7.21.2014

Moment

Current Reading: Spartan Up by Joe De Sena
                               Paradise in Plain Sight by Karen Miller
Current Music: Morrison Hotel by The Doors
Mood: To many beers yesterday
Smells: Trash
Temperature: 71 degrees
Thoughts: There is no hand book on how to be a human being never mind a guide book on optimal health with a chronic disease…I think I will right one.

7.12.2014

Endurance & Elegance ~ Life with NMO


Your disease is not going away.
What you are about to read is not a cure.
Read on to get better.

Disease is not a living suicide. Society has conditioned us to think that if we have a disease then we must be sick.  It is the biggest obstacle that you will ever face when living with a chronic illness.  A shift in mindset can set you free. Do not be paralyzed by the fear of change.

Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Health is not the absence of disease; good health is defined by what we (you) choose to define as optimal living. If you live in a state of illness and do nothing to improve your wellness then a life of illness is your state of optimal living.

You cannot define health by what it is not. Define health by how you choose to live.

Think about that last sentence. Sit with it. Can you define it? Does it make you mad (mad at me for asking) or mad at the answer you give yourself? Do not deceive yourself. Be life-enhancing; you do not need a special thing to answer the question. The suffering has already been your teacher, coach and mentor.

Get committed and overcome that obstacle (fear, pain, suffering) that is holding you back…that is keeping you from getting out of bed, or off the sofa.  Create a personal practice that keeps you in charge of disease.

Disease is unpredictable. You cannot practice for that, but good health is predictable when you have a good practice in place.

Disease can be a rite-of-passage to transcend the notion of what good health means to you.  For most, good health has become this far off alien thing rather than ideas that is within us at all times.

You know how to suffer.  Life with disease means there will be periods of suffering to endure. The question to ask is “What can I do with my ability to suffer?” Pain from doing something feels a lot better than pain from doing nothing. Life with disease is filled with pain from doing nothing.  Disease-pain arises as a mystery from within us. The body fighting the body and most times the mind is not even invited to the match.

Disease-pain can teach us how to bring purposeful suffering into our lives. Yep, purposeful suffering…most likely voted to be the worst motivational topic of all time. Stay with me. You can now endure more pain than you ever imagined possible. You can handle pain and come out on the other side.

Suffering is an opportunity to improve your condition.  Disease is always on the horizon. You do not have a fix. The only escape is to practice how to endure elegantly. This practice will teach you how to stop hurting yourself and others around you. It will teach you the awareness that you are alive and with that you can cultivate the clarity to be purposeful with your suffering.


Elegance ~ doing something with as few steps as possible.
Endurance ~ living with a disease with as few steps as possible.

What follows is my personal practice for living with a chronic illness. Use mine or create your own.  Whatever you choose be sure to share it with others living with chronic illness.

Plants: Eat plants, lots of them. I am not asking you to go on a diet but I am asking you to change your menu.  In the beginning there was the Garden of Eden, not the chemical laden junk vending machine that only produced disease. Fruits and vegetables create a healthy life, processed foods create disease. Plant-based food is elegant medicine without side effects. Plant-based food only create optimal health. If you want to endure your illness eat plants.

Power: Exercise, move your body. Exercise is an effective drug that treats the whole body. Good health is not achieved with a single step. Taking a pill or giving yourself a daily shot is instant gratification but at what cost? Most people I talk with who live with chronic illness choose not to move because it hurts. This is where purposeful suffering can become your teacher. All that time sitting and suffering with your disease has given you the strength to get up and do anything. So use it, do not let your suffering die in vain. Walk to the mailbox, then to the end of your driveway, then to the end of the block. Try running or biking or swimming or whatever your heart yearns to try. Exercise to compete in your own life. Good things will happen when you put energy into moving your body.

One last thing…get outside.

Prayer: Pray, meditate, yoga, quiet the mind. Create sacred time in your life. Sacred is elegance and endurance in action. Let the mystery of your life talk to you. Stay with that mystery, it will take you where you need to go. If you are going to ask God for help or ask people to pray for you on your behalf…earn those prayers. I believe in the power of prayer. What I do not believe in is waiting around for prayers to work. Go out and place effort into the prayers that are being offered up on your behalf.

