Jojo's Official Blog
Last week, I found myself strolling through the old cobblestoned streets of Coventry, which turned out to be a very memorable stop on my short holiday in England. Old buildings and places immersed in history have a natural air of mystery about them. For one, they have stood the test of time and outlived any humans able to tell the tale of how life really was in centuries past. Therefore, we must rely on whatever evidence is left behind, from ancient carvings, paintings or fascinating stories that have been passed down over the generations.
Coventry had an incredible tale of its own, which really intrigued me. Like many stories, some get buried through the ages but the ones that live on become the stuff of legend and folklore. It is hard to pinpoint what is real and what is not because so much has been written about this particular story dating back so many centuries ago. I was thoroughly fascinated by the legend of Lady Godiva, which lives on till today.
Lady Godiva was an Anglo-Saxon gentlewoman and wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. He was one of the most powerful noblemen in 11th century England. Leofric was believed to be a tyrant who mercilessly imposed an oppressive tax called the Heregeld, on the people of Coventry (source: Historic UK).
Lady Godiva had pleaded with her husband to reduce these heavy taxes as the people could barely afford them. Apparently, he was exasperated by her persistent pleading and was reputed to have said, “You will have to ride naked through Coventry before I will change my ways” never expecting his wife to take up this challenge.
However, on Market Day, Lady Godiva, covered only by her long golden hair, rode naked across the town. In a 17th century version of the story, it claimed that she had sent messengers to request that the people of the town remain indoors.
So, Lady Godiva rode through silent streets, unseen by the people, who remained indoors out of great respect for her (source: BBC History). However, there was a man who did not adhere to her request. A tailor called Tom was said to have bored a hole out of his shutters so that he could witness Lady Godiva pass. This was how the old English saying “peeping Tom” was born, so many centuries ago.
In the end, after his wife’s incredible act, Lady Godiva’s husband kept his word and abolished the heavy taxes on the people (source: Wikipedia).
Suddenly I was filled with that nostalgic feeling as I made my way past the statue of Lady Godiva in the middle of the square, while blowing out puffs of smoke from the cold air as I read the inscription in stone by one of Britain’s most famous poets, Tennyson “Then she rode back clothed on with chastity. She took the taxes away and built herself an everlasting name.”
There are some sources that refute that this could ever have happened in this time period but almost all legends are the same way, aren’t they? Any person who becomes too famous in this world will always incite conspiracy theories on what was fact, and what was fiction. Nevertheless, even hardened cynics would at least agree that this was a woman who once lived with great compassion for her people as her charity works were well documented. This is why, almost a thousand years later people are still touched by the plight of Lady Godiva.
While admiring a gorgeous portrait of Lady Godiva in the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry, it occurred to me that so many people complain about the conditions surrounding themselves in life, which are within their reach to change but they just sit on the fence, or take no action. Of course I’m not suggesting we start riding around Kuala Lumpur without clothing to make a point but we should try to stand up for what we believe in, especially if it’s for the good of others around us. Taking a stance on something means you are not passive. You have an opinion as an individual and you are willing to exercise.
Just gazing at the portrait of Lady Godiva is a reminder of her unselfish motives and how it has impacted generations long after her death. Now, we don’t need to be national heroes but we should be thinking of issues that affect our every day lives from our education system, to human rights to the next election. What changes can you make for the greater good of the people around you, whether it’s in your home, your work or the community at large? And remember, the greatest change usually occurs from the smallest decisions and simplest of actions.
When was the last time you were at a party and you couldn’t for the life of you remember the name of the person chatting to you? It happens, right? And it’s sometimes very embarrassing. I saw a girl once who started making her way across the room when she spotted me. As she started reaching out, with a big smile on her face, I turned to look behind me, not realizing she was coming over just to greet me. It’s moments like these I wished the floor would swallow me up.
