living intuitively

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Posts tagged self love
F I E S T A like there's NO MANAÑA
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated.
— Osho

I love celebrating. Celebrating people. Events. Ideas. Progress. Being alive. Tacos.

To me, life is meant to be celebrated.

And as you can see from my examples, I’m an equal opportunity celebrator. Life itself is a celebratable moment. Celebrate the small and big wins

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Celebrate getting out of bed in the morning. Celebrate choosing water over soda. Celebrate your decision to choose love over judgment (toward yourself/others). Celebrate overcoming fear. Celebrate your promotion, your new commitment to a life of health + purpose. Celebrate a perfect record of overcoming everything life has thrown at you. Celebrate being ALIVE.

I truly feel this is one of the keys to a truly happy life.


The more you celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
— Oprah Winfrey

And I believe people are meant to be celebrated. That’s why I love birthdays so much. Birthdays are an opportunity to celebrate that person’s existence, and their latest trip around the sun.

Celebrating is a way to show our gratitude for what we have. A way to express our appreciation for our blessings in life. A way to say thank you to yourself, to others, to the universe/higher power. And gratitude is ESSENTIAL in life.

Sure, it’s important to exercise discipline, and work hard. As with everything else in life, it’s about balance. But to achieve true balance, we should regularly acknowledge our wins. Not be so consumed by our ambitions that we fail to recognize our accomplishments, and what has gone well in our lives. It’s easy to be consumed by the daily minutiae, or our major objectives. Celebrate the steps you’ve taken, the hills you’ve climbed, the obstacles you’ve overcome on your way to that peak. Don’t wait until you’ve summited to high five yourself/others.

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Small celebrations sustain us along the way. Because guess what’s happening along the way? Life. Life is happening as we’re working toward our goal(s). And life is meant to be celebrated.

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Celebrations can take many forms. They don’t have to come in the form of huge bash with confetti (though those are fun too!). Here are some others ways you can celebrate:

  • Send your friend a thoughtful, appreciative note/text

  • Take a luxurious bubble bath

  • Eat your favorite meal

  • Treat yourself to a massage

  • Buy someone a thoughtful gift

  • Allow yourself extra alone time

  • Booking a photo shoot to show your progress

The options are endless!

Celebrate others. Celebrate life. Celebrate YOU.

xx,

-w-

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Eating vs. Getting Bread
Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography  Color edited by me

Images by Abbey Armstrong Photography

Color edited by me


Success is not counted by how high you have climbed, but by how many people you have brought with you.
— Dr. Will Rose

You know how drive + hustle are glorified? We’re told to strive for more: more money, more recognition, more ______.

I personally take issue with that. Why?

Because we are all different, with different dreams, different definitions of success, different ideas of happiness.


Success. There is no one definition. Everyone’s success is different. You can’t compare your success to someone else’s.

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For some, happiness means a simple, stable, routine life: working, hanging with family/friends, etc. Who are we to say that’s unacceptable? Who are we to define happiness for others?

Sure, it’s important to ensure you’re not merely seduced into complacency by your fear/comfort zone. And I don’t think a non-hustling life releases anyone from striving to be the best person they can be - that’s a human responsibility, independent of lifestyle choice.

But let’s live and let live! Happiness is different for everybody. Values vary.


It is not success if you’re unhappy.

What a CEO considers a successful life may not match a schoolteacher’s idea of such. To some, success means total financial independence with a sizable savings account. To others, success may mean freedom to travel the world and try new endeavors. To still others, success may be leaving a profound legacy of improvement and change.

Cool, man! It takes all kinds to make (and balance!) a world. It would be too chaotic if we were all overachievers. Dare to live your truth, “motivational” quotes be damned. We all have roles to play, and contributions to make. We all have value to add.

So decide for YOU and ask yourself: What is my definition of success? What does happiness look like for me? By what standards will I measure myself?

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And don’t forget this important part: Be okay with and detached from others’ standards they may try to apply to you. Stand solid if they attempt to recruit you to their way of life. Smile if they try to nudge you in a certain direction. Realize we’re all on our own journey, trying to figure life out and orient ourselves in the world. Not everybody will accept you and get you, and THAT’S OK. It really is. It’s wildly liberating once you realize that.

People should determine their personal definition nof success and release others’ definitions of success.

Know you. Do you. Love you.

-w-

Try not to be a person of success, but a person of value.
— Albert Einstein















The O T H E R
Styling and Images by Whitney Richardson Photography  Model Lily Cuoio

Styling and Images by Whitney Richardson Photography

Model Lily Cuoio

“I’m here to challenge you.”

As soon as my warrior queen friend Julie told me this, I acknowledged its brilliance and added it to my phone’s Notes. We’re all here to learn from each other. The people in our lives are there for a reason, I truly believe this. Every interaction, no matter how seemingly minor, has a purpose. We’re all here to learn from each other, inspire each other, empower each other, LOVE each other.

