Last week, when I was helping my daughter move into her college apartment, I packed a small brown shopping bag with my cosmetics, a change of clothes, hair tools, and some jewelry. Since our hotel was not in a convenient location, I tried to plan ahead in case we decided to go out to dinner that evening.
Exhausted from the long day spent unpacking, my husband and I bailed on the dinner plan and headed back to our hotel. On the way to the car, we took out the last of the boxes, the garbage, and my belongings.
Unbeknownst to me, I must’ve thrown out my just-in-case brown paper bag in the dumpster with the rest of the trash.
The following day, when we arrived back home, my stuff was nowhere to be found. Makeup bag—gone. Hairbrush––gone. Flat iron––gone. Favorite shorts and tank top––gone. Favorite earrings and bracelets––gone.
I know this is not a major tragedy. Other than costing me a bundle of cash to replace everything, this was a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of life. But when you live in a remote mountain town, you don’t have the luxury of walking into a department store or a beauty supply store. Instead, you need to order most of these items online.
To add to my annoyance, the small town where I reside can only be accessed by two major roads. Since one of the roads had been closed from mudslide damage, goods ordered online were taking much longer to arrive.
Until I received my replacement items, I had to embrace wearing no makeup and maintaining my unkempt hair for what felt like days on end.
Again, I know how pathetic I sound. But ladies, if you’re anything like me, and you feel better going out in public with a coat of paint on your face—even just a little foundation and mascara and a stylish hairdo, then you can relate to my unfortunate state of affairs.
As someone who always tries to understand the big picture or the greater lesson as to why certain things happen, I, of course, had to dig deep and try to analyze the situation.
Was this about being careless? Maybe, but given the circumstances, it was a dumb mistake and I’m usually responsible when it comes to my belongings.
Maybe the lesson was about learning to get comfortable with being me––as I am—in my natural state.
Last night, I had to go out to my son’s high school football dinner: sans makeup, sans great hair. I wore a cute top and jeans and threw on a wide brim hat to cover my wild, messy locks and added a shiny coat of old lip gloss I found in a drawer.
And guess what? It was fine. I had fun and socialized with other parents and didn’t think about my appearance.
Tonight, I’m going to a friend’s house for cocktails. Most likely, I’ll be sporting the same look as the night before. Most of the women in attendance will probably have their hair and makeup done to perfection. Not me. I’ll be au naturel.
I don’t consider myself vain, and I’m not one of those women who wears layers of makeup and always looks my best when I leave the house. It was only in the past few years that I started using the bare minimum on a day-to-day basis: foundation, bronzer, mascara, eye liner, and a touch of eye shadow––and that’s it.
Living without my cosmetics and hair tools has forced me to let go of the pressure I, and many other women, experience––the need to look our best to feel better about ourselves. We’ve become slaves to society’s image of beauty, fashion, perfect hair, the right makeup, and a good figure.
My ridiculous dilemma has got me thinking.
Do you notice that there appears to be countless made-up celebratory days: National Pet Day, National Brother and Sister Day, National Daughter Day, National Donut Day, National Hot Dog Day, and the list goes on?
I would like to propose a new one: National Don’t Do Your Hair or Makeup Day. One day a year, women can love themselves just as they are—and show the world that their beauty, their light, their inner spark shines from the inside out.
Truth be told, when I read over this blog post, I’m reminded once more of how privileged I am, that at least I have the wherewithal to purchase these things, and that I can’t believe this is something I’ve been fretting over when so many people in our world are suffering through much more pressing and dire matters.
Maybe the real lesson of losing my belongings doesn’t have anything to do with trying to love my natural appearance, but instead, it has given me the opportunity to reflect on the more important values we need to emphasize in society. Do we regard the people in our lives with high esteem? Are we grateful for what we have? Do we have strong, healthy connections with others? Are we compassionate toward our neighbors and strangers alike? Do we respect our bodies?