I used to be terrible with names and I thought it was just one of those things people had to live with, throughout my teenage years and early twenties. I could never remember where I parked my car either. My phone is now filled with shots of car park pillars, to combat this, which helps me remember exactly where my car is. As time went on, I realized this was not a condition I was afflicted with. I was simply not paying attention. And paying attention means really listening when information is exchanged.
I knew I needed to take this whole business of listening more seriously when my university lecturer expressed how the best entrepreneurs in the world might fail if they lacked the ability to listen. He then went on to explain the difference between hearing and actively listening. He said a person actively listening to a speech can be as tired as the person delivering it, because it takes effort to absorb and try to understand what someone is saying.
In an article from ‘Business Week’ which speaks about how great listeners make great leaders, a reporter who has interviewed CEOs and leaders round the world was asked who was the most inspiring person he has met. He told ‘Business Week’ it was Bill Clinton because, “Clinton looked me in the eye and seemed to have a genuine interest in what I was saying. His gaze never left me. He made me feel like the most important person in the room.”
When we meet people who really take the time to be present and focus on what we are saying, we feel heard. It is very telling when you are speaking to someone who keeps looking over your shoulder or somewhere else, that they are not fully present or paying attention to you. It is also annoying talking to someone who is already trying to work out what they are going to say next because this means they are only hearing what you are saying, rather than really listening to you. Eye contact is another sign of a great listener. It’s not just important over a handshake. It needs to be maintained throughout a conversation.
With conscious effort, I started to slowly improve with remembering names in the “social” department (though I’m far from perfect), but my most dramatic improvement in the listening arena has been in business. Without active listening skills, I would not be able to emcee events, adapt to last minute changes on the fly or deal with the diversity of demands from my various advertising clients on what they expect from me. For instance, when a client is briefing my production house on a particular “look and feel” for a campaign or TV show we are developing, it becomes so crucial to pay close attention to not only what the client is saying, but how they are saying it. Every nuance or clue from what someone is trying to communicate needs to be taken into consideration from their body language, to tone of voice. Servicing a client in a creative field is definitely not easy because art is so subjective, but like any good relationship, when both parties finally arrive on the same page, it’s a fantastic feeling to be in sync, and business runs much smoothly when everyone understands each other.
Listening skills also applies to managing the fast paced, ever changing world of social media. It is interesting to note that Jim Breyer, Managing Partner of Accel Partners, attributes Mark Zuckerberg’s listening skills as a major contributor in leading Facebook to its success. According to Forbes, Mark Zuckerberg used to take walks with Steve Jobs near his estate listening and absorbing everything the visionary had to say, like a sponge. Interestingly, the New York Times wrote that Mark Zuckerberg then started to take walks himself (like the late Jobs) with potential employees to get to know them better before making any hiring decisions.
Listening does not just teach you about the people you interact with but it helps you gain wisdom and knowledge about the world around us. As ever-bubbly actress, Drew Barrymore once said, “It’s only through listening that you learn, and I never want to stop learning.”
I HAVE always heard how different Japan is from the rest of the world but nothing prepared me for experiencing the culture and its people first-hand. Their customs and beliefs are steeped in tradition and they live in ways that are seemingly normal to them, but so uncommon to outsiders who are looking in. I spent two solid weeks shooting a travel series across Japan and I feel very fortunate to have had a peek into a culture so different from our own. There were countless things about Japan I found fascinating in more ways than one.
Some of my discoveries were quite awe-inspiring, and some were downright perplexing. I found them an intriguing race of people that were difficult to read at times. One needs to be aware that you could offend a Japanese person without realising. They may simply be too polite to point it out. When we were filming in Osaka, the Kyanite.tv crew from Malaysia were taken out for a meal and our host, Zizan Razak, and everyone at the table was exchanging jokes and in really good spirits.
One of our cameraman reached for a long piece of sashimi with his chopsticks but he was struggling with it so my producer helped him to jointly transport the piece of food on to his plate. The Japanese who were dining with us went utterly still for a heartbeat, before conversation continued as per normal. In those two seconds, if you were not looking at the shock registered on their faces, you might have missed it but my producer asked our guide about it later, wondering about what we did that was so wrong.
