Morning Fog and Authenticity

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The morning is foggy and cooler than I expected it to be. The damp stings my bare fingers and toes, and nips the tip of my tongue as I draw in slices of air to feed my thighs as I walk up a hill.

There is one advantage to foggy spring mornings in Kansas--silence. We don't really speak in the fog. Thus, as I walk, I enjoy the grass, the trees, the clover, the bushes, and the birds with a clarity unparalleled by sunny days.

As I sipped the sweet fragrance of white cluster blossoms and relaxed into life, I thought about Mark Bowden's take on Authenticity and the idea of being our "real selves" to the people we lead.

What does Authenticity really mean?

kk.april. selfieDoes it mean complete honesty and transparency? If so, I suppose I could be honest with you. I could post pictures of me right now in the moment I'm enjoying the cool, moist wind. I have no makeup on and my hair is a mess, but more or less, I look naturally and honestly lovely... because I honestly feel tranquil.

But what if my honesty today was that of frustration or pain? Would you really want me to be transparent about that?

Of course not. We don't need to be super-cheerful all the time, but we also don't need to take our following through every valley of difficulty in order to be genuine. Forcing them to slog through the bad times just makes you seem brooding, unpredictable and moody. Unless that's your thing, don't go there.

To borrow an idea from my Creative Non-Fiction Writing teacher, we all have a lens through which we view life, and when we share bits of real life with others, we can choose what parts of the picture we are going to show them.

It's not complete transparency, but it is the truth, even though it's not all of it.

For example, here are the blossoms I chose to show you:

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The lovely bushes were actually growing in a really ugly place. They were right next to a transformer and a football stadium with a huge, flashing scoreboard:

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One photo makes you feel like you're in a private garden of tranquility, the other makes you feel like you're in prison. At the time I took those photos I felt tranquil, so I framed what I wanted you to focus on.

Your followers expect you to share your struggles in the context of insight. They want to know that you have gained wisdom from the struggles of life, and that they can do the same.

A brief note of caution--

Some people use framing to obscure the truth rather than enhance it. Don't be like those folks. Don't be afraid to share your mistakes and weakness with others.

Weakness, framed with perspective and insight, brings the perfect level of authenticity to your brand. {TWEET THIS}

How do you keep it real with your fans and followers?

Tell me all about it on Twitter, and follow me on Facebook for more insights.

Namaste,

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Fifty Shades of Bronte

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In general, I hesitate to weigh in on these kinds of issues. However, since I am a writer, a student of human behavior, and a lover of cinema, I feel like I need to speak up about Fifty Shades of Grey, the first film in what I assume will be a film trilogy based on the books by E.L. James.

Here is the mandatory disclosure:

I have not read the books, but my sister has, and she has described them in detail to me. This has provided me with a strong context for the story, but in no way gives me the authority to evaluate James' writing style, her knowledge of BDSM protocols, or nuances of character behavior.

However, I did indeed see the film on Valentine's Day with my mom and sister, and days later, we are still talking about it.  We haven't talked this much about a movie since The Matrix. There is a huge cultural conversation around this movie, and I have a few things to add. Points that I believe will allow us to look at the story and characters from a different perspective.

I loved the movie, haven't read the book, probably won't read the book.

The movie is the only thing I am talking about in this blog post. I love writing, and I do enjoy a good story, but I'm a full time student , and I'm trying to finish a novel. Ain't nobody got time to read 800 pages of Twilight fan fiction.

Remember, this plot and the characters are based entirely upon characters from a teen novel that many parents will still not let their children read. It BLOWS MY MIND that people are talking about young girls reading the Fifty Shades series or seeing the movie. This is adult material. I'm sure E.L. James never intended for readers under the age of 18 to read the book.

If you are worried about young girls idealizing Christian Grey and his contracts as the ideal relationship, I want to know exactly how young you think these readers/viewers are--ten? Could we all agree that the youngest person that should read the books or see this movie is eighteen? And if that is the case, do we really think these young women are inept enough to see a portrayal of abuse, think it's love, and seek after a man who will treat them likewise?

Is Christian Grey a sadistic, manipulative abuser, or a modern Byronic Hero?

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to turn our attention back to the Gothic fiction of the 19th century. Many of these novels, especially those of the Bronte sisters, included characters that were some of the most infuriating, manipulative love interests ever written. In researching the story lines of these books, I came across a name for this character trope--the Byronic Hero. This character is a man who is emotionally wounded, keeps very dark secrets, is extremely moody and often verbally abusive.  He lies to and manipulates his love interest, and guess what? SHE KEEPS COMING BACK FOR MORE!

My sister LOVES watching the movie versions of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, whereas I can't take it without scoffing and groaning and heckling the female character in many of the same ways critics of Shades have done to Anastasia.

"He's no good for you, and he treats you like CRAP! Why are you with him?!"

Seriously, I have abhorred the Byronic Hero so badly, that I was not able to get through any of the aforementioned movies until this past year. In addition, my mother and sister had to explain it to me.  Why, oh, WHY do women glorify this bullshit and read it several times a year? How is this romantic?

Christian Grey is a caricature of the wounded masculine.

