The Girls’ Weekend that Changed My Life: Part 1 – Self-Discovery

Last week in my 10 Ways to Practice Self-Love post, I mentioned that I was participating in a yoga retreat. This was a big deal for me because I have always encouraged and coached other women to invest in themselves, however, I never made a large investment in myself. I always invested in myself through nourishing my body with nutrient-dense, delicious food. But, I was afraid of making the larger investment. Why? I am not sure why. Maybe I was afraid of investing in  myself and coming across something I did not want to face? Who knows. But, I took a leap of faith and invested more money than I’ve ever spent in one weekend on a life-changing yoga retreat lead by the beautiful, Cortney Ostrosky.

I went into the weekend with an open mind. On the first night, we participated in a sister-circle. I am not going to lie, this is the one thing I was most afraid of. I did not know what type of hippie-dippie sh*t we were going to do and I did not know what to expect. I’ll tell you more about that experience next time, but for now, I’ll just say that I went into new experiences with a completely open mind, regardless of what my pre-judgments were.

sister circle

By the end of the first day, I was in awe of how much I discovered about myself! I could not believe how fast I opened up my heart and learned to feel what was really going on. I felt  my insecurities, I felt my creativity, I felt my loneliness, and I felt how my body was reacting to all of my emotions.

In addition to the sister-circle, Cortney lead us through workshops and yoga classes to align our Chakra’s , allow our body to flow in sync with our emotions, and relax into a state of mind that was comparable to an out of body experience. Through each activity, I learned that I was shutting off my emotions. I was shutting of my creativity. I was hiding my femininity and sexuality. I was allowing my fears to take over my dreams and I was shutting people out of my life in fear of getting hurt.

I learned that I CAN dream big. Like change careers and have a job I love. I learned that I CAN have emotions. I CAN cry. I CAN dance. I CAN love other women and create incredible bonds without drama or gossip. I CAN align my body with my emotions in a healthy way through the food I eat and the yoga I practice.

By the last day, Cortney lead us through a pop yoga class. In this class, we danced to Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off and literally shook it off! We shook our arms, did high kicks, and laughed at the people down on the beach who were clearly wondering what the hell these women were doing at 9 am out on a deck! I’ve listened and danced to that song 100x and this time I seriously got very emotional! I have NEVER felt so free! For the first time in my life, I felt like myself! I mean that!

For the first time in my life!

Isn’t that terrifying?? For 29 years I have been walking around as who? A lesser version of myself? Maybe! But now I know what makes me feel alive. It’s not one thing. It’s a combination of things like delicious vegan food that nourishes my body, gorgeous, soulful sisters who encourage me to be me, the ocean and the sound of the waves reminding me of how beautiful nature is, exercise to get my blood flowing, and fun music to dance to.

I am so happy and proud of myself for trying something new and investing in my own well-being. Whenever I get caught up in the stresses of life, work, loneliness, depression, and heartache, I try to take myself back to that weekend and remember that life really is fabulous when you make it fabulous.

 

XO – J

10 Ways to Practice Self-Love

I honestly used to cringe at the phrase “self-Love.” Probably because I didn’t love myself at all. My immediate reaction would be to think of all the things I hated about myself and I would use those reasons as excuses not to love myself. Reasons like: I hate my thighs. I hate being broke. I hate feeling like I screwed up my college degree and overall career path. I hate not having a passion. I hate being single. I hate some of the people I surrounded myself with. I hate, I hate, I hate! I wouldn’t even entertain loving myself while all of those things were wrong.

But were they really WRONG? Of course not! They were just things I attached to the word “wrong” and in turn, sabotaged any chance of them being okay.

Once I learned to accept that all the things I “hate” aren’t actually the end of the world, I learned to look at how I can use my areas of improvement to practice acts self-Love. I sure as hell wasn’t born with self-love in my blood. I have to work towards it every single day.

Here are 10 ways I personally practice self-love.

1. I enjoy eating vegan and vegetarian. Many people make comments or laugh at me for it. I actually used to eat meat to make other people happy! But eating meat did not make my body or my mind feel good. I feel more nourishment from plant-based foods.

2. I practice yoga. Not regularly, but when I feel like it. I’m a certified group fitness instructor so I do teach a class once/week. Other than that, I practice yoga whenever I feel like it. Maybe once/day and maybe once/month. But I don’t beat myself up when I see people in class who show up weekly and I show up sporadically. I do what works for me. Find something you like, and do it. It doesn’t have to be yoga. It just has to be something.

3. I keep a gratitude journal. My boyfriend will laugh at me when I travel and ask “So how many journals are you bringing?” He jokes, but for me, writing down 3 things I’m grateful for each day helps me keep a positive mindset.

4. I choose my tribe.  It wasn’t until my late 20’s when I realized that it is OK to let go of friends that no longer serve a positive influence in my life and make new friends to carry the same joys and value as me. I have my soul sisters let them know that I value their friendship!

5. I say no. Have anyone ever asked you for a favor and even though you’re screaming “NO!” inside, you still agree to do it? That doesn’t make you feel very good does it? And then you might even start to resent that person as you’re carrying out that favor? Me too! But I am working on it and I am practicing saying “no” to things that truly do not make me feel good inside.

6. I stay organized. Personally, I am more relaxed when I have things organized. This may be through planners, storage bins, or to-do lists. Being organized helps me feel calm and puts my mind at peace. I make organization a priority, knowing it’s a value I need to uphold to feel happier.

7. I buy myself flowers. I like to keep fresh flowers in the house as often as possible. Even if no one else will see them, they are there for me to enjoy and they make me feel happy. My local grocery store has some beautiful $4 bouquets that make both my wallet and my soul happy!

8. I go places alone. Going places alone isn’t always the most fun. But, I would rather go to the beach or my favorite coffee shop alone, rather than have no one to go with and not go at all. Sometimes being in my favorite places, by myself, helps me reflect on the things that make me happy and reconnect with who I am. I am a person who likes the beach and over-priced coffee.

9. I reflect on my faith. I grew up Catholic. However, going to church was never something I wanted to do. It was a chore and I felt guilty for not going each week. Going in fear of guilt did not make me feel good. So instead, I have accepted that while practicing my faith may not look the way some think it “should,” I understand what my beliefs are and reflect on them in other ways and other spaces that work best for me.

10. I invest in myself through experiences and not things. I have never taken a true vacation in my life. I have never planned to go to a destination solely to just lay on the beach and drink mojitos. I want to, but I never found that to be a good use of my income. Until recently. While I haven’t planned a vacation, I have plans to plan a vacation! Also, I am attending a 4-day yoga retreat on the beach (as I speak)! I always thought things like this were a waste of money because I didn’t have anything to “show” for it… except my own happiness! Duh! Someone once told me, “The happiest people spend their money on experiences, not things.” I am finding that to be very true!

Some of these might work for you and some of these might make you scoff. Girllll, do what works for you!! Your self-love won’t look like mine! Your self-love practice with only truly work for your self. Comment below or send me a private email and let me know how you practice self love!

XO – J