Self-Love by Someone Who Hates Themself

All relationships are important. Whether they are platonic or romantic; we hold so much value in the relationships we form with others.

But the most important relationship that we all hold, is also the one that we tend to neglect the most. This is the relationship we have with ourselves.

I’ve struggled with self-love and self-esteem issues for almost my entire life. So I know that the relationship we have with ourselves typically affects every single aspect of our lives. It can affect our mood, our actions, our words and even how we live our day to day lives.IMG_4170

I can tell you firsthand that when you view yourself as ugly, not worthy or even disgusting you tend to become more depressed and can even isolate yourself from others.

But at the same time, when you make small steps to change your mentality about yourself the changes in the way you view yourself can be monumental.

I have tried almost everything to learn how to love and accept myself for who I am. I’ve gone as drastic as starving myself for weeks on end and working out until I couldn’t breathe. To as simple as throwing myself at men in hopes that their attention would make me feel better. But each time I failed.

And the reason I failed was that at the end of the day I really didn’t believe that I was beautiful or strong or enough for anyone. I still was doubtful even though I was trying to take steps at loving myself.

I didn’t believe in myself at all. The thought of me failing was always in the back of my mind and it always slowly crept up on me.

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Photo by: @conspirateurs

With all that being said, I’ve tried it all. But even though I have failed 10,000 times I still keep on trying. I now feel like I have the confidence in myself to finally learn to accept me for me.

I know that self-love and self-acceptance are a lifelong practice, and though I am only 25 I have learned so much so far in my journey.

Below are some self-love practices that have made me feel empowered, evincible and truly forced me see the beauty in myself; whether it be my outer or inner.

Yoga

For the past few months, I have been practicing yoga about two times per week. Yoga has allowed me to discover the beauty of my body by showing me how strong I actually am. At the beginning of my journey I could barely hold a balancing pose and now I have seen so much progress in not only my balance but also my flexibility and strength. But the practice of yoga is not the only thing that has helped me discover this, it’s also my instructor Shauna (@Kalanyoga). She has honestly taught me so much about not only the practice but also about my own self. She constantly incorporates empowering and inspirational messages into her practice. At the start of each class she invites us to set an intention, so each time I tell myself, “learn to love yourself”. And at the end of class she closes it with, “may we look within for validation and self-awareness. May we speak words of truth, kindness and encouragement. May we be the change we wish to see in the world.” These three simple phrases seal our practice on such a positive note that constantly leaves me feeling empowered and proud of myself.

Therapy

Back in high school, I started seeing a therapist because my depression and self-esteem issues were getting worse and I didn’t know how to handle them on my own. My therapist recommended that I start a daily journal and a self-help book called “Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance” by Rosie Molinary. Each day I would read the corresponding except. The author advises you to either write from the question she presented or try something new. This forced me to think about my self-worth on a daily basis, which allowed me to find the tools to finally learn to accept and love myself. I currently do not go to a therapist for my issues but I am rereading “Beautiful You”. Sometimes you just need someone who is unbiased to listen to you or provide you with the tools change your thought process about yourself. Although I know I am strong-willed and more than capable to learn to love myself, it can be tough. Some days are so much easier than others. But I know for me, talking to someone who believes me and makes sure to validate my feelings about myself helps wonders.

Daily Affirmations

One of the hardest things for me to do is tell myself I’m beautiful or that I am worthy. The reason why it’s so hard is because when I say it, I don’t believe myself. If you’re like me, then this one is going to be tough. Affirmations are a great way to change the way you think. When you put something out into the universe it usually comes back to you. This is called the law of attraction. So when you put negative thoughts out into the universe you typically receive negativity back. And when you put positivity into the universe you typically receive positivity back. It’s as simple as that. So for me, when I tell myself I am beautiful or strong or have a great ass, I don’t necessarily believe it (except for the ass part, I definitely believe that!). But the fact that I am speaking positive and empowering things about myself into the universe helps me because it eventually comes back to me later in the form of something else. And when this happens I feel one step closer to finally believing the words I am saying to myself. But if you don’t feel comfortable saying these words out loud to yourself each morning you can always write yourself a sticky note and leave it on your mirror so then you are forced to see it each day. In the beginning, I couldn’t force myself to say anything positive so I would write myself a message on my mirror in dry erase marker each morning. And seeing a message saying “I am beautiful” while looking into the mirror, even though you might not feel that way at the time, will eventually force you to see that you are truly beautiful.

