Now is a great time to reevaluate our lives! During the summer of 2019, I did just that when I spent nearly a month in Pula, Croatia. The purpose of my visit was to immerse myself in another culture (my paternal family’s culture) and experience the life-changing experience of attending Mind Valley University (MVU).

My expectations of listening to great thought leaders and mingling with other like-minded individuals were totally met! It was beyond wonderful to experience the wise lessons of Marisa Peer, Eric Edmeades, Srikamar Rao, and others, along with our fearless leader, Vishen Lakhiani and MV co-founder Kristine Mand-Lakhiani.

But it was surprising to learn so much more! Something totally unexpected: Not only do other people envision a different type of lifestyle for themselves and their family, but they are brave enough to actually follow through with their dreams! They showed me through their individual actions that anyone can truly design and live a life they have imagined!

Everyone’s traditional expectations of how to live are pertinent to their part of the world, their culture and their upbringing. In my corner of the world, it’s expected to live well financially by having a career. It’s expected you will be married, have children and live in the same home or community most of your life.

Growing up (at least in my household), there was no mention of following your heart, listening to your soul, or asking God what you were to accomplish or do in your life.

The closest nudge I ever had in that direction was my father saying he just wanted me to be happy.  His advice was pretty much ignored until recent years because I had been busy working on the rat race of life vying for financial success.  It was only after realizing that money itself didn’t make me happy that I began to search for answers. Only then did a quest for happiness (or joy and fulfillment) even hit my radar.

To understand further, one needs to know a bit more about Mindvalley University and just what we are learning. Vishen Lakhiani, the co-founder, explained it best by saying MV teaches what our traditional schools do not. Yes, MV teaches business and marketing and other types of self-development, but they teach much more. They teach how to connect with others, embracing ourselves, soul development, spirituality, finding purpose in life, how to be better parents, and how to create the life we want. They expose our cultural brules (bull-shit rules). MVU shows us that life is ‘limitless.’

My description would be that Mind Valley creates people from the inside out.

Once you understand the MV Community, you can better understand the possible lifestyle choices.

Take, for example, Martin Daniels and his wife, Sally, from the United Kingdom. Martin was an IT Consultant by profession. They lived in Swindon and had seemingly the perfect life.  Boredom and unease triggered a move to Croatia to find a new way of living, but this only changed their outside world.  The real changes started a few years later when he was lost and depressed and he set out to search for more.  He spent tons of money on personal development and threw caution to the wind. He stretched his boundaries, literally and figuratively.

For three years their life was in turmoil including a near-miss divorce.  Over the last two years they moved back to the UK, and after only three months decided to embark on an adventure. They sold all their possessions and went to see the world, taking their teenage children out of mainstream education.

They lived as one might call ‘vagabonds’ living in countries like Estonia, Croatia, Greece, Bali and Australia.  Martin built a coaching business that he can enjoy (and still make money) while not being tied to a desk. They immersed themselves in the culture of learning, growing and connecting. This included the children as well. He is much happier now and the family has grown in ways that they could not have imagined. You can find out more about Martin at www.reallybeingyou.com.

Then there is Jeanene Tracy, who is a New Zealander, currently living in the Gold Coast and working in Melbourne, something she jokes it is the real ‘Tale of Two Cities ‘. She is a self-described ‘wanderer.’

She co-created and facilitated for the MV children and teen classes during our time in Croatia, but her main purpose is to experience life – through embracing and inspiring as many people as possible and immersing herself in the local culture. An example of this was a bus trip she took out of Pula. She asked for a ticket on the next bus going further than an hour and had no idea ‘where’ the bus was going.  To challenge her introvert by connecting with the locals, she asked friends to contribute some words and thoughts which she needed to find within the community, creating an instant adventure. Talk about a positive attitude!

She has always instilled this sense of living and loving life to the fullest in her children who are now young adults and also embrace world adventures. Feel free to check out Jeanene’s current escapades here.