Purpose: No the “why” of why you want to be healthy. To be an example for your children. To be an example for your community.  To enjoy your spouse well into your old age. Life is not complicated when your are honest with yourself.  Be purposeful.

To finish,

I am writing this for myself as a reminder of how I think about optimal health.

Every time I go on a walk, run or bike ride I am carrying the weight of the whole NMO community. Nobody asked this of me. For some reason the weight is there. What I know is if I can live these words and be an example then it will help at least one person to live with optimal health…and carrying that weigh feels great.


Heart of a servant
Strength of a fighter.

John Craig

7.10.2014

Soul Scrubbing Series ~ Are Men Obsolete?

Conversations, I am lucky enough in life (blessed is the right word) to get the opportunity to have interesting conversation with lots of different people. This has birth a passion project for me that I am calling the “Soul Scrubbing Series”. The goal of the series is to bring to you interesting topics which deserve a deep dive of thought and hopefully spurs conversations in your own life.

As with all the films in this series the film is best enjoyed in full screen with the outside world turn off. If this film resonates with you then please share it with the people in your life who need to hear this message.

This is #6 in the series. “Are Men Obsolete

6.30.2014

Meditation on Waiting ~ Short Story


Not sure why I need to write this down.  This is the third lifetime I have shared this.

I clasp my wings, put on socks and go back into the world. Maybe this time it will do some good.

By my account, 18,250 days wasted from waiting around for things to change.

You are timelessness stuck in time.
You are consciousness waiting to re-awake.
You are complaining, bragging and avoiding life at all times.

The problem with waiting is all the time wasted.  Nothing good has come from all this waiting. A wasted life of “what if”’ and “could-have-beens” is all that remains. A mind filled up with non-memories, non-dreams and a constant echo. Days pass by and nothing happens but the waiting…days are filled up with sitting on the sofa, then moving outside to watch the grass grow, counting the leaves on the trees.

I flush the toilet, wash my hands. Antibacterial soap…I can never remember if I should stop using it. Does it kill too much of the good stuff? I dry my hands with a white cotton towel.

Mixed blessings of truths and tasks that you must wait for the end. You must wait for the light to grow dark so it can then once again transform back into light.  This process must be repeated till eternity. Every being gets the opportunity to hold the understanding that we are trapped in a box named “reality”.

Keep your faith. Question your beliefs.  This alone will save you from the transmigration.

There is no salvation in the waiting. There is no solitude found in the waiting.  What is left is only the question. The same answer running across the brain waves. Thoughts dissolve into heartbeats. Heartbeats are transformed into a curse. You become afflicted with the remainder of the time left to wait.

The Beatles, White album. This will do. I slide the vinyl record out of its sleeve. I place the needle in the black groove and I listen. Lennon got it right. That’s why he was shot. Deep loss for all. McCartney came close, Harrison eventually got it right. Ringo, drummer died on his own vomit.

I practice the “Waiting”. I will sit on a meditation cushion for 25mins, bell to bell, waiting, breathing, repeating, sitting in nothingness. I get off the mat. I want a drink, not water to quench my thirst but bourbon to numb the mind.  Mindfulness is a tool to be a better cog in the wheel, to become better at being this thing called human.

I chop vegetables, I focus. I wash the dishes, I focus. I brush my teeth, I focus. This is how I fill the empty space. Mindfulness is a needed trick to waste time.

I have always been fascinated with how society deals with the waiting. The world is at all times falling apart and at all times healing itself, growing anew. Rebuilding constantly arising as if there are twin Gods of creation and deconstruction at work.

The Beatles White album, side three, not very good for what most people consider to be their masterpiece.  Side one, “Dear Prudence”...it makes coming back here worth it.

Life is spent being mildly interested in what is going on around you.  At all times thinking that they have the problem, it's never “I”. The problem "they” have is that…”they” have to watch my suffering, my suffering is greater than yours.  Suffering is not a contest. Comprehending suffering is a pursuit. This lesson is never learned. That suffering is akin to love. No matter how great or horrible, it's all equal. The suffering of a child born into starvation is no greater than the suffering of a child born into privilege. Suffering is an experiential exercise in the “waiting”.

