My Self-Love Journey

The lessons I learnt from my “self-love” challenge

This is a story about a challenge that changed my life – I know, not cliche at all right?

The challenge started when Hannah and I decided to run our first Girls Weekenz workshop. We had no idea what to expect we just set the intention to: give it a go, have fun and hopefully help other girls. But then, yes, the unthinkable happened, the silly challenge changed my life. And here is why I think it could change yours too.

But before we skip forward, I need to take you back. Back to when it all started.

The challenge started with two girls eating koftas in bed, talking very openly about life, love and our fears. Talking about the things we want to do, the things that scare us and the things that stop us from achieving our dreams and we landed on the idea of doing a self-love workshop.

Oh yes, I have a business called Girls Weekenz and we run wellness retreat for girls in New Zealand. Mainly because we believe life to live the life of your dreams, you need to step out of your comfortable zone by trying new things, exploring the nature and connecting with yourself and others.

So, back to my story. The idea of running a workshop was overwhelming, felt near impossible and the topic, well… We had our doubts about how it would go down. But we decided to put all that aside, take Nike’s advice and – just do it.

On one hand, we thought, “this won’t work, don’t be silly, drop it”. But we both knew the topic was important and didn’t get the attention it deserved! We knew that most of us don’t say “I love you” to ourselves (seriously, when is the last time you said that?).  Not only that, we knew people often did the opposite, talking critically, and harshly to themselves.

We also knew that most of us are almost always waiting for someone else to love us. The reality is: we end up relying so heavily on other people for love, we neglect ourselves and our needs.

Fast forward, the workshop was a tremendous success. The most honest, amazing girls came, shared their journeys, were vulnerable and we all learnt from each other. We had big names sponsor us because they too thought self- love was an important topic. We also had a lot of fun in the process.

The self-love challenge…

To make sure the girls would take the ideas and tools into their busy lives, we asked them to set their own self-love challenge. To set lead by example, Hannah and I set ourselves a simple self-love challenge.

For 21 days we would do 21 little acts of self-love. I printed the challenge, stuck it to my wall and tried everyday to do the challenge and post it to the FB group.

The thing with a self-love challenge is if you slip up- (oh no I didn’t buy myself flowers today), you simply show yourself some more love the next day. It’s a win/win.

But what happened next, I did not expect. I noticed more and more, that everyday I not only did an activity on the chart, I was doing multiple!

I noticed that because of the challenge when I treated myself unkindly, I stopped and repeated: the mantra self-love, self-love, self-love. Then I asked myself: would I have said that to my best friend? The answer was almost always no. Then I would ask myself for the best advice, and I would do that.

So that’s what I did. I am doing. I want to be doing.

Lessons learnt

The lesson I learnt is both simple but I found it to be immensely profound:  I will always be there for myself. No matter what. I am my best friend. No matter how many amazing friends I have. I belong to myself and that means that I will always speak my truth. No matter what or when. I will always be kind to myself because I deserve kindness.

That means stopping when I am running too fast and need to take a breath. That means saying no to someone that I really want to hang-out with but I really need some alone time (I am an introvert-extrovert). That means having 8 hours sleep – even though I have so much work. Or just simply going to yoga on my lunch break (and not feeling guilty or bad about it).

This self-love journey has changed my life and how I do things. Coincidently, my work is going great, the business is going amazing, I am laughing more, and most importantly: I am content.

Self-love has allowed me to be content and happy with myself and where I am at. I am not grieving about my past. I am not letting my story define who I am. I am not feeling alone around people anymore (have you ever had that feeling?).

I’ve realised that: I am whole.

Because I have me. I love Maria and who she is. I trust her to follow her intuition and to always, hold my own hand and guide me through. Because as long as I know how to love myself, I know I will be alright.

I really hope you stop and reflect and pay attention to how you talk to the most important person if your life. I hope you give yourself all the love you deserve. Because I might not know you, but I know you matter. Your story matters and you have a huge impact to have on this universe.