We were informed that there are many rules to observe when eating with chopsticks. It is taken very seriously in Japan. Unfortunately, we committed the biggest taboo at the dining table because food must never be shared or passed from chopstick to chopstick because this resembles a custom at Japanese funerals when cremated bones are ceremoniously transferred to the urn.
Courtesy of http://tx.english-ch.com
Our guide reassured us that we probably would be forgiven because we were foreigners. Having said that, foreigners who were wise enough to learn about how to be polite at table were a step ahead in doing business and making friends in Japan. Our film crew never meant to be offensive but what they did was a big no-no which should be avoided at all costs. We took a mental note of this for future meals with the locals.
Another basic thing I found really unique in Japan were their toilets. In my hotel room, the seat had a sensor to automatically open when you were approaching. Most toilet seats were also heated and played a flushing sound (like music) when a person was using the bathroom. I did not understand this. Our local guide said many women used to flush twice in the past, wasting a lot of water before this clever solution was implemented because they did not wish to be heard in the act. Hence, the automatic flushing music solved the problem because it covered up the sounds of a person going to the toilet! I also noticed the streets were also spotless. There was hardly a piece of litter anywhere. In fact, smokers do not even ash on the street so they all carry pocket ashtrays. An interesting thing happened when we were shooting the world’s tallest broadcast tower (the Tokyo Sky Tree). My guide accidentally left his iPhone on a public bench on the pavement.
Thousands of people must have gone past that bench by the time he discovered he had left his phone behind. We could not understand why he was trying to contact the public authorities to try and recover his phone. We assumed he would never get it back but our guide told us it was a high probability he would recover this phone. In fact, even lost wallets are often returned to their owners and as a token of appreciation, the person who recovers their wallet usually gives the person who found it 10% of its contents as a “thank you” gesture.
You can imagine how surprised we all were to discover that our guide did actually get his phone back, as predicted because someone had turned it over to the police! Not long after, our client left her iPhone in the bathroom of a major shopping mall and she also got it back. Japan really fascinated me in every way from the old to the new. We had an opportunity to film a popular girl group called Tokyo Girls Style. They were as cute and adorable as the Hello Kitty theme park we shot them in.
Then stepping back into time, there was a ninja we filmed, who was swift and soundless in his movements. He struck fear in our hearts with his knife-throwing precision. Another highlight for me was watching a real-life geisha perform, because her every graceful movement was an art form in itself. If you ever get the chance, you must go to Japan to experience their culture for yourself.
I’ve just launched my inaugural Guided Relaxation CD which is all about letting go stress and becoming more positive. Stress is something which affects us all but it’s always up to you how you respond to it. The power is in your hands whether to stay calm or lose your cool. No one can make you FEEL anything by right unless you LET them. I’ve always felt that inner strength and calm comes from being able to control your own mind, rather than let your mind or unruly thoughts control you. Obviously, it’s easier said than done. This is why I meditate. Simple breathing exercises anchor you in the present moment and can really calm you down. Meditation can also slow down your heart rate, just as relaxing music can.
In fact, hospitals round the world have started using music therapy to reduce pain and anxiety in patients. This is why I’ve recorded my voice over the sound of ocean waves, deeply relaxing music and forest sounds. The music alone is very calming. And the scripts I’ve written is designed to guide you through visualization exercises that can help you let go of whatever stress or negativity you’re carrying around. When you’re angry with someone, you’re actually suffering too because you’re carrying this burden around.
Letting go of things may feel like a weakness but it’s actually a strength because being the ‘bigger person’ or letting go of whatever resentment, tension or anger you have bottled up in your system may not be an easy thing to do. It takes strength to do it but it will free your mind and make you feel so much lighter. Choose to be positive! Make a conscious choice to let go of negativity so that you will become more positive, which is a better, more pleasant space to be in.
