1 European Prince, 60 Silicon Valley VC’s, 21 Creative Visionaries, 1 Magical House in San Francisco and Yours Truly… This is What Happened.

Things in the land of Namasme keep getting sweeter and sweeter. The clients and work that are coming our way get progressively more fun and interesting and our intention to collaborate more this year is bearing some beautiful fruit. Case in point—a week and half ago I had the opportunity to co-lead and facilitate a conversation (well, a songversation really) on the future of money and prosperity with 60 of the brightest and most influential minds on the planet at a dinner hosted by Prince Constantijn of Holland.

The theme? Tomorrowland— a glimpse into our world during the year 2119 and how we got there. The venue, Tao Haus, a beautiful creative sanctuary in San Francisco became a one-night museum dedicated to telling the story of the shifts we made to create a more beautiful, sustainable, and prosperous future for our planet. How I ended up there? Well, that’s a story worthy of it’s own post. Let’s just say that serendipity and I are on friendly terms these days. (Special shout out to Nicolas Alcala and Seth Bunting!)

Seeing as the house was transformed into a museum, each of the 5 common areas where guests were received was turned into an interactive exhibit of some sort. As I mentioned before, I was given responsibility to cover the future of prosperity… to a room packed with people who have mastered the language of money and who had thoughts of their own on the subject and in some cases clearly communicated them publicly…People who in the last two or three decades have helped shape that very same conversation in this country and worldwide.

To say that I was intimidated would be the understatement of the year. That said, I’ve always liked a good challenge and I decided that this was an opportunity for me to rise to the occasion, to possibly have a positive impact, and to have some fun while doing so. I had enough research and contemplation under my belt to feel prepared to carry at least an informed conversation so I jumped in with both feet.

Our 60 guests were divided into smaller groups of 12 for each session. I didn’t want to go down the traditional route when thinking of the structure of mine so I came up with a concept where I would be an AI robot that embodied the consciousness of money in the year 2119. The idea was that we would have a sort of inspired Q&A with participants and to let the evolving relationship/conversation dynamic determine the direction of each session. This gave me the opportunity to be a little cheeky in my interactions with our guests to ensure that everyone was having a good time discussing what is usually a very serious subject.

I reached out to Lukaijah, a friend of mine who is a prolific spoken word and hip hop artist and together we wrote a song/rap that I would perform at the end of each session. (see vid below) To add a cherry on top, as we drew closer to the event, I was joined by Bear, an improv genius, solid guitar player, and proper expert on the topic of finance as a collaborator for the session as co-leader. To complement my robot self, he would play the role of a futuristic yet medieval-like troubadour to serve as the musical glue and comedic relief in our effort to stimulate conversation. The result was incredible!

We led our guests in a discussion that encouraged them to participate… to take ownership of the fact that they were in a key position to create a more prosperous future for all. To ask themselves how many of their peers (and themselves) they knew to be genuinely fulfilled and happy—big houses, yachts, islands and all. To realize that being wealthy and prosperous are two very different things and that a better, brighter future would require us to focus on the latter and not the former… That our current societal zero-sum mindset combined with destination consciousness sets us up to never ‘make it’ and to always be afraid and feel like we’ll never have enough… and isn’t that exhausting?

The key question we focused our discussion on was:

What role did you play in creating the more beautiful future that we know is possible?

What I loved about this question is that it compelled our participants to A) assume and admit the big responsibility they have as key players in the development of the future of the world and B) to open their hearts by allowing themselves to be guided by a positive vision… to philosophize a bit rather than offer overtly logical or linear present based thinking… To switch gears and not engage in a problem solving exercise but rather in the creation of an overarching Vision and reverse engineer from there.

It was truly magical to see moment when some of our participants realized that in order for this exercise to work, they had to engage their deeper purpose, open their hearts, and to allow themselves to perhaps not offer tangible solutions to problems but to instead work with us to dream a bit. Their faces softened, their posture changed and their voices took on a different tone. From the feedback I got from our guests, it proved to be a useful and inspiring exercise. As far as I was concerned, mission accomplished!

As for me? Well, I learned that:

  1. Art is a universal language and a very potent one at that.

  2. An engaged mind is a beautiful thing to witness in action. An engaged mind at the service of an open heart? That’s the reason we’re all here.

  3. Good improvisation requires two key components: 1) presence 2) trust. If you’re present, the energy of the space will guide you. If you trust yourself and the moment, you allow others to do the same and you can turn whatever it is that you’re doing into a fun co-creation.