So please, do yourself a favour: tell yourself how much you love you. Tell yourself how much of a beautiful human being you are, with all your flaws and imperfections. Tell yourself how perfect you are and that you are your best friend.

Because you matter. I matter. We matter.

If you want to know more about the self-love challenge and our workshops please click here

If you want to share your self-love story, please contact me on dudaselva@gmail.com

I wrote this post originally for Girls Weekenz Wellbeing Blog

Sending lots and lots of love,

Maria

I am a guilty feminist

I am not Martin Luther King Jr., but I have a dream. I have a dream. I have a dream that one day, I will make the same amount of money as a man for doing the same work. I have a dream that I make the same as a CEO, as an athlete, and as a doctor. I have a dream to make the same in government, in the tech industry, and in the healthcare.

I have a dream. I have a dream that boys and girls can grow up having the same dreams. I have a dream that your daughters are told to be smart before they are told to be beautiful. I have a dream that your daughters are told to be girls and act like girls, rather than to be told “to behave” and to act “lady like” even though “boys will be boys”.

I have a dream. I have a dream to be equal and to have my body respected. I have a dream to not be asked in my job interview when I am planning to have a baby, even tho my partner, who is a man and only 1 year older than me,  will never be asked that. I have a dream not to be objectified, catcalled or sexualized.

I have a dream. But. But – there’s always a butt – I want to confess to you in this post the guilty things I do and the hypocrisies, fears, and insecurities I have been a feminist in the 21st century.

Here is my first one: I am a feminist, but when my nephew turned 9 years old, I baked him a blue cake with moustaches all over. Because he is a big boy now. I a feminist, but I never bought my nephews a doll or a teddy bear even though I bought them cars and lego.

I am a feminist but I sing and dance to “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke. I am a feminist but I actually know the words of “Crazy Rap” by Afroman. If you don’t know these songs, they are really bad. They catcall, sexualize and objectify women. I still dance tho, I find it really catchy. “I know you want it”…

I am a feminist and I believe in equality, but I do believe women need to take over because let’s face it, men are doing such a bad job. Jeez. If you are reading this and you are a man, sorry but you had your turn, but look at this world right now, you have chaos here. Chaos (and Donald Trump). I am joking… #amI?

I am a feminist, but if I got my period by surprise and need some tampons, I go around the room whispering to any women “hey do you have a tampon” rather than just using my normal voice or even saying out loud “hey, does anyone has a tampon, I need one”. Yeah, nah. I do whisper. I still feel awkward talking about my vagina when is bleeding.

I am a feminist, but, I do not stay at my boyfriend’s house, under any circumstances if I have forgotten my makeup bag and I have work the next day. Honestly, it’s no deal. My makeup bag is even more important than my toothbrush. When I say this out loud we really get it how my attitudes are twisted. But if I go to work, all natural, people ask me: are you sick? Are you tired? Do you want to talk? Thanks, but no thanks. I stick with the makeup.

For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.”

Feminism is not: an aggressive movement, a non-bra movement and doesn’t mean you don’t shave your legs and intimate area. It really means, you too have a dream to be equal.

I quote Emma Watson here: “If you stand for equality, you are a feminist. I’m sorry to tell you that.

Well, I am 27 years old now, and for the first time in my life, I have a sense of self that I’m comfortable with. With all my insecurities, guilty and hypocrisies. I feel like that I actually do have things that I want to say and I want to be my most authentic self. Whatever this looks like. For this post, I am a guilty feminist.

And I want to leave you with the question: What does equality mean to you? What are you guilty of?

If you want to hear more stories of guilty feminists, go to the podcast: The Guilty Feminist

It’s hilarious and my inspiration for this post 🙂

How the lobster grows

With all the things I could share with you, I’ve decided to share with you, my take away from the video: how the lobster grows.

