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"Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime's work, but it's worth the effort." 
-Mister Rogers

I've been calling home more often, and visiting, too. Last year, I went an entire year before I went home for a visit, and by the time I did, my heart hurt. It had been entirely too long. But, it took a mistake like that, to illuminate the truth to me. I need my family. No man (or woman) should be an island. And, this is is not the only "truth" that has been revealed to me in the past year. I've been on a "self-concept mission". I declared it, privately, to myself in my journal in January. Now, I'm okay with sharing that this mission for self-conception will be an ongoing one...and it feels really good!

I have been questioning EVERYTHING. Analyzing my past decisions:
In the past, I've lost myself in work, money, obligation. I've buried myself in academic pursuits, literary goals, spiritualism. I've run away from intimate friendships, and clung to corporate ladders. I've sacrificed "self" for acceptance. I've chosen to accept hurt, and I've also chosen to grant forgiveness. I've made some beautiful pieces of art, and given them away. I've written some interesting stories, and shared them. My life is a collection of decisions that have been clear and sometimes convoluted; savvy and sometimes simple-minded. But, what I have embraced is this truth:

In my entirety, I like me.

In fact, I am learning to LOVE me. I say I'm "learning", because I know it will be a process. I'm still not as kind to myself as I should be. I still look for flaws, and capitalize on them in the mirror. I still doubt, and question, and negate my own positive forward motion, at times. But, I'm learning...and I'm growing, and like I said, I like me. I'm falling in LOVE with me.

I am a girl who sometimes finds it hard to listen, because I'm so busy trying to think of a solution to your situation. I always want to help.

I am a person who will laugh as loud as the situation demands, even if I'm told it's too loud for the situation I'm in. (Examples include, "G'yall, Miss Hillary...you sure do laugh LOUD." Mason, Age 12, at the movies in December.)

I feel and express love with my entire being. Those who have experienced this love can explain it better than I can, I bet.

I'm quirky, and soft-hearted. My feelings can easily be hurt, and I'm learning, again, how to protect them. Sometimes it feels like my emotions are in technicolor, and the rest of the world is in monochrome. I feel misunderstood, raw, incomprehensible. I'm beginning to understand that there are more people out there, just like me...and we sort of find kindred spirits in one another. I believe if you are reading this, you're probably in technicolor, too.

In the past I was brash, and loud, and self-righteous. I thought hateful thoughts, and I said hurtful things. I'd engage in competition, and try and "one up" ex-girlfriends, varsity adversaries, even girls on the dance floor. More recently, I've become humble, meek, and rather self-conscious. I believe there is a nice place of balance between the two and I intend to find it.

I don't envy, anymore. I used to...and I'd say I didn't. Now, when I find envious thoughts creeping into my mind, I convert them into positivity, by complementing the person, either out loud or in my mind. (Something like, "Nice work, lil' Mama...your body is BANGIN'"...when I see a girl with an outrageous bikini body, etc.) Then, I'll see it as proof-positive, that those sorts of things can be achieved and manifested in my own life. (Like, "See, Hill? You can have that sort of body, too....you just have to invest the time and energy to do so.")

Yesterday, I was flipping through the channels on the TV, just looking for something I could "ignore" in the background. You know, like a constant hum, that accompanies you as you work through your day? Well, I ran across one of those Christian Stations, and Naomi Judd was being interviewed. What she said was essentially this, "The number one cause of mental illness is not knowing who you are and you can't know who you are if you don't spend time honoring yourself, and living in the present." She said the way we should honor ourselves, is by devoting time to being "silent" and "in the Word". I have to agree. This is EXACTLY why I've been able to come to the epiphanies about myself that I have this year. 

Every morning, I've made a point to get up 2 hours early so that I can spend the first 30 minutes (to an hour) of my day reading a devotional or other uplifting material. Then, if I am moved to, I journal about my thoughts on the matter. Once that is finished, and while these positive and uplifting things are fresh on my mind, I pop in a DVD (lately, it's been Winsor Pilates) and I devote 30 minutes (to an hour) to my physical being. While I'm "going through the motions" I make sure to smile, or remind myself that what I am doing is healthy, positive, and good for me. The most gratifying part, beyond the self-concepts that are being revealed, are the health effects that are becoming evident. 

