Featured

We’re now even more VIVID

 

Welcome to my personal blog.

I would like to extend a warm welcome here and to ask that you please visit Vivid Writing by clicking on the surfer dude.

Vivid Writing Landing Page

We’re doing great things over there and it’s worth the trip.

Click on the chef to see what’s doing over in Vivid Culinary Leadership:

michael-browning-14090.jpg

 

Please join the conversation. Vivid Writing Services delivers solutions that keep pace with your market and your audience.

  • B2B Marketing
  • Content Creation
  • Social Media Coordination
  • And so much more
But this is my personal blog.

I’m going to talk about resilience and reinventing your life here. You can fill out the contact form below but please don’t hesitate to comment. We can talk though the “Huh?”.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Advertisements

Revive For a Vivid Life

Errors of perception are the very human gaffes that gain momentum and become the solecism of inaccuracy, misbelief, and misjudgment that cause an avalanche of delusion that inundate life.

Errors of Perception are, in other words, deficits of awareness and discernment, that gone unchecked, can lead to devastating results across the landscape of our lives.

One such error was recently corrected. I owned both the adult expression and the impact of my attachment style, holistically, right through the ever-loving radius of my life.

When it happens that I begin to feel emotional discomfort, particularly around ambiguity in certain relationship matters, I then feel a perceived lack of emotional safety.

This triggers anxious-avoidant and anxious-resistant attachment styles. I then experience difficulty regulating my emotions. The negatives reach a level of superfluidity and I’m not just “flooded,” I’m living in an emotional Atlantis. And this leads to catastrophes that are as life-altering as a California mudslide.

I think you get it— overwhelm, swamped, sunk, buried.

I was on my way home, looking at my shoes, and I had an epiphany after work—I’m a boxer after a fight.

It wasn’t about attachment . And it isn’t about a lack of drive and motivation. I’m not uninspired. It has nothing to do with procrastination, poor planning, not being proactive. It isn’t about fear, or anything—except one simple thing:

Being human.

The need is for recovery—as in after a boxing match.

Because like a lot of very human people, I’ve been fighting. I’ve gone the full 12 rounds. I need to recover now, not for work or relationships, but for me and my wellbeing. Because it’s all about having been a whole being in the ring, 12 rounds, never caught cold, bout after bout.

And what I authentically require is a strong recovery strategy, crucial both to my performance in the next bout of life and also to my overall growth. So, as in meditation, where we gently bring ourselves back to the breath, I need to return my focus to the point where I am a human being becoming more human.

There is really nothing outside of me that I need. I have everything I require. That’s how I define vulnerability—the authentic realization that I got this and when I don’t, nothing and no one will make any difference until I recover full awareness and responsiveness.

It can take a professional boxer as long as 3 months to recover after a 12-round fight. I’m looking at my shoes and realizing I’m beat up. My shoes are beat up. My life has gone 12 hard hitting rounds.

I’m not afraid or emotionally blocked or checking out. I’m fatigued and I need a recovery strategy.

I’m taking a cue from Lennox Lewis.

1. Do a long and slow cool down routine that includes stretching the imagination. I don’t need to stretch my abilities or knowledge or anything except creative thought.

2. Relax—for me that means enjoyment and refreshing the mind and spirit in whichever way I see fit.

3. Cook fun and healthy food on my Miami weekends.

4. Rest, sleep, and do or don’t do whatever else I find essential for recovery and healthy functioning.

5. Thinking through my process for myself on my terms and resting so I can be the most woke and most real for who I am today.

6. Disengage from social media—I don’t need any platitudes, motivational memes, inspirational quotes, gurus, perpetual positivity myths.

7. Recognize that to recover I need to do me. Right now I don’t need to be engaged in any external conceptions, convictions, or conclusions. I have my own essence, my own essentials if you will.

8. This is a time to repair and recuperate.

Revive for a vivid life.

There is no way to know what the next bout of life will demand, what it will bring into the ring. It’s all uncertain. And that’s why it’s so important to recover, then prepare, then get strong.

Prolific writer and author, Tove Jansson said, “All things are so very uncertain, and that’s exactly what makes me feel reassured.”

