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The Beauty of Nothing

As I get older, I have noticed more and more how much most of us humans try to measure happiness with some result of success. The definition of success varies between each person. Some people view a romantic relationship as a success, others look to a power position at their job. Some calculate the number of digits in their bank account, and some calculate the “likes” or “followers.” Some look at the material items they have…even if it’s not quantity, it’s the best version or brand you can get. Some look at what they have in place to protect or keep their family safe. Some look at the amount of true friends they have in the world with whom they can trust and tell anything to. Some look at how good they are at winning the race of age and some look at beating the average in health. Some look at how often they show up for their God or spiritual belief. Some look for that deeper feeling of spiritual connection. And some look at how free they are to do or experience anything they want. My point is: there is always a presence of something to quantify. A thing of substance you can see, feel, touch, document.

 

But what if the true measure of happiness is that which is not there at all? What if I told you our dependence on quantifiable things is an illusion we base our existence on, and we trick ourselves into thinking that, without these things, we’d be unsatisfied with our lives? You’d probably think, “Okay, this chick has gone out to lunch on another planet and she’s read way too many existential books.” I’d be laughing right along with you, except the truth is… I haven’t read any books. I base this idea on an ever-evolving experience. In fact, the more I go through what I lovingly call, “the dark night of my soul” – where everything familiar and habitual has been turned upside down – I realize more and more that my attachment to ideas and things that I quantify as “success” is actually… bullshit.

 

To be more specific, two years ago, my quantification of success in life would have looked like this: I’d be living in a house with a front and back yard, sharing it with my loving husband and one or two kids. I’d have a family that is open and communicates, is spiritually connected to nature and a spirit that unifies us all. I’d have a blossoming business that brings in ample money to live comfortably and provide for my family, one that makes an impact on the world everyday. I’d be able to travel where I want and meet amazing people, and live freely without inhibitors and censorship. I’d be at peace with my age and I’d be kicking ass in my health. It doesn’t sound too out of the ordinary for what one should want in life, right? It may even sound realistically attainable and fulfilling. I’d even say I was quite possibly on the path of having all of that, in a convoluted way. But as life would have it, everything except my loving relationship with my husband and most friends got completely turned around and I didn’t know where I was or what direction I was facing – let alone what direction to go to. Most all things I counted on – that I could see, touch, feel, and know – dissolved or transformed, and I realized none of it was guaranteed. So at first I became angry, depressed, and hopeless. I gained weight and recoiled into an antisocial hole where I was left with my thoughts and my Netflix.

 

When all the things you know are gone and you are left alone with your thoughts, eventually you have to…think. After I got tired of being angry and depressed and avoidant, I was forced to think of the lack of these things, or another way to look at it, the beauty of them not being there, and the clean slate that I started to see. I’m not going to say I had nothing, because I have plenty. I am richer than a huge percentage of the population of our planet. But that’s the thing. I have seen people in the flesh who have way less than I do and appear to be perfectly happy. So in my thinking… I wondered… if I closed my eyes and focused just on my being, would I be happy?

 

I’m not crazy. I know that the presence of things makes us physically comfortable. Things we need to sustain life like shelter, food, and of course companionship, connection and love with others. My focus in life is to inspire people to discover their magic and passion so that they can change the world with it. So to have dreams and things to work toward and look forward to is the very drive that ignites us beyond survival. It’s what separates us from other known species. But I have found that the attachment to the way things “should look” as the optimum example of success sets us up for disappointment more than anything else. Sometimes, the grief of the loss can last a long time. But as these things get stripped away, there is an opportunity to see an open space. The “negative” space between the things that are or were there. To some, it looks like emptiness where things belong. But it can also look like the beauty of possibility. The absence of something is also a space for something else to be created. It’s freeing, in a way. It is also scary when you are used to that space being filled.

 

I was striving so hard to have these things to define my happiness and, subconsciously, my identity. But it is the space between us, the open space of existential discovery that is the “nothing” where our truest self lies. I recently saw a very poignant interview with Jim Carrey, and I related so viscerally to his concepts when he said:

 

We are constantly trying to add things to ourselves so that we can finally define ourselves. So that everybody will GET us and say “Ok, this is what you are.” But if and when you actually get there, you will find it is so EMPTY that you’ll realize that that’s actually not what it’s about. It’s about not just going with the flow, but not taking it personally.

