Sunday, July 13, 2014

Body love baby steps... a 7 day challenge.

I was thinking today about how when it comes to body love, body acceptance... sometimes just plain I don't want to hate my body anymore... you have to start where you are.  

For many of us, where we are is that we're not even walking around this planet 'present' in our bodies.  That can happen for all kinds of reasons.  Whether it's long ago trauma, current day abuse, ordinary stress, or having derogatory comments hurled at you as you walk down the street we have disconnected from our bodies and we're completely numb to our feelings.  It seems safer that way.  And numbing out begets numbing out.  

I had a total eye opener one time when I was listening to Brene' Brown talk about how we can't just selectively numb our feelings.  We don't get to just numb the unpleasant ones.  When we numb pain, guess what... we also numb joy.

I don't want to live in a world without joy in my life.  So, I have to start where I am on any given day.  That's all any of us can do.  The mountains we have to climb usually feel way too big to start anywhere other than where we are in this moment.

So this week, I'm offering up a 7 day challenge.  Let's get purposefully present in our bodies each day this week.  You can use the suggestions I'm offering, or come up with ones that fit for you.  But what's required is that you spend a few minutes, with intention and focus, paying attention to how your body feels doing something.  Below are some suggestions.  Please post your own.  Bonus points if you post a pic of yourself doing whatever it is you're doing!

Swing your hips- put on some music that moves you and let it... well, move you.
Luxuriate in bed naked.
Go for a skinny dip, or a chunky dunk.
Fill a bath with something bubbly and have a soak.
Snuggle down and take a nap.
Enjoy an orgasm.
Work up a sweat doing something outdoors.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

How important are you?

Years ago when I was losing 100 pounds (and before I found it again) I had a very smart mentor who said that people often asked her how to get motivated.  Her reply was that getting 'motivated' isn't what you need to do.  What you need to do is get 'important'.  That stuck with me over all these years.

How important are you?  I know why you take your kids to soccer.  I know why you make a healthy snack when it's your week to be classroom Mom.  I know why you work late to finish that project for your boss.  You do all that because it's important.  Those commitments are important.   

What slides on your list when life gets hairy?  I'd be willing to bet it's you.  If you are like most women a lot of things on your to do list that feel like they outrank you in terms of importance.  If you're finding that you are struggling with being 'motivated' to lose weight, exercise, save money, get organized... whatever it is... ask yourself when you're going to get important.  And then listen for the answer.

This little bit of wisdom has worked for me every time I come back to it.  When I get important, I go to bed early once in a while.  I make sure that I make a nice salad for dinner more often than not.  I make time for a relaxing bath where I soak as long as I want to.  When I am not important, I give away everything I have.  I give away every bit of energy, every bit of emotion, every bit of nurturing.

I am important.  When I give it all away, I have nothing left to give to myself or to anyone else.

Join me in a challenge... why don't we work on this?... lets shorten the period of time where we allow ourselves to forget that we're important.  No one is perfect, we will forget (I forget all the time!).  We will also have periods of time that we have to focus on others at the expense of ourselves... but if we shorten those periods and lengthen the others we're bound to make some headway.

How will you know when you 'get important'?  What looks different?  Please share in the comments or on our facebook page here.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Lifting up women and girls... what have you done today?

My heart is full today.  It's been a wonderful month in which I have been blessed with a larger than ordinary number of opportunities for self renewal.  A lovely, unplugged week in Hawaii with my husband was followed by a truly special retreat for women called Brave Girls Camp.  Today I was able to be in a room full of women leaders in my community to hear Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chavez speak about the importance of funding and volunteering for organizations like ours that support and advocate for girls.

When talking with Anna Maria today, she shared with me that the Girl Scout Research Institute has brand new, not yet published research that shows Arizona 49th for girls living in poverty.   We can't really afford to wait any longer to do something about it.  Following that conversation Anna  delivered an inspiring call to action.  We must stand together to raise a generation of leaders or we will face an empty leadership pipeline when we need it most.

