I was talking with a lovely young woman the other day who'd recently lost 50 pounds. Bravo, I thought. Then she said, "I thought that would help me love myself, but it didn't."
Of course it didn't.
Too often we women make the mistake of thinking that "if only," or "when" I (lose, get find, do) blah, blah, whatever you can fill in the blank with, then I will feel better about myself, have more confidence, or love myself. Unfortunately, the truth is that if you don't already have love inside you, changing your external appearance isn't going to help.
Besides, we don't really live in a world that wants you to love yourself wholeheartedly. If you love yourself, you won't be a consumer. Everyday you are bombarded by hundreds of advertising messages—most overt, many covert—that want you to feel bad about yourself so you buy a product to "fix" yourself. But you're not broken! There is nothing wrong with you that learning how to love yourself today won't fix. And the secret is that once you love yourself more, if you want to change something, the change requires less energy and is long lasting. Anything done with positivity and love sticks. Trying to make changes because of self-loathing or dissatisfaction exhausts you and keeps you focussed on negativity. Negativity breeds more of the same.
Today, vow to stop fixing yourself and start loving yourself. Listen to your thoughts and the words you speak aloud. Every time you hear or say aloud a negative message about yourself or someone else (what we say about others is really how we feel about ourselves) notice it. Just be aware. The first step to learning to love yourself is being aware of how you're speaking both internally and externally.
When you’re ready to take the next steps of changing your thought patterns for greater self-love, find someone to guide you on that journey. Someone who role models self-acceptance and body comfort. It’s been a long journey for me, one that I’m sure will never end as I travel the world in this aging body, however, I’ve learned a lot and will happily help you, if you desire.
Whatever you do, remember to be gentle to your human body. It’s the only one you’ll ever have.
Did you celebrate Galentines Day Yesterday? You know, the day before February 14 that is set aside to honor your female friendships.
Or maybe you're celebrating Palentines Day. A celebration of platonic love between friends.
Maybe you're buying a gift for your special pet. I heard one statistic that said more people were buying gifts for pets than other humans.
Whatever, or whoever, you're celebrating today, February 14, Valentine’s Day, remember to celebrate YOU too. You are your primary relationship. If you don't have plans of love and snuggles with something or someone clean shaven or furry, try these sure-fire ways to indulge yourself.
Think about what your love language is, as taken from Gary Chapman’s best selling book The 5 Love Languages:
words of affirmation
acts of service (devotion)
Now, you think I'm going to write that you can give this to yourself and you're right. In all these categories you can find a way to give yourself something that represents one of these languages.
For quality time, you can read a good book or take a bubble bath.
For physical touch, you can get a massage or spend time rubbing your own feet or ....engaging with a bedroom accessory (a term I just learned from a Pure Romance distributor).
For words of affirmation, you can select a phrase and repeat it to yourself, using stickers to place around your house reminding you to repeat this phrase every time you see a sticker (do this for a long time until the phrase settles into your brain).
For receiving gifts, you can buy your inner child something it craves (doesn't have to be expensive - I bought myself a new teddy bear recently for less than $10).
For acts of service you can step outside yourself and offer someone else your time and attention helping with something they need. This helps you because you step outside of yourself and whatever worry, challenge, or life situation that may be difficult gets a reprieve from your brain (and will often sort itself out when not focussed on).
And you're right, I do say do one or all of these for yourself, but I also offer, that once you determine what makes you happiest (one or more of these love languages) that you engage another person into doing them with you. It’s in community that we feel most loved.
For quality time, you can invite someone out to coffee or a walk in a tranquil setting.
For physical touch, you can offer to rub someones shoulders or their feet or ... (if you're in a safe intimate relationship).
For words of affirmation, you can find numerous things about someone else that you admire and shower them with affirmations and ask them to do the same for you.
For receiving gifts, you can "gift" someone else something small but meaningful (this might even be one of the other love languages as described here)
For acts of service, you can ask someone for help with something you need doing. Often we don't ask because we don't want to "bother" someone else, but just as we feel good to help others, they feel good helping us too when we ask with kindness and an open loving heart.
So, whoever you're celebrating with or whatever you’re celebrating today, do it with love, kindness, gentleness, and then vow to make it a weekly, or daily, practice. The love you show and give will be returned to you every day of the year.
From an early age, we have to be taught everything. And usually, we have to be taught often. Once our mind is open, though, we have a greater chance to learn the lessons that are presented to us everyday and re-presented to us.
