Do me a favor. Download (or listen on YouTube and save the money) Sara Bareilles’s new song, King of Anything. I will wait.
Now then, press play, and you’re ready.
We’re planning your day -- a day just for you! I know what you’re thinking, I don’t have time for a “me” day. I don’t buy it. Take the time for yourself. But before we begin, get out a piece of paper and your favorite writing utensil--tube of lipstick, crayon, mascara, one of those seemingly obnoxious feather pens, whatever your heart so desires. You’re going to make a list. (I didn't make the list below but love its sweet truth ... :))
Write down all of the things you love about yourself. Is it your precious personality? Is it the way you can make others laugh? Your passion for social injustice? Your ability to read a book a day? Don’t leave ANYTHING out. No one else is going to see this, so don’t worry about sounding prideful. This is about embracing the entirety of the self--your self, your beautiful, perfectly-made, intelligent, creative being. Alright, now go.
You better not say that there isn’t anything you love about yourself. That’s false, and I don’t want to hear it. You’re lying to yourself, and guess what? You aren’t going to buy the lies any longer. Starting now. I’m waiting.
Now then, I want you to ponder the times when you are most joyful. Let me clarify my definition of joy, for joy and happiness are two different things. Happiness is derived from circumstances. Obviously we are not always going to be happy. Let’s be honest, some days are just crappy. Everyone knows those days. You bought a $4 Starbucks drink and it spilled all over your brand new J. Crew blouse. Who is going to be happy about that?
But that is where joy comes into play. I’m not sure what its exact definition is, apologies to my Webster’s lovers, but I would define joy as the eternal hope in the beautiful idea that everything will come together for the good of those who believe in something bigger than themselves. Being filled with joy does not reflect an emotional state but a daily choice--choosing to live believing that whatever happens will eventually work out, as long as you choose to make the best of it.
Because here’s the deal. I’m being completely honest. When you choose to live a joyful, hopeful, optimistic life, happiness is usually an instantaneous result. For when your perspective stretches beyond that spilled cup of coffee and stained blouse, so many of the irritating things in life just aren’t as annoying anymore.
I digress. Okay, so now you not only have a list of your favorite things about yourself but hopefully a clearer picture of when in life you find yourself to be most joyful, which more often than not results in abundant happiness.
It’s time for the last list. Don’t hate me. You’re going to be so glad you did this. I want you to write, or even draw a picture, about your perfect day. How would it start? Who would you want to talk to? What would you want to eat? What music would you want to listen to? What would the weather be like? Would you go shopping or relax in a pool raft all the live long day? Massage anyone? Pedicures? Tennis matches? Rock climbing? Coffee shops? Book store? This is about you--it is, after all, your perfect day.
Oh what a beautiful day that would be, but we don’t live in a land of perfection. We live in reality where our days consist of uppity fashionistas, divided homes, shattered relationships, screaming children, inconsiderate bosses, corrupt governments, and more broken people than possible to count. Overwhelming much? So much.
Our lives are full of pain and confusion. That is just the way it is and will always be. There will always be someone who is wealthier, skinnier, prettier, smarter, the list goes on. There are more questions than can ever be answered. When we focus on the questions, the hurt, the frustration, no wonder we’re left feeling as though an anvil is resting on our shoulders.
The secret to becoming a liberated woman is to break free from the pain of your past, the fears of today, and the worries about tomorrow--to live in freedom, trusting that you truly are an irreplaceable creation and that no matter what happens, you have the strength deep within you to make it through. To know what you love about yourself and the world around you is secondary but equally as important. To find moments of perfection in amidst your not-so-perfect schedules.
You are not on this earth to impress anyone but to embrace your uniqueness in order to better the world around you. I’m a quote girl, so let me share a few with you. (Also that way you have affirmation that I’m not the only who is urging you to think this way.)
“To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch ... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.” -Gary Lew
“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make optimism come true. Think only of the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Life in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.” -Christian D. Larson
So what are you waiting for? Liberation doesn’t happen overnight. It happens every morning as you choose to live each day free from your fears, free from the labels others might give you. Thoughts of insecurity will come and go, but do not claim them as truth over your life. You know better. Speak truth into your life. Commit to live a liberated life. Commit to live a life of love, a life of joy, a life of freedom.
If nothing else, put on some red lipstick, the perfect pair of pumps, and the sassiest dress you own. Go to the ballet -- ALONE. Disagree with someone. Take a bubble bath. Turn off your cell phone. Walk around the city without shoes on. Change a lightbulb. Break up with the crass troll (aka .... ;)). You are better than his snide remarks. Plant a garden. Make some pasta. Plan a trip to Africa. Embrace the power within you to live a full life -- full in every sense of the word, full of joy, peace, hope, trust, and above all love. You’re worth it.