Tuesday, March 11, 2014

#YEAR OF YOU! A How Bourgeois Mini- Series. Lesson ONE: Love, Nurture, Champion YOURSELF!

***Ack! Sweet readers, please go easy on me with this one.  I never meant to make this post so personal.  It's SCARY putting your vulnerabilities and deepest fears out there on the web! I firmly believe though, that one of the biggest gifts in life is having each other. We're not alone! And navigating through life's trials and tribulations together can be such an amazing, beautiful thing. I promise that not all of the installments of this mini-series will be this deep, we're going to have fun too! As always thank you for your caring comments and warm encouragement. I hope that taking the risk of sharing my inner-most struggles is testimony to how dedicated I am to the following ideas and the belief that through camaraderie, openness and love, we can make the world a more gentle and positive place! ***

Dear Friends,

WELCOME to the first installment of a new How Bourgeois mini-series!!! If you missed the introduction post from last week,  <------ br="" link="" s="" the="" there="">

Together we're going to explore eight fun, simple and EFFECTIVE things that you can quickly and easily do to change your life! Tackle any problem, big or small, with these eight tools, you're surely to see some brighter days! So come along with me and let's get HAPPY!!!!

Would you believe me if I told you that the key to solving many internal dilemmas essentially came down to one teeny tiny solution? That if you simply learned to love yourself, truly, genuinely loved and accepted yourself for exactly who you are, that many of your struggles would begin to fade and recede?

It sounds too good to be true. Kind of simplistic. A little new-agey, right!? But, it's true! 
Please do me a favor. Stop for a second, take a deep breath and just hear what I am about to explain. Roll it around in your mind for a bit, and I think you will come to agree!

When the springtime is new and the sun begins to shine down, and the birds sing their songs, we often go outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. We sit in the grass, our squinting faces to the sky, taking in the glorious day. We might even, in a rush of excitement and springtime happiness, hurry out, while leaving our bulky coats behind. All is well on on our little picnic blankets in the sun, that is.....until the wind blows. 

And wind is wind. There is nothing that we can do to stop it really. But there in the middle of our nice day, we have a choice to make . We can either let that wind make us feel cold and retreat back inside, ending this lovely afternoon, or, we can say to ourselves: "Wow! It's the springtime wind. It smells so wonderful! I think I'd like to fly a kite!"

Surely you've heard this type of analogy many times before, but life is all about what you make of it, how you react to it. Attitude is everything! Well, AT LEAST 90%!

But what does this have to do with learning to love and accept yourself?

Wait. What DOES attitude have to do with loving yourself???? (Hold on one second........... I need to check my notes.)
.................................................................................. **crickets **.......................................

JUST KIDDING! I knew all along that attitude has EVERYTHING to do with loving yourself!!!! ;)
Here's how I see it, accepting and liking who we are does not come easy for most. Many, if not all of us grow to become our own worst critics. A positive attitude is the most powerful catalyst to changing set ways and learning to like ourselves!

Without awareness of our attitude and inner voice, this whole self-acceptance thing wouldn't happen!

Take a moment to think about what an average day of inner-dialogue would be for you. What do you say to yourself on a daily basis when you look in the mirror or get dressed in the morning? What types of "truths" do you tell yourself as you work, whether at a job or at home? 

As an example, I know what my typical, without awareness daily dialogues are to these questions so I will share.......

Just so you know,  I'm not compliment-fishing. I'm just answering the above dialogue questions to
1) give an example and 2) show that I'm just like everyone else. We all have our times of doubt.

I often look in the mirror and say without fail: "Oh, you're so chubby. Why can't you be thin like everyone else? People must think I'm a joke. Look at my hair, it's so frizzy. My skin, my skin is terrible. I feel sad. I feel unattractive. I feel really inferior......"

Do you want to know something funny? To this day, unless I am "practicing" self-acceptance (which we'll talk about in just a sec!) I can not look straight at myself in the mirror! It's true! It's always been a running joke with my friends, I do this strange head tilt when looking in the mirror. Do you know why? Because I've always HATED the way that I look, and when looking in the mirror, I conditioned myself to not be able to really look straight ahead and fully at myself. Sad. :(

Here is a (sorry, grainy) photo that I took of myself this morning. It was going to be for a spring/summer outfit post, but I realized that I need better lighting for that. You can see that I'm tilting my head, and even here, I was trying to be aware of looking more head-on.
This learning to like and accept yourself stuff is an on-going process. Until it becomes second nature, it takes persistence. You just have to keep chugging along...........

