How Dare You: Body Shaming and alike

I love scrolling down Instagram, checking out what celebrities are doing and often even reading other people’s comments.  I am amazed by how hostile people can be when they comment on their favorite celebrities.  They really take it upon themselves to defend these people as if they know them personally and I just find that a bit hypocritical and funny.  But one thing that surely hits home is body shaming.

I am personally not a fan of looks that seems to be trending on internet: skinny waste and huge bottoms, lips that scream of botox and ironed out faces to avoid the inevitable getting older.  Maybe I am old school, I can own that, but I am not a fan.  That said, I will not go to any of these accounts to shame any of these women for finding these things beautiful and then featuring it themselves.  It is their choice to do so, I find, and I can choose to follow them and see it or unfollow them and keep my corner of the world free of things I don’t find aesthetically pleasing.

Last night as I scrolled down my Instagram pages, I saw new photos of Meghan Markle (the Duchess of Sussex) and I couldn’t help but read the comments on the page.  While many comments were complimenting her audacity to wear a mini skirt, to preserve her Hollywood style while embarking on a Royal journey, there were many comments talking about her being too skinny, her legs looking like those of a chicken and remarks that she should never show her legs again given what they look like.  I am personally not a fan of the Duchess’ style, but I imagine there is a nicer way to express the dislike.  It’s one thing to comment on liking her choice of wardrobe and perhaps how it fits but entirely another to shame her for how her body looks.  Is it because she is now a “princess” and perhaps better off than most of us that gives us permission to judge so harshly feeling that maybe the Duchess herself would not care?  I am sure she doesn’t, I surely hope she doesn’t read random Instagram comments, but the energy of what we as the audience allow ourselves to do is disturbing at best.

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I grew up mostly having a few more pounds than I wanted to have.  In summer months, I would shred those with ease as I would spend 3 months in my beautiful summer home being in water or on the run non stop.  However, as the winter approached, I would gain a few pounds and while in retrospect I think I looked just fine, I know I was struggling with accepting myself the way I was.  I longed for having a little less curvy body, the one usually women who were very athletic had.  And yes, believe me, people around me shamed me for every one of those extra pounds, often commenting their view on my body whether it was to say I lost weight and looked fine or that I had a few more pounds and should probably take the bread out of my diet.  All in all, everyone, without asking permission, felt entitled to tell me what they felt.  In fact, this atmosphere continued as I grew older and even though my eating disorder, except now people thought I was too skinny and my bones were showing.  What hurt about this the most was not what people said but how blind they were at the pain I was enduring at that time and shame that I inflicted upon myself because I could never find myself right and find my body right exactly as it was at any given time.

As women, we all know people feel justified to comment on something that in so many ways, we don’t have much of a choice about.  Sure, some people are fat because they eat a lot, but some have issues with their thyroid or have been grieving a loved one and have put on the pounds to protect themselves from the pain.   Similarly, some people are skinny because they just don’t like to eat or are afraid to eat or simply, they are having a tough time.  Yes, there is what God gave us and then what we do with that, but in general, without asking a permission to speak about our bodies, none of these remarks are appreciated.  To go back to the Duchess, I was shocked to see how many hateful comments she received because she opted for a mini dress last night to the performance of Hamilton.  It’s one thing to express that perhaps mini dress goes against royal protocol or a dress code (even though one should ask her/himself, what really makes you an expert on this subject) but another to shame her body in any way shape or form just because it’s not your personal preference.

I will tell you the truth, I don’t find so many things aesthetically pleasing and the inner commentary surely comes up for me too – I am likewise human.  But here is the deal, at least for those of us who are adults: clear that thought before you go run with it and especially before you post it on social media for everyone to witness.  This world doesn’t need opinions on someone’s legs but compassion for the work that is being done.  The event last night was a charity event for children effected by HIV.  The Duchess got there with the only pair of legs she had, skinny or not.  Please lets put our attention on the things that really matter and stop the body shaming once and for all.  We have the legs that we have, it has nothing to do with who we are.

And lastly, after having 2 children, I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight and I am proud of it.  I have been back to practicing yoga and my body, even though not as strong as it ones was, is slowly getting back in a shape I knew it to be in.  I received comments on looking great given that I went through 2 pregnancies both last summer and this.  These comments made me just as uncomfortable as some in the past commenting the extra pounds or the most recent ones that I could be looking too skinny.  Here is the deal, don’t share your opinion on mine or anyone else’s body.  This is not up to discussion unless someone puts it up for discussion.  It’s is frankly a sexual harassment to talk about someone’s body in any way.  I get it that none of us are blind, we see things we deem pleasing and things that displease us.  You can’t change the inner commentary but you can stop putting it on a loud speaker and even worse, spewing it out in people’s face.  It’s not your place.  Mind your own body and work on your own self instead.

Thank you!

