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Your Secret

If only you acknowledged how far you have come,

How many lives you have lived and changed.

If only you understood your power,

Your endless ability to offer something unexpected,

To the world and to yourself.

You are not stuck or held down by your past,

And when you see what everyone else sees in you,

you’ll never worry or be trapped by fear again.

You’ll see life for what it truly is…

Your beautiful transformation…

in progress.

Penelope Cruz

25 Things Every Woman Needs To Know

-Brenda Della Casa

You are not responsible for the things your parents did or did not say to you, do for you, or teach you. You are, however, responsible for everything you say, do and show others. Drunk or sober, angry or joyful, sincere or not.

Sometimes you “win” by just deciding to stop talking, get up and go.

You have things about you that are drop-dead, oh-my-heavens-look-at-her amazing.

Just because she is pretty doesn’t mean you’re not. Just because she has met someone doesn’t mean you won’t.  Turn that jealousy into inspiration and watch your life blossom.

Any girl can achieve “Hot”  with makeup, a blowout, a short dress and heels. Witty, charming, self-respecting, elegant and drop-dead smart?  That’s gorgeous.

There’s plenty of good guys out there. If a man gives you anxiety, excuses, a reason not to believe him or anything that requires a prescription, he needs to be out of your life.

Having a relationship is not the goal.  Having a healthy, happy and loving relationship (with yourself and then someone else) is.

There’s never a reason to be a mean girl.  You’re an intelligent, compassionate and professional woman. Carry yourself like one and surround yourself with women who think catty is best reserved for Lindsay Lohan movies.

When it comes to your relationships, spend more time than money, give more compliments than criticisms, and for goodness sake, flash your manners.

A negative imagination is a dangerous, destructive device. Just because they say it, or you think it, doesn’t make it true.

Men who have six packs and great biceps often  sustain themselves on a diet  consisting of chicken and eggs and will choose the gym over date night with you.  Remember that.

It’s OK to be ambitious, but ruthless?  Bye, bye Rolodex.

Everyone wants to feel needed, no one wants to deal with needy.

You want to be a boss? Take care of your business.

Don’t spend your time trying to date a baller. Spend it working to become a baller.She who dates a man for money should not complain when he treats her poorly.  How do you treat that sweater you bought three years ago?

Urban Decay eyeshadow primer, Bye Bye Under Eye concealer and Nars bronzer will give you an about face.

It’s OK to like sex.  If you have it with a man who has not shown you that he respects, loves you, or wants to date you before having it, don’t expect having sex with him to change your status quo.

The only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to them.

Just because you ignore it doesn’t make it go away, and just because you rationalize it doesn’t make it right, and just because you want him doesn’t make him right for you.

Men who want to be with you will contact you consistently and respectfully.  Men who do not will not. Pretty simple.

Karma is really cause-and-effect.  Change your actions, reactions and the way you put yourself out there and you’ll change the way the world responds to you.

Love means different things to different people. When you say “I Love You”, you are taking responsibility for your actions and suggesting you will care about another person and their feelings. If they love you like they love hot dogs and songs on their playlist, that’s not going to do much for you long-term.

Happiness may not always be as easy as making a choice to be happy, but we always have a choice as to how to filter situations we find ourselves in. Is it proof the universe hates us or is it just life?

Smart is sexy. Kind is beautiful.

Everything you want is out there and everything you need to achieve it is inside of you.

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Fearless and Free

Where would you go if you knew you’d never feel lonely?

What would you say if there was no judgement to fear?

What would you do if there was only passion to guide you?

With whom would lay if all that stood between you was love?

What would you say if you knew they would listen?

How would you feel if no rejection could harm you?

Why do you wait when life is for living?

When will you risk the good for the great?

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Diane von Furstenberg in her signature wrap dress, 1970s, Brenda Della Casa

10 Questions To Ask Yourself On Your Way To Happiness

Happiness is as happiness does. Read below for 10 ways to bring serenity now!  Ok, maybe not right this instant, but soon.

Do I Seek To Add Value?

One of the things I always advise my interns to do is to sit down and think about the ways they have added value to the jobs and organizations they have worked in.  No one wants to hire someone who does the bare minimum, or worse, diminishes the value of a situation.  Mindless gossip, unnecessary criticism and standing around doing nothing all subtract from a situation, even if simply pulling out the peace or productivity.

Do I Surround Myself With People Who Enhance My Life Experience?

Remember your clubbing days? You never wanted to spend your evening with the riff-raff in some sketchy club.  Why would you want to spend your life with them?

When Was The Last Time I Learned/Tried Something New?

