Saturday, February 28, 2015

Work It

When I cut new, un-tested patterns, they usually get cut out of ugly fabric, but I was taking a risk here. 


      If you have an artist's brain, or happen to know someone who is plagued with this mindset, you might understand what I'm talking about here.   The thing is-I'm ALWAYS making, constructing, and revising things in  my head. I could be sitting there reading "Fifty Shades of Gray", but REALLY, I would be figuring out if you could cut an octopus shaped hole into the back of a corset and not have it stretch the wrong way when you moved....or something to that effect.  
     It doesn't stop either. I am absolutely exhausted at night, but I'll still be figuring out if we could do a "Narwhal Collection" of corsetry.  ;) I'm happy for this gift, because it makes me good at my job, but I honestly think there is a heavy burden carried along with it. Ever notice how the most talented poets and painters throughout history are bat-sheep CRAY-Z?   Ever wonder why there can't be a mega-music star that leads a simple, clean life? I've wondered the same dang thing.  Does the art make the crazy, or does the crazy make the art?
Sleeve Number One. Holy Night...it actually worked out on the first try, and I ACTUALLY remembered to cut a DOUBLE of the sleeve! (*traditionally, I'll cut a pattern, sew it up, and think, "Woah....I'm a rock star of pattern making!" and then realize that I didn't make a "pattern" of the piece I just sewed, thus I have to carefully cut it all back apart, stretching the seams, and jacking up the base pattern. 
        Lately, I've been endeavoring to focus very clearly on things that CHARGE me full of energy and zest, rather than draining my life force. I was able to pinpoint SEVERAL things that started me rolling down a hideous cliff, and then turn them around.  This goes for people as well. If I interact with someone, and I'm angry and bent out of shape for days afterward, in my opinion, this is my body telling me to get the heck away from that person and stop letting them take up valuable brain space.   I made some BIG changes in my company (whereby I received more disappointed emails than I've ever gotten in my life) and I spent so much time just wallowing in uncertainty and self-pity that I physically and mentally couldn't do my job.  The energy was gone. I wasn't trusting myself and my inner voice to guide me. I had a little bit of a breakdown.
       I'm still not sure how I pulled out of the haze, but suddenly, I want to CREATE again! I wrote down about a HUNDRED ideas during my last trip, and I'm so excited for my life that I'm sitting here working on a Saturday afternoon, even though I've worked a ton of ridiculously long hours this week.  The thing is.....when I have my LIFE FORCE and natural flow back, I'm not "working."  I'm playing. I'm having fun. I'm loving every second of my life. I'm not living according to someone else's rules or limitations on me.  I'm creating the things that I want to create and not freaking out about the money aspect or focusing on how much "I need to make" to do XYZ.  I'm not living my life according to what  others think I should do.
       If there was one single thing I want to pass onto my kids, it's this idea-DO NOT GIVE YOUR POWER TO LIVE  YOUR LIFE TO SOMEONE ELSE. It doesn't matter if it's your spouse, your parents, your boss, your children......you have a very specific purpose here on earth, and no one can do it except you. We all spend so much time walking on the "sidewalks" of our true path. We can sort of see the road, but we feel we need to stay where it's safe, instead of getting in the freaking car, taking the wheel, and DRIVING.
        That is all my musing for today. I will get back to "playing" now. ;)

Friday, February 6, 2015

How Life is sort of like Sauerkraut.

       Yes, that's what I was thinking about this morning as I ate freaking sauerkraut.   It REALLY is sort of like life. Stay with me here. Not that life is all cabbage-y and fermenty, BUT it can seem to be exceptionally...uh.....hard to swallow at first. But that's just the beginning.
     
       Anyone who knows me personally knows  that I'm an avid reader. I plow through non-fiction and fiction books like an enraged lawnmower. I ardently adore self help books, and ESPECIALLY love learning about one of my favorite things. Food. I could read dang diet books all the live long day. I counted how many I've read through on my kindle in the past month....yes, 11.  See, since my brain is always working on my business, even though I'm completely exhausted from the idiotic 16 hour days that I find myself working, I still can't get to sleep at night. I HAVE to read to re-focus my brain. Otherwise, every negative thing that any customer has ever said to me ever just cycles (Yes, this is a serious problem. Rest assured, if you have ever said anything unkind to me, I can zealously confirm that your target hit the mark, and I probably obsessed over it and frantically tried to think of ways that I could still somehow make you happy or make you feel like you were "heard" or "validated". I have this broken brain where I truly believe that I can solve every woman's problem with a good corset. *sigh*)

         Anyhow, in the midst of my adventures, I've learning about the hip-new thing on the market. Probiotics. I think it's simply fascinating that you have this crazy colony living inside of you, and everything you drink, eat, breathe, and think affects it, which affects your whole body, and your whole picture of health. Bad gut health is linked to....pretty much everything from depression to weight loss and all of the things forever.

