How to Live a Romantic and Sensuous Life

cover art of episode 70 with David Brower on How to Live a Romantic and Sensuous Life

In this episode, David Brower invites us to find ways to add more pleasure, more joy in our lives. He talks of the importance of experiencing and savoring the moments to feel alive.

David Charles Brower spends his life searching for love and creating abundant sensorial experiences everywhere he goes, wherever and whomever he finds himself with. As the sensorial guy and inspired by his own romantic personality, he inspires others globally to connect to each other in meaningful ways, to find useful joy in the everyday, create moments of romance daily, and find pleasure in the small details and nuances of life to seek relentlessly to fuse pleasure with purpose, sometimes a tad mischievously too.

Always from his intensively creative perspective, David expresses his love for life through writing poetry, dancing, creating delicious meals in his professional home kitchen, gathering and hosting people, and helping others transform from the stage as a storyteller. His former work experience was in world-class international entertainment and cinema for over 20 years, which has also shaped his love for the creative process and people and their stories, laying the foundation for his next adventure in love, writing his first short story.

Dance of the Love Caterpillars is a romantic love story between two caterpillars that is aimed at romantics of all ages. David’s work for the larger part of the last decade has been in developing his sensorial intelligence programs, events, and lifestyle, and have been catalysts for the creation of this heartening story dance of the love caterpillars. This storytelling gem is a universal, romantic love story between two caterpillars, and inspiration to lovers and would be romantics of all ages. The book launched on March 5th, 2021.

David, an American by birth, has chosen the city of love and pleasure, Paris, has his home for the last 30 years. You can connect with and you can also connect with him on his website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Linkedin.

If you would like to tag me in any challenges that you do, you can use #cbasforlife.

We recorded this episode on April 1, 2021.

If you’re not enjoying your life, you’re not getting pleasure, you don’t feel sensuous, you don’t feel kind of any sense of romance in a relationship or when you work, and you don’t love what your life is, there’s a way to evolve that, there’s a way we can change. We have free will and personal agency and the decisions and the choices that we make to change our lives.

David Brower, Author, Speaker, Poet, Life Coach

Your Challenge Invitation

Look for small experiences that you would like to have and go for the low-hanging fruit. For example, if you want to learn to dance but you’re a little afraid to go sign up for the classes, you don’t have to sign up for a whole year. Sign up for 3 classes because one is not enough to truly experience the activity.

Sit down and write where you would like to grow, what would you like to experience more of. What would you like to try? Give yourself permission to try something new. Start with the things that you are most attracted to. Approach new experiences with curiosity and don’t take them too seriously. Be completely present in the new experiences that you try.

What’s your limit? How much change do you want? You can decide, for example, to try something new that will stretch you each month. If that’s too much, set a goal of once a quarter. This could be with food, where you’ll try to cook or eat something new. You could explore new streets in your neighborhood or new paths between your home and a destination. Here are some other ideas:

– Once in a while, take the scenic route or get lost around your neighborhood or in a new place.
– Once a week, call somebody you haven’t spoken to in a very long time and tell them you want to hear what’s going on in their life.
– Try expressing yourself in a new way, a way that may be a bit uncomfortable for you like video, so that people can see and hear you in a new fashion. For example, send a video to a friend instead of an email or text.
– Sit and close your eyes and focus on your breathing, being as present as you can be.
– For an activity where you would normally multitask, try giving it your full attention.
– Be nice to people who are grumpy to you.
– Eat something new and savour it.
– Eat something you have had before and try to find new flavors.
– Savour your experiences consciously, purposefully. Get as much joy as you can from each experience.

There are so many things that you can try. As you try new experiences, you’ll start to have success and realize that you can do so much more than you thought. You will find new things that you like and suddenly you’ll have more choice.

You can connect with Damianne on the Changes BIG and small website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. You’re also invited to join the Changes BIG and small Facebook community.

Start with the things that you’re most attracted by;  pleasure is a great doorway.

Related Episodes

Timeline of the Chat

03:09 – On immigrating from the US to France
09:58 – Benefits of travelling
11:10 – Building a life in Paris
13:15 – Lesson learned from trying many different things in life
15:08 – Defining sensuality and romance
20:40 – Redefining romance and sensuality
25:11 – Finding joy and pleasure
30:53 – Rethinking good and bad
37:24 – Working with David
40:15 – Invitation – How to have more joy and love in your life
47:16 – Fast 5

Savour each other, love each other, love on each other, make the phone calls to reach out, give, be generous. Don’t wait to live the life that you love. Don’t wait to pursue the activities that you want to pursue, to create the friendships, to end the friendships, to stop this, to say no to this, to say yes to this, to constantly be in a space of loving life.

Quick Links

image of the book cover of Dance of the Love Caterpillars by David Brower

We’re infinitely creative and we can be immensely resourceful.

