Posts tagged The Life of an Empowered & Poised Female
#MAKE by Makeupless Maura

More than Makeup

I can remember at six years old being obsessed with makeup. It was colorful, glittery, and sparkly. My best friend and I would cover ourselves head to toe with all the body glitter and lip gloss we could get our hands on. Then we would ooh and aah at how pretty we had made ourselves look.

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Fast forward ten years later when I was sixteen. The interest in makeup and a fixation with looks had not gone away from my friends and me. Friday afternoon getting-ready-parties were the norm. We showed up to the host’s house clad with our own goodie bags of eyeliner and blush. Ready to devote our conversation, time, and energy to our outfits, hair, and makeup for wherever my friends and I were headed for the night. It was a weekly quest for an unrealistic perfection that could never be reached. 

The most pivotal declaration in my life so far occurred at a getting-ready-get-together on the first Friday night of my junior year of high school.

The chatter on this eyeshadow or that one, whether to use lip liner or not was endless.  Painting our faces with makeup because it was simply the norm clearly took up so much of our time and effort.

I announced, “Guys, what if I went a year without wearing makeup?”

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I received quizzical stares and doubtful responses at first. But I was serious. Their doubt only increased my want to do such a thing. I wanted to prove to them that you could spend this amount of time without lip gloss, eyeliner, or mascara. Once they started to warm up to the idea, my friends suggested documenting my experience.

That Monday, September 1, 2014, @makeuplessmaura on Instagram made its debut with a makeup free selfie post. For the next 364 days, I turned Makeupless Maura into a research project that explored all of the beauty standards prevalent for females in society and culture today. My research brought me to look into self-love and real beauty campaigns, the beauty industry, and how to have confidence in yourself, skin, and body. I posted on the account daily with updates on my progress and captions promoting a societal shift in thinking about beauty. I was a lab rat in my own experiment.

When I finished one year later, I felt senses of both completion and personal growth. I have continued to credit my increased communication skills, confidence levels, and intrinsic motivation to this project.

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Since then I have realized that beauty expectations are not not the only female stereotypes that needed to change. Despite whatever society says, girls, women, and females can do anything. Women can be leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators. That's the definition of feminism that I believe in.

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I felt the need to use Makeupless Maura as a new source and network for addressing all of the societal standards prevalent for women- not just beauty standards. This past fall, I morphed Makeupless Maura into MAKE by makeupless (@make.bymakeupless).

M A K E is stage two of Makeupless Maura. It is more than makeup. It channels the aspect of exploration that I completed in my original project, on females and the beauty industry, but broadens the platform to more than just beauty. MAKE, derived from Makeupless, signals doing and action- what MAKE is all about. On MAKE, we’re highlighting women, girls, and their supporters who are:

Making a change in the beauty industry

Making headlines as an entrepreneur

Making a mark as a female or female-supporting leader

Making up your mind to change society with a movement or idea

Making the list of artists, writers, and filmmakers creating content with a message

Making the cut with an inclusive or feminist style or brand

Making friends with a pro female community, network, or event.

The goal is to MAKE the voices of empowering gals and pals of gals heard, UP the knowledge on gender in society, and LESSen the negative stigma surrounding feminism. Makeupless Maura showed that social media can be positive and uplifting. MAKE wants to continue to be a positive force on all media with its social media platforms as well as website. There, you can find the top news stories on female empowerment categorized to ensure you are informed on all things women, girls, and feminism, as it is of increasing importance more than ever today.

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Women and girls are erupting the news not only today, but for the past century. Change is happening because of this. The beauty industry, places of employment, and government must change and adapt to the current climate. Art, products, and clothing are evolving too, all because of trailblazing females who are making a change. We need to spread the message of what they are doing to make women collectively heard.

MAKE is your go-to place for female-focused news. Staying informed and being inspired can spur additional ideas, movements, and ventures that will make male and female equality happen. That’s empowerment.

I am empowered from my own experience fighting societal beauty standards. I want to make it easy to find more stories of others doing things to empower females too.

