Feeling good in a sad world

You know what’s not badass?

Forgetting how awesome our daily life really is.

It’s so easy to see homeless people and get caught up in how awful it must be, how sad that it is this way, whose fault it is, and so on.

You start to feel combinations of fear, guilt, sadness, hopelessness, annoyance, anger  –“the world needs to change!”

We project into the future, what we should be doing, what should happen, what might happen – and in the meantime the world seems like a dark place, and nothing productive is happening.

So what’s the best thing one can do about it right in that moment?

You could use it to feel good.

Does that sound messed up?  Why?

Why not use it to say: holy crap, I have it so good.  I’m so glad I don’t have to wake up in the dirt, in danger.  I’m so happy I have a safe home with running water and an awesome bed.  I’m so thankful I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to get food – I can just go to the grocery store and buy it!  I’m so lucky I have a job, so I can afford everything I need.  I’m so lucky I have friends and family that care about me.  I’m so lucky I get to have a car and go places so easily!

It’s not so much about being radiant and smiling.  It’s about feeling like your eyes have been re-opened.  It’s sobering.  It’s humbling.  It’s pure gratitude.

Suddenly, sitting in traffic is a nice place to be.  Suddenly, getting to go into our workplace is a relief.  Suddenly the annoying thing that was on our mind earlier isn’t such a big deal.  Suddenly it’s not about how bad things are, it’s about how good it actually is.

Why not see other’s misfortune as a way to wake up out of our distracted problem-filled stupor?  Why not catch ourselves going about our lives and not appreciating the little things that many people don’t have?  What good is it doing anyone to feel bad about a life that is comparatively really good?

It is 100% possible to feel empathy towards others, and at the same time feel joy for what you have.  It is not selfish.

What is selfish, is seeing others in unfortunate circumstance and not using it as a reminder to wake us up and appreciate how much luxury we have in our everyday life.

It’s not arrogant to appreciate how good we have it.  It’s humbling to see that we already have so much abundance.  It’s humbling to see that our lives already have so much good.

It doesn’t mean you’ll stop trying.

When you feel good, you want to do more good.  You treat people better.  You show up as a better person.  You actually do things that benefit the world.

It doesn’t have to come from feeling bad.

BADASS BABE PODCAST #2: Making (and breaking) the rules

What you will learn:

How to find the negative beliefs that are ruling over your life.

How I went from needy and out-of-control, to finding sanity.

There’s nothing wrong with you, you just need to change your thinking.

Listen:

Transcript:
Hey everyone!  Welcome to podcast #2, and this is all about rules.  What rules we have in our life, how they’re affecting our life experience, and how to work on changing them to have a better life.

I’m just going to dive right in because this is such an important concept, and it’s really exciting how much possibilities it can open up for big change in your life.

Ok. So according to the online dictionary, a rule is: A principle or regulation that governs conduct, action, procedure, etc.

Notice it doesn’t say that a rule is the truth.  Or that a rule is a definite reality.  It is simply a regulation of conduct.  It is something that we believe in, and choose to follow.

So when I’m talking here about “rules”, I’m talking our own personal rules.  The rules we keep in our head — those often unspoken but expected and unquestioned beliefs that we have about ourselves and what happens around us.  These beliefs have become so much the norm for us that we probably aren’t even fully aware that we have them — it’s become the way we have come to normally think.

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Badass is more than just a style

I’m busting the myth of what it’s truly like to be a badass.

It’s not just fierce outfits and cars and swagger.  That is a style.

A woman could be wearing the hottest clothes in a happening city, strutting with a “you can’t mess with me” attitude…  and then she discovers there’s a 20 minute wait at her favorite restaurant.  Suddenly she’s arguing.  She’s pouting.  She’s complaining that she’s “literally starving”.  She sulks at the table when she’s finally seated.  She feels insulted because she’s a regular and expects special treatment.  Her night is now ruined.

Not very badass.

To be a true badass inside AND out, you need to strengthen your mind to strengthen your character.

I’ve worked in bars and restaurants for over a decade, and I’ve seen big men in dapper suits and perfect grey hair get whiny about the temperature of the air conditioner.   I’ve seen people wearing ‘om’ necklaces and tank tops with peace-signs start arguments over the tiniest things.  I’ve seen the most confidence-exuding people stroll through a bar and then get offended when the bartender is too busy to tend to them right away.

We cannot be fooled.

You cannot mask immaturity with a suit.  You cannot mask unawareness with mala beads.  You cannot mask insecurity by a strut and a smug attitude.

You can’t buy strength of character.  You cannot construct it out looks alone.

It could be a physical presentation, it could be style, but for it to be real it has to be a mindset.

Strength.  Flexibility.  Self-awareness.  Humbleness.

People who truly feel secure and happy with themselves are nice to people.  Because they’re not living in fear of losing validation.

They provide their own validation.

While working, I’ve also met some of the kindest, most patient, most self-aware, and fiercely stylish people who truly can live up to the way they present themselves to the world.

They are my true inspiration.

I used to rely on the edgy clothes, the piercings, the hair, to make up for my lack of character.  But now they’re just fun accessories that make me who I am.   I had to work in order to get past my own pseudo-badass tendencies. 

I’m definitely not perfect, but I am determined to walk the path less traveled.

The extraordinary path is to strive for something real within.

That is what I’m searching for, and I love that you’re all with me.

 

Badass Babe Podcast #1: Getting to the next level of your life

What you will learn:

A new way of looking at your self-growth

Why change is a powerful form of self-love

Why so many adults stop growing

7 solid reasons to give you full permission to change

 

Listen:

Podcast Transcript:

Hey everyone!  Welcome to my first episode of my Badass Babe for Life podcast.  My name is Tracy Konane; I am a certified coach who specializes in working with unconventional and creative-minded women who are hell-bent on creating their best life without having to conform or tone themselves down.  My main focus is on teaching you how to evolve into the most badass version of yourself, so you can live with more confidence, strength, clarity, and focused energy, and live the best, truest life you can muster.

Alright, so!  I am really excited about this because we’re talking about a subject that really fires me up, one that I base all my coaching around which is: the utmost importance of changing who we are.   I use words like “growth” and “change” and “evolving” interchangeably here; essentially I’m meaning our inner self-growth.  So this is changing who we are in this stage of our lives: how we think, how we feel, what our habits and lifestyle are like, and the attitude and energy we bring to our lives.  It’s who we are for our life.

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Evolving from Monk to Ninja

5 years ago The Life Monk was borne out of emotional chaos and many drunken nights.

I was living in a brand new place with no direction in life.   In order to rediscover myself I began the blog and became a “monk” of sorts; studying personal growth and spending lots of time working on myself.

During this intense period of getting myself together, I invested in and graduated from a life coaching school that changed the way I saw the world.

I bought fresh produce for the first time in my life and started a habit of making fruit & veggie smoothies every morning.

I distanced myself from the aimless drinking buddies that I initially attached myself to and began making friends with whom I could have deep conversations with.

I stopped being needy and moody with my boyfriend and began making my self-worth my own responsibility.

I began hiking 3 times a week, impressing myself with my growing endurance.

I stopped buying cheap “fun” clothes and began to practice quality over quantity in all areas of my life.

I hired a life coach to keep my attitude on point, and my mindset bullshit-free.  I worked past my fear of putting my face on the internet.

And finally, I found the ability to go to bed without a bottle of wine for the first time in years.

