Marketing your truth

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care – Benjamin J Harvey

I assume this is something you and I must be needing to hear or we wouldn’t be reading it or bothering to decipher the quote. We love to explore or we wouldn’t be here. We are explorers! Our purpose for blogging is to know ourselves, whether we realise it or not. It’s a channel for our voice within, a bit like in that book ‘Conversations with God‘ where the writer swore the answers came from somewhere else outside him, or The Abrahams talks, where you watch this lady speak with a slightly different accent and saying ‘you see’ a lot when she is ‘inhabited’ by the universe or something. Fascinating actually. I liked it. But then I like most things because I am easily pleased, especially by the fact that I am easily pleased (no, that repeat is not a typo).

Anyway I digress – and so soon! I think salesmen use this tool – ‘You have to sell yourself before you can sell your product’. One hopes they are genuine when they do that. We like to think we can see through the ‘shoddy salesman in the cheap suit’ but what a daft thing to judge people by. Look past the damn suit I say! There are plenty of rich souls wrapped in poor clothing.

I work in customer service so every time I get a marketing blog from Seth Godin on the subject, I get all excited. This week he came out with two thoughts on customer service which are basically the same as this quote. He said that The simplest customer service frustration question of all is “Why isn’t this as important to you as it is to me?” – you can click on the link but that’s all there is.

I hadn’t thought about it that way – but then Seth could extract meaning from white noise! I care a load, which is why I love my job. I care and yet I keep a little distance when someone is angry, so that I still want to help them instead of getting soaked in their personal storm. And that’s the difference. You have to still want to help them. They can tell. The other thing Seth came out with was that ‘The only point of customer service is to change feelings. The feelings are all that matter, and changing feelings takes humanity and connection, not cash’. He says that if at the end of the interaction the customer would recommend you to someone and he now feels the same way about your organisation before you let him down, you are a success.

And that’s where bloggers come in. With the immense humanity and connection amongst the communities we create, we change everyone’s feelings. We are a universal support group. We are not freaks, we are not alone, others get us. A hundred tiny bonds – a like here, a comment there and the gift of a follower add up and create an energy. Someone said to me today – Yes blogging is HUGE now. Well I jumped in to the Huge and was surprised to find myself bobbing, floating, buoyed up by the lightness in me, in the sea of good feeling.

I see on my stats that many people like to read the ‘About me’. Do they want to know how much I care? Have I expressed what I’m about? I will have to reread it. It wasn’t my point when I wrote it. I dared to put it all on the line though, to risk sounding like a do-gooder. I am my truth here online, my soul-me, invisible to the friends who don’t know me and transparent and vulnerable to the world. But I have never felt less vulnerable. My biggest weakness is my biggest strength it appears.

What ‘About You’ ?

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What am I here as again?

You’re not here as a carrier of your personal history. You’re here as an alive field of aware presence – Eckhart Tolle

This isn’t a quote I read; I heard Eckhart Tolle say it on a CD that I have, at 4.30am this morning! When I get overenthusiastic about life, like falling in love, I get positive stress and sometimes can’t sleep, thinking about all the possibilities. Have you ever noticed that when you first fall in love? It is actually a form of stress.

Anyway Eckhart Tolle is just the man for the job on these occasions, whether I wake up oddly unsettled or hyperactive with ideas. I would love to say that his wisdom puts everything in perspective for me and soothes my soul. But the truth is, his monotonous voice sends me right back to sleep. Every time, day or night! Win/win. His words do actually put things in perspective, when I can stay awake long enough to listen. So I am happy if I can take in what I am hearing (and I seem to hear something new each time I listen, depending on where I am at) and even happier if I can get back to sleep as I know my body needs it. Which it did today.

So today’s quote is something I have heard and written down before as it sums up a lot of his wisdom for me. Of course it’s nothing new. He is reminding us that our egos label everything. I am Emma, I have this, I do this, my job is this, I earn this. Our continuous and repetitive mindstream reminds us of our personal history; always analysing, judging, measuring in some way. But he says there is another way to live than this, as a human. We are actually here as an ‘alive field of aware presence’. We are aware of everything around us but to what extent? Are we looking at something but not seeing it? Are we hearing music or talk but not listening? Are we lost in thought? I am so prone to go off with the fairies that my kids shout Emma instead of Mum which snaps me out of it faster for some reason (it also works better when we are out to get my attention too they discovered).

