When I was pregnant with my daughter Haven, I was overjoyed and ecstatic to bring this new life into the world, even with the m̶o̶r̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ all day sickness and body changes. After we found out the gender I began thinking about how I was going to announce it to everyone, I wanted it to be creative and different mainly to see how many "likes" and "comments" I would get on Instagram. The other things on the top of my list were outfits, a beautiful new crib, all the decor for her room and the latest and greatest baby gadgets. I had a perfect image in my head of all the things I wanted for my baby girl and her nursery. There was one big thing that I wasn't bringing into account, we were still in dental school, living off my little graphic design income and student loans, so there wasn't a lot of wiggle room for the $600 stroller and a $1000 crib I was eyeing.
As my pregnancy went on, I scrolled through all the mommy blogs and gorgeous, well put together moms on Instagram as they had their family outings each day and their families were all so well put together. I wanted to portray that "flawless" life too. I wanted others to look at me and think, "wow, she's got it all together and she has such a beautiful family". Then Easter Sunday came along and that was the day my beautiful Haven came to join us and make us a family of three. I remember looking at her as she made the cutest little noises as she slept, and feeling her soft new skin, when it hit me, this baby isn't just a little baby that I get to dress up and take pictures of, she is a human being that I need to protect and teach to be strong, caring, courageous, and nurturing, as well as share her light with others and to never be ashamed of who she is.
But in the back of my mind I was still thinking of how badly I needed to bounce back to my previous weight and show that everything was great and dandy. In pictures I posted I tried to make it seem like life was nothing but a dream with my new little one, but in reality, we were in a 650 sq ft apartment, with moving boxes everywhere nothing but a mattress, a pack-and-play and a dresser in our room. My husband was just about to graduate from dental school a couple weeks after Haven was born and then two weeks after his graduation we were moving to Dallas, TX, a place I had never been before and never in a million years thought we would be moving to...let alone the fact that we had found out we were moving there for a job about a month before I gave birth. (That's another story).
When we got to Texas, I didn't really realize it at the time, but I was going through postpartum depression. I didn't want to look at myself in the mirror because I felt ugly and worthless, I tried to wear baggy shirts and loose pants so I didn't have to feel even bigger than I already was. I wasn't myself. I would go on instagram and constantly compare myself to all the other moms and how quickly they bounced back to their skinny and beautiful selves. I felt worthless. I didn't even let my husband see me in my underwear let alone undressed. If we were being intimate, it was a chore for me and I didn't even want him to touch me. In my head I felt like if he touched my leg or my butt he was trying to make me feel self conscious and remind me that I have a lot of weight to lose. Every day I looked at my beautiful daughter and cried, mainly tears of joy. Joy in the little miracle that I made, she was really the one that kept me going and helped me be strong as I fought through all the pain.
One day my husband and I were talking and I said something that was not very uplifting about myself, he began asking me why I was always saying these things, he began questioning why I feel the way I feel about myself and telling me that I shouldn't, He would tell me how beautiful I was and I needed to stop criticizing everything about myself. He was trying to give me a pep talk and be sweet as he always is, but I shut it out, I built a wall and I didn't know how to break it down. At that point I broke. I broke because I didn't know where else to go or how to make myself feel better. I told him I thought I was depressed, I told him that I don't even want to be around anymore and I don't know why I was feeling the way I was.
We decided to start eating healthier, I got a personal trainer and explored this new city more. I prayed that these things would help me and that something would come along to make me happier again. My friend Nicole and her husband moved to Dallas around the same time we moved there. We had been college roommates for a year and then she transferred schools. We still kept in touch, but hadn't seen each other in about 4 1/2 years. I remember when we had them and our other friend Caitlin over for dinner. I immediately began comparing myself to them, thinking how they were so skinny, fashionable and beautiful. I felt I was the complete opposite, I pretty much felt like I was the ogre and they were the two princesses and I did not belong.
We continued to get together and we began to cling to each other because we were both new in a big city. One night at dinner we began talking about our lives and how social media can be deceptive. Nicole thought my life looked flawless with our new baby girl and I thought her life looked like a dream from all of their international travels over the summer, and to make a long story short, that was when Be Bona Fide was born.
I didn't know what a blessing it would be for me and it became an answer to my prayers in a different way than I had ever imagined. At first we just thought it would be a fun way to make a little extra money on the side with a good cause to empower one another, uplift and inspire others like us to remember that everyone has struggles and that we need to remember not to de-humanize one another on social media.
Like I said, I got a personal trainer and began working out four times a week, I was eating better and keeping busy with my graphic design business and the beginnings of Be Bona Fide. In the past few months I couldn't be happier, I feel a new life and there are so many things that I have to be grateful for. I have a beautiful life because of all the ups and downs and they help me to be appreciative for what I have and what I've overcome. I am constantly working at loving myself each day and now that I have a child, loving myself has a whole new meaning. I see people in a whole different light now and I love and understand them more than I did before.
Every human soul is precious, that is something we must never forget. When I love and care about myself and others my daughter and future children will see and learn from that. As much as we think no one really notices, they do. And we may think our children are so little right now that they won't remember what we're like at this time, but they will notice and they will be molded by our actions now.
I have learned that serving others and focusing on the happiness of not only yourself but other people takes the continuous focus of "me me me" out and replaces it with gratitude and light. Life shouldn't revolve around looks. Life should revolve around the beauty of your soul, and ultimately that is what will matter most in the long run.
Motherhood and fatherhood (in my opinion) are some of the most important jobs you can have in this world because we are raising the next generation. We are the ones who should be teaching our children right from wrong, that their souls are worth more than any material thing, that they are strong and that they must work hard and be a shining vibrant light that attracts good energy and happiness. We have the biggest roll in teaching our children these important traits. I want to teach my children to have strength, power, confidence, self respect, courage, determination and light within themselves. It is my job to help them protect that light and share it with others. It is my job to teach them to respect themselves and others and to speak up when necessary, for them to let others know that they are divine, that they are amazing beings with a unique purpose and much talent to share with the world. I can't teach my children these traits if I am not doing them myself, we must all begin working on this now whether you have any children or if your children our already in their teens. They need you, they need an example of light and we need each other to inspire and uplift.
If there is someone who you feel shines a light, don't wait to tell them. Don't figure that they already know. Don't hesitate to compliment their efforts. You never know what they are going through internally and you never know what a difference it can make in their day, let alone their lives.
When you see someone, even a stranger, look for the good in them. Don't wait for it to jump out at you. Tell them to keep doing what they are doing,
and most importantly keep shining
We challenge you to share the light you have. Make a point right now to make someone smile today, make a commitment to see the good in others, because you never know, you may need it more than you think you did. I know it helped me in unmeasurable ways.
Tell us about the people who shine in your life. What keeps them going? How do they inspire you? How do you keep yourself shining? We are all beautiful, and that is an amazing word. What makes you beautiful? We are all good at something, so keep it going and never stop. Never stop moving forward, no matter what blocks your view push past it or climb over it.
There is someone who needs this message today. By sharing it we can help inspire and uplift one another. By purchasing a shirt, Be Bona Fide will be donating 20% of each "choose to shine" shirt to The Shine Project, which helps our young adults to college and help them to let their light shine as well.