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.
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Come From Under the Cloud
By: Diana Paino-Fulton

The sky can be so blue with the beautiful white clouds a mist. Along with the sun that will shine among these effects, one will look to the wondrous creation and feel a sense of awe and peace. It is in knowing that the creation has been released to its beauty by the Creator one finds that there is a joy, love and wholeness among nature and its beauty.

Withstanding all of this it is found that in the sky that is not so glorious, one will find the grayness, the cloud surrendering to a mass of rain, snow, storms and the array of turmoil that is happening within the sky. Even the sun has hidden itself and the clouds flattened out to not have their form.

Seeing nature turn in turmoil one can also symbolize the human heart and life. It is subject to be under the cloud with darkness among it or above the cloud, in the glorious beauty of peace and a sweet freedom released to joy. There is a question for each heart to find out and sometimes one does not even know they are in the mist of being under the cloud.

Awakened to this today, it causes one's heart to realize life and its turmoil can shift one's heart under the cloud of darkness and defeat. While our soul knows and yearns to be shifted to the force and power of the glorious beauty and peace that is from the One that holds our life in His Hand. To be awakened by the God of creation, not allowing any other force, human, or situation to place us back under the cloud ever again.

The question remains…Are you under the cloud?



How Nourished Are You?
By: Musu Bangura

What is nourishment? It is often associated with nutrition in terms of food that will give you sustenance, strength and vitality. Being nourished also has to do with having the essentials to maintain health. If one doesn't adhere to healthy eating habits, their nourishment is often affected and they're not able to function at a healthy or productive level. The same can take place in the health of your life in the emotional, spiritual and mental aspects. The key here is balance.

Self-examination
Have you really looked at the other areas of your life? Why do you react to certain things the way you do? When a baby cries out, it's for one of several reasons; he's hungry, wet, sleepy or just wants to be held. It's easy to get caught up in reacting to things, but many people often forget to sit down and ask themselves why. There could be a lack of sorts going on, especially when it comes to negative behavior. This can be harmful in friendships, relationships and even the workplace. The first step in finding out your nourishment levels is to do a self-examination by asking yourself certain questions and being honest with yourself.

Cultivate Weaker Areas
This is a very challenging area for most of us. Short tempers, low self-esteem and worry are just a few of the issues people deal with on a daily basis while many more fail to address them at all. As you do your self-examination, point out the areas you're challenged with and accept the fact that you have these challenges. The best way to handle them is one by one, one day at a time. Then, make goals as to what you want to fix and how you can go about doing that. If you want to be a more patient person, meditation is an effective technique to use. You can learn to manage emotions of fear and anxiety by meditating and accepting the fact that they are emotions that humans experience just like any other emotion. The key is to not let it control you or your situations. Finding an exercise such as meditation to do on a daily basis will help build up your weaker areas from within. As you have daily encounters with people and communicate, you'll be more conscious of your actions and will take the necessary steps to interact appropriately.

Listen
Many times, we think we have things figured out, thinking we don't need as much counsel. The fact is anyone can be used to bring a message into your life. They can bring words that will change dynamics in you that will make a world of difference. Unfortunately, when someone is talking, there is a tendency to interrupt and chime in on what the person is saying. Discipline yourself and your soul to just listen to the person. Even if you don't walk away with life-changing advice, the fact that you listened does your soul good and will help you in other important areas of communication, which of course, is always nourishing.

You also need to be aware of what you're listening to in terms of your environment. What kind of company do you keep? Do they send vibes of encouragement or constant put-downs and insults? What you let enter in plays a huge role in nourishing yourself. What you read and watch on TV also comes into play because our eyes and ears are other entry zones for nourishment. Be sure to check these pathways to make sure there's no unhealthy blockage getting in the way.

Expressions and Outlets
Perhaps the nourishment you need can't enter because you have so many blockages and walls up and in the way. Sometimes breaking those walls involves an outlet of sorts. This could mean counseling, writing, helping others or finding another healthy form of expression that will be liberating for you. Remember, building nourishment doesn't happen overnight and takes work. Make sure you're in a mindset of dedication to see a turn around with balance in your life before you embark on such a journey.

Esteem Yourself © Copyright



The Wholehearted Woman
By: Deanne Brown

"If you want to be loved, be lovable." This is a famous quote by Ovid, a Roman poet born over two thousand years ago.  It sounds simple enough but for many of us love is not so simple.  It is a complicated affair.  Many feel alone, unlovable and doubt they will ever find a partner.  In fact, many of us don't even know what it means to love ourselves.

So, what does Ovid mean to be "lovable"? The dictionary defines lovable as affectionate, inspiring, warm, dear, sweet, charming, likable, and delightful.  These are all wonderful attributes, but they are surface words.  To truly understand what it means to be lovable, one must go deeper. 
The need for love and belonging is inherent in all of us.  It is what gives us reason to get up in the morning, go to work, pursue an education, raise a family, create a work of art, or climb a mountain.  Without love and belonging we have no purpose or meaning and we suffer, all of us, men, women and children.  But, with love and belonging, with purpose and meaning, we thrive, strive and prosper. 
But how does one feel this love and belonging?  According to Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, "those who feel lovable, who love, and who experience belonging, simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging."  That's it! They feel worthy.  In fact, people who feel worthy of love also believe, "I am enough!"  They have a sense of purpose, meaning and a strong resilience to what other people think.  They do not fall victim to how others perceive them or define their self worth based on success, recognition or approval.  And, they do not attach their accomplishments to who they are.  "In other words, worthiness is not what you do, it is who you are," says Brene Brown.

We should all tattoo this across our forehead. 
The most interesting thing about this is that people who believe they are worthy, people who feel lovable, people who love, and people that experience belonging do not have easier lives.  They still suffer from the same difficulties of life as people who feel unworthy, unloved, and not lovable.  They experience financial loss, divorce, addictions, health issues, etc.  But in spite of all their suffering, they still believe they are worthy of love, they still believe they are lovable and they still believe they belong to something bigger than themselves.

