By Dea Shandera
I am blessed. I’ve been given the gift of two amazing children and the opportunity to help inspire them to grow into being very special people.
There have been so many good things in my life, but it hasn’t been easy to appreciate myself. In fact, it never really occurred to me that I should appreciate myself. I balanced an intense career and filled the roles of mother and father for my two children. With a deadbeat ex-husband, it was all up to me.
Providing for every need of my daughter and son, be it of their ever-developing bodies, minds or spirits, combined with the demands of an entertainment executive position, I felt pretty depleted when it came to appreciating and loving myself.
That manifested in many ways. I didn't have much of a social life, I didn't care about keeping my body in shape, food was way too important, not only to keep my energy up, but as a major source of love and I found myself caught up in that place of just falling into bed to start it all over again the next day.
Last year was a real turning point for me because both my kids left home to start their adult lives. I made a big decision that it was now my time. I began to appreciate myself and love myself in ways I never knew were possible. I gave up sugar (huge deal for me) and began making other changes too. One thing that really helped was repeating positive affirmations out loud over and over. Starting with this basic sentence, which I believe can benefit all of us; "I love myself." I would often do this while driving in my car. I wouldn’t just say it a few times, but perhaps a hundred in a row.
It was amazing how after saying it several times I could feel changes within my solar plexus. Changes that have really stuck with me and have made a difference. It’s as if those words connect us to our soul and really help make all things possible. I’ve found that these words can transcend experiences of pain or other emotional baggage we may have carried for years—perhaps something negative projected on us from a parent or teacher or an ex-husband that ate away at our self-esteem.
Once the self love was strong and healthy, I began to exercise my body and practice other things that were good for me that I hadn’t done for a very long time.
There were other affirmations I would say out loud depending on the day and my mood. Not long after I began this practice people started telling me I was glowing. Not just friends, but people I was meeting for the first time. It was really exciting. I was cultivating a bliss inside me that was organic and was emanating from my soul.
After learning to appreciate myself, it was easier to see the good in everything — everywhere. I found a way to look at all of my experiences and choices with gratitude. I have been single for 16 years and a few months ago God delivered the most special man I've ever known. I feel that this connection would not have happened without my inner work and the glow that I know is coming from within every day.
I strongly believe we can take control of our lives and have, be or do anything we desire. If I can do it, anyone can. I invite you all to join me in this happy place.