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Today’s Fabulous Friday Fellow is Gerald Rogers

Fabulous Friday Fellow Gerald RogersAs this is only the third time I’ve featured a Fabulous Friday Fellow on the site, you know that the men I select are incredibly special…and they are chosen because I believe they have something to share that will truly change others.

Today’s choice is no exception.

Gerald Rogers is a transformational leader, speaker and entrepreneur…and these have nothing whatsoever to do with the reason I’ve chosen him for our third Fabulous Friday Fellow.

No, Gerald has been chosen for his courage, vulnerability and insight.  For his decision to take a painful personal experience, and to share from the heart advice to others that he wished he had been given himself.

Advice that could transform relationships if read, understood and taken to heart.

So rather than paraphrase his words…I’m just going to share them here, exactly as he has and allow you to take from them what you will.

MARRIAGE ADVICE I WISH I WOULD HAVE HAD:

Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about going through divorce that gives you perspective of things you wish you would have done different… After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had…

1) Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.

2) PROTECT YOUR OWN HEART. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.

3) FALL IN LOVE OVER and OVER and OVER again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.

4) ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love.

5) IT’S NOT YOUR JOB TO CHANGE OR FIX HER… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.

6) TAKE FULL ACCOUNTABILITY for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.

7) NEVER BLAME your wife If you get frustrated or angry, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.

8) Allow your woman to JUST BE. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.

9) BE SILLY… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.

10) FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel loved.

11) BE PRESENT. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.

12) BE WILLING TO TAKE HER SEXUALLY, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.

13) DON’T BE AN IDIOT…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.

14) GIVE HER SPACE… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered.)

15) BE VULNERABLE… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fear and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.

16) BE FULLY TRANSPARENT. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, and part of that courage is allowing her to love your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.

17) NEVER STOP GROWING TOGETHER… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is for a relationship that isn’t focused on growing. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.

18) DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.

19) FORGIVE IMMEDIATELY and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. Forgiveness is freedom. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.

20) ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.

In the end MARRIAGE isn’t about Happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come.

These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late.

But these are lessons I am learning and committed in carrying forward. Truth is, I LOVED being married, and in time, I will get married again, and when I do, I will build it with a foundation that will endure any storm and any amount of time.

MEN- THIS IS YOUR CHARGE : Commit to being an EPIC LOVER. There is no greater challenge, and no greater prize. Your woman deserves that from you.

Be the type of husband your wife can’t help but brag about.

So today I would like you to join me in honouring and celebrating Gerald and his words to men everywhere which could change the lives of men AND women…if they choose to let them.

I hope that you allow the message he is sharing to resonate through every cell in your body, allow it to open your heart, and allow it to feed your desire to choose to be the best you can be for your partner every single day, whether you are a man or a woman, of any age.

…and a note for any women reading this.  If you want a man who will show up for you in this way, be the woman who allows him to be this kind of man for you, supports him in stepping into everything he can be and encourages him with words of appreciation along the way.

He will make mistakes.  So will you.

If you want a man like this, think about the kind of woman who a man like this would desire. Would he want constant criticism, jokes at his expense, to be second-guessed or unappreciated?

Remember, what shows up for you is a reflection of how you show up in the world…if you want a man who will show up for you in the way you want and need, you also need to show up for him in the way that he wants and needs too.

Not in order to ‘get what you want’…but because the kind of woman who deserves a man of this nature wouldn’t want to do anything less.

Thanks also to James Russell Lingerfelt for sharing the above originally.

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU. …and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Today’s Fabulous Friday Female is Umamah Tarvala

FFF Umamah TarvalaI remember how challenging A-levels were…it seemed like there was always more to do, more coursework, more studying, more exams.

I only did 3 A-levels, so when I hear of other people who have done more, I’m always a little in-awe of them.  I don’t know how I’d have done another one on top of the work I already had.

So when I saw a story last week about a teenager who not only took 4 A-level exams…but did so whilst helping her mother to care for her sick father and volunteering in a local care home I knew she was going to be this week’s Fabulous Friday Female.

