Monthly Archives: May 2011

We Are Powerful Beyond Measure

Hope you all are enjoying the holiday weekend and spending some time relaxing. Tomorrow is not only Memorial Day, but also my birthday. I am currently in Oxnard spending a couple days celebrating with friends and family. More to come on that and on my feelings toward turning 24 in the days to come. For now, I’ll leave you with a piece I’ve been reading a lot lately. I feel like I can relate to it in so many ways at this particular time in my life.

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, beautiful, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small doesn’t 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 are born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us.

It is not just in some of us. It is in everyone.

And so, 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.

 

-Marianne Williamson

(from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles)

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Class of 2011

It’s that time of year again—graduation time. This week I attended a couple of graduations, which motivated me to get writing. Yesterday I sat and watched one of my very best friends graduate from CSUN. This was a special graduation for me because I’ve also seen her graduate from kindergarten, 8th grade and high school, so I guess you could say it came full circle. I am so grateful that she’s let me be a part of all these huge moments in her life. As I sat there next to her family and her gorgeous five-year-old daughter, I watched her walk across the stage and I was so incredibly proud of her. To have finished college at 23, with so much on her plate, is such an accomplishment. In that moment, I felt so lucky to have such a remarkable person in my life.


My favorite part of every graduation is the Commencement Speech. I always anticipate who the speaker will be and what sort of wisdom they’ll be sharing. I actually got to give one of the speeches at my 8th grade graduation, but it is a dream of mine to one day give a speech at a high school or college ceremony. That probably sounds a little narcissistic, doesn’t it? The other day I was reading another blogger’s “About Me” section and it said, “I am a narcissist, therefore I blog.” I kind of love that. Sorry—totally sidetracking.

Anyway, I thought maybe I would write my own Commencement Speech for my blog post, but then I decided I still have a lot more life to live before I can write a speech like that. I still have so much more to learn before I can pass on to others what I think is important. So instead I decided to share some lines from a few of my favorite Commencement speeches and quotes. I like to read over these every so often because I obviously can’t go to a graduation ceremony whenever I want, but I think it’s good for all of us to be encouraged and inspired every once in a while.

“Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.”  –Mary Schmich

“Today is the day my life begins. Today I become a citizen of the world. Today I become a grown-up. Today I become accountable to someone other than myself and my parents. Accountable for more than my grades. Today I become accountable to the world, to the future, to all the possibilities life has to offer. Starting today my job is to show up wide-eyed and willing and ready. For what? I don’t know. For anything. For everything. To take on life. To take on love. To take on the responsibility and possibility. Today, my friends, our lives begin. And I, for one, can’t wait.”  –Grey’s Anatomy

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

“And after all of the partying is over, and I know there will be some partying up in here, the anxiety may start to creep in. What do you now do with all of this education? I’m here to tell you today, don’t worry. Don’t worry about it. Relax. Take a breath.

So here are a few things I want you to know that I know for sure. Don’t be afraid. All you have to know is who you are. Because there is no such thing as failure. There is no such thing as failure. What other people label or might try to call failure, I have learned is just God’s way of pointing you in a new direction. But God could dream a bigger dream than you can dream for yourself. And so I tried to live in the space of God’s dream.

So I say, even when things are difficult, be grateful. Honor your calling, don’t worry about how successful you will be. Don’t worry about it. Focus on how significant you can be in service and the success will take care of itself. And always take a stand for yourself. Your values, you are defined by what you stand for. Your integrity is not for sale.” –Oprah Winfrey

“One of the greatest feelings in life is the conviction that you have lived the life you wanted to live—with the rough and smooth, the good and the bad—but yours, shaped by your own choices, and not someone else’s.” –Michael Ignatieff

“When we were five, they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up.  Our answers were things like, astronaut, president, or in my case, a princess. When we were ten, they asked again, we answered, rock star, cowboy, or in my case, gold medalist. But now that we’ve grown up, they want a serious answer. Well, how ‘bout this – who the hell knows? This isn’t the time to make hard and fast decisions. This is the time to make mistakes. Take the wrong train and get stuck somewhere. Fall in love. A lot. Major in philosophy because there’s no way to make a career out of that. Change your mind and change it again because nothings permanent. So make as many mistakes as you can, that way someday when they ask what we want to be we won’t have to guess…we’ll know.” —The High School Graduation Speech from Eclipse