Grace = Luck…Luck is grace, take notice.

There are many different ways someone can commit suicide, but the act of leaving one's own body seems to be the only act of suicide that society cares about.

The suicide in waiting is the greatest sin...to be alive is a gift that is created specifically for you.

To sit and waste a life to complain about the whatnot’s and the don’t-haves is worse than if you nailed Jesus to the cross yourself. Living suicide, that is a form of torture that causes the waiting to happen for lifetimes to come.

Give me a good narcissist that is a person who enjoys life. Narcissists...they see light.

You would think that I would miss sitting in the clouds…watching and listening. The life in the soil is so much more enjoyable.  The soil is in constant movement. The soil never waits.

Consciousness, awakening, Christ, Buddha: call it whatever you like.  I call it the WAITING.

Until next time…..

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da





6.25.2014

Moment

Current Reading: The Spooky Art by Norman Mailer

                                The Big Empty by Norman Mailer
Current Music: Lazaretto by Jack White
                           Beauty & Ruin by Bob Mould
Mood: Ready to go
Smells: Coffee
Sounds: Love
Temperature: 71 degrees 
Thoughts: Waiting & Wanting = Wasted Life

6.23.2014

Wisdom of Food ~ Short Film

This film is #5 in my "Soul Scrubbing Series."  The wisdom of food, a return to yourself.

As with all the film in this series the film is best enjoyed in full screen with the outside world turn off. If this film resonates with you then please share it with the people in your life who need to hear this message.

6.18.2014

Life with Disease & Other Random Stuff


“No matter how far you my dig into the the depths of your soul, eventually you will come out an asshole” -Norman Mailer

This is a good starting point to what I am about to share with you.

I live with a disease. Most of you reading this most likely know this about me. My feelings about life with a disease can be summed up in two words: nothing special.

We live in the age of compromise where we all carry the weight of diseases. It is nothing special; honestly it's akin to a time when making it through the winter was a hit or miss experience.

Every generation carries the sins-of-life. Our generation has disease.

Your disease may be self-inflicted, you may have smoked and cheeseburger-ed your way to disease or maybe the air and water carried the disease into your bloodstream.

Disease is the product of the past fifty years.  Corporations have been built as temples to the grandeur of illness. Disease is economics. Get a disease someone will profit from it. Someone will dedicate their life to the study of that disease. Someone will give up and sit on the sofa waiting for death to come.

What can a disease teach us about us? It is an "us", it's not a "you" or "I". It's not even a "we"; it's an “us.” Disease is now a social thing. There are clubs, groups, organizations, companies, schools, restaurants, chat rooms, social media sites, tour groups, cruises and vacation destinations all built to serve the ill.  Disease is an industry. That may seem too hard to accept, nonetheless it seems to be truth. Can you argue my point? How many jobs would be lost if disease went away?

Want to dip your toes into the cosmic quagmire? Google “seed, antibiotic, lobbyist” and see how many companies produce seeds to grow food and the very same company produces the antibiotic to cure the disease that may arise from the seed. Circle of life, circle of cash flow, sins of now.

Life is filled up with simple solutions, this has been my lesson learned. Look for the obvious. Walking and water, breathing and smiling...these have been by far my most favorite solutions.

Recently added to the list (forgive the subtle use of words to come next): if your shit stinks that means you are not well. Eat better food.

Simple solutions. Notice how we will stay away from anything that stinks accept for what we produce. Take the time and notice your bodily waste. The body can cure us if we only listen to it (or in this case smell it). Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's gross, I get it. But do you want to escape a life of disease? Truly we can exit the matrix. At this point, please refer to my opening quote. It has deep meaning on many levels.

Simple solutions arise if we only take the time to notice. If you put things in your body that create stink, it creates disease. If you place foods into your body that create an odorless passing, that creates good health.

When I am a healthy person living with my disease in a state of optimal health I feel like a prophet who will preach to anyone who will listen to the message.  When I am struck down by the disease I feel as if I am a fake; a person who could not live his truth.  Then I came to understand that the word "truth" should be replaced with the word "task".

