Happy on the inside

Ever since my summer birthday, I’ve been reflecting.
I’m enjoying a state of happiness that’s lasted 4 whole years without interruption.
Listen, this is a big deal, especially for me.
I’ve appeared happy to the people who’ve known me through my years, though inside, I was secretly frustrated. I’ve appeared confident through the years, but inside I felt irritated.
My daily journaling practice figured out my problem.

{I was told} I was too much. Too dramatic, too loud, too wild.  So for years I would kinda be myself, check for approval,  then edit if eyebrows were raised.

To make other people feel better around my bigness, I’d compensate by being overly pleasing, overly tolerant, and overly conscientious.

But in the last 4 years, I’ve been laughing (and crying) myself into realness.

I ask for what I want. I am dramatic, wild, and loud whenever I decide to be. I brag and invite others to brag around me so I can applaud them. I have no tolerance for gossip, whining, or hate.

Expressing my realness has set me ablaze with joy.
Won’t you try it, too?

I’ve been sharing the 50 things that’ve helped me get to this goodness, 5 at a time. Below are numbers 36-40.

Reflect.
Practice them, if you want, especially this week’s selection.
Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not.

Tell me how they make you feel or add to my list in the comments section.

36.  Find a VOICE you can use freely.

Be perfect.  Do better.  Turn the other cheek.  Smile.  Don’t be weird or different. This was my training.

But I am extremely imperfect in some embarrassing ways. Perfectionism was a plastic bag knotted over my face.

I’m pretty weird.  I can wear 8 different colors at the same time, and make ‘em work.

My voice is high, and I sound like I’m 12 on the phone.

I curse at home -far too much.

I can lift weights like a guy, I want to live in a houseboat at some point, jokes about farts, tits, and asses do NOT make me laugh, and prayer is how I create miracles.

I’d rather be all the things that I feel, especially when I’m creating living.

When I decided to write for magazines, I couldn’t get Michelle to spill the real deal. Maybe it would hurt folks. Maybe she wasn’t so nice.

I had to find another Voice to take my pen.

For a few years, I let SUMMYR write for me.

Summyr was my pseudonym. I used HER name for my published articles in online mags because she let me say things Michelle would be judged for saying.

summyr doesn’t have my ego or my fear of exposing the truths michelle swallowed.
she’s got nothing to tarnish or lose.

 

Find your VOICE and speak your truth. It will give you peace.

 

We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.  

–Dr. Suess

37. Discover what turns you on and off

❥ and Likes 🔥 I’m coming for ya..

Niagara Falls–seriously {have you seen it from Canada?}, paws of dogs, brownies that glisten, really great acting like in THE FIGHTER and DOUBT, Christmas lights all year, the smell of lilacs, espresso freddo from Greece, lifting weights like a dude, dancing like a goddess, RuPaul, headstands, imaging headstands without using my hands, reading other people’s lives, over-coming, ecstatic positions most women love, telling the truth, trustworthy friends, a spotlight, Barbra Streisand, bossa nova, listening, my journal.

Disses 🌪 Not going near…

too much cardio, finding a man to make you whole, professional complainers, taking advice from folks who haven’t done sh*t, indecision, phobias toward any kind of human being, sneezers who don’t cover their mouths or farters who don’t leave the room or say excuse me – you really make me sick!, fast yoga, playas {not talking about beaches}, listening or talking to people who are not listening, beige.

I wanna diss meat.  Working on it, but i LOve pork ribs.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

 –Dr. Suess

38.  Have a WiLD tomato 

I am untidy and unabashedly blemished.

Michelle Bernard

I like to use my hands to Write, imagine, Listen, and Declare every morning. For the last 4 years straight, I start the day by drinking inspiration and spilling introspection. I journal (and drink cold coffee in my goblet).

My free-writing style of journaling is raw and WiLD.

WiLD is an acronym for Writing to imagine, Listen, and Declare.