It may not be "right" or "healthy," but I am coming to understand, there is a certain complicated spot in the female psyche that want to heal a wounded man, and there are wounded men who want to be healed. Gothic literature creates tropes of these desires and even provides self-parody of these tropes. Look carefully, and you'll find the tongue-in-cheek.

Of course no self-respecting woman would stay with such a man. No woman SHOULD stay with a man who cannot control his passions or rage.  Period.  If you are being abused, raped or manipulated, get out now--you deserve better. There are better men out there. Don't hesitate to leave.

***Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

The Byronic Hero is not meant to represent an abuser. He is a caricature of the wounded masculine--the rage and frustration many average men hold inside.  It is an expression of their need to be vulnerable contrasted with the personal pressure they feel to be in control, in charge, respected and, well, manly.

These are the men who had such a profoundly rough start in life that they have virtually no connection to the feminine, but also a desperate need for it.

The movie portrayal of Christian Grey by actor Jamie Dornan is surprisingly desperate and needy.  The performance was amazing. Not once while watching the film did I ever see that he was in control. Not once--Anastasia has him wrapped completely around her little finger the whole time, and though she is soft spoken and little scared, I think she knows it.

Christian admits it himself, "I'm fifty shades of f***ed up."

I don't see how he could be less confusing or more open...just about the furthest from manipulative you can get.

 

Really watch the movie, and if you disagree, Facebook me with your rebuttal.

The whole "BDSM Thing"

I can't say I'm an authority on the psychology of BDSM and why those who do it do it. However, if what I understand is correct, those who engage in BDSM are some of the most respectful and communicative when it comes to sex and relationships. Sure, Christian had many secrets from Anastasia, but he was never secretive about exactly what she would be getting herself into by being with him. At every point in the unfolding of their relationship, he was explicit in exactly what she could expect.

I ask you, how many women would appreciate a man who could do that? Most guys aren't present enough to do that. Most guys can't peel themselves away from the XBox long enough for a "hey, sweetie, how 'ya doin'?"

Without exception, every single encounter they had in the film, be it a date or sex, was preceded by an invitation and a clear chance for Anastasia to say "no." Let me repeat that--she was of age and coerced into exactly nothing. Even after she had consented, when she said "no," Christian obeyed--he didn't even hint at violating her boundary. In this movie, they used protection (condoms), emphasized 'safe words,' and "no" meant "no." I see nothing wrong here... the only thing I see in folks who dislike the hitting and dominance is a (common) misunderstanding of BDSM.

Miscellaneous

As for those who try to say this story is abhorrent because "well, the actor-guy and his wife are creeped out by Christian Grey, so..."

No. First of all, Jamie Dornan has every personal right not to like BDSM, and yet take on an acting role of someone who does. It's like saying homosexuality is wrong because Heath Ledger would never have sex with a man in his personal sex life. Give me a break. I believe this role will rocket him to stardom not just for the popularity of the franchise, but be cause he respected the character, fully showed up for the role and did a great job.

As for the chemistry of the actors, all I gotta say is, it's screaming Oscar--because if they hated each other and couldn't stand what they were doing, they definitely fooled me.

That's really all I want to say about Fifty Shades of Grey. I loved the movie, and I think it's an interesting watch. I would recommend it to adults with the inclination who are trying to decide whether or not they should. It didn't change my whole world view or shock me at all (I've seen documentaries more explicit) but the script and performances moved me and spoke to parts of my own relationships that have been, at times, exquisitely painful.

Let me know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter.

Namaste,

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The True Order of Prayer

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tweet this:  "Gratitude is the SEED of the very thing you wish to receive." ~ via @KristaKubie

For now, let's set aside the thought of a personage in the sky writing out your life like some unchangeable novel. And let's also set aside the idea that any one or anything has to relay messages to the Divine on your behalf.

In fact, let's just throw out everything you've ever thought about Deity and communication thereto. We're opening a new book today.

In one way or another, we all pray--

'Please God, let me get to work on time.'

'I hope I get this job.'

even 'Gesundheit' counts.

I believe those sentiments are heard, and in one way or another, they are answered.

The universe wants to respond to your desires, and the ancient masters knew how to ask.  They shared this information liberally... those who came after them took out the key elements.

In this video, spiritual lecturer Gregg Braden outlines Five Modes of Prayer, and gives a few examples of the most effective way to pray--what I now call the true order of prayer.

It isn't clear whether the omission of exactly how to pray from Christendom's holy books was politically driven or intended specifically to enslave us to the will of other power-hungry individuals.  Maybe we just forgot how and the editors of scripture removed concepts that made no sense to them.

Here is the truth that is currently resonating in my heart--this is it.

This one small aspect of prayer has transformed my relationship to deity.  In my opinion, this is "the joy of the Lord" the Bible conveys.  It is a god-like happiness for needs and desires yet to be met, and this is the seed of the very thing you wish to receive.

The key is to live in gratitude for what you want as if it is already in your life.

My practice of prayer has been completely transformed. Part of my spiritual practice is now attempting to live every moment in a state of prayer--that state of gratitude.

What is your experience with prayer?

