Its 5am, I lay awake in bed, for the muse has arrived. I hope I’ll be able to communicate this delicate idea. Let me know if you can relate:
I’ve always had this notion that to do awesome work, I had to also feel awesome. What that’s led me to is a pursuit of “feelings”, which can quickly turn into addiction, like a caterpillar into a moth. Ask any junkie. TV, crack, or cookies, it’s all the same. They are feeling chasers, regardless of the drug of choice.
During my radio years, for instance:
Live radio is unforgiving. The clock, nor the audience, care how your day has gone. At 14:06, the second the pre roll commercials are done, it’s on, ready or not. There were days I’d prepare well, show up early and have a good solid show. Sometimes I’d think I had an awesome show prepared and it would fall flat. While that was confusing and frustrating, even legendary teams lose on their home field sometimes. Though these losses were mystifying, an even deeper mystery lurks:
There were days when I felt completely uninspired. Tired. Empty. Nothing “to say”. I wasn’t physically ill and couldn’t justify calling in sick. I would go through the motions of packing up my laptop, walking out the door, and going to the studio. A mild, low level terror would begin to set in as the clock ticked into the upper reaches of the 13:00 hour.
Sure, I had a show plan, I did the work, but I just wasn’t “feeling it”. Looking over my show notes and the impending 120 minutes, I wonder if sherpas ever feel this way when looking at the nearly impossible peak as they begin their 578th ascent. I wonder if anyone is ever exempt from that deflating feeling of “Oh shit. This is going to be really, really hard, why do I do this to myself?”
(This, by the way, is but one of the reasons I adore the band RUSH). Want to see what eternal youth looks like? Go see these men in their 60’s pushing themselves as hard as they can, doing 3 hour long shows, of ever increasing intensity at an age when most dudes are happy to just cash checks and play golf).
So many times on these “oh shit” days, A caller, a current event, an idea in my head would combine in the cauldron of the present moment to yield a moment of pure brilliance. I would walk out of the studio in complete awe at the unsuspected unfolding of inspiration.
These moments of unsuspected brilliance are not limited to the radio days. It’s happened in the Photo studio, in writing, and I once met a great love in similar circumstances. I didn’t feel like being there but showed up anyway, magic ensued.
This has me thinking a lot about feelings: of preparedness, of interest, of ability. Have you ever had the experience of doing your finest work on a day when you initially were sorely tempted to shirk?
I think it’s sensible to expect that under stress we rise to the level of our worst preparation. Good practice and preparation cannot be undervalued.
When I peel back the layers of my own experience, I realize that a certain level of my own feelings are just the weather of my own human condition. Rain or shine, they do not change the facts of that which is being built on the ground. The work – the practice, the preparation, always adds up. It creates something inside you that can be pretty easy to overlook.
What’s the point of this all? I want you to know that the little things you do every day to build yourself – the journaling. The meditation. The exercise. The rehearsals – they all matter, even if they feel mundane. ESPECIALLY when they feel mundane –
Because one day, you will find yourself in a place you don’t necessarily want to be in. You won’t feel your “best” but you’ll be there anyway. You will unceremoniously do the thing. You will go home, and soon realize that you just participated in a life changing moment. You will realize the value of showing up regardless of the weather of your silly little soul, and life will never be the same after that.
Ultimately, you will come to understand that the basic act of showing up is a self fulfilling prophecy of your (sometimes hidden) knowledge that you are worthy of that which you desire.
Our culture is in the midst of a masculine crisis. Too many of our men are broken, perpetuating many of society’s problems. Men’s coach Sean Whalen, of Lions Not Sheep, joins us to talk about these quintessential masculine dilemmas.
Jamie Brandenburg is a life coach / mentor that assists people in making the breakthroughs that are necessary to realizing one’s fullest potential. Her background in massage therapy and many forms of energy work, paired with her own life experiences of personal transformation give her a powerful basis from which she can mentor and lead others.
10 Steps to Inner Wealth by Jamie Brandenburg:
Check out more from Jamie Brandenburg at Beingilluminated.com
She can be reached at 801 502 4109 to schedule a coaching session.
