Tag Archives: Ego

Let’s Take the Leap Together! What Does Being a Loser Mean to You?

Recommended Reading Soundtrack: Hello My Old Heart by the Oh Hellos

I am a sucker for a movie scene that perfectly depicts a person leaping from the top of their game into the great abyss of the murky unknown. Writer/Director Cameron Crowe gives us plenty of these charming moments in his Oscar winning film “Jerry Maguire.”

Lead character Jerry is quickly figuring out that life is not what it seems as the masks of those he trusted are speedily being removed one by one, vulnerably exposing him to the littered path of his own clouded ego. To add another nail to his perceived coffin he realizes that his relationship with his fiancé is doomed. The breakup scene ends with a punch to his face nudging him further into the quicksand of his life with a declaration of his official entrance into Loserville. Classic.

Maybe looking into the silver lining of that “loser” feeling is not such a bad thing? Perhaps owning our inner “loser” leads to promising, untraveled roads and an appreciation for that which we judged – particularly about ourselves. Maybe it’s the only thing that can pull us out of our self-made quicksand?

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So the question remains, what does being a loser mean to you? This is exactly what legendary Seattle-based record label Sub Pop wants applicants to answer for its annual “loser scholarship” award. When I first learned about this scholarship I couldn’t believe it. I found myself staring at the computer screen questioning my eyes and cognitive ability to process what I was reading.

In my heart Sub Pop has historically been a record label that supports the independent artist, introducing the world to talent that wouldn’t have a chance with a commercial giant. And then, to stumble upon their scholarship program students willing to talk about their failures and how it brought them closer to their goals?

So I decided to look into my own productive failures and answer that question as if I were lucky enough to be an Oregon or Washington high school senior vying for the scholarship. Out of all the questions on the bill, I’m torn between what being a “Sub Pop” loser means to me and how my biggest failure has brought me closer to a life goal. But in all honesty I feel the two questions go hand in hand.

I wish I could go with something light, like when I naively attempted to sing a song from The Little Mermaid at Karaoke and totally bombed. Then BS my way into some deep lesson behind the whole experience, but for some reason I don’t think that was Sub Pop’s aim. So I’ll go to the dark side.

Hello, Loserville

hello_loserWhen I was in my mid-20s I met someone that was a perfect pairing for my co-dependent self. He was an addict and I was an addict in my own way, constantly in search for my next fix of feeling needed. I was too scared of being alone to listen to my own inner voice that told me something was not quite right.

Just like Jerry in Crowe’s film, there was a moment in my relationship where I had a clear choice to exit and work on my fears of being the “loser” alone. But I didn’t have his courage to say, “It’s over” yet. So instead I married him and dragged my entire family into the dysfunctional relationship. Shortly after, I divorced and held onto a lot of shame around my “failure.” It took a long time to forgive myself, and not feel like the “loser” that exposed my family to the mess of me.

The Turning Point

This was truly a landmark failure from my ego’s perspective, but from my heart it was a turning point in my life that inspired me to become emotionally healthy and learn to value what I had to offer the world. This included a gift we all have- the gift of inspiration. We are here to inspire one another to become aware of our light in its entirety. Every time we feel like a “loser” and learn from that experience we have an opportunity to demonstrate to someone else that their life matters.

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haiku on love by tyler knott gregson

At the end of the recent “Biggest Loser” finale, one of the contestants named Colby Wright shared that in telling his story about his father’s suicide and the pain it caused him as a son and human being, someone that had also been planning to take their own life reached out to him. The viewer told Colby that because he opened himself up and shared his story, they decided to get help and not give up their life.

To me, that’s what being a “loser” is all about. It’s about making mistakes, owning them and sharing them with others even when we feel vulnerable and scared. Whether it’s through our art, or just talking to someone you know that needs help- we can all make a difference in this world through our unique experiences and productive failures.

Let’s Take the Leap Together

I say- let’s take the leap together and share with others what makes us human. Whether you call it feeling like a “loser” or giving up- it’s all one in the same. We are all here to teach one another that the trip to Loserville is not the end, it is only the beginning.

