Your Significant…Self? How To Be The Best YOU For Any Relationship

That famous country song said we were looking for love in “all the wrong places” but maybe we were actually looking in all the wrong ways. You might have a “list” of what you are looking for in your ideal mate or you might be looking for that special someone who “completes you”. In the process you might be bringing in that same person who we may think is our type yet the reality to finding love successfully may be asking the question, “What type are we?”

Before you put on your Friday night best or log back on to your favorite hook-up website again let’s take a minute to look and feel your best about the most important person in the next relationship, YOU! It is absolutely true that we attract what and who we are in to our lives. When it comes to bringing in our friendships and romantic relations what we radiate is something I call, “The Law of Attractive”. It is the true beauty that can’t be painted on or pumped up in the gym, instead it is the kind of amazing that, when you have the confidence to let it shine, will bring in the perfect person who compliments you not completes you.

I recently had a client I was coaching and after we conquered her work fears she said that her next goal was to get back into a relationship. Of course, no one who wants a relationship truly wants just anyone, they want Mr. or Ms. Right! And most of us know in our hearts exactly what that means, when someone asks we unfurl that dreaded “List”! It is the magic, 10-foot long scroll with every physical, emotional, and spiritual quality that we think we need in a mate to be happy. I asked her what was on her list and she rattled off things like; patient, extroverted, and easy-going. I have to back up by saying I had already been working with her for a few months, and, while she was working on herself currently, she was none of those things. So when I asked how her manhunt was going she said sadly that the people she was dating were none of those things. Shocker!

So where do you start? Think about the phrase, “He” or “She” is a good match for me. You don’t match socks by finding some that go nicely with each other, you match them by finding two that are as close to each other as possible.

– Make your list. Make a note of all the attributes you would find important in a long-term or forever type relationship. Be sure to list more than just physical qualities like dark hair and full lips, the values that you find important such as; honesty, integrity, loyalty, and compassion, will play a much bigger role in the long-term success of your partnership.

– Check it twice. Before you start on your scavenger hunt for love, check the list once for yourself first. If there are areas that you find important in someone else think about if you have them. If you don’t, there is nothing wrong with taking some time to work on you.

– Pay close attention to who is naughty and who is nice. All too often when don’t stick to our list out of fear of rejection, (something), or maybe just a physical connection that we mistake for love but the whole time the alarms are going off inside us to run. Trust your gut here and know that when the time is right for you and that special someone it will work out.

While there may not be a club, church, or online dating site to find true love there is one place that holds the magic of cupid’s arrow, your heart. Find that and honor it and you will be fully capable of loving someone else. Love and be loved, it starts with you!

Michelle Phillips is the author of the bestselling beauty and self-esteem book, “The Beauty Blueprint- 8 Steps to Building the Life and Look of your Dreams” (Hay House) is now available on major book sites. You can listen to her live onMondays at 12pm est on www.HayHouseRadio.com . She is also a regular guest on the national TV shows, The Daily Buzz, GalTime, and Daytime. www.michellephillips.com

Breaking the chain of low self-esteem

breaking-chain-low-self-esteemEverything we are and everything we desire stands on the foundation of self-worth that we build from within. The value that we place on ourselves in the marketplace of life dictates the quality of relationships we will have, the pay that we will receive for our services, and resonates out to our family in friends in ways that will affect generations. It is for all of these reasons and more that we build that foundation strong and tall and lovingly reinforce it every day.

Recently my friends and I celebrated the life of an amazing woman who was truly an inspiration for us all and who so beautifully illustrated the importance of creating our personal value. The day my friend Jan realized how her low self-worth was allowing her abusive marriage to continue and how that relationship was affecting her children was the day that she said enough and left. She took her kids to a shelter and started over with the desire to always be treated the way she deserved.

While living her new, higher-valued life Jan gave back to others at every opportunity. Whether it was the Red Cross, YMCA, or abuse shelters, she was always showering others with love and telling them they were worthy of more.