It sounds like a silly cliché, but knowledge does give you an edge–in conversations, the boardroom, and on dates when the table you booked won’t be available for the rest of the night.  Be warned, there’s a caveat: You have to actually use the information you acquire to your greatest advantage.  Learning a new word each day is only effective when you use these words to create a better daily vocabulary, and since anxiety and fear are based on uncertainty and ignorance, hello reason to research!

What Influence Do I Have On My Own Life?

People-pleasing lecture aside, the days of your life won’t always be enjoyable, but if your life would call you a hater, it’s time to make some changes.  You won’t always want to do what your friends, family members or partner want you to do and your best friend may be really against a life decision, but unless you are doing something truly destructive or disrespectful, there’s zero reason for guilt (or guilt trips).  Sit down and think about the life you would be living if you didn’t have to worry about being judged.  That’s what you need to work towards.

 Do I Get Swayed By Emotion or Stick To The Facts?

Feelings are notoriously misleading, but facts, while not always candy-coated, are reliable.  I have found that the only time people get angry when faced with them are when they feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed or are trying to get something over on me.

Am I Impulsive?

Just because you are being offered something you want or will enjoy does not mean you should “reach out and grab it” the second it appears.  That “once in a lifetime opportunity” will likely not evaporate in the 24-48 hours (or longer for bigger decisions) you need to sit and think more about it.  I mean, if Enrique Iglesias calls you and asks you to go on tour, fine, consider going on leave, but signing contracts, rushing to their door to profess your undying love and moving house last-minute are worth some pillow time. Bottom Line: Follow your heart, use your head.

Do I Own My Behavior Or Judge It?

OK, you said you would go to the gym.  You didn’t.  You went to have margaritas and nachos with your friends instead.  Congratulations, you now have a memory and maybe a hangover.  Accept that most of us do what we want to do and that on the nights toning is more important to you than tacos, you’ll swipe your gym card.

Can People Count On Me?

Do you say what you mean, do what you say, and are you where you say you will  be( and fully present) when you’re supposed to be there?

 Am I Appreciative?

That dog that annoys you every morning when he needs to go out greets you with love and forgiveness every time you open the door.  That coworker who takes time out of his or her day to read over your email or grab you a water, they don’t have to, you know?  That friend who spends three hours on Gchat helping you deal with a guy situation?  That’s a gift.

Is It Really That Important?

That sink will get fixed.  That email was not that serious. Your boss is human. Everyone’s job is stressful.  Your jeans will fit again. Now what?

(Photo: Diane von Furstenberg in her signature wrap dress, 1970s . Pinterest)

Freedom

Oh, the joy of letting go.

Relish the feeling that comes with living in the moment, of accepting what is instead of pushing back against reality with what could be.

To know where you stand (in the moment you are in) is the best way to move into the moment you ache to experience.  We must perfect crawling before we can walk.  We must learn to put one foot in front of the other before we can run.  We must train and learn to breathe before we can go the distance.

It’s not always about beating the clock.

Remind me when I forget.

To You. Be Kind.

You’re such an incredible source of light and love, even when you don’t show it.

You’re a precious and irreplaceable part of this world, even when you don’t know it.

You walk around with everything you need to take the first step towards the life you dream of living, even when you feel like you have nothing at all.

You are loved, even when you feel alone.

You are admired, even when you feel no one can see you.

You are desired, even when you feel unwanted.

You are not only blessed-but also a blessing–even when you feel cursed.

You are perfect, even when flawed.

You are something truly beautiful, even when you don’t acknowledge it.

I truly value you, even though we’ve never met.

It’s True

There will be those who recognize your gifts, those who can’t see them, and those who will devalue them.  The important thing to remember is that these gifts exist, regardless of the reactions of others.

There’s a wealth of wisdom and inspiration inside of you.  Once you accept that you already have everything you need, your life will start to blossom in ways you cannot imagine.

Right now, you have at least one very good reason to be happy.

The only thing you can do is be your best self and know that you gave it your best shot.  Everything else is out of your control.

Your view of the world is based on your view of yourself.

It’s important to let loved ones know when you think of them.  I just went to church and prayed for a few friends and made sure they all knew it by sending them a text.  It’s silly (and my friends think I am mushy) but having lost so many I loved, I know that if I were to go tomorrow, those I care for will know I loved them deeply and thought of them daily. That’s more important to me than anything else.

Most of what we “guess” to be true is wrong.

What you put it out into the world comes back to you.  If you growl at those around you, they’ll growl back.  Show kindness and kind people will flock to you.

The only way to know what someone else is thinking or what they mean is to ask them.

