3 Ways Focusing on Inner Beauty is Healthy For Your Heart

by: Zera McMahon

After battling with an eating disorder for several years I’ve learned how giving more attention to one’s own inner beauty is healthy for the human heart in several ways. Here are three main ways you’ll benefit from giving more attention to your inner beauty instead of focusing on the way you look.

1) Inner beauty is not only nurturing for your own heart, but for the hearts of others as well.

I have always felt that the two {inner beauty & the heart} are largely connected; perhaps a direct reflection of the other. One of the greatest ways to delight an empty heart or soul is with acts of gentleness
and love. Help yourself by helping other people, and be instantly rewarded with an immense sense of gratification and love. Your inner beauty will flourish with selfless acts of kindness, as this is one of the best ways to pass the love around and welcome it back with an open heart.

Within the last year, Iʼve made it a habit of reaching out to complete strangers by involving them in conversation. For example…a couple of weeks ago I was in HomeDepot trying to get a swatch of paint matched for our living room. It was late in the evening, and the lady who was helping me behind the counter was exhausted and just being a total grouch. As much as I wanted to walk away from her negative attitude, Idecided to talk to her anyway and ignore the menacing glances she was giving me. So, I set a mental challenge for myself and made it my goal to lighten her mood. I began asking her questions pertaining to work and showed compassion for all of the un-paid overtime she was putting in. Before I knew it, we were sharing stories about our families, the holiday season, and even exchanging tips on our favorite nail polishes, etc.

My plan had worked! Just from acknowledging this individual whom I had never met before and by striking up a conversation, I was able to help give her laughter and enjoyment, and improve her overall state of mind.

Not only did this lady walk away with a smile on her face, but so did I. Lets face it, the last thing I wanted to be doing at 10pm was hanging out in Home Depotʼs paint department. This challenge I set for myself gave me almost instant happiness and fulfillment. It feels incredible to have such a positive impact on another individual!

Too often we obsess about our own physical beauty, and critically measure our “beauty”against other women. The mainstream media is constantly trying to sell us illusions of the “perfect body” and lifestyle that we can achieve only if purchasing their products.

They really think we can be fooled, but I know that as women we are stronger and capable of more. We donʼt need to strive for a perfect body or prettier face. When we do this, we are not truly in touch with our inner beauty. What we genuinely need is each other. Coming together peacefully with open hearts, appreciating others (and ourselves) for more than physical appearances; that is when we create and promote inner beauty that is infectious.

The media is failing to communicate the importance of nourishing the authentic self. Instead of measuring our self worth on physical traits, genuine self worth is measured from the inside out. When you cherish and manifest your inner beauty, your physical appearance is sure to be positively influenced when your heart radiates from within.

2) You’ll discover your inspiration & creativity…

When we realize and cherish our inner beauty, we are consciously granting ourselves the permission to be open and accepting to the beauty and talents around us.

Speaking from experience, I understand that the search for that “magical something” to ignite our inspiration is not always so simple. When I find myself in a mental slump, it can be really tough to pull myself out of it. One thing I have learned though, is that the inspiration I crave will always emerge when I least expect it. This sometimes take days to happen, but when it does I am shaken out of my slump and my spirit is instantly lifted and renewed with a sense of hope.

Sometimes, deviating from my typical routine can help ʻcureʼ me of the blues. Itʼs so easy to get ourselves caught in routine, stuck in the same motions day after day. I have to almost force myself out of it at times. What I like to do when this happens is to go somewhere ʻspur-of-the-momentʼ; somewhere I donʼt typically make the time to visit. I like to call these, ʻmini adventure daysʼ. This can be anything from checking out a museum downtown, taking a walk around a nature preserve to feed the ducks, treating myself to a movie (by myself), or indulging in an Oreo blizzard from Dairy Queen. These things may seem a little ridiculous, but itʼs what helps me to get outside of myself and the destructive thinking patterns.

Inspiration stimulates our heart and soul. It can be that mini miracle we need to get us back on track to creating opportunities and realizing our dreams.

3) It builds a beautiful and healthy life…

Its been said that positive attracts positive, and negative attracts negative. The same goes for people holding onto positive and negative thoughts. I am a total believer in this theory, and I have applied it as a general rule to my life, involving the people I surround myself with.

