#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.

SeeSondraSignaturePRINT

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!

SeeSondraSignaturePRINT

SeeSondraSeductive. Mmmhmm!

After being in the hospital since Sunday night (don’t get me started. YouTube video coming soon!), and not getting home until late last night….I needed something fun in my life.

Wouldn’t you know? I got to pick up Alex and I’s photos from The Boudoir Divas!

As promised, I wanted to share two with you. I am BEYOND satisfied with the final product, and I will be launching my world tour with Victoria’s Angels this spring! Well, that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but I mean….come on!

Before I share (since I really like building up before the big moment, clearly!), I just want to share again how much this experience really did for me. I feel like every woman needs to take the opportunity to do something like this. I see a side of me that I always wished for, but couldn’t quite channel. These ladies really helped me set her free….and when I see these photos, I truly FEEL sexy. I see all of the allure I posess, and it makes me want to walk around in pin-up style lingerie for the rest of my life. I bought really cute high-waisted undies a la Marilyn Monroe last week, and I’m really sad that I don’t have a photo shoot coming up soon to wear them for. That, my friends, is powerful stuff! Get you some!

Without further procrastination…..here ya’ go!

Meeeeeeoooowwwww! Lol.

I'm sorry....it doesn't get much sexier! (Well, not on MY blog, anyways).

Not gonna lie. There are some shots where I made sexual prowess my bitch, pardon the language! I didn’t think my face could master any of these expressions….but, here we are!

I want to send a HUGE thank you to Marissa, Kimberlee, Erin,Peggy, Deena, and all the other wonderful ladies at Boudoir Divas who made my experience what it is. Because of the atmosphere they create, I am able to have a finished product like this! I really can’t articulate the overwheming gratitude, appreciation, admiration, and love I have for them after this shoot.

On a side note, I couldn’t find Peggy’s card when I did the ‘SuperModel’ post, but I’ve located it, and I insist that you check Peggy out too! You see the makeup! I look ridiculously good. You want to hide your significant other from me, don’t you (kidding, kinda!)?

Check Peggy out at His Blushing Bride, her official website or on Facebook. Obviously, she mainly does makeup for weddings, and works with the Boudoir Divas. But I know a bunch of you who are sending out wedding invites this spring….so, you’re welcome! Lol.

Aside from sharing my new body confidence with the world, I really just want to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone, and have this experience. I will be able to look back at these, and not only remember a huge 90 lb weight loss milestone, but it’s also a reminder that I am a gorgeous force to be reckoned with. And for that? I have no regrets, and offer no apologies to anyone who doesn’t like it.

You shouldn’t, either.

Here’s to celebrating your sexiness….whether it comes in the form of a smile, a slight sneer, or a seductive face you practice in the mirror to make sure you’re not bordering on looking constipated.

Stay Gorgeous!

XOXO