What is the outcome and the benefit to you becoming yourself?Read More
Reading and rereading, I kept running into the individual, you and me. What we believe to be true about life, our past and present kept coming to the forefront of my mind. It is our past, our upbringing, our insecurities, and our fears that are the true reason for the world’s greatest tragedies.Read More
The process of creating an audiobook is rewarding and stressful. I spent the first few days preparing to record my first audiobook by making sure my closet did not produce an echo. I was determined to finish taping my book, The Beginner’s Guide To Finding Your Brave in a few weeks even though I heard the process could take months.
For a better part of the first few weeks, I was up to my eyeballs in clothing and hangers. I had to find a place for the laundry basket because it would be my mic stand. I also knew that I would be in the closet for hours so I had to have a place for snacks and my favorite scented candle. The scene was spectacular!
By the end of the day, my small closet was turned into a sound booth paradise.
On the first day, I sat hunched over on the floor to record. I later regretted the decision due to back pains from being in one position for so long.
The first week went by quickly. I imagined how Ta-Nehisi Coates might have felt recording In Between the World and Me or the way Brene Brown may have postured about as she taped Daring Greatly.
I made the decision up front to record the book how I spoke, meaning I talked in a conversational manner. I am from Texas so some of my words have a "southern-twang" to them. However, I was better off being myself than to put on an act and have to explain myself later when I was in front of people during book signings. The Introduction was the easy part. I wrote to the point, short sentences, and found my cadence.
The following weeks proved to be a lesson in willpower and perseverance. I made the crazy decision to edit on my laptop as I went. Which meant I would stop every few sentences to correct an “r” or entire phrase that did not communicate emotion.
It’s all in the voice inflection.
While working in the sales industry I would encourage my sales reps to smile when they spoke on the phone with prospects. The joke around the industry is to dial and smile. For me, smiling put me in a more confident mood to close.
By the end of the second month, I was tired but close to the finish line. The process took longer than I expected, but I was reminded that completing the audio version of my book would allow communities that struggle with literacy the opportunity to learn how to find their brave. That’s worth it.
You can check out the audiobook of my work The Beginner’s Guide to Finding Your Brave here. Thanks for listening. Let me know what you think (email@example.com).
whatever disturbs you, whatever hinders you, whatever enslaves you, whatever you covet, whatever you fear, look at it, stare it down, challenge it, lean into it, wrestle with it, confront it, live it, destroy it.Read More
In the new “edit world” where we all can be whoever we want to be; who will you decide to be? Will you be someone that leans in and engages the people around them or the type of person who develops a worldview behind the screen of a phone or computer?
Your choice.Read More
I left the sports world four years ago, and occasionally I am asked about my time in the industry and the goal I had of owning an NBA team.
Here is a snippet from the piece:
Your writing very much involves a prominent theme around bravery.
I talk so much about bravery because without it we live lives for other people, in fear of ourselves, and we limit our potential. I lacked so much in my early 20s, it forced me to go on a journey. Every time I hit publish on a piece, I'm riddled with anxiety, it's what's left over from when I cared most about what others thought of me. I'm a work in progress. But when I feel that emotion, I know that I am headed in the right direction.
About Jason Vo
Previously founder and editor of The Modern Block, an interview-based publication wherein Jason set out to discover the intersection between entrepreneurship and creativity, he found detouring conversations — conversations around love, happiness, introspection, and behavior — to spark a much more meaningful interest in his life. Selected interviews from his days at The Modern Block, along with new (weekly) interviews now live on this site.
I picked up the "Four Arguments for The Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander last year at my favorite bookstore here in Dallas. I heard the book mentioned in passing on a podcast, bought it, and the book set on my bookshelf for over year. I skimmed through it then and found a few points relevant, but nothing stood out until today.
In wrapping context around some of the broader concepts in writing my third book, Jerry Mander’s book stood out to me as I peered at my bookshelf while sipping a cup of tea. The title, ambitions, I thought, but the content could shed some light on why our brains remain so noisy, so cluttered.
I opened the text to a portion of material Mander listed under “Television Is Sleep Teaching.”