When I'm working on the blog or getting things accomplished at home, when I'm not practicing awareness of my attitude, my internal dialogue always goes like this: "Is this blog post OK? They're not going to like it. My blog is so boring. I'm embarrassing myself, I should stop." And I also say things like this last night when I burnt myself AGAIN while making dinner: "Ugh! I can't cook. I really can't. I'm such a failure. I'm always burning myself AND the food. I don't think they even like what I make. I'm not cut out for this."

GOSH I SOUND WHINY! But I assure you, there is a big difference between pity-party and negative inner-dialogue. Having a pity-party for yourself is a deliberate choice, often done when seeking consoling and support. On the other hand, when you carry around true self-doubt, the things that you tell yourself are usually said while on auto-pilot, without awareness. Your daily conversations quietly become your own truths.


OK! So now it's time to learn how to turn our spontaneous, negative, words and reactions into conscious, positive, BEAUTIFUL, HELPFUL, EMPOWERING  dialogues of self-love and acceptance!

Remember in my last post, I was talking about the book that changed it all for me? It's called "The Art of Extreme Self-Care" by Cheryl Richardson." This book is invaluable, go out and find a copy if you haven't already!

Cheryl suggests a version of the following exercise: Each day, make sure you stop and take a moment to look into a mirror. You might have to force yourself to do this, or perhaps you look in a mirror many times a day to do things like brush your teeth, comb your hair, or to look at your outfit. Regardless of how often, every time that you do look in a mirror, stop for a moment and tell yourself simply: "I love you."

At first this might sound crazy. And even more so, it might FEEL CRAZY!  I know for me, I felt like THE BIGGEST WEIRDO facing myself in the mirror and saying: "I love you Lauren!"  And if you are anything like me, you might feel the surprise emotion of shame like I did. Shame for saying something that felt pompous at first like: "I LOVE ME!" All of my life I felt that being vain was something one should not be. Looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself how much you LOVE you..... it can just feel really vain at first.

But here's the truth, we're not talking about "loving" your awesome bod, or your gorgeous hair and just telling yourself that you're "all that." Those elements are superficial compared to your true self, to your soul.  Learning to overcome your worries about physical characteristics comes with acceptance and attitude work AFTER first learning to love your INNER self. I am talking about caring for, loving, accepting the real you, deep inside. It all begins there!

Many of us didn't get as children or don't receive now, all of the safe nurturing, encouragement and warm affection that we need to navigate this world. That's OK though, because you have YOU. And learning to care for yourself with gentleness and devotion to your little inner voice, that my friends.......can change your world!

Look in that mirror and say: "Hey you! Eight-year-old me with the plaid framed glasses and the tangly, messy hair...... I love you! You're perfect just the way you are." " Hey me! Thirty-six-year old, fluffy me with the head full of GRAY HAIR..... I love you! I wouldn't have you any other way. YOU ARE ENOUGH."

Then give yourself and imaginary hug or a high five, or whatever. Look at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself: "I love you for who you are. You are enough."

Your inner voice has always said : "I was a hyper-active child who's bounciness and noise annoyed my parents." Your new message can be: "But you were enough, you were good, you were fun. I love you."

"I was made fun of every single day as kid. I was too fat, too ugly, too afraid, too awkward." Now you can say:  " I love you because you were and are YOU. I wouldn't want to be anybody else. I like you a lot. It's ok, you are enough."

"I've made mistakes. I didn't apply myself in school. I should have a career. Am I the best mother that I can be?" "It's ok. I love you. I think you're fine, you're great. You are enough!"

Give yourself permission to heal, move forward, GROW, BLOOM, SHINE!!!! :)

You're not making excuses for shortcomings. You're accepting yourself for who you are. Accepting the past in a loving way and moving forward so that your FUTURE decisions, your FUTURE dialogs can be made in positive ways, so that your FUTURE is happier!

So does this exercise make sense? YOU NEED TO LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF FIRST.

Now comes the nitty-gritty stuff. The part where you ACCEPT how you are and what is. That acceptance helps to propel you ahead, away from doubt and into stronger, better feelings and problem solving!

