“How did you know that tata (‘dad’ in Croatian) was the right guy for you?” my 10 year old son Blais asks. “How did you know something was right for you?”
He wants to know how I knew to follow my passion, so he too can choose a path and feel the sense of joy that he feels now when he does things he loves to do.
We often have meaningful conversations in our family, as often as we talk about stuff like historic and fictional battles from various books, or famous movie quotes.
I have three sons (and a husband) who have been listening to my stories and thoughts about love, music, emotions and spirituality since they were infants in my arms. They are comfortable and willing to talk about feelings and about complicated ‘soul’ stuff…
Those are some of the most powerful bonding times in our family (and usually they happen around our kitchen table over delicious homemade meals.)
So, when the Huffington Post invited me to be a part of their project #TalkToMe, which is meant to trigger meaningful conversations between parents and children, I didn’t have to prepare at all. To me, connecting with my children through open, honest and courageous conversations is one of the things I’m grateful for most in my life.
Blais and I rolled the built-in camera on my computer, and he began to ask me the five questions that were closest to his heart.
Stuck in a (pedicure) cycle keeps the damage covered up
I’ve been on a pedicure cycle for several years. I’ll get an appointment, read a magazine and walk out with beautiful shiny toenails. Between appointments, I’ll apply ’emergency’ coats which most of the time are ‘can’t find time right now to do it right’ coats. Even if I catch a glimpse of my naked toenails between the polishing, I don’t pay them any attention.
Then one day I decided to take a body inventory. I wanted to inspect everything, in case there were any signals my body was giving me about my health. Nails, for instance, can be early indicators of health issues such as anemia, heart failure, jaundice, melanoma, and malnutrition . But not MY nails. Mine are damaged chemically, and until the damaged part grows out, I’m out of my body’s natural clues.
This causes me to pause.
What else is there in my life that I have on a repeating schedule and don’t take time to pay attention to? What else am I covering up with shiny stuff and allowing to escape my notice?
It’s easy to get stuck in these cycles – particularly when we are always on the go, always running, always short on time – and when we catch a break, we find ourselves too exhausted to deal with anything. When we finally stop a cycle, many times the damage is already done. Sometimes we even let things go so far that the real ‘inner’ problems and deeper issues we need to address get buried completely.
This is what drew me to Dr. Cary Gannon and AILA Cosmetics, a (not so) random tweet having brought me to her web site. As I usually do with all companies, I first read the “our story” page, where I find this:
“You might say that I had a mid-life crisis but I prefer the term ‘awakening.’ I started eliminating things (and people) in my life that were not healthy for me. Taking care of my body and eliminating toxic ingredients became a priority.”
‘Mid-life crisis’ catches my eye first, and then with ‘awakening’ I’m fully alert – the latter being something I discuss frequently throughout the Waking Up in America series.
“When you find yourself trapped in a cycle, recognize that the only thing that you truly control in that cycle is yourself. So…I changed the cycle and AILA Cosmetics was born.”
I’m especially curious about Gannon’s approach to eliminating toxic ingredients, as I attempt to free myself from my own unhealthy cycles. I have to find out more. And I need to get some AILA nail care.
Good Health Inside and Out
When I meet Dr. Cary Gannon, I feel a slight urge to take off my shoes and show her my toenails (they’re a lot better now, but still unpainted – I vowed I wouldn’t put more nail polish on until I found something healthy.)
I wait until the cameras are rolling to tell her my story and explain why my fingernails are also unpainted.
And then I listen with admiration as she shares her story with me (and you) – courageously and willingly taking off all of the polished and protective outer layers to expose what lay beneath. No matter how shiny, glamorous and luxurious our lives may be on the outside, there is always the naked truth underlying it all.
“I’m laying everything about my life out there. I mean it was not only a transformative time in the way I practice medicine, but also [in] my personal life.”
Dr. Gannon’s waking up moment was triggered by a situation at her practice where she found herself unable to provide information about a product she was recommending because the company that produced it wouldn’t disclose it.
She felt trapped, and completely out of control .
“I was looking at the cycle that I was trapped in… and I just realized, I am controlling nothing in the cycle… and the only thing I can change in this cycle is myself. And if I don’t personally change within this cycle, then this is how I’m gonna live the rest of my life. And so I basically had to put a stop to everything.”
And she did. The first step of her change was a trip to a juice bar and a shot of wheatgrass, because she felt that eliminating all the toxic ingredients out of her life was one thing she did have control over. We have the power to choose what we are willing to put in and on our bodies, what thoughts we allow to guide our actions and what voices we decide to silence or follow.
