5 Reasons You Should be Dancing

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” – Emma Goldman

I can’t think of a better Every Day Adventure than dancing. I start my days singing and dancing and keep it going in the car and recently decided I should put more dance into my nightlife, too, which is where Groovy’s, a classic dance club in OKC, comes in. Disco ball, smoke machine, confetti, Y-M-C-A, great drinks and strangely you feel you have more energy as the night wears on instead of less. When did you last dance – whether it’s Tom Cruise Risky Business style or in a club? Here’s 5 reasons I think you should just dance.

1. You feel ageless when you dance. When the music takes over and you cut loose, you are just purely living. Yes, you may remember how old your bones are the next day, but then you remember how alive you felt on the dance floor and it’s all worth it. That’s what ibuprofen is for.

2. You can’t be in a bad mood while dancing. It’s a stress reliever. It’s a smile inducer. Even if you don’t attempt to twerk.

3. You already sit on your butt all day long. Yeah, a lot of “nights out” involve more sitting – dinner, movies, plays, all on your ass. If you’re like me and have a desk job, then you really need to get up and shake your groove thing.

4. It’s more fun than the treadmill. So it’s fun *and* you can burn some serious calories? Score. I love when exercise mashes up with cocktails.

5. It’s social. I’ve been reading lots of depressing research about the sad state of “alone together” where we get together but we’re all on our phones. That’s not a problem on the dance floor. You make eye contact, laugh and shake your booties with your besties and strangers, alike. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dance! See you at Groovy’s.

A fun-filled night at Groovy's with some of my favorite humans.

A fun-filled night at Groovy’s with some of my favorite humans.

The real Pinterest: Bowling

“There’s kind of a Zen aspect to bowling. The pins are either staying up or down before you even throw your arm back. It’s kind of a mind-set. You want to be in this perfect mind-set before you released the ball.”

Jeff Bridges

Every Day Adventure is about unplugging and reconnecting in real life. Opening our eyes to what’s out there and saying “yes” to a new route, a new friend, a new possibility for growth through play. Unfortunately play gets a bad rap, yet that’s just what psychologists are telling us we need more of to ward off stress and increase our happiness. Less Facebook, more face time with real people.

When’s the last time you bowled? That long? Why not grab your partner or your kids or some buddies and knock down some pins (and maybe some beers) while you’re at it?

Over the holiday break, my sis and I took our kids to the Woodward Bowling Alley where I found out my nephew is a pretty damn good bowler. And my boys are eight years apart in age so something like bowling is the perfect way to get them to play together.

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He gets his form from me, natch.

Then a couple weeks later, a double date landed us at the swanky Red Pin in downtown OKC. With a full bar and actual appetizing apps, it’s a classier joint. While the traditional double date is probably dinner out, we made ours a playdate with tapas followed by bowling with some fun winner takes all stakes. We had a blast. And, hey, I didn’t suck.

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We’re very serious bowlers as you can see.

So, dear reader, where will you go play today?

If you’re on Instagram, follow my #everydayadventure @malenalott and I’d love to hear about yours.

2015: The Year for Living Boldly

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”

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― 
Lewis CarrollAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

Happy New Year, readers! While a new year may just be another number, every day is an opportunity to fully live, right? If you are like me and last year threw you for a loop, it’s refreshing to turn the calendar and start anew.

Thanks to a lot of work on mindfulness, I made it through an emotional year and am going to carry that through to the new year with this year’s theme, “Every day, adventure.” That also includes everyday adventure, appreciating the extraordinary within the ordinary. Last year’s Get Out posts were among my favorites and I loved hearing how some of my adventures inspired you to get out and explore nature and add more adventure into your lives. Let’s do some more of that this year.

  • What’s holding you back?
  • Where would you like to go?
  • What could you do each day to make you smile?
  • What new adventure could you fit in on the weekend?

I plan on doing a lot more traveling, hiking, biking, exploring and trying new places and meeting cool people. I also intend on making the most of every day and staying present to experience all the good stuff that happens right here, right now. I’ll share some work and leisure adventures and hope to give you some new stories soon, too. I put my manuscript on hold for a bit but have worked on some short stories I’m excited about. I should get my rights back on Dating da Vinci soon so I can do a new cover and publish that under my Buzz Books brand.

