self-love

Self-Love and Insecurities: This is Where I Am.

insecurities_by_littlemissrockstar-d37i3mc

Show me the most beautiful, powerful, successful, actualized, amazing woman in the world, and I’ll show you a woman who sometimes struggles with insecurities.

We all face the darker side of our own feelings about ourselves from time to time, no matter who we are or how hard we have worked on ourselves, how spiritual or “enlightened” we are, how much we have healed, how far we have come… it happens.

And though some of us are better at hiding it from the world than others, none of us are exempt.

Sometimes I struggle to love myself completely.

There. I said it.

Sometimes my inner mean girls, inner gremlins, inner demons, whatever you want to call the voices, those voices, whisper and chant the meanest things to me.

Does my sharing this with you make you think less of me as a woman, a coach, a teacher?

Did you think I had it all together, and that “all together” included never thinking one negative, mean thought about myself, never critiquing myself, never “ugh-ing” myself in the mirror, never ever calling myself a name?

I’m sorry to disappoint you, if that is the case.

Because I stand for radical self-love doesn’t mean I’ve perfected it. Because I believe in self-acceptance doesn’t mean this comes completely effortlessly for me. It’s my journey. I’m still in it.

If you’ve attended any of my workshops over the years, you know that one of the first things I share, after I point to the bathrooms and ask you to turn off your cell phone is that I am not immune or completely healed of the negative self-talk and self-loathing judgment that plagues women of our western society.

My journey has been arduous and painstakingly bumpy, and very real, and never-ending and yes, I’m still in it. I’m still journeying. But, I say.

But. But on this journey, as I tired of the pain, I have learned many amazing and powerful tools and practices for quieting the critical voices, for cultivating self-love, for remembering who I am, for practicing self-kindess and compassion, for healing the relationship between my body and my mind, and when I practice them, my relationship to myself shifts, it heals.

They work if I work them.

And so of course, I am obligated to share them. We learn, we teach. Some of us are wired this way. Whether we like it or not.

Why am I telling you this?

Perhaps to come clean.

Perhaps because recently, when I told her that I was having a bad day and struggling with self-esteem issues, still another friend looked at me incredulously, jaw dropped, surprised… maybe even disappointed… “You?”  Yes, me.

But my commitment to expand my capacity for self-love and self-acceptance has been recharged. My relationships depend on it. My business depends on it. My life depends on it.

These days, on a bad day, I can remember to turn to myself with compassion, and sometimes I even remember to practice the tools that I teach.

I am not immune to insecurities. But I am not going to lay down and surrender to them, either.

I am devoted to mastering profound self-love and acceptance, and if it takes me the rest of my life to master, so be it.

Perhaps that’s the whole point of living.

I’m in. I’m registered. I’m signed up. I’m enrolled.

I’m no longer enrolled in “Self-Love 101”, but I haven’t earned my Doctorate in Loving Oneself Completely yet, either.

I am a work in progress. I hope you’re okay with that.

 

 

The End: Reflections on The Burlesque Experience & Life Itself

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Eight years ago this summer, a number of events and “chance” meetings and connections and sparks and ideas came together in a combustible, most unplanned, unexpected way, and me and my friend Matt (yeah, the Matt I’ve been engaged to for the last five years!) got this crazy hankering to put together a burlesque troupe. Our first Bust-Out was Halloween, 2009. Seven women, including me, performed our first burlesque acts in front of a roaring crowd of 500 at an outdoor party.

It was transformative. It was intoxicating. It was empowering. I wanted more, and I wanted to share that first time, again and again and again with other women.  Thus the Burlesque Experience was hatched from its mama hen, Les Femmes Aplomb. Would women want this? Would they sign up? The sure did and they sure would. Year after year. For seven years, twenty-four Bust-Outs, the Burlesque Experience has brought nearly 300 women to the stage, to strip and dance their choreographed burlesque debut for thousands of cheering fans.

What kind of woman has said yes to the Burlesque Experience? Every kind of woman.

For some women, the Burlesque Experience has been experienced as a stepping stone, a way to move toward bigger dreams of performing or producing professionally. I am touched and inspired by being able to support women and their sparkly dreams in this way.

