Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy 2 year Anniversary to me!

October 28, 2011.  Two years exactly since the last day of my 'real' job, and the last night I slept in my own bed (In hindsight, it was not the brightest idea to plan both of those events for the same day--- that was a hectic week!!). It's been a truly amazing journey, through which my life's purpose has not only come to light, but has been jumping and dancing and screaming, "Get started on me already"!!!

(ps.. you can read about how I lived 2+ years first rate and jobless: here)

I'm happily engrossed in planning the rest of my life (aka a non-profit company) called The Bloom Woods.  It's not even close to done yet, and I've got a llooooootttttt of hard work ahead of me, but here's a little a snippit to let you know what I've been working on :)

Dr. Nathaniel Branden wrote an incredible book called, "The Power of Self Esteem" in which he insightfully reveals, “If once the challenge was to gain public understanding of the importance of self-esteem, today the danger is that the idea might become trivialized.... and that people will lose understanding of it’s importance.”

Solid, vital, quality information becoming trivialized seems to me one of the biggest problems of our time;  I believe we are in an era of inundation. Countless invaluable resources are readily available: books, manuals, studies, workbooks, gratitude journals (to just state a few).  How to be happy, how to be confident, how to built your courage, how to be healthy, how to love unconditionally, etc, etc etc. A simple glance at the ‘self-help’ section in Barnes and Noble can be harrowing.

Besides the printed info, then we have the tv shows and especially the internet exacerbating the issue tenfold. Not just the websites and workshops and online seminars, but the Ted talks, the videos, advice, the quotes, even some of the cutesy meme’s being put all over Facebook (myself often sharing!).  The ideas and guidance are SO relevant... yet are the messages being drowned by their sheer numbers?  A quick google image search of “positive quotes” comes back with priceless counsel (as well as some terrible advice from teenagers that really shouldn't be armed with photoshop!)...but, I believe people are becoming overwhelmed.   “How come I am still struggling when I know I should be ‘not sweating the small stuff’, ‘enjoying the simple pleasures’, ‘loving myself’, ‘practicing the power of positive thinking’, on and on and on.  We are so lucky to have the counselers, the phycologists, the therapists, the teachers, the life coaches, the natural leaders - and I applaud anyone taking the steps to seek guidance from these. 

Great advice.  But what does it actually mean??

Information is critical and frequent motivation is fruitful, but I also believe without action we can drown. We’re thrown into the ocean without knowing how to swim. Bruce Lee says it well, 

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

One of my strongest, deep-down, catalytic philosophies is that we must DO. We must ACT. We must PRACTICE. It’s common knowledge that if we want to get really good at the guitar, at stitching, at swimming, at playing the piano, we must practice. Natural talent can give a huge advantage, as I have been privy to understand, but that only goes so far if we really want to excel. It’s known that if we want to have a healthy body, we must eat right and exercise consistently. If we want to have a healthy mind, we must use it, challenge it. If we want to have a healthy relationship, we must put forth some serious effort.  It is my profound ambition in life to embody, engage, inspire, and proliferate this message: that we must also practice the traits of the heart, body, and soul:  Compassion, courage, love, connection, empathy, self-respect, authenticity, responsibility, resilience, attitude, honesty, communication, integrity, so on and so forth. 

Dr. Branden mentions that “A disservice is done to people if they are offered ‘feel good’ notions of self-esteem that divorce it from questions of consciousness, responsibility, or moral choice.”   I wholeheartedly agree, and would further the thought by adding, “It is a potentially detrimental deed to present people with powerful wisdom without also endowing them with a practical means of applying it to their life.”

About 22 months ago I first flirted with the idea of opening an ‘adventure retreat’, a 'humanitarian camp'.  It has evolved into a place for adults to experience what I like to describe as “summer camp meets personal growth seminar meets 1-on-1 counseling”.  We’ve all heard of (or maybe were lucky enough to experience) amazing youth camps. The great ones offer not just a rich variety of activities designed to stimulate the imagination, inspire passions, and challenge the skills, but a place to learn integrity, self-confidence, honesty, respect for others, humility, independence, practice decision making, self-expression, team work and group living skills along with exploring (and appreciating) the outdoors and learning to respect individual differences.  Sounds awesome, right? YES- they are.

