The Anatomy of the Creative Rebel

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Creative: 
the ability to go beyond preset ideas, rules, patterns, relationships; and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations.

Rebel: to resist or rise against some authority, control, or tradition.

If our minds were aquariums, and the fish inside represented our thoughts and beliefs; most young people would have an aquarium-mind that looks very similar to the the minds owned by their parents, friends, and mentors.

familyaquariumIn adolescence we began to realize that there are ideas beyond the stuff that’s been swimming in our heads.  In fact, we’ve become bored with the same aquarium-mind that we’ve known our whole lives, and we begin to explore what else is out there.

There’s a entire infinite ocean-galaxy of stuff to choose from.  When we begin to try out different thoughts and ideas, we begin to build our own mindscapes.  We begin to feel and act different.

This is when we’re often told that we’re being selfish, stupid, reckless.   Those around us just see that we’re changing, and they don’t understand it.  They don’t realize that all we’re doing is discovering that we’ve got creative control over our minds.  We’ll make a lot of mistakes.  That’s ok.

Different kinds of stuff means different kinds of feelings and actions, and sometimes people who care about us are afraid of this.  It’s difficult to see beyond their own aquarium-mind when they’ve been in it for so long.  They threaten to make our lives uncomfortable if we continue.  They tell us that we will ultimately be unhappy if we continue to mess around.

This comes from people we know, as well as all the constant messages that we encounter in media & society about what’s ‘right’, and what kind of life is supposed to make us happy.

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This is when we have a choice.  To just go back to the comfort of the old mind and old safe path, or to keep creatively rebelling, growing, figuring ourselves out.

The creative rebel sees that there’s so much more to experience.  Some new stuff just feels better.  They see that they can keep some old stuff they like, but can now mix some new stuff in and see what feels the best.

They realize they can cultivate an eclectic, custom aquarium that is personalized just to their liking.  The ultimate empowerment & freedom.  Realizing that they have this ability to populate their minds with new and exciting things that feel better than the old, is gold.duelmindTopfade

The difference between a basic rebel and a creative one, is that the creative rebel chooses wisely.  They don’t just stuff their aquariums full of the craziest fish just because they can.

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They take the time to try a few out.  Get a little crazy.  Then change it up. See what they personally like.  They’re hungry for knowledge and make it all into one big experiment.   They’re curious to play around and see which mindsets bring out their best selves in varying situations, because they know that when they’re feeling their best, they do their best work and are better for those around them.

They treat their minds as an art, because they know they have limited time and want their life experience to be the best possible.

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The Ultimate Creative Rebel :

 

Intends good for self first, then others.  They know that when they are taking care of themselves and making themselves truly happy and fulfilled, not only are they greatly benefiting and making the moments of their life worth living, but that they are then able to be their best for others as well.

Views life as a personal responsibility, not something others must do for them.  They’ve stopped blaming.  They know it’s their responsibility to figure themselves out, make themselves feel good, and make their life their own.

Sees that there are many different choices, and they have the freedom afishlonend ability to choose.  They are self-empowering.  They get to choose what they want in their mind, and thus how they experience life.   They own that it’s their choice how they want to experience any moment, or any situation.

Looks inside for explanation of how to feel and do, rather than blindly follow the supposed-to’s.  They honor themselves above the majority rule and societal judgements, and take the time and effort to listen to themselves for the answers.

Opens to new perspectives & possibilities and can see the world from different angles.  This is the definition of creativity. Our ability to think beyond what we see in front of us is what makes us human.  But we choose how good we get at it and how much we want to apply it to our self-creation.

Willingly tries new things, thinks new thoughts, and questions things that most people never think twice about.  They stop and ask ‘why?’, rather than passively suffer or complain.  They have the tenacity to look at something that they’ve done their whole lives and question if it really is worth doing if it doesn’t feel right.  They question and get creative and refuse to remain stuck and as the victim.

Sees the beauty in the work.  And understands that it can be a difficult, beautiful life-long struggle to know thyself, and that the rewards are far more glistening and richer than any external approval for following the same old path.

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The creative rebel ranges.  There is no ‘type’.   The quieter inner creative rebel is just as powerful — and sometimes more honest– than a grandiose avant-garde individual showcase.  It’s always first and foremost an inside job.

We all have creative power as humans.  It is our inherent being, our inner nature, and it is up to the audacity of the individual to fire it up or smother it out. It is progressive thinking, brave open-mindedness, and the seemingly rare ability to not only allow, but invite the flux of life and it’s spectrum of possibilities.

I am making this visual guide to help us better understand how to cultivate and maintain beautiful minds, which in turn will create a more customized, beautiful, enjoyable life.

Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.

Albert Camus

 

We are no longer puppets being manipulated by outside powerful forces: we become the powerful force ourselves.

Leo Buscaglia

 

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This is who you really are.

This is you.you

If you…

Take away the belongings and clothing that we often mistake as our identity.

Take away the hairstyles, the nailstyles, the tattoos and jewelry.

Take away the societal ‘shoulds’.  What you should look like, act like, feel like, be more of.

Take away all the labels that were taught to you by other labeled humans.

Take away any connotations associated by the color of your skin, the condition of your body, the size of your features.

Take away all the limiting beliefs that society has drilled into you.

This is who you’d be.

You’d just be you.

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Why does this real you matter?

It matters because there is still someone there beneath all the labels and belongings and thoughts.

It is so important to know that you are not really these things.

Your age, weight, appearance, place of origin, accomplishments, and so on, are just things that help you identify your place amidst 7.5 billion other humans.  Most of those things are arbitrary — you were born in a certain place & time, and contain a particular set of genetics.

Underneath all those descriptives is a human individual in a galaxy-ocean of infinite possibilities.  You are not stuck.  You are not confined.

This is who you really are.

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But let’s come back to you in the real world.

You’ve already got commitments, histories, belief systems, hopes & dreams, a path.

To question these things, even just a tiny bit, can feel scary because it requires taking something you’ve known for a long time, and playing around with it.

And when we start to look at and consciously choose what we want for ourselves, things begin to modulate.  We start to see differently and act differently.  We slowly begin to change.

It may feel uncomfortable & crazy at first.  Others may not like it.  Things may appear to fall apart before they start to come together.

This is why it’s seems easier to remain in our nest of distractions: our belongings, physical embellishments, dramas and judgements, food & vices of choice, social media & entertainment.

It’s socially acceptable to tune out whenever we start to feel uncomfortable.

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We rely on the external to provide for us what we should be finding within ourselves.

This is why we can be so ‘rich’ with experiences, stimulations and comfort, yet still feel that underlying negative emotional cocktail: desperation mixed with anxiety, topped with a splash of occasional depression, and garnished with a big juicy slice of existential crisis.

And that’s when we think we need to escape further.  Move to an island.  Move to a city.  Get completely sober.  Do ayahuasca.  And sometimes that’s just what we need.  But sometimes that would cause more problems, if what we’re really trying to escape is ourselves.

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The answer to feeling good lies in getting to know your real self.

You are still you, whether you’re celebrating the materialistic-material life, or in a monastery meditating on letting go of the need to let go.

No matter what your lifestyle, you are still a complete human surrounded by the joys and conflicts of an awesome modern world.

You can learn to tune into yourself in the middle of whatever kind of life you’re living right now.

You can have your fun, your belongings, your style, your distractions; and start to become more engaged with who you really are inside.

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That ball of light is your inner self, your truth, your self-knowledge.  The person you’ve been with and will be with for the rest of your days.   When we get to know this person, we get to have more of that light.

It just feels good.

Without having to immediately change anything, go anywhere, buy anything.   You can be the thoroughly-modern version of your most expressive, fully-living self.

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The first step is realizing you’re already who you really are.  Everything you need to know is already inside.

You don’t have to escape or distract.

All we need to learn are new ways of understanding ourselves and the world, and then we can begin to put it into practice and live our best lives.

Your own personal formula for happiness

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We all just want to be happy.  The thing is, we each have our own unique formula for happiness that nobody knows but you.  What is yours?

What really, truly matters?  Will bring you genuine happiness and fulfillment without needing someone or something to be a certain way for you?

My big ones are: using my creativity, helping others improve their lives, striving for the best version of myself in the moment.

It can be what really matters in the big scheme (like mine), or what really matters right this second, or near future.  It doesn’t matter how lofty or seemingly mundane, as long as it feels right and true to you.  It can be a long and detailed descriptive paragraph, or a short succinct list.  Just write something down.  And check with yourself if it feels right to you, and not out of wanting to please someone else’s idea of you.

Write it down.  Or type it out.  Just get it out so you can look at it.  Put it on your desktop, on your cell phone, by your bed.  Make it as beautiful or bad-ass as you want.  Read it often, even when you think you don’t need to.  Update it when necessary.  Study it.  Honor it.  This is your personal formula and you are the sole person responsible for making sure it’s the right one for you in the moment.  I’ve made entire journal ‘bible’s based around getting my mind straight about what really matters to me, and having it really helped keep me on track through more difficult times.

This formula needs to compete with and rise above the billboards, media, ‘well-intentioned’ family and friends, and societal ideals.  It needs to stand strong through the trials of daily life, the opinions of others, and plans and relationships gone awry.

On your deathbed at age 99,  while thinking back on your life, what will make you feel so fulfilled that you feel completely at peace with dying?  Or even better — what would you need to do and believe in this week, so that if you found yourself on your deathbed next week, you would feel completely satisfied with how you lived in the time you were given?  In the end, all you get to keep is your own knowledge of how you lived.  No one else’s opinions will matter.  It’ll be just you and your life.bible2crop

Live your life with these things as guides.  What you wrote down is your ultimate compass.  Everything you need to live a life that is the most truthful to who you are.

No matter what path you’re on at the moment, you can live more congruent to what really matters to you.  You may not notice huge shifts happening immediately, but if you’re focused on your inner truth, your feelings and actions will come from that place.  From there you can make more powerful, honest decisions, and keep doing whatever you’re doing from a healthier and clearer standpoint.

Regrets can occur when we make blind decisions.  It is so important to know where you’re coming from and what you believe in for yourself.  Even if you are unsure with your decision, you will at least know that it was coming from a place of consciousness instead of blind reaction.

Be open to possibilities.  Don’t worry so much about how it’s all going to happen.  This is when doubt and fear creep in to sabotage us.  Do all the research to take care that you’re making informed decisions, but don’t get so caught up in the logistics that you freeze up.  Our brain has evolved to love security and when things make logical sense, but that is often not the most conducive to the life we want to be living.

We need to be open to seeing that life is meant to be explored, tried out, experimented with.  We are NOT failures if something doesn’t work out.   We take what we have learned and try something new.  And be open to possibilities.  You could met someone, experience something, be presented with something… at any time.  And the only thing we have control over is how ready we will be to make an honest conscious decision about it.

So much of this is all about being conscious about why we choose to do things.  When we are unconscious and just acting without questioning, that is when we lose sight of what we really want.

So be conscious, open, and believe that life is meant to be explored.

It doesn’t have to stink

Along the path of life the universe gives us both farts and flowers.

Farts are little annoyances that really don’t matter in the scheme of things.  They pass by us and around us throughout our daily existence and they smell bad, but it’s just passing.  It’s up to us to choose how long we want to smell it after it’s passed.

Is that comment really that important to keep mentally holding on to?  Is your neighbor’s loud-ass music really that important to get bent out of shape about? [I’m questioning as I write this].  Is going to the dentist really that bad?  Does the 2nd malfunctioning laptop in a month really signify impending doom?

I say this all the time, but it really puts things into perspective: I’m going to die.  I don’t know when.  Do I really want to be spending this moment of my limited life focusing on something that is just a passing stench?

In the scheme of things, these will all be forgotten, disappearing into the whirlpool of stuff in the history of our lives.

