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The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This


The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This

message from the moon

message from the moon

Sometimes you lay awake thinking about all of the things.

It’s 1am and your eyes snap open because your brain simply could not wait one more second to tell you:  WHAT ABOUT THESE (MOSTLY IMAGINARY) PROBLEMS??

Had you thought about THOSE THINGS?

You kick the sheets, trying to kick the thoughts.  No go.

Night follows night.  You are no stranger to the darkness.

But then one night you lay awake thinking about none of the things.  Ambivalence—the most insidious emotion—skewers its claws into your ribcage.

It’s too exhausting to care.  What’s the point?

At 3:26am that night, just as you are finally drifting off to sleep, your three-year-old will come into the room because—well it doesn’t really matter why she *says* she comes in every night.  The real reason is that she wants to know that she is not alone in this world and you really can’t blame her for that now, can you?

Or maybe there is another reason she comes in.

You watch, Soldier.  Watch what happens.

After you stroke your daughter's cheek and tuck her back into bed, you will turn, and through the crack in the side of the room-darkening blinds, you will see it:  the moon.

Its brilliance will cut through the night and illuminate your face and cause physical reactions within you.

You’ll gasp, step backwards, and drop down onto the side of the bed with awe.

When was the last time something has cut through the darkness like this?

The white on black, the crisp points of the crescent moon…it’s hard to get that type of clarity in camera.

It’s hard to get that type of clarity in life.


There.  There in your moon-trance, you will hear it.  You will finally hear what the moon has been trying to tell you all along.

It’s been trying to tell you this since the very first night that you landed here, but you haven’t had much time for things like moons, have you?

Moon doesn’t mind.

Moon says you were not ready to know then.

You are ready to know now.

Moon is beaming, “I know you think it is the dead of night right now, but that is only in your perception!”

Keep listening, Soldier.  Moon’s message is not only metaphorical but very very literal.

It’s both.

Moon says, “I know it appears to you that the sun has stopped shining but Sun has NEVER stopped shining—NOT EVEN ONCE!!

‘In fact,” Moon is telling you, “Sun is shining RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!  You do not see the sun from where you are standing so LOOK.  I will show her to you!”

And then moon pushes the light of the sun from all the way around the other side of the earth directly to hit your face.

Moon is telling you the light is still accessible, even in the darkest of nights.

“Hold on just a little longer,” says Moon, “and you will not have to try so hard to see the light.  In time you will be SWIMMING in it!  That time is JUST AROUND THE CORNER.  LOOK!”

When you receive this message, oh you-who-is-waking-up, you hug it in tight.  Tuck it into your belly and wrap your knees and clavicles around it and hold onto it for dear life.

Because that’s what’s going to pull you out of this.

Six months ago, I noticed the moon.

That’s when it hit me:  You will not get out of the darkness by laying on your back psycho-analyzing the darkness.  You will get out of the darkness by catching more and more light.

You will not get out by asking, “how did I get here?”  You will get out by asking, “What works?”

Light leads to more light.  Did a little light of mine in footy pajamas not take me by the hand to show me the moon?

So I started looking for more moons:  little slivers of light poking through dark moments.

One moon keeps leading to another.

Look around, Soldier.  Where do you see moons?

YOUR “moon” may not be THE moon, per se.  Maybe the thing that will remind you of your aliveness will be the high that comes after a long walk in the biting cold.  Or the soft nose of a horse.  Or the laugh of your niece.  Or the courage of a seedling reaching towards the sun from a cup on your windowsill.


You pay attention to that thing that makes you feel good and alive.

That “moon” will take you to more light.

Which will take you to more light.

And one day soon—I am so sure of this—sooner than you can even imagine—you will belly-crawl onto that brighter shore, exhausted and gasping for air, and you will turn onto your back and sputter towards the sky, “By God, that night nearly killed me.”

But it will not kill you, dear Soldier.

Not if you let yourself be led by the light of the moons.



How to Plan the New Year So You Get What You Want. (OR: The Method I Used to Significantly Improve a Class I Taught Recently)

Photography class RI
Photography class RI

Because I'm the type of person who boils the ocean to get to the fish, I've consulted the work of at least a dozen professionals regarding the best way to plan a new year.

Want to know my favorite fish in that pond?

Can I interest ya in the catch o' the day, my friends?

Danielle LaPorte.  Desire Mapping.  Get in my belly.

Here's the low-down:

Danielle LaPorte makes the darn good point that with traditional goal-setting, we tend to forget WHY we set our goals in the first place, and then in pursuing those goals we fly in the face of the very feelings we originally set out to pursue.

For example.

Say a bloke sets a goal to "bring home 20% more income than last year."  He sets it because he wants himself and his family to live healthier, happier lives.  And then in pursuing that goal he spends most of his hours and his meals away from home, which leads to emergency marriage counseling and cholesterol meds.

No judgement here, friends.  We're just looking at whether this guy is hitting his mark is all.

(He may very well be meeting his mark if feeling "professionally fulfilled" is more important to him than feeling "happy" and "connected."  Let's not assume one feeling is better than another.  But in this example, the guy's GOAL was happiness and health.  That's all.)

Sometimes (always) goal achievement does require grit.  Sometimes we need to go through the hard feelings to get to the good feelings.  But being conscious of our core desired feelings is so very empowering!

I'll flesh that out in a minute.

In the example above, even if this guy brought in 500% more income, he would never feel satisfied because he is still missing his TRUE goal:  health and happiness.

What this means:

This means that the key to feeling the way we want to feel is by always keeping in mind how we want to feel - so we can use these feelings as our MAPS!  

Danielle calls these our "Core Desired Feelings" (CDF's.)

We keep our CDF's at the top of our minds when we decide *which* goals to take on and *how* we are gonna go about pursuing those goals.


The Big Picture

So first we start with the big picture.  One year.  Check out Danielle's book for worksheets that are helpful in the boiling-down process, but if you're in a hurry, just think:  what are the 3-5 main feelings I want to feel this year?

For me:  Peaceful.  Embodied.  Surrendered.  Playful.  Secure.  Connection.

And a whole lot of other things, like maternal, generous, traction, etc.  But I think those feelings will flow naturally from the top six.

Getting down to only 3 CDF's just feels unrealistic for this feely person, for crying out loud.

A Real Life Example

Next you ask yourself the same question regarding each thing you set out to do.  For example.  In planning my photography class for last weekend, I asked myself:  how do I want to feel while and after I teach this course?

My answers:

  1. Fun
  2. Helpful
  3. Connected.

So I went through all of my slides and handouts and asked myself:  how could I make this more fun / helpful?  How could I connect better with my students?

I threw out the handouts I spent a lot of time on last year.  They bored me.

Instead I created worksheets with questions like this:

Funny Photography 101 question
Funny Photography 101 question

As helpful as last year's handouts?  More so.  More fun than that boring drivel I used last year?  Absolutely.

Before the class I visualized myself being fun, helpful and connected.  And wouldn't you know it but I was on fire that day.  And people said things like this...and this:

RI Photography class reviews
RI Photography class reviews

So I'd say it was a success.


Incidentally, by popular demand, the good people at Bellani and I are offering another 101 class.

Here's that info.

Bethany teaching photography 101 class at Bellani Maternity
Bethany teaching photography 101 class at Bellani Maternity

On a More Personal Note:

I wrote another "New Year's" post for you before this one, containing the biggest lesson I learned in 2014.

I'd say it's maybe my best post ever.  It's definitely my rawest post ever.  I'm note quite ready to put it out there yet.  Gimme a week or 52.

In the meantime, I hope this less personal post has been helpful!  :)

A Word of Caution:

Desire Mapping is a phenomenal tool, but...please.  Don't get it twisted.

It's incredibly empowering to envision how we want to feel and to take small steps every day towards those feelings.

But there are limitations to how much power we have to choose how we feel in the current moment.  Trust me on this one.

Oftentimes, the only way to get to happiness is to be at peace with whatever other emotions are coming up for you.  To stop resisting them.

Please set your intentions on where you want to go without judging where you are now.  There is a reason you are feeling whatever you are feeling now.  All emotions are valid and important, and I'm not just BS'ing you.

Learn from how you're feeling.  And keep moving.

Love to you,

Bethany Signature - no O
Bethany Signature - no O


What Not to Say to Struggling Loved Ones during the Holidays


What Not to Say to Struggling Loved Ones during the Holidays

Bethany O
Bethany O

One perk of being from a large family and having no control over my tear ducts is that I am the lucky recipient of a lot of advice.

I also have a lot of data for studying how people respond to my pain.

On one remarkable occasion of untimely tear ducts, my eyelids started leaking just when 30ish family members gathered around two 50th birthday cakes to sing a little diddy to two special birthday girls.

This day was noteworthy because it broke a personal record.  In the 30-minutes following the final serenade of “Happy Birthday to you,” concerned loved ones offered me all of the following:

  • sympathy,
  • God,
  • hugs of varying severities,
  • inspiring quotations,
  • music,
  • a massage,
  • advice of varying desperations,
  • pharmaceuticals,
  • compliments,
  • space,
  • CAKE
  • laughter,
  • sundry other such offerings.

When people see you struggling, they tend to tell you you need the thing that THEY need when they are struggling.

