Tag Archives: confidence

A New Year, A New Kind of Resolution

The New Year brings such energy and excitement. While I am a firm believer that you can change anything in your life at any moment, there is something about everyone getting a fresh start at the same time. We can choose what to bring with us from the previous year and what to leave. We hear about everyone’s desires for this year to be the best yet, while they reflect on the previous year. The energy of the whole world doing this in unison is undeniable and a great time to make changes.

I spent this year similar to others. I spend New Years Eve thinking about the previous year. I celebrate some of the major and exciting changes and I consider the things that no longer serve me. Before that clock strikes twelve, I put little thought into the upcoming year and instead, use it as an opportunity to release. New Years day is all about moving forward. As with most, my resolutions typically have been goals that I want to achieve. Exercise more, lose weight, get a new job, start a new program, walk the dogs more, finally finish the growing pile of books I want to read, etc. This year though, I am doing something different.

This year isn’t going to be about what I am going to do. This year is about who am I going to be on a day-to-day basis.

Each of us has the benefit of having an internal guide letting us know we are being true to who we really are. Our souls can guide us from major decisions to everyday interactions, if we let it. When we open to the possibility that we have all the answers we need, then we can begin listening to our internal self. Following our hearts and instincts, we are opened to a world where we respect and love ourselves fully. We don’t act in ways that are aimed at pleasing others, but rather at what is right for us.

We have all had that taste of freedom, love, and passion that comes from following our true self. It is when our lives have effortlessly worked out. It is when we have been excited to move forward. It is when we have felt compassion for ourselves. When done consistently, all of these things benefit everyone around us and it can’t help but be contagious. And what the world truly needs right now are people who love deeply, have compassion for themselves and others and treat themselves like the divine creation they are.  This can only come if we each follow our souls guidance and act in a way that is aligned with our true selves.

So this year, my resolution is not a list of goals but one simple sentence: I am going allow myself to be my true self, in all moments and all interactions.

Will you join me?

With immense love and gratitude – April

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Why I can’t remember my age…

With my birthday a few weeks away I am often answering the question “How old are you going to be?” Each time I find myself having to calculate it just as I usually do when I am asked about my age. I find peoples reaction to this very interesting, as many people don’t understand how it is possible for me not to know it immediately. To be honest, I haven’t known my age for a long time and the reason is very simple.

I don’t really care how old I am. 

Age has truly no meaning to me. It doesn’t define me, explain anything about who I am or give any insight into my worth as a person. I also care very little how old others are. In truth, I actually look forward to getting older. Looking at my life now compared to when I was younger, I wouldn’t trade it.

I love the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years. I am more empowered, courageous and confident than I was even last year, let alone ten or more years ago. Too often we look to aging like it is a time bomb, ticking away to our last day. In actuality aging is a beautiful process of growth if we choose to see it that way.

We can have less limits to chasing our dreams as we get older, not more. We generally have more financial stability, more understanding of who we truly are and what we want. We may have more responsibility but we are also much more equipped to handle it. Our relationships and loyalties are richer and more fulfilling. I know so many people shifting careers, starting school or beginning families much later in life than “typical” and each one of them are doing it from a place of excitement and being true to their spirit which is sometimes lacking when we are younger.

The number one concern people tend to mention about age is the perception of our body’s deterioration. I have found that my knowledge on how to take care of my body is stronger than it has ever been, giving me potential of physical perfection that I could never have had before. While my body may have appeared to be thinner, have less grey hair or be less wrinkled when I was younger, I am far healthier now.

I know enough now to listen to my body when it talks to me. When my knees creak, when I am low on energy or when I see my skin looking tired, it is a sign of needing to take better care of myself, not a sign of “getting old.” I am grateful my body yells at me to stretch, eat better, and drink more water in the only language it knows, physical sensation. These things happen to us at any age, we often miss listening to it in our youth so as we age the signs become clearer.  Most physical ailments as we get older are a side affect of choices our younger selves made not some guarantee of body deterioration.

When we are young we look forward to our birthdays and getting older with excitement but somewhere along the way there is a shift when people begin to dread it. It is possible to still have that excitement for your birthday at any age if you chose to see the process as an exciting journey. I still think birthdays are worth celebrating but tying it to an age seems unnecessary to me.  We should celebrate stepping into a new year, not grieving for the past or feeling fear of the future.