A Sure Way to Screw up Any Relationship, Especially with a Man

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I’ve been watching Suits in the past weeks with my husband.  It all started with my being curious to figure out who the new Duchess really was as an actress because I didn’t have a clue.  Naturally now, I have my eyes on her character Rachel.  I must admit, I was “royally” annoyed by her from the get go, but somewhere in a middle of third season, I could find a clear strong why that I can actually blog about.
The relationship between Rachel and Mike Ross in a show is actually fairly complicated from the start.  The whole premise of Mike being a fraud in general is something that is not easy to carry in real life. Namely, there is no freedom when you know you have to hide.  Surely, this is fiction and the character of Mike had such a sad childhood losing both parents that will probably have audience sympathize with him. 
But here is what Rachel does that lots of women do (and men too probably):  she does what she wants and not what works.  Namely, when she cheats on Mike and he asks her for some space to deal with taking that image out of his head, she continually comes to talk to him to apologize, to explain, to convince him to forgive.  This is the opposite of giving someone space.  And by the way, I know what it’s like to be there, to feel so strongly about something that you feel you just simply must unload it to the person you love, but when someone asks us for space, what we need to give them is space.  
You see, when women say NO and a man keeps going at her anyway, we consider that abuse.  Consider that when a man asks you not to call, to give him space or alike, that not doing that is just as bad.  In fact, the more you do it, the more you are actually proving how selfish and undeserving of a second chance you really are.  People say I am sorry and insist on it to make themselves feel good, not because the “I am sorry” actually helps the other person.  Now, saying it is a good start, it shows you regret what you did and that is a good thing, but repeating “I am sorry” doesn’t repair the mistake made.  Time heals it and taking actions that show you are being different now do too.
Many women are driven by wanting a guarantee in relationships: “Oh, if he can just forgive me, then things can be back to normal,” or “if he promises me to be there, then I can just relax and will do better” etc.  This is normal.  Women need to feel safe in relationships and when that is compromised, we feel a little off balance.  Again, I have been there too.  But our being out of balance is still not a reason to not give someone else something they are asking for, in a case of Mike and Rachel, space.
I say this so often I feel like I am boring everyone, but rest assured, I can back it up with more than a decade of study: we don’t “find” people, we attract them.  So if relationship in front of us is not happening, we are the ones who need to change the dial, not them.  We can’t control other people no matter how tempting that may be.  It’s not possible.  The only thing we can shift is who we are and what we do.  If you want someone to give you a chance in life, when they ask you for space, you give them space.  By doing this, you are proving to be easy to be with, you take no effort and people are most likely going to be OK having you around.  If you keep on insisting on reasons why they should change their mind, even if they take you back, they will always know you are a “royal” pain in the butt and they will not like being around you, for the simple reason: you don’t let them be.
Men, I find, are really good in detecting women around them who allow them to be themselves, who make them look like heroes and the ones that make them feel like they are constantly falling short, and making them feel like what they are asking is not ok to ask for, as if they are wrong all the time.  So when a man says he wants something, no matter how you feel about it, let him have it and then go on and forgive yourself the mistake you made instead of running after him for forgiveness and approval.  If you can do that, something in that relationship may be possible.  Otherwise, it’s a matter of time when it will be over and it will definitely be a drag along the way.
It’s been a while since I actually had to sit on my hands when my fiance at the time, now husband, once asked me to give him a bit of time to forgive something I did.  I remember doing it.  It wasn’t easy but it gave him space to forgive me at his own pace and it gave me space to actually forgive myself because regardless of our relationship, that turned out awesome, my relationship to myself always comes first. 
Please share your comments and if you think someone would benefit by reading this, please share it.
PS I don’t endorse the show Suits.  I loved the first season but then it spiraled down in my view.  Watch it at your own risk 🙂

Royal Wedding – Access to my World

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I woke up this morning to take care of my younger son while my husband took our older to his theater class.  Of course, as soon as I was conscious, I wanted to watch the Royal Wedding.  I know opinions on this are mixed: majority of people will be glued to the screen and some will inevitably not care.  Wherever you are about it is right, I suppose.  Inevitably we all have a view on it and that’s just how it goes with royals, celebrities and people who seem to be the ones setting the trends for all the others.

I grew up in a small country and my mom was well known in my early years – all until I left to study in America at the age of 16.  Somehow being around artists, musicians, writers and other celebrities of my home land had me feel both entitled to mingle in those circles but also living in pretense that I don’t really want that kind of life.  Moving to USA where I was nobody was a rude awakening, I was no longer known as my mother’s daughter but an immigrant who worked hard for everything in life.  While I had a life of a privilege at home, in New York City all my special talents were nothing in comparison to all the talented people who lived here.  None the less, I can’t say I didn’t succeed, I got my Master Degree, studied numerous spiritual disciplines from yoga, mediation and Reiki and was in leadership training where  I was highly effective.  In fact, I felt like I was a front runner in most of what I did, so when I got married a little over 6 years ago, I was even courageous enough to start my own life coaching business.