What’s even more wonderful about this story is that years of helping her mother care for her father who suffers from epileptic seizures inspired her to want to study medicine to “understand the complexity of the human body and the difference doctors make to human life.  I want to care for the residents of our society”.

Her predicted grades had earned her a place studying biomechanics at UCL, but her results, an incredible 2 A* grades an A and a B mean that she can fulfil her dream of studying medicine.

“I come from a poor family where my mother and father can’t work.  My father’s condition inspired me,” Umamah shared, “to give something back to society”.

In my world, studying 4 A-levels is impressive, achieving the grades that Umamah did is fantastic, and doing all of that while volunteering and helping care for a sick parent is inspirational.

So today I would like you to join me in acknowledging and celebrating Umamah and wishing her every success in her dream to give something back to society and care for the residents of our society. 

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU.

…and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Today’s Fabulous Friday Females are Samantha Manns and Virginia Booth

FFF Samantha Manns and Virginia BoothTeenagers often get a bad rap these days, so when I see one who is doing amazing inspiring things it warms my heart…and it makes me want to shout it from the rooftops!

So when I heard about the wonderful Facebook page that Samantha Manns set up in memory of her beloved “Jinjey’s life” I just had to share it with you.

Virginia Booth must have been an inspiring woman, because when she died at the age of 89 earlier this year her teenage grandaughter decided she wanted to do something special to honour her memory.

Being a huge fan of random acts of kindness and paying it forward myself I was deeply touched when I saw that Samantha has committed to doing 89 kind acts in honour of Jinjey’s memory and the 89 years she spent sharing kindness with others…and wants to inspire others to do the same.

You can follow Samantha’s journey here through her website, or on the Facebook page here.

A few of highlights from the acts performed so far:

Act 23; Wednesday, June 26, 2013: (It’s a LONG one, but I hope you’ll read it!) What do a sketchpad; pastel chalks; hand sanitizer; a washcloth shaped like a soccer ball; some grow-in-water miniatures of a castle, crown, and wand; a card with a United States Dollar; a wall cling that says, “Once upon a time, there was a princess…”; a necklace; and a bike helmet all have in common? They’re all on their way to Europe! I have been talking back and forth with a young lady from England who has just entered inpatient treatment for Anorexia Nervosa. For anyone who is not familiar with the disorder, those who suffer from Anorexia will characteristically starve themselves to a dangerously low weight. Anorexia effects both men and woman, young and old, rich and poor, traumatized and privileged, across all nations and countries. Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness; one in five people who suffer the disorder will die, either due to complications from malnutrition or suicide. As we were talking, it came about that she was feeling very lonely and wished someone would send her a card or a letter, so I asked for the address to mail her something. She said, “I’ve never gotten anything from America before,” and gave me the address of the clinic, along with her information on how to get it to her. Attached to each gift is a note, along with huge numbers saying, “OPEN ME FIRST”, “I COME SECOND,” and so one and so forth. The helmet is first. The note on it reads: “Brace yourself! The road to recovery isn’t always smooth sailing! But I know you can do it!” Next, the growing toys: “Sometimes in life, it is perfectly acceptable to imagine your own safe place or fairy tale land. Here are some tools to get you started!” After that is the soccer ball: “Remember, life is all about having a BALL!” Then comes the hand sanitizer: “Being clean on the outside can make you feel better on the inside. That, and it’s good to smell nice!” Fifth is the wall cling: “Because one day, Anorexia will be just once upon a time.” Next is the card with the dollar bill. The dollar is just a momento from America  But in the card, it says that the pastel chalks and the paper pad (specifically for pastel chalks) are to help her express herself. I talked about how art has really helped me in my recovery process, and how it’s important to find beauty in everything we see. I also included instructions for the necklace. The necklace was a gift to me from a lady when I first started 89 Acts of Kindness. It says on it, “I can inspire.” It has a heart pendant on it, too. Her instructions are to wear it as long as she needs it, but I would like for her to one day pass it on to someone who inspires her, and give them the same instructions. She has inspired me with her courage and her strength, and I feel the need to give this to her above all of the silly other things I put in there. It’s good to laugh! But I really hope that this can give her another push in the right direction. I will post a follow up when she receives the package!

