Get Real: Inside Out on Aging + Beauty

After two months of researching, talking to friends and family in person and online, and thinking about getting real about aging and beauty, I’ve come up with a bottom line.

You need to love yourself enough to be yourself and take care of your body (and mind.) If you’re living a life of purpose, you’ll be happy at any (every) age. 

Aging doesn’t have to suck. And “fighting” aging is sucky vocabulary. It’s a marketing ploy. Instead, I say come at aging from a place of love and gratitude, not FEAR. And this is coming from a marketer, too. Instead of buying into the commercialization of “staying young” try instead FULLY EXPRESSING YOUR UNIQUE SELF.

Our image is our personal brand. What's yours?

Our image is our personal brand. What’s yours?

I approach the way I look as IMAGE. It’s my personal brand. But I’m not following a trend, I’m using how I dress, how I wear my hair and do my makeup as CREATIVE EXPRESSION. That’s what will make us each happy. Not dressing how our parents think we should, or your work or your partner. So with that in mind – coming from a place of love that we are given ONE MIND AND ONE BODY in this life, it’s our responsibility to take care of it as long as it’s our vessel. 

I spoke with a doctor recently about aging and this is what she said and this is how I’d like to kick off our “hierarchy” of aging well and expressing our authentic image and how we can do that. These are all top tips I found from my research as well as my own life experience.

1. Aging/wellness/beauty begins within. What you eat impacts how you feel, how your hair, nails and skin looks, how our organs function, etc. SO EAT CLEAN, GREEN AND LEAN. I don’t get women who are morbidly obese yet have perfect nails. Let’s take responsibility for what we put in our mouths. That’s our number one defense to “fight” aging. LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO MAKE HEALTHY CHOICES. The bad food we eat can give us cancer as much as smoking can. And if you even smoke “socially” cut that shit out. Don’t make me pull out my list of deceased loved ones who were killed from smoking.

Love yourself and keep smiling.

Love yourself and keep smiling.

2. If you are fit, you’ll feel younger (and look younger). Not only will you have WAY more energy, but you’ll be able to do all the things you want to do as you age including adventure and having the stamina to tackle your big dreams. Since I started working out every day I have about TWICE as much energy as before. The way you feel about yourself is huge. You’ll feel more confident and likely you’ll want to really take care of yourself in other areas like how you dress and want to show your best self. You’ll smile more which always makes us look more beautiful! WHY do we wait until we’ve become overweight or get a disease and a doctor “forces” us to work out? The other night at the Y I was thinking about this while doing hamstring curls and I look up and here comes an amputee on the track, walking slowly but he was doing it. He’s working out. That’s a perspective moment right there. We are able bodied and even if we aren’t we can make what works work harder and better for us if we do it. Start now. In college I worked out every day and even after kids I tried to stay in shape, but I’d gotten lazy about it. I was only working out once or twice a week and justifying not working out more as being “too busy” yet I spent way too much time on FaceTIMESUCKbook. PRIORITIZE YOUR SCHEDULE. You should love your body more than you love Facebook (or TV or whatever else you are replacing it with.)

3. Decorate your body to show your best self. Here’s the deal. We can’t see what someone eats, but our first impression comes from our image and humans (especially men) are very visual creatures. In your mind’s eye, put yourself in the middle of the room wearing a typical outfit. How do you look? Do you feel fabulous in it? Dress to feel amazing and GET RID OF ALL CLOTHES THAT ARE NOT BECOMING ON YOU. INVEST IN YOURSELF. Find out how to dress for your body type. This link will tell you what your body type it and how to dress for it.  This is your chance to show off your PERSONAL STYLE so have fun with it. You can honor your body type and have fun with color, patterns, jewelry and so on. I’ve been purging my closet for about two months and it feels great to no longer see the things in the closet you know you’ll never wear again. It’s a relief and you’ll make room for things that make you feel awesome. How I dress is how I see myself: colorful, fun, sometimes sophisticated and glamorous. Brainstorm what those things are for you and then start shopping. How do you see yourself? Is there a celebrity or someone in real life that inspires a look for you?

A little yoga in nature. I call this the frog pose.

A little yoga in nature. I call this the frog pose.

4. Decorate your mind. Two things. If we think negatively about aging, we’re going to constantly feel bad about it. But if we think about it from a place of LOVE, then we can say “I love myself and I want my face to closer look like I feel inside” or “I want my body to be able to do all the things on my bucket list I haven’t accomplished yet” instead of bemoaning what we can’t do or how age is destroying our bodies. Because IT’S NOT. I got “decorate your mind” from a spiritual teacher, Osho, whose book I’m reading, “Mindfulness in the Modern World”. While his statement is about mindfulness, it totally applies to aging and beauty because this is your life. Fill your mind with things that bring you joy – great reading and conversation and hope and add in nature and art and surround yourself with beautiful things that inspire you. And if you hate your job or your life or your mental health needs some attention, then, no, you won’t enjoy aging or think you are beautiful from the inside out. Take care of you, please. We need to do what we want to do NOW because the future may not be there. Living a life of purpose and fulfillment is the key to happiness and then age really can feel like a number. I feel so much better than I did when I was in my 20s and 30s. I’m wiser and more confident and healthier and finally feel like I’ve found my personal style and am pursuing all the things I love. All. The. Things.

5. Select the tools for taking care of yourself.  Look at the tools available, the time and energy (and money) you want to invest – prioritize what you want to transform the most and then DO IT NOW. I wouldn’t be in good shape without all my teachers – Zumba, body conditioning, hip hop, piloxing and even online with blogilates. They push me. They are my tool to reshaping my body and keep me motivated, too.

