Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Beauty Standard

I have been exploring the idea of the beauty standard. What that is, and how it is changing. I was recently shot for Vogue Germany. As I have been saying, there are many reasons that never should have happened to a 5'4" Jewish American chick that looks like me. In fact, had I announced to my mother that I had a dream of modeling for a beauty magazine, she would have been correct to point me in a different direction. Fortunately, I never had that dream. At least I thought not.

Underneath it all, I am a girl. I have dormant fantasies about marriage, fairy tale romances, being a ballerina and yes, a model. Girls are raised to aspire to these dreams. Having not ever fit into society in the first place, I turned off the part of my brain that's like the other little girls. Or so I thought. As I approached my shoot date, and the call sheet arrived...just seeing the word Vogue plastered all over the place and my name right on that list, I felt that I was experiencing a dream come true....only I never even knew I had the dream!

What else lays dormant within me, that I have shut down for lack of confidence? The relationship that feeds me? Riding off into the sunset? I'm sure there is so much more that the old beauty standard had robbed me of. But it appears that I may have limited myself unnecessarily.

They say that life is a reflection of what we believe. If this is the case, I dare to say that I am accepting my beauty. Somehow, I am making choices that facilitate me in feeling more deserving and powerful. I cannot say this has been conscious, yet I know that all of my choices today are based on taking good care of myself, and selecting my company wisely. Again, I am not even sure how conscious this has been. It just sort of happened.

It came to mind that I am grateful I never knew I had this dream. Had I known, I would have had to build a support system, or fought against the doubters. My life today is large because I am not asking permission. I can feel my power and my beauty emanating from within. Shining like that light that I am, shining in your eyes. And you are the light shining in mine. The future looks bright.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Respectful Relationships

Happy Fall. The Equinox is the perfect balance of light and dark. The sun and moon holding court equally, representing the masculine and feminine polarity.  There is a joy in the harvest of all the seeds we planted in Spring. (Think back to your intentions and see how they have played out. Notice the fruits of your labor.) There is also an inventory to take. Did I succeed? What could I have done more gracefully and where was I thrown off-balance? How might I shift things today, to avoid harsh conditions? If the past two years have not been all fun and games, they have certainly held some major lessons in responsibility and respect. Both for ourselves and others. Relationships, like balance poses, are in constant flux. A balance pose is anything but rested and peaceful. It is dynamic. The stillness is the holding point that contains the energy of opposites.  

In balance poses we can learn how to set our gaze on a point that does not move, so as not to be distracted by the external bright and shiny objects that may derail us and take us on circuitous paths. When the gaze is still, the mind is still, teaching us not to be swayed by what we see. Particularly when we compare ourselves, or second guess our decisions and listen to our thinking minds, we face unnecessary self-doubt. You will notice that if you follow your thoughts when in a balancing pose, you will literally fall. Focus on something constant. Your internal rhythm. Your breath.

To maintain balance, we must also commit fully. Equal grounding and extension. When I look at trees, I remember I heard once, that the roots extend as deep into the earth as the tree is tall. That reminds me, in order to grow, I must ground. Ground into my self, my life and my home. This way, when the opportunity arises to get out into the world, I am ready for the growth spurt and outward expression. Meanwhile, I stretch myself and extend as far as I possibly can towards my goals. The extension being the masculine, and the the grounding is the earthy feminine.

Balance is never static. Relationships are a dance. What I am able to do is to show up. Stretch myself. Keep my gaze steady. Focus on my breath. Remember myself in the face of the other. Face my dark and my light. Give and receive. Be responsible to myself and respect the other. Be open to change, yet stay steady. And eventually...I will Fall. Just as we do this cycle again and again. Just as I try the pose again and again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cleaning House

It's always a good day to start anew. It's the changing of the guards this week. Today marks the Jewish New Year: time to review, reveal and release this past year. We review our actions, both positive and imperfect, and cleanse those old ideas, beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve. Just in time! With September 21st rolling around, we officially get the change of seasons from Summer to Autumn. I love the season change. I am actually a big fan of change, so I like to travel light. Minimizing the excess allows you to move easily. On Saturday we move into the sign Libra, which rules our relationships. We have come through a two-and-a-half year cycle regarding relationship lessons. What we can learn is how to take responsibility and mature. I have personally had groundbreaking lessons in this area over the past several years. It doesn't always go the way I would like, and so I am faced with many old ideas and habits to let go of. As we wind up 2012, it is time to release what no longer serves the most important relationship to spirit and our service to the world-at-large. My focus at this time of year is to modify my diet, to cleanse myself of the bad habits that creep up and recommit to my purity. Since I have moved (again) I have recommitted to releasing what is outdated and am in tune-up mode.

Ways to detoxify:

  • Gratitude List: Focus on what you DO have, instead of the lack.
  • Healthy Habits: Your body is your true home. It's time to clean house and rid your body of excess.
  • Refine your diet & move your body: Move energy out.
  • Breathing and Meditation: Sit with yourself and see what comes up. The thoughts and feelings that arise, when observed, will move through you. They are the old thoughts. It's like when you detox from sugar—at first you crave sugar, then it moves through your system.
  • Service: Be happy. Spreading your joy and giving your time to someone is more of a gift that any charity or amount of money. Cultivate your own joy and share it with other.
  • Intention Setting: Reconnect with the intention you set at the beginning of 2012. Where are you with it? Recommit. You have 3 months to fulfill it.

