First Impressions – Helping teens/adults enhance their best self.
Sebastopol resident Deborah Shemesh helps young people become beautiful from the inside out. Shemesh is a Chopra Certified Yoga and Primordial Sound Meditation Instructor with a history in business, image consulting and styling. As a former professional model with a background in drama who graced the Eagle’s “Hotel California” songbook mirroring the lyrics of Hotel California as well as Victim of Love, she not only became a sought after editorial model, a photographers model and a TV spokeswoman.
Deborah suffers at times from complications from stage four malignant melanoma, the severest form of skin cancer that has spread throughout her body. Two-thirds of her stomach have been removed along with both her ovaries, gallbladder, with countless surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Every several months she goes to the hospital for lab work, ex-rays and takes hundreds of dollars worth of medications both holistic and western to live.
Regardless of her condition she is passionate about teaching her students of all ages how to embrace the beauty of their soul and develop their passions in living. Shemesh uses her experience as a professional model and cancer survivor to teach her students to put their best selves forward and reach out to others. In return some of her students make donations to Palm Drive Hospital for her cancer treatment, or to the local treatment centers for her medical maintenance that is not covered by Medicare.
She affectionately calls the students in her First Impression classes she started teaching in January, 1998 “my diamonds in the rough.” Before she works with anyone, Shemesh said she gets to know the person from the inside and encourages her students to get to know themselves through journal writing, and self-evaluation, ethical alignment, and social structuring.
“My survival is based on how I’m feeling” said Shemesh. ”I get in touch with my feelings by writing a lot. Before students make any changes, I ask my students to get in touch with their feelings.” Deborah believes that all feelings are connected to their present environment, in school, at homes, and in social situations and teaches them that emotions are generally connected to past experiences. To overcome the emotional turmoils of hormonal activity, Deborah helps students to identify the differences.
Students learn the Five A’s which are attitude, awareness, acceptance, approach and when ready, we work on their appearance. If I were to teach the other way around, which I have done, the focus becomes all about external beauty and that is not what I’m going for. I want to teach students how to shine form the inside out, and polish their best self, enhance their skills, while developing new ones. I teach the students about body language, manners, nutrition, fitness, fashion coordination, and makeup is the icing on the cake.
Fifteen-year-old Shannon Shaffer came to Deborah when she needed help preparing for a beauty pageant in July 1998. She started with Shannon’s best colors, posturing and stance. Shannon, who has had two different operations for a lazy eye, was self-conscious. Shemesh taught her protege how to play up her best features and lesson the weaker ones, gain self-confidence, and present herself in a positive way. During a recent class, Shannon, with a big smile on her face, playfully modeled one of the runway moves she had been taught, the toe to the heal walk with hips extended forward.
Through the West Country Community Services, New Ways Workers and various other programs that connects students with the workplace, Shemesh has been working with girls and boys in a classroom setting of 6-8 students at a time, or semi-privately; it’s all about their comfort level. She helps them improve their appearances for job interviews and other social situations in which they want to make a strong first impression.
“They need to know their colors, how to cut their hair,” said Shemesh. I have to gracefully move them into color schemes and styles that enhance, not detract from their natural talents and good looks. Deborah talks with the students about how to make everything in their lives successful from school, to work, to achieving goals.
One of her students, Janeen McAbata, wanted to sing. Shemesh met Janeen when she was 16 through the academy at Analy High School, which is affiliated with New Ways Workers. She started off teaching her fashion with design and they built a friendship. One Sunday, Janeen went to church service with Shemesh. When Janeen began to sing, “I heard this incredible voice,” said Shemesh. ”I asked Janeen, “Where have you been hiding your talented voice?” Soon afterwards, Shemesh and Janeen went to Sebastopol’s Coffee Catz cabaret for Thursday open mike night and Janeen sang Monica’s “Angel of Mine” and TLC’s “No Scrub.”
