Autumn is my favorite time of year. I like the crisp air and the happy red apples beaming from baskets next to orange pumpkins. At the first snap of cold air, my ancient baking gene kicks on, and I start up making cornbread and cobblers, then baking pies and turkeys as the holidays make their way home each year.
I’m a fan of changing seasons. The changes in the weather make me come alive inside. I’ve already cleaned out my fireplace and stacked in the wood for the first fire of fall. I like the season so much I get ahead of myself sometimes!
And there’s nothing I like better than having a few good friends in, making some slow-cooked warm food and savoring a nice glass of red wine and conversation in front of a roaring fire. It helps that I have a drama-red living room, it looks great in the firelight!
This year, COVID has shut down the party. I haven’t had friends over in so long I barely remember anything about them from the neck down. ZOOM and FaceTime are cool, but you miss three-quarters of the person you’re talking to. All the body language disappears.
And being alone with myself has been challenging because “stuff” has started popping up in all the quiet. (Has any of your “stuff” popped up lately?)
I realized my identity has been built on accomplishments and relationships.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve rarely had a good relationship with myself. I always think other people have more going on in their lives. When other people tell me I’m talented, I look at them and see a success I haven’t achieved.
I’m a short, round brunette with straight hair and dark eyes, but I always thought I’d look better as a tall blonde with blue eyes. (Especially after I lost my first husband to a tall blonde.)
Spending so much time alone with myself brought up all my “stuff” – again. The stuff about me that I’ve always tried to change has been in my face every day since March. But facing my “stuff,” whilst being alone day after day, finally got to be too much. Can you relate?
I was squirming inside myself, crawling inside my own skin. My self-chatter was louder than the TV show I’d turned on to mute the voice inside my head.
Self-talk is the most important talk we have. I have criticized myself just about to death! But one day, while I was brushing my teeth, I was criticizing their every stain. My hair looked so straight and boring (again) as I looked in the mirror. And that voice inside my head cranked up again.
“You should die your hair a different color, you should whiten your teeth, you’re too round…” and, then (this was so wild!), spitting toothpaste foam all over my mirror I yelled, “STOP IT! I can’t do this anymore! I’m 63 years old, for crying out loud. I want to love me. I want to fall in love with me! I’m all I’ve got left!”
Next thing I knew, I was in my bedroom, naked, glaring at myself. But you know what? I couldn’t look at me with that much hatred anymore. It wasn’t fair. I just couldn’t be that mean to me anymore!
No, I’m not perfect, but I am who I am. At 63, I’ve run out of time to recreate myself as a tall, blue-eyed blonde. Looking into the stark reality of that mirror, I decided to see what parts of me I could love. (This is so cool, you should totally try it!)
Have you been waiting a long time to love yourself, too? I lead a lot of women’s retreats. When we talk about self-love at these retreats, we find most of us have done a great job of loving others, but we’re not very skilled at self-love.
In my showdown with that mirror, I decided to be kind to myself. I’ve aged pretty well. All those years of daily yoga and walks have paid off.
The curves in the body I was born into are rather pretty, actually. No, my round body doesn’t resemble the emaciated ones we see in magazines or the tummy-tucked girls of TV. Like you, I have a real body that has taken good care of me instead.
Accepting the gift of our lives is so important. Claiming what we have – instead of mourning what we’ll never have – brings freedom to our chained up souls.
Most of us who have born and reared kids, worked for a living, and given ourselves away to others look like it. And you know what? I think that’s okay. Actually, it’s better than okay! It’s pure, organic awesomeness!
My eyes are still as dark as a winter’s night. When I look into them, I see the deep pools of wisdom that age and life and death have brought to me. I have a generous smile, and I give it away freely. All in all, the woman I was looking at was pretty cool.
Self-acceptance is a doorway to self-love. When I looked at myself in the mirror that day, an avalanche of new feelings started tumbling out. I decided I like me.
I’m a great woman. I’m kind and generous. I’m funny. I’m attractive; I have fun with clothes and makeup. I make a mean gin and tonic (the way my mother-in-law taught me, “Does it have enough gin?”). I take really good care of the people I love. I’m ethical. I’m kind to kids and animals.
Make a list of your attributes! I’ll bet you’ve got a whole list of wonderful traits. Read the list out loud and experience the power of self-acceptance!
This whole self-love, self-approval, self-affection thing is just so awesome! As the autumn breezes blow in the change of seasons, I’m ready to find out just how deep this self-love can go. Because I have a feeling that the deeper I go, the happier I’ll be!
Have you experimented with self-love? Would upping your self-care and self-feeding as the seasons change help you love yourself even more? Try it and let me know how it feels!