Again, I'll use a personal example so that I can better illustrate this point. This example will be about body image, but you can apply the concept to any area in your life that you struggle with or brings you stressful emotions......gray hair.....relationships with family....anything!

So, I've always struggled with confidence, especially surrounding my body image. I'm only five feet tall, so that's been hard enough. I was made fun of for the way that I looked, starting in first grade. I can remember the exact day that it began, it's as clear as a movie in my mind. Little six-year-old, first grader me, asked to use the restroom. I quietly walked down the hall and to the girl's bathroom. Somewhere half-way through the trip, a group of second grade girls came in (they seemed practically ANCIENT to me at the time), they banged on the door to my stall and one even climbed on a toilet next-door and peered in laughing. When I came out, they were all pointing and laughing. I was mortified and terrified and crushed. I ran out. They never stopped. This went on for years. Girls and boys, I was an easy target for them. Small, with funny plaid-rimmed glasses, I had a propensity for being anxious and I  cried when my parents dropped me off at school. In middle and high-school the teasing my merciless. EVERY DAY I was taunted, called "fat" or  just antagonized for whatever reason. The funny thing is in retrospect was that I WASN'T FAT AT ALL! But, I thought I was..... I hated myself. The bullying never stopped. Even in college the boys who lived in the apartment below us love to call out rude, non-flattering things to me when I rode by on my bike.

The sixteen years of those messages really sunk in. They became MY inner dialogue of not being good enough or thin enough or pretty enough. I gained the freshman 15 and lost it, then gained some weight again when I became a Mother. Over the years I have beat myself up inside and have felt guilt ridden about it. I've joined Weight Watchers four times in the past fifteen years, each time losing 30 or more pounds and each time, eventually, slowly, gaining it back. 

In the long-run 95% of all diets fail. This is an absolute, scientifically proven truth. Yes, diets can and do work. Weight Watchers did! BUT.... if we do not change the way we eat permanently, making food and exercise a LIFESTYLE CHANGE, 95% of the time, the weight-loss will come back. While balanced and reasonable, the reason Weight Watchers works is because it is comparative deprivation and a deviation from your normal eating habits. Once you stop RESTRICTING your calories, you begin to slowly eat as you did before, therefore, the weight comes back on. Much worse I should say, is that with the weight gain comes guilt! Shame! Self-hate! Each and every time that I would work so so hard to lose the weight, only to have it return, I'd just feel so horribly guilty and sad. I would feel like a terrible failure and I would hate myself even more than before the diet.

This is why diets don't work. Restriction does not work in the long-run. What does work is changing the way that you look at food, becoming aware of why we eat the way that we do. Is our eating emotionally based,  or is it something else? Awareness and lifestyle changes, not deprivation are the key to positive, permanent change. If you'd like to learn more about this topic, I can not recommend the book "Intuitive Eating" by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch enough. I love this book so much and find it such an essential guide to self-acceptance and finding a healthy balance, that after reading the library's copy twice, I bought it for myself!

Where I'm getting at with all of this diet talk (insert YOUR personal issue here) is this: you take a negative self-dialogue and you become aware. You learn about the roots of this incorrect "truth" that you sell yourself, and you learn about ways to overcome your misconceptions.

For me, it was researching online, finding this book, and (most importantly) starting with a clean slate and accepting who I was! I gave myself permission to stop punishing myself and criticizing myself when I was NOT on a restriction diet. I started there.

Over time, I've come to have a more healthy relationship with food.  I'm learning to honor my body's hunger cues and eat when I feel hungry without guilt, and stop when I'm full without over-eating. It is an on-going process. One that requires practice!

Another thing that I did to work on my body image and self confidence, and to just get healthier, was to address exercise. How many of us have started an exercise routine, only to not keep it up?  I know that I have! \(^ - ^) <------- hand="" m="" my="" nbsp="" p="" raising="">
OK, so I said to myself "what do I have to do, to tailor an exercise routine to ME, so that it will stick!?"  What was holding me back and stopping my past  exercise routines from becoming lifestyle changes? Pretty simple: it was time. I never felt like I had time in my busy day to exercise. As many of you might have experienced as well, when you're a parent and/or a spouse, most of your time is devoted to running a household and the needs of your family. Not feeling like I had enough time to fit in regular exercise was my downfall.

