A Special Guest Teacher (That Also Barks)

Hello Friends!
 
Today I have an exciting invitation to share with you! But first, I want to introduce you to a special guest teacher: my dog, Winnie.

 

 
Winnie is a mix of dachshund and chihuahua, two breeds which unto themselves are quite territorial, but when mixed together add up to one protective pooch. When Winnie hears a car pull into our driveway, her nervous system senses a threat may be nearby, and tells her she should bark. LOUDLY.
 
As Shakespeare once said, “Though she be little, she is fierce.”

 
Before the barking begins however, there are two steps her body must go through.

 
First, her ears perk up and her senses sharpen. The sensory stimuli of tires on gravel sends a message to her brain that there could be potential danger.
 
Then, she does something really interesting. 

 
Her little eyes look over towards me – me being a member of her pack. In a split second she gauges my reaction to get a sense of whether or not that sounds does indeed indicate a threat. 

 
If I seem perturbed or excited, she’ll sound off the Bark Alarm. But if I seem unbothered, she’ll usually keep it down to a low growl. 

 
This demonstrates a body wisdom that goes back eons: 

When we need to feel safe, we look to those around us for reassurance. 

 
And just like Winnie, your nervous system benefits by looking to those around you for inspiration, reassurance, and cues to keep going. 

 
And that’s exactly why I’d like to extend a special invitation your way.
 
For just one week, I am opening the doors to my membership program Club Macaron.

 

Club Macaron is a place where zesty babes like you and me gather to study the arts of sensuality, spirituality and style.
It is a community where we elevate your mind by first tending to the needs of your body.
 
It is a place where you get to practice slowing down to speak from the heart.
 
Where we honor beauty as an essential nutrient to your feminine soul.

 
And where abundance is not measured by how much you can get, but by how deeply you can savor what you have.
At this point you might be asking yourself, why name a club like this after a cookie?
 
Well, in my blogs and emails you may have noticed that my objective is not just to educate you. It is also to entertain you.
 
While human beings learn in many different ways, it has been proven over and over again that the most effective way for a person to learn is through the simple art of PLAY. 

 
When you are in a state of play, your nervous system is relaxed, your senses are engaged, and your mind is receptive to new information.
 
Think back to high school and how challenging it was to memorize something like the periodic table, in contrast to how easy it was to memorize the lyrics to your favorite pop song.
 
Fun always wins when it comes to learning something new, or changing a pattern in your life.
 
That’s why in Club Macaron, we make personal growth feel like tea and truffles.

 
You’ll learn how to shift your mindset while sashaying your hips.
 
You’ll learn how to meditate peacefully, and master wing tip eyeliner.
Club Macaron is a place where you can open your mind, enjoy your body, and celebrate the sensual as a devotional path.

 
So to answer your question…macarons are sweet, playful, elegant, delicious and FUN. Why wouldn’t I name a club after them?! 🙂
 
It is my honor and my pleasure to extend this exclusive invitation to you.

Click here to learn more and become a member today!

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Confidence: Beyond The Bells & Whistles

Beloveds,

Recently I was preparing for a big event and needed to pick up a new pair of shoes. I had a specific budget for this purchase. I went to the store, chose a pair, and walked out having met my need for new shoes without compromising the needs of my bank account.

God damn it felt good.

In the past, setting a budget conjured up tremendous fear that would inevitably lead to self sabotage. Years ago I remember heading out to pick up a pair of $10 earrings studs before an important speaking event, and leaving the store with a $400 Labradorite necklace that “just spoke to me.”

In that moment, the urge to buy the necklace felt like my intuition talking. And maybe it was. But when I look back with the wisdom of hindsight, I see that what I was really trying to do was manage fear.

My mind saw that necklace as something I could control in a situation that felt very much out of my control. “I can’t be scared onstage if I’m wearing a necklace like this,” my subconscious reassured me.

It reminds me of the powerful quote from Carl Jung:

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will control your life, and you will call it fate.”

As I grow and evolve I find that I need less and less “things” to feel confident.

My confidence comes from a quiet trust in who I am. How I look is just the icing on the cake.

May this be a reminder that you too, are more than your bells and whistles.

More than your adornments and accoutrements.

And that like the best things in life, the best parts of YOU, are actually…free.

