My 12 year old laptop has slowly been giving up and I’ve needed to make a new purchase. Last week I went to a store that carried the one I wanted. Sadly, the young woman who was ‘helping me’ was so sharp, flippant, defensive and actually quite rude during our interaction, I was put off the whole purchase and left the store.
Fast forward to today and I decided to go back and make the purchase. And yup, the same person was manning the computer section and I had no choice but to go through her to make the purchase. Our interaction started with a familiar, negative mood and tone and I decided this just wasn’t good enough. So, I stopped her. And I shared that her attitude last time was a catalyst for me to leave the store without a purchase. After a bit more probing, instead of slapping me or walking away – which felt like distinct possibilities, I saw her lip quiver slightly. She miraculously dropped her guard and told me she’d been going through a rough patch in life. We talked briefly about dropping things at the door when you enter work and perhaps even looking forward to the work environment as it gives you a break from nonstop ruminations about what might not be going well in life.
I’m happy to say I’m the owner of a new lap top, but more importantly, the young woman thanked me profusely for “calling her up on her behavior” – her term – and she even proactively knocked $100 off the price of the computer. It was amazing to see the transformation in her when she softened up and even shared some laughter. There’s no faking JOY when it’s delivered in the form of a giggle.
I think we all forget that our bodies are capable of so much! The problem seems to be that our mind often gets involved and derails our best physical efforts. Our mind so easily gets caught in a loop of doubt, protection, uncertainty, fear, and even shame. But when our bodies can overcome our mind, JOY is sure to follow.
I’ve been inspired by my friend Mary who is conquering her mental loop of limiting thoughts and diving head first into surfing. This is no easy task and I’m standing in awe of her ability to quiet the fears, dismiss the doubt and simply jump in.
Being a beginner can be daunting. I’m reminded of this as I strap on skinny little skis and point down a mountain. We have no experience to fall back on and feel ‘safe’ when we throw ourselves outside of our physical comfort zone. Instead, everything is a new and different feeling. And then there are the seemingly absurd instructions such as leaning forward (yes, over your skis and down that mountain) when you start to feel out of control – ha!
It’s all such a good analogy for living life. We can’t be shy when it comes to facing our fears and limitations. We need to lean into them and sometimes jump in over our heads. New experiences should be embraced. I reckon JOY will follow.
Bondi has been alive with whales this season. As they travel back south towards warmer water they’ve been putting on quite a show. I was chatting with our local barista about their displays and he immediately became animated and told me about seeing one in the ocean as he was driving along the coast. His gestures became bigger as he told the tale and left the coffee making aside. He capped off the energetic story by saying ‘they just make you happpy’. And boy, is he right.
There’s something about seeing such a large creature leap into the air and seeming to defy gravity as they twist and flip backward or give a playful flip of their massive tale. It just feels special to bear witness to their choreography and they definitely leave JOY in their wake.
I’m very lucky to have had three different adventure breaks from my career. The first had me stuffing my Manhattan apartment into a pricey storage locker before setting off to ‘see the world’ for a year. Spending months trekking in Ecuador, Bolivia, and South Africa; wandering through laneways in Indonesia; soaking up the endless beauty of India; seeing the Skeleton Coast and getting up close and personal with the ‘big five’ in Namibia are memories I’ll treasure for life. I grew up worshipping the Wild Kingdom and devouring National Geographic. This trip was like stepping into the pages instead of being a spectator.
The next adventure break found me in the jungles of Costa Rica taking on a month-long yoga immersion challenge. I had always wanted to go beyond the 90 minutes on offer in the studio and this was my chance to dive deep. The monkeys were an added bonus.
Cycling from Broome to Sydney unsupported was my last big adventure break. And while my knees have probably never recovered (Australia’s not flat folks) I’m incredibly grateful to have soaked up the scenery and people at such a gentle pace.
Each break allowed me to switch from the ‘always on thinking’ self to the ‘get into the physical body’ self. I think setting a physical challenge helps to inspire the mind and allowed me to drop back into my career with new energy and JOY. I also learned that ‘dropping back into a career’ was entirely possible and more often than not, I took a quantum leap forward. Oh, and I also learned that taking out a pricey storage locker in Manhattan and filling it full of stuff you don’t really need is a terrible idea.
So, are you ready to break the routine and jump into an adventure break? Go ahead . . . JOY is sure to follow.
I was chatting with one of my favorite cafe owners recently and he shared that throughout his life he’s enjoyed telling people how rich he is. He said this always takes people by surprise as his outward presence offers no clues of abundance or decadence. He remembers telling one woman as they were both walking to their cars as she continued to express unfolding unhappiness regarding her life. She walked towards the Mercedes convertible and him towards a 15-year-old VW. As she noticed him heading towards the old car she said, ‘oh, you mean you’re rich spiritually!!’ And just smiled and said ‘no’.
