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If there’s anything that brings my insecurities and self-doubt up to the surface in full-force, it’s standing in front of a camera, hoping I don’t look ridiculous and completely silly.

Which is exactly how I felt last week when I got new head shots taken.

And while I think they turned out pretty awesome, I have to be honest and let you know that the entire process was incredibly nerve-racking.

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I knew the vibe I wanted the pictures to have.

I wanted them to feel fresh, friendly, bright, and approachable.

But still, I was worried my smile looked forced or my hair was doing something weird. I was worried that the photos wouldn’t turn out the way I wanted them to look. And, man, it was super stressful!

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So, if you’re about to get some new head shots taken for your business, I get how scary it can be.

Here are my tips on how to feel authentic, brave, and beautiful:

Wear what makes you feel good.

If you’re into long flowy dresses, wear that. If you’re more of a leather jacket and army boots gal, rock it. When you’re wearing what feels good to you, you’ll feel more like yourself and we can totally feel that through your photos.

Breathe.

Deep breaths. Let that oxygen in and the anxiety out. Feel your shoulders drop into a comfortable position. You’ve got this.

Think about how you want to feel.

Do you wanna feel luxurious or friendly or fierce? Channel these feelings instead of focusing on the awkwardness and fear that may be creeping in.

Be you.

Whoever you are, be that person. Don’t try to put on a facade or pretend to be someone you’re not. We want to see the real you.

Laugh.

You’re more beautiful when you’re laughing. It’s a fact. :) Plus, it loosens you up, helps you relax, and makes you feel more connected to yourself. If you’ve got a great photographer, they can totally help you with this.

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I mean, I honestly can’t say enough great things about my photographer, Evan Baker.

He made me feel confident, relaxed, and like I could be myself in front of the camera, which is exactly what I needed. Those pictures of me with a huge smile? That’s all him making me laugh.

And when I saw the first few glimpses of my photos, I knew he captured the vibe I wanted perfectly.

But he’s not only a super awesome photographer – he’s also a musician with his work featured in ads for Michael Kors, CBSnews.com, and H&M. His songs are gorgeous and you can listen to them here. So cool!

Since I’m such a huge fan of Evan and his work, I’d love for us to support him and all his creative ventures.

Last month Evan launched his very own Patreon campaign. Here’s a video of him explaining what Patreon is and how it works (click play)…beard and all. 

Here’s the short version:

He creates content regularly (original music, photos, graphic design, and more…).  He’ll be posting all of it on his Patreon page, all in one convenient spot.  If you like his work, you can subscribe to his page, and thus, become his “Patron”.  

Here’s a handy list of all of the places you can find Evan and his work online:

Patreon: www.patreon.com/evan_b_media

Facebook: www.facebook.com/evan.b.media

Twitter: @Evan_B_Media

Photography: www.evanbakerphotography.com

Let’s show Evan some love and kudos for creating and sharing such amazing art with us!

(And if you’re ever in San Jose, CA, definitely hire Evan to take some gorgeous photos of you!)


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Feel overwhelmed? Try this.

by Ashley on January 23, 2015 · 0 comments

Hello, hello! We’re wrapping up this week of super awesome guest posts with one from my friend, Raphaelle. She is a Pilates and mindfulness teacher who believes every woman should live peacefully and passionately. Today Raphaelle is sharing her best strategies on how to deal with feelings of overwhelm and integrate them into a mindful, peaceful frame of mind. I know you’re gonna love this!

overwhelmed

We all know what it feels like: that tight, constricting veil of self-doubt and fear that colors everything we do with the panic of ‘not enough’.

There’s not enough time to finish this project.

I’m not skilled enough. I’m not efficient enough. I’m not peaceful enough. I don’t meditate enough.

There’s not enough love; I’m not lovable enough to receive it. It will all go to others.

We may feel overwhelmed at work, pushing through our to-do list and managing our colleagues and bosses’ demands, real or imagined. As an entrepreneur, we feel overwhelmed by clients, or the lack thereof. We rush through our daily tasks in case we’ll look up one day and all of our clients will have gone to other coaches because, as the scared, overwhelmed part of us keeps repeating, there’s not enough.