         I am currently learning how to make my own fermented foods and beverages (sorry, friends, not talking about a whiskey still in my backyard. Just watery, sub-par kombucha so far.) because I would much rather have a healthy happy colony of organisms where they enjoy freedom and prosperity. Maybe with my help, the bacteria down there can gain more self worth, and start setting out to start new businesses and doing entrepreneurial things! They can power through awesome feats and create..uh....bacteria facebook and google? Sorry, super weird tangeant. 

        So, Sauerkraut. This is my experience. Every single time I taste it, I think it's wretched....at first. Then, I keep chewing....pushing on.....getting used to the experience....then I sort of like it. Yeah. This ain't bad. I can TOTALLY do this! 

        The great thing is that it goes down into my body (the properly fermented stuff, not the cheaper junk from the grocery store.) and it gets to work HEALING me, from the inside out.   Yes, YES! This is totally like life!!    Life will throw these experiences at you that are like rotten cabbage water, and you're like, "Really, life....REALLY?" and then Life is like, "Oh, just you wait. It will all turn out for your ultimate good."   And even though the taste of the new, difficult, or downright crappy experience is NOT GOOD at first, because your current brain perceives  it that way, your insides start to change. The experience evolves.  You become different. You become more robust. You're better able to handle the NEXT bite of sauerkraut (rest assured, it will still taste nasty at first.). 

      I guess I like a lot of foods that have this quality. For me, the moldier the cheese, the better. And kombucha? Hecks yes. The only reason I've been better about exercising is because they put a dang health food store right  next to my gym, and so I tell myself-"Michelle, if you work out, you can go and buy some lavender kombucha that will make your eyes burn and put hair on your chest."  Yes, please. 

       Thus, the takeaway lesson? Eat more veggies. Especially if they've been sitting in a glass jar in a dark closet for days. OOoh, yeah. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Vision Board

           This is a little screen shot from the pinterest board that I'm tying to create for my "Vision Board".   If you've never heard of them, this is a motivational tool to help you to reach your goals. If you choose images that strike an emotional chord in you, and you visualize yourself having, being, and doing those things that are on your board, then the natural opportunities for you to achieve these dreams will come to pass.....after all, you already accepted it as reality in your mind, so the fears that block you won't be as strong....presumably. The issue is, I got seriously STUCK emotionally in a few places whilst trying to build said board.
        I read a book by the ripped lady in the picture above. Her name is Carol Whitaker (book is "Ridiculously Happy-The Secret to Manifesting the Life and Body of your Dreams") and she said that when she was working on manifesting the way she wanted to look, she found some inspirational pictures of other women that had the same coloring, and the shape she wanted, and then she used those to visualize. 
        I tried that, and I got stuck on all sorts of nit-picky, beat-myself-up, cower in the corner sucking my thumb-type of details.  But, I'm a stocky girl! But...I don't want to look like someone ELSE's version of perfection, I want to look like my own! I don't want to steal....or something like that. 
       Holy Face, I'm even feeling stuck trying to write this blog. The vision board scares the crap out of me.  How do you do a vision board without nearly wetting yourself with fear and anxiety!? Am I doing it wrong? Help me, Damselite ladies. You're my only hope. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hypocrite

      Yesterday, I was justifying to my friend why I didn't want to buy myself new clothing. These were my very reasonable sounding reasons:
-"You shouldn't buy more clothing until you lose more weight? I mean, you ARE losing, AREN'T YOU?"
-"Nobody makes clothing that looks good on my body"
-"These styles don't flatter me."
-"I'll buy myself new things when I've reached my goals" (in all reality, this means, when I'm perfect.)
-"I don't go anywhere outside of work. I just sit and sew everyday, all day long. I don't NEED nice clothes...I guess unless I want to wear high heels and a fancy blouse to the gym!"