Read

Kind of going back to the therapy bullet point. When your world seems so bleak and dysfunctional sometimes the only thing that can help you is to escape it for a little. The easiest way for me to escape my reality is by reading. When I find a book that captivates me it’s like a movie is going on in my head. All my worries, frustrations, anxieties and thoughts of self-doubt all see to melt away while I’m reading. Bonus tip: grab a glass of ginger ale (or wine), light a few candles and read while in a bubble bath!

Give yourself time

Know that self-love and self-acceptance are a journey, and boy can it be a bumpy one. Changing the way you see or feel about yourself takes time, practice and patience (which I have none of). It’s easy to be hard on yourself when going through this journey but realizing you’re not perfect and mistakes will happen will only help you. Allow yourself to make mistakes or have a few hiccups without being so hard on yourself. I know, I know, easier said than done. But this journey won’t happen overnight, so you have to allow yourself the time to heal from the negative image you currently see yourself as.

Orgasm

When all else fails, don’t give up. Give yourself an orgasm. Discovering your body is one of the quickest ways to self-love and self-acceptance. When I was in college I had a human sexuality teacher that had all the women go home and grab a hand-held mirror to look at their vaginas. Like actually LOOK at their vaginas. Most women tend to hate the way their vaginas look so she wanted us to explore the beauty of our own vaginas. To be honest, this was the first time I had ever actually seen my vagina. I mean, yes, I had seen my it before, but not like this. So I encourage every woman to do the same. And when you are done discovering yourself discover yourself again with an orgasm! When you orgasm your brain is flooded with oxytocin, which is also referred to as the “love hormone”. It plays a huge role in how we bond with others as well. So when you give yourself an orgasm it can help you bond with yourself, which will then lead you to love yourself more.

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These are only a few ways that have helped me along my journey with self-love and self-acceptance. I also really enjoy having some alone time browsing through Target or TJ Maxx or hanging out with my girlfriends or taking my parents out to dinner.

There is no right way to learn to love and accept yourself. Each person’s journey is their own and is completely unique to themselves.

So I encourage everyone to find out what works best for them and practice it daily.

I would love to hear how you all practice self-love and self-acceptance!

Boudoir Photo Shoot

 

 

I have struggled with self-love and self-esteem issues ever since a boy I had a crush on asked me, “why aren’t you pretty like all your friends?”. I was seven years old.

Ever since that day, I have tried to discover ways to make myself feel beautiful. Whether it was as extreme as starving myself or something as simple as buying myself a new outfit. I’ve tried it all.

My journey of self-love has been a long and rough one but I still seem to trek on.

So me being the super self-conscious and critical woman I am, I decided the best thing for me to do was partake in a boudoir photo shoot for my two year anniversary present to my boyfriend. Makes perfect sense, right?

A photographer I had been following for a while on Instagram posted that she was doing a boudoir photo shoot package including hair and makeup as a Valentine’s Day gift idea and I signed up right away.

I was obviously very hesitant to partake in the photo shoot due to my body image issues, but little did I know that this photo shoot would be one of the most empowering and impactful things I have ever done for myself. I honestly thought that me posing provocatively in sexy lingerie was just a great gift for my boyfriend, which it was, but it was also a gift in disguise to myself.

On my way to the photo shoot, I was stressing out about the outfits I had picked out for myself. My two main insecurities had always been both my stomach and my arms. So naturally, I got two outfits that covered both with just enough skin showing that I felt comfortable but also sexy.

As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by the photographer, Jessica (@lagophoto), the makeup artists and hairstylists, Jess, Hailey and Loe, as well as the other women that were there for their own shoot.

These women were immediately so friendly and made me instantly feel comfortable. I was surrounded by women who were constantly speaking words of encouragement and love to each other from the second I stepped out of my car.

Once my makeup and hair were complete I went into the house to watch the ending of one of the other woman’s shoot. And let me tell you, this woman was PERFECT. She was nailing each pose and didn’t have to be directed as to what to do once. This scared me a little since I knew I was going to need A LOT of coaching on my poses and facial expressions since I knew I’d be somewhat stiff once the camera was on me. Oh, and I felt that my physical appearance was nowhere near as flawless as she was.

