Habits: Your Transformation Roadblocks

Photo Credit - BSST Blog

Photo Credit - BSST Blog

Your intentions are strong, motivation is high, but you just can't seem to hurdle the gap between where you are, and where you want to be. Or who you are, and who you want to be.

You've tried to lose the weight, put down the doughnut, ditch the cigarettes, or stop spending every dollar you earn (and then some) but you can't. For all your efforts, you wind up feeling like a failure, a loser, or worse.

You're none of those things, and you're certainly not alone. You've just got bad habits, and habits can be changed.

I know what you're thinking, "Oh, great! Yet another Herculean effort I'm destined to fail at!"

Right? Wrong!

First, let's look at how you acquired habits, then we'll talk about ways to change them.

How Your Brain Gets Wired

Fear not, I'm not going to throw a bunch of sciencey mumbo-jumbo at you. Let's keep this basic, shall we?

When you perform a certain action with a specific intention you create neuropathways in your brain. (Cells responsible for the thought and the action wire together, and fire together.) The next time you perform the action coupled with intention the neuropathway you created gets reinforced. The wiring and firing mechanism between brain cells gets stronger. Do that every day, and it gets easier, until one day the behavior/action is automatic. You don't even have to think about it.

Take brushing your teeth. When you were little, your parents probably bought a tiny toothbrush to celebrate the arrival of your first tooth. Like all good parents, they faithfully brushed your little tooth daily until you had teeth, and were able to do it yourself. 

Before you were consciously aware of making a decision, you brushed your teeth until it became automatic.

That's how we create habits. That's how we wire our brains.

When we're babies it's easy to create new neuropathways. As an adult? Not so much!

Human beings are creature of habits, with habituated ways of being. The older you are the more the habits/behavior/attitudes/outlook become ingrained until they are hardwired. Like everybody else on this planet, you, my friend, are on autopilot 90% of the time. 

It's like wearing a path through a field. Walk through the field once? Meh, there's a disturbance in the way the grass sways in the breeze. But walk that way over and over again, and a pathway emerges until nothing will grown under tightly packed soil.

Walk that path too much? It becomes a rut.

Here's the thing, we don't come prewired. You wired your brain. Your parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles wired your brain. You can change the wiring at any time.

Like 98.yada.yada.yada% of people, if you try to change every bad habit you have all at once, you will fail, as you invariably have in the past, but it doesn't have to be that complicated.

Don't Go Big, Go Small

Photo Credit: CRM Switch

Photo Credit: CRM Switch

There is another way, which I stumbled upon quite by accident...and I mean that literally.

In 2009, I had a nasty fall and broke the wrist on my dominant hand, which required three surgeries, and months of physical therapy, to heal. Breaking a bone at 4, and breaking a bone at 44, are two very different things.

I'm just sayin'...

For months, I was forced to use my non-dominant hand.

There were only two things I physically could not do - fasten my bra, or shave my left armpit - but I decided that I would not use the fact that my wrist was broken as an excuse to get out of doing other daily tasks.

Brushing and flossing my teeth was awkward and weird, but got done. Filling out the innumerable insurance papers at countless doctor's offices and hospitals that accompanied my various medical issues was painstakingly slow, and super uncomfortable, but got done. Cutting my meat? Well, let's just call that one a series of unfortunate adventures and leave it at that, shall we? Going to the bathroom? Got done, but that's all I'm going to say about that!

To lighten my mood, my son joked, "Oooooo, you are so lucky because now you get to access parts of your brain that have been off limits to you. You might even meet your inner evil genius!" 

Okay, that was really wrong, but, he was also very right. Not the evil genius part, but during that period of time, my views on life, and love, and myself, and the world shifted DRAMATICALLY, and they've never gone back.

Today, I am a righty by nature, a lefty by necessity, and have access to a whole range of thoughts, emotions and actions that were previously unknown to me.

I'm not suggesting you go out and break your dominant hand, but I am suggesting that shifting deeply ingrained habits can give you a window of opportunity in which you can disrupt the larger patterns which limit your growth, and hinder your transformation.

And not the nasty habits you want so desperately want to break either.

We're not looking to break the habits, but to consciously, purposefully interrupt those small, ingrained neuropathways.

If You Want to Be Different, Do Things Differently

Interrupting ingrained neuropathways causes a certain amount of confusion in the brain, which will allow you the opportunity to change OTHER behaviors that are ingrained too.

I want to master fat loss, and finally, finally, FINALLY shed this excess fat I've been carrying around for 30 years now, but I honestly don't know how to do it. (If I did, I'd be sleek and slender, but I'm not.)

But I've got deeply ingrained, habituated ways of being that do not serve me, are causing me extreme physical pain, and mental anguish. 

On so many levels, I want to be so much more than I've trained myself to be, but the task is daunting to say the least.

This is a HUGE process of unlearning, because everything we've been taught, told, and/or believed about health and fitness is total bullshit that simply doesn't work. Not for me, at least. Not. At. All.

To shake things up in my mind, and break loose from the disempowering neuropathways I've created over the years, here are a couple of things I've done differently:

  • I used to brush my teeth in the morning, and floss and rinse them at night; now, I brush and floss both morning and night
  • I went back to exclusively using my non-dominant hand for a week

Both of these things are different from my normal routine.

This morning is probably the biggest disruption I've made to my habits, and the impact was staggering!

I love listening to music when I walk/run/jog, and I love to walk/run/jog in the Fall and Spring, when weather conditions are cool and ideal. I love creating playlists to enhance my experience. It's such a great, deeply joyful and empowering habit.

But I despise running in the sticky, sweaty heat, and no amount of music can change that. I cannot tell you the number of times I've started running when the weather was just right, saw wonderful progress in my body and mind, only to throw my hands up in the air and say, "Fuck this!" when the weather got hot. So frustrating, but not something I've ever been able to find a way around.

I'm training to run a half-marathon in March 2018, so I HAVE to learn how to run in the heat...at least for the next three months until Fall comes. Believe me, I thought about pushing off training until October, but this isn't about me. My needs really don't matter. It's about my daughter, who I'm running the half-marathon with, and I absolutely cannot let her down. (Mothers will get this. Others might not.) Obesity is a battle she has had to fight because I was such a poor example of health for her. Honestly, I couldn't bear it if she were disappointed in me yet again. Too awful to contemplate, so I know I have to find a way around this obstacle.

I'm naturally a see-life-from-the-sunny-side kind of girl, so today, I decided to focus on what I love in any given moment, and to pay no attention to the heat.

It didn't work.

I was just as miserable, if not more so, because I was lying to myself, and trying to force something that just wasn't true. Sorry, but I do not LOVE sweat dripping down the crack of my ass, and probably never will.

But I found something that did work.

Instead of listening to music, which is my habit when I walk/run/jog, I listened to my favorite podcast, Primal Potential, who was ironically (coincidentally, serendipitously) discussing creating and maintaining motivation by examining the things to which you attach pain and pleasure to. (When the student is ready...)

Different pattern. Different mindset, which gave me the opportunity I needed to shift my focus, and change my thinking. And do you know what? I enjoyed my walk...in the sticky, sweaty, ridiculously hot-assed Louisiana Summer.

And I enjoyed it so much, that I'm actually looking forward to doing it again tomorrow.

Go figure!

Don't get me wrong, in October, when the first nip of Fall sweetens the air, I will run the LSU Lakes with my music keeping me company. But until then, I'll enjoy awesome podcasts, maybe even books on Audible, and learn about things that fascinate me as I move my body, regardless of the heat.

It is not enough to think differently. If you want to transform any aspect of your being, you must ACT differently, and doing small things that disrupt your ingrained neuropathways can help you do exactly that.

I'd love to hear how you've changed your habits, and overcome your stumbling blocks...

A word about Primal Potential podcast. Talk about when the student is ready the teacher will appear? I discovered her podcast a couple of months ago, and have found so much ROCK SOLID nutritional information from her on how to master fat loss naturally, that I went back and started listening to her podcast from the beginning. (She has 365-ish episodes!) I've stopped merely listening, and started implementing the strategies she recommends into my life. Bonus!

If you are looking for a teacher/mentor/guide to help you master fat loss naturally, Elizabeth Benton is the biggity freakin' BOMB! She is a woman with a formal education in nutrition, who lost over 140 lbs NATURALLY, and knows her shit! Unlike the vast majority in the fitness industry, who have no clue what it's like to be fat, much less overweight, and no clue that an obese person's body processes nutrients differently than their's, she's been there. She gets it.

She has a 12-week program called "Fat Loss Fast Track" which I will be taking in the fall!

Tony Robbins said that finding a role-model, who has accomplished what you want to accomplish, is the key to understanding how to accomplish it yourself. There are lots of people out there who will try to tell you how to lose weight based on "science", which is really just cherry-picked research that supports their own conclusions, but few have ever walked in the shoes of the people they're trying to help. She has.

Please note: I am not an affiliate of her's in anyway. I've never met her. Never had a conversation with her. But I cannot wait to take her class this fall.

30-Day Push - Day 1

Photo of Chalene Johnson copied from her Facebook page

Photo of Chalene Johnson copied from her Facebook page

Y'all know I just love, love, LOVE me some personal development books, right? The one I'm reading right now has me super energized and motivated!

