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Although society has literally physically and mentally constructed the vision of what the perfect woman should look like, here is an article I thought may be of some interest. 🙂 Besos …Kelly
After years of judging her looks, Valerie Monroe finally figures out a way to end the competition.
I grew up with a Barbie doll. Not a toy—a mother. She was a model, raven-haired, green-eyed, statuesque, with unrealistically perfect proportions, but there they were. Like the doll, my mother had an extensive wardrobe; Mom’s even included a couple of mother-daughter outfits. Were they fetching? I don’t remember. I do remember gazing at the two of us dressed alike: one, a full-blown goddess, larger-than-life, a voluptuous Renoir; the other, a skinny, freckle-faced tadpole, an anonymous, unfinished pencil sketch. It was in the shifting of that gaze—Mom, me, me, Mom—that my comparing mind was born. As far as my appearance was concerned, I was undefined except in relation to another woman. Whereas my mother was full and round and complete, I was thin, angular, inchoate. My mother’s hair was wavy and thick, always perfectly coiffed. Mine was straight and fine, my bangs always uneven. Clothes clung languidly to my mother’s curves like an exhausted lover. My clothes, like worn-out Colorforms, refused to stick to me; elastic waistbands were sewn into my skirts to keep them from falling down.

Though today I’m no Renoir, neither do I have trouble keeping my skirts up: It’s a 51-year-old body I live in. I’ve finally matured. But my comparing mind has not. It’s stubbornly stuck at 6, and if I were to follow its voice, I would feel once again like a tadpole among women. Though I’m full-grown, in my comparing mind I almost always come up short. So when it clamors to be heard, I listen as I would to a recalcitrant child, and then quiet it.

Here’s what I mean: As I’m walking down a crowded city street, a gorgeous young creature in her thirties, sleek and glossy as a black cat, crosses my path. “Bad luck for you!” cries my comparing mind. “You’ll never look like that again! You’re old and invisible!” The woman and I are stopped at a curb. Her beauty imbues her with a mild haughtiness. In a regal kind of way, she turns her head in my direction. I catch her eye.

“You,” I say, “are simply magnificent.”

The haughtiness vanishes instantly. She’s a bit taken aback, momentarily scrutinizes me for motive, sees none apparent, and then smiles her wide (magnificent) smile. “Why, thank you,” she says.

“It’s my pleasure to tell you,” I say, and it is. Because I not only remember how happy I have felt as the recipient of an authentic compliment, but now I have enjoyed the additional gratification of being able to give one. Though my comparing mind wants to nullify my power and kick me off the playing field because I can no longer compete, the power I have today is irrevocable. After years of passively accepting a definition of beauty other than my own, of striving to be a noticeable object, I’ve now assumed an active role, too: Appreciator of All Things Beautiful

There are several things that recommend the role of appreciator. It’s easy to be very busy—at least as busy as one can be striving to be among the appreciated. I’ve discovered what the smartest men have always known: that women can be lovely in many ways—as many ways, it seems, as there are women. It’s easy to be very happy, noticing things to admire rather than looking only for ways to be admired. You know that feeling you get when you see a lush summer garden, abundantly green and fragrant and riotous with blossoms? Does it bother you that you’re not as beautiful as it is? No, of course not; it’s a garden. Its beauty has nothing to do with you, takes nothing away from yours. In fact, standing in the middle of a flourishing garden, filling your eyes with the deep and impossibly delicate colors, inhaling the odors, sweet and complex, you might feel more beautiful, more precious yourself, marveling at your own ability to perceive it all. That’s the way I feel about those women I used to think of as competitors: Their beauty is one more avenue for a rich enjoyment of the world.

But maybe most important as an appreciator, I’m setting my own standards. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? No, I won’t. I won’t compare you—or myself—to anything, not the weather, not our mothers, not that gorgeous creature crossing our paths. Because a thing of beauty needs no comparison, only an eye to behold it.

