Friday, September 23, 2011

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson. A celebrity. Don't really know much about her. She can sing. Beautiful voice. So yesterday afternoon I saw her perform on the Ellen show. She was wearing a beautifully designed spandex dress. I hesitate to use the word spandex because it conjures up tacky hooker images for most people, and that is definitely NOT the look Kelly Clarkson had. There are those who would look at her and call her fat. Fat. That word... It's usually used in a negative context. Which made me ponder, is it ever used as a positive? I then thought of the word "phat". It sounds the same and is used as a positive descriptor. Interesting.

So anyway, I was watching her, her body language, how she projects, how at ease she seemed in her body... so confident. Small breasts. Wide, full, curving hips. Far wider than is allowed in our culture. A feminine, round belly curving just beneath her naval. A slight pooch at the top of her thighs when she turned in a certain direction. Her arms and her skin had that wonderful, creamy, soft, non-sculpted look. All the things our broader, white culture hates. All the things our broader white culture seeks to eliminate.

I sat there looking at her and I saw just how beautiful she was/is. And for me, much of her beauty emanated from her confidence. I mean, here she is a big celebrity... on stage... on Ellen, for Christ's sake! I mean how many viewers does she have?? And did Kelly Clarkson choose a dress that carefully and creatively camouflaged her "fat"? No, she did not. In fact, what was most beautiful to me was that she chose a dress that accented all those features. It was like, "F** YOU, larger white culture that hates women! This is me! This is who and how I am, and I choose to stand in the beauty of who and how I am!"

WOW. In my opinion, Kelly Clarkson clanks when she walks. Big, brass balls.

As I watched her I thought, I wouldn't have the nerve. I would be so worried about how I looked, and how fat television makes a woman look, and how all the magazines would say ugly things about my body, and on and on my brain would assault me. So, GOOD FOR YOU, KELLY! You are a wonderful, beautiful, and rare role model for the rest of us real women out here! There it is, Ladies! BE WHO AND HOW YOU ARE, WITH YOU HEAD HELD HIGH AND A PROUD, GENUINE SMILE ON YOUR FACE!

Thank you, Kelly Clarkson!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


My mom has cancer. Leukemia, to be specific. She is 81. I struggle with what to write... but I want to write something. I am at a loss for words... which if you know me, is new for me. I am flying down to visit her next week. One thing that has come of this is we are more connected than we were. I talk to her more often in real and intimate ways.

The obligatory 'call your mother' stuff is gone from my brain. I'm lucky. Even with all the dysfunction in my family history, I can still say that if my mother were not my mother, and I met her on the street, I would dig her. I would hang out with her. She's cool. I also remember her that way as a child. The good memories are of her full belly laughs, her high pitched cackles, her open-minded thinking, and her passionate, creative energy.

These positive qualities are just a few of the ways I am gifted by knowing her. Can I tell you some shitty stories? Sure. Do I have any f**ked up memories? Yeah. And, I am exceedingly grateful to add that I have a multitude of memories that bring a smile to my face, many that make me laugh out loud, and she has a great many positive character traits that I have been impacted by.

When my dad died, I spoke at his memorial service. I said out loud that my dad was not a great husband to my mother, and not a great dad in many ways. Yes, I said it. Out loud... at a podium on a stage up in front of family and friends. And I said, " And I loved him anyway. My father wasn't a saint. I didn't need him to be". That last sentence was really important for me. Still is.

There was a man, probably my father's only true friend, who spoke about him being a 'good christian', blah, blah, blah. Which was total words-you-say-at-an-american-funeral bullshit. My dad was not churchy and did not use 'christian speak', go to church even. Was he moral? Yes. That's how he would have described himself. He liked that word, moral. But his friend did not speak about the man I knew.

I have many good memories of both my parents. My father was sweet and loving to me. I know to the core of my being that he loved me with his whole heart. My mother too. Neither one of them were perfect and as far as parenting skills go, there was a lot to be desired. But what's gratefully true for me today is that I don't need them to be anything more than the humans they are/were. I can love them wholly and completely. What freedom there is in this truth! What joy and peace it gives me. I am feeling much gratitude for that today.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ceremony and Ritual

Two friends have asked me to officiate their wedding ceremonies in October. I am honored... and surprised, if I am honest. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be doing that, I wouldn't have believed it. I mean, not that it's unbelievable, but I just hadn't considered it. I love ritual, though. It is a very powerful thing. It is also a creative outlet for me. To create a ritual or ceremony that is custom designed for a person's specific need or rite of passage is beautiful and transformative. It is a great passion of mine to sit with a person and explore what is meaningful to them, what questions drive their lives, and design something for them that is uniquely their own.