Which is super helpful, in the highly unlikely event that it’s true.

[Let me be clear that I am NOT requesting that you people stop with the above generous offerings!  Because--COME ON!!!  OFFERINGS!]

Here come some observations that I think could serve the world:

  • By my rough estimates, one million percent of the time, advice-givers have BEAUTIFUL and KIND and LOVING intentions.
  • For sure we’d be hard-pressed to think of a richer blessing in life than a suffocatingly generous family!  [POUNDSIGNTHANKFUL]
  • SOMETIMES well-meaning advice-givers are unintentionally inflammatory.

(Not in MY family, of course!  MY family only says RIGHT THINGS!  I have mainly heard this from other individuals, is all!  Mere conjecture is what this is!)

But now I’m thinking.

Today is Thanksgiving, which as we all know is the day families gather around dead birds to feast and inadvertently hurt each others’ feelings.

I’m thinking of Bridget Jones, who dreaded the holidays because people would always pity-ask her if she had found a boyfriend yet.

And I’m thinking of some friends who are going through some really hard times right now:  divorce, miscarriage, sickness, mourning, job-loss.  I’m concerned they might avoid family on Thanksgiving—the very thing their hearts need for healing—because they dread the pity-parties and the suffocation by advice-givers.

Which is why I want to offer some advice to all the unsolicited advice-givers of the world.

[And for dessert:  IRONY!]

Here are some examples of well-intentioned comments that may or may not be inflammatory:

“I see you struggling and sometimes I feel sad too.”

[NICE!!  100 points for vulnerability.  Thanks for being human, you.]

"...sometimes I feel sad too and I understand what you're going through."

[WRONG.  No you don't know her pain.]

“I have felt sad too and I fixed it so you just need to do what I did to feel better.” 

[Minus two hundred points for creating a Victim/Hero superiority dynamic.  Also:  Yellow card on the invalidation.]

“I see you are sad and you just need to focus on the positive.” 

[Minus ten million points for invalidating like it’s your job.]

“I see you are sad and I AM SO CONCERNED.”

[Minus all the points.  Who is this about?  I’m exhausted just reading your sentence.]

Again:  I see your intentions and I know they are so, so good!  It's the delivery we're tweaking!

The above examples landed on this page all willy-nilly-like, but the reason I came on here today was to tell you about my uncle Jim.

That day at the double-50th birthday fest, I snuck away to another room for a breather, what with all the good advice I was getting.

My uncle came in.

“Hey,” he said, open-heartedly.  (You know an open heart when you see one, friends!)

‘I never know what to say,” he said.  “Your aunts are so much better with advice than I am.  But I want you to know that I care.  Would you mind if I just sit quietly with you?”


Listen.  I’m sure you have a lot of helpful suggestions for your loved one.  But your advice is bandaids on arterial spray if you skip the part about loving them AS THEY ARE.

When we see a person’s pain and instinctively try to change it, we inadvertently create the illusion of conditional love.

We are saying, “I love you, and I need you to change so that I will feel more comfortable.”

Our good intention shifts from being about THEM to being about US.

But as Oriah Mountain Dreamer says, "I want to know if you can sit with pain—mine or your own—without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I can think of no more admirable show of character than this.

I can think of no better gift you could give your loved one this holiday than this message:

“I see you.  I can sit with your pain without moving to change you.  Because I love you just the way you are.” 

Which is why today I will sit with the well-meaning advice givers, and I will not try to change their approach.

Because I love them just the way they are.

Especially when they are offering massages.


How to Cope with Death--and Live Life--with a Little More "Joie David"


How to Cope with Death--and Live Life--with a Little More "Joie David"

RI lifestyle photographer_1131
RI lifestyle photographer_1131

Our family is groping through the darkness, trying to reorient ourselves after the sudden loss of my luminous cousin, David, on October 28th.

(You may remember David from this post about the morning I spent with him leading up to his wedding.)

I've never known anybody with a laugh quite so infectious, an aliveness quite so intense.  He was deep and he was light and it's perhaps his mastery of those two extremes that most fascinated me about him.

David Pearson Deep and Light
David Pearson Deep and Light

My cousin believed that life is "the soul's playground"...a RIDE between the nursery and the morgue.

He used to ask, "Are you enjoying the ride?"

It brings us comfort to know he packed more living into his 39 years than most could pack into two hundred.


My father said it best when he said:

"We've had SO many wonderful relatives and friends send their condolences and love to our family.  For that we are eternally thankful, and that is an incredibly helpful ingredient in our healing process.

But there are a lot of people here today [at his services or on this web page] who never met David.  You are here because you are sorry for our loss.

We are sorry for YOU, because you didn't have the pleasure of knowing one of our favorite people."

RI lifestyle photographer_1130
RI lifestyle photographer_1130

It's been really moving to see how many people have stepped forward since David's death to say, "that man changed my life."

I wrote the eulogy below in an attempt to preserve some of the big ideas David lived by...ideas he was always so enthusiastic about sharing.

I would like David's message to continue on and to spread as far as possible, which is why I've elected to record and share the eulogy here.

For those who have loved David:  may this eulogy help you cope.

For those with the misfortune of never having known him:  may this eulogy help you live.

Intense love,



Lift the Rudder, Magellan.


Lift the Rudder, Magellan.


Sometimes life feels chaotic, overwhelming, yes?  I've been hearing this from a lot of people lately, most namely from my own brain.

Just wanted to share a few concepts that are helping me on this front.

In too much of a hurry to watch the video?  I know you are.  Because life is so chaotic, of course.

Here are the Cliff's Notes to the video:  all of the answers you are seeking can be found in the silence.  In stillness.

That's where the uni-verse does its whispering.

But you're doing everything in your power to avoid the silence.  

[Oh, snap!]

Outer chaos is only a reflection of inner chaos, outer peace a reflection of inner peace.

This weekend, can you find the peace?  As Oriah Mountain Dreamer says,

...I want to knowif you can sit with painmine or your ownwithout moving to hide itor fade itor fix it.

I want to knowif you can be with joymine or your ownif you can dance with wildnessand let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toeswithout cautioning usto be carefulto be realisticto remember the limitationsof being human...

My friend:  can you do that?



I Know This Much Is True

I know this much is true flowers

I know this much is true flowers

So many thoughts lately. I want to share all of them and I want to share none of them.

While I’m waiting to see where those balls land, a story for you.  One that is deeply simple and simply deep, like all the best stories are.

You may or may not know that I've been doin’ my fair share o' soul-searching lately.  Asking the deep questions, breathing the deep breaths.

When I last wrote, I was about to embark on a two week adventure in the woods wherein I, much like the Indigo Girls, went to see the doctor of philosophy.  “I went to do the doctor, I went to the mountains. I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains…”

I lost myself and I found myself.  Found more of me than I left with—the good parts that I had forgotten existed—the parts of me I most treasure.

I've since misplaced those parts again.

But I know they're not far from me now.  I just had them.  They'll turn up any day now.

More adventures have ensued.

I’m leaving no stone unturned, no demon unseen.

In some quiet moments amongst the chaos, I see that my teacher is right:  joy really does follow peace.

And peace is everywhere.

I feel that, and I remember it.

My peace.

Our peace.

The Peace.

Other moments suck the wind from my lungs as if I have croup.  I grab my seat--white knuckles squeezing for anything that will keep me here--I grab at my seat for dear life.

Awakening’s a bitch, I tell you.

My ego is not going down without one hell of a battle.

Luckily, neither is my heart.

Last Saturday I was on a hike with our five-year-old son and I was chewing on some deep thoughts about worthiness and worthlessness, self-love and self-loathing, when I remembered that kids are the very best teachers.  They probably know innately the keys to self-love and self-worth, I'm guessing.

So I asked him, “[Son] - what do you love about you?”

Without skipping a beat, because kids are wicked sharp like that, he said, “What I love about me is that when I ride my bike, I feel the wind in my face.”

Stay there.  That sentence brought you to your knees, yes?  Stay on your knees and chew on that.

Let it settle in.

“What I love about me is that when I ride my bike, I feel the wind in my face.”

I may still be struggling to put into words and into consciousness the truths that I have always known in my heart.  I may have travelled thousands of miles seeking answers when really the only distance I need to traverse is the vast and nonexistent space between my head and my heart.

But I do know that this much is true:

The answers we seek: we will find them by feeling the wind upon our cheeks.

More love than our tiny minds could ever possibly quantify is as real, as close, and as accessible as the breeze upon our faces.

Also I know this:

The fact that I, too, pause on occasion to feel that breeze tickling my nose...despite all the noise and all the shadows and all the "shoulds" and all the screens vying for my attention...

I love that about me.

That's really something.

That, maybe, is everything.



How to Know If You Are Ready to Pursue Your Dream

How to Know if you are ready to pursue your dream

How to Know if you are ready to pursue your dream

“DAD,” I say. “GET THIS.' 'This Happiness and Success Telesummit coming up? They’re expecting 60,000 people to tune in.  And they’re interviewing ME. As an EXPERT!!”

I slap my knee and say “expert” with punchline voice, certain my dad will find this as funny as I do.

Dad is not amused.  I wrinkle the skin above my nose, thoroughly confused.  My dad finds EVERYTHING funny.

