Breaking up (with old habits) is hard to do

The other day, I was working with a client on a food and mood journal (something I strongly recommend whether or not you’re looking to lose weight) and it made me think—especially in this season of overwhelm—about goals and resolutions.

We all know about SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. They’re basically precise data points that you set so you can stay on track and measure your progress. Over time, you realize, “hey, I can do this!”

But before you can be SMART, you have to be self-aware. Why are you setting these goals? What’s your motivation? Is it based on something someone else thinks is right? Or is it something you truly desire—and are willing to work hard for? Like so many things, unless you know the “why” behind the want, you’re just paying lip service.

Change is hard. Recognizing what you need to do to shed those limiting beliefs or get out of your comfort zone—or own way—is harder still. It’s scary. But with a mindful approach and some courage, change can be exhilarating.

Experimenting with a new you, envisioning success in a new way, and yes, keeping a journal, can be just the first step you need to becoming your best { self  } in 2018.

Do you have some old habits you’d like to change or kick to the curb? Please share in the comments below.

Fighting mad

For the past year—since before the election, really—I have been depressed and afraid. Very afraid.

But now I’ve moved into anger.

I don’t know where that falls on the continuum of grief, but it is where I have landed. I am speechless with rage.  

Last Tuesday, I went to bed feeling pretty happy with the election results. On Wednesday, I couldn’t stop smiling. Then came Kevin Spacey. Louis CK. And, just in time for the weekend, Roy Moore. One can only imagine what will be revealed this week.

If I were a Christian, I would be appalled at the perversion of my faith.

If I were a Republican, I would worry about the future of my party.

As it is, I am a woman and I am fighting mad. I can’t stop thinking about the sign I saw at the Women’s March, which said, “I can’t believe we’re still fighting about this.” Yet, here we are. Still fighting for justice, autonomy, equality and the right to move through life unmolested and unafraid.

To all those who delight in parsing how many predators can dance on the head of a woman’s hairpin, I would just like to ask: in what universe is masturbating in public ever acceptable behavior? (Louis CK).

In what book of manners or morals is pedophilia ever allowed (Roy Moore and the “if-then” crowd)?

And what HR regulation empowers you to hire the spy agency of a foreign nation to intimidate and compromise an accuser (as Weinstein is said to have done with Israel’s Mossad)?

I became a health coach to help women like us overcome the limiting beliefs that undermine our confidence and restrict our ambition. I wanted them (and you) to learn from my experience so you can give yourself the permission to dream big and go after those dreams—and feel good doing it.

In that spirit, I’d like to propose that we (re)commit to hearing each other, helping each other and fighting for each other. Support and sponsor other women. Advocate for their interests and well-being when they are threatened. Don’t be afraid to speak up and stand up in the face of injustice. Believe in yourself and your ability to make a change.

We don’t all have to agree on every issue, but when we stand together we can finally put to rest the sense of privilege and entitlement that tries to silence us and keep us in our place. When we fight back, we become our toughest
{ selves }.

It's OK to be angry. How will you channel that anger into positive change? Please tell us in the comments below.

He said. We act.

Whoops, he did it again. Harvey Weinstein (60 and counting). Bill O’Reilly (millions and millions paid). Roman Polanski (recently accused of molesting a 10-year-old). And now, Mark Halperin (who only now recognizes his behavior was “inappropriate”).

Can’t someone rid us of these troublesome men? Yes, we can. We can take action.

Let’s start with the perps. The ones who make us choose between our money and our lives. Here’s a pro tip: Sexual assault and its handmaidens of threats, retaliation, trolling, revenge and blackmail is beyond wrong. It is criminal. It is not up to us to say no or live in fear of provoking you. It is up to you to not do it in the first place.

Let’s talk about families because respect and decency start at home. Parents need to teach and re-teach their sons that men of good character do not harass/aggress/assault women. Ever. Parents, especially dads, need to nurture their daughters’ self-esteem and empower them to stand up for their bodies and their dignity.

