clothes wearing a new shirt entire outfit. change our clothes,  wardrobe clothing wardrobe clothing fits and fits clothes clothes clothing a jacket or shawl a jacket or a shawl jacket in the car wardrobe purse wardrobe purse. everyday wear wardrobe malfunction wardrobe wardrobe wardrobe your face face throw water wash your face in the morning and then apply your makeup. Taking care of your face takes time, dedication, and effort. If you want to have flawless skin you will need to stick to a routine. You also need a few ingredients that can give you the most successful results. You're in luck because this article will list the main ingredients and give you tips to getting healthy, flawless skin. All that's left is you. see a difference in your skin. important for your body. Your body tends to build up toxins in your system over time by various things for various reasons. When you drink water, it removes and cleanses those toxins from your body. It's kind of like giving the inside of your body a bath. If the outside of your body gets bathe regularly, then the inside of your body deserves the same treatment. When you are regularly drinking a recommended amount of water daily, then you are removing the toxins from your body, which means you are reducing the amount of oil in your face that creates those nasty bumps. to clear those toxins from your body. While drinking the recommended amount of water daily, another important ingredient for healthy flawless skin is vitamins. Value of Vitamins Add vitamins to your daily routine. May people in the world are deficient in one vitamin or another. Vitamins do tons of wonders for us and our bodies. Vitamins help grow and repair our bodies in so many ways we do not see or recognize. Taking vitamins helps you try to maintain a healthy balance in your body, because you are getting the healthy supplements you need. You will see your skin begin to show a natural glow. A glow that no bronzer or make up can give you. If you continued on a daily vitamin regimen, you should begin to see your skin brighten in its own natural way. Day & Night Wash The next step to a "clean and clear" face is to wash your face daily morning and night. Washing your face helps to remove dirt and dead skin cells that is on your face. When you don't wash your face, the dirt and dead skin cells build upon your face clogging your pores, in which they cannot breathe, resulting into an unhappy pimpled face. Your pores need to breathe just as you do. Remember, you can not be lazy on this step. Most people begin the routine of washing their face daily, morning and night, but then they slowly discontinue the process and ask themselves a few days later, "Why isn't my skin clear?" It's not clear because you stopped your regimen! If you are saying to yourself right now, "Ugh, I don't have enough time." or "It is too much effort.", then you will not see the best results. The Best Cleanser wash your face morning and night with a face cleanser. best type of face cleanser that is for you. A face cleanser may work for your friend but not for you, because everyone's face is different. Do some thorough research for the skin type you have and the types of face cleansers you could use. Once you have found some face cleansers, it's time to begin to try them out to see if it will help you. It is understandable that you are in a hurry to achieve a flawless look but don't use the cleanser for two days and then toss it away because you assume it doesn't work for you. You should continuously use the cleanser for a minimum of 4 weeks, to determine if you see some improvement or not. Make sure that you are washing your face morning and night or washing your face as the directions on the cleanser tells you to. Be diligent and you will be happy with your results. Moisturize, Moisturize, & Moisturize Moisturizing your face is another important step to achieving flawless skin. Moisturizing your face helps to keep your skin from drying up and also keeps your skin nice and soft.  It is best to moisturize your face with something that is oil free and fragrant free. Again do thorough research on the type of moisturizer you should purchase for your skin type. You are what you think, you are what you do, and you are what you eat. To obtain flawless skin you have to watch what you eat. Eating a lot of oily and greasy foods can lead to an increase of breakouts on your face. Begin to eat healthier one day at a time to improve your diet. A healthy diet produces healthy skin, and healthy skin dramatically increases your chances of having flawless skin. We're all hoping for it to come soon.  The warm weather, shining sun and the cool breeze. It's such a great time of the year. With the seasons changing, our wardrobes change along with it. We begin to wear lighter clothing, flowy dresses and skirts. This year when making the transition, make it chic, savy, and playful. Tips for Dresses & Skirts Think of spring as a playful and happy type of season. Imagine how you can incorporate it into dresses and skirts. Your dresses and skirts should be feminine and playful. Be sure to wear your dresses and skirts in a manner that represents you best. You don't want to wear anything that gives the wrong impression of who you are. You are a divine being, let others treat you with respect by observing what you wear. Tips for Shirts Bright colors and pastels are in! Wear bright colored shirts that have a soft tone. The best colors to wear are pastel colors. These colors are bright but still have a soft tone to them. A good combination to use would be to wear bright colored shirts as the main base to your outfit, then add a little bit of darker colors to your outfit here and there. For example wearing a blue pastel shirt with some dark brown jewelry, or yellow pastel shirt with a dark green tank top underneath that shows a little bit of the color. Wearing blouses in the springtime is also a plus; it gives you that playful feel which works well in the spring. Make sure to mix the colors, picking shades that work well together, other wise it could lead to a big wardrobe disaster. Tips for Wearing Sandals Another great plus during the warmer weather is the ability to wear sandals. Bright colors on toenails do not quite fit in with the spring season. So save those bright color nail polish for the summer time. During the springtime wear neutral deep colors that will give a nice finish. For example nice plum color or forest green or deep blue will work. Colors like these will give a good balance to the rest of your spring outfit. Knowing Your Seasons When looking in the closet to select your wardrobe, ask yourself, "Does this work for the feel of spring?" Get into the habit of knowing what will work and what does not work for different seasons of the year. Every season you can look fantastic and chic! Start now to get in the rhythm of knowing what to wear each season. declare your summer independence from blow dryers, straighteners, and curling irons today. It's difficult to maintain heat-it-to-achieve-it styles in the summer. The sun is scorching hot and washing your hair becomes more frequent. Thermal styling tools can give you an instant look, but constant heat styling can thin and damage natural, color- and chemically-treated hair.  Let your hair cool off by trying alternative no- to- low heat methods for volume, texture, or sleekness. .Flip your hair upside down using a paddle brush, smoothing the back of your hair from the nape to the front (Optional: For extra hold, lightly spritz your hair with alcohol-free hairspray) When you use your heat styling tools less, your strands get a chance to breathe. Challenge yourself to give up heat for two weeks and evaluate your hair.  If it hasn't been severely damaged by heat, you may notice that your hair looks and feels healthier and stronger. Each low-to-no heat method requires less stress on your hair and an overall healthy approach to your styling routine. Spend the rest of summer working on your tan, and not your hair. Eliminate Puffy Eyes Before you wash your face in the mornings, use a cue tip to lightly dab a very small amount of aloe vera gel (revered for its healing, anti-inflammatory, and cooling properties) over your eyes. Leave the gel on your eyes for five to ten minutes and then wash your face with your regular cleanser. You will you feel instantly refreshed and your eyes will look brighter and more youthful. The late-night puffiness around your eyes will begin to disappear. Good morning, Sunshine! Banish Rough Skin To remedy dry and cracked skin, formulate your own brown sugar scrub body treatment. The natural glycolic acid found in sugar works to gently slough off dead skin cells to reveal brighter skin. massage your sugar scrub to dampened skin. To lock in moisture, towel-pat dry and apply your lotion while your skin is slightly damp. Save your skin from damaging sun rays with a generous amount of sunscreen. Nothing can wreak havoc on your skin like sun damage. a sunscreen with SPF 15 may allow you to stay in the sun for 150 minutes without getting burned. However, even if you use sunscreen, try to chill in the shade for most of the day and feel fabulous in a big floppy hat for maximum skin protection. Your hair may be fighting the common hair cold right now- dryness, breakage, and dullness- due to the harsh weather. balance of protein and moisture in your hair. When the moisture and protein levels in your hair are in sync, you will notice less breakage, length retention, and an overall increase in the health of your hair. If your hair is hard, rough, or brittle you may need a deep conditioning treatment. This will help you restore softness to your hair and smooth your cuticle, the outermost layer of your hair strand.  When applying a deep conditioning treatment, try to use a conditioner that is water-based and contains at least one humectant.  