Today I had the chance to talk to the lovely Jennifer Corcoran, of My Super Connector. Jennifer really is a super connector, and despite being a fellow introvert, has built an incredible network for herself – and helps others do the same.
This is a bit of a cop out Year of Fun adventure, because I have technically recorded an experience with meditation earlier in the year.
But, forgive me! This one was different enough to warrant another podcast, at least... I think so.
So this was a lunchtime meditation session, just one hour, and a measly £5 to enter. It was held in the gorgeous grounds of the Bodhisattva Kadampa Meditation Centre, here in Brighton.
This is somewhere I've been meaning to go for ages now, having visited the other two main meditation or Buddhist centres in Brighton. This is the one with the most impressive grounds; it sits tucked away in a beautiful green area, and the inside isn't too shabby either.
In fact, this is the one centre which goes to town with the kind of ornate statues and devotional touches that I've appreciated in East Asian temples.
I don't know much about Kadampa Buddhism, but after some googling I've found that it was founded by Kelsang Gyatso in England in 1991, and may or may not be a CULT.
That dodgyness aside, it has the aim to make the Buddhist principles more readily accessible to twenty-first century living.
Which was definitely emphasised in the session I went to.
To set the scene, I was welcomed at the door, pointed to the place I could cough up my fiver, and then guided into a large spacious room, with about 5 rows of comfy chairs - and very few meditation cushions on the floor. No one chose the cushions, which is the complete opposite of the central Buddhist centre in Brighton.
I was relieved, to say the least.
Our guide through our practise was the very lovely, Caroline Dove, who certainly made me feel comfortable and that the point of today's session was to bring a practical, real-world approach to meditation.
We started with a very short, 5 minute meditation, which was pleasant enough. I felt very physically relaxed, even if my mind wasn't. I actually started to fret quite intensely that my bag containing my laptop, phone and wallet next door would be nicked by some passing opportunist. Gotta love the mind.
Then Caroline talked a bit, then we listened to a song, I guess it was a prayer... Which was a bit weird. It felt like verses that were originally written in Pali were translated then sung in a kind of awkward English. Not sure about that.
But Caroline then went into a talk about wisdom and Karma - but in a way that wasn't inaccessible or overly spiritual. It was quite matter of fact: whether or not you believe in past lives, we can probably all agree that our actions, our words and even our thoughts have some degree of impact on our wellbeing and the lives of those around us.
So I liked that. Then we had another 10 minutes meditation, in which we were encouraged to see our mind as a clear blue sky... it felt a bit like the kind of guided meditation you get on Headspace. It was nice.
To wrap up, we had a PARTNER session. Yeah: my worst nightmare. Turning to the person to your right or left and SPEAKING to them. UGH. I thought I'd escaped that possibility coming to a meditation session. You don't expect to have to speak in these things.
But Caroline was good at encouraging us, reminding us that meditation ought to be integrated, and talking about your experience is one way to do that. I have to - reluctantly - agree.
I must say I lucked out, because the person to my right was delightful and I had a really nice little chat. So I certainly left feeling like it was a worthy use of an hour, and I might even go again next week.
Let's face it, meditation is never going to be a rollercoaster or a trip to a puppy dog, fireworks and candy store, BUT it is a bloody pleasant thing to do in the middle of the working week, and it's nice to be in the company of other likeminds... sometimes.
What is a multipassionate?
Let’s start with getting clear on what a multipassionate actually is.
Other words to describe this phenomenon: Multipotentialite, Polymath, Renaissance Man (or Woman or whatever you identify as), Scanner, or the more derogatory Jack of All Trades, Master of None.
Emilie Wapnik is my hero in this field, so I’m going to use her most excellent definition which applies to all of these terms:
"A multipotentialite is a person who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life.
Multipotentialites have no “one true calling” the way specialists do. Being a multipotentialite is our destiny. We have many paths and we pursue all of them, either sequentially or simultaneously (or both).”
