#LoveYoSelf

*For the month of April, I’ll be participating in the WordPress Writing 101 “challenge” and doing posts based on prompts. This is #1, a 20 minute free write.*

self love

I’ll admit, I had a hard time figuring out what to title this post.

I am dedicated to making people love themselves entirely. Good, bad, “ugly,” and all! I think I am most passionate about this because as I get older, and experience more of all the bizarre, amazing, and ridiculous parts of life, I have learned that I owe it to me to be positively, absolutely, and madly in love with myself.

It’s been a journey, to say the least.

I started out pretending not to care what people thought. Pretending that their mean words, loud whispers, and cruel jokes didn’t bother me. Telling myself that even though I knew that they were right, I wouldn’t let them ever know I believed anything they said.

But then, a funny thing happened…it all became so….real.

A series of events, from my first legit to heartbreak, to breaking my first heart….being and my highest weight, and being the smallest I’d ever been….I found that there is so much more to life than focusing on what anyone else has to say about my life, how I live it, and how I decide to look while I do.

When I really think about it, I’ve always had a handful of amazing friends. I’ve always been complimented for my smile, my intelligence, and my funny facial expressions while I tell stories(although, I tend to think the stories are funnier, if I do say so myself!), and sometimes I’m even acknowledged as a half decent person!

I’d rather love myself for my good parts, versus the bad others choose to see when they merely look at me for the first time. In fact, I think it says more about them, than me.

And so, I set out to show myself that I didn’t have to fake it anymore. No more pretending. It was time to acknowledge that I AM awesome. And I am only human, but I’m not a crappy human, and that’s enough for me.

So, I figured maybe I’d share some of the ways I do this-honor myself, love myself, and remind myself that at the end of the day….if I’m going to be my toughest critic, I am going to be my biggest cheerleader, too!

Here’s what came to mind:

1. Write a list of 10 things you love/appreciate about yourself, or your life, that don’t involve your weight or flaws.Focus on the positive. Because after all, you’re awesome!

2. Focus on goals that take you out of your comfort zone and create experiences that you can treasure forever (like with my “27 Things for My 27th Year” project).

3. Remind yourself of all that your body can do. I went ziplining once. Also, I recently did a 15K with a friend, and have plans to go skydiving before my next birthday. Ask the old pretending Sondra if she ever would have registered for a run. On purpose. HA!

4. Spend some quality time with yourself. You carve out time for everyone that’s important to you. Block your schedule and go to a matinee alone, take a spa day, splurge on the more expensive pedicure and read gossip magazines…whatever makes you happy….try it solo and connect with yourself.

5. Surround yourself with positive people. Life is way too short for people who never have anything nice/helpful/supportive to say. It took me WAY too long to realize I don’t need to feel obligated to deal with it.

6. Distance yourself from exhausting people, too. Negativity isn’t the only thing that can drain you and affect your stress level or mood. People who ask for the same advice and never take it; people who lean on you to solve their problems; people who depend on you for your unwavering loyalty but never return the favor? You don’t need them around all the time, either. They’ll be fine without you. Trust me on this!

7. Remember that true beauty is a state of mind. No cream, serum, lip gloss, eyelash extensions, yoga pants, or diet regimen can make you worthy of adjectives like “compassionate,” “kind,” “thoughtful,” or “amazing.” Don’t limit your beauty to materialistic and aesthetic features. Kate Spade can’t sell you a beautiful soul (ahem, but if your awesome mom was in town for a week and bought you a pretty one with watercolor lemons all over it? SCORE. Thanks, mom!).

8. Use the time and energy you’d normally spend criticizing facets of your life to help others. Your weight, your grades, your features, your progress towards your future…it may never measure up to your high expectations. But the time you spent helping others will remind you of all you have, all you have done, and all the good there can be in the world.

9. Be mindful of the messages all around you. The “perfect” Victoria’s Secret bikini body, the idea that flat abs and blonde hair are the only tools you need to succeed. These messages are subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) permeating our lives with ideals that aren’t generally achievable if you’ve got a job, an education to pursue, and/or family obligations. Realize that you’re more than what the magazines say you can buy, and know your worth lies in the impact you make-not whether or not you have a 4 pack and strappy bathing suit.

10. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel like I have to be somebody else?” There are so many people who love you without all the frills. My aunt sat me down when I was 15 or 16 and asked me why I didn’t feel like I could be myself. I think I cried every night for a week, knowing that my secret Little Debbie snacks and wrappers under my bed had been discovered. I grew up with my dad restricting my food intake and criticizing my weight when we had to shop in the women’s section at stores. I felt like wanting snacks made me uglier, and bad. That question has never left me. It helped me get to where I am today. And whether I am making kale chips, or eating donuts, I know that those I surround myself with aren’t paying attention to my plate. They love ME. The girl behind the plate.

These are just some of the ways I remind myself everyday that I am more than a size on a tag, or a self-proclaimed Body-Positive Activist.