Have you ever felt completely empowered and delighted by something, only to then have that excitement be ripped away from you by someone with a negative mindset? I have definitely experienced this, and at times would find myself powerless and unable to shed myself of those negative feelings.

This is not only counteractive to strengthen your confidence and inner beauty ʻpowerhouseʼ, but is also very toxicant. After feeling depleted time and again from seeking outside approval, I decided that this
was not how I wanted to live my life and I was done with it.

This realization became my fundamental building blocks for a powerful inner beauty. Through this change in my thought process, I was able to create a mental barrier against negative energies that had previously blocked my inspiration and happiness. I made the conscious decision to choose my happiness and health, and to live my life through an authentic, and beautiful inner soul.

I donʼt believe we were intended to live our lives carelessly at the expense of others. Rather, I believe we have been gifted a heart and soul to nurture and love so that we can fulfill a truly gratifying existence.

Tip to block out the negative vibes:

Creating a mental bubble around myself is the easiest way for me to create an impervious blockade against negative vibes that are bound and determined to lower my positive energy. By establishing this kind of forcefield, you are preparing yourself to confront negativity without allowing your inner peace to be sacrificed in the process.

There is a beautiful quote by Audrie Hepburn that Iʼd like to share. Itʼs incredibly inspiring and respectful, and I feel that it reflects the pursuit of inner beauty quite perfectly….

‘For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anybody. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows.’ – Audrie Hepburn

The Inner Beauty of Healing

by: Zera McMahon

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Living with an eating disorder hardly qualifies as ‘living’ at all in my mind. It’s a torturous state of existence that torments your mind, body and soul. Anyone who is familiar with the agony of an ED, is very familiar with the privation of life surrounding them. Unfortunately it can be a lifelong battle fought only in private silence. At least that is what I have experienced during my struggle with anorexia, which began in the 7th grade.

I am now 27 years old, and sharing my story for the first time.

Before now, anorexia has been a part of my existence that I have greatly attempted to shield and draw a curtain over. It was an extremely dark and painful time in my life, and I was always so ashamed to ever reach out to anyone about it.  It wasn’t easy to admit that so much of my focus was on outer beauty and the way I wanted others to see me.

However, my experience with anorexia wasn’t JUST the desire to be skinny. Of course, I wanted to be thin…I wanted to be painfully thin,  yet the reasoning behind this disease went much deeper than the hunger to be thin, and ultimately I do feel that it could have been prevented. These deep-rooted issues encompass a range of concerns I believe many people are faced with on a daily basis, such as media, social and peer pressures. Additionally, the lack of kindness and compassion in this world also serves as a huge trigger for many.

I remember middle school being a very volatile stage growing up. School for me was never enjoyable, socially nor academically. One of my biggest struggles was feeling so inherently different from my peers. I was born with clubbed feet and musculature issues that prevented me from participating in school athletic programs, which gave students the motive to label me as ‘weird’. I desperately wanted to look beautiful, to be the A student, to be the girl who was asked to school dances, to compete in sports, etc. The list goes on. Middle school was a time when the cliques of friends were being established, girls got their periods, and school dances were unfortunately (for me) a reality! I did not have many friends and the few I did have I quickly lost to my eating disorder. Anorexia was after all, the only friend I had grown to want or need. At first, it was my little secret, and that was thrilling to me to have something no one else knew about or to my knowledge, had.

The first time I remember making the decision to restrict food was at school lunch. There was a girl who sat at the lunch table with me who thought she was doing me a favor by advising I lose just a few pounds. How kind. Since I was unable to compete in sports, I thought the quickest way for me to lose the weight I so clearly needed to lose, was to starve myself. When this vicious cycle began, I restricted my food intake to only one meal a day…dinner. I chose this one meal as dinner, because it was the one meal I ate in front of my family. Because this was my secret, it was imperative that no one find out. Mind you, while making the conscious decision to restrict my food intake, I never once considered myself anorexic. That is, until I decided to restrict my food intake even more. After a couple weeks of being on my new “diet” of eating only once a day, I had begun to lose a couple pounds. Not enough pounds, though, for anyone to take notice.