The key word here is believe!  People that feel worthy have developed wonderful strategies that enable them to believe they are worthy of love and belonging.  Not only do they believe it, they cultivate and refine it every day through both their daily choices and connection to others.  Love and belonging require connection.  True connection takes courage.  And courage takes risk.  We must be willing to risk what people think of us, and have the courage to share openly, let ourselves be seen, show our imperfections, let go of our persona, be real, open, and most importantly, be vulnerable.  Because to be vulnerable is to be lovable and to be lovable is to be vulnerable. 
Vulnerability means to live with uncertainty, take risks and be emotionally exposed.  Without the courage to be vulnerable, one succumbs to shame, lives in fear and never tries something new.  This is certain death.  "We can't embrace vulnerability, if shame is suffocating our sense of worthiness," Brene Brown so brilliantly explains.  And, if we don't embrace vulnerability, we don't embrace love and belonging, of others and of ourselves.

It takes an enormous amount of courage to be vulnerable, to reach out to someone and connect at a truly human level.  But what better way to cultivate love than connecting with others.  When we let down our walls, open our hearts, share our story (our real story), sometimes requiring showing up at someone's door tattered and worn, true connection occurs!

There are some people on this planet that have no problem showing others their true selves.  It comes naturally to them.  They live from their hearts with courage and compassion.  Brene Brown calls these people "wholehearted."  They are not afraid to embarrass themselves, speak out, tell their story, put their art out there or wear their favorite pair of purple zebra striped stilettos to church.  They represent what we all aspire to be and attribute all their successes to their ability to be vulnerable.

Then there are those that have a difficult time showing their true colors.  They are worried about what others think and looking good trumps being real.  Instead of believing that vulnerability takes courage, they perceive vulnerability as weakness.  But this is not true.  Vulnerability is not weakness; quite the contrary.  Vulnerability is strength.  Vulnerability is courage.  And, vulnerability is the bravest thing any of us will ever do.

This is the best news ever because everyone has the ability to be vulnerable, everyone is worthy, and everyone can cultivate love and connection.  Maybe Ovid wasn't so far off when he said if you want to be loved, be lovable.  Because, to love, feel lovable, and experience belonging lies within each of us.  It is inside you and it is inside me.  It is not something we find out there or in another person.  It is something we find within.  So, if we want to be loved, love ourselves.  If we want to be lovable, love ourselves.  If we want to belong, love ourselves.  Amen!         

Esteem Yourself © Copyright


Five Ways to Increase Your Positivity
By: Tracy Shevlin

It's a fact: Everyone has bad days, weeks, and sometimes even years. When you are going through tough times, it's easy to forget that it happens to everyone! Whether the primary stressors are related to family, careers or finances, we can find ourselves feeling resentful, helpless or hopeless. Understanding how and why we wound up in a mess is important… but dwelling on it won't bring you out of it. It may take a little soul searching, but finding small ways to brighten your own day, may be just the ticket to increasing your positivity.

A friend once said that in spite of her own strict budgetary constraints, she refused to give up all of her small perks. She was (and remains) a wise lady. Life is hard and tends to be full of negativity. We do not have to add our own negative voices into the mix. Women are excellent at telling themselves, "No." We are masters of making lists of things we can't have and can't do. However, we do ourselves a disservice when we focus on we can't do rather than what we can. Regardless of our circumstances, we do have the ability to find joy in small things. What are the small perks that make you smile? Below are five easy ways to boost your positivity

Spirituality/Church
There is something therapeutic about church that helps keep you grounded and less obsessed with the concerns that are weighing on your mind. Church is a great place to be filled with positivity. Sometimes it is the energy of a particular place, a meaningful message or the music. When these elements come together, they remind us that in spite of our struggles, we are loved unconditionally by God. Much like when you stand by the ocean or watch the power of a storm, you realize you are just a speck in the giant universe. Your problems and worries are less than a speck. Consider it, "therapy for your soul."

Eliminate one problem
When stress and responsibilities become overwhelming, it becomes increasingly harder to focus and function. You might feel like you can't handle "one more thing." When that happens, you can lighten your own load and make things a little easier on yourself by taking a few easy steps.

First, write down all of the problems, tasks, or worries. Doing this one step solves two problems. Writing them down is therapeutic in itself. By acknowledging the issues in writing, you alleviate the need to hold all the worry inside you. Secondly, it also helps you evaluate your list for priorities and assign a timetable.

Every to-do list has a few easy tasks on it. Completing at least one easy task will make you feel productive. It's kind of like making your bed… even if nothing else goes your way, at least you have one small perk at the end of the day!

Make a List of Small Perks That Are Meaningful to You
Think of the list as a well from which you can draw much needed Zen and smiles during stressful times. If you need ideas, Mary Lee Gannon, a certified coach and consultant, wrote  24 Ways to Remind Yourself That You Are Special. When you select the items to put on your list, you'll find that it isn't at all about retail therapy. It's about discovering what niceties you can do for yourself that are meaningful.

        This is an important exercise because knowing how to pick ourselves up is an invaluable skill. We have times in our lives when we desperately want a friend to cheer us up, but in that moment, Murphy's Law works against us and we find ourselves alone. When life gets stressful or difficult, finding ways to brighten your own day can mean the difference between being fine at the end of a day and feeling sorry for yourself.

Utilize Your Support System
Your friends and family love you unconditionally. Utilize them to be your sounding board… even if it's just to vent and get the negative stuff out of your system. It has to come out. If it does not, it will permeate all you do and your outlook on everything. (Note: it's important to vent and let it go. Don't let venting make you absorb it all over again.)

        If you are having a problem that you are trying to work out, talking it out with your support system may help shed light on the solution. In times of stress, the most obvious answer isn't always obvious. Have you ever looked for something that was right in front of you, but because you were stressed or pressed for time, you just can't see it? You don't have to follow their advice, but having another perspective is always better.

