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how I got here: a journey to self love

Sometimes I post little question boxes on Instagram asking for prompts from my followers/friends about what I should write or share about. Then, sometimes, I forget to follow through and write about those things. Oops.

I was scrolling through my archive and found a reply from my friend Alicia nearly a year ago saying “tell us about your journey to self love.”

And today, I’m feeling inspired. Here’s my journey and some key pieces along the way that have helped me evolve into the woman I’m becoming — a woman that’s better than I was yesterday, each and every day.


I want to start by saying I am just like you. I am sitting in my bed in my sweatpants on a rainy Saturday. I have days where I cry in the mirror and I have days where I dance through my neighborhood. I “jump to put jeans on” if you will (such a great lyric by Beyonce, amiright?).

You do not have to take my advice or believe that everything meant for me is meant for you. That’s one thing that I fully acknowledge — we are all on different paths. I’m just telling you a little bit of my journey. (When I use the word ‘journey’ too much I feel like I’m on the Bachelor, ope.)

Your journey may have already started, or maybe you’re at a crossroads and learning how to love yourself is top-of-mind. Whatever your scenario (if it’s like mine or totally different) I want you to know that there is always more love and light and grace to grant ourselves.

*** I also want to be sure to say that I have never hated myself. I know that is a privilege in itself. Even on my darkest days, there has never been hatred in my heart directed at myself. If you are feeling self-hatred, I highly recommend you discuss this with trusted people in your life and/or consult a mental health professional.

The song that just came on my shuffle is so fitting for how I feel right now. If you want to listen along as you read, here it is: Girls Like Me: Martina McBride.

My journey, for all intents and purposes of this blog post, will begin with getting my heart broken.

When I was in my relationship, I think I spent too much time giving love and not nearly enough time loving me. I neglected it. When my relationship ‘ended’, it ended a couple times, off and on, and threw me for a new loop each time… until I finally called it quits for good.

I can look back now and laugh because the breakups got easier each time. By the final time, when I decided to stand my ground, I was slowly beginning to realize that I was deserving of so much more — in every facet of my life. I needed to learn who I was without anyone else. I needed to learn how to just love ME and MY LIFE as is. I was already on the up-and-up (following these steps) and I wasn’t about to be dragged back down.

However, it still hurt. I cried and cried and cried. My car became my sacred place to go when I needed to be alone and no one could hear me sob.

I was grieving the life I thought I was going to build.

And that’s where it started. I grieved. I grieved some more. I continued to work through my process and my eyes began to open to the life I got to build for myself. Just me. Myself. However the hell I wanted to.

things that helped me love myself (and my life) more

  1. Share your grief/sadness/trauma/loneliness with someone or some people who love you.

My friends, and (probably most importantly) my mom, were and are instrumental in my life. My mom offers the perfect mix of listening and advice, but never letting me get away with too much of my own bullshit. In the moment, I hate it (“Just let me vent!”) but afterwards I realize that she’s usually right. She always offers a listening ear and is my biggest supporter in everything that I do. She proofreads nearly all of my blogs for me and sends me a text “I’m watching your IGTV!”

2. Re-evaluate your circle.

This goes hand-in-hand with my previous note, but I have to acknowledge that my friendships have ebbed and flowed over the last couple of years. I am a person who recognizes that friendships have seasons. Some seasons are just a shifting (schedules, priorities, etc.) and some seasons come to a close because they no longer provide you with the necessities of friendship. It’s okay to release friendships that no longer elevate your life.

3. Learn your natural tendencies.

Like I said — when I was healing, the process was long and hard. I sat with my feelings. I learned their names and sorted through the memories that were associated. I became familiar with the times when I needed mental rest, emotional rest, physical rest… I learned how to begin to balance my life again — and to give time to the things that deserved my time rather than what demanded my time.

Learn how you recharge — some days, I want to hole up in my room and not see a soul. Other days, being by myself makes me feel like I’m going insane. Honor that recharge time, and seek the experiences that will fill your cup.

