It’s Never Too Late to Be Your Self

I took her arm as we climbed the steps of the Rialto Bridge. She was still getting used to her high heels. It was a beautiful spring evening in Venice, Italy. The warm night air was peppered with a crisp ocean breeze that drifted inland from the Adriatic. The lights from the ristorantes danced on the canals. We sat at a table alongside the Grand Canal, watching the gondoliers beckon tourists to glide across the mirrored water in their shiny black gondolas. She was dressed fashionably in a white blouse, black skirt, tights, and a shimmering pink Venetian scarf.

It was the first time in her life that Patricia had appeared openly as a woman.

It was also the first time she’d packed only women’s clothing for a trip. Having come to Italy to attend my Seduce Your Muse workshop, Patricia was publicly claiming and proclaiming that she was a woman who was ready to set herself free from the man’s body she had spent four decades hiding in. Through our work together, she had found the courage to free herself from society’s norms and her false identity as…

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Personal Content

Lately, I’ve been so thankful for the people who are willing to share deeply personal content on Youtube.

I don’t mean drama. I don’t mean for attention either. I mean people who are willing to put themselves out there and discuss embarrassing topics so that other people can learn.

Okay, so here goes. I’m in peri-menopause.

That time in a female-bodied person’s life when they experience a cessation of menses and lots of hormonal changes that impact almost every area of their lives.

The cessation of hormones associated with menopause leads to sleep disturbances, horrible night sweats, (not night sweets which could be delicious but also impact other problems), like weight gain. Metabolism slows down. It reeeeeaaaaaaallllllly slows down!

Then there are the hot flashes, constipation, a need to pee frequently (like pregnant women), depression, irritation, vaginal dryness (which also leads to irritation), changes in ability to orgasm (which leads to even more irritation and depression), memory challenges (what was I saying again)….well, you get the drift.

Now instead of watching Netflix or reading a book when I have a moment to myself, I’m watching Youtube videos on dealing with constipation and learning how to do Kegel exercises. Fun times!

When I’m at my best I can laugh at this phase of life.

However, there are times when all these changes, coupled with my eyesight becoming poorer, overwhelm me and I seriously just want to cry and stay in my room where I can privately practice my Kegels.

I don’t know how the generation of women before me kept all of this on the down low. This phase of life sucks. Maybe it wasn’t as bad in the past. I don’t know. All I know, is that I’m grateful that so many people are not keeping these challenges on the down low.

Quite the opposite.

They are posting their solutions to these challenges on Youtube.  

I want to commend these individuals for being brave, bold, audacious in the name of helping others.

While I consider myself all of the above, there are certain topics, like all those above, that I still find embarrassing. These folks courage, gave me the courage to write this blog.

I hope this will also empower you to seek out the answers to the questions you have and to open up discussions. Reach out and share. Let’s not suffer in silence. Let’s empower one another.

One of my favorite videos that followed a video on colon health, was this guy giving advice to newbie gay men on how to care for and groom themselves. This might be offensive to some, but I was really struck by how much care this guy was giving to addressing personal, and perhaps embarrassing, content so these newbies could have a good experience. It was so sweet (and BRAVE!)

Here are some links to some of my favorites which will be especially helpful for the new moms, “women in that phase of life,” and anyone who is feeling a little backed up.

They’re all rated PG.

The More You Know….

12 Things Your Stool Can Tell You About Your Health

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9LTXO00aYY

The adorable Niki Sky in her flannel pajamas walks you through her toilet tricks in 9 Constipation Health Hacks That Really Work!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEMHwH2Kscg

How to do Kegel Exercises to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfmWkHSOi7U

Kegel Exercises Made Easy–This one is tailored to new moms who are dealing with incontinence. I just loved how sweet this lady was and how comfortable she was sharing these tips with other moms. Brave, I’m telling you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsFCURytU_8

Be ridiculous!

No one had ever walked on the moon until Neil Armstrong did in 1969 changing how we viewed the world.

The idea of female astronauts seemed ridiculous to many people until Sally Ride traveled into space in 1983. Nine years later, Mae Jemison, became the first African American female astronaut to travel into space and work on the Space Lab. She says, “The best way to make dreams come true is to wake up.”