Now that I had that awareness and understanding, I stopped to consider what kinds of exercise that I truly, truly enjoyed. Walking immediately came to mind. I love walking, I always have. So with that, I started out to find my perfect exercise adventure!

At first I played around with all kinds of variations to see what would work best for me. I walked outside in the neighborhood, I walked inside on the treadmill. I walked at the incline set at level 2 and I walked with the incline set at level 10. And, most importantly to my situation, I experimented with duration, walking for anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour.

Over the course of a month I came to find that what worked best for my life was twenty minutes a day or so of fast walking with an incline. And intense burst of cardio. While a measly twenty minutes of cardio a day would be laughable to some, it had been such a great fit for me, that seven and a half months later, I have exercised almost EVERY SINGLE DAY! :)

I've never exercised every single day for any length of time in my life! And I enjoy it, I love it now!

You need to love yourself enough to tailor your solutions to YOUR needs, not society's dictates!

After all of this, I might only be a size smaller, but I'm gleaning more self-confidence with each month that goes by. I'm feeling fit and energized and a sense of accomplishment.  When I'm out walking up one particularly large, steep hill along my route, I always say to myself: "I'm doing this to be healthy and fit, not to change myself." I stand up straight rather than leaning into the hill, and I feel with each step, the strength of my muscles pulling me up the hill! I accept who I am. I'm not trying to please the criticisms of my negative inner voice. I'm loving myself enough to be my most healthy, happy and well-balanced me!

Sooooooo........ in conclusion, as you can see, that whole swirly mash-up that is attitude and forgiveness and acceptance and love, it all adds up to better things.  Positive things! Problem solving!  :)

For example, a sudden 45 degree, sunny day in frozen-solid Michigan!? Live like it's summer! Turn lemons into lemonade. ANYTHING is possible with positivity!

With so much thankfulness and love, until next time when we talk about the lovely art of setting boundaries and dun...dun....duuuuuuuuuuuhhhh......... learning to say "no"!

Lauren :)



Lulusma said...

Excited about this series, Lauren!
I'm working on self-compassion and acceptance as well (oh and letting my gray grow out at 33!). Just wanted you to know you are not alone and I appreciate you sharing so honestly. Give yourself an extra high-five! ;)

Lauren said...

Hi Lulusma!

Awwww, thank you so much. I'll take that high-five! :)
It's nice to know I'm not alone in this. I felt scared after hitting "publish", so I appreciate your comment very much!
Lauren <3

stephanie said...

i love your blog, and check in regularly! this is going to be a great series! it's definitely something i very much need right now (as i struggle with negative self-talk, am letting my hair gray naturally at 34 w/ limited support, and dealing w/ some extra lbs). thank you for sharing!! hugs!

Lauren said...

Hi Stephanie!!!!! :)

Hugs to you too!!! Thank you so so much for reading along. I really think that working through all of this together is 100 times better than anyone, myself included, being at home alone and always thinking about my flaws. Thank you for your comment, I can't tell you how your support helps!
We're in this together!
Lauren :)

Carolyn said...

Great start to an important series for so many of us! I've struggled with all of this over the years. I'm now letting my hair grow out at 52 (I didn't even start coloring until about 4 years ago and I'm kicking myself for starting!) and I'm trying to "be enough". I've got some chronic health issues which limit what I can do physically and I'm dealing with the guilt of not being able to do all that I used to do. It's a struggle not to beat myself up because of this. Thanks for this series!

Lauren said...

Hi there Carolyn! Thank you for your comment. I'm so sorry about your health issues and the limits that they put on you. I can imagine that must be hard. Gosh, growing out your gray is hard enough! I'm glad that you're following along and I hope that I can help, even if it's in a small way. I was just saying to someone that often times, because we are our own worst critics, we don't have much room to see all of our good qualities. Qualities that everyone else see!

I'm thinking of you Carolyn and sending good thoughts your way! Thank you again for taking the time to comment. I appreciate that so much.

Darian said...

I fall into the same traps you described and have felt many times that I wasn't "enough". I know better...I have a happy family, loving husband, and good job, however every day I feel like I am a fraud. Primarily because I cannot accept the good I have ...that somehow, I don't deserve it and I should always be trying to do more. Something I heard and try to remember is, "comparison is the thief of joy."
I look forward to your series and thank you for being honest and sharing your journey with us.

Unknown said...