Here’s a few more samples from my Guided Relaxation CD called “Letting Go with Jojo Struys”
By the way, my CD is currently available in all Starbucks outlets nationwide as well as Macy home furnishing chain
When I was a speaker at the Star Health Fair last month, where I launched my inaugural Guided Audio Relaxation CD called “Letting Go”, I had time in between my workshops to explore the diverse plethora of participating health brands. I was literally spoilt for choice but I found myself wandering into the Samkkya Ayurveda booth, where people from all walks of life with concerns ranging from migraine, diabetes, obesity, back pain, skin issues, arthiritis or other ailments were streaming in with their different enquiries.
I have long been fascinated by Ayurveda, which is believed to be the oldest healing system in the world, dating back more than 5000 years. ‘Ayur’ means life and ‘Veda’ means ‘knowledge of’, so Ayurveda is often referred to as the ‘knowledge’ or ‘Science of Life’.
The World Health Organization recognises Ayurveda as a complete natural health care system. In accordance with the laws of nature, it helps to strengthen your body’s defenses in order to fight disease naturally so that you can live a longer, healthier, more balanced life.
The interesting thing about Ayurveda is that one size does not fit all. Food should be consumed relevant to your own elemental mind-body type called ‘dosha’. If you were diagnosed as having a dominant Pitta dosha, which is the fire element, you might have issues like high-blood pressure, balding, irritability and low tolerance in the hot sun. Says, Dr. Vats, the Ayurveda physician at the centre, “They would need to drink more water than the average person to cool their system down and too much spicy food can aggravate them. This is in stark contrast to the Vata dosha, which is air. They may have poor circulation, get cold easily, and suffer from bloatedness and digestion issues.”
I was interested in trying out an Ayurvedic detox program. Though I wasn’t trying to lose any weight, the idea of getting rid of toxins appealed to me because detox for the body, is like doing an engine overhaul for your car. No matter how well you think your system is running, at some point all our bad eating habits or indulgences catch up with us, slowing our bodies down and making us feel sluggish. I felt it was the right time for me to go through a detox. Incidentally, I met so many people in the last month who said they were meaning to lose weight, or hit the gym or stop drinking so much but they never got round to changing their lifestyle.
Everyone who continually complains about wanting to change some aspect of their life can only blame themselves, for inaction. The power is always in your own hands. Sometimes, it is as simple as just making a decision to change. And positive change can happen in an instant, once the mind is set on making that change. Beyond that, you just have to follow the neccessary steps and take swift action. It was really empowering just making the decision that I was going to really do this Ayurvedic detox, hard as it might be.
So there I was standing in front of Samkkya’s Ayurveda centre in Bangsar, two weeks later, absolutely determined to complete their 10-day detox program. I wanted to clear out all the toxins in my system and regain my eating equilibrium. The rules were straightforward but you have to be committed.
I was told not to work, if possible (but I broke this particular rule). You should not engage in any hard or physical activity (I promptly cancelled all my tennis games). I had to practice daily breathing exercises (This is a truly fantastic way to start the day.I have always shared various breathing techniques in my own de-stress workshops to relieve stress and calm the mind), and last but not least on the list was a whole host of things to AVOID during the detox.
I could not consume fried food, rice, pasta, meat, milk, cheese, coffee, tea, alcohol, soda, chocolates, desserts, sugar, salt and spice. Incredibly, I stuck to this and I have amazed myself by not being hungry because my body had enough nutrients to get by every day.
I’ve mostly consumed tonnes of various fruits, herbs and gotten creative in the kitchen making every conceivable clear vegetable soup. Even broccoli started to feel like a luxury since it was not actually solid.
Unfortunately for me, I had to go to Penang last weekend, of all places, in the middle of this. While my friends were enjoying Penang’s world famous street food, I was sitting there with my giant bowl of papaya sprinkled with organic walnuts and pumpkin seeds. But despite being surrounded by temptation, I managed to complete the program.
And I feel fantastic! My metabolic rate has gone right up. My skin looks clearer and I have more energy. I lost 2.2kg but it’s made a big difference because I have gotten rid of water retention and all my toxins!
