Josephine Mariposa on The Writers Hour - Creative Conversations with Janine Bolon

Josephine Mariposa – Anything is Possible23 min read

Janine Bolon: Hi, welcome to the show. This is Janine Bolon. And with all the shows when I am able to have a guest on, I get incredibly excited because of the amazing wisdom, knowledge base, and just skill sets that different people or different guests have to have for this show. One of the things I want to share with you about today’s guest who is Josephine Mariposa, not only is she an author, but she is a differently-abled activist. She has a life after trauma kind of coach and she is a mother of four. Her life basically changed forever after a traumatic spine injury and she has a wonderfully inspirational book called Anything Is Possible. It debuted and it has been on the top 100 bestseller list on Amazon on several of their lists. So, the real quick sum-up of this book and soon we will get to our guest is after she spent two years in hospital with no diagnosis — mind you, they finally went through a countless invasive test. Josephine was finally diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder and has since rebuilt and transformed her entire life. She does it with her own unique sense of humor which I can attest to. I absolutely love her humor. She has managed to help her condition. She took it head-on basically — just went right head-on, and she makes sure that she is managing her life. She does not allow her condition to manage her. Despite her diagnosis, Josephine has always been determined to live an authentic and fulfilled life at home — at her home deep in the English countryside with her family. She has written the book Anything Is Possible to share not only her story but really the techniques that she uses to help people cope in experience the trauma that they had so that they can be inspired to move on and make a real-life change as opposed to living according to someone else’s roadmap. Thank you for being with us today, Josephine.

Josephine Mariposa: Well, thank you very much for having me. I am happy to be here.

Janine: Yes, so, quite the journey that you had, I only know a little bit of it even though I have known you for several years now but it is one of those things that when people are experiencing and going through various types of trauma, it is a total journey in and of itself. So, let us just start with the basics because you have so much to offer people with the systems and the techniques that you have brought on board, and that is why did you write the book? Let us start with the basics.

Josephine: I was in the hospital for two years, and a lot of people who had a diagnosis got support, they got a dedicated nurse or counseling, and there was nothing for me because I had an undiagnosed condition. I had the idea to write a book, but I really was not well enough to do it when I came to the hospital. And when from there, I had a friend who has the same condition as me in America, and I got a phone call from her sister to say that unfortunately, she had died due to the pandemic. And then the sister said to me, “Have you written your book yet? And I went, “No, I do not know where to start.”

Janine: Nothing like having somebody’s sister contact you and go, “Oh, and by the way, do you remember?” A lot of writers talk to us about that that they get these bonks on their heads. So, yes, please continue.

Josephine: There were lots of coincidences in my life, and I decided, “Okay, this must be a nudge.” And I told her, “I do not know.” I know what I want to say, but I do not know where to begin, and she said, “Well, I could help you with that. I am a published author.” And I thought, “Well, I have got to do it now.” And COVID putting us inside for months on and was the idea of writer’s retreat. So, that is how it all started.

Janine: And that is the thing, you were in the English countryside, and I know a lot of listeners are all over the world that depends on what country you are in. But I remember the English, they were on lockdown right so quickly for the pandemic and it lasted a very long time relative to what other countries had to go on. So, I just remember —

Josephine: [inaudible]

Janine: Yes, you are still there, right? You are still living there.

Josephine: Yes. Nearly a year after the initial date. Being in the English countryside is a nice place to be, even in a pandemic.

Janine: I found out from a lot of people, they are like, “Yes, but I really would not want to be anywhere else. Yes, it is inconvenient, but I am here.” And as you stated in your book, “I am with my family. I am living in my home and I am living life my way.” So, I would love for you to talk a little bit about it because you were undiagnosed for so long. And then when you were diagnosed, the medical community had a blueprint that they felt you should follow and you were like, “Oh, I do not think so.” So, do you mind sharing a little bit about what the medical community said was in your best interest, and then how you had to make a life for yourself?

