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Episode 108: Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay with Cyndie Spiegel

Brief summary of show:

Have you ever experienced profound loss and struggled to find joy in the midst of it?

In this episode, Cyndie Spiegel shares about her new book, Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay. She also talks about the concept behind the name of her book and talks about how fear and gratitude can in fact co-exist at the same time.

She gives practical tips on how to create more microjoys in your life, and how to embrace 'the pivot' when faced with unexpected changes.

Cyndie Spiegel is an in-demand keynote speaker and a true force of nature who rallies audiences to lead more boldly and refine their mindsets for good. She is also the founder of several communities for women including Dear Grown Ass WomenTM, a community platform elevating women over 35.

Prior to building a successful consulting & speaking practice, she spent fifteen years in the New York fashion industry. In addition to holding a Masters Degree in Global Business, Cyndie is also a TEDx speaker, a former adjunct professor at Parsons, the New School for Design and Fashion Institute of Technology, as well as being NY certified in Applied Positive Psychology and a 500-hour trained yoga and meditation teacher. She is also a scholar of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

She is a sought-after facilitator and transformational speaker for creative conferences, brands and organizations and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Glamour Magazine, Teen Vogue and The Huffington Post.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:40] The premise of the book and why it's built upon loss

  • [4:10] ​​The concept behind the name of her book

  • [7:15] Can you have fear and gratitude at the same time?

  • [8:35] Getting through feeling like you're being punched in the gut

  • [11:20] ​​Tips to create more micro joy

  • [18:20] How to embrace ‘the pivot’

Notes from Natalie:

Connect with Cyndie

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

Natalie: Transform your thinking with micro joy is a great way to find peace and positivity in life's difficult season.

Natalie: Hi everyone, it's Natalie. Hope you're doing well and your week is off to a nice start. We all go through it. Illnesses, relationship issues, work problems, money issues, you name it. It's really just a part of life. I hear you. I wanna help you today. You're gonna love my guest. I enjoy talking to her so much because no matter what season of life you are in, Cindy Spiegel is there to help.

And her book is a perfect example of that. She is a renowned author. And thought leader. She's quite a story to tell about her season of hardships from a death in the family to a medical diagnosis. A very scary one in fact, and yet she found a way to get through that storm, and now she's helping other people do the same.

She's the author of the book, micro Joyce, finding Hope, especially when Life is Not Okay. One Reviewer says this Full of heart and truth. This book is an essential companion to remind you. That you're not alone. So thank you for listening today. Be sure to share this episode with someone you think might need to hear it, and go to the show notes today to subscribe to my newsletter and for a whole lot more information.

Let's get to the interview with Cindy Spiegel.

Cindy, what a pleasure and a joy I'll say to talk to you. I'm excited to hear about the process of micro joys and what it means and what we can learn from everything you've put into

Cyndie: your book. Ah, the process of writing micro joys was really special to me because, and actually before I get into that, I'll just share a bit about what Micro Joys is, right?

What I'm referring to when I say micro joys are these easily accessible moments of joy that are available to us regardless of our current circumstances. Mm. And the reason that matters is because even when we are struggling and we are going through difficult things, we can still find moments of respite in micro joice.

So the, the entire premise of, of writing this book for me was about healing after going through a whole lot of things in a very short amount of time in 2020 where I experienced profound loss. My nephew was killed. Four months later. My mother passed away a month after that. My 48 year old brother had a stroke and went into cardiac arrest.

After two and a half months in the icu. By the grace of God, he made it home. And within a month of that, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So I share that to say that this book came out of that experience. And. You know, I've always been an optimist. I've wrote a book about positive thinking, like that's my jam.

And when I was in the midst of the hardest things, I could not, and I did not want to positive think my way out, and Micro Joys really became my way of accessing some version of my myself. That I recognize because truly when we're going through that much, we don't recognize ourselves. Mm-hmm. And I didn't recognize myself.

And so the process of writing this book happened within the same year of my breast cancer diagnosis. Mm-hmm. And it really became quite healing to share these essays and these stories. And when I set out to write this book, you know, I don't even know that the word micro joy was, was intended to say, yeah, where did that come from?

Natalie: I love, I love

that, but where, where did you get that

Cyndie: concept? In name? You know, the concept itself is nothing, and I say this in the book, I didn't make up the concept. I think I just, you know, I sort of came up with a name that made sense to me for what the concept was. Mm-hmm. I. After my nephew passed away, we were, as a family, obviously very actively grieving and going through a photo album and laughing through the tears.

Right. And in that moment what I recognized is we could hold two different truths at the same time. Mm-hmm. We could hold two very different feelings at the same time. Joy in one hand and grief in the other. And so I very publicly on social media, started to move through my. Looking for whatever, not even looking, but noticing what was directly in front of me, even in the midst of my own sorrow and grief.

