All Of the Things I Am Not – Leading With the Negative

There are countless things that I am not:

  • A good cook
  • Patient
  • Nurturing
  • Good with directions
  • Wealthy
  • Able to hide my emotions
  • A good housekeeper
  • Responsible with money

…the list goes on.  I recently found myself not only recounting all of the things I’m not to someone, but also focusing on them, in a negative way, in my own time.  What’s that about!?  That is not productive behavior and it is certainly not Owning It!

Yes, there are many things that I am not, and there are many things that I can’t do (I can’t slam dunk a basketball, I can’t bake a Martha Stewart worthy wedding cake, I can’t sculpt a masterpiece out of clay…) but who cares about that stuff?  Why am I not thinking about, and focusing on, all of the things that I AM?  I am a good friend, a caring person, a hard worker, strong, determined, successful, funny, honest, trustworthy…those are great qualities!  Why am I focusing on things like the fact that I can’t cook?  Why is that what I tell people?  Why do we so often lead with the negatives?

Let me ask you a question.  When someone pays you a compliment, what do you do? What is your first reaction?  Is it to shrug it off, downplay it, or deny it?  Be honest.  I know those are my first reactions.  “You look really nice in that dress, Annie.”  My response should be “Thank you!” but instead it’s an insecure look down, or in a mirror, and a shrug, an eye roll, and a comment about some insecurity, “Oh, it makes my hips look wide.”  Good god, why do so many of us do this?  Does this go back to the crazy beauty standards we see thrown at us every day?  Or is it that we don’t want to appear arrogant or conceited?  Either way, it’s messed up!  “You look really nice in that dress,” does NOT mean I should immediately compare myself to the model I saw wearing the dress in an ad.  Do I look like the model?  No.  Does that mean the dress doesn’t look nice on me?  NO.  Saying “Thank you,” to that compliment does not mean I’m conceited and think that I look better than anyone else.  It means that I took the time to choose this dress and put it on because at some point, I liked the way it felt and looked, and the fact that someone is acknowledging what I kind of already hoped to be true anyway should be met with gratitude, not self-deprecation.

Do you notice it when you talk to your friends?  Do you notice yourself dong it?  Do you notice your friends doing it?  How do you feel when you tell your friend she looks great and she rolls her eyes and says something negative?

Why do we lead with the negatives?  Why do we think that we should hide our confidence?  These are terrible habits that get in the way of each one of you being able to Own Your You.  Owning who you are and embracing who you are does not take away from anyone else.  So often we shortchange ourselves in order to make sure others have enough (any moms out there – you KNOW I’m talking to you!) but the rest of us often do it too.  It’s important to us that our friends and family have enough – enough whatever it is at that point in time – and so we sometimes hold back, take less, give more, etc. to ensure others are not wanting.  That’s ok, in moderation, but I believe that it flows over into things like this and starts affecting our confidence.

Have you ever heard, or said, something like “Yeah, I can do that, but Jess does it better,” or “Thanks, I do like this dress, but Sara’s really got the legs for it, not me.”  These are both examples of us trying to still give more to our friends and family.  Give more praise, give more credit…more something.  Maybe Sara does have legs that would look great in that dress, and maybe Jess does have skill at something that you also do, but does accepting compliments on YOUR stuff diminish them in any way?  No.  Does Jess do X any less well because you acknowledged that you did a good job at it?  No.  Do Sara’s legs look any less fantastic because you accepted a compliment on a dress that she isn’t even wearing?  NO!  Let’s stop this madness, friends.  We are all allowed to do well, be good at something, feel good about ourselves…this does not diminish or take away from anyone else around us.

Let’s break these habits.  Let’s tell the world about all of the things we ARE and all of the things we CAN do.  Let’s put on our favorite outfit and Own It!


Settling. Stop doing it!  Find the love you deserve!

I’d like to address an epidemic in our society.  An epidemic of settling.  People seem to settle for everything.  It starts off with something small, but that sets the stage for more settling.

