Marie Antoinette: An Iconic Queen with a Lust for Life

The French have long been known as a passionate people and even their kings and queens were often lusty rulers who prioritized pleasure over practicality. France's final queen, Marie Antoinette, was no exception. She was a lover through and through, who enjoyed nothing more than an extravagant party! And it was this very hunger for luxury that became her downfall. She’s famous for many reasons, being strongly opinionated, feminine and bringing fun fashion to France.


From princess to queen

In many ways, Marie was a quintessential princess: Born to royalty, spoiled by her wealthy parents—the rulers of Austria—and schooled more on social graces than academics. Her marriage to Louis-Auguste, heir to the French throne, was arranged when she was just 15 years old, and still very much a wild, flighty teenage girl. In the months leading up to the wedding, the French sent a tutor to straighten her out, but he had no luck, saying that since, “she is rather lazy and extremely frivolous, she is hard to teach.” Ouch!


Once married to Louis, Marie continued to act impetuously. She wrote long, impassioned letters to her mother describing her frustrations and loneliness, and shunned court rituals. The teenaged prince she'd married was her polar opposite: He was an introverted, indecisive boy who loved reading and spending time alone. She was naturally social and vivacious, a true social butterfly who loved partying, gambling, and the most extravagant fashions she could get her hands on.


The married couple lived at Versailles as heirs for four years before Louis was crowned king. Marie was 19 when she became queen of France, and did her best to build the fun-filled, wild, ecstatic life she felt she deserved at court.


Wild child

It's said that as queen, Marie habitually slept until noon and threw parties that lasted all night. She spent money like it was going out of style, sparing no expense on rich food, wine, clothes, wigs, and hats. Balls and parties weren't her only extravagances; She had a tiny model farm built on the palace grounds so that she and her ladies-in-waiting could play dress-up as milkmaids and shepherdesses. Royal hairdresser Léonard Autié became one of her closest friends, and created enormous elaborate hairstyles for her that often towered several feet above her head. Once, he actually styled her hair into a replica of the French warship La Belle Poule!


But despite her efforts, Marie wasn't happy. Her marriage appeared to be a relatively loveless one, and for the first seven years it was childless, too. Furious and hell-bent on her daughter producing an heir to the French throne, Marie's mother sent one of her sons, Emperor Joseph II, to Versailles to intervene. It's not totally clear what all he did, but whatever it was worked! Within a year, Marie bore the first of her four children.


Although Marie's arrival in France had been celebratory and ecstatic, the longer she stayed the less her adopted country felt inclined to adore her. France was saddled with massive military debts, and while the wealthy elite paid no taxes, commoners were taxed within an inch of their lives. News of Queen Marie's expensive antics infuriated the French people, since she was visibly frittering away what little money the country had.


An easy scapegoat

Things got steadily worse over the years, and the French newspapers and people were quick to blame Marie. Her lavish spending earned her the name “Madame Deficit.” The king attempted some tax reforms, but the wealthy French aristocrats resisted … and believing Marie to be entirely to blame, the commoners began calling her “Madame Veto,” too.


Marie still partied hard, but she began to feel the strain of her massive unpopularity. She spent more and more time apart from the king, and soon rumors about an affair with Swedish diplomat Count Axel von Fersen began popping up. (Spoiler: The rumors were true!) Her reputation was already unraveling when a bizarre scandal erupted with her at the center.


A thief dressed as Marie Antoinette stole a massive 647-diamond necklace and took it to London to be sold off in pieces. The real queen had nothing to do with the heist, but the people of France remained convinced that she was somehow involved.


Rebellious to the end, Marie ignored the uproar and continued to spend. She began constructing Hameau de la Reine, an extravagant retreat near her private castle, the Petit Trianon, in Versailles. That's right, she already had a castle and felt she needed a cottage, too.



After years of class discrimination, the French people were fed up. In July of 1789, nearly 1,000  workers and peasants took over the Bastille prison, stripping it of arms and ammunition and marking the beginning of the French Revolution. In October of the same year, an angry mob of women protesting the high cost of bread and other essential household items marched to the palace, dragged the entire royal family back to Paris, and imprisoned them in the Tuileries.


It's important to note here that THE MOST FAMOUS thing about Marie Antoinette is actually a myth. It's said that when she was told that the people had no money to buy bread, she responded by saying, “Then let them eat cake!” Not so. Marie was dismissive and snobbish to be sure, but she never uttered this particular phrase. In fact, it was used many years before Marie's arrival to describe how out-of-touch the wealthy French upper class had become.


