Ode to the FIERCE Woman

Ink

There are those who will try and break you
shatter spirits shrouded in their own insecurities
Inflict wounds with splintered tongues
They will call you every name except your own
make you doubt your greatness.

They will compare you to Nina, Jessica, and Marie.
Make you question your beauty, as if your glory
could ever be contained in mere flesh and bone.

Why do you entertain such vernacular?

When yours is the back where aspirations are born
the roadmap to creativity and ambition
the house of the holy and divine.

Your hips will give life to the future.
Your lips will inspire revolution.

You are Hera, Athena, and Isis.
Goddess is your birthright.

Make them kneel to you in prayer.
Plant roots on soil coveted by Gods.
Establish your foundation in this life and the next.

Remind them that you were born from star dust
so the next time they forget your name
tell them you are royalty
and make them bow their heads
in respect.

©2014 Nancy Arroyo Ruffin
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Effectively Working With Affirmations: How to speak into existence the life of your dreams

 

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~Buddha

I am a huge advocate of affirmations and a firm believer of speaking into existence that which we want. People are often curious about how to make affirmations work and how to use affirmations effectively.

What is an affirmation?

Affirmations are, well, affirming statements that you say out loud to yourself on a regular basis. The goal is to re-program your subconscious mind with positive thoughts so that you can remove any negative thoughts preventing you from pursuing your goals and dreams. Affirmations are a powerful personal development tool that I’ve used over the past few years to help me stay present to the possibility of living my ideal life.

We all have that little pesky inner voice that completely takes over our mind at times. How we have trained that voice to speak can either help us achieve the life of our dreams or it can derail us and completely throw us off track. What we constantly tell ourselves either consciously or subconsciously is what we become, whether we realize it or not.  We all have some type of negative mental chatter  that often prevents us from truly following our dreams.This chatter can be caused by fear, doubt, low self-esteem, lack of confidence or simply limiting beliefs that you probably developed during childhood. This self-criticism tends to reinforce the general theories we’ve come to believe about ourselves or our circumstances.

The good news is you can begin to override these destructive messages using the power of positive affirmations. Affirmations can reinforce productive behaviors and change ones that need changing. Here’s how to create affirmations you can identify with so they can help you improve your life!

I found this great article by Katheryn Hoban and thought it would be helpful. Enjoy!

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In my years of teaching and counseling I have come to the conclusion that many people are unsure of what affirmations are, how to use them, what great tools they can be, or what good benefits can be manifested by working with affirmations in both children and adults. In the simplest form an affirmation is a statement of a positive effect, result, or of a future event that you would like to achieve. Usually an affirmation is stated in the present moment and in positive verbiage and wordage. For an example “ I can do this” as opposed to “I’d like to do this” or “I’m going to do this.” The sentence “ I can do this” is set in the present moment and it implies confidence in one’s ability to accomplish the task and an immediacy to take action. The statement “ I’d like to do this.” Implies that it is not quite possible but you are yearning to do it but (something out of your control) is preventing that. “I’m going to do this” implies sometime in the future when all the conditions are right. In that case we can make an assumption that the conditions will never be right.

To effectively work and create affirmations for yourself  it is better to create patterns of repetition in saying the phrase out loud many times per day if need be, or weekly and using a creative visualization technique to anchor the effects of the affirmation in your mind and your body. For an example if you wish to give up smoking. The best way to phrase the affirmation would be “I’m smoke free.” “I enjoy being smoke free.” “ I enjoy being a non-smoker.”
In these examples you would repeat the affirmations and design a creative visualization (of events in the future but seen in present moment time) of you being a fulfilled non-smoker. You could imagine yourself doing an activity and feeling free and joyful that you are without a cigarette. You could imagine that you are visiting with children who previously were reluctant to spend time with you because of your smoking and how much you enjoy that visit. You could imagine that you feel the breath in your lungs very different and that you can actually breathe freely.