4. Don’t be pressured into a timeline.

I’ve written about this before and I probably will again. Do not feel rushed in your own life — not about healing, or ‘moving on’, or dating, or marriage, or a career, or a degree, or anything in between. You’re on your own journey and it’s meant JUST FOR YOU.

5. Talk vulnerably — often.

While I’ve gained more and more confidence about what I share online in the past months, I wish I had opened up earlier (and when it hurt more) but I hid a lot of it due to shame. Even if these vulnerable conversations don’t happen with strangers on the internet (like me!) you can share them with that trusted circle or your momma.

6. Absorb content that feels good.

Unfollow the accounts that make you feel anything less than fabulous. If you feel weird about unfollowing — hit that mute button, baby! Follow accounts that encourage you to think differently, love yourself, see yourself represented, or that make you laugh!

7. BIG, AUDACIOUS DREAMING.

I LOVE THIS STEP. I’ve been doing better at this as of lately — speaking my dreams into reality! I have a vision board in my room and I see it every day — manifesting the dreams that I have for myself. I am trying to encourage myself to dream big and continue to work hard for the life I’m trying to build.

8. I joined a gym.

I didn’t join this gym to get a revenge bod. I don’t work out for aesthetics. I work out because it makes me feel good and gives me an amazing community of women. That’s how you achieve self-love — by doing things for how they make your soul feel. I’ve written about it before – this gym has changed my life. I can schedule that me-time into my days and devote that time to clearing my mind and honoring my body.

9. I made some awesome playlists.

For a long time, I could only listen to worship music. It soothed my soul. Then I transitioned and created my ‘lady jams’ and ‘breakup and glowup’ playlists. Listen to music (again, absorbing content) that makes you feel good, dance around the room, and remember your worth. You deserve dance parties and bad bitch bops.

10. Travel.

While I know this isn’t possible right now (thanks, COVID) I do think it’s an important piece of the puzzle. I hope that when COVID is in the rearview mirror we can all hop on a plane to celebrate. Traveling opens your mind, your eyes, your heart, and just allows you to be present. I am a better version of myself during and after my travels. Book the flight.

11. Last but not least: have fun.

Self love is a journey and you’re allowed to have fun along the way. You might cry one day and laugh endlessly the next. Don’t take life too seriously. You are worthy and amazing just as you are. Life is fun — don’t be afraid to join in.


Remember: I don’t have it all together. Somedays, I totally fall apart.

That’s okay.

Life isn’t meant to be perfect — but it is meant to be whatever the hell you want it to be.

Your way. Your timeline. Your pieces to the puzzle. Your growth. Your journey.

Mine’s been a little funky — but I like where I’m headed. I’m proud of me.

And of course: I love me.

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quarantine, the new personality test

I study communication. While there are many communication theories, I’m zooming in on Uncertainty Reduction Theory today. Essentially… we, as humans, aim to reduce our uncertainty by gaining information. (Yes, it’s typically in the frame of human communication and new people, but bear with me here.)

Right now, gaining information can seem to only increase our uncertainty. When will the pandemic come to a close? Will life return to normal? Am I a carrier? Will my trip to the grocery store make me sick? How long until I can hug my friends? The answer is simple: we really don’t know. Watching/reading/listening to the news only helps so much. We still have to live in uncertainty. And it’s uncomfortable.


I really like to take personality tests. I like to learn about myself. I think back on when I took the StrengthsFinder test or learned about my enneagram number (2w3, though I might be 3w2… I’m right in the middle!) and how I was fascinated by my results and what that meant about who I am and how I live my life, communicate, connect with others, thrive, etc. (Oh, and the love languages test truly changed the game for me in my personal relationships. The list goes on.)

Then I had this thought. This time — COVID19 + quarantine + social distancing — is like a personality test. What can we learn in this time of chaos, uncertainty, and isolation? What will we become aware of that we previously had not even thought about? Will what we learn allow us to elevate and change?

Every next level of your life will require a different version of you.

unknown

I think about this quote a lot. I think about this when I’m going through an uncomfortable change. When I’m doing something that I know is going to be good… but doesn’t feel so good right now, or takes a lot of work, or even makes me sad at the time. We’re learning, slowly but surely, how to advance to the next level of our lives.