“That’s not how you say it,” he says. "You say [confidently], '...and they are interviewing me as an expert.'"

I say nothing, my playfulness gone.

"Bethany.  You've spent thousands of hours over several DECADES studying happiness.  You are passionate about it like no one I know.  People want to hear your opinion.  You're an expert.  Own it."

I nod respectfully and inside I feel two things:

1) Appreciation for my Daddy's rose-colored glasses, and

2) Irritation that he didn't find me funny.

But irritation is just another Halloween mask worn by fear.

Maybe I'm afraid.

Maybe I'm afraid he's right.

Will this quote haunt me forever?

Deepest Fear Marianne Williamson quote

Deepest Fear Marianne Williamson quote


Now it's yesterday.  I'm at the gym having a conversation with the woman on the machine next to me because she grabbed my ear before I had the chance to put on my headphones in the universal sign language for, "please don't speak to me."

Gym time is thinking time in my book.

But really the reason I hadn't put on my headphones was because Universe wanted me to speak to this woman.

Because she is awesome.

She manages a large team of employees and I can tell she's good at it.  I recently hired my first full-time employee.  I want to tap into her brain.

I pepper her with questions and she nails them one after another.  I literally take notes.  On the cardio machine.

She finishes her cardio and in a moment of inspiration I ask her if she'd ever consider business coaching.

I'm practically whipping out my credit card, for God's sake.  I'm ready to hire her.

In the time it takes me to ask her this question, I see three emotions flash through her eyes.

1) An inner knowing that she would be good at it. [This passes in a millisecond.] 2) Desire to do it. 3) Fear that she's not enough.

The third is the one she runs with.

“I actually would LOVE to do that someday.  Whether for profit or just to help people, I don’t know.  Someday I should write down all these thoughts I have about management and business.  I would need to do that before I could coach people.”

“Maybe,” I say.  “But maybe not.  I think you’re ready for it now.  Without any preparation.”

She is on her heels for the first time in an hour.

“You know who would be awesome for you?” she says.  “Sally Rodriguez.*  She’s a fantastic business management coach.”

*** I think we're all waiting for the day where we "feel like" experts at the things we love.

But I've got news for us.

I think the only people who actually "feel like" experts are the ones who are furthest from it.  I think all of our favorite "experts" probably go to sleep at night wondering when people will find out that they are not really "experts" after all.

Because those of us who have learned the most are those of us who are truly passionate about learning.  And anybody who is passionate about learning is respectful of the process.  We know there is no end.

The more we learn, the more we know how much more we need to learn.

They call this "conscious incompetence."

So how do you know if you are ready to live your dream?

You don't.

But you could run the deathbed test on it.

Some day (hopefully a long time from now) when you are on your deathbed, will you wish you had pursued this dream?

If yes, then you must pursue it, and you must begin today.

Tony Robbins calls this type of uncertainty "necessary uncertainty."

When Kita asked me, during the interview, what I’ve learned on my journey of studying how to “Let it Shine,” a novel's worth of thoughts popped into my head.

But perhaps the biggest, the simplest, and the most complicated thing I’ve learned on this journey is that shining HINGES upon the word “Let.”

You've got to LET yourself shine, Dahlin.

The only thing getting in the way of you shining is you.

Just STOP STOPPING yourself from shining.

It's as simple as that.

Take it from me [dusts shoulders] because I am an expert.


The Power of Being Seen - Bethany O'Connor

The Power of Being Seen - Bethany O'Connor

If it's of interest to ya, the "Happiness and Success Telesummit" will be airing their interview with me about "The Power of Being Seen" tomorrow night at 6pm.

I kind of blanked out on what I said during it and a very large part of me hopes you don't actually listen to it, so I'm guessing it might be juicy.

Here's the link to listen in.  


*Sally Rodriguez is a made-up name. I can’t remember the name she said.



Oh, Fear: You Little Punk. (Also: New Music Video.)

Oh fear you little punk

Oh fear you little punk

Oh, Fear.  You little punk.  You have snuck up on me again.

You disguise yourself as overwhelm and perfectionism and I'm-too-busy-ness, but I'm not buying it anymore.

You, fear, have been apprehended.


It's been said that there are only two emotions in life, and all the others stem from these:  fear and love.

Steve Carrell - I want people to be afraid of how much they love me - FB dimensions

Steve Carrell - I want people to be afraid of how much they love me - FB dimensions

But I might wager that even fear stems back to love.  If you could strip the smelly onion layers off of that prickly pear called Fear, it too would reveal a core of Love.

We crave love from the depths of us.  And we're afraid we're unworthy of love.

We're afraid we're not "enough."

THAT is what breeds all the negative emotions, if you're asking me.

I've learned that whenever a project sits on my "haven't-had-time-to-get-to-this" list for long enough, I need to ask myself what I'm afraid of.

Because it's fear and nothing else that keeps our creative projects from seeing the light of day.  Any parent or creative person can tell you how scary it is to allow our babies into the world.

At the beginning of this year, I hired (the super talented) Jarret Blinkhorn of JB Horn Films to create a video for my website.

Jarret is not only super talented but also super speedy:  the video has been ready for viewing for several months.

I simply have not been ready to be viewed.

I thought the reason I hadn't publicized it yet was because this site needed major updates.  And I have clients to tend to!  And a FAMILY!  And OTHER THINGS!

But those excuses were just Fear, dancing around in Halloween masks.

That little punk.

The real freaking irony here is that I SPEAK in the VIDEO about the tendency to fear that we are not "enough."

When we SPEAK INTELLIGENTLY about things, it is supposed to mean that we are IMMUNE from them!  I have stabbed my victory flag though the heart of Fear!  He is KAPUT for me!   Hence why I have called him out in my VIDEO!  I am a verified expert!  DONE with Fear, I am!  DONE!

So WHY am I procrastinating?

[Drums fingers against cheek like the Grinch pondering Christmas.]

Oh, Fear.  That little punk.

It's scary to the bahjeezus degree to put yourself out there.  Even an expert would tell you that.

But I, for one, refuse to let a silly little thing like fear stand between me and my plans.

When we turn our backs on fear, we see that all that's left is love.

So today I stand before you once again as I (lovingly) tell my fears to F*ck Off.

I present to you:  the new Bethany O Photography music video*.

I'm afraid of how much I love it.

*And by "music video," I mean that it is a video.  And it has music in it.    If embedded video isn't working, click here to see it on youtube.


Do you have any creative projects that have been sitting on the "to-do" list for a long time?

Join me in telling Fear to F*ck Off!  

Tell me one TINY step you could take towards moving that project along today!



I Can See Clearly Now; the Pain Is Gone. - My Messy Beautiful


I Can See Clearly Now; the Pain Is Gone. - My Messy Beautiful



Our gym has mirrors in front of the cardio equipment and I like that.

Narcissist?  Doubtful.  If I have narcissistic qualities, they're probably more the "blogger" flavor than the "mirror" variety.

I like those mirrors at the gym because they remind me of my strength.

Sometimes I forget my own strength, you see.

But it wasn't strength I noticed in those mirrors last summer.  Last summer, I saw tears streaming down my cheeks while I ran.  My knees kicked high and my arms swung strong but what I saw in that mirror was that I was too sad to give a damn that I was crying on the cardio trainer.

Or maybe I thought I was actually a bit bad-ass, what with all that sprinting through tears and all.

Either way:  tears.

When Katy Perry yelled into my ear buds that, "this is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me," I lost her in translation.

I was in the midst of a doozie of a battle with depression and I thought Katy meant that THAT was the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me.  That no matter how many tools I employed to keep my head above water in the sea of sadness, I would always be fighting the undertow.

What an awfully depressing thing to sing about, non?

But I just wasn't seeing things clearly.

I am remembering a moment of clarity that took place last fall.  I was not at the gym, I was…elsewhere…and someone really got my goat, which obviously led me to wordlessly ask her with my eyes and face only, "what the hell is YOUR problem?"

This, of course, was what caused my AH-HA moment, because it was neither the first nor the fourth time that morning that I had to use my face to ask someone that very question.

Could I really have encountered so many goat-getters in one morning?  Did EVERYONE wake up that day and put "Get Bethany's Goat" at the top of their to-do list?  Or was I GIVING the goats, per se?

Didn't yo momma teach you never to give goats, B???

Prepare yourself, Kind Reader, for now I shall push this goat-getting expression far beyond its intended threshold for the pushing.

It will be beautiful.

I had to catch a goat when I was 15.  The real kind.  I was babysitting on a farm and they said to make sure the goat didn't get out and wouldn't you know it but that goat got OUT. So I chased that kid (of the goat, not the child variety) around that farm, dove a few times to catch him, and when I finally grabbed his collar THAT was when the goat-catching process got DIFFICULT.

Goats do not like it when you grab their collars, you see.  They'll drag ya in the herbiest of jerkiest ways that they can think to drag ya.  They'll buck up and they'll jump up and they'll do their goat-iest to not be GOTTEN.

And so it is from real-life field work that I can tell you it is no easy task to "get" a goat.  In fact, I'd wager that if you were going to get someone's goat (of the literal, not the idiom variety), the goat owner would need to actually GIVE you her goat.  On a leash.  Inside a fence.  Surrounded by a moat.  By deeding you her land.

