Tag Archives: life coach

Special Interview Series Launch! Aussie Musician Ben Lee Owns His Uncool

OWNING YOUR UNCOOL: THE SERIES- WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Love Won’t Let You Down By Ben Lee featuring Sally Seltmann on A Mixtape from Ben Lee (Click on track 11, you won’t be disappointed!)

In September of 2013 I wrote a blog post in response to a weekly writing challenge about “Owning Your Uncool” rooted in one of my favorite quotes by the character Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s brilliant film, Almost Famous. The quote has become a sort of compass for me in my life, and I find myself inspired by its meaning on a regular basis. Like a ritual, “owning my uncool” is something that I do in order to remain humble, compassionate and engaged with others and myself as we experience our process of living and existing in a confusing ego-driven world.

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Lester Bangs’ quote was a response to a rock bottom moment in Almost Famous when the lead character, William, was hit with a tremendous case of self-doubt. His experience taught him that the great music legends he worshiped had a flip side, a culture behind it that was manipulative and egotistical. In other words, he was outliving his naivety and getting acquainted with the dualistic humanity that potentially exists within all of us.

I am excited and inspired to be opening this series with a special “owning your uncool” moment from Aussie musician extraordinaire Ben Lee. As the readers of my blog know, and to the new readers out there- music is an important part of my own journey as a writer and artist. Just one song can change everything!  Ben Lee has been one of those inspirational artists to me in my own life, so being able to feature him in the opening of this series is basically AWESOME.

Ben_LeeA little ditty about Ben Lee, from me.

His music is honest and a constantly evolving reflection of his heart. Breathing Tornadoes was one of those albums that I could listen to over and over again. When I moved a world away from Washington, DC to Santa Fe, NM, I was caught up in the moment of learning how to be true to myself in a foreign social landscape. And yet, Breathing Tornadoes seems like light years away from his newest music.  His 2015 tour is in full swing with the release of his newest album, Love Is the Great Rebellion. Australian Stage Tix calls his music “upbeat, heart-on-sleeve pop.”

Being true to yourself in a wacky world full of expectations and projections can quickly become a challenge to simply not get sucked into the black hole of “who you’re supposed to be.” In anything we do, putting yourself out there takes courage because there will always be those that make their living through criticizing. With that said, below is Ben Lee’s answer to a question that is about showing the world we are all human and struggle. We don’t have to be alone in our struggles- even the most successful people have had their fair share of feeling insecure and realizing that their perception of the world was not necessarily the truth.

“I won’t hide, and you won’t win!”  Ben Lee

Me: Can you tell my readers about a time in your life, where you felt that same “uncool” and isolation inside as the character in Almost Famous, and how you used that moment to propel yourself forward in your life?

Lee: I remember being 14 and getting a stack of bad reviews from the English press sent to me by my label. They thought I would find it funny, but being 14, and having not yet developed any kind of thick skin, I was quite devastated. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe the brutality of them. The teasing. The resentment. I had never been exposed to that degree of vehemence. It knocked the wind out of me.

Later, after processing the unexpected loss of innocence I knew what I had to do. I cut each of the reviews up, made a collage of them, and included them in the artwork for the first Noise Addict album. It was an act of alchemy. I suddenly took control of the situation and wore the ridicule that I had been subjected to with an effortless act of defiance and pride.

Obviously, this was a temporary solution. There have been deeper levels at which I, like every other artist, have needed to confront my own need for validation, fame and success. I have had to systematically tear down these false idols, and continue down the path of artistry towards my ultimate goal. But in that moment, I did something important. I stood up and said “I won’t hide, and you won’t win”. And that was the beginning of my understanding of true success.

Me:  Thanks Ben!  Your authenticity rocks, I am grateful for the role your creative endeavors have played in my life.  I hope that everyone reading your response will take away something inspiring, and make the personal decision to also not hide their light out of fear of the critics.

I once heard you say that “the process is the actual award.”  There are times when we might feel like Winona Ryder’s character in Reality Bites as she slowly sinks into the bell jar with every move we make to better a situation.  But we can shift that moment with a new perception rooted in “Love as the Great Rebellion.”  When we’re in it, it’s hard to see outside of our foggy glasses of self doubt.  Let’s Rock Big Love!

You can check out more about Lee’s music at his website, http://www.ben-lee.com, or on his Facebook page.

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!

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.

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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.”

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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.

