Whose voice is running in your head?

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We all have them; those voices in our head that cause fear and doubt and undermine our lives. Often, they are the voices of people who we trusted and felt safe around but betrayed that security, and in the process, created a life-long internal battle for our self-esteem. It could be the voice of a parent, love interest, or even a teacher or boss whose opinion you valued, and now their words hang over your heart. “Don’t eat that or you’ll get fat.” “Don’t bother trying that you’re not capable.”

I know those voices all too well. Several years ago, after going through a difficult divorce, I lost my job of 12 years, and found myself raising three small children with no money. For months I paid my bills with credit cards and when those ran out, I applied for welfare. As I struggled through a downward spiral, voices from my past played like a broken record telling me that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough. That was until my best friend Lori called and told me she had stage four colon cancer.

I realized at that moment life was too short to listen to any voice other than mine. I decided that whatever was playing in my head, and no matter who said it, it was time to erase the tape and live my beauty! When I did, my life changed dramatically.

So how do you erase and reprogram your positive inner dialogue?

You can start by writing down all the negative inner dialogue that runs through your mind. For each bit, answer this question: What was the true intent behind the statement, meaning, who made it and why? Here’s a story to help you get the gist of what I want you to do. . . .

I was working with a client shortly after her husband left her. After weeks of self-esteem coaching, she wanted to go shopping to create a new look that matched her new life. As a celebrity stylist and life coach it’s always fun to help women bring their inner beauty to life through a look that matches who they are. After trying on several flattering outfits, however, she looked dejected and stared at the dressing-room floor.

“I have to tell you something,” she said. I braced myself because, by now, I’ve learned that clients who are making bold changes also confront even bigger fears. “I think my stomach looks terrible in all these clothes.”

“What?” I gasped. “You look incredible! You have a great body. Where is this coming from? What is the voice in your head saying exactly?”

“It’s my ex’s voice,” she confessed. “He told me that I was getting fat, and he didn’t want to have sex with me anymore.”

“What was his genuine intention behind that statement?” I asked.

“To hurt me, I guess.”

“So, it wasn’t true, right? He only said it to upset you. Do you see the difference?”
She nodded, and relief washed over her face. The inner voice that had damaged her so deeply wasn’t true, and now she saw it for what is was; a lie. She stood up straighter and smiled, and I knew she was on her way to becoming a free woman.

Whose voice is running through your head? Now it’s your turn to do this exercise so that you can finally be free of any shaming voices that hold you back. And even if the original intention was positive—as a way to protect you, for instance—the result may still be the same. This exercise enables you to observe this dialogue for what it truly is and no longer allow it to control you.

Love,
Michelle

Protecting Your Child’s Beauty in the Cyber Age

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You’ve waited your whole life for the joys of parenthood. Your amazing genes have made beautiful offspring, your warm heart and spirit have helped develop a child with deep inner beauty too, now what? With all of the influences of the media and peer pressure, how do you keep their fragile self-esteem intact through the wonder years? And how much harder has that task become with our kid’s new online lives that have them plugged in to the “matrix” at younger ages every day?

It used to be that the biggest sore spot in a kid’s life was a schoolyard or neighborhood bully that could be diffused by an angry stomp over to the offender’s house and a gold old fashioned mom-to-mom talk. Now thanks to the “world wide web” kids are opened up to a world of possible influences. Not to mention the anonymity and distance of the internet gives people a false courage to say and do things they wouldn’t necessarily do in person.

While you can’t protect them from everything they see and hear there are some guide lines you can follow to help ease possible pains;

Computer use should be age appropriate. Younger kids have no clue about the bad possibilities of the web and tend to be overly free with pictures and personal information. Discussing this with them is a must and keep younger users in common areas for their online time.

No secrets. As your kids get older they may start to think they have “private lives” that you need to stay out of, the way they post every aspect of their lives on the net is thought anything but private. At every age make sure you have their passwords and access to ALL of their social sites and have friends and family included in their social networks. Which brings me to my next point…

Keep up with the world of social media. I know you may think you have a lot better things to do than keep with what came after Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr yet when it comes to your kids, you don’t. To truly know your kids you need to know the trends.

