the art of self improvement

The Art of Self-Improvement

Why does no one mention Art when talking about Self Improvement? Why do we seek inner understanding from ‘gurus’ and not artists? Maybe it’s time for change.

There’s no doubt about it: Self Improvement is big business but what about art? No matter where we look we seem to see men attired in business suits and fancy haircuts. Sporting dinky little earpiece microphones, they speak to us as though we were attending the annual general meeting of their multi-national self-development business which, I suppose, isn’t that far from the truth. They speak to us in sound-bites; “I’m gonna show you how…”, “you just need to follow my plan: no thought required; just follow the plan”. Success and winning, they preach to the audience, are “a sure thing.”

But is self-development a sure thing? If like me, you believe self-development is a life journey that is never completed, you know that the only sure thing is that the search for self-development is far from being a sure thing. The journey will entail more failures than successes, more loss than gain and more self-doubt than we think we can endure. The only way to improve one’s self is to challenge the habits and assumptions we have gathered along the way. To go out on a limb with no guarantee of finding what we want takes courage. No ‘success plan’ would contemplate such a course of action!

Photo by Olayinka Babalola on Unsplash
Photo by Olayinka Babalola on Unsplash

So, if we can’t get succor from the self-improvement ‘gurus’, who can we turn to?

The answer, I believe, is to look to the people who have always explored every single aspect of the human condition. They did not always find the answer, but they all had courage. They are, of course, the world’s artists.

How can a painting help us toward our goal of self-improvement you might ask? Well, some paintings help to bring serenity and a feeling of inner peace; I feel this whenever I look at an Impressionist painting, especially paintings by Berthe Morisot. She was never recognized as a great artist during her lifetime; she was relegated to the category of “feminine” artists because of her usual subject matter — women, children, and domestic scenes. Her paintings are intensely intimate. She is an example of someone who never gave up on pursuing what she thought was worthwhile despite being largely ignored.

Jackson Pollock instills different but equally powerful feelings. I used to believe all modern artists “just throw a bit of paint on a canvas and call it art”. My preconceptions were swept away when I was lucky enough to attend an exhibition devoted to his work. His paintings were beautiful and challenged the way I look at a painting. The search for your inner self is all about challenging your currently held notions.

Music is probably the easiest of the arts for us to accept as an aid toward our search for self-development. How often does a certain piece of music make us feel happy, relaxed, romantic, hopeful, fulfilled? You name it, music hits all the buttons. My favorite music is anything by Beethoven. His music makes me feel all of the aforementioned. He was a man who accepted nothing less than perfection. He sort redemption through his music. Ultimately, he didn’t find it and he spent much of his life feeling alone. But his courage of conviction made his life, and countless others, a better thing. His last words were “Applaud, my friends, the comedy is over.”

Perhaps our greatest inspiration comes from writers. They have helped me, and millions of others, to find the inner self. Life would be a much poorer experience without our great writers. I won’t name all the writers that have inspired me; there are too many. But if there was one thing I would urge you to do, it is to read. If you’re not sure who to read then go to a library and ask! Tell the librarian what it is that you want to experience, feel or learn when you read a book. They’ll help you; don’t let shyness defeat you. If you can’t get to a library then join a reading club on the internet. The one thing I have found is that people, who love to read, love to help others to read books.

So, forget about buying into those testosterone, succeed-at-all-costs seminars, ebooks, and DVDs. Go and look at a painting; or lie on the sofa and listen to music, maybe dance wildly to it, cry with it, make love in time to it; or curl up and read a book that will take you where you never thought possible.

You may not get to where you wished, but Art will accompany you every single step of the way.

When you are in your thirties and still single

Desiree, 34, a freelance interior decorator and a Martha Stewart fanatic, goes on a trip every holiday season to visit her parents in Bedford, Indiana. She usually arrives a week before Christmas Eve. Holidays were supposed to be happy events, but not for Desiree. She dreaded the holiday season which means she has to face the questions again from her own parents and relatives. Family reunions make her feel so uncomfortable because everyone from her teenage niece to an assortment of cousins are already “taken.” That time of the year, she always found herself on the spot for being the only single person in the family.

