Wherever I Go, There I Am: The Majors Occupational Environment Measure (OEM)

“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shackOnceinalifetime
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile…
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?” – Talking Heads, 1981

I don’t know about you, but I tend to use song lyrics to frame various life situations. Although “Once in a Lifetime” by new wave band Talking Heads is three-and-a-half decades old, I think that most of us – at any age or of any generation – can, at one time or another, resonate with these existential ponderings.

As someone who has, actually, found herself “in another part of the world”, and who has done some deep work around figuring out how I got here, it’s become more and more clear that the saying, “Wherever I go, there I am” is at the core of the matter. For all of us.

Have you ever woken up an wondered if the life you’ve built is actually what you want? Do you feel that you’re not utillizing your true talents? Do you feel stuck in a dead-end job? Are you merely living to work vs. working to live? Are you not relating to your loved ones and co-workers as authentically as you’d like? Are you about to make a life transition, say, into university – but aren’t sure which academic path to take? Have you just graduated with a beautiful, shiny degree, but have no idea where to go from here?

“And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?…Am I wrong?
And you may say to yourself yourself
My God!…What have I done?!”

Choosing a career is one of the most important, and difficult, decisions a person can make. The Majors Occupational Environment Measure™ (MajorsOEM™) is designed to help individuals make this challenging decision. Individuals explore areas of preference and avoidance according to their work interests, tasks/activities and environmental settings.

The MajorsOEM™ provides you with a complete set of results (avoidance and preference) that are consistently reliable, valid in application and intuitively meaningful. It’s been proven to be very useful in career and vocational counseling for high school and college/university students. It has also met great success in career planning for adults, including mid-life career changers, corporate restructuring and retirement/leisure activities. It is an excellent choice for students, graduates, professionals, or individuals returning to the workforce.

If you feel that your life is the “same as it ever was” – but you’re finding that unsatisfying; or if you’re just starting out and need some guidance; or you generally just don’t know what you want to be when you grow up (even if you’re 50) – read more about the The MajorsOEM™  and feel free to contact us. Because YOU are unsuppressable.

Do you have your own story about things falling apart and your plans going awry (and what you did after that)- personally or in business? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com

Character and Personality: Humility

humility When conducting workshops on complex projects, a common question is, “What characteristics must a leader have?” Let’s cover several of the important character traits. The first is humility.

Conversations around this word can be all over the map. When asked for synonyms for humility, responses have included “submissive,” “quiet,” “unassertive,” and “cautious” – to name a few. Let’s see if some clarity can be brought to the situation.

“To Serve”

We can take a peek at humility by looking at samurai. “Samurai” means “to serve.” Samurai were humble. They knew their limits and worked within them. Get the picture? If not, maybe it will become clearer by looking at one of my favorite quotes, which happens to be anonymous:

“There are two types of people in the world – those who are humble and those who are about to be.”

Humility has less to do with affect (how we look to the outside world, e.g., quiet) and more to do with awareness; specifically awareness of one’s limitations. One reason that teams develop is humility. Together we can work beyond our individual limits. Being humble, we can also pay attention to real boundaries and calculate how to push on them.


This all sounds well and good. But isn’t there an element of truth ringing in the words “submissive,” “unassertive,” etc.? No.

The meaning of humility may become clearer when compared to the word it is commonly confused with – humiliation. There are two parts to the meaning of each word. The first part is the same: “To go to a small place.” It is in the second part where the words differ dramatically. With humility I choose to go to that small place. With humiliation… you probably have guessed it… I am pushed there by someone else!

Nice People Apparently Doing Bad Things

These definitions are morally neutral. Let me explain. You might know of a couple going through the following situation: One member (A) of a couple gets the job offer from heaven. The problem is that it requires uprooting and moving to another city. This can humiliate the other partner (B), who might ask, “What about me?”

Assuming A is free of any malicious thoughts of manipulating B, B still is saddled with an unfairness that needs to be addressed. The challenge of interdependence is present. B is going to have to take a risk in order to work interdependently with A.

