The Healing Power of Lingerie

I have a deep fondness for beautiful lingerie. From the time I was a little girl, I found pleasure in just seeing silky carole-landis-negligee-and-peignoirslips, lacy bras and charming nightgowns.

My mother purchased flannel pajamas for the winter and knit gowns for the summer, but I always longed for the lacy and sleek gowns with matching robes. She’d tell me that those things weren’t practical, nor, were they comfortable. Lace itches and satin just doesn’t wear well, she would tell me.

Instead, I got every lacy or satiny outfit I could find for my Barbie.

I was twelve when my sister got married. Of course, there was wedding dresses and fancy dresses for showers and luncheons to be purchased. They also created a elaborate lingerie trousseau with silk nightgowns and lace nightgowns with matching delicate gossamer robes. Each lingerie set was paired with complimentary slippers.

I can still see the ivory negligee and peignoir Set: long silky gown with copper colored ribbons, chiffon ivory robe, and delicate copper-colored strappy slippers with kitten heels.

I couldn’t wait to get married one day so that I could finally  have beautiful and sexy lingerie!

I won’t dive into the details of how my bridal experience was in no way similar to my sister’s first wedding, but suffice to say there was no creation of a lingerie trousseau beyond a few things I received from a shower my coworkers threw for me….

Sexy nightgowns aside, I can’t talk about lingerie, though, without a frank conversation around bras.

Bra shopping was always a nightmare for me. By the time I was in the sixth grade, I was a healthy B cup and playtexbraswas a D cup by the time I began high school. Sangar Harris was the go-to place for bras in those days and I made do. When it became obvious I had a bit of a problem getting fit, I was taken to a shop downtown that did custom order bras.

My problem was a small rib-cage and large natural breasts; I was sized at a 28H.

I was excited for the experience of having a custom fit bra, until it arrived. This bra wasn’t lovely in any way. Talk about serviceable, it looked like a Playtex Cross Your Heart Bra from the 50’s.

Yes, the bra fit perfectly, but what young woman desires to wear a bra that looks like it should belong to her grandmother.

I began to believe that my life would always be about practicality. Sturdy bras and cotton panties. Serviceable nightgowns and flannel pajamas.

I‘d been married a year before I finally purchased a truly beautiful piece of lingerie. It was a white lace haltered gown with a pink satin underlay embroidered with tiny flowers. Of course, it had the coveted matching robe.

My husband thought it was a waste of money.

Discouraged, I window shopped in the lingerie departments of Foley’s and Dillard’s, but rarely purchased anything beyond packages of Hanes panties purchased at Walmart paired with dependable nude bras.

There was this one time that I was in Neiman Marcus and couldn’t resist an ice blue silk chemise with ivory lace trim. It was on clearance for $25, a bargain to feed my now secret obsession with beautiful lingerie. Of course, it hung in my closet…only worn when I was home alone.

Over time, I’d add some prettier bras into my wardrobe, but I didn’t own a bra that was exquisite until after my divorce.

I finally discovered the world of European bras, designed for larger breasted women with practicality and beauty both in mind.

To be honest, I went a little wild with lingerie after the divorce. Stunning bras in black lace with marvelous matching panties. A tantalizing white satin corset. A lush red velvet halter dress. And stockings. I found a love for provocative thigh high stockings with wide lace cuffs.

I had begun to make the connection that wearing delicious lingerie made me feel powerful. I felt pretty when I was wearing a beautiful bra and sexy when I wore stockings instead of pantyhose.

Sure, I loved enticing the men I was dating by wearing inviting lingerie. But I began to understand that I was choosing the lingerie not to turn them on. I was choosing lingerie that made me feel turned on to my mere existence.

Part of growing and healing all of our childhood wounds can be found in our ability to find our way around not just the big things, but the small little stories that pile upon each other and slowly shift how we come jacqueline by fantasieto see ourselves.

We get pigeonholed by folks; My sister was the pretty one and I was the smart one. And smart girls don’t look sexy and they sure don’t dress to entice. She got the pretty lingerie and the colorful bras and I got what was serviceable. As the smart girl, of course, my logic told me that because I was never as pretty as my sister, I didn’t deserve pretty things.

That theory, of course, was confirmed when I did finally treat myself to the kind of beautiful lingerie I had always dreamed about as a little girl, and was summarily was rejected by my husband when I wore it.

Merge that with my growing hate for my body and frustrations with the clothing industry. Any bra size above a DD cup is looked upon as freakish.

It’s hard to love yourself when you don’t love your body. Large breasts, while desirable in media, aren’t really desired in real life. I should be ashamed of my curves and my cleavage.