Constant communication is the key. The teen years can be filled with a lot of grunts and rolled eyes when it comes to parent-kid talks but continue to the dialogue. Use teachable moments from the news to spark conversations and keep as open a line of communication as possible. They may not tell you everything all the time but gathering what you can and maintaining their trust will pay off.

Keep them busy. Limit online time and distract them from computer usage with healthy activities. Too much of anything is just too much.

Use the resources available. There are a number of sites that you can use for both you and your kids to monitor what is said and seen about you on the web. Pay sites like ReputationDefender and sites like Safesocial and GoGoStat can help keep you up to date with your personal information.

Most important is to continue to be a good example to your kids. As much as their peer group will play a role in their development you are still the biggest model for who they are. To be sure you are building and protecting their self-esteem, speak well of yourself and others. Loving yourself is yet another way you show them love and build a shield around them.

Love,
Michelle

Strong, Sexy, Successful…..You Can Have it All!

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There is no denying that these are very confusing times to be a woman. The generations before us fought long and hard to give us the right to lead countries, corporations, or stay home as mothers and lead our families. And what has all of this freedom gotten us? We are stronger and smarter…yet we are lost! We are stuck between what we could be and what we think we should be, searching to balance that with our femininity.

I remember as a little girl singing along with Helen Reddy at the top of my lungs, “I am woman hear me roar!” That was the battle cry of the 70’s that told women in no uncertain terms that anything you want can and should be yours. As exciting as it should have been, it was probably pretty scary for a lot of people in both genders. The women were afraid of the unknown and just how to manage this newfound power and I’m guessing that the men were somewhere in caves having meetings about how to protect their spots at the top of the food chain.

Being strong means knowing what you want personally and professionally and having the courage to go for it. Often this requires asking for what you want and, at times along the way demanding it. From a man this is almost expected. From a woman this can bring out resistance from family and friends and of course the dreaded “b-word”.

Being successful can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask. As women our internal struggles for “success” go deeper than just the pressures to climb the corporate ladder though, many of us have deep-seeded maternal instincts that leave us torn by our desires to accomplish things and the feeling that we are sacrificing our families along the way.

Being sexy while doing any of this brings its own set of challenges. The media would have us believe that sexy and “sexpot” are one and the same. It’s sad to see that after all of the fights to be taken seriously as women, this generation seems to think it’s necessary to wear three coats of makeup and have most of your body on display to be considered “beautiful.”

Thinking about all of this the questions for many of us is, “Can we be strong, successful, and sexy, or do we have to pick one?” I believe it is possible to have it all and it comes down to striking this balance between inner strength and outer beauty, you just have to know where to look…

Like everything I talk about in my book and programs having it all comes down to defining who you are, what you want most out, and rocking that throughout your life and look. By knowing what you want deep inside it will be harder for the external pressures to take you from your purpose and passion. This is the strength you can call on to achieve a success that is true to you. And by simply living this truth, and expressing it in all of your everyday actions and choices, you’ll radiate a beauty that can’t be outmatched. The sexiest woman in the room is not the one with the $1,000 dress or the best plastic surgeon but the one who knows who she is.

Love,
Michelle

Going Home

What does it feel like to die? By Anita Moorjani

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Oh my God, I feel incredible! I’m so free and light! How come I’m not feeling any more pain in my body? Where has it all gone? Hey, why does it seem like my surroundings are moving away from me? But I’m not scared! Why am I not scared? Where has my fear gone? Oh wow, I can’t find the fear anymore!

These were some of my thoughts as I was being rushed to the hospital. The world around me started to appear surreal and dreamlike, and I could feel myself slip farther and farther away from consciousness and into a coma. My organs were beginning to shut down as I succumbed to the cancer that had ravaged—no, devoured—my body for the past four years.

