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Radical Self-Love?

“To love purely and fiercely, without agenda, is the most terrifying and rewarding thing you’ll ever do.”—Gala Darling, from her Radical Self-Love Manifesto

It is no secret that I am a great admirer and supporter of a fellow blogger and friend called Gala Darling, and as time goes on, this woman’s awesomeness becomes less and less of a secret. She’s won numerous awards over the past few years for her innovative approach to “style blogging”, has been featured in a number of photo shoots and magazine spreads due to her quirky, iconic look, and in a relatively small period of time, has really taken off.

Of course, whenever you achieve success in life, there’s always the down side, which is coping with those out to break you. By the time you’re successful enough at whatever you to that you’re calling attention to yourself, you’d better be really comfortable with who you are. Viciousness and haters aren’t just for celebrities anymore; sadly, Gala has quickly seen every bit of her past life—true, untrue, and things that simply deserve some level of privacy and to which “no comment” should suffice—smeared all over the internet, and although she’s developed a loving, loyal, and creative fan base, the viciousness that’s surfaced along with it all reminds me of all I dislike about the world.

Anyhow, one of the interesting changes I’ve seen in Gala and her blog is the transformation from “international playgirl” to alternative Carrie Bradshaw to a strong and fearless woman who uses her space to speak up for women, and to help women reclaim the love that most of us—OK, virtually all of us— don’t get from the world. And, because we’re not getting it from ourselves at the same time we’re not being adored and validated by the world, female self-esteem isn’t exactly in great shape. Toss in the media and many billion-dollar industries that live and die by Photoshop and build empires on female insecurities, and it’s actually a rather difficult time to be a woman who accepts and loves herself, especially in America. (and, contrary to what you might think, the rich, famous, and beautiful are far from immune.)

Gala and I share a number of things in common when it comes to our stories, our life journeys (I only *wished* I’d been able to wear a spiked dog collar to school), some of the adventures and choices we’ve made…and simultaneously, seem to have arrived at the same place, where learning to deal with the past and healing from the past is essential to figuring out the future. (We’re also both ENFPs and share the same Enneagram number, so perhaps certain personalities are indeed predisposed to chaotic life stories.) I think she’s a strong woman who has found her independence and sense of self-worth, and has chosen to use her lifetime of chaotic choices to help others. I give her a ton of respect for where she’s been, and where she’s headed.

One thing we do not share is a devotion to “looking on the bright side”; I firmly believe that a repression or judgment of the negative or the pain in one’s life is as harmful as dwelling in it. Because of this, I reject self-help “bibles” such as “The Secret” and “The Law Of Attraction”, which have the potential to encourage a “blame the victim mentality”. ( I once ended a friendship quite abruptly by asking a friend intent on helping me change my life using these books if all the bad, horrible, unfair, painful things that happened to people in the world occurred because people just weren’t trying hard enough to be cheerful?) Religion doesn’t claim to have an answer for “why bad things happen to good people”, but the self-help books that purport that they happen because your thought processes were negative or you sent out vibes inviting the trauma…well, that’s where I draw the line. Not all self-help books are like this, I know, but for my own better mental health, I stay far, far away.

However, I think Gala is doing wonderful things with her Radical Self-Love Manifesto and subsequent boot camp, and women of all ages are being affected positively…and encouraged to be creative (many of the lessons seem to be exercises of which Julia Cameron would approve, without all the spiritual references.)

This video is of Gala giving a speech about Radical Self-Love at Carnegie Mellon. I have to admit to being a little amused…this is the most conservative-looking I’ve seen her, but she’s grown into a talented and immensely likeable public speaker. If you need a little pick-me-up, check out the video.

It’s a reminder to me that my Universe is populated by some really awesome people!

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