Paradoxi and Dichotomies…

There is so much advice to be had in the world.

Good advice and bad advice but if that was all there was to it, life wouldn’t be and feel so complex.  If life wasn’t so deep and multi-faceted, and after some reflection, you could probably fairly easily distinguish which advice is the true one for you in that moment.  But what about when two contradictory pieces of advice seem equally true.

 

We are supposed to be compassionate, but shouldn’t be pushovers.

We need to be understanding of others, but we know we need to take a stand for ourselves and our own beliefs.

We are supposed to be in charge, but also live and let live.

Live and learn.  But design your life.

Be a great listener.  Speak up.

Don’t be a glutton.  Enjoy what life has to offer.

Clean up after yourself.  Don’t waste your time on household chore s– take on bigger things and hire a maid.

Life is short.  Time is all you have.

Don’t take on too much.  Don’t play small.

Stand by your man.  Be a liberated woman.

Be sensitive.  Be a man.

 

How to navigate all of these pieces without losing your mind?

To not get lost amongst it all, I wonder if we shouldn’t look at the word “should”.  Anywhere we are “shoulding it” might be the piece to let go of.

One dictionary definition of the word “should” refers to conditionality.

And that is exactly how it feels.  There is this thing you “should” do, or else…

(something quite undesirable happens).

 

This is not to say that we should (!) live to avoid all responsibility or anything that remotely could be painful.  Rather that we make the choice of what we do with both our hearts and our minds, as a “should” seems to be mostly a decision of the mind.

 

I am reading a book where the emotional mind is likened to an elephant and the rational mind its rider.  The rational mind sets the path and the direction while the emotional mind provides the energy to move them both forward.  However, if the emotional mind refuses to do something, it simply casts the rider off.  Conversely, if the rider ignores the needs of the elephant, the path ahead will be a very dry and lifeless one.

 

See if you can balance the two.

And stay out of the “should” forest.

 

Write back and let me know your thoughts.

 

Love,

Jo

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Same or Are You Different?

Everyone is searching for happiness.

This way, we are all the same.

Whether you believed the world was ending on May 21st or not.

“Sama sama” it is called in Sanskrit.  Same same.

It is certainly a better vantage point than, we’re different.

One dictionary definition of the word “different” is “incompatible”.

Others are “other” and “separate”.

I sometimes, if not often, decide that I am separate.  That no one understands me and, that no one will ever fully understand me – and “boohoo” and so on and so forth.  When I go there and land myself in the “different” camp, I am miserable.  I am different, they are different, and the twine shall never meet.  And that just feels hopeless.  It is exhausting to keep voting for how someone else is different or not, or if they are for us or against us-  “don’t forget to look over your shoulder…!”…

If I get intimidated by someone, someone that seems more knowledgeable, more powerful, more “elder” than myself, I picture that person in diapers.  Remembering that they too have been a baby and that they too always just wanted to be loved and cared for.  That usually sets me free again to be myself.

Here are some tips when you feel different or alone.  When you are experiencing loneliness, separation or conflict with another:

  • Look for how you are the same; you both have a mother, you both want happiness and prosperity, you both love your children or siblings.
  • Be the one “going first” and see if the other person will lobby back a clue to another similarity – that commonly happens…
  • Remember that they too were once in diapers and cried for their mommy (and maybe still do sometimes!)

Keep going for similarities.  Let’s not be distracted by other people’s different qualities or personalities.  We are playing on the same side of the playing field.  We all want to score the same goal of happiness.

Don’t forget to write your comments with feedback, or to tell on yourself, whatever you please.  I love it all.

Jo

….A different kind of love…

This post is about love.  The different kind.  I read something that struck a deep chord with me today.  About love.  That constancy is its very nature, with no dips.  It doesn’t fade because its source is ever new.

I spoke to a few dear friends and family today; Patricia, Kenny, Lars…And the love bond that is there gets sparked every time we speak, so it is ever new.