Transcript of the Episode

On immigrating from the US to France [03:09]

Damianne President: [03:10] You explain in a post that I read on your website, that being an outsider was actually an advantage for you when you moved to France. Can you share what you realized then as a young man who barely spoke French, alone in the city?

David Brower: [03:27] Well, you can get away with so much, right? You don’t know anything and you can constantly refer to that as being, you know the foreigner, the new person. I think you get quite a bit of sympathy in a lot of ways from certain people and it gives you an opportunity to stand out.

At the time, 30 years ago, there were not a lot of Americans, literally living here. There’s a lot of Americans traveling through here and Western people of course. At the same time, there’s very few, I mean, even today, it’s only the figure is something crazy, like 0.03% of Americans worldwide live in Paris or live in France, so that’s a very small number. It’s under a hundred thousand people and probably a lot of them are retired people, right? So suddenly you’re somebody who kind of stands out and I’ve always seen that as an advantage. It means almost I have less competition.

 I’ve always felt that being able to highlight my differences was a way to stand out. And it became a way to kind of show strengths. I mean, even the simple fact that I could speak English properly and write English properly 30 years ago here was a huge advantage. It was like one of the main skillsets for anyone looking for an international job here. And so, yeah, I mean, there’s so many advantages to being sort of a beginner. 

As I said, I never felt like an outcast. I didn’t speak the language really when I got here, but I also didn’t surround myself by expatriates or Americans. Mostly my friends were French people and a lot of them didn’t really speak English. So I was lost for a long time, but then, you know, people are trying to pay more attention to you because they realize you’re not really getting what’s going on, so they spend a little bit more, at least that was my experience, they spend a little bit more time explaining. And so I kind of felt like, you know, the American with my group of friends, you know, 10 French people, I’m the one American, I’m the America. So there was something special about that, and I certainly took full advantage of that. 

Damianne President: [05:47] Why did you choose France?

David Brower: [05:50] Well, my father really loved France and he’d spoken a lot to me about it. And he wanted to make movies here. Basically when I got out of college, it was only two places I was considering going to travel and kind of escape my life at that time, was either to go to Spain – really the first foreign language I spoke with Spanish – or go to Paris. And my dad happened to have a lawyer friend from 20 years back that helped him actually get a movie script to Simone de Beauvoir. My dad wanted to make a movie about the love affair between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre, famous couple and the way that he got it was through this lawyer.

So I got a mail boy job offer for three months, paid like half minimum wage. That kind of determined me coming here instead of going to Spain. And I knew nobody here besides this person.

Damianne President: [06:50] After those three months, if we go back to that time, what were you supposed to be? What was the path?

David Brower: [06:58] Well, I had come only to stay for a year cause I had escaped going to law school. I graduated from UCLA in the States studying political science only because it was the most creative thing I could find where all you do is write paragraphs of arguments and make it up. I mean, politics is one of the most creative things there is. And so I was kind of good at that, but I hated all that like debate team and confrontational and argumentational and all this kind of stuff was definitely what I didn’t want to do. I’ve a bit of a selective memory. I don’t know how people retain all these facts and things and all this kind of stuff.

I was kind of going down that path by default. Luckily I did horribly on the entrance exam to law school, and that opened up the opportunity to just kind of, of escape. And so I escaped. I thought I would go from about April to the following April, more or less, and then go back to law school. Or at least that’s what I told everyone. And I had no idea what was going to happen.

 After my first job here, I found after those first three months, actually, during those first three months, I made connections with people. And I don’t even remember how I made the connection with this American women who can connected me with an English teaching school here. And that became my next opportunity, was to go teach English at a school that was teaching all the top, like advertising firms, international and American advertising firms here. I would go and teach English and those schools.

I have no idea this was coming. I had no intention to be teaching English. I was just kind of strolling and wandering. And this is definitely one of the themes of my life is to trust in rambling and strolling and seeing what’s going to happen. Serendipity, you run into somebody; it only takes one person potentially or one thing you see on internet or something that can lead you down another path, right? That’s all you need. 

I’ve not really been into forcing things once I’m into something and want something, I go at it like crazy, but the whole exploring side, which I don’t think a lot of people give themselves the opportunity or don’t create that opportunity for themselves to let themselves kind of stroll and really open up your radar and listen to your heart and your soul and your energy and your spirit and have really exotic conversations, very eclectic, very different. Little by little, you run into things and dots connect, and you have epiphanies, and it opens up opportunities. My path has pretty much been full of these types of examples.

Damianne President: [09:39] I think it’s really about being open to those. Many people miss them because if we have our eye on a particular destination, we don’t recognize opportunities. We see them as distractions instead when they could provide a whole new experience for us.

Benefits of travelling [09:58]

Did you remain in France from that point just as you rambled through.