This insignificant situation has helped me see the big picture and appreciate the immense blessings in my life. In the end, the hair and makeup doesn’t mean as much as who we are as human beings, how we treat others, how we feel about ourselves, and the lasting impression we leave on the people in our orbit.
Why are we drawn to negative news? It’s simple: negativity sells. It’s the perfect hook. Devastating and tragic stories put us on high alert and give us something interesting to talk about, to dwell on, to worry about.
But all that negativity is bad for our psyches, and it’s bad for our health. It lowers our vibration. It fills us with fear. And yet, we don’t stop ourselves from discussing the doom and gloom going on outside.
Imagine a world where we only focused on positive, uplifting stories? Would we be happier? Healthier? Less fearful?
I think so.
How do we change a society that has fostered a culture of negativity?
It starts at home. It starts in school. It starts in our community. And it starts when we go on a media diet, limiting how much negativity we read online and listen to spewing from the news.
And sometimes all it takes is one person to start the trend of commending others.
Recently, I had the pleasure of getting to know a special teenager named Christian, otherwise known as Crit, who, for the past few years, has been spreading feel-good messages about his peers.
I first heard about Crit from my daughter, Taylor. One afternoon, she came home from school and told me that her friend Crit had given her a shout-out on Snapchat, where he had recorded a short video of himself talking about how nice, smart, and pretty she is, and how grateful he is to know her. His sweet message made my heart sing.
When I asked Taylor about Crit, she said he does shout-outs all the time and to anyone who wants them. All you need to do is swipe up on Crit’s story and he’ll record himself delivering a meaningful, thoughtful, and personal clip about that person.
I was in shock—in a good way. In an age of so much negativity, oftentimes amongst teenagers, I was impressed that Crit was willing put himself out there––in a public forum—and shower his peers with compassion. When I asked Crit about the shout-outs and why he does them, he replied, “I do it because it makes me feel good when I make others feel good.”
Imagine how different our lives would be if most of our population was made up of people like Crit—people who understand the immense value of raising their own vibration simply by raising other people’s vibrations.
The news would be different. There would be inspiring stories about the kindness of strangers, how people overcame dire circumstances, about people having miraculous health recoveries, etc. Such positivity would be contagious, transmitting good energy to everyone.
I realize I might sound like an idealist––but so what? Like I said before, it only takes one person to affect change. So, maybe if everyone sends shout-outs to others on a regular basis, the seeds will be planted, and before we know it, a new light-filled garden will grow. And instead of being attracted to negative stories, we will bask in an ocean of love.
Every now and then, I discover something that I consider a natural, magical cure-all. When I find said product, I tend to get over the top, believing everything I read on the internet about its healing capabilities. I realize how dumb that sounds, putting my faith in the World Wide Web as a source of accurate information, but nonetheless, it doesn’t stop me from doing my research and going all in.
One of my first obsessions was raw honey, one of nature’s sweetest gifts. Google the benefits of raw honey, and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Honey is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and the list goes on.
Did you ever see the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding? The father, Gus, claimed that Windex was a miracle drug that could be used to heal just about every ailment. Well, I was the same way with honey. If one of my kids had a wound, I would spread honey on it. If they had a cough, I gave them a spoonful of honey. If I was feeling rundown, I would drink cups of hot water, honey, and lemon juice. I even slathered a mixture of honey and lemon all over my face, convinced that it would diminish my wrinkles and give my skin a beautiful glow.
Did all that honey keep me and my family healthy? I’m not sure. It certainly didn’t harm us, but we still got sick on occasion. Eventually, my honey craze dwindled, and I moved on to something else.
The next one was garlic. Google the benefits of garlic, and like honey, it also has amazing benefits: lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of cancer, relieving the common cold, etc. So I went on a garlic binge. I’d crush it up and eat it raw, daily. If you’re wondering whether I smelled, I did. It seeped through my pores. I stunk up the car, angering my family when we were all driving together. Friends would stand far apart from me. A cloud of garlic encompassed my body, spewing fumes around everyone who got too close. None of that bothered me. Smelling like garlic all the time was the price I was willing to pay for perfect health.
