Corporate Attorney Turned Kundalini Yoga Teacher and Optimization Coach, Kara Nicole Bitar (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 17)

From “Why am I so unhappy?” to “How good can I feel?” – the journey of Kara Nicole Bitar

Kara Nicole Bitar’s mission, from a young age, was to become a lawyer.

She graduated from Duke University School of Law and was quickly recruited by a large and prestigious firm, where she embarked on a career practicing high-stakes corporate litigation.

By every external measure, Kara was a roaring success.

She could not ignore the fact, however, that on the inside she was deeply and profoundly unhappy.

In my interview with her for The Person You Want to Be, Kara shares vulnerably and candidly how she battled longstanding feelings of unworthiness and “not enough”ness and how no amount of outward success could ever put those feelings to rest.

We discuss the ways in which harmful and pervasive cultural messaging contributes to this phenomenon.

And Kara details for us how, after much searching, she was eventually able to restore her health from a number of chronic medical problems and experience what she terms “a wildly different experience” of herself and of life.

You can listen to my conversation with Kara here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy this program, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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Health and Wellness Expert, and Author of “You Are Deathless”, Nicole Angelique Kerr (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 16)

Says Nicole Angelique Kerr: “You are life itself. Nothing can ever break or harm the real you.”

As a 19-year-old cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Nicole Angelique Kerr was in a horrific car crash that she survived against all odds – though not without profound bodily injuries and traumas.

In her recently published memoir, You Are Deathless: A Near-Death Experience Taught Me How to Fully Live and Not Fear Death, she writes in hindsight about this experience:

“…the accident broke me free from the bonds of a small life. Before it happened, I had received so much praise for being a people pleaser. No other scenario I can come up with, unless fairly life-altering like the crash had been, could have broken me loose from that pattern. No, it didn’t break me loose magically, the day I flew from the car. But it put me on the road to freeing myself. Dealing with the aftermath of that fateful day forced me to actively pursue growth and healing in my life, again and again. As a good Kerr girl, I never would have done this. Even with its many challenges, this car accident has brought so many gifts from my soul.”

In my interview with Nicole for The Person You Want to Be, we cover topics ranging from people pleasing to spiritual trauma and even the purpose of human existence. 😊

You can listen to our conversation here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy this program, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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Composer/Lyricist, and Co-Author of “The Myth of Normal”, Daniel Maté (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 15)

A wearer of many hats (including this one!), Daniel Maté

Daniel Maté is a composer, lyricist, and playwright for musical theatre based in New York City.

He is also the eldest son of Dr. Gabor Maté, with whom he co-wrote the recently published New York Times bestseller The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture.

In my interview with him for The Person You Want to Be, Daniel speaks candidly about growing up in what he calls “an extraordinary home” with “two extraordinary people” for parents, and how family dynamics impacted his sense of self.  

A talented, sensitive, precociously intelligent child, he nevertheless struggled to individuate and find a path that felt authentically his own.

He describes his journey of figuring out where his interests intersected, and where he needed to go to give them, and his abilities, a fighting chance.

He also shares how it was that he came to collaborate with his world-renowned father on a succession of projects, including an ongoing one that helps adult children and their parents establish deeper and more authentic connections with each other.

You can listen to my interview with Daniel Maté here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy this program, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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Author, Teacher, and Spiritual Seeker, Mark Matousek (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 14)

Mark Matousek

When I asked Mark Matousek about his earliest memory of who or what it was he wanted to be, his reply was: “I wanted to be somebody who wasn’t unhappy.”

Mark’s childhood was filled with trauma, grief, and loss. This propelled him from an early age to search for answers and solace within and initiated a writing practice that would, in time, lead to a career as a writer.

He achieved many of the trappings of “success” in his twenties, and yet was still profoundly unhappy. To make matters worse, he experienced still more trauma, grief, and loss at this stage of his life.

A serendipitously well-timed meeting with an Oxford professor changed his life trajectory, sending Mark on both a geographical and spiritual journey that led to a reevaluation of everything he thought he knew and, ultimately, to healing.

You can listen to my interview with him on my podcast The Person You Want to Be here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy this program, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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11x Ironman Finisher, Creator of “Ironstruck” & Author of 7 Inspirational Books, Ray Fauteux (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 13)

Ray Fauteux crossing the finish line of the 1984 Hawaii Ironman in Kona, a man transformed!