         Then, I realized, to my utter HORROR, that these are the exact same reasons that people give when they're talking themselves out of a corset! Now, mind you, it actually doesn't happen very often, but generally, this is how the exchange goes. Woman comes into booth. Michelle is excited to meet new person, tries to get to know them. Michelle laces woman into corset that will enhance her coloring, body shape, and personality. Woman looks into mirror and DOESN'T automatically criticize what she sees! Praise the Lord!  Then, the excuses start coming. "Well...I really shouldn't until I lose more weight" (I DO hope you all realize that I do alterations all the dang time. I'm up to altering about 10-15 corsets a WEEK for the customers that have lost weight!), "I don't have anywhere I could possibly wear this" (I'm standing in front of you, wearing a corset at a renaissance festival. You came to the festival to have fun. You know what could enhance your experience?),  "I'm going to wait until.....*insert thing here*."

       I know this is coming off as me being critical, and I promise, the tone of this blog is for me to say, "Holy face!! These women are coming into my life so that they can help ME see MYSELF more clearly, and hopefully, in turn, I can help them!"  What a blessed gift!!!  And you know, it's so easy for me to look at this woman making these excuses and think, "What in the potty words is she talking about? She is SO beautiful, and SO vibrant, and has SO many possibilities and SO much potential!  Why would she settle for any less that epic? Why would she put conditions on when she will be able to be kind to herself? What???"

       I promise, I'm learning to say the same things to myself. It's re-programming 29 years of mental habit, so I hope you will be patient, and I, in turn, will be more patient and loving to you....because that's what we all need. Love and acceptance.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Smashing the A.N.T.S.!

      I heard something recently that absolutely delighted me!  I was listening to a podcast, and the guy was giving advice about how to change your life, and he said that you had to great REALLY good at smashing the "A.N.T.s" in your life....or rather Automatic-Negative-Thoughts.  Brilliant, BRILLIANT!

       Just this morning, I thought,  "Okay, I'm going to write in my journal, like I've been promising myself for years" and then I AUTOMATICALLY thought, "Yeah, but you don't have enough time. You've got to get to work sewing corsets."  And then I thought, "I'm going to smash that thought into oblivion with this EVEN BETTER THOUGHT!  My even better thought was, "Michelle, do you live in a scarcity mindset or an abundance mindset? Is there truly not enough time for you to take care of yourself and gain more self respect by keeping promises you made to yourself? "
 
        This was a much better thought because it INSPIRED ME, and it MADE ME THINK, and it OPENED UP MY MIND TO NEW IDEAS!  The automatic negative thought would have done this domino effect, most likely, if I had let it. Michelle thinks there's not enough time. Michelle doesn't pause to reflect on her life and how she could be better by journaling. Instead, she just gets to work, head down, brain frustrated. That frustrated brain is living in a world where there is not enough time, and that creates stress. That stress gets sewn into the corsets, and then there are more customer problems down the road, because of that negative energy. Michelle thinks that if there's not enough time, there's also not enough money, and by thinking that, she automatically steers energy AWAY from her company and her products.  (I truly believe people can feel the environment in which a product is created. In handmade products, there is generally LIFE, and LOVE, and VITALITY, and a STORY!  In mass-produced, cheaply manufactured, products that are only sewn to get gain, and not to serve, there is an absence of life,  love, and vitality. There is deadness. There is disrespect. There is no reason to hold onto, or treasure these things. They just get thrown away and you replace them with another. Who the heck cares?  Yuck.)  And the negativity spreads like wildfire from there.
         An ABUNDANCE mindset says this.  There is enough time for ME. There is enough money in this world for everyone to be successful, at their own comfort level, if they are taught to train their brain to reach out and grab a hold of it! There is enough HEALTH for everyone, if we can educate ourselves about food that will nourish our mind, body, and soul. If we can learn that food is our medicine, and medicine can be our food. There is enough POSITIVE THOUGHTS for everyone in the world to have them, and there is more that can be created.    There is enough LOVE for all of us, both to share with others and with ourselves.  There is enough compassion. There is enough potential. There is not only "enough".....there is an ABUNDANCE!
   
