Looking for Someone to Blame

If you’re on the “2016 Sucks” bandwagon, I get it. Lots of stuff went down this year – deaths of beloved icons, a heated presidential election – but bad stuff happens every year – and it’s never, ever the year to blame. Was the year that innocent kindergarteners were gunned down in their classroom worse? For my mental health, it sure was. But that still doesn’t mean it was the year to blame. It was the madman. It was the gunman’s mental health. And in the deaths of Carrie Fisher, Prince and George Michael, it was years of self-destruction to blame, not the year. That Carrie’s mother, Debbie Reynolds died a day after her daughter, is a sad reminder of our own heartbreak. We want to feel good, stay high on life, so when an icon dies, our dreams die a little bit, too.Image 5

As I said in the last post, the thing to do when life gets you down is to throw gratitude like confetti. Yet that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to get real about the shit going down. The key, then, is to be able to ride the waves – to not emotionally drown in the highs or lows.

Eckhart Tole tells us we have three choices when we encounter a situation we don’t like:

  1. Leave it.
  2. Change it.
  3. Accept it.

Note he doesn’t say, “complain about it on Facebook!” or “let it ruin your day and affect everyone around you”. Of course we all share our frustrations with life in various ways, but if we want to truly be at peace, we have to decide if we are going with 1, 2 or 3 every time the job prob, relationship issue or Thing You Don’t Like rears its head. Leave the job or the relationship. Change the job or relationship. Accept the job or relationship. Trump and politics in general? Same. Change what you can but don’t beat yourself up about the things you can’t control. We’re not talking about burying our feelings, but about acknowledging them, deciding what we can do about it, and then going forward. Life is all about going forward.

A friend’s sewer pipe burst the other day, two days after they had just moved in. Was she going to let it ruin their Christmas? Nope. You act on what you have control over (getting it fixed) and simply accept that these things happen (because they do, over and over.) That’s it. Move along.

2016, like every year, had its ups and downs. I made a lot of money until I didn’t. I went out of the country for the first time – along with my kids! I got engaged. I didn’t accomplish a lot of things I’d hoped to this year, but I did accomplish learning how to give myself grace when I don’t check something off of my list. That’s pretty big. In my “one bow, many arrows” philosophy, I realize that I try to pack too many arrows into my quiver.

I’m ending 2016 by spending the day with my kids and the evening with my beloved and one of my best friends at a wedding. I can’t think of a better way to close out this year and begin the next one. Love.

If you get something from my posts, why not subscribe? My book, Personal Brand Power, will be coming out in late January, so stay tuned for more content on how to power up for personal and professional success.

Latest video: Radical Presence – let’s do this!

Gratitude Confetti When Times are Tough

How many times have you been to hell and back? Maybe in this post-election, holidays-are-coming time of year, you feel the embers of hell at your feet right now. Any type of suffering…physical, mental, familial…it’s hard. The only way to get through it is to sort of turn your hell beast into some sort of anti-superhero.

Kind of like this…
ok2x4h-jpg

c70646e4e781e30a21ec786798a88b38

Why? Because the saying goes, “what you resist, persists.” The more you DENY that your situation sucks right now, the more it holds a grip on you, keeping you from DEALING WITH IT and moving on. You stay stuck. And you burn up. Ouch.

Painful times can help us grow and discover who we are and what we really want out of life. Whether you are in hell right now because it’s your first Christmas without a loved one, your traditions have changed due to separation or divorce, your kids are away from home, you lost a job or your business is suffering, you’re worried about the state of the country with Trump at the helm…know that no matter what THIS TOO SHALL PASS. In some situations, it means you have to get out of your own way to LET IT.  The gurus say that it isn’t the situation that causes us unhappiness but in our REACTION and THOUGHTS about the situation. In other words, it’s us, not them. It’s our own mind that causes us misery.

So what are you going to do about it? Mope for the next four years…or take action to work on a social cause to make a difference?

Spend the entire holiday in mourning…or do something special to lift your spirits or create a new tradition?

I get that “making the most of what you have” is easier said than done, but it is possible. Is it weird and awkward when you switch up a tradition? Can be. But it can also be better than you expected. I had to learn to let go of the importance of “the date” versus an experience around a holiday because I have shared custody of my kids so I have to be flexible and make sure they experience a beautiful time despite what day we celebrate.

The holidays aren’t the same if a loved one has passed and honestly the holidays don’t have the same BIGNESS as they did when my grandmother was in charge of our holiday merriment – and she’s been gone 25 years. They don’t have the GIDDINESS from when my kids were little and we did the whole Santa thing and waking extra early for unwrapping gifts, either.

Because it makes me happy, I put out holiday photos of the kids when they were little and elfish. This year I even added a photo of my grandparents to my mantle display so I can remember the two decades of holidays spent with them and honor their memories.

fullsizerender

Now my kids are older and it’s my third Christmas with the man who recently asked me to marry him. I am so full of love and gratitude and that’s what life is really about, isn’t it?

pic by Valerie Sebestyen
pic by Valerie Sebestyen

My antidote to surviving life’s hellish times is to THROW GRATITUDE LIKE CONFETTI. It’s like throwing water on the fire – extinguishing some of the pain and soothing the burn. Gratitude makes you realize not all of life is so terrible…there’s always something, someone, to be grateful for.

List your confetti…heck, maybe you should even write them down on a  piece of paper, cut them up and throw them over your head. Add the little things, too. I’m so thankful for Lipsense because I can kiss Chris and drink coffee and it still stays on my lips. I’m thankful my daughter is so chatty with me. I’m so thankful for bride tribe of supportive girlfriends. An on and on. List it. Live it. Volunteer. Whatever works to cheer you up.

Namaste. Happy holidays.

xoxo—ready.aim.grow—>

Latest ONE BOW MANY ARROWS VIDEO. Subscribe on YouTube!

2015: The Year for Living Boldly

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

Image 4


― 
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.

Image

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

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

 

 

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

IMG_0819
My sis and I with our kids in the middle. Hubbies came long, too.
IMG_0852
Jurassic hike. Yes, dinosaurs roamed here. Kind of cool, right?
IMG_0898
When I look at this picture, I feel the same peace I did standing there. Zen.
IMG_5224
Getting caught up in the energy of great live music is the next best thing to being in nature for me.
IMG_5226
Matt Stansberry is a local designer and bad ass musician. I’m a huge fan.
IMG_5228
All of it. Impeccable.
IMG_5230
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.
IMG_5317
Peek a boo.
IMG_5309
I love trees more than shoe and that’s saying a lot.

IMG_5311

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!)

IMG_0716
Reached the summit of Elk Mountain. Felt amazing.
IMG_0717
Hey, it’s high up here! Kelley at the summit.
IMG_0714
Hiking = beauty.
IMG_0702
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?

IMG_0772
@ Mayo, downtown Tulsa
IMG_4723
In an egg shell in ALOFT, downtown Tulsa before going poolside for a drink with girlfriend Anita
IMG_0749
on our way to Joe Momma’s pizza (every kid was pleased – a miracle!)
IMG_0729
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?

Image 2
Sunset from the 7th floor at Ambassador Hotel, Midtown OKC
Image 4
Historic Osler Building (now Ambassador Hotel), night
Image 3
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