I believe we can be anyone

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you like everybody else is to fight the hardest battle you can fight--but never stop fighting! E.E. Cummings

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Courage

Act boldly and unseen forces will come to your aid.



Dorothea Brande

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Freedom



Love is like a butterfly;

it goes where it pleases,

and  pleases wherever it goes.

- Anon

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Part 2: 11 Ways to Feel Beautiful

Here's part 2 of:  How to Feel Beautiful.   Again, the parts in italics are from Oprah magazine January 2010 edition written by Jenny Bailly.  Enjoy!

6.  Just say "Thanks."  When you compliment a child on her dress, she doesn't respond, "Oh, I don't think it fits quite right."  (But she might say, "Thanks!  And look at my shoes!  And my braids!  And did I tell you I'm the third tallest girl in my class?")  Stop deflecting praise about your appearance.  Simply say "thank you" when someone compliments your thick hair or sparkling eyes.  You - and your admirer - will feel better about the exchange, creating positive reinforcement that makes you both want to give and receive compliments more often.

Giving and receiving is an important exchange.  When a compliment is deflected back, it dishonours the giver by not allowing the compliment to be fully received.  It's like giving a gift back.  If someone wants to give a gift to you, please give them the gift back of seeing you receive their compliment. 

Sometimes not being able to receive comes from a lack of self esteem.  It may be low self worth.  Sometimes it comes from not wanting to seem arrogant.  But these are false beliefs and ideas.  Practice the art of receiving and just say "Thanks."  It will become easier with time.

7.  Wear color.  We're not talking about a fuschia pantsuit.  Just a pop of color - say, in a necklance or scarf - can light up your face and your mood.  Not sure what to add to your wardrobe of black and greige?  Try blue:  "It's universally considered a 'happy' color and there's a shade that looks good on everyone," says fashion stylist Joe Lupo, coauthor of Life in Color.  If your skin tone is warm (it looks yellow-orange next to a piece of white paper), choose royal blues; if your complexion is cool (it has a more pinkish cast), try icier blues or aquas.

I lovvveee color.  Black isn't the best color around my face, but if I punch it up with a plum purple scarf around my neck, it totally compliments me and brightens me up.  Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things.  You can start small with accessories.  And who knows?  Maybe you will surprise yourself and start adding more color in your life.  I personally have olive skin (yellow-orange tinge) and I don't like royal blues.  Turquoise and brighter blues look nicer on me, so remember there are no hard or fast rules here.  Go with what looks good on you and what feels good.

My home is my creation and I love to use colors that may not look good on me; but in my home it's a different story.  Color can totally change our mood.  I painted the whole apartment a few years ago and I don't regret doing that whatsoever.  I look around and feel happy.  My home is my sanctuary.  I painted the kitchen orange and I love it.  It makes me happy when I go in the kitchen.  Have fun with color and give it a go.

8.  Loosen up.  "Body image can be externally influenced - by a number on a scale or an image in a mirror - but it's also affected by physical sensations like discomfort," says McGonigal.  When you wear clothes in the smaller size that you want to be (or once were), the feeling of constriction sends a constant signal to your brain that you're not thin enough.  This isn't an appeal for elastic waistbands ("Looking like a schlump won't do much for your body image either," Mcgonigal says) but for clothes that are both elegant and comfortable - in the size you are now.

I'm all about comfort but I also know from experience that what I wear influences how I feel.  I have clothes that I feel comfortable and sexy in and that also look good on me.  You don't have to be uncomfortable to look great.  I pretty much live in yoga pants but I will wear a top I feel sexy in and dress myself up with jewellery. 

I went through a period in my life where I dressed like a schlump because I was 40 pounds overweight.  I worked hard over the last ten years to lose all that weight and I enjoy showing off the fruits of my labour.  When I was overweight it certainly affected how I felt about myself and it showed in how I dressed because I wanted to hide my body.  My physical exterior reflected how I felt about myself on the inside.  My point is:  if you feel good about where you are at with your weight and with yourself, it will show in your confidence no matter what the number says on the scale.

