Archive for July, 2011

motivational mondays – you’re gonna die

07/25/2011

Death. The ultimate equalizer. The source of so many people’s fear about so many irrational prospects. What if I told you that by embracing your own death you are embracing life more fully than ever? That each moment will feel that much more alive, that much more vibrant.

Most people have probably stopped reading by now. And do you know why? Fear (or boredom). People fear death. They don’t want to talk about it. They don’t want to confront it. The only times it enters their consciousness is when someone close to them dies and they are forced to embrace the truth – that some day, somewhere, you will die. In fact, it might be within five minutes of where you are right this second. And why not?

To fear your own death is to fear the only inevitability in life. Nothing is guaranteed, save the fact that one day your heart will stop beating. Life and death exist in harmony, one balancing the other like yin and yang, like good and evil, like Simon and Garfunkel. It’s natural.

visualize your death

The key to living well is to realize this fact. Not just understand it, but to internalize it. To make it part of your daily living. And it’s not even paradoxical, except for those who refuse to really think about it. And I mean REALLY think about it. It’s a liberating form of meditation and will allow you to feel the emotions that will accompany your final moments. Fear. Loss. Resentment. Regret. You don’t want those to linger in your head during your final moments – your death is YOUR moment. The most glorious one you will ever have. Embrace it. It’s the most alive you’ll ever be.

grim reaperDo it. Visualize your own death. Will it be when your car gets T-boned driving to work, smashing your head against the driver’s side window and killing you instantly? Visualize the blood. Or maybe you’ll be cleaning your gutters this October when you lose your balance and fall from a second-story roof, hitting the grass at an unlucky angle and breaking your neck. Visualize your neck’s unnatural angle. Or better yet, what about an aneurysm? One second you’re walking down the sidewalk, cookies-and-cream ice-cream cone in hand – the next you’re experiencing the most intense pain of your life in a split second and suddenly drop dead. Visualize your body lying still on the sidewalk.

Maybe it will be in 10 years…maybe it will be in one week…maybe it will be tomorrow…maybe it will be in one hour. It’s unpredictable. It’s uncertain. But it will happen.

take it to the limit

Your embracing of death should be your motivation to do something meaningful – today. Do something unpredictable, foreign to your normative behaviors. Something people wouldn’t expect of you. Take a risk, damn it! Escape from your usual Monday routine and tell the world to go kiss its ass while you do what you want to do. Lose control and lose yourself in the act of living.

By losing your fear of death you become unbound by contemporary constraints – whether that be the fear of pursuing your dreams, the fear presented by the unfamiliar, the fear of becoming a social outcast – anything! You just need to look your own grim reaper in his skeletal face and say, in your own special way, “Go fuck yourself.” (that’s how I say it, anyway)

This is your time, and you haven’t got much of it left.

Now if that isn’t motivation on a Monday, I don’t know what is.

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when i write

07/22/2011

When readers read my novels, I want them to feel inspired, fascinated and breathless at the end. That’s because, to me, novels are a wealth of extraordinary experiences and vibrant characters that help instill a vibrancy into my own life.

Some of the best scenes in novels happen in very ordinary places. The family room. The den. The cubicle. A church. Now these seemingly “ordinary” places become settings, become staging grounds for something bigger. For some emotional development in a character. For some reversal of perspective. For a cold-blooded murder. For a boy to fall in love with a girl. For ANYTHING!

Novels help me recognize eccentricities in others and, instead of becoming annoyed by them, I become fascinated by them:

  • Why won’t that girl leave her emotionally abusive boyfriend?
  • What back-story provoked a mild-mannered man’s violent outburst at a restaurant?
  • What keeps that man from standing up for himself?
  • Why does that person hang on to an obviously deteriorating friendship?
  • Where does someone find religion?
  • Why does someone fall away from religion?

People who otherwise would have annoyed me or been judged by me have now become intriguing pieces to the larger puzzle of life. They fit in somewhere, I just have to figure out the arrangement. DISCLAIMER: Just to be fair, this doesn’t mean that some people don’t annoy me. If the eccentricity – feigned or real – is REALLY annoying, then I just run with annoyed.

inspired, fascinated and breathless

Take Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and its ability to inspire all of these feelings.

Madame Defarge’s unrelenting zeal for revenge that leads her to attempt the killing of innocents, but not before uttering her most famous line: “Tell wind and fire where to stop, but don’t tell me!” Even though she’s one of the bad guys, that is an inspiring line. Helps to instill a little respect into an otherwise deplorable character.

