Summer Air

Every summer the grass grows a little too fast for me to keep up with. When the weather gets nice and the rain comes in and the sun shines brightly, the grass explodes with life and joy as it tries to reach the ever so lovely and life giving sun. In the summer, the family has barbecues and fun times at the lake. An amazing place that is untouched by industrial worlds and lays tucked away from the man. Hidden beyond the mountains in a small town of Pennsylvania the lake is a relaxing place. It’s quiet and when you wake up in the morning, you can’t help but feel the peace and joy. The dew on the grass, the mist floating away fro the surface of the river, the echoes of early morning dog barks and the stillness of the trees. The smell of fresh air and the quiet feelings of a warm cup of coffee with a little hazelnut cream. At the lake in the summer, we drink. We fish. We throw parties and ride around in golf carts. It’s only once or twice and then, it’s gone, as quickly as it arrives. At home in the summer the bugs are out. The snakes sliver in and out of the steps and the bears may be seen here or there. The fox runs away, the deer munch on the grass, or trees, or vegetable gardens. The chickens across the way make violently loud noises at the crack of dawn and in New Jersey, the humidity sucks. A simple walk to the car and the sweat begins. The air conditioners are always going in the summer.

In the summer, life is bright, the days are long, and many who once came to the gym have stepped off to go to the beach or the lake or just the local park. The summer is fantastic and joyful. The trees are so green, the sky so blue, and the dogs bark and chase tennis balls.

Summer sometimes sucks too.

But for the most part, it’s great. The sun is hot, bright, and very far away. Baseball games are here for a few months before the fall sets again. The home run derby seems to be a summer classic for those who enjoy the pitching, hitting, and catching game. Baseball, the Yankees, the base hits, the A’s, Tampa Bay, Arizona, and everywhere you look. Games are played. Homers hit. Fun times with hot dogs and popcorn and twelve dollar beers.

A great part of summer are my favorite craft beers and their summer ales. An ice cold beer on a hot day soothes the soul. Nothing says I’m relaxing more than feet kicked up and a craft brew in hand. Don’t disturb me as I drink. With my book, the television on, the shades up, and an IPA that hits every taste bud just the way the brewmaster hoped.

Summer comes too quick and leaves too fast. But it’s the best part of the year. Everything is alive and people smile. although people bitch too much, summer brings out some joy. Fishing, NASCAR, poker games and more. Kids jumping off bridges at the local watering hole. Gathering a crowd, kids as young as five. Jump into the water, splash, swish, and let’s do it again. They can sit out there all day next to the Steel Mill and old homes. Passersby wave or honk and dare someone to do a flip.

Inside of everyone, summer lives every day. Summer breathes life into our blood and allows us to dream. Laying on the freshly cut grass staring at the Mountain Man shaped cloud. Nothing but the present moment, the beauty of nature, and the dreams inside. If that moment can be captured for all of time it would show the total joy of human kind. No stress, fresh air, and relaxation. Summer can be great if you allow the simple joys to float into your world. We often watch it fly by like a honeybee doing it’s natural service and wish for it’s safe return in a couple of months. Our fast paced world doesn’t let us enjoy the moment. But if you want to, and think about it, you can enjoy the simpleness of summer. Just stop. Sit down. Take a deep breath and exhale the dreams of your mind into the awesome nature of the universe and let it be. Imagine the unimaginable and smell the summerness around. Let it be and breath. Touch the soft grass and smile loudly.

What I Am Afraid Of

What am I afraid of? They asked me this question and it opened a world of unknown territory, or in fact, territory I completely avoided because as a man, I’m not afraid of anything. Right? But not true. There are many fears I have and often they tie me down and keep me from making progress.

For one, I’m afraid of dying. Why? I have no idea. I actually believe in life beyond this world and that as energy, we’re infinite and immortal, but beyond this world- what lies ahead? The unknown worlds in the afterlife are the source of my fear of dying. But why?

Another simple thing I’m afraid of is not being good enough. Not being a good enough father, husband, trainer, business owner.. writer. The feeling however pushes me past the roadblocks of which usually halt others steps when they have fear. I accept this fear as silly but indeed real. The only thing that will make me not good enough, is believing I’m not and allowing that belief to concrete my journey in place.

