Joining us today is…Janine Shamos
Why can’t I be a ballerina AND fly helicopters AND be a microbiologist who loves cats, collects shoes and tea, writes children’s stories and cooks?
I have been working the in the field of education and training, advocacy and human rights, mental health, and executive and transformation coaching for over 20 years. I offer coaching, mediation, counselling, training, consulting and research services. I am shaped by my intuition and see life through a prism of emotion, compassion, and deeper meaning. When I find something that sparks my imagination, I bring a passion and an energy that sometimes thrusts me into the spotlight – although this is not where I want to be.
My experience, work and expertise lies over a large portfolio of skills. Having worked in the NGO field for 20 years, I have assumed different roles and responsibilities that would often be covered by separate departments or divisions in the corporate market. When it comes to new ideas, I want to go out and experience things, and I don’t hesitate to step out of my comfort zone to do so. I am fascinated by new ideas, both in terms of developments in fields I am already familiar with, and when new subjects come along. I believe that there are no irrelevant actions: every shift in sentiment, every move and every idea is part of something bigger.
Please tell us about your journey.
Shew… I have taken a long and rather complicated path to where I am now. As a teen I volunteered in an orphanage for HIV positive kids and the heart of volunteering and NGO work stayed with me. I studied human rights law then, via make-up artistry and moved on to psychology. I have always been involved in advocacy and resilience work and I suppose my ‘mission’ has always been to work with people to reach their potential and see inner beauty that they didn’t know existed. Business and money have never been my strong points – I am driven by my belief that people are good in essence and that we are all much stronger than we ever think we could be.
How did you discover your passion?
I truly wish I could say that I have discovered my ONE passion… but there are so many interests I have and so many things I want to experience that life really is a work in progress. Something that really hit home when I was teaching was how many girls feel uncomfortable in their bodies. As a girl who often still feels “not good enough” in terms of beauty and body shape, I could really relate to my students’ struggles and fears. There is so much pressure to be ‘perfect’ even though no-one perfect doesn’t exist and no-one tells you how to achieve it anyway. There aren’t good role models out there for girls who don’t conform to a type. And so the Chic Chicks Guide was borne… The programme aims to guide girls and women in reaching their potential; in enhancing their strengths; learning resilience; taking back their personal power – and doing it all with feminine grace, elegance and poise. It doesn’t matter what you look like – what shape you are, what hair you have, what size shoes you wear or whether you can strut in heels. What matters is your belief in yourself: if you have that, everyone sees it too.
A verse of a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer is my guide in my life. She says: “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.”
What does social responsibility mean to you?
I don’t take things at face value. I look for underlying motives and causes – which does cause me to lose some sleep. Despite that, I thrive on the ability to question the status quo and explore the alternatives. I enjoy pushing boundaries and exploring ideas. I believe that we are part of a greater network and we’re all interconnected somehow. There can be no good without the greater good and we all have a responsibility, no matter how rich or poor we are, to make someone else’s day better and to influence our world positively. There are so many Rights’ Groups in the world and I believe if we were all more conscious of our responsibilities as human beings, we would have our freedoms and human rights. I was brought up believing that you cannot complain about the world if you are not positively contributing towards changing it. I believe that the world can be an ugly, brutal place but it can also be meaningful and beautiful – IF that is what we want to see. Be getting involved with our country, with others, we learn to see the beauty – and we make more of it. Politics is politics – it doesn’t really ever change. But our social world – that matters and we can change it.
What can you not live without?
I really could not live without my cats! Seriously…. My cats (Bennington and Mia Katya) are my safety and my peace; they are the ones who stay sane in an insane world. I cannot imagine ever living without seeing people smile or without the African sky. As exciting as living in places like New York or Dublin sound – I would miss home terribly.
How do you keep your head up high all the time?
Honestly… I don’t. I think too often strong women feel they have to put up a brave front and be superwomen; when they feel they have to be all things to all people. We don’t – these are chains we put on ourselves. We let our own high expectations and standards get us down when other people don’t perform at the same level. It’s tough to admit that the world isn’t perfect, that people will let you down, that you will have fat days, when there are times when you can’t give a single drop of energy because you have none to spare. There are times when I am exhausted – emotionally and physically – when all I want to do is hide under the duvet. Sometimes I do – other times I find the will and motivation to get out and do it. We all have moments when we wish you were 3 again! I have learnt to listen to my heart, body and soul and take time out if I need to. Time out can mean a drive through a beautiful spot, sitting under a tree, buying a HappyMe™ bubble tea, or getting a new tattoo… I also have a support system of people that I can just be ‘me’ with – and that helps too.
What is it that people don’t know about you?
I am terrified of walking into room full of people or a restaurant alone… I have had to learn how to do it – and I do it well – but it still scares me.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Something I never share is Nutella with a little teaspoon I bought in Prague, straight from the bottle! Then I hide the evidence. It’s even better with a bottle of Italian champagne.