Spend a little extra time loving yourself here and there, and I promise it becomes second nature. But learn from my experience, and make it genuine from the beginning. Because you and I are worth every praise, every calorie, and every champagne toast.

We are amazing, beautiful, inspiring, and brilliant.

And there is no measure of body weight or material items that could possibly calculate the extent of it.

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#BeYourOwnSupermodel

It is no secret that there are two things I hold in high regard: Body Positivity, and The Boudoir Divas (among others….but these stay at the top of the list)!

The Divas are holding a contest with the amazing hashtag movement: #BeYourOwnSupermodel, and it’s truly a beautiful thing! Take a moment and check out their latest blog post with more info about the movement and what inspired them (literally, I got chills and super emotional reading it).

I really love that these two favorites consistently go hand in hand, and I am REALLY excited for their new campaign/contest! I wish all those who choose to enter the best of luck-this prize is out of this world, and I will personally and candidly envy the winner!

Photo Credit: The Boudoir Divas

Photo Credit: The Boudoir Divas

Here’s how it works:

“BE YOUR OWN SUPERMODEL” MOVEMENT AND CONTEST #beyourownsupermodel by @theboudoirdivas

We believe every woman should own her own story and celebrate who she is right now. We are starting this contest to inspire women to BE YOUR OWN SUPERMODEL!  Glamourous pictures are a way to treat yourself, to say “I am worth it.” But the most important thing is reminding yourself every day that you are your own supermodel.

Be entered to win  a 2 production photo shoot with 5×7 book with hair and make-up!! ($1560 value)!

TO ENTER THE CONTEST:
*Take a photo and hashtag #beyourownsupermodel and tag us on social media. It’s that simple!

*Every time you post on social medial you will be ENTERED TO WIN a $1060 value photo shoot. Hair and make-up included by @Shelby_McElroy  www.makeupbyshelby.com !

*Tag your friends who might also want to be a part of it in the comments!

*Contest ends April 15 (we will be doing a drawing & will post the winner here on the blog)

*Photo can be a selfie or anything that shows you embracing yourself and being comfortable in your own skin.

*If we have photographed you, use an image we shot (you can crop if you don’t want it to be too risque) and give us credit, be sure to also hashtag the contest and tag us and you will be entered TWICE by posting any photos that give the Boudoir Divas credit.

How to tag us….
INSTAGRAM: @TheBoudoirDivas
TWITTER: @BoudoirDivas
FACEBOOK: TheBoudoirDivas

Regardless of whether you enter, or even win, remember to carry these words from the Divas with you everyday!

“I am determined to rid my mind of negative thoughts about myself & replace them with words that honor who I am.”

So, it’s time to #BeYourOwnSupermodel! Get out these, and show them how it’s done, beautiful!

I can’t wait to see all the posts!

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Besides What You See….

Ok, confession: I love musicals.

Like, obsessively, ridiculously love musicals.

Like, when I drive home at 5 am in the morning from my night shifts, I’ll turn off the radio and sing songs from Funny Girl or The Sound of Music, or Frozen to keep me entertained and awake.

My mom introduced me to The Sound of Music when I was about 5 years old, and it’s still one of my very favorite stories and musicals of all time!

This post was inspired by the song Maria sings:

“Strength doesn’t lie in numbers
Strength doesn’t lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up — Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides what you see I have confidence in me!”

I have always loved those lines, but as I learned to love myself over the years, it dawned on me how this little musical affirmation makes such a difference for me!

People remark on my confidence pretty frequently, and it always surprises me. In my ideal world, we would all be confident and ambitious people, who wake up ready to kick ass, and take names! “Can’t,” “won’t,” “shouldn’t” and other hesitant words would be abolished from our vocabularies, and we’d put our big girl (or boy) panties on and MAKE. THINGS. HAPPEN.

But, alas, we are only human. we aren’t sure if we can pull off a certain look, quit a job to chase our dreams, or maybe even make rent next month. The list goes on, and on!

I really value the fact that people see me as a strong, and confident person. I am those things. But rest assured, I have bad days, financial problems, personal struggles, and insecurities too! I tend to be more vulnerable and candid with these things, because I think it’s very important for people to know that someone with a past like mine-filled with emotional abuse, physical abuse, homelessness, and other various struggles- is surviving merely because of a choice. Maybe even because I live in a world that assumes those things will break me, or make me weak.

I am a LOT of things…but weak is generally only used to describe me when cookies are involved (no shame).

I genuinely believe that confidence is something I put on every day. It’s that coat of mascara to make you look a little more awake, or that statement necklace you use to punch up a basic ensemble. It’s the finishing touch to make you feel a little more…complete. And if you do this everyday, soon, it becomes second nature, and you find yourself walking taller, smiling at more strangers, and smiling to yourself because you feel wonderful.

Because you feel like a powerful, wonderful YOU.