“Everything that happened to me happened by mistake.” This is how Ray Fauteux described the events of his early life and upbringing in my interview with him for The Person You Want to Be.

Ray was on a path to nowhere when, by happenstance, a television broadcast of the men’s marathon race at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal forever changed the course of his life.

Ray’s decision at that moment to run a marathon himself, despite a lifestyle up to that point geared toward self-destruction, was the beginning of a personal metamorphosis that led to a 30-year-plus career in endurance racing that would see him completing over 30 marathons, 2 fifty-mile running races, countless 10km races, and 11 Ironman Triathlons.

When he was no longer able to continue with his endurance training and racing, Ray transformed himself once again into someone who has inspired people all over the world through his Ironstruck website and hugely inspirational books to “become more than you ever thought possible.”

You can listen to our conversation here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy this program, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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50 Observations From 50 Trips Around The Sun

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock

In celebration of my reaching the milestone of quinquagenarian today, here are fifty things I’ve noticed on this wild and wacky ride we call life.

Disclaimer: These are simply my observations. I may be wrong about any number of them (except for the examples cited in #12).

Enjoy!

***

1. Life is unpredictable. No one’s life turns out just as they expected it would. To me, this suggests that humility is pretty much always called for and compassion a sign of wisdom.

2. What we know and understand about life and the world is dwarfed by that which we do not. We rarely, if ever, know the *whole* story behind something. To me, this suggests that humility is pretty much always called for and compassion a sign of wisdom.

3. Embracing contradiction is an important part of living well and achieving internal peace. Examples: valuing both self-discipline and flexibility; effort and acceptance; planning and spontaneity; solitude and company; the individual and society; exertion and rest; and so on.

4. A long walk, especially out in nature, is one of the best things for mind, body, and soul.

5. Gratitude is an orientation that can make all the difference in how you feel about your life, regardless of your circumstances. It is about feeling blessed for your good fortune, whatever that happens to look like, or however you perceive it, in any given situation.

I got a profound lesson in this one day while volunteering at a hospital. I visited a patient who had been through hell and back numerous times. I don’t even recall the specifics of his condition or the ordeals he had endured, other than they sounded horrific to me. What I do remember is him telling me, with as much sincerity as I’ve ever heard from anyone: “I’m so lucky. I have the best doctors and am getting such great care. I’m so lucky.” It floored me.

6. Every decision involves trade-offs. Some will be known to us in advance, others will not (see #1). The best decisions are made with a decent understanding of what we are risking and what we stand to gain and determining that even if things do not turn out as we hope, the decision will still have been one worth making.

7. As humans (presuming a certain baseline of health and functionality), we get to explore ourselves and our own potential, as well as the world around us. People who harbor curiosity and an interest in learning new things are at a clear advantage.

8. Few things are as liberating as letting go of an attachment to a particular result.

9. Few things are as helpful as being kind and compassionate towards yourself.

10. Nothing lasts forever. To me, this means that no matter how painful or unpleasant something is, realizing that it is temporary can be immensely reassuring (“This, too, shall pass…”). It also emphasizes to me the importance of savoring and appreciating those things – and people – we love.

11. It is all too easy to judge others, to make assumptions, to absorb the messages we are bombarded with by our environments, and to take things personally. Therefore, it requires effort, vigilance, and consciousness to refrain from doing these things. (Thank you to the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.)

12. The best metric I have come up with for measuring the greatness of musical works is that truly great music never loses its power and magic even after countless repeated listens. I submit as prime examples: much of the music of Beethoven, and of The Beatles.

13. “We’re all a bunch of complicated weirdos.” My wife gets the credit for this one. She managed to sum up the nature of our species in just two words. ❤️

14. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

15. Anyone can criticize; what takes effort is putting yourself out there. By doing or creating something yourself you gain a much deeper appreciation for what goes into it.

16. Wow, is it difficult to be present. To not be lost in thought about things other than our immediate, direct experience. However, being present is the only way to not miss out on huge swaths of our actual lives.