But the real breathless moment Dickens saves for the grand finale. SPOILER ALERT! Sydney Carton saving Charles Darnay’s life through the sacrifice of his own, elevating him to a  moral level that surpasses any other character in the book. And this act from an alcoholic who has wasted most of his life in the bottle, pining for the love of a woman who does not feel the same way. And then his execution at the end and the kiss he shares with a complete stranger moments before his death…

Beautiful. To inspire such emotion from your readers. To fascinate them with the humanity of your characters. To leave them breathless with a bittersweet and yet plausible ending.

If I can replicate even a fraction of what Dickens created with that final scene, I’ll consider my novel a success, whether or not it sells.

Although I prefer that it sell.

Post inspired by James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure

i choose anger

07/15/2011

yosemite sam - madI get angry at the bar I work at. Why does that jerk have to order food at 1:30 a.m.? Why do those drunk guys have to be such douche bags? Why didn’t the bartender tip me out more? Why won’t that hot girl make eye contact with me? (just kidding – they always make eye contact……)

I got anxious at the 9-5 I worked at. Was I producing good work? Did I do enough research? Did I miss an important concept in my outline? Will they like my next press release?

If I had to choose between anxiety or anger, I’d choose anger.

Anger is a motivating emotion. It incites action. Granted, not always the most positive action. But I would rather be doing something, anything, than be hunkered down in my desk chair, controlled by my fear. I lost a lot of my self-confidence over the years because I was afraid. I was producing good work (at times haha), but to me that just means I am not meant to be living that lifestyle.

Anxiety is caused by fear – an inherently crippling emotion. I don’t have time to be afraid. I need to jump out of that plane tomorrow. I need to write these books and short stories. I need to travel and reconnect with friends. No time for fear.

upset the balance

I grew up a very tame individual. I rarely got angry because it wasn’t often worth the emotional investment. After all, I’d rather be happy, right? People see anger as confrontational. It throws things off-balance and upsets normalcy.

On the flip side of the coin, we need to upset that balance time and again. If things are too often kept on an even keel, nothing would change. We couldn’t develop emotionally or mentally. So in a certain light, anger represents change. Anxiety keeps you from changing – often the fearful are the ones more afraid of change than anything else.

So I choose anger.

the beginning of motivational mondays

07/11/2011

Mondays suck, huh? It’s the beginning of the work week and most people would rather be doing things other than sitting in an office or just working on someone else’s agenda for 8-9 hours.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed Mondays – even before breaking free of the 9-5 lifestyle. Here’s why:

mental preparation

Every Monday I wake up intent on setting a few short-term goals to complete before the day was over. By setting just a few short-term goals, I could see immediate progress, thus motivating myself further. I then set a loose schedule for the rest of the week and adhere to that as I could, given emergencies and issues that need an immediate response. Operate in the short-term, plan for the long-term.

By doing this, I made Monday the most productive day of the week. My best work and my most intense periods of concentration naturally occurred on Mondays as a result of adopting this mental attitude.

make monday night your bitch

My motivational Monday philosophy really started in high school. I ran a martial arts class every Monday night after some of our other instructors backed out. I had been at the mercy of boring, banal senior instructors who could have been making the class more fun and challenging. Now it was my turn to take the reins.

I was young and full of vigor, and upped the intensity of the workouts tenfold. I integrated different approaches into the teaching and learning process, making those two hours much more exciting and interesting for the students. I would then stay after class for upwards of an hour, giving private instruction to those who wanted it. It was liberating and it was my drug.

In college, my Monday nights transformed into meeting three buddies at The Pub in Athens for $1 draft night. After a couple months of that, we started to get a bit of a following. Many of the kids in my major started to attend, and before we knew what happened we had 15-20 people in regular attendance. Little did I know what that would do to my reputation among my friends in the PR crowd, though haha. A little change of pace from the martial arts Mondays, but the end result was still the same (in a manner of speaking): Monday was still my favorite day of the week.

By making a point to plan something fun or stimulating every Monday night, you have something to look forward to during the day. It’s the reason you keep pounding the keyboard and picking up the phone. It’s the reason you go to class and work your ass off until the evening, knowing you’ll be rewarded later that night. It’s rewarding yourself for a job well done. Whether you do this thing for 10 minutes or 4 hours, you’ve earned that time for yourself.

Pat yourself on the back, friend, and do what you love every Monday night.

motivational mondays

Motivational Mondays will now become a staple of this blog. Every Monday you’ll get a juicy nugget of goodness from either me or someone way smarter than me (although that doesn’t really make for slim pickings).