Anyway I digress. Another way I think of this concept is that I am an alien that has actually kidnapped someone as described by the National Enquirer. I have inserted my mind into this human form and sent it back down to earth to check things out. I go through the motions of what the human is doing but with a new perspective. I look at my hands while I am driving and marvel at them, so different to my alien hands. When was the last time you really looked at/studied something familiar? As an alien, I wonder at the things people come out with, the expressions they pull when talking, the little sayings they repeat; fluff words that fill no purpose such as – ‘sort of like’, ‘and everything else’, ‘each and every’, ‘anyway I digress” – Ouch! Eckhart suggests we create or ‘be aware of awareness‘ by various means which he calls portals. One is the portal of the human body. He says “feel the inner energy field of your body, the inner sense of aliveness. Every cell is intelligently alive”. Close your eyes and feel it actually working. How do you know where your hand is if you haven’t just seen where it is? Our cells are so intelligent – try watching TED.com sometime. They can make even microbiology fascinating!

I also loved a concept I read in a book, I forget who by, about imagining you are standing on a balcony above planet earth. You are just a soul, just a field of presence. You look down and see the glorious planet with nature and entertainment and love, sex, happiness. Would you be keen to go down and try it all, sample it? Hell yes! So why, when we get here do we forget what there is on offer? Why do we stress about completely invisible things such as the state of the economy, the threat of – fill the blank – or what someone else says or thinks?

So I enjoy and continue to listen to Eckhart when I can. I love his odd laugh and his wisdom and that his ego peeks through on occasion. And I particularly appreciate his ability to help me sleep.

 

Which way to success?

I am succeeding just by being on this journey – Tama Kieves

We hear in many different quotes about how the journey is more important than the destination (see my explorations on 24th September on this subject). It is often repeated not just because it’s true, but because we need constant reminding of it; that it’s not a race to the end. The end is our passing, so what’s the hurry? You don’t get a final score at any stage and if you took a mental snapshot of your life at any time to see if you were happy with it – kids, relationships, money, health, fame – for example, what would you then do with that information? Would it change your mood to happy or sad? It’s just a story, your own judgement of your own criteria. Whatever power is has is what it gives you.

This ‘quote’, which I read in Tama’s new book, Inspired and Unstoppable (book review to come) speaks to me because I was/am currently on a particular journey to quell the hunger in me. I couldn’t name that hunger exactly. It was a hunger to ‘succeed’ and with all the books I’ve read, I know that I need to define what success means to me if ever I am to get it. But that definition is written in sand with a stick at the water’s edge and has to keep being redefined. Until I finally got it, as Tama did. ‘I am succeeding just by being on this journey’. By allowing myself to follow my DNA, my passion, my heart’s desire – to connect with others – I am succeeding.

Today I would define success as waking up at 5.30am every morning and reading, but then leaping out of bed because I can’t help myself, even if it’s cold and dark, and rushing over to the computer to look up something, or write something or check my stats for the blog (which is only in the last 8 days as I didn’t get any views before then, so thank heaps to the 15 followers!).

Success is waking up and busting to start your day, whatever it is you’re doing. I am going to work of course and by western standards I am no success there, in an entry level job, but it is still a success because I enjoy it.

Tama explains about feeling like a misfit (the tune from ‘There once was an ugly duckling’ keeps going round my head this morning). I think we all feel like a misfit in some way.  I really do! Tama talks about this hunger and energy to do something, which leaves the contented others scratching their heads. I get it. I have this hunger. I see the hunger as a source of joy as I keep enjoying trying to satisfy it, with whatever I am drawn to. You can’t get enjoyment from anything unless you like it so I am glad that I have so many interests. Far more potential for fun. When you are depressed you have no interests.

It’s OK for me to jump from activity to activity, like a crazy person and not finish anything. It’s OK for me to sit for hours doing a jigsaw puzzle, completely hyperfocused and oblivious to distraction. It’s OK to do anything at all! We are all OK. I am succeeding because I am following my own path and accepting it.

