I love that Mike Dooley. He sends me the sweetest, most uplifting note every morning. He calls them a “Note from the Universe” because The Universe Talks (TUT). Always thoughtful, inspiring and encouraging, it’s as if he knows exactly what I need to hear.
Earlier this week, Mike sent me an email that outlined his upcoming events. This is what he said:
“Ever look at a new photo of yourself and find lots of reasons not to like it? The light, your hair, your profile, you know, stuff. And then, a few years later, you see that same photo, and you’re like, ‘Dang, honey, I looked totally hot back then!’
Ann, honey, you’re totally hot right now. Please don’t wait a few years to give yourself permission to see who you are and love every second of it.
You’re supernatural, totally amazing, with a graceful swagger, healing touch, and a mesmeric, melodious voice. YOU were the Universe’s first choice ‘who to be next,’ all those years ago, and that choice is still alive and well.
Happy March, Hottie!”
Well, I’m not sure if he sent that note to anyone else. I haven’t heard anyone say anything about it, but he hit a nerve with me for sure.
Last week I was talking with a woman of a certain age (close to mine) who was bemoaning the fact that things had changed for her. When she was younger, she was a real hottie. She could walk into a room and everyone would turn around to look at her. But, with each decade, the people quit turning around and she felt like one of those women who just fade into the walls in a room.
I gotta tell you… that broke my heart. As far as I’m concerned, this woman is still a hottie as far as the way she looks, but to be honest, her attitude and vibes just suck. She’s angry that her looks aren’t commanding attention anymore and what she is really feeling is that she has nothing left to offer. No other gifts to share.
What a contrast when I went to a dinner party later in the week and was surrounded by a mix of young and more mature women – every single one of them beautiful beyond imagination not because of the way they appeared necessarily, but because of the radiance they shared with others. Full of life, energy, encouragement, vision and love. They could have all had paper bags on their heads and you still would have felt the energy pouring out of them. Trust me, if any of these women walked in a room, people would know it. They would “feel” them.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Looks often do fade for most of us, but I believe that’s when our real beauty – that inner beauty – has the chance to shine. Nothing wrong with slapping on your favorite lipstick or curling your eyelashes. That stuff can be fun. But, it’s not who you are.
How are you feeling about aging, fading looks and what you have to offer to the world now? Do you see who you are and love every second of it? Hope so.
Happy March, hottie!
How many times this week have you been in awe? The type of awe that takes your breath away and you know that for one second, a minute, or for a lifetime, you’ll remember that feeling in your heart. The feeling of awe is life changing.
Over the past several months, I’ve been keeping track of my “awe” moments. They have actually increased and I notice that all I have to do is reflect back to the event, and, I can be in awe again. Awesome, huh?
Imagine how surprised I was to open up the Wall Street Journal online on 02/23/15 and find this article: Researchers Study Awe and Find It Is Good for Relationships. And, not just relationships, but good for YOU in so many ways.
According to those researchers, “‘awe experiences’ increase our prosocial behaviors, making us more generous and more humble. They increase our ‘empathic accuracy,’ so we recognize another person’s emotional expression and respond with concern. And they make us more willing to engage with trust and connect with others.”
In addition, experiencing awe may help fight depression and lower inflammation in the body. Besides the high it gives us, it’s downright healthy.
Experiencing awe changes the way we view the world. Whether we are looking at spectacular scenery, seeing one’s child for the very first time, seeing the moon/Venus/Mars all lined up together as we did last week, or viewing a beautiful piece of art… in that moment we are changed and we expand.
Paul Piff, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, says “Awe minimizes our individual identity and attunes us to things bigger than ourselves.” THAT is a powerful feeling. We leave the autopilot treadmill of our mind, and we expand.
Feelings of awe that have stuck with me and still generate a “WOW” from my soul:
- In the summer of 2013, we were on vacation in Vermont and at that time, we had not made any solid decision about moving up here. I was riding my bike from Woodstock to Barnard and in this one particularly scenic stretch, I got the chills. I was thinking, “If we ever moved up here, I could call this place home and feel this feeling every time I ride my bike and see this countryside.” I can still feel that feeling when I think about that day.
- Seeing some baby goats – recently born – and thinking they are the happiest animals I have ever seen in my life. For those of you who know me from Facebook, you can attest to my love of little goats.
- Seeing the Grand Tetons for the very first time in all of their majesty. Holy ground as far as I am concerned.
- Visiting an art gallery in Woodstock that has these big, colorful paintings by Dutch artist, Ton Schulten. I can sit in a chair there and take in their grander with the colors just exploding off the canvas.
- Watching kids swing on a rope swing over the Ottauquechee River nearby… birch trees lining the river and a red covered bridge in the background. No matter when I see that going on, I’m in awe. It’s real life.