“I know starting your careers in troubled times is a challenge. But it is also a privilege. Because it is moments like these that force us to try harder, to dig deeper, to discover gifts we never knew we had – to find the greatness that lies within each of us. So don’t ever shy away from that endeavor. Don’t ever stop adding to your body of work. I can promise that you will be the better for that continued effort, as will this nation that we all love.” –President Obama (2009 ASU Commencement Speech)

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

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retreat

This past week I helped lead a retreat for the 8th grade class at the school my mom teaches at. I am all about retreats. My high school had one every year, which included Kairos during my senior year. Anyone who has been on Kairos knows what a life-changing experience it is. I also got involved with leading a couple of the sophomore retreats because I enjoyed it so much. I just think it’s so vital to take time every once in a while to step back, spend some time on yourself and get some perspective on your life.

I helped out on this 8th grade retreat last year as well, but this year there were a couple things that really stood out to me. The first being how nervous the kids were to be leaving their elementary school. They had all these fears about leaving their friends, about the challenges ahead in high school, anxiety about schoolwork, fitting in, etc. It’s funny because I remember feeling all of those emotions when I graduated from 8th grade, then again in high school and yet again in college.

I wanted so badly for the kids to understand that it all works out. That you’ll stay friends with the people you make an effort with, that you are completely prepared for the challenges ahead, that you’ll make new friends that will have so much to teach you, that you’ll find your niche, that you’re ready. Va bene. All will be well. The changes in life are good things—they allow for you to grow. I wish they could know that their lives are just beginning and that they have so many wonderful and exciting experiences ahead of them. I’ve been there though, and I know you’ll never get it just by having someone say it to you. Like most things in life, you have to live it.

The other thing that stuck out to me was the idea of friendship. At the beginning of the retreat we played the song “For Good” from my favorite musical, Wicked. Take a few minutes and listen to the lyrics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQJaZO2nfGg

The idea is that we all have people who come and go in our lives and there are some who leave a profound mark on us. They change our lives and they change who we are. It’s so important to listen to each other’s stories because we all have something to learn from one another. Everyone is going to have their opinions and ideas and you have to be open to them because that’s how you grow. That’s what helps you continue your story.

The last thing that really made me think was a “Priorities” exercise that we did together as a group. You had to number a bunch of different things from 1 – 12 in order of which was most important to you. The list included family, money/wealth, dating, friends, self-esteem and so on. It’s interesting because you think you know what your priorities are, but what you think they are or what they should be and what you actually do can be two very different things.

When you stop worrying about what others want to hear or when you stop stressing about what the “right” answer is, you can discover what’s in your heart. You can come to the realization of what really means the most to you. Sometimes this new understanding can be a really positive thing because you recognize how you do make the important things a priority without even being aware of it. With other things it can be a bit of a wake-up call because you can see that you’re falling short in areas where you know you should be giving more of your time. This can be a good thing too because now you can acknowledge where more of an effort needs to be made.

You should try it. Make a list of 10-12 things that you believe to be crucial to your life. Then number them in order of which is the most important to you/which you put most of your time toward. What matters most to you? Remember to be honest! Like me, I think you’ll be surprised by what you come up with.

“The road ahead is challenging, rigorous, exciting and exhausting, and will ask you for things you might not think you have, but it is going to places greater than you’ve ever imagined.”  –Kelsey Gallery McManus

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Nail Polish Junkie

I’m a little stressed out at the moment and definitely procrastinating, so I’m going to write about something light…

Every season I stock up on new nail polish colors, and with summer around the corner I decided to go splurge this week. Out of all my purchases my latest obsessions are Essie’s Borrowed & Blue and First Dance.

--wearing First Dance and holding Borrowed & Blue--

Apparently I’m in a very nautical mood.

