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Thursday, June 27, 2013

If You Know The Enemy You Need Not Fear a Hundred Battles



“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle” 
-Sun Tsu

Recently I had the pleasure of reading the novel, The Pilgrimage, by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho—also the author of international best seller The Alchemist.

In the novel, Coelho’s fictional self takes on a physical and spiritual quest to find his mystical sword on a pilgrimage from the south of France to a small town on the west coast of Spain called Santiago de Compostela.

I’m going to paraphrase a huge lesson that Coelho learned while on his journey. 
The only way to deal with our physical enemy or the sometime enemy that lives within, is to accept him as a friend and listen to the advice and lessons that he teaches us, never allowing him to dictate the rules of the game. But if we are to keep the enemy from dictating the rules of the game; First, it is necessary to know what you want, and Second we must to know the enemy's face and name.

In life, in art (hell, even in business); we’ll always have “enemies.” But we must see the enemy not as some tragic inevitability but as an opportunity to: learn a lesson, build more stability, create sustainable art, refine ourselves as human beings.
Before we can learn the lesson we have to know two things:
  1. We have to know what we want from our art or our current life’s purpose. Know what the big picture looks like to you and fill in as many details as you can, allowing for the inevitable change that life and/or the marketplace brings.
  2. We must be honest with ourselves and know our enemy. Is it some invisible script within telling you that you’re not smart enough or powerful enough? Is it a physical person who is stifling our creativity, or is it a bad partner?
By learning about our enemy, we learn about ourselves and we use our enemy’s strength as a weapon against itself and we in turn become a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

If You're Going Through Hell, Keep Going



In 1940, only a few weeks after Winston Churchill took over as British Prime Minister, France was defeated by the Nazis leaving Great Britain as the only European superpower to stand and fight against the would be German occupiers.

In short time London and parts of southern England were bloodied and beaten badly to a pulp from the relentless aerial bombings by the Germans.

But Churchill, often considered by historians to be the greatest wartime leader of the 20th century, would not give up and wouldn’t let his countrymen give in to tyranny either. His spirit, leadership, and oratory skills helped Britain find their inner strength to band together and find strategic partners who would help them beat the Germans. He’s famously quoted as saying “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

On a different scale we all have mini-hells we go through each day, week, month, and year. It could be as simple (or complicated) as a relationship in our business or home life, a start-up company beginning to go sour, or a dream not unfolding the way we envisioned. In these moments of hell it’s important that we keep going. It’s a given that we should look for encouragement from our supporters but we must also ask ourselves important questions—questions that will guide and coach us to victory.

What’s going well? It’s important to take stock here. When things aren’t going the greatest, sometimes it’s easy to say nothing’s going right; and it’s here that’s easiest to drop what you’re doing and give up. Asking this question also allows us to build on the good stuff and make it grow.

What would I like to see improve? What do you actually want? Do you remember? Or has your want or endpoint morphed under the cloudy vision of disappointment. Asking this question gets us back to basics and to take a fresh look at the gears of the machine that might need a little extra oil.

Who or what can help me get where I want to go? Pretty self explanatory. No man is an island and we all need help from someone or something to get where we need to go.

Who is doing a similar thing/has a similar goal as myself? It’s important that we see if other people have gone through what we have or doing something similar in the business arena as we are. By looking at the similarities we can borrow some key points from their success and use them to create our own.

Who can I help? This is a great way to remind ourselves that this journey isn’t all about us. This can be an offering of help beyond the scope of your comfort zone or business; or it can be a simple wake up call for you to figure out the value you offer and a target client base.

What am I grateful for? Just a good thing to check in with. Even if it’s one thing that you’re grateful for, it’s something that’s in your life for a reason and something you’ve nurtured or attracted to yourself that is a success. Success breeds confidence and confidence is something you need to make it through that mini-hell.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The i'Mpossible Project …According to Marilyn Fowler (38)

This is the thirty-eighth edition of The i’Mpossible Project: A series where anyone can share a personal story of inspiration or an event in life where they overcame tremendous odds. Everyone has a powerful story to tell and something to teach the world. (See HERE for guidelines on how you can write for The i’Mpossible Project.) Here we have Marilyn Fowler with "The Journey Back."
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I opened my eyes to blinding overhead lights, confused by my hospital room surroundings. This isn’t heaven, I thought. I put my hands to my face, felt my body. I was alive. Yesterday my friend followed me home from my waitress job and grabbed the empty bottle of pills from my hand. The Emergency Room staff took me right away. As the tube slipped down my throat I thought I was dying. But I was still there. Thirty-nine years of one failure after another with nothing to show of value except my three beautiful children, and now I couldn’t even kill myself successfully.

I had checked my life insurance policy. There was enough for my mother to finish raising my teen-aged children. They had become hers anyway. Because of her strong sense of insecurity, she drew them away from me to satisfy her need to be needed. And they went to her for everything now. So why was I spared to go on?