It doesn’t help to see your own father in the corner looking at you as if he was asking: “What is wrong with you?” Your mother also pretends not to hear the most frequently asked question in the house whenever you have guests: “Is your daughter married?”

Single and unattached…biological clock ticking. This is the dilemma faced by Desiree and the exact source of all her stress and anxiety.

After the holidays, she always ends up with the conclusion that there is no room for a single white female in a family that expects all women to be married; and no room in her circle of friends who all have their own boyfriends and flings. People around her, she concluded, looked at her as someone who kissed dating goodbye.

Yes, there are many Desirees out there waiting for their “someone” to come along. But are they waiting in vain? Career women, once they realize they are not getting any younger, immediately panic and think that they have already been left behind in the game of love. Once they realize that they too yearn for the comforts of a loving relationship, career women begin to take more time for social interaction… hoping to meet someone who could free them from the Single Life. Women, mostly in their thirties, have already realized that “singlehood” has already lost its novelty.

There is even more

Single women are not the only ones who feel this way. Even single parents like Terry, a thirty-something attractive chef, and mother of twins also miss the security and warmth of being in a relationship. Life is tough for her especially since her twin boys miss their father so much.

Photo by Tikkho Maciel on Unsplash
Photo by Tikkho Maciel on Unsplash

But there is always hope for the single and separated.

There is no need to sulk because you are in a “single” situation. At this time in your life, it is good to consider the following recommendations:

Love yourself

Take care of your well being. Pamper yourself. It needs not to be expensive—a trip to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant will do the trick. keep yourself busy like doing volunteer work that way you won’t be staying home always and feeling sorry for yourself. Another depression stopper is listening to music. Listen to soothing music like jazz and bossa nova accompanied by a bottle of red wine.

Shopping Therapy

Women find it therapeutic when shopping. It sounds superficial but even on a low budget, You can get “high” canvassing for fashionable clothes and accessories. Don’t forget that beautiful pair of red shoes.

Stop, Look, Listen

Don’t think you have to join the “race” to find the perfect man. Chances are your Prince Charming might be found in unlikely places and probably caught in between your unguarded moment when you don’t look your best. Don’t try so hard to be with anyone, you’ll just end up being disappointed.

Be with other single women

Just think how “Sex in the City” became a hit t.v series. There is something “magical” when you are surrounded by meaningful single friends. You can get together and have some fun like watching movies or invite them over to your house, eat a home cooked meal and laugh your way out from feeling all alone.

Don’t get in touch with your ex- resist the urge even if you get pressured from family and friends from time to time. Getting back at your ex because you can’t stand being alone especially during holidays is one pathetic move.

Acceptance

Being bitter and resentful only adds to your stress and anxiety. Being angry about being alone, finding the wrong man or being separated won’t help but only add fuel to the fire. Enjoy what you have, no matter how little you have. Accept that being single might have some advantages and purpose. We just get caught up with what other people say.

Get a grip…being single shouldn’t be “the end of the world.”

rekindle the romance

Rekindle romance in your home, it’s not rocket science.

Conflicts, High Expectations, broken dreams, these are only a few things that bring disharmony and stress to a marriage. Sometimes you need to rekindle the romance that you once had.

“A good marriage is one which allows for change and growth in the individuals and in the way they express their love.” – Pearl S. Buck

When two people get married, it means they are making a big commitment. It means they should stay with each other through sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till death do them part. Getting into a marriage relationship is the sign of the fullness of their deep romantic love for each other. Yet, their love for each other is tested in the course of time. First, there would be the adjustment period. All couples go through that. There is a saying that you only get to know the person if both of you are living under one roof.

The routine of everyday life brings unrealistic expectations. Marital disenchantment comes in and it is expressed shortly just after the honeymoon fever wears off. This is the time when imperfections can be seen. Shortcomings can be blown out of proportions. Some eccentric behavior which you found “cute” before now becomes annoying. Aside from your own problems as a couple, you have to deal with in-law relationships, money matters, and certain conflicts which have become the cause of your stress and anxiety.

