The Truth and So What


I didn’t intend for this to get scary.  In fact I began all of this over a decade and a half ago because I wanted it to stop being scary.

I felt pathetic.  I was a teenager who grew up without any movies rated over PG, and was raised by down-to-earth folks, libraries, and PBS.  Nobody “got” me.  Not even the nerds or the awkward military brats.  Everyone was cooler than me and knew something about something.  I dressed purposely unfashionable.  I was a major band geek.  I drew pictures and wrote stories during lunch.

Planning for The Future felt like a big façade.  I had no aspirations.  I wasn’t depressed, just uninspired and afraid.  I worried about how I would ever learn to do big things…like drive a car.

I blamed my upbringing and myself for a while, but then I got angry.

So what.  So what if that’s how it is.  I can start from here.

I felt it in me that there was something more, something I was afraid to even acknowledge.
I got out of a dramatically odd relationship and took a hard look at myself and why I so disliked who I’d become.  My fears had made me controlling and over-emotional.  I was alienating not only the world, but myself.

I very slowly and shakily worked on getting my shit together.  I admitted my responsibility for myself and who I was from here on out.  I practiced getting out of my comfort zone.  I practiced socializing.  I got my driver’s license.

These days I alternate between feeling like a completely different person, and being 15 again with my braces and rat-tail and wanting to hide in a bookstore.  There are days where I struggle to express myself and doubt the very essence of my being.  I see all my weaknesses and shame and the barriers that I will need to cross.

But then it’s the same thing:
So what?  I can start from here.

I am on the brink of transitioning towards the only profession I felt truly passionate about, and it’s scary.  I shift from elated excitement to nail-picking doubt.  But I realize that if I expect my clients to be open and candid and vulnerable with me, I will have to practice the same.  I want people to know that I haven’t conquered all my fears; that I am imperfect and messy and am fighting my own battles to overcoming what I know I need to face.  I still have anxiety getting out of my comfort zone; I get anxious making phone calls.  But that is what makes me so passionate about others doing the same — we are jumping into the fray together.

It doesn’t matter where you are starting from.  Even if it feels like you’ve started long ago and are deep in the trenches, you are still responsible.  Because you know you’re capable of something bigger.  And where you are now, and whatever happened on the way here: so what?


Hello. Why are you so interesting?

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Why am I so curious?  Is that bad?

I have a short attention span for small talk but an odd curiosity for the vulnerable stuff we don’t tell relative strangers.  Are we really strangers though?  Wouldn’t it be so intriguing if we would just say the more personal parts of ourselves outright?  Then we wouldn’t be such strangers and it would be much more interesting to have a conversation.

I really really want to know who people really really are.

The stuff that scares me scares you and everyone else, although we try to hide it.  Why do we hide it from each other if we all have such similar fears?

I want to talk about how imperfections are beautiful and unique. Wabi sabi.

I’m cognitively turned on by close divulgences.  It is the naughty inner bits.  Our society doesn’t like it, it wants us all to cover it up and make it over with cool nonchalance and disconnect.  We usually only reveal these secret thoughts and dreams to those we really trust, but why?  I want to know.

It’s awkward and rude to ask these things outright, so I get to sneak it in as a profession.  It’s not nosiness, it’s curiosity and care. I have no interest in gossip, juicy secrets, dramatic tales or wallowing in problems.  I just want to ask because no one is really asking.

There are doctors that we go to to pry into places on ourselves that we usually only reserve for select individuals, but we show ourselves to these white-garbed strangers because we want to make sure we’re ok.  Why is there not something similar for our thoughts and feelings?

Because I know just as well as you do that there are times where we don’t feel ok, and it’s nothing that a doctor can look at.  We know there’s no need for a therapist.  It’s just life and we should be able to handle.

But we don’t.  Because life is difficult.  We guilt ourselves for feeling discontent while we have clean water and a roof over our heads — and sometimes that realization is all we need to get ourselves in check.  But some things really are legit first world problems.  We are humans in a complex world.

Things like contradictory pressures from everyone and everything, too many choices, too many extreme measures as an answer to our problems.  Expectations for us to handle it all.  Expectations for us to never malfunction unless we were traumatized as a child or faced terrible conditions — and even then it’s iffy.  The common fully-functioning human is expected to inherently know how to run itself perfectly in a crazy society with paradoxical expectations.

We’re expected to be normal in a very abnormal situation.

The answer isn’t living in a bus in the woods, or blaming politics or Miley or Fox, or acquiring more crystals, doing more yoga, or escaping mentally or physically.  The answer is to connect more.

It’s scary to share our inner ongoings.  It’s vulnerable and honest.  I’m just as scared of that as anyone else.  But when we aren’t being heard, open, honest, and understood, that is where all of our biggest problems begin.