It’s a statement of resilience, self-trust, and presence. It’s a statement that’s aware of nuance.

It is my statement of recovery

-to surrender to the rhythms of life rather than going round after round.

-to seek comfort in the interconnectedness of life and the deep interconnections within.

-to rest and recover self amidst the cycles of birth, growth, decay, and death.

As Tennyson said:

That which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

This is my recovery—To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Lydon in the Troposphere

There was Kathy Acker and “Great Expectations,” William S Burroughs and “Cities of The Red Nights.” A thought about reading Italo Calvino in Italian.

And then there was music. These books with a soundtrack alternating between Joe Strummer and John Lydon. Seems odd now to think I damn near got my first iPad engraved with a Strummer quote. But it didn’t sit right. You already know. Joe Strummer had died in December 2002 and was on my mind a lot.

John Lydon and PiL were still with us. When the eye-popping and the mugging stopped, he had things to say. With Lydon, you don’t have to go looking for trouble (too much). Trouble finds you. Good trouble. The kind that Rep. John Lewis talks about saying, “find a way to get in the way” and “speak up, speak out and get in good trouble.” Sounds like Strummer to me. Yeah, and Lydon, too.

The difference is Joe Strummer was down here with us. John Lydon makes excursions out of the troposphere. It’s an observation, though. It’s not a criticism. When Lydon is down here for real, I pay attention.

I haven’t seen the Trump and Brexit stuff yet. But first things first.

I think reading Calvino, Acker, and Burroughs again is the right excursion out of this plane for me.

https://t.co/IdJkB1F78S

People who make you think. Have a list? People you read and listen to. Here are some of mine.

First in a possible series. See you on Google +

https://t.co/egGai359xi

The Life Of A Phoenix

A Nerd Operetta. . . sort of

I mean . . . this is so retro it might work. It’s an idea completely soaked in 1970’s TV.

A Cereal Commercial

But first a message from our novelist, Peter Arango.

Talking about Emily St. John Mandel’s apocalyptic novel Station Eleven, Peter Arango says, “…survivors believe that art, beauty, and Shakespeare are necessary to life, even in perilous circumstance, and travel through this world is one perilous circumstance after another.”

This is true for Station Eleven but it doesn’t matter to me what Arango is directly speaking to. This is true for me all the same. His words are true to what I’ve experienced about surviving in a world that has been…sometimes lacking in beauty and Shakespeare.

And, yes, it is practically a Sci-Fi convention because it is a real-life thing: This world is one perilous circumstance after another. The movies Bladerunner 2019 and Ridley Scott’s original 1982 movie, and certainly other films, take a close look at this idea.

I took a closer look, too.

Not that I’m unsure if I’m a replicant or not, but honestly it’s still been true for me―this world is one perilous circumstance after another. I may sound like I’m complaining but I’m noting and allowing. Noting my part in my circumstances, allowing myself to be open and honest about it, and receptive.

Receptive to moving forward from denial and away from resistance, from the fight to acceptance, all the way to recognition and resilience.

And Now, Back To The Show

Survival is insufficient. This notion, from Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek, is iconic. Survival is insufficient because living in a constant state where your primary, or only focus, is self preservation―it’s exhausting. Been there. The way out―the way through―took what I call my Courageous Combination. I know this is some straight up Saturday Morning Cartoon material right here but it’s about moving forward. No matter what. It’s about resilience.

To move forward, because I was literarily homeless, with resources spent, no prospects and nowhere to go, I spent 4 months in an outreach center. And I did move forward.

I did so by playing.

Having the space to think through my process and current circumstances, I played with the elements of storytelling and then connected them with the other facets of my life. My life had become that of a homeless man in a shelter.

So, having lived this life of mine all upside-down and paradoxical, I chose to play with my Courageous Combo:

  • I took a hard, real look at my perilous circumstances and retold my story.
  • I counterintuitively broke down labels and stereotypes of what it meant to be a homeless person for myself and my new friends who got it. They’re back on their feet, by the way. I’m proud to know them.
  • I redefined vulnerability from “in need” or “at risk” to what it really is―a form of very human strength.