When it was my turn to shoot, I went and changed into my first outfit and I’m not going to lie, I gave myself a little pep talk in the mirror before stepping out.

But the second that I walked out of the bathroom all of the women began to boost my confidence with their “damn”, “oohs” and “ahhs”. And honestly their words of encouragement and constantly assisting me with my poses.

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This boudoir photo shoot was honestly such an amazingly positive experience for me. I was surrounded by women who genuinely support other women and aren’t threatened by another woman’s beauty or confidence.

For the first time in a long time, I felt so beautiful and sexy in my own skin and it was all thanks to these women.

While I was shooting, I wasn’t once worried about how the poses made my stomach look or whether my arms were pushed against my sides making them look fat. I was able to feel free and confident. I was living in the moment, which hasn’t happened to me in years!

There was even a time during the shoot that the photographer asked me to take off my lace kimono, which I was wearing to cover up my arms. It had been my security blanket throughout the whole shoot and I told her that I hated my arms and she told me to stop being silly and to take it off.

Taking off that security blanket, while it may seem so simple and easy, was a big deal for me. I haven’t worn anything that shows off my arms in about two or three years. So at first, I was nervous but honestly removing it felt so freeing!

Doing something so out of my comfort zone like 1. wearing lingerie and 2. wearing it in front of strangers and 3. having photo evidence of both of those things was honestly one of the best ideas I have ever had. It forced me to face my fears and confidence issues and left me feeling empowered, loved and self-assured.

DSC_3074When I received my photos I cried. I had never once in my life seen myself in that light before. I was so beautiful. The photos were breathtaking. I looked and felt so confident in my own skin.

But at the same time, I was overcome with sadness. Why had I not seen this side of myself before? Why was I now, at 25 years old, seeing the natural and raw beauty in myself?

That thought was extremely saddening. But it made me realize that I need to step out of my comfort zone more often and put myself in situations that will not only help me learn to love myself but also situations that allow me to build other women up. Women encouraging other women is so important and impactful.

The women that were on “set” that day with me probably don’t even realize how much of an impact they made on me and my confidence that day. They made me feel invincible and forced me to see my own beauty. It has always been extremely easy for me to see and express the beauty in others, but I have never been able to do that for myself. So these women really made a lasting effect on me with their kind and honest words.

Since gifting the photos to my boyfriend, I have been trying to better myself for myself. I have been working on my self-confidence and self-love. My goal is to see myself the way my boyfriend sees me; effortlessly beautiful.

I know that the journey of self-love is going to be a lifelong journey but it’s something that needs to happen in order for me to feel fulfilled and truly happy.

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I never thought that something as simple as partaking in a boudoir photo shoot would have such an impact on me. But it did. And I cannot express how much this experience meant to me and how I feel like every single woman should do one for herself.

I thought this photo shoot was for my boyfriend as an anniversary gift, but it truly was for me and my own personal empowerment. It made me understand that us women need to stick together and support each other no matter what.

The years of women being pitted against each other to make themselves feel better is behind us. We need to stand together, support and empower each other. We are stronger together!

 

 

Happily Healthy

IMG_0079Tomorrow, February 1st, my boyfriend Vincent and I will celebrate our two year anniversary. I’m definitely not going to say that our relationship is perfect, it never will be, and we’re okay with that. But it is such a mutually beneficial and healthy relationship, filled with so much respect and love. Which is honestly all we both have ever wanted.

We fight. We disagree. We bicker like an old married couple. We get annoyed with each other. We need our alone time away from each other. But we also love each other endlessly and continually grow together and as our own person.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs about my past relationship then you will know that I know exactly what an unhealthy relationship is like due to my ex. But thankfully that relationship taught me a lot and really shaped me into a better me, which allowed me to love and respect what I have with Vincent so much more.

With Vincent and mine two-year relationship just around the corner (literally less than 24 hours away). I wanted to discuss some things that make a relationship a “healthy” one according to my experience being in an extremely unhealthy relationship vs. my current healthy relationship.

Let’s get into it!

