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  • Writer's pictureJeanette Miura

About 5 months ago an independent director contacted James after listening to his songs and music on a musician/band website. This director asked James if he would be willing to sing on a soundtrack for a film he was working on called The Match-Stick Flame 2, an action thriller. James readily agreed even though he wasn't sure of all the details. I was a little surprised that he agreed so quickly. If it had been me, I would have to think for a few days and really understand the process before agreeing to anything. I'm an overthinking planner, not a spontaneous jumper, and I love that James is my opposite in this regard.

Spontaneity and ability to handle change has always been an area where James and I differ. He embraces change. He loves change. He needs change. Me, not so much. I'm okish with change, but I need time to adapt and settle into new thought patterns before the change happens. Moving this past July was hard for me. James, on the other hand, was excited and ready for the move.

James didn't even know the director or musicians prior to recording and filming. He had no idea what they were like, but was confident that everything would be ok.

He trusted in his fellow humans and believed the shared experience would be positive.

The more I thought about this idea of saying "Yes" to new experiences, the more I came to realize that saying yes is a vital part of living your best life. We have to open ourselves for life to unfold. We have to be willing to lower our walls and step outside. We have to have the courage to go into the ring and participate in the battle instead of just sitting as idle spectators waiting for the show.

3 healthy reasons to say "YES" to new experiences:

1. The Adrenaline Rush of Trying Something New - An adrenaline rush is associated with fight or flight hormones that are released during stress, excitement, or dangerous situations. In the case of trying something new like James did by filming this music video, the excitement of performing made his heart beat faster and heightened the good vibes he was feeling. At that moment he felt alive and his body confirmed this with increased blood flow. In this case, the adrenaline released was essentially healthy and life affirming. This is the same reason we jump out of planes and watch scary movies.

2. Learning and Trying New Things Prevents Alzheimers - In many studies of dementia and Alzheimers, researchers have found that participating in new and different activities can cause new and increased brain activity. For example, experts recommend switching up which hand you use to brush your teeth to engage your brain. When we get stuck in repetitive motion and action, our physical bodies stop growing and our emotional responses become automated. We essentially become robots that don't have to think because movements and thoughts have become fixed. Having new experiences triggers our bran to be more alert, ready to process the new activity. This ultimately can create new pathways, ignite neurons that were previously dormant, and prevent disease.

3. Life is About Connection- Meeting New People is a Boost to Your Mental Health - We are hard wired to connect with people. Our first network starts with our mothers and immediate family structure, and as we age we add to this network with connections to friends, coworkers, mentors, etc. With mental health issues like depression, people can begin to feel alone and isolate themselves. Talking to people, having a support system is critical to staying healthy and disease free. In order to connect, sometimes you have to put yourself out there and new experiences can often times bring new friends. Don't be afraid to sign up for that baking class or try your hand at improv. It will take courage to get out there and meet new folks, but the rewards of meeting new individuals can be fruitful for a lifetime.

I admire James' ability to jump into experiences and embrace adventure. He is fearless and he has the courage to put himself out there. There's a lot of growth in this type of mindset and more importantly, he feels alive!

Watching this video and laughing with James as he recalled working with the musicians and film crew made me understand how much James got out of this experience. He met some really cool people and got to sing and act on a film soundtrack. And, he now has this super cool video to share!

Let yourself go by trying something new. Don't take life so seriously, remember to laugh as you try new things. Have fun when you can, while you can. Enjoy the moments and live well!

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  • Writer's pictureJeanette Miura

How can we not talk about Serena Williams? This amazing, 40-year-old mama returned to the US Open and killed it.

Reporter: Are you surprising yourself with your level at the moment?

Serena: (Laughs) I'm just Serena, you know,

Watching Serena play in the US Open was exciting, suspenseful, and completely inspirational. How can you not jump on the Serena bus after seeing this strong, courageous woman show up to play the #2 best player in the world.

Let's start with the fact that she came to this match as a 40 year-old that took a year off of tennis to refresh and recharge. And at the beginning of her interview she talks about evolving and that she's in no rush. She came to compete, to challenge herself. She said she had nothing to lose.

Unpacking what I observed while watching this match, this is what Serena taught me:

You are never too old to follow your passion

I have to start with this right here. You truly are never too old. Serena in past interviews has talked about tennis being her passion, and during her post game interview said, "This is what I do best." She didn't allow any agist propaganda to diminish her belief in herself and followed her passion.

Don't ever give up. Keep trying until the very end

This match was not a cake walk. If you didn't see the entire match, you missed the difficulties Serena met on the court. She lost the second set. It seemed that the odds were stacked against her. She stayed present and focused.She silenced negative thinking, and most importantly she decided not to give up. She came back swinging and eventually won the match.

