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Be Your Beauty

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Be Your Beauty

I learned long ago that thought is reality, and the way that I saw myself became the way I carried myself.   For many years I let my self-image dictate how I showed-up in life, and it wasn't pretty.  I was awkward, always seeking to be invisible—letting my hair hang in my face, never making eye contact, wearing baggy clothes, and never speaking up.  I didn't value mySelf. 

At the encouragement of my parents and a friend's mother, I attended modeling school and started to see my beauty.   I started modeling and while this began to change things for me, seeing myself as physically beautiful was not the same as seeing myself as innately noble.  I had to do the inner work necessary to accept the nobility of my soul as an absolute, unchangable fact.  As I walked this path of "knowing" to my core my inherent worth something striking happened in my photoshoots, I began to show-up differently in the images.  Images that once looked pretty but hollow became vibrant and full of life.  I realized that in order for an image to truly capture a person's light, that light has to be lit from within—this isn't something photoshop can "fix". 

Now I work behind the camera lens, supporting others in their journey of embracing their inner light so that their brand images truly reflect their inner certitude.  I do this through my Brand Your Beauty program.  This program supports entrepreneurs in stepping into their light on camera leading to an increase in both confidence and clients.  During our time together we  explore the various barriers—myths, fears, and insecurities—that keep individuals from honestly recognizing their inherent beauty and transform such barriers into bridges to their true calling.  For you are a noble soul.  Once you embrace this truth and show-up in life knowing to your core that you are a vibrant, brilliant, beautiful being, the world cannot help but notice.  And when you feel confident, it is a catalyst to your calling, and THAT is what this work is about—empowering you to serve.

An essential aspect of the Brand Your Beauty program is the virtual Radiance Retreat, which consists of three mini-intensives: Exploration, Transformation, and Sophistication conversations.  During the Sophistication conversation I share tips and tricks from nearly two decades of experience in-front of and behind the camera lens.  Much of this learning comes from my time as a model—both in terms of techniques to amplify physical beauty and, most importantly, to boost inner radiance.  However, most of this learning comes from my own journey to truly see myself, my whole Self, as beautiful.

So while much of this may sound like it is only for entrepreneurs or those preparing for a photoshoot or live event, the truth is that all of us could stand to recognize, appreciate, and embrace our genuine and natural beauty in a way that elevates our souls, awakens our purpose, and catalyzes our calling.

For a glimpse at the kinds of things covered during the Sophistication conversation, click here for a free gift, "Be Your Beauty".

So much love,

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The Story that Starts and Ends with a Turtle

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The Story that Starts and Ends with a Turtle

A couple weeks ago I saved a turtle.  My husband and I were driving in Henry County along a winding road to New Castle, KY, and we saw a turtle in the road.  After I shouted “that was a turtle!” Adam asked if we should turn around.  Of course I said yes, and so we did.  It wasn’t the safest idea I’ve ever had, but I did it.  I ran into the middle of the road and picked the little guy up by his shell, and, while he hissed at me, I placed him safely in the grass on the other side of the road.  As we drove away a huge tractor drove by which would have totally crushed the poor guy, and I said out loud that I felt saving that turtle was one of the most significant acts of gratitude in my life, no joke.

In May of 2011 Adam and I went on a nine-day pilgrimage to the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa, Israel.  On the final day of our pilgrimage, at our final Holy Place visit—at the House of the Master—I stepped outside to take a moment for myself and I saw a turtle, right smack dab in the center of the sidewalk.  He was looking right at me, as if to say “I have something to tell you”.  In that moment I was overwhelmed by a knowing that Adam and I would be taken care of, and not in a general sort of way, in a very specific way—our housing would be provided for us for a good long while.  So this turtle, who carries his house wherever he goes, was showing me that our housing would be taken care of so that we could focus on other, more important things in the early years of our marriage. 

I was a student, and after we were married in January of 2011 I transferred to the college Adam worked at in Saint Peter, MN.  Shortly after returning from pilgrimage, my husband was offered a secondary position at the college as a head resident at one of the campus dorms.  So in the summer of 2011, we moved into an apartment on campus—our accommodations provided for—for two years.    

As I approached graduation we began to look at other opportunities, one of which was service in the Holy Land, at the Bahá'í World Centre—where we had visited for pilgrimage.  Prior to my graduation we were invited to serve for 30 months.  Moving to a new country is an exciting and challenging experience, and it was seamless in part because our accommodations were provided for us while overseas. 