But before we got ahead, I would like you to think about a traumatic event in your life.

Go on, don’t be shy. Think about something painful that has happened to you. Something that made you cry. Something that at that point in time, you thought ‘oh crap I am not too sure if I can make it’.

I know, I know. A bit of a strange way to start a blog post, isn’t it? Even more so, a bit of a strange topic. But let’s face it, you might know by now that I am a strange person. And if you don’t know me, nice to meet you, I am a weirdo.

But the real question here is: aren’t you so excited to find out how the lobster grows, with great detail?

“Nah, not really”. Let’s face it, who cares about how the lobster grows. To be fair, I didn’t care myself.

But then, last year, when I was finally dealing with the fact my uncle sexually abused me when I was a young child to teenage years, that is when I saw this video. And has changed my life.

But, before I go on about what the video is about, I will actually explain how the lobster grows, because it is important for the context here. And then I will tell you what I’ve learnt from this message and what you can learn from this too.

Lobsters are soft animals with a very rigid shell. And in order for the lobster to grow, at various stages of its life, it must molt. In other words, it has to get rid of its old shell and form a new one.

The key part is: when the lobster grows, the soft part of the animal of course, touches this rigid shell and guess what? It is painful. Because it is so painful for them, the have to change the shell to a bigger one.

This process, of changing its shell, takes about 20-30 minutes. And, during this process, and here is another very important lesson, the lobster is vulnerable. Its vulnerable to be another animal food.

The video reckons, that, if the lobster were a human being, when he felt the pain, he would go to the doctors and the doctor, would give him an anti depressant. The anti depressant would make him numb, and therefore, he would never go under the rocks and make a bigger shell.

The message of the video, and of this post is very simple: you must feel the pain to be able to grow. If you never felt the pain, you would never do something about to change your life.

Therefore, if you never felt the pain of a traumatic event, you would never be able to grow.

I want you to think about that traumatic time of life again. And be honest with yourself:

Could you say that that event made who you are now? Could you say, that and many other traumatic events built you? Made you stronger?

I can say that. And trust me, my life has not been unicorns and butterflies.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t think, “wow, what a fantastic time of growth”. God no. If you saw me last year, or even the start of this year, I looked like mess and I cried a lot.

But the truth is: I’ve grown so much since then. And it is most likely that you did too.

What can you take away from this post? That maybe you could allow yourself to be seen. Really seen. Take the mask off.

That maybe, you could be willing to invest in a relationship that may, or may not, work out. Be willing to say “I love you” first. Be willing to do that thing, that you always wanted to do but you always been afraid of. Because, if all goes wrong and you are feeling the pain. You know for sure, you are growing.

And you are building a better and stronger version of yourself.

Like a lobster.

As C.S Lewis said: “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn. My God, you learn”.

That is me.

Watch the video ‘how do Lobsters grow?‘:

how the lobster grow video

 

If you want to know more about my project, We are someone, of opening a conversation about sexual abuse, check out www.wearesomeone.com

xx

Maria Selva

 

PS: I love you

Hi babe,

Do you know something? I love you. I love your eyes and your beautiful smile. I love your body and the way you move. I love how your brain thinks and how fascinating you are. Yes, babe, you are fascinating.

You are unique and you are so special. You are my best friend and my dearest love. I am so proud of you. Look how far you’ve come! Cheers to you! You are amazing. You amaze me.

xoxo

Maria 2016.

So, I just shared with you the most beautiful letter I received. And for this post, I am sharing with you why this letter is so important.

To give you some context, the other day I was doing some cleaning and uncluttering my stuff – apparently, it is good for ya – and I came across an envelope with my name on it. I opened and there it was this letter.

I gotta tell you. I felt in love with Maria. And I felt so loved, I felt so special. I was so happy to read how much I appreciated myself.

