Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sometimes, Life Hurts:

As I write this, I’m sitting in a small cafĂ© by the bay in New York City. After the subway got stuck in a tunnel and sat idle for over 20 minutes, I got off and ran to the bus-stop where I intended to travel back home for the weekend. When I frantically reached the platform, huffing and puffing and with fire in my eyes, the ticket manager could barely look me in the face as he told me I had missed the bus by only a few minutes.

There is an old saying “when life gives you lemons - make lemonade”. I’ll be honest; I didn’t think that at the time. I petitioned for a new slogan “when life gives you lemons, squeeze them in the eye of the closest person next to you”. I was a bit bummed by the unavoidable blunder but I soon focused on maintaining a mature mindset. So I set out to make use of the plentiful free time I found myself with.  Thankfully, I can catch the next departing bus in only a couple of hours and for only a small fee.

As I settled in and collected myself, I had an insight. I think you can relate:

Sometimes, it hurts.

It hurts when you miss your bus
It hurts when you run in the wrong direction
It hurts when you get your hopes up only to have them shot down
It hurts when you get laughed at or ridiculed
It hurts when you don’t say or do something because you’re afraid
It hurts when you hurt others
It hurts when people don’t return your calls or emails
It hurts when you fail, slip up, or make a mistake
It hurts when there’s too much work to be done
It hurts when you can’t practice what you preach
It hurts when you’re late for something important
It hurts when you love someone who doesn’t care much for you
It hurts when you feel like a stranger
It hurts when you get chastised or yelled at
It hurts when you need to do something you don’t want to
It hurts when you lose control
It hurts when people don’t appreciate your hard work
It hurts when you care for somebody more than they care for themselves
It hurts when people just don’t get it
It hurts when you try to do something nice but it crumbles to the ground
It hurts when you get abused, cheated, or lied to
It hurts when you’re stuck
It hurts when you’re out of luck
It hurts when you forget to duck
It hurts when you just don’t give a

Sometimes, life hurts.

But it’s worth it to BE positive when things don’t work out because, quite frankly, the alternative can really suck and make the situation a lot worse. Focus on a positive solution and never lose HOPE. Make one more effort and don’t give in. It's a thoughtful and proactive decision, deserving of recognition and applause.

Although, sometimes, there is nothing that can be done and you must helplessly watch as things transpire before your eyes. Incompetence can be a terrible feeling but take the hit. Face it boldly and keep on truckin’. You will get through it and there are good times around the bend.

Pain is temporary – it will pass.

Sometimes, it just takes some time.

Monday, November 19, 2012


“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways”

-Sigmund Freud

Basic physics teaches us that we cannot destroy energy. But what is energy? Scientific technicalities aside, (and for the sake of this article) energy is potential for human action. Force, drive, vitality; call it as you wish, but since you can’t destroy energy it can only be transformed or exerted into activity.

Traditionally, the term ANXIETY is defined as the feeling of worry, fear, dread, or uneasiness. I’m not a medical authority but I disagree. Anxiety is energy. Surely, once someone entertains their negative thoughts the energy is used to fuel bad feelings, but the charge itself isn’t harmful. Energy is not good or bad - it’s neutral. It is only when the charge is directed that it takes on a constructive or destructive purpose.

One of the most important techniques to develop in life is the ability to express oneself. Without expression, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions - all energy - don’t have an escape route and are trapped in the body. Human energy needs expression – to air out, if you will. If we try to suppress our energy chances are it will manifest itself somehow in some other area of our lives. And it is how this energy is expressed that will determine if the action is constructive or destructive.

If our body’s energy is not properly expressed it could have a detrimental affect on our emotional and physical wellbeing. If we don’t have the proper positive attitude, the energy will only fuel the opposite negative side of us. Instead of using our energies in the pursuit of happiness, knowledge, creativity, or to give, the force will feed brooding, fear, shame, and low self-esteem. These consequences will not only harm the mind but also the body. Negativity is known to zap the body’s energy and can make one feel lousy, sluggish, weak, and unmotivated. This is why many people sleep when they are depressed.