Any product that lists humectants- propylene glycol, honey, glycerin- and water at the top of their ingredient list will work best to help your hair stay soft and moisturized. No More Weather Hair Worries When rain arrives unexpectedly, you aren't running to find shelter or making a make-shift umbrella out of a newspaper or your purse. You can play in the rain without worrying about you kinky hair getting ruined. Even in humidity, you can tie your hair back and let the humidity amplify your curls and get unbelievable volume. Curly girls who don't enjoy frizz or undefined curls can still leave the house and venture into high-humidity weather. Just be sure to apply a silicone-free styling serum on dry hair to keep your curls in sync. Your Facial Features Pop Some women with more traditional African features -full lips, broad nose, and high cheekbones- can appear more youthful with curly hair than straight hair. Flat hair can make these facial features seem larger than they actually are, and hide its true beauty. Shorter, tightly curled hair seems to defy gravity when worn out in an Afro style. It "lifts" the face and draws more attention to the eyes and cheekbones. You Become Healthier many times have you heard, "I know I need to go to the gym, but I don't want to mess up my hair"? When you wear your hair curly, you don't have to make the choice of having either a great head of hair or a great body. Let's be honest, your hair needs more than the perfect shampoo and conditioner. To give you hair optimum health, you have to eat right and exercise. When you have naturally curly hair, you no longer worry about your hair "reverting" when you sweat from a work-out. To freshen your curls after the gym, you can water-rinse or cleanse you hair with a sulfate-free shampoo. You Can Experiment with Color When you let your natural tresses roam free and treat it with care, you can experiment with more color without worrying about double-processing your hair with chemicals or daily doses of heat. If you apply heat on a daily basis or wear a relaxer, adding another hair-altering chemical like color to the mix can be a recipe for dryness and breakage. Even with chemical-free hair, color can still be damaging.  Look for alternative and gentler coloring options like Henna or semi-permanent glosses. Maintain a healthier head of hair with color by putting the relaxer away, and treating your hair with nourishing products formulated for color-treated hair.Running to the salon every few weeks to tame those "unruly roots" is no longer your concern. Salon chemical and hair straightening services can cost upwards of fifty dollars per visit. Now that you've embraced the beauty of your bouncy ringlets, your wallet is packed with extra cash. Indulge your hair with at-home nourishing treatments using deep conditioners and essential oils. The next time you see a woman with an eye-catching hair style or lustrous curls, give her a compliment. Whether you have a spouse to give you roses or not, give yourself a love letter this month that highlights every feature you love to play up, make your hair one of your favorite features. Whether your hair is short or long, curly or straight, it is beautiful and deserves to feel loved. The New Year is your time to shine. Your hair should be no exception. If you need more products just to fake a healthy appearance from split ends, dullness, or limp hair, January may be the perfect time to start over.  A healthy hair goal can be achieved if you start with the right plan.  Trim Your Ends Get rid of split, frayed, and heat-damaged ends with a professional trim. Your hair cannot look its best when damaged ends are getting all of the attention.  A trim can be anywhere from one-fourth of an inch to two inches, depending on the amount of damage. If you are apprehensive about getting a trim, you can do minimal shaping each month. However, eventually all the damaged ends will need to be cut off. Once damaged ends are removed, your hair will instantly look fuller, smoother, and healthier. Categorize your products (shampoos, conditioners, styling crème, etc.) and select one from each that works the best for your hair. The products that you do not select can be given away to friends, thrown out, or saved for the summer time. With a simple selection of tried and true products, your hair can be pampered and nourished with the correct products that work best on your hair. Commit to a Hair Care Schedule Consistently bathe your hair in deep conditioning, hot oil, and protein treatments. Your hair type and needs will determine how often you should do each treatment. There should be a healthy balance of protein and moisture to promote softer and stronger strands. Have a trusted stylist evaluate your hair. He or she will be able to help you commit to a healthy hair care schedule and help decide what healthy hair practices would work best for you.Handle Hair with Care Now that you are fully invested into your customized healthy hair journey, be gentle to your strands. Avoid styles that pull at the scalp and edges of your hair. The corners of your eyes should not meet at your scalp line. Instead, style your hair into loose, chic ponytails and buns. Keep hair manipulation low, only using proper combs and brushes sparingly and gently to detangle and style hair. Always moisturize and protect the ends of your hair to minimize split ends.  Treat your hair with care, and it will flourish throughout the New Year. Curly hair has been called many names: beautiful, unique, unkempt, trendy, unprofessional, rebellious, romantic, lustrous, and the list goes on. Within the past five years, major hair companies have realized that curly hair is also very "marketable". When you listen to your hair and notice what it likes, your curly hair can become synonymous with another word - healthy.You are mingling at a party and in walks a bombshell in a fitted jacket, the best pair of skinny jeans you have seen, a head full of luscious curls, and a confident laugh that fills the room.  You immediately envy the stillettoed goddess.  improve your look and overall confidence.  With minor changes and implementing the following "secrets" you will have the tools to always feel confident and look and your best. Wear Your Favorite Outfit When you like what you are wearing your confidence level rises.  However, there are a few fashion tips you want to keep in mind.  Tailored waistlines on dresses or jackets create slimming effects and pencil skirts hide upper leg blemishes and highlight calves.  Black is always slimming but spice it up with red accents (scarf, shoes, jewelry).  Highlight your best feature to feel extra sexy. Hair Is Important Many women overlook the importance of a well coiffed do.  This year, to the benefit of all women, volume and curls are in.  Try using hot rollers because they are easy to use, quick, and will not damage your hair.  They create a loose curl that softens any look.  Leave your hair down.  If this drives you crazy, use a decorative clip to sweep up a side.  If you don't have rollers, use a curling iron to add volume and curls to your tresses. The Arsenal Of Beauty Secrets These are wonderful beauty weapons used by many Hollywood stars. Most women are so good at these "tricks" that the result appears to be natural. Non Make-up Wearers You are blessed to have a fresh clean look naturally.  For a special event, it is nice to wear a minimal amount of make-up for a more formal look.  If you don't wear make-up, mascara and lip-gloss will enhance your look.  Fake Eyelashes Fake eyelashes are a great way to widen the eye and create a come-hither look.  The packs with sections or individual lashes rather than the full strip are easier to apply and look more natural.  Apply them to the outer corner of your eye following the natural lash line.  It will add a little length and enhance the look of the eye. Curly hair is a commitment, a long-term relationship. It is more prone to splitting up, as in split ends. It is constantly changing its mood, one day it's a poof, then it's a tangled nightmare. Style & Class Let's face it baggy jeans, baggy t-shirts, and over-sized flannels are not stylish. Anything that may fall into that category needs to be removed from your closet now! Also remove anything that is too tight. Clothes that are too tight are never in style however, don't confuse fitted with too tight. Confidence is Fashion There is nothing more sexy to a man than a woman that walks into the room with confidence. Make sure that whatever it is your wearing you feel great in it. Whether you are running errands or going out you should always feel confident in what you are wearing. The 4 Must-Haves A fitted jacket is essential this fall. Whether you are wearing it with your dress slacks to work or with your trendy worn jeans, a fitted jacket is a must have! Fitted Jacket For the tall and slim- Military jacket For the athletic build- tattered Levi jacket For the curvy- lightweight trench Tall Boots Tall boots make heads turn. You will want to splurge on this buy and ensure that you are getting good quality. They are great for the office or for a night out on the town. For the office put on a pair of tights with a skirt and for the night out leave the tights at home. The Perfect Pair of Jeans Every woman should have a pair of jeans that shape her figure, gives her comfort and builds her confidence. For this fall go for a fitted boot cut with embellishment on the back pockets or for the tall and slim woman go with the skinny jean and tuck them in your tall boots. Large Leather Hobo Handbag With the chill in the air a large hobo is needed. It will carry all your normal hand bag items like your wallet, phone, water bottle, ect. You can put a scarf and gloves in there too. To keep it stylish go with something that has a rock star edge to it. Just remember to control the amount of rock star. Shop around for the perfect hobo for you. Remember that every woman has a unique body shape. Take the fashion forecast and make it your own. Put your own unique spin on everything that you wear and remember to just be you! Fall is a great season to try out new colors. Now that we know the models wearing the colors are not perfect, hopefully we will feel a bit more adventurous with fall trends! You are just as beautiful as these models, so embrace your uniqueness, and remember they make you who you are. You are beautiful and unique. Every laugh line that is etched on your face should be treasured, every wrinkle, and every scar should be worn with proud. All those things have made you who you are today, and with that, you should be proud. Eyeshadow, Blush, & Lipstick This season, we are seeing lots of purples and grays on lids.  These eye shadows have a ton of varying shades, so there is definitely one that is guaranteed to look fabulous on you.  Maybe even more than one!  These shades work with all eye colors, so do not be afraid to experiment.  With all the focus on eyes and lips, you can take it easy on the blush. Shoes shoes shoes fabulous shoes Shades of roses and mochas will match these shadows fabulously, and keep you looking fall fresh. For lips, try shades of berries and reds. mascara and lip-glosses.  Used mascara's can be very irritating to the delicate eye area, and lip-glosses can harbor unwanted bacteria.  Lipsticks can be cleaned with a quick swipe of alcohol.  Clean all eye shadows, swiping a tissue with alcohol over the shadow or the cream shadow.  Also be careful.
Rmaining Confident ...