We have trouble understanding this because we don’t go deep enough on the subject of love in our every day lives.  We mistake romance for it, a rush and a thrill.  At least we expect to experience some sort of high.  I believe true love is as constant as one of your limbs.  Deep love even includes the bumps and bruises and disappointments you experience inside of feeling love towards something or someone.  Love doesn’t die because of these adversities.  In fact, when you get hurt by someone you love, it only shows you how deep your love runs.

So I got inspired by this myself today:

In your ordinary life, learn to love.  If it contains any demands, it is just a commercial exchange…

Without love – we are nothing.

What About Shameless Self Promotion…

What about shameless self-promotion when you are looking for work?

I have been grappling with the balance of just doing what I love and simply letting that love spread – and the concept of what I call shameless self-promotion.  And I have come to that there is a balance to strike.

I really have a strong dislike for shameless self-promotion.

I really do.

I think it is preposterous, boastful and lacking a humility that I value.

Hearing someone say, “I am so great” gets me going (and not in a good way).  I get uncharacteristically feisty and in-your-face and want to ask, “Why?  Why are you so great?  Great, like, better than anyone else??”

I don’t like when I am being that way.

So I went to look at the discord I was experiencing.

What am I taking issue with and what is my truth about it?

It starts with that as a Swede, I was raised to keep it down, not boast, not to stick out, to be a part of the communal whole, instead of striking out as an individual.  Out of that, for as much as I speak, I can get both shy, quiet and self conscious in different situations where I feel like I would have to raise my voice to get heard.  Most every self-promotion inside of that cultural context seems shameless!

My second point is this:

Don’t we all feel like people should “just get” how great we are?

Why should I even have to say it?

Which is just bratty on my part and arrogant to the other extreme.

Buddha is my boy in many ways and on this topic he had it right – that there is a Middle Way.  The balance to strike as I see it is:

  • Love your work and do it well.
  • Talk about the work you do because you naturally talk about things you love.  When we are in love with someone, we simply can’t stop jabbering away about that person.  It is the same with the work you’ve given yourself too.  That is your self-promotion and you neither have to use sharpened elbows nor be shameless about it.
  • Circle back to “Go” and dip inside again, to find what the next piece of knowledge you have will truly make a difference for yourself and others.  The one which you want to impart and give the world next.

This process takes me out of my dislike of promoting myself.

I am just talking.

And I am just talking about what I love.

And if someone wants some of it, I am happy to share it.

Does this help?

Does this help you entrepreneurs who are setting out to do something new?

Or you mothers who are about to join the work force again after raising your children?

Or those of you who got laid off and looking for what’s next?

Let me know.  Talk to me.

Love,

Jo

Move your body – change your mind

…so I was thinking about what to write you and although I have had this insight before, it came over me again!  Which is that I can’t inspire if I am not inspired myself.  So I went to do some inspirational reading and remembered a nugget from Danforth’s old classic “I Dare You!”  (that I have to recommend with the caveat that it is dated and at times hokey as it was written in the 30’s) but this was what has stuck with me this morning and that I wanted to share with you…

When Mr. Danforth interviewed people for positions in his company, he would give them a physical fitness test.  Because he knew that the demanding work there would require actual physical strength and it would keep their minds clear.  Lawrence Olivier, the great actor, said the same when asked what the most important feature of a budding actor was.  Was it talent?  Mr.  Olivier said, no, it was stamina.  They had to last through a 16 hour shoot (perhaps, like him, in the desert!).

My inspiration is – if you are battling the quagmire of your mind and anything that is spooking it from what you are dealing with in your life…get up and move your body.

Surf (if you are in that part of the country/world where you can do that), work out, take a dance or yoga class, go for a hike.  Anything to shake up your low energy level/vibration.  (My favorite in New York City is Patricia Moreno’s IntenSati.) 

A recent and wonderful house guest left behind a gift card for our local Blue Star bike shop, adjacent to the downtown Brewery that hang the bike shop’s custom made bikes in the ceiling for sale (love that).

