My guest, Jim Soha, talks about the various aspects of his life that carried him on his journey from "head to heart". There was his duel education in seminary and med school; his marriage to his wife and sharing 2 children with her; his divorce and coming out; his marriage to his soulmate, who died suddenly after 10 years together. I found myself really relating to Jim's "head to heart" story. If Jim's story doesn't lift you up, his infectious energy certainly will. This episode is filled with wisdom bombs.
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Coach Maddox 0:03
Hello, Jim Soha and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I'm glad to have you here.
Jim Soha 0:09
It's great to be here, Maddox. Thanks for having me.
Coach Maddox 0:12
Absolutely. I've been really looking forward to this because I know whatever. After meeting you this last summer, I know that whatever story you got, it's going to be good. So
Jim Soha 0:22
Well, it's always with you. Thanks.
Coach Maddox 0:25
So let me tell the listeners that Jim, he is a physician, a life and wellness coach, a dad, a daddy, and a spiritual seeker. And I love that that has to be the most creative title that anybody has given themselves thus far on this podcast. And there's probably some explanation somewhere in there,
Jim Soha 0:47
We can dive anywhere in of course,
Coach Maddox 0:50
Exactly. So Jim, why don't you tell the listeners how you and I met, how we know each other? And what, you know, brought us to this moment right now.
Jim Soha 1:00
Sure, yeah, we had the pleasure of meeting this late spring in May in upstate New York, at a retreat center, where the gate coach's Alliance annual meeting took place and got to spend time together and talk about coaching and our paths crossed. And we had some really good connecting conversations together and some good sharing about how our personal lives and our professional lives were intertwined. And, you know, met a lot of other wonderful men who were doing the same kind of work as we so it was in that wonderful space that we got to meet each other. So it was it was a good, good soup Soup for the Soul our time together.
Coach Maddox 1:36
Absolutely. That was truly a magical experience. And it's already marked off on my calendar, and I can't wait till May of 23 to be there in that energy and with those wonderful spirits again,
Jim Soha 1:50
Coach Maddox 1:52
So my first question for you is, what does it mean to you to be an authentic gay man?
Jim Soha 2:01
Oh, well, let's see. I think for me, authenticity comes from the space between the head and the heart. There's a saying that the longest journey a person makes is from their head to their heart over the course of their lifetime. That gets been my biggest challenge as a gay man in this world is going from Head to Heart. And so to be an authentic gay man is a space where you both your, the way you think and the way you feel and the way you do in the world are aligned. And so that's where I would, that's what I think authenticity is, is where it's anchored.
Coach Maddox 2:38
That's beautiful. I love that. And as you say that I'm thinking, I'm reflecting back very briefly, and just thinking, wow, yeah, that journey from Head to Heart has been a very long journey. And I'm still on it, you know, but I'm, I'm much closer to the heart than I was when I started. So I guess that's a good thing.
Jim Soha 2:59
It's a great thing. It's a training, or an example that we don't often see, we're often in our heads about things and taught that we can think our way through the world, and certainly how we think and our critical thinking skills are necessary on so many levels. However, when it comes to the spaces of the heart, you know, the mind sometimes can trip us up with that, and can keep us distance from who we really are, what we want and what we need. And so it's been my kind of, I guess, dedication to myself to bridge that gap. So that my how I think and how I feel are in alignment and that I can then act authentically in the world as Jim Soha. Who I am in, in my total being.
Coach Maddox 3:44
Yes, anybody in my sphere of influence has heard me say the mind will lie to you like a bitch. But the heart, the heart never tells a lie. That heart only tells the truth.
Jim Soha 3:55
It sure does. It sure, doesn't it. It is relentless in its pursuit of us. And that's what I love about heartspace and connecting to what you know, who we are in our core and our soul and how that how that examples itself in our lives and how it authenticates in how we live in the world. So yeah, I think the way in which we can bridge that gap, the more we can work on bridging the gap between how we think and how we feel and then how we act that will lead to authenticity and healing within ourselves and within the world and within each other.
Coach Maddox 4:26
Yeah, I absolutely love the way you have language that and that is exactly what we're here for. That's what this is all about. That's why I named it the authentic gay man podcast. Yeah. And
Jim Soha 4:37
I appreciate that Maddox. What great work that you're doing. I really appreciate the the space that you're creating for people like me to come together you know, we can come together and share our stories and, and and hopefully that will reach people at spaces where their stories intersect and they can grow and heal as well. Thank you.
Coach Maddox 4:56
Thank you, and it certainly has been a gift to me as well, I don't think when I started this, I thought it was going to really be for the listeners and never realized how big a gift the stories have been. All these other side, not my stories, but other men's stories have been such a gift to me that I didn't see that coming. There's so many things about this that I didn't see coming and must have been very, very pleasant surprises. Yes. So let's get down to you know, our main topic, what we're really here to talk about your story, your journey, which is what, what is the most challenging thing that you have had to go through in this lifetime? Or perhaps are still going through?
Jim Soha 5:46
Well, globally, I think just it leads back to your first question about authenticity and living an authentic life, I think for me, and the time in which I grew up, where maybe being myself was not as welcomed, or I didn't feel that it was as welcomed. And I had to think my way into places of safety, you know, ways I could be in the world in order to survive when all the while my heart was asking for something different or to live differently. But, you know, there's a time and a place that allows for that, and there are times and places that don't and, you know, for whatever reason, the spaces that I grew up in, and the times that I grew up in, you know, didn't always allow, you know, who I want it to be to be expressed as, as authentically as I like. And I've spent a lot of time energy and therapy money, deconstructing the ways in which I've, you know, had to protect myself and in order to survive, and then realizing that I could lay down those protections and to show up as who I am and what I want. So, going back to the initial question about what is authenticity? And then your second question about what's been my biggest challenge, my biggest challenge has been taking that journey from my head to my heart, allowing what I want and what I need to be the driver of, you know, how I go about expressing myself in the world and interacting in the world, as opposed to what I think I should do, or what I was told to do the ideas about myself that I was trying to live up to, as opposed to just living out my truth. So that's how I would answer that's how those two questions are really intricately, you know, intertwined for me and my journey.