Before I married my present and second husband, I did a great deal of soul searching. I was absolutely clear that this marriage must be something new, something quite unlike what I had believed and experienced marriage to be prior to that. I also knew that in this new marriage, I must put myself first. Sounds selfish, doesn't it? ...At least to our larger, traditional culture. But it is my truth that all love, caring, connection, respect, support, and nurture comes from within. It is a direct result of how I love, care, connect with, respect, and nurture myself.

So, I set about designing a ceremony where I married myself first, and promised to never leave me. I created the words I wanted spoken, chose the readings I wanted read, and the design of the ritual which was a Native American Medicine Wheel. I even chose a totem or symbol to remind me of my commitment to myself. It was a ring, the symbol of a circle with no beginning and no end. This ring goes on my finger before my wedding ring from my husband. That part is very important to me. In retrospect, I believe many of my friends didn't really understand what I was doing or what it meant. I think they thought it strange. But I knew what it meant, and that's what mattered. I wanted them there as family and as witnesses.

As a result, the wedding ceremony to my husband, Michael, felt true and free... an accurate and authentic fit for me and who I have become. And it was fun. Imagine that. Fun and playful. In fact, the wedding march was trumpeted in with white Kazoos, the best on the market. I did my research. The recessional was the song Mrs. Robinson, by Simon & Garfunkle, from the movie The Graduate. My husband is 17 years younger than I, and that little detail was a bit of a hurdle for me.

My father had died some years earlier, so I asked my handsome and fabulously-funny-best-girlfriend, Matthew, if he would give me away. To which he replied with a devilish grin, "Oh Honey, I've been wantin' to give you away for a long time!" Walking across that beautiful meadow to our circle of friends, with Matthew on my arm and me in my 'fire engine red' gown, was perfectly joyous.  Michael and I had co-created the perfect ceremony for us. It was a Celtic Hand-fasting with words that were true fit.

Life is constant change and transition. Who we were is not who we will be in a decade. What we hold dear and feel passionate about changes as we gain wisdom of experience. I believe stress is really fear of the constant change that we experience as humans. Having a tangible experience, a ritual or ceremony to mark those transitions, helps us move through those changes with beauty, power, and grace.

Friday, September 16, 2011


It's late. I'm sleepy. And, I want to post something before I thank my comfortable bed and crawl in between the sheets for the night. Tonight I am grateful. I am very aware of how abundantly full of friends my life is. Not just acquaintances, but I have a great many of those as well. No, I'm talking about true friends. People who really show up in my life. People who love and support me, and genuinely care about my well-being. I am extremely rich in that area. For this, I am exceedingly grateful. My life is full of joy because of these friends. Tonight I spent time with some of them. They showed up for Michael and I in a positive and supportive way. It's a good feeling when that happens... a really good feeling. So now I sleepily lay my grateful and smiling body down for the night, well aware of just how rich I truly am. Aaahhhhhhhhh..... Sweet dreams.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Her words were the dawn that clears the fog in my mind. I knew then what I needed to do...

For most women, fear of success is really fear of added responsibility.

With success comes new responsibility, and if I am not skilled at setting boundaries around my personal time and energy, then that added responsibility brings more stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Most women are very frugal when giving time and energy to themselves, but give freely and abundantly to others.

Because of my own personal childhood wounding, I fear taking up too much space, time, etc. I carry an inner message that says I'm an intrusion. Years ago, a friend pointed out to me just how often I apologized. In those days I was apologizing for my very existence.
In circle I've seen women do the dance of, "You go ahead."  "Oh no, that's okay, you go. I'll wait." Back and forth they dance, afraid to take up time and space.

So here it is; when a woman is willing to take up time and space, to set healthy boundaries around her own personal time, her wise self sees it. When her wise self sees this and knows that she has learned how to set these boundaries for herself, then she will attract all the success she can handle. The key being, "all she can handle".

This is the boundary setting I am working. I realized I was not having the kind of success I wanted with a dream/vision of mine. As I looked within, I saw that I do not set the boundaries for myself that I need to. One of the results is that I don't allow myself to be vulnerable in the ways that I would like, in the areas that I would like. It is a protective response. As I learn how to gain balance in this area, I can let go of the fear of being vulnerable because my wise self will trust that I know how to, and will, take care of myself and nurture myself in the ways I need.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Okay, so I was reading a book by one of my favorite people, Cheryl Richardson, called The Art of Extreme Self Care. Great book. I highly recommend it. I was reading the acknowledgments at the back of the book, looking for names I am familiar with and what she thanked these many people for. There was a long list. It was obvious that the list started with those people farthest from her 'home nucleus', if you will, and ended with those closest to her heart and most influential. It got me to thinking... who would be on my list?

