2018

Are you a hypocrite? Or just a human?

contradictionI think I just might be the most anti-social extrovert there ever was.

As much as I love to be around people, and am totally energized in groups, at events and parties and whatnot, I never feel “open” to talking to strangers in coffee shops, on airplanes, in the sauna at the gym. I’d rather just be left alone. Sometimes, and this is embarrassing to admit, I even wear my ear buds, even if I’m not listening to anything, just to send a clear leave-me-alone-please message to any friendly stranger that might dare talk to me.

And if I should make conversation with a stranger in line at the grocery store, or even the cashier, I sometimes actually shake with adrenalin or nervousness and while I am energized by it, I leave slightly trembling, maybe even sweat dripping down my armpits!

I see strangers making friends in public places and a pang of envy washes through me, for their easy, carefree connection and comfort with chatting it up with total strangers. Yet, some of my very best friends were strangers I was brave enough to talk to. And I create events for a living.

This is one of my many contradictions. I’m full of them.

And so are you.

And that’s what makes us complex, interesting and layered. That’s what creates our divine totality.

“Do I contradict myself?” Walt Whitman said. “Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.”

Yeah, that’s me. That’s us.

Here’s what I notice: For some reason we’ve adopted this belief that we should be one or another of everything, that there is no room for being both or all things, yet we are designed to hold within us the full capacity of everything that is available.

Why must we be so “either/or” about every damned thing? We equate being complex and containing contradictions with being a hypocrite, because we have black and whited our world, our lives and our potential.

I’ve spent hours and hours, year after year, with clients, with friends, in relationships, in my own heart, on that tenuous tightrope of “either/or” thinking…

“Am I selfish or giving… logical or emotional… good or bad… right or wrong… gay or straight… honest or dishonest… bold or shy… scared or fearless… spiritual or sinful… left brain or right brain… doubtful or trusting… a little bit country or a little bit rock and roll… “slutty” or prudish… healed or wounded… tough or vulnerable… satisfied or yearning?”

I’m not quite sure how or when we as people started thinking we could only be one half of two opposites. When did we cut ourselves in half and why do we feel the need to limit the fullness of our existence?

It’s really kind of weird when you think about it. But that’s what we learned, that’s what we thought. That’s what we often believe.

Do you remember Highlights for Children magazine? There was a regular cartoon in there called Goofus and Gallant, about two brothers– one who did everything right, all the time, while the other brother (guess which one…) was consistently messy, selfish, rude, he didn’t put his toys away. He didn’t say thank you. He never said “please.”He threw rocks at birds.

This little cartoon, in spite of its good intentions to teach kids manners, is just one way I was imprinted, the imprint growing roots in my belief system that there is no room for extremes or contradictions within one person. As a small child just learning how to be what the world wanted me to be, I knew it was “wrong” to feel a little bit Goofus and a lit bit Gallant.

Can you trace back to a message or experience that taught you that you could only be one or the other of something?

And now… Can you entertain the exciting notion that you are everything?

I highly recommend it. For when you do, when you can, there is no more war. The battle is over. The forces retreat.

When you allow yourself to be the wide, vast and magical container for everything that you truly are, the game changes. The world, and your place in it, shifts.

You are made of curves and edges. Countless textures. A thousand flavors. Embrace them all.

You are designed to be spacious enough for every feeling, every possibility.

Your divine totality is vast and limitless and there is absolutely no reason that you cannot be a contradiction, or even a thousand contradictions, whenever you want to be.

Do tell! What is one of your contradictions that you are ready and willing to embrace?

Share in the comments below.

 

 

****************************

I’m working on other things right now so I thought many of you may like to read or re-read this blog, originally published in May, 2014.

Are you a “Ho-ho-ho”, a “Ho-hum”, or a “Bah-Humbug”?

