WHAT MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL

I host a group on Facebook called Fall in love with your life. It is a group where we all share stories and strategies that help us…well…fall in love with life. It is filled with all positive stories and no negativity. It is a great place to escape to and to share your joy and accomplishments. I welcome you all to log on to Facebook and join the group.

Recently, I changed the cover photo to the one you see above. I not only enjoyed the message it has, but it is a good reminder of what truly matters. In today’s world it seems we are either focused on how to make ourselves younger, prettier and more beautiful or how to do the same for the world around us. Hopefully both. This statement is not only truth, but a way in which to make both ourselves and our world more beautiful.

I recall in high school noticing many of the ‘popular’ kids treating those around them as less than. Not all of the popular kids did this, but a fair amount. On a personal level, I found these people to not only be unattractive, but had no desire to be friends with them. If your ability to feel good about yourself requires you to belittle others, than you are truly an unfortunate soul. Another interesting fact about these folks was that their popularity did not seem to last or at the very least was limited to a select group of individuals. Sometimes it would fade altogether. It would appear that those they laughed with would eventually ask themselves the question, “If they are making fun of others, what do they say about me when I am not around?”

People who treat each other well, on the other hand, fair much better in the long run. They seem to rise not only in social standing, but in positions of professional standing. After all, who wouldn’t want to work with, or for, someone who is kind and respectful? Who wouldn’t want this person at their birthday or house-warming party? Would wouldn’t want to share a dinner or even a cup of coffee with a person who treats others kindly and with dignity and respect? As a friend, hearing them talk good about others when they are not present is rather reassuring when it comes to what they say about you when you are not there.

Do you want to become more beautiful? Do you want to be held in high regards in your social circle? Would you like more quality friends? Would you like to be more successful professionally? To accomplish all of these all you must do is treat others the best you can. Speak well of others even if they are not there. It will earn you a quality reputation and people will begin to do the same for you. As an added bonus you will develop some interesting side-effects. Not only will your outside world improve, but so will your inner world. You will feel more at peace. You will worry less. You will begin to feel more loving and more loved. Your self-confidence will improve. All of these benefits from one action – treating others kindly and with dignity and respect.

JUST LOOK IT IS EVERYWHERE!

In today’s world it would seem everywhere we look there is something ugly to behold. There is, of course, this terrible world-wide pandemic. There are politicians busy accusing each other of the worst crimes instead of actually trying to solve some. There are even some murder hornets flying around somewhere. With everyone wearing masks, it is hard to even catch a smile when you could really need one.

While all of this is true, there is something else we really should be focusing our energy to look for – beauty. It may seem hard to focus on beauty when there are a million chicken littles screaming at you from the television, online and a million other sources. It serves us well to remember an axiom we often repeat on this website. What is wrong is always available, but so is what is right. It may be more of a challenge, but there is a lot of beauty to be found. The picture above was the sky I saw on the way to write this very blog. I found it striking and wanted to share it with all of you.

The beautiful smile of a loved one. This is my lovely Margie. Her smile melts my heart and is one of the most beautiful things I am blessed to see in the world. Being stuck in quarantine will allow you to learn a lot more about those you share your home with. Put that knowledge to good use by using it to place more smiles on their faces! Be it a roommate, a brother, a sister or the love of your life. When they do smile at you, make sure to appreciate the beauty of it.

Speaking of friends, friendship is a great thing of beauty itself. Above is a picture of my good friend Russ and myself in the mountains of Sedona, Arizona. We had a great hike and a great time overall. I am not sure when the next time we will be able to get together again. Rather than focus on that, I am going to focus on all the good memories of that trip and be grateful I can still pick up the telephone or send him a text.

What about all of those challenges? Even in those there are beauty. As you can see I have had a hard time finding an open coffee shop in which to write. As I was speaking to my friend Pat today, we both commented on how the people that work in some of the most difficult situations are still quite friendly. I believe I have mentioned it in a previous post, but the workers at Starbucks have to wear masks for their entire shift. They are behind the counter with steam and heat. They are running around and serving people, a lot of whom are very stressed themselves, yet most of the ones I have dealt with have been very pleasant.