Eventually she started her own organization that supported foster children who had been abused or neglected. Through dedicating her life to children who felt they had no hope she helped them realize they already possessed every ounce of worth and potential needed for beautiful, abundant lives. The legacy she leaves behind doesn’t just live on in the kids and young adults whose lives she touched but in their children and children’s children. By empowering just one person to a stronger sense of self-love you afford them the opportunity to change every life they touch.

Where does this change all truly start though? How do we break the cycle of bad jobs, bad relationships, and stop passing down a belief that lives that are beneath us are acceptable? By reclaiming and building our self-worth we free ourselves from the chains that hold us back from living with purpose and joy. The next step is demanding that value be honored in every aspect of our lives. By asking for what you are worth you teach others how to treat you and model to your kids the importance of valuing themselves.

To start the self-worth ball rolling take an inventory of your amazing, positive qualities.

What are your strengths? What are the personal qualities that define you?

What are some achievements you can look back on with pride to remind yourself of what you are capable of?

How did you feel when you achieved those things? Try to remember by putting yourself back in that place of accomplishment.

Another great tool I suggest using is to think of how your best friend would speak of you, if needed, ask them. We can all think of an endless amount of beautiful things to say about someone dear to us, start by giving yourself that same amount of love.

The most important thing of all though is to pick your moment to ask for what you’re worth. Whether it is in your relationships or your job, the day or minute you make the decision to say to the world, “I am good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, and deserving of everything I desire” is the day it will start coming your way. And it is the day you break the cycle for generations by inspiring others to start construction on the foundations of their beautiful lives.

Inner Peace on Earth- for a truly beautiful Holiday

For many people this season it’s difficult “to be jolly”. Financial woes, loss, loneliness, and family stress can feel like weight of a heavy snow more than ever around this time of year. By the way, if you broke in to song with that first sentence, this may article may not apply to you but read on…

Something that you hear a lot around now is “Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men!” More than any other times of year, around the Holidays we tend think about what we can do to better the lives others. If you are struggling with ways to find your own peace though, spreading peace to others can seem out of reach. So how do we remedy that in time to have a great Holiday? I believe the cure lies in one of my favorite phrases, the change we want to see in the world starts with us. Once you have inner peace it becomes easy to be one person or one family making a difference in the lives of others by word and deed.

Now we’re on to something but, again, where do we start within ourselves is the next question.

I come to this with kind of different angle given my particular area of expertise as a Beauty and Life Coach. While millions are constantly searching for an outer “fix” the real connection to harmony and beauty is feeling bliss on the inside and radiating that out to the world. I believe that much of the inner turmoil and lack of peace that we experience comes from allowing ourselves to be caught up in superficial things like material possessions, and not living according to our authentic beliefs.

Even before thinking of the gifts you would like in your life, start finding your peace by thinking of those you already have. Your gifts can be your beautiful smile, radiant personality, intuitive feeling and deep connection to those around you, constant optimism, or just about anything else. By taking this mental and emotional inventory you remind yourself of the value that you already hold rather than thinking there must me something more. That is the point after all, that you are already more than enough! All too often we think of ourselves in terms of the “mizpah”, the beautiful necklace that we give each other as friends. It’s that heart that is broken and each of us takes half to symbolize the eternal bond with the other. The true gift is in letting yourself be complete and giving your whole heart to as many people has you can throughout your life.

We can also achieve peace by remembering that we are all gifts to the world. We are such wonderful gifts in fact, that we should be re-gifted often. And as those gifts we are not our wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows, we are a joy-filled bundle of beauty and divine purpose!

When something or someone is true to their purpose and simply enjoys being they are a source of beauty for the world. Before waiting for New Year’s resolution season, take some time to explore what it is that brings purpose and joy to you. Consider what you would be doing in your ideal job, relationships, and personal life, and how living that true to them would bring beauty to your soul. Now take that a step farther and actually write that down and create your special “gift list”. There is something about the process of putting pen to paper and seeing your dreams in front of you that helps bring them to reality.

