Beauty Basics

Hey there lovely,

Would you agree with me that we are, indeed – ALL IN THIS TOGETHER?!

THIS, being life; THIS, being a journey of faith and a walking out of LOVE – a love for others as well as a nurturing love for our little old selves.

Male and female – we are creatures of habit – and some habits keep us safe and protected while others are for strength and conditioning.

My virtual hug for you today is wrapped up in a short little video I made for a health forum called, Body by Design. I am so blessed to be a part of a community that is dedicated to promoting health and encouraging the practice of maintaining it – not just physically – but also emotionally, spiritually, and relationally.

Here is my piece on creating daily habits that support a healthy mindset – xoxoxo

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Becoming a Wonder Woman

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star – how I wonder what you are

Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky –

Twinkle, twinkle, little star – how I wonder what you are”

I remember taking my oldest daughter outside before bedtime and we would sing this song together while gazing up into the clear Colorado night sky. I would tell her they were sparkling just for her.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, one of those diamonds would streak across the sky trailing behind it a glittery path that would disappear before I could squeak – shooting star!!

What happens next is that everyone in earshot begins scouring the galaxy in search of another sighting. And its in that very moment that the twinkling of the stars is no longer enough, there is more wonder to witness – and more wonder is what we desire.

The same goes for the wonder within us. It is one thing to acknowledge our inspiration but it is an entirely new thing to move that inspiration into action. That is called wonder in motion.

What a wonder-ful day when being an inspiring person is no longer enough – the day when we choose to turn our inspiration into action and do something with it.

Inspiration without activation is simply a novel idea. I don’t know about you, but I desire more than that. I want to be more than a twinkling star or a beautiful diamond positioned in the sky. I desire my life to streak across the world around me and leave an essence of wonder that brings a glimmer of hope into the eyes of  another.

Just the same it is simply not enough to have faith – to believe – because even the darkness believes. I am convinced we were created for more than just shining and twinkling.

Wonder Woman did not call herself Wonder Woman. Her name was Diana and she introduced herself as Diana. She did not brand herself or build her own platform. It was the people she rescued, defended and protected who made her a star. Out of her actions, people witnessed wonder and made her name known.

She was a shooting star.

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We all have a twinkle. Each of us has a gift, a talent or a skill that brings about wonder. All we have to do is activate it, to scatter it abroad; move it.

I remember the moment my twinkle began to shift and wiggle into motion. It was the day the work of my hands intersected with the passion in my heart. It was 2008. I was leading a team of educators at a beauty institute. There was great opportunity, but only at the cost of great responsibility.

My life grew less about a product and more about people.

Less about hair and more about hearts.

Less about an image and more about a reflection.

Less about external concealer and more about internal makeup.

That is when I happened upon true beauty – she was hidden amidst the labors of love.

Want to be a Wonder Woman, a shooting star?

Here’s our biggest challenge: to sniff out deceiving endeavors that encourage us to focus time, talent and resources into the work it takes to be known as a Wonder Woman and instead, practice living out the bravery and humility to simply live as a woman of wonder.

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The respond-able woman

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You’re pretty, you’re beautiful and I love you so much!

This is my sons daily declaration of love for me. This is his spiel. He speaks these words again and again, eyes fixed and awaiting my response.

Of course I always respond. I scoop him up and smooch him to pieces; I drop what I’m doing and run to him; I hug him, thanking him for his sweet words; and I respond with my daily spiel back at him, “you’re brave and you’re cool and I love YOU so much!

Whatever my response, there are squeals and warm smiles all around. I’m not even sure what he gets a kick out of the most, expressing his love to me or receiving a response from me.

Now, could you imagine if I didn’t respond? What if, after his daily declaration, I ignored his words and continued chopping my vegetables, clearing away dirty dishes or applying my mascara. What if I completely disregarded his words?

Breaks my heart to even think about ignoring this little man of mine. My love for him is colossal. I would call myself an irresponsible mama; irresponsible with his tender, little-man-sized heart.

But lets look at it from another angle, shall we? What about when the words exchanged between those who love one another are filled with hurt and pain – words strewn amidst a battlefield of conflict – why is it so easy to ignore and disregard one another?

