Lynne Goldberg: OMG! I Can Reinvent Myself

Lynne Goldberg MeditatingIn a short period of time, Lynne Goldberg lost all the personas with which she had come to identify herself.  They fell away, one after the other. No longer expectant mother, daughter, wife, sister or businesswoman, she was left with only one face to look at in the mirror and she didn’t like what she saw.

Goldberg grew up in Montreal, Canada, and joined the family retail chain business where she spent more than two decades in charge of merchandising management. She was a typical type-A executive, stressed out and overworked, which wasn’t exactly helpful when she and her husband decided to start a family.

“We had a lot of trouble getting pregnant and went through numerous failed fertility treatments. I was overjoyed when I finally discovered I was pregnant with twins after four years of effort.”

“It really helped me. We wear so many masks all the time and when you finally get down to it, who you are at your core really doesn’t change. Knowing that helped me shift from meeting external identities to finding myself.”

Her joy turned to sorrow, however, when Goldberg’s mother was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. The stress, combined with her full-on work Lynne Goldbergschedule, forced Goldberg to take bed rest on her doctor’s orders to save her pregnancy. It was all in vain as she miscarried and had to deliver the fetuses. Within the year, Goldberg’s mother died and her world fell apart as her brothers pushed her out of the family business.

“My mind was just not there anymore. I couldn’t perform at work and wasn’t able to do what they needed done. It was a business after all, so they asked me to leave. And despite having adopted two children, my marriage unraveled. I lost everything in a few short months,” she recalls.

She threw herself into a new line of work, using money from her buy-out to launch a home décor importing business to support herself and her children. Nevertheless, it was hard, as she was constantly travelling to China and Europe. On a personal level, Goldberg was angry, disconnected, and generally unhappy. She carried around the feeling that there had to be more to life.

Seeing her struggle, a friend turned her on to meditation.

“It really helped me. We wear so many masks all the time and when you finally get down to it, who you are at your core really doesn’t change. Knowing that helped me shift from meeting external identities to finding myself.”

She continued running the business but was really drawn to meditation and signed up for more and more courses, trying to figure out how she could develop that aspect of her life further. She began teaching meditation at hospitals and schools, until she finally came to the realization that teaching was what gave her the most satisfaction. Although her importing business was doing well, with clients like Costco and Walmart on board, Goldberg decided to sell and focus full time on teaching meditation.

“It was an easy decision.  There wasn’t any meaning in what I was doing; it didn’t make me feel good. Teaching did. When you get out of your own personal drama and look at the world from a bigger perspective, what good you can do, your mentality shifts. It’s empowering.”

And her perspective did change. Goldberg reconnected with her brothers, with whom she is very close today. She remarried and – most importantly – she’s happy and fulfilled.

“I went from being consumed with anger to having family that I love. It’s like that expression says, ‘Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal withOMG I can Meditate! Poster the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.’ One of my biggest life lessons has been forgiveness. Now I choose to find the things that give me joy. Instead of feeling something was taken away from me, I shifted to what I have.”

But the Type-A exec still lurked beneath the surface, and Goldberg wondered how what she was doing could be bigger – how she could reach more people and give them the same joy she was experiencing. As it happened, Goldberg’s husband, a fellow meditation convert who had been in tech, was feeling the same way. His last business produced ringtones and mobile content, and his number-one selling app was the fart ringtone. So it’s hardly surprising, he too was having the sense there’s got to be more and wanted to help his wife in her mission. The couple teamed up with another husband and wife duo who also meditated and had experience building apps.

After one year in development, the result was OMG I Can Mediate, a mobile app targeted at people who have never meditated before. The app launched in March 2015 with 12 weeks of content (the first of which is free) and over 100 specialty meditations from helping you wake up in the morning or go to sleep at night to dealing with your kids. There’s even the wonderfully named “My Boss is a Jerk” which teaches compassion.

OMG I Can Meditate! Logo“If you live in NY or LA, then meditation is widely accessible. But in most other places, it’s still primarily just the early adopters. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to meditate and make it less daunting and a little fun,” the 52-year-old explains. “The irony is that the very devices that have made us more frenetic can also be the means to finding peace and happiness.”

They are constantly updating and adding new content to the app. After the launch, they were the number-one app in India – an unexpected but pleasant surprise. And AppPicker.com called OMG I Can Mediate “best meditation app available in the app store.”

