Reflections in a Bikini Sipping a Pina Colada
It was Memorial Day Weekend 2019. The unofficial start to Summer.
I just returned home from a few days of masterminding with 50 badass women entrepreneurs from across the world in my favorite city ever, Charleston, SC. There is truly something unicorn-magical about bringing diverse women together who share similar goals, ambitions and dreams for both life and business. But even more amazing were the conversations outside of those dreams that were happening. The conversations that started with “I’m so scared…”, “I struggle with…”, and “I doubt myself when…” that were Next Level impactful.
If you’ve never been to a mastermind before, it’s kinda like a work conference but way more intense and personal. Plus, when it’s for your own business, it’s next level personal because in order to truly grow you have to be hella transparent with all your financials, excuses, doubts and goals. You celebrate wins, but you also get called on all the shit too. It’s brain.on.overload. It’s not all “work”. We kicked the retreat off right with an epic #beforeiletitgochallenge dance party led by one of the badass women, who happens to be an internationally known choreographer. And if you know me, you know that music is jam. I may not be able to dance like Queen Bey, but I sure as hell will bring the heat no matter how crazy I look. We spent time at the Gulf Dunes Resort beach and the chic Restoration Hotel rooftop pool together. This is actually when most of those amazing conversations happened. The transformation that happened within this mastermind has seriously been life-changing. It’s been a week since I’ve returned and I’m still processing some of the revelations that happened.
Summer 2019 at Margaritaville Lake Lanier Islands
Lake Lanier Islands is about 45 minutes north of Atlanta and lucky for us, about 15 minutes from our house. I always heard lake life in the south is on a whole new level. Have you ever listened to “Redneck Yacht Club” by Craig Morgan? I’m pretty sure that song was written about Lake Lanier. Boats full of strangers strung together partying, a next level water park, tiki hut bars, an obstacle course in the water, live bands, a football field sized big screen TV playing music videos….I mean it’s pretty much a tropical island smack dab in the middle of Georgia.
My husband and kids were off attempting to conquer the obstacle course island in the middle of the lake, while I sat back in my lounge chair, sippin’ on a pina colada (there’s more to that significance later) and reflected on all things life. It wasn’t an intentional plan to reflect but all of a sudden, there I was alone, and reality hit me in the face like the not-so-graceful attempt I took to scour the obstacle course the week before. I’m telling you, that shit is slippery. Anywho, as I’m sitting there looking out over the sea of people at the lake, the tears started rolling down my face. And in that moment, this is what I realized:
I spent so many years missing out on beautiful moments like this because I hated the way I looked in a bathing suit.
How sad is that? Thing is, I know I’m not alone here. The damn thought of baring so much skin wearing a bathing suit is one of those moments that brings on ultra-anxious feelings to many women. And the crazy thing, it didn’t matter what I weighed or looked like, 120 lbs, 180 lbs, 140 lbs, toned, bony, or squishy. I never felt comfortable.
What’s even crazier is I spent the entire first part of my life in a bathing suit as a year-round competitive swimmer. Even then I don’t remember I time I ever felt comfortable. I always found myself comparing my body to the other girls. I’ll never forget it. I was probably 14 getting ready for high school swim practice. I don’t know if it’s still a thing, but at that time we always wore two suits. I wore this one blue suit as the bottom almost every day, a replica of the ‘96 Olympics in Atlanta (still my all time favorite summer Olympics btw). Well that suit had really seen it’s day. It was so faded in certain areas, but I just couldn’t give it up. I remember getting dressed that day in the locker room and I just had that suit on. A bunch of friends pointed out how I had these six shadowed marks on the stomach area of my suit. I took a closer look and sure enough, there they were. I immediately felt shame, not because anyone was making fun of me, but because I felt different. You see, I never had one of those super flat stomachs that most of the teenage girls I knew had. I had a muscular stomach that protruded out, not in. In fact, those were six ab muscles showing through on that faded suit, but I felt like they were fat rolls and a sign that my stomach wasn’t normal. I was striving so hard to be “normal” like every one else instead of embracing the beautiful, strong body that I had. Now here’s a lesson I’ll definitely be teaching my daughter.
