Category Archives: beauty

Mojo Monday ~ Pacing Ourselves

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A message has been repeating itself this past week.  I am listening.  

I heard it first last weekend during an amazing workshop presented by Cosmic Cowgirls that featured Lyz Anzia, human rights journalist and found of Women News Network.  The Women News Network has dedicated itself to bringing global attention to the needs and empowerment of women through online news journalism.   

During the workshop one participant asked how do the journalists covering difficult subjects about such human rights issues which include stories about sex trafficking, rape, abuse and more, keep from falling in to despair about the many problems around the world.  Lyz responded very clearly that journalists are able to do the work because they know that the work they are doing can help to change such things.  In addition Lys shared that the stories they are writing help to inform 500 UN agencies and NGO (non-governmental organization) affiliates, international offices of legislation, worldwide universities and Schools of Law, as well the public at large.  In effect the articles being written have the power to change laws, impact legislation, and inform people who are in positions to enact even greater changes in their communities and their governments.

Just this last Friday night I had dinner with two dear friends who work on the front lines with people in crisis.  One works for a women’s refuge shelter.  The other has served as a therapist for those with mental health and drug and alcohol related issues.  It is common that the shelter is short on staff and yet the clients continue to stream through their doors.  My friend’s healthy realization is that she is only one person, and she can only do what she can do during her eight hours at work.  My other friend spoke of the high number of 51/50 clients that had been brought into their center recently and then shared about talking to a peer who handles all the cases in a region for veterans who are suicidal.   Again the message was we are each one person and we can only do what we can do.  

In January of this year I wrote a Mojo Monday post called Change and Empowerment.  That post was about how we can be aware of what is going on in the world and being sensitive, thoughtful and caring people, not manage to lose ourselves in all the swirling problems and tragedies in the world.  There are always so many issues from the bees disappearing, to animal cruelty, to thousands dying because of chemical warfare, to people starving or not having enough clean water, to girls being sold for sex, and the list can go on and on and on.  While I don’t believe that burying our heads in the sand is the answer, it also isn’t helpful to the world or to our own well being if we begin to drown in a sea of depression.

When I see someone I know posting on Facebook one tragedy story after another I want to give them a hug in person and gently suggest “Pace yourself my friend.”   Personally I want to be informed of what is happening in this big wide world.  I do care deeply about our planet and all the people living on it.   My heart wants so much for every person to experience a loving and happy life.  I sadly know that this is not the reality for too many living among us.   I know that I have to balance out the harsher realities with uplifting and positive stories so that I am reminded of all the beauty and joy that also exists in our world.  I also think as Lys Anzia so clearly stated in her workshop, that knowing we are doing something to effect change and make a difference in a positive way can also keep us uplifted in the midst of stories and events that are hard to bear.  


The way we make a difference will vary and look different from person to person.  I know that my husbands day job as a middle school science and mathematics teacher impacts the lives of his students significantly.  He even has students who he taught about 20 years ago who have remained in contact with him all these years.  I have worked for a non-profit foster adoption agency for over nine years and working shoulder to shoulder with social workers and therapists to serve the foster and adoptive children and adoptive families has been very gratifying.  I also infuse the writing I do for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine, this blog and the book I am writing with inspiring messages about healing, grace, love and forgiveness.  Other ways I try to make a difference is by eating a vegan diet, signing petitions, making my voice heard about political issues by writing my representatives and so on.  Even though we may earn modest teacher and non-profit salaries we also still choose to donate to causes each year that speak to our hearts.  It may be the local food shelter, a center to help those in need, a family that is struggling, or an animal shelter like The Farm Sanctuary.  

Photo by Michelle Fairchild


I realize that not all the day jobs out there will feel as if they are designed to serve a greater humanitarian purpose, but that doesn’t stop one from having a positive impact on one’s fellow workers or from volunteering or offering one’s services in other ways.  While it may not be the easiest thing to do all the time it is in some ways the simplest, and that is to extend love and kindness to others on a regular basis.

Photo by Michelle Fairchild

Think of some things or images that are uplifting to you.  Do you have these images in your immediate surroundings?  Do you keep things in your environment that bring you joy and remind you of the beauty that exists in our world?

One of the things that is always sure to make me smile are sunflowers.  Sunflowers remind me to breathe. They remind me of the wonders of nature and our planet. They remind me that nothing is permanent and that this is a good thing for life is dynamic. The praying mantis friend on the one sunflower reminds me that my positive thoughts create my world and that beauty comes in all forms.