  1. You not only grow together as a couple, but you also grow as your own person
    You both push each other to be better. No one is perfect, but you can always be better than you are right now. You’re also not afraid to let your significant other know where and when they can be better and also open to constructive criticism; it’s coming from the heart!
  2. Neither of you compromise your values or “non-negotiable” 
    If you and your partner really love each other than neither of you will ask the other to compromise their values just because you don’t believe in them or like them.
  3. You are not afraid to speak up
    Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value, and so do yours. You both always let each other know that the others feelings, ideas, etc. are constantly on your mind and have a place in your personal decision making. You both also let the other know when their words or actions are out of line as well. Mutual respect is essential to maintaining healthy relationships.
  4. You have boundaries
    Just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean you isolate yourself from your loved ones and friends. Healthy relationships require space and alone time. You both make it a priority to spend time without each other with either friends or family or if you’re like me a solo trip to Target.
  5. You support each other
    -Reassurance and encouragement are both amazing benefits of having a significant other. Knowing that the person you love supports you in all that you do is a wonderful feeling and when you’re in a healthy relationship these feeling/actions are like second nature.
  6. You fight
    Okay, listen to me for a second. Disagreements are a natural and healthy part of a relationship, whether it be romantic or platonic. It is okay to have disagreements and learn to compromise on certain things. What’s not okay is having screaming matching at each other. So when I say “fight” I mean healthy disagreements that have a positive outcome such as a comprise or better understanding of the issue as a result.

So please remember that relationships require a lot of work from both parties. Both Vincent and I feel that a relationship is not 50/50. It’s 100/100. Each person needs to put in 100%. This doesn’t mean that each person is putting in 100% at all times. Sometimes you’re having a hard day so your partner puts in more work to make you feel better and comfort you. And that’s awesome. That’s what love is all about.

Also, no relationship is perfect. Just because your relationship isn’t perfect in your or others eyes doesn’t mean it’s not a healthy relationship. (If you want to read about an unhealthy, destructive relationship scroll down and read my past blog posts about my ex.)

All relationships are unique and lovely in their own way. But the most beautiful and raw relationships are those with two people, despite their hardships, who together give each other endless happiness. Those people are happily healthy in their relationship.

P.S. Happy two year anniversary Vincent. I love you bubs.

How Social Media Distorts our Perception of Real Relationships

It’s been a few weeks since I released my “Addicted to you” blog post. And in those weeks I have been going back and forth on what my next post should entail.

Should it be about a specific event that happened? Or about the tactics my ex used to manipulate me? Or even another overall view of my toxic relationship? Or should it be more about me or about him?

These are the questions that have been floating around in my head constantly and I’ve honestly written pages and pages on each topic. But I was still torn on what I should post.

I’ve been constantly writing and then immediately deleting everything because what I’m trying to express is extremely hard to articulate in a coherent manner, since well, my relationship wasn’t really easy to understand.

But since I’ve been thinking about this a lot I realized that more negative memories from my past are starting to resurface. It’s honestly insane how our true memories can be so distorted by either the sheer power of us wanting to believe something different happened or by the manipulation of another changing our memories.

After the realization that most of my memories of my first love are not as they seem, the more I realized how much power he had over me.

The one thing that you think that someone can’t take away from you are your memories. But that is in fact a lie. They can be taken away and they can be manipulated.

I’m not just a victim of  my memories being manipulated but I also actively participated in deceiving all of my friends and family as to what was actually occurring in my relationship.

For the most part, I did this somewhat unconsciously since most people don’t like to actively air out their dirty laundry and I was no different. I chose to only show the world the “good” that was happening in my relationship, even if most of it was fabricated.

Social media is such a huge part of peoples lives in this day and age. People use social media for all sorts of things. Like staying connected with friends and family, sharing their experiences and even promoting themselves.

I’m not going to lie, I was once obsessed with how I looked on social media. And to be completely honest I still somewhat am.

That being said, I only let the world see what I wanted them to see.

Most of my posts on social media were all about the fun things I was doing or how amazing my ex-boyfriend was. But honestly most of them were fabricated.

Social media distorts the way we see real relationships because of people like me who claim to have the perfect relationship even though it’s the furthest thing from the truth.

Due to “social media relationships” young adults are expecting to be whisked off their feet at every turn in a relationship and that’s not the way it is in reality.

People fight. They have disagreements. They go through some tough shit together. But do you ever see that displayed on social media? No.

My past relationship was a whirlwind. That’s the best word to describe it because there were some really good times but there was also some deep, dark times that no one should ever go through.

And I lied a lot on social media. I claimed that our relationship was all sunshine and roses all the time! And it wasn’t.