And let’s put sexual assault in the larger context of power plays. Because that’s what it is: an abuse of power. 

When legislators pass laws that deny you autonomy over your body (contraception, reproduction, gender expression), that’s abuse.

When companies perpetuate the wage gap or practice hiring discrimination, that’s abuse.

When the leaders of our country undermine our well-being with policies that threaten our civil rights, social safety net and the environment, that’s abuse.

The list goes on and on. But we can stop it. Hold the abusers/predators accountable. Speak up. Fight back. Tell the world. Whatever works. You won't be judged or shamed. The perps will.

By becoming our own best advocates, we become our most powerful { selves }.

 

Riding the waves

Sundays are fun days for me. If I don’t have a deadline, I can spend the entire day worshipping at the shrine of the two newspapers—the sainted New York Times and Washington Post. The dead tree versions. Not digital.

Today was one of those days. And one of the most interesting articles I came across was in the NYT Business Section, specifically “Corner Office,” which interviews business leaders (some names you may recognize, others not) and asks them about their earliest influences, early leadership lessons, what they’re looking for when they hire and what they tell recent college grads. They are all uniformly enlightening.

Today’s piece profiled Dion Weisler, Chief Executive, HP, Inc. And he mentioned a management technique that he finds especially useful: the three waves of innovation. It’s based on surfing (Weisler grew up in Australia).  The first wave is the one you’re currently on, say, your core business or life's journey. The second is the waves that are coming—which do you choose. That usually has to do with growth. And the third is “what all great surfers do…go home and pull the weather reports and figure out when the next big one is coming.” In other words, predicting trends that you can get a jump on. Or as he calls it “pure invention and category creation.”

In a sense, we’re all surfers. The first wave is our every day life and that can be challenging enough. The waves that are coming are your dreams and goals. Which offers the greatest personal, professional, psychic growth? And then, the third wave…reinvention. If you could ride the magic surfboard, how would you steer it and leverage the energy of the wave beneath you? How can you create the life you want or don’t even know you want yet? 

I am forever indebted to Dion Weisler for this powerful metaphor. I hope you are too. Tell us here how you plan to channel the waves in your life so you can become your most innovative { self }.

The start of something good

For most of us, January 1 marks the start of a new year. For others, it's back to school in late August-early September. But for Jews the world over, it’s now—the High Holy Days when the new year begins with the change of the seasons.

But you don’t have to be Jewish (as the old Levy’s rye bread ads used to say) to appreciate the absolute gift this holiday gives us. First of all, it really is a celebration. Rosh Hashanah marks the birth of the universe. The biggest of all effervescent, big bangs. Yom Kippur for all its solemnity gives us all a fresh start—vacating old promises and obligations and making new, more intentional vows to ourselves and others. (And, if you believe in it, to a deity.)

We’re now midway between the two holidays. And while I’m not an especially observant person, I’m enjoying the sense of renewal and re-invention. The liberation that comes from forgiveness and gratitude. A feeling I hope you can share—whatever your religious practice.

So I wish you a sweet year and a healthy one. And hope you find ways to becoming your best, most inspired { self }.

If you were making resolutions of the new year, what would they be? Tell us in the comments below.

The September issues

One of my favorite memories of my mother involves sitting on her bed and reviewing the September issues of all the big fashion magazines. Then, as now, they were as thick as phone books and full of fantasy—a kaleidoscope of color, texture and style.

We studied every page from the front cover to the last, including and most especially the ads (which she taught me were simply “editorial” in another form). For once, there were no battles over food, (my) weight or failure to meet her standards. We were simply art lovers in search of visual stimulation.

Back then, there was no body positivity movement. Diversity—ethnic, gender, age—was not a thing. It was pretty binary: skinny, young white women in front of the camera while mostly white men dressed, photographed and styled them.

But I was unaware of that then. I just loved what I saw before me and, more importantly, those rare intimate moments with my mom. Now, of course, things have changed. Ashley Parker and her mannequin sisters are redefining beauty at every size. “Glamour,” long an advocate of women’s achievement, is committed to recruiting more women behind the camera (Hollywood, are you listening?) and “Teen Vogue” has been on the forefront, in this category, of speaking truth to political power.