"Push: 30 Days to Turbocharged Habits, a Bangin' Body, and the Life You Deserve!" by Chalene Johnson is fabulous! 

This one you read a chapter a day, with homework. 30 days to create a fantastic life? Sign me up!

Day 1 - Set Your Priorities

"The work you do today will influence every area of your life for the rest of your life." ~Chalene Johnson

In the book, Chalene says, "The first step in reaching your goals is setting ones that are a good fit."

A good fit with what? Your priorities.

If you have a goal to travel the globe as a freelance travel writer, but your number one priority is take on more responsibility at work, so you can get a promotion that'll put you in the C-Suite, you've got a conflict of interest. You goal and your priority are incompatible.

The idea is, when your top priority is clearly defined, all decisions you make, and goals you set, should be set in tune with it. If it conflicts with your top priority, it is not in your best interests, and should be let go. Period.

When was the last time you looked at your priorities? Have you ever taken the time to do so? If you have, are they still relevant?

Mine sure as heck weren't!

How to Set Your Priorities

  1. Brainstorm Your Priorities
  2. Choose Your Top 5
  3. Put Them In Order
  4. Declare Your Number-One Priority

Now that you have your Number-One priority...

  • Write down the reasons you've given it the greatest importance
  • What will you DO to honor it?
  • What would be inconsistent with your number-one top priority?
  • What will you limit, or let go of, in order to honor your number-one priority?
  • What changes do you need to make to honor your number-one priority?

These aren't obscure questions, but critical steps in a process. Write them down.

Now, take the time to create a top priority statement. Print it out, and refer to it often.

As you create your goals, ask yourself, 'Is this goal in alignment with my number-one top priority?'

In the book, Chalene walks you through the process, and let me tell you...it is soooo worth it!

My Priorities

What I discovered when I did the exercises above? My priorities were outdated. No wonder my goals were as effective as firing scattershot!

I lose focus so often, and am continually starting over again...and again...and again...because I've never really sat down, brainstormed, and created my top priority.

I set goals often, but achieve few of them, and when I did this exercise, I think I figured out why because I was stunned with what I learned about myself.

You know, when you're a mom your priorities are your children. It's been that way for so long I never questioned it. I set my priority as something like, "...to be a good mother, who is supportive and nurturing..." Yada, yada, yada...

But it bothered me because...well, because it just wasn't true anymore. My priority in life was to be a maid, therapist and a nanny to people who didn't need me to clean up after them anymore? Really? 

I shared my concerns with my husband, who agreed with me 100%...time to grow up and set new priorities for this stage of my life.

After I went to bed, I lay there staring at the ceiling feeling super duper guilty. As many women in our generation have done, I was a homemaker. I raised three beautiful children to adulthood, and loved every single minute of it. I have absolutely no regrets, but I'm over 50, and just now starting to build my own career.

My children are grown, gone from home - two of them have children of their own - so setting the priorities at this stage in my life as if my children were still young children in need of constant nurturing was just robbing my life of passion, focus and direction.


My new number-one top priority?

Building my career, my business, my platform, my brand, creating and managing wealth, and I hope to never retire. In the pursuit of my number-one priority, I promise and commit to learning anything necessary to make this happen, and to limit the laziness and time wasting activities that rob me of my passion, discipline, drive, hunger and focus!!! 

Every decision and goal I make will be checked against my top priority for congruence. If it doesn't jive, I let it go and move on! How deliciously freeing is that?!? ;-)

No News Is Good News!

So, now I have the success of not one, but two, 30-day challenges under my belt, I'm feeling so inspired I want to keep the momentum going and start another.

This time, however, I'm going to make-up one of my own. Well, actually two!

The past year and a half, I feel as if I've been swimming in a sea of ugliness and negativity, and it's really affected me deeply.

How deeply?

My house is a mess. It used to be a clean, tidy, welcoming place to be. Now, I'd die of shame if someone came into my home. And I haven't made my bed in months!

Okay, so it's not quite THAT bad, but it's a close approximation as to how I feel inside.

My grandmother used to say, "Messy bed. Messy head." And in my case, that is so true!

Perhaps BECAUSE I've just been through a dietary challenge that made me feel so nourished in my physical body, that I feel the chaos so sharply in other areas of my life. 

So, what happened 18-months ago that changed everything? Two things:

  1. The Presidential primaries and election.
  2. I moved in with my ex-husband, who watches news for hours on end.

It is one thing to be informed. It is another to drown in a cesspool of ugliness and negativity. 

I didn't even have cable TV, and didn't feel like I'd missed a single thing! The world kept right on turning without me adding ugliness to the mix. That's the way I like it!

As I found myself getting swept up in politics this election cycle, I undoubtedly added my energy to the ugliness, and that's not me. Not who I want to be. 

Since I started living with the news blasting non-stop, I stay with a low-level of angst in the pit of my gut, and I know it is affecting me adversely. My house is living proof that something is very amiss!

Soooo, this time, I'm just taking on one 30-day challenge, but TWO!

Here are my new challenges:

  1. No News for 30 days
  2. Make my bed every morning

To avoid wading in garbage, I will hide any, and all, Facebook posts that are political in nature. I will limit my time on social media to 1/2 hour a day. 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes in the afternoon. Period.

Social media friends who are mired in political ugliness and cannot seem to disengage themselves from the perpetual turmoil and drama, I will either hide, or unfriend because this is not healthy - not for me, not for anyone - and I will not continue to rob myself of Joy, focus, clarity, or health.

Anyone want to join me???

Whole30 30-Day Program - Day 30!!!

Day 30!!! Woot woot!

Holy cow, I did it, and I feel fantastic too!

I'm going to keep going with the no grains or added sugar. Don't need them, don't miss them, and definitely do not want to go through detox/withdrawals again...EVER!

Beans? Meah. If they're in a dish I'll still eat it, but I don't miss them at all.

Dairy? No more Milk. The only dairy I really enjoy anymore is savory yogurt bowls. I'll try reintegrate my favorite grass-fed, plain yogurt to see if it bothers me, or not. If not, I'll incorporate that back into my diet. If so, it's outta here!

Cheese? I'd already largely gotten cheese out of my diet, so I'll treat it like legumes. If it's already in a dish, I'll eat it, but request added cheese be skipped.

Eating this full-on paleo/primal nutrition plan works for my body. I feel nourished, not just full and fed, energized and ready to take on the world.

Now that my Whole30 is done, I got on the scale. Weight on January 31st, 301 lbs. Weight on March 2nd, 286. That's 15 lbs down. I can definitely tell the difference in how my clothes fit. 😊

Honestly, y'all, I never thought I'd feel my spark come back, but it has!!!

If you're interested in what I did, please feel free to check them out!


But now, I'm getting ready to start another 30-Day Challenge...

Whole30 30-Day Program - Day 23

Well, well, well, not only have I made it this far, but I feel so amazing that I've committed to plunging ahead and completing a Whole60, possibly even a Whole90.

Since I began, I've had three hiccups:

  1. I ate two bananas.
  2. I ate three slices of sausage.
  3. Three meals a day is an absolute MUST.

Lessons Learned

I've worried in the past that, while I love bananas, they may not love me. They are listed as okay to eat foods in the Whole30 book, so I did. I regret having done so too!

My body treated those bananas like they were a gallon of pure sugar that got poured into my gas tank! My stomach grumbled unhappily, and my intestines were in knots! I felt shaky and anxious, and went through a serious crash and burn cycle. I could hardly stay awake.

Sausage? Same immediate, awful result.

The advantage of doing a Whole30 is your body gets clean, very clean, so things that triggers, which have been hidden beneath decades of awful food choices and layers of noxious chemicals, are unmasked, and obvious.

If I'd had any doubts that bananas, or sausage, does not like my body, they are completely gone now. No more bananas, or sausage, for me!

I used to eat only one, or two, meals a day, and had a hard time breaking 1,000 calories. Then I'd binge on total garbage for a month, or two. Then back to my stark diet.

At first, eating three actual, nutritious meals a day made me feel nauseous, but that only took about three days. My body got used to being well-nourished and liked it! I fell back into my old habit of only eating once, or twice a day for three days, and felt lethargic, apathetic, and lifeless!

Geeze, no wonder I felt like I'd lost my spark! My body was screaming for nourishment, and I was withholding it.

Message, received! 

Non-Scale Victory

I haven't been able to wear this shirt in years. It was too tight across my belly and booty, and it rolled up. Simply wouldn't stay down. Now, it fits perfectly!

Also, I used to get these angry red lines across my belly where the waistband of my underwear dug into my skin, but those are gone too. No angry red lines marring my skin when I undress at night! Woot woot!

Yay, for major non-scale victories!

Whole30 30-Day Program - Day 10

I've made it a third of the way! Woot woot!

Day 10 - Update

I woke up yesterday feeling energized. Not sluggish at all. I thought it might be a fluke, so I wanted to see how I feel today, and sure enough...Cheerfully bounced out of bed, ready to face the day!

Say whaaaatttt???

That hasn't happened to me in years! What in the heck is going on here?!?! My mind is clear, and my sleep is deeply, profoundly restful.