I am humbled by reviewing everything I just listed.  It doesn’t feel like it now, but upon reflecting back I realize how much everything has changed.

Everything started with the belief that it was possible.

I remember standing alone overlooking Hollywood Blvd, telling myself that in a few years I would have real friends.  That I would have found a solid direction in life.  That everything would be different and feeling lost and lonely won’t last forever.

The Life Monk was an intense, amazing, uncomfortable and growth-filled handful of years.  But it no longer resonates with me.  In the true nature of transformation, it’s time to shed that skin.

There is no solid beginning and end.  I’m forever working hard on new transformations.  I want to wake up earlier.  I want to be more organized.  I want to uphold my commitments to myself.  I want to make a clean house a daily habit.  Oh and of course I want  life-transformation world domination!

But above all, I realized I’m ready to emerge from my mental monk-cave.  I spent years immersed in my own personal transformation and self-seeking, and now I’m ready to take everything to the next level and reach out and bring this all fully into the world.

I need something that kicks me out of my self-study cave.  I no longer need a monk’s solitude and studiousness to grow.    I need something that gears me into action and kicks me up and out of my comfort zone.

I decided that the next step was becoming a life “ninja”.  It’s about seeing one’s self as an obstacle assassin, someone who can flow fluidly with the punches, someone who can maneuver through life like a badass, beautifully.

We spend so much time trying to manipulate things, control things, shape things that are ultimately outside of our control.

The only thing we have control over is doing our best, and creating ourselves for our lives… instead of the other way around of creating our lives for ourselves.  And interestingly enough, once we start to create ourselves, our outer lives will follow.

So thus I am bringing The Life Monk era to an official close.

It feels a little odd, uncomfortable, and intimidating, which means it’s great for growth.

But all growth begins with the belief that it is possible.

What era are you in for your own life?  Do you need to end a chapter and begin a new one?

Giving these eras a name, a new identity, will help solidify and direct the new transition.

What could happen in 5 more years?

Thus it begins….

What’cha thinking about?

I remember being very shy, on a date with a guy who — at the time — seemed to have an impressive life.  We were driving in his truck, and I was just “enjoying” the ride, looking out the window and not saying much.

“What’re you thinkin’ about?” He asked. “You’re so quiet.”

I was immediately angered, because I had no answer.

Or because I realized I knew the answer.

What I was thinking was that my life was so boring and uninteresting compared to his.   That I had nothing to offer.   That he would judge me if I told him about my life.  That he could see right through my cool nonchalance to the nervous young woman who was really out of her comfort zone in this ultra-airconditioned little cabin of spearmint breath and stale smoke.

And most of all, I was kicking myself for being so bad with disguising my insecurities that he had to pop the dreaded question stereotypically reserved by girlfriends for catatonic dudes.

“Just chillin'” I said casually, hoping I wasn’t seeping any anger.

Anger at whom?  Him?  Myself?

Suddenly I realized I was angry because of my thoughts.  We were hanging out on a car ride.  He was just trying to make conversation and may secretly be feeling just as awkward as I was.  Nothing was terrible except for what was going on in my head.

Reality was slowly coming back into my perception.  This was just some guy I was getting to know.  I didn’t have to impress him.  I didn’t have to try so hard.  I could actually truly be “just chillin'” if I decided to get go of those thoughts.

Suddenly I realized wasn’t angry anymore.  I was no longer trying to hide it, it had just vanished.  I felt much more present and much less judgemental of him and myself.

While I didn’t turn into the charismatic cool chick of my dreams, I wasn’t ruining my time with my own thoughts, and I was squarely back in sanity.

Ever since then I’ve used that question as my own reality-check.

I often catch myself being wrapped up in bouts of unnecessary upset.

I could appear to be quietly having some tea, while on the inside having the most aggressive downward spiral in my head.

Or I would be irritated while getting ready to go to a party.  Or I’d be distracted while doing something I’m supposed to be interested in.

“What are you thinking?!”I’d ask myself with varying degrees of intensity depending on the situation.

I find that I’m usually immersed in imaginary scenarios that aren’t happening (and usually never do).  Or I’m dropping all my judgements onto someone else, of which is ultimately none of my business.  Or I’m thinking pitiful things about myself that I would never think to say to a friend or loved one.

I look at all these thoughts and then say, “Well, there you go.  That is why you’re feeling this.”  In reality I’m just having tea or getting dressed.

So in the moments of self-disrupted peace: what are you thinking about?

Facing what’s going on beneath the surface changes the whole experience.  Once you know what your thinking looks like, you then have a choice if you want to keep thinking that, or focus on something else, or just let it go and be.

When something doesn’t go as planned

I just returned from a much needed Las Vegas weekend from heaven.  I was staying at a beautiful hotel on the strip with my boyfriend and watched my favorite band Rammstein’s epic performance go up in flames (in the best of ways).  It was a long holiday weekend and spirits were high.

I was quietly excited for our final night.  I had it all planned — the outfit, the outdoor bar, the fireworks show at 9.  I was so proud of my wishy-washy self for actually stepping up and choosing these little details.  It was going to be the perfect ending to a most awesome weekend.

It’s 6pm and I’m freshly showered and putting on a dress, which is a pretty big deal for me.

Then something unexpected unfolds.  Nothing necessarily “bad”, but by 7pm I’m realizing there’s a chance that my plans might not be happening.

It’s 7:19 and I’m in denial.

By 8pm I’m changing back into my pajamas, sitting alone at the hotel room desk overlooking the gaudy lights and the little twinkles stretching into the dark desert expanse.

I felt disappointment.  I felt upset at my disappointment.  I felt it was unfair.  I felt selfish for feeling that way.  I felt it should be ok, but it didn’t feel ok.

I also knew that according to the Art of Self-Creation, I was creating this feeling, this emotional experience.

I knew that I was arguing with reality and creating an unhappy experience.

“Ok, what am I really working with here,” I asked myself aloud in reluctant monotone. “What’s the truth?”

I let my mind narrow in on the raw facts of the situation instead of the emotional stories I was telling myself about the facts. “The true reality is that I’m on my own tonight.  I’m here in Vegas.  I’m in a hotel room.”

For a moment I looked around without my thoughts clouding my vision for the first time.  There was the soft hum of the AC.  My feet cushy within my slippers.  Twinkling outside.  It was nice-ish.

“That’s what I’ve got to work with,” I told my reflection in the window. “This is what I’m working with here.  This the canvas I’m creating upon. And I’ve been painting it with stories of disappointment.  That is why I’m unhappy.  Not because of the canvas.”

“Is this the experience I want to have right now?” I asked. “To sit here on my last night feeling upset and disappointed?”

I looked at the lights outside.  I looked at the beautiful hotel room I was sitting in.  “No.” I decided.

“What kind of experience would I rather create?” I asked.

I admitted that I would rather feel good about tonight.  I wanted to feel at peace, appreciative, maybe even happy. That’s what I wanted to create upon my canvas of reality.

“Ok, what is within my power that may help create that?”  Now the creative juices were flowing instead of the unproductive whirlpool of woe-is-me.

I could put my dress back on and carry out my plans on my own.  I could go down to the casino and use our free drink credits and get a nice buzz going.  I could walk around with the happy people on the strip.  I could stay here in the room and enjoy the peace and read and relax.

I carefully considered all of these.  Perhaps even a mixture of them.  What did I really want?