Why do celebs who are in their 40s and 50s still look like they are in their 30s? And most of them are WITHOUT PLASTIC SURGERY. They do these things to stay looking good probably years before we wake up and think about it. These tools are available to all of us (if we can afford it.) Again, found these from multiple articles online.

In order:

  • SPF all over our bodies, year around and especially our neck/face/chest. 80% of aging is from sun damage. Yikes. If you already have sun damage, you can reverse it with treatments and good skin care.
  • Good skincare that exfoliates, moistures, protects and restores. This likely means a good strength Retin A (from a doctor) that improves collagen and elastin, as well as using creams and serums with peptides and other vitamins that help exfoliate and can actually reverse wrinkles. Skin care gets expensive fast and don’t think you have to buy an entire line and every cream and serum out there.
  • Great hair – no matter the color. Having a great stylist who knows how to cut your hair for your face as well as the texture of your hair is huge. It’s really hard to pull off styling it everyday if you are starting with a bad cut. I asked friends if they would go gray or not and three decided to already (in their 30s and 40s) and they opted to go gray because of the time and expense of keeping it colored. Obviously we look younger without gray but, newsflash, not everyone cares about looking younger. Our hair is a big part of our image and identity so if the style you have now isn’t reflecting how you want to feel, change it.
  • The right makeup. My daughter believes no woman looks good without makeup. I wouldn’t go that far, but it does go far in bringing out our features and giving us the dewy complexion our “natural” face may have lost.
  • Fillers and Botox. We lose fat and collagen as we age AND we have bone loss (even in our face). I know. That stinks because it means the skin starts to sag which causes wrinkles, pockets, etc. SO when you see a celeb over 40 with a fresh looking face, she likely uses some Botox for wrinkles as well as fillers to add volume to the face. You don’t have to go nuts, either. If this is an area that bothers you, go see a doctor about what it would cost and come up with a plan. It’s worth it if you’ll feel better. Either decide to live with it (acceptance) or do something about it. No use whining over LIVING ANOTHER DAY/WEEK/YEAR. Really.
  • Photofacials and laser procedures. You basically are resurfacing your whole face. Look at realself.com and you’ll see the types of things you can do and the before and afters. Personally I hope to not have to go to this extreme for awhile, but it really does roll back the years. You look like a burn victim for up to two weeks on some of them but for those with a lot of sun damage, it’s really amazing how they can fix that.
  • Surgery. I didn’t research surgery much but if you do want some type of tuck or lift, just get referrals and maybe see more than one to see who you trust for what. Guys want women to look good, yes, but REAL. A great face lift that’s done well should be almost unnoticeable as well as the use of fillers and Botox. If not, yikes.

We can’t make a decision without knowing what the options are and how we feel about it, right?

Doing what I love: stories on Sooner Spaces and spending time with people who make me happy. (Love you, Jill!)

Doing what I love: stories on Sooner Spaces and spending time with people who make me happy. (Love you, Jill!)

I also think it’s important to find things you LOVE about your body and write those down. Too often we look in the mirror and only see the things we want to change so right now come up with FIVE THINGS you love about your body. Mine are: blue eyes, my long, curly brunette hair, my smile, my thin wrists and ankles and honestly I don’t know about the fifth but I’ll think on it. Maybe my body type (hour glass-y) and height (5’6″) though I used to HATE my shape because I was constantly comparing it to everyone else (and size 0 sorority sisters) and always wanted to cover myself up instead of dressing for my type. In college I dated a guy who looking back on it actually wanted me to have a completely different body type and I felt terrible about myself. He wanted me to have smaller boobs, tan skin  and likely shorter. I realized (too late) he really wanted me to look like his ex-girlfriend who had more of a Paula Abdul look. (if you put Paula and I on a spectrum I’m pretty sure we would be at opposite ends!) Ugh. When I dated guys who loved my body type, I felt much better about myself. I mean, duh, right? One guy said, “you look like a woman should look” which was much nicer than someone giving me a mental boob reduction and spray tan. Geesh.

When I decided to get real about my life, I knew I’d make a transformation inside and out and it isn’t easy but it’s the most important thing we can do to fully live our purpose. Be your best YOU. Don’t listen to the naysayers who will try to get you to still eat junk food with them or tell you that you work out too much or don’t like the way you do your hair or dress. Forget them! You aren’t expressing yourself for THEM. If they don’t support you, kick them to the bottom of your priority list. Seriously.

We also have to be realistic about what we can achieve. We can transform our minds and bodies within limits but we can’t suddenly get Beyonce’s booty or a 20 year old’s youthful glow. (And besides that, we romanticize celebrities and the youth because if you hang out with college students, you’ll see they have other skin problems like acne that you may not have anymore.)

I’ll close with the same bottom line:

You need to love yourself enough to be yourself and take care of your body (and mind.)

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’re new to my Get Real series, you can see the other topics I’ve wrote about in 2014 my scrolling back through my blog. Next week I’m talking about why we need to stop apologizing. I’m sick and tired of being sorry, aren’t you? What the hell? 

 

 

Get Real: Are you attracting what you want?

Do you know what you really want and how to get it? This week we’re getting real about the Law of Attraction (which was around long before The Secret came out).

Quick definition: “I attract to my life whatever I give my attention, energy, and focus to, whether positive or negative.”binoculars_blondewoman

It’s pretty no-nonsense, basic stuff. Got it: whatever you put your attention to grows. If it’s drama in your life, guess what? More drama. If it’s working toward a goal, well, lookie there, you reached it! If you are focusing on the wrong thing or too many things, then we may not see those gifts as quickly.