I tell my Speech 101 students that the goal of their first speech is not to be perfect. When they give their first speech, they get feedback from their peers and from me that illuminates what they did — both good and bad. I say, “We have to become aware of our natural tendencies.”

Only when we become aware of our natural tendencies can we begin to make changes — to understand where we are, where we’re headed, and how we can make the adjustments to improve.


We take personality tests because we like to reduce uncertainty about ourselves. We’re gaining information in a way that seems easy — answer a few simple questions and unravel those answers.

We like to take the easy way. We don’t like to be uncomfortable.

Right now, in the chaos & uncertainty, we have an opportunity to use this time as a springboard to our next level. We need to become aware of our natural tendencies — who we are, why we do what we do, and what we require to live our best lives — and understand how to get better.

I asked my friends and followers what they had learned about themselves during quarantine. I stated that I discovered I have some sort of springtime allergies (who knew?!) when in reality, I feel that I’ve learned many things. Others reported they learned that they lack hobbies, motivation, or dedication to their current job or schoolwork. Others stated their need/want for people and human interaction, learning about their own tendency towards intro- or extroversion. We’re all learning different things every day.

Now’s the time when it gets uncomfortable. It’s time to figure out what our next level is and how we can get there. We can’t reduce our uncertainty about some things in this world — but we can create and maintain a deeper level of understanding within ourselves.

What are you learning about yourself? What’s your next level?

(Oh… and what’s your enneagram number?)


PHOTO: Porch Portrait Project by Erica Lynn Photography

Improve your life in 5 easy ways!

ha. ha. ha.

I have to admit, the title of this blog is misleading. There are no five easy ways to improve your life, but if there’s anything I’ve found out in the last year… there are ways to improve your life if you take the steps and work for it. Not everyone is *~LiViNg tHeiR bEsT LiFe~* all the time, my friends. Instead, we can take small steps to improve our lives and become a better version of ourselves. This year, I think I’ve done just that and learned a bit along the way… I wanted to share!

  1. Find (and eliminate) your silent stressors.
  2. Pay your rent.
  3. Find time to devote to physical fitness.
  4. Learn to say ‘no.’
  5. Soak in the good stuff.

Now, like I said, these really aren’t five easy ways…. but I can provide some in-depth insight on each tidbit and provide a little clarification.

I know drink wine isn’t one of the ways, but it’s unofficially #6 on the list.

Find (and eliminate) your silent stressors.

I heard the term “silent stressors” first on SHE podcast with Jordan Lee Dooley (more to come on her… love her so much).

She discusses the idea that there are probably things stressing you out that you simply don’t even realize are stressing you out until you change them. I think the perfect example is how amazing it feels to crawl into fresh bed sheets. Everyone loves clean bedsheets: you don’t realize how icky the other sheets felt until you climb into fresh, wonderful sheets.

For me, it’s things like social media accounts that make me sad or angry. laundry. dishes. hair. clothes. tasks you wanted to accomplish but couldn’t make time, so they stay there waiting. All of these things can silently stress you out… and when they are gone, you feel a little weight lifted. And little by little, that weight adds up.

Find ways to recognize these factors in your own life and ways to eliminate them. Unfollow the accounts. (I promise you won’t miss them.) Clean on Sundays. Chop your hair. Donate the clothes. Find ways to get rid of all the weight of the world that silently resides on your shoulders.

me, live from my bed.

Pay your rent.

Someone wise (that I can’t remember who… this is what happens when you try to absorb as much good advice as possible for an upcoming blog) stated that you cannot simply choose to live your passion and expect life to just work out. You’ll be poor.

Instead, you have to do the job that isn’t perfect in order to pay the bills. This isn’t me saying you can’t live your passion and actively pursue it — that’s what evenings and weekends are for! You can’t give up the day job until you can afford to live your life.

Not having money isn’t glamorous or fun. It’s not fun to be the friend that has to skip the movie because you can’t afford your life. Instead, you have to do what you can (work) so that your passionate, amazing, wonderful life can be all that it can be.

So perhaps a better phrasing for this tip: earn money so you can live your life.