In many cases the ‘fart’ already passed by, but I’m still allowing myself to smell it because my mind won’t let it go.

Sometimes it’s good to get angry.  Get angry, but then let it go.  It’s just a passing bad smell.  And life is passing by.

I can smell the flowers.  The good little things that can easily get out-stenched if I allow it to.

We can’t just blame the annoyances.  They are out of our control.

The one thing we can control is where we choose to put our focus.

It’s up to us to decide what we want to keep ‘smelling’ after it’s passed.

 

 

Why feeling good is empowerment

 

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Why we’re afraid to feel good:

If we felt good right now, we’d be settling for what we have.

We’d stop trying to better ourselves.

We’d be deluding ourselves.

We don’t deserve it!

It’s funny that the older I get, the more real these excuses sound.

Yet when I look back through my childhood, I keep seeing evidence for why prioritizing feeling good — no matter what’s happening — is power.

As a child that meant delving into make-believe.  When I felt insignificant, I would pretend I had secret super powers or important magical missions.  I wouldn’t tell anyone, but while imagining this I felt more joy and worthiness, and it made me act as such — as opposed to being mopey and sad.

As an adolescent I would keep a journal, listen to pounding music, and obsessively study people who seemed to be genuinely happy.  On the outside I was still awkward and moody , but on the inside I wasn’t entirely powerless.  I believed in my power to change and figure things out.  And I’ve come so far.

I didn’t see things in terms of deserving happiness, and I wasn’t afraid that finding it in the moment would make me give up on improving. I just knew that I wanted to feel better.  I never doubted that feeling amazing was the best thing to do for myself.  And the better I allowed myself to feel, the more empowered I was, and the more changes I made in my life.

It was about realizing I really did have a kind of secret power.  It was about realizing that no matter what my friend said or my boyfriend did or if I had acne or braces, I could still feel alright about myself.   It was always a rollercoaster, but it was so much better than feeling powerless.

Choosing to feel good is empowering.  It’s my mojo.

The world opens up.  My mind opens up.  I am open to bigger and better things.  I do more.  I am more.

If you’re going to create, create from a place of feeling really good.  Feeling truly good & empowered will only boost you towards your dreams, not hold you back.

And it won’t be delusional.   The only thing that’s delusional is that you’re stuck and should be miserable.  No.

If you have your mojo, you’re going to do greater things.  You’re going to experience life in a much better way.

Take your power back.  Do whatever you need to do to find your mojo.  Whether this takes 10 minutes or 10 years, you must do it.  This is the best way to live, and the fullest way to be.

Your dreams are only as good as you get

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You can’t polish a turd.  You can’t just put icing on an empty plate and call it cake.   You can’t give a junkyard car a new paint job and expect to drive it across the country.   It’s pointless to add beautiful flourishes to a house with a cracked foundation and termite infestation.

It might make things appear a little nicer, but if things aren’t fully right underneath, it’s all a waste.

This is the same for our goals and dreams.

We think that once we have all the great stuff and achievements, life will be so much easier.  Our problems will lessen.  Our woes will disappear.  We will magically be happier.

And as we progress and achieve more, yes, we will start to feel a little better and fix a few problems.  But it won’t be a cure-all.  And it will only be as great as what we already bring to it.

If there isn’t already a good foundation, a delicious base, a well-oiled machine; it can only go so far.

This is why there are miserable people who from the outside appear to have no problems,  wealthy people seeking therapy for anxiety, and celebrities who — intentionally or not–commit suicide.

Give a genuinely happy person fame and fortune, and they will create an even more amazing, happy life for themselves.  Give a self-hating, world-blaming pessimist fame and fortune, and no matter what they do with it, they will ultimately suffer until they look inside.  No matter where you fall on the spectrum, external achievements can only temporarily patch-up, not cure, the inner stuff that we deal with right now.

But you’re not crap.  You’re not an empty plate or flawed foundation.  You are human.  You are organic and fluid and changing from moment to moment.  You may sometimes feel crappy or flawed, but it’s just one perception.  There are so much more available to you.

You’re not stuck, I promise you.  The magic is all in the mind.  And no matter where we are right now, we can start to improve and work on ourselves.  A life can only be as happy as whom that life stems from.  It’s not life itself that provides the joy, it’s who’s living it.

The inner work is completely connected to the outer work.  What you create within, you experience with-out.

Self-creation is an art of cultivating a beautiful, resilient, delicious, solid foundation.

So when the polish, the toppings, the flourishes come… it’ll be simply enhancing an already existing masterpiece.

A question:

If your wildest dream were to appear in your life tomorrow: the most amazing person, the important deal, all the funds, the big break, clamoring clients, or a ton of interested people… would you be prepared?

Would you be the version of yourself that would be needed to fully engage this opportunity?  Would you have the skills and resilience and work to show? What if it were coming sooner than you expect? What if it’s already on it’s way? What would you need to overcome or improve within yourself to begin stepping up to this dream?

Steal (your thinking) like an artist

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Steal like an artist.

…Like an artist whose canvas is their mind, and their life is their resulting masterpiece.

Life can either be approached as something that happens to us — and we’re at the mercy of it’s chaos — or, that life happens around us and we have the artistry to take it and use it for ourselves how we like.

Our thinking is a skill, an art form that can be honed and improved as we go.

The mind is a creative powerhouse.  And we have free will to choose our thoughts.  Put those together and you have a brilliantly adaptive tool.

There are 7 billion of us on the planet right now.  And 108 billion humans have walked the Earth at some time.  All the issues we suffer from are the same — love problems, seeking worth and meaning, reaching for success, loneliness, anger at injustice, money issues, losing loved ones, being torn between two things, difficulties with family and friends, skeletons in the closet…

The details may differ, but we can all relate.  We have all been there.

And someone, somewhere  throughout the history of mankind, has had the exact same problems as you… and has prevailed.  There’s someone who has lead a similar path with similar struggles who used their experiences as fuel to power them towards a better life.

Maybe there’s books about them, and quotes from them.  But most likely they’re one of the vast majority who lived a bold and beautiful life that went undocumented.  But we can imagine.

What were/are they thinking that allowed them to keep pushing forward?  What kind of thoughts did they paint their mindscape with?  What kinds of feelings would they need to feel in order to do what they do?  How did they struggle with the same problems, but still live with joy and boldness and fire and love?

What were they thinking that made them feel that way?  That thinking, which causes those feelings, are what create the actions & results.

Steal those thoughts.

Steal amazing new ways of thinking, so you can create new amazing ways of feeling.

So you can begin to take action and experience life in a whole new way.

Look at how the “life-masters” did it, and take some of that for yourself.

Life is an art, steal like an artist.

{Inspired by “Steal like an Artist” by Austin Kleon }

Your mind as a secret garden

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Why do I coach mindset?

Why focus so much on thinking?  Why not focus on action or success or feeling better?

Because all those things begin with the mind.

It may not seem like it, but everything that we do and feel in life is a result of the way we are thinking.

Our way of thinking is directly correlated to how we feel and what we do.

Cultivating the power of our mind is like caring for a garden — weeds can be detected and removed, the soil can be fertilized, and we can plant the kind of fruitful plants and beautiful foliage that nourishes our feelings and our lives.  All of us have a beautiful garden in our heads, but most of us leave it unattended.

You can keep buying beautiful bouquets over and over again, but you will always know that they will only last so long in the vase —  you will have to watch them wither and die, and then go out and obtain another bouquet.  That is comparable to the stress, struggle, and suffering of working so hard to control an outcome that you want.  It seems beautiful on the surface, but underneath there is a sense of desperation.

We can try to force ourselves to take all the action and make all the changes, but it will be difficult to sustain, and won’t be enjoyable  You can’t force a garden to grow.  You can only nourish it with care and awareness.

When we are aware of and caring for what is going on in our minds, only then can we begin to truly feel better.

And the better you’re feeling, the better act and be and experience life.

You are your mind, your thoughts.

This is why it’s so important to learn the art of thinking.

It is your self-creation.

You define the crazy

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One of my slogans is simply “The Crazy Creative Life”.

It implies that the crazy feeling is often a solid partner that accompanies a life that’s dipped in creativity.  It also means that a life can be crazy-creative — super creative.

And I believe in embracing both.  The crazy comes with the creativity.  The devotion to passion, forging one’s own path, and following the heart is going to feel crazy.

Crazy busy.  Crazy emotional.  Crazy confusing.  Crazy conflicting.  Crazy chaotic.  Crazy in the head.  Crazy passionate.  Crazy everything.

The greatest thing you can do is to remind yourself that crazy is a necessary part of it all.

Crazy is more than an over-used term of emphasis — it is a feeling that can invoke great change, insight, challenge, growth, and of course creativity.   In fact I would dare say that the craziness and the creativity not only fuel each other, but require each other.

To be creative is to be human.  Our high intellect allows us to approach the world through an infinite different interpretations.  We are able to create dreams, goals, art, ideas, inventions, productions.  Our intellect also makes us very complex characters.  We think, therefore we need more than food, water, and a ball to play fetch with to be happy.

Combine aspirations with emotions and you’ll get a crazy rollercoaster.

But that’s part of the deal.  If we want to live up to our standards, to our dreams, to who we really truly are, we will have to accept the crazy.

If life never felt risky, edgy, emotional, turbulent, chaotic and confusing, we’d be living a beautifully unchallenging existence that will have little need for much intriguing invention or complex expression.

You aren’t crazy for doing what you’re doing.  Your crazy life and mind isn’t a sign that you should give up.

Crazy is necessary, but it can be managed.

You can deal with all the craziness in a more productive, peaceful, and enjoyable way.

It all happens in the hotbed of creativity — your mind.  You don’t have to meet the craziness with a crazy mind.

Clean out, beautify, and manage your mind, and you will live a cleaner, more beautiful, more manageable, crazy creative life.

 

 

Spray painted sunglasses

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When we see something every day, we often forget to acknowledge it’s existence …it’s possibilities.

I’d “forgotten” that I had a pair of goofy-ass Cinco de Mayo glasses that I’d scored for free from a bar, sitting right night to my desk.  Save for the random party night, they were pretty much just there as useless yet funky decor.

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I love wearing grey and had been interested in finding some matte grey sunglasses for a while.  I was in the middle of looking on Amazon when it dawned on me.

I’m doing it again: shopping for something that I technically already had.  (I had done this a month ago with my DIY hip-bag).

Green is not my color (and moustaches don’t compliment my facial structure), so I never thought to actually seriously wear them.

With the help of pliers, painters tape, Xacto knife, and grey spray paint, I had grey sunglasses in about 20 minutes — and within a day they were dry and ready to wear.

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These glasses are a metaphor for me about perspective and paying attention.

I saw these silly glasses every day, blatantly displayed beside my computer.  I had grey paint sitting under my craft table.  Meanwhile, I was looking for grey sunglasses online.

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Crazy how that works.

And it’s not just about being crafty.

It could be about other things that are right in front of you that you’ve become ‘blind’ to.

Maybe you’ve been ogling everyone else’s love affairs, and you haven’t kissed your significant other all day.

Maybe you’d feel less drained and scatterbrained if you simply cleared your desk of all the clutter from your old projects.

Maybe those big old reference books you want to get rid of could become that cool retro stool you’ve been searching for to display your house plant.

Maybe you could feel more relieved of your break-up pains if you rearranged your bedroom into something new and beautiful.

Maybe the answer to something is in plain sight.

Just remember to keep an open mind, and take a look!

 

The truth behind what you want and everything you do

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There’s a secret behind everything you desire and strive for.  It’s more than what it seems.

We may think we really want our great project to be recognized, to find that perfect partner, and never worry about money again.  And of course we really do want that.  Badly.   Legit-ly.

