About Me-Updated

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One of the most important things I have learned in the last 6 months, is how connected we all are and how what we have in common may act as the pathway to discovering the ultimate connection, that oneness within us all we all share.  Perhaps we are even more connected than you know. In the spirit of that discovery, I have updated the About me section of this blog.

I am 36 years old and enthusiastically identify as Gen X.

I have lost a parent

I am learning to rediscover another

I have two brothers that love me

I can spend more time loving them

 

I grew up in a small town

Went to college in a bigger town

Dropped out of college

Had my heart broken as a teenager

And as an adult

 

I have had almost every hairstyle

Shoulder length

Shaved

Bowl

Cornrows

No dreadlocks

And never shaved only down the middle

There is still time

 

I have been addicted to drugs

I have been addicted to alcohol

I am currently addicted to pizza

Seriously

I have been overweight

 

I loved wearing sweatpants in school as a kid

Then I wore a uniform from 4th grade through 12th grade

And dressed like a bum throughout college

And most of my early 20’s

Then I saw Ryan Gosling in a Hugo Boss suit in Fracture

And decided to compromise

 

I have lied in the past to look good

And avoid looking bad

for fear of punishment

and to manipulate praise

for all the bad reasons

because good ones don’t exist

 

I watch too much TV

I LOVE watching movies

But don’t really like movies made before 1964

Stand By Me is my favorite

 

I was a mathlete in middle school

Don’t ask

The first book I remember feeling moved by was A Celestine Prophecy

I once told my fellow 4th graders at recess that I was pacifist

I explained it meant I wouldn’t hit back……

Should not have explained that

 

I love playing basketball

But not the practice

I loved acting

But not the practice

I love writing

But only when it comes easily

I love anything that comes easily

You know

Anything I don’t have to practice at

Except Yoga

I love practicing yoga

 

I love just about every type of music

my first love was grunge

I used to tell people I liked everything

except country

that was the thing to say

and now I like country

and have fallen asleep to the sound of Metallica

 

I am a hard worker

When I know it will get me ahead

Whatever that means

If I could go back I would remind myself

Not all hours spent working are productive

To be proud of a job well done

Not of a job well perceived

 

I have never been a bully

But I have sat down when I should have stood up

I am sorry for those moments

And I endeavor to never sit

When the moment to stand arrives

 

I love making people laugh

I laugh out loud

Often about 2 seconds after everyone else

It just takes time for the joke to hit me

I love listening to people sing

And although I wish I could

I’m not the best singer

Except in the shower and elevator

There I am a star

 

I love works of art

And I draw stick figures

And label my drawings when not clear what is drawn

Really

My 7th grade art teacher threatened to take me off the honor roll unless I drew something else

She allowed stick figures after I submitted ‘something else’

 

I often think about running for office

Then I see the news

And I don’t

Then I think about what I could change

And I do

Until I tell myself the system is broken

And I don’t

 

I used to believe in God

Then I didn’t

Then I did

Then being agnostic was cool

Or calling it a higher power

Then I didn’t think about it at all

And now I do

And I believe we are all connected

And I believe

You know

 

My favorite color is blue

It’s the color of my eyes

my mom’s favorite color

the color of her eyes

 

I am very skilled at starting things

Less skilled at continuing things

A novice at finishing things

An amateur at engaging in feedback after something is finished

A virgin at being okay with completing something that failed

I give up before I can fail

It’s my paradoxical parachute

Opening it ensures I crash

 

I will hesitate to hit send on this post

Just like when I want to call to my friends

And I have AMAZING friends

It’s not about you

Always about me

 

I do believe that sharing who we are

And holding space for others that do

is the foundation for connection

I don’t share enough

I would like to share more

I commit to sharing more

Starting now

Dear 2018

2018 airplane

Dear 2018,

I know we’ve only just met, but it feels like I have known you forever. I really want this to work, and I have a habit of sabotaging relationships that show the promise of something magical. In fact, in just this century you will be my 18th, and the longest I have made it is one year. If I am being honest, I ran into you literally one second after leaving my last romance.