One of my new adventures in 2014 was starting a side business decorating and ended up doing eight projects with my fabulous friend Jill Martin. I’m planning on doing more of that this year, so if you love interior design ideas, you might want to follow our Facebook page Sooner Spaces where I share decorating projects and cool Oklahoma spaces. Jill and I are starting on a 2500 square foot 1918 historic home in Heritage Hills this week so we’ll be posting lots of photos and finds. I’ll try to post here every other week with my new adventures and ideas for you to explore, too.

Every day is a great day to practice gratitude and I’m so grateful for the friends who stuck by me and lifted me up last year and went on all those adventures with me in the great outdoors and just drinks and deep conversation indoors, too. My kids are amazing and always an adventure. Life is messy but wonderful, isn’t it? Let’s make more wonderful this year.

Here’s to a fresh start!

“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

xo and cheers,

Malena

Congrats to Broadway 10 Bar and Chophouse in OKC on a stellar space (10th and Broadway, of course). Enjoyed kicking off New Year’s Eve there with my sister and friends.

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Get Real: Rudolph and the Land of Misfit Toys

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is more than a story about a reindeer born with a deformity (a glowing red nose) that ends up saving Christmas. It’s a metaphor for misfits everywhere. Along with Mary Poppins and the Wizard of Oz, Rudolph has spiritual meaning we can apply to our journey.
Hermey: [musically] Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. You can’t fire me, I quit. Seems I don’t fit in.

Rudolph: [musically] Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. Just because my nose glows… why don’t I fit in?

Hermey, in the 1964 cartoon, was the elf who really wanted to be a dentist. Rudolph desperately wanted to be like the other reindeer and get the chance to fly Santa’s sleigh but he was made fun of because of his nose. When he visited the Island of Misfits, he discovered he was in good company. Misfits are everywhere.

First, we need to recognize we are all misfits somewhere and that’s part of the fun and challenge in our journey is to figure out where we best fit in: personally and professionally. The more we know who we are and stop pretending to be who others need for us to be, the more that happens authentically. Sure, once in awhile we are still called upon to put on the fake nose and fit in, but if we do that too long, we can get depressed and even repress our feelings and shrink instead of grow. It was only when Rudolph took off the mask and let himself be who he is that his unique gifts were seen and offered to the universe.

The holidays are a huge trigger for our Misfit beacon. Maybe it’s being around family that reminds us of failures or past hurts or labels thrust upon us or feeling “forced” to go to holiday parties because we are supposed to versus genuinely wanting to with an open heart. It’s also about being Alone and Lonely when it feels like everyone else is so damn merry and have it all together! Of course that’s our own lens we’re looking through. The very folks we think are having the time of their lives could be wearing fake noses to fit in, too! And underneath their smiles could be a lot of pain. As someone who felt like an outcast most of my life (but found a way to fit in where I could offer my gifts) and as someone who is struggling to find my emotional footing right now, I wanted to offer up this cool Holiday Intention pic I snatched that can help us sail right into the new year. I can’t quite read the attribution, but thanks to whomever came up with it.

Image 2   Be present, give with intention, wrap others with joy, send good vibes, make friends, be the light.  I’ve always been independent and have gone to a lot of functions alone, but it feels different going alone because you are single. I’ve found it’s tested and stretched me in new ways. One of the reasons I love this holiday list so much is we should do this when we go about our merry way (even when we are feeling Grinchy) this season and always. Just as we check the mirror for the way our hair and outfit looks before we go, we should check our attitude and energy. If we are FEELING like a misfit, that’s the energy we are going to send to others and yes, they can feel it, even if it’s subconsciously. If you go out saying, I’m going to be the light (code word for radiating your best), then others will be drawn to you quite literally like a warm fire on a cold day. Even though I love nothing more than a night in with my journal and a glass of red wine, I *know* it’s good for me to get out and be around people to re-energize me and make me feel a little less alone. You’ll know what that right balance is for you. As an ambivert, I recharge pretty evenly between ideas and alone time and being around people I admire and meeting new people.

What are you grateful for this week? Who lifted your spirits? Whose spirit did you lift? Where do you feel like a misfit and how could you correct than in 2015 to live more authentically?  This week I’m grateful for Patty, Tracy, Hilarie, Ann and Carrie for being my party pals and my old friend Matt and his dad for inviting me to the Bedlam game (even though we lost. Ugh.) Our evening was full of spirited conversation and I’m never shy about sharing a good story and inviting others to do the same.