Does that seem like a fun way to live? I thought not. And yet, almost all of us experience overwhelm to a varying degree. I’ve found that rigidity is the best clue to identify feelings of overwhelm.

This rigidity can manifest itself in different ways. Perhaps we are physically rigid: we hunch forward at our desks, with our necks twisted in front of our spines and our heads peeking out like we’re a turtle, hiding behind our shells. Or perhaps we are mentally rigid: we continually run over every single item we’ll have to get done in our heads, even as we’re accomplishing an important task. We pay attention to the future and rehash past moments, judging ourselves for mistakes real or imagined.

Sometimes, we are even rigid with our schedules and our sense of time; we don’t allow interruptions, we panic if traffic is heavy, we cut short on bathroom breaks or even stretching out a sore back until we’ve reached a certain point on the to-do list. None of this makes us more efficient. But it certainly makes us more stressed, inviting yet more rigidity into our lives as we attempt to control and manage the overwhelm.

Rigidity is not the answer to our impressions of overwhelm. They compound the problem of not enough, by adding not enough flow, ease, and space to our pre-existing feelings of lack. The solution is not to force ourselves into a mold, to micromanage our time, to deliberately forget our own needs and desires in order to ‘get more done’. The key is to acknowledge the overwhelm, and to integrate it into our minds, spirits, and souls.

How is that done? By accepting. Forgiving. Aligning. Instead of pushing the feeling away and seeking to control it through rigid behaviors, allow yourself to feel stressed and lacking. Yes, really. Allow the feeling to come. And then…

Allow it to leave.

Don’t try to cling onto the overwhelm physically, mentally, spiritually. Notice the tension in all parts of your bodies, be they physical, emotional, or mental. And once you’ve discovered tension, rigidity, overwhelm…

Let it be. Feelings leave on their own when they’re let to evolve in peace. It seems counterintuitive, I know, but when you think about it, fighting feelings of inadequacy with behaviors that invite even more feelings of inadequacy is pretty counterintuitive too.

And yet, that’s what we do every time we feel like there’s not enough and immediately start rushing, whether there’s something worth rushing for or not.

Notice the next time you are tense. Notice the not enoughs running around in your head.

Notice the way you tighten onto life when you ignore those feelings, or attempt to fight them. Notice all of that. And try letting it be.

Do you have a technique or specific words you use to integrate feelings of overwhelm?

Share them in the comments below.

unnamedA psychology student, Pilates and mindfulness teacher, and life enthusiast, Raphaelle Robidoux believes every woman should live peacefully and passionately. She works on bringing body love, time flow, and mental space to those who feel constrained by the demands of their day-to-day. For more information about Raphaelle, feel free to e-mail her at raphaelle.robidoux@hotmail.com .

 

[photo credit: infiniteache]


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Happy Thursday, friends! I’ve got another super awesome guest post to share with you, from my friend, Laine Hodges. Lainie is a performance and career coach for athletes and today she’s sharing her trick play to stop painful memories from doing reps in your mind.  If you want to make your mark and create your legacy, on or off the field, you’re gonna love this!

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As a performance coach, I help athletes harness the power of their mental game so they can perform at their peak more often. To best serve my clients’ growth, I incorporate improvisation skills into my practice. You may be thinking, “athletics and improv? How does that help?” I promise, there is a method to my madness.

In athletics and in life, we are constantly improvising, meaning we make it up as we go along using what we have to create what we can.

When you wake up in the morning, you are not handed a script with your lines for the day and while you may have a schedule to adhere to and tasks to manage, you still get to decide how you will show up in each moment. The ability to intentionally use improvisation skills in any circumstance allows you to effectively respond to the situations you may find yourself in, whether you anticipated them or not.

What happens to you is not your choice. How you respond to it is.

By now, you’ve likely seen the on-sides kick heard round the world in the NFC Championship game. Green Bay tight end, Brandon Bostick, went up for the ball only to miss and deflect it towards Seattle wide receiver Chris Mathews. It was a pivotal point; followed by the eventual Seahawks OT win. On the surface, it looked like Bostick didn’t do the one thing he was supposed to do on that play, which was catch the ball, and he became the goat of the game to many. What we’ve learned since Sunday is that Bostick was actually supposed to block on the play, allowing his teammate, Jordy Nelson, to catch the ball. Bostick thought he had a play on the ball and decided to improvise in the moment by going for it. His improvisation didn’t work out and the sequence of events that followed sent his team home and the Seahawks to the Super Bowl. His improvisation failed.

