Time for honesty.
I'm not married. Not anymore. But I have many friends that are, both male and female. And you know, with several exceptions, almost all of them, in their quiet moments, admit to a creeping sense of despair and desperation. They find themselves masquerading as the loving wife or husband, when in reality their minds, their hearts, their souls are screaming for meaning, for something more. Life continually pushes them further and further into the experience known as marriage, with or without children, until it implodes terrifically or they are gently hypnotized and subdued into stay in the relationship.
This is coupled with the fact that, oddly enough, a large amount of conversations I've had with men around their happy marriage involves them being sexually shamed at some point, whether through having been found engaging with pornography or something to that extent. Now, this isn't a conversation for or against such things, I just find the common thread of shame to be interesting here...
This is not to say that there aren't happy marriages at all. There are. Also, children tend to bring deep joy and commitment, spelling real significance while they are in their young age.
But it doesn't take much to see that something about this: most likely psychological, is broken with this system.
Single people - you don't get off easily either. I see the desperation in my unattached friend's eyes, even as they extol the virtues of being single. Yet, deep down they yearn for the commitment, the partnership, the person to grow old with. They feel the clock ticking and they wonder if they will really find someone. Each new date or social experience is underlined by the desire and need to meet THAT person. It sets an impossibly high standard.
This isn't just limited to relationships either. It's about our hopes and our dreams, our health, our waist lines, and for some...our hair lines. It starts to dawn on us that life might not be what we thought it was going to be when we were growing up.
Our culture is set up to make us feel desperate, inadequate, and stressed. Why? Because this makes us good consumers, good customers, always out for the next fix. But we can never fix our real problem. We can't satiate the hunger for meaning, for growth, for significance, with the fast food of buying or consuming more.
The only way out of the pit of despair is through fear. Through distraction. Through procrastination. Find an adventure that means something and go on it, whether with your partner or on your own. It doesn't matter.
The point here is to wrest significance back from those with whom you've entrusted it. Make yourself significant and then turn that back on those you love or those who you hope to love. Things might be tough, but we can take our power back when we take responsibility for our own happiness and sense of meaning.
I've seen it time and time again - marriages start to come alive again, single people start finding like minded, interesting prospects. - It's an inner game, not an outer one. And your game, is played by no one but yourself.
It seems like every month brings a new superhero blockbuster film. Men and women, young and old, head to theater to see superhuman face seemingly insurmountable evil. Many times, these stories follow a very predicable path, recognizable as "The Hero's Journey" or mono-myth, as discovered and popularized by Joseph Campbell.
The Hero's Journey is a powerful awakening for many people who come across it and, if you aren't aware of it, you should definitely look at it in much more depth than I can get into here. What I've found is that this formula not only exists at the heart of almost every fictional story in some way shape or form, but it lies directly at the heart of every action and adventure film.
One of the most interesting things to me, however, is how it completely also is resonant with how our own lives work. These stages are seen (many times as metaphor) as we follow each new call to adventure ourselves. Perhaps I'll begin doing a daily breakdown of the journey for you when I can formulate my ideas well enough to do so.
My point this evening is this: The reason that we as a culture seem so enamored with super hero films is that we, in some way, identify with them. Sure we wish to possess their secret powers, but more so, to live that life of adventure. To be, as we think, signifigant. Then, we eat our popcorn and go have dinner at Red Robin, placating ourselves and falling back into the sleep of the mundane.
I say screw it. Why not make your life a glorious adventure?: Why not travel to Asia and study martial arts from a secretive master? I'm not saying it's the right thing for you to drop everything and go. But what I am asking you to do is to look within. Find the places where these stories resonate with you. Then, find a way that makes sense to act on it.
This world needs more heros. Less spectators.
I was listening to a book this weekend, driving from one project to another, attempting as always to fill my mind with something new, poignant and relevant, something help inspire or infuriate me. In the book, the author mentioned that as people, we are always living from one of two places: memory or inspiration.
When we are living from memory, each bit of information or experience is passed through the filter of what we have lived through before. Our views form our reality in a very real sense this way, dictating our immediate perspective and reaction to new stimuli.
However, when we choose to live from inspiration, we open ourselves to possibilities in each new day, each new moment. While we still can carry our experiences with us, we are no longer beholden to them. We can see things as a virgin field of snow, trackless and open to adventure.
So, how can we do this? Well, to be honest, it's different for all of us. But the main focus of that is stepping out of your perceptions, your anxieties, and allowing the beauty of the moment to flow and lead you into reverie. There, you will find real inspiration.
The master is speaking...all must listen. Then, like cockroaches, we scurry, we fight, we argue, we devour ourselves. Meanwhile, the world spins around and we forget to remember the fleeting nature of life, the beauty of the stars, the value of who are.