“I was terrified at first,” said Janeen, “but after my first song, and remembering all that I had learned from Deborah, I was more comfortable. After the second song, I wanted to sing again.” One of Janeen’s idols is Mariah Carey, “The Phantom of the Opera” is her favorite musical.
“Two of the main things I taught her was to make sure she expresses what she feels while singing the words of the song,” said Shemesh. Shemesh also met Onica Rose through the academy program at Analy High School. While the two were working together towards Onica’s goals of a photo shoot, they too became friends. ”Onica is very versatile and adaptable to different situations and people, but she was hiding her beauty underneath a little hat,” said Shemesh.
Onica read the First Impressions books out loud to work on her voice projection. ”One thing I have learned is that you have to start from the inside and work your way out,” said Onica then 17. ”I learned, that you have to be emotionally stable and have self-esteem.”
Kerry Craig Fugett, 12, said she thought it would be fun to learn modeling and etiquette. She spends much of her time horseback riding and participated in several First Impression programs to fill her time. Kerry learned how to sit, how to enter and exist a room properly, which forks to use in formal settings, different types of pivots and runway walking, as well as applying professional photography and day makeup. Kerry was featured on a KFTY-TV 50 morning show, participated in a local fashion show with a few of her other First Impression students and they trail blazed a path to discovering their highest goals and dreams.
Boys too, learn proper manners and how to impress a girl on a date, and to make eye contact with people. Shake hands, give your best smile to impress, take your hat off, and open the door for your ladies. Deborah said that some come to First Impressions only to learn the social graces, others come to learn how to improve their social skills, or learn modeling. Whatever your reason, Deborah is here to share her wealth of experience behind the camera, as well as in front of the camera.
For more information on scheduling your next workshop, please visit the First Impression link, and know that partial scholarships are available, we learn to let nothing stand in our way, not disease, not braces, nor upbringing or social status. All my clients since 1998, have turned into beautiful, creative, productive people in today’s society, each has a unique success story and working with these students have added incredible value to my life. I am a proud and honored mentor.
From Sonoma West Times and News-Discoveries, written by Patty McAlpin
Awakening Healthy Chakras in Children
Hope for a better future depends on raising children without the traumas and abuses that plague so many families. I believe we lie the foundation of worry and anxiety in our children at a very early age. Though parents are well-meaning, our children separate from their soul at a very tender age when we well intentioned parents share our financial worries, or carry wounds that have been passed on through family and culture for many generations. We teach our children what “could” happen to them if they speak with strangers, don’t conform, and punish them without explanation. Very rarely do we tell our children that the world is their oyster, and that everything and anything they desire they can manifest. We caution them not to dream too big, or step out of their comfort zone.
Today’s children need intelligent guidance that supports their growth and integration in body, mind, and spirit. Finding spiritual and creative venue’s will empower our children in a way that honors the different stages of a child’s life. Schools educate the mind, but suppress the body’s natural urge to run and play. Teach your children from the start that they are special, unique, intelligent, creative and to honor and develop their natural talents whether its playing ball, surfing, singing, coloring, cooking, dancing, or taking things apart. Support children in all dimensions of their experience–physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and support them in ways that are appropriate for their current level of development.
Chakra One – From the womb to 1 years old. Use sounds, touch, smells, to enhance their awakening.
Promote embodiment to help you child come fully into her body. Frequent touch, holding, carrying, nurturing, and attendance to their physical needs cannot be stressed enough. Holding teaches her to hold herself. Playing with your child helps her develop motor coordination. Establish trust by allowing attachment and bonding, be as consistent as possible during the first year as a ground for the child. This means picking her up when she cries, cuddling, talking to her, and protecting her from hunger, cold, or discomfort. Allowing this attachment to occur helps the child become more independent later. Consistency of presence during infancy helps to reconcile the confusion of trust vs. mistrust in a way that brings hope and confidence. Knowing that the parent is always there allows the child to relax into the development that needs to occur.
