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Stacey and Katie VieThat’s a photo of me and my girl, Katie Vie, last Friday night. We were celebrating her birthday and business success – SO fun!!

You’ve often heard me wax enthusiastic about making time for friends. Doing so provides many benefits to your mental and physical health, and laughing until your stomach hurts while you tell an empowering story of your thrilling triumphs and glorious “failures” is just one them!

If you take your health, happiness and success seriously, you’ll create your own version of a Girls’ Night Out and start practicing the other super-cool and research-based steps I outline below.

There has never been any better advice than Joseph Campbell’s “Follow your bliss.”

I know what you’re thinking: “easier said than done,” right? You may have tried this approach already. You may have set out to find that one thing that makes you ecstatically happy and at the same time gives your life meaning and provides constant rewards of pride and prestige. And, unless you’re really lucky, that may not have worked so well.

If that’s the case, then start by remembering that events are neutral, and that it is your story about them that creates feelings of happiness or powerlessness.

So as you go through your day-to-day life, looking for your bliss and dealing with those neutral events, why not make things easier on yourself? Here’s what I would suggest: why don’t we all choose to take the direct route to happiness – and simply feel happy and powerful.

That would skip a few steps, after all. But how do you do that? Once again, the only honest answer is to follow your bliss. But not bliss as some far-off, lofty goal. Instead, follow your bliss by making sure that you focus as much as you can on the day-to-day things that please you.

I hear you asking: okay, but how is that going to help me? Well, if you keep that in mind, and you focus on what is pleasing to you, chances are good that more pleasing things will come to you.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? But I hear you asking: “if it’s that easy, why do so many people feel so unhappy and so powerless so very very often?

Well, to tell the truth, most people are very undisciplined about how they focus their thoughts.

This is understandable because 80 percent of the thoughts your mind generates automatically – the ones you don’t have to will yourself to think – are negative.

So you can see that in order to just break even – to get to 50 percent positive thoughts – you’d have to be VERY disciplined about responding to those automatic negative thoughts with freely chosen positive ones, right?

Luckily, there are 2 shortcuts you can take that will make this easier.

The First Shortcut:

Take Joseph Campbell’s advice and Follow Your Bliss.

Sometimes folks have no trouble following their bliss. They know exactly where it is and they keep it in sight at all times.

But more often folks have been traveling away from their bliss for so long that following it – or even figuring out what direction to look in – seems impossible.

That’s too bad, because following your bliss doesn’t just make you happy. Following your bliss is the only way for you to get on the path toward a meaningful life.

But wherever you are on the “Bliss” scale – hot on the trail or lost in the briars – here’s a quiz that will help you get your bliss on your radar screen and keep it there for good.

Ask yourself the following:

  1. What lights you up more than anything? When do you feel filled with joy, or in the “flow”? (Or as my husband says, “What do you enjoy so much that it makes you forget to eat?”)
  2. As a child, what did you do in your free time? (The most important years are from nine to eleven–think fourth through sixth grade.)
  3. When was the last time you laughed really hard? What were you doing? What was so funny?

The answers to these questions are the clues that will get you back on track for following your bliss. If you go through them and you still come up blank, don’t worry. Just pay attention over the next couple of days.

After all, the best way to find something is to look for it, and I have no doubt that you’ll find clues if you just keep your eyes open.

Create a list of the times when you were most joyful, and remember as you do so that within those joyful moments lies your guide to creating an effortless, happy and authentic life.

The better you understand who you are and what you really love, the better able you are to make decisions – in work and leisure – that will make you happy.

Chances are that your bliss lies right in front of you – that there’s something you’re already doing that will make you happier, put you more in the flow, if you just do more of it.

All you have to do is find it, and it’s almost a guarantee that your world will transform around you, and you’ll see your familiar landscapes with new eyes.

The Second Shortcut:

Amy Cuddy in Super Woman postMost people understand the importance of “body language,” especially with respect to how we perceive others or how they perceive us, but few people understand it in terms of how our body language affects the way we feel.

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy gave a great presentation at TED about this.

Certain “power poses” don’t just change how others perceive you, Professor Cuddy says.

They immediately change how you feel by altering your body chemistry. They increase testosterone (the power hormone) and decrease cortisol (the stress hormone).

She uses the standard “Wonder Woman” pose (facing forward, feet apart, hands on hips) as her example, and I suggest you try it. Because her research shows that you really can “fake” feeling happy and powerful until you make it.

Bottom line? Acting the way you want to feel is a science-based shortcut to feeling happy and more powerful.

No, really. Wherever you are right now, stand up. Put your hands on your hips and your feet hips-width apart and tilt your chin slightly upward. (For an added effect, hold a pen between your teeth – but not with your lips, because that does the opposite of what you’re after.) See you feel.

Strike this pose before your next big meeting or potentially challenging interaction, and see how it changes things for you.