I used to laugh at my parents because they are so regimented in their food. They eat meals with such regularity that I can bank on it. Morning, noon and night. Eight, or soon after they get up, noon most definitely whether weekday or weekend, and dinner around 5 or 5:30 without fail. Over the years I've read, heard and experienced that eating regularly helps your body, however, since I still have the tendency on occasion to eat too much or too late at night, when I'm left to my own devices I eat when I'm hungry, and that may not occur with clocked punctuality.
Recently I was working with a client and she reiterated what she'd learned in a very expensive program, "Eating regularly, three meals at the same time, trains your body to not have to hold onto weight."
She paid a lot of money to learn structure in her life to help alleviate her food swings, and by sharing it with me she reinforced it in her mind and she helped me remember what I've known. She reminded me that we all struggle with areas in our life (food and otherwise) where structure will help us from swinging from deprivation to compulsion. We can take this structure and map out a plan so that we don't have to be caught in old habits that undermine our well-being.
Pick one area today that you're struggling with "control” or obsession in, and write yourself a plan for structure. Include a small indulgence with regularity within this structure. This will help you feel satiated so that you train your mind and body for abundance. When you have both structure and indulgence you will see that abundance is everywhere. You deserve to feel abundance. When you practice living in abundance and permission to enjoy it in a way that uplifts your body instead of dampening your spirit and health, you will find inner peace, weight-loss, financial stability, relationship success, or whatever it is you want through engaging your cycle of positivity and feeling good about your day to day habits. And revisit what your parents told you. They just might be onto something.
It took a lot of courage for me to stand on stage in my recent Tedx talk and proclaim to be a former stripper. In that Talk I illuminated why I decided to become a stripper at thirty four, but it wasn’t until I read this article in the Washington Post, that I remembered something I wrote about in my memoir, that of being called a “showgirl” initially. Showgirls, in my mind, were beautiful and classy, at least in the eyes of many as written about and espoused here in this article, and the very first Gentleman’s Club I worked in thought so too.
“I got the San Francisco Chronicle and searched the Help Wanted Ads. A few places advertised “showgirls needed, no experience necessary.”
Crystal chandeliers hung high above customers in suits who occupied white-linen draped tables. Women wearing evening gowns and cocktail dresses were everywhere, their faces and jewelry twinkling with reflected lights. The activity and rich details of the surroundings were enthralling.”
Every night I worked was like playing dress up and I felt glamorous within the club. I’d been wanting to be beautiful, and this I did mention in the talk, for most of my life. I even wore a dress to be the Maid of Honor in my sister’s wedding that I thought befitting a Las Vegas Showgirl complete with feathers, years before I went into that Gentleman’s Club.
“Stripper,” was a word it took me many years to embrace because of the shame I’d felt for working as one, and what I thought the word connoted, but I’ve grown beyond the stereotype. The only way I was able to get on the Tedx stage and proclaim I’d been one, no matter what the club wanted us to believe, was because I’d owned the word.
If you have shame about your past, what you’ve done or who you are, write and talk about it with accepting like-minded people. You will learn and grown significantly from your experience, feel beautiful whether you’re in feathers or not, and be liberated. Then you will be truly empowered and you may forget, like I did, the more acceptable story you’d been led to believe or had to tell yourself. You will own your story and be authentic.
For many years before I stepped onto the TEdx Wilmington stage, I thought about giving a Ted Talk, dreamt of doing it, visualized it, took the action to make it happen and like so many things in my life, never imagined how much work it would be!
Unless you’ve experienced it, you can’t imagine it. Tiffany Gwilliam, one of the speakers I shared the Tedx Wilmington stage with on Friday, November 30, labeled the rigorous work, deadlines, speech craft, memorization and all-around pressure as Tedx Brain.
Immediately after my talk, as I sat listening to the speakers who came after me, I was sad. All the brain build up, anticipation, nervousness, adrenaline, and expectation could now disperse and momentarily, my energy dropped. I mentioned this afterwards when I was saying goodby to Ellie Laks, and she said she was filled with so much hope. Hope because she saw there were so many other people in the world trying to do good for the betterment of mankind. That inspired me to rise above my physiological energetic letdown, feel the fatigue of the experience, but also to move forward with commitment and renewed energy. Realizing dreams will do that to a person.
Besides, the brainiac experience won’t go away!