Please feel free to comment below with your ideas and suggestions for what you do to motivate yourself on Mondays. Whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, relaxing, or just plain idiotic and crazy, I want to hear about it. This blog is about interaction – so interact!

why i quit my job

07/03/2011

I have fantasized about writing this post for three years. Now it’s time.

I quit my job. I am no longer a public relations professional. I do not live the 9-5 lifestyle.

My new job is my passion. My new profession is my will to be great. My new lifestyle is one of my own choosing.

Why? Why have I sacrificed a comfortable 9-5 job at an amazing company with a steady paycheck, a nice health/dental/vision package and an IRA? Why have I cut my income by nearly two-thirds? Why have I taken such a life risk?

my [loss of] independence day

To gain a better understanding of why I quit my job, we need to take a look at the roots.

I paid for my entire freshman year of college. No help from my parents. No loans. Straight cash out of my pocket earned by umpiring little league baseball games and working 20- to 50-hour weeks at Red Robin. My funds ran out when freshman year ended. Thus, in spirit, so did my independence.

I knew from the beginning that I couldn’t pay for my next three years, but had effectively deluded myself into thinking I would not have to rely on my parents. I had moved out. I was on my own. Mom and Dad were two people I no longer had to rely on for a cash flow. I could finally stand without holding onto something.

But my envisioned independence was not meant to be – the Rents began paying for my college education. I still paid for a portion of my tuition by working over breaks, but it wasn’t the same. I was no longer financially independent. This fact meant quite a bit to me. One summer night just before sophomore year began, I got a little too liberal with my wine and broke down sobbing about how I wanted to drop out of college and move to California. And god knows I probably would have done it if my parents hadn’t stopped me.

Thus, I began to get angry. Over the next three years my optimism transformed into cynicism. I hated the institution. What kind of bullshit is paying thousands upon thousands of dollars to get a piece of paper that said, “I am now qualified to be paid more than the high-school-educated person.” I hated the cliche that was the man. I hated authority unless I saw it in action, unless I personally saw the cogs turning.

It was at this time in my life that I started my first blog, dubbing myself a “freebird.” I determined that I would one day live without shackles. My life would be my own and nobody would tell me where to be or when to be there. I didn’t need a lot of money. I just needed freedom. In hindsight, this was when I really started to become who I am today.

fast forward

That was 2005. It’s now 2011. Six years……

I chose a field of study, pursued it rigorously, and found moderate success. And with that moderate success, I found an equatable level of interest in my field. That’s not to say there weren’t things I got excited about – I bought into it as much as I possibly could. I really did. I convinced myself, to a certain degree, that I could simply get by working the 9-5 until “the ideal” came traipsing along – get a book published, gain a foothold in freelancing, get the perfect job where I can be happy – anything.

I’ve been very fortunate with the jobs I landed in my field: I got to work for a science center that introduced me to so many new and exciting concepts and theories to which I would have otherwise never been exposed; and I got to work at an incredibly dynamic agency that is actively breaking the traditional mold of what an agency looks like. It was through working at these amazing places and yet still feeling unfulfilled that I realized it wasn’t about the work environment – it was about me. My dreams. My needs. My vision.

Because when you’re pursuing a career for which you lack passion, when you wake up every day and long to sit at your desk at home and write instead of driving 30 minutes into the city, when you cringe at the prospect of checking your email…well, that’s when you’ve reached the tipping point. That’s when you’ve boiled all the water in your pot and it starts burning, losing its integrity and diminishing the possibility for any future use.

I lost some of my integrity during my pursuit of a career instead of a lifestyle. I degraded myself, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I have grown soft and inattentive. Complacent. Unappreciative of the wonders that surround me and, more importantly, of the incredible things I can do with my life.

I refuse to allow that depreciation to continue.

take a stand

My life has now taken a new direction. This is my stand. This is my pronouncement.

I will no longer excel at mediocrity. I will no longer subdue my passion for pragmatism. I will no longer be ruled by the fear of being solely responsible for my success or failure. I will defy convention and do what I’ve wanted to do since the seventh grade.

I pursue my true goals now with a sense of desperate urgency – I will write. Novels. Freelancing. Blog posts. Anything and everything for which I am passionate. The real work of my life now begins in earnest.

Am I scared for what  may come with such an unpredictable future? I’m freaking terrified. But the scales have finally tipped. My exhilaration outweighs my fear. My power now lies in my independence, and in the knowledge that I know nothing and, understanding that, can achieve everything.

And so it begins.