         I read through a meditation that told you to do something like this- Breathe deeply, relax, close your eyes, and imagine the ocean with the crashing waves and the millions of grains of sand. Here is abundance.  You can take your bucket and go and reach into the ocean and get some water....immediately, more water fills up that space. There could be a never ending PILE of people, our brothers and sisters on this world, going and reaching their pails into the water, and it wouldn't diminish......there is enough for everyone. There is so much.  So, so much for all of us!

         I am grateful for my customers that teach me about abundance. They tell their friends about our products and our company culture. They tell their family. There are more people that come in and feel the love that I want to share with my corsets.  All of these people feel more love for their bodies when they're wearing a beautiful, handmade garment, and then they spread that love and generosity onto more people.

         There is an abundance of all the good things you want in your life.

          The A.N.T.s come from a scarcity mindset.  Listen carefully to your negative thoughts......are they telling you that there is enough good and love?  No, they always speak of a lack, no matter what the thought is or where it's coming from.  Scarcity is hideous, and it creates more and more of itself.  I strongly urge you to smash it, along with me, and together, we can live in abundance!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Loving the Body

 

          I feel like I need to start out with a slight disclaimer on this one before I get right into the nitty-gritty sheety-meaty of this blog. I want all of you to know that I write blogs as a therapy.  I write because there are good messages to be had out there, but everyone responds differently to various words, tones, and energy.  I hope that the people that read this know that I come from a loving, positive place, but also an imperfect one.  When I write things and get all riled up about them, it's usually because I'm still in the growing and processing stages myself. I'm not some amazing pillar of perfection, and the reasons I choose the topics that I do is because I struggle with them on a daily basis.  When you read anything about body image, know that I, too, am on a continual journey. Namaste.

     So, I had a breakthrough. I have been trying to change my thoughts about my body, in hopes that my body would change in accordance with my thoughts. I was feeling fantastic, because I felt like I had made SUCH huge leaps and bounds! Wow, MICHELLE! You aren't finding things wrong with your body!! You are saying grateful words to your body!! You are thanking your body for giving you children and working every day! This body is awesome!!  Your body is easily shedding the weight that it had kept as emotional armor, but you are stronger and ready to let go of that shield against the world!!  oh, YEAH! So great, SOOO GREAT! MAN, it feels so good to feel good! I love feeling good!! IT'S goooooood!!

     However, I have realized a flaw in my system. By saying things, even super positive things to my body about how "excited I was for it to change" and how happy I was that it had served me so well, and NOW I can get down to losing the weight I've been keeping stuck on.....I was ironically admitting that I "didn't" truly love my body because by filling it with love that is expectant of change, I'm saying that there is something wrong with it that NEEDS changed.  Doh!

      I realized I was in a scary loop. Look at body. Be "NICE" and all, but tell it that it needs to change for me to love it.  Make big dietary changes. Make big exercise changes. Still, body doesn't change. Do more diet. Do more exercise. Body stays the same. Get thyroid checked and blood work done. Everything looks fine! No change. Try this for several months. Not so much. This is all a true story.

       I wonder if I've accidentally created an environment where my body is scared to change because it sees that my "love and approval" is conditional upon it being what I consider "perfect".  Think of how things would go if you did this with your spouse or your kids.  Imagine a scary smile plastered to your face, and you saying through Stepford wife gritted teeth, "Gee, I SURE love you and appreciate you. I will love you MORE when you are exactly what I THINK YOU SHOULD BE!"  Then imagine yourself pushing, prodding, overly encouraging, and trying to FORCE the person you love to change. After all,  it's what is best for them!

      I imagined trying to do this with a beautiful flower.  You plant the seed. You water it. You put it in sunshine. However, you expect it to be on YOUR timeline and to act according to the work YOU put into it's nourishment!

       And alas, the cycle continues. So, what I'm trying to work out in my brain is how to absolutely TRULY love and appreciate where I am currently...without any strings attached.  I did remember that a while back, I actually did get to my "goal weight" and I was miserable. I still punished myself and put myself down all the time, and the food I was eating was stagnant and life-sucking. I was hungry and grumpy and so absolutely terrified of my own food cravings that I lived in fear of the kitchen and restaurants.  That is what my previous "healthy" weight got me. I didn't address the underlying emotional issues, and therefore, I did not love and appreciate my body. 
       