The Other F word

Treasure Yourself

Seven Billion Miracles

It Begins in the Mind

Doo I Decide

A Healthy Balance of Self-Esteem

Esteem & You

Esteemed Always

REAL-lationships: The Ultimate Looking

Total Love

Your Potential is Limitless

Speaking & Living Your Truth

Dealing With Unwelcome Guests

Surrounding Success

What To Do When We Don't Match Up

TLC: The Road to Confidence

Loving Your Life

R.E.A.L.

Give Yourself Permission

March in Esteem: Pride and Confidence

This Girl Is On Fire

Walking the Lines

Know Yourself  Articles
Remaining Confident in New Environments
By: Ansa Edim
 
You started a new job and your confidence is high. After all, they hired you above all other candidates! You are in a new environment with new people and sometimes in a new city all together. A number of confidence shattering or building situations can arise. The goal in a new setting is to stay empowered and confident. Situations that challenge your confidence will arise. In those cases, below are a few great ways to recover.
 
No one is introducing themselves to me.
 
If you feel like no one has approached you the best step is not to assume they are ignoring you, but to introduce yourself. Appear approachable. After all, while this is a new environment for you, you must remember that you are shaking up an already existing environment. Those who may feel threatened by change might be weary of approaching a new person. Just accept this; it has nothing to do with your personality or your worth as an employee. Stay confident and soon they will see that you are approachable. They will eventually see the breath of fresh air you are to the company and will adapt to you and the strength you bring to the company.
 
Everyone already has their groups.
 
When you start a new job, it's true that you're entering an already organized territory. You may shake things up a bit and understanding this fact is the key to maintaining self-confidence in a new office. Other employees are already comfortable with the way things are, they like the status quo and you being new messes that up. A good way of breaking into the group is by initiating conversations that stem from what you overhear. If you hear someone commenting on a nice dress someone else is wearing, add a compliment as well. Be vocal; add your voice to the usual mix of voices in the office. Eventually, you will blend in and your opinion will not only be expected but respected. Don't shy away from stepping into conversations. Ask questions, comment often, and soon you will not feel so excluded because naturally your co-workers will begin to include you in their conversations.
 
They all keep going to lunch and not inviting me.
 
Every day around 12 noon, the usual crowds gather to head out to lunch. It may seem like everyone is headed out together, each double checking to make sure the other is going. All the while, your name has not been mentioned. No one stopped by your office to check if you wanted to go. Before you know it, you're in an empty office with an empty stomach. This can foster feelings of loneliness, abandonment and low self-esteem. You may feel like a social pariah and that no one likes you. In this situation, you have to like yourself and believe whole-heartedly that you are worth spending time with. Also take initiative and ask to join a group heading out to lunch. Be observant and selective before selecting a group in order to avoid the gossip groups, negative groups, or groups that may take more time then lunch break accommodates. Don't forget that your reputation is more important then joining any group just to fit in.
 
This situation can end one of two ways: You can have the confidence to step out of your office one afternoon while everyone is making plans and say, "Hey, are you all going out? I'd like to come!" and simply invite yourself. See how it feels to spend time with this group outside of the office, even if briefly. Do they include you? Do you enjoy your time? After all, you will have to spend time with them back at the office daily, so try not to harbor any jealousy or self-destructive feelings. If you feel excluded and hurt, either try to break into the group (as seen in the above situation) or decide that this group is not for you. It's not worth the feeling of worthlessness that comes with being excluded from a group. You know your worth, and you love yourself. What others think is of no matter. Keep your confidence up and try to find ways to enjoy your lunch hour on your own if there's no way you will be dining with co-workers anytime soon. Bring a book, run errands, or shop. Have fun!

2015 © Copyright



The Other F Word
By: Alex Bryant

What is our greatest fear as women? Is it: A. having the heel of our favorite stilettos break off on our way to that important meeting; B. passing gas in yoga class; or C. failing to balance all we are expected to do as women? While A and B are truly horrific in their own ways, lets venture to say that C trumps them both.
What is failure? Failure is an inability to perform a task(s) or function. Why is it that our ultimate goal as women is to show to the world that we can succeed no matter what? When did it become the worse thing in the world to 'fail,' to show our flaws and to declare that, heaven forbid, we are not perfect all the time after all? Let's reflect on all of our responsibilities: work, school, marriage, relationships, mothering (just to name a few). We try our hardest to keep everything afloat without smudging our eyeliner. We go out of our way to ensure that everything is in order. We study our butts off for that exam. We attend every PTA meeting and soccer practice. But what happens when we, just once, drop the ball? What happens when we don't get the promotion that we worked so hard for and anticipated getting? What's next after the break-up or divorce?

The problem with our societal views on failure is that with it comes associated feelings of shame, inadequacy, and disappointment. We need to take a stand and transform 'failure' from some devastating event that halts all progress to allowing it to become a moment of learning and embrace its usefulness and instruction. We would never have success in life if it wasn't for failure. Missing the mark the first time around leads to determination, a desire to do better, and a renewed since of strength. A little bit of failure is sometimes all we need to get us to change our perspectives and reevaluate our priorities.

Never be afraid to make mistakes or to let flaws show. No one is perfect and even though we try our best to seem so, there are going to be times where we 'fail.' What really matters is not that we fail but how we handle it and how we learn from it. "It's failure that gives you the proper perspective on success." - Ellen DeGeneres. Failure is a necessary stepping stone to achieving our dreams. The only time we truly 'fail' is when we let it stop us in our tracks and become too afraid to try again.

So here's to a blissful year full of wonderful 'failures'.

2
015 © Copyright



Seven Billion Miracles
By:Deanne Brown

The chance of you being born is one in four hundred trillion. That makes you a miracle, an event so unlikely it borders on the almost impossible. Not only are you a miracle, you are one of a kind; one of seven billion people on this planet. Unique! Distinctive! Exceptional! No one has your eyes, your smile or your style. No one has your set of talents, skills or abilities. No one has your light or your magic or that little dimple that appears on your chin when you are mad. No one! Only you! That makes you very special. And powerful!

Use your powers my friend. Practice your magic. Shine your light, radiant and bright. Do not store it away, hide it in the back of the closet or leave it out to dry. Do not let someone steal it from you or put it to shame. It is yours and yours alone! You own it. So, own it with all your might. Own it and put it to good use, to illuminate the dark, to illuminate you, to illuminate the world.
Spread your brilliant rays of warmth and joy and love into your home, your workplace, your schools, your community, across the plains, and over the mountains from sea to shining sea. Share, contribute and distribute!

