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Self-love is NOT Selfish

Birthdays are a time of reflection. Birthdays are a time when we celebrate another year of wisdom, another year of growth, and another year of adventure. On Sunday I turned 37. I decided to give myself a birthday gift this year. A whole year of self-love and the gift of believing self-love (self-care, self-compassion-whatever you want to call it), is not selfish.

My first step to self-love was believing in the sense of peace that I had to leap away from my job. (There's every financial reason NOT to do this, by the way, but I am sitting with a master's degree, a teaching license, a love for writing, and the ability to wizard through some video editing, a touch of graphic design, and a willingness to fail fast and fail forward, so I will be fine).

I've been in the workforce for more than two decades. During that time, I did all the things society said I was supposed to:

1. Graduate from high school

2. Take college classes while in high school

3. Enter my freshman year of college with nearly enough credits to be a sophomore

4. Declare an "undeclared major" even though I knew that I would be in education

5. Graduate from college in three and a half years (time-wise)

6. Study abroad

7. Keep student loan debt controlled with scholarships (not sure why this matters though - I'm still paying on them)

8. Consolidate student loan debt early (meaning payments also started early)

9. Teach away from home for one year

10. Realize how hard being away from any support network was and return home the following year

11. Do everything that the college professor said rookie teachers would do (switch classes, change schools, believe that I would stay in one classroom forever)

12. Buy a 2 bedroom starter house (which I still possess today)

13. Get married

14. Work summer jobs

15. Get pregnant

16. Miscarry

17. Use fertility drugs

18. Have first child. (Born at 36 1/2 gestation weighing 3 lb. 6 oz.)

19. Have 20 day NICU stay

20. Return to work full-time at 8 weeks post birth

21. Resign position to relocate to larger city

22. Take on part-time jobs

23. Have second child ten weeks early

24. Have a 50 day NICU stay

25. Become a landlord

26. Apply for FTE position of my job

27. Two year old is bitten by the dog on the day of my interview while my mom is watching her

28. Work with an amazing leader for several years

29. Find my voice to present in groups

30. Live in three learning management systems, two student information systems, and create an Access database to keep all the data flowing easily

31. Become a digital literacy expert and advocate

32. Ache because of #mommyguilt

33. Hire a cleaning company

34. Succeed

35. Fail

36. Fail again

37. Leap

Somewhere in there I also earned my master's degree, supported my husband through a two year degree in LAN Management (someday the waterfall of cables in our house will make sense), received additional training, made some amazing connections, and poured my soul into loving others much better than I loved myself.

During my thirty-sixth year, I learned about loving myself through a daily practice of meditation and trying to feel into gratitude. This year I will be using the hashtag #365selflove to give myself the gift of self-love, self-compassion, and speaking to myself with love. Anyone struggling to love him/her/themself, please join me in giving yourself the gift of #365selflove for your birthday this year.

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