LOVER | Madonna | The Chameleon

“Be strong, believe in freedom and in God, love yourself, understand your sexuality, have a sense of humor, masturbate, don't judge people by their religion, color or sexual habits, love life and your family.”

~ Madonna

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Controversial. Beloved. Misunderstood. Worshipped. As Lovers go, Madonna is definitely one of the most polarizing! This singer, dancer, actress, mother, and philanthropist has reinvented herself again and again, but somehow always stayed true to her authentic nature. Although her iconic name casts her as the perennial virgin and she was raised by a devout Catholic family, Madonna rejected the Church’s strict teachings from a young age. She knew her true vocation was being authentic to herself and embraced that instinct instead of following the script that was handed to her by her conservative upbringing. 

 

She’s been a rebel since the beginning, and now that she’s in her 60s, Madonna has grown into an inspiring example of a woman who owns her youthfulness and inner Lover regardless of age. She loves to have fun, wants to entertain and be entertained, but above all she wants to stay young and desirable. A force of nature, a deeply sexual being, and an astonishing chameleon of a woman, Madonna has remained hypnotically fascinating throughout her multi-decade career.

 

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was a performer from day one, studying dance as a child and moving to New York as a teen to start her career in showbiz. There, she bopped from job to job, working as a backup singer, a drummer, and a dancer, taking full advantage of the electrifying underground club scene of the late 1970s.[1]But she felt certain that she was destined for something more. Madonna wasn’t going to be anyone’s background dancer; she was meant for the spotlight.

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In 1981, she hired a powerful woman manager, Camille Barbone, to help kick her budding singing career into hyperdrive. Camille was a perfect partner, teaching Madonna to make her way through the male-dominated music business and training her to leverage her seductive charms in negotiations. And it worked: By 1982, her song “Everybody” hit number one on the charts.[2]She had transformed herself from a scrappy club kid into a bona-fide rock star.

 

Fans loved her music, but also adored Madonna herself. And no wonder! She was utterly original and undeniably bewitching. Her early looks were based on lace, lingerie, fingerless gloves, and fishnet stockings, and fans all over the world copied her provocative style.[3]Those same fans were fascinated by her open, almost aggressive sexuality. She created visually stunning, deeply sensual music videos to accompany songs from her second album, the worldwide hit “Like a Virgin.” When she saw that commanding her own sexuality both thrilled and angered people, she began to see the link between controversy and power. That link would guide her for decades to come.

 

Soon she began to explore emotional and contentious topics in her songs, like unwed motherhood (“Papa Don’t Preach”) and sexual liberation (“Express Yourself”). She continued to push boundaries with her music videos, too, including the wildly controversial 1989 hit “Like a Prayer,” which featured burning crosses and an eroticized black Jesus. She was a spokesperson for Pepsi at the time, but when the Vatican spoke out against the video, her deal was yanked![4]

 

Unsurprisingly, she would not be silenced. In fact, in the years that followed, Madonna focused her work more directlyon sex and sexuality. In 1991 she released the film “Truth or Dare,” a titillating backstage peek into her life and bedroom exploits during the Blonde Ambition tour. In her book Sex, she showcased herself in erotic poses and dabbled in soft-core pornography, once again claiming her sensuality and power. The book became the most successful coffee table book ever released![5]  

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In 1996, at age thirty-eight, Madonna broke out of a decades-long acting slump and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her leading role in “Evita,” the story of Eva Peron (who is featured under Integrated Women in this book!) Her love for the story and the music that accompanied it pushed her to change and morph again, and surprise the world with the stunning results.

 

In recent years, she has dedicated herself to staying young, both mentally and physically. Madonna continues to dance and write and learn, all activities that keep dementia at bay. Unwilling to accept sagging boobs and wrinkles, she’s stayed incredibly fit; She continues to work out regularly and embrace modern medicine to improve her body. Some people hate her for it, while others are inspired by her example, but she is simply being true to herself, even if the masses says she should give up her youth and act her age. Madonna knows better; She knows that we should all have some say in how we age. She continues to show women everywhere that they can and shouldembrace their sensual selves and their inner Lovers with wide-open arms. 

 

“I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.” Madonna not only creates fashion, music, choreography, and movies, she lives a creative life reinventing herself to stay forever young. Whether you see her as trash diva, cyber-dominatrix, spiritual guru, or any of the other innumerable personas she’s adopted over the years, this ageless lover is not going lightly into the dark, forever young at heart.

