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.

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Worry: Small Things & Big Shadows

We attach worry to the future. We don’t worry about the past. We may regret it, but we don’t worry about it. And in the moment, we might feel anxious. So, maybe there’s a good reason why we’ve evolved worry.

We all know somebody who worries full-time. Their worry is sometimes a function of concern, sometimes a function of anxiety. Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow, as the Swedish proverb goes.

I stopped telling my worriers to stop worrying. Know why? Minimizing people’s feeling is unkind. Telling someone to stop feeling how they’re feeling is as thoughtless an act as it is demanding. We do it all the time. We say stuff like “Cheer up!” When we tell a depressed person to cheer up they’ll feel like their experience is an inconvenience to us. That’s just wrong.

Wayne Dyer calls worry a “useless emotion.” Okay, Wayne. Sorry, brah. I’ll just drop it then. Or, Wayne? Maybe your observation is useless. Now before you get too mad at me, lemme ‘splain.

We attach worry to the future. We don’t worry about the past. We may regret it, but we don’t worry about it. And in the moment, we might feel anxious. So, maybe there’s a good reason why we’ve evolved worry. It can spur our ability to map out, plan for, and engage in a thought process about how bad the future might really turn out. As long as you’re planning and thinking and not just reacting, you may be on to something positive.

So, sure, worrying won’t stop the bad things from happening. But it may spur you on to handle them. Worry, act, enjoy the good things. It’s okay. It’s one of those what it is to be human things.

Neuroscientists say that the human brain can’t distinguish between a real event and a vividly imagined one. This has tripped me up when I talk about a piece of writing. If I talk about it, I trick my mind into thinking I’ve already written it. Then it’s difficult, arduous even, to actually get the writing done.

With worry, what happens is that we build up the worst of the emotional habits. No. Not worry itself, but what I like to call “personal superstitions.” Professional worriers make a habit of entertaining an unfounded belief―that they’re not safe unless they worry. It’s superstition. I’ve dealt with a lot of mine and as a result, I worry a lot less.

It has taken the practice of self-awareness and meditation to come to my conclusions:

First, contentment is not insipid nor an uninteresting state of mind, at all.

Second, worry isn’t so stimulating that it deserves a huge chunk of my time.

But for some folks worry is stimulating! And yet, studies show that worriers tend to be intelligent, creative people. It takes imagination to dream up worries.

My way of diminishing worry has been to expand connection with others and not isolate as much as I am inclined to. Nothing like the light of day that engaging with others brings, and then voila! My worries diminish. When I can talk freely about what’s worrying me, I can gain some perspective―that it’s often just a small thing casting a big shadow.

I try not to be the smartest person in the room. My friends tend to be more rational than I, too. Sometimes. So, when I start to express worry, luckily I’m not told to stop. We’re having a conversation and I get to make a more rational choice for myself in the moment. Try that. It may just help those worries subside.

These 7 Life Hacks Will Help You Get Ready for 2017 Like a Boss

Give yourself some credit. You done good. Say goodbye to 2016 with a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

My grandmother was always saying, “Count your blessings.” I just don’t remember hearing her complain. One of my dearest friends, Sandra, always says―at least once a day―“Be grateful.” She is consistently looking for an opportunity to give recognition and share appreciation.

Basically, these positive women were saying the same thing. Express gratitude. And why? Because you count blessings, not ill fortune. Misadventure isn’t for calculation, it’s for edification. It’s for opportunity―not least of all taking the opportunity to look in the mirror.

What you do is you take a good hard look at your successes. You emulate and reproduce success. You learn from failures. You take an inventory and magnify your strengths so you can diminish deficits.

You don’t want to sit too long in a success. You want to take actionable steps and keep moving. You don’t want to sit in a failure either. Wallowing in emotional paralysis is not going to reduce a deficiency. Learning sure will.

Self-help author, Melody Beattie says, ‘Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.’ Wallowing never accomplished that. And yet, I can say in all sincerity, I’m grateful for my many failures.

That’s right. And why? Because being grateful for the failure unlocks it and opens up acceptance. Gratitude in failure unlocks the lesson and unlocks breakthroughs, momentum, and improvement. When we adopt the attitude that failing isn’t stagnation or diminishment, we can make headway and elevate our experience.

It’s part of an equation―it gets a bit algebraic, but don’t freak out―because we’re adding good stuff, embracing impermanence, forgiveness, and the benefits of moving on.

Oh. And look at that! We’re moving on from 2016.