Empowered and Poised describes having inner qualities that allow us to be our best self. This is exactly what MAKE hopes to nurture and I hope to embody myself.

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I am a go-getter. I am a dreamer and doer. I am a mover and maker. I am a female. I am empowered and poised.

 

Local Female Owned Business by Lauren

When you start your own company, it’s the most empowering feeling in the world. Working on something behind the scenes for so many months, and finally exposing it to the world is the most liberating feeling you’ll receive as a business owner. Once you’re up and running and see people using your brand / product as a way to better their lives, you’ll realize that you’re truly making a difference in your own life, and the lives of others around you.

As you continue on in your business, you’ll face many ups and downs, all sometimes within the same day. When I started CLEseats, someone told me that an entrepreneur’s highs are HIGH, and their lows are LOW. I didn’t fully understand that until I was thrown into the thick of my business, where 90% of your “work” comes from worrying about what your next move should be. When I started CLEseats, I often felt unsure of what I was doing, or not sure that everything would work out as I’d planned. However, not having things completely mapped out, and allowing others feedback and advice into my business plan has helped me grow my business even more than I originally planned.

By taking things day by day and creating new ideas as you move forward, you’ll better the outcome of your product or business. It’s very easy to get tunnel vision and fall into the same daily routine (this is true for both entrepreneurs AND someone working for a company). One of the most important things you can do for your career is try to remain open minded and allow other people’s feedback and ideas to influence your next steps.

I always remain open minded and let others tell me their honest opinions of my business, even if it’s not necessarily what I’d like to hear. Opening myself up to others feedback helps me make necessary changes to my company that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. I truly believe my company, CLEseats, is a compilation of a bunch of people’s ideas rolled into one product, which is why it has become so successful over the past 2 years!

I take the good and bad feedback, and use it to make CLEseats a better product than it could’ve been with JUST my eyes looking at it. The more eyes, the better.

I always believe that keeping yourself open to others ideas and feedback will not only make you stronger in your career, but also in your personal life. I take every ounce of feedback with a grain of salt – never letting it diminish my worth or the worth of my business, but letting it guide me into my next venture.

My advice to any young female is to allow room for feedback without taking it personally. People can be critical, but also helpful, depending on how you take their advice. Using others advice and opinions to shape your next move, NOT your self-worth, will lead you down a road of success. A woman can do ANYTHING she sets her mind to, as long as she does not stand in her own way. Allow yourself to be open to new ideas and take the road less followed, and you’ll find true happiness in your personal and professional life ☺

An Empowered & Poised Challenge by Tara
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I’ve learned over time, more so recently, that the trick to being an Empowered & Poised female is coming to terms with the fact that you will not always feel like one. 

Once you’ve acknowledged this fact, those moments of self-doubt, feelings of failure and insecurities won’t disappear but you will be better prepared to address them because you are expecting them.

After a year of tackling what felt like was hit after hit in both my professional and personal life, I realized I needed to set myself up to be regularly motivated so that these negative moments wouldn’t derail me. I did this by surrounding myself, in person and online, with other people and content that exemplified the Empower and Poised lifestyle. 

One of the things that I found helped me the most was purging and refocusing my social media channels to make sure the content I was regularly looking at was either inspiring me, educating me or lifting my spirits. I noticed quickly an increase in my mood and productivity when I was seeing inspirational sayings and stories pop up in my feed more often than negative ones.

In an effort to spread some positivity I encourage you to do the same! To get started, I challenge you to find and follow 10 new accounts that make you smile or inspire you. I've included a few of my favorites below! 

@empoweredpoised

@theellenshow

@huffpostwomen

@amypoehlersmartgirls

@leaninorg

@calm

@puppiesofinstagram

@thegoodquote.co

@humansofny

@ohhappyday

Listening by Lashanna
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I feel empowered and poised when I have face-to-face conversations with women and female identified beings and listen to their stories.  And by listen, I mean really listen.  As in not talk while they’re talking, not interrupting, not challenging, not thinking about what I’m going to say next, not arguing, not disputing, not one-upping, not judging, not finishing her sentence for her or any of the other inhibitive behaviors that obstruct listening or a woman’s personal self-expression.  I consider listening to women’s stories one of life’s greatest gifts because I value our unique perspective and what we have to say.  