My point is this – that in a world that seems to be ugly and dark, there is plenty of love and light you just have to look for it. I would love to hear about some of the beautiful things you see in the comments below.

THE AMAZING SECRET OF BECOMING BEAUTIFUL

As the thought of quarantine ending is in the back of our minds, a lot of people are becoming nervous. Blondes have become brunettes, brunettes have become grey. Some people are even trying their best to impersonate a hair stylist. Not recommended. Myself, I am getting to the point of needing a nice little trim as well. Then there are all the snacks we have ate while staying home for movie night…or game night…or let’s look in the refrigerator to see if anything has changed night. Suddenly, our love handles have become far more romantic than is good for us. We haven’t been to the gym in weeks. The gym hasn’t been open for weeks so this time it is not our fault. Combine those two realities and we certainly have our work cut out for us. Not to mention it is going to be summer time and we will be laying by the pool in our bathing suits. That might all sound a little intimidating.

For the ladies there is the issue of beauty products. Have you been able to get the ones you normally do? The malls have been closed. Nail shops are closed. This forces several options. You can try new products from say the grocery store or pharmacy. Maybe you can do your own nails like you were in Junior High. You could just skip the whole mess all together and just pray nobody sees you out the first day the world opens up again. The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar a year business. There is high-end shampoo, skin-care products, lotions, potions, lipstick, chap stick, nail polish and a host of other items all thoughtfully designed to enhance the beauty we have or help us disguise the things we wish we didn’t have.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a secret weapon, if you will, it the battle to look our best? I have some great news for you. There is. Not only is there a secret weapon guaranteed to make you look more beautiful, but it will work for anyone regardless of your situation! Are you a blonde whose roots are beginning to show? This will work for you! Are you a size 12 who now finds that number who now finds that number a lot closer to 20? This will work for you! Are your nails professionally done to look perfect, but now you are resorting to the method above? This will work for you! This beauty secret will work for anyone, man, woman or child! It is also available right at home! Are you interested yet?

Before I share this amazing beauty secret with you, I must tell you a few more amazing things about it. Although it takes some effort (the amount of effort will vary from person to person) it will not cost you a dime! That’s right it is free and you already have it in your house! The more you use this secret the more beautiful you become! You can use this time when you are stuck at home to practice and put this secret to work. By the time you are ready to grace the public with your presence, you will have become irresistible! One word of caution before we lay this secret on you – Do not dismiss it based on its simplicity or any preconcieved notion you may have. If you reflect on some of the people you know personally, you will be able to see how this secret works. Another word of warning – This secret works in reverse just as well! That’s right ladies and gentleman. If you do not master this secret and use it in reverse (which a lot of our neighbors may be doing during this trying time) you become very unattractive. In fact, even after hitting the nail salon, the hair stylist and treating yourself to a day at the spa, you may still be given a sideways glance.

That is right, the secret we have been talking so much about it happiness. You might tend to think something such as, “Oh yeah, I’ll just be happy and nobody will notice any physical difference.” Scientists say that as much as 90% of our communication is nonverbal. Think of people you know who always have a sparkle in their eyes and a smile on their lips. Don’t you feel drawn to them on a certain level? If someone makes your soul come alive, does it matter if they may not be the “type” you usually go for? Happy people are more fun to have around. They make us feel good and therefore we are more attracted to them.

If this may seem hard for you to completely wrap your head around, try thinking of it in reverse. If you see someone you find beyond beautiful, but when they open their mouth everything that comes out is rude and hurtful, do you not suddenly find them a LOT less attractive? Would you be attractive to someone who is always gossiping about and putting others down? Of course not. Being stuck in our homes and not enjoying good social interaction can dampen our spirits. How do we deal with this? How do we increase our genuine sense of joy when we are in a situation that seems to drain us of it? We will be looking at a few ideas in the upcoming posts. For today just remember if you want to come out of all of this a more beautiful person, while working on your abs, work on your smile and your laugh. It will pay off a lot more in the long run.