Today I interviewed Tripp Lanier, a men’s coach that is the host of The New Man Podcast, a show dedicated to helping men grow into their full potential. We talked about romance, relationships, dating, and even work. You can check out Tripp’s work here:
Every time I create or attract something wonderful into my life, I go looking for a cross to climb up on, to prevent myself from just ENJOYING the beauty of what’s been given to me. I can’t seem to deal with 100% bliss. 99%, I can handle pretty well. 96%, even better. I do really well at the 95% level. That’s comfort. Lots of joy, and just enough pain to keep it real. I need a little garnish of suffering or guilt or something… ANYTHING… What’s my problem? Why can’t I just fucking ENJOY the pleasures of life? How did this stupid chorus of voices get implanted into my head?
“You really gonna do that?”
“People your age don’t do that.”
“You do realize that next week you might think differently about this”
“That’s irresponsible. I don’t care if 90% of people your age would give their left eyeball to do what you’re about to do… it’s not okay for YOU to do it.”
“You really ought to be _________ right now instead.”
“There’s work to be done still. You could be (insert some menial matter of minutia here) right now, and you probably OUGHT to be, before you let yourself relax.”
“You shouldn’t be enjoying yourself until you are PERFECT.”
Can you relate? Hopefully not. 🙂
I’m making some big changes. I’m not entirely sure where they will lead me, other than, it’s going to be brilliant*. The show is going to get even better, comedy will be more fun, hell, I might even figure out how to take a decent photograph. Stay tuned.
* 98.75% guaranteed
I have a meditation practice that I do every morning. I won’t bore you with the details right now, other than to say it’s super short, super easy, and most real practictioners of meditation would look at my ritual and call it “Meditation for Dummies”. At any rate; this morning, the second my ass hit the ground for my daily meditation, a little voice popped into my head with a very specific literary reference. When the little voice speaks, you gotta listen. I pulled said book off of my shelf, opened to the specified chapter, and read the specified paragraph. I don’t know if this is more for me, or if there is someone out there that needs to hear this, but here it goes:
The book is a collection of very old legends about the culture, wars, and spiritual traditions of people who supposedly lived on the American continent a few thousand years ago. I honestly have no idea if any of it really happened or not, but it also doesn’t matter to me. It’s the ideas in the stories that matter. In this particular story, a man named Enos was out hunting by himself, and started thinking deeply about things his father had taught him through word and example. The specific reference that the little voice told me to look up goes like this: ” I will tell you of the wrestle I had before God before I received a remission of my sins”. Spoiler alert: he lives happily ever after.
“Remission” is an interesting word. In modern society, it’s most often used in reference to cancer, indicating that the cancer is shrinking. Once you’ve got cancer, remission is the best thing you can hope for. You take steps to make your body a place where nasty cells can no longer thrive; the tumor shrinks as the cancerous cells disappear. One of the few beautiful things about cancer is the deep gratitude that flows from the patient and the loved ones when the doctor announces, “You are in remission!” There is nothing like the feeling of knowing you are on the right track.
“Sin” is another interesting word, one we hear almost exclusively at church. I’m not a church going man, so I’m going to define “sin” based on my own life experiences: We all know, on some deep level, who we are and what we want to make our lives into. (Some of us are lost in a fog and have a hard time connecting to that clear vision; that’s another discussion for another day). Sin is any self inflicted distraction that slows us from becoming the biggest, most beautiful, awesome version of ourselves. To continue with the cancer analogy, sin would be like smoking 3 packs a day while also training for the Olympics (Unless you are Michael Phelps).