On repeating the affirmations, a new pattern of hope, expectancy and action would be created for future moments to unfold. If you can picture in your mind the thing that you want to achieve, as if it is already done, and you are feeling wonderful about receiving it, that combined with the affirmation is a very effective tool of change.

Let’s look at some affirmations. “I’m easily and effortlessly attracting the right business contacts to promote my work.” If you imagined in your mind; the smiles, the handshakes and the business meeting going very well and the ultimate picture of you receiving the benefits of new business and the achieving the results that you want and need every time that you said that affirmation, you begin to attract what you are confirming to the universe.

“I am fearless.” If you said this out loud it would be very effective to raise your voice and emphasis the word fearless. If you raised your hand in a strong gesture it further anchors the strength and courage that you feel in your body. The visual image that may go along with “I am fearless,” could be seeing yourself confronting a strong adversary and you looking right into his or her eyes and feeling in your heart that you are too strong to cower, and that you are planted firmly to the Earth.

“I can do this easily and effortlessly.” Imagine yourself in the zone so to speak where you barely make any effort at all and everything falls into place. Feel in your body and heart, how joyful, casual and confident you are about everything coming quickly together for you. Use an example in your past successes when something came together just as easily and remember how happy and light you felt when it did.

“I am the perfect weight for me.” Instead of focusing on how much weight you wish to lose, which implies that you are not perfect as you are, focus on how it would feel to fit into the size jeans that you always wanted to fit into. Also focus on how good it would feel in your slim clothing and seeing yourself in the mirror at the weight that your body looks absolutely fabulous in. See yourself very energized with your newly trim fit body, and how then you would act, walk, run, play and enjoy yourself.

Affirmations are best spoken out loud; the vibrations of the spoken positive expression are impactful to your psyche or a child’s. They are also best repeated until a new pattern is created. Create your own affirmations, or read from a book of affirmations, or listen to affirmations on tapes or CD’s. Keep revisiting these affirmations daily. Affirmations build confidence, help you to overcome low self-esteem, create balance, and space, helps you to get past feelings of guilt, and condemnation, clears obstacles, or limitations, create new patterns of health and well-being, and may produce feelings of prosperity and abundance. Of course Affirmations are not a cure-all, but they are very powerful and effective tools for you and your child to transform a challenging area in life. Every time that you say an affirmation with conviction you are creating a new unfolding moment to engage in a new fulfilled, balance, healthy, or abundant way of being.
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Katheryn Hoban is a certified yoga teacher and Reiki Master teacher with 10 years of experience. She has created two CD on affirmations. (Affirmations for Children and Teens and Affirmations for Adults.)
She can be reached at PO Box 7564 North Bergen, NJ 07047 or e-mail katscoolcorner@yahoo.com. You can purchase each CD for $10 + 2.00 shipping and handling or with paypal.
Wholesale prices are also available for a minimum purchase of 10 CD’s @$4.00 per CD plus $1.00 shipping ($50.00). Paypal is also an acceptable form of payment.

Revolutionary Women: We are not our mother’s daughters

women_against_veil

As many of you may know I am a writer. For those of you that don’t know I have written 3 books all of which are heavily influenced by my experiences as a Puerto Rican woman born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Last night I had the opportunity to talk to a phenomenal woman who read my book Letters to My Daughter and one of her favorite lines is “You preferred me voiceless” from a piece I wrote entitled Skin. That particular line comes from what I saw as child growing up in a traditional Puerto Rican family.

I grew up in a family where the men made all the decisions. Generational conditioning had acclimatized the women in my family to do as their husbands, fathers, brothers said and to never question them about anything. To me, these women were voiceless; powerless. They were nothing more than trophies, porcelain dolls, or expensive pieces of art to be hung on display. They were to be seen and not heard.

