Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Vision Board

           This is a little screen shot from the pinterest board that I'm tying to create for my "Vision Board".   If you've never heard of them, this is a motivational tool to help you to reach your goals. If you choose images that strike an emotional chord in you, and you visualize yourself having, being, and doing those things that are on your board, then the natural opportunities for you to achieve these dreams will come to pass.....after all, you already accepted it as reality in your mind, so the fears that block you won't be as strong....presumably. The issue is, I got seriously STUCK emotionally in a few places whilst trying to build said board.
        I read a book by the ripped lady in the picture above. Her name is Carol Whitaker (book is "Ridiculously Happy-The Secret to Manifesting the Life and Body of your Dreams") and she said that when she was working on manifesting the way she wanted to look, she found some inspirational pictures of other women that had the same coloring, and the shape she wanted, and then she used those to visualize. 
        I tried that, and I got stuck on all sorts of nit-picky, beat-myself-up, cower in the corner sucking my thumb-type of details.  But, I'm a stocky girl! But...I don't want to look like someone ELSE's version of perfection, I want to look like my own! I don't want to steal....or something like that. 
       Holy Face, I'm even feeling stuck trying to write this blog. The vision board scares the crap out of me.  How do you do a vision board without nearly wetting yourself with fear and anxiety!? Am I doing it wrong? Help me, Damselite ladies. You're my only hope. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015


      Yesterday, I was justifying to my friend why I didn't want to buy myself new clothing. These were my very reasonable sounding reasons:
-"You shouldn't buy more clothing until you lose more weight? I mean, you ARE losing, AREN'T YOU?"
-"Nobody makes clothing that looks good on my body"
-"These styles don't flatter me."
-"I'll buy myself new things when I've reached my goals" (in all reality, this means, when I'm perfect.)
-"I don't go anywhere outside of work. I just sit and sew everyday, all day long. I don't NEED nice clothes...I guess unless I want to wear high heels and a fancy blouse to the gym!"

         Then, I realized, to my utter HORROR, that these are the exact same reasons that people give when they're talking themselves out of a corset! Now, mind you, it actually doesn't happen very often, but generally, this is how the exchange goes. Woman comes into booth. Michelle is excited to meet new person, tries to get to know them. Michelle laces woman into corset that will enhance her coloring, body shape, and personality. Woman looks into mirror and DOESN'T automatically criticize what she sees! Praise the Lord!  Then, the excuses start coming. "Well...I really shouldn't until I lose more weight" (I DO hope you all realize that I do alterations all the dang time. I'm up to altering about 10-15 corsets a WEEK for the customers that have lost weight!), "I don't have anywhere I could possibly wear this" (I'm standing in front of you, wearing a corset at a renaissance festival. You came to the festival to have fun. You know what could enhance your experience?),  "I'm going to wait until.....*insert thing here*."

       I know this is coming off as me being critical, and I promise, the tone of this blog is for me to say, "Holy face!! These women are coming into my life so that they can help ME see MYSELF more clearly, and hopefully, in turn, I can help them!"  What a blessed gift!!!  And you know, it's so easy for me to look at this woman making these excuses and think, "What in the potty words is she talking about? She is SO beautiful, and SO vibrant, and has SO many possibilities and SO much potential!  Why would she settle for any less that epic? Why would she put conditions on when she will be able to be kind to herself? What???"

       I promise, I'm learning to say the same things to myself. It's re-programming 29 years of mental habit, so I hope you will be patient, and I, in turn, will be more patient and loving to you....because that's what we all need. Love and acceptance.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Smashing the A.N.T.S.!

      I heard something recently that absolutely delighted me!  I was listening to a podcast, and the guy was giving advice about how to change your life, and he said that you had to great REALLY good at smashing the "A.N.T.s" in your life....or rather Automatic-Negative-Thoughts.  Brilliant, BRILLIANT!

