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Archive for the ‘Uplifting Words of Wisdom’ Category

Because I am moving in a few short weeks, I’ve been spending some of my free time (actually, most of my time – what do you expect – I don’t have a job?!) going through all of my belongings deciding what stays, what goes, and what becomes one with the landfill (or recycling plant for all my “green” friends out there). I often tear out magazine and newspaper articles that I come across and want to read but just don’t have the time to focus on at the moment. I tear them out, throw out (recycle!) the remainder magazines and/or newspapers, and store the clippings in safe keeping for a future read-a-thon. During my read-a-thons, I fish out the folder(s) full of all my “save for later” articles and begin reading – my mind clear and ready to absorb the information – so I can eventually recycle those articles as well and replenish my “save for later” folder with new and up-do-date information. This past Saturday night, I turned off the T.V, grabbed some jelly beans (okay, so they aren’t really necessary for the read-a-thon, but they make it that much better in the end), cleaned off my glasses, and prepared myself for an all night article fest.

I scoured numerous articles I had saved on politics, health issues, fitness, etc., and I learned how to adequately care for sweaters, remove red wine stains, and perform a proper standing lunge. Yes, all very useful information, but the one article I came across that really resonated with me and made me feel inspired and uplifted was entitled “Habits of Happy Women” that I tore out of a past issue of SELF magazine. This article encourages readers to “find a serene spot, pull out a pen, and list your never-fail pleasures, no matter how goofy or self-indulgent they sound,” because, sometimes, happiness is hard to get a hold of and we all need a few guaranteed tactics to make us feel better and feel happier when times are rough. So, I suggest we all listen to SELF and start jotting down and acting upon the fool-proof ways that individually lift our spirits. Or, take the advice of the women interviewed in the article (I listed out 10 of the top suggestions) and try out their happy habits (or similar ones!) to see if they work for you. I also added one of my own and hope you will add your favorite as well to share with all of the blog readers. Now,read on, start writing, and get ready to start smiling! 🙂

Photograph something every day:

“Four years ago, I started carting my camera everywhere and taking one photo a day. Sure, I have a lot of pictures of flowers or strangers in the laundry room of my apartment building, but I also have snapshots of my sister’s baby, friends’ weddings, sailing in St. Vincent and people who have come in and out of my life that I would have forgotten if I hadn’t captured them on film. When I sit down and look through my albums – another ritual in and of itself – I realize that even though I complain about my life at times, there are many reasons to be happy.”

Connect with your crew:

“The spring after my father died, I felt the need to strengthen my bonds with friends. So I organized a ‘Women I Love’ lunch as a way to boost my spirits. I invited all my friends over, we ate takeout, and one by one, I stood behind each woman and explained why I loved her. At the end of the afternoon, my friends all said, ‘You have to do this next year!’ and an annual tradition was born.”

Rock out:

“Whenever I need a lift, I get in the car, turn up my radio and sing at the top of my lungs. I may look foolish to the people in the next lane, but I’ll never see them again, so who cares?”

Be Hallmark happy:

“I love browsing in stationery stores. Typically, I’ll buy 10 or 15 funny cards all at once, stamp them, then toss them in my purse. That way, when I have a minute here or there – standing in line, waiting at the doctor – I’ll write a ‘thinking of you’ note to a friend and send it off. It gives me a good feeling knowing that they’ll have a pleasant surprise waiting for them in their mailbox.”

Enjoy a creative moment:

“When I was in Venice, I bought a leather journal that I now carry with me everywhere.l When I need an escape or just want to record a beautiful scene, I fill the pages with words or drawings. I love looking back and reflecting on what I’ve seen and heard. It keeps me linked to places I care about.”

Write a chain letter:

“After college, six of my best friends and I started a circle letter. The first person on the list writes a letter and sends it to the next person in the chain; she then adds her own letter and a treasure or two, and sends everything to the third, and so on. When it’s my turn, I put all my responsibilities on hold, curl up on the couch and sift through the photos, letters and clippings. It’s one of my favorite ways to reconnect.”

Get out the Kleenex:

“A couple of times a year I watch really sad movies, like When a Man Loves a Woman, by myself. I start crying, then I remember that this isn’t my real life and I feel better! It’s sort of reverse psychology.”

Eat like a queen:

“When I was growing up, my family had a tradition of marking our accomplishments by having the person of the hour eat off a red plate. So when I got engaged, my parents gave my fiance and me our own red plate. It reminds me how easy it is to make someone feel special. We use it to acknowledge things like finishing our taxes or getting a raise. When our puppy graduated from obedience school, he even got to eat off the red plate!”

Do something girly:

“Getting my nails done always turns my bad moods around. I usually manage to visit the salon once a week, which makes me feel in control of my otherwise hectic life. The flip side is that if my nails look scraggly, I know I need to slow down.”