THE LIES OF THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

 

Recently I watched an interview with Nikki Sixx, the bass player of the band Sixx A.M. In this interview he was explaining the idea behind the song The Lies of the Beautiful People. It turns out Mr. Sixx happened to glance People Magazines issue of the 100 most beautiful people.

“Who are they to decide who is beautiful?” Sixx angrily asked himself. Being that he was actively doing a photoshoot to showcase the beauty of people who are physically challenged, he found this a rather poignant question. Taking his question, and the frustration it caused to his fellow bandmates he told them, “Guys we have a problem.” Then they do what all great bands do with their frustration – they wrote about it.

As Nikki Sixx himself says, “It’s not that George Clooney isn’t a good looking guy, but who are they to dictate what is beautiful to us?”

That got me thinking of my own definition of beauty and people I think are beautiful. As I began to list of items in my head that make people beautiful, I soon realized true, heartfelt beauty has very little to do with physical appearance.

I feel people who find the joy in life and the simple things are some of the most beautiful people. I find laughter beautiful. I fight those who are compassionate to others quite beautiful. I think a desire to read and more to the point learn is beautiful. Bettering yourself is a trait that makes you feel very beautiful.

Of course, I find the love of my life, Margie, amazingly beautiful. Not only does she embody several of these traits, but she is a good mother to her children and grandmother to her grandchildren. She is driven and still does her best to love me. Are we always perfect? Of course not, but it is the love in the trying times that is the most beautiful. It doesn’t hurt that I find her physically stunning, but that is really the icing on the cake.

What are the traits that make someone beautiful to you? Who in your life do you find beautiful not with your eyes, but with your heart? Mention them here.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE SIXX AM VIDEO FOR THE LIES OF THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

THE PATH TO ETERNAL BEAUTY

Look in any magazine or watch any reality show and you will run across the same thing, everyone is trying to find the key to eternal youth and beauty. There are ads for creams, lotions, even cosmetic surgery has been refined to an in and out process. There is a new cool laser that can make your fat cells disappear. People spend millions of dollars a year on both hair removal and hair restoration. No matter how many advances or your financial ability to obtain them, one thing is for certain, eventually they will fade.

Do not misunderstand me. I believe there is plenty of physical improvements that make sense to do from not only an appearance stand point, but from a health stand point as well. Having dental work done will not only increase your chances of smiling, adding beauty right there, but help your health in many ways. Engaging in physical exercise will not only have your figure looking fit and trim, but help your heart and circulatory system run efficiently as well. Choosing a healthier way of eating over a crash fad diet will pay dividends for years to come.

Considering the amount of money we spend on items in the first category that serve only as a temporary cover up at best, we certainly could do better. Even the time, energy and effort we spend on items in the second category will only take us so far if we continue to ignore the single most important category to increase our physical appeal. The area of our life we should address first is often relegated to an after thought.

What is the area of our life that will bring us the greatest return on investment in regards to our beauty? It is our spirit, our heart, our inner peace. This may sound a bit cliché to many of you, but it is true. How many times have you come across someone who may not be your normal physical ‘cup of tea’ as it were, but something just attracted you to them? We all like to be around people who make us laugh, smile and enjoy life more. On the flip side, even if the person we are with has graced the cover of a million magazines, if they suck our spirit dry and leave us feeling emotionally drained there is no way we would want to be around them.

How do we invest in this portion of our lives? The answer is simple. Invest in ourselves. When we work to become better as individuals, we have more to offer each other and the world at large. Do something to refresh your spirit. Discover new ways to cultivate joy, engage in activities that make you smile. Foster an attitude of gratitude. Always look for the best in others. If you do these simple things and any others that will lead to an improved you, before long you will become more beautiful from the inside out. The upside here is the more you do this, the greater the beauty becomes. Keep it up and this beauty will never fade. No pills, lotions, fad diets or insane workouts needed.

ONE CHANGE THAT COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING

It is always entertaining to discover the ways that some of the most life-changing knowledge comes to our attention. What is even more amusing is that often these moments stem from what can initially be defined as a negative experience. Another example of modern day alchemy. We all have the power to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Before I lose everyone completely, allow me to share with you the exact experience I had and the realization that came out of it.

