Life is an artform

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This is my art.  I previously felt odd calling this art, but it’s my creative expression and it’s my voice, so why not?

Creativity comes in many forms but it all begins with a thought, and sometimes that’s all it takes to make something beautiful.  Even if you don’t produce the typical idea of ‘art’, if your mind is curious and reaching to grow, how you craft your life can be an artform within itself.

The way you choose to live your life is art — your expression is what you present to the world and what you put into yourself.  You are your artistic medium.  You shape and build and embellish who you are.

So we are all artists in some shape or form, and like all talents we have the capacity to infinitely grow and develop our skill.

The fact that you’re alive and curious right now is a sign that you are worthy and able.  It’s up to you to decide to harness and hone that capability and become the best you can at your craft.

The life experience 101

One thing I knew for sure while growing up was that school wasn’t teaching me anything about living.  Their prep for the ‘real world’ was akin to dressing me up in ninja clothes, teaching me the history of ninjas, studying ninja goals and logistics, then sending me out on a mission without knowing how to properly scale a wall or face an enemy.

An engaging life isn’t for mere dabblers–it packs a punch and if I don’t have some warrior skills in my mental repertoire, a passing jab could become a near-fatal blow.  When I’m frustrated and knocked down my life experience goes down. Love and work levels are lower quality, which lead to further the self-sustaining cycle of melancholy.

A defining quote that keeps me thinking: “A happy life is just a string of happy moments”.

If this is the make up of my life, it is absolutely imperative that I put the time and effort and passion into improving myself.  Life can throw it’s sneak attacks and I will train and dedicate myself to understanding and overcoming each obstacle.

Do life well.  Do life smart, strong, and happy.

This is my mission.

Part of this mission is to realize that I am often one of my biggest obstacles. Sneaky mental blocks that adamantly state reasons for immediate surrender — that it’s too late, that it won’t work, that this is a waste of time and energy, that I can’t do it.  Lies! All lies.   Lies that sound like reasonable truths until I remember that it’s up to me to agree with myself or not.

So I’m choosing the way of full responsibility.  I care about my experience here on Earth more than anything.  I care about how this experience impacts my self and those around me.  I care about leading a life without regret and knowing that I took to it like a warrior monk on a mission.  Nothing can keep me from this but myself — all other perceived obstacles are just excuses.

I spent the first half of my life wishing for something to teach me how to do all this, to run my own mission and train at life; the second half has been a rambunctious relentless pursuit to figure it out and I’m still in the thick of it.  But I want to share it here for anyone who has been seeking and craving such a thing.

The life experience.  It’s happening since birth and it’s happening now and it will end one day.  The truth is happier humans create happier experiences for other humans which add that much more happiness to the world.  And happier people love more, give more, create more, live more.  

It is anything but a selfish thing to do.  

It is our sole responsibility.life

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.

Things I think I don’t do

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.