But her other outlandish behaviors had sealed her fate. She and Louis escaped Paris for a while, but were recaptured and eventually locked in a tower. They spent the next few years embroiled in political turmoil and accused of a slew of awful crimes including sexual promiscuity and incest. In 1793, Louis was executed. Ten months later, Marie herself was sent to the guillotine and beheaded for treason.


Important but not beloved

French people can hold an epic grudge, and most of them still actively hate Marie Antoinette, even hundreds of years later! Her frivolous behavior and total disregard for the needs of her country made her an arch villain. But Thomas Jefferson wrote, "I have ever believed that if there had been no Queen, there would have been no revolution." So although Marie's focus on fashion and fun became her downfall, she may have been the exact kind of hot mess that France needed to kick-start the machinery of democracy.


And although she was reviled for her opulent tastes, there's no denying that Marie Antoinette was a lover. She loved beauty, she loved excitement, she loved adventure. Her passion and artistry, her unquenchable lust for life were And although she was reviled for her opulent tastes, there's no denying that Marie Antoinette was a lover. She loved beauty, she loved excitement, she loved adventure. Her passion and artistry, her unquenchable lust for life were destructive … but also spectacular to behold.


destructive … but also spectacular to behold.

Joan of Arc: Fearless Warrior for God


I'm currently traveling through France, and am feeling so inspired by everything I've seen! The history of this marvelous country comes alive at every turn, and I've been soaking it all in. I recently visited Chinon, and was enthralled by what I learned about Joan of Arc during my stay there. Talk about a fearless woman warrior! Joan has always fascinated me, but immersing myself in her story here has made me fall in love with her all over again. She's the patron saint of France, and her legend is still very much alive here. Today, I wanted to share her story, one of the most mysterious and tragic tales in the whole of French history. Maybe even world history ...


Imagine being 12 years old and seeing visions of saints and angels. Now imagine those saints and angels kept telling you that your destiny was to save your country in the name of God. This was precisely what happened to Joan of Arc, a young woman whose bravery would change the course of world history before she'd even reached her eighteenth birthday.


Joan was born in northeastern France in 1412 during a series of ongoing military clashes with the English called the Hundred Years War. By the time she was 10 years old, she'd seen dozens of her own neighbors thrown out of their homes by the invading English forces. They even burned her hometown to the ground at one point. Joan's family was incredibly poor and although Joan couldn't read or write, her mother taught her to adore and trust God.


That adoration and trust began to take strange forms as Joan grew older.


Around the age of 12, Joan began having visions of holy figures. She saw and spoke with St. Catherine, St. Margaret, and the Archangel Michael. In her first few visions, these holy figures simply urged her to lead a pious life dedicated to God. But over time, they became more vivid and specific. By the time she was 16, the angels and saints in Joan's visions had convinced her that France's fate was in her hands.


Joan's quest

Around this time, the French throne was in dispute. Both Charles of France and the English king Henry VI claimed to be France's rightful ruler. Through her visions, St. Michael and St. Catherine told Joan that she had been chosen as the savior of France and that she must find a way to meet with Charles. It was her destiny to lead French forces to beat the English and install him as king. As she traveled through the country, the French people heard her story and rallied around her. There was a prophecy that a virgin girl would save France, and both Joan and her supporters believed that she was the chosen one. Some of them began to follow her everywhere she went.


After a six-month campaign to get permission to visit Charles, Joan finally persuaded his guards that she was the real deal. She cut her hair short and dressed in men’s clothes for her 11-day trek to Chinon,  convinced that her visions were finally coming true.


When she arrived, though, Charles hesitated. Some of his advisors urged him to meet with this passionate girl, but others were convinced she was a fraud. Maybe even a traitor. So Charles decided to put her to a test. He granted her an audience, but disguised himself and hid among the members of his court. She picked him out almost immediately, having never seen him before! After that, he agreed to speak with her privately.


During this talk, Joan proved herself by repeating to Charles the words of a prayer he'd made in private, something only God could have heard. After she'd sworn she would see him crowned king at Reims, Charles gifted Joan a suit of armor and a horse, and asked her to accompany the French army to Orléans, the site of an English siege. Joan arrived, she fought valiantly, and after months of stagnation the French finally began to win. Joan's presence had turned the tables on the invaders. At the age of 17 and with no military training, Joan fought like a true warrior and helped her army drive the English out of Orléans.


Shortly after, Charles was crowned King Charles VII, just as Joan and predicted.