Get Out: Reverie vineyard from Napa Valley at Carrie Palmer's holiday party.

Get Out: Reverie vineyard from Napa Valley at Carrie Palmer’s holiday party. Carry “gave with intention.”

Girlfriends Tracy and Patty always "wrap me in joy."

Girlfriends Tracy and Patty always “wrap me in joy.”

Taking time out for dominoes at Cuppies and Joe with my youngest. "be present"

Taking time out for dominoes at Cuppies and Joe with my youngest. “be present”

"Make friends" - with Ann (an AXO sister, too) and new friend Jen.

“Make friends” – with Ann (an AXO sister, too) and new friend Jen.

Happy holidays, dear readers. Sending you loads of good vibes.

xo, Malena

Thanks + Top Advice from Team Get Real

Happy Thanksgiving! In counting my blessings this year, in addition to family and friends and servant hearts, I’m so thankful for the great advice and quotes I got all year from Team Get Real (counselors, friends, wise famous people). If you are in a place where you are seeking clarity or simply trying to expand your peace and happiness, perhaps these might help you, too. xo

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2. When you don’t know what to do, my best advice is to do nothing until clarity comes. Getting still, being able to hear your own voice and not the voices of the world, quickens clarity. Once you decide what you want, you make a commitment to that decision. -Oprah

3. If you are pretending or performing, you aren’t living from your authentic self.

4. I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises. – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray Love

5. You’ve spent so much emotional energy defending yourself. Clear the layer of guilt away. Your feelings aren’t all of you.

6. And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. –Anais Nin

7. You need to give yourself permission to be human. I want you to want what you want.

8. What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think – or letting of of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am? – Brene Brown, author

9. Stay neutral. Use your shield.

10. Love stretches us, but time often snaps us back to our original shape. Love takes us further than we thought we could go, but it does not take us past the limits of our nature. And that is a hard thing to know. – Amy Bloom, author

11. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.  ~ Lao Tzu

12. You can’t save others from their process. It’s important to you to choose everything with precision. Get out of prettying up words.

13. Stay the course. Give yourself a break. Give people time.

14. Yoo-hoo, Life, pick me! – Mandy Steward, author (makes me smile every time!)

15. There’s a weird combo of relief and doubt that comes from fear. It takes a while to find your footing.

16. Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge. ~ Eckhart Tolle

17. The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. ~ Albert Einstein

A Note on Perspective:

While I was nervous about my first Thanksgiving on my own, it turned out to be one of the most special 10686739_10205622387785961_7263301546956882154_nholidays. My daughter (14) ended up not going to Colorado with the rest of the family so she volunteered with me at City of Thanksgiving. We spent the morning making (a lot of) stuffing and then delivered meals to three families in S. OKC which gave us a lot of time for conversation and music. In hearing about some of my friends’ divorces, mine is pretty easy in comparison. My ex didn’t lock me out of the house or refuse to give me my things, I’m at least not being called horrible names to my face and there won’t be a long drawn out battle. Obviously if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know my belief is to choose peace over drama in all situations. While you can’t control the other person, you can at least control how it impacts you. Believe me, I’ve cried more this year than I have maybe all other years of my life combined, but clarity and action doesn’t come easy nor without an emotional toll. I read an article that equated going through a divorce as the emotional equivalent of having a second full-time job. That makes sense. No wonder I’ve felt so zapped. If you are going through a tough time, give yourself time to relax and recuperate. It may feel like staying busy is the answer, but often the opposite is much better: take a long bath, read, go to bed early, drink lots of water, exercise every day and smile at everyone you see. (But do go out and have fun, too. My girlfriends get an A+ in the fun department.)

Perspective doesn’t mean you should repress your feelings or talk yourself out of them. Feel them, acknowledge and accept they are there and then try to let them go or find a way to change them. I let myself be sad, but made a plan (volunteering) and a friend reached out and invited us to Thanksgiving at her house after (thanks, Anita!). The Universe has a way of working things out but we must ACT, too.

We are wise to remember that there is AN UPSIDE TO EVERYTHING. I know in our darkest hours that’s hard to grasp, but it’s true, even if that upside is learning how to deal with pain, survive (and thrive) through transformation and GROW.