How Forgiveness, Death & Dying Taught Me to Love Infinitely Bigger

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Dark Matter by Andrew Belle on Black Bear

Is it really 2016 already? Clearly I’ve been out of the loop with my writing and once you pass a certain timeline it’s like you’re Jerry Seinfeld in that episode where he can’t remember the name of the girl he’s dating but it’s too late to ask her. What did it rhyme with again? Awkward!

In the spirit of the New Year, I thought I’d come clean on my online absence and connect with y’all on what’s been clouding my own purposeful perception. Last year I was gifted with an abundance of dreamy opportunities to reevaluate how I authentically support my passions. In a way it was one of the most illuminating years I’ve ever experienced in finding my voice. And, it’s not that my voice was lost. It was simply ready for a bit of refining around the truth behind my art.

Sometimes our minds have so much noise in them it’s like we have a microphone loudly spewing static in our heads. And suddenly, REM’s Michael Stipe has taken over everyone’s voice box shouting “What’s the frequency, Kenneth!” over and over again until you just can’t stand it anymore. Our mental static acts as a truth deterrent.

buddha-grief-quoteLife, Cancer & Death

It’s those deep troughs in life that make us stop and question our choices and how they support what we say we want in life. At the beginning of last summer it was shared with me that my ex-husband was delivered a grim diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer that had spread into other vital organs.

Only a few months later I learned that his cancer progressed and he suddenly passed away, leaving behind his young daughter and many shocked, devastated friends. When we divorced there was a lot of anger that fueled a regretful and sorrowful separation from his daughter. It was never addressed between us again.

And now, it never will be.

Spark_of_Light_by_Swift218“Unforgiveable”

Sadly, my heart had harbored a spark of hope that one day it would resurface in the form of forgiveness. Instead I found myself reliving my divorce with the added bonus of painful, lingering memories. I grieved alone the death of someone that I loved, despite all the crap that we slung at one another. I went to the dark side and found myself scanning through old emails only to find the last words he ever said to me, “What you did to me and my daughter is unforgivable.”

What we choose to say to others, even in our lowest points, has consequences. In reading these words I felt a profound sadness different from the past. I felt distraught that even in facing death we can allow our stubbornness and the need to make someone wrong get in the way of forgiveness. Our mortality is irreversible.

It is easy for us to take for granted the miracles that abound from every little connection we make in life. The support of our relationships can collapse around us at any moment with life’s endings. Every word we share with another is an opportunity to be kind and practice love. We can choose to live life as a prayer of self-forgiveness that heals our hearts and frees others from the chains of past judgments. The challenge arose for me in forgiving myself without any possibility of forgiveness from the other party, a one sided conversation.

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So I went on a little journey and after weeks of carrying around the emotional weight of his death, our past, and the inability to tell his daughter that I loved her, that I was sorry- I reached a general consensus with all the voices I’ve invented in my head. It yielded a new commitment to never compromise my truth again. Life is a collage of precious moments worth much more than the value our ego places on it. This includes what we tolerate from others.

My self-declaration forced some positive, life altering changes.

Six months later, I am now ready to get back in the twinkle light parade. What does that mean, exactly?

Welcome back, my dear friend. Welcome back the sun.

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Julianne Kuko, 9, holds a drawing of the sun as she and her classmates perform a song to welcome the first sunrise in 58 days. Rebecca Hersher/NPR

I heard a touching story the other day on NPR about a tiny town in Greenland called Ittoqqortoormiit that has been without sunlight for 58 days. The town’s seasonal cycle of darkness recently ended and as the sun rose for the first time since November children gathered in a circle on top of a hill with colorful cutouts of the sun.

Together they sang their traditional song, “Welcome back, my dear friend. Welcome back the sun.” Hearing the song reminded me of how I feel coming out of the wormhole that was my last 6 months. Every now and then we are gifted with a glimpse into the magnificence that we are through the abundance of love and lack thereof bustling around us. It’s what we do with this personal glimpse of light rising out of our darkness that matters.