humbug__by_xhee_heex-d6wa0dgThere are three types of us, it seems, when the holiday season rolls around… which are you?
The Ho Ho Ho – Overflowing with holiday cheer, the Ho Ho Ho loves to decorate, shop, wrap, and really revels in the joys and sensory pleasures of the holiday spirit. Finding rich meaning in the season, their love for family, giving, togetherness, peace and joy are amplified.
The Ho-Hum – Neither a lover nor a hater, the Ho-Hum is mildly annoyed by the pressures and obligations wrapped with a bow during the holiday season. They will go through the motions, and even enjoy certain parts of the season, like holiday cocktail parties and Secret Santa games, but for the most part, they could take it or leave it, and often harbor a secret guilt that they “should” be doing more, feeling more, giving more, baking more, and being jollier in general.
The Humbug –  The Humbug can’t stand the holiday season, the contrived peace and love, the forced togetherness, the pressure to spend, the commercialization, the obligation to be with people they secretly hardly like, and oftentimes have painful associations with the holidays, so in the midst of all the contrived joy, they are harboring deep pain, loss, grief, loneliness. The holidays are something they must get through, resisting and even resenting the whole shebang.
I’m definitely a borderline Ho-Hum/Humbug. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of personal inquiry around this, to explore the reasons. I’ve identified a few, and better understand my resistance. I’ve given up trying to change myself into a Ho-Ho-Ho, in preference of allowing myself to be who I am. I’ve also done some shifting and healing organically, by practicing openness, presence and intention.
There are certain holiday rituals I admit to enjoying… parties, of course. Ugly sweater ones and fancy red dress ones. And  I’m not gonna lie: I love opening presents. Here’s a holiday hypocrisy: I love getting Christmas cards in the mail. I hate the chore of sending them.
A few years back, I asked the Humbugs in my Facebook community what their reasons for being “humbug” were. I got dozens of interesting responses, but they all seemed to fall into one of two categories:
  • Pressure: The pressure from media, family, the world at large to “feel” jolly, to buy, to bake, to wrap, to send cards, to feign happiness in family situations that are less than healthy or happy. So much pressure to be, feel and do what is out of line with our personal truth.  When we feel, do or are what is out of line with our personal truth, we are out of integrity. NO WONDER Humbugs don’t like the holidays! NO WONDER Ho-Hums feel uneasy about them.
  • Pain: The saccharin-sweetness messages of peace, love and joy doesn’t fit with their personal experience when there is loss, grief, death, loneliness and other painful experiences and feelings linked to the holidays
So what should we do, those of us who find it difficult to be folded into the fluffy cream of the holiday season? Go through the motions, out of integrity, getting through til January? Ditch the whole thing, disappearing from society until it’s over? Tell our families we won’t be participating this year? (Oh, THAT’LL go over well…) Buy, when we don’t feel like buying? Smile, when we don’t feel like smiling?
Here’s what I suggest we all do, whether a Ho Ho Ho, a Ho-Hum or a Humbug…
  1. Feel your feelings as they arise. When you are feeling funky, say for example, shopping, stay in touch with yourself and your experience. When you’re feeling overjoyed with holiday spirit, notice it, bask in it. If the holidays are a time of pain for you, give yourself a designated, sacred time to feel your pain, to tend to your tender heart, to be a loving friend to yourself.
  2. Stop shoulding on yourself. Shaming yourself, feeling guilty for what you don’t feel or don’t want to do, adds an extra layer of crappiness onto the crappiness you’re already feeling. Ie, “everyone’s so happy at Thanksgiving. I should be happier than this.” We spend too much energy thinking we’re ‘supposed’ to be feeling something different than we are. Stop it!
  3. Practice presence in everything you do, holiday-related. If you “must” participate in a holiday activity that feels inauthentic to you, how can you become present to that activity? How can you open up to what might be there for you in your resistance? Can you start a holiday tradition that feels more authentic and meaningful to you, privately, or with others?
  4. Focus on the activities that bring you joy and give yourself permission to scrap the others. A few years ago, I decided not to do cards. I had to come to terms with the fact that this would mean I’d receive less cards, and I had to be okay with that. It was a fair trade-off.  On the other hand, I am one who is easily excited by pretty, sparkly things, so I love ooh-ing and ahh-ing at impressive holiday lights. I will keep doing that.
  5. Allow others to feel what they feel without the impulse to judge or change them.  No need to jump down mom’s throat about the commercialism of Christmas, if she’s really into giving gifts. Perhaps you can let go of the urge to teach the family what really went down, during colonization, while passing the the sweet potatoes. Let them have their experience, while you own yours. 
And Ho-Hums and Humbugs, take solace in the fact that it will all be over soon. But here’s the thing: when it’s over, we’ll be that much closer to the end of our ride, to the day of our death. So why not be as present as we can, no matter what we’re feeling, and savor as much as we can- out of every day, and the enjoy the extra sweetness that the holiday season offers? After all, there are more cookies!
Feel your experience, give yourself and others permission to be exactly where they are and savor every moment, as much as you can. It will all be over too soon, I’m afraid… all of it.  Now pass me a gingerbread cookie, please.

Four Out of Four

 

2df82f6

When I was in my early twenties, taking public transit everywhere, on the south side of Chicago, I was harassed by men, every single day. Regularly cat-called, propositioned, sometimes they flashed their dicks or masturbated at red lights while I stood at the bus stop. Sometimes they followed me, circling the block several times, trying to lure me to take rides from them. Sometimes I was very scared. Mostly, I was furious.

I wanted to fight back. I was tired of feeling like a victim, like I just had to take this. I began a ‘strategy’ of pulling out a notebook and writing down license plates. I wanted to scare them into thinking they might get in trouble. It helped me feel empowered. Sometimes it did scare them off, sometimes it didn’t. 

I was a pre-school teacher, I worked for a woman in her mid-forties, the owner of the school, Lori. I’d come in to work some days shaken and scared, or furious and raging. She told me I should dress differently. She told me “someday you’ll miss that, trust me.”

I’m in my mid-forties now. I get harassed less on the street now. I’m rarely scared for my safety. I haven’t seen a stranger’s dick waving at me at a red light in many years. And no, Lori, I don’t miss all that, not one bit.