As a part of changing the ending of all those stories I told myself about being not pretty enough, undesirable, unwanted, or never sexy enough, I began shifting the dialogue one luxuriously beautiful bra at at time.

It wasn’t done in a conscious way, but I had stumbled upon the way to heal myself.

I think we humans are wired to heal our own wounds so that we can move forward as we age.

Who would have ever believed that the mere act of claiming my own desire to dress in beautiful and sexy things could help heal how I felt about myself and who I am in the world?

Two years ago, I set out to consciously change my dialogue around what I desired. I made the decision that it was time to have a full wardrobe of foundational garments, so I purchased eight bras and at least two pairs of panties for each of them.

Each bra was beautiful – red lace, pink and ivory lace, purple lace, and, of course, several black lace bras. The panties sussannahbyfantasiewere exquisite. Each bra was low cut and nothing my grandmother would choose.

I also began to make peace with my body and my size. Any sales person that tried to talk me into something more practical – or worse yet suggested I look at minimizer bras to make me look more “normal” was walked away from.

It takes a lot of courage to stand naked in a dressing room and walk away from “the expert” who is trying to get you to conform to a societal standard.

Most of the bras I purchased were lace bras with side supports created by the British Brand Fantasie. They were a 38G.

After the bras came nightgowns. Though I rarely sleep clothed, I still wanted satiny gowns and matching robes for lounging before bed and on weekend mornings.

All these years later, I’ve come full circle.

I went bra shopping on Tuesday with the sole purpose of leaving Nordstrom’s with a light colored TShirt bra. Thank goodness one of my favorite bra fitters was working, because it makes the process of looking for something specific so much less stressful.

After some trial and error, I left with a basic almost boring nude bra with a tiny nude and black polka dot bow.  It was a 36GG and by Elomi, Fantasie’s sister company.

Yes, it was a serviceable bra my mother would have chosen for me, however, I was happy about it for two reasons. One, I wasn’t dousing my desire for beautiful lingerie to wear next to my skin as I had a full wardrobe of gorgeous bras at home. Two, sometimes you just need something basic and practical.

It brought my bra count to 10 bras that fit me. There’s the Panache workout bra in a 34H. The new nude 36GG. A couple of older 36G’s. And the lovely lacy selections of 38Gs.

Though I still may have some work to do when it comes to how I feel about my body, I’ve come to understand that my yearnings for those delectable negligees and lacy underthings wasn’t weird or crazy. It was simply a piece of my inner landscape pulling me towards what I needed to feel at home in this place that holds my soul.

If you have a deep longing for something, it may be your soul’s way of calling you home. To You.

Photos: Old Hollywood from Archives, Vintage Playtex Ad, and Beautiful looks from Fantasie’s Fall 2015 line.

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The Weekly Round-Up

It’s been an intense week here for a lot of reasons. Don’t get me wrong and think that I’m complaining or calling it “bad”, it was a week full of multiple balls in the air for each of us. JB traveled back home on Saturday and it feels as if Coffee in The Netherlands, October 2014we barely had a weekend before it was full speed ahead into the week.

There was a management shift at his office recently, which has led to more meetings than normal and the new guy’s attitude that he must “fix everything – even if it isn’t broken”. That meant a mentally tired and sometimes frustrated JB at the end of the day and more than once, we were in bed before 8:30 rolled around.

As for my world, I blocked off writing and editing time almost every day last week. And not just “writing time” but appointments on my calendar for two hours on this project or two hours on that project. I made significant progress on each of my projects, but to be honest, I have created some mighty big deadlines for myself. Those deadlines have me feeling a little on edge and a little afraid and a lot empowered.

My What I’m Writing

I just wrapped a three-week series based on my personal history of keeping a journal: why keeping a journal is good, how I recovered from the betrayal of having my teenage journals not only read, but destroyed, and how to take care of yourself when you create new truths about yourself.  Though all of those pieces were written earlier in the month, I did a fairly heavy edit on this week’s piece, 10 Tips to Hasten Post Fire Recovery to the point that in some places, it felt as if I was writing it fresh again.

I got four drafts written this week. Two drafts for future articles for  YourTango, which I owe edits to my editor tomorrow.  One piece is about marriage and the other piece is about parenting a child with mental illness. The other  pieces – one about Being Busy (SO Busy) and another about being true to your own soul – are for my work blog.

I dusted off the outline for my memoir this week and begin laying out the structure of that book in Scrivener. I also create a draft of part of the forward.

I set a publication deadline for my other Work in Progress that’s a bit on the aggressive side, but logically makes a hell of a lot of sense. I spent most of my time organizing this, again in Scrivener. This project needs significant attention in the coming week.