It’s so very easy to get hung up on what’s going wrong in our lives, the tragedies that are happening throughout the world, what we don’t like, and everything we should be afraid of. I don’t believe in being a Pollyanna, but there is nothing wrong with living on all the good vibes you can.
According to Dacher Keltner, director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, “People report having three awe experiences a week on average.”
How about you? Three or more awe experiences every week? What fills you with awe? And, if you aren’t having your fair share of them, where could you go and what could you do to get them stirred up?
Five provocative questions answered by an inspiring and fabulous woman – a woman with something to say.
Meet Sharrie Williams
Sharrie Williams, heir to the Maybelline legacy, is Tom Lyle Williams’ (the founder) great-niece and is steward of the vast Maybelline archives. Sharrie tells the story of the birth of the Maybelline empire and reveals intimate and never-before-told details about the fascinating family dynasty behind it in her book, The Maybelline Story.
People would be surprised to know that: I graduated from Vanguard University with a Bachelors degree in Psychology when I was fifty-four years old, just two weeks after my twenty-four year old daughter graduated Arizona State University with the same degree.
The WTL 5:
What’s the conversation that changed your life?
My writing teacher told me I had discovered my voice and had something to say. She told me to write a book.
What are you most conscious of today?
The importance of women discovering their true identity and sharing it as role models for the next generation.
What part of you have you yet to give voice to?
My life story. I finally believe my personal story will be more important than The Maybelline Story.
What’s the conversation women need to be having collectively?
Getting involved on any level to keep our values and culture protected.
What needs to be said bigger, louder, stronger?
For me, it’s “GOD BLESS AMERICA.”
Thank you, Sharrie, for sharing your powerful voice
with WomanTalk Live
I was trolling through Pinterest boards and ran across a whole grouping of “ quotes and saw one that said: One kind word can change someone’s entire day. That stopped me in my tracks as I was remembering when one kind word, acknowledgement, or act had made a big difference in my life – especially when I felt lower than a snake’s belly and felt I could go even lower.
You know how one train of thought can take you on a whole flashback journey? Well, that’s what happened as I remembered time after time when a kindness had rocked my world.
I went back even further to when I remembered witnessing a kind act that made a big impression on me at the time and has never left my memory.
I grew up in a tiny, little town in southside Virginia that had a busy Norfolk & Western railroad running through it. In fact, our little town prospered as a small rail town at that time.
Every day, my dad came home for lunch and there was either a hot meal on the stove or a grilled cheese sandwich or something like that. I was around four or five years old – not in school yet – and, my mother was a stay-at-home mom then doing some Red Cross work or even Census taking at one time (she went door to door and I went with her).
One day, she made a big pot of navy beans seasoned with a ham hock for lunch, along with homemade cornbread (not the sweet kind) made in a black, cast-iron skillet. Let me tell you, the house smelled good and I couldn’t wait for lunch.
Right around noon, my dad walked in the back door and he had brought a guest home with him for lunch. No calling ahead to let anyone know or checking to see if it was okay. He just figured it would be and knew there would be enough of whatever to share.
The guest: a real live hobo. Now, most of the hobos I had seen up until that time were dressed that way because of Halloween. But, this was a real hobo who rode the freight cars and/or walked up and down the road looking for odd work in the little towns in the area.
I can remember him to this day. He looked real old to me then – although, I would later see him walking along the roads when I was in high school. He was dirty with dark gray Albert Einstein hair that hadn’t been washed or combed in a long time. He wore this heavy tweed coat and had a rope around his waist to hold up his pants. He walked all stooped over and carried one of those honest-to-goodness hobo sticks and a pickaxe. Yeah. Sort of like something you might see in a horror film. And, he didn’t smell too good, either.
My dad introduced him to my mother and me… “This is Mr. Mackwo and he’s having lunch with us today.” I remember this strange look on my mom’s face and I know my eyes must have been big as saucers because I’d never seen anything like Mr. Mackwo up close and in person.
We all sat down together for lunch at the kitchen table and I don’t recall Mr. Mackwo saying one word. He was mostly eating… one bowl of beans, two bowls of beans and finally, a third. He slathered butter on that hot cornbread and devoured it. He liked beans and cornbread as much as I did, maybe even more. Who knows when the last time he had a hot meal was. And, this stuff was some kind of good.
My dad and I did most of the talking during the meal catching up with each other on the important matters of the day. My mom was silent – still in shock, I’m sure – and, Mr. Mackwo was chowing down.
When lunchtime was over, my dad gathered Mr. Mackwo up and they were on their way. Before they left, my dad kissed me and Mr. Mackwo patted me on the head and said, “Thank you.” For what?, I was thinking. I didn’t make the beans or the cornbread.
After they drove off, I can remember my mom sitting there in disbelief and muttering to herself while I asked her all sorts of questions about that pickaxe and what Mr. Mackwo did with that thing. She later went into a disinfecting frenzy to get things back to normal.