I realized that what would feel the most happy, peaceful, and appreciative would be to not be hungover during the drive home tomorrow.  To not spend money needlessly.  To not come back smelling like sweat and cigarettes.  To not have guilt for brewing a pot o’ drama.  To just enjoy what is, and see that it can be peaceful and ok.

It’s nice to sit here.  It’s nice to read.  It’s nice to enjoy simply being here in the middle of this ridiculously glitzy city.

“Yeah but it’s your last night here and you’re supposed to be out there…!” squeaked a little persistent thought in my brain, and I started to feel the it-shouldn’t-be-this-way disappointment wash back up.  I realized I was creating my old sad experience again.  I was losing my personal power.

“Yes, it’s my last night here and I don’t want to spend it feeling upset about things I have no control over!” I decided with conviction.

I was back to focusing on what was within my realm of power.

My old thoughts made attempt to pipe up a bit more over the next few hours, but softened as I focused on relaxing and appreciating.

Admittedly, I didn’t ever get to the feeling of 100% peace that night, but I felt so much better than the mental arguing I was doing prior.

I stopped arguing with what I couldn’t control, and I worked with what I had power over.

I created a better experience.  And I was so thankful for my power to do that.

 

Work with what you’ve got!

  1. See what you’re truly working with.  What is the bare-bones undisputable reality, without emotional attachments & judgements?  That’s the canvas you create upon.
  2.  What are you currently creating with your thoughts?  Is this the experience you want to create for yourself right now?
  3. If not, what kind of experience DO you want?
  4. Stop focusing on what you don’t have control over and recognize what you do have power over.  Focus on those possibilities instead of the “shoulds” that argue with reality.
  5. Begin creating something better.  Don’t force it.  It’s like art, like creativity.  Let it flow when it does, and dabble and experiment when it doesn’t.
  6. Find appreciation for what is.  Don’t strive for perfection, just a better experience.  Adjust accordingly.  Appreciate your power to do that!

 

A lot of unexpected things have happened this year, from perplexing health issues to car surprises good and bad, to travel misplans. This is the basic formula I’ve been using to work through all these things knowing that I’m giving it AND myself the best I can. ❤

Change the way you feel by telling a new story

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Right now at this exact moment, there’s a subconscious story you’re constantly telling yourself about your life.

If you’re like me, you once were telling yourself how accomplished and cool you are now that you have your license and are cruising around in your very own car!  You felt proud and excited with that story running through your head.

But by now that story has faded into the background and has been replaced with new stories.  Maybe now it’s about how dirty and old your car is, and that story subconsciously makes you feel unsuccessful every time you get in it.  Or maybe it’s how much you love your car, and that makes you feel appreciation and enjoyment.  It’s not a literal story you spell out every time you see your car, it’s simply something that lines the back of our minds and makes us feel a certain way when triggered by something.

This week it’s about remembering that it’s not the car (the circumstance) that is making us feel anything — it’s the story we’re telling ourselves about it.

It’s that way with everything in life.   Even the most self-aware of us always get mentally trapped by stories we tell ourselves.

This week is about telling a new story.

There’s probably a particularly painful story you’ve been telling yourself about something.  Maybe it’s something in the past, currently happening now, or something we are anticipating.

If it’s in the past, that thing is no longer hurting us directly.  It’s our story about that event that is causing pain in the present.

If it’s future-oriented, we are already projecting a story onto something that isn’t actually happening yet.

If we are telling ourselves a painful story about our current situation, we will suffer through our present moment.

Why spend our precious life telling ourselves stories that make us feel bad?

This is a reminder to us all that we don’t have to suffer so much if we choose not to.

This day, this week, all has a story attached to it that is running through the background of our minds.

The first step is to identify the story that is causing us the negative feelings.  What genre would it be classified as: Tear-jerker? Horror? Drama? What is it that you’re telling yourself about something or someone?

The second is to realize that when this story is played in your mind you feel a certain way; just like when you read or watch a story, it affects you!

The third step is to decide whether we want to keep feeling this way.  If not, then we either decide to lay off that story for a bit, or telling ourselves a new story.

Choose to try out a new genre.  Perhaps action, romance, comedy, or inspiration?

Instead of telling a story of sadness and victimhood, see if you can find one that is about picking up the pieces and having hope and resilience.  Instead of the angry story, see if you can find the version that is forgiving or empowering or consciously choosing to let it go for the time being?  Or instead of telling ourselves an aggravating story about whatever it is we know we must do, find one that feels more peaceful, vibrant, purposeful — or whatever feeling it is you want to feel!

It’s about realizing that everything we feel is because there’s some story we’re telling.

This week we can choose to tell a new story, rewrite old ones, or discard them completely.

Alright guys, go out there and tell yourself something worth feeling!

How to enjoy the hustle

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We often assume that once we “make it” — get to that place, achieve that thing, find that person — that everything else will magically fall into place for us.

The truth is that when many people finally reach that high point in their lives, they are surprised to discover that they’re not as elated and floating through the clouds with beacons of sunlight streaming through their hair, as they thought they’d be.  They learn that with higher accomplishments come a new set of problems to be overcome, risks to be reckoned with, and new comfort zones to be overstepped.

If they had not taken the time to learn to be happier while they were rising up (and yes, happiness can be learned) they inevitably find that their success didn’t automatically change them into a happier person.  Success was not a cure all.  In fact, it highlighted all the weaknesses they always struggled with, but now the stakes were much higher, and as a result they were just as stressed as they were while they were trying to get there.

Here’s the mind blowing thing that I’ve discovered:  Underneath it all, what we really want, isn’t just success — it’s the feeling we think we’re going to have once we get it.

All we’re really after, is a feeling.

No matter what your picture of personal success looks like, you probably want some version of a few of these feelings:

Fulfilled, worthy, excited, accomplished, confident, proud, amazed, impressed, joyous, free, productive, and in love.

That’s what we really want.

Here’s a hypothetical:  What if I told you that you could have everything you ever dreamed of — both material-wise and accomplishments — but you could not have any of those feelings that I listed, and in fact you’d just be feeling dull and troubled most of the time?

Most people wouldn’t see in the point.

What’s the point in having everything if you don’t get to feel good?

Just to clarify — I’m not telling you to give up on your dreams and just learn to be happy with what is.

What I’m 100% saying is to go for your dreams as hard as you can, while learning to be happy and feeling good with what already is.

Yes, we can definitely do both!

So how can we be feeling good about our current place when we also know that we have bigger hopes and dreams for ourselves?

“How can I be working hard, busting my ass, overcoming obstacles, getting out of my comfort zone, taking risks, facing uncertainty… while feeling good about it?”

While there are many approaches to this, one that I’ve recently taken a liking to and been putting into practice is something I call The Afterglow.

We are all so driven by visions of Our Big Glory — getting that starring role, seeing big numbers in our bank account, having an endless wait list of high-profile clientele, seeing that big project become a success, and basically arriving at the point in our lives where we imagine everything will feel great and fulfilling and easy.

In contrast, the afterglow isn’t that big glorious moment where all of our dreams have come true; instead it’s small glorious moments that come after we do something that was worth doing for ourselves.

It’s that happy buzz and energy boost we get after physical exercise.  It’s the gratitude, joy, and excitement we get after we accomplish something that points us in the direction we’re trying to go.  It’s the adrenaline that courses through us when we overcame our fears and did that thing we know we needed to do.  It’s the relief and peace that comes from finally doing something right and well.  It’s the quiet satisfaction from knowing that we didn’t listen to our fears and bad habits, and instead buckled down and practiced discipline and being true to the work we know we need to do.

