5 Keys to Forming (or Changing) Your Perspective

fullsizeoutput_dcf4.jpeg

Consider this story that American philosopher and author Wayne Dyer told. While he was living in Florida, a woman he met at a book signing explained that she had just moved there and asked, “What is it like living here?” Dyer replied, “What was it like where you came from?” The woman smiled and explained that where she came from people were warm, kind, and helpful, and that she had a close circle of friends and felt as though she belonged. Dyer replied, “That's exactly what it's like here.”

Later that same day, another woman asked him the same question: “I’m new to Florida. What is it like living here?” Again, he answered her question with one of his own, “What was it like where you came from?” She replied, “We moved because it was terrible there—people were snobby, the cliques were hard to fit into, and I never felt welcomed. I really didn't enjoy living there.” To which he replied, “That's exactly what it's like here.”

This story demonstrates that you filter any situation through your lens of beliefs to help you respond. In other words, reality depends on your perspective. The filter you choose affects the world you see. Choosing a positive filter means living a life filled with opportunity. Choosing a negative filter means a life of limitations.

What do experts say about choosing a perspective?

1. You Have Blind Spots

In her book, The Blind Spot Effect: How to Stop Missing What’s Right in Front of You, mindfulness trainer Kelly Boys presents emerging interdisciplinary research from psychology and neuroscience, showing that everyone has blind spots visually and cognitively, and through learned biases. She believes these blind spots sabotage judgment and lead you to become stuck in behavior patterns that don’t serve you.

Sometimes others see these spots more easily than you see them yourself. At other times, by using self-reflection or through meditation, it becomes possible to witness your own patterns and shed light on a hidden or limiting aspect of your nature. Once you pinpoint a blind spot, you can't unsee it. With this light, new possibilities emerge.

2. Optimism Is Useful When It Is Realistic

Often positive thinking gets a bad rap simply because people are assuming it’s blind optimism, that Pollyanna-ish way of forcing positive thinking because you think you should. Realistic optimism is the ability to see situations accurately and believe deeply that the future will be good even if the current situation isn’t as you would want it to be. The good thing is that even if you are naturally more pessimistic in your thinking, you can strengthen your optimism by practicing. When you catch yourself in negative self-talk, just change your direction.

3. Perspective Isn’t a Thermometer, It’s a Thermostat

How your perspective leads you to act or not act in a given situation is something you control. Imagine you are running late for work. As you drive, you hit red light after red light. If you see perspective as outside your control, this scenario might have your temperature boiling. If you can see it instead as a thermostat, you have the power to think in a way that supports your control of how your respond to the situation. You don’t get to control the traffic lights, but you get to manage your reaction. This is where you can turn the thermostat down using tools like reframing your thoughts, breathing mindfully, or even re-routing your drive.

 

4. How You Think Is Important

As you think, ask yourself if you are being:

·       Nonjudgmental

·       Compassionate

·       Curious

·       Patient

A first step in perspective taking is recognizing whether your thought process is helpful or unhelpful.

·       Unhelpful thinking is associated with being rigid, avoidant, and pushing against the reality of the situation. It tends to be black-and-white and can present as refusal to accept a situation, blaming others for the situation, and avoiding and suppressing feelings.

·       Helpful thinking is associated with solutions, flexibility, and acceptance of reality. It tends to be problem-focused. It prompts you to seek information, encourages acceptance of situations, and involves humor and positive reframing.

5. Perspective Falls Into Three Areas

There are three types of perspective:

1.    Thoughts

2.    Feelings

3.    Actions

Action sometimes feels like the realm most under your authority. Actions refers to doing something observable. The action is your response to the stimulus after your thoughts and feelings create a filter. You are not a puppet; you are in charge of your actions.

Your thoughts, on the other hand, can feel out of your control. Your inner critic runs a constant commentary of what you are doing and how you are doing it and isn’t always kind. It can also feel challenging to turn the volume of this voice down or to set your mind free of the patterns of thought that have been part of your life since childhood. Meditation practice helps.

Feelings may be the realm where you feel the least in command. In psychologist Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, he explains the two-system approach to choice and judgment.

1.    System one is the fast system that operates quickly with little sense of voluntary control. This system has deep influence on your choices and judgments before you have time to think.

2.    The second system is the effortful mental activity system that requires you to slowly process your thoughts.

System two believes itself to be where the action is, but system one is the hero.

Reflection on past actions, time spent examining your beliefs, or a meditation practice will help you develop the skills of metacognition (thinking about thinking) and be a witness to your own life (observing your thoughts, feelings, and actions in a non-judgmental way).

