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.

Getting back on track

Every January we start off with the best of intentions.  We make goals for better health, financial security or any number of things but by this point in the New Year a lot of people have fallen off of the resolution wagon.  So do you just give up and try again next year? I say NO and here are some ways to keep you going…

First off, how do we get off track?

Anytime you set out on a new course there is always a chance that things may not work out the way you planned.  Unfortunately, when we get fixated on how we think success should look and how fast it should come, we tend to give up at the first speed bump.  Then we feel as if we have failed and it’s a vicious cycle of beating ourselves up…and feeling worse off than we did before we set the goal…

How do we stick with our new goals?

Plan on falling off track! It’s normal.  The trick is to say, no worries, I am going to start over     with more determination this time

Set goals that are more realistic this time around.  I think we set huge goals for ourselves and when we don’t see results right away, we get frustrated and quit.  Set the big goals but with milestone goals along the way to continually feel a sense of accomplishment while keeping your eye on the prize.

When you write down your goals, does fear come up for you?  Write down the fear. Then once you look at that fear, write down what doesn’t scare you about it.  (Like when you lose 20lbs you will feel better, have more energy, not to mention a huge sense of accomplishment).

The important thing is to not be unnecessarily hard on yourself.  You’re human, with the best of intentions, but lending your voice to the chorus of negative voices in your head will definitely not help encourage you towards your goals.  This year, take small steps to create your most beautiful life!  If you need some support, call me on the radio and we will work through it together.

February 14 – The Most Beautiful Date You’ll Ever Have

The day of love is upon us and it’s time for the most beautiful date you’ll ever have…YOU! Love is the light that reveals your beauty to the world!

My guests will be Leah Carey and Michael Chase.

Leah is the creator and facilitator of the Live. Write. Share. workshops that help people to share their stories as a vehicle for healing old wounds and finding their own inner resilience.

Leah writes a daily Miracle Journal where she recounts the miracles she finds in her life each day. I’ve re-posted her entry “The Miracle of a YUMMY Body” – about loving her own body with all its feminine curves – on my blog; also click here to read a perfect Valentine’s Day treat, “The Miracle of Amazing Men: In celebration of the male spirit“.

Leah’s blog is at www.themiraclejournal.com. Find information about her book, “Transforming Your Body Image” and her workshops at www.leahcarey.com.

Michael is affectionately known as “The Kindness Guy” and he is one of today’s most powerful voices for creating a kinder world. At the age of thirty-seven, Michael ended an award-winning photography career to begin The Kindness Center. His book “Am I Being Kind?” is set to be released by Hay House Publishing on April 15 and is now available for pre-sale at Amazon.com.

From his “24 Hours of Kindness” events to his “Caffeinated Kindness” days, Michael brings the message of kindness to cities and towns around the country. He is dedicated to doing small acts of kindness for others and has made it his life’s mission to spread kindness across the globe. His passionate keynote presentations have inspired thousands by revealing the secrets to true happiness and how we can all create a better world. Valentine’s Day is one of Michael’s favorite days of the year because it’s a day when we focus on the best in each other.

Find Michael online at www.thekindnesscenter.com.

Top 5 Tips for Enhancing Your TRUE Beauty

Glance at any fashion magazine and you are sure to be inundated with products and techniques to keep up with the latest celebrity looks. Here some simple tips to enhance our own true beauty without breaking the bank.

First of all, we need to go back to the basics of classic beauty. Less is more! It’s that simple!

  1. Concealer is a must…even if you don’t wear a foundation. Try a concealer with a yellow base to it. Apply only on the inner corner of your eye and lightly blend out. There is no need to apply to the outer corner of eye. If you do this, you will look like a raccoon and accentuate any fine lines you may have
  2. Fill in your brows! Properly arched brows that are lightly filled in with a pencil or powder that matches your brow color will create more of an open eye look and lift the eye area. The goal is to look more youthful!
  3. Blush…apply your blush on your cheekbone…not under. Blush should never be applied below the imaginary line that goes from your nostril to your ear. The lower the blush is applied the older you will look. Avoid Brown tones when it comes to blush, brighter tones will give you a healthy glow.
  4. Eye shadows should remain neutral. Trends are fun…but only on teenagers. Warm tones bring out any eye color.
  5.  Mascara is best when applied on the top lashes only. For a more dramatic evening look go for top and bottom. If you have dark circles under your eyes, avoid mascara on bottom lashes all together.

We are all beautiful! Keep in mind that make up is supposed to enhance your beauty, not cover it up.

How not to see RED on Black Friday

One of the busiest and most exciting shopping days of the year is just around the corner. Along with that day comes the rallying cry of, “Charge it!” and a whole lot of stress. Some of it is self-imposed and some of it is the retail industry knowing just how to get us amped up. The ads for Black Friday are starting earlier and seem to get more exciting every year. The sales even start earlier too! Midnight? You’ve barely cleaned the kitchen or come out of your turkey coma with enough clarity to drive the car and you’re expected to have your shopping head on?! And how many “sales of the century” can there be? Sure we just changed over to a new one but at least give us a couple years to forget about the last one and for gosh sakes pace yourself.

