Your Charmed Life

Last weekend I spoke for the Institute of Integrative Nutrition at Lincoln Center in New York City. As I prepared my presentation, I knew I wanted to offer something succinct that would speak to a thousand-plus students on their way to becoming holistic nutrition consultants, teachers, and coaches. What would apply to anyone wanting to be successful in business, make a contribution to the world, and have a great life at the same time?

I meditated on this for several days and came up with the following affirmation: “I am energetic, charismatic, and irrepressible.” I realized that this was precisely what I needed to share with the nutrition students, but it’s also something to share with my readers and coaching clients and use myself. As I thought about it, I wondered: could this be the Ultimate Success Affirmation? Maybe.

Here’s the breakdown: “I am energetic…” Energy is the basis of all we do. We need physical vitality to get things done, an energetic mind to devise creative approaches to problems, and an infusion of spiritual energy so we can be truly animated, genuinely positive, and fully alive. With sufficient energy, you can start a business while still working another job. You can have a family and get a Masters. You can go out in the evening to a lecture or the theater or a dance class instead of collapsing with the remote control. Without energy, dreams are flimsy and ethereal. With it, you can set about bringing them into being.

“I am charismatic…” If you want to attract a life partner, or clients, or an employer, or other people to support your cause, you have to develop charisma, personal magnetism. I wrote about ways to develop this in my last book, Fat, Broke & Lonely No More:

  • Emanate enthusiasm
  • Speak sincerely
  • Be interested in just about everything
  • Keep an upbeat attitude
  • Become the person you want to be to attract the person (or people) you want to attract
  • Cultivate clear boundaries
  • Plug into a Power Source that won’t give out. Remember that charisma is power coming through a person. We don’t generate it: we channel it.

“I am irrepressible…” I love the very word “irrepressible” and its various synonyms—exuberant, high-spirited, buoyant. To be irrepressible means that nothing can keep you down for the count. How you far you go tomorrow doesn’t depend on what you may have lost yesterday. See yourself as someone who lives life in the real world, faces what has to be faced and feels what needs to be felt, but who refuses to let circumstances interfere with the joy and the destiny that brought you here in the first place.

I invite you to work with the Ultimate Success Affirmation (USA for short) every morning for the next 90 days. I suggest that you say 10 times to yourself: “I am energetic, charismatic, and irrepressible.” And that you say 10 times aloud: “I am energetic, charismatic, and irrepressible.” And that you write longhand in your journal or day planner 10 times: “I am energetic, charismatic, and irrepressible.” Put the affirmation on Post-It notes and stick them where you can see them. When someone asks who you are, say your name but think, “I am energetic, charismatic, and irrepressible.” My hunch is that if you do this faithfully, three months from now you will be living—and enjoying—a profoundly uplifted life.

I had such fun today. I got to go to Chelsea on the West Side of Manhattan, to a giant Martha Stewart Living complex and do a photo shoot for the May ’09 issue of Body+Soul magazine. It will be part of a piece on life-changing moments featuring two other writers and me. Our “call times” were staggered, so each of us was met by the editor in charge, wardrobe stylist, hair and makeup peson, art director, prop person and photographer as if we were real models.

Talk about Fantasy Land! I started reading glossy magazines when I was ten. I’d bought a copy of Mademoiselle in Rome because there was nothing else in English to read. The elevator operator at the hotel, a handsome young Frenchman, saw the title and said, “C’est francais, n’est-ce pas?” I was sold. If reading those magazines could get me that kind of attention, I’d read them faithfully and forever. I wished I could be like the girls in the magazines, but I knew that I was plump and not tall and couldn’t get my skin to clear up. Still, those girls held out the possibility that anybody could be beautiful with a little luck and magic (and of course the product they were selling).

Today in the sunny studio overlooking the Hudson River, I got to be one of “those” girls. In fact, every once in awhile the opportunity comes to me in my work as an author to do something like this for a magazine or on TV, and every time it does the timing amazes me. You see, none of this started until I was well into middle age. Way past the date when any sane person would aspire to start flirting with a camera and get her picture places, the cameras showed up.

This tells me something. It tells me that every good desire, held close to the heart and yet wholly revealed to whatever Power fills the God spot in an individual’s world, is invincible. These desires don’t die. They can alter their shape and form and structure, but their essence remains. It seems to me that the Divine is aching to give us our heart’s desires but we have to open to them in a way that goes beyond “I want it, I want it, I want it.” It’s as if we have to look away, forget sometimes what it was we once yearned for so intensely, and in the forgetting, it shows up — at the strangest times, later rather than sooner, but oh golly, when it does show up, it’s the sweetest, sweetest thing.