My paternal grandmother played her role well, always mindful of my grandfather’s needs and desires. If she was the trophy he was the conquistador equipped with charm that comes only from experience. A big spender, he knew exactly how to court a woman. His wandering eye often impelled him to send over a round of drinks to any woman who happened to gain his attention at the night club. Other times, if he was feeling particularly cocky he’d invite the woman over to his table to join him. If she agreed, she’d be on one side of him and my grandmother would be sitting on the other. For a poor man who migrated to the US from Puerto Rico without much, he knew that as long as he had money there was nothing he could not attain.

My father was like him in that sense. He also knew that with money came respect, status, and power, though not always in that order. And while my father was the younger version of my grandfather mirroring everything about him from his name, to his flashiness, to how he pursued and treated women they both wanted more for their own daughters. They never wanted their daughters to be one of those women.

My mother admits that it was my father’s nice car and flashy style that she was initially attracted to and although my father wasn’t as brazen as my grandfather with his infidelity there were always rumors. As I got older and started to get a better understanding of gender roles (both traditional and non-traditional) I began to wonder why both my mother and grandmother allowed themselves to be disrespected and in a sense de-valued. For a very long time it affected how I viewed relationships and marriage. By the time I was 17 I’d decided that I didn’t want any of it. I didn’t want a relationship nor did I want to get married. My fear was that I’d lose myself in a relationship; I equated being in a relationship and more specifically being married with loss of freedom and power.

For years I had seen my mother ask my father for permission for everything as if she were a child. If she wanted to go out with her friends or sisters she needed permission. When she wanted to go back to school (an endeavor that my father supported) she needed permission. When she finally started working (after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years) she’d hand her paycheck over to my father and then have to ask him for money when she needed it. To this day she has never paid a bill, lived on her own, or made any major decisions on her own. If my sister and I wanted to do something or go anywhere it was my father who we needed to get permission from. My mom had no power as a woman, wife, even mother.

After years of successfully avoiding a serious relationship I eventually met and fell in love with the man who would become my husband. When I got married I started doing the very things that I’d sworn I would never do or put up with. Little by little I saw myself metamorphosing into my mother and while my husband didn’t cheat (not that I’m aware of) there were other similarities. I found myself asking for permission to do basic things like go out with my sister and girlfriends. As a married woman I thought it was what I was supposed to do. That was due in part to my naiveté as a young bride and what I saw between my parents growing up. Subconsciously it had been embedded in my psyche.

My desire to be a good wife (whatever that meant) as well as be an independent and progressive woman, clashed. I did not know how to reconcile the two, resulting in my husband and me separating many times. I was continuing the cycle. I was repeating everything I had witnessed in my parents’ and grandparents’ marriages. My grandmother eventually divorced my grandfather and although she re-married a couple of times she died alone with no spouse or partner.

My parents since then have come a long way. They now have a healthy and loving marriage where they each are equal partners. Still, it did not come without hard work and sacrifice from both of them. They realized that in order to make it work they would both have to give up some of the things they had conditioned themselves to do. This was true for my marriage too. After many separations my husband and I realized that if we wanted our marriage to survive and thrive we had to be willing to break free of the cultural conditioning we had been taught –either directly, or indirectly on gender roles. We needed to decide if our marriage was worth it or if we were going our separate ways. In the end we decided it was worth it.

A while ago in a writing workshop I was asked what my origin story is. Initially, I didn’t have an answer. After giving it some thought, I realized everything I witnessed as a child has influenced who I am, but more specifically my writing. I realized that my desire to write comes from the things I wished my grandmother, my mother, even I would have said all those times we conceded to our husbands. I realized that I write so that I never lose my voice or power. I write so that my daughter does not repeat the cycle. I write so that I can tell the stories of women who are not brave enough to tell their own. I write because I refuse to be anyone’s trophy, porcelain doll, or piece of art. Am I a feminist? Maybe. All I know is that I want my voice to be the voice of the voiceless. My writing is my revolution. I write so that we can be heard. I write because I refuse to be voiceless.