Admittedly, this love of listening comes from my close relationship with my mother who, as a Gemini, was always talking, always sharing her experiences and stories with me and opening my eyes and mind to things I might otherwise have never noticed.   With a 40 year age gap between us, I was astonished by the world she described when she was growing up in the 40’s and 50’s versus the world I grew up in as a young African-American girl in the 80’s and 90’s.  My mother was a very private person, but she always spoke her mind.  In addition, I attended an all-girls high school and, for four solid years, I was engrossed in girls’ stories for five days a week.  At the time, I did not realize how much of a privilege it is to be exposed to the unfiltered and unfettered perspective of a group of diverse, educated, young women and girls.  These experiences have had a huge impact on my perception of the world and the ways in which I interact with other women. They also have shaped why I feel empowered and poised listening to our stories.  

Listening, I feel, is an act of giving. When women listen to one another, we give the gift of credibility.  Listening is an action that says that what women have to say is important enough to stop and engage with her thoughts.  As women, we have the power to affirm one another, our experiences and our truths through listening and this is an act I try to partake in as often as possible.

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Whether in a group or one-on-one, there is power in the transfer of knowledge, emotion, pain and pleasure when women speak.  When I really listen, I feel empowered tapping into that gift of exchange. This is why I prefer face-to-face conversations.  Much like listening, it is becoming a lost art.  Nowadays, I spend a lot of time on the phone, e-mail or some form of social media. However, if I run into a female friend at the gym, grocery store or my favorite coffee shop, I find myself listening and engaging for hours.  For me, a good conversation is like a good meal –if you put nourishing food into your body you will walk away feeling full.  Much like food, women’s stories are the sustenance of my life.  Hearing and being heard builds confidence. In many respects, listening is an act of advocacy.

As I get older, I also appreciate listening to the perspectives of women with whom I may not agree with entirely.  Although opposition can be hard to bear at times, I believe in balance and I like listening to different perspectives about things in life because I like learning.  Learning, is another form of empowerment.  It is a great way to practice empathy and participate in another woman’s emotional journey without having to take that journey myself.  I think this is one of the best parts of listening; the temporary and willful suspension of your own beliefs, ideas and values so that you have the capacity to objectively participate in a world that is not your own.  It’s not about arguing, reaching a goal, disputing, proving someone else wrong, or being right.  It’s about knowledge and the intimacy that develops from sharing our collective and contrasting experiences.

In a world where everyone wants to talk and just a few people are given far reaching platforms for communicating, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from listening to women, believing women and sharing their joy, triumphs and mishaps.  Currently, there is immense value in the revelation of stories of sexual harassment, assaults and rapes. These stories are busting out of the shadows and taking center stage at the forefront of the American media landscape. Hopefully they will lead us to overdue legal, social and sexual changes and force Americans and the world to be honest about abuses of power in government, media and many other industries.  As women, we are complex creatures with complicated lives and many lives within.  Listening to women’s stories makes me feel alive, enhances my daily life experiences and at times, has changed my world.  Are you listening?

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Mental Health Warrior by Maddie

I am a 22 year old female who battles with depression and self-harm. Talk about a loaded sentence, am I right?

For 5 ½ years I have been living with depression and battling an addiction to self-harm. There was a time in my life when I believed that I would never see another tomorrow. Mental illness has been my toughest battle. I have suffered through immense emotional, physical, and mental pain.

Getting help  for my depression and self-harm was the single most challenging thing I have ever done. Depression changed my thoughts and told me that I didn’t need help, that it wasn’t worth it. But eventually I began to heal. Slowly I received the help I needed.

During the early years of my depression I constantly mourned the loss of the girl who I used to be. You see, depression changes people. My depression overtook my life, it swallowed me up and refused to spit me back out. I wanted her back, I wanted to be the old me again. I had become someone who I couldn’t recognize.

