It is 9:30 pm, and I’m nearly asleep. Except, I can hear the sound of marker on paper. A rainbow. A heart. A monster. My daughter is drawing something. And she is entirely focused on making it “just so.”
I’ve told her she can sit at the desk, and colour, if she’s having trouble falling asleep. And like a mini workaholic who can’t shut down at the end of the day, she sits. The desk light playing with her tiny shadow, making her seem way bigger than she is.
This is a girl who knows exactly what she wants. And she’ll fight anyone who gets in her way.
If she ain't tired, she ain’t sleeping. End of story.
Currently? She is in the midst of a kitchen chair protest. She stands at the table for every meal. Why? Who knows why. But she’s decided she’s taking a stand. Literally.
Feisty, this one. And as much as she invites all-out-rage in me, sometimes? I have to applaud her “I want THIS and ONLY THIS attitude.”
She doesn’t settle. And she stands up to anyone and anything that tries to bend her. Including the wind.
I am desperate for her to hold onto this sense of SURENESS. To live by her own rules.
And I want to teach her, more than anything, that doing things a little differently is 100% ok. Different is not wrong. And following your gut…your heart….that whisper in your ear…..it is more important than blindly following the fold, and letting the noise of the world drown out your own voice.
“Rules were made to be broken,” I say. “Just try not to hurt yourself. Or other people.”
Odd advice from your own mother, perhaps.
But what it comes down to? Is self-love.
What is self-love, anyways?
Self-love is about getting quiet enough to hear your own truth. It is about getting still enough to know your own thoughts.
And this? Is what living alone….for the first time EVER…..has made me realize.
When I first told my parents I was getting a divorce, one of the first things they said was…. “but, what if you’re lonely?”
They had my best interests at heart. But honestly?
Being alone has been the most peaceful thing I have ever experienced.
Never in my life have I been so in tune with who I am. And who I am? Is entirely comfortable with being alone.
It’s a kind of peace that perpetuates itself.
And it’s weird, because there’s a part of me that feels guilty for being so happy. Shouldn’t I want a “partner in crime?” A yin to my yang? A Ross to my Rachel?
Must like dogs
Sure. I’m not gonna lie. I’m all about the online dating scene. Partly to get my flirt on, and live out my “20s” in my “30s” on a Friday night. No promise rings please. But also? Partly for the hilarity of the whole shimozzle.
It is entertaining as fuck.
One guy’s profile stated that he “likes his coffee, how he likes his women. Without other men’s dicks in them.”
Wasn’t super attracted to him. But I gave him a right hook anyways, just to commend his blatant honesty and humour. He’s obviously been through some shit.
Another guy? Wanted a girl “who is willing to kill her own spiders.” An immediate leftie. Good luck, man. That is a rare breed. And definitely not me.
Also? It is a fascinating process to try and write your own dating profile. Who the fuck am I? In 2-3 sentences.
Even if you’re not single. I dare you to do it. It’s very telling.
Are you hi-jacking your own alone time?
Living alone….being single….it forces you to get comfortable with your own company. And for some, that aloneness is a red flag…..a shot to the ego that screams…. “you’re not good enough!”
But it’s all about perspective. And in my opinion, there isn’t enough alone-ness going on in society.
People are obsessed with partnering up, as if life is one giant game of rock-paper-scissors, and it’s impossible to play by yourself.
But even if you’re reading this, and you have THE BEST rock-paper-scissors partner EVER, I beg of you to consider what it would be like to spend more time by yourself.
I’m not a divorce pusher. Trust me, I’m not.
Each to their own, I say!
But truly……when was the last time you spent some quality time….ALONE?
I’m gonna guess it was when you were driving to work. Folding laundry. Chopping vegetables.
Or in the shower. This morning. For eight minutes.
And during those eight minutes, you likely:
(b) replayed a conversation (“why did I say that?!”)