This dinner served as confirmation for me that I will never stop being amazed by people. I can genuinely say that collaborating with such incredible folks changed something in me. When we surround ourselves with people who inspire us and who push us to think bigger, love harder, and be more open, we flourish. This also applies to the ideas we entertain in our daily lives. Are we investing our energy wisely in the thoughts we entertain and the work that we do or are we allowing our mind to hang out in the gutter? Are we finding ways to connect and to grow together or are we, in our search for significance and individuation, losing ourselves and each other?

At the end of the day, creating what you want to see more of in the world is infinitely more energizing and efficient than fighting against what you don’t. We did a video of that not too long ago but it never hurts to remember that as Buckminster Fuller so eloquently phrased it,

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

I truly believe this is our task moving forward if we are to be successful in creating a new paradigm for the planet. Will you join me?

Namasme.

*** The photo for this post was taken by David Redish. You can find him on Instagram at @redishd***

35 at 35: Lessons Learned from the Year of DISCERNMENT

I have a lot to be grateful for today. The sun’s shining, I’m breathing, and I woke up to hundreds of messages from for dear friends and family all over the world wishing me a happy birthday and a delicious piece of vegan chocolate cake my mama had delivered here yesterday. I can now count a pair of ducks as housemates and I have plans to spend the rest of my weekend in Palm Springs hanging with friends and horses at a polo thing and looking at some art installations in the desert. What more can a girl ask for?!

To be honest, I do have one thing to ask… of myself and later of you. We’ll get to that in a second though… Before we do, let’s talk about what it was like to be 34 in the world of Green.

My theme for my 34th year was discernment. True to that I did my best to intentionally focus my attention on trying to figure out if my energy was being allocated to the things/people/places that most helped me grow. I got curious and I explored. I lived alone in the woods of Virginia, I road tripped across the US solo, I Supershe’d in Finland, went to my fourth burn, fell in love, moved to Venice, traveled with my family, sat in ceremony, and went on a blind first date to Bora Bora. I climbed trees, befriended a canvas or two, met many incredible people and met myself in many new ways… I met a me who is unabashedly feminine, the me who likes making everything beautiful as well as useful. The me who enjoys twirling in a dress and getting her hair done just because…

I was re-introduced to the aspect of myself that communicates love through food, I sang my guts out in front of strangers on the street, I cried and cleared for all the women in my ancestral female bloodline, and I learned to hold others without taking on their pain. I in turn allowed myself to be held and fully seen in moments of darkness and vulnerability and I allowed myself to really fall apart when I needed to… I carefully curated my inner circle with love and attention and I learned that British baking shows make for great television.

It was the most colorful, dynamic, fertile, and beautiful year of my life yet!

It is because of that that I feel like sharing some of my experience with you in hopes that it may be useful to you on your own path. So in honor of my stepping into my 35th year I came up with 35 lessons or observations to share so indulge me will ya? Take a peak below and let me know if anything resonates. I would love to hear your thoughts.

-35 at 35-

  1. Nature is wise. Nature doesn’t force anything. Be like nature.

  2. Anger isn’t the enemy, contempt is. We probably all have a reason to be angry about something. Angry at ourselves and at each other. That’s ok. What’s not ok is dehumanizing ourselves or the people we are angry at to deal with our supercharged emotions.

  3. Want to live a magical life? Start by allowing yourself to believe it is possible.

  4. Your inner critic is as sophisticated as you are… and it may pose as a rational, well thought out idea to convince you why playing small is the better option.

  5. There is never righteousness in the weaponization of pain. Ever.

  6. Yes, you are attracted to your friends. That’s why they are your friends in the first place. We need to stop being so binary in our thinking and realize we can hang out and appreciate it without having to constantly ‘fight the urge’ to sleep with it. Let’s evolve shall we?

  7. Don’t be a drama llama or a lurky turkey. Keep it simple and stay in your lane homie. Ride’s smoother and more enjoyable that way.

  8. Embrace the feminine. It’s her time and she will no longer be ignored.

  9. You can’t win someone’s respect by fighting them for it. Focus instead on making your actions respectable by your code. How other people interpret them is none of your business.

  10. Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy? Sometimes one has to choose.

  11. Forgiveness is important but forgiveness also implies a narrative you’ve decided to adopt about the particular person or circumstance in question. If you’re being truly objective, are you even in the position to ‘bestow’ forgiveness in the first place? Chances are at the deepest level whatever it is that happened isn’t personal. What if it didn’t happen to you but for you? ;)

  12. We don’t need to be smarter, we need to be more human.

  13. You can’t keep blaming your parents forever. If you’re conscious of your programing yet keep hopping on the same hamster wheel of bullshit it’s time change the conversation. You can’t change the past. You can, however, assume accountability over your future. Real change comes from personal responsibility and it’s time to get on the bus Gus.

  14. If you asked for a sign and received it… Don’t ignore it you dummy.

  15. Wanna be happy? Hang out with kids and old people. Why? Kids are masters of the art of being present. Old people on the other hand are masters of the art of the big picture and not sweating the small stuff.