Today I am proud of who I am. I have grown and emerged into a beautiful soul. I have taken my struggles and have used them to fuel my life and my passions. Now I plan for my tomorrows, I get excited for my tomorrows, I live for my tomorrows.I have become an empowered and poised female through some of the worst experiences of my life. But all of it has led me to who I am today, and I am proud of who I am, what I have done, and what I will do in the future. And while I still think back to the girl who I used to be before my depression, I no longer mourn her. I still deal with relapse and I still deal with dark days. But now I know how to handle them. I know that I am strong enough to get through my struggles and that I am not alone.

Mental health is a topic that needs to be talked about. I am no longer afraid to talk about my battles with self-harm and depression. I openly speak about these subjects and how they have impacted my life. My wish is that everyone could feel comfortable talking about their issues. But unfortunately we live in a world where people are afraid to because of the stigma that is attached to mental health. And that is where I want to make a difference. I want to help people realize that they are not alone, that they are loved, and that they have a story to tell. I want to help erase the stigma that is attached to mental health.

In the midst of my struggles I decided to get a semi colon tattooed on my wrist. Why a semi colon? An author uses a semi colon where he/she can choose to end a sentence, but they choose not to. At one point in my life I thought it was time for me to end my sentence, but I chose not to. My tattoo serves as a constant reminder that I am still a living and breathing story.

And so my story continues on…..

Currently, I am writing a book about my struggle with depression and self-harm in hopes that it will help other people who battle with the same issues. I have decided to tell my story, I hope you will too.

Following Your Heart and Intuition by Liz

I am an Empowered & Poised Female because I have the courage to follow my heart and intuition.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

Six years ago, these words from Steve Jobs changed my life.  I had built an existence that was based completely on the benchmarks taught to me by society, education, and family.  Measured by those standards it was the life that I should have wanted.  I had the house, husband, a stable career, and resources to have and do anything that I wanted. However, as is often the case when we don’t listen to our intuition, I was miserable.  The home wasn’t the one that I had pictured myself in, my husband slept in a separate bedroom, that job that provided everything was tedious.  I would sit night after night and wonder how I could be so unhappy when I had followed all the rules.  I would tell myself I was ungrateful and selfish.  I would spend my time searching for peace and answers in books, magazines, television, anything that would tell me how to be happy and satisfied.  I wanted to feel joy again.  Around this time, I heard Steve Jobs Stanford speech and I was inspired.

I had completely lost myself on the way to “growing-up” and maturing, because I had silenced my inner voice.  I began to have panic attacks when I pictured my life 40 or 50 years in the future.  I couldn’t explain to anyone how I was feeling because I was unable to understand it myself, and didn’t think others could relate to me “having everything” and being miserable.  It was the loneliest period of my life.  I knew I had to make changes, but I didn’t know where to start.  I wasn’t prepared to hurt people around me, and I wasn’t strong enough to defend the changes I knew I needed to make.  I listened to that speech repeatedly for weeks, then months, now years.  At first, I didn’t know why I was captivated.  Sure, it was inspirational, and it was given by one of the greatest minds of our time, but there was something else that I was connecting with.  Eventually the message was clear, and the only words I would hear when he spoke were courage, trust, intuition, don’t settle, love what you do, and there is no reason not to follow your heart.

I’ve heard that “change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change,” I reached that point 5 years ago.  Change began, and I slowly built up the courage to acknowledge what I wanted and to follow my intuition.  I left that house and lonely bedroom, and eventually that career.  I was strong enough to confidently tell people why because I let my inner voice guide me.  Their questions and opinions didn’t bother me, the only thing that mattered was that I was building the life I wanted.  