And I, I just started calling them micro joys because it was the first thing that came to mind. Mm. And they weren't always necessarily, Small, but they were easily accessible. And so after calling them that for maybe a few months on social media, people started to instant message me. You're well. I just really showed my age.

Instant message. Is that a, I think it's DM now. Who was Im

Natalie: Yeah, I knew what you were talking about.

Cyndie: Right? Of course you did. They dmd me and, and shared their own micro joys and so it sort of, sort of grew out of. Over the next few years and, and that's, that was the origin story of it, at least.

Well, a few

Natalie: things that come to mind with all of this.

First is this concept scientifically in your brain that you can't have fear while

Cyndie: also having gratitude.

Natalie: Like those things don't coincide. And I've heard that. I've never looked up the research of who, who discovered that. Mm-hmm. But I love that concept. Mm-hmm. That they can't coexist at the very same.

And that's, that's what I see in what, in, in everything you're doing is if you Sure. Positive thinking, but if you're turning that fear or that whatever it is into something else, then you're, you're just changing that, those neuro pathways in your brain.

Cyndie: Yeah. And I think it happen, you know, it doesn't happen overnight.

It happens over time. Yeah. But the, I, the idea with micro joys is really also I think allowing ourselves to simply, Feel the difficult things and feel the beauty in spite of it. Mm-hmm. If that makes sense. Mm-hmm. Yeah. You know, so, so it's sort of saying even when I am going through the most ordinary of days, what already exists that I could notice, because it really comes down to presence and noticing what's there when, when it, when it comes to recognizing micro joice, you know, did you, and we do.

Natalie: Did you get to a place as many of us do where it just feels like you're being like punched in the gut? Like, I mean, obviously one thing after the other, and we all go through seasons of difficulty like that, like you're going along for a year, you're like, Hey, things are okay for a little bit, and then you get punched in the gut and then another one, and you went through that all within a shorter period of time.

did you have a point though even being, being a positive person where. Wanted to give up.

Cyndie: I don't think I ever wanted to give up, but what I was clear on was I didn't recognize myself and I didn't know what to do with that. So giving up wasn't necessarily part of it, but giving in was. So there was a complete sense of surrender, meaning I had to step back and say, Cindy, you are not in control of any of this.

And the more. Sort of pushed up against that. The more I needed to be in control, the harder it was, you know? And so there was this moment, and I think it was really after my diagnosis that I just said, I'm, I give, I give in. Like whatever this is, I'm gonna manage it the best that I can. I'm not going to try and find a silver lining.

I'm simply going to be, what, what is, oh, that's

Natalie: interesting. I'm not gonna try to find the silver lining because I do, I, I try and I think a lot of us go. Stinks or sucks, whatever you wanna call it. Yeah. But there's gotta be some good, and we look for a silver lining instead of just accepting and saying, this is just my path.

Yeah. This isn't what I thought it was going

Cyndie: to be. And it's what I'm going through, right? Like I think, I think sometimes silver linings can be helpful, but oftentimes they start to lean towards toxic positivity because they don't allow us to simply feel the difficult things. And for me, feeling the difficulty is what allowed me to move.

Forward slowly. I'm still moving forward, but the idea that I should push those things down and look for something good in that moment, I think is inherently a bit dangerous because we really do need to feel all of it. And if we don't feel it now, it's going to come up in other ways. Yeah, and so as much as I love the idea of finding a silver lining, I also have really come to appreciate that we don't always have to do.

Natalie: Yeah. Okay. Let's, let's get some more tips Yes. From your book, from your experience, ways

Cyndie: to do this,

Natalie: you know, without being just, Pollyanna about it. If we wanna say like, like sometimes I simplify it maybe too much. I'm having a bad day and I'll stop and go. At least the sun's shining, you know?

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. The air is clear, like I just kind of have to switch my.

Yeah. But give us some tips, some ways to start doing this and get

Cyndie: started. Yeah, so I think the very first thing that I always think about when it comes to micro joys is allowing ourselves to fully be present. Now that sounds very easy.

It sounds like something we know how to do, but the truth is, is that we are so busy all the time that we're not paying attention to what's around. So there's this beautiful anxiety activity and it's called the 5 4 3 2 1 method. Are you familiar with this? No. Give it to us. It's like, it's like for look at, you see name five things that you can see, four things that you can feel, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste.

Okay? And believe it or not, you can do all of that in under two. But what that does by using your five senses is it inherently brings you back to the present moment. Mm-hmm. So you're noticing things that you hear that you otherwise may be moving too quickly to notice. You're noticing things around you that you otherwise would be moving too quickly to be aware of.