Look forward with excitement for the potential it has instead of towards the past with regret and I assure you, you won’t remember your age either!

You are doing the best you can… so is everyone else

I feel compelled to repost this after some recent conversations I have had.  So many of us can be so critical of ourselves… Just remember, you are doing the best you can 🙂  – With Love! April

We humans can be very judgmental and critical. We can easily get caught up in what we think is right and wrong.   We constantly analyze our lives and think about what we “should” have done differently. Along with this, we have a natural tendency to judge others’ decisions and talk about what poor choices they made. This gives us further fuel to try to be perfect so we don’t end up “like them.”

It is no wonder that we lose self-compassion with all this judgment swimming in our brains. It is part of how we have learned to view the world, part of what we feel we should do and ultimately part of human nature. The trick is to understand that everyone, right now, is doing the very best they can. Does that mean we couldn’t make better choices? No. Does it mean we are flawless? No. Does it mean we don’t try to grow and improve our lives? Absolutely not. It does mean that we need to step back and treat ourselves a little more gently and with a little more understanding.

This life is a journey. We grow, evolve, change and learn. Every choice you are making right now is what you think is best based on what you have learned and where you are in your life. Sometimes we do things out of habit. Often we do things out of fear. But ultimately we do what we think is best for us in the moment. Our current circumstances are a combination of every choice we have made, which means we can learn from them and change them just as easily as we created them. We don’t need to berate ourselves into these changes. Loving ourselves and accepting the choices we have made for what they are is the best way to learn from them and start making new ones.

Of course after the fact it is easy to see what we could have done different to make things easier. It is natural to assess our past, and the actions of others, to determine what would have worked better. This is part of the learning process, but that is all it is. We shouldn’t utilize these tendencies to break down our self-esteem and feel bad about what we have done. We should utilize these experiences to grow and learn what we will do different in the future.

Our flaws are what make us human and what makes us beautiful. Learning to accept these, whether it be poor choices or parts of ourselves we don’t like, will ultimately give us the power to love ourselves completely. This is where true compassion will rise up. Whenever those thoughts of judgment creep in, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, give yourself some love and then take the next step forward.

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Sign up for my Free Self-Compassion Teleclass launching on 4/9!  I would love to have you join this incredible group on the journey of love and growth!

That horrible “S” word…

It is a word so horrible that I don’t even like thinking about it. My breathing becomes harder, my chest starts to get red and I get knots in my stomach. I know I am not alone, as it is one of the more painful feelings we can experience; yet one many of us live with daily. That’s right, I am talking about shame. Shame is such a powerful thing as it can cause many different emotions such as guilt, anger, sadness and so on.   It is a feeling that can be so terrible that many of us make choices daily to try to avoid this experience.   There are few feelings that have the power to direct our lives such as shame can.

The actual definition of shame per the Merriam-Webster dictionary is a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.   The fascinating part of this definition is that it explains how this feeling is completely based on what you “know” you have done wrong. Considering we live in a very complex society and most choices in our lives don’t have a clear right and wrong, this definition tells me that shame is actually nothing more than a feeling based on our personal perception. Our perception of what is right and wrong can come from many different places including our families, experiences, society, religion, etc. Since it is built with so many different pieces, everyone has a different understanding of “wrong”. For example, while many of us can agree that killing another person is wrong, we have very different perceptions in the world on if killing an animal is wrong. It gets even greyer when we look at societies “acceptable” social standards since every one of us were raised to have a different understanding of how you “should” behave around others. Yet, we allow the fear of this single feeling to rule many of the choices in our lives.

Since there are so many different opinions of what is wrong, it is no wonder that shame can take over our lives, especially if we are taking into account what others “must be thinking”. Looking back through my life I can pinpoint hundreds of decisions I made trying to do what I thought I “should” do based on what I believed others were thinking. Many of these choices caused me to delay living my passion or being true to myself; all because I was afraid others would think it was “wrong” and my old friend shame would come out to play. In actuality, most of the choices we make don’t cause nearly the impact to others as they do to ourselves, yet we make others opinions of what is right and wrong rule. When we feel we have taken the wrong step or others judge us, then shame will begin to swim in our veins causing us to hide from our truth and listen to others. This can show up differently in each person’s life, spanning from decisions such as our career choice to how we interact in public settings. If we don’t learn to identify and get out of this cycle, then shame is allowed to run wild, threatening to choose any opinion of “wrong” it can find at that moment.