There are also sources out there that offer up positive stories.  One such site is called Daily Good: News That Inspires.   Just today a friend shared a an article to warm the heart called The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret for Three Decades.  Here is a story about a small group of women who anonymously for many years have done things like paid someones utility bill, bought new clothes for children, donated pillows and linens and personal care products to a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and so much more.  They raised the money by selling pound cakes.  You can read more about these inspiring women by clicking the linked article title.

Other stories of goodness and kindness abound if we look for them or take notice.  There is a beautiful story told in this video about a love letter a man name Fred wrote for his wife who had recently died.  You might want to have a box of tissues nearby as you watch how through the kindness of others his letter is transformed into a song.  




Recently I also found incredible inspiration in a children’s book called Amos & Boris that I read to my twin daughters.  There were some simple, yet profound messages in the book that captivated my heart. Here are some images for you to enjoy.


Mojo Monday ~ A Beautiful Body Project

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A Movement Of Women Rising Up 
To Transform Body Image 
In Mass Media Through 
Untouched Photographs, 
Essays, Audio, And Video! 


A Beautiful Body Project is an upcoming series of book volumes & an online media platform dedicated to women & body image, dedicated to sharing stories about motherhood, aging, cancer, still-births, miscarriages, weigh-gain, weight-loss, dysmorphia, and beyond. 

Lulani #1
It all began when photographer and dancer Jade Beall posted this photo above of a friend of hers that she took in her studio Tucson, AZ.   She had already posted photos of her post-birth body to show the world what she was going through after her son Sequoia came into this world. And through all of this she realized that there were hundreds and thousands of women who also wanted to share their life stories about their bodies! The emails started flooding in and she realized she had to build this project, that it was her calling. 

A Beautiful Body project is movement of women coming together to tell their stories and celebrate their ever-changing bodies so that future generations of women can live free from self-suffering.


Portrait of Jade Beall with son Sequoia.
A few weeks back in a Mojo Monday post called My Body Is Magic I mentioned this project and shared a video about it.  This week I found myself inspired yet again by Jade Beall and her co-creator and husband Alok Appadurai with two poems they shared on Facebook and on the web site for the project.  

Here is the first poem by Jade that will also be featured in my upcoming Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine article entitled The Embodiment of I AM in September.

You can wear makeup
or nothing at all

You can wear heels

or walk barefoot

You can drive a BMW

or take the bus to the store

You can have plastic surgery

or leave your body alone

It all means the same to me:

We are all variations of truthful beauty

I honor you as you choose to be

while I pray for freedom from unnecessary suffering

and I pray for the wisdom of listening to one’s truth

Our paths are unique while uniting as one

One Love!

And there is an urgency for compassion for one another

that begs us to

honor

and listen

and treasure

those around us

While we live our lives

As authentically as the DNA that is being danced

by the beat of our one heart.

-Jade


Here is the fierce and inspiring poem by Alok Appadurai.


Industries are born on the backs of Women hating themselves. 
It’s an emotional slavery that milks these women, dollar by dollar, 
Like chained dairy cows, Oozing vicious droplets of self-hate
That rot the roots of a woman’s inner beauty… 
You see, executive bonuses don’t swell when women feel naturally beautiful
Just as they are. 
You can’t push lipstick, eye shadow, foundation, and blush 
Like crack cocaine or heroin, 
On a woman who sees her true worth, you dig? 

Millions are milked from the financial breasts of women 
Simply by convincing them 
A Grand Canyon exists between them and being beautiful.
Magazines and movies are complicit in this lie that warps all of our minds
into a silent submission prostrating to the Lords Of Media
Who enrich themselves on the suffering of a woman,
as she whips herself leaving emotional scars that don’t have to last a lifetime
but all too often do. 

Diet pills, Spanx, and photoshop are foot soldiers in the war on women’s self-esteem,
hell-bent on their own Crusade to convert unsuspecting teens, or worse, preteens,
into self-critical consumers of false hopes offered by surgeons, photographers, and others
who want to hide, reshape, retouch, or fix what actually isn’t wrong with you. 

Millions are milked from the bank accounts of women who have been brainwashed to believe they aren’t good enough. 
Industries thrive when she looks in the mirror and hates herself just a little more with each day, each wrinkle, each magazine consumed. 

Embodied self-esteem breaks the chains of dependence on products that merely momentarily massage our bandaged egos,
Cutting the umbilical chord of self-suffering that has been feeding their bodies and their brains
with toxic imagery of fake tits and other ideals that are nothing more than comparative trampolines:
Your mind soars on the amphetimes of a shopping spree
yet crashes when the superficial effects wear off. 

