A little over two years ago, I began sharing a bit about my writing journey. I embarked on an entirely different career while maintain my day job as a clinical social worker. I wasn’t sure how to write anything for a national platform. I didn’t have a literary agent, a publishing contract, any type of media connections or a marketing background. I simply wanted to share my story and that of other widows in the hopes that they would feel less alone. I did one blind entry about gratitude to the Huffington Post and to my surprise, they published it. They were not the only major company to open their arms to me.
What followed in the past two-and-a-half years is nothing short of phenomenal. I became friends with Dr. Deepak Chopra, who did the cover blurb for my book, “A Widow’s Guide to Healing”, and I began to contribute to Maria Shriver’s platform, and she also did a cover blurb. In addition, I was interviewed by Katie Couric, American Greetings, my story was on the USA Today website, and I found myself at ABC’s headquarters doing a live hour long tweet chat. Most recently, I was at the United Nations.By the way, Deepak did not introduce me to any of these individuals, nor, did a publicity team garner this support.
The question I am most asked is this- How did I manage this on my own?
Many of the practices I developed evolved as my own writing / publishing process evolved. However, I can share with you that I know that because I practiced what I call I.L.L.U.M.I.N.A.T.E. this ten- step program which I developed over time, my world is richer and brighter. These practices aren’t exclusive to the publishing world. Anyone who is interested in creating more abundance can integrate these steps.Continue reading →
My friends and I used to have an Art Club. We would get together and work on crafts and eat snacks. As I typed that last sentence, I couldn’t imagine a get-together that sounded more girly, but alas, it was. Art Club is home to some of my fondest memories, but it was also a surprisingly polarizing experience. Some people don’t consider themselves artists. If you’re not creative, what are you? If you have no imagination, what are you thinking about?
My argument (which has been added to greatly by some really great authors and speakers) is that all humans have the capacity of creativity. Whether you’re a painter or a small business owner, you know it requires imagination, even if your job involves numbers. We invent. We create. We process how we feel and where we’re going through those acts.
I wanted to take a minute to give a shout out to yet another Intent user, BeachGirl.
Along with her intents, comments and updates, she shares beautiful original artwork inspired by not only her intentions, but also her back yard and it’s inhabitants.
If you want to cement your intention for yourself and for others, find a way to make it tangible.
Drawing is just another way to do that!
Maybe you journal.
Maybe you decide to keep some sort of visual reminder of your commitments.
Maybe you create and stick to a schedule.
Whatever you choose, I say find a way to give life to your intentions.
So what will be your medium?
Canvas or graph paper?
It all works. Make it come alive!
Sometimes you want to see fireworks even when it’s not the Fourth of July or New Years. Such was the case with this little girl who couldn’t sleep because she was sure she could hear them. To calm her down her dad picked up a ukelele and the two tried a duet. Of course, there were demanded breaks to watch the fireworks happening in this little girl’s imagination.
It just goes to show life is always better with a little imagination. Let’s give a thumbs up to dad of the year on that pink ukelele as well! What did you think of the video? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
When I asked my almost 3 year old. to sing me a song in the car, he told me that he would, but he could only sing one because he was pretty busy. “I have to pick up a jumparoo for Sissy’s baby sister at 9 o’clock, so I’m pretty busy right now.” I didn’t know Sissy had a baby sister! I didn’t even know Sissy up until a month ago.
Sissy is my son’s best friend these days, and she does some crazy stuff! Especially when he can’t fall asleep at nap time. Earlier this week, “Mommy! I want to tell you the crazy thing Sissy did! She climbed down the side of my crib and jumped into the wall and went all the way down her new porch stairs and into the street and into her house and into her own bed without scooting or waking up at all!!” One week before, on an especially raucous no-nap day, he shouted with glee, “Hey mommy! We’re having a birthday party, will you join us and sing happy birthday?”