It was February 2, 2006, a day that will be etched in my memory forever as the day I “died.”

Although in a coma, I was acutely aware of everything that was happening around me, including the sense of urgency and emotional frenzy of my family as they rushed me to the hospital. When we arrived, the moment the oncologist saw me, her face filled with shock.

“Your wife’s heart may still be beating,” she told my husband, Danny, “but, she’s not really in there. It’s too late to save her.”Who is the doctor talking about? I wondered. I’ve never felt better in my life! And why do Mum and Danny look so frightened and worried? Mum, please don’t cry. What’s wrong? Are you crying because of me? Don’t cry! I’m fine, really, dear Mama, I am! I thought I was speaking those words aloud, but nothing came out. I had no voice.

I wanted to hug my mother, comfort her and tell her that I was fine, and I couldn’t comprehend why I was unable to do so. Why was my physical body not cooperating? Why was I just lying there, lifeless and limp, when all I wanted to do was to hug my beloved husband and mother, assuring them that I was fine and no longer in pain?

Look, Danny—I can move around without my wheelchair. This feels so amazing! And I’m not connected to the oxygen tank anymore. Oh wow, my breathing is no longer labored, and my skin lesions are gone! They’re no longer weeping and painful. After four agonizing years, I’m finally healed!

I was in a state of pure joy and jubilation. Finally, I was free from the pain caused by the cancer that had ravaged my body. I wanted them to be happy for me. Why weren’t they happy that my struggle was finally over, that their struggle was over? Why weren’t they sharing my jubilation? Couldn’t they see the joy I was feeling?

“Please, there must be something you can do,” Danny and my mother pleaded with the doctor.“It’s only a matter of hours for her,” the oncologist argued. “Why didn’t your other doctors send her to us earlier? Her organs are already shutting down, and that’s why she has slipped into a coma. She won’t even make it through the night. You’re asking for the impossible. Whatever we administer at this stage could prove too toxic and fatal for her body, as her organs aren’t even functioning!” “Well, maybe,” Danny insisted, “but I’m not giving up on her!”

My husband held my limp hand tightly as I lay there, and I was aware of the combination of anguish and helplessness in his voice. I wanted more than anything to relieve him of his suffering. I wanted him to know how wonderful I was feeling, but I felt helpless in trying to convey it.

Don’t listen to the doctor, Danny; please don’t listen to her! Why is she saying that? I’m still here, and I’m fine. Better than fine—in fact, I feel great!

I couldn’t understand why, but I experienced what everyone was going through—both my family members as well as the doctor. I could actually feel their fear, anxiety, helplessness, and despair. It was as though their emotions were mine. It was as though I became them.

I’m feeling your pain, darling—I can feel all your emotions. Please don’t cry for me, and tell Mum not to cry for me, either. Please tell her!

But as soon as I started to get emotionally attached to the drama taking place around me, I also felt myself being simultaneously pulled away, as though there were a bigger picture, a grander plan that was unfolding. I could feel my attachment to the scene receding as I began to realize that everything was perfect and going according to plan in the greater tapestry.

It was then that the realization truly set in that I was actually dying.
Ohh . . . I’m dying! Is this what it feels like? It’s nothing like I ever imagined. I feel so beautifully peaceful and calm . . . and I feel healed at last!I then understood that even if my physical body stopped, everything is still perfect in the greater tapestry of life, for we never truly die.

I was still acutely aware of every detail unfolding before me as I observed the medical team wheeling my near-lifeless body to the intensive care unit. They were surrounding me in an emotional frenzy, hooking me up to machines while poking and prodding with needles and tubes.

I felt no attachment to my limp body as it lay there on the hospital bed. It didn’t feel as though it were mine. It looked far too small and insignificant to house what I was experiencing. I felt free, liberated, and magnificent! Every pain, ache, sadness, and sorrow was gone. I was completely unencumbered, and I couldn’t recall feeling this way before—not ever.