We cannot expect to move forward if we are dragging around baggage or people who won’t get up and use their two feet to move forward.

Showing class, self respect, kindness and dignity is something we should always be proud of. How people choose to behave isn’t your concern. That said, if they can’t appreciate or respect you, disengage.

Not everyone wants to live to a higher standard or enjoy a better life.  If you do, go and do the work to get the things, lifestyle and relationships you want.

When we work, we get what we deserve.  If we spend our energy pushing others away, we will wind up alone.  If we work to build solid, healthy relationships, we will be surrounded by love.  If we sit and complain that we aren’t successful, we’ll get a batch of missed opportunities.  You get the idea.

You’re something precious and lovely to this world.  There is a light inside of you that may have dimmed or needs to be ignited, but it is there.  Go ahead, shine.

Imagine

Being loved for who you are, flaws and all.

Not having to fear the truth.

Being kind to yourself, even when you disappoint yourself.

Not personalizing the projections of others.

Laughing without ever worrying about the snort.

Kissing without worrying about your breath.

Loving without worrying about getting hurt.

Giving others the benefit of the doubt.

Having people in your life who offer you the same respect.

Appreciating trust enough to respect it and be grateful for it.

Knowing that you can trust the people in your life.

Not placing your life on hold for anyone.

What might a life like that feel like?

Your Secret is Out

It may be that we have not spoken for some time.

It may be that we have never met at all.

But I know your secret.

I know what it is that you want most in life.

The reason I smile at least a dozen times a day.

You want to be fulfilled.

You want to be successful.

You want to be loved.

You want many things, but strip them down and you’ll find that what you really want in life is one simple thing: You want to be happy.

Most people do.

Most people aren’t.

Well, at least not most of the time.

Why is that?

If we were all to closely at our lives, most of us would find that we have at least a few solid reasons to feel good. If you have a job and you make money to cover your bills (even if barely doing so) that’s a reason to smile.

If you have love & friendship in your life, that’s another.

Sinking your teeth into the flesh of a ripe peach should move your lips upwards.

Not having major health problems is enough to make you jump for joy.

Hell, being alive is often reason to be grateful.  Imagine not having a tomorrow to look forward to.

I could go on and on, but no one wants me to.  Counting common blessings isn’t a favorite pastime of the modern ambitious types.  Suggesting one thanks the universe for a clean bill of health  are often met with an eye-roll. Until, of course, one gets sick or breaks a hip.

That’s when the “a-ha” moment comes and we start feeding into the “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone” cliché.

But why?

Why is it that happiness eludes us when we have so many reasons to be happy?

Maybe it is because our expectations of what happiness should feel like are too high. 

Maybe it is because we don’t understand that happiness is found in moments and moments are fleeting.

It’s quite possible that many of us have not yet realized that happiness is a choice. Yes, a choice. The truth is that there are usually two forks in every road. There’s always a darkness to balance the light. The love in your life may include fights and disappointments. The career you love may not move forward as quickly as you’d like for it to. That peach may make your hands sticky.

We choose what to pluck out of each episode. We decide what we will focus on.

What we meditate on becomes our mantra.

Our mantra serves as a guide into a particular direction. 

Telling yourself that there is “no way” to achieve your goals, that you will “never” have this or that or that you “are who you are” and “cannot change” is like pressing the gas pedal of a car headed to nowhere.  Each negative thought increases your speed and makes identifying exits and making quick turns (to seize opportunities) more difficult.

Take it easy.  Take it slow.  Be grateful for what you have and use it to get what you want.  The truth is that what is in your life can all be used to increase your happiness.  Nothing works against you unless you allow it to.

Ten Things That Make Me Happy:

- The way Tony Montana greets me when I wake up/walk through the door. All bad days become good days when I see that little guy.

- Spending time with my loved ones. I am blessed.

- Laying by the ocean.

- Writing.

- A good workout. When I overcome a physical challenge, I feel strong and healthy.

- Cooking.

- Travel. I love to see new places and visit favorite locales (London is calling…)

- Doing something to make someone else happy.

- Living up to my own standards (Not something I do every day).

What Makes You Happy?

Six Little Ideas That Might Change Everything

You can’t expect yourself to stand tall, stay strong and carry on if you don’t actually believe things can get better.  Positive thinking isn’t just peppy sunshine language, it’s a side-effect of knowing that all things come to an end, even “hard” times.

When someone wants to be with you, they will be with you.  They will fight for you, call you, write you.  They will apologize and do what they need to do to make things right with you.  They will come after you.  Chasing someone to get them to chase you is a waste of time and devalues all of the things that make you, well, chase-worthy!

