Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Interview with Girl Warrior Karen Cooper.

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Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration of our Feature Girl Warrior, the wise and wonderful Karen Cooper, entrepreneur, artist, yoga teacher and spiritual guide. A courageous risk-taker, Karen first hit the local scene with her business On Canvas Art Gallery, which was the perfect setting for her Stretch Yoga Studio. It was here that she fostered a loyal, and ever-growing, following of wisdom seekers and creative devotees.

What makes you a Girl Warrior?

I have learned that if I fall I can and will get up and I do.  I have found that I can choose, that I am strong, that I will find a way to get up no matter what happens, I have learned to trust myself.  I can be flexible; I will make the best of whatever is. I know that there is help and support all around me.

You worked in the fast-paced competitive business world for years. How did you get from that to yoga teacher, spiritual guide and fine artist?

My sister died of breast cancer, she was 40, and I was 39.  That was when I chose to live life on my terms, for me, for those I love.  As a result of that choice, I found the right books (which I think really saved my life), I quit smoking (that’s when I found out that I had strength), I spent a year in India (that changed my view of the world and, opened my mind), then I found yoga and spiritual practice (and that opened my heart my mind my body my spirit) and I have never looked back.  It’s been a process, a journey, an amazing ride. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes or get scared, it just means that I find a new way to move. I will again take one step then one more and one more.

What has been your biggest challenge so far – personally or professionally?

I believe that my biggest challenge in life has been finding my self-worth, learning to believe in myself, to trust myself and finally to love myself unconditionally.  It’s taken a long time with lots of experiences and just as many mistakes, the key is learning from them.

In my younger years I never forgave myself for any mistake that I ever made and I spent my energy and time trying desperately to never make another.  I was so hard on myself.  I remember thinking that if I quit or lost my job as a District Sales Manager that no one would ever hire me again, they would surely find out that I was a fake.

What obstacles have you overcome and misconceptions have you overthrown?

I have learned to breathe, to be still, and to listen to the whispers of my heart.  This has been a huge undertaking.  My Father (God bless him) believed that a knight in shining armor would come by, one for each one of his daughters, and care for them for life, that we need not worry.  My Mother (God bless her) taught us girls how to be independent so we could rely on ourselves. As a result I had one foot in each thought process. Not to mention that I have lots of energy, and sitting still to listen long enough to hear the stirring of my own heart to find my own answers, to find my own truth, to see what is a misconception and let it go.

What would you say to your younger Girl Warrior?

Please sweetheart, be kind to yourself, don’t be so hard on yourself, you are worthy, you are lovable, you are enough.

What would you say to future Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?

Dear Girl Warriors, please above all else be kind to yourself, love yourself for all that you are with loving kindness and compassion, Live well, Love well, Be well. Find your gifts and give them, you do have gifts; remember this, with love.

Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?

My friend Karin, has survived 2 rounds of brutal cancer which has left her disabled and yet she is thriving with joy and gratitude.

Boo King, I have watched you over the years, get up from the fall, you do what needs to be done, you look after your loved ones and still manage to inspire us by living your passion.  You do the work!

My sister Sandi and my girlfriends whose love and support never fail me, who make me want to be my best self, to stand tall in this life.

My friend and yoga student Elizabeth Wellburn who has stood by and supported me all these years and has done the same for so many, who gets up from all the falls and keeps going and lives her passions and supports her community living what she believes in.

What’s next?

In November I am going to Spain for 3 weeks with my sister and brother-in-law, a trip of a lifetime.  When I get back I am planning my next big risk and challenge and adventure. I have no idea what that is at this moment but I trust it will come to me and I look forward to it.  Food and shelter for all is a big deal for me, I’d like to do some work in that area.  I believe there is a reason for everything and what we are doing in our lives right now is helping us to learn and prepare for whatever comes next.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I hope to still be alive, living my passion, walking my talk more deeply, continuing to learn and grow, to be curious and look up.

What’s your personal mantra?

My mantra, to walk more softly on this planet, to learn and grow all the days of my life, to be a light, to share my gifts.  My favorite quote, by John O’Donohue sums it all up, “May you experience each day as a gift woven around the heart of wonder.”

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Set Your Intentions.

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Girl Warrior. Set your intentions. Start today. Right this minute, here and now. Don’t squander or waste another day living a life that isn’t your utmost best or reflective of your highest self.

Reach out to the Universe and express in detail exactly and precisely what it is you’d like to see manifest in your world – mentally, physically and spiritually. Body. Mind. Soul. Consider all facets including relationships, family, career, health and wellbeing. It’s goal setting on steroids.

This is the first step in creating a happy and fulfilled life or taking it to the next level. This is where you begin. Always. And it’s oh so empowering.