For it takes a village. People helping people! Do your part. Add to the fire. Stoke it higher. Whether you add a small piece of kindle, a newspaper clipping, an old log or an entire tree, throw it in. Watch it ignite in all its glory. See how it grows. Feel the heat. Follow the burning embers as they rise and catch a ride on the wind; spreading, scattering, thriving. Be the log. Be the fire. Be the wind.

Be all that you can be, as one, two, or three, for we are all in this together. You are part of a bigger picture, a joint venture, a partnership, that is larger than yourself. You belong!  You belong to the seven billion people, you are a piece of an incredible network; a complex system that is only as good as its individual parts.

And each part has something extraordinary to give. So go ahead and give, invest and devote a little bit of your quirky little self to the cacophony of other quirky little selves. Then listen. Listen to the most spectacular of harmonies as they resonate across this planet.

You have a voice. Find it my friends and sing. Sing your heart out. You can't sing you say. Yes, you can! You are capable. Actually, you are more than capable and more capable than you know. You would absolutely astound yourself if you did everything you are capable of doing. 
So astound yourself! Show what you are made of.  Show the world how strong and clever and brave you are. Show us your reds and yellows and oranges. Show us your violets and hues of blues. Because when you show your true colors, when you reveal the real you, you open a space for others to do the same.

And you love them anyway. That is true compassion, to love in "spite of."  Compassion literally means to suffer together; together collectively dealing with our pain. If you can be the compassion you want to see in the world, the world will become the compassion you want to see.
Remember these words this holiday season when life becomes overwhelming, and it will. Know that it is within these difficult moments, when life comes crushing down on you, that you will find the compassion you want to see in the world. For it is impossible to wake up to your own light and the light of others without suffering. But, do not anesthetize the pain with alcohol, stuff it with food, banish it or bury it. Let it rise to the surface. Bring it to consciousness and feel. Feel it and embrace it.

Once you have embraced it, you will be able to let it go. When you let go, that light you were born with will shine even brighter. Letting go is both beautiful and humbling, an experience that will set you free. So, set yourself free my friend. Free to live, free to give and free to love like Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha combined. To love from your heart, fully and compassionately, to love as if you are a miracle, because you are a miracle! Namaste.

2014 © Copyright


It Begins with the Mind
By: Musu Bangura
 
So many things in life begin with the mind. It's where ideas are born, where dreams are made and where visions are launched. There are visual, auditory and tangible entrances into the mind which is why it needs great care.  When was the last time you heard or saw something that boosted your thoughts about yourself? Far too often, negativity often dominates what many people think of themselves. Maintaining a healthy state of mind can be challenging when it comes to day to day living, but it's something that is possible and should be practiced more often.

The Channels
When it comes to taking care of the mind, one is also taking care of themselves; their well-being. Every day we come across images and sounds that have a direct effect on our minds and our confidence levels. It's amazing how the smallest things make a huge difference in one's state of mind. What we see, hear and entertain will have an ultimate impact on where our minds can take us - which is why we all must take care of our minds. Guard the mind from what it see and hears. What you put before your eyes is automatically engrained into the mind. Words, pictures, images; if these things are negative, not only does your heart suffer, but your mind does as well. These factors can come from what you watch on TV or what your best friend has a habit of telling you. Be careful with what you let in and what you entertain.

Face Reality and Embrace
Nothing consumes more energy from a person than building up a false sense of self in their mind. After years and years of living a lie or not dealing with reality, the mind actually becomes exhausted. As a result, self-esteem can take a major blow. This is especially common because of today's society which consists of false lifestyles and misperceptions of success and self-love. Constantly feeding the brain of these negative images doesn't help deal with reality at all. When was the last time you really looked at yourself in the mirror? Is it too difficult that you just end up turning away? It's not as bad as it may seem because no one is perfect. We all have our shortcomings and undesirable traits. It's a matter of facing oneself and dealing with the major issues that have taken a hold of your self-confidence and happiness. The smallest steps can make a difference; look at yourself in the mirror a few more seconds than usual. Write down the good qualities about yourself and include any goals you want to achieve in the near future. Also, it's important to surround yourself with those who have positive energy to offer into your life. All of these things make a huge difference in esteeming your mind and building it up for the better.

Don't be Afraid to Start Over
If you've made a decision to heal your mind, it just might mean making some drastic changes. This is why adversity in life can be a good thing. Not only can you get a fresh start, but you can make permanent changes that will help you feel better about yourself - starting with the well-being of your mind. Filtering out the negativity may mean changing what you read or watch, even the conversations you engage in. But it starts within; spending a few extra minutes in the mirror and embracing what you see can be achieved with a few words of positivity. Doing things you may have never done before can be awkward, but also exciting as your start out with a mind that's determined to see things change for the better.

Published November 2
014 © Copyright


Doo I Decide
By: Alex Bryant
 
Imagine cutting off all of your hair into a really short buzz-cut. You may see this new look as no big deal. However, most women don't always think that way. We can be so attached to our hair. We usually believe that it is the primary feature that defined us as beautiful, that defined us as womanly. Without hair, some of us think that we will be viewed as less attractive and, even worst, different.

Yet as we build self-worth and esteem, we become more and more cognizant of how truly independent outer characteristics are of inner-beauty. There are many women who are gorgeous according to societal standards but exude ugly personalities. There are also ladies who may not fall under the category for what is typically defined as desirable but are some of the most generous individuals. As we learn about true beauty, we begin to rely less and less on our physical characteristics to define us as a person and began to realize that it is the substance of our character that shapes us. As we evolve, the notion of cutting our hair off, which may have once been an unfathomable decision, should increasingly become a realistic option. We should love ourselves regardless of our image.

Although after a dramatic image change we may receive comments that may not be to our liking, the comments that are positive and nourishing also are present. Some folks will love our new change. Focusing on the compliments nourishes us and allows us to see that physical appears is just a preference that is admired and liked by some people and not by other people. It is never a definition of us. Despite various reactions we may receive about our image, love your hair, your body, yourself. Remember that the world around you does not get to categorize you as beautiful; you have to set the terms for how you see beauty in yourself.

Do not allow what someone else may think or say influence the decisions you choose to make for yourself. Have the confidence in yourself to take healthy risks and to get outside of your comfort zone. At the end of the day, you are the one who shapes your future through the choices you make, so make it a bright one.

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A Healthy Balance of Self-Esteem
By: Alex Bryant

Balance: it's what keeps us from leaning too far to the left or right. Without it, we would walk around as topsy-turvy vertigo sufferers, striving for a sense of physical stability. This gravitational force manifests in our lives through the way we view ourselves. How detrimental it would be to look in the mirror and have a perfectly beautiful woman staring back at you yet you see only her imperfections. Equally unfavorable is to perceive the same wondrous reflection as someone who is better than everyone else in the world. Balancing and maintaining a healthy self-esteem means finding the medium between the evil extremes of self-deprecation and conceit.

For those whose sense of self-worth fails to mirror who we truly are (beautiful, strong, and intelligent), it may seem that each conversation in which we engage ourselves occurs in a space of a verbal boxing ring. I got a D on that paper. I can't do anything right. Why can't I be smart like my other classmates? My boyfriend cheated on me again. It's because I'm not skinny or pretty enough to compete with her. Why is it so difficult to brush off life circumstances as unfortunate events rather than attribute them to our worth as human beings? We become locked in an unhealthy cycle when we fail to see ourselves through the lenses of truth and rather look through our distorted spectacles of negative thinking.

Let's not overlook the other side of the spectrum: those who may possess an inflated view of their awesomeness. Some of us may take the phrase hold your head up high overboard by interpreting it as hold your head up high while looking down on others. Can anyone identify with these statements: Man, I look so good today. I look soooo much better her. She can't get an A on that paper? Guess everyone can't be as smart as me, I am a genius! Don't get me wrong, there is no harm in thinking that you are the greatest thing since sliced bread; because you are. The problem arises when our quest for self-love brings down others along the way. Often times, to criticize and bring to light the faults in others is a tactic to bring up ourselves, another unhealthy habit.