Studies have shown that the emotional state of the mother and family is more important than the financial state, this also applies to the state of preconception, and the emotional health of both parents pre-pregnancy. Give lovingly and refrain from harmful substances such as smoking, or drinking too much before inception. Think of your womb as the soil in which the embryo grows, and make sure the man is taking good care of his body, his sperm provides nourishment as well, and give your child a healthy start. Be careful of your exterior environment, as well as your internal environment.
Chakra Two – Toddlers and Development – Offer visual tools, hands on expression, routines.
Your child is exploring the world through his senses. This is the main mode of experience right now. It is important to provide colors, and sounds, touch and pleasure through play, and a safe environment to explore. Your voice and attention are a major part of the sensate experience. Find safe places where your child can crawl and walk about, where he can run, roll around and learn to use his body in its new found joy of movement. This is not the time for a playpen, and if you use one, use it only for short periods of time.
Allow for separation and attachment by allowing your child to move away and come back without guilt or shame as your child in now in the hatching stage. It will be scary in the beginning for both the child and the parent but with consistency, your child’s sense of trust will be reinforced. Reflect your child’s emotional language. Mirror his feelings, and be responsive when he cries and expressions his rage, fear. Don’t punish him for his emotions, he can’t help what he feels. Reflect words to show him you understand, “How sad you look right now!” Are you scared? Though he can’t speak very well yet, he is beginning to understand words by listening. Be aware of your own emotional needs and states, as well as the emotional “field” in the household. Children pick up our rage and fear, anxiety and joy. Take care of your needs as much as possible so your unresolved emotions are not projected onto the innocent child. Create a positive environment.
Chakra Three – Will and willingness. Remember sharing, non-judgment. Meditation replaces time out.
Try to support your child’s willfulness, by offering choices. You can say, “Do you want oatmeal, corn flakes, or eggs?” Give your child opportunities to feel willful in ways that are safe and appropriate. Encourage self-esteem by delighting in your child’s accomplishments and make her feel appreciated. By all means refrain from getting critical or overly frustrated by her awkward attempts to do simple things. Have patience, and use age appropriate puzzles and toys, that will foster a basic sense of confidence.
Rewards for successful behavior go father than punishments for mistakes, which only create shame. Find treats that can be given as reinforcers, as well as hugging, clapping and verbal appreciation. Your child cannot understand sophisticated reasoning, but simple cause and effect statements, like “Doggie bites!” can be understood. Severe punishment teaches aggressive behavior and fosters shame. Withdrawal of love puts the thirds and fourth chakras at odds, and stimulates the child’s insecurity and need for approval.
Chakra Four – Ages 4-7 Encourage creativity, exploration, social interaction. Meditation and independence, and pretend.
Pay attention to how you model relationships. Children at this age are learning about social roles by identification and imitations. This means your child will internalize your behavior as part of himself. If you are angry and aggressive you will teach him to be angry and aggressive in his relationship with himself and others. Model empathy and moral behavior, by explaining why you do certain things and refrain from others. Explain procedures such as, why we put gas in the car, and why we eat good foods. Routine can be very important. If routine is interrupted explain why. Find opportunities to foster friendships outside of your child’s school, involve him in extra curricular activities.
Chakra Five – Ages 7-12 - Share archetypes, recognize their independence, encourage insight. Encourage problem solving.
Be supportive in communication, help your child to use their vocabulary. Have long discussions about the nature of the world. Encourage her to ask questions and take time to answer them. Ask her questions about herself, her feelings and her friends. Be an attentive listener. Cognitive learning is enormous at this period. School is the major arena for learning and development of confidence. Show interest in your child’s studies. Help with homework, supply added information, share what you know. Get involved in school projects, and model good study habits. Give rewards for good performance. By all means, stimulate creativity. Success is the greatest motivator for developing competence. When your child presents you with something she has created, be sure to appreciate it. This teaches her that her creations have value, and supports her creative identity. Show the drawing to others; put it up on the refrigerator. Stimulate creativity with books and movies, concerts and plays. Model the creative thinking process by searching for new ways to do things, even if it’s something as mundane as setting the table.
