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 Series: Inspired by Walter Mitty and Marina Keegan

On a scale of 1 to 10, how adventurous is your life? How many new places and new experiences have you had recently? I’m shifting my Get Real series to Get Out for the summer, which goes with my own shift from more introspection to extroversion as spring turned to summer and I realized I felt a bit like Walter Mitty – only a mommyfied version of him.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty is played by Ben Stiller at LIFE magazine where he processes negatives that go into the magazine – which is turning digital. Though LIFE is all about adventure around the world, poor Walter hadn’t really gone anywhere. On the dating site, he really couldn’t list any interesting places he’d been or things he’d done. I’ve done a fair amount of traveling, but my feeling was more about wanting to embrace my adventurous spirit which was laying at the bottom of the heap of unfolded laundry.

A couple of those a-ha moments were a) I needed to get out more and b) I wanted NEW experiences, big and small. I already had the will – now I just needed to find (MAKE) the way.

The next bit of inspiration to live with intention and adventure this summer is thanks to Marina Keegan who died in a car crash shortly after her graduation at Yale. But she lived a big life in a short time – much more than Walter had lived into his mid-life. Marina loved to write and her family and editor at school compiled her works into THE OPPOSITE OF LONELINESS. I love that her words live on. Here’s an excerpt:

81uN7TTMLhLBut let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…” – Marina Keegan

So let’s not wait. Let’s have adventure NOW, not waiting for the perfect moment, the financial windfall, the age when you THINK your kids will be less cranky. Put fun shit on your list and go do them. They don’t have to be “bucket list” things, either. They can be pocket-sized, lunch-hour sized, Saturday-afternoon sized. They can be alone, with a friend, the other half, with or without the kids. They can be planned or spontaneous. It doesn’t matter. Just do them. 

Each week through August I’ll share some of my new Get Out Adventures on this blog. Of course this keeps me accountable, but I already have a lot to share from the last week! I won’t write much so I can save my time for DOING the things plus working on my new novel.

I hope Walter, Marina and I can inspire you to Get Out, too. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter I’ll use the #GetOut hashtag for photos and posts and I’ll start a new Pinterest board called Get Out Adventures. You can find me @malenalott on each one.

HAPPY SUMMER!

First Top 6 Get Outs from May 20-June 1st.

1. Hiking Wichita Mountains with girlfriend Kelley McGuire. Yes, Oklahoma is beautiful. Just Get Out and see for yourself. (Cheap day trip!)

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Reached the summit of Elk Mountain. Felt amazing.
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Hey, it’s high up here! Kelley at the summit.
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Hiking = beauty.
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All the lovelies: cactus, flowers, grass, rocks, sky.

2.GIRLFRIEND ROAD TRIP:  hip and contemporary ALOFT Hotel in Tulsa Memorial weekend (w/Wingfields): 2 girlfriends, 6 kids, #eatLocal @JoeMommas Pizza. We also saw the beautiful historic Mayo Hotel. Who do you need to reconnect with? What hotel have you been dying to see?

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@ Mayo, downtown Tulsa
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In an egg shell in ALOFT, downtown Tulsa before going poolside for a drink with girlfriend Anita
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on our way to Joe Momma’s pizza (every kid was pleased – a miracle!)
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Penguins at the Tulsa Zoo

3. ART + OUTDOORS Photo Slam and Rooftop Happy Hour @OKCMOA = see the city from a higher point of view and EVERY OK sunset is gorgeous. You deserve a happy hour from on high, don’t you?

Beer with a view. (Devon Tower as seen from OKC MOA roof)
Beer with a view. (Devon Tower as seen from OKC MOA roof)

5. Double Date Night @Packard’s OKC and Ambassador Hotel rooftop (7th floor) for drinks (w/Bacharachs) Who have you been wanting to double date with?