For many others, the Burlesque Experience has been nothing short of a game-changer. A demarcation of where one chapter ended and another started, the point in their lives where they can look back and say I did that, and I was never the same.  Through their Experience, they accessed their power, they reclaimed their bodies, they made peace with their pain, they discovered their courage, they blew through excuses, and obstacles, and self-imposed limitations. They became unstoppable.

What happens when a woman becomes unstoppable? What happens when a woman falls in love with herself? What happens when a woman allows herself to give and receive support from other women? What happens when a woman gets on stage and performs a striptease for hundreds of people? What happens? Everything.

And by some miracle, or divine assignment, some force that some call the universe, some call love, some call God, I was chosen to do this. It was me who got to guide them to themselves. Me who got to share this with them, me who got to grow with them, celebrate them, love them. Of course, I could not do this alone. This work has been supported by countless women, and men, over the years, alumni, each of them knowing what potent medicine this journey is. They’ve shown up in countless ways. I am grateful beyond measure. And there I go, deflecting again.

See, so many of us, from a very young age are taught not to be “too full of ourselves”. I remember growing up, it actually was looked down on by the other girls if a girl even simply liked herself. If liking yourself got you exiled from the tribe, what else could a girl do, but learn self-loathing? God forbid, she actually love herself. Scandalous.

Growing up, I never heard a woman say “I am proud of myself.” And I think that’s a shame, and I think the Burlesque Experience has smashed that false and crippling humility to bits, one performance at a time. For what is the Burlesque Experience been about if not self-celebration? On this stage we celebrate ourselves. The nerve of us! Who do we think we are!? I have even shied away from praise, when it comes to the Burlesque Experience. It makes me uncomfortable. “It’s not me, it’s something bigger than me.” Yes, and no.

Today, as eleven students prepare to take the Burlesque Experience Bust-Out stage for their first time, and the Burlesque Experience’s last time, as we prepare for our last show tomorrow night, our last curtain call, our last celebratory toast, our last Afterglow Dance Party, I am overwhelmed with emotion, with gratitude, and yes, dare I say? With pride.

I am proud of myself.

We must allow ourselves to be proud of ourselves. Our daughters, our sisters are counting on it. The world is counting on it. There is nothing wrong with a woman celebrating herself. We must stop acting as if there is. Be proud of yourself. Do things that shock you. Be bold. Be brave. Be the kind of woman people say of, “Who does she think she is?” Be YOU.

Most importantly, be in love with yourself.  The world desperately needs women in love with themselves.

My work is not done. The end of this chapter means the start of a new one. I promise to you, my commitment to healing the world, one woman at a time is just getting started. I wonder what my next busting out will be… What will yours be?

Be Your Valentine: The Bad-Ass Brazen Art of Self-Devotion

de·vo·tion [dih-voh-shuhn] noun

1. profound dedication; consecration.
2. earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc.
3. strong attachment (to) or affection (for a cause, person, etc) marked by dedicated loyalty.

Devotion is my new favorite word. Not only do I love the way it sounds… delightful… divine… devotion. I love what it means.

What are you devoted to?

These days, I’m cultivating a sweet self-devotion. Which turns the definition into THIS:

self-devotion [self-dih-voh-shuhn] noun

1. profound dedication to me; consecration to myself
2. earnest attachment to moi
3. strong attachment (to) or affection (for a cause, person, etc) marked by dedicated loyalty to my own self!

YEAAAH, that’s what I’m talking about.

What does that mean for me? What are the implications of this commitment? Well, there are many. New ones pop up daily, in fact.

Today, self-devotion means…

– listening to my body when this head cold has knocked me down for a rest
– checking in to see what I really want to do, eat, drink.
– napping because that’s what I need
– clearing my schedule as an act of self-care, in spite of that critical voice that says I could not/should not do so.
– pajamas, all day long.

Other days it’s much more serious, and more difficult, uncomfortable, vulnerable:

– standing up for myself when I feel disrespected by a peer
– expressing an unspoken insecurity to my partner
– refusing to be mistreated by a cranky cashier

Now, more than ever, I am realizing how every choice I make is either an act of self-devotion, or it is not. It either helps me feel lighter, or creates a sense of heaviness. It either feels like love or feels like fear.