Being afraid of many things is normal. Some people fear the thoughts others have of them. Some, like me, are afraid of making videos. Just this week I’ve accepted the fear, stepped over it, and made one everyday for the past 6 days. Maybe I’m the kind of person who is afraid of horror movies. Not because they’re scary and I don’t know what’s coming, but again as a man, I’m afraid of being laughed at if I jump as I’m startled. Why do we care about what others think of us so much?

Is it acceptable to you that I tell you I’m vulnerable just like all of us? So what if I jump. Should you laugh or just simply jump with me? I’m afraid of walking into a zombie apocalypse. Should one exist and become a reality, what would I do? Would I be able to survive and protect my family? Who knows. The fact is.. these fears all steam from one place..

The unknown.

We can turn a corner in downtown Manhattan and run into a roaring lion who’s ready for blood. Drooling for dinner with his mighty eyes glued to you. Run. But am I fast enough? We can order a salad from the local diner and find a lizard’s head. What would I do? Scream like a girl or throw up?

Fear sticks with us everywhere we go. It’s not knowing the unknown that suffocates our actions and paralyzes us. I’m afraid of meeting new people. Will I stumble my words? Will they hate me because I’m partially Italian? Will I not seem to them, competent enough for conversation?

It’s silly for us to think about it but important enough that we have to. We have to walk away from the fear that locks us in our self designed and guarded cages and accept that it’s real and okay. Nobody walking the world has ever done so without fear. Even the toughest of the tough are crippled with fear. Lying about it is dumb. Accepting it is purposeful.

Don’t allow those quirks of fear to keep you from imagining the unexplored worlds in the deepest caverns of your mind. Stand proud that you’re alive, for fear is the surest way to realize this isn’t a dream.

Thought of The Day: Daydreaming

Whenever you see someone daydreaming, please.. for the love of all things good, do not disturb them. Daydreaming is possibly one of the most important things we can do for our productivity. Many people feel being productive means getting shit done and those who are daydreaming are only wasting precious, possibly productive, moments. Daydreaming however can lead to getting shit done better, more efficiently, and your ideas will be of higher quality.

Daydreamers create big things. Daydreaming is shunned by society and kids in school who daydream frequently are told they have a problem, and probably given medication. I used to daydream everywhere I was. On the baseball field, in church, in schools, on the karate mats, and while standing in line at the grocery store. I still do it. Every minute there are probably a thousand thoughts that circle my mind. I often pick one or two of them and daydream about it, that’s until someone snaps me out of it.

The best places to daydream are:

- Down by a river

- By a Lake

- In a quiet room with no distractions

- Walking a nature path

- In a place where you meditate

- Under a tree

- On your deck when the sun is shining

Your best work, your best creativity will come when you get out of your office and outdoors. Daydreaming is not a waste of time. For someone like me, who writes, or someone who owns a business, paints, plays music, or anyone for that matter- daydreaming should be something you schedule into your weekly planner.

Carl Sandburg once said ” Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.”

And he was talking about being alone, somewhere other than your office, while doing nothing but daydreaming.

Two Authors Who Inspire Me

The real world of writing has caught my eye recently. As I try to maintain two blog sites, my other at www.hackettstownfitness.com, I’ve come into a deep desire to form coherent sentences in a poetic way that can inspire others or draw hopes and dreams through what is read on the screen. Most of the time, the writing, my writing, is boring information that seems redundant, especially when we have read it from many other authors, bloggers, and other writers. But at other moments, it’s fresh, exciting, and slightly interesting.

To keep my mind fresh as I try to generate ideas, I walk around with a book. Everywhere I go I have a book close to me or at the least, my kindle app on the iPhone, which really doesn’t do anything for me. I’d rather flip the pages of a nice clean and crisp new book, almost like an addiction when I consider the smell, the way it feels, and how I can get lost from reality in the pages, like an illicit drug pouring through your veins.

For awhile the books were self help in nature, fitness, and some business material but as I continue to read and learn and change, I find myself drawn towards the better penmanship of legends. Most of the dribble spilled forth on the internet or in magazines these days is garbage. Free eBooks or .99 cent kindle books are a sham to the industry and real world of writing. Authors who spend an hour phone call talking about a subject and having the recording sent for transcription  in Thailand are placing garbage all over the internet, calling themselves writers.

