Who defines me?

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Center Street Coaching
January, 2015
Center Street Coaching Newsletter


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1980….Shortly after I returned from my cosmetic art studies with Marvin Westmore, founder and director of the Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts in Los Angeles, I had an opportunity to speak at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Hospital Burn Unit on my new specialty, corrective (or para-medical) make-up.  I offered demonstrations of cosmetic techniques for camouflaging scars and discolorations and creating an “illusion of normalicy” to those burn survivors who were beyond the arduous physical recovery and working on the emotional recovery.
These clients who came to my studio for corrective make-up had suffered anguish and anger of the changes they were forced to endure. Most assuredly, they experienced tremendous emotional pain in that they could no long recognize their face as it had been.  But their self, the deepest part of their being did survive and learned to thrive, authentically with no illusions.
There were also many women who came to the studio referred by their plastic surgeon after undergoing voluntary, unnecessary cosmetic surgery and, as a result of error during the surgical procedure, the healing process of the patient, or the patient’s neglect of recovery procedures, they were left with permanent, disfiguring scars.  I have seen the desperation behind the disfigurement and the impact it had on their lives.
I want to acknowledge the medical profession.  Through deep concern for human suffering and through great dedication, physicians have developed surgical procedures and techniques for reconstruction of deformities as a result of accidents and war going back to WWI when plastic and reconstructive surgery was in its infancy.
Many women, however, view the process of aging as a deformity–as something not normal….as something that needs to be fixed through surgery.  And that it is viewed as such is a result of social attitudes often supported by media on all levels, brainwashing us into believing that it is not acceptable for a woman to allow herself to age physically and visibly, or to express her age in society.  This is a tragedy.  Rather than perpetuating the struggle for eternal youth, media needs to wake up to the undeniable fact that aging is inevitable and when a life is lived fully, a triumph.
I often sign off by writing, “that all I got!”  Not this time.  ”I got lots more”  If you are interested, you can go towww.sonomacouplesretreat.com and go to my blog.  I know, I know, this had nothing to do with relationships, marriage or couple-dom. I do digress from time to time.  Read on, please.

Center Street Coaching
              Sonoma Couples Retreat….
…..offer guidance and and support for the challenges life brings to you and your relationships.
When you are ready to make the changes needed to create a healthy and joy filled life, call me.
I can help, it’s what I do.


Marianne Harms, LCSW/CSW
Couple’s Coach/Life Coach
Center Street Coaching

735 Center Street

Sonoma CA  95476707.343.7285

Dear Reader:
I probably watch more television than I ought to.  It seems an easy way to turn off my brain, but, in truth, my brain may not be turned off….it may be absorbing, on many subliminal levels, information that could be of benefit….but often isn’t.
The good stuff on television is educational and there is a lot of it. There is the news which, while important to keep one in the know is best viewed in the morning, not at night before turning in.
Then there is really damaging stuff that has little redeeming value, social or otherwise.  It is often violent, provocative and disturbing.  Between the educational viewing and the “UGH” viewing there is entertainment that is clever, harmless and amusing.
However, the bigger brainwashing problem is that of advertising because, no matter how entertaining or educational your choices may be, you can not get away from advertising.  So now I’m fascinated with the psychology behind advertising….advertising of stuff done with subliminal or not-so-subliminal messages that define our values and norms without our awareness.   By the end of the night of watching television, one could be convinced that they can no longer get along without the kitchen gadget, the facial gadget, or the myriad of stuff we begin to believe we need. Life insurance….no questions asked, instant money in your checking account as if it is free, rebates that feel like you’re actually saving money. a diet potion or an anti-aging cream that will make you more lovable and profoundly happy….all of which carries us down a slippery slope.
It’s just a good thing I’m one step ahead of the media moguls and advertising geniuses and here’s one reason why…..

As you peruse a fashion magazine, perhaps one for which you paid $7, notice that a generous three quarters of it is a catalog of advertisers selling fantasies and dreams. The selling tool is youth, sex, beauty and wealth. These dreams of luxury, glamour and Eros are delivered to you with tremendous impact and with a sense of authority.  When these messages are delivered daily on television, with at least 35% of the hour long show devoted to advertising, they are all the more impactful.
It is interesting to note that the majority of media companies (both printed and electronically delivered) in America are owned by only 5 powerful corporations. This a sort of central intelligence that determines the peoples’ truths and realities. In addition, these media corporations are linked with other industries through common financial interests which are the ultimate motivation to impose a mighty influence on this society. And, collectively, members of this society will accept these corporate truths as fact without regard to the well-being of the individual.
The message, created through the genius of Madison Avenue advertising agencies and backed by multi-billion dollar advertising budgets, is that glamour and luxury happens to beautiful people and to be beautiful is to have all of the above. This forceful barrage of ideas directed by media to the public is partly responsible for some of our misguided values and misdirected attitudes. It stands to reason, therefore, that with genius and dollars churning out tons of copy, you will get the message. Allowing ourselves to get caught up in the momentum of advertising can prevent us from seeing the real beauty in our life. Frozen images, airbrushed and arranged, become the yardstick with which we measure our own reality. A sense of import is attached to the urgent desire to replicate the impossible dream.

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