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Dance on!!

Flourish serves up inspiration in many forms but this UTube video is the ultimate.  If this amazing woman doesn’t get you up

salsa grandma

salsa grandma

and moving…well maybe your butt has been secretly glued to the couch.  It is never too late…you are not too old.  Most of us may not be able to dance as elegantly and beautifully as this amazing woman, but I believe that we all have a little music within us.  So, give it a try when no one else is looking.  Turn up the music and shake it – just a little.   How good does that feel?   Our bodies were meant to move.

Put your dancing shoes on and get going!  It’s Salsa time.

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Girls can do anything!Author John Maxwell may be best known for his books on leadership, but he has studied success for over 30 years – This man knows what makes people successful and even more important,  understands that there are many different definitions of success.

In his fascinating article in Success Magazine, John explains that successful people understand their true purpose.  He believes there are two major keys to success and it comes from knowing your purpose.  First is passion ~ what are you passionate about?  What makes your heart sing?  Second is knowing your strengths ~ what are you good at?   Purpose + Passion + Strength = Success… pretty much every time.
Right on John!  We agree wholeheartedly that finding your purpose will not only allow you to reach your full potential, but also find joy on the journey.  Don’t miss this enlightening and inspiring article.  Then get energized and get going.  Your success is waiting.

Nothing is more inspiring that when you hear a story about a woman with a brilliant idea and the vision and courage to bring it into the world.
circus

Jenn Cohen is one of those women.  She discovered the healing power of circus when she was just 13, while on a family vacation at Club Med and she’ll tell you that it changed her life.  Jenn has been involved in circus performing in one way or another for 20 years and it’s taken her all over the world.  She also just completed a Master degree in process oriented psychology.  And, she’s only 33 years old!  By combining her passion, a unique set of skills and a deep desire to make a difference, Jenn created The Circus Project initially as part of her Master’s thesis, but she says she has found her true calling.

Jen knew that the skills and self discovery gained through circus performance, could enable homeless and at-risk your to develop stronger physical and emotional integrity.  The Circus Project was born from Jenn’s inspiration, vision and much hard work and it is making a difference in the lives of many young people in Portland.

Last weekend, we had the honor to attend “Animare”, a Circus Project production and an outstanding display of talent, hard work and breathtaking aerial artistry performed by Jenn’s graduating students.  What a brilliant reminder that one person truly can make a difference in the lives of many.

If you’re ever secretly dreamed about running away to join the circus, here’s your chance…The Circus Project offers a variety of classes for “the rest of us” – that’s everyone from 1 – 99!   It brings new meaning to the term flying high.

Learn all about Jenn Cohen and The Circus Project.





Tickled Pink

Don’t you just love those two words!  Makes you giggle just to say them.  Our upcoming Flourish event is all about being “tickled pink”, “in the pink” and all things pink & girlie – pampering, playing, indulging, shopping, eating, drinking, girlfriends, chatting, and laughing.  We’ve got it all put together into one fabulously fun afternoon in Portland’s South Waterfront at the beautiful Rilassi Coffee House.    Tickled Pink is for women of all ages who are ready to carve out a little bit of me time and get their PINK on.   Hope you can join us!

Here’s an invitation with more details or go to the Flourish website and sign up.

tickled pink flyer cc

deandra-retouched-whimsyDeandra is a role model for flourishing women!   She’s an amazing creative spirit with a courageous heart and a wicked sense of humor who celebrates life and lives it fully each and every day.  We asked her to share just a few of the more interesting moments of her life so far and here’s what she told us…

I’ve sold lingerie, worked a suicide hotline, was a barmaid at a Renaissance festival, read tarot cards and performed as a belly dancer. I have also been a wife, mother, feminist, artist, minister, writer, ritualist, teacher—the list just keeps growing! I follow my passions and have become a collector of experiences. I’ve never been content to let life come to me…maybe because I’m impatient, or maybe because I’m a bit of a control freak.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer helped bring this pattern into sharp relief. Prior to the diagnosis I thought I was searching for something in particular…and after the diagnosis, I realized that I was just searching. I like the act of exploring…I like my passions and they don’t have to “be productive” or have a point. I can just enjoy them.