LOA is not about sitting and wishing and hoping but the more clear and defined about what we want, the better. Then we act on it.

I would have NEVER finished a novel if I didn’t put my attention, energy and focus into them. Or finding the right house or any of the other things I’ve obtained.

BUT IT’S MORE THAN GOAL SETTING. It’s a push/pull, see-saw type of thing between you and Universe which is what I think is way cool about it.

I like to think of it as the energy of the Universe in play for you. You send out signs with your intentions and actions and the Universe conspires to make those things happen. Yes, it does seem like they are “appearing” for you, much like signs, but the truth is we may just be becoming AWARE of them because our eyes are opened and we’ve put that thing/person/goal at the forefront. It’s making invisible connections when we don’t even realize it.

WE’RE OPEN TO THEM, NOT CLOSED OFF. We can be our own worst enemies on keeping great things away from us. Which is sad, isn’t it?

I do think it’s a powerful magnet though, drawing in those things that you are seeking. It’s awesome to witness in your life. And if it’s  purpose-driven thing, a “meant to be” situation, it will happen. We don’t know WHEN, so we do have to be patient.

I’m an Aries, fire sign, ENTJ type but my zest for life could still mean I’m running past the things I should pay attention to, so if your personality is similar to mine, you may have to tell yourself to slow down and do things like daily meditation, yoga, sitting in stillness, connecting with nature and becoming a better listener so you can stay attuned to the signs along the way.

Also my anxiety and rumination has gotten in the way of the natural law of attraction because my thoughts were consumed by the wrong things and anxiety often begets anxiety. I’ve come a long way in the last six years with all of that, but I still find I have to pay attention to it and force myself back in the present moment if I’m thinking unproductively. (Good daydreams don’t count as that’s creative exercise.)

How is LOA working for me now? I started working on a new challenging book and I’ve been blown away with the generosity of my sources, but should I be? Thing is, MOST PEOPLE ARE KIND AND WANT TO HELP. That’s right. Whatever your goal is, people will rise up to help you with it, especially if you are authentic, kind and positive.

Does that mean you have to be positive “all the time” for it to work? We all have bad times but that shouldn’t define who we are. I’ve had a TON of setbacks and emotional times where I was swimming against the tide, but you don’t have to let those bad times drown you.

However, if we are negative, pessimistic and have a chip on our shoulder a lot of the time, that’s likely what we will SEE FIRST and we’ll attract MORE OF THAT. Yuck.

I’m narrowing my focus and being more careful about where my energy goes and I hope you will, too. I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Remember to pay attention to your intuition as your guide. I wrote about that last week. 

What if your goals are ego driven? Like, I want a big house, a luxury car, the lottery, a hot babe? Will the Universe give in to your “selfish” demands? I love what Deepak Chopra had to say about how LOA and the Law of Detachment work hand in hand:

The two go together as integral functions of creativity. You don’t do them simultaneously, but sequentially. First you desire, then let go. The impulse of individual desire can only be supported by the universe if we let go of our attachment and ego control and allow Nature to come in and fulfill the desire in a way which is in harmony and balance with everything else in the universe.

Look, I don’t claim to be any sort of LOA expert. I’m just here for the ride like the rest of us, but I think it’s important. It helps me keep my eye on the prize and remind myself that I am too scattered and that I’ll get more of the good stuff by being more intentional (which is why that’s the theme this year to live with intention) and do my part to make my dreams come to fruition.

I’m letting go of a lot this year. Physical, mental, emotional. It feels good and it’s scary but I do appreciate that I’m listening to what I need to hear and taking heart and taking action. I’m trusting that the Universe has my back, that I’ll have my eyes open when the signs and opportunities are there and everything with work out as was meant to be.

What do you think? Too “out there”? Can you see how LOA manifests in your life and those around you?

I do recommend vision boards and mantras to writing down your goals and key words and photos to help you keep those things you want in life top of mind and then watch how things start rocking and rolling.

Book connection:: Yes, I DID write a book with the theme of the karma and the law of attraction, set in Mexico, called LIFE’S A BEACH. It’s a fun beach read and I thoroughly enjoyed writing it years ago. It’s still my best-selling novella.

UPDATE ON MY WELLNESS GOAL #writerwellness

Two of the first posts this year were on getting real about getting up and eating healthy so it’s time for an update.  I’m sitting less thanks to the standing desk I wrote about and even eating better than I was at the start of the year. Over the last month I went from working out 2-3 times a week to something every day. So I’ve lost 14 lbs. since last summer and am thisclose to reaching my waist measurement goal. I’m not going to be paranoid about it though. At this point, it just feels great to be the same size I was when I got married in my 20s before I started having children. And actually my shape is a lot better and I’m eating way better than I did back then even though I was a vegetarian. I still ate a crapload of crap food.

I feel amazing and have a TON OF ENERGY and that’s what really matters. I’ve lost a dress size and almost two dress sizes, which I’m not entirely happy about because I really liked some of those clothes and feel bummed that they don’t fit, but it’s always a good excuse to go shopping for new ones. Baggy clothes are a big pet peeve so off to Goodwill they go.

Friends have asked what I’m eating and how I’m exercising so happy to share…

Food:

If it’s clean/green/lean, I’ll eat it. (I STILL HATE CARROTS. GAG.)  I eat turkey and chicken, but not really pork or beef. Only rarely. And even then my protein is small in portion to my veggies. And I do one or two meatless days a week.

If it’s fake food, I probably won’t eat it. (That’s about the sum of things since I don’t count calories or carbs – sounds like too much work – but I will get more specific.)