What’s Happening with Work

One of the decisions I made in regards to my business in 2016 is to restructure how I offer my current courses.

ClearingBrainClutter_AdI am converting Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar to a fully downloadable, do-it-yourself course available beginning October 12, 2015, which means I need to get to editing, don’t I? Previously, I offered the material delivered via a weekly email.  Right now, I have all of the course material in Word just waiting to be combined and edited into one giant document.

Most of the courses in the 30 Days to Clarity family are also being moved from the email format to a downloadable workbook that can be purchased at any time. I committed to delivering the first version to current participants of the Fall courses as a bonus, so the first deadline is the Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desires to be delivered on September 8th. I have a rough version of the book completed and now it needs to be edited.

What I’m Reading

I’m still reading An Altar in the World, mostly in the mornings, though on occasion, I’ll read a bit from it before bed.  I go for a tiny dose each day, until I’m “full up”.

Fiction wise, I’m finishing NYPD Red 3. Taking the Master Class with James Patterson has shown me a whole ‘nother side of taking ideas and getting them in a publishable format, so to read what comes from that process always fascinates. Besides, Patterson and the writers he works with (Marshall Karp on this one) shows me how collaboration can be successful and a way to develop characters that are real.

This week, I skimmed Delicious!  I read it in June but refreshed my memory a bit before my book club meeting on Tuesday.

And last night, I finished reading A Vision in Velvet, pure cozy mind candy with lovable characters and little doses of humor. I enjoy Juliet Blackwell and am looking forward to her first “non-cozy” book coming in September, The Paris Key, which I’ve already pre-ordered.

What We’re Eating

I’m “off” cooking anything new, elaborate, or super involved right now, yet I’m desperately missing creating in the IMG_20150616_194211kitchen.  One of the simple facts of living is that I can’t do everything even when I want to, so I have to be honest with myself and admit that just to much of my creative energy being spent in the office that I just don’t have IT when dinnertime rolls around.

What that means is we’re having old standby meals that I ensure are healthy by choosing quality ingredients. Typical dinners this week have been oven roasted Wild Salmon or Wild Halibut served with grains and spinach, Dorothy Lane Market Salmon Patties on whole wheat buns with oven fries, or chicken sauteed in a pot with veggies – corn, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, spinach and onions.

I have to confess, though, that I’m hoping some new cookbooks come out this fall to inspire me to experiment.

What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

The new wave or Guru Preaching that routines mean you are doomed to be a boring individual. I love variety of life, but I know that taking the attitude of “just taking life as it comes” equals not “getting shit done”. Things like a healthy lifestyle, writing a book, creating change in your daily living all require solid and supportive routines. Yes, we gotta shake things up, but anyone that accomplishes true transformation does so with solid habits. Just sayin.

Because years of being a coach has shown me that most folks need help to establish new habits and they can’t create new ways of living, because frankly, how can you master anything if you don’t approach it with regularity and respect? That’s why I keep reminding myself that compassionate self-discipline is the key to really moving forward towards goals.   Yes, we need to shake things up and evaluate what’s not working, but to preach that the new gospel is no routines will make you happier just isn’t logical to me in any form.

Most people that transform their life do so through structure and a steadfast approach. They take small, but consistent action.

What happens when these glamorous and seemingly-have-it-all-together gurus preach this is that people believe that their answer to happiness lies in emulating their Guru’s life and then find they don’t get any lasting results.

Maybe my life – and my approach to life – is “boring” or seems mundane. But I can tell you I’ll take this loving, nourishing approach over the years of worshiping busy and having no foundational routines to help make move things from “idea” stage to real.

What’s Really Floating My Boat

I’ve begun a letter writing project with a friend. Sure, we could (and do) email, however, there is a different kind of intimacy in putting pen to paper and sharing what’s happening in my inner landscape. It’s helping me to get clear around a portion of my desires and goals, too.

The process of going from Writer to Author. It’s a mindset shift and has changed how I am approaching writing that isn’t immediately consumed.

Getting my eyebrows dyed. My hair is dark brown (and grey). My eyebrows? Blonde. Making my eyebrows the same color as my hair? Priceless!

My relationship with JB. It’s always floated my boat, so to speak, but in recent months I’ve been more San Diego 2014 (5)transparent with him around what I want long term when it comes to career and lifestyle. He’s getting more verbal around the same and has taken to remind me, often, because I need to hear it out loud, that no matter what I choose, he’s behind me 100%.

Having a partner that has my back, that’s willing to listen as I talk about what I want in five years and ten years and what needs to change in order for that to happen is completely new to me in my life experience.  I always dreamed about a love like that, but never really thought I would have it.