It takes effort and practice to change your perspective. Over time, you will become more aware of your perspective and with this awareness comes the ability to try on another person’s perspective. This allows for connection to those who may seem different or unrelatable. Use your perspective-taking skills regularly and, like a muscle, they will grow.

 

fullsizeoutput_dd61.jpeg

Tell Your Story, Heal Yourself

Part 4: Connecting to Your Inner Self Through Writing

1490823577112.jpeg

Many women have asked me to write their stories after reading my memoir, Unbridled, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife. Writing these books taught me the healing power of storytelling. While it is sometimes challenging to be honest and raw about aspects of our journey, the more we open up the better we can see our lives from a different perspective and make clearer decisions going forward. Putting our experiences into words transforms and heals.

 

With that in mind, here's the fourth post in my series on the power of storytelling.  Every journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Let’s begin writing the stories of our lives whether we publish them or not. In August, I'll be leading a writing workshop for the wives of wounded warriors in partnership with Hearts of Valor, and will dig even deeper into these themes! If you're interested in attending, you can apply here to join Hearts of Valor.

 

But for now, let's talk about the power of automatic writing and how it can help us understand our own psyches.

 

A different kind of journaling

So much of our formal education focuses on writing the “right” way. From a young age, we're taught spelling and grammar, then sentence format and paragraph structure. We're given strict parameters and told to wedge our writing into them.

 

Journaling can feel less rigid. With no assigned topics or grades to be earned, we feel freer to express our innermost feelings and yearnings. But even keeping a traditional journal may be a bit confining. Once we've learned the “rules” of writing, it can feel strange and unnatural to break them. So we journal using many of the same constructs we apply to formal writing assignments.

 

To truly tap your inner voice, try automatic writing or stream-of-consciousness writing. This means literally writing whatever words flow into your mind, with no judgment and no editing.It can feel odd at first and you will definitely end up with some passages full of gibberish! But only by giving your mind and soul totally free reign will you be able to access the deepest, most well-hidden aspects of your true self.

 

Journaling exercise: Free your writing mind

Set aside a solid chunk of time—at least an hour—and situate yourself in a quiet, calming spot. Get your journal and pen, and breathe deeply before you begin.

 

If your mind begins to rev up all on its own, follow its lead. Write down every thought, word, and sentence fragment that floats into your head. Do it all fluidly and never judge what is coming out. In fact, try not to analyze at all. Just let the words flow onto the page. You can read them over later.

 

If you need some prompts, here are a few probing questions that can help you learn more about your inner life and hidden desires:

 

  • Write about the moment you knew something important had ended.
  • Write about a gift you gave to someone which was not appreciated.
  • Write about your ideal day.
  • Write about a vivid sexual memory.
  • Write about being sick in bed.
  • Write about a selfish fear.
  • Write about an old dream.
  • Write about where you would travel to today if you could.
  • Write about your values.
  • Write about something you are no longer sure of.
  • Write about something you wish you could still do.
  • Write about homesickness.
  • Write about confusion, and how it feels in your body.
  • Write about satisfaction, and how it feels in your body.
  • Write about the person you hope to become.

Tell Your Story, Heal Yourself Part 3: Creating the Space for Your Story

rumiquote.jpeg

Many women have asked me to write their stories after reading my memoir, Unbridled, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife. Writing these books taught me the healing power of storytelling. While it is sometimes challenging to be honest and raw about aspects of our journey, the more we open up the better we can see our lives from a different perspective and make clearer decisions going forward. Putting our experiences into words transforms and heals.

With that in mind, I'm launching this series of posts on the power of storytelling.  Every journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Let’s begin writing the stories of our lives whether we publish them or not. In August, I'll be leading a writing workshop for the wives of wounded warriors in partnership with Hearts of Valor, and will dig even deeper into these themes! If you're interested in attending, you can apply here to join Hearts of Valor.

But for now, let's talk about how to create the space in your mind and life that will allow creativity to flow in.

 

Creativity through stillness

If you walked through a mall or school or coffee shop or park, how many people would you see who are doing nothing? Staring into space, contemplating their tea, or gazing at the clouds? With the proliferation of mobile devices and a culture that increasingly encourages us to do something — anything! — every moment of every day, we are conditioned to keep our brains constantly active. My guess is that you wouldn't see a single person on your walk who wasn't absorbed in reading or typing something.