  16. Stop trying to ‘fix’ people. The only reason you can even identify what needs ‘fixing’ is because you have a point of reference of that very same thing in your field. Humble yourself. We’re all trying our best to figure this whole life thing out.

  17. Trust is the main ingredient of flow.

  18. When you give people the benefit of the doubt, it paves the way for a different type of relationship… a fertile ground for both of you to grow. For them to rise to the occasion and for you to practice trusting.

  19. Sarcasm is oftentimes a tool to mask pain.

  20. Occasional disobedience is good for the soul. We came to this earth to play. We forget that too often.

  21. Pleasure is not a dirty word. Ladies, this one’s dedicated to us…

  22. Want to never have bad sex again? Practice emotional intimacy prior to getting in the sack with anyone. The path to emotional intimacy rarely starts with physical intimacy.

  23. To feel free, you must relinquish your need to control things. At the end of the day my friend, nothing is under your control other than how you allow yourself to perceive things so losen your grip will ya? It’s air that you’re grasping anyway. ;)

  24. Your ego can be your amigo…. Just make sure your sense of self is a good person.

  25. Time is not a measure of love or depth of emotion.

  26. Stop asking lost people for directions to your next destination. Everything you really need to know, you already do. All you have to do is learn to listen… to yourself.

  27. Jealous? Good. Time to look under the hood. What are you wanting that you don’t have or what are you not giving yourself permission to explore/own about yourself?

  28. It is easy to confuse controlling behavior for love or care. How do you know which is which? You ask yourself whether what you’re being presented with respects your sovereignty. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t have room in your life.

  29. Worry = problem worship.

  30. Doing is a by-product of being. A guru once told me that it’s wiser to ask who you want to be prior to asking what you should be doing. He was right.

  31. Purpose is not an external thing. It is a quality of our consciousness. We need to stop chasing it and start infusing it into everything we do.

  32. Humility is the language of the soul.

  33. Honesty is subversive in a world dominated by ego and identity politics so we can be revolutionaries by simply standing in our truth… Our truth is that we’re human. All we need to do is remember this more often.

  34. The relationships in your life bring you the opportunity to find a deeper relationship to your own true purpose. Treasure them as such.

  35. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to befriend your parents, please do so immediately. They must be pretty wonderful if they were able to make you. ;)

That’s it y’all! The list was longer but this is definitely the highlight reel as far as I’m concerned. So what’s next you may be wondering? Well, the word I’ve chosen for 35 is COLLABORATION. I’ll let you know how that goes. ;)

Feeling Whole

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As a society we’re anxious and addicted. 🍸🚬🍫💋📱

One of the reasons we’re so anxious is our almost compulsive desire to control... To control our environment, our journey, our emotions, and if we’re being really honest, at times the people we interact with. Why do we do this though?

It all stems from a lack of trust and feeling of wholeness within ourselves. When we seek in the external to source what we yearn to feel inside, we will always fall short. We will never be satisfied because we’re aiming at a moving target…. Just ask anyone who got ‘the job’, ‘the house’, ‘the body’ how they feel 6 months later. 🤔

Rather than look at our anxiety squarely in the face, we routinely numb, distract, and disconnect from ourselves thinking it will disappear.

We drink too much, spend hours on our phones mindlessly scrolling, eat crap that will stimulate just the right pleasure receptors in our brain so we don’t have to actually feel what we’re feeling, and date people we aren’t interested in to pass the time… but the anxiety always comes back. ALWAYS.

Why?

Because we haven’t dealt with the root cause of it all so we’ll never be able to drink, smoke, eat, or fuck it away. Because it’s all about us and our perception of ourselves. Because to make it go away we need to understand where it’s coming from in the first place and in order to do so we have to open doors that are painful.

We have to learn to sit with our discomfort and learn what it’s been trying to tell us all along. We have to let go of this notion that we can actually control anything other than the way we react to what life throws at us. We have to embrace the fact that we have a responsibility to ourselves above all else and most importantly, we have to focus more on the process rather than the idea in your head about what it ‘should already look like by now’.

When we do, we’ll start seeing that much of our strife isn’t actually real but a product of the stories we’ve decided either consciously or subconsciously to tell. We’ll see that we have a choice to adopt a new narrative and we’ll see the Truth in choosing to run with the one where as the protagonist we’re already whole...Not perfect, just whole.

On that day, you’ll no longer need to numb out or sedate yourself because your anxiety won’t own you anymore. She’ll visit once in a while but her trips will be shorter and fewer and farther in between. You’ll start seeing her as a friend rather than foe because she’ll remind you to remember who you really are and to re-commit to yourself to your process. You’re already whole baby, you just have a tendency to forget that.