Ask yourself this:
Who would buy what is being sold if women actually believed they were beautiful for who they are,
not what they look like?
Industries would crumble. Bonuses would deflate.
Executives would scramble, Board rooms would be abuzz.
What would they do if women stopped buying the lie that they are flawed,  that they aren’t enough?

And the best part of the corporate magic trick to maximize profits built on women hating themselves:
women do a bangup job making other women hate themselves too,
and have become the front line warriors destroying other women’s fragile sense of self. 

You can blame everyone and their mother
or you can believe: It’s time. 

It’s time to close your eyes, ears, and wallets to the pimps of self-loathing
who want you hooked on their drugs that manufacture dysmorphia in your brain.
Self-esteem doesn’t come in a bottle.  You were born beautiful.

There is only one way forward. Women rising up &
Empowering each other to leap into the unknown chasm
of life’s greatest love affair with one’s own self.
Alok_Professional_Cropped.jpgAlok Appadurai is a writer, co-Founder of “A Beautiful Body Project” & “Fed By Threads”, an advocate for animals & the environment, and a proud father to baby Sequoia.


Alok, Jade and Sequoia
Founder Jade Beall has been a photographer, a massage therapist, and an inspiring dance teacher for women for over a decade. Her work is touching thousands of lives around the world. 
More about Jade in her own words:
“A quiet yet profound love for photography took me by surprise my senior year of high school (1996, yeah, a while back) because of an incredible teacher at Tucson High, Mr. Halfmann.  Today, I gather inspiration from poets and local photographers alike, finally finding my true passion for what I call Medicinal Photography for Women a few years ago in 2009.  Medicinal Photography means to serve as an empowering tool to facilitate healing for women to feel beautiful and irreplaceable, just as they are, without need of digital alterations.
I have taught weekly dance classes for self-empowerment with live drumming for over a decade, I run a made in America sustainable clothing line that feeds Americans in need with my husband.  I in-joy listening to people and looking into their eyes and seeing THEM, the real, beautiful them.
Becoming a mother in February of 2012 brought forth this Beautiful Body Project.  Through this journey that motherhood in all her glory and raggedness has generously gifted me came a new-found desire to connect to other women on a much deeper and more meaningful level.  This inter-connectedness, this unity with other mothers and other women has been one of the most precious gifts of all (besides my gorgeous and perfect son, of course).”
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Please visit and explore the web site for A Beautiful Body Project.
You will be inspired and moved by the stories and the images.
Do you feel inspired by this project?
Does it have any impact on how you view yourself?

What are your thoughts about accepting and loving your body ~ imperfections and all?


Mojo Monday ~ My Body Is Magic

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“I like my body because it’s magic.” – 5-year-old Sofia (aka Lola)

Interrupt Magazine published an article that caught my attention.  Writer Marie C. begins by sharing a startling statistic.  “By the age of 13, 53 percent of girls say they are unhappy with their bodies. When were they happy?”

In order to find out, Marie C. photographed and interviewed girls between the ages of four and eight and asked them what they liked about their bodies. These girls share wisdom the rest of us have forgotten.


Sharing this article was already on my agenda for Mojo Monday.  Yet I took note last Saturday during a water aerobics class how many women were making critical remarks about their bodies.  Comments were made now and again that reflected how many of the women wished they looked different.  A part of me wanted to address the whole group and ask “How many women here like their bodies?” I had a strong intuitive sense that most of the women would not have responded positively.   


Consider the wisdom in the answers of these other young girls when they were asked what they liked about their bodies.



“I like my body. I like my eyes because they help me see different things. I also like my hands because they help me write different things. I also like my feet because they help me walk and have fun. My name is Jeniah and I’m 8-years-old!” – 8-year-old Jeniah



 “My whole body I love I love.” – 4-year-old Layla


“Something I like about my body is how fast I can run,
and how healthy I am.”
 – 9-year-old Lana


“I like that I can move with it. I like that eyelashes are long. I like that my skin is half white and half brown. I like that my hair can shake.” – 6-year-old Bayan


“I like my hands they help draw.” –  6-year-old Laila


“My body is magic because…
…of my bright green eyes that are soulful and shine.
…of my ability to float, glide and swim in the water like an otter.
…of my big smile that is warm and toothy.
…of my hands that can transform my creative thoughts into art and written words.
…of my strong legs and big traveling feel that support me well.
…of my arms that give comfort, bug hugs and serve a volleyball fast and hard.
..it provides me with the tools to live and love this life.”
 –  44-year-old Michelle Ida Fairchild

Now it is your turn.  
List some things that you love about your body.  
How is your body magic?
Take a self portrait.
The photo(s) can be your whole body
or of parts you particularly love.  