David Brower: [10:04] Yeah, I remained in France. I’ve been very fortunate to travel a lot and there’s obviously a lot of holiday time in this country. I took full advantage of that to the maximum. There’s all these worlds out there, right? They’re all part of our worlds. It opens up your tolerance, it expands your heart and your understanding of what the world is like and what people are going through and what people’s lives are.

  It’s a fascinating way to grow. Everyone talks about going out of your comfort zone. I stopped so afraid, just go and just, you know, don’t leave your wallet in your back pocket, like an idiot and watch your affairs and learn to be not so naive about the world, get a little worldly, get a little curious. And then you start to care about other cultures and other languages and other foods and we have more compassionate understanding, I believe. And you just become like a warm, more worldly person.

Damianne President: [10:58] I’d certainly like to think of myself as a global citizen, as a world citizen. There is definitely something to be said for being aware of world events and aware of where you’re traveling to.

Building a life in Paris [11:10]

Was there a point when you made a decision about what the next part of your life would be like?

David Brower: [11:19] Absolutely. Paris has been stable for me for 30 years. My romantic relationship with my wife before she passed away was 27 years in a single marriage. And there’s other aspects of my life, friendships and other things that I cherish and I’m very loyal to, and want to grow and expand.

So at that level, there’s a stability. Professionally, I followed a path that was in the entertainment world after teaching English. It was just kind of where my family was in that world. And I ended up kind of going into that. I kind of stayed within that, if you wish, for almost 20 years, five years in one place, five and another, and then 10 for the last piece up until about eight years ago. So I mean, there’s a certain rhyme and reason to it. I think what’s valuable is how long you stay someplace and what you get out of it, what you learn, the relationships, the connections you make and you know, constantly as I call it constantly marketing yourself within an organization, if you work within one and growing in the ways you want to.

 I was working at Disney consumer products right around when the park here opened in France around when Lion King was launched, one of the biggest movies ever for them or the biggest at that time. It was a great time to be there, but after four years or so, I’d had two different jobs, did some really great things, great school for professional work and dealing in creative and I mean, it’s, yeah, it’s incredible. Talk about a localization specialist. I mean, Disney’s the best. At some point I just kind of looked around and looked up and said, you know, where do I want to go and I couldn’t see where and so it’s time to roam, it’s time to connect with people. It’s time to say, you know, that you’re just looking to meet interesting people maybe in this area or that area, if you have some inclination or you have to constantly be looking.

Lesson learned from trying many different things in life [13:15]

Damianne President: [13:15] Looking at the information that you shared on your website, I could see that you did a lot of different trainings in different coaching programs, that you had your work in the entertainment industry. What lesson did you learn from exploring all of those different things that was pivotal do you think in the way you live your life?

 David Brower: [13:41] I think it’s taught me that there’s always a next opportunity. There’s always a next possibility, that we can adapt and we can change and we can grow and we can learn again and again and again. And so we’re never really trapped. We have, we have freedom as long as we take care of our responsibility to take care of ourselves in that way.

 if you realize that we can adapt and change, and that’s probably our greatest strength as human beings and either we adapt or change by force or horrible circumstances or we can choose to change, adapt, learn, and stretch ourselves. Either you can be in a prison camp that you didn’t decide, and then you have other things to decide about how you’re going to react like Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning, if you haven’t read that book, which is a phenomenal read.

 And then there’s other opportunities I feel in life where we get a little too comfortable. And when you get a little bit too comfortable, sometimes things go wrong. So it’s a dance and you have to be really attentive to that. So that adaptability, I think, is one of the greatest things that I’ve learned about that, that we’re infinitely creative and we can be immensely resourceful. And we don’t have to wait until we’re under the gun to connect with that. 

Defining sensuality and romance [15:08]

Damianne President: [15:09] Fun, playfulness, and sensuality, romance, those are big themes in your work, in your life.  What inspired you to focus on these themes?

David Brower: [15:20] My heart and soul is, artistically, creatively, romantically, lovingly pulled towards a life that is full of that. And I don’t want to be a multiple personality, be one way at work and one way at home. That’s a tire really, at least for me.

I feel an alignment when I can bring in all those elements into everything.  In as much as sometimes we have to take certain postures to accomplish certain things in life, much of the time, we have a lot of choice in how we want to be in situations and you become a leader when you’re there one defining the tone in a situation. It could be a dinner party. It could be a business meeting and everyone comes in and everyone’s all gray faced and you’re the one who brings some new energy in there and it loosens things up and suddenly it becomes a moment that’s not just, you know, we’re caught in our head and it’s just about transactional performance for performance sake. For me, that’s the way that I found the best way to get things done, pleasurably, purposefully, and with performance.

Damianne President: [16:27] So, again, it sounds like it’s based on your own observation of the world and your own experience of the world.