Fast-Paced Organizations

This issue shows up on the job on an almost daily basis. When a company says they are fluid, flexible, fast-paced and will work to meet or exceed customer needs, a set of questions comes to mind. For instance: “Is the leader humble?” and “Does the leader watch for potentially humiliating situations and work with those who get pushed there?”

The principles by which the leader lives come into play. In navigating through change management, there is a need for the leader to be steadfast, open, and available. The leader stays humble and stable – serving as a reference point for those who are feeling a bit humiliated, as well as those who are getting to stay on their chosen path. Both groups of people are part of the success.

The Payoff

It is hard to overstate how much humility, combined with interdependence, contributes to creating a powerful team. Trust is present, which fuels a feed-forward (instead of a looking-back-and-wondering-what-happened) frame of mind. The awareness of limits leads to better decision-making, so not only is the team moving faster, but there is also a higher probability of sustaining success.

So, the next time humble pie is being served, consider asking for a second slice.

Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gary.monti@aureliuspress.com.

If you’d like to submit a Jungian-focused blog on working with different personality types (in professional or personal settings), please contact Jennifer Rojas, our Blog Editor, at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com.

Wherever I Go, There I Am: Romance and Jung

My Romanceromance and jung

“And thus began my ‘hero’s journey’ – alone in a foreign country with no job, no car, not knowing enough of the language, no support system, savings dwindling, a broken marriage, trampled self-esteem, and racked with shame and disappointment.

This is where we left off at the end of “Wherever I Go, There I Am, Part 1“.  I will eventually talk about what happened after that and the entire process and journey that led me to “finding my a$$ with both hands.” But for now, let’s flash forward about 5.5 years to the present day.

I will describe this in my own hopeless romantic way: I met the most amazing man! When I think of all of the things that had to line up and occur over the past 10 years (including meeting my ex-husband and my whole world inevitably falling apart) in order for Ben and I to find each other, it FEELS like nothing short of a miracle.

My life partner is someone who I couldn’t have conjured if I’d tried – “on paper” he’s the perfect blend of left and right brain (archaeologist, scholar and musician). He looks like a “bad boy” but I’ve never met someone more kind, generous and loving. And it’s all the things that are not “on paper” that make him so right for me.

There’s a certain quality about our relationship that not only includes trust, connection, openness, respect, and affection, but also the kind of “mind reading” and being on the same wavelength that makes us feel like kindred spirits. Almost daily, one of us will quip with a smile, “Get out of my head!”

Let me step back from my little romance novel now. As I’ve continued on my learning journey down the Jungian psychological typology path, I began to wonder, “As an ENFP, why on earth does my relationship with an ESTJ work so well?”

Not that I want to question it, mind you, but according to the whole type attributes that I’ve read about, one might believe that we’re doomed. That there are too many conflicts within our personality types for us to truly “get” one another. Or, at the very least, this partnership would be a very difficult uphill battle. So what gives?

Jung’s Romance

Ben and I actually took the Jungian type-based Majors PT Elements personality assessment individually and discovered that our personalities are, on the surface, opposites. In fact, I was shocked to hear that, statistically, there’s only about a 16% survival rate for relationships with only one letter (one aspect of type) in common!

To find out how is it possible that I can be in such a fulfilling and easygoing relationship with someone who is virtually an opposite, I went to our resident expert on Type, Gary Monti, and we did a podcast on Jungian personalities in relationships using our assessment results as a framework. Gary walked me through the reasons why it has been possible for my partner and I to form such a solid, positive relationship.

Gary explains that it’s very easy to “label” people based on native type and not delve deeper. When you get the full story of a person, it becomes apparent that the nuances of personality affect how they actually and fully operate in the world and in relationship with self and others. In the case of my specific romantic relationship, Ben and I choose to delight in our diversity – rather than throwing “you should be like me’s” at each other.