Have a wonderful, and beautiful, Holiday and I look forward to being an inspirational part of your journey in the coming year!

Written by Bestselling Hay House author, TV & Radio Host, Celebrity Makeup Artist and Life Coach Michelle Phillips

No More Makeovers

As women in our 20’s and 30’s, we are often chasing fashion fads—the latest hairstyle, smoky eyes or skinny jeans in an effort to live up to someone else’s idea of beauty. We find out years later how we looked when reminiscing over pictures. “Wow” you say, “I looked like a crazy blend of Madonna and Rachel from Friends!” “What was I thinking?” Worse yet, if we don’t stop going for the trendy looks, we find our kids saying, “Please tell me you’re not wearing that Mom?”

What we don’t know about the futility of these surface fixes is that the beauty we are searching for lies a little deeper. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we may have lost touch with the woman we wanted to be physically, spiritually or emotionally, and it could be affecting every aspect of our beauty. We don’t know what’s missing or how we lost it, but at some point there is an awakening. We spend our 20’s and 30’s in what I call our getting years—getting the job, getting the husband, getting the kids, getting the perfect house—only to wake up later on and say, “I may want everything I have, but do I have everything I want?”

If you want to find real and lasting beauty in your life and look, now is the time in your life to know that you have earned something more. Let’s stop wasting time on make overs, it’s time for a transformation!

I was lucky enough to spend the first 10 years of my career working on my dream of being a makeup artist, doing what I thought was making people beautiful. After working with top celebrities and truly amazing people who don’t live in the spotlight, I learned an invaluable lesson. No matter how good I am as a makeup artist I can only enhance your true beauty. Saying that usually brings up two reactions; “Yeah right” and “Great, but what is true beauty?” Your true beauty is in your passion, compassion, your tears and laughter. It’s also the times when you allow yourself to revel in your deeply beautiful qualities. Every line, every wrinkle, and every gray hair, is a wonderful part of the story of your beauty.

This next step is the most challenging for a lot of us: defining our beautiful qualities. In my experience, women would pop down in my makeup chair time and again with the first words out of their mouths being, “Could you cover this or that up” or “Make me look 10 pounds thinner” or “10 years younger?” Listing what we feel is wrong with us is easy. But when I ask women to list 10 things they feel make them beautiful, they often have a hard time. I’d like you to do that when you finish reading this. But don’t stop at 10. I want you to list 20 or even more of your beautiful qualities. These can be your hips, lips, smile, sense of humor, listening skills, intelligence, or anything else that makes you a stunning one-of-a-kind woman.

From there, I want you to post your list where you can see it, maybe even break it down into smaller lists. Put them on post-it notes on your make up mirror or the visor of your car. Just be sure to put these reminders of your beauty in places that constantly reinforce the definition of who you are.

Busy women fall out of touch with who they are and forget what they have to offer. Sometimes they need a reminder of the divine gifts they are to the world. They need permission to celebrate themselves and know that it’s okay to bloom, soak in the sun and express the wild colors they were created to be.

Let your list be your reminder and before you spend any time at the end of this year or the beginning of the next thinking about what you don’t have, remember the beauty you DO have!

The Power of Perspective

Have you ever felt like no one understands you? That no matter how much you try to explain what you mean, no one seems to get it? You feel frustrated and think, If I understand, why can’t they? This is what I went through during the first 18 years of my life. I saw things in a way no one else could and had trouble getting others to view them from my perspective. While I felt completely alone and misunderstood, I only realized later that most people experience the same thing that I did at some point.

Most of us have a deep desire to be understood, and while we often expect others to fully comprehend what we’re saying and see things our way, this is actually impossible. We all possess a unique perspective that cannot be shared or replicated. No two people see the world in the exact same way.

This can be quite frustrating, especially when we’re trying to communicate how we feel, what we see, or what we’re experiencing. But, if we’re able to understand the power of perspective we can find ways to get around this frustration.