The other afternoon I was riding my bike in the park. It was a rather hot day and I was taking my time enjoying nature in all its glory. Ahead of me was a young man around the age of 6 I would guess. As we rounded the curve in the trail there were a few birds sitting on the grass. As the young man approached them he yelled “Get out of here stupid birds! You are ugly! Goodbye stupid ugly birds!” It appeared the young man had really no malice in his words or towards the birds, but hearing that made my heart sink. My first reaction was to feel bad for the birds. I know this may sound silly as birds to not speak the same language as humans, but sending out that negative energy towards another living thing cannot be constructive. A little while later down the path, when asked his opinion of a certain tree, the child replied using the same descriptions of ‘stupid’ and ‘ugly’. Again, it is my opinion this was more a product of environment and not any malice as the young man seemed rather happy at the time.

As I found my own spirit a little brought down by the young man’s words it got me thinking. In the past I would have felt a little foolish, or even weak for allowing another person’s words and actions affect me. Now I realize it is just part of my gift as an empath and spiritual person. The event stuck in the back of my mind as I went about my day.

3 a.m. found me awake and reading on the couch when the experience popped back into the front of my mind. I began thinking how someone should tell the young man about the law of energy. It may sound silly to do so to someone at such a young age, but if we wait often habits and language patterns can become set and harder to change. What is the big deal about what words we use? Imagine several random people coming up to you and informing you that you are ugly or stupid. Can you imagine how you would feel after that? Even if you give their opinion much weight, it still would not be a good feeling. Now, imagine several random people coming up with wonder in their eyes and informing you how beautiful or inspiring you are. Can you think about how that would feel?

Words do not only affect others. When we, like the young man in the story, go around calling everything stupid or ugly. When we look for things to criticize about people, places and things. Our world becomes filled with things that we see as ugly, stupid or some other negative description. Can you imagine how it would feel to be surrounded by ugliness and stupidity every day, all day? By speaking in such a manner and seeking out the faults in everything we chose to do that to ourselves.

With my feelings working their way downward as I was thinking about all of the people who do this to themselves as well as how often I still find myself doing the same thing, a great realization came to me. If we can make our lives a living hell by the words we chose to use, could we use that same power to transform our lives to one of beauty and joy? Of course we can. There is always two sides to every story.

Immediately my mind began to work on how this could be put into use. The answer was simple. To create joy and positivity all we have to do is the opposite of what brought us the pain and negativity. In this case, what if that young man was taught to find the beauty and magnificence in everything he saw? What if we all learned how to see everything as a miracle. It was Albert Einstein who said, “There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as thought everything is a miracle.” If one of the smartest minds on the planet lived by this concept, I felt it might be wise for me to as well.

Today I am going to begin to look at the beauty in everything I see. In addition, I am going to use words like ‘wonderful’ and ‘beautiful’. If we find the beauty in everything we see, no matter how hard it may be, our lives will be filled with a great amount of beauty and joy. Can you imagine how different it would feel if we were surrounded daily by everything we thought was beautiful? Our lives, in turn, would become beautiful.

One great key to finding the beauty in even the toughest situations was supplied to me by a quote from Mr. Rogers. This quote was sent to me by a neighbor who knew I was a fan of the children’s television show host. The quote was “Frankly there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.” Perhaps if the young man in our story know that birds he was calling stupid could navigate 2000 miles without the use of a map he may not think they were so stupid after all. The greatest irony of all. After all the knowledge that came out of the afternoon in the park, the young  man’s words became a thing of beauty for all they taught me and all I could share with you.

WHAT NOW?

When I decided to be a motivational speaker I thought it would be an easy and natural progression. Taking the material in both my book and website and sharing it with people would be simple and enjoyable. What challenges could come from sharing how to live a more positive and rewarding life with others.