Wanting to devote to yourself? Here’s the interesting thing. You don’t have to feel any certain “preliminary” way toward yourself to act in devoted ways. In fact, the decision to devote to yourself is followed by actions and choices, and those actions and choices create profound self-love.

Self-devotion cultivates trust, and with devoted practice, a sweet and romantic, everlasting loyalty and kindness to oneself will blossom.

Keep in mind, self-devotion is an act of audacity. A bold and brazen promise to yourself, to dote on yourself, to spoil yourself with lavish attention and affection.

Are your choices today a reflection of someone who is devoted to herself? And if they are not, can you start now? What one loving choice can you make as an act of self-devotion?

This Valentine’s Day, first and foremost, be your own Valentine, always and forever, for better or for worse.

After all, lovers come and lovers go, but you… you will always have you.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

 
 
Originally published February 2013.

Save some you for you.

Pie
I hate this stupid meme and I’ll tell you why.

Somewhere along the line, we learned that putting ourselves first was bad. Somewhere along the line, we began believing that the needs and wants of others without regard of our own. Somewhere along the line, we gave and we gave and we gave, until one day, we realized, we had nothing left for ourselves.

Moms get the messages perhaps more pervasively. Take the dumb meme above for example. I hate it. Here’s what its saying:

–          A good mother sacrifices her own desires for the desires of others.

–          A good mother willingly misses out on sweetness and pleasure, because she’s a good mother.

–          A good mother will lie to deny her own longings.

–          A good mother matters less than her family matters.

All a bunch of hooey. But it’s not just moms that get this message. We women have been hearing it our whole lives. The mark of a good woman is sacrifice and selflessness. Maybe men get the message, too. I don’t know, as a woman I can only really speak in the context of what I and so many of the women I know and love have shared with me.

I’ve worked with women who cannot even answer the question “what do you want?” because it’s been so long since they’ve considered themselves and their desires. (At least when we FIRST start our work together.)

For the last couple of months, I’ve been sharing with you what I believe to be the biggest, deadliest blocks to our ultimate expression, our joyous radiance.  We’ve discussed a bunch of them, like negative self-talk, shame, blame and old stories.

The final and seventh in this series is what I’m talking about now. Giving it all away.

We are spread too thin. We say yes to things that scream no inside. We obligate ourselves to the point of emptiness. It’s no wonder you don’t have energy to create the life of your dreams. You have saved nothing for yourself. Your resources and reserve are depleted.

It’s time to become self-centered.

Many of you have heard me say “You say self-centered like it’s a bad thing. Well, who else am I supposed to be centered in?”

I’m not saying that a certain amount of sacrifice, generosity and commitment are required by us in our work, our relationships, our families. But what I am saying is the amount and degree to which we extend ourselves is often self-destructive.

When there is no time and energy left in us to tend to our own dreams and desires, we burn out. We become zombies. Walking among the living, but completely disconnected from our own life-force. Like a sack of motion and duty.

Brene Brown in her beautiful book “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” says “Most of us have shame triggers around being perceived as self-indulgent or self-focused. We don’t want our authenticity to be perceived as selfish or narcissistic.”

So we give away all the pieces of pie, metaphorically, and claim we don’t really like pie anyway.

Save some pie for yourself. Count yourself in the slicing and dividing.

Save some YOU for YOU.

And trust me when I say this: When you save some you for you, everyone wins. You’ll find yourself a more present, patient and engaged lover, wife, mother, boss, employee… whatever it is you do in the world, you’ll do it better.

How do you start? How do you go from being spread too thin and others-focused to centered, grounded and a self-care pro?

Like any other change: one choice at a time. It feels uncomfortable at first, I’m not gonna lie. I have coaching clients who have to struggle with some guilt and discomfort just to attend their coaching sessions, as it takes them away from where they think they should be focused, and seems so self-indulgent.

It’s like a muscle. There will be some soreness at first, but eventually it gets stronger.

What choice can you make today? How will you slice your pie?

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Miserable

jayne

We’ve been chatting about the blocks that get between us and our sexiest, most joyfully radiant, sensual and empowered lives. I’ve pulled together seven of what I think are the greatest, most toxic threats, and we’ve talked about the first two, old programming and self-talk.