But if we want to allow our creativity to grow and blossom, if we want our inner selves to step forward and speak, we need pockets of stillness. We need quiet time without distraction or activity, meditative moments in which we let our rational mind sleep and invite our creative mind to awaken.

We also need to allow our minds to wander without judgment. Especially when we're returning to stillness after a long time away, it can be tempting to censor or evaluate all of the untethered thoughts that flow in. It's so easy to impose learned meaning and interpretations on the images and ideas that enter the stillness … but giving them time and space to settle is essential.

Here are some mediation and journaling exercises that will help you reacquaint yourself with stillness.

 

Meditation and journaling exercise 1: The language of imagery

Get your journal and pen and set them to the side. Sit or lie down and focus on the sound of your breathing. Concentrate on being in your body, think about relaxing each limb from your head to your toes, bit by bit.

Allow your mind to free-associate. In all likelihood, you will be visited by a stream of images. Some will be memories, some will be fantasies, some will be things you can't explain. Let them all flow through you unimpeded.

 

When one that feels particularly emotional or significant arrives, try to linger there. Let it unfold, explore it as deeply as you can. Then open your eyes, grab your journal, and write as much as you can remember. If you feel moved to do so, continue the action where your mind paused it. Write fluidly and without judging yourself. Don't worry about spelling or grammar or even if what you're writing makes sense. Just let it flow from imagination to paper.

 

Journaling exercise 2: Becoming a conduit

Pick a topic, scene, or story that you'd like to write and hold it in your mind. Then release it and make yourself present in your body for a few long moments. Close your eyes, breathe, let your mind wander. Then pick up your pen and begin writing whatever comes out, whether its related to your original topic or not.

By doing this, you are channeling more than creating; You are letting your subconscious do the driving. The words and images that flood your mind may seem unrelated to your pre-selected idea, but if you let them come naturally you're likely to see deep connections forming. Creativity does not travel in straight lines. It flourishes in the undefined spaces in between.

 

Journaling exercise 3: Tapping memories

Find a photograph of family members, a past lover, or a treasured memory. Gaze at the image in quiet contemplation, allowing your mind to drift into the past. Close your eyes and try to remember the smells, textures, and sounds from this scene. Write everything you recall and feel, focusing specifically on the emotions that return to you. Let go of your busy mind, sink down into your body, and allow the image to work on you.

 

Meditation and journaling exercise 4: Encountering your deepest desires

Close your eyes and concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing. As you exhale, think or say aloud, “I release all fear of this inner journey.” Repeat this thought on the next two exhalations. Once you feel grounded, begin the next phase of this meditation.

Imagine yourself on a long and winding path. Perhaps it flows through the woods or across the mountains, in a place you know well or one you've never seen before. Travel the path in peace until you reach a large metal gate, sturdily locked and wound through with vines. Reach into your pocket and you will find a key, also metal, sturdy, and heavy. Insert the key in the gate's lock, turn it, and watch as the gate swings open. Breathe again, and release your fears. Walk through the gate.

Inside, you'll find a garden brimming with vibrant plants and flowers. Imagine the garden's layout and design in a way that feels welcoming to you; Perhaps it's an Asian garden with still pools and flowing bamboo, or a rambly English garden filled of bright blossoms.

Now imagine a house within the garden. This house holds your dreams, so create it as a place that is beautiful and comfortable to you. You approach the door and find it locked, but again find the necessary key in your pocket. Unlock the door, and enter.

Stand inside the house and breathe into the feeling of having come home. Find a spot, your favorite spot in the house, to settle and imagine a physical manifestation of your soul in the room with you. Many people envision an animal or bird, but you might see a flower or jewel or other precious object. Sit with your soul for a few moments and commune. Then ask it, gently, “What do you want most of all?”

Don't expect a simple or singular answer, but instead open a dialogue. What you hear and learn will not be the only or final answer for all time, simply the one your soul offers to you today.

Open your eyes, and write down anything that floods into your mind and heart. It often works best to begin by writing the question, “What do you want most of all?” Then write everything that comes to your mind, without thinking or judgment.

 

Re-learn trust

Many of us turn to meaningless busy-ness because we don't feel comfortable letting our minds wander. We fear what might emerge if we allow formlessness to take over. But re-learning to trust ourselves and our imaginations is essential to unlocking our deepest desires and essential stories. I hope some of these exercises help you begin to rebuild that trust yourself.