So, what now? How do you recover from something like that?

If you are putting yourself out there and taking risks, whether it’s in a game, on the stage, or in life, you are going to make “mistakes.” You are going to “fail.” I put both words in quotations because I don’t believe in either.

I think what we label a mistake or failure is actually a lesson, one we needed to learn in order to grow. It’s part of our path.

None of us are Brandon Bostick so we will never know what lessons he may learn from this, or what his teammates may learn, but that’s not our journey to know. The truth is, any one play earlier in the game could have prevented Bostick from even being in a position to make the hard choice he did in the first place. Bostick made a bold move, he improvised, and it didn’t work out. Green Bay ended up losing the game but it was not the end of the world, just the end of a season.

If you’ve ever made a mistake or failed, what kind of energy have you given to those instances? Do you replay them in your mind like a bad movie that won’t end? Do you beat yourself up and wish things were different? What impacts do your abusive thoughts, blaming, and pining for a different outcome have on changing what happened? None whatsoever. What happened happened. It is what it is. It’s not going to change no matter how much pain you put yourself through wishing it would. So, for how long are you going to beat yourself up about it? Is that serving you? I’m not saying that a time and a space to be upset isn’t appropriate. Give yourself that gift so you can process and release those emotions. Was the experience painful? Maybe. Embarrassing? Perhaps. The end of the world? Not even close. You can choose to accept what happened and move on.

It is your resistance to what happened that creates your pain and suffering, not the situation itself.

I read that Bostick suggested that if he’d just done his job and blocked, Nelson would have grabbed the ball, given GB the possession, and the game would have been over.

That would be ideal but the thing is, we can’t say with certainty that it would have played out that way. We simply don’t know that to be true. It’s any given Sunday and any given play so we can’t assume anything. Playing alternative scenarios out in your mind over and over again won’t make them come true, so be careful about giving energy to that.

The best we can do when we fail or make a mistake is to own our choices, forgive ourselves, learn the lessons, make adjustments, and move on.

Ownership. Forgiveness. Lessons. Adjustments. Forward motion. Anything else will simply drain you. To Brandon Bostick, I salute your willingness to take a risk. In the moment, you did what you thought was right, took action, and improvised, even if it didn’t work out how you wanted. At least you went for it. If only more of us could be that bold.

 

Head Shot 1Lainie Hodges is a performance and career transition coach for athletes. She educates, equips, and empowers aspiring, current, and retiring athletes to make their mark and create their legacy, on the field and off. Lainie worked with the nationally ranked George Washington HS (NY) baseball program and the Abraham Lincoln HS (NY) basketball and football programs. She also served in the NFL Player Engagement department, supporting players to live successful lives on and off the field.
Lainie was awarded a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in world history and culture from the University of Denver. Additionally, she studied sport counseling at the San Diego University of Integrative Studies. Lainie is an experienced speaker with Toastmaster’s International and studied improv at the Magnet Theater in NYC. She currently trains and performs with Grafenberg Productions in Denver, CO.
[photo credit: casadequeso]

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We Are What We Think

by Ashley on January 21, 2015 · 2 comments

Hi, friends! I’ve got another super awesome guest post to share with you today while I’m soaking up the sun in California! My friend, Sarah Lambert, helps women love themselves fully, get clear on what they really want, and bring their dreams to life over on her blog, The Laughing Medusa. Sarah is brilliant and I can’t wait to share this post with you. Keep reading to learn why (and how) we are what we think!

we are what we think

What you think you become. What you feel you attract. What you imagine you create.” – Buddha

If on a cellular level, we are what we eat, then on an existential and metaphysical level, we are what we think.

Our thoughts shape who we think we are, what we think is possible, and how we perceive the world around us. On a fundamental level, our thoughts create our reality.