Yesterday I learned that Sissy has a mom named Tessie. Tessie hung out with my son in his crib yesterday when he couldn’t nap and Sissy had ridden her bicycle home all by herself. I learned that Sissy’s baby sister’s name is Ter-hion. When I was holding his real baby sister, my son was holding Sissy’s baby sister, though he decided to put her in the stroller because he couldn’t catch a ball and hold her at the same time. I should also point out that even though she loves her, Sissy isn’t always so nice to her baby sister. Over the weekend my son told me, “Sissy is in time out for biting her baby sister, Mommy.”
I asked him today what it was like playing with Sissy. He said it was fun and comfortable. I asked him where Sissy was, and he said like I should have known, “She’s in the crib! Can you take her out?”
I’m thinking he and all his fellow imagination filled toddlers are onto something here. An imaginary friend can be anyone you want him or her to be. This person can be your very own special friend. She can do all sorts of stuff. And she can do stuff for you so you don’t have to do it yourself. “Sissy, can you go to the gym for me?” “Sissy, I thought you were going to clean up the kitchen? You were flying like a bird out the window and high high into the clouds?” Ooh! That sounds like much more fun. Makes me feel better too, just imagining it.
I’ve often read that we need to love ourselves, accept ourselves, be kinder and more patient. I’m thinking Sissy and all her imaginary comrades could teach us this by being the equanimous, unconditional, open-minded friends they naturally are. I’m going to give it a shot. Intent community, please meet….Sophie. She’s new here.
Where do we experience the physical and the mental world? Most people say we would experience it in our consciousness. If you ask them “where is this consciousness?” they say it is manufactured by the brain. But where in the brain would you find consciousness? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak addresses the question of where experience occurs, if not in our brain.
How do electrochemical impulses create the experience of color, touch, sound, taste, smell, feelings, emotions, and thoughts? How do neural networks create insight, intuition, imagination, intention, creativity? Do we really have free will? This problem has not been solved yet. The reason might be that we are asking the wrong question. If we saw it as the prime driver of evolution, as the ultimate ground from where creation springs – instead of seeing consciousness as a latecomer in evolution – we would be understanding that the ground of experience, both physical and mental, is a realm that is beyond space and time. This level of being is your own soul. Water cannot wet it. Wind cannot dry it. Weapons cannot shatter it. Fire cannot burn it. It is ancient. It is unborn and it never dies.
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I like to take pictures with my very fancy camera. I love shooting photos because it’s one of the few places in my life where only my perspective matters.
When I’m taking pictures I lose all self-consciousness about how I see things, and can completely immerse myself in what I believe to be true and perfect. It’s my photo, my angle, and most importantly my point of view.
You may not know it, but your perspective of the world is extremely valuable. How you see things is just as important as how you feel. An even more important concept, however, is that your ability to share a different perspective from your own is one of the most valuable qualities you can have. Taking it even one step further, your ability to see things from another person’s perspective is an essential skill in maintaining a healthy relationship.
As human beings we have a very deep and basic need to be seen, and to have our experience and perceptions validated. When we are told that our point of view is “wrong” a little part of us dies inside, and we begin to question what we believe to be true in the world.
When you and your partner share an experience with each other that is perceived through each of your unique vantage points, neither of you are right. Denying another person’s perceptions, or questioning the validity of their perspective leaves them feeling misunderstood, insecure, frustrated, and angry.
Perspective is very closely aligned with empathy, but they are different. Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s situation with the intention of understanding how they feel. Sharing a perspective requires you to stand behind the other person, to look out at the world through their eyes, and to see what they are seeing.
It’s like looking through their camera once they set up the shot.
Sharing a perspective does not equate with agreeing, and it doesn’t mean your perspective has to be eliminated. It’s simply an opportunity to step back from what you believe to be true, so you can see something different. Accepting and acknowledging these ideas about perception will shift how you relate in the world, and it will also build an incredible sense of intimacy in your present relationship.
Here are three tips to share another person’s perspective:
It’s all in the language. Avoid saying things like “That’s not true” or “Don’t be ridiculous” when your partner shares their experience. Try saying something like “I can see how you might see it that way, but…” or “I’m having a hard time seeing it the way you do, can you help me understand?”
