Don’t Forget Self-Love On Valentine’s Day

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It seems like so many are looking for love in clubs and cafés, while overlooking one of the most important places– the mirror.

This may be shrugged off this Valentine’s Day as you see countless Instagram posts of couples exclaiming their affection for each other. A romance between two people can be special, but as Oscar Wilde once wrote, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

The journey to self-love is not an easy one, but it is vital for a happier and more fulfilling life. For me the path was troublesome at times with harsh self-criticism, low self-confidence, and teenage acne. The only affirmation I received came from outside relationships.

One tough lesson I learned is that your validation should never lie in another human being. This was made clear to me after the end of a relationship. It wasn’t the nicest way to learn about self-love, but the message has been forever cemented in my spirit.

When you’re in love, you seek to please the object of your affection. And when this love is also directed towards yourself, the same applies. Since reaching a place of acceptance and love for myself, I make better decisions. This is reflected in my pursuit of goals, who I surround myself with, and how I carry myself. I choose to go after things that will make me happy; I choose to surround myself with those who are kind and inspire me; and I choose to walk with my head high, even on days when I’d rather just crawl back into bed.

If you consistently make poor decisions in life and love, what message are you sending yourself? You deserve to reap the benefits of healthy choices. This comes from self-love.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13 that, “Love is patient and kind.” In order to truly love yourself, you need to exercise patience. Progress is a daily effort, not a race. Understand that growth is not always linear. Sometimes you fall back a step, but as long as you keep learning from mistakes, you can continue forward stronger than ever.

I don’t always do or say the right things, but I refuse to beat myself up over it. This is where kindness comes into play. Why is it that we can easily show compassion to others, yet we are often our harshest critic instead of our biggest cheerleader? Be nice to yourself. Accountability should also apply to your accomplishments, not just your mistakes.

And speaking of mistakes, 1 Corinthians 13 also says that love “keeps no records of wrongs.” Forgiveness is also crucial in this journey. Holding on to what you should or not should have done in the past is a heavy burden that no one should bear.

Self-love is more than telling yourself how good you look before a night out. It’s more than the feeling you get after a new haircut. Unlike love between two people, you can’t hide or sugarcoat your (sometimes messy) truth. You know all there is to know about you. And choosing to love yourself in spite of that reality is worthy of a Hallmark card in the Valentine’s Day section.

— Tara Pook

Mom & Dad on Love & Marriage

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 1.34.31 AM They started off as teenage friends back in the day. My dad said she read a book on their first date [Her argument: “I didn’t read a book, I flipped through it. And it may have been a magazine.”], but today they’re celebrating 27 years of wedded bliss. In honor of their special day, I asked them the best advice they ever received about love and marriage.

“Whenever I used to visit my grandmother with your dad, she was always quick to tell me to get in that kitchen and make him a plate of food. So one time she cornered me and said, ‘Girl, you better take care of that man [laughter]. If you don’t do it, someone else will.’  That was advice I’ve always remembered. I may not have always applied it [laughter], but she always said you better take care of your man. You have to remember she came from a different generation. Back in her day, that’s how they operated. But with my generation, things were just beginning to change for young women. It became ‘I can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan [laughter].’ Thinking about what my grandmother said, I think I thought, ‘Why does it have to be all about pleasing your man? What about me?’ And I think it just had to do with that era. What it comes down to is that a marriage takes two, it can’t be all about one person. It has to be about the wants and needs and desires of the other person as well. You have to try to make each other happy, instead of the focus being on one person. Because if the other person’s dreams aren’t met, they aren’t fulfilled in the relationship. So what it all comes down to is, make each other happy.” — Mom

“It is something I believed I told you some time ago about what a former boss said to me. He said you won’t always feel love for your wife. You may love her or be in love with her, but you won’t always feel love because there will be times of disagreement resulting in hurt feelings or anger. But it is those times that you must operate not on feelings, but commitment. You must remember that you made a commitment to that woman. That is the best advice I have ever received on marriage.” — Dad

Over the years I’ve been given plenty of advice on love from my parents, but what I learned came from from what I saw, not always what I heard.
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Bittersweet: A Poem

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I have come to learn that there are two types of people–  those who God placed in our lives for a lifetime and those only meant to be around for a season. Hanging on to something that once was will either cause you emotional harm or further diminish what you both had shared. It can be quite bittersweet when you think about it.

So when it’s time to let go, let go. Pray for the courage to walk away and most importantly, acceptance so that you never look back.

Tara Pook

A Short Goodbye to 2014

laughable loves quotes

2014, you weren’t always kind.

Many times I felt like the Karate Kid, going through challenges that I initially rendered pointless.

“They” say everything happens for a reason, but I often wondered what any of the hardships I dealt with had to do with my destiny. That is until I realized it had everything to do with my destiny.

The best part of a year ending is not just looking to a new year. It’s seeing how the joy, laughter, tears and pain all fit together for a triumphant story.

2014, you weren’t always kind, but you were so worth it.

- Tara Pook

Say It With Your Actions

Not what you say circle

One of my favorite Chrisette Michele songs begins with, “Say it with your actions. Saying those words to me doesn’t mean anything.”

And though she is singing about a boyfriend who says but does not show that he loves her, I’ve taken this as one of my favorite sayings/lessons on life.

Say it with your actions.

Why? Because sometimes word isn’t bond.
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Fearlessly Imperfect

are they flaws

Hi, my name is Tara and I am a recovering perfectionist. For years I sought to be free from flaws, not necessarily in my eyes, but in the view of others. And those who know from experience can attest that pleasing everyone is an impossible feat.

In my pursuit of perfection and approval, I focused on outward appearances and accomplishments while neglecting my emotional being. If there was a problem, I kept it to myself and gathered up what strength I could find to solve it alone.

Back then I could have used these honest words from my sister Jessie,

“No matter how introverted and independent we are, God made us long for meaningful relationships with each other. That’s why we can’t do everything on our own. We need help from time to time. We’re freakin’ human.”

A support system was readily available to me with loving friends and family and yet “Never let ‘em see you sweat,” had somehow become my mantra.

It took a fall from grace and a seat in a therapist’s chair for me to realize that I was chasing a goal that was never obtainable. And perhaps that’s the biggest problem with perfection. From afar it looks so appeasing, but no stairway can get you there and no stretch of the limbs will bring you close.
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