Josephine: Yes. Well, in my best interest, they thought that I needed a lot of care, to put it in context. So, I went so low as I sleep twenty-two hours a day, and so nearly not here. And then even with the diagnosis, I had to stay in the hospital for a long time because I had been in bed for such a long time, and eventually, I made a bit of progress and they said, “The best thing for you to do is maybe to go to a nursing home.” And I said, “No, that is not my vision. I want to go home.” I have not spent all this time in the hospital to be in a nursing home. No, I want to be with my children and I want to do things. I am an independent woman — very much independent. And so, that took a lot of negotiating and I had to pass certain tests. And so, I spend a lot of time building in exercises to get to do that — pass the test. And eventually, I did, and my husband eventually found a small cottage in the village we live in that is set up for disabled living with a bit of alteration, but that was better than a nursing home.

Janine: Yes, go ahead.

Josephine: And the house is not very big. It is a very small house but I only live on the ground floor as I did not want to live in a bungalow with my children. I wanted for them to still feel it was a home.

Janine: So, I remember when you and I were talking through the pandemic on how you would be like, “Yes, I am here on my level of the house.” And because your family had to move about and you had a grocery or shop that you had to keep going for the village because the village relied on you, that you had to make sure that you were separated, and lucky for you, you had already kind of separated that out because of your way that you needed to be. But do you mind describing a little bit about how your life had to look there for a while?

Josephine: Well, I am in the partnership and I am the not-so-silent partner. That means I do not physically go to the shop, but I do have a lot of input there and I am more computer literate than my partners, so, therefore, I do those tasks and he is the salesman. That is not really my strength, but I can do the accounts and so on if I want to and if I am able to. Nothing is urgent

Janine: Right. I just remember how you had not seen your family or you were looking through windows and stuff like that. It was how your family have not coordinate things with you or they may be upstairs but you were on Zoom with them or downstairs and that sort of thing just because that was how you were having to operate when nobody knew what was going to happen with the virus. And then it is when we got more information, your family was able to relax a little bit more. But yes, still having to be quite cautious from what you were telling me.

Josephine: Yes, lots of handwashing and face masks.

Janine: That is where we are. So, you were able to write your book because of all of this happening. So, tell us a little bit about what were your intentions for the book, like what were you really wanting to help your readers within the book?

Josephine: Well, I imagine someone in a hospital waiting for a long time in an undiagnosed capacity, and I kept that person in mind because I did not have any support and I looked online and could not find any. I thought I wanted to write a book for that person to show that, well, anything is possible. If you find out who you are and what you want to do, you can rebuild your life. And so, I meditated, did Yoga Nidra, and did a whole lot of other things. And I used a vision board to visualize what I wanted my life to be like, and then all I had to do was to gradually step by step to get there.

Janine: So, you set yourself up a vision, and then you set up certain — some people would say targets or goals or what have you however you want to define those, and then you just move toward them. Everybody, when you give them that kind of advice they always go, “Well, that is so simple. That is not so difficult.” but yet there is still a bunch of decisions that have to be made every day. Do you mind chatting a little bit about some of the decision makings that you had to make and some of the emotional barriers that you wound up with — that you had to kind of work through?

Josephine: Yes. When I was in the hospital and I was so ill, I wanted my family to be provided for, and I had to make the difficult decision as to what would happen to them if I was not there. So, part of that vision was, well, I have to make sure that they can make decisions about my health if I can no longer make those decisions. So, that meant having a power of health that somebody else to make that decision for me, and that had to be set up by a solicitor and all these things took time. They are difficult things to look at but I can honestly say that once I had gone through the process of setting them up, there was definitely some relief as if it did not matter what would happen and to do being so tight and set up. And the main thing was I had to face a neck surgery with three choices, really. I could either die during the surgery — that was one, or I could be permanently disabled or mentally disabled. I could have gone gaga overnight. That had a great impact on the family, really, and we have always done things together, so the decisions were made together.

Janine: And so, you were not able to get support from the medical community or from Support Services. Thank heavens you had a family that was rallying around you to help you with these very difficult decisions. So, the reader that you were focused on was the person lying in a hospital bed wondering what to do next or how to set things up. When you were visualizing your life, what were the primary factors you were most concerned
— maybe that is the wrong word, you were most focused on like you wanted to make happen? The first one was you wanted your family to be able to make decisions and that sort of thing. Where there are a couple of other things that you were adamant about?