More from Valerie Monroe

I hope this helped a little bit…… Live and Love each day everyone,.. MKM

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Finding a balance between what you give and what you get in your relationships is essential to your happiness, health and well-being. From co-workers to friendships to family, take Dr. Robert Holden’s Sacrifice Test to identify the key reasons behind the sacrifices you’re making in your relationships. Once you have your results, use these 10 powerful exercises to help you let go so that you can finally say yes to a more beautiful life.

There are two types of sacrifice: unhealthy sacrifice and healthy sacrifice. In my work, I have seen people try to use unhealthy sacrifice to save a marriage. It appeared to work at first, but love and dishonesty are not good bedfellows. I have seen lovers try to play small in a relationship so as to heal power struggles and avoid rejection. I have seen children get ill in an attempt to heal their parents’ relationship. I have seen business leaders nearly kill themselves for their cause. Unhealthy sacrifice is often well-intentioned, but it never really works.

Healthy sacrifice is a different story. To be happy in a relationship, for instance, you have to be willing to sacrifice fear for love, independence for intimacy, defenses for joy and resentment for forgiveness. To be successful at work, you have to be willing to sacrifice being in control to allow for innovation and sacrifice chronic busyness for genuine success, for instance. Healthy sacrifice helps you to let go of what does not really work in order to embrace what does work.

So, how much unhealthy sacrifice are you in right now? Sometimes the habit of unhealthy sacrifice is so unconscious we are the last to recognize it in ourselves. Would you be willing to sacrifice unhealthy sacrifice so as to shift your life and experience greater joy, love and abundance?

Read the complete article by Dr. Robert Holden,….. “Sacrifice test”


Keeping your guard up in a relationship is guaranteed to keep the love out, too. Couples therapists Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt share the dazzling revelation that saved their own marriage—and could help anyone’s.

“When it comes to love relationships, things are often not what they seem,” Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt write in their book Receiving Love—and you might say the two of them, marriage therapists married to each other, are their own best object lesson. Seven years ago, although they were writing best-selling self-help books, training therapists, and leading couples workshops throughout the world, their personal union was crumbling.

On the verge of divorce, they tripped over the snaky root of their discontent. “One morning, when we were most troubled,” Helen says, “we were in our bedroom and I asked Harville, ‘Do you believe that I love you?’ Harville thought about that for a couple of seconds and said, ‘No, I don’t think you do.’ I was distraught. I could only respond, ‘Given all that I do for you and our life together, how could you not know how much I love you?'”

Harville understood that his feelings were irrational, he says, but alienation was stubbornly entrenched. No matter what Helen gave him emotionally, it had little impact because he suspected there were strings attached. “Only with time and reflection did I realize that I was not able to recognize genuine love when it was offered,” he says.

As they began to contemplate the problem, in much the same way that the minute you think about having a baby, you see pregnant women everywhere, Helen and Harville noticed that a sizable number of couples they’d worked with were stuck in the same cold place. For instance, there was the wife who told her husband she needed him to express more affection—then resisted his kisses and kind words because, she said, they didn’t feel genuine. Another husband admitted that when his wife offered verbal support, he shut down and didn’t respond. And when a new father took time off from work to help his exhausted wife with their twins, she refused to let him do his share. “As far as I could see, she was undermining my gift of love,” he complained in therapy.

The struggle to understand and ease this kind of self-inflicted isolation grew into Harville and Helen’s book. “The common wisdom,” they write, “is that romantic relationships would stay happy if people did a better job of giving to each other. But that’s not what we’ve discovered. We’ve found that many people need to do a better job of receiving the gifts their partners are already offering. It’s suprising how often the compliments, appreciation and encouragement of a well-intentioned partner make no dent in the armor of an unhappy partner.

Harville ticks off the ways we deflect what we secretly crave: by devaluing praise; by assuming the other person is insincere; by criticizing the sender of a positive message for not getting it right, not doing it on time, or not doing it often enough; by not listening; or by feeling embarrassed. We also block loving words by hardening our chest and stomach muscles.