Everyone you meet has something to teach you. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. I’m willing to go out on a limb and posit you’re like me and haven’t mastered every single thing there is to master in the universe, and don’t know every thing there is to know. No matter how mature or advanced or enlightened or “woke” we are, there is ALWAYS something to learn. Maybe it’s a productivity hack. Maybe it’s a fitness pointer, or a financial tip, or a navigational shortcut. Maybe it’s a spiritual revelation. Maybe it’s even an example of what not to do.

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And technology has shrunk our world even more. More people from whom to learn and with whom to connect. So let’s all do each other a solid and keep (respectfully + lovingly) challenging each other.

And I challenge you to challenge yourself. Watch news from a different network, read a book outside your area of expertise/comfort, learn about a new religion, try something new - not to confirm pre-existing notions, but to question and expand your beliefs/outlook/assumptions/repertoire. Grow baby grow.

As Holocaust survivor/activist/author/professor Elie Wiesel advises, the more we are able to accept the many aspects of who we are, however contradictory those aspects are, the more easily we can accept others, with all their contradictions.

The extent to which we accept ourselves is the extent to which we accept others - ALL others, not just those aligned with our beliefs/lifestyle/etc.

So again, this requires:

  • Self awareness

  • Shadow work (face your demons, your repressed emotions, your fears, your S H A D O W S)

  • Self love


If you have issues with others, it’s a sure sign you have an issue with yourself. You’re projecting somehow. Our perceptions of others are reflections of ourselves. If we see a trait in others we don’t like, it’s because it’s triggering something within us, a shadow part of us. It’s triggering a fear/hurt/etc. It’s the ego at play, trying to protect us: protect our mental/physical/emotional health. Trying to preserve our dignity/sense of self. Our learned identity.

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It is the otherness of the other that fascinates me... What can I learn from him? What does he see that I do not, cannot?
— Elie Wiesel


We each have blind spots, just as every candle casts its own shadow. Only when you place a second candle next to the first do the shadows disappear, illuminated by the other’s light.

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A beautiful aspect of diversity is we EACH have our own way of perceiving the world, mixed with our unique set of background/chemical makeup/experience/etc. Even identical twins don’t share exactly the same outlook. We’re all like snowflakes, and we ALL have something distinctive and special to contribute.

That’s why:

  1. It doesn’t matter how saturated an industry is: We all have our individual eye/voice/view. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a photographer amid 25,000 other photographers in your city. No one has your same eye, your same touch.

  2. It’s crucial you nurture and celebrate and promote your individuality! Your quirks and eccentricities. They’re what SET YOU APART and make you SPECIAL. They constitute your superpower!


The distance between us is necessary, not something to turn away from.
— Elie Wiesel

When encountering someone with differing beliefs, listen to them. Listen to find their strength, not their weakness. Listen to enhance your own understanding, to enrich your own perspective; not to find holes on which to pounce, or incompetencies on which to judge.

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And respect the distinctions among us. If we believe we’re all the same, we might be tempted to prescribe identical solutions to all. In other words, we might think others are feeling the same feelings we are, and require the same remedy we do. Sure, it’s important to recognize our commonalities and collectiveness, but let’s not forget to acknowledge and celebrate our differences!

We need each other precisely for our differences and our diverse experiences. Those differences can cause conflict, and that conflict can be destructive or constructive, depending on our approach and mindset. Sometimes conflict can be good, to challenge the status quo, or our way of thinking/believing. If we never had challengers, we’d never have innovation. We wouldn’t have scientific breakthroughs, or technological advances, or humanitarian improvements.




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Entertaining different opinions and outlooks fortifies our understanding and stimulates our thinking. Even if we end up keeping our perspective, it can strengthen our grasp of the matter at hand. Staying in our echo chamber, shunning opposition and diversity, only weakens us, in ever way.

So let’s do our part to open our hearts and our minds to the “other.”

xx,

w




Being H U M A N in the age of A I


It’s 2019. Shouldn’t we be blitzing around in flying cars with robots at our beck and call a là The Jetsons? I feel let down.

Just kidding because…life might become more Jetson-esque in the not-too-distant future.

As we know, technology is constantly evolving, and artificial intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of that. If you’re a techie, you’re probably current on the state of artificial intelligence. The brainiacs working on it have made some remarkable advances in the field. Projected timelines vary widely, buuut it’s safe to say our lives will become increasingly impacted. Virtually every aspect: the way we work, the way we shop, the way we move, the way we learn, the way we eat, the way we communicate.

While we’re still pre-AI takeover, it’s crucial for us as a society to address important questions, such as:

  • What does it mean to be human?