Life has issued me many challenges, and I face more and more of them everyday. But knowing that you have those beautiful, strong qualities inside you makes it a bit better. Take a minute each day to “put your confidence on,” and I promise you’ll see some really positive changes. I am at the point now where I feel confident just because I wear matching bra and panty sets (thank you, OCD!).

You deserve to be treated like the amazing person you are. But you have to lead by example, and show the world what you deserve. It starts with you! And if it’s a corny
“Sound of Music” verse (or a Lil’ Wayne freestyle, which also works wonders for me, as well), then SO BE IT!

Sometimes, you just have to fake it until you make it. And that is perfectly fine, if it helps you build that confidence in yourself. Own it, rock it, and SHOW THEM HOW AMAZING YOU ARE!

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Photo: Bing Images

I’m always here in your corner. 🙂

‘Til Next Time! Have a great week!

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Mirrors Lie….and a Photo Reveal!

Happy Thursday, everyone!

It has been quite a week!

We got back from our adventure to Reno/Virginia City/Lake Tahoe/Mammoth (I used my new camera! Photos coming soon!) late Sunday night, and I dove right back into my normal routine on Monday!

I was really excited for Tuesday to arrive, because I had an appointment to pick up my photos from The Boudoir Divas! I went to grab them, and then headed back home to pick up my mail and get some stuff done around my apartment (that I basically don’t even live in), and then had some errands to run for my impending 3 Year Anniversary on Wednesday before I’d be able to go back to Sean’s, pop in the disc, and marvel at the fact that the woman in those gorgeous photos is….ME!

I have no shame. I use car windows as mirrors on a pretty much daily basis. Obviously, I’m going to stare at professional photos of myself for a upwards of 15 minutes. Speaking of which, I saw this awesome “quote” I posted on the SeeSondraSlim Instagram earlier today, that really resonated with me:

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I headed to Target after leaving my house, and after finding what I was looking for (amidst all the things I was NOT looking for, and ended up purchasing-hello, new embellished sweater!), and I stopped at the Starbucks they have to grab a venti iced green tea. Suddenly, as I’m waiting at the counter, I get a notification that my blog has been linked to another post, and so I go to check it out: lo and behold, Sarah over at The Boudoir Divas, who I worked with for this shoot, did a blog post about….ME. And not only did it feature some really nice, and emotion-evoking words about me, but it held some amazing sentiments about the power of recognizing, admiring, and embracing our beauty overall.

These ideas, sentiments, movements, and campaigns are very near and dear to me, because the blessings and fortunate circumstances in my life are a direct product of being at my lowest low, and taking a good look inside myself, and deciding “I am better than this, and it’s about time I show the world that.”

Life has gotten better and better ever since!

I will forever be grateful to the ladies at The Boudoir Divas for helping me see such a powerful, feminine, and beautiful part of myself. And I am even more grateful that they go into each day with the intention of doing this for ALL women. I really hope that you’ll check out their blog. It’s a great way to get periodic doses of beauty, inspiration, and encouragement. I also suggest you “Like” The Boudoir Divas on Facebook!

If you check out Sarah’s blog post, you’ll see some of her amazing work (and you know, my face)!

I figured I’d share my absolute favorite (well, they’re all my absolute favorite, but you know what I mean) with you here on the blog!

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I have to give another huge thank you and round of applause to my #GlamSquad for their amazing talents: Hair by Candace Givens at Ah La Mode Designs, Makeup by Shelby McElroy of Shelby MUA, and amazing florals by Jen at City Girl Finds! These ladies brought my vision for this “Boho Glam” look to life in the biggest way!

It’s interesting, how we live in a society so obsessed with masking, camoflauging, and “fixing” what naturally occurs. Nothing natural stays perfect forever…not the water, the trees, flowers….none of the things we deem so impossibly, breathtakingly beautiful. Yet, we spend TRILLIONS of dollars on industries that introduced the idea that we can take just a few minutes, hours, weeks, days, or longer recovering from procedures, products, and such to make us “better.” I look at these, and see that with the “pudgy” parts, the dimpled parts, the “regular old me” parts….I still look pretty damn beautiful. And I really, really needed that reminder.

In fact, one of my favorite blogs to follow is Healthy is the New Skinny, celebrating these so-called “flaws,” and challenging the far-fetched beauty discrimination we see on a daily basis. Check out the HNS Facebook and HSN Instagram accounts for even more daily inspiration and love!

Also, yesterday, Wednesday January 21st was our actual anniversary, and I am so grateful to have a man in my life who tells me I’m beautiful and that he loves me everyday. I wish that for everyone in the world…. someone who sees your beauty when you’re blind for a moment. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY (again) Sean! Love you!

On a short stop on the Geiger Pass in Virginia City, Nevada.

On a short stop on the Geiger Pass in Virginia City, Nevada.

I truly hope you’ll take the time to acknowledge, embrace, and cherish your beauty today! You are more than worth it!

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