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Sunset from the 7th floor at Ambassador Hotel, Midtown OKC
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Historic Osler Building (now Ambassador Hotel), night
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Put on a pretty dress and grab a glass of wine and a sunset? yes, please

 

6. BEING BRAVE at the Riversport Adventure obstacle course (Sky Trails) @ Boathouse in OKC ($20 or $35 adventure pass)

I've been "high" a lot lately, haven't I?
I’ve been “high” a lot lately, haven’t I?

 

Until next week, Get Out of here! xoxo, Malena

 

 

Get Real: Owning our Energy and the Art of Shifting

What energy do you bring to your interactions with others? What about your energy when you’re NOT around IMG_3259other people?

Everything has energy and the more you research how energy affects us (from the planets to the phases of the moon to human interactions) the more I’ve become aware of the energy I’m bringing to the table and the energy of others. One way to stay in tune with your energy (and feel others) is to practice staying in the present moment and practicing stillness. Being MINDFUL is key.

Martha Beck discusses “entrainment” and how it effects beings around you  – even turkeys – when you practice stillness.

She says, You are the master of the energy you radiate. You always have a choice. Don’t fall into resonance with some random person who’s feeling lost and scared (as most humans do, most of the time). Be the peace you wish to see in the world, and watch the turkeys in your life—both literal and metaphoric—join the stillness.”

Read the full article here. 

One area I’ve been working on is to stay calm and talk less (and listen and be more) – something that’s hard for a high energy person – especially on caffeine! Like Martha’s example of the turkeys staying totally still, I’ve found my dogs like to come lay down next to me when I’m meditating or doing Pilates or yoga.

The other thing is not to let the energy of others suck you in if it’s negative. My daughter (whose schedule is the craziest this week) has some freak outs and I have to stay very aware so that I don’t “match it”. If I’m calm, it should calm her.

One of Deepak’s guided meditations, which I re-listened to yesterday, focuses on the topic of feeling and emitting energy. From the overview of his meditation:

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed,
it can only be changed from one form to another.”
—Albert Einstein

Today in our meditation we will explore our essential energetic nature. At the deepest level, we are all powerful energetic beings. We inherently possess the ability to shift the world around us with our presence and how we project ourselves. When we walk into a room, our energetic state of being is communicated before we say a word. If we’re coming from love, everyone feels it. And if we’re feeling resentful, edgy, sad or preoccupied, everyone can feel that, too. Silently, our energy speaks and our thoughts, feelings and intentions ripple out into the world.  Our capacity to affect others with our energy is both a gift and a responsibility. Ultimately, we have the power to choose how we show up and interact in this world. When we choose to come from compassion, peace, and unity, we become a powerful force for good and open the door to deep and rich relationships.

Learn more about his meditation series here. 

His advice if we’re feeling any type of negative energy is to take a deep breath and consciously shift. I’ve found that even saying “let it go” to myself or visualizing letting the “thing” go helps tremendously. Our days are so full of stressors and at this time of year – end of school – our schedules are so packed that we can become irritable and edgy. I’m not only working on not snapping in my words, but even in my thoughts. I’ve started to catch myself making judgments – even in my head – and trying to stop it and just “let it be”. See it without judging it. THAT also is about bringing energy because your thoughts and feelings can be felt by others. Even if you believe like Martha did that it’s the animals around you feeling it. For me, it would be the birds and squirrel on my deck as I work out there or the people around me at Starbucks when I’m writing and every interaction I’m having AS I’m going about our hectic schedule to get to summer.

I’m excited about starting a new Get Out summer series on adventure, courage and trying new things starting next week. I’ll post the adventures and photos and hope that it might inspire you to seek out new experiences, too. Life is about growth and taking full advantage of the gifts we’re given and seeking out (and paying attention) to those new doors being opened for us. If it’s in alignment with our purpose, we don’t HAVE to tug on the door and try to beat it down. You just turn the knob and walk through.

Transformation is all about shifting. Our thoughts, our actions. Small, big and everything in between, now and forever.

Namaste and rock the day.

xo,

Malena

*** writing update***

18K on my WIP and feeling like Jake is now fully immersed in my head so when I start writing he’s already there and I’m thinking his thoughts and feeling his feelings, which is what you have to have to keep the momentum up and let the story flow through you. I love this talk by Amy Tan on creativity so if you’re a writer, give it a view.

