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Uninspired lives and Elephants

This is a post about elephants and their need to be seen and acknowledged.

Elephants are wonderful creatures, they rarely prefer to be indoors, but when they are, there is something to be learned. Sometimes elephants move into our houses, and lay in our beds with their trunks around our soft bellies, begging for our attention yet we still look away. An ELEPHANT in the room? Which room? This one? NO! I am not in denial.

I am inspired when I wake up, and when I go to sleep. My dreams are blockbusters, and my daily commute to work is therapeutic. I am a walking, speaking beacon of inspiration. I am not in denial.

Did I lose you?

The elephant in the room for those unfamiliar with the metaphor is when a stark reality or truth stares you in the face but you still choose to deny it. Simply put, having an elephant in the room but refusing to admit that you can see it.

Fine. Elephants sometimes take up a lot of space, and they make us feel small and less interesting. If I were to photograph myself right now, I have an elephant on my lap and he snores and weighs me down, and he really just wants me to accept that some days I am uninspired by everything. As soon as I do, he gets up and makes me write this.

What I’m really trying to say is this:

Sometimes inspiration doesn’t come, although we try really hard to squeeze it out of our mundane days, weeks and sometimes months. Inspiration and wonder are words at the end of the day that describe feelings that enable us to see more, be more and do more. Those feelings behave like self tailored secrets especially designed to appease our fluttering hearts from beating us to death.

Sometimes we wait in the rain with our water proof phones hoping to snap a picture of a beautiful rainbow, and post it to Instagram with an inspirational caption below that goes something like “while everyone hides from the rain, those who wait out the storm get the rainbow; #weather is so inspiring.” Boom, 230 Likes; We all slept well that night.

We lead ourselves to think that we have control; perhaps we did manage to snap that picture last time, but this time the rainbow doesn’t come out. During our wait in the rain we end up discovering that our phones are not as hydrophobic as marketed. We end up seeing no rainbows, just storms and broken phones. Lesson learned, inspiration is hard to come by, sometimes life is terribly ordinary and just awfully real. #Caption_that

So what do we do when our lives aren’t always Instagram worthy, or Facebook material? How do we present ourselves when we are uninspired?

We imitate

I personally and luckily am only slightly addicted to social media [this probably is a lie]. The truth really is that I like learning about how it works, and why it works the way it does; I am less interested in what is posted but more with why content is posted. I was curious enough about it and I took an online course on Coursera about Viral Marketing and what makes content contagious. Marketing, psychology and social theories of influence all play a part in how we present ourselves online truly reflecting three major things: we want to be seen, we want our lives to seem exciting, and we trust and rely on the images we are presented with from our peers.

We are creatures of imitation, and that only takes us so far; it could be both necessary for our survival and detrimental to it. Inspiration on the other hand is our ticket to originality. Inspiration where available is one of the most important tools for creating raw and beautiful foundations, actions and trends, where then imitation follows.

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Where is the White Space?

Rolling through YouTube’s suggested list, I come to realize one very important effect of our modern life and access to the internet.  I noticed that all that music almost sounds the same, just as most influencers look the same, and bloggers (sometimes including myself) are saying the same things. As easy as changing our lives seems to be through marketing campaigns, it actually is immensely difficult because every click we make, and every decision we take molds us into certain people, possibly not the people we really are, but mere consumer personas. Comfort zones are created around us so organically, that reaching out of those spaces becomes hectic sometimes even impossible.

I was inspired this morning listening to an interview on InsideQuest (IQ) between Tom Bilyeu and Jim Kwik. What really kicked me right in the gut was the concept of White Space. And my mind automatically went into overdrive “I NEED WHITE SPACE”. All my spaces are inhabited by thoughts, people, objects and generic content, some introduced by me, and others suggested, and I am overwhelmed and anxious.

How can anyone really think with all that noise? Where do we hide in this bombardment? When hair style x is going make me more daring, and brand y is going to make me sexier, and person z is telling me how to tie my shoelaces… the list goes on and on with people telling me things, buying out every ounce of attention I have; FOR FREE!

In our pursuit of well-lived, exciting, and constantly educational experiences, we end up being victims of our own choices in this self replicating noisy space. It appears to me that our social fondness for grouping is an ultimate and absolute construct. It might be that attempting to break free of all groups will eventually land us with yet another one.

