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What Happens in the Meantime?

Alright friends, summer is happening, whether you just graduated, are spending the day imagining tropical sunsets in front of your computer or are on the verge of becoming a parent, SUMMER IS HAPPENING, LIFE IS HAPPENING. What does that tell us? Well, it tells us to JUST LIVE, because there isn’t a time where it will ever become super convenient. Convenience is a very deluding idea that we learn at a very early age, one where we wait and wait and wait…..AND WAIT, until its almost convenient to do what we wanted all along and then Pouf, the convenient moment ends. Where does that leave us? Well, in a state of constant longing followed by varying levels of disappointment, with bursts of momentary fulfillment.

This is not against the idea of planning, that’s perfectly fine, its actually quite clever to plan a lot of things, including vacations, big purchases, hair cuts and having kids…So let’s all agree that living is not restricted to only plan-able situations. We are living when we are miserable and when we are in a regular mood in a regular place with regular acquaintances. The idea is to understand how crucial it is to put value on our time and our relationships regardless the contexts that surround them.

You could be in the most beautiful place in the world and still feel an internal disgust. You could be with the funniest group of people who are agreeable in every sense of the word and still not have the ability to crack a smile because of the solemness you feel. You could have the most glamorous life, the most Instagrammable face, body and partner but still want something deeper, SOMETHING ELSE.

Context is important but it isn’t everything. So tread the life you live carefully and don’t wonder about others, because to each his/her own and to each is a recipe for wonder. So plant you feet deep inside the life you have and tell yourself one thing, that you will live despite it all, in spite it all and loving it all.

“I have tried to live my life such that in the hour of my death I would feel joy rather than fear”.

Witold Pilecki, cited in Mark Manson’s Everything is Fucked.
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I’m Here to Tell You about Serendipitous Flow

What is Serendipity?

Ask this question to google and it tells you the following “The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”

Ask this question to an overworked businessperson and they might tell you, there is no such thing. Ask it to a joyful child, they will laugh back at you and that would be your answer.

So I ask myself this question, and I am somewhere in between working really hard for a positive event to happen to me, and also laughing at the hilarity of the possibility of controlling life in any way.

Serendipity becomes real when we learn to live in a careful balance between doing what must be done gently and without force or resistance.

Force life to go in a certain direction and face the consequence of life’s love for probability and NOT giving you what you wanted just because you “worked really hard for it”. Losing is an enormous part of life, except we choose to completely dismiss it from existence and by only focusing on the winning strategies, winning people, teams and ideas we delude ourselves into a wrong mental state. We start thinking that doing what someone else has done to the detail will land us the same result; and that’s almost never how life works. The losing ones had at some point similar chances as those who eventually won. So the idea is not to favor one consequence over the other. The idea is to learn and become good, become humble and eloquent in the language of serendipitous life.

Many have achieved so much and when asked about it they say that they have no idea why they made it and the others didn’t. Obviously one major book that tries to address this is Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. The book dives into the personal lives of the “successful” ones and tries to pin point one major commonality of years of practice, or age, or physical build, many of which are factors outside of our control.

Except there is one huge trick to unlocking our own mental barriers regardless of physical strength, education or economic situation. Serendipitous flow is that feeling of being totally immersed in an experience that goes beyond your effort and doubts. It is a total merger between our attention and our action. It feels like you are being operated by an outer force; it is complete let go. An orgasm of human functioning- I hope that’s a good description! This tends to happen when we are really happy, we feel like we are in trance; but what if we can switch that into something that makes us work better?

So, I hear you ask, how do we take ourselves to Serendipitous flow in an activity?

You must first be quiet, being really silent is the only way to begin.

Then you must observe how said activity is done.

Third, you must give attention to each factor and not dismiss something as easy or unimportant.

Fourth comes a good one, practice the activity you want to become good at. That is all that is needed to say, PRACTICE. Thank you Mr Gladwell for proving that.

Fifth is the most difficult part to some, and the most put aside step, and that is remaining calm. Remaining calm entails an action of steadiness in your step. It means ZERO FORCE and ZERO RESISTANCE, those two actions or non-actions help your mind into the state of serendipitous flow.

Serendipitous flow is the magic trick, the golden card for living, and although it sounds like a flashy trend, it actually is what separates a Jedi or a Ninja from regular office working 9 to 5 living homo sapiens.

So who do you want to become?

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Why Comfort is Keeping You from Achieving your Dreams

Let’s talk about comfort. You know the kind that comes in soothing flavors of sweet vanilla and melted chocolate. The caramels and the soft crunches of pecan that swirl over your tastebuds and whisper to you that everything is ok. Or it could be the sounds of waves crashing, kissing your toes under a sunset that feels just right all over your skin, a golden hour that makes you feel like every hour of your life can feel that way. Comfort is a warm blanket in the freezing cold, and lilac colored mug of hot chocolate that has “Just Breathe” written on it in classy gold.

