Mojo Monday ~ How Do You Celebrate Your Birthday?

Mojo Monday was born in May 2010, so we are celebrating her 3rd Birthday this month.  I wanted to share some of the things she has taught me over the course of the past three years.

She taught me that when you have a dream or goal that you need to set aside the time to do the work to reach those dreams and goals.  For example if you want to be a writer you have to write.  Thinking about being a writer or talking about being a writer some day will not move you very far towards your goal.  You have to actually write.

She taught me more about getting my joy from the creating and the journey, not from the responses I get (or don’t get) to what I created or wrote.   There are important lessons to be learned about the importance of internal approval rather than external approval.

She provided wonderful opportunities to meet, interact and get to know better more of the brilliant and creative Cosmic Cowgirls on the Rodeo, where I also post my Mojo Monday discussions.
She showed me that commitment and applied discipline to a regular practice feels good and can build one’s confidence to say “YES” to other opportunities.

Here’s to you Mojo Monday!

Contemplating birthdays also led me to wonder about how we choose to celebrate our own birthdays.

Do you celebrate your birthday?  Do you make a big deal out of it and throw parties for yourself?  

Or in contrast do you play it down, or (gasp) ignore it?   

Is your birthday a time of reflection for you or is it just another day?  

How does your aging affect you?  Does getting older inspire you to fulfill some kind of bucket list?  

Have you ever had the thought “I’m to old to do ______________.”  

Take a few minutes and watch this very inspiring episode of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls that is about a woman named Ellaraino, who is famous for being an inspirational storyteller and public speaker.

In the interview with Poehler, Ellaraino talks about her great-grandmother’s incredible journey to freedom after being a slave in America for most of her life. At 86-years-old, she learned how to read and write, despite being told by everyone around her that she shouldn’t bother.

Reading and writing she called her ‘freedom,’ and she enjoyed that freedom for over 30 years because she lived to be 116,” Ellaraino said. “Don’t you let anybody tell you you can’t do what you want to do, when you want to do it.”

Amy Poehler offered her own words of wisdom to viewers who may be struggling to achieve their dreams.

“Throughout life, no matter how old you are sometimes you keep telling yourself what you think was supposed to happen in your life is not going to happen,” she said. “And that happens in our lives whether we’re 16 or whether we’re 116.”

Mojo Monday ~ Age Is A State Of Mind…and Body

Tao Porchon-Lynch as photographed by Robert Sturman

On Sunday, May 13, 2012 a woman by the name of Tao Porchon-Lynch was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as the Oldest Living Yoga Instructor.  Tao is currently 93 years old and will turn 94 in August.  She was born in 1918 in a French territory in India called Pondicherry.  Her mother died in childbirth and her heartbroken father immigrated to Canada and left her with his brother and sister-in-law.  Her uncle and aunt raised her and his work in helping to create railroad systems throughout Africa and Asia offered her early cultural experiences with meeting Masai tribesmen, Singapore merchants and even Mahatma Gandhi, who became a great friend of her uncles.
At age 8 Tao wanted to learn yoga. At that time in India girls did not study yoga and when she was told it was unladylike, her response was that if boys could do it she could too, and so she did. Writer Dr. Terry Kennedy shares this about Tao in an article entitled 7 Steps to Crafting An Amazing Life “She went on to study with Indra Devi, and became one of the first women to study under yoga masters B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois. She gave informal classes to friends and associates for free throughout the 1950s and early 60s. Her first paying job teaching yoga was in 1968 when fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne hired her to teach in his Hollywood studio. In 1982, Tao founded the Westchester Institute of Yoga, and has since trained and certified hundreds of yoga instructors. She has also made over 20 pilgrimages to India with her students because she believes that such visits offer enlightenment about the true spirit of yoga.”
Her life journey included marching with Gandhi, working in the French Resistance under Charles de Gaulle and even marching with Martin Luther King Jr.  She also did some modeling and acting in Europe and eventually moved to the United States where she also worked as a contracted actress with MGM in Hollywood during the 1940’s and 1950’s. 
In 1995, she was one of the invited teachers to participate in Yoga for Peace in Israel. In 2011, she shared the stage with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at the Newark Peace Education Summit.  
In 2002 she took up ballroom dancing and has won more than 300 first-place trophies in national and international Fred Astaire competitions.
What does Tao share about living such a healthy and vibrant life into her 90’s?  According to Porchon-Lynch, the first step to harnessing one’s optimal energy is learning to breathe properly. “I show my students that breathing deeply is not just a physical act but a tuning into the power behind all things which can renew and recycle our bodies.  She also shares in various interviews that she does not procrastinate and that if there is something she wants to do she does it.  She stays positive and begins and ends each day with positive thoughts.  She recommends that we all rid ourselves of fear. She has been a vegetarian all her life, eats a very simple diet and credits her years of yoga practice at keeping her strong and healthy.