There were consequences: My deepest essence was no longer contained in the mechanics of experience. It was a ceasing. Since I ceased to be homed and was now homeless, let it all cease.

I was no longer Student Pete, Dad Pete, Wage Earner Pete, PlayStation Pete, Boyfriend and Lover Pete, Nobody Pete, Maladaptive Pete, or even some no-name homeless dude. Ceasing to exist as a label because I rejected those.

It was a very positive period in my life―having any form of identity evaporate. I welcomed the dissolution because what is left was understanding.

Weird as all get out. I know. I got there by playing. That’s the goofy part.

I was told to play with my thought process. To not be afraid to think differently. In fact, to challenge myself to do just that. It had an impact on my resilience.

Resilience is what I want to give.

A former co-worker often said, laughing and shaking her head, that I play too much. Without an apology. Almost never really sorry I might add. Zero apologies. Well, statistically somewhere around .0021 percent apologetic. Because yeah, that’s right, I’m a Vulcan.

Angry Phoenix

These days when I hear a knock at the door, I expect to find an angry Phoenix standing there, embarrassed by me. The bird, not the X-Men. Which can annoy me.

I have started over, reinvented myself, risen from the ashes plenty. Unapologetically. Inappropriately, too. And that’s how it goes. I can’t apologize for the life giving, for the light giving. For who I was. For who I am now.

My ideas on the role of relationships, the experience of freedom, redefining success, making space for commitment, the awesomeness of love, of living broadly—they’re not the usual stuff.

After surviving my own Station Eleven, they couldn’t be.

I repeat so often that everything that has a front has a back. Well then, what stands behind survival is thriving. Or does it?

I’m saying no. After 4 months in an outreach community, I’m saying that what has survival’s back is not thriving in the sense in which you define it.

What has survival’s back is moving forward. Improvement. Especially going from homed to homeless, and leaving the city where you’ve lived for 21 years, improvement becomes relevant. To say the least. Mad old-school word, I guess, but I continue.

In June 2017, after recently becoming homed and renting a room, with a job and a bus pass, I contracted a deadly infection. It took a month to recover my health.

It took two more months and a new gig to feel like something positive was happening with my wallet. Then it was hurricane season. After Irma, there are new setbacks, new tropical storms in the Atlantic. One perilous circumstance after another. And still, I travel through this world. Eyes fixed on improvement. Committed to moving forward.

I think an awful lot about relationship. To me, a relationship is conversation as propelling action. I take William Glasser’s dictum, that all we can give another person is information, a little bit further. You know, because I’m a VuIcan.

First, this information is about our actions and about being expansive and dynamic. Let’s face it, information can be limited and static. We want what we give one another to change our future. There’s nothing we can do about a failed past but we can share a vision of a positive future. I don’t want to keep doing this if its not moving me forward. I want to find out what a new “that” could be. Let’s do that!

Since I have called relationships conversations then commitment is about exploring propelling actions: inviting others to join empowering conversations, mindful authenticity, relatedness, choosing how we impact people, moving beyond “shoulds” and judgement―essentially, serving the conversation.

It is this form of conversation that is essential to life. It  builds our resilience, moves us toward thriving in new ways no matter the circumstances. We are not our circumstances after all. Once you see that in action, it’s very freeing.

We are not our circumstances

And it’s hard getting there, beyond circumstances as a human being when you’re homeless. There’s nothing easy about it. You learn just how bad failure sucks.

It’s a painful life to live, this life of a Phoenix. You already know.

But there are powerful conversations to be had when we engage with one another. It’s human conversation connecting our humanness with the humanness of others. That’s what matters. Rising out of the ashes is my artistic expression. Yeah. Again. This ludicrous, beautiful, annoying, growth conversation is my canvas.

It isn’t always pretty and that’s too bad. I’m an artist at living―my work of art is my life, as Suzuki (not Shakespeare or Roddenberry) famously said.

The insufficiency of survival has within it a kernel of what is sufficient. Yeah. I’m back to that. Because conversing—in context with relationships, how this connects with our experience of freedom, our definition of success, our space for commitment, amazing love, living broadly—these are the things.