Have you heard of this practice before?  Have you had success receiving answers and desires through prayer?

Come and tell me all about it on Facebook OR Twitter.

Namaste,

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If You’ve Ever Wanted to Change the World, Now’s the Time. Here’s How:

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We have an amazing opportunity in this day and age. Never has it been easier to connect with people that really lite us up.  It's SO EASY to find our Tribe--find people with goals and modes of thinking we aspire to.

The Desire Map has been that kind of thing for me.

I never knew there were other women out there daring to lead with the right brain--with art and integrity--with soul.

Desire Mapping has turned my life from an impossible dream into a fantastic experience. All I've ever wanted is now within my grasp.

It is possible for Cash and Conscience to to coexist.  You can have Goals with Soul.

If You've Ever Wanted to Change the World, Now's the Time. Here's How:

Become a Licensed Desire Map Facilitator.

The Desire Map Licensing Program is one of the most soulful (non-sleazy) businesses-in-a-box out there. Based on the book The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte, the Licensing Program prepares anyone with vision and moxie to lead Desire Map workshops anywhere on the planet.

You can prosper while changing lives.

Even if you are still unfamiliar with The Desire Map, this program gives you all you need to find your own Core Desired Feelings and help you build goals with soul that allow you to feel how you want to feel right now while your future self is coalescing.

Words are powerful. They are vibrational representations of the elements of life.  To assign words to your Core Desired Feelings is to start a process that will draw the future into the now.

As a Facilitator, you will not only help others find these key words, you will help them achieve clarity, happiness, and fulfillment.  In turn, these folks will have the wherewithal to take that risk, start that charity, take that trip, join that playgroup, heal that relationship...and the ripple of goodness will spread out to everyone they know, and the community, and the world.

If the idea of massive change through small and simple acts is making you tingle with YES,

don't hesitate--join Danielle LaPorte's The Desire Map Licencing Program.

Offer more to your massage clients--a release they can carry with them every day.

Yoginis take their practitioners through this program and compliment physical breath work with peace in the soul.

Think about it--the possibilities for your personal life, your business, and your impact on the world are endless.

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Don’t Be a Poser: 3 Simple Ways to Stay on Track

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I have so many epiphanies every day, I can't keep track. (Like how to stop eating your feelings--that was a big one.)

Here's an epiphany that I just had to share with you--

I can say I'm a novelist all I want, but if I never take the time to finish the novel, then I'm just a poser.

It's pretty powerful when you talk straight, isn't it?

Seriously, though. Even genuinely important things can keep us from what we want to achieve.

For instance, this last semester, I took Spanish along with three other classes.  The "clase de espanol" proceeded to kick my trash, and I had barely enough time to brush my teeth at night, let alone put pen to paper. A difficult class schedule is a valid reason to lapse on goals, right?  Well, it may be a valid reason, but the reality is, any excuse--even a valid one--can still stand between me and what I want to become.

As always, Marie TV came to the rescue.  If you do one thing today to improve your life or business, get on Marie Forleo's email list.  She gives away free advice that is better than stuff I've paid hundreds of dollars to get my hands on.

So, watching Marie TV while walking on the treadmill this morning (feeling super proud of myself) I scanned her channel for some practical info on following through.  I really do want to be a novelist just like I want to fit size 10 jeans.  I am planning the entire year of 2015 around my revised Core Desired Feelings and "Completion" is a big word on that list.

Here's 3 Tips I picked up:

  1. Make "micro changes."  Do little things that will get you partway to a larger goal and feel good about accomplishing them. (This is especially valuable for a writer, because novels are made up of many small scenes and pieces of dialogue.  To lift from Shel Silverstein, you can eat the whale, but only a bite at a time.)
  2. Don't give yourself the option to not do it.  When something has to get done, you do it.  Plain and simple. Keep the promises you make to yourself.
  3. Set benchmarks or measurable improvements and achieve them.  Setting these requirements just a little bit out of your reach will make them seem reasonable and achievable.  Apparently, there have been a lot of studies that show that whatever is measured and reported gets better--exponentially.  Hey, I'm all for exponential growth.

I'm ashamed to admit how many half-finished novels I have laying around.  No, I really am.  I have unfinished novels from middle school in a box under my desk.  I shudder to think how much I could have accomplished already if I had understood these principles sooner.

To my credit, I never stopped writing.  Over twenty years later, I have all the book ideas I could ever want.  I simply need to plan my time to get the books written.

I am shaping next semester to allow me time to pass Spanish and finish the series of Fairy Tales I  have been working on for a couple years.

What do you wish you had the time to do?  Do it!  And if you're extra organized with all your own super-effective methods, I want to know what they are.

Visit me on Facebook, G+ or Twitter to let me know what you're doing with your new year and how these insights affected your plans.

Also, don't forget to join me for DESIRE 2015 every Sunday evening.

This is your life--go make it the one you always wanted.

Namaste,

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Sources:

Follow-Through Habits for Serial Quitters by Marie Forleo

How to Follow-Through by Marie Forleo

5 Steps To Change Your Life and Make It Stick Interview: Marie Forleo -> Todd Herman