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[1]https://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/madonna/biography

[2]https://www.biography.com/people/madonna-9394994

[3]Ibid.

[4]https://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/madonna/biography

[5]https://www.biography.com/people/madonna-9394994

LOVER: Dita Von Teese

“I’m more attracted to glamour than natural beauty. The young Marilyn Monroe was a pretty girl in a sea of pretty girls. Then she had her hair bleached, fake eyelashes, and that’s when she became extraordinary. It’s that idea of what you’re not born with, you can create.”

~ Dita Von Teese

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When you think of Burlesque, what comes to your mind? A woman with a Mona Lisa smile sidling onto a smoky stage in a gorgeous satin bustier and sky-high heels? Watching her gracefully remove one article of clothing at a time, revealing the curve of her breast and alluring stretch of her thigh? If it weren’t for modern-day Burlesque pioneer Dita Von Teese, you might have envisioned something far less artful! This form of slow, tantalizing stripping focuses on seducing the audience through subtle but deeply sexual dancing ... but for decades people associated it with seedy carnivals and strip bars. Thanks to Dita, thousands of women have embraced Burlesque as a potent way to explore, own, and express their white-hot sexuality.

 

In 1974, Dita was born as Heather Sweet, and grew up in small-town Michigan and later Orange County, California.[1]Even as a young girl, she was mesmerized by the Golden Age of Cinema, images of voluptuous pin-up girls, and lacy vintage lingerie. So she set out to transform herself into a glamorous, sexy, powerful woman like those she admired.[2]

 

She recalls the first makeup moment that changed her life, saying, “I remember really vividly the first time I put a red lipstick on. I was maybe 13? It was the ‘80s ... and everyone was wearing that foil-y pink lipstick—Revlon Pink Foil. I loved that color, but I remember one time putting on a red and thinking, ‘This changes everything. This is all you really need.’”[3]

 

She kept experimenting with her image, dying her blonde hair black in honor of Bettie Page and refining her vintage-inspired fashion sense. By the age of 19, Dita was living in L.A. working as a go-go dancer; a few years later she had upgraded to stripping[4]; and by the early 2000s she was using her ballet training and passion for gorgeous costumes to thrill audiences all over the world![5]Today, Dita Von Teese is credited with single-handedly reviving the art form that is Burlesque.

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And rightly so. Her touring acts are famous for pairing sensuality with glamour, titillation with class. Her famed “martini glass” routine involves her slowly revealing her alabaster skin and 

flawless figure, then climbing into an oversized martini glass to splash around[6]; deeply sexy, but also fun and playful. Classic Lover!

 

And like her idol, legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, Dita has continued to practice the art of seduction well into her 40s.[7]What a powerful message to those of us cruising through the later decades of our lives: that being sensual, sexual, and attractive are about energy and attitude, not age.  

 

Dita Von Teese loves her job, and loves the sex-positive messages her glorious Burlesque act broadcasts to women the world over. She’s thrilled to see Burlesque classes popping up in cities everywhere, and hearing how learning this seductive art form is reconnecting women of all ages to their inner Lovers. She owns her power, as a sex symbol and a woman, and does it in the most inspiring way. In an interview with the L.A. times, she said, “I'm not the youngest. I'm not known for being at the forefront of the burlesque movement because I'm all those things. I'm there because I'm something different. Otherwise you'd be talking to an 18-year-old, beautiful, 5-foot-10-inch, leggy blonde girl that can high kick. Why aren't we talking to her? Because she didn't want it as badly as I did.”

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[1]http://www.laweekly.com/arts/dita-von-teese-how-she-became-the-most-famous-stripper-in-america-2370055

[2]https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a71/dita-von-teese-0507/

 

[1]https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a71/dita-von-teese-0507/

[2]http://www.dita.net/glamour-girl/about-dita/

[3]https://intothegloss.com/2012/10/dita-von-teese-burlesque-dancer/

[4]http://www.laweekly.com/arts/dita-von-teese-how-she-became-the-most-famous-stripper-in-america-2370055

[5]http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/ct-dita-von-teese-ott-0127-20170123-story.html

[6]http://www.laweekly.com/arts/dita-von-teese-how-she-became-the-most-famous-stripper-in-america-2370055

[7]https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a71/dita-von-teese-0507/

INTEGRATED: Wonder Woman

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“You are stronger than you believe. You have greater powers than you know.”

