Do I have time for a selfie?

New Yorkers love themselves ... who can blame them?

The selfie phenomenon.

All the way from Istanbul, to Buenos Aires, to one horse towns and villages all over the world. It’s here. And it’s here to stay.

From the young to the elderly, from blue-collar workers to the Commander-in-Chief.
The selfie taking practice is being embraced by all. So much in fact, we can’t but wonder if it confirms we’re a narcissistic society.

Looking over my son’s shoulder as he browsed through Facebook this morning, I couldn’t help noticing the dozens of selfies of his young friends. Young women, in an array of poses, ranging all the way from the “head cocked to the side” position, to the “OMG, is this still going on?” duck lips.

Later today, just seconds after I posted my own selfie to Instagram, I pondered the reasons that motivate us to share our mug with, for the most part, strangers.

Do we do it as a way of recruiting external validation, or does vanity propel us to use the selfie to document our beauty?

Were these selfies to be unedited and “au naturel,” perhaps the subject wouldn’t bother me.

Yet, looking at my own Instagram selfie, edited with various filters and a blur effect, I realize we aren’t presenting our “true” selves to the world.

The selfie appears to be another way to conform to society’s definition of beauty; one whose sad message is that you’re only beautiful if you look a certain way.

“Not everything is motivated by the evils of society, mom,” chided the Son when I broached the subject at the dinner table. “Sometimes,” he said, “a selfie is just a selfie.”

But is it? Thinking back to the heavily edited selfies I saw this morning, I’m not so sure.

In all fairness, I’m certain there are those who take selfies for the sake of documenting a bad hair day. Others might take them to evidence what they look like at a certain age.

Yet the fact that so many of us partake in the selfie phenomenon raises the question of, do we need others to tell us we’re beautiful?

And that makes me sad.

Sad because, even words like “You’re beautiful,” aren’t going to help if we don’t believe it ourselves.

Sad because we may always depend on someone to validate us.

Sad because we are placing so much importance on physicality and so little on what truly establishes our worth.

Sad because the majority of selfies aren’t true representations of what we really look like.

Sad because in hiding behind an edited selfie, we fail to show the world our true beauty, complete with enlarged pores and imperfections.

We may not be able to stop the selfie phenomenon, but we can refuse to play by the rules of peers, society, and our own insecurities.

We can turn the selfie on its head and instead, use it as a tool to affirm, “This is me. This is what I truly look like and I am beautiful.”

Inspired by my sister, who posted a selfie of her beautiful, unedited self on Facebook, I took a selfie tonight.

No make up.
No edits.
Just me.

Join me in the effort to turn this phenomenon into something positive by posting your own beautiful unedited selfie.

Let us effect positive change in how the world defines beauty.

Show the world the beauty that is you!

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XOXO,

Note: If you post a selfie, please leave a link in the comments section so other readers can see it.

I would love it if you followed me on Instagram. You can do so by clicking on this link or the icon located on the sidebar!

How Bella got her groove back

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It’s so easy.

To stray off the path,
Get lost in your thoughts,
Fall into a funk.

The kind that grabs you by the neck, shakes you like a doll, and leaves you gasping for breath.

It’s so easy.

To procrastinate,
Pretend you’ll do things tomorrow,
Take care of it soon.

Yet before you know it, days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years.

And you’re standing in the same place,
In the same room,
In the same spot.

You notice the neighbors have put up their Christmas trees, strung their lights, hung wreaths on their doors.

Seasons have changed,
The wind’s gotten stronger,
The cold has set in.

Everything has changed.
Everything seems different.
Everything but you.

The desire to write,
To create,
To inspire,
Has long since expired.

It’s easier to sit.
Look at the walls
Twiddle your thumbs.
Do nothing at all.

No dreaming, no imagining, no mentally visiting far away places.

Just you.
Your dog.
And the wish you could turn back the clock.

Then one day you realize, nothing’s going to change.

This is as good as it gets.
So you take what you get
And you don’t get upset

You struggle and grunt, run a hand through your hair, and pick yourself up.

You breathe.

Deeply,
Slowly,
Loudly.

It’s a brand new day.

Time to move on.
Time to create.
Time to get back in the groove.

And with hearty resolve, you hear yourself whisper,

You can do it.
You’ve got this.
It’s a brand new day.

And now for some Roxy love.

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What motivates you to keep going?

What would you tell a younger you?

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I still remember the first time I heard pop singer Pink’s song, “Conversations with my thirteen year old self.” At the time, I thought how utterly wonderful it would be to regress in time and warn a younger me of all that lay ahead, to insist I do certain things, to behave or not behave in a particular way.

Yes, life would be easier if we knew what lay ahead, if we knew which decisions would result in hardships and struggles. Yet even while this is not possible, I still find it useful to contemplate how I would be better prepared to steer the course of my life if I knew what lay ahead. I find it’s still therapeutic to think of the things I’ve done and shouldn’t have or the things I didn’t do and should have done. Because even though I cannot change the events that have taken place in my life, I can still identify lessons learned.

