My New Happy

Monday, November 19, 2018

I Belong - A Tale Of Believing In Yourself

I don't belong.

Those were the words I told myself as I traveled to LA to attend FierceCon 2018 last month.  I repeated them as I arrived at the airport and called an Uber.  They flashed through my head when I pulled up to the hotel and stepped through the front doors.

After checking in, I met Catherine and the rest of the members of the admin team.  I still felt unsure.  Not because they weren't completely lovely and welcoming.  This is a group of beautiful, kind, successful, accomplished women.  And really, that was the problem.  They are all those things.  And I didn't belong.

I have struggled with low self-esteem for as long as I can remember.  Much of it stems from my childhood.  And while I thought it was dealt with and long resolved, many of my issues came roaring back with the death of my father and the reality of the empty nest.  However, I don't want those experiences to define me.  I know that I'm holding myself prisoner with my limiting beliefs. I truly feel the only person I can change is myself.  So I'd been working on things, with limited success...clearly, not enough.

Signing up to be on the "hugging committee" for the opening night gala seemed like the right thing to do.  I wanted each woman walking through the door to feel welcomed and special, and I knew it would ensure that I met everyone.  But once that job was over, I found myself standing back rather than mingling and having fun.  I felt at a loss, afraid to approach people and start a conversation.  Later that night, back in my room, I was so disappointed in myself.  I'd been looking forward to this weekend for months, but was falling back into old habits.  I didn't belong.

On Saturday morning, I headed downstairs, with all of my shields up, ready to "protect" myself.   From what, I don't know.  I had no idea how much would change by the end of the day.  We started with an hour of meditation led by a master, davidji.  Slowing down, breathing in and out, listening to davidji, I felt the slightest release of my armor. 

And then the magic happened.  Catherine had scheduled two "beachside chat" panels for the afternoon.   During each session, five women shared their stories with us.  Here were the beautiful, accomplished women who had seemed so intimidating to me the night before.  And every one of them had their own  story to share.  Tales of difficulty, loss, courage, strength, and reinvention.  Feelings of fear, insecurity, not being good enough, wondering where to go next in life.  I was captivated and inspired.  

As the stories continued, I felt my armor continue to slip.  At lunch I chatted with some new friends, and decided to share a bit of my own life story.  I was surprised and touched when they expressed how they saw me.  Why couldn't I see the same when I looked in the mirror? 

Slowly, I began to realize that the difference between myself and these incredible women is that they believe in themselves.  They know in their heart that they are beautiful, worthy, strong and capable.  They're not perfect, they stumble now and again, but they always come back to that belief.

I felt a little like the Grinch, because my heart grew a million sizes that day.  My mind opened up to these women and this experience.  Did I suddenly become the life of the party? No.  Was I still insecure and unsure of myself?  Absolutely.  But the work has really, truly, finally begun.

In the group picture at the very top of this post, you can see me, hiding in the back left corner, where I always put myself.  Next year, I promise to be in the front row.  And maybe I'll be part of a beachside chat, sharing the story of how far I've come and what I've accomplished, all because I put the shields down and finally believed in myself.

I belong.

For a fantastic recap of the weekend that was FierceCon2018, read Jodie's post here.  And to join the Forever Fierce Revolution, go here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Stripes And Plaid And More Sweaters

Happy Wednesday and welcome to Fall Fashion Frenzy with The Blended Blog. Go there to link up with us, and then head to hostess Shelley's blog to see her Stripes and Plaid look.

Guys, I need help.  My long cardigan habit might possibly be out of control.  I don't need another one, and I swear I'm done buying them.  BUT...then I see one that's so perfect...and it looks super warm...and I talk myself into maybe just one more.

And bonus, this one is plaid.  Which just happened to be the theme for the week, so clearly I needed to add it to my closet.  It's really thick and honestly feels more like a sweater coat.  There's a red one too, but I finally showed some restraint and left that one in my cart.

I think by now we all know how to pattern mix, and stripes and plaid is one of my favorites.  I do wish I'd done a half tuck with the striped shirt for better proportions.  I found the bone colored booties at Marshall's, although this is probably the last time I'll wear them until spring.  Torrential downpours and light colored shoes don't go together so well.

