Creative expression through the written word

Archive for January, 2011

Mining for Me

I wasn’t the typical teenage girl, if the typical teenage girl was all about clothes, hair and makeup. In high school I wasn’t allowed to do anything to my hair, per my mother’s dictates. I was taught to wear makeup but the instruction was always “keep it light”, which I took for non-existant. None of my friends in high school seemed to be into “all that stuff” either.

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I developed a friendship with someone who knew how to do her hair (in multiple ways) and knew how to wear her makeup (perfectly) and knew more about fashion and what made her body look its best than anyone I had ever met. Becoming her friend was like being given a pass into a world I never realized I had been missing. It was the beginning of an interesting journey.

By my mid-thirties I thought I knew how to dress myself. Thought I had learned how to wear my hair. Thought I had discovered what makeup looked good on me. I was comfortable with who I was and felt confident with the woman I was. Then I got this job, in an office full of women that “were women” and gloried in their femininity. I was on the next step of my journey to me and didn’t even really know it.

Over the course of five years around those women I learned things like the importance of a pedicure, the amazing results of pampering myself, the joys of facials, massages, buying jewelry, playing with makeup and yes, even what growing my hair out and learning how to use a flat-iron could do for my self-esteem. I looked back at who I was before that and I thouht…”wow – you thought you knew so much and really knew nothing.”

Today, as I look back on the difference between who I am today and who I was two years ago when I thought that, I am amazed at how much I have actually changed since then. The thing was, I didn’t realize how much I had been changing until one day when my husband took me shopping to get a few new pieces of clothing.

My husband had always been able to buy me anything…from purses to accessories to clothing and it would always be something I loved. It was a surprise to both of us that everything he picked out for me got responses like: ‘Oh, that is okay.”, “mmm…I don’t really think so.”, “yeah, its cute but not really what I am looking for”, etc., etc. It boiled to a  head when he, rather frustrated, put a top back on the rack and snapped, “I don’t even know you any more!” The sales attendant standing close by started laughing and responded to him, “Few men will admit that out loud to their wives but it’s a wise man that is willing to learn.”

I’ve been pondering that thought over the last few months and realized that, indeed, my husband no longer knew what my tastes were, what colors I was drawn too, what type of jewelry I prefered, what style of shoes I adored, and why I was never satisfied with just any purse. How could I expect him to know me when I was still unearthing the real me…the 40 something me that was truly comfortable in my own skin.

In September 2010, I was gifted with a make over and to say that it changed my life would be an understatement. Away went the long, straight hair to welcome in a semi-short, sassy hairdo that was sleek, styling, flirty and sexy – all in one.The color changed from dark brown to a deep, rich red. I was actually taught the basics of hair care and the art of applying makeup so that it enhances and looks natural.  Then I paid to work with a fashion consultant/personal shopper and discovered I actually have a style. One that makes me feel good about myself even if I need to lose weight.

I look in the mirror today and I know that who I am right now is someone I am truly happy with. This journey of self-discovery has taken almost 20 years but in the mining of me I have discovered a lot about myself and even though I expect to keep learning I am truly happy with the face in the mirror. I know lots of women who would benefit from admitting they lack self-confidence in the personal style arena and I hope that I am a walking, breathing billboard for the value of facing their fears and internal inadequacies to “sit at the feet of the masters” and humbly learn a thing or two.

It’s never too late to find yourself.

Becoming Attractive

“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” – Jim Rohn.

The philosophy behind that quote…work hard on a job and you can earn a living, work hard on yourself you can make a fortune. Success is something you attract by becoming an attractive person.

This doesn’t mean attractive as in beautiful, this means attractive as in you having the power to attract things to you. I’m sure there are millions of people out there that have read or watched “The Secret” so you probably have a good idea what I am trying to say here.

Another way to say this is…what you think about, comes about. Focusing on the positive brings the positive into your life. We create our own realities. I’m sure you have heard it said multiple ways but the real question here is…are you actually hearing it? Do you actually grasp the meaning beyond the intellectual words? Have you, as the Bible says, written these laws upon your heart?