I am a hardcore multipotentialite - or multipassionate - whatever you want to call it - I’ve always been into a LOT of things. As a kid, after I decided I wanted to be a Coca Cola Van Driver, a Ballerina, and an Archeologist (I loved dinosaurs and was heavily influenced by Jurassic Park) I finally settled on Artist. But even then, when I had my #1 passion, I was always dabbling in other interests.
Instead of having a collection of stamps or rocks, I had a collection of COLLECTIONS. Yep. This included plastic baggies - the kind you find buttons or drugs in - keyrings, stickers, erasers, used credit cards…
May be I was just into hoarding junk. But being INTO multiple things has followed me to this day. If you don’t know, I don’t just do the Creative Introvert. I’ve been designing websites since I graduated uni nearly a decade ago, I help clients with marketing strategy, I have another podcast (the Seeker and the Skeptic, in case you’re interested), I have an Etsy shop for my mandala art, I am learning to become a yoga teacher for crying out loud. Yeah. I have a few interests.
I always caveat this with the fact I have no children, hence the time thing.
But in any case, no matter what my number 1 focus is, I always have a few other things on the go - just to keep myself entertained.
It’s becoming more and more common. Us millennials are increasingly switching jobs - the median tenure for workers age 25 to 34 is 3.2 years. Laptop lifestyles are also becoming more common than they were 10 years ago - with more and more ways to make a living online than ever before.
If you consider yourself creative, it’s quite likely you also fit the bill of multipassionate too.
Are you a multipassionate?
* You’re always coming up with new ideas, whether it’s in the shower, taking a walk, drifting off to sleep
* You keep a notebook at hand at all times to capture the latest greatest idea
* You feel pretty low and mopey when you aren’t buzzing with new ideas - something must be off
* You feel like there’ll never be enough time to get round to all your ideas - which can be annoying
* You sometimes struggle to finish the ideas you start
* Or you struggle to get ideas off the ground because - whoosh! There comes another idea right around the corner
As you can see, there are some highs and some lows when it comes to being a multipassionate.
One of the lows you might have experienced is, Multipassionate Guilt. It’s the guilt that comes when we’re reminded by some book or podcast that tells us that ALL successful people must focus on ONE thing and ONE THING ONLY! That we must put 10,000 hours into our ONE THING in order to be acceptable humans.
Can’t we put one hour into 10,000 things and still live a good life??
Then there’s Multipassionate Shame. Juggling multiple careers or hobbies or ideas can lead you to feel like you still don’t have things figured out. It makes the classic networking question “So, what do you do?” a nightmare. If you’re a teacher but also a freelance copywriter who dabbles in social media consulting on nights and weekends, what do you do, really? How do you wrap up your complex personal brand into a 30-second elevator pitch?
Oh and Multipassionate insomnia. This comes from having 20 different projects on the go or floating around in your head can feel plain overwhelming. Try sleeping at night when you’re juggling that.
We can’t forget Multipassionate Despair. This is the frustration that comes with feeling the urge to burn everything you’ve built down to the ground, just to have a clean slate and start again… is quite stressful.
But the worst, in my experience, is… Multipassionate Boredom.
It’s feeling like whatever awesome - or previously awesome - stuff you had going on is now about as interesting as a pair of old socks.
It’s like gum that you’ve chewed all the flavour out of. We’re left waiting for that next idea to come to us, something - anything - to help us feel that spark of enthusiasm again.
Before we get too down on our multipassionate luck, I want to shine a light on the - many - advantages of being interested in so many things.
1. It makes for a pretty impressive resume. Having a mixture of subject matter on your resume gives you much more to talk about than your competitors applying for the same role. In an increasingly competitive job market, bringing diverse skills to the table is only a good thing.
2. You have a plan B… and C…
3. You’re more interesting. You know those people at a dinner party or networking event that have the most fascinating stories or seem to know a lot about a huge range of topics? Following your weird and wonderful interests only makes you a more interesting person to talk to. Plus, it means you can move beyond that bloody small talk much faster.
This week is a part 2 Year of Fun adventure, a follow up from the time I made a bowl at the Art & Pottery shop.
If that isn't exciting enough (!) I also make a little announcement... Tune in to find out!