Have you ever been to a restaurant and ordered your meal and gotten something not exactly what you ordered?  Have you ever just accepted it – settled for it – and eaten it because it was easier and less disruptive than sending it back?  Probably.  I mean, if you are a vegetarian and they brought you a steak, I would assume that you’d send that piece of flesh back to the kitchen, or if you are allergic to dairy and they bring you big plate of cheese fries, I assume that heaping plate of gooey goodness went straight back.  But if it’s just a little off – like you didn’t want artichoke hearts in your salad but it came with artichoke hearts anyway – are you just going to pick them out (or even just eat them) because it’s less hassle than sending it back?  I think chances are good that many of you – me included! – will just eat, or pick out, the artichoke hearts and move on with our meal.

Guess what just happened?  We just settled for something that we didn’t really want – it was close to what we wanted, what we deserved (since we’re paying for it!), but not quite there.

Big deal, you may be saying to yourself.  Pick out the damn artichoke hearts and let it go!  Yes, I see your point, it’s just one salad, it’s just a few artichoke hearts.  But artichoke hearts may be the gateway drug to settling for bigger things.  Think about it: what else have you settled for?  Have you ever REALLY wanted to do something, say, go on a scuba diving vacation to the Florida Keys?  And you suggest the idea to someone (best friend, significant other, whoever your go-to travel partner is) and they’re on board and they’re excited and you start planning this fantastic scuba diving vacation.  And then, somewhere during the planning, they discover that scuba diving is a little more expensive than they had expected and they actually can’t afford that, but how about you guys just go parasailing one day and chill out on the beach the other days?  What do you do now?  You’re already in the middle of planning this trip, you’ve picked dates, you’ve booked flights, your travel partner is excited…and, I mean, you still get to take a vacation and go to the Keys and sitting on the beach sounds really good, and parasailing looks like a lot of fun…so do you settle for this vacation?  It’s a great vacation but it’s not what you wanted, what you planned on.  But, settling for this vacation will make your travel partner happy and, sure, you could go scuba diving by yourself, but you wanted to share it with someone and you don’t really want to just leave your friend alone while you go do that…so, you convince yourself that this vacation is good enough and you go.  And you have a good time.  But you don’t go scuba diving.  You don’t get out of it what you wanted to get out of it.  You settled.

Over time, we’ve learned that settling is just part of life.  You compromise, you make trade-offs.  You sometimes settle for things that aren’t exactly what you want because, hey, life isn’t perfect!  And eventually that translates into settling in your relationships.  And eventually you wake up 5 or 10 years into a relationship wondering how you got there and how you ended up with this person who doesn’t actually make your heart skip a beat, who doesn’t actually meet your needs, who you aren’t actually happy with.  You ended up there because you slowly started settling.

Here’s the one line bullet-point summary of this entire (extremely long) post:

  • Stop Settling!

You have a checklist.  It’s ok to admit that, everyone has one.  It doesn’t have to be a long, specific, overly-detailed thing, but there are things, qualities, characteristics that you look for, that are important to you.  Your list may include things like: must be kind, compassionate, love kids, be loyal, have a sense of humor, love to cook, want to see the world, love to read, be from a big family…whatever is important to you.

Then you meet someone.  There’s a spark.  You seem to hit it off.  You find out that Honey is an only child.  Ok, so what?  That’s not a big deal.  You cross “be from a big family” off your list, I mean, after all, it’s not like Honey has any control over that!  Things go along and you get involved and start leaving toothbrushes and pajamas at each other’s place.  You find out that Honey hates to read and never read anything except for work emails.  Huh.  Ok, I mean, that’s not a big deal, really.  So you’ll talk to your friends about the books and articles you’ve been reading and find interesting.  It’s not like you guys have to like ALL of the same things.  Now you’re really involved, you’re practically living together.  Things are great.  You don’t go to all of your family’s gatherings because Honey gets overwhelmed by all of the siblings and cousins and general familial chaos.  But that’s fine, I mean, you can see your family whenever and they do hold a lot of get-togethers, what’s the big deal if you don’t go to ALL of them for the whole day?  Eventually you and Honey tie the knot.  This is great!  This is everything you wanted!  Well, except for the things you don’t really share with Honey because Honey doesn’t really like those things…but everything ELSE is great!  For your honeymoon you go…nowhere, because Honey doesn’t actually like to travel and has no interest in seeing the world.

