First 30 Days Blog

01 sep

Exclusive Interview with Ariane on Life Changes

I was happy to be interviewed by a cool new site called www.24thletter.com. It’s an exclusive, members-only community, but I begged them and they let me share with all of you the interview I did. My good friend, Janera Soerel, asked me some very interesting questions about one of my favorite subjects — change and managing transitions in our lives.

Janera Soerel: Our chat today is with Ariane de Bonvoisin, a self-styled Chief Change Optimist, and founder of First30Days. Like most of us, Ariane’s life has been through many changes, but her strength has been to study the commonalities we experience when we go through major adjustments and to share her best practices with the chronically inflexible. Ariane, we are delighted to have you with us today, and look forward to your insights on how to best manage transitions.

Ariane de Bonvoisin: I am all yours, I love all questions about this topic.

JS: I’ll just jump right into the questions. You are the Guru of Change. Do you believe there is virtue to committing to a decision and ploughing through the difficulties? Or when is change the best option?

AdB: “Guru of Change,” you are funny! I am a big believer in being committed to a decision and at the same time being very open to changing my approach. So, the reason “why” I am making a decision is why to stay the course — why I want to start a business, why I want to lose weight, why I want to write a book.

The “how” is what is open to change along the way. I tell people to stay very much in touch with their intuition. How does something feel? I think life, the universe, God — whatever we want to call it — is always trying to give us guidance. The decisions that I’ve not pursued until the end often turned out to be ones that were more ego-based.

JS: That’s very interesting. Sometimes though it is difficult to hear that voice. Do you have any advice on how to access intuition?

AdB: Sure, intuition is something we all have — even children. Intuition speaks loudest through the body! Do you feel tired? Agitated? Does your stomach feel tight? The body knows what is best for us; it is wired for truth. We just think that our minds know best! So we disregard the signs our body is giving us all the time.

JS: You’re right, we need to live more in our bodies, and less in our heads. Getting back to life’s transitions: in your experience, what changes are the most difficult?

AdB: All changes are hard because they involve some element of the unknown. We want certainty, security, to feel safe. Underneath it all, the hardest changes are the ones that touch our identity, how we see ourselves in the world. For example, “I am married” to “I am divorced.” “I am employed” to “I am unemployed.” Anything we attach the words “I am” to is a bit dangerous as life loves shaking things up in that department! Basically, anything you attach your self esteem to that is external — for most people that’s their relationship and career — tends to hit the hardest. We need to find the part of us that doesn’t change, the detached observer of all these life changes and transitions. Then we feel we can handle anything. That’s more of a spiritual journey and something internal.

JS: What happens to people who don’t yet have that deeper internal understanding when they’re confronted with an unpredictable change that comes out of left field? How do you advise those people to manage the surprises?

AdB: People feel their whole life has fallen apart when they don’t realize they are so much more than this change. I think you can prepare by not being too attached to anything and having the awareness that change is the only constant in life. It is the law of life, as JFK said. Your work, health, relationship, money — everything will change. People will come and go. Awareness is always the beginning of change. Then I would take it a day at a time. Change is hard when we blend in the past, present, and future in regards to this change. Change has its own timeline, so we can’t speed it up and get out of the uncomfortable period. Also, resisting change is what causes the most change! Try to accept the change even though it may be painful. If you argue with reality, you lose!

JS: Your life has brought you many changes, and you’ve recently moved back to New York. You went on two global trips of discovery, the first when you quit Time/Warner, which culminated in you coming back to New York and founding First30Days, and the second in 2010 from which you’ve just returned. What inspired the second trip, and how do you see First30Days evolving now?

AdB: The second trip! Ha, I felt a longing to get into the unknown: no plans, no control and let life lead the way. A week before I left NYC, I had no idea still where I was going. I found a real intimacy with God during this time. Not having Ariane’s plans, but God’s plans for Ariane. (When I say God, I mean anything you are comfortable referring to!) I also wanted to find a different place to go write my next book, get closer to nature, observe human beings, connect to the simplicity of life, joy, love. I wanted to start living all the self-help and spiritual principles I’d been reading and writing about.

JS: That sounds blissful! How long were you away, and how close to your internal self did you get?