Love and Labradorite,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image by Charisse Kenion via Unsplash

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Stepping Away to Get Closer


Cacao nibs,

Recently I was working on a project and my creativity felt like a jeep with it’s tires stuck in the mud.

No matter how many quality ideas surfaced, the mantra “what a dumb idea! what a dumb idea! what a dumb idea!” echoed through my head like a demented wind-up clown.

I called a friend for support. She calmly replied, “I think the best thing you can do in this situation is just be really kind to yourself.”

Ahhhh…deep exhale.

After hearing that prompt, my inner voice came through clear as a bell.

“Stop trying, Kitty. Today is just not the day. Working harder will only dig this hole deeper. Put the project down and step away.”

It’s common to get swept up in the fever of perpetual harvest.

But any artist will tell you that after days and days of working on the same painting, the art will actually suffer if you don’t take time away to freshen your perspective.

When you seek to live life as art, you’ve got to live it on art’s own terms. (click to tweet)

My friend Rochelle Schieck recently shared that lions in the wild will sleep 15 to 20 hours a day, and that rather than the expression “I’m a lion, hear me roar” it’s really more like, “I’m a lion, hear me snore!”

When it comes to creative energy, I find it to be more of a current than a well. When the current flows, it flows. When it’s not flowing, I know that my job is not to tell it to hurry up. My job is simply to remove whatever is blocking the flow, and do my best to patient as I wait for the river to rise again.

How do you flow with the wax and wane of your creative genius? Let’s compare notes in the comments.

Love,

 

 

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Sassy Art & Sexy Cheeses: A Summer’s End Swoon!

Happy Summer’s End Sweeties,

Here in the mountains we are having the first  “I better bring a sweater” nights of the season, cooling us off and calming us down.  As summer burns her final blazes, enjoy this August edition of Swoon!

With sassy art, sexy tips, secret weapons and soothing books, it’s bound to delight you from top to tail. Enjoy!


Beauty and zen meet in these silky, smooshy, stylish meditation pillows.

Boobs, BOOBS, and boobs and more bOObs!  What a perfect petit print!

Wear high heels up to 4x longer with these secret insoles…thank you Vivian Lou!

You guys…secret freakin’ weapon.  Grandma’s spot remover will get ANYTHING out of your clothes.  Literally anything.  I can’t recommend it highly enough!

My FAVORITE collage artist is now selling prints of her amazing work! Run don’t walk to @emilycutspaper!

Lately I am getting such a kick out of @odedeparfum.  If you like a little snark with your scent, as I do, you’ll be in heaven!

Want to learn how to assemble a cheese board like a grown up? Not just any grown up, a French grown up? Sharon Santoni will show you how with grace and elegance!

As I prepare for the 2018 Tuscany Retreat in just a few weeks, I love languorously paging through this full color love letter to Italian women and the art of keeping house, Limoncello and Linen Water.

Would you like a pair of rose gold eyelashes winking at you when you make your bed in the morning? Et Voila! 


P.S. – SHARING IS SEXY

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Insiders Travel Guide: Asheville, NC

Peppermint Sticks,

It’s been almost three years since I left New York City and moved to “The Paris of the South”, a.k.a. Asheville, North Carolina.  (Note: I don’t think the person who invented that term has ever been to Paris.  But anyway.)

It’s been quite the culture shock to go from Friday nights dancing at The Roxy to Friday night Barn Dances in Fairview! Living here I have gained amazing friends, beautiful adventures, and wonderful lessons in the art of simplicité.

My favorite way to get to know a place is through shopping, cafes, dance/yoga classes and great food, which is why you won’t see anything too touristy on this list (like the Lazoom tour or the Biltmore, though I do recommend checking those out too.)

If you’re ever passing through this charming little gem of a town, here are some of my favorite spots to check out:

Summit Coffee House

Coffee Shops

Liberty House Coffee

Try the Mountain Fog latte: lavender, honey, almond milk and earl gray.  Heaven! And the breakfast tacos.  Delish.

High Five Coffee

A great place to work, snuggle up with a book, people watch, or just relax with a delicious, creative baristas choice.

Trade and Lore

A sweet, romantic little gem right in the heart of the city.

Dobra Tea

Slip off your shoes in their moroccan style lounge and page through a robust menu with over 200 varieties of tea.  The roobois bubble tea is my favorite!