Coach Maddox 7:28
Well, and one of the things that you called out and I want to take a little bit deeper dive in that is you talked about, you know, doing the work and, and the the therapy, the money in the therapy that that it costs to do this, the time, the energy, tell me a little bit more, because I know my own journey was included coaches, and therapists and books and workshops, and retreats and seminars, and you name it over a period of well, I'm getting really close to 40 years now that I have done all of those things throughout. I'd love to hear more about you know, cuz I kind of want to drive home that, you know, we don't get there without doing the work. If there's no, somebody drops it on a silver platter in your lap, it just doesn't work that way. If we want the that rewarding place that we live in called authenticity and a meaningful life. It's because we have taken the wheel of the bus and driven the bus
Jim Soha 8:29
there. Yes, yes. So
Coach Maddox 8:31
tell me a little bit about unpack some of the varying different things that you have done over the years to facilitate that journey.
Jim Soha 8:40
Right, right. Right. Well, you know, maybe by way of autobiography, I grew up in a very rural part of Maryland, beautiful country on the eastern shore where at the time that I grew up there you know, gender roles were very strict and defined boys played football, basketball and baseball girls did cheerleading, there was very strict ways of being in the world. You know, didn't always align with what I felt was my natural way of being I was a tennis playing, wanting to play the piano. I did like baseball but didn't like the football you know, I fit in but yet I didn't fit in at the same time and, and the culture at the time didn't always allow for difference or exploration of difference. But as someone who was really driven academically from a very young age, and also driven very spiritually, from a very young age, I was always really attracted to my life and my church that I grew up in had lots of God questions and questions about the you know, who God was, I had this sense about me that I there was always more to learn. And so I was a seeker both intellectually spiritually from a very, very young age and so much so that I decided, you know, at the age of 13, I needed to go to a different place to go to school. I wanted to be challenged in a way that I wasn't feeling challenged at the time academic McLean, and got myself into a boarding school in Maryland, and there was exposed to, you know, multiple, multicultural, multiple cultures that I had not had experience with, before, having grown up in a very isolated part of Maryland and my world, you know, slowly started to open up and that people of different religions, different ethnic backgrounds that were just not familiar to my, you know, where I grew up. And that just sort of, you know, opened me up to a way of thinking about the world that just, you know, I had not experienced before, and allowed me to ask questions that I was not allowed to ask, or just wasn't given opportunity to ask, in my more sheltered space from where I came from, and, and that's when segwayed into my college years of, you know, I was really drawn to books and ideas and spirituality and felt really comfortable in the area became more and more comfortable in the area of not knowing than knowing. But at the same time, needed some comfort and some parameters or some safety. So during college, I was really drawn into Christian evangelicalism and had a very, you know, had a very good experience in that world. But that world also didn't necessarily allow me to ask questions about myself in a way that was aligned, I had to sequester, running the authentic gay male podcast, I'm gay, that that sort of conversation was not allowed in the in that spiritual context. So I had to wrestle with being authentic. In terms of my spiritual quest, with my personal authenticity, how do I show up to these questions authentically, if I'm not allowed to be myself. And so that led to, you know, having to kind of sequester aside, what I felt were sort of my personal issues for the bigger questions in life. And, like many men of my age, you know, sort of sort of put those away. But those questions do, I thought we could kind of pray them away or set them away. And, you know, chose after college was a sort of a circuitous way of saying, after college, I decided I want to go to seminary. And then I was also very interested in becoming a doctor. So long story short, I went to seminary and there I met my first spouse, a woman who I married and ended up having two children with who are now 21 and 19. And who we co parent together very well. But, you know, at that came at a sacrifice to myself, I was not able to really show up, obviously, as what was stirring on the inside. And then that sort of segmented into me going from seminary into medical school, which is what my plan had been, by the end of college is very interested in science and religion and spirituality, and became a emergency medicine physician, which was another great space to have to sequester emotions and feelings, practicing emergency medicine. But, you know, over time, you know, the tight bow and the meat packaging that I had put around myself all those years to, in order to survive, I realized that those things, those, that packaging was not fitting anywhere. And it was not healthy. For me, it was unhealthy for my family. And so I decided in 2005, that I needed to divorce and I needed to sort of follow my authentic self. And that's when I came out was in 2005. So I had been out and proud since then, you know, growing in that pride and learning more about myself, and then having to then look back and say, okay, the patterns and habits that I've learned over the course of a lifetime, in terms of protecting myself in order to survive, those things didn't just go away by owning my sexuality, those have become habits and patterns of way of dealing and being in the world that needed to be deconstructed. In my interactions with everyone, people I'd meet on the street, family, friends, these kinds of ego defense mechanisms had kind of infiltrated and really taken root. So I, I've spent the last, you know, 17 years, you know, being very intentional about looking at the ways in which I have you know, separated myself from myself where where I think the way the way I've should be and the way I want to be having those two things come together and marry and and try to give myself myself space to breathe and be the person that I am I you know, I am a physician, I am a life and wellness coach. I have two children. I'm a dad, I'm also 54 So some people call me daddy and I'm a spiritual seeker I am all of these things and how, how they go about interacting and talking with themselves and being in the world. That's been the work that I've been sort of committed to, you know, very diligently and straightforwardly over the last 17 years. So that's sort of like the, the autobiography The sort of the story behind the story of you know, what brings me to the space of wanting to become an being more authentic and to Are people on their path to authenticity?