These variants of joy can come from doing something seemingly mundane as cleaning up the house and basking in the aesthetic calm, to finally doing that intimidating thing you’ve been worrying about and preparing for, for months.

These moments of feeling good after doing something true to our path, is the afterglow.

The problem is that we often quickly brush it aside, because we start to compare it to our vision of Big Glory and think about how far we are from it.  We don’t want to feel too good about our little accomplishments now, because it’s not our ultimate success.

But why?

I think we should allow ourselves to bask in the pleasure of our “little” accomplishments, because it is much deserved, and we’re growing and doing something good for ourselves, and we mustn’t write that off.

Allowing ourselves to enjoy the moment after a good work-out or finishing a difficult task is a beautiful and powerful thing, because it builds motivation and momentum for the future.  Plus, we get to enjoy the present moment!  And that’s all we really ever want.

So I’ve been allowing myself to notice and bask in the afterglow of whatever task I do in my daily work towards the big glory.  I focus on what I have, rather than what-isn’t-yet.  This little shift in focus make an enormous difference in the way I get to feel about myself and my work.

The majority of self-creation coaching is about how we are choosing to focus.  Sometimes the tiniest of tweaks can make the difference between feelings of lack and feelings of accomplishment.

Feel good now!  Continually choosing to fully feel the afterglow will undoubtedly lead to bigger and bigger glories.

Redefining Success

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This week I invite you to think about how you’re measuring yourself: what is your definition of success and how is it affecting you?

As driven creatives, we have a lot to compare ourselves to in terms of how we feel about our work in the world, and how we feel about ourselves.  It’s so easy to look at what other people are doing and get very distracted from our own work.  With a single glance at social media, we suddenly start believing we’re not far enough along, our work isn’t good enough, nobody cares, we’re wasting our time, we should be more successful, what we do doesn’t matter, and so on.

The scary part about this is that we start thinking that we’re just being real with ourselves.  We think that it’s necessary to not sugar-coat reality when we see others who are already living their dreams.

And it’s true (as I was saying in last week’s post), that it is so important to get real, face reality, and admit the stuff we need to change.  So yes, it’s very important to admit the things we could be better at, and that we have the power to change our habits if we wish.

BUT.  Getting real also means realizing that how we think and feel about ourselves, directly affects our work in the world.  From our attitude, to our creative output, to our entire experience of life.

Getting real is also being honest about HOW you’re measuring your level of success — which is really such an individual thing to be defined — and how it is affecting your work.

When you’re judging yourself with a socially defined idea of success, and you don’t feel you measure up, you are using a very unreliable tool to measure with.

Society is obsessed about the End Product.  We love “overnight success” stories, rags-to-riches tales, and looking at lifestyles of the rich and the famous.  We’d rather look at the beautiful houses and luxuries of successful people, than pictures of them when they were living in a tiny apartment with 5 roommates and struggling through the first two decades.  We’d rather admire them as who they are now, rather than who they started off as and all the different personal-growth stages they had to evolve through to realize their current level of achievement.

All the hard-work, the long hours, the let downs and self-doubt, the public transportation, the multiple day jobs, the dissatisfaction and patience and putting in the work even when you feel like crap — that’s not highlighted because that’s not very “sexy”.

But I think it’s sexy.

There’s something very appealing about someone who is working towards what they believe in, no matter what it is… and being faced with set-backs and difficulties, and they’re still hustling and dreaming and doing the work through whatever chaos life throws at them.

So let’s create a new perspective.  

When you measure and define your success as: how true you’re being to yourself, how hard you’re working, and if you’re bringing your best possible self to the world; then that creates a much different vibe than if you’re looking for all the external validations as measure of your worth.

We can see ourselves as rags that aren’t making the riches.  Or.  We can see ourselves in the middle of our rags-to-riches journey.  We’re just in that middle stage, and we’re grinding and growing and hustling and learning.

And that should be our measure of success.  Because we’re doing it.  We’re working on making it happen.

Our goal should be going to bed each night and being able to say, “I DID it today.  I worked on my dreams and I’m bringing myself on this journey no matter what.  I’m DOING it.”

And that is what everyday success looks like.  When you know you’re living your truth and doing what you, personally, know you gotta do.

So it’s about paying attention to where we’re putting our focus, and allowing ourselves to define success as a measure of our daily hustle, rather than that glamorized end-product.

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Monday Briefing: Doing something different

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This week is about facing reality.

Not about thinking how it’s someone else’s fault.  Not about the same sad stories.  Not about the easiest, most numbed and painless way to get through the day.

It’s not about doing the same old things and ending up in the exact same unsatisfied place you’ve ended up every single week.

This week is about doing something different.

It’s about looking at the truth — the reality of what you really want — and then looking at what hasn’t been working.

This isn’t about getting down and angry at ourselves, but about simply being curious, open, and honest.

 

It’s simply looking… and noticing:

My fear of what that certain-somebody might think, is the biggest thing holding me back.

I keep saying I want to do more but by at the end of the night, getting buzzed takes priority over the precious free hours I have.

I spend more time digging into other people’s lives and comparing myself to them, when I should be working on my own goals.

I am tired of feeling helpless by blaming others when I know I need to start taking responsibility for my own life.

I want to stop feeling victimized by something that has already passed, and start creating new opportunities for myself.

It’s not that I really don’t have the time.  If I watched less TV, I could be much further along.

I’m tired of feeling impatient and negative all the time; I want to start practicing more gratitude for what already is and feeling positive and good again.

 

Just choose something that’s gnawing at you, and fully admit that you do have a desire to change.  That you’re tired of the same pattern, the same fear, the same thought loops.

Again, this is just about being open, curious, and honest.

Just see what isn’t working — what you could make a change for yourself, if you choose to do so.  If you chose to take full responsibility for the kind of experience you are having.

Write it down.  I know it seems like overkill, but putting this down visually in front of you, tangibly and unmistakably, is a powerful thing.

Now read it, hold it, and know that you have the power to switch this up if you really, really wanted to.

Know that you have the power to change up any of these seemingly daunting and uncharacteristic things: if you really wanted to.

We all have this great power, but it’s so easy to forget in the craze of life.

So this is just a little reminder.

Facing your reality is remembering that you have full creative power over your experience.

Everything you do — even if it’s a deeply ingrained habit you’ve had since you were 5 years old — can be changed up the way you want it, IF you care enough.  If you want it bad enough.  If you want to eventually have a new, better experience of your life.

Again, this is simply looking.  Realizing, writing it down, and looking.  You don’t even have to change anything yet.

Just hold it in your hand and realize how much power you have over your life.

You are not stuck if you can do this.

Simply look at your reality.

Now go forth and hold that power with you this week.

 

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Monday Briefing: The platform for your empire

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Where is your focus?  How do you want to feel?

Most people never ask these questions.  They just start grinding away without first getting their mind straight, and then wonder why they’re already stressed out and it’s only Monday.

If you want the driven, vivid, creative-life, you’re going to have to see yourself as the master — you are the artist, the director, creator.  Passive auto-pilot is not an option if you want to achieve those dreams your way.

If you don’t get your mindset straight at least once a day, you will be susceptible to getting thrown off course by mediocre things, and next thing you know you are flailing around feeling down and unmotivated.

This week is in your hands.

It’s about turning off the auto-pilot and getting behind the driver’s seat.