Increase the Positive Thoughts and Images in Your Environment
        There are so many ways to do this. Whether it's having fresh flowers on your table or saving your favorite picture as your wallpaper on your desktop, each little thing you do will improve your physical environment.

Here are a few suggestions for this task- but the possibilities are endless!
- Have an attitude of gratitude! Be thankful for the blessings that you have. Spend five minutes at the
beginning of your day with positive thoughts. It is a great way to start the day before the hustle and bustle of the day takes over.
- Save favorite pictures as wallpaper on your electronic devices. They can be scenic pictures of beach scenes or seasonal photos, vacation photos, kids or pets. Anything that brightens your day.
- Save inspirational thoughts on your day planner and set them up as recurring events. You reinforce the positive thought for the day every time you glance at your planner. Choose a daily thought or even a mantra for the week. (If you are looking for sources- follow Esteem Yourself on Twitter https://twitter.com/EsteemYourself and other motivational sites like Joel Osteen's https://twitter.com/JoelOsteen.
- Minimize the clutter in your workspace. It doesn't take away your workload, but will help you feel more organized and less overwhelmed.

These seem like simple thoughts and actions, but unless we are intentional about focusing on a positive outlook, it's easy to get sucked in by negative people and situations. Thomas Edison once said, "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up." It takes a lot of perseverance and strength to be able to brush off the effects of stress and negativity, to re-charge and be ready to start a new day. Your strength and power to succeed are found in your ability to remain positive.

Esteem Yourself © Copyright



Flaws and All
By: Alex Bryant

When I was younger, I had an unsightly gap between my two front teeth. It would make me feel so insecure and self-conscious that I was willing to try anything and everything to hide it including braces, limiting my smile to a lip-covered grin and ultimately resisting the urge to smile altogether. I thought for sure that I had to be the strangest, gappiest girl on the planet until one day when I walked past a magazine stand.

Gracing the cover of a high-fashion magazine was a gorgeous model with a noticeable space between, you guessed it, her two front teeth. I stood there frozen for a good thirty seconds, baffled by the image that met my eyes. Is the fashion industry really calling something that I thought as awkward beautiful? Are they embracing this flaw as trendy and stylish? A few weeks later, an aspiring model won a prominent modeling competition and she too was gapped. I was in awe. I never thought something which I deemed as a blatant imperfection could be viewed as acceptable and even beautiful or, dare I say, gorgeous. It was then I realized that the only one defining my gap as a shameful blemish that needs to be covered up is me.

We are the ones who define our own reality, the ones who tell ourselves we are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough. It's vital to evict those voices from our minds and to accept ourselves the way we are-flaws and all. Once I embraced my gap as a unique characteristic of me, I felt so much freer. When I saw myself and all my flaws as beautiful, everyone else did too.

Our 'flaws' don't always have to manifest in the physical form. Perhaps our perceived weakness is being painfully shy in social settings. Rather than going against our true selves and making futile attempts to become a social butterfly because of societal pressures, we should embrace our introverted nature! Many 'wallflowers' have thriving social lives and can offer attributes to the world that extroverts cannot.

To be human is to be flawed. It is so ironic how we easily accept other's flaws and even welcome them as unique and quirky but become so critical of our own. We should never let our flaws prevent us from loving ourselves unconditionally. After all, our flaws are a part of who we are and who we are is beautiful.

Esteem Yourself © Copyright


A Joyous Soul
By: Alex Bryant

It has been said that the difference between joy and happiness is that joy is permanent while happiness is fleeting. People who are joyful are always supposed to be optimists, the glass half-full type. In the past, I used to say that I am a joyful person but I think I was simply kidding myself. I mean after a day at being the first one to arrive and the last to leave, driving home in rush hour only to scramble through the door to through something on the stove for dinner, where is there any room left to be joyous?

We must realize though that the definition of joy is not to be in a constant state of a blissful ecstasy, high off life, can't stop smiling glee. The true meaning of joy is learning to be content in all circumstances and remembering to be hopeful through the good and bad. When we're running late for work, coffee spilled on our shirt, and our hair frizzed up from the rain, joy is learning to be content with these situations and realizing that life is beautiful and it goes on.
If you are anything like me, you may have a tendency of beginning your sentences like this, 'I'll be happy when…' or 'Things will be good once…' Living a joyous life should never be an if, then statement. Life is short and we may never be afforded the opportunity to see those one days or maybe laters. Being joyous is not an emotion; it's a decision and we must choose to live in joy today. As difficult as it may be to believe, joy can be found in any situation. You spilled coffee on your shirt? Oh well, that latte had too many calories anyway. Hair frizzed up from the rain? That big is beautiful hairstyle looks great on you and you've just started a new trend amongst your friends!

At first it will be a struggle to adopt a joyful spirit but don't be discouraged, it is never easy to break in a new habit. There will be times when you make think, 'This is for the birds, how can I possibly find the good and be content in what I'm going through?' Truthfully, there will be days when you'll just want to throw in the towel. No one is perfect therefore no one should be expected to live up to the laws of joyfulness twenty-four seven. The key is to not give up! Once a joyous lifestyle is achieved, everything falls into perspective and we are able to view the lessons and opportunities in situations which we once viewed as hopeless.

If you're in need of some inspiration to launch your soul into joyous mode, follow the lead of little children. If you are fortunate enough to have little people in your life, you may have noticed how much they abide in joy. In fact, kids know nothing but joy. Everything around them is a mystical wonderland waiting to be explored. If they fall down, yes they cry, but will you find them dwelling on it an hour later? No, they're too busy with the next game to be preoccupied with a little trip up. We need to assume the same mindset and get lost in all the revelries life has to offer us. We need to get lost in all the joy that surrounds us and fills us. So joy to the world!