Happy Sunday.

Do you like reading this kind of weekly round up?

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A Week from August Break 2015

Days 13 through 20

I have been knee deep in work this past week and my time at the keyboard has been spent either writing for work or hydrageas_fadingediting. Lots and lots of editing. I have gotten most of one of the projects into Scrivener and am happy with how that feels when it comes to organization.

On Wednesday, I spent way too long sitting. It was productive, but I got up from the desk feeling hunched up and tight in the shoulders and my back. I may need to start setting a timer to remind me to get up and STRETCH or move.

I wrote in the newsletter (which goes out tomorrow) about how hard this week has felt when it comes to the new morning routines. How easily I could have skipped my morning reading  (because I’m too busy) or skipped the 750 words (because it isn’t real words on paper).

I know the resistance is really about fear. What is going to happen when I do what I set out to do?

So, I get real with myself. I get compassionate. And I show up and do the work. There was a reason I shifted the mornings to include reading and morning pages. Because I need the structure and feel it gives.

Today will mean less time at the desk than usual. I have a haircut appointment and lunch scheduled with a friend afterwards. Oh, and groceries. We need groceries to survive the weekend ahead.

My goal for this weekend is a bit of a round-up kind of post here to share what I’ve been working on for the long-term for my business, those changes I am making as we make our way from 2015 to 2016.

In the meantime, my collection of August Break 2015 images for days 13 through 20.  (And Happy Friday)

Day 13 – Last Year

Day 14 – Favorite Smell

I wasn’t sure how to photograph this one, because I have so many favorite smells.

There is the smell of JB, fresh from the shower. The combination of his Coast soap and Old Spice Deodorant with the faint scent of fresh laundry and starch when I hug him goodbye in the mornings. And then, his end of the day scent, when the traces of Coast and Old Spice have faded a bit, the starch is a bit wilted, and there is the faint scent of Man Working.

I love the scent of cinnamon in the air. It’s warm and crunchy cinnamon toast or pumpkin bread baking.

And roses. Though old fashioned, I love rose scented talc or a lightly fragrant lotion with undertones of rose and bergamot in all it’s yumminess.

Day 15 – Art

Day 16 – Fire

Day 17 – Reading

Day 18 – Look Up

Day 19 – Sweet Delights

Day 20 – Two

in closing

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Talismans, Love and Our Edges

My August Break Entries for Days 8 to 12

Some of these photos and their little descriptions stand on their own…..others have more of a story behind them.

Day Eight – Smooth

Day Nine – Earth

 

Day 10 – Talisman

The bookshelves in my office serve as my altar space. The books I love and/or refer to regularly rest alongside my journals (and a longish story on my professional blog about going back to writing on paper). And mixed in among the beloved words are sacred items.

If it has space for a candle, I use it. Each candle has a specific meaning to it, based on what the talisman or totem represents. Coming from a Catholic tradition, lighting candles is a prayer for me.

Before I begin working or meditation, I light one or more of the candles and focus in on that moment the match sparks and the wick catches the flame. I may say a few words, sending up an intention, a prayer, a gratitude.  I may light one candle or four or more or less depending on what’s to be done that day.

I don’t have a talisman that I wear around my neck or keep folded in my wallet. But I do have sacred objects that serve to remind me of different aspects of myself and the soul work I am called to do. The bookshelves in my office is my altar and each item placed there holds a sacred meaning or particular intention. The photo of JB and I watches over my #love and #partnership. A rose quartz, a butterfly from Valentine roses…and all the books that shifted and shaped how I came to understand simulates and lovers. The lantern – that I am tasked with and have a responsibility to shine a light into the darkness for others. The Buddha and a heart shaped stone – the reminder to tend my own soul and shine my inner light The stained glass mosaic – in honor of my guide…the constant reminder that I am never “alone” The day 10 prompt for #augustbreak2015 : #talisman

A photo posted by Debra Smouse (@debrasmouse) on

  Day 11 – Edge

There’s a very long story here about the sail and this boat and the ocean off the coast of Martinique. I have a lifelong fear of getting my head underwater. I don’t like water in my face and never have. Though I didn’t know it until I was in my teens, sometime during the first two weeks of my life I was dropped into the tub by accident. Our bodies remember those kinds of things even if our minds don’t hold real memories.

So, JB and I had signed up for this snorkeling and sailing excursion during our vacation ( a cruise) and when we got off the boat to swim over to the area to snorkel, I had a full-blown panic attack. JB got me calm, got me centered, and swam alongside me as I managed the panic and the fear and finally gave over to the pleasure of the sea….