Thus is the prevailing sentiments of our current age. Tonight, I want to talk about the power of the media.
They say that our brains are in fact, three brains in one. The oldest is called the crocodile brain, which is the first to filter any messages that we are presented with. It's decision making abilities are very primitive, survival based. Then comes the mid-brain, which processes social situations and deciphers the meaning of things, followed by the neocortex, which allows us to think through complex problems and solve them using logical thought.
When the media reports to us (through their own devices or in the reporting of one scandalizing thing or another), they knowingly frame the most intense and gripping information in a way that triggers our crocodile brain. When this part of our brain sees information, it asks three questions: 1) Is this dangerous? 2) Can I eat it? and 3) Can I mate with it? Many times, if the answer is "no" to all three questions, new information can easily be ignored.
Getting back to media, when they trigger our croc brain response, it's to inspire in us a sense of fear, of danger. They want us to think that we NEED to keep watching in order to live. And watch we do, in droves. We let this fear tactic ramp us up over and over, until we are becoming verbally and sometimes physically violent with those who might hold opposing views.
Might I suggest another approach for a listener of this podcast? What if instead, you turned of the "Crisis News Network" (as the great Peter Diamandis has nicknamed CNN) and tune into yourself, your own life, and your own development. I'm not saying to pretend that things aren't actually happening or that you should bury your head in the sand. What I am saying however is that we all must learn to step off of the news cycle and realize that the power we give others over our mental state is both vast and dangerous.
Such sensationalism and those who arise to power through it lead to dark places. As creators, we must always lead to the light. It starts in our own minds and hearts first.
This morning, we all awoke a world seemingly divided. The political circus runs rampant and the arguments rage in every corner. We can block it out, but we start to see the effects carrying over into our day to day lives, as well.
Yesterday morning, I dealt with an incredibly lazy, entitled, and negative cast of 14 year olds in rehearsals for my adaptation of "Hamlet". With the performance less than a month a way, they were far under performing the expected levels of work. When confronted with that reality, the response was one of unapologetic attitude. As you can imagine, I tried to work through their objections, but ultimately found things very frustrating.
While consulting with some of their other teachers, I was encouraged to go the draconian route, setting up an essay per day requirement for the next three weeks. It all made sense from a specific standpoint, however, my heart was saying something very different.
Yesterday morning, I spent time watching the world. I read some social media postings and saw the negativity in the air. It reminded me of what I had witnessed the day before in rehearsal. Then, I chose to accept where that division, where that argumentative energy existed within me. It was there, lurking...and, embarrassingly enough, it looked a lot like self pity. It was then that I decided to change my mind.
I decided to look at what was missing from the occasion. What the world (and my cast) needed was someone who would bring the positivity, the motivation, and who would refuse to give up when it became hard. Not that I had given up, but I felt a real turning point had been reached in the process and that I had to make a choice.
So, here's what did. I sat them down and laid the situation before them. I told them what I had been encouraged to do. Then I told my cast that I wasn't ready to give up on them. That I knew, from experience with them, that they could do it. Not only could they do it, but that they could have a great time while doing so. It took a little while, but I suddenly noticed the change in body posture and the engagement growing. We discussed how to show up ready to work and developed several systems to make it happen. Then this morning, we did it. We executed. And it worked beautifully.
From there on, I have used this basic principle in every scenario possible, heaping authentic praise and love on whomever I was talking to, and this key, whether out loud to them or just mentally while talking. Call it woo-woo, but it truly appears to work. The energy around me has shifted intensely...or perhaps it's just me. Either way, I call it a win.
What do you think? Is it worth a try in your own life?
There comes a time when we are finally in the flow. We're working on our projects, playing shows, selling paintings, whatever..and then a particular challenge comes, an attack from the outside. No, not a critic. It's the "big shot".
Slowly; insidiously, the big shot will move in, praising your work, telling you that "they have their eye on you". They invite you to parties and introduce you to fun and interesting people. You'll go to lunch and dinner ALL of the time and you'll finally feel as if you have found a group with which you belong.
However, you might have noticed in this lovely laundry list of things that I have been mentioning, I left something out. It's called work. Actual creative focus. We might be having a great time, bit in reality, we are just becoming another sycophant to the big shot.
This could be unintentional on their part,. but, to be honest reality has taught me differently. Many of these people tend to be very good a manipulating others consciously. I have seen over and over again the subtle play to neutralize competition by "keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer".
So, what can we do to avoid what I have eventually named "Hollywood Poison"? It's simple as this. Have boundaries. Is it wrong to go to the party and have a good time? Absolutely not. Life is also about fun. Usually, these are also amazing for networking. You absolutely should go...selectively.