But there’s one underlying theme that beats as the heart of everyone’s desire.

The sole coveted truth behind everything we do:

We’re reaching, clawing, fighting…. for a good feeling.

Happy, fulfilled, growing, worthiness, love, etc.

We want a feeling.

The real reason why I want a badass and fun vehicle is because I believe I will feel badass and have fun while driving it.

The real reason why I want people to be compassionate is because I believe I will feel happier about humanity.

The real reason why I want to go on an online shopping spree because I believe it will feel better than facing the writing I need to be doing.

The real reason why I dream of being able to split my time between Hawaii and Los Angeles is because I want to have my family and a relaxed lifestyle, while still getting to be a part of a driven and creative scene.  But the real real reason why I want to have the best of both worlds is because I believe I will feel more love, more energized, joyfilled, and balanced.

The root of everything we do is in the name of a good feeling.  We’ll buy something, eat something, drink something, do or talk about something; if we believe it will make us feel an inch better than before.  Even if it seems self-destructive, it’s a way to numb or distract — it’s an attempt to cope and feel an emotion that’s a millimeter more tolerable.

The events, people, and possessions will mean nothing to us if we don’t believe they will make us feel better than we do now.

This is why we have witnessed those who live humble happy lives, and those who have extravagant miserable ones.  Of course it’s completely possible to have it all and be happy, and I fully encourage everyone to unabashedly and boldly pursue everything they dream.

But while shooting for the stars, it’s powerful to remember why we’re hurling ourselves through space in the first place.

It’s not the moon and galaxy itself that we’re really after — it’s the feeling those celestial baubles imbue in us.

Happy.  Accomplished.  Healthy.  Love.  Worthiness.  Joy.  Excitement.  Peace.  Passion.  Fulfillment.

This is what we really value.

And the reason why this is so important to recognize, is because it allows us to see the truth behind our actions.  It makes us more aware and empowered.

Because the wonderful truth is that if all we’re really after is a better feeling, we can begin to create that before you obtain all that you desire.

Situations will happen and there’s little we can do to control the outside world while keeping our sanity.

But we can work on how we feel inside.

We can learn to create new feelings and create new and better things in our lives.

More on this to come!

 

Respecting your living space

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I’ve recently become semi-obsessed with the Broken Windows Theory.

In a nutshell, it is a fascinating criminology study that revolves around the idea that small public deviances (like a broken window), attracts further misbehavior and eventually escalates towards more serious crime.

It basically suggests that us humans tend to act in accordance to “clues” in our surroundings.  If it looks like no one cares about a place, neither will we.

We tend to respect what is already being shown respect.

Ever since learning about this, I’ve been seeing so many more examples in everyday life.  If the racks of a clothing store are already disheveled and the floor is strewn with random garments, I find myself guilty of feeling less-than-motivated to pick up a shirt that I accidentally knock off a hanger.

Similar with trash: only the most careless would feel comfortable leaving their crumpled wrappers and empty cans on the lawn of a beautiful manicured garden, while many of us would nonchalantly unburden ourselves of our litter if we were walking through an alley lined with rubble and graffiti.

And finally — and most eye-opening to me — I’ve observed it right in my own home.

I usually place empty cartons  on the stove-top beside the trashcan.  I noticed that if I don’t take them out to the recycling daily, they start to pile up.  As the stack grows, the kitchen starts to look a little messy.  Crumpled napkins and crumbs start to blend in more, and bits of food in the sink don’t seem to bother me as much.  Within a week, the entire kitchen turns into a mess.

So I began an experiment:  I would take ten minutes — that’s it — during the day to take out any trash, pick up whatever is on the floor, wiping around the counter top, and whatever else that stood out to me.

Once the stove-top was clear, I felt the need to throw away some of the irrelevant things we had pinned to the fridge door.  The next day I thought it’d be great to properly organize the teas, and so on.

Now, most of the 10 minutes were being used to straighten up things around the house, organize a bin or two, or throw away some old clutter.

And there is something refreshing about coming home to a clean house after a crazy day.   No matter how tired I am, it doesn’t feel acceptable to throw my stuff on the floor or pull things out without putting them back.  I want to continue to respect the space that was obviously already so respected.  It felt good.

It just gets easier and easier to maintain.

I’m seeing now that all these seemingly little innocuous things are subconscious messages to myself of how to treat my living space.

If it’s ok to keep useless objects and things in disarray, then what else am I subconsciously telling myself it’s ok to do?

And even further more — could all of that be contributing to the mess in my head… more than I realize?

Life is already difficult to deal with as it is, and when I see the same chaos reflected in my living space, it can prompt me to fall deeper into a mood.  But when everything is orderly and mindful, it can actually help to alleviate much of the inner turmoil.

Just by looking at and fixing the broken windows in my life, I am already starting to willingly delve into the more intimidating parts of my organizational habits.  It feels quite scary to face the huge task of doing an overhaul of a living space, but taking care of the little things may just start to unclog the bigger blockages.

So if you’re in the same situation and don’t know where to start, just start small.  Start a daily mini-practice of working on bits of the clutter and making pilgrimages to the trash and donation bins.

Let’s see where this goes!

 

 

Make. Believe.

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When you were a kid, you didn’t give a damn about your current reality.

If you wanted to be a ninja, a queen, or a dinosaur, you just did it — you were it.

You stepped into your own world, your own role, did whatever it is that you needed to do to become it, and had fun and enjoyed it.

Imagine if you were 6 and wanted to be a ninja.  But then you looked at yourself and your surroundings and said, “that’s stupid, I’m not a ninja”, and then just sat down and felt sorry for yourself all day.

No.  Kids don’t give a shit.  They create what they want.

We may think we know reality.   We may look at them and laugh and know they’re not really a ninja.

But which reality is better?  Which reality has more joy, more excitement, more play and energy and learning and growing?

Your current reality doesn’t matter.

You may not yet see it in front of you, but reality always begins with creating the right mentality.

Begin learning, doing, whatever it is that you need to do to become more of whatever you want to be.

Getting to a new reality begins here, now.

Play around a bit!

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Better words for ‘self-Love’

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I never liked the term ‘self-love’.

Perhaps it’s my fear of egotism, a semantic bias, or my tendency against stereotypical ideas of romance, but pairing the word ‘love’ with ‘self’ just never felt right.  Love makes me think of family, boyfriends, and sushi — trying to turn those emotions around onto myself feels discordant.

“You gotta learn to love yourself!”  Ok.  How exactly does one do that when you are yourself?  What is it supposed to feel like?

I feel like the L-word gets in the way for many people.

They’ve used it and heard it too many times when nothing deeper was demonstrated.  Or they hardly knew it.  Or the words and the physical were confused to be the real thing.

Love gets so lost in the depths of the complexities of human emotion and culture, and that is why it can feel so conflicting to turn that word towards yourself.

The real thing doesn’t feel like clinging, manipulating, drama, or guilt.  Those only manifest out of fear of losing love.  Neither does it feel like eternal glowing rapture.

Leaving myself love letters or wrapping my arms around my shoulders and repeating “I love you” can help during darker moments, but on a normal day it turns me off.

What does light a spark in my mental loins, though, is self-care.

The idea of care immediately connects me to a place that feels like the heart.  Caring is when I’m aware of how I’m treating myself and if I’m truly considering my best interest.  I’ve cared for pets, for plants, for people; and I know the blatant difference between when I’m caring for myself and when I’m neglecting myself.

Another word that induces the same warm fuzzies for me is self-understanding.

Giving understanding is sweet and true.  I take it as a sign of something deeper and special astir when someone takes the time and effort to ask me questions and listens, and wants to understand where I’m coming from and why.  Likewise, I know I truly am interested and devoted when I’m really trying to comprehend what’s turning the gears of their heart, their mind.  Taking the time to really sit and try to learn and understand myself and my experience is one of the most loving things I can do for me.

And the third term that completes this triad of amore is self-respect.

Respect.  Sadly it’s often the one missing quality that is tolerated when the rest of the aspects of “love” are there.  In a world of pampering and adoration, respect is seen as boring and undramatic, and it’s easy to forget how much it means to us when we receive it.  It’s not being reserved or worshiped, it’s a quiet acknowledgement of worth and a reverent acceptance of another human.  That is deep.  When I am respecting myself, I don’t convince myself to hang out with negative people even though I “should”.  I don’t waste away a day by allowing myself to be angsty.  I consciously make a decision to live up to the kind of standards that keep me feeling good and growing.

We all want a love that truly and deeply cares.  A love that seeks to understand who we are.  A love that shows respect to our truth as a unique and worthy human being.  Everything else is just a distraction.

We need to create this for ourselves first.  And that is why it’s so important to understand what it is.

When I felt it for the first time, it didn’t feel like the googly-eyed kind of self-adoration I imagined it would be.  It didn’t feel like perfection or super confidence.  But it felt really good, really strong yet soft, really warm and grounded.  It felt like a deep understanding and respect of everything.  All the decor and nonsense dropped away.  It was beautiful.

It comes in brief moments, but I know the more I work on it, the more I will feel it.

If self-love terminology always made perfect sense to you, then don’t think you need to change a thing!  But if you happen to feel the same inner turmoil as I, I offer these words for consideration and encourage you to discover other terms that get you closer to creating your personal lexicon of self-love.

 

Mindful creation: A hip-bag

IMG_3883I believe that a huge part of being more aware involves looking closely at materialist tendencies.

I’m currently in the middle of an overhaul of my living space and daily habits, and it has become glaringly clear to me how in the past I’ve just run out and purchased items that were cheap and easy buys.

Not much thought, just a reflex to a perceived need.

Over time I’ve accumulated quantity without quality, which visually manifests as random junk and clutter.  I’ve thus taken a vow to put more thought and effort into what I choose to bring into my life.

Earlier this week I felt that familiar itch.

Being fuss-free and agile while on the go has always been a curious focus of mine — the art of travel, if you will — and already having embarked three times this year, I kept noticing a wish for an extra pocket of sorts.  I was continually finding myself fumbling for essentials in my backpack, holding boarding passes under my arm and stuffing my phone into precarious and easily-snatchable cavities.

I dislike the unbalanced feeling of having something hanging off my shoulder and swinging around, so, borne of years of waiting tables and a penchant for leggings that often come sans-pockets, I decided it was time to give in to finding a nicer version of an apron/fanny pack.  A quick Google consultation introduced me to the hip-bag.

Remembering my promise of mindfulness, I managed to catch myself in the middle of an Amazon debate between cheap-and-ugly vs expensive-and-designer, and decided to instead see if I could create my own perfect pouch.

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First, I distanced myself from the computer and got very clear about what I truly desired.

I knew I wanted something simple, functional, versatile, yet classy; suitable for both urban traveling and more upscale adventures.  It must have a good zipper for security, and it needed to be big enough to hold a passport, phone, money clip, and camera.

Using designer hip-bags as reference, I sketched out a basic clutch modified with loops to attach onto a belt.  Venturing through my craft chest brought the re-discovery of nice fabric scraps from a Star Wars halloween costume I made years ago, pieces of a canvas drop cloth, old belts, and a once-beloved backpack/purse that had developed too much wear and tear.

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It did take a few hours and a bit of trial and error, but the black fabric became the outside, the canvas became the inside, and I harvested a nice zipper and sturdy hardware from the purse.  And now — quicker than Amazon Prime shipping — I have a hip-bag that suits all my needs and can easily work as a clutch or shoulder/crossbody!

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This obviously wasn’t meant to be much of a true DIY post, but rather documented proof that that thing I “need” just might be able to manifest from stuff I already own.

It is so much more mindful than just going out and buying, plus I’m getting to honor the previously useless things by giving them a beautiful new purpose.  It feels tailor-made for my own needs and is quite empowering to know that I can alter it or fix it on whim.  Not to mention I get to save my money for more essential things.

