Friday, February 25, 2011

Beautiful You, a Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance, by Rosie Molinary

Rosie Molinary is the author of Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image and Growing up Latina and more recently, Beautiful You, a Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance. I had the opportunity of interviewing her a few years ago, for my weekly book section in La Palma, of the Palm Beach Post, and she has now accepted to grace my own Success Diaries with her words of encouragement for other women.

LCL- What is your definition of success and have you achieved it?

RM- For me, success is an experience and not a destination.  Being successful is always striving to be my best, pushing to give the world the best I have to offer while refining who I am.  Given that, some days I am more successful than others.  I can tell at the end of the day if I’ve lived it in the way that I intended or if I took a short-cut or checked out for a bit, and I use that feedback to refine who I am becoming and how I am becoming her on every given day.   

LCL- What makes your day?

RM - Experiencing and giving love.  I really feel most satisfied when I can authentically connect with another person- whether it is my son in person (so, in that case, really being with him when we are reading a book or playing Play-doh rather than skimming email), my parents over the phone, the grocery store clerk while I am checking out, someone over email, etc.  

LCL- How would you sum up the aim of your book Beautiful You?

RM- Here is my big picture point:  for every moment that we spend consumed in our bodies, we’re taking precious time and energy away from the work that we are meant to be doing in this world.  And there is just way too much that needs to be done in this world for us to be distracted.  
After I wrote Hijas Americanas, which was about the coming of age experiences of Latinas, I was struck by how the conversation in the book about body image and beauty perception as well as the messages shared about those issues- that we are all enough, that our uniqueness is beautiful- were universally embraced by women. Women are really hungering for affirmation and permission to embrace what they inherently know to be true.  They also want guidance for how to let that truth shine out in them.  I have always been particularly interested in journaling and in creating and taking actionable steps towards a larger goal and so the idea of putting together an action plan and empowerment guide for women where they could put together the pieces to their larger goal of loving and accepting themselves really resonated with me.   
Rosie Molinary
In Beautiful You, what I wanted to do was to take so much of the theory we know to be true about how to fall in love with yourself, generate self-acceptance, and offer yourself care and give women actionable steps that get them there. 
Each step is doable in a day, isn’t too overwhelming, and really motivates the reader to build on her process.  The assignments really vary from journaling type of assignments where you look at beliefs you have about yourself, joys you have experienced or challenges to actionable steps like working on maintaining eye contact with others, watching what you say or think about yourself, or writing a loved one a letter to let them know how you feel.  While the steps are each doable in a day, I am hopeful that people will feel such satisfaction from some of them- like maintaining eye contact- that they will incorporate them into their everyday behaviors, further boosting their confidence and sense of self-acceptance. 
Too often, we believe we will finally be content when our body changes in some way.  Actually, we’ll be content only when our mind changes, when we give ourselves permission and the tools to be content and that takes some time.  Beautiful You provides the tools- vision, passion, purpose, resilience, productivity- for every woman who wants to see beauty in a way that is true to who she is and not in the way the world hands it to her. 

LCL- Do you believe in women achieving a balanced life?

RM- It completely depends on what balanced means to you.  For me, what I now understand to be true is that I will always be attracted to more than I can do/ accomplish.  But the attraction keeps me vital, growing, and aware.  I do say no if I don’t feel called to do something and that helps keep things a little more in balance but I think the most important thing to do is enjoy the moment, attend to what you can, recognize that not everything will always get done- there is always something wait to be tended to in the wings- and to let guilt go about that.  We do the best we can every given day, and we need to be satisfied with the motion of that rather than punish ourselves for not moving faster.  A significant part of our life experience should be enjoyed and we deny ourselves that truth when we live in guilt and regret.   

LCL- What would you tell a woman who is facing a tough challenge and needs a boost?

RM- I would look her in the eyes and say, “You have gotten yourself to this point.  You have faced difficult challenges before.  You are more than enough, and you have everything you need.  Now, it is time to begin turning this challenge into an opportunity.” 

LCL- Anything else you may want to add ....

RM- I most want for women to release themselves from standards that weren’t of their own imagining and that keep them from being their best selves—and anything that keeps you from thinking positively about yourself and behaving respectfully towards yourself falls in that category.  I want us to take the time and make the effort to get to know ourselves and then to move forward from an authentic place.

We have to champion all women. As long as one woman is crippled by feelings of inadequacy, then the world that we have created is inadequate. Supporting one another and freeing one another from the limiting messages that we internalize can be revolutionary. We make the choice whether to internalize these messages. We make the choice whether to build up or tear down. We can have power in our lives by not taking in negative messages, and we can empower other women by not sending out negative messages.  When we begin to see women in all of their dimensions, we begin to eradicate confining stereotypes and world views. We start to see all women as complex individuals, and not just as part of a larger stereotypical whole.

We can choose to create a society that encourages women to be healthier and more whole, a society that unites us in our commonalities while acknowledging the depth of the individual. The more we challenge the limits we place on each other, the more open the world will be to all of us.

Thank you, Rosie! 

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Cheryl Tallman, Cofounder of Fresh Baby, on Success

Cheryl Tallman

Cheryl Tallman, is an Entrepreneur and the CEO of 2 businesses: Fresh Baby and Creative i and an example of a proactive, successful woman.

In Cheryl´s words: “At Fresh Baby we help parents raise healthy kids.  This keeps me going. Fresh Baby is making a difference.” Cheryl and her sister Joan Ahlers launched Fresh Baby that focuses on an all-natural diet for children when they could not find healthy and hassle-free food alternatives for their own kids.  

 LCL- What is your definition of success?

CT- Success is anything that gives you a feeling of accomplishment and builds your self-confidence. Success comes in all sizes.  

LCL- What is your biggest success?