And if you are the wife of a wounded warrior yourself and would like to share your story in person with other spouses, I would love for you to apply here to attend SPA Day in April! By opening up to others you will heal yourself, connect with others to feel less alone, and help those around you begin the healing process.

 

Can't wait to share more on the power of storytelling with you next week!

Tell Your Story, Heal Yourself Part 2

1488568211130.jpeg

Embracing Both Light and Dark

Many women have asked me to write their stories after reading my memoir, Unbridled, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife. Writing these books taught me the healing power of storytelling. While it is sometimes challenging to be honest and raw about aspects of our journey, the more we open up the better we can see our lives from a different perspective and make clearer decisions going forward. Putting our experiences into words transforms and heals.

With that in mind, I'm launching this series of posts on the power of storytelling.  Every journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Let’s begin writing the stories of our lives whether we publish them or not. In August, I'll be leading a writing workshop for the wives of wounded warriors in partnership with Hearts of Valor, and will dig even deeper into these themes! If you're interested in attending, you can apply here to join Hearts of Valor.

But for now, let's talk about the importance of embracing your shadow self as you explore your story.

Without darkness, how would we see the stars?

Some of the strongest forces in our lives push us toward goodness, being good, striving to be full of light and hope and positivity. We hear these messages from our parents, our teachers, spiritual leaders, writers and philosophers. And of course striving to be optimistic, kind, forgiving, and selfless is admirable and important.

But we all have a shadow side, an inner darkness. And denying its existence is just as unhealthy as allowing it to rule us every hour of every day. 

Leading a healthy, fulfilling emotional life isn't about forcing happiness. It's about finding balance between joy and sadness, peace and anger, light and dark.

My own fascination with archetypes is what drove me to name my foundation for four powerful ideals that reside within every woman: Mother, Lover, Warrior, Sage. Renowned psychologist Carl Jung's fascination with archetypes drove his entire body of work, much of which encouraged people to explore and embrace their shadow selves. He believed that every person is a synthesis of contradictory attitudes, that we all possess opposing traits and the tension between them is what causes us to act. Many of us know our own faults, the parts of our personality that seem negative, even destructive. But without those traits, we would not be ourselves.

Jung once said he thought his worst trait was obstinacy, but acknowledged that without that trait, he would never have achieved so much. His stubbornness made him relentless, ambitious, curious, and driven—all things that helped him become successful.

As you begin to tell your own story, consider your shadow self. Remember that negative traits can have positive outcomes, and that your supposed “faults” are essential to your true self. Let's look at some journaling and meditation exercises that can help you re-cast your own inner darkness.

Journaling exercise 1: Balancing the negative

Make a list of your own personality traits that feel negative. Focus on the ones that you believe are keeping you from achieving your full potential or blossoming into your true self.

Then go down the list and identify which traits are driven by logic, which ones are driven by fear, and which ones might be a bit of both.

The purpose of this exercise is to understand what is keeping you from your true purpose. To name it, claim it, and find ways to move forward mindfully. Perhaps your need for stability is preventing you from chasing a creative dream, or your feelings of inadequacy are hold you back from becoming a bold leader. You won't achieve those goals by eradicating the darkness. Your challenge is to integrate the two selves, find ways to turn those “weaknesses” into strengths. It's the opposing pull between the two selves—the stability-lover and the creative, the timid one and the leader—that gives you the momentum to act. In fact, without the traits that appear to be “holding you back,” you might not be capable of identifying why a certain goal is so important to you.

How can you leverage those “negatives”? How can you tap into the internal tension between light and dark to propel yourself forward? Write down any thoughts or ideas that come to mind.

Journaling exercise 2: Giving voice to your inner desires

Change can be frightening, but without it we stagnate. And your inner self knows this, and has been nudging you toward change, whether you realize it or not. Take a few moments to center yourself in a still, calm place, then answer these questions:

  1. What tiny hints or quiet voices have been reaching you from your own unconscious mind? What are they saying? What changes do they want you to make?
  2. Has this happened in the past? What happened when you ignored these internal signals?
  3. Are you living the life that is right for you? Or are you living a life that someone else imagined for you that fails to sync with your own soul's purpose?

When we feel we aren't living our true life, we often cast about for someone to blame. Parents and spouses are easy targets, since their needs and desires have such immense impact on our own. Their voices may shout down our own inner voices, and cause us to be delayed on our journey. But delay and abandonment are not the same thing. If you've been paused because of other voices, other desires, remember that you can begin your journey again as soon as those voices hush and you feel ready to continue.