Defeat and capture

Joan was elated that she'd been able to make her visions into reality, but wanted to continue to serve her king. Paris had been captured by enemies to the crown, and she was eager to re-take it. Although King Charles wasn't wild about the idea, Joan bravely led the charge herself, her passion and faith driving her actions.


But she was unable to capture the city. And this was the beginning of the end for her ...


Several months later, the king ordered Joan to fight the traitorous French Burgundians in Compiégne. As she was attempting to defend the town and its people, she was thrown from her horse, and her own troops abandoned her outside the town’s gates as they closed.


Then the Burgundians took Joan captive.


Then King Charles lost faith in her. He left her to rot in the Burgundian prison for months without attempting to free her.


Joan's supporters made several attempts to rescue her, but all of them failed. Eventually, she was exchanged for 10,000 livres to the English. Well aware that the French people adored Joan and saw her as a messenger from God, the English decided to make an example of her. They charged her with 70 crimes, including witchcraft, heresy, and dressing like a man (illegal at that time). To make matters worse, many French officials sided against Joan and chose to oversee her trial.


She'd been abandoned by her king, accused of betraying her beloved God, and turned on by some of her own countrymen.


Her trial dragged on for more than a year.


She was interrogated dozens of times, threatened with rape and torture, and yet she remained calm and stuck to her claim of innocence through it all. Since one of her crimes was dressing as a man, she was forced to wear traditional women's dresses during the trial … but she rebelled and found ways to sneak men's clothes into her cell so she could wear them proudly! Joan's courage could not be snuffed out, and she held her head high no matter how many times her inquisitors tried to beat her down. She believed in herself, stayed true to her own heart, and was a rebel to the core.


Finally, on May 29, 1431, Joan of Arc was convicted of heresy. The next day, she was burned at the stake in front of a crowd of 10,000 people, many of them weeping for their beloved virgin savior.


Decades later, King Charles VII ordered an investigation into her trial, cleared her name of all charges, and declared her a martyr. In 1920 she was canonized as a saint, and is now the valiant and adored patron saint of France.


Saint Joan

Although Joan of Arc was inspired by her visions of angels and saints, she isn't merely a religious icon in her native France; she's a national symbol of independence. Her unquenchable love for her country and her drive to follow her heart are her legacy. Even today, her actions inspire women in France and all over the world to stand up and fight for their personal freedoms.


Sticking to your beliefs in the face of criticism is hard enough, but actually fighting for your beliefs takes a special kind of courage. Joan of Arc felt called to fight for France, and she listened to her warrior's heart until the very end. Her heroic actions helped install a king, save hundreds of lives, and alter her country's history.


Even now, nearly 600 years later, Joan call on all of us to dig deep into our cores and summon our ferocious woman warrior selves.

Wonder Woman: Equal Parts Warrior and Lover

If you haven't seen the new “Wonder Woman” movie yet, get yourself to a theater this instant!

I saw the film on opening weekend, and flat-out LOVED it. So I'm taking a quick detour from my series on historical women to dedicate a post to every girl's favorite superhero. And she's a superhero with staying power. Ms. Magazine put Wonder Woman on the cover of its inaugural issue in 1972, nominating her for president, and she (temporarily) served as a U.N. ambassador! She may not be real, but of all the fictional characters in the world, Wonder Woman is among the most recognized, beloved, and inspiring.

I promise not to dish out spoilers, but do want to talk about why the new film is groundbreaking and historically significant. (And uplifting and spectacular and just plain fun!)

Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman

Although die-hard fans may know her from the DC comic books and older gals watched her on the Lynda Carter TV series, we first met Israeli actress Gal Gadot's version of Wonder Woman in the 2016 film “Batman v Superman.” (Gadot spent two years in the Israeli Defense Forces, so you know she's a true warrior at heart! ) She played a bit part in that story, but the new Patty Jenkins-directed film focuses exclusively on her rich, magnetic character.

“Wonder Woman” begins by exploring our beloved hero's backstory, which starts on the idyllic island of Themyscira among her Amazonian sisters. Her given name is Diana, and she's a rebellious child eager to learn to fight despite her mother's protestations. When an American spy named Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine) crashes near the island and tells Diana about the horrors of World War I, she feels compelled to leave her peaceful home and try to stop the war. Having never seen a man, much less a bustling city the size of London, Diana is amazed and overwhelmed by everything she's missed. Along with Trevor and a band of unlikely companions, she sets out to kill Ares—the Greek god of war—who she believes is fueling the endless, brutal fighting.