As our time in the Holy Land drew to a close, and we began to think about next steps, we decide to return to the US and be near family.  We didn’t want to just jump back into life as we knew it, for we had been changed by our experience overseas, and we wanted to be mindful about what we did next.  We were very fortunate in that we were able to live with Adam’s parents for 17 months while we adjusted to life back in the US.  As our time with them drew to a close we were offered a service position in Louisville, KY, which provided accommodations.

For the last six years our accommodations have been provided for us, and every time we moved I thought about that turtle and was grateful.

Last month our service ended in Louisville, and while we were offered another opportunity that would have provided us with accommodations, we decided it was time to change the course of our lives.  My husband accepted a position teaching High School English in Henry County, KY, and on our way to the high school to see his classroom we saw a turtle.  Yep, the turtle at the start of this story.  And while I was carrying him over to the side of the road I felt something shift.  It felt so significant, saving that turtle.  It was almost like saving him was my way of expressing gratitude to that other turtle for its message all those years ago.  It was more than that; it was my way of thanking God for sending me messages in ways that I understand, for truly providing for Adam and me while we began the work of building a solid foundation for our marriage, and for letting me know that while it is a bit scary to have all the bills that come with having your own place, we made the right choice, and we will be provided for in other ways.

So here I sit, in our new apartment reflecting on the gratitude I feel for the years of support that we have received, in awe of the mystical workings of the Divine, leaning into this new chapter in our lives, and humbled by the message of not one, but two turtles.

In awe of God's will,

Sunset from Henry County High School

Sunset from Henry County High School

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The Tattoo

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The Tattoo

This, here, is my right foot.

The one-and-only tattoo I have is on this foot. Before getting this tattoo, I used a sharpie marker and drew it on every day for a month, just to make sure I wanted it. And boy, did I want this one. And even now, after 10 years, it means more to me every day than it did the last.

This word “kon” in Arabic means “be”. At the time I had been reading all about certain experiments in Japan that indicated that the energy of a word could visibly transform the molecular structure of water, so I decided to get a word tattooed on my body to support my overall growth and development (I mean, our body is overall 60% water and our brain and heart are 73% water!). I kept thinking of words, and at the time I was really focused on understanding and upholding justice in my life, so initially I was going to get that on my foot.  But then I thought, "is this really the attribute I'm going to want to work on in 10 years?" Well, it's 10 years later and I'm glad I went a different direction.

Ultimately I decided on “be”, thinking I could mentally insert whatever attribute I was focused on at any given moment: “be just” or “be joyful”. Only after I got the tattoo did I learn that in Persian the same word “kon” means “do”. I thought this was pretty darn cool back then, but today it is my favorite thing about my tattoo.

This one word, in two languages, means both “be” and “do”. This is what I am striving to live into at this moment in my life, being myself through doing the things that remind me of who I am. 

The whole being and doing thing is so fascinating to me. This symbiotic relationship is called our “two-fold moral purpose”, and essentially it states that the individual and society develop together. I, as an individual, cannot develop my character and capacity without being of service to my community. AND the community cannot develop its character and capacity unless individuals are being of service to it and supported by it. So if I want to “be” my best self I have to “do” what I can for my community.

It's truly incredible if you think about it. The lessons I keep learning from this one little tattoo. 

With love,

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Awaken and Surrender

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Awaken and Surrender

In the experience of beauty we awaken and surrender in the same act. ~John O'Donohue

What a remarkable concept.  Experiencing beauty leads to both an awakening to all that is potentially possible in this moment and to a surrendering to the larger, sweeping rhythm of life. 

In the last post I explored how beauty calls us, not to some distant future goal, but "to our inherent capacity in this moment, right now".

Beauty calls us beyond ourselves and it encourages us to engage the dream that dwells in the soul. ~John O'Donohue

In this sense beauty awakens our own calling and invites it out into the world.  It beckons.  It draws our attention to all that is noble within, here and now.  There is no rush to become, no urge to fix, no hustle to do more.  There is a gentle coming alive, a humble waking up to the truth of what has been inside of us all along, and in that awakening there is a surrendering, a recognition that while we are noble and grand and matchless in our capacity, we are but a drop in this one great ocean of humanity.  Beauty reminds us that if we relax into the present moment we will remain connected to the sacredness of all life.  We surrender when we appreciate that there is no place for competition in our quest to live into all that we potentially possess, for we recognize that what we truly seek is a meaningful life—a life lived in service—a life braided with luminous moments.