***wellness update***

After trying lots of new (to me) fitness classes, I’ve settled on a fitness routine I’m comfortable with. It’s still

PIE! Shared it and loved it.
PIE! Shared it and loved it.

working out every day but the “hard days” are every other day so the “light” days let my muscles relax a bit. I’ve now lost 17 pounds (since summer 2013) and while my goal is NOT to lose any more weight (I wanted to lose 10) it’s my body adjusting to the new lifestyle of eating well and working out every day. I do believe I’ll gain a couple of pounds back in muscle which is great. I’ve added more protein to my diet – especially after the workouts so that I make sure I’m not losing muscle. I don’t think I’m “there” yet in terms of reshaping my body so will continue to adjust as I learn more and see how I feel. Sending big love out to Brooke at the YMCA for being a great instructor (Pilates, Kickboxing, RIPPED) and Lauren Fitzgerald who teaches hip hop at Co-Motion. xoxo

Schedule:

Cardio – every day.

Hip hop at least 1x per week.

Kickboxing once a week.

RIPPED or HIIT once a week.

Those are high fat burning classes (up to 600 calories an hour) so then the LIGHT days I do what I call a Triple 8. 8 minutes on the stair climber, 8 on the treadmill at an incline and 8 on the bike. Then I finish up with some push ups and Pilates just to work my abs and arms. OR I’ll do OUTSIDE activities like hiking or biking. My first Get Out adventure is hiking the Wichita Mountains with my fit girlfriend, Kelley.

Eating wise, I’m letting myself have a few more “cheats” but mostly sticking to my clean/green/lean and no processed sugar or carbs. I DID share a peanut butter chocolate pie with my husband so it’s not about NEVER. He’s lost more than 20 pounds and feeling great, too. I recently added a WHEY PROTEIN powder to my smoothie after I work out so I get 25 grams of protein. At the beginning I think I wasted a lot of muscle by not refueling with protein. My meats are still chicken and tuna and turkey. I pretty much cut out all dairy but may try to add it back in a day or two a week.

Any questions or comments? Let me know. I’m here for ya.

Get Real: What refuels moms?

It’s Mother’s Day weekend 2014 and I want to celebrate Motherhood, but since this is my Get Real series where we search for our authentic truth, I wanted to share mamas occupying my heart this week and Mom Fuel:

1. Wanda Wonder Mama.  Wanda Pratt was a single mom and did what most moms do in sacrificing whatever they

KD with his mama Wanda Pratt
KD with his mama Wanda Pratt

have to and hold onto hope for a brighter future. Her son Kevin Durant is an MVP on and off the court and used his award to share his feelings about his mother, teammates and philosophy. You can hear the full speech here. He’s authentic and doesn’t let criticism get to him. What a great testament to family love. I also love that my 16-year-old gets to see KD get mushy about his mama. “You’re the real MVP.” Mom Fuel: love, hope, faith, commitment. The biggies. Thank you, Wanda.

2. Amazing girlfriend moms. I’m someone who needs to be surrounded by girlfriends. They give me energy and refuel my tank. One at time, two, a big group, a whole sorority house – it doesn’t matter. Most all of them are also mamas and truly inspire me with their gifts to their children and the Universe. I’m especially thinking of my single mom friends like Lillie-Beth Brinkman whose house burned down last week and she showed tremendous grace under pressure. (Thankfully she and her three kids were all unharmed.) It was the first house she’d bought on her own. Her strength will help them rise from those ashes and rebuild a life. My sister Amanda has truly amazed me in the almost two years she’s been a young widow and how she’s helped her children deal with the loss of their father and also just bought her first home. My sister Tina  – a mom of two boys – began running marathons in her late thirties and typically finishes in the top of her age bracket. I love that she has fulfilled that

with Jill (middle) and Ali (right) Love.
with Jill (middle) and Ali (right) Love.