On the days when I can’t sit for my usual 40 minutes of WiLD journaling , I pare down to a sizable portion and dump out my feelings, describe my future, talk myself through a goal, or wade through my ideas to come to a decision.

For 25 minutes, I write WiLD.

I call those untamed  journaling chunks the WiLD Tomato.

Francesco Cirillo, is the creator of The Pomodoro Technique, a timed writing technique to increase focus and minimize distraction. An activity is chunked into a 25-minute block for total immersion. He used a kitchen timer shaped like a pomodoro tomato to keep time. Tomato is a nod to Pomodoro.

I even use my tomato timer.

Getting WiLD has given me life.

I’m gonna be sharing more deets about the WiLD tomato, the WiLD cherry (10-minute journaling blocks), and the POSSIBILITY journal in my new book, beyond words.

 

Should be on Amazon next month.

So happy.

 

39. Keep a POSSIBILITY journal to fire up your energy so you can be magical

Your imagination can penetrate your reality.

That’s why I imagine my future once a week with my journal.

I started doing this in 2002. Eric Butterworth, of Unity Church, talked about writing the whole day the morning of the day.

That same year I wrote my potential day in detail for 3 weeks in a row, and, like wow, I got to experience pretty close to the experience I projected.

I’ve always imagined my future using visualization, starting way back in the kid zone.

Both techniques work, but doing the WiLD writing and the visualization has brought my life to a whole new high.  

Wanna try?

TODAY, write a day-in-the-life of YOUR future.

Write every detail as if it already happened! Like a memory.

Yep, yep, I’ll be explaining this technique in beyond words, too.

Your mind doesn’t know the difference between past, present, or future. It’s taking command from the pictures you show it and the words you use most often.

Your a boss.

And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!  

—Dr. Suess

40. Date yourself. Often.

The more time you spend hanging out and laughing with yourself, the more you’ll wanna date you again.

I went to RuPaul’s Drag convention below–with myself. It aroused my inner goddess. Plus, I got ta bond with some sexy, gorgeous strangers.

I went to coffee, then to write the other day–with myself. Michelle cracked me up. We enjoyed each other’s company tremendously.

I’ve been dating myself every other week. I think I’m in love. No.

I’m sure of it. 

If you missed numbers 1-35, back to the first 5  and the second 5 and keep traveling till you get back here.

I’ll be adding numbers 41-45 in 2 weeks.

Till then, live above ordinary,
Michelle Bernard
Michelle Bernard suessism

HAPPY with RUMi

I’ve been reflecting on the pieces of HAPPY that have made me feel finally full.

If I guess, I’d say it was 2006 when I started collectingRUMi poetry.

A friend gave me the poem, The Guest House, in 2003 when I was recovering my heart from a man who wasn’t supposed to keep it. Back then I hardly understand the meaning beyond the surface. 

I wasn’t ready to know what it meant.

Now, I know.

I know RUMi.

His poetry speaks of love for the DIVINE Source, an energy that also lives within us and connects us to our lives and to others. It’s a love that cannot be ruptured. When I learned that, not intellectually but in my soul, I understood how important RUMi’s poetry was for my journey.  

I’m writing 50 things that have made me happy.
This begins number 31.

This week I’m including written and spoken words belonging to my favorite ecstatic poet.

These words give me life.

Remember you can check out the first 5 of my list of the 50 ways I found happy. Start at 1 and read from there to here.

Let each group of 5 sink in.
Ponder them. Practice them, if you want.
Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not. Maybe they’ll inspire you to add to my list.

Tell me what you think or add to my list in the comments section.

31.

 

32.

33.

34.

35.

 

 

Hope these make you live!

See ya next week. Till then, live above ordinary.

I will, too.

Michelle Bernard

Listening to HAPPY

Numbers 26 thru 30 are on this recording.

This is the stuff that’s turned me into a happy lady just about every day. 

 

I know the question off in the wings…

Do you ever get blue anymore?