AdB: I was gone for nearly two years — from India, to Australia, South Africa, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mozambique. I did most of the traveling and exploring by myself and then later on with my boyfriend, although you are never really alone I think! The greatest relationship you have is with your Higher Self; you become your own best friend and you stop the disapproval and learn to appreciate things.

JS: Can you tell us a bit more about the new projects on your plate? It sounds like you’re mostly focused on creating content. Do you also coach people individually?

AdB: I love writing, so yes I am writing a lot! I’ve just finished an ebook: “What I wish someone had told me about writing a book.” I’m also launching a new site called arianestudio.com which will feature my blog, books, events and a spotlight on interesting things for people on a spiritual path and also fully living and working in the world. And I’m building an iPhone app called Mindful365, which helps people live consciously one day at a time. I do coach some people yes. I have done less of it since I’ve been traveling, but still love the 1:1 connection and seeing people really transform in areas that are important to them.

JS: It sounds like you’re back in the New York rat-race with all the activities on your plate. How do you manage to balance the spiritual practices with the external demands on your time?

AdB: NYC is the perfect place to trigger me, push my buttons. But I’ve got what I call some “non-negotiables”: things that nothing touches.

JS: Can you give us examples of the non-negotiables?

AdB: I meditate every morning no matter what, and sometimes before going to sleep as well. I also am very committed to staying healthy: green juices daily, not much sugar. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12, and I think what we eat and drink can massively contribute to lowering our stress in a place like NYC. And I remember that it’s never NYC or any place that’s stressing you out. It’s your mind and its stories and beliefs that are doing such a good job at that. So my other non-negotiable is always to be very self aware and observe my reactions.

JS: I love green juices!

AdB: Alone time is also super-important. And yes, green juices rock!

JS: In this new phase of your life, with all these new projects, what have been the biggest challenges?

AdB: Good question! Well, finding a place to live in NYC is never fun. But having solved that challenge, the other is not wanting to get back on a plane and go travel again! I feel this is the time to contribute, give back, share, help, plant seeds. I also feel friends and family sometimes don’t understand your choices, the way you want to live your life. I try to have compassion for them, and not let it throw me off or want to get their approval in some way. And of course, being patient! Being an entrepreneur and a creative type means self-generating your energy and motivation on a daily basis, often without seeing results for a long time. So it’s important to have faith.

JS: This process of balancing friends and family expectations, with staying on your entrepreneurial/spiritual purpose, is one many of us face. Do you believe there is a difference between how men and women balance these demands?

AdB: Men and women go through change a bit differently. Men are more focused on actions, women more on emotions. And in the end, women get through change better usually. All change is emotional. Women are a lot more likely to want to find a more spiritual way of living. Most men are actually very spiritual, but that word scares them; it’s as if it’s not masculine or something

JS: Yes, those men… They’re catching up with us

AdB: We love them!!!

JS: And now, to wrap it up. A more solemn question: life’s biggest transition is death. Knowing that this life will end, what do you recommend our members do on a daily basis when dealing with the small changes?

AdB: Well, knowing that time is passing, my recommendation is this: find work you love, something that lights you up, inspires you. Even if it’s something you do on the side, find a way to contribute, give back, serve your fellow human beings. Focus on your health, in small ways. Yes, get that daily green juice. Have meat and treats on the weekend only, whatever works for you. You get a chance every day to help your body out. Start reading a book, or take a class or something that has you explore your spiritual side, why you are here, what it’s all about. Focus on learning and growing, life is never stagnant if that is your goal. And be kind to yourself, allow yourself to be human. Self-disapproval doesn’t make life fun and is a major obstacle to taking a risk, learning, being creative, loving, becoming enlightened!

JS: So basically stay healthy, have quiet time, and make money doing what you love. Sounds like the perfect formula for a happy life. We have a lifetime to deepen our learning and balance these all out. Thank you Ariane for spending time with us. We loved having you here, and look forward to your new book, website, TV show, and more.

AdB: Thank YOU for being you and doing what you love — you are an example for us. Big hugs and everyone keep in touch please.

Posted by Ariane de Bonvoisin on September 1st, 2012 in Ariane, Global/Social Change, New Directions, Personal Stories | 0 comments

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