I have discovered being able to appreciate the beauty in others and express that beauty in the written words has bestowed upon me one of the most challenging, yet personally rewarding honors I have faced. In the past 12 months I have spoken at 5 funerals. Being asked to speak about the life of someone who everyone in attendance cared so deeply for is both a tremendous honor, and great responsibility. One that I do not take lightly. It has also taught me to learn and think a great deal about how I approach the subject of death. In doing so, I have discovered what will not only help ease the burden of grief we feel when we lose someone we love but will help them live on every day in our lives. I would like to share what I learned with all of you in hopes it may help you or someone you know who may be experiencing the grief of losing someone you love.

On May 8th our family experienced a great loss in the mother of my lovely lady, Margie. Shortly after her mom’s passing, Margie asked if I would like to speak at the funeral. I must confess to having cringed a little. Being that my love and respect for both of those ladies was quite high, it was an honor, but it would be an emotional challenge to deliver. Certainly, when asked to perform such an important honor, it is hard to say no. As I began to think about what I would say, a new challenge presented itself. I was about to compose words about the woman the lady in my life was lucky enough to call her mom. Nothing but the best would do. The words came to me at 3 o’clock one morning. I grabbed my laptop to capture them.

In all my writing I try to give the reader something they can use to reduce the stress, or in this case grief in their life and add some joy or positivity. Fortunately for me, Margie’s mother, Ruthanne, led life that provided most of what I needed to say.

Most eulogies include memories of the person they honor. I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to answer the question that all of us, in some form or fashion, have in our hearts and minds when we lose someone we love – now what? What do we do now that we have lost a great parent, grandparent, spouse or even dear friend? How do we keep them alive both in our hearts and the world around us? How can we help their legacy live on?

I am going to share what works for me in hopes that it may help you. I have found although honoring someone with a memorial or candle-light vigil is thoughtful, the event is over in a day. For me, the best way to keep someone alive in our hearts and in our daily life is to replace some of the light the world has lost with their passing. I would like to explain this further by using the life of Ruthanne as an example. I must add Ruthanne gave more light in her 79 years than most people could do if given 179 years. Her life could best be summed up by recalling her last few days with us here on earth.

When Ruthanne was told her time on earth was ending, she voiced two desires. It wasn’t a fancy car or an exotic vacation. She wanted to go to the casino and karaoke one more time. She wanted to die as she lived, feeling the joy in her life, surrounded by the people she loved. Ruthanne understood that joy and peace are more important than status or wealth.

When it became clear she was not going to leave the hospital we asked her if she would like us to bring her anything. Her answer spoke volumes. She said quite firmly, “I don’t need things. I need people.” Ruthanne understood the material gifts we are given we cannot take with us, but the lives we touch and the memories we create is what will live on long after we are gone. She knew the most valuable gift we can give someone is our time and our love. That is what she wanted from us.

It was not receiving that gift that most concerned Ruthanne. Every person who visited her in the hospital asked her the same question, “How are you doing?” You might think she would lament the conditions that plagued her or the time she had left. Not once did I hear this. Instead, she asked people how they were doing. She did not do this just for conversation, but with the genuine sincerity of someone who truly cares. She asked to see pictures of babies and how their jobs were going. Ruthanne understood how important it is to let someone know they are loved and significant.

If you attended Ruthanne’s funeral or visited her in the hospital you would notice the people she surrounded herself with came from every race, culture and creed. Ruthanne may joke with you about your look some days, but she would never let how someone looked stop her from loving them. Although a Christian, she would not let believing in a different faith stop her from loving you. Ruthanne gave us the gift of acceptance.

Sometimes, those she loved let her down. They may have been in trouble with the law, developed habits or addictions they shouldn’t have, or even hurt her or the ones she loved. I think at some point all of us that knew her failed to live up to our own standard. What did she do when this happened? She loved us anyway. Ruthanne gave us the gift of forgiveness.

With all the gifts mentioned above that she gave us, it is easy to see why at the 79th birthday party Margie threw her over 100 people showed up. If I were to guess almost three times that many either visited or sent well-wishes when she was in the hospital. With that much love and popularity you could not blame Ruthanne if she would boast with the rest of them. When she was told people had to leave her room because more were waiting to visit her she would tell us, “I don’t know why people love me so much. I am just me.” Ruthanne gave us the gift of humility.