My job at tech support for the last four years has definitely not been glamorous. Yesterday, while sick, I carried piles of dusty, old internet switches into the trash/storage facility at our university. Sneezes galore! However, this job has allowed me to pay my bills and live my life! (I also got to meet some amazing folks.) I am grateful for the opportunity to be a college student who goes to movies, goes out, traveled to Europe, and did a lot of really great things in my four years.

Tech support, how may I help you?

Find time to devote to physical fitness.

Nearly a year ago, I stepped foot into my gym. I bought a summer membership before ever taking a class – knowing that if I spent the money I would be more inspired to continue going. I got my butt kicked by my first class. I walked home with a friend, sweaty and smiling.

Fast forward to now: I crave the gym and how I feel after (not during!). The way it makes me love myself. The way it reminds me of my blessings. The way I feel strong and powerful.

10 months of work. and some pizza. Little changes on the outside, big changes on the inside! (And Yes, I’m nervous to post this.)

I’m not necessarily saying you need to go out and join a gym: I’m just saying that your life will get better even with the smallest devotion to your physical fitness. Drink water. Buy a fitbit and set some goals. Do a ten minute workout every day. Join an online fitness program…. or join a gym. Find accountability. Do some squats, join a dance class, or walk outside. Do something that’s fun and doesn’t feel like a chore!

This commitment in yourself will pay you back ten-fold simply in the way you feel and how you feel when you look in the mirror. I haven’t lost a single pound…. but I feel fantastic. I’m plus sized… but I like the way my clothes fit and show my muscle. I’m curvy… but my curves are more defined and are in lots of good places. I feel great and I get stronger every day. This is definitely a tangible step to improving your life: make a commitment to yourself and stick with it.

What if, just this time, you don’t break a promise you make to yourself? Not out of punishment or penance for all the times you’ve fallen off your goals, but because you are worthy and deserving of good things and the only way you’ll understand that truth is if you follow through on your personal commitments.

Rachel Hollis

Learn to say ‘no.’

My biggest piece of advice to my freshman collegiate self would be the simple statement, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”

I tend to overcommit myself. And I’m a people-pleaser.

And sometimes, this works out in my favor, I can’t deny. There are circumstances, however, that could have been avoided by me saying no. Listening to my brain instead of my heart or vice versa.

I think that this is a simple task, but even I need to be reminded that it’s okay to say no to opportunities that don’t feel quite right.

If it isn’t a hell yes, it can be a no. Allow yourself to say no. It’s okay! Saying no may lead to an even better ‘yes’ down the road. It’s that simple.

Soak in the good stuff.

Last but not least… soak in the good stuff. This one’s fun, and perhaps a bit easier than the other steps.

Soak in the good:

  • sunshine
  • music
  • memories
  • people
  • podcasts
  • books
  • self-care activities

When I was going through some dark stuff, I only listened to Christian music. I wanted to soak in all the good.

While I have now returned to my typical listening pleasure of lady jams and pop hits (with jesus jams as well, of course)…. I’m still a firm believer in this mentality. I want to only surround myself with, and absorb, the good stuff. It’s important to me to take in the things that benefit me and make me smile.

I have a habit of when sunshine hits my face, I try to take a minute and turn my face upward and close my eyes. I soak it in… even for a brief moment.

I want to do this more, with every little aspect I can.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve had a gratitude journal. I can’t commit to writing lengthy paragraphs at the moment (though I wish I could be the journal-writing gal I was in eighth grade), so instead I write one simple thing. Some days it’s a name, sometimes its a good food or memory of the day I hope to remember. This activity allows me to replay the day through from start to finish and soak in the very best parts of my day, even on the hard ones.

mmmm, sunshine.

So there you have it, folks.

This year has been a year of impeccable personal growth and I can definitely say I am the best version of myself that I have ever been… but I can’t even begin to dream dreams big enough for the version of myself that I could be next year!

always,

Alex.

every girl can relate to how nice this feels, amiright? glowin’ up.

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“whelmed” • admitting weakness and submitting control

The other day I said to my coworker something I’ve said a thousand times… “I’m whelmed.” He looked at me quizzically. I continued, “Not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, but definitely moderately whelmed.” He laughed and said he’d never heard the phrase before.