It was time for a change and you were there with your open arms and that big warm 8 looking like infinity that had finally found its feet. I want to find my feet too, and I think the promise of you was all the seduction I needed to leave 2017 behind.

Before we take things any further, I am going to tell on myself to you. It is important we don’t have any secrets and after spending some time reflecting this morning, I think it is the only chance we have to make this year, our year, something much different entirely.

Without further ado, it’s time to come clean on my crazy.

I put a lot of expectation on these types of relationships, hell in ALL my relationships. I know we just kissed, but I am already expecting you to help me lose 10 pounds, write a book, start a podcast and once that is all done, rediscover my purpose in life….and that gets us through July.

If any of these goals aren’t reached, I won’t blame you directly, but as the backdrop of my failure, you are guilty by association. My past relationships haven’t exactly measured up to the task. 2007 came close but by the end, all I could think about was 2008. I broke her heart. I expect each time to be THE answer. Period. I should be changed forever as I happily glide into the horizon of the rest of my life.

No pressure.

I change my mind-A LOT. The goals listed above will shift constantly. Within the span of one day I might be running for Governor, planning to run a marathon, or planning to run to the bar. My past relationships have made the mistake of putting old journals or goal sheets in an obvious place for me to find, which is a highly passive aggressive form of motivation. This is terrible because instead of helping me get back on track, they just remind me of how far I have fallen, mocking me. I already believe you will do this to me, and I will hate you for it.

I tend to listen for what I want to hear. Past years notice this and give me all the encouragement in the world as I crush the goals I list, usually created in the final week of my previous relationship as something akin to an escape plan. However, once I have escaped and buried myself into the activity of new beginnings, my past years have noticed the first signs of wavering, and start to tell me that ‘I deserve a break”. And I listen. They tell me ‘you don’t have to do it all’. And I listen. They console saying ‘choose yourself first’. And I listen. The problem is by the time I hear this, I have no idea who the hell I am, and the things I start to choose move me further away from any notion of how I can share myself in this world.

I am also a comparer. I normally don’t write words like ‘comparer’ and if we were talking face to face, this is the word. It is different than one who compares. That is an act. For me, comparison is a way of being. Its only January 1, and I have already compared you to every other year in my life up until now. So far so good, because I have never started off my relationship with a letter like this. And in the back of my mind, I think it might be all downhill from here. No matter how much past years have offered me in gifts, opportunities, and life experiences, I can’t help but looking at what they have given other people. No matter how magical my life is, I always seem to focus on the things I don’t have, rather than what is right in front of me.

And you are not doing yourself any favors by giving me 9 degrees Fahrenheit on our first day together as a couple.

This reaction is a perfect example of the last admission I want to make. When life is going well, I am the one who makes that happen. When life isn’t going how I planned, I empower the notion that life is HAPPENING TO ME. So if in two weeks I happen to see my best friend and have an amazing day, I did that. If I land an amazing opportunity in my career, ALL ME. If, however, I twist my ankle, you did that. If someone I hate gets elected to office, you did that. And I will blame you and hate you for it and in 364 days, I will say something like “goodbye 2018, it’s amazing I am still alive, but I survived you”.

Oh, and I am slightly dramatic.

The hard part about writing this, is I know our relationship will end, and I struggle with the passage of time, endings and death. For us, someone long ago predetermined our shelf life, and through the manmade construction of time boundaries, they defined our maximum amount of time together as 365 days or 31,560,000 seconds, to be exact. What I am realizing today, is that although that is the most amount of time we may have, I don’t know if I we will have it. Death is certain but the time of its arrival is not and no matter how much I do to control what I can, the things which I cannot control might determine our end before we achieve all that is possible together.

Which brings me to the point in this letter where I am going to try on something new. Instead of loading up our relationship with goals, timelines and expectations, I am going to simply state how I will show up each day and each moment of each day when I am with you. In this way, if we meet our premature end tomorrow, I can know that at that precise moment in time, I was in the experience of noticing the magic  and connection in life.