How do we not succeed, not be on a journey? We don’t. We are all on one whether we like it on not. So we are a success. We can be successful at acting, singing, being a parent; or successful at losing our money as a gambler, or our looks to anorexia. We succeed at whatever it is that we put our focus on. That part of our lives thrives in some way. The outcome may not always be something you think you want, but you are doing it for a reason, even drugs.

I think Tama was referring to her personal hunger to be rich, famous and recognised but I think she then came to realise that she had already succeeded because she allowed herself to admit her need to herself and others without flinching, and to chase it unabashedly. She accepted herself, which is what I keep coming back to. There is a place for everyone, there is a tribe for everyone and just by turning on your computer each day and seeking out anything new, personal and of interest to you, your journey is proceeding in the direction of your choice.  No one else’s.  It’s a little mirror to your soul.

My taking up blogging recently is both the catalyst and the byproduct of succeeding. It fulfills a need I have always had for seeking connection with others. I am lucky that blogging exists and that I finally found it. Your reading blogs (or any kind of information seeking and learning) is also the catalyst to and the byproduct of your succeeding. You are choosing to enrich your mind on a subject that interests you; you are taking time and allowing yourself to enjoy what works for you, and to clarify and confirm what you probably already know. You are being the authentic you, on your authentic journey.

Enjoy!

 

How to Fall in Love

The one that will relate with your beauty and radiance is the one that already experiences their life that way. The you that will find them is the one that is in love with yourself and the world. – Damon Gautama www.becomingfullyhuman.wordpress.com

I think this author/blogger should be famous so I am quoting him! I make my own rules here 🙂 Damon has kindly given me permission to use his words from time to time.

A mini lesson I had to remind myself of when I found his blog this week is not to compare myself with others! Otherwise I would cease blogging immediately and lose the joy I get from expressing myself openly. Here is another quote from me. There is room for the rest; not only the ‘best’ – Emma Victoria Capell 🙂

Anyway I digress. To me Damon’s quote is the perfect, in fact only, recipe for falling in love. I believe he is saying that you will attract the people into your life who experience life the same way that you do. When ‘the one’ is attracted to the beauty and radiance you (we all) have inside, they relate with their own inner beauty and radiance and fall in love. For your part, ‘the one’ part of you that loves yourself and the world, ‘the you that will find them’ will fall in love with their beauty and radiance in return because you can relate to it.

We all have different ‘you’s’, don’t we? The you that loves yourself and the you that berates yourself. Me, myself and I; the ego and the id. Too many voices. Choose which one you listen to very carefully.

Anyway that’s why falling in love is so magical. We fall in love with ourselves and life at the same time as we fall in love with the other person. Our optimism for the future soars. But which came first – the inner or outer love? I believe Damon is saying that when we have love for ourselves and the world inside us all along, we will attract ‘the one’, to come along and share the beauty and radiance of the world with us, so we both fall in love.

Of course attracting people who relate to your negativity also applies. People who connect with others by complaining still attract and relate to other people, but in a different way. It is still connection.

But back to the people in love. I think some find it harder to find love because they have this back to front. They think ‘the one’ will change their negativity, point out what they secretly hope about themselves (that they are beautiful and radiant) and make everything right. Unfortunately we are least attracted to the negative in people. It can feel like a vicious circle, looking for love to make you happy, when you don’t feel optimistic to start with.

So how do we maintain this optimism; this glorious feeling of being in love permanently? What does it take to fall in love with yourself, the world and therefore your life, without needing this outside person to point out the ‘beauty and radiance’ already within you? How do you unlock your love of yourself and the world? For me it took my incessant reading, learning, my journey and now blogging to clarify the ‘I’m OK’ message! It brings the message home. Finally! I have won the prize I sought! (Most of the time 🙂 )

By this rule of attracting others who experience the world the same way, my words may appeal to people curious about life and not scared of it; people seeking clarity and peace. I was originally hoping to find people who were depressed, whom I could really help, as I have been there. But unless they are looking for help they will not find it. Seek and ye shall find! And if they did find me and my cheery outlook, they might not relate and find me annoying.  I can only wish them well.  This happened to me years ago but I never forgot the bubbly lady in question. I ‘defended my right to be unhappy’ and felt she was unsympathetic at the time. She only wanted to help.

