The Kids are Alright Fall 2017

My body is not your privilege

At the end of each semester, my body image students write a process paper where they synthesize their learning- both personal and academic- for the semester. These papers are always a delight to read and there is so much wisdom in them that I just have to share a fraction of it (with my students’ permission, of course) with you. Here, some wise words from my students this semester. May they give you hope and inspiration the way they did me.   

It dawned on me that while people do in fact experience moments or thoughts of discontent with their bodies and image as a whole, it is not and should not be okay to feel that way. I realized that society has conditioned us to search for flaws in our physical and emotional being, and to essentially change who we are to fit the “norm” and “ideal” manufactured by companies and industries looking to make money. We are told we should love our hair, skin, and personalities for what they are- but fed propaganda that tells us otherwise. The beauty industry churns out ads that tell us “sure, you’re pretty, but if you use X skincare and makeup you’ll be beautiful and everyone will want you!” Realizing this is a reality and not an abstract idea was absolutely infuriating and disheartening. I am a self-proclaimed feminist, and feel as though I have a positive body image- yet I still feed into the cycle of buying expensive products to conform to the manufactured “ideal woman.” I examined my own motives for buying into that image- and I’ve found that I spend much less money on the latest hair products, skin care, and ignore fad diets more than ever. I evolved my thinking from an individual perspective to more of a collective one, and spend less time nit picking at things I don’t like about myself. I instead spend time picking apart the negative feelings I have about my body, and reconfiguring them into a positive way. I’ve conditioned myself to be more accepting of my body and my personality, and am unapologetic. I make an effort to project that onto others; I no longer laugh when people make fat jokes, or comment on someone else’s body. I correct my friends when they make negative comments about their body, and I try to encourage them to evaluate why they feel the way they do.   Megan

One thing I really love about myself, and it is something I have had to learn to do, is I say what I mean. Women tend to beat around the bush when it comes to men in fear of saying something that is to upfront for them and will cause them to run away. I don’t care if they run. My body is not your privilege, and it never was. What happened to me wasn’t theirs to take. My body isn’t anyone’s but my own, meaning I dictate what it does, where it goes, and if it is with anyone, who.  Jordyn

When someone compliments you, you have the chance to bask in the light, and accept it without saying anything.  When someone makes a negative comment about their appearance, you have the chance to help bring them up and let them know that what everyone else sees is in fact beauty.  When you place your negative self-views on others, you can potentially hurt them for a lifetime… It is pertinent that we know how to correctly compliment others, help keep the beauty remarks flowing, and believe in ourselves from day one.  Caroline

visionSPARK early bird discount ends Friday!


Registration for visionSPARK 2018 is open! Do you want an profound opportunity to intentionally reflect on 2017, embrace your intention for 2018, and create a vision board that will inspire you? Join me at visionSPARK 2018. Use the code EARLY to receive a $10 discount off your registration until December 1st.

Spark Her Life TODAY!

Today is Giving Tuesday, a national day of philanthropy meant to provide our nonprofit community with meaningful support during the holiday season. As many of you know, I am the Founder and Board Chair of Circle de Luz, a nonprofit with a mission to radically empower young Latinas through extensive mentorship, holistic programming, and scholarship funds that support post-secondary education.

This year, we are thrilled to be a part of the #GivingTuesdayCLTmovement! Our goal is to raise $10,000 so that we can offer over 60 programs this year to our 34 members and their families. Would you please take a moment to celebrate Giving Tuesday, this holiday season, and our important work by making a contribution to our campaign? Any amount is so helpful in getting us to our goal and makes a profound difference in the lives of our girls! Thank you so much!

Letting go of our ghost lives

I have been thinking a lot lately about ghost lives-those unchosen paths that sometimes haunt us later when the life we are living gets harder or uncomfortable. Maybe it is because I just had a birthday and my life has turned out dramatically different then I imagined 1/2 a life ago.
Hello 44!

Hello 44!

