Gratitude is the New Sexy!

“If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
 — Oprah Winfrey

You are beautiful

What do you think would happen if you shifted every negative thought and belief about your body into genuine gratitude? Think about that for a minute. Can you imagine it? Have you accomplished it already? Having been there/done that, I can assure you that doing so can brighten your entire world.

This week on Girl Boner Radio, I shared one of my personal experiences overcoming body hate through gratitude and a fabulous chat with Millana Snow, a Top Model-winner, actress and entrepreneur who’s made it her mission in life to cultivate positivity through manifesting gratitude and connecting with others.  I also read Girl Boner fans’ and Facebook friends’ responses to the question, “What about your body are you grateful for?” All so inspiring!

To listen, check out the iTunes link down below. First, here are just some of the SEXY benefits of grateful living.

Gratitude is a super power that…

….boosts self-care. When we embrace and respect our bodies, we take better care of them. We don’t brutalize them with risky diets, excessive processed foods or weight loss products or skip our annual physical exams. We treat our bodies as we want to be treated: as worthy and lovable.

…makes us healthier. In addition to other benefits, research shows that grateful living lowers our risk for common infections and chronic disease. It’s like soul echinacea, only stronger.

…makes us lovelier. When we cherish our bodies, we’re better able to live full, authentic lives. That invites mega happiness, which radiates outward, making us appear more beautiful to ourselves and others.

…stimulates more satisfying sex! If we’re lying in bed, criticizing the shape or size of our abdomen or thighs, we’re not likely to feel aroused sexually. If we aren’t grateful for our partner’s affection and physicality, we experience the kind of mind-blowing intimacy that makes sex orgasmic and then some.

…makes for happier relationships. If we aren’t grateful ourselves and our partner(s), we’re likely to get caught up in negativity. Less stress and more positivity makes us more joyous to be around. And much like negativity, it’s contagious. Next time you feel agitated toward yourself or your partner, consider counting your blessings instead.

For more on sexy gratitude and to listen my chat with the magnificent Millana Snow, visit this link on iTunes: Sexy Gratitude.

Millana Snow quote

What are YOU thankful for about your body? What about your sexuality? Any sexy affirmations to share with Millana and me? We’d love to hear your thoughts! 

It’s Time to Give #BodyThanks!

Next week, people across the country will be gathering together with loved ones to delight in decadent feasts and say thanks for the many blessings at their lives’ tables. If only all of the metaphorical dishes were pleasurable…

For many Americans, guilt and food-related stress overpower what's most important.

For many Americans, food and body-related stress overpowers what matters most during the holidays—but it doesn’t have to!

Amid the festivities, countless individuals will have stress-inducing thoughts of high-calorie sugarplums and compensatory workouts dancing chaotically in their heads. Overindulgence causes one-third of holiday stress, according to Mental Health America, and an estimated 90 percent of women (and many men) are dissatisfied with their shape or size, making feast enjoying difficult. My fabulous friend, Pauline Campos, creator of Girl Body Pride and advice columnist for Latina Magazine, and I have decided to set a happier tone this Thanksgiving by hosting a #BodyThanks Twitter party on Monday, November 25th from 6 – 7pm PST.

In addition to our wacky word-loving work styles and passion for all-things-empowerment, Pauline and I share a special bond: we’ve both endured serious eating disorders and have since evolved into stronger, more fulfilled (okay, and louder! ;)) women. Our shared message that bodies are meant to be EMBRACED is fun, but it’s also important; we believe that a shift from body shunning to gratitude could help change or even save a few lives. But we can’t do it alone.

Our Mission:

It’s our hope that by partying Twitter-style on Monday, the kickoff to Thanksgiving week, participants suffering from body or food-related angst will enjoy Thanksgiving with less negativity and a heck of lot more joy. Whether you have mild, moderate or significant body image issues, chances are chatting with a gaggle of gratitude-celebrating friends can add light to your week. We hope you’ll join us!

body image party

What you can expect:

  • Stimulating chit chat and question prompts
  • Fun contests with PRIZES!
  • Engagement with special guests, including Emme, the supermodel, and Andy Lyons, radio show host and Chief Passion Curator of Bring Back Desire
  • Silliness (It’s bound to happen!)
  • And there may just be a little after-party for those who linger… 😉
A sneak peek at a few prizes!