So, I ramped it up a bit and began going an entire day without any food. At home, I’d be completely panic stricken about the notion of eating dinner in front of my family. Hours in school that should have been spent studying, I spent obsessively fabricating excuses to avoid eating dinner. My family eventually caught on to my behaviors, and began using threats to get me to eat. Nonetheless, I refused my body of any food. This rapidly became my addiction, and I consistently wanted more and more. Fundamentally what I was really displaying was my desire to exist less and less. One day without food quickly doubled, and soon I was surviving off of a menial amount of food every three days. By the third day, I would feel incredibly weak and dehydrated, to the point where I would begin black out in class just sitting at my desk. This occurred more than once throughout middle school and high school. I’d have to feel my way out of the classroom and then lay on my back along the side of the hallway. When the bell would ring, it was if no one noticed me and students would rush around the hall to get to their classes, while I just laid there unable to stand up. Finally, a teacher came to get me with a wheel chair and took me to the office to phone my parents. Sometimes I wonder how different my story might have been if a random act of kindness was gifted to me on those dark days. It could’ve changed my direction and story completely.

Unfortunately, this mental and physical addition went on for years and years. I felt completely detached from my parents as they continuously buried their fears and avoided the major issue at hand. The family dynamics in my household were unbalanced, and mental abuse was a part of my day-to-day existence. I was left feeling inadequate, and without the tools to love and respect myself as an individual. Seeking constant fulfillment from my family and peers at school was my way of determining my own self-worth.

In the middle of the night during the summer of my 9th grade, by some miracle I had a sort of epiphany, and suddenly knew that if I continued to choose anorexia as the most important part of myself, then I would undoubtedly die. My life had become a pathetic state of existence, and it was in fact, really void of any life at all. Even though I was so incredibly ill both mentally and physically, I knew I had to put an end to this. I wanted anorexia to get the fuck out of me! In order to heal the fragile skeleton everyone saw me as, I had to work from the inside out, from the core of my being.

Anorexia has not only robbed five years of my life, taken my friends away when I needed them most, damaged my health to the point of near liver failure, but also robbed me of my identity. With the help of two incredible psychologists and a nutritionist, I have been able to recapture and embrace this gift of life. I feel truly blessed to have been able to separate my own mind from the death grip of the ED. Recovery from anorexia has been a long and challenging process, and will require a lifetime commitment from me. The ED is always lingering in the background, waiting to swoop in again…but I refuse to give it any power. It takes great courage to really own your life, without letting media and peer pressures dictate your self-worth.

A good friend once said to me, “acting with self-love is never selfish”. This is such a profound statement to me, because it signifies my evolution from violent self-hatred to self-love and fulfillment. This miraculous transformation has given me confidence to recognize and nurture the talent and beauty within myself rather than seeking OUTER BEAUTY.

As I’ve grown with such mindfulness, I have been able to cultivate my own passions instead of focusing on the perfect body image. As a result, I’ve learned aspects of fashion and design which I have embraced and evolved into my own business. ZERA Couture celebrates the inner beauty of women with luxurious headpieces and accessories, focusing on the adornment of the head-space inside and out. The creation of these headpieces was born from the realization that women should be revered as the strong and beautiful individuals that we positively are. This business is fueled and Inspired by my journey towards healing – and i’ve never felt more beautiful on the INSIDE because of it.

If I were to say just one thing to someone struggling with an ED, it would be this…FOCUS on your INNER BEAUTY – not on what you’ll wear or how your makeup matches up to all the tutorials you see online everyday or how your body compares to your friends. Focus on the things in this world that truly matter and offer fulfillment. If you do, you will be the most beautiful and powerful true self that you could ever hope for.

Lastly, if you know someone who is suffering with some form of addiction, don’t ignore them. Don’t allow them to sit in the hallways and feel unseen. A random act of kindness in showing that you give a damn can go a long way. Sometimes though, you don’t always know who is silently suffering with their own forms of depression and loneliness which is why being kind should become a way of life. If we all pay it forward when something kind happens for us, we have the chance to start a huge wave of change in the world. Make it part of your daily routine to do something kind for a stranger starting today. You never know what that person is going through. You may have just changed the direction of their story…

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Enough

by: Brittany Winston

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“Brittany get up, you need to go run.” This is how most of my mornings started off at 5:15am when my mother would wake me up and make me go for a run before school. On the weekends it was 5:00am to go hiking. Being a child and teenager, I would grumble in my head and be so exasperated at these early morning wakeups, but it was more than the early wakeup times that upset me.