I happen to know he doesn’t have a large bank account. Just last year he was relying on the kindness of friends for a spare bed in their home. But when he tells these stories he lights up. He says ‘Really, Julie . . . look at 95% of the world and what they have, how they live, we are so very rich!!’ And he’s right. JOY can always be found in the right perspective.
I wish it were as easy as scooping people up and letting them know how much they mean to us – how much we love them – that they brighten our days. But the darkness prevails for some and their demons are fierce. Our voice isn’t strong enough, in the end, to drown out their blackness. Daily suffering and pain. How can we help lift it, help carry their weight? Such sensitive souls – feeling everything more intensely. The highs. The lows. The relentless insecurity and doubt.
It’s a disease. A deadly one taking too many lives. Too many friends. And we don’t have a cure. But don’t stop trying. To listen. To learn. To help. And sometimes we just need to barge in and be inappropriate, be uncomfortable.
If you are gone, the collective ‘we’ have failed.
You are loved. You matter. And you are greatly missed.
Perhaps it’s odd, but I’ve always enjoyed the adventure that solo travels brings.
Along the way you battle the assumptions of others – you must be a bit sad; have no friends; be trying to find new friends . . . but solo isn’t sad. It’s expansive. The truth is it might just be about new. Pushing the boundaries of routine. Contemplating your self and your mind even the way you interact with others.
Yes, moments of lonliness inevitably strike – and that’s part of the charm, part of the challenge and evolution – truly missing people and really exploring what that means. Contemplating what the people in your life add to your everyday existence on this little planet of ours. And certainly not taking it for granted.
So maybe, instead of being isolated, solo travel is about reflection and reinvigorating the role others play in our lives and loving them even harder. Now that’s gratitude. And gratitude is the shortest path to JOY.
I was recently invited to a dress up Halloween party. And I LOVE dressing up in costume. After toying with a few ideas I decided to dress up as Cinderella’s ugly stepsister. And wow, being a very ugly version of myself proved to be very JOYful! Maybe it’s the push back against a society geared towards making us feel just south of pretty. We buy frocks, fancy shoes, luscious lipstick, cultivate new hairstyles and even polish our toes just to feel a subtle shade more ‘pretty’. Sure, there’s a ‘plain’ undercurrent as well, people who celebrate being make-up free and feel the need to promote it on Instagram. And speaking of pics, you can’t walk 50 meters in Bondi without interrupting a photo shoot. Selfies have become normal in every public setting and filters on offer provide just the right glow.
We’ve become obsessed with the surface. So to actively make my surface a little bit hideous felt naughty and intriguing. And when folks at the party realized there were actual whiskers growing out of my mole. . . . well, you can understand my JOY! Go ahead, push against the norm, embrace your ugly bits and see if you can find some JOY.
During a great conversation with my fabulous partner, I asked him if he had the chance to reflect . . . but before I could go further he said – ‘Nope!’ I laughed and then checked in to see what he meant. He offered, “I don’t hold up a mirror and reflect. I think I prefer a window – I like to look out.”
Wow! I think we’ve just cracked another Mars v Venus layer. Almost every woman I know spends a lot of time reflecting. And not just on her life, her actions, and her words, but the life, actions, and words of others! I see it unfold in the business world, daily. After a big presentation, my female CMO immediately dives into motivations behind individual comments, reading into tone and gestures displayed, even eye contact or lack thereof. I have yet to hear these themes debated by the males who were in the same meeting.
And it goes further. When a woman reflects on the behaviors of those she loves, she often can’t stop herself from offering ideas and ways to improve their particular situation. And guess what, when those observations are offered up to her male partner, he probably sees it as nagging. Why? Because he’s looking forward . . . out that damn window.
I recently started taking harmonica lessons. I love the challenge of learning something new and I’ve already had little glimpses of JOY. After two lessons I’ve been able to just eek out the preamble to a famous Beatles tune. While sitting at an airport last week, I found a quiet corner to practice my homework. I was conscious of not intruding on the soundscape of others, so I was playing extra softly, facing a window. When I packed up to find my gate, I turned around and was a bit flabbergasted to find a small crowd of people surrounding me. One very excited woman rushed up to me and said “That was wonderful! They should have you here every day – your music is so calming.” Ha! You can imagine my surprise that my novice efforts were met with such positive enthusiasm. The crowning glory was when she added: “This is the best thing that’s happened to me at an airport.” JOY is definitely magnified when it’s shared.