Breakfast o' Champions! ;-)

Breakfast o' Champions! ;-)

Want to know something else that's strange? Used to, I couldn't eat breakfast. I simply wasn't hungry when I woke up. I'd wait until around noon to eat, which might just be a piece of fruit, then I'd eat a regular meal at dinner time. Now, however, I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Not only that, but I'm ACTUALLY hungry when I wake up in the morning! I've been so disconnected and dysfunctional in my relationship with food that I haven't felt that in years!

Anybody feel me on that?

My relationship with food is changing. It's difficult to articulate. I am eating so well, and I feel so clean, so healthy, so nourished! Something is definitely different, and that is a good thing!


Detoxing is not easy! Think of it this way: you've got decades worth of toxic sludge trapped in your cells, there is only one way to get rid of it. As it leaves your cells, it is swimming in your blood waiting for your immune and elimination systems to clean it up, and get rid of it. They do a beautiful job of it, but that takes time.

While that process is taking place, you feel like HELL! Energetically, it kind of feels like surfing. One moment you feel fine, the next you're lethargic, and the minute after that you feel like you want to throw-up, then you're crying for no apparent reason.

Honestly, I never realized how closely your emotions are tied to your biochemistry!

Yesterday I had a mini-craving for something sweet, but I easily, immediately dismissed it with a, 'And go back to feeling like my soul is being sucked away? Pfffttt, sooo not worth it!'

Mmmmm, lunch!

Mmmmm, lunch!

When your body is detoxing, energetically and emotionally, it's kind of like ridding a roller coaster. The Whole30 book says that days 10 & 11 are the hardest. The point where most people quit.

"By this point, the newness of the program has word off. You've already experienced most of the unpleasant physical milestone, but have yet to see any of the "magic" the program promises..."


No me! I've gotten glimpses...I'm gonna keep going. I want to discover the magic.

Tiger Blood

What is Tiger Blood? The Whole30 book calls days 16 - 27 Tiger Blood! Tiger blood means fat adaption - burning fat for energy rather than sugar - has taken place, so your energy and emotions run smoothly and efficiently, and one morning you wake up "feeling like someone flipped a switch and turned on the awesome...and you feel unstoppable."

I am tired of feel wore-out and tired all the freaking time, so I've decided I am not even remotely interested in slipping quietly into middle age. I want my spark back. I want my vitality and vibrancy back. I wan to to feel wholly and completely ALIVE again. I want to experience "Tiger Blood!"

Non-Scale Victories

I weighed 301 lbs when I started this, but I'm not getting on the scale until it's over. Here are some lovely non-scale victories I've experienced since I began my Whole30 on January 31, 2017...

  • The whites of my eyes used to have a slightly yellow cast, but now they are very white.
  • The waistband of my underwear used to dig into my stomach and leave an angry red mark across my belly, but not anymore. No angry red line.
  • My hair is growing fast.
  • My nails used to be thin and tear easily, but now they are stronger, not so prone to tearing.

If you're interested in what I'm doing, please feel free to check them out!


Dream a Little Dream...Then Make it Happen

What is your goal in life? Do you still have one?

Even if you're retired, what is your dream vocation? Did you live that, or did you settle for what made you the most money? Did you get trapped into a profession, and make too much money to set it aside to pursue that crazy dream you had that could never pay well? What have you always WANTED to do, but used circumstances and events as an excuse to hold you back?

You know, that thing you always wanted to do, but it felt too impractical to pursue? 

Come now, be honest! 

Me? I am 52 years old, and I want to be an Author/Writer, Public Speaker, and middle-aged Adventuress when I grow up! A middle-aged Adventuress! There, I've said it! I've declared my intention. Now, how the hell do I make it happen?

According to everything I've ever read: to differentiate yourself from the pack, you've got to have a niche. One thing to focus your energy and attention on.

One. Singular. Thing.

To find that, experts say, ask yourself: what is your passion? What do you LOVE to do? What causes you to jump out of bed because you're so excited to greet the day?

But you know what I always say: what are you afraid of? What do you run from? What scares the hell out of you?

Since I've declared Writing, Speaking and Adventuring as my "thing", I'll delve into that, but bear in mind, this isn't specific to writing. Feel free to ditch the word writer, and fill in the blank with whatever your passion is.

All Summer long I'd seen the ads for Great Escape Publishing's Ultimate Travel Writer's Workshop all over Facebook, listened to a podcast with their head honcho, Lori Allen, and felt an itch deep within my gut to check them out. I was beyond amazed to find that their next Ultimate Travel Writer's Workshop was in New Orleans in September 2016.

Heck, that's practically in my backyard! **Cue the choir of heavenly Angels!** It certainly felt like a sign from the Universe, that's for sure!

At the workshop, this "find your niche" thing was a point they hammered home. Again, and again!

It seems there are many different types of travel writers: people who travel the globe sampling food and taking pictures of it, and/or wine; travel writers who specialize in travel with children, and/or grandchildren; travel writers who are vegan. The list, so it appears, is quite endless! 

Who knew? 

As I sat there listening, trying to envision what my niche could be, the first visions that rose within me were: scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, hiking the Great Wall, exploring the Giza Plateau...

And the one thing all of my visions had in common were they stared me, physically fit and vibrantly alive, in various physically challenging adventures.

Reality check: I get winded taking the stairs! As I looked down at my round belly and plump thighs my heart sank just a little...back to reality...

After the workshop ended, and real life intruded on the excited high I felt, I got incredibly discouraged because I didn't feel I have a niche.

A few things I know for a fact: I have no desire to take pictures of my food and write about it; I have less than no desire to drink my way across the globe, and write about my tipsy adventures either; and, while I love and adore my grandsons with all my heart and soul, I do not want to take them globetrotting with me either!

When I asked myself what I could do, those adventurous visions persisted, excited me, even...but then reality rudely intruded every time I breathlessly struggled to climb a flight of stairs, or get out of the recliner.

Have you ever felt your energy melt away? Sure, you'd felt listlessness and apathy before, but this was different. Like you're hemorrhaging, bleeding-out, only it's your life-force that's being sucked away, not your blood. (Can I get an amen?)

Like I said, I'm 52, and for the past few years, that's how I feel more times than not.

I'm...I'm...oh, dear GAWD, I'm middle-aged! How the fuck did this happen??? I didn't even notice it was creeping up on me, and yet, here it is!

I've crossed a threshold in my life, and I know it. I've experimented, and discovered that when something sparks my interest, and I engage with life by digging into it to learn everything I can about it, that feeling fades away. 

Because I felt the niche of being a middle-aged adventurer was beyond my grasp, I felt a bit overwhelmed and despondent. The hot desire to explore the world as an adventuress is definitely there, and try as I may to convince myself that it's beyond my grasp, it's not going away. Just thinking about it is exciting and gets my blood moving.

Why do I have to give up on the idea just because I'm fat and out of shape...

Uh-ho, this is the point where I feel the only way forward is to lose 150 pounds in the next month, or two, otherwise my dream is destined to fail, and...

At least, in the past when I've thought to reach for a goal that was beyond my grasp, that's where I've gone: My value and worth and freedom and ability to live a life of joy and adventure intimately tied to the scale...FUCK THAT!!!

(Insert blood-curdling scream here!) 

I've been there a million times before, I know you have too, and don't want to go there again! 

But what do I want? I want to dance and sing and travel and explore the world!

How do I make that happen without falling into the "diet-that-I'll-lie-to-myself-and-pretend-it's-not-really-a-diet-just-a-change-in-lifestyle" trap?

Identify my usual M.O, which went something like this...

I'm going to change each and every one of my bad habits all at once. TODAY! From now on, I'm going to work-out each and every day (and know in the pit of my gut that if I skip even a single day, no matter the lame-ass excuse, that means I'm a horrible person with absolutely no willpower or self-control for missing it anyway.) No more sugar. No more bread. (Bread is evil anyway and I'm a horrible person with absolutely no willpower or self-control for eating it anyway.) I'll read every diet book I can, even though it's not a diet, but a change in lifestyle, to "educate myself" on the latest fad...oops, I meant trend...oops, I meant...I'm a horrible person with absolutely no willpower or self-control if I stray from the "rules" of said lifestyle anyway...ad nauseam...

Been there. Done that. Got the body to prove it.

Can you identify your usual M.O.? What triggers you, and sends you down a particular road?

I want to travel the globe as a middle-aged adventuress. I want to ski and snorkel and scuba dive and ride a zip-line and skydive. (Yes, you read that correctly: SKYDIVE out of a perfectly good plane!) 

So, what does need to happen to make that a reality? I need a strong body.

First, I need to educate myself on what it REALLY takes to make a weakened, depleted body strong and healthy and vibrant. How does one change their body composition HEALTHFULLY?

Second, what's happening inside my heart and mind that makes vibrant health such a challenge?

I know from lots and lots and lots of experience that it's not by reading yet another stream of opinions by a medical doctor, who is really just trying to sell me something based on junk science. This time, I think I'll look to science to see what the actual research has to say...

When I first started college, I was a pre-nursing student, then I switched to pre-med, before the whole "you've got to take college algebra and geometry and calculus" thing screwed my plans up, and I realized I could never actually pierce the skin of another human being.

