There is a famed story about Marilyn Monroe walking down 5th Avenue in New York City with a friend, clad in a headscarf and raincoat, discussing fame and stardom. New Yorkers bustled by, not paying Norma Jean any attention. She turned to her friend and asked, “Do you want me to be her,” meaning Marilyn. Off came the headscarf, coat unbuttoned and Marilyn soon attracted a throng of people begging for autographs. In today’s world, social media would have lit up with selfies.
Actor Eli Wallach has a similar NY story of walking down Broadway with Marilyn in 1955. She invited a reporter to follow her as Norma Jean into Grand Central terminal. He watched her garner no notice as she waited for the subway. When she emerged onto the street at her subway stop, she fluffed her hair, struck a pose and reportedly, an aura of magic emanated from her and she was mobbed within a minute.
Whether these famed stories are true or not, they perfectly describe going from invisible to visible in a nano-second. The great news is ALL of us can go from invisible to visible quickly, too!
Turn It On
I decided to demonstrate this concept to Suzanna, one of my early Modern Goddess workshop goers who struggled with the idea of moving between archetypal energies – particularly from Athena (the get it done, civic-minded, top achieving classic wearer of the Chief Operating Officer of Control Mask) to Aphrodite (the alluring, mysterious, love shower). Suzanna and I attended an annual holiday party in a private home thrown by one of our networking friends. Her parties bring together various groups of people that wouldn’t normally find themselves in the same space. The ambiance is cocktail party and casual banter turning into business opportunity.
As with most parties, people congregated near the bar and hors d’oeuvre table in the dining room. The set up was I would walk into the living room and sit down on the sofa, un-noticed. Suzanna would join me and we’d chat. After a few minutes, I was to “turn-on” Aphrodite’s love energy.
We followed the plan. I sat down, completely un-noticed to the group in conversation standing close by, and only got a drive-by glance from someone across the room. In a few minutes, Suzanna joined me and we started chatting about LA traffic (snore!).
After a few minutes, she said under her breath, “OK – show me!” I took a gentle deep breath, which opened my shoulders and made me sit up a little straighter. I consciously invited my Aphrodite energy to emerge. I felt the familiar warmth of love spread from my heart and up into my face and found myself smiling that little smile of a woman pleased by life. To be clear, I did not hike up my skirt, reveal cleavage, pout or curl my lips suggestively or even think about sex. I simply focused on the word love as I took a breath and allowed my shoulders to relax.
A man heading to the bar to refresh his cocktail at precisely the time my warm smile appeared stopped, smiled and sat down on the coffee table in front of me. In a few minutes, another four men trying to out-flirt each other surrounded us. I invited women looking at us with “that look” to join our conversation, and ten of us became a party inside the party.
I am so happy to say that Suzanna dropped her Chief Operating Officer of Control Mask and found her Aphrodite rhythm that night! She later shared with me she experimented with the breathing into love concept at other holiday parties and was amazed by the difference in her experiences. Her results: She made connections with potential business allies, began new friendships and stopped worrying about the extra weight she was carrying.
While I am no Marilyn Monroe, I do know the more I invite my inner Aphrodite’s Love out to play, the more I participate in and enjoy life’s playfulness and delights.
What does this story have to do with we middle-aged women changing our experience of our cultural invisibility? Everything.
We Are Active Participants
It is so easy to get caught up into one aspect of our life and self – like Athena’s archetype and the Chief Operating Officer of Control and Perfectionista masks. The masks have us focus almost exclusively on getting all the tasks done and done right that we forget about the other parts of us.
We middle-aged women can also get snared behind the “Who me, This Old Thing?” mask when we feel frumpy and out of alignment with our changing bodies. The hard truth is, when we don’t let our love out to play, we become as invisible to ourselves as well as to everyone else. That’s when we start saying things like, “I guess I’ll always be alone,” and “Nobody listens to me at meetings anymore so why bother.”
I know, I know … there are always important things to do. My list of excuses can be long when it comes to shifting from invisibility to visibility. My Chief Operating Officer of Control mask likes to make me think it will take waaay too much time to make the internal shift. (It doesn’t – it is a breath and intention of love.) My Over-Giver mask likes to make me think the world might end if I don’t do every to-do on my very long list. (It won’t – many a day I haven’t checked off everything and we are all still here!) My Perfectionista mask wants me to triple then quadruple check my work (including this blog post for any possible grammatical or spelling errors!).
To Be Sure…
I am not, nor have I ever advocated flirting at work. Interestingly, it was when I wasn’t breathing into love that I lived #MeToo and #TimesUp. The technique I share below is not about sex or sex appeal. It is about allowing a love of self, a love of what you do, a love for life to infuse you. When we middle-aged women let our love flow, we live more passionately and move from that cultural invisibility into vibrant visibility.
Keep It Simple!
Start simply. Wherever you are sit up a little straighter, shoulders back to open your chest, feet on the floor and hands gently resting in an open position in your lap. Breathe in slowly through your nose while thinking the word love. Imagine love spreading throughout your body as you exhale. Usually, by the third repetition of love-breathing, my COOC mask is resting happily in the corner and my other masks are snoozing in the file cabinet.
Go ahead – practice love-breathing right now! Notice what happens inside of you as you inhale to the thought of love and allow love’s energy to expand throughout your body as you exhale. Notice what body sensations are present or shifts in posture occur as you open up your love flow. That’s it – simply practice and notice. And then practice this technique out in the world! Choose a formal meeting or an informal get-together to practice being visible in your love flow.
Please share in the comments below your results of love-breathing! If you’d like some support in upping your middle-aged visibility, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and consider attending my annual Authenticity Advantage retreat this fall! (I’m nailing down all the details this week!)
Love and Light,