So thank you Damon for these lovely words. May ‘the one’ in all of us, continue to experience beauty and radiance in the world, in whatever form and as often as possible. And may ‘the you’ in all of us, fall in love with the world and ourselves whenever we can.

It’s a beautiful union.

 

What’s in your fridge?

Whenever you fall, pick up something – Oswald Theodore Avery

Just now I dropped an open tub of margarine. In the millisecond it took to fall, I know I furrowed my brow as I expected it to splat all over the floor. I also remember being curious while it actually fell as I had never dropped one before (and you would usually call me Miss Accident Prone Butterfingers).  I knew I was about to learn something.

Of course, because it had only just come out of the fridge, first thing in the morning, nothing much happened when it hit the floor. It didn’t splatter or leave the container, the container didn’t break or even dent and I didn’t have anything to clear up. It actually bounced. I quickly retrieved it, still exactly as it was before I dropped it.

It got me thinking though! What I realised was that if the margarine had been out all night, it would likely have melted somewhat, and made a mess on impact.

That could be a metaphor for us as people. Where have we been ‘all night’? What consistency are we, before any ‘disaster’ occurs? Will we fall apart or hold together? How can we come out of the fridge often and long enough to give of ourselves (to my raisin toast this morning) but remain essentially in an environment that nurtures us and makes us strong enough to cope, until we are all used up? My fridge is filled with great people, (the ability to find the great in everyone), freedom, (the ability to enjoy the freedom of even a few spare minutes or freedom of my thoughts) and learning from whatever and whomever I can. What’s in your fridge?

PS I wrote this, because I couldn’t stop myself; being a ‘writer’. “A writer is a person who writes”. Then I decided to use this thought for my post today so I can spend time editing past rambling ones instead. I don’t have a quote about butter however this seemed pretty close! I could rephrase it ‘Whenever you drop something, pick something else up, even if it’s just an idea’ – Emma Victoria Capell.

It’s tempting to keep writing (and digressing) on this subject, but today Less will have to be More.

Well I’ll be damned. Pissing people off

Do what you feel in your heart to be right — for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t”. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I hear it said all the time – maybe because it resonates and I have always tried to avoid being ‘damned’. I simply couldn’t cope with the apparent rejection before. However I am learning that it’s OK if my actions may sometimes piss people off. I can’t always take credit.  You can’t actually piss people off. They do it to themselves so  I don’t have to feel guilty or please everyone all the time. It’s impossible anyway. I don’t have to tiptoe through life being ultra careful, not putting forth any views and worrying about what I have said all the time in case if offended.  (So often I would later find out the person didn’t think a thing about it and I did all that worrying for nothing!)  I can be me. And you can be you. We don’t have to agree on everything in order to be friends.  Far from it!

I think my ‘time was right so the teacher is here’ and my learning is moving ahead. Here is some of what I’ve read recently.

John Williams in his book ‘Screw Work Let’s Play’ –  “If you are not pissing people off you are probably not doing it right.” That’s in reference to marketing yourself and your unique skills. He figures that if you are making yourself vanilla to try to please everyone, you will thrill no one I guess.

Barbara Sher willingly admits she probably says things that people don’t agree with and she is OK with that. ‘Get a lawyer’ she jokes. I love the example she sets.

Seth Godin says in business to find your niche market, your followers, and don’t worry about the rest. You then have more time to build meaningful relationships with your real customers.

Benjamin J Harvey says you only need 10,000 customers in the whole world to have a great business and you should be pleased when the rest, who don’t like or really care about you, leave. Sort out quickly who they are.

So this makes sense in a business way.

For me it makes sense in life also. The advice that really hit home for me this week came from John Williams. He says that if someone’s reaction seems to be out of proportion to the event, or to what you have done, then you may have triggered their emotional baggage. That simple thought has changed so much for me. Clarifying what I probably knew on some level renews my filter on seeing the world and the people in it. I can let it go, not feel upset, guilty or take on board the reactions I get from other people. I spent my life tiptoeing around trying not to displease; trying to be loved by all. I do not set out intentionally to upset anyone of course. Not in a million years. Yet I sometimes managed it, especially when on an enthusiastic rant about something. Forget ‘Foot in mouth’ – My foot is so far down there that it may be poking out the other end! I excel at that. Turn me inside out, why don’t you! Thank god I can laugh after I have finished blushing. I am trying to think of some agonising examples. Maybe another time….