    • What will happen to people emotionally, psychologically, and economically when they no longer have jobs and don’t work to make a living?

      • There is much discussion regarding the how/when of professional displacement (eg some fields will be affected differently) but it’s a valid concern

      • Many people base their identity and sense of worth on their title/job role/professional contribution/productivity/ability to earn income

  • How much privacy should humans retain?

    • Specifically in an age where data is the new currency, and computers are already lapping up all the data we generate just by existing in the digital age, to continually fine-tune their algorithms and customize their influence on us (personalized ads, suggested purchases, even music based on data we (un)knowingly provided).

  • How do we program AI for moral dilemmas, eg. self-driving cars swerving, thereby sacrificing you to save a child pedestrian?


If left to its own devices, AI will also produce a global distribution of wealth that is not just more unequal, but hopelessly so. AI-poor countries will find themselves unable to get a grip on the ladder of economic development, related to permanent subservient status. AI-rich countries will amass great wealth but also witness the widespread monopolization of the economy and a labor market divided into economic castes.
— Kai-Fu Lee, author of AI Superpowers
  • The technology - and thereby the wealth - will be concentrated in the hands of a significant minority

    • China and the US are light years ahead of everyone else, and due to the nature of the technology, this gap will only widen and become un-bridgeable, leaving other countries in the dust (thereby wrecking their economies - resulting in significant financial, political, physical, and psychological repercussions).

      • Drilling down even deeper, the investors/engineers in China and the US will accrue almost all of the data and wealth, as part of a cycle that will continue separating them from the have-nots.

        • There are a few proposed remedies to this (redistributed wealth from high taxes on those elite few profiting off the technology, gov handouts, etc) that should be considered and hammered out before it’s “GO TIME”

        • There’s even concern those elites will have the resources to transform themselves into literal superhumans, by bio hacking the shiz out of themselves (eliminating all disease, extending their lives, etc). This will further divide them from us mere mortals. Not an ideal situation, yeah?


As Kai-Fu Lee (author of AI Superpowers) notes, the resulting turmoil will take on political, economic, and social dimensions, but will also be intensely p e r s o n a l. As a society, we’ve come to see our work not just as a means of survival or “gettin’ that bread” (my words, not his), but as a source of personal pride, identity, and real-life meaning. Severing these ties - or forcing people into downwardly-mobile careers - will damage much more than our bank accounts. It will directly assault our sense of identity and purpose. Cue rising levels of depression.

Sounds doomsday, right? Pretty freakin’ grim?

But hear me out…

Kai-Fu Lee is one cool dude and knows his stuff. He contributed to breakthroughs when AI was first emerging, and since then has had a wildly successful career (as president of Google China, as an executive at Microsoft, SGI, and Apple, as an author, as an educator, as a mentor, as a speaker, as a social media influencer, as chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures). He went from scientist, to engineer, to executive, to teacher, to…cancer patient.

Lymphoma knocked him for a loop. Suddenly motivated to reassess his life, he gleaned paradigm-shifting, life-changing wisdom via self reflection, and visiting a Buddhist monastery. This resulted in an epiphany and changed outlook on technology, its role in our lives, and what it means to be human.

Kai-Fu, humans aren’t meant to think this way. This constant calculating, this quantification of everything, it eats away at what’s really inside of us and what exists between us. It suffocates the one thing that gives us true life: love.

Many people understand it, but it’s much harder to live it. For that we must humble ourselves. We have to feel in our bones just how small we are, and we must recognize that there’s nothing greater or more valuable in this world than a simple act of sharing love with others. If we start from there, the rest will begin to fall into place. It’s the only way that we can truly become ourselves.
— Master Hsing Yun, Buddhist monk

As Kai-Fu came to realize, for all of AI’s stunning capabilities, the one thing that only humans can provide is actually also exactly what is most needed in our lives: love.

We are far from understanding the human heart - let alone replicating it - but we do know humans are uniquely able to love and be loved, that humans desire to be loved, and that loving and being loved make our lives worthwhile.

Kai-Fu advises this is the synthesis on which we must build our shared future: on AI’s ability to think, paired with humans’ ability to love. Creating this synergy will allow us to harness the undeniable power of AI to generate prosperity, while also embracing our essential humanity.

Kai-Fu proposes a social investment stipend: using the economic abundance of the AI age to allow displaced employees to invest their time and energy in activities that promote a kind, compassionate, and creative society. These would form the pillars of a new social contract, one that valued and rewarded socially beneficial activities the same way we currently reward economically productive activities. It would provide income to those choosing to invest in socially productive activities in three broad categories: community service, care work, and education. Cool, right?