For that is the only-est way that a goat can be gotten.

Ya follow?  If someone "gets your goat," that's your work, not theirs.  

Or maybe it's their work too, but since you can only do the work of one, stick to yours.

So please consider my relevant field experience before the next time you go casually throwing around the "that person really got my goat" expression.

[So EN VOGUE you are with your expressions, you!  So FUNKY, so RAD!]

Listen.  Sometimes I grow weary of writing about DEPRESSION and STRUGGLES up in here.  I write about these things with the intention of helping anybody who feels scary-alone in their struggles, as I did for so very long, and also because NOT writing about these things feels a lot like I'd be HIDING (ashamed of) them again.

I REFUSE to stand any longer for the shaming of depression.


But the word "self-sabotage" has been lobbed at me a couple times recently, and I am a smidge concerned that if I keep writing stories of sadnesses (which is actually EASIER than celebrating our victories, innit?) I may begin to IDENTIFY more with the messy part of me than with the part of me that really shines.

I may begin to cling to it.

So I'm navigating that.  I'm tweaking it.

BUT.  AND.  Every time I've done a swan-dive into the deep end of the sea of sadness, I've learned something.  MANY THINGS, really.  These things carry a heavy price-tag (payable only in grit, sweat, time and tears), so today I'm recording just one more of the bigger take-aways from The Great Swan Dive of 2013 before I go writing about The Great Strides Forward of 2014.

Here it is:

When we are not in our healthiest place mentally (whether due to clinical depression or to the occasional human condition of simply being "off"), we don't see things clearly.

The catch is:  we don't KNOW we're not seeing things clearly for the simple reason that WE ARE NOT SEEING THINGS CLEARLY.

SOit is imperative that we take it upon ourselves to watch for clues that our lens is dirty.

Here is one clue.  When we're not on our A-Game, we're more sensitive, more easily insulted, more quick to give goats.  

In my humble opinion, the concept of a "bad day" is [usually] less a statement about the day itself than it is about the person who is having it.

When we ask, "what the hell is HER problem?" we really should be asking, "what the love is MY problem?  What am I neglecting?"  

Likely answers:  Sleep and/or exercise and/or gratitude and/or vegetables and/or meditation and/or other self-love goodnesses of all varieties and whatnots and whathaveyous.

All of those activities clean our lenses.

[PSST!  When I say "we" here, really what I mean is, "I."  But really-est, I do actually mean "we."]

Stay with me, you.

When we/I/WE are slam-dunking the above whatnots and whathaveyous, we have very few goats for the taking.  The person who done-and-got-my-goat last fall could have made that same comment to me today, and because today I am in a great place [please--knock on ALL THE WOODS], my face would have only shown her love and concern.  And light.

My lens is clean.

When we give it time, our messy always has a way of showing us our beautiful.

Today, I went to the gym--the same messy, beautiful warrior I have always been--and I listened to that same Katy Perry song.

Today, I locked my black pupils on my own in the mirror as I sprinted hard and triumphantly, and today I saw my truth more accurately.

Today I saw that I am diligent--INSISTENT, even--about putting one foot in front of the other--not only on the cardio machine, but IN LIFE.

Today I saw that even on days when it feels too painful to get out of bed--when I'd rather lay prostrate, clawing at the earth because the world is moving so very SWIFTLY and the air is so very THIN for the BREATHING...even on those days, I get up.  I MOVE.  I do what needs to be done.

I sprint through tears.

This TENACITY?  This INDESTRUCTIBLE, ORIGINAL, FIERCE, KIND and LUMINOUS spirit?  THIS is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me.

And when I say "me" here, I really-est mean "us."

Don't get it twisted.


Bethany O Momastery Messy Beautiful Warriors Project.png

Bethany O Momastery Messy Beautiful Warriors Project.png

Hello, sweet friends.

I wrote this in case your own lens is cloudy today.  I hope it helps.

Remember that post that went viral a few years ago called "Don't Carpe Diem?"  Glennon Melton wrote that.

I could not possibly say enough nice things about Glennon Melton, which is why I was tickled pink when I received the invitation to participate in her latest project.

This essay and I are part of Glennon's Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project - to learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

And to learn about Glennon's New York Times Bestselling Memoir, "Carry On, Warrior:  the Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life" (just released in paperback), CLICK HERE!

I am not making this up when I say that "Carry On, Warrior" is my favorite go-to gift for ALL Mommas:  Brand New Mommas and Less-New Mommas too.  I keep a stack of these on hand because Lawd knows I do not ever think to buy gifts until the last minute.

Glennon's team has given me a copy of her beloved book to give to one of my beloved readers.  Because they are thoughtful and kind like that.  

To enter the raffle for the book (YOU WANT THIS BOOK, YOU DO), simply leave a comment below this post.  

All comments count as raffle entries.  If you're feeling short on words today, just write, "LOVE THIS!"  

That will do nicely.  :)

With so much love and light, Bethany






Beating the Opponent You May Not Know You Are Fighting.

Bethany New Year Resolution Video Screen Shot.jpg
Bethany New Year Resolution Video Screen Shot.jpg

I made a video for you a couple weeks ago.  It kind of stinks a lil bit.

The INTENTION behind it doesn't stink and even the IDEAS within it are non-stinky.  But the delivery and the technical aspects of the recording?  STANK.

You might notice that I'm helplessly long-winded, I miscommunicate a couple of points (especially the first one) and from the looks of how I shot this you might think I don't know a thing or three about light and shadows.

Also.  I love that I have big teeth but the angle of the camera here makes it appear as if my face is about 30% teeth, when really it is only 29% teeth.

Do you see what I'm doing here?

I'm burning the grass.

Legend has it that when Napoleon was once losing a battle, he retreated his troops through their own land, burning their OWN grass in their OWN fields as they retreated.

They did that to starve the advancing enemy.  So the enemy would not have any food or water to fuel them as they advanced back towards Napoleon's troops.  And Napoleon would be able to see the enemy coming.

No grass, no food, no power, no hiding.  Burning the grass.

A sales manager once taught me that sometimes you have to burn your own grass.  Mention shortcomings of your own product before the competitor can try to use those shortcomings against you.  Stay one step ahead of the competition so you can cut 'em out at the knees.

Le sigh.

...Le sigh again.

We hu-mans do this all the time.  But less in regards to our PRODUCTS and more in regards to our SELVES.

We speak badly about ourselves so as to disempower anybody who might try to speak badly about us.

As in:  "Oh, you want to say I'm long-winded?  That my video lighting is amateur?  Nope.  Can't say that.  I already said it.  Point disqualified.  Whatchya got now, suckaaaaahs???"

I protect myself from attack.

Let me be the one to come out and say that this "burning the grass" strategy of self-protection?  IT is what sucks.  We think that people are out to criticize us but in the end, the one who is most actively criticizing us is ourselves.

And our subconscious minds BELIEVE the things we tell ourselves, so it becomes self-fulfilling.

And the only opinion of us that really matters is our own.

So as soon as we burn the grass, we lose.

A couple days ago I stumbled upon a link to an article I had contributed to another website a year ago.  So I read it.  And I proceeded to want to vom-dot-com.

I was HORRIFIED.  As in:  itchy-sweat-I-wonder-who-I-can-pay-to-remove-this-from-the-interwebs horrified.  Burn-the-servers horrified.

"What was I thinking??"  I wondered.  "Why would I make myself so vulnerable in discussing such PERSONAL topics on the INTERNET?  How am I so AUDACIOUS as to think anybody would WANT to read my drivel??"

Then I got to the bottom of the post.  Many people had written to say that the post was HELPING them.  Shifting their perspectives.  They THANKED me for my vulnerability.  The post has been tweeted 2,432 times.

Not one criticism.

soulseeds screenshot
soulseeds screenshot

Which gets me thinking.  I'm thinking today about internal Resistance, with a capital "R" to recognize the foe for the powerful opponent that it is.

In spiritual communities, Resistance is the equivalent of Christianity's Devil.  It's the negative force in the world that tries to stop good things from happening.

But it's an INVISIBLE force.  People don't even see it coming.

Stephen Pressfield teaches that Resistance kicks in at its strongest right before we're about to do something good (which usually involves being vulnerable.)  That's when it whispers in our ear that we are not good enough, strong enough, ready enough. 

That's when it convinces us to stay small.

If there is one thing I cannot stand in life it is anybody telling me I am not good enough to do something.  I'll be damned in every sense of the expression if I ever let somebody stop ME from doing what it is I plan to do.

Resistance can go to hell.

So today, I am posting this video.  It may not be the best video any of us have ever seen, but it's a major victory over Resistance.

And that is good enough for me.

(Please note that I especially miscommunicated the advice Nick and my Dad relayed.  It sounded much more positive coming from them.  Oh well.)


People and things I mention in the video, for reference:


Want to chime in with some thoughts?  I always love to hear from you.

with love and light
with love and light



Things Worth Celebrating. (Also: Help Wanted.)

RI lifestyle photographer_0371.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0371.jpg

First thing yesterday morning, our two-year-old snuck her way into a bag of Milanos and ate an undisclosed number of cookies, then promptly found life to be undeniably worth celebrating.

So she stripped off her clothes and, with cookie in hand, threw her arms and face to the sky, running gleeful naked laps around the dining room table, laughing all the way.