The reason she woke me up so early everyday was so that I wouldn’t become “fat”.

I was always told that I had a predisposition to be heavy and if I didn’t “stay on top of it” I would be overweight. From the moment I hit puberty I developed hips, thighs and a booty even though I was a runner and extremely active. I was taught that my curves weren’t beautiful and that I shouldn’t want to have a big butt or hips. So much focus was on my appearance.

When I was in high school I didn’t realize the effect my “outer beauty” was having on my confidence and personality. I retreated more and more into a shell of self-doubt and low self-esteem because of my curves. I never felt that I was enough; pretty enough, thin enough, tall enough (all I was focusing on what my outer beauty traits.) And when it came to boys, it was even worse. Anytime I received any attention from a guy I always thought
to myself, “why me, what does he SEE?”

I didn’t stop to think of the other non-physical attributes and traits I had to offer someone.

I made poor decisions on how far I went with a boy because I thought it was the only way to keep him around. I told myself, “he can’t really want me. I’m not skinny and I’m not that pretty. If I don’t do this, he will leave me.”

I was constantly starving for physical attention and outer acceptance.

When I started college it got even worse because I started to get a lot of consistent attention for my outer “looks and figure”, and it hit me like a ton of bricks in the worst way. I didn’t know what was going on. I still had the internal feeling of “why me, I’m not enough.”

Yet still, I flourished in a totally superficial way.

I dated men with money and status, I partied and I made it appear as though I was thoroughly and genuinely enjoying my life. I looked happy from the outside, but I was empty and depressed on the inside. There were so many times I cried myself to sleep at night but then would go to work and school with a smile on my face pretending I was okay.

Actually, I even started losing weight because the depression stopped me from mustering up the energy to eat!

I didn’t run anymore because I associated it with punishment, I drank too much and when I did eat, I ate like crap. Plain and simple, I wasn’t happy and everywhere that I was looking for happiness was on the OUTSIDE – and it was superficial and empty, no matter how much attention I received.

Desperate for a cure to my depression, I made an abrupt move across the country and changed my surroundings entirely. But still, the depression continued to haunt me.

I considered ending my life.

But then my moment of clarity came when I realized I didn’t care what people thought about the way I LOOKED, and that my INNER BEAUTY was more than enough to deserve all this love and attention.

I realized I had a lot to love from within! I love that I have an awesome sense of humor, I’m quirky, I love to read and travel the world – and I can think of no better place to spend a warm day than outside soaking in the sun and enjoying nature. I think these are just a few of the many things that make me pretty darn amazing on the INSIDE, and that’s where it counts.

Through first mastering the art of self-acceptance and inner healing, I began to embrace, accept and LOVE my outer beauty too! Living in the south helped me appreciate my body type, so I even began to do plus size modeling! I love being a plus size model because I pray some little girl or woman will see me and realize there is more than one type of physical beauty. I hope it helps lead others to healing and loving themselves just as they are and not comparing themselves to images in magazines and billboards. It is so disheartening to see what society and media does to little girls from an early age… just like it did to me. So much is based on OUTER BEAUTY and it’s an unattainable standard of beauty and body image. It makes me want to cry.

Naturally, I still need to remind myself every now and then that there’s so much more to life than having the “perfect body.” Beauty fades and no two women are just alike on the outside anyways. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Depression has no stereotype on who it attacks. And despite working in a stereotypically “superficial industry”, I’ve learned so much about self-love and self-worth from so many women I’ve encountered.

We should all be a team and help one another to remember what’s most important in life – and that’s inner happiness and inner beauty.

“A woman’s beauty should be that of [her] inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Peter 3:4

Today, I know that I am ENOUGH. And that’s worth being alive for.

Incurable Means Curable From Within // In 5 Steps

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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Sunday’s message at church was so compelling that I had to share it with you.