Do you see where I’m going?  I’m guessing one day you wake up and realize that Honey isn’t actually the one for you.  You settled without even realizing it.  I’m guessing Honey stopped giving you butterflies somewhere around the time you first took them to a family event and they didn’t like it.  And you justified that because who really gets the butterfly thing after the first few dates, anyway? Right?

Does any of this sound familiar?

Guess what?  You deserve better!  You deserve someone who meets your needs, who gives you butterflies, who has the traits and characteristics that are important to you.

In order to find this person you have to do ONE thing:  Love yourself first.  When you love yourself, you know your worth and you know that you deserve all of the things you want.  You love yourself enough to NOT settle for less.

Love yourself, fill your life with what you love, make the plans you want, live the life YOU want.

Your true love is out there.  Your true love isn’t someone who will complete you.  Your true love isn’t someone who will fill in the emptiness in your life.  Your true love isn’t someone who will save you from anything.  Your true love is someone who will complement you and will fit into the full life you’ve already built for yourself.

I know this is a lot of words, and a lot to take in, so I’ll wrap it up with this, your challenge:  think about what you want, what you love, what you need.  Start building THAT life.  Start thinking about how to build YOUR life.

It might be scary, it might be overwhelming.  Start with something small.  Do you always go to a certain restaurant even though you don’t really like it just because it’s familiar or your friends or partner love it?  Find a restaurant YOU love and go there.  That’s simple.  You can do that.  Build on that.  Find the things that you love, that bring you joy, and do them!

It may be a slow process, but it will be worth it.  You deserve to love your life.  When you have built the life you want, your true love, the person who will complement you and fit into your already-full life will turn up.  You won’t even have to look for them.  They’ll just be there.

True love.  It’s out there and you deserve it.  In order to find it, you have to Own Your You, love yourself, and live YOUR life.

The Sun Still Rises

Life just threw me a pretty major curve ball.  One I hadn’t really accounted for.  My husband decided he can’t do this anymore, and ended our marriage.  Just like that.  He decided this is what he wanted, there was no discussion.  Talk about a twist in my path!  I’m still struggling with all of the emotions that come with this…sadness, confusion, anger…and it’s tough.  I’m not going to pretend, either for my sake or for yours, that it’s not.  I didn’t get married, just two years ago, thinking that we would come to an end.  Certainly not like this, and certainly not after only two years.  But here we are.

It happened on a Saturday earlier this month.  I felt confused and lost and sad on Saturday night.  Sunday was a bit of a blur, but I had a lot of work to do, so I focused on that.

But as it always does, Monday morning came, and the real world was staring me in the face.  As I was driving to my morning yoga class, I looked to my left, as I always do at this time of year, to marvel at the colors of the sky as the sun makes its way over the horizon.  And suddenly, this surreal Monday, I had this thought: the sun still rises.

Yes, I’m going through some stuff, and it’s hard.  And yes, my personal world has been tipped on its end.  And whatever plan I thought I had has changed.  But the sun still rises.  Things will always get better.

I have no doubt that I will be just fine…more than fine, actually!  I will get through this and continue my journey.  I have no doubt that there will be times during this period where I will wonder how to do that, how to keep going on my journey, how to be confident that I’m on my rightest path.  But, I also know that every single morning, I can look out and see the sun.  The world keeps turning, life keeps moving, and I keep working on me.

This is part of my journey now, it’s becoming part of who I am (a divorcee…seriously?), and I am going to have to learn to own it, to own me.  This is the next chapter in my life.  I think I’ll title it The Sun Still Rises.  And I’m going to own it!  I’ve got a whole new journey ahead of me, one I had never considered, and one I can turn into anything I want.  I’m going to embrace it!