All that brings me back to my absolute infatuation and fascination with the concept of whitening out a page and starting again, purposely leaving everything and beginning again, as dangerous, unaccountable and anti-social as it sounds. But, there are more family friendly versions of this attitude. One thing that really works but requires countless practice is a form of meditation, essentially allowing the creation of white space inside your own mind, and then moving on from there.

Becoming the creators of our spaces can happen in two ways, either building over and modifying  pre-existing constructs, or annihilating them and starting over. Yet in annihilation one cannot escape the wisdom preceding the experience, actually one would be foolish to ignore it.

So where is the white space after all, and do you really need it?

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Are you a Giver? Read this

This is for the givers, the doers free of charge, the lantern carriers when all are screaming “it’s too dark”. This is for the flame bearers, the fire breathers, and the fearless among the crowd.

Why am I writing about you? Well, because I like to think of myself as one of you, although some might digress, but that is a rant for another day.

So who are the givers?

They give time in the face of abandonment and unavailability, they give money in the face of greed and wealth hoarding, or love in the face of hateful speech and actions, or acceptance in the face of rejection. Are you a serial doer of any of the mentioned actions? Do you do so before you think about the real price of what you are giving? Do you live like this and worry about the returns later or never?

But what happens when you consider the returns today?

What do you do when your bag feels empty? Who gives you time? money? love? acceptance? Do you harbor a slight resentment for yourself or others, and all the seemingly “mindless” actions you have taken to bring yourself to this state of emptiness, of exhaustion of all of your resources? It might feel as though you are wasting your energy, when it seems as though the winners around you are takers. They succeed because they hold on to everything they can carry, and what they drop, well, they have people scurrying behind them picking up after them. Those people stay on top because of people like you, the givers. It is easy to think like this, to want to divert from living such life, because why the hell should you? as simple as that.

The story doesn’t end here you know. The story doesn’t end with you losing all that you have given to all the takers. The story ends where you decide it does, where you let it. See there is an unforeseen power that comes with the ability to give, because we live within a generation that is quite obsessed with having it all. We want the romantic relationship, a one true love story, but we also want the flings, the crazy crushes, the “Netflix and chill”. We want the bountiful success, we want to win but then who learns from winning alone, we have a special interest in the idea of failure and rising up again. We want the beautiful fit bodies, but we also really want to be “Foodies” who eat anything and everything for the sake of our taste buds and that review. We want everything, and really regardless of how contradictory our desires are, we seek it all.

The catch

So giver, where do you fit in this space? Who are you in this world, and what role do you plan on performing? Before you answer, consider 2 main givens:

You are extremely powerful if you are a giver.

You are extremely unaware of your power, if you keep on finding yourself empty, vacant and consumed.

Power is with those who have resources, and in this day and age, time, money, love, and acceptance are resources. People are creating empires out of those, think Gary Veynerchuck, Tony Robbins, Jason Silva, (and yes I realize there are no women in there -I will work on that ASAP, and your recommendations are welcome!) those are just a few people on my personal radar.

You must acknowledge the value of the resources you are offering, and when you do, you must direct them to the right places, projects and people, even and especially at yourself. Be efficient with your power, be smart and do not victimize yourself. Notice the darkness surrounding you, carry your torch high, straighten your back and walk to the forefront. You lead when you are a giver. You guide and empower, you make the first move.

You are the wild card, believe it, own it, and notice how when you take the reigns, the takers follow in your footsteps and not the other way around.

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Wonder disclaimer rant: The Lebanese edition

Welcome to the country of loss. We lose people, and honor here, we lose brilliant brains, and integrity. We lose sight and identify with a continuous fear of loss. We are terrified of the notion, yet we accept it taking over our lives and our country. If you were lucky enough, you know that the first thing we are taught here is how to pretend. Playing pretend is not problematic as long as you are able to identify your reality and its qualities. Pretend becomes problematic when you believe the act, your own act and everyone else’s.

Liberals

What does it mean to be a liberal here? Does it mean that you are agnostic? or does it mean that you have a less than harsh opinion about women? Does it include acceptance of sexual fluidity? or is it solely bound by your weekly practice of yoga at your local gym to blatantly identify as a seeker of inner and outer liberty and peace?