David Brower: [16:33] Yeah and my own way of kind of getting through the world. It’s been said that people really admire leaders who smile because they project confidence and ease and all these types of things. We either believe, or don’t believe that, but there are studies and things that suggest that. And if you think about that philosophically and energetically, like if you’re able to get to a place where you’re really truly present, and you’re not caught up with the millions of things that are troubling you from the past and present, there’s no reason why you can’t connect with people and give a little bit of joy.

 Everyone’s going through their own thing and so I’m just trying to be and draw as much joy as I can about life to save my own self. And at the same time to be able to give others moments of respect and, relief and people feeling like they’re seen. 

Damianne President: [17:22] How do you define sensuality and romance? What do those words mean to you?

David Brower: [17:29] Well, sensuality and sensuousness are really words that are for me related to your senses. It’s kind of the feeling that you get, like a massage can be tremendously sensual or it can be very kind of matter of fact. There’s a big difference between a muscular massage from like a doctor and a sensuous healing massage from somebody. 

So sensuous is for me is this ability to arise a sense of well-being and pleasure and release and something that takes you out of your head and connects you with the sensations in the other parts of your body and the other intelligences in your body, and to be able to feel that is such a beautiful thing.

It’s the same thing with eating. Some people’s relationship with food is a very pragmatic relationship., it’s a very functional relationship. And for me, I try to make that one of the most ceremonial kind of tantric, beautiful, sensorial, sensuous experiences that I can, because it makes me feel really good, makes me feel the beauty and notice the beauty of life. 

So sensuous and sensuality is allowing yourself to experience pleasure in as many ways as possible. Pleasure has gotten to be a really bad word and I know that some people see it that way and experience it that way, and it can be interpreted and lived in a way that’s not necessarily safe or healthy or reasonable. But I think there’s a big margin in there to be able to bring more sensuous and sensuality into our lives, with the right intention behind it.

I think also one thing I’m really fascinated by is just our ability to define the nuances between on and off, yes and no, between black and white. There’s all these shades of colors, right? It’s like a light, you go into a room, it’s nice to have a light switch that goes on and off. So you go from darkness to full light. But I like lights that have variations, how do you call that where you can adjust the lights, I guess, and this is where I’m kind of living.

This is like a sensuous way of living. I appreciate beauty and I want to be surrounded by beauty. Even when I’m eating by myself to use a beautiful set of silverware and a real fabric napkin and real plates and never put any plastic; it’s almost like a ritual way of going through life that to me feels like I’m living, not just like a machine. I’m really savoring the moments and purposely creating pleasure. So that’s for sensuousness and sensuality. 

For romance it’s somewhat related, but romance is bringing a bit of a fun and jubilance and connection with others and kinda joy and surprise. Living from a romantic sense of life is creating something special that’s unexpected and even when you’re by yourself, to be able to treat yourself in a romantic way is to make yourself feel special.

Redefining romance and sensuality [20:40]

Damianne President: [20:40] Let’s delve into this a little bit more because I think when most people think about the words romance or sensuality, they think about it in terms of a partner and in terms of not necessarily sexual, but in terms of some sort of partnership, whether it’s same sex or not. So let’s delve into what you mean a little bit more when you even talk about, sensuality or romance, even on a individual level.

David Brower: [21:08] Yeah it’s fascinating. A friend of mine named Esther Perel, who some of you have heard about, she uses the word erotic intelligence. And when you look at how she defines erotic, which everyone was like erotic, Oh my God, sex and porn and whatever, that’s not what she’s talking about. She’s talking about an alive feeling and a connection with life that’s ongoing and in the moment and present and fun and playful and colorful and it’s those things. The same thing goes with sensuality and and what I would call sensorial in a lot of ways.

 It’s bringing this Alivefullness, which is my word, into life. And again, I’m trying to suggest we want to pull away from this impulsive, boxed-in, black and white, simplified, cognitive bias way of looking at the world. And I’m also doing it to constantly remind myself things often are not so black and white. My head, which wants rationality and logic and reasoning is and shortcuts in whatever is trying to force me into.

I completely agree with you that people, when these words are mentioned, they have cliches in their head. I did this interesting video and maybe you saw about asking people is romance essential in your life.

 This video is really fascinating because it’s almost like a trick question. Is romance essential in your life. So, first of all, if I asked you that question and everyone listening, I asked you this question is romance essential in your life. Okay. So you say yes or no, and then explain why, why or why not. And that’s when it gets really interesting because of the 33 people that responded maybe two or three responded in somewhat of a classic way of how we would see romance with roses and chocolate and, you know, just a man and woman and very simplified version.  Almost all the others express things that have nothing to do with that, nothing. 