May we all take a lesson from the little one and find the little things to be worth celebrating this weekend.


More thoughts:

  1. Speaking of little things worth celebrating, you can finally view photos from one of my favorite photo sessions last year.

Have you seen 'em?  Here's a tease and a link to more.  Which shot is your fav??  :)

RI lifestyle photographer_0372.jpg

RI lifestyle photographer_0372.jpg

2.  Speaking of little tasks that I'm having trouble time-managing, I would like to officially put it out to you and to the universe that I am looking for part-time assistance.  Are you enthusiastic, dependable, somewhat tech-savvy, and have access to a computer?

If this interests you, please get in touch!  No need to be local to RI.


Back to our daughter.

As high as her high was, the sugar crash hit her just as hard.

Later yesterday morning, she promptly screamed for--I am not kidding--45 minutes straight.


Detox is a b*tch, innit?

In one of my less lucid moments, I tried to talk sense into her, explaining the highs and lows that come along with a sugar rush.

A few minutes later, I channelled Jack Nicholson from "A Few Good Men."




3.  Speaking of Jack Nicholson, due to popular demand, we have added a second "Photography 101" class date, if you're interested.  

I've received many emails of gratitude after the first class, my favorite compliment being that it was "packed with ALL the information that had previously confused me about using my camera.  A ridiculous value!"

4.  Speaking of ridiculous value, in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that the Photography 101 class has nothing at all to do with Jack Nicholson.  I was just looking for a smooth transition a few sentences ago.

Mr Nicholson does not endorse the class, will not be in attendance, and, if you can believe it, doesn't even know who I am.  

Although, if this post does circle back to him, (sorta like when this post I wrote circled back to Oprah's peeps) I'm sure he'll enroll in the class, because I'm guessing HE CAN'T HANDLE HIS CAMERA.


Okay good.  I can see that today's post has been filled with non-random things that are not random.

Sounds to me like a little thing worth celebrating.  

Happy weekend, Light Catchers!

with love and light

with love and light


Something Good is Going to Happen Today.  (A Birthday Post.)


Something Good is Going to Happen Today. (A Birthday Post.)

Bethany O Photography_0356.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0356.jpg

Something good is going to happen today.

You're going to be going about your day, minding your own business, and a thought is going to cross your mind.

A quiet one.  One born from (and filled with) light.

It's going to tell you to do something for someone.  Hug them, maybe.  Or to stop thinking about your to-do list and just listen to what they are trying to tell you.

Maybe the someone the voice is prodding you to celebrate is yourself.

Maybe the whisper will tell you to skip on your way to your car in the parking lot.

And then it will be gone, that whisper.  It will be quickly vetoed by "reason:" that idea is "silly" or "weird" or "impractical."

You'll blow out that light like a candle on a birthday cake.

You've got things to do.  A plan for your day.  Your plans don't include skipping, hugging, or listening.

I know because I do it too.  On my way out of the UPS store this morning, I wanted to turn around and shout exuberantly to their nice staff, "HEY!!!  IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!"

I know my excitement would have made them smile.

But I didn't do it.  Because, you know:  weird.

But today, my friends.  As of today, January 7th, 2014, I have completed--I'm not even exaggerating--THIRTY THREE trips AROUND THE SUN.

I know!!  Wild, right??  What a long, strange, short and spectacular trip it has been.

Today I have one request.  One request to help me celebrate.  And I don't ask this lightly:  I request it with every fiber of my being.

Today, when that quiet little light-filled voice pops into your mind, could you please listen to it?  

If I knew that you did that in honor of my birthday, it would give me chills and teary eyes and it would be the very best birthday present ever in the history of forever times infinity.

Thank you, kind friend.

I love your light.

Happy My Birthday to you.



It Will Be Simple. And It Will Be Beautiful. (So Help Me God.)

I wrote this in June. As you surely noticed, December immediately followed June this year.  This post was one of the many items that fell to the wayside during that rare calendar event.

With the holidays upon us, it could not have resurfaced at a better time for me.


Bethany O Photography_0354.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0354.jpg

September is the time of year when I think it is a good idea to sign the children up for all the things.  I register for classes, seek festivals, set play dates, and generally fill our calendar until its seams pop.

That's one of the requisites for being a "good mom," right?

In our case, we attend music classes, soccer, dance classes and the like, not because I have grandiose ideas of my children becoming the next Chopin or Pele or Paula Abdul, but because I find it is generally best for everybody involved if this stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) does not, in fact, stay at home.

June, though.  Now is the time of year when I realize that we are so busy ALWAYS GOING SOMEWHERE that we never get to just BE.

Essentially, we human beings are too busy being human doings to actually do any BEING.

Am I being clear?

June is when I become convinced that I will only be able to wrestle the kids into their car seats 3-7 more times before, so help me God, I lose my ever-loving mind.

June is when I want to SIMPLIFY.  SIMPLICITY, I tell you!  It is the "good moms" who keep things simple, is it not?

So last Saturday, we cleared the calendar for one plan and one plan only.  We would turn on the sprinkler.  The children would run in the grass.  Husband and I would observe how beautifully the sunlight back-lit the water drops dancing through their laughter.  We would sit.  We would just BE.

And it would be beautiful.

The only detail to address was that we didn't have a sprinkler.  No biggie:  we live five minutes from Benny's (our local hardware-and-more store.)  We would go get a sprinkler.  We'd come home and plug it in.  They would laugh, we would sit.

Simple.  Beautiful.


Upon entering Benny's, we walked straight into the toy aisle, which is positioned directly in front of the entrance.  (Well played, Benny's.  Well played.)

During our frolic down aisle 1, our almost-two-year-old daughter placed roughly 27 items into our shopping cart.  Since I was replacing them as quickly as she picked them, the whole thing seemed cute and innocent enough.

Until it didn't.

When we reached the beach pails, said daughter turned around to survey her bounty, and the earth dropped out from beneath us.

"NO!!!!!!!!!!!!," she screamed from the depths of her.  "DAS MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE BOAT!!!  DAS MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE DOLLY!!!  DAS MIIIIIIIIIINE EAR-O-PLANE!!!!"

When she launched herself face-first upon the floor, I picked her up, just as Beverly Cleaver would do.

But Beverly Cleaver never taught us the proper hold for a screaming child who has perfected the art of the horizontal open-and-close jackknife body buck.  While I struggled to 1) keep her from falling and 2) play it cool for the growing number of on-lookers, my just-turned-four-year-old son announced that he needed to use the potty.

Husband was running another errand.

I can handle situations like this.  I am strong, and not easily jostled, or at least that's what I like to think.

But THIS DAY was supposed to be simple.  THIS was FUN AND SIMPLE AND BEAUTIFUL DAY, for crying out loud.  There are NO TANTRUMS on fun and simple and beautiful day, DOESN'T EVERYBODY KNOW THAT??

I abandoned our cart and diverted the childrens' attention to the automobile aisle, where there was a well-placed rack of colorful women's sundresses for only $6.  (I KNOW!  Can you believe it???  Only $6!)  The kids--easily distracted--embraced the cave-like qualities of the clothing rack, so I seized my chance to try on the sundresses over my outfit.

My sense of personal style can be described as nothing if not "opportunistic."

The third time the store manager came to our giggling-and-shaking clothing rack to ask if he could help with anything, I recognized that he did not understand how fabulously CONTAINED my children were in there.

That was also when I realized that the terribly ripe diaper smell wafting from the rack was becoming an embarrassment, even for me, the woman trying on sun dresses in the automobile section of Benny's.

(I'll have you know that it was our diapered daughter--not our potty-trained son--who was responsible for the smell.  [Hashtag thankful.])

So, being the model parent that I am, I took one child's hand in each of mine and set out to find my husband, who should have surely, so help him God, finished his previous errand and arrived at Benny's by now.

Which is when things took a turn for the worse.

In an effort to prove that young children truly do not have any impulse control whatsoever, my son released my hand, grabbed a styrofoam bat, swung the way his college-baseball-star-father taught him, and whacked a hunched elderly man in the back of the legs as we passed.

WHY.  IS.  SIMPLE.  SO.  VERY.  HARD???????????

Husband (thank-you-Jesus) materialized just then to whisk the baby off for a diaper change, and I retreated to the lawn chair section to put our son--and myself--in Time Out.

Simplicity waits for us in Time Out, you know.

That's where I saw things more clearly.

I saw that, when I had been trying to distract the baby from her tantrum, I blew raspberries into her neck.  Until the day I die, I want to always remember the way my nose squishes into the soft-but-firm folds of that baby's neck.  I want to always remember the sweetness of her high-and-low pitched laughter tickling my ear canal.

Because that is simple.  And it is oh-so-beautiful.

How relieved was I to see my husband when he appeared?  How proud was I when our shy boy looked that elderly man in the eye to sincerely apologize?  How high did I feel when my heart skipped that beat?

Those moments - the in betweenmoments - they're so simple.  So beautiful.

The [very] elderly man emptied the contents of his pockets into my son's hand, which, once the life savers were removed, totaled six coins amounting to 19 cents.

Get a load of this.  That elderly man then thanked me for "raising [my] kids the right way."  I'm willing to overlook the fact that clearly he was either senile or had me confused with someone else, because--well--19 cents is 19 cents, you know?