What if I had stayed with him?
What if I had moved to Boulder or Heidelberg or Tuscany?
What if I traveled with my favorite band as a roadie for a year before starting my career?
Once we conjure up a ghost life (often as a distraction in the midst of whatever hard thing we’re dealing with), it haunts us. Making us ache for a thing that never was, allowing us to convince ourselves that it would have unfolded just the way we imagine it.
But that’s the thing about ghost lives. They happen in a vacuum. They can unfold only as we imagine them and we are too naïve/innocent/hopeful to put in the stuff of life-a cancer diagnosis here, addiction there, gripping depression, a financial curveball. Ghost lives, if we allow ourselves to go there, will always appear better than what we chose because we are rewriting the script, Hallmark movie style (and I should know because Hallmark movies are my jam). Ghost lives are not just in our rearview mirror. They are funhouse mirrors, a disproportionate tease away from our reality and our truth.
Have you had a ghost life haunting you lately? If so, I want you to acknowledge it that it has taken up residence and deliberately let it go. Because here is the thing-the life you have right now is the one you fought for, the one you saw value in choosing before life happened and life happening is completely normal, it is what is meant to teach us our most profound lessons. There is no need to look back and reimagine what might have been. Even if you don’t know your next step, even if you can’t see your progress at just this moment, even if it feels like your path is unclear, what is most meant for you is here right now, aching to be seen or realized as you chisel it to the surface.
You are doing just fine. You are right on time. There is a reason why you have made the choices you have made. There is a reason why life happened in this way. You may not yet know what is next but you should always know that you decide what to give, keep, change, manifest. You practiced such courage to get here, sweet friend. You do not deserve to be haunted.

Announcing visionSPARK 2018

SPARK copy
I am so excited to announce that registration for visionSPARK 2018 is now opened!  Do you want a profound opportunity to intentionally reflect on 2017, embrace your intention for 2018, and create a vision board that will inspire you?  Then join me at visionSPARK 2018. Use the code EARLY to receive a $10 discount off your registration until December 1st.  Learn more at the links below.

Your Gift to Yourself

Boundary Setting

So, here we are.  If you are stateside, we are just days away from kicking off the most wonderful time of the year… the Thanksgiving to New Year time-span that is filled to overflowing with togetherness, love, goodness, merriment, joy, happiness, and, well, if we are being real here, anxiety, hurt, and fear.  Because while, in theory, we all love to get together with those we love, there can also sometimes be this little (or looming) underbelly of worry that we can’t help but wonder about as we load the car with suitcases, brown-paper packages, and carefully prepared casseroles.  And the voice of that worry likes to ask these questions:

Is my cousin going to ask why I am still single?

Is my mom going to ask me if I’ve lost weight, gained it, thought about losing some, thought about gaining some, or some other body shaming nightmare?

Is my aunt going to say, “you would be so pretty if…”

Basically, in short, is someone, under the auspices of loving me, going to make me feel utterly unlovable with their judgments?  And, more importantly, am I going to let them?  Am I going to walk away from that dinner, stuffed from food that couldn’t satisfy the wound that was opened with those words, and think, “I SHOULD HAVE SAID SOMETHING!”  Am I going to feel betrayed not just by my loved ones but, perhaps most tragically, by me?

And, so, in the midst of all of your other preparations for the big day next Thursday and all the other big days that are to come in the next five weeks, I want you to add one more thing to your list of preparations.  I want you to add planning to take care of you to that list.

Now, there are many ways that we can take care of ourselves and those are all important.  But, today, we are focusing on the one thing you must be able to do this holiday season to get through it with your soul safely intact if you have people in your life who like to “take care of you” by taking you apart.

You have to teach people how to treat you.  

We do this by setting boundaries. So, sometime in the next week, while the pumpkin bread is baking or the laundry is drying or you are wrapping presents or idling in traffic, I want you to turn your attention to taking care of you.  I want you to think about what you might hear from your family members that might result in a wound for you if you aren’t vigilant.

“Isn’t it time to start dying those grays?”

“That baby is five years old; shouldn’t you be rid of the baby fat?”

“Do you dress this way to work?”

And then, first and foremost, I want you to remember that those comments are never about you.  If someone feels the need to comment to you about your looks, your station in life, anything, really, it is not about you.  Those comments are a mirror into that person’s life and the challenges he or she has with the issue being mentioned.  I promise.  If you take just a moment to think about it, you’ll see that, too.