I point out that we do have some areas of tension, as all couple do – and that we communicate about them respectfully and don’t try to change the other person. Or we poke fun at each other while accepting our differences and navigating them. We learn from each other, and it’s not always easy.

Gary stresses that the “spirit” of how one comes to the assessment is critical. The purpose is to delve into each other’s personalities – not for “getting the goods” on the other person or using their scores against them. The approach should be about humility and vulnerability, and being willing to make some changes. There is space for the couple to discuss the difficulties they’re having AND to celebrate each other. This principle applies as well to families and business teams.

Gary discusses specific areas in which Ben and I score similarly, despite our different whole types, and we discover that it is these areas of overlap that contribute to our sense of being completely understood and accepted by the other partner. These meshes are, in fact, what allows us to risk being fully open with each other. This openness, in turn, creates a sense of safety that takes the relationship further and deeper than any other relationship in which we’ve each been.

Getting into the “nitty gritty” of type, let’s take a look at just a few of the specific areas where Ben and I overlap, and how that plays out in our relationship:

Ben is T (Thinking) and I’m a big, fat F (Feeling). But Ben shows much more adaptability into the F function. What this looks like is that Ben comes to me. He genuinely works to relate to me as an F. This has been such an important component of how we relate to one another that I believe if he did not show that F attribute so strongly, it would be far more difficult for us to “get” each other. It would be really difficult for me to feel as connected as I do with him. This makes a huge difference in how our relationship IS vs. how it could be if that one component of our personalities were more divergent.

With the J (Judging) vs. P (Perceiving) function, it’s the other way around: I can move into the Judging functions much more easily than Ben can move into the Perceiving functions. Gary aptly points out that there are times when I let Ben take the reigns, so to speak, and trust his take-action judgment even if I don’t have all the options analysed. I’ve picked up on when it’s time to curb my “one million options” enthusiasm a bit.

We capitalize on our diversity and respect each other. It’s powerful. It’s not to say we don’t get annoyed with one another, but our desire to “thrive and connect” comes first.

The 8 Majors Jungian Process Scores

Gary goes on to discuss the real-time measures of the 8 Majors Jungian Process Scores. This is a measure that no other Jungian-based personality type assessment uses! It addresses the 4 ways we can get information and the 4 ways we process information. Our individual results showed that Both Ben and I scored similarly on Insight (Introverted Intuition). This is one more example of how whole type is not a prison sentence, in that one wouldn’t necessarily expect such a high score in this area from an ESTJ. This common ground created a quick and early bond between us as we created a world of meaning – having serious conversations about everything. It’s a deep behaviour, so we entwine very readily on this.

Extroverted Feeling, the ability to relate, is also high in both of us. Instead of getting angry at each other, Ben and I get curious about each other. We approach each other with admiration. Our differences enhance our lives when one person more readily draws from a different pool of strength. It makes us a better team as we offer each other’s competencies as complements in order to move towards our collective goals.

This piece of the Majors PT Elements assessment can actually be used to indicate where some personal work would really pay off in enhancing a relationship. Hope can be offered to clients with these 8 process scores to be able to DO something about any issues of concern or conflict.

Some Words of Caution and Encouragement

Gary points out that it’s dangerous to pigeonhole people by their native whole type. An unethical example of this mis-use would be in hiring or firing situations in organizations. Jungian assessments are not to be used as screening tools for hiring. Using them in this way could, for example, completely illegitimately exclude someone from jobs when they may have just had a recent negative experience that has nothing to do with how they would interact with a new team.

These personality assessments are meant to encourage the person to be open about themselves in the presence of a life coach, change manager, therapist, teammates, spouse, etc. Bottom line: it’s a discovery tool – not a screening tool.  

Thank you, Gary, for helping Ben and I understand, in the true spirit of diversity, WHY our relationship works so well! It’s extremely powerful to find out who you really are and use that knowledge in personal and business relationships to help improve human interaction on so many levels.

Listen to the full podcast here for more details and to find out more about how the Majors PT Elements could help you better connect with yourself, your partner, your family or your business teams.

