As you may know, I’ve been sharing many stories about stepping out of my comfort zone and expanding my boundaries.

Last year I submitted one of my stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul and now I’m a contributing author for their brand. My story, “Beauty At Every Size” was published in their book, “Curvy & Confident: 101 Stories About Loving Yourself and Your Body.”

In my work as a Virtual Assistant, I help business owners by blogging, editing and handling their social media. I learned how to use WordPress and moved my blog over to the platform. I’ve taught myself graphic and web design and done many things with my computer and technology that I never thought possible.

The confidence I gained by learning to design graphics, made it fun and easy for me to take on hobbies like painting, drawing, and sketching.  I cried tears of joy when I discovered that painting satisfies my soul as much as writing.

I’ve completely and totally fallen in love with being an artist. I crave the satisfaction that comes with creating beauty. Because I am more confident and expressive, verbally and artistically, My life has exploded with possibilities.

On a recent trip to visit my mother in Florida, I demanded respect from a man who tried to make an insensitive remark and bully me about my weight. I’m proud to say that by expressing myself with strength and firmness, I put him in his place, right quick and we’re now friends. I make no bones about being a big woman and am proud of my body, confident enough in myself to wear shorts, sleeveless tops and bathing suits. None of this would have ever been possible if I would have stayed small and scared and listened to my inner critic putting me down, saying things like:

“You’re too stupid.”

“You’re too fat.”

“You can’t talk to people”

“You can’t write.”

“You’re no artist.”

“You can’t do it.”

“Who do you think you are?”

A lot of Hooey!

I’ve mentioned many times before that I used to have no confidence in myself, whatsoever. There was a time when I was so shy, I would never have thought of raising my hand in a class setting or speaking up. I would count my words, saying them in my head, before I ventured to open my mouth.

If someone said something to hurt my feelings, I would usually just cry out of sheer frustration, and never confront them or speak up to defend myself. My lack of confidence made me feel like I had to please everybody and bend over backwards to compromise myself. My inability to stand up for myself cost me my  home, years of poverty, pain and depression. That was then, and this is now.

I understand the cost of having a negative inner critic that puts you down and makes you feel like you can’t do anything right.