Eps 119: “Honey and Onions” [Insights for Idealists] Guest, Alessandra Pigni

Eps 119: “Honey and Onions” [Insights for Idealists] Guest, Alessandra Pigni

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Today’s guest is Alessandra Pigni. (pronounced: péen – yee)
She will be joining me and the rest of the group selected for the On Being Gathering in February, 2018.

Her book is entitled:
Idealist’s Survival Kit, The: 75 Ways to Prevent Burnout
(The book is published by Parallax Press which is the publisher founded by mindfulness teacher, peace activist, and Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Han.)

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The Familiar Enemies

RiskBelow are some of my “field notes” I collected from this extended and uncut interview with Brené Brown on Krista Tippet’s show “On Being”


[emotionally toxic / unhealthy] people suffer from similar traits:

• Perfectionism

• Self-righteousness

• Tying self-worth and personal value to productivity and success

• Wanting to perform and get validation

• Using exhaustion as a badge of honor

• The quest for certainty


• The enemy of creativity is comparison.

• Vulnerability is the core the heart and the center of meaningful human experience.

For woman the biggest fear/risk looks like this: “do it all and do it well and look perfect doing it”.
For man it looks like this: “do not appear to be weak”.

If people have never really struggled with adversity it shows up as hopelessness.

Hope is not an emotion; it’s a cognitive behavior process that is a function of struggle [and resiliency]. It doesn’t happen in the absence of pain or when we are spared pain.

Our defining moments (what makes us who we really are) happen not in joy but in adversity.

(Vulnerability is uncertainly, risk and emotional exposure ….and it’s courage. —my note: all things artists and innovators MUST have.)

When we don’t have space to be vulnerable and have fears we become dangerous.

If these sound like helpful, juicy nuggets to you, listen here:

Demi Moore as a mirror to the human condition

click for photo source


In the latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar, actress Demi Moore replies to the question, “What scares you?” by saying,

“If I were to answer it just kind of bold-faced, I would say what scares me is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m really not lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved. That there’s something fundamentally wrong with me … What scares me the most is not knowing and accepting that just about everything is not in my control. That makes me feel unsafe.”

Some people may claim the Hollywood starlet is speaking of a “God-shaped void” as Blaise Pascal once referred to it. But wait just a minute…

Not everybody will admit to this sort of thing. Some never gaze inward long enough to see it. But there it is. While many won’t realize what what the jilted Moore is talking about for themselves, I think this women has hit on a fundamentally human frailty fraught with universal relevancy. (And it has virtually nothing to do, in fact, with a certain shaggy-headed addition to the Two And A Half Man sitcom.) This frailty, I might add, is not actually negative, as we might first imagine, but rather part of the vulnerability that is the stuff of being human.

It’s these same underlying and exquisitely human fears that we mask, medicate, bury, avoid, deflect, or anesthetize, that cause all manner of destructive behaviors and coping mechanisms. For Demi, who was just hospitalized for stress-related health issues (namely exhaustion…and likely malnutrition), it can create potent consequences. It’s something wealth, influence, fame, accolades, and beauty doesn’t seem to ameliorate. Curious, no?

For many religion or spiritual practice helps to blunt the reality of our human predicament, but clearly that alone doesn’t seem to actually mend the situation. I refer not to just the situation of being mortal, but of being fundamentally impotent. Rarely is this gnawing sense placated for long. Demi, for one, is connected to the practice of Kabblah, but it hasn’t helped this core need.

Though her vulnerability and frailties are up for public scrutiny, many possess the same sorts of fears and maladies, and even despair, but go unnoticed.

To me, our condition seems unmendable…purposefully, that is.

Christians may argue they are the exception; they feel a great sense of hope because of belief in Jesus Christ, arriving to our world as the incarnation of God to make a pathway back to God. Alas, Redemption! Closure, right? Yet a cursory survey of believers (even 3 minutes scanning twitter feeds) show they too are rife with the same sorts of problems as Moore, and Jesus hasn’t seemed to fix that for them.

(The particulars of why are widely speculated and even hotly contested. Some call for more faith and prayer, while others osmotically move into greater embracing of “the mysteries”.)

The funny things is, I get Demi. I feel those things too. I wrestle with them, and I’ve taken up the journey to walk through all the rough patches, which are aplenty.

I think it’s high time to bring what it means to be human out it the open.

A kind of unlearning happens as we grow wiser, and the sort of acceptance of our weaknesses may take hold as we become more acquainted with our human condition. Maturity I think it’s called. The “Will we ever get there?” question lingers.

What do you think about Demi’s quote?

Do you relate to her, or do you see things differently?

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