Comfort is appealing, it is the snuggle and not the nudge. Comfort is the tap on your shoulder by a loving friend and not a shake by a stranger telling you that your train has stopped. The crimson blush of a beautiful person staring at you like you are magic is comfort embodied. So let’s talk about that beautiful comfort that we seek endlessly every waking hour. Let’s wonder about how far we go to be comfortable. You see, comfort evolves in its nature, it learns and provides us a space to just be.

Now, let’s think about the end of comfort, the break in its seemingly recurrent consistency.

What happens if we never leave that comfort?

Comfort becomes external. You will no longer be able to experience comfort in anything but a tub of ice cream, a warm blanket and an ocean breeze. The easiness of our well cushioned caves removes any need to seek wonder elsewhere. You will lose your imagination and the urge to experience the world. You slowly befriend fear, and the thought of losing that comfort could tear you to pieces. Don’t get me wrong comfort is a beautiful feeling, but that’s all it is, a Feeling. If we hang on to how things make us feel for too long, we become incapable of living without them. Mind you, wanting to live with some things is not crazy, it does not determine how good or bad you are at life. Though the fear of loss limits your ability to experience having things, losing things, and creating and transforming your life based on purpose and genuine happiness, and not based on material, or feelings of attachment or responsibility.

We learn ever since we are kids that we must have things to make us happy; that without things we are nothing. The distance between who we are and what we have becomes so minimal that we can no longer tell the difference. I am not saying that we must give up our “things” but that we must understand that we are not a sum of what we buy or what we can make a month. Having a lot of money is awesome, no body would be bothered by that, but having a lot of money is unnecessary, seeking a lot of money is toxic if not done out of a deep understanding of your true worth with or without it.

The deep secret is that comfort is tricky. It takes years out of your life making you believe something that isn’t real. Being comfortable with misery, or ordinariness, or poor health, or laziness or abuse or over eating, blinds us from what discomfort really means. Discomfort is not always bad, it sometimes is the only way out of toxic habits of comfort. Our brains have not evolved to tell us to leave that camp fire and walk out of the cave to seek shelter elsewhere. We instinctively stay away from discomfort and unknown feelings and experiences because we think it terms self preservation. Habits can be changed, our life is prone to complete dismantlement and rebuilding and transformation if we allow ourselves a peek every once in a while outside of the cave.

This is not about dissatisfaction with status quo, but its about creating space for our happiness to manifest itself in the craziest of ways. How many times have you heard someone say : I WOULD NEVER LEAVE MY JOB FOR THE UNKNOWN, I WOULD NEVER SPEAK TO THAT PERSON, I WOULD NEVER DO/GO… ETC… We all have our comfortable thoughts, convictions, places and people. Going beyond them is unthinkable to most of us. There is no need to put ourselves out there, there is no point in experiencing a possible let down when we can clearly avoid it. I GET THAT.

Then again, what if you do?

What if you let yourself off the hook? What if you allow yourself out of that comfort whatever shape or form it has? If looking outside is so painful, then that says something. If for example, your relationship has gotten too comfortable, and you catch yourself watching other couples, that says something. It does not deem failure or defeat, it is a nudge. A NUDGE TO TAKE THE CHALLENGE, MAKE THE EFFORT. A Nudge that you have become so unfamiliar with, because you’re so used to the soft love taps. Notice the Nudge, go for it and create new comfort wherever you go; because it rarely is the people, the places and the things you have, it’s mostly how you decide to see things.

So my friends, comfort will always be there; rest assured! You can even take parts of it with you. Leaving what we perceive to be easy shouldn’t be a threat, it can be an adventure, it can be the only way to live our best lives.

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How about a ‘Benjamin Button’ to Your life?

Have you ever thought about the life you live, the days you spend and how you spend them, backwards?

Let’s put this together, if you will come along this journey with me, you might be quite thrilled by the end, slightly confused in the middle, and generally indifferent in the beginning. Let’s call this a journey into the life you are about to live based on the things you are investing time and energy into today.

Take yourself to the day where you are, by medical terms considered old. Can you picture yourself? The skin, the eyes, the feet, the bones and muscle. Do you feel a little uncomfortable with this picture or are you pleased? Take note and move on.

Picture yourself 20 years younger, your youthful skin has started to show signs of aging, your hair has become a nice shade of grey, and you are on a course that you have been generally building on for more than a decade now. Are you tired? Do you picture yourself in a happy place? What do you see? Pick yourself up and come back again.

You are the youthful version of yourself 5 years from now. Most of your life is still ahead of you. If all goes well, and your heart beats steadily, you have at least 50 years looking straight back at you. Lots of hope, lots of potential. What do you think?

The purpose of this exercise is not mockery but honesty. Based on the decisions you are making today, a lot of whats yet to come will be natural consequence. The cause and effect relationship is not absolutely set in stone, but the way in which you make your decisions, the things you consider, and the priorities you put forth with be the key factors in the life any of your future selves will have. Surely, it is possible that you change entirely as a person in any of the upcoming phases, but the stakes tend to grow the more life we get to live.

The way in which we live our lives starts to seem like the only possible way forward, and since we are naturally averse to change, our instinct will rarely tell us to steer away from the course we had been on for the past decade.