Are you ready to wake up and make your dreams come true?

Many people don’t go after their dreams because they give reality too much credit.

What do I mean?

Reality is a construct. It’s a limitation we put on ourselves.

No one imagined anyone could run a mile in 4 minutes until Roger Bannister did. Since Bannister accomplished this feat, thousands of other male runners have followed in Bannister’s footsteps. The current world record holder is Hicham el Guerouj who ran a mile in 3:43 minutes proving that existing limits can be broken.

Many people said they never imagined they’d see marriage equality in their lifetimes. I would say it was just that lack of imagination that slowed down the process. In the 1970s several same-sex couples began asking for marriage licenses at county clerk’s offices and filing law suits for the right to marry. However, it wasn’t until June 2015 that the United States Supreme Court finally ruled that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry. Why? Because it took that long for a majority of people to be able to see it as a reality.

As you may know, I was a passionate advocate for marriage equality. It was a dream of mine I was committed to bringing to life. I envisioned a world where LGBTQ people had the same right to the American dream as everyone else. The right to marry and have a family of their own creation. I was willing to work for that dream and help people envision that dream coming true.

When we envision creating something new in our lives or in the world and we work towards it we are creating with the Universe.

Our ability to imagine, believe and think outside the box of reality is what allows us to shift our perceptions of what’s possible and to shift the world!

Your dreams are important!

What dreams do you want to see come true?

Do you want to find love? Travel to other continents? Write a book? Start a business? Create a family? Retire early? Move to another city? Embark on a new career?

Don’t get caught up in the obstacles. Yes, there will be obstacles, but be unstoppable.

How?

  • Be willing to be ridiculous!
  • Be Bold
  • Dream big!
  • Have fun!
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Believe that your dreams can come true.
  • Be flexible.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Find someone whose made that dream come true?
  • Find someone whose succeeded in a similar venture?
  • Keep seeing your dreams come true. Visualize it.
  • Share your dreams with those who believe in you too!
  • Take the steps needed to move in the direction of your dreams.
  • Be ridiculous, audacious, brave and courageous!
  • Follow Your Heart!

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,

Bueller cautions us that “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I agree. This is why I recommend mental health days, weekend getaways and vacations to my clients, including those that they take by themselves.

We are more present when we’re traveling. We are more awake. Our senses are heightened, so we are more connected to our body and less in our head.

As Bueller suggests we don’t want to miss our lives and getting out of our ruts/routines can allow us to see the world with fresh eyes. Traveling can shift our views of reality and what’s possible. Taking a vacation is literally about setting your self free.

Go on Vacation with Yourself

Once or twice a year, go on a vacation by yourself for at least two nights. Pick a destination you feel drawn to.  This is about enjoying unstructured time that you structure as you go. You should be completely free to determine your schedule.

During your vacation, do only what you want to do.

Don’t make any plans before arriving unless they are things you really want to do and that require advance planning. Otherwise, show up first and decide later. Don’t plan on meeting anyone. If you can swing it, limit your contact with loved ones to a “Yes, I’ve arrived” call and no more than daily emails to let people know you’re safe and so you know all’s well on the home front. There will be plenty of time to share when you return.

Get Yourself Out of Routine

The point is to get yourself out of your routine and disconnect you from social approval and social obligations, which will allow you to check in with yourself. This is your time to break free and listen to yourself—a time to tap into your internal compass. During your sojourn, listen to your intuition concerning what to do or not do, when to get up, when to go to sleep, when to eat, what to eat, and how to spend your time.

Bring a journal with you. Reading material is optional. If you do bring something to read, make sure it’s not going to distract you from connecting with yourself. If it’s something contemplative that allows you to go deeper within yourself, that’s perfect. If it’s someone else’s memoir, leave it behind unless it’s related to something you want to do.

Don’t drive unless you have to.

Driving keeps you in your head and out of your body and senses. In fact, many of us tend to go into trance states when we drive.  Take a train or a boat.

Create opportunities for walking so you can slow down and get into your own rhythm.

Walking will keep you more present. Meander, going wherever you feel like going. Give yourself lots of room to roam. Also, make sure there are places you can be out in nature, as well as places you can sit and be still, such as gardens, beaches, boardwalks, hiking trails, park benches, and outdoor cafes.

