December 30, 2012

{A Romance with Self}

[At this time of year, here's a lovely way to end something completing and begin something anew—“A Romance with Self” ... an excerpt from my book-in-progress, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride....enjoy!]

Like so many characters in a Jane Austen novel, some people sell themselves short in the area of romance, not considering themselves worthy of what their hearts truly desire. They make an “arrangement” where they settle for something meager with no romance at all, with nothing that lights them up. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet’s dear, rather plain friend Charlotte Lewis considers it “best not to know too much” when considering the slim possibilities of marriage—a rather necessary state for women in a world at that time where their legal rights and education opportunities were suppressed. Women had learned they were not able to trust a societal system that had let them down in so many ways. A humble Charlotte to a bold Lizzie:

I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’ character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.

We are all worthy of being a full partner in our relationships and in marriage—even a royal one! Full partnership, however, requires an open heart, trusting in yourself, asking for what you want, and a forgiving spirit. It takes a lot of courage not to “settle” for things in our life—whether choosing a single life or one with a partner. If what your heart desires is being deeply related to another who recognizes and accepts who you are just the way you are, then it’s not the romance that gets you there—although its passion can warm your heart at first. It is intimacy that guides you into the openings for this kind of love.

What if Princess Diana had realized that romance was just the first step in a relationship—a way to “warm up” for the harder stuff? What if she had been able to see romance as a way to soften the heart when expectations fall short? What if she had been willing and able to recreate the love she felt over and over, like a “soulful romance,” giving her relationships a chance to grow? What if she could have loved herself in a way that love for a partner was fully given and fully received? Where do you see yourself in this scenario?

Oscar Wilde said: “To love one’s self is the beginning of a life-long romance.” This is one way where I see romance having an authentic, vibrant role in our everyday lives. When we allow every moment to be a precious gift—with or without a partner, no matter our circumstances—and learn to love ourselves just the way we are. Like a romance with self! Then every moment is an “enthusiasm” as Webster’s definition reads and, as author Ann Albers so beautifully expresses, “cooking becomes an act of love, cleaning an act of harmony, work an act of self-expression. Our life would be a romance with self, a romance with the divine, a romance with every moment in time.” Amen. ~
[At this time of year, here's a lovely way to end something completing and begin something anew—“A Romance with Self” ... an excerpt from my book-in-progress, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride....]

December 21, 2012

{This Moment}

[In honor of all the cosmic changes swirling this time of year and the connections to the ancient Mayans, I share this excerpt from "Is That the Truth?" in Chapter One of my upcoming book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Rescued the Damsel in Distress.]
        In this book’s introduction, I spoke of the significance of the year 2011 in the legacy of Princess Diana. [It was the 30th anniversary of Diana and Prince Charles' wedding, the year of her 50th birthday, and the year her oldest son William—with whom she had a deep soul-level connection—married.] But what I described as a shapeshifting sort of year also held some far-reaching cosmic landmarks for people, containing ideas that move beyond our sense of time and space and beliefs, yet continue to shape our search for deepening awareness—and encourage us to question “is that true or is that illusion?”

One such landmark related to a discovery about the legendary Mayan calendars—yes, there was more than one and all a complicated series of inscriptions, codes and glyphs. Yet one of those calendars, according to Dr. Carl Johan Calleman, was a timeline marking the evolution of consciousness from the beginning of time, some 16.4 billion years ago, into the future—and that future is now! This is what had people focusing on the year 2012 for decades. However, October 28, 2011 was the date that Dr. Calleman and other Mayan experts, reconfiguring this ancient almanac of sacred time, declared as the calendar’s actual last recorded day; not December 21, 2012 as long thought. (Nor, as talking-heads had shouted for years, was it to be “the end of the world”—only the end of “old time.”) So whenever you read this—the age of new beginnings, the “new time” is here. At this very moment, we are inside what the wisdom of ancient mystics foretold: the new era of “developed consciousness.” What that means may be a bit fuzzy, but this is what it says to me: You are now free of your past! The world is your co-creative playmate so go and celebrate your life, trusting in this blessedly sweet moment, and do what lights you up.

And if the world looks a little bleak still (it usually gets darker before the light breaks through), there’s a reason since these kind of global shifts take time—it’s a big ole universe! One of those Mayan calendars, experts say, was tracking Earth’s galactic alignment and according to its calculations we’re still on the dark side of the Milky Way—we have a few more years before we’re “out of the Cosmic Woods and back into the ‘light’,” author and Taoist teacher Michael Winn explains. (Unless you’re reading this after, say 2016, then we’re already there!) ‘Til then, hold deep in your heart what the heroic Dr. Calleman’s years of study discovered about the Mayans and their divinely guided revelations: That we are at the beginning of the “long rumored” Age of Enlightenment, or as others may call it, the Golden Age, Heaven on Earth, the 1,000 Years of Peace.

