Hello again, friends. Happy (very tardy) 2018! It’s been quite a while since I last sat down to write. Almost four months. And I’ve missed you! So welcome back! Last time we caught up I was finishing out my final challenge at The Camp. I wrote one last update and then went off the blogging grid for a bit.
Super speedy catch up: I spent time reading wonderful books. I listened to so many podcasts. I went to church more often and loved on Jesus. I worked out a lot because I wanted to, not because I had to. I spent quality time with friends, family, and most importantly, my husband. I turned 32. I ate tamales at Christmas and my gallbladder attempted murder. Overall it’s been a good time.
I anticipated that I would keep writing after my final challenge, but that didn’t happen. On several occasions, I sat down to write and the words wouldn’t come. Or they would come and I would erase them. I allowed this nagging, anxiety-ridden voice in my head to tell me that I had nothing left to say because I was done with challenges and that’s really what people came here to read anyway. And that stuck with me and kept me quiet, but I’ve been itching to write. And so I had to have a talk with myself. “I said ‘Water Lily,’ that’s what I call myself sometimes.” (Kudos to you if you know that reference.) Blanche Devereaux aside, I had to remind myself that I didn’t start this blog based on what other people thought. I started it as my own little therapeutic journal, and it got me through one heck of a journey. If I stop now and choose to let these assumed opinions of others dictate what I do, then it would completely contradict everything I wrote last year.
That being said, I’m back.
One month down in 2018, and we are at the beginning of one of my favorite months. February! As much as January is all about self-reflection and new beginnings, February is characterized by love and friendship. I’m especially fond of this month because of all the hearts and flowers and pink and red things that are everywhere. That’s all very me. I’m also a fan of chocolate, so there’s that. I’m definitely not of the “Valentine’s Day is just Singles Awareness Day” vibe. I have always loved Valentine’s Day to celebrate with friends. My best friend Vanessa and I have been each other’s Valentine since before we ever had boyfriends. If you’re sitting there thinking “Ugh, Valentine’s Day sucks” have a Gal-entines or Pal-entines instead! It’s fun if you let it be.
I digress. This post is not about Valentine’s Day alone. I think there is something we might be missing out on in February, or at least something I have not focused on before. Amorous and romantic connotations go hand in hand with the second month of the year, and I think it’s a wonderful time to celebrate those that you love. Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, children, friends, whoever. But we often forget about the most important person in our lives. Ourselves. We spend a lot of time loving on other people and we leave ourselves out of the equation. February should be a reminder to
be amorous with (poor word choice) love ourselves as well as others.
I cannot stress the importance of self love and self care enough. Even the Bible says, “Love your neighbor, as yourself.” You have to love yourself so you can know how to love others and so others can love you too. And it doesn’t happen overnight. I didn’t go to bed one night thinking, “Ok, I’m going to love myself tomorrow,” and wake up the next morning thinking I was Beyonce.
Self-love takes practice. It took me a very long time to understand why this was important. I’ve talked about how hard it was for me in my marriage when the only thing I practiced was self-loathing. I could not even accept a compliment from my husband without feeling awkward and ashamed. And I didn’t realize the way I felt about myself had a profound effect on the way I loved others. I had to rewire my head and heart after 30+ years of not even liking myself. It wasn’t until I could love myself that I was able to genuinely give or receive love.
Loving yourself should be something you practice everyday. February is just a happy reminder. February is the month I started this entire journey so it means a lot to me. Find your February. Take time this month to do something you love. Do something that is good for you. Even if it’s just waking up in the morning and stretching. This may sound awkward but try talking to yourself in the mirror. Tell yourself that you are loved and worthy of love. Speak out loud the things that you love about yourself. Even if you can only think of one thing. Say it out loud. Let that list grow. I started with one thing. I remember exactly what it was. It was the only thing I could think of. I said, “I love that I am a reader.” That’s it. I started very small, but I let myself build on that.
There are so many “challenges” out on social media right now. Fitness challenges, picture challenges, cooking challenges, etc. Just search #FebruaryChallenge and you’ll find a multitude of options. For example, my friend May is doing a February fitness challenge of 300 squats and 500 jumping jacks a day. (Not gonna lie, I want to try this too.) My whole adventure started with a challenge and I think it’s a great way to get something started. This month I challenge you to love yourself. Everyday. It’s a short month. You can do it. Do what works for you. For me, this means doing things I love like writing and reading. It means doing things that are good for me like eating whole, nourishing foods and working out. But it also means being gracious with myself when I’m not perfect.
Yes, love, love, love on everyone and everything. Love your loved ones, family, friends, and pets. If you want to have a big Valentine’s celebration, do the dang thing! If you dont, dont. But in all of this don’t forget about loving yourself. Find February and hold on to it. Let it take you through the rest of the year.
“We love because He first loved us.” 1st John 4:19