-Antiope, Wonder Woman’s aunt

 

Wonder Woman is the most beloved and enduringly popular female comic-book superhero of all time. And she’s got serious longevity: Only Superman and Batman have been in print longer. Since the first Wonder Woman comic books appeared on the shelves in 1941, young girls everywhere have looked up to her, been dazzled by her, and ardently wished to BE her. Just like other superheroes, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike her super compatriots, she also has a fascinating and slightly salacious backstory!

The creation of Wonder Woman

“I am who the world needs me to be. I'm Wonder Woman.” 

~ from DC Comics

 

Comic books were a brand new medium back in the late 1930s. The first issue of Superman launched in 1938, and in its wildly successful wake, publishers scrambled to create equally appealing characters.[1]The majority of these heroes were men, but a shrewd and unlikely author saw that the world was hungry for a strong woman character to headline her own comic.

 

That author was Dr. William Moulton Marston, a psychologist and co-creator of an early prototype of the lie detector. He’d never written fiction before and had actually been hired by a comic book company to defend the entire medium against calls to ban comics. Mothers and teachers across America were calling comics violent, amoral, and a terrible influence on young readers. After spending some time in the trenches with the writers and illustrators and colorists, Marston decided that the best defense against these moral high-ground critiques was to create a woman superhero. After all, the aspect of comics that got most American mothers in a tizzy was their brutal masculinity. Bring in a lady to calm them down![2]

 

“Well, Doc,” Maxwell Charles Gaines, founder of DC Comics told him, “I picked Superman after every syndicate in America turned it down. I’ll take a chance on your Wonder Woman! But you’ll have to write the strip yourself.”[3]

 

Marston was an outspoken feminist and had every intention of making Wonder Woman comics into subversive propaganda. He’d use them to subtly fight for women’s rights and show readers across the world that women could be strong, powerful, and wise. (In other words, INTEGRATED!) Marston was also a sexually adventurous man, and littered his Wonder Woman scripts with bondage imagery. He lived with his legal wife and a second, undocumented wife and based Wonder Woman’s character largely on these two women. Gaines may have hired him to quell controversy, but Dr. Marston just ended up stirring the pot![4]Luckily, Wonder Woman comics were a wild and nearly instantaneous success.

 

After William Moulton Marston died in 1947—just six years after the first copy of Wonder Woman appeared—DC Comics quickly began eradicating the feminism, toning down the bondage, and taking the character in a less controversial direction. Over the decades, the company has changed her origin story, re-launched the series multiple times, and made more changes than can be counted. Marston once said, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”[5]His vision may have gotten lost a few times over the course of her evolution, but that powerful core still remains.

Wonder Woman’s origin story

"The gods made the Amazons to restore peace to the world, and it’s what I’m going to do."

~ Wonder Woman

 

Enough about the man who created her! Let’s talk about the hero herself!

 

Again, DC Comics has published several iterations of Wonder Woman’s origins, but the original Marston story is the one that purists favor. In it, Diana is young a princess living on the secret island of Themyscira, a tropical paradise inhabited only by women warriors called Amazons. The Amazons were granted this island by the Greek gods and, Diana’s birth smacks of Greek mythology: She’s the daughter of Queen Hippolyta, but she was brought to life from a clay sculpture![6](Marston did this very much on purpose: He didn’t want men to be part of Wonder Woman’s origin story.[7]) Diana loves her life of learning and sparring and training, having never known any other world.

 

The gods created the Amazons to bring a message of peace to humanity, but they never lived out that fate. Instead, after being enslaved by men for many years, they hid themselves away from the brutality and ignorance of man’s world, and built a matriarchal society brimming with magic and powerful sisterhood. As World War II rages outside their island, they are blissfully ignorant.[8]

 

Then Captain Steve Trevor crashes his fighter plane on the island, and begs for the Amazon’s help in the war. Hippolyta holds a tournament to determine who will return with Trevor, and (of course) Diana wins. She is given gifts by her loving sisters, including the Lasso of Truth and sandals that allow her to run at great speed. She does not, however, accompany the captain back to fight, but instead considers herself an emissary from Themyscira charged with bringing her ancestors’ message of peace to a tumultuous world, a Warrior-Sage.[9]

 

Of course, after she arrives, she is unable to remain peaceful for long. Although she takes on the mild-mannered alter ego of Diana Prince in daily life, she transforms into Wonder Woman whenever she needs to fight the forces of injustice. And she’s been fighting since 1941, in more than 700 comic books,[10]several television shows, and a big-budget Hollywood film.