In an age in which intelligence machines have supplanted us as the cogs and gears in the engine of our economy, I hope that we will value all of these pursuits - care, service, and personal cultivation - as part of our collective social project of building a more human society.
— Kau-Fu Lee


If you’re interested in learning more about the progressing impact of AI, I highly recommend not only Kai-Fu Lee’s AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, but also Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

xx,

-w-




E M B R A C E the B L I S S
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

When you focus on the good, the good gets better.

In moments of bliss and triumph, do you ever feel stoked…then feel uneasy and wonder when the other shoe will drop?

Do you ever look at someone you love (your kids, your partner) and think how much you love + adore them - and then immediately think of how crushed you would be if anything ever happened to them (at which point millions of awful scenarios play out in your mind)?

Why do we insist on conjuring up potential tragedy in moments of deep joy?

Because joy is the most vulnerable emotion we feel, even more so than fear and shame.

As Brené Brown advises in her new book, Dare to Lead, when we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability. It’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and permanence all wrapped up in one experience.

When unable to tolerate that level of vulnerability, our joy actually morphs into foreboding, and we immediately shift to self protection. We go on offense. It’s as if we face off to vulnerability and declare, “You will not catch me off guard. You will not sucker punch me with pain. I will be prepared and ready for you.”

However…

The collateral damage of this instinct is we waste the joy we need to build up any emotional reserve, the joy that allows us to accumulate resilience for if/when tragic things do happen. Boom: Another powerful reason to live in the moment.

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Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.
— Mother Teresa

In moments like these I tell myself, “Right now, life kicks ass and I’m going to be happy and ride this wave as long as possible.” Not to say you must be sad and miserable during life’s other moments; but during those highs, lose yourself in the happiness, lean into the joy, embrace the bliss.

What allows you to do this, while still fortifying you against what may come? Simply gratitude. Just be GRATEFUL. I tell myself, “No matter how long this lasts, it’s happening right now, and for that I’m thankful.” I commit to being grateful for however long it lasts, and just grateful it’s even happening at all. (The bonus is this actually attracts more things for which to be grateful!)

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.

It’s allowing yourself the pleasure of accomplishment/love/joy/etc - really feeling it and absorbing it - but conjuring up gratitude for the moment and for the opportunity. It’s allowing yourself to recognize the sliver of vulnerability - that “Oh shit I have something worth losing now” feeling - and to just sit with it, and be grateful you have something you want, in your hand, that feels good to hold and recognize. We must stop every so often to celebrate ourselves and others, and our opportunities and wins, no matter how small. Things may go sideways later, but don’t let that rob you of the joy right now.

You don’t know what’s around the corner, so why sacrifice the present’s awesomeness for something that may not even friggin’ happen?

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I’m a big believer in positive thinking. And get this: Thoughts really DO have energy. This is not a mystical, hippie concept. It is quantum physics grounded in research and experiments of modern scientific tools. It is also backed by scientists like ya boys Einstein and Edison. Yeah, the heavy hitters. There is so much more to say on this (fascinating!) topic, but suffice it to say: Your thoughts have energy and it is scientifically proven. When you think negative thoughts, it attracts more negativity. When you think positive thoughts, it attracts more positivity.

Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.
— Steve Maraboli

In this vein, there are a couple of points I want to make:

  • This doesn’t mean you must force yourself to (try to) stay positive and high vibing every second of every day.

    • That’s just not feasible. Not realistic. As with everything in life, it’s about balance. Those “off” moments and low vibes serve just as valuable of a purpose. Not only do they amplify by the awesome moments/feelings/etc by providing contrast (think bright twinkling stars in an inky black sky), they also reveal our unhealed parts, aka opportunities for growth and evolution. It’s impossible and unintended for us to be jazzed 100% of the time, so remove that pressure from yourself right meow! Again, this doesn’t mean you reYOu sign yourself to misery and blahness during those “lower” moments. No, it’s about getting to a place where you embrace and are grateful for ALL life offers - the wins and the moments to learn and level up. It’s about loving yourself and others through it all

      • And what about those times when no matter how hard you try, you just feel dark? Stuck in those low vibes? Then just remember to bring it back to the breath, baby. Let that be your full focus. Breathe in, breathe out. (It helps to imagine inhaling love and positivity, and exhaling fear and negativity) If you doubt its power and think it’s something you can easily pass on - I dare you to try it just once. Yep, you’re welcome. (And no, this doesn’t make you a hippie - it just makes you a smart and effective BAMF.)

  • Don’t confuse faith you will prevail in the end - which you can’t afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, regardless of what they are.

    • This was a lesson shared by former Vietnam prisoner of war Admiral Jim Stockdale in Jim Collins’s classic book Good to Great (great read). Stockdale spent eight years as a POW and was tortured more than 20x. Not only did he fight to keep himself alive, he also helped other prisoners endure the physical and emotional torment.

So celebrate, and celebrate often - even if you’re just celebrating being alive. Embrace the bliss and love it for what it is.

xx,

-w-

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