Please make yourself the promise from this day forward dear Lauren never to sell yourself short (cute pun intended), or for that matter let anyone else make you feel small ever again. You are a 5 foot tall dynamo who, without realizing it, impacts your readers in such positive ways. Readers such as Lulusma, Stephanie, Carolyn and numerous others who regularly check in to your blog will agree with me when I tell you that we are all genuinely interested in what you have to say. Candidly revealing your inner struggles to us as you are in your mini series, endears you to us all the more. We are your fans and friends and you are our insightful wordsmith, our sparkly-eyed spirit, our kind-hearted nurturer and our beautiful older/younger loving sister. You take the time to creatively write and make our days brighter. You have only just begun to touch the tip of the iceberg with what all you are capable of doing. You are our champion Lauren. Dear modest girl, I hope you will publish this comment. You deserve to be acknowledged for the wonderful woman you are. Perhaps you might want to print this note off and carry it in your pocket to pull it out whenever a doubting moment starts to creep in. Look straight into the mirror and see who we see - and lovely lady with a tender-hearted soul and mind.

Your loyal reader Christine from Oakydoakyville, Ontario

Citronjaune68 said...

Lauren, I'd like to write so much things after reading this great article, who is a gift for your lectors.
The language barrier prevents me to write a lot, but if I just let my heart speak I can say that you're a beautiful person Lauren, do not doubt !
I am impatient for the other series !

Lauren said...

Dear Darian,

THANK YOU for sharing that quote with us...."comparison is the thief of joy." Oh my gosh, if that isn't TRUE, than what is!? I absolutely love this saying, very poignant. Thank you for teaching it to me.
I was just saying to myself today that I "can't stop my anxious thoughts" when I have them, but then I realized that I really can, they're just our thoughts, and it's the attitude that I take of whether I can or can't be in charge. This goes along with negative thoughts. Different theme, same category.
What I'm saying is that we do have the power to accept and decline thoughts. It just takes tons and practice. I need sooooo much more practice. :) Thanks again, you made me think so much with your quote. I greatly appreciate it. Thank you for reading along. We're all in this together! xoxoxoxo,

Lauren said...

Oh Christine, my new dear friend, my CHAMPION!!!! MY #1 cheerleader!!!!

Thank you from my heart for your AMAZING words. Your amazing, CARING, eloquent and warm words. Your words that move me and are so touching, each and every time. (Hint...hint... I am hoping you saw a post a while back direct to YOU! I didn't want to use your name without permission, but know how much your encouragement means to me and how your kindness has impacted my life, for the very good!) :) :) :)

Thank you so much for everything you have said in your comment. I am taking a deep breath, and rolling around all of your words in my head. I PROMISE to take them to heart, and I think you are right! I ALSO need to take them around with me in my pocket! :)

(Also, before I forget, FANTASTIC PUN! I love puns, that my friend was good one!) LOL. ;)

Thank you for your support Christine. I really mean that. After writing this particular post, I took a step back, felt pretty nervous, but also thought: "Wow! I'm hard on myself." The writing gave me more clarity, and now your words and the words of other dear readers, help me to see even more that 1.) doubt is normal and human, but 2.) going forward in positivity and kindness to ourselves is the key! <3

All of your encouragement has lifted me up Christine. I want you to know that the kindness you've extended to me through your words here, and your "mail" ;) ..... you have really truly demonstrated to me another level of warmth and love and goodness out there in the world. So thank you from my heart. <3

Much love to you and THANK YOU for reading along! This is yet another journey we seem to be on! Have a GREAT end of the week!!!!
From your loyal Lauren in MuchMushySnow, Michigan,

Lauren said...

HELLO my FABULOUS French friend Citronjaune68!!! <3
It's so nice to receive your comment again! Thank you very much . I can understand what you are saying and I feel very honored that you are one of my readers. Hooray! I think of your often and hope that your gray hair journey is still going well. I enjoy YOUR posts on your blog very much! I think you are looking BEAUTIFUL with your silver, shiny hair! :)

Thank you for reading along. This is an emotional mini-series sometimes, but I think it will also be happy! I appreciate so much, all of the friendship from you and the other readers. I don't feel alone! So, thank you!!!

Have a very nice day! Please take care!!! :)

Unknown said...