If I'm being honest, I'm having a hard time with pictures lately.  I took these at my mom's, and when I got home and uploaded them, I picked them apart, at length.  Why are we so hard on ourselves?  Why can't I extend the same grace to myself that I do to everyone else?  And then I remembered a quote from Stacy London's book that I marked a few weeks ago:
One ingredient to feeling beautiful is to STEP AWAY from the mirror.  You need to see yourself reflected in other people's eyes - people who love you, are rooting for you, are proud of you.  Discover what it is you love again outside of style, having nothing to do with what you look like.  What are your goals?  What do you want to achieve?  Sometimes the best way to reconnect with an essential sense of self-esteem is to put down the lip gloss, step away from the jeans, and turn your back on the mirror.  Your self-esteem can't come from how you look alone.  Feel kind, successful, and accomplished.  The whole package IS beauty.
I love this, and it really resonates with me right now.  Definitely a lot to think about. Time to go back to gratitude and quit worrying about the mirror.

Be sure to hop around and see what my friends at TBB are wearing this week!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Gratitude In Pictures

Happy Monday, friends!  How was your weekend?  The sun was out, so I finally gave in and did some yard work.  Have I mentioned how much I hate weeding?  As soon as I'm rich and famous, I'm hiring a gardener.  Right after the personal chef.

Today I'm linking up with The Blended Blog to share some gratitude, in pictures.  Last year I wrote about being thankful for the "who's" in my life, and I still feel that way today.

This guy tells me I'm pretty every day, even after 36 years together.  He puts up with my crazy, and I put up with his.

I'm so thankful that I get to be mom to this kid.  He grew up way too fast, but it's amazing to watch him go out in the world and succeed.

Same goes for this goofball.  I haven't seen him in almost two months, but he'll be home on Friday for a whole week and I can't wait.

My family drives me nutso most days, but they're always around when I need them most.

And friends.  Ya gotta have friends, the kind that lift you up, see you, and love you anyway.

Head over to The Blended Blog to link up your gratitude posts, and see you back here on Wednesday for Fashion Frenzy - plaids and stripes!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday Follow Love

It's Friday, which means we're feeling the love and featuring some of our favorites over at The Blended Blog.  I thought I'd join in and share a few blogs you might not be following...but should be.  I've been fortunate enough to meet these ladies in real life, and they're amazing.  Introducing...

Amy from Your Favorite Chapter may truly be the kindest person on the planet.  She is uplifting and encouraging and always knows the right thing to say.  You are guaranteed to feel wonderful about yourself and the world around you after spending a little time with Amy.  She lives in Michigan, but I had the pleasure of meeting her at FierceCon.  Her blog is about food, fitness, fashion and inspiration, and I love that her son takes most of her outfit photos.

I was so excited to meet Bo from Bo's Bodacious Blog when I traveled to Deena's world in August.  Bo joined us for brunch and flower picking, and then met up with us again for farmer's marketing and a photo shoot.  She is interesting, smart, and so much fun.  I love her sense of style and dedication to running - even in freezing weather!

Lauren is a local Seattleite who blogs at Dit-Elle.  She's also a talented photographer, and I've had the pleasure of attending several local events with her.  Her blog features her casual, funky style, which I love, but could never pull off.  Lauren takes all her own pictures with a tripod and shutter release, and shares some of her secrets.  Her adorable daughter Maya makes lots of cameos, and she's a natural just like her mama.

Have a favorite blogger I should be following?  Leave me a comment!  Have a great weekend and be sure to come back and link up with us on Monday - it's all about the gratitude!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A Casual Thanksgiving With Eva Trends

Disclosure:  The top in this post was provided to me.  All thoughts about it are my own.

Happy Wednesday and welcome to Fall Fashion Frenzy with The Blended Blog. Go there to link up with us, and then head to hostess Alison's blog to see her Thanksgiving looks.

I used to get dressed up for Thanksgiving dinner, but then I realized that the day should and could be so much more comfortable.  I need room for all the yummy goodness!  When I saw this red Jeune Fall Sweater from Eva Trends I knew it would be perfect for the holidays.  Clearly it has lots of room for expanding waistlines, and it's warm and cozy.