That man told us he was especially thankful that my son made him smile that day, because his granddaughter had had to cancel their lunch date that day, and he was feeling a little lonely.

Which brings a happy tear and a sad one to my eye.  Simple and beautiful ones.

The best moment of all was when another tantrum erupted in the parking lot on the way back to the car.  In an effort to keep our flailing children from getting hit by traffic, husband and I released our hold on the too-many-items we had just purchased, and they spilled onto the pavement.

What caused that tantrum?

Oh, our son had grabbed my hand.  And our daughter, in her daddy's arms, became irate.

"NO!!!!!!!!" she yelled.  "DAS MIIIIIIIIIIINE MOMMY!!!!!!!!!"

So simple.

And oh, so beautiful.


Sending all of my readers so much love and appreciation today, and wishing you all a very simple, very beautiful holiday season.

In case of emergency, remember:  simplicity waits for us in time out and hides in the in-between moments.  

With love and light, B 



I Did Not Get Punched in the Face. (Also: Some Thoughts on Beauty.)


I did not get punched in the face.

I found it helpful to start most of my conversations with that sentence last week, answering the question that was inevitably in the pucker of everybody's lips.

At first I thought I was saying this as a way of breaking the ice for people, but then I realized I was saying it for ME because what I REALLY wanted was to answer the question that I was AFRAID was on peoples' minds.

That question, of course, being, "Did you get a nose job?"

Listen.  I got 99 insecurities, but my nose ain't one.

By telling people that I did not get sucker-punched, it opened the floor for me to say that I had a chunk of (non-scary) cancer removed from my nose, which, in my mind, translates directly to, "no, I did not get a nose job."

I'm going somewhere important with this post but hang on tight because we're going to take the back-way there.

Owen was out of town on the day of my surgery, and when he got home, I had just returned from a day at the office and a whole lotta errands looking exactly like I did in the above photo.

"I'm proud of you, Honey," said he.  "I think a lot of women [he surely meant 'people'] would have done anything to avoid going out in public like that.  You are ballsy.  I love that about you."

I did not take this as the backhanded compliment that it appears to be in print.  I took it as a fabulous compliment.

I puffed my chest like a rooster.  He is right.  In the best way possible, I've got metaphorical cajones when I need 'em.

I have the potential to be extraordinarily brave.  And I love that about me.

But I wasn't being brave when I went out in public looking like that.  I ENJOYED going out in public like that.  I was not scared, so it was not brave.

Let's look at three relevant points:

Fact #1:  I care a lot about what people think of me…as a person.  I care TOO MUCH about what people think of me as a person.  It an unhealthy sign of insecurity (and also of an unruly amount of kindness and empathy) how much I concern myself with what people think of me as a person.

Fact #2:  At this point in my life (key words "this point"), I truly do not give a sh*t whether people think I look pretty.  

Fact #3:  Rereading fact #2 is distressing to me because I typed it mindlessly, and when people say they "don't give a sh*t" about something, they usually in fact give many sh*ts about that thing, which explains the strong language.


Let's figure this one out.  I haven't seen my therapist in a while, so I can think of no reason why I shouldn't hash this one out before a vast audience of peers and strangers, can you?

Let's begin, then.

The reason I was under the impression that #2 was a fact was because I enjoyed going out in public like that.  I enjoyed it for the same reason I sometimes enjoy dressing sloppily in public.  It's a good filtering process, you know?  Helps to remove anybody from my life who might think that my worth (or any person's worth) has anything to do with whether or not I or they dress pretty, for crying out loud.

It feels like a gentle way of flipping the birdy to the Judgy McShallowtons of the world.

Which is why I was under the impression that I don't care what people think of my appearance.

But if the opposite of love is not hate but indifference, then the opposite of vanity is not using sloppiness as a middle finger to the world.

The opposite of vanity might be indifference.  But more likely, the opposite of vanity is LOVING the McShallowtons and McChauvinists, who suffer because they can't see truth.

But definitely, the opposite of vanity is self-love.

nose2 copy.jpg
nose2 copy.jpg

I'm rolling my eyes at my own epiphany over here.  [For the love of all things holy, someone tell me--PLEASE--that we have not landed on the self-love card again!!]  After all the time and money and vulnerability I have invested in trying to learn self-love, how is it not yet instinctual for me to be loving towards me?  Why is there still anger there??

I guess I know where that subconscious passion about this topic--that quiet desire to flip off the world--comes from.

Some of it comes from knowing that for many years, my happiness in a given day had a lot to do with how much my thighs rubbed together that day, how voluminous my hair looked, or how many compliments I did or did not receive that day.

I'm angry that I gave my power away like that.

But this isn't about the past, is it?

I STILL give away my power.  I give it away every time I value someone else's opinion of me more than I value my OWN opinion of me.  I give it away whenever I concern myself with other peoples' perception of my business, my photos, my written words, my parenting, my decisions.

That's where the anger comes from.

It's not the WORLD I want to stick it to.  It's the critic inside of me that I want to flip off.

That's why I enjoyed walking around in public looking like I just stepped out of a boxing ring last week.

It was liberating.  And it made me look tougher than I felt.

I sat down to write a much different post than this today.  But when I let the words flow, I write--not what I plan to write--but what I need to write.

I think we all are maybe a little too concerned with how we are publicly perceived.  I think the success of social media is pretty much spawned by this fear.

When my kids grow up and inevitably become concerned with their appearance, I want them to know what I believe.  I believe that self-love and letting ourselves shine is the ONLY thing that will determine our "beauty."

I want my children to know that when they let themselves shine, NOTHING can stop them from being magnetically radiant…not even a punch in the nose.

I want you to know that, too.

And me.

With love and light.jpg
With love and light.jpg



Not Only Silly. Also Wrong.

Bethany O Photography_0104.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0104.jpg

"When am I going to see more of your PHOTOS?" my sister asked.  "You post a teaser to Facebook once in a while.  You make me want more.  And then...nothing."

"Aye aye aye," said I.  "I don't know how to handle this.  I want to post recent photo sessions to my blog, but many of my blog subscribers found me because they like my writing, not necessarily because they like my photos.  I don't want to inundate them with photography if they came to me for joyology.  I don't want to annoy people."

"That is not only silly," said she.  "It is also wrong."

I like her style.  And her opinion.

Segueing to my point-du-jour:  I am about to post a bunch of photography-related posts.  But I won't send them to you as seven separate emails; I will send them in one giant, conglomerative email.  Because I don't want to inundate you.

And apparently because I'm still learning to let myself shine.

If you signed up to receive my emails because you are primarily interested in my Joyology thoughts, fret not, mon ami.  I'll be back with more of those toute suite.  In fact, I've got a great one up my sleeve.

Love and light to ya, homefries.





This Might Answer a Few Questions About Me


For wordy-and-therefore-unlisted reasons, blogging is important to me.  For business and other reasons, so is my Facebook presence.

But I've been rather quiet around the interwebs, haven't I?

"What's up with all the crickets?" you might ask, if referring to silence as "crickets" is what you do.

I'm noticing that I tend to go radio-silent on the internets for one of too reasons.  Either:

A)  I simply *can't* blog because I am overwhelmed by our busy lifestyle and things that are important to me are being dropped while I'm desperately trying to "JUGGLE ALL THE BALLS!!", or

B)  I *choose* not to blog because I am enjoying our busy lifestyle, we are in the *flow,* and I'm letting balls fall so that I can focus on other balls that are even more important to me.

The difference between "dropping" and "letting go" is gargantuan, is it not?  

I'll answer that for you:  It IS.  I say so as one who is a master of the former and a student of the latter.

I'm happy to report that the most recent Silence de Radio up in here has been due to Reason Number 'B.'  I feel I owe you this explanation after writing "Got to Get Down to Get up" a few weeks ago, in case you're worried that I'm still flailing for air in the deep-end.

All is great here.  I have fully breeched.  We have made big, overdue, wonderful and necessary changes around here.  And the changes are good.

After returning from a long weekend in Topanga Canyon with my Love (see photo, above), I wanted to check in here to send some love to you (yes I mean YOU, lovely reader and spreader of light who shows up to read these words!), but I don't have much prepared as far as thoughts go today.

But wait:  I do!

A few weeks ago, Ursula Wayne of The Poppy Preppy Revolution interviewed me for her own blog.  I love Ursula's questions and can't help but wonder whether some of my other readers may be wondering the same things.

So I'm sharing my answer to her first question here and am also listing her other questions.  If you want to read more of my responses, click through to her blog!

I hope your Day of Labor was not laborious at all.  Sending you light and love and appreciation, as always.

xox, B


Here's my answer to her first question...


1. Tell me a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up? What did you study?   How did you find yourself?

I'll skim though the boring-ish details (Rhode Island-raised, Boston College, Communications major became pharmaceutical sales rep, yadda, yadda) to get to the meat and potatoes of your question.

Here's what I see as a relevant part of my background:  For as long as I can remember, I have been "overachieving" on the outside while struggling to find happiness on the inside.  That sounds deep for a half of a second until you realize it's the M.O. of every single over-achiever in the history of ever.

How did I find my calling?  Great question.  Through listening to my body when I was doing the things that weren't true to me, I suppose.