Where was I? So it took me years to work out that not everyone will like you. But I didn’t understand why and now I do. To me, we are all the same, born the same with the same building blocks, more or less. We are human. Then we are shaped by life and though our essence is the same, the grooves and connections we form in our brain start to differ – enormously. And this is where we are surprised. Andrew Roberts in ‘How to be Happy’ says we should be surprised and delighted if we do have anything in common, not if we differ on something, as we are so unique.

Have you come across someone that seems to be offended by you a lot? (Do you avoid them?) And are you totally confused because you didn’t say anything you haven’t said a hundred times before to other people yet they ‘damn you’ when you offend them? For example I might be talking about something stupid I did and making fun of it, but the other person thinks I am taking a dig at them, because it’s too close to home to something they dislike themselves for. They get defensive and conversation freezes over.

I once offended someone by asking where the Salvation Army charity bin was, in Florida, to put my daughter’s hardly used, expensive dolls in as we had no room in our suitcases once we had bought her new ones. She tried to say that America didn’t take charity and was she quite ruffled.   I explained that these bins are found everywhere in Australia for belongings in good condition and she calmed down a little. You can’t win all the time. You hit a nerve, puncture a hidden water pipe and Whoosh! Oops. As long as you have an understanding of the principle of difference, and are tolerant of that,  it doesn’t have to go south from there. Apologise if necessary, explain and remember never to mention it to that person again. 🙂 No point escalating and getting defensive back because you disagree.  If you get upset, it shows they have then pushed your ’emotional baggage’ buttons!

Anyway I digress. By ‘damned’ I guess Eleanor means eliciting these kind of reactions, often unexpected. I work in customer service, building relationships with lovely people. It is a fantastic job as we have always treated our customers really well (I am given the time and space to do that luckily) but every so often so I come across someone who implies that the world is going to end because of their perceived injustice at the hands of the company I work for. They write emails using a lot of Capital letters, blame and threats over an item worth a few dollars. A global business decision was once translated as a personal affront to a lady’s town, her people and herself.

Thank goodness I am in a good place or I might get defensive and upset myself. The whole team at work are mums in their 40s and 50s, I wonder if that’s by design?  Anyway I once had someone email me ‘Thanks Emma for your totally useless suggestions!’ and you should have seen the rest of the angry correspondence! I laughed and wanted to hug her, which no doubt she would have found condescending. Most people thank me for those same suggestions. I wanted to tell that woman that everything will be OK. I can’t imagine where her life’s path is leading, but I am guessing it is not a peaceful inner life. I only see this kind of abusive communication from time to time. She must be used to it. I really wish her well.

So my puzzle is slowly coming together. I now understand why you will be damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I don’t take it personally if I can possibly help it and I will continue to do what I feel in my heart to be right. Thanks Eleanor and John for clarifying.

Look and Change

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change – Wayne Dyer

Quantum physicists (or is it quantum mechanics?) back this up on a physical level. I am no expert on the subject of course, but it says that as we are all ultimately nothing but vibrating energy. There is no such thing as mass, nothing is solid. Objects therefore have a range of possibilities of position of where they could be and it is not until we look at something and our eyes lock onto it, that its position is defined. You might need to see the movie ‘What the bleep do we know‘ to have that one explained better. They explain all sorts of wondrous proven, scientific things that seem like magic, like how something can be in two places at the same time (they use light) and how if you talk to two bottles of pure water differently and look at them under a very powerful microscope the water will actually look different. One will look scary, for want of a better word and the other looks all beautiful (I would love to show you the images, once I learn how, maybe Google it). They then go on to explain that as we are 80% water ourselves, that negative talk and energy arranges our own water in such ways and can really affect us, so be careful what you allow yourself to be immersed in. This movie is linked to the secret which states the law of attraction, that what you think about most (with feeling and believing if you can manage it) will come to you, positive or negative. I can’t say for sure that it works but I know I would rather focus on the good and positive.

And of course I digress. For a more obvious example of why this quote is true for me, look at another person with love and then hate in your eyes and see how they react. They will change probably. Their body language will get defensive or welcoming or they will simply look confused. So simple, yet scary stuff. Similarly put on a pair of coloured sunglasses and see how things ‘change’. I always choose a certain colour brown lens when buying sunglasses because it makes the water look greener and I feel I am in Tahiti or somewhere more exotic.