Whatever it is that makes our individual eyes light up, they always seem to find something to start us down the path of mass retail hypnosis. Like zombies we march to the malls with glazed eyes and the mantra of “must shop” only to snap from bliss to stress the moment we pull into the parking lot. From fighting for a parking spot, to getting in to a tug-of-war over the last sale item on the shelf, to finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our lists, we seem to find ways to make our blood boil.

A lot of the stress we feel is self-imposed and can be avoided. The keys to surviving possibly the best shopping day of the year are preparedness and perspective blended with a few of my favorite things~

  1. You can start mapping out what you want to accomplish by making a gift list and charting the sales you want to hit well in advance. This is not the best time to be swimming through manic crowds of pre-dawn discount shoppers looking for gift ideas. Plus, it’s not only a great way to get more done in a short period of time but can also help with budgeting. If you know what you want and get what’s on your list it could cut down on impulse buying. While we all want to take extra special care in getting the right presents, but excessive spending around the holidays is another place we put pressure on ourselves.
  2. You can even use that gift list to route your buying journey to have a nice flow so you’re not bouncing from store to store feeling confused and anxious.
  3. Get a ride to the stores or take a taxi to cut down the stress of finding a place to park. You can also use the fact that you have a designated driver as an opportunity to have a little a pre-party. Speaking of parties, get a shopping buddy.
  4. Remember, if we don’t get everything done we still have over 3 weeks to work on it. If we do cross most everyone off our list we can rest easy and stay out of the frenzy that is sure to build throughout December. We can go back to stressing over what to wear to the company party.

If all else fails and you want to cash in all the great deals and have the fun of shopping without ever leaving the house. Have your shopping buddies over to buy online. You can party hearty and when you shop til you drop you can drop on your own comfy couch.

Thanksgiving Dinner – The Sitcom Sit-down

The holidays are almost here and in theory they should be a time of great joy as we spend precious moments with the people we cherish. Unfortunately for a lot of us that time falls squarely between a sitcom and full-blown horror flick. If they were still making Peanuts cartoons but with a more modern feel, for many of us it would probably be something like, “It’s a dysfunctional family dinner Charlie Brown.”

Whether you are hosting the family dinner or just attending somewhere else, for some reason what should be a safe haven of love and support gets turned into a place you have to emotionally toughen up before walking in the door. If it’s not the delicious aromas of turkey and pie that makes you take a deep breath before ringing the doorbell, what is it?

For starters, you have relatives or friends that can’t be invited at the same time as others, you’ve got an uncle who it’s in everybody’s best interest if you water down his drinks, and there’s always at least one person you know is going to pick apart your life like a buzzard working on a piece of emotional roadkill. The latter can be particularly disturbing when most of us are not facing the easiest of times. All of this leaves Thanksgiving with the potential for the turkey to be stuffed with massive drama!

Before you give it all up and resign yourself to the kiddy table, let’s look at some ways to make the most of these times with family and friends.

First, let’s remember that it is just that, time with the people that mean the most to us. These are people that we know will be there for us through thick and thin. As for Uncle Larry, continue to sneak in the watered down drinks, and if family members are feuding, remember-it’s not your problem. Like I tell my kids, don’t get involved in the drama, and move away from any negative situation.

As for our own worry about being shamed for some of our unfortunate situations, let’s start by not making this a day of playing make believe. It’s time for a little honesty. I’m not saying decorate your house with your dirty laundry but if you’re going through hard times of any sort be honest about them. We stress ourselves out so much with the energy it takes to be “perfect” for the people who should understand us most. To get through any crisis in life we need support. As much as family can tend to judge us and be critical they are there for us. Which brings me to my next suggestion…
Don’t’ be afraid of your family, they really do want to see you succeed. If you are really anxious about the inquiries that will be made by some people who are really labeled as “judgmental” in your tribe, pick up the phone before the big day arrives and let them know what you are going through. While you’re at it, tell them that you are hoping to gain their support and understanding. Many times the people closest to us think they are taking care of us by “fixing” our problems. Let them know if you are just looking to vent, a shoulder to lean on, or maybe not fixing but some positive ideas to guide you through the situation. Hopefully this will lead them to support you in a positive direction and help them keep their negative comments to themselves.

If we can set boundaries and remember what and who are really important in our lives we can get beyond the drama to the love and laughter that should fill our lives more than that extra scoop of mashed potatoes ever could. That said, remember to take time to go around the table to give everyone a chance to talk about what they are truly thankful for.

A Case of the “What Ifs”

Isn’t it incredible how fear can nearly paralyze us and it isn’t until we really hit a major crisis that we see how strong we are? Strength comes from many different things. Mainly from going through a lot of negative experiences and through the process of overcoming these experiences we gain more strength and learn how to be tough, be strong, and plow through.