Is not a bold yet distressed word that communicates pain an equal expression of love for another as an effortless word of affirmation?

I would rather my teenage daughter express an awkward and angry frustration with me than isolate herself in her room, ignoring my knock on her door and giving me the silent treatment.

I would rather my husband speak an absolutely insensitive response regarding my ridiculous behavior, than to have him hold it in, and allow it to grow into resentment.

What if, in our unconditional love, we could give permission to those we love, to express their anger, pain, or worry without fear of rejection, silent treatment or cold-shoulder from us?

In relationships, we all posses the ability to respond to one another, but its in our capability – the action of responding – that demonstrates our measure of love in that relationship.

Being responsible enough to hold someones heart means we must be trustworthy, accountable and attentive to one another not just during good times, but also in tough times.

I’m guilty of this. Minutes after a heated argument, my husband walks up behind me, wrapping his arms around my waist saying “I love you“, I mumble a quiet, “love ya too” and pull away. I’m thinking: too soon, just give me 10 more minutes of cold shoulder. 

It’s too easy to not respond at all. One small effortless restraint of engaging in communication and poof – instant power. And unlike a physical blow to the face, there is no outward evidence of wrong doing, so clearly there are no grounds for taking full responsibility for this behavior.

Unless…we choose to live as responsible people.

To be responsible means to be answerable and accountable for something under your care. With great responsibility comes great opportunity. Our longing for deep and intimate relationships must be coupled with a great sense of responsibility for the health and care of those relationships.

Think of conflict as a tennis match: when we respond to it, we are taking a ball of power – which is the ministry of reconciliation – and we are serving it into another’s court. They, in turn, respond and send it back. This ball of power needs to go back and forth, engaging in dialogue and connectivity, to allow fear and anger to be sloughed off enough so that the core, which is the truth, may finally be revealed.

Nobody likes to play with a ball hog. He’s a hoarder of power; that guy who doesn’t pass the basketball to his team mates; continually shooting from the free-throw line. He’s a one-man-show. To him its all about winning – not about playing together.

Having a healthy relationship is not about  winning, it’s about leaving the court of conflict together, with love and unity in tact.

Too often we see one another as opposition instead of someone on our team and we overlook the real enemy: division.

We say I’m not getting into the ring with you… and..take your gloves off…because we are looking at conflict as a me against you battle. But sadly, this is just a very clever illusion that we fix our eyes upon while the real battle is well underway.

Until we choose to see one another as allies to the end, we will continue to lose the fight for unity.

Until we choose to live responsibly in our relationships, until we choose to step into the ring with one another, or lace up our gloves and fight alongside one another, we will continue to remain at a disadvantage.

Here’s the treasure: we have a Great Mediator.

He loves those on all “sides” of the offense. He has given us each the grace to face any conflict without fear of condemnation. He has given us each the courage to engage and respond to one another in truth and love; and He has given us each the strength to persevere through pain and vulnerability to reach the other side…reconciliation.

I know grandma taught you…if you ‘aint got nuthin’ nice to say, don’t say nuthin’ at all…but this might just be where the whole silent treatment came from, and it simply doesn’t work. What works is responding; what works is engaging; what works is communication and collaboration.

An equipped woman is not only a responsible woman, but a respond- able woman.

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Guilt Shield

Guilt is peeking at me from outside my dining room window today.

Guilt sits out in the rain – with its puppy dog eyes – looking pathetic, sad and needy. It whispers, “let me in.”

Guilt reminds me of my years as a single mother, where the Christmas season was about finding childcare during winter break more than enjoying the cold weather and cuddling with my babies while sipping hot chocolate each morning.

Guilt reminds me of the striving: more work, more pay, more time; less worry, less fear and less loneliness.

Guilt peeks at me from outside my home today because I sit here privileged and honored to be home with my babies. Home with my little one and home when the big-littles come home from school. Guilt wants me to feel bad for feeling so good.

Guilt tries to shame me for delighting in these cozy socks and enjoying yet another leisurely cup of tea after lunch while playing Christmas music and lighting candles for no one other than myself.

