• Your Self-Confidence is Sexy

    Date: 2014.11.23 | Category: Sweet Talk | Response: 0

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    1st date

    Before last week, I hadn’t seen my friend Liz in at least five months. It was summertime, and after weeks of persistent emails and calling, I’d finally convinced her to meet me for tea. I missed seeing my friend and wanted more time with her, but I knew I was lucky to see her at all back then. In the aftermath of a nasty divorce, she’d tightened her circle of friends and all but shut down her social calendar. The heaviness in her voice and her listless demeanor were explanation enough.

    Mostly, we sat in silence at the café, and when I inquired about her plans in this new stage of her life, Liz told me in a whisper that she’d only ever been with James, her husband, and that she had no idea where to begin rebuilding her life. “I never thought I’d be that woman,” she said, “alone, sad and no plans.” She said James had made all of their plans in the past. It would take Liz a few more months before she allowed herself to see friends again and reclaim her happiness, and once she did, the changes were unmistakable. We saw each other at a concert on Saturday, and she was radiant.

    I noticed her unmistakably copper curls bobbing near the front of the stage and I got her attention. She was dancing—from the inside out—and she waved me over.

    What I could gather from our conversation in the noisy club was that Liz had been in survival mode since the divorce and had chosen to make a point of letting go of any reluctance to forge a new life on her own. “Screw it!” she mouthed over the noise. “I’m single now … and I am moving on!” She wiggled her hips playfully, determined to dance at any chance she got.

    I noticed men noticing Liz as we mouthed to each other over the music, and being caught in her current of confidence felt like a complete 180° from where she’d been just months before. It wasn’t that she’d become a different person since I last saw her, or that she was attempting to impress the crowd. She said she found the concert listing online and made the last-minute decision to check it out on her own. It was by chance that we ran into each other, and that was unlike the Liz of the past who wouldn’t think of leaving home without an agenda and a small group of friends in tow. She wasn’t overly made up yet she was electric in her jeans and faded T-shirt. My friend had changed.

    Seeing Liz in the wake of divorce and, later, at the concert, couldn’t have been any more of a contrast. The former was devastated at the prospect of life without a man or a ‘rescuer,’ as she put it, while the latter, this current Liz, was a man magnet, fully present in herself and happily oblivious to the heads she was turning.

    “It was always drummed into me that I needed a man to be complete,” she told me later. “For a long time, even when I was married and believed I was happy, I still had that creeping fear that he’d leave. Even with him, or any man, really, there was always some part of me that was afraid to be alone.” That was the gist of our conversation in the summer, and judging by the radiant looks of her just last week, she’d all but conquered that fear.

    Whatever Liz had been doing was working. She was glowing and relaxed in her body in a way I can’t recall her being in all the years I’d known her. It was attractive and infectious; she was on to something. The emergent woman in front of me was self-confident; and it was sexy all over—to me and to most of the men in the room. It’s what made all the difference.

    Here are s few reasons why self-confidence is so sexy.

    Self-confidence is attractive. There have been countless studies done on what attracts us to each other, and while we might not always agree on what that is, one thing’s certain: we go where we feel pulled. And people with magnetic energy do the pulling. We’re not talking about charm here, necessarily. Self-confidence doesn’t need to schmooze or manipulate, because it broadcasts a person’s full-on acceptance of who they are without trying. Self-confidence says, “I accept myself on every level” and invites us all to do the same.

    Self-confidence is complete. Without needing to explain itself or ask for permission to take up space in a room, self-confidence means you’re good enough as you are. My friend Liz—and, let’s face it, lots of us—believed she wasn’t complete unless she had someone by her side to validate, support and ‘save’ her. It’s what led her to face her life from a limited perspective. Given that mindset, no matter what she did, she believed she’d always be lacking. Fortunately, she gained the confidence that enabled her to unlearn the old story. She realized she was enough, and that she could indeed love, validate and rescue herself.

    Self-confidence is powerful. The ability to direct the course of our lives isn’t always in our hands, no matter how in-charge we believe ourselves to be. Catastrophe, surprise, drama, the weather and other people’s agendas can influence the paths we ultimately take. Having the wherewithal to harness our own inner resourcefulness is a large aspect of self-confidence because it’s what informs our response to life as it happens, as well as our engagement within it. It reassures us that we’re safe, resilient and ready for the world.

    Self-confidence is accepting. Even as our relationships may cause us to question our judgment at times, self-confidence reminds us that whatever mistakes we make, no experience or time spent is ever lost. Self-confident people accept themselves for who they are—flaws and all. Self-confidence gives us room enough to rise from the ashes and take those lessons with us into flight. When we accept ourselves as my friend Liz ultimately did, it opens our ability to have compassion for our own struggles and the struggles of others. It softens our edges, ignites our ability to forgive and unleashes our capacity to love deeply.

