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Living Your Word

Epictetus

Happy New Year!

I hope that you have found the space in this new year to discern what you most need from 2018 and to begin to make decisions that support it. Perhaps you defined that need through a word for the year that could serve as litmus test for you as you make choices and create the year and experiences you most want to have. If so, I wanted to share my own journey to living my word in 2018 in hopes it might offer you support as you navigate your own experiences.

After spending plenty of time reflecting on 2017, I realized that what I most profoundly needed at this time in my life was deep nourishment. The last few years have left me physically and emotionally exhausted and leached my effervescence.  My energy levels were really low though I would “mind over matter” my schedule anyways.  In conducting my own end of year and new year  reviews, I found that what I most needed at this moment was stillness, depth, clarity, and a sense of wellbeing. My word for the year?  Nourishment.

To really understand how I might realize a sense of nourishment, the first thing I did was write a list of desires for 2018 and then I followed that by a list of intentions that took those desires and more directly stated them.

For example:

Desire-  Craving actions derived from a surety in my bones.

Intention- Living with wholehearted energy across the spectrum of my life (for those of you who have been following my work for a while, one observation I had was that I was getting away from practicing my Wholehearted Continuum consistently).

Once I had my list of desires and intentions, I made a list of concrete actions that could offer me a profound sense of physical, emotional, and professional vitality. While some of those actions were longer term goals (finish a book proposal for example), some of them were behaviors that I wanted to be doing on a much more consistent basis so I created a daily habit tracker (just a simple grid with the habits I desired on the left and then columns for the days of the month down the right) so I could check them off as I practiced them. Some examples of habits that made the list: at least 7.5 hours of sleep, journaling, reading, movement, 8+ Fruits/Veggies, creating time margin (i.e. did I have some breathing room in my day or make decisions that will allow me breathing room in the future?), creating (art or writing), learning something, quality time with others (as opposed to profound productivity all the time). While about 16 habits were listed, my goal has been to check off at least 8 a day.  My intention is to examine the list at the end of each month and then create the next month’s habit tracker based on what I’ve learned and am moving towards.

And though the year is still new, already I feel a profound sense of relief at the new (slower) pace I have set for 2018.  I know I have said this before but the irony of being more present is that you have to show up (to/for) less (places/responsibilities) to show up more.  While in some ways, my world is becoming smaller; it is beginning to feel more expansive and that feels like a profound relief.

So, if you are looking for ways to support living your word in 2018, here’s what I suggest:

  1. Write a list of your deep desires for 2018.
  2. Given those desires, pen a list of intentions to more concretely guide you.
  3. Shape those intentions into some concrete actions that would help you experience what it is you seek and consider creating a daily, weekly, and/or monthly tracker to keep an eye on how you are living your intentions.  Remember everything can be edited; you don’t have to hold onto any ideas that don’t serve you.
  4. Use your word as a consistent litmus test. “Will this allow me to feel ___________ (nourished, in my case)?” can be a powerful guiding question as you move through your day and choices.

Wishing you a profound sense of nourishment and whatever else you seek in 2018.

Welcoming 2018

Copy of Rosie Molinary copy[1]

Happy New Year, sweet friends.

Above, you’ll see my wish for you (for us) for this new year.

If you are looking for some powerful ways to deliberately bring 2017 to a close and welcome 2018, I wanted to share a few processes that might serve you.

An End of Year Personal Summit

A New Year Personal Summit

Choosing a Word for the Year  

As for me, my summiting has led me through a few fine finalists for word of they year like Transform and Vitality but, ultimately, I have landed on Nourish for my word of the year (because the action that I most need to take is nourishing some areas that I have deemed most important and those choices will ultimately lead to transformation and vitality in the ways that I seek).  What I have found in recent years as I have navigated profound grief, significant life changes, and way too many responsibilities, is that way too much that I value is actually withering and that I give my energy away to too many things that aren’t actually meant for me.  This year, I am focused on nourishing that which I can best serve and nourishing myself and my loved ones so that we may all be delighted and sustained.