One person is talking about a young boy when he’s running with his soccer ball and he’s kicking him and he’s focused on it and he’s there with it in his full presence and passion and joy, that’s romance for him. Then there’s another gentleman who’s a world-class voice teacher, singing teacher and a breathing teacher. And his thing is, romance for him is his relationship with creating, playing, and sharing music and listening to it. So it’s really a way of being in the world is the way that I would put it. And I feel today, we’ve lost a lot of that in all of the relationships we have, whether it’s with people, whether it’s with our work ourselves.

  I don’t believe in only celebrating love on days like Valentine’s day. No, you should be doing this frequently. Let’s find a way to be a little bit more creative and make life feel a little bit more alive and it does start with yourself.

 I went to spend some time with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala and also with Khen Rinpoche, his right-hand man and also an 80 year old spiritual master. We’d gone there with a program that was planning to have a summit to save the world. At the end they basically said to us, now go home and go work on yourself if you want to save the world. Mike drop. And it goes for all of these types of subjects.

 If you’re not enjoying your life, you’re not getting pleasure, you don’t feel sensuous, you don’t feel kind of any sense of romance in a relationship or when you work, and you don’t love what your life is, there’s a way to evolve that, there’s a way we can change. We have free will and personal agency and the decisions and the choices that we make to change our lives.

Damianne President: [25:02] Yeah, I think so many of us have forgotten or we’ve gotten away from that sense of what brings joy or pleasure with our life.

Finding joy and pleasure [25:11]

David Brower: [25:11] Why is that? Why do you feel that is.

Damianne President: [25:14] I think because we buy into the stereotypes, like you were talking about, of what is. We get seduced by the idea of making money or getting a certain position or we lose sight of maybe what the important things are. And I think at some point many people then get that inkling that maybe something doesn’t quite feel right. And then they go into the space of searching for what is it that is missing. And it’s something we had often, but we let get away or we’ve lost it along the way.

 You were talking about sensuality and romance, the other thing that I was thinking about as well is the whole idea of play and fun and how those things are very different for different people. So in the same way, is romance and sensuality different for each person, or are there any universal ideas around those?

David Brower: [26:16] Well, the universal idea is that if I feel that I’m living a romantic and fun and sensuous life, that’s all that matters. If you feel that you’re living a romantic sensuous life, that’s all that matters. We suddenly are kindred spirits. I can connect with you and feel and sense that you found a harmony inside yourself, that you found your truth, that you found what matters to you and you’re living it and pursuing it and taking full responsibility for it.

Damianne President: [26:45] Maybe that’s why people have such a hard time with it is because of that sense of responsibility.

David Brower: [26:53] Yeah, sure. That’s a big part of it, the sense of responsibility and let’s not forget that our brain can work against us in the sense that so much is run by our subconscious mind. These are patterns, these are conditioning, these were emotional traumas from childhood, these are also cognitive biases, so shortcut habits and even things like hedonic adaptation, which even happens with the senses. Think about this, you walk into the kitchen of a house, like your grandmother’s house or somebody who’s cooking your favorite dish. You walk into the kitchen and it’s like, you’re hit by this wave of odors that you just remind you of your childhood and the love and family and joy, and you’re suddenly there. And after like 15 minutes or something, you don’t smell it anymore because your brain is kind of, it’s not new anymore; it’s adapted to it and it suddenly not there. So you have to go outside, get some different air and then when you come back in, suddenly it hits you again. 

If you never leave the kitchen, and you stay your life and the kitchen in this metaphor, you don’t reconnect with that and you get so used to it. It’s challenging if you’re not consciously making some choices to help retrain and reprogram and reoffer yourself other opportunities. I’m always kind of championing to do challenging things in easy moments. And so this is, for example, cooking is a really great example.

How to break a pattern [28:34]

What, if you, you know, instead of cooking the dish that you cook the same way a thousand times, what if you took a really challenging recipe, even with the same ingredients or you tried to slice everything differently. And then suddenly you’re brought by your necessity to succeed into a sensorial connection and presence. And you suddenly break a pattern. Suddenly you’re present and you’re alive and you’re suddenly, for me, you’re having a romantic sensuous experience. So we have to constantly find ways to refresh the parts of us that don’t feel like we’re loving life. And we can’t have a standard that lets us accept these things. It’s a day in day out adventure. I’m constantly working on this and falling off track and coming back, and I think deprivation is a really great way to do this also. 

So for example, I take a cold showers and people understand or don’t get that, but there’s so much value there in building your mental strength. 

Damianne President: [29:40] Why do you do it?

David Brower: [29:42] First of all, I love swimming in cold water. You find me the coldest water, a lake, I just have always loved, I’m like a fire sign and kind of little bit of hot headed. But there’s something about that that, again, it’s such a sensorial thing that it takes me out of my head and relaxes me so much. I’ve just become so fond of that. 

