Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Impossible Things Are Happening Every Day...

Two weeks ago, I had the great fortune to see the Broadway production of Cinderella.  The show was completely enchanting, but one particular scene totally captivated me.  Preparing for a second visit to the palace, the Fairy Godmother transforms Cinderella’s frumpy work clothes into a lovely gold ball gown, and off she goes to meet the prince.  The song tells us that “Impossible things are happening every day…”  Why did this scene in particular resonate with me? 

Well, once upon a time…

I needed to attend a conference in San Diego.  I was quite heavy, not very happy about it, and definitely feeling frumpy.  However, since I wasn’t going to lose 75 pounds overnight – it was time to focus on my assets, my curves, and my face.  Weight does not define a person – a person defines a person. 

Shopping at Macy’s, I found a dress, or should I say – the dress found me.    It wasn’t a big fancy designer item, rather, it was just hanging in the INC area, and it literally leapt out at me.  It gleamed.  Long sleeved, knee length with an interesting zigzag pattern woven throughout.  Resembling something very hip and retro that Goldie Hawn would have danced in on Laugh-In (whoa – did I just date myself or what?), it shimmered with just enough glitz to make it fascinating but not distasteful.    I named the dress “Goldie”, grabbed it and made the purchase, subduing all the negative thoughts of “how will this look on my rather large backside” and “is this really appropriate” as best I could.  In that moment – I just delighted at the thought of how I would feel to walk into a room of people wearing “Goldie” and imagining the reactions.  Isn’t that really the magic in a nutshell?  The vision of the feeling?  The possibilities of that moment?  The joy of the arrival?

Fast forward to the conference, and to the night of the dress debut.  Getting ready for evening - I began doubting my wardrobe selection.  Having a “fatter than normal” day, I was filled with trepidation that perhaps “Goldie” was too much for the event.  Would it draw too much attention (meaning would I)?  Would it cause whispers about my weight?    I had loads of curves, and this dress hugged each and every one of them.  Did I “deserve” to wear such a, dare I say “sexy” dress at my size? 
I was so self-conscious about my looks that I was not able to embrace the powerful person that I am.  It was not about the dress.  That was merely a cover for the insecurity boiling under the surface.  After a few minutes reflection, the real question dawned on me - was I too much?  I was in a new job that I didn’t know well, in a new situation that didn’t fit quite right, and in a body that wasn’t to my liking.  It felt like the clock had just struck midnight, and I just wanted to run into the woods and go back to hiding in my own little corner. 

As the story turns out, I don’t hide well…
Emerging from my room in Goldie – I really emerged as myself.  The minute the hotel room door shut, I mentally shut the door on all the nasty voices of insecurity.  I had to or I would have run right back in, stripped off that dress, and frumped myself back down to something that I am not.  I’m part Italian – and as such, we just inherently know we are magnificent the way we are here and now – period.  So – it was time to go big or go home.  Since I was already big, it didn’t make any sense to go home!

The elevator doors opened on the bustling lobby.  One last second of trepidation and I shut that book for good.  Stepping out, I had to make a quick stop at the front desk.  As coincidence would have it, the president of my company was standing there checking in.  Of all people to see first!  I took a deep breath and walked over to say hello.  The next thing I heard was a very audible gasp, followed by several rather surprised exclamations about how I looked.  I smiled, said thank you, likely blushed a little, and then said I’d see him later and walked away.  As I turned – I remember thinking “YES”!  I know I’m intelligent, strategic, business minded and all that, but now, let’s add attractive, and dare I say - sexy to that list!  Oh – I like this “Goldie” thing!   I don’t remember once thinking “I’m fat” or “I need to lose a million pounds before I’m attractive” – quite the contrary. 
“It’s possible, for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage…”

The rest of that evening continued on the same trajectory – only better.  I had a raucous and rollicking dinner with three great longtime male friends, and I could tell that even they were impressed with the dress, or rather with me in the dress.  After dinner, “Goldie” and I went around to various bars and parties – all the while feeling very much like a lovely goddess of knowledge and confidence, and a bit of hotness.  My excess weight?  Nary a thought about it. 

So the next time you question yourself and what you deserve or how wonderful and gorgeous you are here and now – be it your weight, your look, your mind, your confidence – my suggestion is to dump that slump.  Get yourself your own version of “Goldie”, feel awesome now, and know that impossible things are truly happening every day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Renewal and Brewing - Stay Tuned....