We fought probably 90% of the time an the other 10% was us trying to make up for our dysfunctional relationship by ignoring our arguments without working them out or finding a resolution and playing “house”.

So everything all my friends and family saw on social media was pretty much a lie.

I loved my ex. More than he probably ever loved me. But the wonderful things I constantly said about him all over social media also came with him throwing tantrums, talking to other girls constantly, belittling me and countless other unthinkable things. But I never told anyone those things. Not only was I embarrassed but I also felt like I somewhat deserved the torture because I had such low self-esteem and he used that against me.

I went through all of my social media accounts and pulled some photos that I posted about my ex. And for the first time I’m going to be brutally honest about what was actually going on during the time I posted each of these photos.

(But like I said above, my memory regarding most of these events is a little distorted so I might not recall everything that was going on.)


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My ex and I had been officially dating for about a month and we were already falling in love. I decided to take him to my cousins wedding as my date so he could meet my family. Everything was going good until it wasn’t.

He was obviously nervous to meet most of my family so both of us had one or two drinks during the reception. (We both were only 18 at the time but since we were at a family members house my mom allowed us to have a drink.)

But I quickly noticed that he soon was very intoxicated. He was slurring his words and was visibly drunk.

I had only seen him drink one or two drinks. But then I found out that he had been sneaking drinks when my family wasn’t looking. This should have been the first warning sign, but what can I say. I was infatuated with him so I left it slide with little to no resistance.

 

This was our one year anniversary. We both had Disney passes and went about two times per week.

He took me to Ariels Grotto in California Adventure because he knew Ariel was my favorite Disney princess. He bought me a really heartfelt gift that anniversary—it was a 20th century antique typewriter key encased in a silver pendant.

This was probably one of the only truly happy memories I have of us.

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This text was sent to me about a year and a half into our relationship. To be honest I’m not exactly sure what occurred before this message was sent.

But I was used to receiving messages like this typically about a day after we would have a huge blow out. He’d also try to save his ass and get back on my good side again by making me feel like the only girl in the world and like he truly did love me. This was his m.o.

The saddest part of it all? I fell for it every time.

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This photo was taken at his dads house. The only time we ever went over there was to get shit faced. And this time was no different.

We were sober when the photo was taken but that evening we were both pretty intoxicated.

My favorite thing about this photo is that I refer to him as my best friend. He was my best friend because I had abandoned all of my other friends just to be with him. I was addicted to being around him and with him at all times and most of my friends had had enough of it. And I don’t blame them one bit for that.

Thankfully, I have repaired my relationship with them all now.

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We were visiting my grandma who lives up north. To be completely honest this was a nice trip for both of us. I remember us getting along really well the whole time and it actually felt like a real and true relationship for once.

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This photo honestly terrifies me now. The reason being, he would make similar faces when he was having delusions. (He used to hear and see things that weren’t there a lot of the time.)

He acted as if he was possessed and would growl and say vial things. So this photo just brings up some of the most emotionally draining and terrifying events that had ever happened to me.

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I attended my colleges play because I was writing a piece on it for the newspaper. I bought two tickets, one for me and one for my ex. He decided last minute that he wasn’t going to go with me, so I ended up attending it alone.

The reason this photo makes me so sad now is because when he told me he wasn’t going to go with me it crushed me. I had always shown interest in his passions like music so when he told me he wasn’t going that meant that he wasn’t interested in my passion for writing. And this picture was me trying to show the public that I was happy, when I really wasn’t.

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We were at Disneyland again in this photo. He was pretty deeply into his alcoholism and drug abuse at this point but I was obviously naive and ignorant about it.

And as you can see by the comments, people believed our false happiness.

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This photo was taken right before we broke up for good.

I had driven down to San Clemente where he was in rehab. We had the whole day planned full of exploring, shopping, eating and catching up.

I’m not sure if it was this day or another day I went down there to visit with him but I found out he was talking to other girls.

We were laying down next to each other after just making what I assumed to be love, when he went to the bathroom and his phone buzzed. I looked over at it and noticed he had a text from one of our old coworkers. I opened it and discovered that he was asking her for photos and telling her how beautiful she was. He was sending these text pretty much at the same time he was telling me how after rehab he was going to get a job, save his money and propose to me. He was even telling my mother this as he was flirting with this girl.