To help further understand the idea of perspective, try imagining your life as a movie. Let’s call it My Life. In this movie, you not only play the lead character, but you are also the writer, director, cinematographer, and producer. After all, this is your life.

Everyone else in your film is a secondary character and plays a supporting role, and some people play more important parts than others. Every character has a unique vantage point or perspective from which he or she sees the script, sets, cinematography—everything about it. However, since it’s the movie of your life, you get to direct all aspects of each individual’s performance. You get to tell the story of your life through your eyes only. You interpret every scene through the lens of your camera.

Now to complete this analogy, all of the secondary characters (your parents, kids, siblings, teachers, friends, and so on) have also created their own movies, each called My Life. They have the lead role in their own movies and work as producer, writer, and director. In each of their films, you act as a secondary character, and it’s their turn to direct you. You can probably understand that the perspective you have as a character in someone else’s story is very different from the one you have in your own. Hopefully this illustrates how complicated things can get when you interact with so many different people, all of them directing their own life movies, all at the same time.

Can you imagine watching one of your scenes where a particular event is playing out, while simultaneously watching the same scene in someone else’s movie where you’re in a supporting role? Anyone seeing these two take place at the same time would quickly realize that while they are both about the same event, they each interpret the situations and emotions in entirely different ways. No two movies will ever be the same, because no two perspectives are ever identical.

One of the reasons I always use to butt heads with other people was because I believed they should see the world as I did. Instead of trying to understand things from their points of view, I assumed that with enough persuasion they’d finally come to see things as I did. My obsession with being right often prevented me from shifting my perspective to incorporate their thoughts and opinions. As a result, I was constantly getting into power struggles, unwilling to waver in my views.

It was only when I was able to admit that everyone sees life through a difference set of lenses and no one perspective is ever right or wrong that my relationships began to transform and I finally began to feel the true freedom that I had been longing for my entire life.

It’s unreasonable to expect others to accept or consider our perspective if we’re not willing to do the same for them. The truth is that the world isn’t really “as it is,” but as we see it, and we all see it differently.

Take Action Challenge:

Do you try to make your way THE way? Do you seek validation by trying to be right? Do you expect others to get where you are coming from but aren’t willing to see their side of the story? Are you tired of having so much conflict in your life? For the next 7 days, try walking a mile in another person’s shoes. See life from a different perspective than your own. When you get to know where a person is coming from and what they have gone through, the more you understand why they think, speak and act in certain ways. This new understanding grants you the ability to respond with WAY MORE compassion and empathy instead of anger or frustration. When you practice the power of perspective you WILL eradicate all conflict from your life, once and for all!

**Part of this blog is an excerpt from Michael’s new book Empowered YOUth: A Father and Son’s Journey to Conscious Living (Hay House, Oct. 1, 2012)**

Michael Eisen is an inspirational speaker, author and the founder of the Youth Wellness Network (YWN), an organization dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth across the globe to live happier and more positive lives. YWN specializes in creating and implementing wellness programs in schools and organizations, while providing additional programs and training online (www.ywnambassadors.com). After positively transforming his own life at the age of 19, Michael is now on a lifelong crusade to share with other young people the principles, strategies, and practices that gave him the strength to start living a more joyful and healthier life. He contributes a fresh, young, authentic voice to the field of wellness, and is rapidly becoming a youth-wellness expert. Michael’s first book, Empowered YOUth: A Father and Son’s Journey to Conscious Living, co-authored with his father Jeffrey Eisen, will be officially released October 1, 2012 with Hay House. To learn more about Michael and the Youth Wellness Network, visit www.youthwellnessnetwork.ca.

Miracles Can Happen – TRUST

My last day of work at Head Start was on Thursday, August 2, 2012. I had the opportunity to see Michelle Phillips own the stage as our guest speaker and watch her facilitate workshop sessions for our staff. To be able to see staff that I have worked with for over six years go through the Beauty Blueprint Process and their reaction to the process was so neat to witness and watch unfold. Their eyes lit up, they felt empowered, valued, and motivated to take action. It was so fun to watch after going through the process myself.