Hopefully by now you can tell that I’m extremely passionate about words and thoughts of affirmation. (This is probably my 3rd entry on this very topic.) So when guest speaker Jordan Rubin began talking about how it literally saved his life and brought him back to health, I was hooked.

When Rubin was 19, he had suffered from a severe case of Crohn’s Disease, diabetes, arthritis, anemia, rapid weight loss, hair loss, and chronic fatigue, just to name a few. At six feet tall he had gone from 185 pounds down to 106 and was confined to a wheelchair for an extended period of time.

“I traveled the world trying every treatment you could think of, conventional medicine, alternative medicine. It all failed.” – Jordan Rubin

In desperate search of a drastic change, Rubin turned to God through prayer, declaration, and a radical change in diet. In record time, Rubin miraculously regained full health without the help of any medicine at all. He felt compelled to write a book about his journey (The Makers Diet Revolution), the changes he made, and even started preaching around the world about his all-natural and miraculous recovery.

But then, something unexpected happened.

He was diagnosed with cancer.

He was told that he had 0% chance of survival without immediate surgery, chemotherapy and radiation…not 1%, 0%…!!!

Rubin was confused. How could HE have cancer? Rubin had already survived life-threatening illnesses. He was eating what God wanted him to eat, preaching and helping others around the world do the same, and was becoming the face of a healthy lifestyle amongst his community. After asking himself these questions, Rubin became more determined than ever. He would not be defeated.

Here’s how Jordan Rubin claimed victory over his health in 5 steps:

1. “WHEN TRAGEDY STRIKES, GO TO GOD FIRST.” – On the day of his diagnosis, doctors told him his ‘numbers’ were at 280. (0 is normal.) They also told him that if he didn’t go into surgery immediately, it would be like committing suicide, giving him 3 months to live. You would think that after already experiencing such a rough chapter in life in his earlier years, that hearing “you have cancer” and a death sentence would trigger a frantic and discouraged response. Instead, his response was racing towards his faith. Sometimes bad things happen, and it’s awful. But we need to remember God doesn’t allow bad things to happen without a purpose. There is a reason and purpose for everything so when something bad happens, take it to God and leave it with Him to work out.

2. DON’T CLAIM THE ILLNESS. – Some people wear their ailments like a badge of honor. They accept their condition and misfortune as fact. “As a man thinks in his heart so is he…” In other words. YOUR WORDS AND THOUGHTS MATTER because thoughts put things in motion. “I have cancer” is a statement Rubin never once uttered or believed. He emphasized how you need to block out all negativity and cut it off immediately. Rubin had one doctor who spoke such negativity into his condition that he fled from his office at once. In times of crisis, there is no room for any negative energy whatsoever.

3. Take ACTION. – Faith without action is dead. You need to actively participate in your healing and clarity. Rubin committed to 40 days of cleansing his mind and spirit, which meant he had to actively remove any toxic people from his life for his cleanse. He turned off his phone, never checked social media, didn’t research cancer, and wouldn’t even correspond with doctors on a regular basis. The only time he spoke with his doctor was every two weeks when blood test results arrived (which were steadily improving without ANY medicine, by the way…) In addition, he also committed to a drastically new diet that consisted of a ‘back to the basics’ approach inspired by The Bible. Learn more about this diet here.

4. WALK IN HEALING .– Act as though you are already healed. No matter the odds that were against him, Rubin walked and talked as if he was healthy. He spoke words of abundance, prosperity, health and wellness over his life. As stated before, the word ‘cancer’ never left his lips.

5. SHARE YOUR STORY WITH SOMEONE. – On the day of his final test results, Rubin and his wife drove to the hospital to pick up the manila envelope that would contain his fate inside. The results were stunning. His numbers were ZERO. CANCER FREE. TUMOR FREE. GONE. From 280 to 0. He was a healed man! He knew then and there the last step to claiming victory was to share his story and encourage the world. He continued preaching his message on the importance of a proper diet and mindset, but this time, with way more ammunition. His message became that much more powerful due to the cancer he experienced.