       Just this morning, I thought,  "Okay, I'm going to write in my journal, like I've been promising myself for years" and then I AUTOMATICALLY thought, "Yeah, but you don't have enough time. You've got to get to work sewing corsets."  And then I thought, "I'm going to smash that thought into oblivion with this EVEN BETTER THOUGHT!  My even better thought was, "Michelle, do you live in a scarcity mindset or an abundance mindset? Is there truly not enough time for you to take care of yourself and gain more self respect by keeping promises you made to yourself? "
        This was a much better thought because it INSPIRED ME, and it MADE ME THINK, and it OPENED UP MY MIND TO NEW IDEAS!  The automatic negative thought would have done this domino effect, most likely, if I had let it. Michelle thinks there's not enough time. Michelle doesn't pause to reflect on her life and how she could be better by journaling. Instead, she just gets to work, head down, brain frustrated. That frustrated brain is living in a world where there is not enough time, and that creates stress. That stress gets sewn into the corsets, and then there are more customer problems down the road, because of that negative energy. Michelle thinks that if there's not enough time, there's also not enough money, and by thinking that, she automatically steers energy AWAY from her company and her products.  (I truly believe people can feel the environment in which a product is created. In handmade products, there is generally LIFE, and LOVE, and VITALITY, and a STORY!  In mass-produced, cheaply manufactured, products that are only sewn to get gain, and not to serve, there is an absence of life,  love, and vitality. There is deadness. There is disrespect. There is no reason to hold onto, or treasure these things. They just get thrown away and you replace them with another. Who the heck cares?  Yuck.)  And the negativity spreads like wildfire from there.
         An ABUNDANCE mindset says this.  There is enough time for ME. There is enough money in this world for everyone to be successful, at their own comfort level, if they are taught to train their brain to reach out and grab a hold of it! There is enough HEALTH for everyone, if we can educate ourselves about food that will nourish our mind, body, and soul. If we can learn that food is our medicine, and medicine can be our food. There is enough POSITIVE THOUGHTS for everyone in the world to have them, and there is more that can be created.    There is enough LOVE for all of us, both to share with others and with ourselves.  There is enough compassion. There is enough potential. There is not only "enough".....there is an ABUNDANCE!
         I read through a meditation that told you to do something like this- Breathe deeply, relax, close your eyes, and imagine the ocean with the crashing waves and the millions of grains of sand. Here is abundance.  You can take your bucket and go and reach into the ocean and get some water....immediately, more water fills up that space. There could be a never ending PILE of people, our brothers and sisters on this world, going and reaching their pails into the water, and it wouldn't diminish......there is enough for everyone. There is so much.  So, so much for all of us!

         I am grateful for my customers that teach me about abundance. They tell their friends about our products and our company culture. They tell their family. There are more people that come in and feel the love that I want to share with my corsets.  All of these people feel more love for their bodies when they're wearing a beautiful, handmade garment, and then they spread that love and generosity onto more people.

         There is an abundance of all the good things you want in your life.

          The A.N.T.s come from a scarcity mindset.  Listen carefully to your negative thoughts......are they telling you that there is enough good and love?  No, they always speak of a lack, no matter what the thought is or where it's coming from.  Scarcity is hideous, and it creates more and more of itself.  I strongly urge you to smash it, along with me, and together, we can live in abundance!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Loving the Body


          I feel like I need to start out with a slight disclaimer on this one before I get right into the nitty-gritty sheety-meaty of this blog. I want all of you to know that I write blogs as a therapy.  I write because there are good messages to be had out there, but everyone responds differently to various words, tones, and energy.  I hope that the people that read this know that I come from a loving, positive place, but also an imperfect one.  When I write things and get all riled up about them, it's usually because I'm still in the growing and processing stages myself. I'm not some amazing pillar of perfection, and the reasons I choose the topics that I do is because I struggle with them on a daily basis.  When you read anything about body image, know that I, too, am on a continual journey. Namaste.

     So, I had a breakthrough. I have been trying to change my thoughts about my body, in hopes that my body would change in accordance with my thoughts. I was feeling fantastic, because I felt like I had made SUCH huge leaps and bounds! Wow, MICHELLE! You aren't finding things wrong with your body!! You are saying grateful words to your body!! You are thanking your body for giving you children and working every day! This body is awesome!!  Your body is easily shedding the weight that it had kept as emotional armor, but you are stronger and ready to let go of that shield against the world!!  oh, YEAH! So great, SOOO GREAT! MAN, it feels so good to feel good! I love feeling good!! IT'S goooooood!!

     However, I have realized a flaw in my system. By saying things, even super positive things to my body about how "excited I was for it to change" and how happy I was that it had served me so well, and NOW I can get down to losing the weight I've been keeping stuck on.....I was ironically admitting that I "didn't" truly love my body because by filling it with love that is expectant of change, I'm saying that there is something wrong with it that NEEDS changed.  Doh!

      I realized I was in a scary loop. Look at body. Be "NICE" and all, but tell it that it needs to change for me to love it.  Make big dietary changes. Make big exercise changes. Still, body doesn't change. Do more diet. Do more exercise. Body stays the same. Get thyroid checked and blood work done. Everything looks fine! No change. Try this for several months. Not so much. This is all a true story.