Let me go off-subject to paint a picture about truth & task.

Replace the "truth of” living your beliefs with the “task of" living your faith. This simple flip of words opens up a new way to think about old ideologies.

"Truth" is someone else's idea on how we should live. But "task"...living with a task can give us purpose to live life with effort.  Having a disease is nothing special but it is important work if you choose to do it well.

With the flip of these words it will help us to create less harm in the world. It will help to teach us to live in this age of compromise. Disease is a product of this age but for those of us that live with a disease, we can not only live in the truth of not slowly dying from our illness but also the the task of showing others how to live with optimal health.  

My task is to help others lead a life filled with health, creativity and simplicity infused with the “heart of a servant” and the “strength of a fighter”.

And that takes practice.

We need to do the work in the soil before we can ever part the clouds.

6.13.2014

Working Script ~ Draft 1


(Are you replaceable...disposable...obsolete?) 

We are conditioned to sacrifice ourselves.
We are expected to stand in front of our families; we are told that we need to work or we have no value. Our expendability is expressed in many different ways.

(What if we stopped doing and started being?)
The question is how do we move from being humans-doings-things to simply being a human-being? Your life has been a mix of cultural expectations and biological conditioning.

(What if we stop thinking about how to be a man and started thinking about how to be a human?)

There is the existence of gender roles, but to manifest a full life there must be unequivocal intention to radically transform male thinking.
What if we stopped doing and started being? What if we tuned into the abundance of the universe and just started to allow creation to work through us. Jesus summed this up in the sermon on the mount. He exhorted us to look at the birds in the sky and told us to emulate them. In short he expected us to become human beings.

(Transcending the notion)

Men, especially fathers, have always been considered to be expendable, but this notion must change for the world to be a better place.
Are men expendable? No!


(Are Men Expendable?)

As Einstein has said “we do not solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it.” 

6.11.2014

Published ~ Edible Allegheny

You can see photos & read about it (HERE)
You can listen to radio spot about it (HERE)


6.09.2014

Moment

Current Reading: On God by Norman Mailer
Current Music: Beauty & Ruin By Bob Mould
Mood: Happy
Smells: Coffee
Sounds: Running water
Temperature:63 degrees 
Thoughts: Happiness is the joy we feel when striving for our potential

6.04.2014

PORTRAIT

Its not to often that I post pics of portraits that I do but this one I wanted to share. 
If you want to see more go (here)


6.02.2014

You Are Not Broken ~ Short Film

It all started with a conversation that I turn into a blog post.

I received numerous e-mails from people who wanted to agree but felt that they could not, they felt that they were broken.  If this film resonates with you then please share it with the people in your life who need to hear this message.



5.29.2014

Happiness Is



“Happiness is the joy we feel when striving for our potential.” 
  This is how the ancient Greeks defined happiness.  

Pretty good definition, isn’t it? Where did I stumble upon this ancient wisdom?

Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Yep, I watch it.  All the enlightenment you could ever want shoved between commercials selling us mind-numbing drugs. Circle of life….you too can achieve happiness right after this next sponsored announcement.

It has always amazed me that we cannot master the teachings that are 5,000 years old. The answers to most, if not all, of life's problems have been given to us from our ancestors, repeatedly.  Yet we search for new answers to old problems in which the answers have already been given to us.

With deep thoughts I ponder this cosmic question “Why can we not get it right?” Blame God or the Devil or the lack of both; could it be that our only guidance is the two pound muscle that is placed in the dark empty cavern commonly known as our skull. Isn't it weird that the most powerful thing in the universe never even gets to feel the wind or see the sun? A life of blackness floating in goo projecting electrical impulses that creates thoughts that it will never get to see.

This is our guiding light? Two pounds drowning in cerebrospinal fluid trying to forget that it was given all the answers in the first place.  Do you ever think that God purposely forgot that s/he was God just so s/he could ride a roller coaster and experience it for the very first time?

Experience it for the very first time? There must be some wisdom in that sentence

The answer to everything is in experiencing this very moment and surrendering to it.