Three days after giving my Tedx talk, “Self Appeal not Sex Appeal to Embrace Your Sexual Body,” and I’m still waking up thinking of my script and reciting it in my head. However, now I have an image of looking out over the crowd to go with the words.
Dreams do come true if you hold them close, pursue them with all your heart, and persevere.
And soon I’ll have the video too! Stay tuned. If you want to learn more about the process read the other blogs I wrote about the experience that are listed on TEdxwilmington.com.
In the morning my cat comes into my office, hops onto the desk and makes her way in from of me. Me, being the cat lover and great cat mom that I am, will put my hand under her belly and her bottom and hoist her onto my chest, up close to my neck, resting on my heart. It’s a place she gravitated towards as a baby kitten, and I immediately felt the connection.
When she’s done being snuggled, when she’s gotten what she needs, she’ll come out of her cuddly coma, and walk away. I can only assume, her need to be close, satiated.
Now, if only I could be as smart as her.
Often I will need that same attention from my husband but it’s taken me many years to recognize it, and although I can ask more easily than I used to, it still takes awareness and effort. Instead, my first reaction is to pout, snort internally about how he doesn’t know what I need, lament to a friend even, anything but walk right up and ask him for what I want.
Then, unfortuanltey, sometimes once I have asked, he doesn’t hear me because I’ve asked in such a way that he’s guaranteed not to. I’ll ask as he’s walking away to do something, or when he’s just home from a hard day of work and needs to unwind, inopportune times like that. This ensures I won’t be heard or get my needs met in the way that I want.
Life continues as a journey of progress not perfection. I keep taking lessons from my cat, who, quite regularly I embarrassingly admit, seems to be far smarter than I am. She comes to me when I’m seated and present, able to give her the attention she wants, reminding me that if I want attention or time with anyone else, I have to go to them when they’re present and sitting too.
Your body will tell you everything you need to know about your existence in this world, if you simply stop to listen to it. If you don’t, it will have to get your attention in other ways.
Today I can no longer run, literally. My third toe, my action toe according to metaphysical websites I’ve been reading, has been damaged. I'm hobbling in a boot, or walking slowly in shoes so as not to aggravate the plantar tear it has. First it was the third toe on my left foot, my creative emotional side. Now, the right is bothering me too. These injuries and this out of balancedness, is forcing me to slow down in order to heal. I have to be in my reality—my truth.
My truth is that I’ve been running my entire life—from fear of
aging complacency monotony myself my feelings my inability to speak my reality
All my running was either to people, substances, or goals I thought would make me:
good alright worthy special known loved better beautiful
But this running took me out of my body, my home—my perfect home. If only I would have seen and honored it that way. Instead, I was never satisfied with it, always trying to fix or distance myself from it.
The saying is “time heals all wounds,” but in the case of your body, that time needs to be supported by attention:
attention to yourself attention to the details of your life and whether they bring you happiness or heartache attention as to whether the details bring you pain or joy
Only you know for sure, but you must know. For your body’s sake.
If you don’t listen to your body of emotions and body of thought, your physical body will get your attention in some way. Then you will have another opportunity to listen. What is your body telling you today? What is your reality saying? How are you going to attend to it?
For a few years I had trigger thumb in both hands. I got two cortisone shots in my left and although the doctor wanted to do surgery on my right instead of giving me a third cortisone shot, I opted for the third shot instead. During that year and a half that I was getting the shots, I worked to “let go” of holding onto control in order to be safe. I began to talk to, trust in, and stay connected to my Higher Power through prayer and meditation. I also started taking curcumin, a health supplement that aids joints. My left thumb has been pain free for about one-and-a-half years and my right approximately one year. My attention to my body along with my mind, healed my thumbs.
I’ve included three weblinks and encourage you to have fun learning what metaphysical and spiritual teachers write about any ailments you have. You don’t have to ascribe to or believe everything you read, and please don’t take on the responsibility of thinking that you’ve caused any ailments. If you believe or find yourself believing in the metaphysical mind/body connection, know that it’s what’s deep within our subconscious mind that will manifest, not what we consciously think or do. Simply stay curious. Stay curious enough to see what’s written. Stay curious enough to want to know what your body is telling you. Stay curious enough to want to stay in and heal your body to the best of your ability. You only get one.
A very good place to start with overall meaning of different areas of the body and what they might be saying
You know that feeling you get when you do or say something and inside your head, “Why did you say that?! Look what you’ve done now?!” starts chattering? It’s as if you start swinging the bat at yourself.
