A Free Pat On Your Back

Recently someone said to me, “Stop being so hard on yourself, you just don’t give yourself enough credit”. That made me stop in my tracks and really think about those words. We have so many conversations online and in-person but when you hear those words come from anyone, your best bet is to take that in and listen. I really had to take some inventory of how true those statements were for me. Why was I being so hard on myself? Well, the honest truth is that we are our worst and toughest critic.

How often do we go through so many events in our lives that really push our limits to be stronger? How many times do we overcome losses, disappointments, rejection and still we dust ourselves off and move forward? Sometimes we don’t even realize that as time goes by, we have grown and learned so many lessons thanks to our strong spirit. We may have had failures but we also have made the conscious effort to keep pushing ahead for a better tomorrow. And even if tomorrow came and we stumbled again, we should just try again and just think, “Ok, this didn’t quite go the way I thought but what was my lesson here?” Your perseverance no matter how big or small should be acknowledged and celebrated. Now, sure you’re not going to throw yourself a party every time you overcome a problem (or would you? invites being accepted), but taking notice that you are trying is a HUGE step. Let’s agree to not be so hard on ourselves because if we were to look back, I’m sure we could find we have made bigger strides than we give ourselves credit for. Of course, it’s always nice to hear “great job” from your bosses, peers, friends but just remember not to let that command your thoughts or let that be your drive. An idea is to perhaps begin making a list of difficult circumstances you have experienced and how you saw yourself through it. Write down your strengths or actions that you may have taken to turn your situation around. Thinking about it just fine but there is something special about putting it on paper and seeing it in front of you. You don’t have to show this list to anyone. This is for yourself and a moment of face to face transparency and sincerity for you.  Just like any muscle that needs exercise, so is the act of validating your successes and your inner strength. Once you put some thought behind this you are off to empowering yourself to another level. Today, I am here to remind you that you should pat yourself on your back. Why? Because you deserve to give yourself much credit for working hard, being a great parent, sibling, friend, colleague and heck just for making it from one day to the next with all the obstacles out in the world.

“Always concentrate on how far you’ve come, rather than how far you have left to go.” ~Unknown

Photo by: Nghia Le

Taking Your Power Back & Healing With Meditation

Have you ever heard the term, “take your power back”? Perhaps unintentionally and to some degree, you have given some of your personal power away to your bosses, coworkers, spouse or to just situations in your life. These days the world can be a noisy and needy environment and working on trying to find peace of mind and balance is something that most of us seem to constantly strive for. Sometimes we may even have to experience traumatic situations or go through a dramatic life change that requires us to take inventory of what is causing our stress or anxiety. If you read one of my recent posts, The Magic of Solitude, then you know that I suggested finding time alone as a means to not only find inner peace but to listen to that voice inside of you. Today we are taking it a step further. As an additional tool to that alone time, I have found that meditation can be an effective aid in seeking tranquility and even wisdom. I remember the very first time I was introduced to meditation and it was at a high school retreat. I attended an all-girls private school and recall sitting in a large, quiet room with all my classmates. One of the guest speakers took us through a guided meditation class using only soft background music, visualization, and breathing techniques. It was an incredible experience at the time but I did also learn that it’s not something that you can turn on or off so quickly. Meditation does take focus and significant practice – but at that very young age, there was a part of me that did find this experience to be so profound. Many years have gone by since that retreat day. A couple of years ago I found myself in an odd place in my life and the passing of my father took me in a different direction on so many levels. It produced a mix of emotions from anxiety, depression and this void was more than I could process or handle. Perhaps that deep sense of loss ignited another part of me that was dormant. I was trying to desperately make sense of what I needed in order to find some balance. So I took moments of solitude and allowed myself take some time for reflection. I learned that I needed to breathe. That is where it all began for me. Before I knew it, conscious inhaling and exhaling became my companion on many occasions. I began to find myself listening to guided meditations or just doing them on my own when I didn’t have much time during the day accompanied by some yoga.

So often we don’t realize how much we tend to hold our breath when we are stressed or anxious. We also tend to bury uncomfortable and painful experiences. Our soul becomes this storage unit where we just keep piles of untapped feelings or unpleasant memories that we decide to put away in a box under lock and key. What can happen is that these unacknowledged emotions begin to creep up and show up in forms of stress, illness or just a sense of unbalance in many parts of our lives and even in our relationships.