OWL Bakery

Mon Dieu! This sweet, charming patisserie has the best croissants on planet earth. Seriously. I’ve never tasted pastries like the ones they make here. Bring a book, a newspaper, a friend or a journal; relax and luxuriate.

Sovereign Remedies

Drinks

The Times at S&W

Chandeliers, velvet couches and craft cocktails you say? Sign me up!

Sovereign Remedies

The epitome of charm, this atmospheric delight is the perfect spot for a late afternoon bite and bevvie. (it does get quite crowded at night and on the weekends.)

The Bywater

A rustic little wonder right along the river. Grab a cocktail and head down to the riverside to enjoy the view. In the evenings there is usually live music (often bluegrass) under strings of twinkle lights.

Little Jumbo

Delicious cocktails, milk glass pendant lights and friendly service. Who could ask for more?

Battery Park Book Exchange

Oh, the whimsy! Vintage books, red leather couches, a delicious wine and champagne selection, charcuterie for days.  And you can bring your (well behaved) dog! This place is charm on wheels.

Desirant

Shopping

Desirant

Ok y’all. This is not only my favorite store in Asheville, it is one of my favorite stores in the WORLD. Glamour, simplicity, elegance, stunning design – Desirant has it all. A must see!

Minx

Sassy and classy, distinctive clothes and accessories.  A true gem.

Cornerstone Minerals

A beautiful collection of gems and crystals, with a friendly, knowledgeable staff.

The Herbiary

A sweet little treasure that offers handmade tinctures and herbs, as well as a beautiful display of bath and body products.

Gaea

Itching for a new deck of oracle cards and more incense than you can shake a stick at? This new age emporium awaits.

Malaprops

God save the independent bookseller! Malaprops has a dazzling array of thought provoking books, as well as a corner of staff favorites wrapped in brown paper.  The title and author is hidden, and on the wrappings you’ll find adjectives like like “romantic” or “spine tingling.”

Posana

Restaurants

Bull & Beggar

Heavenly food and gorgeous atmosphere. (Needs a reservation.)

Haywood Common

Farm to table YUM!

Plant

All vegan but you’d never know. Chic and delicious for you plant based babes.

Smoky Park Supper Club

This is where I bring all my guests passing through town. The food, atmosphere and service are all a delight!

Posana

Delicious, luxurious, and gluten free! Will not disappoint.

Rhubarb

More farm to table, local loveliness.  One word: burrata.

Cúrate

Tapas that are each works of art. Probably the most popular restaurant in town, if you can get in, you will not regret it!

French Broad Chocolates

Dessert

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge

A long line but worth the wait.  Liquid truffles, amazing gelato, heavenly hot chocolate!

Old Europe

Divine coffee, divine pastries, divine macarons!

WHY DON’T YOU…

Go for a Hike
There are dozens of gorgeous trails in and around Asheville. Check out www.ashevilletrails.com for a full listing.

Go to the Movies
The Grail and Fine Arts Theatre have a dazzling array of independent films every night of the week.

Go see Live Music
Live music abounds in Asheville. The Grey Eagle, 5 Walnut, The Orange Peel and The Isis  are all great places to start.

Go to a Yoga Class
Asheville has some of the best yoga classes I’ve ever experienced. Check out Asheville Yoga Center (Lyndsey Azlynne’s restorative classes, Bhakti with Micheal Johnson, Maeve Hendrix and Joe Taft are my personal faves). Asheville Community Yoga is also world class studio with by donation classes (Lauren and Wendy are my favorite teachers!). Violet Owl Wellness also has an awesome gift shop, and is now offering a weekly Qoya class!

Go to the Spa
Shoji Mountain Lodge is GORGEOUS and a wonderful way to spend a relaxing afternoon in the mountains. With amazing massages and private hot tubs, it’s a true treat!

Take a hip hop fitness class
With the queen of confidence, body love and belly dance herself, Miss Lisa Zahiya!

Get an Astrology Reading
Virginia Rosenberg does readings every Sunday at Earth Magick in town, and she also sees private clients. She is BRILLIANT. Highly recommend.

See beautiful Art
Beautiful art abounds in studio after studio in the delightful River Arts District.

Love,

 

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Trust Beauty

Beach Plums,

Do you ever go to the grocery store, and when you get to the check out you think “Dammit! I forgot my reusable bags, AGAIN!”

I do. Every. Time. I Shop.

