"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Steps toward Greater Health

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know that four months ago I embarked on a major life change - my diet. Although it's a road that I took 20 years ago and lived by for quite a few years, I fell off the wagon so to speak. This time I'm back on the road with every intention of making it stick.

The change in my diet started primarily as a weight loss goal, but has mutated into a much higher goal - good health!

My food plan is not the normal way of nutrition according to our culture. I do not eat sugar, dairy. I eat very little wheat and only whole wheat. I eat no animal products - that includes meat, fish, dairy, eggs or anything else that came from something that walked.

So what do I eat? I eat a plant based diet - fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I'm learning to enjoy some tofu but else - that's about it.

I've lost some weight. I've gone down 4 pants sizes but I have a ways to go yet. I figure that I'm about 1/2 way to my goal now.

I have not been perfect. I didn't set out on this journey to be perfect, just healthy.

When I visit my sister for a party and survey their delicious items, I test a little bit - but I focus on the raw food products. My exercise routine - not perfect this winter, kind of almost non-existent - but as the weather improves I'm looking forward to my walks in the fresh air.

I pray, meditate and enjoy occasional yoga with every intention of giving myself more time for those pleasures.

How has this changed my life? Immensely!!!

First of all, I am no longer depressed about my size. I'm not starving myself and exercising like a crazy woman with no success. I know that as time goes on, my body will continue to head toward it's healthy weight. I don't make it an obsession... I just live. Once in a while I notice that my pants are a bit more baggy and then I reach into my drawer for the next lower size. (A little tip - I went out to BJ's and bought 3 sizes of jeans in eager anticipation. It's a great way to chart my progress without using the scale. Besides, the jeans were cheap.)

Secondly, I am feeling so much better! My skin is glowing. My blood pressure is down. My heart beats more slowly. I don't worry about heart attack, cancer or anything that I used to spend a great deal of time ruminating on.

Thirdly, I know that I am treating my body well and it gives me great joy. I am honoring the temple of my spirit and thus performing a great act of self-love.

Fourth, it's an act of worship to honor the body that God gave me. Everything that I eat is an act of love toward God.

My confidence and productivity are growing. I'm embarking on some new ventures and have the energy and mind clarity with which to do it.

Trade off - yes. I don't have that short term "eat that bad food" gratification. I've had to deny myself while I've watched others enjoy what I wish I could be enjoying. It isn't a choice for sissies - but I've done it and I'm really proud of myself!

But I'm only human and I do come from a long line of butchers somewhere in my ancestral heritage! I love meat as much as the next person - but I don't love what meat has done to me. Perhaps I'm more fortunate because I came down with a chronic illness at the age of 27 that has influenced my energy, finances and all manner of my life, and that of my family. I couldn't deny that my health was poor. Modern medicine could not cure me so I was forced to look into alternative methods.

I have to make a decision every day to do the right thing and that's not always easy - especially when I'm traveling or eating with others who will not want to make the same choices that I do.

To keep myself motivated, once in a while I give myself a shot in the arm in the form of a documentary movie or book. Since I love to pass on to you what I am learning, I have a few more resources for you to watch. All are available on Netflix instant.

"Foodmatters" is a documentary then explains the connection between heart disease and cancer and diet. Full of scientific evidence that our current diet is destroying our health along with great tips to take charge of your health in a safe and effective way. Check out the website Foodmatters.tv. You can even watch this video on youtube.

"Hungry for Change" is another movie that will educate you and cause you to take pause at what you are putting in your mouth!

The choice is always yours! It is completely up to you how you want to eat and live. But at the very least, educate yourself. Learn the facts... the REAL facts. You are worth it - and it's great for body and soul!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Finding Oneself

Life is strange. Did you ever notice how you go on thinking you are one person and then one day, out of the blue, you find out you are someone else?

This recently happened to me through a study of my genealogy. Great things can be discovered through one's roots. We all know that our genetic code was determined by our ancestors but I think it is more than that. I think  we carry a spiritual link with them. While we are all unique individuals, I like to think that many of their characteristics and part of their spirits continue to live on in us. We are their children after all... even if it's a few generations back.