Today, and forever- Let’s Rock Big Love! Jess

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.

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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!

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Limitless? “Get Real!”

Recommended Reading Soundtrack: “More than Life” by Whitley on album The Submarine

There are those moments tied to places from our past that emit a certain electricity. Times where we have felt right on our game, and nothing was going to get in our way of accomplishing our “Mission Impossible.” Growing up, ballet class was not one of those places for me. There were times in ballet class when I just wanted to disappear; when I ruthlessly compared myself to the “tiny” pretty girls and made unconscious decisions about my own “potential.” But I loved to dance so much that I continued in my Marcia Sue School of Dance class off that country road behind a donut shop from the time I was a smiling naïve kindergartner to a crazy teenager in high school.

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I remember one afternoon while we were stretching our teacher asked us as a group what our dream was for our future. There were lots of “classic” answers. One of my classmates that I had known for years stated the trendy answer for girls in the late 80s/early 90s, “President of the United States.” I remember thinking, “why would anyone want that job!” I still feel that way, honestly. But I digress.

To me, the idea behind our “potential” as human beings contains a lot of emotional and sexist rhetoric. Defining what our greatest potential really means is a topic that intrigues me, especially as I engage in analyzing my own root belief systems and negativity.

The Quest to Define Our Potential with the Ego

There is a lot of talk out there about our inability to acknowledge the limitless nature of our potential as human beings. There are movies about it with titles so simple, how could we question their content? Titles like, “Limitless.” Or, one of my favorites? “Phenomenon!” We place a lot of limits around ourselves regardless- and they constantly transform. Stubbornness, and the need to make someone we are angry with wrong, is probably one of the most common limits I see in my work on myself, and with others.

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But recently, I saw a film that blew my mind when I least expected it. As I sat in silence after the end of this heart wrenching story about a tortured soul and their abuser, I thought to myself, “Wow, now there is a man that truly lived his greatest potential. I can only hope I can love as big as he did.” The story was based on the autobiography, The Railway Man, by Eric Lomax. Lomax was a British Army officer who was sent to a Japanese POW camp in 1942 with the surrender of Singapore and forced to participate in building the well-known “Death Railway” in Thailand.

While in the camp he was tortured for telling the truth, and although he physically survived the torture and war, his heart was tormented and in pain for most of his life. In the early 80s he fell in love and remarried a woman that loved him so deeply, she was willing to risk losing her husband to help him heal his psychological wounds. This involved confronting the darkness that he was not able to reveal, even to her.

Lomax’s closest friend and also a former POW from the same camp located the interrogator that largely participated in his psychological and physical torture. His interrogator, Takashi Nagase, was living in Thailand and as part of his own personal atonement for participating in the war, had financed a Buddhist temple and museum near the bridge at the River Kwai where he gave tours. Lomax was determined to go to Thailand and kill him, but what ended up happening is an incredible story of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Owning Our Inner Freebird!

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Lomax ended up becoming good friends with Nagase, a man that lived in his head as his greatest enemy for 40 years. How is it, that something so extraordinary, can happen? This is the truth of our potential as human beings. To be able to recognize that ignorance can cause someone to act out wrongly and truly see that their ignorance was not their truth. To be able to reconcile with our enemy is the greatest gift we can give to our self, and will enable us to move beyond beliefs that keep us stationary in life. Freedom in our hearts, that “Free Bird” if you will (having visions of a papier mache bird on fire comically flying over the heads of memorial attendees in Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown here!) has the potential to take you to unimaginable heights. These heights are only determined by you, and your own purpose in life. It is up to each of us to question what brings us joy- even if that means being the “President of the United States?”

Time to Get Real

The idea of embracing our limitless potential is about getting real with ourselves. If you can’t look into the mirror and question yourself, “where am I putting up a big STOP sign in my heart,” then you will continue to experience limitations behind the inability to forgive. I do believe it exists, this limitless potential, but without one another we can’t get there. Each of us has a gift to give to the world, to one another- it just may not be what you “think” it is. Now then, let’s REALLY get real!