Get grounded.

The more grounded you are, the more connected you are to earth and your own body, the better.

On my trips to Italy, I wander through the streets to different squares and neighborhoods. Depending on my mood, I might stop at a café, or I might sit by a canal or the ocean, or in a quiet courtyard or garden. I give myself lots of time to just be, with no agenda except to feel the edges of myself and enjoy my own companionship.

We need time to be our own best friend, and we need time to be with this best friend because it creates solidity.

Failing Forward

Did you know that being afraid to FAIL is the # 1 obstacle that keeps people from following their hearts?

We are afraid of social rejection, not having enough money,  looking stupid, getting hurt, not being physically safe, and we are especially afraid of failing!

Even if you fail—you’re failing forward!

Failing forward means that even if you’re not getting the outcome you desire, you are still moving towards your dreams. You are still learning and investing in your growth and mastery.

No one wants to fail. However, if you never try, you’ll never know. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician to run for office, ran for San Francisco city supervisor three times before finally winning. Each time he ran, his number of supporters grew. Each time, he empowered other LGBT people to come out of the closet. He failed forward.

The same was true with the marriage equality movement. There were multiple losses, but with every loss, as people continued to share their personal stories, the movement gained more and more supporters for marriage equality. Finally, the poll numbers showed that the majority of Americans supported equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

This is what failing forward looked like for my  client, Andy. Andy was afraid of putting himself back out in the dating world. His failing forward took the form of asking women out on dates and learning how to create meaningful connection. His first attempts were met with rejection. Eventually, he became comfortable asking women out and facing his fear of rejection. He built his confidence and met a woman who became his girlfriend.

Good Fear

We all have automatic physical reactions to threats to our well-being. In moments of perceived danger, the fight, flight, or freeze aspect of our nervous system is activated. For example, when we see a snake on a hiking trail our hearts beat rapidly, our bodies fill with adrenaline and we become hyper-alert. We take action to make sure we are not bitten. This is good fear.

Good fear can keep us safe and alive, helping us identify threats in our environments. Good fear can get us to run from an attacker, get out of the way of a speeding car, or protect ourselves from an attacker.

Bad Fear

Unfortunately, human societies are filled with amorphous threats, and some of our reactions to them are counterproductive. For example, fear can get us to engage in behaviors that are unhealthy and selfish. Overeating or using substances to numb our feelings is one way our response to fear can harm us. Fear can get us to push people away or to hoard money or belongings because we are afraid we won’t have enough.

Bad fear can create a sense of competition and greediness and we can become restrictive emotionally and financially not engaging openly with the people around us.

Fear can be used to manipulate us.

Many of our fears are not our own. They are conditioned in us by social, religious, and corporate agendas. You may already be aware that mainstream society is focused on keeping you obsessed with safety and security. For example, car commercials, insurance commercials, cold and flu commercials, all designed to get you to buy products by creating a sense of fear in you. This can be true with the news and political agendas as well.

Fear can create pain in the absence of any real source of pain.

Fear can cause us to project danger on to something that cannot harm us. This is where the acronym False Evidence Appearing Real is apropos. We see a snake. Our hearts race. We sweat. We look for our escape. But what if we discover that the snake is just a twisted stick? We just expended all that energy for an illusion.

Fear can keep us from taking action.

Fear can have a paralyzing effect on us keeping us from pursuing our dreams, making changes in our lives, even leaving a bad situation because we fear the unknown or that we could find ourselves in an even worse situation. Fear can keep us from taking advantage of opportunities for growth and change. Fear can keep us focused on mere survival when we have the ability to thrive and expand.

Where is fear stopping you from taking action?

What causes you fear in your life?

What are your responses to fear?

Is fear triggering you to engage in unhealthy ways of reacting or coping?

In what ways do you feel manipulated to feel fear?

Are you aware of any fear projections you have?

Take some time to put fear into perspective and take your life back.

Whose life are you living?

Does your life belong to you?

Now is the time to reclaim your life, instead of letting it belong to everyone else.

We are constantly getting bombarded with other people’s agendas for us. We’re brainwashed on what to eat, what to buy, what soap to use, how to view our bodies, and more.