My supervisor said some closing words of gratitude to me at the end of Pre Service. She gave me flowers and a photo album with personal notes from staff. To have Michelle with me on my last day of work and to start the Coaching Circle retreat that weekend was the perfect time to celebrate the closing of a significant chapter in my life and my 39th birthday. A huge part of my identity was stripped away and to have so much love and support around me was a blessing in disguise as I even turned a year older, closer to 40.

We smiled, we talked, we shared, we laughed, we cried, we stayed in the present moment and we healed ourselves and one another. I got a lot of take aways from the weekend and these are just a few:

To know that all will be OK. Sometimes and at least for me it feels good to hear it from another person as a reminder.
To laugh. It is so important to not take life so seriously and radiate not only your laughter out to others, but also notice what happens when the laughter affects others or situations around you. The more positive you are, the more positive things will be around you.
To have fun, be silly and not act my age. Ahhh, tubes and placebos can go a long way and reminded me, as well as gave me permission to be a kid again.
To take time to explore. To be open to receive the messages that are coming to you based on individuals in your life, opportunities that arise, or situations that occur in your life.
To trust yourself, seek clarity and not rush it. When you get clarity and you take your time to work through the emotions and situation at hand (whatever that is) you are most likely to be doing something that you love to do that is aligned with your spiritual truth, as well as your value system. The values that I selected out of Michelle’s book and that are the top three: Security, Connection and Spirituality. You can never go wrong with trusting what your heart is telling you to do regardless of outcome.
To voice my fears and not be scared to let others know. To surround myself with supportive people. communicate my needs, be able to talk to others about what I am fearful of and allow myself to be vulnerable. When you open yourself up to others it is so freeing not only for yourself but also an opportunity for others to give back to me.
To network and learn. To take this time to observe, listen, receive the messages or signs that are coming to me and learn, as well as grow from each person or experience will only help to become a better me.
Just over a year ago, I embarked on a new adventure and opportunity to join Michelle Phillips first Coaching Circle for Woman. It was one of those decisions that I made in my life without even thinking about it. I continued to participate in her circle of support up until tonight which was my last one. Another chapter in my life closing in my life out of many.

All of this is a true testament to the miracles that are occurring in my life each and every day. I went with what my heart was guiding me to do next. You can never go wrong with that. I learned in Michelle’s Coaching Circle throughout this year as another big take away, that there is no such thing as failure only outcomes. Regardless of what those outcomes are, you learn and grow from them. Making room for the new-OH the possibilities are endless.

Quick 5-Minute Meditation for Dispelling Depression, Anxiety, and Fear

In our modern day world where high stress is the norm, our brains have not yet learned to differentiate a real threat from a perceived threat, so any stress kicks the brain into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. The results? Symptoms that mirror or include anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. This can be devastating and debilitating to deal with, but there are a lot of coping skills that can help us retrain our brains and bodies to react differently.

Meditation is a great tool to use that can be done anywhere by anyone. Studies have shown many benefits, including: decreased blood pressure; increased oxygen to the cells; slowed activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear; and a shift in brain waves from the stress prone right frontal cortex into the calmer left frontal cortex. This literal shift in brain wave activity accounts for the shift in mood that meditators experience.

One of the easiest meditations to do is a Kundalini yoga meditation I call “555”, which usespranayama, or controlled breathing. This meditation can be done in as little as a minute, but anywhere from five to ten minutes is ideal.

  1. Find a comfortable position for you. Straighten your spine.
  2. Place your palms upward.
  3. Gently release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
  4. Inhale for a 5 count.
  5. Hold your breath for a 5 count.
  6. Exhale for a 5 count.
  7. Repeat.
  8. As you are doing this, you are also invited to do a body scan from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Notice any areas that are holding tension and breathe into these areas.