If you’re curious about your ‘dosha’ or feeling brave enough to go for a detox yourself, you can contact Samkkya Ayurveda at +603 2287 2111 (www.samkkya.com.my) or go for a consultation with the knowledgeable Dr Vats (I’ve personally never met anyone who hasn’t eaten meat from the day he was born! And this caring Doctor also prays for the speedy recovery of all his patients! Yup! He’s a really good soul
(Source: KGS Berlin)
My first meeting with Amma, the ‘Hugging Saint’ (Published in The Star, Friday April 13th 2012)
I have never met a ‘Saint’ in real-life. I thought it was just a concept you read about in ancient books, until I was enfolded in the arms of what the world lovingly refers to as “Amma”, or the “Hugging Saint”. She has hugged more than 30 million people round the world, over the last four decades. Just last weekend in Penang, about 25,000 people showed up for a hug. That’s not the shocking part. It was the fact that she sat in the same position for 19 hours, hugging people non-stop from Saturday 7pm till Sunday, 2pm the next day. Medical doctors I’ve spoken to cannot explain how she can sit for so many hours at a stretch without even taking a toilet break.
Apart from trying to embrace the world, one hug at a time, I was astounded to discover that her foundation donated US$23 million to tsunami relief in South Asia, according to the BBC. She has also received, along with Nelson Mandela and Kofi Anan, the Gandhi-King award for non-violence (named after Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King).
I wondered what it would be like to receive a hug from Amma who’s eyes never seem to lose the light of compassion for people from all walks of life, regardless of race, religion or background. Last week, when I found out that she was going to be at The Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre in Singapore, I decided to seize the opportunity of meeting her, even if it was only for a few seconds.
While waiting for my hug, I met an ex-banker who was present on that well-documented day, many years ago to witness what happened when a leper tried to receive a hug from Amma. He recalls the details as if it were yesterday. He said the leper had a strong stench emanating from his bleeding wounds. Everyone was horrified and repelled at the sight of him. Some ran away in fear and others stared at him in disgust, but Amma received the leper with open arms, cradling him like a child.
She once said, “If you take 10 steps towards me, I am ready to take a hundred steps towards you.” She started kissing the wounds on his hands and then lovingly smeared ash over his body. When he left her, he was completely cured of his leprosy condition. That was almost 34 years ago and he still pays his respects to Amma, never forgetting what she had done for him. As for the banker, witnessing such an act of compassion changed his life. He quit his job and he is now right by Amma’s side, to this day as Swami Ramakrishnananda Puri.
Another one of Amma’s devotees of 20 years said an international reporter once asked Amma what she did in her free time. Amma could not quite answer the question because she does not have any free time. When people ask her if she needs to take a break to rest, Amma came up with this interesting analogy that a babysitter on a job may only come at certain times to look after someone’s children but a mother is a different story. She never has a day off.
(Source: National Geographic)
In fact, when she was done hugging everyone in Penang after 19 straight straight hours last weekend, people thought she would retire to her room to sleep but she decided to depart for Kuala Lumpur without delay because she said, “My KL children are already waiting.”
Well, the token number in my hand was almost up, five hours later. I was now mere seconds away from my meeting with Amma. I started getting a bit nervous. I really didn’t know what to expect. Suddenly, I was gathered up in her arms like a small child. I remember Amma stroking my back, as she prayed into my ear. In that moment, I completely forgot what I was thinking about. There was such a sense of peace to be with her. I felt accepted for who I was, and loved anyway. Just before I moved away, she reached out to kiss my hands and I was humbled by her affectionate gesture. She seemed to radiate with so much unconditional love, that it was hard not to be affected. I felt really blessed I met her.
