All posts by Born to Be

About Born to Be

What's it about? Developing perceptions that can serve a greater purpose with big love. Jessica Nojek is a writer, teacher and life coach trained by successful author and teacher Debbie Ford. Her writing, coaching and artwork are about providing support and encouragement to live a life empowered by reflection on personal self perceptions and perceptions of the world around us. Her writing is intertwined with pop culture moments including music and film that serve as communication tools to demonstrate it's OK to laugh a little at ourselves. Her series, "Owning Your Uncool" features artists telling a piece of their story that inspires us to remember we are not alone in our own personal struggles, and we all feel a little "uncool" sometimes.

If you want to sing out, sing out! Just do it.

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Whatever it is by Ben Lee

As I was perusing the world of Facebook this morning I noticed video post from a recent Ellen DeGeneres interview with the ever so diverse and hilarious actress Melissa McCarthy (Think sink and Bridesmaids? I’m already laughing!). Well, the interview took place on May 20th, so I guess that is considered pretty far behind in the world of media- but I’m just not one of those people that is always quick on the uptake with “talk show gossip”. (Insert smiley face here, if you get my meaning.)

I couldn’t resist taking a look at it. What piqued my interest was the topic and how McCarthy presented the discussion with a harsh critic. The journalist had written a review of a 2014 film that starred McCarthy last year. The film had received a lot of “challenging” attention. This particular journalist was very hard on McCarthy- and it wasn’t for the integrity of her performance. It was for her appearance.

walking in someone else's shoesMcCarthy was affected by the critique, but instead of being rude and critical to the journalist when she was given this unique opportunity, she savored this golden apple with a little talk about perception. She turned the conversation around and asked the journalist to look at the other side of his narrow minded equation. She asked the right questions, asking him how his type of critique could potentially affect someone that he loves- like his daughter. And, it worked.

I felt like this interview was testimony to how turning stories inside out can really create major shifts in our hearts and give us the opportunity to demonstrate kindness and compassion for another’s ignorance. Sometimes we need a little helping hand to see the flip side. Not everyone will be open to it, and that’s where our acceptance can have an even greater ability to heal inner conflicts.

Before I had this little moment with the internet this morning, I was walking through my office and noticed I was wearing a shoe that was squeaking with every step. It made me laugh- because I’m always reflecting on how to walk in someone else’s shoes, much like McCarthy encouraged this journalist to do. Sometimes we just have squeaky shoes, and it takes initiative and a desire to change what is inside of us to look at the cause of our squeaky shoes. Maybe we love our squeaky shoes, but we simply have to throw them away because their appearance does not outweigh their usefulness.

Image via http://meetville.com/quotes/tag/empathy/page9
Image via http://meetville.com/quotes/tag/empathy/page9

In the famous singing words of Cat Stevens,

You can make it all true. And, you can make it undo.

It’s easy. You only need to know, well if you want to sing out, sing out! If you want to be free, be free. Because there is a million things to be, you know that there are.

I’m with Cat Stevens on this one. There is nothing more powerful than the knowledge that you have a choice. You have a choice to be kind. You have a choice to see the other side. You have a choice to be free and sing out. The road may be a little squeaky while getting there, but if you take a moment to look around you, I think you’ll be surprised at how much people are trying.

Love the World, It Needs You.

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Lonesome Dreams by Lord Huron on Lonesome Dreams (You’ll love this song!)

As I started my day today, I found myself in astonishment while reading the latest on the plane crash in the French Alps. While I was at peace enjoying my morning coffee and the beautiful spring weather here in New Mexico, there were people all around the world in pain. There were people suffering because they had lost someone they loved, and not because of some crazy accident. They were lost because another human being chose to take them out.

It is hard to make sense of events like this. And my mind could search all day and night looking for an explanation. My heart knows there is no rationalization, but it continues to ache, nonetheless.

I start to think about the human beings that were on that plane, just like I did when 9/11 happened. I try to imagine what they went through knowing they were about to die. It may be the tragic part of me, but as another human being that experiences fear and pain, I feel there must be something to carry forward and learn for all they went through. Otherwise, how can 150 people die so senselessly?

Our dear friend, Hope.

candles_hopeAs I explore within, I know there are many people that die senselessly every day. But each time I learn about another event like this I still feel stunned in much the same way. The only thing I can do is try to give as much love as I can to the world as it exists around me. I live in hope that that love will eventually make its way to those that are suffering and need it to remember hope themselves.

When 9/11 happened, I was living in Washington DC. I sat with my other stunned friends only miles from the Pentagon, confused about the reality of that day. We felt helpless, and in our helplessness the only thing that we could do was be together. When the first tower collapsed so did something deep within for each and every one of us.

