Stop Trying to Get Your Sexy Back

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We could blame this post on authors like Terry McMillan and Vicki Iovine, who made millions of dollars writing about the loss of grooves and sexiness in women. But we shouldn’t. We could blame this post on the men we’ve loved with wandering eyes and philandering ways. But we shouldn’t. We could, as with all the ills of the world, blame this post on the media, because they sensationalize everything. After all, it really is CNN’s fault if I don’t feel sexy, right?

Wrong. I’ve got a newsflash for women everywhere today. If you feel that you are no longer sexy, if you feel that your sexiness is gone, it’s not. You don’t need to get your sexy back because you never lost it.

Every woman is sexy. Every woman has a goddess within. Every woman is drop-dead gorgeous. It doesn’t matter her age, her size, or her hair color. What matters is that she knows it.

There is a unique and powerful shift that happens in the minds of women as life happens. For some of us it’s just the idea of getting older. For others, it’s giving birth. And for many more women it’s a life-changing career event or momentous occasion. Somehow along the way, we have connected life’s pitfalls to the demise of our sexy.

About ten years ago, I had one goal – to get my sexy back. I had given birth three times, with two of those times being a c-section. My body had ugly scars, the sleep deprivation of parenting toddlers was visible in my eyes, and I had a thyroid that was totally out of control. The last thing I felt was that I was sexy. But the funny thing I’ve discovered is that even though I didn’t feel it, that sexiness still existed within me. And that’s a lesson that took me almost 10 years to learn.

Sexiness is not a temporary state of being, it is an acceptance of your personal power to create, share, and enhance your beauty from within. Sexiness, true sexiness, begins within and manifests itself as a power like no other.

Somehow along the way, we have connected life's pitfalls to the demise of our sexy.

Like many women I know, when I turned 40, I celebrated big. When I look back now on pictures from that celebration, I am pleased with my physical appearance that day.  I’m pretty sure that I was sexy. It  was a great day and I looked and felt beautiful. Not because of the makeup on my face, not because of the cute cowboy hat on my head, but because of the way I felt about myself. It was the way the jeans I wore hugged my body. It was the perfect combination of peach and pink in the shirt I wore. It was the fun and thrill of being surrounded with by some of my closest friends.

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Turning 40 taught me that I never lost my sexy.

To say I’ve felt sexy every, single day since I turned 40 though would be a lie. I can say that in the past three and a half years, I have felt sexy more than I did then the entire decade of my 30s. Here are some tips to help you remember your sexy,  no matter what:

  1. Perform one act of pleasure for yourself every day. I mean this in a totally non-creepy way, y’all. (Unless that’s how you roll, and if it is, you do you.) For everyone else, savor 30 minutes to watch the sun rise. Make yourself a cup of hot tea. Light a candle. Do something at least once a day that brings you pleasure. Just for you.
  2. Admire a photo from a time when you were living your best life and take on the energy of that picture. An old friend shared a photo of us on Facebook from the summer after we graduated from high school. That picture represents everything I love about myself. I was young, carefree, I had my whole future ahead of myself, I was hugging one of my best friends in the world, and it was a really good hair day. This photo can be from any era in your life. Put it in a place where you will see it often, and believe the energy from that picture surrounds you now. Check out this example from my life:
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This is a photo from the summer of 1990 that represents the energy I love about myself. I channel this photo every, single day.

 

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This is a selfie I took earlier this year while waiting in the carpool line to pick up my kids one day. I love it because 25 years later, I still feel the energy (and good hair) from the first photo.

3. Be vulnerable to the process of the universe. Trust me when I tell you, being vulnerable is hard, but it is worth it. I personally believe that there are certain laws of the universe and vulnerability is one of them. I’m not even sure of the why, but I know when I opened myself up to both love and loss, I gained more love and peace and joy that I ever had before. Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t spend all of my time mourning for my hardened heart when I talked about my job or my marriage or my health issues and instead I used that energy to focus on the good in the world.

If you’re interested in exploring the concept of vulnerability more and how it it can work better in your life? Click here to join my free vulnerability challenge starting April 1.