It’s so easy to say that we know something. Heck, it is easy to spout off truths like we are the Old Faithful Geyser at Yosemite National Park but that doesn’t make it a living principle in our lives until we can actually live by it. Until we actually, eat, breathe and sleep it. Until it is so much a part of who we are that we cannot function any other way.

That is something that I am really trying to create in my life. I know it, I even understand it, I can speak it but I would like to be LIVING it. Not just when people are paying attention but more importantly, when they aren’t. When the only reason to follow the principles of truth and the laws of the Universe are because I, the ever-present witness to my life is watching and listening.

I am on a journey to becoming an attractive person and I hope there are others out there that are on the same journey. I’d love to hear from you…engage in dialogue…support and encourage you.

Step Up, Step Forward, Step Out

“He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him” – Dutch Proverb

I love this proverb. I guess I love it because it reminds me that sometimes the biggest challenge to accomplishing something or being successful is just showing up. It’s about taking action instead of sitting on the sidelines. Over the course of the last year I realized that all too often I wait for others to do things. I wait for people to take action. I mean, can’t they see the same need that I see? Don’t they want to be involved in the same kind of group? Doesn’t everyone want the same thing accomplished? The list of questions could go on forever and what I realized is that I wasn’t doing anything or having certain things in my life because I kept waiting for someone else to step up and take action.

So, this last year, I did my best to step up, step forward, step out on a limb, speak up etc. I can’t tell you how radically it shifted my life. Has it been scary? Sometimes. Have I gotten myself in too deep…taken on too much? Sometimes. Have I added significantly to my life? Absolutely. Have I learned something? Every single time. Do I regret any of it? Not one bit.

I’m not saying it is easy to put yourself out there and in some scenarios, put yourself in a vulnerable position, open to ridicule but the pay off for having done so will outweigh the fear. The personal growth you will experience is priceless. The people you will meet, the relationships you will develop, the skills you will acquire are worth it all. So, if you really want to start making changes in your life then it is time to embrace this proverb and get to the real understanding that sometimes…its all about stepping outside your own door.

Passing down traditions

Yesterday was New Year’s day and I started it early. Getting up to begin the process of making 5 pans of homemade enchiladas. As I was standing in my kitchen, up to my elbows in enchilada ingredients I started thinking about all the years in the past that I remembered my mother making enchiladas. We all loved her enchiladas and would get so excited when she would decide to make them. I also remembered when I had been about 16 and she taught me how to make them for the first time. It seemed like such a major achievement at the time. For years I helped her make them and the whole family would gather together for dinner. It was a dinner not to be missed in our household.

I moved to another state when I was 27 and continued to make enchiladas for my family and soon for most of  my friends too. It became a dinner everyone loved and a tradition for me to make on New Year’s and the Superbowl. My family would beg for me to make them but the labor intensity of them always kept it to a couple of times a year.

I moved back home a few years later and in the 8 years since I’ve been back home my mother has asked me to help her make enchiladas only once. The big family dinner’s of homemade enchiladas has always occurred when I make them now. As I was rolling the enchiladas and gently placing them in the pans it hit me that somehow in the course of a few years (well it only seemed like a few years but in reality it has been 15 years) I had somehow switched places with my mother.

I now had the big family, gathered everyone together, hosted big dinners, cooked for masses and was the matriarchal presence that kept communication and organization moving through our family. Mom is retired and about eight years ago quit cooking for more than 2. Mom jokingly laughs about having forgotten how to cook now that she only has her and dad to worry about. She’s always teasing me about being so glad that I have to “do it all” and she doesn’t but I remember when that wasn’t the case. I can’t help wondering when the day will come when a son or daughter-in-law will take over and I wonder….will they look back as I have done and wonder just when they got handed the baton for the family tradition? 

Will they see the understand the long line of tradition they are upholding? Will they even really care? Is this something that will eventually go by the wayside or something my great-grandchildren will gather for as their families grow? I love traditions and I hope my children and my children’s children will come to love it as much as I do. Although I do have to admit that I am looking forward to embracing new traditions they all bring into the mix.

So, as the New Year begins, may you and yours be blessed with the old traditions that keep your heritage alive and may you also embrace new traditions that keep life exciting.

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