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: Hike This, Hear That

I grew up with weekends at the lake, my fishing pole sitting idle while I scrambled through the tall grass looking for horned toads and fleeing from crickets. Summer vacations were on the road, in the RV, bunking with my sisters and playing cards until it was time for us to tumble out and play badminton and climb rocks new but strangely familiar to us in places like New Mexico, Arizona and South Dakota.

While RVing is out of vogue and every time I take a road trip with the kids I swear it will be the last, I miss the open road and adventure and mostly being in nature. I have some catching up to do. My children could care less about the Black Hills or Mount Rushmore and we’re giving them the vacation of their dreams next month with a trip to Hawaii, but in the meantime, I’m giving myself the gift of Nature as often as I can. This Get Out series is certainly about unplugging and reconnecting with nature and each other, but I don’t expect my family to be as enthusiastic as I am about the idea, which is why my little treks are with girlfriends, family and even all by my lonesome. I love new challenges and adventures so camping by myself has a new appeal that would’ve frightened me just months ago. I likely have Barbara Brown Taylor and her new book, “Learning to Walk in the Dark” to thank for that idea to exile myself to the night.

Since I’m supposed to be dedicating my summer to finishing the first draft of my love after war brotherhood novel, I’ll likely only post every other week and mostly include photos to save us both some time.

This week’s “Get Out” adventures began with a trip to Black Mesa to hike the highest elevation in Oklahoma (4.2 miles up) in the Oklahoma panhandle, a mid-week treat seeing Matt Stansberry and the Romance at the UCO Jazz Lab. (Please treat yourself to their album.) and concluding with a surprise trip to The Canebrake, a resort in eastern Oklahoma in Wagoner, OK where we hiked, dined, and even saw a family of armadillos on the way out of town this morning.

Where shall we go next?

xo,

Malena

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My sis and I with our kids in the middle. Hubbies came long, too.
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Jurassic hike. Yes, dinosaurs roamed here. Kind of cool, right?
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When I look at this picture, I feel the same peace I did standing there. Zen.
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Getting caught up in the energy of great live music is the next best thing to being in nature for me.
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Matt Stansberry is a local designer and bad ass musician. I’m a huge fan.
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All of it. Impeccable.
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I’m sure in a past life I was a jazz vocalist. Now I just pose next to them and give ’em hugs of gratitude for their pipes.
The Canebrake. Where there's an arrow, I must investigate.
The Canebrake. Where there’s an arrow, I must investigate.
My Papa would be proud to see I still like to climb on rocks.
My Papa would be proud to see I still like to climb on rocks.
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Peek a boo.
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I love trees more than shoe and that’s saying a lot.

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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: Are you thinking yourself miserable?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xo

Sooners, Sisterhood, and the Symphony

I was a small-town girl who wanted to make it in the big city. I wanted to be a Sooner. The University of Oklahoma was larger than the population in my hometown and I liked it that way.

Yet I knew I wanted a home away from home and my classmates and I were advised the best way to do that was to pledge a sorority. I’m pretty outgoing and since my best friends were also rushing (now called recruitment), I went for it. Bought new outfits, tamed my big ’90s hair and put on my brightest smile. I could do this. You quickly realize everyone is tanner, richer, and prettier than you are. Add smarter, funnier, more talented and more connected, and you start feeling like what rush week can do to your fragile 18-year-old ego. Still. You hold on and hope and smile some more. You want to find a house you can fit in with, not one that makes you feel you are less than. (And remember there is only one you in all your unique glory!)

I got a bid from Alpha Chi Omega, thanks in large part to having a Woodward alum (and big sister of one of my best friends) rooting for me. It’s so easy to fall through the cracks. I was thrilled to pledge AXO and get to know a hundred new girls. You could say I’m a sisterhood cheerleader. While sorority life isn’t for everyone and being Greek has its pros and cons, I knew what would be best for me, and twenty three years later, I’m still a sorority girl, trying to live the Symphony. In fact, I’m happy to share it with you. I love this creed for goodness, don’t you?

AXO_SymphonyPageSee, it says nothing in the Symphony about parties or trying to be number one. Does that happen in the Greek system? Sure. Is it the stupid stuff that goes viral? Yes. But here’s what I got from my sorority experience:

To learn to live with people with varied backgrounds, interests, personalities and goals. Yet we rallied and supported each other.

