Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Comparison is the thief of joy.

I grew up in dance, so a lot of my memories occur in a room with mirrored walls. It's not a foreign concept to me and it's not something I ever thought twice about as a young dancer. Fast forward 10 years and my relationship with the mirror is very different. I have a very funny relationship with the mirror, like many girls do. I try my best to avoid it all together, but when I do use it to look at an outfit or put on my makeup, I tend to get stuck. I find myself staring at a reflection that may or may not actually match what others see. Some days I can brush it off and move on. And some days I find myself sitting in the floor in front of my full length mirror weeping with frustration. I went through a period where I was obsessed with my distorted reflection. I'd catch myself staring at the reflection in store windows as I'd jog by or in the rear view mirror of my car. I followed myself everywhere I went.
Recently I've been enjoying exercising at Pure Barre. It has been so good for me and has helped me to appreciate my body for what it can do. The room at Pure Barre is set up a lot like a dance class and has ballet bars…and mirrored walls. Most classes I'm able to secure my spot in the back of the room farthest from the mirror, which is the perfect spot for me. It allows me to focus on myself and block out distractions. During class I find a spot on the floor to focus on and occasionally check the mirrors to make adjustments to my form.

Today I decided to face the dreaded mirror wall and make eye contact with myself during class. I think I spent about 45 out of the 55 minute class comparing myself to the other girls and thinking terribly mean things about myself. I honestly don't think I focused on my actual workout at all. I walked away feeling defeated and deflated. I love my 55 minutes of Pure Barre and usually walk away feeling stronger and with a sense of accomplishment. How could I let the mirror steal that from me? How could I, once again, let comparison steal my joy? How often do we let our opinions of ourselves detract from being present? More often than I’d like.

So tomorrow, as I return to my next class, I will resume my spot in the back of the room and focus on moving my body and appreciating it for its strength and resiliency. I will spend those 55 minutes blocking out the negativity and stressors of the day. And I will walk away with a sense of accomplishment and strength. Because I deserve at least those 55 minutes, and I refuse to let comparison steal my joy!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Valentines Day when I almost got abandoned...

Valentines day has never been my favorite holiday. For the most part, it’s a reminder that I’m very single. Superficially, it’s a reminder that I have no one to buy me flowers or chocolates, but deep down, I think Valentines day is actually hard because love is a hard emotion. We were created on this earth from love to give love and be loved. And on a day that celebrates being loved by a significant other, it’s hard to remember that there are other ways to be loved. However, since Valentines day of 2009, I have been reminded that love shows itself in funny ways. Let me paint you the picture:
It was my sophomore year in college and I was struggling physically, mentally, and emotionally. My friends stood by me, prayed over me, and held my hand through so many difficult days and nights. By February of that year, things were not getting better and my support system was at the end of their rope. So with projects, papers, and commitments looming overhead, 3 friends dropped everything they had, packed bags, and put me in a car to drive me to Brevard, NC to find some hope. At the time, I remember feeling blindsided and scared and confused and angry and exhausted (in hindsight, I laugh at the pit stops at Chick-fil-a for a computer plug in or the house tours from Sadie). Their master plan didn’t work out, but that’s really not what mattered in the moment. In the moment I was reminded that love comes in so many forms, whether it be from a significant other or from best friends who drop everything to show they care.

One year after the Brevard incident, we got an e-mail from one of the friends. This is what it read:
“A year ago today, four girls dropped everything they were doing, took off work, skipped class, neglected homework, gave up plans, packed up their stuff and got into a car on its way to Brevard.  Each of us made sacrifices that Friday afternoon, knowing that while we would have to deal the consequences later, none of them would compare to the love we had for one girl and the desire each of us had to do whatever it would take to help her.  In those 24 hours, I think each of us realized what it really meant to love and be loved and what it meant to have friends who really cared for each other, more than any one girl could do in her own strength, through God who cares for us more than we will ever be able to fathom. This trip is one that will stay on our hearts for a lifetime.  A time when we laughed and cried, prayed to God in thanksgiving and in fear, seeking direction and purpose for what we were doing. Here's to learning what love really is on a Valentine's Day that was maybe not ideal but one where God really showed us His abounding love and how to overflow that onto others.  Here's to the pain that each of us felt for each other, for the things we were going through.  Here's to the sacrifices we made, sacrifices that some might have called irresponsible, but sacrifices we knew were out of a care so deep none of us could even describe it, not then, not now.”

So every year, on Valentines day, when all couples are reminiscing about their relationships, I take a moment to remember how my friends kidnapped me, drove me to the mountains, and threatened to abandon me with a hippie named Sadie.

In all seriousness, I make sure to read these words every year on this date. To remind myself of how far I have come. And to remind myself what love can look like if you let it in. I am forever thankful and forever changed by a group of friends who helped remind me that I was worth loving.