Spirituality on a Surfboard: Overcoming the Waves of Fear!

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By Diane Danvers Simmons. Published in Wellness.com 2016

“Never say Never” is one of life’s truths I’ve come to relish. I’m proud to share that on a recent adventure I plucked up the courage to learn to surf with four fellow surfing virgins. Forget “the 40 year old virgin”, we were all “the 45 plus virgins”, willing and able to happily admit temporary insanity and conquer some major fears on the shores of Todos Santos!

Even though I’m pretty fit and able, I wasn’t feeling that bold or a 100% willing. I was terrified surveying the crashing waves, as I recollected the time I was tumbled and smashed on the ocean floor …but that’s another story. I had fought my way into the confines of an ill-fitted wetsuit without putting my back out, so, at least I needed to honor that feat and listen to the instructors spanglish.

Fear is like a rip tide pulling us further and further away from all of life’s miracles. The key is to welcome it, own it, and give oneself permission to feel the emotions that surface. I’m not recommending being reckless, but I am sharing how we can dive in and ride the waves of fear back to vibrancy.

FEELS A LOT LIKE  YOGA ON A BOARD TO ME!

FEELS A LOT LIKE YOGA ON A BOARD TO ME!

Loosen up and see the humor in life. We’d already completed our daily practice of yoga, which on one hand meant we were already in the zone, but on the other hand the thought of doing yoga on a surf board was a little daunting…This is the moment I questioned my sanity, but felt comforted by the bond I shared with my fellow angels. Endless humor alleviated much of anxiety that had taken residence in my mind, as we shamelessly practiced our surfing skills on the sand.

Don’t face the fear alone. I thought I was ready but alas, rational fear crept into my mind! After a few fearless strides, I did a 180-degree turn and began to peel off my wetsuit, much to my instructors (Julio) horror. His reaction was instantaneous, kind, but persistent and encouraging. Julio didn’t make me feel stupid and most importantly he didn’t let me give into my fear of being pummeled on the ocean bed. Instead he promised to stay close and guide me, with sister surfer angles cheering me on. Knowing I wasn’t alone or judged got me back on board … literally!

Let go by connecting to your inner child. The excitement and curiosity of youth was building inside, as I paddled out on my board into the unknown. I felt like a child being pushed high into the air on an endless swing, with the nose of the board rising high, crashing over the breaking waves. Soaked in the infinite joy, presence and wonder of childhood play, I let go of the fear as my spirit soared and I lost myself in the thrill of the spill.

Self- trust, being present in the moment. “Stay near Julio!!” OMG here I go again, upward dog…lunge… warrior pose with arms spread eagle …’‘ALLALUJA, I’m up and alive, being carried by the energy of the waves… You can go now Julio!”

I wasn’t walking on water yet, but I was part of it. Time stood still, as I connected to the rhythm of nature in tune with all of my natural instincts. I trusted the strength and wisdom of my own body in the ever-changing moment. I went back out time and again, knowing each time would be different. I felt exhilarated and energized as the waves washed away the stresses of everyday life and the feeling of limitless possibilities replaced them.IMG_3233

The benefits of activities that reignite personal awareness. Whether it’s surfing or any other physical activity engaging in something out of your comfort zone, it reignites our own personal awareness. It expands our consciousness giving us renewed validation of what we can accomplish when we choose to live in the moment, understand our fear and use it as a tool to experience growth.

I’ll finish by saying this, “By changing my perspective, I now understand why surfers become addicted to the spirit of the surf. It’s truly a spiritual experience to feel at one with Mother Nature, connected to the energy and power of the waves and wind, to feel part of something much bigger than you.”

Only one person can stop you and that’s you! Make the choice to welcome your fear home, embrace it, and then let it go so you can LIVE each day as an adventure.

Now go out, have an adventure and embrace your inner child!

Diane xo

 

 

 

Spirituality & Style: The Foundation for Confidence

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by Diane Danvers Simmons, 

Published on HuffingtonPost.com & GalTime.com July 2016.

Give a girl a pair of shoes and she can conquer the world.  Marilyn Monroe

Spirituality in Stilettos  celebrates a women’s spiritual bliss grounded in her own Truth and style !

 Maybe Style isn’t the first word that comes to mind when talking about spirituality, but the secret is that the two are not mutually exclusive; actually together they are a harmonious powerful duo. After all Spirituality is just a big word for the truth and joy of whom we are.

Embracing our spiritual bliss doesn’t mean we have to give up everything we love about style and fashion. In essence, style is the infinite expression of our creativity, our own unique way we present ourselves to the world. The truth we often forget is, style and spirituality have been intertwined since the beginning of time. They are a distinct hallmark of ceremonies, traditions and cultural expression.

