Women As Art

I am really proud of myself. Just writing those words comes with a sense of guilt; some sort of taboo hovers over the simple act of acknowledging myself. I know, right? It is totally messed up.

Seriously, when was the last time you acknowledged
yourself for something you did or accomplished
that makes you proud?

Yesterday, I graduated from The Mastery Program of Womanly Arts in New York.  I am proud because I chose to pursue this education out of curiosity, out of a secret self-interest.  It did not make fiscal sense. It was not conveniently timed. I had a variety pack of excuses to dissuade me from following my inner desires. That mom-maid- business-owner-cook-protector-nurturer-bill-paying -citizen inside my head whispered, "Save your money, stay home.”

You all know the self-talk that takes place: “You need to take care of the family, you have business to handle, you have responsibilities...” It is the advice of some unknown mother bear, beast that innately speaks to us women.

And no matter how condemning she can be, I believe this voice; I have been trained to believe it.  It reminds me that I am supposed to be content with my reality. “You have a good life. Why do you want to travel across country? You want to do more, have more? You greedy bitch.”

Despite those self-defeating comments, I finally managed to justify my adventure. It would be a tool to help my clients and others; it would benefit my ability to serve.  With this in mind, I allowed myself permission to partake in self-improvement.  It required traveling alone, adjusting agendas, making my family feel frustrated, and sometimes, painfully unpacking my shit only to repack it again.

The whole course was terrifying, scary, and absolutely new for me. But I worked my ass off, a naked one at that. Sitting in the classroom vulnerable and afraid, I wanted to run and hide in the bathroom during various challenging parts of the seminars. Yet I survived, and all without coping supplements. For this, I am proud. 

I should’ve hung a sign on my door at home, “Diner Closed: Greedy Bitch Gone for Self-Improvement.” My mom duties took a nose dive while I studied. When others were sleeping, I awkwardly attempted my training.  I said “NO” to more invitations than I can recall. I wept and laughed daily. All the while the voice in my head said, “This is ridiculous. You don’t get it.”  I practiced and proceeded anyway. For this, I am proud. 

Among 350 other epically brave women, who were once strangers and are now my Sisters, I became unhidden.  I don't have to come to the table with anything less than every truth of who I am.  I said yes to my curiosity, my desires, my health, my dreams, and my sadness. I said yes to the beautiful greedy, rule breaking, bitch with an incredible appetite. I said yes to the sensual side of my personality, my wrinkles, my wide-belly, and my deep-thinking, multi-faceted mind. I graduated knowing that when a woman invests in herself the whole world gets blessed.  For this, I am proud.

We don't have to work like militaristic dogs on a mission to access love, relationships, health, beauty, and money. Our deepest desires want to be birthed, and be cared for like precious babies. Our true power is within the very bodies that we have been taught to loathe, a woman’s body is a sacred altar and our sexuality is connected to every aspect of our lives.Women can receive more, be more, and do more because our capacity is endless.  Our individual pasts and personal pain is part of our stories, and it is in this shared truth that Sisters can be like medicine to each other.  Every single one of us is spiritual, brilliant, beautifully broken, and perfect.  

I am proud to say this is the study of womanly arts.  

Peace, love, and Room Service.

Yours truly,
Greedy Bitch

Simplicity is Significant

I love this article found via Offbeat Bride outlining the beauty of simplicity when it comes to a wedding. Basically took the words right out of my mouth! Is a no-frills wedding right for you? What’s meaningful for you?

 

Photo by 10baretoes Photography
Original article by Inverted Jenny
September 8, 2014

My future husband and I went to the first of three weddings we will attend before we are wed. It was a delight to sit back and enjoy someone else’s big day, rather than fussing over our own.