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Out: Girls Gone Wild (Hike, Camp, Fire, Good!)

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. – John Muir

Have you camped yet this year? Gone for a hike? Made eye contact with a deer? No? Then my work here isn’t done!

I heard a ton of feedback after I posted my Solo Camping story back in June. Sure, some of the feedback was negative (that girls don’t go into the wild alone and it was too dangerous- what?!) or disbelieving I was really alone but the majority of the feedback was POSITIVE – whether that was women who really DO want to try a solo adventure to others who just needed the reminder to reconnect with nature with other people in tow. Just remember if it’s PEACE and ALONE time you want, then, well, alone is the way to go.

One of those girlfriends I heard from was Kelley, who was with me on my first Get Out Adventure in May when we hiked Wichita Mountains together near Lawton. As busy working women and mamas we only had one Saturday that worked in our fall schedule for our Girls Gone Wild weekend and we grabbed another girlfriend, Lori, to go with us. So this post it to encourage you to grab your gal pals and head for the hills. While a spa vacay may get you pretty nails for a week, I promise a trip in the wild is way more rewarding for your soul. Trust me on this.

To make the most of our day for hiking, we picked a close locale, Red Rock Canyon State Park , located in Hinton, OK about an hour outside

The little state park worth the drive!

The little state park worth the drive!

of the OKC metro. We ended up having a perfect weather day and it was my only Get Out adventure this year when it didn’t rain! We did two hikes and because my girlfriends are smartie pants, I joked that I was on a trip with Lora and Kora the Explorers. Ha! I’ll admit to hiking ahead when they were fawning over a new discovery on the trail, but we got along really well, including sleeping in a VERY cold tent that night. Yes, when you are away, things can go awry (Lori’s charger, my air mattress deflated, our neighbor with a TON of wood offered us NONE so we went into town to buy more.) The owls (which I LOVE) were quite noisy that night – remember earplugs – nature is loud, y’all.

This post isn’t tips HOW to camp because honestly I’m not that “together” yet but I get better about planning for each adventure and I can’t wait to explore more. If you’re reading this and it’s cold out, obviously I don’t think that’s an excuse for not planning adventures in the wild. A hike on a snowy day is gorgeous and you’ll get beautiful photos to remember it by. Plan other Get Out adventures that take you outside of your norm. One personal tip I will offer is perhaps to NOT tell people your plans way ahead of time as you WILL likely get some negative feedback if you are venturing out into a new place and especially if you are a chick. There is still a stigma and fear mongering about women going alone so DO be careful and take all precautions but don’t let unhealthy fear/paranoia keep you from trying new things.

Thanks to Lori and Kelley for going wild with me. :) For more Get Out posts, click back through old posts to see adventures in paddle boarding, Aloha and more hiking treks. I’ll be back next week with a Get Real post and book review on the psychology book, Me, Myself and Us. Such good stuff.

xoxo and namaste,

Malena

Satiated my tree craving for the month.

Satiated my tree craving for the month.

 

When's the last time you climbed a tree? WE DID!

When’s the last time you climbed a tree? WE DID!

 

And took a selfie with red rock as your backdrop? WE DID.

And took a selfie with red rock as your backdrop? WE DID.

Perfect spot for feeling like a warrior princess.

Perfect spot for feeling like a warrior princess.

A pop up tent is the way to go!

A pop up tent is the way to go!

Literal rock star.

Literal rock star.

Reflection pool for a bit of reflection.

Reflection pool for a bit of reflection.

 

We hiked. We got lost. We found our way back.

We hiked. We got lost. We found our way back.

S'mores, country and rap music and lots of laughs.

S’mores, country and rap music and lots of laughs.

My girlfriends make a killer campfire breakfast.

My girlfriends make a killer campfire breakfast.

Get Real: The Four Agreements

What if you had four simple ways to live in peace and increase your happiness? Don Miguel Ruiz gives us a guide in his international bestseller, “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.” 

I recall how helpful the book was back in my early days of co-owning an ad agency ten years ago. This past week I revisited the book to as a way to ground myself in the midst of my divorce and the news of our separation reaches our friends, family and community.fouragreements

While I do want to keep my private life private, I’m also aware that I am called to share some of that publicly as I have all year in what it means to be true to yourself and “get real” and try to live with unconditional happiness. I also write about women’s journeys in my novels and my most important woman’s journey has to be my own. Making tough choices and surviving rough times is part of our story.