Image result for whelmed clueless
Clueless, 1995

I say this often…but this particular time, it hit me a little bit differently.

I then realized that I hate to say that I’m overwhelmed. I hate to admit my own weakness and submit control. When I say I’m “whelmed,” it’s me inadvertently saying “I CAN HANDLE THIS.”

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim.”

Tyler Knott Gregson

If you’re into the enneagram (if you aren’t yet, check out the free test here) I’m a 2w3, which means I am a ‘helper’ and an ‘achiever.’ This couldn’t be more fitting. I like to help people (which I think is part of the reason I enjoy blogging) and I like to achieve. Even when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I like to keep my sh** together and a smile on my face, until I’m bursting at the seams. Some of the reasons I feel the way I feel are simply due to who I am!

“Life can be magnificent and overwhelming—that is the whole tragedy. Without beauty, love, or danger it would almost be easy to live.”

Albert Camus

I don’t like to be weak. When I get frustrated, sometimes I find it hard to allow myself to cry…. I feel as if holding it I somehow can avoid sending the universe the signal that I am weak.

I don’t like to submit control. This is why I don’t like to let others make my decisions, I don’t like to be adventurous with my hair, I don’t like to get too drunk, I don’t like to give up authority, I don’t like to not be in charge. It’s hard for me.

Well, I hate to break it to myself, but sometimes I am weak! And I’m not talking physically, because I’m pretty freaking proud of the improvements I’ve made in the gym. As a human, though, I’m a twenty-one year old gal who sometimes needs a good cry, maybe a bubble bath, and some time.

And sometimes I need to submit control! It’s important to allow others to help, to be adventurous, to take a deep breath and relax the tension I always hold in my shoulders. The world will remain on its axis even if I remove myself from the ‘control’ equation.

Something we can all learn to be better at is to grant ourselves a little grace. Give a little time, a good night of sleep, submit control, ask for help, cry it out, allow yourself to be OVERwhelmed…. and then pick yourself up and keep going.

If you’re in college like me, or if your everyday is feeling like more than you can handle… grant yourself grace, admit your weakness, submit control.

If you’re into it… pray.

YOU GOT THIS, BABE.

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.”

Abraham Lincoln

always,

Alex

sometimes, we’re all a little messy.

skin.

sometimes it glows and sometimes it sheds.

March is nearing its end, and I can’t believe that it was nearly a month ago that I was soaking in the Pacific sun on the T-Street Beach of San Clemente, California.

I soaked in a little too much sun, actually.

A naturally olive-toned gal, I typically skip the sunscreen on my body (not my face, I’d prefer to delay wrinkles a while). This particular trip was no different…. and I ended up with a pretty gnarly sunburn. Weeks later, the skin on my calves and thighs made me look like a snake in ecdysis.

I heard somewhere that you shed all of your skin in 27 days. I thought this was an absolutely fascinating concept. So, I did what anyone would do…. I googled it. Here’s what I found:

Humans shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour – about 1.5 pounds a year. By 70 years of age, an average person will have lost 105 pounds of skin. Humans shed and re-grow outer skin cells about every 27 days – almost 1,000 new skins in a lifetime.

ezslinger.com

As many people smarter than I have stated over and over again, we are new every day. Each day is a fresh start. Every morning holds new beginnings.

I totally get this idea, and support it.

In other ways, I understand that we may need 27 days (or many more) to allow ourselves to shed that weight, that deadness, the thing that is no longer serving us… and allow healing and growth to take place.

I’m pretty sure it was a podcast that discussed this topic of shedding skin every 27 days, most likely my girl Katy Bellotte of the Thick and Thin Podcast (highly recommend!). It was discussed that even when you go through a breakup (friend, family, significant other, etc.) you get lonely for human touch perhaps more than you actually miss the other person.

I wish my skin was this dewey and glowy all the time… but alas, this skin went away too.

But then, sweet friend, you must remember, that your skin will not be the same skin in 27 days.