Is all this the truth? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I choose the story that comes from love instead of fear. I know that when I am quiet and look to the wisdom of stillness within, I feel this new consciousness and I trust. So whatever year it is, whatever pain or obstacles are in front of you, choose love in the magic of this very moment.

What else is it about 2011 that may shine some light on this magical mystery tour we’re all on? It was also the year that welcomed the “day of ones” on November 11, 2011: 11.11.11. Numerologists say that eleven is considered a “power number” and elevens together form a gateway of no obstructions, of open flow. So on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour (Greenwich Mean Time) of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year, people worldwide came together for a moment of quiet awareness and simply paused—just to be in the moment. And in so doing, it became a moment of unity consciousness and your life was changed whether you participated or not—or even if you had no idea what day it was! (A little over a year later something similar happened on December 12, 2012—perhaps attention on the date was as much about the anticipation of the publicized end of the Mayan calendar on the 21st as it was about rare numerology and unique astronomical alignments.)

However, something shifted in your life and the world not because these numbers or dates essentially “mean” anything. (Paraphrasing transformational teacher Werner Erhard: Something happens—it is what it is—and then we make it mean something. Then we live our lives out of the “meaning” that we made up!) The world shifted because of where the numbers had us go: within, and what they had us notice: each other. It wasn’t about numbers, but about relationship…about where we put our attention. These phenomena did and will show us that in the infinitesimal gasp of a moment, we can feel connected to the world.

Consequently these numbers and dates were perhaps just a vehicle to create an awareness of a new possibility; to bring people together in like consciousness to really see each other. It was an opportunity to look into the galactic mirror of ourselves—perhaps to know the truth? And then again, maybe it was something else.
So whatever future day or year it happens to be when you are reading this, keep in mind and heart:
Every belief can be reframed with another meaning and every meaning has a different interpretation; ancient wisdom can affect the present, yet the present reinvents itself in the moment; every moment is a possibility of the discovery of something divine and the divinity is already inside you; nothing is completely what it seems and what it seems is simply a clue into its truth; there is nothing that holds you back from creating the life you love that your mind cannot re-imagine; all of life is a mystery of the heart and it takes an open heart to hear the message you were born to receive. 
And the life of a beautiful princess—its shadows, its light; what we think we saw and heard and read about it, or what mysteries happened a bit “beyond the veil”—is just the life of a beautiful princess. It can inspire us to open our hearts and be a compassionate force in the world or it can dazzle us ‘til we lose ourselves again. It’s what we do with our life that makes the difference. And you get to choose, this very moment.
Given the “as above, so below” mysteries of the universe, perhaps it was no accident that Diana, who became an archetypal princess known for her compassionate heart, appears on the world’s radar the same time, around the winter solstice of 1980, that the Earth began its transit across what experts call our galaxy’s Dark Rift—a journey to last as many years as she lived. Who knows why people give up their lives—I believe the timing is connected to some bigger calling—but maybe the worldwide blasting open of hearts at Diana’s death (and followed by Mother Teresa’s death a few days later), midway through the Earth’s transit, was part of this comic puzzle. The heart energy released has been helping move us safely through the remaining years of darkness as, in Winn’s words, “the Earth’s slowly tilting axis fully crosses this darkened area of the Galactic center.” The Mayans predicted this astronomically many centuries ago just as they saw we are now moving literally, figuratively, cosmically, spiritually—however you want to call it—into the light of the new consciousness. (I love it when modern culture has to acknowledge that ancient wisdom may be far beyond our own in some ways and that modern science is not the only way to “see” things!) 
Heavenly bodies have been busy with mysterious movements and alignments for the Earth to get poised just so, but heaven has also been busy re-aligning our hearts in anticipation of what’s next. Almost fifteen years after Princess Diana’s death, the planet named after the ancient Roman Goddess of Love was in the news. The transit of Venus becomes a kind of eclipse in rare and historically foretelling occurrences, “but instead of the moon covering the sun or vice versa, the planet Venus shows up outlined against the solar orb,” as spiritual business blogger Elizabeth Locey explains it. (The Venusian girl takes center stage in front of Old Man Sun!) A rare happening, yes, but it happens in pairs eight years apart and the “Venus Transit” in 2012 was the back-end of the pair, creating “a huge portal of energy.” In the past, this wave of feminine, inventive, open, intuitive energies “ushered in a new age” like the European Renaissance which was the first blush of an age of enlightenment; and during other Venus Transits, Magellan discovered the world was round, the telephone was patented and additional mass communication methods were devised—all building to this era of a network of global interconnections. And according to those who are keenly tuned-in to these cosmic energies, this most recent Venus Transit was a humdinger…bringing the rebirth, the renaissance of the Divine Feminine. And if 2012—considered the year of choice—was indeed the year, according to Locey, that “at one critical moment, every heart [was] read” by those of some divine realm in order to see if love outweighed fear, then wherever you are this moment, it is the perfect time to breathe in the energies of love and light—like the Goddess Venus herself—then breathe love back out into this amazing, abundant world where your best self is patiently waiting.