Hells ya. I get angry, frustrated, nasty, scared, and disappointed. But none of that lasts very long. Not like it used to.

The things that have made me happy aren’t my possessions or my positions. Realizing my worth and celebrating my uniqueness, charisma, nerve, and talent has changed my perspective.

I’m adding 5 more happy realizations week.

Check out the first 5 , the second 5,

Let each group sink in.
Ponder them. Practice them, if you want.
Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not. Maybe they’ll inspire you to add to my list.

Tell me what you think or add to my list in the comments section.

 

Hope these make you live!

See ya next week. Till then, live above ordinary.

I will, too.

Michelle Bernard

 

 

More Ways to HAPPY

Since my birthday 4 weeks ago, I’ve been journaling about how I rose to this feeling of happy.

 

I didn’t feel so good 8 years ago. I was frustrated, though no one knew it. I smiled all the time, but inside I wasn’t content with my life experience.

It was puzzling.

I had a great one bedroom apartment in New York city, an adorable puppy, a couple very close friends, and a job that was fulfilling.

Years of journaling showed me what was missing.

I wanted life to be linear. I believed my life was supposed to be lived like rungs on a ladder.

 

I made a dance video one afternoon. I danced my emotion out for 4 minutes and afterward I bathed in sweat and joy. The next week I did it again. After several more, I named the collection of VIDS: Celebration of Life series.

When I decided to celebrate life, every part of my life, every emotion, every experience, every day; my happy returned.

Life isn’t a ladder. It’s simply a celebration.

I’ve decided to share 5 ways that I celebrate my happy over 10 weeks of posts.

This is week 4. I’m posting 5 more ways below–numbers 16-20.

I’ll be adding 5 more next week.

As usual, let each group sink in. Read the other posts so you can see them all.
Ponder them. Practice them, if you want.
Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not. Maybe they’ll inspire you to add to my list.

Tell me what you think or add to my list in the comments section.

16.   You don’t have to hurt the person you once loved.

I had the best divorce ever last year. It was great because we are still friends. We talk on the phone for hours at a time–not often, but we still share important bits from our lives with each other.

Everyone promised the divorce process would last for years, I’d probably fight over money, we’d yell and say things we’d regret… I refused all of it.

I spoke directly to my ex-husband about creating an outcome that would please us both. He agreed.

Bitterness in relationships just messes people up for the next person who gets ’em.

In the past, I’ve been hurt by so many dudes, and I’ve done the hurting.

Enough. I want my ex-husband to feel good about himself when he moves on to his next relationship.

I feel great, too.

 

17.   Oooo, I do not like when people talk negatively about other people I know.

I understand that we all need to discharge our thoughts about people and situations. We need to talk to somebody if we’re afraid or frustrated. I get it.

But it’s totally obnoxious when the people you’re dissing are people I know!

Even though I do not like it, there’s something I can learn from it.

I’m learning that it looks ugly when folks put people down. I don’t want to look ugly that way.

Also, when I’m around this sort of conversation, I don’t say anything, I say something nice or… you know what?… I think I’ll just walk away.

 

18.   I love you used to be challenging to say. I wasn’t raised with those words.

The first time I said it was to my college boyfriend at age 20, and he had to give me 3 months to get all three words out together.

Now, I’m used to them. I have so many people I give those words to. This is one of the amazing ways I celebrate my life.

 

19. You can’t lose.

I’ve noticed that bitter people are the ones who think you can lose.

Everything you experience, whether liked or not liked, matters if you’re open to learning something new or willing to evolve something you’ve learned earlier.

We just keep collecting wins. It’s called wisdom.

 

20.   I pray about everything. EVERYTHING.

And because I believe in the prayers, because I expect them to be answered, they are. Not always in the way or shape I’ve asked, but they are always answered.

That’s why I’ve seen my share of miracles.

Most of them have been BIG.

The more I notice, the more I’ll notice.