(Source: Courtesy of M.A. Centre)
After speaking to a range of people from all walks of life, I realise that Amma’s hugs really do affect people in radically different ways. I met women who were trying to have a baby without success but fell pregnant after being embraced by the ‘Hugging Saint.’ Then there were those who felt nothing at all. Interestingly, our Star columnist T Selva felt nothing on his first hug with Amma but was so profoundly moved on his second hug, that he could barely stand to support his weight and consequently ended up writing a book about her, called ‘Journey with Amma’. Whether you feel nothing, or you feel a world of love in your heart when you meet her, I do recommend you get that hug!
I HAVE always wondered why people say, “Green with envy” Why green? When I think of green, I think of trees in the forest, not jealousy. As it turns out, in the seventh century B.C., the ancient Greek poet Sappho, used the word ‘green’ to describe the complexion of a stricken lover.
‘Green’ and ‘pale’ were alternate meanings of the same Greek word and the Greeks believed that jealousy was accompanied by an overproduction of bile, lending a pallid green cast to the victim.
At least I figured that one out because it was bugging me!
I find the significance and symbolism of colours fascinating because they convey a variety of messages in countless situations across cultures and countries. Colours are so entrenched in our lives (be it subliminally or blatantly), that they have become a part of our vocabulary.
For instance, if a business is “in the red”, it is losing money. If you suddenly got very angry, you start to “see red” but if you were celebrating something in high spirits, you might want to “paint the town red.”
If a project is finally going ahead, it usually means it’s been given the “green light”. If a family had a misunderstood or disgraced member amongst them, they would often refer to him/her as the “black sheep” of the family.
In the world of business, colours play a critical role because they become a part of a brand’s corporate identity. They also ensure companies, stand out from their competitors.
On an F1 track where the cars are whizzing by so fast, we would never be able to follow the progress of our favourite team if all the cars were the same colour. How would commentators be able to make sense of any race? Similarly, on a football field, everyone is obviously following the game by looking out for the colours of the teams they’re supporting.
The symbolism of colours permeates every aspect of our lives and their significance differs depending on the country.
In Russia, red is a historically prominent colour. According to the ‘World War Two Database’, the Bolsheviks used a red flag as their symbol when they overthrew the Tsar in 1917 which naturally led to red becoming the colour of communism.
In the West, red is associated with danger (stop signs), anger, love and passion but in China it’s an auspicious colour associated with good luck and prosperity (brides wear red) and cash received from married couples during Chinese New Year are always in red packets, called ang pow.
In Thailand, widows commonly wear purple as the colour for mourning but in Western cultures it usually represents royalty and luxury, even magic (purple is a recurring colour in the Harry Potter series). In the ancient healing system of chakras representing energy centres in the body, the ‘third-eye’ chakra is purple, which is associated with clairvoyance, imagination, intution and higher consciousness.
Though black is a symbol of death and mourning in the West, it is the opposite in China and India where people predominantly wear white at funerals. At a Chinese funeral, red is forbidden, as it is associated with prosperity and happiness.
In Japan, black is a prestigious colour of honour, age and experience. Hence, in the martial arts system, the black belt is the highest achievement one strives for.
Black has many negative connotations in the West from the trade of illegal goods on the “black market” to a “black mark” on someone undesirable to “blackmail” and the colour through the ages being associated with dark forces where good is always ‘white’ and evil is usually ‘black’.
However, in the business/urban world, black is a symbol of power and authority (black office chairs and business suits), elegance (women in black dresses) and formality (men in tuxedos).
The significance of colours, have been studied throughout history and despite meaning different things to different people culturally, they do seem to have an effect on us. What colours are you drawn to on a daily basis? Any favourites?
It has been said that the colours people choose to wear regularly have some bearing on their mood/state of mind. If you are curious about whether there’s any link to the colours you are attracted to with your personality, I’ve compiled the following list.
Each colour has positive and negative qualities so you can check and see if it holds any significance or accuracy to you.
RED: impulsive, centre of attention, ambitious, assertive, exciting, passionate, expressive, successful, irritable, aggressive, bad-tempered.
PINK: loving, affectionate, warm, childish, a need to feel loved and accepted (some prisons use pink tones to neutralise disorder and violence).