There are no right or wrong ways to set your intentions. You can do this through daily meditation, writing in a journal or simple wire-bound notebook, filling a mason jar with aspirational sticky notes, writing your desires in the sand while at the beach, embroidering or cross-stitching inspirational messages on a pillow, painting your plan on a canvas or mural, writing affirmations with lipstick on the mirror you face every morning, constructing a collage or vision board, talking through your objectives with someone your trust.

The ways to do this are endless, personal and as unique as the Girl Warrior expressing them. The idea is to keep things simple and clear and in a language that speaks to you. Language is key here. Everything that comes out of your mouth or that is expressed in some way shape or form is a message and instruction to the Universe.

The cautionary tale here is to speak only what you want to see happen. Your thoughts and words are filled with extraordinary energy, which becomes everything you see and feel and hear and touch around you. They have the power to transform and bring into being exactly what you tell them to. Good, bad, happy or sad. It’s equal parts self-fulfilling prophecy and laws of physics. Science colliding head-on with spirituality and faith.

So Girl Warrior, communicate all your magnificent intentions and experience firsthand how you transform energy into matter that matters. Believe and you will see.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Why You Shouldn’t Edit Yourself.

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Girl Warrior. Resist the urge to constantly edit yourself. Change, if necessary. Improve, yes. Grow, most certainly. Challenge your current state of reality, absolutely. Evolve, positively. Do all these things. Engage fully and passionately in the process of becoming.

But also remember the beautiful being you are. Right here and right now.

While you’re on the progress path, realize with every precious scrap of your consciousness that there are wonderful dear things about you that are quintessentially perfect. These are the idiosyncratic things, the singular, sometimes quirky, rare and unusual characteristics that you, and only you, possess. No one else can claim ownership of these truly marvelous qualities. Remember that.

Herein lies your X-Factor. The je ne sais quoi of you. The distinctive trademark that no one else can copy, duplicate, replicate, plagiarize, pirate, poach or clone. Your bona fide stamp, your permanent tattoo, your indelible birthmark. Don’t hold something like this back. Flaunt it.

So wear your bedazzling Lone Ranger brooch Girl Warrior, and let it shine. Loud and proud. No editing. No paring back. No curtailing. No reining in or diminishing. No not ever.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Don’t Walk Away or Turn Your Head.

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Girl Warrior. Don’t walk away or turn your head when you see someone you find displeasing, disdainful or off-putting. Or worse. Repugnant. Repulsive. Revolting. The homeless beggar, the panhandler, the vagrant or vagabond. And especially, the shabby-dirty-raggedy-ass-down-and-out-nasty derelict, bum or bag lady.

Don’t inflict an egregious unkindness by pretending you didn’t see or that they weren’t there. Don’t turn this Human Being into one of the Invisible Souls. By turning away you are actually saying, ‘you don’t matter. I am better than you.’

Instead, lean into compassion, empathy, and understanding. And know this: but for the grace of God goes all of us, including you Girl Warrior. You are not above the fray and beyond reproach.

Instead, love the unlovable Girl Warrior. Love those who the world has discarded. Love those who have been cast aside, tossed out, left abandoned. Or worst of all, the ones we have given up on: the hopeless cases and the unfixable.

Instead, open your loving divine heart and express your beautiful humanity. Allow your natural tenderness to well up and occupy your spirit until it is filled to the brim and overflowing. Then take all of this abundant goodness and give this very personal gift to the one standing on the street corner, hat in hand. Or the one slumped against a storefront holding a cardboard sign with a scribbled message that reads simply, but oh so elegantly, ‘please help.’

Say yes, yes, yes Girl Warrior. Say yes, I will help.

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This post is dedicated to my beautiful and tenderhearted daughter Aimee who has taught me the true meaning of compassion and kindness; and to not turn my head or walk away from those in need. Her natural instinct is to always extend a helping hand. She’s an extraordinary and rare Girl Warrior.

 

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Don’t Settle.

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Girl Warrior. Don’t settle. Go along with, resign or reconcile yourself, stomach, swallow or submit to anything that doesn’t ring true to the bright and shiny person you are.

Don’t live a default life. A ‘learn to live with’ life. An involuntary life. Or worse yet, one that belongs to someone else. And you’re just going along for the ride. Sitting complacently, but maybe not so comfortably, in the back seat or sidecar. You belong behind the wheel of your own life, the one of your own making. Steer your spaceship courageously in the direction of your dreams. Not someone else’s. That’s your mission, your primary assignment here.