Like the other night when I was walking again, generally I'm going, going, going, I'm from New York City. We move and there was a little bunny that ran past. And I thought, oh my goodness, how sweet is this moment? And I could have easily missed it. Mm-hmm. So that 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 exercise is actually a really easy one to practice every day.

Even if it's one time a day for two minutes, just notice what's around you. Because micro joice, again, you know, they are really very much about noticing what's there, not having to reach for them and not having to find them. It's simply a noticing of what is in front of you. So that, that is one of my favorites.

Another one is documenting ordinary moments. So I have 27,000 pictures on my phone, and I have to tell you, most of them are not interesting to anyone else. But because I am such a visual person, it means that if I am. If I'm going through something, I can take a moment and use technology as our friend in this case, scroll through the pictures on my phone and it instantly brings me back to that moment.

Mm-hmm. So it may be the perfect cup of coffee that I had. Right. But it pulls me out of everything swirling around me. Yeah. And again, brings me back to the present moment. So the, the idea of documenting the ordinary has been a really powerful. Exercise for me in writing the book, but also in really uncovering and discovering micro joy.

Those are two. Those are two.

Natalie: Okay. I love that. the concept of, I thought maybe during the pandemic we all learned to slow down because we were forced to slow down. Yes. But we

Cyndie: just ramped it right back up, didn't we? No. So,

Natalie: oh, it's like, ah, I can finally race again and overdo everything and make my to-do list long again and.

It's like, wait a minute, did we not learn this lesson?


Cyndie: learned it when we had to learn it, and then we unlearned it very quickly cuz we're at lessons and that's, that's what we do. You

Natalie: know, I went right back to being so, so busy. Yeah. Well what else? Give me some other, some other things you've learned from writing the book in, in how people have


Cyndie: applied this to life.

Yeah. Choosing. You know, even in the midst of the hardest things or the most ordinary things, like choose humor. Yeah. I, I remember at one point going outside with my shirt inside out. Now I, I could have like done the whole thing that we do, which is like, oh your goodness, I can't believe my shirt's inside out.

I was with a girlfriend and I just went, well, I guess it's inside out for the night. And we laughed a little bit and we cheers to it and we kept it moving and it's. Sounds very trivial, and I do understand that. But we have a choice in those moments, right? Yeah. It's like, are we gonna take this s are we gonna take ourselves too seriously or are we just gonna go with it and say, listen, there are worse things in the world mm-hmm.

Than my shirt being on inside out. So whenever we can, you know, choose humor. Children are amazing at this. Adults we're, we're not as good as we used to be. So I think really practicing that and, and if you can't. Find that within yourself. Allow yourself to be around children because they are amazing when it comes to this.

Yeah. And I say this as somebody with no children, you know, like kids just know how to be funny and, and find humor. Mm-hmm. In this, in the mundane, and it's a beautiful thing to see. So allowing yourself to experience humor as often as possible.

Natalie: Yeah. And kids, that's a great way to think of it too, is think like a kid, like they don't have the complications.

They're able to see the joys That's right. In such a different light. It's one of the reasons we were talking a moment ago before we started recording about teaching. And for me it's like, so life giving because it is in high schoolers. Some people would be like, oh, don't put me around high schoolers.

Yeah. I find it so life-giving, like they're funny. They're fun. And they see joys where I have to stop when I wanna get serious with them, I have to stop and say, oh no, this is good. This is good. Yeah. We can find the fun in this. Mm-hmm. And high schoolers are pretty good at doing

Cyndie: that. Yeah. Isn't it amazing though, like as adults, we really do lose sight of that.

Mm-hmm. You know, which, which leads me to another thought when it comes to micro rejoice, and again, high schoolers very good at this curiosity. Mm-hmm. Be curious. Right? We move through the world with a sort of a lens of knowing everything. Mm-hmm. Or knowing everything that we need to know. Mm-hmm. And when we are curious about other people, right.

Like the, the idea of you even having this podcast, there's an internal curiosity. Right. And when we are curious about other people, we experience joy in new, in different. Yeah, sometimes it's hearing somebody else's story. It's listening to someone else's lived experience. So being curious about all things as often as you can also leads to many, many surprise micro joys.

Natalie: You know, that's interesting because I, I tell my kids one, two of which are in college. When you're nervous about something, just ask. It's such an easy way around things like one had a job interview and you know, what they gonna, what are they gonna ask me? He said, if you get nervous and it feels uncomfortable, just start asking them questions.

That's such a great, it breaks that advice. It break Well, it's, it's, I'm a journalist, so, you know. Yeah. I love that. Some questions so good. Yes, yes. It's yes, but it's such an easy way at any age, at any stage, in any uncomfortable situation or social situation. To ask people about themselves or their family or where they're from or, you know, it, it breaks that ice.