A first step in the process of breaking this cycle is to start trusting yourself more than others. Begin to believe and have
faith that what your heart and gut is telling you is the right thing, even if others opinions would classify it as wrong. To do this, you must forgive yourself for any past actions that bring up that shame. Take some time to think through these decisions and situations. Allow yourself to be understanding of the circumstances and acknowledge that you were truly doing the best you could at that moment. Fostering this kind of self-compassion and forgiving your past mistakes will allow a stronger feeling of empowerment that will allow your voice to be heard. Ultimately, there is no need to be “right” for everyone, just for yourself. Trusting yourself, forgiving yourself and loving yourself will take away the power that shame has.   Begin practicing this and you will feel true freedom, the freedom to live who you truly are.

Decisions

You’re doing the best you can…so is everyone else.

We humans can be very judgmental and critical. We can easily get caught up in what we think is right and wrong.   We constantly analyze our lives and think about what we “should” have done differently. Along with this, we have a natural tendency to judge others’ decisions and talk about what poor choices they made. This gives us further fuel to try to be perfect so we don’t end up “like them.”

It is no wonder that we lose self-compassion with all this judgment swimming in our brains. It is part of how we have learned to view the world, part of what we feel we should do and ultimately part of human nature. The trick is to understand that everyone, right now, is doing the very best they can. Does that mean we couldn’t make better choices? No. Does it mean we are flawless? No. Does it mean we don’t try to grow and improve our lives? Absolutely not. It does mean that we need to step back and treat ourselves a little more gently and with a little more understanding.

This life is a journey. We grow, evolve, change and learn. Every choice you are making right now is what you think is best based on what you have learned and where you are in your life. Sometimes we do things out of habit. Often we do things out of fear. But ultimately we do what we think is best for us in the moment. Our current circumstances are a combination of every choice we have made, which means we can learn from them and change them just as easily as we created them. We don’t need to berate ourselves into these changes. Loving ourselves and accepting the choices we have made for what they are is the best way to learn from them and start making new ones.

Of course after the fact it is easy to see what we could have done different to make things easier. It is natural to assess our past, and the actions of others, to determine what would have worked better. This is part of the learning process, but that is all it is. We shouldn’t utilize these tendencies to break down our self-esteem and feel bad about what we have done. We should utilize these experiences to grow and learn what we will do different in the future.

Our flaws are what make us human and what makes us beautiful. Learning to accept these, whether it be poor choices or parts of ourselves we don’t like, will ultimately give us the power to love ourselves completely. This is where true compassion will rise up. Whenever those thoughts of judgment creep in, remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, give yourself some love and then take the next step forward.

Tips to Living Self-Compassion

I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up in an environment where we are very loving and kind towards others. My family will quickly help someone in need without hesitation; whether it is providing a hug, a kind gesture or just being available to listen. I learned many aspects of compassion growing up in this environment, however self-compassion was not one of them. While no one encouraged me to be unkind to myself, statements by those around me were filled with self-judgment. I remember hearing friends and family talk about how they have to lose weight and what they shouldn’t be eating.  I heard about who was having a bad hair day or how much someone needed to exercise. These statements were never directed towards each other since that would be unkind, but it was common for people to talk about themselves that way. I joined in, trying to perfect the way I looked specifically when it came to weight; a failed attempt to avoid the suffering I saw around me.

Almost all of us have memories like this that have caused us to have some level of insecurity about something in our lives or personality. It may be how we look, what we do for a living, how intelligent we are or the choices that we make.  As children, we don’t inherently have this self-consciousness, but it is put on us one layer at a time through experiences. We become our own worst critics.  Each mistake becomes a ghost that haunts us, full of shame and reminding us of how easy it is to fail or be unlovable.   These are the things that keep us living a life that makes us feel trapped and unfulfilled.

I have found that this pain is quickly put to a stop with practicing self-compassion. Self-compassion is recognizing the humanity within yourself and being grateful for who you are, especially the “flaws” that make you unique.  It is about being gentle with yourself and not judging yourself for every mistake.   Simple steps can allow us to treat ourselves a little more like we treat others, speaking kind words and forgiving easily for the little stuff.