Did the garlic cure work? I’m not sure. It didn’t prevent a cold from coming on, but it’s possible that it lessened the symptoms before getting worse. Just like the honey infatuation, the garlic medicine simmered down too. Of course, my friends and family were thankful.
There have been many other wizard-like cures that I’ve used over the years to keep me healthy. Every few months, I would discover a new one and “go ham” on it, until I tired of it or lost faith in its healing potential.
The latest and hands down the most challenging one is the Wim Hof method.
A Dutch extreme athlete, named Wim Hof, a.k.a. “The Iceman” developed a system to promote optimal health using three pillars: breathing exercises, cultivating your mindset through focus and concentration, and exposure to cold elements. There are dozens of videos and information on the internet about Wim and his ideology and his unbelievable feats, such as swimming under an ice glacier for an extended period or running a half-marathon, barefoot and half-dressed in the Arctic Circle.
Scientists have studied Wim, and even went so far as to inject him with a virus. His immune system fought off the illness, and he showed absolutely no symptoms. In another study, scientists experimented on a group of twenty-four healthy individuals. Half the group that had been practicing the Wim Hof Method exhibited minimal to no symptoms, while those who didn’t learn Wim’s techniques developed flu-like symptoms. (Source)
The more I learned about Wim Hof, the more I knew I needed to try it. In my mind, I thought this could be it, the real magic that would allow me to maintain ideal health.
After reading Wim Hof’s free e-book and watching a few YouTube videos, I was ready to go for it. The breathing exercises were straightforward and easy to get the hang of. The next part was immersing myself in a frigid shower.
For someone who considers herself averse to the cold, this was difficult—to say the least. I abhor the feeling of being cold, and whenever I get a chill, hot showers are nirvana to me. But I gave myself no choice. I was going to do it, excited to reap all the incredible benefits.
The first day, I could only last twenty seconds. It was torture, and I was hyperventilating under the “reign of terror” coming down from my showerhead, numbing my body.
Day two, I increased my time under the icy water to about twenty-five seconds. When I got out of the shower, my body felt tingly and energized.
Each day, I managed to last a little longer in the cold shower, and instead of breathing like a madwoman, I took deep, relaxing breaths, similar to what Wim teaches. Rather than fight the experience, I embraced it––and this made all the difference.
I’ve been practicing the Wim Hof method for a few weeks now. I feel great when it’s over—awake and invincible. Recently, I crossed the two-minute marker, and I’m determined to keep going, hoping that one day soon I’ll be able to make it to five, maybe even ten minutes. And when I do, watch out Wim Hof––Ice Lady Lori will be making her mark on the world.
Of all the wacky things I’ve tried over the years to achieve optimal health, this one is definitely in a category of its own. The Wim Hof method requires that I learn how to master my mind, to face a fear (of being cold!), to practice commitment, and to challenge myself by doing something that makes me uncomfortable.
I could quit anytime. Nobody is making me get into those cold showers or do the breathing exercises. I only have myself to answer to—and if I can do this, I can do so much more, tackle experiences I never thought possible.
I’m not sure if the Wim Hof Method is the magic answer that I’m always seeking, but what I do know is that it’s forcing me to gain mental strength. At the end of the day, your mind and your thoughts are everything––dictating what you can and can’t do. Once I’ve learned to master this new skill, I’ll get the bonus of gaining control of how I think, and then, I’ll carry this powerful belief inside me that I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to.
I challenge you, my readers, to do the same—to face a fear or to learn how to overcome something you always thought you hated. When you make the decision to tackle your perceived limitations, I guarantee the reward will far outweigh the difficulty.
Maintaining a peaceful state of mind when your children are struggling is one of the greatest parenting tests of all––and it ain’t easy.