Today’s is a two-fer really, because these two love to tango…

Judgment and comparison.

How many times a day do you find yourself judging yourself and/or others, and comparing yourself to others, or even comparing yourself to former versions of yourself?

If you’re like most women, this is a pretty regular thought process, and it slams right up against your radiance, shuts it down, smothers it, snuffs it.

It is impossible to be your most radiant, joyous, sexy self while simultaneously judging or comparing.

Just like negative self-talk and old programming, I don’t know if a life completely and entirely free of judging or comparing is even possible, for these are very human traits, and we are very human creatures. In fact, I’m quite skeptical of anyone who ever says to me “Oh, I’m not judging you…” because I know at that very moment, most likely, they are judging me, or they wouldn’t feel the need to say that, and you know what? We all do it.

There are times when our judgment and discernment skills are very valuable, but I’m not talking about those times. I’m talking about the sexy-stifling, joy-stealing ways it blocks our power, radiance and happiness.

Here are some common examples of how we judge and compare and block our happiness and power in our day-to-day lives…

  • Gorgeous model-type knockout walks into the elevator. Our confidence level instantly plummets, we sink into ourselves, feeling fat and dorky.

  • In yoga class, “everyone” seems so flexible and skilled, while we plop around feeling like a clumsy elk.

  • Thinking “I can’t believe I’m still missing him. It’s been three months and he’s clearly moved on. I’m so pathetic.”

  • Saying “That dress looks so much better on you than it EVER did on me. I should have given it to you a long time ago.”

  • Being passed over for a promotion, and deciding to permanently hate the “bitch” that got it.

  • Or the big DOUBLE-kicker, thinking “There I go, judging and comparing! Sheesh, what a jerk. I wish I was a better person, like so-and-so, she never judges.” Yep, judging and comparing yourself about judging and comparing! What brilliant mind-games we are capable of!

The secret to getting a grip on judging and comparing is the same secret as transforming negative self-talk and old programming, that we’ve already covered.

“Controlling” your thoughts is futile.

What we resist persists.

Trying to NOT think something is mind-acrobatics that most of us are incapable of doing.

We’ve all heard some form of this example… right now, try NOT to think of a pink elephant. Don’t do it! No pink elephant thoughts! Hmmm. how’d that work?

If you want to experience a life with less judging and comparing, you must become diligent about the way you respond to these thoughts and words.

What I know is that it is managing our response to judging and comparing will make a huge difference in how we experience the world and how the world experiences us.

Start first by simply noticing where and when you are judging and complaining. I often suggest to my clients that they first just practice noticing, for the first couple days or weeks or whatever. Without judging. Without condemning. Without correcting. Just observing…

There I am, judging. Ooh, just did it, comparing again.

Then, once that’s become easier, you become the boss. You are no longer mindlessly victim to every thought and word that floats across your mind or out of your mouth. Now you can choose your response.

For example…

  • Gorgeous model-type knockout walks into the elevator. Our confidence level instantly plummets, we sink into ourselves, feeling fat and dorky.
    MINDFUL RESPONSE: She looks beautiful. I admire her confidence. Maybe she is showing up to inspire me to practice increasing my confidence today.

  • Thinking “I can’t believe I’m still missing him. It’s been three months and he’s clearly moved on. I’m so pathetic.”
    MINDFUL RESPONSE: Be nice! You’re still grieving, and you’re not just grieving the loss of him in your life, you’re grieving the end of a dream, and that can hurt even more. Be gentle. Take all the time you need. I’m feeling tender today. How can I be sweet to myself?

Get it?

Every judging, comparing thought is an invitation to practice self-kindness and compassion.

Every trigger is an opportunity to heal, to grow and evolve.

And when we become experts at self-kindness and compassion, OOOOOH I’ll tell you what…. talk about becoming sexy and vibrant and radiant and powerful!

Not that I’ve totally aced these practices myself, but I’ve gotten much better. I get glimpses, and what a wonderful feeling, to be a woman who loves herself so well that she is compassionate and kind, aware and attentive, more than she used to be.

Give it a try, see what happens. I’d love to hear your stories!

Next week, the fourth block…. eww….

Shame.

One of our least favorite feelings, but definitely one of the most destructive and toxic. See you then!

