Focus on Your Pluses – Radiance Factor on VividLife Radio with Supermodel Emme

By Michelle Phillips

imagesFor many of us what is holding us back from feeling beautiful has nothing to do with what’s actually in the mirror, it’s how we feel about ourselves.  And how we feel about ourselves can be a product of negative self-talk that we listen to that tells us, “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or rich enough too!” The question is; where does this self-talk come from?

While it could be from someone outside of ourselves who we allowed to get into our heads, it is more commonly coming from our own minds as part of what is now being thought of as the “comparison trap.” The comparison trap stems from years of programming from a variety of places that might include images we see in the media, our up-bringing, friends or family members, and it is a debilitating need to base our own self-worth on others rather than the strengths within ourselves.

A prime example happened to me the other day when I picked up a woman’s health magazine while in line at the grocery store and on the cover was a famous work out diva in a bikini. Although I had just finished a one hour Pilates class that totally kicked my butt I looked at this cover and said to myself, “I will never look like that no matter how much I try.”

My next thought, which was a bit more comforting was that as a stylist who has worked on thousands of photo shoots I know the truth about what goes into creating the facade of perfection of that “perfect” image. You see the models don’t even look like the images we see in the media.  First they go through hours of makeup and hair, get placed under perfect lighting and then the images are digitally enhanced.  The same goes for TV and Film.  Sadly, not everyone is privy to that emotionally soothing knowledge and it hurts.

On top of that, the exhausting and sometimes depressing images of perfection aren’t just of people, we have perfect images of homes on HGTV, and food on cooking shows, and then we all have those friends who recreate everything they see on TV and magazines which really make us feel inadequate. That constant focus on what we don’t have, or how what we have isn’t as good as someone else’s is negative weight, a weight that is crushing down upon us more each day.

How are we ever going to feel good about our lives, families, jobs, our look or our bodies if we are comparing ourselves to other people?

Recently I had the honor of spending some time on my VividLife Radio Show, The Radiance Factor, with Emme, who is a powerful example of the beauty and strength it takes to rise above this “programming” we are all fighting. You may know her from magazines, as a women’s advocate for positive body image and self esteem, author, and sought after national lecturer or appearances on Oprah, the Today Show, CNN and many more.  She did all that and was voted one of People magazines most “beautiful people” and she did all being true to who she is as a “plus-size” model!

Throughout her life and career she has learned many lessons about what beauty should mean to each of us and when it comes down to it, what is truly important and how to focus on that.

Two that really stuck out for me were;

-In the United States the average size for a woman is 14 yet designers create and display clothes for models. Seeing these images of small, perfect women is damaging to our psyches and makes feeling good about ourselves in the clothes that are available to us emotionally difficult. Size does not define you!  Rip the tags out!  When you see images that are “perfect” remember, they aren’t real!  Even supermodels don’t look in person like they do in magazines.

-After being diagnosed in 2008 with Stage 2 Hodgkins disease she had time for deep reflection during chemotherapy and wondered, “Am I happy?”  She realized that she wasn’t truly happy and decided to make a change.

Which leads to a question I have for you.  If you were suddenly diagnosed with a terrible disease or told that you only had days left here on Earth…would you really focus on how you looked or would you focus on being happy?  Why is it that we don’t see the beauty in our lives?  Why do we focus on what others have as our point of reference for happiness?

It’s time to stop comparing ourselves to others, let go of labeling ourselves by our size or possessions, and live our lives according to what really matters.

As we part I want to leave you with one thought and that is to start filling your heart and mind with only positive thoughts about ourselves!  Write down what is right about you, your life, and how you look.  What are your unique gifts and talents!  That my friends, is your radiance Factor!  Let is shine!

You can listen to the actual radio broadcast with Emme here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/vividliferadio/2013/09/17/super-model-emme-focusing-on-your-pluses

Norwegian-Breakaway-SlideJoin the amazing Emme on the high seas to have a blast feeling better about who you are! https://www.emmecruise.com/

And then…I flipped off the Father of Motivation

By Nancy Levin

goldstarsticker2It was 2am on November 17, 2007…and I was determined.

I was producing two events with Wayne Dyer back-to-back over the course of a weekend. He spoke in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, and then the whole crew of us flew to Detroit where he was to speak again on Sunday afternoon. By 10pm, we were all settled into our hotel rooms in Detroit. Then my phone rang. It was Wayne, and he was in a panic. It was his briefcase, he told me. He couldn’t find it, and he was sure he’d left it somewhere en route from Atlanta. Everything was in that briefcase, he told me. Notes and books for his lecture, notes for the next book he was writing, money, and more. He couldn’t even think about getting on stage the next day without it.

At that point in my life, I was still chasing all the gold stars. Still seeking all my validation externally, which I received primarily through my work as the Event Director at Hay House, which is where I received the most love and accolades. I aimed for perfection, and generally achieved it. This situation was no different.

I was going to figure out where that briefcase was if it killed me.