The good news is that you aren’t stuck with the same old thoughts you’ve been thinking for as long as you can remember. We all know that we have a choice about what food we eat, but you might not realize that you also get to choose the thoughts that you think.

Most of us have been thinking the same fearful thoughts for so long that we’re unconscious of even thinking of them. They’ve become completely ingrained in our minds and we just accept them as facts.

We allow these thoughts to loop through our heads without thinking about where they came from or how they’re impacting us. In essence, we’re letting our inner critics rule the show.

But rather than pushing that voice aside and hoping it will go away, when we name our fears we can look at them objectively. We can begin to notice evidence that runs contrary to what we’ve been telling ourselves. We can interrupt our fearful thoughtful patterns when we notice them emerge.

Sit down with a journal or a piece of paper and without judging yourself, start making a list of your fears. When you imagine creating your super awesome life, what does your inner critic say to push you down? What are your fears around money, health, your career, and relationships? Try to get every limiting belief, every piece of negative self-talk, and every unspoken worry onto paper.

When you’ve finished writing, spend a few minutes taking a careful look over your list. What patterns do you see? What threads do your fears have in common? Distill these down to your 2-3 core fears.

The power of this exercise is that you can now notice when these thoughts emerge. You can begin to think about where they’ve come from and build up evidence to the contrary.

And rather than simply accepting them when they pop up, you can begin to replace your fearful thoughts with new, loving ones.

Spend a few minutes thinking of an affirmation that could begin to replace the fearful thoughts that have been looping in your mind. Pick short, snappy statements that affirms a positive belief, like “Every day, in every way I am getting better and better” or “I am enough just as I am.”

When you notice a fearful thought emerge, make the choice to shift gears and think something else. Even if you don’t believe it at first, the decision to not get mired down in fear and anxiety will begin to create positive shifts.

We can’t just think our way to a super awesome life – we have to take action to fully reap the benefits. But when our thoughts are creating a fearful existence and keeping us stuck in a cycle of self-loathing, the power of choosing a different thought is empowering. The world opens up, what we see as possible begins to expand, and soon we begin to see that our dreams are a lot closer than we thought. Because, after all, we are what we think.

 

sarah-bio-picSarah Lambert is a Canadian expat who packed her bags and moved across the Atlantic to London, England in pursuit of her dreams.

She’s a writer who helps women love themselves fully, get clear on what they really want, and bring their dreams to life. On her website, The Laughing Medusa, she shows that life is the cumulative story of the choices you make, so she advocates for making big, bold, sparkly choices.

Her e-course Romance Yourself is a 40-day journey to self-love is a daily practice and choose-your-own-adventure guide to loving yourself. It’s a guiding hand, encouraging voice, and kick in the ass that will jump start your self-love journey.

Sarah wants to help you define your dreams and design a life you love.

[photo credit: redbettyblack]


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What to do when you lose your willpower

by Ashley on January 20, 2015 · 0 comments

Hi, friends! I’ve got a super awesome guest post to share with you today! My friend, Jessie Lucas, teaches women how to change their relationship with exercise so they can discover an energetic life with results they love. Today she’s sharing her best tips on what to do when you lose your willpower, which is totally something we all struggle with from time to time. Keep reading to find out what the driving force is that can keep you going!

What do you do when you lose your

It’s mid January. Some of you have made New Years resolutions to be healthier, to exercise, eat right, or make more time for self-care. You know you should exercise. You have big plans for this year in your personal and professional life and you know that a healthier body will support you in all areas of your life. You know that you will be happier and more productive with a healthy body. And then reality struck. Maybe you also realized that January, for all intents and purposes is a lot like December, or that this January is much like one’s before. You have great intentions, you know you want to feel healthier, more fit and energized. So what happens?

Certain times in our life conjure up higher amounts of willpower. The beginning of a new year is one of these times. When you have a health crisis, or witness someone you love go through one, or it could be a particular birthday, or setting a particular goal, whatever the trigger is, it gives you that boost we need to poke your head above the clouds of your day to day life, tap into your motivation, and commit to doing something.

You say, this is the year I will (fill in the blank).