At the end of the day, we just want our children to be happy, safe, healthy, and comfortable in their skin. But that’s not how life works—the ebbs and flows are part of the journey. When our kids are suffering, mom and/or dad tend to absorb the issue at hand––as if it happened to them.
This is all part of parenting.
As much as my children are learning to navigate their challenges, I’m learning how to steer them in the right direction without taking myself off course.
I need to remember that I’m the commander of my emotions, and I have a choice to let my children’s disturbances pull me down with them or allow myself to stay afloat––despite their struggles. Lately, I’ve been trying to choose the latter.
Back in September, when my daughter, Taylor, was having a difficult time at the start of college, I received a lot of tearful phone calls. It was hard—for her––and for me. I was upset that she was upset. My husband was upset that I was upset. My sixteen-year-old son was upset that we were upset. At one point, Taylor was so miserable that I threw my back out from all the stress. The entire family absorbed her negative frequency, which only exacerbated the situation.
Thankfully, Taylor found a way to rise above her circumstances, and eventually, her social life took a turn for the better. As of lately, she’s been traveling on her own spiritual path, working to improve her mental state and the lens through which she views the world.
Taylor and I read many New Age books and listen to a lot of podcasts on the subject. We also spend a great deal of time discussing the importance of learning how to raise your vibration to attract and manifest positive experiences. I’m proud of the work she’s been doing on herself, and she even started an Instagram account called “Staying Spiritual” to help other people.
Despite how much Taylor is evolving, I still get those sad phone calls every now and then. But I’ve recently discovered a new, healthier approach to helping her: I listen, and then I tell her that I love her and I’m sorry she’s not doing well. If my words aren’t helping her feel better, I get off the phone and send her lots of love in my mind.
The minute we allow someone else’s words or actions to make us feel bad, we’ve given them that power—and we’ve lost control of our feel-good state.
Having feelings are what makes us human. If we didn’t show any emotion, we might as well be robots. When something disturbing happens in our lives, we need to experience the pain, acknowledge it, and then tell ourselves to release it. Sometimes, I’ll try repeating mantras, such as, “It’s all going to work out” or “Everything is going to be fine.” Sooner or later, the negativity will pass, and it typically happens when I’m no longer focused on it.
There’s another important step, and a challenging one indeed, to helping your children––and yourself––when they’re unhappy. It’s to send everyone who is distressed loving thoughts, especially to the person who is exhibiting cruel behavior. Even though you may have a secret fantasy of punching a bully in the face, loving them in your mind is a much more spiritually evolved response than spewing anger and hate their way.
“People who love themselves don’t hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer.” ––Dan Pearce
To be able to send love to someone who is deliberately hurting another person is what I consider a type of soul cleansing. It’s a way of clearing your energetic darkness and opening your channel to allow the light to shine through. Soften your heart and imagine wrapping love around every single person, from your offspring to the a-hole, who is suffering.
And that, my friend, is how to remain centered and peaceful when your least happy child isn’t doing well.
“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” ––Tom Bodett
How true is this? Life throws us curve balls all the time, but it’s how we grow and what we learn from them that ultimately shapes us.
Studying many of the principles of the New Age movement, I have learned the importance of our thoughts and how they hold power that can move us in a positive or negative direction. When I first started reading about this theory, also known as the Law of Attraction, I didn’t really understand what it meant. My initial interpretation was that like attracts like and good thoughts will create good results and bad thoughts will create bad results.
I was a bit rattled by this concept. If your mind is anything like mine, controlling my thinking is no easy feat, especially when insecure, critical, and fear-based inner dialogue rapid-fires in my head. As much as I want to tell them to shut the F up, my mind doesn’t always like to oblige.
Delving further into this idea, I learned that manifesting the life you want for yourself is more than just having a positive mindset. It’s about our energy, our vibration, our emotion. That’s the real ticket. It serves as the fuel behind the thoughts that enable us to create our reality.