It was like that this morning with the good people from Body+Soul. I got to wear a beautiful summer blouse from Elie Tahari and jeans from jcrew in a size I would have died to fit into at sixteen. But they zipped and didn’t rip and now I’d like a pair of my very own.

In the Bible, in the book of Joel (chapter 1, vs. 4), is this pasage: “I will give you the years the locust has eaten.” I love that concept, especially when I see it playing out in my life or in the life of a coach client or a friend. Today was one of those days: I got some of those years back. I’m not the young girl who lived for those magazines and longed to look like the leggy lovelies who populated them. But that girl lives inside me and today she got to play.

One of my favorite people is Cathryn Michon, author of The Grrl Genius Guide to Life, and The Grrl Genius Guide to Sex (With Other People). She’s a comedian, humanitarian, actor, writer, and all-’round amazing woman. It is my honor to share with you her recipe to celebrate the Obama era. (Vegans can make this with soy ice cream and tofu whipped cream.)

Cathryn Michon’s Grrl Genius
Smoking Hot Fudge Barack Obama “Yes, Pecan!” Inaugural Sundae

Two Scoops of Ben and Jerry’s “Yes, Pecan” ice cream (or any brand of butter pecan ice cream)
1/4 cup candied pecans
1/2 cup Godiva hot fudge (or brand of your choice)
1/2 cup whipped cream
1 George Washington honorary Maraschino cherry
1/4 ounce dark rum
Hawaiian orchid (for garnish)

Warm hot fudge according to package directions and pour over the ice cream.  Place the pecans decoratively on the sides of the sundae and lay the decorative orchid at the base of the serving dish. Spoon on a generous serving of the whipped cream, creating a trough in the whipped cream that resembles the cone of a live Hawaiian volcano.  Set the cherry in the trough, and fill the trough with dark rum.  Set the rum on fire with either a long match or a butane lighter to symbolize our smoking hot new President and the sweet hope that will sustain us all in the days to come!

Serves:  One Happy World Citizen!

I am so fortunate to know people who tell me what I need to hear. That happened last night in a teleclass I’m teaching called “Come Into Your Own in 2009.” We’re meeting every Tuesday night in January and once a month throughout the year, and for each class some wonderful colleague has agreed to be my “guest expert” and come on for 20 minutes or so to share his or her expertise. Last night’s class was on health and the guest was Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D., the author of Health Bliss and lots of other lovely books.

People were asking her questions about diet and exercise and managing stress and when there was a lull in the conversation, I asked a question myself: “What do advise when someone just can’t do what they know they’re supposed to?”

I explained my recent situation: I have a cat, Bobby, who has “nocturnal angst.” In other words, he vocalizes through the night. Like a mother with a colicky babe, I have a colicky cat and I haven’t slept well in months. Things are getting better for Bobby (he’s seeing a veterinary behaviorist — gosh, I love New York…) but nights are still interrupted once or twice, and even on the best of them, I’m still not sleeping well.

I expected Susan to give me some health advice: “When you’re not able to sleep, be sure and get enough exercise, and drink fresh juice, and take B vitamins,” but she didn’t say any of that. Instead, this wise woman told me (quoted from memory, not recorded exactness): “When things like this go on in my life, I want to revert back to, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ But I’ve learned to ask a different question: ‘Why is this happening for me?’ That puts it on a whole different plane and it should help you.”

It did. I think that sometimes we believe that our worthiness shows when our lives are near-perfect and things are going beautifully. Of course that’s great, and the more we meditate do all the other good stuff, the more days like this we can expect to have. But this is still earth. It’s a place where there’s contrast, in nature and in our lives. Sometimes you don’t get the guy, or the job, or the goody. Sometimes the cat is troubled and keeps you up in the night. Sometimes you think you’ve got something down pat (I was great with the sleeping thing: 10 to 6, like clockwork, a good little yogi) and then it unravels.

So why indeed was this happening for me? I can’t say for sure — I’m still close to the situation — but I can see that it’s a chance to learn patience and tolerance and love. (The vet said she became a behavioral specialist because behavioral problems are the number 1 cause of death in companion animals. In other words, they annoy people to the point that their humans have them put to sleep.) And it’s a chance to learn love for myself: I don’t have to be as on top of things as usual until I catch up on my sleep, and I have to catch up on my sleep because I deserve a good life every bit as much as my cat does. This happened for me to learn some compassion for other people who know what they ought to be doing but for whatever reason can’t quite do it right now.

And maybe it’s happening just so I would learn that phrase: Why is this happening for me? instead of Why is this happening to me? That will find a place in my life when other circumstances come up, long after Bobby and I are both once again sleeping all night long.