Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Art Journal Self Love

Connie Hozvicka of Dirty Footprints Studio gave me an introduction to art journaling last year through an online workshop. This year, she is celebrating the one year anniversary of her workshop launch by having a giveaway for anyone who creates an art journal page about LOVE. How perfect, I thought, for a month in which I am focusing on loving myself!

Creating an art journal page takes a lot of self love. Self expression through art is a scary process. Sometimes it involves losing control and diving in to disorder. Sometimes I discover things about myself that I didn't really want to know. Sometimes (ok, most of the time!) I make mistakes, and I have to be willing to forgive myself and push forward.
Creating, to me, is like opening up my chest and spilling my raw self on to a piece of paper. It is coming out of hiding. It is scary, yet exhilarating. And in the end in is like giving myself a giant hug. It allows me to connect with the real me and to learn to accept that part of myself.

With that in mind, here is what I created in honor of loving myself:

 It's messy and it looks much different from what I originally planned, but that's okay because it truly reflects who I am.

My hopes for all of this focus on self love is that I can learn to accept myself the same way that I accepted this collage.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Why I'm Awesome

Happy Valentine's Day!

I mean this especially for those of you who dislike Valentine's Day because it's "commercialized" and "only for couples". While it may seem like store shelves are currently crammed with products designed to make a single person feel alone on this sappy holiday, I invite you to take a second look. Do you see hearts, flowers, candy, and a repetition of the word "love"? Then you're in luck, because these things are not exclusively for those who label themselves as "taken". Love is universal; it is not limited to couples. Neither is Valentine's Day.

You don't have to wait around for someone else to shower you with affection and gifts!

Take some time today to honor yourself! Buy yourself some flowers and tell yourself why you love yourself. Get dressed up and take yourself out. Take advantage of this month's focus on love to make yourself feel good!

I'd like to set an example by describing what I love about myself. Let me begin with a visual aid:

I received this card from my mom in the mail for my birthday this week. The inside says, "You make normal people look so boring!"

I sincerely take that as a compliment! I take pride in the face that I am unique and a little strange. Without me, the world would be a much more boring place. I work hard to honor that part of myself everyday, but today especially. I hope you can do the same.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Self Love in the Workplace

The agency for which I work in Tucson is a non-profit and therefore often has to manage services on a tight budget. Fortunately, the company has yet to skip on employee benefits. We have a quality health insurance plan, reimbursement for memberships to a gym, and more than three weeks of vacation the first year on the job. They are also extremely understanding of mental break downs; I know I am not the only staff who has had to take a leave of absence for mental health reasons.

The agency provides these benefits because they recognize the importance of self care and self love in a career field where vicarious trauma is a regular occurrence. They know we are stressed, they know we work hard, and they are well aware of the fact that the average employee lasts only two years or less before leaving for a position with more sanity.

Without the opportunity for self care, the stress and burnout would be much worse. Cases of staff becoming ineffective and uncaring would be much more common, and our clients would suffer for it.

My agency provides an example of taking care of oneself in order to serve others. What I want to get across with all of these blog entries about self love is that this idea is not limited to the field of social work. Self care is vital for all humans beings in all walks of life. Want to be a better mother? Take care of yourself! Want to be a faster runner? Be good to yourself! Want to excel as a student? Treat your body with respect!

Each of us were created to do amazing things with our lives and to influence the people around us. If we forget about self care we are hurting not only ourselves, but the world around us that seeks to benefit from our existence.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Self Love: Resources and an Update

At the end of January I went through the bookshelves in my house looking for some good reading material on the topic of self love. I came up with some strange sources, but somehow they all fit together and I'm learning a lot. Here's what I found:

  • The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm: This man is a genius. I've been reading and re-reading the section on self love and selfishness.
  • Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou: This woman is powerful. She is my role model and hero.
  • Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Lives of Adolescent Girls by Mary Pipher: This book is amazing and I can't wait to read the whole thing! I've skipped around a bit but what I've read so far has corresponded with what I'm reading in Alice Miller.
  • How Good Do We Have to Be? by Harold S. Kushner: I chose this book because I struggle with guilt. The book also focuses on allowing others to be less than perfect, which is something I need to hear. I've been expressing my self hate through criticism of others and this book is helping me to address that.
  • The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self by Alice Miller: I hesitate to admit that I'm reading this because it's a book that focuses on the damage caused to children's psyche and self esteem by their parents. I'm not reading it so that I can blame my problems on my parents. I'm reading it so that I can recognize one of the sources of my self hatred and learn how to fix it.
  • Solitude: A Return to the Self by Anthony Storr: For months I've been trying to learn to be okay with being alone.
There are also a few websites doing the Self Love thing this month:

So far I've learned that I have denied the existence of many aspects of myself because I was taught that they are not okay. As a result, I don't know myself. I probably find it hard to love myself because I have never fully let myself be. Like most human beings, I regularly put on a front and hope that it's pleasing enough for everyone around me. That front is extremely uncomfortable! I'm working on exploring the parts of myself that I've missed. I bet there's a bunch of cool stuff in this head of mine waiting to be discovered.

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting." -e.e. cummings