Day 12 – Yellow

There are signs of autumn falling from my little Birch tree…. I share more about it in the final Summer Love Note tomorrow morning….

Five Things About Me

My August Break Entries for Days 5 to 7

Day 5 – Citrus

Call me crazy, but I love grocery shopping (a link to my May 27th Newsletter about it). That wasn’t always the case, of course.  I snapped these two photos at my favorite grocery store, Dorothy Lane Market. It’s a local store with three locations and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be able to buy locally sourced produce, meat and dairy alongside cans of soup and bags of rice.

We use lots of lemons. In water. As the base of dressings and mayo. Both the zest and the juice in the prep of fish or baked goods….

   

Day 6 – Notebooks

Funny that the prompt was “notebooks”.  I wrote about keeping a journal in my work blog this week and will be following up next week with how I managed to get enough courage to go back to writing on paper full time.  I could have photographed a single journal, or a stack, or a close-up of these spiral-bound paper I use now.  (For the curious, I use Strathmore Sketch Books for my journals as it allows me to write large or small – and can stand up to a collage or mini-vision board.) Instead, because I see words as sacred, I let people see my sacred space – my altar space. Nothing goes here unless it means something.

Day 7 – 5 Things about Me

I dug back into my archive of photos a bit to get all these images.

The first is one of my favorite photos of JB. I took it in January when we were on vacation and seeing him relax on this catamaran just made me fall more deeply in love with him. I took the photo in either St. Croix or Martinique.  I came face-to-face with – and played with some of my edges of –  around my fear of water. He was there beside me, witnessing and helping me through it. But that’s a story for another day.

The second photo was one taken while we were in Kauai in December. The lesson that love is the answer took years for me to learn, and I am ever grateful. The third? My new morning routines and rituals, taken just this week.

The fourth photo – the middle one – was taken this past October in Paris at a sidewalk cafe. It was an adventure. JB was working in The Netherlands and I had tagged along….but took a side trip. I hopped a train to Paris, spent a couple of days exploring and met up with a friend that was in Paris at the same time (Kayce Hughlett). Then, I left Paris to head back to The Netherlands.

The 5th and final photo is from the flowerbed surrounding our little pond in the backyard. I love sitting out on our deck or our porch and being a part of nature. I also dearly love flowers. I love cut flowers in the house and the magic of planting bulbs in the fall to have spring beauty.

 

I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed writing in this space.  As a part of my seeking of new discipline around the writing parts of my life, I know that eventually, I need to come up with goals for writing in this space. Because, without goals and deadlines and guidelines, I’d never get anything published. 😉

Mornings

My morning routines and rituals have shifted this week.

It wasn’t an accidental happenstance. Or necessitated by circumstance. The shift was intentional and purposeful need to create a more gentle, more compassionate, and more focused commencement into my day.

What hasn’t changed…

Making my first cup of coffeeDuring the predawn moments after the alarm (or one of us wakes) JB and I linger under the covers together. We cuddle and whisper, sharing snippets of remembered dreams. We giggle and stretch and enjoy the warmth and tenderness.

As time inches toward the moment we must rise, he rolls to his back, I lay my head on his chest, and we discuss what’s on tap for each of us that day.

We rise; I throw on my comfy shorts and a colorful tee, slide my feet into slippers, and head to the kitchen as he heads to the shower.

While he dresses for the office, I start the coffee and begin to prepare his lunch, which consists of gathering containers of fruit, oatmeal, yogurt, and leftovers. I warm a can of tomato soup and put it in thermos that has been warmed by boiling water and pour milk into a frosty thermos that has rested overnight in the fridge.

I unload the dishwasher and race to finish before the beep beep beep of the coffee pot signals that the magic beans and water have turned to black gold.

I prepare a thermos of coffee for him to take along and ritualistically make my first cup of coffee: two tiny spoons of raw sugar go in the cup, then I add coffee and finally a splash of whole milk. I watch at the milk blooms and the color shifts from black to caramel. I get my first sip of perfection before he exits the bedroom, armored up for his day.

A hug and a kiss goodbye; I drink in the scent of him, the Old Spice and Coast combined with the faint scent of starch in his shirt.

Each and every second of this part of my morning is sacred. There is nothing here to change.

What has changed, however….

Instead of rushing out for a bike ride or turning on the computer to check email or click around on Facebook…. Instead of grabbing a quick breakfast… or rushing through my coffee…. (all things I have occasionally done over the last year)

I am loading a tray with breakfast, a thermos of coffee, a pitcher of milk, and a glass of water and heading downstairs. I grab my journal, my Kindle and the key for the patio door and take everything out to the patio.