Coach Maddox 15:03
Well, when you said one word that kind of stuck out to me, and that was deconstruct, and I think that we, oftentimes that deconstruction is a lifelong process. We spent so long in those places living in authentically and having all those safety and protection mechanisms around us that it for many of us, I think there are probably a percentage of us that will live our life out and die and still are deconstructing those. I don't I don't think it's a once and done thing at all. How do you have you experienced that you said 17 years, do you still feel like there's more to go in that deconstruction process?
Jim Soha 15:46
There certainly is, I mean, I've had experiences that have helped me to let go of more and more of the masks that you know, I've sort of put on in front of myself in order to survive in the world. And it's, it's an interesting space Max, when you think about it, we, we create ways of defending or protecting ourselves, and then we go out into the world with that mask, and that mask that interacts with other people's masks, and then we add layers to that, or more other defensive ways when that mask doesn't work, or that way of defending doesn't work. And then so we have mask upon mask upon mask until we get to the point where, you know, we have so many masks so many layers of costume between who we really are, and who we self present, the sooner and the quicker that we can identify those places of self defensiveness and can let them down and show up vulnerably and show up as ourselves and realize that really, you fundamentally your opinion of me is really none of my business, your belief about me, can never hurt me, the only place where the hurt happens is when I internalize that and do it to myself. So when I know and I, when I come to realize that no, no thing that I can think of that you may think of me can ever hurt me, I can just show up as myself, I can show up. And if you know, you take it if you like it, if you don't, you don't. And it says nothing about me or there's nothing to defend myself, my, my job in this world is to show up as me and to interact as authentically as I can with those around me. And when those triggers happen, and those defenses arise. There you are, and let me set you down. Let me come back to me. Because really, your opinion of me cannot function that you cannot hurt me. I am who I am, apart from who I think you think I am.
Coach Maddox 17:43
And that's a really powerful place to operate from, you know, I know when I decided to Lowes host this podcast and started putting myself out there in such a vulnerable manner. Not only in the podcast episodes, I talked so much about my own personal life and journey and issues. But I produce a Facebook Live every Wednesday and have now for well, nearly 40 weeks, I haven't missed a single week. And I talk about pretty personal things in those videos. And I realized when I started that, that on social media, there was going to be a certain amount of attack. And and there has been not as much as I thought there might be but there has been some, some somewhat hateful, hurtful things. And I had spent time like you said in that conversation of what other people think is none of my business. And I had predetermined how I was going to respond to those comments. I had predetermined how I was going to allow myself to feel or not feel about those comments. I had done everything I could to prepare myself. And it took a lot longer for it to happen than I thought it finally came through. I don't know here about three months ago. I got my first really hateful comment. And I went there it is it put it I actually kind of put a smile on my face. Because I was like, there it is, you know, and I don't have to do anything with that. I didn't respond. I didn't delete it. I just I thought you know, I'm gonna leave it there so the world can see who that person is. And I just went on about my business and
Jim Soha 19:33
right. You didn't believe you didn't believe what was trying attempting to be mirrored back to you. It didn't have the hook. And, you know, some days were more successful at that than others. Right. Some days, you know, somebody will say something and, you know, at the core, it's not true, but yet there's still that part of you that believes it and that's the lifelong work right when those books arise. They're actually little gifts.
Coach Maddox 19:56
Oh yes, they are. Right.
Jim Soha 19:57
They're beautiful gifts because they remind us have, oh, there's something that I'm still believing about myself. There's some, I may have taken off the mask, or most of the makeup, but I got a little bit leftover on my cheek, I gotta wash that off. Oh, that harkens back to a core belief that I that no longer serves me. So, you know, Bravo for you for being willing to sort of look at that and and let it be. And you're right, you know, hurting people try to hurt people. So someone who's you know, proffering that kind of hate towards you is, you know, says more about it says 100% about them and nothing of you. And you recognize that?
Coach Maddox 20:35
Yes, there was a point when I realized that it could go two ways. And it was a gift either way it went, you know, it really got to me and I was like, Oh, my God, you know, then I was it made me aware that there was something inside of me that was yet to be healed? Yes. Yes. And if I let it just roll off and didn't let it bother me at all, then that was an indication of how far I've come and and how comfortable in my own skin? I am. And it was this beautiful. affirmation. Yes. So it's a gift. Either way. It's a gift, you either get something valuable out of it. Either way.
Jim Soha 21:18
That's absolutely correct. Agreed. 100%.
Coach Maddox 21:22
So, tell me the next leg of your story. You said it was the story behind the story. Let's get into the story in front of the story now.
