Can We Talk?

As I was busy cooking before hubby arrived, and trying to pay attention to my friend on speakerphone, who was filling me in on a troubling circumstance in her life, I heard her ask…”Can we talk?”  But wait a minute, I thought we were talking.  What was I missing?  Did she say something that I didn’t catch in between the stir frying of vegetables and bubbling of jasmine rice?

I stopped everything and said, “Let’s meet at the coffee shop in 45 minutes”.  I felt a little guilty for not fully providing her my full attention, and knew in our coffee shop spot, I’d be all ears and heart.  As we sat down, I noticed that her body language was slumped, her hair unusually messy bunned, and her eye contact somewhat reaching into my soul for an invisible anchor to rest from it all.  She took a deep breath and verbally dumped. Literally dumped everything from her fears, doubts and insecurities; all conjured up from this “circumstance”.

Patricia, my friend, was never the needy type. She’s always proven resilient, confident and in control during the most challenging of times; yet today, clearly not her normal self.  I was taken aback for a moment, as I took my eyes off of her for a reaching distraction, and grabbed my spoon to stir my coffee.

After listening and providing my best wisdom on how she can use her strengths to overcome this challenge, Patricia kept pushing back with excuses to why the challenge was more dominate than her abilities to overcome it.  It was after she kept dodging my wisdoms with heavily grey filtered responses for over 35 minutes, that I became thoroughly exhausted.  I suddenly realized, in the dodgeball game of it all, Patricia only wanted to vent.  I was invited to ‘talk’, but this was a way for her voice, which had gone unheard originally, finally be heard.  She didn’t want me to come to the rescue or offer a way of escape that had gone previously noticed.  She wanted to stay where she was, and claim defeat.

Not all of our friends want advice or a way to even grow from an experience.  And knowing when to pull back and not allow ourselves to be drawn into the frenzy is self and relationship preserving.  “I could’ve listened just as well on the phone while still at home”, I thought to myself.  But in my cooking frenzy, which had now become guilt for not really listening at the beginning, and in all honesty, need to be a friend, I put on my ego empowered wonder woman cape and came to the rescue.

The point of this open and honest writing is to make sure in the everyday conversations with love ones that we are fully present, and if at that time the opportunity is not conducive to be so, let people know you’ll connect with them later.  This is a way to not only honor yourself, but also them.  I’ve learned a lot from that coffee shop meeting.  I’ve challenged myself to be present minded in conversations, to allow others the space to voice what they need from me, and to ask more questions verses providing unsolicited advice.  We are all walking on different paths on this journey called Life, and meeting each other where we are, is the best way to be a friend.

This article was written by Angela Hicks, “The Lifestyle Guru” .  Angela is a transformation coach, helping women around the world to clearly define their seemingly impossible goals and create a plan of action to live a life they love.  Click hereto invite her to speak at your organization or for information on private to group coaching sessions.

Retail Therapy

Shopping with a friend has always meant so much more than just buying clothes. Kathleen Alcott considers what we’ve lost—and gained—in the ease of online browsing.

Sometimes it occurs to me—in the middle of a 2 A.M. search for a vintage Dior maillot, or a passive afternoon hunt for the boots that might get me through another New York winter—that I shouldn’t be doing this alone. Don’t I need the friend in the next stall, the body and li

fe to which I’ll compare mine? Shopping online was common by the time I turned 20 and ubiquitous a few years later, but there was a time I could map the emotional milestones in my life by what I bought, and where, and who saw me half-naked as I tried on a thousand versions of myself.

Clothing was the first way I defined myself in my small Northern California town, hoping to signal to the rest of my life that I was ready to walk into it. I spent high school afternoons smoking cigarettes with my friend Phoebe, who was beautiful and six feet tall, loud as a bullhorn, and somehow equipped with both perfect breasts and a private garden apartment behind her parents’ Victorian home. One day she braided my hair and we ditched last period, and in a fluorescent-lit thrift store I tried on the piece that came to define how I would dress for the next decade—a high-waisted ’60s pencil skirt, linen, modernist red. I almost didn’t buy it. It was Phoebe who convinced me, bursting through the curtains and gasping, pointing out the feminine curves it had conjured from nowhere. I’ll kill you if you don’t buy it, she said. I wore it the next morning with a cream-colored secretary blouse and ballet flats I had stapled ribbons into to twine up my ankles. As I crossed the frosted grass of the quad, coatless and freezing so as not to obscure my purchase, feeling half like a fool and half like someone of exquisite power and beauty, I heard Phoebe yelling, Who is that? Who is she?

When I think of dressing rooms, it’s not always the bawdy encouragement that comes to mind, but rather the bleak or frank things that the strange, forced intimacy of the space made it possible to say. The summer my father died, the year I turned 15, my half sister took me to the mall to get a dress for his memorial. I remember sliding down the wall of the fitting room in that godforsaken Macy’s, finally sobbing. She heard my squeaks and joined me on the grimy carpet, where I told her I did not want to buy a dress, did not want to buy anything; that there was nothing to be bought that would make me the girl I wanted to be, someone who knew nothing about addiction or hospitals or slow, visible dying. She crouched there for a long time, until I was able to stand, and then, zipping me into that boxy polyester, she began to help me imagine the person who could find the dignity in black, someone who could see that dignity in others.

