Friday, July 14, 2017

Can you put a price on comfort and dignity?

The answer turns out to be YES actually.  I experienced it last week.

Most of us have noticed that in an ever increasing quest for more profitability, airlines have made many changes which leave most travelers longing for the good ol' days of air travel that was more comfortable, more dignified.  For those who are flying while fat... airline travel these days is a whole new level of uncomfortable and undignified.

I love to travel and have had many trips to far off places.  I used to be filled with a sense of excitement and adventure.  These days, when I'm planning air travel, I'm filled instead with a sense of dread about the on board experience.  With each trip, more and more is out of the passengers control.  Recently, airlines have begun to move to a 'basic economy' fare.  Many in the traveling public probably have not even noticed this shift yet because of that sneaky name.  What it means in general is that you don't get a seat assignment until you get to the boarding gate, and once assigned, you have no right/chance to change it or upgrade whatsoever.  Also, you are only allowed 1 carry on item (as opposed to a purse + carry on).  Hello middle seat.

Last week I flew to a speaking engagement out of state.  The company hosting me paid for my flight (in coach).  When I was booking, I realized that for just $300 more, I could fly in both directions in first class.  I did a little math and quickly jumped at the opportunity.  Delta was offering $100 off if I applied for a credit card- which I did... so now my cost was down to $200 extra.  With the first class ticket, I got 2 free checked bags, which was a $75 value in each direction- so $150 total making the actual cost of my upgrade just $50 for this round trip.

Here's the other goodies that I got for that money:

  • 2 carry ons- personal plus 1 extra
  • priority boarding
  • actual courtesy from flight crew
  • checked bags first off plane and into baggage claim
  • a beverage of my choice (including adult beverages) during boarding
  • unlimited beverages of my choice during flight (in a real glass)
  • snack basket passed several times (cookies, granola bars, fresh fruit, nuts)
  • blanket and pillow
  • leg room
  • elbow room
  • longer seat belt
  • no dirty looks from my seatmates because they feel crowded
  • armrest space for both my seatmate AND I
  • entire flight time with my arms at my sides and not crossed over my chest the whole way

So, what do you think?  Well worth the $50 extra?  My answer is a wholehearted YES.  

We shouldn't have to pay extra for comfort and dignity, but the airlines are not going to move backward in time to bigger seats, genuine care and courtesy for all.  And given that... I will work to be a more strategic traveler and look for these deals in the future because I have glimpsed that luxury and don't really want to go back.

Travel smart my friends.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The power and beauty in saying YES

Yes, I will.  Yes, I can.  Yes.

I've been conducting a little experiment with myself in the last few weeks.  It's a challenge for me because I am an introvert by nature.  'Yes' is not my default  I weigh carefully how long it will take me to recover from any instances of 'putting myself out there' and whether the circumstances in my week allow time and space for that recovery

Some fantastic (and frankly fantastical) things have come out of the experiment.  For example, being interviewed as a 'Badass Woman of Tucson'.  I have a pretty healthy self esteem, but I never saw that coming.

As it turns out, saying yes is more than just a short term experiment for me.  The truth is, even though 'yes' is not my default... when I reflect on the many adventures I had in my life,  they all began because I said yes to something that was out of my comfort zone.  Lately, somehow I have been a little stingy with my yes.  Hence my experiment to re-open myself to all the joyful possibilities of life.

Today this video was shared in my Facebook feed by a friend.  If you've got 6 minutes, I've guarantee that it will inspire and open you to the power and beauty that comes when you say yes.  Let me introduce you to the girls and women of Camp Fury.  This is one of the Girl Scout programs of which I am most proud. This camp is led by the elite women in public service in our community.  Girls from all walks of life come together.  By the end of the week, the differences between them have completely disappeared.  In the video you'll see beautiful examples of saying 'yes, I can' and of sistering.  Let me share two examples from when I have visited camp that left me in tears.

One sweltering day, I was sitting in the shade of a fire truck watching the girls rappel on challenge day and I became aware of a small voice above me.  A girl was climbing the fire truck ladder as depicted in this video and she was saying 'I can't do this', 'I'm afraid' with every step she took.  Every single step.  'I can't do it'.  Step.  'I'm afraid'.  Another step.  Over and over.  She 'I can't'ed' herself all the way out to the end of that ladder.  She said yes, and she did it anyway.

And beautiful Kaylene- watch the video and you'll see her at the top of the wall preparing to rappel down.  She was terrified, and she said yes.  By the time she got to the bottom of the wall, all her squad mates (who had been at the top cheering her on), had run down 6 flights of steps to the bottom to receive her there.  You'll see that in the video too.  They completely surrounded her in a hug and they all stood there shaking and sobbing for about 4 minutes straight, never letting Kaylene go.  All of them crying.  And I sat there sobbing as I watched.