CT- Not sure if I can name just one.  Some of my big successes include starting and selling my first business, marrying my husband and raising a healthy and happy son.   

LCL- What do you still have left to achieve?

CT- The way I figure it, at 47 I have half my life still to live, so I am really just getting started.   I have been blessed with many talents. I believe if I continue to use these talents and contribute, I will have many great achievements.      

LCL- How do you successfully manage motherhood, marriage and work?

CT- I make a “things to do” list every day. I feel great when I cross things off this list, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get everything on the list done. I am lucky to have flexible work hours and I set my work aside for family time and family responsibilities. I have a great husband who helps out.  I could not do it without him.  I also think that having an office helps me separate work and home.  However, I do bring my laptop home every night – I like to stay connected and I may do some work after dinner.  

LCL- How do you manage two companies without losing it? 

CT- I work with great people! On occasion, I get overwhelmed with too much work and it puts me in a bad mood. I realize I’m in a bad mood, when people at the office are avoiding me.  My mood changes once I’ve gotten the work done.  

LCL- What advice would you give to women who are in a slump and need some positive thoughts to keep on going?

CT- Believe in yourself. You can accomplish anything but you need to put in the effort to succeed.

Thank you for your time and your inspiration, Cheryl!

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Forgiveness for Better Skin

Practicing forgiveness is no easy feat. Simply setting out to accomplish it is a huge achievement. Great strength of character is required to incorporate forgiveness into our lives.

Resentment and anger eat away at the person who just can’t let go. I’ve read often that it’s like taking poison and expecting someone else to suffer the consequences. Any strong emotion that we are unable to keep in check ties us to the person who’s the target of our strong feelings, like a ball and chain that prevents us from moving forward.  

If it’s hard to forgive others, for some of us it’s even harder to forgive ourselves. And yet it is indispensable that we do that in order to keep on going, free of ballast.

I know what it feels like to be resentful and unable to forget a wrongdoing and it’s not pretty. But I also know the joyful and liberating sensation of setting out to forgive and forget.

Study the faces of people of a certain age – perhaps your own. Wrinkles are like a map of our soul: they tell whether we are bitter or joyful, if we are resentful or easy to forgive.

Plastic surgery is no miracle cure: it can correct the outside, but it can’t soften a heart turned to stone.

Who have you been able to forgive throughout your life? In the past year? Who would you like to be able to forgive so you can get on with your life? What can’t you forgive yourself for? What can you do to help you do this?

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If you read Spanish, you can download the first few pages of my most recent book, Volver a Empezar, (Starting Over) by clicking here.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finding your Purpose in Life

If you haven’t yet figured out your purpose in life, consider that you may have more than one, that you can change your mind and that you may have to gamble a bit before you hit the jackpot.

Ask yourself if the reason why you don’t yet know your life purpose is that you think it must be something grandiose Mother Theresa-style and you are embarrassed to admit that you simply love being a teacher, which seems insignificant in comparison. That is a great life purpose, by the way.

You will dispel your fears by facing them and this applies to your fear of not knowing what makes you tick. To help you find your life purpose, ask yourself:

What would I do every day even if I didn’t get paid?
What makes me forget everything else while I’m doing it?
What do I dream of doing but don’t dare?
What inspires me?  

Keep in mind that we set our own limits and we are also our harshest critics. As a rule, most of us are more demanding of ourselves than of others. However, in order to find out what moves and propels us, we have to risk failure.

And the only real failure is failure to try!

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It´s Now or Never!

If you find yourself thinking: “one day I’ll get in shape”, “if I only had the time, I’d learn Mandarin”, “if I really set my mind to it, I’d be a writer”, quit the excuses and take action. You can think or talk about it all you like, but only action makes a difference.

Commit to your passion and nurture it as if it were your child. Those of us who have children know that there is no greater love than parent love. And yet ... who enjoys getting up ten times in the middle of the night to change diapers? Who likes to rush their feverish kid to the ER at midnight? Who loves a tantrum? But we put up with that and more because we love our kids with a passion. We know that being a parent implies suffering through the toughest moments in order to savor the great ones, such as watching their first steps, feeling their sloppy kisses, or simply seeing them smile.  

The same goes for your life purpose. You must love it dearly and be willing to put up with all the sacrifice it implies. Nothing is 100% pleasant or absolutely horrible, and if we don’t embrace this, we will be condemned to eternal dissatisfaction. Is that what you want? Life is too short to waste time!

I can’t promise that you’ll achieve everything you set your mind to, because that depends entirely on you. But if you do whatever it takes to find out what you want to achieve and actually do it, your life will be a lot more fulfilling and happier than if you don’t.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Successful Friendships

Would you like to improve the quality of your friendships and if so, what steps could you take towards that goal? Don’t focus on changing the other person in order to improve your relationship with them because that’s impossible. 

We cannot control other people, places and things and we can only change our attitudes and ourselves. This is often enough to improve our interactions with others, but sometimes we simply evolve, some friends fall behind and then the only possible change is to end the relationship.

Emotional vampires are very capable of draining you of joy and depleting your energy reserves. The best thing you can do is avoid them, of course. We shouldn’t put our happiness in the hands of others, but we can surround ourselves with proactive, positive people who help us improve. Attitudes are contagious, so why not catch a positive one?

Friendships should be enriching. If every time you talk to a certain friend or acquaintance you feel you need to protect yourself and you end up in a bad mood or exhausted after the interaction, reevaluate the friendship.

It´s not a matter of doing away with all your friendships because they´re not perfect. In fact, few are, if any! But realize that your level of happiness usually reflects the quality of your best relationship. And if the best one is not so good, you’re probably not as happy as you deserve to be.

To see my latest book in Spanish, Volver a Empezar, (Starting over) on relationships, click here.

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