A genuinely healthy self-esteem focuses on appreciating ourselves in all our strengths and weaknesses without comparing ourselves to others. Keep self-esteem, as the word would insinuate, to yourself. There is no need to be preoccupied with others so much to the point where we lose focus on our own development. As we strive for wholeness in other aspects of our lives-physical fitness, healthy eating habits, and mental health-let's not neglect the health of our self-esteem in the process.

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Esteem & You
By: Nancy A. Copen-Newman

"To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are." - Sven Goran Erikkson

For many, their self-esteem comes from a false sense of self. Think about how many times we hide our true selves or witness it in others. It's not that we don't love ourselves but at various stages in our lives our sense of self-esteem changes and what provided esteem before may no longer provide that same feeling it had in the past. It may be that we matured or that different people come and go in our lives and that changes how we see ourselves and the world around us. The people around us influence our thoughts and actions - sometimes good, sometime bad - but it is an influence on our psyche in some way, therefore having an impact on our self-esteem.

Self-esteem does not come from name brand labels. While they may look beautiful and we feel great wearing the outfit. The outfit does not mask the real person hiding under the clothes. Self-esteem can only come from within and its knowing that you feel good because of who you are; your qualities, honor, and integrity, not the outward appearances of materialistic items. It's knowing you look just as good in the $500 outfit as you do in the $50 outfit because you're confident based on you, the person, not the things.

In addition, there is a correlation of self-esteem and decisions. When you have self-love you make good decisions because you know your worth and want to treat yourself with the upmost respect. You care for yourself. This is when you see yourself taking risks, maintaining high energy levels, stepping outside your comfort zone and working harder to do your best. The correlation of low self-esteem equates to poor decisions or at a minimum playing it safe and maybe not following our heart because of our low esteem and that mindset of negativity. We don't intentionally derail ourselves or sabotage our goals but it's a lot harder to stay focused and motivated when we don't feel good about ourselves.

You know you've arrived at a state of healthy self-esteem when you love yourself unconditionally just as you are, without comparing yourself to others, and define yourself by your character not your job, status, image and things. Striving to become your best and reach your potential. This is what we should all aspire to be; ourselves, with all our imperfections but abundant with self-esteem from the inside out.

Published July 2
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Esteemed Always
By: Alex Bryant

Have you ever noticed the plethora of women's campaign which end in -er? Get thinner! Look younger! Feel sexier! Be better! These campaigns are typically accompanied by photos of women donning unrealistic expectations of how society defines what sexy, young, and better should look like and (surprise, surprise) the models in these ads rarely look like you and I. There always seem to be images and dialogue surrounding us to constantly insinuate, 'Sorry honey, but you're just not good enough.'

It's not uncommon for us as ladies to begin comparing ourselves to these so-called societal expectations and, unless we were born human Barbie dolls, we fail to live up to the fit models in the magazines or the superstars with their perfectly beach-blonde hair. We may begin to possess feelings of inadequacy and start buying these advertised products with hopes that they will change us from who we are to who we want to be. We think that once we achieve this 'cultural definition of beauty' we will finally be complete and lack nothing. On the contrary, we will always be encumbered by reminders that no matter how good we think we are, there is always something that can make us [insert -er ending here].

What was so wrong with each of us in the first place for the world around us to feel like we needed to be better? Is it daring to conceive the idea that we are perfect exactly the way that we are and don't need outside influences to define us? The thought alone seems blasphemes. Yet the only way to stick it to these campaigns and create a pressure-free future for our daughters is to learn to love ourselves just the way we are, flaws and all. So what if I don't weigh the same as a runway supermodel, my boyfriend happens to like a woman with curves. Yes I have a couple wrinkles, I consider them a rite of passage and an indication of all the wisdom I've acquired throughout the years. 

Once we stop chasing after falsehoods which we believe will make us happy and be content with where we are now, we free ourselves from the chains of letting others carve our self-image. When we focus on loving ourselves for who we are right now in this very moment, that acceptance alone is enough to trump any -er ending.

Published April 2
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REAL-lationships: The Ultimate Looking Glass
By: Asha T'nae

Everywhere relationships are being advertised, sold, bartered, remixed, marketed and depicted to match the glitz of the digital age (where everything is fast, fancy, and fleeting). Relationships are less about relating, and more about clashing with others in a dizzying, adrenalin-inducing cacophonous manner. Emotions fly. Drama is labeled as passion. Respect is a mere notion. We are consistently urged to look outside of ourselves for fulfillment and happiness, connection and intimacy.

But what of REAL-lationships-a space where we connect and interact from a heart-centered space with all aspects of our world-ourselves, people, places, things, ideas? How do we release the fetters of fallacious relationship philosophies promoted in the media to experience new dimensions of REAL-lationships?

Here's a truth: the foundation for all REAL-lationships is YOU. In fact, REAL-lationships are "the ultimate looking glass." Whatever we experience in the world is simply a reflection of our own selves, and provides more information about us than the one(s) supposedly causing/creating the situation. This looking glass can reveal our blind spots, and challenge us to grow in amazing ways. Here are 5 new ways REAL-lationships can help clarify your reflection.

REAL-lationships are best built on a foundation of abundance, not lack. Many times, the desire to fill a void may be the driving force behind the decision to enter a relationship; however, we usually find ourselves zapping the other person or deeply dissatisfied with their humanity when we realize that no one can give us what must be cultivated from within.

REAL-lationships value response-ability over re-action. Response-ability is taking ownership over our feelings rather than blaming others. It's a mindful or heart-centered response from a place of clarity rather than compulsiveness, unruly emotions (reactions). Response-ability can separate fact from feeling.

REAL-lationships replace expectation with acceptance. Once in a space of abundance and response-ability, one begins to erase expectations. Instead, a keen observation is employed, which allows one to see others as they are rather than as we wish they would be. From this stance, a wise decision can be made as to how we should progress.

Real-ationships differentiate connection from attachment. Connections are rooted in the choice to be vulnerable, truthful, and present, while attachment is a type of unconscious over-reliance on another for our own comfort and emotional stability. There is usually both aspects in a real-lationship; knowing the difference can help us remain aware of how much of each we are employing. 

REAL-lationships are not about possession. No one belongs to anyone except themselves. We cannot own, belong to, or control another and all attempts to do so undermine the cultivation of authentic security. Commitment must be a choice made from a spirit of freedom and love, not fear; otherwise, resentment is sure to ensue and self-betrayal is already present.

Use your REAL-lationships as an opportunity to see and grow yourself to be better for yourself. These sacred connections are opportunities for growth and development as spiritual beings having a human experience.

Published March
2014 © Copyright




Total Love
By: Asha T'nae

'Cause all of me, loves all of you/love your curves and all your edges/all your perfect imperfections… ~ John Legend

Love songs often induce a euphoric daydream of being loved completely. With the New Year comes either the hope of experiencing this love for the first time or again (but more beautifully than before). Whether with optimism or longing (or both), we believe something magical will happen once the ball drops, and we find ourselves--eyes closed, heavy breathing desiring this wish to come true.

But why wait? Why not accept who you are where you are now? Why not give yourself the very thing you seek? After all, the ball's in your court.

Sufi poet, Rumi, wisely surmised, "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." One of the greatest barriers to experiencing love within and without is self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is the gate through which love passes.

Without it, one is blind and numb to the omnipresence of love. Self-acceptance goes beyond who we believe ourselves to be to the depths of who we truly are: flaws and all. Self-acceptance wraps a compassionate arm around our shadows, deeming them not only  lovable, but also necessary for our full actualization.

Here are 5 tips to guide you on your journey to accepting yourself and giving yourself the love you've always wanted and rightfully deserve.