Recently when I was at the checkout, I noticed a display of beautiful, handwoven baskets that caused me to teem with desire.

“$30 is alot when reusable bags are only $1.99, or free,” I thought.

Then I remembered the LOADS of reusable bags I’ve purchased that just sit in the backseat of my car collecting dust.

“Maybe if I had a thing of beauty hanging off my forearm, and the pleasure of placing my produce in a gorgeous basket, I’d actually remember to bring it in the store.”

Girls, this is where the ego actually really comes in handy.

My desire for beauty, style, and looking/feeling good knows no bounds. I know that STYLE is an ultimate motivator for me. If I had a beautiful basket, I would be a thousand times more likely to use the basket than I would the traditional grocery bags.

Hell, I’d even walk back to the car to get it if I forgot!

So I bought the beautiful basket. And I am SO….HAPPY!

I use my basket for everything – trips to the bookstore, the supermarket, going to yoga, I brought my basket to the spa  and filled it with snacks, a water bottle, my book and my journal. It has become a true companion; my little bundle of wonder.

This $30 purchase has saved many a plastic bag, AND brought so much joy and luxury into my life.

May this be a reminder to always trust beauty…trust beauty…trust beauty.

All my love,

 

 

 

 

P.S. – the basket on my arm is by African Market Baskets, a fair trade company that imports directly from artisans in Africa. They are so beautiful and durable. Use the store locator to check ’em out!

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A $4K lesson on putting yourself back together

 

I once had a friend who was a photographer at a famous NYC auction house.  His job was to photograph very expensive antiques, jewels and art for display in the auction catalogue. Handling these items, you can imagine how careful you’d have to be.

One day, while carrying a $4,000 antique dinner plate from one display table to another, his hand slipped and the plate dropped straight to the floor.

That’s a $4,000 whoopsie.

The company did not dock his pay, nor did they just sweep it into the bin. What they did is carefully bring every fragment of the plate down to the special restorations department. These artisans painstakingly took each tiny fragment and put it back together so perfectly you would never know the plate had been broken.

I can’t help but see the metaphor here, in how we put ourselves back together after a fall.

Yes, there are the big sweeping moments like our life altering choices, taking big risks, venturing out on a wing and prayer; these are like the big pieces of the plate.

But then there are the tiny fragments. The daily grind of things like making the bed even when you’re depressed, calling your senator even when you’re discouraged, not texting that certain someone who treats you poorly, even when you are aching with loneliness.

It reminds me of the time at my friend Rochelle’s wedding when she kicked off the weekend by saying, “Thank you all so much for being here for this important moment. But even more so, thank you for every single moment that led up to this one.”

Here’s to the ALL your pieces, great and small.

Much Love,

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Healing Trauma Through Beauty

When I was a kid, I struggled in school. Bullying from other kids mixed with a learning disability made it REALLY hard to focus on learning. I passed  classes by the skin of my teeth, often feeling stupid, lost, and exhausted by trying to make sense of things that just didn’t seem to make sense.

Thank goodness, there was one shining beacon in my week: our art teacher Marybeth.

When Marybeth walked in the room, it was like the gleam of sunshine after a week of rain. Things like multiplication and phonics went right over my head, but art went straight into my heart.

Art made me feel uplifted, empowered, and excited.

Later in life during a traumatic time, I remember working with a therapist for weeks and weeks without making any progress. One day, rather than asking me to talk about how I was feeling, she asked me to draw it. That day, everything changed. The image of that drawing is something I still reflect on 25 years later.

Since the beginning of time art has been a way for us to heal, process, honor and express.

That’s why I am thrilled to share that today begins a special summer flash sale for a great cause. 

Now through Friday evening all my courses are $100 off, and 20% of all purchases goes to The Art Therapy Project.

Remembrance of Peace, mosaic by war veterans served through The Art Therapy Project

The Art Therapy Project is an organization dedicated to bringing free art therapy to traumatized individuals.  They work with veterans, domestic abuse survivors and at-risk youth to help heal trauma through the creative process. Together, the participants work to turn negative energy positive,  repression into expression, and to transform their pain through BEAUTY.

Right now my signature programs – The Art of Self Massage, Body Church, and The 7 Virtues of the Seductive Woman, are all on sale. And, as a special bonus, you can also purchase a copy of my new book Club Macaron, usually only available to club members!