I have more energy.
I smile and laugh more often, even in times of mental stress.
My body is literally changing its shape. Not in a dramatic way, but in a subtle, personal way. What once was hidden is now being revealed. Lines and muscles are making themselves seen. 
I look in the mirror and smile at what I am seeing develop.

The other day, I actually looked myself in the eyes, in the mirror, and said, "You are doing such a good job. I am so proud of you." I made a point to stand there for a few minutes and just look at myself, right in the eyes. If you have never done this, it's fairly uncomfortable. I've only honestly done that a handful of times in my life...but, this is the first time I can recall looking into my own eyes and saying something positive and gratifying and true. I highly recommend it. 

We have to spend time honoring ourselves. Getting to know ourselves. Loving ourselves, and perpetuating that love to one another.

I like what Sark says about the matter, 
"Treat yourself as kindly as you do your Best Friend.
Drench your self in self-kindness! 

Women are very good at shining kindness outward, yet if you ask how kind they are to themselves, they often cry. 

Turn the kindness spotlight inward.

Before we can move to healthier ways, we must be where we actually are.

Radical self-acceptance is a connecting, soft, slow and compassionate way of being. We can help each other. 

When you see your "sister" beating up on herself, take her weapons away and just hold her."

I did this just the other day. My friend was making some sort of comment about how "disgusting" and "fat" she was, and I just flat out said to her, "Don't talk about my friend like that." We both laughed about it, but also saw the truth. I wouldn't accept someone else saying something like that about her...so, why should I accept it when she says it about herself?

Learning to luxuriate in where we are RIGHT NOW as we are RIGHT NOW, is a really lovely thing. Allowing ourselves to be quirky, emotional, excitable, loud, timid, shy, or even silly, is simply practicing the same sort of acceptance and grace that you grant to others. 

Yesterday, someone told me I was being too energetic. It hurt me, deeply. In the past, I would have internalized this, and saw it as "another flaw" that I needed to correct. And, in all honesty, the instant that this person said this to me, I became very quiet and withdrawn. The difference, this time, was that the place inside to which I withdrew, is now a much kinder place. 

So, instead of beating myself up for being too full of energy, and for vibrating at a different frequency, I kindly allowed myself to smile, and laugh and say to myself, "I like the energy with which I'm living. I like the vibrations I'm putting out. I'm proud of myself. I don't see any reason to change."

Because I like me. 
And, I am fighting to preserve the sweetness and the purity within. I'm not going to submit to self-destructive thoughts.

I like me, and I'm not afraid to sit quietly with myself and "have a talk". 

My quiet time is sacred, my personal exercise time is a set appointment. They are a set and solid part of my day. Nothing encroaches upon them. They are too valuable a part of my life, now, to lose. This "self-concept" mission has only just begun...and I seriously look forward to it every day, and "miss it" when I miss it! 

What sorts of things are you doing for yourself? What sorts of things are you doing for someone else? Take a moment and list all the things you do during the week, and write next to each one if that activity is for you, or someone else. Working is for someone else. Balancing the checkbook is for someone else. Driving in the car-pool is for someone else. 

Count up how much time you spend doing for other people. Helping other people. Listening to other people. Then, count out how much you really do for yourself. It doesn't take much to fill our cups back up. Just an hour or so. But, we really should do it. 

As Naomi Judd says, "I've had women tell me that when their daughters see them taking care of themselves, and being defined from within, and thinking for themselves instead of thinking about that silly culture out there, it's powerful modeling."

Let's make a promise to take care of ourselves. Let's set out on a mission to know ourselves. Let's begin to embrace our own uniqueness. Let's help one another do that. 

Let's begin a Self-Conception Revolution.

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