Do you have your own story about personality type in your relationships? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com

Judgment, Chaos and Love

chaosToday was one of those days that we knew wouldn’t be easy, but my husband and I decided to take a flexible approach and buckle our metaphorical seatbelts for the bumpy ride. As it turns out, the day ended up being even more frustrating and demoralizing than we could have imagined – in part because of our judgment of others.

Dealing with municipal bureaucracy is never pleasant, but for a confluence of reasons, what should have been a simple, straightforward transaction turned into a large chunk of a day with tempers flaring, several bus rides across town, futile phone calls, walking quite a few blocks in a dust storm, and a fall down some concrete stairs (don’t worry- it was just a surface flesh wound).

We could’ve blamed it on the postal service (if only we’d received the tax bill that we needed to take to the municipality to pay). We could’ve blamed it on our apartment’s property manager (if only she had given us a copy of last year’s bill with account information on it to bring to the municipality, the agent would have had enough information to process our payment). We could’ve blamed it on the municipal agent (if only she weren’t so unfriendly and lazy, she could have easily looked up the correct account in her system and let us pay the bill). We could’ve blamed the municipality (if only they took the kind of credit card we have, we wouldn’t have also had to go to the bank and wait in line for a long time, wasting more of the day). If only, if only, if only!

You get the picture. Lots of blame and judgment to go around, right? And how will that change the outcome? IT WON’T. And certainly not today it didn’t. At a certain point, as we’ve seen today, getting angry and frustrated only seems to lead to a lack of mindfulness that keeps the web of misfires and mishaps occurring. It’s like a big ball of chaos that feeds on itself and keeps growing and clouding clarity. Eventually, it not only sucks one’s energy completely, but also makes for poor in-the-moment decisions that have the potential to affect one’s safety.

So the lesson I’ve learned today is about judgment – and being mindful about what’s going on with us when we find ourselves judging others. Here is a wonderful, quick tool to use to turn judgment into lovingkindess:

Thank you, Mitra Manesh!

We will stop trying to push our agenda and expectations today. We will let go of judging all the people and entities that we could blame for today’s lack of progress and wish them the lovingkindess they need now. That way, we’ll have the energy to form a creative and sensible plan in order to make tomorrow happier and more productive.

Do you have your own story about your plans going awry, your day turning out frustrating – and if and how you judged others for the outcome? Do you practice mindfulness? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com

Holidays vs Holy Days: Presence vs Presents

holy daysWe all know that the holiday season – while “merry and bright” – can be full of grand expectations. There should be peaceful, loving family gatherings where everyone gets along famously. There should be boyfriends and girlfriends and life partners who appear magically to fulfill us in every way. There should be only successful business ventures. Nobody should be lonely… you get the drift.

So, in the holiday spirit, and as we approach a brand new year, Gary shares some profound insights about expectations, acceptance and abundance in our most recent podcast. He discusses his own personal transformation surrounding the holidays, which has led to much greater enjoyment and peace during this time of year.

Gary’s story begins over 23 years ago, while still suffering post-divorce paralysis. His desire to get un-stuck merged with the meditation portion of the 11th step in a 12-Step program. The insight he gained was this: addiction is associated with expectations. He came to call the holiday season, “The Disneyland of Addiction” – a time of high emotionality and expectations where trying to satisfy feelings, similar to a child in the “terrible twos,” takes precedence over principle-based behavior. He realized that this high-emotionality-combined-with-high-expectations can lead to our suffering.

Consequently, Gary explains that holidays are about expectations, while holy days are about being responsible, living by one’s principles, and treating others in a compassionate, respectful manner. Said more simply, the goal of this shift in perspective is to “have my butt and my brain in the same place and time zone.”

Gary’s Buddhist practice comes into play in helping develop daily habits to stay present, aware, and “in” life, moment by moment. This leads to loving-kindness for self and others and puts the “holy” in holy days.

