Step 1 of Trying on Bathing Suits

woman in bathing suit

When I sent my beloved female friend Bec the above picture of me trying on the two-piece bathing suit I ultimately bought, I told her that the process had been less painful than I expected. Her response was to tell me that was because I had followed Step 1. I asked what Step 1 was and she replied that it was be attractive. As I consider attractiveness much more than just physical appearance, I believe that she was quite right.

I wasn’t excited about trying on bathing suits this morning but as I hadn’t bought a new one in at least 10 years and the one I did have didn’t fit me well (it was a mismatch that I found at a great sale price) I figured it was overdue. I grabbed several bathing suits, both one piece and separates and took them all into the dressing room with me trying to prepare for how I’d look in them. I quickly discovered that almost every top piece or one-piece suit I’d chosen was too small while every bottom separate fit perfectly. I should’ve chosen more wisely as my top half is a bit curvier than my bottom, but I didn’t and so I was left with several bathing suits that didn’t fit.

Fortunately, when I tried on the two pieces in the photo, I immediately loved how I looked in the mirror. The top is comfortable and colorful and the bottom combines the look of shorts and a skirt in a feminine and flattering way that does wonders for my legs. I know I won’t feel any hesitation going to the pool or beach with my girls this summer when I’m wearing that suit and I know that that’s extremely important for my daughters to see.

I do genuinely love myself as a person but it’s an ongoing struggle to love my body because I know my healthy weight is at least 20 pounds lighter than my current weight. I could say that I’m still trying to lose the “baby weight” from having my last daughter, but Jaycie is turning 10 this year and it’s certainly not her fault that I can’t be consistent with my weight loss progress.

I admit that I’m a stress eater and as my days involve balancing being a single mother, solo homeowner, freelance writer, jewelry designer, creator and marketer, I tend to get a bit overwhelmed. I’d much rather work out my stress by learning how to swordfight, hip-hop dance, kick butt with martial arts or all of the above but there isn’t any nearby access to such things and so I turn to food. Walking Jazzmin helps but with the heat and excessive amount of biting deer flies the past few weeks, those walks haven’t happened as often as they should.

Back to Step 1 of trying on bathing suits. I do not mean to sound conceited when I say this, but I consider myself an amazing woman. If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be where I am now, making it on my own with continued determination and strength, I’d have probably said you were crazy. Nevertheless, I am where I am and that all makes me and anyone else like me attractive. Confidence is attractive, being a good person is attractive, being the best mother I can be is attractive, believing in myself is attractive, honesty is attractive, a selfless spirit is attractive, the love of helping others is attractive, being a good friend is attractive, the love and ownership of shelter animals is attractive and while I know I’m not perfect, I do the best I can every single day and go to sleep knowing that I gave it my all.

So I share this picture of me in a bathing suit with my fuzzy, braided hair and non-hard body physique in the hopes that other women will see that we are all beautiful. I will expand on Bec’s Step 1 of “be attractive” by saying that you must also love yourself. We are all deserving of love and that love is the one we must give ourselves every single day.

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Confidence is Natural…

Mr. Bluebird perched confidently on my pine tree.

Mr. Bluebird perched confidently on my pine tree.

Confidence. The Oxford Dictionary defines confidence as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” A very apt definition. To me, confidence is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember. Perhaps everyone struggles with it at some point in their life. I often worry that if I am too confident in myself I will come off as conceited. Conceit defined as “excessive pride in oneself.” It can get rather confusing…to me anyway. Then again, I’m a human.

On my drive into work this morning I saw a red-winged blackbird sitting on the tiniest twig of a branch. He was rather calm looking and didn’t appear to have any fear that the twig was going to break and drop him. He knew his wings would catch him if the branch broke. He had confidence in his wings, or perhaps it’s just natural instinct. I envy animals and their instincts and I highly doubt they ever suffer from low self-confidence, worry, doubt or self-deprecation. Seeing that one bird sitting there started the wheels of thought in my brain and when they start, they’re hard to stop.

That blackbird didn’t spot that twig from the sky and think “I wonder if that will support me? What if it breaks and my wings suddenly malfunction and I drop to the ground? What if all the other birds laugh at me?” He probably thought: “Branch. Perch.” and accomplished exactly what he wanted to. No doubts, no fear, no worries, just action. That bird was confident in his abilities as a bird because he knows no other way to be. I envy him. I continued on this course of thought…

I always see hawks circling in the sky or perched on the wires between telephone poles. They’re searching for prey or resting from their last meal. When they spot a mouse, small bird or other oblivious impending victim they don’t think “What if I swoop down, misjudge my aim and miss the prey? What if the prey spots me and runs away? What if my wings get tangled and I tumble and fall gracelessly onto my head? Would my fellow hawks see? I’d never live it down! Would the prey come back and laugh at me?” They just dive and either get their prey or they don’t. If they miss, they’ll try again without a second thought and without a loss of confidence. That’s how they know to be. I admire them.