 

Act One; Tuesday, February 19, 2012: I went through the McDonald’s drive-through and placed my order, then continued to the first window like normal. I paid for the woman behind me, too  When I watched her reaction upon receiving her paper instead of a receipt with a cost on it; she started to cry and smiled huge! It made me very happy to see her reaction

 

Act 19; Sunday, May 12, 2013: Wow! What a day! I can honestly say that today has been one of the best days of my life!!! Delivering 89 roses to the staff, patients, and visitors at both the OSU Medical Center and the Adena Medical Center was such an uplifting experience! It took nearly three hours (plus one hour of driving), but the time really seemed to fly. One of my favorite patients looked, sounded, and acted exactly like Jinjey. I asked her if she wanted a rose and she said, “Oh, honey, I’d love one, but I don’t have anything to put it in.” I then told her, “I’ll be right back,” and snuck off to the nurses’ station where a nurse gave me a large plastic container to put the rose in with some water in it. The patient was so thrilled! Another woman looked at me and said, “This is the first Mother’s Day rose I’ve gotten in years,” smiling at me, alone in her room. She’d not had any visitors for her stay, either, and said that this act of kindness certainly brightened her day! On another floor, some little children came up to me and wanted to know if they could have a rose for their mom, who was having surgery. Of course I said yes! I didn’t get to see her reaction, but I’m sure she loved it! One nurse asked if she could have four roses: one for her, one for her mom, and two for the Jesus statuette she had in her home to honor her grandmothers. A few people asked me, “Who are you with?” I just responded, “… Myself,” chuckled, and told them about the 89 Acts of Kindness. The reaction was the same all across the board: “Wow! That’s so nice of you to think of other people as a way to remember your great-grandma!” But if there’s one thing the acts thus far have taught me, it’s that I’m really no different than anyone else. I’m a little under 1/4 of the way through the acts, and I’ve got to say that I have already learned so much about myself, humanity, and what it means to be a truly caring person. It’s not about how much money you can give, nor is it about how much time or sympathy you offer. True kindness is recognizing the human in everyone, and offering your humanity, your heart, and your most caring self to them. Whether you are holding the door open for someone or paying for their dinner; helping an old lady cross the street or paying for her groceries; playing with puppies at the local shelter or giving 89 roses away to people stuck in hospitals on Mother’s Day; no matter what you are doing, if you are operating from a position of pure, true kindness, you’ll find that the happiness you provide for them WILL rub off on you, and you will learn more and more about yourself with every act you do 

So today I would like you to join me in acknowledging and celebrating Samantha for her beautiful tribute to Jinjey, and also to acknowledge the incredible example that Virginia Booth lived which inspired Samanthat to honour her in this way.  I hope their example inspires many others….

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU.

…and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Today’s Fabulous Friday Females are Hannah and Haylee Smith

fff Hannah and Haylee SmithIt’s normally the job of parents to look after their children…but there comes a time in every parent-child relationship when the tide shifts in the other direction.

Sometimes this happens sooner than expected and that was definitely the case for the Smith family from Oregon.

I’ve always been a big advocate of the power of the feminine traits, especially that of nurturing others.  I often share the experience that Angela Cavallo had when her son was pinned under a Chevy Impala car (which you can read here) and the extraordinary feats that women can undertake when someone who they care about is in danger.

Well it turns out that this can be true for younger women as well as Jeff Smith discovered earlier this year.

He was using his tractor to remove a tree stump from his yard when the mud on his boots caused his foot to slip off of the clutch. The 3,000-pound tractor then flipped over, crushing the father of two underneath.

Hannah Smith, 16, and Haylee Smith, 14, were just getting home from school when they heard their father’s frantic pleas for help.

“We heard, ‘Save me. Help me, God,'” Haylee told the Democrat-Herald. The sisters ran toward the voice and found their father trapped under the tractor.

Every time he screamed he lost more and more breath as the tractor crushed his chest.

