Life Monk Manifesto: The truths I want to show you

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I want to show you that the lofty life can be achieved through a multitude of means all your own.  I want to show you that the only thing one “should” do is to take full responsibility over what we want to experience.  It’s not about just “putting it out into the universe”, it’s about taking control over everything you choose to think, feel, and put out there.

I want to show you that the bad habits and things we think we can’t change about ourselves can be changed in amazing ways.  I want to show you that the lifestyle you think you need to have in order to feel good is very attainable.  I want to show you how amazing it feels to feel free to fully express yourself, live in the moment, build a close relationship with yourself everyday and learn staggering resilience.

I want to show you that things can and will go wrong, and that they mean nothing about your ability as a human or an artist.  I want to show you how getting to know how you operate and why is the best thing you can ever do for yourself, and I want you to experience that extra edge and freedom and strength it brings.

I want to show you how much you can overcome, how “too late” is only in your mind, and “it will never work–I’m not good enough” is just a thought we keep thinking.  I want to prove that thriving is something anyone can do, with any bank account balance and any level in life.

I want to show that you can start from anywhere.  I want to show you that contrasts and contradictions and imperfections are absolutely beautiful.  I want to show you that the only voice you really really really need to listen to is your own, because this is your life and no one else can live it as truthfully or rightfully as you can.

But in order to to all that I must prove it to myself.  I must fully practice all that I preach.  I must experience and express that strong vulnerability, the freedom of being unafraid of being incomplete.  I must express that although my life revolves around reading and pursuing self improvement, I am not a perfection-seeking, finger-pointing, purity-chasing wannabe guru who can only allow herself positivity and elation at all times.

I am a life monk because I am always the student.  I am always the one trying to learn more, knowing that the point at which one thinks they know everything is the point that they have come to know nothing.

Thus this is where I show myself how to show you.

I don’t do that.

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taken in Yokohama, Japan

I don’t do mornings.

I don’t prioritize exercise.

I don’t discipline myself to focus on one task at a time.

I don’t face my fears of communication.

“I just don’t do it that way. Because that’s the way it’s been.  And I’m doing fine, right?”, states the well-established rationalizing voice in my head, smooth-talking me.

Then a newer voice pipes up to take a stand.  “But you want to wake up early enough to exercise first, focus fully on your work, get stuff done, and put yourself out to the world everyday!”

Then the rationalizing voice cuts in, just as I’m hesitating to get out of bed.  “But you don’t do it that way. See–you’re not doing it now!  It’s fine.”

Yup, I don’t do it that way and everything’s fine.  That sounds much more comfortable than forcing myself out of my routine.  So I roll over and stay in bed.

Because that’s not the way I do it.

 

And nothing changes.  And over time all the new voices fade and sit withered amongst the silenced.

And decades later I find myself sitting alone, wondering why I didn’t take hold of the glorious possibilities of my youth.  Why I chose comfort and silence over speaking up and fighting for the life I really wanted.

Because at the moment it didn’t feel comfortable.  It didn’t feel easy.

And now there are no more moments.

And now it’s only discomfort and dis-ease of regret and never-knowing that I lay with on my deathbed.

The end.

 

Note: And so this is the part where I wake up all a-la-Scrooge, leap willfully out of bed and charge my arse up and down Runyon Canyon, and then return gallantly to proceed to take over my life and eventually the world.  Aaaaand…GO.

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What does it mean to be grown up?

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I remember when I saw being grown up as both fun and tedious.

It’s tedious because you have to do adult things like filing taxes, driving everywhere, going to work and taking yourself to the doctor all on your own.

But it’s fun because you get to do whatever you want–you can choose your own clothes and decide when it’s bedtime and playtime. If you want to try something else or go somewhere new, you can, whenever you want.

When we become too serious, too frumpy, we forget how to have fun because we are only seeing life for the mundane responsibilities instead of focusing on the freedom, fun, and possibilities.  

This really is just fun and freedom masquerading as ‘shoulds’ that we’ve been programmed to experience as a necessary chore. They’re just tasks that come along with the privilege of having the freedom of adulthood.

We can now make all the choices we wished we had power over back when we felt we could take over the world if only we didn’t have bedtime.  And if you’re still a grown up, it isn’t too late.

What are you making adulthood mean?

 

I also wrote How to Grow Up while Staying Young.