This sentence came to me after sitting on a meditation cushion for 25 minutes earlier that day. I wish I could say it arose from within my consciousness or that the universe split itself in two and handed me this divine wisdom but, alas, it came from a tribe elder that sat across the room from me drinking coffee and rubbing his bald head.  I asked a question and he gave me the answer from within his own personal experience.

The reason we cannot experience happiness is: because we are used to being told what happiness is instead of discovering our own potential for ourselves.

The tribe elder pontificates: This is the 5,000 year old mistake that we keep making. Somebody somewhere thinks that they have got it right and then they organize their beliefs, then proceed to spread it to the masses. Life is not about being told, it is about doing. Organizing anything and everything, no matter how well intended, will become bastardized over time (simple examples include religion, politics, academics...etc.) They all share cult thinking. Sometimes it maybe good to be in a cult but unfortunately you never get to experience an original thought.

Practice, surrender, sit down and shut up, then repeat…this is the one hand clapping as the other hand slaps your original face.  The face you had before your parents were born, the face you had before the stars were placed in the sky.

Happiness is this moment. Go discover it.

Go manifest a universe.

5.20.2014

Moment

Current Reading: Capital in the 21st Century by Thomas Piketty
Current Music: 4:13 Dream by The Cure
Mood: Stale
Smells: Coffee
Sounds: Nothing
Temperature: 50 degrees
Thoughts: Time Lapse & Meditation, morning project

5.16.2014

Get Uncomfortable


I have the greatest portfolio of “almost & what ifs” in the world. Seriously it's the premier collection of missed opportunities. It is the top-ranking accumulation of me thinking “I should go do that.”  It is a testament to daydreaming laziness.

This body-of-non-work, unwritten, never-published creativity is filled up with music, photos, short stories, deep thoughts, impactful films that would have changed the world. Yes, ushering into world peace to the planet, curing of disease, feeding the hungry, and helping him to finally fall in love with you…blissful life for all...only if I created the work.

Deep apologies to all. I did not.

Instead I sat frozen, watching the compositions drift in and out of my opportunity to capture it.

Arts only purpose is to serve. We can do three thing in the image of God: love, forgive and create.  Why is it so damn hard to create something new and share it??

At this exact moment I am forcing myself to write this. Why bother? There is beer in the fridge, 600 channels of tv to watch and an extremely non-motivated human who would rather take a nap.

But I sit at the keyboard typing, backspacing and deleting my way to what your are reading now. As I type I am listening to music by an artist that I am endlessly impressed with the flow of work he puts out. The room that I sit in is filled with photos, guitars, paintings, camera gear, journals, and books. It is a sacred cathedral to the act of creativity and I am sitting on the altar.  This is a good place to insert a false prophet joke…it's been my life's secret ambition to be a self-proclaimed false prophet…just a little FYI about me.

I keep staring at this photo (above). Novice - Expert...and the arrows are pointing in the same direction. This is the lesson I must learn: there is not much that separates the two. You must move in the same direction to create. I ask myself “am I an expert or novice at the act of creating?” Sometimes I think the only difference between novice and expert is the amount of taxes that you pay in a year. Many so-called experts fall back into the world of being a novice; not having the passion to create daily. Many novices sit blissful in the creating process never needing the glory of the outside world's applause. These few are the enlightened ones (yep they get on my nerves to).

About a year ago I stopped referring to myself as a photographer. Composition junkie...that's a better description of what I do.  The label of photographer created conflict in me that I had to live up to. The label meant that my other artistic callings were of lesser importance. I am infinitely curious about creativity and the affect of the creative process on the world. See, I truly believe that I could have brought about world peace only if…..

Last week I created a short film that I am very proud of.  In truth I am proud of the experience of creating it. I faced the resistance of my thoughts. That was the outcome that I love about the film.  It was in the doing, the creating, in confronting the uncomfortable. I am in my car waiting at a red light on the corner and outside the driver's side window are two people singing and asking for money. They look…weathered, authentic...they have a story...I feel it. Immediately I tell myself that this could go in my collection of “almost & what ifs.”

