Take A Good Look In The Mirror

Who do you see yourself as? This is a loaded question BUT I think it is an important one that we need to ask ourselves.

Lately, I have been asking myself if I am the person that I want to be when it comes to both the inside and outside package? And if I am that person, can other people see it for themselves as well? Personally, I am starting to feel like I’m getting there in certain regards – yet in other areas not quite so much.

The topic I want to focus on with respect to the above noted comments begins with the what we see on the outside. This may at first seem superficial, but I can assure you it goes much deeper than what our eyes merely see – so please humor me and see where I am taking this post.

In short it is fair to say that my blog has captured my journey working on my mental health. This should come as no surprise given the name of my blog and to be honest I feel like I am actually on the cusp of becoming the physically and mentally stable version of myself that I have strived to achieve for over the past 6 years. Great news, right? Perhaps even fantastic news. Yet, there is a part of me that has not reflected this change and it is who I am looking at in the mirror, literally.

How we choose to dress, how we choose to style our hair, how we choose to groom ourselves – makeup or no makeup, shave or no shave? This has all been on my mind lately, not in a vain way but in the sense that I had to ask myself if I was whole heartedly presenting myself in a way that I felt showcased to the world who I was. My personal brand so to speak. Does my outward appearance reflect how I feel about myself inwardly? Never underestimate the power of a good outfit or hair cut. The psychological impact that our outward appearance has on our lives is immeasurable and should not be taken lightly.

Have you ever heard the phrase that you should “dress the part” or perhaps “dress for success”? Let’s be clear when I say that I am not suggesting you go out and buy a $2000.00 power suit to make you feel better about yourself – what you spend on your clothes or grooming has absolutely nothing to do with what I am talking about in this post. What I am saying though, is that part of our identity is how we outwardly present ourselves. Please let me emphasize how important it is to not neglect this very crucial and critical part of our identity (speaking from experience). Our objective should be dressing in a manner that allows us to take pride in our appearance and feel the utmost confidence.

So lets have some real talk about personal style and the impact it has on our identities – I’m emphasizing it’s importance, but to be honest at this point in my life I’ve come across a hard pill to swallow (which doesn’t happen often because I take tons of pills) – ladies and gentleman I do not have a personal style (it is presently a work in progress). Say what??

Believe it or not, I have changed since my early adolescence and early 20s. I have grown. I have evolved dare I say matured and yet I took notice that my wardrobe has remained the same and does not reflect this change. Perhaps, this is not a big deal for most people, but I think there is more than meets the eye (pun intended).

Next month I will be having my 28th birthday and as I am sure most people do, I was reflecting on the woman I have grown into the past year. When it came to my outward appearance, I concluded that I was jipping myself. Where had I gone? When I was in my earlier years I would definitely say I was a diva  – I loved me some glam on the daily BUT when I took attendance the past few weeks I realized that the young diva I once knew and loved had indeed retired and left the building. Not in a bad way, I just finally admitted that I no longer felt as diva-esque or connected to that version of me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this particular fact, it just means that I’ve changed – and yet the clothes I have been wearing contradicted this.

Having personal style, or perhaps to be more clear: a sense of self with how we appear, is a big deal. Not tiny, not insignificant BUT MUCHO GRANDE. Personal and may emphasize personal style helps us to feel more comfortable in our skin no matter what shape or size we are (more on this point later…). It grants us the ability to “hold our own”, a wee bit more then if we were just wearing any old thing with no rhyme or reason.

I’ve always strived and generally maintained a personal style, marching to the beat of my own drum from a very young age (I was in fashions class all through high school, fashion was in my blood). I dressed and felt killa’ confident in what I wore – I did not dress for society; to fit in with people or get their approval – or “likes” as is a plague in our present society. However, on this recent journey of self-reflection I realized that my essentially non-existent style was the makings of the past year(s) at a minimum. I have been swaying with no direction, I have been trying to fit into the versions of myself from a time when I did feel confident with my aesthetic, but that shoe no longer fit. For example, I have been wearing pieces this past year that perhaps I felt confident in 5 years ago but presently they cause me to feel insecure. Note: insecurity = what we don’t want.

Example time.

I previously wore lots of patterns and colours, is there anything wrong with that? Not at all, but what I’ve noticed is that when I recently paid attention to how I felt while looking in the mirror, I can easily say I feel more comfortable in natural tones and muted colours – cream, beige, brown, black, grey, soft pinks, greens and blues. If I am drawn to a print or pattern it is usually subtle and delicate rather than bright and bold.