On Forgiveness
By: M.B. Dominic

When we consider relationships that we have had in the past, especially those that have ended with pain or heartbreak, it is difficult to imagine forgiving those indiscretions. It is human nature to seek out connection with others, and when we make ourselves vulnerable to someone, we also give that person the opportunity to hurt us. If they do, it can be extremely disheartening, and at its worst, scarring. However, the truth is that we will inevitably have an experience with a significant other, friend, family member, or coworker that will culminate in us being hurt. Because we are able to recognize that this is inevitable, it is more important that we start to examine ways to deal with this kind of hurt, so that we are not burdened by it in future relationships.

Let's say for example you are working on an important project for your company. You and several co-workers have been staying at the office late into the night trying to complete everything that needs to be done for the assignment. At the end of the night, one of your co-workers makes an offhand and negative comment about your work, and states in front of the whole team that she feels as though you have been slacking off, and that everyone is working harder than you. You are hurt by this comment, especially because you feel that you have been working just as hard as everyone else. In this instance, you have two options to deal with this hurt. First, you could push down your feelings of insecurity, but if you do that, you run the risk of allowing those feelings to come out in a passive-aggressive way either by retorting with an equally discouraging comment about her work, or by creating a negative environment where you harbor that resentment. Second, you could choose to forgive her for the comment, and move on.

Forgiveness is, arguably, the most productive method of coping with hurt. Yet, it is also the most difficult to practice. We can't imagine forgiving infidelity in a partner, or forgiving a family member who reveals a personal or embarrassing fact about us during a family gathering. In the moment when we are hurt, we are so fully entrenched in feelings of betrayal, anger, or heartbreak, that to imagine forgiving the person who has caused those feelings is nearly impossible.

In many ways, we might view forgiveness as a betrayal to ourselves. We might think, If I forgive this person, all I'm doing is allowing them the opportunity to hurt me again. Forgiving someone who has hurt you can feel like putting yourself right back into the same situation where you were hurt before. Why would I forgive her for saying that about me? If I forgive her she's just going to do it again, we might say. However, our ability to forgive says as much about us as it does about the person who has hurt us, and it is as much about healing ourselves as it is about accepting and forgiving someone else's words or behavior. Forgiveness helps to heals us in several different ways:

1) It shows us that we are still capable of vulnerability, even in the face of extreme hurt. It's similar to the well-known "get back on the horse" philosophy that we've been taught since we were kids. It seems counterintuitive, but showing yourself that you can still be vulnerable after you've been hurt allows you to develop the skills to bounce back more quickly the next time it happens.

2) Forgiveness teaches us to be compassionate. In the example of the co-worker who makes a rude comment about your work, there is the possibility that she was also feeling stressed and tired. As a result, she may have made a comment that was hurtful, not because she doesn't value your work, but because she is experiencing exhaustion and concern about the project as a whole. It may be unacceptable for her to make this comment in front of your other co-workers, and it might be completely offside, but forgiving her for the comment takes into account her emotional experience. Forgiveness teaches us to be empathetic. It teaches us to put ourselves into another person's shoes, and to recognize the emotional and mental place that they are coming from. Many times, this can lead to productive and necessary conversations about how both parties deal with exhaustion, hurt, and vulnerability.

3) Forgiveness also does not necessarily mean allowing someone who has hurt us deeply back into our lives. There are many instances where someone has committed an act, or said something that has ruined our relationship with them to the point of no return. Even if we wanted to go back to that relationship in the state it was before the hurt, we are unable to. Forgiveness is not about welcoming this person back into our lives with open arms. It is about removing ourselves from the fear of being hurt by them again. We cannot truly forgive until we have the courage to say I no longer fear being hurt by you. This does not mean that we are giving this person permission to hurt us again, but we are saying that we are no longer going to be burdened by that crippling fear of being wounded. We are saying that fear is not going to control our lives. It says to them, and to ourselves, that we are capable and willing to move forward.



Jewels for the Creative, Frugal Fitness Enthusiast
By: Asha T'nae

As the holidays approach, the lure of inactivity and overindulgence loom precariously for many. It's a fact that we are significantly less likely to commit to a physical workout schedule during this time of year, especially if one hasn't begun a regimen of physical activity already. According to the CDC, less than half of adults in the U.S. meet the 2008 guidelines for physical activity. These guidelines state that adults ages 18-64 require 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, as well as 2 days of strength training.

To meet these guidelines, we should all engage in about 30 minutes of activity (at least 5 times a week) such as brisk walking, swimming, dancing, etc. Combine this with 2 days of strength training for the major muscle groups, and you are on your way to significantly reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and numerous other ailments. Most of us know exercise has a myriad of health benefits; however, feeling limited to gym memberships, classes, or other costly avenues for getting in shape can be a hindrance.

While money, time, and motivation are valid explanations as to why we aren't moving as much as we should, they shouldn't be excuses. We are living in a time where most adults are stationary at work and at home. Computers, movie theaters, and TVs have become our main hobbies, and do nothing for our physical fitness. This makes it imperative to make time to get our bodies moving. Here are 5 creative ideas for affordable, time-efficient exercises.

1. Host a Dance Party. Rather than gathering for food and drinks, why not meet for movement? Cut the cost of gas, new fits, and cover charges by hosting a gathering of girlfriends right in your home. Play your favorite music and dance until you sweat. Even better, take turns bringing a 30 minute playlist for everyone to groove to. Use this time as an end-of-the-week fiesta or midweek boost--or both!

2. Walking meditation. If you don't have 30 minutes, break your exercise routine into 15 minute walking meditations. When you walk in the morning, focus on setting an intention for the day. When you walk in the evening or afternoon (lunch break is an excellent time), use that time to reflect on how well you are keeping your set intention.

3. YouTube Fitness. If you love classes but simply can't afford it, why not try the wide array of free classes on YouTube. You can find everything from dance to muscle strengthening to yoga on here. This is a great way to get the organization of a planned fitness class right in the comfort of your home!