One way to change the way you look at things is to focus on them and think about them, like actually listening to music in depth instead of using it for background music that barely registers. It’s the difference between hearing and listening, looking and seeing.

For example you could look at an inanimate object in a new way and think about its good qualities. You might decide that a simple piece of art that any child could have done or thought up, is actually a Picasso like work of art, brilliant on the deepest level. Then the thing you are looking at may change. You may want it, pay lots of money for it and convince others to do the same if you are a respected critic. It will become a valuable piece of work. The same object. Art galleries often leave me scratching my head but I think I get it. The art that gets you thinking and is the most original is sometimes worth the most. I think. Who looked at the works in such a way to deem them valuable enough to put in there?

I am always reminding myself that as thinking humans we have a huge filter on life, a unique paradigm that it is just as well to recognise right now, to avoid argument with others. Stephen Covey brought this to my attention 17 years ago with his story about the father and kids on the subway. The kids were playing up and onlookers saw it as bad parenting and were irritated until they learned that the mother had just died and the family were on their way home from the hospital, each acting out their grief in different ways. The onlookers then saw the same events differently.

For example my life’s experience has taught me to see a crumbly old building in Spain as a thing of great beauty and architecture, somewhere I would like to stay. However my kids, when shown the same image, deemed the building old, crumbling and therefore cheap. (I was amazed, we were playing a game called ‘Compatibility’ at the time and it brought this ‘filter’ to light. I thought we normally have such similar views).

How we look at things, this filter, changes gradually over the course of your life, hopefully to bring you peace and happiness. Remembering to make an effort to look for the good, rather than the bad will slowly change you. With Stephen Covey’s example the change was immediate. Snapping out of your critical thinking, realising it serves no one, especially yourself, and taking responsibility for your own filter is important. Examine it from time to time. Why do we cling on to beliefs that don’t serve us?

Have you ever had people to stay, maybe visit your country for the first time or your house and you start to look at your familiar surroundings with what you imagine to be their fresh eyes, to guess what they will think of it? I love doing that. When I go for my walk each morning (soon, now the sun is up) I try to remember that when I was growing up London, I would have given anything to come to this beautiful place and walk by the water to see the sun twinkling off it. When I change the way I am looking at my surroundings, the beauty then astounds me all over again. It is too easy to walk along, trapped in my thoughts and and miss the whole damn point of the walk. I can tell when I am off with the fairies because my iPod has shuffled to a song I don’t care for that much and I haven’t noticed until the end of it, let alone appreciated anything about it. I remind myself that if I were retired, I would truly enjoy these walks, that they would be a highlight of my day. So why aren’t they a highlight right now? So recently I have changed the way I look at my walk. It is no longer something to force myself into in the hope of getting thinner or fitter. It is something I want to do now. The walk has actually changed. It is so pleasurable. I hate to miss it now, in fact I even walked in the rain this week. Before I would have gone ‘Whoopee, good excuse not to go’.

Talking of which, I must go soon. This quote has reminded me once again to look at things with fresh eyes, to change the way I look at things that will serve me and my happiness levels. I don’t think I am naive or unrealistic or some kind of Pollyanna looking my hardest for the good. I see the crap and the injustice, the nonsense the hypocrisy etc in this world also. But it doesn’t have to be a source of huge immediate worry if you look at it in the right way. It serves no one if I watch all the sad stuff on the news and cry all day (as well I might). I would love to say I am the kind of person that goes on protest marches and has changed the course of history, but it is not going to happen just yet anyway. I won’t beat myself up about it and go around with a long face. That serves no one. I like to think that just as valuable a contribution, if on a very small level, is bringing fun, silliness and energy to the people around me. Get them smiling or thinking or even laughing. I will have to be content with that. Mother Theresa said ‘If you can’t feed all the poor, feed just one’ (or something similar).