When I wake up each morning, I commit to finding a quiet place to sit. I will wake up at a time that gives me the space to sit in this place for at least ten minutes. As soon as I find my seat and draw my first breathes in and out, I will say the following in my mind.

“I am alive…..I am grateful for this life”.

From that point on, I will either sit in stillness or meditate, committing to sit with myself and bringing as much awareness to breathe as possible. In this way, every day we spend together will begin with its own promise, fulfillment and possibility, without any dependence on what has happened or what needs to happen.

Each week, I commit to removing one attachment from my life. If it is something that can be donated, then it will be. This could be an old shirt, a type of food, a relationship, drugs, alcohol. When I am not sure what to let go of, I will ask myself what is in my life that is cutting off my connection to myself or others or might be labeled by an objective observer as an addiction. When I know what to release, I commit to writing in my journal and answer the following questions about each released attachment.

  1. What attachment am I releasing?
  2. What specifically am I doing that makes this a release?
    1. For example, If I eat ice cream 7 times a week, am stopping it entirely, less frequently?
  3. What pleasure has it brought me in the past?
  4. What pain has it brought me in the past?
  5. Why am I scared of letting it go?
  6. What do I make this attachment mean about me or who I am?
  7. What is possible in my life without this attachment?

 

When I am finished writing and ready to let the attachment go, I will read my journal entry to someone in my life, and commit to my specific action in the presence of this person. I know you are there for me, 2018, but this needs to be someone who can just hold space for me, and won’t just tell me what I want to hear. What you can do for me, is hold space for me so that if I lose myself in the attachment after making a commitment, I will know it’s okay to journal about what happened, and re-commit to the new practice as many times as I need to.

My baggage holds me back from fully expressing myself in all the areas of my life, and if the day comes when I meet 2019, I know there would a new world of possibility without 52 current attachments in my life.

Last, and certainly not least, each week I commit to noticing one new thing in my life that brings me pure joy. It could be a movie that makes me laugh, the presence of trees, the sound of rain hitting the pavement, my dog dropping a toy at my feet…. anything that causes the feeling of peacefulness, lightness and that sense of time stopping around me in a way that I can enjoy the exact moment I am in. It can also be parts and pieces of people or situations I may not like on first glance. For example, I might have a difficult relationship with my someone, but there is one thing about them that bring me joy. The fun part will be finding the hidden treasures buried right before my eyes.

Quick note to self, because I am looking for joy in the moment, it cannot arise from anything that takes me out of the moment. For instance, drinking scotch may be enjoyable, but it dulls my senses and dampens my awareness. It can be enjoyable, but is not the type of joy I am focusing on here.

When I find that thing in my life, I will write about it and answer the following questions.

  1. What did I notice that brought Joy in my life?
  2. Is this the first time it happened, or the first time I noticed it?
  3. When I experience that moment, what am I aware of?
  4. What caused the moment to end?
  5. Can I find it again?
  6. If I can, what can I do to make it a more regular part of my day?

 

Once I am done with my journal I will take one final step. I will directly thank and acknowledge the source of my joy. If it is a tree, I will thank the tree out loud and if I know who planted that tree, I will thank them too. I will thank my dog. When I find it, I will tell the people and situations that aren’t so easy in my life where they bring joy, I will make sure they know.

2018, I do not hold you responsible for my happiness. Your convenient appearance in my life doesn’t change who I am in this very moment. What is impactful, is that space you give each moment to fully experience my life.

The space to notice those attachments that perpetuate an endless cycle of passion and pain, pleasure and withdrawal, love and hate, and to release them.

The space to find the simple joy in the practice of living each day, and making sure the sources of joy know we are one through my acknowledgement of their connection to my own life.

I do not know what will happen tomorrow, or in the next moment.

Right now, I know I am alive.

I am grateful for this life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Step is The Only Step That Matters Right Now

I have heard, ad nausea throughout my life, myriad quotes about the power of taking the first step. They usually involve making a bold move, enacting courage, and putting yourself at risk in the spirit of living your best life. These are very noble and admirable actions and the first step is important. I have learned, however, through countless first steps of my own that the first step, without follow up, is a journey to the heart of exactly where I have always been.