I eat slowly, savoring the textures and flavors I’ve curated on my plate. I make my second cup of coffee and open my book (or Kindle), not to the latest fictional book in progress, but to a book that is thoughtful and nourishing. I am IMG_20150730_084119needing to linger over pages and let luxuriate in the phrases.

Earlier this week, it was an Alexandra Stoddard Book; yesterday I began An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor.

I sip my coffee and feel the breeze tease my skin. I watch the birds seeking breakfast and listen to the three little frogs in the pond splash around. I scribble a bit in my journal.

Then it’s time to go inside. I turn on the computer and immediately go to 750Words.Com. I could write my “morning pages”  in my journal, but I am experimenting with self-discipline and forging new habits of typing on the computer without allowing myself to be distracted by Facebook or Email.

The bonus of writing at the website instead of in my journal is the way it analyzes my words: what I’m concerned about, what my mindset shows, and how many times I was distracted.

The first two days I began using it again, I was distracted. A lot. Distracted as I wrote a mere 750 words. That is shifting, too, as I build upon the days.

I am drawn back to the words of my current morning read and see a kinship in the belief that THIS is IT.

The lingering in bed and over words, the lunch preparation, the first sip of coffee. Choosing discipline over instant gratification.

These are the moments that CREATE our life. We aren’t seeking the holy by making pilgrimages to far away temples; we are seizing the holiness around us and within us.

Mornings have shifted because I am needing MORE. More nourishment, more discipline, more words on the page. I am needing MORE. More of a commitment to my soul, more of a commitment to my art, more of a commitment of putting my work out in the world.

This shift is about saving myself, saving my life and saving my soul. This shift is about saving my creative spirit and mastering my fears.

This is IT.  I am smack-dab in the middle of what is real, what is my life, what is on my path and horizon. The holy is in the understanding that the sweetness and juice of life is in the exquisite attention to all the pieces that make up my life.

The mornings are critical to remembering this.

It’s up to me to create, fight for, and curate this daily life. This daily life I love begins each day in how I choose to embark upon my morning.

“What is saving my life now is the conviction that there is no spiritual treasure to be found apart from the bodily experiences of human life on earth. My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them. My life depends on ignoring all touted distinctions between the secular and the sacred, the physical and the spiritual, the body and the soul. What is saving my life now is becoming more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world.”
— Barbara Brown Taylor

Instagram Embedded Image – My August Break piece for Day 4, Numbers. Other images are mine, previously shared on Instagram.

The August Break

A visual artist I am not; I can tell you, though, that investing in some time behind the camera with intention has been a tremendous part of my spiritual growth. I enjoy looking for the miracle and the detail in the pause – and usually see beyond the pause hours, days or weeks later.

PrintSusannah Conway created “The August Break” as a way to connect with others while connecting to our own life in a deeper way:

Pause, look around you and shoot what you see. Live inside each moment. Pay attention to what’s there.

She released the full set of prompts so there’s no waiting for a post to see what the prompt for the day, and I like the ability to wake up knowing the intention of the project without needing to get online.

I included the links and prompts in case you want to join in – just tag your Instagram (or Facebook) photo #AugustBreak2015

Though I may not participate every day, here’s the results from Day Two and Day Three.

Day Two – Air

Day 3 – Skin

A Daring Adventure

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
–Helen Keller

Today is the last day of my solo adventures in Boston as tomorrow I shall need to turn over the car keys to JB.I had barnesandnobleofficingtwo days of adventures in the area and today my adventures have taken me as far as Barnes and Noble.

I am need of a quiet and nourishing day today; the last two days have been lovely in their adventures, but frankly, I am exhausted due to spending big chunks of the time driving around lost.

It’s funny that just Sunday I wrote (for Summer Love Notes) about the shift of modern travel thanks to GPS yet the usually calm and helpful voice of Google Maps on my phone has told me “GPS Signal: Lost” within two miles of leaving the hotel.(JB says that’s the clue it’s time for a new phone, but I hate going through all the set-up that requires, but let us not digress.)

I had looked up destinations online prior to leaving the hotel for my adventure of the day to gauge distance and timing  – and jotted down some general notes of street names – my modern dependence upon having help at end has left me feeling betrayed and a little panicked as I drove along unfamiliar roads through towns I read about in history books or know thanks to movies. Towns like Bedford, Cambridge, Medford, Woburn, Lexington, Arlington, Burlington, and Concord – and along both the Charles River and Mystic River.