When negative emotions and actions take over, it becomes the perfect recipe for marriage disharmony. Unless you become aware of your own hurtful attitudes or actions, chances are, you won’t do something about it. Marriage is accepting who that person really is. We only need to practice self-control and learn not to have so many expectations.

The following tips will show you how to bring back that “zest” in your married life:

TIPS ON PUTTING ROMANCE BACK TO YOUR MARRIAGE

1. UNDERSTANDING – We all need reassurance. Reinforce this by showing affection, a simple praise, hug or kiss will do. We should learn to communicate our feelings to our mate. Don’t be defensive. When you have a minor spat…say “I’m sorry.” and really mean it. The sooner you do this, the sooner your mate will stop resenting you.

2. LEARN TO ACCEPT- All marriages go through certain obstacles. The one that you married turns out not to be the “angel” that you envisioned or the “knight in shining armor.” Real love takes a lot of patience. So go beyond your illusions on what or how your mate should be. Rather, focus on yourself and start to make the necessary changes needed to improve who you are as a spouse.

3. MEET HALFWAY- In every situation, especially when you reach the point that you are angry, hurt, and frustrated — you have to learn how to meet halfway. In other words, you must know how to compromise or negotiate. No two human beings are exactly alike. So settle your differences and learn to forgive each other right away. Don’t let the sun go down on you without you and your mate finding the solution.

4. REKINDLE How do you refresh and fix a troublesome marriage? Bring back the love and intimacy. Work on it. Work on your marriage. Like life….marriage is not a bed of roses. You have to work it out with your partner by investing time, love, money, and interest in each other. Bring back the closeness by being honest, non-argumentative, and non-judgmental. Being happy together brings good mental health as well as the physical.

Yes, you and your partner should be on top of everything, be in charge of keeping the romance alive and let your marriage blossom the way it was meant to be. 

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash
Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Character Over Reputation

Political and church leaders, actors and actresses, singers, writers, athletes, professors, engineers, doctors, lawyers and practically everyone (although they may not be even aware of what it truly means) are undoubtedly concerned about their reputation.

Even if we give high regards to integrity and dignity as values taught everywhere in the world, we have been continuously startled by news of moral downfalls. We’ve all heard of government officials being persecuted, famous professional athletes linked to drug usage, popular actors involved in crimes, businessmen alleged to have committed unethical practices, and preachers not measuring up to what is expected from them. Sadly, the list seems endless.

More than ever, there is a necessity for us to instill in ourselves not just good reputation, but more importantly, good character. Most of us are so concerned about our image

roxanne-desgagnes-83273– on how others may look at us. Let me make this clear though. I am not saying there is something wrong in assuring that we maintain a good image. A learned person knows better not to give more importance to reputation than his character. There is a big distinction between the two.

William Hersey Davis has this to tell us:

The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation…
The truth you believe determines your character…
Reputation is what you are supposed to be…
Character is what you are…
Reputation is the photograph;
Character is the face…
Your reputation is made in a moment;

Your character is built in a lifetime…

Your reputation is learned in an hour;
Your character does not come to light for a year…
Reputation grows like a mushroom;
Character lasts like eternity…
Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor;
Character makes you happy or makes you miserable…
Reputation is what men say about you on your tombstone;
Character is what the angels say about you…

We must be able to master ourselves by knowing both our internal and external characteristics. Some people cannot see beyond the appearance, but the few who can see the importance of inner beauty is more sensible.

Let us cultivate an honest heart. It calls for conquering our weaknesses, fears, faults and other undesirable traits. Let us wage a war against our own faults because once we know what we are fighting against, then that will lead us to take the necessary steps in order to overcome such imperfections.

What aspects of life must be given more attention in order to develop an ideal attitude? The answer is good deeds because they endure. They are therefore more important than mere kind words and praises that may pass away like a wind that blows and constantly moves. By developing a good character, you also win for yourself a good reputation. Check out 21 days of Faith and Fearless and let’s build together. 

The Perfect way to be a Jack Of All Trades, I do it well so….