Caffeine, the most commonly used drug in the world, is well known for its stimulant effect. Somewhat of an illusion, caffeine gives people MORE energy and if this extra boost isn’t channeled properly the affects can be even more harmful. If your body is tense when you drink your morning coffee you may be in for a bad day. If your over-stimulated blood is not flowing freely through relaxed muscles it can cause tension, discomfort, irritability, and heart rhythm problems. This usually puts the person in a negative mindset and those bad thoughts will spiral down faster, stronger, and scarier. If this hyper-negativity isn’t stopped soon the extra energy may manifest itself in anger, destructive and irrational behavior, or sexual frustration. Since eating and swallowing increase the heart rate, your body will trick you into hunger and you may want to gorge yourself with food because the extra energy has nowhere to go and it wants out.

Fortunately, for many, there is a cure for this downward spiral. Positive thinking, relaxation, stretching, and light cardio can get the blood flowing freely. Personally, I do yoga throughout the day to relax and stay loose and I know others who hum, sing, dance, laugh, or meditate when they are feeling uncomfortably wired or anxious.

A not-so-close friend of mine once took a decent amount of the drug MDMA for “recreational use”. I ran into him about an hour later and he was clenching, grinding his teeth, and in a dramatic fit as he bemoaned how bad his life was. “My life sucks, I’m so depressed, I’m such a crack-head, My mother doesn’t love me…” He looked terrible. I immediately recognized what was happening. I ran over to him, sat him down, massaged his back and shoulders, and told him to get a grip. No more than a minute later he was glowing with bliss and radiating love and happiness! Clearly, he was so tense that the drug only made him more uncomfortable as he continued rolling down a dark road. He wouldn’t stop thanking me...

(This was to prove a point and wasn’t meant to offer a failsafe way to use narcotics. Drugs are bad. M’kay?)

Whether or not you use drugs (legal or illegal) our bodies need to express the energy that is running through our veins. Most importantly, the energy that comes from our minds – like from memories, feelings, and desires – must also be expressed in some form or another.

There are an innumerable amount of things that can be bugging us out in life: Our past, present, or future, friends and family, school, career, money, problems with our Spirituality and personal philosophy, depression, fear, war, love or lack of love, feelings of inadequacy, social issues, guilt, drama, addiction, boredom, facial acne, lack of direction, health issues, pain and past trauma, bereavement, not living up to our own expectations, obesity or eating disorders, resentment, troubles with the law, male pattern baldness, self mutilation, lack of justice, peer-pressure, hormones… The list goes on and on. (I purposely excluded “stress” because it is simply potential energy.)

Whether or not our troubles can be immediately fixed, they need to be EXPRESSED! We cannot allow them to swim around our psyches and zap up our ENERGY! We owe it to ourselves to free our minds from their constant bombardment and intrusion into our daily (and nightly) lives.

For as many problems that exist there are ways to express them. Whether using thought, speech, or action there is a way. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable speaking to a friend, family member, spouse, or therapist? So speak to yourself or your Higher Power or write it down. Can’t find the words? Hum, sing, paint it in a picture, or create music, food, or whatever from the emotions that you feel. Exercise, dance or go crazy. Boogie - woogie it out of you. Cry if you have to.  Personally, I enjoy writing but there have been times where I filled up whole stacks of papers with my junk and then burned them in a fire. Not everything we think has to be said and not everything we write needs to be published. Sometimes, things are private or scary or humiliating or gross. But we can still get it out of our mind’s eye without exposing the secrets of our Soul to society.

When we are painfully honest with ourselves and express  our deepest and darkest emotions, we can attain higher levels of our personality that were previously inaccessible. We can gain tremendous personal clarity and literally free up space in our brains for novel thoughts and ideas.

And if you’re really cool, you can catch yourself in a high-octane negative moment and reverse the charge by thinking, speaking, or acting positive with determination. The momentum will still be there and you can hit the ground running in a more positive direction. You can turn darkness into light and have it guide you through a great life.

Today is a New Day:

"But this is not my time to go
Grace has brought us another day
But if tomorrow were to bring my turn
What would I leave unsaid?
What would I leave undone?
What would I leave behind?"

 - String Cheese Incident 'SIRENS' 

Today is a new day with new opportunities:

To think
To speak
To act
To create
To exercise
To laugh
To be free
To be me
To believe in myself
To love myself
To care for myself
To trust myself
To introduce myself to myself
To have faith
To give thanks
To connect with friends and family
To connect with a community, a unit
To develop a lifestyle
To achieve or at least pursue my goals
To try new things
To express myself
To be happy and experience pleasure
To grow and feel good in the process
To love - to hope
To hope to love
To see what I am capable of 
To pursue knowledge, clarity, and understanding
To better myself
To face reality
To face my fears
To break barriers
To love - to give
To give to love
To contribute in conversation
To pray
To meditate
To break bad habits
To make good habits
To use my imagination
To reach out 
To get involved
To be a leader
To change the world
To realize who I am
To recognize who I am not
To identify with who I want to become
To find rhythm
To ask
To listen
To learn
To be aware 
To pursue my dreams, goals, and ambitions
To be responsible
To be positive
To give it one more shot
To make one more effort
To live life 


Have a great day :D

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Illusion of Age:

Age is a number that represents the amount of time someone has spent in this world. It in no way represents how much knowledge or experience one has gained during that period. Age does not equal capability.