One sunny day last week at a park near my new job at a PR firm, I shared what those Four Agreements can do for us.

I hope the book helps you the way it’s helping me through this difficult time. That being said, even for a person who does live with the “glass half full” and a positive attitude, I still feel pain and still get hurt feelings. Our brains WANT us to jump to conclusions and make assumptions and our egos feel attacked and want to defend. Hey, it’s hard being human. I’m trying to be kinder and gentler.

I had to block a family member who sent me about thirty Bible verses and said I’m no longer welcome in her home. People feel like they have to take sides, which is unfortunate, and it hurts to be immediately cut off from half the family that have been a part of your life for so long. Others friends may stay away because it’s awkward. I get it! Many people don’t know what to say, or as I said in the video, it’s going through the lens of their own situation. So you can see why The Four Agreements is pretty helpful if I (we) keep trying to live them.

1. Be impeccable with your word.

2. Don’t take things personally.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

4. Always do your best.

I want to emphasize how important the support and love of friends and family have been. I do believe we are a magnet for what we are sending out so I’m concentrating on love and joy and peace. I have so much to be grateful for.

Not sure what to say or NOT SAY to someone going through a divorce? One blogger shares 5 tips here.  Or know someone who was recently diagnosed with cancer? Six things not to say here. And here are 9 things not to say to a grieving friend. 

Other News:

NaNoWriMo. My goal is to finish the first draft of my brotherhood novel in November. That happens to be National Novel Writing Month so I’m in. Not only do I need the distraction that my fictional world provides, but it will feel great to get this project done because it’s the one I’ve been more excited about writing than any other.

Decorating. I recently finished a project for Sweet Law Firm to give their stale work room some personality. Check out the post and video here. 

FUN NEWS! A new Stork Reality baby! My book club visit in September included a pregnant reader who had just finished reading The Stork Reality, my first novel. I asked her to send me baby pics when her bundle of joy arrived. Welcome to the world, Gigi! Congrats, Megan!

Stork Reality baby, Gigi Franklin.

Stork Reality baby, Gigi Franklin.

Get Happy Week 6: Dark to Light

Getting Happy isn’t focusing on the good stuff or “seeing the bright side.” While that helps, it’s important to get to the deepest part of our core, which means embracing pain and darkness as a foundation for true inner happiness. In my Solo Camping post, I talked about the book Learning to Walk in the Dark in which Barbara Brown Taylor not only describes our fear of physical darkness, but of the “dark nights of our soul.” She discusses how we might get the most out of embracing our dark paths, not repressing them or simply “praying them away.” We have to Get Real about our darkness to deal with it.

Obviously one way I deal with my own demons is by writing stories, which feels like “letting the pressure out of the tire” but it has also slowly removed many thorns in my life. As I write about love and loss and grief as a recurring theme in all of my stories, I’ve been able to deal with my own Dark Passenger, Grief, which I also wrote about in Hope Floats, short stories on loss and living on. hopefloatscovernook

While I’ve dealt with letting go of worry and anxiety that stemmed from a childhood thorn of a fear of abandonment, I hadn’t really dealt with the big thorn of Grief. As I’ve been excavating mySelf this year, I realized it was time to let that go, too. In my 2008 novel, Dating da Vinci, my young widow Ramona, describes life from the viewpoint of either a Normal or a Griever. When you’re a Griever, everything looks different – it’s tinged with a sadness of what was and what could have been and the very painful reality of what is. Her journey is to find la dolce vita, the sweet life. Not the same life she had with her husband, but a new kind of normal. While I had accepted that I do look at life as a Griever and it’s made me appreciate each day I’m given, I do think I had an attachment to that aspect of my life story and I’m ready to REMOVE THE THORN instead of protecting it.url

The thorn theory is in the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Untethered Soul, in which Michael A. Singer writes that, “They let the fear of their inner thorns affect their behavior. They end up limiting their lives just like someone living with an external thorn. Ultimately if there is something disturbing inside of you, you have to make a choice. You can compensate for the disturbing by going outside in an attempt to avoid feeling it, or you can simply remove the thorn and not focus your life around it.”