Today I had the chance to talk to the lovely Alex Pearson, founder of one of the World’s Greatest Bookshops (as voted by Lonely Planet guides) and the Yurt Academy, here in Brighton.
You can leave a rating and review on iTunes (here’s how to do that) and I will be as happy as a kitten playing with a laser beam (or sob into my pillow, depending on what you write.)
Oh boy am I hesitant about sharing THIS one: the one in which I visit a medium.
As in, someone who channels spirits.
Especially after last week's yoga one, or any of my other more New Age adventures... because this really takes the biscuit.
And at the same time, I'm certainly not judging anyone who wholeheartedly buys into this stuff, because quite honestly: I don't KNOW. I don't know whether it's possible to channel spirits of the dead, or whether there even is such a thing as spirit or soul.
But boy do I love to explore the question.
I'll preface this with a bit of an explanation: myself and a good friend (hi Rebecca!) have started a new podcast adventure, called the Seeker and the Skeptic.
If you hadn't guessed already, I'm the seeker! Yep, I'm the one standing up for a lot (though not all) of the weird things we investigate, from mediums to astrology to pyramid healing. You should be able to find it in your podcast player, just search the Seeker and the Skeptic.
Anyway, this trip to our local Spiritualist church was part of that investigation, and the plan was to go for something called a 'Demonstration of Mediumship.'
Sounded pretty harmless. I'd seen mediums on TV before, and as a kid, found it captivating... but I rapidly became suspicious. Because, logically, if I was a ghost, why on earth would I be hanging around these people? If I wanted to communicate with someone I loved, I'd surely send the message in the form of something likeable, like a cat or a donkey, not in some creep charging lots of money for the message.
Anywho, we went along, and did not pay a lot of money - it was £3 entry which seemed fair. The church itself looks very unchurchy from the outside, and any listeners from Brighton would likely recognise it's wavey concrete facade.
Inside however, it looked much like a regular church, or at least the entrance before you step into the main room... I'm sure there's a proper word for that but I don't know it. Bad Catholic.
OK so we sat down in a small room, a bit like a chapel, with 30 or so others. I assume they all came believing in spiritualism, or at least mediumship. So we were on our best behaviour: at least I think we were.
The medium was introduced, a woman with a very friendly face, a roundness I associate with a kindly aunt. She began by saying how nervous she was, which made me warm to her further - I know how nerve-wracking it is to speak to a crowd of expectant faces, but can't imagine how intense it is when those faces are expecting you to channel their dead relatives. Yikes.
Anyway, she got to it. She usually started with something like a letter, 'I'm getting an M' or something more obscure, like 'shoes' - though she's often say where the idea came from, like she said she couldn't stop looking at someone's shoes.
The first was a dud - the young girl she spoke to seemed to know nothing about the grandmother that was being channeled. But the next one blew me away in the accuracy of detail.
Whatever was going on, whether the audience were being nice and polite by agreeing with the medium's suggestions, OR there really were some spirits communicating - I did love that the medium always ended with a nice, sweet message.
'Just keep doing what you're doing' or 'Be brave, you are loved' that kind of thing. It can't hurt to hear nice, comforting words like this, regardless of what the source is, right?
Anyway, I had a lovely time - though I'm not sure my skeptic friend was convinced.
Do I recommend going to visit a medium? Um... not if it means investing your life savings, but I do think it's worth seeing these people in the flesh and judging for yourself before you make an assumptions either way. This is why I love skepticism: it never assumes, only questions. A healthy attitude to have in these days.
I have a bit of a personal one today, that comes from a lesson I’ve struggled a lot with learning.
See, some of the stuff I share with you are lessons I’ve learned fairly easily, I see a better way of thinking or doing or being and I change my ways, without too much fuss.
Well, others I’m still learning. And each time I think I’ve got it - I get thrown back on my ass again, like someone telling me to get back in the ring, we’re not done!
Anyway, this lesson is more on that side. A bit of a slippery one, I tend to forget… until I realise I’m feeling all the feels. Exhausted. Frustrated. Resentful. Even mistreated.