My former style, when I owned it as I mentioned before was more diva-esque, bold, bright and dare I say loud. It was more on the street fashion side of things, however today in stark contrast the look I envision for myself and that I am working to achieve is more subtle, classic, timeless and at best chic.

Fun tip, a strategy that is helping me rediscover my style is words. I ask myself, what words do I want to emulate? This is a question you can ask yourself if you were like me drifting with no real direction for your aesthetic. When you have a handful of words see if they coordinate with one another or if there are any outliers and if there are maybe ponder the question, why? See if the words compliment your current wardrobe. I don’t have the answer for you, but I assure you that as you refine your words and zero-in on the look you want to achieve it won’t seem as daunting of a task, especially if you are like me starting from scratch.

My goal and objective as I enter a new year of my life is to invest in myself. I want to be more intentional when I take care of my outward appearance and pay attention to the fine details. A little off topic but another example of self care is that I started doing face masks once a week for the past 2 months and it’s amazing how such a small effort can impact your appearance and your frame of mind so drastically. A face mask people!! And I make this face mask from 2 kitchen ingredients in my kitchen, so you can guarantee I am not paying for this mask with my unborn child.

Anyways, what now? As is the case with any ambition, it requires work and effort. So, that is exactly what I have been putting in. Last weekend and week, I purged my wardrobe – clothes, shoes, belts, bags, sunglasses. Literally everything that I own was assessed and if the piece complimented and coincided with the aesthetic I am trying to achieve I kept it. If the piece did not align with who I want to present and represent myself as, it was placed in a pile to donate. I was cut-throat and brutally honest with myself. It is fair to say that my wardrobe shrunk dramatically, which at first scared me as I am used to having tons of clothes and accessories ** confessions of a former shop-a-holic ** I formerly had a walk in closet crammed full of things and now I have all my clothes fitting on a single bar holding very few select pieces.

The fear I initially felt was soon won over with a sense of accomplishment and peace. My vision was coming to life. My wardrobe was actually starting to reflect who I saw myself as. I can proudly say that it now contains pieces that I love and I know make me feel comfortable and confident when I wear them.

My wardrobe is not complete, let’s be clear about that (this is not a one-day feat), but it is going in the right direction. My focus will be to add to my collection BUT add with more intention, rather than buying a piece because its on sale. I want to ask myself if it compliments or detracts? Take a moment to think about the shift of perspective that your mind just had by reading the word “collection”, rather than clothes. Saying “collection” automatically makes me feel like my wardrobe has more umph and should be taken a bit more seriously and is worth investing in.

I have been researching articles and watching YouTube videos for inspiration and ideas on how to navigate more effective shopping. I want to invest in my collection a.k.a wardrobe and when I say invest, I mean buy timeless pieces. I also want to do my best to avoid fast fashion. I want to steer clear of spending money on pieces that can be worn a few times and then look shabby thereafter. I want to buy pieces that are made from good material and actually pay attention to the labels and dang-nab-it – dry clean if it says dry clean.

Going back to the concept of investing, you do not need to shop at high end stores to have well-made pieces. I am all for thrifting; I found an amazing Jones New York blazer for $8.00 that looks like a million bucks at my local Value Village. I dry cleaned it, pressed it and it looks like new. The blazer was a win, but let me remind you that the purpose of my shopping now is for quality not quantity – don’t get sucked into buying more because the price is right. I don’t want to be in the habit of buying something just because I like it in the moment. In the past I have literally bought something and then “had to” buy 3 additional different items so that I would have something to wear it with. Ummm?? No. How is that being friendly to your pocketbook?

Rewinding a bit, I want to clarify why there is a gap between my budding style now and the one I refer back to when I felt confident in my early adult life. I am turning 28… what happened to my style between 23-27. That my friends is the age bracket where I really feel like I lost and essentially let myself go. I was going thru school, I graduated and then I was working I was working on my health – but what of my exterior? I did something that I want to advise you not to do and if I could go back and talk to my younger self I would say as follows:

Weight does not make you or break you. You do.

After I started a certain medication, I gained an easy 40 lbs very quickly… welcome my ages 23-26. I lost my confidence, I felt terrible about myself and in frustration I threw in the towel. Don’t throw in the towel! I lost any desire to try and wear anything aside from gym clothes (even when I wasn’t going to the gym). When I would get ready for work, I would wear anything I could that I felt hid my weight and it didn’t have to necessarily be something I liked; whatever was baggy enough. I honestly, didn’t like who I saw in the mirror and rather than trying to work with what I had – I just stopped. I stopped doing my hair, I stopped wearing makeup, I just stopped caring about who I presented myself as AND my confidence suffered because of it.