At any rate, I took lots of science courses: Biology I & II; Anatomy & Physiology I & II; Inorganic & Organic Chemistry, and Microbiology. So I've got a good understanding of how the glorious human body works on the cellular level.

Aside from that, what is the one thing - One. Singular. Thing. - I can do to get my body moving that my heart and mind will enjoy? I love to dance. They have group dance classes every morning at the Y, so I'm going to join.

I have a plan. A purpose. Something to new to learn. An unknown to explore.

Like clock-work, I feel my spark ignite, and the outward flow of my vital energy abruptly changes. And just like that, life-force energy is flowing toward me instead of away. 

Who knows, maybe my writing niche is exploring how to make a fat, weakened body and mind strong again, regardless of size, and how to get your spark back...

Finding Clarity and Re-Branding Cindy

A bit about what I've been up to lately...

I've taken a sabbatical from social media, blogging and podcasting for the past month, or so, and am so grateful I gave myself this time to gain some much needed clarity.

Have you ever had your life turned upside down? In the blink of an eye everything you knew was gone, and you suddenly find yourself, bruised and shaking, standing on the edge of an abyss with one foot hovering above the chasm, and your body weight pulling you forward? 

That's where I've been...

As many of you may know, I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Just a few weeks ago Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas experienced cataclysmic flooding. Not a once in a lifetime event, but a once in a millennium event. 

Many people I know and love dearly lost everything. Literally EVERYTHING: homes, cars, trucks, RVs, furniture, appliances, BBQs, lawn furniture, clothes, TV's, phones, pictures, pets, pantries, food, and countless treasured mementos gathered over the course of a lifetime. All gone. Most of it piled up at the curb as garbage waiting for the trash-man to haul it away.

Myself? I am fortunate that I only lost my car. But Gracie wasn't just a "car". She was my means of livelihood. She was my protector. She was my freedom.

My home is on the west side of the Mississippi river, 20 miles away from the flooding, and was snug and dry, but the confluence of events that took me to Denham Springs on Friday, August 12th are nothing short of mind-blowing.

We went to bed in the midst of a full-blown thunderstorm. Thunder and lightening shook the earth, our house, with such violence that it made me feel like the sky might split in two. The kind of storm that let's you feel natures raw power, and puts you in your place as a mere mortal.

In the wee hours of the night the severe weather alert text messages started. It was so annoying that we turned the phone off so we could get some sleep. This is southern Louisiana, after all: it rains often.

I do not watch TV. If it weren't for my Love, I wouldn't have cable TV at all! So I had no idea what was brewing. About 30 minutes before I was scheduled to leave for work, my boss texted me that pick-up of the drugs was postponed until the weather was safe.

It was still raining, but there was no water standing in my yard, or the neighbors, so I assumed he meant that whenever the rain stopped. Which it eventually did.

Shortly before noon he called me and asked if I wanted to work. Of course, I said yes.

When I got to his office, he informed me that none of the men wanted to work, so I actually had two routes worth of work to do. 

More money? Score!

I changed my route to go to Prairieville and Gonzales first before circling back into Livingston Parish, then East Baton Rouge Parish. If I hadn't, I would've known sooner the reality of the situation, but I had my favorite podcasts playing, and was completely oblivious of the sheer volume of flood water filling the Comite and Amite rivers heading toward East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parishes.

16 stops total, and I'd completed twelve of them without a hint of what I was driving toward. 

Driving north on the two mile stretch of Pete's Highway in Denham Springs between I-12 and Florida Blvd, which was essentially dry. Sure there was water in the ditches from the rainfall, but nothing standing on the road, and certainly nothing that would set off alarm bells.

It wasn't a head-on collision with flood water that took my car out. More like being side-swiped by a tidal wave. The water came up super quick. The road was dry, and then it wasn't. Just like that!

This happened so fast that things transpired in fractions of seconds, but time felt much longer than it actually was. In reality, there was no time to "think", only to act. In less time than it takes to blink your eyes, water submerged my tailpipe. Gracie, my trusty Kia, started sputtering and coughing. and I was deathly afraid she would stall.

Trucks going in the opposite direction moved quickly to escape the rapidly rising water, causing waves in the water that swamped my trusty little Kia. The swirling current caused Gracie to sway unsteadily pushing me toward the ditch to my right, which, although it was full of water, I knew it was super deep and a very steep drop.

Then something strange caught my eye, and I glanced to the pasture at my left. The tall grass behaved strangely. It moved so fast that it looked like it was boiling, and strange debris - a green plastic lawn chair, beer bottle, a McDonald's cup, and other rubbish - jumped and bounded on top of it all, as it moved closer to me.

It was a one to two foot wall of flood water heading toward me carrying trash and debris and treasures along with it. I knew only one thing: if it reached me, I'd be swept away into the deep drop-off to my right.

I'm great in the clutch. When shit goes down, my mind smooths right out and runs super efficiently. Oh, I fall apart later, and I certainly did, but in that moment my instincts took over, and saved my life like they do every time I listen and follow instructions. 

I hit the accelerator of my trusty four-cylinder Kia, Gracie, who was already sputtering under the onslaught of water she fought against, and she shot forward as if she were a monster Hemi! Wahoo!!!

Beautiful Gracie carried me to safety, then sputtered and died. My instincts told me to get out and push her to higher ground because the water was still coming, and it was relentless! So I did.

I pushed her about a quarter of a mile, but not all by myself. Two different men jumped out of their trucks and helped me push her to safety.

My Love actually owns a four-wheel drive Hemi, and he came to get me. My grouchy knight in shining armor! He was annoyed, but in his defense, he had no clue what was happening. Hindsight is always 20/20 because prior to an experience, you have no frame of reference to call upon to understand the magnitude of destruction.

Anyway, he came and got me, and we completed my route too! Hospice patients still needed their medication, after all.

It was in the process of delivering the medication that we got a hint of the magnitude of what was happening. At every turn the roads were flooded, and we had to find alternate ways to get my patients their medication.

It was...an adventure!

You don't live through something like that, and come out the other side unscathed. I stood at the edge of an abyss, and realized there were things I was doing with my life that I simply can no longer do:

  • I cannot go backward, I can only go forward
  • I cannot drive 300 - 400 miles a day to earn a living anymore
  • I cannot help someone remove the splinter from their eye when I've got a fucking tree stuck in mine
  • I cannot be a self-help guru
  • I cannot waste anymore of my life trying to figure out what I want to do with it

There is a line in Season 5 of the Showtime series Dexter that really nails this: "Some events are so big they change your DNA."

It certainly did mine. I'm truly grateful because, while this flood destroyed homes and property and lives, it also washed away much internal garbage that was clouding my vision, and brought our community together in a way nothing else could have.

For years people have told me, "you're so inspiring." And I thought that meant that I was supposed to teach people how to be...well...I was never really sure.

I have tried so many different ways live up to other people's expectation of me to BE inspiring, and failed at each and every one. Not just failed, but felt deeply inauthentic, and unfulfilled while trying to "help people".

Perhaps I've just gone through an existential crisis brought about by facing my own mortality, but I'm good with it because I've come out the other side with an amazing sense of clarity!

  1. I do not want to "help you" because you are fully capable of governing your own life, and don't really need me to guide you anywhere.
  2. You're not broken, and neither am I, so neither one of us need to be fixed, or healed, or cleansed because we're not broken, diseased, or dirty.
  3. I love sharing my experience of life, and have ultimately come to realize that me being authentic, and honest, and...well...fiercely ME is what folks find inspiring.
  4. I have nothing to teach, and only myself, and my experience of life, to give, and that is enough.

Marie Forleo said, "Clarity come through engagement." and she is absolutely correct.

Releasing this weird need to be looked up to, or needed by others is so freeing I almost don't know where to begin. It wasn't ME who needed those things to feel loved, admired, worthy, or to belong, my Ego did.

What's Next for me?

I have no desire to be a self-help guru. The very thought feels pretentious and arrogant.

Instead, I'm re-branding myself. I've had to figure out what I love, what I want, and how to get congruence between my thoughts, words and actions. I love to travel, write, podcast, give speeches, meet new people, explore new places, and I want to learn how to take awesome photographs.

I'm a writer and it is ridiculous that I do not make a living at it, so that is going to change too.

Today, I put a stake in the ground: I am a Freelance Writer, Blogger, Podcaster & Photographer in search of Congruence! From this point forward, I'll use my blog to share my adventures in making that into a reality, and use my home page as a portfolio for my articles.

I may have to get a "real day job" to support myself while building my portfolio, and I'm okay with that.

For those of you looking for an inspiring, quote meme-ing self-help guru wannabe? That ain't me.

For those of you interested in learning something new, sharing adventure in far-off places, and meeting interesting people in a variety of ways while spreading sunshine? Buckle up! 

Radical Self-Acceptance - Part II

WARNING: Nudity and Explicit Material.

Photographer Jen Trombly

Photographer Jen Trombly

Summer 2014

Peace, like all things, is impermanent. No matter how big the battle, nor how stunning the victory, it doesn't last.

From the moment I made peace with myself (see blog post Radical Self-Accpetance - Part I) it took years, but eventually discontent crept in, which drove me to take my hard-won self-acceptance, and sense of deep inner-peace, to a whole new level.