Liberate yourself and honor your own Spiritual Style by embracing the following:

Own it – Spirituality and Style is the outward expression of our inner self.

Style gives people a perspective of who we are through our actions and appearance, our reflection for the world to view, an expression of our creative flair. Style gives us the chance to be curious and explore what suits not just our body and situation but our life and all the options open to us.

Think about it for a moment. When we go into a meeting or out on a date, we take time to think about how we want to present ourselves to the world. WHY, because to often we only get one chance at a first impression and we want to ensure it’s a good one. Our outward demeanor is an indicator of our inward expression. It’s not the totality of who we are, but it does give others a clue as to who we are.

Feel it– Spiritual style exudes Confidence:

Each of our unique qualities and style, so take ownership and pride in them and show them to the world. Style is the gauge and companion of our every mood and action. A chosen Style makes a statement without even having to open our mouth. It says I’m comfortable in my skin and with my choices. I know what and how I feel right now.

I’m willing to own my choices, tap into my heart and share who I am and what I have to offer the world…even if it’s not your taste.

It’s the dress that makes us feel beautiful with a pair of stilettos that scream I’m ready to conquer the world. Our favorite pair of jeans and big comfy sweater that says I’m relaxed in my own skin.

Live it -Don’t let a label define you!

Ask yourself, could the label on the garment or the shoe be your name …NO, unless you’re lucky enough to be Donna Karan or Diane Von Furstenberg! A label does not define us, it is not the be and end all of our existence. We give the label life and validity by how you wear it. When you find a designer, a style that highlights all your gorgeous qualities and makes you feel fabulous …then you have style and spirituality working in harmony, it Your label. Stop comparing yourself to another, value and take pride in your own style and truth and trust that others will see and accept you for you, not a label.

Style has a language of it’s own that goes beyond geographical borders

Style has a language that goes beyond the constraints of the spoken word. Style acknowledges and respects diversity and individuality.

Spirituality doesn’t have a dress code. It offers us a free pass to pay attention to the details in our life, to have fun with your own creativity and express yourself the way you want and feel for the occasion. Remember you can’t please all of the people all the time, so please yourself!

Ultimately, it’s the fire in your eyes, smile on your face, a positive attitude and the energy in your stride that are the best foundation for any outfit and attitude shows the world you’re willing and ready to….Strut down the runway of life dressed in your own truth and style and live life by your own definition.

Diane Danvers-Simmons is a passionate, visionary global citizen who offers solutions to inspire women to embrace their core values and live life by their own definition with wit & wisdom. Through inspired Spirituality in Stilettos programming, uplifting Made by Survivors jewelry, impactful documentaries, and speaking engagements, Diane creates experiences and brands to raise awareness, uplift souls, inspire action, empower and connect people from all walks of life on one universal journey for a brighter, more enlightened future. For more information visit www.ownitfeelitliveit.com.http://i0.wp.com/galtime.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Diane-headshot.png

The Impact of Women’s Foundations Coast to Coast.

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Women’s Foundations are catalyst’s for change and social change is certainly not for the faint of Heart. However, give a woman a voice and a choice and she’ll always rise up to the job at hand with the strongest of hearts.

This is the renewed conviction and sense of purpose I felt when I walked out of the “Women’s Fund Convening 2016″ in San Luis Obispo, Thursday July 14th.

Like minded women from Women’s Fund organizations up and down the Central Coast of California came together to connect missions, share ideas, and develop actionable solutions, to advance gender equity and economic, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing for all women.

Thank you to activist Tracy Gary for sharing her wisdom, educating us and facilitating our discussions for positive change.

It might start with a village, but in truth, it will take tribes of fearless women of every creed, race and age to  step up with compassion and commitment to develop, fund and implement sustainable solutions.

The good news is that women are already making a difference everyday in the USA through organizations such as The Women’s Foundation.  Only through collaboration and support can we continue to build a better world where not only women, but whole communities can thrive.

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Women’s Fundraising lunch Monterey County ”Building awareness in our communities”

As Bertie Elliot said in a recent interview we filmed with her…

“I ask each of you to look into your own hearts and ask …how can I help?

Thanks to members of the Women’s Fund of: Santa Barbara, Monterey, Northern Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Kern county and Ojai.

Own your choice to make a difference and feel the difference it makes not only in another life, but in yours too. Diane xo

Spirituality in Stilettos at the Sunset Cultural Center Carmel

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FullSizeRender-3Special thanks to the Sunset Cultural Center, Carmel, for inviting me to  be a keynote speaker as part of the Healing Arts Series. The series mission is to foster community vitality through education and enrichment programs such as, Spirituality in Stilettos – Own it Feel it Live it (OFL), for better wellness in our everyday lives.