4. Household Chores. If you have cleaning to do, why not turn it into a workout. You would be surprised how many calories are burned while sweeping, vacuuming, gardening and the like. Want to get some strength training in there? Use the steps as much as possible in your cleaning. Not only will you have a spotless house, but also you will be in great shape.

5. Spend Time with Children. One of the greatest joys in this world is spending quality time with children. Whether they are your own, siblings, neighbors, or friends, most of us know of children who could use some quality time and parents who would be most grateful. When with children, reclaim your youthful nature. Forego the movies for a day in the park playing frisbee or kickball. Hike a new trail or race through a field.  Children will remind you that having fun needn't cost a dime.



Leaving Your Home on Good Terms
By: M.B. Dominic

As humans, our natural inclination when we are faced with fear, rejection, sadness, or anger is to desire a place where we feel comfortable and safe. Because of this, the way that we view our home, and our relationship to our living space is crucial in helping us to maintain happy and positive lives.
        
When we think about the important relationships that we have in our lives, most of us immediately think of our personal relationships. We think of our significant others, our parents, our children, our teachers, and so forth. However, many times we fail to think of how our relationship to our physical setting can impact our overall attitude.

Some mornings we wake up in our beds, the sun is shining, the air is hitting our face in just the right way, and we say to ourselves Wow, I'm so comfortable and happy here. Other mornings, we wake up to our dogs barking, our children crying, or our roommates loudly making breakfast. We walk into our kitchens and find dishes sitting in the sink, mail piled up on the table, and we think to ourselves, This is the last thing I want to deal with right now.

When we wake up in the morning, we orient ourselves to our surroundings before we do anything else. Therefore, if we wake up and the first thing we realize is that we are immediately irritated by obnoxious sounds, or a messy environment, then we are beginning our day on a negative note.

Many times, we walk out of our houses having not cleaned the things we wanted to clean, having just had an argument with our spouse, etc. This creates anxiety for us as we are leaving, and anxiety throughout the day as we dread having to return to an environment of chaos.

This anxiety prevents us from being able to feel positively about our home, and therefore, prevents us from being able to seek comfort in a place that should be the most comfortable of all.

In order to combat this, we have to learn to start looking at our relationship to our residence the same way that we look at our relationships with other people: they have to be nurtured and tended to. In the same way that we care for our significant other, we should care for and nurture our homes.

For example, some of us love to clean. We love to do dishes, and mop, and dust off our bookshelves. While others of us are not fans of cleaning; we do it begrudgingly, and with clear distaste for having to scrub down the bathroom or the kitchen counters.

Regardless of which camp we fall into,if we start to view cleaning our house as one of the ways that we are strengthening our relationship with it, we can begin to build a space that is comforting and stress-free. That is to say, we can nurture our environment through making sure that the spaces we occupy are open and clear of clutter.

When our space is open and cleared of clutter, our minds will follow suit. If we are able to walk into our home, and our mind is immediately drawn to the piles of laundry that have to be done, we are not able to view our home as a place of comfort, but as a place of unfinished tasks. On the other hand, if we walk into a clean and organized home, we are not immediately bombarded by all of the things that we have to do, organize, or fix.

In the same sense, many of us leave our homes in a state of frenzy. We are trying to do fifty different things right before we leave for work in the morning, which puts in a stressful mood as we are exiting. Many of us find it to be a relief when we are finally able to gather our wits, and leave the house.

Another practice we might try to increase our positive attitude toward our home is to repeat this mantra before we walk out of the front door: This is my home. I love my home. I am leaving my home peacefully. We can also do the same thing right before we walk into our home after a long day. This is my home. I love my home. I am entering my home peacefully.

By repeating these phrases when we enter or exit our home, we give ourselves a moment to breath, and to appreciate the fact that we have a home, we are grateful for that home, and we are working toward building a positive relationship with our home.

Leaving our homes on good terms is important not only because it helps us develop a better interaction with our physical space, but because it sets the tone for our day in the outside world. It is much more difficult to maintain a positive outlook, if our thoughts are plagued by all of the issues that are happening with our personal space.

Love your home, leave it on good terms.



Your Survivor's Song; Your Survivor's Rules
By: Jeanine DeHoney

     Have you ever felt hopeless? Have you ever felt defeated? We all have had different degrees of those seasons in our life. During our worst season, we may have felt as if the bottom fell from beneath us and we were tumbling down a dark cavernous hole with nothing or no one to break our fall and pull us back up to safety. If we reflect on those times, we'll realize that there was a safety net in place. Maybe it was our innate survival instinct, or the abiding love of a parent or close friend, or our faith and trust in God that implored us to stand in the midst of our storms.

     No matter what it looks like or what we are going through we are survivors. Survivors sing the song of overcomers. It is the song our mothers, fathers, grandparents, and great-grandparents sang as they broke through a multitude of adversities.  It is our song but occasionally we need to strengthen our melody and sing with more conviction. Here are some suggestions to help us become that rousing symphony. 

Pull Out All The Stops
Give your all so that you can come out on top after going through a trial. Don't fall into the woe is me or victim trap. Do the emotional, physical and spiritual work that is needed to enjoy and thrive in the life that has been purposed for you. Leave no stone unturned when it comes to your survival.

Be Creative
Draw, write, sing, dance your way to healing. Painting a picture, writing a poem, or dancing to your favorite inspirational song can give you a freeing outlet when you're feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Doing something creative is restorative to your spirit.

Call On God
Praise the Lord. Praise your problems away. When we offer up praise to God instead of our problems we minimalize our problems and trust in his power and grace.

The Code Words
Create a survivors code word or phrase. Words can be empowering or discouraging. Create a word or list of words that are expectant and life affirming. Some suggestions would be, "Strong, Confident, Positive, or a phrase such as "This too shall pass." 

