Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

Smile in the mirror. Do that every morning and you'll start to see a big difference in your life. Yoko Ono

For many of us female-type people, it's not easy to look in the mirror.

We're hard on ourselves. We don't just see our reflection. We see body parts to be criticized and judged. We ask ourselves: Is this a bad hair day? Do I look fat in these pants? What's going on with my chin(s)?

Constant criticism is a form of abuse. We wouldn't tolerate it from anyone else, but we do it to ourselves. I know a woman who goes as far as cutting her face out of family pictures. Where does that kind of self-loathing come from?

Of course, to be entirely honest, has there ever been a picture taken of me that I haven't judged harshly?

Five years ago, I had a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. When I looked in the mirror, I saw utter and complete damage. My body image was in the toilet. I was angry, broken and overwhelmed.

Little by little, my body healed and I came to accept the changes breast cancer had caused. Yet, I still judged, even though no one knows better than I the traumas (miscarriages, infertility, cancer, abuse) this body has taken and survived magnificently.

And there it is. I dared to say it.


It's not easy to admit, but it's actually easier to criticize than it is to celebrate my body. I don't want to be "full of myself," so I become lesser. I'm afraid to seem conceited. I'm embarrassed by compliments. I don't want to appear to have a big head.

I'd be ashamed to get caught smiling in the mirror.

In the end, it's not about what we see in the mirror. It's about who we see. Can we love and accept ourselves from the inside out?

Can we say with complete conviction: "I'm enough!"

I've watched the video above more than once and teared up every time. With all of the social conditioning females are subjected to and how hard it is to own our magnificence, can we ever look in the mirror and see what those who love us see?

It's not easy, but maybe we can take it one smile at a time.



P.S. The video reminded me of a book I recently read, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It. It's short and sweet inspirational reading. Check it out!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Road to Woodstock, Connection, Robert Sturman & Lots of Rain

How did I end up in a cornfield in Woodstock, NY, with Lockey Maisonneuve, and Robert Sturman, world class photographer/artist? 

Interesting story.

Back when I had cancer, I told my therapist about a Pilates class I took. Because of my surgery, when I found myself flat on my back attempting to lift my feet off the floor, they wouldn't budge. I was so upset, I wanted to run out of the room. The only thing that stopped me was the carnage I imagined I'd cause by stomping the other women in the class on my way out the door. 

My therapist told me about a rehabilitative exercise class for breast cancer survivors, led by Lockey. I wasn't thrilled about trying another class, but desperation sometimes pushes you past your comfort zone if you let it.

Long story short, Lockey and I became friends.

That was five years ago.

Yesterday, we took our road trip to Woodstock to meet Robert, who travels the world shooting photographs of yogis that transcend the physical into another realm entirely. Lockey, a yoga teacher and creator of the Let It Go Workshop, was the subject, I was the supportive, helpful friend. The photo session started, and so did the rain. 

After camping out in our cars for the worst of it, we ventured out into the cornfield. The ground was soaked (why are my rain boots warm and dry in my closet?) but it really didn't matter.

Magic happened.

The older I get, the more I realize it is impossible to live well without connection. Sure, it was a joy to meet a famous, incredibly talented photographer (and a really lovely man.) But, more important than that was the connection the three of us shared in that field, being a part of creating something amazing.

And, even better than that was spending the day, driving, talking, eating, and in and out of the rain with one of my closest friends in the world. 

So, when I found myself in that Pilates class stricken with grief at how much cancer had taken from me, it wasn't the end like I thought it was. It was the beginning. 

The road to Woodstock started five years ago on that floor and in my therapist's office when I let myself be vulnerable and tell my story to someone I trusted to help. 

The moral of the story is to ask and you shall receive. If you're lucky (and why shouldn't you be) you might end up witnessing an incredible artist make art and sharing beauty and connection with souls I never would have encountered otherwise. 

Oh, and never stomp your way out of a Pilates class. It's just not good karma.



PS: You can read more about our Woodstock adventure at WhereWeGoNow.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Mindfully Experiencing the Language of the Flowers

In the United States in Victorian times, flowers were used by discreet lovers to communicate coded messages of romance. The practice actually got so involved that a bouquet could be used to convey a message about a secret rendezvous, with the date and time coded by the number of leaves on a branch.
Today we all know red roses signify passionate love, but most of the language of flowers has been forgotten. I thought it would be fun to bring it back, especially as flowers symbolize so much more than expressions of love. 
A good example is the chrysanthemum, or "mum," which is everywhere you look this season. Because it's a late bloomer, it symbolizes joy, optimism and the promise of hope in dark times.  
This fall, try to let every mum you see remind you to feel that hope and experience the beauty of the autumn season.  With just a moment of mindfulness, you open yourself to really seeing all the beauty, hope and optimism the world provides and you can't help but feel gratitude.
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