dream and running refuels her. My Sooner Spaces girlfriends Ali and Jill. Ali just completed her year as PTA president and wasn’t a drama queen or diva. Because she never has been, never will be. She’s so creative and crafty and I adore her. Jill is the yang to my yen on design projects we do together and I even co-wrote a book with her, Dance Mom Survival Guide. She’s bubbly and puts up with our rap music on the car trips and even makes up some cool car dance moves. Cynthia, Tina M., Vi, Kelley – amazing women achieving your own passions and purpose while also raising great kids and still MAKE time for girl talk. Why not make a list of your girlfriend moms and what you love and admire about them and let them knowMom Fuel: living your purpose, girls nights out, laughter, listening, red wine and chocolate. Thank you, girlfriends. 

 

3. Moms who didn’t give birth to you. Whether it’s the crazy aunt who is always there for you or the grandmother who raised you or the mother-in-law who accepted you as her own, so many women around the world step into the “mom” role for other people’s children. My grandmother Zola raised my sisters and me since I was four. She’s been gone for 22 years, which boggles my mind because the time has just zapped. And just a few year gap from her passing was the entry of my mother-in-law Sheryl when I was 21, who has stuck by me through my journey through adulthood. Our differences have never caused a big conflict and she’s accepted me for me. Mom Fuel: other mothers who mother us. Thank you, Grandma and Mom. 

3 generations - my daughter Audrey and MIL Sheryl
3 generations – my daughter Audrey and MIL Sheryl
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Rod with our boys when they were 3 and 10.

4. The guys who make motherhood possible (and sometimes better!)  Sure, we can be super moms even when we don’t have assistance but to the guys who made us moms and make motherhood sweeter – THANK YOU. My husband Rod and I have taken turns being the “at home” parent and he’s on board with my hopes and dreams AND our children’s hopes and dreams. Not only do parents finance those dreams but it’s the day-to-day practices, feeding, clothing and chauffering our kids around that help those dreams become a reality. The guys can also be friends, grandparents, uncles and mentors who help make our kids the best humans they can be. It really does take a village. Mom Fuel: guys who get that we are not just a “role” and understand raising kids is their job, too and they do it happily. Thank you, Rod. 

5. Final Mom Fuel: our awesome, unique, can-you-believe-you-made-this kids. Those with more than one kid know they are each SO DIFFERENT and require being parented differently. Getting Real means acknowledging parenting is HARD for everyone even if it SEEMS like others have it easy, staying present to be with them whenever and wherever they need us but knowing others can help us take care of them, too. Who knows where the journey will take us? One day you could be sitting in the audience listening to them talk about what an awesome mom you are when they win a big award. The reality is, we don’t know how long we get to be with them, so let’s make it count. Thank you, Harrison, Audrey and Owen. I love being your mom. 

Moms:: Lose the guilt. Stop feeling like you’re a bad mom or comparing yourself to other moms. Accept help. You can’t be good at everything. Give what you have. Love even bigger. Take care of you so you can take care of others and be your best self. 

Big love to you!

xo,

Malena

 

Get Real: Finding Flow and Navigating Transformation

In today’s final mediation in the Finding Flow series, Deepak said, “beautiful truths that lie dormant are not enough.” If you REALIZE something but do not ACTIVATE it into the world, then we are not taking the crucial step necessary to being true to who we are. IMG_2665

I radiate light. That was today’s centering thought, but what does it mean to let your true self shine?  That was the purpose of the meditation series – finding flow. (The series is still available for a cost, but I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t.)

The end of the 3-week journey and the start of the fifth month of my Get Real series, combined with a conversation I had with my husband last night, led me to wanting to share some points about transformation – things to be aware of as you increase your awareness and navigate your transformation if you’re on this journey.

But undergoing a transformation – no matter your age – can cause people around you to wonder a) what’s wrong with you and b) try to figure out WHY you are changing/acting different or worse, offer their unsolicited advise and judgment – especially if they don’t like a particular change you are making. It can be unsettling.