I thought back. Wayne only used his briefcase at the actual events. We’d literally left the stage in Atlanta and gotten into a van en route to the airport, so he’d had his briefcase then. I had a hunch it was still in that vehicle. I called the car company and was told that the van wouldn’t be back to the lot for another hour.

No problem, I told them. I’d wait and call back.

I called an hour later the van was back, but the news wasn’t good. The dispatcher told me he’d checked and the briefcase wasn’t there. I begged him to go back out and look again. It was dark out, I figured; maybe he’d just missed it. I sat on hold, praying it was hiding under a seat. Lo and behold, I was right! The dispatcher came back and told me he had the briefcase in hand.

It was now close to midnight. Wayne called me again, and I told him I’d located the briefcase and was working on getting it to Detroit. I told him he should go to bed and not worry. He was relieved and appreciative, but still anxious—he didn’t know how he was going to get on stage without his notes and books.

I asked the car company if they would put an employee on a plane first thing in the morning to deliver the briefcase. No suck luck; traveling with someone else’s bag had become illegal after 9/11. I called FedEx, UPS, DHL and every other carrier I could find in the phone book, but it was a weekend everyone was off the clock. I called airlines to ask about freight and cargo shipments; once again it was a no-go because it was Saturday night. I called my travel agent, Andrea, who was on California time. But even putting our heads together we couldn’t come up with a solution to get the briefcase from Atlanta to Detroit by 2pm when Wayne was supposed to walk on stage.

I had a reputation for achieving the impossible. I had set my own bar so high that even though it was the wee hours of the morning and I could see no resolution, failure was still not an option.

I had left messages for some seemingly back-alley messenger services, and tried to watch TV until they called back. But at a certain point I just couldn’t sit there doing nothing any longer. At 4am I got dressed, walked downstairs, and asked the bellman to get me a taxi.

In the back seat, on my laptop, I bought a round round-trip ticket to Atlanta. I sent emails to my staff with instructions for setting up at the venue and getting it all going with without me. We were expecting 2,000 people and I wouldn’t get there until about 30 minutes before showtime, but I couldn’t care.

Based on my experiences that day, I do believe that Detroit and Atlanta are the biggest airports in the whole world. I had to go through security, get to my departure gate in Detroit, fly, go out to Baggage Claim in Atlanta where a guy from the car company was waiting for me, retrieve the briefcase, go back through security—where they questioned and groped me because I had only just arrived in Atlanta minutes before and was only traveling with a briefcase—get to my departure gate, fly again, get out of the Detroit airport, get into a taxi and get to the event venue.

Sitting in my seat, on the runway on my way back to Detroit, I called Wayne.

“Hi. I’ve got your briefcase.”

“Where are you?”

“That’s not important.”

“You’re not in Detroit, are you?”

“You’ll have your briefcase before you go on stage.”

“Nancy, did you do something crazy?’

“Wayne, just go to your Bikram Yoga class and I’ll see you soon.”

We have a little ritual when I introduce Wayne on stage. The last thing I say is, “I know he needs no introduction, but please welcome to the stage one of my most favorite men in the world—Wayne Dyer.” He comes on, the crowd goes wild, he gives me a hug, and I whisper “Have fun!” in his ear. But that day he held onto me so I couldn’t walk offstage. He turned and told the audience the whole story. How I had gone above and beyond the call of duty, stayed up all night, flown to Atlanta and back to retrieve the briefcase he left there. He explained that there was nothing I wouldn’t do, at any cost, to make whatever needed to happen happen. He even shared what had happened a few minutes earlier, when I had returned the briefcase to him.

I had gotten to the venue just a few minutes before Wayne’s car pulled up. As he stepped out of the car, with throngs of fans surrounding us, I smiled and extended my arm with briefcase in hand. Jokingly, he put up his hand as if to dismiss the offer. “Oh, I don’t need that!” he said.

And then, without missing a beat, in front of all those people, I flipped off the father of motivation.

And now, 6 years later, I have reconciled with resolving internally what I had been seeking externally. I am beginning to believe that I am loved for who I am, not for what I do. And I have finally stopped chasing all the gold stars since I know that no amount will ever be enough. While, most importantly during this process, I have discovered that I am.

I’d love to hear from you…please share your story of chasing gold stars and/or knowing that you are enough!

xoxo
Nancy

Confessions of a Perfectionist

By Ashley Ryan
confessionsI spent the majority of my life pretending to be someone I wasn’t.

Putting on a happy face and looking good in order to disguise what was going on inside.

I thought with nice clothes or a brighter smile, people wouldn’t notice my inherent flaws or the mistakes I made.

This mask of perfection lasted many years and now that I’m a mother, I especially notice all the ways I try and keep up appearances…

Setting a good example for my child.
Keeping it all together for my significant other.
Giving, giving, giving so others will see me in a good light.
The list goes on.

At work, I get emails from wonderful, incredible, women and mothers who feel isolated, anxious and depressed.

They feel under-appreciated and live with an invisible wall of pressure to be the perfect woman, mother and wife.

They experience negative emotions that stem from the strong ideals of how they should be.

