Are You Authentic…or Just Annoying?

Mike Robbins recently gave a Tedx speech on the power of authenticity. Being authentic is not always easy, he says, but it is equally liberating when we attempt it with courage. Speaking your heartfelt truth gives other license to do the same.

There is a difference, however, between being authentic and being simply annoying.

Authenticity doesn’t mean you have free reign to puke all over everyone with your opinions. Do you know anyone who claims he or she is “authentic”, but what that person really is is opinionated? Most people I know who say they are authentic fall into the annoying category.

Why?

Because being authentic means you don’t have to claim that you are being so. You simply are being so.

Recently I have run into several individuals who celebrate their truth-telling, but what they are really doing is being hurtful, tactless and murderously unaware of the impact their words have on others. Coming from a space of care and true connection with self has an entirely different feel to it.

Let’s look at an example.

Consider your friend who asks you for your opinion about how she looks in that green dress that actually makes her look more like a reptile than Rupunzel. Do you tell her your opinion?

Annoying response:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph. You look God-awful in that thing. Take it off. Now!”

Authentic response:

“I bet you have another outfit that highlights your features better. Let’s take a look in your closet.”

You aren’t being mean while being honest. You are being kind, authentic and loving to your friend by redirecting her efforts to a more suitable dress.

Authentic communication is about being empowered while empowering others. It has a special quality to it and you know it when you experience it.

Authenticity sets you free to be who you are. And who you truly are, underneath all those opinions, is a beautiful soul that deserves to soar.

 

Try, Try Again

Sometimes we fail. Miserably. But as Thomas Edison liked to say, at least you now know what doesn’t work.

If at first you do not succeed, try, try again. It kinda makes for a richer life when you don’t let yourself feel beaten down. Onward is my motto!

It takes resilience to live full out. You expose yourself to all kinds of elements: risk, panic, fear, you name it. But as you stretch your comfort zone beyond what you know, you also begin to get a better understanding of imagined, versus real, danger.

It is scary to venture into the unknown, but if you do it often enough, the unknown becomes a familiar place. Not knowing can actually be comforting too.

One person’s danger is another person’s safety. Some of us like to feel the tickle of Life while others prefer to sit on the sidelines. It’s not so ticklish there, but it is a place of rest. And rest is a good thing if you’ve been out in the thick of things for quite some time. At some point it is time to lay down your head and sleep.

That’s what I’m going to go do now.

Sweet dreams, my dear friends. Sweet dreams.

 

Fear in Moderation

Fear is a tricky human emotion. It can paralyze you. It can keep you from your dreams. It can keep you small.

It can also keep you safe.

Fear can be your friend in just the right doses, but too much of it can kill you.

My friend explained to me how she recently used her fear to confront an abusive boss. Her workplace situation had gotten to the point of anguish so, despite her fear (or because of it), she knew something had to change. So she gathered up her fear and took it with her into the meeting. Her body shook, her knees grew weak, but her resolve remained unshaken.

Fear tells us we are in danger. But oftentimes it is imagined, not real. My friend managed to stake her ground and defend herself in a bad work environment. Her fear informed her that something wasn’t right. And after her meeting, the fear went away completely and she realized it was a lot easier to have that conversation than she thought.

Therein lies the clue. We often think things are going to be hard and then are pleasantly surprised when they are not.

Stress, for instance, is a subjective thing. Unless we are talking about physical strain, stress is typically induced by our thoughts about what is happening. It isn’t the actual event itself that incurs the feeling of stress. It is our thinking behind it that does.

Stress is fear-based. We worry that things won’t turn out, that what is unfolding is somehow not right. So we take action — or not. Depending on how we respond to things, we are either more stressed or we go into a full release, allowing things to occur just as they might.

I prefer the latter. Releasing takes off the pressure, allows fear to go home and for possibility to take root in even the most difficult situations.

Love your fear. That’s all it needs. It only grows when you let it consume you and that usually happens when we forget how helpful our fear is trying to be. It really wants our best, however irrational it sometimes is.

Fear can be a very good thing indeed. It has its place – in moderation, of course!