Fast forward to when I was able to lose some weight, I was then trying to fit into clothes that I formerly wore and formerly felt confident in BUT as the long post went on to explain that just didn’t jive. I had mentally changed.

I just wanted to put it out there – style is not size specific and confidence is not reserved for petite waist-lines. I never want anyone reading my blog to feel insecure, that is not why I blog. I have always had a severe distortion when it comes to my weight and the value I place on my self because of it. At the end of the day my mantra over the past few years has been progress not perfection.

I am presently 20 lbs heavier than I would like to be BUT I feel beautiful. I feel confident. I feel great in my skin. I feel like I am putting my best foot and face forward regardless to my size and I am proud of who I see. I have noticed a huge impact on my mental health from just taking the time to care how I look – it has made me stop and take notice of myself and love myself a little more because I matter. The number on the scale doesn’t (as long as you strive to be healthy).

This journey to curate my wardrobe and aesthetic is exciting. I feel like I’m really paying attention to who I am in my entirety. I am taking in to account my lifestyle, my medications, my sleeping patterns – literally everything. Is it realistic for me to wake up and do a full face of makeup? Maybe for you, but for me that’s a hard no. Nor would I want to. Part of this fun journey is discovering how I like to wear my makeup – again. For now I’m thinking more minimal, while still looking polished and put together. Hair… that’s another story. My goal is to create a signature look that I can do with my eyes closed.

Let’s face it, I have bipolar. I have lows. I have days wear putting a look together is too much effort let alone having a shower or doing my hair. So, what I am trying to do is combat those days (or weeks) by putting in the effort now; curating my wardrobe, makeup and hair – so that I can pull together a look from top to bottom without trying on the days that life is a bit too much BUT please note: I will never surrender my sweatpants, there is a time and a place for all things my friends.

Long post with a lot of different avenues, but I hope you were able to see the bigger picture– care about how you look on the outside because believe it or not it dictates a lot of the inner voices we hear on the inside. Love yourself whatever size you may be and know that you have your own identity and that is priceless.

– Steph

2 Out Of 10

So I had a completely different post ready for today, alas this post came to my mind last night and was written this morning and I’m using it instead.

I have been in a bit of a weird mood lately and I think that has magnified some body issues that I have. It’s no secret I’ve battled with my weight especially since being medicated BUT as I mentioned in a previous post I’ve joined weight watchers and I am down 16 lbs which is huge win because I haven’t been able to drop anything after the 10lbs I lost on my own. You would think I’d be happy with this. Believe me – I am, but I know there is still 10-15lbs to go, thus I am not thrilled with where I am at. It’s not only that. I realized this past month or so that I’ve been killing myself with self talk in the worst way.

Self talk is some thing I’ve blogged about on many occasions and I firmly believe it can make a huge impact on your life. After my engagement photos I ripped my appearance apart. I cried when I saw the photos and I’m not sure if I’ve completely recovered. I’ve never wanted to get cosmetic surgery BUT after that photo shoot the idea crossed my mind on numerous occasions, I even looked into clinics in my city. Furthermore, one of my best friends just a had a minor procedure done. I’m never going to encourage someone to alter their appearance (she is gorgeous without it) BUT it made me want to do it myself.

I look thru social media on the daily and I think that’s also been messing with me. What’s real? What’s fake? What’s photoshopped? Whats not? It’s mind blowing the types of apps they have that alter your appearance. And the types of procedures available to get the “perfect look”.

I feel naive to be buying into the glam that some of these people have but I look at them and I look at myself and I’m like wow maybe I’m a 2 out of a 10. Maybe I’m not, but I’ve been talking to myself like I am.

I used to consider myself someone who was dressed on point, makeup and hair was on point and now – I rarely do my hair in a style, my make up is sub-par and my clothes remind me of a librarian. I think the fact I hate my sense of style is affecting my mood. Heck. I don’t even think I can say I have a style at this point.

To a degree I feel like I’ve lost part of my identity and maybe that’s why I’m so upset. I used to feel so inspired when I put together a look and now I drag my feet because I’m not happy with any of the outcomes. So then I think I’ll look online to find inspiration and BAM it makes me feel like I’m a 2 out of 10 again.

The more medicated I’ve become the less creative flaire I’ve had in so many aspects if my life. I’m calling myself out on it BECAUSE I want it to change. I want to be the girl up till 2 am designing and sewing because fashion was my life. I haven’t sewn in the past 3 years or sketched. Nada. When I go to design I draw a blank. I have no sense of style to build on. I feel like I’ve lost it all.