Just a few short weeks ago, on my daily stop in to see my folks I was met with a bit of excitement. Apparently I'm not the 100% Dutch girl that I believed that I was. It appears that my paternal line... with a very dutch name was not always dutch! Nope - our name was Sekkel and we were Jewish! Apparently my great, great, great grandfather decided one day that life would go better for him and future generations if he would just do away with the Jewish handle and adopt something more dutch - so he did. His siblings did the same, with different last names! (Love to know what was going on there!)

Anyway, seems I come from a long line of butchers, merchants and a Rabbi! My great, great grandfather met a christian woman and chose to marry out of his Jewish faith. This caused quite a ruckus in his family and apparently he was disowned for it. His father, a rich merchant left the business to his daughter and her husband and my grandfather was on his own. He raised a family and when his eldest son Sake, was 18, he sent him to the US to search out job opportunities. Sake, my great grandpa, sent back for the family to come to America.

Long story short, they all moved to Michigan and started a new life. Out of this line from butchers, merchants, painters and the rabbi came 3 generations of christian pastors!

Unfortunately for my cousins back in the homeland, the nazi's were not fooled by the dutch name. All of the cousins who stayed back in the Netherlands, were wiped out in Auschwitz! From the very young, to the very old, all accounts of our name were obliterated. 30 years after the war, my grandfather went to the Netherlands to find his cousins and there was no one there. Quite sobering to know that my line was preserved. This gives me a great sense of purpose to really make something out of my life.

And a little more juice - the Marx brothers were my distant cousins... hmmm

That's my story. What's yours? Do you know it? Have you checked out your ancestral line?

Most of us have an old aunt or parent in the family that enjoys the chase... This week spend some time and find out more about your roots. It's a fascinating experience and great for the soul!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Website Launched!!!

Arthur's website is now launched.... I was in a bit over my head there for a while... but I did it! I pulled off putting this one together... Check it out here.

My fine art website is coming together - don't judge - not done with it yet - but you can see it here.

ok, I'm working on a few more BIG launching projects now.... will keep you posted!

Until then.... keep on keeping on. Spring is coming!!! Anne

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In the Works

My sincerest apologies to all my faithful blog readers for being absent for the past 2 weeks. Truth is, I've been on this tremendous learning curve - taking an HTML class and working on a few new websites.

The first site is for my teaching partner and friend Arthur Levi Rainville. We will be launching it in a few weeks so I will let you know when that happens. He will be giving away a free gift that you won't want to miss!

My second venture is a lot bigger and it's going to take me a little while to get it going - but all you artsy people out there are going to LOVE it!!! This website will give you lots of play time and instruction in the arts at a steal of a deal! Designed especially for women, this website will give you great tools and lessons to discover your purpose, joys, and life through creativity. If you would like to develop yourself as an artist or at least become more creative this site will do just that and so much more! It's all about expression...That's all I'm going to tell you for now, but men, don't despair - I have a feeling that you'll enjoy this website too! I will let you know when I'm ready to launch....

So while I'm expanding over here (not physically thank goodness), embrace all life has to offer! Talk to you soon!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Passing it on...

I read something this morning by Leonie Dawson that was so beautiful that I decided it had to be my blog entry today. At the end of my life... this is the kind of woman that I want to be. The one the stands in grace and love and brings gratitude in all she touches. Here's the link. Enjoy! http://leoniedawson.com/the-secret-of-the-elders/

Friday, February 8, 2013

Be the Hero of your Own Story

Do you star in your story or have you given over the reigns to someone else? Do you live life according to your gifts and personality, or have you abdicated your throne to others? Are you waiting for other people to recognize your gifts or promote you to the place that you always knew you were meant to be?

Wow, that's a loaded question isn't it? Think about it a moment.....

Is there something deep inside of you that hasn't yet come out? If so, why?

Is it because you don't feel that what you have to offer will matter? Or perhaps you are looking around at all the others that can do it better! This is a HUGE problem on the internet. Our need to compare ourselves to others can get the best of us as we view their lives and accomplishments on their websites and Facebook pages. It's so easy to feel "less than". The problem is too that we see these things in the context of a very superficial, external relationship whereas if we were close to that person in physical proximity or sharing we might see their struggles and not be so tempted to compare ourselves and come up wanting.