I eat every day: almonds, spinach, plain Greek yogurt, a banana, Grape Nuts with blueberries and almond milk. For lunch I make a smoothie unless I’m meeting someone for lunch and then I just pick a healthy option and ask for dressing on the side. I add natural peanut butter to my smoothie for a protein mostly because it’s easy and I always have it around. I also like boiled eggs for protein and tuna at least once a week.

 

Dr. Oz claims that if you try something 7 times you’ll acquire a taste for it. I recently did that with giving up mocha iced coffees and doing iced coffee with cream only instead. The first three times, I was like, GAG, but now I’m used to it. And weirdly enough, it still feels like a treat.

I don’t have much sugar, carbs or cheese. Yes, most things have some sugar and some carbs but abstaining from bread and potatoes isn’t that big of a deal. If I craved a french bread with butter, I’d totally dig into it, though. I’m not going to get ridiculous.

I’m not sure if that sounds radical or not, but it doesn’t feel it to me. I feel full and grab a healthy snack when I’m hungry so it’s all good. I think the key is I don’t feel that I’m depriving myself. If I wanted to splurge on something, I’d probably just rationalize that I’d work it off the next day, but I really don’t have that craving.

I’ll still drink wine occasionally, though not as often as I used to. I kind of like saving that for nights out or wine with a girlfriend. I also like a light beer every now and then.

HERE’S HOW I MOVE MOREIMG_2777

I do Zumba 2-3x a week and total body conditioning 2x a week (at Co-Motion in Edmond, OK) and yoga and pilates (blogilates.com) at home with an online instructor. I do hip hop at least once a week, which is a bit more legs and buns work than Zumba. I’ll likely join YMCA so I can have some more options like being able to use the treadmill and bike when I’m reading or brainstorming so I can sneak in a little more as well as add in some more weight training just for toning/sculpting.

I found working out only twice a week wasn’t nearly enough. The daily cardio combined with fatiguing the muscles in classes like total body conditioning is really what’s reshaping and definitely made me lose those last 5 pounds a lot faster. I really underestimated how much of a difference more cardio could make. The last 5 pounds were a total surprise but it makes sense that I was burning more than I was taking in. So, duh.

Just one little note about working out: if it doesn’t burn, if you don’t feel like jelly when you’re done, if you feel like you can make it easily through the class YOU’RE NOT WORKING OUT HARD ENOUGH. This is why I can’t work out solely on my own. I’d never push myself the way my instructors push me.

I like a good challenge and get bored easily which is why I mix up my routine so much. I’ll be adding some other things to the mix and keep you posted. I love the outdoors so when the weather is nice, I like to walk or jog trails, bike and already have planned a hiking adventure with one of my besties, Kelley.

My energy is off the charts which is the best part for me. The endorphins and adrenalin are positive additions to my life and I’m getting a IMG_2852lot more accomplished all around, with a smile. (Even though my body does hurt – mostly muscle aches – but I think, okay, it’s working.)

I do think we each have a “natural size” that’s likely right for us and that’s dependent on our body types and genetics so I’m just going with the flow. Mostly I’m just enjoying the journey.

Good luck on reaching your fitness goals and thanks for reading. Message me or leave a comment if you have any questions.

As blogilates says, TRAIN LIKE A BEAST, LOOK LIKE A BEAUTY.

xoxo

-Malena

 

 

Get Real: Are you Trusting Your Intuition?

Do you trust your inner voice? How can you tell the difference between intuition and desire or reasoning?

Intuition is “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious

Intuition: a window to alignment.

Intuition: a window to increased awareness.

reasoning.” So it’s more like a “blink response.” I think of it as pre-thought which comes from the higher self – that part of self that knows what’s good for you and what isn’t. Part evolutionary, part spiritual. It’s your “gut feeling” and “instinct.” I’ve always called them “vibes”.

Typically it comes across not even as thought but FEELING – negative or positive. It could also be a strong reaction in your body. It could be your body telling you to flee a situation or almost like a premonition that something is going to go wrong. What intuition ISN’T is that blink response mixed with emotion and thought because you’ve added more ingredients to the recipe to change it from the original form.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t follow our intuition. Here’s what Psychology Today said:

In essence, we need both instinct and reason to make the best possible decisions for ourselves, our businesses, and our families. Unfortunately, many of us—even when we experience success using this lesser acknowledged part of us-are uncomfortable with the idea of using our instincts as a guidance tool. We are embarrassed to say that we follow hunches, we mistrust the sometimes-cryptic messages that our instincts send to us, and consequently we diminish our capacity to leverage the power of our own instincts when we need them most. Our discomfort with the idea of relying on our instincts is based on millennia of cultural prejudice.

We may not trust our unconscious mind, but we should. I see it as the “top floor” of my mind  - a tropical open-air space with the infinite ocean and horizon beyond it. It’s so expansive that I don’t need to understand it. I just know that it’s a gorgeous space and I should trust it.

What’s below – my conscious mind  - is a squirrel circus full of its share of lions, tigers and creepy clowns. So when I get the gift of intuition – like a ray of light poking down through the circus tent – I very much pay attention.

Intuition isn’t just reserved for the “arty” or “out there” people. We each have it working for us – we just need to listen and tap into it. As someone who has always been a daydreamer and deep thinker, I’ve been in touch with my inner voice since I was a little girl. When I would lay in bed at night with bad thoughts, a voice said to me, “everything’s going to be okay. You’re going to have a great life.” When that happened, I didn’t judge where that voice came from. God? Angel? Higher self? I was too little to put a label on it, but I felt intense peace and my anxiety abetted. And that voice was right. I do have an amazing life.