Conservatives

Are the practicing muslims the conservatives of this country? Don’t the latte drinkers, club goers, luis litton wearing gossip queens and kings not count here? Do you become a conservative person when you refuse to pull off that crop top, or body con dress? Or is it a political statement, one where you worship only one blood lord, and not the others? Are the liberals more convenient and generous in hosting leaders in their lives?

Where does money stand in this situation? Are the rich liberal or conservative? If they drive a brand new range rover, does it make them less conservative because they like cool and expensive cars?

Rant Alert

I attempt to excuse myself from this experience as often as possible. Advanced degrees in politics taught me one major lesson:

Don’t believe anyone in politics, and when you find yourself believing in them, know that whatever plan or policy they are preparing for is probably targeted at people like you. You are the audience. The labels don’t matter, those are audience selection tools. Those are summoning strategies and have been used for too long to swiftly gather the attention of “seemingly” like minded individuals.

Don’t believe them when they refer to “others”. Don’t believe them when they refer to “us”. It’s OK to live in the country of loss, just don’t believe the acts around you; but control one thing if you can: Your own reality.

The reality where you do not have good access to water and electricity, as any -liberal or conservative- does in any other state. You do not have a sustainable, consciensous plan for waste management, and soon enough this will affect you personally if it hasn’t yet. You do not have a working political system, a Democracy that has lasted since 2009 without elections. You do not have politicians or leaders looking out for your public good, depending where you stand on the spectrum, you are either a self hating Lebanese, who wishes you were French, American or anything else (western), or are living the life of a soldier ready to give your life at any given que.

It is quite dis-heartening to admit this, while I try to write stories to uplift you to your higher selves, seeking the innate good in myself and everyone else reading this. See, the essence of your goodness is there, but as long as you refuse to stop the act, there unfortunately will be little wonder for you to uncover in this world.

 

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High Diary of Footsteps in the Snow- the Amsterdam experience

The airplane sat on the runway for an hour in delay, and I was unsure whether it was the weather or my anxiety keeping it down. As soon the plane took off something snapped, my mind stopped; there it was: there I was, trapped by the moment. It happens so often it’s like an unconscious ritual by now. My tears start falling every time I leave a new destination, every time that the ground lets me go, my masks fall. All my heaviness is brought down by gravity and all that remains is a soul yearning to soar, and it does. It goes so far away, that I am a changed person the moment I touch down again.

So I keep on searching, and every time I think that I have arrived, I am weighed down by a trembling fear, a fear so tragic that time will not stop again, my eyes will not see the same wonder in the same way again. All the tricks I play on my mind become obsolete and I am left with myself, the self I have been getting to know slowly, and yet most of my light is still foreign, only to be found in the deepest quests inside, and the farthest trips shocking my senses out of a practiced sedation… And so I click my feet again and I leave the mud of familiar spaces.

Where do you go when you leave? What happens to your soul when you let it be? When you unburden yourself of all the excess weight? How do you fix the unnecessary glitches in your day to day conscious experience?

The search for wonder continues and I am nothing but a footstep in the snow. Almost never existed, melting into the bigger fluid experience. All i can do is dig my feet into the snow as violently as possibly and then just lift off lightly, as not to disturb the delicateness of the experience. But then again, nothing remains the same.

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Gary V inspired this

According to Tony Robbins, my driving force in life is a need for significance. Upon completing that quiz, which I was doing out of curiosity and a need for answers on that special day, I realized how true that mostly is.

See, I’ve been religious about motivating myself to do and be more on all levels, whether emotionally, mentally, spiritually, athletically (I’M THIS CLOSE TO A REAL PULL UP) and every other ally there is. And contrary to popular belief, it is NOT exhausting, it is exhilarating!

On my daily roster of motivational speakers is Gary Vaynerchuck, and if like me your driving force is significance then he will curse the laziness out of you.

Most of us are too lazy to be true to what we really want, who we truly are. Most of us graze the surface and skip over the puddle of mud hoping that staying clean is going to teach us something about mud. I find myself complaining sometimes about how things should be, or how someone should have acted or should have said. And in those circumstances I revel in false victim hood. As Mr. V puts it, these things are BINARY. You either do it or you don’t.