Jim Soha 21:33
Yeah, I think you know, another component of, you know, my dive into authenticity. Really, you know, I mentioned that I was married and then divorced. And I had the I had the beautiful experience of remarrying. But this time I married my soulmate, who I considered and still consider on some level my or No, he's still is he's just in a different dimension, my soulmate mark, who's now passed, and he passed suddenly in 2018. And, you know, so I've been widowed now for four years, and I'm re entering the space of exploring, you know, connecting again, or developing relationship again. And from that space of him having lost someone so, you know, dear to me, from a place of where I had really owned who I was fully as, as a gay man, you know, it was it was such a gift, and then to experience that loss. And to go through that, that experience really has really challenged me, they challenged me again, to, you know, now without this person, who am I, now, without the story that I was building with this person? Who am I now without the future? You know, who am I it refocused for me? Or caused me to refocus back on Okay, who am I? What do I want? What do I need? How do I go about about doing that? So, you know, from that grief, and the optimization of that grief, and the gratitude of having had that those 10 years with him, you know, you know, now on the next, you know, journey, and the next journey is you know, about finding the next who I'm gonna be partnered with, and what kind of career am I going to do? Am I, you know, as a physician, I'm really, I'm looking to expand my adult life coach, you know, how do I combine those two things. So, I feel like I'm really in a really exciting space in my life. The seedling is just starting to sprout, I'm looking forward to seeing. And in many ways, I don't know what's coming next. But it's a really great place to be not knowing. And it's the first time in my life where not knowing is so exciting. Because it's allowing me to show up in the present, and allowing the present to unfold into what should be and what can be based on what I want and what, what what is what vibes with my heart in my mind, as opposed to setting a goal and, and going and trying to reach a goal. So it's, it's completely reoriented how I'm going about living out this next chapter in my life and how I'm going about discovering what I want to do both as a career and as a as a partner. So it's, it's super exciting. It's even the not knowing is exciting.
Coach Maddox 24:16
Well, and I'm feeling that you know, I'm an empath. So I'm feeling the energy coming off of you as you're having this conversation. And it's very, it's very bright and uplifting energy like I can feel your excitement, your openness and you're embracing the uncertainty.
Jim Soha 24:37
It's an I thank you for that. And thank you for seeing that and calling that out. I appreciate hearing that and it's it's not always been easy. I've been a goal setter, I've been a doer I've been a got a you know, put on the football uniform and just go through it, put your head down, make things happen, and have proved myself a warrior in that way. Now I'm more you know, how do I be a P swole warrior in the now how do I show up as my self in the now and allow that to discover what needs to happen next, still setting goals still obviously, a goal oriented person on some level, but going about goal setting very differently. And it's been it's, it's a really new space for me and I'm really enjoying it because it leads me to conversations and people like this, you know that otherwise, I probably wouldn't have, I would have been too focused on getting things done to you know, think about having space like this. So, it's, um, it's a good place to be at this point in my life at 54.
Coach Maddox 25:35
Well, there's a couple of things that I'm hearing, you know, I'm hearing you, you're not saying this, I'm completely energetically picking this up, but you're, you're moving from a human doing to being a human being absolutely
Jim Soha 25:50
100%. And, and
Coach Maddox 25:51
there is this. Another thing that I'm observing as you talk is, you're, you're very focused on being present, and then allowing it to unfold organically, you know, when we're serious doers, and we got the, we've got the goals and all the strategy steps to get to the goals, it's kind of like forcing things to happen, it's like, trying to move the train down the track in the direction we want to go, rather than allowing it to ride along on the trails, the train tracks that are already, you know, in place. I think that's part of the lifelong journey that we spend, don't you?
Jim Soha 26:38
I do, and I, it's so much fun to, we've all heard about, you know, just be in The Now stay in the now and that that was a challenging space for me for a lot of reasons over the over the years. But as I've sort of, you know, practice is taken on practices to make myself more present, what makes it so exciting on so many levels is you don't know what's going to show up in yourself or in the other person, you actually see yourself as a discovery process, you are discovering yourself as you stay present. And as you stay present, you know, different parts of your personality, your strengths, your your weaknesses, they all, they come forward, and you can just you can be lovingly present with them. And then they get to interact so beautifully and with other people in the world. And you discover new things about yourself that you didn't even realize were there before new sensitivities, new interests, new weaknesses that you need to work on, like, oh, isn't that exciting, I have a new place I can grow. I just found a new strength. I just found a new friend, when you do it that way. And it's this this unfolding process of both self and other in the world. They're they they are so intertwined, and they are intertwined. And it just makes life that much it makes it much more interesting and fun to be in.
Coach Maddox 27:57
Yes, yes. And new perspectives. Add to that wonderful list that you just said, you know, I've come to realize that when I've got my plan, and I'm just hell bent to make that plan happen. I'm, I'm squeezing. Depending on what you believe in, you know, I could say I'm squeezing God out, or I'm squeezing the divine energy out or the universe out. You know, sometimes we're so attached to our idea of what it needs to be that there's the universe actually has something in store for us that's far greater than our, our plan. And we completely missed the boat because we're so attached to our plan.
Jim Soha 28:44
Yes, yes, that that happens so frequently. And fortunately, the universe is so much more loving and patient with us, and is the eternal lover, who continues to show up and says, Oh, that's so cute. Let me let me redirect, you know, and then things happen in our lives that redirect us back to where we need to at least point at help to point us in the right direction. Keep sending the signals, you know, the universe does never leave us alone. God never leaves us alone. And but you're right, sometimes we get so focused and so myopic and so turned in on oneself that it's difficult to you know, stay president now that's that takes work. It's a it's a lifetime process.