The switch to embracing the notion of holy days at this time of year has allowed Gary to remove himself from the trap of expectations. Life is simpler. Pain doesn’t necessarily go away, but suffering lessens. This leads to an increase in acceptance. This acceptance leads to the development of options and better decision-making – rather than being hung up on a given expectation.

Gary believes that when we hang onto expectations, a tightfistedness sets in that is very controlling and leads to misery (e.g., My cookies didn’t come out right… The kids better behave perfectly in their Christmas best clothing… My sister is being passive-aggressive… Doesn’t Aunt Jane remember I have peanut allergies?… He didn’t call me so my holiday is ruined… I’m surrounded by all these people, but I feel lonely…)

One not-so-obvious option during the seasonal “expectations vs. reality” stupor is to be prepared to still take care of oneself even when plans fail. To actually take that energy from the disappointment and move it into something constructive. And, if a plan does come to fruition, you can move that energy as well into something greater than can be built.

We certainly don’t need to dismiss our heritages and traditions during the holiday season. Our favourite foods, music, activities and cultural traditions should be enjoyed as there is much opportunity for warmth and closeness, and a sense of belonging. AND looking through the lens of holy days instead of holidays can also create abundance and expand the space in which the abundance can grow. Joy can result!

You can listen to Gary’s wisdom and insight on holy days in the podcast here.

We at Aurelius Press wish you much love, joy and abundance in the new year!

Do you have your own story about holiday expectations and transformations? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com

Jungian Psychological Type: Interview with Maryanne DiMarzo, APTi President

JungStampWe were delighted to sit down with Maryanne DiMarzo, the current president of APTi (Association of Psychological Type International), to learn more about the association’s history, where it is now, and where Maryanne sees it heading in the future. Maryanne shares how her leadership role at APTi was woven in with aspects of her personal journey, and how this interconnection has led to her profound commitment to the mission of the organization.

Maryanne begins by describing her journey into type. She loved studying Jung, but observed that some type practitioners administered assessments poorly, and used them to pigeonhole people. She expresses her concern about practitioners still missing the point today, which can have an impact on hiring and firing decisions.

Maryanne felt from very early on that it was important to focus on preferences vs. labeling – and that assessments are meant to help people leverage their results for better human understanding. She explains that in current times, access to type and type products has become enormous (e.g., free online assessments), which can actually lead to a lack of quality.

Joining APTi was key in Maryanne’s journey of learning that there is so much more that can and should be gleaned from type assessments in order to help people. Over time, she has developed a deep commitment to the organization, not only as a leader, but also inasmuch as her experiences with APTi have helped her be a much better executive coach and team builder.

APTi is independent of publishers, and is both product-agnostic and dedicated to high quality. The association’s aim is to help people distinguish between the high quality type assessments and those which are potentially harmful due to un-sound methodology. In other words, if APTi sanctions a type product, that means that the product is based in really good type thinking.

Maryanne discusses the challenges that are present with APTi being product agnostic. She explains that leaving space for different products has invited some controversy. While some may feel that the the organization is furthering and extending the work of Isabel Briggs Myers throughout the world, while remaining inside of her values, others assert that it is straying or departing from her direct heritage (i.e., perceived competition).

Given the disagreement within APTi regarding product agnosticism, we wonder how Maryanne finds a balance while leading an organization in which diversity is a core value. She explains that, as a leader, diversity has, indeed, been a guide – and that she’s dug deep within herself in order to make decisions that will nurture the entire group. As such, she began her presidency by going back to research the history of APTi to understand how it has evolved. And then she set out to understand what is most important to the membership.

APTi logo

In her own private practice, Maryanne describes how she has seen new leaders come in with wonderful ideas, but who got “killed by the culture” because they didn’t understand it. It was important to her not to “make the culture wrong” at APTi – she listens to everyone and looks through different lenses in order to find a common path through the diversity.

Maryanne asserts that the values of APTi are of the utmost importance – and that these values needed to be codified in order to make sure that everyone can find a common framework for basing their organizational decisions.