In the 5 years since I have found peace and happiness.  I fell in love with my fiancé Sean.  He supports my dreams, encourages me when I’m down, and reminds me daily to go after the life I want regardless of what others may think.  I have grown professionally and built a business that I am extremely proud of.  As a Realtor, I get the opportunity to help clients work towards and achieve their dreams.  I devote time each day to being mindful, grateful, and listening to my intuition.  I make decisions based on guidance from my inner voice, and my gut feelings mixed with some rational reasoning.  I encourage those around me, probably to a fault, to do the same.  I support others that I meet along the way to embrace the idea that life is too short to be wasted living someone else’s ideas of happiness.  The people in my life understand that I am unapologetically going after what I want and that I am determined to be myself in every situation.  It’s too painful and time is too limited to do anything but that.

Empower yourself to fearlessly pursue your dreams, develop your courage, and use it as a shield.  Surround yourself with people who will encourage you along the way.  Never silence your intuition.  

DIY Family Tree BY amanda

Hi guys! So nice to meet you! My name is Amanda. I'm a Graphic Designer, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. 

I am a DIY and Lifestyle blogger part time, and my full time job is designing greeting cards for Target at American Greetings and I absolutely love it. I am a God-loving woman, a craft show go-er and seller on Etsy with my Momma, a D.I.Y enthusiast, a lover of dogs (and most recently kitties) and anything fuzzy (especially socks). I am Empowered & Poised because I am not afraid to put myself out there and use my creative talents to empower and inspire others.

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Having influential people in my life has been so vastly important in shaping me into the empowered and poised woman I am today. My life has been blessed with 24 years spent with my grandparents. My grandma’s 80th birthday was this year. She is an Italian woman who values family so dearly so I wanted to create something special for her that each of my family members had a hand in creating. 

I created this family tree for each member of my family to add their fingerprint and name to. It symbolizes all that we are because of my grandma and papa. 

This is a simple and inexpensive DIY gift that a few people or a large group of people can make together, which makes it a perfect activity that all members of a family can participate in, young or old. This is also a perfect gift for the upcoming holidays!

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During her birthday party, I set up a table on the side of the house where she couldn’t see what we were doing and I had a couple members of my family at a time sneak over to add their mark to the tree. Once it dried, I framed it, wrapped it and then we all gave it to her as a surprise. She loved it so much. She loves to show it off to all her guests when they come to her house. It really is the perfect personalized gift for someone special. 

To create this, you will need:

SUPPLIES //

• Tree art (download the one I created here)

• Cardstock to print on

• Stamps in various colors or one color, depending on the look you want. (I got mine from Joann Fabrics, here are some on amazon)

• Exacto Knife 

• Ruler

• Markers

• Wipes or paper towels (to get the ink off fingertips)

• Frame (optional)

• Ink Jet Printer (if you don’t have one, you can go to a public library or a FedEx Kinkos with the file on a jump drive)

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STEPS //

To make this for a special member of your family, start by downloading the piece of tree art I created and print it a sheet of cardstock. I created the piece for an 8x10 frame. You can print it on a 8.5x11 sheet of cardstock and trim to the desired size.

Once you have the piece of art printed, you are ready to start stamping! Gather your family members, and have each of them stamp their thumbprint onto an empty branch. I would suggest doing a test stamp on a scrap piece of paper before stamping onto the print itself.

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If your family members are scattered in different places and can’t all be in the same place at the same time, you can mail the sheet with a stamp pad and a marker to different places and have everyone complete their thumbprint and pass if off to the next person. 

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Once they have stamped their thumbprint, wait about a minute to make sure the ink is dried. Once the ink is dried, have them sign their name near their fingerprint with one of the markers. I wanted to make ours colorful, but you could just do green ink and black markers, or whatever you want!! Personalize it to whoever you are giving it to. 

As you can see, I added a “L&M” into the center of the heart in the tree. That is something I added with a marker. 

Once everyone added their fingerprints and names, I let it dry, added it to the frame, then wrapped it up and gave it to my grams. She loved it. She loved that everyone was involved in creating this gift for her. I hope your loved ones have a great time creating this piece and gifting it to others!

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Check out Amanda's website HERE!

Trusting in Your Journey by Julia

Trusting in your Journey

How do we work towards being an empowered and poised female? 