Josephine: Well, secondly, I enjoy being a mom. So, I wanted to be a mom to my children. They are grown up, but they still need a mom sometimes. They made that possible by getting me a smartphone to be able to communicate with them, and they did not have to come and see me, but I could communicate with them. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to support people and do the best I could with what was left of my body, and that took a lot of thinking time. But then if you are in bed twenty-four hours a day, you have got plenty of time to think, and I decided not to focus too much on the things that I could not do but to see what I could do. I gave up housework — that was definitely one I was not going to do. Anything else? Yes, I have a hobby. I knit a lot and I had different fiber hobbies but I knew I could not do all of them, so, I had to choose. I like reading, but I could not read. So, that went to audiobooks. And I looked just for other options to get the same outcome.

Janine: And that I think is where your coaching is so helpful. It is like, “Okay. These are your options. Not all of them are fabulous, but these are your options.” Now how can we get you to the result that you want and you can lead people through that process of how to setup — thank heavens for technology, right? We love it. We have a love-hate relationship with technology but it does allow people like yourself and thousands of others who were often put in institutionalized care because the tech was not there. Well, now, we have the ability to have people be very independent for a long period of time. So, what are some aspects in your own life where technology made it ever so easy? You mention the smartphone, of course, that is always helpful for communication but you also mention audiobooks. Are there a few others that may be a person like myself would not know about because I have not had to seek them out?

Josephine: Well, the first book that I got was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which really cemented the fact that I should not concentrate to not spend time thinking about what happened or not spend time by thinking how life is going to be but to concentrate on the now. And I have little energy but if I concentrate on the now, I can do anything, but not everything. So, that was a good book, and there are so many.

Janine: I think you hit the nail on the head with that one though because one of the things that I learned from that book was The Power of Now just literally how you remove or there are a lot of resistance dissolves. It almost drips off of you because you are so focused on your present moment, and I have heard so many athletes and people who have come back from incredible difficulties. They all talk about that singular moment when they made the decision to not focus on the past, not look to the future but they just stay ever-present, and there is a lot of lip service given to that and yet people do not really know how to practice that. So, you have had to do that for years, do you mind giving us a few tips on, “Look, okay, yes, you are right but I really do not know how to do this?” So, how does Josephine stay in that present moment?

Josephine: Right. To begin with, I commit everything to an app called OmniFocus that I just commit every thought to it so that I do not have to keep it in my head. So, if I say I want to do a ten minutes exercise, let us say next Wednesday, I just put it in there, forget about it and then I am back in the moment. The thought is gone. And so, every day I know what I have to do today and I can choose once a day. To be in the moment also has the facility that you are not constantly get traumatized by what happened and you do not fear what happens in the future. I do not know, I just live it now, but it was difficult, to begin with. With meditation, I got there but it took a long time because you have all the thoughts zooming in your head and you must do this and the phone rings. But for me, I just do one activity at a time because it gives you a sense of achievement.

Janine: And so, this whole concept that you have been trying to teach in the corporate world about we need somebody who can multitask, you basically have to give up all that training and all of that thought process and give up on multitasking and really focus on singularity. So, do you mind talking a little bit about how you had to give up multitasking and how you sit in your life now? Because I know there is a lot of people, they hear this stuff all the time, but you are somebody who is like, “No, I walk that path and it took time.”. So, what were some of the things where you are like, “Wow, I am doing a little better today with this.” Can you share?

Josephine: As a mom of four children, you have an awful lot of plates spinning, and being in the moment means that you just choose one plate. You let the other spin, fall down, or whatever. You only concentrate on one thing, and that becomes easier with time. And also a big thing is — my phrase is you can do anything but you do not have to do everything, which means that if people ask you something, you do not necessarily have to say yes. You have to be specific and say, “Okay, I could do that, but it is going to take me three weeks. If you can wait that long, great. If you cannot, go and find somebody else.”

Janine: And that is a challenge especially for women. We want to make people’s lives easier. We want to help be that nurture, help mentor people, but sometimes you just have to go, “I know I could do this.” but the question is, “Should I?” and I like the way you definitely phrased it with, “Okay, but it will take me three weeks.” I love that. It is like, “That is my timeline. I am sticking to it.” So, make your decision and it is out of your hands then you are not having to decide. So, is there anything that we have not covered that you would like to share with the listeners today?

Josephine: I think what happened during that period of time was that I find out what my why is — my authentic person, and making decisions from that place is a lot easier than walking around and wearing a different mask to say that who you think you are is not necessarily who you are deep down. What happened changed me and made me more authentic, and that is a good thing that came out of it.