 

 

Different and yet the same

We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same – Anne Frank

This would be an easy quote to read on your daily calendar and forget in an instant. It bears more scrutiny most of all because of the author – Anne Frank. When I was her age at school in England, we were made to study the book, made all the more compelling by the connection in our age. We could relate to her and yet of course we absolutely could not. She was hidden from the Nazis in an attic in Holland for 2 years with the threat of discovery and death hanging over her and little but her loved ones and the meagre possessions around her for entertainment. She was at an age (13 – 15) where certainly nowadays you would want to start being independent of your family and yet she was forced into the complete opposite. She appreciated them all the more because it was all she had.

Imagine if most of the things we currently love, value and take for granted and those we think we are striving for were suddenly taken off the table? I often think about that actually. Imagine you had a stroke and became ‘locked in’ to your body? What would you do then? Imagine you were hideously disfigured in an accident and assumed you would never find romantic love again? It’s like the opposite of the ‘imagine if you won the lottery’. A useful exercise either way to put things in perspective. What a lot to think about. I have heard that if either a tragedy or a lottery win happen to you, that within 2 years you return to the same level of happiness you had before. What is that level of happiness you have right now? Are you prepared to live with that for the rest of your life? Is it worth cherishing because now is life, (Joy Is Now of course) right here, right now?

You can’t escape yourself (your attitudes etc) no matter how far away you go because you take your thinking with you. To me this says it’s all the more important to examine what’s in your mind basket. What attitudes and feelings are you taking with you? What situations keep on appearing in your life as a direct result of what you bring to the table? If you had something nasty growing on your skin which you feared might be the end of you, would you not eventually go to a doctor to sort it out? The problem with insidious, negative thinking is that it is not always visible, like a virus inside your body. Sure you can see the results of it – the sniffles or a cough etc, but until you take a closer look and work on the cause not the symptoms (being unhappy perhaps) it won’t go away.

Two years ago I went to a one day seminar by Ben Harvey in Australia. He taught us that the way to have a higher happier resting state, after the tragedy or lottery effects had worn off was to use what he termed Imaginaction yes, a combination of Imagination and Action, I didn’t spell it wrong. He is saying that everything happens twice. First in your head and then in real life. You get a thought (action) – I’d like to eat lunch – and then you actually eat lunch (action). Twice. Imagination is critical as it allows you a chance to practice for an event and not spike (and therefore not be crashed back down by your nervous system). By practising imagining the things you want, including being happier, you are changing the hardwiring in your brain to accept those things. You are getting your head around them, ‘creating new grooves’ outside the boundaries of your actual brain cells and physically affecting your nervous system. You comfort zone grows (around how to cope with loss or gain). Apparently everyone experiences a crash after a big high. You go back to what your brain knows; what you expect out of life. He suggests leaving triggers and reminders around so that you remember what you want and take action to get some of what you want. Triggering your imagination triggers action. Barbara Sher also suggests for us Scanners (multi-interested people) to leave ‘avocation stations’ around – small ‘kits’ of some of the things we love to do, ready to go and enjoy for even just a few minutes, to remind ourselves to take the time to be happy. We don’t have to wait until we get a chunk of time and conditions are just right to do what we love and be happy. Otherwise with the amount of interests I have (about 400) I would feel overwhelmed by my life, thinking I will never ever get to pursue them.

Anyway I digress of course. Back to Anne Frank. One particular thing I remember from the book (remember I only read it at school 33 years ago – and now I want to reread it) is that she wanted to give her family Christmas presents but she only had available what was in the attic. With love and care she made gifts out of what she could find, examining each object I imagine for its inherent value as a gift and using her imagination to create something else. What a great thing to do with our things, our lives, ourselves. Where are the gifts in your life? And how can you use your imagination to make the most of them?

When Anne says our lives are different, she could not be more accurate. How many people experienced what she did – hidden from mortal danger in that way? And yet like Victor Frankl in the Nazi Camps, she managed to keep her spirit. She didn’t know it but her mind – her innocence, attitude, tolerance and imagination among other qualities – stayed the same and kept her going through the ordeal. Hopefully few of us will be faced with such events and have to test what mental reserves we actually have. But it can also be a godsend to some, with the right thinking. And I call it right, I judge it as right because they are happy, thriving, energised. More than most people. Often people deemed as heroes who react quickly in an emergency, are not recognised as such in their day to day lives and they say ‘anyone would have done that’ given the circumstances. I like to think I would. I like to think we all would. I believe we all would if we went by gut instinct and not irrational fear.