 

The Storyteller

We all tell stories. Every day.

Some of us get paid to do it. Others do not. But every one of us tells ourselves, and others, who we are through the way in which we move through the world.

Oftentimes those stories couldn’t be farther from the truth.

When people ask me why I wanted to move to Freiburg, I give them the intellectual response: it is the sunniest place in Germany. I’m a child of Light. That’s why.

But that is only a partial truth.

I also moved here because a voice inside said I had to. An absolute must. But most people, I am guessing, wouldn’t understand what I mean. It is hard to explain messages that come from the Universe unless you’ve experienced them yourself.

And you can. It takes a deep kind of listening and patience. If I can do it (I am not known for my patience, but I have improved over the years!), anyone can.

The process of fine-tuning your intuition requires you slow down for a moment. It takes a certain level of reflection. While that might feel like a limitation to your fast-paced life, I promise you it is actually a shortcut to a much fuller life than you can imagine.

That’s how I wrote The Power of Slow. Whenever I felt stuck, I’d stop, look and listen. Inevitably, a new message flowed into my brain and onto the screen.

Without fail.

Ask any artist and he or she will tell you that entering that Zone is about communing with a Higher Force than the one we typically recognize in our day-to-day lives. As omnipresent as this Force is, we often ignore it or fail to see it at work. The more attention you give to it, however, the louder it will speak.

I swear that’s how it works.

For the past few months, I have completely given in to this process. And every day a new surprise awaits me.

You may think there is no way out of the stories you tell. But if you made up the one you’re living now, you can bet your sweet bippy that you can make up another one with a better ending.

We all tell stories. The question is which one do you choose to believe?

The Timelessness of a Timepiece

Things surface at the strangest times.

Ten years ago when I moved to Bavaria, my grandmother’s couch was delivered ten weeks after we arrived. It had gotten ‘lost’ according to the movers. By the time it finally landed in our house, it had travelled over 6,000 miles from its original place in Connecticut to the cow town where we lived.

As the movers brought the couch into our living room, a tube of lipstick fell from the interior of the couch. After all those miles and years, my grandmother’s presence could still be felt. She always said a lady was dressed as long as she was wearing lipstick and pearls. It was her way of reminding me that everything was going to be alright.

A decade later, as I culled through years of stuff in preparation for my move to Freiburg, it was my grandfather’s turn to have his say. His watch showed up in the palm of my hand in the kitchen. On the back was an inscription: 1931-1956 WHGrant. It was congratulating him for all his years of service with the company.

As I held his timepiece in my hand, I could feel the rhythm of time that his watch had measured. Oddly, the watch gave me an overwhelming feeling of timelessness.

Finding his watch was a sign to me that all things come in good time.

According to neuroscientist David Eagleman, we can slow down time simply by living enriching lives. The more detail we remember from our experiences, the longer our lives feel.

So if you are bored with your life, give it a kick with something new. You may not wish to move house, as I have chosen to, but bring some color back into your life by changing just one thing in your routine today. It will fire up your brain cells and give you the sense that time, and all that you experience in it, is rich and satisfying and beautiful.

Now that’s a life worth living indeed!

The One Question

Dreams do come true. Here’s mine.

The TedX Linz event was life-changing. I hope you (and all the friends you share it with) enjoy the talk!

The Catharsis of Movement

Even the Slow Movement implies movement of some kind. It may not boogie at the pace to which you are accustomed, but then again, that’s the whole point. Slow requires reflection, thought and deliberate choices.

What better movement can you have than the actual process of moving itself?

Admittedly, moving is considered one of the top ten most stressful life events a person can experience. And yet there is so much potential in moving house.

It allows you to take inventory of everything you have experienced up to now. Dismantling my office, for instance, took months. I tossed out old book proposals, papers, books and even some of my children’s artwork. I reached pain points I never thought possible, all in the name of clearing the path for something new. I bid adieu to dreams unlived, ideas that died on the vine and projects that never lifted off the ground.

Nevertheless, it was amazing how cathartic it was to get rid of the old to make room for something yet to come. It takes a measure of trust that the choices you make are the right ones.