In 27 days, you skin will not have been touched by that person. or hurt by the sun’s rays. or scraped by a fall on the ice. or dry from the harshness of the winter. (I definitely won’t have the reminder I left on my hand… that seems to shed within minutes and then I’m left wondering what I was supposed to do.)

In 27 days, your skin is made new to serve you in a different purpose. This month, you may burn your hand making a new dish or you may moisturize every single day. This new skin will live to its full life expectancy, and in 27 days you can start a new story in the shell of what holds in all that is you.

Skin is just that — our shell. Our hearts and minds and souls may need a hell of a lot longer than 27 days to heal. I get that. I feel that. Some days I cry that my healing is taking longer than others, and my friends (bless their souls) are there to remind me that there is no timeline to my personal okay-ness about anything. We all hurt, some are just better at hiding it. Some people just have a thick skin. (Yeah, that pun was intended.)

While your skin sticks to a timeline… your soul does not. Some things, like a touch or a sunburn, will no longer reside on your skin within this 27 day timeline.

Take the time to find your okay-ness.

But in the meantime, let’s raise a glass:

  • Here’s to shedding a layer that’s no longer serving us.
  • Here’s to shedding deadness and darkness within and upon us.
  • Here’s to shedding unrealistic or unmet expectations, broken hopes, and dreams that are no longer our dreams.
  • Here’s to shedding all that is no longer me.
  • Here’s to growth and healing when the layer is gone.

Here’s to 27 days.

always,

Alex

f r e e d o m .

If you liked this blog or others, or have ideas for future posts… please reach out on Instagram! @alexfarbie & my dms are always open. xoxo

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“and I don’t even know you yet.”

Last night, I sat down to write “A Letter to My 2020 Self.” This was my final goal of January, and I officially completed every goal I set for myself for the month. I thought about sharing this letter in a blog, but it ended up affecting me so deeply and personally that I’d rather just stick it away in a folder of my computer for a snowy January day next year.

via @raniban on instagram

However, I will share the sentence I wrote to close the letter:

I love you, Alexandra Grace of 2020, and I don’t even know you yet.

And that’s when it hit me.

I didn’t even know this version of myself one year ago. Looking back, I think the ‘love’ I had for myself was nearly completely defined by how others perceived me, loved me, viewed me, enjoyed being around me, or other standards. For much of that time and the months that followed, I was happy but simply going through a lot of the motions of life. In the pit of my stomach, I still felt not good enough. I felt like nothing I did was amounting to anything, a restless stream of busyness and lack of accomplishment. I had severe burnout and experienced intense heartbreak. I was in an extremely dark place, and I fought tooth and nail and crawled out of that dark place inch by inch by inch. That army crawl toughened me up like a soldier heading into battle to fight for my life and the version of myself I wanted to be.

Today, I can honestly say I love who I am becoming. I still struggle as much as the next person. I procrastinate. I’m always late. I find it hard to socialize, yet I hate being alone. I feel my emotions perhaps too deeply. I overcommit and fail at tasks. I even did my fair share of crying as I wrote a letter to myself… prophesying and praying that when I look back on this year I’m overwhelmed with pride and joy. Despite my struggles and everyday downfalls, I have worked really hard to get where I am. I’m nowhere near the top of the mountain, but damn the view gets better the further I go. There is no quick fix, no diet, no podcast, no workout, no face mask, no self-help novel that will give you all the answers. My answers for how I’m striving for better will not match yours. That’s okay. We’re all different. Find what makes you feel more alive, like a breath of fresh air has been breathed into you. As for me, I’m living life for me by saying goodbye to things that no longer serve me, devoting time to develop healthy habits, and listening to a whole lot of worship music…. and I guess I’m writing letters to myself, too.

If how I’ve felt lately is a trajectory path for the upcoming year, I’m feeling pretty good about it. I don’t know my 2020 self, but so far my 2019 self is the best version of myself that I’ve been in a long time.

I encourage you to write a letter to yourself. Maybe it’s just for next week, maybe it’s for a certain month, maybe it’s a year or 5. Write to yourself. Proclaim your hopes and dreams for yourself. For me, it was a written prayer and vision board and journal entry all at once, and it was absolutely cathartic.

always,

Alex