You only get to do this present-life thing one time, and one time only, Girl Warrior. And it is oh so very brief. So fleeting. A flutter of the butterfly’s wing. Yes, some things are eternal. Our souls. The tender memories of us. But this here-and-now Earth Walk, and all the glorious people, places and things that are gifted to us are here for such a woefully brief time. So don’t squander any of it by settling.

Don’t settle in. Don’t settle down. Don’t settle for. Anything. And that goes for the people in your life, the work you do, the place where you live, the man or woman you’re involved with, and most importantly, the desires of your heart.

Girl Warrior, don’t be afraid that if you choose not to settle you’ll be all alone. You won’t. Quite the opposite is true. You’ll be surrounded by your loving and brave Tribe of kindred spirits who also refused to settle for anything less than an authentic life.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Feel the Pain.

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Girl Warrior. Pain is inevitable. So feel it. Fully. Thoroughly. Exhaustively. Allow yourself to experience every little detail of the hurt you are experiencing. Physically, mentally and spiritually. Wring your emotions dry.

Purge. Cleanse. Release. Repeat.

There is no escaping pain. You can run but you cannot hide. It affects us all sooner or later. Like death, it happens to everyone and everything. Guaranteed. But unlike death, it doesn’t just happen once. And then boom. Lights out. Pain recurs. Also guaranteed.

But what isn’t guaranteed is your perspective. The way you think, feel, react, respond and behave when you’re suffering and in your darkest hour. You may not be able to control when something hurtful is going to come your way or cross your path. But you can control what you do when it does.

This isn’t easy. Your first impulse may be avoidance. Or denial. Or retreat. You may want to run like hell away from the source of your torment, if you can. Or pull the covers over your head. Bury it in the sand. Lock yourself away. Hold a pity party. Lash out. Make accusations. Lay blame. Threaten to harm yourself. Crush your psyche. Curse at your body or mind. Condemn their betrayal. Give up.

Do these things if you must. And there will be times when you need to do all or some of these things. Recovery, getting rid of the bad shit that happens, is a process. And it takes time to heal wounds. Whether it’s a broken arm or a broken heart. A sore knee or a sore spirit. An injured back or an injured mind.

But know Girl Warrior that eventually you have to face it all. Have a showdown with the pain. Feel it all. Surrender to it all. Accept that it is happening. Because the pain won’t leave you until you deal with it. One way or the other. Head-on works. So does a slow and gentle approach. Trust yourself. You actually already know what to do. The wisdom to guide you through this already abides within. Listen to your small quiet voice of truth. Know that all pain is temporary.

Girl Warrior, let this pain be one of your quintessential teachers. Learn. Grow. Forgive. Accept. Emerge. Move on.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Define Your Own Success.

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Girl Warrior. Determine your own definition of what being successful means. Like many of the big things you’ll do, this is an inside job. Start there. Take a long hard close look inwards at the person you are today. The one you were yesterday, last week, last month, last year, or as many years back as your memory will take you.

Then ask yourself this question. Who is this person?

Chances are, this person is somewhere on the growth chart between ‘not quite there yet’ and ‘done like dinner.’ Regardless of where you stand on the Spectrum of Light (SOL) you are incomparably perfect. Not flawless. Not without blemishes or warts. Not pristine. But perfect, not in spite of these things but because of them.

With this perspective in mind, and under your own personal magnifying glass, go in closer to see all the people, places and things that truly matter to you. What inspires your soul? Fills your mind with wonder and curiosity? Makes your heart flutter with happiness. Brings tears of joy to your eyes? Scares the shit right out of you? What drives and propels you forward? What makes you want to get up in the morning? What would you rather be doing more than anything else? What does an ideal day look like? Who do you like to be with? Who’s in your tribe and who’s missing that you wish was there? How do you find bliss? Where do you want to go? When do you start living your life? Why does it matter? And, the really great big huge colossal critical question, why are you here?

Once you have probed deeply and truthfully into the answers to these soul-searching questions, you can start to formulate a picture of what success means to you. Notice that these are questions you ask of yourself. This is a very personal quest and is nobody else’s business. Not your parents, friends, teachers, therapists, colleagues, pop icons, social media stars, fashion freaks, political leaders or anyone else that you may be under the influence. Not their life. Not their definition. Not this time.

Know this, being successful lies in your answers to these vital life-affirming questions. Only these. It’s not about wealth or power or influence or status or jobs or fame or fortune or getting ahead or climbing some corporate ladder. It’s about loving, honoring and respecting the person looking back at you in the mirror every day. It’s about knowing that your presence on Planet Earth matters.

Most importantly Girl Warrior, it’s about knowing that your life is a success because you live it fully and completely, with the utmost integrity and authenticity. And always, always, always according to your own definition. On your terms.

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