However, a lot of us still have fear to take the next step in life that is needed to go in the direction that we truly want to go in. This does not involve the type of strength that appears suddenly when hit with crisis. Most of us don’t take the steps necessary to go for our dreams because we think we are not going to be strong enough to take on what it involves to go there. Or we are afraid of failure? Or success? What if? Attached to outcomes…we all want things to turn out exactly the way we see them…but what if they don’t? Do we have the strength to handle that outcome? Do we have the strength to make it through if it is harder than we thought? What if people around me think I am crazy? What if my spouse doesn’t like me anymore because I am doing things differently? What if I can’t pay my bills? What if I take time away from taking care of everyone else? What if I appear selfish? Am I being selfish?

First of all, stop and think of all of the things that will be positive about the changes you will make. Write them down. What if it does create everything you have always wanted? What if your journey takes you in a different direction than anticipated, yet it is still better than where you are now. What if your new experiences create such positive energy and excitement despite the difficulties that come with change? What if you find that you are an even more incredible person than you ever thought you were capable of becoming? What if you do have the strength to handle anything that comes your way? What if people turned around after you started your journey and noticed how incredible your life is becoming because you took a risk, believed in yourself, and no matter what, the process made you stronger, created positive change and now your friends and family are coming to you for advice on how to improve their lives? YEAH??? Well, I can tell you that most likely the positive things that I just mentioned will occur. Now are you scared? If you only knew what you truly are capable of…you would never fear again.

PERIMENOPAUSE! YAY!

I want to share with you my favorite new book!

The Secret Pleasures of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup.

I have suffered from major PMS symptoms for years. It got worse after having my third baby. To help my symptoms subside, doctors suggested birth control (which I don’t need cause one of us is “fixed”) and for my mood swings…which I swear I never have LOL…wink wink, Prozac was suggested for a quick fix!

I have no desire to be on hormones or anti depressants so I decided to just deal with my monthly “icks”! Now that I am in my 40’s, I have to say, it has been getting a bit more difficult because I am in the perimenopause stage and other crazy things are starting to occur.

Last Spring I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Northrup’s AMAZING daughter Kate at a Hay House workshop in Boston. I was invited to join she and her friends for lunch during the break. It was interesting, out of all the people attending this workshop, that I would meet Kate. My best friend, Lori, had been begging me to read Dr. Northrup’s books for years, and I never had. It was if there were angels above saying “you ask for help and you shall receive”. Here she is! After explaining, to Kate, my crazy struggle with trying to find a doctor who could help me deal with my symptoms naturally, she suggested that I read her mom’s book.

It has taken me quite a while to read her book…because I have very little downtime to read …however it is SO WORTH IT! I have a whole new outlook on what I am going through! The great thing is – it is NOT A NEGATIVE ONE!

After reading her book, I am embracing the change, feeling blessed to be at this point in my life, and realizing that a lot of the “ickiness” can be alleviated naturally. Already I am feeling better. You have to read it for yourself to understand. Menopause may entail some uncomfortable physical feelings that come and go…yet it is so worth it when you realize what this time of our lives is really all about!

The Secret Pleasures of Menopause is a groundbreaking book that is long overdue! Christiane Northrup, M.D., delivers a breakthrough message that will help millions and millions of perimenopausal and menopausal women just like you understand that at menopause . . . life has just begun! It is the beginning of a very exciting and fulfilling time, full of pleasure beyond your wildest dreams!

By Rob Fowler

One leg at a time

One of the questions that anyone who works with celebrities hears is, “What’s he or she really like?” As a celebrity make up artist one of the most frequent requests for dirt I got was, “What do they look like without their make up?” I can tell you for the most part everyone I worked with was nice, or at the very least, they were all professionals. On the fact or fiction behind America’s fab faces, they were all beautiful. The reality behind my experiences with celebs was that we were there because we had a job to do.

Whether they were there to make a TV or live appearance or we were on the set of a photo shoot, I gave them room to study their lines or get emotionally settled before going on. They in turn let me do my job, putting on their faces and getting them camera ready. Sorry gang, no tell all here, quite the contrary…

Inevitably, once the vast number of celebs got comfy in my make up chair, they did want to chat but not about a tawdry behind-the-scenes affair with their co-star or how the caviar was at Cannes this year. Nope, most stars wanted to talk about their kids. They wanted to talk about whatever they were involved in outside of work that they were truly passionate about. More than anything though they talked about how hard it was to keep it all together every day while they juggled kids, work, fashion, and passion. The more we talked the more I realized they are just like you and I. For some reason, whether it’s warranted or not, we hold celebrities to a higher standard. We put them up on a pedestal that is both making life more difficult on them to maintain, and on us to attain. The reality is, whether they do it themselves, or their personal assistant does it for them, celebrities put their pants on just like you and I, ‘one leg at a time’!