What might happen though, when someone leaves that camp at age 18?  When life starts getting more hectic, more serious, with more responsibilities?  We spend the next 10 years trying to find our place in the world, discover who we are, what we want- all the while engulfed in a world of mixed messages. Without meaning to, our parents, peers, friends, and leaders are confusing us: 

Follow your passion...but you have to get a degree.
Don’t settle .... but when are you going to meet someone? 
Eat right... but let's stop at Taco Bell, it's easier.
Love your body... but hey, you should get rid of a few pounds.
Be authentic.. but don’t wear that, it’s out of style.
Think for yourself.... but believe me, I know what I’m talking about.
Say what you mean... but don't say that, you'll sound egotistical.
Don’t judge... but look at that slob over there! 
Accept yourself just as you are... but here have a drink, you are more fun when you are drunk.

Whether or not we got to attend youth camp, whether we were introduced to the heart qualities or not, whether we had amazing parents and social circles, or had an abusive and demeaning childhood, whether we were from poverty or affluence, we all had to go thru our 20’s... and all have faced the susceptibility of being buried beneath the social pressures, media influence, life responsibilities, fear of rejection, desire to fit-in, disenchantment of heartache, loneliness, unfair work environments, and pure cynicism from the overall monotony.  The pain, unfairness of life, and belief that the world revolves around us seems to be driving our evolution, instead of the knowledge and practice that our internal strength, control, and attitude can have colossal change on both the actual external world and our experience of it, and the impressions we leave on the people around us.

We may know the lessons, but we don’t always have the means to practice them, or know how to apply them to our unique situations.  Seeking advice is an amazing step forward, and again, I applaud anyone that is searching. 

This is my life motto :)

The grand reality, the big truth, is that we all have the keys we need already within us. With some support, some love, some encouragement, some guidance, and some tools to apply these qualities to our lives, anyone can find their door to happiness.  I've been consulting with, researching, planning and will eventually be assembling a team of physiologists, wilderness therapists, teachers, adventurers, and people of all kinds who have already found their happy, and are living a life that inspires. 

That is what The Bloom Woods seeks to do.  Inspire. 

I knew I wanted to be an architect at age 12. I always had a gift for seeing raw, ordinary, untouched materials on the ground- and being able to envision the glory of them assembled as a whole into an amazing building. I have that same gift as it translates to people. I can detect raw, pure, genuine hopes and dreams and strengths underneath the weaknesses and insecurities. I see the person they really are, and how a little building, a little support, and a lot of worthwhile effort, persistence, and practice- can bring it all together. 

Every person already holds the keys to their happiness, they just need to believe there IS a door, and if they can't find it, they can build it :).

The ultimate, final goal (which may take a lifetime, but I will achieve) is that The Bloom Woods be able to fund the brightest of the souls that I have the pleasure to meet. The people so great, you just want to be around them! I have met so many of these people already, who have to fight the battle of earning a decent living or being a lighthouse in the world. It shouldn't have to be such a hard choice, and I am inspired by those that have succeeded in managing it. Since there is not nearly enough time in a day to accomplish all I want, it became clear that if I can fund these amazing people, who have an idea with a positive effect on the world, no matter how big or small, I can reach farther into my own mission... 

...That is, to change the world :) 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Refuse the Dinner Date

All the single ladies!  All the single ladies! Put your hands up ... and then hurry and hide the left one under your shirt ;). 

This blog is dedicated all the wonderful single ladies I know, or don't know:).
Well, I guess it is for single boys too... just substitute 'he' for 'she'  and think broadly :)
Oh, and it's for gay/lesbian/bi-sexual singles too... I support all love! Exchange pronouns as necessary.
....Oh hell, it's for married people too... you'll get the point ;)

I love being single! I loveeee being single! I love being single!!!

I’m writing this because I’m in my 30's, and I'm happy to admit that I love being single... and I think you should love it too :). For some silly reason, single women start to think they are running out of time around this point. Someone says, “Oh you’re single? How old are you again?”  and she starts thinking she must be unlovable, something must be wrong with her. She’s feeling lonely, feeling bored, and doesn’t know what to do next, so she starts looking for someone to make the next direction of life more clear.   Thinking that if she meets someone, then the next phase will be being a good wife! and then a good mother!  The danger with that is, you’re relying on someone else to decide your fate. 

Ask yourself this question:

If you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that you would never have a lasting relationship, what would you do with your life?  