But, next, I want you to take it a step further.  A wound person often looks for a way to pass that wound on.  Think about it.  A wound like that is so hard to carry around, it is so bone-crushing.  And, sometimes, if we can give it away for a moment, if we can just take the edge off of our own misery for a moment, well that feels a little like relief (though it isn’t actually relief).  It’s only later, with counseling or deliberate insight and personal growth, that we can realize that it wasn’t relief at all.  It was a way to numb ourselves.  We numb in so many ways, don’t we?  With food.  With alcohol.  With substances.  By being snarky and bitchy and mean.  We numb because we think the worst thing possible would be to face ourselves, to be vulnerable, to be real- we think that realness, that admission of imperfection is as bad and painful as it gets.  But I promise you this.  No one who has a healthy relationship with themselves has ever looked at another person who stands real in the midst of their vulnerability and said “that looks weak.”  Look carefully.  From where I am sitting, vulnerability, realness, truth?  They all look a lot like courage.  Until we give up the myth that both perfect and imperfect exist, we’ll keep missing the real truth: there is no perfect, there is no imperfect, there is only glimmering, vulnerable, soul-refreshing realness and its polar opposite.  And the polar opposite is wounded and wounds others.

And those who wish to wound look for the most vulnerable target- a target they know who will not see their barb for what it is and a target who will quietly accept it- in their desperate desire to pass off their own pain for a moment.  For your empathy and sympathy and politeness (oh, they won’t make a scene!), you are being targeted.

But that doesn’t have to be your role anymore.

Spend some time thinking about what you typically hear from those who are wounded that you might see and then come up with two comebacks.

#1  The comeback that would most satisfy you if you could just say whatever you wanted to say which might look a little like this:

Your mom:  ”Honey, don’t you think you would just be so much happier if you just lost 20 pounds?”

You:  ”Mom, don’t you mean that you would be so much happier if I just lost 20 pounds?”  or “I would actually be happier if you didn’t always think my body was up for grabs.”

#2  The comeback that you can legitimately stomach giving– one that will set a boundary, one that will teach the person how to treat you, but one that will not send you to the bathroom for the duration of the get-together because you are so nauseous over delivering it.

Your mom:  “Honey, don’t you think you would just be so much happier if you lost 20 pounds?”

You:  “I actually don’t think you have to lose weight in order to be happy” or “This isn’t a productive conversation for us to have.”

Sometimes, comeback #1 and comeback #2 are the same but what I have found is that if you are a person who has spent your life receiving these barbs, it is very hard to go from receiving them and not saying a word to really strongly zinging the person the next time he or she says something.  Moreover, a big zinger isn’t the key difference maker.  Just identifying the boundary for the person you are interacting with and letting he or she know it has been crossed and you won’t be quiet anymore usually goes a very long way.  Very rarely does it take more than just a handful of times of setting that boundary before the person leaves you alone and either chooses to deal with their own stuff or moves on to, unfortunately, another victim.

Boundary setting is hard, hard work.  But it is important work.  Not just because it teaches other people how to treat us, but because it also shows us that we can take care of ourselves.  And when we begin to understand that, everything changes.  Maybe that can be this year’s holiday miracle.

This is your holiday gift to yourself:  taking care of you.  I promise it will be one of the best ones you have ever received.

Love Your Body. Love Your Soul.

Wednesday, October 18, is LOVE YOUR BODY DAY, a day established by the NOW Foundation to remind each of us that our value is not measured by our willingness to embody beauty standards.
In celebration and solidarity, I am sharing The Body Warrior Pledge, from Day 2 of Beautiful You, to inspire you to make a conscious commitment to be  your own self-acceptance champion.
The Body Warrior Pledge
Take a moment to read through this pledge and embrace one of these tenets that can most profoundly offer you peace right now if you set your intention around moving towards more fully embracing it.  As you need to, return to this guidance, reminding yourself that you can, indeed champion you.