Owning My Uncool Is Not a Bad Thing

Recommended Listening Soundtrack: Cool Rock Boy by Juliana Hatfield

Who has found themselves laughing while watching the opening scene of one of the greatest satirical films ever made- (at least if you live in the US and have my mind) Office Space, while the dreaded commute to work is taking place and the ever so high-strung and very white character named “Michael Bolton” is ironically rapping away in his sedan? And then, as he sees a black man selling flowers on the street he actually shrinks into his seat, locks his car door, and turns down the music; only to turn it up again once he gains distance from the flower peddler. All you can do is LAUGH out loud at his absurdity. This is what I call a low point- a moment of strangely misplaced fear yielding the ultimate “uncool” goo, yet ever so funny for the audience.

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Why is it so funny? Good question. I recently had my own experience of oozing “uncool” goo that might shed some light on the subject. As you might have noticed, it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Yes, sticky sweet summer is here, and with it comes sticky sweet pop songs made to lure us in with their simple jangles about new love and ultimate love disasters.

And then, there was me. Driving home myself one early evening doing my typical dance with the radio. Changing the stations over and over again with high hopes that maybe it would deliver something cool. Suddenly I found myself drawn into one of this summer’s truly sticky sweet pop songs by Justin Timberlake titled “Not a Bad Thing.” I actually had it turned up (and it was not freedom rock), singing along in a trance induced by subtle brainwashing when I realized I had to stop at a light. Of course, there were 2 younger people on the corner. I found myself turning the music down to a nice quiet mute.

Yes, I found myself too ashamed to allow these unsuspecting “youths” know my dirty little secret. That I sometimes like cheesy pop music and even listen to it at elevated volume levels as I drive. Now, I am going to own my uncool and face my shame with you! I can’t help but laugh out loud at my own antics with drive-by music that is ironically titled “Not a Bad Thing.” But really, this whole musical shame episode is not really about music- it is about my own judgments and insecurities, and how I project them onto others.

Time to own my uncool.

Now, let’s face the music. As I have been laughing at myself for what I did, I have been thinking about why I can’t just enjoy music of any kind and not feel embarrassed for enjoying a certain pop song. I have to admit, there is a part of me that does not respect a lot of what the pop industry generates, but yet there is an internal battle I have difficulty ignoring. So how can I turn this perception about the pop industry into something with meaningful purpose, empty of my attachment to judgments?

We can relate this pop song dilemma to all aspects of our life. That is the magic of a perception conundrum. Without the attachment of our emotional drama, a perception is just a perception- and it can be rooted in negativity or positivity. But either way, they exist because we are humans having an ego experience. By focusing on our intention behind a perception we can see if it is limiting or not so limiting. My perceptions around the pop music industry are limiting because I limit my joy in life by judging myself for simply having fun with a song, even if it is sticky sweet.

How can I challenge myself to confront my judgment? The next time that Justin Timberlake song is playing on the airwaves, I’m going to turn it up, with my windows down and be that singing-out-loud person without a care for judgments, including my own! Maybe it really is “not a bad thing” to just let it go and have a little fun every once in a while!

I AM Napoleon Dynamite

Okay, maybe I am really not Napoleon Dynamite in form- but in a lot of ways inside, I am.  Time and again, I am humbled through the recognition that I AM everything I see in others…even an odd dude who draws magical animals like “ligers” and some how musters the courage to do an awesome dance to “Canned Heat” by Jamiroquai on stage in front of a crowd of some of the most potentially judgmental people around, high school students!    Like Will states to Marcus in the film About a Boy before he steps on stage with a tambourine and sings “Killing Me Softly” by Roberta Flack, “It’s social suicide!”

Mis-perception Blues

This past week, I’ve had a case of the “mis-perception blues,” so to speak.  So I’ve been looking outside myself for some inspiration to reflect back to my skewed inner world.  As I was running I just thought about the legendary Napoleon Dynamite who embraced nerdiness and the desire to help a friend win the school election no matter the potential consequences.  And so, this is my monthly outing of myself as a total nerd that sometimes rocks out to Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” in my bedroom- alone.

Every once in awhile we are pushed to do some soul searching on our own negative qualities as we feel overwhelmed by others that assert themselves into our lives.  The ego part of me wanted to just bow out, curl up in my pajamas and eat cheese puffs while talking to the psychic network.  Fortunately, I chose to confront the inner demon head on and readjust my camera lens in an effort to make some changes in my life.

Winona Ryder's character in film Reality Bites, couching it.
Winona Ryder’s character in film Reality Bites, couching it.

Instead of hiding, I’m recognizing that I’ve had a problem with thinking that what I am able to give to others will determine how they will perceive me and give me approval.  For me moving forward, relationships, whether they are friendships, business partners, or family,  are based on good boundaries and simply liking and respecting one another.  And like Napoleon Dynamite, I can get up on that stage with my puffy black high tops (well, more like platform sandals) and my “Vote for Pedro” t-shirt and ROCK OUT!  Thank you audience in advance for applauding and not throwing bottles at my head.