur. Soulmates? When you meet someone and you instantly connect and you feel like you’ve known them for a thousand years? Because you have. It just makes sense.

I believe in my own intuition, and that I am guided by loved ones in spirit, a higher power, angels, and fairies, because, let’s face it, left to my own devices, I royally fuck it all up. (Okay, I haven’t landed in jail, rehab, or homeless, but the mistakes felt pretty disastrous to me at the time) What’s saved me is paying attention to my intuition, being open to guidance from the unseen, being open to miracles,  and noticing synchronicity. When I follow the path that makes my heart sing, I am always, always successful. When I pay attention to my inner knowing, life just works. When I go in the direction of what lights up for me, what feels happy and sparkly, not only is that pursuit successful, but I end up finding other unexpected magic that keeps leading me in the direction of my dreams. I randomly meet people who can help me. Situations open up.

What I know for sure is, when I opened myself up to these ideas that were new to me, life just started making sense to me in a more meaningful way. I found more peace in my life, more happiness. Less anxiety, more love.

Maybe it IS all bullshit. Maybe I AM delusional. Maybe it’s all truth. Maybe there’s some truth and some baloney. Does it matter? It’s working for me.

Really, why would I want to live in a world where angels, fairies, and unicorns did not exist?

 

 

A New Story

I’ve started and stopped a million times, thinking it was time to tell “my story.” Not just the bits and pieces I give in blog posts and videos or on my website, but the whole story. Every detail. The years of dieting and all the reasons I gained the weight back. What it was like as a girl being not small, what it was like as a teenager thinking I was fat (I saw a picture recently, I wasn’t). The story about believing I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough as long as I had an extra ounce of body fat. About growing up in a society where you could never be “too rich or too thin.”About being highly sensitive, introverted, and empathic and eating because I didn’t know how to process any of it. About anxiety and depression, about not fitting in, about being too much and at the same time, not enough. About not knowing who I was or why I was here.

Maybe I should tell that story so that you will know that you’re not alone, so you will know I’ve been there, too. I know what it’s like. I feel your pain.

But that’s a book that I’m not going to write, because I don’t want to live in that story anymore. It’s time to let go and move forward. It’s time to write a new story.

The new story is about love and acceptance. It’s about being perfectly imperfect. It’s about being good enough. And it’s so much more. The new story is about an imperfect, human love for ourselves, about still hating ourselves sometimes, and coming right back to love. It’s about accepting ourselves the way we are at the same time that we are striving to be better versions of ourselves.

The new story is about showing up for life the way we are. It’s about not hiding, not waiting until we are the perfect size to do the things we love to do. It’s about paying more attention to the beauty in life. It’s about finding joy everywhere.

The new story is about getting to know our own body as well as our closest friend or our most intimate lover. Because she is. Because we love our own body, we ask: What gives her energy? What makes her sick? What makes her want to dance? When we love our body, it is our joy to nourish her as best we can, eating healthy and exercising not to punish her for being too fat, but make her feel good. The new story is about feeding our body in a loving way and moving in a joyful way instead of dieting and exercising to punish her for being fat.

The new story is about balancing mind, body, and spirit. It’s about allowing ourselves pleasure in food in a way that does not hurt the body. It’s about relentlessly pursuing our dreams and resting when we need to. It’s about taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zone. It’s about finding our purpose, finding out what we do best.

The new story is also about shining our light into our darkness. It’s about learning the life lessons we’re here to learn. It’s about being human, about stumbling, falling, and getting up again. In the new story, we may still cry in the shower and have days of feeling hopeless. But we move on from a place of personal power, we accept and learn the lessons, we experience the pain and let it go. In the new story, we focus on the getting up again.

The new story is about knowing we are divinely loved and we deserve all the love, joy, and blessings this world has to offer, just as we are. It’s about forgiveness, ourselves and others, for our own peace of mind.

I’m writing my new story, accepting my humanness, riding the waves, finding joy, living in love, crying in the shower, having faith in divine Love. I’ve also been holding on to the old story, almost a badge of honor, an excuse: see all that I’ve been through.

It’s time to let go and live in the new story.

Are you ready to write a new story?

Day 30: Endings and New Beginnings


We made it!!! Thank you for hanging out with me the 30 day challenge, it’s been an amazing experience. I hope something I’ve said in the last 30 days has helped you, inspired you to take the first or next step in realizing your dreams. My deepest gratitude to the friends who have been with me every day of this journey, have kept me accountable, and supported me in this challenge.

I invite you to share with me in the comments or email to julie@julieannsorenson.com any subject that I’ve touched on that you’d like to hear more about on video, blog, in-person talk or workshop.