The goal is to maintain a joy-filled, high vibration as much as possible, until something sh*tty comes flying in your direction. And when that happens, worry and self-loathing tend to jump onto the scene, initiating a hostile takeover of your happy thoughts.
New Age experts offer many different tools to help you snap out of a downward spiral, such as making a gratitude list––no matter how bad things seem, you can always find something to be grateful for; staying in the present moment; connecting with other people; spending time outside in nature; writing a script of how you want things to turn out; recognizing that you’re not your thoughts; watching comedy; exercising; practicing breathwork; meditating, etc. Many of these suggestions are helpful, but do they work? Yes and no.
Here’s an example of how I recently tried to turn a crappy day around:
It all began when I received a phone call from a friend who had tested positive for COVID-19. She and I had gone for a walk together a few days before she discovered that she had the virus, which meant that I had been directly exposed and needed to get tested.
On the way to the testing center, I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Gripping the steering wheel in frustration, I tried to calm myself down by taking deep breaths, but it wasn’t helping. The longer it took to get there, the more I wanted to rip my hair out of my head. The ten-minute drive turned into forty minutes. By the time I arrived, my insides were filled with irritable tremors.
To make matters worse, after the test, I couldn’t locate my new AirPods. I thought maybe I had dropped them when I was walking over to the testing center. I carefully retraced my steps and tore my car apart looking for them, but couldn’t find them anywhere.
Consequently, when I got home I was in a terrible mood, and since I had to wait until the end of the day to get my test results back, the fear that I might have COVID-19 was adding to my angst.
I had to find a way to raise my vibration before my negative thinking sucked me further down a dark tunnel. I forced myself to go for a walk outside. The fresh air and sunshine helped a little, but I couldn’t stop focusing on the fact that I didn’t have my AirPods, which I had recently purchased to replace another missing pair! Like my phone, I take my AirPods everywhere. I use them to listen to podcasts and music when I’m exercising or doing mundane chores, like cleaning the house, and I use them to make phone calls. Without them, I was lost.
I tried to put it in perspective. In the grand scheme of things, this was not a big deal at all. In fact, even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous and bratty I must sound. There are far more pressing and dire issues facing the world right now than losing a trivial material item. But that day, in that moment, it didn’t matter what I told myself, the gnawing in my stomach was not subsiding.
Following the walk, I called my daughter on the phone and told her what had happened. She sympathized with me, but then the conversation switched to problems she was having with her friends. By the time we ended the call, my vibration was a notch lower.
Next, I tried journaling and making a list of things I was grateful for. I knew I had a lot to be thankful for, so that was easy to write. Even though I wasn’t feeling worse after I did that, it was by no means a magic bullet.
I thought maybe I should try singing or dancing. Really? Who was I kidding? That was never going to happen. Laughter also would’ve been ideal, yet nothing seemed funny.
The antidote to my sour mood finally came when I was busy cooking dinner. I stopped trying and stopped focusing on my low vibration. Preparing a meal distracted me from worrying about my COVID-19 test results, and it distracted me from my lost AirPods.
When I was finally in a better head space, I checked my email, and to my delight, my COVID-19 test came back negative. As for my AirPods, I accepted the fact that I would have to buy a new pair.
So, how do you stay positive when nothing seems to be going your way? Well, I would first suggest trying the techniques listed above. They may work, and they may not. But remember, the problem is the harder you try, the more difficult it might be to flip the switch on your negative headspace.
The best remedy is to let it go. Over and over in your head, say to yourself something like this: “I release my fear and anxiety.” Repeat it one hundred times if you must. It most likely won’t disappear right then and there, but as soon as you put your attention elsewhere, the black clouds hanging over your head will eventually give way to sunshine again.
Although I wasn’t consciously telling myself to let it go, the cooking distraction served as a doorway, allowing the bad thoughts to escape on their own. It may seem like an easy fix on paper, but the best way to learn a new skill is to practice it. The more you become adept at raising your vibration in the face of adversity, the more you will excel in the school of life, and that right there is––the greatest lesson of all.