There’s so many of us, yet loneliness is huge.  So many of us, yet people are still killing themselves or others because they feel like no one understands.

We’re naturally highly adaptive and creative creatures living in a world that proclaims to encourage individuality yet only helps and supports those who fit in with the major ideals, and we are all coping with this in our own completely unique ways.  It’s so exciting how we all have our own take on things, how no one has the exact same perceptions and thoughts and viewpoints yet we all stem from the same human conditions.

This is why you’re so interesting, and this is why I’m so curious.


Self improvement is the sexiest thing you can ever do for yourself

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SEXY: having attractive, exciting, interesting or appealing qualities

Just like any other embellishments to the human form, self improvement takes time and effort and maintenance.  It is so special most people think they cannot afford it.  It looks great at any age and transcends all demographics.   It is sustainably sexy, the kind of sexy that can grow with you and enhance everything you do in life.

What happens is…

You become more interesting and exciting.  The more you understand who you really are and what you really want, you begin to make braver, bolder, and more creative choices.  You experience more, want more, and do more.

You become more confident and adaptable. As you begin to know what you stand for and why, you become neither a doormat nor a dictator.  You remain loving and honest towards others while still being fully loving and honest with yourself.  You have a skill of knowing how to set boundaries without burning bridges.

You become more self sufficient.   As you take more responsibility for yourself  you stop blaming other people and things for how you feel.   You complain less.  You have discovered how to be who you really are without anyone’s help, and ironically that has made you more able to give and receive more love than ever before.

You are a more intimate friend.  As you learn to let go you will ironically learn to keep better friendships and know how to love without needing things to be perfect.  There’s less bickering. Less neediness.  Less drama.

You spread more happiness.  As you are more happy and loving with yourself, you are more enjoyable to be around for everyone you encounter.  This world needs more happy and loving people, so you not only are improving yourself, but also improving the world around you.

You make the most of everything.  The less you are burdened by drama and untended inner feelings, you know how to have more fun. You can let go and enjoy life and can be the person who knows how to have a good time despite whatever may be going on in the background.

I’ve always been intrigued by people who just have “it”.  They could appear very commonplace until they react to you, smile at you, say something to you…then you just feel it.  There’s something about them.   Something special and exciting and untouchable.

“It” can be cultivated, created, honed.

There’s something utterly endearing yet stimulating about someone who has self-love yet are vulnerable in a way that takes courage and inner strength.  It’s that balance that catches the attention and makes an immediate connection.

When you’re turned on to the love and knowledge of who you really are, you live in a more turned on way.

That is rare.  That is special.  That is sexy.



…On not belonging

monkmusingsSee all those people over there, walking by, collecting in bunches and groups that you’ve never really felt a part of?

The ones who are doing everything they should and thus have all the perks that come with a proper and safe predictable existence?

The ones who live a life you’ve never wanted but still feel odd little pangs of jealousy towards because they’ve got all the support and approval they’ll ever need?

They’re also the ones who are just as afraid as you are, only they have chosen to deal with fear by melting into blandness.  It’s the reason why you’re never able to have interesting and inspiring conversations with them, because that would require them to crack and question their lifestyle.

They may seem like they’ve achieved a lot, but how much achievement is there really when all one has to do is follow an unquestioned well-supported path?  Those people may appear to have it all figured out and all together, but the truth is they’re trying so hard to keep everything under control that they’ve never had the luxury of discovering the freedom of choosing a personally crafted existence.

Meeting the requirements for a societal-approved life isn’t the same as creating a custom-crafted existence that is yours and yours alone — one that you have all the explanations and reasons for that are all your own decisions and individual philosophy.  

I’m a life monk: Naming your life philosophy

Why a “life monk”?

I call myself a life monk because it’s a constant reminder of what matters.

It isn’t about being a life guru or life leader; it’s about being an ever curious, ever humble, ever growing, ever reaching, ever learning, ever seeking little monk whose study is life itself.  Here and now, and finding the best ways for myself.  (Plus lifestudent was already taken by someone amazing).

Giving my life philosophy a title sums up everything for me in a nice little two-word package.  Whenever I’m overwhelmed with the demands and choices of life, reminding myself that I’m a monk of life gently brings me back down to what matters.

Oh right… it’s just all about being curious and humble and growing and seeking.

On more difficult days I go into warrior monk mode and view life’s obstacles as a rigorous training ground.  Life sends out stuff to conquer and I know that the way to do it is to take to it with a strong mind and open heart.

Giving a title to a mindset is a powerful thing.  It could be longer than a title — a mantra, sentence, or summary– or could even just be a simple resounding word that reminds you of everything you want to achieve inside and out.