Cyndie: Yeah. And it gives us this moment to sort of, again, I think, to step away from what is true for us and listen to what is true for someone else. Mm-hmm. It expands our mind in so many ways. It allows us to discover joy in so many new ways. It's it's just eternally a good practice, you know? Yeah.

That, that practice of curiosity. So much more of that. I agree. Yeah.

Natalie: Well, what have you learned from writing a book? You know, you told me about your, your past, at least before we started recording. People might not know from the fashion industry and here you write this book on something totally different and it's changed your course, you.

Probably didn't think when you were younger this would be your

Cyndie: course. I certainly didn't, you know, this is my second book that I've published and you know, it was a decade ago that I left the fashion industry. Neither of my books is about anything I ever thought I would write about. But I think that's the beauty of.

Pivoting. I think that's the beauty of doing what is not expected either from yourself or from others, is that we just never know what is in store for us when we are curious enough to follow that path, you know, similarly to what you're doing today. And so I've learned, I've learned a whole lot over the course of writing books, but truly something that I think is most powerful to me was understanding.

Micro joys were important to me, but they're not only important to me. In writing this book, I recognize that so many of us are finding such value in that, and the reason I share that is because we all have these beautiful gifts to give, but sometimes we think they don't matter or they don't matter to anyone outside of ourselves.

But the second we open up just a little bit and share them with other people, we realize that there is so much impact from our words and our wisdom.

Natalie: Yeah. We live in such a anxious society and I, I see it even with fun, funny teenagers and, and so many of my friends and adults and listeners who are dealing with high levels of anxiety.

And it seems maybe oversimplified, but it is so effective. To revert and to find the micro joice. Mm-hmm. Well, I wanna give people a chance to follow you, your wisdom and um, your advice. So give us a little bit more on what you're up to. You. Do you have another book in mind?

Cyndie: I not just yet. You know, this book is six weeks out, but I have to tell you, it's amazing cuz everyone's always like, okay, what's next?

And I'm like, oh my goodness, what's next? Oh my goodness, let

Natalie: me

Cyndie: breathe. Just wanna breathe for a minute and then I'll tell you what's next. Enjoy this

Natalie: book that

Cyndie: you wrote. Truly. I'm like, I don't, yes. There'll be many more books that much I know is true. But I don't know what's next. What's next is what's, what needs to happen next?

I am a speaker, so I will be around the country speaking. Okay. What's next personally is I'm going to Israel at the end of the month with storytellers and journalists, and so that's gonna be a really good time. Honestly, I have not felt this. Open to so many creative opportunities that have come my way in a long time.

So I'm just here to welcome whatever is next, but I don't need to know what it is right now.

Natalie: I'm so glad that you just said that because I'm guilty of, and I'm working on this, I am guilty of always having a thing like, okay, finish that. What's this? Yes. But to just

Cyndie: breathe and see what

Natalie: comes next is so be.

We all need. You did. You just gave us a tip without knowing you were giving us a tip.

Cyndie: I have to just tell you this briefly before I get too, too many uh, kudos for that. The day after pub day for my book, I reached out to my entire editing team, my publisher, and my agent, and I was like, okay, what do we do now?

So it's not that I don't feel that it's just six weeks out. I have a little bit more perspective. Yeah. Where now I'm like, all right, Cindy, like, I think my agent was like, Cindy, chill. Like, you need enjoy here. Yeah. Yeah. So it, it is also in my DNA to do the same. So please don't judge too harshly. It's just with perspective.

It's a beautiful place to say, you know what, I'm just gonna breathe for now. I think that's

Natalie: wonderful. Okay. So. Social media. I'm gonna, I'll put the links, but I want people to follow because you just have so many great things. Oh, can they

Cyndie: find you? Thank you. Mm-hmm. It's very easy because everything is at my name.

So it's cindy and it's c Y n d i e. And it's also at Cindy Spiegel on Instagram and on LinkedIn, essentially anywhere you wanna find me, it's my name. And also Dear Grown s Women, and that's a platform for folks 35 and older women, 35 and older, but they're very accessible on the. I love that

Natalie: super well, Cindy, thanks so much.

I appreciate it. I'm gonna tell my high schoolers later this afternoon, I'm teaching. I'm gonna tell them all about micro joys. Oh my goodness. Yeah. We'll bring it to the younger generation too.

Cyndie: Yes, please. Thank you so much for having me. It was such a delight to talk to you. Thanks, you

Natalie: too. Hope to talk soon.

Enjoy Israel and I can't wait to hear

Cyndie: about that. Thank you. Thank you. Same. I can't wait to be there.

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