I half dozed and thought about my father and how I loved him. I was six-years-old when he died, and my world became a strange, lonely place where I never belonged. My mother instructed to be a good girl, which meant absolute obedience, expect nothing, and never bother anyone with my problems. Smile and be pleasant. Anything less was considered selfish and shameful. And a few words from her could produce enough soul shattering guilt to render me compliant with anything she wanted. Growing up I wandered through three stepfathers, and later through my two broken marriages, with no place to go on my own.

But now it was time to go home and start over. I went back to my usual routine, and finished seeing my children grow up. That was worth living for. But the horrible depression and panic attacks consumed me, and two years later I was desperate for help.  

I entered the psychiatrist’s office without a clue as to what was ahead, but this was the first step on my journey toward renewal and meaning for my existence. Dr. J allowed no medication, and he used ruthless tactics to move me to healing. I resisted, but he pushed and prodded me into ultimately releasing the pain, despair and guilt I had suffered inside for so many years. When I finally left after two-and-a-half years, I didn’t know what I would face, but now I had the strength to face it. 

I expected changes in my own life, but didn’t expect the change that came between my mother and me. It just seemed to happen. I began to see past her behavior to the scared child within who was abandoned in an orphanage when she was ten years old, her need to care for her younger siblings to find purpose in her life, her need to be needed. And I understood. Then I was able to be patient but still protect myself from her manipulation. And I loved her. We never spoke of our differences, but I think she knew and welcomed the change. 

At age forty-seven, I returned to school, took all the psychology courses I could and earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work, and later my Master of Science in Social Work. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist I had many years of wonderful, rewarding work with thousands of patients whose pain I understood from my soul. I can’t express the gratitude I felt when I saw the light come back into their eyes and the smiles on their faces. I had been spared. And so had they. What greater blessing is there in life? 

Because I had not given up, no matter how painful, and I sought the help I needed, I found my life. Sometimes, when we think it’s over, it’s just beginning. And the rainbow around the bend is waiting for us if we help it happen. 

Marilyn Fowler is a retired Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist. Her professional experience includes Team Leader, then Director of Mental Health Services in the Duval County Jail in Jacksonville, Florida; working on in-patient units, coordinating mental health services in five nursing homes, and in private practice for a number of years. She teaches a class at the University of North Florida on The Influence of Childhood Messages on Adult Life, she belongs to the Chat Noir Writers Circle, and she writes a self-help blog: www.marilyngf.blogspot.com
Her memoir, Silent Echoes, was published three years ago, and her stories have appeared in several magazines and a book entitled, When God Spoke To Me. She is now having fun working on a fictional story, with a video on You Tube (Me and Granmama in the Hill Country Chapter 1) reciting the first chapter in costume using southern dialect.           
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Why is this "The i’Mpossible Project?" 
Inspired by Josh Rivedal's book and one-man show The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah. Gospel (non-religious) means "Good News" and Josh's good news is that he's alive, and thriving, able to tell his story and help other people.

On his international tour with his one-man show, he found incredible people who felt voiceless or worthless yet who were outstanding people with important personal stories waiting to be told. These personal stories changed his life and the life of the storyteller for the better. 


Josh's one-man show continues through 2015 and beyond and he is looking for people in all walks of life, online and offline, to help give them a voice and share their stories with the world.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Planting and Watering the Seeds of Opportunity



“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work” 

I’ve been thinking about this Edison quote this week.

Porque SeƱor Josh?

Well, I’m working on few new writing pieces (totally unrelated to the GATJ) as well as this GATJ book coming out in September. It’s not easy work, sometimes the writing is crap-tastic (sometimes ;), and there are days I want to simply throw in the towel.  

But after stumbling upon this Edison quote, I felt a sort of rejuvenation.

I think with the advent of the internet and social media, we want immediacy and can sometimes become a slave to it. We want our results right now and sometimes without the hard work.

But as I’ve learned with other projects, there’s a richness to rolling up the sleeves and getting dirt underneath your fingernails. There’s a beautiful self-evolutionary process, learning the refining lessons that come with persistence and hard, smart, and efficient work.

This week I learned and was reminded that there’s always a solution and an answer. It may not be the one you’re looking for but it will give you a clue as to: whether you should continue on with your goal, in what manner you should carry on with it and at what speed, and whether or not that goal can morph or blossom in to something else.

Ask a lot of questions. Become something of an apprentice. Plant seeds every day. 

Get your hands dirty. Water aforementioned seeds at appropriate intervals.

You have now just become a farmer of opportunity. (Can I get a “boo-ya”?)
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The board of directors I serve on, the New York City Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is sponsoring an event to raise money for suicide prevention research and education. June 20th in Manhattan, we are having our Summer Solstice, an evening of fine art, fine wine, and culinary specialties. Celebrity Chef, Christopher Lee is our special guest. Please consider attending. It is going to be a lot of fun. More info here. Tickets are available here.
Thank you!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The i'Mpossible Project …According to Chelsea Kowal (39)

This is the thirty-ninth edition of The i’Mpossible Project: A series where anyone can share a personal story of inspiration or an event in life where they overcame tremendous odds. Everyone has a powerful story to tell and something to teach the world. (See HERE for guidelines on how you can write for The i’Mpossible Project.) Here we have Chelsea Kowal with "Finding My Voice With the Help of a Pencil."