It could be an image or idea.  It doesn’t have to be publicized and can be secret and sacred if you wish.  It could be borrowed from an already existing title and put a spin on it.  It could be anything.  You could be a life monk too if it feels right.

Just make it your own.  Philosophies and ideas from all the great thinkers and spiritualities in the world exist for us to mix and match to fit our own lives.  We are all unique, so crafting a philosophy is a custom job that is special and bespoke to you.  

Morning Mindset Ritual


I’ve recently started a new practice to strongly focus my mind upon waking.

I wake up and shake off the effects of any lingering dreams.

Then before I let myself think about anything I need to do that day, I pick up my notebook and read the tabbed pages.

I read my main goals — the big things that I want to ultimately achieve in life.  Then I read the little messages to myself –what I need to think about and mentally focus solidly on to keep me clear, inspired, and resilient.

I read it carefully, as if I’m reading it for the first time, so I can allow it all sink in.  Then I sit silently for a bit and contemplate on these things until I feel it become a part of me, tingling in my veins, marinating my brain.

I make sure that I set my mind straight first.  Only then do I willingly allow myself to get up and mull over what I need to do that day.

I find that dedicating myself to this is remarkably useful because the mind loves to wander into the cracks of reality and come up with funky tales of worry and pessimism, especially first thing in the morning.  It is imperative to get it out of the gutter and purposefully focus it on the things that matter.

Like strong belief in myself and my work.  And acknowledging my own right to have a purpose.  And that my true happiness can be only generated by me.   And to be serious about pursuing life but never take it too seriously.

It’s important to write down the things that matter and remind myself over and over and over.  Because I will be bombarded with messages from ‘everyone else’ upon setting foot into my daily routine.  

It doesn’t all have to be avoided, it just needs to be balanced out with an equally strong mindset.


Manifesto: How to choose what to stand for


With eco-friendly everything, vegans, minimalists, off-the-griders, neo-philosophers and activists abound, it’s way too easy to get overwhelmed by the number of ways I can choose to take a stand — not to mention the time, money, and effort it takes to shift a lifestyle.  Yes, I want to be conscious enough to play a good role, but no, I won’t succumb to feeling guilty about causes that don’t first and foremost work best for me.

Everything should make sense first.
Am I truly passionate about it?  Will it fit in with my lifestyle?  Do I want to do it?
Buying a Prius, going vegan, or going off to aid a 3rd-world country are all current “no”’s.
If I’m doing it all for the sake of a cause and not truly for myself will only lead to stress, resentment, and basically a life that isn’t conducive to what I really want to do.  My passions are the field of self improvement and supporting being nice to chickens, because that’s what makes sense to me.
I only buy free-range eggs and hardly eat chicken, but if I’m hungry and am offered a free meal of chicken at my restaurant job that would otherwise go to waste, it only makes sense to eat it.
It may initially sound selfish, but you need to do what works best for you first.  To do otherwise would be robbing yourself and those around you of the innate passions that you could be concentrating on and giving out instead.

Good intentions count for something.
Of course nice thinking doesn’t change anything in the real world, but being aware of where I want to improve is markedly better than never stopping to think about it at all.
I want to minimize more.  I want to do and be more for people.  I don’t want to take shorter showers but dammit I’ll try.
All movements begin with intention, and should life afford me with the chance to kick things into action, I will have at least have a clear starting point.  And when I have an intention I find myself automatically focusing on the tiny ways I can start to work in that direction, because…

The little things count a lot.
The little things help lead to the bigger things.  Donating stuff while moving helped me focus much better on a path of less clutter and frivolous purchases.  A cleaner house makes me less stressed and allows me to do better work.  Better work makes me happier and I am able to concentrate on making a difference.
The little things say a lot more than protesting about the ‘big’ issues.  People can preach all they want on their displeasure of the government, world hunger, war, etc…and then fail to give care and love to those around them who they can directly affect.
It is very important for me to take responsibility for everything I do; to be kind, to not add to the drama, to pick up after myself and help others. I want to be able to successfully take a stand for my own life first before taking on the broader stuff.
Nothing you do with love and kindness in this world, no matter how seemingly small, will be for naught.  The best stances are for the ones you have the most power over, the way you do everyday things in life.

A few good things to remember:
Don’t let anyone try to guilt trip you into something that doesn’t make sense to you, just as you shouldn’t try to pressure others to feel the same way you do.

You can always change your mind and choose to stand for something new.

You’re only human.  Not being able to do everything doesn’t mean you’re not making a notable difference.

Doing good is doing good — no matter what size, who knows about it, and for what cause.