I am going to share with you a brief snippet of my journey of self-acceptance and self-confidence in hopes that it too will empower you. 

My passion was right in front of me at an early age, and I did not realize it until my sophomore year of college. When I was younger, I would sit up for hours making pretend websites on pieces of paper, magazine covers on Microsoft Word, and collecting notebooks to write short stories and song lyrics. I would make YouTube videos, reviewing all of my favorite products. In high school, I started to take an interest in product photography.

Years later, I finally put the pieces together. I loved marketing products and services that held a special place in my heart. From my favorite clothing brands to meals from restaurants, I wanted to share what I enjoyed with the world so they too could experience all of the options and possibilities brands had to offer.  

Senior year of high school rolled around, and my health was not at its peak. Anxiety was clouding my mind, and I felt stuck. While I was in and out of the hospital, I searched for coping mechanisms to help me overcome my anxiety. When I was introduced to essential oils during this hard time in my life, I knew I wanted to learn more. I instantly was hooked on attending events to learn about the science behind the oils, as well as hearing other’s experiences with the natural products. Less than one year later, I started a business sharing essential oils with others. My passion for the products shined bright, but the first year following my dreams was tough. 

 When I was beginning to succeed and find happiness, the pessimism progressed. We live in a society where spreading negativity is as quick as the click of a button. I would constantly feel saddened about the criticism myself and others would receive about essential oils. Not only strangers, but also friends would comment on everything they could to bring me down. People would try and tell me that essential oils are fake, and that they do not work. They would make assumptions, even after knowing how much these oils have impacted my family’s lives and mine. I started to doubt my own experiences. I believed the critics. I was against myself. 

One of the biggest blessings was one sentence that my mom said to me when I was feeling insecure: “You can say just as many good things about yourself as you can bad.” In addition, we are constantly told in all of our college marketing classes,  “It’s whom you surround yourself with.”  And if I kept surrounding myself with the criticism, I would focus on the negativity, when there is so much more to life. 

We cannot keep holding ourselves back from doing what we love. Because, you see, it’s a cycle. Once we follow through with working towards what we love, we start to recognize what we love in ourselves. We recognize our talents and see opportunity for others who may be reaching out. 

Woman and men all around the world are following their dreams, whether it is through entrepreneurship, engineering, biology, communications, psychology, physical therapy, or architecture. The list goes on of the amazing careers that surround us daily. Follow your dreams whether you want to take up dance classes, an instrument, public speaking, or wherever your heart leads you.  Though there are critics everywhere, there will always be a team out there in the world who appreciates what you do and will be there to support you. If you work hard towards something without giving up, you will learn so much about yourself in the process. 

My passion is empowering others all around the globe to feel confident in achieving their dreams. In my life, sharing essential oils goes far beyond the product. I want to welcome the world to join me on my journey, while providing them an outlet to create their very own. 

I hope to be remembered as accepting towards others. Advocating for wellness and confidence has brought me so much joy and a plethora of opportunities. I have been able to speak at events, travel, and talk with others on a daily basis whose lives have been transformed by implementing natural products into their lives. If I gave up on my journey in the beginning, I would have missed all of the incredible blessings that have entered into my life. 

I am an empowered and poised female because I recognize that you are an empowered and poised female. I am an empowered and poised female because I take time to care for others, as well as myself. Your creativity and passions are ready to shine. Trust your journey and take the leap, because your time is now.  We all have talents that will help everyone rise to their feet and be their best selves. Let’s join together and continue the empowered and poised movement. 

 

Mental Health Awareness by Maddie
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Marilyn Monroe once said, “She was a girl who knew to be happy even when she was sad. And that’s important.”

I combat certain mental illnesses that affect my mental health and my ability to live a stable and kind life.  One of my biggest obstacles during these times is the ability to find positivity during my darkest days.

I believe that to be stable and healthy entails being able to be your best self, even when it seems like life is throwing the world at you. To shine through strength, kindness, and love even though you might just want to curl into a ball. Or, the need to tear down that person that might be making you feel powerless and hopeless.