The first two blogs I created are perfect examples of this. Each was begun and put out into the world with courage and hope that a message I would share could have impact. Those first posts were followed up by others with diminishing frequency until finally, due to the decay of atrophy and warm comfort of inertia, they ceased to be living expressions of my own reality.

It was not until recently that I realized what was causing my two previous blogs, and so many other false starts in my life to “die on the vine” was my focus on the attachment to what I wanted, what the goal was, without any presence on the impact of the current meaningful action that was available to me.

Tell me if the following sounds familiar;

You get really excited about starting a new activity, quitting an addiction, starting a workout routine, diet, or hobby. You google the hell out of any topic you can find so that you are sure you are getting it 100% right-reviews are read and friends are consulted. And then, the big spend occurs. You splurge on new exercise clothes, buy the patch, buy the 30-day program (MONEY BACK GUARANTEED!!!!) spend your rent at the grocery store, buy a brand new piece of equipment because you are going to CRUSH IT.

The first day of your activity arrives and you are 1-part hopeful adrenaline, 1-part “doing it for the Social Media Post” and 1 part “this is the time it sticks”. Everything you wanted to happen on that first day happens and yet, you are not 100% fulfilled. A seed of doubt creeps in and now you are noticing every exit door that is available to you.

At the gym you see someone with the body you want and know you will never have so “what’s the point?”

You get into a fight with your significant other and you really need a cigarette right now because this is just too much to handle all at once.

Work gets in the way and interrupts your planned one hour of writing, and how ridiculous was it of you to think you had time to write in the first place.

You have no time to make your special meal for this new diet, and this food is just going to go to waste so why bother.

And on and on you find every reason why the goal you set for yourself cannot possibly be reached. Rather than recommit or even declare an end, you just stop taking the next step, hoping no one else will notice. But you know. And in this non-choice of ceasing to act, a fog of the uncompleted hangs and although you don’t actively punish yourself for the non-completion, you start to craft a story about how life is just what it is and it may just be too late to change or try anything new.

The above is not some hypothetical creation. It is the way I have lived most of my adult life.

I had to quit smoking six or seven times before it finally stuck.

I have 5 workout journals spaced about 6-9 months apart, and prior to the most recent 3-month period of my life, I never made it past day 22.

Forget time for cooking and for a large portion of my life pizza existed as a primary food group.

I had to ask people to stop buying me journals because everyone I owned was a painful reminder that I am a failure at writing and I am not a person who follows through. I would even go to the length of starting in a brand new one as opposed to picking up where I left off in an old journal because I thought the new journal would “inspire me to really do it this time”. Failure, without the awareness to learn from it, can be a very expensive habit.

Much less so recently and for a large portion of my life, I  have experienced the pain, humiliation and disgust with myself over tasks not completed, friendships left on life support, and grandiose promises followed up with non-action.

In these situations, I started with a goal. A better body, to be desirable, to be noticed, to have impact in the world, to make people like me, TO LOOK GOOD. Because I was so fixated on the goal and what it might get me, I eliminated any opportunity to be present to the process and when the initial action did not bring the reward I had promised myself, the next step was pointless.

What I have realized and what I want to share with you right now is that the step you are currently on is the only step that matters right now, and you have the power to shape what that looks like in your life, without adding any meaning.

I’ll give you an example of something I recently did.

In the ABOUT section of this blog, I originally wrote that I committed to posting something every day. When I wrote that, it felt very empowering and totally achievable. The next morning after posting my first entry, I realized I had no desire to post every day and that to do so would feel forced.

Right away I started to go down the rabbit hole. I was worried that changing my about page would be out of integrity and that I was already a failure. Changing the about page would be an admission that I don’t have the will power to follow through. A day went by and I didn’t post to the blog and the About section still had my published promise. I am not exaggerating when I say to you right here and now that I was ready to kill the blog. Every second I didn’t post something led to an exponential growth in the corresponding paralysis I felt writing anything or taking action. I wanted to throw up.