Yet here we are, continuing to live and continuing to feel the loss of others even when we don’t know them. Why? Our connection to one another is something else that the mind cannot rationalize. But again, my heart feels it and I cannot deny what my heart feels. It is the pathway to compassion and paying it forward. In my paying it forward, I am choosing tonight to think of every person I have loved, every person that has given me kindness or compassion, and imagine telling them I love them and thanking them for teaching me something in this life.

Love the World, It needs you.

And for those that have walked away in anger and never looked back, with good intentions I hope they are living a life of peace. If that’s all we can do, then so be it. Our connection is a mysterious thing to the mind. But if we could choose to use our hearts a little more and love the world every day, perhaps it would continue to change for the better. Even if it’s just a little bit, that’s something.

The families of those that lost their lives on Germanwings flight 4U9525 came together today in a wreath-laying remembrance ceremony. How fitting that within each circular wreath lives the symbol for never ending unity.

Hearty Clichés Winning Our Hearts

Recommended Reading (and Dancing!)Soundtrack: “Let’s Go” (featuring Icona Pop) by Tiesto

Reading the reviews AFTER seeing a movie and loving it is always interesting. The critics that detest it give rise to feelings of betrayal. How could they destroy the film that won my heart?! And, what does it say about me, the one boob out there that actually liked it?

mask_of_egoI find it even more enjoyable when it gives me the opportunity to laugh at my deeply offended ego. But hey, sometimes it’s a process to get to that “laughable” moment. With that said, recently I found myself in love with the film, based on the novel by Francois Lelord, titled “Hector and the Search for Happiness.” It wasn’t the film’s captivating cinematography, enthralling script, or phenomenal acting that won me over, it was the humanity of the story. So, I can see why my interpretation would have conflicted with the “critics.” Hey, I’m only human.

As one of those wacky humans that is drawn to stories that instigate reflection with lots of crying on my part, I am always soul searching. My brother loves to send me movie trailers that he knows will cause me to “ball my eyes out” while watching. It’s like I’m reliving that scene in the film Scrooged when Bill Murray witnesses a childhood Christmas Eve moment in his life where his mother says, “Goodnight, Frankie Angel.” My brother is the Ghost of Christmas Past shouting, “Niagara Falls, Frankie Angel!”

I am a Hearty Cliché

As I journeyed with Hector on his search to all the places around the world he thought could teach him happiness I pondered his lessons and tried to stay on top of them as Hector kept getting into conflicting situations that were both painful and enlightening. One of my favorite “lessons” was:

Happiness is a certain way of seeing things.

Hector-will-make-you-happy

Every aspect of happiness Hector covers in his mind is greeted with our old friend, perception. Not only the one I’ve noted, but all of them! Because it is about exploring our perceptions that helps us see past them and come back to that hearty cliché within us all. Yes, I own it San Francisco Chronicle (I read your review!), I am a “hearty cliché” and proud of it!

When I was going through my divorce I was definitely not happy. But the “during” part of our hard, life-changing experiences where we have to make those tough choices are never going to be filled with rainbows and leprechauns. Later, as I saw the whole picture over that one detail- the yucky smudge on my face, I couldn’t help but laugh and feel the happiness that we innately relate to. And that happiness is tied to every negative emotion that I entertain in my own life’s happiness search.

Sometimes it helps me to put on an anthem song while I’m plummeting into the depths of despair and step outside of my life for a moment. As I watch it taking place like I watched Hector struggling to come to terms with a life threatening situation in a jail cell shared with a lone rat, and drug criminals pointing big guns in his face, I not only feel better about my own life but I also create a little detachment from my self-induced rock bottom. There is only one way to go once you hit rock bottom, that’s up- thank you hearty clichés!

Leaving Where We Come From

Recommended Reading Soundtrack: On Your Own by Distant Cousins

There are moments in our lives when we grieve. When they happen, I feel we go through a deciphering process of what it is that we are really grieving versus what we think we are grieving. Our heart rests in that moment between you and an emotional hankering for what you thought you knew- sadness, joy, forgiveness and love. These are the things that we take with us, no matter how far away the plane ride or the drive is from where you come from.

But the question remains, why is it so hard to leave where we come from?

There are scores of films, music and books about it. And I seem to gravitate toward many of these stories. Our story is a powerful thing, easily mixing with every form of communication we have created. All of our stories have one thing in common- the truth of who we are is buried inside of us along with veils of expectations, perceptions and sometimes denial. The human heart will always play the role of the decipherer and give us the direction we are constantly seeking amidst all of these veils.

drseuss_memoriesAs I was re-watching the ending of the film “This Is Where I Leave You”, that old familiar song began to play in my heart. The emotions welled as Jason Bateman’s character says farewell to his family after coming together for his father’s funeral. Each sibling goes their separate ways, but even though they were physically going in different directions, you can see the inner conflict in their faces and body language. No words were needed, just a great song and a look to say it all.