Do you have a long term goal? Would you change careers? Go back to school? Start a business? Would you find something to dedicate your life to? A cause? A movement? Would you advocate for the weak, for peace, for the environment, for animals, for injustice? Would you learn something new? Try your hand at art? Music? Teaching? Write a book? Start a blog? What’s your passion? Do you envision your gift to the world to be being the best friend imaginable? Or becoming an amazing mother? (Me too! I can’t wait!!!)  I think being an amazing mother is one of the most important things we can do. So could you volunteer with children? Could you inseminate? Could you adopt?  I’d love to see adoption become easier--- Hey, there’s an idea!!  Let’s get 1000’s of women to campaign, crusade, and advocate for improving the adoption system!!!  (if you could get that finished within 6-7 years that'd be awesome, hint, hint, thanks ;)

I love being single, because I love the feeling of loving being single. hah :). Meaning, I’ve got no rush, no ticking time clock, no urgency to go out, no desire to date or pressure to partner up -- because I’m happy.  Not just happy... I'm on fire with happy... and I've got a mission :).

Warning: Being truly happy is dangerous when you want to stay single... think about it ;)

Continuing the theme of recent blogs...I am high on life!!!! Utterly overflowing with positivity, with joy, with glee, and with ideas... I can’t get them out fast enough! Yes, I traveled and accomplished and achieved and have done ridiculously amazing things... yet I’ve never been happier than I am right now.  Harbored up indoors, glued to my computer,  spending 8, 10, upwards of 12 hours a day working on my business plans. I’m settling in, I’m eating right, I’m exercising, it’s all coming together beautifully.  At one point I might have called it luck, but it's not, it's confirmation that I'm on the right path. My heart, mind, soul and body are all aligned, each telling me it’s now time to give back... and I’m listening :).  It doesn’t feel like work because it’s a passion. Living the life I want is indistinguishable from helping others live the life they want! 

... And having a partner, spouse, boyfriend- although extremely rewarding- still takes some serious effort! Completely, totally, amazingly worth-it effort (which can be oh so very funnnnn), but effort nonetheless :).  I know that one day he’ll just walk into my world and I’ll most likely think, ‘shit... okay... ready or not... I’ve got to make time and space for this one.’ 

If you are single, consider yourself lucky. You have the opportunity to work towards getting happy, which entails having a purpose and feeling a sense of contribution to the world.  That’s the first step, just understanding that. You don’t have to avoid all suitors until then, and there’s not a magical line above which you’ve reached it... just keep it always in your mind, to love yourself and let yourself really live. Go back to that question... if it was always just going to be you, you wonderful you, what would you do? Find and follow your passion. If you’re already doing that--- rock on, I'm stoked for you!  If you're already in a relationship- that's great too, I hope it's wonderful and I truly hope he/she supports you in still finding or following your dreams, and you of theirs, and how nice even if those dreams coincide.

I would so adopt Calvin ;)

Now, I’ll finish all that up by saying there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a partner, nor is there anything wrong with seeking one. I’m all for internet sites (there’s another opportunity to advocate against a stereotype!!!) and putting yourself in situations where you’ll meet people with similar values. In a few years whenever I get this business up and running I might start searching too. I’m simply saying... if you want a relationship, want one so that you can share your happiness... not to give you happiness. 

Soooo, with that... If you find yourself attracted to someone, I have one more piece of handy-dandy advice:

Refuse the dinner date!!!

The point of going on a date with someone is because something about them has intrigued you, and you want to know more about that person. In essence, so you can decide if you want to go on another date, right?  Pursue them as a potential long-term companion? (taking out the young 20's somethings here who just want a... 'friend') The more informed you are the better, because there’s a really good chance you can get hooked by the things that aren’t important. Like his charming smile and the size of his biceps. Like the price of the bill, the car he picks you up in, or the prestige of his achievements.  The compliments given, the brand of his clothes, and quite possibly even the hormones in your pants or the alcohol in your veins. 

(Ever heard of beer goggles people?? Hello! If you are looking for more than a fling, or a relationship based on more than phenomenal sex, don’t get drunk! ) 

People can SAY anything they want... better to see what they DO. Our intuitions are powerful, magnificent, incredible machines that quite often get burned out, or even turned off, if you’re not in a good place on your own (see above point!!). You’re looking for substance and character, not just the ability to have a good conversation. ‘Actions speak louder than words’ is brilliant advice. Pretty much anyone with some social skills can have a nice conversation. Why not have a conversation while also getting a peek into how that person interacts? Cooperates? Connects.. with you and with others? Genius!!!  