After a break of many years when I didn’t look at them, I recently picked up a couple of September issues that caught my eye at the checkout aisle at the grocery store. And I’m happy to see that the clothes are still glorious (if not mostly out of reach). The makeup, still beguiling. And the ads, still worth deconstructing. (After all that maternal training, is it any wonder I turned out to be an advertising copywriter?)

But there’s more substance now to the fluff. More thought-provoking and inspiring articles along with the eye-popping accessories. More women of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and outlooks. I wish my mother were here to see it.

Like any high-calorie treat, these September issues are meant to be consumed sparingly, without guilt. You don’t have to look like the girls and women on those pages to be beautiful. You are beauty enough. Instead, just enjoy them for what they are—a buzzy, blingy distraction designed to delight your most aesthetically minded { self }.

What are some of your best September memories or rituals? Share them in the comments below.

Upended

I’m sitting here on this mournful morning thinking about what to write to you. With all that’s going on in the world, the usual subjects, treated the usual way, just don’t seem adequate or appropriate to the day or mood.

With your indulgence, I’m going to try to work through how I feel in the hopes that it can help you with whatever you’re dealing with at the moment.

Yesterday, I came across an article about diversity—how it’s as important to our diets as it is to our society. Pure homogeneity is unhealthy. We need a mix of foods, ingredients and color to fuel our bodies and feel our best.

Equally, when our body politic is nourished with diversity—ethnic, gender, age, experience—we’re better off for it. Communities are stronger when everyone is given every opportunity to succeed and contribute, when differences are seen and valued, not stifled or condemned. We’re not playing the identity politics card here. When we do this, we are living our national truth: out of many, one.

Charlottesville and Barcelona have shown us yet again how hate and intolerance—like the most toxic of junk foods—poison the soul. To bring about greater diversity and lovingkindness requires us to be our bravest, most honorable {selves}.

As always, I value your thoughts. Please share your comments below.

Hi, Anxiety

I have just finished reading Andrea Petersen’s On Edge, which chronicles how she medicated, meditated and investigated her way through a 25-year journey with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (and a constellation of related syndromes).

Despite, or maybe because of the challenging symptoms, she has nevertheless lived what on the surface would appear to be a charmed life and has maintained a successful career as a contributing writer for the Wall Street Journal. She is an excellent writer, integrating the scientific with the personal so seamlessly that the book reads like a novel.

She catalogues the symptoms of anxiety (racing heart, hypochondria, inability to concentrate, panic attacks, phobias), the neuroscience, the genetics, the treatments (pharmacological and psychological) and the very profound effects it has on a person’s life (isolation, despair, stigma). She feared the effects of psychotropic meds on her unborn child and worries that she has passed on the anxiety gene to her daughter. Her husband is a mensch.

Only once did my attention flag. It was toward the end after hearing about yet another siege of panic attacks and weight loss. Ok, we get it, I thought. Enough….yet, imagine how she, or any other sufferer feels. You think you have this thing under control, and then, boom, it’s back. Putting readers in someone else’s shoes like that is a gift.

While both men and women can suffer from anxiety, women, from childhood on, are made to feel that they are “responsible for [their] own negative outcomes…” As a result, girls become more anxious, self-evaluative and self-critical. They withdraw from the things that scare them. They withdraw from life.

Unlike fear, which is rooted in the present and resolves once the threat is past, anxiety is fear of some unnamed future and is governed by catastrophic thinking. It never goes away.

Anxiety, Petersen says, is a thief that steals your life. You may not be able to “avoid” a diagnosis but when the symptoms strike, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Study the science (it’s really interesting and empowering), ask questions, be open and receptive to treatment. Keep fighting.

On Edge can be a roadmap to finding your bravest, strongest { self }.