So now, first of all, I can be in cold weather outside, like on a terrace and I don’t have a warm enough coat and I’m fine, whereas everyone else who’s been using too much heating, too much comfort has to put on a coat because they’re cold.

 I want to be a stronger human being that can be more versatile. And so that’s part of it. I want to be able to find pleasure in the various temperatures of water. And so literally, I’m looking for the pleasure in cold water. Sometimes when I turned it on, I’m just like jumping up and down to get through it. You’re bringing the joy into a situation which is uncomfortable. What a metaphor.

 When I get to work in the morning, if I can do that same game there, I’m choosing to do something challenging again and again, maybe repetitive and I’m not going to let my head scare me out of it. And so there’s that, and there’s lots of health benefits and other things. Yeah.

Rethinking good and bad [30:53]

Damianne President: [30:53] When you were talking about the kitchen metaphor as well, the other thing that I was thinking is that the breadth of experience actually helps us appreciate the different experiences that we have. So if we think about it in terms of when you’re in that kitchen with that delicious smell, but you can’t smell it anymore, you need a pattern interrupt and that pattern interrupt could be something that we typically think of as being bad. But maybe we could reframe our experiences, not in terms of good or bad, a cold shower’s not bad. A cold shower could be an invigorating experience that helps us appreciate warm weather at some other point or a warm bath, or, I mean, the juxtaposition really allows us to have a wider range of positive and joyful experiences.

David Brower: [31:43] No, absolutely. Damianne, it’s a very powerful reframe that you’re talking about. We give the meaning to the experience we’re going to have. I give a certain meaning to the cold showers that are taking the morning; it’s not the same surely as lots of other people, and I can give it any meaning I want to. So again, it’s like, what’s the meaning that you give when you’re in the kitchen and you don’t smell something could also be that you’re not being present. Like you’re so caught in thoughts and your brain can’t be doing that and be sensorily present. And so if you bring your awareness and you refocus, I bet you can smell again.

If you approach the pot that’s cooking and you actually interact with it again, it comes back. But we put things away, right, like the brain puts away. So again, what’s the life that you want to live. I want to live the life where it’s like, I’m the person appreciating things more than anyone around me. Now I want to be the one at the table where they’re looking at me saying, how can he be having so much fun here, like what is he seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, appreciating, and savoring and in gratitude for that I’m not. Why am I not getting what he’s getting? If you have dinner with me at a table, trust me, you’re here. It’s going to raise your game like about what it is to actually eat. 

There’s so many gifts in life. We’re so spoiled a lot of us in so many ways and to lose that is a real shame. We become jaded. We become potentially pretentious and arrogant, all these kinds of things and disconnected from what makes life so beautiful.

I want my everyday life experiences to be beautiful, my interactions as much as possible, so that it takes me out of anxiety perhaps, or repeated thoughts or things like this. So it’s kind of my game of getting through life in a way that feels to me, pleasure being. It’s not just about hedonistic pleasure, it’s about pleasure that has purpose and that because of that, for me, that’s the best way I’ve found to get performance out of myself and to get through life.[33:53]

Damianne President: [33:53] Congratulations again on publishing your short story book, The Dance of the Love Caterpillars. What inspired you to write this love story?

David Brower: [34:08] Well, I was married to this beautiful French woman that I was sharing with earlier in a very unfortunately life decided to take her away from me and to take her life a year and a half ago to cancer. And, this book was a way to heal and it was a way to remind myself that in life, we need to start it again and potentially again and again. And by that, I mean to reconnect with who we are and what we love about life and to heal ourselves and find that path. But then also to open up to new possibility for our own existence, to reconnect with loving life and not be negative, or caught in prolonged sadness or regret or guilt or any of these types of emotions.

And so it was a creation for me to remind myself to trust again in life and to realize as we talked about earlier, that serendipity can open up opportunities for us from one day to the next, from one encounter the next your life can change, whether it’s work love. It can be connected with an idea, a thought, discovering a new fruit at the market. And, you know, life is full of all of these things if you remain open and alive and connected to your senses. 

And so it was a message reminder to me, and again, a pleasurable, purposeful, ideally performant way to share through an allegory that we’re here to trust life and to love again, and to open our heart courageously, and overall to really just savor, savor the moments.

We do not know what tomorrow holds for any of us, and in this period that we’ve gone through recently, I mean, gosh, you know, So savour each other, love each other, love on each other, make the phone calls to reach out, give, be generous. Don’t wait to live the life that you love. Don’t wait to pursue the activities that you want to pursue, to create the friendships, to end the friendships, to stop this, to say no to this, to say yes to this, to constantly be in a space of loving life. And I feel that’s where we’re the most generous to the world because we’re in the best space and we’ve taken care of ourselves, we can then go into the world and love the world again and that’s such a beautiful way to contribute to the world. 