        I'm not saying "Give up and stop taking care of yourself and just LOVE who you are right now!" .  I'm saying "Love WHO YOU ARE RIGHT NOW and the care, the compassion, the forgiveness, and the better habits can start to slowly grow....just like a seed."  You have to give the "no strings attached" love and compassion to yourself  as the foundation of your life.  From there, healthy mental habits and languages can be formed, and then you can blossom into what you were meant to be. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Catty

*I've learned two important precepts this year that I wanted to share here in hopes that they can help other women and also help  me, myself, and I, as I go into 2015.

First: When someone criticizes another, it says something about THEM, and nothing about the person being criticized.

          I have had to think and re-think this over and over in my brain for the last several months, as I wound my way through life. It really helped me when I would have a negative exchange of words and come away feeling like I absolutely embodied all of the insults or attacks thrown at me.  Here's an example: a few days ago some poor lady posted a really NASTY thing on the Damsel in this Dress facebook page about how...oh, my heck, I can't even stand to repeat it. Let's just say that she took a look at me in a corset and it must have triggered something in her, and she posted....Phew.....here goes (I hate mean words SOOO much) "They should call this facebook page 'Fat girls trying to squeeze their pudge into too tight of things. SO unattractive!'"  (don't worry friends, I deleted the comment and banned her.)

      I'm not going to lie, that SERIOUSLY hurt. My first reaction was to write something super mean or contradictory back, but then I remembered that people that use that kind of language LOVE it when they get strong reactions and attention for their charged word usage. THEN I remembered the whole thingy about how the words people choose say more about THEM than they say about YOU. I thought carefully about the kind of person that would make such a random, un-provoked attack and use such gross words.  In my brain, I saw a woman who was so desperate for attention that she would take any kind. I saw a woman who had been told unkind things, and so she only knew that language.  I imagined someone who felt so absolutely awful about their own body that they would attack anyone just to bring them to a slightly "higher level" than the person that they were putting down. By the end of my interactive brain movie, I felt so horrible for this poor woman that I wanted to hug her and build her up and ask what I could do for her! I wanted to give her a corset, and then maybe that could encourage her to change her perception of corsets.  However, I don't think she's in a place to have her world changed. *sigh*


Not surprisingly, I've certainly encountered goodly numbers of women who were vehemently against "corsets" and what they "thought they were".  What these women say about my corsets has nothing to say about my corsets and  my company. It does, however, speak VOLUMES about them, their lives, their thoughts, their limitations, their relationship, and a whole host of other vastly complicated scenarios.  All I can hope is that I can keep slowly working to change some of the mindsets surrounding such a simple garment, and I can continue to help women love and appreciate their current bodies.   *cough* Remember, the irony here is that what I say about these women says something about me. *cough*

       And just in case any of you are thinking that I'm trying to advocate a "never listen to criticism" type of attitude, that is not the case. I just want to make sure that I, myself, am taking the time and thought to not only try to understand where the anger is coming from, but also to consider the intent with which the words were spoken.

And onto the next life-changing thing that I recently discovered. I couldn't find the exact quote, but it was something to this effect:
"When you criticize another, you take that part of their negative energy and bring it back into your own life."

        This freaked me right the heck out!  But it made TONS  of sense. Whenever I have put down another human being, it always feels akin to eating piles of doughnuts.  Its feels delicious, sinfully good, and indulgent while I'm doing it, but the SECOND the act is over, I feel awful and hollow...yet full of the wrong kind of junk.   This feeling includes strong word exchanges over the internet. The very few times that I've allowed myself to get sucked into "troll" drama, I have felt sick in my spirit for days afterward. I always think it might feel good to "be right" and "show them"  but the only thing I'm "showing" is my weakness and insecurity.

       Here's the deal. I have a different life, a different set of thoughts, experiences, feelings, reactions, stories and insecurities than the person I might be criticizing.  I have heard the whole "Walk a mile in their shoes" bit a ton of times, but then I heard it explained a little bit differently and it really resonated with me. You don't imagine YOU walking a mile in their shoes, because it's still you and your dang brain and your perceptions. You would have to desperately endeavor to imagine that YOU are THEM, in their shoes, with their thoughts and energy and the whole bit.  Would you behave differently? Probably not. You can honor what their have individually gone through, instead of tearing them down through your narrow, misguided and......unhappy lens.

      So, the takeaway? Love yourself. Love others. Please, oh, please. Just love. It FEELS good. It brings YOU more of what YOU want. It's peaceful. It's empowering. It allows you to breathe and focus. Love heals. Love changes. Love ignites.