Writer Dr. Terry Kennedy shares what she has learned personally from Tao and breaks it down into these 7 Steps:
1) Play Your Cards Right ~ Tao is a living example of how to tap into our human potential. We each have the ability to craft an amazing life. As Tao says, “Smile. Don’t look down. Don’t look backwards. Don’t procrastinate. Do it today!”
2) Follow Your Heart ~ Follow your dreams as did Tao in learning yoga even if it was unladylike when she was 8 years old.
3) Find Someone Who Inspires You ~ The insuppressible spirit of Gandhi is felt in Tao’s own work. One of Tao’s favorite sayings is: “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness of ignorance. If you light just one, you’re already on an enlightened path.”
4) Take Care of Your Body ~ Tao believes we all can overcome the effects of aging and control our bodies and minds through yoga and diet.
5) Stay Positive ~ Tao is very adamant about controlling her mental atmosphere. It is one of her secrets to staying young. She believes that whatever you put in your mind starts to decay in the body. She says, “Don’t let fear enter your mind. When someone starts to talk negative, I switch it right around.”
6) Be the Change ~ Tao cares deeply for others and the world. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, she gets involved.
7) Do it today! ~ Tao believes that time is a jewel for us to use and not waste.

Does reading about Tao inspire you?
Is there anything you might do differently in your own life?  Something you might adopt from what she shares about living a vibrant and healthy life?
Here is a wonderful video of Tao speaking about living a vibrant life:

Mojo Monday ~ For Keeps

“With everything the world throws at us, imagine how wonderful it would be if we women could stop struggling with negative feelings about ourselves. This book takes a big step in that direction. Every one of these authors has reminded us that we can be positive, we can face illness, injury, and the sometimes insidious signs of aging, and feel wonderful about ourselves.
And therein lies the heart of this book.”
For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance emerged from editor Victoria Zackheim’s belief that “our bodies and souls are woven into one beautiful and often bewildering pattern, and that life for many women would be less stressful and more fulfilling if we knew how to live in our bodies, accept our bodies, and stop viewing ourselves through an out-of-focus lens.” She writes that “It was my wish to create a book in which women of all ages could write about courage and dignity, about overcoming physical and emotional hardship, including injury and illness, depression and age, and share with you their insights hard-won through that battle we call life.”
She adds in her introduction “Too many of us go through life worrying more about taut stomachs than about healthy aging; we fret more about society’s expectations than our own personal growth. Perhaps this is because, whether we’re young girls or elderly women, we are bombarded by the media’s idea of perfection: lithe young models with perfect skin and smooth bodies too often achieved through eating disorders and fad diets, or older women maintaining that illusion through plastic surgery and Botox treatments. No matter what product a manufacturer is trying to sell, the substance of that message remains the same: Women are imperfect, and, unless we succumb to the hype, that imperfection will thwart our chances for happiness.”
In the book For Keeps you have the opportunity to meet twenty-seven women who share their stories about living through physical, emotional and spiritual challenges. There is great honesty and courage in their tales, which will at times make you laugh and in some instances might make you feel uncomfortable or touch a nerve with you.
One reviewer described the book in this way: “For Keeps is not an easy book to read. It is not about pretty women with perfect bodies who find easy acceptance in a beauty-obsessed culture. It is an impolite, impertinent, irreverent collection of essays written by twenty-seven much-published and gifted writers who are not afraid to tell the truth about the imperfect bodies they have learned to live in–and learned to love.”
Sara Nelson shares her belief in “My Mother’s Body Image, My Self” that our obsessions about the size and shape and appearance of our bodies are often taught to us by our mothers–who may have been obsessed with their own bodies. She writes “I was not angry, at least not then—I loved my mother, I wanted to be close to her, and if that meant worrying, obsessing over how we both looked, how alike we were, well, to my mind that was okay. Our weight and body obsession was what connected us.”
Aimee Liu
“Dead Bone” is written by Aimee Liu who shares how she first became an anorexic, then an “exercise zealot” for whom physical suffering was a path to perfection. She writes “The more my body hurt, the more my willpower gloated. A war was underway, my physical constitution its battleground. Health was no more my real goal than cheap tea was the object of the American Revolution.” A series of disabling injuries at least teaches her a necessary lesson. “My body finally, definitively, forced the message over my perverse will: I could no longer afford the fallacy that pain would make me better.”
Ellen Sussman
 Ellen Sussman shares in her essay entitled “What I Gave Up” how at the excessive encouragement of her father she went from being a “killer tennis player” to being a compulsive competitive runner to the practice of yoga–each transition accompanied by the rupture of a spinal disk. Now facing her third spinal fusion, Sussman can say, “What I hope for is this: that I can live in this body without pain; that I can use it as well as I’m able to; and that my mind can accept these changes with the grace of an athlete.”
“It’s a new experience, living in a body that feels old,” writes Joy Price in “Making Love and Joy in Seasoned Bodies.” “My body surprises me every day: What parts will and won’t work today?” She also shares fun tales about taking on a sixty-three-year-old lover when she is fifty-seven. “How joyful and thrilling it was to cascade into love and exhilarating sex at our age! We were as giddy and frisky as a couple of teenagers but with the added richness of decades of experience and self-knowledge. In fact, it was, and continues to be, the best sex I have ever experienced.”

Do you struggle with self-acceptance?  Acceptance of your body?
Do you think that your views and thoughts about yourself have been affected by your mother or the media?

What is beauty to you?
Who or what has most defined for you how you view beauty? 
Do you still want to embrace this definition?  Or do you want to create your own?

Do you find that your happiness is connected to your appearance?

What do you love about yourself?

What do you love best about your body?
Do you believe that you are beautiful? Why or why not?