Journaling exercise 3: Reasons and fears

Write down something you've desired or dreamed of doing for a long time, but have hesitated to really pursue. Underneath this, make two headings: Legitimate reason, and Fear speaking. Consider your reasons for inaction, and be honest about which falls into which category.

You may find that some of your reasons are linked to other people in your life, that you've not taken action because you worried that doing so would hurt someone you love. It's true that following our inner guides may hurt those close to us, at least temporarily. But it's much easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, and most families have an easy time forgiving happy, fulfilled human beings. When we walk our walk, the Universe supports us … and in the end, so do our loved ones. Even if they misunderstand or resist at the start.

It's a trap to let that fear of hurting others stop us. When we fall into that trap, we fool ourselves into believing that other people are standing in our way. The truth is, with rare exceptions, the only person to blame for not living our bliss or listening to our inner voice is ourselves.

Mediation exercise 4: Seeing your shadow self

Create a visualization of your own dark side. Pick something resonant and conceptual; an animal, bird, archetype, or object that resonates with you.

Face your shadow form in whatever shape it takes. Try to become comfortable with its presence. Then ask the question, “What is the shadow side of my soul?” Write this question down, then write absolutely anything that comes to your mind immediately afterwards. Don't judge yourself, just let the words come.

When you've finished, read over your messages from your dark self. Say aloud, “I accept this part of myself without judgment. Though I choose to stand in the light, I will listen to the voice of my shadow and learn.”

Your shadow is you

Remember that the darkness within you is as essential to your story as the light. Ignore the shadow, and it will start coming out sideways. You're better off to look it in the face, accept its role in your journey, and make peace with the natural conflicts within.

And if you are the wife of a wounded warrior yourself and would like to share your story in person with other spouses, I would love for you to apply here to attend SPA Day in April! By opening up to others you will heal yourself, connect with others to feel less alone, and help those around you begin the healing process.

Can't wait to share more on the power of storytelling with you next week!

Tell Your Story, Heal Yourself Part 1

1531846777642.jpeg

Asking Ourselves Important Questions

Many women have asked me to write their stories after reading my memoir, Unbridled, and Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife. Writing these books taught me the healing power of storytelling. While it is sometimes challenging to be honest and raw about aspects of our journey, the more we open up the better we can see our lives from a different perspective and make clearer decisions going forward. Putting our experiences into words transforms and heals.

With that in mind, I'm launching this series of posts on the power of storytelling.  Every journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. Let’s begin writing the stories of our lives whether we publish them or not. In August, I'll be leading a writing workshop for the wives of wounded warriors in partnership with Hearts of Valor, and will dig even deeper into these themes! If you're interested in attending, you can apply here to join Hearts of Valor.

But for now, let's talk about storytelling as a tool for reconnecting with ourselves.

Exploring your inner past

Sharing our stories is vital to our healing processes. When we write, we show ourselves compassion.  Navigating the events of our past can help us access own inner Sage. Our inner wisdom, our intuition, what some call the voice of God.

Journaling requires more of us than just talking and thinking. Writing forces us to access different parts of our mind and opens up other realms within our psyche. Write drunk and edit sober! Meaning, write first uninhibited and don’t worry about the finished product. For some, the final transformative step in recovering from or understanding the past  is to edit on a computer and publish their work, but just journaling is transformative, too, and the first step toward publishing. Write truthfully and fully, but with great compassion. 

Telling your story, sharing your struggles and triumphs, is one of the most powerful actions a person can take. Casting yourself as the hero in your own tale, seeing your journey on the larger stage of the world, and recognizing your power to create change helps you cultivate empathy and perspective. And when you won't or can't tell your story, you can end up feeling trapped, alone, lost, and constantly wondering what's missing from your life. Telling your story to just one person will connect you out of your isolation and will heal other people realizing they are not alone.

So what's the first step in writing your story?  Mindful journaling.

Journaling exercise 1: What do you want?

Before you can undertake mindful journaling in earnest, you need to unlock your goals. Writing uninhibited about anything that comes to mind can be very freeing, but healing requires more focus. So ask yourself:

  1. What do I want?
  2. Can I admit this is what I want? Most of us feel guilty saying what we want or don’t even take the time to ask ourselves this question.  Can we give ourselves permission to ask for what we want and own it?
  3. What are my options? How can I move toward getting what I want?

Be honest and open as you answer these questions. You don't ever need to show your answers to anyone!