       I wonder if I've accidentally created an environment where my body is scared to change because it sees that my "love and approval" is conditional upon it being what I consider "perfect".  Think of how things would go if you did this with your spouse or your kids.  Imagine a scary smile plastered to your face, and you saying through Stepford wife gritted teeth, "Gee, I SURE love you and appreciate you. I will love you MORE when you are exactly what I THINK YOU SHOULD BE!"  Then imagine yourself pushing, prodding, overly encouraging, and trying to FORCE the person you love to change. After all,  it's what is best for them!

      I imagined trying to do this with a beautiful flower.  You plant the seed. You water it. You put it in sunshine. However, you expect it to be on YOUR timeline and to act according to the work YOU put into it's nourishment!

       And alas, the cycle continues. So, what I'm trying to work out in my brain is how to absolutely TRULY love and appreciate where I am currently...without any strings attached.  I did remember that a while back, I actually did get to my "goal weight" and I was miserable. I still punished myself and put myself down all the time, and the food I was eating was stagnant and life-sucking. I was hungry and grumpy and so absolutely terrified of my own food cravings that I lived in fear of the kitchen and restaurants.  That is what my previous "healthy" weight got me. I didn't address the underlying emotional issues, and therefore, I did not love and appreciate my body. 
        I'm not saying "Give up and stop taking care of yourself and just LOVE who you are right now!" .  I'm saying "Love WHO YOU ARE RIGHT NOW and the care, the compassion, the forgiveness, and the better habits can start to slowly grow....just like a seed."  You have to give the "no strings attached" love and compassion to yourself  as the foundation of your life.  From there, healthy mental habits and languages can be formed, and then you can blossom into what you were meant to be. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014


*I've learned two important precepts this year that I wanted to share here in hopes that they can help other women and also help  me, myself, and I, as I go into 2015.

First: When someone criticizes another, it says something about THEM, and nothing about the person being criticized.

          I have had to think and re-think this over and over in my brain for the last several months, as I wound my way through life. It really helped me when I would have a negative exchange of words and come away feeling like I absolutely embodied all of the insults or attacks thrown at me.  Here's an example: a few days ago some poor lady posted a really NASTY thing on the Damsel in this Dress facebook page about how...oh, my heck, I can't even stand to repeat it. Let's just say that she took a look at me in a corset and it must have triggered something in her, and she posted....Phew.....here goes (I hate mean words SOOO much) "They should call this facebook page 'Fat girls trying to squeeze their pudge into too tight of things. SO unattractive!'"  (don't worry friends, I deleted the comment and banned her.)

      I'm not going to lie, that SERIOUSLY hurt. My first reaction was to write something super mean or contradictory back, but then I remembered that people that use that kind of language LOVE it when they get strong reactions and attention for their charged word usage. THEN I remembered the whole thingy about how the words people choose say more about THEM than they say about YOU. I thought carefully about the kind of person that would make such a random, un-provoked attack and use such gross words.  In my brain, I saw a woman who was so desperate for attention that she would take any kind. I saw a woman who had been told unkind things, and so she only knew that language.  I imagined someone who felt so absolutely awful about their own body that they would attack anyone just to bring them to a slightly "higher level" than the person that they were putting down. By the end of my interactive brain movie, I felt so horrible for this poor woman that I wanted to hug her and build her up and ask what I could do for her! I wanted to give her a corset, and then maybe that could encourage her to change her perception of corsets.  However, I don't think she's in a place to have her world changed. *sigh*

Not surprisingly, I've certainly encountered goodly numbers of women who were vehemently against "corsets" and what they "thought they were".  What these women say about my corsets has nothing to say about my corsets and  my company. It does, however, speak VOLUMES about them, their lives, their thoughts, their limitations, their relationship, and a whole host of other vastly complicated scenarios.  All I can hope is that I can keep slowly working to change some of the mindsets surrounding such a simple garment, and I can continue to help women love and appreciate their current bodies.   *cough* Remember, the irony here is that what I say about these women says something about me. *cough*

       And just in case any of you are thinking that I'm trying to advocate a "never listen to criticism" type of attitude, that is not the case. I just want to make sure that I, myself, am taking the time and thought to not only try to understand where the anger is coming from, but also to consider the intent with which the words were spoken.

And onto the next life-changing thing that I recently discovered. I couldn't find the exact quote, but it was something to this effect:
"When you criticize another, you take that part of their negative energy and bring it back into your own life."