Do you have great anxiety when it comes to sharing yourself? Does it matter to you SO VERY MUCH that you can't even really get started? Rest assured, it is very common if not the rule rather than the exception to be afraid to go after your dreams. Our dreams are tied in so closely with our hearts that it feels that if we put ourselves out there and our dreams don't materialize, it will be a pain too great for our hearts to bear. The trouble is that NOT putting ourselves out there is also a great pain to our hearts. If you can't win in either case, I would recommend going for your goals.

Finally, are you waiting for someone else to promote you? We all fall into this trap and I think it is because we are conditioned at a young age in school. We wait for the teacher to recognize our gifts and give us a good grade or an opportunity to express our "song". We look to our peers to see our talents, applaud them and then we have the "guts" to move ahead on the road to fulfillment.

But here is the problem and I know you are all smart enough to know it.... people are more concerned about themselves and THEIR song than they are about yours! We people are as a rule pretty self-centered and insecure and we are thinking more about how we can promote ourselves than others. Sometimes you will find someone pure of heart that has your best interests in mind but not too often. And really what we must think about is... whose job is it to promote us anyway?

I spent a bit of time in a pretty "authoritarian" structured "ministry" (a term which I will use loosely). One of the premises of the organization was that you must come in and serve the leader of the institution. If he decided that you were to be promoted, he would promote you - as God showed him. If you didn't get promoted, you were to lead your life thankfully and humbly. A few people were raised to "superstar" status while most worked on the side lines, with a whole slew of wasted gifts and abilities.

Looking at it from the outside, it's easy to see that he was just trying to "stock" his system. Anyone that was too threatening (with gifts and charismatic charm) needed to be "humbled" so they didn't steal the spotlight from him. It really had nothing to do with God!

I didn't last very long in that system. I was singled out after 9 months and told "I had trouble with authority" and put in my place. (This was their most commonly used phrase because authority to them meant letting them have complete control over your life... all of it and never questioning their abusive actions). What they did was squash my spirit - saying it was God. The worse kind of spiritual abuse! It took me 10 years to recover from that year of my life!

But here is what I see now.... I had the gifts IN ME! I didn't have to go there for them to say "I see these gifts in you". They were already there and I knew it. They didn't give me the gifts - God did (although they did want to take credit for them). The irony is that I was active in leadership before that and then in going there I was forced to take on a role that didn't fit me. God gave me a song that is unique to me and he wants me to sing it! Why should I keep it shut down because I'm thinking other people's songs are more lovely? And why wait for someone else to tell me that I can sing in this choir - I get to merely because I have been given a voice!

So, the $20,000 question today is - what is stopping you from singing YOUR song? Is it lack of value? Is it fear and anxiety? Is it that you are waiting for someone ELSE to promote you or give you permission. Here it is then - I give you permission to sing your song! Let it ring out strong and clear for YOU are beautiful and your song is needed in this land.

Start small if you must - but please start! Today is your day to let that song out! It's good for the soul!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Is it too late to....?

For 30 years I've been making a living from my creativity AND bemoaning the fact that many years ago I didn't have the self-confidence to pursue art in college. My last art class was a life drawing class.

I was all of 20 years old and working as a graphic artist at a local print shop. Deciding to pursue my art I signed up for this life drawing class in the state university which was only a few miles away from my home. Having come from a christian liberal arts college I assumed people were draped in robes... oops... wrong.

I eagerly marched into my first class with my large role of newsprint and assortment of pencils and charcoals and before my little virgin eyes was a naked male larger than life... hands crossed behind his head and spreading all fours in the direction of my easel. So I focused on the classical music and the head of the model.

Unfortunately when the teacher would come around, he wanted whole body gesture drawings and soon wanted more detail than I truly wanted to see let alone draw.

I attended about four more classes and then couldn't take it anymore and dropped out.

That was the last time I picked up a pencil or charcoal to actually draw something seriously, until Tuesday when I attended a continuing ed portrait painting class at my local art museum.