I remember a Pete Seeger quote about how lucky we are that the world is so screwed up... because that means it's never been easier to make a real difference in the lives others.  It's funny and it's certainly true that it's easy to make a difference in the lives of women and girls.  Yes, you can share your time, treasure and talents with great organizations like Girl Scouts, but it's even easier than that.

You can begin to lift other women and girls up by such radical actions as shutting down fat talk when you hear it starting around the office or the locker room.  Whenever you hear people commenting on the personal appearance of female political candidates, you can challenge it.  When you hear a young girl say she 'can't do it', you can remind her that instead of "can't" it's probably more likely that she just doesn't know how yet.  These simple but out of the ordinary actions compounded by those of others raise the boats of all women.   We must find ways to make that happen.  Girls and women can't wait any longer.  Girls in Arizona and girls halfway around the world... they can't wait any longer.

You get to choose what you will do to help lift up women and girls... but we all need to you choose to choose.  Think about it.  What can we count on you for?  Post in the comments what you commit to do.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beautiful You... a place to be. (remember 'being'?)

At Beautiful You we're working toward some pretty big goals.  We're working to build an online community where women engage and support each other through interactions in online forums, via social media channels and in person at an amazing retreat experience.

We're all making our way through our lives the best we can.  We need a place to learn and practice new skills. A safe place to take a good look at our lives, acknowledge what works and to support us as we bless and release what doesn't serve us any longer.  We want this to be a place for all of us to be, become and belong.

Let's talk about 'being'.   Most of us work, take care of partners, families.  We volunteer in our places of worship, schools, community organizations.  Often we put our own needs, wants and deepest desires away somewhere.  That's all 'doing'.  We do and do and do- giving away all our energy to others.   I'm no exception, I struggle just like everyone else.   What's left for us?

How do you define for yourself what it is to just 'be'?

How do you recognize when you're lost in doing and not spending enough time in being?

How do you pull yourself out out of doing and back into being?

Share your thoughts in the comments, subscribe to get updates to the blog and see what others are doing in their journey.

Take a little time to 'be' this weekend.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Scrap paper wisdom: 3 steps and a really big question

Here's another bit of wisdom that's been up on my wall for a long time.  Sometimes I have something up for so long that I begin to not even see it any more.   I tend to rotate them and this is one that's been filed away for a while.  I'm glad I found it again!  Maybe it will speak to you.   It's a pretty great bit strategy that works during a fight with my spouse, conflict at work or just when I'm feeling crummy about myself.

Step 1:  What am I feeling?  What are my body reactions?  What am I telling myself about my ability to handle this situation?  What is TRUE of my ability?

Step 2:  What do I want from this situation or for myself?  What is actually under my control?  What is not under my total control?  Am I willing to to accept the situation and my degree of control as it is?

Step 3:  Focus on acting and feeling in a manner that is in your best interest.  What feeling or quality (calm etc) could I express right now that would help me achieve my goal?  What (self talk) would I be thinking if I were actually expressing that quality and getting what I want?  What would I be doing?

And the big hairy question at the end of it all:  Am I willing to do it?

Here's to being willing my friends...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Scrap paper wisdom... part 2 lugging our rocks around with us

Anne Lamott is a beloved author, loved the world over for her profound insights into the everyday.  I have never read any of her books, but I have occasionally read an essay or op ed piece.  One message that hit me like a ton do bricks and has always stuck with me is below.  I'm not sure what work it's been snipped from.

... left to our own devices, we- as a species- tend to lug these big rocks around.  They are the rocks of our concerns.  Everytime we get up, we reach down for our big rock and then we lug it out the door, down the stairs, and roll it into the back seats of our cars.  Then after we drive some place, we open the back door, get out our rock, and carry it with us, wherever we go.  Because it's our rock.  It is very important to us and we need to keep it in sight.  Also, someone could steal it.  Anne Lamott

How silly we are.  Her words are so laughably true.  I see it in myself, see it in others all the time. If only we could literally carry a big boulder around with us, we might give up this nonsense much more quickly than we do (if we do).   These words were posted on my desk for me to see and be shored up by daily for a long time.