You can tap into your intuition more by doing things like journaling (highly recommend the book Writing Down My Soul) and by practicing stillness (such as meditating or even quiet time where you DON’T THINK). One way to achieve this without simply sitting is to get out into nature. While walking (which is great for us) we can concentrate on the things we see in our path and not let our thinking minds take over.

Your intuition may also come as an a-ha moment, especially if something was vexing you. Recently, I was in a situation I was unsure about and then one day, my inner voice gave me the answer I needed. My conscious mind was like, “hey, I had no idea.” And my higher self was like, “yeah, that’s why you need me. Don’t forget it.” (My inner voice is like the sassy big sister I never had.) So I trusted what my inner voice told me and made the decision to move forward based on that input.

Thing is, reasoning would have told me to make the opposite decision, which is why it’s so hard to predict. I’ve also made a wrong decision based on HOPE. When my estranged mother moved to town and tried to have a relationship with me and my sisters, my inner voice told me it wasn’t going to work  - and that it wasn’t working very quickly – my reasoning and emotion said, “no! Try harder! Switch tactics! Be nicer!” And so on. It was only after a life coach confirmed what my inner voice already told me that I paid attention.

I rely on my intuition to lead me on my creative endeavors. My ego mind would tell me to write the next 50 Shades of Gray, but my higher self picked a much more challenging project that I would never have chosen if I’d simply brainstormed it. My awareness has grown so much that it feels like my circus tent is flapped open. I’m constantly receiving, listening and responding. The other day I called a friend after an important meeting and told her, “My intuition is telling me they are going to pick  such-and-such name.” Sure enough, a day later, the client called and said they had picked that particular name out of 20. I had no idea how I knew it would happen, but I did.

You have to turn off your inner judge to let your inner voice come through. If you keep tackling the voice running with the ball, you’re never going to get down field. 

Try it and see what happens.

Book rec: The Art of Intuition by Sophie Burnham 

Next week, I’m going to talk about the Law of Attraction (and I don’t mean sexual attraction.) A friend recently asked me if I always get what I want. Another friend told me that I seemed lucky and that good things tend to happen to me. I just consider it the Universe giving me what I’m asking for as well as what I need, which is the basis of LOA.

’til then. xoxo

Malena

Get Real: My Top 5 Parenting Fails

Out of all the weeks I’m “getting real” about this year, this one might be the hardest. Why? BECAUSE PARENTING ISIMG_7662 THE HARDEST JOB IN THE WORLD. I know we all know that, but because we don’t get a degree for it and *some* of us didn’t take family and consumer sciences in high school, the whole parenting thing can feel surreal. I’m supposed to do what? For how many years? Bathe? Feed? Counsel? Console? Teach? Whaaaaa???

Or maybe it’s just me.

I’ve written a lot – in reality and my fiction – about my own parental issues (quick synops: raised by my paternal grandparents and was estranged from my biological mother for twenty years and then on again for about four and then off again for going on seven years.) So, hey, if you’re raising your kid and doing the best you can, give yourself a pat on the back because you are sticking with it.

Of course doing the bare minimum simply isn’t enough because a) we want to be super parents and b) society is very judgy-judgy no matter what decisions we make so it’s easy to think we’re always failing. Also, it feels incredibly easy to screw our kids up.

So let me get right to the point with MY biggest parenting fails, past and present.

1. Not giving the kids my full attention. Whether I’m on my phone or in la-la land where my brain can typically be found, I’m not in the present moment and that’s a daily struggle and one I hope to get better. But, let’s face it. This will always be my cross to bear.

2. Letting them eat junk food. Even though I’m on a relative health kick, I still let the kids eat too much sugar. Think about it: sugar is practically in EVERYTHING. While I *want* to be a super freak about nutrition, I do let them get sodas on occasion and our pantry is always stocked with Cheez Its. Today I even bought my teen daughter a Happy Meal after school.

3. Going too easy on them. I’m pretty sure I could be stricter both in length and severity of punishments. I love when they try to negotiate with me on anything (I think it’s a critical life skill) but honestly I could just be being lazy and/or soft. Yet I always swear I’ll be tougher next time. I could also push them harder – in everything – their clubs, leadership, getting a job, and so on. But I don’t. I give them a talk – sometimes stern, sometimes peppy – and then see how things roll.

4. Harming themselves right under my nose. Think it matters that you’re RIGHT there with your kid all the time? Let’s see, my kids have had so many bruises and falls right in front of my eyes from when they were toddlers and would miss the pillow and hit the bricks or tripping on the pavement as I held their hand, or all the times I used to bonk their heads into the door frames when I held them. I also likely was there when they rolled off a bed or a changing table and they probably also slipped under the water in the tub while my hand was around their slippery arm. While I do make my youngest where his helmet when he bikes, I don’t make him wear it while he scooters. What the heck? That makes NO sense. Actually much of parenting makes no sense to me. And accidents happen. And sometimes the world sucks, so there’s that.

5. I’m too paranoid/I’m too trusting. Again, this is an example of how you can fail on both sides of the coin! Sometimes I’m too paranoid (I’ve told y’all about my anxiety and OCD ruminations) and other times I’m too trusting. Do I have my eye on my kids 24/7? Nope. In fact, I was so trusting when my son was in kindergarten that when he had his FIRST playdate over and they were in the backyard playing, I went upstairs to get something and when I came back down, they were GONE. He’d never taken off before – always stayed where I told him to and behaves so it blew my mind he’d run away the first chance he got with a friend to show off. In those few minutes, they had gone in to the garage, got scooters, raced across TWO streets to the playground where I found them frantic minutes later. And, NO, they didn’t put helmets on themselves, either. Man, I was so upset over that one that I cried to my movie club about it that weekend. Other times I feel so paranoid (or simply cautious) that I feel I’m encroaching or being too helicoptery. JUST YOU WAIT FOR IT, PARENTS OF LITTLE ONES. It gets even HARDER when they are teens, not easier. Like driving, dating, activities away from home? Yeah. Hellah hard! Just in a different way.