When asked to characterize her approach to balancing the running of an organization with allowing for diversity, Maryanne offers three pointed questions that she needed to address:

  • How to build common ground around what and why we need to change (e.g., legal and compliance issues)?
  • What do we need to change to – what is the vision for the future of the organization and what is it going to be (since we can’t align people on what we were intended to be)?
  • What does change mean to all of the stakeholders at APTi – the chapters, board, interest areas, the president – and how do we build common conversations and thinking in order to keep the organization whole through the change?

She finds that leaders tend to be good at one or another of those elements, but often make the mistake of not fostering all of them. The result can be that the resistance against change overcomes the will to change.

At its core, APTi is dedicated to providing an independent and high quality voice for psychological type. It is an “international membership organization open to any individual interested in personality type. APTi members come from a variety of backgrounds and professions including business and industry, organizational development, religion, education, psychotherapy and counseling.”

To learn more about APTi and Maryanne, you can listen to the full podcast here.

If you’d like to submit a Jungian-focused blog on living or working with different personality types, please contact Jennifer Rojas, our Blog Editor, at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com.

Wherever I Go, There I Am: Dealing With Violence

Random thoughts/rattlings from a place where a percentage of the population wants to kill you and has been killing and maiming people on the street almost daily for the past few months with knives, meat cleavers, screwdrivers, bullets, cars and scissors:

That split second in-between reaching for the door to go out of your apartment building, onto the street, and feeling the lovely, sunny autumn air on your face – a split second that would normally feel pleasant and hopeful for a person like me, who likes to be “out and about” – is now tainted by, “Wait. What shoes am I wearing? Can I run in these? Could I get away, or would I trip and fall down only to be bloodily devoured like a gazelle on the Serengeti Plain? OK, yeah, I’ve got the pepper spray handy, but what if that’s not enough? What if the blind hatred and rage behind a knife is even stronger?”

What if my choice of footwear today means the difference between life and being hacked into body parts like meat at the butcher?

The physical surroundings outside of my apartment are beautiful – lush, vibrant trees and flowers in an array of gorgeous colours.  The air smells fresh, but no longer welcoming. My brain finds it difficult to reconcile this beauty with what might be lurking behind it.

For an ENFP, who gets her energy from the outside world, these feelings are distressing particularly because the current outside world in my city seems surrealistically scary. Untrustworthy. Nonsensical. That the energy I’d love to soak in from “out there” is unhealthy at best and life-threateningly dangerous at worst.

Daily errands are accompanied by thoughts of, “Let me run out to take care of this quickly. Please let me get to where I’m going without being attacked. OK, I’ve done my task, now please let me get home without getting attacked.”

I need to go out to buy butter, sage and celery. A pleasant walk on a lovely day to collect some items for a holiday of gratitude instead becomes a cost-benefit analysis: “If I die today because I went out, would those items have been worth it? If it’s gonna happen, shouldn’t it be for more ‘important’ things? What would those literally ‘to-die-for’ grocery items actually be?”

If I got attacked and hurt or dead when I chose to go out for celery, sage and butter, would that make me a stupid, trivial ass who deserved it?

You can see how absurd the thought process becomes when one feels threatened. This internal commentary is the antithesis of my hard-wiring, which has always been to feel at ease in the world, with an openness that attracts all kinds of people in random settings wherever I go. Which has brought me beautiful, raw, gratifying human interactions the world over. For me, these human  interactions are the stuff of life.

Life in this place, at this moment, is a challenge to the essence and core of my being. This is what violence and fear can do. And I’m one of the lucky ones so far.

Do you have your own story about things falling apart and your plans going awry (and what you did after that)- personally or in business? Have you experienced living with violence at any level (domestic, professional, geographical)? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com

Suicide Survivors: Interview with Chris Pinkelman of TCN Behavioral Health Services, Inc.

TCN1We recently interviewed Chris Pinkelman, Associate Director of Clinical Services at TCN Behavioral Health Services, Inc., who works with colleges and universities to help at-risk students adapt and integrate into college life.