Once again I waltzed into the room with eager anticipation. Easels were scattered around the room as we took our place around the center. The woman next to me asked where the model was going to stand and I had a memory from the past - although this time, there was no panicking about a live model. This time my panic was about DRAWING!! It had been SO MANY YEARS since I have even tried to draw. For years I've been relying on my photographs and in my mural business I used a projector to save time and ensure perfect proportions.

The instructor whipped out a skull from her bag and proceeded to explain bone structure in the face, sketched it out for us and now it was OUR turn. I WAS A NERVOUS WRECK!

Happily I learned that drawing is like riding a bike.... it is not a gift that goes away. The core of who you are is still there many years later. I had my skull done in 10 minutes flat while half the class was still struggling over the dimensions. When the instructor came by she said my proportions were good and showed me a few things that I could correct - one being the placement on the paper. She said she would show me how to "frame" an image - which I thought was so funny since as a photographic instructor I teach that to other people. I told her I was so caught up in actually drawing the skull I wasn't thinking of composition on the paper.

I left my class invigorated and quite frankly GIDDY! I hardly recognized myself or my energy level as I sped down the highway singing at the top of my lungs and the bounce in my step was in par with winning the lottery. It felt great to be involved in something so near and dear to my heart, something that I had walked away from earlier in life and yet pulled me back with a sparkling cord.

The moral of my story today....get back out there in the world and do what you love - even if you are afraid to fail. Don't let fear hold you back!

Are there things that you love to do that you just aren't doing because you are afraid? Get back into it - it is NEVER too late and it's great for the soul!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

On a Lighter NOTE... Ready for Love?

Here's a little music to minister to your soul... Take a moment and just breathe....

Tapping your way to Health

Right now - the 5th annual Tapping Summit is going on... for FREE.

What on earth is tapping?

Tapping is a combination of modern psychology and pressing on acupressure points that you can use to find healing in different areas of your life that have held you back. This can be anything from physical pain, anger, anxiety, self-sabotage, weight loss, etc.

I spent the evening last night listening to the test results that support this science as well as working through some of my own issues with the tapping experts via their webinar.

I was very skeptical of both the technics and the results since it just seems strange. Recounting your problems and insecurity while tapping on your body seems more than a bit flaky however in the past five years studies out of Harvard Medical school and other studies have shown that it can be a highly effective psychological healing tool. Basically you start by tapping on some specific meridian points while recounting the emotional pain that you are dealing with. Before you begin you assign a number from 0-10. It's amazing that after you have walked through the exercise for a few moments, the number of the stress level goes down.

But don't take my word for it - decide for yourself. Here's the link... Make sure you check it out today for yesterday's topics were on your financial picture and self-sabotage. I worked through both sessions twice and found them very helpful. Each day for the next 10 days, there will be two new seminars coming up at 8:00 PM EST and the seminar from the day before will disappear. Listen to the introductory videos and teachings. You may just become a believer too. http://www.thetappingsolution.com/2013event/

Check it out today... it's super easy, fun AND good for the soul!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Does is SERVE you?

I have a new mantra.... "Does this serve me?"

I don't mean this in a selfish, "please take care of me all the people of the world" way, I mean this more in a "I'm responsible to take care of my own life and attitude" sort of way.

This new thought that I'm injecting into my brain is meant to help guide me along my path of life. It doesn't replace God, but rather, allows me to stop the frantic searching in my brain and tune in to a wiser choice for a greater good. This is how it works....

I go to a restaurant to order food. My ego, my romantic, passionate, deep desiring self wants something really yummy and bad for me. I want to TREAT myself because after all I deserve it... right? A treat would be something that no doubt is full of sugar or fried or has more calories than a normal person eats in a month.

So I ask myself... will these cheesy, greasy smothered chips washed down with an oversized frozen strawberry margarita serve me.   Hmmm... Well, I will REALLY enjoy them so in a way - they serve my immediate gratification button. BUT... ultimately... no. I will have ingested too many calories, my weight will go up, my glucose index will rise and I'll probably get a stomach ache. In the long run if I continued, my cholesterol and blood pressure will suffer and I will lead an unhealthy life.