I love that my bag is still a work in progress and that I can improve it over time.

Many things can be repurposed or reworked: whether it’s as simple as finding beauty in using a disposable container as a storage box, or constructing together bits of things that seem to no longer have a purpose and bestowing upon them new life.

I must remember to not give into laziness. To consciously stop the shopping-reflex and look at what’s already right here, waiting to be given that chance.

“I’ve always been this way” isn’t a valid excuse if you’re human

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The creative life is all about trying new things and seeing things from a new perspective.

Creativity isn’t just what you output — it’s everything you do.

And the core part of this is knowing that you yourself are your biggest creative project.

You don’t just “be creative” — you look at things.  You imagine how they could be different.  You work with what you have and devise how to acquire what you need.  If you are human, you’re creative.  You are specifically wired to be able to look at what’s around you and initiate something new.

This starts no further than right where you are.

There’s nothing more dismissive to human creativity than using the excuse “I’ve always been this way. I can’t change”. 

Of course this is how you’ve always been.  You were born into a certain place with a particular upbringing surrounded by types of people, and you developed and did what worked for you at the time.

You could’ve easily been swapped into another place with another upbringing, and acquired a completely different set of habits and preferences.

If there’s something that’s not working for you, and you wish you could change it, you can.  Like I said, you were built for this.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are what you’ve always done.

Don’t believe that you are your habits. You are so much more than how organized you’ve been, how you’ve always acted in relationships, or the way you’ve spoken up or shown up.

Just because you’ve long labeled yourself “plays it safe”, or “damaged goods”, or “disorganized” doesn’t mean that it’s permanent or ever meant anything concrete in the first place.

I do understand that some things can feel so ingrained and ‘right’, that you do not want to question them.

I have always been a hardcore night owl, it just comes naturally to me.  I’ve taken pride in it.  But having a flexible job that allowed me to work late into the night has only enabled me to go to bed later and later, and I’ve grown really tired of waking up a few hours before the sun goes down.

I’ve always resisted because I figured that because it was so natural and easy for me, it must be right .  But then why did it start to feel like such a hindrance?  Why was it starting to feel so good to get up early and have a full day of sunlight ahead of me?  I wanted both but I knew I had to make a choice.  I can always go back to “proud night owl”, but right now I’m trying on “Rises before noon and tackles the day”.

Other labels I’ve been in the process of taking off and trying on:

Taking off “owns an eclectic wardrobe full of stuff” and trying on “only owns things I love and wear a lot”.

Taking off “carefree creative rebel” and trying on “driven and passionate creative rebel”.

Taking off “having a good time is my priority” and trying on “achieving my dreams is my priority [and my new idea of a good time]”.

Taking off “I don’t do stupid small talk” and trying on “I enjoy connecting with people”.

It’s funny that all of these off-labels were once labels I felt very driven and proud to put on.  That’s the tricky bit: our most restrictive labels are often the ones we take pride in. Some of them actually crept up on me and I didn’t realize I had adopted them.  None of them are more right or wrong on their own, they just have their own time and place in my lifeline and at the moment I’m putting them away on the shelf for now.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. — Possibly Albert Einstein

You don’t have to be what you’ve always thought of yourself.

Look out at the wide world around you. There are a godzillian different choices and possibilities and combinations and pathways to try out.  Any of them could become yours.

Changing things up WILL feel really weird at first, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.  It’s just different, that’s all.  It will take conscious effort to rethink things that you never questioned for many years. Think of all the people who have been living this “new” way their whole life and think nothing of it.

Just try it out.  In increments.  Dip your toes.  Wiggle into it.  Take it slow and stay curious.

Paradise isn’t a place you go to, it’s where you’re coming from

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If paradise is all you need to be happy, then everyone in paradise would be happy.  But they’re not.

There are people everywhere who are uptight and perpetually negative, who continually create problems for themselves.  There are people who move to try to escape their lives, and sometimes they can flourish in the new soil and grow.  But most of the time I’ve seen people trying to figure out why they’re still having the same troubles and why they’re still not happy.

A place cannot solve who you are.  It cannot make you more interesting, more at peace, or more legit.

When I go home to Hawaii, I notice that I bring my troubles with me.  I may be enjoying the weather, the food, being around family and friends, but if there’s something on my mind it won’t magically fix itself.  Same with traveling to a new place or staying in a beautiful hotel — an escape is only as relaxing or enjoyable as the activity that’s going on in my head.

When I worked in Waikiki I would notice the tourists who were trying so hard to have a good time that they were stressing over it.  If you’re demanding and impatient at home, you’re going to find that your vacation will be subpar.  If you’re lonely because you believe people need to be more agreeable, you’re going to be lonely wherever you go.

It’s not where you are, it’s where you’re coming from.

As in where you’re coming from inside.  No matter what your history, you are still responsible for the way you bring yourself to the stage everyday.  No matter how wonderful the setting, your experience will only be as good as your ability to perform.  Don’t have the skills?  You can work on it, you can learn… you’re not stuck.

Unless you’re in an unsafe situation, there is so much you can do to begin to change your experience without needing to leave right this moment.  Imagine someone who would be absolutely thrilled to step into your shoes.  Why would they be thrilled?  What would they be thinking?  For someone stepping into my shoes, it would be: “Wow, I get to live here in this beautiful little house, and drive a car, and buy fresh groceries, and have a flexible schedule, and a job, and I am healthy and have an amazing family!”  And I can think of so many more things.

What does paradise feel like to you?  Does it feel like peace and joy?  Or excitement and curiosity?  Imagine what someone in your shoes would need to think and focus on in order to feel that way.

It’s more than just gratitude, it’s realizing that if a place determined your experience, everyone would feel the same way about it — but they don’t.  There’s so many variations of how people can feel.  So that’s proof that it all comes down to where you are coming from inside.

I absolutely believe that it’s easier to find happiness in a different place, but if you can’t be there right now there’s no reason why you should make yourself suffer.

That said, I’m learning how to not use LA as an excuse for feeling stressed or misanthropic.   I’ve often felt a self-righteous need to escape back to HI for a moment, where it was more chill and friendly.  Then I realized that if I want to keep the “aloha spirit” with me, I totally can!  It takes mental work and awareness, but it’s completely my choice for how long too brood if someone is rude to me, how angry I want to get about traffic, or how much I want to label people.

It’s my responsibility to act and feel the way I want to, wherever I am.

Why you must hire yourself as creative director of your life

 

meme2Just like any top celebrity, I have a crew.

My physical trainer knows how to get me out hiking each week and to coax me into yoga sessions after work.  My finance manager helps me see possibilities instead of just a jumble of numbers .  My nutritionist drags me out for groceries late at night so I can gladly wake up to bananas and kiwis the next morning.  I always check in with my life coach and work with my business and branding advisor to build opportunities for myself.

I position myself as creative director, over-seeing my life as my kingdom, running my own show.  I am in control and I give myself no excuses.

The only difference between myself and an A-lister is that they have to shell out top dollar; if they lose their wealth, they lose these services.  My crew may not be as flashy or prestigious, but they can get me through well enough until I can afford to upgrade — and I never have to worry about losing them.

I am my crew.  We all can have a crew.

Deep down inside we know more than we think we do.

We know what gets us motivated and moving.  We know what it would take to stay on task long enough to see results.  We know what we want from ourselves, what we want to look and be like, what our deepest goals and loftiest dreams are.

And if we need help with something, we have Google and apps at our fingertips.  This is powerful stuff, it is an amazing time to be a creative individual.

We know exactly what we need to do, but it’s difficult because we’ve woken up as ourselves every day of our lives.  It’s all too easy to cling to who we were yesterday and the day before.

Giving yourself a title and proper job description in your mind is a quick way to a fresh new perspective.  It’s also a great way to snap out of complacency and into a temporary role of specialized responsibility without utterly boring yourself.

Studies have shown that our subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between imagining something and actually experiencing it — participants practicing playing a tune on an imaginary piano had the same had the same parts of their brain fired up as those who  practiced on a real piano.  Similarly, sitting down and taking on the position of production manager and giving ourselves motivational pointers can get us through an otherwise uninspiring project; our brains may not know any difference than if you hired someone.

We know that if we had a top-notch coach waiting on us to deliver, we wouldn’t be lying prone on the couch all day.  We know that if we just made the effort to do what we need to do, we would be so much more ahead.

It’s so easy to slip into laziness.  But that is why you must position yourself as creative director.  Or professional organizer.  Or tutor.  Or job finder.  Or whatever specialty service you need at the moment.  Give yourself the role of guiding and motivating yourself through a task, reminding yourself why it’s so important, and giving encouragement.  We need this from others, but we most need it from ourselves first.

And that’s the biggest thing: we cannot wait for the right people to come and support us.  We can’t lay back and expect everything to come easy.  The moment we think we’re lacking something because we cannot hire a coach or manager or whatever, is just a big excuse.   Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re helpless if you’re by yourself.  Just as you would know how to help out a friend, child, or loved one, you know how to help yourself.

So get your crew together!  Take the time to work with yourself, talk to yourself, post messages or whatever it takes.

You are creative director whether you hired yourself or not.  This is your show.

 

Note: Shout out to my blog manager for keeping me working through a bout of distraction!

In case you’re feeling old & tired: Virginia McLaurin

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You’ve probably already seen how this jolly 106 year old met the president and took over social media.  In my eyes she is a legit life master whose essence and wisdom, I — as humble monk and young grasshopper — wish to inscribe into my digital notebook on living life.

Virgina McLaurin on living through a century of prejudice and progress:

“This was white and this was black. There were so many things we weren’t allowed to do, we were raised up like that,” she said. “I felt like it would always be that way.”

Still, she was never bitter — quite the opposite. People ask her all the time how she remains so positive. “I have nothing to do but be happy,” she says. But do you ever worry, they’ll ask. “Why? It ain’t gonna help.”

Deeply faithful, McLaurin attends a weekly Bible study, and she said it’s helped her stay upbeat and healthy. That, she said, and a diet of fried beans and peas. Other than a back surgery about 50 years ago, she hasn’t had any major health issues.

“The Bible said a good laugh is the best medicine,” she said. “You don’t know who you’re going to have to look to before you leave this world, so you treat people how you want to be treated. Treat people nice and somebody will always treat you nice.”

 One of the first things McLaurin noticed when meeting Obama was how much he’d aged. But she still found him very handsome. “I wish I could have 30 minutes alone with him,” she said, mischievously. “Oh, you know how women think.”

Entire article here.

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Something about a 106 year old in an electric blue suit with crazy good energy.  Granny mentality at it’s finest.

In the middle of Hollywood I’ve observed women who don’t smile, even while out dining with their children, because they’re afraid of getting lines on their face.  I’ve recently been inspecting the sides of my eyes, wondering if I should begin to pay more attention to my skin.  Holy crap.

Worry ain’t gonna help, be deeply faithful, laugh a lot, and treat people how you want to be treated.

Word.  Amen.

And it doesn’t matter what your bible is.  The only bible that has any impact on your life is the one that you keep inside your head: the beliefs you choose to focus on.  Just be deeply faithful in something that makes you feel alive and good, and it will take you to the pinnacles and through the thickets.

It doesn’t matter what your diet is, just eat what you enjoy that makes you feel healthy.

Stressing over the little nuances is what steals the moments of our lives from us, and perhaps even our life itself.

I love that she doesn’t see herself as a victim.  That she doesn’t have to identify with her age.  That she sees our immense steps forward and how far we’ve come rather than how far we need to go.  She has focus.  She sees how we all work.

She sees that all that ever matters is what’s happening right now, and we have nothing to do but be happy.

Obama: “So what’s the secret to still dancing at 106?”
McLaurin: “Just keep movin’!”