Thing is, we probably all make these fails and more. I’d like for us to cut ourselves some slack AND try to be the best parents we can be. We need to ask forgiveness when we’re wrong and be good listeners and great teachers and good role models. That’s not just tough as a parent, that’s tough as a human being. But that’s kind of why we’re here on earth, right?

This week, I’m getting real about DOING WHAT I SAY I’LL DO and really trying to stay in the present moment around them. Listen, talk, laugh, whatever. I love those boogers.

Next week I’m talking about one of my favorite things of all time and that’s INTUITION. And I swear it’s a heckuvva lot easier than parenting!

P.S. Working moms and dads, stay at home moms and dads, let’s cut each other a break. In my world view, Pinterest moms and Store Bought moms can live in harmony. Amen.

 

Get Real: Are you thinking yourself miserable?

If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place. – Lao Tzu

Our minds can be our worst enemies. As I indicated in the video, I’ve suffered from anxiety and bad ruminating thoughts most of my life. I had no idea I had the power to correct course until I was in my early 30s. This week our Get Real challenge is to focus on our awareness and our thoughts. If you’re like me and they tend to run proverbs 23 7 red blackaway from you, realize you can rein them back in.

A few of my favorite books that have helped me with the present moment and redirecting my thoughts away from the negative:

Listening Below the Noise by Anne D. LeClaire
Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart by Gordon Livingston, MD
A New Earth: Awakening to your life’s purpose by Eckhart Tolle
Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef

What are some things we can do as we journal and keep track of our thinking this week?
-Notice how you react to situations, good and bad and how you let that effect your mood
-Trying to wake up and go to bed with gratitude and joy no matter what’s happened during the day
-Not labeling a meeting, situation or day as “good” or “bad” only that it is what it is and bring ourselves fully to every interaction
- Breathe deeply and redirect our thinking if we notice we are having ruminating thoughts

If you find that the thinking is truly effecting our life in negative ways, ask for help from a loved one to seek mental health advice from a therapist or psychologist. Depression, severe anxiety and other mental disorders could be greatly helped by professional support so don’t be afraid to ask! Your life is worth it.

Do you have tips for keeping your thoughts in check? If so, leave them in comments and thanks for being a part of my Get Real year.

xo

Get REAL: Get Up, Sitting is Killing You

Just coming off my sixth day with a stand up desk. Why? Studies now show sitting is a lethal activity. What? Yep. If we sit more than 9 hours a day, we could be inviting the Reaper before our time. If you’re like me and you have a “sitting job” (which they say is not affected by a daily work out, by the way), then we MUST get up and get moving. If you must be on the computer as I am, our only solution is to stand more while working and that’s why standing desks will become the next big thing. Yes, you might be an early adopter now, but why not start a health trend in your office? They say we mirror the activities of those around us so by being a good example for others, we can turn this sitting epidemic around.

A few good articles to read on the subject:

THE HEALTH HAZARDS OF SITTING From WSJ with a great infographic

The Mayo Clinic says: “Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.” YIKES. My soft middle confirms part of these findings. Ahem.

This article from Huffington Post includes a slide show with some photos of alternatives to sitting, including as basic as putting a chair on your table and working from there. You can connect your laptop to a monitor as a way to be ergonomic.

Currently restyling this writing desk to look more contemporary but so glad it works for standing!

Currently restyling this writing desk to look more contemporary but so glad it works for standing!

I lucked out by being able to convert a regular writing desk to a dual sitting/standing desk by moving my big Mac monitor from the top of the desk to the “writing level” when my son wants to be on the computer or when I need a break from standing. (Not good to crane your neck up or down.) Since my desk has a pull  out keyboard drawer, it provides the right ergonomics from either position. Use simple solutions like stacking on books to get the right height for you. You’ll also want an anti-fatigue mat like one here. 

If I hadn’t been able to convert my writing desk, I would’ve likely bought this one online:

Safco Muv Stand-up Adjustable Height Workstation

Click here for info.

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Not only do we burn more calories when we stand but we automatically move more. Yes, I get antsy standing, which is okay because I’ll actually go do something for a bit like pick up the house or turn on some music and dance – things I wouldn’t do if I was in the zone sitting all day. Since we’ll have more energy from being up, we shouldn’t have that afternoon slump, either.

ALSO, if we’ve been getting real about what we eat and drink, we’ll be fueling our bodies with clean/green/lean food to keep us healthy at the cellular level. I’ve also found I’m THIRSTIER from standing most of the day, which makes me drink me water – something I have trouble doing.

I’m thinking this MIGHT be the biggest illumination and intention we can make this year out of our 52 weeks of getting real – esp. if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Another motivation to get moving and eat clean might be to check out your BMI with this online calculator. I know I was scared to do that last year. As someone who at the time didn’t even own a scale, I was rather shocked that I was closer to the edge of the “normal” weight for my height (5’6″). Remember that range is within about 10 pounds on either side which can make someone look completely different. That motivated me to lose 5 pounds last year and so now I’m in the middle of the range for normal, which makes me feel a lot better. Plus how you LOOK is really not the only factor in good health. Plenty of thin people eat crappy diets and don’t exercise and sit all day. But I knew I wasn’t closer to the middle because I was simply being lazy. I lost those pounds by making better eating choices and now I think I’ll naturally lose a few more pounds by standing and moving more. Not a “diet”, just a lifestyle. We’ll see. The important thing is to give it awareness and make a goal that feels right for you. (Perhaps with your doctor’s input.)