It’s about taking a few minutes to focus and get very clear about what it is you’re trying to do here.

You need to tell your brain exactly what it needs to focus on and look for.

Are you going to tell it stories about how sad everything is?  Then that is what your brain is going to look for as soon as you get out of bed, and the next thing you know you are feeling utterly misanthropic before you even leave the house.

Or are you going to tell your brain stories about how much good has happened so far, and how much good there is to be had right now?  Suddenly you’ll start seeing all the good surrounding you, all the possibilities will become apparent, your creativity will kick in and you’ll slowly be building a solid and higher platform to launch your week from.

It’s about taking one thing at a time, individually, instead of looking at it as a whole and getting intimidated.

Where do you want to put your focus?  How do you want to feel?

Don’t underestimate these seemingly simple questions.  The moment you stop managing your focus and slip back into an auto-pilot of looking for all-that’s-not-happening-yet, you will be destroying the platform you built and begin digging yourself a self-pity hole.

So keep asking.

The moment you start to feel ‘blah’, ask yourself where you want to put your focus right now.  Take it one moment at a time.  Start consciously focusing on something better, and slowly rebuild that platform.

Remember, your empire is built little by little each day, even though you may not feel like you see it yet.

You are the master, the director, the one who’s going to make it all happen or not.

Stop digging a hole and start building that platform.

It’s all where you put your focus.

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How to make something more enjoyable?

“Why do some people have fun in certain situations that I myself don’t enjoy?”

This was the biggest (and in retrospect, best) question I had while I was growing up.

“Who wants to demonstrate the new dance?” my hula teacher would ask our seated class.  “ME!!” a blonde head jumped up and immediately began dancing, mostly incorrectly, without even waiting for the music prompt.  Heather.  Always Heather, while the rest of us would shift uncomfortably.

“Who wants to dance with Heather?  Anyone else?” the teacher’s eyes would be scanning for the most timid of us.  I tried to blend in with the floor, praying to not be called upon.  “I do!” a little voice piped up from across the room, and I exhaled with gratitude and sat upon my clammy hands.

I watched them dance while having the time of their lives (or at least Heather was), and I wondered was so different.

We were all 8 years old.  We all had the same lessons.  We all were fine dancing as a group.

Why was I suffering in cold sweat at the prospect of being singled out, while Heather was having so much fun, and her partner didn’t mind either way?

She must be thinking something different… I realized.  She must be thinking that performing is fun, or that she’s a great dancer….

While I also liked performing and believed I knew the moves well enough, I realized that I had different thoughts:  Making a mistake in front of everyone is bad.  They will be judging me.  I’ll look stupid.  I’m not good enough.

So maybe… it’s not only that she’s thinking different things, but she’s also NOT thinking certain things.

This gave me the hope that if I could just ‘borrow’ some of her thinking, I could have a better experience.  It made me hypothesize that it wasn’t that something was wrong with me, it was just the way I was thinking about the situation.

In other areas of my life when I was less than happy, I would observe the kids who were still having a good time.  Then if I was in the right state of mind, I would start to pretend I was more like the person who was having fun.  Sometimes I needed to imagine myself as them in order to come up with the thoughts I presumed they were thinking.  I would practice thinking them for myself, and I would notice subtle yet immediate changes in my attitude.

It wasn’t cure-all magic, and of course it didn’t always work the way I wanted, but it was very eye-opening for me.

I applied this “trick” throughout my youth, and it did help!  It helped calm my nerves and work myself up to genuine excitement when going on huge roller-coasters for the first time during a class trip.  It helped me with basketball.  It helped me come out of my shell socially. It helped me bounce back from mistakes and not get too down when things weren’t working so well.   It helped me understand and connect better with other people, and gave me insight as to why we can seemingly be so different in different situations.

It also gave me the guts to end up in some crazy situations and make some big mistakes.

In short, it spiced up my life, my self-growth, and the way that I experienced everything.

The scary thing is that I noticed it is harder to practice new thoughts the older I get.  As a kid, it seemed like I could do it so quickly — just suspend my disbelief and try on some new thinking!  But the good news is that the more I practice, the more adaptive my brain will be.  Neuroplasticity!

So what this all means for me is that there’s always hope.  If there’s someone else in my current situation who is having a better experience than I am, then there must be a different way to think and feel.  And if I don’t physically have anyone to inspire me, I can imagine that someone somewhere in the 7 billion of us, would be in my situation and be enthralled.

What would she be thinking?

How could I think more like her?brainbrain

Create what you’ve been searching for forever

The fact that you can’t seem to find it is the biggest sign that you’ve hit upon something valuable.

We’re always searching for that person to look up to, the one to inspire us and open our eyes to beautiful new hope and ideas in the world.  Someone daring, ingenious, intellectual, optimistic and refreshingly different?

What if you’re meant to be that person?  Be that change?  Do or create that thing?

What if everything you’ve experienced and are still overcoming every day was the only way you’d be conditioned and grown enough to begin to produce this thing?

This is what your current life has been leading up to: a culmination of that thing, that essence, that expression, that you’ve been craving and looking for.  That marriage of multiple inspirations, a hybrid of philosophies, many personas all rolled into one.

Everything can be used to create yourself.  I just have to harness it, ride it, and not get it confused with ‘just’ the mundane.  Create devotedly from the inside-out, and soon everything will change.

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“For years I am and always have been looking out for girls to idealize because they are things to look up to, because they are perfect,” she wrote in her diary. But since she had never discovered “that girl or that woman,” she announced, “I shall be that girl.” — Diana Vreeland

No one’s forcing you to do this

But what if they were?

What if a mob boss gave you an ultimatum: grow into a better version of yourself, stop making excuses, and make something happen in one year’s time…or else.  Prison.   You owe $500,000.  Someone dies.  Something awful.

He implants a monitoring device with a timer into your skull.

“I’ll see ya in exactly a year.  When I get back, things better be very different.”

Priorities would change.

You’d stop wasting time.  You’d find the money.  You’d ditch the excuses.  You’d drop the people holding you back.

You’d clean up your act.  You’d change your bad habits.  You’d work, work, and work.  You’d stop listening to naysayers.

You’d adapt.  You’d learn.  You’d make mistakes and try again.  You’d keep going.  You’d figure it out.

You’d find a way.

In a year, something would’ve happened –and you’d be more of your ultimate self than you ever imagined  — you’d be sure of it.

The mob boss did nothing but light a solid, unshakable purpose under your arse.  You did it all on your own.

We all have such a capacity, and what if we actually used it?

Wouldn’t we much rather be forced by our dreams than by our fears?  I don’t need the mob boss; I’d much rather work on disciplining myself to be ultra-focused and solid-purposed every day all on my own.

No one’s forcing you, but what if you were?

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“Stubborn & Never Listens”

Take a stubborn person who never listens to new ideas, optimism, or responsibilities, and you’ll have a selfish bore who believes to be a victim of everything that’s wrong with the world.

Take a stubborn person who never listens to outdated thinking, cynicism, or excuses, and you’ll have a creative mind who believes in potential and everything that’s right with the world.

Creative rebels aren’t bad people, they just refuse to follow dumb rules.

They like to see a point in doing something.

They put their rebellious natures to work, to create more of what they want in life.

They need their stubbornness to cut through the dense cacophony of close-minded opinions, while having the unique ability to hear the noise while refusing to tune-in to frequencies that don’t help them.