As I trot off to an exciting new adventure, speaking at a Women's Leadership Conference, I am struck by the opportunities that have opened up to me in the last months. Dreams and fantasies I never knew I had are coming true. Little girl wishes have been made real. I sit with myself, in my own presence and love. With no one and nothing to rely on or give me permission, I say "yes" once again. The way I bravely do. I throw everything away to see what returns. And say "yes" to the new that is washing in with the tides. This adventure is built on the daily tasks we follow through with and the dreams we never even knew we had.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Letting Go of Perfection

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." - Gilbert Chesterton

I love this quote, because it completely challenges the perfectionist in me. Perfectionism breeds procrastination. If I continually wait until I am prepared enough, I may be waiting a long time. Perfectionism is elusive, and a moving target. Since I am constantly growing and evolving, I have come to the habit of putting it out there, whether I am ready or not. You guys have been a great help to me. So thank you!

When I was a child, my mother was a wonderful artist, yet it seemed that she never finished a painting. I remember an unfinished portrait of my father and brother on an easel in my parents' bedroom that remained there until finally the divorce of my parents spawned the sale of our family home. It was curious to me that my mother had such talent, and yet could not continue to grow because she was stuck on finishing the painting perfectly. The fact that I was raised to color inside the lines has often been the bane of my existence, for I was good at it, and yet my natural artistic style is much more childlike than lifelike.

The quality of perfectionism was instilled in me from my paternal side as well. My father could wrap both legs around his head, and because my body structure and genetics came from the same pool, I could join in on the party tricks. However, the talents that I had often prevented me from trying the things I was not good at. If I couldn't do it perfectly, I wouldn't want to do it. Or what's worse, if I did one thing amazingly well, I would balk at the idea of following it up.

Taking a risk to do something badly is one of the most liberating experiences you may have. I remember my ex-boyfriend telling me that I was so bad at being in a relationship, that I was actually good at it. At the time he and I first came together, I had fallen apart. I had a fire in my house and was a little homeless, my car broke down for good in the parking lot, and I was an emotional wreck. I said, "So you love me even though I'm a mess?" And he said, "Baby, I love you BECAUSE you're a mess." And that was all I needed to hear.

Being human is messy. We are imperfect. We hurt each other. We mess up. We try again. In terms of the yoga, it really permeates all areas of life. Yet, in terms of the practice, what better example than to try Crow Pose, play with Dragonfly (depicted above), or attempt to bind your Side Angle Pose? If we never try the things we aren't good at, we never fail, but we also don't excel.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Green Hygiene

I am mid-holiday weekend, and I realize that most of you are probably taking this moment to unwind and not worry about counting calories, as you enjoy that margarita with your chips and guacamole. You will start fresh on Tuesday, and there is nothing wrong with that. Being in the fitness and self-care business, I enjoy a reverse schedule. Holidays and weekends are the most populated days for classes at your local studio or gyms. My work days can begin as early as 6am and end as early as 12 noon or even begin at 7pm. That said, I have decided to give my digestive system a holiday. I am taking a break and I am opting for green drinks instead.

When I post or speak about green juices or cleansing and detoxing, I get a lot of inquiries. My sense is that 'detox' and 'cleanse' have become code words for 'crash diet', but just the same, fueling your body with some highly nutritious greens can only be beneficial, as it will provide you with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory veggies will improve your skin and your digestive system, and give you energy. Since I am taking this day to do all green drinks I thought I would share a few tips.

* Avoid fruit juice.
Fruit juice is loaded with sugars. Not only is this highly caloric, but it will spike your insulin levels. Better to opt for green veggie juices. Even carrots and beets are very high in sugar, so I suggest that you veer towards the more highly nutritious and less sugary green veggies.

*Dark greens are good for your blood. 
The darker the veggie, the more nutritional value it has. For instance, iceberg lettuce has little nutritional value, as opposed to spinach which is a darker green. Greens help to alkalize your blood. They also taste really good when juiced and blended with additions like ginger or lemon. Try green peppers, spinach, kale, cucumber, romaine and parsley.

*Add some flavor.
Ginger, lemon, cayenne or turmeric, are all delicious when added to your green juice. If you need to sweeten it up, green apple or mint can be refreshing.

* Chill out.
When juice is kept very cold, it tastes much better. I have been getting my fresh pressed juice from Kreation. They keep their juices chilled and are especially delicious on these hot Summer days. It is optimal to juice during the hot Summer or Spring months, rather than the cooler Winter and Fall months, when we require warm things to balance our bodies. 

*Combinations matter.
Kale and spinach can be very bitter alone. I like a spinach, celery, kale, lemon, parsley, romaine. To be honest, I prefer to go to get a fresh pressed juice. Although it is expensive (up to $8.00 for 16 oz), the time it takes, and the equipment needed, plus clean up...well, I consider it worth the money. 

Juices will boost your immunity, build your vitality, purify you (not that you need it!). If you add cayenne, it will boost your metabolism, while ginger will improve your digestion. Other additions that could raise the nutritional value of your juice would be Vitamineral GreenSpirulina, wheatgrass shots, flax, or hemp seeds. I like to keep it simple myself. 

Since we are into September, and saying good-bye to the indulgence that Summer brings, it is natural to want to clean out. Adding a green juice daily this month would be a wonderful replacement for one of your mid-day snacks. It will give you an energy boost and help to keep your system clean. It's just good clean green hygiene.