  • What choices are you going to make?
  • In what ways can you set yourself up for growth?
  • What person, place, or thing do you need to let go of?
  • What strength will you expand?
  • Where’s your level of acceptance and non-attachment?
  • What are you gonna do to infuse more gratitude into your life?

These 7 life hacks will help you get ready for 2017 like a boss:

  1. Express your gratitude.
  2. Emulate and reproduce success.
  3. Magnify your strengths.
  4. Take actionable steps to move forward.
  5. Keep learning. If you fail, it’s for edification, not calculation.
  6. Calculation is for counting blessings.
  7. Give space for gratitude to unlock the lesson.

Give yourself some credit. You done good. Say goodbye to 2016 with a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. I’m so anticipating a new life and it comes with not just a clean slate, but with lessons learned. Are you with me?

The Best Blog Post About “Story” You’re Going to Read

Passion implies a burning fire and fires exhaust themselves. I may very well be intense, amorous and excitable, but I detest being exhausted. These days I’m not interested in following my passion, living my passion, finding my passion. I’m interested in a commitment to action.

There are two kinds of story. There is external story. There is internal story. The more unrealistic and unreasonable you are perceived as being, the more external story there will be.

Do not be deceived. Your personal, internal story about you and the external story that others have about you will not match up. Not often. Not accurately. If you’re lucky you will come to appreciate the synergy between these two stories.

The simple fact of the matter is that there are going to be very few people who are going to connect positively to your self-narrative. Most people lack sufficient self-awareness to even handle their own story, much less be a dispassionate, fair-minded biographer.

That’s okay. As long as their story doesn’t interfere or create doubt about your story, there could be something to learn or something to let go of.

People will tell you your story anyway. When they do it’s an opportunity to check over your story and accept or reject what they say and then, well, story forth, as the old saying goes.

One external story I have heard from others is about passion. I seem to appear to be passionate to some people. Quite lazy and befuddled to others, but rather intense, amorous and excitable to most.

When it comes to passion, frankly I’m rather suspicious of it. Passion to me is  questionable, even disreputable―at least in relationships. Passion is unsustainable elsewhere.

If our relationship is hot, be prepared for it to cool off. If you have passion in business, as an entrepreneur, there better be other things you can scale quickly or adapt toward maintaining at a certain rate or level. Otherwise, you’ll both burn out and fade away. My my. Hey hey.

Passion is all very feel good on the ego. I’m grand and noble and have found my passion. I’m living my passion. Someone said, and they sounded very enlightened, too: “Take time to work through the process and know that, no matter what, you’ll be getting closer to where you want to be.” Why? Because passion.

Passion implies a burning fire and fires exhaust themselves. I may very well be intense, amorous and excitable, but I detest being exhausted. These days I’m not interested in following my passion, living my passion, finding my passion.

I’m interested in a commitment to action.

I wrote about this already, that I must have easily 100+ items on my to-do list. This week I am not going to get 100 things done. Not with 24 hours in a day. Not with all the passion in my Scorpionic stars.

I’m going to get things done because of my commitment to action. Just not 100+ Big List items.

When I ask myself the very calm question, “What 3 things do I need to accomplish that will guarantee this week will feel like a win?” it reins in the “passion” and directs it toward activity and away from agitation. It also highlights my problem with passion:

No matter what you think about passion―it’s about you. Your commitment to action is about others. Actionable steps in my day are about the service I provide as a freelancer. My commitment to action is about the people in my life and about making a difference in theirs.

Actionable steps are about providing benefit to your clients.

And here’s why I say this: Because I’m unrealistic and unreasonable.

This is, of course, an external story. And I’m fine with it because as an “unrealistic” person who has always made the “unreasonable” viable, I’ve come to value navigating through pain, interest and over to solutions and a good personal and professional sense of action.

I quote Derek Halpern a lot: Passion doesn’t pay the bills. Pain does. Find the pain. Offer relief. Get paid. Passion may help you feel good but it doesn’t do squat for anyone else.

Passion is a comfort zone issue. As Dr. Joyce Knudsen says, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.” Get into the taking action zone instead!

I’ve always been unrealistic and unreasonable. Way the hell before I started freelancing.

The Is That It Is

When my Yia Yia passed away and my family was in Greece, after 6 months my parents rightly wanted to know what I was going to do. It was unrealistic to go to Paris and spend 18 months there. It was unreasonable to have spent 2 years in Europe. I did it anyway.