This sale ends Friday at 5pm  –  click to shop and support The Art Therapy Project now!

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Meditating in High Heels

 

Recently I headed back home to New York City for a very special event. Jo Weldon, the woman who first taught me how to fan dance and founder of the New York School of Burlesque, wrote a new book called “Fierce: The History of Leopard Print.” Jo was doing a book signing and a burlesque show with some of my favorite performers of all time. I knew I had to be there, so I packed up my leopard velvet fascinator and hit the road.

Being back in the city after a long absence quenched my senses in a way I didn’t even know they were thirsting.  I zoomed in and out of the streets of Soho wearing a vintage black wiggle dress and bright white Keds. Femme Fatale on my body, Chantilly lace on my feet.

As I neared Crosby street where the event was being held, I pulled over to switch my footwear to something a bit more elegant. With pointed toes I slid my feet into a pair of camel colored, suede, T-Strap stilettos. These were really more of a sitting shoe, but I felt confident I could handle the half block walk to my destination.

I steadily strode the short distance to the show, but when I arrived, all I saw was a long row of garage doors. I pulled out my ticket. The event was being held at 126 Crosby St. I was at 26 Crosby street.

FACK.

It was just far enough to make walking in stilettos painful, but not far enough to warrant another shoe change. So I began my 4 block journey to the correct address.

When distance walking in stilettos you just want to get it over with, so my strategy is usually to walk at a brisk pace. But after just two minutes I was entering the red zone; pinched toes and burning in the pads of my feet – so I slowed everything WAY down.

I noticed things I never would have seen had I kept my blinders on with the Scissor Sisters blasting in my ear buds. Faces, places, colors and moments that would normally have escaped my tunnel vision snapped into 20/20 clarity. The fast moving city which holds herself like a tight bud began to soften and bloom around me.

When I finally arrived at the show, I was relaxed, open, and grounded. Because my nervous system had been tended to, I was able to enjoy the show from a state of total receptivity, the way a hungry five year-old devours a chocolate chip cookie.

May this be a reminder dear one, that you can meditate anywhere, even in high heels. (click to tweet)

And that any experience can be savored more deeply through surrendering to the miracle of your senses.

Strutting and Savoring,

 

 

 


 

HEADS UP! Next week is our annual…

Ready for a stay-cation this summer? A chance to savor life through the senses, FEEL FOXY in your own skin, save big AND give to a great cause??

Next week is our annual Flash Sale Fundraiser! All courses will be $100 off, and a portion of all proceeds go to a wonderful organization.

I’ve got a few sweet surprises up my sleeve too, be sure to open up on Wednesday!

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The Best Camera money CAN’T buy

 

Last weekend I was curled up reading a fascinating book that was advising me to foster a relationship with spirit that transcends the material, physical world. Essentially it was saying that the best things in life aren’t things.

“Sure, I agree with that.” I thought.

The chapter then finished with this quote from Emerson: “Nothing of the senses can ever satisfy.”

AHEM.

Ralphie, you know I love you. But with all due respect, WHAT A CROCK OF SHIT. 🙂

It is well known that we store a great amount of emotion in our bodies and tissues. It’s common to pour tears during pigeon pose in yoga, or to soak the face cradle crying during a massage as emotions are released from the body through touch.

The body stores trauma and negative emotions for sure, but here’s the thing: let’s not forget that the body and tissues ALSO store goodness, joy, glee, and happiness.

After closing the book that afternoon I headed to the local salon for a blow out in preparation for a photo shoot. My best friend was with me and we were having heaps of fun getting creative about the shoot. It was a perfect summer day, and I felt full, excited and happy.

I wanted to cherish this simple moment of joy for a long time to come, so I captured it with the most hi-definition camera I know of: my senses.

As the stylist worked her fingers through my scalp I felt my hip bones expand and settle into the reclining seat. I inhaled the foamy, fragrant aroma of a coconut shampoo, and with my ears, took in the sacred, ancient music of women chatting while hairdryers hummed.

Thanks to my body and senses, this moment of joy is now sealed into my cells forever, creating a well from which to pull when waters run thin. 

As summer rolls toward the height of its fever pitch, may every bite of watermelon, rush of air conditioning against damp, sweaty skin, and sip of cool water help you to savor more fully what is right here, right now.

Squealing and savoring while running through a sprinkler,

 

 

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