Visit the other posts if you missed the first 15, and I’ll have more for you next week.

Till then,

Live above ordinary.

Michelle Bernard

5 more ways to HAPPY

I’ve been journaling about my year-end goals. I’m wrapping up two books: one on fitness and one on journaling.

This has been a milestone year, my 50th as of last week, and I am happier than I was when I hit 40.

Last week I started to share the way I rose to this feeling.

I haven’t always felt happy, which probably comes as a huge surprise to the many folks who’ve known me. 

I’ve been in search for answers most of my adult life. Okay, let me just say it outright–I’ve looked for validation most of my life.

That’s not something people openly admit about themselves, but I believe being honest about who and where you are means you’ll also be aware when you find what you seek.

My search led me to live in several cities since I left Iowa 23 years ago. I looked for myself in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, then back to New York.

I’ve performed for Universal Studios, sang in Japan over a summer, become a certified yoga instructor before it was popular, won 2 bodybuilding shows, taught Theatre Arts to children with special needs using the curriculum I created, wrote a book, Lean Happy Healthy You… But it was only recently that I stumbled upon HAPPY.

Falling is a good way make somebody look up.

I’ll be sharing the 50 ways I found HAPPY over the next 10 weeks. 

This is week 2. Visit the first 5  in last week’s post.

Below are 5 more things that have made me happy at 50.

Remember, I’ll be adding 5 each week over the next 10 weeks.

Let each group of 5 sink in. Ponder them. Practice them, if you want.
Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not. Maybe they’ll inspire you to add to my list.

Tell me what you think and add to my list in the comments section.

6. Listen to something inspiring every day.

I Youtube inspiring stuff when I shower in the morning and again as I fall asleep. (Youtube is now a verb). One of my favorite YouTube channels is YouAreCreators created by Justin Perry.

It features short seminars, books on”tape”, and commentary by Justin.

 

7. Feel your sucky feelings fully.

I’m talking about the feelings we’d rather avoid.  Don’t wait, don’t wear the mask, don’t expect your negative feelings to go away by themselves.  Dissing your feelings invites regret and stokes resentment, the two skills complainers have mastered.

I feel my feelings in my journal every morning. I scribble them in anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and overwhelm until I can write myself some sort of solution. In my journal I ask: What is this awful feeling showing me about my choices, my life, my goal, or my action?

Every emotion is valid. The sucky ones can take us to places we fear, but those places could show answers we’ve searched for all this time.

8. Read so you can practice visualizing.

One of the things I love about reading fiction is I get to escape into somebody else’s life, live in their body, their house, their relationships. As a kid I’d pretend to be different characters through my Barbie dolls, my Cher doll, and my Marie from the Donny and Marie doll set. Yep, my characters were singers most of the time. But I’d also play teacher and mama every day up till sixth grade.

I would shape-shift to become whoever I visualized. When I read fiction, I do the same thing.

The practice of visualizing becomes useful for changing any circumstance you’ve grown out of and want to shed, or used to embody any persona you aspire to become. Practice seeing beyond what’s right in front of you by reading more fiction. Plus, it’ll get you off your phone for an hour.

9. Direct deposit your savings and retirement funds.

It’s absolutely true that money burns a hole in your pocket. If you tend to slip your hand into your jeans to retrieve a $10 bill, but end up tickling a thigh, you might want to try directly depositing your goal-money into accounts.

To me, money is like handling brownies or white cheddar cheese Pirate’s Booty or Ritz crackers. If they’re in my house, I’m gonna eat em. And by eat em, I mean eat till there isn’t anymore left. So, I do not have those items in my house. I leave them at the store until I want one

I’d rather keep my cash in the bank and let online banking distribute my funds. Before you know, your savings and retirement accounts are hefty and you’ve lost weight from not carrying around wads of cash (that keeps disappearing anyway).

 

10. Look lovingly at yourself.

Use a mirror.