For some mystical reason I drive home and grab my gear and go back to that same intersection, wondering the whole time on the drive back if they already left. I figure out questions in my head to ask them. I was thinking about framing, exposure and music. I pull back into the plaza and they are still there. I park my car and set up my gear. I proceed to walk up to them (big personal achievement for me) and I tell them that I am a photographer and short filmmaker and that I would like to record them for a few minutes. I hand them a twenty dollar bill and they agree to play a couple of songs and answer my questions.

Validated; I faced my fear and talked to strangers. This is big for me. At that moment I created something new that is going into the "real portfolio", which is to say, stuff that people can actually see, actually search in Google for, something that will be achieved on my blog for the foreseeable future.

Next week I will start two new projects. I am moving in a direction of changing myself to be uncomfortable. Why? I need to stretch and go where I have never gone before. Creating is discovery first, repetition second. I have realized that I am good at doing this but as of late I fear that I have been doing the same thing. I am discovering that I am getting too good at repetition. I need to play some bad notes, need to see out of focus, I need to play in traffic.

Get uncomfortable, 1000 failures…this is the conversation that I been having with a good friend of mine.

How do you get better at creating stuff?

Get uncomfortable.

5.15.2014

Keepsake ~ Vecere & Craig

Second new tune this week. We go jazzy on this one. Its either cold beer music or early morning hot coffee music, you pick.

5.12.2014

White Noise ~ Vecere & Craig

Here is the latest track from the ongoing lifetime pursuit of creating something new.

5.07.2014

2 Friends, 4 Years, Vagabonding Across America ~ Short Film



I sit at a red light, on the side on the road are these two people sing the lyrics "work my whole life to save enough money just to by a coffin." I drive home grab my gear and come back and make this film. I have to say this is a much watch.

5.05.2014

Therapy or not to Therapy?



There is nothing wrong with me.  I do not need therapy. 

Yes there is and yes you do. 

Everything that you feel is overwhelming and intense. You can't stop thinking about it. You feel disconnected. Your relationships are stressed. You have reoccurring  headaches and other random bodily function meltdowns. Loved ones have told you that they’re concerned about you.

People need therapy. Lots and lots of it. People need long drawn out conversations about what's going on in their minds. Your thoughts are damaging the universe right now. This awful "poor me", "it's not my fault", blame-that-person-over-there-thinking is destroying our world. I am telling Al Gore, Jesus Christ and your Mother on you, unless you are a mother causing those bad demons to seep into the world. Then I am going directly to Jesus. You better hope for reincarnation because your karma needs a second chance at salvation.

Why will you not go to therapy? Why? I know why.

The word "therapy" makes you want to kill yourself (don’t do that, direct path to Hell).

"Therapy" is a bad word word.  People do not like it.

Sorry to all you working therapists out there but it's true.  People don’t like "therapy".

Most people do not like you because you are a therapist (do-gooder, know-it-all). If people did like therapists you would have paid off your student loans by now. C’mon, therapy is nothing more than repeating the same theories and the same whatnots to fresh faces who are seekers of new excuses.

Therapy needs a new name.  Maybe Brain Scrub, Thought Detox, Chakra Cleanse or The-brain-is-body-part-too-dummy-give-it-some-damn-attention-a-hole.

I had a conversation today with a gentleman about a future film project. I asked him how he deals with breaking through the therapy aspect part of his work with clients to get to the real stuff, the future building. His response, “People are not broken, I do not do therapy. This is what I teach people about themselves.” I quickly retort back, “Did you read my article on “Excuse-er?”

I do not know if I agreed with him or not but I sure did like hearing it.

“You are not broken”. People need to hear that more often.  I find that most people will not go to therapy for the simple reason of not wanting to feel like they're broken.

The mind is a two pound muscle that needs to be treated like any other muscle in your body.

Take it our for a walk, let it breathe in some fresh air, do some light stretching, let out the lizard/monkey parts of your brain and have some fun, quit letting the neocortex layer take away the fun.  Give your brain an evolutionary spring cleaning every once in awhile.

We will go to the doctor for the slightest pain in our body.  Takes pills, go to rehab, have stuff injected into our skin, have stuff sucked out by the gob-fulls, but having a conversation about what's going on in our brain….no, nadda, not gonna happen. I am not telling that stranger about my problems.