“You have to decide if you want to continue to walk around with stored pain blocking your heart and limiting your life. The alternative is to be willing to let it go when it gets stimulated. It only hurts for a minute and then it’s over.”

Like pulling a BandAid, but way harder. He writes, “You can look deep within yourself, to the core of your being, and decide that you don’t want the weakest part of you running your life.”

Wow. I know I don’t want that. Do you? I want joy and freedom and utilizing my energy for moving forward, not protecting my pain.

In dealing with our darkness, Singer says, “Just sit in the seat of awareness and never leave. No matter what goes on below you, open your heart and let it go.” He speaks of a world of pure energy that will open up to you as a result and who doesn’t want that?

One of my new favorite mantras came from his book and that’s, “Relax and Release.” When I feel the pang of worry, anxiety, fear or grief begin to stir, I stop the thought short and take in a deep breath and release it. No, that doesn’t guarantee “insta-happiness” but that’s what this series is all about. Happiness WHILE dealing with what is even when that what is is totally crappy.

Yeah, this whole year of Transformation has been about Awareness that can lead to Action and Singer says, “Awareness does not fight; awareness releases.”

Another find that helped me deal with Darkness this summer was a program by Frederick Buechner, who had experienced a great deal of pain early in his life and discovered that he was a Steward of Pain. I encourage you to read or listen to it.

Like Taylor, Buechner tells us NOT to forget it, cover it up, or not talk about things that cause pain OR use it as a sob story or an excuse for your life. We can take the pain and learn from it and release it but keep in touch with it. You’ll never forget it because it changed you but it doesn’t have to keep you down. He says it reminds us of our own powerlessness and that’s a good thing to know. Coupled with Singer’s advice to release your mind of a job to “fix yourself” then we won’t make ourselves crazy trying to control what is OUT of our control. One way to do this is to be an observer of your life. You see that these things are happening to you – but they aren’t you. It can help to grasp that concept with a meditation program where you do sit and see thoughts and feelings pop up but you don’t get distracted by them. To rise above.

Buechner says, “if life and pain is buried, you shrink instead of grow, you become less. Ones who traded with their lives made to be life traders. I have what you need which is me and you have which I need, which is you.” Treasure the pain you’ve gone through helps us feel compassion for other people and can drive us to help others.

I know just thinking about the thorn(s) can be painful and opens us up to that uncomfortable vulnerability to look at love and loss square in the eye, raw and aching. But no one else is going to do it for us. It’s work but it’s worth it. Loving ourselves and loving others is what life is all about.

Grace is ours if we take it.

Questions to ponder: what are the thorns in your life? How have you been protecting the thorns instead of dealing with them? What steps do you need to do to remove them? 

Thanks for being a part of my “Get” year with Get Real, Get Out, Get Fit and Get Happy. I’m taking a blog hiatus so I can work on my novel in progress as well as some short stories in a collection I’m excited about. All of that on top of decorating and branding work and a personal life with a very busy fall.

If you miss me, send me a note or seek me out on social media, where I’ll try not to hang out too much but I do try to respond to messages.

Best of luck on your journey, friends.

xo,

Malena

Get Happy Week 5: Forget Normal

“You’re so weird, Mom!” My 14-year-old daughter said before taking the jar of moon water and trying it.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“I like it because it’s cold, not because it’s moon water.” I love her directness except when I don’t.

My 17-year-old son, who would not partake of the moon water and thought it was also strange. I’ve raised my kids to be independent thinkers so this is what I get. They may agree with me or think something is bullsh*t. (They just can’t use that word – yet.) So he doesn’t share my interest in the mysteries of the universe. That’s okay. I’m still glad I exposed them both to something mystical that you don’t find within the walls of a church.

Moon water is soaking up the energy of the Super moon by leaving a covered jar of clean water out all night in the moonlight. Why not? We know about the moon’s effects on tides and moods. The Universe is made up of energy as are each of us so why not moon water? The novelty of it – and the fact I look at the moon each night – made me curious enough to try it as an assignment in an ecourse I’m taking. I don’t think I would’ve thought to try it on my own. I used to be Catholic so it’s not that much of a stretch for me from “holy water” blessed by a priest, ordained by another human being. Besides, the moon is cool.