A sneak peek at a few prizes!

For more information on Monday’s event and your friendly hostesses, visit our #BodyThanks Facebook event page, Tweet us (@AugstMcLaughlin @Pauline_Campos #BodyThanks) and check out Pauline’s fantastic blog post: Honoring Ourselves with #BodyThanks. We can’t wait to party with you all soon! 

Will you be joining us? How do you stay peaceful and stress-free throughout the holidays? Any tips for bypassing food or body image-related difficulties? I hope you know that your comments rock my world. 

LSR #8: Active Gratitude

One lesson my near six months of blogging has taught me is this:  When my palms sweat and my heartbeat quickens, I’ve probably come upon a post-worthy topic—something that will resonate with, inspire or entertain people in some way. Sharing my personal story last week was no exception. Your warm, heartbreaking and even humorous responses inspired so many chills, I wondered if I’d end up with permanent chicken skin. And you know what? I would’ve worn it with pride.

Thank you with all of my heart!

It seems only reasonable that I jump to #8 in my Lifesaving Resolutions series to what I call active, or proactive, gratitude—a technique that’s helped lift my spirits in countless frustrating situations, from bumpy patches on the road to recovery to harsh literary feedback. I hope you find it as kick-butt-awesome as I do. 😉

grat·i·tude /noun: a feeling of appreciation or thanks —Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Active gratitude involves acting upon these feelings. You know that saying, “Action speaks louder than words?” Well it’s particularly powerful in gratitude matters.

While a grateful person sees a glass as half full and an ungrateful person deems it half empty, an actively grateful person savors the beverage, thanks the preparer and goes on to share the drink with others. 

Active gratitude is also reactive.

On happy days, our blessings seem like lit up billboards in our brains: I love my life! What gorgeous weather! Yeahoo—I’m out of debt! PMS = over! Active gratitude often follows automatically. We smile, observe positivity in others and do good deeds with natural ease. Why? Because happy, grateful people tend to take better care of themselves and others.

In fact, research conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, a grateful mindset is associated with improved physical health, reduced anxiety and depression, sounder sleep and kinder behavior toward others. (Talk about awesome frosting.)

But we can’t very well activate gratitude if we don’t have any, right? Enter my favorite use of the technique:

On difficult days, we can easily turn inward, fixate on our gloom and throw a nonstop pity-party that does little but make us, and those around us, feel worse. By making the decision to cultivate gratitude and act upon it, the yuck-snowball can boomerang in the opposite direction, turning the nasty grayish ice clumps into sunny warmth. (Ahh…)

Simple Ways to Activate Gratitude:

Commit to a grateful mindset. For practical, entertaining insight on doing so, check out Kristen Lamb’s fantastic post: An Attitude of Gratitude.

Keep a gratitude journal. Simply jotting down your “I’m thankful for” list tends to cultivate grateful living. To take it many steps further, choose an item from your list to act upon each day, week or whenever the blahs set in.

Grateful for the fantastic book you’ve just read? Post a 5-star review on or blog about its awesomeness. Better yet, do both.

Grateful for your health? Schedule that annual physical you’ve been dismissing. Stock up on fruits and veggies. Go for a walk.

Grateful for your significant other? Sneak a love note into his or her work gear. Plan a spontaneous date. Complete a household chore they loathe doing.

Grateful for supportive blogging friends? Post thoughtful comments on their posts. Share links to their blogs via your own blog, email, Facebook and Twitter.

Stressed over finances? Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Donate “junk” from your closet to your local thrift store. Give food or spare change to a homeless person.

Crushed over a rejection letter? Write thank you letters to your loved ones or to your inner child/creativity/writing self. Read to a child or grandparent.