BROWN: down-to-earth, reliable, approachable, conventional, natural, structured.
PURPLE: intuitive, spiritual, artistic, imaginative, arrogant.
GREY: practical, self-sufficient, responsible, dependable, critical, lonely, cold.
BLUE: calming, relaxing (many baby rooms use blue for a soothing effect), sensitive, sad, can be depressed.
ORANGE: warm, energetic, enthusiastic, creative, restless, competitive.
GREEN: natural, fertile, abundant, balance, healing, growth, peaceful, inexperience, jealous, envious.
BLACK: powerful, creative, anonymous, sophisticated, individualistic, independent, mysterious, inflexible, authoritative.
YELLOW: happy, optimistic, stimulating, lively, can be overpowering.
WHITE: innocent, purity, cleanliness, simple, humble, divine, angelic, spiritual, withdrawn/can be a loner.
I used to admire people who were so ‘in love’ because it must be incredible for two people to come together with such a deep connection between them. Loving someone with all your heart is brave and it takes guts. Years ago, this concept was a little too scary for me to entertain.
It reminded me of the saying by author Michael Gardner, “Falling in love is like giving someone a gun and letting them point it at your heart and trusting they won’t pull the trigger.”
It wasn’t the last part of the saying that bothered me about “trust” despite the fact that trust is such a critical cornerstone of any solid relationship. I was well aware that trust was as fragile as bone China, which could be broken or shattered at any point.
It wasn’t the part about giving someone the gun that bothered me either because I figured if you got past the hurdle of trust, surely my partner wouldn’t intentionally try to ‘shoot’ my heart or break it.
It was actually the first part that bothered me the most. I was worried I would never fall in love to begin with. For a person who was always called a ‘commitment phobe’, I was oddly the first person to cry at my childhood friend’s wedding. I was so moved by his decision to tie the knot because we were so bitterly similar.
If there were clubs for people terrified of committing in their relationships, we would have become automatic members. His marriage was a sign that there was still hope for me. I felt proud watching him walk down the aisle because he was finally doing it!
He was someone who I never thought would settle down and so rapidly. When we were teenagers, I remember asking him if he believed in “love at first sight” and he used to laugh at such a fanciful notion.
Yet, years later, when I excitedly asked him how he knew the girl he was going to marry was “the one”, he said, “I just knew, Jojo. Within a month of dating her, I was absolutely sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. There was no fear at all. It just felt right.”
I was so inspired because you read of such things happening all the time of course but somehow, seeing someone that close to me falling head over heels in love made the ‘impossible’ seem ‘possible’.
Something must be said about how a person’s life can change in the blink of an eye once they fall in love. They may even become a little ‘crazy’ and take risks they would never usually take because there are no guarantees in love.
As Actress Joan Crawford once said, “Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell.” In order to really love someone, we have to be prepared to be ‘vulnerable’ and to drop all the masks we usually wear in life.
Everyone has different faces for different occassions but how many people see us for who we are, right down to the apple core of our souls?
On this fascinating journey of love, I realised some time back that love and fear don’t really mix. They are like oil and water. The irony is I finally fell in love when I lost the fear that I would never find it. There were other fears that wondrously and surprisingly melted away as well. I was able to completely be myself.
It is an incredible feeling to safely know that despite all your flaws and imperfections, that someone would wholeheartedly accept and love you anyway. I realise it is better to be open rather than closed to what some would describe as the strongest emotion on Earth. When we are too preoccupied trying to protect our hearts, we are missing out on the greatest adventure of our lives, no matter how exhilirating and challenging relationships might be. It’s worth it.
Love teaches us about ourselves because our partners are like mirrors, reflecting the best and worst in us. Love can disappoint us, hurt us, uplift us and make our heads spin in confusion but they are a vital reminder that we are alive. As Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, ‘It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’.
I would like to wish everyone a Happy Valentines Day but you don’t need to wait for a special day to celebrate love in your relationship. Every day there’s love in your life is a gift in itself!