"Every life is braided with luminous moments." ~John O'Donohue

May your life be braided with luminous moments of beauty that lead to your awakening and surrendering, all in the same act.

Much love,

 

 

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... we feel called

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... we feel called

When we experience beauty, we feel called. ~John O'Donohue

I can remember being 12 years old on a crisp fall afternoon, sitting on my branch in the woods on the farm where I grew up.  I sat there completely still, transfixed by the way the light flooded through the falling leaves, casting its rays upon the ground.  All around me birds sang sweet melodies beckoning me into the moment.  I couldn't help but be exactly where I was, which was why I was there—I have always longed to be here, present. 

Much of what I've read about "calling" is that it is that "thing" we were created to do, to carry out, and that it is something we pursue, something way out ahead of us that we go after.  Much literature explores calling as being rooted in our uniqueness, inherent in who we are; yet, it is still something to move toward, as though it is forever out of reach.

What if a calling is not this elusive, distant dream or aspiration of our soul.  What if a calling is actually a prompting of the soul to awaken to our inherent capacity in this moment, right now.  I believe we are always growing and changing and transforming and becoming, that is what life is all about—striving to become the best versions of ourselves; little by little, day by day.  However, if we are overtly and solely focused on who we could be, we tend to neglect to be who we are, right now—and who we are right now is magnificent.  Sometimes we just need to be reminded of our own nobility.

That 12 year old version of myself knew this, which is why anytime I was feeling unloved/unlovable, not enough, or just plain down, I would go sit on my branch in the woods at my parents farm and immerse myself in beauty.  For when we experience true beauty we feel called—not to something out there far away from us, but to the present moment, to all that is worthy and good within us, to the glory and grace of God in our lives.

May we all seek the beauty that beckons us home.

With love,

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And so it begins

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And so it begins

Whew!  Starting a business is a whirlwind!  I've had to face fears and insecurities of my own through this process, and also recognize the ways in which I feel called to serve on a much deeper level.  And with this post, it begins ... so let's dive in!

Recently I was reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, learning about the research on shame and vulnerability and their relationship to joy and gratitude, and I found myself thinking of a few quotes from the Bahá'í Writings:

"In this day, to thank God for His bounties consisteth in possessing a radiant heart, and a soul open to the promptings of the spirit. This is the essence of thanksgiving." ~'Abdu'l-Bahá

"O My servants! Be as resigned and submissive as the earth, that from the soil of your being there may blossom the fragrant, the holy and multicolored hyacinths of My knowledge." ~Bahá'u'lláh

"Instead of complaining, they rendered thanks unto God, and amidst the darkness of their anguish they revealed naught but radiant acquiescence to His will." ~Bahá'u'lláh

After reading and calling to mind these quotes I sat back to reflect, and I looked out of the window of the plane I was in.  (I happened to be flying from California to Colorado after a whirlwind trip to work with two clients and present my Master's research on interfaith dialogue at a conference on immigration.)  So in that moment, I was directly above the Grand Canyon—like, crystal clear skies, perfect fall day, Grand Canyon.  Now, I've never seen the Grand Canyon before, never on a flight or in person, and in that moment I was breathless, choked up even.  It was stunning.  Here was this physical manifestation of beauty that comes from being "resigned and submissive", the water carved through this land creating vast cracks in an otherwise flat(ish) vista, and in its submissiveness it's beauty was born.  As an artist you'd think I would have whipped out my camera and taken a few shots out of the window.  In that moment, my prerogative wasn't to act as photographer, it was to simply allow myself to be taken on the journey the landscape beckoned me toward.  To quote one of my favorite movies (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 2013), "If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it", for "Beautiful things don't ask for attention."

If only I can continually recall that moment, how being "open to the promptings of the spirit" is much like the water flowing through the channel created out of "radiant acquiescence"—oh the joy felt in gratitude, the power cultivated in submission!  I was reminded of why I am doing the work I am doing, it is that feeling of returning home within one's self, the kind of homecoming that is only possible thru an encounter with true beauty.

So that is what I am here to support you in, returning home, to your center, thru beauty.  Whether through a specific program—Brand Your Beauty and Shape Your Sanctuary—or through customized artwork and prints—Radiant Creation and the Shop—it all centers around supporting you to come home within yourself through an encounter with beauty—the beauty within and surrounding you.

Ever in service,

Since I didn't take a photo of the Grand Canyon, here is a photo of a rose in the morning dew.

Since I didn't take a photo of the Grand Canyon, here is a photo of a rose in the morning dew.

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