Bonus---play can be free!!!

Plato knew his shit!!!! So, go play bingo! Go to the fair! Take one of those new paint classes or just find something fun on groupon!!! Anything really! My favorite?  Go on a leisurely bike ride! Anything that involves an action! Does that person ask you where you want to go? Do they let you ride next to them or stay in front? Do they stop for the old lady on the side of the road? Do they go so fast you can’t keep up? Do they stop to smell the roses?? Do they sneak peeks of you when you are not looking? Do they complain about the humidity or praise the blue sky? Positivity is actually more important to me than whether or not he’s got a job ;). 

Dinner is just sitting and talking.... add ANY other element, and you still get to talk, but you get to see SO MUCH MORE!!!! Put together a piece of ikea furniture. Have him teach you how to golf. Teach him how to sew. Do a charity thing. Walk around town and challenge each other to compliment as many strangers as possible. Make sidewalk art with chalk. Suggest doing something that is important to him, unique to him, special to him.... and then do something that is special to you, giving as many opportunities as possible to watch how that person acts and reacts. The end all be all, is to keep it real. 

....and camping! For sure!!

For many women, insecurity is going to be the downfall of this theory (so could cockiness, but that’s another issue!). She might be nervous to get sweaty, nervous to have her hair messed up, or not be fast enough or witty enough or (blank-blank) enough. She’s nervous to make a joke, or look awkward.  If that’s you, start back at the beginning above! Following your dreams and doing what you love and that which inspires you simultaneously and effortlessly builds your confidence. Double whammy awesome :). 

The thing is... would you really want to be with someone that will tease you? Will make you feel clumsy if you fall? Will roll their eyes if you make a bad joke? Will judge your wrinkles rather than your soul? Would you really want to be with someone that tells you nice things but you don’t feel them?  If you want to be loved for just looking good and making the physical impression, then a dinner date is probably okay. Just be weary that you may be asking for someone that falls for how you look above who you are! And just as equally important, be mindful if you are doing those things to him. Society has impressed these reactions upon us to the point of habit. What we ‘should’ say or do, rather than what we actually want to, in order to be cool. Cool is waaaaay overrated! Advocate that!!! :) 

If doesn’t matter if you are gorgeous, smart, funny, wealthy, AND sexy.. no self-respecting man will want to be with a phony, and you shouldn’t either :). Self-respect is the key. Using your intuition (really listening to it), asking, questioning and really listening to the answers, and being authentic is the door.

And yes, it’s okay to think about this now, because the truth is, there’s no better time to work on your marriage than before you have one.

“I love being single” could imply many things. It could imply an inclination to cycle thru numerous sexual partners, a pattern of soliciting attention in order to boost self-esteem, a selfishness over not having to compromise, a protective veil over insecurity, a ‘fake it to make it’ lie one tells themselves to get through their loneliness.  It could imply any of those... or you could just ask “why”?  If someone says something that you don’t understand, ask. :)
You know what they say about assuming. It just makes an ass out of u and me ;) hhehe

I love being single, because I know I won’t always be, even though I easily could be.  

My future significant other will undoubtable be the most amazing man in the whole wide world.  I can say that with total confidence because, why not? The word “amazing” is subjective!!  It’s my wish that everyone out there should not only be with their ‘most amazing man in the world’ and be made to feel like they are to him too.  The word ‘amazing’ means a whole lot of different things to different people. You can’t take offense when someone isn’t interested, because if what they want isn’t what you have, that’s perfectly fine; he simply wasn’t the one.

I've no doubt confounded many suitors. We had a greeeeeaattt time!!! But...

My definition of amazing differs greatly from that of, say, a cosmo type magazine or probably of most women in general. Career man? Big Money? Nice car? I’m not interested in those. Normal? Average? Typical? Oh hellllll no!! hahha. The ‘package’ that he comes in will be a surprise, but without a doubt he’ll be a forever learner and house a beautiful, shining, radiant soul. A hardworking, energetic, kind, affectionate, compassionate, communicative, inspiring and most definitely an unconventional man.   I’m pretty averse to convention, you may have noticed :).  

Begin to love yourself first, and then share your authentic, unique, special gift and overflowing love allllllll over this world, especially with someone that appreciates and reciprocates it in their own authentic, unique, special way :)