Next: “To end self-rejection, you have to learn to love in another what you hate in yourself”
These are difficult habits to break, say Harville and Helen, because they’re often the tip of an iceberg of unconscious self-hatred, going back to childhood. Our parents invariably rejected some aspects of us, either through criticism (“Don’t act that way”) or inattention (ignoring, say, our anger or ambition, or even certain interests and talents). “When this happens,” Harville says, “we split off those parts of ourselves and hide them in our unconscious.” But although we seal them off as dangerous and bad, they never go away; instead they form what Harville and Helen call a missing self.

Over time, we deny our needs and replace them with defenses. “Then when someone values us, we have to reject him or her,” Harville says. To let ourselves be cherished for who we really are would be to violate our parents’ edict that we are flawed, and to arouse our fear that if we do, feel, or think certain things, we’ll be neglected and abandoned—in the most primal sense, left to die. “So to receive love is to risk death,” Harville says. “This drama plays out because the part of our mind that holds the parental injunction is timeless—today is the same as yesterday. None of this is conscious, but the bottom line is that we reject love in order to stay alive.

Ideally, we’d be able to pull the curtain on this inner opera and deide to accept ourselves whole. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work. “You can’t consciously achieve self-love by loving yourself. To end self-rejection, you have to learn to love in another what you hate in yourself,” Harville insists. “If you don’t know what that is, you can find out by noticing what you project onto others, what you criticize repetitively and with emotion.” If, for example, you accuse your partner of being an angry person, you may have submerged your own anger. When you learn to accept the hated trait in your partner, “you will simultaneously accept it in yourself,” he says. “Self-love is born out of love of another.”

Simply put, what goes around comes around: You learn to love your partner, which allows you to receive more love. Heady stuff, and, as with most things worth having, there’s a price. You have to give up your identity as a victim and let go of whatever payoff you’ve been getting from hopelessness and despair. You also have to surrender your emotional dependency on your parents and their judgments.

“This is a complicated process,” Harville says, in a bit of an understatement. It’s also a joint project because “when one partner rejects love, the other does also, but in different ways.” That’s because we tend to marry someone who is our emotional equal (with a similar childhood wound), but who has developed opposite defenses. If you wall yourself off by yelling or finding fault, he says, your spouse might distance himself by sullenly withdrawing.

Harville suggests learning to listen deeply and empathetically. “You can say, ‘Tell me what happens inside you when I express love.’ Then listen without criticism,” he says. You might hear “I feel anxious” or a surprisingly self-deprecating remark. “If you understand and empathize—’I can imagine this feels scary to you’—a paradoxical thing happens. Your partner will view you as safe, in contrast to the unconscious memories of his caretakers as dangerous, and be more open.”

Speaking as the proverbial physicians who’ve had to heal themselves, Harville and Helen have pronounced their marriage stronger than ever, and appear to have reached a new high. Mature love, they write, comes when each person has grown with the other’s help, and when both people know how to give and receive—”it’s the lifetime achievement award.”

Keeping your guard up in a relationship is guaranteed to keep the love out, too. Couples therapists Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt tell Dawn Raffel about the dazzling revelation that saved their own marriage–and could help anyone’s.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Overcoming-Barriers-to-Intimacy-in-Romantic-Relationships/3#ixzz22PpuHk3h


IBM electronic forms – IBM Forms.


There’s never a better time to start loving yourself than right now. Author Amy Bloom tells women everywhere how.
By Amy Bloom

A few years ago, I was at a lunch for the launch of a TV show called How to Look Good Naked. (Do I need to say that the host was a slim gay man and the soon-to-be-almost-naked were all women? Can we even imagine a show in which men try to improve their appearance before the big reveal in the boudoir?) The middle-aged woman sitting next to me almost spat out her white wine. “How to look good naked?” she said. “Wear clothes!”

