A FOUNDER’S STORY — One Golden Thread

a golden road home

“Self-love is selfish, narcissistic and egoic.”

As a lifelong people pleaser, the above rant was my dismissive narrative for the first 89% of my 52 years. I was a giver of love, not a taker. Prior to June 2012 when I would hear one speak of self-love, I would tune out and my eyes would roll, derisively judging as woo woo land.

Only problem was, I was crap at receiving love. I pushed love away from family, friends and loves for as long as I can remember. The closer one would draw toward me, often the more suffocated I felt, as I hadn’t yet experienced love inside myself. It was all an “outside-in” stimulation. So when I wasn’t giving love in order to “feel” love, I had a gnawing sense of aloneliness even in a sea of people who loved me.

I taught myself to play big for others, while small for myself. I became a successful business evangelist for other’s creations, while never being the creator myself.

My identity was wrapped up in yours, to the exclusion of myself.

I developed a deep listening superpower of empathy beginning as an eight year old to see right to the best of you. I was deeply resonant and compassionate for everyone’s journey — except my own.

I see right to you — then (age 8) and now

This empathy for you was purely selfish on my part; by asking probing rabbit hole questions, we went deep into you, and I needed to reveal nothing of myself. Prior to 2012, if you asked me a question about myself, I would have flipped it back to you so deftly you wouldn’t have even remembered you asked me a question.

I was a master flipper.

I was also a master of being liked — long before “likes” were a thing.

While I had great friends growing up, my truest best friend was my basketball. The sound of the bounce was a gift to drown out the incessant chatter of my mind. And the sound of the swish through the hoop — pure nirvana.

I longed to belong, relished teams as a youth, and community / tribes as an adult. I volunteered for “change the world causes,” just to divert focus of any semblance of spotlight on my self. Happy on the outside, my intermittent gnawing feelings of aloneliness only intensified.

Into my 40’s, I developed a troubling pattern of sickness, thrice hospitalized with walking pneumonia. My posture was slumped, and I appeared 10 years beyond my age.

Something had to give. A friend suggested in 2012 I see a Chinese Medicine Doctor. His name was Chris Vieja. As I sat in his Marin County office, his fingers danced around my wrist reading my pulse. I waited for him to tell me which blue pill to take to make everything better.

“What’s the prognosis?”, I casually asked.

His look turned serious. “Do you want me to give it to you straight?”

I gulped, “Yes.”

“The way you are going, you are not long for the planet.”

Awake up call.

A scrawl on the 2010 Burning Man Temple wall lit my pilot light to begin learning about love, embracing my imperfections, and to explore past pain as fertile ground for growth. Every day, I am figuring out what this means.

As one who knew he wasted time with time, I now knew mine was borrowed. A level of focus I hadn’t imagined produced a personal pivot point six months later.

In a June 2012 Esalen experience, I “claimed my voice” in a transformational workshop led by a magical teacher, Meredith Haberfeld. My life-long narrative that “love of self was selfish, narcissistic and egoic” was exposed to me as a lie in disguise. In what became my first of many permissions to pivot, I reframed my whole narrative around pain as the doorway to my treasures, past suffering as fertile ground for growth versus a place to hide,

Walking off the sacred grounds of Esalen, I unleashed myself into a no turning back jetstream of transformation and personal discovery.

My script flipped, five simple words scrawled on the Burning Man temple wall in 2010 that I didn’t understand at the time, yet intrigued enough to snap the photo, began to make some sense: Love thyself, embrace your shadow.”

I could use all of it. Hiding from none of it.

All of a sudden, the muscle I flexed my entire life of deep listening as a deflection (to hide from my self) was now available as a reflection (to discover my self).

Once I was open to being open, teachers, so many of them incidental, begin presenting themselves everywhere to invite me to see deeper into my own truth:

  • A NYC subway boy hero who showed me what it means to be a man who takes a stand with emboldened courage.
  • A naked silver-bearded 73 year old jedi in the Esalen Big Sur soaking tubs whose 33 words altered the course of my life by giving me the courage and clarity to have the two hardest conversations of my life — ending both a love relationship and a business relationship not serving my higher self.
  • A South African stranger who also in 33 words — no coincidence — shocked my system to break through a fear-limiting block and dive into my life’s purpose with equal parts intention and abandon.

(Both sets of the 33 words will be revealed in drops of gold, the microdosed book digitally being gifted to you. Click here, and scroll to enter your email to receive).

And so it went.

The downloads were fierce and frequent. I took notes. Lots of them. In my phone. On notepads. On scraps of paper. Picture the dude from the movie Momento — knowledge overload.

I’ve come to embrace this truism: “Knowledge is what we intellectualize and hoarde, wisdom is what we’ve actually experienced and share to inspire others.” Knowledge is ego, wisdom is just love.

I was a hoarder of knowledge. It was time to share love — starting with myself.

As I sat staring into the colorful hills of Vermont that crisp Fall day in 2014 taking a moment alone from my PYNK community, my pen unleashed a flowing consciousness of the most potent life lessons collected from my encounters. While I’d never written poetry before, it did have a floetry to it, so I thought I would remember it more over time. I wrote atop the page — life 2.0 Humanifesto.

https://youtu.be/B2V0qDVc9e8

Feeling far too personal and vulnerable to share, I kept to myself for the next year, reading from time to time when my rubber band snapped back to past patterns which I knew then no longer served.

A year later in late November 2015, two crucible moments revealed that what was authored in 2014 was not just about me, it was about we. While our paths may be wildly different, we share a similar human experience.

And yet…

All these things just steeled me for the most gut-wrenching, heart opening, twisted gift — my mother’s Alzheimer’s journey which advanced in 2016. It ripped me open, forced me to shed and be raw AF, and taught me everything about the realness of practicing presence, perspective, allowance and patience.

I finally saw us clearly: Each of us is a prideful ever expanding puzzle ourselves; at the same time, we are each just one insignificant puzzle piece of a larger evolving puzzle. Each of us is, already, golden, and together we are connected by a singular golden thread.

IT WAS THIS ETHOS THAT IGNITED MY FORAY AS A CREATOR FOR THE FIRST TIME, MY LIFE PASSION PURPOSE PROJECT — ONE GOLDEN THREAD.

WHAT HAS BEEN UNEARTHED SINCE JULY 2016 THROUGH THOUSANDS OF ENCOUNTERS FROM A GOLDEN THREAD TYING ODYSSEY IN 13 COUNTRIES HAS BEEN BOTH SIMPLE AND PROFOUND: MAN IS KIND, WE ARE GOLDEN, AND WE CAN REMIND EACH OTHER TO UPLIFT OUR SENSE OF HUMANITY.

WE’VE GOT THIS.

It’s an honor and a gift to be on this journey with you. The fact that we get to do it all together is a shared joy…

Goldenly,

Jeff

ps. you will notice that all stories will finish “…” As our human story is still be written, we invite you to pick up the thread and share your wisdom. Which more deeply informs my own. Again and again…

Visualizing an “everything is possible” bridge between all disparate cultures; in this case, quite literally — standing on the border of Israel and Syria — on the Schusterman Reality Storytellers Trip in 2016. Photo cred: Tara Magalski.