A Woman’s Greatest Battle Is With Herself

I woke up the other day and as most of us do— I immediately checked my iPhone. The news feeds of the day were downloading and one of the top headlines was, “JLO Showing Off Rock Hard Abs on Her 49th Birthday!” Well, after I read it twice to ensure that is in fact what it said, I cried a little and then peaked beneath the covers to see my soft, supple abs (fat roll) staring back at me. You see, my forty-F*ING-eight (48th) birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks, and as it draws near and I begin to embark on my 49th trip around the sun; I start to ponder… what will my birthday headline read next year?  Maybe something like— “Elaine Showing off FUPA While Straining to Blow Out All 49 Candles.”  (in case you are wondering… FUPA is an acronym for — Fat Upper Pelvic Area – some more vulgar types use the “other” P-word)


It seems like as we age, our birthdays tend to create more anxiety.  Inevitably, as the years pass, our mortality draws closer. AND!!! it doesn’t help anything that time seems to move faster and faster as each year passes. This leaves us feeling like we are on a runaway train heading the wrong way on a one-way track about to derail and crash straight into an assisted living facility. Needless to say, feeling vulnerable and questioning ourselves has become the norm. We start to ask ourselves— Did I accomplish what I set out to this year?  Have my nipples migrated farther south? Have I been a good mother, friend, boss, daughter, wife? All this and more plague us as we attempt to do and be it all in the allusive game of life.


This year feels especially vulnerable to me. I am in the midst of immense change. My son is leaving 3 days after my birthday for college (I’m not crying, you’re crying!), my company is in the middle of a restructuring, and I am releasing my first-ever book in a couple of weeks. It’s like I’m walking around naked all the time with no robe in sight to cover up my flaws and insecurities.  I mean, at least the Naked Cowboy in Time Square has a guitar to shield some judgment… I’ve got nothing. FUPA on full display, y’all.


In my new book, I devote an entire chapter to vulnerability. In one section I say,


“We women are perfectionists. We people-please. We believe in the big myth taught to us at a young age: If you’re “good enough,” it all works out in the end. We play many roles wearing many hats, all while suffocating under the illusion we can do it all and be it all. Misguided, often unrealistic expectations are placed on us as we seemingly glide through the overwhelming demands of everyday life. We accept those expectations and break our necks trying to be perfect all the time. And when we’re not, we lose it.


Research states that the top two areas for women of not feeling good enough are in relation to how we look and how we parent. Unfortunately, women are held up to impossible standards: Stay feminine, sweet, thin and modest, and make it all look easy.


How many times have you felt that way? No matter how much you do or how much you hustle, you still feel like it isn’t enough. The reality is we are human. Men and women alike. For instance, I know I’m aging: My hair is graying, my mind is tired, my body is swollen and no matter how many omega-3s I swallow, I still feel puffy. Thank God for Spanx, caftans, yoga pants and the color black, because there are some things kale and coconut oil just can’t solve. But why, oh why, do we do this to ourselves? It creates unsustainable, even detrimental conditions to exist within.


And like looking good isn’t enough pressure, there’s that whole other area where we continue to feel “less than”: parenting. While there are plenty of women who don’t have children and are perfectionists, there’s nothing quite as intense as a mom who feels the pressure to be perfect and to be …


… a GOOD mother. (Gulp.) Yep, I said it.


Chances are those standards we hold up for ourselves as mothers come from the outside: from society; from our family, friends and acquaintances; from television, movies and books. Basically, from what we’ve been taught are “good mom” traits … and we have no doubt pinned them on Pinterest for quick reference. And from what I can see, those traits create the dreaded, never-ending “should,” “always” and “never” word-vomit loop that gets stuck on repeat in our heads:


Always be happy.

Always listen to your baby. 

You should exclusively breastfeed your baby. 

You should stay home with your baby.

Always be patient with your child.

Never miss the important events. 

Always be consistent.


You know what I think? Being a mother doesn’t suddenly require perfection—if anything, it requires humanity, modeling for our kids that not everything is always picture-perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome (or, shall we say, good enough). And just as important as allowing yourself the room to not be the world’s best mother is letting your kids see you f* up.


I think it’s imperative to show your child that you are not perfect. Show them you can make mistakes, and that you can work to correct them. That you can yell and maybe even hurt someone’s feelings, and you can apologize because you are truly sorry. Your children will still love you, and they will learn it’s possible to love someone who is imperfect, and thank God for that. And then they can grow up to be imperfect and love someone who is imperfect, instead of holding themselves and everyone around them to a Pinterest-level standard of perfection.”


 So, JLo, I see your abs and I’ll raise you a FUPA. I can turn 48 without letting a 49-year-old goddess (with a team of trainers, I might add) make me feel like I’m turning 48 years old in the wrong way. After feeling a little sorry for myself and doing an endless set of crunches last Saturday morning and seeing no change in my ab tone on Saturday evening I decided this…


My birthday wish is that no matter where you are in your life or who you hold as measure of perfection, I hope you allow yourself the grace to find your worth. Your worth is neither added or subtracted by someone’s life, body, bank account, or perfect children. Your worth is up to you and the value you add to the world by staying true to yourself …and maybe your FUPA.