The media, television, movies, social media, and our cultural upbringings condition us to think this way. It’s not easy to return to the happiness of nothing. But we were there once. When our souls first entered our bodies, before we could speak or develop concepts, the only thing that was important was being held, being loved, being fed, sleeping, and being cared for. As we grew, we observed the way life is “supposed to be,” our Ids formed, and our goals in life were formed for us. Which, by the way – none of these goals are “bad.” It’s more about understanding that we associate happiness with them as opposed to being satisfied and in awe of just existing. That these things are happenstance. That without the conditioning, we could be happy, and even fulfilled with the understanding that the journey is magic. The things come and go and being unattached to them keeps us connected to the bigger picture.

 

Imagine… all the stress in your life you could release if you simply detached from the way it looks. Imagine having goals, but also being open to whatever option turns out and is presented to you. Imagine being at peace with a return to the space of nothing. Freedom is not being financially secure, but knowing nothing is secure and breathing deep into knowing it will all work out no matter what it looks like. Just taking care of each other is really all that’s needed. Being that – rather than waiting for it to happen to you – is key.

Listen, I am just a spirit on a journey who happened to have an experience of nothing… even if only a glimpse. I choose to share the relief of it all as I have begun to accept it and have started to see things differently in this space of openness, in the space of nothing. And since I want you to live as freely as you can, I just invite you to try it on. Or perhaps in better terms: let it go.

Your Drive from Distractions

As a person fully diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (diagnosed in 1984, prescribed Cylert and therapy until age 12 in 1990), I am an expert in distraction. I pride myself in not only having an acute awareness of when my neurotransmitters are not firing normally, or my dopamine deficiency is kicking in, but I also have needed to learn how to cope and function in a way that works for my condition without medication.

 

This has been both a curse and a blessing, as well as an Achilles heel and a super power. The disadvantages are struggling with seeing tasks complete in a timely fashion, staying focused on one task for a consistent amount of time is a shit-show, because having your brain fire off so many synapses simultaneously is like trying to see all the stars at once in one glance. Focusing on linear tasks that don’t connect visually is like trying to speak a foreign language. Once I learn it, it’s cake, because my IQ is off the charts. However, if I don’t relate to it, it physically gives me anxiety. But the worst is when you have a lot of tasks at hand. Not staying present to what’s in front of you – like a one on one interaction – comes off as rude or inconsiderate, which is far from my desire or intention.

 

One advantage of my case is that I actually can do many tasks at once. I can multi task like no other, and I can take on two jobs at once and accomplish them successfully. I also can see things coming as well as notably understand the impact after it’s gone. I can recognize a valuable distraction versus an invaluable one and choose which will be productive versus which will not be productive. I may have a shitload going on my brain at once, and it may be hard to pay attention to analytical subjects that have no relativity to my colorful perspective, but I absorb quite a bit and can project manage like a fucking boss.

 

So why am I telling you this?

 

My lesson for today, folks, is to share some of my ADD expertise with you to help you not only stay on track for your goals and productivity, but also to stay connected to your stand and vision in a political world oversaturated with distractions. This won’t just assist you in excelling – it will allow you a more fulfilling approach to life.

 

Identify your triggers.

 

So first off, it’s super important to notice, become aware of, and identify your triggers. We all know that when we are on track to get healthy, or reach a career accomplishment, or set any goal for ourselves there is a specific occurrence (or occurrences) that when put in our sight will without a doubt deter us from our focus, and derail us from our forward moving track. It might be some negative commentary from a coworker or family member. It might be a seemingly “failed” attempt at something you are on track for. It might be a reminder of a traumatic past experience, such as tragedy or abuse. It might be as simple as something that gives you discomfort, and all you want to do is find anything else that will bring you joy – even if just for a moment. Knowing your triggers will help you have a better understanding of what initiates that jolt off your productive track. When you recognize it, you can make a choice as to how to respond to it, rather than having an automatic reaction. These automatic reactions will undoubtedly have you reach for the things that distract you.

 

Identify your go-to distraction.