        This freaked me right the heck out!  But it made TONS  of sense. Whenever I have put down another human being, it always feels akin to eating piles of doughnuts.  Its feels delicious, sinfully good, and indulgent while I'm doing it, but the SECOND the act is over, I feel awful and hollow...yet full of the wrong kind of junk.   This feeling includes strong word exchanges over the internet. The very few times that I've allowed myself to get sucked into "troll" drama, I have felt sick in my spirit for days afterward. I always think it might feel good to "be right" and "show them"  but the only thing I'm "showing" is my weakness and insecurity.

       Here's the deal. I have a different life, a different set of thoughts, experiences, feelings, reactions, stories and insecurities than the person I might be criticizing.  I have heard the whole "Walk a mile in their shoes" bit a ton of times, but then I heard it explained a little bit differently and it really resonated with me. You don't imagine YOU walking a mile in their shoes, because it's still you and your dang brain and your perceptions. You would have to desperately endeavor to imagine that YOU are THEM, in their shoes, with their thoughts and energy and the whole bit.  Would you behave differently? Probably not. You can honor what their have individually gone through, instead of tearing them down through your narrow, misguided and......unhappy lens.

      So, the takeaway? Love yourself. Love others. Please, oh, please. Just love. It FEELS good. It brings YOU more of what YOU want. It's peaceful. It's empowering. It allows you to breathe and focus. Love heals. Love changes. Love ignites.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Bearded Lady, Fudge, and "Putting Yourself Out There"

Making and selling my own things. How did I get here? Answers and insights below. 
       Recently, I was reading through a GORGEOUS magazine called "Where Women Create" and not only was every page inspiring and made me want to paint my life teal, but it also validated all of these successful women for the hard work that they had put into creating their ideal occupations. I read entirely through every article, and there was a common theme throughout every single story of how the women built their success: they had ALL been working at it for at least 10 years, and they all took action EVERY DAY to reach their goals.
       Not all of these women started out successful right out of the gate. In fact, most of them, it seemed, had to suffer rejection after rejection, self-doubts, obstacles that seemed insurmountable, and outright failures.   The other thing that I loved about all of them is that they were all humble and grateful for their success.   It makes me wonder..is there a mathematical formula for success?? So, beingkickedintheshins+fear+10Years+somesmartsoundingvariable=SUCCESS!

        I can tell you, the "taking 10 years or longer" thing feels pretty real to me. I have been starting businesses since I could draw signs on cardboard, and even tried to run a little "drive-through" convenience/snack store called "Smileys" out of a burned out Catalpa tree stump in my parent's front yard. (Never mind that my parents lived on a 63 acre farm on a dead-end dirt road out in the peaceful country where no traffic came......come, on, I had 8 kids in my family! Surely that should have equaled some profits!!)  I just wanted to CREATE things and SELL  them so badly, I could feel it vibrating out of my whole being every day of my life. I was ridiculously bored at school, because no one was telling me how to monetize the things I was learning. If my teachers could have just helped me to see that there was $$$ in what I was doing, I'm sure I would have been a more attentive student! (As it were, I mostly did the absolute minimum amount of work to get my assignments done and then me and Laura Ingalls Wilder sat back together and learned about how she created her own dreams.)
         Luckily, an opportunity DID present itself to me when I was about 11 years old. There is a miniscule little Fall festival in Newtonia, Missouri where they have a paltry sampling of craft vendors, lots of homemade ice cream, and a straggly little group of hardcore Civil War re-enactors that put on a dandy little show. (There was actually a substantial battle fought in Newtonia, and there is a large old mansion that was used as a Civil War Hospital that is still there, with a graveyard right next to it. I was madly in  love with a boy that lived in that mansion, and he would tell stories about the ghosts of the war that still haunted it. Delicious!) 
        To get a booth space was like $20, and my mom was willing to front the money if I would be willing to find and make things to sell. I thought it would be brilliant to make an enormous pile of fudge, and to sell the whole entire table! I was salivating with the thought of not only getting to lick the pans clean, but also to lick the beautiful dollar bills as they came into my life! (Okay, I'm not that creepy....I only snuggle with money and massage it. Licking is a little too far.)
          In case you've never made fudge, or any homemade candy, for that matter, it is..uh....a chemical process. You don't just get to mix some junk together and shove  it in the oven. It takes measuring carefully, taking temperatures, singing lullabies, unicorn hairs, enchantments, and a shrubbery. My first batch was more like a pile of brown oatmeal. My second batch was better, and vaguely lumped into bars that could be sold. My third batch..uh....not much better.  
          In the proud tradition of my fathers and forebears, I had also procrastinated until the night before the event to make the fudge. It was crunch time, and I was being crunched. What was done was done, and it would have to do. I pitifully wrapped the glooey fudge into seran wrap and made a sign out of cardboard. 