During this conversation – part of our suicide survivors podcast series – Chris explains that there are many stressors and risk factors for young adults who are leaving home to attend university, and who also live with mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety.

Green County, Ohio, has the most colleges and universities of any county in the state. Because of pharmaceutical advances, many at-risk young adults are now able to go away to university. However, these advances translate into more students coming onto campus without a support system. For instance, Chris highlights how some students may feel a sense of shame and not take their medication. Or they may have difficulty navigating the insurance procedures in order to fill their prescriptions.

As a community behavioural health organization, it was natural for TCN to make a connection with these universities. He describes how TCN would get calls for crisis interventions – e.g., students who stopped taking medications, a death by car accident, the death of a member of a sports team at home for vacation.

TCN knew it was important to be able to talk to staff and be available to students, but the organization didn’t initially have relationships with anyone on these campuses. They needed to connect with counseling and health centers in order to begin building relationships and increasing awareness.

Chris shared that one of the keys to success in providing a support system was the health care provider getting in with the schools and working with the residence assistance programs. Students working in the Health Care Coalition were tapped for creating videos, brochures, etc.

TCN, in conjunction with college and university assistance programs and staff, along with city, county and state services, was able to create a series of recommendations that can help parents and students prepare ahead of time to facilitate integration and lower risks.

TCN, as a suicide prevention coalition, feels it can make a big difference if campus professionals and students know that there is a resource as part of residence life, and included in orientation for freshman – e.g., the kinds of warning signs that could present themselves to indicate that a fellow classmate, dorm mate or roommate might need help.

Students and parents working ahead of time can help reduce the sense of shame that can occur with mental illness and addiction. This is especially important if the community lacks an understanding of the difficulties.

To hear more about this important program, listen to the full podcast here.

If you are feeling suicidal or need help for yourself or someone you know, please consult IASP’s Suicide Prevention Resources to find a crisis center anywhere in the world. In the US, call toll-free 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a free suicide prevention service or visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

Are you a survivor of suicide or a professional who works in the suicide prevention field? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others or build connection and awareness, please feel free to contact Jennifer Rojas (our Blog Editor and General Manager) at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com

Suicide Survivors: Interview with Josh Rivedal, Jack-of-Many-Trades

iampossibleprojectcoverOne of the recent interviews in our suicide survivors podcast series features Josh Rivedal – author, actor, arts entrepreneur, and global speaker on suicide prevention, mental health, and diversity.

The conversation begins with Josh discussing how people want to avoid the topic of suicide like the plague. He lost both his paternal grandfather and then his father to suicide – and no one was allowed to talk about it in the house. He discusses the sense of shame that his father had about his grandfather’s suicide and how his father took his own life on the day his divorce from Josh’s mother was to be finalized.

In turn, as with other survivors, this increased the odds of Josh considering and completing suicide. Josh feels that knowledge of the facts would have helped him avoid his own eventual suicidal crisis.

Josh describes how he used work hard to avoid his problems, which resulted in a slow slide into clinical depression. This led to him considering suicide. His mother thankfully had the courage to ask him if he was considering suicide, and encouraged and helped him to find professional help.

Josh’s recovery process led him to the decision to speak out and help others get their stories out to the public, as part of a movement to prevent and recover from suicide.

After his father’s suicide, Josh created a one-man show entitled, “Kicking My Blue Genes In the Butt,” centering on his relationship with his father.  He shares the impact that the interaction with the audience has had – not only on attendees of the show, but on himself. He now speaks between 35-40 times a year to survival groups, colleges and high schools, and juvenile detention centers.

In 2014, Josh launched The i’Mpossible Project, designed to encourage others to tell their stories.

He is also now working with venture capital firms and entrepreneurs on learning how to re-frame failure, along with his work with LOSSTeams and postvention.

Josh advises that coming out of the isolation by helping others can give purpose to one’s life. He describes the significance of each of us telling our story, and the fact that we don’t have to be a professional writer or actor to do so. Here are just a few of the projects that Josh has worked on to help reduce the stigma of suicide and help others in their healing processes:

You can listen to the interview with Josh here.