Hannah and Haylee dialed 911 but knowing that where they live it could take 20 minutes for help to arrive they decided there was only one option…to try and get him free themselves.

They first tried to dig him out but when that didn’t work the only option was to try and lift the tractor off him.

With nothing more than determination that they had to help their father, miraculously the girls managed to lift the tractor enough for him to free himself.

Incredibly he suffered only a broken wrist and a few other minor injuries.

“If these two hadn’t been here to hear me…” Jeff Smith told the Democrat-Herald, his voice trailing off. “They saved my life.”

The Smiths are keeping the tractor that nearly crushed the family patriarch, but they’ve given it an appropriate nickname: Satan.

The girls were so intent on helping their father, who they clearly love deeply, they didn’t have time to think about how impossible it was to save him.

Watch the video to hear the girls’ account of the traumatic experience:

So today I would like you to join me in acknowledging and celebrating Hannah and Haylee, their incredible courage and amazing feat that they accomplished to save their Dad’s life.

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU. …and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Bathroom cleaning

Today’s Fabulous Friday Female is the Mum with a sense of humour

Interesting approach to bathroom cleaningParenting teens can sometimes be a bit of a challenge…especially when you’re trying to get them to do chores.

So one Mum across the pond in America decided to use a bit of humour to try and inspire some action in her children.

When she went out for the evening she left a note taped to the bathroom door with a simple, but slightly tongue-in-cheek request on it:

“Please clean this bathroom tonight.  Clean it like the Queen of England is Visiting.  Backboards / Mop / Tub…Please Please.”

…when she returned, she was shocked and amused by what she found.

Not only was the bathroom clean, but it was set up to be perfect for her Majesty’s arrival.

By the sink was a selection of teas along with a Union Jack flag and a friendly sign reading “Welcome to America! Enjoy your stay!”

…and wanting to make sure that Ma’am had everything a royal could wish for during her stay, on the back of the toilet was a copy of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, so she could enjoy a bit of British literature while undergoing her daily ablutions!

Dealing with these kinds of situations can sometimes provoke an air of confrontation and hostility, but I love that the approach of this woman inspired an equally amusing response, as well as the co-operation of her teens.

So today I would like you to join me in celebrating this woman’s style and I hope she inspires other parents to think outside the box when confronted with a challenging situation with their children, and to see if they can inspire their fun side too!

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU. …and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Today’s Fabulous Friday Female is Alanna Wall

fff-Alanna-Wall Most young girls enjoy pampering themselves, and enjoy a little bit of glitter.

But today’s Fabulous Friday Female took her own love of everything sparkly and decided she wanted to share it with others.

At the age of 10 Alanna Wall decided that she wanted to use her love of art and nail polish to help others, so she started PolishedGirlz.org, a non-profit organisation that invites young girls to volunteer to polish the nails of girls with special needs or that are hospitalised.PolishedLogo

Three years later and there are over 125 volunteers offering nail polish services to cheer up girls in hospital or with special needs in a number of states.

Check out Alanna’s appearance on the Ellen show, which resulted in an amazing surprise for her…

Alanna is definitely a girl after my own heart, wanting to bring a bit of sparkle into other people’s lives and sharing her gifts to help others in her community.

So today I would like you to join me in celebrating Alanna and the work she is doing to both bring some sparkle to others and inspire other young women to do something to help others who could use a little glitter in their lives.

To find out more, to learn how to volunteer or to donate visit http://polishedgirlz.org/

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU. …and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Today’s Fabulous Friday Female is Jade Beall

Fabulous Friday Female Jade BeallMany women are left with scars, stretch marks, and loose skin after giving birth. It’s a reality that women themselves often try to hide and the media never wants to show. But one photographer is on a mission to redefine the idea of the beautiful woman’s body.

One day early last year, Jade Beall – a new mother based in Tucson, Arizona – went into her studio with her five-week-old baby, stripped off, and took a series of photos.

It was a body she wasn’t really familiar with. There were bumps and lumps that she had never had before her pregnancy. And she didn’t much like what she saw.

But she decided to post the pictures on her photography blog – keen to share with others a side of motherhood that tends to be kept out of view.