Discontent can serve you, but only if you're willing to turn and walk toward it.

The Past Informs Our Future

Joseph Campbell said, "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." So, I went spelunking!

It would be nice if I could blame every bad decision I'd ever made on the media, but there comes a time when one must take responsibility for oneself.

I was never fat as a child. The reasons I got fat a young woman are complex and deeply traumatic. I won't go into gory details, but suffice to say twice in my life, once when I was 17 and once when I was 18, older men attempted to rape me, and, after I successfully fought them off, they both became enraged and tried to murder me. In more ways than one, the last one succeeded.

  • Before, I was bold and audacious, cocky and sure of myself, and comfortable with my sensuality/sexuality.
  • After, I was still sure of myself, but was left with a need to hide. To fly under the radar. To be invisible.

Years ago, I was a runner. I ran from life, ran from myself, and ran from responsibility, but that all ended when I reached my breaking point. The reason the media held such sway over my choices in life is because I lived unconsciously. Aimlessly.

Once I found peace within myself, over the intervening years, I turned and faced my demons head on. I didn't just face them, I embraced them. I'll go into embracing fear in a future blog post, but it is crucial to this piece that you know how I learned to deal with my issues.

Instead of telling you, I'll show you...

Dating In Mid-Life

Photographer Jen Trombly

Photographer Jen Trombly

When did the rules of dating change? I married at 18, and divorced at 42, so 23 years had passed since I'd been on a date. Well, it was more like 25 years, because for the first couple of years after my divorce, I deliberately didn't date anyone. Once I did start dating again, I was horrified at peoples behavior.

Respect for women? Gone!

Patience to allow emotions to develop, ripen and mature? Gone!

And, for God's sake, when did it become kosher to send a women you've never met a picture of your dick???

For an over 40 fat woman, people can be cruel, and dating can be horrific. People are hungry to love and be loved, which leaves them prey to all manner of dishonorable players.

I don't mean to make it sound like there were no interested parties, because there were, or that all middle-aged men in the dating market are despicable, because they're not. I've met some wonderful men I'll call friend for the rest of my life, but just because someone is interested in me doesn't mean I feel attracted to him.

Photographer Jen Trombly

Photographer Jen Trombly

There seems to be this prevailing sense that if you are middle-aged and single you'd better grab on to the first man who shows an interest in you because he might be the last one who ever does, and God forbid you end up alone!

After leaving my marriage, I swore I'd rather spend the rest of my life alone then spend one night laying next to a man who isn't fully in to me.

Still, taking your clothes off with a new man, no matter how much you both like and care for each other, will bring all your insecurities screaming to the surface. I could feel them clawing at me, choking me, smothering me in their need for validation. In that situation, you have two choices, you can either suppress them again, which leads to anger, bitterness and resentment, or embrace them so you can deal with them, which leads to ultimate freedom.

For the most part, I embraced them, which allowed me to keep my peace no matter how turbulent the fear and insecurities which clamored inside me. But it always seemed to invite a deeper-level of pain to surface.

In a weird way, I was consumed by sexual fantasies, but could get no real satisfaction from relationships much less from sex. Sex? OMG, that was an effort in frustration!

I could blame men, fatness, or the media for my dissatisfaction and inability to form healthy relationships with men, but it was not because I'm fat, but because I had trauma that I hadn't looked at, dealt with, or healed in DECADES, and thus could not embrace my own beauty!!

Embrace The Pain

Photographer Jen Trombly

Photographer Jen Trombly

You cannot deal with something if you don't know it's there. By the same token, deliberately avoiding something traumatic, when you know damned good and well it's there, is pathologically detrimental and can lead to a whole host of mental illnesses.

I'd been in therapy off and on dealing with issues as they arose, and I'd reached the point where I was not afraid to look at myself, or dig deeper to rout out the source of my pain. My therapist encouraged me to "conquer" that which caused me pain, but I had a different idea...

I didn't run from it. I didn't hide from it. I didn't fight against it. I embraced that shit!

I found this radical approach worked every single time I applied it to my life, and I wanted to use it to deal with this cloying need to hide once and for all. So I began to look for opportunities to embrace my pain rather than fight it.

Public speaking? Once my greatest fear, is now my chosen profession and I feel so empowered because as I embrace the panic and fright, it yields the most magnificent energy, which I can use.

Fear of extreme heights? Not only can I sit on the rim of the Grand Canyon and meditate, but the terror I initially feel sweeps my Ego aside and fuels my meditation to the point that I can actually feel the presence of the Divine swirling in, through, and around me.

When you engage authentic emotion, accept and embrace it, it yields to you. Surrenders itself, and becomes raw power you can harness and use to take your life into the stratosphere. It's spiritual rocket fuel!

But how do you embrace things buried in your subconscious mind? Pain and rage and hatred that have been buried so deep that you're not even consciously aware they exist?

The solution presented itself...

The Offer

Photographer Jen Trombly

Photographer Jen Trombly

I belong to a drum circle called the Good Vibe Tribe. Over the years members have come and gone, but we manage to keep in touch. When one whose moved away comes back to visit, we have a grand celebration: beats and eats and dancing with fire! It's a magical occasion.

My best friend Kim came home for a visit in June of 2014, so, of course, drum circle was a full-on festival.

While we were visiting, one of our friends, Jen Trombly, who happens to be an extremely talented photographer, asked me if I'd be interested in doing a boudoir session with her.

I was...STUNNED! I truly love myself, but the thought of someone seeing me naked, judging me for being fat, sent a wave of panic through me that threw me for a loop!

Panic? I was not expecting that at all!

Fear? I was terrified! And excited...and horrified...but mostly terrified!

Someone might see me naked??? There are no word to express the desperate need to hide that consumes me, threatens to choke me, at the very thought.

It was also the perfect opportunity to drive the demons lurking in my subconscious mind to the surface to be loved and accepted and embraced, so, of course, I said YES!

The Challenge

I did a video journal as I moved through the various stages of this journey to Radical Self-Acceptance. Here is the first installment...

Breathless Boudoir video journal, July 15, 2014.

Did all my repressed insecurities come screaming to the top? Yes, they did! While the written word is a power tool for helping dig beneath the layers of garbage, there is nothing like seeing it happen in real time to truly understand. If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth millions, if not billions...

Boudoir Photo Session August 31, 2014

Photographer Jen Trombly

Photographer Jen Trombly

It took everything I had to walk through the door of the Breathless Boudoir studio. I wanted to run, but didn't. Instead, I let the feelings rise, whatever they were. I never told myself I "shouldn't" feel this, or that. I never repressed my feelings at all.

When panic set in, I felt it fully. Allowed panic to simply be panic, but did not allow it to alter, or control my behavior. I didn't just accept panic, I welcomed it. Allowed it to stand in the light with loving respect and embraced it. I breathed deeply into the experience of panic, and do you know what happened? It dissipated of its own accord.

When insecurity set in, I felt it fully. I welcomed it. Embraced it. And it dissipated too.

And rage, and regret, and terror, and this gawd-awful need to hide that has plagued me for decades...

Before you protest, let me say there is a big difference between feeling an emotion fully, and feeding a "story" while engaging in melodrama. You can feel something powerfully, yet not allow it to dictate, alter, or control your behavior.

As the artists at the studio went to work on my hair and make-up, Jen and I chatted. When they finally allowed me to look in the mirror I was so pleased. They did it light and natural, not thick and heavy.

Jen Trombly is such a pro! As the photo session began, my nerves slid into oblivion, and I felt playful, and pretty, and...yeah, I felt super sexy too! All the photos in this piece are taken from that photo session.

So, did I get nakey? Did I go commando? Well, yes, yes, I did. There wasn't a moment of decision. It was seamless, and organic, and Jen was such a pro she captured my moment of liberation!

As of this writing, two years have lapsed since my boudoir photography session, and changes within me have been lasting and profound. I found a whole new level of self-respect, self-awareness, and self-acceptance, that have had a lasting impact on my self-esteem.

Beautiful, precious memories I will forever treasure, a deeper aspect of my evolution, and the opportunity to allow negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions which had been buried and repressed in my subconscious mind to rise to the surface and stand in the light with loving acceptance.

My Dream

That Summer I had a dream that I was swimming naked in a pool of warm, clear water. I felt relaxed, at peace. As I swam I noticed black, oily specks in the water that looked like tar. I wondered where they came from, and looked around for the source.

It was coming from me.

Sticky, oily tar oozing from my pores, from my heart, from my solar plexus chakra. As it left my body, the pool of warm, refreshing water carried it away.

When I woke the next morning I felt all the rage, anger, and betrayal I had fought so hard to keep hidden had left me.

2016 and Beyond...

Do I love myself? Absolutely!

Do I accept myself as brave and bold and beautiful? I would say yes, but I in reality, the better answer is...for the moment. At least until the discontent sets in, and I need to go deeper.

Change is the only constant in life because, however great the triumph, there is always a higher level to reach for. Always a deeper layer to uncover.

We Interrupt This Blog...

Some of you know me personally, but some of you don't. I live in SW Louisiana, and have been personally impacted by the flooding.