And then I took a deep breathe and stared at the blinking cursor. I read the title of the blog THE DAILY PRACTICE OF LIVING and realized that this is the practice. With that, I went to the ABOUT page, changed the commitment to once a week, and set the intention to finish a post by the end of the day on Tuesday(Today) and to tell you what I had done. Sometimes, in the present moment, you may realize something in your life is not working, and there needs to be an adjustment. Choosing to engage that inner-sourced truth through action and honesty creates the possibility for others to connect to your experience.

I could have set the deadline to once a year, and it wouldn’t have mattered. Any external meaning I placed on what the amount of time meant would just be a story of mine. The access to feeling connected to you, whoever is reading this blog is sourced from two actions.

  1. Admitting to you that I changed the About Section
  2. Writing this post, right now

 

The practice I offer to you this week to keep in the back of your mindfulness as each moment happens, is the following;

Notice when any practice or step you are taking in your life starts to feel very overwhelming.

What you are making it mean, what significance are you adding to it and what is finishing this step or task going to get you.

If you feel up to it, after noticing these feelings, try talking to someone and verbalize exactly what is happening. Tell on yourself. And then, after you have become very present to those feelings, try that same task or step again just for the sake of doing it, without any attachment to the outcome. Be in the practice of taking the next step on as a part of the process, with no goal in mind.

Thank you for reading and know I am with you, taking one breathe and step at a time in THE DAILY PRACTICE OF LIVING.

Waking Up

December 8, 2017

My life transformed while I was folding laundry.

I read the above sentence and can’t help but laugh and also remember the skepticism with which I used to view stories like the one I am about to share. On a single day over three months ago, my life shifted completely and put me on the path I walk today. It is a path of humility, constant learning, missteps and hiccups, laughter and clarity. It is a path I call THE DAILY PRACTICE OF LIVING and it all started on August 25th, 2017.

I was standing in the middle of the living room, mindlessly watching Law & Order SVU and folding clothes fresh out of the dryer. I had a long sleeve shirt stretched out arm to arm in both hands with the collar pinned between my chin and chest.

Out of nowhere my heart started to beat out of my chest and my fingers and toes started to tingle. I was intensely aware of the room, my breathe, the sounds and colors in the room, and all of the sensations in my body, heartbeat included. After what felt like minutes but was really only 5-10 seconds, I heard a voice. Not as a sound from a stereo, but in the same manner you might hear words in your head when reading in silence. The voice I heard was new, yet also familiar to me. The message was clear.

Change your life now, or you are going to die very soon

Since that day I have endeavored to put into words some explanation of everything I felt and what happened.

The impact and immediacy of the transformation felt like a light-switch turning on.

The best rationale I have for what happened came from Baron Baptiste. In addition to being an incredibly powerful and empowering human being, he is someone I consider to be one of the great teachers in my life. When I told him what I experienced, he said simply and without hesitation, “It sounds like you were ready to wake up”.

Since that day I have experienced a peaceful serenity and freedom from anger I had not known in my 36 previous years of life. My eating habits, meditation habits, and physical exercise habits all shifted. The tool I have practiced every day since then, in the moments of greatest difficulty and relative ease, is to keep coming back to the present moment and be mindful of exactly where I am. It is a practice every moment of every day.

Sometimes I go long stretches without being present and then I catch myself, and come back. The practice is to stay in the awareness and to try and shorten the length of time between being lost in thought, and present in the moment. There is so much I want to share and today is the first step in that journey.

THE DAILY PRACTICE OF LIVING – Living a Life of Practice, One Breathe at a Time- is what I intuitively know I want to share with the world. As I type now I see, in addition to my own reflections shared, the insights of others (some who I already know and some who I have yet to meet) on the tools and practices they put into action to lead an empowered and fulfilling life.

I look forward to sharing what comes next and openly admit I have no idea what that will be.

What I do know is I want to share it.