While my posts are meant to share my journey through creativity and expression and living my best life, I’m by no means a trained life coach, so if you think you’d like help navigating transformation, you can find a local life coach to help you through that. I saw one in my 30s that was tremendously helpful in aligning my goals and some negative thought patterns in my life. In the same vein, it could be tough to be “true to you” if you aren’t sure who YOU are, which is why self-discovery (and I believe mind/body/spirit alignment) is so important. Here’s a link to Martha Beck’s life coach team.

Thing is, many people see self-discovery as selfish and narcissistic. All that emphasis on “me” can be off-putting even to ourselves. However, if we don’t do the work to activate our purpose, then we’re missing out. Combine that with the lens that people see you in – which is little picture – such as seeing what you post on social media only or basing their judgment on the differences they see in you versus seeing the BIG PICTURE which only you can see and all the little details that make up your transformation for your mind/body/spirit/family/home/career and so on.

What’s also tough about transformation is that it won’t make sense to those who think you didn’t need to change in the first place or think you should “just be grateful as is” or “you have no idea how good you’ve got it” and so on. OF COURSE gratitude is a huge part of your process and don’t feel guilty for making the necessary changes to any of the following categories of our lives (taken from Martha Beck’s life coaching page):

Business / Career // Creativity // Families and Children // Grief/Loss // Health and Wellness // Leadership // Mind-Body

Personal Growth // Relationships // Spiritual Growth // Weight Loss // Women’s Issues // Work / Life Balance

Come on. That’s A LOT. So putting our awareness on any of those areas can not only bring clarity, but action to improve them, which will result in more peace and happiness. Communicate with those you need to so you don’t alienate them and be honest.

People on the outside who know you but may not deal with you everyday may see a transformation “all at once” versus how long you’ve been “putting in the time.” For example, I started my wellness journey seriously in the summer of 2013 so my 16-pound weight loss was gradual but because I put more focus on it in 2014 by further transforming my diet and exercise plan, it’s become more apparent. For me, that was also trying new fitness routines to not only see how I could mix it up and keep motivated. Also my nature is to try new things and keep myself physically and mentally challenged as part of  my growth. By being open and willing to try new things, we can find what works for us. I gave myself a challenge to try a new workout every day and discovered one new thing I loved: Pilates. And today I’m trying a dry sauna and tomorrow I’m trying a RIPPED class at the Y for a different cardio option. Try something new.

Eating healthy can be tough in our society and especially in social situations. Those around you may not dig that you want to be gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free. WHY DON’T YOU WANT MY PIE? Tell them, it’s nothing personal. It’s just what’s working for you. See how you feel after eating clean for a week. I swear, you’ll get hooked on that feeling. Combine that with daily exercise and meditation and look out. You’re going to feel and look awesome and want to tackle the world.

Deepak tells us that spiritual awakening is NATURAL. I think it’s important to remember that because people may call your transformation a “mid-life crisis” which sounds very negative when actually you are making very positive changes in your life. The transformation may have a tipping point and that’s what people may see and respond to. For example, when you’ve reached your fitness goal or got that new job. For me, my love for life and joy have grown exponentially. Love yourself first, take care of yourself and then that light extends to others around you. Someone commented that I can’t talk about how I’m trying to shed ego and also take selfies. However, it depends on the INTENT. Are you sharing to pump yourself up and get feedback from others or are you sharing to express yourself and it’s a key piece of transformation, whether or not you are going to express yourself on a social media platform or just in real life or a combination. Here’s a nice article on self expression that I recommend. I share not to GET pumped up, but because I’m already pumped up and want to share that joy I’m feeling. All social media is a form of self expression saying “this is me”. This is what I’m doing/eating/wearing/reading/who I’m with and so on. Which is why many people are turned off my social media to begin with. I’ve stopped reading my Facebook feed every day mostly because it was a time suck, but I still get notifications and try to check in occasionally but overall, it’s not a pleasurable activity for me. I’d rather connect with people in real life. However, I love to look at and share pictures, so I prefer Instagram. I see it as letting my light shine, but not that MY light is any brighter or better. THAT would be ego. I also don’t see my daughter posting dance pictures as ego, either. That’s her thing and she’s amazing at it. It brings her joy, whether or not she got any feedback from it.