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The paradox of being weird

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We are transfixed by the crazy outfits and antics of celebrities, want to read about unconventional lifestyles of unique individuals, crave far-out and freaky stories, and watch tv shows with quirky nonconformist protagonists.

We’re all guilty of it.  It’s fun, exciting, and intriguing to see something different from our own experience and there’s nothing wrong with that.  What’s really weird is that while we crave and celebrate weirdness, we spend so much time and effort striving for crisp and ironed normalcy.

We strive to stand out, but fit in.  We like being noticed, but don’t like it if we think people are staring.  We begin to explain ourselves if someone seems put off by our interests or lifestyle of choice. We want to be liked by everyone and if a stranger doesn’t smile back we take serious offence.  We want to stay true to who we are but need to be accepted by everyone in our life.  Children tease each other to tears for being a weirdo, and adults do it more.  Self expression is prized, but we’re so preoccupied with what everyone else might think that we’re not even sure what we really want to express anymore.

I love the weirdness in everyone and I wish we could all wear it on our sleeves.  There would be so much less awkward icebreaking to do and much more instantaneous fun connections to be had.

But it’s difficult to just let it be.  Self judgement and the desire for approval start to kick in.  And then I zip myself up to the neck in my Normal Suit and smile politely and hope people like me.

Meanwhile there’s that guy who’s strutting his stuff over there in all his happy oblivious uniqueness, and people are staring, but everyone loves him whether they realize it yet or not.  Because we like people who are proud and excited to be themselves.  And we know when someone’s trying too hard to act funky on purpose for the wrong attention.

If we can tell the difference, why is it so bad to be natural-weird?  I used to embrace it but then adulthood happened, and now I’m learning again how to relax into it and love it all over again.

Be weird.  

We all secretly love it.  

We all secretly are it.

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A Life Monk Manifesto

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Our society plunges us into places that have mostly good intentions but are one-size-fits-all.  We are simultaneously encouraged to stand out yet fit in, be an individual but behave accordingly, create great change and creativity but stay within the parameters of everyday approval.

I’m the only one I have.  I was born as myself and I will take only myself to the grave.  I can try to escape, suppress, and re-train myself all I want to make me more of who I think I should be, while pain, fear and neuroses quietly breeds.

Or I can stop and look at who I really am and decide to study myself for a change.

I’d always wished there were a comprehensive course in highschool that taught me how to deal with life and it’s parables, rollercoasters, and contradictions.   I wished for someone wise and otherworldy to come and explain how to live life to the fullest and overcome my fears and become the person I secretly knew I was inside.

Why isn’t there something that teaches us how to understand ourselves, the very people we are dealing with our entire lives?  There’s courses on business management, employee management…but no Self101.

I know I am not alone.  Everyday I see so many people on their own missions and I really want to support and be able to help those who are seeking like I am.

This is for those on the fringe with the big questions.  For those who feel torn between self expression and societal “shoulds”.  The kind and curious rebels and the happiness-seeking misfits.  Those who have been searching for something to guide them that doesn’t pigeonhole them.

Those people are the most interesting to me — the ones who are curious and willing to figure themselves and their lives out no matter what it takes to become their fullest and best version of themselves.

I make mistakes but I embrace who I am now, as well as the stronger person I know I am to become.   And I want to share what I’ve learned and what I’ve been practicing and learning every single day.

This is one of my biggest passions and major study and practices, which is why I liken my pursuit to that of a monk.

Good monks spread love and compassion, pass on lessons learned, and share words of wisdom.   They know they aren’t better than anyone else and strive to live a life of happiness, humbleness, and honor. Being a life monk is hard work, but it’s been a lot of fun thus far.

 

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Home is where my head is

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I was so tired of the rudeness, the pushiness, the celebrity talk, everyone always in a hurry and ready to whip out their egos at the slightest provocation — I was so happy to escape Hollywood and be back home for a week.

Oh Hawaii.  I didn’t go in the water once, but I spent lots of time sitting and basking in the newfound appreciation of a place I spent 27 years in but was always wishing for more.  I sat at my grandpa’s house and listened to my mom talk about when she was in high school.  I sat at the top of a Diamond Head bunker and watched the ocean crawl up to the city.  I surprised myself by being surprised when other drivers allowed me into their lane or waved me to turn first.  I felt myself relax in the pit of my stomach.  I finally discovered the beautiful energy of a place I was so tired of when I left.