Coach Maddox 29:25
It does letting go It's what I always think of the term of surrender or letting go and by surrender, I don't mean giving up I mean, giving in,
Jim Soha 29:34
yes, just allowing what is to be showing up to that space. And then bringing your frustrations and your wishes and your you know, your failures all to that moment and letting the now teach you what it means to teach you and transform those things for you. If you if you will allow that to happen. Let that's it letting go that's that can be challenging, but that's the that's the word
Coach Maddox 30:00
If that is the work, I can look back on how much of my life I put my little canoe in the river of life. And then I pointed it upstream. And I paddled like Hell, yes, just paddle like hell, and never really ever got where I wanted to go. Yes, yeah. And now you know, I'm more about putting the canoe in the river getting in and just going down down with the current just riding with the current, or whether it's a canoe or an inner tube, you know, sometimes I use the, the inner tube, I've gotten a little cocktail with the umbrella in the top, you know, and I'm just following along with the flow of life, because I do recall a lot of trying to paddle upstream and never ever really get to the destination that I wanted to go because the current was always stronger than I was.
Jim Soha 30:51
And typically, it's been my experience to that metaphor that when, certainly there are things in life that require effort, and they can be taxing, however, if that's the persistent theme, or if what you're doing is a persistent upstream, you know, against your core against your heart, it likely warrants a reflection or redirection, it's not to say that certain things in life aren't hard, or that certain things don't require significant effort. That's not what I'm saying. But if they in any way, shape, or form are not connected to heartflow, it's probably likely you need to look look in a different direction.
Coach Maddox 31:32
You're, I'm a metaphor person. Yeah, I'm not sitting here going, Oh, you're describing shoving a square peg into a round hole.
Jim Soha 31:40
Right? Without lube. Right, which you can do that and you hammer enough, but you'll break the edges of that square off, and it's gonna hurt. And it doesn't feel good. And you know, we've all done that I've done that in my own autobiography, just keep going, keep forcing this, keep forcing this. And against, you know, your heart, your where your heart is wanting to be. It doesn't. Unfortunately, it doesn't work, or the way it works can be quite painful.
Coach Maddox 32:06
I agree completely. Well, where what? What would you say is the the one thing that really stands out in your mind about that journey to authenticity? What is? What is the one? I mean? It's been a whole variety of things that you've learned that have carried you down that path, but which one was the big aha moment?
Jim Soha 32:38
What was the big aha moment?
Coach Maddox 32:41
The thing that really turned the tide towards authenticity.
Jim Soha 32:48
I think that would be, I don't think I know that that would be my connection to God, and who I believe God to be in all of us. Because I think at our core, having been what I believe in my spiritual tradition and theology is that having been created in God's image, that we each are a part of the eternal, that that is our true identity, that that's where all conversation about self begins. And from that space, anything that speaks contrary to that speaks against that, whether it be an unkind word to yourself, or an unkind word from another, or a belief that in any way says that you do not belong to and are not part of the Divine, of love. Anything that does not speak of that love is not to be heeded. And in as much as I've been able to remove the voices, both within and without, with the help, I believe of grace, but in the in as much as I've been able to say, you know, that voice does not align with who I am. And I know what my true core Do I know you to be at your who I believe you to be at your core, but I believe all humans are at their core, anything that does not speak to that, I think is illusion and should not be you should not be heated. From that space. It empowers me to then listen to deep within. Because I know that if what I think want and need is aligned with loving action towards self and others in the world. I can trust that. I can trust that. And so then it leads me to act in the world in ways that are loving and kind. Sound may sound a little woowoo but it's it's an internal barometer that I believe is given to us by our Creator, the universe, spirit, energy, whatever, whatever word that you that one might put around that but that we belong and always will belong to that, that entity and from that everything else take shape. So I think my, my spiritual questing and my spiritual belief structure and I believe Grace are the things that have pushed me and prodded me towards authenticity, authenticity, because the most loving thing that I can do for myself, the most loving thing that I can do for you, and the most loving thing that I can do, and can demonstrate to my Creator, is to be who I am at my core. And that is love. From that, everything else is secondary.
Coach Maddox 35:44
And as you have moved more into this deeper authenticity, that love that's at the core that you talk about. How has that? How's that shown up in your life? Has that been reflected back to you in in your life?
Jim Soha 36:10
I got to meet someone like you. I got to share this kind of space. I got to have loving family and friends, the people that I've met in this world, I mean, we're all reflections of God's love. And so that's where I begin with that question. It manifests itself in less fear. I mean, I think the opposite of love is fear. And so the places in my life where I have act acted fearful ly or have perpetuated fear, I've realized they don't serve, I remove those. And then life starts, then I'm downstream, I'm flowing in a different way, when I'm acting fearfully. I'm paddling upstream. That's, that's shown in, you know, in my career and how I deal with people on my job and has shown and how I've gone about interacting in the world. So I think it has, it has it shows up by removing fear, the fear response in me, or severely minimizing the fear response that I don't need to respond fearfully, and it has opened my eyes to, you know, see, you know, the love and beauty in the world that I would not have seen, have I been in a place of fear? So that's maybe a little less concrete or not as concrete an answer as you were asking for it. But that's how I that's how that's how it contextualized is, for me how I experience it is that I am no longer controlled by or acting out of fear.
Coach Maddox 37:31
Well, and what you're really talking about are just quite simply the, the benefits of authenticity. You know, there there's some things that we do in life that have a cost, and then there's some things that have a payoff, and you're talking about authenticity, these pay off.
Jim Soha 37:51
Yes, a fearless life. And a fearless life is is just showing up as self. Because there's because back, you know, there's nothing to fear about, about my, my core self ever being marred or inhibited by something outside, it's impossible. Because I'm connected to something much greater than fear. And that's love.
Coach Maddox 38:19
Beautiful. And for you. Not generally speaking, but for you. How does vulnerability play into that? That authenticity journey that you have made? How are those two intertwined or how do they work together?