With that vulnerability in mind, I’d like to invite you to share three (or one!) self-affirmations in the comments below that demonstrate you have value. Just try it and see how it feels. You are worthy.




Princess Leia, Hurricanes, and Tatas.

Have you ever had an out of body experience? Where you are pulsing with energy and your life just doesn’t feel real; almost as if you are hovering above yourself witnessing something too complex for the human mind to process? I have. In fact, it was so profound that it has taken me weeks to put pen to paper–errr, finger to keyboard.

I’m talking about Mardi Gras.

Yes, you read that right. Mardi Gras was a profound experience for me and DEFINITELY not one I expected. All I set out for was a girls weekend of guilt free debauchery, and I left with a pocket full of wisdom and a suitcase full of beads.

This was a girls weekend that was planned a year in advance- organized by one of my favorite girlfriends.  She has a joyful spirit and spontaneity about life that is infectious. Truth be told she’s one of my favorite people in the world because she makes me feel alive when I am around her. She lived in New Orleans for several years, and is the only person who could make my true Texan blood crave a N’awlins address.

From the minute we arrived, the city felt electric. You know that feeling in a stadium when the music starts blaring as the team runs out and it feels as if everyone in the stands is bouncing in excited unison? It was palpable.

The first thing the Uber driver said to us was, “I need to hurry and go see my son walk in tonight’s parade- I count down the days until Mardi Gras, it’s better than Christmas for our family. We live for it.”  He was smiling ear to ear and it brought an immediate feeling of joy to me to see this man revel in the Mardi Gras spirit. There was a sparkle in his eye that was full of truth- a sparkle I couldn’t quite forget.

As I sat back in the Uber, pulling out my phone to check work emails, I pondered do I take myself too seriously? Do I not have enough fun? There is a true importance in stopping to recognize that life should be celebrated and embraced- are we underestimating JOY? At that moment, I tucked my phone back into my bag and said f’ it. I’m here to experience life in a way I never have before- I wanted to see what that sparkle was about. I vowed to myself to let go of my phone so that I could have two free hands (well maybe just one free hand…one hand is for hurricanes) and a completely free spirit.

I know the Mardi Gras reputation can weigh heavily on overly gluttonous drunkards all parading down Bourbon street wreaking havoc on the city- but to be honest, I have never witnessed such authentic joy. People could walk down the street naked, at any size, with glitter pasties and be celebrated- not mocked. People of all shapes and sizes stand shoulder to shoulder in the name a of a good time. People from all different walks of life come together to celebrate more than just Mardi Gras- they come to celebrate freedom. Freedom to be whoever the hell you want to be, to let your true freak flag fly, and to find a little youth and rebellion at any age.

The spirit of the city was so intoxicating that I found myself totally comfortable dressed as Princess Leia throwing beads off a float. In fact when we got back to the hotel that night I almost crapped my pants when I looked in the mirror and remembered what I left the hotel wearing…I will say some of that is due to alcohol, but most of it is attributed to being in a place of acceptance of all absurdities.


At the end of the trip, I had learned a huge lesson about acceptance. I even had to accept that I was now 5 lbs heavier and would have a headache for days- but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I saw the true beauty in humanity, I saw the fire that lit a spark in our drivers eye. Pulling back from all the negative connotations I had about the chaos of Mardi Gras, I was able to open my eyes to what was going on between all the tatas, costumes and public drunkenness. I was able to see people celebrating each other for being exactly who they are in that moment.  Allowing myself to let go and live in the moment with my friends- laughing, being overly indulgent, and even doing downward facing dog in public (clearly I was overserved), is something I will cherish for a lifetime. I’ve already found myself trying to find ways to bring a little Mardi Gras spirit to my life here in Houston and I’m even saying ‘Dah’lin’ a little more too.







The Emotional Detox: The Practice of Letting It Go by Heather Goodwin

Dear Friends-

I am thrilled that today one of my favorite gurus and friends, holistic health and behavioral specialist Heather Goodwin is taking over the blog to write about letting go. (Be sure to check out her previous posts about vitamin D and another about perfect parenting. I know you will enjoy them both!) Heather’s post reminds me that letting go truly is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Take it away, Heather!

XOXO, Elaine

Confession time. I’m a control freak. To the point where I try to control my control. Only to realize that my control of my control makes me more out of control! There’s a saying that reads “what you resist persists.”  So I’ve got to stop controlling my control, right? Add it to the list! Am I alone here? Come on my friends, ‘fess up!

Many of us learn the fine art of control very early on. It truly can be a survival mechanism that we may have needed to manage challenging roads as we journeyed into adulthood. But, like all good things, it’s time for it to come to an end. It’s time to let go! In fact, there’s something very liberating about airing out your dirty, stinky laundry, almost like a cleansing squirt of Febreeze for the soul! Let’s call it an ”emotional detox.”

