Lessons Learned

Erin Brown is a writer, speaker and activist whose work focuses on women, healing and autonomy.  I had the pleasure of meeting Erin last year in Kansas City at The Women’s Fitness Summit and have referred to her and shared some of her work in the past.  Erin published her second book just a few weeks ago, Letters to Lola, a book written to her daughter about Erin’s own life and advice she hopes her daughter can draw on as she grows up.  I immediately ordered the book online and I read it within the night I picked it up from my mailbox.  Definitely a quick read, but not an easy one, with heavy topics being discussed.  Upon finishing the book, and while I was reading, I reflected on my own journey through life so far and the lessons I have learned.  I am going to share with you some things that stood out to me that Erin discussed in Letters to Lola and why those statements have had such a personal impact to me.

“How you feel about me is between you and your self-esteem.”
I have talked about this before but I am remembering more and more that when we make a comment about someone else, or someone makes a comment directed at us, it has to do with the commentator, not the commented.  Quite often, we feel threatened by the actions, appearance, or personality of someone else and we are quick to judge.  What I have been focusing on in my own life is to question myself instead.  I try to ask myself why a particular person makes me feel the way I do, and direct my energy into changing whatever shortcomings I feel within myself that are causing me to react in such a way. 

“Being alone is its own gift.”
I have recently gone through a breakup and have never truly cherished being on my own until now.  Relationships can be amazing and I do have some great memories of mine but we often forget what it is like to be on our own once we begin to get comfortable with someone else in our lives.  We fall into the trap of constant validation from others; this may even apply to friendships, not strictly relationships.  We have to learn that being on our own is okay. We are allowed to feel confident and appreciate ourselves.  Now, that is not to say we can’t have our alone time being in a relationship.  Something I will take into my next relationship, whenever that may be, is that although two people can spend great amounts of time together, it is okay to take a step back now and then and enjoy what you have to offer to yourself.

“You matter. Regardless of what roles and identities you take on.”
This is a fitting statement that I hope my own mom reads and can appreciate.  We often get caught in roles, becoming the giver, and forget sometimes to stop and make time for ourselves.  For my own mom, she is the biggest giver I know (besides her own mother, may she rest in peace).  As moms especially, it becomes second nature to worry about ensuring your children, spouses, and families are happy that your own needs become neglected.  I hope when the time comes for me to have my own family, I can learn from how my mom mothered us, but remember to not lose myself.  As I begin to work more in the fitness world, I have to also remember this statement.  I need to make time for myself and my own workouts and down time.  Regardless of your roles and identities in life, we must remember that as much as we pour out of our cup to others, we need to take time to fill our own cup back up.   When we forget about our own cup, the quality of what we can pour out to others is also affected.

“Loving someone doesn’t always mean you stay, not when it means you can’t love yourself there.”
When I read this statement, I not only thought of relationships I have been in, but friendships, and other situations that were toxic to my own quality of life.  I have removed friends from my life for this very reason.  As hard as it was at the time, I knew that in order for me to live the best possible life, those particular people could not have the significant role I once gave them.  I gave up a sport I once loved because I felt that I couldn’t be happy in the environment anymore.  We will all go through life with circumstances and debates on staying or leaving, whether it is a relationship, friendship, or career.  We must remember that our quality of life and the ability to love ourselves fully are more important than any person or job can ever offer.    

“You have the power to decide you are enough. You have the power to decide your home will not be subject to society’s limitations. You are powerful.”
This speaks leaps and bounds to me right now.  My life has changed drastically in the last few months after a breakup and now finishing university.  However, I am honestly the happiest I have ever been and feel that I am in the best place in my life.  I have recognized that I am enough.  I am MORE than enough!  I am motivated and inspired to take on life’s challenges and give it my all.  I feel powerful in that anything I set my sights on, I will achieve.  I have big goals in mind but I know with hardwork and commitment I will be able to prove to everyone what I am capable of.

These statements hit home with me.  I hope they have also resonated with you on some level as well, and allowed you the opportunity to evaluate aspects of your own lives.  I challenge you to take time to reflect and make positive changes towards leading the best life.  A life filled with love for yourself and others, happiness, and confidence to take on whatever this crazy life throws at you.

Be fierce.  Be strong.  Be vibrant.

Rachel

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