Another bright light was Jade Green – the always bubbly persona from New South Wales, who is constantly on the go – through Europe and Asia – taking her leadership and marketing skills, as well as enthusiasm with her. Her office is her laptop at the local café or bistro. She has a consulting and marketing business that she manages on the road. She in undaunted by the noisy traffic, money exchanges, frequent moves and meeting new people constantly. In fact, she’s energized by it! You can connect with Jade here. 

These are just a few examples of alternative lifestyles presented to me while at MVU.

I hope I have enlightened others to live outside the box, or at least outside the traditional scenario of their home of origin. There are many ways to carve out the life you have always imagined.

Let there be no barriers to the life you want to create!

Remember: It’s never too late to start living your best life!

 

I want to personally thank all the new people I met at Mind Valley University in Pula this summer. You are truly a wonderful group of souls! It helped me tremendously to know there are other folks out there with the same vision – to contribute to raising the consciousness of the planet in our own ways. Back home in Central California, sometimes it seems like there is “nobody like me” and I must admit it has been a difficult thing to absorb/understand. Now that I have met many similar souls, it gives me the courage to be more authentic in my everyday life. I know life is a process, and now I feel much more aligned to my truth. Thank you for that!

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Janie Jurkovich, known as Janie J, is an author, poet, world traveler, and four-time published author. Her first book is “Live the Life You Have Imagined,” followed by a Companion Journal. Her third book, “Single and Sixty- A Reflective and Sometimes Humorous Journey of One Women’s Quest to Deal with Divorce Later in Life,” hit #1 on Amazon Kindle. Her last book, “Ignite Your Adventurous Spirit,” made #1 International on Amazon. She is actively living the life she’s imagined. Find out more at www.JanieJ.net

 

Yes, there is a purpose behind our actions when we say something that we later regret! This is quite a normal occurrence and definitely something that we as humans NEED to do in order to learn and grow.

No, I do not beat myself up about past poor performance. I learned long ago that such actions do not serve any purpose, except to make us feel worse.

Instead, I learned to forgive myself and move on. I vow to ‘learn the lesson’ and not repeat my behavior. When I was younger I remember clearly having to make a big, life-changing decision and the mantra in my head went like this: “I am making the best decision I can at this moment and I will live not to regret it later.” This mindset has served me well over the years.

Another example of behavior I ‘learned’ from was as a young mother. I said mean things to my kids, feeling it was my role to correct any and all behavior. Now I regret those unkind words and have learned there are ways to correct a child’s behavior by complimenting them on the ‘good’ behavior (even if it is difficult to find) and then gently correcting their ‘bad’ behavior. This works well with employees or co-workers also.

I learned from my former spouse not to bark orders about his chores, but rather to ‘ask’ in a kindly manner if he would be able to perform certain chores. This works well with others too.

In general, one must learn to recognize their mistake, forgive themselves, (i.e. learn the lesson), and try to incorporate this new behavior into everyday action. Lastly, remember that God or your higher power only requires us to do our best. Sometimes learning to do your best requires making mistakes along the way.

 

I have a reflective story to share. The publisher of the Ignite Series, JB Owen, sent this tidbit to all the Ignite authors (I was a contributor to "Ignite Your Adventurous Spirit").

I felt JB's shared story was inspiring.

You see, we all grow up within our society’s expectations of what we should be and do. Many of us don’t feel like we ‘fit in’ to these expectations. Such is my case and I hope yours too – because we should be living up to OUR expectations, not someone else’s!! This story reflects such a belief….

There was once a pregnant lion that was on its last leg. She dies soon after giving birth. The newborn not knowing what to do makes its way into a nearby field and mingles with a herd of sheep. The mother sheep sees the cub and decides to raise it as its own.