17. One of the keys to performing well in a variety of scenarios is being, or becoming, relaxed.

18. Smartphones and related technologies are incredibly addictive and hugely distracting. We must be mindful in setting boundaries with our devices if we are not to have our attention constantly hijacked by them. Good luck to us all…

19. The fewer conditions you impose, consciously or otherwise, before allowing happiness and contentment into your life, the more likely you are to experience these things.

20. We all have things that we say we value. However, what we *actually* value is revealed by our behavior: i.e., the decisions we make and the things we devote our time, energy, attention, and money to.

21. It seems to me that no two people on earth are quite as capable of disappointing one another as a parent and a child (this goes in both directions). Such is the emotional charge of this unique human relationship.

22. One of the defining characteristics of our species: we have no idea what we’re doing. (This should be obvious!)

23. One of the most defining characteristics of life is mystery, death being perhaps the greatest mystery of all.

24. It’s a great feeling when your past self has paid it forward to your present self. Example: waking up to a space you spent the previous day cleaning up.

25. Aging creeps up on you. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, you realize you have memories (or articles of clothing!) older than many of the people around you who are driving automobiles, flying airplanes, or even performing complex surgeries.

26. As you get older, medical problems you previously never even realized were “a thing” start becoming a thing.

27. People often have a strong bias (be it positive or negative) towards where they grew up.

28. It’s a miracle any of us is here, given the odds. And, given the technology we have had at our disposal since the last century to wipe out humanity or a substantial portion thereof, it’s a miracle we’re still here at all.

29. We can’t handle the truth. (Thank you, Jack Nicholson.)

30. The value of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated.

31. Knowing thyself is a lifelong undertaking.

32. We are creatures of habit, whether those habits are acquired consciously or not. Therefore, it behooves us to a) become aware of our habits as they currently stand, b) determine which of those we wish to rid ourselves of and work towards doing so, and c) determine those habits we would like to adopt or strengthen, and actively cultivate them. Habits are going to dictate lots of our behavior (and, therefore, results) no matter what; we might as well have some say about them.

33. The more we engage in any activity, the more we strengthen the neural pathways that support our doing it again.

34. It can be surprisingly easy to drop a good habit you’ve been consistent with for a while (for instance, when life circumstances derail you from your usual routine). We must “renew our vows” regularly when it comes to those habits we wish to maintain.

35. Minimizing regret seems about as admirable a goal for one’s life as any. (And, since most people’s deathbed regrets are ones of omission rather than commission, it begs the question: what do you want to make sure you do while you still can?)

36. The paths to self-acceptance and self-love might be difficult ones, but they are worth every step.

37. One of the keys to enjoying life is having “favorite things” and regularly making time for them.

38. Sometimes we can’t make any sense of experiences we have, or see the ways in which they may have benefited us, until we look back on them and interpret them in a new way.

39. Life really is about the journey, not the destination. Most of life is process. We all have the same destination.

40. It is interesting to observe how the way we feel about ourselves can change depending on whose company we happen to be in.

41. If you talk on the phone with someone you haven’t seen or spoken with in 20 years or more, they still sound exactly like the person you knew way back when.

42. When I was a kid, I was confounded by my parents’ deep desire for “peace and quiet.” I totally get it now.

43. Think about all of the food you have consumed during the course of your lifetime, and how big a space it would take to contain all of it, uneaten. You can’t imagine it, can you? What about all the human waste you alone have excreted?? Now, multiply that by around 8 billion. 🤯

44. Laughing really hard for a minute straight or longer – that doesn’t happen often enough.

45. We want impossible things. Two examples: wanting things to be other than the way they are, and wanting other people to act how we want them to, out of their own volition.

46. The quality of our relationships (including with ourselves) = the quality of our lives.

47. “Old” is relative!

48. There are more things to be thankful for than it is possible to realize/recognize at any given time. We are benefiting (directly or indirectly) from the labor of others, for instance, all the time. Interconnection is at the heart of all of our experiences.

49. The “human being” gig is a difficult one. I’m convinced this is true for everyone in some respect. To me, this suggests that humility is pretty much always called for and compassion a sign of wisdom.

50. Fifty years goes by fast. And time really does feel like it passes more quickly as you get older.

***

Thanks for reading, and best wishes to you wherever you are on your own life journey!