Wonder Woman’s cultural impact

“If you need to stop an asteroid, you call Superman. If you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But if you need to stop a war, you call Wonder Woman.”

~ Gail Simone, comic book writer

 

Wonder Woman has been an icon of female strength, wisdom, and power for generations. Even women who don’t identify with the Warrior often adore and revere her, seeing her as a level-headed Sage, ardent Lover, or caring Mother to all of humanity. She holds near-universal appeal because she is such a perfect balance of female archetypes. We can allidentify with Wonder Woman on some level.

 

And we’ve all loved and admired her from the moment her comics hit the newsstands. She paved the way for other women superheroes, and did so early in the history of comic books and superhero sagas. She has earned legions of loyal fans, and more join the ranks every day. The 2017 film sparked a new wave of interest, a new throng of young girls carrying Wonder Woman lunchboxes and backpacks to school, dreaming of being as strong and wise as she is. 

 

Our culture loves nothing more than to tear down a powerful, confident warrior woman. Physical prowess, bravery, speaking our minds, showing emotion, all of these things make us targets for ridicule. And millions of women worldwide, when faced with scorn and derision, put their hands on their hips and stand tall, imagining Wonder Woman rising up within them.

 

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[1]http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/feature/the-golden-age-of-comics/

[2]https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/origin-story-wonder-woman-180952710/

[3]Ibid.

[4]https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/origin-story-wonder-woman-180952710/

[5]Ibid.

[6]http://www.vulture.com/2017/06/wonder-woman-origin-story-the-strange-feminist-history.html

[7]https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/6/7/15740202/wonder-woman-origin-story-amazons-marston-explained

[8]Ibid.

[9]Ibid.

[10]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publication_history_of_Wonder_Woman

Get Unstuck: 7 Rock-Solid Steps to Overcome Inertia, Build Willpower and Implement Change by Lorena Knapp

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How often have you said, “I know what I need to do” or “I’m planning on it” but days later (or weeks or months) you still haven’t taken action? You want to do it. You mean to do it. You should do it. But you aren’t.

You’re stuck.

Why? Inertia.

Inertia is the disinclination to move or act.

Inertia is powerful. It keeps us in the job we hate, spending time with “Debbie Downers”, or from shedding the extra 15 pounds. We are creatures of habit. We don’t like change.

To overcome inertia you will need to apply force. In this case, the “force” is the decision to act and moving from thinking to doing.

Overcoming inertia is simple but it isn’t easy. It will be work. You’ll want to slide back into your old habits. Starting an exercise program and getting into shape? Not that fun. Staying in shape? Not nearly as difficult. In the beginning, you will need willpower to develop momentum and establish a new way of being.

What we know about willpower: 

It is a limited resource.

You have a finite amount it willpower. The more choices you make, the more you deplete your willpower. After I’ve been flying for several hours, making countless decisions about the weather, our route, the fuel required, and how to best assist the crew and the patient, my willpower is depleted. This is when I am most likely to make poor food choices. The package of cookies in the vending machine or a fast-food meal seems like a great idea even though I often have healthy snacks in my flight bag.

Finding ways to limit your choices will help preserve your willpower.

Having a system helps. A routine prevents you from having to make as many choices. President Obama’s diet and wardrobe are limited. He says,“I don’t want to waste any time deciding what to wear or what to eat. I have difficult decisions to make.”

Believing in your willpower makes it stronger.

Research has shown that if believe you have the willpower to do something you are much more likely to succeed. If you believe your willpower is weak, you are much more likely to give in or settle. When you tell yourself, I have no willpower to resist moose tracks ice cream (the best ice cream ever), this is true. But if you tell yourself you can resist, then that will be true. Stop telling yourself you don’t have any willpower. You do. Once you strengthen willpower in one area of your life, it will carry over to other areas of your life.

7 Rock-Solid Steps to Overcome Inertia and Implement Change

1. Start Small. All you want to do in the beginning is have a tiny bit of movement. Think of a train. It takes time to build momentum. At first, all you need to do is get out of the station. What is one small action you can take today? Go for a walk? Research job opportunities for 15 minutes? Declutter one drawer? Replace one soda with water? Small actions lead to big dreams.