What in your life has been waiting for you to say yes?  Won't you take a page from these inspiring girls and do it.  Say yes.  Say yes to yourself and open to the possibilities that all of life has to offer you.  Beautiful things are meant for you.  Surprising things are meant for you.  Good things are meant for you.  Say yes.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Hi friends- please meet my guest blogger and my new friend, Holli Clausen Zehring... I think you'll love her as much as I already do!

I want to offer our community an invitation...

An invitation to not only find peace with your own body and self, but to find a way of living that provides a good model for our children, especially our young girls.

The path to this moment, to this opportunity to come together and engage in new conversations about health, beauty, and body image has been a long one, rooted in my own experiences and the organizations that have grown from them.

My mom will tell you that my own story is what planted the seed for Ophelia’s Place. I was diagnosed with an eating disorder when I was 17.  The eating disorder had taken over my life and left me zero understanding of who I was. My parents found an intensive program here in Arizona, and where I spent 4 1/2 months working on my nutrition, my view of who I am, my identity, and my family dynamics.

It was an incredible time of healing and it radically changed not only me, but my relationship with my mom. As we worked on the environment I was raised in, I talked about my mom and the relationship she had with her body and with food. I talked about all her food rules, like “If you eat standing up you lose weight,” or “Girl Scout cookies don’t count because it’s for a charity.”  I thought it was funny and completely normal. Turns out it may be normal, but it wasn’t funny.

When I told my mom, she was the topic of my therapy that day she was completely blown away and realized that maybe she also needed to look at how she talked about herself and her diet, and what she modeled for me. It was her “aha” moment. I don’t say any of this to place blame or to shame. It was considered “normal” in my family, like it is for so many other families today.

My mom was my biggest role model. As a child, I loved watching her get ready for work. I was in awe of her. I looked at her and saw strength, intelligence, and beauty. She saw cellulite, extra pounds, and wrinkles. None of those things real or imagined made any difference to me, it didn’t take away from who she was, but maybe obsessing about it did.

When I got home from treatment, my eating disorder got bad again. My behaviors came back quickly and my mom, concerned, asked me what was going on. I told her I need a place to be safe, to be heard, and to practice recovery in a inspiring and encouraging space. From that conversation, my mom, MaryEllen, founded Ophelia’s Place. For the last 15 years, they have been working tirelessly to redefine beauty in individuals, families, and communities impacted by eating disorders, disordered eating and body dissatisfaction.

When I was 19 I moved to Arizona and admired the work of Ophelia’s Place from afar. It was my dream to recreate it here. I got married, had 2 children, and saw my husband through medical school, while battling significant depression. As time passed my dream felt further and further away.
Yet, all those pieces actually brought me closer to it. Through these hardships, I continued to see the need. Women frantically working to change their bodies as if they were broken, so much talk about food and weight loss, and diets, and trendy workouts, all the while they were seeking something deeper. I started working on this about 2 years ago. We gathered women around a table, shared a delicious meal and asked “Do you see a need here for a new conversation about health, beauty, and body image?” There was a resounding YES! Every event since then has been filled with tears and pain, but also hope, choices, and transformations.

Hopefully, my daughter, Anna, won’t walk the same path that I did.
Already she demonstrates a great understanding of her body and ownership of the amazing things it can do. When she hears the kind of negative conversations about weight and body image, she finds them unusual enough to check in with me to explore their validity. She’s living what she learns at home.

Join us. Join us in a new conversation. Join us to define beauty on your terms. Join us to better understand what health means, based on your own body's needs. Join us to come back to who you are, instead of fighting for who you are told to be. Discover your gifts, discover your passions, your purpose. Because the world needs you, in your whole beautiful self.

Holli Clausen Zehring

You can find out more about the Circles of Change Conference in Phoenix March 17-18th, 2017 and get registered here!  I hope to see you there!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Oh, I could never spend that much money on myself. Or could I?

Part of the experience of preparing for a women's retreat as a facilitator is to begin early on to prepare space metaphorically for the women who will come.  It's making them welcome and preparing the circle for them before they even know they're coming.  It's part of what goes into the end result where women say "I can't believe how comfortable I felt right away" or "I can't believe I just met these women".

So, right now- 3 months before our Soul Restoration retreat in Tubac, I'm doing that work.  I'm putting a call out there to you, calling you to the circle.  I don't know who you are, but I am calling.  The women who are supposed to hear the call and are ready to respond will do it.  Ask yourself if you hear something whispering at you.  Whispering that your joy has been a little dimmed lately. Whispering that there has to be more to life.  Whispering that you've lost sight of who you used to be.
There are always obstacles.  "I can't leave my work, family, kids, furry kids."  "I could never spend that much money on myself."  "I would feel so guilty."  These things never go away.   There's probably never a convenient time to check out of your life and spend a long weekend lovingly attending to yourself.  Convenient?  Maybe not.  Urgent?  Probably!  You make time for everyone else.  Anyone who has ever been to a retreat will tell you that you will be 1,000 x better prepared to make time for and care for everyone else after you return from a retreat.  It's not a secret.  Ask your girlfriends to see who has been to one.  Ask them if they're sorry they went.  Ask them if it was worth every penny.