Keep doing this pose, and soon you’ll see for yourself: If you change how you direct your thoughts and how you use your body, you will change your mindset and how you feel about your life. And you will become happier and more powerful as a result.

How cool is it that you can always increase your feelings of happiness and personal power by using your body to influence how you feel?!

So you see, following your bliss isn’t that hard. Even just standing and looking as if you’ve found it has the same effect as actually finding it—and the more often you find it, the closer you’ll get to that far-off lofty thing that brings your life meaning.

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

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A Busy Mom’s Guide to GREAT Sex

Stacey and Doug, couples retreatThe photo to the right shows Doug and me enjoying a fun moment during his special birthday weekend getaway at the Biltmore Estate.

We had just eaten a delicious meal at The Inn at Biltmore’s restaurant and decided to take a walk around the beautiful grounds – and that’s where we took the selfie.

We were laughing so hard, and another couple came up and asked if they could take the photo for us. We said we were all set and they said, “Well, it sure does look much more fun the way you’re doing it!”

You may remember that a few weeks ago I talked about Evelyn Resh’s phenomenal book, Women, Sex, Power and Pleasure. In it Evelyn talks about how she and her partner practice what she calls 6×36 – that means every 6 weeks she and her partner get away for 36 hours.

I didn’t feel that Doug and I could take off every 6 weeks, but I did commit to us getting away every 12 weeks. Before last weekend’s trip I thought of all the reasons we were too busy and it was too inconvenient to take even a night away, but I’m so glad we did. It really reaffirmed for me the importance and value of getting away for some focused one-on-one bliss.

I hope you will make your own commitment to couples time – or if you’re not currently partnered, just time away from your usual schedule to focus on pleasuring YOU.

The basic, and extremely powerful, premise of Evelyn Resh’s fabulous book, Women, Sex, Power and Pleasure: Getting the Life (and Sex) You Want is:

Emotional Wellness = Powerful Living
= Increased Interest and Access to All Pleasures

From reading Evelyn’s book I’ve learned to look at pleasure as a “super power” and believe, like she does, that focusing on pleasure will positively impact all areas of a woman’s life.

I really want to bring home how it’s not selfish to make this a priority, and how, in fact, everything (like our kids, our marriages, our work in the world) will benefit when you do.

I was inspired to create my own “Pleasure Play List” – a list of the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly activities I’m committing to in order to make sure that pleasure is a priority in my life.

One of the quarterly activities was setting aside a weekend for Doug and me to get away from our son and our myriad work and household responsibilities to focus solely on each other, and on pleasure.

I can imagine Doug cringing as I write this. And I don’t think he’s the only husband (or wife, for that matter) who would do so when his name got mentioned in public in this context. So, yes, sex is still a taboo subject and we have a lot of work to do before it’s embraced as a fun and easy way to improve health and happiness.

And here’s the thing: You don’t even need a partner to enjoy it! As Woody Allen said in the movie Annie Hall, “Hey, don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.”

Many of the women I talk to in my coaching practice have trouble making time for sex. I mean, with work and kids and household duties, how is it possible?

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have sex. It means that we need to make it a priority – like eating well and getting exercise. Don’t believe it’s that important? Studies show that the benefits of sex are at least ten-fold: sex relieves stress, boosts immunity and self-esteem, improves cardiovascular health and intimacy, reduces pain and prostate cancer risk, helps you maintain a healthy weight and sleep better, and strengthens pelvic floor muscles (reducing the risk of incontinence).

Okay, so I’ve convinced you that sex is important, but how are you going to fit it into your already-packed schedule and actually feel like getting it on?

Here are My Six Tips for Hot Sex:

1) Make time for sex.

A Busy Mom's Guide to GREAT Sex

Remember that song Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band? “Gonna find my baby, gonna hold her tight, gonna grab some afternoon delight. My motto’s always been; when it’s right, it’s right.” Well that’s my motto, too.

My son has a standing play date at a friend’s house on Saturdays and that’s the time when my husband and I get our sky rockets in flight.

The weekend-away-every-quarter is a new and very valuable addition to make sure we have time to feel really relaxed and connected – which, of course, makes the sex extra hot.

2) Figure out what makes you feel hot and ask for it.

I can take off my clothes and my husband is ready to go. But I need what I call fore-foreplay. I want to feel like I’m wanted for more than my body, and I’ve found that when I set aside time before bed to talk with my husband about something I’m working on, or have him read something I’ve written and comment on it, I feel seen, heard and valued. And there’s nothing hotter than that.

When we’re in bed, my husband and I talk about what feels good and what doesn’t. We’ve learned that we don’t want to waste time fumbling around. The fact is, what felt amazing last week may not this week. We both appreciate a lot of direction and, again, nothing’s hotter than asking for what you want and getting it.

3) Use Zestra.