These days I try to stop and acknowledge my rocks when I realize that I've been loading them in and out of my car.  It helps me to at lease recognize the ridiculousness of it.  The other thing I try to do is jot these 'rocks of my concerns' down on what ever bit of paper I have around me and put it in my God box as soon as possible.   I first learned about God boxes when I read this article by Mary Lou Quinlan.  I was moved to tears when I finished reading it.  When I have a hard time letting go of something, mentally turning it over and over in my mind... I know I've got to get it on paper and into my God box.  

What are the big rocks you carry around with you?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Scrap paper wisdom... part one

When I took a deep dive into my files this weekend, it was a bit of an archaeological dig.  I keep all kinds of tings for all kinds of reasons.  

I have dozens of handwritten letters- (remember letters?) written by a college friend after we graduated.   

I have a card my Step-Mom sent me with my Dad's shaky signature that is the last expression of love I ever got from him.  

I have a bunch of before/after pictures and other Weight Watchers things that were really important to me as I was losing 100 pounds.  

And I have a bunch of individual pieces of paper with random wisdom on them.  At some point in my life, each of these pieces of paper were taped to my mirror or on the bulletin board above my desk.  They each have touched me, nurtured me or kicked me in the butt. They've been sitting there, unseen by me or anyone else for years.  I'm going to share them here in the hopes that they can again be a blessing to me and to someone else.

First up... this little beauty.  

I am sitting here in the smallest room in my house with your letter of criticism before meSoon it will be behind me. H.L. Mencken.

I have never looked him up before now, but wikipedia says he was an American satirist who was born in 1880.  It's said that Dr. Wayne Dyer used to send this comment to people who sent criticism to him after his early appearances on the Tonight Show and other places.

Thankfully, I can't say I've ever had an occasion to need to actually send it to someone, but I've certainly had the need to say it in my head before.  It's a great reminder that what others think of me is really none of my business.

Perhaps it will be useful to you.  Put it on a sticky and pin it up so you don't forget it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Missing you Momma

It's New Years Day.  We lost Mom completely 2 years ago today, though we'd really begun to lose her long her before that.  Lost her slowly, over a number of years.  They call Alzheimer's Disease 'the long goodbye'.  Having lost not one, but two parents to the disease, I can tell you that's horrifyingly accurate.  

Mom lived a full and beautiful life.  I have many, many wonderful memories.   She was a single Mother.  Scraping by for my brothers and I by working two jobs.  She bought and paid for her own home.  She got her associates degree after age 50.  But even with all her accomplishments, the thing she was proudest of was her three kids and all her grand kids.  Late in life, she would often look around at huge family gatherings and proudly proclaim... 'I'm the Momma of all this'.    Yes, Mom.  You were.

This is one of my favorite pictures of her.  Years into her disease, I took her to a Willie Nelson concert.  She couldn't really tell where she should be looking and she sat much of the time looking at the speaker bank and not the stage.  But, when she closed her eyes, she went to a different time and place.  I'm sure of it.  

I'm thankful for many things we did together, times we spent together.  The year before her diagnosis we went to Italy together.  That trip was such a blessing.

We spent a lot of time together over the next years.  Enjoying many moments small and large.  One of the adventures we took was to record a Storycorps interview for their memory project.  It aired Christmas eve of that year on our local NPR station.  As I prepared my questions for our interview, I tried to focus on questions that I knew my brothers and I would forever be glad we had her answers to... in her own voice.  "Of what are you most proud?"... My Children.  My Children. Forever we can press play and hear Mom's voice, her own words.  You can hear a snippet of the interview here .

I miss you Momma.