Awareness is Mind-Nutrition

 

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Like most college students, I treated myself disgustingly.

I knew about nutrition of course, but it wasn’t as important as doing everything I could to live life to the fullest.  Breakfast was usually a sugar-free redbull and a pop tart — fresh out the wrapper while driving.  Other meals came as leftovers from the restaurant I worked at, or take-out.  The fridge was basically an oversized minibar of condiments and booze.  I partied myself to sleep and caffeinated myself through classes.  I regret nothing.

However when I began to get bedridden sick once a month and developed a mysterious full-body rash, I very slowly began to become more aware of what I was doing to myself.

Until my sudden issues, I was getting by just fine so I really didn’t care.  I was young and fit!  I did yoga and walked for the majority of my job, so why did it matter?

I want to propose a similar case for the mind.

Just as I took my outer appearance as measure for my health, we often look at our life and figure that if we’re functioning normally and not locked up in a mental institution, everything must be fine.  Even when we’re going through bouts of drama and negative emotion, it still seems normal because it’s what we’re used to seeing on TV, tabloids, movies, social media… everywhere.

We’re being told it’s ok to be constantly in a feud with your loved ones.  It’s perfectly fine to feel like the world is against you all the time.  It’s totally normal to be your own worst enemy — there’s a song about it.

And these things do happen.

But just like viruses, germs, disease, and other external constituents, our ability to deal is directly related to our internal health and vitality.

So when I was exposed to grime and dust while moving out of my apartment, my improperly nourished system was unable to cope and I developed a severe and very itchy dust mite allergy.  Then with an even weaker immune system, I was getting sick all the time.

Similarly, when someone isn’t properly tending to their mind, they are easily felled with the slightest of blows.  They need more down-time when something bad happens, and often have difficulty getting back up again.  The mind is very much like the body.

And we know about positive thinking and gratitude and meditation and all that.  But while in the thick of life, that stuff can seem about as appealing and easy as going out to gather ingredients for a homemade salad when there’s deep fried snacks laying about.

We know what’s good for our minds, we just think that minding everything happening outside is more important.  It usually isn’t until we hit a breaking point or crisis that we are forced to turn to the only thing left to rely on — ourselves.

I remember popping cranberry pills, trying to quell a bladder infection before it spread to my kidneys, while boozing up and going to a massive rave.  I remember the squinting confusion of shopping for multivitamins for the first time.  And for a while I took vitamins (when I remembered) and continued doing the same old routine.  It was a half-assed start, to say the least.  But it was a start.

And that’s how it is when becoming aware of what’s going on within our head.

We each have our own methods that work best for our pace and style in life.

Some people have a full-on divergence, where they jump headlong into positivity and spiritual trajectories as their new way of life.  Some weave in and out of different teachings and practices.  Others take to it as serious research, while some see it as bringing play and beauty into their lives.  Some see it as a fascinating project.  Some just casually peek into it.  There is no right or wrong way, as long as you are paying closer and more honest attention.

We can’t directly see our innards, but we can feel them.  We know when we feel well nourished from a healthy meal.  We know when we feel true joy, versus one that is reliant or forced.

I didn’t feel any different while taking a multivitamin.  But it opened my eyes just a tiny bit to notice what I was putting into my body.  That it was a choice.  And very, very slowly I began to make little changes here and there.

Awareness is the biggest key.

Just noticing what we’re doing to ourselves is a huge thing.  We don’t have to make enormous changes yet, or at all.  Just stop and pay attention.

Instead of redbulls, I slowly switched to coffee.  Then years later, to black tea.  Then green tea.  But I had to notice first and question my mechanical actions.

Body and mind health really do go together.  It’s difficult to enjoy one without the other.  It’s tough to say whether it’s worse being at the peak of physical health while being miserable, or being constantly sick but with a mind full of peace and happiness.

Don’t feel bad if you find that you keep feeding yourself thoughts of other people’s opinions, or your own ultra-critical insults and reliving of the past.  It’s just what we do as analytical humans.  And it’s even more difficult than noticing what we eat, because we can’t actually see what we’re putting into our brain.

So just sit and notice.  Slow way down.  Pause the chatter for just a second and look at what the sentences and implications are.  Notice that you can focus your thoughts.  It’s not just fluffy stuff like thinking happy thoughts and making gratitude lists, the whole point beneath all that is the fact that you can focus your thoughts.

Just like how you can choose your food, you can choose your thinking.  And there’s absolutely no need to go from pop tarts to kale salads.  Do not feel bad if you are aware of your negative thinking and do nothing to change it!  As long as you see what’s there and that you CAN change it if you wish.  Sometimes life is too crazy to start just yet.  But just watching and being aware is the biggest step forward, even if it feels like you haven’t done anything yet.

I don’t believe in all-or-nothing.  I believe in respecting yourself as human being, not an animal that needs to be whipped and trained into perfection.  I believe that we all have it in us to make remarkable changes, and that we each have our own style of doing so.  I respect the desire and acknowledgement of ability to change, almost or if not more than the actual change itself.  Because it takes guts to have a sense of ownership, of responsibility for ones life.  It’s intimidating yet so exciting because we know it’s all up to us, and deep deep down we know that we can do if it we really truly wanted to.

The quality of our mind nutrition is equivalent to how we experience our world.  It affects everything.  And many of us know that if we were happier, we would eat better and get more shit done.  So true health and vitality begins up here.  This is what’s getting us through our lives.  Let’s pay attention.

 

Granny Mentality

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One of my life goals is to be a really cool granny.

It’s basically my fantasy of the best way to grow old.

I like to call it “granny mentality”.  Not cranky granny, but powdery sweet-cheeked, pink-hued-haired, perennially patient, spunky granny who always has an adorable crinkly smile and quirky love for everybody.

The kind of granny at the grocery check out, smiling adoringly at nothing else but the miracle of being alive and that her apricots are being bagged for her.  The kind of granny that chuckles at hip hop blaring from cars and adores crazy fashionistas.  Even the hardest of hearts can’t help but love her because she’s so damn open and non-judgmental about everything.

The masculine version of this would be, as I’ve always imagined, a kind of Dalai Lama or Gandalf in a snazzy suit who’s full of gentle jokes, who chuckles kindly and thoughtfully in response to our stories, then offers timeless words of wisdom.

These are fantastical descriptions, but we’ve all seen real life versions reflected in spirited senior citizens who seem to have a kind of energy that belie their year of birth.  We secretly get a tinge of jealousy.  “Dang, I hope I can be that happy when I’m their age!”, I find myself thinking with too much seriousness; not entirely missing the irony as I do a speed-walk maneuver around two cackling fairy godmothers.

I am intrigued by the idea of adults who have regained the desirable mental traits of being a child, and thus in my opinion have the best of both worlds.  They have the wonderment and loving curiosity of innocence, but are far from being weak and naïve.  They’ve seen it all, they go through everyday life like all of us, yet they seem to magically lack the stress and burden that us whippersnappers carry.

And the best part about this is that it’s not just overly-optimistic — it could be more real than we realize.

Recently scientific studies have shown an increased sense of happiness as we grow older, with a boost at around 60 and beyond.  Despite common perceptions and unavoidable complications of aging, things are shifting enough mentally for them to tip their emotional scales in a positive direction.  And no, it’s not because they’re all batty or senile.

What’s going on?

This is what I’ve gleaned from articles, interviews, and a TEDtalk:

They have more acceptance of what is instead of fighting against it all the time.  They are enjoying the reality of the moment instead of being holed up in the past or postponing joy for the future.  They understand that time is limited so why waste it on being distracted by stuff that’s not even happening?

They have more emotional intelligence, thus they get less anxious or angry over what they know they cannot control.  They focus more on the positive instead and know what truly makes them feel good.

They appreciate the little things more.  It’s no longer about looks and vitality and impressing everyone.  They look at what’s right in front of them and are able to see all the beauty because they’re not so preoccupied with the things of fleeting superficial importance that fade along with youth.

They have a quality social life and savor ordinary interactions.  Once again, just fully enjoying what they already have, especially the kind of stuff we often overlook in our distractedness.  And they make time for these things.  The happiest are not tucked away alone somewhere; we as a species need interaction.  Having meaningful relationships is also a major factor in longevity in blue zones, where groups of people are known to live the longest.

Ultimately it seems like they spend less time caring about what the world thinks about them and their stuff, and more about what they think about themselves and their stuff.  They are finally learning to find joy within themselves and settle into exactly who they always were, instead of fighting or repressing themselves as they might have done in their younger years.  Who cares about what others think, they do what makes them feel expressive and real! (And ironically, we tend to give the most approval to those who are bold enough to do so).  When they feel genuinely good about themselves, they no longer feel a disconnect between themselves and others. Now that it’s no longer about competition, they’ve mellowed out and are more accepting of one another and everything around them.  They have tapped into the elusive internal happiness, and no longer put the external at front and center.

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It’s understandable that seeing mortality materializing on the horizon can cause great changes in ones mindset in life, but how do I harness some of this amazing outlook now?  Why does it have to take disease and aging to induce letting go of the vanities of youth and to understand how to live each moment more pure and fully?

I always assumed that it had to do with a kind of surrender — the kind that I didn’t want to experience yet.  I thought it would be along the lines of “I’m feeble and wrinkly so I might as well find my joy in whatever I can”.  I thought it would be like giving up on excitement and fun and just settling for what I have.

Acceptance is a big part of it, but there’s nothing that says you need to be over 65 and live an overly simple life to do so.  I thought about all the senior citizens traveling the world, trying new things, taking risks, working on their passions, and being enthralled while doing so.  Many of them are still happily in the daily grind — going about their day, working hard, playing hard, and never wanting to fully retire.

So if it has nothing to do with circumstance, what is it?  And why do younger people have difficulty finding it?

We think that we have to find happiness right now, which translates to chasing physical and financial gain, which shows up as stress and self doubt.  We are subconsciously allowing ourselves to postpone our happiness until we get what we think we need to be happy.  What if we just allowed ourselves to already be happy, while we work towards all our goals?  Who says we can’t?

I used to worry that if I found happiness in the moment, I would be too content to want to strive for anything more.  That is completely wrong.  Happiness in the moment doesn’t suddenly make me stupid, blind, and unambitious, it just makes me happy in the moment.  And that happiness is what fuels me to do better work, and be a better person to be around.  I don’t believe that we need to get everything lined up before we can enjoy the moment.  The moment is always here, and choosing to enjoy it won’t change anything else about our drive in life other than making it much more empowering, worthwhile, fun, and less stressed.  Wow.

On not-so-great days, I notice that everything is tinged with thoughts of lack.  I might be enjoying pho with my friend, and then think about how it would’ve been cheaper to eat at home.  Then I’d be happy about the nice weather while driving, then think about how I want to get a better car.  Later, I’d be working on what I love, then think about how far I still am from the most successful in my field.  Basically my rationale would be “why should I be enjoying this when I have so far to go?”.  As if allowing myself the enjoyment of the moment would mean that I’m being lazy.  No!  I’m just enjoying being alive!

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And these past few months I have been getting tastes of it here and there.

On my best days, when I’m most in granny mentality, I don’t feel like an enlightened being or something superior and unaffected.  I feel like something inside of me has unclenched.  I feel it in my stomach.  I feel more vulnerable, but not in a frightened way.  I feel much less self-conscious, and my focus is on what and who is around me, without it having to mean anything about myself.  I’m not in such a rush to make some kind of impression or say the right thing, instead I’m just allowing the moment to be an individual experience within itself.  I am able to practice seeing the humans beneath all the social exteriors. Things become less serious and more fun.  Meeting people feels like a cozy and fun event instead of one that should have a purpose.  Should someone say something off-putting to me, there is definitely still a moment of emotional rising, but instead of thinking I need to act upon it, I have a moment of pause.