Are you choosing a word for the year to guide you?  If so, what’s your word and what do you need from it?

Go. Spill Your Magic… a letter to my students on the last day of class

Go. Spill your magic

Fam,

We can say that right?  That’s how we are, isn’t it?

At the end of all this talk about bodies and the business of beauty, about what we feel and what we want to feel, about what we control and what is out of our control, isn’t the most profound thing we’ve come away with after a semester of walking together completely unrelated to our bodies? Isn’t the most profound thing what we created for ourselves and what we created together?

Here is what I saw and felt each week when we gathered together: over and over again, during every single class—from snack time to lecture, from discussion to welcoming guests—you practiced and lived the two most fundamental truths, the truths that if we embraced as global practices would change everything: you were true to yourselves and you belonged to each other. Here is the truth that it sometimes takes us our whole lives to learn: in the end, all we really have isn’t the stuff we acquire or the accolades we receive or even how we look. What matters—all that matters- are the relationships we have created with ourselves and the love and belonging we offer each other.

Not the superficial type of belonging to ourselves that is still trying to convince us of our worth but the kind of burgeoning self-acceptance that is beginning to really own the truth that we are worthy and enough just as we are. And not the “Hey, I have a class with them” type of belonging to each other but the kind of deep belonging that made you have to snap your fingers when someone said something that you just felt in your soul, the kind of deep belonging that said made you stay up late at night or wake up early in the morning to cook elaborate snacks for your classmates to show your appreciation, the kind of deep belonging that let you tell that secret, the kind of deep belonging that reassured each other across space, the kind of deep belonging that meant you took out your phones and showed each other pictures of your dogs, the kind of deep belonging that listened, rapt and then nodded in recognition.

You saw yourselves. You began to hear yourselves. You decide to make way for something different in your relationship with yourself.

You saw one another. You heard one another. You understood, even if it wasn’t your same story.

And here is what I want you to know.

This magic that you created in your soul and in this classroom was special. But it wasn’t special because it has to be rare.  It is special because so rarely do we dare to source it out of ourselves and offer it to both ourselves and to others. The world and our wounds have scared us away from that. And then you walked into this space, this sanctuary, that you each committed to making safe and holding sacred for not just others but yourselves; when we did that together, we created a world where we each could be who we unequivocally are. This was our formula: decide that this kind of space is what we wanted, offered ourselves in a way that created that kind of space, received what others were offering, and repeat.

So here is what you most know; what I want your growing self-acceptance to reassure you, you are worthy and enough and necessary and you have so much of that magic inside of you that you could make this world shine if you dared. And we are ready for you—for each one of you—to dare. You need your daring and the world needs your daring, too. Go and fill the world with your magic, recreate this space and experience and feeling everywhere and, always, first of all, for yourself.

If this classroom taught you anything, let it be that your unique gifts are a necessity in this world, let it be a delight in your magic, let it be the courage to let this magic out wherever you go, thereby offering your gifts to the world and helping it heal.

You are here on purpose, dear one. And your magic, your purpose has been glimpsed here. Know that it has not just been seen, it has been appreciated, it is necessary, and you both belong wherever you end up and can offer belonging to all those you encounter.

Go. Be brave. Feed your soul. Feed each other. See. Hear. Listen. Understand. Knit us together. Heal our souls. I believe you. I believe in you. Spill your magic.

At the end of each semester, I write my students a letter that is unique to their class.  This was the letter for my body image class this semester.

Want to read some past letters?

Stay woke, dear heart.

The struggle is for you.

You can change us. 

The world is aching for you to show up. 

The world needs your lightness 

We hunger to be known.  

Answer the call into your own greatness 

Radiate Love 

Do the world’s work 

And here is the letter I share with them on the first day of school.  

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.
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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.