(c) ran through your to-do list
(d) practiced an argument you might have (“if he says that, I’m gonna let loose on his ass”)
(e) criticized yourself for a mistake you made
(f) got yourself off
What do all of those things have in common? With the exception of the last one….they are all things that took place in the past, or may take place in the imagined future. And none of them allow you to just BE.
(Side note….I’m also not an orgasm pusher. But please, if you’re gonna do any of those things in the shower, make it f. F all the way).
So if the limited alone time you DO get is hijacked by past-you and future-you…..where does that leave present you? Where does that leave you time to hear your own voice? Where does that leave space for self-love?
The secret to self-love
My opinion? The self-love for dummies version?
You likely don’t have enough boring in your life. Enough “huh….what now?”
Spend time by yourself. And more than just the time it takes for you to snap a selfie.
Because for me, it is in those moments, that I have learned a little more about myself.
I have been able to set down expectations. Demands. And compromise. And I have listened to what I want.
And maybe coffee guy and I have more in common than I think. Because one of the things I’ve realized? Is I don’t like dicks in my coffee either.
I love indie folk (oh ya! I forgot about that genre).
Painted nails make me feel 22% sexier.
I want to learn how to surf.
The smell of cinnamon raison bread baking…..is the best smell on earth.
Discover who you are and what you want
And the more time I spend with myself, the more I realize…..I am a woman who knows what she wants. And I won’t let anyone, or anything bend me. Not even the wind.
Find stillness. Find quiet. Find peace.
Find more than 8 minutes to hang out with yourself. And see what kind of things bubble up to the surface. Who you are. What you want. And how you like your coffee.
My daughter, Clara, is a wild one. She pushes the envelope in every way. And she doesn't let anyone boss her around.
She asks for ice-cream in a cone....then eats it from that cone with a spoon.
She wears her fanciest red velvet Christmas dress to daycare on a Tuesday in July.
She eats soup with her hands.
And when you try to slip a t-shirt over her head, to help get her dressed, she rips it off, and puts it back on all by herself.
She doesn't let anyone sush her. In any way. Not even her ex-librarian mother who is pretty damn good at "shushing" (full disclosure, I aced the course on "shushing" in grad school).
And while I try hard to make sure she grows up to be a decent human being, with values and morals and kindness in her soul....there's part of me that witnesses her fiery attitude, and let's it be.
Because how many of us bend over backwards, just to appease others? How many of us alter who we are in order to steady the boat? How many of us quiet our wildness in order to fit in?
And truly......how exhausting is it to do all that?!
When I think about self-love, I think about coming home to myself. A reunion with the "me" that I sometimes do not allow myself to be. And although sometimes that can mean a little box wine in the bedroom, or some Ben & Jerry's in the bathtub......more often than not, self-love is simply setting down the effort I am putting into being loved or accepted by others.
Self-love is letting go of the identities that are keeping me hostage.
Self-love is coming back to the centre of my being, and reminding myself that nothing is lacking.
And as freeing as this act of metaphorically undressing can be.....it can also be a little uncomfortable. Because all of sudden, we're aware of that part to us that is heavy with disguise. The cable-knit sweater of our lives.
We're aware of that area in our lives that we want to be one thing, and are choosing another.
We're aware of where it is we are being restrained.
But guys, as often as I have seen that glaring reality in my own life.......it has been the greatest gift to be able to recalibrate my course. It has been the greatest gift to be able to feel like I can come home to myself at the end of the day, and not have to off-load the weight of who it is I am pretending to be.
For me, self-love has meant turning that sigh-of-relief, that reprieve, that window of me-ness into my entire life, my entire being. Not just being "me" when no one else is around.
Sure. No one gets it perfectly right. There will always be ways in which we give in to being the chameleon.
But the more we can do the self-love strip-tease, and give ourselves permission to love ourselves first, the closer we will get to true happiness and fulfilment.
So go ahead. Be the wild stallion you were born to be. Eat soup with your hands. And walk around as naked as you can!
Surprise evyerone around you.
And do it all unapologetically!