1.
Self-acceptance is. Many confuse acceptance with approval. While we may have parts of ourselves that we long to change, we can still accept and honor them as beautiful parts of our beautiful whole. Acceptance is not about liking something, but sharing the light of tenderness with every part of ourselves knowing it is worthy.

2.
Embrace conflict. When we embrace conflict, we see it as an opportunity for us to look inward lovingly and see how we can grow in order to create peace in the present. This inward reflection deepens our self-acceptance because the more we see into ourselves, the further we can extend our acceptance of ourselves. Remember that all external conflict is a reflection of the conflict within. Self-acceptance reduces conflict.

3.
From judgment to compassion. Judgment places a value on something (or someone) rather than remaining objective as a witness. A great way to accept ourselves is to begin accepting others as they are without criticism or judgment. In this way, we become compassionate--trusting that others, like us, are on a journey to completion and wholeness. Many wise persons say that we judge in others that which we have not completely accepted in ourselves. If you seek to find a seed of what you judge in others within yourself, you will also increase your capacity for compassion, thereby creating more space for self-acceptance within.

4.
The softening. Self-acceptance requires melting into what is rather than resisting it. As you soften to the present moment, you stop distracting yourself with compulsive planning for the future or habitual replaying of the past. Softening asks that you do less and notice more, and then breathe into whatever you notice.

5.
Gratitude. Being grateful is the true measure of how much you accept yourself and all of the things in your life. There's an adage that says gratitude precedes happiness. As you employ the previous four practices, you begin to give thanks for the beauty in ALL of your complexity because you know from experience that it is the building block for your higher evolution.


Published February
2014 © Copyright



Speaking & Living Your Truth
By: Adrie Newman

As a person moving through life in search of our desires, completing goals, and fulfilling needs it may become necessary to carry out many roles. Occasionally we might convince ourselves that these roles are actually different lives, which can require a specific approach to maintain and generate success. When recognizing this need throughout our lives, it is important that we remember to act and speak truthfully. It may seem easier to limit the scope of our words and actions by fabricating the attitude that truth is relative to the situations we face, regardless of other circumstances in our lives but this is wrong. We must often struggle, sometimes fiendishly, to build the foundation of our current and future endeavors. We must understand that the sum of our efforts toward our endeavors is most memorably identified by the results adorned by how we faced each challenge.

Speaking the truth may seem easy, but we are confronted by questions and conversations on a daily basis. We may not see the ramifications of our words in an immediate sense or dramatic portrayal so following a rule of truth is most important.  It should be safe to say that we all know, lying to someone or yourself is detrimental.  We are addressing at this moment what can be described as a situational or half-truth.  When a comment is made regarding a particular topic, many of us have been taught to speak objectively.  Speaking objectively is often kind, but when we say something without believing in what we have said this can result in a backlash.  Objectivity and logical stances are a safe method for avoiding confrontation, except that this removes a part of our passion and individual personality regarding a particular topic.  Life is complicated enough, so the best method when speaking is to offer the truth as we believe it.  We may not share the same understanding as the person we are conversing with but we will be given a chance to speak our minds and later reflect on the opinions of others.

Take a moment to imagine that we are walking down a street trying to get home.  If we know that it takes three blocks north, two west, and another north from the theatre to get to our house then heading south and east may eventually get us there but we will have worked a lot harder and taken longer to get home.  Acting out a lie is similar to the situation we just described, so unless we are looking for an adventure it would simply waste time and energy to take this route.  Living our truth can be a struggle if we have chosen to fight against our strengths and are trying to rely on our weaknesses to support us.  Our key to success and happiness is found by recognizing and embracing our strengths.  When we are using the strengths we possess to the best of our ability we will find that our lives are more stable, leaving us free time to explore and find adventure.  We should not fear our abilities and must show ourselves respect by pushing the limits of our understanding.  Using our truth of purpose to obtain our desires and complete our goals will fulfill our needs and fortify our lives while paving the way for our success. The road we pave for ourselves in this fashion will be sturdy and real because it is made with our inner truth.

We now know that truth is the best course of action and can set us free from distraction. It protects us from accidentally lying or providing half-truths.  Speaking and living our personal truth will not always be easy but eventually allows us to be natural leaders in our unfaltering strength on conviction. By making ourselves an example of truth we will be recognized and sought after by those around us.  While following the path of truth is empowering and liberating, it is important to remember that speaking or acting the truth should never be taken advantage of or thought of as a reason to be rude or hurtful to another person through harsh tones or violence. Instead we should focus on using it as a tool for personal positive growth for ourselves and others. If we let the light of our truth shine gently, we can show others that truth does not have to be painful or scary. It can be the light to guide the way.

Published December 2013 © Copyright


Dealing With Unwelcome Guests
By: Jeanine DeHoney

     Have you ever had an unwelcome guest? Not a nosy neighbor or solicitor trying to sell you something, but an unwelcome guest of your soul. Undesirable emotions such as hurt, fear, self-doubt and negativity are often those unwelcome guests that consistently knock on our door. Sometimes they show up in the morning just before we start our day and sometimes they show up at night preventing causing us to toss and turn. They are stubborn and hard to shake off so we entertain them instead of kicking them out of our lives. When we do this though we stunt our emotional growth, our visions and our dreams. So if you have had that dreaded knock on your door from a few unwelcome guests, here are some helpful tips to keep them at bay. 
     Don't reprimand yourself for having let these unwelcome guests in. These unwelcome guests slip into your life knowing that you already have seeds of vulnerability planted in you. As you become stronger, wiser, and more secure you will not be such a pawn for their tactics and they will eventually leave your spirit.
     Remember that your unwelcome guests will loathe any therapeutic help you seek. They want you to remain fearful, uninspired, and unconfident. When you choose to do restorative things such as praying, journaling, getting counseling, reading inspirational books, etc. to work through your issues, your unwelcome guests will find another home to live in.
     Don't be timid. You need a warrior spirit to quiet the chitchat of these unwelcome guests. Let your unwelcome guests know you are no longer a pushover. Let your unwelcome guests know that you are not the person they say you are. Counter every negative word with something positive about yourself. Try using words like no matter what you say I'm awesome, beautiful, loveable. Try singing the lyrics to Mary J Blige's song, "Just Fine." The second verse especially is inspiring, and will override the words of unwelcome guests:
"So I like what I see when I'm looking at me, When I'm walking past the mirror. No stress through the night, at a time in my life, Ain't worried about if you feel it Got my head on straight, I got my mind right, I aint gonna let you kill it You see I wouldn't change my life, my life's just….. Fine…"
    Let your family and close friends know you are having difficulty dealing with these unwelcome guests so that they can link with you to be a positive force against them. Ask your family members and close friends to be your backup team. This may mean that someone calls you and encourages you not to give up on earning your college degree, or someone reminds you how talented you are and to follow your dream to become a fashion designer.
     Close your eyes and imagine how your life would be without these unwelcome guests sitting on your couch. Would you be more buoyant if you didn't have the guest of low self-esteem on your couch? Would you laugh more if the guest of depression wasn't sitting at your kitchen table? Would you take that job in Paris if the guest of apprehension wasn't hovering over you? Create a fresh, new imagery for your life devoid of these trifling guests. 
     Keep a schedule for the important things, the things you are passionate about in your life. A schedule will help you craft a better you. Start with thirty uninterrupted minutes each day to focus on your goals whether it is studying for your college exams, writing your young adult novel, on searching the web for places to audition, etc.    
     Exercise, play a game of tennis, take a walk with a close friend, ride your bike. Exercise is a great way to feel good about your body and soul and counter the destructive words of unwelcome guests.
    Finally, safeguard your spirit so these unwelcome guests won't revisit. Some ways to create a barrier between you and them is to create loving rituals for yourself, prioritize your needs, remove yourself from negative circles of people, and to focus on your pluses, your potential and most of all your blessings.