I don’t believe in “sin” in the churchy sense, nor do I believe that we must supplicate some angry, jealous God that he may forgive us of our “sins”. I’ve lived that paradigm, and it proved to be nothing but snake oil. Here’s the deal:
Here’s what hit me. I struggle a lot with perfectionism syndrome. My life is wildly imperfect, but I also hold myself to a pretty fucking high standard. I am painfully aware of many of the tumors in my life. It can be very easy to just look at the tumors and get really bummed out about them. This little story I read this morning shed some new light: As long as I’m in remission, I can be super stoked about life every day. Even if I just kill 3 cancer cells, metaphorically speaking, that’s win – because I didn’t grow 3 cells – and tomorrow I’ll kill a few more. I think we all need to give ourselves more credit for the progress we are making. And by credit, I mean gratitude. I have found a lot of power in my life when I spend time each day meditating in gratitude for the good things that are happening. I’ll even kick into imagination mode and spend time meditating in gratitude for the things I intend to have in my life, though they may not be present yet. I just pretend they are, and deeply contemplate how awesome they are. To the extent that anything excellent is happening in my life, I attribute it to this practice. Gratitude is emotional chemotherapy. This practice can be very difficult at times. Sometimes it makes you want to puke. Just do your best, and do it every day. It’s been a real force for progress in my life, maybe it will for you, too.
Take a few steps each day to progress out of the shitty situations of your life, even if it’s tiny. Most of all – go into your imagination and imagine sitting in a beautifully decorated, radiantly lit doctor’s office, imagine him walking in with his clipboard, shaking your hand, and saying, “Congratulations!! You are in remission!”
“You have something that no one understands…”
Stand up comic Kyle Cease talks about the innate creative nature that you and I each have. He suggests some ways to unplug from the negativity matrix and get on with the work of fulfilling your own unique genius.
I have a pattern of embarking on some new thing in life with great zeal. Like learning to ride a bike, I’ll strap on some training wheels and start cautiously pedaling around on my new thing. The feeling of propelling myself forward in this novel way is fascinating. My fantasies about racing around at high speeds with dexterous mastery fascinate me and take hold of my imagination. I take the training wheels off and begin pedaling around. Sure enough, it feels AMAZING to take those corners and lean into them, in a way the training wheels wouldn’t allow. I pick up more speed. I leave my cul-de-sac and head for the hills. On my way to the hills, I gain a false sense of confidence about my level of mastery. I arrive at the hills. I become an alchemist and blend the natural forces of gravity with my bravado.
In an instant that barely qualifies to be called an instant, I realize that I’m no longer moving. There’s blood in the dirt a crescendo of throbbing pain emerges, commanding almost all of my attention.
I’m in love with fantasies of my own expertise. I let my ego get involved and it starts calling the shots. I’m that guy that will buy a new gadget and start trying to use it without ever reading the directions. You see, if I can make this thing work on my own, not only do I get to benefit from the cool things this gizmo does, I get to bathe in the glory of how smart I am.
Sometimes, I might even buy these gadgets, not because I really need a thing to help me ____________ better, but just because I want the validation of having figured it out. God, I can be so needy at times. This is another case study in how a hole in your heart will cause you to waste all kinds of time, money, energy. When said gizmo happens to be a person, it’s staggering to see how much heartache and pride I’m capable of pissing away, all in the futile pursuit of “doing it my way”.
There is a fine line between being a visionary genius and a needy fool. Sometimes I think I have transcended friction based travel, and other times I am rudely reminded that I’m just an idiot trying to reinvent the wheel.
It’s time to pick up the pieces of my bike, stumble back to the cul de sac, and put those training wheels back on for a while. It’s time to submit my will to the tutelage of those who have gone before me and have been willing to teach me.
One of Maynard James Keenan’s songs with the band Puscifer really struck a chord with me this morning:
Last night I watched several episodes of a TV show called “Breakthrough with Tony Robbins”. It’s a simple premise: this world famous author / life coach finds people who are on the brink of major personal crisis. He mentors them for 30 days, and their lives totally change. In one episode, he worked with a couple from NJ who were on the brink of foreclosure, the husband had been laid off, money was tight, they were fighting, and the wife was about to leave him and take the kids with her. Tony intervened. He did a bunch of counseling with them, gave them several challenges to work on together. For their key challenge, he sent them to live on the streets on Skid Row in Los Angeles for a week. This upper middle class couple HAD to rely on each other to survive – both emotionally, and physically, because they truly had nothing else.
One of the constant themes throughout the many episodes is this: Stop living your story, take responsibility, and start living your life in the present. What does this mean? I’ll cut the bullshit pronoun “we” and make this personal.Read More