My message to anyone who is struggling, who is going through some tough times, who feels a little overwhelmed or lost is simple:  Please know that whatever life hands you, you CAN handle it.  You are strong enough, you are smart enough, you are capable enough.  You can take any punches that life throws at you and you can keep on moving forward.  You are allowed to have sad days, you are allowed to have angry days, you are allowed to have whatever it is that you need, just know that you will come out of whatever your situation is as a stronger person who has amazing things to experience.

Your path won’t always be what you expect, your journey won’t always take you where you thought you wanted to go.  That’s ok.  Embrace the change.  Love the journey.  Live your life.  Own Your You.

Perfectly Imperfect – My Musings on Body Image and Beauty

Body image.  Ugh.  What a horrible topic.  But let’s just dive right in.  (oh, also, I’m back! Thanks to those of you who stuck around even though I haven’t posted in an embarrassingly long time!)

Body image has always been something I’ve struggled with.  It’s something that most women, (and men, too) I believe, struggle with.  It seems impossible NOT to struggle with this.  We’re bombarded each and every day with thousands of images of beauty and perfect and what we should aspire to.  (I know I’m only about the 4,103,381,193rd person to write about this topic, so I may not be saying anything new or earth-shattering – BUT I might say something that actually hits home with someone, and that’s why I’m going to continue with this topic.)

So, let’s just take a minute and look at the standards of beauty that we are supposed to a) believe are real and attainable and b) aspire to.  Perfectly toned EVERYthing; perfectly proportioned hips, waist, bust, neck, thighs, arms…; perfectly straight and gleaming white teeth; perfectly coiffed hair (sleek, curly, tousled…whatever the style, it’s got to be perfectly pulled off); perfectly sculpted chin, cheekbones, collar bones…; perfect, blemish-free skin.  And that’s just the start.

Now let’s take a look at who our role models for this level of attainable perfection are, who we can look to for guidance, support, advice on how to reach this perfect beauty.  Oh, wait…there is no one because that level of perfection is only attainable though artificial means.  Thank you, PhotoShop.

By now we’ve all seen multiple articles, memes, and videos of the lengths that people go to in order to project this image of perfection.  We all know that what we’re seeing isn’t real…but it LOOKS so real!  It’s insanely difficult to look at photos in magazines and NOT compare yourself to them.  I get it.  I do it!  I get frustrated with myself because I’m doing it…and I get frustrated with myself because I’m not attaining it!  How messed up is that?

Here’s what I’m doing to counter this epidemic of false beauty and poor body image for us “regular” women.  I’m no longer commenting on how pretty, skinny, etc. Celebrity X is.  I’m no longer looking at magazine photos as anything more than an advertisement for a product or a celebrity personality.  I am looking around me, and the real women I see in my daily life, and focusing on their beauty.  Their real-life, day-to-day imperfect perfection.  I’m talking about the women who live each day to the fullest: they get up each day and say, “I’ve got this.  Today is going to be.  And I’m going to live it.”

It doesn’t matter what today is going to be.  Not every day is perfect, not every day is a party…but every day IS.  And you don’t have to love everything about every day, but you do have to live it.

I’m talking about the women who MAKE each day one they want to live.  They have a love, a passion, a goal.  They have hobbies and friends and family who bring them joy.  I’m talking about the women who may not get to the gym as often as they’d like, they may have baby food in their hair at noon, or they may be in a stressful board meeting at dinner time, but when girls’ night comes, they throw on their Spanx and their LBD and they OWN IT.  They MAKE their lives what they want them to be, and they are happy.   And that’s where their beauty comes from.

Beauty comes from living a life you love, surrounding yourself with love and positive energy, and exuding joy.  Those are the women I look up to.  Those are my role models for beauty.