Every day that passes we could have taken a small step towards our own greatness no matter what shape it takes. We are taught that excuses are a quick exit strategy, they bail us out of any notion of responsibility that we might have towards becoming more than working, eating, surviving beings. On the opposite end of transcendence are excuses hanging out together telling you why its better to watch a rerun of a silly show, than to actually go and experience what running under the sun feels like.

Everything you do, that is not born out of your essence is useless. Selling out is easy, and many do it as soon as mud hits the fan. Selling out looks like somebody who complains about everything, somebody who refuses to look inwards, somebody who refuses to fall only to stand still and develop a bitterness towards every moving being around them.

Export your ideas, your craziness and your eccentricities into the life you live. Or else, really… what are you doing? You must be quite bored.

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The Power of Anchoring

Look here,

A ship drops its anchor so that it doesn’t drift away. It sails through waters shallow and deep, through conditions stormy or mellow. It adjusts. A ship’s most important purpose is to sail, not sink. Sounds simpler than it is?

You might think that this is an article about sailing, and you are right, it is. Except, you are the ship in this scenario. Try to entertain the image for a second; hold on to it, I’m going somewhere with this.

Now that the ship metaphor is set, remember Inception? you know, the movie about the double and triple layers of dreams; where nobody knows what’s real? Leonardo DiCaprio? I hope it rings a bell. If you’ve seen the movie, then you surely were left questioning its end. Was he still in limbo, or was that his reality? His totem never came to a halt.

Totems are objects carried by the characters through reality and in their dreams, where a single aspect of the totem (rotation, falling to one side..etc) helps them determine whether the current situation is a dream or reality. Those little objects were important queues to their sanity, to their perception of reality, they determined the kinds of decisions they made.

Can you tell where I’m heading with this?

Introducing the concept of anchoring in your daily life

Fortunately for most, determining the difference between dream and reality is not a major problem, Yet acknowledging the ridiculous levels of stress you have is. Wanting to stop mid day and scream that you profoundly don’t care about most of the things you pretend to pay attention to is not unusual. But, that stress is yours, your thoughts are yours and those experiences are yours to be lived. Still with me? In the chaos of everyday, you deserve a pause, a small time out where you anchor, where you remind yourself of what’s real. Anchoring helps you assess your surroundings, and act accordingly. To panic or not to panic? That is the real question.

How do you anchor?

There are many techniques to help you anchor despite the difficulties. Here are two that I’ve experimented with:

1- Carry your own totem, could be a bracelet, a key chain, a marble…etc anything tiny and portable. The trick is to mentally link that totem with a series of thoughts that center you. Picture this: You are in a stressful situation, you reach into your pocket to find your phone, but your fingers graze the soft surface of the marble. Now there is your queue. That is your anchor. Take a deep breath, don’t say anything, another deep breath, think about anchoring, as though your mind took a break, assess your situation, are my thoughts necessary? are my actions necessary? Do i really need to feel this way right now?

Consider your totem a stop sign asking you to calm down, a sign to straighten up your thoughts. It requires practice, but it is highly beneficial.

2- Physically remove yourself from the situation even if for a few minutes and take deep breaths, with the mental plan of calming down. Take yourself on a visual imaginary journey to a location you love, if only for a few seconds in your mind. I usually take myself into the center of lake Como, in Italy; it always does the trick. Other times I imagine myself seated at the highest top of a snowy mountain but feeling absolutely warm, and distant from every human and place on earth; also does the trick. Our minds can’t tell the difference between a physical and mental vacation, it’s all about conviction and attitude.

Lastly, Why is anchoring important?

In the midst of anger, frustration and hotheadedness you rid yourself of clarity, when you let your intense negative thoughts take over, you become blind, and most of the times you lose. So try identifying the situation and attitude you are having right now. Does it seem too difficult, overwhelming, stressful, dark and ominous? Then there is your queue to anchor. Once you do, your temper goes down, your heart races less and you notice the little clues surrounding you telling you exactly what to do and say.

Anchoring allows you to slow down and let go, it allows you to recalibrate. Think of it as a reloading of energy, reassigning of seats. You are the captain, not the situation. And a captain either sails with her ship or sinks with it.

So learn your anchoring techniques and give yourself a tap on the shoulder for not sinking today.