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

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

 

 

Five Happy Reminders

I’ve been reflecting on the stuff that’s turned me from always smiling (though somewhat frustrated inside) to absolutely fulfilled and in love with my life.

Seriously, I never thought those words would come out of my mouth. The words: I am happy. Not just today either. I’m happier every day, like when I was a kid.

I was a focused kid. Really creative and really bold.

I lost the bold part somewhere between my senior year of college and my late thirties. No one could tell, but I knew.

I’ve used my journal to check-in with my emotions to see what changed. What leaked my mojo during those years? 

Since my birthday this July, I’ve been sharing the ways I’ve gotten my mojo to flow again.

Based on what I discovered through journaling every day for the past 4 years, I’m sharing the 50 ways I found happy.

I’ll be adding 5 every week.

Check out the first 5 , the second 5,

As usual, 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.

 

21. TMI is real.

Whenever I’ve tried to do everything at once, I’ve just gotten confused and overwhelmed. 

I lost weight the first time because I focused on one teacher’s instruction. I moved to New York with only $400 (in 1996) by focusing on one goal when I arrived–training clients in a high-end fitness club. Check☑︎

I could fill this page with accomplishments that happened because I got focused and aimed all my energy at one goal.

Try it. It’ll give you life.

I could fill this page with accomplishments that happened because I got focused and aimed all my energy at one goal. Try it. It'll give you life. Click To Tweet

22. Your entire aura will glow if you do this.

You’ll be able to make others happy if you do this. You’ll receive inspired ideas, if you do this. You’ll find all your inner treasures, if you do this.

If you don’t, you’ll feel exhausted or invisible. Nuff said.

 

23. We do not know our entire path. All we can expect to know is our next step. So take it.

When folks wait and wait and before they move into their wants and desires, they usually don’t move. Stagnation will put you on a path toward regret.

Movement will lead to something: something new, something desired, something better understood, something you want, even if it’s different from what you thought you wanted. Who knows?

But these options feel better than regret.

Movement will lead to something: something new, something desired, something better understood, something you want, even if it's different from what you thought you wanted. Who knows? But these options feel better than regret. Click To Tweet

24. It might not make sense now, but keep moving.

This finishes my thought in #23.

Keep moving. It’ll make sense when you finish the big picture.

25. Bold is the way. I don’t mean you should bust down doors and push folks out of your way kind of bold. 

Be bold in your belief. Who do you think you are?

We announce who we think we are all day long.

I’m tired. I’m sick of it. I’m not that type. I don’t… I have too much… I don’t like…

Whatever we believe, it is true.

And you don’t have to believe it out loud.

Whatever we believe in secret, we are available to.

So, in secret, be bold and trust yourself. Trust your body to be strong, to heal, to be ready. Trust your decisions. Trust your gut. Trust your plan. Trust your vision for your life. 

Be the king of your beliefs.

Whatever we believe in secret, we are available to. So, in secret, be bold and trust your body to be strong, to heal, to be ready. Trust your decisions, your gut, your vision for your life. Be the king of your beliefs. Click To Tweet

 

Hope these make you live!

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

I will, too.

Michelle Bernard

the next 5: from one happy lady

I’m sounding two trumpets.

One, because I turned 50 last month, and one because I finally made it to experience daily happiness.

I haven’t felt this fulfilled since I was a kid.

I’m sharing the 50 things that helped me get to this goodness.

Check out the 50 ways I found HAPPY, 5 each week. 

This is week 3. Visit the first 5  and the second 5.

I’ll be adding 5 more next week.

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.

 

11. If IT lights you up, it’s your purpose.

I don’t mind the discomfort of staying in shape. My hands tingle when I lift heavy weights. I don’t wear workout gloves. I could care less about the callouses. The pain of getting stronger and tighter is worth it.

It lights me up.

I don’t mind sweating. I don’t care if my hair gets frizzy and wild, as long as I’m fit, flexible, and able to dance into bliss. Dancing lights me up.

Training others to get strong lights me up. Writing lights me up. Being an artist lights me up.

I refuse to pursue any profession, any goal, any job, any relationship —-  that doesn’t light my fire.

Passion is all.

Passion is YOUR PURPOSE.

12. Remember your childhood passion.

I played school, changed my voice to speak for all my dolls, wrote short stories about large families filled with love, journaled, daydreamed about big city living, did mini-performances for anyone who would watch, smiled all the time.

In the last twenty years my greatest joys came from teaching large fitness classes, recording audio and dance video for my business, living in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, coordinating a Theatre program for high school  students with special needs, and all the things I was born to do.

What were you born to do?

Ask your child Self. Then do it.

It will take you to a deeper happiness than I can speak of.