Now, I am not here to push meditation on anyone or to tell you exactly what is the best way to practice it. I am only here to share my personal experience. Meditation has been around for centuries but with today’s heightened interest in new age, holistic and wellness lifestyles, it’s no surprise that this has become a very popular self-care practice. If you are in a place in your life where you feel you need answers or are feeling overwhelmed with life decisions then meditating just a few minutes a day can make a difference. It’s a step towards self-empowerment. Think about how much time you dedicate to listening to everyone around you and filtering through so much online information. Don’t you think you deserve to listen to what YOU’RE feeling or thinking? Believe me, the mindfulness that comes with this practice is something that can be challenging but also very healing and therapeutic. Even going for a walk and focusing on your steps can be meditative. Also, while taking a shower you can simply close your eyes, focusing on your breath can help with quieting the racing thoughts. In turn, this can shift your energy and bring some form of calming effect and who knows maybe new ideas may even be born. Remember, you deserve to give yourself just a few moments a day to connect with your true self. It’s not just about eating a clean diet, hitting the gym or drinking that green juice. Wellness and self-care begin from the inside…it is truly mind, body and soul.

So friends, have you engaged in any style of meditation practice? If so, how often and what techniques do you find work best?

 

 

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.” – Voltaire

The Courage To Be Authentic

Have you ever battled with staying true to your values, ideals and inner self? One of the hardest things anyone can experience is trying to stay as authentic to who they really are. These days, everyone wants to look like someone else, dress like celebrities, talk and walk like anyone but themselves. We all know someone who is making big life decisions based on what their friends and family dictate or expect. What about those that invest in a career or job because they feel that it would look good on paper, but the prospect of being in that company or job only causes more anxiety and stress. The truth is most people yearn to be accepted by society all the while they are sacrificing their authentic values and even their life purpose and passions. From a very young age, we are taught to live up to the expectations of our parents, teachers…everyone but our own. So, to those that are living beyond their means to impress others, to those that are working in careers that they hate, those afraid of getting out of a bad relationship, to those that are afraid to be open in any area of their lives I say, please for goodness sake listen to your inner voice. You see dear one, life is too short and we have to nurture our own life journey. There will always be naysayers that judge, have opinions or disagree with your way of doing everything and guess what, that’s okay. You can’t go through life worrying about the opinions of others. We can’t depend on others to fulfill our happiness because it does begin from within. I know from a personal perspective, it took a lot of courage to move my blog topics from all fashion to self-development and creative inspirational themes. I intend to continue tackling other alternative themes because that is where I am in my life and I’m sure there are others who could benefit from these discussions as well.

No matter at what stage you are in your life, you have the divine responsibility to ensure that you have a say in your life choices. You can begin by taking inventory of where you are in your life and decide how you want to make changes. You don’t have to make major changes all you need it to take one step in the direction of what you desire. It’s never too late to have the courage to start over and live a life that is truly and genuinely on your terms.

Photo: Josh Boot

Josh Boot

In Honor of the Memory of Marielle

It has been quite some time since I’ve published a blog post. I have certainly missed it but sometimes you have to step away from certain projects and explore other areas of interest. Yet, the reason I’m writing this post today is not to call this a comeback or to do a write up about fashion, self-care or other topics. Today this post is dedicated to a special friend and fashion comrade who unfortunately I found out this week is no longer with us.

The news was devastating, terribly sad and still so hard to comprehend. But I want to take this opportunity to remember what a great woman Marielle Larkin was. We met on Twitter several years ago (you may know her as @Gucci80). Our passion for the runway and all things fashion made us click instantly. She was a fashion freelance writer and had such a strong opinion and a wealth of knowledge when it came to fashion and the business behind it. During past fashion weeks, it almost became a game of how many times we were at the tents around the same time but never had the chance to meet up. She even spotted me on her computer on a couple of live streamed shows at NYFW. We compared notes on some of the most noteworthy shows every season. She was so joyful, funny, high-spirited, a real pistol from New Jersey and she was so proud of it! She loved to read, cook (thanks for the recipes), travel and was an avid photographer with a great eye. I always told her she was a jack of so many creative trades. She was also an animal lover and a fur mommy. She lovingly introduced all of her social media friends to her beloved dog Fitzy, who through so many fun photographs we grew to cherish. As time progressed Marielle had made so many fashion friends and we had many groups which we live-tweeted with for any given fashion show, Met Gala or red carpet award season event. Before we knew it we had joined Instagram and just became like family. We knew who our key players were in our private lives and got to know each other even more as time went by. Her kindness had no boundaries and she truly cherished her online group of friends. She checked in on all of us regularly (especially when inclement weather hit our towns) and always kept the conversation going in some way. She was also a hardcore Yankee fan! Every summer she brought her Yankee fan energy and challenged our mutual friend Roseann Gambale and myself since we are Mets fans. Oh, the fun back and forth during so many subway series games, all in great fun. Marielle also was always so supportive of this blog which is why I chose to use this online platform to honor her. She always had great feedback towards my writing ventures. I felt privileged to have her backing because I knew it came from a genuine place.