So when I ask "Will this food serve me?" my answer is NO. What would serve me is something alive and whole... fruits and vegetables. These will serve me because I will be in greater health emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Ok, let's play it again. You can ask it about anything. "Does this attitude serve me?" You are angry at someone and want to say the meanest thing you can think of.... will it serve you? No, probably not - they will just get mad and fire back at you which will make you even madder and you will end up getting into a huge fight that may not get resolved.

"Does this relationship serve me?" This is a bit tricky because if relationships are about LOVE we are not looking to be served. We can't ask if our relationship with our kids SERVE us... that's crazy. However, there are different aspects of every relationship that must be evaluated and made better if at all possible. "Does it serve me or my daughter to have her scream at me?" may be a question that needs answering (think we already KNOW that answer).

There are times that we have relationships with people that have run their course or that are destructive. The "does this relationship serve me" question would be a good one there to know where you must shift time and priorities.

More questions to ask... Does using my time in this manner serve me? Does living in this house serve me? Does working at this job serve me? Will staying in bed till noon serve me? The list is endless.

You are not a victim of your life. You have choices on how you will respond to certain situations.

Next time, instead of running on the default mode, ask yourself that question and see if it might spur on some alternative life choices. You may be surprised at the results!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Treat for Women Only

Ok my dear women friends.... I don't want to hold out on you... when I learn about something I like to pass it on. I've been listening to a telejam lately of a myriad of women in business sharing their tips and expertise on things from spirituality to outer beauty, body image, inner beauty, balance in one's life, sexual satisfaction... etc. It's a holistic approach to a beautiful life... something that I 100% believe in and that I try to reflect in my blog.

So, if you are interested, Tracy Lee Jones has organized and is hosting interviews in 30 minute clips a day. If you are interested here's the link....http://thefemininebusinessmodel.com/?inf_contact_key=4073319fe012306a6739d2fc62f5955996705c37aab3e6ca0a1706a45dd7e1d6

Too Fat to be Photographed?

A friend passed on a great article today written by a photographer who shied away from having her own pictures taken due to her weight. It's a great read.... Here's the link. http://myfriendteresablog.com/so-youre-feeling-too-fat-to-be-photographed/

The above linked article deals with accepting your body but also understanding all the great things that you bring to the world and making sure that you record your time on this earth with joy. If you can't get beyond the cringing stage I have some good tips for you to look thinner in your photographs.

My first tip is find a good professional photographer! A well trained photographer knows how to make you look good, after all if you don't like your pictures, they won't make any money!

The second tip is a high camera angle. You can do it yourself with your cell phone. Hold the camera high above your head and shoot down. This will force your chin up and double chins will vanish while your eyes look bigger. Also if you turn your face a bit to the side a bit it helps even more. You all have a good side and a not as good side (notice I didn't say BAD side) so see which one that is by experimenting. In this picture taken of me last summer on my birthday I was 30 pounds heavier than I am now but because of the angle, you would never know.

Below the two pictures were taken on the same day - look at the difference in my face.... one looks quite round and the other more chiseled. The strength of my smile also played a big role in the look of the image. I wasn't able to get the best camera angle since I was trying to get the words of the sign in the picture too.

I semi hate to admit it, but heh - I've used "liquify" on my photoshop to the point that I've become quite good at widdling away quite a few pounds not only in myself but in others. The truth is that people are NOT the size of their bodies, it's just a symptom of the standard American diet and lack of activity. Maybe it's a sign of their age and sedentary job. It does not reflect their spirit or their true essence so when I take someone's portrait the first thing I do is find their most complementary angles. If taken with others, I will use a bit of body blocking, I will shoot from a higher angle and if need be I will tuck in the waist on my photoshop. I might even slim the arms or do something about a bit of extra flesh on the face. No one has ever said "you made me look thinner". They have naturally thought that they looked like that because in the mirror - they do! 

I had a personal trainer say to me once that it was important to take pictures of yourself as heavy because our minds do not adjust to our larger size, we still think we are smaller than we are. It's kind of a reverse anorexic issue.

Last summer I took some great liberties on my own body for the above art piece. I love it and to me, it captures the true essence of my nature. My parents took a look at it and commented on how that image wasn't me... but it really WAS me and the truth is, at this point if I were to have another image taken on the beach, I would look MORE like the above picture than not. Size changes but the essence and spirit of someone doesn't.