Zestra is a blend of botanical oils and extracts, like borage seed oil, evening primrose oil, and angelica extract. When topically applied Zestra works within minutes by heightening your sensitivity to touch. You apply it to the clitoris and labia, and the effects begin within 3 to 5 minutes and last for up to 45 minutes. You can find it in any CVS store (sometimes with the condoms, other times with “feminine products” like yeast medicine. Don’t ask anyone in the store – they never know – just look in those two places.). You can also get a free sample by clicking here.

4) Experiment with Toys.

Have you seen the episode of Sex and the City when Miranda introduces her friends to a vibrator named “The Rabbit”? The normally prudish Charlotte initially resists but ultimately succumbs to its charms and her friends eventually stage an intervention to get her out of her bed and into society again.

Toys really can be fun, but they can also set up unrealistic expectations, too. Use with caution or you too may find yourself in this situation:

(Carrie and Charlotte are stretching together in yoga class)
Carrie: (voiceover) My Zen teacher once told me that there was nothing like yoga to quiet a busy mind. Just as I had reached the moment of no thought…
Charlotte: (whispering) I think I broke my vagina.
Carrie: Oh sorry, am I pulling too hard?
Charlotte: No, metaphorically, I mean. With “The Rabbit.”

5) Read Erotica.

I love well-written woman-centric erotica for getting in the mood. Here are some of my favorite titles: Five Minute Erotica (edited by Carol Queen), Best Women’s Erotica and Sweet Life (both edited by Violet Blue). These are smart, sexy, and fun stories that are guaranteed to jump-start your libido, whether you share them with your lover or keep them your sly little secret.

6) Create a Sex Playlist.

Music is a tried-and-true aphrodisiac. Who hasn’t felt a little groovy after listening to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye? Some of my other favorites are “PYT” by Michael Jackson, “Home (This Must Be the Place)” by the Talking Heads, and “The Way I Are” by Timbaland.

If you try all of the above and you still don’t feel like hopping in the sack, you may have an issue with arousal that’s caused by any number of issues (chronic stress and hormone imbalance are two that come to mind).

Sex is too important to your health and happiness to dismiss, and there are plenty of professionals who can help, from a therapist to a health care provider.

Call in the cavalry if you have to, but you shouldn’t go another day thinking it’s “just sex” and not a big deal. So – what are you waiting for? You’re hot. Go get your sky rockets in flight.

If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!

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A Billionaire's Best Advice + Your Purpose

March 10, 2015

I mentioned last week that it was Doug's birthday and I took him away for a romantic weekend at the Biltmore Estate to celebrate! We were also celebrating something else – an invitation I received to witness first hand the effects of the contributions I've been making to Child Aid – a literacy project in…

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How to Let Fear CURE You

March 3, 2015

Today is Doug’s birthday! If you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ve heard me wax enthusiastic about how amazing my husband is, but today is the perfect day to honor just how special he is with a recent story. The photo is from a Super Fun Snow Day we had last week – a…

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This is How to Get a Man to Lovingly Commit

February 24, 2015

That's a photo of me, Doug and Griffin from last week enjoying a magical winter break at Sugar Mountain, and boy was it SWEET! NC hadn't gotten any snow all winter and then just as we arrived at the ski resort the skies opened up and gave us over a foot of fresh powder!! We…

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The Five Things Happy Women Always Do

February 17, 2015

Wow! What a week! I was in Connecticut last week for a training, and what you see is a photo of me on stage with my mentor, Fabienne Fredrickson, and 3 of my co-authors (and some of the BEST women you could ever know!) after we found out that our book, Choosing Happiness, made it…

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If you think you don't need great sex, you need to read this!

February 10, 2015

That’s a photo of me and Doug after an incredibly romantic dinner at our favorite restaurant. Griffin was spending the night with my parents, so this meant we had even more glorious ALONE TIME when we got home, if you know what I mean. I hope you listened to my RED HOT Love and Passion…

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this is why you'll leave your partner

February 3, 2015

That’s a photo of me with my dear friends and colleagues Linda Joy (left) and Stacey Martino (right). You’ve already heard me talk a lot about my partnership with Linda Joy – we hosted the AWESOME Feed Your Fears, Not Your Dreams training last week (if you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, you…

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How to step out of fear and into your purpose

January 27, 2015

That’s a photo of me with my acupuncturist, Sarah Thomas. But calling her a practitioner of acupuncture does not do her justice. You can read more about her here, but suffice to say that she is a brilliant transformational healer. Back in October (2014) she asked me what I needed and I said I felt…

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Four Simple Steps for Trusting Your Intuition (+lesson learned from my 8-year-old son)

January 20, 2015

That’s a photo of Griffin with the poster he made to run for the one 5th grade class spot for his school’s student class council. And he made it! There are so many things I love about this story, so I’m going to share in-depth, but first I just want to say that no one…

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