Jim Soha 38:41
I think it's being willing and able to show up and share the space or share the events in the history where it maybe you didn't act as lovingly or as you know, or were fearful things you know, occurred to you or that you how you acted out of fear and being able to show up vulnerably and share those spaces where you didn't experience love in the way that you needed to or wanted to. Vulnerability is about sharing your tote, your your complete story, not just your your platitudes, but those spaces where maybe you're not as proud or maybe you would make a different choice, you know, at this at this point in your life. So vulnerability is a beautiful space because it really is about just being human, we make mistakes. We, we sometimes we do great and sometimes we fail and vulnerability is showing up owning it, you know, making, you know, changing course. Reconciling and moving forward and being honest about that story in its totality. So vulnerability is a beautiful space because it removes fear because it says hey, you know, not only have I am I imperfect, but I'm okay being imperfect, doesn't mean I'm gonna stay in my I might fearful space, but I'm gonna, I'm going to show up as my imperfect self, and I'm going to try to evolve forward towards who I know I am.
Coach Maddox 40:10
I think when we can step into that vulnerable space that we give ourselves a gigantic gift, we give the person that we're being vulnerable with a gigantic gift. I know, for me, whether it's me being vulnerable, or whether I'm with somebody, and they're being vulnerable. For me, I experience this. Really, very magnified closeness. When that vulnerability is present, I can, I can be in the presence of a stranger, somebody that I don't even know we've just met, and they can do that vulnerable thing. And it draws me in, like, really draws me in. And I wonder if that's a universal thing? I think it is, I don't know for sure. I think it is, maybe there's some exceptions, some people are frightened by vulnerability, and they shy away from it. I've had experiences where I got really vulnerable. And I can remember one time this is probably been about 30 years ago, a friend I got really vulnerable, I was just really appreciating his friendship and telling him how much his friendship meant to me and I and I cried, and it made him so uncomfortable, he didn't come around anymore. We weren't friends after that. So it doesn't draw everybody in, it depends on where they are in their own process. If they're not really, in that authentic and vulnerable space, then your authenticity and vulnerability is going to make them way more uncomfortable than it is draw them to you and make them safe and comfortable.
Jim Soha 41:52
That it certainly does happen. And it can It is its own Civ on some level as you share, you know, vulnerable parts of your story. Some people are drawn in, and some people at you know, for whatever reason, we don't know, can't share that space. And that's okay, too. But you and your bravery, came forward and said, This is who I am. And you You came from a good space, a loving space, and what they do with that information is their business and you continue to be you know, continue to be yourself. So vulnerability is such a gift. And I so appreciate the work that you're doing, because it allows for we as gay men to share stories of vulnerability, to share our stories. And though my story is different than yours is different than the next. You know, when we look at it sort of metaphorically, you know, when I talk about my loss of my love mark, you may not have experienced something different, but you know, loss in and of yourself, you've experienced a loss. So there's cross reactivity. So, you know, we learn from each other by sharing our stories by sharing our vulnerabilities. Because, you know, we're human, and you know, we each have our own story. And by sharing it and sharing them vulnerably and honestly and authentically, you know, we're healed, we're move forward. We're not alone.
Coach Maddox 43:07
Yes, I agree with everything you said there completely Ditto. I think it was a few months ago when I realized that vulnerability is an integral part of manifestation. And it just one day, it just came to me, I had a couple of people that I was coaching, and I was watching them move into a deeper level of vulnerability. And at the same time, they were just manifesting crazy stuff. Crazy, good stuff. And then I started to see it happen in my own life. And I thought, Okay, what's the connection here? And it just, you know, the dots connected and I got, wow, manifestation is dependent on vulnerability.
Jim Soha 43:53
So how did you experience that? I'm curious. Well, what
Coach Maddox 43:57
I was experiencing, and what I was watching in these two people that I was working with was, the more vulnerable they got, they were drawing people into them. I was drawing people into me with that vulnerability. And when we draw people closer, they're eager to support. They're eager to help. They're eager to provide whatever resources they have. They're eager to refer to you. It just shows up in a gazillion different ways. But stop and think about it for a moment when you are really drawn to another human being. Do you not have the desire to just do anything you could to help them?
Jim Soha 44:43
Yes, that tendency arise to want to be there for them and support them in their humaneness in as much as they are supporting you. You know? Yes, absolutely. That definitely arises. And so
Coach Maddox 44:53
for each new human being out in that world that we can share that vulnerable part of ourselves. We bring On an ally that now is willing to do whatever they can to support us in our process. So all kinds of of support and resources and all kinds of crazy introductions come to us, as we share our vulnerable sales and draw these people to us. I have coined the phrase that, that vulnerability builds bridges, opens doors, and excuse me clears pathways in a manner that nothing else can.
Jim Soha 45:43
Yes, yes, it's like, it's almost the, the antidote to hurting people hurt people. It's like, you know, loving people love people. And we love each other by first loving ourselves and lovingly sharing our story with others and allowing, creating space for them to do the same. And from that, you know, more, you know, support and kindness, and care for one another naturally unfolds from that kind of space.
Coach Maddox 46:10
Most of us have loving and giving hearts, if there's somebody that we care about, we want to see them do well. And so we will support them in whatever the way that we can. Excuse me, but when we don't get vulnerable, and we don't share that with those around us that we need help, or we need support. Yes. That's the opposite of manifestation.
