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Mandy Raff

  • Healer

  • Intuitive

  • Teacher

  • Designer

  • Innovator

  • Facilitator

 

  • Counsellor

  • Messenger

  • Ideas Queen

Finding Beautiful is a project that has arisen from my own experiences as a woman in the modern western world and from observing the experiences of other women. I find it frustrating that we continue to be judged by others and ourselves based on our appearance first and foremost and not on our accomplishments or contribution to society. It so diminishes the incredible worth of women and I think it’s well and truly time to move on from that.

You might then wonder why I've chosen to focus on and use the word ‘beautiful’. I believe this word has been hijacked for profit for far too long. I’d like women form a completely different feeling about the word ‘beautiful’. I want them to grab it with both hands and embrace it, hug it, hold it tight, feel it drift into their soul and never let it go. Because that’s where it belongs – as the way women feel about themselves always. If we as women can truly love and accept ourselves as we are, at the deepest level, the possibilities are endless. I believe it’s the key to making positive transformations in our own lives and the lives of others.

So how did I 'find beautiful'? Let me start with how or why I lost it. As with many other women, there were probably lots of contributing factors. My own insecurities and self doubt. Societal pressures and skewed ideas about what women should look like and strive for. My family's expectations, real or perceived. Relationship breakdowns and rejection. A body that didn't seem to fit the norm. (I was always tall for my age.) I could go on, but the point is, I never felt beautiful. And I struggled to find a path in life that felt beautiful and right for me as I continued to seek approval from others and the world at large.

Over the years I developed a total lack of body love - love of my own body. I envied women who felt comfortable in their own skin, as I had never felt that way. I don’t remember ever feeling great about the way I looked. There were times when I felt more confident, but it never lasted. This feeling stuck with me all my life. Entwined with this body loathing were my emotional eating habits (which came first, the chicken or the egg?), fluctuating weight and yo-yo dieting. I didn’t have a great relationship with food. I ate lots of healthy food, but also ate lots of unhealthy food. That’s balanced, right? 

 

In my early thirties, after a disastrous relationship breakup, I had what I refer to as my ‘quarter-life crisis’, but was probably more of a breakdown of sorts. The good thing that came out of that, and there’s always some good, was that I searched for new answers and did lots of reading. I made my first connection with spirituality and crystal healing at that time. I also learnt about the power of positive language, which changed the way I looked at the world. I shook up my life, quit my secure job and started my own business. It was a bold move, considering I had always been a procrastinator. Now I was a “make it happen” person. Yay!

However, despite learning about the importance of self-love in all the reading I did at that time and understanding how vital this was, I still didn’t have it.  I still couldn’t create it or feel it. I told myself I did, but I really didn’t. I still didn’t feel worthy of it. I really struggled to look in the mirror and say something nice about myself. My self-talk continued to include words like ‘hopeless’ and ‘stupid’.

Four years ago I hit another life crisis of sorts and knew I needed to make some serious changes. My weight was creeping up and up, I was stuck in a holding pattern work-wise after closing my retail business, and I was desperate to reconnect with nature. Actually, I was really unhappy, but didn’t fully understand how unhappy until I started making changes. All of this coincided with feeling the effects of hormonal changes from hitting menopause.

The first thing that I worked on was my weight. Not that I really had an ordered list of things – it just happened this way. I managed to break my emotional eating habits and then made changes to what I was eating. Amongst other things, I stopped eating refined sugar and wheat. I had no idea how much this would impact my general well-being, including my emotional and hormonal health. It was totally life-changing.

In the midst of doing this I also decided on a ‘sea-change’ and moved from the city to a small coastal community. The relocation has had a profound impact on me - for the better. It hasn’t all been plain sailing since I moved. In fact, far from it. I unexpectedly had to have major surgery within months of my move and this took a toll not only physically, but also emotionally. So there’s been a lot of self-healing in the past few years - sometimes things I didn’t even know needed healing. The connection I have to nature here has certainly helped with that. It was something my soul had been craving and it gives me incredible creative inspiration. I love the beach and swimming in the ocean is so healing. I’m not a sporty person, but I exercise more now than I ever have in my life as I love to go for beach walks, swim and do yoga. All of this has brought a lot of ‘happy’.

So what else has changed for me? Well, on the day I’m writing this I went for a morning beach walk and swim with a friend. I wore a bikini. I didn’t cover up. This would never have happened four years ago. I’m now 53 years old and finally, finally comfortable in my own skin. I’m not going to moan about the wasted years. I’m just so thankful to feel this way now. Sure I feel better about the way I look because I’m at my natural weight. And maybe maturity accounts for some of the loss of self-consciousness. But it’s more than that. I’ve totally accepted myself for who I am – body, mind and soul. I feel totally worthy of living a fabulous life, and I do.

Now it’s my passion to help other women get to this place. I’ve learnt the lessons and I want to help you learn them too. I want to help all women celebrate their beauty and not be defined by a shallow interpretation of the word. If something I say or write resonates with you (or someone you know) and helps someone find the beautiful life they deserve, then I have done what I set out to do.

So let’s get to it, beautiful!                                                                                                                  

   Mandy