Now put that in your pipe and smoke it! 😉

On This Thanksgiving, Chew on This.

This is the story of my favorite part of my solo cross-country road trip, one of my most recent failures, and ultimately one of the most profound lessons I learned all year...

I share it with you today in hopes that you'll have a quiet moment in all the holiday madness to give some thought to the question of where your privilege plays a role in your life and how it can get in the way of being a better ally to people you may want to help or be of service to.

White folks, this one’s especially for you. ;)

While most of us are celebrating today as a holiday focused on family and gratitude, we must not forget that to our Native American brothers and sisters today is seen as a day of mourning. So let's do ourselves a big favor and yes, celebrate what to many of us this holiday stands for but let's not do so conveniently forgetting that to many this day commemorates the beginning of a still continuing oppression of their people.

The whitewashing of our history is unacceptable for many valid reasons. One often overlooked reason because the painfully clear injustice of it all takes center stage? If we don't know or even acknowledge what really happened and how it still affects our country today, how will we ever grow from it? How will we ever make it right?

Would love to hear your opinion on this one folks. Do share!

Your Diet and Your Mood

Feeling anxious or depressed? You may wanna look at what your shopping cart at the grocery store... Why? Turns our that what you eat directly affects your mood and even your personality. I repeat: WHAT YOU EAT DIRECTLY AFFECTS your MOOD and even your PERSONALITY.

Yup. It's true. The science is there to back it up.

Wanna learn more? Join us on this new installment of Borrowed Knowledge, where we'll discuss 'The Prime' and follow Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary's work in understanding the biology and connection between our brain and our gut!

Failure as a Milestone

Success leaves behind clues... One of the most important of those is how to contextualize failure so that you don't allow it to define you or discourage you from your path. Because, you know, failure will come knocking at some point. So rather than allowing yourself to become paralized by your fear of failing, why not try looking at the idea of it in a different way? A more empowering way?

Join us, as we look to the worlds of basketball in business through the lenses of two of the greats in each field, Byron Scott and Charles Norris, to find a new way of looking at failure that may just help you drop the fear and take the risks you need to take to actually succeed!

When You Truly Listen, Everybody is a Guru

As seekers we thirst and search far and wide for more understanding... We thirst and search and often try our best to find and follow teachers who can shed some light on the path to help us ask better questions in order to find better answers... But what if we don't have to search as far and wide as we think? What if the answers we seek don't lie in far away lands like India or China, or in books like the Bible or the thoughts of the ancient Greeks?

Join us for our next installment of 'Borrowed Knowledge' where we pick apart the words of Ram Dass, arguably one of the most influential teachers of our time, and learn how to extract the wisdom we seek from our every day lives.

In a Relationship and Having Lousy Sex? Try This.

Good sex in a long term relationship is the result of many factors... One of which is open and honest communication. Truth is, we change. Our tastes change and with them the things we'd like to explore in the bedroom. Then why is it so hard for people to talk about this stuff with their partners? Well, we're not really taught how to do that well!

In this installment of Borrowed Knowledge, we jump in the world of 'Slow Sex' by Nicole Daedon where she teaches us a technique to better discover and communicate what it is that we want to experience in the sack. Curious? Check it and out, try it, and let me know what you think! I've already heard rave reviews from two of my clients...

You Can't Fight Your Way to Self-Love

What can the most influential book ever written about WAR teach you about SELF-LOVE? Turns out, something rather surprising!

Join us in our 5th installment of 'Borrowed Knowledge' as we dive into the world of Sun Tzu, 'The Art of War' and what this book, now used for centuries, can teach us about navigating our relationships with ourselves.

If You're Feeling Triggered It's Good to Remember That...

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Mindfulness teaches us to create and cultivate a distinction between our ‘self’ who lives our lives and our ‘observer self’.

The more we spend time as our observer selves, the easier it is for us to choose the experience we want to have of life and the less time we spend mindlessly reacting to our environment as prisoners of the subconscious programming we received and accepted as children—our biases, our ego, our judgment of self and others... In some conscious circles they refer to this aspect of our psyche as our ‘inner wounded child’.

Usually, and particularly in relationship with the people closest to us, if we feel triggered, it’s likely a good indicator that we’re operating from the standpoint of the ‘wounded child’ and not from the more objective ‘observer self’. It means we’re missing the bigger picture and therefore needlessly suffering.

This is good news. Why? The awareness alone can help us shift our perception and the interaction almost immediately. You see, when a ‘wounded child’ is met by the ‘observer self’ it will never be met through the lens of conflict... quite the contrary. It will be met with compassion, love, and understanding because it has identified the true root of the conflict as being a projection of things past.