The movie is absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish! The Amazonian battle scenes made my heart pound; it was so inspiring to see fierce women warriors kicking serious butt. There were plenty of stellar special effects and plot twists, but also deeply touching and adorably funny scenes. In fact, an aspect of the script that has drawn loads of praise is that this Wonder Woman isn't just a ruthless fighting machine; She's got a huge heart and tons of empathy. Many superhero flicks focus on explosions and intrigue, but fail to capture the main character's human side. Director Patty Jenkins made sure her hero was relatable, authentic, and utterly enchanting. This Wonder Woman truly is half Warrior, and half Lover!

What's the big deal?

Wondering why this film has nabbed so many headlines? Well, for starters, there has never been a Wonder Woman movie. Ever! The comics were launched 73 years ago, the character has been beloved ever since, and yet Hollywood resisted creating a solo film for her. We've had seven Superman movies since 1978 and eight Batman films. Studios were even willing to bank on obscure male comic book heros like Ant Man and Deadpool! But despite multiple false-starts, no one ever managed to get a Wonder Woman film off the ground.

Until now.

Hollywood has long been prejudiced against both female directors and female action leads, and this new film boasts both. It wasn't until the “Hunger Games” series proved that a strong, woman-fronted action franchise could make mega-bucks that Hollywood began to sit up and pay attention. And their  gamble paid off: On its first weekend in theaters, “Wonder Woman” grossed $103.3 million, the biggest opening ever for a female director. Overseas, the movie also won the weekend with $125 million from 55 markets for a global total of $228.3 million, including debuting at #1 in China! Beyond the numbers, the success of this film is significant because it portrays an independent-minded, brave, determined warrior woman who is more interested in ending battles than fighting them. She's the kind of hero that captures the hearts of little girls and grown women alike. She's someone we admire and respect, but would also love to invite out for a glass of wine! She's the perfect balance of lover and fighter, the woman we want to be and also want to befriend. Don't believe me? Get out and see the movie yourself! You'll get to see a groundbreaking and thoroughly enjoyable film, AND your dollars count as your vote. The more of us who pay to see films like this in theaters, the more Hollywood will be open to writing and producing great movies that put women characters front and center!

So many Ways to live

 Fly away with me


When I’m home in my routine I think about leaving, just taking off for a month. I always like films about remote destinations, solo adventures, and discovering new cultures.   After publishing and promoting Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife, I’m excited to research for the next book.   Traveling solo is tempting.


So now, as the plane soars into the air, I close my eyes briefly and let out a long breath.  Flying into the clouds, the city lights disappear. My bag is tucked away safely in the overhead compartment and I look around me and there’s not a single person who knows my name. They are all on their laptops or intimate conversations and don’t even notice me. It’s like I’m invisible.


“Indulge yourself” reads on the cover of my More magazine. What is it selling a new car or traveling afar? I think about how slippery the word indulgence is.  In my younger years the word indulgence was associated with shame. “ Someone who gives himself or herself permission to follow their desires.”

I wondered then and I wonder now, what is so wrong with that?


I always enjoy journeys, the space between things. As I lay my head back I think about France. I think about what might be waiting for me on the other side of the world. There are infinite roads, various choices and so many realities, each of them unique. So many ways to live, pub for the evening, warm and loud; maybe a quiet night in a castle listening to the piano by the fire, then Loire Valley with all the history. It’s all a mystery.

Melting into France I discover intriguing people, views, museums and cafes serendipitously. Meandering through each city and village I found getting lost is part of the journey.


Look for blog posts coming up about the fabulous French women I met! Being in France brought history alive and inspired me for my next book on Dangerous Women. I also hope to incorporate the lessons and lifestyle I learned on my adventure back at home.


Then as the plane lands home I feel grounded. I walk to my car and drive the familiar road to my quint little white Victorian house, flowering garden, and picket fence. I call my friends and daughters on the drive home to plan dinner.  I’m content to settle in for a while to the comfort of familiarity and routine. Feeling a bit more empowered and fearless for the next adventure. 



Risk, Reward, and Living Creatively

Traveling alone I explore how the traditional markers of success – marriage, money, a thriving career – don't always bring happiness, especially to artists and creators. My own life story has some similar themes, which I shared in my first book, Unbridled: A Memoir, and I am eager to learn more as I travel with other artists in France.


What others taught me surprised me.  Especially about results and reactions and the importance of letting go.


Most of creatives have learned to release some of the pressure they put on themselves by focusing on the process instead of the product. They've learned the hard way that there's no way to control how people react to your art and there's no foolproof formula for creative success. So you've just gotta put in the hours, work hard, do your best, pour your heart into your labors, and detach. Don't allow yourself to hope for or cherish any specific result. Create, release, breathe. Move on.