I’m thinking about this today, because there’s a national conversation going on, about sexual harassment. Another rich, powerful man has come into public light as a sexual predator. Women everywhere are talking. Sharing our personal stories.

“One in four” is a statistic we commonly hear. It applies specifically to rape and physical sexual assault. One in four is too many, and further research shows that’s probably not even an accurate number, that it’s likely even higher. But if violence against women is a spectrum, with rape and murder at the far end of the spectrum, every one of us, as women, has endured, survived, or not survived, some sort of abuse, from men, in our lifetimes. This is part of the female experience in America. Like getting our periods, or experiencing puberty, or menopause. This is not one in four. How “generously” short-sighted to create the implication that three out of four of us are left unscathed by sexual violence from men.

We must begin to understand that sexual abuse or violence is not limited to rape or physical assault. We are coming to realize that it’s so pervasive, it’s universal. This is the free bonus that comes with being born a female.

If rape and murder are at one far end of the spectrum, the ultimate, most devastating violations, what’s at the other end? Mansplaining, says Kelly Diels, Feminist Marketing Consultant. I think I agree. A little further along is cat-calling. Comments, gropey hugs, seething noises, indecent exposures, unwanted advances, following, inappropriate propositions, abuse of power for sexual gratification… there are countless ways to be sexually abused. How many marks could we plot, on our personal spectrums, if we were to tally our individual experiences? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands?

I’m thinking a lot about my boss Lori today. Maybe because I’m about the age she was when she said those things to me. What had Lori internalized, in her lifetime, about being a woman, about her worth as a female, about aging, attention, desirability? What beliefs did she have, deeply rooted in her, that made her think that these attentions were somehow enviable (when she wasn’t telling me I was asking for it)? One thing I’m pretty certain of – she did not invent them.

She was about twice my age, born of a different generation, called herself a feminist. Yet… did she really miss being harassed? What kind of twisted bedfellows had she made of validation and abuse? How different we are. Yet, our similarities are less savory to consider.

I think about what I was wearing back then… some days a thick, heavy coat, during the bitter cold of winter. I was bundled up for below-zero temps one of the times a guy was masturbating “for me” at the red light, while I stood, nauseated, at my bus stop, pretending not to notice, praying for the light to change. But some days, in the summertime, I wore short shorts and tight tank tops. It was hot out. And on those days, I was harassed more frequently, no doubt. So what message was I sending, by wearing the clothing I chose to wore, and showing the skin I chose to reveal? Was I asking for it? Of course not. I know this, on one level, the wise part of me knows this. But the world we live in has taught me otherwise. I must be vigilant in identifying these messages, these lies. I must pluck them out of my belief system, one by one. They are bacteria. They keep my system infected.

What a multi-layered, tangled mess of messages and lessons, myths and lies we’ve been fed, so muddled and mucky it may take us generations to unravel them.

And if I am truly honest with myself, sometimes, when I am out with friends, for example, feeling beautiful, I want to be noticed. I want to be wanted. As a “woman of a certain age,” I find myself occasionally missing the response I would get from men, in public, when I was in my twenties and thirties. Not the harassment, of course, but the noticing. I refuse to feel shame for this. And for Lori, maybe harassment was just a seedier form of being noticed. And maybe any noticing at all, to her, was more appealing than feeling invisible. Like Lori, there is a shadowy part of me that connects desirability with my value as a woman, I know this is a lie, but it’s deep in there, because in our culture, the greatest perceived threat to a woman’s value is aging. 

I remember, in my early 30s, being at a gas station with a girlfriend, Jennie, getting gas and cigarettes on a Saturday night, on our way to the club. A couple of men made seething noises and called to us in Spanish, and she went off. She screamed and raged and called them names and maybe even banged her fist on the hood of their car, and told them to fuck themselves, screamed at them, asking if they had daughters, if they had wives. Called them fucking perverts.

I was shocked, I had never seen a response like this. A far cry from my little notebook and license plate strategy. I was partly in awe. And I was partly embarrassed. She’d caused a scene. Her rage made me uncomfortable. And I was still very committed to being inoffensive, nice and demure. Ladylike and tolerant. I had stopped using the notebook many years before. My strategy had become to ignore, pretend they didn’t exist, pump my gas and look the other way.

I’m still harassed at times. My reaction now is more likely to meet him eye to eye and say loudly enough for others to hear: “NO. NOT OKAY!” while I point a rigid finger toward his face… if I’m feeling brave. Yet sometimes, I say nothing, and pretend to not have seen or heard. How to respond, if to respond, how to stay safe, to take back our power, to not risk further interaction, this is an ongoing, play-by-play consideration in our inner worlds, as women.

Each of us, as women, have our own stories of experiencing inappropriate and offensive behavior from men. I don’t think any of us have been exempt from sexual harassment of one kind or another. Four out of four.

When does it end? How does it end? I don’t have the answers to those questions. But I know one thing. The more we talk about it, the more light we shed on these shadowy realities, the more we call out and demand accountability of men, demand to be treated with respect, refuse to tolerate these behaviors any longer, the more we say “NO. NOT OKAY!” the safer we become. The mightier we become.