I like to smile when I look in a mirror, otherwise I look pretty grim. My thinking face does weird stuff to my mouth and forehead. Ugh.

The mirror is a good place to connect with yourself. I’m aware people don’t like to look at their reflection or can’t do it without thinking horrible thoughts about what they think they see.

Try looking, smiling, and saying what Louise Hay used to say: I love you. I really love you.

Do it right now. I dare you. 

5 more ways to HAPPY next week.

Till then, live above ordinary. I will, too.

Michelle Bernard

50 ways to discover your HAPPY

Michelle Bernard

this is 50

and, boy, do I feel better than ever.

I’m happier now.

Happy came for me toward the end of my 40s. Bam!

I’ve figured out a few things. Big things and little things.

Some of this stuff I’ve always known but needed a bit more evidence before I trusted it.

Some stuff is simply new to my awareness.

Below are the 50 things that have made me happy at 50.

You don’t have to read them all at once. I’m not posting them all at once.

I’ll be adding 5 each week over the next 10 weeks.

Let each group of 5 sink in. Ponder them. Practice them, if you want.
Maybe you’ll agree, maybe not. Maybe they’ll inspire you to add to my list.

Tell me know what you think in the comments below.

1. Tell the truth.

Perhaps you’re thinking, duh, but people lie all the time. They say YES to things that feel like NO WAY.

I used to accept subpar treatment from a friend or a partner, because I didn’t want the relationship to break-up. I used to say YES to doing stuff I couldn’t stand doing.
Today, I surround myself with amazing friends. I admire all of them, which is important to me.
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I would say NO to opportunities I wanted by avoiding them because I was scared, thought I wasn’t ready, or believed I wasn’t good enough.

What if telling the truth about ourselves makes us available to receive the life we really want? 

2. Leave food on your plate.

I used to eat until there was nothing left on my plate or in the pot on the stove.

There are so many strategies to help over-eaters: chew 600 times before you swallow, don’t eat over the sink or, in my case, the stove, only eat when you’re hungry. Rubbish.

As a fitness professional who had a real eating-too-much disorder, I couldn’t honestly tell my clients to do something I believed was impossible to maintain (except for the not-eating-over-the-sink one…  I still do that!).

But learning to leave a few uneaten morsels on my plate then saying I’m finished has trained my mind to be comfortable with abundance. You see, I had a scarcity mentality; a belief that if I didn’t finish ALL the food, I’d miss out on something.

I’ve trained my mind to believe there’s plenty. Now, I’m not anxious when I eat.

If we all ate less in general, we’d not only lose weight, we’d help eradicate the food shortage around the world. 

 

 

3. Laughing and smiling often works miracles on your health.

 Yep, there is  research to justify this, but I’m not writing a research paper.  I’m writing from my experience. I’m the lab test, so take my word or try it out yourself.
When I teach an exercise class, I make everyone laugh their heads off. It creates community. It makes exercising seem like an event, not a chore. It takes the sting out of muscle pain. It’s entertaining to me.
Centenarians, the folks who live past 100, site laughter as one of the reasons for their long, healthy lives.

If I go one day without laughing, I must be in the wrong environment, around the wrong people, or doing something that sucks.

It doesn’t happen much anymore. 

4. Tell every human customer service provider who creates a pleasant experience for you that you appreciate their help.

I know it’s their job, but some folks are super awesome at doing it. It’s not an easy-breezy effort for customer service people who’ve had to suffer all the hostile folks before you called or stepped up to the counter.

Tell them they’re awesome when they treat you like you’re special. 

It’ll make you feel good, too.

 

5. Ask questions.

Like a 4 year-old, ask why, ask how.

Find out if what “they” are telling you is true, healthy or valid for you.

Question things you hear from the FDA, pharmaceutical claims, and from people offering advice about things they’ve never experienced themselves.

Trust yourself and trust your body.

Check back next Friday for 5 more ways to discover happy.

Till then, live above ordinary.