I wish that helped. But after 58 years of being female, I’ve come to the conclusion that a healthy, positive body image is hard to find, and neither caftans nor liposuction nor photoshopping is the answer.

This seems to be one of those puzzles you can tackle from any angle, a Rubik’s cube of bad feelings, unhealthy attitudes, and unforeseen consequences. (It’s great that we shifted away from the preceding centuries’ proscription against women exercising and getting sweaty. But who knew we’d wind up in a world in which we’re expected to weight train ourselves back into “bikini ready” shape six weeks after giving birth?)

This is not a tirade against the tabloids or the beauty industry. The tabloids produce crap, but people (mostly women) buy it: pictures of the overweight (they’ve let themselves go!), the enhanced and shapely (you, too, can look like this if you eat garlic and grapefruit!), and the shame-on-her-for-getting-too-skinny (as if no tabloid editor can imagine how a six-foot starlet came to think 130 pounds is obese). The beauty industry sees opportunity and shoots for it. The question is, how do we keep ourselves from being the opportunity, from seeing the mirror—and food, and other women—as the enemy? And how do we make all this stuff less terrible for our daughters, our nieces, the 19-year-old who feels her life will be ruined without breast implants?

I don’t expect little girls and teenagers to fend for themselves in this matter; we have to save them and—just as if we’re on a plunging airplane—we have to start by saving ourselves. We need to make friends with the mirror. Even if it’s DIY aversive therapy, in which you look at yourself in the mirror for one minute one day, then two the next, then three, you have to be able to bear the sight of yourself. (Must you bend over a compact and closely examine the drooping underside of your chin? No.) You cannot be a healthy person, let alone hope for healthy children, if you sigh and moan every time you encounter your own image, eat a cookie, or see an airbrushed supermodel on a billboard. Even if it amounts to wholesale pretending—go pretend. Walk around pretending to be a woman who likes her body. Pretend you think your thighs are not disgusting appurtenances but normal, flesh-covered limbs that help you get from place to place. Likewise your not-so-taut arms and not-so-flat tummy. Because every step toward self-love you take, and every inch of confidence you give someone’s daughter, makes the world a better place.

So stop. Stop talking to the girls in your life about “healthy eating” if what you actually mean is, “Your 11-year-old stomach isn’t flat and it freaks me out.” They will hear what you mean; they will not believe a dinner of four grilled shrimp and a spoonful of blueberries is really healthy. (Psychology research shows that even 5-year-old girls know a diet when they see it.) Stop criticizing other women’s bodies for sport or to soothe yourself.

And start. Start admiring aloud the things you really do admire. Show what you love and value. If you think Marta of Brazil is fantastic, put up her poster and get a group together to watch women’s soccer. If Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Hillary Clinton or Aung San Suu Kyi is your hero, say so.

I take these small steps myself—most days—not out of virtue, but out of vanity. My hobby is watching people, and what I see is that even the most Botoxed, lipo’d, lifted woman cannot conceal herself. If you hate yourself, it shows through every cream and cure there is. Until we stop trying to exorcise our own imperfect selves, driving out normal physical traits as if they were signs of pathology, there will always be some misery in the eyes that nothing can hide.

You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful

 



When it comes to your life, do you stick to the middle of the road? How do you handle the detours along the way? Get ready to walk through your fear and enjoy the adventure with these four steps to forging a new path.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to look back at the experiences you’ve had in your life without judgment and without labeling them good or bad? From this lofty place at the midpoint in our lives, we’ve noticed in looking back that, ironically, good things often came from “bad” experiences, and sometimes bad things from “good.” It really seemed to us that the road we’re on in life can end very suddenly, and as we come smack up against a bright new yellow road sign, there is often no other choice but to “turn here.” We would be foolish to label these detours good or bad. In the end, our experience has been that we are the women we are today because we’d been forced to make these turns onto new and better paths.