We’ve played nice-girl long enough. We’ve been ladylike long enough. It’s time we said  “NO. NOT OKAY!”

And when the situation calls for it, like my friend Jennie, we need to make people uncomfortable with our rage. 

We need more men to join us, to say “NO. NOT OKAY!” along with us. I see it happening, and it gives me hope.

I have hope, for our daughters, and our granddaughters.

Maybe someday sexual harassment and abuse will not be a universal part of the female experience. Or am I only dreaming? I know this much. Being a woman does not equate being subject to harassment as part of life. We must stop normalizing this. We must say NO, NOT OKAY. And mean it.

 

My Summer of Reinvention & Transformation

e41fbdc61b32aa575af22f524af8bebe

Hey there, friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. And what huge changes my life has been experiencing this summer. You may have noticed and heard some things, I’ve shared some with you already.

I’ve been in reinvention mode this summer, allowing life to unfold, practicing surrender, learning new skills, “retiring” my relentless drive to hustle…  and changing, big time, in the process.

Here’s what’s different about me. As I’ve shared recently, I have made some big decisions to pull back from producing events and group programs, including the Burlesque Experience. I am still life coaching privately, working with several clients, and open to more! Coaching is something I love with a passion and hope to continue well into my golden years. As I grow, heal, shift and change, I also become a better coach. I’ve never loved the work as much as I do now, and I’ve never been this good at it! And I will keep getting better and better, as I continue to study and add skills and experience to my “toolbox.”

I’ve also been working on a new “side-hustle”.. you are not gonna believe this. I just obtained my license to sell life insurance as a part of the Dynamic Insurance Services team. Yep! Can you believe it? ME? A Life Insurance Agent? (I prefer the title Senior Benefits Advocate!) The path has been arduous (including passing a state exam and studying like crazy for the first time in 30 years!) Weeks of training and lots of learning. Lots of “rookie” mistakes and discomfort… and while I still have much to learn, I’m up and running and really enjoying it. This work is fulfilling and rewarding, and the part-time work-from-home hours fit in so well with the lifestyle I desire and the dreams I have for the future. If you need life insurance, let’s talk! (Can you believe I just said that?)

I’m trying to find my writing groove. I have books in me, that want to be written, and I’m coming up against what every single person I coach (and know!) comes up against when they begin to nurture a creative dream: resistance. Yep, I am not exempt or immune. My resistance has a favorite disguise: not enough time. Ideally, I’d love big old blank expanses of time to write, whole days, preferred. What is actually realistic is making time from the small pockets of blank space, an hour here, an hour there. And schedule the occasional writing day or weekend or week. In the meantime, I need to stop making excuses and start writing!

The final semester of the Burlesque Experience has begun, and we are off to an exciting start. I love these women, their courage, their inner and outer beauty, their desire to tap into parts of themselves and commit to themselves in new ways. They inspire me in so many was.

The wrapping up of such an enveloping, exciting part of my life is bittersweet and emotional. I have waves of “what the hell am I doing, letting this go?” yet on another level, I know that the next step of my life, the next chapter of my story, the next level of impact that I long to have in the world requires I create space for it. And so creating space is what I’m doing.

I’ve given myself permission to step back from weekly blogs and emails. I will be blogging and sending my Quickies more sporadically now, I’m allowing myself some slack there. Let’s stay connected.

If you’ve considered working with me as your coach, let’s set up a complimentary Discovery Session so you could get a taste of what it’s like to be supported in this way.

And if not, that’s okay! Either way, I want to hear from you. Let me know what’s going on in your life! What changes have you been making? What resistance are you moving through? What is your life asking of you? While you might be seeing “less” of me, it’s an illusion. I’m still here. I’m more ME than I’ve ever been, and I’d love to keep the conversation going.

It’s still my deepest commitment to be of support, inspiration and encouragement to women, continuing my life’s calling of offering women access to their innate magnificence, power and radiance. Some things have changed, yes. But that never will.

 

 

Have you forgotten? You are a wild one.

DSC_0237-Edit
“Wild Women of the Woods” by Nikki Simpson

 

“Underneath it all, we are wild and we know it.”

– Reggie Ray, Buddhist scholar

From the time you were a little child they’ve been trying to tame you.

They told you how to sit, they told you how to behave. They told you what nice girls do and don’t and when you acted wild, they told you that you should be ashamed of yourself.

So you were.

They told you to sit still.

They told you to quiet down.

They told you to play nice and stop being bossy. They told you to not get dirty. To not be naughty.

You learned that if you were gonna get by in this world, your wild animal self would need to be trained in the ways of the world. You acclimated. You adapted. You shut her away.

You’ve spent your life trying to be good. They love you more when you’re good. But when good becomes false, your true self grieves. When playing by the rules becomes sacrificing your heart’s desires, death is slow and secret. You’re smiling on the outside and dying on the inside.