4. Do the work from the inside. Explore your fears, understand why they are your fears, and develop a plan for overcoming those fears. This is an ongoing process, and I’m okay with that. Have I ever told you about my fear of birds? Specifically live chickens? That’s a blog post for another day. Actually, I have written about it and if you’d like to know about that madness in my life, click here. You can also  do some soul searching to ensure you walking in  your purpose every day and manifesting everything your heart desires. (If you’re a reader and you’d like some suggestions on books that can help you do the work, click here.)

5. Pray for the happiness of others. When you tell those in your circle that you are praying for them, what exactly are you praying for? Usually, I’ve said those words when the people I love are faced with a health issue or some type of emotional distress. That night or early the next morning, I pray to God that they are delivered from whatever the problem in their lives was. And if I can be totally honest, that’s it. I don’t typically pray for those in my circle beyond that. Think of how amazing it is to pray for the happiness of others, even if they are already happy. Trust me, they can be happier, and even experience more joy and growth and love. That’s the way the universe works if we just pray for happiness.

The bottom line is this my friends, you are sexy if you know you are, period. Today I challenge you to own that sexy and no matter what happens, maintain it. Will you do it?

 

 

Three Years Later, Cancer Still Sucks

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How do doctors do it? I’ve always wondered if there’s a class in medical school that advises them on what to say when they have deliver a questionable or bad diagnosis? How are nurses and other medical professionals able to keep doing their jobs with kindness and grace when they see the chart and they know you’ve just been hit by a blow. A blow that in many cases, you had no ideas was coming your way?

January 2013 was life-changing for me. A routine trip to the chiropractor led to some concerns. Those concerns led to some tests. The inconclusive results of those tests led to more specialized tests. And the specialized test results led me to the office of a surgical oncologist.

All of this occurred in about 10 days. It was a whirlwind. After that initial diagnosis, I then had to undergo therapies  and treatments while waiting for a surgery that would happen six months later.

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 1.6 million people were diagnosed with cancer between 1998 and 2012.  About 64,000 of those diagnoses were for thyroid cancer, with women outnumbering men in having the disease at overwhelming statistics. The survival rates for thyroid cancer in particular are 97 percent. But the numbers are not that optimistic for other cancers. An NBC News report noted that the 10 most deadliest cancers are 1. Lung and Bronchial Cancer, 2. Colon and Rectal Cancer, 3. Breast Cancer, 4. Pancreatic Cancer, 5. Prostate Cancer, 6. Leukemia, 7. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, 8. Liver Cancer, 9. Ovarian Cancer, and 10. Esophageal Cancer.

One of my college classmates who is now a doctor recently updated his Facebook status to remind us that there is a lot each and every one of us can do to protect the precious lives that we have been given. And this advice y’all, he says is pertinent to anyone older than 35. Anyone. Ouch.

  1. Sitting is the new smoking. We should not be sitting still more than 3 hours a day. We should be going for more walks, choosing to take the stairs, parking in one of the last spaces in the parking lot and walking. All of this is in addition to our daily exercise of zumba, cross fit, or whatever our cardio hearts desire.
  2. Only take antibiotics when absolutely necessary, and most definitely only when prescribed by a doctor.  According to the website for the Mayo Clinic, antibiotics have been proven to impede the natural work of our digestive tracts. If you’ve taken antibiotics, you undoubtedly know that diarrhea is a side effect. This happens because antibacterial medications tend to upset the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. Only take them when needed.
  3. Physical Exercise is a must. Regularly. Like every day. As much as possible.
  4. We take care of our bodies by what we put in it. Stop eating crap. Period.
  5. Cognitive Training is a plus. As we age, we should exercising our brains. The official term is neuroplasticity or something like that, but here’s the bottom line.  Start up a new game of Words With Friends, keep playing Candy Crush Saga, and host occasional game nights with family and friends. It’s all good!

In other words, as adults our charge is two-fold. Now is the time for us to be doing the things that we should have been doing all along. And as parents, it is critical for our children to learn how to take care of themselves properly. And what’s really interesting is that when I had cancer, I felt much better when I ate the right foods.

I know I am not a medical professional, I am an avid reader. I’m sharing this information from credible sources and my own opinion based on my medical diagnosis. This should not in any way replace the advice of your own doctor.

While I don’t do anything to officially commemorate the month of January as my cancer diagnosis month, (I prefer all commemoration happen in June, the month I was actually deemed cancer free) I do use the month to reflect on how that diagnosis three years ago has changed my life.