Real writing, the kind of writing that makes you drop your jaw in awe, is hard to find outside of best selling novel writers. Some non-fiction writers can turn the words on a page into a magnificent imagination, but that seems to be rare these days.

Here are 2 of the greatest writers, in my opinion, who inspire me with their words and strokes of literary genius.

1. Hunter S Thompson

“Everybody has fast motorcycles these days. Some people go 150 miles an hour on two-lane blacktop roads, but not often. There are too many oncoming trucks and too many radar cops and too many stupid animals in the way. You have to be a little crazy to ride these super-torque high-speed crotch rockets anywhere except a racetrack – and even there, they will scare the whimpering shit out of you… There is, after all, not a pig’s eye worth of difference between going head-on into a Peterbilt or sideways into the bleachers. On some days you get what you want, and on others, you get what you need.”

The gonzo was an author who captivated his readers. His articles were in high demand, his novels made into movies, and his crazy attitude towards life the subject of several documentaries that can capture your attention for days. A writer. A wild man with no limits who went on his weird way and produced some appealing work with minutes to spare from the deadlines. Hunter S Thompson is by far my favorite writer. An inspiration to twist words that will tickle your panties and turn your heads upside down. Gonzo for Sheriff.

2. Stephen King

A funny man who writes terror filled and nightmarish novels. Stephen King was born a writer. Ever since he was a young chop in the schools of Maine he wrote. He used to see several sci-fi movies a week with friends and he nailed his rejection slips to a beam in his bedroom. Inspiring to never give up. To make it happen. Millions of words later and Mr. King can be considered one of the greatest writers of our time. Whether he writes about writing or a girl being bullied with supernatural powers, King’s writing mesmerizes the reader.

“So okay― there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You’ve blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.”

Hunter Thompson and Stephen King’s writing is truly epic. If you haven’t had the pleasure to read any of their work, I highly suggest stopping by your local library, you know, a place with free books, and pick up one of their novels. Aside from the novels each writer has produced they also have some excellent non-fiction work. Hunter’s Fear and Loathing at Rolling Stone is a hefty book you should consider buying through Amazon instead of punching out of the library. Stephen King’s On Writing is a must own book for anyone who wishes to learn how to write better as well.

Of the many great writers, I find my way towards these two legends and prefer their satire and flow of great work. Who are some of your favorite writers? Post a comment below!

Thought of the Day: Published Author

For the past few months I’ve sat here as a published author and never said a word to it outside of my gym. There is a link silently hiding near the bottom of the page with the book as well, never mentioned it. Fear being the reason. Fear that some critic would bash my writing. Something I don’t want to see, but that’s too bad. So be it.

I am a published author. I wrote a book and had it published and created for purchase. It’s found here: Becoming Awake And Alive

The book is about 104 pages with topics such as:

How I became homeless and what I did to overcome the obstacles of living without a roof over my head.

My experiences in the isolation tank and how it helped my creativity and drive for life.

How to deal with fear and much more.

Most of the writing can be found on this blog if you search through the archives, but I took the time to make it something solid. Some lucky people have received the first copies and have said great things about it.

If you’re interested, check it out.

It’ll be on Amazon in a few weeks.

The Muse is on Vacation.

All morning he sat at his desk, hands to his temples, rubbing away at the pain of writer’s block. Fidgeting in his chair like he was slipped some laxative medicine the night before. Unknown, uncertain, and unfulfilled thoughts seep through the veins of his eyeballs. Fingers scratching and feet tapping.

It’s hard for a writer to write when they don’t have the slightest clue of what they seek. Is it a story about a man who crashes his car into a cactus in the desert with no sign of life for hundreds of miles, or is it a story of a woman desperately seeking escape from her husband who violently lashes down upon her with anger and hatred filled strikes of his closed fist?

Whatever it is, when you don’t know where to go or how to get there, the road seems to stop. The future seems lost in space. The headaches start and the emptiness inside unleashed. It can drive the most dedicated writers to the brink of emotional meltdown. Crying for hours because the passion that follows from brain to finger seems blocked by the resistance, the muse gone, away on vacation again.