Hunger

Roxane Gay’s “Hunger” was a difficult book to read and even harder one for the author to write. It is the story of her “unruly body and unruly appetites,” a before-and-after view of a body and soul devastated by a gang rape at twelve and the massive overeating that followed. Her way to fill up the hollowness—the hunger—inside her.

As she makes clear, this is not a weight loss victory story. It is instead a “book about disappearing and being lost and wanting so very much, wanting to be seen and understood…learning, however slowly, to be seen and understood.”

And that, to me, was the heart of the story. We all want to be seen and understood. At the root of so much misery and self-inflicted punishment, this is what we’re looking for. To be seen, understood, accepted and loved. And we don’t get it; we look for other ways to satisfy that hunger—food, drugs, alcohol, love in all the wrong places.

Gay also observes that one of the most shocking discoveries about sexual assault is just how common it is. How it has riven and ruined so many lives in ways we’re not even aware of. How many lifestyle diseases (eating disorders, addictions, domestic abuse) are the result of hearts and minds being broken on such an existential level? And most of us have no idea.

This is an angry book, and no wonder. It’s gripping and repellant in equal measure. While there is no weight loss celebration at the end, you get the sense that Ms Gay has at last found some peace and happiness. And because she writes so compellingly of her experiences and emotions, you’re happy for her.

“Hunger” is a heartbreaking book about profound loss, resilience and compassion for your { self } and others. Please read it.

Poolside

To me, it’s one of the loveliest words in the English language. I love the patterns the sunlight makes in the water, the scent of sunscreen, the snatches of conversation that come in and out of my consciousness. That first day at the pool is pure bliss.

For you, perhaps, not so much. A series of blows upon the ego—in the dressing room (do I really look like that?); the wallet (how much for these three microscopic pieces of lycra) and in our heart of hearts (This is hopeless. I'll never have the perfect body.)

The fact is, a day at the pool really is a day at the beach. Vitamin D in abundance, sunlight as mood elevator, easy exercise in the pool. Don’t waste precious moments feeling bad about your body. Before your outing, treat it kindly with a beauty treatment (mani-pedi, massage, waxing) and a little water aerobics. Sleep (in the shade) and wake up to find that whatever wintry thoughts were dragging you down have miraculously disappeared. Or try taking in the scene through new eyes—your phone’s viewfinder, perhaps—and create some artful IG worthy photos.

A few hours at the pool can be therapy without the angst. A fresh face without make-up. A restorative outlook for your loveliest, sunniest { self. }

Recalculating

Every once and while, and probably more often than I know, I realize I have to practice what I preach.

For the past few weeks, it seems that many of my clients have needed a pep talk: “Set some boundaries,” I’ll say. “Know your worth and get paid for it. Don’t confuse being liked with being valued or appreciated.” From such advice and in sufficient number, I want to believe, gender pay gaps and other women-unfriendly policies can be overturned.

This week, I realized assertiveness starts with me.

In one of my other lives, I write a weekly column for a local newspaper. It’s a ton of fun. It is not, however, a probono gig although, recently, it has seemed that way. I have not been paid for months.

It’s the curse of the freelancer and I let it go for about thirty days, then sixty, but as the 90th day of no pay arrived, I very politely reached out to my editor and the publisher and asked “what gives?” I got a lot of justifications and excuses and finally the offer of a partial payment so small it required an electron microscope to see it.

I was on deadline and at first I thought, “OK, I’ll take it. Something is better than nothing.” And then somewhere in the depths of my heart—or checkbook—I heard the words. “No. This is unacceptable. You're being exploited.”

So that is what I said. As I have learned from Christine Hassler, “No” is a complete sentence.

I wish I could say I’ve been paid in full. I have not. We’re in “negotiation.” But I said what I needed to say. And the value of asserting myself, for not taking the easy, default people-pleaser way out, is almost more valuable the money. For once, it really is the principle that counts.

Lesson learned: it pays to know and advocate for your { self } worth.

Down the drain

Is Mercury in retrograde or something? There has not been a day this week when something has gone not unexpectedly and spectacularly wrong.