Move Forward
Be present. Don't look back. Stop reliving or replaying negative moments. Learn the lesson that was meant for you and move on. If you really feel stuck in the past get counseling.

Your Financial Cushion
Have a financial cushion. Life happens and when it does you need to have a financial cushion to get you through. Just as you may have a vacation fund, save for those times in life when you face an unexpected crisis. Having extra money in your savings account can afford you the opportunity to take a mini retreat if you need to get away for a while and more importantly money to pay bills and other incidentals if you have to be out of work.

Stay Healthy
Make your health a priority. When you are going through certain trying situations you often don't eat properly and get enough sleep or exercise. It is imperative that you practice self-care so you can be at your optimum. 

Embrace Silence
Silence will help rejuvenate your soul especially when it is broken. Find your quiet corner and tune out the noises around you to heart the tunes in your heart. Silence will often offer answers to your questions, and calm to your angst. 

If The Shoes Fits: Learn & Grow
Know that the shoes you're walking in during those troubled seasons in your life have been walked in by other strong, intelligent women and men. They may be family members, co-workers, ministers, celebrities, etc. Listen to their stories and learn their survivor's rules so you can have a blueprint for your own life.


State of Well-Being
By: Asha T'nae

         Have you ever been going about your day when suddenly you experience an authentic moment of nirvana/heaven/moksha/paradise [enter name of your blissful place here]? It's silent in this space, and all the world's aglow with a surreal, crisp perfection that only moments ago was imperceptible.

         You feel connected and at peace with all creation as the worries and preoccupations that clouded your mind only seconds before evaporate. You are suddenly aware that miracles are unfolding everywhere all the time. Joy floods your heart. Time stands still. This is what I call "soul dipping." It is when you either spontaneously (as described above) or consciously plug into the essence of your true self, which is virtuous and complete. When you're soul dipping, thought ceases, and your senses are heightened. Some use meditation to access this sphere. Others prefer prayer. Still others use the arts, gardening or sports--from watching children play to crocheting, it's all valid. The vehicle matters not as long as you reach the destination: your wellspring of well-being.

         This is the place where you rest your thoughts about everything, and just ARE. This is perhaps a most vital key to embodying wholistic health (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness). After all, health is something that we should not simply think about, strive for, and discuss; rather, it should expand into a tangible experience and perpetual embodiment. When you're healthy, you should feel it. Soul dipping into your wellspring increases vitality exponentially by centering us in the moment and truth of who we are. But don't just take my word for it, taste and see.

         Take a moment to be still and uninterrupted. Close your eyes, placing your left hand over your heart and your right hand over your navel. Feel your breath for a few moments, the beats of your brave heart and rhythmic swell of your belly. Smile. As you breathe deeper and more slowly (nose only), envision a sun between your heart and navel growing brighter, warmer, and bigger with every breath. Keep visualizing this until you are surrounded by a bright light. Stay in this space as long as is comfortable. Give thanks for this moment before slowly opening your eyes.

"Make your mind like the ocean, heart like the clear blue sky." ~Meshell N'degeocello

Be well. Be blessed. Be love.


Goals: Creating Great Progress with Small Steps
By: Adrie Newman

The power to create amazing change and growth is a personal power that each of us is blessed with. You have but to be clear in your desires, and pursue your passions without fear. Pursuing goals can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming and unreachable when we look at the big changes and high standards we create for ourselves, which is why it is important to remember that great change is the result of small steps. Start taking small steps to reach great change, starting now.

- Identify the different areas of your personal involvement and interest. These areas will include things like career, hobbies, familial roles, community support roles, and social roles. Understanding the different hats you wear will not only help you gain perspective of your time commitments, it will also lay out some major components that integrate the core of what you are about.

- Define the goals you would like to accomplish in each area. Make sure the goals are meaningful and will give you some sense of fulfillment upon completion, and that you are not just filling up time or doing some task just for the sake of keeping busy. Each and every goal must be truly personally meaningful. When going through the goal creation process, make note of how each will be specifically beneficial, as well as what would happen if the goal was not completed.

- Select a goal that inspires you to greatness. The goal selected should be exciting yet personally challenging to complete. Remember that when selecting a goal you are choosing to take steps to improve yourself and your future. The more challenging the goal, the greater the sense of accomplishment and self-confidence. 

- Define steps needed to accomplish your goal. Define the major tasks that need to happen in order for your goal to be met.  Any great progress in goals is made by taking one step at a time.  By breaking goals down into smaller chunks, you are able to focus on one at a time for a higher level of quality.  Make note of any resources that need to be obtained and people/contacts that may need to be involved in your goal process.

- Assign each of the tasks a time-bound milestone for completion. The first step to making your goal a reality is making it a tangible and measurable process. By giving yourself deadlines, you not only are committing to a very real time bound implementation plan, you are creating a threshold for your dream goal to become a reality.

- Take action now! Don't think about it, just do it. Do not allow yourself to get distracted from making progress on your goals by continuing to analyze and re-review them. The habit of achievement is created in fostering personal motivation by continuous progress. Remember, the difference between achievers and dreamers is action.

- Take time daily to reflect on progress and difficulties.  Take 10 to 15 minutes at the end of your day to reflect on your goal progress for the day, making note of personal successes as well as challenges. Your reflections should also include some thought as to potential ways of handling goal challenges in the future.

- Acknowledge your successes. Don't keep modifying or extending the "finish line" of your goals by adding more to do. Finish what you originally committed to yourself, acknowledge the achievement, and then if you wish you can create a new goal to reflect your new ambitions. By giving yourself distinct "finish lines" you will establish the unconscious conditioning of clear work periods and relaxation periods.

Our minds are forever working on different things, even when we are not consciously aware of them. By actively choosing the goals you will pursue, you can design and guide the focus of your efforts to motivate and promote great personal achievement practices.