Of course, Guilt doesn’t want me to think about the fact that our income was cut in half after I came home from working many years. Guilt doesn’t like for me to remember the strain financially and the longing for the career I came to love. Guilt only wants me to feel bad for feeling good about my life.

I’m not angry at guilt, though, I appreciate its presence, even. Guilt has inspired me to *be* merry. When I really look at the blessings I am showered with it swells my heart with gratitude.

Guilt moves me into thankfulness, and for that I am obliged.

Guilt spurs me to reach out this season and bless a single mama whose working hard for her children.

Guilt brings me to reflect on my needs years ago and be an active participant in someone else’s life.

As I sit with my tea, watching the rain fall and inhale the mixed fragrance of Christmas tree and cinnamon apple candles – I am reminded of the skinny path I stayed on, and of the diligence and trust I painstakingly exercised that led me here.

So no, guilt, I will not let you in – but I do see you. I see your face and it moves me.

I will open my curtains wide, turn the music up louder, sweep with vigor and fold my laundry with pride – in thankfulness of where I am today. I will remember the women who are where I once was: earnestly providing for her family and mightily playing roles of both mother and father – and I will lift her up today in both word and deed.

“You are precious, my friend, you are deeply loved. You are strengthened and filled for each days demands. You are covered and you are radiant!”

Guilt loses its adverse power when you don’t allow it to rob you of gratitude and thankfulness. Then, guilt actually helps you to remain present and aware of grace and mercy – both which you have been given and that which you are capable of bestowing upon another.

I believe guilt was designed for this good: that we are to see its face and let it stir us to action. That we are not to carry it or let it in, but to simply acknowledge it enough to cause us to reflect on what we are truly thankful for – and let it move us.

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My mother has a method called the “guilt shield”, where she holds up both hands to the winds of shame – protecting her from the weight that guilt attempts to lay on your shoulders. I would say to take that one step further and let your “shield” be invisible – kinda like Wonder Woman’s invisible jet – so we can clearly identify its message.

Because there is always a message – if we dare to open our eyes and examine it closely.

What guilt lingers around you today? What thankfulness could it be secretly whispering of and in what ways could it possibly move you to action?

Cheers to not just having a Merry Christmas, but to  *being* merry this season!

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31 Days of Putting up a Good Fight

Are you a lover or a fighter?

Well, I guess I’m a little bit of both. I’m half Italian and half Irish, so waddya gonna do?! I get passionate and I also get pissed. Somebody told me that means I’m “compissionate”. Ha! Sounds about right.

But if you really knew my story, you might understand the value of being both a lover and a fighter.

Here’s the Irish in me: I have an appreciation for fighting. I’m comfortable around a gruesome fight; secure amidst the gritty shadows and hellish valleys. I love 300, Braveheart and Gladiator and I promise its not just because of Gerard Butler.

But here’s the Italian in me, (and the most dominant): I am sensitive to keeping the focus of a fight on the goal, the prize, the thing we are actually fighting for. I love The Holiday, The Notebook and Dirty Dancing.

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Love. Hope. Joy. Unity.

I believe these are worth fighting for.

I have also fought for life in the face of cancer. My daughter was the victim of its diagnosis, but I stepped into the ring with her, to fight alongside her, because that’s what love does.

Love gets dirty. Love can be rough and tumble. Love is fierce.

So, I do love a good fight, however, I have also learned how to fight well. I know what it takes to keep a marriage alive, a family thriving and hope anchored. I know how to prep for stepping into the ring for a friend and I delight in an invitation to join alliances with other great fighters.

Maybe this is why the whole Wonder Woman theme after all. Maybe I love her so much because she is both glamorous and gallant, cute and courageous, bootylicious and brave.

Maybe she is just a bit like me, a lover and a fighter.

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Follow

“Bloom where you are planted” – heard that one since forever ago. I’ve bought into this statement by way of stationary, journals and pretty wall pieces because it sounds so lovely. At 38 years old, I have found a problem with this. No one ever told me that it’s best to seek fertile soil first.

Few have been raised to investigate the grounds we allow to encompass our roots; even less have been taught to sample the waters that flow nearby or simply view ourselves worthy of moving about to find the rich soil.