The media is full of images of women’s bodies. But not these kinds of bodies.

“So many people tell me, ‘Oh, I’ve never seen a body like that,'” says Beall.

“I want people not to have to react as ‘You’re gross,’ but instead ‘Oh, that’s a woman who is incredibly human, or that’s a woman who has scars and lines with stories to tell.’

“My goal is to help these mothers feel worthy of being called beautiful.”

Soon after, Beall posted a photo on Facebook of the softly dimpled stomach of a friend of hers, with her two young children nestling up to her lovingly.

It went viral. Emails started flooding in, and hundreds of women wrote in to say they too wanted pictures taken of their post-pregnancy bodies.

Beall has now photographed more than 70 mothers who will appear in an forthcoming book, A Beautiful Body, due out in January. She uses no make-up artists, and there’s no touching up or airbrushing.

“When she sent me the first pictures via email after the shoot, I remember getting this cold, sweaty feeling,” says Nicole Meade, one of the women who volunteered to be photographed.

Most women who have taken part are deeply self-conscious about their bodies, and Nicole is no exception.

Ever since having her first child, she has tried to hide her stomach. A bikini on the beach would be out of the question.

Terrified, but determined to take up the challenge, Meade took her three sons to the photo shoot, and wanted them to be part of it too.

“I asked the boys, and they were like, ‘Um, well what’s the point of it?’ And I told them you would be doing this for all your female cousins, and the girls you might one day date or marry, and your own daughters – because there is nothing like this out there for us,” she says.

“I like the idea that my children will have a real sense of what their wives might look like when they are done having children.

“There should be nothing shocking or disturbing about a picture like that,” she says.

Jade says many of her clients don’t like the images at first, and focus on what they see as blemishes or problem areas – a roll of fat, a wrinkle, a stretch mark.

But she says the more they look, the more they start to see the beauty in the images.

Christina Berry, who took part in the book, says she has always struggled to embrace her body, but the shoot left her filled with a new confidence.

“It’s still a work in progress. I’m not going to say that every day I 100% feel the sexiest and the most confident,” she says.

“But I remember what I did and I go and look at my pictures and I say ‘Wow, I am beautiful!'”

Her husband Chris says men tend to have only the most superficial conversations among themselves about the way their partners’ bodies have, or might, change after pregnancy – and are largely unprepared for the reality.

“Seeing the pictures and then also seeing other women’s pictures, it led me to think, ‘Man, I’m kind of an ass for not recognising what the real, important things are when it comes to her physical appearance.’

“It’s what she’s done, and why she has those scars. I don’t have to bear any of that – and she does.

“I think these women are powerful. I think my wife is incredible, and I think that was something that I needed to see and needed to understand. And I hope the pictures continue to do that for other men.”

Jade was delighted when she googled “beautiful body” the other day and she saw what popped up.

“My black and white images are sprawled through all these airbrushed photographs.

“And I took such delight. It was like, ‘Oh gosh, it’s happening!'”

Check out A Beautiful Body Project here:

So today I would like you to join me in honouring and celebrating Jade and the powerful work she is doing for herself and other women around the world, helping them to see the beauty in their bodies…to see that the airbrushed images we are force-fed in the media are as fictional as Santa Claus…and that a real woman in all her glory is more beautiful by far.

Original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23276432

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU. …and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Today’s Fabulous Friday Female is Malala Yousafzai

Fabulous Friday Female Malala YousafzaiThere are people in this world who believe that women are an inferior gender, and do not deserve an education.

There are people in this world who will threaten, maim and even kill to protect and perpetuate this belief.

There are areas in the world where girls have been banned from attending school.

…but there is a strong, determined voice speaking out against them.

Malala Yousafzai was adamant about her right to an education.  She didn’t care if she had to sit on the floor all she wanted was to be able to learn.

She spoke out, she continued to attend school and she even shared through the BBC her beliefs about the Taliban’s rule and the right of every person to an education.

The louder her voice echoed around the world, the stronger the threats against her became.