Published November 2013 © Copyright



Surrounding Success
By: Adrie Newman

The journey to creating a strong and empowered self is not an easy one. It often is filled with trips, stumbles, and sometimes getting lost. Once we go through the difficult task of defining what it is that we want to do and what we want to be about, we still have to figure out how to develop and implement a plan of action. Many times we fight to find the motivation to keep going forward on our daily struggle to achieve our personal goals. Sometimes it feels like we are losing our inner fight. When times like this happen, we search to find sources of motivation from things outside of ourselves. Something we can hold onto. Something that will help us get through.

When looking at the things and people that we can choose to surround ourselves with, there are a lot of options to select from. Not all of the options available will provide the same benefits. There are plenty of people that may be comfortable to hang around with and easy to get along with but don't necessarily behave in a way that is supportive of moving forward in personal goal growth. Being comfortable is not what success and achievement is about. Success and achievement is about developing personal drive and inner passion. Outside influences can either keep you comfortable where you are, or spark your internal passion for achievement. This is why it is important to be selective in what and whom we choose as outside influences.

It takes a measure of personal sacrifice to choose to be challenged, but the rewards can prove to be well worth the effort. By accepting a challenge you will instantly feel a spark of motivation and it can sometimes carry you to achieve your goal but as the task become more complicated and sometimes lengthy it might seem easier to set it aside or focus on something else and the worst case, to give up. Giving up should never be an option for the challenges we accept and the success of your trials can be positively influenced by those around you who are recognized for finding the courage to push through and reach their goals setting examples and raising their lives to a new level.

Each of us is responsible for creating an enriching and empowering environment for ourselves. One of the easiest ways to do this is by surrounding yourself with the people that will motivate you. Another way is to look forward to the future. Surrounding yourself with people that promote a sense of ambition, confidence and a positive attitude provides not only the support you need to keep moving forward in your daily goals, but also can foster a sense of personal challenge to at least maintain your standards as high as those around you, if not higher. The people we choose as our frequent associations are key in developing further the traits of success and confidence. Choose to surround yourself with successful people, and you to will begin to share those traits!

Published October 2013 © Copyright


What To Do When We Don't Match Up
By: M.B. Dominic

We can all remember that one performer that we idolized as children. The actor whose films we would watch constantly, reciting each line, or the musician whose music videos we would memorize and perform the choreography to in our rooms. These cultural figures, whoever they might have been for each of us, have a huge impact on how we understand beauty, value, and most importantly our self-worth. For many of us, the cultural icons who we might gravitate toward are not "like" us. That is to say that, not only do these icons have financial and social resources that many of us dream of, but most of them do not look like we do.

Given, many of us accept that we will not live lives that are similar to our idols; we are not going to be performing onstage in front in millions of people wearing expensive and outrageous costumes, or buying multiple houses on tropical islands. However, we still place an importance, even subconsciously, on how closely we come to physically resembling these famous figures. While aspiring to be like a particular idol is not necessarily bad, when we begin to examine the physical appearance of many of the more famous celebrities, we can note a definite trend: more often than not, there are beauty standards at play that place value on particular features which only represent small portions of the population.

The standard of "conventional" beauty that pervades much of the media is one which values body thinness, certain skin colors and hair, and various other traits that are fairly exclusive to only small margin of us. The problem with idolizing only the physical features of many popular figures is that we can become highly critical of the ways that we lack those features. We spend our lives seeing very specific images of beauty represented in films, television, or music. So much so, that when we do not see people that have the same features that we do (whether it means curvier figures, natural hair, or even physical disabilities) places in starring roles, we sometimes begin to see ourselves as unworthy of positive attention.

When this happens, we can become resentful, and negative toward ourselves. We start to critique even the smallest things we deem as "imperfections" and when we begin to add those imperfections up, we find ourselves unhappy with our entire self. We feel that we don't measure up to the standard that is considered "beautiful." However, the reality that we can sometimes fail to acknowledge is that human beings come in all different shapes and sizes. There is no "right" beauty or "wrong" beauty. The standards of beauty that we compare ourselves to change by location, time period, and even year to year!

So, how do we start to accept and love our idols without harboring feelings of inadequacy when we do not fit into the mold of "beauty" that they present?

Instead of pinpointing the areas where we don't physically match up to those famous figures that we admire, we should begin to ask ourselves: what it is about those figures we admire outside of just their physical appearance? It could be their humor in their interviews, or their dedication to their craft; it could be the hard work that we can see coming out in their performance, or their artistic vision. All of these traits are essential to what makes us admire certain famous figures, and yet so much of our focus is on their outward appearance.

Once we start to accept that society sets forth a very rigid standard of beauty, that we may or may not fit into, we can begin to look past the physical, and start to examine the internal spirit of our idols. We can start to find positive traits within ourselves that resemble those of the famous figures that we idolize. Taking it one small step at a time, the next time we turn on the television and see a celebrity that we adore, we can stop for a moment an ask ourselves: What is the beauty within this person that radiates out of them and makes us want to be like them? Not just externally, but internally as well.

Published September 2013 © Copyright



TLC: The Road to Confidence
By: Adrie Newman

Confidence is one of the greater keys leading to success and although people know that it is important, they often forget to express this attribute. Confidence brings its bearer a host of benefits and boosts the positive feelings experienced in their daily life. People must understand that the confidence level portrayed by an individual directly impacts the interactions they share with others. The primary element that many people fail to understand however, is how to pave for themselves a journey of true lifelong confidence. Personal tender love and care (TLC) is a critical element. Be open to learning new interpretations of confidence and how TLC will help maintain it at healthy and meaningful levels.

True Love & Acceptance
First it is important to accept that providing TLC to one's self is an expression of inner appreciation and respect. It is a way of acknowledging personal value and recognizing achievements. Providing one's self a steady source of encouragement is most easily found through a dedicated routine of self-evaluation coupled with steady and genuine TLC. There are several aspects relating to confidence that completely revolve around how a person sees themselves. Confidence can be discovered and unlocked through personal TLC by understanding and finding acceptance within.  The most common yet often hardest obstacle encountered when looking deep inside oneself is love and acceptance. The rare moments in life when we take those leaps giving in to faith that we are capable, willing, and worthy become the keystones of our self-confidence.

Maintain Self & Goals
TLC can and should be used in many forms for encouragement. One such way is taking the time to observe outer appearance. Our appearance is an unfortunate yet necessary characteristic that must be recognized because if we are not happy or confident in our appearances then we should not expect others to view and treat us as such. It is absolutely imperative that whichever appearance a person chooses to portray in their daily lives, it must be the appearance they are comfortable and confident in. Additionally, we must nurture and maintain confidence in our physical and mental faculties for the purpose of completing our life goals. Continued success in attaining goals will aid in developing a core confidence that can be built upon and fortified by our personal pursuits and those victories.

Build Sustainable & Lasting Confidence
Keep in mind that we are the most important person in our lives and are the greatest expert on the subject of ourselves. There is no other person that can truly provide us the TLC necessary for maintaining a healthy and persistent level of confidence. It is important to take the steps necessary to ensure one does not lose track or sight of the confidence they have worked so hard to possess. Although more fragile than one might expect, a sustainable foundation for confidence can be established that will support us the rest of our lives. Taking the time for acceptance followed by appreciation of who we are and what we are capable of, is the most important step.

Published August 2013 © Copyright



Loving Your Life
By: Asha T'nae

Do you know where you're going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?*

Have you discovered the secret to life? Have you found the fountain of youth or the path paved in gold? Where is your golden ticket? Is your thirst quenched? Have you felt the pulse beneath your skin and relished in the joyous miracle of life?

These questions may sound like the mere musings of a lofty romantic or optimist; still, the truth cannot be shaken--many of us are pretending to love our lives. Yet, we lack the joy required to authenticate that pretense. We are paralyzed by plans and thoughts, and so we remain lodged in a perpetual state of living in our heads only. When we speak of "loving life," usually we are referring to an idea or a fleeting feeling induced by some temporal occurrence. But there's more...

