I have a 3 ½ inch scar on my chest. For a long time that scar made me cry every time I saw it. It was a constant reminder to me that the happy, free-spirited, sparkly version of me was gone for good. I’d been replaced by a fragile, unhappy, scared (and scarred!) version of me – and I hated it.
So, before you see another ‘Sparkle-Up Thursday’ post on Instagram or a ‘Here’s how to be more sparkly’ blog post and dismiss me as someone who doesn’t know what you’ve been, or are going through, let me tell you about the scars (or at least one of them) behind my sparkle. Not so you think I’m amazing, but so you can know that having scars from the tough stuff in life doesn’t need to rob you of your sparkle forever.
I’m not going to draw out my own story, but, here’s what happened: I went from being a carefree, happy, 29 year-old with oodles of sparkle, to, out of the blue at the age of 30, being diagnosed with a fast-growing tumour in my breast and needing two operations to remove it.
After my operations I was utterly devastated that I’d never be the same again – physically or emotionally. I felt that my body had betrayed me and every day I felt scared that another tumour would grow back and this time it may not be caught. I hated looking at myself and as well as the physical scar – my eyes were dull, my clothes were baggy and I no longer sparkled – or indeed wanted to.
For over 18 months I felt truly empty inside and although on the outside I was functioning “normally” and people would say: “Ooo, it’s great to see you back to your old self!” – I knew my “old”, sparkly self was gone. It took so much energy and effort for me not to cry several times a day and pretend I was ok – whereas before, being happy came effortlessly to me. BUT, after what felt like a lifetime ( it was nearly two years) of tears and sadness and “trying” to be happy, something happened. Slowly but surely I started to see a tiny bit of sparkle come back. It actually shocked me as I didn’t realise my “old” sparkly self was still in there. It was like when you’ve worn glitter and think you’ve taken it all off and then days later, in the right light, you catch a glimpse of the glitter still on your face.
And day by day, as the physical and emotional wounds started heal, I saw tiny bits of my old sparkly-self returning. It may have been a day where I genuinely belly-laughed at something on the TV or when I hung out with a friend who made me feel like the real me (not the person people felt a bit sorry for). I could feel my strength and sparkle growing. I had to nurture my sparkle like a flame that needed gently fanning. I had to be around people who were positive. I had to start learning about why I’d developed a tumour so I didn’t have to be terrified of another one. I had to do things that I loved to do (like roller skating and dancing!!!) and let myself have fun again. I had to dress up, wear bright make-up, try new hairstyles again, like the old me would have! I had to want to sparkle again – and I finally was!!!
Let me tell you, I blooming love my scar now! I’m serious! Yes, it took time, but it no longer says sadness to me, it says “survivor with sparkle” and I cherish it. My sparkle and scars live side by side. I don’t sparkle because my life is or has been carefree – I sparkle because I survived! I don’t sparkle because I have a little bit of light and glitter in me – I sparkle because there’s a fire that burns within me that says “I’m not done with this life yet – yes, there’s been pain, but there’s more goodness and love to come!” I don’t sparkle because there’s no crap in my life – I choose to sparkle despite of it! I’ve been through what many of you have been through – the deaths of loved ones; disease; debt; men breaking up with me; friends breaking up with me; business associates cheating me; I have down days and dowdy days – BUT I STILL BELIEVE IT’S MY GOD-GIVEN RIGHT TO SPARKLE!!!
I adore my job as a women’s nutritionist and life coach. I work with the most incredible women. Some are battling serious illnesses and depression; some are in deep turmoil when everyone around them thinks their life is perfect; some have crippling hormonal issues; some are longing to find a partner; some want more energy and to feel like a good mum and some just want to lose a few pounds. Many of these women’s stories would make your jaw drop if you knew what they’d been or are going through. But they’re still fighting for their sparkle!
I don’t just want to help women find their feet again emotionally and physically – I want them to use those feet to dance again, laugh again, run towards their dreams, and embrace their sparkle (their true self!) again. I don’t promote sparkle because it’s fun to tell women to wear sequins (although I do love a sequin!) – I want us women to support, lift up and champion one another. I want us to see another woman who is down and offer her a hand, a hug or the chance to feel like her true self – even for just a second.
Here are the 5 tips that helped me get my sparkle back:
Did you know that your gut is directly linked to your brain (via the Vagus Nerve for those of you science chicks!). That means, what we eat DIRECTLY affects how we feel! Feeling crappy? Start by looking on your plate! Nutrition is SO powerful in helping and healing our bodies, minds and spirits and should never be overlooked in the quest to sparkle more. It was by studying nutrition (first in my free time and then formally) that meant I no longer needed to be scared of disease or illness – I knew, with the right care, my body was on my side and wanted me to be happy, healthy and was capable of healing.
This one is sort of linked with number 1 BUT our female hormones are SO incredible and have the ability to help and heal us OR harm us (my tumour had been caused by severe hormonal imbalances that my body had been flagging up for years – PMS, PCOS and adult acne – all of which I ignored/overly medicated – and none of which I have now btw due to my new way of eating and living). Once you learn about how your female hormones work – you will be able to work with them (not against them) to create a happier, healthier, more energised, sexier you!
Surrounding myself with people that made me feel like the BEST version of myself was crucial to my sparkle coming back to “full beam”. I needed to stay away from selfish, negative and critical people who brought me down (I was doing a good enough job of that myself). Find people who make you feel amazing and you love being around.
4)Talking and being honest
It’s so important that we don’t push down our emotions – they have to come out! If you push something down ie depress it – what do you think it leads to? Depression! Pushed down hurt, pain or even just mild frustration puts stress and strain on your mind and body. Once you get all of that stuff out, then there is more room for you to put the good thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams back in. If you have great friends or family to talk to – fab. If your issues run deeper and are from past situations I would suggest finding a good counsellor/therapist. If you feel stuck in a rut and want to move forward, then life-coaching is amazing for helping you be/reach where you want to get to in life.
I use roller skating as an example but it basically stands for doing the stuff in my life that I used to do when I was at my happiest. I loved roller skating and I loved dancing. Whilst I don’t go clubbing or dance like I used to – I will put my fave tune on YouTube and dance for 5 mins around my kitchen – I’m telling you, instant sparkle-booster! What are the things you used to do that made you REALLY happy and you don’t do anymore? Dancing, going out with your friends, being silly, being arty, roller skating??? It doesn’t matter your age – you need to do the things that make you sparkle!
So let me tell you, YOU ARE a woman with sparkle! Your sparkle is the very essence of YOU. Your sparkle is the feminine ball of excitement, energy, hopes, dreams, passions, sexiness and silliness that’s not meant to decline with age or be obliterated by childbirth, tragedy or trying times. We were born with sparkle and we will die with it – yes it can get lost and covered up along the way, but, with the right help and love, we can always find our way back to it. So lovely ladies, let your scars and sparkle live side by side and this week do one thing to boost your sparkle. Get involved with ‘Sparkle-Up Thursday’ and keep shining like the stars that you are!