Spring is here (in the Northern Hemisphere) to renew the world, and it certainly has taken a hold of me.  I am inspired and energized by:
  • My March 2013 awesome and awe inspiring trip through parts of the United Arab Emirates and Oman
  • The international contingent of passengers on my cruise ship
  • Danielle LaPorte and her endless pearls of wisdom.  She is it!
  • My enrollment in Marie Forleo's Rich, Happy and Hot B-School (Hallelujah!)  She is also it and amazing!
  • Brene Brown's work - anyone who is inspired by the same Theodore Roosevelt quote that was my original 2001 inspiration when I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia is a guru and kindred spirit
  • Gabrielle Bernstein and her May Cause Miracles and And More Ing to Your Life books (priceless reflections, meditations, and insights)
  • The copious amounts of Robitussin I have been ingesting to calm my cold and sinus infection.  The dreams have been intense and creative!
  • The lovely people who are following me on Twitter (thank you!)
  • A booked speaking engagement in Kona, Hawaii - paradise!
My mind is swirling with ideas and thoughts to share.  Nothing like spring to clear the cobwebs and dump a slump.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rip Up Those Checklists - Life In This Moment Only

I have always wanted to see, read, and know everything.  This feeling has only intensified as I write the draft of this entry while cruising on a ship in the middle of the Persian Gulf. 

As always, a good control freak has lists upon lists, and I spent most of this particular morning clearing mine, crossing them off, and making new ones.  Once I realized where I am and what I get to see and experience – my lists seem small and quite distance (get milk, pick up mail, etc.)
I know a secret though.  As I begin to plan the last few days of this mind blowing vacation with mosque visits, city tours, and desert dune adventures, I again realize that as much as I want to cram in every possible wonder, every grain of every single experience – populating every second from sunrise to sunset –something will be missed.  I drafted this entry while in the pool (literally), watching the fascinating parade of mostly European humanity go by.  To observe this – I missed a presentation on how the ship works, the afternoon bingo jackpot, and a myriad of other activities.  The older I become, the more I realize that there is only the moment one is in, and that my best option is to enjoy that one – and not worry about the one that I am not in.  I can no more see all the sights of Muscat, Oman in two hours than I can live in ancient Abu Dhabi.  So –absolutely relish the richness of the cultural feast before me, rather than fuss about that which I might (emphasis on might) be missing.  If I were not in my exact spot right here and now – I would be missing the sensible British lady reading 50 Shades of Grey, and the robust German women embracing their bodies with bikinis, which in the U.S. might be the subject of potential ridicule, but here are completely accepted and embraced.  No one appears to care that people are not a size 2 with perfect bodies – how very refreshing.  If I had been worried about elsewhere this morning (i.e. perfume shopping in the gift shop) and not on my deck reading, I would have missed seeing a gigantic pod of my beloved dolphins frolicking and the interesting three time flyby of the foreign aircraft – so close I could see the co-pilot and the tail number.  All this happening somewhere near the Straits of Hormuz – talk about being present in a moment…
My lessons to be sure – allowing myself to fully invest and concentrate on what is in front of me, what is present in this second – because, nothing is ever really missing.  I have and continue to amass such abundant experiences and memories, it sometimes makes me cry with gratitude and delight (often at rather inconvenient moments).  My life is overflowing with moments of the extraordinary, and the day to day – and I never really miss a thing.  It took a long time to recognize that truth – and now that I have, it makes life far less agitating (what am I missing) and far more interesting (oh look – this is now, how cool is that?). 

On the way back to the ship yesterday, I briefly met a lovely Omani couple who asked me to take their picture with the world's third largest private yacht in the background.  We giggled that I pushed the wrong button on his cell phone.  New acquaintances half a world and a diverse culture away – all three of us enjoying a priceless moment of laughter and smiles.  Only by ripping up my checklist of what I needed to see before returning to the ship did that moment present itself and that is one of my favorite moments from that day.  I’m glad I missed out on whatever it was…
What I know is that life is short, and I now do more of what I like and follow my instincts.  If it feels right – it is right.  If it doesn’t – don’t do it.  Over the course of this trip, I danced with the other interesting passengers at an Arabian themed 70’s music  party late into the night, ate tomatoes and cucumbers for breakfast and goulash and spaetzle for lunch, and if I’d had a bikini – I’d have worn it (no size 2 at the moment).  I started the holiday with a lot of checklists and ended up throwing the majority out the window (figuratively).  Instead – it became an open invitation to wonder and to experience a whole bunch of different things that were not listed anywhere.  This time – I did everything from go to a high tea at a seven star hotel (don’t like tea or finger sandwiches – but what the heck), held two falcons, and went off-roading through sand dunes. 