Giving myself the freedom to play and to follow my interests has led me to reimagine both my life and my work. My current list of things that tickle my fancy include being a part of Pink Phoenix dragon boat team, organizing the super cool annual Clan Mothers Retreat on Halloween weekend, becoming a filmmaker, anything to do with PhotoShop, and the color pink. You might think I would be tired of pink considering it’s association with breast cancer, but in fact, I actually like pink more since my diagnosis. I’m working on a photography project about the color pink…can’t wait to see what I come up with! Check out my blog to see some of the projects I’ve been working on…http://dillydally.demicaro.com.

My new business, Butterfly Underground, is still underground so to speak. In a few months you will be able to see it take flight. Stay tuned!

Who is my hero? I have to admit that I adore Nancy Drew and Wonder Woman! If I could be an Amazon Princess (with cool go-go boots) and a popular detective, I would be ecstatic!

What is my favorite quote? I love quotes and picking just one is practically impossible. The one that makes me laugh is “The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was ‘involved’ but the pig was ‘committed’.”

What keeps you flourishing? Taking time in between projects to rest and renew. I tend to keep busy, so I greatly enjoy curling up with a book and a cup of tea and just relaxing.

If I were a pair of shoes… I would be a pair of Candies (fabulous heels that I wore in high school). They were made of wood candies-shoes and leather, substantial and yet sexy. And they made the greatest tapping noise when walking!

I can’t wait to… I can’t wait to launch the Betty Society, a not-so secret, secret society that I created 6 years ago and now want to take public (sort of!) It makes me giggle, and that’s enough for me.

glamping2To be perfectly honest, although I love the outdoors and the peace and beauty of being in nature, it’s been a very long time since I actually felt like pitching a tent and rolling out the sleeping bag so I could sleep there.   For quite a while now,  my idea of roughing it has been “no room service”.   So imagine my delight when I recently discovered the latest thing in camping.   It’s called Glamping, as in Glamor + Camping.   Glamping is upscale camping in which a tent large enough to walk through replaces the pup tent, bedding takes the place of the sleeping bag, a nice rug or wood covers the  floor, and campers use real barware instead of plastic cups. In short, it’s more comfortable, civilized camping.   I don’t know about you, but as I’ve gotten older, my  tolerance for the dirt and bugs and lack of comfy slippers, a shower and a real toilet has definitely dwindled!

Glamping Tent at MaryJane's Farm

Glamping Tent at MaryJane's Farm

I’m telling you, this could be one of those life-changing discoveries.  I am so smitten with this concept, that I’m going to try to sneak in a visit to MaryJanes’s Farm B&B just outside of Moscow, ID for a fabulous, relaxing and much needed long weekend of outdoor camping bliss.   I’m really lovin’ this idea!

There are glamping locations all over the world (who knew?) some are just a step above rustic but others rival a 4- star hotel.   Check out Clayoquot Sound Wilderness in British Columbia, or the Resort at Paws Up (www.pawsup.com) in Montana.  The photo below is from Clayoquot.  Now that’s glamping!

accom_07

A dear friend sent me this article the other day and even though I’m sure I read it several years ago when it was first published in O Magazine, this beautiful piece written by the wonderful author Anne Lamott, came to me just when I needed to read it again. (In the month of yet another birthday).   For all of us who have seen the back side of 40 or even 50 or 60, it is a well worth another read.   Enjoy and take heart!

true bathing beauties

true bathing beauties

An Homage to Age and Femininity by Anne Lamott (from O Magazine)

I was at a wedding Saturday with a lot of women in their 20s and 30s in sexy dresses, their youthful skin aglow.  And even though I was 30 or 40 years older, a little worse for wear, a little tired and overwhelmed by the loud music, I was smiling.  I smiled with a secret Cheshire-cat
smile of pleasure and relief in being older.  I would not give you back a year of life lived.  Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it gave me me.  It provided the time and experience and failures and triumphs and friends who helped me step into the shape that had been waiting for me all my life.