Help Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico

As many of you know, Puerto Rico, a United States Commonwealth, was devastated by Hurricane Maria.  My family is from Puerto Rico and aid and recovery are slow.  Many had stockpiled supplies to last them weeks but those weeks are now drawing to a close and grocery stores are not restocked, cash is hard to get, and there’s really not much hope in sight if we wait for the government to work it out.
I believe that the most profound way that we can support our Puerto Rican neighbors is directly, person to person, so I want to share two Amazon Lists whose supplies will go directly to affected communities and help families that are having a hard time receiving aid otherwise.
If you would like to help families in the Quebradillas area, you can select items from this list. 
If you would like to help families in the Aguadilla area, you can select items from this list.
The recipients are family members and are committed to sharing supplies with their neighbors to help them all endure the tragedy of this natural disaster.
Thank you so much for your love, light, and support!

Take gentle care

  It is hard right now, friends. So hard, I know. But I do believe there is more light than darkness, that lightness can extinguish the dark, and that we can make more light. We are in this together. We can make way. Hug your people. Reach out to those far away. Ask your representatives for what you believe we need. Make your love visible. Shine light. Together, we can do powerful things.
But there’s one more piece to shining your light.  You have to take care of yourself.
At times like these, we often go into chronic vigilance. We take in as much information as we can so that we are informed, and aware and we do as many things as we can to help the situation which is incredible in many important ways but if we only stay in this gear, we cannot sustain it. Since every single one of us is necessary for the world’s healing, we need to take care of ourselves. Please make sure that you are practicing self-care in abundance.
Your self-care actions don’t have to be huge. Tiny little moments of care- stretching, taking a break from the media for a little bit, plenty of water, a walk around the block, journaling, time with a pet, hugging someone, pausing to eat, etc. All these things nourish you. Taking time to sustain yourself offers all of us sustenance over time. Every day, as you do what you must, understand that taking care of you is a must too.

Take gentle care, dear friend.

Living whole-hearted

Many people have come this way in the last few days because of my recent talk as part of the Self-Acceptance Summit so I want to share a post from a few years ago that details the Whole-Hearted Continuum I created for myself to promote more whole-hearted decisions that promote a self-acceptance practice that is rooted in the fact that I am enough (we all are!) just as I am not and not because of how many things I do or how many times I say yes to other people.  If this post lights you up and you want some advice on saying no, check out Talking You Into No and How to Say No!


not saying no to yourself


I believe that the world is full of need.

I believe that we are all here on purpose, that each one of us has a fundamental gift to give that is essential to healing this world.

I believe that it is imperative that we live our purpose.

I believe that by living our purpose, we heal the world and ourselves.

I believe that because we are here on purpose, we have to get really clear about what we say yes and no to because we only have so much time available to us to do the work that we are meant to be doing in this world.

I believe far too many woman say yes to far too many things, spreading themselves too thin to have the impact they not only want to have but need to have.

I believe it is time to change that.

I believe that we must say no in order to say yes.

I believe the time is now.

Let’s do it.

The Wholehearted Continuum

For years, I had two standards for  whether or not I said yes to a commitment.

1.  Was I technically available?  By that I mean, was the time of the commitment itself open in my calendar?  If so, I quickly moved to standard #2.  I didn’t think about whether or not I would have to break land-speed records to get to my next commitment or whether or not I had the time to do the prep work.  If the time itself was available, then that was enough for serious consideration (by which I mean, time to ask myself question # 2).

2.  Could I technically do it?  Note that I did not say ably.  So, was the question whether or not I could participate in the school bake sale or car wash?  Well, if the time was available, I couldn’t deny that those things were things I could technically do it.  I didn’t ask if they were things that I derived any pleasure from, if there were others who might be better at it or anything like that.  As long as you weren’t asking me to fix your car engine or cure cancer, I could probably technically do it (even if the it in question was something I didn’t like doing) and so as long as my calendar was open, I said yes.

And then, sometimes, the dread began.  I didn’t want to do the prep work.  I didn’t want to leave my boys (the big one and little one).  I didn’t want to get dressed to go or do my hair.  And then I would go and have a lovely time and, on the way home, I would say, “See!  You had such a lovely time.  You have the worst attitude ever.  You should improve it.”