You may be familiar with the saying, “Jack of all trades and master of none.”

Well, I say, “Hooey.” That’s right. In fact, let me say it again. “Hooey.” It is perfectly possible to be a multi-passionate person and do several things well. Many, even. I’m a writer, a mother, a chef, a friend, an entrepreneur. Sometimes not all at the same time, but I do them all, and do them all well. But I think one reason many people can’t do many things well or think other people can’t, is a lack of creativity.

It takes a lot of gumption to juggle two small kids, a deadline on an article, a pan of spaghetti, and a friend who wants to talk about a problem at work.

It takes, even more, gumption, and creativity, to juggle five projects, and those same two kids and that same friend.

Sometimes the creativity is required to figure out how you can manage one thing later. “Eric, I know you want to show your new game to me right now, but actually, I’ve been asleep for about an hour. Could we do it in the morning?”

Sometimes the creativity is figuring out how to handle two projects at once. “Hmmm. If I write an article on creativity and writing, I could use it in my writing ezine AND my creativity ezine.

Sometimes the creativity is in finding a sensitive way to say, “I can’t right now.” “Son, I know you want to play badminton. I have an abscessed tooth and can’t move my head. How about Old Maid on the bed instead?”

And sometimes the creativity is just in remembering that these are people, things, and situations you love and want to enjoy, and then going and enjoying them. Let me TEACH YOU how to maximize what you can do.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
stop being a trash can

Are you a trash can? Do you accept negativity from friends?

Carmen, a client of mine, told me at the end of one of her sessions, “I’m no longer willing to be a trash can for others’ negativity.”

“Wow!” I said. “I’m delighted to hear that! And I love that metaphor!”

Carmen is a lovely, warm, intelligent and compassionate young woman in her late 20’s. Coming from a very narcissistic mother, Carmen learned early in life to be safe from her mother’s anger by listening to her mother’s complaints. She learned to put aside her own feelings and be a mother to her mother. Of course, no matter how much she gave to her mother, it was never enough. It wasn’t until Carmen started her inner work that she discovered was narcissism was.

Early in our work together, Carmen discovered that most of her friends were just like her mother. “ I sit and listen to them complain or listen to them brag. They are never interested in me at all. If I say anything about myself, they always bring it right back to themselves. Why are so many of my friends like this?”

“Because you are willing to listen without speaking up for yourself. There are many self-absorbed people, narcissistic people with entitlement issues, who just love it when someone is willing to listen to them. As long as you are willing to listen to their complaints and support their self-centeredness, they will continue to do it.”

“But if I speak up, I won’t have any friends.”

Photo by Andrew Robles on Unsplash

“Well, you might not have many friends for awhile, but eventually you will find new friends – people who really care about you. When you are willing to care for yourself instead of putting yourself aside, you will attract people who care about you. But this will take time. You need to be willing to lose others rather than continue to lose yourself. Do you think you are ready to do this?”

“Yes! I don’t want to be a trash can anymore. I don’t want people dumping their negativity onto me anymore.”

How do you feel inside when you allow others to dump their negativity – their complaints, their anger, their self-centeredness and sense of entitlement onto you? If you really look inside instead of pushing your own feelings into a closet, you will discover that you feel really lonely with these people. There is no mutual support, no sharing of love, no mutual giving and receiving. You give and they take, and you end up feeling drained and lonely. Yet you hang in there for fear of being alone with no friends or no partner.

If you are really honest with yourself, you will find that it’s not worth it – that you deserve better than to be a trash can for others’ negativity.

It takes faith and courage to speak up for yourself. It takes courage to say to your friend who is dumping her negativity onto you,

“This doesn’t feel good. Whenever we are together all you do is complain or talk on and on about yourself. You are never interested in me at all, and this is no longer okay with me. Either this needs to change or I don’t want to spend time with you. It’s not fun for me and I just end up feeling used and drained.”

When you become willing to speak up for yourself, you will discover who really are your friends and who was just using you. Some people may say, “I’m so grateful you told me this. I didn’t realize I was doing this. Please, I want to stop, and I would appreciate your pointing it out to me next time I do it.” Others will go into denial and say, “That’s not true. I listen to you all the time.” Others will just get angry and go away.

