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How to "Snap out of it"

It was Friday morning I had boxes to ship, emails to send, checks to deposit, appointments to schedule and no time to waste. I was stressed and running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  

Got in the car, turn the key and suddenly the radio blasts " Go shorty it's your Birthday, we are gonna party like it's your birthday" and my whole stressed out about life energy changed. I started singing and laughing. My storyline of tasks to achieve melted away and I remembered what was truly important- that I celebrate every day like it's my birthday. 

It wasn't the first time that this happened about 12 years before I had what I consider to this date the biggest heartbreak in womankind. I was 20, driving my gold Cavalier crying my heart out singing Shakira's most depressing song (when she used to write about things that weren't her hips). I was at a stop light just sobbing and the guy in the car next to me rolled his window and said: "just change the song". I started laughing. He was right sometimes what we need the most is to change the song in our thoughts. To interrupt the train, to snap out of it. 

I talk and write a lot about "feeling our feelings" it is a big part of Buddhism and cognitive psychology but first, it's important to differentiate feelings from thoughts.  Feelings are not stories that run through your head- they are emotions that you store in your body and even when sitting with your feelings it's important at times to snap out of it. Last year I took a workshop with the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron called "Making friends with yourself" and one of the students said something that really resonated with me. He said "You can't just go in and feel. You need to be gentle and sometimes you need to leave and come back"  

We all need a break from our mind and even our feelings. Something that brings us to the present. To this breathe, nothing ahead, nothing behind. Just this moment. So maybe it's a loud noise, an alarm, tripping, a crash, the sound of birds- life is constantly sending us little "change the song" messages. Let's use those to snap out of it into what really matters just this one breath. 

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PAIN

Yesterday I called my business partner (sister) because our reviews on Amazon for our Mala Jewelry Line had suddenly dropped. In the business of Amazon that basically means your product sales will drastically dip. As I began to investigate, somebody had bought different bracelets and left bad reviews on each listing saying the exact same thing “DON’T BUY- it broke”. I’m not saying that elastic bracelets are unbreakable but in order for them to break you either have to pull really hard, get it stuck somewhere or wear it long enough until it’s the normal wear and tear (she had only recently bought the bracelets) and it could have happened to one but all of them? Sorry, that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

I always like reading the profile of the person who leaves a bad review. I’m not sure why I feel the need to know the person. I like to imagine how they look and what they are into. Every single review she had written was a complaint. Most people feel the need to share a bad experience and not necessarily a good experience, that’s human nature. But I find it very interesting that in my past research people that have left extremely poor reviews on our products leave extremely bad reviews on every product they purchase. And this really got me thinking- How much pain are people in.

We go through life focusing on our individual pain probably if you are not a narcissist on the pain of people you love - 5 people maybe 10 if you are really lucky. But we don’t consider the pain of every person that walks this earth.  The First Noble Truth usually is translated "life is suffering." but we interpret this as “I am suffering” My sales just dropped because of this witch that’s all I could think about. Not for a second did I consider that witch must be going through something hard to feel the need to leave so many bad reviews.

I’m not saying that we should justify people that don’t act in the best of ways. I’m saying that when people act poorly (sometimes that people are us) they are doing it from a place of pain and if we forget we end up just blaming others and taking on way more than we need. 

When I was 12 I had a “friend” that seemed to be out to get me. Spice Girls was always playing in the background music and the highlight of my life was walking the mall with my friends wearing cheap jewelry and colored sunglasses (we looked as ridiculous as it sounds) My "friend" would invite everybody to her house except me, her parents would host trips and I was the only friend that didn’t get invited (I considered maybe it was my smell or that my parents didn’t have as much money) I cried myself to sleep many nights feeling like an outsider and thinking something was wrong with me. Eventually, I changed schools and found other “friends” who funny enough ended up doing similar things.