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Look, the kids know they have an odd mom, and that’s okay. I don’t want to be normal. In fact, like the shirt says, “Normal is boring.” Thing is, none of us are normal. Everyone has quirks. Some of us just express it a little more. I don’t dress oddly, but my brain is wired differently. I create entire worlds from my mind and those characters are a big part of my days. And my personality type thrives on new experiences and adventure. So, yeah, I’ll take a six-week sensuality ecourse and I’ll moon bathe (it was fantastic!) and I’m OPEN to life’s experiences. Living in the present moment means making the MOST of that moment so when an opportunity arises, I’ll likely take it if I find it interesting or challenging or something I can learn from. I flirt with life and it flirts back. Whatcha got? I ask each Day and the Day never lets me down. 

As a creative entrepreneur, I not only write fiction, but I get paid to be a strategic thinker and problem solver, both as a brand and marketing strategist and this year as a decorator, too. I do them all, sometimes all in one day, which I know is not “normal”. I keep a lot of balls in the air, but it makes my squirrel circus brain happy and it works for me. Do you have more than one job or a job that lets you do different things that keeps you challenged?

Yes, I do this, too.

Yes, I do this, too.

Just as we talked about a couple of week’s ago, FORGET THE LABELS. You are more than your title or a singular hobby. You are a marvelous, multi-dimensional creature and that means you don’t have to be normal. Pave your own way. Zig when they zag. I promise it’s more fun.

Yesterday, I even got paid to watch paint dry. Fantastic, right?

Special note of thanks to A Perfect Touch in OKC for an exquisite job.

Special note of thanks to A Perfect Touch in OKC for an exquisite job.

And while perusing the bookshelf of one of the law firm partners, I found ON KILLING, which I borrowed to help with research for my novel. By staying aware in the present moment, all sorts of gifts seem to pop up out of nowhere, making my normal day a lot more interesting.

While the painters painted, I read about the psychology of killing in combat. My days are never boring.

While the painters painted, I read about the psychology of killing in combat. My days are never boring.

 

Our lives are one big sociology experiment. Let’s not waste it. It comes down to: how comfortable are you to LIVE YOUR TRUTH?  Easy used to be putting the mask on and pretending but now that’s actually harder for me. It feels like a rock in my gut. Yet I know which friends to talk to about which topics. Same goes for strangers. It’s comfort and chemistry.

Bottom line: DON’T WORRY IF PEOPLE DON’T THINK YOU FIT IN WITH THIS OR THAT.

DON’T LET PEOPLE’S LOOKS DECEIVE YOU IN EITHER DIRECTION. While it’s natural to “dress the part” when it comes to our jobs, we can still embrace all those “me”s that live inside of us.

DON’T TRY TO BE SOMEONE YOU AREN’T IF THAT ROLE DOESN’T SUIT YOU IN THE MOMENT.

One of my new adventures last week was the first time to speak to a book club in a bike store in downtown Oklahoma City. The Girly Book Club is a national club and they read FAMILY CHARMS, my novel loosely based on the twenty-year estrangement with my mother, though very fictionalized for added drama. Huge thanks to these ladies for hosting me!

Image 4One of the women said she was surprised I don’t have tattoos (like Taryn, the middle sister in the book.) I told her I’d love one but the way my brain works, I’d either become obsessed with them but only AFTER I made the tough decision on exactly which tattoo to get. I also told them that while I look like a fashionable suburban mom, a part of my psyche is more like a soft, dreadlock, tattoo-wearing, barefooted gypsy. (Only I like my curly hair and shoes too much.) How I decide to adorn my exterior isn’t always reflective of my inner mood or interests. The more self-aware and layered we become, the more interesting life becomes. I told the book club, life is art and art is life. I view relationships as art, too – mysterious and beautiful. 

Forget normal. Try moon water someday. Ask the day, “whatcha got?” and give it your all.

xo,

Malena

Get Happy Week 4: Fire in the Belly

I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, but in writing from a male perspective in my current work-in-progress, I’ve thought a lot about it, interviewed a lot of vets and have tried to immerse myself in the world of Jake, my twenty-two-year-old Iraq war vet amputee who is back home in a small town in Texas trying to start his life anew. For weeks I was bothered not knowing who the antagonist of the book was until one day it clicked that it was Misery – basically the black cloud of bad shit that had happened to him all of his life and seemed to continue to be happening. I bring up Jake and Misery in this week’s Get Happy post because it’s important for us to remember to use our pain and sit with the discomfort in figuring out how we can resolve issues (buried and new) and also the importance of having a tribe. Your peeps.Image

So this week’s potpourri of happiness includes: a) the importance of feeling loved and secure to get through the tough times b) having a tribe of people who understand and let you be your authentic YOU and where you feel you BELONG and c) having the will to take the journey to authentic living for a passionate life.