Those are the women who should inspire us, those are the women we should look to as role models.  I’d like this to be the beauty we all strive for.  We are all beautiful.  YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.  I’d like to challenge each of you to find at least one real person each day who you find beautiful…whatever defines beauty for you – courage, kindness, generosity, etc. and focus on that for a few minutes.  You can tell the woman you think she’s beautiful if you want, but you don’t have to.  This isn’t a challenge to put anyone in an awkward social situation or to be creepy, but it’s a challenge to redirect your ideas of beauty and perfection.

Imperfectly perfect.  That’s what we all are.  Part of my journey has been to accept that.  It’s time to own it.  It’s time to Own Your You.

Fake it!

The hardest part about Owning Your You is believing it.  Believing that you are good enough, capable enough, etc. to do what you want to do.  It’s hard to change how you view yourself, you’ve spent your whole life thinking about yourself in a certain way; for many of us, that “certain” way includes a fair amount of negativity and self doubt.  I’m not as smart as her.  I’m not as pretty as her.  I’m not as talented as her.  I can’t do what she does.  I’m not.  I can’t.  I’m not.  I can’t….

After years of the “not” and “can’t” commentary in your head, no wonder it’s so hard to break out of that and start to think “I AM” and “I CAN!”

But I have good news.  There is a way to start acting like you are and you can: Fake it! Yes.  Fake it.

You see, perception is reality.  Think about that for a second.  Perception is reality.  If other people perceive you as being confident and capable (or whatever else you want to portray) then in their eyes you ARE confident and capable.  They believe it if you act like you believe it, too.  Eventually, their perception of you is that you are confident and capable – repeat that last part: you ARE confident and capable.  It’s often true that a big part of our negative feelings about ourselves are a result of what we believe that other people think about us.  Well, then, the opposite is also true.  If we believe that people think we are confident and capable, we will begin to believe that ourselves until, eventually, you’re not faking it anymore…you’re believing it…you are Owning It!

The next time you are in a situation where you want to be successful, where you want to be capable (again, these are my examples, use whatever skill/trait that YOU struggle with and want to improve on) take a minute before you enter that situation and remind yourself to act the way you want to be perceived.  Remind yourself to fake it.

You’re on your way to Owning Your You.  Be proud of that.

Fleeting Crazy

I’m not a writer. I love to read. I love to write. But I am not a writer. I have friends who are amazing writers, and some of them are also amazing bloggers.  They can just see/hear/feel something and WRITE about it.  In a way that is in engaging, humorous, honest, and meaningful.  I tend to ramble.  I have realized that I put short bursts of thoughts down, but struggle with expanding on them without a defined end result.

Great.  Another blogger who can’t write.  Just what the internet needs, right? I know! I couldn’t agree more.  The reason I’m taking this leap is that, while I can’t churn out beautiful, deep, thought provoking prose on cue, I can talk to people about their concerns, issues, thoughts, etc. – what I call their “Crazy.”  I have always been a person my friends know that they can come to for honest, no-nonsense advice.  I have referred to myself as the “Crazy Wrangler” on more than one occasion when friends have come to me with their current Crazy and asked me to help them rein it in…or wrangle it.  I can do this; I love doing this.  I want to do this for you.

Therefore, this blog, my blog is at the mercy of you.  Yes YOU.  I can’t do this without you.  I need your questions, situations, drama…I need your Crazy.  I want to help you Own Your You.

We’ve all got a little bit of Crazy in us.  Some of us have a lot of Crazy in us.  It’s all ok.  It’s who we are.  It’s your Crazy that makes you YOU.  It’s your Crazy that makes you interesting.  Don’t be afraid of your Crazy.  Own it.  Thrive with it, in spite of it, or because of it…whatever makes sense for you.

Of course, every now and then, we experience a Fleeting Crazy – a situation that normally doesn’t affect us turns us into crazy, obsessive, over-thinking, over-reacting creatures that we don’t even recognize!  This kind of Crazy is ok, too.  It’s normal.  And I’m here to help you acknowledge it and work through it.