Another factor besides BMI alone is where the fat sits. Waist circumference plays a huge role in heart disease so if you’re a woman and your WC is 35″ or more or for a man 40″ or more, consider that being a huge motivator in a lifestyle change. As someone who used to drink diet coke every day for 20 years, I can say YOU WILL HAVE EXTRA BULGE AROUND YOUR MIDDLE AND GUT IF YOU DRINK IT. When I stopped drinking it, it’s amazing how much that helped. That being said, my waist is 31″ so I hope I can lose a couple of inches around my middle this year with more regular exercise.

If you’re new to my series, WELCOME! I hope you’ll check out the previous posts and subscribe to my blog and YouTube channel to get the newest posts. (I post between Fridays and Sundays depending on how my week is going.)

What do you say? Shall we kick some butt on this?

Get Real: Redefining Success

I’m not a #1 bestselling author. I don’t have a thousand subscribers to this blog. I’m not a member of a country club or invited to the hottest parties in town. I don’t jet-set nor do I have a rock-hard body. I can’t easily take a vacation and I gulp every time a new dance fee or medical bill comes in the mail.1098294_10201682060078718_748588992_n

For me success is not WHAT I DO, but WHO I AM, yet I fall into the same cultural traps as the next person. Fame, money, awards, the WHAT IF game. Yes, I’d love for one of my books to be made into a film, but I’m not going to fall into the trap thinking I’m not a success until then. 

Let’s take back the word success and REDEFINE IT for us, personally. Your definition and mine might be wildly different and that’s okay because this year is about living intentionally and illuminating what makes us uniquely us. This week, I’m putting my awareness on SUCCESS and dropping the labels. I want to know what that looks like TO ME.

I want to SEE those around me and LISTEN more.

I want to EMBRACE NEW OPPORTUNITY and release FEAR.

I want to bring EXCELLENCE to every encounter and endeavor.

I will ATTRACT great ideas, people and opportunities into my life.

Yes, I’ll still set goals but I won’t be CRUSHED at the end of the day with a glance at my to-do list if I did the above things. BRINGING MY BEST SELF to every interaction. Can you imagine? That feels pretty powerful. And if we could do that for ourselves, what might we do for the people we interact with and influence? Our children? Our spouses? Our co-workers?

I’m in awe of this. I like that definition of success for my life. Maybe I won’t burn dinner or forget that I had laundry in the washer. I’ll do what I say I’ll do and BRING IT, whatever IT is that day.

What about you?

Recap of my Get REAL challenge so far:

Get REAL Time – still on technology TOO MUCH but am staying aware. Need to be more stern with myself here.

Get REAL Food – hanging tough. Smoothie every day but when Aunt Flo visits, forget it! Sugar and red meat!

Get REAL Sleep – ear plugs worked until young son was sick and then I couldn’t hear him, then I got a cold. But I’m pretty much sticking to early to bed. Need to drop tech sooner at night and would love to wake earlier to write.

Get REAL Relationships – Being authentic can feel awkward with a person you don’t know well. Interesting. But I’m making time for those who mean the most – but illness gets in the way, big time. Thanks cold an flu season!

NEXT WEEK: Get REAL Exercise (we got this)

Get REAL: Relationships, Foster or Forget?

Pretend for a moment that you’re a judge on a new reality television show called Relationship Idol. One by one, all the people you have a relationship with come up the mic, but instead of singing, they stand there and look at you. REALLY look at you. And you REALLY look at them. Then the video montage of your lives together start playing up on the big screen behind them. Maybe there is much laughter or lots of tears. At the end of your video, it’s your turn. What about it? Is it good enough? Is your relationship healthy or harmful? Does it make your stomach sour just looking at that person? Then you must rule on it. Foster it or forget it. At the very least GET REAL that it may not be the way you want it to be. Our plan is not to CHANGE them, but to look at changing ourselves (if need be) and being honest about what’s working and what’s not.

Certainly the boundaries are different based on the type of relationship we’re discussing, but that doesn’t mean every relationship that impacts our life shouldn’t go under this scrutiny – and that means closely examining what WE are bringing to the relationship. It takes two. We may teach each other how to treat us, but how are we treating others? Like a punching bag? Emotional life support? Do we just unload on them and never ask them how THEY are doing? Are we fair? Are we kind?

This week, let’s illuminate the relationships in our lives and see what happens.

SPOUSE/SIGNIFICANT OTHER
FATHER
MOTHER
SIBLING
CHILDREN
GRANDPARENT
EXTENDED FAMILY
IN-LAWS
CO-WORKERS
BOSS
EMPLOYEES (IF YOU’RE THE BOSS)
FRIENDS
NEIGHBORS

What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Do you need to foster them? What would need to happen for the relationship to improve? Are they positive or negative? Are you extendings acts of kindness OUTSIDE OF THESE relationships, but not WITH them? Do you judge them more harshly? Are you being a good listener? (Technology down!) How is your eye to eye contact? Body language? What key words come from your conversations? Is it one sided? Angry? Abusive?

What can YOU do – talk more, talk less, be honest? Do you need to put SPACE for YOU? Are they emotional vampires, always sucking the lifeblood our of your day and never giving you any support? Or are you doing that to someone?

This week, I had a great (but sad) reminder that some relationships are not meant to be. Perhaps the other person needs counseling or you just aren’t a “fit” but whatever the reason, honor yourself and the other person by getting real about it. If you’re going back to the same well, don’t expect different water to come out of it. We all grow at different rates and sometimes that means they may leave us behind or we need to leave them behind.