Obviously I was paying attention to the choices that were made and how they compared to ours. But rather than breaking that down bit by bit, I’ll mention some of the lessons I took away from the whole thing…

1. You can have a no-frills wedding and people will absolutely still enjoy it

This wedding was held on a campground in the mountains. The couple was married in a small amphitheater and the 40-50 guests sat on logs surrounding them. There was no bridal party. The bride did not carry flowers. Dinner was Mexican food in the lodge, the cakes were pre-made by a beloved local bakery. They served good beer and wine and bottles of hard liquor appeared later on. Dancing took place on a basketball court (complete with nets) and a bonfire was held later with marshmallows and savory snacks for the drinkers. I think the sole decorations were blue and white plastic table covers in the lodge, a single string of colored Christmas lights around the basketball court, and a simple photo booth.

And guess what? No one missed any of the extras. Everyone was happy to catch up with old friends, dance crazily, laugh at drunken antics, bask in the glow of the bonfire, and crash in their tents at the end of the night. All that mattered was that the bride and groom brought their friends and family together in one place and made sure they were relaxed and comfortable. That was more than enough.

2. You can dispense with traditions at your wedding and people will still enjoy it

Once and for all, I’ve decided to never again listen to those who say, “It’a not a wedding if you don’t have [thing that the speaker wants you to have]!” A wedding is a wedding because two people get married and that is all there is to it. This bride and groom had no cake cutting, no first dance, no bouquet or garter tosses, and no toasts, and no one missed any of these things because they weren’t things that fit this bride and groom’s style.

It’s awesome to have these things if you want them, and it’s great to let them go if you don’t. I’ve been married before, and I learned from my first wedding that people know when you’re doing something just because you thought you had to. I’m finally feeling pretty secure about making similar decisions for our wedding.

3. Be gracious and don’t shy away from being of service

The bride and the groom made a small speech thanking everyone for coming, took it upon themselves to make sure their guests knew what was happening next throughout the night (there was no MC; they did all the announcements themselves), and helped clean up the lodge themselves in between dinner and dancing (guests pitched in, too).

I think we’ve been sold this idea that the bride and the groom shouldn’t have to lift a finger and should be completely catered to on their big day, and while that’s fine, it’s not always necessary. I really felt like I was personally welcomed and hosted by this bride and groom, and there was a real sweetness to that that I haven’t experienced at a lot of weddings.

But lest I sound too preachy, I’ll report this exchange between me and my partner while we helped clean up:

Him: See, this is nice. Don’t be surprised if I do a lot of this at our wedding.
Me: No way, dude, that’s why I hired a coordinator!

We chatted later about it and I pointed out that I wanted us to have time to focus on one another and on our guests, not on cleanup, and he said that seemed like a good idea. Still, this wedding got me thinking about how I can take it upon myself to make sure our guests feel welcomed by us.

4. Provide what entertainment you can, and your guests will take care of the rest

People who want to have a good time don’t really require much to do so. They will take what you are able to give and run with it. At this wedding, we didn’t particularly care for the DJ, but then I began to worry a bit: at least this couple was offering dancing, which is something we won’t be able to do at our wedding! (Venue doesn’t have space for it.) My fiancé then pointed out that when the songs were no good, people weren’t dancing, but they were still excitedly talking to one another on the dance floor. “They really just want to catch up with their friends,” he said, and I think he was right.

You don’t have to worry about the DJ being good enough, or the games being the right selections, or the exact number of chairs around the bonfire or whatever. Pick things that will likely work for your people and let them make their own fun after that. I watched a whole group of people enthusiastically sing Raffi songs around a bonfire at this wedding because they overheard the bride singing. You can’t plan for that kind of goodness!

5. The emotional stuff is the real takeaway

My favorite moment of this wedding was when the groom’s father teared up during his reading. I’ll take feels over frills any day.