This week was hard for myself and for all of us who had daily exchanges with her for months or years. How is it possible that someone can touch your life without you even meeting them in person? That is the power of friendship and the truest power of love. It surpasses all physical boundaries. Sometimes all you need are a few kind words or someone to make you laugh to change your days. I will always be grateful for having the honor of calling Marielle my friend. Her time among us was too short and it will take a long time to get used to the idea that she is not here to be a part of so many conversations and topics that we enjoyed sharing. She was one of a kind. I’m sorry we never got the chance to say goodbye, but your memory will live on. Wishing you a smooth flight to the highest of skies. You are now reunited with your dad and I’m sure he had the biggest hug for his little girl. You will now have a front row seat to every fashion show and you will get to travel anywhere at any time to all your favorite places and some new ones my sweet friend.

In her last tweet, she told me she had had a dream the night before with me and my husband and that we were in London celebrating and she had come along with us. Well, I know the day I do go to London you will be right there dear friend. My sincerest condolonces to Marielle’s mom, family and friends.

 

Mare, my favorite Jersey girl, I miss you and I will keep you in my heart forever.

 

What I Learned From The Wonder Woman Film

One Style at a Time is always looking for inspiration and to share different sources that inspire this blog with our readers. By now many of you have seen the Wonder Woman film or perhaps you have heard all about its narrative. You may also know that it has been extremely successful at the box office. In just three weeks it has earned close to $600 million dollars worldwide and still counting. Director Patty Jenkins has also made history by shattering the glass ceiling for all the aspiring female directors. She now holds the record for the highest domestic opening for a film by a female director. Is the film worthy of all these accolades? Absolutely!

Personally, this film was of much significance for me. As a young child, I was exposed to the Wonder Woman TV show led by actress Lynda Carter. This was during a time when all we had were Superman, Batman, Spiderman among many other superheroes that were all male on TV and later in movies. I was fascinated by Lynda Carter’s interpretation of Wonder Woman. She was strong, charismatic, brave and drop dead gorgeous. And obviously, the costume was every little girl’s favorite with her golden crown and lasso plus her powerful bracelets. The years and decades went by and every possible male superhero and even male villain acquired a standalone role on the big screen. I kept wondering what was the hold up with this Wonder Woman film. In my mind, I was running casting calls for years of who would be a possible good fit for this Amazonian great. It wasn’t until 2016 when more details came out that there was finally a script, then a director and finally, Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot had won the leading role as Wonder Woman.  The anticipation began and I kept my fingers crossed that this movie would be everything all the little girls like me had waited for so long.

Now that I have seen the film (more than once), I can say that it is worthy of the long wait and all the positive reviews it has received. Director Patty Jenkins together with Gal Gadot have truly given us a story that will live on to be a favorite and a classic in the superhero archives. Sure there was the expected high-energy Wonder Woman fighting scenes which are quite incredible. But there was so much more in this movie. Patty Jenkins gave us a story that empowered woman not only as Amazonian gladiators but also as women with so much heart. It portrayed the love a mother toward her daughter who she needed to make strong enough and one day let her go out into the world. The love of an aunt who with bravery and tenacity trained her niece to be the best warrior in the battlefield. Then there is Diana Prince herself with her kind and humane side and her innocent eagerness to want to save all of mankind from war. Her rude awakening quickly came when she realized that it’s not just one but multiple elements of darkness and greed that poison this world she has stepped into. Keep in mind, all this was being told from the era of World War I and yet it feels as though not much has changed in 2017. Our world still needs so much help and it’s up to each of us to be kind and compassionate to one another. We have to find our inner Wonder Woman and push forward through the injustice and madness of today. This movie not only serves as entertainment but an inspiration for women, men, and children. It teaches us to come together for the better good and although we are all flawed as humans in the end, what should drive each of us is love.