Then I felt it.  I wasn’t ready to go back to Los Angeles.  I half joked to my boyfriend about moving and we found ourselves scrolling through craigslist “just to look”.

On the plane back to California I felt funny inside.  6am in LA was cold and our disgruntled airport shuttle driver took a piss in our neighbors driveway after dropping us off.  In the following days I began dreaming of moving somewhere more secluded, relaxed… pleasant.  I wanted the island vibe but without having to be so remote, I wanted the natural beauty but not too rustic.  I wanted the ‘perfect place’ — so then I could be happier and work on my life.

Then a week from my return it happened. The return of my brain. I scribbled hurriedly in my notebook:

” I’ve been thinking I need to get away to some natural secluded place to be peaceful and be away from it all, BUT I want to be able to be a part of a bustling society so I can connect and practice and I want to be close enough to clients and still be able to travel and eventually get my monkmobile (dream camper van).  THIS IS THE PLACE.  IT HAS EVERYTHING.

So stop thinking that I need to go somewhere or get something new… THIS IS IT.  THIS IS WHAT I NEED…EVERYTHING I NEED.

I’m away from Hawaii to love & miss & appreciate it but I’m not too far away, and I’m working at a place that’s in the heart of the community, and it gives me freedom.  I can go hiking close by and still be right where it all happens….  These encounters with people and different experiences are what teach me so much and are vital to growing strong in life.  This is where I learn and expand.  This is perfect.  This what I need! And want.  It’s all here, all happening, right now.”

The truth, blowing my mind yet again.

I can’t always be seeking for a change of scenery and a “better” place.  Change is good, but true change develops inside with life’s challenges, new experiences, and ups and downs.

Other places may be easier.  They feel familiar and comfy and safe but I know that what I really want is adventure, new inspiring people, and allowing myself to grow as a human being.

Where ever I go, there will always be things I will become tired of, disappointed at, and angry with.  There will be times where it won’t feel conducive to who I want to become.  I will find myself blaming the place rather than acknowledging that it my thoughts about the place that give it whatever meaning I’m experiencing.

I’ll make my mind a better place to be.  This first before all else.

I noticed that since I’ve been back I’ve carried more of that chilled out energy within me.  I was looking at LA from a different viewpoint, one where I was more apt to laugh and be intrigued by things rather than immediately judgemental.  I remembered how much I wanted to move here and why.  My mind flipped and I saw again how much I am enthralled by living here.  How could I have forgotten?

How I interpreted the situation was all in my mind.  Everything always is.

And I can always return to the feeling of that Diamond Head sunset by holding that kind of space in my mind.

It’s never about where I am.  It’s where my mind is.  That is such freedom to know….

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Life is too short to not allow yourself to be you

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I find myself thinking of death more often. Somehow it wasn’t there when I was flying around on the backs of motorcycles 10 years ago, but now I find myself thinking about it while driving to work.

I realized that my biggest fear isn’t about death itself, but about dying before fully being myself. I and know the only thing holding me back from myself is me.

In the end, in the very last moment, it’s just me and my thoughts and experiences. That’s all my life will eventually amount to.

That sounds depressing but it really isn’t.  It’s freedom.

I live, I experience and interact, and then I die and face whatever does or doesn’t happen after that.

Life and death happen all on their own. What I do have control over is what I do in between all that. The experiences and interactions are all I’ll ever truly own, so how exciting that those are the things I have a say in?

I’ve been doing a lot of thought about what really truly makes me happy, regardless of what anyone else thinks.  Not in my 16 year old punky way, but in a genuine understanding of my own true brand of self expression.

I want to be as honest as possible, to myself, to my readers and clients, to everyone.

Since I realized this, a great heaviness has been lifted. I’m no longer expressing myself for (or against) society or friends or lovers or parents; I know this is fully me.  And so many things I’m still experiencing inner conflict over — I didn’t realize so many things I gravitated towards were for ideals that I didn’t even truly like!

It has to make sense to me, first and foremost.  I am me so why seek anything but what works for myself?  All the contradictions and multiple niches that I never fully fit into and the oddness that I still feel are great things.  I am my own unique niche.

Life’s too short to not be the biggest, best, funnest and fullest expression of myself.

One day I’m going to be dead.

I’m not immortal but neither are judgements from others and “shoulds” from society.

100 years from now this all won’t matter.  So I will make it matter while I still can.