When it comes to choosing friends, seeking a life-partner, starting up a new business, or deciding on the best schools for our children, however, we strongly encourage each other to seek quality. We read labels and check ingredients in the foods we buy because we care about the quality of what we put in our bodies.

Even our Creator, the greatest of all loving and nurturing shepherds, says to “taste and see that I am good”. We are encouraged to experience his heart before we give him ours.

In doing this, God invites us to build trust in Him. This is his first lesson of leadership. When he says follow me, we do as He does, we lead as he leads. And the first thing He does, as a leader, is establish trust.

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My pastor talked about courage in leadership this past week and how in order to become a great leader, first you must be a good follower.

A good follower tastes, tests, experiences and practices what they learn. A good follower asks questions and searches the heart. A good follower is alert to contradictions; active amidst injustice, and holds themselves responsible for the integrity of the whole. A good follower knows his leaders voice.

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As one  wounded out of unhealthy church community, It breaks my heart to no longer view Gods house as a place of safety and refuge; of sanctuary and love. It saddens me to feel so much disillusionment towards the place I once believed to be a vessel of abundant hope.

Turns out there are many of us. We find simplicity and contentment outside the walls, foregoing the exclusivity and corrupt culture that continues to dismember itself. He’s all we need.

Some days I wish I could ignore the zeal I have for His house. If only my heart didn’t beat for the restoration of His Church. Why must I love unity so much?

I guess I am my Fathers daughter.

I cry out, “Lord, how can you tolerate this in your house? Do something!”

And He replies as He did in Isaiah 6:8, “Whom shall I send?”

My heart quickly responds, “Here I am. Send me.”

Responsibility; a good follower is responsible for the health of the whole.

Yes, community is messy, but messy and sloppy are separated by one word: carelessness. A healthy community is in no way a perfect community. Healthy is simply balanced, thriving, full of love and unmistakably flourishing.

Healthy means truth is upheld and communication flows heartily; where hope abounds and peace resides; and healthy means that while conflict inevitably rises, unity is the goal for all who are members of the body.

A healthy community is reliant upon responsible members.

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While serving in leadership at a beauty institute, I discovered what it looks like to flourish under the influence of a humble and loving visionary. This generous man empowered my leadership, investing in my personal growth and development. His students were inspired by inspiring and influential teachers. He taught me that growth comes from the inside and extends outward and I followed his lead.

The soil here was rich and hearty; good for growing all kinds of wonderful people.

I am humbled to have tasted of good, healthy leadership. I am relieved to have experienced community that believed in interdependence, an honoring of our differences for the whole body to prosper. There was no need to preach about I Corinthians 12, I lived it every day.

After stepping away for a few years, I began to follow my heart back into leadership. The search for integrity to align with was excruciating. Thankfully, the time I had spent feasting on integrity and wisdom grew capabilities that protected me. I was able to sniff out intimidation and oppression; recognize arrogant and manipulative authority; steering clear of chauvinism and patronizing leadership.

We are placed within families to be tended to as children; when we mature, we become responsible for seeking out healthy associations, partnerships and mates. When we walk in spiritual maturity, it matters where we plant ourselves and it matters that we become responsible followers.

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When she is responsible, she cares about the integrity of her culture, especially the one that shapes her faith. When she is responsible, she cares about the quality of spiritual soil that nurtures her children as well as yours. When she is responsible, she cares about her own spiritual growth and development; it matters to her to be aligned with a community that is healthy, loving and thriving so she can safely bloom into all God has for her.

We are not weak-willed women, easily swayed or cunningly manipulated into silence and passivity. We are women who plant our roots in fertile soil in responsibility for ourselves, for this family of believers and for all our sons and daughters.

As we pray for unity in His house, we become responsible for laboring for it. As we pray for the flames in our childrens hearts to remain ablaze, we become responsible for fostering a culture that stokes. When division threatens our house, we become responsible to band together in unity.

Wisdom and discernment are sharpened when practiced. Let the zeal for His house consume us all towards greater responsibility, wider ranges of influence and more loving leadership.

It’s time for good followers to #LEAD

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