In pharmaceutical sales, it felt like a piece of my soul was dying.  Incredible job perks and respect from people who applauded my "accomplishments" were the golden handcuffs that kept me there.

But the longer I ignored my gut, the more I had physical symptoms:  I kept peanut butter in my car because on most days, that was all my stomach could tolerate.  And I felt dirty.  Not because the job itself was inherently "dirty" (one of my very favorite people in the darn world is a pharma rep) but because it was not the job that allowed MY soul to thrive.

I left pharmaceuticals to start a document management business, which was one of the scariest and bravest things I've ever done and seemed like the right direction until I realized I was always hoping people wouldn't ask me about it.

I'm no career advisor, but that might be a good sign you're in the wrong career, right?

At the time I came to that realization, my son was an infant and I had always "known" that being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) was my "primary life goal" and that it would be "all I would need" to feel fulfilled.  We were in a position where we could make it work, so I went that direction.

I must interrupt this story to say that it's HARD to change directions, Ursula.  It is one one of the scariest of all Scary-Assed Routes.  And it's embarrassing:  will people take me seriously anymore?  Will 


 take me seriously?

But if we ignore our intuition or try to pretend that something is right for us when in fact it is only right for someone else, the physical consequences get worse.  It's dangerous to our health, to our relationships and to our only chance at living our life's PURPOSE, ignoring our intuition is.

Recently, I got whacked upside the head with intuition again.  My "Joyology" and Photography work began as a side-project…a small business that could serve as an outlet for me as a SAHM.  As the business responsibilities have grown, I have not been honest with myself about how hard--no, impossible--it is to run a business AND stay at home with the kids.

I especially haven't been honest with myself about WANTING to work outside the home, because I was petrified that would mean bad things about me as a mom, which is another post for another day.

But by trying to do both, I have been doing neither the way I want to do them.  And so began my downward spiral into a recent month-long depression.

Like I said, intuition will do what it must in order to be heard.  For brevity's sake, I'll skip through the details of that spiral, but I will say that 

the great thing about hitting a low is that it gives you a place to plant your feet

.  It forces you to reevaluate.  It forces you to be honest with yourself.

So now I'm in the process of creating the structure so that I can work during the day and be present for my family in the evenings.  I am shifting again, and for the first time, I am making the shift ENTIRELY on what my intuition is telling me is right for me and my family, not based on what I think society or the people around me would say I "should" be doing.

It feels so, SO good.

I guess you could say that I've been able to find my "calling" because I've found myself.  I have been working with a therapist (for 16 years loosely, 4 years intensely) and I know now that you won't get anywhere in therapy unless you will talk about the things you don't want to talk about.  To find yourself, you need self-love.  To find self-love, you must first find self-acceptance.  To find self-acceptance, you must be willing to shine light on the things that you wish were not a part of yourself.

I guess you could say that I found myself through being willing to honestly assess and make changes.  And that I continue to find myself!  :)


Here are Ursula's other Questions.  

If you're interested, click through to the Poppy Preppy Revolution to read more from this interview!

2. Your photos and your approach to photography is so soulful.  Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer?

3. How did you find your niche?

4. Who has influenced you on your road thus far?

5. Your pictures are so happy. What makes you happy? How elicit such genuinely happy smiles from your clients?

6.  Who do you consider to be your peers? What blogs/sites do you read on a regular basis?

7. Your honesty is so refreshing. Have you always been so straightforward?

8. What makes you laugh?

9. What does the online inspirational community need more of?

10. What's the best advice you could give for someone just starting out to find their "peeps"? (Not the candy.)



Aint No Shame in That Game:  A Truthful Chat with Jacob Sokol, Sensophy Life Coach


Aint No Shame in That Game: A Truthful Chat with Jacob Sokol, Sensophy Life Coach


Do you want the long of it or do you want the short of it?

First, here's the short of it, for all ye blog-skimmers out there:

Today's podcast might be one of my favorites by anyone ever.  (I say this while dancing in a cloak of modesty, of course.)

I kick off the call by listing a few of the many ways my dear friend Jacob inspires me, so I will spare you the redundancy of listing those again here.

Let me tell you, instead, about the call itself.

You’ll see I elected not to remove the parts I was tempted to cut:  apparently when you preach about authenticity, you’re not allowed to polish your podcasts.  Go figure.

Here's the thing I am most proud of both from Jacob and from myself on this call:  while we are *talking* about the concepts of vulnerability, courage and authenticity, we are also *walking* those very same concepts at the very same time.  We are shedding light on subjects that have once brought *us* shame.

We are letting ourselves shine.

If I had wanted to lead you to believe that it was easy for me to discuss those vulnerable topics, my mildly-quavering voice would have belied my efforts.

But it's not my intention to portray vulnerability as something that is easy.  It's only my intention to portray vulnerability as something that is worthwhile.

Now here's the longer of it, for all ye who enjoy a lil' background before delving into a podcast:

If you are not familiar with Jacob Sokol or his website, Sensophy, his story "behind the glory" is a great place to begin.

Jacob and I first met about a year ago when he was assigned to be my trainer for some work we were both doing with the en*theos Academy for Optimal Living.  In my first few hours of knowing Jacob, we found ourselves on a three-way phone call between the two of us and Mastin Kipp (creator of The Daily Love.)

During that conversation, Mastin ran a quick "Love University" intervention on me--which was an incredibly rare opportunity, if you know anything about Mastin.  For better or for worse, I do nothing half-heartedly (especially interventions), so when Mastin asked me a very pointed question, I sobbed and uncovered that one of my core fears is that "PEOPLE WILL THINK I'M AN A**HOLE."  (Please:  when you picture me saying that to those two men, picture the type of crying where your words sound wet because of all of the liquids that are spewing from your eyes and your nose.)

I like to keep it classy.

A reader recently asked me how people who are new to the self-dev community can go about finding their "peeps."  When she asked me this, I immediately thought of the incident now known as  the "I Might Be an A**hole" (IMBA) Conversation of 2012 (for lack of a better term.)

The blubbering and vulnerable revelation in front of two men I barely knew was…well, it was a little embarrassing at the time.  And awkward.

It was awkward for *me.*  It did not appear to be awkward for them.  

In fact, that's exactly when my friendship with Jacob was born.  When Mastin had to sign off the call, Jacob held space for me.  I tried to make a joke to dismiss the awkwardness but Jacob didn't take the bait to move away from the uncomfortable moment.  He just held space.  I felt no judgement from him; only kinship.

To answer my reader's question about peeps-finding:  when I allow myself to be seen and I feel no discomfort from the other person, this is when I know I have found one of my peeps.

HERE'S THE IRONY, THOUGH:  if I had gone into that conversation *wanting* Jacob to be my "peep," I can almost guarantee you that a friendship would not have been born that day.  If I had known who he was at that time, I probably would have wanted to be his buddy, which would have made me more guarded and less authentic on the call.

Which wouldn't have given him the chance to hold space for me.  Which wouldn't have given me the opportunity to feel kinship from him.

Both I and Alanis Morisette want to know:  Isn't that ironic?  Isn't it ironic that when we *want* someone to be our friend, we don't show them who we are?  

So I think we've landed upon something big here, as far as peeps-finding goes.

Ever since that IMBA call, Jacob and I have scheduled periodic check-ins to nudge each other along in our personal and business journeys.  Our stories have similar themes but different scenes and characters, making us sort of like spiritual siblings, in a way.

Or, maybe, if we *all* had *true* conversations with more people more often, we'd find that we're *all* spiritual sistahs and brothahs from othah mothahs.

If we all spoke the truth more often, maybe we'd remember that we're *all* in this together.

On that note, I'm so excited and thankful to introduce YOU--my peeps--to my treasured friend Jacob and to his peeps.  I guarantee he will inspire you.

Light-Catchers:  meet Sensophizers!  Sensophizers:  WELCOME!!!

Stay tuned after Jacob and I sign off the call - I'll pop back on the mic with a quick summary of some of my favorite big ideas from the conversation!

Jacob:  THANK YOU!!  :)


Here's the podcast!


SO:  will this call help to move you forward, or is it spiritual entertainment at best?

Tell me one helpful idea you're taking from the conversation!

 Don't forget to sign up for Jacob's email updates and also for mine!

Shine on, sistahs and brothahs!  :)



Got to Get down to Get up: Things I Don't Want You to Know

Breaching is my favorite part of diving. As a kid in my family's pool, I loved the diving board but rarely chose the surface-skimming technique of speed swimmers.

Shallow dives are just so damn boring: that's all.

Instead, I'd catapult myself to the highest possible altitude, jackknife my body to touch my toes, flick my pointed legs skyward so I could enter the water at a 90 degree angle, and bee-line through eight feet of water to the pool's bottom.


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Please Know This about the Pursuit of Happiness.


Ironically, there is a faint undertone of anger in today's post which is neither intentional nor desired by me, but I'm feeling a bit pissy and vinegary today, so removing those undertones would be disingenuous, if not impossible.

Authenticity holds the trump card on this blog, so the undertones will stay, even though I would prefer to wait until I can purify them back to the love that fuels them.

On that note, we begin.


What has been the cost, do you think, of our freedom to pursue happiness?