I was so extremely devastated because I was still sticking by his side even though he had put me through hell and back and was attending rehab. Most girlfriends would have dropped their boyfriends way before it ever came to this, but not me.

Another thing, the caption on the photo pictured above has since been edited but before it had something to do with how much I loved him and how wonderful that day had been for me to finally see him clean and sober for the first time in what felt like forever.

Needless to say, not everything you see on social media is real.

Addicted to you

I initial set out to write a blog post detailing the hell I went through while I was dating an addict for four years but things…evolved.

I soon realized I didn’t need to go into detail about him stealing over $1,000 of my money to go buy drugs over the course of our relationship or the fact that he would constantly flirt with other girls or even that he built an upside down crucifix out of steel and cotton balls soaked in acetone and lit it on fire in front of my house for no reason at all. I didn’t think it would be fair to him, but oops I already said it.

While writing the major milestone of my past relationship and continually going off on tangents regarding certain instances I realized I never really dealt with what happened to me.

I dated someone who loved alcohol and heroin more than they ever loved me. How do you think that makes a person feel? Knowing that the person you are madly in love with would trade you in for simply just five more minutes of being high.

It makes you feel pretty damn worthless and small.

My initial “vision” was to write about my experiences in hopes that not only would it be therapeutic for me to pour my heart out but also maybe I could potentially help someone going through a similar situation.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure if me detailing what it was like watching my ex-boyfriend overdose while driving me home would be helpful to others but it sure did bring back up some emotions that I buried deep, deep down.

I never dealt with what was done to me by him. And honestly he really fucked me up.

When I first met him I was a strong and independent woman who knew what she wanted out of life but the second we started dating I was immediately obsessed with him.

I think the words “obsessed” and “infatuated” work perfectly for my situation because my world revolved around him at all times no matter what. My feelings didn’t really matter to me at some points as long as he was happy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know I was in fact in love with him. But the best way to describe our relationship is by saying:  he was addicted to drugs and I was addicted to him.

For four years he put me through some tough shit, but did anyone really know about it? No. I still posted loving photos of us all over social media exclaiming my love for him even if ten minute before we were in a screaming match over him ignoring me for days. You’d think I would see a pattern and just quite him, but I couldn’t.
I needed him. (Well so I thought.)

Feeling like you need another person with every ounce of your being is a very hollowing and lonely feeling. It’s also extremely pathetic and deep down I knew that. But I didn’t care.

I remember people constantly tell me “how strong” I was for sticking by him through his drug and alcohol addiction and not only supporting him emotionally but also attending his alcohol anonymous meetings with him so he didn’t feel so alone. But honestly that’s not strength.

It’s weakness.

I was too weak to stand up for myself and leave him.

I felt like I couldn’t live without him and I accepted the fact that dealing with his addiction and bi-polar outburst were just going to be something I was going to have to deal with. And I was honestly okay with that.

I was settling for someone who didn’t value me whatsoever.

You’re probably thinking there must have been a turning point where I finally stood up and told him that I was worth more than this and that I deserved better.

But you’d be wrong.

I was a coward and I let him destroy me one last time by breaking up with me while we were in a counseling meeting with the head of the rehab center he was attending. (Yep you’re right! I even stood by him as he attended rehab and drove to see him and take him out once a week.)

And even while breaking up with me he didn’t admit any of the horrible things he put me through or did to me. He placed all the blame on me once again.

I was devastated to say the least.

At this point you’d think I’d just be a bitter and emotionless shell of a person and honestly I am. But it’s starting to fade.

Him making me feel worthless on countless occasions was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

The memories that I have of that relationship will be with me forever but the pain and hurt that was inflicted on me constantly for four years will go away eventually.

It may not be gone yet, even after over a year of us being separated but it will go away.

And knowing that keeps me going.

Surviving a toxic relationship is draining but it’s possible. It’s possible to even come out on top even though it’s not easy.

I’m a perfect example of that.

New Year, New Goals

2016 was a whirlwind of a year for me. I graduated college, bought myself a brand new car, started working in corporate America and I’m finally in a loving and healthy relationship.

I know a lot of people feel like 2016 was a shit show….which it was for the most part, but there was also a lot of good that happened. I wanted to have this positive mindset going into 2017 and stop focusing so heavily on the negative like I previous have.