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to see things. Your experiences and perceptions of things are subjective. You get to have your view, and your partner gets to have theirs. If you feel the need to be right, your next step is to work on letting go of this unrealistic expectation so you can be more open.
Use empathy and compassion to get there. When we are in a heated situation or feel strongly about something we often lose sight of the other person’s perspective. Using your imagination, and seeing that your partner is feeling just like you will allow you to step back, and be more objective.
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Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.
There was a rustle and then a sigh, in the bushes. Then a creak. I froze, strained my eyes to pierce the misty darkness but it was no use. The moon was nowhere to be seen, still asleep or else hidden by the fog, and the world was swatted with a dark, black night. I was alone with trees and … with whatever they hid among them. Or whomever.
A host of monsters, of sprites and imps sprung to my mind. I imagined them, yes, yet they were no less real, not to me, and the hot, sickening wave of fear rose and broke over my head soaking me down to my feet. I wanted to run. Telling myself that I was being silly, imagining things, was no use. I knew I was imagining things. That made them no less real, not to me.
I did not run, I stood and felt the fear because I thought: whatever happens I am here. Whatever comes out of those bushes it cannot make me lose myself. I am here. And as long as I am here – I am safe.
It can take my life away, this monster hiding in the darkness, it can pounce and grab me and drag me to another realm but it will still be me, I will still have myself. It can take Chris away, take my home away, take my stuff away. It can take away my body’s health, it can end this body’s life, but it cannot take away me. No matter where I am, no matter what I lose – I can still be. I can always be. I can remain myself.
And as long as I don’t lose myself, as long as I am here – I am safe.
How do you keep your creative spirit alive even as you progress further into adulthood? In this week’s episode of “The Rabbit Hole” on The Chopra Well, Deepak Chopra explores the dynamics of a creative life and the relationship between age and creativity (we don’t have to lose our imagination as we grow older!).
Imagination and creativity are pinnacles of human experience. Children seem to know this innately, effortlessly, but adults are just as capable of playfulness and innovation. When was the last time you sat down with your paints, invented a game, or made up a new recipe? Whatever it is for you, take some time today to let your imagination run wild. And remember that every day, in every moment, it is within your power to practice creativity and let life be your canvass.
Subscribe to The Chopra Well and check out Deepak Chopra’s book, Super Brain, for more on neuroplasticity and creativity.
Recently, I had a very strong yet puzzling emotional experience, and I realized that I’ve felt this before. I wish there were some wonderful term for this (perhaps there is, in German or Japanese).
I was reading a description of someone, and it said, “He lives with his wife and children on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.” As I read this line, I had a fleeting yet complete vision of what that life would be like–the life of a person living with his family on the Upper East Side.
But in the next moment, I realized, “Wait, that’s my life, I live in that neighborhood myself, with my family!” Yet the reality of my experience doesn’t at all match my vision of what that “life” would be like. And oddly, my imaginary version seems richer and more real, in a way, than my actual experience.
I realized I can provoke this feeling, just by putting my own experience into words. If I think, “She went to an all-girl school in the Midwest,” I have an idea of what that was like–but I did go to an all-girl school in the Midwest, and it was very different from what my imagination kicks up.
Maybe “parallax feeling” is a term to describe this.
Have you ever experienced this feeling? It’s hard to describe.
In today’s episode on 30 DAYS OF INTENT, Iman and Natalie meet with Diana Castle for an acting lesson and empathy workshop. Diana teaches theater through her original method, THE IMAGINED LIFE™, which emphasizes the role of empathy in creating and portraying dramatic roles. We interviewed Diana on the importance of empathy, on stage and in the world.
The Chopra Well: You are an acting instructor and also teach empathy skills. How are empathy and acting related?