Plan your "let down" time and don't deviate. Once you fall into that trap, it's hard to go back. Set your schedule for creativity BEFORE taking the "down time" into account. Fill it in. Then mercilessly cut out all of the other crap that keeps you from your work.
You are an artist and you never arrive at the place where you can stop developing. Be the artist, not the socialite. Those are a dime a dozen.
For for the love God, keep the Hollywood poison out of your ear. (It's best to not fall asleep in gardens.)
Yesterday on social media, I announced that I was drawing a line in the sand. Several medications that I was put on several years ago (which were very needed) have had the side effect of added fatigue and weight gain, among other things.
Several days ago, I decided to actually do something about it. When I let the world know, I invited everyone who might have similar goal to join me as we travel into wellness together. I received quite a large response, both publicly and privately, and I'm excited.
Each day on the podcast, I'll be listing what I did that day to push forward my fitness goals, including if I DIDN'T follow through. Complete truth is the M.O. here and I want to be engaged with you the entire way. This won't comprise the whole episode, but it will be added onto the end, so those who wish to can track along with me. We can do this together...
When I saw what many people were discussing doing to work out or, more often, what their obstacles were for training, I decided to dedicate this evening's time to talking about a few simple ideas that have been given to me that I've found to work in a situation like this. I'll definitely be employing them myself.
* Side note, I'm not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be. Don't do anything dumb and make sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise or diet regimen.
Here they are:
1) Don't do too much at once - Do you think that you will go vegan and hit the gym seven days a week stating tomorrow? As much as I don't like to be discouraging to people, chances are that you'll last a week, if that. It has nothing to do you, it's all about human behavioral traits. We can't assimilate too much change at once. A step by step approach is needed.
The best method to use (based on advice from trainers and coaches, as well as my own training in NLP), is to focus your energy on building one habit for 30 to 45 days. Then you can add others, one at a time. When they add up together, they can create a powerful downhill momentum that will really make a difference in the long term.
What you should you most likely start first?
2) Diet Is 70%
Look, whomever told you that you have to burn calories in the gym didn't know what they were talking about. Seriously. It's about diet. Losing weight isn't actually hard, it just takes getting a few things straight and then setting up systems in your world that make them effortless for you to stay disciplined with.
For instance, I am currently engaging with an intermittent fasting diet plan, However, looking at my constitution and the wear and tear of my daily schedule, I have determined that eating a large meal of protein, fresh veggies, and legumes during the mid-day is what works best for me.
The meals usually looks like two to three chicken breasts, a huge salad with balsamic vinegar as dressing, kidney beans and water. It's not too hard to skip breakfast up to that meal because I drink black coffee and sparkling water to cull my food cravings. Afterwards, I'm usually so full that I don't feel the need to eat. It provides me with energy to finish the day with strength and, if I'm really hungry in the evening, I can eat an apple or a spoonful of peanut butter. Easy.
My deal with myself is that, should I start shaking or going into some sort of "shutdown", I will eat without concern. It's not about being dogmatic, but about consistent and sustained effort over time.
Also, to keep myself from going crazy, I incorporate a cheat day into each week, usually on Saturdays, which I usually spend with friends.
3) Simply Easy and Fun
Getting in shape doesn't have to suck. In many ways, it's about finding new things to have fun with physically. For me yoga, weights, and so on are great fun. As I connect more with my body, other things usually begin appealing to me, like learning the tango, and on.
Like going for a walk? Great! Go for a walk? Want to stretch a bit? Perfect, do that. Get your body to wake up..do what is fun. Play. We often get so boring as adults that we forget that we too can have fun! This is where you can do it.
There you have it, my three basic ideas for weight loss. I'm not an expert, like I said, but these ideas are the ones that I have culled from the real experts, am employing themselves now, and have used them with success in the past. Hopefully, you find them useful as you continue down your own fitness journey.
So, what did I do today?
This morning, I woke up at 4:30 and performed 25 minutes of yoga followed by twenty minutes of meditation. From there, I had coffee and water before heading to school. Having not brought my meal today, I was forced to wait until I returned home to eat, which made me tired and lethargic. Well, that and the insane day at school.
The fatigue setting in as I got home reminded me of another very powerful axiom: willpower sucks and doesn't work. So, here's my solution: I am packing a workout bag this evening, which will allow me to hit the gym immediately after school and get to my Wednesday evening meeting at 6 pm. This, plus the prepackaged meal for lunch tomorrow, should yield massive results. Tonight, I am having chicken breasts, a few eggs, salad, and balsamic with a large glass of ice water. Then, I will stretch again, meditate, and be in bed by the boring time of 9:30 pm.