Most people when faced with intimidation from a frightening group of people blatantly and explicitly threatening their life would at the very least question their ongoing course of action.  Many I’m sure would turn down the volume on their protests or even become silent, at least for a period of time.

But Malala was undeterred, remaining true to her firm belief that every person had a right to be educated, herself included.

Then in October 2012, when Malala was only 12 years old, the threats became a reality.

Fabulous Friday Female Mahala YousafzaiMalala was on the way home from school when Taliban gunmen stopped the bus she was on, and opened fire.  She was shot at point blank range in the head.

Following several days where she was unconscious and her condition critical, she improved enough to be air lifted to the UK where her recovery was nothing short of miraculous.

Incredibly even though she had been inches from death, Malala’s indomitable spirit was not shaken.

She was as determined as ever to continue on her mission to ensure that every child on the planet receives an education….no mean feat given that there are currently 61 million around the world who currently do not.

Today is Malala’s 16th birthday, and how is she celebrating?  A music concert? A dinner out with her friends? A sweet sixteen party? No.

malala_yousufzai_aphotoToday Malala Yousafzai is celebrating by addressing the UN in New York, urging the world to give every child an education.  She will be presenting them with a petition that over 3 million people have signed supporting her cause.

…this week alone over 500,000 people have added their names to a new petition raising their voices in support of this courageous girl and the message she is determined to share with the world.  To add your name to the petition, simply visit: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/every_child_in_school_global/?dLLxTbb

Already named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and the recipient of Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize, today has now been marked as Malala Day in her honour.

Please take the time to watch these short videos telling Malala’s story:

So today I would like you to join me in honouring and celebrating Malala, her courage, her spirit, her inspiration to so many around the world, showing the power of a single voice sharing a powerful truth against incredible odds.  This cause is not Malala’s, it is the responsibility of all of us, to ensure that every child has the opportunity to an education.  I hope Malala has inspired you as much as she has inspired me.

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU. …and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Today’s Fabulous Friday Fellow is Kute Blackson

FFF Kute BlacksonToday is only the second time ever that we’ve featured a Fabulous Friday Fellow…but when I read the open letter to all women that Kute Blackson shared earlier this year, I wanted to make sure that every woman I know (and even those I don’t) had the opportunity to read it too.

I normally share the reasons why someone is featured as a Fabulous Friday Female or Fellow…but this week I don’t need to.

No, I just need to share Kute’s words…and you’ll soon understand why…

So here it is…Kute Blackson’s message to women everywhere.  Read his words, allow yourself to receive them, allow yourself to absorb them, allow yourself to feel them with every fiber of your being:

My Dear,

You are priceless.

In our culture today, the real value of the feminine has been far undervalued and under-appreciated.

We tend to value things that we can touch, see, or understand with our logical mind.

But the real essence of who you are as woman is beyond form, dancing in the unseen, intangible realms.

The magic of the feminine is your mystery.

As a woman, one of your gifts is your profound intuition. You sense, see, and feel things beyond the physical. You know things way in advance. People may call you crazy, unreasonable, even unrealistic, but know that nothing revolutionary was created by dreaming small and buying into limitations.

We need your feminine gifts now on this planet more than ever in human history. We need your vision and your multidimensional sensitivity.

You as a woman have that magical ability to breathe life into something where there was nothing and give it form.

There is a reason that when you love, you light up a room.

There is a reason that when you give yourself to your man and support him with your heart’s devotion, his entire life transforms and even his income increases.

Your value is not in how you look, how much you weigh, how nice your skin is, whether you have no wrinkles or cellulite. Just you being an openhearted, radiant, blessing force of love…you are the gift in itself.

Just you allowing your soul-shine to smile upon all those you come in contact with is grace.

So, never sell your heart, body, or soul for love. The love you will get this way isn’t real.

Stay true to who you are and your inner knowing. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give us as men: Your authentic heart’s offering. If you aren’t you because you want us to love you, then we don’t really have YOU anyways.

You being fully self-expressed as the feminine is the gift.

There is nothing you need to DO and nothing you need to prove. I know we live in a culture where doing is worshiped, but know that just your presence is everything.