Now is the time to tap into our own inner compass, our heart. Now is the time to connect with our essential nature. When I do this my life is exponentially more satisfying. I am living more authentically, authoring my own life.

Lao Tzu the ancient Chinese mystic who preceded Jesus and Buddha talked about Tao Te Ching, which translates to The Way, and means living life in harmony with nature and following the heart’s guidance. Practicing the way, puts you on a mystical path.

Would you like to walk the path of the mystic?

Would you be willing to get still and listen to your inner guidance?

Would you be willing to meditate as part of your daily life to clear the clutter of the world from your brain?

Would you be willing to let everyone else’s ideas of what your life should look like go?

Would you be willing to be free?

Now, is the time to follow your heart and let the Universe support you.

It might sound corny. It did to me once, until I realized what a powerful and satisfying way it is to live.

Walking the path of the mystic and being present in the here and now means your actions will be directed from a place of centered, grounded inner knowing.

When you are present and grounded, you will make better choices and you will see greater synchronicity when you do.

I’ve found when I’m on this path I can trust that what I need will be there for me every day, rather than spending time worrying about the future or the past.

Are you willing to be free? Are you willing to let go and be here now?

Forgive us our trespasses

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”—The Lord’s Prayer

One of the biggest obstacles to experiencing ourselves as the loving person we are is our inability to forgive ourselves. We feel guilt and shame for mistakes we’ve made. We beat ourselves up for situations we handled less skillfully than we might have wished. We incriminate ourselves for the people we’ve hurt—whether accidentally, unconsciously, or intentionally. To fully love yourself and unleash your courageous heart, you must be able to forgive yourself.

We also struggle with forgiving others. Perhaps you’ve been betrayed. Maybe someone hurt you, stole from you, lied to you, or was unfaithful to you. It may feel hard to forgive in such a situation. However, not forgiving will rob you of your energy and keep you stuck in the past. You won’t feel good or hopeful about life.

Not everything we approach openheartedly is going to work out as we expect.

Not everyone we open our heart to is going to treat us as we wish.

Most of us will experience disappointment in love, and likely we’ll disappoint others.

However, if we can trust that everything we go through is an opportunity to learn—an opportunity to know ourselves as the loving person we are, and hence to be compassionate to others, forgiving their mistakes and accepting their decisions as we would want them to do with us—then our load will be lighter and our path will be easier to walk.

Follow Your Heart!

One year my inner gypsy awakened and I wanted to learn how to dance the male parts of the flamenco.  I was drawn to the music, to the flair, and to the strong rhythmic beats. While, I didn’t suddenly feel called to put on a bright red polka-dotted dress and wear a flower in my hair—if I had, I would have!

Answering this call of my heart took me to Sevilla, Spain, where I witnessed some of the world’s best Flamenco dancers boldly take the stage, mesmerizing audiences with their sensual moves and fierce foot stomping and stamping.

It was a gruelingly hot summer night in Teatro El Gallo (The Rooster).

The blades of the box fans scattered throughout the theater whirred on high in a futile attempt to cool the patrons. Seated in the front row, I more than once felt the spray of sweat coming off the feverish bodies of Flamenco dancers proudly pounding out bohemian cadences from faraway times.

My heart pounded in my chest, my soul awakened by these ancient rhythms with a deep longing, a nomadic desire to wander, to embrace life’s passion, to savor each moment.

I silently vowed to myself that I would ensure that my life was colorful—that there was life in my life.

The decision to follow my heart to Sevilla helped me make a deeper commitment to myself to be authentic, bold, fully engaged.

The next year I traveled to Venice for three weeks, to begin writing a novel. Let’s just say I didn’t know anyone at that time that would take a three week vacation to Europe to write a novel. Everything about that was audacious in my life at the time.

Authenticity is audacious!

During my visit I had a great time imagining the scenes unfolding in the various campos and canals.

As part of my research, I met with Shaul Bassi, a writer and professor of literature at the University of Venice. I had come across his name on an article and sent him an email.  He agreed to meet with me over cappuccino. Thank goodness, he spoke English. He was only one of three people I was able to converse with during the entire three weeks.

“All our dreams can come true,” said Walt Disney, “if we have the courage to pursue them.”