Just a pause.

And in that space, if my mind is in the right place, I find myself in a bit of amusement.  I am able to center myself and see reality for what it is, and not make it all about myself.

Then I know I am in my granny mentality.

I think it’s definitely helped me to put a name and colorful character idea to a mindset.  When I know I’m being too external and selfish,  thinking of happy punk-grannies and their accepting, open-hearted natures helps to get me back in check.  Perhaps this could be a practice in your life?  Maybe it’s a different image, an actual character, or a mythical figure?

It is important to realize that we’re as capable as anyone else to find happiness within ourselves.   Why wait until our later years to discover this ‘secret’?  Life is already too uncertain!  Wisdom can begin to grow right now, right here, and it’s never too late.

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Older But Happier? 5 Amazing Findings from Recent Research

Stanford study shows getting older leads to emotional stability, happiness

Research: Older adults are happiest Americans

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Where happiness really comes from & why it matters

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No one who is truly happy is an asshole.

Many people appear to be full of joy, until something goes “wrong”.  The restaurant has a 20 minute wait.  Suddenly their demeanor changes.  They argue with the host and complain to other waiting customers.  Or they spend the 20 minutes in silent frowning distress until they are sat.  Only then do they allow themselves to try to regain their happy attitude, but often discover it is difficult, and they blame the restaurant.

This is how it usually happens when we’re relying on external circumstances to fuel our mood.  It often can work and feels great, until something doesn’t go according to plan, and then you are suddenly left in the cold to either begin to fuel your own good mood, or give it away to the power of something outside yourself.

True happiness is inner happiness; it is self-sustaining and doesn’t rely on anything or anyone to supply it.  When you have inner happiness, you are kinder, have more energy, are healthier, more creative, and much more resilient. You are able to give so much more to the world and other people.

This doesn’t mean that unforeseen complications won’t be an annoyance, but the person with inner happiness deals with life’s difficulties with much more ease.  You are able to spend more moments in the range of joy rather than stress.

But relying on external happiness is much more common because it’s so easy.  We just react to what is around us — easy!  We’ve been doing it since we were kids.  If we feel unhappy, we blame someone or something else.  It’s easy, we never have to take responsibility.

Inner happiness is an easy concept to understand but takes much more effort to allow.  Especially in these times we are so over-stimulated by the outside that we’ve forgotten how to get back to that internal fuel.  It’s there — it’s always been there and always will be; it just takes work to uncover it and allow it to be while we move through the world.

Both sources have been in full effect since we were kids, but now as adults we have the capacity to choose which one we want to use more.

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Taking a closer look at internal & external helps us realize which one we’re relying on more at the moment.   There’s nothing inherently wrong with either mode of happiness, it’s just very important to know the difference and the need for a balance between the two:

External Happiness is reliant on something outside of yourself to be a certain way:
Weekend trip going perfectly.  Partner acting the way you want.  Enough money in the bank.  Friends remembering your birthday.  Going to Disneyland.  Getting liked & acknowledged.  Having a good hair day.  Getting the role you wanted.  Your team winning.

Often feels like: indulgent fun, a thrill, an escape, excitement, elation, smug satisfaction, justified manipulation

Relying only on he external will never secure happiness.

If you’ve been wondering why life feels like a ride of immense peaks and valleys, it’s because you’re looking mostly to the external to determine your mood.

I’ve gone through dark times where I’ve tried to control the outside to feel how I wanted on the inside.  Ironically this preoccupation with control made me feel so out-of-control and neurotic, because I saw that I could never control anything outside of myself.  Ever.  I would be frustrated over how I could be so elated one moment, then so pissed off the next — it was because I was willingly putting my emotions out there for the world to mold for me; I was shunning all responsibility and choosing to be powerless.

We were teenagers and my boyfriend could hardly manage his own emotions, so why was I relying on him for sustaining mine?  I became mean and manipulative. It took much drama and heartbreak for me to realize the futility of this, and through my regret I began my search to learn how to fuel my own feelings.

When you’re relying too much on needing the right conditions to be happy, it’s like being empty inside and continually trying to vacuum in all that you think you need to fill you up and create that sense of joy and well-being, but it’s never enough.  You’ll be walking a shaky bridge that could run out of flooring at any moment.  It takes a lot of energy and robs you of enjoying life.

It is an enormous waste of time and effort, and is inherently doomed for failure because we don’t live in a perfect world.

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Internal Happiness comes from the inside and isn’t reliant on anything outside:
Feeling proud about what you’ve accomplished.  Enjoying an activity.  Appreciating what you have in life.  Loving someone as they are.  The thrill of the freedom of making a personal decision.  Knowing that you’re pursuing your dream.  Feeling good about yourself.

Often feels like: unconditional love, unconditional fun, self respect & care, curiosity, intrigue, playfulness, joy, openness

Relying on the internal is the only genuine, surefire way.

It’s how we felt at our core as little children.  It feels like good energy that comes up from inside and allows us to be and act in the world as a whole person, not someone searching for stuff from everyone else.  It is always there and can always be tapped into.  It feels like love and worthiness, joy and excitement of life itself.  Dare I tout that it’s all natural and organic?

When I’m able to get into this mode, the world feels like an amazing, interesting place, even with all it’s problems.  I feel open to whatever is happening at the moment, and I feel like I have so much to give out to others, regardless of how they receive it.  It’s not so much about spreading rainbows of joy as it is about just being open and happily allowing whatever comes up.  And being intrigued by it, as a little child is with everything.  It feels playful.  It feels slightly scary at first, yet surprisingly natural.

One of the amazing benefits of this is that a lot of things I wish I could improve, like judging people less and accepting the moment, automatically happened when I get into this mode.

And I didn’t lose my ambition or desire for change, like I had originally feared.  I was loving the moment while working towards something even better, and that was a feeling that was unlike any other externally-induced excitement.  I saw that the power for change was completely housed within myself — I lost all desire for even the most subtle manipulation or approval-seeking. It felt so free.  I felt like I could give more of myself to the world than ever before.
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Mix internal and external together and you’ll have an amazing time.  But the external always has some kind of deadline of let down or disappearing.  The internal can come from the inside-out no matter what the circumstance.

I like to view it as having a sure back-up.  If the external fails to provide, I always know I can rely on my internal to fuel me through the moment.

Inner happiness makes you:

–Kinder to others, you can give so much more.

–More energy to focus on better things

–Looking for the good in life means you notice more good and starts multiplying

–Keeps you much more supple and resilient; you bounce back quicker.

–Open to more friends & opportunities

–Attract others like you

–Healthier, less stress!

–More creative, less blocks & fear

–Not needy.  Instead independent, empowered, in love with what is already here.

–The more happy moments you have, the more of a happy life you will have.

If you think about it, this true happiness is all we really want.  Everything we do has behind it, the motivation to feel a little better.  We can see that one can have too much power or too much money, but never too much happiness.

Happiness is really all we want.  It is the base of our life pursuit.  It was written into the Declaration of Independence. 

It always boggled my mind that if this is our ultimate life desire, why aren’t we focusing on achieving it in a way that is self-sustaining?  Why are we always trying to reach for the things that can be easily taken from us?

It appears to be more fun and easy to reach for the glittery stuff, but to spend an entire lifetime chasing after it and then discovering that it doesn’t hold everything you were hoping for is a wasted life.

But you can do both.  You can reach for the fun stuff while dedicating your life to practicing the inner stuff.

Realizing the difference between these things is easy to see, but is quite complicated when trying to figure out how to make a balanced shift.

This is just the basic foundation of something I have dedicated myself to studying and have been actively practicing this in my daily life. I know so many of you are also on this journey, and I will be writing about this much more in depth and sharing my findings in the upcoming posts.

Scary TV and Happy focus

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There was a marathon of Forensic Files on and I couldn’t stop watching. Probably 5-6 episodes. It was around 5am when I forced myself to turn off the TV and turn over in bed to confront my brand new paranoia that someone was going to break in through the sliding door, or was hiding in the room and watching me. There was a heavy darkness that wasn’t there just hours before. I began to question if I really truly knew the psychology of friends, neighbors…the man I slept beside, and even myself.  Who can be trusted? Are we ever safe?  I began to think very darkly of the world.

But I knew it was all in my mind and I was layering dark filters over reality.

I was lying in fluffy a warm bed at a 4-star Disney resort hotel. The sun was probably coming up soon.  There was a manicured lawn outside lined with pink flowers.  I was at Disney World, mentally cowering. Why?  Nothing felt awful before I watched TV.

The mind goes places and takes me with it. It’s ok, everything is ok. Just tame it. Just calm it down, take it back down to reality, remove those dark lenses. Look at what’s here. Here’s a moment. Here’s another moment. Here’s some light peaking through the curtains, shining off the silhouette of Mickey Mouse’s head on the base of the lamp.

Watching scary things are an amazing example of how the mind can color our reality and steal joy from otherwise perfectly fine moments.  If these things — which we know are just contained within a screen — have the power to steer our minds so much in one direction, it’s no wonder that we are so easily influenced by things that happen to us in real life.

Someone yells at me from a car as I’m trying to cross the street, and suddenly for hours after, the world seems like it’s full of rude people and I feel dismayed.  But it’s still the same day I was having earlier, when all seemed well and right.

Put it into a beautiful practice.  Mind where I put my focus.

Just a dude making a noise in a car. Just someone passing through my day.

Just a show about stuff gone wrong.  Just a story with images.

Look at what’s in front of me, physically here.  Is there anything truly wrong at this moment?  

Nope…I’m fine.

What is good at this exact moment?

My keyboard glows a pretty purple backlit hue.  The heater is on and I am warm.  I have a bottle of water.

Breathe into the moment and feel what’s good about this second, and then the next.

Take it moment by moment and find what’s already just fine.

Everything is just passing before us.

I can’t control what will happen, but I can practice minding my focus.  Each happy moment is just a practice of focusing.  It’s making a choice of where to put my mind.  If my life’s purpose is to be happy and live in hope, that’s a clear focus to choose.

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The genius of the right way

There is no right way.

There are just ways that happened to work — for the most part — for a lot of people.   There are ways that are promoted by people who have a  large following.  There are statistics showing that a lot of people who do a certain something, obtain a particular outcome.

A lot of people may flourish in a formal education setting, but maybe formality happens to be what holds you back.

A lot of people may need around 10,000 hours to become really good at something, while with your skill-set you may need 15,000…or 500.

A lot of performers get a particular education and move to a particular city to do their craft, but that doesn’t mean you need to do the same to be just as fulfilled.

A lot of addicts never manage to get their lives together, but a lot of them really do… in a huge way.

Just because 6 days a week for 4 years, plus several retreats in India worked for internet-famous yoga teachers, doesn’t mean that that’s exactly what you need to reach your desired level of fitness.

We all have things in common, but we have so many things that are NOT in common with “a lot” of people.

The world doesn’t make that much sense!  If only it made that much sense and held that much order.

We don’t even all want the same things for the same reasons, learn in the same way, act out of from the same inspiration, or live for the same goals!

We are way too complex creatures for such things.

Listening to recommended ways-that-work for a lot of people is smart.  But developing our own custom methodology and applying personalized adjustments to those paths is the genius behind it all.

 

Probing our perception of others

Imagine if a famous director, a best-selling author, your hardest teacher, and a highly-regarded critic, got abducted by aliens wielding giant anal-probes.

The aliens strip them all naked and attach ID numbers to their rear-ends.

Then the probing begins.  They note the height, weight, and general health of each subject, and then the statistics that the probing procures.

They’re then carted away and stored in numerical order amidst a vast bio-library for future reference.

I wish I had some some witty social-political-toilet joke as a finale in here, but that’s not the point.