The sun is shining this morn in Oakydoakyville for a couple of reasons. Aside from Mother Nature wanting to give us a sunshiney hug and a break after surviving yet another blast of winter snow yesterday, I am also basking in the warmth of your lovely comments Lauren.

And yes, to my very great delight I did read your post several weeks back which featured a certain Canuck by the name of Christine instantly making her somewhat of a celebrity amongst her kids. Alas, I believe my Immediate response to you on the day of your post must have been among the dozens of comments sucked up by the "Polar Vortex" of Blogdom. Initially I thought I might have missed a step in sending my comments and re-typed them a second time hoping they would appear. When they still didn't pop up after a day or two, this Nordic Nellie backed off from typing a comment yet a third time for fear of being viewed as somewhat of a 3 time eager beaver.

Now that everything is back on track, I want to say how profoundly special your words to me were. I like being singled out when it's done in such a sweet way. Including Noah in the blog was so precious. What a wonderful role model you are for him! You are a treasure. How fortunate for your family and friends and all of us to have you in their/our lives.

Please consider yourself hugged all the way from Canada - Christine

P.S. I began a women's walking group about 5 years ago. Every Sunday morning (rain or shine - no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear) we walk for 1.5 to 2 hours as part of a training program for the 2 half marathons we walk each year for charity. We've dubbed ourselves the Nordic Nellies (hence the reference above) and are very low-key. We don't have a burning need to be first; in fact we're usually at the back of the pack smelling the roses along the way, enjoying the crowd support and finishing the race in our best possible time together as a group. Five years ago we started training for our first 5 km and now we're up to 21! See what one can do? Committing to and meeting up with a group at a regularly scheduled time and place is the best way for me to "just get 'er done". As a fellow avid walker and How Bourgeois reader, I hereby extend to you a standing invitation to join us any Sunday you happen to find yourself in the Toronto area. Yes, I really mean it.

Toodles (for real now)

Lauren said...

Oh wow! Wow! WOW!!!!
To my lovely, AMAZING friend from OkayDokeyVille! :)

THANK YOU so much for the beautiful invite to train with the Nordic Nellies. Ha! I love that name! I am completely impressed with how accomplished you all are . TWENTY ONE 5K's!? That is AWESOME!!! Wow, now I am patting YOU dear Christine on the back! :)

I understand your love of walking. In fact, yesterday I wasn't going to let 8" of new-fallen snow stop me, so I trudged through on my walk! I am also enjoying this new, sunny weather! <3
Thank you very much for your invitation, I will definitely take you up on it if I find myself near Toronto on a Sunday. So lovely and sweet of you top extend a welcome. <3 <3 <3

ALSO.....oh my goodness!!!.....ALSO....I am sooooooo incredibly sorry and sad that I did not receive your comment form before. Yes, that bloggy polar comment vortex thing did a number on this blog. If you can imagine, I came to find 150 comments just floating around, unpublished! :(
To this day it still does not work properly, so I just visit at least once a day to look for comments that need publishing. I am so sorry Christine. Please know that I will ALWAYS welcome your comments and anyone else's. I am very open and you are so welcome to say anything, ask anything....you will never step on my toes. I'm kind of an open book! :)

Thank you so much for your kind words in your latest comment. I received your hug and I'm sending one to you too!!!

Enjoy that sun shine my friend!!!!
Lauren :)

Angelle said...

Just downloaded both books on my Kindle. Love you blog and this post. I'm 33 and growing out my grays...

Lauren said...

Hi Angelle!!!!

Oooooh I'm so glad! I hope you like the books, they are booth wonderful. I love them.

It's very nice to meet you. Thank you so much for reading along! <3

I hope your gray hair journey turns out to be as meaningful and interesting as mine was. I'm sure it will be!

More gray hair posts to come in the future. I'm thinking of one about clothing and make up colors to go with new silver hair!
Take care and thank you again!

Valerie said...

Dear Lauren, I love reading your posts. It is so nice to know, that I am not the only one who struggles with all of this! So wonderful to have a kindred spirit. Looking forward to reading more. =) Thanks so much for sharing. And you truly are lovely. No matter what that mirror tries to tell you. =)
Your friend, Valerie

Lauren said...

Dear Valerie,

Oh thank you! Thank you! That was such a nice comment and I appreciate the sentiment. I love having you as a reader and friend. One of my most supportive! I agree, kindred spirits. <3
Thank you Valerie. So much love to you and gratitude.