Take the plunge:

“I live close to the ocean, so when I return home from work in the evenings, I like to walk by the beach, regardless of the season. If the temperature allows, I take a swim and ride some waves. When no one’s around, I may even skinny-dip. Being in the surf always makes the world melt away.”

My own fool-proof way to lift my spirits:

“I climb into some comfy clothes, turn off my phone, pop some popcorn or scoop out some ice-cream, sprawl out on the couch and watch an hour of hilarious Will and Grace, Friends, or The Office reruns. I push my ‘To-Do’ list out of sight and push anxiety and worry out of mind and, instead, zone in on the hilarious hi-jinks of Jack and Karen, Chandler and Joey, or Jim and Dwight. No matter how blue I am, I can’t help but laugh at a good joke :)”

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I recently began reading Too Soon to Say Goodbye – the last book Pulitzer Prize winning humorist and columnist, Art Buchwald, wrote shortly before he passed away. Buchwald, known as the “Whit of Washington,”spent 4 decades chronicling and satirizing the Washington political scene, and, at one time, his syndicated column appeared in more than 500 newspapers worldwide. At age 80, Buchwald had part of his leg and foot amputated due to blood clots and learned his already failing kidneys were totally failing. He began extensive and lengthy kidney dialysis, but after trying dialysis 12 times, he decided to throw in the towel. He no longer saw “a future in this” and didn’t “want to do it anymore!” Stopping the dialysis was, in a sense, signing his own death certificate, but in February 2006, Buchwald proceeded with checking himself into a hospice with the offshoot chance he would survive for about three weeks.

His three planned weeks turned into 5 unplanned months and “the man who wouldn’t die” was able to coin his last book and move back home to die on his “own terms.” Too Soon to Say Goodbye gives us an intimate look into Buchwald’s life and allows us to experience his hospice care and impending death with grace, dignity, and humility. I am only a few chapters in, but I can already tell what a special, inspirational person Art Buchwald is from just reading the first chapter. While essentially waiting to die, Buchwald still says of hospice care: “In case you’re wondering, I’m having a swell time – the best time of my life.” Buchwald is able to face death with joy and humor, and he reminds all of us to live life to the fullest and be grateful for every day we have. I hope his words will help to put your life in perspective and encourage you to find the humor in even the worst of situations. I’ve always believed that no matter how sad or bad you feel – if you can laugh – you will make it. I am so pleased to discover that real-life hero, Art Buchwald, feels the same way. 🙂

First chapter from Too Soon to Say Goodbye – entitled On Standby for Heaven:

“I am in a hospice and I have this recurring dream. I am at Dulles airport and I have a reservation to go to heaven. I go into the terminal and look at the list of flights. Heaven is at the last gate.

I don’t know if they have reading material on the plane, so I stop at the magazine stand and pick up “Vanity Fair,” “The New Yorker,” and “Playboy.” I also buy a package of gum and some M&M’s. Then I head toward security.

I have bought my ticket, which says, “When you go to heaven, you need only one bag, but do not include a cigarette lighter or sharp scissors.” I stand in line for hours. I didn’t realize how many people were on the same flights.

I run into several friends, and I am surprised to see them. They hadn’t mentioned they were going too. In my dream several of them are younger than I am, and I know two who were smokers.

I finally get to the security gate, holding on to my bag for dear life.

The agent says, “You don’t have to bring your computer with you. They have them up there.”

“I say to the agent, “I want to hold on to my bag because I don’t want you people to lose it.”

Then they make me take off my jacket, my belt, and my shoes.

When I ask why, the agent says, “You don’t want to wear shoes in heaven. They scratch up the floor.”

They send me through another gate because I have a pacemaker. Then they make me stick out my arms and they scan my legs with a wand.

I finally get to the departure gate. Dulles is crowded. In my dream, there are no seats in the waiting area, so I got to Starbucks to kill time. I am not sure if you get lunch on the plane to heaven. For all I know, they give you a bagel and cream cheese and a soft drink. I am warned by an attendant that I can’t get ouf of my seat on the flight.

This is kind of silly, because who would hijack a plane to heaven?

It’s open seating on the plane. I know heaven is a wonderful place, but on the way there you have to sit three across. As with all flights, there are emergency exits in case the pilot changes his mind. There are also life jackets under each seat. In my dream the flight attendants are very beautiful, and they hand out blankets and pillows.

I enter the waiting area. The loudspeaker says, “Heaven is at the last gate. There will be intermediate stops in Dallas, Chicago, and Albuquerque. The plane has just arrived.”

I go up to the desk and ask, “Am I entitled to frequent flyer miles?”

The agent says, “You won’t need any, because you’re not coming back.”

Now, this is the part I love. (Remember, this is my dream.) The loudspeaker says, “Because of inclement weather, today’s flight to heaven has been canceled. You can come back tomorrow and we’ll put you on standby.”