These are the things. The moments. Our experiences coax it all out. Then realizing the coaxing is what thriving is. That’s consciousness.

This is so retro it might work: Survivors Believe.

It’s a 1970’s TV soaked idea. The one-hour program, The Survivors Believe Show.

Survivors believe in thriving, process, that we’re not our circumstances. We believe in growth, change, and development. We believe in love.

Okay. But what does it mean to not be contained within the mechanics of experience?

I have no idea. Edmund Husserl talks about this experience as the ability “to liberate oneself from the captivation in which one is held by all that one accepts as being the case.”

The mechanics of experience is about the limits of our personal nature and temperament, the order we impose on our world, how we organize our personal reality and how we allow that to pollute the moment and our present set of circumstances.

It’s an issue of mindset.

To not be contained in the mechanics of experience is to step off, in a sense, so that we may begin from where we are. Homeless? Yes. In an outreach center? Yes. That was then. So, being present in the moment, we start now, with what we have right where we are. Go! This is the moment, moving forward.

I took some steps in my Courageous Combination. And I still say I was playing.

◦ First I detoxed from self.

◦ Then I was in recovery from my life.

◦ Now I accept or reject things based on what resonates with me now.

This is how I try to work and live―in self-relationship beyond the mechanics of experience. Start here. Dwell less on the past. Fear less. Don’t stop living. Learn not to apologize for who you were, who you are, who you’re becoming.

All this is a consequence of having been homeless. And wanting to give resilience in my post apocalyptic world. Living to embrace our humanness, we are warriors and failures, survivors and thrivers, transitioning and evolving, fearful and fearing less.

You are important. You matter.

The most debilitated, demoralized, broken way to live is with the conviction that you do not matter.

It’s a vile, horrible lie.

Decisions are made because of this lie. Choices are made, roads and lovers are taken, options are grasped, even jobs are accepted.

And if you don’t understand that
you’re important these things will mirror that.

In fact, they will do more than mirror. They’ll do more than become self-fulfilling prophesies. You may even end up, as I did, not only separated from the venomous people in you your life but estranged from those you love the most. You may even end up, as I did―far from yourself, far from home―literally homeless.

Homelessness for me was the ultimate growth experience. A necessity. Beyond an epiphany, it brought me closer to becoming realized. And now, today, what’s important is that I matter to me―knowing that I am who I am above and beyond what I am.

mike-erskine-144525Your life is your life. It’s yours. Your story is yours. If someone else’s story doesn’t sync with your own about yourself, then keep searching until you find your soul family. Yours. Your soul. Your family.

All the pain I experienced in life and in homelessness has become more than something I pushed through. It is my greatest success as a human being―to have become more human as a result.

More than persistence and the strength to persevere, I have attained. I am whatever I decide to be.

If it is true that significant human change does not occur except in relationship, then our first relational priority is with self and to believe that we do indeed matter.

When I walked through the guarded gates of the outreach center I had to ask myself, “Now in this moment, in this space, what is my reality?” I entered not just a homeless shelter but into a pure here-and-now state.

It was with pure perception, with no judgements that I accepted or rejected things based on what resonates with me now. And what resonates is that I matter and so does everything vivid in my environment.

Black coffee and mango slices and avocado for breakfast matters. Tea in the afternoon. Seeing the goodness in others and the beauty―of our very own. IMG_1336

What matters is the huge responsibility that is having made the choice to matter. I will live my life redefining what it is to be human.

Alone in my freedom for the most part, bearing infinite responsibility, no longer alienated from self but instead from any need for validation. This matters.

It matters that I can accomplish many things in my life. I can do anything I set my mind to because mindset matters. I’m not fearless but I fear less and this enables me to do great things, to make a difference in my world by just knowing that I matter.

I was maladaptive. I believed I did not matter. I expressed traits and behavior that were more harmful to my life than helpful. The contrast between how I was when things were going forward and who I became when the house of cards collapsed is significant. Epic.

 

And I knew it.