Heartfelt thanks, to over 65 people who filled the room ready to open their minds, and hearts to connect, and support each other as they listened to the value of paying attention to the details of their lives through three simple steps, OFL, to reconnect, rebalance and reignite mind, body, and spirit. It was so rewarding and inspirational to watch people be open to new ways of thinking, go within, embrace the philosophy of mind, body, spirit unity, laugh, cry and  to share their experiences as the evening unfolded with the entire group.

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Forums such as these reinforce my belief in the importance and power of human connection, to self, each other and the difference we can make when we come together to support each other in  personal growth and empowerment. My hope is to help people expand with love, trust, and compassion, rather than be held hostage by fear.

Genuine Connection and Community is key to our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of mankind!!

Immense gratitude to my friends and family who continue to push and support me on my journey with SIS/ OFL…you know who you are and I love you !!

FullSizeRender-2OWN IT, FEEL IT, LIVE IT, with WIT &WISDOM !

 

Spiritual Shuffle in the Sand, Owning it!

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Boxing Our Way Out of Life’s Boxes.

As the poetic champion, Muhammad Ali would say “float like a butterfly sting like a bee”…I’m not sure if he would  describe us in such eloquent fashion, but we certainly gave it a try.

“We can’t be brave without fear” Muhammad Ali.

I’ve never understood the benefits of boxing until my recent trip to Todos Santos. Admittedly, I was on a gorgeous beach surrounded by my fellow Angels wearing our latest accessory, an enormous pair of bright blue padded boxing gloves. Our first lesson in boxing was with non other than Ramiro Reducindo Radilla, the 2003 Pan American gold medalist. Only the best for the Angels- thank you Erica!

Eva’s right hook!

I  don’t think any of us knew what to expect, after all, isn’t boxing about throwing punches to weaken and knockout  your opponent ? The furthest thing from loving kindness and spiritual bliss.However, I have to admit, we did leave on a powerful, spiritual high!

Ramiro, the boxer,wasn’t just my opponent, instead, he became my teacher disguised as well padded punch bag with a cheeky grin! I learned that boxing is much more than a cardio work out of skill, strength, speed, reflexes and endurance …which sounds pretty amazing in of itself. Boxing in a strange way is literally, “Own it, Feel it, Live it “on steroids. It’s a true challenge , combining the ultimate of mind, body and spirit awareness and participation.

With arms flexed at a 45 degree angle, I practiced the four basic punches in boxing; the jab, cross hook and upper cut. Leading with my left hand, instead of my pre wired right hand, I shuffled ( just like Ali in my own mind) the one-two-combo  … This isn’t just exercise for the body, people, it’s exercise for the mind.

One, two combo shuffle!

As you can see from the picture Ramiro is a giant compared to me, but that made the challenge even more enticing, as we danced and  sparred  to the beat of one, two, three. The more I leaned into the punch, the more he back away, and then more I advanced again. I felt agile, powerful, and strong.I was in the moment, at one with myself and my opponent as the onlookers dissipated into the sand.

The Angels and I were literally bouncing Pogo sticks, fueled by an adrenalin high that made each of us feel invincible, evident by the smiles on our faces. Our  boxing experience was unbelievably empowering and symbolic in many ways.We Owned it, by stepping out of our boxes and I do believe we strenghened our wings that day, toward becoming Guardian Angels….

Boxing is mind, body, spirit unity in action, so get ready for some spiritual shuffling in my workshops!

International Women’s Day 2015 – Make it Happen!

Own it, Feel it, Live it !

Today around the World we recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day!

The theme for all women in 2015 is simple #MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Take the time to think about what you truly want, so you can Make it happen,in your own life and those of others by encouraging effective, positive action, for advancing and recognizing all  women.

Be proud, stand tall and “Own Your Power, Feel Your Spirit and Live Your Life the way you choose with Wit & Wisdom!”

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Spirituality on the Sea of Cortez – Swimming with the Seals!

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If you’ve never been on a small bus with 10 women, just  think back to a school bus trip or ask Franchesco.I can honestly say, it doesn’t matter if a member of the female race is  5 or 45 …we always manage to cover every topic of conversation at a decibel level , that could put 200 bagpipers to shame .

 

Having a Whale of a time!

Having a Whale of a time!

Two boats, 5 guides, four crew, a chef , ugly life jackets, bikinis, sunscreen and we were ready to, Own it ,Feel it and definitely Live it, on yet another Eco adventure. This time to the rugged islands of the  Sea of Cortez.