Had my adulthood in the sartorial cyclone of New York City unfolded 20 years ago, it might have been a montage of secrets about kinky sex or careerist jealousies confessed in understated lingerie from behind a curtain. Now, at 29 and single, I do most of my shopping alone or online. Though I sometimes miss the image of a hand floating over the flimsy divider, I’m not convinced that as women we have forgotten how to use the things we buy and wear as a bridge to each other. Sometime last fall, feeling hopeless about the relationship that I had failed to get over and the dim basement apartment I’d moved into when it ended, I texted my girlfriend Connie, who works in fashion and lives on my street, a screenshot of some embroidered boots I was considering buying. They were too much money, white with a baroque black overlay, and I could not decide if they were stunning or looked like an accent carpet. Uh-oh, I wrote. It’s after 11 o’clock and I’m about to pull the trigger on these. One of those very powerful women whose strength lies in diplomacy, Connie always turns a thought over before she says it, and she is someone I can always trust to be gentle with my impulses. Her ellipsis appeared immediately, then withdrew. I don’t know what’s going on with me, I typed. Do these say ‘single mom driving you to the concert with the windows down’?!

Will you be up a while? she wrote. I’m on the train but could be there in 10.

Article from April issue of Elle Magazine by Kathleen Alcott, the author of Infinite Home and The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets.



 Six Sure Ways to Start and Stay Motivated  

Can I be honest?  It’s hard even getting the strength up to be motivated in accomplishing a goal.  What is my motivation?  Why do I even want to achieve this?  It’s so much easier to be there for others, but what about being the very best for myself?  Ladies, if we give ourselves away to everyone else, who’s there for us while we’re pouring our souls out?

As little girls, we are taught, “Don’t be selfish…give.”  And we still hold to this model of behavior (to prove we’re not self-centered humans) to an exhausting demise.  I’ve learned to point the gun of this loaded charge back to my own life, by serving ME first.  No one can give their best to others while empty within.  Believe me, at the bottom of an empty cup of me, was liquid bitterness, resentment and just plain ole exhaustion.

When we pour into the lives of others from a fullness, the world is so much sweeter.  We truly reap what we sow, not only to others, but within ourselves too.  I had to shift the paradigm of how I valued myself, and prioritize daily commitments to my own care.  For example, I’m up at 3:30AM every morning for prayer, meditation and journaling.  I light my favorite white sage incense and use this time to tap into the power within.  My personal value increased and this became a wealth in not only flowing in self honor, but in honoring others as well.  Things I wanted to do before, yet struggled in, became easier; from losing weight, not being afraid in asking for more (more can be more money, time off, to asking a sales clerk for greater discounts), trying new adventurous things, and flourishing relationships.  I vibrated at a higher tone and attracted the very same into my life.  To help our Opulent Women, I’ve created my very personal tips on how to kindle and keep that fire of motivation gassed up and glowing!  

1.     Take complete ownership of where you want to go.  This is the very first step that’s not only critical for success, but powerful! Everything is energy, and movement is proof of life.  Moving into ownership has no room for excuses of any kind (this includes reasoning against your goals or even blaming your partner), because the results belong solely to you.  As soon as you find yourself blaming, complaining or making a statement trying to provide a reason for the lack…STOP.  Know results are the total sum of your efforts to achieving.

2.     Create a new ‘selfie’.  As you believe so you are.  No one can be what they cannot see themselves becoming or achieving. Tune into your self-talk.  Are you verbally abusive, conditional, or are you loving , appreciative and positive?  Imagine your self-talk was another form of you standing right before your eyes, would you even want to be around you based on what’s heard?  After dropping a glass to the floor one day, I heard myself say within…”You are so stupid.”  Wow!  I didn’t even like me, so how could I expect others to treat me with dignity?  Encourage yourself with new truth, and be your own best friend! Create affirmations:  “I love me”, “I can do this, just watch me”, “There’s nothing I cannot do once my mind is made up”, “I am strong, capable and resilient”.  Transform your self-portrait into one you want to be around.  

3.     Nurture your motivation with positive support.  For motivation longevity, this requires regular feedings of healthy support.  Try connecting with others who are positive, who can see your achieving great results. Life can come at you hard sometimes, and the infusion of energy from encouragement can help you stay focused and not give up when everything around you and in you screams the opposite.  Take this opportunity to join OWNetwork!  We’d love to have you.

4.     Know that persistence pays up.  Water hitting a rock will wear it down over time. Keep at your goals, no matter what.  Don’t allow any room for a retreat. Burn the bridges offering any chance of returning back to the land of familiar. Assess your environment and ensure it supports that new direction. For example, if your goal is to not eat potato chips every night, get them out of the house!  Take the potato chips to work and leave them in the employee break area for others to enjoy.

5.     Create weekly benchmarks.  How will you know you’ve reached your goals without a clear plan with signposts along the way?  No one wants to go for a vacation to nowhere.  See your new view so clear, that it’s like you’re already living it. How does it feel to have this new change in your life?  What are you doing different and new?  Relive these feelings throughout the day. This will add turbo fuel to your desire to win!

6.     Make your journey fun.  No one is inspired to do anything that’s perceived as mundane, draining or forced. Find ways to make your new goals exciting, and rewarding; while celebrating achievements along the way.  And don’t stop until you make yourself proud.

This article was written by Angela Hicks, “The Lifestyle Guru” .  Angela is a transformation coach, helping women around the world to clearly define their seemingly impossible goals and create a plan of action to live a life they love.  Click hereto invite her to speak at your organization or for information on private to group coaching sessions.