I declare a Reclamation Proclamation on your wild and fiery spirit. I dare you to untame yourself. Just a little bit. Or a lot.

What does that mean? I don’t know! It will be different for all of us.

For some of us the Reclamation will involve a complete purge of objects, relationships, old familiar ways, burning through the old, to grow new from the ash.

For some of us a Reclamation might be as simple as one single NO.

No I won’t be attending the event.

No I will not entertain this damaging thought.

No I will not feel guilty about taking care of myself.

No I will not work for a company that requires the women to wear panty hose every day.
For some of us, the Reclamation will be in the form of a YES.

YES this is what I want.

YES I will swim naked in the moonlight.

YES I will take a lover.

YES I will travel alone.

YES I will do the unthinkable.

Whatever your unthinkable might be.

You might stop shaving your legs, if that suits your fancy. You might go without panties for a week, to see how that changes the way you move and experience the world. You might quit your job. You might leave a marriage. You might start a marriage. You might parachute, para-sail, para-glide. You might release a relationship, renew a promise, set fire to the old. Give birth to the new in you.

Dance. Sing. Scream. Run. Stay. Do the wild thing.

There’s a new movement sweeping the country, thousands of women have stopped shaving their legs. They’re taking pictures, they’re sharing them online. It’s bold, it’s definitely a Reclamation Proclamation of the wild one!

Although I don’t think I’ll be going to such extremes, (only because I don’t feel pulled in that direction, it doesn’t titillate me) I do occasionally allow them to grow unruly because I just don’t feel like shaving and it’s sort of fun to marvel at their prickly stubbly layer of hair that will most certainly grow wild if I let it.

Your wild child is begging you to let her out. She needs to live. She needs to breathe. She needs your respect and adoration.

You do not have to be good.You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. “

– Mary Oliver

Did you get that?

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Your wild one is calling out. Untame your spirit. How might your world change? How does your wild spirit want to reveal herself?

Do something wild. I dare you. Love what you love. Burn what needs to burn. Set fire to your tameness. To your jaded holding back, keeping it down, guarding your heart (as if.)

It’s not working.

You were born to be wild.

 

 

 

*****************************

Originally published Summer, 2014. Taking a short break from writing, be back soon!

Those Undesirable Unmentionables: Hello, Shadow!

69278_10150881061583473_1913608398_n“I just want to lose my desire for love. I hate needing approval. I hate being needy. I’ve asked the Universe to remove these defects in me. This neediness in me is pathetic.”

A new client wrote this to me last week, and when I read it, I felt a stirring in my heart, a sadness, a sorrow for this woman, who feels that her desires are so undesirable, and burdensome. I have been this woman.

I wonder what hurts she must have experienced, to want these desires gone. I felt a heaviness thinking about her pain and frustration with herself and her innate desires, her own human nature.

It stirs me every time I come across someone I care about who is fighting who they are at the core.

It saddens me every time I come across someone who is desperately trying to reject their human qualities, in order to be more spiritual, closer to God, or in order to simply feel less.

Our desire for love, approval and appreciation makes us so very human, This desire is a primitive, innate, and powerful driver. To deny it exists, to reject this part of ourselves is to reject our humanity, our very essence as human beings.

From the moment we are born, we seek love. As small children, our identities are shaped by attachment and approval. It’s how we learn to be human, we are formed through connection, we need each other.

Last night, dancing with a group of women in my BodyLove Affair Rendezvous, we stopped dancing to debrief after a soulful shake-up.

We talked about the ways we are “supposed” to be, the parts of us that are easy to accept. And the parts of us that are… less easy. The not-so-pretty parts. The undesirable unmentionables.

We talked about the pressure to appear as we have it all together, at all times, when really, on the inside, we are screaming, we are wailing. We are pieces held together with tape and chewing gum, and one blast of wind might send us into smithereens, or so it seems.

Our shadow is described as the parts of us that we reject or hide, from the world or ourselves.

And guess what? What we resist persists.

I’ve been there. This self-rejecting path was the way I lived. Parts of me were easy to accept and love. Others, not so much.

Like my client, neediness is also one of my shadow traits. I spent the first three and a half decades of my life trying to “not be needy.”

I am fiercely independent, so being or seeming needy had always been loathsome and avoidable at all costs. And it cost me a great deal: True, deep intimacy and connection with others.

Because I am human, I have needs.

And sometimes, I am even needy. I accept this now.

I continue to do my shadow work, which is, I promise, a lifelong project. I am learning to embrace my neediness. The needy part of me is very young, and very precious, and deserves my love.

When she is triggered, I am learning to acknowledge her and love her. I do not reject her. I do not send her away. I see her. I allow her. I tend to her.

What I’m also learning is that as I continue my healing work and personal evolution, my need for outer validation, love, appreciation or approval does not drive me the way that it used to.

It’s there, as I mentioned, I’m human, and plan on being so for a while longer, so I don’t wish it away or reject it.

But what’s naturally happening is I am finding direct access to my own love. The love that I am. After all, why seek what you already are?