Many of our lifelong ‘faults’ can turn into highly coveted abilities as aware adults, and often they’re exactly what we need to move ourselves forward.

In repentance for all the grief I’ve caused my parents as The Hardheaded One, I vow in adulthood to use my annoying powers for good.

If you were that irritating kid that repeatedly asked ‘why’, or became extra driven to figure something out when surrounded with doubters; then I want to remind you that in case you lost a bit of that, perhaps it’s time to bring it back.

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The creative family cultivates growth

They encourage mistakes because it means you’re exploring life instead of just playing it safe.

They laugh at the idea of failure, listen with intensity to your goals, and prod you when they know you’ve wallowed in self-pity for long enough.

When you’re hurting and they tell you everything’s ok and it will all eventually get better, you believe them because you know they’ve been there in the same dark trenches many times in their lives, and know that type of pain well.

Their quiet hugs feel like unquestionable acceptance and understanding, rather than smothering or obligatory.

When you’re with them, you feel pressured to live up to their level of unpretentious uniqueness, rather than to dumb yourself down.

They celebrate the wonder and intrigue of knowing that no two people are ever alike.

Instead of asking how things are going, they ask what you’ve discovered.  Instead of asking “how much longer”, they ask you how you could be even better.  Instead of telling you about someone else’s journey, they tell you not to worry about anyone else’s journey.

They don’t shy away from cultural, age, or interest gaps; they take a great interest in seeking the true person beneath the social labels.

crystalflouriteThey don’t just create things, they create moments of inner fertilization.

Creative families can be biological or social.  They can be physically close, or a face on a screen, text on a page.  They can be someone you’ve known your whole life, or someone whom you haven’t met yet.  They can be someone who’s passed away, or someone who just blinked into existence.  They can be real and solid, or a figment of imagination.  They can be a combination of everything.

Creative families cultivate growth.

What’s important is just knowing that they’re there.  If not physically with you, then in your head and heart.  Write down their words.  Have thoughtful discussions with them.  Keep them as close to you as possible.  Allow their presence and words to carry you through whatever life may bring.

Knowing about yourself vs Self Knowledge

selfknowledgebirdwebcolorYou can look inside a grand piano and comprehend that pressing a key will make a hammer hit a wire and a sound will come out; or understand that the page with the little dots on the lines indicate when to press which key and for now long —  but that doesn’t mean that you can sit down and delicately pound out Scriabin’s Etude Op.8 No. 12.

The person who has read every book and watched every movie about kung fu will still be a complete novice when compared to the master who has painstakingly trained his body for decades, who has practiced the stances and moves until they were integrated into his muscular system, and has fully lived the experience of learning to do what once seemed impossible.

Just knowing about something isn’t enough.

 

Knowing is passive.  Knowledge is active.

Knowledge requires effort.  Practice.

Knowledge is earned.

 

Why do so few people reach their highest potential?  Because it takes hard work.

I can read every self-growth book and know everything about myself, but if I’m not putting in the attention and effort of taking what I know and actually practicing and learning from it — I don’t have self-knowledge.   I haven’t earned it.   I could know what is needed to burst through my limitations and grow further than ever before, but if I’m not doing the work of putting it into practice, it won’t happen.

It takes admitting what I need work on, then actually working on it.  The very idea.

It takes responsibility instead of blaming.

It’s being 100% in charge of how far I go in life, and how happy and fulfilled I am.

It takes being open to new ideas, viewpoints, and possibilities.

That all takes guts.

Self-knowledge is self-mastery, and mastery needs to be earned.

Feed your soul with your mind

Souls don’t get damaged by the world.
They become that way from our thoughts.

This is why two people can endure the same challenging circumstance, but one wilts and withers, while the other pulls through and thrives.

One was thinking thoughts of victimhood and spinning tragic stories, while the other had thoughts of growth and harbored hopeful stories.

It’s not that one person has a stronger, better “soul” than the other.

The state of our soul, our heart, our mojo, our energy, is completely linked to what kind of thoughts we’re keeping in our heads.

No one can crush your soul unless your thoughts allow it.

Luckily souls are resilient things and can bounce back into shape once it is fed more fulfilling, nutritious thoughts.

Ween your soul off the mental junk-food scraps you’ve been throwing it, practice high-quality, nutritious thinking instead, and watch yourself come back to life.

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The Creative Life = No Excuses

 

Fear wants us to think we’re stuck, that the odds are against us, and obviously we aren’t and never have been good enough.  Fear wants us to think there’s no other way to fully enjoy life but to renounce our dreams and succumb to the ‘shoulds’ of society.

But here’s the secret:  Our creativity is actually the best maneuver against fear.

I say maneuver — and not weapon or antidote– because we’re not fighting or curing fear.  (Trying to do so makes us crazy & delusional). We’re working with it, and around it, and through it.

If knowledge is power, then creativity is energy.  We cannot get by on just facts and ideas alone: we need the ingenuity to work these things into our lives.  Together they create new possibilities and amazing growth.

This is the power of creativity.  To pull through things — whatever life gives us — and keep our wits and heart about us.

For us to run into adversity and claim that we’re stuck, a failure, or ruined, would be a underestimation of our human capacity.  We are specifically designed to be able to figure things out and create anew for ourselves.  We are meant to be able to grow and innovate from whatever our current situation may be.

There are new ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and being that will create a whole new life for us — if we really want to work at it.    We can always find the growth within the circumstance; the possibilities from any position.

And just like any art form, living life in this creative way takes practice and awareness.

Love your life, just like you love your craft.

Take to it every day, and look at it from new perspectives and be willing to take on new ideas.  Want to get to know yourself instead of just suppressing or ignoring.   Get to know the artist and creator of your life.

Use your creativity for growth.

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The “Ride or Die” Life

Your hunch has always been right: You need to do life your way.

And yes, everything else really is bullshit.

You’ve got one life to live, and you know you want to live it to the fullest.

One major thing drives people like you and I: the fear of regret.

What drives my every move is knowing that I have one finite existence that could end at any time with one fell traffic-accident/terrorist-incident/wrong-place-wrong-time/health-surprise/natural-disaster/axe-murder swoop.

It scares the crap out of me, but I think about death every single day.  And I love it.  I enjoy thinking about it, because knowing for absolute sure that I’m going to die, makes me love my life.  I don’t bullshit myself.  I don’t lie to myself.  I don’t shun myself and prioritize other people’s expectations.

It’s all a beautiful paradoxical balance: thinking about death also involves considering the absolute amazing possibilities of this life.   This life, that is happening right now.

We already know we can’t take the material stuff with us, yet we still believe it’s what we want, and there’s nothing wrong with that — as long as we know the differentiation.

Enjoy all the things, but don’t make yourself crazy by thinking that they’re what really matter in the end.  The things are what should supplement the things that really matter.

No regrets.

And the only step to ensuring this, is getting really real about life.

The only thing we can take with us is our own personal knowing that we LIVED to our fullest potential.

Whether this means achieving things your insecure teenage self could only attempt to imagine, or if it means simply living the most beautiful life that you could muster given the circumstances you were provided — it’s entirely yours to define, and to live & die with.

Approach this responsibility with a ride or die attitude.

Meaning:  You make a commitment to live, and go all-in to the best of your ability, every day.  Even when obstacles happen.  Even if you fall.  Put your ass into the saddle and grab the reins and steer.