The sides have cute buttons, and the fringe adds a bit of fun.  As you can see, I didn't get the yard work done last weekend.  The rain, rain, rain, came down, down, down, and I don't garden in the rain.  Maybe all the wet weather will drown the weeds.  It hasn't happened yet, but a girl can dream.

If you haven't visited Eva Trends yet, go take a look.  They have a huge variety of unique styles and I'm really pleased with the quality.  Many of their items are "one size", and they are a generous "one size", so keep that in mind when ordering.  Don't forget to use code LL10 to get 10% off your purchase.

Be sure to hop around and visit my TBB Style SIsters to see what they're wearing this week.

Monday, November 5, 2018

TBB Asks - Giving Thanks

Happy Monday!  I'm really excited for this month's TBB Asks, since it's all about giving thanks.  It seems like each year, Thanksgiving in the US gets less and less attention.  I love Christmas, but not yet.  At the store on Saturday, there was a greeter dressed like Santa.  On November 3rd.   For now, let's focus on giving thanks!

1/ Yep, although in the past I haven't been very consistent.  A few months ago I bought the 5 Minute Journal, and I've remembered to use it every day.  

2/ Always.  My husband is the only one in the family that can cook.  Or...maybe everyone else pretends they can't cook.  Hmmm...

3/ Mashed potatoes.  I rarely eat them anymore, so I always get my fill on Thanksgiving.  Pretty sure that's my plate up there - mashed potatoes, gravy and carrots.

4/ Sunshine.  After a week of rain and wind, the sun came out on Sunday and it immediately lifted my spirits.

5/ Most definitely yes!  I rarely make one anymore though.  The pies at Costco are delicious and cost less than all the ingredients.

6/ No.  My husband has most of his recipes in his head.  And I've got my grandma's old handwritten favorites that I cherish.

7/ Neither.  We do a turkey in the smoker every year - it's SO good!

8/ Of course!  Although, with the size of my family, there isn't a whole lot left.

9/ Can I say the washer and dryer?  My mother in law used to tell me stories about hand washing diapers, and I can't even imagine. I'm so grateful for my laundry room.

10/ Home cooked if my hubby makes them.  Otherwise, I'd rather eat out.

Be sure to hop over to The Blended Blog and link up your thankful posts.  Let's show Thanksgiving some love!

Friday, November 2, 2018

They See Me

Last month I was lucky enough to spend several weekends with two groups of amazing women.  Next week I'll talk about FierceCon, but today I want to share my trip to South Carolina with these beauties, my friends from The Blended Blog.

This meet up was in the planning stages for a year, but as the day approached, Hurricane Michael appeared.  After a very sketchy day of travel (delayed flights, tarmac trouble, planes on fire, planes running out of fuel, unexpected four hour car drives, and lost luggage), we arrived in Savannah.  Every moment of the horrible day disappeared when I realized these ladies had waited for me at the airport - for hours - rather than head to our rental house.  Pretty sure I shed a tear as I came around the corner and saw their lovely faces.  These are my friends, these are my sisters...and they see me.

They see ME.

The last few years have been rough.  50 isn't for sissies.  I've lost people I dearly love, had some health stuff, and sent my baby to live five hours away.  There's wrinkles and no metabolism and aging parents and empty nesting and lots of days where I just feel OLD.

Listen, life is good.  I'm still happy when each birthday rolls around, because honestly, the alternative is worse.  I have a husband who loves me unconditionally, two boys that make me proud every day, and we've built a life I wouldn't change.  But lately I can't seem to get out of my own way.

And then these women appear in front of me, and they don't care about any of that, because they see me.

They're kind, and they're loving.  We laugh and shop and talk like we've known each other our whole lives.  And just when I start to get in my own way, when I start to feel like I don't belong, because maybe I'm too old, I'm too boring, I'm too whatever...they pull me back in, because they see me.

They see right into the very core, past my wrinkles and extra pounds, the loss and the worry and the not feeling good enough.  Past all the crap and straight to the heart.  They're the best sort of friends, and the kind we all need.

They see me.  And I see them too.
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