Thursday Thoughts: Breathe

We forget so quickly that we’re human. We want to be machines who can smoothly and efficiently get up early, work, clean, and go to sleep again. Like robots. Like clocks, just ticking away the time. We forget that we have beating hearts and rushing blood and souls that need desperately to breathe. It goes against the way the world works to take time to be still and calm. To take time to rest. To take time to breathe life back into yourself, and more importantly, to have Life breathed back into you by the One who made us the way we are.

When you’re busy and tired – breathe. When you feel like you just can’t anymore – breathe. When you feel lost and confused and overwhelmed – breathe. Do the thing that makes no sense. That is what it means to love yourself, and if you can’t love yourself, you’re not going to be able to really love other people. The whole “love your neighbor as yourself” thing is a coin with two sides, and we like to ignore the second part.

So today, breathe. Just breathe.

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You Are Beautiful: Part 2

I don’t have flaws. Ha! What a freeing thing to say. I don’t have flaws, I have differences. Let us not be another generation taken in by the world’s flawed definitions.

I will be real. I will be the beautiful that I am.

Instagram filters, photo editing, lighten exposure and add contrast. Why do we spend so much time taking away the things that make us human? That make us look real? Photography as an art is one thing, but must we edit every selfie, every profile picture?

578317_10201177694108591_22046003_nGuess what: I’m a human being. I have blood in my body. When I blush, when I’m warm, when I’m experiencing some beautiful human emotion like love or anger or happiness, my cheeks redden. I am healthy and I am able to perspire – let’s call it what it is – sweat. My face can have a healthy glow. It’s not excess oil, it’s being alive and able to get rid of toxins.

And speaking of excess oil: know where it comes from? When you’re a teenager, it’s caused by your hormones. Your hormones. Not things to be hated or suppressed, but the things that enable you to grow and develop. They’re good and healthy and are a beautiful part of the human experience.  Why do we insist on hating our own natural assets?

Where did your definition of beauty come from? I’ll tell you. It came from the TV, the magazines, every media image all around you every moment of the day. Because when you look at a mountain, it’s jagged, but you never think “if that crack was gone or it was smoother, it would be really beautiful.” No, you don’t even question its beauty. Why do you question yours?

406663_10200470189861427_1229666087_nWho decided what a flaw is? Who decided that the things that make me stand out from you and you from me aren’t unique beauty marks, but flaws? Who decided that a good way to get people to embrace their own beauty is to say “Your flaws are what make you beautiful”?

I don’t have flaws. Ha! What a freeing thing to say. I don’t have flaws, I have differences. Let us not be another generation taken in by the world’s flawed definitions. We aren’t flawed, their standards are. Be healthy. Be real. Be the beautiful that you are.

Click here for Part 1.

You Are Beautiful: Part 1

Today I caught myself thinking, “I wish I was beautiful.”

But then I did something I would never have done in the past. I caught the thought and held it and looked at it, and then I sat down with myself.

“I am sorry,” I said, “for all the times I let you think that and didn’t object. I am sorry for all the times I allowed this thought, these words, to roll like a movie reel in your mind. That’s my bad.

“And I need to tell you the truth today, because this thought won’t go away. It’s a fact of life today, with all the movies and TV ads and magazines, blah blah blah. You’ve heard this before, but never from me. This thought will come again, and again, and again, and it will continue to assault you when you’re not feeling 100% – or even when you are.

“So I need to tell you the truth. ‘Beauty’ is totally skewed. They way you think of beauty is wrong. It’s defined by the world, and yeah, the world can be pretty convincing, but you have to have the real definition of beauty lodged in your mind. It doesn’t matter what you think guys are thinking when they see you. It doesn’t matter what you think girls are thinking. What matters is that you know, to the core of your being, that you’re beautiful.

“You’ve heard this before, but not from me. Beauty isn’t perfectly plucked eyebrows or long, shiny hair, or even the color of your eyes. Beauty isn’t tall or short or skinny or fat (or in between) or long fingers or short fingers. Yeah, that’s right, I’m telling you what you’ve heard from other people, but haven’t heard from me. Because there’s always the possibility that other people are being insincere, but I’m not. I’m you. I can’t be insincere with you. Duh, you’d know. So now you’re hearing it from me: beauty isn’t any of those things.

1497765_10202861333120050_251278528_n“This is what beauty is. Beauty is the innocence it takes to show the world who you really are. Beauty is you coming through your skin, your eyes, your mouth, your hair. Beauty is when you respect yourself and love yourself and then that love overflows to the people around you. Beauty is you embracing you and not restricting or constraining yourself anymore. Beauty is the opposite of fear, and fear can’t handle beauty because it’s so steadfast and so strong and so solid and immovable. Beauty is when you begin to realize the truth: that you, with all of your “flaws” (i.e. things the fashion people photoshop out of pictures to make you feel inferior) are unique, individual, human, striking, lovely.

“And I’m going to show you tough love. I’m not going to let you get away with thinking ever again ‘I wish I was beautiful.’ I’m not going to let you get away with thinking ‘I wish I looked like that’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘no one will be able to love me.’ Every time you think that, whether it’s in the middle of a lecture, or in traffic, or at home at night in your bed, I will stop everything and sit down with you and tell you that the definition of the beauty you’re thinking of is the wrong one. And that you are beautiful, and that you don’t have to think these things ever again.”

And then I hugged myself, and the only regret I had is that I didn’t have this talk with me a long, long time ago.