 

So what’s your drug of choice? You may be saying to yourself, “But I don’t have a drug of choice.” Well, you may not have an obvious addiction like drugs, alcohol, overeating, or even sex. Those are socially recognized, destructive addictions that require treatment. They’re all obvious deterrents from fully present and fulfilled ways of being. But there are also not-so-obvious deterrents that are perfectly acceptable, and “normal” modes of distraction that can throw you off track, thus being destructive in an under-the-radar, sneaky way. Social media is one of the biggest – getting absorbed in your favorite platform by the “scroll and troll” lock-in. A trigger occurs, and instead of allowing the pain, discomfort or sadness to ensue, one picks up their device and looks for the next train wreck to get absorbed in: a controversial comment thread, a viral video, adorable animal pics, political battles, horrible news stories, a celebrity fuck up, or simply someone else’s life that, in your mind, is more interesting or more tragic than yours. We’ve all done it. We’ve all gotten swept away. We’ve all had that moment of realization that we’ve been on social media for an embarrassing amount of time, having wasted precious moments that could have been focused on our dreams and goals. We’ve all had that dirty feeling of, “What the hell have I been doing for 90 minutes?” This goes for streaming movies or shows online, playing game apps, scrolling dating apps, shopping… distraction distraction distraction.

 

I’m not saying any of this is bad or wrong. Not at all. It’s just that we all know the feeling of having that high of dopamine from getting absorbed into things that give us momentary satisfaction. It’s lovely. It makes us feel good. But unfortunately there is never enough. We can get easily addicted to something that never gives us a long term promise of bliss, and is only a button away to get that hit.

 

What does give us a long term promise of bliss is accomplishment, or a nurtured relationship. Setting ourselves up with a goal that we break down a piece at a time, or developing trusting bonds with people also feel really good. It feels good because it releases different chemicals into our bodies called oxytocin and serotonin. The difference between these hits, derived from connection and achievement, rather than that one single hit of dopamine, is a path to not only productive but also buildable results. Connection and achievement actually take you somewhere.

 

What are productive distractions?

 

In that moment of awareness where your mind, body, and soul are itching to escape the trigger moment, there are a few amazing distractions that can actually turn into productive results. It’s important to identify what this could be for you so that the choices you are making in each moment is not only getting you somewhere but has a longer lasting effect for you.

 

  • First though… Stop. Breathe. A few of them. In and out. That’s it. No really. Do it. Trust me.
  • Now one example, if you want another form of that happy feeling, any form of exercise will allow endorphins to kick in. It’s the body’s version of heroin – but leaves you feeling more energized and in a better mood with less stress. Oh and it also keeps you healthy, fit, and mobile… that’s a plus.
  • If exercise is not your easiest go-to, then you can create a goal list that helps you break down what you need to get done, but in smaller, achievable increments. Making lists can be addictive, but designing them so they have actionable declarations will surely make your lists more productive.
  • Creating a buddy system or joining a group that will hold you accountable not only supports you and your trigger moments, but also propels you to get something done because someone other than you knows exactly what you’re up to. The human connection will also boost your oxytocin levels and relieve the stress of overwhelm.
  • Creating a vision board is crafty, creative, and helps you visualize what you want more clearly so that your mind is occupied with cutting out pictures that have something to do with your goals.

 

Stay clear on your vision and where you stand.

 

It’s easy to get trapped in a bubble and get swept up by the hype of what society feeds you. Grossly biased news reports and emotionally charged righteousness can easily have us forget what’s truly important and what our stand is in the world. Staying true to what is most important to you is key to being grounded. Political conflict, especially nowadays, is probably one of the biggest forms of distraction from what we personally want to create in life and what we wish to create as a society. Being “right” in these political agendas, and even more so in our own families, takes us away from unity, connection, love, and compassion. So again, the same rules apply:

  • Be wary of your triggers and what content emotionally charges you
  • Note the form of distraction you take: avoidance, combative arguing, being a keyboard warrior, or any of the above mentioned vices
  • Then choose. Choose in the moment… will this line of action, thinking, or behavior lead me to what’s most important? And if it’s just taking you off the path, respond through a different choice that will keep you on track.
  • Never forget to stop and breathe.