Lastly, be sure to embrace yourself as your own beloved.

Come learn more about A Beautiful Body Project
and watch this video for a very inspiring experience.






Mojo Monday ~ A Peaceful Place

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This week’s Mojo Monday was going to be about one subject, but fresh inspiration struck as I lay underneath our majestic oak tree, feeling very content to see blue skies, sunshine and listen to the various bird calls and tweets that fill our back yard with sound.  


For many years now I have found myself entering into a peaceful zone when I garden and work outside in the yard.  When I was single I spent many hours in my yards and I filled them with flowers and colorful garden art.  My yards in the past were small to modest in size, yet I still managed to spend hours and hours wiling away the time and enjoying digging in the dirt.  When my husband and I bought our first home together we were fortunate to find an older home, built in the 50’s, in a neighborhood where most homes have very generous yards and with existing trees and plants.  Our back yard, sometimes referred to as the Fairchild Park by some family and friends, is home to a majestic oak, a giant redwood, a cherry tree, a plum tree, a pear tree and a pomegranate tree.  We have also added a dogwood, a miniature Japanese maple, a red bud and other various plants and a stone patio.  

This past week our neck of the woods saw rainy day after rainy day.  I don’t normally complain about the weather and I usually appreciate each season for its own unique beauty and the gifts it brings with it for our natural world.  However I was beginning to long for some sunshine.  Saturday morning arrived sunny and gorgeous after a long rain all night.  My morning began with taking care of some overdue chores like cleaning bathrooms, cleaning a cat box, getting some laundry going and cleaning the kitchen.  After several hours of chores I began to feel grumpy and irritable and I looking longingly out the window.  When I finally headed to our backyard to do some yard work there were still vestiges of the doldrums hanging on.  As I began to plant some new flowers I’d been given for my recent birthday, and as our whole family worked together to finish clearing up some downed limbs into the green waste can or our wood pile, all the gray feelings dissipated and my disposition grew as sunny as the day.  


After hours of hard work I grabbed a refreshing beverage, a magazine to peruse and I went and lounged on a patio chair.  Ahhh, “Now this is the life!” I thought to myself.  I also ticked off in my head the many of the ways I am so incredibly blessed in this life.  

Now before life in the Fairchild household begins to sound unbelievably idyllic and peaceful I feel it only fair to share that there are times when I am in the “zone” of gardening and my twin daughters will scream, cry or begin to fight over some game they are playing.  Shrieking children do not really fit into my peaceful garden world and this can be a struggle for me.  Whining and shrieking children have the same affect on me inside the house too.  In my perfect world I would be grooving to good tunes, painting, writing, gardening, dancing, swimming (let’s ignore the fact we don’t have a pool) and enjoying a peaceful environment. We can’t always have that perfect peaceful world, especially when we share our space with significant others, children and pets.  

When I really begin to struggle with a chaotic (and messy) living space that sets my nerves on edge I try to take deep breaths, remind myself of what is really important, remind myself that this particularly annoying situation won’t last forever and if all else fails I can choose to do one of several things.  1) Engage the children in laughter, dance or some such fun to change the energy and mind set in the room.   2) Go outside to soak in the natural world or at the very least look outside.  3) Take a brief time out in my bedroom or my art room.  4) Retreat to the bathroom and hide for 5 minutes.  5) Grab a book, run a hot bubble bath and have quiet time reading for an hour.     


I have also contemplated for many years the following quote:  “peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” 
~ unknown

When I consider this quote I know that I have a ways to go in being able to remain in the peaceful mind set no matter what is thrown at me.  


Do you have a peaceful place?


Is it a place that you can count on to help you relax and/or feel rejuvenated?


If you are feeling anxious, stressed or unsettled are there things you do that help you to relax, unwind, or feel better?


What if you are in a funk or feeling grumpy?  Are there things that lift your spirit and help to center you again? 



All photos from the “Fairchild park.”

Mojo Monday ~ Am I Pretty

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My most recent article in the Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine is called Am I Pretty?
One of the quotes I ask readers to contemplate is from
Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD:

“Destroying a woman’s instinctive affiliation with her natural body
cheats her of confidence. It causes her to perseverate
about whether she is a good person or not, and bases her
self-worth on how she looks instead of who she is.
It keeps her preoccupied , colors everything she does, plans, and anticipates.
It is unthinkable in the instinctive world
that a woman should live preoccupied by appearance this way
.”
Come read the complete article over at the
Cosmic Cowgirl’s Magazine by visiting this web link:

Mojo Monday ~ For Keeps

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“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?