Or, you can recline back in the familiarity of your pumpkin chariot and bark out vague directions as you get pulled along blindly through the bumpy terrain of life, until you reach the end and crankily whine, “that’s it?!”.

We have a choice, every single moment; every single day.

Are you up there on the saddle consciously riding?  Or simply just dying.

It’s coming, no matter what.  And I personally like to do whatever I can to be sure that when it comes, I will know that I spent my precious time alive, experiencing the answers to all my questions — big and small.

It’s not morbid.  It’s being real.  If you want life, you need to face and embrace death.  Allow the truth of it to make you love your life even more.

If you’re still alive, you’re still on the ride.

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4 steps to stop morning negativity

Mornings play a major role in setting the tone for the day.

When I wake up hating life, I ruin things for myself.  I wait forever to get out of bed then rush through breakfast and stress-out getting to where ever I need to go.  Any little obstacle or annoyance feels like the entire universe trying to sabotage me, and I work myself deeper and deeper into a funk, which constantly reconfirms that my life does suck.

Then the next day I’d wake up and be fine, but perhaps disappointed about how I acted the day before.

I’ve discovered is that it is possible to stop grumpiness in it’s tracks!

Dreams and mental disorientation due to waking can cause our minds to go off on thought tangents that don’t help us start our day right.  And this is when we can step in and consciously guide it back to where it needs to be.

Here’s what I practice:

1. Get rid of dream residue.
Sometimes a bad mood may arise from bad dreams.  If there are still weird feelings afloat due to a dream, it’s very worth it to take the time to sort through it.  Either spend some quiet moments lying in bed coming to terms with it, or start working on shaking it off.

If the negative feelings involve a particular person or situation from the dream, consciously separate the dream from reality.  .

2. Find the story.
I used to think that I just wake up and feel a certain way, and have no control over it.  But now I know how it works: I’m actually telling a story in my mind about my life.

It may be difficult to hear it clearly when just waking up, but listen to what your mind is saying to you.  It’s telling you a story.

My story often goes like this:  “I didn’t get enough sleep.  I’m going to be tired all day.  I don’t want to run errands.  People are going to be so annoying.  Why am I not further along yet?  I’ve just been wasting my time.  I don’t want to get up.  This sucks.  I should’ve gotten more sleep.  My life isn’t going anywhere.  This is bad”.

These are just thoughts, but they are exactly what’s causing my feelings.  If I woke up and had a clear mind that wasn’t telling me a negative story, I wouldn’t feel negative.It’s not feeling tired or having to work that is causing my bad mood, it’s the story that I’m telling myself about it that is triggering me.

3. Retell the story.
Once I realize I’m telling myself a constant horrible commentary about my life, I choose to retell the stories.

I might feel tired, but telling myself that I didn’t get enough sleep will only start me down a woe-is-me story plot.  Instead, I can choose to think “I’m sleepy, but I’m still waking up.  I just need some time to get warmed up”.

Often just that will help come up with better stories.  “It’s a really nice day.  Errands will be fine, I’ll be fine once I get up and moving.  I’m pursuing what I love.  I’ll feel good once I have some tea and breakfast”.

The secret is that I really have to pay attention to catching the negative stories, and retelling them in a way that feels better and using a story that’s just as believable.

4. Just do stuff!
Sometimes I just need to stop thinking so much, and jump out of bed and start doing my morning routine.   If it’s difficult to fathom doing this while lying in bed with my sad stories, I like to imagine that I’m really late for something important.  I know from past over-sleeping mistakes that I can get my act together surprisingly fast when I really need to.

The trick is to not allow my mind to over-indulge in negative thoughts.   If I spring out of bed and immediately get dressed and washed up, my mind has no time to protest or tell stories.  And if I hear it starting to, I won’t let it.

Focus is key here.  If I focus on grumpy stories, that’s what I’ll feel.  If I focus on getting the day started with gusto, then my mind will shut up and re-focus itself.

The mind is a powerful tool, but it needs to be kept in line or else it will try to over-do its job.

These methods can be used at any time of day, whenever a funk is beginning to set in.

The wrong side of the bed is all about simply being in the wrong state of mind!

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As within, so without

While defending his empire from barbarian tribes, Marcus Aurelius wrote notes to himself about living in harmony.

It doesn’t help us to believe that hardships only bring suffering and ruin.

It’s fallacy to think ourselves powerless within our circumstance.

There is peace and acceptance and growth vibrating in the center of every storm of life .

The eye of the hurricane is always the most peaceful, while getting sucked into the swirling chaos will thrash and throw us astray.

Whatever is happening, is happening.

Whether I meet it kicking and screaming, or flowing back into the harmony of whatever is, will be my own reality to bear.

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Being my own best friend

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“I never feel lonely because I am always accompanied by a true friend — that is me.  At bedtime, I greet him, ‘Good night Ajahn Brahm, sleep well”.  When I wake up in the morning, I greet, “Good morning, me…”.  If you do that, then you will never feel lonely.”
— Ajahn Brahm

 

The road to self-growth is paved with new perceptions.

Sometimes I like to take the time to neatly fold and stack my sleep-clothes at the foot of the bed before leaving for work.  When I come home disheveled from the day and craving a hot shower, it is a sweet little surprise find my pj’s so thoughtfully left ready for me.

When I’m upset and feeling ready to instigate some drama, I try to coax myself out for a brisk walk to talk it out and get some fresh air and change of environment.  Inevitably, I always appreciate it and feel markedly better.

I’ll go to the grocery store in the middle of the night because I know I’ll be so pleased to wake up to a fully-stocked fridge.

It’s slowly escalated.

I’ve recently been finding the kitchen and bathroom surprisingly clean, and I feel lifted each time I walk in.  For the first time, my delicates have been separated into mesh bags in the laundry.  Instead of only being taken shopping, I’ve finally been taken to the dentist and chiropractor.  The fridge has been stocked with healthy food all year, when five years ago it was poptarts and Spaghettios.

And sometimes, even when waking up alone, I am greeted with a silent but cheesy “good morning”.

The beginnings of self love haven’t felt like I’ve always imagined.  I thought it would be more of an obvious feeling, an unmistakable amour that feels like heart emojis and glittering confidence.

But on the contrary.  It feels subtle yet surprisingly powerful in the way it changes things.  More what I would imagine a motherly love.

When you love someone, you take pleasure in caring for them.  Little favors here and there, kind words, truly listening and understanding.  It doesn’t feel like a chore or manipulation.  It feels like a quiet, easy, warm type of love.

And I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter if it’s coming from me, for me.  It feels just as good, or even arguably better, than if someone else is doing it for me.

It’s self trust, self reverence.

It’s a beautiful care and thoughtfulness.

For the one person you’ll always be with.

Mind Shift 001: That person who could change everything

 

thatpersonwhocouldchangeevrythingWould you be prepared?

What if by chance meeting today you encounter that person you have up on a pedestal, whom you never thought you’d meet so soon, if ever?

Someone you never imagined you’d be stuck standing in line with whilst in the middle of the most mundane errands.

They’re asking about the coffee you’re holding from the new cafe.  Time halts.  Light casual conversation ensues.  You happen to mention what you do.

They are surprisingly receptive to what you’re saying, but they’re paying for their items and are about to rush out.

“Nice meeting you too,” they say, eyeing their phone while moving towards the door.  Then they pause for a second and hurriedly half-turn back towards you. “Oh, do you have a card or something? I’d like to take a look at what you do.”