Jim Soha 46:37
Yes, it's living from fear. Because ultimately, the choice to not be vulnerable, you were afraid there's something there's something we're afraid of. And typically, we're afraid of rejection, or we're afraid of unacceptance, or we're afraid of being judged a particular way. And, for me, at least, when I realized that that can't happen, you certainly can choose to judge me in any way shape, or form, you could put something on my, my podcast website, like that person did to you, you can say something about me to another person, you can write it, you can publish it, whatever you'd like to do, but ultimately, that has nothing to do with me. Then fear is removed from the equation on me, I don't have to show up any less authentically or less vulnerably. Because of the choice that you made. Now, you want to obviously you want to care for oneself, and you know, do it reasonably and you know, not not everybody has a kind, loving heart. However, when I realized that you, your thought or your opinion of me, cannot hurt me, I then I can continue to be vulnerable. Because you cannot hurt me in that
Coach Maddox 47:43
way. Yes, yes, I would say maybe the biggest thing that, you know, I asked you a minute ago, what was the, you know, the biggest aha moment in your authenticity, journey. And for me, it was, and it plays into authenticity and vulnerability. It was realizing that I had spent most of my life looking for safety outside of myself. You know, I would every person I met it was like, Are you safe? Are you safe? Do you have a safe space for me, and I was looking for it outside of myself, where it does not live. Correct. And it's been sometime in maybe the last couple of years, maybe three, where I just had this epiphany, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I was looking for safety where it didn't live. And I realized that safety can only come from me that I'm responsible for my own sense of safety. And that has to happen internally. And once I declared myself safe on that internal level, then suddenly, I had looked for safety out in the world all my life and rarely ever found it. But as soon as I discovered it inside of myself, and I could see it everywhere outside of myself, I could see safe people all all in front of me safe people that I had never seen. Yes, yes. Before. Yes, safety, that sense of safety that I created by looking forward and establishing it inside of myself. Made it okay to really step into authenticity and step into vulnerability. If I hadn't put the safety piece in there, I'd still be struggling with authenticity and vulnerability. Yes, yes, safety was the stepping stone that carried me down to where I needed to be to to move into those places of authenticity and vulnerability. But I would you know, I would like I want to put this out there not only to you but to the listeners to say you know, if you want to see some magic happen when it comes instant manifestation, just start to lean into your vulnerability, which you're already doing, but start to watch and look for manifestation because I think most of us aren't looking for it. I wasn't looking for it, and I wasn't seeing it because I wasn't looking for it. And then there was that day when I noticed that me and two people I was working with all of a sudden, it was like, something's happening here. And I couldn't quite put my finger on it at first. And then all of a sudden, a little intuitive voice in my head said manifestation and I had to step back and go, what what is what would manifestation had to do with vulnerability? And then it began to just come to me, you know, I was just like, Yeah, beautiful space,
Jim Soha 50:48
beautiful space. There are so many iterations of that. And then ways of, you know, nuancing that and I just find your words, so beautiful around that. What came to mind as I'm listening to you is, at the end of, if you're a Rupal person, he says, you know, if you can't love yourself, how the heck you can love somebody how you love somebody else, can I get an amen? around that, and what I hear when you talk about vulnerability is, and how I sort of internalize it, or how it comes through my paradigm is that you, you know, you loved yourself, you chose to stand in the place of love in yourself, and you then saw it out, then you were able to see it outside and give it outside and create space for it outside to do what love does. And that is create connection, create movement, create, create, essentially, that network love did it created us and us are seeing it, you know, personally, professionally and otherwise. So you love yourself, you know, and you love other people. It's really as complex and as simple as that.
Coach Maddox 51:54
Yes, and I have been just reflecting just in the last day or two on all that has manifested in my life and 2022 back that I had a group meeting with a little tribe of women that I lead by Schneider, and we had conversation around, you know, what have you manifested in 2022. And I could, I could just step back and look at all these incredible things that had come into my life, people and opportunities and experiences. And I could realize with out a single doubt that it was the vulnerability piece that drew every ounce of that to me was it was just as plain as the nose on my face.
Jim Soha 52:43
You showing up authentically that, yeah, and vulnerably Beautiful, beautiful. It's very encouraging. Inspiring, actually.
Coach Maddox 52:53
So thank you, Jim, thank you for that. So in this space that you're in now present moment today, yes. You've gotten to where you are in your journey of authenticity and vulnerability. And you seem to me like you're in a very very good place. I feel that way. What would be the one wisdom bomb that you'd like to drop on the listeners based on your your journey and where you are now what is that? That wisdom bomb that you would like to leave them with?
Jim Soha 53:30
The wisdom bomb? Goodness, what is my wisdom bomb? I think that would be you are love. believe nothing else. Simple and beautiful. You are Love, believe nothing else.
Coach Maddox 53:56
And I just was about to say please repeat that. And you just went there. Yeah, that's really powerful. Simple, beautiful and powerful. Wow. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Well, I loved hearing your story. It was great. I didn't expect any less.
Jim Soha 54:19
Great to be here and to talk story with you as they say in Hawaii. I love that.
Coach Maddox 54:25
How about some rapid fire questions? Go? Are You Ready? Ready? Okay, what has been the best moment of your life thus far?
Jim Soha 54:38
The birth of watching my children being born.
Coach Maddox 54:42
Wow, there's a rapid fire answer. I love it. Okay. What is the one thing that you hide or keep secret because you fear that if someone knew they would judge you
Jim Soha 54:57
one to two pounds of a Twizzlers, black licorice in the closet.
Coach Maddox 55:05
That's great. One to two pounds. Okay,
Jim Soha 55:09
I buy it in one pound bags and I go through it so fast and yes, it's yes. That's that's, that's
Coach Maddox 55:16
pretty serious. Pretty serious. Okay. And final question. What matters most to you, Jim, and why?