Where are you going to?...Do you know?*

At this point it's no secret that image, money, good looks, power and status are nothing more than holograms to keep us amused and distracted from the real spice of life: EXPERIENCE. The status quo would have us believe that settling into monotonous routines dictated by societal norms and imposed obligations (while coveting the seemingly-illustrious lives of the rich and famous) is our lot. But love should never be an obligation. And when we buy into that lie, we trade our birthrights for the temporal fulfillment of illusory "needs." 

There is no cookie-cutter answer or roadmap to loving the life you live. As Zora Neale Hurston writes in her classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, "Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. ...they got tuh find out about livin' fuh theyselves." It doesn't get clearer than this: to love your life, you must LIVE your life. To live, you must experience. And to have a fully rich experience, you must make a courageous choice to feel your truth, and act on it.

Do you get what you're hoping for when you look behind your bedroom's open door? What are you looking for?*

Life is a canvas to paint; decorate it according to your soul's vision. Life is an open-ended question that invites you to live its ever-elusive answer. Life is less about knowing, and more about surrendering to the mystery. The dance between the mystery and you will produce a fire within that invokes both passion and intuition, that will shape you just as the ocean changes the shore, and is transformed.  

There is no right or wrong answer to loving life. We are all on the journey of life. Enrich your journey by being led by love and love the life you lead because that is your birthright. And beyond all, that's what the world needs.

*Note: Lyrics sampled from Diana Ross' "Do You Know?"*

Published July 2013 © Copyright



R.E.A.L.
By: Asha T'nae

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." ~Oscar Wilde

Media is the Great Pretender, concocting seemingly-desirable, illusory worlds with glamorous characters. It's how it survives. And while these images have affected every aspect of the sociology and psychology of our society (especially the women within it), we have--for the most part--been able to call it what it is: entertainment.

Until now.

Lately, it's hard to tell the real from the contrived. The popularity of "reality television" portraying the lives of housewives, hip hop stars, and "bad girls" has overridden the REAL lives of those watching. These "reality" shows have created a virtual reality epidemic as life often mimics art (and media). As more women adjust their values (and looks) to match those on the big screen, they begin to lose sight of who they truly are.

It's no surprise how many women have succumbed to the allure of being a virtual reality star--trading authenticity for likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter, settling on being the very best copyright infringement of their beloved media idols. The more we construct this alternate reality to portray the person we want others to believe we are, the dimmer our own lights become.

Who are we really underneath it all? Are we simply contentious, money-hungry, attention-seeking, insecure creatures vying for the short-lived glitz? Are we always made up, always looking and feeling good? Are we so vain that we must post statements to evoke responses from others? Or are we more? Will we allow characters on a set to dictate how we greet real life, or will we take a stand?

It's time for us to re-define "real." It's time for us to reclaim our lives and esteem. It's time for us to once again define what reality is for us by LIVING rather than passively observing simulated life on a screen. It's time for us to stop allowing the media world to brainwash us with its flat characters and overstated banality.

Have you ever noticed the simple magnificence nature holds? With the exception of humans, all of creation exudes a being that quiets the most restless of souls. Dogwood trees aren't trying to be mountains; tigers aren't competing with squirrels. Everything is in its divine place, and each is beautiful in its own right. We seek out parks, beaches, mountains and rainforests to remind us of what "real" is.

Here's another question: have you been in the presence of a person who evoked the same breathtaking response? Here's a secret: you in your natural form are a natural wonder within yourself. There is NOTHING more stunning than the real you. No one has it all, but we all have something, and we each have everything we need to live the fullest life ever. If we spend our lives imitating others, we cheat ourselves out of the fullest life, and cheat the world of that special "something" we were meant to share. Find your something, and share it. That's the only "real" there is.

Published May 2013 © Copyright


Give Yourself Permission
By: Diana Paino-Fulton

     This journey we all are on is covered with trials, tribulations but also blessings and comfort from the One who loves us unconditionally. As we walk along the path of life and stroll in the valleys, climb the mountains and experience the garden moments, we must give ourselves permission to go on, to go forward, and to love ourselves as we are.

         This may seem so simple, not complex, and even trivial as we read this article. Now as we allow ourselves to crawl behind the shield, the mirror or the obstacles that are in our way are placed there for survival. What will we learn? What will we learn about our situation, our confidence, our purpose and our esteem? Will we be able to proclaim that we are loved by our Creator? Will we be able to just envision a glimpse of His purposes and work He has for us to do in His powerful name? Will we be able to look at ourselves with compassion, grace and mercy and start fresh from this point forward?

        Many questions before us, to match the many obstacles we have already faced or will face. But to be strong, confident and stable within our Lord we must continue with a deep conviction of who we truly are in Christ Jesus, not the world, family, or even our own eyes. We are the apple of His eye… Wow, we are special to God. Why, you may ask?

        You may hear that Jesus died for you on the cross, which is a truth and He would have done it just for you alone. Or that you have been loved and made by God. That God thought of you even before conception and has a plan, a good plan for your life. All of this is true, all of this can bring you to your knees, but all of this will not sustain you through the days ahead.

        You ask why I am so pessimistic. Jesus can hold us, protect us, and keep us… But there is more to the walk with God then this. It may be a sad and long drawn out journey of life but it will be a journey that you will never forget because of the victory that will come from it. It is a journey that will melt your heart, releasing love and compassion.

        Give yourself permission to walk, sit, ride quietly with your best friend, the Lord, to speak to Him and then remember wait, listen, hear and know His gentle, sweet still voice that will tell you just how wonderful you are to Him now and always have been.

       Give yourself permission…to hear the love…to hear the positive…to hear the good plans He has for you this day.

2013 © Copyright



March in Esteem: Becoming Pride and Confidence
By: Adrie Newman

       Many people today suffer from lack of true pride and self-confidence. This is evident in the confused and indecisive interactions people today have. The reason for this lack of clarity seems to stem from the individual fear to embrace what they as a singular person are about.  The fear to stand strong and confident in their own opinion or choice tends to lead to a constant search for approval of peers, family, and community. It is not necessarily a bad thing to be aware of and sensitive to other people's feelings, but their feelings should not be the basis for your own opinion, choice, or self-worth.  It is necessary for you to learn to embrace your own core values and self-image with pride and confidence.

       One of the things you can do that will have the greatest effect for promoting self-confidence is to make sure that you are creating a fair comparison for yourself. This is done not by comparing yourself to those around you, but instead by comparing your present self to the you of previous times in your life. This way you are truly comparing same to same.  You see, to compare yourself to someone else is not really comparing equals because they are intrinsically different than you. It is like comparing apples to oranges. You are unique and special. No one is just like you. Others have lived through different experiences and have a different set of life filters than you. No matter how closely the two of you may seem, you will always be different and therefore not a valid comparison. Apples and oranges are both fruit, but they are not the same thing.

       Another very important thing which people frequently overlook that promotes personal strength and pride is to acknowledge and reward their personal progress. Acknowledging personal achievements is important because it allows you to positively reinforce that you are capable of achieving what you set your mind to, and that you are taking fulfilling action in your life. A highly effective way to acknowledge individual achievements on a daily basis is to write in a personal journal at the end of the day before bed. In this way you are able to recap how the day went, what was achieved, how the achievements made you feel, as well as what you hope to achieve the next day. It is a good idea to also include what activity you plan to do the next day as a reward for doing such a great job today. Journaling is a fast, easy and private way to promote self-confidence.

       The way in which we carry ourselves in gait, body posture and eye gaze carries a message to both the outside world as well as reinforces a belief to our inner selves. If you stand tall and walk with a sure step and keep your head raised and eyes forward, you promote that you are confident and successful. With your head up and gaze forward you are ready to face the world and do your active part in it. By reinforcing that personal strength physiologically, you condition yourself to have the self-image of a successful person and increase the likelihood of overcoming future obstacles. Remember, success truly is an attitude.

 2013 © Copyright
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