The implications of this are huge in any relationship... be that the one you have with yourself or with those around you... So pick wisely my friends! Life’s too short to be a prisoner of ideas and belief systems you acquired when you were too young to know what was even going on

The Marriage We All Need

Many of us are familiar with the concept of the hero's journey. But what if there's another, more balanced way of looking at our personal development journey? What if we were to see this life thing as a marriage instead? In our fourth installment of Borrowed Knowledge, Sally Kempton offers a fresh perspective rooted in the Hindu religion.

Let me know what you think!

If You Feel the Need to Voice Your Opinion...

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If you find it hard to keep your words about others kind, it’s time to look in the mirror and ask yourself why you’re triggered. 🤔

Somebody else’s experience, choices, looks, etc. won’t bother you if you’re truly at peace with yourself so check yourself before you wreck yourself boo. Why do you care? What can you gain from voicing your opinion other than letting the world know you clearly have shit to work on?

On the flip side, if you happen to be on the receiving end or the target of other people’s comments, just remember that nobody can make you feel an emotion you don’t welcome in your experience. No one can impose on you a shame you don’t carry. Nobody’s words will ever be as powerful as your vibration and how you show up. So keep showing up. Keep being you and learn to love even those who clearly have an issue loving themselves... Cause at the end of the day baby, it has nothing to do with you. 😉

It’s time to evolve folks. If you’re wanting to gossip, if you’re wanting to criticize or shame, rather than indulge the urge, I invite you to get curious. What is your discomfort trying to teach you about yourself and your journey? 🧐

Namasme.

The 3 Components of Successful Radical Transparency

Radical transparency sounds great in theory but is it really possible? Yes! Yes it is... and not only is it possible, it's the key to authentic interaction and long lasting success in any relationship! Just ask superstar financier and thoughtful human, Ray Dalio... He built his whole company on this idea! 

Join me as I dive into the 3 things you need to successfully employ radical transparency in all your relationships in our second installment of Borrowed Knowledge!

3 Phases / 3 Bodies

Did you know that you have 3 bodies that developed at different times or that who you are as an adult today was largely determined before you were 21?

As part of our first installment of 'Borrowed Knowledge,' a new series, we dive into Michael Brown's, "The Presence Process" and a discussion about the 3 most important phases of our development as well as our 3 'bodies' and how we can use them in our process of integrating the traumas of our past in a healthy way.

Check it out!

 

 

Lasting Change Starts with Our Imagination

I was invited to speak at and presented at The National Symposium for Integrated Health at the Harvard University Faculty Club in Cambridge last week and wrote the following piece as a guideline for the presentation I delivered. I'll be posting the video of the presentation when I get my hands on it but my hope is that you will read this and start asking questions today... As always, feedback is most welcome!


On September 25, 2009 my brother Thomas and I made a decision that would drastically alter the course of both of our lives forever. You see, we had spent the better part of two years essentially lobbying the Colombian government to give us full custody of my father who at the time was suffering from severe Alzheimer’s disease and wasn’t receiving the level of care he deserved.

That Friday morning, we were granted our wish and received all the relevant paperwork. We couldn’t believe it! The day we had dreamed of for so long had come but due to some unforeseen circumstances, none of what we had planned to do once we had achieved this was on the table and we were forced to think quickly. Our conclusion? To take him with us back to the States and to figure out what to do once we were on our own turf and with more time to think. We went straight to the Embassy, got him a passport and were on the first flight back to DC, which was where we both lived at the time.

At the time, I was a relatively carefree 25 year old rising quickly in the ranks of corporate America. I was in a committed relationship, living in a spacious loft, driving a beautiful car, and contemplating a move overseas with my boyfriend. Life was good. How good? I didn’t really understand until September 26th, the day we arrived to the states… which is when the reality of what we had chosen to take on really set in.

You see, in our minds prior to assuming the responsibility of my father’s care, we understood that it was going to be the beginning of a new chapter for us as a family and that it would require some sacrifices on our part. That’s about it, to be honest… but it was enough because we were intent on making his last years as comfortable and loving as possible. To us, it had become abundantly clear that we were the best people for the job so we decided to take it on, admittedly not knowing exactly it entailed and how difficult it would be…

And difficult it was…Dad required 24hr round the clock care. That meant we had to hire a caregiver while we were at work and that we take turns every other night bathing him, changing his diapers, feeding him dinner, and putting him to bed. We would switch every other weekend too so that we could each get a break and be ‘normal’ for 48hrs.

Dad’s care quickly took a toll on us physically, psychologically, emotionally, and financially. He had no health insurance and came to us after not having seen a doctor, a dentist, or an occupational therapist in years. He was in bad shape and we needed to get him to the healthiest baseline as soon as possible to better control the inevitable decline that we knew would come regardless.