Consequently, Z and I hopped on bikes with Sami in tow, and explored the famous San Antonio mission trail or and biked the southern extension of the River Walk and the San Antonio river.  It is all being landscaped and prettied up all the way from Southtown where we live (think SoHo in NYC as an equivalent but with more TexMex hangs) up to the northern part of town.

 That is it.

That is all I got.

Can’t get out of your mind?

Get up and move.

Love always,

Jo

The Places You Travel…

Your feeling state determines your experience of your quality of life.

After all the buzz from Law of Attraction, The Secret, Abraham-Hicks and all the Vedic scriptures that came 5,000 years before them, I think we are in agreement on this one.

That warrants an investigation into the places you travel to – in your mind.

What we don’t always take into consideration are all the complex factors that lead to the particular feeling state you find yourself in.  You feel up with positive people, you feel down with downers, you feel happy when you are up to something that matters to you, and low when life seems mundane, boring and you know you are underachieving.

A lot of this often leads to you thinking something is wrong with you.

But there is nothing wrong with you.

What is happening is that the set up is not conducive to your goal.

Here is an example.

You are single.

You are dating.

You are not meeting anyone.

They all seem shallow.

And you withdraw.

Lonely again.

Thinking you are unlovable.

Till we find out that the only place you go to find your mate is at bars!Well.  Such situational set-ups leads me to believe that the experience you are left with is what you will find there!

You have a whole color palette to work with and you insist on painting with black and white (that aren’t even technically speaking colors.  Well, this question is one of the most debated issues about color. “Ask a scientist and you’ll get the physics reply: ‘Black is not a color, white is a color.’ Ask an artist or a child with crayons and you’ll get another: ‘Black is a color, white is not a color.’” )  Anyway.

Understanding this will lead you to the next appropriate action of which there is always one to take.

The solution to the example I illustrated – join a club where your passion lies; mountain biking, climbing, yoga, running, philanthropy- whatever calls to you.

If you want to be wealthy, surround yourself with people wealthier than you.  Research tells us that your income is the average of the 5 people closest to you.  There are different conversation being had in these new situational set ups that you otherwise wouldn’t have in your current setting where you are not achieving your result.

This is how you raise the probability of reaching your goal.

So we work from the inside and the outside.

Find your fertile soil.

Where your particular sprout will thrive and bloom.

What’s yours?  Do you know?

Let’s talk.

xoxo,

Jo

Patience is a verb.

This blog is about patience.

Of which I have little.

I remember being in second grade and my stepfather, patiently, trying to walk me through my math homework.  I threw a temper tantrum at the agonizing slowness of the process and demanded he just give me the answers.  Of course he didn’t but instead, patiently, explained that the point wasn’t to get through the exercises, but to incorporate the concepts into my own understanding.  Doing it that way, I would even get a lot out of it.

This lesson still comes to visit me.  Often.

And life is not as kind and patient as my stepfather was, but tends to give you the lessons just the way you need to learn them.

I share with you my transition between New York and Texas a lot, and it is because it indeed was huge and I am still learning from it every day.

I have had to be patient, building a new community, my professional practice, and still keep nurturing my New York friendships and those with family and friends in the rest of the world (both Ziad’s and my family still live in our respective mother countries Jordan and Sweden).  Our families have had to be patient with us roaming around in the world away from them, and still stay connected no matter what, continuously syncing back up year after year.

I have then realized that patience then is a verb.  It is a not a passive waiting-for-Godot, for a day we hope might come.  It is the hard, slow, long, arduous, exhilarating, aggravating journey over time till you get where you are going.  So maybe instead of hunting so hard for the answers to how we can get there faster, maybe we should wonder why we would want to.  Isn’t patience a virtue that we would all want to possess?  And doesn’t it take time to learn a virtue?

That is what I will leave you with today.

Comments are, as always, warmly welcome.

xoxo,

Jo

It’s OK to be needy…

I got a call recently from a woman who through many roundabout ways found me…
She said she needed me.  Desperately.
She spilled everything about why and after some tears too, we decided how to
get her started and where to unravel the big mess she feels her life is in.