Cheryl's list was obviously people she knew she could count on, depend on in a state of need. These were people she had accepted help from or allowed them to help her. This got me to thinking that at the top of my list, I would acknowledge me. And it's kind of funny to me that since her book is about extreme self care, that she didn't acknowledge herself. I mean, think about it, there can be (and probably are) a myriad of people in our lives who would be happy to help us, give to us, do for us, but if I am not willing to ask for that help and receive it then it does me no good at all. For many of us, myself included, it is no small feat to ask for and then receive help. In fact, it occurred to me that with the person I present, most of my people probably don't even know when I am in need.

I present a person who is confident, strong, competent, wise, and efficient at what I do. The person I present doesn't need help. To ask for help and receive it means I put myself in a vulnerable place. As I walked, I asked myself, "Who do I depend on? Who do I call when I am in need? Who do I call when I feel vulnerable and need someone to lean on, to see me, really see me?" I came up with three people. 2 women and my husband.

Now I gotta tell you, that really surprised me. I have  dozens and dozens of wonderful women in my life. Women I have no doubt would be there for me. Women I could depend on. It's not them... it's me. I'm not saying 3 is a low number. I'm sure there are many people who would love to know they had three people they can count on. What I'm saying is that it was an opportunity to take a look at myself. And what I found in that examination was that I build an invisible wall of "I can do it all by myself". What I found was there is a part of me that is afraid to allow others to see me as vulnerable, as needy, and it has a profound impact on my life. I looked in that mirror and saw a woman who talks to other women about asking for and receiving help, but doesn't see the need to examine that within her own life.

Right then and there I decided to make some changes. I didn't yet know what they were, but I knew I had a new willingness. That was 4 days ago. Since then, I have talked with two of those people I depend on. I got some excellent feedback, and I have taken action. It is clear my own work at present is about honing my skills around setting boundaries... setting boundaries around my personal time and space. It is about saying yes when I mean yes, and no when I mean no. It is ultimately about giving to myself to build up a reserve of energy and nurture. It may be difficult for you reading this to see the connect right now, but it's crystal clear to me. And I'll write more on that later.  :-)

Monday, September 12, 2011

I've been giving myself the pleasure of walking. I say it that way because I've noticed something about my walks. I've noticed that often I shower before I walk. Which at first I thought was strange, because most people shower after they 'work out'. But that's just it. I realized my walks are for pleasure. For 14 years (in the 90's), I was a fitness instructor and personal trainer. I was a fitness freak. Used to be a walk was for burning calories, fat, etc. Any kind of exercise had a fitness purpose and I was strict about it. Then I realized for a while that walking for me, although not about burning calories anymore, was about "being productive". If I was going for a walk then I had to walk the dogs. If I wasn't walking the dogs, then I had to take my cell phone and return calls while walking. Not anymore. Today, I walk for pleasure. Today, my walk is for me. No dogs. No cell phone. Just me and my quiet time. And another thing... I don't walk. I stroll. Leisurely and gloriously, enjoying the air and the smells. The other day I even walked in the rain. It was a soft rain, and the newly wet asphalt had that hot summer then freshly rained on smell. I wore a ball cap so my glasses were dry, and I strolled in the rain. When I returned home, my husband asked, "So how was your walk?". "I really enjoyed it!", I replied. I was a little surprised, to be honest. But I did enjoy it. Nowadays I take a leisurely stroll just for me, because it feels good.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today I am feeling vulnerable, as I would imagine many people are. Michael and I have been watching 9/11 programs all day yesterday and this morning. I feel vulnerable for many reasons. One is that these images bring tears, admiration, sadness, and all manner of emotion. These emotions make me feel exposed and vulnerable. But I don't feel weak in that exposure. I feel human. Such tender beauty in the stories. Such honor and heroism.

I am also feeling vulnerable about some new revelations in my personal life. I am also feeling courage about new choices and changes I am making. Today, I am meeting a friend for lunch. She said, "I am taking care of you today." She offered coffee or lunch or whatever I wanted. I asked for lunch. It was a big deal to ask for and allow myself to receive it. Today I'm learning how to say yes when I mean yes, and no when I mean no, and developing the fine art of building healthy boundaries around my personal time. I'll keep you all posted on how that particular stretch is working out for me. If you have any input on the subject, I would LOVE to hear it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New To Me

So much talk about blogging. Thought I would try it. Feelin' very awkward and vulnerable here. Still... it's kinda fun. Little steps at a time. We'll see how this works.

Okay, like for example, how do I figure out which fonts to use where? Many are cool but difficult to read. So do I give up the creative and go with the boring??