An almost fatal misunderstanding with a dear friend. A missed deadline. And now, my sink which, as readers of this blog know, has the unpleasant habit of backing up and exploding for no reason and without warning.

So, first, I swore. And then, I asked myself: why is this happening to me? No, wait, why is this happening FOR me? What lesson am I to learn from this? Is it the universe’s way of telling me to slow down and pay attention to my calendar, my life? Was I short tempered with a friend because I felt needy for a little attention myself and just didn’t have it in me to be more empathetic? As for the sink, it’s a mystery. I have no clue and neither, I suspect, does the plumber.

One of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn is that I can’t control everything. Sometimes things just happen. On the other hand, there are some things I can be more mindful of and correct when I see I am going off course—whether it’s my mood, my appetite or time-management.

So I’m going to call my friend and (gulp) apologize. Make up the work I missed. Call the plumber. Take a breath and work on becoming a kinder, gentler and more efficient version of my { self }.

What’s holding you back?

Ah, the lure of self-limiting beliefs. Those niggling doubts that, if repeated often enough, keep us in our place. Afraid to push forward, to fail, or maybe even succeed. The things we tell ourselves that keep us stuck.

You know the drill. I’m not smart enough to go for this job. I’m not accomplished enough to ask for this raise. Experienced enough to lead this group. Pretty enough to even want to stand out. Worthy enough to take up space. Demand equal treatment.  Be loved on my terms.

Self-limiting beliefs are the fake news of the soul. And nothing breaks through fatal deception like a healthy dose of self-awareness. When you feel your perceptions are at odds with reality, ask yourself these questions:

1. Is it true? Familiarity breeds, well, more familiarity. If you’re used to perceiving things (yourself, a situation) a certain way, it can be difficult to adjust to a new reality. Break the habit and old think by approaching yourself with a child’s mind—open to seeing things as they are, not as you wish or, worse, fear they may be.

2. How does it make me feel? We all have stories we tell ourselves or that others have told us about ourselves. True or not, they leave a mark, which no amount of denial can cover up. Own your reaction (sadness, anger, regret), acknowledge it and, if you can, let it go or find a way to channel the emotion into something positive (advocacy, action, self-compassion).

3. How do I want to feel? If you could free yourself from this belief, what would your life look like? How would you feel in your body and mind? Think big, write it down and figure out how you can make it happen.

See those limiting beliefs for what they are. Barriers to becoming your best, most fulfilled { self }. Then break free.

Fame, fortune and finding my voice

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be famous. I have no idea why or what inspired the want. Nor, I’m guessing, did I understand what “fame” even meant. But I saw it as a desirable thing to be, a reward to be enjoyed once I grew up.

So of course I chose a profession that guaranteed anonymity—advertising. No one knew who I was. My name was that of “the client,” the logo at the bottom of the page. And even if the ad was successful, I—the writer—stayed hidden.

Even when I did community theatre (ever the tragedienne), I was never the flamboyant lead. My characters were observers, watching, waiting until the very last moment when they took action that changed the entire course of the drama.

A week ago, that all changed. I appeared on Bmore Livestyle, an afternoon talk show broadcast in Baltimore, It was my debut as myself: Susan Bodiker, founder of One Girl Wellness, author of Fat Girl.

Was I nervous? Terrified.

Excited? Breathless.

“You always wanted to be famous,” I told myself. “Now's your chance.”

The segment—on self-care—flew by in a flash. The conversation flowed. And while I haven’t seen the footage, everyone seemed happy. And I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt great. (And thanks to make-up artist, Owen O’Donnell and hair stylist, Ashley Windsor, I felt beautiful.)

It wasn’t until I was back home that I realized what “fame” had meant to me all this time. It wasn’t celebrity I was after.  It was being seen, acknowledged, appreciated for who I was as I was. Valued.

Something everybody wants.

In those few minutes of fame, I found not just my voice. But my { self }.

High anxiety

How are you? Tell me, I really want to know.

