Confession. It’s been nine months since my last blog entry. And before I get to a recipe I’ve found for getting awesomeness back, there’s a bit of a back story. Last fall, I worked to heal a minor tweak in my back, and it took some time to get my rock climbing mojo back. At the same time, a big work project consumed most of my creative juices.
Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park
In April, I got my climbing groove back on in Joshua Tree National Park, thanks to Matt Walker and Inner Passage. That story will soon become a back story blog entry. In June, I had a surprise ambush date to Munich, courtesy of the Best Boyfriend in the World. That also deserves a back story blog entry – it’s a totally fun story to tell! All of the awesomeness couldn’t compete with this nagging problem – I had neglected my passion project. I had given into resistance, I was losing the inspiration I had received last summer from the Management Innovation Exchange and World Domination Summit. Heck, I felt like I was even letting Kid President down after he gave us all such a wonderful Pep Talk. I had yet to advance my plans to make the world more awesome, and the resulting lack of personal integrity meant enthusiasm gained in Joshua Tree and Munich had a slow, persistent leak.
When I came up with the framework for What Makes You Come Alive, I was looking forward to an autumn filled with rock climbing and connecting with old friends. And then…my back, which had been sore for the entire summer, got worse. I stopped climbing, and tried a light jog. Only to wake up the next morning with sharp jabbing back pain as I tried to put on my pants. The diagnosis – a torn muscle. Not horrible or completely debilitating. But I’m out of rock climbing for six weeks, my three-day weekend road-trip became impossible, and work started picking up. Without my outlet for creative mind-body expression, without my social circle of friends from climbing, with pain in my back, with fatigue from several busy work-weeks in a row, I feel old and tired. Not alive. But cranky.
My mind follows my body. I’m a productive writer because I have a healthy body. I go to the gym nearly every day to clear my mind and let my subconscious work on problems for me. I haven’t been to the gym in almost a month. I’m still struggling to find a new way to balance stress and find physical relaxation.
“Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves…it can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
At the beginning of the year, I began to explore the topic of resistance. And since I found a name for this little gremlin, it’s been fairly relentless in its efforts to muck up my mojo and creativity, despite my attempts to go with the flow. I’ve embarked upon a number of creative pursuits, such as my improv theater class. I thought that practicing saying “yes…!” to scenes for eight weeks would help root out resistance. It worked. For a bit. Then class was over….and the many blog entries in my head about the experience failed to write themselves. Continue reading →
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle
In my previous post, I asked, Are You Resisting? My answer is yes. I am resisting clarifying my vision of my life, of this blog, of my work. So, I did what I do best when I’m resisting: read, research, and reflect. I used to call it procrastination, until I realized that my resistance usually means something. Sometimes it’s full of shit, but this time my pause meant that there was something to be figured out. Thus, a diversion on my path to clarify my vision for 2012: What is resistance all about? Continue reading →
If you’ve endeavored to sit down and figure out your New Year’s adventure, resolution, consecration, theme, grand scheme, take-over-the-world-and-take-no-prisoners plan, and you find – “Squirrel!” – yourself – “Oh, look, a new email.” – distracted – “hahahahaha, I love that video!” – perhaps you might – “this is stupid” – be facing – “I don’t need no stinking resolution” – a little resistance. Continue reading →
A new friend of mine wrote a wonderful blog entry about asking beautiful questions. As a researcher and Professor of Sociology, questions are critically important in her field. The beautiful ones, she broke it down for us, will always lead to more questions.
“That is the beauty of such a question, it doesn’t stop. A beautiful question asks everyone who comes into contact with it to respond. Not everyone will respond of course, that’s free will. Beautiful questions don’t rest, but rather are generative. These are the questions that create more than they stay still. Beautiful questions inspire discussion, debate, engagement, inquiry and reflection.
“Beautiful questions are also really HARD.”
Tonight, about a week after being introduced to the concept of beautiful questions, another friend asked a group of us one of the most beautiful questions I’ve ever heard.
One of the things that I love about rock climbing, is that I can hold all other things constant and fight the good fight. There are a number of “good fights” in life, but I’m learning that the primary one is the struggle between my True Self and my Ego. When I’m on the wall – indoors or out, it’s just me trying to interact with an inanimate puzzle. I can forget about everything else in my life and practice working through my fears, my perceptions, my emotions. If you win that fight, you set yourself up with a personal power, a resilience, a method of renewing your enthusiasm to help you in any other endeavor you choose. Continue reading →
One of my guilty pleasures is to grab a cup of coffee on the weekend and read over the transcript of advice columnist Carolyn Hax’s Friday live chat. Why guilty? Because when you get your head wrapped around your own axle, it’s sometimes good to be reminded that everyone has their own set of issues. And Carolyn gives such practical, non-nonsense advice, that I almost always learn or reinforce some “get over your own ego” lesson that I needed to hear.
There are times, though, when the problems people face are sobering. Repeatedly, you read stories of people actively resisting therapy or counseling as an option. Just last Friday in Carolyn’s chat, one person wrote in about her chronically unhappy friend. Carolyn recommended encouraging the friend to get screened for depression:
“For understandable reasons, going from zero to therapy is actually more difficult than getting screened, in part because therapy often involves a burdensome search for someone who offers the type of therapy you need; is a good fit as far as location, hours and chemistry; and who is affordable and/or accepts any insurance, much less your plan. Plus there’s the obstacle that I find totally crazy-making, the perception of therapy as an admission of weakness, nuttiness or defeat, none of which is true.” [emphasis added] Continue reading →
This Thanksgiving, I believe we should not only give thanks, but we should recognize that sometimes it’s damned hard to give thanks. Some of us may be unemployed. People are occupying squares around the world to vent anything but their gratitude. Some of our loved ones may be deployed in a war zone. We ourselves, or our loved ones may be hurting with illness that may or may not go away. Maybe nothing’s really wrong, but we’re just stubbornly holding onto that thing that’s not going the way we want. Yes, I know that today is not supposed to be the day where we count the number of ways that the we are or our world is broken. But what if that’s all you can do?
Sometimes, you just need to sneak up on it.
Well, if gratitude eludes you, you sneak up on it, of course.
The first head-fake into gratitude is to try the opposite. If gratitude eludes you, try longing. Continue reading →
Sometimes, someone comes at us with something we can’t really understand. There’s a word or concept that’s new to our vernacular. There are a number of possible responses. Maybe we cast a furrowed, skeptical brow in their direction. Maybe we nod, as if we want to seem knowledgeable, when we really have no idea. Maybe we take it on board, like tapping our feet to the rhythm of a song to which we don’t know how to dance. Maybe we even recite it back, like poetry whose meaning escapes us, but we like the sound of the words. Perhaps we discount or ignore it, even if it perks our interest just a bit. We’re busy, so what’s your point?