But it wasn’t until much later in life when I reconnected with this girl. That I could see how much pain she was in. Her life seemed so perfect on the outside but she was having anxiety attacks, had never been in a relationship, barely had any friends, her mother had the ability to make her feel like she was less ALL the time. I’m sure that was only the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t feel better that she was (and still is) suffering but it does allow me to understand that her suffering has nothing to do with me and that the pain she inflicted was only coming from her pain and this is true for every human being. We are not compelled to hurt others when we feel connected and loved. We do this out of an empty space inside of us.

Some people are better at pretending that their space is not empty and that there is no pain in their hearts but I don’t think anybody can consciously hurt others if they are truly whole and happy.

So my advice- let’s recognize the suffering of others as we recognize our own. Let’s not take on more pain than need it by adding the drama and victimhood of our minds.

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How to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument

Every time I visit my mom in Mexico City she insists that I clean out my bedroom to which I respond “Let's throw everything out! If I didn’t need it for the last 10 years I’m sure I won’t need it now” but something stops her.

My mom and I are very different when it comes to owning things. She has trouble getting rid of a sweater she wore in 1990, while I can basically throw half my closet without blinking.

While going through my books I came across “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. This book was part of a sales workshop I attended during my time working for American Express Publishing. I never read the book because the title sounded to me like “How to be a Fake and get people to do what you want” but on this occasion, I opened it and to my surprise couldn’t stop reading. This book is a gem. One of my favorite reads is when he lists how to keep a disagreement from becoming an argument [pgs. 148-150] He writes this from a business context but imagine if we could use this as a tool with our partners, family or friends. Thanksgiving Dinners would change forever.

 

  • Welcome the disagreement – Remember the slogan, “When two partners always agree, one of them is not necessary.” If there is some point you haven’t thought about, be thankful if it is brought to your attention. Perhaps this disagreement is your opportunity to be corrected before you make a serious mistake.
  • Distrust your first instinctive impression – Our first natural reaction in a disagreeable situation is to be defensive. Be careful. Keep calm and watch out for your first reaction. It may be you at your worst, not your best.
  • Control your temper – Remember, you can measure the size of a person by what makes him or her angry.
  • Listen first – Give your opponents a chance to talk. Let them finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This only raises barriers. Try to build bridges of understanding. Don’t build higher barriers of misunderstanding.
  • Look for areas of agreement – When you have heard your opponents out, dwell first on the points and areas on which you agree.
  • Be honest – Look for areas where you can admit error and say so. Apologize for your mistakes. It will help disarm your opponents and reduce defensiveness.
  • Promise to think over your opponents’ ideas and study them carefully – And mean it. Your opponents may be right. It is a lot easier at this stage to agree to think about their points than to move rapidly ahead and find yourself in a position where your opponents can say: “We tried to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen.”
  • Thank your opponents sincerely for their interest – Anyone who takes the time to disagree with you is interested in the same things you are. Think of them as people who really want to help you, and you may turn your opponents into friends.
  • Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem – Suggest that a new meeting be held later that day or the next day, when all the facts may be brought to bear. In preparation for this meeting, ask yourself some hard questions: Could my opponents be right? Partly right? Is there truth or merit in their position or argument? Is my reaction one that will relieve the problem, or will it just relieve any frustration? Will my reaction drive my opponents further away or draw them closer to me? Will my reaction elevate the estimation good people have of me? Will I win or lose? What price will I have to pay if I win? If I am quiet about it, will the disagreement blow over? Is this difficult situation an opportunity for me?

 

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When we are served shit.

Sculpture by Jose Sacal

Sculpture by Jose Sacal

“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional”

At some point in our lives, we get served what we didn’t order. How we connect and react is the only thing that's in our hands. Let me share with you a story.

My uncle has recently diagnosed with ALS a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the body. The disease began in the tongue so he can no longer speak or eat and this is only the beginning of a long journey.

This man is more than words could ever describe he is a sculptor, artist, family man, world traveler and somebody I personally admire. On Friday I sat next to him, he has an iPad and writes short notes. I was about to fall apart, I could barely hold my tears. That night I didn't sleep thinking what I could do, how could I alleviate the pain that they are going through and suddenly it hit me. 

Nothing. 