Socrates ~ “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Maybe so but is that therapy? Get a brain coach, walk in the woods, write in your journal, have truthful conversations with anyone and everyone.

In the end facing ones own demons may be the answer. Taking the time to examine the hows, whats and whys of your life.  Discovering the rights and wrongs that you have done and that may have been done to you.

No matter what you may feel about therapy, I do not think you are broken either.



5.01.2014

Moment

Current Reading: Integral Buddhism by Ken Wilber
Current Music: Radio by Esperanza Spalding 
Mood: Foggy, been fighting a head cold & losing.
Smells: Coffee
Sound: Running water
Temperature: 56 degrees 
Thoughts: Excuses are as thick as water and as damaging as a flood. 

4.30.2014

Are You an Excuse-er?



Excuses are as thick as water and as damaging as a flood.  

Stop giving me excuses for the “whatever” in your life. Stop giving me excuses for something that you do not want to face. Stop giving me excuses.

Industries are built around excuses. You want to get rich? Sell excuses. People love excuses.  I watch daily as people purchase pre-packaged failure (a.k.a the excuses we re-name the cure).

Look around and see how much failure people purchase: books, pills, workout equipment, quick-fix anything, 30 days to a better anything...the list goes on to infinity.

When we purchase something we can place blame on the failed product and not on ourselves.

I actually know “so called self-improvement specialists” that love to see the failure in the students in the workshops they teach. For the record, these people teach world class workshops with beneficial information. But here's the catch: they know that your are not going to apply what they are offering up to you. If you did, they would quickly be out of business. A good future business model is in continually selling to the “excuse-ers”.   Ninety nine percent of the students will never apply the knowledge. Only 1% actually does apply the knowledge and they become the testimonials to help market to the future “excuse-ers”.

We can all see in other people how excuses are effecting their lives, but can you see the excesses in your own life? What excuses do you daily tell yourself? What is stopping you from getting on the correct path? What is blocking your trail?

Want to know what people hate?

Solutions.

At this point you are saying “no” to yourself. You are saying that “I love solutions, I am in search of solutions.”

People hate solutions, especially simple solutions. Simple solutions mean that you will need to do the work.  Put forth the effort. Make the change. Face your excuses.

Excuses give us room to insert doubt. They give us permission to rule out that the effort will create change. The oil, dairy, big pharma and cigarette industries are all in the business of selling us doubt. All too often when we are present with doubt, doubt will be the excuse we will pick, be it dirty, be it lazy, be it disease. Doubt is an excuse.

Doubt is not truth. Doubt does not create a better world. Doubt creates debt, disease and death.

People often present me with their excuses (problems). I give them my two cents worth of my opinion and tell them to do the work (solution building). They respond by telling me that they never thought of "it" that way before and that I should be the next Tony Robbins.

After some time passes I try to follow up with these people.  Shockingly they have not done the work (living with the excuse) to create their own solution. Maybe I would be a failure as the next Tony Robbins (that is my excuse, life experience)….maybe, just maybe if I was six feet tall with extremely white teeth and charged people thousands of dollars before listening to their excuses...just maybe then I could be the next Tony Robbins.  Or at least rich.

Dream big,
Do the work.

4.15.2014

Not Doing Wrong ~ Think You are Right?


I wrote this about two weeks ago. I have been insecure to publish it.

Since completing this, a 16 year old boy walked into a high school and  proceeded  to act out a mass stabbing. Since I wrote this, a 70 year old man walked into a Jewish community center and acted out a hate crime in which people loss their lives. Today, the day I publish this, is the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon. A year ago there was a bombing at the finish line in which many people lost their lives and many more were forever changed.

I walked into the room hopeful within five minutes I would be broken.

What can I learn from this experience? I keep asking myself this question.

I had two experiences in my life that I can recall being of the utmost importance in shaping who I am today.  The first happened 25yrs ago, the second I will share 25 years from now.

Everything started with this story.

My cousin Steve M. murdered and raped two women. The year was 1989 I was about to turn 20years old. The killings were supposedly related to a satanic cult, so it was said.