Where we come from is more than a house, more than some land, and more than a voice that replays over and over again in our head like a mixed tape. It’s a complicated, dimensional tale that produced not only who we have chosen to be, but how we react to the world around us, and every judgment we hold against ourselves (beware!). When you pull all of that together into a person, a magical thing unfolds- life.

Sometimes it does not seem so magical to the eye, but we just keep truck’n nonetheless. Why? I’m sure you, me and everyone around us continues to ask this question- especially when you want to pull your hair out and just throw your cell phone, computer or tablet into a lake. Giving up seems like this big open space that could potentially swallow up all of our frustrations without much harm. But is giving up letting go of our expectations or deciding not to believe in our dreams anymore?

Nothing says hope like WALL-E!
Nothing says hope like WALL-E!

“Don’t give up hope. It’s a chore.” Margaret Atwood

Recently I had the great opportunity to hear an interview with author Margaret Atwood. At the end of the interview, the journalist asked her if she had one last thing she wanted to say to the audience. Quickly she scrambled to say, “Don’t give up hope. It’s a chore.” Wise words? Wise words, indeed. What if leaving where we came from wasn’t about saying goodbye to all that good stuff that makes us who we are today, but about embracing it and knowing that it will always be there in every good thing you do?

I can’t help but be intrigued by these words of wisdom by Ms. Atwood. The idea that choosing hope over all the naysayers (we are our toughest critics!) and really believing in yourself and your dreams is not something that just happens- that you have to perpetuate it and be conscious of it like any other practice. All I can do is repeat it over and over again like a mantra- a song, a story.

So, this is where I leave you. Remember, “Don’t give up hope. It’s a chore.” You have to keep on truck’n- your life is worth it.

What’s Going to Be Your 2015 Top of the Pops?

Recommended Reading Soundtrack: Hold On When You Get Love, and Let Go When You Give It by the Stars on album No One is Lost

A directionally challenged life

The beginning of a new year, the end of another- an opportunity marked by reflection, honoring and engagement with our personal dreams and intentions. It’s a special occasion where the vision for our future, and the present state of our hearts holds a deeper meaning. As we live day to day there seems to be an inner compass within us continuously directing the traffic of our choices. Now is the time to look at how well we’ve been listening to that inner compass, or better yet- where we’ve been living a directionally challenged life.

new-years-best-of.jpeg

Like the new season of a favorite show (Hmmmm…., can you say “Downton Abbey!”), the release of an album by an artist we’ve been following for most of our lives, or the opening of all those end of year movie gems- we get to have our own refreshing personal premier of something reflecting our annual personal growth.

I don’t believe in types, I believe in people. Tom Branson, Downton Abbey, Season 4

If you are a die-hard fan, preparing for the first episode of a favorite show’s new season actually takes some work. There’s nothing like turning on the first episode after a year and feeling like you are asleep in one of those adult nightmares where you show up for your senior year in high school and basically have forgotten EVERYTHING. I decided to dig up some Downton Abbey in my own preparation for the U.S. Sunday night’s highly anticipated 2015 season 5 “coming out” party. As I listened and enjoyed all the drama taking place, I noticed a line that had a profound effect on me.

mast-downton-s4-series-icon-hires

Downton’s progressive character Tom Branson was enjoying a conversation with an attractive and potential romantic interest, a teacher who shares many of his socialist ideals. She was expressing her opinion about “types” of people during a time when classism was beginning its big dive in early 20th century England. Branson rejected her notion that “types” of people existed in his heart with a great line, “I don’t believe in types, I believe in people.”

I’ve been dwelling on this line for the past few days as it is a perfect reflection of not only the last year of my life, but probably the past 25 years. Seeing past the stereotypes and labels of the world around us frees us from the expectations of our lifetime of brainwashing. It frees us from all the pressure we place on ourselves to be a certain way, or meet some society’s expectations of what a “good” or “successful” person is supposed to look like.

attitude-blue-choices-color-life-Favim.com-287558As we get older, we tend to play this out in different ways. Usually in our immediate post-high school years we experience freedom from the cliques that held us hostage from loving all those wacky aspects of ourselves. But then we start to put a new kind of pressure on ourselves like career and relationship successes. Next, we hit a wall with age 40 and berate ourselves for not fulfilling all of those “dreams” or “career deadlines” we were “supposed” to fulfill (Think Billy Crystal in “City Slickers”!).