On love and finding the person who completes you

“i found god in myself and i loved her. i loved her fiercely.”  – Ntozake Shange

Most of us spend a great deal of our lives looking for love, chasing love, recuperating from love or complaining about love. Never realizing that in our quest for love we are neglecting the person that matters most.  Ourselves.

I believe that as women we often disregard our own needs as a result of always taking care of other people. We spend so much time seeking out and working on developing external relationships that often times we forget to work on the relationship within.  We give so much of ourselves emotionally, physically, and spiritually that  eventually we end up depleted seeking fulfillment from someone else.

However, we can not look to another to fulfill us, “to complete us”, as eloquently stated in Jerry Maguire. We can only seek to fulfill ourselves, to give to ourselves that which we freely give to others; others, who often times don’t deserve it and that is LOVE.  Learn to fall in love with YOU!

Love yourself! Deeply and profoundly! Know that the most important relationship that you could ever have is the relationship that you have with yourself. When that relationship is strong you will see that you will be happier, healthier, and that you will no longer put up with or accept mediocrity from anyone.

Walk in your divine self. You are love, made from love and made to be loved. By loving yourself you teach others how to love you.  Love is not something that comes from someone else; it is an extension of our own minds, reverberating back to us in what seems to be another person’s smile (Williamson, 1993).

When you learn to truly fall in love with you, your entire life begins to change. It changes because when you are in love your main priority is making the person you’re in love with happy. Imagine applying that concept to yourself. Imagine putting your own happiness first. Only you have the power to do this. When you take back your power you take back control of your happiness because you now realize that happiness comes from within. Any happiness that you find with someone else is in addition to the happiness that you already have.

There is no other person on the Universe that can complete you. You were born a “whole” individual, you were not born in pieces. Movies and music will have you believe that in order to be completely happy you need someone else. This is a fallacy. When you allow yourself to believe this you are saying to the other person “I can only be happy if I am with you”…This sort of thinking is the thinking that allows many to stay in hurtful, dysfunctional, abusive relationships because the individual believes that they can only be happy with this abuser. Here’s a reality check if it hurts chances are you aren’t happy. Therefore, why stay in a hurtful situation? Love isn’t supposed to hurt. It’s supposed to encourage, uplift, inspire, motivate, empower. Love is supposed to feel good. When you love yourself you don’t hurt yourself. Therefore, you should never allow someone who says they love you to hurt you either. If they do then it’s time to kick them to curb.

I am aware that until we get to the point where  we’ve had enough of things that hurt and long more than anything for a peaceful love, we are bound to take painful roads. We are destined to play out frivolous disasters until we declare ourselves finished and done with them (Williamson, 1993). This is the nature of life, but when you truly love yourself you will put up with far less nonsense and get out of that unhealthy relationship much sooner.

The following passage I read somewhere and post here for all of you. It reminds me of the power that I have when I choose to take control of my thoughts and feelings.

You can completely transform any relationship, no matter what it’s like right now.  Every single relationship you have is a reflection of how you feel inside about you. You are a magnet attracting to you all things, via the signal you are emitting through your thoughts and feelings. Every relationship you have and every interaction with every person, is a reflection of your own thoughts and feelings in that very moment. To transform every single relationship you have in your life:

Fall in love with YOU!

Make lists of the hundreds and hundreds of wonderful things about you. Keep adding to it every day. Know that you are perfect. Do not think any negative thoughts about you. Know that you are worthy and deserving of anything and everything you could possibly want in your life. Focus on the wonderful things in every person. Look for only those things. Do not blame or criticize anybody, ever. Set an intention that you are going to see the best in everything and everyone. Make your happiness the number one thing in your life. Happiness is an inside job. Free yourself of the responsibility of trying to make other people happy. Respect and love them enough to allow them to take care of their own happiness. Get your attention off those things in others that don’t make you feel good. Appreciate and love yourself in every moment you can. Do not expect others to behave in a way you want, so you will be happy. Release yourself forevermore and know that you alone control your happiness and it is a choice, no matter what anyone else is doing. Love and respect yourself completely. Know that you are perfect right now.- Unknown

Because you are.