As we practice our meditation and breathing, our mind may wander. We may lose focus or lose count. That’s okay. Just bring it back to the breath.

April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW is a writer, speaker, and integrative practitioner who brings a unique voice to the field of health and wellness by combining traditional evidence-based techniques with ancient practices such as yoga and newer findings in contemplative sciences. She has been recognized as a part of “Generation Inspiration” and is also named as one of 20 Young Champions for Women by the White Ribbon Alliance and WIE Symposium, presented by Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington. You can follow April on Facebook or Twitter. Visit www.beingandwellness.com to learn about services she offers, including Reiki & coaching, or www.verbalvandalism.com to check out her latest written works.

Sit, Stay, Heal!

sit-stay-healNegative emotions are not fun to feel. They hurt. Oftentimes, to avoid feeling the pain, we will numb ourselves and stop feeling all together- or we will mask our pain by engaging in unhealthy habits like excessive eating, spending, drinking, or drugs. We may feel hopeless or that these feelings will never go away. Darkness, doubt, and fear may have become our constant companions. We may even come to identify with them and hold on to them because it’s all we know.

These feelings can “go away”. We are not victims to circumstance and feelings- we are creators and we can be choose to be victors instead of victims. We can choose to continue to allow our negative experiences to create our reality or we can work through these feelings and invite in experiences that feel better energetically.

Instead of rejecting our negative feelings or energy, we should explore these aspects of ourselves. It’s time to get comfortable with our discomfort and make friends with it. These moments are teachable moments and they are an incredible growth opportunity.

We need to learn to sit with our discomfort and we need to learn to stay with our discomfort so that we can work through it. Think of a puppy whom you teach to sit, stay, and heel. This is your invitation to sit, stay, and heal.

Think of the warm feelings of loving kindness that you would feel towards a puppy and extend those feelings to yourself. (You deserve this!) Think of the patience you would have for a new puppy as you are teaching him new tricks. You wouldn’t get angry because he can’t sit on his first try or because he can’t stay for more than two minutes right away. Not at all! Instead you would praise him for the 30 seconds he managed to do. You would delight in the fact that in a few days from now he manages a whole minute. You would enjoy the work of teaching your new pupil as well.

Treat yourself like that puppy. You know he’s a baby and you treat him accordingly. As a species, we humans are babies in our evolution as well. Have patience with yourself. Enjoy working with yourself. Learn to sit with your discomfort; learn to stay sitting, and you will teach yourself to heal. You will teach yourself how to transmute these feelings into opportunities for growth and positivity.

Happy healing journey to you!

April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW is a writer, speaker, and integrative practitioner who brings a unique voice to the field of health and wellness by combining traditional evidence-based techniques with ancient practices such as yoga and newer findings in contemplative sciences. She has been recognized as a part of “Generation Inspiration” and is also named as one of 20 Young Champions for Women by the White Ribbon Alliance and WIE Symposium, presented by Donna Karan and Arianna Huffington. You can follow April on Facebook or Twitter. Visit www.beingandwellness.com to learn about services she offers, including Reiki & coaching, or Verbal Vandalism to check out her latest written works. She is now taking on new Reiki clients.

By April Dawn Ricchuito, D.D. & MSW

Hay House Radio – Jan. 24, 2011 show

This Monday we’ll discuss the meaning of true beauty. I’ll be speaking with guests Carnie Wilson and Asia Voight.

Join us at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST for The Beauty Blueprint on Hay House Radio.

Click here to listen live – http://www.hayhouseradio.com

Carnie Wilson is the daughter of Beach Boys co-founder and mastermind Brian Wilson and a member of the Grammy Award-nominated group Wilson Phillips. She has been very public about her battle with Obesity. Carnie, in her own words, is simply “a go-getter.” “I like to work,” she explains. “I don’t like to stop moving — like a shark! But at the same time, I never do something unless my heart’s in it. I can’t be fake. I really go by instinct, and it seems like everything I do has to have some kind of message behind it.”