13. Okay, I have to say it–stay away from prepared  food in a box as often as you can.

I know it’s convenient. It’s ready-to-eat, as long as you have a microwave thingy.  The marketers know it too.

But look at it.  It’s fake, processed, and probably addictive. It might claim to be healthy, but food that spoils is the healthy food. Prepared food in boxes is usually timeless. Doesn’t that scare you?

as often as you can, save boxed and canned foods (that claim to be “easy” because they’re already cooked for you) for famine.

14. If you like something other people call CORNY, like it anyway.

I wear lipstick and green eye shadow when I workout. If I’m gonna sweat so much my hair frizzes and I can squeeze liquid me out of my top when I’m finished, I wanna look good doing those mad-crazy workouts.

If anyone thinks it’s weird, odd, vain, wack, ridiculous—whatever.

After I watch a movie, I like to debrief. It’s best done at a coffee shop or a bar. I want to talk about the story, characters, ending, my feelings. Everything.

If it’s odd, weird, too much—whatever.

Like what you like. Out loud.

15. Listen to your own wisdom.

Be veh-wee, veh-wee quiet.

Spend time alone every week. I use my journal for this. Every morning at 6:30, I’m alone but not totally. With my journal, I can hear my Interior Voice. It’s a guide.

We have become inundated and ADDICTED to the phone and it’s 24/7 news updates from CNN, Huff Post, Instagram, Kanye and Kim.

How can we trust ourselves if we continue to absorb the barrage of advice and subliminal messaging coming from under our fingertips?

You have a lot to teach yourself. Turn off the NOISE. Put your phone in a drawer. Stuff the remote control between the cushions. Take out your earbuds. Listen to yourself.

You are wiser than you realize.

Tune in to your own wisdom. 

 

See ya 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

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

J.A.M.

Journal. Art. Movement. is my JAM.

A year before I wrote my first book, I took an online writing course. I certainly had the extra time for writing. My commute from New Jersey into Uptown Manhattan took close to 2 hours. Luckily I was able to schedule all my clients into 3 days instead of 5.

I know it might seem like torture to get up at 4:30am to catch a 5:30 train. You can’t imagine how many raised eyebrows and wrinkled foreheads I witnessed take pity on me.

How long is your commute?

Oh Michelle, you’re so committed.

 

But, I looked forward to the train ride.

Every day I had the choice between sleeping my way into the city or writing. Who gets a free 4 hours a day to read (and finish) books? Who has free time to enroll in a writing course and actually do ALL the assignments?

I chose writing.

That 5-week online writing course in 2014 helped me shape a few articles and poems that I published in online magazines, and it paved the daily journaling practice that I currently greet every morning of every day.

I’m back in New York. No commuting for me anymore. Now I’m walking distance from my clients.

Like it is living in this mad-crazy town, I’m rushing around trying to tackle client business, write another book, and make fitness and yoga videos. Daily journaling for two years in New Jersey gave me so much insight into my real desires, blocks, and solutions, that I had to keep it alive when I moved back here.

So, I said later to sleeping in.

I journal at home now. My journaling begins by 6:30 every morning of every week. Without fail, I walk the pooches at 5:45am, remove their leashes and fill a goblet with cold coffee, add flavored cream, then burrow near the terrace window next to a shelf stuffed with old journals, a lamp, and a view of.. well…construction!

I gaze outside for a few minutes while sipping sweet coffee before beginning writing. There are animals in the trees that haven’t been torn down by the plow. It’s quiet, except for those birds and squirrels. It’s earlier than most people use their voices.

I write.

I never, ever have to search my mind for something to put in my journal. I write like I’m talking to someone; someone who is me but She is listening, letting me get all my feelings through the pen.

I did the journaling thing with Julia Cameron when I lived in Los Angeles. The Artist’s Way was what all of us entertainers did. Mostly because she said to do it. Three pages. Also, with coffee. In the mornings.

But life made changes, habits got interrupted, and I stopped.

Now I embrace the discipline of listening to myself, writing my life, writing my pain, and purging what would fester, because I can clearly feel the benefits.

 

My daily journaling has made me happier. I’ve gotten so clear about what I want and what I will tolerate. I’m awake to what brings me joy and what sinks teeth into my veins to take my energy.

When I journal something inside moves, something gets arrested, something lifts, shakes, becomes unwoven, opens. Sometimes the change will happen in the very moment I’m writing. Sometimes the change is pending, needing me to listen longer, write more, purge more, explore more, wait. And sometimes the journal helps me see that something has already been changed.

 

I’ve created mostly blank book, yet beautifully inspirational journals!

Aren’t they gorgeous?

They are part of my black coffee series of journals for self-exploration. They will help you feel into the celebration of life. That’s what they’ve done for me.

Take a closer look!

 

rise,

Michelle Bernard