Okay, back to prepping for tomorrow morning’s interview…

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Killing Us Softly

Recently I posted about self-esteem and that got me thinking about body image because you really can’t have one without the other. Obviously, disliking how you physically look is something that both males and females deal with, but I think in our society there is a lot more pressure on women in terms of how they should look. There is something that happens to little girls when they’re in about fifth grade. How old is that? Eleven, I think? Who knows, maybe it’s happening even younger now. But the bottom line is that they start to worry about their bodies. They start worrying about the tiniest, most insignificant things. They start to become insecure and it drastically effects who they are.

There are so many things to worry about. Pimples, weight, breast size, hair color, freckles, skin shade, nose size, braces—the list could go on forever. It is at this time when it is so important to make your daughter, sister, niece, cousin, granddaughter feel like they are the most beautiful person in the world. You have to build their confidence now more than ever because they are so impressionable.

The problem is, you’re going to be competing with our society and culture, so you better be ready to put up a good fight. All around them, young girls are seeing and hearing that they need to be thinner, prettier, tanner, better dressed, etc. There is this mold they must fit into if they are going to be liked, desired or popular. Being unique is a crime and the surest way to become an outcast. Between magazines, ads and TV commercials, young girls are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images of the ideal female body.

Jean Kilbourne is an author, speaker and filmmaker who has focused a great portion of her work on the image of women in advertising. The following is a clip from her documentary series, Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTlmho_RovY&NR=1

I think she really hits it on the head with the title of the series –Killing Us Softly. Sometimes the messages are very subtle and other times unbelievably brazen, but they are all saying the same thing—you need to be perfect and in order to do that you need to change.

I’m not saying that I’m not a sucker for it. I’ll tell you how much I love reading a fashion magazine, that I’m a beauty product junkie and that I have a slight addiction when it comes to clothes. The media is screaming to people in my age bracket, and I know I buy into it. I’ve learned to not let it consume me though. And I think that overall, liking your body and being content with how you look goes back to having a strong sense of self and good self-esteem. It’s hard for everyone during that junior high/high school time, but it doesn’t need to be so hard. Little girls shouldn’t have to be so worried about the way they look and they surely should not have to take that insecurity into adulthood. It’s so important to have the people in their lives constantly helping to build their confidence.

We can’t control the media. I mean, as a society we can change it, but that’s another can of worms. For now, let’s just say we don’t have individual control over it. What we do have control over is ourselves. We can be strong, healthy, happy people who set a good example to the young women in our lives.

I know I’m giving the media and advertising a lot of crap, but every once in a while something like the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty comes along and it gives you a little hope. Some of the videos are older, but I really love the message they’re sending:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hibyAJOSW8U&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei6JvK0W60I

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ytjTNX9cg0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUsKIApTewQ

I hate to be Debbie Downer but it does need to be noted that Unilever, the company that owns Dove, also owns Axe. So while it’s all well and good that the Dove ads are promoting healthy self-images for females, at the same time Axe body spray ads are sexist and demeaning to women.

While I was in college, an employee from Unilever came to speak to one of my marketing classes and was asked about the hypocrisy of the whole Dove/Axe issue. Her response was simply that if they weren’t doing it, another company would be. I just remember thinking how sad and true I thought that statement was.

Ah well, I’m not going to be able to stop all the problems with our culture, but I think I can take baby steps toward what I would like to see change. I would still like to enjoy the Dove ads and take them for what they are.

“It is confidence in our bodies, minds and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures, new directions to grow in, and lessons to learn — which is what life is all about.”—Oprah Winfrey

Yes, I just quoted Oprah…again.

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Quote of the Day:

“We all think we’re going to be great and we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren’t met, but sometimes our expectations sell us short. Sometimes the expected simply pales in comparison to the unexpected. You’ve got to wonder why we cling to our expectations because the expected is just what keeps us steady, standing still, the expected is just the beginning. The unexpected is what changes our lives.”  —Grey’s Anatomy

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a picture and a poem for the day…

One of the islands off of Venice, Italy

“Self Portrait”

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

—David Whyte

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