It’s a great way to discover who your friends really are!

goals are good

5 Great Tips To Make Your Goals Your Reality

Goals are a great tool for motivation. But if you don’t use them correctly, they can also be a source of frustration. They are only empowering if they are used properly. So how do you make a goal into something that is a benefit for you?

Strategies are important, especially to help you create the type of success you desire and deserve.

Here are five techniques to help you realize good results.

1. Balance: In your life, you will have personal development, personal finance, and other goals. Don’t neglect any of them. It is ok to want things, but don’t forget to balance those pursuits with your own growth as a person. All of these are important so be clear about all of them and make them real for you.

2. Plan Actions: Goals are not items for your to-do list. It is what you are striving for. Plan specific actions that lead you towards your desired results. Use them to provide your compass for those actions. When you plan actions for the day you can easily tell if they’re going to be effective if you have clear goals to compare them against.

3. Share: If you were an archer, would you keep it a secret that you want to hit the bull’s eye? Too many keep their target a secret. Share them with people who will support and encourage you.

4. Write it: Make your goals real by recording them. Put copies of this on index cards and keep copies in the car and in the bathroom and review them regularly. Make them the center of your focus. Don’t just set them and then ignore them. Your goals are like a compass to tell you which way to go. The exciting part is that you get to chose the alignment of your compass.

5. Don’t Give Up: Don’t be afraid to try something, fail and try something else. Take effective and massive action to meet your goals and understand that any true goals will take many steps to achieve. Sometimes you will make a misstep, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s only those who abandon their direction who don’t achieve them.

GET STARTED!

Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash
Photo by Zachary Nelson on Unsplash

 

Going vegetarian could be the best health decision you have ever made

Vegetarianism

This is an explosive trend. Some people chose to become vegetarian because of health issues, animal right issues or they simply don’t enjoy the taste of meat. There are several types of vegetarians which include semi-vegetarians, who still eat semi-vegetarians and all animal products in small amounts. These type of vegetarians usually eat this way because of a health problem such as high blood pressure, obesity or heart disease. Lactovegetarians don’t eat any meat but include dairy products and eggs in their diet, this is the most common type of vegetarian in Western cultures.

There are also Lacto-vegetarians, who do not eat eggs but still eat dairy. The last and most extreme type of vegetarian is a vegan. This type of vegetarian doesn’t include any type of animal products in their diet, including honey and gelatins. They often avoid wearing clothing made out of leather or wool and only use products which are not tested on animals. Most vegans become vegetarians because of issues concerning animal rights. Some vegetarians will only eat white meats, such as chicken or fish, or will only eat meat that is labeled “free range”, which indicates that the animals were not raised under cruel conditions.

Is it Healthy to be Vegetarian?

A lot of people who eat meat can’t understand how a vegetarian can be healthy. The truth is that vegetarians tend to be a lot healthier than meat eaters. Statistics show that meat eaters are three times more likely to develop heart disease or breast cancer than vegetarians. Meat eaters are also 400% more likely to develop colon cancer. Eating too much meat has also been linked to obesity and excess weight. On average, vegetarians live about 6 years longer than meat eaters.rawpixel-com-256640

If you decide you want to become vegetarian, you have to make sure you are consuming enough healthy foods. A healthy vegetarian doesn’t survive off of white bread and pasta alone. Make sure to include a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain pasta, bread and rice, lots of beans and legumes, soy proteins, tofu, and nuts. Make sure you get adequate amounts of calcium by eating a lot of soy milk, tofu, spinach, kale and other vegetables high in calcium. If you are still eating dairy products and eggs, make sure you are consuming them in healthy amounts.

By switching to a vegetarian diet, you will improve your health and lose weight as long as you are eating the right foods. There is a lot of information on the internet concerning the issue of vegetarianism, so you can find out which type of vegetarianism is right for you.

Learn more about healthy foods and diet tips by visiting  Positive Health Wellness. We would also like to invite you to an extremely delightful journey into Health, and Productive life choices. Just join us HERE.