Cindy had a “turn here” moment when the economic downturn caused her industry to lay off nearly 1,000 people in a six-month period. There had been lots of hints that something like this might happen at her company, but she thought if she just kept her head down and continued to work hard she would somehow survive. Her fear over losing the job completely blocked out the fact that she hadn’t been happy there for some time. Working hard and being good at her job didn’t help, and through no fault of her own, she found herself hurt, angry and unemployed.

After the initial shock of being let go wore off, she began to realize that there might never be another job for her in the profession she’d worked in for more than 20 years. Casting around for a way to replace the income she’d lost, she soon came to the conclusion that she’d need to retool. Walking through her fear that she might not be capable of learning something new, she signed up for a six-month course in social media marketing and merged her background in marketing and branding with these new tools and techniques.

In those six months, she went from not even having a Facebook profile to teaching others how to brand themselves and their business. There were days when she thought her head would explode as she struggled to overcome the handicap of being a digital immigrant, but as the rusty parts of her brain became more accustomed to learning something new every day, she soon came to love this fast-paced new industry. Cindy now blogs, tweets, posts and vlogs multiple times every day and trains others to do the same thing. She’s energized by learning new things and now realizes that turning left at this roadblock opened up a new, different and equally beautiful path.

So when we find a road sign in our path and we know we have to “turn here,” we take a deep breath and get ready to walk through our fear. We now understand that this is simply a new opportunity on our adventure to being the best women we can be.

Photo: Jacqueline Veissid

We’d like to offer you these steps that helped us walk through the fear of taking that new path.

Stop and assess the current situation.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself on the top of a high mountain where the wind is blowing. Look back over the first half of your life and, without overthinking it, choose a moment in your life that you’ve come to think of as particularly difficult or that most altered the course of your life. Now, letting go of the “could’ve, would’ve, should’ves” of that situation, try to imagine that moment as a large boulder blocking your path and a bright yellow road sign that says, “DETOUR.” With your eyes still closed, turn your gaze to the left and envision a new path that you hadn’t noticed before. Allow yourself to feel curious and excited about where it might lead. As you leave the original path and follow the new path, let yourself feel joyful about the adventure ahead.

Identify qualities you admire.

Get out a piece of paper and a pen. Write down the names of the 10 women you admire most. Again, don’t ponder this. Write down your first thoughts. Then, write down the qualities or traits you most admire in these women. Read the list aloud. It might help you to look into a mirror while reading this list. Put a checkmark or star next to the qualities that resonate most with you as you read them.

What kind of woman do you want to be?

Now you knew this was coming. What qualities do you like best about yourself? Don’t be shy. We’ve been told not to brag about ourselves since we were young girls. This isn’t bragging. This is a conversation between you and you alone. So, go for it. Are there any words on the list of qualities you admire in other women that match the words you’ve used to describe yourself? If there are, chances are good that these words are core values for you. If none of them match, don’t worry. This is a process, and in the end, you get to choose the words that you want to represent your core values. We recommend that you pick the four to six words that mean the most to you right now. At different times in your life, these words might change. That’s okay. Don’t get hung up on creating the perfect list. Just pick four to six words that you think are important to have with you on the next part of your journey.

Create your coat of arms and motto.

We like a good art project and think that the act of writing things down, creating a visual representation of our goals and speaking them out loud helps new ideas and new habits take root in our brains. We’ve created a blank template for a Coat of Arms and Motto that you can download for free at QueenofYourOwnLife.com.

Add the four to six words you’ve chosen to identify your core values to the coat of arms template. Feel free to use markers, glitter pens, ribbon or whatever speaks to you. Have fun with this. When you’ve finished your project, sum it up with a motto. Ours is: “Because we say so.” To us, that means the way we live our lives is a conscious choice we make every day. Now, pretending you’re still atop that windy mountain, read your words aloud. At the bottom of the page, add: “I admire this woman. I admire me.” Then sign your name. We admire you too.

What is your life’s motto? Comment below.