Bearing Witness to Your Light on the Horizon

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  MountainTop by Bedouin Soundclash on Album “Light the Horizon”

Recently I found myself engaged in my annual hiking tradition of tackling a 12,600 foot mountain called Santa Fe Baldy here in New Mexico. As I was rising higher and higher in altitude up this beautiful giant that holds a special place in my heart, my inner rock star was on repeat with the song Mountain Top by Bedouin Soundclash. Over and over again the words cycled “Up on the Mountain Top!” while I grew more and more out of breath. I even ran into an older gentleman whistling Chariots of Fire (his own inner rock star was clearly on a different plane), which sounded as loud as my first Alpine speaker system in my very old college VW Rabbit because the mountains are enveloped in a profound quietude at 7:30 in the morning, but it could not overpower this punk rock motivation.

Climbing a mountain, in the isolated wilderness as nature buzzes along in sync with the sunrise for 14 miles gives you a lot of time to be alone with yourself- your mind and all its delusional perceptions. It became a metaphor for my life, as it often does, and did in the very song by Bedouin Soundclash. We are constantly moving even when we don’t want to, toward a horizon colored in disaster and joy. The sky can be mucked with clouds and thunderstorms but that horizon still exists beneath the cover. Our mind can be rattled with aggravation, depression, or anxiety- but life just keeps buzzing by and we have a choice to either go along with it, or let it push us forward kicking and screaming.

Oh, There You Are Peter

A few days after my hike, the news regarding the death of Robin Williams struck my heart as it did do many others in this world. I know that much of our planet has been writing about it, talking about it, dedicating time spots in television with some of his most memorable movies. But I can’t help but express my own sadness about his passing. I didn’t know this man, but I felt like I did. I grew up with him and his improvisational genius. His smile became a permanent fixture in my heart from the scene in Hook when he begins to remember his inner Peter Pan, his truth (Click Here to Watch!).

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Life’s challenge to remember our joy can be like climbing a mountain and never reaching that beautiful view promised to you by all the hiking guide books. Yet, he helped me remember it all the time! In fact, there were times where I myself wanted to let go of this life and would lay in my bed crying, wishing that I no longer had to endure the forgetfulness that comes with being human. But I would put on Hook and remember that amidst the struggle of my mind’s demons there was something inside me that recognized itself in the people around me (even when I wanted to shoot the television when the miscast Julia Roberts came on screen as Tink- nothing against you Ms. Roberts).

I think about how his world as a celebrity must have been so strange. Always having to put on a face for people when he might have felt desperation inside his heart. It is so easy for us to play the part of someone else even when we might not want to go there. But when the cameras were on, he was so good at it! And I believe that all of us are pretty darn good at it. We’ve been programmed to forget who we are and why we are here.

Your Fantabulous Light on the Horizon

But you know what, Mr. Williams? You helped me remember- because you struggled with it yourself. You helped a lot of people remember and that was your gift to us. Over the weekend I had the unique pleasure of getting to spend a few days with my niece and nephews on the east coast. Aladdin was on, and so was Mrs. Doubtfire. I saw my niece light up with laughter at age 5 when she saw Mrs. Doubtfire’s fake boobs catch on fire while cooking for the first time. I had the opportunity to talk to her about the fantabulous joy you brought to so many people’s hearts, and will continue to bring with what you’ve left behind for us to bear witness to your soul’s gifts, the light on the horizon.

“Because You’re a sky full of stars,” brought to you by Coldplay

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With all that I am, I shall continue to be inspired by you and hope that I can bring others comfort much in the way you brought it to me. Sometimes we may feel lost, but if we can just remember the Peter Pan that we truly are in what we share as human beings, we have a chance at seeing the joys of Never Never Land even when we are experiencing the life of another human being toiling away in our cubical. Your generosity can only be described as that light on the horizon that we see so often and linger in its beauty. “You are a sky full of stars.” Thank you.