Leadership lessons through clubs, charity work and sponsored events.Someone I could talk into going to Huston Huffman to work out with me. (Step aerobics, anyone?)

A group of girls to watch Days of Our Lives and 90210 with in the TV room. Loneliness isn’t a problem.

Study partners. Suffering, support, Classic 50s happy hours.

Mentorship – direct and indirect. Lots of osmosis happening in a house full of girls.

Deep, abiding friendships with bonds that last forever, even if there are years that pass in between communication.

Friendships with sisters across the country, spanning from pledges from the 1940s until today. The connections you make are amazing and can help you when you least expect it.

Etiquette lessons. Really, I had no idea.

The importance of tradition, meaning, purpose, leadership and service.

Social skills that you carry with you through bad bosses, cranky co-workers and “grown up” friendships and parenthood. It’s a nice skill to be able to talk to a guy or girl you don’t know and be able to leave the conversation enriched instead of embarrassed. Okay, at least not embarrassed.

Organization skills. Though my roommates would beg to differ.

Empathy. Not only through the charity work, but the tough stuff your sisters go through. Parents’ divorcing, death, financial hardships. I shared at our reunion one of my most special memories was seeing my big sis and grand big sis at my grandmother’s funeral. They’d driven for hours to make it to Shattuck, Okla. It touched my heart then and still does. Without saying a word, a sister’s presence says, “I’ve got your back. You’re not alone.” (Thank you Tanya and Michelle!)

Free counseling. From romance to friendships to learning from bad choices, having a home and sisterhood seems to soften the blow. If I hadn’t had the support of my sisters when my grandmother who raised me died just before I moved into the house my sophomore year, I would’ve likely gone into a deep depression.

Learned when to keep my mouth shut, when to hold out a helping hand and when to let someone else shine.

How to plan a party or event. You don’t realize it then, but those skills will help you in business, managing your home life, in the PTA and in philanthropy. You learn how to budget, how to rally the troops (let’s roll out!), and how to get sh** done.

Keeping you in line. From making your grades to following the rules, there are standards to uphold and you will get in trouble if you become reckless.

My belief is it’s better to have and keep an open mind so everything is an adventure. I made wonderful memories and was able to cope with the stress of college, working, extra curricular activities and dating. The house is special to me for so many reasons – and yes, I was ready to move on when I was a senior – but one day you realize your home is calling you home  and a whole new generation could use your support, in big ways and small.

That’s why I help at rush (recruitment!), make financial donation to nationals and our Psi chapter, joined the alum chapter in Oklahoma City, and visit the house when I can. We recently had a reunion and several of my pledge sisters and sisters from the time I was in the house (’90-94) were there. They absolutely live up to the Real. Strong. Women. tagline of our sorority.

If you’ve found your way to this blog because you are going through recruitment (or your daughter is), I hope you’ll keep an open mind through the process and remember the other benefits of being in a sisterhood. And if you’re not in a sorority, remember that we are all sisters in the big scheme of things and are called to respect and love each other, “be her badge what it may.” We all have something to bring to life and it’s our duty to bring our best.

A few pics from our recent AXO OU reunion:

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Book News!

My YA paranormal, TWIN FALLS, is available now.
My YA paranormal, TWIN FALLS, is available now.

I’ll be going on a 5-city “fly” sisterhood tour in late July, early August to promote Twin Falls (my YA angel twins book under pen name Lena Brown) and my fifth women’s fiction novel about three sisters who fly around the world to see where there mother has been the last twenty years, Family Charms. It will be a happy hour/girls night out event for teen girls and grown-ups with a short sisterhood talk, activities, door prizes, photos and food. So if you’re in Woodward, OK, Oklahoma City, Dallas area, Tulsa, or Wichita, KS, message me at malenalott (at) me (dot) com or via Facebook and I’ll make sure you get an invite! I’m so lucky to have sister friends in these cities to help me make this tour happen. Thanks Tina Ross, Tina McGarry, Cynthia Dutton, Deb Davis, Heather Lamb and Kari Ernest. You gals rock.

Twin Falls is already available in trade paperback, ebook (Kindle and nook) and is currently on sale for .99 for a limited time in ebook format. Hope you enjoy my take on earth angels descended from Archangel Gabriel as they battle against evil and the Crusaders who wish to destroy them with a healthy heaping of teen romance.

Get it on Amazon here.

Get in B&N for nook here.