When I returned to my hometown of New York City, I went to CCNY. I was a Creative Writing and a Film major. I found a mentor in professor and poet Constantinos Lardas. Gus loved me and my writing.

He used to look at me with a disconcerting mix of pity and tender irascibility (you  may have to be Greek to understand that one).

One gorgeous May afternoon, I asked him as we walked toward St. Nicholas Terrace, “Gus? Is something wrong? You seem upset with me.”

“I’m not upset with you. I’m wondering what you’re supposed to do.”

I stopped and looked at him. “What do you mean?” His tone of voice made me nervous.

“You should have been born in the 18th or 19th centuries. You’re a poet and that’s all you’ll ever be. The world is not known for treating people like you very well at all and I’m worried.”

It was unreasonable that by mid-terms I was excused from all my writing classes for the remainder of the semester because I had already earned a 4.0 in those courses.

It was unrealistic that I would share the stage at university poetry readings with Amiri Baraka and Allan Ginsberg. Or that Gary Dourdan would back me up on percussion at readings in the East Village.

It was unreasonable that a tenured Columbia University professor would invite me to participate with MFA writing students, to read and share work when I was barely an undergrad. Those guys hated me.

My culinary career was unrealistic. I would head to China Town several times a week and walk into the manager’s office with product and a receipt to be reimbursed. I’d rush into the kitchen to exercise improvisational cooking like I had a Food Network show.

Totally unreasonable.

Moving to Las Vegas to “seek my fortune” was unrealistic. Finishing my degree and changing my career was unreasonable. It was unrealistic for me to attempt a Master’s degree.

In comparison, maybe becoming a freelance writer was practical and tenable after all. Whatever external story people have about me, in all honesty, I got stones, my friend.

I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid of the future. I can’t see it well because the darkness covers it. The future doesn’t make sense to me. But I’m not fearful of it.

What I’m afraid of is errors of perception. When I’ve screwed up (and yes, I have a litany of screw-ups), it’s always been because of an error of perception, an inability to see the “is that it is.” That’s something that belongs to me.

I was in a relationship, seems like several lifetimes ago, that I wrongly perceived as being detached and disengaged.

The error was that I perceived us traveling the road of life separately. Like we were on a road trip in two separate cars and that was interpreted as a misadventure, a tragedy, catastrophic.

I could not have been more wrong! I could not have been more immature, inexperienced, more maladaptive.

In Life the is that it is is that we sure as hell are in different vehicles and thankfully so! Even if we were conjoined, she still was not me, she still was an entity of my environment like I was for her.

This is a great thing―not a catastrophe. The only real adversity was the error in perception that ended the relationship and sent my life spiraling out.

If I’m here to facilitate your transition into a new life, or to be there in the capacity of a catalyst for the intelligible or the possible in your life, then I am damn proud that I could do that.

Did you learn something? Did you get something meaningful? Good.

My new life is about to begin. I can’t see it worth a damn. There are no navigational reference points. The sky is dark and starless. And yet, not one catastrophic tragedy. Just life in my environment in the is that it is.

Shakespeare said

There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures. 

In other words, Life moves like the tides and seizing the highest tide leads us to success. If we let the high tide pass us by, the voyage of life gets miserable. I’m put to sea on such a tide right now and I have to take life’s current as it’s offered. Or lose. But I will not lose. So don’t you be afraid either.

Live today as a life unto itself.

Live today with a focus on meaning-making. In psychology, meaning-making is the process of how persons construe, understand, or make sense of life events, relationships, and the self.

We gather information, we have experiences, we give them meaning, we form an impression, we act on what we believe we’ve learned. That is what it is to be human.

We then construct a life-world.

Our life-world is made up of all the immediate experiences, activities, and connections that make up our environment. Remember, anyone, anything, and anyplace that isn’t you is your environment.

When we grow in meaning-making and in our perceptions of ourselves, then other people, places, and things become intelligible to us, and all the darkness in the world doesn’t make any difference in our reality. Or on our internal story.

When I was in that Road Trip Relationship, my openness to and awareness of the world was what was darkened. The perception of traveling in separate cars down the road of life was unacceptable because it represented a threat to my life-world at the time.

The problem with the perception error I committed is that it did not coincide with reality and rather than accepting it as a challenge, I left.

And I began to focus on my internal story. I continued, in fact, to persist in being unreasonable. The voyage continues, with a dark and starless sky. With no sea monsters, no siren’s song. The story, no matter how unrealistic it seems, continues.

Appreciate the synergy