Obviously America's birthday brought this question to mind this week, but for the sake of my international readers (and mostly for the sake of accuracy), let's not only count the lives, limbs and blood lost by Americans in defense of our inalienable rights.

And let's not only count the tears shed by those who have grieved or feared for those American Patriots.

Instead, let's count blood, tears, lives, sweat, energy, opportunities, money, relationships and limbs sacrificed throughout the globe, and from the beginning of time.  

How much have previous generations forfeited so that their descendants (that's YOU and ME and US, Homefries) could be in a better position to PURSUE HAPPINESS?

I don't ask this question hypothetically but I'll leave it unanswered as if it were hypothetical because the answer could never be measured with an iota of accuracy.

The cost has been immense.

And now for the inevitable follow-up question:  heyyyyyyyyyyyyy ARE YOU HAPPY?

I don't mean the Run-from-Your-Problems, Get-Drunk-on-a-Beach type of happiness:  I'm asking whether you experience the real, fulfilled, soulful kind of happiness.

The kind of happiness you need to PURSUE.

They put that word in the Declaration of Independence for a reason, you know.

[As noted in Marci Shimoff's book Happy for No Reason (which I haven't read but know about through Brian Johnson), the word "pursuit," when the Declaration was written, didn't mean that you CHASED after something, but that you PRACTICED it.]


Are you PRACTICING happiness the best you know how?  Or is there something you know in your gut would make you happy, but you are not doing it either because you don't feel like it or more likely because you are afraid?

You needn't answer that.  I know.  We're a lot alike.

The good news is that the path to rectifying this situation is simple, really.  You already know the next step to take.

Just take one tiny, baby step.

And then another.

The reason this simple equation gets so royally f'd up is also simple:  fear.  It's fear that derails us into wasting time surfing Facebook or whatever is our Avoidance Tactic Du Jour.

Here are a few of the many fears that have stood between me and my happiest self, either in the past or today or both:

  • Fear that seeking help is an admittance of weakness.
  • Fear that if I don't accomplish enough, then I am not enough.
  • Fear of being vulnerable to anyone including the man who pledged his life to me.  Fear of relying on him.
  • Fear of leaving a lucrative job that sucked my soul for the question mark inherent to self-employment.
  • Fear that even if I have that difficult conversation, nothing will change.
  • Fear of public embarrassment if I were to put my dreams "out there" and fail.
  • Fear that the people who have disliked me (or merely didn't desire to be my best friend) have been "right" about me.
  • Fear that my true, unmasked feelings in some situations mean I'm an asshole.
  • Fear of exposing this list (or anything that feels personal):  could it be used against me?

You get it:  happiness is scary.

But what of my maternal grandfather?  He left all he owned and loved in his war-torn home of french Algeria to board a crowded boat to America so that his future family could enjoy the freedoms of this sweet, sweet land of Liberté.

What of him?

What would he say if I told him, "Thanks for all you left behind for my freedom, Pepere.  I know that going to bed at a reasonable hour makes a huge difference in both my overall happiness and in how I show up as a person in this world, but when midnight rolls around, I still really just don't feel like it."

What would he would say to that?

And what of my paternal grandfather?  As a young man in the marines, he dodged bullets and climbed through piles of dead bodies to rescue wounded soldiers from the island of Iwo Jima in one of the bloodiest battles in American history.

Like so many soldiers throughout history, he put his life on the line so that all Americans could enjoy the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What would HE say if I told him, "well, Gramps, I do know that an important part of me will die if I don't pursue the dreams in my heart, but I'm just too scared to pursue them because what if I FAIL?  People might LAUGH."

What the F do you think he would say to THAT?

It doesn't matter if you know specifically what your foreparents have sacrificed in hopes that your life will be happier than theirs.  Every soldier who has ever bled out on a battlefield in the name of freedom has skin in the game of your happiness.

As Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address, "It is for us the be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. […]  From these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."

In regards to what YOU are currently doing to pursue happiness, do you think the millions who died to defend your right to pursue it would feel that they died in vain?

Just wondering.

In a lot of ways, war looks different today than it did when my grandfather (and many others) scurried onto the beach at Iwo Jima.  In a lot of ways, patriotism does, too.

I don't think our generation knows what it means to be patriotic today.  We haven't been told.

Does it mean we are patriots if we wave flags at parades on the fourth of July?  Are we patriotic if we can point out that a singer botched up the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner? What if we express hatred towards terrorists or use an image of the flag as our profile picture on National Holidays?

Does that count as patriotism?

I do not pose those questions facetiously:  I think most of us really don't know.

Here's what I propose as one means of modern-day patriotism:

Be Patriotic - Pursue Happiness.jpg
Be Patriotic - Pursue Happiness.jpg

The pursuit of happiness is not only our inalienable right but also our moral obligation and our patriotic duty. 

We owe it to the people who have sacrificed before us, to the people who love us now, and to every person (living or future) whose life we can possibly impact to PURSUE HAPPINESS.

Think of happiness like a tide:  when one boat rises, we all rise.

I know it is scary to take those small steps towards soul-fulfililng happiness.

They scare me too.

Fortunately this is not only the land of the free but also the home of the brave.  Courage runs thick in our blood.

And those who have sacrificed before us shall not have sacrificed in vain.


Happy birthday, America.

What's the small step you can take today in pursuit of happiness?

Hint:  you've probably already promised yourself you would do it.


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Food for Thought: A Strange Coincidence from Last Week

When "coincidences" happen, I pay attention.

Say that I'm a few marbles short of a full bag if you must--I know this theory cannot be scientifically proven--but I believe that synchronicity is meant to draw our attention towards something important.

It's meant to lead us in an important direction, or at least to make us aware of something we need to learn.

Which brings me to my story from last week.

I think you know how much I love photography.  As a whole, the art makes my soul sing to the tune of a hand-clapping chorus of angels.  When I capture a glimpse of a person's soul with my camera--their ESSENCE--it feels like I am experiencing God.

It's a spiritual experience.

And then there's the back-end of photography:  the editing of the RAW files and other tasks that go along with the business.  Dorothy Parker, a 20th century American poet, once said, "I hate writing; I love having written."  Glennon Melton famously drew a parallel between that quote and the challenges of parenting.

That's how I feel about editing.  For me, the editing process hits the Gouge-Your-Own-Eyes-with-a-Spoon tier of the Mundaneness Meter.

But I DO love having edited.  And I most certainly love having photographed.

Not to worry:  I've devised a helpful practice to keep me out of my utensil drawer while editing.  To keep myself from even THINKING about spoons, I merely distract my brain.  First, I listen to something that feeds my inner Joyologist…anything from the en*theos Academy for Optimal Living will do.

Then, when wisdom begins dripping out my ears from over-saturation, I make the jump to something funny, such as the Brian Regan station on Pandora.

Funniness is like a defibrillator for a depleted brain.

Important aside:  Have you ever heard of the comedian Brian Regan?  He is a very, very funny man.

Last week, I had a lot of editing to do.  I kicked things off with the Philosopher's Note on "The Power of Full Engagement."  In the note, Brian Johnson (not comedian Brian but philosopher Brian - the guy I interviewed a few weeks ago) quoted this paragraph from that book:


The idea of mental "junk food" caught my attention.  I don't watch a lot of TV, but I wondered, "Self:  if you are what you eat, what is YOUR mental junk food?"

At that moment, I was nursing a Social Comparison Hangover, which happens almost every time I check Facebook.  I'm not sure whether I love Facebook or whether I hate it.  In fact, if you ask me the status of my relationship with Facebook, I'll tell you:  it's complicated.

Given that I was actively nursing a Facebook-induced Social Comparison Hangover when I posed myself the question about mental junk food, it's probably not shocking that a voice in my head immediately answered, "Facebook.  Facebook is your junk food.  It doesn't make you feel good.  Facebook is like McDonald's for your soul."

I half-smiled.  I find myself amusing at times.

At that point I was tired of thinking so I switched to my favorite comedy station on Pandora, since I still had a lot of editing in front of me.

Here's where it DID get shocking.

Within less than five minutes, I heard the following very funny skit by Jim Gaffigan.  (The whole thing is funny but if you're in a hurry, skip to the 5:40 mark to see the coincidence):

Ummm…that's…WEIRD, right?  That is a weird coincidence, if you do say so yourself, yes?

To me, it was so freakishly weird that it gave me chills.  I stopped what I was doing:  there was something here that I needed to chew on.

And I have.  I've been chewing it and chewing it.

Before I delve into all the reasons I think this coincidence popped up in my life at that moment, I must remind myself that no one likes long blog posts and that I AM bunting, after all.  No need to be so thorough.

But maybe this "coincidence" happened to me, not only for what I needed to learn in my own life, but because I'm also meant to share it with you today.

Maybe you need to consider this concept, too.

Maybe you're not one to go to McDonalds or indulge in lots of television or even Facebook, but what else do you do that you know is not good for you?

Something likely immediately came to mind as you read that question:  A recurring thought you need to let go of?  An unhealthy relationship that is depleting you?  An indulgent habit like staying up late?

Hey:  that's still McDonald's.  It's just served up a little different.

It's McDonald's of the soul.


What's YOUR McDonald's?

I love to hear from you!  :) 


Please like image for bottom of posts
Please like image for bottom of posts