“She builds others up because she knows what it’s like to be torn down.” -unknown

As I struggle to find the strength to radiate positivity during the hardships of my life, I, through the power of mindfulness and extensive therapy, which is vital to overcoming my illness, have learned how to strife the darkness. I am learning how to exude affection, happiness, and thoughtfulness even when I can barely get out of bed in the morning.

The ability to do this shows a certain kind of gift that many of us either wish to have or battle with.  Through my therapy, I am learning how to take on the darkness by taking the day one breath at a time.  

The Healthy Place quoted, “Note to self: I don’t have to take this day all at once, but rather, one step, one breath, one moment at a time. I am only one person. Things will get done when they get done.”

I have had to remind myself that I am only human and I have to be mindful in order to become a successful, stable and healthy woman.  

Another helpful skill is learning how to communicate when you are at your darkest.

The Good Quote stated, “Loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.”

I have noticed that when I have my hardest days, it is because I am not communicating to my loved ones. The days when I consciously or unconsciously isolate myself are my most despairing days. I might be a warrior but I am nothing without my tribe, my family and my health community.

Lastly, the aspect that helps me project positivity is renewed confidence.

“You can break down a woman temporarily, but a real woman will always pick up the pieces, rebuild herself, and come back stronger than ever.”-unknown

I continue to build and display confidence to the world.  In doing this I validate myself. If I exhibit confidence than I can concur almost anything.

I am a person with mental illness.  I do not let my diagnosis define who I am and how I live each day. My diagnosis will always be a part of me but I refuse to let it dictate any aspect of my life, especially when it inflicts hopelessness, darkness, and pain. I am not perfect nor do I pretend to be. Some days, the darkness wins but those days are far and few between.

I encourage all women and girls out there to fight the darkness. I believe that I am an empowered and poised woman who wants to learn how to fail and get back up again.  As I joust the darkness, I believe that I will come back stronger than ever before. My definition of empowered and poised is being able to treat others with love and kindness even when you may be breaking. We must be able to look darkness in the eye, smile and give it a wink.  

“What made her strong was despite the million things that hurt her she spoke of nothing but happiness.” -j.a.

Developing Self-esteem by Alyssa
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We’ve all suffered from low self-esteem at least once in our lives. Even the people that you think don’t have low self-esteem do. I promise you that they do; even if they don’t admit it. One thing we should never let this low self-esteem do is hinder our ability to love ourselves. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my short 25 years, it is that loving ourselves has the ability to completely change our lives.

Growing up and especially in high school, I hit some low points. I thought I was fat and I was incredibly unhappy with how I looked. I felt that everyone was more attractive than I was and basically better at everything. Of my friends, I was the “dumb” one. I do not feel that way now, but looking back I know that I did. I acted dumber than I actually was because that’s who I was molded to be at school.

Going to college and essentially starting over was an important part of my journey toward loving myself. I was able to shed all the preconceived notions I had carried from grade school throughout high school. I grew as a person and learned more about life and how to live it for myself.

I learned that people will tell you that you’re too fat or too unattractive or too dumb to do something. I have learned that these people usually are threatened by you. I have also learned that you can literally do anything you put your mind to and that “fake it ’til you make it” is a powerful mantra. I have learned that having a few close friends is better than an army of iffy friends. I have learned that being nice to everyone costs nothing and means everything. I have learned that non-scale victories are more important than scale victories. I have learned that who you are now matters more than who you were in college, what your GPA was or where you grew up.

I am now graduated from college and can honestly say that I love who I am. Yes I still have flaws: I’m incredibly moody some days, get angry when I’m tired or hungry, get irritated when people don’t understand what I’m saying and a bunch more. On the other hand, I love to learn and am good at my job, I’m not afraid to be the nerd that I am, I’m comfortable with being single and knowing that I don’t have everything figured out.

Don’t ever forget how powerful you are or how important it is to love who you are. You don’t have to be perfect at everything. You only have to be perfect at being who you are. Embrace yourself; flaws and all. There’s only one of you - don’t waste it!