Are You Beautiful?

What the Sages Say about the True Essence of Beauty

Poets and philosophers have tried for eons to define what makes a woman beautiful. More recently, doctors and scientists have weighed in. One California plastic surgeon, Stephen Marquardt, M.D., even produced a mathematical formula to describe the perfect female face, calculating its proportions as a series of consistent ratios.
 
But beauty is more complicated than a set of numbers. We have all met women who by conventional standards (and Dr. Marquardt’s formula) shouldn’t be beautiful, but undeniably are. Some cultures recognize this with a term like jolie laide, which translates literally from French as “pretty-ugly” and is used to describe a woman who is not predictably pretty, but still irresistible.
 
Let’s see what the wise women (and men) of history have to say on the subject:
 
Francis Bacon, scientist, philosopher, politician, writer and all-around brilliant 17th century British gentleman
“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”
 
Marie Stopes, early 20th century British scientist, sex-manual author, and early feminist
“You can take no credit for beauty at 16. But if you are beautiful at 60, it will be your soul’s own doing.”
 
Coco Chanel, 20th century French designer, founder of Chanel
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”
 
Salma Hayek, contemporary Mexican-American actress and producer
“People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”
 
Lady Gaga, contemporary American singer, songwriter, actress
“You define beauty for yourself, society doesn’t define your beauty. Your spirit and your faith define your beauty.”
 
Steve Maraboli, contemporary American behavioral scientist, author
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
 
Can any woman be beautiful? The answer is, of course, yes, but it takes that uncommon mix of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-confidence. Perhaps that is why beauty is a quality more often associated with grown-up women, rather than pretty young girls. 

 

7 Confidence Hacks to Get You Back on Track Fast

Try these Confidence Boosting Tips the Next Time You’re Feeling Low

It’d be great if we were all born supremely confident and stayed that way, no matter the circumstance, no matter a bad hair day or whatever else happens. But that’s not real life. Most of us can benefit from what I call confidence hacks – tricks to get us back on track when we’re feeling a tad low. Try a few of these and see if they work for you.
 
Exercise
Feeling healthy and vital goes a long way toward feeling confident. Besides, exercise tends to instantly boost mood enhancing biochemistry. Something as simple as walking is great, but sweat and strenuous effort seem to work even better. Think running, kickboxing or maybe even CrossFit.
 
Imagine it
Researchers call this the “best possible future” exercise. It’s a cinch: close your eyes and imagine living the life of your dreams. Get as detailed as possible: imagine what you’ll wear, where you’ll live, your work situation and anything else you desire. Even 5 minutes a day of this will put your mind in a future-is-so-bright-gotta-wear-shades state.
 
Use the Body/Brain Link
Remember, you gotta walk the walk. Practice standing tall, shoulders back, head up and your body will help tell your brain that you’re confident. This is in the “fake it until you make it” realm, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
 
Speak with Kindness
First you’ll start with yourself. Nothing, absolutely nothing, deflates confidence like harsh, negative self talk. So just for one day, pledge to conduct a kind inner dialogue with yourself. If you catch yourself in negative self talk, stop and gently return to giving yourself a break. See how you feel after the day.  Most people feel much happier and more confident. If you’re kind to yourself, you’re more likely to be kind to others too -- a confidence booster in itself.
 
Volunteer
When you volunteer, you take your mind off of yourself while you pitch in and help someone else. Many volunteer positions also offer an opportunity to hone real work skills and further develop confidence-boosting social skills. Plus studies have shown that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates and lower rates of depression. Consider which causes and issues are important to you and volunteer for organizations that are in line. Find out how to volunteer by visiting the organization’s website or call their local office. Or go to www.volunteer.gov for a wide variety of volunteer opportunities in the U.S.
 
 
Surround Yourself with Support
Nothing saps confidence like hanging out with people who tell you you’re less than great. Do everything you can to surround yourself with kind, supportive people. With this in mind, take note of how often you criticize or belittle others. Do everything you can to stop criticizing others and start supporting. Live this way and you’ll probably see a whole lot more support coming your way, which always translates into confidence.
 
Use Music
One of the oldest tricks in the book: boost confidence by listening to music that inspires you. Maybe combine old-school like Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive and songs like Sara Bareillies’s Brave. The playlist will be highly personal. Need help? Start by searching Pandora or Spotify for happy and inspiring music. 

Eight Books Every Woman Must Read

Stories of Truth, Beauty and Courage

I admit it: I’m a compulsive bookworm with eclectic tastes. I’m currently listening to a book about a wacky physics theory and I’m reading a novel set in the 1940s about a family of mixed raced singers. Between these two, I peek into the pages of a memoir written by a life coach as well as an experimental book of poetry/prose. So of course my mind whirred when asked to write a blog post about the books I thought every woman should read. I know I’ve missed many great books. In fact, though I love fiction the most, I’ve concentrated on nonfiction here. When I consider what every woman should read, I think of truth, beauty and courage. Great nonfiction mainlines these themes, at least the nonfiction I’ve selected does. You may not love all of these books as much as I do, but I promise you that each has an important message. No waste of time or money here…
 
Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change
By Pema Chodron
You don’t have to be a Buddhist to love Buddhist nun Pema Chodron’s wisdom. I recommend all her books (I especially enjoy listening to the audio versions), but in this book she offers methods for embracing chaos, confusion and uncertainty. Chodron’s point is that we can use challenges as a path to greater awakening.
 
