February 2015 - Stephanie Dawn

Marilyn Monroe and Radical Self-Care: A Love Affair

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images-2Long before I met my husband and was married and there were babies in my life, I was an absolute teenage Marilyn Monroe fanatic. My love affair with her lasted into my 20s! Even now, in celebration of my 50th birthday, my dear Aunt Fanny gave me two books about Marilyn by photographer Andre de Dienes and I am loving them! To me, she was the height of feminine beauty. I read all about her in many books, purchased head shots of her when in downtown Vancouver memorabilia shops or while visiting Hollywood on family vacations, that I would then plaster all over my room.

And yet her story was so sad. Her early death seemed so senseless to me. For all of her glamour and talent, she was a deeply pained individual. She wanted a baby so badly, wanted a sustained relationship and mate and it never happened. She could turn on her glamorous Sex Goddess on the spot and could just as easily turn it off when she wanted to be incognito, so she was no dummy to how to deal with her fame. She was adored by millions around the world and yet, she ultimately died under suspicious circumstances, with a lot of drugs in her body.

I believe Marilyn never learned the art and practice of self-love.

Thankfully, in my late 20s and early 30s, I did.

It came in tandem with my spiritual studies, when I was studying to become an Agape practitioner and spiritual counselor. It came as I energized my relationship with myself/Spirit and recognized that in caring and loving for myself I was ‘glorifying the goddess’, in other words, God as me! I knew I would never be like Marilyn, nor did I want to be, but I could treat myself as a Goddess anyways.

My self-care took many forms before I had my family: eating food that made me feel good, taking myself to the movies, working out with a personal trainer, taking long bubble baths where I would read about God. I did what made me happy, in addition to all the other commitments that I had in my life. I carved out time for me. Deep inside I knew that these self-care rituals and this muscle that I was exercising would serve me well, as I knew the creation of my family was just around the corner and the one who would be caring for me the most, while raising a family, would still be me!

This cultivation of a loving relationship towards myself was years in the making. I certainly wasn’t taught this by any mentor in my life. It came part and parcel with my newfound understanding that my life was sacred, my body was sacred and the only one who could truly relate to it like that before anyone else would, was me.

This was a radical about face from how I had been in the past. For many years, I would say that I was spiritually bereft, with little to no understanding of God, no spiritual practice, and a very short supply of self-love. Like many, I had grown up being criticized by family members as being too dramatic, too sensitive, too this, too that, and so what happened is that I unconsciously came to think that there was something wrong with me. I wasn’t accepted for who I was so I learned to put on a smile even when I was hurting deeply inside.

This all came to light when I was in an acting class in my early 20s, and participating in an exercise on stage. I had memorized a scene as Marilyn Monroe and my teacher, Alex Bruhanski had me sit on stage in a chair next to another empty chair. He asked me to imagine that I was speaking to “little Stephanie” in the empty chair and I was to tell her all that she had to look forward to in her life. Well that started the floodgates immediately. I spoke to my past self about the difficulties she would endure and then at some point he had me go into my Marilyn monologue. Of course, it was some of the best, most honest work I had ever done on stage. There was just one problem. After my monologue I couldn’t stop crying. I grabbed my cigarettes (ha!) and ran outside with my friends trailing after me. One of my friends, Chai, walked with me for a bit and offered that I might want to consider counseling. I said something like “Counseling? I didn’t even know anything was wrong!”.

I was very very far away from myself and was completely oblivious to this fact. This began years of inquiry for me, and yes counseling, about life, the universe and everything. I believe I have surmounted a great deal of pain and misery brought about by “wrong thinking” about who I am/was, based on how others related to me and how I learned to relate to myself.

My radical practice of self-love became a daily opportunity to accept myself, warts and all, one day at a time. I have utilized prayer, meditation and other practices as I deepen my self-love walk. And of course I teach these things now. I also have learned the fine art of forgiveness in the process. I don’t believe you can have true self-love without forgiveness.

Last year I was humming along in my life, thinking that my self-care was going great and then I discovered that I had Candidiasis. I hadn’t a clue what it was or why it happened, but in sheer desperation this past fall, I learned quick! Essentially it’s caused by stress, too much sugar, white flour, caffeine and alcohol. None of which I thought I was doing in excess, but when I strung together a series of events; a move, a nasty fall that injured my shoulder badly, my Dad’s death, it all created the perfect fertile ground for a Candida overgrowth. I have since learned that approximately 70% of Americans are walking around with an overgrowth that manifests in a myriad of physical ways. If you think this might be you, this excellent program helped me.

Something else that has helped me along the way is to to say YES to that which I truly want to do and NO to that which I do not. As women, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with life, because we give and give and give. This can be really hard, learning how to say no, but it’s really necessary in the radical practice of self-love.

Life will happen, good times and bad. But the love in my heart for myself, for this sacred life and for those that I love is changeless. Oh and Marilyn’s beauty, that’s changeless too! Goddess bless you Marilyn for your light that continues to shine on!

Could you use a little radical self-love? In just a few weeks I will be co-hosting a day with my friend Myrriah Raimbault, Sacred Medicine Woman creator, with some beautiful women in Los Angeles where we will take a deep dive into practicing self-love. We will share the processes and practices we have learned and practice daily, we will play in the hot tub and pool, receive acupuncture and spiritual counseling and coaching and eat yummy food. You are invited to join us! There’s only 6 spots left! You can learn more here at this link.