Whether you choose to share any aspect of your transformation as some do by blogging it or sharing updates on social media with your weight loss or style is totally up to you. Some may find it motivating while others find it irritating or believe you are only bragging. I have always felt my life was an open book and it’s pretty easy to see my big picture transformation over the years in my novels, too. I don’t feel I have anything to hide.

No two people’s transformation journey is going to look the same because we are each unique. I’ll admit I feel called to work on every one of those categories above which has led to my house being less cluttered and running more smoothly, getting rid of tons of junk in my life, donating old clothes that no longer fit me, shopping for things that better express who I am, taking care of my body inside and out, shedding stress and anxiety with exercise and meditation, re-engaging the family on chores and reminding them of boundaries so I don’t feel run over, and adding more fun and adventure into my relationships. It also means less wasted time on things that distract me from my goals/dreams so I spend less time on social media and watching TV and more time out in nature and writing and visiting places and people. Fulfillment is key to a happy life, so what fills you up? 

Just get out. Get out of your head. Get out and enjoy life. In the last week, I’ve seen two live music shows with my husband, and we take different kids with us to things like H&8th, OKC Arts Festival, Edmond Arts Festival and we try to find things each of us enjoy and who we most enjoy those activities with. Getting Real means acknowledging that we need to step it up and loved ones around us might need to step it up, too. Open dialogue and communication is important. Life isn’t meant to be “easy” and your transformation may have some bumps in the road as you deal with your feelings and make adjustments.

Truthfully, I’m happier and more me than I’ve ever felt in my life. I want that for each of you, too. We’re all on a journey and the cool thing is we’re never “done.” I look forward to what each day brings.

When we’re called to be the shining light in our lives, it means “I am enough.” We aren’t looking for outside validation for our decisions, but we’re listening to our inner voice and then activating those things for more peace and happiness. What better gift to ourselves and the Universe could there be?

***

EXERCISE:

Create a list of activities and people that bring you joy and schedule them into your calendar and COMMIT to it.

WRITING UPDATE:

My new manuscript is coming along really well. Meditation has actually given me several a-ha moments about my story and it enables me to go much deeper into character and my story and “see it” for what it’s meant to be. One of my favorite parts of writing a novel is watching the story unfold over time and gaining insight into the true nature of the story as I write and rewrite it. 15K out of 85K completed.

And congrats to Heather Davis on winning BEST NONFICTION BOOK at OWFI last night! TMI MOM GETTING LUCKY is a winner! Get your copy here. 

 

Get Real: What does living with intention mean?

After I set this year’s theme to “live with intention” with the call to action to “get real”, I found the following poem from Mary Anne Radmacher whose book is actually called, “Live with Intention.” Obviously, I’m meant to share it with you.

Even if all we did was live by this poem, we’d be in a good place. Intention is the step BEFORE goal setting. Our intention is big picture – feelings based – whereas the goal is more actionable with smaller steps.

So for example my intentions for the year as I continue to be my AUTHENTIC SELF is to add more ADVENTURE, PURPOSE, CONNECTION. By staying AWARE (present moment) with the aid of living my life in meditation – always open, always listening, watching, seeking – I’m able to live my truth and make incredible discoveries that help guide my steps. I’ve added links to previous Get Real posts from this year if you’d like to explore it more.

So think about what YOUR intention KEY WORDS are and write them down – everywhere – on Post Its, on your mirror, wherever. Not only does this work in the way of the Law of Attraction, but it helps the subconscious work in your favor as you consciously set goals to bring those things into your life.

Here’s Mary’s poem and then I’ll post it again with ACTIONABLE ways we can live those things.