        I know what the end of this story should have been. I should have learned  my lesson about the perils procrastination and the woes of shoddy workmanship. However, in an ironic twist of fate, I was handsomely rewarded for my misdeeds. After only about 10 minutes of sitting at my little folding card-table and pile of fudge, a truly terrifying looking woman came up and stood in front of my table. I don't mean to be unkind when such kindess was offered me, but she did, in fact, have a full circus freak-show beard and the craziest flowery dress I've ever seen. She grumbled, "How much is your fudge?"  As a terrified kid, I sat agape for a few moments before I said, "Um...uh...like 4 dollars per piece, I guess?"  She grunted, pulled out a pile of money, and said, "I'll take it all" in a meloncholy voice. I could hardly understand what had just happened. I handed it all to her in a bag, and then I took the money. What....the....what?
        Looking back, I wonder if the lesson is simply this. I wanted something badly. Really, REALLY badly. It wasn't about the fudge. It was about me putting out this "I am selling things and that is how I make money" energy!!!!  I've known that I was meant to run booths and sell things at shows for a very long time, and that is why I do it today. However, I have been working every day at this task for an equally long time. While other kids in junior high and high school were watching Dawson's Creek and talking on MSN messenger, I was sewing, cooking, and creating. While other girls went out on dates, I was making renaissance costumes to sell on ebay.  I can't quit. I won't quit. I am compelled.  I also happen to love every second of it, and I'm so excited to wake up and sew that I have a hard time sleeping. REALLY. ;)
        As always, I am grateful for the support I get from all of you. I love the customers and women that I've attracted into my life, and I'm always excited to make new things for you to see. I also want to stand as an example to the notion that you CAN do what you want, go where you want, and accomplish what you desire. It takes work. Sometimes 10 years. It takes sacrifice...sometimes all you have in your heart. However, it is worth it to be able to live this life.

Monday, December 15, 2014


       I need to connect more with nature.  I have been looking at the changing world around me, and it's been making me a little bit panicky, because I've not been making peace in my heart with the change, I have been making snarkiness and annoyance instead.  When  it snows, I get grumpy at how horrible people in Utah are at driving in the winter. It's cold. It's dark. I have to do all this Christmas stuff and I don't want to do anything.  What the heck, Michelle? 
       So, I did a meditation about trees in the winter. (I still can't figure out if I'm "doing" meditation right, and I spend most of my time worrying about whether or not I'm meditating, which should tell you a lot about me.)  The trees take on a huge physical change.  In fact, they appear..um.....DEAD. Their color is gone, their leafy texture has fallen, and they look like dark skeleton limbs reaching up into the winter dusk.   To the outside observer, there is a stillness.....a lack of action and forward movement.  On the inside, complicated, life changing things are happening, and absolute miracles are occurring.  
       Have you ever heard a tree "apologize" for what it's going through in the winter?  Does it get all pissed off at itself because it doesn't look like it used to, and does it get nervous about what others will think about its physical change? Um. No. 

       The trees take this season and they understand it on a deep level. They know that it is time for quiet renewal, and careful building up of their energy to take on the coming year.  The tree knows that it will be different next year, and it's peaceful with the "death" of this year's tree.
       I would like to be at peace with the "death" of this 2014 version of me.   This is the Michelle that I've been this year, and all of the things that I though, did, and that happened to me were for my ultimate benefit. I don't need to beat myself up over anything. I don't need to go and dig up the corpses that should remain buried.  I am at peace with this "me", and eagerly look forward to the rebirth of another year!    I LOVE the song  "Ring Out, Wild Bells!"  It's this old song, in a very minor chord, and it just has this delicious dark essence to it! I'm always excited when we sing it in church. Yippee! The emo-song! 
Here are a few of my favorite verses (from the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, on which it is based)

Ring out the old, ring in the new--,
Ring happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Oh my goodness! If you have never heard this song, you MUST go listen to it! It is stunning.  The tune and the feeling of the song absolutely encapsulate what I'm talking about here!  

         So, bears the question. Are you okay with who you have become and what you have learned this year? Are you ready to let things stay in the past, and live in this precious present which you have been given?  Are you okay with the things that are going on INSIDE of you, even though people might not YET be able to see it on the OUTSIDE?