They want to see what you do.  They want your website.  Your Youtube.  Your whatever.  This once in a lifetime chance — they’re leaving.  You’ll probably never see them again.

Would you be overwhelmed by joy or be sinking with regret?

Would you be able to show them something that you know is your current best work — something that gets across everything you stand for, everything you represent?  Would you feel confidence in knowing what you give them is your highest proof at conveying everything you are, regardless if you ever heard back from them or not?

Or would your heart descend into the underworld, realizing that what you have to show them is either non-existent, sparse, low-quality, half-assed, watered-down and safe, or some other poor representation of your true brand of creative genius…and mourn that this magical serendipitous meeting could have been so much more?

Your life would have changed if they supported you in even the smallest of ways — a mere “cool stuff” comment would’ve been treasured forever — but you blew it.

You blew it because you’ve been waiting around for the ‘right’ approval first before putting your all into making your best work come to fruition.  You’ve made excuses and sat in self-doubt.  You looked at the statistics and weighed yourself against everyone else around you, and figured that it wasn’t worth trying 100% for.

Because you were so afraid to disappoint yourself, to embarrass yourself.  You were afraid to give it your all because you were afraid your all wouldn’t be enough.  That someone like them would never even want to see it.

Regardless of what happens, you will only disappoint yourself if you don’t give it your all.

If you don’t make your vision and personal genius your priority — no matter what.
If you don’t do it because you believe it’s supposed to always feel easy and breezy and beautiful.
If you don’t do it because you’re afraid of disappointment: That is the sure-fire way towards disappointment.

Don’t wait.

Don’t half-ass it and stall because nothing is happening yet.  Don’t wait for recognition or that promising nod from the universe.

If things were to start happening, would you be able to communicate that you can deliver?

You never know what could happen in a week, 6 months, a year.

Are you preparing?
Are you honoring?
Are you believing?
Are you working?

 

 

No one is more right about yourself than you

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If you think your thighs are great, it doesn’t matter if someone else thinks you look unproportioned.  Every time you look in the mirror, you’ll get to feel good about yourself.

“But what if they’re right?  What if they do make me look funny?  I don’t want to be delusional.”

There billions of people in the world, and each will have their own opinion.  Some will think your thighs are desirable, some will find them ugly, and all the in-betweens.  Many won’t have any opinion about them.

If you went back in time to another era or another culture, your body could be perceived by the majority completely opposite from what the masses currently think.   One person’s idea of fat thighs is another person’s chicken legs.

What you decide to think, you get to feel.

It would only be delusional if you were to believe that there was a right or wrong way of seeing something that is completely subjective.  Or if you were blatantly in denial about something that could be proven in court.

You cannot legally prove that your life is too hard, your habits are set in stone, your body is unattractive, or that things will never workout for you.

The truth is that there are many different ways of thinking about your situation, and no matter what anyone else may believe, your choice of thought is yours.

Even if “everyone thinks…”, “mom says…”, or “all the experts believe…”; it doesn’t matter.

They can have their beliefs, and you can be like Oprah Winfrey, Arthur Boorman, Steve Alexy, or Sean Stephenson, who believed in what brought out their best selves no matter what everyone else thought or what statistics showed.

The only truth you experience is what you choose to think and believe right now.

What do you believe?

 

Emotional Adulthood Vs Emotional Childhood

skull9The best part about being an adult is the freedom to make choices.  This is what I envied as a kid.

It took me a while to realize that the grown-up freedom to choose also includes deciding when I’m tired of blaming my circumstances, focusing on stuff that makes me upset, and treating myself in ways that don’t feel good.

Being an adult means that I have power over myself.  With great power comes great responsibility. Taking responsibility for how I choose to think, feel, and behave is emotional adulthood.

Emotional childhood is when we want everyone and everything to take care of our emotional needs for us.
We are full of “shoulds” and requirements:

Believing that someone else should make us happy.  Making excuses for our poor behavior.  Escaping from our emotions by indulging in distractions.  Depending upon immediate gratification.  Complaining about things being unfair.  Blaming other people or circumstances for how we feel.

When we’re being an emotional child, we are constantly depending on external sources to charge us up and make us feel alive.  We show up to the world uncharged, and try to plug into people and things that we believe will give us validation, success, and love.  And even when we do manage to get a good charge out of something and are happy for a while, we eventually become afraid that we will lose that thing that we so depend on.

We become bent on manipulating the external to keep supplying our expanding needs.

And therein lies the problem.

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Why we shouldn’t believe everything we think

In previous guides, I explain that thoughts cause our emotions, and that emotions are what cause us to act a certain way and create a certain result in life.

skull8So what we know so far is that in order to feel better and take better action, we need to simply be aware of how our thinking is causing our feelings.

If you think positive thoughts, you’ll feel positive feelings.  You’ll then act in a more positive way, and get a more positive result.

If you think negative thoughts, you’ll feel negative, act negatively, and get a more negative result.

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It sounds so simple that we have to ask:
What about what’s happening around us?

What about when someone says or does something?  Or when something happens?  Or I’m in a certain situation?  Or anything that occurs in life?  Don’t those circumstances create feelings?

No.  Circumstances don’t make you feel anything until you have a thought about it.

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How we create our own feelings

In my guide to why we do anything, I explain that everything we do is because of an emotion.  So now the big question is:

How can we change how we feel, so that we can cope better, behave smarter, do more, and create lasting change?

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The first step is understanding how we create our emotions.

Here is a simple scenario:

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Our minds are like open aquariums, and our thoughts are like fishes swimming around and about.  We have around 60,000 thoughts per day!

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Each thought is a sentence that appears and swims through our minds.
Many of these thoughts are basic observations about our environment and what we’re doing.

Oh it’s 8:00, I need to turn off the stove. Look that funny commercial is on again.  Where is my oven mitt…here it is.  Food looks good.   I need to wipe the stove top.

Thoughts appear, swim around, and swim out.  They’re helping us do our thing.  We don’t cling on to any of them.  We’re feeling fine.

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A guide to why we do anything

Before we begin to create better things in our lives, we first must understand why we’re doing (or not doing) things in the first place.

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Everything we do or want is because we believe it will make us feel a certain way.

Our actions come from trying to get or trying to avoid a feeling.  

Our feelings drive our actions:

We do everyday things either because we believe we will feel better upon doing them, or to avoid feeling worse:

We follow personal hygiene so we look and feel better, and to also avoid social embarrassment or nervousness at the dentist.  We go to work, pay the bills, and obey the law because we feel a degree of personal responsible satisfaction, mixed with fear of consequences.

We do things that we know aren’t the best for us, in order to avoid feelings that we don’t like:

We get wasted/ zone out on TV/ overeat/ do drugs/ cause drama/ shop for fun, so we don’t have to face what we really feel. We distract ourselves from our present uncomfortable feelings, and thus temporarily feel better in the moment.

We buy things and strive to look a certain way if we believe it will make us happier:

We work hard and go into debt to acquire things.  We spend countless hours looking at beautiful things and people and scheming how we can get more of that.

We obsess and cling to objects, people, and thoughts even though we’re not really happy, because we think the alternative will feel worse:

We stay in a dysfunctional relationship because it’s more familiar than being single, spend all our money on a fancy item because we think it’s worth the admiration we receive, and will refuse to admit being wrong for years because it’s less painful than the vulnerability of apologizing.

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The Power of Creative Rebels

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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.

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This is who you really are.

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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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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.