I would will away the panicky feelings by taking big deep breaths and choosing to embrace the wanderings as adventure rather than being adrift. I would admire the beautiful clapboard homes and appreciate the beautiful yards as I wound through strange streets seeking street names or landmarks I recognized.

Then I would rejoice and finally relax upon finding my destination or something familiar sounding.

Today, though, I am too mentally exhausted to wander around, so I took refuge in a place that feels safe and comforting: Barnes and Noble.

I am surrounded by walls and walls of endless books, a haven since the moment I learned that sentences formed stories. Merely being surrounded by the shelves and stacks of books is beyond soothing. I am ensconced in a cushioned arm chair and have access to strong iced lattes, savory and sweet food choices and super fast WiFi.

Though I embrace the words of Tolkien “Not all who wander are lost” as a mantra, I am in need of the shared companionship of other bibliophiles and tranquil hours of space to gather my thoughts. I simply cannot fathom another sojourn today and am grateful for sanctuary.

on Being a Better Custodian

I promised myself that 2015 would be the year that I focused on being a better custodian of myself and my life; it’s a word that feels more challenging than the hardest word of the past, the year I chose faith. It would be so easy to IMG_20140627_164705ignore (or pretend) that I am doing a bang-up job at becoming devoted to the myriad of ways I can nurture the areas of my life that need to be nurtured, yet to say so would be a lie.

I am a good lie detector when it comes to others, so there’s no sense in trying to lie to myself and say that I’ve done an awesome job so far. It’s been a daily struggle because the trio of Inner Furies (Critic, Fear and Doubt) have built a fortress in head.

What I know for fact, however, is that by choosing to write about it, I can better process and build my courage for battle, I thought taking electronic pen to paper would be more useful than even journaling. So, here’s a midyear update on some of the ways being a Custodian is surfacing this week.

When it comes to my body…

When JB got his blood work back from his physical, he was told his cholesterol is too high. We eat a fairly healthy diet and his good cholesterol was great (due to all the Olive Oil and Fish in our diet) but he still needed to lower the bad cholesterol. I’ve struggled with cholesterol myself and my next round of blood work isn’t until September. So, it would be good for both of us for me to get a little more serious about it.

I prepare every meal we consume so it was time to take a deeper look at what we’ve been eating and sure enough, there’s a lot of foods that can be cut out (goodbye bread every night) and I need to pay closer attention to the amount of fiber in our diet (hello oatmeal and more fruits and veggies).

And let’s be honest, being more aware of the meals I create for us as a family only lends to me putting healthier foods into my own body.

But the number one thing the Mayo Clinic says you can do to lower your cholesterol is exercise. So, it was time to put more effort into moving our bodies. When he lived in DC, he rode his bike about 20 miles several times a week, but our lifestyle here has gotten a bit more sedentary. We’re riding at least once over the weekend and trying to get to the pool to swim laps as well.

11038987_1069106339795790_7745881067331900848_nThough I can’t force him to exercise, I can certainly make sure that I get my own butt in gear. I’ve been out on the bike twice this week and out for a long walk twice. I’m learning that if I don’t get out of the house by 9 AM (on average) for some exercise then it just isn’t going to happen.

I felt my best when I was running a couple of days a week, meditating regularly, doing basic body-weight exercises (like push-ups)  and I need to work back up to that.

I’m not noticing a different number on the scale, however I feel better and am better able to manage my stress and my emotions when I exercise.

When it comes to my mind and soul…

I’ve been reading a lot this year. I hadn’t really bothered to keep track in the past of how many books I was actually reading, but I can tell you the the pace of reading has increased. I set an initial Goodreads Goal of 52 books this year and at present I am at 83, so this week I reset my goal for 2015 to be 147 books.  I am reading a lot of “cozy mysteries” because they are like comforting mind candy – a grown up Trixie Belden – and I’m enjoying them as balm for my mind and soul. I’m still reading a fair number of “Best Sellers” and books that feed my mind so that I am a better coach.

I’m also diving into well written TV. I’ve long been a fan of Major Crimes (a spinoff of TNT’s The Closer) as well Rizzoli and Isles. I’m also enjoying a new TNT Series, Proof, as well as a summer series on CBS, Zoo, which is based on one of James Patterson’s novels.

When it comes to my talents…and time…

Writing has been a challenge this year, yet all signs continue to point to the fact that I need to write. I’m feeling a lot of internal pressure to Write Something beyond my regular consumables for work, yet by the end of the week, I’m planningcalendar1exhausted creatively.

This is one of those weeks.

We are traveling tomorrow for ten days and I don’t want to spend all my time in the hotel working while JB is teaching; I want to get out and explore. I want to stand in Louisa May Alcott’s bedroom and walk to Walden Pond.I want to visit Curly Girl’s little shop and revel in her creativity.