The question is: why did I decide to share this letter with you? Because it felt good loving myself. Because when you love yourself, you don’t care what other people think about you – and you are okay to be a total weirdo. Because this is the only way of loving someone else and expect nothing in return. What I want to tell you, is why you want to love yourself and how you can do it.

From what I heard, self-love is the pathway to your happiness. Self-love is the key to understanding others. True self-love, is the key to a good happy life.

Uh what? That sounds like mumbo jumbo stuff.

New flash, you gotta to love yourself, sisters and brothers. If you don’t love yourself, who else will? And the other thing, you must be grateful for the three you’s.

Uh what? More jumbo mumbo?

New flash, there are three you’s. There’s the past you, the present you, and the future you. And if you wanna love someone and have someone love you back, you gotta learn to love yourself, and the three you’s are the key.

You must be grateful to the past you for the positive things you’ve done. And do favours for the future you like you would for your best friend.

What do you mean Maria? Well, let me explain, it goes like this: you woke up today and you feel like tots crap. Stop a second. Think of a good decision you made yesterday. Did you go for a run instead of watching Netflix? That’s when you high five yourself and say: thanks younger me!

Now you need to think about doing a favour to your future self. Like you would’ve done to your best friend.

It goes like this: your alarm goes off but your bed is too comfy? “No! Screw you present self, I am getting up, I am going to go to that gym because I know it will feel good this afternoon.” All for the future you.

You see… That is how you create the cycle of doing something for someone else (future you) and thanking someone for the good in your life (past you). And that is key to building gratitude and productivity. Trust me, I read it in a book.

But hey, think with me: why wait for someone to tell you they love you when you can tell yourself? Why wait for someone to fall in love with you, when you can fall in love with yourself? Why expect someone else to tell you that you look good in those jeans, and you can tell yourself ‘damn hottie’.

I am not to sure what made me write that letter. But I gotta tell you something, I am writing more of those letters.

Because when you create this cycle of doing a favour for yourself and thanking yourself for the good things in life, you spread, over time, the gratitude to others who help you on your path.

And what I want for you to do right now, is to go home and write 3 things that you are grateful for your younger self and 3 things you will do for your future self.

Then, I want you to write the most beautiful letter to your future self and put somewhere away from your view, with the hope, that when you need the most you will find the letter.

Because I want you to remember that you have a unique contribution to the world, and you have a whole world to conquer.

As Rumi said, “If I love me, I love you. If you love you, you love me”.

PS: I love you.

Maria Selva

Namaste

This post I want to talk about how yoga changed my life.

I know it may sound like a random topic to choose, or perhaps it sounds fairly typical for a new age twenty-something-year-old chick to talk about the “joys of yoga”… But nonetheless, it really has changed my life, and I think it could change yours too.

You see, it was through yoga that I’ve learned that we can’t always change what’s happening to us, but we CAN change the way we respond.

We all experience pain, right? – whether that pain is a headache, or back pain, stress, heartbreak, loneliness. Whatever is your pain, I am sure we’ve all experienced something, right?”e

We all experienced pain – but it is HOW we choose to experience that pain that is up to us – or more specifically, how we choose to react to that pain.

Imagine if I told you that you could change your response to pain and in the process be free from suffering  Would you believe me?

In 1963 amidst a protest of the persecution of Buddhists, a Vietnamese monk sat down on a road in a traditional meditative lotus position, poured a can of petrol over his head, and as recited a homage to Buddha, he lit himself on fire and meditated until he burned to death.

For most of us, we scream when our coffee is too hot or when the shower is too cold. We react to pain far too easily.

But ladies and gentlemen, what that Vietnames monk did that day is proof that we have absolute control over our mind, over our pain tolerance, and over the way that react to almost all situations.  And yoga offers us an insight into how we can control it.

For me, this lesson all started on my body, on the yoga mat.