Two hours go by and the headline still blank. Facebook studied for inspiration or a mind changing aha moment. Not a single sentence formed on the wordpress blog. The white screen with widgets all around starts to get ugly. The pain of not making progress trumps the pleasure of forming poetic words.

It’s easy to get distracted and not have ideas or the strength to pull the muse back from his or her absence. The resistance fights much harder than we seem to consciously be aware of, but the work still needs to be done and when the cursor blinks and action stalls it’s time to let it go.. like what you just saw.

A Lesson in “Doing the Work”.

This has proven to be quite hard recently. I’ve had much trouble trying to get things out of my mind and onto your screen. Most of my attention lately, when it comes to writing, has been shifted to my gym’s page at www.hackettstownfitness.com and on that gym page’s email newsletter. Even still, it has been quite like a form of torture. The words are dragging and the fight to release the tension inside the mind and veins has been nearly crippling. It’s been several weeks since my last post. I’m ready for something more, something new.

The problem is, I haven’t got the slightest clue what I want to write about. I enjoy helping people change their lives through fitness and motivation. At the Activate Fitness page there are over 200 posts on diet, exercise, and mindset. I can go back and tighten them up, switch a few pieces of work here and there, and make a new post- but that’s boring. It doesn’t need the muse and doesn’t fit the fancy of the pleasure I get from writing.

The other day I tried an exercise to get the words flowing. I had no idea what I was writing about, except, in the back of my mind- the exact idea of what to write about. Here is what came out in it’s first draft…

“Stuffed up, stuck, crazy and unknown. Blank, dark, hot or cold. The world is rough. The streets are tough. Life isn’t a game, it’s a challenge. Face your fears or face the consequences. Broke, tired, bored, lonely, poverty stricken. Shame. Unknown thoughts and dreams spun around like a crazy web of gooey substances. Dark lights and Hammered Angels. Rides to the park, not in the dark, cold and wet, sunny and humid. Faced the consequence, fell to my feet. Knees buckled, people laughed, tired.. of being sick and tired. Poor me, poor shoes. Poor me, poor foods. It’s not my fault you see. Blind as a bat. It’s the man. Striking his hand. Fists to the face. Floored with emotions. Longing for more. Will it ever be?”

A work of writer’s block and an exercise to find the muse and get back to work. To help those who need a lift, an inspiration, help they may not find elsewhere. Pure subconscious firing out of the void as you can see the words “The world is rough. The streets are tough.” For it once was in my life like that and life is indeed a challenge. We’re here to learn something, whatever it is, and it’s our job to face the challenge and keep moving ever so slightly forward until we find out.. why?

Facing your fears is a must if you hope to evolve. Without facing them, you will surely find that the world is rough and the streets are tough. I once fell a victim to my fears. Who am I kidding? Once? Ha. Try once a day, maybe even once an hour. But when those particular fears were victorious over my true self and became friends with Mr. Ego, it was easy to lay down defeated. I hid my passions, I hid my knowledge, and I hid in the darkest of all pits, smack dab on Rock Bottom.

Unknown thoughts spun around like a crazy web. Writer’s block. Mental exhaustion. The muse is on vacation. Or is it the writer, the hand in charge, finding an excuse to just not sit down and do the work? Steven Pressfield says to put your ass where your heart is and right now, it is, but it’s a lot more difficult than many can imagine. Steven King demands one to two thousand words a day, on paper, regardless of what is going on in life. Resistance, as Pressfield calls it, seems to win much more often than the Muse. A war of wits, passion, patience, commitment and doing the work.

How can the Muse defeat Resistance when all he or she wants to do is kick back on the island, smoking a fat Cuban, with a Corona in hand?

“Poor me, poor shoes. Poor me, poor foods.” Another glimpse of the deep subconscious. When I let resistance win and let fear over take my life I allowed the consequences of my actions to destroy me. What came out of the deep mind in those eight words was recollection of when I had no job or money and my sneakers were basically falling apart. The same time when my meals were 99 cent bags of Doritos or a frozen meal for about the same cost. But why would it come out so many years later? What is the subconscious, or maybe even the muse, trying to tell me?