 Thinking of the last book I wrote Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife – which released last Oct. – I tried to hold this advice in my mind. The project was so important to me, and I was keenly aware that dozens of wives of wounded veterans had generously shared their stories with me. I wanted to make them proud, make sure their voices were finally heard, create a book that could change the world for the better. But when I focused on those ideas, it became hard to keep going. The worry would creep in and I'd get hung up on creating something that was “good enough” or “worthy” instead of being open and honest and allowing the book to unfold naturally. It was hard work, long work. But remembering what I'd learned, I showed up to do that work every day, poured my heart and soul into it, and did my best to focus on the process of creation instead of any future outcomes.


I'm so proud of Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife, though I'll admit that now I'm a bit anxious again about how it may be received and my next book! But I'm confident that I wrote a book I can be proud of, and a book that compassionately and accurately represents these brave women. I created the book I wanted to create. Now I have to step back, release, breathe, and move on.


Even if you aren't in a creative profession, I think this advice can still be absolutely life-changing. We live in a results-obsessed culture that often overlooks the value of process. And when it comes to our relationships, our work, our health, our families, our art, our very lives, we must learn to hold contradictions in our minds as we move forward. When we think about “creating a life we want,” we may think of marriage, money, a thriving career. But those things may not matter. Happiness is elusive, but also specific: What makes you happy might make me miserable. Which means crafting a rewarding, fulfilling life is entirely up to each of us. The life we want may not involve marriage or money or a thriving career. It might just as easily be one in which we do everything with passion and enthusiasm, do our absolute best. whenever we can, and then release, breathe, and move on.

Catherine de' Medici: Powerful Queen and Cunning Warrior



It takes a lot of guts to be queen. We tend to think of queens who ruled alone—like Cleopatra and Elizabeth I—as being the most powerful. But even queens who ruled at the side of kings had to be smart, strong, and observant. Catherine de' Medici's tumultuous reign is proof of this!


Catherine was part of the powerful Medici clan in Florence, Italy, and her parents arranged her marriage to Henri, Duke of Orléans, who later became King Henry II of France. Henry and Catherine were married at the ripe old age of 14 (which was normal at the time), and at their wedding Catherine was seen wearing the world's first pair of high-heeled shoes! She was a fearless tastemaker even as a teen.


An unhappy union

However, a woman named Diane de Poitiers had already captured the heart of the young king. She'd been his mentor and tutor since he was 12, and although she was 20 years his senior, she was incredibly beautiful, worldly, and captivating. Catherine adored Henry, but watched in dismay as he became more and more enamored of Diane. Just two years after their marriage, Henry took Diane as his official mistress. (Also normal at the time – many kings had non-secret mistresses, and “king's lover” was actually a sought-after position at court!) They remained close for 25 years, during which time a tortured Catherine bore 10 children for Henry.


Catherine was a believer in fortune-telling or “soothsaying,” and consulted with several psychics on a regular basis. Just before a jousting tournament, her advisors confirmed her strong gut feeling that Henry could become gravely injured if he competed. She begged him to sit out, but he wouldn't listen … and she turned out to be right. Henry was pierced through his eye during a joust, suffered horrifically for 12 days, and then died.


Queen, regent, and advisor

Hurt, furious, and now the sole ruler of France, Catherine banished Diane. Soon her 16-year-old son, François II, ascended to the throne, and Catherine arranged the first fireworks display in the history of France to celebrate his coronation. But his reign was painfully short-lived. After a year and a half on the throne, François fell ill and died, breaking Catherine's heart anew. Her next oldest son, Charles, was crowned king at the age of 10 and Catherine was appointed as regent by the Privy Council. (Since he was too young to rule, she was picked to rule in his place.) While Charles came of age, Catherine enjoyed tremendous power.


After Charles died in 1574, Catherine continued to loom large in the French monarchy. She played a key role in the reign of her third son, Henry III, who relied on her political advice throughout most of his reign. She also remained involved in his personal life; Henry struggled to produce an heir, and Catherine lamented this fact. She is said to have thrown lavish cross-dressing parties where men dressed as women and women went topless as men, all in an effort to rekindle Henry's interest in his wife. (This didn't work out as planned, but the parties themselves became legendary!)