My family and I are fine, our home is safe, and nowhere near the flooding. But my car, my trusty Kia, is another matter altogether. On Friday afternoon, I got caught in rapidly rising water, and had to abandon my vehicle.

It could be fine. It could be totaled. At this point, I just don't know. My family is safe. I'm safe. I'm insured. Many people I love and/or care for lost everything, but their lives. Please keep them in your prayers.

Life takes some crazy twists and turns, so please bear with me as I straighten out the kinks and curveballs the Universe has chucked my way.

Blessing to you...

Finding My Purpose

Elizabeth Gilbert posted this quote on her Facebook page, and it struck a chord deep within me. I purposely did not read what she wrote, because I'm having my own epiphany right now, and didn't want her beautifully eloquent prose to muddy my experience. I'll undoubtedly go back and read it later, but for the moment...

I'm really struggling to define my purpose with my Facebook page and blog, because all the experts assure me I'm supposed to have one! I'm supposed to "solve your problem", or "empower you to...blah, blah, blah..", so that eventually I'll be able to create a huge mailing list, which I can use to make money off of you, but that all feels so disrespectful, so conniving, so mistrusting of your experience of life.

I've been struggling with this for so long because I realize that there is nothing wrong with you. You don't need my help, or anyone else's, and you certainly don't need fixing. Even though it may feel like it sometimes, you're not broken.

Truthfully, I feel like a hypocrite by claiming to be an "expert" when I'm still just figuring my way through life just like everyone else.

Help you find your way? Fuck that shit!

Empower yourself! I'll cheer you on!

Fall on your face! I will be an anchor for you as you learn the lesson and rise stronger!

Scream! I'll hold you and not try to tell you what you're supposed to think and feel.

I trust you, trust your experience of life, and know that the greatest gift in life is learning to trust yourself.

In fact, I realize that I don't want to help you do anything, and I don't want you to help me either.

What I want to do is share my experience of life with you, and give you a safe place to share yours with no fear of judgement, and no expectation that somebody else needs to fix you, or heal you, or light your path. You are whole and beautiful and flawed and gorgeous, and fully capable of learning your own lessons, and healing your own heart and mind.

At last, I feel free to live and create and share and not give a damn if I write in obscurity for the rest of my life! I'll write books, and share them with you. I'll speak publicly, and let you know where and what I'll be talking about. But I won't disrespect you with an endless litany of sales pitches.

Radical Self-Acceptance - Part I

**Warning: partial nudity**

What is wrong with you?

Photographer Jen Trombly

Photographer Jen Trombly

If you were raised in western culture, chances are you know perfectly well what your flaws are because media and advertisers make sure you do.

In fact, many of us have got lists of flaws!



Why is this?

It's so easy to blame individuals for, well, for being human, but there is a systemic problem that pervades our culture: fear based media and marketing.

Every "Salesmanship 101" class in business school teaches the primary edict: to sell anything, anything at all, solve the customer’s problem.

But what if they don’t have a problem?

Create a fear, then sell ‘em the cure!

What's wrong with you? Everything!

  • You’re too pale
  • You’re too dark
  • You’re too tall (buy flats so boys will like you better)
  • You’re too short (buy these shoe lifts so women will think you’re taller)
  • This product will give you better skin (unless it breaks you out)
  • Then you can purchase the antidote
  • You’re too thin (better bulk up)
  • You’re too fat…YIKES!

From the time you're in diapers you are inundated with the message that who and what you are is NEVER enough, so you need to purchase something to fix yourself!

This cycle of "Create Fear → Solve Problem → Create New Fear →" is endless. In fact, it is the machine that drives our economy, and we are all subject to it as long as we are engaged with it the media.

Take Pharmaceutical commercials for example: If you've ever watched a commercial for ANY pharmaceutical product, the advertisers create exciting images, and saturate the color. They do this so your brain is so excited by the images, it doesn't pay attention to the side-effect disclaimers because nobody in their right mind would take something that could potentially kill them.

How about the Botox commercials where other women are looking at the camera (at YOU) pityingly, patronizingly concerned, and say things like, "You look tired." "You look worried." "Are you okay?" (Create a fear.) Botox is the solution to looking old. (Sell 'em the cure.)

Yes, grown-ass women inject the botulism bacterium in their face to deaden their facial muscles so they don't look old. Does it matter that, according to the National Institute of Health that ..."Botulinum toxin, one of the most poisonous biological substances known, is a neurotoxin..."? No! Behold the cure to looking old, which, in media-driven American culture, is the second worst thing a woman can be.

Not only does media and advertisers influence what you put in your body, but they drive cultural perceptions of beauty, and self-worth. The implications of the power they wield for the sake of a buck are profound.

How This Has Effected Me Personally

Personal trainer Isaac Miller & I

Personal trainer Isaac Miller & I

I am a fat American woman. Everything in my culture screams at me that I am gross, disgusting, lazy, sick, ignorant, deficient, unattractive, undesirable, unacceptable, unworthy, and ultimately unlovable.

At one point in my life I actually bought in to that too.

The things I’ve done to my beautiful body, mind and soul in order to fit someone else's version of perfection run the gamut from benign neglect to horrifyingly malignant abuse.



As punishment for a body that stubbornly refused to conform to current beauty standards, I:

  • Exercised my way into exhaustion and injury
  • Dieted my way into obesity (No, I did not misspeak.)
  • And even butchered my beautiful body by getting my stomach stapled back in the 90’s to lose the weight I oh, so desperately wanted to lose, only to discover - when I slowly gained it all back - that living in a perpetual state of famine merely trains the body to store fat more efficiently.

There is no feeling of failure quite like that one, let me tell you!

What was wrong with me?

I lost hope, and gave up. I quit dieting, but couldn’t stop wishing I were thinner.

I realized I was going to have to make peace with my body, and find a way to love myself, but had no clue where to begin.

One morning, as I stepped out of the shower, I caught my naked reflection in the full length mirror, which was usually hidden by my bathrobe, so I wouldn’t have to look at myself.

I was horrified by what I saw.

I hated myself.

Hated everything I saw.

Despair and loathing washed over me as I realized I was probably going to be like this forever. I felt broken.

And then, the strangest thing happened.

From the depths of my despair can the thought…

  • What if I wasted my life wishing I was someone, or something, else?

Time is precious to me. Once it's gone, it's gone. The only thing more unbearable than being fat is wasting my time. Wasting my life.

As I stared transfixed at my reflection, I wondered,

  • What if the only thing wrong with me was the fact that I wondered what was wrong me? (My thought process.)
  • What if I could be fat and fabulous at the exact same time?

My instinct was to push such a blasphemous notions away, but the nagging feeling that I could be both bountiful and beautiful persisted.

I decided to look for one thing I genuinely liked about myself.

One thing of value...

My hair!

I was blessed with a great head of hair. I took my time, and found a stylist I fell in love with at a high-end salon. Together, she and I found a style that flattered me. Then we added some color, and she taught me how to take care of my hair.

I vowed to take care of my hair, which I have done for over 10 years now. No matter how broke I've been, I buy salon quality products that work well on my hair.

Emboldened by my success, I soon looked for other things I liked...

  • My skin
  • My smile
  • My eyes
  • My kindness
  • My compassion
  • My silliness
  • My intellect

Before long, I found that I genuinely liked myself.

I found peace.

I wish I could say it was all me, but it wasn’t.

More than a year before this peacemaking experience happened, something miraculous happened that helped open the door for my personal awakening: after my divorce I couldn’t afford cable, much less frivolous things like magazines.

Me, taken 8/3/06

Me, taken 8/3/06

At 42, I was a full-time college student, 3/4-time employee with one teenage daughter still at home, and had just ended a 23 year marriage! There was no time to pine for all the TV shows I was missing. Not only could I not sit at home missing what I didn't have, I had to go to the library or Starbucks for internet, so endless scrolling and aimless browsing was out of the question too.

As such, I was no longer bombarded by media and advertisers.

Instead of wasting my precious time plopped down on the couch watching TV, I filled my mind by reading good, empowering material.

Without a TV, I lost my taste for fast food, lost my desire to attend ITT Tech, and lost my overwhelming urge to sue some one. LOL

Seriously, as the cultural conditioning slipped away, so did my self-loathing.

Which makes me wonder…

  • What if we all turned off our TVs, ditched the magazines, and social media, and stopped giving the media and advertisers prime real estate in our minds?
  • What if we got off the couch, went outside to play?
  • What if you all discovered there is nothing wrong with you?

I'd like to say that this was the end of my struggle with self-acceptance, but in reality, self-acceptance is a process, not an epiphany. It is an unfolding. Levels to work through, peel, and shed like the layers of an onion...

Here is a link to my podcast, Go Deeper, which spurned this series of Radical Self-Acceptance blog posts...

Find a Compelling Why

Most of us are born with an innate sense that we are here for a reason. That our existence serves a purpose, even if we don't know exactly what it is.

While there are many holy texts that document the generation, degeneration and regeneration of the human soul - like the Bible, Tao, Bhagavad Gita, and the Quran - there is no owners manual specific to your make and model that spells your life's purpose out for you.

When we are young, we are supremely confident in our dreams and creativity. As we grow older we become less sure of ourselves. As we age, and our dreams never materialize, many of us shrink as we become disappointed, resigned and resentful.

