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.
“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.
Have you ever experienced an awkward greeting with someone you know? It typically happens when you’re not sure if you should go in for the one-cheek kiss, double-cheek kiss, the air kiss, the no-kiss-but-casual hug, or the casual kiss followed by a hug. Whatever you decide to do, my advice: don’t hesitate. Go right in for the kiss or the hug. Otherwise, you may experience the embarrassing side-to-side head bob, ensuring that you and the recipient make complete fools of yourselves.
I remember this happening years ago with me and one of my husband’s relatives. He and I were doing the head-shake dance, but rather than the kiss landing on his cheek, I inadvertently smacked one on his lips. My face lit on fire afterward, as did his. In hindsight, we probably should’ve laughed about it, but instead, we walked away from each other pretending our embarrassing greeting never occurred.
Thanks to the pandemic, greeting our friends and family members with a kiss and hug has been strictly forbidden. Yet that feels weird too, especially when you haven’t seen someone in a long time, and you want to touch them. So you find yourself standing there, feeling out of sorts as your body pulls you toward the person, desperate to reach out, while fighting the urge to remain at an appropriate distance.
What about the person who has been living under a rock for the past year, ignoring the COVID-19 safety measures? That would be the man or woman who wraps their arms around you in an embrace––without your consent––or reaches out and shakes your hand. Afterward, you stand there, frozen and eager to dive head-first into a pool of antibacterial soap.
I would have thought that since these casual, social greetings have been discouraged throughout the pandemic, I would be grateful that I was off the hook for a while and not have to experience the side-to-side head bobbing again. But I’ve come to realize that having been deprived from physical contact with other people (outside of my immediate family) has only made me yearn for it even more.
One day soon, when this pandemic is over, I’m going to take my affection toward others to a whole new level (appropriately, of course). I plan to hug everyone, sometimes with a cheek kiss, sometimes without. Heck, I might even consider standing on a street corner and hugging random strangers.
Human touch is so important. It’s how we show a person that we care about them. It’s a sign of empathy. It’s healthy. It’s good for our hearts. It’s love. When our children are babies and toddlers, we’re always holding them in our arms, in our hands, on our laps, and smothering them with affection.
I remember when I was a teenager, my mother would say to me every once in a while, “Can I have a hug?” I would always give in and let her wrap her arms around me, even though, as a stereotypical teenager, I was usually a bit irritated that I had to stop what I was doing to let her hug me. Now that I’m a parent of teenagers, I get it. Back then, I didn’t realize how important that was to my well-being. It was one of the ways in which my mom showed me how much she loved me.
Maintaining this type of affection with my daughter is easy. At nineteen years old, she still loves to snuggle with me in bed or on the couch to watch a movie. As for my sixteen-year-old son, I have to remind myself to periodically ask for those hugs—even when he thinks I’m being annoying.
Along with putting nutritious foods into our bodies, getting a daily dose of fresh air and vitamin D from the sun, exercising, and laughter, we also need to remember the importance of mental and physical connection. And for those of you who, like me, have experienced a few awkward greetings in your lifetime and are still a bit self-conscious about it, let it go––because as soon we’re all feeling safe from catching COVID-19, follow my lead and jump right in for that social hug or kiss—and just be grateful that you finally can.
Recently, someone in my community wrote a statement in the newspaper bashing those people who opposed his politics. When I first read what he had written, I was flabbergasted—to say the least. I couldn’t understand how a highly educated man who values family and religious tradition would make such harsh, negative comments about people who do not share his political views.
At first I went into attack mode—in my head and on the phone with my friends, lambasting this man—but once my anger subsided, I realized I was no different than him. After all, who was I to judge this man for having different views than me? Who was I to stoop to his level and spew venomous words out of my mouth about him?
Through my reaction, I had become his mirror image. Read more