I don't feel my age. I never have. Some-days I feel like I'm 35. Other days I feel as if I'm 95. On occasion, I feel 15 years old but never do I feel my age.

Awhile ago, in conversation, my mother told me something enlightening:

"Age is just a mindset," she said.

Truer words have never been spoken! Throughout the world there are men and women in their old age that run marathons, play with their grandchildren, and pretend to be young. They never stop embracing life. My friend’s 85 year old grandfather works daily, travels the world, and plays golf – he’s still got it.

The opposite is also true. I know teenagers and young adults that are as unproductive and incompetent as paralyzed patients in a nursing home, while others are innovators (think: Facebook) or on their way to become tomorrow's world leaders. Anthony Difruscia, who I recently interviewed for the magazine I write for, was elected Massachusetts State Representative at the young age of 26! Age is just a glorified detail of life that holds little to no importance unless you’re trying to buy alcohol or collect social security checks.

It's important to recognize that we have the power of choice. We may not be in control of all aspects of our lives but we can certainly choose how we live with them. By turning one’s desires into goals and actively pursuing their dreams, anyone can thrive in life regardless of age. Attitude is the key and nothing impedes growth more than thinking “I am still a child”.

So, what separates the men from the boys?


Keeping aware, learning from history's mistakes, and at least thinking about the advice of those who care about us can actually give us the experience without ever going through the motions. It streamlines the growth process, builds character, and can thwart avoidable setbacks in life.

So, keep an open mind and learn from everyone and everything. Even if what you learn is what NOT to do, that's half the battle…

Never hesitate to learn from a child. Sometimes their honesty and simplicity is what we really need in our lives.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

HIGH expectations -- LOW self esteem

“When you want more than you have
You think you need
And when you think more than you want
Your thoughts begin to bleed…
…Find a bigger place
‘cos when you have more than you think
You need more space…”

-Eddie Vedder’s ‘’Society’’

A mentor of mine relayed to me an insight from his brother, a prominent psychiatrist. He told me of a unique type of low self-esteem that is masked by over-achievement.

When one is too ambitious, yet does not live up to their own expectations, they feel deflated.

This can be tricky because we live in an ambitious society. Our world is amplified, fast paced, and in constant motion. We are living in the most advanced period in history. Along with this honor, privilege, and responsibility come the demands, expectations and pressures of keeping up with the “norm”. Everyone loves a challenge but it requires honesty, a constant balance, and the ability to yield in this supercharged society we all dwell in. While we should never UNDERESTIMATE ourselves, we cannot OVERESTIMATE ourselves either.

Similarly, another snafu can send us spiraling down the slippery slope of low self esteem: The Control Freak. If we expect to be in control of every aspect of our lives we will be harshly reminded that it is not so and if we set the bar unrealistically high we will feel unworthy due to our incompetence.

Chances are if you are ambitious you will achieve a lot in life. After all, it’s a great mindset to have! But it may not come on our terms or in our time-frames. In this fast paced society, we want results and we want them quickly but we may be jumping the gun. As crazy as it sounds we may not be able to handle our own dreams. That is the beauty of growth – it sticks. It would be foolish to run a marathon without training properly or attempt to ace a test without studying. One does not simply BECOME president of the United States (although it sure seems like it sometimes!). One may have the potential but it requires more to transform qualifications into actuality. To turn our dreams into reality.

In our “All or Nothing” society, it is important to remember that every advancement made, in any area of life, builds our capacity for greater things. Perhaps it’s building stamina, endurance, or experience and is turning you into a more capable man or woman. Maybe it’s emotional weightlifting that is opening new channels within your psyche and personality. Think of it as a chance to prove that you can do it.

Surely, this is all hypothesis and theory and like many things in life, cannot be validated. We can’t fully understand life but we can try. It all starts by customizing our own lives with the tips, tricks, tools and techniques that we all pick up along the way.