I’m tapping into a deeper source for these feelings, that of my own soul’s wellspring of love and worthiness. I do not rely on outer validation for my worth. But I still desire it. Who doesn’t!? It feels great!

This is evolution. This is a revolution.

What parts of you do you find difficult to love or accept?

And what if the most difficult parts of you to love were the most precious?

How might they transform if you simply embraced these shadowy parts, acknowledged them as part of your totality? Your wholeness?

You are all things.

You are light and shadow. And the more acceptance and acknowledgment, curiosity, compassion, love and allowance you offer to your shadow, the less shadowy it becomes.

You grow, you evolve, you heal. And you don’t need to reject, change or pray away any part of you.

The Opposite of Funny: Enough with the Body-Shaming “Jokes”

7c9187e61f2c00fd5c3778b79949e139I’m fed up this morning and I’ll tell you why.

I have cringed over many a meme that shames a woman for her fat that is exposed. A woman who is oversized by our culture’s standards has no business showing off her body, as we know. If she does, she shall be subject to our modern day hounds of hell in the form of cruel viral memes, vicious comments and ugly body-shaming messages. Perhaps even thousands of them. Hundreds of thousands.

It’s not just women who fall victim to public ridicule. Men are often the subject of these “humorous” pictures that circulate the internet and show up on my Facebook newsfeed. Pictures of women, men, with their butt cracks, or bellies exposed, most certainly unaware that photos are being taken of them and shared on the internet.

Imagine finding that a picture of you, that you didn’t even know was being taken, had gone viral and someone had made memes making fun of you and the social media world was making fun of your body or the way you dressed or the way you looked.

Can you imagine how painful that would be?

We seem to forget one important fact.

These are PEOPLE we are making fun of. There is a person whose image that belongs to, who lives with her self, her body, her curves, her “unacceptable” shape every single day. She has a soul. She has a heart. Feelings, emotions, the ability to hurt, to cry. Just like you.

Turning someone’s body into a JOKE? That is not funny. That’s the opposite of funny.

Can’t we all just wear want we want and be who we are without the wrath of a million judges laughing and making fun of us?

It’s like a giant schoolyard bully session. Having been made fun of most of my childhood, and the ‘star attraction’ of plenty of schoolyard bullying-sessions, I know it hurts. We are grown now. Shouldn’t we be evolved, compassionate adults by now? Why are we still acting like schoolyard bullies?

Let’s stop perpetuating cruelty. What do you say?

When I was a kid, being made fun of or picked on, once in a while a loving, aware grown-up would intervene on my behalf. She would step in and stop the bullying, stand up for me, protect me, and get me out of an awful situation. She would shut it down.

Now we have grown up and become a giant schoolyard of grown-up bullies. Where’s the loving aware grown-ups to step in and intervene? Who’s going to shut it down?

Let’s do it.

Will you perpetuate meanness by sharing body-shaming memes or even “liking” them? Or will you join me to intervene on behalf of the people whose images are being riduculed.

It’s time for the loving, aware grown-ups to step in and intervene.

I’m tired of being quiet about it so as not to offend, as I continue to be offended.

I’m tired of my own complacency.

I fight the fight every day to love and accept myself, and have built my life around helping others love and accept themselves. Yet, we still struggle. And it’s no surprise. A social current that ridicules, degrades and shames in the name of humor is hard to swim against. But we can do it, if we swim together.

I dare you to stand up for the anonymous victim of the next body-shaming meme you see.

I dare you to delete people from your friends list who perpetuate this type of riducle.

I dare you to voice your offense when offended, instead of staying quiet, as to not offend.

I dare you to take a stand against this bullshit.

Excuse my French, but I’m fed up. Our schoolyard bully days are over. It’s time to evolve, to grow up. Enough, already.

 

*********************

Originally published July, 2014

YOU are the point. Throw out those raggedy panties.

images

Frumpiness…

It happens to all of us. One of the first things I tell students when they come to my Unleash Your Inner Bombshell workshop is that none of us feels like a bombshell all the time. Even Marilyn Monroe, the bombshell of bombshells knew her “bombshell self” (Marilyn) was something she (Norma Jean) could turn on and off; it came and went. This is real life, after all.

In fact, it’s safer to say, as a work-from-home entrepreneur who spends most of her time sans makeup, in yoga pants, it’s more common that I feel… comfortable.

And when comfortable, it’s quite easy for me to fall into frumpiness. And it’s a strange coincidence, when I’m feeling frumpy, I’m also likely to be feeling funky.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Yes, self-esteem is an inside job. No, your appearance does not determine your worth.

I work hard on cultivating my inner world… But I will make no apologies for being a sensual, feminine woman, who enjoys lipstick, lingerie, and smelling pretty.

We cannot deny there is a direct and strong connection here: When we take the time to take care of our outer appearance, we feel better on the inside. Yet, when we get comfortable, we can get lazy, and when we get lazy, we succumb to the frumps.