Art Buchwald: 1925 - 2007

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We are constantly moving, looking, planning, doing, wondering; in the midst of one activity, we are thinking about the next one. Our brains and bodies are eternally at work, and it can sometimes seem impossible to try and focus on only one thing at a time. For example, right now, my primary focus is on this blog post, but in the back of my mind, I’m wondering what I should eat for breakfast (okay, maybe that one is in the forefront of my mind…), what time I should go to the gym, and which clothes I need to take to the dry cleaners. I’m also simultaneously on Facebook, Gmail, and WSJ online.

You know, women are excellent multi-taskers – we can talk on the phone, watch T.V., peruse the internet, and flawlessly apply lipstick all at the same time. Just the other day, I had a rag in one hand in an effort to finally win the war against the effervescent dust bunnies occupying my space, my cell phone in the other hand so that I could catch all the gossip about my girlfriend’s blind date, and my eyes were intently focused on the T.V. watching Pauly D and “The Situation” “creep” on some girls Jersey Shore style. These days, multitasking is synonymous with action – if you want to get it all done, you have to do at least three things at once.

Because we have high hopes and expectations for ourselves, we work as hard as we can to basically just “get it all done,” and we drive ourselves crazy doing it. We wear ourselves out trying to be attentive mothers,  star employees, 5 star family cooks, holiday hostesses, selfless volunteers, fun friends, loving sisters, caring daughters, spic-and-span maids, etc. etc. We all need to pause for a moment and remember –  we aren’t machines – sometimes, we just can’t do it all. As my mom says, “we can’t always be everything to everyone,” but we sure do try don’t we?

It really is okay to say no, to put some of our dreams on the back-burner for the time being, and to ask for help when needed; and it’s definitely okay to not be the best at everything you do. Slow your roll and think about what’s really important. I’m sure your child’s bake sale will benefit from brownies in a box just as much as homemade brownies, and I guarantee your boss doesn’t care that much if you used the same word two or three times in a report. We are constantly assuring friends, relatives, and co-workers that “nobody’s perfect.” Well if nobody’s perfect, what makes you think you can be?

This post is inspired by Mika Brzezinski who was courageous enough to share a valuable life lesson she learned about slowing down and re-prioritizing when she caused her 14 week-old baby girl to break her leg. At the time of her daughter’s accident, Brzezinski had been surviving on a two to three hour power nap per day while trying to be a devoted wife, a perfect mother to her toddler and newborn, AND an on-top-of it, vivacious overnight anchor for CBS News. One day, she was hectically running around her house (described by Brzezinski as “zipping around like a wild windup toy”) with her newborn, Carlie, on her hip when she missed the top step and tumbled down the stairs with Carlie pinned under her. Carlie was fortunate enough to only end up with a broken leg, but she remained in a body-cast for eight weeks following the incident. Brzezinski felt so guilty that her mile-a-minute lifestyle caused her daughter’s accident, and she began to realize how her desire to “do it all” was wrecking havoc on all aspects of her life. She soon discovered that she was a human and she had limits. It took her daughter’s near-death experience to realize that in the end, “failure can save your life.”

I strongly suggest reading Brezezinski’s entire article so you can cultivate your own perspective, but the last paragraph really sums up the importance of her story and the reason Brezezinski feels so compared to share. I hope you will glean some wisdom from her inspirational words. And remember, it’s okay to fail. Sometimes unintended failure can result in the most unintended of successes.

“I’ve shared this story with you not because it’s my proudest moment, but because I want to remind women that perfection is a myth. As my girls move toward adulthood, the most important lesson I can pass on is: Pace yourself. It’s what all these years of running and gunning and accomplishing have taught me. It’s not about slowing down but strategizing for the long haul. Pull back when your gut says you should. In retrospect, my biggest failures always seemed to find me when I was trying to do too much too soon. But that’s OK; sometimes the only way to get it right is to get it wrong first.”

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Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day in the southeast. The streets of my Atlanta neighborhood were dotted with bundles of red, yellow, and orange infused trees, and the air was crisp, warm, and fresh. It was as if November had switched places with September – granting us one last chance to relish in the fall weather before Jack Frost’s impending arrival.