    “A great figure or physique is nice, but it’s self-confidence that makes someone really sexy.” The actress Vivica Fox said it and she’s right. When we have confidence in who we are, we rescue ourselves and drop the need to be saved by anybody else. Self-confidence is love in action, and it takes on a life of its own when we embrace it. All it asks is room enough to dance.

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  • Belonging: My Kind of People

    Date: 2014.11.13 | Category: Sweet Talk | Response: 0

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    peas in a pod

    A few weeks ago, I attended a qigong (CHEE-gong) training intensive in Utah. It’s an ancient Eastern practice of harmonizing the body’s energy for overall health and wellness. Dozens of us came from across the country to train for three days in a crowded room with Teacher Li. As he called the movements, we went quietly to work, undulating in silent waves through the room. We’d internalized the rhythm; we knew the meaning behind the flow; we were one. But whenever I paid too much attention to my form, and to ‘getting it right,’ I fell out of synch with the group and either went left when they went right, or I knocked into the person next to me with a wayward limb. Despite my attempts to ‘flow like water’ and ‘be light like smoke’ I had moments of going rigid, and it frustrated me.
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  • What’s your super power?

    Date: 2014.10.30 | Category: Sweet Talk | Response: 0

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    super heroine

    I have a thing about superheroes. It’s the masks I don’t get. Whenever there’s a crisis, the hero, generally masquerading as a less-than-ordinary working stiff, slips off to the broom closet to magically reappear in a cape and a mask with the strength to save the day, and in some episodes, the world. Who was that masked person, we ask? All the while, they have the same build, the same voice, eyes and features of the people we work alongside and take for granted five days a week. Diana Prince flying invisible jets and pulling Steve Trevor back from the brink of death all the time? Impossible. Clark Kent—that bungling journalist who couldn’t never get a word in edgewise with the boss—you mean to tell me he raced backwards around the globe to set the world back on its axis last week? That’s cray.
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  • Characters

    Date: 2014.10.30 | Category: Sweet Talk | Response: 0

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    director's chair; filming equipment

    One thing we cover in writing class is that in order to build strong characters, they must be complex, believable and, sometimes, the slightest bit unbelievable too. Good characters, we learn, must also do things out of character on occasion. Maybe that means they make a big purchase, love the wrong people, or pursue exactly the wrong thing for reasons at first unknown. I’m talking about fictional characters, but the same holds true for us real ones too. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the past three days.

    Since Monday I’ve seen and heard tell of people making outrageous decisions, going MIA, and behaving badly without the slightest concern for consequences. And I am no exception, honey.

    My astrology-minded friends might say I’m responding to the influence of Mercury in retrograde, which is known for throwing its wrenches into our best laid plans and clear communications. To spare us all a drawn out story, let me give you the highlights: there was a thing I didn’t really want to do, but I said I would because I was available and why not. Rather than say no, I went against my gut, rallied for the cause and forged ahead anyway.

    The day that thing I’d committed to came around, I woke up late, got stuck in traffic, played phone tag for an hour, and wound up going home. I also got a $50 ticket for parking on the wrong side of the street! When I finally caught up with the people by phone and explained myself, I’d arrived at the courage to say no, apologize, and take my lumps as needed. The experience felt yucky because I don’t much care for that mealy mouth sound of indecision. I also pride myself on being reliable. Well.

    So, what’s the lesson here? Among other things, it’s to trust the intelligence of our own minds and bodies when they repeatedly tell us no; to honor what’s right for you—from the start—in order to avoid greater complications down the line. And if you just can’t get it together until the eleventh hour, be willing to look like the ass if you have to.

    Our communications will be messy sometimes. We may fail and sputter along the way, but it’s all part of the path to wherever we’re going. It won’t do us any good to push away the discomfort of our decisions—or indecision—because when we do, we reject the lesson that’s wrapped inside the fiasco. And that alone can be costly.

    Today, celestial upheaval aside, let’s do ourselves the favor of honoring the gritty truth—especially those which might cause us some discomfort. Trust me, this is the act that builds real character and aligns us to the best that’s in us!

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  • Pay it forward…and keep the change.

    Date: 2014.10.30 | Category: Sweet Talk | Response: 0

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    empty parking space

    I got called for jury duty a few weeks ago, and had to pay for one of those all-day parking lots. Turns out they didn’t need me in court, so I was able to leave within the hour. Thirteen dollars lighter, I returned to my car annoyed at the expense of time and money. Looking for a way to put a positive spin on the situation, I took the ticket from my dashboard and approached a woman who’d just pulled into the lot.
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