Catherine was disliked—sometimes downright hated—by her French subjects. Her husband and three sons ruled France during an incredibly violent and unstable period, when religious civil war ran rampant. The crown also faced financial problems, and Catherine worked hard to keep everything under control. The religious conflicts were caused by unrest between the Catholics and Protestants in France, who saw the Church in fundamentally different ways and grew to hate each other over their differences. Although Catholic herself, Catherine did her best to see both sides and even defended the Protestants at times. But she didn't truly understand their motivation, grew frustrated and angry with them, and eventually resorted to passing questionable laws, approving assassinations of key figures, and other acts of political intrigue to keep France from falling into total chaos. She made tough decisions and acted decisively, always with the well-being of her family in mind. Some historians believe her sons would never have remained in power without her cunning and sharp wits. This single-minded focus on keeping her family on the throne made her wildly unpopular among the French people, who felt she was deaf to their needs.


Catherine's multifaceted legacy

Many know of Catherine's impact on French history, but fewer are aware of her lasting influence on French culture. In addition to leaving her stamp on fashion and society, she changed French cuisine forever. A group of Italian chefs accompanied her to France in 1533, and brought with them a philosophy of cooking and dining that became wildly popular among the wealthy upper-classes. These chefs introduced mushrooms, garlic, and truffles to the French palette, as well as many Italian desserts. They also popularized the use silverware and porcelain dishes, which were almost unknown before Catherine's arrival.


Catherine gave birth to three sons who went on to become kings. She threw outlandishly sexy parties and fabulous feasts. She struggled through a marriage to a man who preferred another woman, and persevered as leader of a country that often hated her. She did what she thought was right and best, and never let anyone get in her way. Catherine de' Medici was a warrior, through and through!


Refilling the cup, so we have something to give

While you’ve surely been having fun toasting your friends’ nuptials this wedding season, if the champagne has started to lose a little of that fizz, and you’re lamenting the fact that you haven’t had a single weekend to yourself, now’s the time to throw a solo celebration.


Remember the Sex and the City episode where Carrie’s Manolos are stolen from a baby shower? She reacts by sending the hostess a voicemail: “I wanted to let you know that I’m getting married. To myself. I’m registered at Manolo Blahnik.”


Whether you’re single or married, the first person you should choose to celebrate is YOU.  Make a point to book a date with yourself. Here are 7 date ideas for what you can do:


1. Enjoy an outdoor concert.


Being outdoors and listening to live music is a great way to lift your spirits. For one, boogying to your favorite music can be a good form of exercise. Also, live music gives that uplifting, living-in-the-moment feeling that is good for both physical and emotional wellbeing. Take advantage of the warm days of the season, and catch a concert at your area amphitheater or local park. Just pack a simple picnic (wine, cheese, grapes, prosciutto, etc.) and a blanket, and commit to going no matter what.


2. Turn off your phone.


The average person checks their phone between 110-150 times a day. That’s a lot of energy and attention flitting back and forth, which can leave you feeling stressed and distracted.


Pick a day or a length of time and shut your phone off completely. If you can, leave it at home and go do something (Facebook and Instagram will still be there when you get back).


Look up! Take in the sights around you. Reacquaint yourself with your senses.


3. Take a dance class.


How many times have you heard a song on the radio and you started to dance around, only to realize you are stuck in traffic, behind the wheel of your car? A bit confining, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it feel great to get on the dance floor with other people enjoying the music around you?


But if you don’t have the desire to go to a bar or nightclub on your own, then take a dance class! You’ll benefit from learning some new moves and so much more, including:


Improved physical health


Dancing is a low -impact aerobic activity, good for your joints and cardiovascular system. It improves posture, flexibility, agility, balance and body alignment. It’s a great way to burn calories, stay fit and improve your coordination!


Improved mental health


Dancing integrates rational, emotional, kinesthetic and problem-solving skills, improving our overall mental processing. It’s memory with physical movement (better than doing a crossword puzzle or other sedentary memory tasks). The changes and patterns of dancing make our brains work more quickly.


Improved happiness


It’s a chance to meet new friends who share similar interests. It’s great for getting out of our head, playing, and bringing out the child and the lover in all of us. It’s a way for couples to flirt with each other and singles to meet new partners. Dancing spurs creativity, motivation and overall energy.


4. Book a photo shoot.


You should be proud of your inner and outer beauty. And who can bring out your beauty better than a talented portrait photographer? (Besides, it’s much more fun than a selfie.)


Maybe you want to update your professional headshot, or have photographic evidence of how hot your body looks — another Sex and the City reference.


A healthy dose of each “pride quality” listed, is actually necessary to embody a fulfilled sense of self —  as a woman, and as anybody.