Afterwards, I thought about people needing people.
I think the word need gets a bad rap.
Like being needy.
I personally love that people need each other.
If they didn’t, there would be no exchange in the world.
Or shared creativity.
And no intimacy.

I went to the dictionary and read some definitions of the word need.
Here are three I found that lightly blew my mind:

NEED”

1. A condition or situation in which something is required or wanted: crops in need of water; a need for affection.
2. Something required or wanted; a requisite: “Those of us who led the charge for these women’s issues … shared a common vision in the needs of women” (Olympia Snowe).
3. To be necessary.

How often don’t we deny our absolute need to be nurtured, supported, cheer lead, backed up, helped, sparred, partnered with, heard, held…?  Where do you deny your needs?  I want to know.

When thinking of something negative, think of the opposite

… 

I have been reading and thinking about that great spiritual practitioners are those who have made a pledge…to eradicate all their negative states of mind in order to help bring ultimate happiness to others…

And that what enables us to deal with a difficult situation is our capacity to shift perspective, to view our situation from a different vantage point.  The great yogic sage Patanjali said it the best in his Yoga Sutra 2:33…freely translated from Sanskrit, “when you think of something negative, think of the opposite”….

I just came up on my 1-year anniversary living in San Antonio, Texas, after relocating from my two decades in New York. 
I have had many opportunities to shift my perspective in this time from thinking about things as “not being New York” to what a wonderful, warm and friendly place I have come to.  Often I come home to fresh flowers on my porch or a care package with a note from a neighbor that says, “I made extra tonight for dinner – please enjoy”…
Being a seeker and teacher in personal development, I often ask myself, “what else?” and “what’s next?”.  I have to be mindful to appreciate what I have before moving on to those two questions.  

In honor of you, I will end how I started this piece of writing, with a pledge to go into my week, looking at my half full glass and drinking it with thorough appreciation :).


About Dreaming

Hi dear ones  –
In my last post, I was sharing with you my first foray into live streaming with a new show called Streamin’ & Dreamin’.  That made me think of dreaming.  Again. Having dreams.  And how much I allow myself to dream or not.  I noticed that I have a cap for my dreaming if I have had failures.  The year of 2010 goes down in history as the hardest one in my life.  I dealt with being a new mother, and a late one as such at 38, so I was plenty set in my ways and now had to adjust them in the biggest way I had to date – in my life.  
    
     And then I stepped down from my exec position in my coaching company due to the new demands of motherhood among other things that I started to wrestle with, like who did I want to be and what did I want to do from that point forward.  I was up for a TV show and super stressed about that, flying hither and thither for meetings.  And then we moved and I left a community of almost two decades, near half my life, behind in New York.  No wonder I then got PPD (in my case, the doc said, “she has post partum exhaustion depression, she needs at least 6 weeks of nothing around her right now).  That is 3/4 of a year ago now and I am starting to get some perspective on this experience.  It has been difficult claiming my near 20 years of experience as a coach when all my own humanity was hitting me in the face likt this, with such force.  I now know though that the only way to claim it is to tell it – what it was all like to be a teacher and be as human as this.
     Back to dreaming.  So during all this mental mayhem and after, I didn’t feel I quite had the right to dream big for my future, humbled by the hits of life.  Now.  Today.  I reclaim my right to do so.  And the pride in knowing that I have deeper knowledge and experience to share and teach about for people who have been to hell and back in what they are dealing with in their lives, whatever it may be.  So – I say, you are allowed to dream.  Always.  And dreaming doesn’t mean you re required to fulfill each one you dream about.  On the contrary, dreaming is a practice in and of itself.  A creative endeavor that spurs you forward towards where you will act next.  I conclude with a few quotes from people much wiser and experienced (especially with hardships  – so what am I crying about…?)  than myself…
“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ~Henry David Thoreau
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” ~Goethe
Love.  Always.
Jo