Living with these feelings for many years; keeping it all together for way too long, and comparing myself to what I thought others wanted, my perfection came at a cost. It cost me my parenting and my marriage. This was a hard lesson to learn, and my struggle with perfection taught me that…

Perfection is an illusion.

It’s the golden handcuffs that keep us locked in an invisible cell.

The expectations, ideals and fantasies that we hold of ourselves, constantly comparing our bodies, hearts and minds to others, striving to fit in, looking for others to say we’re OK so we can feel OK.

Perfection doesn’t exist, it’s created in our minds.

Perfection comes at a cost.

Trying to be someone were not is exhausting. When we put energy into being what we’re not, we often lose precious people and moments along the way. Moments we can never get back — and sometimes relationships that can’t be mended.

When we try to hold it all together we give our power away.

By pretending that we can do it all; by trying to be everything for everyone, we give our power away. When we give our power away we lose ourselves and the nature of who we are and what we stand for.

Some valuable lessons I learned through trying to be perfect…

Tell the truth.

When we tell the truth about something we set ourselves free from the burden of the un-truth. Being honest is enough to release ourselves from the bondage of perfection.

Be vulnerable.

If we’re vulnerable and show our true feelings and needs we set the tone for others to do the same. It’s amazing what opens up when we share ourselves with others.

Share with others.

By sharing with others, we open up the space for them to share with us. The more we share ourselves with friends and strangers, the more we see how alike we all are. Sharing creates a space of love and closeness and is a breeding ground for new relationships and opportunities.

Mistakes are opportunities.

I used to hide my mistakes and avoid them at all costs, but perfection taught me to embrace the opportunity in my mistakes and not to give up at the smallest sign of challenge.

I spent many years living in the shadow of the perfect woman; now have the freedom to live my life as I truly am, not as others want me to be.

The Miracle of a YUMMY Body – Guest Post

This is re-posted from my friend Leah Carey’s online Miracle Journal. Her original post is here; you can find her full journal at www.TheMiracleJournal.com. She posts a miracle every day on her journal.

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By Leah Carey

If you’re familiar with my book Transforming Your Body Image, you know that it is the chronicle of my own journey from feeling “Fat and Ugly” to being okay with my body just as it is and helping others to do the same. In that book I wrote,

“As long as I keep my focus on being healthy, my self-image is not tied to my weight. My weight still fluctuates, but it’s not the end of the world, because I’m busy being the best person I can be!”

This is absolutely true…AND there’s more to the story.  I have good days and I have bad days.  There are days when I look in the mirror and think, “I look really cute today” and that is a HUGE miracle, because for 20+ years I thought I looked hideous.  But there are other days when I look in the mirror and think, “Who dressed you?  You look so washed out.  I wish these pants looked better on me…” and more.  Feeling better about myself doesn’t mean feeling perfect.  It means that I can look in the mirror and feel positive about what I see.  But there are still days when I’m not completely in love with what I see.

Then there are times like the last couple of days.  It has been a perfect storm of body appreciation.  On Tuesday night, I played in my closet with a friend, creating new outfits out of the same old clothes – she put things together that I never would have imagined.  She got me looking at the same clothes in new ways.  It was amazing.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m working through a workbook that’s about opening my heart and inviting in new love.  Yesterday’s exercise was about appreciating my body.  The instructions were to stand naked in front of the mirror and focus on each part of my body.  At each part, I was to apologize to it for the negative thoughts that I’d held about it, tell it something I appreciate about it, and then thank it for something – from the feet to the calves to the knees to the…well, you get the idea.  I’ve done mirror work before but something about the way that this exercise was laid out and explained felt completely new to me and I felt my energy changing as I did it.

By the time I got to my face and head, I had a thought that was so new – so completely revolutionary – that I actually started dancing around in my bedroom in front of the mirror…and that thought was:
“I HAVE A YUMMY BODY!!!”
WOW!!!

Later in the day I stopped in to my friend’s consignment clothing store (see why she’s the best person to play in my closet with?!) because she had just received several fitted blazers that were exactly the type we had determined I needed in my professional wardrobe — hello, miracle!  As I was trying them on, another customer came into the store and these two women – one a good friend, the other a person I’d never met – started commenting on my “luscious” curves and what a beautiful womanly body I have.  All of this without me saying a thing about the work I had done that morning.

Truly amazing.  What a miracle.

Do you have any suggestions about things that help you to feel good about your body?  If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!  And don’t forget to head up to the “Share Your Miracle” tab and let me know about the miracles that have been happening in your life!

If you’re interested in the mirror exercise, you can find it on Day 32 of Calling in the One by Katherine Woodward Thomas.  If you’re interested in my book, Transforming Your Body Image, you can find it here.

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Leah Carey is the creator and facilitator of the Live. Write. Share. workshops. Her mission is to help people share their stories as a vehicle for healing old wounds and finding their own inner resilience. She facilitates workshops and gives lectures throughout the US and Canada. She is online at www.leahcarey.com.