Stay in the present and unattached to outcome

In her post game interviews, it is clear that Serena came to challenge herself and feel the rush of excitement tennis brings her. She simply came to play, not concerned about her winning or losing. She said, "I really had nothing to lose." After taking a break from tennis, the odds were stacked against her. Sport insiders expected her to fail, but she didn't care or listen to any of this noise. She had the courage to play and understood that the only way she could ever lose was by not trying at all.

Set challenges and take the necessary measures to work towards them

Let's be clear, Serena is freakin' amazing, but she didn't just get to the US Open passively. She worked hard, practiced hard, ate well, took care of her spirit. She set a goal and made a plan. She then followed that course and eventually arrived to the US Open. You'll never go anywhere without a destination in mind.

Be authentic and find joy in what you do

Serena, is well, just Serena. For me, this was the most inspiring aspect of this victory. Serena embraces and loves who she is. She showed up looking fabulous, dressed like no other, to play the game she loves. When we show up as our true ourselves, honoring what makes us feel alive inside, we will always be met with success.

Thank you so much Ms. Serena Williams for being such an inspiration to all women! Your win, is our win. We celebrate that you have taught us about inner strength, courage, and grace.

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Updated: Aug 29, 2022

Driving my kids to cross country practice this morning we listened to the radio. The DJ asked, “Who did you go to school with that did something really special?” He kept emphasizing the “something really special” part, and 100% of the callers talked about prominent actors they had gone to school with. “Something Really Special” was code for famous celebrity in most listeners' minds.

Photo by Guan Yoanda

Flashback to my conversation last night with my 16-year-old daughter Jaden. It was late Sunday night. I reminded Jaden that we would leave promptly at 6:30 am for practice on Monday and that if she were late, she would have to figure out how to get to school on her own because it wouldn’t be fair for Jaron, my youngest, to be late to practice because of her. Time management is Jaden’s Achilles heel. I also brought up a few other frustrations I had with her last week and I guess my tone given the time of night was frustrated. With the strength of character Jaden possesses, she looked me dead in the eye and said, “You only talk about all the bad stuff I do. What about all the good I do? Why don’t you ever talk about that? What’s the point if you only focus on the bad?”

I looked at her stunned and I wasn’t sure if I would handle her comment with grace and respect or if my ego would quickly lash out with some defensive garbage. Fortunately, I took the time to reflect before speaking, and she was right. This girl is an amazing, straight A student, a varsity cross-country and track athlete, a kind and loving soul that truly cares about people and shows up for others. And I don’t usually tell her how great she is. I don’t acknowledge all the things she does right in her day and usually focus and bring up the things she doesn’t do well and need work.

I was behaving like my mother and her mother, and most mothers and most people all over the world. We are quick to point out flaws and judge others and ourselves harshly when things don’t go right. We neglect to commend ourselves for all the things that do go right. If you look at your life, my guess is that most of you do way more “right” than “wrong” in your everyday lives. I bet that you probably got your kids dressed, fed, and to school today, and that you probably got yourself to work. You’ll probably come home after a full day, pick up groceries, run errands, pick up the kids, and head home to make dinner. You will probably ask your kids about their day at school, check homework, schedule their after-school activities and try to schedule family time for the weekend. You will do all this and not give yourself any credit for any of it. You will focus on the things that went “wrong” in your day and try and figure out how you can be a better version of you the next day because today’s you just wasn’t good enough.

And guess what, today’s you will never be good enough in your mind!

What does this have to do with the radio DJ’s morning question? I would like to propose the idea that we are all shamed by society, our parents, our families, and friends into defining success as this grandiose, unachievable (for most of us), measurement that involves all or some of the following: lots of money, fame, and celebrity. We value money and celebrity to the point that we neglect the real, true magnificence of our own beings. This is not a criticism of celebrities or the rich, but rather a commentary that I hope will urge you to see all of the amazing contributions you make to your family, your job, your community on a day-to-day basis.

Your actions are more worthy and valuable to those you love and care for than money and fame will ever be. You are the SOMETHING REALLY SPECIAL! You don’t need fame and fortune to be magical. Accept Who You Are Today. Love who you are today. Setting future goals is important but waiting to celebrate a future you that is not here yet is a self-defeating and personally abusive. Celebrate the amazing person you are right now, and verbalize appreciation and gratitude for your kids, husband, family, and friends. The something really special we all need to aim for is kindness, compassion, and love for ourselves and others.

Tonight, when you are finally in bed after a long day, think about how special you are. Give thanks for the person you are today, the person that showed up for the people they love even when it was hard.

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