Feeling PMS-ey? Take a loved one who “gets it” out for coffee or, who am I kidding, ICE CREAM. 😉 Cry your eyes out while you’re at it. It’s healthy.

Hungry for more?? Check out these fabulous posts by some of my favorite bloggers:

Julie Hedlund’s tribute to her daughter: Gratitude Sunday 68
Tameri Etherton’s creative pursuit of honing a grateful attitude: New Year’s Resolutions
Piper Bayard’s commemoration of heros from 9/11: We Drank Champagne and Remembered

***My own gratitude inspired the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest, which is coming up February 9th and 10th. If you’d like to participate as a blogger or prize donor, click here.

What are you particularly grateful for this week? How do you plan to express it? Any fab suggestions to add? I love hearing from you.

Making Light of a Bum Situation

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I may be in, therein, to be content. ~ Helen Keller

For the first hour, I didn’t notice the power outage that affected me and over 5 million other Los Angeleans yesterday. I was writing away with sunshine flooding the room, grateful that the 70+ mile-per-hour winds had subsided. Once it struck me, I felt like a dental patient. Dr. Tooth says, “Don’t swallow,” inspiring beast-like urges to gulp. Suddenly I longed for all-things-electronic. Surf the web, watch TV, scan photos, vacuum—you name it. We humans are nothing if not contrary…

Then I recalled a vow my hubby and I made last year after watching Little House on the Prairie Christmas: The Christmas They Never Forgot. We’d have routine “Ingalls nights.” We’d don overalls and braid our, okay my, hair, dine on homemade stew by candlelight and tell stories, sing songs and strum guitars (the next best thing to Pa’s fiddle) into the wee hours. Anything could go, except electricity. Our plans never came into fruition…until last night.

By the time Hubby arrived home, Christmas decor was out and our candlelit house smelled of “holiday peppermint” and “cinnamon spice.” We ate Raisin Bran and PBJs rather than stew and maintained our modern attire, but the overall feeling was right. Rather than ache over the “low battery” sign on my laptop, lack of internet connection or blacked out TV, I felt relieved. We were safe and sound in a cozy place that felt a lot like Christmas.

When the power came back on about an hour later, we decided against watching TV. (Why mess with tranquility?) Though I’m more grateful than ever for technology, I foresee many intentional Ingalls-style nights in the future…

What have power outages taught you? Do you tend to make the most out of bum situations or do you morph into Scrooge? 😉

Famous Authors on Thanksgiving & Your ‘Very Own’ Cup

Grateful people live longer, take better care of themselves and endure hardship with greater ease compared to less grateful folks, according to numerous studies. Though I’m not aware of research supporting this, I also believe that grateful people pursue work and hobbies they love.

So…unless you write for fame and fortune alone ;), you are probably among the most grateful. If you have difficulty feeling grateful, or simply want an extra dose, watch this clip from “Little House on the Prairie.” I tear up every time!



For more simple ways to cultivate gratitude, visit my recent post, Grumpy to Gracious.


Here’s what some of our founding mothers and fathers of literature as well as modern day authors have to say about giving thanks:


“I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy.”
– Anne Frank


“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.” – Ernest Hemingway


“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” – Oscar Wilde


“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire


“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)


“O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”
– William Shakespeare


“Each day offers us the gift of being a special occasion if we can simply learn that as well as giving it is blessed to receive with grace and a grateful heart.”- Sarah Ban Breathnach


“Love your body the way it is and feel grateful towards it. Most importantly, in order to find real happiness, you must learn to love yourself for the totality of who you are and not just what you look like.” ― Portia de Rossi, Unbearable Lightness


“Appreciating the genius in others attracts high levels of competent energy to you. By seeing and celebrating the creative genius, you open a channel within yourself for receiving the creative energy from the field of intention.”  – Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention


“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”


May you have the BEST Thanksgiving – if you celebrate it, a mindful feast and a fabulous, gratitude-filled weekend!


What about you? What are you most looking forward to this weekend? What are you particularly grateful for? When you want to feel grateful but don’t, what do you do?