Asking the Universe/God/Spirit Guides/ Allah to “help” you is one thing.  But there’s a good chance you’ll get a bigger boost by asking to be “helped along”.  Just as you couldn’t expect someone else to pedal for you as you learned to ride a bike, you’ll need to do most of the work (or at least half) if you expect to get where it is that you want to go.  So, the next time you ask for help, ask yourself, “what efforts am I putting into this beyond asking for help?”

If you knew that the person you loved would be gone tomorrow, how would you have handled things differently today?  It sounds morbid but death is a fact of life and when someone we love dies, we spend most of the time thinking about what we would like to have done differently.  Avoid that kind of regret by not allowing pettiness and unimportant things cause friction and waste time that is better spent enjoying one another.

If it is true that people treat you the way you treat yourself, how might treating yourself better change your relationships and the way the world interacts with you?

There’s a very good chance that you’re on your path and well on your way to where it is that you want to go.  Just keep moving along.

5 Things That Are Holding You Back Right Now

Clutter:  Wasted time aside (hello, where is that shoe?) disorganization keeps the mind in a constant state of stress.  Clean space, peaceful mind.  If cleaning everything at once is too much, break it down.  Set aside 15 minutes a day to organize your space and promise to throw away at least one bag of trash every single day until it’s done.  Trust me, you don’t need those jeans from college or those cards from your ex.

Hopes of Someone Changing:  They will or they won’t, but placing your life on hold in the hopes that someone will have an epiphany isn’t romantic or kind, it’s stealing moments from yourself.

Lies About Yourself:  Maybe you think you’re “too old” to go after that dream of yours.  Or maybe you worry that you’ll never find anyone to love you now that you are divorced.  Maybe you believe that you aren’t as smart, funny, lovable, gorgeous as you are. Whatever it is, it’s time to face the truth and get moving on with your life.  If you don’t know where to start, seek out the help of a trusted friend or therapist to help clear things up for you.  Another tip, write down the compliments given to you by friends, lovers, loved ones and strangers and resist the urge to deflect them.  It’s rude.

Bad Manners:  Speaking of rude, few things turn people off worse than poor manners.  Not knowing which fork to use is not blacklist worthy, but not showing respect,  support, saying “thank you” or giving someone eye contact are all great ways to have people avoiding you.

Nasty Language:  It doesn’t sound “tough”, it sounds uneducated at best (trashy at worst!)

VogueHappiness

25 Ways to Live a Happier Life

As much as you might want to change someone else, you can’t.  That said, it’s important not to buy into the idea that we cannot change ourselves because we can. Take  in the whole lesson in that sentence.  This means that other people can change.  Out goes that whole “Zebra/Stripe” theory.

Living in sync with your value system is commendable (and don’t allow anyone else to convince you otherwise). Still,  it’s important to do a temperature check every so often to make sure that you’re not holding onto ideals and values that no longer fit your life. Doing so isn’t honorable, it’s inflexible and limiting.

Appreciate those men and women who come into your life but do your best not to  try and force them to stay longer than they want to. The tighter your grip, the harder they will try to pull away.

It’s not always easy to let go of toxic relationships (especially if you have invested a lot of time in them).  Still, sipping poison every day will slowly kill your chances of living your best life.

Treat those around you like valuable human beings.  Show a little compassion, listen intently, and give to those around you.  You don’t realize it now but those little gifts work like pebbles in the ocean and create ripples in the universe.

Do what you love as often as you can, even if you cannot do it full-time.

Clean up your mental and physical space.

Look in the mirror and get to know the person staring back at you. Instead of pointing out his or her flaws, give them props for making it this far.

Make time for those people who ask you to spend some time with them.

Live with honor.  There’s a lot to be said for a person who does what he or she says they will do with dignity.

Watch the sun rise. Play in the water. Walk barefoot in the sand. Eat a S’more. Marvel at a bonfire.

Realize that you have a choice in every situation.  You’re rarely at the mercy of someone else.

Hold yourself to a higher standard.

Understand that most of the time, it’s not personal.

Find reasons to laugh.

Cook something. Better yet, cook something for someone.

Find a way to give something to a stranger. Pay it forward a little.

Never miss out on something or someone wonderful because you’re ego convinced you to.

Always find a way to try something new.

Love with great enthusiasm (but know that love often includes pain).

Sit down and take it all in, just don’t allow yourself to get stuck.

Treat people as you would hope they would treat you, even when they don’t.

Look at flowers.  They are truly miracles of nature.

Remember all of the wonderful experiences you have had.

Instead of dwelling on what you don’t have, be grateful. You’re alive. Do something with your time here.