Then about two weeks later you notice how difficult it is, or that it doesn’t look or feel like you thought it would, or should. Some life event happens to throw you off track, your schedule gets busy, you get a cold and decide rest is best, a myriad of occurrences show up to pull you away from your commitment to your new healthy life.

This is pretty standard routine for routine re-setting.

Of course these things occur, you haven’t created a new habit yet, so the path is unfamiliar, there are bumps in the road. So what exactly is that bit of magic that sets you back on the course of your choice and keeps you there, rather than throwing you back into your old habits?

Well, some say it is willpower. There is definitely something to that.

According to Merriam-Webster will power is “the ability to control yourself : strong determination that allows you to do something difficult (such as to lose weight or quit smoking)”.

Yes, making a change, however subtle or significant usually takes making a definite decision, it takes control and determination. The thing is, control is usually a fallacy, and determination is so easily misguided. The potency of control depends on where it is coming from. If it is mind over matter stuff, it sometimes can work for you, but too often the matter of your body, your being simply does not comply with the mind. Your mind is malleable, which means it is capable of change, but also means that it can be easily persuaded to go back to your old ways, that they were just find, and in fact comfortable in their familiarity.

Willpower can be a helpful tool. It can be a necessary change agent. However it usually isn’t enough. So what happens when willpower isn’t enough, and you do still deeply crave changing your life/health for the better? You need that thing that is just beyond willpower…

I just gave you a hint. It has to be a craving. It has to be a driving force. If it is just mental manipulation it will likely fall away. The good news is you can usually get to the visceral sense of craving, driving force, deep desire if you breathe enough attention and awareness into the situation.

Your resolution may start as an idea, probably a good idea. If you are truly determined to stick with it, keep turning towards your deeper why. Peel through your own layers to find out what gave you this idea, what is pulling you towards it, what is the carrot at the end of your stick?

There is a practice called the 5 whys. This process helps you get to the root of the situation. Basically for (at least) 5 layers, you ask yourself why. So lets say your goal is to “get in shape”. Ask yourself why. Whatever your answer is, ask yourself why. Lets say you answer, “so I can have more energy.” Well, why? Maybe you say, “so I can keep up with my kids.” Again, why? “Because I want to experience more joy with my family.” Why? “Because I truly believe we are meant to experience happiness together.” Why….

You get the point.

When you keep asking why, you see it isn’t really about a flat stomach, or forcing yourself into some fitness routine that you don’t love. It is about some driving force, some deeper belief, a craving. THIS is what will keep you going when willpower takes a vacation.

Life can be busy. There is a lot to pay attention to you. If you make one New Years resolution, and personally I like to set strong intentions all year long, let it be to pay closer attention to you, to your whys. These will give you the inspiration and information you need to stay on track to your happiest and healthiest year yet. Its not too late!

What are your intentions for 2015? And what are some of your whys?

In my work at Vivacious Mama I help my clients transform their lives by changing their relationship with exercise. I am an exercise coach. I help my clients develop their inner and outer strength by discovering their own unique path to their healthiest body and happiest life. As a personal trainer and yoga instructor I blend the mindful movement world with the science of fitness to help my clients achieve lasting results.

I would love to invite you to experience some of this for yourself. I know you are up to big things this year and it is not to late to get your body on board!

I am teaching a free online course called “Make Exercise No Sweat 2015” from January 22-Feb 3. (Don’t worry if you’re late to the party, I’ll catch you up!!!)

If you know you need to exercise but don’t like it or can’t find the time…
If you want more energy and are you ready to feel a real satisfaction with your body and your life…

Then please join me for this FREE experiential course.

For class details and to register go to http://bit.ly/nosweat2015events

I can’t wait to share more with you!

Jessie Lucas headshotJessie Lucas is a health and fitness expert and the founder of jessielucas.com, where she teaches women how to change their relationship with exercise so they can discover an energetic life with results they love. Specializing in techniques for energy flow and body alignment, she helps you create a blueprint for healthy living.

As a health coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, bodyworker, mom, lover of dance, sparkles, fresh air, and human kindness,and with a Master’s degree in Health Arts & Science, she has spent over 10 years helping women learn to move their bodies to release stress and become fully present in their lives.


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