You’re Sexy and You Know It

Marilyn_2399557b

“When I walk in the spot (yeah), this is what I see (ok)
Everybody stops and they staring at me
I got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it,
show it, show it, show it…

I’m sexy and I know it.”

-LMFAO

You’ve heard the song. Maybe you’ve even sung along in  your car, or danced with friends to it. It’s goofy and it’s catchy and my goodness, is it loaded with bravado (“No shoes, no shirt, and I STILL get serviced”, for example…) But there’s something in the over-the-top arrogance that the soul recognizes. Yeah. I said soul.

Have you ever felt so sure of yourself, so attractive and on top of your game, confident and put together to the point where your body and your soul are in complete alignment, when your senses are providing a direct line to your spirit and you’re abuzz with reality? When you are sexy, and you know it?

You may have experienced it dancing, making love, climaxing alone, celebrating with friends, completing a project that turned out better than you even expected. Showing up fully for loved ones who need you. Flirting with your new crush, or your husband of 25 years.

You know the feeling.

It’s when who you are on the inside reflects who you are on the outside.

It’s when your senses are fully engaged.

It’s when your experience of yourself becomes High Definition, and the world and everything in it shines brighter for that reason.

It’s when connection, real connection- heart to heart, soul to soul connection happens.

It’s where curiosity meets longing and you’ve never felt more alive.

You’re sexy and you know it.

If you’re not experiencing this at all, or you can’t remember the last time… it may be time for a shift.

Life was meant to be savored. Life is longing to seduce you. There is so much passion, so much richness and flavor and color and texture all around, and guess what? It’s for you.  When you are engaged, fully engaged, with life and the world and yourself, you can’t help to experience a little bravado. Mixed with a tender humility, you feel WOW. You ARE wow, embodied.

Life is a passionate lover, and it matters not if you have a human lover or if you simply decide to let Life itself be your mate, with all of its surprises, seduction, romance, adventures and gifts.

Feeling sexy is your birthright.  And Life has a crush on you. Go on. Flirt.

 

 

Insecurities: The Struggle is Real

insecurities_by_littlemissrockstar-d37i3mc

Show me the most beautiful, powerful, successful, actualized, amazing woman in the world, and I’ll show you a woman who sometimes struggles with insecurities.

We all face the darker side of our own feelings about ourselves from time to time, no matter who we are or how hard we have worked on ourselves, how spiritual or “enlightened” we are, how much we have healed, how far we have come… it happens.

And though some of us are better at hiding it from the world than others, none of us are exempt.

Sometimes I struggle to love myself completely.

There. I said it.

Sometimes my inner mean girls, inner gremlins, inner demons, whatever you want to call the voices, those voices, whisper and chant the meanest things to me.

Does my sharing this with you make you think less of me as a woman, a coach, a teacher?

Did you think I had it all together, and that “all together” included never thinking one negative, mean thought about myself, never critiquing myself, never “ugh-ing” myself in the mirror, never ever calling myself a name?

I’m sorry to disappoint you, if that is the case.

Because I stand for radical self-love doesn’t mean I’ve perfected it. Because I believe in self-acceptance doesn’t mean this comes completely effortlessly for me.

If you’ve attended my BodyLove Revolution workshops, you know that one of the first things I share, after I point to the bathrooms and ask you to turn off your cell phone is that I am not immune or completely healed of the negative self-talk and self-loathing judgment that plagues women of our western society. My journey has been arduous and painstakingly bumpy, and very real, and never-ending and yes, I’m still in it. I’m still journeying. But, I say.

But. But on this journey, as I tired of the pain, I have learned many amazing and powerful tools and practices for quieting the critical voices, for cultivating self-love, for remembering who I am, for practicing self-kindess and compassion, for healing the relationship between my body and my mind, and when I practice them, my relationship to myself shifts, it heals.

They work if I work them.

And so of course, I am obligated to share them. We learn, we teach. Some of us are wired this way. Whether we like it or not.

Why am I telling you this?

Perhaps to come clean.

Perhaps because recently, when I told her that I was having a bad day and struggling with self-esteem issues, still another friend looked at me incredulously, jaw dropped, surprised… maybe even disappointed… “You???”  Yes, me.