And so, yeah, I wanted to do something with illustrations that are original illustrations by a beautiful artist named Cheryl Vanderpoel and to use the caterpillar butterfly metaphor but with some suspense and mystery. We don’t really know how it’s going to end or nor does that really matter. I don’t know. 

What really matters is are we going to love life with everything we got no matter what happens to us. I wanted to share that message with everybody, that message of hope and resilience.

Damianne President: [37:09] Yeah, my condolences. I know that grief last as long as it lasts. And I think this is also a beautiful way of sharing your journey and what you’ve learned with everyone. So thank you for writing that.

Working with David [37:24]

Also you do work around SED and alivefullness, which of course are themes that have carried through this interview and are themes that carry through in your life. Could you please share with the audience what those programs are?

David Brower: [37:45] Sure. SED stands for sensorial experience day, and that has been, in a lot of ways, the culmination of all that matters to me in life, in a live gathering event that mixes artists and creatives and performances. This goes from the culinary arts to singing, to dancing, to painting, to all sorts of different types of experiences, with an intention of mindfulness and connection and an open heart and curiosity and stretching ourselves, human expansion. And with really amazing food to bring a sense of awe and wonder. And everything done in a way that brings us to the present moment. It’s almost like one peak experience leads into the next and there’s no cannibalization really. There’s no sort of multitasking and a lot of ways, it’s really intended to calm the racing mind and the rational mind and get away from the telephone and all this sort of impulsiveness that’s within us and kind of let go and release and let ourselves experience intentional pleasure in a way that breaks down the barriers between us, with ourselves and also us with others. We’re really present with our heart, our energy, our mind; everything is really, really present. 

Suddenly all the barriers are being broken down and it’s not just spectator and performer. Suddenly we’re all performers in life. And so people pass all sorts of barriers. I mean, some people don’t like to dance and suddenly they’re up dancing. And people don’t like to eat oysters and suddenly they’re eating oysters, or they don’t know oysters and they’re afraid. There’s all sorts of experiences like this that happen and it was just really a mixing of all of the things that I’m most passionate about in life. So that’s Sensorial Experience Day and it’s really the manifestation of a live event setting; it’s almost as real world as I feel you can get in creating an experience like that. It’s really a beautiful experience. I can’t wait to do it again.

Damianne President: [39:53] it sounds great and there is no replacement in the digital world, is there?

David Brower: [40:01] It’s a little bit tricky. There’s no replacement, but then, you know, at the end of the day, there’s really no replacement for human connection and what we can create and experience and savour. So yeah, I agree with you there really is no replacement for that.

Invitation – How to have more joy and love in your life [40:15]

Damianne President: [40:15] I remember I had a Sufi friend in India and one day he was doing this crystal healing for me and he said, okay, Damianne it’s time to get off the bus, staring out the window and to actually join life and be with people. And I remember him saying that had such a big impact on me and probably some other listeners will resonate with this. Sometimes we can feel like we’re looking out into life, but we’re not really in the middle of it, or we’re not really experienced in it. And that definitely connects to the whole idea of sensorial experience. So what do you advise, how do we find our way back to this sense of joy and love in life? 

David Brower: [41:04] Yeah. Yeah. That’s a beautiful question. You know, I came up with Alivefulness because I found the word mindfulness a little bit too internalized and intimate with self and a little bit cerebral and almost philosophical and not really oriented to living real life. Just like you’ve expressed, we can do all the spiritual work, personal growth work, everything else that people are sort of looking to grow themselves.

At the end of the day, if you don’t put yourself into the arena of real living and experience and start experimenting, it’s like the rubber is not hitting the road. It’s just an intellectual concept. Even if you get really good at that, and you can manifest and all these kinds of ways of using the brain to trick the brain so it believes it’s in that experience. But what’s the fun of that really. I mean, life is happening around us. And so I would advise looking for small experiences that you would like to have and go for the low fruit, like you want to learn to dance, but you’re a little afraid to go sign up for the classes. Don’t sign up for a year. Go to three classes. Once is not enough to get an experience of something.

 Go and try things. Decide over the next 12 months that once a month you’re going to go try something that will stretch you. This could be with food maybe there’s things you haven’t tried or a style of cooking that you haven’t tried.

Make some different choices. Don’t take the same street home every day. Once in awhile take the scenic route. Once a week, call somebody you haven’t spoken to in a very long time and tell them you want to hear what’s going on in their life. Instead of sending email and text messages, send a literal video of yourself to people so they can see you and feel you and hear you in a different fashion. Maybe that’s uncomfortable for you to be seen like that.