Make sure the clothes you wear fit you correctly.  There's nothing worse, no matter what size a woman is, when she is wearing something that fits too small, shows too much skin or isn't age appropriate.  If you feel uncomfortable in something, it will project to those around you.

9.  Give yourself a reality check.  Unless you live off the grid (and if you're reading this, you probably don't), you're bombarded with media images of willowy, poreless women.  It's human nature to compare yourself with these images - but if you're not a supermodel, you'll come up short.  Until such pictures are stamped with warning labels (an idea British and French lawmakers have proposed), when you catch yourself in the act of comparing, remember that these pictures are incredibly unrealistic - engineered by teams of lighting experts, makeup artists and a tricky little computer application called Photoshop.  They're created to make you feel insecure and encourage you to open your wallet.  "Studies of teens have shown that increased media savvy does reduce comparisons and negativity about appearance," says Kerry O'Brien, PhD, a psychology lecturer at the University of Manchester.

I have been telling women this for years now.  You can never compare yourself to people in magazines, celebrities and models.  There is a major amount of airbrushing and work with computer software to make people look completely different from reality.  Remember the Dove commercials?? 

Celebrities and models have a team of personal trainers, makeup artists, stylists, etc. to help them maintain an image.  I, too, spend a lot of time, energy and money on maintaining an image when I was a dancer:  working out in the gym, going to tanning salons, getting my hair done, watching what I ate.  And this was for an image of the dancer persona I created.  I realized if I looked a certain way, I would make more money and get more work.

There is nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves and wanting to look good.  After my dancing days were over, my intention changed.  It wasn't about how I looked as much as it was about how I wanted to feel.  When I shifted this perspective to wanting to feel good, I started to look good as a result.  I started to work from the inside out both mentally, spiritually and emotionally and then physically I started to feel better too.  Amazing how that works.  It's all about balance.

10. Choose your friends wisely.  Recent research shows that our social networks have a profound effect on our behaviours and attitudes - including how we perceive our appearance.  "It's hard to feel good about your looks if you're surrounded by people who criticize their own," says Etcoff.  "Spend time around people who are confident in their bodies and you'll find yourself following suit."  And if you don't already have a few gay men in your circle of friends, you might want to add some:  A study published last year in the journal Body Image, found that friendships with gay men can elevate women's body esteem.

I find gay men fascinating.  They are just "out there" in the metaphorical and literal sense of the word.  They are who they are and they have fun.  Sometimes they are hard on themselves (after all they are human like the rest of us) but generally I find gay men lovely to be around because they are supportive.  I work with a few gay men in catering and I always have a great time when I work with them. 

If you don't have gay men friends, at the least, be sure to have friends that love, accept and support you for who you are, no matter what their sexual orientation.  It is soooo important.

11. View yourself in a flattering light.  We mean that literally, as in change your light bulbs.  White coated incandescent bulbs cast a wash of soft, pretty light says lighting expert Dan Blitzer, president of the Practical Lighting Workshop.  The Phillips Natural and GE Reveal brands also filter out yellow tones for a clean white light that goes easy on all skin tones.  Consider the placement of your light fixtures as well:  "When light reaches your face from all directions, it minimizes lines and shadows," says Blitzer.  In your bathroom, replace overhead lighting with fixtures on either side of your mirror. 

Fluorescent lighting is the worst.  I love candlelight and dimmer lights.  I like these suggestions above too.

All in all, my journey is about learning to love and accept myself for who I am.  It's about learning to be gentle and forgiving.  It's about finding and seeing beauty in myself and others.  It's about evolving and growing and being as authentic as I can be.  Being authentic has its own rewards.  It means being who you are completely, fully and wholly.  This journey isn't just about me though.  Because in going on this journey I will learn to be empathetic to those around me because they are on their own journeys too. 

So remember, we are all in this together.  We are not alone.  And remember, be kind to those around you.  Everyone, from time to time, struggles with self-acceptance and feeling lovable.  Choose to see beauty and you will see it in yourself and in others.