I pondered this as I drank my second cup of cafe con leche this morning. As I sat, soaking up the early morning sun at an outdoor cafe, I overheard an angry exchange between a mother and an adolescent girl over her appearance. While the mother desperately tried to convince her child that she looked fine in her swim suit, the girl insisted that she would not take her shirt off at the beach and “expose the public to her fat rolls.”

As I listened to her words, I regressed in time. I easily retrieved a mental picture of myself at thirteen. I remembered how difficult it was to feel good about myself, how I struggled to accept myself. At the time, the opinion of others mattered so much. My decisions revolved around what others thought, said, or demanded. The media ruled how I felt about my body, my person, my self. Comments from friends and family dictated my mood and self worth. Magazines told me what I should wear, weigh, and eat. It was excruciatingly difficult to know who I was, to become acquainted with the real me with so many voices telling me who I should be, what I should do, and how I should act.

Yes, life would have been so much simpler if I had been able to warn myself that the opinions of others would not define me, that it wouldn’t be necessary to seek validation, acceptance or approval. That I and I alone would determine my worth and what others thought of me would not serve as a compass in my journey of self discovery.

If I could go back in time, I would tell my thirteen year old self that physicality alone should not define my essence. That I am so much more than a face, a body, a size. I would insist I follow my heart but only after weighing the consequences of my actions. I would affirm that while dreaming allows me to envision possibilities, realism provides the wisdom to know when to walk away and when to scrap what doesn’t work and start fresh.

I would encourage a younger me to not expend energy on other people’s problems, to stay away from toxic folk, and abstain from meeting the expectations of others. Given the possibility to regress in time, I would shake the adolescent me, hard, and say that no matter what anyone says, I am destined to become a phenomenal woman.

Sisters, today when you look in the mirror or catch a glimpse of your reflection, smile at yourself and say, I am beautiful. I am unique. There is no one else like me.

Because it is every woman’s destiny to breathe, feel, and experience joy. But alas, this is only possible when we believe in ourselves, when we believe we have what it takes to do whatever we want to do.

Let us learn to love ourselves unconditionally and without reserve.

Watching the tears trickling down that angry teen’s face this morning, I was reminded of how easy it is to hold ourselves hostage, to deprive ourselves of feeling joy, to sabotage our right to be happy.

And while it may not be possible to warn our thirteen year old self, we can still move forward, secure in the knowledge that we are phenomenal women.

Each and every one of us.

Yes, ladies, we are phenomenal women meant to shake our hips without reserve, hold our heads high, and laugh heartily with every step we take.

What would you tell your thirteen year old self?

How dare you snub me?

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When we last met, Roxy was chasing a pup into the cemetery...

The minute the Significant Other and I saw the man and his furry friend, we stopped in our tracks.

I heard the Significant Other mutter, “I just gave chase to this one and her cohort and I am in no condition to do another back breaking sprint.”

We tentatively took a few steps. I whispered to Roxy and pleaded with her to be nice.

The man and his furry friend came closer.
And closer.
Until they were a foot in front of us.

Roxy, in her usual modus operandi, leaned in close. This time, the other dog did not pull away. He lifted a paw and gave a sharp bark. Soon, the two were playfully running in circles.

No teeth were barred.
No growl was heard.
Just two furry friends who had connected instantly.

Watching the scene unfold, I was reminded of how many times we humans react similarly to Roxy.

The moment we feel we are not being appreciated, liked, or acknowledged, we become angry. We lash out. We say unkind words to the person who is making us to feel this way.

We are so busy feeling nursing our hurt pride, that we don’t realize what a huge waste of time it is to expend energy on something so trivial.

If only we took a minute to process the scene before us, we’d realize that the person who is ignoring us does not have the power to render us powerless.

If we took a moment to process our indignation, we’d realize we’re reacting this way because we are letting ego get in the way. We are taking things personally and allowing the actions of others to dictate how we feel. And in the process, we are allowing our insecurities to rise to the surface.

If we recognize that we have no control over how others act or feel, we’d realize that the only one we are responsible for is us.

Had Roxy chosen to ignore and walk past the dog that snubbed her, she wouldn’t have been involved in the gnarly dog chase that ensued; she wouldn’t have pursued someone who simply wasn’t interested.

Likewise, if we recognize that it’s not a given that everyone we meet will like us, we will spare ourselves a lot of angst and frustration.

If we are able to dismiss those who cannot appreciate all we have to offer, we will realize that only we are responsible for allowing others to make us feel bad about ourselves.

In taking back our power, we will discover that our sense of being does not have to be disrupted. Instead, it can remain tranquil, at peace, the way it’s supposed to be. We will realize we don’t have to spin out of control and lose our cool.

And like Roxy, we might discover that sooner or later, someone who is smart enough to truly appreciate us will come along.

Are you ready to take back your power?

Captures of the place where Roxy lost her cool.

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