The point is that if you take someone out of their natural environment, they lose all context.  In another land, their accolades, titles, education, and physical embellishments mean nothing.  They’re just another curious foreign being flailing around making funny noises.

No matter what kind of prestige (or lack thereof) one might have, their words and sense of stature are not really real.  They have as much impact on us as we allow them to, and if we agree with that version of reality.

In our reality, their judgements of us could either mean the decisive voice of a demigod, or just funny noises.

It’s all in our perception.

We have a choice how deep we want to go.

What to do when there’s nothing you can do

When problems are way beyond my scale.

When I feel helpless and without control.

When there’s no obvious, effective answer:

The only way to properly pay respects to lives lost, or lives in peril, is to fully appreciate my own.  Instead of feeling guilt for having while others are lacking, instead appreciate fully.

Not the fluffy & blingy, but the essential.

The things that would immediately go missed whilst taking the last breaths of life.

That hug.  That smell. That familiar life-long voice on the phone.  My limbs and senses and the ever-changing smoggy sky.  Breakfast.  Second breakfast.  Going to work in relative peace.  Tea.  Everyday luxuries.

To ignore and trivialize these things would be to miss the point of terror.
Where I am and as who I am… I can only do so much as far as truly “fighting” back.
But not allowing that terror to invade my own life, until it physically may, is my own personal little war against it.

I have no control over the world.  But I have full control over my world.
To realize the moments, the minutes…to recognize that every second that I have is one that someone else no longer has, is tragedy.  Yet to use that as a cause for despair within my personal, otherwise unmarred life would be even more tragic.

The point is to use my grief as a starkly star-lit realization of the things I’ve always known but never wanted to face.
We are mortal.  Shit happens out of nowhere.  Life is chaos and doesn’t adhere to reason or fairness.

BUT.
This brings me back to reality.  What really matters.
Using tragedy as awareness and appreciation and getting lost in the bittersweet-savory-salty-picante-delicious present reality… regardless… is the true, good, fight.

And whatever may come will find me spending my unknowing last moments in appreciation and joy and questionably appropriate humor.
And I could die at peace.

So until then…

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Building the Monastery

Sacred:

  • reverently dedicated to a purpose.
  • regarded with reverence.

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Sometime recently this blog turned 3.  And I’ve been MIA this whole month.

But I’ve been more present than ever in Life.

I’ve been building things, creating beauty for myself from things regarded as worthless.

It’s not about money.  It’s not about possessions.  It’s not about impressions.

These things do matter…but only as far as they do to myself.

How does my money, possessions, surroundings, feel to me?  Myself?

Do I like the impression that I give MYSELF?

I was wrong by trying to fulfill everyone else’s expectations.  Doing it their way, for them, in thinking that I will get what I want out of it. It’s manipulative.

I want my surroundings to be for me.

I used to decorate with other people’s perceptions in mind.  I’ve gone through party-scene, romantic, wannabe-elegant, artsy-lofty….  They each provided a piece of the feeling I was going for, but never fully fulfilling what I needed for myself.

The purpose now is for my space to offer me peace, happiness, and ultimately a place to flourish and grow and create.  A cocoon.  A safe place of free flowing thought and aesthetic.

Do not underestimate your cocoon, your pupation station, your sacred spot dedicated to your own personal purpose.

Build it with attention to detail for what works for you, not impressions to the world.

4 months ago I was beginning to fancy goals such as Balenciaga purses and Range Rovers.

They are beautiful, but for what?  If they were invisible to the rest of the world would I still honestly want them as much?

Same with everything I keep in my space.

I’m aiming to impress myself.  Just me.

What would that look like?

 

 

 

Constant Reminders & Imperfect Circles

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I am always intrigued by tattoos with a philosophy — something that a person has chosen to embed permanently upon themselves as a constant reminder of what they strive towards.

Epicurus taught that although we may know what we believe in, it’s easy to forget and lose sight of our true priorities amidst the pressures and chaos of life.  His remedy for this was having constant reminders.  A dedicated follower one famously etched Epicurus’ teachings onto a wall in the middle of a plaza as a giant red reminder that true happiness is found within us, not in material wealth.

A similar modern practice is placing symbols around the home as unavoidable reminders of one’s religious devotion… or who one should root for on game day.

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I don’t have any tattoos, and at this point in my life I doubt I ever will.  I just can’t commit, and while I love them on other people I quite like my raw canvas of blank skin.

Instead I’ve always found ways to non-invasively remind myself of a particular philosophy I was eager to practice.

As a teenager I strung a tiny snowflake charm around my neck to remind me of Iceland (I was enamored with Bjork’s unique creative philosophy).  I’ve kept tiny notebooks as little bibles full of quotes & pictures that I would refer to throughout the day to inspire me and get my focus back on track.  Music playlists were also extremely helpful.

My recent interest has been in imperfect circles.

They show how much beauty there is in the unexpected, the incomplete, the naturally occurring.  The raw Enso circle in Zen philosophy represents the moment the mind is free to let the body create.

Plus they often magically appear under frequented cups of caffeine or wine… pretty coool.IMG_1709

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Mad Max Mentality

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When you’re dead set on your purpose, you don’t allow in anything other than what supports you.

Despite the deplorable conditions of the Mad Max realm, the most charismatic inhabitants are fiery and awe-inspiring in how much they give themselves to their survival.

They know they’re going to have to suffer big-time.  They know the world is out to get them.   They don’t know what easy is.  But they do it because they believe it’s worth it.  They don’t have a choice.

In the post-apocalypse no one has time to say “this shouldn’t be happening to me”.  Life is happening, and when you’re fully invested in your purpose it’s supposed to hurt.   It’s supposed to be a struggle.  You bleed and face a million obstacles, but it’s wonderful because you’re fighting for what you truly believe in.

This is how I want to live, fighting like a brute –albeit a slightly more refined and less lethal brute– for my true interests, my true self, my true beliefs and worthiness.

The kamikaze-like war boys of Mad Max live brainwashed and deprived, but I don’t need to be in order to tap into that mental drive and crazed intention.

All the excitement, suspense, tragedy and glory of the high-definition thriller happen to each and every one of us, although we tend to write off their momentousness because we perceive them as mundane annoyances.

When everything around me seems to be going wrong, it can still be a lovely day.  Because the struggle is worth what I believe in.

Combat skills can only go as far as the mental skills that drives it.   The only real thing that will keep us going when it feels like our world is imploding is how we choose to think about it.

Creativity thrives on Imperfection

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I realized that on perfect days I tend to not get much done.

I’m not agitated enough, hurried enough, flustered enough.

Like many, I work best under a time crunch.   While heavy urgency can cause excess stress and botched jobs, in the right amount it can also force us to think up crazy wonderful new ideas and put an end to analysis paralysis.

If the world was perfect and we could safely sleep under the stars every night and never want for anything, civilizations would have never formed, technology never devised, and culture never created.

It is through having a need, perceived imperfections, a struggle, that we become the most inventive and amazingly brilliant.

What is the perfect situation anyway?

If I  didn’t have insomnia last night?  If today wasn’t 98 degrees?  If I didn’t have to deal with traffic, or my day job, or demanding LA folk?

Despite my initial inclination to grumble, I know that these are the days that I make the most notes, have sudden ideas, epiphanies, and creative solutions … if I am allowing of it.

If I am allowing of it.

The Spaces in the Places

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It doesn’t have to be ugly.  It’s just people on the streets.  Just discarded items.  Just places that haven’t been given love in a while.  It’s just someone reacting to another reaction.

It doesn’t have to be scary.  These things have all been done before in some shape or form by other human beings.  We are meant to be strong, resilient, supple.  We are meant to endure and find ways to balance again.

It doesn’t have to be difficult.  It’s just another day, another thought, another series of actions.  And it’s always a choice.

It doesn’t have to be complex.  It’s just many simple things put together.  It’s just things doing what they do.  It’s just life going about it’s crazy way.

It doesn’t have to be black or white.  Something can be great and awful at the same time.  Something can be brilliant yet stupid.  Something can be beautifully ugly.  Something can be many things all at the same time.

The pressure doesn’t need to be there.  It’s just people saying things, doing things.  It’s just pictures across a screen, on a large sign.

It’s just words in the media.  It’s just people who happen to be known by many other people.

It’s just the world moving along.

Beautiful Paradoxes

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Bringing the zen concepts to modern life without the asceticism.  Simplifying everything and still living in a chaotic world.  Mindfulness in a driven life.

When the mind is free to let the body create.

I notice that I have been happier and more appreciative of what I have instead of immediately “needing” to change everything.  I think this is a big step.

The dark with the light.  Thinking about death allows me to experience more joy in life.  Finding beauty in the dark & gritty places allows me to fully feel the gloriousness of sunlit white rooms.  Hard metal music allows me to appreciate the sublimity of lush ambient soundscapes.

I really do think that this is what people are seeking.  Living this crazy life, but feeling good and living well.  Not having to escape, not having to need more, not thinking other people need to change first.

Only owning things that feel good.  Thinking thoughts that feel good.  Using creative solutions instead of buying into societal group-think.

Doing things truly for yourself, because that is who you’ll be with in the end.

Life is too short to not allow ourselves to see the beauty in each moment.  The dark & light.  The imperfect & flawless.  The so-called right & wrong.

Once basic needs are met, it’s never about money.   Once we see beauty in what we have, we no longer feel like we need that extra object.

Simplifying starts with the mind, so we can create more with our life.

Self Listening Practice

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If you’re anything like me, you’ll fully understand what it’s like to constantly feel the need to be more for people.  To have family and friends’ approval, to measure up to colleagues, to impress potential business connections, to gain validation from total strangers….  It’s a maddening world.

I realized more than ever how and when I’m taking other people’s potential opinions first and foremost over my own opinion and preferences.

I’ve been doing things solely for myself. 

Even just something basic like choosing to something that actually I really want to wear… and then watching the thoughts start to come in.  “White will get dirty!  You’ll look too dressed up; what’s the point of wearing that if you’re just running errands? You stuck up or something?”  …Just watching the thoughts that I am creating to talk myself out of my own preferences. Wow.

I noticed that I like to find a “rational” reason — as if I need a reason why I feel like wearing a favorite piece of clothing.  I realized that “because I’ll enjoy wearing it today” is just a good reason as any other.  I’ve been practicing noticing my own self-bullying, then standing up for myself.

I’ve been believing in my work.

One of the biggest things that’s been holding me back from going from a menial job to a professional career is a lack of proper focus.

In the very beginning I made it all about who I was for my clients.  I wanted to make sure I was perfect enough to coach others, and of course that just lead to extreme self-doubt and paralysis.

Then I made it all about making my clients very happy — which is something I can guide, but is ultimately up to them to carry out for themselves– and that just made me very needy and anxious…and paralyzed.

I’ve wavered between the two, trying to find a balance…then just a few days ago I was finally able to internalize what my coaching school has always taught:

It’s not all about fixing their problems.  Nor is it all about me achieving a perfect zen-life.

It’s all about the work I’m doing.

All I can do is give my all for every session.  Do my best work for the sake of my work…and my clients…and myself.

That brought me entirely back to the focus of the quality and love of my craft instead of any outcomes.

I’ve been paying attention to the beautiful little details despite moments of chaos.

Taking photos of soy-sauce marks left on a white table [above].  Noticing how the water swishes in the sink.  Stopping to enjoy the moment.  So damn cliched.  But I think I’m finally getting it.

I’m finally seeing how the big goal won’t be forgotten if I stop and be content and amazed by the beauty of the simple everyday moment; and in fact it probably provides me what I need to get closer to achieving that big goal.

Instead of immediately wanting to escape chaotic reality by distracting myself, I surprised myself this week by actually craving a blank white wall to just look at and let my mind relax into enjoying that extreme simplicity.  This is big for me.