To add to it…. it’s not to blame but within my religion it’s encouraged to adhere to certain modesty standards and because I want my actions to reflect my faith I adhere to these standards (I haven’t always when I was younger) this makes certain styles and things that I’m drawn towards unacceptable. This is super frustrating and something I’ve struggled with. Like I said I haven’t always adhered to the standards and that’s probably when I liked my style the most as sad as it is to say. Right now I feel so bland. I feel like my selection is limited and consists of the same silhouettes which are boring in my eyes right now – maybe they won’t always be. Maybe it’s my mentality that is preventing me from seeing the style within my limits but I just feel stuck.

I feel like I have a mental block and it’s been there for a while and I’ve been putting it off, telling myself it’s not a big deal or it will sort itself out on its own. It hasn’t. And I’m unhappy with where I am.

At this point I feel like I’ve been a let down for my fiance. He loves me and tells me how beautiful I am BUT he has rarely seen me look completely put together. I think now that I am getting married and in this relationship there is a part of me that is saying “step up your game you have so much more to offer!” I’ve been so numb to expressing myself out side of this blog and writing and even then sometimes I struggle to post because I feel like I have nothing to say.

I feel like I don’t even know where to begin to pull myself out of this bleak hole. I just want to feel creative and comfortable with how I look again. I love me. I love myself. But my agonizing criticism isn’t reflecting that.

It’s important to have an identity with your appearance, and I think that’s why I’m so upset. I feel like I have no identity. I feel so uninspired.

I honestly just don’t even know.

I wish I had some positive outlook to express in this post but I’ve got NIL.

I think I’ll challenge myself to say one positive thing about myself for the rest of the month. I need to get a grip on my self talk and show myself a little more love. Right now my self talk isn’t cutting it. I know it’s a problem that if I don’t face will do damage and potentially ruin all the work I’ve done to have a happy loving relationship with myself. That’s a break up I don’t want.

I always encourage self love and I think that’s why I wanted to make this post. I don’t want to be a hypocrite and this is my journey, I am human and sometimes I fall off the wagon – which I have, and I am presently working to get back on it.

I don’t know my friends.

I guess chin up. I know I’ll come out on the other side. I’ll find my groove I’ll work on my creativity as silly as that sounds. Hopefully sooner than later. I’ll find some inspiration and I’m sure before I know I’ll feel like I can strut down a runway…. or not BUT it’s a nice idea.

I’m sorry if this post seems all over. I’m having a hard time keeping up with everything I’m thinking and I don’t know if it’s translating into a post that makes sense.

I have some serious work to do.

– Steph

Step One

  
Such beautiful words. With so much truth behind them. 

A new week is upon us, with infinite opportunities and all we need to do is take the first step. We don’t need to know the entire staircase, we don’t need to know how long before we reach the top – all we need to know is that we will reach it if we take one step at a time (sometimes we may even take 2 or 3 steps depending on the day)

Has anyone ever done the stairmaster – it’s a creation designed to torture mankind… just kidding it’s a glorious machine that can create buns of steel BUTT …. I mean BUT in order to do that you need to take the first step on it’s never ending staircase. Sometimes the goal is 50 flights of stairs sometimes it’s 100, sometimes it’s 20 minutes and sometimes it’s until you can’t feel your legs any more. Regardless to the goal, the only way to succeed is to take the first step and then taking it one step at a time subsequently. 

This week take the first step towards a goal you’ve been dreaming about starting. Just do it. Take the first step to loving yourself a little better. Take the first step to going for a walk outside to get some fresh air ( there have actually been studies that tell us having exposure outside for 10 minutes can improve our mood… fancy fact… I’m not saying it will cure the mood but it may help even just a little… Something to do with the uv rays)

Take the first step to change. Take the first step to improve. Take the first step to treat yourself better (and make sure others treat you better too). Take the first step to find your self worth, for yourself. Take the first step and then take it one step at a time after. Breathe and pace yourself. You can do it.

Here’s to a new week of new opportunities, all we need to do is take the first step. And as you go up the staircase just think how strong you are becoming with each new step – each step is redefining who you are and what you are capable of and don’t forget it.

– Steph

All You Need To Do Is Breathe

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Today is a work free day.