And I kept getting up, learning, growing, taking action. Starting again, and starting anew.

I’m not maladaptive and I don’t want imbalance in my space. Every day I start where I am with what I have.

It’s not that I’m better than you. I’m better than me. Better than I was. I want better for myself, forward movement, 1% improvement each day.

Not perfect. Not wonderful. Not smarter or even very good. Just better than I was. I haven’t packed it in and rolled over.

And I’m not going to. Because I matter.

When you matter everything matters. A cup of black coffee and sliced mango is exhilarating. A conversation with a friend is uplifting. Time together, comfort.IMG_0169

This is what it is to be human. If truth be told.

Stepping Into Our Lives Completely

I read too much poetry, I told a friend recently. It was a feigned apology for quoting poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox. She says, There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.

It’s been a long time since I was a Comparative Lit major. Since then, I’ve been reading poetry in 3 languages. One cannot be too intense, too brilliant, too passionate, have too many interests, read too much poetry.

We need to step into our lives completely and step squarely into our own brilliance. These are resilience steps. We can all take them.

Sometimes you just need to relax and have faith that things will work out. Let go a little and just let life happen. You can’t control everything. Scary and annoying, no? Yes. Sometimes…but

The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.                ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The day comes. Whatever the day is for you. For me, the realization that I didn’t love what I was doing and allowing myself to be distracted from the fact of not loving who I was being.

Maybe it’s more important to focus on loving yourself, and living life as you, than it is to “find your passion.”

Looking for a job, a career, a transition to freelancing and connecting with your passion is an oft lauded paradigm.

So what.

Your internal life will always impact your externals. As a dear friend of mine admitted about herself, “I was able to learn that I did know the truth of my life, but I just didn’t like it.” What a statement! It’s a move toward greater resilience to admit it.

I experienced a wonderful inwardness today of great self-love. It led to a space where I am very happy to be looking closely at what I hold on to.  And to what I let go—what sort of trigger is it? Am I abandoning a person, place or thing, or just really letting go?

Is the letting go constructive or unhelpful? How about the holding on? What would be of greater benefit—which is more likely to trigger self-loathing, which self-love?

The consequence is that interactions are happening now that are of a different nature. Across the board.

Most of us have experienced enough hurt, abandonment, strife, maladaption, inadequate “love,” lovers, and relationships. I note this, understand it well, but there’s no more “benefit of the doubt.” I have very few doubts and we’re not benefiting from them.

If it is true that significant human change does not occur except in relationship, then our first relational priority is with self and to believe that we do indeed matter.

Knowing The Time

Here we are, 3 weeks + into March 2018. Last night I asked myself a little question (forget the date for a sec): What time is it in your life right now?

We make resolutions and grapple with them a while. Smart alecs like me resolve to make no resolutions, actually not intending, at all, to sound silly. We’re “affected.”

Some of us learn to be “effective.” We effectively use the waning days of the previous year through the first days of new. Set goals, set ourselves up for success. Positive choices, powerful decisions.

Last year I wondered what it would be like to become a person-business. To effectively run my life as though I am the brand, that I am the assets. By this time last year, I got that all I wanted was to be a person. Today, I want to tease out what it means to make a lifelong decision that feeling better is the most important thing in the world.

All you vegan body builders are inspiring though. I want to do that, too, as a human being growing to be more human.

Albert Ellis was right about self-esteem and for advocating Unconditional Self-Acceptance. It’s the doorway to self love. I’d love to tell the “cards we are dealt” crowd this is the hand that grabs the jackpot. It’s not what you are dealt; it’s what you deal for yourself.

The choice and the decision for self love…because enough nonsense and stacked decks.

Now is the perfect time to look at feeling better as the most important thing in the world.

What is that feeling for you?

Not the brand. Not the ego basted identity. Not the affectations and the efficacious. This instead―Learning to stay and to be present enough to tell the time in my life.

So, we’re 3 weeks + into March. Nowhere near where I dreamed, planned and set up, designed or learned to love my way into being. It’s been a huge surprise; the incredible of the unforeseen. That’s worth staying for, being present for, worth seeing into this time for.