But, eventually, I had this breakthrough thought:  I have a lovely time wherever I end up.  I am kinda wired to have a good time.

That a-ha moment along with another one that came when I realized that I was putting off all of these projects that were so heart-centered to me in order to make times for these invitations that I was getting to participate in things that were heart-centered for someone else made me realize something:  I wasn’t living my life purpose.  I was defusing it.

And I needed a new standards for discerning whether or not I said yes or no to an invitation.  No longer were my two questions– am I technically available and can I technically do it- enough.

So I asked myself how I wanted to feel when I was doing something.  The answer?  WHOLEHEARTED.  I really, truly wanted to be in with my whole heart.

Then I asked myself what wholeheartedness looked like for me.  Turns out: being happy to be there wasn’t enough.  The wholeheartedness, for me, needed to start much earlier.  And so I created The Continuum of Wholeheartedness for myself to better discern when and why I should yes or no to a request (when my calendar was really open).

Exercising the Continuum of Wholeheartedness

First, I need to be thrilled to be asked.  You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when someone asks you to do something that doesn’t sound all that appealing to you (and you start thinking, as you scroll through your calendar, please let it be that I am not available).  Yeah, that feeling is NOT thrilled to be asked.  If I have that feeling from the outset, I have to say no.

Next, I need to be happy to prepare.  So, let’s say that someone asks you to do something that you really are genuinely thrilled they thought of you to do it. Now, move to the next standard.  Do you have room in your heart, mind, and schedule to prepare for it?  If the prep work is going to leave you ragged at this particular time, and make other parts of your life hard (you have to stay up late, wake up early, skip workouts or other self-care or even alter important commitments you have made to others), then you have to say no.  When you are operating wholeheartedly, the prep work will feel thrilling, even if it is a stretch for you.  If it doesn’t thrill, don’t do it.

The third standard is a good tell for me.  Will I be alright with getting ready for the experience and leaving my peeps to go?  I like being with my boys.  I like wearing my crazy curls on top of my head.  I like wearing slouchy jeans and blousy shirts and looking like a bit of an in process artist.  A lot of places that I am invited to don’t exactly call for that look.  So, am I cool with cleaning things up a bit and saying good-bye to my peeps to go.  If I am, then I totally know that it is wholehearted.

The fourth standard is one that is important to ask but, to be honest, never the one to base MY answer on– will I be joyful while I am there.  The truth is that I am joyful MOST wherever I end up.  But not everybody is and that is not even true for me everywhere (I will never be joyful in a great big event designed for networking) so I ask myself that question.  Can you see yourself feeling joy while you are fulfilling this commitment?  If the answer is eh, maybe or no, then your answer needs to be no.

The fifth standard is inspired by a friend of mine who will compliment a hard-worker by saying, “Oh, she’s a trash mover!”  I once asked her what she meant by that and she said, “There are two kinds of people after an event. There is the kind of person who is totally engrossed in cleaning up.  She’s carefully folding the linens, making thoughtful stacks of what goes where and isn’t afraid or above taking out the trash.  Then there is the other person who stands around and talks and acts above it all.”  I don’t know about you, but I want to be a trash mover and it is a good litmus test.  Being a trash mover requires BIG BUY-IN.  So when I think about this standard, I am inclined to ask myself, “Can I see myself being as excited to clean up after this commitment as I am setting up?”  If yes, then yes.  If no, well, then no.

And then there is standard number six: excited to bask in the afterglow.  Will you be peeling out of the parking lot asap, putting the commitment in your headlights, trying never to think about it again or will you be like, “wow. Wow. WOW.” afterwards.  Will your mind be percolating?  If you anticipate, percolation, then yes is best.  No percolation?  You know what to do.

The Continuum of Wholeheartedness has worked wonders for me.  It has made me think more deliberately about how to use the finite amount of time and energy I have available to me and has made me more discerning about when I say yes.  The great reward to that is that I am able to live even more on purpose and when I live on purpose, I actually make a greater difference in this world?

Can you see The Continuum of Wholeheartedness working for you?