How To Break A Thinking Block

Thinking Block > Writer’s Block

“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.”

—John Rogers

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How’s That Working Out For You?

Jonathan Fields is one of my inspirational mentors; his emails help to keep me mentally ruddered. Definitely a good thing. His last email asked the “how’s that working out for you” question. It’s so important to use that question as a way to make sure you are doing what needs doing instead of stagnating.

To get out of stagnation, doing something crazy like skateboarding in Iceland (as seen in a brief image from the upcoming Secret Life of Walter Mitty) is highly recommended, at least once in a while.

So, what movie are YOU seeing over the holidays???walter mitty iceland

Assemble Your Hispanic Hedgehog Army and ASK

The crazy title of this post will be explained once you listen to a rah-rah audio post by the ever wonderful Erika Napoletano, who turns 41 today. She writes about business, entrepreneurship and the general shit that needs doing to light fires under people’s asses. For small consulting fees, she helps stack that kindling and light the match. She’s crass, blunt, and sweary, and I love her.

Her first audio post ever gets into the problem of having to wait a whole year to ask for what you REALLY want, the disillusionment of realizing you don’t really want more stuff, the stupidity of buying stuff just to have stuff or for a momentary feel-good second. She realizes that you can’t get what you want unless you step up and make a list, no matter what your age. The whole world is out there, waiting to be asked for.

(She also joyfully ends her sentences with prepositions and decides on the spot to dress up as a preposition for Halloween next year.)

The warble that comes in and out of her voice is so affecting. So affecting it made my tear ducts warble, too, even as I could hear her sniffling as she recorded. I love it because I am anything but a dickhead – Erika says so.

Happy Birthday, dear Erika.

ASSEMBLE THE HISPANIC HEDGEHOG ARMY!

hedgehog_elvis_sombrero_mexican

Hey, YOU: Put Your Baby Tights Back In The Drawer Already

I was listening to a little snippet from Chris Brogan today that spins the old adage, “we are our own worst enemies”. Chris is a huge proponent of YOU – the concept of YOU, the power of YOU, the superheroness of YOU.

It goes both ways: YOU can be believed in by friends, family, coworkers, and more. YOUr potential can be recognized far and wide. But, ultimately, the work still has to be done, by YOU. His SoundCloud track reminds YOU that self-babying practices should end – get out of YOUr own way, already.

One of Chris’s books is called “It’s Not About The Tights“; it was that image that made me think of “baby tights” versus superhero tights. Put on the latter and banish the former.

The “Tights” book shows that outward bravery comes from inner tools that can be built even by introverts like myself. That we all have bravery when we need it, and the ability to ignore the outside forces when they don’t matter. He’s a pretty awesome dude, in general, with a podcast that is both savvy for business folks as well as a touch of woo thrown in when he’s really connecting with his message for the day. Plus his biz is called “human business works”, so it shares the same gist as “andreaworks” – forward motion and progress.

How To Nudge Yourself, Part One

complimentMany people encounter speed bumps that slow us down, or could even stop us if we are already moving slowly, and nudging ourselves over that bump into forward motion is essential.

Here is one little tiny thing, the first of a series, that I’ve learned from many mentors in my personal life and out on the interwebs that will help the vault over that bump. Each tiny thing takes a few minutes or less, and could involve getting over some fear to execute. But each are worth it and if you have any of that niggling fear, just tell it to STFU and get the thing done.

ONE. Contact someone in your medium-celebrity list to tell them how much they mean to you.

Your ‘medium celebrity’ list is someone that you admire in a field you are learning, but not necessarily the top of the pile. Let’s say you’re an aspiring chef. Don’t contact Gordon Ramsey or Nobu or Thomas Keller, especially if you are very nervous. (Note – in some circumstances, you could contact the top tier, but that’s another topic…)

Contact a “four star” chef near you – if you live in Austin, it could be one of the Top Chef contestants that was eliminated in the middle of the show. Make sure it’s a chef that you have some personal experience with, like eating at their restaurant, or cooking one of their published recipes. Let them know you appreciate their effort thus far and you’ve really been enjoying their recipe for XX and you hope that they are having a wonderful season full of ideas and customers. Don’t ask for anything. Just drop a genuine compliment that contains a nugget of your own experience.

Do this every day for a week and just bask in the glow that seems to come from dishing out respect.