Janine: Well, I am going to press you a little bit on that one. We hear a lot about the word authentic and it is spoken by a lot of people. Now, you are that. So, I would like your personal definition of what does this means to be authentic? People need some guidance. What does that mean? So, can you break it down a little bit for us?

Josephine: Okay. Yes. I explain to my children that when you grew up in society but you ask somebody as a child and you have your interests and you hate certain things. And then when you grow up, all of a sudden, society expects you to fit in somewhere whether it is your parents, “Oh, you should do that job. That will earn much money.” But you might not like that job, but you feel you have to do it, and then you have to get married by a certain time and have children by your house. And those are all things that may not be you. You might be an artist deep down and you forget who you are. The authentic artist then has to — like a diamond or an onion, an onion, you have got to peel the layers off to get to the core. Yes, it is an interesting process. I have always said to my children that if you go and find a job, find one that you enjoy so that you do not end up burning money just to pay off your sofa. I want you to find a job that you are happy to go to every day and you can just be yourself because there are days that are going to be tough, and the days where you can just be yourself will make it easier.

Janine: Yes, I agree. I have given that same advice to my children, and that was one of the things that connected Josephine and me when we both started talking about how important it was for us to be mothers our way. We both had to take a very different and we were actually deviant from our family or extended family because we made choice after choice over a period of time so that we could be the type of mothers we wanted to be to our four children. And that really set us up to be — some people call Josephine a leader, and when I get that call “the leader”, I am like, “No, I was just doing things that would work for me for my life.” I will not speak for Josephine, but when people look at you and go, “Oh, but I cannot do that. You are Josephine. You have done all these things.” What is your response to that? She laughs. She starts laughing. If you cannot hear her, she is just cracking up here. Oh, I love it.

Josephine: I think I would call myself a rebel. I have never taken it when somebody says something, “Oh, this is what you have to do.” My question has always been, “Why?” If people give me an explanation, then I can work with it, but usually, when you were younger, you say, “Well, because it is expected. It is the rule. It is whatever.” I have always asked questions and that has made me unpopular sometimes.

Janine: Just a little.

Josephine: Three-year-olds constantly ask, “Why? What is wrong with it?” So, just ask questions as you go through life and make your decisions that you cannot compromise.

Janine: And for those of you who are struggling or working through or are living in a condition that you are visualizing yourself moving out of whatever or however you want to frame that for yourself when you were dealing with the medical community, asked a bunch of questions, train your medical teams that you are somebody who will be more than happy to be a compliant patient if they can justify for you why you need to walk a certain path. So, I have so beautifully trained my medical team. So, Josephine and I have talked about this where we have so trained our doctors and our healthcare providers that they do not even give us a chance to ask why anymore. They just look at us and they just start saying, “And the reason we think this is best for you is…” and literally though, I have had doctors take fifteen minutes with me, which is saying something in the American Health Care system to have a doctor take fifteen minutes explaining why they are doing what they are doing and why all these other options are unavailable for my healthcare at that moment. And I always look at them and go, “That was very rationally explained. Thank you. I will be happy to be a compliant patient now.” and they are like, “I love having these discussions with you, Janine. You really make me work my magic with you.” So, I am sure you have had the same thing, Josephine.

Josephine: When the doctor asks you, “So, what is the matter?” If you say, “I do not feel well.” that is too broad. That leaves the decision to the doctor to decide and figure out what is wrong with you. I am data-focused, so, I would write things saying like if I do this, that happens, and I have headaches in the morning, I have changed it and I have changed that, and I said, “I do not know what is happening. Do you?” And then they have the authority to find it. And the medical team is part of a team, that means they are supporting you but you are the most important person and you know your own body and you can put that point of view across.

Janine: Very well said. Very articulate. So, it is like you have had to deal with them once or twice in your life.

Josephine: Oh, yes. I have been very cheeky. When I was really, really ill and the neurologist could not find what was the matter with me. I said, “Well, can I have some medicine.” and he said, “No, not until I know what is the matter with you.” And I said, “Well, hurry up because if you do not find it soon, the pathologist will.”

Janine: And there, ladies and gentlemen is that beautiful sense of humor that we have come to know Josephine for. Thank you so much for your time today, and I want to thank you very much for listening to this episode. Please stay tuned for more guests that will be coming on in later weeks. Have a great day.