There were tears, nights of what seemed like endless frustration. Anger, sadness, fights, resentment, and plenty of days where we both felt like we couldn’t take it anymore. Though my brother took on more responsibilities than I did, in my mind it felt like it was too much. We were too young. It was too unfair. I remember sitting at home on Saturday nights alone and crying myself to sleep. I remember experiencing severe anxiety before every time I had to shower him prompted by the fear that he may fall and that I would be alone and helpless…

Though he did pass away peacefully at home during a snow storm some 2 years and 4 months later, I’m proud to say that our efforts weren’t in vain. We accomplished our goal of making him feel loved and ensuring that he had the best medical care possible for as long as he was with us. To this day, when I think of the experience I can’t help but wonder about how we pulled it off. I’m ever so grateful for having had the opportunity to care for him and in awe of just how incredibly strong my brother proved to be at the time. As for me? Well, let’s just say the experience is the reason why I stand before you today.

So now that you’ve received the cliff’s notes version of one of the most intimate/difficult/ and character defining parts of my life story, I think it’s time I introduce myself properly. Hi, my name is Jenniffer Green and I am a professional student of life. Most people refer to me by what I do for a living… life coach… but I know better.

I shared with you my story because hidden inside of that experience is a message that I feel is worth sharing and that has served as one of the pillars of my coaching practice for the last 3 1/2 years.

Knowing what you now know about my story, you can probably understand why taking care of my dad was probably the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to do. What I didn’t share though, was that it also ended up being one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. The beautiful part? That realization didn’t come AFTER the ordeal, it came DURING and it helped me begin a personal transformation that is still taking place today.

So what happened that changed my mind? Did we have a crisis within a crisis? Nah, my revelation came to be quite anti-climatically one Friday night as I was watching a movie with my dad at home and feeling annoyed that I couldn’t make it to a friend’s get together. I found myself going into a familiar thought pattern… ‘poor me’, ‘my youth being wasted’ “this is so unfair’ ‘where did my freedom go’… This time I stopped myself though. I stopped because I had repeated the same story so many times that I’d become bored of it and it had starting feeling a bit melodramatic. There’s only so much feeling sorry for yourself you can do after all.

I was desperate to make sense of it all so I turned to both western philosophy and eastern spiritual thought and began to go inward. In my quest I had my first “aha!’ Moment reading Viktor Frankl’s work. Frankl was a renowned Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and holocaust survivor and in my eyes his story served as a beautiful example of how a human being can transmute their suffering into meaning through a process that I’ve begun to call perceptual alchemy. Frankl stated: ’Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

So yes. What I living was challenging. Yes, it was too much. Yes, we were too young. Yes, it was unfair. But could it be other things as well? Could I learn to see this situation in a way that didn’t feel like I was at the mercy of my circumstances? How could I find this freedom that Frankl described? I found that changing my attitude regarding my situation was  a lot harder than I expected. How do you just magically shift your perceptions and emotions?

Unsatisfied and unconvinced, I kept digging and in my search I found Chinese philosopher and the Founder of Taoism, Lao Tsu and the following suggestion: ‘When I let go of what I am I become what I may be.’ But who was I? It had become clear that I had to let go of something… What exactly that was though, I wasn’t sure… that didn’t make me crave it any less though.  

So on one hand I had Frankl telling me to accept my situation and shift my attitude and on the other I had Lao Tsu telling me to let go of the idea I had in my head about who I was so that I could embrace something new. In order to do either of those though, I needed to take a step back and figure out what the ‘what’ I needed to accept was and the ‘who’ I was being at the moment.

Well, that was way easier said than done. You see, while the power of acceptance is a key pillar in most personal development literature, there’s a key piece in the acceptance conversation that a lot of people miss when they discuss the importance of embracing it. You have to be keenly aware of what you are ‘accepting’ in order to shift it and create lasting change…. And that ‘thing’ you’re accepting is the story you are telling yourself about what you are living…. And that story, like most… is subjective.  

When I took a hard look at myself, I realized that the story I was telling was one of total martyrdom. And though there was a part of me that felt righteous about my victimization because it was being done in the name of love, there was, however, a side of me that wasn’t buying it.

Was I all of a sudden a scared little girl or the fiercely independent woman that by 24 was running a marketing department at a mid size telecom firm? Was I the girl who always made others laugh or had I forgotten what being joyful felt like? This whole victim thing wasn’t a role I was used to playing and even though it made sense being in it felt uncomfortable. Why? The answer and the key to getting out of my predicament lay in the neural networks of my brain.

As the processing center of our bodies, our brains are tasked with among other tasks extracting usable information from all the data we encounter on a daily basis. Once we are introduced to a new idea, concept, person, or topic, your brain begins to create a neural network for it. Each one of the 86 billion neurons in your brain is connected to roughly 10,000 others. Each time a connection is used, a network is created.