That’s where things get exciting. Because even as you part with the familiar, you have yet to embrace the energy that is waiting for you in the wings.

That energy comes in different forms. Sometimes it comes in so-called chance meetings. Your palette is clear, without baggage, as you embark on an explorative journey. Your surroundings respond to your clarity, as if you are somehow reborn and they recognize your newness. Angelic guides lead you to the right place at the right time to meet the right people.

Moving is like taking a soul bath ~ you wash away the detritus of your past. Your tabula rasa existence rings clear as a bell. You are free to create anything you want from this moment forward.

That’s a wondrous prospect. How often do we actually get to experience that level of possibility?

Not often is my guess.

It may be stressful to make that kind of change, even a positive one, but I will tell you people, is it ever worth it!

Of Broken Bones, Hearts and Dreams

In physics, energy is neither created nor destroyed. It simply changes form.

In life, things change form all the time. Take my mama’s wrist, for instance. She broke it whilst trying to rescue a bullfrog from her pool recently. It changed form instantly, but it has also been put back together by an extremely competent doctor.

Or consider a broken heart. It expands, lets love in, then contracts as that love slips (or gets yanked) away. Depending on the severity of the heartbreak, your whole body could change form. People handle their stress differently. Some eat for comfort, thereby gaining weight. Others forget to eat altogether, thereby losing it. Your face could wear the burden of that pain, drawing lines into your skin that you think will never go away.

Or dreams can shatter as a reality that doesn’t support them creeps in.

But here’s the good news. No matter what, life implies movement. And with those changes in form, energy that was once blocked gets released. Doors fly open as windows slam shut. Your old dream is replaced by an even bigger, more suitable one for yourself.

Your heart may have been broken, but its ability to expand infinitely has been proven. And you have exercised one of the most important muscles in your entire body ~ the love muscle, which is central to your well-being. While it may have been stretched beyond what’s comfortable, you now carry with you a wisdom you didn’t have before. You now know something you didn’t prior to the experience. And that can be extremely helpful in your life.

Broken bones can be fixed too. Nothing that is shattered can’t be repaired. As Onerepublic so rightly sings, “With every broken bone, I swear I lived.”

My mama can say that. And whether it’s your bones, your heart or your dreams, with every broken piece, you have indeed lived!

Living at the Pace of a Deep Breath

Summer invites Slow Living: the warmth, the cadence of the ocean waves, the sparkle of the water as you devour your favorite dish. It gives school children pause before entering the next grade; it gives adults an excuse to stand still for a moment.

The wind speaks. The earth breathes. The sun presses itself closer to our skin for a while.

How can we embrace the feelings of this season all year round? Life is cyclical. Sometimes we’re up; sometimes we’re down. Sometimes we’re indoors; sometimes we’re out. Capturing the Slow gives us a moment of rest to explore life’s meaning, to orchestrate its rhythm more deliberately, no matter the season.

Slow implies freedom. Summer does too.

What if you were to live at the pace of a deep breath for just a day? How would that feel? Like a warm summer’s day, even in the midst of winter?

Allow the Slow to enter your bloodstream. Let it swim around your soul for a spell. My guess is you will like it.

But buyer beware. You may never be the same again.

And that, my dear, may be a very good thing indeed.

 

Something to Laugh About

When was the last time you had a great good belly laugh? You know. The kind that makes your sides split. The type that scrunches your face and has you forget your troubles instantly?

It is reported that the average adult laughs 17 times a day while your average four year-old cackles up to 300 times in that same time period.

Kids don’t have to pay taxes. Adults do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find things to giggle about more frequently. If laughter is the best medicine, why aren’t we doing more of it?

You know your laugh quotient is down if, after you smile, your face feels funny because it hasn’t been in that position for a while.

Meet with a friend who tickles your funny bone. Or watch a great comedy. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good. Remove yourself from toxic situations. Make someone else laugh today. It’s contagious. Pretty soon you’ll be laughing right along with them!

Laughter is a good start to slough off the bad and bring in the good. It is balm for the soul. And for the world, too.