She didn’t keep on pretending, or try to preserve the pretty picture. She didn’t just apply a different shiny coat, or go through another treatment without really looking at what lay underneath. She faced her naked truth.
Gannon took the lessons she learned and extended them to other women, founding and developing AILA Cosmetics, a non-toxic nail care line. Through it she is inspiring women to embrace the idea that beauty should be functional and healthy, and to recognize that we don’t have to compromise anything to look, feel and be our very best.
She has also dedicated all of the proceeds of her beautiful 5 Senses nail polish to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation in honor of her daughter Aila, who has been an inspiration and facilitator of teaching her how to stop, slow down and take time to just be (for a self-described ‘over-functioner’ like Gannon, this lesson has been a huge and precious gift.)
After the shoot, I get a manicure by Gannon herself, and she sends me off with four of my favorite nail colors and a delicious Argan Oil nail polish remover that actually makes my nails shine after I remove the polish. It helps to remind me that I am willing to take good care of myself, stop on a Saturday morning and shed my glossy outer layers for a weekend with my kids and my husband.
Dr. Cary Gannon is a podiatric surgeon and the founder of AILA Cosmetics, a luxury collection of nail care products that are free of harmful chemicals. Dr. Gannon inspires women to embrace the idea that beauty should be functional and healthy, and that we don’t have to compromise anything to look, feel and be our very best.
On a gorgeous and unusually warm January day, I arrive at the Jim Warren skatepark in Franklin, TN to shoot an episode with Lew Ross, a social activist and the founder of Fickle Skateboards.
While the crew sets up the shot, Lew skates with some locals – two young men in their twenties (one a teacher and the other a government agency worker) and a clean-cut high school kid.
Lew lives in Northside, a relatively diverse part of Cincinnati, OH, where he connects just as easily with skateboarders from all walks of life.
“When you’re skateboarding, all the stuff you worry about, how you fit in society — it doesn’t matter when we’re rolling on skateboards. You could be on the opposite end of the political or social spectrum from me. When we skateboard together, that’s not there,” he explains.
We cover so many interesting things in our interview that it’s impossible for me to edit anything out. So we decide to break it down into two parts, both equally informative and inspiring.
PART 1: STIRRING THE POT
It all comes down to one thing: Be who you are and don’t let culture pressure you into being something you’re not.
We talk a lot about conformity and the price people are willing to pay to fit in, finding value through the tricks they perform or the clothes they wear, a topic I’ve been exploring a lot recently.
“I’m passionate about empowering people to dare to be who they are and to skate differently if that’s their thing,” Lew says. He runs his brand not because he loves wood, but because he loves the people who skateboard.
Running a skateboard brand is the way that I can reach to the culture and say: Hey kid, you don’t need the hat, you don’t need the pants, you don’t need the right shirt. You are! Whatever you wear is right because it’s on you. Your spiritual being, your intellectual being is what is most important. — Lew Ross
PART 2: POWER AND LOVE
It’s Lew’s personal story that, for me, makes what he does so meaningful and impactful. It’s one of those stories that seems to be a common thread in society, and that many will find familiar.
But it’s a story that has to be repeated over and over, because within it lies a universal need to be loved, heard, accepted, validated, and embraced. It’s a story that when ignored can have tragic consequences. Lew speaks at length about his experiences during our interview:
“Martial arts and skateboarding were a big part of how I began to find my way in the world. You know, 12-year-old kid, sensitive, socially maladjusted… I got bullied pretty savagely. So many people have that story and… I got into a really dark place…
I got really gnarly ’cause the world is extremely unwelcoming toward organisms like me. People who are sensitive and idealistic really get… they really get the business in the world…”
Self-harm and rage became a real way for Lew to take control. He looked for power in darkness and nihilism until he got ‘whiplashed’:
I was extremely ugly. I valued decay and death very highly, like religiously, and became a very, very dark, evil person for a short time. And then I just got whiplashed around. I started to shatter. I started to fall apart. It was too much for me, all this negativity and all this decay in all of this very sincere punk rock nihilistic engagement. I started to fall apart.
His waking up moment came during a talk by Leo Buscaglia that was broadcast on TV.
I watched a talk by Leo Buscaglia with my mom and I just began to weep. I remember I was weeping uncontrollably and I left the room ’cause, you know, I ‘hated’ my parents, I didn’t wanna talk about it and I didn’t wanna have any feelings and I… it was like one week I saw Leo Buscaglia speak on TV and it busted me.