But you know what’s awesome about your life? You have a choice to either go down the path of great expectations or take the path less traveled from your heart. The cool thing about this choice is that you get to determine what this path less traveled is and what it means to you. You get to determine you. You are that rock star that sits down to write a new album; you are that writer that gets to create a new series about what’s important to you. You are the leading lady or gentleman in your film.

There is a great conversation in the film “The Holiday,” where very old in body character Arthur played by Eli Wallach is out to dinner with Iris, Kate Winslet’s character. As she talks about her rather dysfunctional relationship, Arthur looks at her and tells her, “In the movies we have leading ladies, and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady. But for some reason are behaving like the best friend.” Iris responds, “You are so right. You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life for God’s sake.”

Top_of_Pops

So the big question remains. As we embark together into 2015, what do we want our “Top of the Pops” line-up to be? What do you want your greatest hits to be? Remember, whether you choose the path of great expectations or the path less traveled, neither one of them will be easy. But I have an inkling that one is more rewarding. Being the lead in your own life is about authenticity. It’s about owning all of you and making choices that reflect your greatest hits list.

Like the song by the Stars says, “It’s time to take the weakest thing in you, and then beat the b$#@%#$@* with it!” Cheers to an awesome 2015- from my heart to yours.

Holiday Madness Treasures in the Random Overheard

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Make it Home by Juliana Hatfield (classic from holiday episode of My So Called Life!)

When I read this week’s writing challenge topic, I found myself in a whirlwind listening to my little world’s background noise of random people, radio show hosts, television, films and even my own tragic mind that never seems to stop talking. I thought to myself, “What might I overhear that could hold the potential of “interesting,” “hilarious,” “witty” or even “thought provoking?”” I was on the hunt, and- I wasn’t having much luck in any of those departments. I ended up resorting to something completely different!

One of my favorite columns in local city papers is the “Overheard” column. In this little paragraph blurb there is always something amusing and maybe not provocative, but just plain bewildering. So, I ended up turning to the internet which we all know is chock-full of random little diddles! When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but an awesome website that catalogs random “overheard” tidbits to make us all laugh (and maybe cry depending on your mood). One of my favorites stood out like a sore thumb in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season kick off, so I thought I would ponder it a little- with you of course!

Guy on cell: My mom’s husband is my dad’s wife’s ex-husband. Now you know why I live in Seattle–as far away as I can get on the continental US.

Bank of America
Seattle, Washington
Overheard by: Thinking holidays must be rough
Posted November 7, 2014 on http://www.overheardeverywhere.com

Much like a scene in a film depicting the one thing everyone loves about holidays, family drama, this overheard statement provokes many of my own favorite scenes that have been burned into my brain through incessant movie watching. I love these types of scenes because they give me the opportunity to laugh at my own personal drama like a coping mechanism. It’s not always easy to remember when that anxiety needle is moving higher and higher to meltdown level in the middle of a situation, but our experiences are linked to our own emotional past.

Stepping back and taking a look at what might be upsetting us from the vantage point of a random passer-by overhearing our conversation might make things a little easier, and in the end, even make us laugh. A lot of people feel technology has made us as human beings more isolated. There are moments when I want to pull my hair out- like when your boss that is in an office right next to your cube refuses to just speak to you and prefers an on-going 1 hour conversation/argument via email.

But there are also moments like standing in a bank and overhearing someone talk about the complexities of their life on a cell phone in a way that helps you cope with your own personal stress. As Thanksgiving in the US slowly creeps around the corner (1 week away, ALERT!), my heart has begun its annual craving for the film Home for the Holidays with classic Anne Bancroft, Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr and directed by Jodie Foster.

turkey_home_holidaysThere is a scene in this film where Downey’s character is cutting 1 of the 2 family turkeys at Thanksgiving dinner, and he accidentally flings it across the table at his angry, intolerant sister. His sister literally blows her top/loses her mind and hurls bigoted expletives at her gay brother like Will Ferrell in Elf’s legendary snowball fight. At first you can’t believe the verbal diarrhea that’s landing in everyone’s food is real. But minutes later everyone recovers through their own sense of humor by sharing their also “not so great” life moments. Owning our “uncool” can be a challenging process, but when we share it with others it brings us closer to one another. It breaks down the invisible fence that we create between one another due to perception and allows us to see that everyone has some life hurdle playing on repeat in their mind and heart. Can you say, “Expectations?”

Maybe now I will keep my antenna up and be a little more cognizant of what people are talking about around me. You never know what door a complete stranger will open for my own mind’s perceptual barriers! Treasures are lurking everywhere, even in the most unexpected places. Perhaps these treasures are the real gifts of our holiday season?

Credit:  Featured picture of tree & lights by Beverly LeFevre, sold on Etsy.