Mindful Eating and Maya Angelou

Earlier this year, I had the honor of interviewing Maya Angelou about her new cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long. To say I look up to the woman is about as accurate as saying Minnesota is ‘sort of’ cold in December—a major understatement. As I considered what to post this Thanksgiving week, nothing seemed more appropriate than sharing her insight. Angelou approaches conversations with strangers, even so-nervous-they-could-pee-on-the-floor journalists ;), food, cooking and daily life with incredible poignance, dignity and grace. With food, family gatherings and feasting upon us, we can all stand to take a few tips.

Joy, Patience and Hot Dogs: Cooking with Maya Angelou
By August McLaughlin (Originally published by EHow Food)

Photo: Steve Exum/Getty Images

It should come as no surprise that one of the most influential voices of contemporary literature brings poise, intention and palpable joy to her kitchen. Dr. Maya Angelou, the 82-year-old renaissance woman known for her dramatic prose, activism and passion for the arts, history, education and civil rights, has had a lifelong love affair with all things culinary.

“I’m a serious cook,” she said. “I love to plan the food. I enjoy the cooking of it. And I will plan the whole meal while I’m in my bathtub.”


Angelou’s food fervor met challenges when a medical exam revealed serious risks for hypertension and diabetes. She had to lose weight. Her first attempt at healthy eating involved replacing decadent ingredients with low-calorie alternatives.

“But I was starving!” she said. “So I decided to cook the way I always cook, just not eat as much. I gave myself my word that I would not have seconds. It’s the most wonderful thing, you know, when you give yourself your word in private — secretly. You feel like a ninny if you go back on it because you’ve been there all the while.”

She prepared and ate every recipe in her latest cookbook, “Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart,” and relished every bite. Meanwhile, her weight-related health concerns diminished.

Simply paging through her cookbook is enough to push your salivary glands into overdrive. Recipes such as chicken tetrazzini, barbecued spare ribs, pumpkin soup and “all day and all night” cornbread are interwoven with heart-warming stories and personal insight. In her typical way, Angelou draws you into not only her kitchen, but her life.

Abandoning Rules

Rather than abide by diet rules, Angelou recommends listening to and fulfilling your cravings. If your taste buds are screaming for fried chicken and you sit down to a T-bone steak, you’re liable to eat the entire steak — and perhaps seconds.

“It’s because your taste buds haven’t been satisfied,” she said. “If you can get what you really want, cook it the way you want it cooked, five or six spoonfuls or forkfuls can hold you. Then you can say, ‘I’ll come back to this in two or three hours. But right now, that’s exactly what I want.'”

In her book, Angelou observes that people often keep eating long after they’re full. “I think they are searching in their plates not for a myth, but for a taste, which seems to elude them,” she writes.

For this reason, her recipes aren’t divided into meal-specific categories, but instead organized by themes like “A Brand-New Look at Old Leftovers” and “Waking up the Taste Buds.” The result? A cookbook geared toward fulfilling moment-to-moment cravings, rather than following the established mealtime norms. Have fried rice for breakfast, if you want, or her omelet with spinach for dinner. All bets are off.

Seeking Pleasure

One of Angelou’s most beloved culinary experiences involves a youth favorite: the “simple everyday” hot dog. However, she’s developed a version for a grown up palate. Angelou tops a grilled, Hebrew International hot dog with her homemade chili. “Then I get a cold, frozen beer stein out of the freezer and open a wonderful freezing bottle of Corona beer. It doesn’t get much better than that,” she said.

Patience, Angelou believes, is a significant ingredient lacking in Americans’ diets. “Our children, for the most part, have their major meals at counters and various places where they eat standing,” she said. “I encourage people to sit down. Have some patience with themselves.”

To this end, she suggests planning meals beforehand to avoid stressful rushing around while cooking. Sit down to enjoy meals in a peaceful, pleasing atmosphere. And don’t reserve your best dishes, silverware or food for guests.