Sounds insane and like a bunch of flubber bullshit but the fact remains that I keep making excuses for NOT sitting down and writing. Every time I do, I keep making excuses as to “Not knowing what to write about.” But this time was different. I had no idea what I wanted to blog about, but I just let it flow. It seems that when resistance has a strong hold of your work, it suffers a lot.. until you actually fight back and just act like a fool.

This doesn’t mean much, but I do believe there is a lesson in this 15 minutes I have sat down in front of the computer. The lesson seems to be that deep inside the subconscious mind there is a whole world of content, of art, of powerful words and memories that want to come out. I feel an isolation tank visit is in order to try and file all of the thoughts into some neat drawers. I think I know where I go forward from here with the writing I find so hard to let go of. My past, the story of who I was, where and how deep I went, and why I decided to crawl out has a powerful message for others. It’s time to let go of the fear of ridicule or looking like an ass. It’s time for me to let you know who I truly am and what I was, but hated and despised.

15 minutes and a whole new vision was released. I said my prayer to the muse before I started and they didn’t let me down. I see you’re back from your vacation. It was a long trip, I hope you stay for awhile.

Here is a post I wrote the other day I never really published: The Muse is on Vacation

Getting out of Writer’s Block

No idea.. No idea.. Nothing.. No words.. No Muse. Oh where art thou Muse?

I’m sitting alone in my 3 bedroom house with my dog lounging vertically on the loveseat we have dubbed “his couch”. He is the only one who ever really sits there. It’s in front of four different windows so he can see the farm across the street, but most of the time, the blinds are shut. Poor him.

On lunch now from my full time job. I wanted to write an epic blog post on how to get out of conformity but the muse was hiding again. It could be the result of the transdimensional aliens harboring my mind and shielding the creativity that seems to flee from most of us, most of the time. (Right. Hmm.)

Today I saw a picture of Hunter Thompson and Bill Murray on what I guess was a boat as the caption said “Hunter S Thompson & Bill Murray out on the open sea.” Damn.

I wish I could have hung out with Hunter for just one day. With Bill along for the ride, would’ve been priceless.

So, I’m on lunch eating a sausage chili my beautiful wife made with some Pink Himalayan Salt sprinkled within. Delicious. I stop at the end of every sentence so I can take a bite before it runs cold.

It’s not fun when the muse goes on vacation when there is work to be done. I often sit there wondering why. Why did you leave me again Mr. Muse? I have to write. And silently within you hear something that says “You don’t HAVE to write. You want to.”

True. But what am I supposed to do when the muse is nowhere to be seen and the itch of letting the words flow on the screen is driving me nuts?

Simple.

Just write, they say.

The more you think about it, the more it becomes hard. Harder to find a topic to write about. Harder to let the words flow steadily onto the post. So then, is it easier to just sit and not think about it?

No way. That gets you nowhere.

The best thing I found to do is simply write. About nothing at all and maybe it comes to something. I started talking about my dog and now I’m discussing how to get out of writer’s block. The main takeaway I am coming across here is to just write… about anything. Exactly what I said “they say” to do.

What might seem like incoherent dribble to some with no purpose, is pure gold to others. Can you see what I’m doing here?

I’m writing.

The words are coming out, and while they are sporadic in nature, there is a deep lesson to be learned. Especially from myself.

As I started out writing this post I knew I had a problem. The muse that lifts me to write is gone on vacation and I wanted to write. Suffocated with feelings of “writer’s block” I knew I had to listen to those who teach writing and to just write. So what I did was, I took my situation and setting and let it out onto the screen.

Sitting alone. 3 Bedroom House. Dog. Facts. These things are in front of me and what I’m doing and the best way, they say, to get out of writer’s block is to open up a new post or piece of paper and write about what you are doing, where you are, and what’s around you.

This is a great lesson, one I didn’t even know I would write about as I started. I just wanted to get words on the screen and what started as a description of where I am has turned into a lesson on HOW to get out of writer’s block. I didn’t even use a headline as I started. I knew, with writer’s block, the headline didn’t matter at first. What mattered was a bunch of useless description to get the juices flowing.