Yoga: Gateway [Drug] To Eastern Religion

“Are we teaching yoga in public schools now?” he asked. “Are parents notified?” – New Mexico state representative Alonzo Baldonado (R, but like you couldn’t guess THAT). He said these comments and more in a meeting of the Legislative Education Study Committee where he is a non-voting member, during a session meant to demonstrate things that educators are doing to combat obesity and assist in the general health of schoolkids. The committee studies current educational metrics in New Mexico and makes recommendations for funding or changes to educational law.

During the meeting, a local PE teacher was describing her stretching routine to help warm the kids up before engaging in other sports, and this is when Mr. Baldonado chose to speak saying that he, “didn’t go looking for a discussion on religion. It just came up.”

Never mind the fact that the state representative’s own children are home-schooled, far from the overly influencing realm of regular classrooms and gym class and stretching. Good for them (?). However, Mr. Baldonado is extremely concerned that other people’s kids will be exposed to non-Christian religious practices without their knowledge or consent of their parents.

Yoga for Westerners = Stretching in Tight Pants

Never mind the fact that yoga, as Westerners know it, has approximately zero to do with its own traditional roots. According to Mr. Baldonado, who has “nothing against Buddhism or Hinduism”, “yoga could be seen as a gateway to Eastern religion.”

I won’t spend this post talking about what might happen if, indeed, some kids became interested in Eastern religion, whether that interest was sparked by a book they read or a conversation at school or a television show or gym class stretching. Conversion from one religious thought system to another is rare and not my topic for today.

Instead, my topic is on yoga: Mr. Baldonado could use just a wee bit of schooling himself. On eastern religions, on Christianity’s hold on upbringing, on yogic traditions, and on physical activity as a contributor to mental/academic performance. But mostly on what in the heck it means when a person says, “yoga”.

Do YOU know what yoga’s traditional roots are? Do you know what yoga really means? Let’s do a brief overview, keeping in mind that I am not a trained scholar on the history of yogic practice. So this will be quick, and it will be assisted by other folks online who are better experts than I.

Yoga – the Driving Analogy

Calling the stretching and exercises that we as Westerners call yoga, “yoga”, is like calling your ignition key your car. The key is a tool, used in the whole process we call “driving from one place to another”. Other parts of the process are things like the car itself, the roads, your knowledge and experience with driving, how much you know about your destination, the traffic along the way, and even the mental decision that made you choose this destination and this day and this car to take you there. Whew.

Similarly, the whole system and concept and world of yoga is a journey and an education, with goals along the way, rules, guideposts, and teachers. A yoga teacher of mine likes to say that we “will never have a perfect pose or session or day – that is why you call it yoga practice!”

Yoga: the four letter word with eight parts

Eight limbs of yoga

What that tiny four letter word YOGA encompasses is EIGHT areas of focus that ultimately touch upon all of a person’s life:

  1. Yama: self-restraint. Otherwise known as not going overboard in a Western consumer kind of way.
  2. Niyama: introspection, self-study.
  3. Asana: activity, stretching, body alignment.
  4. Pranayama: breathing, study of breath.
  5. Pratyahara: quiet sitting, detachment from distractions.
  6. Dharana: calming the mind, preparing for #7.
  7. Dhyana: contemplation, meditation.
  8. Samadhi: bliss or enlightenment, or just plain feeling at one with everything.

THAT – all of it – is “the yoga”. What looks familiar? The word “posture” should have been a sign – it’s number 3 on the list. That is what most of us – we humans who go to yoga class and bend and twist and say hello to our friends and their new shiny yoga mats – do and call it yoga. From now on I will call what Mr. Baldonado and everyone else refer to as yoga by its name on the list: asana. (Asana is also referred to as “hatha yoga” – so if you go to a yoga studio that says they practice Hatha Yoga you can be sure that you’re getting…. yoga. Just like you expected. As opposed to a meditation studio or such.)

There is nothing wrong with asana all on its own. Physical movement, especially habitual daily patterns as is common with asana practice, is extremely good for us.

Most of the other steps and practices are also helpful in our cluttered lives: steadying your thoughts, breathing in different ways to enhance your desired goals (slow to calm down, forceful to awaken, et cetera), meditation. These are practices that would benefit nearly every human on the planet. Ok, I’ll go on a limb (har) and say it could benefit EVERY human.

And that’s nothing that a schoolkid’s parent should have to sign a consent form for.