Our Soul Restoration retreat is all inclusive.  From the moment you park your car at Kenyon Ranch, you will be taken care of.  Do you even remember what that feels like?  Being taken care of?  There's a warm hug awaiting you if you are open to one.  You'll be shown to your cozy casita where there are fresh flowers on the bedside table and goodies waiting for you.  There's time for a walk before dinner.  Perhaps you'd like to sit on the porch and do some journaling instead or rest your eyes while you lay in the hammock.  Dinner is family style in the ranch house.  Food is lovingly prepared and will nourish your soul as much as it does your body.  In the evening we'll meet in the lodge to begin to know each other and start our course.  Chilly? Let us get you a cozy blanket.  Have a headache or a tummy ache?  We're prepared for that and can get you something to help.  We'll finish our evening in the art room working on a little piece of wearable heart art.  The next days are filled with soul work, sharing, singing, making art that fills us up.  You'll be gently guided in all that we do.  And don't worry that we'll be keeping you busy non-stop... we've built in down time as well.  You might choose to have a swim or a soak in the hot tub.  Perhaps you might like to take a walk on the labyrinth in the moonlight.  It's a magical experience.  Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, whether you make friends easily or not, you'll love the women assembled.  I've done this dozens of times and I've never seen it work out any differently.  That's a pretty good basic description of the experience but doesn't even begin to describe the amazing Soul Restoration Course itself nor the incredible location.

There's no physical thing I could buy with my money that does all that for me.  No bag, or manicure brings me the same feelings.  Retreats can be expensive.  Although it may be more than you're used to spending on yourself at one time, this one, at $1,100 is in fact, a bargain.  Even more so if you take advantage of early registration discounts.  Your shared accommodations for all three nights are included. Eight meals, all snacks and beverages are included.  The art materials, supplies and instruction are all included.  Your beautiful materials for Soul Restoration are all included.  Unlike some conferences and other personal growth experiences, you won't be hit up to purchase anything, no DVD's, no personal coaching sessions etc.

What's whispering at you friend?  Why not answer the call and let's see.

Join the circle.  Have some fun.  Feel the love.    #circlefunlove

Friday, February 10, 2017

Emergency Action Guides and Rough Day Books

I had the pleasure of spending a little time today at Discount Tire.  While the good folks got me all fixed up with a new tire, I happened to notice this large flip guide on the wall.  It reminded me so much of the Brave Girls Club tool we create called a Rough Day Book.

No matter how much 'work' we do on ourselves, how purposeful our lives... the rough days ARE going to come.  And when they come, it's best to have a personal action plan to guide us in how to best survive them.

The pages contained in my Rough Day book aren't really laid out like Discount Tires action guide, but I really love it and I think I will start adding some pages with tabs for things like:

  • When dealing with a narcissist
  • When a beloved hurts you 
  • When you disappoint yourself 
  • When the wheels completely come off the train
  • When you need a time out

If you could use a Rough Day Book as your emergency action guide, there's a class coming up this Thursday, February 16th from 6-9pm.  All materials are provided and you'll add your own wisdom to be your guide for when those days happen.  You can register here and use discount code Newyear to get 75% off! 

Fragile... handle with care

Wouldn't it be awesome if we had stickers like this to help others understand when we're feeling tender?

When we are living an authentic life, how we present ourselves in the world is almost like we do have "fragile" stickers on our foreheads.  When we are authentic we can let needs be known and that gives our beloveds a chance to support us.  Just as we are blessed when we give support to others, they are blessed when we allow others to support us in our times of need.  It's a gift really, a gift for both people.

Such was the case for me this week.  The state of our country and the events in my own world had piled up on me like a 5 car wreck all in one day.  I let myself be vulnerable and shared on my Facebook wall that I was feeling very thin in my resilience.  Soon my cup overflowed with an outpouring of virtual love when I shared that I was struggling.

And today... today came a heartfelt message from an incredible woman in my circle that made my heart soar.  In truth, I've known her since she was a little girl. I'm blessed that we've reconnected as peers now.  We all have those people who have really impacted our lives and our growth and she was kind enough today to reach out and tell me that I have been that for her.  It brings up such powerful emotions as I read her words that their impact will be felt by me for a long, long time.

I'm wondering if we can't increase the ripple of this kindness she started today.  Won't you take a moment to identify someone in your life who has made a big impact and reach right now to tell them so?  I hope you will.  The world needs more kindness, don't you agree?

Join the circle.  Have some fun.  Feel the love.