According to Psychology Today, these networks function according to 3 principal rules:


1. The focus of your attention is the network you are in. Your attention tells you the neural network you are in.  Knowing this you can practice observing your thoughts and being picky about which ones you entertain.


2. Neurons that fire together wire together. This is called Hebb’s Rule (1949), which basically says that repeated experience can strengthen or weaken neuronal bonds. The more neurons fire together, the faster and stronger they wire together, producing larger and stronger networks over time.

The more you focus on something, the more connections to that thing you make, which means that over time you begin to see the world more and more through that particular network/lens and the things that are connected to it. What you focus on, you get a lot more of. So engage with your thoughts wisely, and pay attention to which networks you spend a lot of time in!

3. Use it or lose it. Just as attending to a particular thought strengthens the neural network associated with that thought, neglecting neural networks results in a weakening of those networks over time. This is really good news, because it means that if we can promote disintegration of old, negative, unhelpful networks, we can reduce the intensity and frequency with which we produce (and experience!) the distressing thoughts associated with those networks.

Seeing it this way my dilemma was actually quite simple:

I created a ‘my life sucks and there’s nothing I can do about it’ network and because my circumstances were so difficult, it became strong pretty quickly because there were so many factors out of my control in my new reality.


That network, however, didn’t quite jive with other strong yet already pre-existing networks that I had created in my head which were the ‘everything is figureoutable’ network and the ‘I am woman hear me roar’ network among others.  Because of that I found it hard to get unstuck.
This was good. Now I knew what I needed to do. I needed to create a new network! But how?

Fortunately for me, Albert Einstein another one of my favorite gurus came to save the day. “All meaningful and lasting change starts first in your imagination and then works its way out. Imagination is more important than knowledge” he said.

Ok, so my imagination… How could I use my imagination to make it easier for me to accept my situation and shift it from positive to negative? How could I enlist its help in making me feel better and not let it continue feeding my current unhappiness? …Because by then I had become an expert at imagining just how much fun all the stuff that I was missing out on was and all the things that could possibly go wrong while I had to take care of dad alone.  

The answer was easy. I needed to get creative with my thinking and consciously direct those efforts in a productive way.

You see, imagination is a resource. It’s just like time, money, connections, energy, etc… Much like time, you have the choice to use it consciously but if you don’t, it will still be used regardless. Being aware of this I made the decision that I was going to tell a new, more positive story. Build new networks and work on strengthening them so that I could find more peace of mind and reconnect with my joy.


I built the ‘this doesn’t have to suck’, the ‘this can make you grow’, the ‘you are stronger than you think,’ the ‘create the joy’ and the ‘wow, you have a lot of free time at home now so use it wisely’ networks.


I was determined to adopt a growth mindset and to be more flexible with myself. I understood that in a situation like this having answers or external solutions didn’t really matter. What mattered was my internal world. So I started applying the third rule of Neural Networking and stopped entertaining thoughts that were causing me anxiety or that made it easy for me to go back in victim mode. I also stopped using the ‘but it wasn’t supposed to be like this’ network because if I was being totally honest with myself, I actually had no clue what it was supposed to look like.


Much to my surprise when I opened up to the possibility that my experience didn’t have to be terrible, life started reflecting that! I started noticing little things that brought me a lot of joy like the fact that although dad couldn’t really talk anymore, he could still sing with me. I started caring for him as an opportunity to practice self-care as well. If I gave him a mani and pedi, I would give myself one too. I started realizing that slowing down was actually a gift because it allowed me to open the door into myself. I started reading about nutrition, I reconnected with my love of performing and I would put on mini concerts for him in the living room. I started getting creative with my cooking… I started connecting with my dad in a way I never had before… the way of the soul and I got to see and feel his spirit.


Alzheimer’s is a condition that strips away your sense of self and can be rather confusing and scary for those who live with it. Because of that, it is quite common for folks with the disease to be aggressive and combative with their care takers. My pops on the other hand? Total sweetheart. So gentle.


The more I was forced to constantly and consciously choose my network/narrative/path to grace, the more I realized just how important doing so really is. The more I was forced to slow down the more I saw how much unnecessary rushing I had done before and the more honest I became with myself. The life that I ‘missed’ so much was actually not the life I truly wanted. Sure, it checked off all the boxes I’d been socialized into thinking I did but those check marks permitted me to bypass my true self’s desires and needs. In a way, my dad’s illness had caused me a tremendous amount of pain but it had also been a gift. An opportunity for me to learn some valuable lessons about acceptance, unconditional love, and the true meaning of freedom. An opportunity to open the door into myself.