2. Create a Routine and Make a Date with Yourself. At a recent writing retreat with Ron Carlson, he said, “You wouldn’t not show up for a coffee date with a friend, so why aren’t you showing up for a date with yourself?” He was referring to a writing practice but the sentiment could be applied to anything you want to do. Scheduling a date with yourself is like the “pay yourself first” financial strategy. Carve out time for you. Preferably daily. Make it into a routine. Working on something for a shorter period of time daily is preferable to a longer block of time less frequently. Even twenty minutes is effective. Show up.

3. Be Specific. You’ve scheduled a time for your project. Now make it as simple as possible. Remove as many choices as you can to preserve your willpower. Decide exactly what you will accomplish. I often feel resistance when I am working on my book. Thoughts of “I don’t know what I’m doing” threaten to derail me. At the end of each writing session I make a note about what to work on next. Then when I open my Scrivener file, I skip the scariness of a blank page and instead have a clear direction for the day. Choose what you’ll do for your workout. Decide the topic of your blog post ahead of time. Know what tweaks you want to make to your website. Pick which drawer you will declutter. Be specific.

4. Create Consequences. Consequences can be positive or negative. I work much better with positive consequences. In the beginning, keep the rewards small and frequent. Once you’ve developed some momentum, you will be able to sustain yourself for longer and work toward bigger rewards. I wanted to read a juicy new book about the Pilgrim family but didn’t allow myself to start it until I had finished my writing for the week. What will you earn if you work on your project three days in a row? Dinner with a friend? A movie? Downloading a new song?

5. Believe in Your Willpower. Tell yourself you can do it. Your brain believes what you tell it. If you tell yourself you can be organized, you’re more likely to be organized.  If you tell yourself you work out regularly, you will. Create a new normal.

6. Don’t Worry if You Miss a Day. Don’t let one off day or crazy week derail you. Restart. Recommit. This is about progress, not perfection. Each time it will be easier to get going again.

7. Enlist Support. An accountability partner or a supportive community increases your chance of success. Don’t go it alone. Check in with these people regularly. Tell them about your project. Have them ask you about it when they see you. You can’t fall off the radar when you enlist support.

The hardest part of getting unstuck is getting started. By using your willpower, you’ll build momentum and implement lasting change. What change are you implementing?

 

Photo Credit: Charlotte Anabar

Guest Blogger Bio: Lorena Knapp is a medevac helicopter pilot and writer living in Alaska. Her website, Big State, Big Life, is about sharing the tools, ideas and resources you need to live your own personal Big Life. A life where you are fulfilled and connected with the things and people that matter. No more “somedays,” we are living a Big Life today. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Oh, and you can watch her TEDx talk “Get Uncomfortable: Living in the Yellow” here.

The Sexy Senior Years

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There’s straight sex, gay sex, group sex, bi-sex and tri-sex (I’ll try anything sex).

But let’s go for the ultimate in the closet taboo: Senior Sex! Can you think of a better example of the perfect oxymoron?

Our society is now accepting gay couples, but how do you feel about the subject of parental sex? Let alone grandma and grandpa?

We can be Fabulous at 50, sexy at 60, sin-sational at seventy, excellent at 80! Studies show that over 50% of senior citizens are sexually active.

Older people can and should have sex and any idea that they don’t is a misconception.

Here are 6 ways sexuality is alive and well in our silver years:

1.  Some put the “spice” in hospice. My dad’s girlfriend shared that when he was placed on hospice, he made love to her before hospice and my sisters arrived. Sex is correlated with liberation, vitality and vigor and we all want to hang on to this part of ourselves as long as possible.

2.  The mind is the major sex organ. If only the Playboy and G. Q centerfolds had sex, very few people would be engaging. But since sexuality is in our mind, we can all tap into a sensual and playful role at any age. We don’t stop playing when we get old; we get old because we stop playing.

Case in point: This photo of my Grandma her boyfriend snapped in her swinging seventies. She was not only sexual through her 80’s she was a strong, independent, and spiritual sage.

3.Age is in our mind and this is majorly reflected in our sexual attitude. Some people are old at 20 and others are young at 80. “Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what people think you’ve got. “– Sophia Loren.

4.The need for intimacy and contact with another person doesn’t change with age. It’s a human instinct. And guess what? It’s happening all around us. Viagra is a multi-million-dollar company because it is fueled by men over 50 using its “enhancing” powers. There is a possibility that your elderly grocery clerk is getting more action than you! Don’t let the soft voice and sweet smile fool you. You are never too old for a little or a lot of intimacy.

5. Healthy sex for older as well as younger adults means generally better health. It helps their immune system, blood pressure, bladder control, heart attack risk AND counts as exercise. Just what the doctor ordered apparently.

