AURA Mind & Spirit Series - An interview with Jaqui Karr
AURA - Describe a specific situation in that shows--not tells--how what you learned in your personal life that helped you deal with a specific work situation.
JK - I was in the hospital, with a mystery illness that was disrupting my life and my spirit, my 9th admission to the E.R. in just 60 days. I was drowning in disempowering emotions: Self-pity, frustration, fear, anger, helplessness. And then I met a young mother with a rare cancer who needed blood transfusions twice a week. This was being done at midnight because she and her husband had no family to take care of their infants and were splitting the shifts by getting day and night jobs that would accommodate her transfusions. His two nights off a week were her two nights of transfusions. I felt one more negative emotion before switching to compassion: Disappointment in myself. “Others have it worse than you, you have so much to be grateful for” … We know these lessons, yet we often don’t adopt them. I’m convinced that truly successful people get there by not needing neon signs to adopt every lesson and by having their perspectives in order. Perspective can make or break you, in work and in life. Since that night in the hospital, watching this 22-year-old battle for her life without complaining, I never had a work or personal situation that took on a disastrous tone again. Perspective can diffuse the craziest of moments and help you step back, think clear, and focus on the solution instead of becoming stifled by the challenge at hand.
AURA - Share with me something about yourself that you're working on improving, and how you think (XYZ) will be better/more productive/run more smoothly once you've accomplished your goal.
JK - I’m learning to borrow from other influences. As businesspeople, we’re drowning in tools, books, speeches, seminars, training programs. We keep adding and adding, usually exclusively from people in our field. I’m learning how to strip all that away and return to the core of the matter. There’s so much to learn from athletes, artisans, nature, even animals… What elements are we not thinking about in our office environments? We’re missing a wealth of resources by trying to learn only from counterparts and so-called gurus, who may or may not be doing things right. Want to learn how to focus more? Watch a cat as they patiently eye their target; They don’t move, they don’t blink, they don’t even breathe heavy – they slow down and regulate their breathing while waiting for the perfect moment to make their move. And no matter what, they don’t take their eye off the ball. Now that’s focus. Tell a cat to multi-task and it’ll starve. Tell a human to focus on one thing and do it to their maximum capability and they’ll think you’re an underachiever. Who’s right? My money is on the cat, it’s still got its instincts guiding it. Humans lost instinct via over-education. I’m finding my way back.
AURA - What did your parents do, how did they influence you, and what lessons have you held onto?
JK - My father worked on cars, a grueling, physical job. He’d come home every night, drenched in sweat, scraping grease off his hands, muscles needing his kid (that’s me) to walk up and down his back to soothe aching muscles, and he was always so happy and grateful to have work he loved so much. A total craftsman. He’d take mangled cars from wrecks that no one else could tackle and turn them back into showroom condition. Then he’d stand back and bask in pride. Total joy. It’s yet another lesson we all hear but don’t adopt: “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, and to that I’ll also add, “You’ll never feel tired.” He taught me work ethic, taking pride in work, and to choose only things I love and find interesting. Everything else is a 4-letter word called work, and it can steal your soul if you see it as nothing but work.
AURA - Describe your biggest obstacles in life and how you’ve mastered them.
JK - Like most people, I’ve been my worst obstacle. “The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection” comes with a price; it’s no wonder Lexus abandoned their long-time tagline. Self-criticism, allowing past errors to steal from the present, regret (everyone says regret is a useless emotion, but no one tells us how to stop feeling it). It’s a demon that still sneaks up on me sometimes and I’ve developed an antidote: A simple mantra that says “Don’t Let Your Yesterdays Steal Your Tomorrows”. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – I’m working on improving that ratio.
AURA - What were your biggest epiphanies: the moments of life-defining change that shaped you into the person you are today.
JK - That having fun is a key part of the formula to success. The empowerment of women has been a gift that my generation and future generations will live more enhanced lives for… but that empowerment came with a certain price and it also came with the clear message that we had to work hard for it, and continue to do so. Work hard. Battle. Work more. …As if women didn’t have enough on their plates juggling work and home. That heaviness is weight that can hold one’s spirit down. Fun liberates it, expands energy, and opens the creative mind. To truly succeed, I’ve learned to make sure I’m having fun every step of the way. And when I’m not, I know I need to make a change. Q: “How do I have fun while I’m drowning in bills and debt?” A: “By having a glass of wine or hot chocolate each time you pay one and having a ceremonious burning of that bill. Literally take a match to that wretched piece of paper after it’s paid and sing Good Riddance.” It’ll feel good, and make you look forward to the next wretched bill you’ll soon burn. Enjoy that wine and be fully present, even if we’re talking 10 minutes. You now added 10 minutes to the happier side of the street. Make the next bill-burning ceremony last 20 minutes.
AURA - What is your life philosophy and how did you develop it?
JK - Live and Let Live. I live and die by it. We often want to help others, do our best, give the most – that nurturing quality seems to be part of the female DNA. But not everyone is ready for whatever it is you have in mind and sometimes we need to step back. I’ve adopted the philosophy of “Everything In Its Time”, including times I have to watch car crashes that I want to jump in and stop. You can’t stop every crash, but you risk becoming part of the collateral damage. Learn to respect that we’re all going through life at our own pace, and sometimes those journeys are on different timelines. I’ve learned to respect and step back from things and people that aren’t aligned with where I am, and to acknowledge no one is right or wrong, we all just “are”. Also learn to forgive yourself if you were the one that simply wasn’t ready for something. There’s no set timeline, there’s only what you’re ready for at any given moment. Whatever that is, it’s exactly perfect, and we don’t always need to figure out why.
AURA - What is your vision for the future for you personally and professionally? Maybe add some thoughts on where you hope the world will go.
JK - Living with a lighter heart. This is my vision for my own life, personally and professionally, and it is what I hope for the world. If we can untangle so many of the complex spiderwebs that civilized and industrialized living has created, simple solutions to multiple problems will come to light. In the health world, I’ve met people who have been battling health issues for years, sometimes their whole life. A plethora of doctors, tests, meds, and downward spirals that have been bottomless pits. I look at all the complicated strategies and cocktails of prescriptions, and find myself telling my client: “It’s simpler than that.” It’s often just a return to real food, your body knows how to get back to homeostasis if you can get out of its way. The same way an all-raw return to real food can be the reset button that brings the body back to health, an all-raw mindset can be the return to recognizing what’s important in life and having a clear perspective to guide us day in and day out through this blink of a moment called life.