And so, the lion cub grows up along with the other sheep and starts thinking and acting just like a sheep. It would bleat like a sheep and even eat grass! But it was never truly happy. For one, it always felt that there was something missing. And secondly, the other sheep would constantly make fun of it for being so different. They would say, You are so ugly, and your voice sounds so weird. Why can’t you bleat properly like the rest of us? You are a disgrace to the sheep community!  The lion would just stand there and take in all these remarks feeling extremely sad. It felt it had let down the sheep community by being so different and that it was a waste of space.

One day, an older lion from a far-off jungle sees the herd of sheep and decides to attack it. While attacking, it sees the young lion running away along with the other sheep. Curious as to what was happening, the older lion decides to stop chasing the sheep and pursues the younger lion instead. It pounces on the lion and growls asking it why it is running away with the sheep.

The younger lion shakes in fear and says, "Please don’t eat me; I am just a young sheep. Please let me go!"

Upon hearing this, the older lion growls, "That’s nonsense! You are not a sheep, you are a lion, just like me!"

The younger lion simply repeats, "No, I know I am a sheep, please let me go."

At this point, the older lion gets an idea. It drags the younger lion to a river nearby and asks it to look at its reflection. Upon looking at the reflection, the lion much to its own astonishment realizes who it really was; it was not a sheep, it was a mighty lion!

The young lion feels so thrilled that it lets out a mighty roar. The roar echoes from all corners of the jungle and frightens the living daylights out of all the sheep that were hiding behind the bushes to see what was happening. They all flee away.

No longer will the sheep be able to make fun of the lion or even stand close to it for the lion had found its true nature and its true herd.

I encourage YOU to find your true nature and your true herd!

 

As I’ve grown older, I have realized that we tend to repeat actions which have undesired consequences as many times as necessary, until we “learn the lesson.”

Failure to learn means more lessons of the same nature.

Take the person who is late to work. The supervisor counsels them, yet they continue to be late. Eventually they’ll find themselves out of a job.

Another person might have a drug problem that leads to one negative consequence after another until things get so bad, they hit rock bottom. Then, hopefully, they “learn the lesson.”

A battered wife may stay in an abusive marriage despite the black eyes, swollen lips and bruised sense of self-worth. One day though, she might “learn the lesson” that no one has the right to treat her that way.

Why is it that we humans are so slow to recognize lessons?

One reason is that change is difficult, even when it’s a positive change. Some of us are so frozen with fear and anxiety about any change at all that we’d rather keep repeating the same patterns. Change is unknown; whereas certainty is sometimes preferable even if it’s an undesirable outcome.

Another reason is that some of us are just slow to come to terms with a situation. We think things will change. When they do not, we come up with excuses. We might want to stick with the plan, thinking to ourselves we don’t want to be perceived as a “quitter.” Yet, at some point, we know we have to make new choices.

Then there are those of us who are just plan stubborn. We might think something is someone else’s fault and by golly, why should we change? In those circumstances, one’s actions tend to be the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. These are the same folks who’d rather be "right" than happy.

I’m not suggesting we all move along quickly on life’s path and learn every lesson the first time it’s presented to us. No, we all move at our own pace. We’re all learning as we go. There is no right or wrong way to approach life in general.

But I am suggesting we pay attention to our lives and the lessons presented to us so we can make choices and changes for the better that might help us lead happier and more joyous lives.

We should also be cognizant of lessons that others around us have the opportunity to learn. We could save ourselves a lot of trouble in that case!

I believe we are all presented with lessons throughout our life as a means for our Creator to help us learn and grow. It is a way to shape us into better people or one might say – the best possible version of ourselves.

  • Spend time reflecting and being grateful. (Use a timer if necessary.)
  • Think about what you learned, how you grew, what you’re thankful for, what you realize now that you did or didn’t like about a situation and be able to move on.
  • Remember we also learn lessons from others. We don’t have to experience to learn it. Alcohol, drugs, cancer – we’ve all seen it. Being aware and paying attention to the struggles of others can help you to learn their lessons without experiencing it yourself.

So, the next time you’re thrown a curve ball in life, step up to the plate and be thankful for the lesson!

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