But in any case, the only one who is ever mistreating me… is, ME!
OK so the lesson is: It’s OK to NOT do it.
It’s a bit of a weird one, because most of the advice or lessons or ponderings I share with you are actions to take or ways of doing things - but this one, this one is about NOT doing.
It’s about… identifying what you really don’t have to do. Moreover, it’s about dropping the GUILT that comes from not doing the thing.
Let’s get into some real examples.
Going out with friends.
A job from a client.
A collaboration with a fellow creative.
A new morning routine.
In any case, if you were to consult your rational, thinking mind, you’d probably rest on the side of doing the thing, going ahead with it despite your resistance because there are perfectly good reasons to. It will benefit you in the long run. Or it will make someone else happy. Or it will make you money.
All good things!
Unless, you’re soul is telling you otherwise.
OK, I won’t go too far down the esoteric rabbit hole here, but I will admit I believe in some part of us - and it may only be the unconscious mind, parts of our mind that we don’t have conscious awareness of, emotional centres and so on - but whatever you believe, I think most of us have a sense of something that feels, but doesn’t necessarily think. It’s THAT part of me I want to pay attention to more.
Why? Can’t I just overwrite my feelings with my more modern, progressive, thinking mind (the neocortex?) Well, no. Sorry. No matter how advanced you think you are, you’re still subject to the older part of your brain: and ignoring the signals it’s giving you is unlikely to end well.
It usually ends up in the therapists office.
But the good news is, is that this part of us - the soul or the unconscious - is giving us clues about what we should and shouldn’t do. It gives us clues about how we really feel about that group of friends, or what time we should wake up in the morning.
I’m using the word ’should’ here, even though I’m not a fan. The only time I like to use it is in this context: because in my experience, the only thing we should do is pay attention to what ’s best for us - and I know that might sound selfish, but the result of NOT doing what’s best for you is that you are going to be less helpful to those around you, in the long run.
OK so back to these clues we’re getting.
What kind of clues show up when you’re trying to force yourself to do something you don’t, deep down, want to do?
In mild cases, you might just feel a bit annoyed or less joyful than usual when you think about doing it. You might - unconsciously - procrastinate instead of doing it.
You might lose sleep over it. You might feel resentful to people involved. I turn into a moody little bitch.
In extreme, cases that extend over time, you might become chronically ill. Yeah. I’ve read some evidence to suggest that this is the kind of thing that leads to chronic illnesses, and while I’m definitely no expert, I do respect those who are doing research into this and the connections our mental wellbeing and physical wellbeing have.
OK so, before I start scaring you shitless - let’s go through the protocol I’ve been using to help you STOP doing the things you don’t really want to do.
So the first step in saying no to something is of course, to work out what that thing is. It’s also the part where you have to determine whether it’s truly something that you don’t want to do and isn’t in alignment with your most ‘true’ self - OR is it just plain old fear rearing it’s head.
I won’t pretend this is easy, and no one but you can know what’s best - so I’d steer clear of advice from others on this one, UNLESS you take all the advice you get with a very hefty grain of salt. All the advice you get is telling you about the advice GIVER - not about you, so you can see it’s usually irrelevant. However, if you want to gather advice from others - particularly those who have been in a similar position before or whose opinions have proved useful in the past - feel free to do so.
One thing that can be helpful is to ask someone for advice, then check your response to what they say. The resistance or relief you feel will be a dead giveaway.
And that’s how this step works: that’s how you identify what’s not working. You feel inside for what brings up resistance OR what brings up relief.
A question I like to ask myself is: how would I feel AFTER I do (or don’t do) this thing. If it’s relief, then I follow through. If it’s ickiness, then I do something else. Asking yourself how you’ll feel AFTER is often very different to how you’ll feel DURING the thing. If you’re only paying attention to how you feel DURING something, you’ll likely be steered by your fear, not by your true self.
For example, public speaking. 9/10 times during the speaking gig I feel like CRAP. Anxious, insecure, judged, sweaty - all of it. But after? I feel amazing. So 9/10 times, I know it’s right for me to speak, despite the fear I have before and during.