6. The dating game is still alive and well –online dating sites for seniors has become a booming market. There are just as many opportunities for someone in their senior years to meet ‘that special someone’ (or ‘that special one-night’) than the rest of us!

So, can you enjoy sex without shame as you age? The answer seems to be YES. The older you get, the less you care what people think of you. This goes for any conquests or intimate endeavors, especially. Senior centers and over 55 Gated Communities are havens for this type of activity. Think “Melrose Place” with grandparents. It’s become so Spring Break-like that the medical community has even started making PSA’s around senior STD risks. Without the concern about potential pregnancy, many postmenopausal women find they enjoy sex more, thus do it more frequently, and thanks to Viagra, senior men can deliver those frequent needs.

There are even sexual position books designed for adults with arthritis, back pain, or other conditions.

Some quotes from some of our favorite naughty seniors:

I like to wake up each morning feeling a new man. “– Jean Harlow

Or as May West said,

I’m no angel, but I’ve spread my wings a lot.

The reality of the situation is this, if we are lucky, we will ALL one day be “old”. While we may not want to make it our next dinner conversation, at least stretch your thinking to be “ok” with the idea of senior sex. You once thought kissing was “gross” when you were younger and discovered just how wrong you were later, right?

After all, if the good die young, there’s a whole lot of “bad” to take advantage of.

 

 

LOVER: Anaïs Nin

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The only abnormality is the incapacity to love.

~ Anaïs Nin

 

Like so many great artists, writer Anaïs Nin received more accolades for her work after her death. During the decades she was living life to its fullest and writing passionately about sensual topics, she was mostly ignored and sometimes shunned. Back then she was one of the only writers writing explicitly about sex from the woman’s point of view, and she didn’t shy away from related topics including illegal abortions, extramarital affairs, and even incest. In modern times, Anaïs would’ve been a rebel. Back in the 1940s when she was creating her mesmerizing stories, she was an outcast.

Anaïs may not have become a trailblazer and a rule-breaker until she was an adult, but her formative years had a huge impact on her wild, untamed personality!

 

A childhood among artists

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

~ Anaïs Nin

Born in France in 1903 as Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell (what a mouthful!), Anaïs spent her early years absorbing the cultural wonders of Europe. Her father was Joaquín Nin, a Cuban composer, and her mother was Rosa Culmell, a classically trained singer,[1] so she and her two brothers grew up in a household filled with music. Her father left when Anaïs was just two years old, so the family moved from France to Spain where they stayed until she was a teen.[1] Joaquín was not gone forever, though, and would reappear as a frightening figure in her life just a few years later ...

While in Spain, Anaïs took up a practice that would become totally transformative: journaling. At the age of 11, she began keeping a rich and detailed diary of her thoughts and experiences.[1] These diaries would come to be the source materials for her future books, and many would eventually be published in their original forms.

Also during that time, her father came back into her life, and began to abuse her sexually. She was only nine years old, and would one day recount these experiences in the third volume of her journals, titled Incest.

 

 

Appreciating the Integrated Women

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Appreciating the Integrated Woman

With all the talk of Women Power at the Golden Globes, it makes us think about what that means?

In generalized terms, integration refers to the overall ability to blend into a larger whole and that makes a powerful woman!

When all the different parts of ourselves become balanced and thus strive to give energy to that equalized whole rather than individual segments of the persona we are powerful!

We all have our home life, work life, love life, how we connect with certain circles of friends, our family persona, our leader face and our cut-loose style to name a few personal segments. Basically, there are a lot of faces that we keep in the closet – and we know which face to grab when we are amidst certain situations, circles or individuals. This juggling act can create stress, resentment and even pain in our lives. The confusion of crossing faces can even spill over into our relationships and behaviors. But what if we could just have a “one face fits all” type presentation to the world?  Is that realistically possible?

The relieving answer is YES.  We are fully capable of developing enough comfort and confidence with the various sides of our character to showcase them as a whole instead of spotlighting ourselves as fragmented parts. Our values can hold a steady line instead of wavering on a situational scale.

Throughout our life, we are shaping our identity.  This consists of clarifying interpersonal growth priorities and eliminating our personal defense mechanisms by countering those guards with opportunities to clear our resistance through growth work. 