And sometimes we need to take days like today. No To Do Lists, No micro managing time, No appointments, No engagements to attend, No people to host, No expectations for being productive, No spending money… etcetera etcetera

Literally a day where all we are obligated to do is breathe. Isn’t that a scary nice thought. These days may be few and far in between BUT I think it’s important that when they occur we embrace them.

I read an article once about people who are literally addicted to “being busy”. Addicted … and what are the symptoms that illustrate such an addiction? Sadness and inadequacy… individuals who thrive off being busy, feel like they are a let down if every minute of every day isn’t filled with a task. “Me Time” is a waste of time. A waste of productivity.

Honestly, I think there are times when I get caught up and take my schedule to an unhealthy place (as mentioned above)… where the feeling is … that if I’m not doing something I’m a let down and lazy. BUT the reality is – I’m not.

I’ve read a lot of books about self- improvement and success and there is always a common recommendedation between all authors… and it’s “Me Time” at least an hour a day dedicated to oneself. Aside from the authors suggesting it, my doctors have also reiterated to me. Self care and that means learning to breathe, learning that things don’t have to be going 100 miles/min to show we are capable of life. Learning that our value is not based on our timetable. That’s how we burn out. How we raise anxiety. And just miss out on life in general. Life can’t be micro-planned & managed ….because life happens.

Obviously everyday can’t be a vacation, but you should give yourself a day every now and then. Just to breathe. For instance my cleaning will be done tomorrow, it could get done today BUT heck to the heazy NO! Today is just a breathe in and breathe out go with the flow day… I’ll schedule it in tomorrow.

I’ve been laying in my hammock writing this post enjoying the warm weather and listening to the water fountain in the lake behind my house. It’s peaceful and beautiful and my only responsibility is to enjoy it without looking at my watch.

Happy Wednesday,
Take In & Let Out a deep breath for me 🙂

– Steph

Make a Move Monday! (2)

Positive Fitness

(Photo Credit: BuzzFeed)

 

Week 1 was a success! I am so proud of my sister E! Monday – Friday at the gym with me & Saturday we did our 5 hr hiking adventure! We will be doing our measurements at the end of week 2 (Just a heads up). Biking and boxing were a go for me … up until I was rained out (cons of hanging my bag outside) BUT I’m back at it with the sunshine this week.

Quickly I want to say I love this quote! It’s something I try to remind myself and my sister(s) of constantly AND you should remind yourself of it too! (if you forget don’t fret I will always be here to remind you, I got cho’back) This quote aligns with the notion of positive thinking AND believe me you will get so much further in life when you are kind to yourself.

How much easier do you think it would be if you went to work out thinking, “WOW, I’m AWESOME! Not only have I taken my health into my own hands BUT I’m about to enhance my gorgeous self into an even more GORGEOUS HEALTHY SELF DAY BY DAY! DANG I’m goooood!” Alright… alright! That may seem overly peppy but I’m sure you get my point. I’d so much rather motivate myself to work out thinking positive thoughts about myself as opposed to “I’m so gross, I can’t even stand to look at myself, there’s no way I’ll ever be beautiful, if I work out maybe I’ll be able to change all of this ugly… yah, I need to go workout because I hate everything about me” This is another extreme perspective. Honestly I’ve had both BUT the voice in my head that has kept me going to the gym for this past year has been the first one. Having a self love. A respect for myself and all the potential I have. Embracing the way my body is naturally (CURVEY) and working to enhance those features erase them. BE CONFIDENT with your unique package you offer, YOU are absolutely beautiful and when you finally let yourself accept that truth… motivation to embrace a healthier version of yourself will come that much more easier.

Sometimes its a slow process… for example I like my nose. That may sound silly but it’s the truth. I have my mothers nose and I love it. Take a look at yourself, and if you need to take small steps towards loving yourself – do it! Maybe you have amazing nails. Maybe your hair is in the same league as Rapunzel’s. Maybe you have amazing looking toes! Or your eyes could mesmerize an entire army! Start small if you have to BUT start! Let yourself see the magic that transpires from loving yourself into a healthier happier you!

 

The joy I feel in my heart when my sister looks at me with determination to finish an exercise she never thought she’d be able to do in the first place; priceless. The joy I’ve felt when my sister has told me she’s starting to feel more confident in herself and she has confidence in her ability to reach her health goals; priceless. She is beginning to look at herself in a different light, I always tell her “We don’t work out because we hate our bodies, We workout because we love them.” Remember that and keep at it! Slow and steady, remember a step no matter how small is still progress and you need to give yourself some credit for it.

With that my dearly beloved, I’m off to the gym with E right now to have a late night pump! Enjoy and Happy Fitness!

-Steph