  • How do we lose ourselves?
  • Can we get our sense of purpose back?
  • If we don't, what is the cost to humanity?

How Do We Lose Ourselves?

Our formative years are filled with fun and play, through which we discover our unique combination of gifts and talents. (It's my personal belief that they were given to us to help humanity to evolve by making this world a better place.)

When we're young it's okay to be messy. It's expected! But during the mess, we also encounter stumbling-blocks we must wrestle with to allow for their fullest expression.

This is the point where we begin to shut down our sense of wonder and creativity.

It would be lovely if we didn't have stumbling-blocks, but that's not how we're wired. In fact, Dr. Brene Brown said that human beings are actually wired for struggle.

Part of the struggle is: we want to feel good and be happy, but need pain for contrast, variety and incentive. Tony Robbins said that all human behavior is driven by pain and pleasure. "We have a need to avoid pain, and gain pleasure. But of the two, we will do far more to avoid pain than we will ever do to gain pleasure."

The paradox: we want to feel good, but struggle is uncomfortable. In fact, it can be painful.

Everything has a constructive edge and a destructive edge, and that includes positivity and negativity.

In Western culture we're all about letting go of the negative, and being positive. It's to the point that we live in an era of "negaphobia", where anything that is painful, difficult, or challenging is seen as a sign from the universe that we're on the wrong track. Thus, we avoid anything that smacks of negativity, especially struggle.

Can We Get Our Sense of Purpose Back?

In The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science, Judge Thomas Troward said, "The human is not creative. Creativity comes from Source and already exists. God created humans for the express purpose of assembling and disseminating (spreading) creativity into material form."

This means you were created as a channel through which creativity can move as it seeks material form. To accomplish that task, you must prepare yourself by sharpening your gifts and talents into skill and mastery.

Those damn stumbling-blocks again! Stumbling blocks not faced, embraced and mastered evolve into demons that haunt us and rob us of our potential.

Is there a way to dissolve stumbling-blocks without sacrificing your sense of passion and purpose? If there is, I do not know it!

There are workshops and seminars galore that claim to reconnect you with your passion and purpose. For a whole weekend, you can pay someone large sums of money to help you explore, discuss and reconnect you with what makes you happy and gives you joy.

But happiness and joy are elusive qualities, and the harder you search for them, the more elusive they become.

Happiness and joy are wonderful emotions, but once experienced fully, dissipate quickly, and leave a warm, pleasant glow in their wake.

We associate purpose with passion, and for a good reason too!

Have you ever danced with a muse, and/or been swept away by passion?

There is nothing "pleasant" about it!!! Passion and inspiration are raw, consuming and visceral! In her book "Big Magic" Elizabeth Gilbert said, 'Inspiration will take you on a wild ride, then throw you off of a cliff, and as you lay in a broken, bloodied heap on the ground will sidle up next to you and whisper, 'That was fun! Wanna do it again?''

If you are searching for something as powerful as passion, and your life's purpose, I don't think we're gong to find it somewhere that makes us feel pleasant, or nice, or all warm and fuzzy either.

I have a different ideas of where you can possibly reconnect with your purpose visa vie, your passion. Think back to your carefree childhood days playing, dreaming and creating...

  • What was it about you that set you apart?
  • What had you crying into your pillow because you were so different from everybody else?
  • What did you have to hide, shame, or smother within yourself so that you didn't make other people uncomfortable?
  • What was your biggest flaw that everybody from your parents, neighbors, and teachers told you was inappropriate?

Explore that! It may not make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but it will tap into powerful emotion, and maybe even help you regain something precious you'd buried deep within yourself.

At What Cost to Humanity?

My friend, Marlin Glenn, gave an award winning speech at Toastmasters entitled, "Don't Rob Me!" His message was that within each and every one of us lay dormant potential: the cure for cancer; perhaps the secret to tapping into the sun for free, unlimited power for the planet; or how to end of poverty. But if you shrink from your potential, or play small, you rob us all of your gifts, your talents, your experience, your wisdom, your brilliance!

What are we all so afraid of?

In her magnificent book "A Return to Love" Marianne Williamson famously wrote,

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Mahatma Gandhi said, "A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes."

Which makes me wonder: are you given a purpose, or are you given a sense of purpose, and that it is for you to explore and define for yourself?

For my day job, I work with hospice patients, and every day I see the end result of talent squandered, dreams never gone for, and last breath drawn choked with regret. That may seem harsh, even cruel, but it is the truth.

On the other hand, I also meet glorious, interesting, beautiful individuals who have lived life fully, deeply and passionately, who make the transition with absolute grace. Unfortunately, they are very rare, but when I meet them, their luminosity envelopes me, their peace comforts me, and their grace humbles me. And they inspire me to live deeply, as well.

Giving to Give

This is pure genius by Marie Forleo!!!

I used to be a "give to receive" kind of person, and was also deeply unhappy and unfulfilled. It wasn't until I realized that I was the author of my own dissatisfaction by "GIVING" to be a martyr that things began to change for me. In fact, by martyring myself I made it impossible for anybody else to live up to what I thought I deserved in return.

Thankfully, a lot has changed since then! For my day job while I'm building my platform and writing my book, I deliver medication to hospice patients. In doing so, I found a calling to provide emotional support to the patient's caregivers. This is not something I get paid for, but it just felt natural to bolster the sagging spirits of a human being whose mate of many decades, or parent, or child, was dying.

Everyone focuses their attention on the patient, which is as it should be, but these beautiful souls need loving support too. It is as sacred to care for someone as they leave this world as it is to bring someone in. Sometimes just a hug and a sincere blessing is enough to brighten their day, and give them the energetic strength to keep going. In this situation, they are spent, and have nothing tangible to give, and yet their grateful smiles fill me with indescribable joy and profound peace. (Sorry to wax poetic, but this is something I care deeply about.)

Since learning to give with absolutely no expectation of what I'll get in return, my relationships have grown into rich, deeply intimate sources of satisfaction and fulfillment. The relationships that were unhealthy transactions have fallen away. It is deeply empowering to KNOW I make a difference in peoples lives, and my life is infused with love and gratitude and compassion because I give it away freely.

Thanks for posting, Marie Forleo, and for helping to change the global conversation from giving to receive to giving to give!!! Well done, Team Forleo peeps!!! :-)

Playing With The Law Of Attraction - Part 1

I gave this talk at ToastMasters this week, and don't feel I'm quite done with the subject, so I thought I'd write it as a blog post too.

The Law Of Attraction (LOA)

LOA is the New Thought/Metaphysical principle which states "like attracts like" on the level of thought. That what you think creates a magnetic draw which has the power to "attract" things into existence. Or, as Mike Dooley, who pens the fabulous Notes From The Universe says, "Thoughts become things, so choose the good ones."

"The Secret"

My lovely sister, Celena turned me on to the documentary, "The Secret" in 2007-ish. It was my introduction to the LOA, and I was smitten from the outset!

"The Secret" interviews various modern-day metaphysical luminaries on how the LOA works, and how to apply it in your life.

The inspiring cast of luminaries that spoke my heart included:

  • Michael Bernard Beckwith
  • Mike Dooley
  • Jack Canfield
  • Bob Proctor
  • Lisa Nichols
  • Joe Vitale
  • Marci Shimoff
  • Fred Alan Wolf
  • John Assaraf
  • John Hagelin
  • Bob Doyle.

The rules for how to enact LOA are simple:

  1. Ask
  2. Believe
  3. Receive

Before the final credits rolled, I decided I was going to play with it.

Flirting With The LOA

Kim Forman, Kaylynn Marie, Photographer.

Kim Forman, Kaylynn Marie, Photographer.

"Make it your intention to attract a cup of coffee." they said.

I don't drink coffee, but I adore my morning iced tea from Starbucks, so I made it my intention to attract a glass of iced tea.

Dutifully, I visualized the barista handing my iced tea and telling me to have a wonderful day.

The first morning, nothing happened.

The second morning, nothing happened.

Undaunted I carried on with my visualization.

The third morning, as I pulled up to the window the barista wore a wide smile, and said, "The person in the car ahead of you paid for your drink. They said to have a wonderful day!"

Say, WHAT?!?!?!

I was hooked!


What Dreams May Come

I'm just kicking things off, so I decided to dust off some of my older writings, that I truly love, and thought I'd share them here while I'm preparing new blog content. Originally posted December 2014 on thedivinequest.com.

Please enjoy...

A soft, pink cylinder of happiness wrapped in crinkly, bright yellow waxed paper. So chewy, so rubbery, so yummy, so sweet! Granted, I was only four at the time, but I’d never wanted anything so much in my short life. My fingers itched to touch it. My mouth watered in anticipation. It wasn’t just chewing on a piece of Double Bubble which stirred my desire, but even at that tender age I had a budding work ethic. You see, my brother had recently taught me how to blow a bubble, and I never lost an opportunity to hone my newly acquired skill. In fact, the girl down the block could blow a bubble within a bubble, and knew I’d have to work extra hard to get to that level of bubble blowing mastery.

Sweeping the neighbor’s porch and found pennies (which is perhaps why I’m one of the luckiest people alive) went to feed my bubble blowing proficiency quest, but that day I was short on funds.