If you are feeling suicidal or need help for yourself or someone you know, please consult IASP’s Suicide Prevention Resources to find a crisis center anywhere in the world. In the US, call toll-free 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a free suicide prevention service or visit SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

Are you a survivor of suicide or a professional who works in the suicide prevention field? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others or build connection and awareness, please feel free to contact Jennifer Rojas (our Blog Editor and General Manager) at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com

Wherever I Go, There I Am (Part 1)


Aurelius Press is all about forging connection amongst people. This connection is based on “the story” – your story, our story, your client’s story. Thus, I’d like share a bit of my personal narrative here, which will help illuminate what ultimately brought me to Aurelius Press. While the details are unique to my specific experience, it is my hope that there are elements of my tale that many of you will find familiar to your own journey.

FIVE (5) years ago, I arrived in Israel with 3 suitcases, a lap top, a cat and the wrong husband.

I had, for the previous 5 years, been fighting a long, protracted and demoralizing immigration battle to bring my husband back to the United States. Not only was it a very challenging case, but the one official in charge of reading and deciding our case let it sit for two years before arbitrarily deciding he just didn’t want to read it. Which meant another legal action on my part – just to get the person to read and decide.

Of course (in retrospect), the decision was NO. Which ultimately led to a last ditch attempt to bring my husband and me together in the same place so we could finally begin our life as a married couple – 5 years after we were married. Israel allowed us to do that. So, after about a year of planning, I gave up a 10+ year job, my home, and my entire support network of loved ones.

I flooded even more financial (I’d already gone bankrupt) and emotional resources into making my marriage work, and arrived in a foreign land, knowing only the Hebrew I’d learned in grade school. With no work lined up. No people connections. But I was gonna make this work! I was going to show “them”! I’d already poured everything into this mission of getting my husband back, one way or another, one country or another. I was going to make it happen, against all odds.  I was going for broke. For love!

Turns out, once we had the opportunity to live together for more than 2 weeks at a time on vacation in a Central or South American country, it became very clear that we were not the right people for each other. Not only “not right” – but very, very WRONG. I’ll spare you the gory details, so let’s just say it involved a heady (and now right-there-glaringly-in-my face) mix of emotional abuse and manipulation, dishonesty, unbridgeable cultural gaps, disrespect and complete loss of self-esteem. Certainly, not love. Within 6 weeks of finally coming together on the same soil, we were done. DONE. After all that…

There followed many a plea from loved ones over Skype from 5,000 miles away to “Just get on the first plane and come home… Your job will take you back… You only went there because of him, so there’s no reason to stay…” You get the picture.  My immediate, superficial reaction was that I couldn’t go back because I was just too ashamed. Horrifically mortified. After all that time and effort, people expected a happy ending. People who were so supportive (even knowing we were wrong for each other), people who helped us financially… I couldn’t face them. I couldn’t bring myself to let them down with my epic failure.

And yet, there was something else (besides embarrassment) – something deeper – that made me stay to find out what would happen. I wasn’t sure what it was at the time, but now I get it. One of my friends and former colleagues, a wise man (and sometimes a wiseguy!), Gary Monti, lovingly and repeatedly asked me the question, “Who’s the one person who’s always present at every problem you have?”

And I ultimately had to accept the notion of an old quote that Gary likes to reference:

Wherever I go, there I am.

And thus began my “hero’s journey” – alone in a foreign country with no job, no car, not knowing enough of the language, no support system, savings dwindling, a broken marriage, trampled self-esteem, and racked with shame and disappointment.

Gotta start somewhere, right?

Stay tuned for what followed…

Do you have your own story about things falling apart and your plans going awry (and what you did after that)- personally or in business? If you’d like share your story on our blog because you think it could help others and build connection, please feel free to contact Jennifer (also our Blog Editor) at jennifer.rojas@aureliuspress.com