Diana Castle: Acting is all too often thought of and even encouraged to be a narcissistic profession – and yes, there are plenty of cultural narcissists today. However the truth in the art of acting is to be found in the heart of empathy. A great actor is that human being who is willing to exchange his or her personal interpretive framework for an alternative interpretive framework, or as Atticus Finch said in To Kill A Mockingbird, to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.
We learn and experience more about ourselves from accepting other people’s stories as a possibility for us. Accepting the human story as our own, I call “living from the I AM.” When we accept every part as a part of us, we learn to live a more integrated, whole-hearted life. The art of acting is living from imagined possibility and so is the art of empathy.
CW: Why is empathy so important – not just for acting, but for life in general?
DC: There would be less fighting with each other and more dialogue, education and cultural exchange. As we widen our empathetic embrace, we widen our experience of the world. That’s what happens when we go see a movie or a play or read a book that affects us emotionally.
The individual strings of our independent identity are only parts reflecting the whole. If we lose our capacity to put ourselves into other peoples shoes, we lose our capacity to experience what is the truth of our inter-relatedness and interdependence. When we lose that, we lose our connection to the fact that if we try to destroy others we only destroy ourselves. This includes our environment which is a reflection of our empathetic embrace as well.
CW: Is it hard to practice empathy? As you say, the world would be a very different place if everyone lived intentionally and empathetically. What gets in our way?
DC: Our Ego. Our Ego is vital of course for discerning: “I’m in here and you’re out there.” However, neuroscience now teaches us that if you lose your arm and have phantom limb pain and someone sits in front of you, mirroring you, and gets their arm massaged, your phantom limb gets relief!
Shakespeare’s advice to the players in Hamlet when he encourages them to “hold the mirror up to nature” should now be thought of as holding the “mirror neurons” up to nature! This is the amazing truth of life. What happens to you actually is happening to me.
CW: Do you have any simple tips or strategies for practicing empathy that we can incorporate into our daily lives?
DC: When we experience a belief or behavior we don’t like or understand, a good reaction to practice is: “That’s me!” “Hello, myself!”
In the daily practice of seeing in others a reflection of our possible selves we start with: I ACCEPT this belief and behavior as a possibility for me. I don’t encourage asking “Why?” does he or she behave this way. I encourage accepting the beliefs and behaviors as a possibility for you.
My rule for actors when they are asked to believe and behave in ways they don’t understand is: Don’t ask why. Justify. We can always justify any behavior through conditions and circumstances. This is what allows for empathy with the human character as opposed to ideas of “other” and creating caricatures.
I AM… you finish that sentence. No one finishes it for you. It’s a state of pure creativity. It’s a state of acceptance and possibility.
It’s a pure IMAGINED LIFE™ moment.
When we stop trying to figure out why people believe and behave in the ways that they do with our left brain and use our right brain to imaginatively accept the I AM – the beliefs and behaviors as possibilities of ourselves – then we come to understand people in very profound ways. We begin to recognize our many varied selves in the mirror. The mirror neurons, I should say.
CW: The story you share at the end of the episode from Rilke’s Letter to a Young Poet is beautiful and so inspiring. What is your “I Must” and how has it helped shaped your intentions throughout your life?
DC: I must transform misunderstanding into understanding, suspicion into trust, division into unity.
This begins with transforming my own misunderstanding, my own suspicion and my own inner divisiveness. Because my father survived Hitler’s holocaust and I was raised in the deep south, I have been challenged to become a person who trusts humanity. This challenge became my benefit as I discovered the arts and found the great power of empathy that is housed in art. I deeply believe in arts education as the vital tool for developing empathy. This led me to formulating and teaching my IMAGINED LIFE™ philosophy and practical application.
I must, as Rilke says, “order my life” each day “according to the necessity.”
I must participate in the collective effort to build an empathetic civilization heart to heart, life to life, one person, one engagement at a time.
Watch the “Mastering Empathy” episode and then let us know your “I must” in the comments section below!
Subscribe to The Chopra Well and catch the rest of Iman and Natalie’s journey on 30 DAYS OF INTENT!