Here are just some of the ways you can start to integrate self-compassion into your life:

  1. Forgive yourself – Generally we don’t think twice about forgiving others for small mistakes, but any we make are held onto causing unnecessary pain. Start with the small things (they are easier) and really look at the situation entirely. Ask yourself if you would hold that against someone else. Be very honest about the impact and the outcome of the mistake and determine if it is really that important. Then, remind yourself that you are human and these things happen, so it is time to let it go. It can be uncomfortable to bring up the mistakes you have made, but you will be able to slowly release all of these ghosts that are haunting you.
  1. Change your motivation – As a society, we have turned our self-hatred into motivation to change. This can easily be seen in advertisements and billboards. While this may help us get initial results, it never provides lasting happiness whether we are successful with the change or not. If your change is born out of the fact that you love yourself, it will be easier and sustainable. Strive to change things because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself. This simple shift in perception will make the changes exciting and give you more patience. You will start eating better because you truly want to take care of this person you love. You will want to stop procrastinating because you don’t want to put that stress on yourself. Coming from a place of compassion, any self-sabotage gets a light put on it and one by one those behaviors fade away.
  1. Don’t gossip or judge – The more you engage in conversation that is about what people are doing wrong or what isn’t good enough about them, the more you will build your own insecurities. It is natural when we hear people talk about others for us to wonder what they are thinking about us. If others around you are talking poorly about others, simply don’t participate or steer the conversation in another direction. If these statements are coming from you, recognize that judgment of others is usually an indication of what you don’t like about yourself. Take time to reflect on the situation. You will not only grow compassion for others, but you will see where you need some healing or forgiving as well.
  1. Ignore compliments – Putting too much weight on what others think about us, the good or the bad, will feed your insecurities. Self-compassion is about loving yourself regardless of what others think about you. This doesn’t mean you should respond rudely or ignore those being nice to you. It is about ensuring you are not doing things for recognition or acknowledgement. Give yourself the compliment, tell yourself how amazing you are and what a great job you did. These aren’t things that need to come from external sources to be valid.
  1. Give yourself some love – Part of living self-compassion is integrating some good self-care routines. This starts with speaking kindly towards yourself, even if it is in your own head. Don’t allow yourself to think negative things about yourself, quickly countering any that come up with a positive statement such as “I am perfect as I am.” Next, look at the actions you take to show yourself love. Every time we put the care of ourselves at the bottom of our to-do list, we are convincing ourselves that we aren’t as important as those around us. Truly being kind to ourselves means eating well, taking care of our bodies and having some solid relaxation routines. Any little change that calls to you will bring a big shift into your life.

Self Compassion

Speak up!

It is so easy to get into a cycle of silence.  Most people, at one time or another, find themselves keeping quiet when they are faced with frustration or hurt.  There are a few people out there who seem to have so much courage that they always speak what is onCourage their minds, and if you are one of them then I applaud you and encourage you to teach others.  If not however, and the majority of us don’t fit into that category, we can sometimes find ourselves mulling over the “I should have said” or “ I really want to say” in our minds and never actually letting those thoughts breathe life.  Sometimes we keep our mouths shut out of love or respect for another person and usually those moments pass without causing us pain.  When we do run into the ongoing battle in our heads it is often in a situation when we are not standing up for ourselves.

Even with the best intention of not causing conflict or frustrating someone else, the act of not stating our feelings and standing up for ourselves can cause us to carry around draining energy and pain.  While many of us would easily stand up to defend another, we can play situations personal to us over and over again in our minds trying to develop enough courage to just say what made us angry, frustrated or hurt.  It may be a spouse, a boss, a sibling or a close friend that hurt you but usually it all feels the same.  Sometimes we recognize it and torture ourselves with our self-disappointment and other times we blame the other person and resent what they did.  In both cases, we allow a divide to grow in the relationship.

While I do not recommend going around and yelling or hurting others, it is important that we develop enough courage and skill to gracefully and lovingly stand up for ourselves.  Keeping someone unaware of the impact of their actions has no benefit to you or them.  Emotions left unaddressed always leaves lingering energy that can build up over time and cause unnecessary pain in your life.