I called my Hindu friend up that night and I said, there has to be a god. And I said I discovered it. God has to be love!
Lew’s personal story of waking up to love has been his inspiration and motivation for how he shows up in the world.
Being exposed to acceptance and love at a baseline level have… it’s caused me to sort of file a divorce with this world and its dumb fashion rules and its dumb conformity and its: Oh well, you have to wear this or wear that or look like this or look like that. You have to be cool, or you have to be thin, or you have to be beautiful, or you have to be gay or straight, or black or white…
Lew is not afraid to be different and controversial. He believes that questioning authority is the only way to find the relevant truth. True to his beginnings in the punk rock movement of independent thinking and independent life choices, Lew is passionate about standing up against misogyny and racism and phobias of any kind — in skateboard parks and in the world.
If a human community is going to be bigoted about what you’re riding in a skatepark, then that community is definitely gonna fall like dominoes when it’s time to be bigoted about other things.
Lew Ross is a social activist from Northside in Cincinnati, Ohio and the creator of Fickle Skateboards. Lew crafts each board in his workshop with the intention of encouraging young skaters to be who they are and not force themselves to conform to the ideals of modern skating culture.
“From the moment she took the stage, the entire room was captivated. 250 women and girls were silent, hanging on every word and every note. As Tajci wove a web of humor, vulnerability, and reverence in song and speech, for those listening, she became a daughter, a mother, a friend.” – Megan Silas, MD, College Station, TX
What if you could truly live your dream?
Seeking to meet the expectations of those we love and respect, many of us tuck away our dreams and aspirations, only to conform and then live a life deemed ‘good’ by those around us. Living their dream and their vision, rather than your own, you deny the deepest desires of your heart and fail to contribute to the world through your uniqueness and your purpose.
Growing up in the communist system and as a teenage superstar in the European music industry, I lived the dreams of others. As a 21 year old immigrant, freshly arrived in New York and America and knowing no English, I soon got ‘stuck’ in the consensus consumer vision of the “American Dream”. I knew there had to be something more if I could only find and embrace the true American Dream.
After 13 years of touring America, performing more than 1,000 concerts, raising a family on the road and almost losing my marriage, I learned the secrets to achieving the freedom and courage that it takes to awaken from someone else’s dream and to begin living one’s own.
Tajci will be performing “Waking Up In America” at TEDx Cincinnati at Memorial Hall, on October 16th, 2014
Želiš li promijeniti svijet? Ili barem biti na strani onih koji to žele? Ili se pridružuješ onima koji dižu ruke u zrak i kažu „To je nemoguće!“
Ne podsjeća li vas to na vrlo logičnu i jednostavnu teoriju „kritične mase“?
Ako ste voljni priznati da smo SVI povezani i da smo SVI jedna velika obitelj (i ako još i vjerujete da SVI pripadamo jednome Bogu, kreatoru neba izemlje, svega vidljivog i nevidljivog), to će vam imati smisla i neće vam biti previše komplicirano za shvatiti.
Ako se fokusiramo na kolektivno „zašto?“, onda zajedno kao čovječanstvo možemo pokrenuti velike promjene u svijetu.
No, izgleda da je lakše biti skeptik, odustati bez pokušaja i ostaviti to nekome drugome da učini umjesto nas.
„Neka oni koji su kao ‘Majka Tereza’ pokreću promjene u svijetu!“, kažemo sami sebi.
S druge strane, ima dosta i onih koji su spremni hrabro reći: „Računaj na mene! Reci mi što da učinim!“
Ali dok ne prekinemo ciklus sažalijevanja nad sobom i svojom nemoći i odazovemo se pozivu, nastavit će se patnja, tragedije i uništenja u svijetu.
A to znači da trebamo izaći iz svoje zone udobnosti.
To znači da trebamo propitivati, tražiti i učiti kako otpuštati. To znači da se trebamo popeti na vrhova viših planina kako bismo dobili novu perspektivu.
To znači učiniti promjenu u našim srcima, duši i umu i prihvatiti da smo svi pozvani da budemo kao ‘Majka Tereza’.
To NE znači stajati sa strane, upirati prstom u nešto ili nekoga i kriviti sve oko sebe.
Nedavno su dijelovi Hrvatske, Bosne i Srbije uništeni poplavama neviđenih razmjera.