Raising Elijah: Protecting our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis
By Sandra Steingraber
Sandra Steingraber, a brilliant scientist and mother of two young children, links the private world of parenting to the public world of environmental policy-making. She expertly shows how the ongoing environmental crisis is a crisis of family life. I read this several years ago and it forever changed my perspective. A must-read for all the mamas out there!
 
Dying to be Me: My Journey from Cancer to Near Death to True Healing
By Anita Moorjani
Author Anita Moorjani relates how, after fighting cancer for almost four years, her body began shutting down. At one point she says she entered into an extraordinary near-death experience where she realized her inherent worth and what she says was the cause of her disease. Unlike most people in Moorjani’s state, she (obviously) survived. This is her account of cancer, healing, fear, “being love,” and the magnificence of each and every human. Definitely a book for the open minded, but it’s not just for women. I persuaded my husband to read this one – and he also loved it.
 
Rising Strong
By Brene Brown
Brené Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston who spent the past 13+ years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. She says Rising Strong is for the brave and brokenhearted. I think of it as a manifesto for how to stand up after a fall and be better for it.
 
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail
By Cheryl Strayed
In the wake of her mother’s death and her own divorce, 26-year-old hiking neophyte Cheryl Strayed hit the Pacific Coast Trail alone and hoofed more than a thousand miles from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. It’s not the destination, but the journey – as Strayed’s warm and funny storytelling proves. Skip the movie, read this book!

Find A Way
By Diana Nyad
In 2013, 64-year-old Diana Nyad finally accomplished the epic feat she’d failed to do at the age of 30. She swam 111 miles from Cuba to Florida in an amazing show of endurance and human will in fifty-three hours. This beautifully written memoir reminds us to never, ever give up and that we’re never too old to chase dreams.
 
The Beauty Experiment
By Phoebe Baker Hyde
Writer Phoebe Baker Hyde gave up makeup, haircuts and jewelry for a whole year in hopes of revealing something she’d paid lip service to but never quite believed in—her inner beauty. This book chronicles an admirable quest for self-acceptance. It’s a must-read especially if you broker in beauty or if you’d never go out of the house without eyeliner. Just because you read it doesn’t mean you’ll ditch beauty, but her story will open your eyes.
  
Finding Your Way in a Wild, New World: reclaim your true nature to create the life you want
By Martha Beck
Martha Beck is often called the most famous life coach in the world. Here she talks about what you should be doing with your “one wild and precious life.” Sound interesting? Then you must be what Beck calls a “wayfinder.” This book is the wayfinder’s guide to life. Go ahead, be guided.
 

Empowered Entrepreneurship

5 signs you’re ready to start your own business

Whether it was after a grueling week at the office, on the heels of a maternity leave you weren’t quite ready to finish or part of an ever-present yearning for the freedom of making your own schedule, most of us have wanted to be our own bosses at some point. However, as appealing as the flexibility, increased earning potential and idea of not having to answer to anyone other than yourself are, working for yourself comes with its own set of complications. Are you ready to make the leap into entrepreneurship?
 
Here are five signs you might be:
 
You’re passionate
Whatever it is you’re planning to do, you’re super psyched about it. This is important because the only way you’ll have the energy to springboard yourself through the inevitable rejections that will come on your path to success, is if you have total confidence in your game plan. On that note…
 
You have a clear and concise game plan
Building any kind of business requires putting one foot in front of the other in a planned direction. Sure, there are bound to be unexpected curves in the road and you may need to readjust. However, no business thrown together on the fly yields its optimal results for the long haul. And the long haul is what you’re in for, which brings us to, our next clue:
 
You know how to manage time and expectations
It’s not just that you need to have time in order to succeed as your own boss, it’s that you must know how to use your time wisely. A day will undoubtedly come when your flexibility gets misinterpreted to mean your work schedule is secondary. Unless you know how to set boundaries and reschedule around changes, you’ll wind up falling behind, which will cost you time, money or most likely, both.
 
You’re not afraid of risk, success or failure
Starting off as an entrepreneur is never easy; it requires a realistic, but optimistic attitude and general lack of fear. If you’re afraid of failure, you won’t take adequate risk. If you’re afraid of risk, you’ll fall short of your potential – or maybe not take off at all. And if you fear success (believe it or not, lots of us do!), you’ll find ways to talk yourself out of doing what it takes to get there. Instead, you have to be operating from a stable place where you’re well informed, take a few calculated risks and are willing to let the cards fall where they may. Which likely means…
 
You’re at least financially solvent
You don’t have to be rich to start your own business. But if you’re looking for a quick return – or worse, need it in order to stay afloat – you may want to bide your time. While necessity is the mother of invention, survival mode isn’t a sound foundation from which to build a business. Don’t cash in your 401-K or quit your day job until you know you can sustain yourself without them.

 
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