5. Take a yoga class.


Yoga is an easy activity to do on your own, and so necessary for balancing our day-to-day stress. Cortisol and adrenalin are hormones that are released in the body as a result of stress. Sustained high levels of these “stress hormones” destroy healthy muscle and bone. Over a prolonged period, it can even lead to a host of diseases.


Yoga reduces cortisol and adrenalin levels by returning the body to a physically stress-free state, making it less susceptible to illness and more prone to resiliency and vitality. Yoga does not have to be pretzel poses. It includes a practice of centering, meditative grounding, deep breathing, and poses to help align your chakras.


When you practice yoga, your entire muscular system becomes stronger and more elastic and therefore, less susceptible to injury. Standing and balancing postures strengthen and lengthen the big muscle groups, and floor postures strengthen the muscles that support the spine and head.


As a physical therapist, I call it “cheap” physical therapy.


6. Enjoy sensual pleasures.


Turn on your favorite music, wear your favorite scent and lingerie, or put on a silly costume, get your hair done, and wear that red lipstick. Just turn off your judgmental mind for a few hours. What do you taste, hear, touch, see and smell?


Get present: A sensual person experiences each moment completely — and knows that a simple, fully present, deep inhale can evoke as much ecstasy as anything.


Find the sensual energy in everything: sipping champagne, tasting strawberries, touching yourself. No action is too small to ignite your senses and live out your inner diva.


7. Write your own happy ending.


Is your idea of “getting married” still influenced by the Disney princesses you watched as a kid? Why does every princess need to have a prince? Think you are not enough without one? Time to rethink! Women are warriors, lovers, mothers and sages. We can be the hero in our own story.


Create a vision board for what you want your life to look like and then start living it. single or married we can all take time to rejuvenate and relax to refill our cup, so we are better lovers of life!


Stephani Victor: Paralympic Champion and Fearless Warrior


Ever heard women called “the weaker sex”? Does anyone else out there think that sentiment is just plain ludicrous? We women create and run our own companies, make world-changing discoveries, carry and give birth to babies, and do it all in the face of constant discrimination. We strive and achieve and triumph in the face of huge challenges. Anyone who thinks women are weak and inferior clearly isn't paying attention!


A few months ago, I met a woman who is a shining example of how strong, brave, and determined women can be. Stephani Victor is an alpine skier, a Paralympic gold and silver medalist, an all-around incredible human being, and a fearless woman warrior. When she was just 26 years old and newly graduated from USC's film school, she was loading her car when catastrophe struck. An out-of-control car careened into her driveway and crushed her against her own vehicle. To save her life, doctors were forced to amputate both legs above the knee. Her life would never be the same.


As she ticked off the days and weeks in intensive care, Stephani began daydreaming about creating a documentary film to chronicle her recovery process. And she made that dream a reality; “The Lengths I Will Go” captures her endless hours of rehabilitation, 13 reconstructive surgeries, re-entry into society, and learning to walk on two prosthetic legs. Instead of simply recovering in private, she decided to use her experience to help inspire other amputees, to show anyone in recovery that they were so much stronger than they realized.


And Stephani's astonishing journey didn't stop there; Three years after the accident, she took her first adaptive skiing lesson.


“The seemingly insurmountable challenge of no longer having legs was so beyond my imagination that it forced me to fight to maintain my independence,” she says. “That fight began with a single pull-up in my hospital bed, and evolved into a relentless search for a sport I could dedicate myself to.”


After just a few life-changing lessons with the head coach of the Park City Disabled Ski Team, Marcel Kuonen, she was hooked. Skiing became her life and her passion. Not long after that, Stephani was asked to relocate to Utah, where she would train to compete in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Since then, she's won five Paralympic medals, four World Championship titles, and five Overall World Cup titles. Her dedication and success has inspired countless disabled athletes to persevere and chase their dreams.


“It wasn’t my plan to become a professional athlete,” she says. “It became my destiny. I push myself. I expect excellence and I do not shy away from discipline. I know first hand that this moment is the only one we truly have, and I am committed to making it count.”


Stephani first discovered her love for skiing at the National Ability Center (NAC), and she continues to work with this phenomenal facility. The NAC helps people of all abilities build self-esteem and confidence through sport and recreation. When someone has experienced physical injury, learning that they can still be strong and agile can be transformative, and the amazing people at the NAC know that. Their work helps hundreds of people tap their inner courage and embrace their inner athletes. My next book signing for Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife will be in Park City, and having made a connection with Stephani, I'll be donating author proceeds to the NAC!