LIVE WITH INTENTION. WALK TO THE EDGE. LISTEN HARD. PRACTICE WELLNESS. PLAY WITH ABANDON. LAUGH. CHOOSE WITH NO REGRET. APPRECIATE YOUR FRIENDS. CONTINUE TO LEARN. DO WHAT YOU LOVE. LIVE AS IF THIS IS ALL THERE IS. – Mary Anne Radmacher

The poem is full of INTENTION words. Now we can put those things in action.

LIVE WITH INTENTION = do things based on enlightened action. What does your inner voice tell you to do – even if it might be hard or painful or uncomfortable at first? This is critical in creative expression, too. The more I express my true nature, the more joy I feel.

WALK TO THE EDGE = Don’t let fear hold you back. Step out of your comfort zone. Once you walk to the edge and take in that view, you’ll be glad you did. Just try. TRY.

LISTEN HARD = Do you talk too much? Try stillness and quiet and really listening when someone speaks to you. Listening is deeper than the physical act of “hearing”. It’s also great Present Moment practice and can improve every relationship. This means listening to yourself, too. Stop burying what your inner voice is telling you.

PRACTICE WELLNESS = love yourself enough to take care of your body from the inside out. Eat clean, green and lean. Drink water and forgo the bad shit. Exercise and MOVE every single day. Add both cardio and strength training into your routine. Take care of your mind and reduce stress with practices such as walking in nature, meditation and pilates. I’m a big pilates convert. It’s reshaped my body (in addition to losing the weight with cardio.) AND vigorous exercise GROWS your hippocampus, which is your memory center. All great reasons to take care of yourself. You have ONE LIFE, my friend. And even if you believe you’ll come back in another life, DON’T SQUANDER THIS ONE.

Love your body. Work it!
Love your body. Work it!

PLAY WITH ABANDON = simply play more. Do things you enjoyed as a kid. Add more recreation and pleasure into your life. Schedule it and stick to it. Play with others, too. And stop feeling guilty about it! In my quest for more adventure, I have to add more play and it’s working. Joy bubbles up when you treat yourself to pleasure.

LAUGH = be around people who make you happy (and conversely less time around people who don’t). Allow yourself to be entertained with music, movies and activities that thrill and delight you.

CHOOSE WITH NO REGRET = my favorite thing about enlightened action is even if my “mind” is telling me it’s a scary choice, if I’m listening and trusting my inner guide, I know I won’t have any regrets. Choose and go with it.

APPRECIATE YOUR FRIENDS = show gratitude with compliments and ACTION. Schedule time together and be a good listener. What do they need? When you give, you get it back. I would be NOWHERE without my friends. The more I’m letting my authentic self out to play, the more I’m seeing how valuable my true friends are. It’s such a blessing to spend my life with them. Closely look at your relationships. Are they in a rut?

Say yes to time with friends.
Say yes to time with friends.

CONTINUE TO LEARN = read more, do more outside of your “circle”. Expand your horizons with new people, new places – be open to new ideas. Know that you KNOW NOTHING. The beauty of zen is the unknown. Relish in possibilities. Growth happens because we are open.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE = in all activities, whether it’s a hobby or a job or a career or a project or a vacation, do what you love and start dropping what you don’t love. What are you waiting for? Do something you love EVERY DAY, even if it’s small.

LIVE AS IF THIS IS ALL THERE IS = don’t wait until tomorrow. Make the changes/pay attention TODAY. Start NOW. There will never be a “perfect time” for change or the You you want to be. The beautiful thing about living in the present moment is watching your life unfold in small and big ways without feeling the stress or anxiety of “acting”. I love the word “unfold”. Lessons and signs and connections are being made in our favor, whether or not be see it. I like to think of it as YOU in the middle of the stage with the red curtain behind you. The spotlight is on you yet what you don’t see is all the people backstage making that moment happen for you. They are working the props, the lights, the sound, all so you get your shining moment.

How beautiful is that?

 

 

 

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.

I approach the way I look as IMAGE. It’s my personal brand. But I’m not following a trend, I’m taking care of my skin, hair and how I dress to present myself in the best manner that suits me. 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?