But my commitment to expand my capacity for self-love and self-acceptance has been recharged. My relationships depend on it. My business depends on it. My life depends on it.

These days, on a bad day, I can remember to turn to myself with compassion, and sometimes I even remember to practice the tools that I teach.

I am not immune to insecurities. But I am not going to lay down and surrender to them, either.

I am devoted to mastering profound self-love and acceptance, and if it takes me the rest of my life to master, so be it.

Perhaps that’s the whole point of living.

I’m in. I’m registered. I’m signed up. I’m enrolled.

I’m no longer enrolled in “Self-Love 101”, but I haven’t earned my Doctorate in Loving Oneself Completely yet, either.

I am a work in progress. I hope you’re okay with that.

 

“You Used to Be A Heartbreaker”: Reflections on Aging & Self-Love

10153082_10152140087913473_2833283768099282817_nI’ve been 42 for almost a year now, and I’ll tell you, it’s been an interesting ride.

As I inch toward my forty-third birthday, coming in about two months, I notice my contradictions are alive and well. Anyone who says they live in perfect harmony all the time, without any inner turmoil, contradictions or conflicts is either dead inside, in denial or lying.

Here’s a big one this year: I love and adore myself. I love and appreciate my body and its beauty and miracles and abilities. I feel alive and sexy and appealing. That’s one side. Then there’s the other side…

I am old. Look at those new lines. This extra 20 pounds will never go away. I’m gross. I’m old. I’m unattractive. I’m over the hill. I’m washed up. I’m fat. I’m gross. I’m old. Did I say that already?

Thanks to a lot and I mean a LOT of inner work, I have gotten so much kinder to myself. Trust me, it’s a way kinder place inside my head than it used to be. And I’m proud of that.

But I’m noticing it sometimes feels more difficult to be kinder to myself when I am also trying to reconcile the normal changes that aging brings with it.

I am not the thirty-year old sexpot I used to be.

And that’s a good thing, really it is.

But…

I’m not gonna lie. I sometimes miss her.

I love the way I’m growing. I love the way I’ve changed. I do love myself, I really do.

Yet sometimes I struggle.

I was in Austin last week, out at a local dive bar with my best friend, who has been galavanting at such establishments with me for oh, about 20 years… and some jerk of a guy, blasted out of his mind, gooped up on gop, wanted to tell us some things. He knew everything about everything, of course. And at one point he pointed at me and said “And you… you used to be a heartbreaker.”

I can’t tell you what that one statement has meant because I’m still processing it, a week later.

It struck me mostly because he’s exactly right. I used to be a heartbreaker. I used to get some sort of twisted pleasure from using the attentions of men as food, gobbling them up, and stringing them along so that I could have fun, feel good about myself, with no regard for them as people, as souls with feelings and hearts and whatnot. Then as I continued to grow, and do my work, that shifted. I no longer needed their attentions or validation. I did not need anyone’s help to like or love myself. I learned how to do it for myself.

So thankfully, my femme fatale days are over. But then why did his comment hit me like a punch in the gut?

I look in the mirror and there is a new reflection, one I’m not that crazy about sometimes, because I am comparing her to an old, outdated reflection. A younger me. I am evolving, changing, and yes, I am also getting older.

When we are moving into new phases, new chapters of our lives, it is only human nature to longingly cling to the old phases, missing who we used to be. Recreating ourselves is a fierce act of courage. It means leaving parts of us behind.

And at times, I struggle. I struggle when I hold on to what I used to be.

I struggle when I compare myself to a younger me, with disdain and frustration for who I now am.

I struggle when I forget that I am a queen. That this age, this face, this body, this belly, this me… this me is the now me.

And I could waste my time wallowing in what used to be… or what I wish I was… or I could use that energy to love the now me. I could love me now.

Every time I bring myself back to loving me now, it’s progress.

Every time I change the direction of my thoughts to loving thoughts, even just “a kinder thought than this one”… that’s progress.

Every time I choose to focus on what’s right and beautiful, every time I choose to love myself for the woman I am, right now, I become more beautiful.

Whoa… did you get that?

Every time you choose to love yourself for the woman you are right now, YOU become more beautiful.