If you are someone who has something they need to say to someone and just can’t find the courage, try these steps:

  1. Try to separate yourself from the emotion in the situation and look at it from a neutral position. If we address things through purely through our emotions we can sometimes speak more hurtfully than necessary. Think about if roles were reversed, how would you want this message to be delivered to you?
  2. Develop your message thoughtfully with clearly explaining the impact they had but doing so from a loving intent.  Talk through it, write it out and replay it until you feel like you are presenting yourself well and keeping hurtful language out of it (sometimes that last part means you will have many revisions J).
  3. Practice with someone.  It could be a friend, family or a spouse but it is important that it is someone who will help from a non-judgmental point of view.  Often those closest to us will not be able to easily do this because they want to defend and protect us.  This can fuel our own anger and cause a larger divide in the relationship we are trying to mend.
  4. Go for it!  If you are truly approaching the situation with both self-love and love for the other person, your intent will be understood and respected.  If it is not, it may not be a healthy relationship for you to keep in your life.

As with most things, practice makes perfect and eventually you will be much better at addressing things in the moment.  Develop a routine of speaking up and standing up for yourself.  Not only will you feel better, but your relationships will grow and strengthen because of it.

Who Are You?

I want to know who you are.  I don’t want your name or any particular labels that have been given to you (unless they resonate), but what your soul would say if it were asked.

Why?  I want to know simply because I want you to know those things about yourself. 546699_488339164510904_704481975_n If you don’t take time to think about it and if no one ever asks, you may never truly find those answers.

We often hide parts of who we are.  We grow up putting on label after label so we can describe ourselves in a way others understand.  As we go through this process, we often start eliminating those that don’t seem appealing or acceptable to others.  For example, we may hear a child say “I am beautiful” but it is far less common to hear an adult say it.  This is something many take out as they begin to judge themselves or are judged by others.  It all starts when we are really young and before we know it, we forget what some of these things are.

We begin to define ourselves by what we do or who we are in relation to others.  Very few people start a conversation with a complete stranger with anything other than what we have chosen as circumstances in our lives such as a job, our marital status and if we have kids.  A few other “likes” or “dislikes” may come up but that is as deep as it often gets.  Sometimes we make lifelong friends with people who know everything about what has happened to us or things we have done, but we never disclose who we are.  It just never comes up.

The reason this is a challenge is it is impossible to honor, respect and love yourself if you have no idea who that is.  How can you pursue things that serve you, serve your soul and your ultimate happiness if you don’t know what they are?  One reason that people sometimes struggle to find happiness is they are living a life that doesn’t serve their happiness.  Getting perspective is sometimes all we need to know what changes to make and get closer to happiness, even if it as simple as starting a new hobby.  Going through the motions of life you may never take the time to ask yourself so I am doing it for you.

Sit alone, with no one providing their input and opinion and write on the top of the paper Who am I?  Start the next line with I am… and list out everything that comes to mind.  Don’t judge what you write or feel guilty about those that you leave off that “should” be on it.  You may find things start to list out that are things you always wanted to do but hid from out of fear or judgment.  You are already all those things; you just haven’t lived the experience yet, accept them as truth.

If you find harmful or hurtful words come up then you can uncover areas that need your compassion and love.  These are beliefs you have that can be holding you back from your dreams.  Working through them so they are no longer on this list is critical in moving forward and uncovering self-love.

Allow the words to just come to you and don’t force them, you may be amazed at what you learn about yourself.  Below are pieces of my list, my husbands and other people I know who have done this exercise.

I am a writer.  I am a healer.  I am divine light.  I am a friend.  I am a musician.  I am full of energy.  I am peaceful.  I am joy.  I am a spiritual guide.  I am awesome.  I am a mother.  I am a husband.  I am an animal lover.  I am a student of life.  I am a teacher.  I am an artist.  I am crafty.  I am love.  I am a leader.  I am a speaker.  I am blessed.  I am living gratitude.  I am a dancer.  I am a dreamer.  I am a gypsy.  I am beautiful.  

Who are you? I would love if anyone wants to share some of theirs here; I promise you will be met with only unconditional love and support.  If not here, than share with someone you are close to.  The more you vocalize these, the more they become part of your daily life and you will be astonished on how amazing that can be.