It’s been a tense couple of weeks and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t been sleeping well, eating well or feeling well. You (OK, I) have been spending way too much time watching--and reacting to--the latest headlines. I have to stop listening to “Breaking News” bulletins on MSNBC. Or cut back on those daily calls to my congresspersons, urging them to vote “no” on this or “yes” on that.

Actually, they’re not really my congresspeople. As a DC resident, I have no representatives so I call the committee heads or undecided members and hope they pay attention.  I have never made so many calls or sent so many emails to Capitol Hill in my life.

And you know what? It’s fun. There’s power in having your say with a “decider,” no matter how tenuous your connection is. And after the woman’s march (another new thing for me) on Jan 21, I feel as though I have to do it.

So I got over my fear of cold calling and just did it.

I also started my taxes today. In truth, I just organized the paperwork and the numbers so I could deliver a coherent financial narrative to the CPA. I’d been angsty about it since New Year’s Day, and putting it off and putting it off. But finally, I powered through my fear, pulled things together and made quite a bit of progress this afternoon. I feel so much better! 

It occurred to me that so much of our procrastination or reluctance to try new things is due to fear. Fear we’ll do it wrong. Fear we’ll be laughed it. Fear we won’t understand it and have nowhere to turn. But once you take that first step, you find it’s really not that hard after all. You can do it. And it may even be fun.

Just take a deep breath and trust your bravest { self }.

 


Never underestimate the power of a woman in pink

Back in the day, when I was a feminist in training, there was a book called “Sisterhood is Powerful.”  

It was a radical piece of work for its time and long after “leaning in,” diversity committees and “I’m with her” had their day, its calls to action found new life on the National Mall yesterday and in cities around the world as millions of women (and some men and many children) marched in solidarity—and in pink hats—for equal rights, civil liberties, environmental protection, access to health care and reproductive choice.

There was also that little matter of the tweeter-in-chief now living in the White House and the dystopian program that he and his Congressional allies hope (threaten?) to put in place.

Despite years of advocacy work, I had never participated in a march before—even for causes I really cared about. And to be honest, I wondered what the event could accomplish. Would the new administration pay attention? Would Congress? Definitely not and probably no. But in light of how we all felt after the election, the mood of the day was so buoyant and the feeling, so warm and supportive, it felt like aloe on a burn. It was empowering, energizing and exhilarating.

Postscript: This is what democracy feels like the day after: sore feet from marching and a sore throat from chanting. I hope all of us who participated and all who cheered us on can find a way to translate our passion from clicks into action for causes we believe in. Sisterhood is powerful and it starts with believing in our { selves }.


What’s your question for 2017?

It’s been quite a year. And for many of us, it’s good riddance to bad rubbish. We’re now hunkering down, devoting ourselves to hygge (life’s simple pleasures—the new trend according to the hip and happening) and hoping for the best. In short, it’s resolution season, a time of big thoughts and promises.

Rather than limiting ourselves to--and failing to achieve--these bold declarative statements (lose ten pounds, read more, volunteer), what if we posed our goals for the year as a question? How can I live more healthily? Learn something new? Bring comfort and hope to those in need?

Old school resolutions are like “shoulds.” They imply there’s only one path. Questions give you options. They foster creative thinking, new ways to get to where you want to go. Without the judgment or expectations of a specific outcome. Sometimes they lead you to an entirely different direction and a level of self-understanding that bring you more joy or lessons than you could imagine.

As for me, I’m asking myself “how can I be more open? More, um, vulnerable (my particular bête noire)? How can I connect to my truest self and build deeper connections with others? I’ll let you know how it goes.

So this year, take a breath, ask a question and then toast the new year and your best and happiest { self. }

P.S. Lots of new stuff coming in the coming year. So watch this space!

 

Plumbing

No, this is not about the glories of a post-Thanksgiving cleanse, fast or detox. It’s a story of actual clogged pipes and what they taught me about my day-to-day life.