I stumbled upon Sam Keen’s work and because I’m a jump in kind of girl, I ordered and am simultaneously reading three of his books: Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man, To Love and Be Loved, and The Passionate Life. While each one is different, they share the foundation of the importance of knowing and loving yourself and sorting through the bullshit our culture and advertising and conditioning dole out. The central theme in his work is really understanding LOVE in all of its forms so that we can be better people and better lovers. From To Love… Elements of love: attention, desire, knowledge, sensuality, empathy, compassion, enjoyment, care, storytelling, repenting, self-love, commitment, co-creation, adoration, sexuality and enchantment. 

In The Passionate Life, Keen gives us the history of sexuality along with the psychology and philosophy of love, desire and passion and encourages us to wake up to the trivialization of the erotic and only thinking it’s for “certain people” such as celebrities or people who look or dress a certain way. He also give us a roadmap for defining and overcoming the barriers to progress to higher levels of love. He describes our journey (which is circular, not linear) as Child, Rebel, Adult, Outlaw and Lover.

Probably my favorite thing about diving in to a subject is how all the parts begin coming together to seek my own clarity and I hope you’ll do that, too. When you open your eyes to really “see” then it seems as if what you are looking for is everywhere. The timing in reading these books and taking the Blushing Wild ecourse with a group of fascinating women online with our own personal wounds from the battle of living and loving and thrashing WHILE working on my novel and WHILE working on my own awakening has truly been powerful. Thing is, we can only make those choices ourselves. No one is standing over you saying, “Hey, you. Time to make a little progress in this whole life thing. Time to love a little more. Time to forgive yourself. Time to forgive others. Time to let go of what isn’t working. Time to get rid of the shame and guilt. Time to love a little more. Wait, I said already, right? So what are you still doing sitting there?” 

Well, okay. I’ll be that person to tap you on the shoulder but it’s up to us to commit and go for it. While a lot of my work is cerebral and spiritual, I can see how it manifests in the real world with my interactions with others – whether that’s personal or professional. And people do notice our energy. Recently a retailer came up to me and told me I had a beautiful aura, that I was glowing, and that whatever I’m doing in life to keep doing it. Wow. I was stunned.

I don’t tell you that as a humble brag but that it served as a reminder for us to be aware of what energy we’re putting out there in the world. It was even more special because she talked about my aura and not my clothes or looks (though they are a reflection of mySelf, too.) Obviously she felt compelled to share that and I think it was important for me to receive it because as much as I seem confident, I am also full of doubt and questioning and unsure a lot of the time.

Question on our energy: Am I being negative? Am I bringing the past with me to the present? Am I being a good listener when others are talking?  Am I being an active participant in the outcomes of my life or simply reactionary? Am I making assumptions or projections instead of accepting what is and feeling it? (All can be hard!) But her words gave me a gentle affirmation that I MUST be doing something right. That I’m on the right track. I’m living my passions. I’m figuring out what’s next and letting myself be vulnerable and open and receiving. I can be confident and scared at the same time. I can feel joy and pain at the same time. Life can be ambiguous and a mystery and yet still full of joy and opportunity.

Questions to ponder this week:

Who are my tribes? Do I need to remove myself from some and find new ones where I might feel more authentic?

What elements of love do I need to work on? How can I focus on them?

Am I good at empathizing with others – understanding or at least appreciating others’ differences whether that’s gender or lifestyle or opinions? How can I get better at “taking a walk in their shoes?”

Is Misery a part of your life? Where and how can you deal with her? (In my book she’s a Her. And trying to bury her won’t work, because she’ll still haunt you. Creepy, huh?)

What’s the fire in your belly? 

As always, I’d like to close with encouraging you to Get Out and explore nature and include more adventure in your life for discovery and connection to something greater than ourselves. I’m thrilled that fall is here for football season and camping and the gorgeous fall landscape.  Will share pictures and stories along the way. Here’s to happy, through the pain.

xo,

Malena