 

Overall, personally knowing how difficult distractions can be has prompted me to create things that will support others in not only finding their way but, most importantly, by staying on track. The leadership program I’ve designed over the past few years does exactly that. It allows you to identify your triggers, what you’ve allowed to distract you, and how to create methods of productivity with connection and community. I’ve geared the program towards creative types because we often have the most ideas, yet the toughest time implementing them. So I’m here to say: I get it. I get you. Despite feelings of frustration and seeming solitude in your distraction struggles, there are many others like you.

 

We start our next program on September 15th. The more our community grows, the more we take our distractions and turn them into effectuation, inspiration, and impact. Will you join us?

BoA rule #72: The word “oversaturation” should only be used in the presence of glitter.

I don’t know about you, but when dealing with the challenges of my career, I keep hearing this one phrase over and over again, and it’s ironic by its very definition. That word is: oversaturated.

Definition:

verb. To cause a substance to unite with the greatest possible amount of another substance.

Used in a sentence:

The beauty industry is oversaturated with influencers and educators, such that the value of the industry has decreased overall.

Are you ok with not knowing?

I’m beginning to understand more and more that our current day society – at least in America – has an obsession with knowing the end to everything.

I am of course not speaking just from observation of others but of my own journey as I am (or have been historically) one of the most impatient people I know.

How to get over the “woo woo” shit around the concept of Abundance.

I often swing back and forth on how I can relate my spirituality with the physical, factual, and tangible world that I inhabit. It’s true that many of us believe that “Spirit,” whether it be the Human Spirit, the earth Gaia Spirit, or what some call the Holy Spirit, is the life force underneath our visible reality. Yet there is little-known “evidence” of it – something that people can cling to, that can appease the linear right brain. There is no “thing” we can easily count on, despite its sustaining benefits and truths.

Despite popular belief among my peers, I consider myself to be a realist, grounded in what is practical in most situations. Part of my practicality, however, is believing in and being connected to “Spirit.” I’ve found that even if you’re an atheist who doesn’t believe in “God,” you cannot deny the cause and effect of energy and the power of our individual vibrations.

Reclaiming Your Inner Voice

How do you access your authentic power while dealing with feelings of doubt?

We have another great “fireside” chat for you this week, hosted by three powerhouse thought leaders: Maryse Karunaratne, Michelle Jeovanny Lopez, and Dani Fonseca. Tune in to their discussion on how to hear your inner voice, grow it louder, and trust it.

Hear their stories

What do you march for?

As you may or may not know from my posts on Facebook, this past weekend I was a part of a flash mob call Dance Suit Nation that performed during the New York City Women’s March.

I have to say it was one of the most beautiful and inspiring experiences of my life. I can honestly say that I am still high from not only being a part of this one project, but being part of a bigger vision that does in fact move, inspire, and change people.

Are you one of the 4% who succeed in their resolutions?

We’re 11 days into the new year, are you still on track? If yes, awesome! If no, why the heck not? Don’t feel bad, but lets look at whats not working for you…

Did you know what 96% of people fail on their resolutions by week 3?!
We want you to be one of the 4%.

We have a great “fireside” chat for you this week, hosted by three powerhouse thought leaders: Maryse Karunaratne, Michelle Jeovanny Lopez, and Dani Fonseca. Its about the power of setting intentions, keeping your word, and following through.

Set yourself up to win

Happy Holidays

We want to reach out and thank you for your involvement with the Body of Artists community during 2016. We have had the privilege of teaching many amazing students this year, who’s hunger and passion reminds us to never stop growing. We have had the immense pleasure of coaching 7 wonderful and powerful leaders through our Makeup Artist Leadership Program, and we are constantly in awe of their impact in the world.

What is Your Battlecry?

So I have noticed in my past 8 weeks of working out with my new regimen, that often times there is a point where my muscles feel like they cannot possibly do anymore. I’m three quarters through an exercise and my body aches and my mind says “It’s ok, you’ve done enough, you can stop” …and sometimes I do. But then I began to notice in the workout video, right about the same time, the trainer will ask one of the others in the video “How are you feeling?” If I were them my first thought would be to respond with “I’m dying” or “This is killing me” or “Are you crazy?! Get the f away from me lady!”. But to my surprise and amusement that’s not how they respond.

Gift for you

Want to learn how to THRIVE instead of just survive? We have a special gift for you!

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