 

Article Source: http://offbeatbride.com/2014/09/no-frills-wedding

Jennifer Allen: A Brave Bride's Bikini Body

This challenge has helped to change my life. Learning to be truly honest with myself about my body and the condition it’s in was extremely powerful. It is not easy to admit fault or weaknesses within ourselves, especially when it comes to the food we choice to fuel our bodies with or our level of fitness. It takes conscious effort, patience and time to be honest with yourself about what you put into your body and how it affects you, but it is worth every minute of the struggle. Nothing about it was easy and every step was in fact a challenge, but I couldn’t be happier with the change in my body, mind and perspective. Following the individualized diet plan and eating healthier foods has given me more clarity in my mind than I ever thought it would. Through this clarity I I learned that I enjoy being healthier and more fit, it makes me happier in life. There were times when I was pushing my physical limits with the workout plans and thought I would give up, but I didn’t and the results were worth every drop of sweat and there was a lot of sweat. It is an amazing feeling to know that I challenged myself to be better and I succeeded. I think the most important thing I learned was that, just like everything else in life, there will always be struggles and obstacles to being healthy and fit but its about being honest with yourself about what they are and accepting the challenge to overcome them.

~Jennifer Allen (Soon to be Jennifer Fontana)

My Life Has Changed Forever

March 8th, 2014 was the day I decided to make a change. Sitting in my La-Z-Boy eating a bag of chips, I was reflecting on my day and a nagging thought in the back of my mind kept creeping in. It was Jake Easy announcing the 94 day Fitness Challenge.

So I thought why not? What do I have to lose? Over the years I’ve gone to the gym, tried dedicating myself to running, even participated in a couple triathlons but I never stayed committed; just continued on the same path I’ve been on for the past 20 years,
never really committing to my health. Maybe this time I’ll stay committed, take control of my health and change my life. Well, I’m happy to say I’ve stayed committed and I’m loving the new me! Several months ago I made a promise to myself. I am proud to say
I have reached my goal of staying committed to improving my health, mind and soul. I think the most powerful thing I received as a result of participating in this challenge was keeping the commitment I made to myself. This world is full of challenges with work,
family, finances and just everyday life. One thing every person has control over is their health. If a person can stay committed, true to themselves and choose to be healthy, they can. In my profession, as a high school administrator, every day is a new day
with new and exciting challenges. Whether it is students, parents, activities, fire-drills, supervision, dances, athletics, band, etc., I never know what will come my way. What I do know is being in shape and setting a good example for all my students and mychildren was the commitment I set out to accomplish 2 1⁄2 short months ago. The daily conversations I have with students on campus range from, “How much weight have you lost?” to “How did you do it?” This has opened so many doors to the world of being fit.

My hope is my students take from what I’ve experienced and apply it to their own lives.

Teaching youth, making a difference, influencing young minds in a positive way is why educators do what we do. Whether it’s in the classroom, on the field (or court) or just having a conversation, if we can influence them in a positive way then we are doing our
job and doing it well! Making a commitment to my health and sticking with it, influencing and educating others, being a role model, father, husband and educator now take on a whole new meaning. Because of this 94 day challenge my life has completely changed
and it has changed for the better!!”

Kevin Greene

10 Ways To Plow Through Your List

Do you have an overwhelming list of things you need to do?

Me too! (I always have a list!  Ha!)

Here is my top 10 ways to plow through your wedding to do list:

1. Never say: “I can’t.” “Altar” your thinking. (Sorry. I can’t help being a goof ball sometimes.)

2. Focus on having fun. (If it’s not fun – don’t do it.)

3. Don’t center your attention on what you don’t know, concentrate on what you love.

4. Write your “goals list” on paper with dates of completion.

5. Ask for help.  (Remember, you are not alone. You are a team.)

6. Be open to new ideas and suggestions.

7. Truly enjoy each moment while on this journey.  (After all you are getting married; cherish this season.)

8. Celebrate you and your loves’ progress daily.

9. Hang around with fun people who want the best for you.

10. Stop talking about what you need to do, and START. Take action!

These are some ideas that help me daily.

Tell me, what is on your list?

Let me know what you may be stuck on or need help with.  I love feedback and suggestions. Thank you!

And please share this list with your friends and followers on Facebook and Pinterest…

Peace, love and plowing through my list…

Ally