Let me back up. I live in a pre-war building. And like most things of a certain age, its infrastructure is not quite what it used to be. Throw in a few kids who put questionable things in the food disposal and voilà, you have a loudly burping, almost overflowing kitchen sink. So the plumber was called and now all’s well that ends well. Before he left, he said something interesting: “Every so often you have to perform some preventive maintenance. It saves a lot of time and misery later.”

“How wise,” I thought. How healthy and happy would we all be if we performed a little preventive maintenance in our lives, like saving or investing a few extra dollars every week. Or suppose we exercised a little restraint over the holidays so we don’t have to deal with January guilt. Or if we took a little time to learn a new skill, read a new author or spend a few minutes proactively addressing a small problem before it became a big one.

How would that make you feel? It doesn’t have to be a dramatic re-set. Just a tweak or two—baby steps, really—that get you closer to something you really, really want.

Preventive maintenance, my plumber called it.  Really, it's just another word for preserving your best { self }.

 


More's the { self } pity

This past week has undone me. I am really sad, anxious, depressed, angry, numb. I'm in a stupor of misery. It's like the end of a relationship or a death but without the good memories to soften the blow.

You don't need an election to feel this way, of course. We can all fall into a funk in a heartbeat, even without a clear reason.

But after a while, it gets boring. So here's what I've done since Wednesday to restore myself:

1. I fasted. No, not from food. The non-stop news. After a while, post mortems weren't giving me the informational nutrition I needed, so I just stopped listening to the punditry. I thought my own thoughts and tried to find clarity in my own mind without getting lost in the noise.

2. I worked out. Never underestimate the power of endorphins. You may not change the world from the barre, but if you can do one more minute of plank or hold a position longer than the day before, that's an accomplishment. Celebrate it. Plus class companionship is good for the spirit.

3. I kept working. I have to do something creative everyday and thankfully deadlines concentrated my mind. When clients are waiting for copy, you can't keep taking exit poll breaks. You've got to stay focused on what you can control.

4. I did my homework. I've been taking Spanish classes since September--in part to stave off dementia and in part to piss off a certain president-elect. Conjugating verbs and composing simple, declarative sentences has been a happy distraction.

5. I'm fighting back. Becoming an ex-pat is not an option. So I'm re-evaluating the causes and organizations I support and deciding where I can do the most good over the next four years.

6. I counted my blessings. I have resources. I have health. An apartment I love with three wonderful companion animals. Good friends. Suerte (luck), as they say. Whenever I get too much in my own head, I remind myself how lucky I am and thank the universe. I think of ways to pay it forward.

Whether it's political or personal, it's OK--desirable even--to give into self-pity. But not for too long. You're entitled to indulge in tears and comfort food, but eventually you have to get up and get going. You owe it to the world. And to your { self }.

What steps are you taking to move forward? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page. 

VULNERABILITY IS POWERFUL

In your wildest dreams, did you ever think that sexual assault would be an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign? Me either. Yet, here we are.

But just when you think the story can’t get  any stranger (or “deplorable,” to use the word du jour) there comes a revelatory moment that changes your whole perspective.

In a roundtable convo on MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell show, Ana Marie Cox observed, “the fear of seeming vulnerable keeps us broken. It takes strength to reach out and ask for help.” She was talking, of course, about the People reporter whose story of the republican’s nominee’s boorish behavior had broken that day. She was attempting to explain why women don’t come forward and bear witness. That the fear of being seen or judged as vulnerable somehow made them seem weak in their own or others’ eyes. So they swallow their pain and do what they can to move on.

Of course, as we’ve all learned in our own lives in all sorts of circumstance, you can’t move on unless you identify the source of your distress (whatever it is) and deal with it honestly, courageously and with self-compassion. Sometimes that means speaking up. Or speaking truth to power. Or asking a simple question. Or feeling safe enough to reach out and say, “I can’t do this alone. I’m stuck. Please help me.”

And just like that, what you think is your weakness becomes your strength. By enlarging your circle and bringing help to your side, you start to become your most powerful { self }.