Acquiring Wisdom
By: Jeanine DeHoney

        Are you someone who sits at the feet of your elders and takes notes when they're talking, hoping to embrace their pearls of wisdom honed from years of living? Or are you someone who feels you don't need anyone telling you what to do or how to do it? Basically you want others to stay in their lane when it comes to giving you advice? 
If you lean more toward being the latter type of person, maybe it's time to reassess your adage when it comes to being on the receiving end of wisdom. There is good reason to be open to the wise words of others, especially when it is coming from a place of concern and not meddling. Wisdom is manna for your soul and can anchor you during the ebbs and flows in your life. Wisdom that is candid, inspiring, and passed on as a rite of passage to help you in your journey as a woman should definitely be embraced and not disregarded.  Here are some key steps to help you acquire wisdom.
        Discern which wise person you will listen to. You should know the heart of a person you are acquiring wisdom from if possible before you accept it. Everyone may have an opinion, but watch their walk, listen to their talk, look at the whole of their life before you partake of it. Know that wisdom is not a trait that will cause you to do immoral things or maltreat anyone or weigh you down with negativity. If that kind of guidance is offered to you, say no, thank you.
Edit out the parts of someone's wise words that don't apply to you. Many well-meaning advice givers may give you good advice about how to handle one situation but bad advice concerning another. For example, your best friend may offer you wonderful advice as a financial advisor but because of her disastrous experiences in the relationship department advises you to never trust a man. Edit out those pieces of advice that you know come because of someone else's baggage, fears, and angst.
        Seek out the wisdom already intuitive to you. From the time you were a child, you were acquiring wisdom. It is innate. Find ways to stay tapped into that innate wisdom to motivate yourself during challenging times. Maybe start a wisdom journal and write down all of the wise words and sayings from your life lessons that keep you grounded and encouraged.  
        Find a special place to acquire wisdom. You may need to step away from the stressors in your life so you can see things from a much wiser perspective or hear the sage's voice ruminating from your soul.   Create a corner in your bedroom where you can put pictures of your elders, candles, and paper to write on to tap into that wisdom. Sometimes going for a walk to commune with nature may make it easier to embrace wisdom. Its roots may need a quiet place to breed.
        Read the wise words of other wise women. Books about wise women or autobiographies written by wise women can plant seeds of encouragement in your life. "The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: A Ranking Past and Present," by Deborah Felder, is a great one to add to your library.
Know that wisdom shows up in people of all creeds, ages, and races.  Don't close yourself off to another's wise words due to the fact that he or she may be of a different race, have a different religion, or be of a different gender or age. Spend a day with someone of a different race, and you may find you have more commonalities than differences. Spend a day with a child, and you will learn worthy lessons about being present and how to recapture joy. Wisdom isn't biased when it comes to who it manifests itself in, even little children.  We are all pupils in a wider biosphere.
        Take notes mentally and tangibly of the wise people you admire, people like Oprah, like Michelle Obama, like the CEO of a company you'd like to own, like a favorite artist, author, or entrepreneur. Attend conferences, book signings, etc. to learn from their expertise and life experiences. Imagine what a day in their life would be like and envision yourself being just as omnipotent. 
        Lastly, realize that your experiences when they are broad in range and your failures when they make you stumble only momentarily and don't stop you from getting back up on your feet are two of the greatest wisdom builders.



Temple Care 101: A New Vocab
By: Asha T'nae

In a society that both exploits and represses feminine sexuality, many unhealthy sexual behaviors and attitudes have been promoted, these behaviors stem from a male-centered view of arousal, "sexiness," and propriety. We are left to choose between polarized archetypes of the whore or virgin, wife or mistress. With every label and definition, a part of the whole is left out, and we find ourselves grappling to reclaim the fullness of what it means to be a woman in a society that seeks to fragment us into comprehensible categories.

The issue is that these categories are rigid, linear, inflexible, and in most cases negative, when the feminine energy is fluid, cyclical, and ever-changing. When we redefine our bodies for ourselves, we shift from entrapment to empowerment through words and habits that serve our nature. Since language is the way we communicate even the most complex phenomena, it carries a resonance and energy. Words are powerful and create the way we see and relate to ourselves and others. An empowered woman, who loves and appreciates her body, reserves the right to color outside of the lines drawn for her, and she does so courageously. Jumpstart your new dictionary of SHE and offer alternatives to your current observation of the woman that you are.

Since there are so many words that have changed the positive beautiful temple that our souls have been blessed to live in, the terms, words and vocabulary that is attached to our temple seems to be filled with negative meanings, even at times degrading us and removing the glory that our body possess. An example of this can be seen in the word "vagina". Instead of giving a part of your temple such a name, change it into something that expresses beauty and a sacred place, such as Yoni. Yoni is the Sanskrit word for vagina meaning "feminine sacred space." Incorporating this word as an alternative to "vagina" meaning "sheath," can create a more intimate connection with your feminine parts. How you call and define that sacred space will change the way you relate with yourself in the most beautiful way.

Another word is "period". Change this word to a more temple worthy word. How about a word such as moon flow? Too often our "menstrual cycles" or "periods" are seen as an inconvenience rather than a miracle. Most women are on a 28 day cycle, just like the moon. This name brings us into the remembrance that we are connected to the gentle rhythms of nature. Spend time with yourself, listening to your body, and obeying the need for rest, relaxation, and whatever else.

You don't have to use words that are seen as disgraceful and make you feel unpretty, but consider getting creative and re-defining your body for yourself. Glorify your body, your temple, yourself both inside and out. Your body is a temple, and you should treat it like the temple it is. Learn of you and the ability you have to love yourself by defining your body and actions through positivity. Use words that give your mind, soul, and body positive power. Once you begin to use vocabulary that allows you to see your body as a beautiful temple, watch everything shift to match the richness of your words. Be well!