  1. I have finally realized that to my parents, I am and will always be their baby. My parents did a fine job of raising me to be a very independent person. I am an only child and even though I am in my 40s, I have found that no matter where I go, or what I do, I am always their baby. And for the record, my kids are a very thin extension of that. All four of us are their babies.
  2. Nutrition and exercise are critical to good health. I know I wrote that above, but it’s amazing when you come to the revelation on your own.
  3. Be a family that talks about things. Talk about family medical history, talk about how you are feeling, talk about it all. Talking about things regularly before a crisis occurs sets the foundation for how you and your family will cope when the going gets rough.
  4. Life after cancer does not return to normal, life after cancer is the new normal. The sooner I could accept that, the better off I was. My cancer-free life consists of bi-monthly doctor visits, medicine every day for the rest of my life and sometime painful side effects of not having a thyroid.
  5. It’s sometimes the smallest things that have the biggest impact in our bodies. I’m still amazed at how a small glad that is shaped like a butterfly has such a profound impact on the body.
  6. Second opinions are okay. They are more than okay, they are necessary. Get as much information as you need and take the amount of time that you need so you can make the decision that best for you.
  7. Every day, do something you absolutely love. A happy heart is a healthy heart. When your mind, body, and spirit are aligned, your chances for illness are lessened greatly. Doing more of what you love equals less stress. Less stress equals lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and no more obscure aches and pains.

And if someone you know and love is diagnosed with cancer, this is what you can do:

  1. Offer to go to doctor’s appointments with them and take notes.
  2. Coordinate a Meal Train for them from diagnosis to recovery.
  3. Say a special prayer for them each morning and each night.
  4. Give them the time they need to process what’s happening to them. Don’t bombard them with questions, and don’t get mad if it takes them some time to open up to you.
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As a patient. I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

And finally, if you ever have to deliver the news to friends and loved one about your own health diagnosis, these are the lessons I learned from my experience.

  1. Start talking about the affected area.  For example, here’s how a conversation went with a coworker after I was only able to work part-time once I was diagnosed. “Toni I haven’t seen you in a while, how have you been?” “You know, I’ve been off because my thyroid has been acting crazy and giving me a lot a problems.”

This is good because it sets the stage. The listener can decide if they can handle more specific news, or if they are done. Let’s continue, shall we?

“Really, Toni? What’s it doing?” “Well, it bounces back from hyperactive to hypoactive and I have a goiter. It appears that the goiter has an underlying malignancy, which means I have thyroid cancer.”
2. Give them a moment to respond in the way they are comfortable. I usually end up saying something like, “See I told you it was crazy.” Telling someone you have cancer is 10 percent about you, but 90 percent about them. They will instantly remember their uncle, or cousin or friend who has had the disease and no matter what your prognosis is, their mind will travel.
3. Relate the news to a celebrity. I am very thankful that Brooke Burke-Charvet announced her thyroid cancer when she did. Once I announce my condition, I follow up with, “Did you see the lady from Dancing With the Stars on television? You know she just had thyroid cancer too?”
This helps because our society loves celebrities, and we tend to think they are invincible. But in reality, they get cancer too.
4. Tell them how you will keep them informed. Once people get over the initial shock, they need to know how they will keep up with your progress. Tell them they’ll see you at work until surgery, they can read your blog on Caring Bridge, or that a certain family member will keep them updated. If you don’t have a plan to keep them informed, they will stalk you and pressure you and make your life more miserable than cancer already is.
5. Let people see you “live” with the disease. I know that with any medical condition, you have good days and you have bad days. Some days, I remember wishing I could say, “I have cancer so I’m staying in bed all day.” But I couldn’t. My kids were in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades at the time of my diagnosis. There were tonsils that had to be removed, middle school hormones, and a Presidential Inauguration that we had to attend. Continuing to “live” is just as important for me as it for everyone around me.

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During my cancer experience, I made sure that others (especially my children) would see me actually living with the disease. Our trip to the Presidential Inauguration was an example of that.

 

While my diagnosis was scary and I was fortunate enough to have a great prognosis and an ever greater outcome, that cancer event led me to be even more appreciative of the life I have instead of trying unsuccessfully to force the life I thought I should have.