The FIERCE Woman™

On self love and why it’s important

I wasn’t always the confident and well put together woman that I am today. For many years I struggled with my weight (or lack thereof) and hated my thick unruly hair. My teeth looked like the jagged edges of a picket fence and I spent many days and nights wishing that I looked more like my sister who was petite, had long beautiful wavy hair and overall had more refined features. When I was about nine or ten my family and I were at an amusement park and as I proceeded to walk into the ladies bathroom someone had mistaken me for a boy. I was tall for my age, skinny, and my hair was cut into a curly afro because my mother either did not know how to manage it or simply did not want to. I really don’t know, but I remember shrugging the incident off at the time because I didn’t want anyone knowing how much it had hurt me. That event was something that I carried with me for a long time.

My hair and weight are issues that I’ve spent the majority of my life battling.  I’ve experimented with everything from jheri curls to relaxers to keratin treatments to weight gainers to drinking cases of Nutrament, Periactin (pills and in liquid form), even stuffing my face with plates of arroz con gandules. For most of my life I was as skinny as a twig and as flat as a board. I was genetically made up to be a slim woman and instead of embracing it I’d try hiding my slimness by wearing multiple layers of clothes. For the most part that was okay, except when summertime came around and the NYC humidity made it almost unbearable to wear anything let alone 3 or 4 layers of clothes.

For a long time I tried everything to fit into the standard of beauty defined by society and by my family. Those little comments that they think are harmless can in fact become our inner voice and if we are not conscious of it can let it ruin our self-esteem and our lives. In my life, my mother and sister are always the first to let me know if I look too fat or too skinny, if my hair isn’t up to par, or if I’m wearing something that they disapprove of. Even when I’m lounging around at home my sister disapproves of the scarves I wear on my head; or the fact that I really enjoy wearing my husband’s pajamas instead of the typical female nightwear. To her, I should wear something more feminine.  At 37 I’ve learned to silence the negative voices so now when someone disapproves of how I look or what I say I let it roll off my back. I’ve realized that whatever it is about me that bothers them is their issue not mine. It wasn’t always like this and it takes a strong sense of self and self discovery to not allow another person’s perception of us to define us.

It wasn’t until I reached my thirties that I finally started to put on weight. Coincedentally (or not) it was until my thirties that I also finally started to love the skin I was in. When I turned 30 I decided that instead of focusing on those things that I wasn’t happy with I would instead focus on the things that I loved about me. I also decided that I would spend some time thinking about the things I didn’t like and ask myself why I had an issue with those things. Once I did that, I discovered that the things I thought I didn’t like about myself had all been issues that other people had with me. Once I realized that, I began releasing all my self-deprecating thoughts and behaviors. I started slowly loving myself and everything that made me uniquely me. I finally learned how to manage and love my beautiful thick hair and though I was still slim, I also learned to love my body. Once I started loving myself (flaws and all) I started feeling a lot happier and more confident. Now, every day that I awake I give thanks for all of the things that make me uniquely me revelling in the fact that there is no other person in this world like me. I wake up with purpose and with a desire to be my best self. It is what I hope to pass down to my daughter. I want to make sure that her inner voice reminds her of how beautiful she is even if she does look different.

Today I along with relationship expert Sujeiry Gonzalez and meia personality Leticia Reyes had the opportunity to participate on a panel about self-love and being self-first. The most important thing that I believe I said to the students of St. Joseph’s College is that once you compare yourself to others you take away from your own uniqueness and the thing that makes you special. No one ever remembers the person that fits in. It’s the person that stands out that they won’t be able to forget. Embrace your individuality, it’s your trademark.