Be Independent.

Judgment is detrimental in progressing towards our goals.  Whether it is our own self-judgment or judgment from others, we can get stuck in our lives if we let it control us.  It keeps us from having the courage to create the life we want in many ways.  When considering how many people are looking to live a fulfilling and happy life, finding a way to release ourselves from judgment seems to be more critical than ever.  Understanding it is necessary is one thing, finding a way to do it is another.  To take that first step, consider this quote:

“What other people think of me is none of my business. One of the highest places you can get to is being independent of the good opinions of other people.”

– Dr. Wayne Dyer

This concept is incredibly empowering.  Most of us, at some point in our lives, have either heard or said, “Who cares what other people think?”  Generally, this applies to us going forward and doing something that we are fearful others will judge or condemn.  Taking on this perspective gives us courage to be ourselves and take some risks.  It is one small step in releasing the fear our ego sometimes uses to hold us back from doing things that will bring us great joy and happiness.

This quote, however, brings a new light to this concept.  Takes it one step further and challenges us to think about how good opinions from others is just as necessary to disregard as the bad ones.  It is also quite a bit harder.  When people recognize you and appreciate what you are doing, it feels great.  It also feeds our ego.  This can lead to a more dangerous cycle than not doing things because others will disapprove.  We may start doing things simply to get others approval.

In this situation, we waste valuable time and energy doing things that don’t feed our soul.  This is a cycle of never being able to say no and feeling disappointed when others don’t like what you do as much as you wanted them to.  We tend to start searching for others approval and it can stretch so far as to what careers we choose, who we marry, how we live every day of our lives.  It is a painful way to live.  Becoming independent of the good opinions of others frees you from an addictive cycle of searching for approval and allows you to honor who you really are.

To start doing this, think about everything you put your time and energy into.

  • Are there things you are doing simply because others will approve of you?
  • Are there things you aren’t doing because you are afraid of what others will think?
  • When was the last time you wanted to say “no” to someone but didn’t because they would judge you or think you weren’t a caring person?
  • Are you free to make choices without fear of what others may think of you?

Once you identify where you have been caught in the approval trap, use the phrase “What other people think of me is none of my business” as your motto to work through these situations.  It may take some time as well as having very honest conversations with those in your life about what changes you need to make but it will be worth it.  Being independent of what others think and honoring your true self will give you a significantly happier life.

Make a Change!

Recently I have heard from many people that just aren’t happy in their current life.  Most feel they have a good life, they just feel unfulfilled.  I love when people acknowledge this because it is a sign that they have decided that an average life is no longer good enough for them.  They deserve an amazing life filled with joy and they finally see it.  The hard part is, once someone sees this it can be extremely hard to keep on living the way they currently live.  This can quickly become a spiral of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

The only way out is to make some changes.  Change is very difficult for many people.  The “what ifs” swirl around in our heads until we have decided we can’t risk chasing our dreams.  The courage to chase our dreams and achieve happiness must outweigh the fear of change.  Creating courage is a process that can be different for each of us.  Some people find affirmations can be helpful.  Others reach out to others for support and encouragement.  Take some time to reflect on how you build courage.  Can you integrate any of these things in your daily life?

I have found that being surrounded by those that have had the courage to change helps me feel a little riskier.  With that in mind, I wanted to share the below post from Jason at An Out of the Way Place.  Jason made dramatic changes to create happiness in his life and shares this journey on his blog.  Along with the great photography, reading his reflections on this choice can help build some courage to make changes in our own lives.  Hope you enjoy and may it inspire you to make a change!

Changing Places

Posted on October 16, 2012 by giazon

It’s been three years since I set foot in an office and of those 1,102 days I can say that it’s exactly 0 of them that I’ve missed being there.

My somewhat dramatic career change from lawyer/banker to writer/photographer/bum is one of the topics I’m asked about most.  For the record allow me to answer a few of the most commonly asked questions I encounter:

1. Do I miss it?  That’s an easy one: no, never, not at all.

2. You could always go back right?  Yes I could, but I’d rather live off of twigs and berries in the arctic wilderness than go back to the soul sucking environment of the corporate world.  The only way you’ll find me back in an office is bound in chains or, less dramatically, if I’m working on a film in one. Read more here…