While thinking over all of the positive things that occurred and the lifelong goals that I obtained in 2016, it got me thinking about my 2017 resolutions. Every single year I pledge to lose x amount of weight and a laundry list of other things that I never accomplish, which then in return makes me feel like shit. So I decided to do something a little different this year.

I ask my boyfriend to write 10 goals he wants for me, himself and our relationship in 2017 and I did the same. Personally I think setting goals makes my new years “resolution” seems more attainable since these goals are not confined to just 1 year—like a resolution typically is.

This activity was honestly really fun! My boyfriend was so down to write out these goals and this discuss them with me once we both had finished. The funny part is is that most of our goals for each other, ourselves and our relationship were pretty damn identical, which made even more sure of our relationship!

Here are the top 10 goals that my boyfriend and I collectively came up with for our relationship:

  1. Support each other no matter what.
  2. Learn how to save money. (75% of each pay check goes into our savings account)
  3. Have at least 1 date night a week.
  4. Disconnect from our electronics when we’re together.
  5. Cultivate a common interest and actually do it.
  6. Eat mindfully and sweat together at least 3 times a week.
  7. Slow down and enjoy the little things more.
  8. Move out sometime within 2017 to 2018.
  9. Let go of toxic people in our lives and make more effort with the positive people.
  10. Make more time for friends and family. (Time away from each other is a good thing)

I challenge everyone to write out their goals for 2017. To make it even easier you can write out a list of short-term and long-term goals. Not only does this activity get you excited for what the next year holds, but it also starts off the year on a positive note.

I pray that 2017 brings more love and less hate, more curiosity and less following the crowd, more open-mindedness and less ignorance and so much more to us all as a people.

Here’s to a wonderful 2017!

Valentine’s Day for new couples

I recently, and by recently I mean like a few days ago, started dating a guy. We’ve been talking for a few months now but I wasn’t ready for a committed relationship until recently. So naturally, we’ve already discussed Valentine’s Day. I personally wanted to do something super mellow and small since it’s a new thing and because I’m just not that into Valentines Day. But on the other hand, he wanted to go all out since I would be his first real Valentine. (Super cute, I know!) Thankfully I talked him down and we compromised to a nice little picnic in the park and gifting each other something small.

But sometimes talking about Valentine’s Days with your new significant other can be awkward. You don’t want to see too eager to get all lovey-dovey and you also don’t want to seem like an asshole for not wanting to do anything.

Let me make it simple for you guys.

Ease into. Bring up the topic with something casual like, “Hey I know we just recently got together but I was wondering if you wanted to do something for Valentine’s Day. Nothing crazy, just something casual and easy-going.” This will open up the conversation and help you both compromise on what to do.

But just be sure to state what you’re comfortable with. If you’re not ready to go all out and go to a five-star restaurant and exchange expensive gifts, then tell them. It’s also good to set a price limit on gifts during the beginning of the relationship. It’s better to just be honest than feel the pressure of something you’re either not ready for or just not comfortable with.

Below I’ve listed a few simple things that you can do on Valentines Day that pretty much take all the stress and pressure out of trying to plan something romantic but not too romantic for new couples.

Where to go:
1. Go to the aquarium
Taking your significant other to the aquarium is very romantic, yet not over the top. The best part about going to the aquarium is watching your them in amazement and awe of the beautiful sea creatures. (I’m an observer)
2. Picnic in the park
Go to Trader Joes and pick up some artisan cheese, multi-grain crackers, fruit and wine and head to a cute, quiet nearby park. (Bonus points: bring some bread and feed the ducks. But steer clear of the geese. Those fuckers are mean and will chase you down.)
3. Grab brunch/lunch
Bottomless mimosas.
4. Movie marathon
Grab some popcorn, snacks and candy and jump into bed with a Netflix marathon. You can pretend to watch all 8 seasons of Dexters as you suck each others faces off in-between stuffing your face with fatty food.
5. Cook together
Decide on something to cook, then to to the grocery store to grab all the ingredients and then playfully make dinner together.

What to give:
1. Their favorite alcoholic beverage
Grab their favorite bottle of whiskey or go-to wine and share a few glasses together. (Or even the whole bottle, no judgement)
2. Homemade goods
It’s a proven fact that no one will turn down freshly baked brownies or chocolate covered strawberries.
3. Get them a gift card
Keep it simple and under $50.
4. Give them your favorite book or movie
This gift is like giving them a little piece of you.