These are the most common excuses women give me for letting their physical care go, and quitting on themselves, when it comes to the care, adornment and decorating of their temples…

  1. I don’t have the money. To that I say: Phooey! I just bought a 93 cent lipstick, “Retro Red” fact, and put it on in the parking lot, while running errands. And just like that, I felt more alive, more magnetic… more me. That’s me in my Retro Red up there in that picture, check it. It’s the only makeup I’m wearing and it had an instant effect on me.
  2. I’m too old. You are never too old to enjoy being a woman.
  3. I’m too busy. It takes ten seconds to apply lipstick. It takes ten seconds to put on a lacy pair or pretty panties. Next!
  4. No one (but the kids… the pets… the walls…) will see, so why bother? YOU will see. You will know. But mostly, you will feel.

I tell you these things because I love you. And because I get it.

I’d been feeling so unattractive lately. And guess what? I haven’t been bothering with makeup. With pretty undergarments. With keeping up with my grey roots. You should SEE the raggedy old strapless bra I’d been wearing because I hadn’t made the effort to find new ones. (Why is finding strapless bras that fit well so daunting?)

I get lazy. I forget how good it feels to feel sexy, just for me. Not for sexy-time, not for the world, not for my partner. Just for me.

So today, I treated myself to some lovely new panties, nothing crazy expensive, just enough to give me a little thrill. I’m wearing the yellow lace ones now. They make me happy and feel like a wearing a secret smile. I put on some lipstick. I’m about to go dye these crazy roots. I finally threw out the raggedy strapless bra! I’m doing little things to feel better, because how I look on the outside DOES affect the inside. And vice versa of course.

I’m in charge! I no longer hand over responsibility for how I feel about myself to others. But that… comes with responsibility.

I’m worth it. So are you.

Married or single, sexually active or not, young, old or somewhere in between, you are worth the effort. You deserve to feel good. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to take up too much of your time. It doesn’t have to be extravagant.

Do what makes you feel good.

Here are four things you can do today to immediately feel lovelier:

  • Go through your undergarment drawer and clear out the raggedy panties! Let them go! Sure save a couple of the ratty “granny” panties for that time of the month, if you must… but lose the other nasty old things! I just did.
  • Treat yourself to a 99 cent makeover. Buy yourself a fun, bright, bold cheap lipstick and put it on, right now, I don’t care what you’re doing. To really be adventurous, go outside your normal range of shades… For example, if you say “I never wear pinks,” buy a pink! Wet & Wild is a fun and super cheap way to play with new colors. See if that doesn’t immediately shift things for ya a little. If you have more to spend, spend more! The point is, treat yourself.
  • Put on some sexy music and use it as your background noise while working, cooking, being… and if you’re feeling really adventurous… dance around to it.
  • Do something sensual with your glorious body. Take a skinny dip tonight. Moon bathe naked. Rub yourself with luscious body butter, from your neck to the soles of your feet. Or just rub yourself. Be in your body. Enjoy it.

Experiment. Take a chance. Play. Enjoy the flesh and texture and shape of your body, as it is right now, and the senses you have been gifted with. Revel in the soft, sexy, fleshliness that carries your gorgeous soul around day after day, likely with very little thanks…

What’s the point?

YOU are the point.

 

 

Reposted; originally posted July 2014

Undress Your Desires

There was a time in my life when I wanted nothing more than a pair of designer jeans.

I’m talking deep, red hot, burning desire.

I’m talking my whole-life-will-change-when-I-get-these-jeans desire.

I’m talking my life– my real life—will finally start once I get these jeans. I was about eleven, and I was really ready for my life to finally start.

I didn’t care if they were Sergio Valente, Vidal Sassoon or Jordache. Just give me the jeeeeeans.

I wished for them. I prayed for them. I asked Santa for them, even though I had my doubts about his existence by that time.

I never did get them. And I survived. I even forgot about this desire, for years, til I stumbled across this meme today.

12745518_10153883812674144_3976701528390205120_n

I even ended up having a pretty fabulous life without the jeans, after the horrors and traumas of middle school were far behind me, of course.

Desire is getting a lot of attention these days. We have The Secret, which tells us that by using the Law of Attraction, we can have anything and everything we want. We have teachers like Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, (I highly recommend) encouraging us to build our entire lives based on how we want to feel. We have no shortage of “desire-ology” available to us today. I love it. I think it’s important.

Yes, it is important to want what we want. But I think often, something important gets lost in all this wanting.

So what is the point of desire? Desire is a heat-generating power center in our bodies. Just desiring alone may be the point. Longing and desire are stimulating, energizing forces. Yes, contentedness feels nice.

Desire feels like fire.

When we cultivate desire, we turn up the heat in that energy center. It lives in our belly. It gets activated when we desire. You know what else gets activated? Creativity. Passion. Aliveness. Desire lights us up. And being lit up is a great thing to be, and will affect all areas of your life.

Desires change, just like we do. Things I wanted ten years ago I don’t want anymore. And I definitely don’t care about designer jeans anymore.

Allow for the fluidity of changing desires. Allow your desires to change, to give birth to desires that match newer versions of you.