These steps worked for Jordan Rubin to defeat cancer, so imagine what it can do for you and whatever it is you are facing! I believe it can work in all areas of your life, not just physical health, but also, mental health, emotional well-being, relationships, career… whatever YOU want and NEED.

(Replace the word cancer with whatever is threatening your well-being. It can be depression, addiction, loneliness, stress, insecurity, mental illness…)

Then, apply these 5 steps and watch your world transform. I pray it does.

I hope you are starting to see just how powerful you really are. The mind is a powerful thing, so start using yours with intention, affirmation and above all else, unwavering faith.

You are healed.

Waving Goodbye – 5 Things Joan Rivers Taught Me About Happiness

by: Alicia M. Blanco

2006 Gala of The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Well, Fashion Police on E! will never be the same and neither will the world. Today we lost a woman who filled a room with so much light and laughter. She was known for being a trailblazer, wild and crazy, an icon, a bit neurotic, nipped and tucked, uncensored, without a filter, uniquely hilarious… but she was also known for mastering a trait we all hope to obtain in our lives- happiness.

Over the span of her nearly five decade run in Hollywood, Joan was constantly quoted saying how genuinely HAPPY she was in her life. She was madly in love with the industry, even with all of its insanity and setbacks.

It’s important to note that she didn’t always have such a happy state of mind…

After her husband suffered from a heart attack which resulted in the depression that led to his suicide in 1987, Joan also began to feel the sting of depression when her career plummeted. E! News journalist Ken Baker shared that at one point, she candidly told him in an interview that “she seriously contemplated suicide herself and what stopped her was her Yorkie ‘Spike’—she actually had a gun and she was going to do [it] and she said the Yorkie jumped in her lap to stop her.”

Chills much? So glad I just got myself a Yorkie! (Joan would’ve wanted me to say that.)

Joan used that incredibly dark time in her life to propel her forward into happiness.

So it made me think even more deeply on what it means to be happy and ways to be happy.

Here’s what I came up with.

5 WAYS TO BE HAPPY:

1) Have a job you love – the more and more I learn about life, the more it becomes clear that people need to start doing what they love and not what ANYONE ELSE wants them to do. According to Joan, her parents “went insane” when she told them she wanted to be an actress and go into show business. Some of you are going to have to break your parents hearts tonight and tell them you’d rather do x instead of y. #sorrynotsorry but you better do it. Joan’s career lasted almost 50 years. Can you imagine doing something you hated for that long? Yet imagine the joy if its something that you passionately love. Priceless.

2) Have a best a friend – whether it’s your sibling, your roommate, or your dog – have a best friend who can always be counted on for an uplifting conversation, and a hearty laugh. Who you do life with is important. (Btw – it’s a proven fact that animals really do bring so much joy and bliss to life. Heck, Joan’s dog ‘Spike’ literally saved her life!)

3) Transparency – Joan Rivers had 16 plastic surgeries throughout her lifetime and she wasn’t shy about letting the world know it. She was blatantly honest and confident about it and everything else. All. The. Time. She also admittedly suffered from depression and contemplated suicide earlier on in her career and I think she was able to overcome her depression because of how honest she was about it. There was no pretending with her. I can’t stress enough how healing it can be to share your story rather than pretend you’re perfectly fine. Additionally, SHE DIDN’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE THOUGHT ABOUT HER OPENESS, LOOKS, OR ANTICS. And she made that perfectly loud and clear, too. Bingo.

4) Laugh. A lot. – Melissa Rivers, Joan’s daughter, said that her mother’s greatest joy in life was making people laugh. Laughter is contagious. When you put more effort into making others laugh and smile, it will always come back to you. I once heard that people who laugh more frequently live longer. I don’t know the science, but I’m willing to bet it’s true. For example, I’m not sure if you read my other blog about “The Secret”, or not, but part of The Secret talks about “laughing diseases away.” It sounds weird, I know, but one woman in the book/DVD was diagnosed with cancer, yet told herself the cancer was gone and spent months ONLY watching funny movies without taking any medicine. Within months her cancer was gone. (Cue sci-fi music.) Now, I certainy don’t recommend going without medical treatment, but you get the point…laughter is great medicine too.