Once we’ve noted our feelings, we can engage in conversations with them about it. If it’s that you love them and want to spend more time with them, schedule that! I know this is tough and I have no expertise on this other than to say, look at it and make a plan. Seek help if you need to and let’s make 2014 the year we get real about all the relationships in our lives.

I adore all things Martha Beck, so check out her site and blog on relationships and family here.

http://marthabeck.com/2010/02/i-can-live-with-or-without-you/

Book rec:

The Secret to Happy Families

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Get Real About Food: What are we really eating?

Hi, friends. I’m feeling pretty pumped about the results of my daily log on where I spend my time – our week 1 awareness challenge. While I did find I go off track fairly often, I was able to control how much time I spent online and realizing I don’t allocate enough time for diversions OUTSIDE OF MY CONTROL – such as a client needing something or a kid needing some extra mama errand time and so on. I feel MUCH BETTER spending less time on social media and unplugging more. I’m going to keep working on staying in the present moment to be more productive and fully give my attention to the matters at hand.

6-1013tm-cart-foodhotelsSo week 2 we’re diving into a sticky topic  - getting real about FOOD. I’m not a foodie AT ALL and don’t really enjoy eating or cooking per se so that in itself provides a roadblock for me. Our Get Real series in an awareness challenge to look at our choices and for me that means I have to not fall back on the EASY which often means junk meals or junk food (yes, packaged granola bars, too) instead of eating REAL FOOD. I want to appreciate good food more and really see the dangers of the quick fix, packaged junk. Thankfully, I do love making fruit and veggie smoothies so I can get my green on. Food should be a FUEL for our bodies not an experiment to see if our bodies can process the garbage we’re putting into it. Not an ego boost to feed our desire for salty, fatty foods that we’ve gotten used to because our culture is what it is today. Sugary, fatty, salty, quick. It does take a while to get your tastebuds back, but I promise you’ll find food more pleasurable if  you lay off the bad stuff.

Recommended activities and links to guide us this week. If a word is highlighted, it means there is an article that tells you more about why it’s bad or good:

Do an inventory of your fridge and your pantry. What you BUY is likely what you’ll EAT and feed your family. For me, I buy and cook WAY too much pasta. 

Too many packaged products? Put on your shipping list to buy the REAL THING instead. Understanding which processed food is good for you and which ones are stripped of nutrients. 

In a cooking slump? Try new recipes and LEARN HOW TO COOK over at HilahCooking.com.

Look at long-term lifestyle changes such as smoothies for lunch or the paleo diet or what it means to be gluten-free. Limit all fried foods and eating beef. We went from eating it about once a week to about once a month and even then I want to make sure it’s GOOD – grass fed, lean.

Do a daily log for a week to see what your “normal” is (but still resist the bad choices). What time of day is hardest for you? What are your portion sizes? What’s your ratio of food on your plate? Too much meat and ‘tators? Veggies should be the biggest portion. Don’t think you have to have bread and dessert at every meal. Make FRUIT your dessert. Maybe one night a week you get an actual HOMEMADE dessert. How could you start weaning yourself off bad choices? Fast food once a week instead of three? A soda once a day instead of two or three. Go from a 20 oz. down to a 8 oz? I PROMISE it can work if you work it.

Pay attention to the food as you are eating it. Do ONLY that activity not eating while working, etc. Look at the food and ask, where does this come from? What’s good in it? What’s bad in it? Is it a treat or something I eat too much of? Read the label! (For me that was giving up granola bars. Yes, it has fiber but check out what else it has: Glycerin, sugar, fructose, soluble corn fiber, rice flour, corn syrup and so on. So now I’ll treat it as a candy bar, not as a “health food”. If you are eating fast food, try the kids’ meals instead of the bigger ones OR buy single items not the whole meal – an easy way to control portion size. Unless it’s a damn good burger, I’ll usually take the top bun off to help limit carbs. All bets are off if I’m eating at Tucker’s though. Yum.

On sodas: I used to be a diet soda addict. Drank it for 20 years. I swear it killed my memory, gave me migraines and I had a gut that didn’t go away UNTIL I GAVE THEM UP. Now I drink coffee with no sugar (maybe a small bit of creamer, sometimes vanilla or mocha) and tea. I only have the occasional regular soda (not diet) and then it’s poured in a glass so I don’t drink much of it. (And boy is it sweet if you haven’t had one in awhile.) Sodas are the new tobacco, bar none. Sugar is killing us, feeding toxins to our cells and making us tired, low energy and depressed. How about 143 reasons sugar is harmful and lots of citations.

Yes, our body chemistry and family histories are all different. That can make it tough in dealing with meal planning and food rules for an entire family but what research does show us is reducing or restricting sugar and carbs and fake foods and increasing fruits and vegetable consumption and sticking to lean meats are the way to go.

Foods I Used to Rarely Eat That I Love Now:

Almonds, Greek yogurt, boiled eggs, tuna, spinach & kale (mostly in my smoothies), banana every morning, almond and coconut milk, coffee, red wine

REALLY need to work on my water intake. I like to add some fruit to it for a bit of natural flavor. Kick the bottle habit and use a filter in your house.

Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you and good luck on your journey.

Get Real is a year-long awareness challenge to look at our choices on 52 topics. Subscribe to the blog to get this in your inbox each week. In 2014, everything is ILLUMINATED as we live with INTENTION. I’m not a guru – just a woman sharing her intentions for the year, inviting you along with me as we wake up to our personal truth.