In the section, he covers psychologists Merrelyn and Fred Emery 1975 research. The researches of the Emery report acknowledge shortcomings in its findings and states “that it is tantamount to scandal that there has been so little research on the neurophysiology of television watching.” However, their findings still intrigued me:
“The report explains that since television information is taking place where the viewer is not, it cannot be acted upon. The viewer must deliberately inhibit the neural pathways between visual and the autonomic nervous system, which stimulates movement and mental attention. The viewer is left in a passive but also frustrated state (207).”
There goes my Netflix binge. Mander goes on to state:
““Their [Merrelyn and Fred Emery] findings support the idea that television information enters unfiltered and whole, directly into the memory banks, but is not available for conscious analysis, understanding or learning. It is sleep teaching (207).”
So because we are not “actors” in the mental stories we willing participate in through the television shows we watch we can become frustrated and passive robots who are being sleep taught by directors who may or may not have our best interest in mind. OK, what to do what that?
If you are like me and seek enough mental space to create and imagine then the obvious answer is to be more selective with what we watch on television. It goes back to the idea that a small amount of discipline creates freedom or at least mental clarity.
Last week my husband and I received news that we were not prepared to hear. Then came this revelation:
When we cannot control a thing, we must decide to let go and choose happiness.
We choose joy because it is our best way back to peace. We choose happiness because the said situation is as we mentioned – out of our control – so there is no point trying to control something that is uncontrollable.
We choose happiness because if you take a broad inventory of your life, you realize that your days are shorter than expected and time has marched on without you giving much thought to it, like you one day awoke and could not believe today, or the year, the month had actually arrived.
You choose joy because sadness does not only have an affect on you physically and mentally, but it affects your children, the people you work with, and the person you love the most. That pain is transferable, and if you allow it, if you let it, it will consume the best parts of your life.
We choose happiness because it is a choice, like deciding what you have for dinner or if you will have tea or coffee. Happiness is a choice like choosing to smile at a stranger or over tip your waitress. It is a choice like deciding on dinner and a movie or a stroll in the park. It is a choice of your choosing. Choose well.
The painful discovery, the missed recital, the unfortunate call has happened. You are allowed to mourn and grieve for what was lost. But that moment lives in the past, a past that you cannot alter and what is out of your control you must release.
Joy is your only way forward.
It is a radical act because another choice springs forth to meet you in your despair, that of the victim. But if you read the fine print, the victim role is a counterfeit and does not lead to happiness but discontent and further victimization. You end up giving away the same power and energy that is necessary for your freedom. The victim role was instant gratification and came with hugs and sympathy cards, but what really can these things do for you in your darkest hour?
There is another way. Choose joy.
Your joy and story can offer others hope. Your happiness is a lantern of grace showing the way for those who may be lost in the depths of their sorrow. By choosing joy, you choose love over fear and a hope for a more desirable tomorrow.
When I suggested Greece for this year's out of country vacation, I had no clue what to expect. I remember seeing a photo of blue skies and white buildings and thought it would be fun wandering around a place with such a mystique. Stunning architecture gets me every time.
What I was introduced to when we landed at Athens Airport was a familiar but distant way of life. The people, open. The food, Mediterranean. The weather, hot.
Here is a visual diary of our travels.
FIRST STOP: ATHENS
Our Athens Airbnb was tucked away on a small street near several restaurants and a 15-minute walk to the Monastiraki Flea Market and the Acropolis. The newly renovated modern apartment had everything we needed for our short stay in Athens.
The best advice I was given while touring the market, "watch your purse, there are magicians around here."
NEXT STOP: MYKONOS
We road to Mykonos Island on a ferry ride I could have done without. Two hours later we arrived at the port greeted by our new host Panos. He informed us about the small island, its beaches, restaurants, and the markets nearby our cabin-style dwelling.
The significant part about Pano's property was a small private beach that could only be accessed from a rickety gate off the roadside. But once through the gate the homes and the views on this side of the island were spectacular.
NEXT STOP: SANTORINI
Go to Santorini for the steep cliffs, gravity defying architecture and Oia. Unfortunately, not the beaches if you want to keep your rental car in one piece
After saying goodbye to our Santorini host, we headed back to Athens for our return flight home. We had a few days to check out the Acropolis Museum, a rare Thai restaurant with a chef who studied in Thailand and picked up food and trinkets for the return trip back to Dallas.
"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot.
That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.
On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
– Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer