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To Be an Expert, Stop Being an Expert

To Be an Expert, Stop Being an Expert

To Be an Expert, Stop Being an Expert

I work with so many authors, doctors, coaches, etc. who all want to make their mark in the media. They want to be seen as the leading expert in their field, so they seek out interviews to be on like the Today Show to talk about the latest research and newest and trendiest celebrity fad or shocking current event, and so on.

And I tell them all the same thing.

To be an expert, stop being an expert.

What do I mean by this?

Show me your humanness. Show me that you have f*%ked up and made mistakes and that you have learned from them. Don’t be just another egotistical know-it-all. But Jani my clients tell me, “I’m scared that I will be judged and that they won’t take me seriously. Won’t they think I’m not an expert if I admit that I have messed up or that I don’t do it perfectly?”

Uh . . . no.

You will be more of expert!!! Why? Because it will tell me and the rest of the world that you have gone through the fires of hell and back in your related field to come out the other side more knowledgable, self-aware, wise, and let’s face it . . . heroic. You will have those golden nuggets of truth that I am desperate to know about and want to use in my own life.

And not to mention, I will feel more connected to you! I will think, “Wow, this guy and gal are just like me.” I will like and relate to you more. You will not be some ideal image that I can never reach, but you become a regular person that I feel like I can be just like.

So here’s how NOT to be an expert:

1. Believe that there is “Perfection in the Imperfection.” I can give you tips out the wazoo, but it won’t make a difference unless you truly believe that there is perfection in the imperfection, that beauty lives in our mistakes and our failures. Change your story. Give yourself permission NOT to be perfect.

2. Admit your past mistakes. Go into the pain. Share your embarrassment, shame, guilt, anger, and sadness. Be completely raw and honest. Then, tell me what you learned. How did you get out of the mess you were in? Give me a step-by-step process of what you did to overcome your obstacles.

3. Tell me about what you are still struggling with right now. A great expert, teacher, and human-being admits that he/she doesn’t have it figured out all the time. Tell me what you still struggle with right NOW. What is it that you are still trying to figure out, get better at, and overcome? If I know that you are still pushing yourself to learn and grow, then I know that you are doing the hard work that will eventually help me.

4. Share your creation story. You have a tragic story of struggle, rebirth, and transformation. We all do. It is all part of our human journey, and it has deeply affected and changed you for the better. Use it. Use this story to explain why you are inspired to do what you do and why you are a super-star at it. You are an expert because you survived and overcame life’s challenges and learned from them.

Stop being an expert. F#%k up. Tell me about it. Then you are the REAL deal. An EXPERT. :)

Upset businessman scolding somebody

See the Signs

Interview with Fabi Saba

Show Empathy. Connect and Be LOVED in the Media.

Show Empathy. Connect and Be LOVED in the Media.

June 4, 2014

Here’s the deal. You need to seriously listen up. If you want to be a STAR in the media, build your personal brand and be the next Oprah, you have to show EMPATHY.

WHY?!? Because people love YOU when they know you care. We all have this universal belief that if you care, you will do the BEST job for me. You will go to the greatest lengths to help me, change me, serve me —and yes, even love me.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Jani Moon, I show empathy. I share. I feel people’s pain. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! I am connected and feel the struggle of others. Ummmmm. . .

No. No. No. Most of ya, nadda. No.

You think you are empathic. You think you are showing real empathy but you are not. But not to fret! I’m here to help and show you how.

Simply.

Listen. Read. Feel. Think and Follow. Here we go!

How to show empathy:

1. Acknowledge his/her feelings. Say out loud what he or she must be feeling. For example, say “You must be so overwhelmed,” or “It must be so scary.” Easy-peasy.

2. Share a common experience. Let him/her know that you have been there. You know
what he/she is going through. If someone just told you that she is getting a divorce because her man cheated on her, you can say, “Girl, I understand, I’ve been there. My ex cheated on me. It was so, so, so painful.”

Done. People like shared experiences. It makes us feel less bad about ourselves and less alone.

3. Ask heartfelt personal questions. Let him/her know that you are interested, that
you care.

Ask questions like:
-How are you doing?
-Can I help?
-When did it happen?
-Do you have any support?
-What do you need?

4. ***Feel what he or she is feeling. This is the most important one.

True empathy is being able to communicate with your “feeling” body. This means that you feel what he/she is feeling. You open up your heart and feel the feelings that he/she is going through.

Now, what if you don’t feel anything?!? What if I don’t feel any empathy! Eek!!! “Oh no! I am a heart-less son-of a bitch?”

Nah.

It happens. It happens to all of us at times. Why? Because we are emotionally shutdown. We are distracted by our own problems. We are judging the person. We don’t want to feel his/her pain because it reminds us of our pain. The list goes on and on . . .

More importantly, how do you get past feeling nothing to something?

How to feel empathy when you don’t:

You fake it till you make it because eventually, you will.

1. Use physical cues. Put your hand on your heart. Put your hand on his/her hand. Tilt your head. Sigh. Feel the heaviness in your body. When you work with your external body, it can trick you into feeling what you truly want to feel but aren’t letting yourself feel.

2. Say affirmations in your head. As most of us know, (and if you don’t, you seriously need to catch up) our thoughts affect how we feel and act.

Let me say that again. Our thoughts affect how we feel and act. So, if you say things in your head like, “I can’t believe this happened to her/him. She/he must be going through so much. She/he must be feeling so much loss,” you actually can start to FEEL something.

3. Say certain key empathy trigger phrases out-loud.
This is just like saying the affirmations but you are saying them to the person who needs your empathy.

Say phrases like, “I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to you. I can’t imagine what you are going through.” Again, the words trick your body into feeling something.

4. Slow the f*%k down. Breathe. Feel your body, your hands, your toes. Empathy is about feelings. Thinking about it is not going to help. Let your body feel and help you. Let go of the chatter of the mind and drop into the nothingness of your body. See what you feel. You might be surprised.

Lastly, it’s all about intention. If you truly want to feel something, you will. Just ask yourself to feel, to be present and empathic. Show empathy. And I promise people will love you because they will know that you care. Be a star in your life and in the media. Upgrade your brand. #Connect.

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Be Vulnerable like Brené Brown and Shine in the Media

Be Vulnerable like Brené Brown and Shine in the Media

By Jani Moon

May 13, 2014

I LOVE Brené Brown.

When I saw her Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability, I thought to myself, “We are finally progressing as a society. . . YES!!!” She made what I was learning in tantra class mainstream and people were finally getting it.

And yes, for all of you whose ears just perked up, I said tantra class. Hmm. Now, this is where I am supposed to define tantra, and no it’s not ALL about the Karma Sutra (although that is part of it). But instead, I am just going to let you google it because it is too vast in it’s magnificence to try and do it justice here with a few mere sentences. :)

Years ago, I was in a sexless marriage and we eventually ended up getting divorced. I realized my issue had less to do with sex itself and was more about my inability to be vulnerable. I couldn’t deeply share my true thoughts and feelings. I was delusional, constantly in denial, and lying to myself and to my spouse.

The truth was too painful for me to admit. That I was emotionally shutdown. That I couldn’t use the power of my voice to speak my truth. And that I couldn’t ask for what I needed.

So, I was silent.

And the silence turned into assumptions.
The assumptions turned into judgments.
And the judgments created toxic fears and dark emotions that eventually led to the decay and end of my marriage.

Ipsalu tantra (the tantra I studied) taught me to let go of my fears and limiting beliefs and gave me the courage to be vulnerable. And now, as a media coach, I teach my clients how to be vulnerable in the media so that they can connect more deeply to themselves, their message, and their audiences.

This is why Brené Brown is my hero. She is a pioneer in inspiring people to be vulnerable in order to be successful in their personal and professional lives.

You, too, can be vulnerable. You can change your life. You can have healthier relationships with your loved ones, be a star role model at work, and shine in the media.

Just be VULNERABLE.

Here are a few of my tips on how to vulnerable that I’ve learned along the way.

1. Confess your sins. We are all going to pretend for a moment that we are Catholic school girls confessing our sins to a priest. Start with the phrase, “I confess . . .,” and then confess something close to your heart. It’s awkward at first, but once you get the hang of it, you actually can have some fun.

I confess that even though I am a vegetarian, I sometimes fantasize about eating a steak and baked potato. I confess that I lied to my mom about using Botox. I confess that sometimes I can’t stand looking and hearing myself on camera—and I’m a media coach!

2. Be Howard Stern. Practice no filter. Be completely transparent. Take some risks. Pretend that you just had three shots of tequila: What would you dare to say? Don’t be afraid to be bold, raunchy, or offensive.

For example, all lip injections need to be made illegal. I masturbate before I see you because I am not satisfied. You need to lose 10 pounds to get rid of your muffin top.

You don’t need to be mean, just honest.

3. Use the phrase, “I feel _____.” Stick in an emotion word. Then tell me WHY. For
example, “I feel nervous about making the deadline because I might get fired.” Or, “I’m scared you will leave me and fall in love with someone else.”

Now, it’s your turn.

4. Listen to the three-headed oracle. She has three questions for you to answer. Answer them out loud or else.

-What would I say if I wasn’t scared of being rejected?
-What would I say if I wasn’t scared of being judged?
-What would I say if I 100% felt that I deserved it?

5. Let your body talk. This might sound a little airy-fairy to some of you but I swear it works. Put your hand on your heart. Breathe into it. Ask yourself, “What does my heart want to say?” And then say it!

Or . . .

Focus on your gut, your power center. Ask that part of your body, “What is it that is hidden deep, deep down inside in my gut that I just don’t want to say?” Then, say it!

6. Write it and read it out-loud. This one is for those of you who are super stuck in the
throat. I have been there. I would go to say something, and it would just get stuck in my throat like a cement wall was preventing any words from passing. It was exhausting and frustrating.

But this is easy. Write down all the “stuff” you are scared to say out-loud, and just read it, plain and simple. It totally does the trick.

There you have it. Now YOU can be vulnerable like Brené Brown and shine in the media and in your life! Yahoo!!!

Watch the Ted Talk now!

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Letting Go of the Lies That Make Us Feel Bad About Ourselves

Letting Go of the Lies That Make Us Feel Bad About Ourselves

By Jani Moon

Originally, posted on Tinybuddha.com

“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” ~Alice Duer Miller

The man who I thought was my soul mate walked out on me fourteen years ago. He immediately remarried a lovely, beautiful woman who was everything I was not.

I am desperate to fall in love. I’m thirty-eight. I want a baby. I want a relationship. I feel alone.

A year ago, I fell unexpectedly in love with my photographer. Yes, star-struck romantics, it was just like the movies. Shy, awkward woman gets pictures taken for her brand-building website, and she is completely unraveled by his boyish sweetness and the power of his lens.

I had never felt so beautiful, so free, so seen, so celebrated. It was a wham-bam-thank-you-mam whirlwind romance. We “hung” out only four times.

But I had felt the life times between us, even if he didn’t.  And he didn’t. He didn’t choose me. But that didn’t stop me from becoming a crazy woman. Obsessed.

I cried every other day, made up stories, fantasies. Of course we had shared past lives together. He was my “real” soul mate.

Even if my mind was making up the stories, my body remembered. Why else would I be so upset? I felt like I was dying, my heart was being squeezed into blackness, and all I could do to get past the tears was scream.

I had many, many moments that looked like this:
Imagine me, on my bed, with a box of tissues, crying from the pit of my soul. Snot coming out my nose and spit out my mouth, all dripping into a sticky pool on my bed. I’m angrily screaming out and yelling “Why?!? Haven’t I suffered enough pain? I’ve done what I thought was right. I’ve prayed. Meditated. Done good deeds. Challenged myself. Don’t I deserve love? The man I want? What can I do differently? What is wrong with me? Why am I not blessed? What do I have to DO-O-O-O-O-O-O-O?!”

Not a pretty scene.

It was gut-wrenchingly painful being in that victim hell realm. I had to get out. But how?

How do you get out of your own way? How do you survive when you are drowning in a pit of dreadful dark emotions and thoughts? All I could think about was that penetrating question, “Universe, what do I have to do??

Do? What do I have to do, right? Because obviously, I did something wrong or didn’t do something right to win his love.

In this two-lettered word, do, I realized everything. It wasn’t about doing. It was about surrendering, letting go, and trusting in the organic flow of life.

Not easy.

I constantly forget this, and the universe kindly reminded me of my sticky attachments to the external, yet again. Then, to make matters worse, that little voice crept up and said in its annoying voice, “You need to look inside for love, not on the outside.”
Who’s heard that before?

And I say back defiantly, “Easy for you to say. I’m only human. I’m not an enlightened being. I want love, damn-it. Love!”

Then, I stopped. I took a breath, dropped into my body, and surrendered. And then surrendered some more.

Finally, I said to myself, “It’s okay to want love. It makes me a loving human being. It’s even okay that I became a crazed, angry woman, mad at the world, making up fantastical, delusional stories. It happens. But, mainly it’s okay because deep, deep down inside myself there was a lie I was telling myself.

(Breathe)

I was telling myself that it was my fault for being so unlovable, so broken that these men didn’t choose me. And of course, I know that’s not true.

At first, I felt like an idiot. Geez, not the stupid loathing-lack-of self-love-thing again. But then I remembered to give myself empathy. I forgave myself for my lie because I know that many of us on this planet have the same one.

That is what makes us human.

Self-acceptance, forgiveness, and self-love washed over me. And I felt a little bit better, lighter. I felt like I was thrown a divine rope to pull me out of that pit of despair.

I went through this routine about 100 more times, until one day, months later, I felt normal, clearer, and joy eventually snuck in again. I haven’t met Mr. Right yet, but I’m hopeful. I’m more grounded, more open, more trusting, and less attached.

And when I start to feel the chatter of my mind and those icky feelings bubble up again, I remind myself of what I learned months before. There is a universal process of forgiving and letting go. We each have our own way of describing it, but mine goes something like this.

1. Acknowledge what you are feeling, your anger, your sadness, and your pain.
2. Release it. Express it (safely, away from blunt objects, and in the comforts of your home). Don’t hold it in your body to fester and turn into disease!
3. Ask yourself the tough questions, and answer truthfully until you get to the very bottom of your pit of despair. There, you will find the treasure: the lie you have been telling yourself.
4. Be gentle. Accept your lie. Forgive yourself for telling it.
5. Lovingly let it go and rewrite your story. For me, it was: “I’m not unlovable. I’m lovable, and love will come to me in its perfect timing! Yahooo!”
6. Finally, chuckle at the absurdity of it all, and remind someone else of this human process of death, rebirth, and growth through your own sharing, storytelling, and your art.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. And smile.

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Within the Journey

Within the Journey

Originally posted in Modern Ink Magazine

July 20, 2011

We caught up with the lovely Jani Moon Irion and asked her to share with our readers what it was like transitioning from three years of life in a developing country to stepping foot in New York City for the very first time…what we got was a beautifully honest depiction of her trials, struggles, and the realizations she came to throughout her continuing journey:

“Surviving the death of my sister and a painful divorce gave me the strength and courage to make major changes in my life, and in 2008, I left for the Peace Corps. Joining the Peace Corps meant leaving the comforts of American life, a new man I thought I was in love with, my friends, and my family for the adventure of a lifetime.  I sold and gave away everything I owned, believing in my heart I would never live in the United States again. I was stationed in Vanuatu in the South Pacific, a country that I had not previously known existed, until I found out I would be living there for two years.  Its only claim to fame was that a Survivor television show had filmed there. This tropical paradise and modern day pirate bunker is filled with yachties, criminals, French and English families who survived the Independence, a new breed of wealthy Australian and New Zealand expats, and the native local people called Ni-Vans.  The country is caught in a time warp, trying to decide whether to live in its colonial past or swing over into the throws of modernization.  In Vanuatu, it’s common to see thirty people squashed into a box-shaped tin house watching a cheap, boot-leg Chinese copy of Rambo with Russian subtitles. The tropics, with its pristine beauty and wild aliveness, inspire a childlike innocence and simplicity. The local people live off the land gardening, hunting and fishing while the children help with chores, play with rocks and sticks, and run into the bush swinging giant bush knives. The two sides of Vanuatu are like that of any coin, inextricably linked and yet polar opposite: black and white, privileged and poor, peace and chaos. The humid, oppressive heat was a petri dish of micro-organisms. Stomach viruses, inexplicable skin rashes, chronic fatigue, the potential of contracting worms and tropical mosquito born diseases, combined with culture shock and emotional breakdowns consumed my first four months in Vanuatu. I knew I had to make it through those two years, but I didn’t know if I could. Fear overwhelmed me, while my physical and emotional health were deteriorating. Yet regardless of my own downward spiral, the limitations of my physical and emotional state sparked a growing anger, defiance, and a desire to persevere.  I refused to be like some of the other Peace Corps volunteers counting down the days, practically the minutes, until they could go back home…I wanted to passionately love each minute on those islands, but I wasn’t having an optimistic start. Stretched thinly, I broke. I found out that my ex-husband was having a baby with his girlfriend, and the man I fell in love with months before I left to go to Vanuatu re-kindled life with his ex-girlfriend, and again I felt deserted, alone, and with nothing to go back to. I remember being in my house in the village, with its tin roof and a bed sheet separating me from the six other family members with whom I was sharing the house. Desperate and broken, I stayed up one night sobbing from my very gut, praying over and over again “God, please let me love it here so much that I don’t ever want to leave,”  and after that, things changed. I was one of the few volunteers who was placed in the city with a flush-toilet and running water. Hallelujah– I was in heaven! The first week at my new site, I met two new best friends who became like sisters to me. Eventually, I fell in love with the most beautiful young Aussie surfer with the heart and soul of an angel…my prayer had been answered. As the next two years flew by, the island became my experimental playground to organize and facilitate teaching workshops, direct plays at the community theater, teach yoga classes, start a fire dancing troupe with local children, practice Reiki, create sacred women’s circles, make jewelry, paint, and much more. My experiences in Vanuatu gave me a deeper understanding of myself, what I want, what I can create in my life, and how I am capable of being in service to others. But unfortunately nothing lasts forever. After two years the spell was broken, and I forced myself to stay once my service was up, even though the deeper voice within was telling me something else. I had fallen in love with a man and I loved the island and the people who lived there. I had made it my home. I was a big fish in a small pond–deeply loved; I felt important and inspired a community. Realizing that the lies I tell myself can only last for so long, I began getting panic attacks, feeling like the island was closing in on me, squeezing out the oxygen in my lungs and the life in my body. The love I had for my boyfriend, the people and my friends wasn’t enough anymore. My body was sending off sirens and alarms, screaming that my time here was over and that I needed to go; leaving was unbearable but certain.