Our brains will repeat the mantra “just stick to what you know”. There is nothing wrong with doing that, but it is safe to check in with ourselves every once in a while to make sure that at the least we like ourselves, we like our lives or some major parts of them; and last but not least we are never slaves to the decisions we made. The trick is to accept consequences, live accountably, and then admit that we own the time and energy to do with our lives what we will.

It’s never too late to start over, and never too early to stop doing what’s making us unhappy.

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The Balinese Manicurist

Do you ever feel like you want to quit your job, leave everything and go to a new country? Do you ever think about that as a possibility, a hope or a dream? You may think that only those who have something missing in their lives might have such thoughts, perhaps even just those of us who simply want more no matter what? The truth is that no matter how hard we try, we are all tracing our fingers around the rims of doubt in life. We always look to the other side and think that it might be better. So we catch ourselves wondering “what if” somedays. Wonder is healthy, when it allows us to grow within who we are and what we can be; on the other hand, avoiding wonder all together might be a recipe for growing too attached to the status quo with a toxic submission to life as though we are its victims. There is a balance and the key is to learn how to navigate that.

Balance comes in various forms, that match how we choose to live. Wanting to change our lives requires a lot of work, it also requires an understanding. Some of us acknowledge that rim, we understand that ledge of doubtful oblivion and how too much doubt can lead to the destruction of our lives rather than improvement. So we teach ourselves to be grateful for what we have.

We have a good tendency to take for granted the blessings in our lives. Looking out of the windows too long makes us forget about the house we live in.

Decisions we make become our lives, and the houses we build become our homes. Essentially what we prioritize is what we live for and there is nothing wrong with that. So if you list your priorities right now, do they match your life? Consider this:

A Balinese manicurist wishes she could leave. She wants to travel to work in Turkey. I asked her “Are you happy in Bali?”, she said “Yes, but I don’t have money.”

In Turkey she will have money, that’s what her friend who already works there told her. She pauses, her smile still wide on her face, “but there’s something else, my friend, she cry every night on telephone, tells us I miss this, I miss that! But she makes money.” I smiled and looked back at her, “So here in Bali you can have happiness but not money, and there you will have money but no happiness.” “That’s right!”, she responds still laughing. She then sends me a look, “Unless I meet people like you everyday, then I will be OK; I can make extra money with more people.”

Maybe happiness is talking about not having money with a smile on your face, it is the ability to laugh despite your struggle, and deciding to figure it out no matter how difficult it might be.

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You Left your JOB?! Me Too!

So, now that I left my job, what next?

The options vary from highly cynical to extremely difficult, and they range from delusional to absolute perfect plans. I will calm the nervousness you might be feeling for me and tell you two things first. I have some money saved up, and I have a plan that is made up of multiple levels of brilliance or so we will determine many months from now.

One thing I know is that I am exhilarated because my plan to take over the world is coming together, and scared that people might not be as supportive as I hope they would to make me queen.

You see we make our own choices about how we choose to spend our time, and I made a slightly unpopular choice, one that is generally frowned upon, deemed as an escapist strategy, and one most likely to fail. I know my odds, but I also know the extremely likely way that life will pan out if I don’t try to fail gloriously at least once every week. That’s big girl talk, I know, and I’m responsible for half of it, the other half is made up of flare, dehydration and a highly sarcastic mode of communication.

I am a preacher, but I no longer wish to be so, I decided to try it out and see how far I can go. So I take the metaphorical jump into the abyss of making my dreams come true along with a good safety net of a loving family, supportive friends and wonderful muses, both dead and living. I suppose a lot of the casual advice people had offered me, I took to heart; and they had no idea how deeply they were impacting me. So thank you grandpa, mom, my ex bosses, my siblings and my newly anointed husband. There is so much I learned thanks to our talks; better yet our rants about life.

So my dear friend, would you leave your job for something quite unsure, for a prospect? I suppose that is an extremely relative and personal choice, and many of us out there would never want an unsettling kind of life, and thats alright. See, its about the quality of life you wish to have, and to each is a standard. My standard is that of a poshy queen hippy that wants to influence the world with loving words and some good ideas while knocking down one or two stereotypes along the way. Or so I hope. Words come short sometimes. And I have not honed that description too well yet.

We learn to live in fear of vulnerability. We learn that as long as we seem indestructible, the world will not be on to us. Well many have been preaching harnessing the powers of vulnerability like Brene Brown. See one of the biggest misconceptions is that courageous people are invulnerable. The truth however, is that to have courage is to absolutely own how vulnerable you are, and still against all odds take a leap. And you take that leap not because people told you so, but because there is no other way to face your fears. Then who knows, becoming the biggest failure time has known for a day, and then emerging victorious because you chose to learn a lesson, nobody else admitted they needed.

So as foreign as it seems to step away from the race, there is a little something here in digging out a new way that feels right. So take a look at your life, and really dig into why you do what you do, and don’t listen to me, but you will find good answers there.

See you on the other side!