My friend Brittany (“Red Britt” as her friends fondly call her – with shiny, red locks to envy – the color of a ripe Braeburn apple) and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful Sunday weather and embark on a walk through the quaint Virginia Highlands neighborhood. Whether walking alone or walking with a companion, I always find that a good, brisk walk clears my mind and cleans the slate for new, thought-provoking ideas to emerge. The outdoors provides such an abundance of inspiration – you just have to ensure your mind is open to it. Red Britt and I were walking and talking in true power-walk fashion, casually discussing our weekend activities and upcoming plans. Somehow (sometimes, the best inspiration comes when you least expect it – when it just creeps up and overtakes you without you even realizing it), the conversation turned to self-esteem and confidence, and how so many beautiful women, on the inside and out, suffer from a lack of confidence in one way or the other. Some women lack confidence in their looks, others lack confidence in their abilities to succeed and perform in life, others lack confidence in their intelligence, and the list goes on and on. It’s so disappointing that so many of us smart, beautiful, successful women never seem to feel good enough – we could climb to the top of Mount Everest and still feel like we should have done more, that we should have mounted some invisible peak in the distance.

As Red Britt and I continued to pump our arms and discuss these issues that plague both of us and most of the women in our lives, I thought back to an interview with Crystal Renn that I had read on Time.com a few weeks ago. Renn is the highest-paid plus-size supermodel in the world (you go girl!) and has recently released a book entitled Hungry about her struggles to fit into a size zero industry and the conscious decision she made one day to quit starving herself for her art. As she says in the interview with Time, “When I had the eating disorder, I never lost my love for food. I just told myself that if I wanted to be a model, I would have to stop [doing] one of my favorite things. I remember having my epiphany moment and making the decision to eat again. It was pretty amazing.” The idea that really stuck out to me in this statement is that Renn had to make a decision – a conscious decision – to stop giving into her destructive patterns in order to overcome her self-loathing and lack of confidence. Regardless of whether you measure your self-worth by your weight, your beauty, your intelligence, etc., we all have a choice – we individually get to decide if we will let our issues overtake us or if we will stand up and prove that we are more than a number on the scale, more than our G.P.A, more than a stereotype. Confidence is hard word, and it can take a lot of time to gain, but in the end, what is worth more than self-love? What is worth more than looking in the mirror and loving the person staring back at you? Mine and Crystal Renn’s answer??? Absolutely nothing.

I hope all of you make the conscious decision to accept who you are and to love what you see in the mirror. And be sure to tell those women in your life how special they are – inspirational words and votes of confidence last longer than any material gift you could ever give. Let’s uplift each other, one message, one smile, one compliment at a time.

Read more from Crystal Renn’s interview.

Self Love Fortune

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I like how I feel afterward, but to be honest, I really don’t like working out that much. It is something I usually dread, but I try and go a few (“few” being the operative word) times a week, because it is so good for the mind and body, and I feel energetic and optimistic after I’ve completed a good workout.

The only way for me to get through 30 minutes of cardio is to listen to music or read a magazine. Last week, I chose the former and brought the October 2009 issue of SELF magazine to occupy my time on the stationary bike. Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell, and Malin Akerman, all starring in Couples Retreat, were the featured “cover girls.” In the article accompanying the cover, each star revealed how her friends, family, and a positive outlook helped her stay beautiful from the inside out. All three women revealed various aspects of their lives that have influenced their positive outlooks, but Malin Akerman’s responses were exceptionally uplifting. I was inspired and impressed with her words and sentiments and want to share them with you. The words are taken directly from SELF with my favorite parts bolded 🙂 Thanks for your candid and eloquent words Malin!

Malin Akerman, who was born in Sweden and raised in Canada – she speaks four languages – credits her father for teaching her the secret of radiance. “My dad taught me that if you ever want to be beautiful, feel beautiful or make other people feel beautiful, a positive attitude is the best way to go,” says the 31 year-old actress, who starred in Watchmen earlier this year. “It’s a constant search for your own confidence, and finding that in yourself is the most important thing.”

“I’m a huge fan of flaws. I love people who have a crooked smile. Cool and different noses always attract me. My feet are so wide, I have to get special shoes. And I have thin hair with cowlicks in the front that go all sorts of ways. And I have a boyish body. Quirkiness gives people character and charisma. I don’t think it’s beautiful when everyone starts looking like a Barbie doll. I’m a lover of natural individuality.

“Taking care of yourself is important, even if you just give yourself an hour on the weekend to find quiet, to find serenity. Whether it’s psychological or physical, it feels great, and you look more beautiful.”

Give a person a compliment. If you see a beautiful woman, tell her! Say, ‘You look beautiful tonight!’ It’s incredible coming from another woman. Then you feel good because you’ve made someone else feel good. I don’t know why there’s this competition among women. Why tear each other down when we can be supporting each other and wanting each and every one of us to be our best? I wish women could just cut it out and feel like we have each other’s back instead. It would be such an amazing world.”

“I feel really good when I’m in nature. We live by a huge canyon in L.A., so I usually go for a long walk with my Walkman. (My Walkman? Oh, my God, I’m giving away my age!) But to listen to great music, grab a fresh-squeezed juice and do some stretching? All that stuff feels good, and you exude beauty when you feel great on the inside.

Malin Akerman

October 2009 SELF Magazine

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