Kada sam prvi put vidjela slike poplava na internetu, užasno sam se osjećala – to je područje već pretrpjelo velika uništenja. Mnogi koji su sada sve izgubili tek su bili dovršili izgraditi sve što im je bilo uništeno u ratu 90-ih godina. Rat je za sobom uzeo previše života, a korupcija i lopovluk nakon rata još su dodali sol na rane izmučenom narodu.
Bojala sam se što će se nakon toga dogoditi. Balkan je oduvijek poznat kao mjesto kaosa i nemira.
Ali ono što se dogodilo nevjerojatan je dokaz kako se ljudi MOGU promijeniti i nadići sve ono što ih inače sprječava da se vole, da si pomažu i da budu darežljivi jedni prema drugima.
Pratila sam to samo na Facebooku, ali čula sam nevjerojatne priče ljudi koji su bili tamo.
Najprije se čulo nekoliko glasova koji su pozvali sve u pomoć. Poziv je bio upućen svima da na stranu stave sve nesuglasice i jedni drugima pomognu.
Nevjerojatnom brzinom, ti su glasovi privukli druge na pozitivnost i solidarnost.
Sve je više bilo onih koji su cinizam stavili na stranu i na trenutak vjerovali su u snagu da mogu SAMI nešto učiniti za druge.
I učinili su!
Tragedije često ujedine ljude u solidarnosti. Pitanje je jesmo li voljni ostati milosrdni, puni nade i ljubavi čak i u trenucima mira i ugodnosti?
Jedna lijepa poruka na Facebooku glasila je: Hoćemo li i se mi povući na svoje stare puteve, baš kao što će se voda povući u korita rijeka, putove koji su za nas prokrčeni prije mnogo stoljeća, i hoćemo li se ponovno svađati zbog razlika koje postoje među nama?
Možemo li dopustiti Božjoj milosti da nas uzdigne i da ostanemo tako? Ili ćemo si dopustiti da se vratimo u stanje bijesa, straha i osude?
Moje srce miruje tijekom nacionalnih praznika poput Dana sjećanja na pale borce. Svaka zemlja ima previše grobova onih koji su poginuli braneći svoj dom.
Svaki spomenik, zastava koja vijori pored njega, cvijet kraj spomenika i pjesma u njemu uklesana predstavlja izgubljeni život.
Zagrljaji, poljupci, stisak ruke, proslave rođendana – svega toga više nema.
Ima li drugog odgovora umjesto ratova?
Možda se čini da će nam trebati puno više vremena da pronađemo odgovor, ali mislim nemamo još puno vremena za pregovaranja i predomišljanja.
PROMJENA U SVIJETU ZAPOČINJE OD MENE I TEBE
Vjerujem da je upravo sada taj trenutak.
Odgovor se krije u nama, u promjeni koju moramo pokrenuti u sebi, u svojim srcima i svojoj vjeri.
Zaustavite glasove u svojoj glavi koji vam govore da „sanjarite“ ili da se to ne može dogoditi jer se previše loših stvari događa u svijetu, previše onih koji se nikada neće promijeniti.
Obvežite se na čišćenje vlastitih neuspjeha i svega što vas udaljuje od Boga, Kreatora sveg života, od Ljubavi, Svjetla i Života.
Spoznajte da je svaka ljudska duša stvorena na jednak način, da svi udišemo isti zrak.
Odaberite onu stranu koja vjeruje da MOŽE promijeniti svijet.
I gledajte kako se ta promjena događa!
Evo jednog izazova za vas: razgovarajte s nekime tko je drugačiji od vas, s nekim čiju kulturu i vjerovanja ne razumijete. Razgovarajte o onome s čime se oboje borite. Pokušajte tu drugu osobu doživjeti onakvu kakva doista jest: predivna duša koja samo, kao i mi sami, pokušava pronaći neki smisao u našem izmučenom, podijeljenom svijetu.
“‘Keep your Head up’ – has been a great success on our weekly Top 20, being currently at #6 after entering at #8 last week. But there are more news regarding Tajči. Every Tuesday at Tajci.net/TajciTV or TajciTV YouTube channel it is presented “Tuesdays with Tajci” webisodes, where she talks about herself, about her career.”
The video for “Keep your head up” was filmed on the Walls of Dubrovnik and in the city of Novi Vinodolski. As Tajci explained in her behind-the-scenes video, they didn’t have any sponsors for the video, just the help and goodwill of their local team. Power to the people! More here.