As a woman, you are a profound alchemical portal of transformation for us men. You are a Universe of infinite wonder where all of life exists.

Do you really know the power you have in the depth of your heart to move universes with simply the blink of an eye or a smile?

Do you really know the power you have to resurrect a life and give hope just with your compassion and care?

Do you really know the power you have to shape the future of humanity with the way you love a child?

Do you really know the power you have to inspire, so much so that a man built the Taj Mahal for his wife, who was dead!

Out of you, we are all birthed. For every human being alive, you were our first home for nine months. Out of you, we were literally formed and came into this world. Without you, we wouldn’t be.

And with you, we are more alive.

With you, I feel like I can touch the skies.

With you, there is nothing I cannot do.

I see you.

I honor you.

I love you.

Love.Now

Kute

(See here for the original post: http://www.positivelypositive.com/2013/04/27/a-letter-to-women/)

So today I would like you to join me in honouring and celebrating Kute and his words to women everywhere.  I hope that you allow the message he is sharing to resonate through every cell in your body, allow it to open your heart, and allow it to feed your soul.  Know that what he is saying is authentic, honest truth, and meant for you.

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU. …and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x

Today’s Fabulous Friday Female is Balpreet Kaur

FFF - Balpreet KaurEarlier this week I saw a story that was truly inspirational, the story of Balpreet Kaur and her experience with a “Reddit” user.

A Reddit user going by the handle “european_douchebag” posted a surreptitious photo (seen below) of a Sikh woman with the caption “i’m not sure what to conclude from this.” The user’s apparent confusion stems from the fact that the woman—bound by her religion not to cut her hair or alter her body—has an abundance of dark, untrimmed facial hair. The mind of european_douchebag was SO INCREDIBLY BLOWN by the fact that women have hair on their bodies—and, yes, faces—and that some women are bold, self-assured, and pious enough not to cave to western beauty standards (and gender expectations), there was nothing for him to do but post her photo online and wait for the abuse to flood in.

But then something totally lovely and unexpected happened. The woman in the photo responded:

Balpreet Kaur

“Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled However, I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am. Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women.

However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions.

My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are.

So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I’ve gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.”

And then, THEN, something even more miraculous happened—the original poster apologized:

“I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.

/r/Funny wasn’t the proper place to post this. Maybe /r/racism or /r/douchebagsofreddit or /r/intolerance would have been more appropriate. Reddit shouldn’t be about putting people down, but a group of people sending cool, interesting, or funny things. Reddit’s been in the news alot lately about a lot of cool things we’ve done, like a freaking AMA by the president. I’m sorry for being the part of reddit that is intolerant and douchebaggy. This isn’t 4chan, or 9gag, or some other stupid website where people post things like I did. It’s fucking reddit. Where some pretty amazing stuff has happened.

I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.

So reddit I’m sorry for being an asshole and for giving you negative publicity.
Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am
Sikhs, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life.
Balpreet’s faith in what she believes is astounding.”

Original Article: http://jezebel.com/5946643/reddit-users-attempt-to-shame-sikh-woman-get-righteously-schooled

Seeing a young woman who is so self assured, and confident in who she is that she has the power to be able to help someone who was blinded by ignorance to see the beauty and power of being who you are, and loving yourself, as you are, has touched many people.  

So today I would like you to join me in honouring and celebrating Balpreet, who is showing the power of loving yourself, regardless of what anyone else has to say about you…and I hope that she inspires many other women to do the same.

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As you know, I would love to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the women and men who have inspired you as well. So if there is someone that you believe should feature as a Fabulous Friday Female (or Fellow!), then send me an email (claire@feminine1st.com) with 3 simple details:

  • Who is your Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow? (Her / his name and location in the world)
  • Why is she / he a Fabulous Friday Female / Fellow to YOU? (How do you know her / him? What does she / he do? In what way is she / he inspiring?)
  • A photo or link to a picture of her / him online (if there is a reason that you would prefer not to include a photo, just let me know)

So help me to share with all of our lovely ladies the real women and men who inspire YOU. …and remember, as always, to Stay Fabulous too!

Claire x