I had a bout of Fleeting Crazy recently.  I generally am fairly confident and try to be positive about things…except when I’m not.  I started comparing some of my work to that of some other talented, and more experienced, people.  Their work is amazing.  I was comparing and found myself severely lacking.  I was feeling very mopey and “woe-is-me” for the better part of a day.  I hate feeling that way.  I acknowledged it, but I could not get myself out of it.  I turned to two of my friends and just told them how I was feeling and why I was feeling that way.  I didn’t ask them to fix it, I didn’t ask them to make me feel better, and I certainly didn’t ask them to shower me with false compliments.  I just said this is what I’m feeling, and this is why.  And, being the amazing friends that they are, they knew exactly what to say.  They did not fill my head with flowery words and tell me that I’m the absolute best thing in the world and there is no one better – they were honest.  They told me they understood, they’ve felt that way before, and they gave me their honest feedback on my work (fortunately they do like my work, so that helped!) and it helped.  I felt better.  I am not “fixed,” I will still have moments of doubt, moments of harsh self-criticism, moments where I contemplating throwing in the towel.  But I know that’s my Fleeting Crazy, and I know if I need help getting through it, help is just a call or email away.

Oh, Crazy.  You do make life interesting.

It’s a Journey.

What does that mean? Own Your You.  It’s just three words that kind of sound the same. It makes no sense.  You could rearrange them and say “Your Own You” but that’s not what I want to say.  What I’m saying is: Own. Your. You.  It’s a directive.  I’m telling you to do something.  (I know, who the heck am I to be telling you to do anything?  I’ll get to that later, I promise.  Bear with me for now, though, please).  What I’m telling you to do is be yourself: who you are – who you really are – and own it. Love it. Don’t hide it.  Don’t apologize for it. Own it. 

It sounds simple enough, right?  Sadly it is not.  We’re all human which means we are impressionable – particularly at a young age, which is when we start to see and hear and learn what is acceptable, what is normal, what we should be, think, feel, do.  What this means is that many of us struggle to be, think, feel, and do the things we are supposed to do.  This means it’s easy to lose or forget who we really are, or who we really want to be.  Or, if you are lucky enough to know these things, you often feel guilty or embarrassed by it.  There are people who are lucky enough to not feel that way; who truly do own who they are.  Fearlessly, peacefully, honestly.  To those people, I say: Congratulations!  To those of you who are trying to get to that point, I say: Congratulations!  Congratulations on knowing where you are and thinking about where you want to be and working on getting there. 

Now, as promised, I’m coming back to why you should listen to me when I tell you to Own Your You.  It’s because you matter.  You deserve to be able to live the life you want, being who you are – not pretending to be someone you aren’t.  You deserve that.  I am telling you that I want you – yes YOU – to be happy. To be YOU.

It’s a journey.  It’s not easy.  It requires undoing years of “I should” and “I shouldn’t” and it requires looking into yourself and understanding exactly what you want and it requires the strength to be, to Own, yourself even thought you might not think it’s who you should be.  That is difficult.  And important.  And liberating.

So let’s do it.  Let’s take this journey together.

Ask me questions….I am not a certified life coach; I am not a mental health professional.  I am a person who believes strongly in the worth of you and the strength of you.  I will not be able to fix your problems, and I may not even be able to answer all of your questions.  But what I will do is give you honest, straightforward responses to your questions.  What I will do is ask you questions that make you look deeper and help you find your path and your answers.  To eventually Own Your You.

Thanks for reading!

My First Post! (What am I getting myself into?)

What is Own Your You about?

Own Your You is a place where people can go for guidance in finding their true selves.

We spend our whole lives thinking about what we should do.  What we shouldn’t do.  What is expected.  And very little time really focusing on what we actually want/don’t want/feel/like…and then even when we do know we want/don’t want something, we’re afraid to go for it because maybe it’s not what’s expected.  So Own Your You is about being yourself and owning it.  Fearlessly.  Peacefully.  Honestly.  It’s a place to ask questions, exchange ideas, to start to be comfortable “owning” who you really are, and to make sure you are on the path you want to be on.