Jim Soha 55:30
What matters most to me is connection and connection to other human beings and connection to the earth. Because I believe that we are all one and connected. And the things the illusions that keep us from, from seeing that and living that are the things that keep us from being vulnerable, and keep us from being authentic. And in as much as we can come back to the reality that we are connected one to another, and to the Divine, the world will become a more beautiful, vulnerable and authentic space.
Coach Maddox 56:15
Hmm. I love that. So this begs the question, was that always the case? Was it always the thing that was mattered the most? Was it always those connections? Or is that something that you have realized, as you have journeyed and grown and matured?
Jim Soha 56:34
I think the language obviously, that I'm using now is a lifetime of experience and thought and meditation and prayer and inner work. So the language that I'm using now is obviously an accumulation of a lifetime of experience. But I think as I look back over my life, how am I connected to this present moment has always been in my part of my thinking, as a child growing up, how do I connect to this space authentically? Why am I not? Oh, I guess I can't. Now what do I do? So I think that that question, and that that about being connected to the President has always been with me.
Coach Maddox 57:17
Mm hmm. Yes, I feel that way. I two are very similar, I worded a little bit differently. And I think it was kind of an unconscious thing for most of my life. But I think somehow pandemic and the lock down drove it home for me, where I became consciously aware and am actually able to language it now. And the way I language that is, I have realized that aside from air, water and food, that relationships are the resources, the resource that I value most.
Jim Soha 57:54
Yes, yes. Because we are mirrors, both to and of each other. We mirrored to each other, that which we need to see. And we need each other we we are, we are, we are connected one to another. And that's the reality. And it as much as we can live out that reality in a loving way, the world would become a better space.
Coach Maddox 58:22
I agree completely. Everybody in my life has heard me say you're on a regular basis, we are better together. Absolutely. Whatever together looks like we are better. Together. Yes. Well, this has been absolutely awesome. And I want to say, I want to leave you with one thing before we wrap up. And that is just to tell you that in my eyes, you are indeed inauthentic a gay man. And I knew that the first time I met you, I can remember, one of the conversations that we had at the conference was so real and so heartfelt that I remember, it moved me to tears. I remember shedding a tear while I was talking with you. Of course, that happened a fair amount that week, over those days, you know, like, it was kind of like sometimes a daily thing and sometimes an hourly thing, you know, I cried so much in those four days, and it was never tears of sadness. It was always just tears of being touched very deeply.
Jim Soha 59:30
Well, I appreciate that. And I, if I could say I was asked, I was on a website and it said, What's the best What does someone need to know to get to know you? And the way I responded was, well, if you allow me if you let me get to know you, you know, you will get to know me. It's it's bi directional. And that's how I feel about you, Maddox. So you, you know showed up authentically you showed up vulnerably you created an allowed space by sharing your story and so naturally what out flowed from me was wanting to share mine so Thank you so much for creating space where we can. We can talk story together and share vulnerably in our lives. And I appreciate that connection very much. I appreciate you and I appreciate the work that you're doing.
Coach Maddox 1:00:10
Thank you. Yes, those shared stories are incredibly valuable. Yes, yes, they do. And the more we realize this, the more humanity is going to be better.
Jim Soha 1:00:22
Let's keep praying. So let it be.
Coach Maddox 1:00:24
Let it be exactly.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Physician, Life and Wellness Coach, Dad, Daddy and Spiritual Seeker
Born on the rural eastern shore of Maryland, I have always honored the simple and humble roots of my beginning while enjoying the lifelong quest to learn more and to live larger. From an early age, I was captivated by the God questions planted by my the Lutheran Church I attended with my mother, while being intrigued by the bells and smells and mystical sounds of the Catholic Church of my father's family. I've lived the bifurcated life of the child of divorce, as well as the the inner bifurcation of coming to terms with my sexuality which wasn't always accepted within the cultures I was raised. I found refuge in the praise I received from academic pursuits and intellectual spaces, and after getting myself into boarding school outside Baltimore at the age of 13, I was off to a whole new world of multiculturalism and ideas that had not been readily available to my rural upbringing. In college, I found comfort and safety in novels and poetry and majored in English, while my spiritual and intra-personal questions looked for safety in the somewhat black and white world of Christian Evangelicalism. At the end of my senior year at Boston University, I decided that I wanted to spend my life studying religion and medicine, 2 disciplines that I thought would allow me to dive into my intellect while, perhaps, setting aside the questions of the heart that my sexuality was asking of me. After a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, I married my female seminary sweetheart and then attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in NYC for medical school and my residency was in the adrenaline addicted world of Emergency Medicine. I remained married for 9 years, had 2 children ( a girl and a boy, now 21 and 19 respectively), divorced, and then met the love of my life, a man, with whom I was together for almost 10 years (married for 4 when marriage equality passed) but who died suddenly in 2018, so now a widower. Last year, after almost 20 years of clinical medical practice, I decided to gift myself with a year long sabbatical in order to rest, regenerate and refocus, and to reconnect to the desire to have my lifelong spiritual questing be married to my career path, and I became a Life and Wellness Coach while exploring alternative and complementary medical practices including meditation, yoga, prayer, and plant medicine. I continue to honor my religious history, nut now consider myself a Red Letter Christian Universalist, someone who seeks to live his life based on the words Jesus spoke, and not based primarily the words or theologies constructed around him, while believing that the Love of God is from everlasting to everlasting to all people, in all places, at all times. This belief is informed by a deep affirmation of the dharma, the truth, of all religious and spiritual traditions. I'm currently finishing my sabbatical year, refining my entree back into clinical practice while developing a holistic mindset and goal to reimagine myself as a healed man who seeks to bring healing to the world in whatever way and form I can.