Standing next to my mother at the checkout stand at our neighborhood grocery store, the dazzling array of candy bars, chewing gum, and hard candies on the rack next to the cash register held no allure for me. It was the Double Bubble I wanted…no, NEEDED! I pulled at my mother’s hemline as she chatted amicably with the store clerk, but she ignored me.

Yes, I knew it wasn’t polite to interrupt adults, but she wouldn’t respond…

It’s only fair to admit that, along with my burgeoning work ethic, which has served me well my entire life, I had a certain disregard for authority figures and “the rules” when they inconvenienced me, which has, ironically enough, made my life a bit of a bumpy ride!


She chatted on as the clerk rang up her purchases. I tugged her skirt again as I gazed longingly at the piece of bubble gum that seemed to call my name.


I tugged harder and she swatted my hand away, but never looked down or skipped a beat in her conversation. In those days she stood on principle, and I knew she wouldn’t pay me the slightest bit of attention because I was being rude. While admittedly an odd combination, I am both passionate and pragmatic. (Living proof, if you will, that God has a sense of humor!) Pitching a fit never worked because she’d just throw a pitcher of ice water on me to cool me off (yes, I’d tried, and yes, she had…many times!), and if I kept on, I’d feel the back of her hand upside my head, so I let up.

Not that I’d lost my interest in that lovely piece of Double Bubble, mind you. Oh, no! In fact, it loomed larger than life before me. Tempting me with its sweet, rubbery yumminess! Taunting me with visions of the neighborhood children gasping in admiration and wide-eyed wonder as I blew a bubble within a bubble within a bubble! My eyes feasted on it, then darted to my mother, to the store clerk who could only see the top of my head from where he stood behind the counter, then back to the gum.

It wasn’t premeditated, I swear! I didn’t walk into that store with my mother thinking, ‘I think I’ll steal a piece of bubble gum today!’ Nevertheless…my heart pounded in my throat, and yes, I reached my hand out and snatched it. Then, eyes fastened on my mother, eased it deep into the pocket of my jeans. It was really easy, simple, and yet…

I remember pulling at the material of my jeans to try and make it as lumpy as possible so nobody could tell there was a piece of Double Bubble buried amidst the rumpled fabric.

Once it was safely stowed, I stood with my hands demurely folder over the lump, looking, to all the world, like a golden-haired angel patiently waiting for the clerk to finish ringing us up so we could leave. A picture perfect angel on the outside, at least. On the inside I quaked and tingled on the verge of hyperventilating! Had a four year-old ever died of an exploded heart? Could a throat squeeze shut by itself, never to allow air to pass through again? Perhaps I would be the first child in history to die of…

I digress!

A transaction, which in reality probably took less than a minute, felt like HOURS!! That two block walk from the store to our home was the longest journey of my life!

It is just one piece of gum!

Which doesn’t belong to you!

I’ll NEVER do it again, I swear!

Liar, liar, pants on FIRE!!!

I NEED it!!!!

You need a spanking!

I deserve it!

You deserve to go to jail! Perhaps even beheaded…

From that moment on, my subconscious and ego have been at war with each other! Yes, my ego is a selfish bitch, and, when required to rein the bitch in, my subconscious can be a fatalistic drama queen!

I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself, so the moment we crossed the street on our block, I left my mother in the dust and ran for home! Ran straight to my room, looked around to make sure nobody saw what I was doing, dug my pilfered booty out of my pocket, stuffed it in the back of my sock drawer, and carefully arranged the socks so they hid it without looking like they were hiding something! A difficult task, consuming an inordinate amount of time, when one knows they’ve done wrong, but have absolutely no intention of fessing up to it!

I couldn’t chew it right away, so of course, I had to hide it. Surely the entire world knew I had no penny to buy it, so I’d have to be patient and wait for the right time. God forbid I be caught chewing gum I had no right to chew! (I probably would have choked on it anyway.) I stayed inside the house, close to my room, close to my sock drawer, all day long. An interminable wait when one is young and rambunctious! When my besties came to ask if I could play, I feigned a stomach ache…which wasn’t far from the truth because my stomach WAS in knots. The fact that it was self-induced by guilt made it illicit, unspeakable, and thus, much worse. Plus, I had to keep an eye on that sock drawer, didn’t I?

Before going to bed that night I took my treasure out of my drawer and put it under my pillow least someone rifle through my sock drawer in the middle of the night. Granted, I had had no reason to believe anybody had ever dug through my drawers in the middle of the night before, but then again, I’d never stolen anything before either!

That night I had the first dream I can remember. My first nightmare…

The gum beneath my pillow turned into a rotten tooth, which the regular tooth fairy wouldn’t touch, so she sent the evil tooth fairy to come take it. (As we all know, the evil tooth fairy doesn’t leave quarters, but removes all the healthy teeth of sleeping children!)

The evil tooth fairy was the store clerk with a gigantic knife whose blade gleamed brightly in the moonlight. I ran before he could stab me. Ran, and ran, and ran! He chased me with his big knife, only he had no head, arms, or legs. Just a torso wielding a knife that was gaining on me, screaming for my teeth, screaming for his stolen gum…

The next day I broke my mother’s rule by crossing the street and going to the store by myself. I handed the gum back to the store clerk with a tearful confession, an apology, and an assurance I wouldn’t be mad at him if he told my mother. I had no intention of EVER telling her, of course, but I felt such a relief when I handed it back that it was worth facing my mother’s wrath if I must! It must’ve been the crocodile tears and gut-wrenching sobs that did the trick because, while I waited on the edge of my seat for the axe to fall (which would surely happen when he told my mother), it never did. At least, she never said a word about it, and to this day I’ve never said a word to her about it.

The effect of that event on my life has been profound! Ten years later, as a teenager, I shoplifted some clothes from K-Mart, with the same horrifying result of nightmares and unending guilt, which threatened to choke me to death until I made it right! I thought I needed the gum and the clothes to be truly happy and fulfilled. I was wrong!

My Grandma Kiddoo used to say that experience is the best teacher, and she was right! As a result of stealing, and suffering the mental anguish of having done so, I can proclaim unequivocally that I am NOT a thief! Since then, while things may have found their way into my bag at slumber parties and other gatherings – indeed, if pens counted I’d do hard time – I have never knowingly, intentionally, taken what does not rightfully belong to me!

It would take another forty-some-odd years, however, for the implications of how my dream spoke to, and effected, my conscious mind to sink in, but that singular event, and the nightmare it precipitated, planted the seed of knowledge within me that my mind can either be a powerful weapon used to destroy me, or partner and collaborator to nurture, build, and bolster me, and the choice is mine to make via the actions I take.

Yay, I'm finally blogging!!!

This is really the ideal first blog post to kick-off my blogging career...

Something kinda incredible happened to me last night that I'd love to share with you, beautiful peeps! Just before my surgery, my glorious, generous, and all around wonderful mate Scott gifted me with the online Writer's Workshop put on by Hay House.

I've been an excited participant, and am learning much about writing and publishing and building platforms and what it takes to get a publishing deal these days. It is a phenomenal workshop!!!

Last night they had a live Q&A session with Reid Tracy, the head of Hay House Publishing, which I participated in. My intention was just to listen, but when Spirit nudged me to call in to ask a question about building my platform, I picked up my phone and called.

I could hear Reid talking with someone, so I just listened. Much to my surprise, I heard a strange beep and a woman said,

"Hi, who am I speaking to?"

*Gulp!* Was this a REAL person talking to ME??? I never actually thought I'd get through!!!


"Where are you from, Cindy?"

I guess she WAS talking to me...

"Baton Rouge, Louisiana"

"What's your question for Reid."

"I'd like to discuss building an online platform, and what it takes for a publisher to consider you a good catch."

"Perfect. Please hold."

Wait, does that mean he's gonna take my call????

Another odd beep, and I was back to listening to Reid Tracy in conversation with another caller.

He went through a couple of more questions with other participants, and then he said, "Let's go to Cindy from Baton Rouge, Louisiana!"

Holy shit, that's MEEEEE!!!!!

Another odd beep and I was talking LIVE with Reid Tracy, publisher extraordinaire with Hay House Publishing!!!!!


We had a lovely conversation about building my platform. When he got to the consistency aspect, I shared with him, "Yes, I've learned that lesson with my podcast. Trust is key, and no matter what, we have to publish when we say we're going to publish!"

Mentioning our podcast was an afterthought, really!!! In the excitement, it almost slipped my mind.

He said something to the effect of, "So you've got a following on Facebook, a blog, AND a podcast??? That's really the perfect trifecta for building an effective platform!!! Why don't you share the name of your podcast so we can all go find you???"

I almost got tongue-tied, but managed to squeak out, "Go Deeper Podcast."

The significance of this? I had just broadcast our podcast to potentially thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Hay House employees, affiliates, and their followers!!! With my heart pounding in my throat. we wrapped up our conversation, and said our cheerful salutations.

Honestly, I have no idea what will come of that conversation, if anything, but it is one of those delightful coincidences and serendipities that let me know Spirit is guiding my life right now, beautiful peeps, and I am on the right path!!!


Sometimes they just don't make a smiley big enough to cover the occasion, do they?!?!?!?!