“I serve myself with the best I have,” she said. “I make a pretty table. There are some white roses on my table right now. I’m looking at them. And I’m having a nice glass of pre-lunch, good white wine… Pretty soon my assistant and I will have a great, sort of a chef salad, served with English biscuits.”

Because that’s precisely what she craved.


To view the original article, visit: Joy, Patience and Hot Dogs: Cooking with Maya Angelou. (You’ll also get her recipe for Chili Guy, a scrumptious dish named after her son.)


Simple Ways to Eat More Mindfully
Most of us eat way too fast, while paying little attention to what we’re eating, how much or why. (“Where did my fries go?!” You know you’ve been there… ;)) Eating mindfully, with awareness of our bodies, emotions and food, promotes physical and emotional wellness. It also facilitates gratitude. Rather than focus on calories, TV, guilt or holiday stress this season, I invite you to slow it down, pay attention and say, with sincerity, “Thanks!”

  • Set your fork down between bites.
  • Eat sitting down at a table, no in front of your TV or worse, standing in front of your fridge.
  • Before eating, take a moment to observe the smells, colors and overall presentation of the food.
  • Cook! Preparing dishes automatically promotes mindfulness; you’re involved in the process and understand the effort required.
  • Cut back on mealtime distractions, such as your cell phone, laptop, TV, radio, newspaper, etc.
  • Create a pleasurable dining atmosphere. (As Dr. Angelou says, don’t reserve your best dinnerware for guests-only!)
  • Shop at your local farmers market.
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen, Meals on Wheels or local shelter.
  • Rather than view food in terms of calories or fat grams, consider what foods and nutrients do for your body…and the pleasure food brings.
  • Eat with chopsticks. Unless you’re a pro, this slows you down. (Your relatives might shoot you funny looks as you pick turkey and stuffing up with chopsticks…Then again, doesn’t that make it more fun?? ;))
  • Say a prayer of gratitude, religious or not, before meals.

So what do you say? Will you invite mindfulness to your next feast? How has Maya Angelou influenced you in your life? Your writing?

Books I’m Crazy Grateful For

Books are many writers’ closest friends. It’s one reason we feel so compelled to write them. With Thanksgiving soon upon us, I decided to share a few books I’m CRAZY grateful for. I’m not sure my life would be the same without them…

I first read A CRY IN THE NIGHT by Mary Higgins Clark during the fifth grade, mostly tucked away in my loft bed with a bowl of Doritos. 😉 As Jenny MacPartland was swept off her feet by a talented, mysterious artist, so was I. As she discovered horrifying truths that threatened her life, I felt my own life being threatened. Great books take us out of our lives and into others.’ This book taught me that. And nothing had captivated me in such a way before. It marked the beginning of a ‘real life’ love affair—with mysteries, thrillers and suspense.

If Jenny MacPartland had THE GIFT OF FEAR by Gaven de Becker, there wouldn’t have been a book. De Becker is the leading expert on instincts, survival and violent behavior. His book features people who could have died at the hands of attackers, but didn’t. And whether they realized it or not, their fear helped save them. When I sense that someone’s following me, I now turn to look rather than dart away. I look suspicious people in the eye, observe their appearance. I know what to scream if I need to. And I won’t step into an elevator with someone who gives me the creeps. I may never know how much THE GIFT OF FEAR has helped me, which is perfectly fine by me! I recommend it to EVERYONE, particularly women. It’s an empowering book you’ll want to read time and again.

Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY had me in tears on the elliptical when I first began reading it. A passerby said, “If it’s so bad, you can stop.” I would’ve laughed at the workout angst joke, but I was too intrigued by the words before me. At the time, I was at a crux in my relationship and career and had no clue what to do. The ARTIST’S WAY is one of those books that feels like it was written for you. “How did you know that?” I kept wanting to ask. And like DeBecker, Cameron’s insight helped me help myself and has stayed with me since. The ‘morning pages’ exercise, free-writing three pages promptly upon walking, revealed answers I’d been seeking.