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I just woke up from what might have been the most scary, unbelievably weird, yet most interesting dream I have ever had. The incredible thing is that I remember most of it and even learned from it. 
My friend, her daughter, and I were in a city and I brought her daughter to another town to spend some time at a lake. We were out in the water and then looked back at the city and there were tornados swirling around.
To me, tornados are the epitome of losing control. At any moment, a tornado can make a sharp turn. For many years as a child, I lost control. I was abused by various family members. I never knew when the next “attack” would come. I lost further control of my surroundings as I watched everyone in my family deal with drug and alcohol abuse. I lost even further control earlier this year as I dealt with psychotic episodes due to schizoaffective disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sometimes life can take inevitable twists and turns—a loss of a job,  divorce, death in the family.
In my dream, my friend’s daughter said she was scared. I had to admit I was scared as well but I told her, “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.” And I did. I got her to a safe spot.
The significance of this is that lately, I’ve been taking back control in my own life. Though we may not always be in control of our surroundings or the things that we deal with, we can take back control by the way we react to the situation. And that is empowering—truly. We will always undergo things in this life that are out of control … but we can choose how we react.
The second thing that I learned from my dream was that how we react to different situations not only affects us but also the people around us. In my dream, I had to be calm for my friend’s daughter. I had to tell her that everything was going to be okay. There are so many things that we have to deal with in life that are difficult and sometimes terrifying. But we have the power to take control and in so doing we can help others along the way.
Everything that we are experiencing is not just about us. It’s also about the other people who are with us on the journey. We have a great opportunity to make a difference in the world just by enduring, overcoming, and moving forward despite the challenges.
The last thing that I’ve realized from braving current and past struggles is that we each have a voice. Allowing that voice to talk is not just important for us, but we can make a difference in other peoples’ lives by speaking out about how we’ve gotten through our trials and tribulations. I recently started a blog and it has been so empowering to have a voice—to talk about the difficult stuff and to let myself be heard.
For so many years, I felt voiceless. I felt like I wasn’t being heard. I was ashamed of my mental illnesses. But since writing about my struggles, I realized how freeing it is to raise awareness and to help others to understand mental illness through my own frame of reference.
No matter what you’re going through, you can be heard.
* * *
Chelsea Kowal holds a BS in Biomedical Engineering and is currently in school to receive her Masters. In her free time, she likes to write, read, take walks and listen to music. She also enjoys raising awareness about mental illness through her blog, Hope Rising (www.hoperisesafterthestorm.com).
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Why is this "The i’Mpossible Project?" 
Inspired by Josh Rivedal's book and one-man show The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah. Gospel (non-religious) means "Good News" and Josh's good news is that he's alive, and thriving, able to tell his story and help other people.

On his international tour with his one-man show, he found incredible people who felt voiceless or worthless yet who were outstanding people with important personal stories waiting to be told. These personal stories changed his life and the life of the storyteller for the better. 


Josh's one-man show continues through 2015 and beyond and he is looking for people in all walks of life, online and offline, to help give them a voice and share their stories with the world.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Only Constant is Change



“Do not repeat the tactics that have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.” 

This week, I was juggling rewrites to the GATJ along with a tune-up of my GATJ suicide prevention program. Why? Well, because of that Sun-Tzu quote I happened upon while doing a little self-reflection. In the process, I learned a valuable lesson that could help someone else down the road and so I share my lesson with you:  (*note all “you’s” and “I’s” n the paragraphs below, refer to me. Feel free to substitute your name in place of mine when necessary)

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If you’re looking to do good work on a continuous basis, it’s going to take a stomach strong enough for discomfort and an awareness that you should be in a constant state of evolution .

The things that were successful for me yesterday won’t necessarily work again tomorrow. The world is always in a state of flux due to the rise and fall of kings, advanced technology, and the natural aging process. I must, at the very least, attempt to keep up and refine myself according to my personal values and the sensibilities of people I would like to reach. If I’m not evolving and growing then I’m falling behind or sitting still, and my butt-print will be left on the sands of time. The natural progression of self-evolution in an enlightened society seems to go like this:
  1. Listen and acknowledge what it is that is changing around you.
  2. Strategize on what adjustment you need to make in response to change. How you will you experience growth as a result of the adjustment?
  3. Develop your self-improvement or your desired achievements.
  4. Launch the new and improved you (or insert name of catalyst for desired outcome) and take risks when sending it into the world. What you send out doesn’t have to be perfect and there’s no guarantee that what you put out will do well BUT if you follow the first three steps, your risk for “failure” will be minimized.
Rinse and repeat. Things can always be done a better way. There’s always room for improvement. Get your Darwin on. 
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Rock on, my friends. Hope that was the least bit useful to you :)