James pictureI met James while in college at Michigan State University.  We had similar interests in Russia; I was taking Russian classes and he was involved in Global Hopemakers, a non-profit organization focusing on cultural exchanges with the former Soviet Union.  We became fast friends and continue to be close 20 years later.

James and I have had some remarkable times together; everything from an Oscar party in California to being talked into performing in a Chicago drag queen contest.  The great thing about our friendship is we can go months without talking but as soon as we get back together it’s like no time has passed.

James is intelligent, driven and a role model to me.  I’m so proud of his success and think of him as one of my brothers.  I think you’ll understand why…

Who, what inspires you?

I am inspired by the stories of everyday people who do the best they can to face all that life challenges them with on a daily basis.  Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with people in hospice care programs, people with substance abuse issues and people coping with the grief of losing loved ones and various forms of depression. If you scratch the surface, you can’t help but become aware of the pain and insecurity that most people carry around with them every day and appreciate their courage.  I am inspired by their ability to pick themselves up and carry on despite the pain and grief they feel.

Do you have a slogan, motto or mantra?

I have many.  I use them daily as part of my meditation practice.  They help me stay focused and create the life I want to live.  I would say there are two that inspire and motivate me the most.  The first is: “that which is right is unfolding.”  This reminds me to be open to the present moment, to not control my experience, but to be open to the synchronicity and possibility of every day.  The second mantra is to remind mySelf that: “I am growing into my highest good.”  This inspires me to be the best I can be each day to achieve my highest potential for mySelf and for others.

Do you have a lesson or thought to share?

Being mindful and conscious requires a rhythmic structure.  Consistent meditation, exercise, work and creative play time are essential.  If you don’t make an effort to find a balance among these things in your life, your growth and mindfulness will be stunted.  I use my Smart Phone to schedule reminders multiple times a day to make sure I have done something from this list.  The other thing I have found important to maintaining mindfulness is regularly going outside, to breathe deeply and to listen to natural sounds.  Tuning into nature on a regular basis recharges myself!  The other thing I do, is find opportunities to volunteer my time or to go out of my way to be kind to someone.

How do you deal with stress?

It is important to separate yourSelf from the thing, situation, or person that is causing stress.  There is the stressful thing that happened and then there is the story about what happened that we create in our minds.  It is the creation of this story that often results in the internalization of stress.  To deal with it, I avoid putting mySelf in situations or around people or things that I know stress me out.  Second, I try to not over analyze and re-visit the story about what has happened to cause me stress.  This kind of worry is self-defeating.  Instead I try to focus on things, people and situations that make me happy and bring me peace.

Anything you want to share?

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams”….Thoreau.  This is indeed how we manifest the un-manifest and make our visions for our Self and our life a reality.

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