Looking back at how her life has changed, Goldberg is effusive “I feel blessed, truly grateful. I cannot believe how lucky I am. We wonder why tragedy happens. Sometimes the explanation takes 20 years to figure out. If I knew back then how everything would turn out, I would have been a lot happier. But at least now I have this sense of trust that when stuff happens, it’s meant to happen and it’s going to be OK. It takes the drama out of the day-to-day stuff.”

Test drive the meditation app.

Tips from Lynne Goldberg

  • Building a business process requires a great deal of perspective.
  • Do what you are passionate about. You’ll find success, if you truly love what you’re doing. But remember, you can define success in many ways. Happiness should be the baseline.
  • If you’re thinking of launching an app, keep these things in mind: Keep it simple; Be patient. It takes time to build a brand; Believe in it and let go of expectations; Breathe!

 

 

Erja Järvelä: From Nokia Logistics Wiz to Shamanic Energy Healer

rsz_erjahankoAs a child, Erja Järvelä wanted to be a doctor. The dream of healing people stayed with the Finn all the way through high school, but died a quick death during the college application process. Suddenly, finding herself driven by other people’s expectations rather than passion, she switched from medicine to law, “I was convinced I was making a practical decision. I never thought I would become a lawyer in the traditional sense, but I was sure it would provide a good foundation for whatever I wanted to do.”

She wasn’t wrong on that count. Along with a law degree from the University of Helsinki, Järvelä picked up an International MBA from the University of San Diego. On returning to Finland, she began working as a logistics coordinator for Nokia, the Finnish technology giant. “Logistics is a great way to learn the ABCs of a company. You get to see the bones and learn a lot about the business.”

Shipping to and dealing with China regularly, Järvelä gained notoriety in the firm and was internally headhunted to head up logistics there. Based in Beijing, she was responsible for mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. It was tough job, but offered lots of experience and leadership challenges.

After a two-year stint in Asia, Järvelä returned to Finland, where she established and ran various logistics organizations at Nokia for a further ten years. In 2007, Nokia Networks underwent a merger with Siemens and all Nokia employees had to reapply for their positions. Järvelä was asked to head up the trade compliance organization with direct reports all over the globe. She hesitated: “I was already 42 and had a strong feeling I would like to do something else with my life. I was pretty tired, but then this opportunity came and I just thought it would be stupid not to take it.”

She stayed for a further three stressful years before the company, feeling pressure from its not-so-successful merger, began offering voluntary exit packages. She jumped! “I was the first one there in the line … Hand in the air shouting ‘I will, I will!’ I had zero hesitation. I just knew if I didn’t leave then, I never would. I had no plans and no clue what I would do, I just knew I had to switch for my own sake.”

A lot of people criticized her decision. “I was alone with my daughter, Ronja, and many detractors said ‘How can you do it? You’re a single mom, thereHiihto is so much risk involved.’ But I decided to trust that things will turn out for the best,” she recalls.

She took one year off and put thoughts of her future aside. “I just wanted to do things I enjoy, unravel from the stress, and live simply.” She travelled with Ronja and joined the uniquely Finnish kapua community, which combines climbing and charity work for people who want to challenge themselves. And then, to the surprise of many, mother and daughter moved to Lapland, Finland’s northern-most region, for the winter … an adventure not for the faint-hearted. “While Ronja attended a small Lapp school, I immersed myself in nature, skied, and did snowshoe walking and climbing. When the temperatures were too low for even the bravest soul to venture outside, -30 °C (-22°F), I hunkered down with the local old ladies and learned how to knit and weave rugs. It was a great time for reflection.”

Upon returning to Helsinki, Järvelä was still unsure of the direction she should take. “I was asking the universe, ‘Please tell me what I should do?’” It wasn’t long before she got an answer.

During her stint in Lapland, the recovering corporate executive had been writing a blog about what it was like to be a member of society without a title or job. A blog follower contacted her with a suggestion that she check out a holistic well-being school in NY. As soon as she googled the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and read its mission of improving health and happiness, she knew she had found what she was looking for. “I had always been interested in helping people. At work, I thrived on supporting people in their jobs, pushing them to do better and guiding them through the organizational messes we experienced in the workplace. I signed up immediately.”

IIN proved extremely helpful. The one-year distance learning program on holistic well-being, offered Järvelä guidance on possible career directions and how to turn her passion for health, coaching and wellness into a job. After graduation, she was drawn to a local class on energy healing using ancient Peruvian spiritual and ceremonial traditions.