Integration bestows acceptance of our life events, traumas, and overall history.  We fully acknowledge, embrace and connect with them instead of justifying, denying or holding onto the victim role and re-living the pain. Through the grace of integration, our thoughts, emotions and actions are essentially the same thing in different phases of manifestation.

Obviously, this is easier said than done and can take lots of practice (and even therapy).  But that’s what role models are for, right?  They show us these shifts are possible and they are vital to a life well lived.  Oprah is a role model for many women and you may have someone else in mind too.

As we ourselves in other women they reflect a prism where our different sides come together to create a beautiful reflection of self-expression. 

 Through their example, we see how to overcome the events of our past, and achieve our various goals without the pigeonhole effect.  They are able to blissfully blend various callings, convictions and qualities, allowing this combination of their powerhouse personas to bring their life to another level of attainable fulfillment. They are in a sense, our integrated icons. 

 

Here’s one of my role models….

Katharine Hepburn: Liberated and Integrated

 

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

Katherine Hepburn

A key ingredient found in an integrated woman is a fierce independence.

And by fierce, we mean a woman with full confidence in her very spirit.

Screen legend Katharine Hepburn was such a woman, but she moved beyond a fighter to integrate her mother, lover and fighter instincts to live a colorful successful life. As a screen legend she broke barriers for women. And as an individual, she didn’t fall into the norms of what a women “should” be.  Her individualization quality led her to be an icon. I picked her because she inspires me to be my best self and move beyond what is expected of a woman.

Not only was she self-assured in her acting abilities, she was also confident in her various convictions –whether they were popular or accepted by the general consensus. 

She was gifted not only in her acting abilities but in having strong confidence in herself- sticking to her likes and convictions whether they were popular or not in her time. With her unconventional lifestyle and the independent characters she brought to the screen, Hepburn epitomized the “modern woman” in 20th century America and is remembered as an important cultural figure.

How often could we use a little pep talk towards owning our own passions and principles?

Here are 10 ways Katharine illustrated how to be an integrated woman who owns her convictions:

1.  She refused to conform when it didn’t feel right.  She listened to her inner wisdom.   We all have this quality, but sometimes don’t tap into it to be our best selves. How often do we find ourselves making decisions based on what our mother, friends, or colleagues would do?  We regularly place the reactions of others above our own satisfaction or beliefs.  Have you ever bypassed an outfit you felt amazing in based on what you feared public perception would be? Katharine was wearing pants (“trousers”) long before it was socially acceptable for a woman to do so.  Imagine the looks she garnered when she graced the room. Even as a young child, Katharine was bold in her persuasions, embodying a tomboy who cut her hair short and preferred to be called “Jimmy.”  In an interesting twist, she ended up starring in a movie alongside Cary Grant as a woman who masquerades as a boy for the majority of the film (of course, she cut her hair short for the role).  Later in life, she was cast in a film that was a frontrunner in dealing with interracial marriage “Guess who’s coming to Dinner.” She also became a supporter for birth control and a woman’s right to choose. Throughout her life, she followed the beat of her own drum.

2.  She rose above criticism.  While acting in theatre, Katharine was bashed by many critics for her “shrill” voice. Instead of cowering and letting that comment keep her from ever gracing a stage again, she took the criticism constructively and signed on with a voice tutor, continuing her acting endeavors all the while.

3.  She dusted herself off after her mistakes.  On the opening night of her first theatre leading role, Katharine showed up late, mixed up her lines, tripped on her feet, and spoke so fast the audience couldn’t understand her – and was promptly fired that night.  Not to be deterred, Katharine sought and captured another leading role in a different play two months later. She then went on to be fired (for an assumed lack of talent) in four more plays, until her breakout performance in The Warrior’s Husband.  In this role, all of her greatest attributes were finally able to shine.  A Hollywood agent in the audience took notice. She was an instant success in the very first movie role she accepted. Had Katharine quit after her 1st, 2nd, 3rd or even 4th dismissal, we may not have one of our most legendary icons, a woman we look up to today.  It is often tenacity, more so than talent, which brings forth a star.

4.  She never gave way to intimidation.  When Katharine made the switch from performing in a theatre to film acting, the move was not without adaptations on her end.  But she was notably never intimidated and went head to head with some of the industries leading stars, all while collecting raving reviews.

5.  She wasn’t afraid to insist.  When Katharine saw the script for Morning Glory on a producer’s desk, she instinctively knew she was born to play the central character, Eva Lovelace, and insisted that she be cast in the role.  She went on to convince the producer, by using her lover and mother qualities kindly nurturing the producer to convince him she was right for the role. In my own life I live by “ you can get more bees with honey. “ I admire her for never appearing like a “ bitch” and yet she got her way.  Yes, she ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Actress, officially solidifying her as one of Hollywood’s key players.