First stop – Swimming with the Seals … not my first choice of mammal to swim with, in-fact the thought had never popped into my consciousness before, non the less, it was part of our exploration, of self and nature.

Harmless looking!

Harmless looking!

 

Sergio instructed us on the virtues of swimming with the seals.In one breathe he enticed us by describing the playful charms of a seal pup and  in the next, he put the fear of God in us, as he coached us on what to do, and not to do, if confronted by a 16 foot male.

That’s when I asked, “why can’t we be content with just snorkeling?!”

The next feat was to once again struggle into the confines of the tightest wet suit we could endure…beautiful new ones, but still tight enough to embarrass any good woman and I won’t tell you what Sergio suggested we do to warm them up!

 

Dressed and ready to Swim with the Seals!

Really happy I’m alive and singing!

Wearing Snorkel masks, flippers and wet suits to keep us intact, we all felt like seasoned experts, comical, but it’s amazing how a good outfit can make you feel. One by one, the brave Seal Angels began to dive and flop into the Sea of Cortez.

I was still questioning if I really needed to add this to my list of accomplishments, was I doing this because everyone else was {ego},or because I wanted to? I didn’t relish the idea of  being nipped by a pup, having bubbles blown in my face by a mother seal, or being annihilated  by a whacking great sea lion, however, I was curious.We were playing in their territory, so we needed to respect their law of engagement.

My anxiety dissipated when I witnessed the seals welcome us, just as any good golden retriever would.I was in awe and inspired to dive right into the acrobatics in that moment, lead by our fearless guides who dived deep into the turquoise waters, gracefully spinning like mermaids in rhythm and sync with the seals.

I didn’t dive deep, but I did become part of the show, the spectator behind a mask. I was awe struck, allowing the real performers to come to me. The seals were watching me, watching them, as they playfully swam under and around me …it really was like playing with puppy dogs! Luckily no sea lions took an interest in me, but even so I was out of the waters in record time.

Diving deep!

Diving deep!

I’m truly happy  I swam with the seals, even for a short while. I allowed myself to feel uncomfortable, but I didn’t allow it to immobilize me. I asked myself “What am I afraid of, when will I get another opportunity like this?” After all,I wasn’t alone, I had people close by who knew these waters and it’s wild life. This wasn’t about failure or success, let’s face the seals weren’t judging me and nor were my fellow Seal Angels.This was an incredible chance to connect with another species, in a way that I wouldn’t be able to anywhere else. I didn’t have to be brave and take the lead, instead it was a chance to tread water, be the observer and trust in the unknown, those around me and my own instincts.I simply allowed myself to be totally present and look at this adventure through different lenses.

And this my friends happen before Lunch … more to come!

I bet Charlie’s Angels never swam with Seals!

Own it and Feel what it’s like to really Live it NOW!

 

 Disclaimers-

No guides, Seals or wild life were intimidated or harmed on our adventure.

No sporting apparel or equipment company has offered to endorse, supply or photograph us.

Photographs courtesy of Anja and my I phone.

Alas, still no make-up , hair stylist , or stylist of any description assisted us.

 

 

Leading Parallel Lives: Are A Mother & Daughter Really Walking on Different Paths

Celebrating her 16th birthday together in Scotland!

 

She’s in the last stage of puberty; I’m menopausal.

She’s experiencing the throes of first love; I’ve been thrown by love.

She’s finding herself; I’m rediscovering myself.

Two perspectives, one special relationship,

and, to top it all, she’s stealing my clothes, shoes, and jewelry.

The differences and similarities are uncanny, and more than enough to test any good woman on either end of the spectrum. While she’s bent over in pain, hugging a hot water bottle and sobbing over her cracked baby eggcup, I’m pulling off my clothes, stepping into a cold shower and weeping over the heel she just broke on my new red stilettos.

Celebrating her 16th birthday together in Scotland!

Celebrating my daughter’s 16th birthday together in Scotland!

Tissues, self-help books, exercise, journals, chick flicks, wine and chocolate are all imperative at this time for both of us, and that’s just the starter kit. Round two: meditation and yoga, both of us lying on our backs with our legs in the air, to get the blood back into our brains, calm the nerves, and give us a whole new perspective on any situation. A cup of tea helps to seal the euphoric moment.

writing in our Own it, Feel it,Live It Journal, soothes the soul!

writing in our Own it,Feel it,Live It Journal, soothes the soul!