I then had a sense of being encompassed by something that I can only describe as pure, unconditional love, but even the word love doesn’t do it justice. It was the deepest kind of caring, and I’d never experienced it before. It was beyond any physical form of affection that we can imagine, and it was unconditional—this was mine, regardless of what I’d ever done. I didn’t have to do anything or behave a certain way to deserve it. This love was for me, no matter what!

I felt completely bathed and renewed in this energy, and it made me feel as though I belonged, as though I’d finally arrived after all those years of struggle, pain, anxiety, and fear.

I had finally come home!

The Power of Inspiration

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To me, the most exciting shows on television are those that perform transformations. Everyone loves a good “before and after”! Look at the popularity of the endless number of series that demonstrate how to make over, or somehow transform, our homes, lawns, partners, pets, and more.

Love makes all the difference.

A few years ago, I attended Lori Zudell’s workshop called “Expansions,” which eventually turned into a women’s coaching circle. That experience changed my life forever. It was Lori who inspired me to move forward in my career and life with purpose. With her encouragement and support from the other group members, I gave voice to my values, passions, and dreams; and I began to live them, not just think about them. I finally learned what it meant to love myself, and how to share that love with others. Lori helped me begin to assemble the emotional and spiritual materials that would later become my own Beauty Blueprint.

What I needed, although I didn’t know it until I got it, was my own inspiration. I needed a mentor—someone to look up to who possessed an internal strength and divine sense of purpose that I could follow until it was my turn to lead. That person appeared in my life—you guessed it—at the exact time she was supposed to.

That awakening of love within resulted in a reassessment of my career goals, personal life, and even my legacy. I believed in my ability to help women discover their inner strength and beauty, and to live to their fullest potential. I believed in the healing power of true beauty. Inspiration gave me courage again.

Excerpt: “The Beauty Blueprint” by Michelle Phillips
http://www.michellephillips.com/book/

Spring Break Skin Care

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Spring break is here! Whether you are heading out for some Spring Skiing or headed south for the sun and fun, it’s important to prepare and pack the right clothes and skin protection for the outdoor fun.

First of all when it comes to preparing for the sun and fun…you have to remember that your skin hasn’t been exposed to sun for quite a while and the rays in the south are much stronger than those here in the north.

For your body…and face: Be sure to apply an SPF of 15-20. Reapply every hour while laying out in the sun. Sunscreen doesn’t last all day and that is the number one reason many people who wear sunscreen still get burned. Even if it says waterproof or resistant. Still reapply. Bring a hat, and protect your eyes from the sun too. Sunglasses are a must and be sure to purchase a pair that has uv protection.

When skiing, you still need to be sure to wear an SPF on your face. The reflection of the sun off the snow can really burn your skin. Whether I am on the beach or on the slopes, I love to wear a tinted moisturizer that not only gives you a nice glow, but has an SPF of 15 or above.

When you are in the warm or cold elements, be sure to moisturize the skin. Many hotels have soaps that are harsh on the skin. I love to throw a moisturizing bar of soap in my bag. First of all, it’s not a liquid, so I don’t have to worry about airport security and I know I have my moisturizing properties included every time I wash.

Lastly, shaving often times something that we don’t do every day during the winter months. To avoid razor burn and to again continue to moisturize your skin…try the venus shaver that includes the moisture strip. These are my favorite razors and gentle enough that I feel safe with my teenager using them. You get a close shave with moisturizing benefits.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, keep these simple tips in mind and above all else… have a BLAST!

Love,
Michelle

CLEANSING FEAR

by Leah Carey
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Have you ever had a piece of clothing or jewelry you had to get rid of because of the memories it evoked?

Maybe the earrings from your ex-husband that remind you of the painful breakup instead of the happy years.

Or the swimsuit that is two sizes too small and reminds you of how your body used to look.

Or maybe it’s the beautiful scarf your sister gave you before she passed away, and rather than bringing you comfort it reminds you how much you miss her. You don’t want to get rid of it, but you have to put it away for a while.

