How to Love Yourself

Sometimes I come at life from the wrong angle, especially when it comes to taking care of myself, and I’m sure many of you can relate! This is partly why exercising regularly, for example, is difficult for me. Instead of thinking “I love and respect my body enough to take care of it” and viewing exercise as a way to love myself, I think “I had better get out there and run or I’m a failure at life.” Like I said, the wrong angle. And I have to remind myself of this often.

So! Reminding myself and you, here are some ways to love yourself, respect yourself, and treat yourself well. We’re worth it. ❤ ❤ ❤

  1. drink more water! the cells in your bod will thank you.
  2. exercise more! but make it fun (dancing, playing a sport). endorphins = yay.
  3. eat well! love yourself enough to only put good things into your body, not low-key poison (MSG, anyone).
  4. connect with nature! give your cells some vit-D, give your lungs some fresh air, and remind yourself that you’re a human being with a soul, not a robot. be outside and listen to the trees and the wind and the birds.
  5. do fun things for the sake of them! not everything has to have a point. color because you like coloring. bake because you like baking. garden because you like gardening.
  6. know your self-care things! maybe it’s sitting down for half an hour with herbal tea and a magazine. maybe it’s knitting. maybe it’s making soap. it doesn’t really matter what it is-just figure it out and then do it daily. you deserve to be taken care of, and who better to take care of you than you?
  7. get more/better sleep! there are several things you can do to improve your sleep quality, and beyond that, make sure you’re sleeping enough. don’t skimp on sleep for anything. the rule of thumb is, the more stressed and busy you are, the more important sleep becomes.
  8. eliminate the bad stuff! take a look at who you spend the most time with, and what you spend the most time reading or thinking about. I’m not saying be in denial, I’m just saying that you’re no one’s trash can. don’t allow yourself to be one. you. deserve. more.

Do you have any other self-love or self-care tips?

Soul Machine

gears grind like gnashing teeth
chopping up the bowels of me
blood gushes, thunder rumbles
the soul machine never ceases

once there was a person here
her heart still beat and wind still
roared through dark, damp snakes
the tunnels in her lungs

blood pulsed to a thudding beat
skin warmed and shoulders shrugged
off worries like little snowflakes
sweat glowed, body shivered

the soul machine grunts and groans
scrapes heavy metallic feet on the
icy steel floor, leaking red ink and
words fall to paper like forest leaves

Soul Machine, a collection of poetry, will be out soon. To stay updated on new releases and special deals, subscribe to my newsletter here! -V

Poem Ashes

For some reason, I haven’t written poetry in a while. I think it’s because things have been so stressful, and the chaos of it all makes me feel utterly disconnected from myself. Writing in general keeps me sane, but writing poetry especially keeps me sane. Isn’t that the way of things, though? When things are stressful and you most need to do your self-care things, you end up shoving them aside because “there’s no time”.

On the other hand, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I can muster up a poem just so that I can write an inspiring blog post. Read the title, people: attempting authenticity. So instead I’m just going to say that whatever it is right now that’s holding you back, whatever it is that’s making you feel disconnected from yourself and out of touch with the things you used to be entwined with, don’t overthink it. Just be. Struggling in water doesn’t make you swim, you know?

So be patient, and don’t waste energy worrying. You’ll find your way back to yourself soon enough. ❤

The Beginning, and Some Honest Thoughts

NaNoWriMo begins tonight at midnight! As usual, I will be taking a nap this afternoon so that I’m fresh and ready for 50k Day One. I have managed to convince a few others from my region to join me, so we’ll see how we fare. If you want to follow my progress, you can do so here, as I am planning to update the sheet every hour. Here is last year’s, for comparison 🙂 We will also be tweeting and instagramming under the hashtags #50kKillMeNow and #50kDayOne, so feel free to follow there as well (my handle on both is africanstardust, big shocker). As always, encouraging messages throughout the day are so appreciated and I love you all for sending them! I may not reply right away (because the typing) but believe me, I read every one.

I’ve realized over the past few days how much NaNoWriMo has gotten me through. I do it because I love it, yes, but it means so much more to me than that. The first year I did it I was so isolated and alone because of extenuating circumstances, and it gave me a beautiful community of random strangers who made the effort of checking my blog to encourage me and urge me on. Two years ago, I was dealing with emotional trauma and feeling like my whole world had fallen apart, and NaNoWriMo was literally the bridge that helped me get to the other side. And this year, I’ve had so many ups and downs, the accident, feeling utterly overwhelmed with academics, and dealing with depression and hopelessness.

NaNo is the time of the year when we give ourselves a gift: the gift of permission to lose ourselves in writing. It’s when we set other things aside and look after our creative souls and make time for this precious, beautiful thing, no matter how busy we are. It has played a huge part in restoring me to myself in the past, and I hope that, wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, it does the same for you. Let yourself sink into the beauty of what writing is and what it means for your soul. Allow yourself to grow and push and go to new places you haven’t been before. Set yourself free. So, from me to you: happy writing.

Veronique / africanstardust

Hello, My Name is Anakin

I get up and it’s still dark. I stumble to the kitchen and make coffee, still half asleep, and greet my cat when he comes in from his nightly adventures. I take the coffee back to bed with me and prop up my pillows so I can read my Bible. The day starts well.

And then, the more awake I get and the further away from my Bible reading I get, the more my head starts to cloud up. Other things creep in: fear. Guilt. Anxiety. Chaotic thoughts about academics, deadlines, work, life things, whether or not I’m choosing the right thing to do at every moment. The desire to live well and the fear that I will fail. The feeling, the irrational feeling, that if I misstep just a little I will completely veer off the path I’m supposed to be walking on and end up somewhere I was never meant to be. Fear that I will make a huge mistake. Because as self disciplined as I try to be, I am a human being.

This is our condition. We are human beings. When Paul said that he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do (Romans 7:15), he was describing our condition. Because no matter what, no matter how hard we try and how many routines and structures and rules and roadblocks we put up around us, we are human, and we will make mistakes. It is inevitable. And it becomes overwhelming and even terrifying, at times, that knowledge that I. Will. Make. Mistakes. Despite my best efforts.

And I struggle. And I doubt. And I worry. And I am uncertain. Because despite what the world would like us to think, it is a fallen world, and there are many things wrong with it. Our struggle is proof that something is wrong. It was not supposed to be this way. And perhaps that is the first step: acknowledging that yes, the world is flawed and the systems are flawed and we are flawed and everything has something wrong with it. Everything is out of sync. It is too easy to do the wrong thing and too difficult to do what is right.

So, yeah, let’s not kid ourselves. It is freaking hard to walk this road. It’s nearly impossible, in fact. We can be real about that, yeah? We are pretty much Anakin Skywalker. It’s just how it is.

But let’s also not forget that we have a God who gets it. His standards are impossibly high, yes. Do you think He doesn’t know that? He is our Creator, literally. He made us. He knows. It’s even in the Bible: we all have sinned and (as it is popularly translated) fall short. We fall short. That’s the point of sending Christ to die for our sins and rise again, defeating them forever.

So instead of making God out to be this horrible, scary, judgmental monster in the sky who is looking for an excuse to punish and kill us, let’s go to Him instead. Because the problem comes when we allow our failures to drive a wedge between us and Him. When we give up. He never gives up, not on anyone. He never gets tired of hearing the same thing over and over. He never stops loving us. He never stops waiting for us. We don’t understand Him and the way He does things, and we never will. We don’t have to. He understands us. He sees us. And despite understanding us and seeing us, He loves us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. In our brokenness and failure, not after we got all squeaky clean and righteous. In the hole. In the abyss. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So trust Him.