The shamanic energy medicine class was a revelation as Jarvelä explains, “I knew immediately I had found my home. I suddenly arrived somewhere I had been searching all my life. It was so familiar to me.” With no hesitation she enrolled in a one-year program where she learned how to understand and work with realms and dimensions of time and space other than what we in the West are traditionally taught.

Today Järvelä is a health coach and energy healer. Through her practice, Mixing Nuts, she works with clients who are “stuck” or carry a heavy burden. “When an individual can’t make progress, energy is trapped in the body. I help them release the tension and often work on erasing the unneeded blueprints they carry in their energetic bodies. Also, imagine, for example, a machine that is not functioning properly because some parts are missing. I help find those parts, what we in the ‘business’ refer to as lost soul parts, and bring them back to make the person feel whole again.”

ErjanauraaDoes she ever regret not finding her calling sooner? “Everything comes in the right time, I have no regrets. All my experiences were because I needed them, ” the Finn explains.

Not only does Järvelä help others recover their energy but she too is energized by her work, “I feel completely fulfilled, I enjoy it so much when I see how the process helps people. It’s transformational.” And after all those years of corporate stress, it looks like the energy healer has come full circle and finally become the “doctor” she always wanted to be.

Interested in shamanism? Read more on Erja’s blog mixingnuts.blogspot.fi  and, for our Finnish readers, erjanblogi.blogspot.fi. You can also sign up for a monthly newsletter in English http://mad.ly/signups/60167/join

Erja Järvelä’s tips:

  • Listen to yourself. It is so important to “quiet a bit down” so you can hear yourself. I wasn’t able to hear “me” when I was working. I was so busy that I heard neither myself nor anything else. Give time for being and not performing.
  • Don’t believe what you think, as the saying goes. We are taught to think and act in certain ways that often restrict us from being our true selves. Society, culture, family, history, norms … you name it. Be brave enough and question. Bringing stuff to your conscious level, is a key to rewriting your life script as you want it to be.

 

Discussion

Have you ever visited an energy healer to experience transformation and uncover insights in an effort to find your passion?

Jane DiGiacomo: From Hamptons’ Lawyer to Small-Town Hospice Director

Jane DiGiacomo’s life story could easily be a film. The credits roll as she crosses the western prairies in her 31-foot Airstream camper, new husband and young child in tow, seeking out the important things in life and leaving law and a lot of baggage behind. But DiGiacomo is not an actress. She’s the real deal: a confident, happy woman who fearlessly gave up what most people spent their whole lives working towards, financial success and prestige, to experience the smaller pleasures in life: “I’m not special, we all are remarkable, we just have to see it in ourselves.”

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Jane, Miles and the mega-cool Airstream

Always attracted to understanding life’s fundamental problems, DiGiacomo studied philosophy at Barnard and was aiming for a PhD. But she fell into law when her father thought this a ridiculous plan. “He said he would only pay for me to go to ‘professional’ school so I guess this planted the seed that I probably should find a career where I could support myself.”

Paying her own way in the end, she attended the University of Minnesota, transferring in her third year to Columbia Law. From there, DiGiacomo worked as a litigation associate for three years in Manhattan. But city life was not really her thing, so she moved to East Hampton, Long Island, where she joined a regional law firm. “I did more independent, directly rewarding work and started building my own client base.”

After two years, DiGiacomo had risen up the ranks and was on serious partnership track. And then came what she calls “The Big Pause”.

In the midst of a divorce, DiGiacomo found herself at a crossroads. She started meditating regularly with zen sangha – studying with Peter Matthiessen – something that became a very important part of her life.

Her zen practice led her to take a leave of absence to sort out her feelings. The move shocked her partner champions at the firm: “I made no promises, I told them I was going away to do a meditation retreat for at least three months, maybe more, and that maybe I wouldn’t come back … It was kind of a big deal,” she adds with a chuckle.

She easily rented her small East Hampton house over the summer and headed north to join the monks and nuns at Gampo Abbey, a Buddhist Monastery in Nova Scotia for four months. “I got a really good picture of what that life would be like should I go in that direction. But it didn’t matter what I did. My neurosis followed me. I was still going to have to deal with my need to be valued and achieve external confirmation. I knew I had to go back to life and face it, I couldn’t run away anymore.”