Carnie  is raising awareness for Autism.  She has seen first hand the challenges that children with Autism and their families go through.  To help Carnie in her mission  log onto http://www.theangelsmall.com/cwilson/

Find her online at www.carniewilson.com.

Asia Voight is an internationally known Animal Communicator, teacher and speaker, who has worked with over 40,000 animals in the last 13 years. Asia’s work has been featured on ABC, NBC, and Fox TV. She has graced the covers, of many publications such as Brava and Women Magazine, the front pages of the Wisconsin State Journal and the Fitchburg Star with her amazing personal story and words of animal wisdom. Asia has published a chapter in Crossing the Rubicon: Celebrating the Human-Animal Bond in Life and Death, an inspirational and uplifting story of the healing aspects of her Animal Communication work. Find her online at www.AsiaVoight.comClick here to read her guest contribution to this week’s blog.

Fire Red to Carnation Pink: Uncovering Inner Beauty

By Asia Voight

“Some day my daughter is going to be Miss America!” my dad boasted to other parents waiting outside dance class. Standing beside him my leotard glimmered in bronze over my long smooth legs. Every daughter wants to make her father proud. Believing that outer beauty reigned supreme, and that one day I would be Miss America, I signed up for every lesson that would get me on that national stage. Gymnastics, modeling, piano, cheerleading, singing and baton twirling lessons filled weekly schedules. Determined to please my family and make myself a star I pressed hard to excel.

By my teenage years, the momentary highs of my many accomplishments were followed by a deep sense of shallowness and darkness that lingered inside me. And at night I became haunted by a re-occurring dream where layers of bizarrely expressive African looking masks came off my face only to reveal nothing but a void, a black space. I began to see myself as empty and hollow, a mannequin of changing masks. The positive outward appearance and talents of my waking self was intended to bring me love and acceptance but instead, it brought about a severe disconnection between my outward persona and what I felt. Until one day, I found myself on my knees in prayer.

“God, show me how to be real. I’m sick and tired of feeling like a hollow shell.” Like a small tornado my prayer swirled up to Heaven.

In my early twenties, a speeding semi driver crashed his rig into my van and into my dreams of beauty. Trapped inside the van, a raging fire closed in on me. Managing to wriggle my body through the partially open driver’s side window, I jumped into an inferno of flames and miraculously made it to the other side

As days and weeks passed, lying immobile in my hospital bed with 72% of my body charred, I watched lovely new skin begin to form over raw flesh.  Maybe I still can be Miss America, I thought. However, all hopes cast off with this new skin as it became twisted like roots and vines. The skin fit so poorly over my bones and muscle constricting my every movement. I could not even wipe my own tears away. Hope ebbed away as each new scar formed. All the softness and gracefulness of my skin and body had been burnt off and taken with it the only avenue to love and acceptance I had known in the world.

“It’s time to look,” a staff nurse said. She handed the mirror to me but I would not take it from her.

“No!”

“Your going home soon, you have to look, “ She jetted the mirror in my face.

“I want to remember myself as beautiful,” I kept my eyes closed.

“You have to face the truth,”

“I’ll do it on my own.”

Later that day, shuffling weakly with the use of my cane and a grip on the wall handrails I made it to the bathroom. Once in I closed the door behind me. Elated to have accomplished my longest walk since the accident I relished a moment alone. This euphoria didn’t last long. Seeing the large wall mirror caused me to break out into a cold sweat. Can I do this?

Cautiously peeking out one eye at the top of my head in the mirror I let out a sigh, Not so bad, I Initially thought. Scanning down the rest of my face I grasped the sink’s edge as both eyes fixed upon my neck covered in a speckled, discolored skin-graft that looked like dead bare chicken skin. Steadying myself against the vanity, hot tears streamed down my cheeks like water down a tumbled mine shaft.

Any illusion of beauty gone, I set into hating the hospital staff, and made God an enemy of mine. Doctors call this healing? God betrayed me by keeping me alive for this. Death would have been the miracle here. I am utterly worthless now. Hideous.