I remember the morning before the killings.  Stevie, as I called him, stopped at my house. I was out in my front yard of my parent's house cutting grass.  He pulled up in his father's pickup truck to invite me out for the night with him. That would be the night he would kill two girls.

I did not go.

That conversation I had with him in my front yard forever defined how I would live out the rest of my life.

Me, standing in my yard sweaty from cutting grass. Him, innocent with the youth of early morning. He stopped to visit with me before going on to visit with his grandmother who lived up the street.  His grandmother was the sister of my grandmother, nothing of much importance but time would bring meaning to this moment for me.

I remember our conversation that day; it was about music he had sitting on the passenger seat in cassette tapes by The Doors, Eagles, and a few homemade mixed tapes. Nothing jumped out at me as abnormal or satanic it was the music of our past. Conversations about school, girlfriends, family, fun... completely normal stuff.

24 hours later I would awake to the news.

He killed those young girls. Be it the work of the Devil or the distorted mind of madman. He was guilty.  He is spending the rest of life in jail.  The jury stated that Stevie had no history of prior criminal convictions, that he was under mental or emotional disturbance, whatever that means. The jury stated that he should be allowed to live so the social scientists could study him. Like this needs to be learned to be understood?

In the days that followed the murder I became the cousin of the man that murdered those two girls. Some people looked at me as if just being related to him was an act of sin.  People would try to bate me into conversations about why someone would do that. People would argue with me that he should be put to death.  I had no argument for that. To this day I am against the death penalty and I do not want to persuade you, nor do I want you to persuade me.

On that morning of the murders Stevie was normal to me.  There were seeds of evil inside of him getting ready to grow.  But that morning he was just my cousin.

Seeds live inside of us, I know this to be true. Prior to the murders Stevie was not evil.  No killing cats, no hurting his friends...there was small drug and alcohol use, yet nothing extreme. At worst his future path was leading towards a boring life.  Lower middle class life in a dying steel town.  I could see him getting the last of the factory jobs, marrying a girl that he got pregnant. His life could have become a sad song that Bruce Springsteen would write about on the “The River” album.

As for me, time would pass and I would no longer be the cousin of a murderer.  I would be left to live with the ghost of that day. That ghost would teach me to live purposeful, to live with effort to become a seeker of experience.

That ghost would teach me that words like “truth” and “right” are nothing more than judgments on how I would react and view the world. I would know, no matter how righteous or compassionate or how much wisdom that I may gain, that seeds of evil live within us. As I grew into manhood I did nothing in my life that one would call evil, even my sins weren’t all that bad and when I would fall short I would do my best to learn and do better next time. I would be a normal person, be it a bit goofy and slightly eccentric at times.

Seeds are there in all of us. This feeling will never leave me.

Seldom do we recognize the monster within us.  Easy is it to see the victim's face reflecting back at us in the mirror.  The monster stays hidden, hidden even from our own conscious.  Much of life persists beyond good and evil. Evil is all too often mislabeled “right” in a person's mind.

The person who bombs an abortion clinic thinks that they are right. The person who holds up hate-filled protest signs at a gay wedding thinks that they are right.  The Priest who molested a child then passed out communion on Sunday morning thinks he is right. Hitler thought he was right.  The man who beats his wife thinks he is right. The person who believes in Noah's Ark, but thinks that global warming is made up thinks they are right.

This is the right decision, I am doing the right thing we tell ourselves. Right is a reaction, it's a judgment, it's not thought out.  Much evil is done out of one thinking they are right.

Not doing wrong.  That is a practice that forces you to slow down to gain and hold a perspective.

Know this: no matter how much you may think that you are doing the right thing, your efforts, no matter how well intended, are not complete and you will make errors. Leave room in your life for errors; great things come out of learning from our mistakes. This practice, this thought process leads to not doing wrong.

Not doing wrong forces you to slow down.  Not doing wrong makes you accountable for the action that you are about to do.  Not doing wrong forces you to think about how this will affect others. Not doing wrong teaches you that “right” may be a mystery but I will do my best to not create harm.

I understand that I may create harm. Having a practice of "not doing wrong" helps guide me in stopping the suffering that I may create in others.

That is a ghost I can live with.