OK so take some time to identify the stuff that makes you feel ICKY.
Now you know what you don’t want to do, it might be you have to have some difficult conversations. It might be telling a client you can’t take on their crappy project.
It might be telling a friend you can’t go to their house party. It might be more serious than these things, but hopefully you get the drift.
In any case, I want to encourage you not to bottle out at this step! This is the one that might require face-to-face communication, and some seriously uncomfortable moments. But keep in mind: this too shall pass.
No matter how badly someone takes your news, please be aware that the good folk will stick around if they’re worth your time and energy. The people who aren’t good for you will fall away. But this only works IF you’re true to yourself. Speak your truth, take the fallout, and wait to see what (and who) sticks by you, regardless of your truth.
I’ve got a whole mini-course on boundaries in the Creative Introvert Academy, but to summarise: boundaries are basically mental agreements you have with yourself, and sometimes others, about the world around you. So, a boundary for me might be: I don’t work in-house for design agencies for less than a certain amount of cash or over a maximum amount of days.
You might have personal ones, like you don’t speak to your mum on the phone more than once a week because it takes over your life or makes you feel like shit otherwise. In some cases you’ll tell others, in some cases you won’t: be your own judge of that. The important thing is that you are aware of your own boundaries, and keep the deal with yourself going forward.
I learnt this one recently from Rob Bell, who has an awesome podcast.
He was talking about having a rhythm that for him is something like every 6 months of work, he needs a solid break, I can’t remember how long for but it’s substantial, a month or more.
And that just applies to work; a rhythm could also apply to socialising or exercise or other parts of your life.
For you, may be your party rhythm is once a week, or once a month - or if you’re me, once every blue moon.
This does take some tweaking, but once you start to spot your rhythm, knowing it is invaluable. I know I need social contact every 3 days because if I don’t, I turn into a genuine hermit: I find it difficult to form proper sentences, and my personal hygiene starts to suffer. Not good! but I also know that if I have social events back to back for more than 3 days, I become exhautsed and grouchy.
But when I figured that out, I made changes. I make sure to have some kind of social event planned even if it’s a yoga class or a coffee chat every 3 days or so.
Part of this process is making regular check ins with yourself, to figure out if you’re staying true to your needs, managing your energy and to remind yourself of what you’re learning. If you had a really exhausting week, reflect on that. What got in your way? What did you feel pressure to do? What can you change next week?
Your checkins don’t have to be daily, though I do journal every morning without fail, they could be weekly. And they don’t have to be in writing, you might prefer to talk to your cat or your partner or a friend about how you’re doing.
Or you could do this as a meditation: getting into your body and figuring out from there how you’re doing and what you might need more or less of.
This is a process - and often, a messy one. There might be some sleepless nights, difficult conversations, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, broken promises, and so on.
BUT. I promise you: this is worth it. Because - and yes I’m going to say it - YOU’RE worth it. You’re worth respecting! That means, YOU have to respect your needs.
That means: you might have to say NO, despite what others want you to do.
So. Just know it will pay off. You’ll feel so, so much better when you’re living from a place that feels true, authentic and leaves you feeling energised and empowered.
Ahhh trust me - it really does feel good.
OR you could ignore everything I’ve just said, because… I’t OK NOT TO DO IT, including what I’m saying!
This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting this project gets you lots of goodies, from a mention in my weekly Museletter, early access and previews of new products and access to monthly workshops usually reserved for members of the League of Creative Introverts only! Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.
Oh yes, I will not deny this one is a bit left field. I mean, how often have I mentioned yoga on this blog or podcast, ever?
When I told some friends that I was going to be taking a YTT 200 - or a yoga teacher training course that leaves me minimally qualified to teach yoga - well, it's fair to say they were quite surprised.
They were polite about it, but I was met with comments like 'wouldn't that be like me, someone who can't speak Japanese, deciding to spend a few weekends learning and then start teaching?'
Which, is understandable. I'm not the kind of yogi you see on Instagram standing on their head, with the sun setting in the background...
But I have actually been practising for about 6 years.