Michelle Bernard

@my birthday party

Feel It Till It’s Real

Feel it till it's real

After eight years of training clients for weight-loss, strength, and muscle/joint rehab, I felt an urge to jump careers and pursue my childhood ambition. I played “school” in my bedroom on a daily basis in fourth grade. I covered my bed with name tags to show where my imaginary students sat. My mom taught second grade so I used her extra photocopies as handouts for my pretend class. I even graded “their” papers.

Following my heart, I quit the upper scale gym in Midtown Manhattan, gave my private clients to my trainer friends, and took a teaching assignment in a special needs school. I was able to get the job placement without any prior experience because I enlisted as a NYC teaching fellow. The two-year fellowship paid for my graduate degree. So, for my first job as a public school teacher I was assigned an at-risk population of middle school students while attending graduate courses at night. Go ahead and say it with me: Oh man!

The stress was immeasurable and visible. A couple years before becoming a full-time teacher, I’d won two bodybuilding shows and changed the life and health of many clients. However, within one year of teaching public school, I was eating pop tarts for breakfast, Slim Fast shakes after school, and boxes of Chinese food on Friday nights.

Exercising daily remained consistent. In fact, I worked out every morning before school started, no matter if I stayed up late to write a paper or scripted a lesson plan or woke and cried at 2 in the morning.

Still, it was as if I knew nothing about food anymore.

This is what stress does to you.

It blasts your mind.

It shatters your memory.

 

I forgot about veggies. I forgot that bread all day makes me permanently swollen. Even though pop tarts sent me to the toilet in 10 minutes, I craved the sugar. I knew I was eating crap, but still, I let my stress steer my choices. No wonder a spot of my neck broke out with eczema by Spring. I’d never experienced issues like that before.

I was drowning in emotion. I needed to remember who I was. I needed to make a deliberate choice about what I wanted to feel besides just STRESSED, OVERWHELMED, and TRIGGERED.

 

I knew what could help me.

I revisited Creative Visualization, a journal/workbook created by Shakti Gawain. I owned a copy a decade before and the journaling and exercises she prescribed helped me re-focus, move from Los Angeles to New York, and become a top trainer at my gym.

I bought Creative Visualization again and did the work. I wrote the vision I desired for my body and my life. I read it over and over. I added to it. Detailed it. Felt it until it was real in me. I imagined my vision while I worked out.

I reached for baby spinach instead of white cheese popcorn. I boiled oatmeal again, ignoring the cinnamon and the strawberry pop tarts, which was hard to do. If you walk down the “cereal” aisle, the pop tarts are at eye level and the slow-cook oatmeal is almost on the floor. My advice: just look down when you go through these parts of the grocery store.

Even though I currently teach clients ways to practice healthy lifestyle habits, the truth is, it really is mega-challenging to do if your environment launches a stress attack on you all day.

The way for me to get back to my fitness and health goal was to find something and someone to radio me back to shore.

I needed a lighthouse.

Journaling in Shakti Gawain’s book changed the way I felt. I reconnected with one of my former workout buddies. I joined a boxing class to punch and jab my stress load into a bag.

Even a former personal trainer can get tossed overboard by emotional stress.

 

Everyone can benefit from a captain who has a clear and focused head. We need a teacher, a trainer, or a friend to support our highest intentions. Otherwise, we might get lost at sea with eczema, belly bloat, and inflammation of the knees.

We all need someone who can help us navigate back or forward toward who we really want to be.

see it inside-Michelle BernardI train clients, teach movement and strength classes, and write for wellness and power again. Our environments can create a tremendous grip that shapes our decisions. Position yourself in an environment that supports the vision you have for yourself. Even if you can only find ONE PERSON who will support you

FIND THEM.

You need a captain.

Write your vision often. Read it often. It’s your lighthouse.

 

 

To know means to record in one’s memory; but to understand means to blend with the thing and to assimilate it oneself.

Egyptian Proverb