Stephani may not be a warrior in the traditional sense; She doesn't charge into battle guns blazing, or  enter a boxing ring with fists flying. But she has fought and won important battles. She has faced down life without legs, and worked tirelessly to prove that she can still be a champion. She has dealt with an injury that would've forced many people to hide from public view, and chosen to share her story so that others may feel inspired and supported. She has seen her whole life change in a single moment, and fought to re-create it in new and better ways.


“The perfect alchemy of opportunity, will, love, and guidance brought me to the mountain,” she says. “In many ways, ski racing filled me with so much purpose, it saved my life by filling it with joy.”

I find her determination and spirit endlessly inspiring. I hope her story of dedication and determination inspire you to be brave and bold in your own life!

A Note of Gratitude on Our Best SPA Day Yet!

On April 30, I spent another inspiring, enlightening, and uplifting day with a group of wounded warriors' wives at the gorgeous Hotel del Coronado for SPA Day. Named for Support, Purpose, and Appreciation, this event for wives and caregivers is entering its eleventh year! More than 300 women apply for SPA Day, but at this time we are only able to accommodate thirty attendees. Everyone gets a spa treatment in the morning, then we gather for lunch by the pool. During this miniretreat, women share and connect with others who are experiencing parallel struggles. This sharing helps all of them build their coping skills and find useful resources.


SPA Day may have been my brainchild, but pulling it off is definitely a group effort! I had loads of help and support, and want to take a moment to send my heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this year's gathering so meaningful and special.


Huge thanks to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. This stellar organization is the preeminent foundation empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers; the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans. 2017 was the first year that the Elizabeth Dole Foundation sponsored SPA Day, and I'm so grateful for their support! I hope this partnership will continue for many years to come.


My unending appreciation to the Hotel del Coronado, our amazing venue for the event. It was a year of firsts, as this was also the first year that the hotel generously donated all the food! Having seen the impact SPA Day has on its attendees, hotel management wanted to honor them with a five-star catered event. The appetizers and mimosas at the pool started the day off so elegantly, and serving a catered lunch on the lawn really brought the event to another level. And what a fantastic idea to include the wounded warriors in the celebration! Everyone loved the Spa Director, Holly’s talk and the hotel will definitely get repeat visits to the spa after treating them with with such personal kindness. So to everyone at the Hotel del Coronado: I truly appreciate you helping me help the wives of wounded warriors and their families. Collaborating with you is a dream, and every year you help make SPA Day even more spectacular. I’ll be sending you lots of photos and a formal thank-you note, but wanted to say a quick THANK YOU for your graciousness and generosity!


Many thanks to Southern Caregiver Resources Center and their program Operation Family Caregiver. OFC was developed by the Rosalynn Carter Institute to support military and veteran caregivers, an amazing organization that coaches the families and friends of newly returning service members and veterans to manage difficult transitions. Lorie Van Tilburg,  director at SCRC, was an amazing partner this year! She helped me handle the RSVPs, organize the day's events, and even attended to give us an inspirational talk about the strength it takes to ask for help. I'm so grateful to her valuable work in the community, and willingness to collaborate for the past four years. I couldn’t do this without her help.


Sincere thanks to the wives of wounded warriors who took a few hours out of their colossally busy lives caring for children and spouses to join me at SPA Day. I'm so glad you carved out time to allow others to nurture you with massage and listen to your incredible stories. I always envisioned SPA Day as a time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate, but I'm absolutely thrilled it has become an event that encourages bonding with other wives of wounded warriors, formation of informal support groups, and sharing of resources that help your families heal. Thank you for the tireless work you do to support your families, and for sharing your experiences so that others may learn and grow alongside you.


Finally, thanks to our wounded warriors who supported their wives in taking a day for healthy self care, and joined us after lunch for an afternoon to celebrate their marriages! We were so honored to meet these brave warriors and see firsthand the strong love these couple have for each other. This was the first time we invited the husbands along for the party, recognizing that couples who play together stay together! The hotel served snacks and craft beers while these brave men enjoyed themselves at the pool all afternoon. I was one of the last to leave as I felt so honored to meet our nation's heroes and hear their inspiring stories.


SPA Day is, hands down, one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my life. I’m so grateful that this unique event is growing as more organizations and generous individuals come on board to support it. By helping wounded warriors and their spouses, we help ourselves become more compassionate, more aware, and more connected to our fellow human beings. It may just look like a relaxing day of snacks and spa treatments, but it's so much more. SPA Day has become a platform for sharing, bonding, and nudging a brave group of caregivers along their healing journeys.


Thanks again to all who made this year's SPA Day spectacular!