5) Acknowledge Depression & Don’t Pretend You’re OK if you’re not. TALK IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM! – I know this last one may surprise you but I truly believe that success is made sweeter by the moments in life that sting a little bit. You learn to appreciate the good times when you have something to compare them to from your journey. Joan didn’t always have raging success. In fact, she had a lot of setbacks, like being fired from every job she had in the beginning of her career, suffering with bulimia, a strained relationship with her daughter Melissa, watching her husband suffer with depression and then committing suicide… I meannnnn, what a list! She recognized those dark chapters, acknowledged them for what they were, and then used those times to help others with her story. She even went on to say, “you can turn things around.” – no matter how crazy life can get…

…and her life was a living example of exactly that; a transformation with a dash of crazy – and isn’t that what life is all about?

May she rest in peace and may all that she taught the world about laughter and happiness live on forever.

(P.S. I’ll bet that Joan Rivers and Robin Williams are making God laugh together in Heaven!)

Joan Rivers | 1933 – 2014

The Secret That Changed My Life

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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It’s no secret by now that I’m a big advocate for positive affirmations. I mean just look, it’s how I begin every single blog of mine. I intended it to be that way – I want the first thing you see when you glance over at my blog to be an affirmation that I pray will manifest in your day and life!

It’s just second nature to me at this point to wake up and declare things like “today is gunna be amazing,” “I am so happy and grateful now that I have X,Y,Z” (X,Y, & Z being dream circumstances I envision for my life.) Even if I don’t presently have those things, I speak them into existence– as if they already do exist.

I do this because I firmly believe that the things you think about most and talk about most will absofrickenlutely manifest in your life at some point or another. (Even the bad thoughts!)

And I learned all of this from two places: The Bible of course and second, a book called The Secret.

A lot of people are afraid of the Bible because it seems so long, intimidating, dated, heavy, confusing bla bla bla. (I used to think all of these too by the way.) But in time I’ve learned how to read it effectively for MY life and feel so thankful that there are additional tools out there like The Secret (which comes in audiobooks, DVD and hard copy) that help people take control of their lives.

The Secret DVD also introduced the concept of vision boards to me.

Vision boards are so powerful and effective at keeping people “in check” with their thoughts. It’s when you cut out WORDS and images or print off words and images from the internet of your dream life; relationship, career, car, physique, family, EVERYTHING… and paste them onto a poster board. Very #DIY and fun!

I’m so happy that such a huge wave of vision board parties and online vision boards a la Pinterest exist in such a big way these days! Mine is right next to my bed so it’s literally the first thing I see in the morning. The second thing I see in the morning is my mirror that I’ve written positive affirmations on as well- so when I go to wash my face and brush my teeth I am forced to read things like, “you are attracting amazing people, jobs, contracts, opportunities and favor into your life,” and “you are beautiful just the way you are,” and “your dreams have come true. Congrats” LOL. Seems silly but I have evidence that this stuff really works! It’s creepy and cool!

So last night was “dress rehearsal” for the girls competing in the Miss Inner Beauty Pageant and it all came full circle to me when I saw the shirts that they will be wearing for their opening number. You guys… the cutest. The shirts were adorned with their “inner beauty” titles that they each chose for themselves!!!! WORDS that describe who they are and who they want to be.

We have “Miss Joyful” “Miss Generosity” “Miss Outgoing” “Miss Loving” etc… You get the picture! UM I JUST MELT. They are declaring these inner beauty traits for themselves!

IT IS SO POWERFUL that these young girls are clothing themselves in affirmations – words they want to speak into existence for their lives!

I couldn’t be more proud to be part of such a huge wave in the lives of each of these young ladies. I hope this brings a smile to your face and encourages you to take control of your thoughts TODAY, speak positively and expect the best for your life.

One positive thought today, right now, can change your entire day. It may start off small but before you know it you’ll have a huge wave of feeling good all day long. TRY IT.

But take note, the same thing can happen with negative thoughts too. One negative thought can impact the rest of your day… it too can start off small, but then it spirals downward and builds into this huge wave of a mess.

