It’s a Monday afternoon and I’m on a lunch break from teaching during our Distance Learning. I’m sitting on my yoga mat, catching my breath, and cursing 1990’s Billy Blanks for kicking my butt with his Tae Bo Voodoo (this “Quarantine 15” is real, ya’ll). Suddenly, I start crying. I didn’t know working out could do that. Of course, they assure me it’s endorphins and I’m not going crazy. And so we’ll just go with that.

In an effort to release the “endorphins” *cough,* I decide to meditate. I release, ground, and center before I have to suck it up and “nurturingly” guide the teenage offspring to buck their natural instincts and actually do things like turn in the assignments they spent an hour working on and put their dishes in the dishwasher.  

I put on my relaxing music, sink into the mat, start to flow with my breathing and realize, suddenly, that I’m feeling a lot of love. I’m not sure why; nothing’s changed. The kids are still ignoring me and I’m still as single as the night is long.

It comes to me that what I’m feeling is Self-Love. Hmm. Okay, weird. So I sit in it and my mind drifts to school assignments. Then I bring myself back. Drift to lunch. Bring myself back. Drift to 8 million other things. Bring myself back because the feeling is still there, wrapped around me like a warm, soft blanket. Soothing heat radiates from my heart’s center to the tips of my fingers and toes. In that tight little cocoon, I feel light and an unfamiliar sense of calm. It’s as if each breath is feeding me, and my lips curl with a smile of appreciation on every inhale. 

Appreciation of me

Wait. Appreciation of me

Instant negativity. What the hell have I done that could lead to appreciating myself? Stop. Breathe. It came for a reason. Why? I ask myself, why can’t I just sit and enjoy feeling good about and loving myself? Why so quick to dismiss these feelings? What am I afraid of? 

Love is LOVE! 

It feels good! 

Why push it away? 

The joy it brings, the growth, the positivity, the. . .oh, that’s right…The Big “V”. 

Vulnerability

Multilayered emotions rise that, once they are peeled back, may reveal some things I don’t like or may not want to face, right? Yikes! Hello self-rejection and eating all the feelings away!

Why can’t I simply love myself? And I hear–in my head because that happens sometimes–it’s because you feel unlovable. Because you don’t feel worthy. Because you fail. Because you’re broken. Because you’ve spent your life striving for perfection in a world where perfection doesn’t exist. Because you people please. Because you compare. Because you expect. 

You don’t LIVE in the moment. 

You’re not STILL. 

You don’t appreciate the NOW. 

You don’t see value in who you ARE, in this moment, not who you aspire to be in a day, a month, a year. 

That’s your block. 

So what do I do? How do I clear it?

  How do WE clear it? 

How do we sit in contentment and love for ourselves–without wanting to change anything, without diverting attention because we’re uncomfortable? 

How do we “un” the uncomfortable?

The solution is actually pretty simple: Stop. Be still. Accept.

Stop comparing yourself to coworkers. Be still and accept that you bring value to the table. Stop blaming yourself for hardships your child is encountering. Be still some more. Accept that you are helping by being the best mom you can be. Stop looking in the mirror and seeing gray hair and a shape you don’t like. Be still and accept your body is a vessel and not a reflection of the loving, nurturing person inside. Stop thinking you’re “too much.” 

Be still and accept you are just the right amount of everything.

Accept that we are beings with both light and dark inside of us. Yin and yang. Ups and downs. Good and bad. Joys and challenges. Without one, we cannot appreciate the other. We need to see the beauty in the dents of our exterior, the quirks, the cracks in our brokenness, for they show us where love and light flood into our hearts and souls. 

The act of stopping, of being still and accepting? Well, that takes some practice.

I’ll get there, eventually.

And so will you.

So my challenge for you today is to go love yourself and love yourself hard

In the words of Elle King:

  You can’t be loved until you see love

And you can’t see love until you’ve known love

And you can’t know love until you love yourself.”

King’s words remind me to love myself more often.

So I’m going to try it.

Because I deserve it. 

And so do you. TZT

 

***

 

Jaime Bartochowski is a 2nd grade teacher at a K-2 school in Northwest Indiana. Her Zen journey began several years ago and continues to expand as she researches how to best incorporate mindfulness into her classroom. A severe weather enthusiast, when Jaime is not busy juggling momming and educating, she can be found trying to capture the best lightning shot on camera, dressing in all black, painting, and drawing.
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