For my part, I had to get rid of my a sweater that was my ex-boyfriend’s favorite. Every time I put it on after the break up, instead of feeling uplifted at how sexy he thought it was on me, I felt deep sadness that things didn’t work out. It was so painful that I no longer wanted to see it hanging in my wardrobe. I also have a “boyfriend box” with the pictures and tchotchkes that remind me of him – I don’t want them gone for good because there are some meaningful things in there, but it will be a while before I can look at them without feeling sad.

The point is this: clothing and objects hold memories. They have the power to evoke strong emotions. In other words, they hold energy.

Sometimes it’s joyful energy – I feel joyful every time I put on my favorite turtleneck because I know the color looks great on me and I always get compliments on it. It holds an energy of joy.

But sometimes it’s painful energy…or sad energy…or fearful energy.

About seven years ago, I decided to make a clean start for New Years. In the week leading up to the new year, I made a project of washing Every. Single. Piece. of clothing that I owned. Yep, it was a LOT of loads of laundry.

But I wasn’t just trying to get them clean of sweat and dirt. I had made a conscious commitment to stop letting fear rule my life as powerfully as it had. So I put every load of laundry in with the intention: “I am washing FEAR out of my clothing.”

Every time I put on a piece of the newly-cleansed clothing, I felt GREAT! It wasn’t just that it was clean…it was CLEANSED. It’s a big difference. I felt like I could go forward and make new experiences, new memories, and new associations because any residual fear and sadness the clothes had picked up was washed away.

Does it mean I never felt fear again? Of course not!!!! But rather than just going along with the old pattern of fear and sadness, I’d made a conscious decision to start a new pattern. And here’s the important part: I took action to support that decision.

The memory of that massive clothing cleanse came to mind last night as I was shedding my clothes at the end of the day and deciding what to put in the laundry bucket. Normally I wear my jeans and tops more than once between washings, and both my jeans and top were still well within reasonable limits. But then I stopped to reconsider.

You see, yesterday was not a normal day. In fact, yesterday was a very scary day.

I am currently supporting my mom as she goes through treatment for cancer. She is nearing the end of her chemotherapy regimen and, as expected, she’s been getting progressively weaker. Yesterday she had a medical incident while I was alone with her at her house. It turned out to be relatively minor, but that’s not what it looked like in the moment. And worst of all, while I generally pride myself on being good in an emergency, in this case I panicked.

The aftermath of those few minutes of panic stayed with me throughout the afternoon in the emergency room and into the evening as we returned home.

When it was time to shed my clothes for the day, my natural inclination was to check my jeans and turtleneck to make sure I hadn’t sat in any chocolate and that they still smelled okay, and then put them back in the closet.

But as I started to hang up my top, something didn’t feel right. It took me a moment to put my finger on it, and then I got it…the shirt “smelled” like fear to me. So much so that I didn’t want to place it in my closet and infect the clothes around it. I also didn’t want to turn to my closet next week and wrap myself once again in residual fear.

A week or two from now would I still “smell” the fear on those clothes? Probably not. But I know from past experiences that energy lasts even when I’m not consciously aware of it.

It was worth it to me to toss the turtleneck and jeans and bra into my laundry bucket and cleanse them even before I sat in some renegade chocolate.

I’ve made a note for myself so that next time I do laundry I will once again consciously hold the intention that I am washing FEAR out of my clothing.

Next time you have a particularly upsetting experience, consider the clothes and jewelry you’re wearing. Close your eyes and see if you can sense any of that residual energy on them.

If so, toss them in the laundry even if it’s not time yet. You can do the same with jewelry – put it under running water in the sink and imagine the fear/sadness/anger rushing down the drain into the earth where it can be recycled and turned into something new. Or, if you get good sunlight in your home, you can place your jewelry in a dish in the sun for a day and imagine the sun’s rays blasting away any darkness that might be hanging on to the beads and baubles.

Why not do everything possible to start cleansed and clean for a fresh new day!