My life changed and I became who I am today because my circumstances forced me to look at and change my story and the filter through which I see the world. The good news is you don’t wait for things to get to that point to start looking within and doing the work in your own world. Yes, it will require courage and you will likely find things that are difficult to confront but it will be the most satisfying journey you’ll ever make if you allow it.


You may have noticed that I called myself a professional student of life at the beginning of our time together. I hope you’ll join me in my pursuit and that we can grow together learning from the many teachers who will cross our path.

Let’s use this incredible resource that is our imagination and put it at the service of our dreams and not our fears. Let’s use it to create and play out the narratives we want to live and have the courage to treat ourselves like the beautifully imperfect works in progress we are. Let’s take ourselves seriously enough to find the freedom required to stop taking ourselves so seriously… To embody the joy that we want to feel… to relish the lemons we masterfully turn into lemonade.

The stakes are high folks. We are living in a time where we as a collective society need to shift our way of living. Truth is, we don’t need more stuff. We don’t need more technology, we don’t need more convenience, faster cars, microchips in our brains, doomsday shelters or to live forever. With the planet as is we already all have the resources we need to keep every one fed, sheltered, educated and yet that’s not what we see. Why? Because we lost our way and ourselves. Because the story we began to tell was one based on fear.

More than our way of living though, we need to define our way of BEING. We need to reconnect with our humanity and in order to do so we must first reconnect with ourselves.

So with that in mind today I ask, what story are you telling?

 

(*** I chose Cielito Lindo for the song to accompany this post because it was the song that dad and I sang the most together during this period. Every time I hear it, I'm immediately transported to that time. It will forever be one of my favorites for that reason.***)


 

Join Us in Dubai!

Are you in Dubai or will you be there on the 28th of this month? If so, please join us for:

Happiness is an Inside Job: A Salon Style Dinner/Workshop

The scoop:

At their core, success and happiness are an inside job.

Gone are the days where we glorify burnt out and overly stressed yet financially successful people. Gone are the days where we think that we will achieve fulfillment by merely ‘checking off the right boxes’… You know, the “right” job/relationship/flat/number in the bank. 

We suffer from “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome because we’ve been taught that our happiness lies outside of ourselves. For this reason, we also fall pray to a lot of self-judgment and we judge each other unfairly. At the end of the day, we’ve built a society that has essentially outsourced our definition of personal satisfaction and we’re suffering from it. 

Fortunately, if we do the work, that stops with us. We’re the generation that is waking up to the fact that we’ve been sold an illusion that makes being authentically happy pretty much impossible because it systematically teaches us to ignore who we truly are and what we really want for the sake of fitting constantly changing norms. 

The world needs more happy, healthy, and whole people. The only way for us to get there as a community is by looking inside of ourselves and starting to ask the right questions. We need to start living more intentionally and we need to start living for ourselves so we can be better to each other.

You can have all the talent, connections, money, or beauty in the world and still not feel fulfilled if you’re lacking in self-awareness, self-confidence, and not standing in your personal power and truth... If your lack of self-worth or insecurities prevent you from pursuing opportunities and putting yourself out there AUTHENTICALLY… If you’re denying who you really are to please other people. 

You see, in order for a person to be authentically successful or happy, he/she has to feel that and believe in themselves. They have to drop the societal narratives that no longer serve them… He has to own his power and create his experience. She has to be confident and clearheaded. They both have to learn how to to face their fears and win. 

At the end of the day, where there is turmoil in our internal world, there is likely turmoil in our external one. For that reason, we want to help you master a crucial part of your internal game… Your relationship with your inner critic and your relationship with fear.

Join us for an intimate dinner time get together/workshop designed specifically for you to start changing the conversation you are having with yourself about the life you lead and the future you want to build. 

If you allow it to and fully commit to the process, it could be life changing!

 

To purchase tickets, click here!

 

 

Flex Your 'I Don't Give a F*ck'...

SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO LET YOUR INNER WEIRDO OUT FOR A DANCE...

A couple of months back I got tired of seeing how much time we spend on social media curating our online personas in an effort to look cool rather than portraying ourselves more honestly...So I asked you for help.

I wanted to prove that there are people out there who are willing to get goofy, be a bit weird, and flex their 'I don't give a f*ck' muscle. I made a call for volunteers and gave you no details until you had already agreed.

Turns out 30 of you in 9 different countries, 5 cities in the US, a volcano, and a pirate ship were brave enough to join me. To you, a massive thank you. You're the best! Let's do more of this shall we?

To those of you watching, enjoy! I hope this gives you a bit of inspiration to start the year off by honoring yourself and not worrying so much about what everybody else thinks. 2018 is your year baby!

Namasme.

(The song featured in the video is called Venezuela by Coleman Hell. To download it, check it out here!)