Also remember when desiring, it’s not really about the thing, it’s about how we think it will make us feel.

Desire is informative. It tells us how we want to feel.

So what is it that I really wanted, underneath the desire for those designer jeans? I wanted to feel cool. I wanted to feel confident and self-assured and comfortable in my body, like the girls at school who wore them seemed to feel. What I didn’t know at that young and naive stage in my life is that jeans could not give that to me. A lifetime of inner work, healing, awareness and growth would be my path to those feelings.

YES, want what you want.

Allow yourself to feel that red hot fiery energy of desire.

Be curious with your desires.

Under every desire is another desire, and another, and they usually have less to do with the thing itself, and more to do with the feelings you think having that thing will give you.

So let’s say for example, you peel away the layers of your desire for a certain red convertible. When you peel away the layers, you realize, what you really want is to feel freedom. What you want to feel is fast, thrilling flow, adventure and exhilaration and wind through your hair.

Don’t wait for the car. How can you feel those feelings today?

Want what you want. Be unapologetic for wanting. Be brazen. So what if it’s “unrealistic”.

Feel the fire of desire. Allow that fire to fuel you, your creativity, your work, your relationships. Let desire light you up.

Feel it in your body. Locate it. Give it words. Let it become sensation. Lose the language. Feel the fire.

Undress your desires. Layer by layer, until you find yourself at the kernel of truth, of wisdom buried deep within it.

Be flexible with your desires. Rigidity is boring. Fluidity and openness and trusting in what is beyond your little human brain and its limited capacity for ideas and possibilities is way more fun.

What what you want, and know why you want it.

Go on. Have Your Moment.

jealousy
Self-pity.

Anger.

Neediness.

Victimhood.

Sadness.

Jealousy.

Abandoned.

Hurt.

Rage.

Heartbreak.

Defeated.

Depression.

Darkness.

If you’re like me, this list might be titled “My Least Favorite Feelings.”

Truth be told, I’d rather feel nothing at all than feel any of these.

If I were allowed to choose my palette of feelings, they’d be bright and sunny, deeply joyful and radiantly happy, all the time. But that’s just not the way this living thing is designed.

Whether it be our religions, our families of origin, our feel-good society or our metaphysical or spiritual readings or seminars, we get the message loud and clear: Feeling “negative” feelings is trouble. Feeling these feelings lowers your vibration and stops the Universe from blessing you. (Gasp!) Feeling these feelings is ungrateful. Feeling these feelings is not spiritual. Feeling these feelings is unenlightened.

I call bullshit.

It is not the feelings themselves that get us into ruts, or block our capacity for joy, as much as our resistance to them, as much are our judgment of them.

In the last week, I have heard my clients say things like…

It’s stupid but ____.

I know I shouldn’t feel this, but ____.

I should be grateful for the good things in my life, but ___.

This is ridiculous, but ____.

I’ve also had three or four clients this year talk to me about their strategies for getting through heartbreak as quickly as possible. They usually have the word “more” in them…

Work more.

Drink more.

Eat more.

Spend more.

Date more.

Sleep more.

All in efforts to avoid the pain of their current experience, to avoid the reality of their current feeling.

In the short term, this may seem to work. I don’t have time to feel my pain if I am overextended, or hungover or have a new purse to get excited about, right?

In the long term though, what is buried alive never dies.

What we resist persists.

The wounds transmute and find a way to show up and be felt in a completely unique and unrelated, though painfully familiar situation.

One way or another, these feelings must be felt.

Is it fun? Hell no.

Is it necessary? Hell yes.

And unless there is a chemical imbalance or an actual physical condition that requires treatment, most of the time our feelings just want to move through us.

They just want to be acknowledged and felt, so they can move on.

You are a safe place for every feeling.

And when your feelings learn you are safe, they are not afraid to move through you. They stop for a while, engage you, consume you, exhaust you, drain you. But then they trust you. And they move on.

I urge you to watch the way you moderate and allow or disallow your emotions. Which of them are you most judging?

Catch yourself in the act of resisting your less-desirable emotions. Then find a healthy, loving way to feel them. Express them.

Here are some tried and true methods…

  • Journaling (saved my life a time or two, or thousand.)
  • Smash, burn or rip something. (your own property, of course.)
  • Talk to a friend.
  • Write a sad poem.
  • Dig in the dirt.
  • Swim, run, bike, hike or dance it out.
  • Spend a day or two wallowing.
  • Clean something.
  • Take gloomy selfies.
  • Wear black for days.

Some of these physical expressions of emotions can become healing rituals in your processing, a tactile, sensory experience of energy in motion (emotion = energy in motion!)

Allow yourself to have your moment. Feel your feelings. All of them, even the less-savory. Let them move through you. That’s all they ask of you.

I read recently “It’s a full-time job, avoiding your feelings.” Ha, isn’t that the truth? Ain’t nobody got time for that. I want my full-time job to be a life fully felt, fully expressed, fully experienced.

Life is for feeling. So go on, feel it all.

Allow it all, for you are vast, and mighty and brilliant and contain multitudes.