 

Featured image from Nordstrom.com

A Man’s Guide to Buying Lingerie for his Lady

Most men know nothing about picking out lingerie, which is understandable because it can be confusing. What type of lingerie to buy, what size, what color – how is a man to know? Here is a little guide to help you when choosing lingerie for that special someone.
There are a few things to consider before you go out. What does she like? Remember that you will not be wearing this – she will and you should go out with the intent on getting something she will like. If she is not into Lacey, tiny, see-through teddies, chances are if you buy that, she will not be in much of a mood to wear it and you may never see it. So keep what she likes in mind.

If you do not know, check out her nightgown/lingerie drawer before you leave. Check for material type (cotton, silk, etc.), colors, and most importantly, size. She may be flattered if she wears a large and you get her a small, but if she wears a small and you buy her a large, you may find yourself in trouble. Avoid anything that says “control” on the label. Those items are used to firm and flatten tummies and rears and she would probably not appreciate receiving them as a gift.

Another thing to remember is if the store offers to wrap the lingerie let them. Dainty lingerie will look better in their wrapping than if you wrap it in the paper left over from your cousin’s birthday. The presentation is part of the package with lingerie. Also, if you are uncomfortable in the store, check out online stores that sell lingerie. You can always start at Victoria’s Secret, but most major department stores like Macys and Nordstroms also sell lingerie. Final note – remember to keep your receipt just in case it is the wrong style, size, or color.

Now, what type of lingerie is available?

Just about anything you can think of! Ask yourself what the occasion is. Is this to let her know you love her? If so, something crotchless or see-through probably will not send that message. But, if it is for Valentine’s Day or your anniversary, something a little more risqué might be appreciated. Bras alone have many different styles including push-up, plunge, gel filled, padded, underwire, seamless, backless, strapless, open cup, and unpadded.

If you are purchasing a bra and panty set, always check out what she has in her drawer beforehand and definitely make note of the size – of both the bra and panties. Most places sell at least one pair of panties that match each bra, but some will sell several so you can mix and match. It will help to know what type of panties she likes to wear too – thongs, briefs, or high cut bikini.

When it comes to sleepwear, it can be just as confusing. One type of sleepwear is baby doll pajamas. They usually have very thin straps, a plunging V neckline, and are very short with matching panties. You will find most of these made out of silk or satin, materials that always make a woman feel good about herself. But, if she feels her breasts are too big or too small or thinks her stomach is too big, you might want to avoid baby doll pajamas.

There are slips and chemises. Similar to the baby doll pajamas, these are a little longer and a little better at concealing problem areas such as breasts, butt or stomach. They too are usually made of silk or satin.

Gowns are full-length versions of the babydoll. Many are see-through or Lacey and can help put your woman in the mood. Babydolls, slips, chemises, and gowns may also come with a robe.

xavier-sotomayor-191971

A pajama set might not sound too sexy, but if it is silky, and buttons up the front, it can make your woman feel very sexy, especially if she is a plus size (size 18 or larger). Boxer sets have become very popular lately. The tops are tight, with thin straps and usually a V neckline, although there are boxer sets with normal t-shirt tops.

If you are really looking for lingerie to spice up your love life, take a look at Frederick’s of Hollywood (available online). They have been selling sexy lingerie for over 50 years. They have a wide variety of garter belts, bustiers, corsets, teddies (similar to the babydoll, but one piece), crotchless panties, and fishnet stockings – items that may not be available at many stores that sell lingerie.

What type of lingerie you should get your love depends on a lot on her self-esteem. Many big women love sexy little teddies, but some will shy away from them, for fear of exposing too much of themselves. Most stores sell lingerie in plus sizes, which are a little less revealing. If she is really athletic, a boxer set might be something she would like. Thin women will look good in anything, but especially teddies, corsets, and babydolls.

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When shopping for lingerie, try to keep in mind what she likes. If you purchase something similar to the lingerie she already has and in colors you know she likes, it will probably make her happy. But, keep the receipt just in case!

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