Picking up where she left off, DiGiacomo rejoined the firm “continuing in high-powered mode.” And then, when she was 33, she got pregnant from a short-term relationship just around the same time she made partner at the firm. In addition to work, she dove into school and community activities to build up her life in East Hampton.

But keeping busy at work and in the community was not enough. “Even though I was doing well financially, the fact that it was just a means to an end was becoming really evident to me … I considered starting my own firm but this wasn’t something I was ready to take on as single mom. So I started working out of our smaller office where I had the chance to focus on local clients and test the idea of going out on my own. It was going well, and then I met Miles.”

Her life turned upside down as she travelled out West to see her new steady. She fell in love, not only with him, but also the expansiveness of the western landscape. “I knew it was going to be difficult to stay where I was.” Soon after Jane met the love of her life, her mother developed terminal cancer, a life event that opened DiGiacomo’s eyes to the truth – life is too short, don’t compromise.  “When she died I knew I was done.”

She took some time off to extract herself from her life: “Mom’s death readjusted my perspective. Having Miles in my life freed me to consider other options as he’s a computer programmer and able to work anywhere.” The plan was set. At 39-years old, she quit her job, they sold their respective homes and bought an oh-so-cool Airstream to traverse the country looking for a home. “We pretty much took off. We literally did not know where we were going.” The idea was to spend time in a few towns where they thought they might like to live.

Ultimately, Nelson, British Colombia fit the bill perfectly.

“It was no small thing because we had to immigrate. I couldn’t work for the first four years and instead stayed home with Kell and our two new children, Ziji and Elka.” Once their immigration status was resolved, DiGiacomo looked into becoming a small town law practitioner but was overwhelmed by the commitment involved: several exams, followed by a badly paid 6-month apprenticeship, commuting every day, and leaving kids in day care. “Then I realized I didn’t have to do that. Being successful financially was not what I needed. It was liberating that I didn’t care anymore.”

Once she had accepted this fact, the next steps were easy. She decided to earn a living doing something she really enjoyed and cared about deeply. And so she started looking more closely at community services and not-for-profit work. She is currently the Executive Director of the Nelson and District Hospice Society, a community organization provides volunteer hospice services.  In that capacity, she also works closely with Kalein Hospice Society, which has an expansive mission including encouraging dialog about how we create care for the dying and how this influences how we live our own lives. DiGiacomo is drawn to the work because it centers around questions with which she has struggled her whole life “Why are we here? What are we doing with our lives day-to-day?”

For DiGiacomo part of the answer has been coming face-to-face with one’s own death. She does not mean this in a morbid way but rather living the reality of knowing how precious our lives are. Her advice? Don’t get lost in the dream of achieving something. Get out there and do it. That’s what will make it all worthwhile.

Jane DiGiacomo’s Tips for Success:

  • If you are a working mom feeling torn about where you are spending your time, but also feeling like you are not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom, just do it (if you can). Spend some time with your kids. It will change who you are. It may encourage you to make different decisions about your career and future.
  • Once you no longer prioritize money, power and prestige, it’s a relief. You realize what’s important and it’s not that stuff. It’s really not about THE STUFF.

Discussion

Are your possessions, salary and prestige holding you back from finding true happiness?

Lisa Eaves: Finding Zen

lisa eaves

Looking back at her younger self, Lisa Eaves realized she was a leader by example and pretty good at motivating others. Naturally athletic, she could relax, enjoy team sports, and play well. “Encouraging others, building their confidence and having fun helped everyone to play better. In sports, you learn about yourself, your role on a team, build mental skills, learn about strategies… the skills and experience I gained were a great foundation for any chosen profession.”

But Lisa was surprised when she fell into a career as an IT specialist. “Technology did not come naturally to me. I had to work hard to understand it, unlike technologists for whom the bits and bites made perfect sense.” After earning a BSc in business from the University of Maryland, Lisa secured her first job managing contracts for a consulting firm before moving to Fannie Mae where she spent the next 12 years. She moved up in the ranks, working long hours, which came with higher salaries but not more satisfaction. She liked working at Fannie Mae. The people were great. But she didn’t love going to work every day. It wasn’t fulfilling. It was a high-stress, demanding environment, and Lisa paid the price in terms of personal freedom and happiness. She toyed with the idea of acupuncture as a means to reduce her stress but never thought of it in terms of a career choice. She knew she needed to do something different but what? (more…)