Did we just crack the code to eternal beauty? Is MORE LOVE the answer?

Well I’ll be damned, I bet it is. Let’s try it.

 

 

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

photo by Dee Hill

A Phenomenal Woman, Indeed

mayaangelouAbout 16 years ago, at a house party, the hosts were holding a spontaneous talent show.  I was new here. Recently transplanted from Chicago, I was searching. Searching for my place in Dallas. Searching  for my place in the world. Searching for my power.

The people at this party welcomed me with open arms. The talent show was diverse, interesting, and as people went up, risking vulnerability, but burning with a desire to express themselves, I began to feel at home.

Then Kathy, the beautiful matriarch of the group, got up and recited a poem that gripped me and gave me chills.  As she read it and traced her hips, a sparkle in her eyes, a smirk on her lips, I felt so proud to be a woman. Something shifted in me. I was ready to own my power, my beauty, my grace and my influence. It was this poem that encouraged me to “come of age”, to claim my womanhood with pride and class… it touched my soul and inspired me into more of my fullness.

You’ve probably heard it before, or read it, it’s definitely one of Maya Angelou’s most “mainstream” poems, but today, in honor of a woman whose phenomenal influence is global, and will continue to ripple, likely for the rest of our years on this planet, in honor of a woman whose phenomenal influence grounded and rooted me and gave me permission to shine, to sparkle, I share this poem with you…

Phenomenal Woman


Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

– Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Self-Devotion is So Sexy and You Are So Worthy.

selflove“So it’s basically a self-wedding?” my client squinted, slightly antsy and anxious, trying to grasp the premise behind my upcoming “I Promise Me” Self-Devotion Ceremony.

“Yeah, I guess you could call it that.” I smiled, feeling sort of antsy and anxious, myself.

“Oh geez. Hmmm. Seriously? I don’t know about that…” She wriggled and squirmed, clearly uncomfortable with the concept. A wave of self-doubt passed through me. “What the hell am I doing?” I wondered. I have taken enough creative risks in life and work to recognize the “What the hell am I doing?” chatter as a signpost in the right direction. It usually means I’m doing something bold and new.

Isn’t it interesting that we live in a world where finding “the one” is honored and celebrated by lavish and expensive events, that the wedding industry is a billion dollar business, yet getting people together in a room to commit to the utmost devotion and faithfulness to themselves is uncomfortable for many… downright preposterous for others?

What does it mean, when someone commits to loving themselves well, when someone promises devotion and faithfulness to oneself?

Does it mean they will never make mistakes? Never act in less than loving ways toward themselves? Never have a negative thought toward themselves ever again? Does it mean that they will perfectly love and adore themselves at all times? No. Not at all.

Just as in a marriage between two individual people, there are beautiful, shining moments of clarity and perfection, romance and sweet adoration, and there are darker days, days where it feels like work, where it seems easier to give up altogether, where there is stuckness, or dryness, or exasperation. Where the lovers act more like strangers, or enemies, than lovers or best friends. Yet the commitment, the intention is there… in sickness and in health. In good times and in bad. In joy, as well as in sorrow.

Committing to yourself does not mean you will have some instant superhuman perfection bestowed upon your relationship with yourself.

It simply means that you will hold your relationship in high esteem and as an utmost priority.

That you will do your best to create a safe and loving home for your heart, that you would strive to never betray your body or your soul, that you will bravely make choices on your own behalf, even when difficult or painful.

You deserve your undying love and devotion.

You are worthy of your own affection, promise and adoration.

You deserve your own commitment.

It matters not whether you’re single, married, dating, celibate, playing the field, seeking a soul mate.

What matters is that you have a deep desire to commit to loving, respecting, and honoring yourself, and are willing to commit to this path of profound self-love, loyalty and care, for the rest of your life.

So back to the chilling question “What the hell am I doing?” I’ve given it a great deal of thought. This is what the hell I am doing:

I’m creating a space to love myself in a deeper and more devoted way. To celebrate and honor the precious relationship between me and myself.

And I’m inviting you to join me, and open yourself up to a richer, kinder and more satisfying love affair with yourself. Till death do you part.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

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Join me in Dallas this month for “I Promise Me” Self-Devotion Ceremony and take the next step in your relationship with you.