The world is full of pressure. Most of it, insidiously enough, comes in quiet and subtle forms, moving slowly, like a glacier pushing into your living room. Eventually, we decide to cope with the pressure rather than resist it and we go get jobs, side gigs, easy relationships, or just let our health go by the way side. I'm not judging anyone for this, by the way. I'm absolutely done it myself.
The will to fight the slow crawl of pressure is very difficult to keep up, especially when the will to fight comes from unclear sources. Most of the time, we're just trying to keep it together: a roof over our heads, food, clothing, transportation, medical expenses - it gets very daunting very fast. Then, what's more, if we are in a relationship, things like financial problems can easily turn into relationship problems, causing deep rifts in the place where love once existed. Sometimes, we say forever, but we really mean "until the money is gone" or "until you aren't attractive to me anymore". Our human hearts are pretty brutal sometimes.
It's taken years for me to work my way out of some of the dark places that this realization has taken me to. In many ways, it had the effect of making me afraid to truly commit to creating and putting anything out at all. I felt, on a subconscious level, that it would bring more heartache than joy. That belief disclosed itself when I found it hard to finish even the most basic creative projects, finding resistance at every turn. Then, when I finally would power through to make it happen, I was met with quite hilarious little mental breakdowns during the finishing process that made me very hard to deal with, indeed. Thankfully, I never get so bad as to inflict damage..but it's still there.
As I've been going through the process of freeing myself from such beliefs, I really had to hit things on a granular level. I had to realize that I was, in fact, indisputably, going to die. Not only was I going to die, but everything I do on this planet will vanish into the air as if they never existed. And, if by chance, I did something for people to remember by, eventually they will die, along with the last memories of me.
With this perspective in place, suddenly, things look very different. I stop wondering what others would think about me at all. I sort of stop worrying about the consequences of just going for things. While obviously taking into account my relationships, it makes me realize that there are very few consequences for trying and failing, despite what we are often told.
So, here's a big goal for the rest of 2018 that I am personally taking on and would love for you to consider: "Fail Big". It's going to inform so much more of what this year has in store.
More about that tomorrow.
In 2014, I had hit a breaking point.
Like many people, I grew up with a sense that, once I feel in love, it would be over. That would be my "love" for the rest of my life. Naturally, this was informed by film, television, books, culture, and so on.
I was very fortunate in my early life, having relationships with wonderful people that, while they ended, did more to encourage the idea of a "true love" than disparage it. Then, years later, I was married,,,which...to spare the details, was a terrible idea. What made sense of first, suddenly deteriorated so rapidly that it made my head spin. I was left broken hearted, disillusioned, and lost. I sought solace with others over the next five years, but, I'm honest, the ache stayed and has never really let up.
It's not that I wish to reunite. I don't. At all. This ache comes more from the damage done to my relationship with love itself. I've seen the power of it, how it can triumph even over the most dire circumstances. Yet, I've also seen it fall, far too many times to count.
When I wrote this song, the melody and words appeared as if remembered. In fact, I even thought it was someone else's song until I realized it wasn't. Every word in the song is true and every note still resonates with the memory and deep ache from all of those years ago.
If I die, this is a song that I hope they play at my funeral. Here it is, called "Sometimes Love Ain't Enough"...
Last night, around nine o'clock, I began writing and recording this podcast.
The writing was a bit of a struggle, but ultimately wasn't anything that I hadn't encountered before. The words went to the page, nonetheless.
It was only when the I hit record, that all of the trouble started. And then I...well, let me explain.
When I first imagined this podcast, one of the main things I considered was that it had to both feel and actually be very easy to accomplish each day. This led me to finding Anchor, which is a wonderful audio platform that allowed me to record directly to my phone from anywhere, upload, and share the new episodes on my schedule.
It's gone pretty well. Except for one thing. Occasionally, after I've recorded an entire episode, something will fault in the uploading process, and I'll lose the whole thing..as in nothing survives. Usually, it's handled easily and the second take uploads just fine. It's still time consuming and I relish the idea of doing an episode only once.
Except last night, I recorded and lost it. And recorded...and lost it. For a total of fifteen times. I kept pushing, trying for new solutions and ideas...but nothing would work. Each had it's one insurmountable problem. By one a.m., with my alarm clock taunting me with it's 4:30 am wake up time, I felt like giving up. And, at the end of the night, I did...
Then, I happened to have a conversation with my brother. That conversation quickly produced a MacBook Pro and a recording program which allowed me to record and upload last night's episode.
I'm telling you this for several reasons. One, to share with you what it's like so nights trying to get this thing up into the world each day and two, so you could see what struggle and failing forward looks like on a small scale.
Now that I've had these issues, I've now develop methods and capabilities I didn't have just 24 hours ago. I don't know where you're from. But around here, I call that progress.
Oh, and by the way...thanks, James.