Yeah. It's been a fair old while, and even though I hadn't considered the possibility of being able to teach until earlier this year, yoga has been a big part of my life.
In fact, it was the thing that I attribute to sparking my self development journey, and the thing that pulled me through the darkest times back when I worked in London at an office.
Anyway, I'll save the full story of why I decided to take the training for another day, but let's just say I was inspired by my trip to Peru to spend more time helping people face to face, then from behind my laptop screen.
I also believe strongly in cultivating group environments that are 100% introvert friendly - because I know how valuable this has been in my own life, and how I feel in a group that is NOT introvert friendly.
One of my Leaguers (in the League of Creative Introverts) Kesse Hodge is flying the flag on making yoga super inclusive and accessible, so if you are interested in more of that, do check out change.yoga.
Ok so let's get to the training! A quick overview, this course is going to take up 3 full days each month till January, which isn't a big time investment, but for those weekends: it's pretty intense for this introvert!
I haven't spent a full 9-5 with a group of strangers in a closed setting since... working in that office in London, which I left back in 2013.
So yeah, I was nervous about how I'd fare, energy-wise.
I was also nervous about my yoga ability. Yeah, I've been practising for a while, but mostly... from Youtube. Not exactly the most disciplined practise, though I do owe so much to Yoga with Adriene.
Anyway, I got my big girl yoga pants on, and went with an open mind.
And I was pleasantly surprised.
First of all, everyone on the course is bloody lovely. Of course they are - they do yoga!
And the teachers, of which there are 3, are all amazing in their own way. One of them is like a big sister, one of them is like a mum, and one is like the cool aunty who was likely a hippy back in the day.
So yeah, good people, a good start.
Then there's the learning.
I roughly break this down to anatomy - of which there is a LOT - so I have a newfound respect for yoga teachers, at least ones trained in anatomy. Then there's philosophy, which I was honestly VERY skeptical about. I mean, as soon as I hear the word 'chakra' in a yoga class, I cringe.
But I will say our teacher made the subject super interesting, regardless of what you choose to believe. Then there's the practical stuff: how to teach each pose, and actually doing yoga, of course.
Which it's fair to say I'm struggling with, but the more I do it, the more I love it and - I'm already seeing improvements now I understand the underlying mechanics of each pose.
Ugh! You guys: this is SO fascinating for me.
I've also been pleasantly surprised with how much of a loud mouth in class I am. I think part of this is coming from my own sympathies with the teacher. I know how it feels to ask a question in a workshop and get NO response, so I'm quick to raise my hand if no one else is to ease that pain.
I also think this has a lot to do with how comfortable I feel with the other people in the group, nothing like school where I did NOT feel comfortable. And then there's my overall passion for the subject: again, nothing like most classes in school.
Of course, I'm still thinking about my energy. I was wiped out after the first day, and could do very little when I got home. But I'm not feeling cranky-drained, so that's good. I'm making sure to get off on my own during the lunch break, which seems to restore my energy somewhat.
And I discovered a homemade Bounty bar that the cafe nearby makes, which is definitely helping with my energy ;)
There's only been one faux-pas so far: that was our first trial of teaching a class. Actually, we only had to teach a sun salutation A, which is like 2-3 minutes long. but I of course had to have notes, and insisted on reading them, quite blatantly. Teacher told me off, kindly, but enough to make me feel a bit shit.
I know I need to get over my fear of 'winging it'; I know I can teach without notes, I know I could do this podcast without notes but... still, my notes are a crutch and one I have promised myself I WILL work on.
We're all work in progress, and if I'm honest, I don't mind that. I like having something to work on, something to improve at, something to learn.
I guess that's why I'm having so much fun on this course.
So my fun rating is:
I'm hardly going to recommend all of you to go out and take a YTT course, but if you are into yoga already, may be consider going to a workshop or a longer class, local to you. It's amazing how learning more about the practise can really boost your enthusiasm for it.
In this week’s episode of the Creative Introvert podcast I talk to Cat Byrne of Gatto Web, someone who I have a lot in common with - and not just the name.