“I have an agent, so now what do I do?” This question led me to Kristen Lamb’s, ARE YOU THERE, BLOG? IT’S ME, WRITER. The web is overloaded with information for people who want to write a book, represent themselves or seek agents. But once you have one…not so much. An author friend said to “just keep writing. The agent does the rest now.” That didn’t feel right. I plugged random words and phrases into and came upon the title that to this DAY makes me laugh. It says so much and in such a funny, fun-loving way…Much like the whole book. It changed the way I view social media and life as a writer in hugely positive ways. If you haven’t read it (or WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, also by Lamb), joined Kristen’s blog or the #MyWANA Twitter conversation, get out from under that rock! Er, I mean… It would be in your best interest to check them out. 😉
What books top your Crazy-Grateful-For list??? You know I love hearing from you. (A blessing I count often! ;))

Grumpy to Gracious

Q: What do you call a grumpy cow?

A: Moo-dy

Like many artists, I do my best to embrace all emotions. Yesterday, it was not so easy…

I woke up feeling gruuumpy. If I could have, I would’ve crawled into Oscar’s trash pad with Slimy and hidden away for a while. (At the time it seemed like only a cute little orange worm with miniature belongings could cheer me up.) But I couldn’t. I had to drive through heavy rain and traffic, between drivers who seemed to have lost their driving capabilities with the sun, to teach a class—rather than laze around or write to the cozy backdrop—where my grumpiness could not…or, at least should not, show. Blech.

To make matters worse, I felt guilty for feeling so darn grumpy. What right did I have? I have super-nifty people in my life. I love my work. I’m healthy. I have food, shelter, safety…the list goes on. But ARGH!!! I still felt grumpy.

As I pulled into park, hyper-analyzing my emotions as we introspective-folks tend to do ;), the study I sited in my last post popped into my head. It showed that keeping a gratitude journal can increase a person’s happiness by 25 percent. That would bring me to about…moderate grumpiness; only one foot in Oscar’s can. I had time, so figured what the heck? 

What happened next astonished me. I filled a page with big, scrawly words and phrases. My new niece, my bull dog, a sweet text message I’d received… And I swear, the fog lifted. (Metaphorically speaking.) I wasn’t happy-slappy ready-to-dance, mind you, but the tenseness in my shoulders eased up. The near-tears in my eyes dissipated. And a subtle warmth spread through my body, ensuring me that “everything’s gonna be okay.”

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

Respecting, feeling and exploring our emotions is key to creative growth and expression. (And yes, we “deserve” a whole range.) One way to manage negative feelings involves putting them in perspective. In order to attract more goodness into our lives, we should really learn to appreciate and accept what we have and where we’re at.

Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude:

  • Keep a gratitude journal. (I highly suggest one specifically for your car. ;)) If you don’t have a journal nearby in times of need, use the back of a receipt, a napkin—any write-friendly surface.
  • Say “thank you” often and mean it.
  • Do something kind for someone you’re grateful for, without their awareness of who did it.
  • Write and send thank you letters, emails and text messages regularly…or at least once per month. Studies have linked routine, hand-written thank you letters with long-lasting mood enhancements for the writers.
  • Have your family or a group of friends share what they’re grateful for at gatherings—and not just Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Support fellow writers’ and readers’ books, blogs and other projects by posting sincere comments, passing the word on or promoting them on your website.
  • Volunteer for Meals on Wheels, a soup kitchen or other organizations. (This is a great way to spend holidays.)
  • Make a “I’m grateful for…” list specific to a loved one. Send it to them with flowers, homemade cookies or a thoughtful card. Sing it to them if you wish. (If you’re not a great singer, it’ll be ultra-precious.)
  • Write a story or poem about an experience or person you’re grateful for.

The biggest benefits of gratitude come from regular practice, according to Robert Emmons—a leading gratitude researcher at the University of California at Davis. So make it a habit. The more we express gratitude, the happier we’ll feel, the more light we’ll bring to others and the less likely we’ll be to draw comparisons between ourselves and oh, say, grouchy Sesame St. characters… 😉

How do you express gratitude? What are you particularly grateful for today?