All ancient wisdom teachings urge their followers to “let go.” C.S. Lewis, the famous Christian author encapsulates the necessity of letting go when he says, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” And in his song “Moonshadow,” good old Cat Stevens, an Islamic convert and my favorite 1970s musical guru, says it best, “And if I ever lose my legs/I won’t moan/and I won’t beg/Yes if I ever lose my legs…I won’t have to walk no more.” Ancient Jewish wisdom urges parents to understand the tremendous blessings of the proverbial “skinned knee.” Let go of the back of the bicycle seat, parents, and let them fall!

Speaking of parenting, I was recently talking with a fellow type-A mama bear who is also desperately trying to walk the path of release. We laughed at the oxymoronic juxtapositions in our personalities and desires. I shared with my friend this quote by Florida Scotts Maxwell, ”No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle aged children for signs of improvement.” I vow, right here, in front of you all, in black and white, to learn to let go before my precious controlled kids are middle aged.

Sounds good. So, what’s my plan? Well, it’s a bit wysiwyg and might not be what you expect for an emotional release, but in my own journey to loosen my grip and let go of my control freak ways, life has thrown the ultimate in my face. Challenged me to my core. Revealed the ”holy grail” of emotional baths. It’s taught me that the best way to gently walk the path of least resistance is to daily practice the fine and sometimes painful art of forgiveness. Yes, my friends, forgiveness.

I’d like to challenge you to try on this notion of forgiveness and perhaps consider a “forgiveness detox” for 2017. Why? Because you are worth it. Anne Lamont, American novelist, says it best. “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Often times the source of our pain, the person or event that hurt us, has no idea we remain captive in the toxicity. Sometimes, they don’t even care. WE are the ones being “poisoned” by our resistance to let go. Forgiveness is a soul-level cleanse for ourselves.

Before we get started, I want to mention a powerful notion called “the collective consciousness.” This occurs when more than one person engages in a transformational practice. The results are contagious and exponential. So let’s jump on the “peace train” together, knowing that collectively we create a healing synergy, whereby our new whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Although our collective intention to heal increases the power of the practice for our greater community, the intention behind the practice of forgiveness should remain solely for you.


Wondering how to start? Here are some steps on the forgiveness path to nudge you on your way:

  1. Choose a person or an event in your life that you are ready to let go of, ready to release, ready to forgive. Or maybe one that you are still white-knucking. Who or what is it? Write it down or speak it to your heart now.
  1. Honor that forgiveness is not a condoning of what the person did or what happened. Give yourself full permission to remain protected. So say or write down this: “I can forgive and I can release __________ without condoning what happened and without ever allowing it to happen again.  I forgive as a compassionate gesture toward me.”
  1. Make peace with the fact that unlike most habit changing tools, forgiveness practice does not have to be quick, and sometimes it takes more than 21 days! Right now, say or write this “I give myself permission to forgive in my heart and to allow my heart to take as long as it needs to make peace with the grief and all the toxic emotions that no longer serve me. But today, I make a choice to let go and heal.”
  1. Say this prayer daily. It is inspired by a sacred forgiveness tradition shared with me by my dear meditation teacher, Caren. “I lift up _______________and release him/her. I ask the innate intelligence of my body to find any remains of hurt and pain residing in my being at a conscious or unconscious level and let it go. I choose to invite the freedom of forgiveness now and forever.”

As you begin this forgiveness journey, congratulate yourself for exercising the courage to release, for reaching for your soul’s harmony. There is great freedom in letting go. There is renewed energy when we no longer have to micro-manage the toxic emotions. The liberation of forgiveness brings a lightness and a true cleansing.

The gentle and wise psychologist, Jack Kornfield, shares a story that has impacted me greatly. He reiterates Lamott’s suggestion that is it WE who are poisoning ourselves by not forgiving. He tells of an American ex-prisoner of war who met a fellow ex-prisoner of war years after the Vietnam War. The first POW asks the second, “Have you forgiven your captors yet?” The second POW responds with forced strength, “No! Never!” The first POW looks at him and says, “Well, I guess they still have you imprisoned then, don’t they?”

May you find deep inner healing as you practice these four simple steps, knowing that your forgiveness practice not only bathes and frees your own soul, but through forgiveness, you can heal our world.

Heather M resizedHeather M. Goodwin, MA, HHP

As the Director of Heights of Health Mind Wellness Division, Heather empowers adults and children with proven life-transforming tools and interventions. Her multi-disciplinary approach is rooted in the recognition that physical issues cannot be separated from emotional, social, spiritual, and psychological influences and the whole person must be taken into account to achieve optimal whole-person health. Heather’s mindfulness and behaviorally-based approach leads individuals to make sustainable choices that bring life-changing outcomes within reach.

Heather holds a master’s degree in education and is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner. Heather has served as a teacher, a district-wide behavior specialist for a large urban school district, as a lead associate in one of our nation’s top consulting firms and later as the director of behavior programs for an innovative publishing company located in Colorado.

After 20+ years in the educational, behavioral and holistic health fields, Heather remains a requested national speaker and recognized behavior specialist. Heather happily resides in the Houston Heights with her husband, Mike and their two awesome children, Sophia (10) and Nicholas (7).

Follow Heather Goodwin and Heights of Health on Facebook.

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