I fit into me now – mostly.  I have an organic life finally, not the one people imagined for me or tried to get me to have or the life someone else might celebrate as a successful one – I have the life I dreamed of.  I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I could be.

There are parts I don’t love – until a few years ago, I had no idea that you could get cellulite on your stomach – but I not only get along with me most of the time now, I am militantly and maternally on my own side.

Left to my own devices, would I trade this for firm thighs, fewer wrinkles, a better memory?  On some days.  That’s why it’s such a blessing I’m not left to my own devices. Because the truth is I have amazing friends to whom  I can turn.  I have a cool kid, a sweet boyfriend, darling pets.  I’ve learned to pay attention to life, and to listen.  I’d give up all this for a flatter belly?  Are you crazy?

I still have terrible moments when I despair about my body.  But they are just moments – I used to have years when I believed I would be more beautiful if I jiggled less; if all parts of my body stopped moving when I did.  But I believe two things now that I didn’t at 30. When we get to heaven, we will discover that the appearance of our butts and skin was 127th on the list of what mattered on this earth.

And I know the truth that l am not going to live forever, and this has set me free.  Eleven years ago, when my friend Pammy was dying at the age of 37 we went shopping at Macy’s.  She was in a wheelchair, with a wig and three weeks to live. I tried on a short dress and came out to model it for Pammy.

I asked if she thought it made me look big in the thighs, and she said, so kindly, “Annie, You just don’t have that kind of time.”  I live by this story.

I am thrilled-ish for every gray hair and achy muscle, because of all the friends who didn’t make it, who died too young of AIDS and breast cancer. And -what other people think of me and how l am living my life. I give these things the big shrug.  Mostly. Or at least eventually. It’s a huge relief.

I became more successful in my mid-40s, but this pales compared to the other gifts of this decade – how kind to myself I have become, what a wonderful, tender wife I am to myself, what a loving companion.  I get myself tubs of hot salty water at the end of the day in which to soak my tired feet.

I run interference for myself when I am working, like the wife of a great artist would: “No, I’m sorry, she can’t come. She’s working hard these days and needs a lot of downtime.” I live by the truth that “No” is a complete sentence.  I rest as a spiritual act.

I have grown up enough to develop radical acceptance.  I insist on the right to swim in warm water at every opportunity, no matter how cold, no matter how young and gorgeous the other people on the beach are.  I don’t think that if I live to be 80 I’ll wish I’d spent more hours in the gym or kept my house a lot cleaner.  I think I’m going to wish I had swum more unashamedly, made more mistakes, spaced out more, rested.

On the day I die, I want to have had dessert.  So this informs how l live now.

I have survived so much loss, as all of us have by now – my parents, dear
friends, my pets.  Rubble is the ground on which our deepest friendships are built.  If you haven’t already, you will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken; and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of a beloved person.

But this is also the good news.  They live forever, in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather is cold – but you learn to dance with the limp. You dance to the absurdities of life; you dance to the minuet of old friendships. I danced alone for a couple of years, and came to believe I might not ever have a passionate romantic relationship – might end up alone!  I’d been so terrified of this my whole life.

But I’d rather never be in a couple or never get laid again than to be in a toxic relationship.  I spent a few years celibate. It was lovely, and it was sometimes lonely.  I had surrendered; I’d run out of bullets. But I learned to be the person I wished I’d meet – at which point I found a kind, artistic, handsome man. We have been together 20 months now.  When we get out of bed, we hold our lower backs, like Walter Brennan, and we smile.

Younger women worry that their memories will begin to go.  And you know what? They will. Menopause has not increased my focus and retention as much I as I’d been hoping. But a lot is better off missed. A lot is better not gotten around to.  I know many of the women at the wedding fear getting older, and I wish I could gather them together again and give them my word of honor that every one of my friends loves being older, loves being in her 50s, 60s, 70s.  My Aunt Gertrude is 85 and leaves us behind in the dust when we hike.

Look, my feet hurt some mornings, and my body is less forgiving when I exercise more than I’m used to.  But I love my life more, and me more.  I’m so much juicier.  And, like that old saying goes, it’s not that I think less of myself, but that I think of myself less often. And that feels like heaven to me.