Journaling exercise 2: Changing vocabulary

Think back to a specific event in your past that was disturbing or difficult. Now make a two-columned list and label one column “Negative” and the other “Positive.” Under the first, make a list of negative words or feelings you are holding onto about this event and would like to release. Under the second, either try to capture the flip side of the negative word (instead of “frustrating,” try “challenging”) or just add a gentler, more positive word or emotion you'd like to associate with this experience instead.

We can do this in one of two ways.

  1. When you encounter a trigger and would ordinarily think, “I feel frustrated, pissed, angry” try removing yourself a little. Say, “Frustration is there” instead.
  2. When your “frustration” trigger comes up, think back to the flip-side version of “frustration” that you listed in your Positive column. (Challenging.)

These changes sound small, but they can have an astonishing impact!

Journaling exercise 3: Perspective and the active narrator

Consider a troubling event from your past. When you re-visit this episode, and feel the emotions associated with it, does it feel like something that is being done TO you? Step back, breathe, and re-envision it. Write a new version of this story from your past. You can do this in one of two ways:
Create some distance by writing the story as yourself today. When you summon the memory, you drop yourself back into a younger self. Instead be the current version of you, and write about the event as someone who has a different perspective, more knowledge, and the emotional support to cope with whatever happened back then.
Allow yourself to fictionalize the episode. Make yourself an active narrator, or even better a hero. Write a version of this story where you take control, shift the power dynamic, and create a more satisfying ending. Think this is lying? Well, the way we remember past events may be more influential and important than the events themselves. And in some cases, completely rewriting those events can help us heal.

Attitude and control

The events of your past are in the past, and you cannot change them. You can rewrite them, shift your perspective, and do your best to heal, but you cannot fully erase them. And you shouldn't want to. Instead, focus your energy on what you CAN control: changing your attitude toward them. These mindful journaling exercises will help you do just that.

If you are the wife of a wounded warrior yourself and would like to share your story in person with other spouses, I would love for you to apply here to attend SPA Day in April! By opening up to others you will heal yourself, connect with others to feel less alone, and help those around you begin the healing process.

Can't wait to share more on the power of storytelling with you next week!

Find Your Inner Beach

 

Happy First Day of Summer!

IMG_8060.jpeg

What a waste of time and energy we expend! Most of our stamina during the day is spent on things/activities that don’t really matter.

We are bombarded with pressures to accomplish this, acquire that and measure up to someone else’s standard. We go to bed at night with our minds racing of yet what we need to do, feeling that whatever we have accomplished is not enough. Our poor souls are flooded with the misguided notion we need to do “more”.

Why don’t we remember who we really are and why we are really here?

Besides the mental ambush, we are bombarded with “notifications”. Our peace and quiet is disturbed with beeps, ring tones, chimes, horns and a host of other alerting sounds calling us to more action.

Sometimes we need to take a vacation to “get away”…get away from our normal routine to put things in bigger perspective. We need some “me time” some “alone time”.  When we can “get away”, all the items on the “to do” list seem a little less important.

With a travel vacation we find new surroundings, different people, and diverse milieu, we are forced out of our rut and jolted into a new awareness, like a breath of fresh air. The pressures gripping us release, our shoulders may drop and we exhale experiencing true peace.

But instead of waiting for a yearly getaway, I think we need to carve out “beach time” during EACH of our busy days.

fullsizeoutput_d9da.jpeg

What gives you peace? How do you maintain an attitude of calm, keeping your life centered amid the pulling pressures without jumping on a plane to “find your beach”? 

Besides meditation there are other “getaways” that can help us like taking a walk, listening to music, yoga or just sitting still relaxing with breathing exercises in the quiet.  Maybe lounge in a bubble bath. Do you like to paint, play the piano, dance or swim?

Make time for yourself… plan your getaway.

Whatever we choose, we need to unplug (maybe literally), to find our own personal beach bringing peace to our busy souls.  

 Find your beach….

Thank you to Pattykogutek.com for this post.

If you have a blog post to share please email me at Barbara@barbarmcnally.com

Have a Beachy Day!

 

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

22.jpg

 

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.

91342355_madonna-zoom-829c8d88-6c36-4e50-ad50-18f1b82c5e5e.jpeg

 

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]  

Madonna-3-the-queen-of-pop-29067496-570-428.jpg

 

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.

madonna-topless-instagram.jpeg

 

[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

165054-800w.jpeg

 

 

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.

dita-bloomingdales-lingerie1.jpeg

 

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.”

dita-von-teese-models-star-lift-lingerie-line.jpeg

 

[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/