Ruthanne gave me those gifts and I must add giving birth to the most beautiful woman I share my life with. Sadly, she will no longer be here to teach me these gifts in person. It falls upon me and those she knew, in her honor and memory, to share these gifts with those lives we touch. Every time I am accepting, forgiving, every time I make someone laugh or remind them how important and loved they are, I will think of and thank Ruthanne for being a living example of these virtues and many more.

When we lose someone we truly love, let us all work together to replace the light the world has lost with their passing. It will not only help ease our grief, it will keep them with us every day we share the gifts that they gave us.

YOUR MOST USEFUL ASSET

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What is your most useful asset? Are you smart? Are you physically attractive? Maybe you are strong? Perhaps you have a lot of wealth? Maybe you are a good conversationalist? The ironic thing about any of these traits, is that they are of little use unless they are put into the service of others. If you are strong, but do nothing with your muscles how useful are they? If you acquire a great deal of wealth, but never spend anything what good does that wealth amount to?

Each one of us has assets. Maybe it is a nice smile? Maybe a good deal of compassion? As the week draws to a close, let us spend the weekend taking stock of our unique skills and talents. After we do so, let us also find ways in which we can put them into the service of others. The picture above gives us three very good ideas. Let us make sure we approach others with our hearts full of love, our ears ready to listen to all they have to share and our hands ready to help them as they need.

In our modern world many people will do anything for a feeling of significance. What many of them fail to realize is that you do not need to make a video for YouTube of you doing something ridiculous or dangerous. You do not have to prove how important or better you are than anyone else. To be a truly useful, valuable and yes, important person, all you have to do is be of service to others. Who would not want to be around someone who is loving, listens to what we have to say and is always willing to help.

If you still want to make that crazy video for the internet, why not show off your talent in the service of others? Use that amazing smile to brighten the lives of others. Use that wealth to help those less fortunate. Maybe use your muscles to help your neighbor with a project they are working on. The more you help others, the more useful you become.

SPEAK THROUGH THE 3 GATES

This is a great litmus test to put our words through. How many times a day do we let something escape our lips that we shouldn’t? Having these 3 questions in mind would help prevent that from happening. Remember you cannot unsay something.

How do we keep these questions front and center? Use this picture as your screensaver, pertain jot them down on an index card you carry with you. Then, put it into practice. Try doing this just for a conversation here and there. Eventually, it well become a way of not only speaking, but thinking as well.

So you don’t feel too down on yourself when you first try this, allow me to share my experience. I tried this at work and all I can say is “wow!” I never realized how many useless negative things I say there! Even someone who writes positivity for a living! Although a bit taken aback, I was excited. There is so much room for me to improve my conversation skills.

Try this yourself. I’m about to meet a friend for coffee and am going to try again. I think you will notice different people bring out different conversations. I would love to hear your experience as well!

MY FAVORITE GIFT

Every year I have 2 interesting challenges, my mother’s birthday is February 13th, the day before Valentine’s day. The love of my life, my beautiful Margie, seen in the picture celebrates her birthday on today, December 15th. Which, if you are keeping score at home is a mere 10 days before Christmas.

I used to quip that December and February were my poorest months. That may seem true for obvious reasons. In reflection they are actually 2 of my richest months. How can that be? Allow me to explain.

It took the love of this beautiful woman to remind me that the greatest gifts are people and not things. While I would love to give this woman the world, but budget is somewhere closer to a plastic globe.

By celebrating her birthday today (as with my mother 2 months later) I realize I am celebrating the greatest gift I ever received, this beautiful woman sharing her life with me.

As Christmas comes around it is a good reminder how no material item, no matter how expensive or even how thoughtful would be more valuable than the life and love I have with my Margie.

I would love to say happy birthday to you my love. No matter what gift I can come up with, I will still feel like the one who is getting the best present. Today we are celebrating the birth of the woman who brings so much joy into my life. I love you baby.