I'm Kirsten Staveland and I'm a machine.

being a machine is a way of living that affirms to me, and the people around me, that I love myself.

The mantra "The Machine is You" started 10 years ago, back before diastasis recti slowed my roll and I used to run, you know, like for exercise and fun. I'd run The Loop at lunch, an easy 2.7-mile route over the Willamette River and back in downtown Portland. To keep a fast pace, I would chant, "My body is a machine. My body is a machine." I meant that my body is strong. I meant that my body takes direction from nobody but me.

The Machine is You took on a whole different meaning two years ago, when I accepted the truth that in order to be happy and healthy, my son and I needed to separate from his father. What ensued was not only unexpected, it was the most challenging 2 years of my life. To get through that time, I put my head down and did what needed to be done. I was a machine.

In forging a new path for my son and me, I learned how to love myself. What is interesting to me, and why I started this website, is that it wasn't the self-help books on "How to Love Yourself," that did it. And believe me, I tried all of them. It was a whole bunch of small changes. Small changes that anybody can make.

It started with a commitment to stop complaining and practice gratitude. That on its own was life-changing, but it also grew into a commitment to take better care of my own body and my apartment. I saw to injuries, upgraded my wardrobe, began cleaning more frequently and paying more attention to decorating. I bought a budgeting software and began a nightly practice of reconciling my bank accounts.

These "step-it-up" actions grew my confidence in myself as a woman and as a mom. As my confidence grew, I was able to tackle the really big stuff–like finding my voice, expressing my feelings, asking for what I need, and establishing boundaries. And then one day in April my therapist advised me to stop feeling bad about being shy. She said, "You're worth the time it takes to get to know you." I knew I had finally learned to love myself when the first response out of my mouth was, "You're right."

Now I see people around me–people I'm close to, people I read about–and know whether or not they love themselves by the decisions they make. Do you know what I've noticed? Most people don't love themselves. In fact, I know only one person who does–my therapist.

My life is different now. Let me rephrase that. A lot about my life is still challenging, but the way it feels to me as I live it is different. I am a better human being now that I love myself. I feel that this is something that is teachable, and that will spread from person to person as those of us who love ourselves model our lives in front of those who don't. This is my effort to start the momentum.

Kïrsten Staveland

May 2, 2017


What does it mean to be a machine?


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