I’ve been wearing more skirts and dresses this summer than I have in the past 10 years.

The skin on my legs aren’t great, but not wearing dresses had more to do about my fear that looking feminine would give away my weaknesses. It wasn’t about how I perceived women. It was me thinking that I needed to protect myself and put on a tough front.  I used my tomboyish preferences to hide the vulnerable things within me.

For the first time I’m feeling more fun and confident in a dress than I ever have before.  It’s because how I feel about myself always comes from within.  Funny how simple shifts in mindset can affect the seemingly most random changes.

It isn’t easy to write about these things.  I’m a naturally private person (…or is it a comfort zone? Hmm..) and these personal notations are not something I am used to expressing.

Part of me definitely feels like I’m over-sharing.  The other part of me feels surprisingly relieved.  As social animals it takes effort to hide information that one perceives as important, although fear and doubt can keep it hidden away.

I know that my uncomfortable vulnerability is someone else’s natural everyday state, but that’s the thing about inner monsters — with their arms too tightly around us they can shield our minds from realizing that our big fear really isn’t that big a deal at all.

Living without Regret Vs. Dying without Regret

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Regret is inevitable in life if you are an emotionally-healthy human being.

It may be semantics, but to live without regret seems to suggest not living with awareness.  We should regret things if we are to learn from our past.  But the idea is not to allow that regret to mean anything final.  We are still alive.  We are still writing our story, creating our work of art.

We should be allowed to regret whatever choices we have previously made, but to allow that regret to stop us from continuing to grow and soldier on is what we will ultimately regret on the deathbed.

The top 5 regrets of the dying: Not living life true to who they really were, working too hard, not having the courage to express their feelings, not spending enough time with friends, and wishing they had let themselves be happier.

These are all things that could have been improved upon at any time in life — as is with all things.

The only thing we will regret at the end is not trying to change when we could.

If you are reading this, you still have time.

So regret what you wish, but let it teach you and evolve you.

And in the end you won’t regret not giving it your all.

The only real mistake is thinking it’s too late to try.

Quality over Quantity

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Half of this week was spent in Las Vegas with my boyfriend’s friends who were celebrating their engagement, which made for interesting comfort zone expansion.

For this trip I wanted to lighten the load, especially inside my head.   Before leaving, I set aside my expectations.   I set aside the need for things to go a certain way.

I noticed when my mind started to analyze any discomfort, and I told myself that everything really is alright.  Sometimes I found myself doing this in startling ways.

Right before we were about to drive back to Los Angeles a thunderstorm suddenly hit, flooding the roads.  I sat behind the wheel in the parking structure, looking out at the lightning surrounding the Stratosphere.  I was tired and hungover and not looking forward to the long drive, and then getting back into the grind of the real world.

I had a sudden morbid thought: what if this was it?  What if we were going to die on the way home?  What if this was the last few hours of my life?

Instead of death, I was suddenly focused on life.  The warm wind blowing around us.  The dramatic skies.  My boyfriend’s quiet presence in the seat next to me.  How cool the monorail is.  How cool it is to be human.  Experiencing it all.

It wasn’t as sentimental as it was a full shift to the present moment.  Nothing was wrong.  Nothing will be wrong.  Even if something did go wrong it will not be wrong.

Just choosing to be along for and enjoy the ride.
Quieting the excessive thinking that does nothing but make for a dour mood.

The idea of the minimal mindset isn’t about not-thinking, it’s about choosing what to think and when.  Quality over quantity.

I’ve always worried that if I didn’t analyze enough I could miss something important, but I noticed that I was ironically missing out on the most important thing — the present moment.

There’s a time to be analytical, and a time to be minimal.

Something may seem uncomfortable but it’s usually just the thoughts we are having about the situation.

 

Questions to ask:
What is truly uncomfortable about this, right now?
How much of this discomfort is being created by excess thinking?
What is real for me right now?
What is there to feel good about right now?

Inside – Out

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What if getting out of a comfort zone required nothing more than changing thoughts?

 

I have become much more focused and aware of my comfortable-but-stagnant mental loops; catching myself in the middle of a spiral of doubt, excuses, procrastination & blame — and turning my thoughts towards more inspired and productive thinking:

In the middle of the week I was feeling annoyed because plans fell through and I was stuck thinking about how the whole day was wasted and it wasn’t my fault.  But then I realized that that thinking would keep leading me down a non-productive spiral to hellish nowhere, and that it would be my fault.  So I changed my thoughts to “I still have the rest of the evening to work on whatever I want”.  I got up and began a creative project, wrote an article, and listened to some podcasts.  And at the end of the night I felt great.

I have finally begun to honor my priorities.  I am working the rest of my life around my professional goals instead of the other way around.

I’m doing things to be awesome for myself, instead of trying to be awesome for someone else.

There’s a big difference between knowing something (that my thoughts drive my life) and actually putting it wholeheartedly into action and actually experiencing the process.  It’s been difficult.  Catching myself falling into easy, comfortable, and regrettable emotions has been difficult.

In the past I’ve tried to make big changes by altering my surroundings and my actions as fast as I could.  I thought that I could make myself anew by changing the outside, and my inside would simply adjust.  In retrospect I see that that method would tend to start off strong with determination, but then would ultimately begin to fall apart as I couldn’t keep up with the big changes.  It felt like a big farce.

The way to make it not a big farce is to begin to evolve inside first.

Once the inside starts changing the outer things happen almost on their own.

Maybe this is what Turning Pro is all about.

The Luxury Experience

IMG_1275When I was little I would try to create the things my parents wouldn’t buy for me.

All I wanted was a GoGo Pup.  It was a white Maltese on a pink electronic leash that could walk and bark.

You have a real dog.”  They said.  It was true.

“Yeah but Chica is an outside dog. And she’s old.”

I wanted what the commercial sold me on — days full of pink-hued sunshine with my pristine fancy puppy that would do whatever I wanted and could go everywhere with me.  I imagined how great I would feel to be an owner to my very own beautiful pet that I could name myself, and I planned all the adventures we would go on.

I remember digging up an old second-hand stuffed dog toy from the depths of the closet and rigging it to a rolling Waffle Blocks board, then tying a leash on it.  I cleaned up it’s matted fur as best I could and tied a pink ribbon around it’s neck.  It wasn’t electronic, but it would ‘walk’ behind me when I pulled.  And it was my very own puppy.  It felt special, luxurious even.

It was probably a few months later (aka: Forever, in kid-years) during my birthday that my grandparents finally gifted me with my very own genuine GoGo Pup.  I was ecstatic, but oddly don’t recall much about it after that.  I have fonder memories of my little make-shift pet and the stories we created together than the object I thought I so badly wanted.

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More often than not, it’s the stories we tell ourselves about the things we want that make them so alluring.

What we actually want is the experience of something, more so than the thing itself.

Back then I was giving myself the feeling of independence, companionship, and ownership.  Perhaps I just wanted something to call my own to take pride in.

It feels so much harder as an adult to find joy with the beat-up old car than the promise of happiness that the car of our dreams holds.

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What is the experience we really want?

What are the thoughts we think we will have once we acquire that special thing?

What’s stopping us from being able to think and believe in those thoughts right now?

We were born creative and crazy

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Who is crazy?  Who is creative?

You is crazy. You is creative.

Everyone is.  There are varying levels and styles, but we must be because it’s a major part of what makes us human.

We were all crazy creatives when we were little kidlets running around finding joy in turning things into others things and loving new perspectives, and we couldn’t understand why adults didn’t get it.  Why NOT wear fairy wings to school?  Why not wear underwear hats?  Why not see that being stuck in traffic is pretty much the best time to be astronauts?

Now that we’re the adults we think we’ve lost that spontaneous spark of childish genius that we’ve quietly suspected could fuel more fun and ingenuity into our lives.  Yet underneath the expectations, regulations, rules, formalities and shoulds, our crazy creative selves are still there — we just tend to keep it under (sometimes very tight) wraps.

Creativity is looking at what’s in front of you and imaging something different and how you can possibly get closer to that new idea of reality.  It’s taking what you’ve already got and using it in new ways to get a different result.  It’s looking beyond the current reality and seeing the possibilities of having a new perspective, making new meanings, repurposing, revamping, reshaping.

It’s more than artistic endeavors — in fact, being tangibly creative isn’t even required.  Any creativity starts within the mind, and then it is up to us how we end up using it.  Being open to exploring different ways of thinking and new ways of looking at the world is the creativity that powers all we experience in life.  Because we are all able to conjure up ideas and new thoughts, we all possess creativity.

Just like how an artist envisions a final project and then begins to gather reference, techniques, and materials to begin to create something new; so can we with our lives.  Creatives don’t sit around waiting for parts of the project to just show up, we are able to begin to make it real from what they already have.

You don’t need more money or education or things to start this.  The only requirement is an open and curious mind.

Once this process starts developing, we begin acting different.  We begin to break habits and form new ones.  We start to explore new ways of doing things.  We start to experiment.  We go up and down.  We start to step out of the box we were comfortable, but not really happy, in.  When we act different, people will see this as crazy.  We may feel a little crazy, but a more authentic kind of crazy instead of the usual anxious mindlessness.  This is a really good thing.

The best kind of crazy is the kind that you do for yourself — the stuff you would still do even if no one was there to know about it.

Being human means we are highly adaptable, which is proof of our unique and innate creativity.

We’re no longer children and that’s great.  We are now armed with our comparatively powerful adult wiles we have the ability to balance our smarts with our creativity and use that brilliant mixture to begin to live a slightly more crazy and much more awesome life.

Allow me to show you how.
This is a guide to better living through creativity — living the crazy creative life.

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The Truth and So What

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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

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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.  

Manifesto: Spiritually Ambiguous

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I’ve always felt like I’ve been seeking something that I couldn’t find, let alone define.

I know I’m not alone in this.

To lay away at night pondering mortality, purpose, happiness…life.  To sit in highschool and zone out on the cover of my marble notebook, hoping that the vortex of blurred spots would reveal to me some big secret, like the hidden Magic Eye pictures.

I think the majority of frustrations stem from a world that glosses over of the stuff that really matters, collaging reality over with lists of societal responsibilities.

You don’t need a label.  You’re a human being with incredible creative capability, whether you know it or not.

Just because there’s no church or group or school of thought that you currently feel at home in doesn’t mean that you’re on your own.  It means that you’re in a major position to realize how much of a part of everything you really are.

We’re all seekers.  We’re all seekers in our own ways, so what we’re searching for as individuals will always be slightly different.  Some of us are at home right away, some of us jump from group to group, some drift along and never find anything that feels right.  Others simply seek less, while some simply seek more.

But we are all seeking, on our own levels.

It isn’t our job to find and commit to a single group.  It’s our job to seek out and find the individual parts that work best for ourselves.  It’s a custom made purpose, a personally crafted spirituality.  Our own unique lifestyle that is built just for us.

I used to think that because I didn’t have a group, I didn’t really have a kind of spirituality.  But then I would sit and look at the stars at night and feel like I completely belonged in the biggest of schemes of things.

Just feel it.  Feel it in the smallest things in everyday life.  Feel it when you’re out alone in nature.  Feel it when you’re staring at the sky in the middle of traffic.

We’re all feeling it, discreetly.  We’re all experiencing, we’re all learning and living and existing.

I don’t know all the answers, or even any answers.  But I know that I’m alive and living with you all right now.

This is where we create what we could never find.  We’re all doing it differently, but we’re doing it together.

I now find it incredibly interesting and exciting to discover and learn what works best for different people.  There is no right or wrong way if it makes you feel like your true self.

Don’t be afraid to seek above & beyond.

 

Life as an artform

monkmusingsThis 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 growand 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 yourcraft.Untitled-1

The life experience 101

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.