Happiness, peace, and some badge of completion (who exactly issues those anyway?) do not lie necessarily in the “I have to see and do all this stuff in order to check it off” category.  I’d rather experience things fully, and that means being present for that moment.  I’d rather do one thing memorably than five things quickly to get them off the list.  From moment to moment, you never know what you may see, discover, learn or experience.  I won’t be giving up all my checklists, but I will give up some of them for the greater good of experiencing moments of grace and splendor.  Life shows me startling serendipity, and I am beyond grateful. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Treasure Hunt and Treasure Found

Joseph Campbell wrote "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek". 

So  - a little modern story on that phrase would be in Star Wars V - The Empire Strikes Back.   Luke Skywalker (the at this point inexperienced, daring, and egotistical hero), completely ignores the warnings of his wise mentors Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi about entering a dark cave (his psyche - and I didn't have to study Carl Jung to know that) before fully completing his training. 

Leaving Yoda and barreling into the dim, stank, moldy cave - Luke finds what he believes to be his nemesis, Darth Vader, and they conduct an epic battle of clashing light sabers.  Battling mightily, Luke finally appears to prevail, and slices off Vader's head.  Luke - frightened by his own power and unsure of what he had done gingerly approaches the masked disembodied head only to find his own face therein.  This causes him great fear, a premature exit to his training, reckless behaviour,  the temporary loss of his best friend (Han Solo), the destruction of the good forces of the rebellion, and his own near death experience at the hands of the real Darth Vader. 

In other words - he got his butt kicked, but good. 

As most of us know, Luke goes on to encounter more troubles, but he also then learned - he learned the ways of the Jedi, he did more soul searching, he saved his friends, he saved his team, he saved his father, and most importantly - he saved himself.   The cave he feared to enter, led him to the treasure he sought. 

Let us now bring this to 2013 - March 6th, 2013 to be specific:

2012 was a butt kicking year for me (so was '10 and '11 but that is another story...)  I definitely went into more than one cave before I was ready, armed with only my life experience and my ego.  I went through some unpleasant circumstances, was given difficult criticisms,  and failed to meet certain personal objectives.  Of course, these moments created angry and defensive postures, and my ego didn't want to have anything to do with accepting responsibility for creating these situations.  I spent a lot of time telling myself about why things weren't good - that it was because of this, that, or the other thing.  Some valid, some excuses.  All - choices.  All butt kicking, and after awhile, I tire of the kicking.  It hurts, it's boring, and it must be stopped. 

So - this time when I went into the cave, I was knowledgeable and ready to face the fears and look for the treasure.  Among the many lessons, one was to step away from what I knew in order to learn what I didn't.  My ego wanted me to believe that I knew so much because "this wasn't my first rodeo".  Instead - when I put that ego aside and allowed myself to be taught
 (instead of being little Miss Know-It-All"), a new world of wonder and possibilities arrived.  Instead of saying "I already know that", I started asking myself "what can I learn from this?"  The answer maybe nothing, but then again, it may create a breakthrough piece of knowledge that I had never considered.  Also - I learned that tough criticism is part of being in any business.  There are many ways to approach any issue.  Not everyone will like what you do, and you won't like what they do.  You need to set the ego aside, and look for the best solutions, and when someone yells - don't take it personally.  They are the ones having the bad day...

I am pleased with my evolution, and plan for it to continue.  2013 challenges me, inspires me, sparks me,  and delights me.  It will kick my butt as well - but this time, in the more positive sense of the words.  That cave I went to - it really doesn't smell very good, and I'm allergic to mold.  I went there, got my treasure, and now it's time to get out and use it.  In 2013 - with arms wide open, giving it my all and borrowing again from Mr. Campbell - I am going to "follow my bliss". 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It Takes Passion To Turn A Tide...

Deep down, where no one but you is looking, what are your passions? Is it to start your own business?  Write a book?  Learn a new language?  Bake the best cupcakes?  Start from scratch?  Open your mind?  Stop worrying about what someone else thinks? 

If this is a hard question – here are some thought provoking ways to start cracking that code.  Write down the first thing that comes to mind, and then see how the patterns develop.  Send me your comments on your answers.  Inquiring minds want to know...
Happy discovering…be forewarned. These answers may lead to the dumping of any possible frump slumps…
·         Barnes and Noble called.  They want you to select the only genre of books they will carry for sale.  What is it and why?

·         You have a chance to teach a large audience three things – what are they?

·         You can pick three unique and interesting jobs to have in the next year (money is no object and specific skills are not required).  What are they, why do you want them, and how will they change you in one year’s time?

·         What is the biggest personal challenge you have overcome?  How would you help others overcome the same or similar challenge? 

·         If you could make only one major positive change in the world – name it.  Why that change?