I am opening myself up for some ribbing from friends by saying this, but I then thought about squirrels. Those bushy-tailed rodents are always running across the road, scampering across wires and climbing trees. They quite often make great leaps from tree to tree and run the tightrope of wires spanning the road. Do they pause on the branch or wire and think “What if I gauge the distance wrong and miss the branch? What if I swish my tail incorrectly and topple from the wire? What if the car doesn’t swerve with screeching tires when I pause in the middle of the lane?” They just act, confidently and quickly. Their lives aren’t long enough to waste doubting their own abilities and there isn’t room in their devious little rodent minds for useless worry. I’m almost jealous. Almost.

It’s spring and therefore mating season among the birds in my yard. The male birds are constantly strutting around puffing out their chests and flapping their wings as they sing what must be a beautiful serenade to the female birds. They’re very competitive and chase each other away every other minute. Their instinct is telling them they need to mate so they do it. They don’t perch in bars, scan bird dating sites and spend hours fretting about having every feather in place. They do what they do and expect it to work and it must since there’s never a shortage of birds in my yard. They’re confident that they can get a mate because that’s how it has worked for countless years.

In my constant quest to be more confident in myself, I’m going to take lessons from the animals I observe around me. There is a balance and power in the animal kingdom that I’m certain can teach me quite a lot. I’m confident that when I stop tripping over my own worries, doubts and fears I’ll finally be able to spread my wings and truly fly…and perch on the tiniest branch of hope without the slightest fret of falling.

Leading the Pack

My dog Jazzmin “Sundance” Corbin is an adorable and loving mutt, just like me. I adopted her from a local shelter in January 2012 and my life has never been the same. I wasn’t a strong leader or an alpha dog when I adopted her. I was lonely and wanted a dog to be my companion when my daughters were with their father. Jazz happily took on the role of mama caretaker and pack leader because she sensed weakness in me and thought she needed to be in control. I only know all that now that I’ve started reading Cesar’s Way and watching The Dog Whisperer on Netflix. I can now see everything I’ve done wrong with Jazz and I’m working diligently to fix things.

I should have started reading Cesar’s books last summer when my close friend recommended them. He’s had dogs for most of his life and knows far more about them than I do. I grew up with dogs but I was never solely responsible for one until I got Jazz. My friend has met Jazz and while she dragged me along when he and I walked, the moment he took the leash from me, she was a totally different dog. Calm, obedient, attentive and eager to do whatever he asked.

In truth she was still the same dog but the energy my friend emitted was far more in control and “calm assertive” than my usual tense, worried and uncertain energy. That day he showed me that Jazzmin could be the dog I wanted her to be. Did I run right out and get Cesar’s books that moment because he suggested them? No. Why? A mixture of stupidity and stubbornness I suppose. But that was then and this is now and as Jazzmin lives in the now, all she cares is that her mama is finally fulfilling her as a dog.

While watching The Dog Whisperer I see a lot of dogs with behavior issues similar to Jazz. What that really means is that their owners are emitting the wrong energy and those dogs have become the pack leaders. I’m working really hard on improving my energy. I can be an overly perky and optimistic person sometimes but I have trouble believing in my own strength. I need to focus my positive outlook on myself and stop doubting my abilities. Becoming Jazz’s pack leader is extremely beneficial for both of us. Having more confidence in myself and taking on the role of pack leader allows Jazz to relinquish the role she never really wanted. It also improves who I am as a person and how I function in every aspect of my life.

I’ve been working on asserting myself as the pack leader for almost two weeks now. I get up early on the mornings I have my girls and walk her around the yard and driveway for 20-30 minutes. When I don’t have the girls I take her for longer walks after work. Jazz and I have greatly improved on the walk. She’s not pulling all the time and she’s less distracted by every bird, leaf, stray breeze and particle of dust we walk by. We’re still working on how she reacts to other dogs but we’ve made great progress! Last night I walked the “Doggy Gauntlet” with her. The Doggy Gauntlet is how I describe purposely walking by houses where I know the dogs are allowed to run free and it also includes walking by a local kennel. I walked Jazz with a Gentle Leader and an Outward Hound backpack weighed down with a couple of water bottles. (The Beanie Baby cargo in the pictures was just to get her used to the backpack and to make my youngest daughter smile.)

How did our walk through the Doggy Gauntlet go? Well, we lived to tell the tale but that tale will have to wait until the next post. Stay tuned!