I had no idea that meeting with Shaul would prove to be a date with destiny. Thanks to him, two years later I was back in Venice on an all-expenses-paid trip to study Italian culture and the Jews of Venice (the topic of my novel).

Following my heart had paid off in spades. I had a month in 2008 to continue writing my novel, as well as to meet new friends and experts on Italian art, Yiddish, the Venetian Jewish Ghetto, and Italian music.

One morning, I walked the labyrinth of cobblestone streets flanked by high walls with cascading trumpet vines, their reddish-orange flowers drinking in the sunshine.

The still waters of the canals, occasionally rippling like a movie’s dream sequence, added to the surreal radiance, mirroring back the beauty of this ancient city.

The echoing voices of an angelic choir flooded my ears as Palestrina’s 16th Century Magnificat Primi Toni played on my iPod.

Seduced by the hauntingly familiar tones, the magnificence of this Renaissance city, and the warm sun on my skin, I breathed in the damp air and my heart wept tears of joy as my soul celebrated.

Emerging from the narrow streets into the middle of the spacious campo, I longed to spin in circles like a whirling dervish taking in the divine opulence of the moment—a complex merger of humanity’s best offering with the exquisite marvels of the divine.

Yes, I was following my heart.

Three years after this, I returned to lead my first Seduce Your Muse™ creative writing retreat.

All  of this unfolded because I followed my heart in the first place.

You never know where your heart will lead you.

When you feel the tug of your heart or hear a call from your soul, follow.

Let the path of your heart unfold!

What are you holding on to that no longer serves you?

Are you still holding on to things that no longer serve you?

Often we outgrow things, yet we have a tendency to want to hold on to them even when they are no longer useful, or even good for us.

Who hasn’t kept an article of clothing that no longer fits or is out of style?  Perhaps you have an item of furniture around that’s like Fraser’s Dad’s chair, duct-taped and well-worn, but a part of a past that no longer fits your present.

My Dad loves to tell the story of how he persuaded me to give up my pacifier to a horse who needed it more than me. I have always loved horses and at the tender age of two, I thought I was doing  a good deed by gifting my pacifier to the chestnut mare. Apparently, he also said he’d get me a swing set if I did. Seems like a pretty good trade to me still.

I gave up the pacifier and never looked back.

Where in your life are you holding on to things that are like security blankets or pacifiers that offer no real value, they simply keep you stuck or comfortable?

What are you holding on to that is holding you back, cluttering your mental and physical space, and keeping you from moving forward in your life?

Is it a job, a relationship, a way of being, an addiction?

Invitation:  

Today take an inventory of some aspect of your life and let go of something that no longer serves you.

Walking through fear and fire!

I walked on fire for the first time in 1999 at Tony Robbins’ “Unleash the Power Within” Seminar in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was terrified!

Today, I can boast that I’m a four-time fire-walker, including walking a 40 foot fire-walk in Hawaii at Tony’s “Life Mastery Workshop” in 2000.

There is nothing like fire-walking!!!

Our brains are designed to fear fire and our bodies learn early on not to touch it. That’s why walking on fire is so powerful!

The fire-walk is a show of courage over circumstance, to not let fear stop you from moving forward in your life.

How often do you get stopped from taking action in your life because you are afraid?

We are afraid of failing, looking stupid, making a mistake. Our fear can keep us stuck, our fear can keep us from going after our dreams or from making positive changes in our life.

Not everyone needs to literally walk on hot coals to know that they can overcome their fears, but it sure feels awesome to do it! And if you don’t believe me, ask Oprah!

For some people, finding the courage to speak their truth is their fire-walk. I have several amazing clients who realized that the reason they never felt like they “fit in” was because they had been born into a body that did not reflect  their gender. For these brave souls, their fire-walk was dressing and expressing themselves authentically.

For others, their proverbial fire-walk, might be coming out about some other personal truth.  I’ve had several clients who had to muster the courage to tell their parents or partners something they feared they would be judged or rejected for.

For some, a fire-walk might be leaving a professional career to pursue an artistic endeavor, ending a relationship, following a spiritual calling or traveling internationally.

Every one of us has some growth edge, some place where we are hiding or holding back and afraid to step forward into our authentic selves or a greater expression of who we are.

What is your fire-walk and will you take that first step?