The Chair pose (Utkatasana) is where I am often presented with this challenge. With my feet firmly grounded, and my knees bent, it involves dropping the tailbone and sitting down into the air. Holding the core tight, rolling the shoulders back/down and extending the arms out to create a dynamic tension through my body. Within this isometric hold, I must breathe to find balance and strength. After a period of time, the thighs begin to burn, the arms feel heavy, the breath naturally wants to shorten, the mind gets agitated— this is painful guys!! All I want to do is to come out of this hold and shake it off – everytime.

I have practiced yoga five times a week for the last 24 months.  That means I’ve experienced this pose more than 520 times And I still feel the tension.  I still feel the fire. I still feel the burn.  Utkata means “wild,” “frightening,” “intense,” “furious,” “heavy”; and asana means “seat.” As I come into Utkatasana, I am literally sitting into a heavy, frightening, wild, intense fury—and honestly, it can feel that rough!

Now personally, having had to deal with  this pose has made me far more equipped to deal with other types of pain in my life too. There are so many uncomfortable aspects within our day to day actions, thoughts and relationships. Learning to choose to move through the pain of Utkatasana, and training my body, mind and spirit to sit more deeply into it, fully expanding my breathe and finding the heart centre of my practice, I take a step towards integration of my whole being.

Acknowledging the discomfort of life, yet staying there a moment longer to allow the feeling, acknowledging it as real, feeling its presence fully; holding it…and allowing the pain to change,  to pass… that is when I started to give mySelf the gift of complete presence and finding compassion.

Every day is a practice of life, whether we include yoga or not. Every day, we experience moments of discomfort.

Some days, the need to escape can be so intense and burning that it is difficult to think of anything else. But rather than leaving the discomfort, can you stay there a moment longer—a breath longer?

Can you find yourself fully present within the discomfort of being?

Can you sit deeply into the Utkatasana of life?

Yoga has taught me not to react but to embrace.  Not to judge, but to feel.

Yoga has taught me not to fight but surrender. Yoga has taught me the art of living.

As we say in yoga:

“The divine light in me honours the divine light in you.”

Namaste.

Maria

Photo: Bruce Simons

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADch_Qu%E1%BA%A3ng_%C4%90%E1%BB%A9c

Who are you?

Now, if you could close your eyes. Take a deep breath and answer in your head this question: Who are you?

Have another breath and then open your eyes. How was your experience?

Sometimes it is difficult to answer this simple question, right? It seems that who you truly believe yourself to be dictates how you experience yourself and how people think about you. So, let’s say if you think that you are fat or skinny, or maybe you think you are what you eat, like I am a vegetarian or a vegan, that will be your primary experience of yourself. Believing it and thinking it reinforces who you are, or who do you think you are.

But, here is my question for you: is that really who you are? Can you define who you are based on your body size? Can you define who you are based on where you come from? Based on your what you eat or based on your mother tongue?

When you tap into your spirit and find out who you really are, it frees you from being locked into your expectations or societies lame rules. Because you know who you are and you don’t care what other people think about you. Because you know it is only their perspective of life. Because you know the truth about yourself and that is more than enough. And that… That sets you free.

So now, consider the possibility that you are not who you think you are. Who are you?

Well, in basic science class, we learn that all matter – everything – is composed of different combinations of elements. This applies to the human body as well. So, what are you? About 65 percent oxygen, 3 percent nitrogen, 0.25 percent sulphur. Your hair, your eyes, your fluids, your skin, your feet, – and even your fat – are made up of elements. So, in theory, you are just a sack of chemicals! Well, is what you are? A sack of chemicals?

Let me tell you a story. It is the true story of W Mitchell. Mr Mitchell as a young man, he lived life very much like everyone else. But, in one cold night, his life suddenly changed when he had a blazing motorcycle accident. He woke up in the hospital with ⅔ of his body burnt. He not only overcame that but fours years later, Mr Mitchell had a plane crash. This time he woke up in the hospital paralysed from his waist down. Try to imagine his emotional state. Most people, would ask: What now? What do I do now? But hey, not him. He asked: What else do I still have? Am I merely a body or am I something more? How can I contribute to the world?