Both of us are coping with a set of new dynamics as women. I’ve had to own up to my choices, respect that she’s becoming a young woman, and she’s now more than just my daughter. She’s learning to respect me as a woman with feelings, desires and dreams, too. Both of us are stepping into uncharted territory, even if my stilettos are more worn out than hers! She looks to the stars and thinks, “The world is my oyster.” Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘Enough of the oyster, now where’s the damn pearl?’ The truth is, I have a treasure chest of pearls, glistening with wisdom, many of which I will pass on to her. But the true beauty of living life now lies in the fact that there are so many more pearls waiting for both of us to discover!

 

OWN YOUR POWER!

We both need to conjure up the power of “S” as in my “Spirituality in Stilettos” workshops : Spiritual, strong, sensitive, soulful, sassy, smart, and ultimately support. And by support, I don’t mean a good bra, even though that is critical in my case.

Food and Exercise are  a hot topic ,as she’s working to stay in shape, and I’m working to keep my shape. Daily desserts are banned; however, the chocolate stash remains sacred.

THE POWER OF SISTERHOOD

Teaching her about my four friend categories.

As she works out the good from the bad, I’ve thrown out the bad and I’m focusing on the good.Friendships are as important as the water we drink, and time with your real “sisterhood” of friends is immensely important. I’m trying to teach her my approach to the four friend categories:

The friend who’ll have your back and carry you home after the party, whether you’re happy, sad, mad, or simply unable to string two words together.

The friend who is so much fun at the party, but just can’t help herself and doesn’t understand that it’s simply not cool to try and steal your boyfriend.

The friend who’s only being nice to you because she wants to be seen at the party and gossip about you later.

The friend you met on vacation, with whom you solved world peace over wine or lemonade, and wish lived nearby so she could come to the party.

Celebrating Natalie's 19th in London with my #1 High school friends,Mary's daughter & Cousin Caroline.

Celebrating Natalie’s 19th in London with my #1 High school friends,Mary’s daughter & Cousin Caroline.

Take care of number 1, enjoy, but beware of number 2, don’t waste your time on number 3, and see if you can cultivate number 4, even from a distance!

FEEL IT– ASKING THE SAME QUESTIONS AT 48 AND AT 18

She’s learning to love beyond herself and I’m learning the power of loving myself. We all want and need love, and it comes with the same breathless, heart-thumping excitement whether we’re 18 or 48. However, with a bit of wit and wisdom, hopefully by 48, we’re better at telling the scoundrel from the prince and feeling confident in our intuition. “Love,” however is another article unto itself!

She’s preparing to leave the coop. I’m not sure where to start without her in my coop. She tests the boundaries with a razor-sharp tongue that has the answer to everything, while I choose my battles, knowing that neither of us has all the answers.

I wouldn’t have believed at 16 or 18 that I’d be looking at my life three decades later and asking the same questions: What do I do next? Who are the friends with whom I want to spend time? Does this person fulfill my idea of loving bliss? I’d thought it would all be smooth sailing at this point, with no major life decisions to be made. Truth is, I’m once again at the helm, choosing to change and expand my reality. I’ve shed the pressure of ‘I should’ and am once again embracing the optimism of, ‘I can’!

LIVE IT – WITH WIT & WISDOM:

We are both boundless, inquisitive women,learning to embrace and be present in each new chapter in our lives, as she heads into round one of womanhood and I’ve lost count of which one I’m entering!

What I’ve realized in witnessing my daughter’s parallel life is that I’m among the lucky ones, as I head into a new chapter in my life. We see the world with all of its glorious shades of color. We know we deserve to be recognized for who we are, not for who and what people think we should be. We’re pushing the boundaries and testing the waters, just like we did in our teens.

As mothers we are the guides, nurturers and role models for our girls. We need to trust our instincts, show humility with grace and strength, remembering that we are the teachers. Love, mistakes, and especially forgiveness, don’t make us weak; they make us human and strong.

21 and wearing my necklace,earrings,shoes and jacket!

21 and wearing my necklace,earrings,shoes and jacket!

For the mothers of teenage girls, here’s the good news:Her 20’s will restore your faith in the precious mother-daughter bond.

For mothers of teenage girls, here’s the good news: Her 20’s will restore your faith in the precious mother-daughter bond. On the road my daughter and I have traveled together, we’ve formed a loving connection and trust that no one can break it. As we both learn to Own, Feel and Live our own journeys, it’s great to know that along the way, we’ll also be sharing a glass of wine, a box of chocolates, conversations and memories that will endure in our hearts forever.

I’ll conclude by saying that, I believe that God does have plan for each of us and God certainly does have a sense of humor … and so should we!

P.S.- Warning for mothers of teenage boys…Here’s my number on tip, buy a well trained sheep dog!

Thank you for reading my story and please share with friends,mothers and brothers!

Diane xo