When my dad came home that evening, there was no big discussion about it – the man was hungry and out of work and my dad knew that a good meal and a little kindness would do that man a lot of good. I’m pretty sure it did, too.
I became fascinated with hobos then. I made up a hobo stick with a bandana and packed my treasures and sometimes my lunch in it before I headed to the tree house up the street. My mom drew the line at the pickaxe.
I later learned that the term “hobo” originated in the late 19th century and they were not considered tramps or bums. They were migratory workers looking for work, and during the Great Depression, they were often fathers who had lost their jobs. Sometimes women looking for work or teenagers whose parents could no longer afford to feed them became hobos. During the “Dirty Thirties”, over two million men and eight thousand women road the rails. Long after that, Mr. Mackwo was still riding the rails and walking the roads.
I often think about that day and how rich the memory is for me. I still love beans and southern cornbread and I never make them (yes, Bob has learned to love them, too) that I don’t think about that special lunch experience.
Years later, the real lesson was about an act of kindness being demonstrated when so many people would just have walked past this man without noticing him. Not my dad. He was like that. He noticed.
So trolling on Pinterest, I found a board that said:
You have never really lived until you’ve done something for someone who can never repay you.
So very true and I had that demonstrated by the best. May I do more of it going forward.
It’s cool to be kind.
You hurt someone’s feelings and live with regret but never went back to say you were sorry.
A loved one upset you leaving you sad or disappointed and yet you never told them how you felt.
You’ve carried a secret your entire life, it weighs you down but you choose to remain silent.
Or perhaps you are like me—spending a lifetime pushing down the memories of abuse.
Most people can relate to one or more of these circumstances. As time passes, you convince yourself it’s too late to address the issue. Avoidance, demonstrated by your silence, becomes the solution but is it a healthy one? Absolutely not!
The Consequences of Silence
Avoiding saying you’re sorry, or expressing hurt feelings negatively impacts your relationship with the person involved. Pushing the feelings aside takes emotional energy and is temporary—like plugging a whole in a dam. The feelings will eventually spill out at the wrong time or perhaps at the wrong person. It’s nearly impossible to have a meaningful relationship when there is unsettled business between you.
When I speak of keeping a secret I don’t mean those that result in happiness, like a surprise, or keeping a confidence that elicits trust. I’m talking about the kind of secret that you’re afraid to tell; you’re ashamed of something in your past or are aware of a friend’s illegal activities but don’t want to be the whistle blower. Whatever the secret is, keeping it in depletes you of emotional energy and hoovers over you like a dark cloud.
Repressing a traumatic experience, such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse, results in consequences that will compromise your life. Depression, anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, poor health and drug or alcohol dependency are some of the outcomes of abuse. True joy and happiness become unattainable.
Finding the Courage to Say It Out Loud
It’s not easy to confront that person in your life, divulge that dark secret or reveal and heal memories of abuse. But it’s worth it because YOU are worth it! Whenever you hold back, you’re taking a slice of joy out of your life. If it’s something small, like an apology, it may be a small slice. The bigger the issue the more diminished the joy. When you hold in negative emotions or memories you’re not free to live your best life, compromising relationships, a career and personal growth. Find the courage to say it out loud by focusing on this thought: You have one life to live and the power to make it a joy-filled life. Don’t let silence rob you of that life. Find hope in the stories of others who have broken their silence, choosing a life of joy over a life of darkness.
Saying It Out Loud: My Story
I spent over 40 years appearing successful and happy on the outside while battling self-doubt and loathing on the inside. I always knew there was something “wrong” but never knew what it was. With the help of my husband and a few circumstances that aligned, I found the courage to say it out loud.
On January 3, 2001, I took the biggest step of my life: I walked into the office of Dellene, the woman who would be my therapist for the next six years. When she asked, “So, what brought you here tonight?” I replied, “I think my father was sexually inappropriate with me as a child,” something I repressed my entire life. I shared with her the one clear memory that recently reared its ugly head. Although I was unaware of the layers of memories that were about to unfold, I felt safe enough to make a second appointment. The drive home from that first session is as vivid in my mind today as it was the day it occurred. All the way home, I laughed and I cried, saying over and over, “I did it. I told someone. I said it out loud!”
The relief I felt from saying it out loud was powerful, so powerful it led me on my way to revealing a dark past of childhood sexual abuse and healing the scars left behind.
The Benefits of Saying It Out Loud
When I contemplate the benefits of saying it out loud a fountain of words comes spilling forth: peace, joy, contentment, relief, happiness, fulfillment, feeling alive, freedom and no regrets. I experience life in a whole new way now. I’m in the present and never waiting for the next shoe to drop. I love life and most importantly I love myself.
You can experience these same benefits. Think about what you’re holding back. Break your silence and say it out loud. You are worth it!
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin
author of Say It Out Loud: Revealing and Healing the Scars of Sexual Abuse