My anguish only deepened as the staff got me ready for the day before leaving intensive care. My nurse gave me a package – a Jobst pressure garment used to compress raised scars. Painfully, the tight nylon-like suit stretched over my thin-skinned legs, torso, and arms – at the bottom of the package, a facemask. Refusing to put it on the staff held vigil at my bedside. My shouts of “No!” and “Get that away from me,” would not deter them. Finally giving in, the mask came over my face like a suffocating white sheet placed over the dead. The binding magnified my shallow breathing as the Velcro at the back of my head became fully attached. The nurses walked away pleased at saving my face from contracting, while I disappeared under the restricting tan mesh and ceased to exist.

The next day they wheeled me from the hospital to a vehicle waiting to take me to the airport and eventually my hometown. A staff nurse handed me a laminated card. If anyone around me were to become overly frightened I could show it so they knew I was not a bank robber or dangerous somehow.

Sitting in a narrow wheelchair on the airport runway, the crew and my mother cautiously lifted me up the airplane stairs. Rounding the corner into the aisle, the piercing stares of alarmed travelers bore into my eyes. Tightening my throat to stifle tears, I put my head down until landing. Upon arrival at O’Hare Airport with one more flight home, my mom wheeled me through the crowds to our next gate. A stranger faced us; I shielded my heart ready to be confronted by her glare. Instead she pulled a flower from her purse and looked deeply into my eyes. My breath sucked back into my chest as our gazes locked. Mouth agape, I reached out for the flower. I felt her heart open like the pink carnation she handed me. Smiling through my Jobst mask my heart lifted.

During the next few months of recovery it continued to be painful turning over in bed and reviving my paralyzed leg, but the image and sensation of the unknown airport traveler continued to give me strength to progress with my physical therapists. Likewise, meeting new people in the hospital became easier as my skin and body continued to heal. Now it was time to take my new face out into the world.

I no longer wore the mask and yet I continued to be self-conscious about the red scar that covered the left side of my face, and the graft on my neck that looked like a patchwork quilt. I drove into my old neighborhood and pulled up to a favorite hangout. My heart raced in my chest as I thought, What if no one likes me anymore? Or worse, they don’t want anything to do with me since I’m not pretty. I sat there for long moments of breathing and searching for my confidence to take this step out into the unfriendly world.

Then the image of the pink carnation sprang from my mind, energizing me like new blood. And I heard an angel speak to me through the darkness like one of the caring night nurses; “Inner beauty and love shines out as attractiveness, be this splendor and wear it on your face.”

Every cell of my body savored this declaration and I found the courage to walk into my old haunt. And to my amazement, familiar friends from my past gathered around with hugs and kind words! Looking deeply into their eyes I witnessed authentic beauty reflected back to me as if each of them had handed me a pink carnation.

About Asia Voight

Asia is an internationally known Animal Communicator, teacher and speaker, who has worked with over 40,000 animals in the last 13 years. Asia’s inspiring work has been featured on ABC, NBC, and Fox TV, as well as, countless radio interviews like the Rick Lamb Show and dressage rider Jane Savoie’s tele-seminar. She has graced the covers, of many publications such as Brava and Women Magazine, the front pages of the Wisconsin State Journal and the Fitchburg Star with her amazing personal story and words of animal wisdom. Asia has published a chapter in Crossing the Rubicon: Celebrating the Human-Animal Bond in Life and Death, an inspirational and uplifting story of the healing aspects of her Animal Communication work.

Speaking in front of thousands of animal lovers, Asia is often a popular keynote speaker for countless events like the Midwest Horse Fair® in Madison, Wis., where she has delighted audiences with her on-the-spot personal readings, humor and warmth.

Also, a popular teacher in her Animal Communication workshops, Asia generously shares her skills by gently guiding course participants on how to connect with one’s own animal companions, through exercises and guided meditations.