Stand Out of My Light
By: Deanne Brown

What motivates us?  What drives us magnificent women to pass that test or do our best on a current project at work?  Is it that "A" on our progress report or the bonus at the end of the year? Is it that pat on the back after a job well done or is it that gorgeous convertible BMW? The experts say "yes" and "no."

Studies show that when we do a simple straightforward task, like a mechanical repetitive skill, 'do this, then get that', a grade or higher pay does in fact increase performance. However, when a task becomes more complicated, requiring cognitive thinking and an opportunity to use that big beautiful brain of ours, rewards and higher incentives do not work.  In fact, they lead to lower performance.

W. Edwards Deming, an authority on what drives people, understands this idea perfectly well. "The merit system will put us out of business," he said. It seems that some people benefit from the dangling carrot approach but for the majority, it lacks incentive. A's and bonuses will only get us so far.  The wide range belief that a good grade or big check can get people to do things is misleading. Rewards simply do not work like that. Why?  Because we are not as easily manipulated and predictable as people like to think. We are much more complicated than that. 
 
Einstein once said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." He was right!  When we have the opportunity to be creative, resourceful and imaginative, great things happen. Not only do we come up with new innovative ideas, we perform better and we shine! 

We all know this in our gut. It is common sense. Our intuition, our desire for purpose and meaning, and Oprah remind us every day that there is more to work than a paycheck. So there we have it. It is not money that drives us. It is passion and personal satisfaction that get us up and out of bed each day. Of course, this debunks our basic economic belief that the higher the reward the better the performance. It also deifies the laws of behaviorism and it throws schools into a confused frenzy. Now that we know it is passion and satisfaction that motivate us more than money and good grades, what do we do as parents, teachers, CEO's and women to help incite motivation? 

Need for Autonomy
After several studies and trials, experts believe that the need for autonomy is first and foremost. We need to get out of people's way and let them run their own lives. When Alexander the Great was on his quest conquering every city he could get his hands on, he met the world renowned teacher Diogenes, and asked, "What can I do for you?" Diogenes replied, "Only stand out of my light." Each and every one of us gorgeous women has an intrinsic desire to drive ourselves. We don't want to be told what to do and how to live.  We don't want to live in someone else's shadow.  Instead, we want independence and freedom so we can determine our own actions and direct our own lives.

Mastery
The second factor is mastery. Each and every one of us wants to get better at things and improve our skills.  In fact, many of us are even willing to do it for free or on our day off, like learning to play guitar, baking that perfect pie or writing a blog. Not only is it fun, understanding a concept and becoming good at a skill just for its own sake, is an amazing motivator. Mikhail Baryshnikov said, "I do not try to dance better than anyone else, I only try to dance better than myself." And Ralph Waldo Emerson believed, "the reward of a thing well done is to have done it."

Purpose
Last but not least is purpose. The desire to make a contribution to our businesses, our schools, our lives, or the world is a huge motivating factor. We like to believe we are significant and the work we do is for the better good. As Steve Jobs said, "I want to put a ding in the Universe."

When autonomy, mastery and purpose come into play, a person becomes engaged in what he or she is doing. It is not just compliance; there is meaning to the job. Monetary rewards will help but money alone cannot sustain us.  Innovation, creativity, and imagination are the key, not only to self satisfaction but to our future. So next time you want your child to practice guitar, or your company needs some new ideas to stay afloat, do not ask "how can I get them to do these things."  Instead, simply stand out of their light. This goes for you too by the way. The next time you need some motivation, feel afraid or doubt your creative self, remember to step out of your own light, and let your beauty shine.

"The highest reward for a man's toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it."
John Ruskin



Loving You: Tending Your Sacred Garden
By: Asha T'nae

"…seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without." ~ the Charge of the Goddess

It had been a long time since Selena had felt this type of fullness: rich, lush, substantial, complete. Minnie Riperton's soprano crooned through the speakers as moonlight danced on the hood of her car. Had she not been driving, she would have closed her eyes, turned her face upward, and imagined each word falling like snowflakes in the moonlight, disappearing upon contact and becoming a part of this new woman she had become. Bliss. Looooovin' you is more than just a dream come true, and everything that I do is out of loving you. La la la la la… In that moment, she had…knew…felt…was…love. Now, imagine Selena is you.

You may have sought this feeling in others. Self-worth can easily become based on who you are to everybody else; thereby keeping you focused on what others did or didn't give you in return. This emotionally precarious position can leave you starving for a level of affection, happiness, and completion you may not have perceived. When you find yourself repeatedly disappointed, it may be time to tend the garden within.

We all have our own views of acceptance and love. No one's garden is perfect, but we can shape it into a space that holds everything we need plus many of the delicacies that make life extra special by how we treat ourselves. Self-love should be our first love and first acceptance. May the following suggestions be lamps on your path to tending your garden, and finally, getting the love you have always wanted.

Be with Yourself
It is hard to love someone you don't know, and difficult to know someone with whom quality time is not spent. So go somewhere quiet where you can feel what's going on within. Let it be away from the distraction of external company and technological stimuli. Be it a bathtub, park, bedroom, or silent car ride, see what kind of company you are. Hear what your heart may have been whispering to you all along. Enjoy your company.

Define Love
Explore your definition of love and then work to embody it. While love often evokes passionate feelings spanning the emotional spectrum, it is undeniable that love is a commitment to ACTION. Show your love to yourself by committing to act in your best interest (balanced with virtue, of course). See, accept (don't judge yourself harshly), and love ALL parts of you sincerely, even if you are working to change them.

The List
Make a list of everything you have expected from others, and then ask yourself: am I willing and able to give this to myself? Remember, that others reflect ourselves to us. Many times, what we accuse others of feeling about us is actually what we feel about ourselves. Be empowered so you can empower others, and see your bounty reflected in healthier relationships. When you give what you desire to receive, you become what you once sought.

May you live each day in springtime, tending your garden in committed, loving action, and being the very love you have been awaiting. In Love.

Esteem Yourself © Copyright
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