Expose your child to the larger world. Take your child to new places, like a trip to the museum, street fairs, the zoo, a traveling vacation. Allowing exposure to different ways of life encourages her horizons to expand.
Chakra Six – Adolescence – Teach responsibility, involve them in social and environmental issues.
This is not a time to become controlling over details that are not of direct harm, such as hair, clothing, or harmless activities, such as listening to music. Respect his expression of individuality. Encourage his own thinking by asking questions rather than giving answers. Instead of telling him what you did when you were his age, ask what he might tell his son if he were a father. Allow your child to have more of his own life. Encourage ways he can earn his own money, take responsibility for more aspects of his life, such as buying and cleaning his clothes. Let him make some of his own mistakes. If he feels you believe in him, he will more likely behave responsibly.
Set clear boundaries. Adolescents nevertheless must have a clear and consistent sense of limits. As they are now old enough for sophisticated reasoning, it is important to include them in the thinking of consequences to choices.
Chakra Seven – Early adulthood – Encourage them to take a stance, hold onto value’s and ethics. Confidentiality is key.
Stimulate questioning – ask don’t tell. Teach your child to think through her own problems, with support, learning that there may be many answers to a single situation, this will provide open mindedness and non-judgment. Involving your child in intellectual discussions and asking for their opinion makes them feel that their thought processes are worthwhile.
Model conscious behavior, and share what you can as there is interest in spirituality. Do not force or impose your spiritual beliefs, expose them to other religions and explain why you have chosen your spiritual practice. Allow your child to research other cultures and styles of worship.
Provide opportunities for education. Learning is the way we feed our seventh chakra and keep our operating system up-to-date. Support learning in whatever way you can, weekend workshops, attending a local college and most importantly, teach your child to find the lessons in experience. Ask what she’s learning from different activities.
Let go, and let GOD. When it’s time for your young adult to leave home, support and celebrate their independence. It doesn’t help to hang on, nor push them out the door. As the parents withdraws control and attachment, the young person will naturally gravitate out into his or her own world.
A rule of thumb, there is never justification for parents to inflict upon their children sexual activity, physical or emotional shame or criticism. Don’t pass on abuse. Children need love and attention, time and approval. They need to be encouraged, not discouraged by fears imposed by adults or society. Children are the sacred beings of the future, they are the hope of humankind. Teach them to meditate, exercise, nourish their minds, body and spirit, and you will have a child or children who are receptive, filled with potentiality, healthy and happy.
This information can be woven into the same pattern for emotional and physical balance in all seven chakra’s for adults. For a quick review begin the recapitulation of your early life, recognize and witness all patterns of behavior and identify area’s that are the source of deep pain, sadness or other emotional anxiety. Identify the steps you can perform to alleviate and ameliorate the memory by expressing the feelings fully, releasing, and sharing, then celebrating your ability to provide everything that you need for yourself. You become the everlasting, ever changing, balanced expression and wheel “chakra” of life. Regardless of your age or stage in life, keep a dialogue with yourself, journal, dream big, aspire and desire, and remember that your vocabulary creates reality. Meditate regularly, live the life you want.
Seven simple steps for healthy chakras: Responsibility means you do not blame. Witnessing, means you do not judge. Identification helps you remove the source of pain, or remove yourself. Expression helps you create new boundaries. Releasing painful memories, allows you to describe and metabolize experiences. Share your experiences, don’t waste energy holding onto old, worn out memories and feelings, this causes disease. Finally, celebrate by channeling emotional healing by doing something that will benefit not only you, but the world. Do what you love and serve the universe by celebrating and sharing. Emotions take you into past experiences, feelings takes you into the present.
Support, Play, Create, Nurture, Guide and Step Aside,
Bibliography: Return to Wholeness; David Simon M.D., and Co-Founder Chopra Center University, Jennifer Mercuio Leen, Chopra Center University, Meditation for Childhood Health and Happiness, Sacred Center, 2006, and the chronicles of the life of Deborah M. Shemesh, proud parent and First Impressions Founder, hosting a place for the child in you.