I look forward to the day that YOUR positive thoughts become REAL in your life… ahhh I am honestly just so excited for you! When I first learned “The Secret” back in 2008, I didn’t want to keep it a secret at all. I wanted to run and tell everyone. It changed my life in such a big way and that’s what I want for you. And WHEN it happens for you, I pray you feel compelled to pay it forward and help those around you to recognize the power of their minds.

So I urge you to stop thinking things like “I am ugly” or “today will probably be a bad day” or “my mom will never understand me” or “no one likes me…I will always be alone…” AHHH seriously STOP ITTTTTTTT.

“Thoughts become things. Ask. Believe. Receive” – XO, The Secret.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”-XO, God

So go out and be fabulous today! BE HAPPY. Be giving. Be a boss. Own your very own empire. Declare it. Expect it. And it will come!

8 Traits of an Inner Beauty Queen

by: Alicia M. Blanco

innerbeautypageant

This past month, I’ve been watching a huge dream of mine come true right before my very eyes. The “Miss Inner Beauty Pageant” kicked off this month and it’s my new baby!

I’ve dreamt of a pageant that’s all about INNER beauty for years. In all my years in the pageant world I can honestly say I’ve been wildly and abundantly blessed because I’ve met some of the most beautiful people (not JUST women by the way) that the world has to offer.

And I’m not talking about the physically beautiful people; I’m talking about the people who radiate from within. From genuine pageant fans and supporters from all over the world (shout out to John Baker!), to outstanding pageant directors and contestants. I gravitate towards the good ones. Thank you, God!

Sometimes though, the women competing who naturally and effortlessly possess that sense of INNER BEAUTY don’t always “win” the big crown in the pageant. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone with so much of that inner beauty I love so much, walk away empty handed.

So that’s why The Miss Inner Beauty pageant means the WORLD to me. The girls range from 7- 18yrs old and are part of the Department of Children and Family Services foster care system. This pageant is an opportunity to increase their self-esteem and encourage them to focus on their inner beaut traits throughout their lives rather than the outer. How awesome is it that they are learning these things at such young and impressionable ages!?

And even though I was coaching and mentoring them this week, I think I was the one who walked away with some new valuable lessons.

In watching and listening to THEM, I came up with this list of 8 traits of an inner beauty queen:

1. She accepts herself just as she is. – The girls were each given a compact mirror to look into and then tell everyone in the group what they loved about themselves. One contestant said, “I love my glasses,” and, “I see a happy girl.” Another said, “My front teeth have a gap, but I like it. It makes me unique.” She’s 8.

2. She doesn’t compete with others. – It may be a pageant competition, but there was absolutely no sense of competing amongst this group. I watched as they made suggestions to one another on how to walk and even offered ideas to each other for the talent competition. I heard, “I love that song! I can’t wait to hear you sing that!”

3. She’s fun to be around. – There was a clear bond and friendship amongst these ladies. They were having fun playing dress up together and even more fun giggling as they learned how to deliver their introductions.

4. She sets goals for herself. – One girl is designing and making her own dress for the pageant because she wants to go to FIDM (Fashion Institute) after high school. Additionally, several of the older girls expressed a desire to go to college and talked about steps to making it happen.

5. She has a generous heart. – I watched one girl give up her dress to her friend simply because it was the only one that fit her.

6. She has an open mind. – The ladies listened to every word I said, eager to learn and apply it. One contestant couldn’t find a gown that fit her body type. Instead of stressing or pouting, she let it roll off her shoulders and said “it’s ok, there’s a dress out there for me, I just know it.”

7. She walks in confidence. – Obviously, part of the pageant entails walking on stage in their pageant gowns. I loved seeing them carry themselves with a new sense of confidence after our self-esteem workshop. (And it appears that the girls are actually most excited for the talent competition! Some will sing, some will dance, and one will even be sharing a poem that she wrote. That takes confidence!)

8. She supports and encourages those around her. – It was a joy to watch the girls cheering each other on as we practiced walking on stage and even help one another try on their pageant dresses. They were complimenting each other like sisters would.

As you can see, nothing on this list was about who had the prettiest face or the best gown or the most money. In the end, none of those things matter. How you treat yourself and others does.

I can’t wait to watch this pageant really take off for years to come. It may be a small ripple in the water now, but I envision it becoming a huge wave later.