Back to this past weekend. As I sat there in the sand, overlooking the hustlin’ lake that somehow still felt so serene, thoughts flowing through my brain and tears strolling down my face behind the pink Diff sunglasses I was wearing.
Here is what I realized in that moment.
I robbed myself (and those I love) of making way too many memories over the years because I didn’t feel confident or love my body enough to rock a bathing suit. Endless trips to the beach. Paddle boarding on the lake. Sitting poolside or heck even jumping in the pool to play with my kids. Those times I will never get back. That shit is sad. BUT…
Even if I did show up in a bathing suit, I wasn’t present. I was constantly filling my head with thoughts of what my stomach looked like standing, sitting, or bending over to grab a towel. I would sit and stare in awe of the women, of all shapes and sizes, who could confidently walk around the beach or pool in a bathing suit and wonder how they did it.
From the moment I laid out my bathing suit until the moment I took it off at the end of the day, I filled my head with negative self-talk and language that you wouldn’t speak to your worst enemy. I would outwardly complain to anyone who would listen, knowing a meaningful compliment would follow and hoping this time it would make me feel immediately better, yet knowing deep down it wouldn’t. Actually, it would make me feel even worse because I didn’t see what they saw.
BOOM! I no longer felt any of those things. I mean listen, real talk here is that I don’t think it’s realistic to expect that negative body talk isn’t going to enter our conscious brain. It’s how we learn to dismiss those thoughts as BS and move on. I am able to look forward to the summer at the lake. My kids (and husband) get to hysterically laugh at mom slipping all over the obstacle course and face planting left and right, hearing me scream at the top of my lungs when I head down the water slide (which I swear has to be the height of Mt. Everest), and cheer as I school their dad in open water swimming. He still believes he can take me. These are the memories I will choose to make every.damn.day.
2. Do You Like Pina Colada’s?
I always have. I just never let myself drink them. The food rules I put on that poor drink that it didn’t deserve. It’s only wants to be a delicious, frozen concoction that whisks you a way to a tropical isle in the sun with one sip. So, I told my husband enough is enough, and to please go order me that damn pina colada because I really was craving one. And let me tell you, I knew I had Next Level arrived. I did not regret one sip of that coconuty, pineapple dream. Will I have multiple in a day? Mmm probably not…one was totally enough to satisfy my craving, but I won’t think twice if my taste buds are telling the bartender to order me anotha the next time we are at the lake and I’m feelin’ it.
3. It’s Time to Shine.
As I sat thinking about the retreat specifically, I realized that I’ve been using my past and my story as an excuse. All these things made me who I am, but I was still living as if they defined me. They don’t define me. They made me. End of story. I made it through depression, cancer, a mother’s death, next level betrayal, disordered eating, self-hate, a troubled marriage and so much more. We all have a past and some how, some way we push through it and surprise ourself with what we actually were able to accomplish during that time. There are still things I realized I need to work through, mainly the impact my mom’s death has on my life to this day, but it’s time for me to fully step in to my purpose and shine. I’m made for more than my past. I want more for my future and that is to help mom’s to get momfident AF and step into their legacy.
The crazy thing is sometimes we sit in fear for so long it becomes debilitating.
Fear of what success might actually look like to the level I dream of.
Fear of the things that might change along the journey.
Fear of the hardships and failures that will come (because nothing is a straight climb to the top).
Fear of being in the spotlight and what might come with that.
In fact, fear can actually become a comfortable place to live. It’s easier to keep going back to the place that has become so comfortable and do the things that keep us just barely afloat. Growth is the hard AF part.
So, I’m saying F’ playing small. My theme for the year has been “Step Into My Spotlight”. I want that for all of us moms. We do that and we change the world.
Let’s get it!
If you are ready to say “hell yeah” to being Momfident AF, schedule some time with me to chat and find out more about the Next Level Momfidence Society.