I left the first man that I’ve ever loved since my ex-husband, and the seemingly plausible future of a husband and family was washed away with the incoming tides of change. In August 2010, I moved to New York City, a city where I had never even stepped foot except within the confines of my imagination. I remember being six-years-old, dreaming of NYC, singing off-key to “I’m singing on Broadway,” stomping away, pretending I was a famous tap dancer and singer. Here I was finally living a childhood dream…minus the desperate need to prove myself, the unrealistic expectations, and of course, the poverty. My story is the main story-line threaded throughout every other New Yorker’s drama:  dancing in the alleyways and through the streets to our own Broadway shows, singing of heartache, disappointment, and the hope of being discovered. I thought nothing could be as challenging as joining the Peace Corps and moving to a developing country, but I was wrong–my move to NYC was much worse. Vanuatu was teaming with the hum of wildlife and the constant rhythmic sounds of the ocean, tones relaxing enough to put a baby to sleep. New York has two beats: the pulse of a jackhammer drilling away at your fragile ego, and the pulse of heartbeat pumping creative passion into your veins. The Jackhammer hit me first. I came to NYC with many expectations for myself… feeling called to this city and expecting the moon. I didn’t realize that I would struggle, doubt and began to regret my decision.  I got lost in the matrix, a place of insurmountable intensity, seventy-hour work weeks, crowds of people and buildings, a depressed economy, highly qualified and skilled people fighting over each and every job.  Most damaging to me, however, was my tortured and overly-crowded mind. It would race with worry and fear, drowning out the vision that had guided me to New York to begin with. I felt lost…depressed…lonely.  I wanted to go back from whence I came, but there was no going back; there never is, and I was stuck in my own self-created hell.

I wanted to get unstuck, but didn’t know how.  It was so easy to find peace and clarity on the island, where time was my best friend. In New York, I felt all my tools and teachings gained in Vanuatu were being put to the hardest test yet. How could I be happy, clear, and at peace in the most insane city in the world? I expected my prayers to be answered as quickly as they were answered in the village–that expectation was a mistake.

It was a long cold winter. Consumed by depression, everyday was a struggle to feel thankful. I was in limbo, a dark constricted place, grieving my old life and yet not fully in my new one. I never wanted to go out; I complained constantly and had negative thoughts spinning circles in my head; I was praying for spring, the budding hopes of a brighter future, a garden of expansion…it eventually came.

It came when I decided that I wouldn’t work seventy hours a week. It came when I honored my body and needs. It came when I loved myself enough to ask for what I wanted. It came when I was in my power not to be okay with the status quo. It came when I decided that I am the creator of my reality, my life.  I’m not victim to my circumstances but the heroine of my Broadway show. Most importantly, it came when I let go and trusted the organic timing of life. After night falls, the sun always reappears and rises; all darkness eventually turns to light… in its own time.

I’m now a media coach. It’s drama-teacher-meets-life-coach-meets-your-favorite- therapist. I get to help unravel people from all the crap they have made their truths and reality. These lies aren’t who they are–my clients just need to remember who they are so they can talk, entertain and just BE from a real, authentic place. From there, we laugh, cry, and fall in love with them.  I love my work; I help shed people of their false exteriors so that their vulnerable, powerful, and creative superstar-selves shine through…they mirror back to me all that I need to learn and re-learn myself.

I still struggle, and my life is far from perfect, but there is perfection in the imperfection.  Knowing that at least gives me the courage to spread my wings and try to fly.”

Read more about Jani in our upcoming Fall issue of Modern Ink Mag!

jani in vanuatu

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