A few weeks ago, I drove to Rehoboth Beach to visit Browseabout Books before my book signing, my first ever. When I found my book on an upper shelf, the lettering on the spine was so small that it was hard to read from my 64 1/2" vantage point. Before my friend took a picture though, she turned my books so they were facing outward. After the picture, we started to walk away. "Aren't you going to turn them back?" I asked. “No,” she said sheepishly, “It might result in a sale." Being a rules girl, I immediately started telling myself I was doing something wrong. The bat came out. Just a few short days after that incident I confessed that I felt God was going to come down and smite me when I do self-promotion on social media. Smite!? I never use the word smite.
No matter how old we get we are prone to revisit old feelings we haven’t resolved from our childhood. The good news is that we don’t have to stay in them and each time we acknowledge and listen to them, they lose their power to clobber us.
When your recurrent “wrong” or “bad” feelings start playing:
Sit still long enough to know what they are.
Think about or write them down to find their origins and what they’re really telling you.
Get them out of your body through your voice. Do this through talking to someone about them or through an audio recording that you can listen back to. In this way your adult self gets to acknowledge your younger self.
My using the word smite was a clear indication that the “wrong” feelings are from my childhood and my religious upbringing, not my conscious adult self of today. I was never smitten by God, the batter struck out. Instead, I was proud of my perseverance and had a feeling of being smitten with my courageous self. It’s been at least twelve years from writing the start of my book to being able to stand in a book store and proudly talk about it with complete strangers. It was my dream. The two “shouldn’t-have-said-or-done-that” feelings I describe here barely registered a blip on my self-image brain waves. I acknowledged them and moved on. In years past they stopped me for weeks, months, even years.
There is no otherworldly presence that is going to come down and smite you. All the smiting comes from inside yourself, so what’s your dream? What do you need to do in order be smitten with yourself? When you find that answer and keep moving toward it, no matter what your self-image or negative internal chatter says, you too will become truly smitten with your courageous self. Then the umpire in your head will be able to yell, “Batter out!”
Too often we women discount our knowing because we don't value or have confidence in our truth, but you can learn to treat yourself like the precious gem you are.
My husband and I recently traveled to Wisconsin and back in a rented mini van to visit my parents and bring home a loveseat and treadmill they were giving us. Not intending to stop along the way, I’d packed enough food to feed an army for a week. The few stops we did make to fill up with gas and use the restroom were quick. Even Bart and Hollie, our dogs, had to “take care of business” in a hurried-up fashion.
As is usual, I wore all my rings but while traveling took them off and put them in the holder in the door armrest. Each time we stopped I put them all on before I got out of the vehicle.
Somewhere in Ohio, heading east along route 80, we had to make our umpteenth pitstop to stretch our legs and fill up the car with gas. I grabbed the rings. One dropped. It’ll be on the floor when we stop, I thought as I put the rest on my hands.
When we stopped I opened the door slowly. I didn’t see it in the gap between the step up and the door and didn’t hear it fall on the ground.
I stepped out and searched the floor. I didn’t see it there either. Joe came around and looked inside as well as outside. I stepped out, shook myself a bit, still didn’t hear it fall and decided it was safe to walk to the bathroom along with all the other 4th of July holiday travelers.
When I returned Joe said he’d looked through everything on the passenger-side floor again, but still didn’t see it. I took everything out of my junky purse thinking it must have fallen inside. It didn’t.
By this time, we were done at the gas pump and Joe wanted to move the van. Less than a hundred yards away while Joe walked the dogs, I looked again through the plastic bag that I’d been using for trash, carefully feeling the old banana peel and discarded yogurt cup. I felt along my computer carrying case. Perhaps it’d gotten stuck on a zipper pull. I gently shook out the crumpled green shirt that had fallen to my feet and been stepped on. I looked even closer at the floor mat. I felt and looked under the seat, moving it back and forth a couple times along it's mechanical rails. Nothing.
While doing this I realized the floor was a vinyl mat with slots where the seat legs inserted to be bolted to the van floor. I couldn’t imagine the ring falling into one of those slots, they were nowhere near where the ring had dropped, nonetheless, I wiggled my fingers between the mat and floor. I came away with nothing but two bloody gouges on my hand.
“It has to be in here,” I said to Joe after he returned from searching the area where’d we’d first opened the car door and gotten gas.