Anyway Anne was obviously a huge thinker, an explorer of everything and luckily for us, a journal writer. She was forced in a way to examine life and people more closely and came to realise at such a young age that we are all the same; that the differences on the outside – what we do and have – simply mask that there are no differences on the inside. She championed tolerance. We hopefully don’t need a huge life change for the ‘worse’ (depending on how you judge it of course) to teach us these lessons. If you are reading this, you may be looking for answers already which means you are 9/10 of the way there. Congratulations.

PS my son is now up so I asked him what he knew about Anne Frank. “Jewish person hidden from the Nazis in an attic.” He was made to read it in year 6 apparently – age about 12 – but didn’t realise why – that she was also a young child when she wrote it.

Twinkle Twinkle You the Star

We are all of us stars and we all deserve to twinkle – Marilyn Monroe

This seems simple enough. I hope it really was by Marilyn – a persona so interesting that she was one of the stars that we had to study in Film Studies as part of my University (Economics – long story) degree. I wonder when they made the shift in Hollywood from creating a complete fake persona for the stars (think Joan Crawford and her angry children) to revealing all (Paparazzi) and trying to uncover the mystery of who each star is/was? Did we only learn about Marilyn after she died? We are still so fascinated after all these years yet you will rarely see one of her films. (I just asked my passing 15 year old son what he knew about Marilyn out of interest. “Blonde, American actress in the 50s or 60s. Overdosed.” Not an age of many words. That was it.) But I think our fascination with her is more that she was so vulnerable and miserable, yet seemingly so successful. What seemed to be the epitome of wealth, glamour, rubbing shoulders with the also powerful, interesting and intelligent, turned out not to be the recipe for happiness. Our illusions were shattered as the story slowly unfolded. Do many of us relate? Is that the fascination? We kind of know that the things we might aspire to do not ultimately bring happiness but we go for it anyway?

So this quote is probably by her. It is kind of wistful. Obviously she was a great star at the time but I think it shows she had great compassion for others, borne out of her own inner world. She is almost a precursor to Bridget Jones, now I think about it. Brave, pitied and showing who she is inside. Marilyn is saying that she is the same as everyone else; that she does not deserve to be the star any more than anyone else. She recognises star quality in other people, in their everyday traits. She must have been a real people person. The one thing I do remember about her from my course was that she was actually so smart that she was playing dumb because it worked for her. She was happy to do the ultimate dumb blonde, make herself over in name and looks, in order to get attention.

Writer and bloggers ‘make ourselves (our writing and output) over’. All artists work on their output, shaping and refining. (People make themselves over in some way. It’s natural.) Do we morph into the final edit? The final edit of any writing/artistic output should be a more successful version of the original blurt. We want to be more interesting, less all over the shop. Is our art like Marilyn’s? We take the potential of our inner writer/actor/artist then shape it, repackage it and set it loose on the world in some form. My question is ‘Does life imitate our art?’  If I could go back and really edit all my blogs, would I then become the person I have aspired to be who talks more succinctly, thinks before she speaks/publishes and sometimes makes a little more sense? Is that the joy of being any kind of creative artist?  Redefining ourselves?

On TED.com there is a mad scientist called Clifford Stoll. Think professor on Back to the Future. Wonderful, excited, enthusiastic man who can be a little hard to understand. He jumps up and down and covers so many different subjects (and floor area) in his talk. I didn’t understand it all but I was fascinated enough by the Klein bottle at least to look it up afterwards. Mostly I love Clifford, the loon. I want to hug him. I love the qualities in him which are the epitome of what I used to dislike in myself. His very presence on TED and his success taught me that it’s OK to be that way, no matter how many might be confused by him. He found his tribe. If you look closely at your friends or tribe, each will have qualities you admire which are actually qualities you have yourself. Think about why you love each person. Can you see that you have those qualities also? Appreciate them.

Boy I have completely digressed. What I understand from Marilyn is that everyone has qualities which may not always stand out but deserve nonetheless to twinkle and be recognised. She is almost telling us to stop putting stars on pedestals  but to realise that everyone deserves their own pedestal and to recognise that and appreciate yourself. Don’t subordinate yourself and give your power away. Turn your appreciation back to yourself. Wise words from a smart and compassionate lady!