Like I said yesterday, we are really not out outside packages. Outer beauty is great! I LOVE beautiful people and I love to photograph them! And here's the truth of the matter, I have not met ONE person in all my years of professional photography that I haven't found to be absolutely beautiful! Yep, every one of God's creation is beautiful. There's usually a gorgeous smile that reveals their marvelous spirit or a twinkle in the eyes. Some have flawless skin while others have beautiful hair. I find the beauty and then I play to their strengths. 

Here's another amazing fact, I have very rarely encountered someone who actually BELIEVES that they are beautiful... no matter how gorgeous they were! I've sat through sales sessions where perfect teenage girls would pick apart what they perceived as their flaws like "my hips are too big" when they were a size 4!!! It's really all a perception thing! We carry so much shame over our appearance. We all know too that it comes from fashion magazines with photoshopped models and movies with the most beautiful people alive appearing in them. The truth is that most people don't look like them! They won the genetic lottery! We all know that in our heads, but in our hearts sure wish we had a piece of that... as if it would magically make our lives better.

So there you go. Between the article of a fellow photographer and mine you now have NO excuse not to record your time on this earth through pictures! Celebrate you... ALL of you today... it's good for the soul!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fighting the weight barrier

I know I haven't written in a little while so I should update you all.

I went and received my award feeling very beautiful. I had a slew of new clothing to wear and enjoyed picking out my outfits every day. I was proud of my 3 month vegan life and the results that accompanied it. Here's the picture of me with my friend and creative co-hort Arthur Levi Rainville and Tim Walden, the current president of PPA. I was so glad that Tim was president right now as I had the opportunity to get to know he and his lovely wife Beverly a few years ago when they spoke at our state convention and I was their chauffeur. Very kind down to earth people.

Oh yes - but this is about ME... :).  Alright, here is where I get brutally honest. I share these things because we all struggle with different aspects of our lives and this is one of mine.

So here's the problem people. All in all I did EVERYTHING I set my mind to... but I'm not satisfied. Why? When I look at the picture I don't see where I came from... I see where I have to BE. I was hoping that 3 months of denial would show more visible benefits. I'm still not rocking my body. Furthermore, I've hit one of those dreaded plateaus this month where I'd be surprised if the scale has even tipped down although I'm being completely faithful to my food plan. 

Furthermore, for the most part I stuck to my vegan ways at the convention which was a VERY difficult thing to do! When at the great restaurants I ordered things like side orders of baked potatoes and veggies or whole wheat pasta with marinara and mushrooms or chinese vegetables with tofu and brown rice. Breakfasts consisted of fruit and granola. I indulged in 1/2 a dessert one night but left the rest and on the final night I enjoyed some rack of lamb and some bubbly since I decided that would be my celebratory night at my happy dinner.

To be fair in the busyness of life, I have let my walking and my gym going lapse and I suppose that is equally as important but I would have to believe that giving my body nutritious foods would tip the scale in my benefit even if I didn't have time for the daily sweating activity.

Now that life is back to normal - meaning my daughters are back in school and in their routines it will be a good time to get back to my exercise routine.

How are you all doing on this? Did the holidays throw you for a loop?

I read an interesting article today that I am attaching the link for. The struggle with weight is a real one that can leave people feeling out of touch with their bodies. After all, we are judged in this world partly by how we look. People think you don't have your act together if you are overweight. Beautiful people get way more love and kudos then those who are not quite as blessed in the looks department. Opportunities abound for some and escape others. The world does not judge by your inner beauty but by your outer appearance. It's sad but true. http://www.xojane.com/clothes/i-know-the-line-between-straight-and-plus-size-is-fictional-but-crossing-it-feels-super-real

The good news is that we can be the change agents in our little world. We can look past appearance and get to see the inner jewel that is inside every one. Status and beauty are merely decorations. There's nothing wrong with them, but they are not the whole picture. As we age, we all lose our beauty and soon our status fails too as we appear to outlive our usefulness in the world (in other's minds or maybe even in our own). We are here for such a short time but in that little window we can love others with a love that celebrates each soul's individuality. 

If the mirror doesn't reflect what you feel inside - work on sharing your inner beauty with the world.... it's good for the soul!