I think everyone knows where their limit is. You may want to sit down and write where would you actually like to grow and what areas would you like to have more depth, more experience? What would you like to try? This goes for everything. This goes in sexuality, this goes in with food. This goes in conversation. It goes in friendships. This goes in work stuff that you choose to take on or not. So it’s allowing yourself, giving yourself permission to start trying things for you. And I say, start with the things that you’re most attracted by; pleasure is a great doorway.

 It’s a great doorway the curiosity you have to have some pleasurable experience. And what you perceive is a pleasurable experience is probably the best way to go about it. I mean, if you don’t see cold showers as a pleasurable experience, I wouldn’t start there. I would start with something else.

Just think that you’re stretching yourself, but if you do it purposely and you don’t take it so seriously and you allow yourself to be fully present in the experience. You’ve heard about meditation. Well, okay, then just try for a week to in the morning, right after you wake up and maybe take a shower, just sit with yourself on the ground with your eyes closed and just focus on your breathing. Just show up and be as present as you can. Don’t try and do anything else. You don’t need to learn anything else, just try that. 

Then try and have experiences that will grow you. It could be trying to be nice to people who are a little bit grumpy to you. There’s so many ways and you start to get into a sense of I can do this. Wow, that wasn’t too hard. Wow, I kind of liked that. Suddenly it’s kind of opening up and suddenly you have more choice and that’s the big thing.

Damianne President: [44:54] It’s amazing because I’m always surprised by people who go to the restaurant and always order the same thing. I’ve been trying to put myself in those shoes and think, Oh, maybe they just like the comfort of knowing that this is something good and they’re always going to get it. I love going to restaurants that have changing menus because I’m going to get to choose something I’ve never had before, but whatever it is that appeals to you, I guess everybody has something where they like a bit of comfort and they like a bit of difference, but it could be really interesting to explore and see where might you experience some new pleasure or joy that you didn’t even know was possible?

David Brower: [45:35] Yeah. And I would say for you my suggestion there, cause I think it’s good to have both, and I don’t know how frequently you go to these restaurants and if it’s every day that’s a problem, but eating something you really enjoyed and then going back three months later to a place to eat those special ribs with that special barbecue sauce, that could be worth just going back and savoring again, like that in itself. So I think at home we get a little bit into this and my thing again, is how can I get more pleasure out of something that I already know? 

And it goes back to being more present and it goes back to appreciation and understanding and expressing what you’re experiencing and suddenly you’re savoring and suddenly discovering layers that you didn’t notice before. Like, wow, the sauce actually has a lemon taste at the end I didn’t even notice. So ideally for me, it’s like, we have a little bit of both, like you went and refined something that’s familiar and there are other sides where it’s like, well, what if we tried something different?

And I think it’s good getting good at kind of both. And again, it’s how can you get even more pleasure out of this and more meaning out of it this time than last time. Maybe you’re not the one deciding what you’re eating, you’re going to your friend’s house, family, and they’re serving the same thing again. It’s good, but you’re just kinda like, well, maybe there’s something there that you can still go deeper and it’s such a great metaphor for life.

Such a great metaphor.

Damianne President: [47:01] And it’s also a great way to combat hedonic adaptation, is to find the opportunity to savour that thing and to create those neural pathways where you can reaccess that ability to savour. 

David Brower: [47:13] Yeah. And just get more pleasure out of it. Oh my gosh.

Fast 5 [47:16]

Damianne President: [47:16] I’m going to do a quick five, one sentence or one word for each of these questions. 

 You have a meeting coming up in 12 hours, what are you doing right now? It’s a high power meeting. What are you doing in the 12 hours before it?

David Brower: [47:31] Postponing getting ready.

Damianne President: [47:35] Do you have a phrase or a pep talk you say to yourself when you’re struggling with motivation?

David Brower: [47:41] Start again. I learned that when I was doing Vipassana silent retreat and you come back into the meditation and your brain wanders. Just start again, start again, start again.

Damianne President: [47:53] We know you live in Paris. If you have guests, what’s the first place you’re taking them or the first thing you’re showing them?

David Brower: [48:00] I’m showing them what I’m cooking.

Damianne President: [48:03] I could have guessed that What is the thing that’s guaranteed to recharge you and increase your energy?

David Brower: [48:11] Bicycling.

Damianne President: [48:14] You have been given the gift of time. So you have some time affluence and so you have a free day and you can do anything you want. What are you doing on that day?

David Brower: [48:23] I’m going to the ocean side to go swim in the ocean.

Damianne President: [48:27] Cold water?

David Brower: [48:29] It doesn’t have to be, but….

Damianne President: [48:30] I’m just teasing.

David Brower: [48:33] If I’m alone, that’s probably okay. If I’m with other people, it would be warmer.

It only takes one person potentially or one thing you see on internet or something that can lead you down another path. That’s all you need.


There’s always a next possibility, that we can adapt and we can change and we can grow and we can learn again and again and again. And so we’re never really trapped.

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