✌️ & 💗

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Executive Coach, Former Monk, and Heart-Centered Writer, Don Johnson (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 12)

From monastic living in an ashram to the corporate world to a peaceful life with wife #3 in Scotland, Don Johnson gets around!

“When I was in it, I didn’t think it was a cult,” says Don Johnson, referring to ten years he spent living monastically to further the mission of a boy guru who preached peace through meditation.

Don’s life story has had many twists and turns, and I explore a number of them with him in our conversation for The Person You Want to Be.

We cover a lot of ground: rebelling against his conventional suburban upbringing, discovering meditation, navigating marriage and parenthood after an extended monkhood, adulthood upheavals, arriving at a life philosophy centered around four consciously chosen core values, and more.

When Covid changed everything in March 2020, Don started writing and publishing articles prolifically on Medium.com, where he has built a substantial following of loyal readers, including yours truly, who appreciate his honesty, vulnerability, humor, insight, and often hard-earned wisdom.

You can listen to our conversation here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy this program, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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Author of “Callings” & “Vital Signs”, Gregg Levoy (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 11)

A prober of the inner life and explorer of that which calls to him, Gregg Levoy

Today’s guest on The Person You Want to Be is a favorite writer of mine, Gregg Levoy.

Gregg has written two magnificent books:

Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, and

Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion.

He is also a regular blogger for Psychology Today, former columnist and reporter for USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer, and has written for the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Omni, Fast Company, and many other publications.

In my conversation with him, Gregg shares stories about his emergence as a writer and some of the ups and downs of following this career path.

We get deep into the joys and perils of following our callings, the conflicting needs we have as human beings (such as for both passion and security), the relationship between suffering and personal growth, and more.

You can listen to our conversation here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy this program, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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Mindset Coach, Endurance Athlete, and Host of the “To Be Human” Podcast, Jennah-Louise Salkeld (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 10)

Exploring her own potential and what it means “To Be Human”, Jennah-Louise Salkeld

Jennah-Louise Salkeld is a mindset coach, a human connection specialist, and the host of one of my favorite podcasts: To Be Human.

On her podcast, she shares conversations with high achievers that get to the heart of who they are behind their personas and accomplishments, making their incredible stories that much more inspiring.

Jennah-Louise is also a bit of a high achiever herself. An avid reader, writer and self-explorer, she holds a double degree in Law, and International Relations & Politics, has solo backpacked in nearly 50 countries, and has volunteered in Kenya, India and the Northern Territory of Australia, focusing on women’s empowerment groups and youth education.

She is also an outdoors enthusiast and accomplished endurance athlete who, among other things, is the only female finisher of a 24-hour military-inspired event, which she will tell you about in my interview with her.

In our conversation for The Person You Want to Be, Jennah-Louise shares very openly about her struggles as well as her personal victories. We cover a lot of territory, and I am confident you will be inspired by her stories and her example. It was a delight speaking with her!

You can listen to our conversation here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy this program, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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Educator, Author, and Legacy Work Facilitator, Merle R. Saferstein (“The Person You Want to Be” – Ep. 9)

Making Socrates proud, Merle R. Saferstein

Merle R. Saferstein is the embodiment of what it means to live an examined life.

Not only has she kept journals for the past 48 years and counting (amassing over 380 of them!), but she spent years revisiting them, cataloguing excerpts, and meticulously fashioning a book out of them, the results of which can be found in the recently published Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. 1.

In this fascinating book, she takes you through her own evolution over the course of decades as a wife, mother, feminist, writer, Holocaust educator, and spiritual seeker, via actual passages from the journals she has kept since 1974. It is an astounding portrait of one woman’s life story that impels readers to reflect on their own lives and consider them more deeply.

Her credo is “how we live our lives becomes our legacy,” and she encourages others, whatever their age, to engage with life and attend to their legacies thoughtfully both via the classes, workshops, and lectures she offers and by the shining light of her own example.

It was a real privilege and joy to interview Merle for The Person You Want to Be. You can listen to our conversation here, or watch it on YouTube here.

You can also subscribe to the show on any of the major platforms you listen to podcasts on (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. New episodes are released every other Tuesday.

If you enjoy the show, leaving a review on Apple Podcasts would be much appreciated! “Likes” and comments on YouTube are also helpful for the show gaining traction.

You can also feel free to share your thoughts on this episode in the Comments section below.

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