“This is our time now to shine,” spiritual teacher and healer Jo Dunning shared as she explained the energetic flow of the Venus Transit. “Our time to live from our heart and allow our belief in something much greater to carry us through the changes currently taking place. This time right now is just the completion of the old ways to make room for the creation of something new.” If there was ever a time for us to realize that there is always another way to look at things, it is now. “This time of change is sometimes known as chaos, or the Divine Chaos of Creation,” Dunning added. “It is from the chaos that we will begin to create something much more wonderful for everyone.” Whatever time it is, whatever doubts you may have, whatever is happening in the heavens above or bubbling up from the Earth beneath us, it is time to believe in love. ~ 

[In honor of all the cosmic changes swirling this time of year and the connections to the ancient Mayans, I share this excerpt from Chapter One "Is That the Truth?" from my upcoming book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Rescued the Damsel in Distress.]


December 6, 2012

{While Everyone Is Looking}

[This a reprint of my article in the Winter 2012 issue of SEASON Magazine. Once online, click the cover image and scroll to page 86...or just enjoy here! CP] 


I remember as a young associate editor at Vogue magazine in the early 1970s when fashion director Polly Mellen—famous for starting international style trends—told me she wore black to a friend’s wedding. Once I caught my breath I responded: “I don’t think it’s a trend that’ll catch on!” There was a time—hard to believe now with the ubiquitous black bridesmaid dresses—that wearing black to a wedding (as a guest or bridal attendant) was unheard of since black had long been considered the color of mourning in our culture.

I may have been wrong about the future popularity of wearing black to weddings and perhaps a bit old-fashioned in this anything goes modern world, but sometimes what’s “appropriate” is also what’s most “attractive.” And maybe I’m stepping on toes here, but black is not a color that looks good on everybody, it doesn’t photograph well (haven’t you seen photographs of bridal attendants where it’s mostly a black blob?) and it’s just not a happy color! (Aren’t weddings about celebration?)

Another wedding fashion trend not on my favorites list is the obsession for strapless gowns. (Although I believe when a “trend” lasts longer than most marriages, it becomes a “classic” whether we like it or not!) I understand the strapless appeal in our over-sized, over-casual, over-sexy world: without shoulders and sleeves, it can be an easy fit for all sizes, comfortable to move around in and yes, even glamorous—d├ęcolletage is in! 

However, in an effort to save us from ourselves, I’ve written articles and blog posts for many years with titles like “Consider Not Wearing a Strapless Dress, Unless…” explaining how when you move, your strapless gown doesn’t necessarily move with you, nor does it camouflage anything and it exposes much more than you ever imagined. But it’s not even the underarms, the explosion of breasts or having to stare at bare backs during the wedding service; it’s that ugly “tug.”
I’ve seen brides and bridesmaids—who have great poise otherwise and look good in their strapless gown (from most angles)—do that awkwardly unattractive underarm “yank and tug” like they’re in the privacy of the ladies’ room instead of while everyone’s actually looking on! I understand that the gown feels like it’s falling off, but if brides don’t want their wedding remembered for such “oops” moments, then maybe every strapless gown should come with a must-read “code of conduct” before wearing.

(Although there was no correlation in the strapless trend and the closing of my bridal art-to-wear shop in Atlanta at the end of 1999, but my designers did vow to strike if they had to make one more strapless gown!)

All that said, every generation has their share of “How could I have done that?” kind of trends. Maybe it’ll be okay if we make choices as best we can and just hope there’s no cell phone camera around at those awkward moments when we assume no one is looking! (And with the high divorce rate, you think it’s true all that black worn at weddings does indeed deliver ominous wishes for the bride and groom?) Even more than ever, it’s a brave new world! ~