Today he is a millionaire, a motivational speaker and a business leader. He is also, a living example of what will-power, courage and determination can achieve. But mostly, he is a living example of someone that knows himself. His body might be stuck in a wheelchair, his face might be burned and he might be missing most of his hands, but his spirit, well, his spirit is free.

And this is one of the most empowering things you can know, is that: I am. It’s really all you can know for sure. Everything else it is just a belief, everything else it is just a label; everything else it is just your reaction to fear. And that is it: You are. You exist.

As we believe in whatever labels we tell ourselves to be true, they become true. All of us view the world through our own lens, coloured by the experiences, meanings, and beliefs we’ve accumulated over the years.

So, if you could change your point of view of who you truly are, what would you say now?

The closer you get to answer the question of who you are,  the closer you get to the truth consciousness bliss. You have the choice of not marrying yourself to lame labels like your fat, skinny, vegetarian. In your spirit, you are not of that! You are not your profession or what you do! You simply are!

And tonight, I can tell you this much, no matter who you think you are, you are not that. And neither am I. Who am I?  I am free and I am enough. Who are you?

Maria

Photo: Scott Sinton

Nova Zelândia? Care to explain?

 

This title and this photo, it was my very first tempted to post something here (well, it was all in Portuguese and the name of the blog was different as well). I’ve started this blog in 2013, thinking to write to my fellow Brazilian people how it is living in New Zealand.

In some stage of 2013, I felt like I should tell my fellow Brazilian people how it is living in New Zealand. Because going outside of Brazil is a big deal, especially when you do not speak the language. It might feel like is not a big deal, but going out of your comfortable zone, is a big deal.

But something happened. I felt shy, I felt like I wasn’t good enough to tell my Brazilian people about this and I just kept on living, leaving nothing behind.

Then I realised two things: firstly, that I am good enough and really, does not really matter if you will read this or not, it feels nice writing. Then, the second thing is, living in New Zealand is nothing… Because life itself it is a very big adventure! Like, really? Come on! You must agree with me that sometimes, you are not too sure why you did get up off

Oh what? Well, come on you! You must agree with me that sometimes, you are not too sure why you did get up off  your bed.

I am sure you had a day or two when everything just went wrong. I am sure, you had that day where you were thinking “is someone taking the piss“? I am sure, you had a day that you were like “yeah maybe this living thing is not really for me, I might try to be a tree next life”.

However, we keep on living. We keep on breathing and doing whatever we are doing. Sometimes, breathing it is a big challenge, let alone making a dent in the universe. Or creating all those things we really (really) want to do (like me writing).

So, I decided it was time to start writing and it was time to write in whatever language I felt comfortable with (that is why you go this English).Thank you for being alive and for being you.

That is when I thought it was important to tell you: Thank you for being alive and for being you. Yes, you are reading right: thank you for being you. Thank you for keep on going and just doing whatever you are doing. It is because of you that I do get off the bed every morning and I keep living life.

I love how exciting people are talking about the things they love. I love the smell of the ocean air and the smell of home made cookies #letsfaceit.

I might not have met you, yet. I might not even meet you in this lifetime. I might not even meet you ever! Although, I have this crazy belief that we are one. You are me as I am you. We are all together, like a Beatles song.

That is why I am writing in this blog. I will be writing about my life in New Zealand (Nova Zelandia in Portuguese). I will be writing about the epic experiences I had. But mostly, I will be writing about life itself.

And I would love if you want to be part of this journey. I would love even more if you want to share your life, your experience or something with me or with us… I am more than sure that is worthwhile reading. Email me: dudaselva@gmail.com .

Photo: somewhere near Tawharanui, New Zealand. I am convinced that was on timer and the camera was Rafael Vallaparde.