6.  She could brag about herself – and mean it.  We tend to classify bragging about oneself as vain, but on the contrary, isn’t a good dose of self-appreciation excellent for the soul?  Katharine sure thought so!  Notably her favorite role was “Jo” in Little Women, and she was publically proud of her performance. She was once quoted as saying, “I defy anyone to be as good [as Jo] as I was.”  Because she believed in herself, she supported herself  financially. What freedom! “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”   This is not only sage advise, but it allowed her to be a lover and a mother. she nurtured all women to be independent and love who she wanted, not who she  needed to support her.

7.  She remained humble…not meek.  Amidst her peak of fame, Katharine took a role in the film Spitfire.  In it, she played an uneducated mountain girl named Trigger Hicks. Katharine is said to have kept a picture of her character (Trigger Hicks) in her bedroom to keep her humble and inspire her. Success never went to her head, even if she was mega confident! A sage quality is knowing we aren’t the center of  the universe, but can still make a difference.  I relate to this in that I want to hear and write inspirational stories. I’m writing about the wives of wounded warriors’. Finding unsung hero’s is humbling and motivating. Shining the light on them through a book or a movie inspires us all.

8.  She wasn’t afraid to be the “bad guy.”  If we are honest, a lot of our desires go unmet simply because we don’t want to be viewed as the bad guy in the situation.  Katharine marched right over those self-imposed barriers and always remained true to what felt right for her.  She refused to give interviews to the press and even once wrangled a camera from a photographer’s hand when he took an unauthorized photo of her. She opted not to speak to fans or give autographs, and distanced herself from the celebrity lifestyle as she thought the glitzy social scene was superficial. She rarely appeared in public and even chose not to frequent restaurants. She was extremely private but never felt the need to embark upon a justification tour. She wasn’t defensive, but very warm and more interested in others , the qualities of a lover and mother.

9.  Age was never an excuse.  At an age when most Hollywood starlets begin to slip quietly behind the curtain, Katharine took some of the biggest risks of her career and dove even deeper into her craft and pushed her comfort levels. These pivotal years are said to be the heart of her legacy.  She inspires me that we don’t hit our peak at 30. If we are lucky enough to live until 80 we can have many peaks. I hear girls in their 20’s say it’s too late to go back to school or start a new career. She shows us that we can live out all our colors. Life doesn’t end at 40. If we allow our mother, lover, fighter and sage to shine life is fun.

10. She took responsibility for her controversy. And her way of living out her lover archetype. “If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.” Katharine partook in a long-standing, 27-year affair with fellow married actor, Spencer Tracy.  While the two’s relationship spanned nearly three generations and nine films, she never once pressured him to leave his family even when his wife reportedly “encouraged” him to see other people and they remained separated in different homes for the majority of their marriage.  Katharine never denied their relationship. She wasn’t the one who broke the contract, as she was single. She is also known for saying . “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything. “  and “Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”  She received all the romance and never the dirty laundry in her relationship with men. As a single woman I can relate to her. I admire her for paving the road for single women. I’m not a spinster and I’m not willing to settle just to look good to society, or not live alone. I love being single with romantic relationships.

11. She always pursued other passion outlets.  Often times when we find our niche, we let that niche define us. Katharine, however, made it a priority to continue adding passions to her repertoire and was an enthusiastic swimmer, tennis player, and painter.

Thank you, Katharine, for paving such a spirited trail for other Integrated Women to follow!

Stepping Stones:

With social media, society’s opinionated threshold is at an all-time high in influencing our attitudes and ideals. It’s easy to conform simply to avoid condemnation.  What is a way you have stood up against an element of conformity in your own life?  What is a way you wish to take a stand?

Katharine was a veteran at dusting herself off after perceived failures. What is a series of setbacks you have overcome?

Katharine insisted on the role that led to her first Academy Award. Have you ever felt so strongly about an intuition that you insisted upon it?

Katharine could brag about herself – it can be healthy! Go ahead and give yourself a hearty dose of brag.  What trait, accomplishment or asset are you proud of? How can you be so grandiose to see your self in a famous icon? We all have Katharine’s traits, but the key is tapping into them to live the life we imagine. Can you be bold enough to live the life you want?