That feels like a better use of my time than sitting in the hotel doing work. Or worse yet, distracting myself from working by scrolling through Facebook.

So, I doubled up my writing for work this week and, in addition to this week’s blog post  and newsletter, I have solid drafts for next week’s that just need to be edited. I also have two drafts in the hands of my YourTango editor that will publish in the next ten days.

To be honest, I’ve missed writing HERE. Well, not specifically here at “DebraLoves.Com, but writing in my own personal space without regard for needing to stay “on brand” or running my work through the software that penalizes me for using a passive voice. I’ve missed writing about the big and little things that create our lives.

In recent years, I’ve denied myself this regular space for writing, even when I most needed it. But like the blank pages of the sketch pads I use for journaling, I also need the blank canvas of the web and a personal space to write. To make it more inviting, I need to do a bit of design work here to go beyond the initial basics of the theme I installed.

When it comes to my business…and relationships

That my business needs to shift and evolve isn’t anything new. My business has always been an integrative part of my Fridayworkdaylife as well, whether I am coaching or writing. So that means it has to feed my satisfaction with my daily life just as much as my nourishing daily life inspires and feeds my business life.

I’ve been mulling over how to best manage the different facets of my business and how I want to bring forward each of my programs. I had a long talk with JB about how I am feeling and what I am desiring and where I’m frustrated. Having is support on Whatever I Decide To Do humbles me and sends me to my knees with prayers of gratitude as I’ve never had that kind of support until this relationship.

I had a great session with Theresa Reed yesterday, who is not just a wise woman, but wicked smart when it comes to managing an intimate business. It helped to walk through every piece of my business with someone else. I am an extrovert and that means that sometimes, I have to talk in order to think.

I’m not ready to announce my plans yet, but I will be soon. It will be necessary soon.

And on that note, it’s time to close the computer, hop in the shower and dive into the necessary pieces of my day. I have a hair appointment and need to make one last run to the grocery store before we leave. I have a book to finish so that I can return it to the library before we leave (Nemesis by Catherine Coulter).

I also need to finish the business pieces I want to set in place before this trip and will do so while JB is off working on a new venture for him. And, there’s that half empty suitcase waiting to be filled.

Here’s to a happy and loving rest of the weekend.

Baubles

I was having lunch with  a girlfriend yesterday and the conversation, of course shifted to businesses. I am at that Flickr Creative Commons alysinwonderland baublesNext Step as I mentioned earlier and I’m not quite sure what direction to go.

In the past, that would have meant that I didn’t quite believe there was a NEXT step, just that I needed something to be different. I knew that I had the answers somewhere within my heart and soul, but there was zero clarity to unlock it.

These days, though, that isn’t my mindset.

I see a plethora of possibilities in my path forward.The sabbatical I took in April was a huge eye-opener for me that I am needing something MORE along with something LESS.   Sometimes, too many choices is more challenging than only a couple of choices.

This is where it gets tricky, because for creatives it’s so easy to choose the shiniest bauble.Often, we choose the shiniest bauble in a basket because it looks the prettiest. Then we discover that the shiny bauble isn’t real silver or gold; it gets its shine from cheap glue and glitter.

What I need in the next step is something that is beautiful, lovely and nourishing. Because the number one priority (ah, back to that word again, PRIORITY) is the quality of my daily life.  Shiny Bauble choices are for New Year’s Eve and One Time Events, because they don’t need to last and aren’t meant to be for the long run.

The shiniest bauble doesn’t produce the best quality of living day after day because it’s not something that’s sustainable, and frankly, it isn’t something I desire to sustain.

It’s taken a lot of years to come face to face with the fact that though I am passionate and excitable, I love peace.

I used to believe that life could only be fulfilling if there was drama and excitement, until I got a taste of a life that had a different kind of excitement. And that excitement is finding the peace and perfection in ordinary, every day moments.

Life is truly a grand adventure, I just hadn’t understood that adventure was to be discovered in sharing coffee with JB while the birds serenaded us. And that we could ALSO have the OTHER kind of adventure of experiencing beaches and sail boats and ancient ruins and historic homes. I thought it had to be and either / or situation.

I have created the kind of personal life that rewards me with those moments in my daily life, but to allow it’s growth and sustain it, my business world is going to have to shift.

I wish I could say that this little ramble has allowed me to discover exactly what IT is, but the possibilities lay before me still.Well, except that super glittery possibility. It’s definitely lost it’s shine.

Glittery Bauble Image by Alys Perry via Flckr Creative Commons

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