I was reluctant to leave, but Joe wanted to get back on the road. As the miles away from the rest area grew, I asked, “Do we even know where that rest area was?” “No,” Joe replied. I reassured myself with nervous talk and anxiety-filled chatter. Joe said, “Maybe I should have waited for the other vehicle to move” as he rethought his quick check back where we’d filled the gas tank and first opened the door. “It’s gotta be in here still,” I hopefully reiterated.
“We’ll take the van to the body shop and have them take the seats out,” I seriously joked, “if we don’t find it.” I doubted my reality, my knowing that it really was there. I was very afraid that my engagement/wedding ring set I’d had for over ten years was gone forever.
Seventeen hours after we’d left our home in Delaware, arriving in the dark, I said, “We’re leaving everything in here. Nothing comes out.”
The next morning Joe went out and looked in the van again. He shook his head at my still-sleep brain.
Blurry eyed, wearing a scowl, chastising myself with recrimination and self-doubt, yet hoping with all my heart, I walked outside in my pajamas, went to the van, and crammed my fingers into those tiny openings again where the seats bolted to the frame. In every crack and crevice I tried to see and feel. “I need a flashlight,” I yelled and went in for one. Moving the seats again I shined that light into the openings I’d just forced my fingers into. When I moved the seat forward on it's rails, I saw a new opening and wiggled my fingers into that one too. I pulled the floor mat up as far as I could, contorted my body, shone the light inside, and peered into the tiniest opening yet.
“I found it,” I yelled to no one. Joe was in the house. “I found it,” I yelled again as I reached into that tiny opening and stretched to dislodge it enough to pull it out with one finger. “I found it,” I said again while standing up. I turned to the house, Joe walked out. “I found it,” I said again—then burst into tears.
In my husband’s arms I cried tears of relief for finding this symbolic treasured item. I cried tears of relief for validation of my own reality. I knew it was in there, but time and fear had overtaken my knowing.
We, YOU, know what you know. Yet, too often, you second guess your decisions, let someone else talk you out of it, talk yourself out of it, or sadder still, are so disconnected from your body that you don’t know what your truth is.
Your knowing lives in the still quiet place inside your body but you have to slow down enough to be connected to it and hear it. Once you hear it, you have to accept it and this is far easier to do once your body (physical, emotional, psychological) is accepted as it is. After all this, you then have to trust what you know before you can begin to speak up about it in a way that others will hear.
Losing my precious diamond ring filled with history, hope, promise and love, taught me more about self-trust. But you don't have to lose something to learn this lesson. Knowing, trusting, then living your reality is born of self-knowledge and self-acceptance.
Stop for five minutes today and just listen to what your body and mind are saying.
Accept whatever it is.
Do it again tomorrow.
Set a timer on your phone to go off at the same time every day to do this.
Do this until it becomes a habit and your brain just remembers.
Increase the time.
Be on the lookout for miracles.
Your body and mind will thank you. YOU will thank you. And then not only any diamonds or precious stones you wear will sparkle, but you will sparkle as well. Because, after all, you and your internal knowing are precious too.
What do you do when you look into the mirror? Do you smile at yourself and realize how awesome you are? Or do you stare into your reflection and lament about how you used to look and pick out imperceptible flaws that only you can see when you focus on them intently?
If you're like me, usually you do the latter.
Recently my husband and I were at a gathering and from someone who’d been married for a very long time,I was reminded of the phrase, "Bless you, Change me." Now, this is a healthy thought to adopt when it comes to relationships with other people, especially love relationships because too often we try to change someone else which is impossible and only leads to strife. However, it's also a good remembrance for those times you look into the mirror and berate yourself.
The “Bless you,” is for the reflection you're seeing, the external you. You’re blessing your ego who’s trying to "look good" or acceptable so others will love and not abandon you. The you who wants to fit in and be liked. The "Change me," is your discussion with your brain, your mind that controls what you see. The mind that tells you on a low confidence day, that you're not enough the way you are.
So, all the way around, "Bless you, Change me," is a healthy mantra to adopt in any relationship. Even the relationship with yourself. After all, the same struggle that you find in relationships when you’re trying to change someone, will occur within yourself when you’re trying to change the external you who, through genetics or aging, can’t be changed. The same push back you feel when you try to control someone else’s actions and they rebel, will be set up within yourself. And, since all relationships start with the relationship you have with yourself, more harmony and peace will be found in your entire life, all your relationships, when you start with yourself.