People I knew for those 2 decades of living in the USA were amazed by my results and I am sure some of my friends from Montenegro.  After slowing down a tiny bit to birth and raise my two boys, I felt ready to scale my business feeling like I knew a thing or two about how to create your own happiness in life.  And then, on my 40th birthday my dad had a stroke at the age of 61.  I began to see how success and failure, happiness and loss were so intertwined that it was difficult to isolate which one of those experiences vibrates the strongest so that I can fully honor it and move through it.  Luckily for years of doing Vipassana’s 10 day silent meditation retreats I am able to move through the difficult parts of life, understanding that things always and continually change.  But this is where fear becomes stronger too because the more I have, the more it feels I have to lose.  I know all the moms out there can relate to this, as our fear drastically increases after we have children.

Why am I calling this blog a Royal Wedding?  Because ever since Kate Middleton, who shares my birth date, married her prince William and I married my husband Jason, I have been obsessing around what it must be like to be in her shoes, to be a royal. Of course, I was uncomfortable with my obsession, even envy, so I tried to set it aside, push it down and not worry about it.  I clearly remember in one of the moms’ groups how many moms were doing the same thing: looking at their kids age and comparing it with George and Charlotte.  Yet, when William and Kate had their third child, I realized, the similarities in our stories are no more and it was time to move on.  That is when Meghan Markle came along – a true American success story, the modern life fairy tale.  Here she was, someone who began to succeed in Hollywood, stands up for woman’s rights and is now marrying a prince.

For days, or even weeks, I tried to not think about it but I was truly uncomfortable, so much so, I even told my husband I wanted to explore my jealousy once and for all.  Watching numerous TV interviews and commentaries on the subject didn’t help either: words like: American, commoner, royal, princess, were all doing a number on me and I couldn’t quite let it simmer enough to see the wisdom that it could bring.  I truly believe that anything we feel, any strong emotion is here to tell us something and that the way to hear it is to be willing to explore it and be with it.  I don’t think people should act out of emotions, on contrary, but I do feel emotions are necessary and full of lessons we need to learn to move forward in life.

Everyone had an opinion about the royal wedding, I even saw titles where people go as far as predicting if this marriage would last or not, when the baby will be born, will Meghan be able to sustain the pressure, but also the boring aspects of the life she is about to embark on.  The more I saw, the more I realized that what we think we know and see and the life they really lead are not one and the same.  Biographies, even when they written in partnership with the person who is a subject are never objective and I believed Prince Harry when he said in an interview: “people think they know us, but they have no idea.” When I recently watched documentaries on Princess Diana, I was shocked that she didn’t seem more confident, outspoken and extrovert given the way people spoke of her.  And also, the scandals over the years with royal family were mind boggling to me drawing me more and more into the life of people I actually will never even know.IMG_6795

All that aside, my discomfort over the past few days in anticipation of the royal wedding was growing.  I couldn’t help but feel encouraged by a story of possibility: a young girl born in LA, already divorced and 36 is about to enter royal family.  Perhaps now all the issues that she deeply cares about will be that much closer to being resolved as she now has a platform, popularity and the means to attend to them.  How amazing that must be to get married not just for love but for the mission that you have in the world, I thought.  And then, the envy hit me again.  It hit me hard.  I discussed it with my husband too and tried to use my own coaching training to get to the bottom of it.  I will never forget a relative who once told me that jealousy was a low vibration feeling and I remember I instantly started pretending I wasn’t jealous.  My mother would call me on it, even make fun of me for it, but deep inside, this wasn’t a laughing matter to me – I actually felt the pain.  And then I realized:  the way out is through, let me let myself allow this.

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I turned on the Royal Wedding.  I so wanted to be there, to be a part of it, to be in Meghan’s shoes only to feel what it must be like to live a kind of life where you truly bust through limitations of the mind, the so-called “upper limits.”  I was hanging out with my younger one, both of us congested, with runny noses, watching the rerun.  Interesting phenomenon, the more I was letting myself be jealous and leaned into the pain I felt about it, the more I started grieving my own lost opportunities.  Suddenly, the finger that was pointing at the royal family, began to point at me and looking with eyes open wide at what I am doing with my life.  I felt  desperate at first: I am 40, I am happily married and love my husband and my 2 boys, what is it that I am still longing for?  I wanted the attention, the status, the privilege and the more I allowed myself to want it, the more my life looked like I can never get to it.

As Meghan walked down the aisle and the camera showed the picture of her mom crying, I felt the emotions of change, letting go to receive, growth, life.  Suddenly, I no longer witnessed royals and celebrities but people and then I didn’t see anyone at all, I saw myself and my desires to contribute, to be more and do more.  Instantly, I allowed myself to melt into that everything I see is my own creation and it had me feel deep in my bones that whatever people say or think about me – which often stopped me dead in my tracks – is really their own creation.  I was free.  I am free.  I can’t be 30 again, I can’t change who I am or the life I led so far, but I can make the most out of what is left.  After all, this is what I tell all of my clients and was brutally humbled into feeling it myself.

I could’ve waited to write this blog another day, spent time perfecting it, but I realized, it is when we wait that we experience life passing us by.  After watching a royal wedding today, I got reminded that we create our life and our own modern fairy tale every day and if there is something we can do to move through our emotions, to speak our minds, that we should not wait another second to do that.

To all of you who read messy blog, and regardless of how you feel about the royal wedding, what do you now want to do that you absolutely don’t want to put off?