I could do nothing and that is one of the most frustrating feelings. When we have nothing to do or give to the people we love. It feels as if we are given a plate full of shit when we ordered the fillet mignon and our reaction is to say- FUCK No! Why me? why him? This isn't fair! How can I fix this?!? Tell me what to do!! NO! NO! NO!

And the angrier we get, as the frustration raises and we push the sadness away. The deeper we dive our head into the shit and we can stay there even get used to the smell, feeling sorry for ourselves for others, swimming in a sea of despair. Living our lives trying to change the situation which is by definition suffering.

Or

We can get our head out of the shit. Creating space for the sadness as well as the joys, for the filet mignons we ate, for the family we created, the words we spoke, the kisses and laughter, not hanging on to memories but seeing our life as a mural.

We can become more compassionate for the pain of others, without feeling sorry for them. We can understand “oneness” by letting go of our arrogance and self-absorption.

Life has changed. No, this is not what we asked for but let's get over that part. So we can rejoice in the little things, we can appreciate life in a different way, find comfort in the simplicity, in the love that surrounds us. We can turn it around, we can use this shit as fertilizer to grow in new ways. 

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Season One Finale

Season One of Toolkit for Life Finale

You guys! It’s the end of Season 1. That is cray, cray the first podcast I ever recorded was a voice note on my iPhone as I was talking I thought to myself "oh this is good, this is really good". I had that Felicity energy in me as I continued to talk. So I borrowed a mic from my neighbor, watched a couple of youtube videos on how to record a podcast and the next day my podcast was live. I didn’t overthink it or marry myself to the idea. I just began. Some days it took me hours to record an episode, other times it was completely organic.

My heart skipped a bit when I realized people were listening but to be very honest I do this because I see no other option than to share what I learn in a world that needs extra mindfulness and to stay inspired to learn more from others.

Today I listened  back to a couple of the first episodes and the audio was off, the music is super loud, you can hear some background noise, some "ums" and "likes" got in the way (I'm working really hard on this one) To be very honest I felt like erasing them but I think I will keep them as a reminder of where I started and how far we will come.

Here are some of the highlights from the last 13 episodes. Let me know if something else stuck my heart keeps skipping a beat when I hear from you.

·       Change your mood by being grateful, doing a backbend and taking a cold shower.

·       Stop Comparing yourself to others by using social media less, comparing yourself only against who you were and not only to the bits and pieces of other people, redefining the word success (more of this on season 2)

·       Heal your relationship with food “When you are trying to change the way you look you will never be able to have a healthy relationship with your body. It's like telling a friend you hate them you wish they would change but then tell them to come over for movies. It just doesn’t work that way. The vicious cycles end when love walks through the door.”

·      When feeling nervous or suffering from insomnia try writing without reading back, at least 3 pages. Use this as a mental purge to clear your mind. 

·       Craniosacral with Michelle taught us the power of using our eyes to access a part of our brain that stores memories and trauma. How juggling can be a great way to booth meditate/concentrate and use our eyes. 

·       Monotasking: The importance of slowing down and doing one activity at a time.

·       Josh Vincent taught us how what we work for on the mat is not a metaphor, we are working on those things off the mat as well. Slowing down and taking the time to explore our bodies with curiosity.

·       Inner Bullying: Recognizing the four voices of fear that show up – the victim, worrier, critic and perfectionist and how they might be keeping you from reaching your goals. This might have been one of my favorite episodes because it was very research based.

·       Use the question- Can you be happy right now? In this moment? When you are feeling overwhelmed and you will notice that 80% of the time the answer will be YES.

·       Build resilience by facing your fears constantly.

·       View your partner as a teacher somebody you can learn from and keep an open heart.

·       In difficult situations become present and offer actionable help.

·       Maring Higa taught us the importance of creating space for our creativity how it allows us to be more receptive and might be what we are missing in our lives.  

What you can expect on Season 2 better music and audio. More interviews I have my eyes on several guests. Less "um" "literally" "like". More engagement on my Facebook group please join here if you haven't. I promise to try and keep inspiring you. 

Thank You for tagging along in this Journey.

 

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